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Communications

Calif. Court Rules Businesses Must Reimburse Cell Phone Bills 144

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-stop-calling-her-from-work dept.
New submitter dszd0g writes The Court of Appeal of the State of California has ruled in Cochran v. Schwan's Home Service that California businesses must reimburse employees who BYOD for work. "We hold that when employees must use their personal cell phones for work-related calls, Labor Code section 2802 requires the employer to reimburse them. Whether the employees have cell phone plans with unlimited minutes or limited minutes, the reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of their cell phone bills." Forbes recommends businesses that require cell phone use for employees either provide cell phones to employees or establish forms for reimbursement, and that businesses that do not require cell phones establish a formal policy.
Education

Professor Steve Ballmer Will Teach At Two Universities This Year 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the teaching!-teaching!-teaching! dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "When Steve Ballmer announced he was stepping down from Microsoft's board of directors, he cited a fall schedule that would "be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season." It turns out Ballmer will teach an MBA class at Stanford's Graduate School of Business in the fall, and a class at USC's Marshall School of Business in the spring. Helen Chang, assistant director of communications at Stanford's Business School, told Business Insider that Ballmer will be working with faculty member Susan Athey for a strategic management course called "TRAMGT588: Leading organizations." As for the spring semester, Ballmer will head to Los Angeles — closer to where his Clippers will be playing — and teach a course at University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. We reached out to the Marshall School, which declined to offer more details about Ballmer's class.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF's Cell Phone Guide For US Protesters 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-not-use-your-cell-phone-as-a-projectile-weapon dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has updated its guide for protecting yourself and your cell phone at a protest. In addition to being extremely powerful tools (real-time communication to many watchers via social media, and video recording functionality), cell phones can also give authorities a lot of information about you if they confiscate it. The EFF is trying to encourage cell phone use and prepare people to use them. (The guide is based on U.S. laws, but much of the advice makes sense for other places as well.) Here are a few small snippets: "Start using encrypted communications channels. Text messages, as a rule, can be read and stored by your phone company or by surveillance equipment in the area. ... If the police ask to see your phone, tell them you do not consent to the search of your device. Again, since the Supreme Court's decision in Riley, there is little question that officers need a warrant to access the contents of your phone incident to arrest, though they may be able to seize the phone and get a warrant later. ... If your phone or electronic device was seized, and is not promptly returned when you are released, you can file a motion with the court to have your property returned."
Communications

Email Is Not Going Anywhere 235

Posted by Soulskill
from the give-me-smtp-or-give-me-death dept.
An anonymous reader writes: It seems the latest trend sweeping the online world is the idea that email is on its way out. Kids are eschewing email for any of the hundreds of different instant messaging services, and startups are targeting email as a system they can "disrupt." Alexis C. Madrigal argues that attempts to move past email are shortsighted and faddish, as none of the alternatives give as much power to the user. "Email is actually a tremendous, decentralized, open platform on which new, innovative things can and have been built. In that way, email represents a different model from the closed ecosystems we see proliferating across our computers and devices. Email is a refugee from the open, interoperable, less-controlled 'web we lost.' It's an exciting landscape of freedom amidst the walled gardens of social networking and messaging services." Madrigal does believe that email will gradually lose some of its current uses as new technologies spring up and mature, but the core functionality is here to stay.
Japan

Telegram Not Dead STOP Alive, Evolving In Japan STOP 144

Posted by samzenpus
from the old-school dept.
itwbennett writes Japan is one of the last countries in the world where telegrams are still widely used. A combination of traditional manners, market liberalization and innovation has kept alive this age-old form of messaging. Companies affiliated with the country's three mobile carriers, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and SoftBank, offer telegrams, which are sent via modern server networks instead of the dedicated electrical wires of the past (Morse telegraphy hasn't been used since 1962), and then printed out with modern printers instead of tape glued on paper. But customers are still charged according to the length of the message, which is delivered within three hours. A basic NTT telegram up to 25 characters long can be sent for ¥440 ($4.30) when ordered online.
The Internet

Writer: Internet Comments Belong On Personal Blogs, Not News Sites 299

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-godwin dept.
sixoh1 writes: Nicholas Jackson at Pacific Standard suggests that internet comments are permanently broken (in response to an issue Jezebel is having with violent misogynist GIFs and other inappropriate commentary). He argues that blogs are a good-enough solution to commentary and dialog across the internet. "They belong on personal blogs, or on Twitter or Tumblr or Reddit, where individuals build a full, searchable body of work and can be judged accordingly."

This seems to hold true for most broad-interest sites like newspapers and magazines where comments can be downright awful, as opposed to sites like Slashdot with a self-selected and somewhat homogeneous audience. It seems unlikely that using only blogs for responsive dialog with authors and peers could come close to matching the feedback and community feel of comments such as we see here. Is there a technical solution, or is this a biological problem imposed on the internet?
Communications

Gmail Now Rejects Emails With Misleading Combinations of Unicode Characters 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-look-forward-to-being-caught-in-your-new-web dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Google today announced it is implementing a new effort to thwart spammers and scammers: the open standard known as Unicode Consortium's "Highly Restricted" specification. In short, Gmail now rejects emails from domains that use what the Unicode community has identified as potentially misleading combinations of letters. The news today follows Google's announcement last week that Gmail has gained support for accented and non-Latin characters. The company is clearly okay with international domains, as long as they aren't abused to trick its users.
Math

About Half of Kids' Learning Ability Is In Their DNA 227

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-cards dept.
Taco Cowboy writes with this story about new research that finds a strong genetic component to a child's ability in math and reading. "You may think you're better at reading than you are at math (or vice versa), but new research suggests you're probably equally good (or bad) at both. The reason: The genes that determine a person's ability to tackle one subject influence their aptitude at the other, accounting for about half of a person's overall ability. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, used nearly 1,500 pairs of 12-year-old twins to tease apart the effects of genetic inheritance and environmental variables on math and reading ability. The researchers administered a set of math and verbal tests to the children and then compared the performance of different sets of twins. They found that the twins' scores — no matter if they were high or low — were twice as similar among pairs of identical twins as among pairs of fraternal twins. The results indicated that approximately half of the children's math and reading ability stemmed from their genetic makeup.

A complementary analysis of unrelated kids corroborated this conclusion — strangers with equivalent academic abilities shared genetic similarities. What's more, the genes responsible for math and reading ability appear to be numerous and interconnected, not specifically targeted toward one set of skills. These so-called 'generalist genes' act in concert to determine a child's aptitude across multiple disciplines. The finding that one's propensities for math and reading go hand in hand may come as a surprise to many, but it shouldn't. People often feel that they possess skills in only one area simply because they perform slightly worse in the other."
Spam

Memo to Users: SpamCop Winding Down Webmail Service 44

Posted by timothy
from the not-the-whole-company-mind-you dept.
LuserOnFire (175383) writes with word that on Saturday SpamCop users received an email that says in part: "For over 12 years, Corporate Email Services has been partnering with SpamCop to provide webmail service with spam filtering via the SpamCop Email System for our users. Back then, spam filtering was rare. We heard story after story about how our service rescued people from unfiltered email. Nowadays, webmail service with spam filtering has become the norm in the general public. As such, the need for the webmail service with SpamCop filtered email has decreased. Due to these reasons, we have decided to retire the SpamCop Email System and its webmail service; while SpamCop will continue to focus on providing the World's best spam reporting platform and blacklist for the community. As of September 30, 2014 (Tuesday) 6pm ET, the current SpamCop Email service will be converted to email forwarding-only with spam filtered by SpamCop for all existing SpamCop Email users."
Censorship

Clever Workaround: Visual Cryptography On Austrian Postage Stamps 74

Posted by timothy
from the stamp-everything-with-tlldr dept.
An anonymous reader writes Have you heard of personalized postage stamps? You pay the value of the stamps plus a fee and the post office prints official stamps usable for postage which show (almost) anything you can put into a jpeg file. An Austrian Tibet supporter found out what 'almost' means. He submitted a picture of the Dalai Lama with the text 'His Holiness the Dalai Lama,' but the Austrian post office refused to produce these stamps. Stampnews and the Neue Zuercher Zeitung (autotranslation) reported that this had been due to pressure from the Chinese embassy in Vienna. Now there is a video showing how visual cryptography has been used to get around this attempt at censorship [caution: organ music] .
Medicine

E-Visits To the Doctor To Top 75 Million In the US, Canada This Year 35

Posted by timothy
from the billing-codes-had-to-catch-up dept.
Lucas123 (935744) writes "Telehealth medicine, or communicating remotely with patients through electronic means, will be used by nearly one in six North Americans this year, according to Deloitte. With an aging Baby Boomer population and a growing shortage of primary care physicians, electronic visits (eVisits) reduce both time and cost in treating common ailments. The overall cost of in-person primary physician visits worldwide is $175 billion. Globally, the number of eVisits will climb to 100 million this year, potentially saving over $5 billion when compared to the cost of in-person doctor visits. Last November, The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) revamped its patient portal, renaming it MyUPMC, and rolling out AnywhereCare, offering patients throughout Pennsylvania eVisits with doctors 24 hours a day, seven days a week either over the phone or through video conferencing. The service offers a 30-minute or less wait time and saves the hospital system more than $86 per patient over a traditional visit."
Communications

FCC Mandates Text-to-911 From All US Wireless Carriers 80

Posted by timothy
from the coming-from-inside-the-house dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to require all U.S. wireless carriers and popular messaging applications to support texting to emergency response units via 911. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile implemented this capability back in 2012; the FCC's vote will make it mandatory for all carriers that operate in the country as well as all messaging applications that interconnect with the SMS structure in the U.S. to follow suit. One technological hurdle this mandate faces is the difficulty of tracing "the exact physical origin of a text message, particularly in residences with multiple floors."" Somehow I doubt that cellphone calls are consistently traceable to that degree, either, and I've lived in houses with extensions spread over several floors, too.
Television

NFL Fights To Save TV Blackout Rule Despite $9 Billion Revenue 216

Posted by timothy
from the why-I-always-miss-the-quidditch-matches dept.
An anonymous reader writes with word of new movement on an old front: namely, the rule that makes it hard for sports fans to see coverage of local teams. The 39-year-old blackout rule basically "prevents games from being televised locally when tickets remain unsold." The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in response to a 2011 petition by consumers, has decided to consider abolishing this rule. The National Football League (NFL) has of course objected, claiming that the rule allows it to keep airing their games on free TV. If that were to change and they would have to move to cable, they argue, the "result would represent a substantial loss of consumer welfare." In their petition to the FCC, consumers point out that the NFL charges "exorbitant prices for tickets" which results in lower attendance. The blackout rule, they claim, therefore punishes fans by preventing them from watching the game if the NFL can't sell enough stadium tickets. NFL yearly profits reportedly number in the billions. Even if the FCC supports the petition, however, sports leagues can and probably will privately negotiate blackouts to boost their revenue.
Censorship

Russia Cracks Down On Public Wi-Fi; Oracle Blocks Java Downloads In Russia 254

Posted by timothy
from the interesting-times dept.
Linking to a story at Reuters, reader WilliamGeorge writes "Russia is further constraining access to the internet and freedom of speech, with new laws regarding public use of WiFi. Nikolai Nikiforov, the Russian Communications Minister, tweeted that "Identification of users (via bank cards, cell phone numbers, etc.) with access to public Wifi is a worldwide practice." This comes on top of their actions recently to block websites of political opponents to Russian president Vladimir Putin, require registration of prominent bloggers, and more. The law was put into effect with little notice and without the input of Russian internet providers. Sergei Plugotarenko, head of the Russian Electronic Communications Association, said "It was unexpected, signed in such a short time and without consulting us." He added, "We will hope that this restrictive tendency stops at some point because soon won't there be anything left to ban." In addition to the ID requirement to use WiFi, the new law also requires companies to declare who is using their web networks and calls for Russian websites to store their data on servers located in Russia starting in 2016." That's not the only crackdown in progress, though: former Slashdot code-wrestler Vlad Kulchitski notes that Russian users are being blocked from downloading Java with an error message that reads, in essence, "You are in a country on which there is embargo; you cannot download JAVA." Readers at Hacker News note the same, though comments there indicate that the block may rely on a " specific and narrow IP-block," rather than being widespread. If you're reading this from Russia, what do you find?
Communications

Skype Blocks Customers Using OS-X 10.5.x and Earlier 267

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-for-you dept.
lurker412 writes Yesterday, and without previous warning, all Mac users running Leopard or earlier versions of OS-X have been locked out of Skype. Those customers are given instructions to update, but following them does not solve the problem. The Skype Community Forum is currently swamped with complaints. A company representative active on the forum said "Unfortunately we don't currently have a build that OS X Leopard (10.5) users could use" but did not answer the question whether they intend to provide one or not.
Cloud

Microsoft Tip Leads To Child Porn Arrest In Pennsylvania 353

Posted by timothy
from the looking-looking-everywhere dept.
Shades of the recent arrest based on child porn images flagged by Google in an email, mrspoonsi writes A tip-off from Microsoft has led to the arrest of a man in Pennsylvania who has been charged with receiving and sharing child abuse images. It flagged the matter after discovering that an image involving a young girl had been allegedly saved to the man's OneDrive cloud storage account. According to court documents, the man was subsequently detected trying to send two illegal pictures via one of Microsoft's live.com email accounts. Police arrested him on 31 July.
Communications

Gmail Recognizes Addresses Containing Non-Latin Characters 149

Posted by timothy
from the germanic-frankish-anything dept.
An anonymous reader writes In response to the creation in 2012 by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) of "a new email standard that supports addresses incorporating non-Latin and accented Latin characters", Google has now made it possible for its Gmail users to "send emails to, and receive emails from, people who have these characters in their email addresses." Their goal is to eventually allow its users to create Gmail addresses utilizing these characters.
Networking

Verizon Throttles Data To "Provide Incentive To Limit Usage" 316

Posted by timothy
from the tell-me-more-about-the-word-unlimited dept.
An anonymous reader writes About a week ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked for Verizon's justification on its policy of throttling users who pay for unlimited data usage. "I know of no past Commission statement that would treat 'as reasonable network management' a decision to slow traffic to a user who has paid, after all, for 'unlimited' service," the FCC wrote. In its response, Verizon has indicated that its throttling policy is meant to provide users with an incentive to limit their data usage. The company explained that "a small percentage of the customers on these [unlimited] plans use disproportionately large amounts of data, and, unlike subscribers on usage-based plans, they have no incentive not to do so during times of unusually high demand....our practice is a measured and fair step to ensure that this small group of customers do not disadvantage all others."
The Internet

Ushahidi Helps Track Everything From Election Violence to Oil Spills (Video) 18

Posted by Roblimo
from the crowdsourcing-at-its-finest dept.
Wikipedia says, "Ushahidi, Inc. is a non-profit software company that develops free and open-source software (LGPL) for information collection, visualization, and interactive mapping. Ushahidi (Swahili for 'testimony' or 'witness') created a website in the aftermath of Kenya's disputed 2007 presidential election (see 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis) that collected eyewitness reports of violence reported by email and text message and placed them on a Google Maps map." Ushahidi has also been used to map some of the BP oil spill damage in Louisiana and many other events both positive and negative around the globe. This is a mature project, headquarted in Kenya, that recently spun out the BRCK, a "go anywhere, do anything, self-powered, mobile WiFi device," which looks like it would be useful in bringing Internet connectivity to places where the electricity supply is unreliable. || According to Ushahidi, today's interviewee, Rob Baker, "is responsible for overseeing company deliverables and is a lead on communications strategies. Previously, with a 10-year background in software development and with his field experience for aid programs, Rob was a lead for Ushahidi deployments around the world, primarily working in East Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. He’s spoken at the United Nations, World Bank, government, hackathons, and at technical conferences." (Alternate Video Link)

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