Hallie Siegel writes: The release last week of the study on adverse events in robotic surgery led to much discussion on the safety and effectiveness of robotic surgical procedures. MIT Sloane's Matt Beane argues that while the hope is that this dialogue will mean safer and more effective robotic procedures in the future, the intense focus on safety and effectiveness has compromised training opportunities for new robotic surgeons, who require many hours of 'live' surgical practice time to develop their skills. Beane says that robotic surgery will likely continue to expand in proportion to other methods, given that it allows fewer surgeons to perform surgery with less trauma to the patient, but no matter how safe we make robotic surgical procedures, they will become a luxury available to a very few if we fail to address the sustainability of the practice.
SlappingOysters writes: This article takes a closer look at the emerging crowdfunding platform Sprked, which aims to follow the Patreon support model, but exclusively for video game modders. The service is currently in its early stages, but by crafting a system of appreciation and support that acknowledges the loyalty of the modding community, Sprked has the potential to promote and foster the creativity that is so integral to modding, instead of hampering it with the murky baggage of a mandatory economy. Valve's attempt to let modders make some money for their efforts backfired within the community — there are four demons the paid mods plan must slay to actually work.
An anonymous reader writes: The MPEG LA has announced a call for patents essential to the Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (or DASH) standard. According to the MPEG LA's press release, "Market adoption of DASH technology standards has increased to the point where the market would benefit from the availability of a convenient nondiscriminatory, nonexclusive worldwide one-stop patent pool license." The newly formed MPEG-DASH patent pool's licensing program will allegedly offer the market "efficient access to this important technology."
An anonymous reader writes: An industry insider has told Business Insider of his conviction that ad-serving companies deliberately prolong the 'auctioning' process for ad spots when a web-page loads. They do this to maximize revenue by allowing automated 'late-comers' to participate beyond the 100ms limit placed on the decision-making process. The unnamed source, a principal engineer at a global news company (whose identity and credentials were confirmed by Business Insider), concluded with the comment: "My entire team of devs and testers mostly used Adblock when developing sites, just because it was so painful otherwise." Publishers use 'daisy-chaining' to solicit bids from the most profitable placement providers down to the 'B-list' placements, and the longer the process is run, the more likely that the web-page will be shown with profitable advertising in place.
HughPickens.com writes: Keith Collins writes at Quartz that the going rate for a stolen identity is about twenty bucks on the internet black market. Collins analyzed hundreds of listings for a full set of someone's personal information—identification number, address, birthdate, etc., known as "fullz" that were put up for sale over the past year, using data collected by Grams, a search engine for the dark web. The listings ranged in price from less than $1 to about $450, converted from bitcoin. The median price for someone's identity was $21.35. The most expensive fullz came from a vendor called "OsamaBinFraudin," and listed a premium identity with a high credit score for $454.05. Listings on the lower end were typically less glamorous and included only the basics, like the victim's name, address, social security number, perhaps a mother's maiden name. Marketplaces on the dark web, not unlike eBay, have feedback systems for vendors ("cheap and good A+"), refund policies (usually stating that refunds are not allowed), and even well-labeled sections. "There is no shortage of hackers willing to do about anything, computer related, for money," writes Elizabeth Clarke. "and they are continually finding ways to monetize personal and business data."
itwbennett writes: A new (tentative) global trade agreement, struck on Friday at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva, eliminates tariffs on more than 200 kinds of IT products, ranging from smartphones, routers, and ink cartridges to video game consoles and telecommunications satellites. A full list of products covered was published by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which called the ITA expansion 'great news for the American workers and businesses that design, manufacture, and export state-of-the-art technology and information products, ranging from MRI machines to semiconductors to video game consoles.' The deal covers $1.3 trillion worth of global trade, about 7 percent of total trade today. The deal has approval from 49 countries, and is waiting on just a handful more before it becomes official,
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has levied a record fine against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to punish them for failing to adequately recall and fix defective cars. (If Fiat sounds familiar, it's the same company that issued a 1.4 million-vehicle recall on Friday over a remote hack.) The NHTSA's $105 million fine is half-again as much as the next biggest fine (given to Honda last year over faulty airbags). Fiat Chrysler "admitted to violating federal rules requiring timely recalls and notifications to vehicle owners, dealers and regulators." The company will be forced to buy back hundreds of thousands of vehicles (at the owners' discretion, of course) that have problems with the suspension that could lead to a loss of control. A million more Jeep owners will be given a chance to trade in their vehicle at a higher rate than market value because of rear-mounted gas tanks that are prone to catching fire.
New submitter Amarjeet Singh writes: Dmail is a Chrome extension developed by the people behind Delicious, the social bookmarking app/extension. This extension allows you to set a self-destruct timer on your emails. You can use Dmail to send emails from Gmail as usual, but you will now have a button which can set an self destruct timer of an hour, a day or a week. Dmail claims it will also unlock a feature that won't allow forwarding, meaning only the person you sent your message to will be able to see it.
An anonymous reader writes: Reuters has an update on the Winklevoss twins plan to launch a regulated Bitcoin exchange called Gemini. The two have filed a New York trust application necessary for them to launch their Gemini bitcoin exchange. If approved, the exchange would be able to accept deposits, and issue loans. The twins say they want to make digital currency mainstream in the United States.
An anonymous reader writes: Nike and co-defendant Apple have reached an agreement to settle a class action suit that alleged false advertising from the two companies indicating that the FuelBand fitness watch had capabilities to track health. The two companies agreed that Nike would pay $2.4 million out to customers who purchased a FuelBand between January 19, 2012 and June 17, 2015. Apple was a co-defendant in the case, but only Nike has been found liable for falsely advertising the wristband.
An anonymous reader writes: The HEVC Advance patent pool has announced the royalty rates for their patent license for HEVC (aka H.265) video. HEVC users must pay these fees in addition to the license fees payable to the competing MPEG LA HEVC patent pool. With HEVC Advance's fees targeting 0.5% of content owner revenue which could translate to licensing costs of over $100M a year for companies like Facebook and Netflix, Dan Rayburn from Streaming Media advocates that "content owners band together and agree not to license from HEVC Advance" in the hope that "HEVC Advance will fail in the market and be forced to change strategy, or change their terms to be fair and reasonable." John Carmack, Oculus VR CTO, has cited the new patent license as a reason to end his efforts to encode VR video with H.265.
TechDirt reports that the state of Georgia is unhappy enough with Carl Malamud for publishing the state's own laws that it's sued Malamud for doing so. From the article: The specific issue here is that while the basic Georgia legal code is available to the public, the state charges a lot of money for the "Official Code of Georgia Annotated." The distinction here is fairly important -- but it's worth noting that the courts will regularly rely on the annotations in the official code, which more or less makes them a part of the law itself. The article uses the word "ridiculous" only 10 times; they're taking it easy on the poor legislators.
farrellj writes: A class action suit has been filed by the Taxi and Limo drivers and owners in the Province of Ontario in Canada against Uber, demanding CAN$400 million in compensatory damages, $10 million in punitive damages. They claim Uber is violating the Ontario Highway Traffic Act that covers taxis and limos, and has caused them to lose money. They also seek an injunction against Uber operating in Ontario. "This protectionist suit is without merit," Uber said in a statement. "As we saw from a recent court ruling in Ontario, Uber is operating legally and is a business model distinct from traditional taxi services."
Nerval's Lobster writes: Imagine a couple of employees at your company create a spreadsheet that lists their salaries. They place the spreadsheet on an internal network, where other employees soon add their own financial information. Within a day, the project has caught on like wildfire, with people not only listing their salaries but also their bonuses and other compensation-related info. While that might sound a little far-fetched, that's exactly the scenario that recently played out at Google, according to an employee, Erica Baker, who detailed the whole incident on Twitter. While management frowned upon employees sharing salary data, she wrote, "the world didn't end everything didn't go up in flames because salaries got shared." For years, employees and employers have debated the merits (and drawbacks) of revealing salaries. While most workplaces keep employee pay a tightly guarded secret, others have begun fiddling with varying degrees of transparency, taking inspiration from studies that have shown a higher degree of salary-related openness translates into happier workers. (Other studies (PDF) haven't suggested the same effect.) Baker claims the spreadsheet compelled more Google employees to ask and receive "equitable pay based on data in the sheet."
theodp writes: Asked by the NY Times if Silicon Valley is saving the world or just making money, Melinda Gates replied, "I can say without a doubt — because I've seen it — that some of them [SV companies] are innovating in ways that make life better for billions of people." As an example, BillG's better half suggests that a handful of Facebook engineers have solved one of education's biggest problems with their 20% time project at billionaire-backed Summit Public Schools, a small charter school operator. Gates writes, "One of the biggest problems in American education is that teachers have to teach 30 students with different learning styles at the same time. Developers at Facebook, however, have built an online system that gives teachers the information and tools they need to design individualized lessons. The result is that teachers can spend their time doing what they're best at: inspiring kids." Some people — like the late Roger Ebert — might not be quite as impressed as Melinda to see Silicon Valley trying to reinvent the 1960's personalized-learning-wheel in 2015!
An anonymous reader writes: 19-year-old Thomas Sohmers, who launched his own supercomputer chip startup back in March, has won a DARPA contract and funding for his company. Rex Computing, is currently finishing up the architecture of its final verified RTL, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The new Neo chips will be sampled next year, before moving into full production in mid-2017.The Platform reports: "In addition to the young company’s first round of financing, Rex Computing has also secured close to $100,000 in DARPA funds. The full description can be found midway down this DARPA document under 'Programming New Computers,' and has, according to Sohmers, been instrumental as they start down the verification and early tape out process for the Neo chips. The funding is designed to target the automatic scratch pad memory tools, which, according to Sohmers is the 'difficult part and where this approach might succeed where others have failed is the static compilation analysis technology at runtime.'"
An anonymous reader sends news that Eddie Tipton, a man who worked for the Multi-State Lottery Association, has been convicted of rigging a computerized lottery game so he could win the $14 million jackpot. Tipton wrote a computer program that would ensure certain numbers were picked in the lottery game, and ran it on lottery system machines. He then deleted it and bought a ticket from a convenience store. Lottery employees are forbidden to play, so he tried to get acquaintances to cash the winning ticket for him. Unfortunately for him, Iowa law requires the original ticket buyer's name to be divulged before any money can be paid out.
The BBC reports that Toshiba president and chief executive Hisao Tanaka, along with vice-chairman Norio Sasaki, former chief executive Atsutoshi Niched, and six other executives, has resigned from the company in the wake of an accounting scandal: On Monday, an independent panel appointed by Toshiba said the firm had overstated its operating profit by a total of 151.8bn yen ($1.22bn, £780m). The overstatement was roughly triple an initial estimate by Toshiba. Asia Times has an article that delves into the pressure which drove Tanaka and others to misstate their revenue figures so drastically. From that piece: Top management and the heads of in-house companies acted on “the shared goal of padding nominal profits,” the report said. President Hisao Tanaka and immediate predecessor Norio Sasaki, now vice chairman, denied intentionally delaying loss-booking, but those who worked below them thought they were being instructed to do so, according to the report. Top management would assign “challenges,” or earnings improvement targets, at monthly meetings with the heads of in-house companies and subsidiaries. These targets were especially aggressive in fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012, when Sasaki was president. In-house company chiefs felt enormous pressure to meet the goals, the committee concluded. After the announcement of Tanaka's resignation, the company's stock actually rose six percent. CNBC explains: Getting the bad news out appears to have eased investors' concerns about the stock. "The total problem has been quantified and there's a likely chance the CEO will have to quit. That's been seen as the end of that," said Amir Anvarzadeh, director of Japan equity sales at BGC Securities.