Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters (2024)

Table of Contents
Paramount Agrees To Merge With Skydance In $8 Billion Deal, Ending Redstone Era (cnbc.com) 4 HP Discontinues Online-Only LaserJet Printers Amid Backlash - Instant Ink Subscription Gets the Boot, Too (tomshardware.com) 30 Insurers Pocketed $50 Billion From Medicare for Diseases No Doctor Treated86 Is AirBNB Really Worsening the Housing Crisis? (bbc.com) 131 UK Tech Overtakes China as World's Second Largest Country for Startup Funding Raised (fortune.com) 4 Shipt's Pay Algorithm Squeezed Gig Workers. They Fought Back (ieee.org) 35 New Research Finds America's EV Chargers Are Just 78% Reliable (and Underfunded) (hbs.edu) 212 FreeBSD Contributor Mocks Gloomy Predictions for the Open Source Movement (acm.org) 89 Amid Whistleblower Complaints, Boeing Buys Spirit, Ending Outsourcing of Key Work on Planes (apnews.com) 32 Investors Pour $27.1 Billion into AI Startups, Defying a Downturn (msn.com) 17 Stolen Campaign Lawn Signs Tracked with Hidden Apple AirTags (businessinsider.com) 79 Christie's Likens Microsoft's Work On MS-DOS To Einstein's Work In Physics109 Nvidia Forecasted To Make $12 Billion Selling GPUs In China (theregister.com) 4 Popular Pirate Site Animeflix Shuts Down 'Voluntarily' (torrentfreak.com) 13 Samsung Stock Hits Three-Year High With Boost From AI (cnbc.com) 4 Amazon Injects Ads Into Fire TV Downtime (cordcuttersnews.com) 37 Eton Replaces First-Year Student Smartphones With Nokia 'Brick' Phones (businessinsider.com) 53 Half of Petrol Stations Expected To Close in Next Decade (dutchnews.nl) 113 Federal Judge Partially Blocks US Ban On Noncompetes (npr.org) 135 Microsoft Lays Off Employees in New Round of Cuts (geekwire.com) 46 Slashdot References

Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

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Paramount Agrees To Merge With Skydance In $8 Billion Deal, Ending Redstone Era (cnbc.com) 4

Postedby BeauHD from the twists-and-turns dept.

Paramount Global has agreed to merge with Skydance in a significant deal that will see the Redstone family relinquish control of the storied movie studio and media company. The merger, valued at over $8 billion, involves a consortium including RedBird Capital Partners and KKR, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2025, subject to regulatory approval. CNBC reports: The deal gives National Amusem*nts an enterprise value of $2.4 billion, which includes $1.75 billion in equity. Paramount's class A shareholders will receive $23 apiece in cash or stock, while class B stockholders will receive $15 per share, equating to a cash consideration totaling $4.5 billion available to public shareholders. As part of the deal Skydance will also inject $1.5 billion of capital into Paramount's balance sheet. "It's a new Paramount; it's not just a catchphrase," said RedBird's Jeff Shell, former CEO of NBCUniversal, on a call with investors Monday. "We think it's going to be a new day for these combined assets."

Skydance founder David Ellison will lead the combined company as CEO, while Shell will serve as president. The merger is subject to regulatory approval and expected to close in the third quarter of 2025. It also includes a 45-day "go-shop period," in which the Paramount special committee can solicit other offers. A completed Skydance merger would mark a major shift for the ownership of Paramount, as well as for Hollywood as a whole. The Redstone family has long controlled the movie studio -- known for films such as "The Godfather," "Top Gun" and "Forrest Gump" -- as well as the CBS broadcast network and cable TV networks including MTV and Nickelodeon. Now, Ellison, 41, son of Oracle founder and billionaire Larry Ellison, will be at the helm of a major movie studio and among Hollywood's elite. "It's been a long time since a creative executive ran one of the big Hollywood companies," Shell said on Monday's call. "And I think it's really important when creative is the core."


HP Discontinues Online-Only LaserJet Printers Amid Backlash - Instant Ink Subscription Gets the Boot, Too (tomshardware.com) 30

Postedby msmash from the about-time dept.

An anonymous reader writes: Per a report from DruckerChannel, HP has finally been forced to discontinue its cheaper e-series LaserJet printers due to customers experiencing problems with their online-only and always tied to HP+ subscription requirements. Among other things, HP+ requires a permanent Internet connection, and customers only use HP-original ink and toners, not allowing for third-party alternatives to be used at all. There are benefits to HP+, including cloud printing and an extra year's warranty, but the forced online requirement for a cheaper printer left a bad taste in the mouths of many consumers.

In any case, it's important to clarify that this discontinuation of HP printers will only impact HP LaserJet printers that have an "e" added to the end of their model name to denote the alternative business model. So, the HP Laserjet M110w is unaffected by this, but the HP LaserJet M110we and M209dwe, two cheaper always-online alternatives, will no longer be produced or sold by HP. Another critical point of clarification is that the existing HP e-series LaserJet printer models in the wild will still function exactly as they did when they were purchased. No software updates are forthcoming to unlock the true potential of the hardware, so existing customers will have to deal with it and HP+ until they can replace their printers entirely. At least they'll still get HP+ benefits, but after such backlash, it'd be nice if HP acknowledged its mistake enough to remove some of the restrictions on e-series printer users.


Insurers Pocketed $50 Billion From Medicare for Diseases No Doctor Treated86

Postedby msmash from the closer-look dept.

A Wall Street Journal analysis has revealed that private insurers in the government's Medicare Advantage program, including UnitedHealth Group, have made numerous questionable diagnoses leading to increased taxpayer-funded payments between 2018 and 2021.

The investigation found instances where patients were diagnosed with conditions they did not have, such as diabetic cataracts and HIV, often without their knowledge. These diagnoses resulted in higher payments from Medicare to the insurers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said they are implementing changes to ensure "taxpayer dollars are appropriately spent." The story adds: In all, Medicare paid insurers about $50 billion for diagnoses added just by insurers in the three years ending in 2021, the Journal's analysis showed.

Is AirBNB Really Worsening the Housing Crisis? (bbc.com) 131

Postedby EditorDavid from the cheap-holiday-in-other-people's-misery dept.

An anonymous reader shared this report from the BBC:On 21 June, Barcelona mayor Jaume Collboni announced plans to ban short term rentals in the city starting in November 2028. The decision is designed to solve what Collboni described as "Barcelona's biggest problem" — the housing crisis that has seen residents and workers priced out of the market — by returning the 10,000 apartments currently listed as short-term rentals on Airbnb and other platforms into the housing market... It's all part of a wider theme: around the world. Airbnb — which dominates the short-term rental market with more than 50% of all online bookings — and others, including VRBO, Booking.com and Expedia.com, are being scrutinised at the same time as questions are being asked about who tourism is for, and where the balance lies between benefits for tourists and locals alike...

Recent years have seen a backlash against the brand, which is blamed for pushing up housing prices and affecting locals who feel they have been forced to live next door to unregulated hotels... The question is: does banning or restricting short-term rentals actually reduce housing prices or affect housing stock? Harvard Business Review's study on the impact of the New York City ban, published earlier this year, concluded that in this case, short term rentals are not the biggest contributor to high rents, and that regulations, rather than bans, would offer better benefits to the city and locals alike. One clear result from the city's ban has been that hotel room rates have hiked to a record average of $300 per night.

So why are tourism authorities and city councils doing it? Perhaps the real reason is that it's not just about the numbers, it's about how local people feel about tourism... Successful on paper or not, these bans send a signal to local people that politicians are listening to their concerns and will prioritise them over tourists. There is an alternative to outright bans, though. Many destinations, including Berlin, restrict owner-occupiers to a 90-day maximum rental period over a year, effectively allowing part-time hosts to continue to make a supplementary income while preventing professional hosts from buying up housing stock and turning it into full-time short-term rentals. The issue for all countries moving in this direction, including the UK, which proposes something similar, is about regulation. How do you do it and how much extra does it cost to do so?


UK Tech Overtakes China as World's Second Largest Country for Startup Funding Raised (fortune.com) 4

Postedby EditorDavid from the if-you-start-me-up dept.

"China may be the world's second-largest economy," writes Fortune's news editor, "but when it comes to startup funding, the U.K. is punching above its weight."Startups in the U.K. raised $6.7 billion in funding during the first half of 2024, helping dethrone China and propelling the U.K. to second place globally for funds raised, according to a new report. Crucial to the U.K.'s success were a dozen funding rounds worth over $100 million each, including those of digital bank Monzo ($620 million), lender Abound ($862 million), and automated driving startup Wayve ($1.05 billion).

While the overall U.K. figure was down 2% year on year, according to data from global market intelligence platform Tracxn, it remained more robust than that of China, whose funding sat at $6.1 billion in H1 2024, helping the U.K. move into the No. 2 spot globally. The win is a milestone for the U.K. tech sector, which has remained under pressure owing to a string of challenges, including Brexit, COVID-19, and the subsequent global economic slowdown.

Only the U.S. saw startups raise more capital in H1, with a combined $54.8 billion raised across some 2,654 funding rounds in the first half of the year.


The article's last line? "With the arrival of new U.K. Prime Minister Keir Starmer, many will be hoping that the first Labour government in 14 years will continue to support the U.K.'s position as a critical player in the global tech landscape."

Shipt's Pay Algorithm Squeezed Gig Workers. They Fought Back (ieee.org) 35

Postedby EditorDavid from the rage-against-the-algorithm dept.

Workers at delivery company Shipt "found that their paychecks had become...unpredictable," according to an article in IEEE Spectrum. "They were doing the same work they'd always done, yet their paychecks were often less than they expected. And they didn't know why...."

The article notes that "Companies whose business models rely on gig workers have an interest in keeping their algorithms opaque." But "The workers showed that it's possible to fight back against the opaque authority of algorithms, creating transparency despite a corporation's wishes."On Facebook and Reddit, workers compared notes. Previously, they'd known what to expect from their pay because Shipt had a formula: It gave workers a base pay of $5 per delivery plus 7.5 percent of the total amount of the customer's order through the app. That formula allowed workers to look at order amounts and choose jobs that were worth their time. But Shipt had changed the payment rules without alerting workers. When the company finally issued a press release about the change, it revealed only that the new pay algorithm paid workers based on "effort," which included factors like the order amount, the estimated amount of time required for shopping, and the mileage driven. The company claimed this new approach was fairer to workers and that it better matched the pay to the labor required for an order. Many workers, however, just saw their paychecks dwindling. And since Shipt didn't release detailed information about the algorithm, it was essentially a black box that the workers couldn't see inside.

The workers could have quietly accepted their fate, or sought employment elsewhere. Instead, they banded together, gathering data and forming partnerships with researchers and organizations to help them make sense of their pay data. I'm a data scientist; I was drawn into the campaign in the summer of 2020, and I proceeded to build an SMS-based tool — the Shopper Transparency Calculator [written in Python, using optical character recognition and Twilio, and running on a home server] — to collect and analyze the data. With the help of that tool, the organized workers and their supporters essentially audited the algorithm and found that it had given 40 percent of workers substantial pay cuts...

This "information asymmetry" helps companies better control their workforces — they set the terms without divulging details, and workers' only choice is whether or not to accept those terms... There's no technical reason why these algorithms need to be black boxes; the real reason is to maintain the power structure... In a fairer world where workers have basic data rights and regulations require companies to disclose information about the AI systems they use in the workplace, this transparency would be available to workers by default.


The tool's creator was attracted to the idea of helping a community "control and leverage their own data," and ultimately received more than 5,600 screenshots from over 200 workers. 40% were earning at least 10% less — and about 33% were earning less than their state's minimum wage. Interestingly, "Sharing data about their work was technically against the company's terms of service; astoundingly, workers — including gig workers who are classified as 'independent contractors' — often don't have rights to their own data...

"[O]ur experiment served as an example for other gig workers who want to use data to organize, and it raised awareness about the downsides of algorithmic management. What's needed is wholesale changes to platforms' business models... The battles that gig workers are fighting are the leading front in the larger war for workplace rights, which will affect all of us. The time to define the terms of our relationship with algorithms is right now."

Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader mspohr for sharing the article.

New Research Finds America's EV Chargers Are Just 78% Reliable (and Underfunded) (hbs.edu) 212

Postedby EditorDavid from the car-talk dept.

Harvard Business School has an "Institute for Business in Global Society" that explores the societal impacts of business. And they've recently published some new AI-powered research about EV charging infrastructure, according to the Institute's blog, conducted by climate fellow Omar Asensio.

"Asensio and his team, supported by Microsoft and National Science Foundation awards, spent years building models and training AI tools to extract insights and make predictions," using the reviews drivers left (in more than 72 languages) on the smartphone apps drivers use to pay for charging. And ultimately this research identified "a significant obstacle to increasing electric vehicle (EV) sales and decreasing carbon emissions in the United States: owners' deep frustration with the state of charging infrastructure, including unreliability, erratic pricing, and lack of charging locations..." [C]harging stations in the U.S. have an average reliability score of only 78%, meaning that about one in five don't work. They are, on average, less reliable than regular gas stations, Asensio said. "Imagine if you go to a traditional gas station and two out of 10 times the pumps are out of order," he said. "Consumers would revolt...." EV drivers often find broken equipment, making charging unreliable at best and simply not as easy as the old way of topping off a tank of gas. The reason? "No one's maintaining these stations," Asensio said.
One problem? Another blog post by the Institute notes that America's approach to public charging has differed sharply from those in other countries:In Europe and Asia, governments started making major investments in public charging infrastructure years ago. In America, the initial thinking was that private companies would fill the public's need by spending money to install charging stations at hotels, shopping malls and other public venues. But that decentralized approach failed to meet demand and the Biden administration is now investing heavily to grow the charging network and facilitate EV sales... "No single market actor has sufficient incentive to build out a national charging network at a pace that meets our climate goals," the report declared. Citing research and the experience of other countries, it noted that "policies that increase access to charging stations may be among the best policies to increase EV sales." But the U.S. is far behind other countries.
Thanks to Slashdot reader NoWayNoShapeNoForm for sharing the article.

FreeBSD Contributor Mocks Gloomy Predictions for the Open Source Movement (acm.org) 89

Postedby EditorDavid from the sharing-the-software dept.

In Communications of the ACM,/em>, long-time FreeBSD contributor Poul-Henning Kamp mocks the idea that the free and open-source software has "come apart" and "will end in tears and regret." Economists and others focused on money — like my bank — have had a lot of trouble figuring out the free and open source software (FOSS) phenomenon, and eventually they seem to have reached the conclusion that it just makes no sense. So, they go with the flow. Recently, very serious people in the FOSS movement have started to write long and thoughtful opinion pieces about how it has all come apart and will end in tears and regret. Allow me to disagree...
What follows is a humorous history of how the Open Source movement bested a series of ill-conceived marketing failures starting after the "utterly bad" 1980s when IBM had an "unimaginably huge monopoly" — and an era of vendor lock-in from companies trying to be the next IBM:Out of that utter market failure came Minix, (Net/Free/Open)BSD, and Linux, at a median year of approximately 1991. I can absolutely guarantee that if we had been able to buy a reasonably priced and solid Unix for our 32-bit PCs — no strings attached — nobody would be running FreeBSD or Linux today, except possibly as an obscure hobby. Bill Gates would also have had a lot less of our money...
The essay moves on to when "that dot-com thing happened, fueled by the availability of FOSS operating systems, which did a much better job than any operating system you could buy — not just for the price, but in absolute terms of performance on any given piece of hardware. Thus, out of utter market failure, the FOSS movement was born."

And ultimately, the essay ends with our present day, and the phenomenon of companies that "make a business out of FOSS or derivatives thereof..."The "F" in FOSS was never silent. In retrospect, it seems clear that open source was not so much the goal itself as a means to an end, which is freedom: freedom to fix broken things, freedom from people who thought they could clutch the source code tightly and wield our ignorance of it as a weapon to force us all to pay for and run Windows Vista. But the FOSS movement has won what it wanted, and no matter how much oldsters dream about their glorious days as young revolutionaries, it is not coming back; the frustrations and anger of IT in 2024 are entirely different from those of 1991.

One very big difference is that more people have realized that source code is a liability rather than an asset. For some, that realization came creeping along the path from young teenage FOSS activists in the late 1990s to CIOs of BigCorp today. For most of us, I expect, it was the increasingly crushing workload of maintaining legacy code bases...

Amid Whistleblower Complaints, Boeing Buys Spirit, Ending Outsourcing of Key Work on Planes (apnews.com) 32

Postedby EditorDavid from the that's-the-Spirit dept.

Monday Boeing announced plans to acquire its key supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, for $4.7 billion, according to the Associated Press — "a move that it says will improve plane quality and safety amid increasing scrutiny by Congress, airlines and the Department of Justice. Boeing previously owned Spirit, and the purchase would reverse a longtime Boeing strategy of outsourcing key work on its passenger planes."

But meanwhile, an anonymous reader shared this report from Newsweek:More than a hundred Boeing whistleblowers have contacted the U.S. aviation watchdog since the start of the year, Newsweek can reveal. Official figures show that the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) whistleblowing hotline has seen a huge surge of calls from workers concerned about safety problems. Since January the watchdog saw a total of 126 reports, via various channels, from workers concerned about safety problems. In 2023, there were just 11....

After a visit from FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker to a Boeing factory earlier in the year, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun agreed to share details of the hotline with all Boeing employees. The FAA told Newsweek that the number of Boeing employees coming forward was a "sign of a healthy culture".... Newsweek also spoke to Jon Holden, president of the 751 District for the International Association of Machinists, Boeing's largest union which represents more than 32,000 aerospace workers. Holden said that numerous whistleblowers had complained to the FAA over Boeing's attempt to cut staff and reduce inspections in an effort to "speed up the rate" at which planes went out the door...

Holden's union is currently in contract negotiations with Boeing, and is attempting to secure a 40% pay rise alongside a 50-year guarantee of work security for its members.


CNN also reports on new allegations Wednesday from a former Boeing quality-control manager: that "for years workers at its 787 Dreamliner factory in Everett, Washington, routinely took parts that were deemed unsuitable to fly out of an internal scrap yard and put them back on factory assembly lines."In his first network TV interview, Merle Meyers, a 30-year veteran of Boeing, described to CNN what he says was an elaborate off-the-books practice that Boeing managers at the Everett factory used to meet production deadlines, including taking damaged and improper parts from the company's scrapyard, storehouses and loading docks... Meyers' claims that lapses he witnessed were intentional, organized efforts designed to thwart quality control processes in an effort to keep up with demanding production schedules. Beginning in the early 2000s, Meyers says that for more than a decade, he estimates that about 50,000 parts "escaped" quality control and were used to build aircraft. Those parts include everything from small items like screws to more complex assemblies like wing flaps. A single Boeing 787 Dreamliner, for example, has approximately 2.3 million parts...

Based on conversations Meyers says he had with current Boeing workers in the time since he left the company, he believes that while employees no longer remove parts from the scrapyard, the practice of using other unapproved parts in assembly lines continues. "Now they're back to taking parts of body sections — everything — right when it arrives at the Everett site, bypassing quality, going right to the airplane," Meyers said.

Company emails going back years show that Meyers repeatedly flagged the issue to Boeing's corporate investigations team, pointing out what he says were blatant violations of Boeing's safety rules. But investigators routinely failed to enforce those rules, Meyers says, even ignoring "eye witness observations and the hard work done to ensure the safety of future passengers and crew," he wrote in an internal 2022 email provided to CNN.

Investors Pour $27.1 Billion into AI Startups, Defying a Downturn (msn.com) 17

Postedby EditorDavid from the smarts-money dept.

"For two years, many unprofitable tech startups have cut costs, sold themselves or gone out of business," reports the New York Times.

"But the ones focused on artificial intelligence have been thriving."Now, the AI boom that started in late 2022, has become the strongest counterpoint to the broader startup downturn. Investors poured $27.1 billion into AI startups in the United States from April to June, accounting for nearly half of all U.S. startup funding in that period, according to PitchBook, which tracks startups. In total, U.S. startups raised $56 billion, up 57% from a year earlier and the highest three-month haul in two years. AI companies are attracting huge rounds of funding reminiscent of 2021, when low interest rates pushed investors away from taking risks on tech investments...

The startup downturn began in early 2022 as many money-losing companies struggled to grow as quickly as they did in the pandemic. Rising interest rates also pushed investors to chase less risky investments. To make up for dwindling funding, startups slashed staff and scaled back their ambitions. Then in late 2022, OpenAI, a San Francisco AI lab, kicked off a new boom with the release of its ChatGPT chatbot. Excitement around generative AI technology, which can produce text, images and videos, set off a frenzy of startup creation and funding. "Sam Altman canceled the recession," joked Siqi Chen, founder of the startup Runway Financial, referring to OpenAI's chief executive. Chen said his company, which makes finance software, was growing faster than it otherwise would have because "AI can do the job of 1.5 people...."

An analysis of 125 AI startups by Kruze Consulting, an accounting and tax advisory firm, showed that the companies spent an average of 22% of their expenses on computing costs in the first three months of the year — more than double the 10% spent by non-AI software companies in the same period. "No wonder VCs are throwing money into these companies," said Healy Jones, Kruze's vice president of financial strategy. While AI startups are growing faster than other startups, he said, "they clearly need the money."


Startups receiving funding include CoreWeave ($1.1 billion), ScaleAI ($1 billion), and the Elon Musk-founded xAI ($6 billion), according to the article.

"For investors who back fast-growing startups, there is little downside to being wrong about the next big thing, but there is enormous upside in being right. AI's potential has generated deafening hype, with prominent investors and executives predicting that the market for AI will be bigger than the markets for the smartphone, the personal computer, social media and the internet."

Stolen Campaign Lawn Signs Tracked with Hidden Apple AirTags (businessinsider.com) 79

Postedby EditorDavid from the tags-you're-it dept.

An anonymous reader shared this report from Business Insider:It's a political tale as old as time: put up a campaign poster in your yard, and thieves come to snatch it. But according to The Wall Street Journal, those fed up with front lawn looting are embracing a modern solution. Apple's geo-tracking AirTag devices are helping owners find their signs — and sometimes, even the people who stole them.

The practice has already led to charges. In one example cited by the outlet, Florida politician John Dittmore decided to hide the coin-sized gadget on one of his posters after waking up to a number of thefts in May... [Two teenagers were charged with criminal mischief and the theft of nine signs.]

In other cited cases, stolen signs don't end up with teens, but in the homes of electoral opponents. After Chris Torre became the victim of poster snatching, AirTags led him to the residence of Renee Rountree, the Journal said. Both were running for a seat on the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors in Virginia. Her son-in-law was charged with a misdemeanor for stealing the property, while Rountree faced a misdemeanor for receiving stolen goods. In a December trial, she noted plans to return the signs. Rountree has since been ordered to 250 hours of community service.

"I would like to think that this will have a huge deterrent effect," the trial's judge said in the court's transcript, quoted by WSJ.


Christie's Likens Microsoft's Work On MS-DOS To Einstein's Work In Physics109

Postedby BeauHD from the quick-and-dirty-comparisons dept.

Longtime Slashdot reader theodp writes: "If Einstein paved the way for a new era in physics," explains auction house Christie's in a promotion piece for its upcoming offering of 150+ "objects of scientific and historical importance" from the Paul G. Allen Collection (including items from the shuttered Living Computers Museum), "Mr. Allen and his collaborators ushered in a new era of computing. Starting with MS-DOS in 1981, Microsoft then went on to revolutionize personal computing with the launch of Windows in 1985."

Christie's auction and characterization of MS-DOS as an Allen and Microsoft innovation comes 30 years after the death of Gary Kildall, whose unpublished memoir, the Seattle Times reported in Kildall's July 1994 obituary, called DOS "plain and simple theft" of Kildall's CP/M OS. PC Magazine's The Rise of DOS: How Microsoft Got the IBM PC OS Contract notes that Paul Allen himself traced the genesis of MS-DOS back to a phone call Allen made to Seattle Computer Products owner Rod Brock in which Microsoft licensed Tim Paterson's CP/M-inspired QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) for $10,000 plus a royalty of $15,000 for every company that licensed the software. A shrewd buy-low-sell-high business deal, yes, but hardly an Einstein-caliber breakthrough idea.

Nvidia Forecasted To Make $12 Billion Selling GPUs In China (theregister.com) 4

Postedby BeauHD from the AI-ambitions dept.

Nvidia is expected to earn $12 billion from GPU sales to China in 2024, despite U.S. trade restrictions. Research firm SemiAnalysis says the GPU maker will ship over 1 million units of its new H20 model to the Chinese market, "with each one said to cost between $12,000 and $13,000 apiece," reports The Register. From the report: This figure is said by SemiAnalysis to be nearly double what Huawei is likely to sell of its rival accelerator, the Ascend 910B, as reported by The Financial Times. If accurate, this would seem to contradict earlier reports that Nvidia had moved to cut the price of its products for the China market. This was because buyers were said to be opting instead for domestically made kit for accelerating AI workloads. The H20 GPU is understood to be the top performing model out of three Nvidia GPUs specially designed for the Chinese market to comply with rules introduced by the Biden administration last year that curb performance.

In contrast, Huawei's Ascend 910B is claimed to have performance on a par with that of Nvidia's A100 GPU. It is believed to be an in-house design manufactured by Chinese chipmaker SMIC using a 7nm process technology, unlike the older Ascend 910 product. If this forecast proves accurate, it will be a relief for Nvidia, which earlier disclosed that its sales in China delivered a "mid-single digit percentage" of revenue for its Q4 of FY2024, and was forecast to do the same in Q1 of FY 2025. In contrast, the Chinese market had made up between 20 and 25 percent of the company's revenue in recent years, until the export restrictions landed.


Popular Pirate Site Animeflix Shuts Down 'Voluntarily' (torrentfreak.com) 13

Postedby BeauHD from the another-one-bites-the-dust dept.

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: With dozens of millions of monthly visits, Animeflix positioned itself as one of the most popular anime piracy portals. The site also has an active Discord community of around 35k members, who actively participate in discussions, art competitions, even a chess tournament. While rightsholders take no offense at these side-projects, the site's core business was streaming pirated videos. That hasn't gone unnoticed; last December Animeflix was listed as one of the shutdown targets of anti-piracy coalition ACE.

Whether these early enforcement efforts were responsible for the site's closure is unclear. In May, rightsholders increased the pressure through the High Court of India, obtaining a broad injunction that effectively suspended Animeflix's main domain name; Animeflix.live. This follow-up action didn't seem to hurt the site too much. It simply moved to new domains, Animeflix.gg and Animeflix.li, informing its users that the old domain name had become "unavailable." Yesterday, the site became unreachable again, initially returning a Cloudflare error message. This time, the domain wasn't the problem but, for reasons unknown, the team decided to shut down the site without prior notice.

"It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closure of Animeflix. After careful consideration, we have decided to shut down our service effective immediately. We deeply appreciate your support and enthusiasm over the years." "Thank you for being a part of our journey. We hope the joy and excitement of anime continue to brighten your days through other wonderful platforms," the Animeflix team adds. The Animeflix team doesn't provide any insight into its reasoning, but it's clear that keeping a site like that online isn't without challenges. And, when a pirate site shuts down, voluntarily or not, copyright issues typically play a role. It's clear that rightsholders were keeping an eye on the site, and were actively seeking out options to take it offline. That might have played a role in the shutdown decision but without more information from the team, we can only speculate.


Samsung Stock Hits Three-Year High With Boost From AI (cnbc.com) 4

Postedby BeauHD from the better-than-expected dept.

Samsung said it expects a 1,452% profit increase for the second quarter, causing shares to climb 2.24% to a high of 86,500 Korean won ($62.73). CNBC reports: Samsung issued guidance on Friday, saying operating profit for the April to June quarter is projected to be about 10.4 trillion won ($7.54 billion) -- that's a jump of about 1,452% from 670 billion won a year ago. The expected operating profit beat a LSEG estimate of 8.51 trillion won. The firm also said it expects revenue for the second quarter to be between 73 trillion to 75 trillion won, from 60.01 trillion won a year ago. This is in line with the 73.7 trillion won estimated by LSEG analysts.

Business for the world's largest memory chip maker rebounded as memory chip prices recovered on AI optimism last year. The South Korean electronics giant saw record losses in 2023 as the industry reeled from a post-Covid slump in demand for memory chips and electronics. Its memory chips are commonly found in a wide range of consumer devices including smartphones and computers. Samsung said in April it expects the second quarter to be driven mostly by demand for generative AI, while mobile demand remains stable.

"Samsung announces earnings surprise but mainly the earnings upside is from memory price high. So ironically, Samsung is lagging behind in HBM (high-bandwidth memory) production. So supply to Nvidia -- the qualification -- has been delayed," SK Kim, executive director of Daiwa Capital Markets, told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia" on Friday.

Amazon Injects Ads Into Fire TV Downtime (cordcuttersnews.com) 37

Postedby msmash from the everything-getting-worse dept.

Amazon has introduced new advertising strategies for its Fire TV platform, displaying full-screen ads before screensavers activate on idle devices, CordCutters reports. Users have observed ads from various brands during these pre-screensaver intervals, the report added.

Eton Replaces First-Year Student Smartphones With Nokia 'Brick' Phones (businessinsider.com) 53

Postedby msmash from the shape-of-things-to-come dept.

An anonymous reader shares a report: Eton College, one of the world's most prestigious boarding schools, is planning to ban smartphones for its incoming first-year students and replace these with old-school Nokia phones instead, a spokesperson for the school confirmed to Business Insider. The new policy comes as the UK-based school grapples with managing student's educations alongside technological developments.

"Eton routinely reviews our mobile phone and devices policy to balance the benefits and challenges that technology brings to schools," a spokesperson told BI. "From September those joining in Year 9 will receive a 'brick' phone for use outside the school day, as well as a School-issued iPad to support academic study. Age-appropriate controls remain in place for other year groups," they added.Eton College is an exclusive boarding school located outside London, near Windsor. Prince William, Prince Harry, Tom Hiddleston, and Eddie Redmayne are among its best-known alumni.


Half of Petrol Stations Expected To Close in Next Decade (dutchnews.nl) 113

Postedby msmash from the encouraging-signs dept.

Half of the Netherlands' petrol stations are set to close in the next five to 10 years as electric cars start to take over the market, according to ING Research. From a report: The bank's economists say there will be insufficient earnings in future, with only some 2,000 of today's 4,131 gas stations remaining. "It is mainly the small, unmanned petrol stations that will disappear," says ING Research, as reported in De Telegraaf. [...]

Owners are trying to maintain turnover by increasing their sales of food and beverages, maintenance services and even car washing, ING says. But the long-term business model of independent stations will be difficult to maintain. "A quick calculation shows how long petrol station owners can still sell petrol," Dirk Mulder, Trade & Retail sector banker at ING Research, said. "A new car remains in the Dutch fleet for an average of 19 years. The last petrol and diesel cars will come onto the market in 2034 and will stay on the road until approximately 2053."


Federal Judge Partially Blocks US Ban On Noncompetes (npr.org) 135

Postedby msmash from the how-about-that dept.

ZipNada writes: A federal court in Texas has partially blocked the government's ban on noncompete agreements that was set to take effect September 4. An estimated 30 million people, or one in five American workers, are bound by noncompetes. The employment agreements typically prevent workers -- everyone from minimum wage earners to CEOs -- from joining competing businesses or launching ones of their own.

In its complaint, Ryan LLC accused the FTC of overstepping its statutory authority in declaring all noncompetes unfair and anticompetitive. Judge Brown agreed, writing, "The FTC lacks substantive rulemaking authority with respect to unfair methods of competition." Through a statement Wednesday evening, the FTC said its authority is supported by both statute and precedent. "We will keep fighting to free hardworking Americans from unlawful noncompetes, which reduce innovation, inhibit economic growth, trap workers, and undermine Americans' economic liberty," wrote FTC spokesman Douglas Farrar. The FTC has long argued that noncompetes hurt workers.


Microsoft Lays Off Employees in New Round of Cuts (geekwire.com) 46

Postedby msmash from the more-pain dept.

Microsoft conducted another round of layoffs this week in the latest workforce reduction implemented by the Redmond tech giant this year. From a report: The cuts impacted multiple teams and geographies. Posts on LinkedIn from impacted employees show the cuts affecting employees in product and program management roles. "Organizational and workforce adjustments are a necessary and regular part of managing our business," a spokesperson said in a statement. "We will continue to prioritize and invest in strategic growth areas for our future and in support of our customers and partners."

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