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Discord Store To Offer Developers 90 Percent of Game Revenues

DarkRookie2 shares a report from Ars Technica: Discord has announced that it will start taking a reduced, 10-percent cut from game revenues generated on its online store starting next year, one-upping the Epic Games Store and its recently announced 12-percent cut on the Epic Games Store. The move comes alongside a coming expansion of the Discord Games Store, which launched earlier this year with a tightly curated selection of games that now includes roughly 100 titles. The coming "self-serve publishing platform" will allow developers "no matter what size, from AAA to single-person teams" to access the Discord Store and the new 90-percent revenue share. "We talked to a lot of developers, and many of them feel that current stores are not earning their 30% of the usual 70/30 revenue share," Discord writes in the announcement. "Because of this, we now see developers creating their own stores and launchers to distribute their games instead of focusing on what's really important --making great games and cultivating amazing communities." "Turns out, it does not cost 30% to distribute games in 2018," the announcement continues. "After doing some research, we discovered that we can build amazing developer tools, run them, and give developers the majority of the revenue share."

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What Are Silicon Valley's Highest-Paying Tech Jobs?

An anonymous reader writes: Job-search site Indeed crunched its Silicon Valley hiring numbers for 2018, looking at tech job searches, salaries, and employers, and found that engineers who combine tech skills with business skills as directors of product management earn the most, with an average salary of US $186,766. Last year, the gig came in as number two, at $173,556. Also climbing up the ranks, and now in the number two spot with an average annual salary of $181,100, is senior reliability engineer. Application security engineer is third at $173,903. Neither made the top 20 in 2017. And while it seems that machine learning engineers have been getting all the love in 2018, those jobs came in eighth place, at $159,230. That's still a bit of a leap from last year, when the job made its first appearance on Indeed's top 20 highest-paying jobs in the 13th spot at $149,519. This year's top 20 is below; last year's numbers are here. Further reading: 'Blockchain Developer' is the Fastest-Growing US Job (LinkedIn study).

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Regular Windows 10 Users Who Manually Look For Updates May End Up Downloading Beta Code, Microsoft Says

In addition to relying on Windows Insiders, employees, and willing participants for testing updates, Microsoft is pushing patches before they are known to be stable to regular users too if they opt to click the "check for updates" button on their own, the company said. From a report: In a blog post by Michael Fortin, Corporate Vice President for Windows, it is made clear that home users are intentionally being given updates that are not necessarily ready for deployment. Many power users are familiar with Patch Tuesday. On the second Tuesday of each month, Microsoft pushes out a batch of updates at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time on this day containing security fixes, bug patches, and other non-security fixes. Updates pushed out as part of Patch Tuesday are known as "B" release since it happens during the second week of the month. During the third and fourth weeks of the month are where things begin to get murky. Microsoft's "C" and "D" releases are considered previews for commercial customers and power users. No security fixes are a part of these updates, but for good reasoning. Microsoft has come out to directly say that some users are the guinea pigs for everyone else. In some fairness to Microsoft, C and D updates are typically only applied when a user manually checks for updates by clicking the button buried within Settings. However, if end users really wanted to be a part of testing the latest features, the Windows Insider Program is designed exactly for that purpose. Further reading: Windows 10's 'Check for updates' button may download beta code.

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Boeing 737 Passenger Jet Damaged in Possible Midair Drone Hit

Grupo Aeromexico SAB is investigating whether a drone slammed into a Boeing Co. 737 jetliner as the aircraft approached its destination in Tijuana, Mexico, on the U.S. border. From a report: Images on local media showed considerable damage to the nose of the 737-800, which was operating Wednesday as Flight 773 from Guadalajara. In a cabin recording, crew members can be heard saying they heard a "pretty loud bang" and asking the control tower to check if the nose was damaged. The collision happened shortly before landing. "The exact cause is still being investigated," Aeromexico said in a statement. "The aircraft landed normally and the passengers' safety was never compromised." The potential drone strike stoked fears that the rising use of uncrewed aircraft will endanger planes filled with passengers. While most nations prohibit drones from flying in pathways reserved for airliners, the millions of small consumer devices that have been purchased around the world can't be tracked on radar, making it difficult for authorities to enforce the rules. In addition, many users don't know the rules or don't follow them.

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In Booming Job Market, Workers Are 'Ghosting' Their Employers

A notorious millennial dating practice is starting to creep into the workplace: ghosting. Employers are noticing with increasing frequency that workers are leaving their jobs by simply not showing up and cutting off contact with their companies [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; syndicated source]. From a report: "A number of contacts said that they had been 'ghosted,' a situation in which a worker stops coming to work without notice and then is impossible to contact," the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago noted in December's Beige Book, which tracks employment trends. National data on economic "ghosting" is lacking. The term, which usually applies to dating, first surfaced in 2016 on Dictionary.com. But companies across the country say silent exits are on the rise. Analysts blame America's increasingly tight labor market. Job openings have surpassed the number of seekers for eight straight months, and the unemployment rate has clung to a 49-year low of 3.7 percent since September. Janitors, baristas, welders, accountants, engineers -- they're all in demand, said Michael Hicks, a labor economist at Ball State University in Indiana. More people may opt to skip tough conversations and slide right into the next thing.

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A New Engine Could Bring Back Supersonic Air-Travel

An anonymous reader shares a report (may be paywalled): Every morning, time once was, a giant roar from Heathrow Airport would announce the departure of flight BA001 to New York. The roar was caused by the injection into the aircraft's four afterburners of the fuel which provided the extra thrust that it needed to take off. Soon afterwards, the pilot lit the afterburners again -- this time to accelerate his charge beyond the speed of sound for the three-and-a-half hour trip to JFK. The plane was Concorde. Supersonic passenger travel came to an end in 2003. The crash three years earlier of a French Concorde had not helped, but the main reasons were wider. One was the aircraft's Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus engines, afterburners and all, which gobbled up too much fuel for its flights to be paying propositions. The second was the boom-causing shock wave it generated when travelling supersonically. That meant the overland sections of its route had to be flown below Mach 1. For the Olympus, an engine optimised for travel far beyond the sound barrier, this was commercial death. That, however, was then. And this is now. Materials are lighter and stronger. Aerodynamics and the physics of sonic booms are better understood. There is also a more realistic appreciation of the market. As a result, several groups of aircraft engineers are dipping their toes back into the supersonic pool. Some see potential for planes with about half Concorde's 100-seat capacity. Others plan to start even smaller, with business jets that carry around a dozen passengers. The chances of such aircraft getting airborne have recently increased substantially.

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Facebook Says A Bug May Have Exposed The Unposted Photos Of Millions Of Users

A day after hosting a pop-up store in New York City's Bryant Park to explain how privacy is the "foundation of the company," Facebook disclosed that a security flaw potentially exposed the public and private photos of as many as 6.8 million users to developers. From a report: On Friday, the Menlo Park, California-based company said in a blog post that it discovered a bug in late September that gave third-party developers the ability to access users' photos, including those that had been uploaded to Facebook's servers but not publicly shared on any of its services. The security flaw, which exposed photos for 12 days between Sept. 13 and Sept. 25, affected up to 1,500 apps from 876 developers, according to Facebook. "We're sorry this happened," Facebook said in the post. "Early next week we will be rolling out tools for app developers that will allow them to determine which people using their app might be impacted by this bug. We will be working with those developers to delete the photos from impacted users." Facebook has not yet responded to questions about whether company representatives staffing its privacy pop-ups yesterday were aware of this security flaw as they were meeting with reporters and customers to discuss privacy. Further reading: Facebook's lead EU regulator opens probe into data breach.

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Hiding in Plain Sight: The YouTubers' Crowdfunding Piracy

Some YouTube channels are publishing full-length episodes of TV shows, rights of which they obviously do not own, and on top of this, they are trying to crowdfund their piracy efforts by asking viewers to donate some cash. From a report: YouTube creators asking for money is nothing new, be it through the site's built-in membership features or third-party services such as Patreon. But trying to profit off someone else's intellectual property isn't the same as asking for support on an original video they've created. The person who runs the Kitchen Nightmares Hotel Hell and Hell's Kitchen channel did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Engadget, but their Patreon page (named YoIUploadShows) isn't coy. "Hey! It's not as easy as you might think to make my content, I have to look for the best quality episodes I can find, download them, convert them, edit them, render them and upload them," YoIUploadShows' Patreon page reads. "This can sometimes take at least a few hours. Especially because the downloads are usually slow and the rendering itself can take a couple hours, because I started making all my uploads in HD instead of 480p to give them a little extra clarity." It's not easy, folks, so for that he or she "would really appreciate the extra support if you have any money to spare :)"

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Chinese Hackers Breach US Navy Contractors

Chinese hackers are breaching Navy contractors to steal everything from ship-maintenance data to missile plans, triggering a top-to-bottom review of cyber vulnerabilities, WSJ reported Friday, citing officials and experts. From the report: A series of incidents in the past 18 months has pointed out the service's weaknesses, highlighting what some officials have described as some of the most debilitating cyber campaigns linked to Beijing. Cyberattacks affect all branches of the armed forces but contractors for the Navy and the Air Force are viewed as choice targets for hackers seeking advanced military technology, officials said. Navy contractors have suffered especially troubling breaches over the past year, one U.S. official said. The data allegedly stolen from Navy contractors and subcontractors often is highly sensitive, classified information about advanced military technology, according to U.S. officials and security researchers. The victims have included large contractors as well as small ones, some of which are seen as lacking the resources to invest in securing their networks. One major breach of a Navy contractor, reported in June, involved the theft of secret plans to build a supersonic anti-ship missile planned for use by American submarines, according to officials.

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We Might Not Have Enough Materials for All the Solar Panels and Wind Turbines We Need, an Analysis Finds

An anonymous reader writes: Plenty of high-tech electronic components, like solar panels, rechargeable batteries, and complex circuits require specific rare metals. These can include magnetic neodymium, electronic indium, and silver, along with lesser-known metals like praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium. These metals are mined in large quantities in countries around the world, and they make their way into the supply chains of all sorts of electronics and renewables companies. A group of researchers from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure determined how many of these important metals will be required by 2050 in order to make enough solar panels and wind turbines to effectively combat climate change. With plenty of countries, states, cities, and companies pledging to go 100 percent renewable by 2050, the number of both solar panels and wind turbines is expected to skyrocket. According to the analysis, turbines and solar panels might be skyrocketing a bit too much. Demand for some metals like neodymium and indium could grow by more than a dozen times by 2050, and there simply might not be enough supply to power the green revolution.

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Imax is Shutting Down Its VR Business, Closing Remaining Three VR Centers in Q1

Imax is making its exit from virtual reality (VR) official: The company notified shareholders with a SEC filing this week that it will close down its remaining three VR centers, and write off "certain VR content investments." From a report: A company spokesperson confirmed the planned closures and shared the following statement with Variety: "With the launch of the IMAX VR centre pilot program our intention was to test a variety of different concepts and locations to determine which approaches work well. After a trial period with VR centres in multiplexes, we have decided to conclude the IMAX VR centre pilot program and close the remaining three locations in Q1 2019." The company previously closed four of its seven VR centers, including most recently its sole European outpost in Manchester. Imax launched Imax VR in early 2017 with a flagship location adjacent to the Grove mall in Los Angeles. At the time, the expansion into VR was billed as an experiment, and a way for Imax to determine whether VR could be the next big thing for the company. [...] Imax also set up a $50 million VR content fund, and got CAA, China Media Capital, and the Raine Group to co-produce VR experiences. Further reading: The virtual reality dream is dying.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


WordPress Plugs Bug that Led to Google Indexing Some User Passwords

A week after releasing v5.0 major update, WordPress has pushed the first security patch for its popular CMS service. ZDNet: Released hours ago, WordPress version 5.0.1 fixes seven security vulnerabilities (some of which allow site takeover) but also plugs a pretty serious privacy leak. The latter was found by the authors of the popular Yoast SEO plugin, who discovered that in some cases the activation screen for new users could end up being indexed by Google. With specially crafted Google searches, an attacker could find these pages and collect users' email addresses, and in some rare cases, default-generated passwords. This leak could have catastrophic consequences if the user has an admin role or if the user didn't change his default password, as is regularly advised.

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A Corporate-issued Laptop Stolen From a Lenovo Employee in September Contained Unencrypted Payroll Data on APAC Staff

A corporate-issued laptop lifted from a Lenovo employee in Singapore contained a cornucopia of unencrypted payroll data on staff based in the Asia Pacific region, news outlet The Register reports. From the report: Details of the massive screw-up reached us from Lenovo staffers, who are simply bewildered at the monumental mistake. Lenovo has sent letters of shame to its employees confessing the security snafu. "We are writing to notify you that Lenovo has learned that one of our Singapore employees recently had the work laptop stolen on 10 September 2018," the letter from Lenovo HR and IT Security, dated 21 November, stated. "Unfortunately, this laptop contained payroll information, including employee name, monthly salary amounts and bank account numbers for Asia Pacific employees and was not encrypted." Lenovo employs more than 54,000 staff worldwide, the bulk of whom are in China.

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Facebook Doesn't Care About Fixing Fake News Problem On Its Platform

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Journalists working as factcheckers for Facebook have pushed to end a controversial media partnership with the social network, saying the company has ignored their concerns and failed to use their expertise to combat misinformation. Current and former Facebook factcheckers told the Guardian that the tech platform's collaboration with outside reporters has produced minimal results and that they've lost trust in Facebook, which has repeatedly refused to release meaningful data about the impacts of their work. Some said Facebook's hiring of a PR firm that used an antisemitic narrative to discredit critics -- fueling the same kind of propaganda factcheckers regularly debunk -- should be a deal-breaker. Facebook now has more than 40 media partners across the globe, including the Associated Press, PolitiFact and the Weekly Standard, and has said false news on the platform is "trending downward." While some newsroom leaders said the relationship was positive, other partners said the results were unclear and that they had grown increasingly resentful of Facebook. Facebook has said that third-party factchecking is one part of its strategy to fight misinformation, and has claimed that a "false" rating leads an article to be ranked lower in news feed, reducing future views by 80% on average. The company has refused, however, to publicly release any data to support these claims. Facebook said in a statement that it had "heard feedback from our partners that they'd like more data on the impact of their efforts," adding that it has started sending "quarterly reports" with "customized statistics" to partners and would be"looking for more statistics to share externally in early 2019." Facebook declined to share the reports with the Guardian.

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NASA's Jupiter Mission Juno Reveals Giant Polar Storms

NASA's Juno mission to the gas giant Jupiter has reached its halfway mark and has revealed new views of cyclones at the poles. The BBC reports: As it orbits the planet every 53 days - Juno performs a science-gathering dive, speeding from pole to pole. Its sensors take measurements of the composition of the planet, in an effort to decipher how the largest world in our Solar System formed. Mapping the magnetic and gravity fields should also expose Jupiter's structure. But images from JunoCam -- a camera that was intended to capture images that could be shared with the public -- has already given us some surprising insights. "When we made our first pass over the poles, we knew we were seeing a territory on Jupiter we had never seen before," said Dr Candice Hansen, from the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona. "What we did not expect was that we would see these orderly polygons of cyclones; huge storms - twice the size of Texas."

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