Items tagged with: percent
Udacity, the $1 billion online education startup, has laid off about 20 percent of its workforce and is restructuring its operations as the company’s co-founder Sebastian Thrun seeks to bring costs in…
Article word count: 748
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19620401
Posted by guiambros (karma: 3968)
Post stats: Points: 125 - Comments: 54 - 2019-04-10T00:15:47Z
#HackerNews #its #lays #off #operations #percent #restructures #udacity #workforce
Udacity, the $1 billion online education startup, has laid off about 20 percent of its workforce and is restructuring its operations as the company’s co-founder Sebastian Thrun seeks to bring costs in line with revenue without curbing growth, TechCrunch has learned.
The objective is to do more than simply keep the company afloat, Thrun told TechCrunch in a phone interview. Instead, Thrun says these measures will allow Udacity from a money-losing operation to a “break-even or profitable company by next quarter and then moving forward.”
The 75 employees, including a handful of people in leadership positions, were laid off earlier today as part of a broader plan to restructure operations at Udacity. The startup now employs 300 full-time equivalent employees. It also employs about 60 contractors.
Udacity, which specializes in “nanodegrees” on a range of technical subjects that include AI, deep learning, digital marketing, VR and computer vision, has been struggling for months now, due in part to runaway costs and other inefficiencies. The company grew in 2017, with revenue increasing 100 percent year-over-year thanks to some popular programs like its self-driving car and deep learning nanodegrees, and the culmination of a previous turnaround plan architected by former CMO Shernaz Daver.
New programming was added in 2018, but the volume slowed. Those degrees that were added lacked the popularity of some of its other degrees. Meanwhile, costs expanded and their employee ranks swelled.
Udacity CEO Vishal Makhijani left in October and Thrun stepped in. He took over as chief executive and the head of content on an interim basis. Thrun, who founded X, Google’s moonshot factory, is also CEO of Kitty Hawk Corp., a flying-car startup. In an earlier interview, Thrun told TechCrunch that he discovered the company had grown too quickly and was burdened by its own self-inflicted red tape. Staff reductions soon followed. About 130 people were laid off and other open positions were left vacant, Thrun said.
Thrun insists these latest layoffs aren’t just a half-hearted attempt to quickly cut costs and instead are part of a strategic turnaround plan. He communicated that same thinking in the email sent to employees.
“By bringing our costs in line with our revenue and refocusing our product strategy, we believe we can continue to grow the overall business both in enterprise and consumer segments in fiscal 2019 and beyond, while also achieving a break-even position in terms of both cash flow and EBITA, which will ensure that we can continue to do our important work,” Thrun wrote toward the end of the email to employees.
Last year, Udacity generated about $90 million in revenue.
Even as Udacity slashes costs and headcount, it’s trying to expand its enterprise business, which has had recent success. Udacity now has contracts with 60 enterprise customers, including AT&T and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Airbus and Audi recently signed on, as well.
Udacity’s plan was developed largely by Lalit Singh, the interim COO hired in February. Singh conducted a review of the business, including its operating model and Udacity’s primary costs such as workforce, marketing and other non-workforce expenses. As a result of the review, Udacity has laid off more staff, streamlined operations and programming and cut other costs.
“We have tremendous opportunities in front of us, and we also have some challenges. To succeed, we have to ensure that we have an operating structure that allows us to be nimble, efficient, and better organized to win with fewer silos and frankly, reduced cost,” Thrun wrote in the email.
As of Tuesday, four executives who handle different aspects of the business now report directly to Thrun. Those executives include Singh, Alper Tekin, who recently became CPO, James Richard, who was VP of engineering and has been named CTO, and Caroline Finch, vice president of consumer growth.
Alex Varel, the company’s head of enterprise sales, and Jimmy Lee, head of enterprise operations, will now report to Singh.
The change is striking compared to October, when Thrun came back to temporarily fill the CEO role. At that time, 17 people reported to Thrun.
Udacity also has cut costs and streamlined its marketing efforts, downsized and consolidated office space and made its educational programming consistent throughout the various regions in which it operates, including the U.S., Brazil, China and India.
The company will keep an office, albeit a smaller space, in Mountain View, and one in San Francisco. Udacity is closing an additional satellite office in San Francisco and is evaluating its real estate needs in other countries, as well.
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Tesla's Model 3 is giving a jolt to Norway's car market. Also in play: Norway's lucrative incentives for owners of electric vehicles.
Article word count: 655
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19566051
Posted by reddotX (karma: 2660)
Post stats: Points: 101 - Comments: 65 - 2019-04-03T18:46:51Z
#HackerNews #cars #electric #hit #making #march #nearly #norway #percent #record #sales
A Tesla Model S electric car leaves a service center in Oslo, Norway, in 2018.
Pierre-Henry Deshayes/AFP/Getty Images
Electric vehicles are now the norm in Norway when it comes to new car sales, accounting for 58 percent of all car sales in March. Teslaʼs mass market Model 3 was especially popular, accounting for nearly 30 percent of new passenger vehicle sales, the Norwegian Information Council for Road Traffic, or OFV, says.
The figures reflect Norwayʼs desire to move away from fossil-fuel vehicles — with help from lucrative government incentives for owners of electric vehicles.
Overall, 18,375 new passenger cars were registered in Norway last month, the OFV says. Of those vehicles, 10,732 were rated with zero emissions — a gain of about 100 percent from the previous March. And nearly all of those vehicles are electric (four are hydrogen-powered).
Norwegian car buyers registered more than 5,300 Tesla Model 3 sedans in March — a record for a single car model in one month, the OFV says. In that same period, no other carmaker had more than 10 percent of sales.
In addition to the all-electric vehicles, 3,469 new hybrid cars were sold, reflecting a 10 percent drop from March 2018.
As Reuters reports, "In 2018, Norwayʼs fully electric car sales rose to a record 31.2 percent market share from 20.8 percent in 2017, far ahead of any other nation, and buyers had to wait as producers struggled to keep up with demand."
Norway is well-positioned to reduce carbon emissions by a transition to electric vehicles. For one thing, it draws nearly all of its electricity from a network of hydroelectric power plants, according to its government. Hydroelectric power is cleaner than electricity powered by coal or natural gas.
On average, Norwegians are among the richest people in the world, meaning many of the countryʼs citizens can afford a new electric car. In the 25-year period from 1992 to 2017, Norwayʼs gross national income per capita more than tripled to nearly $64,000, according to the World Bank.
And then there are the incentives. For years, Norwegians who opted for a zero-emissions car enjoyed a wealth of benefits, including an exemption from sales, import and road taxes.
Until recently, emissions-free vehicles could also be parked for free and were immune to all toll and ferry charges. Those policies have changed, but owners of electric and other zero-emissions cars still face only up to 50 percent of the going rate for tolls and parking.
There is a paradox in Norwayʼs rush to become a green power pioneer. It is a significant producer and supplier of fossil fuels to the global market, and the countryʼs wealth has been boosted by its rich energy reserves: Norway is one of the worldʼs largest exporters of natural gas.
The U.S. hasnʼt embraced electric vehicles with the same enthusiasm as Norway. But sales are picking up. The industry site InsideEVs reports that they hit a new high in 2018, with 361,307 vehicles sold — a sharp rise from 2017ʼs tally of 199,826 vehicles.
But with persistently low gas prices, many Americans see no financial reason to make the switch to an electric vehicle. And U.S. consumers also have concerns about going electric, such as the availability of charging stations.
Looking at the broader picture, Wards Automotive notes, "of the 17.215 million light vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2018, 16.042 million of them had just a traditional gasoline-powered internal-combustion engine. Another 496,000 had diesel engines in 2018, leaving 677,000 alternative-powertrain models sold."
But the U.S. electric vehicle market does have at least one thing in common with Norway: nearly all of the recent U.S. gains can be attributed to Tesla and its new Model 3.
In 2018, Norway was an important market for U.S. exports of new cars and light trucks, with more than $821 million in sales — representing the 10th-largest market by dollar amount, according to the U.S. International Trade Administration.
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Filtered word: nsfw
Tumblr has lost 30 percent of web traffic since December.
Article word count: 280
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19393500
Posted by jaredwiener (karma: 660)
Post stats: Points: 126 - Comments: 65 - 2019-03-14T20:44:23Z
#HackerNews #december #has #lost #percent #since #traffic #tumblr #web
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Since Tumblr announced its porn ban in December, many users reacted by explaining that they mainly used the site for browsing not-safe-for-work content, and they threatened to leave the platform if the ban were enforced. It now appears that many users have made good on that threat: Tumblr’s traffic has dropped nearly 30 percent since December.
Tumblr’s global traffic in December clocked in at 521 million, but it had dropped to 370 million by February, web analytics firm SimilarWeb tells The Verge. Statista reports a similar trend in the number of unique visitors. By January 2019, only over 437 million visited Tumblr, compared to a high of 642 million visitors in July 2018.
The ban removed explicit posts from public view, including any media that portrayed sex acts, exposed genitals, and “female-presenting” nipples. Some users say enforcement of the ban has been spotty — one user wrote into The Verge to say that they’re still seeing porn on the platform — but even so, users have apparently left Tumblr in droves. We know that the platform was mainly known for its NSFW content, which was often not just porn that could be found on any number of alternative sites. It also included unique communities that discussed sexuality in healthy ways.
On December 3rd, when Tumblr first told The Verge that it would ban porn by the 17th, CEO Jeff D’Onofrio said in a statement at the time that users had other options. “There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content,” he said. It looks like users have taken D’Onofrio up on his offer and gone to other sites.
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Boston University engineers have created a sound baffle that isn’t a barrier at all, but instead an open conduit that allows air to pass through. Such a feat was only possible by developing a…
Article word count: 52
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19344682
Posted by njaremko (karma: 216)
Post stats: Points: 128 - Comments: 55 - 2019-03-09T05:37:51Z
#HackerNews #acoustic #can #cancel #metamaterial #percent #sound #that
Boston University Ph. D. candidate Reza Ghaffarivardavagh poses with his research team. Reza holds the noise cancellation devices his team developed over his ears while his teammates make noise banging a pot, playing a trumpet, and a boombox in the backgroundBoston University mechanical engineers have created synthetic, sound-silencing structures—acoustic metamaterials—that can block 94% of sounds. Reza Ghaffarivardavagh (ENG) (front center) holds two of the open, ringlike structures over his ears while Stephan Anderson (MED) (left), Xin Zhang (ENG) (rear center), and Jacob Nikolajczyk (ENG) (right) make a racket. Photo by Cydney Scott
What sounds would you mute if you could? A pair of Boston University mechanical engineers are asking that question, with the ever-increasing din of drone propellers, airplane turbines, MRI machines, and urban noise pollution blaring in the mind’s ear.
“Today’s sound barriers are literally thick heavy walls,” says Reza Ghaffarivardavagh. Although noise-mitigating barricades, called sound baffles, can help drown out the whoosh of rush hour traffic or contain the symphony of music within concert hall walls, they are a clunky approach not well suited to situations where airflow is also critical. Imagine barricading a jet engine’s exhaust vent—the plane would never leave the ground. Instead, workers on the tarmac wear earplugs to protect their hearing from the deafening roar.
Xin Zhang and Ghaffarivardavagh were enticed by an alluring question: “Can we design a structure that can block noise but preserve air passage?”
Leaning on their mathematical prowess and the technology of 3D printing, it turns out they can. In a January 2019 Physical Review paper, the researchers argue that it’s quite possible to silence noise using an open, ringlike structure, created to mathematically perfect specifications, for cutting out sounds while maintaining airflow.
Numbers and noise control
“I’ve always been interested in acoustics,” says Ghaffarivardavagh, who finished his BSc in mechanical engineering at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, before coming to Boston University for graduate school. Now, in Zhang’s lab, he’s close to finishing his PhD. “I like to work on something that I can hear or see the result. Something that I can have an impact on with issues we are facing nowadays.”
Having lived in other major cities before coming to Boston, Zhang and Ghaffarivardavagh have always marveled at the layered urban soundscape enveloping them. In Boston, the cacophony of the city is garbled together from airplanes flying overhead, the engines and horns of cars, trucks, and buses on the street, the rumble and screech of MBTA trolleys, and the hum of building appliances and power sources.
City life is so noisy, you have to find a way to create quiet moments, they say.
That got them dreaming up a sound baffle that wasn’t a barrier at all, but instead an open conduit. Such a feat could only be possible by developing a material with unusual and unnatural properties (known as a metamaterial), in this case with the ability to exert an isolated influence on sounds—an acoustic metamaterial.
“I’ve been working on metamaterials for more than a decade,” says Zhang, a multidisciplinary professor at the College of Engineering and the Photonics Center. “But it was Reza that gradually got me more excited about the fundamental idea of a marriage between acoustics and metamaterials. If you ask me and my colleagues, acoustic metamaterials is a relatively young direction…. It’s the future.”
Mute button, incarnated
Ghaffarivardavagh and Zhang let mathematics—a shared passion that has buoyed both of their engineering careers and made them well-suited research partners—guide them toward a workable design for what the acoustic metamaterial would look like.
“Sound is made by very tiny disturbances in the air. So, our goal is to silence those tiny vibrations,” Ghaffarivardavagh and Zhang say. “If we want the inside of a structure to be open air, then we have to keep in mind that this will be the pathway through which sound travels.”
They calculated the dimensions and specifications that the metamaterial would need to have in order to interfere with the transmitted sound waves, preventing sound—but not air—from being radiated through the open structure. The basic premise is that the metamaterial needs to be shaped in such a way that it sends incoming sounds back to where they came from, they say.
On one end of the pipe, a loudspeaker blasts a noise. On the other end, the open acoustic silencing metamaterial redirects the sound as long as itʼs fitted in place. Video courtesy of the Zhang lab
As a test case, they decided to create a structure that could silence sound from a loudspeaker. Based on their calculations, they modeled the physical dimensions that would most effectively silence noises. Bringing those models to life, they used 3D printing to materialize an open, noise-canceling structure made of plastic.
Trying it out in the lab, the researchers sealed the loudspeaker into one end of a PVC pipe. On the other end, the tailor-made acoustic metamaterial was fastened into the opening. With the hit of the play button, the experimental loudspeaker set-up came oh-so-quietly to life in the lab. Standing in the room, based on your sense of hearing alone, you’d never know that the loudspeaker was blasting an irritatingly high-pitched note. If, however, you peered into the PVC pipe, you would see the loudspeaker’s subwoofers thrumming away.
The metamaterial, ringing around the internal perimeter of the pipe’s mouth, worked like a mute button incarnate until the moment when Ghaffarivardavagh reached down and pulled it free. The lab suddenly echoed with the screeching of the loudspeaker’s tune.
“The moment we first placed and removed the silencer…was literally night and day,” says Jacob Nikolajczyk, who in addition to being a study coauthor and former undergraduate researcher in Zhang’s lab is a passionate vocal performer. “We had been seeing these sorts of results in our computer modeling for months—but it is one thing to see modeled sound pressure levels on a computer, and another to hear its impact yourself.”
By comparing sound levels with and without the metamaterial fastened in place, the team found that they could silence nearly all—94 percent to be exact—of the noise, making the sounds emanating from the loudspeaker imperceptible to the human ear.
A quieter world
Now that their prototype has proved so effective, the researchers have some big ideas about how their acoustic-silencing metamaterial could go to work making the real world quieter.
“Drones are a very hot topic,” Zhang says. Companies like Amazon are interested in using drones to deliver goods, she says, and “people are complaining about the potential noise.”
“The culprit is the upward-moving fan motion,” Ghaffarivardavagh says. “If we can put sound-silencing open structures beneath the drone fans, we can cancel out the sound radiating toward the ground.”
Detail photo of a ring shaped noise cancellation device built using an acoustic metamaterial both developed by Boston University engineers.The mathematically designed, 3D-printed acoustic metamaterial is shaped in such a way that it sends incoming sounds back to where they came from, Ghaffarivardavagh and Zhang say. Inside the outer ring, a helical pattern interferes with sounds, blocking them from transmitting through the open center while preserving air’s ability to flow through. Photo by Cydney Scott
Closer to home—or the office—fans and HVAC systems could benefit from acoustic metamaterials that render them silent yet still enable hot or cold air to be circulated unencumbered throughout a building.
Ghaffarivardavagh and Zhang also point to the unsightliness of the sound barriers used today to reduce noise pollution from traffic and see room for an aesthetic upgrade. “Our structure is super lightweight, open, and beautiful. Each piece could be used as a tile or brick to scale up and build a sound-canceling, permeable wall,” they say.
The shape of acoustic-silencing metamaterials, based on their method, is also completely customizable, Ghaffarivardavagh says. The outer part doesn’t need to be a round ring shape in order to function.
“We can design the outer shape as a cube or hexagon, anything really,” he says. “When we want to create a wall, we will go to a hexagonal shape” that can fit together like an open-air honeycomb structure.
Such walls could help contain many types of noises. Even those from the intense vibrations of an MRI machine, Zhang says.
According to Stephan Anderson, a professor of radiology at BU School of Medicine and a coauthor of the study, the acoustic metamaterial could potentially be scaled “to fit inside the central bore of an MRI machine,” shielding patients from the sound during the imaging process.
Zhang says the possibilities are endless, since the noise mitigation method can be customized to suit nearly any environment: “The idea is that we can now mathematically design an object that can block the sounds of anything,” she says.
This work was supported by a Boston University Materials Innovation Grant and Dean’s Catalyst Award.
Published Tuesday, February 26, 2019
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Percentage of memory safety issues has been hovering at 70 percent for the past 12 years.
Article word count: 340
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19138602
Posted by clouddrover (karma: 3782)
Post stats: Points: 109 - Comments: 95 - 2019-02-11T21:39:31Z
#HackerNews #all #are #bugs #issues #memory #microsoft #percent #safety #security
Microsoft memory safety trends Image: Matt Miller
Around 70 percent of all the vulnerabilities in Microsoft products addressed through a security update each year are memory safety issues; a Microsoft engineer revealed last week at a security conference.
Memory safety is a term used by software and security engineers to describe applications that access the operating systemʼs memory in a way that doesnʼt cause errors.
Memory safety bugs happen when software, accidentally or intentionally, accesses system memory in a way that exceeds its allocated size and memory addresses.
Users who often read vulnerability reports come across terms over and over again. Terms like buffer overflow, race condition, page fault, null pointer, stack exhaustion, heap exhaustion/corruption, use after free, or double free --all describe memory safety vulnerabilities.
Speaking at the BlueHat security conference in Israel last week, Microsoft security engineer Matt Miller said that over the last 12 years, around 70 percent of all Microsoft patches were fixes for memory safety bugs.
The reason for this high percentage is because Windows has been written mostly in C and C++, two "memory-unsafe" programming languages that allow developers fine-grained control of the memory addresses where their code can be executed. One slip-up in the developersʼ memory management code can lead to a slew of memory safety errors that attackers can exploit with dangerous and intrusive consequences --such as remote code execution or elevation of privilege flaws.
Memory safety errors are todayʼs biggest attack surface for hackers, and attackers appear to be capitalizing on their availability. According to Millerʼs presentation, use after free and heap corruption vulnerabilities continue to be the preferred bugs when attackers are developing exploits.
Microsoft memory safety bug exploited trends Image: Matt Miller Microsoft memory safety bug root causes Image: Matt Miller
Furthermore, as Microsoft has patched most of the basic memory safety bugs, attackers and bug hunters have also stepped up their game, moving from basic memory errors that spew code into adjacent memory to more complex exploits that run code at desired memory addresses, ideal for targeting others apps and processes running on the system.
Microsoft memory safety adjacency Image: Matt Miller
Microsoft Surface Go: First impressions SEE FULL GALLERY
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