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

Software

Post-Microsoft Nokia Offering Mapping Services To Samsung 4

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-map-for-food dept.
jfruh writes: With Nokia's Windows Phone handset line sold off to Microsoft, one of the company's remaining businesses is its Here digital mapping service. No longer feeling loyalty to Microsoft or its OS, Nokia has inked a deal with Samsung to supply Here services to both Tizen and Android devices, including the upcoming Samsung smartwatch.
Transportation

Hidden Obstacles For Google's Self-Driving Cars 229

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-looking-forward-to-denial-of-driving-attacks dept.
Paul Fernhout writes: Lee Gomes at MIT's Technology Review wrote an article on the current limits of Google self-driving car technology: "Would you buy a self-driving car that couldn't drive itself in 99 percent of the country? Or that knew nearly nothing about parking, couldn't be taken out in snow or heavy rain, and would drive straight over a gaping pothole? If your answer is yes, then check out the Google Self-Driving Car, model year 2014. Google often leaves the impression that, as a Google executive once wrote, the cars can 'drive anywhere a car can legally drive.' However, that's true only if intricate preparations have been made beforehand, with the car's exact route, including driveways, extensively mapped. Data from multiple passes by a special sensor vehicle must later be pored over, meter by meter, by both computers and humans. It's vastly more effort than what's needed for Google Maps. ... Among other unsolved problems, Google has yet to drive in snow, and Urmson says safety concerns preclude testing during heavy rains. Nor has it tackled big, open parking lots or multilevel garages. ... Pedestrians are detected simply as moving, column-shaped blurs of pixels — meaning, Urmson agrees, that the car wouldn't be able to spot a police officer at the side of the road frantically waving for traffic to stop."
Books

Japanese Publishers Lash Out At Amazon's Policies 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the does-not-play-nice-with-others dept.
Nate the greatest writes: Amazon is in a bitter contract fight with Hachette in the U.S. and Bonnier in Germany, and now it seems the retail giant is also in conflict with publishers in Japan. Amazon has launched a new rating system in Japan which gives preference to publishers with larger ebook catalogs (and publishers that pay higher fees), leading to complaints that Amazon is using its market power to blackmail publishers. Where have we heard that complaint before?

The retailer is also being boycotted by a handful of Japanese publishers who disagree with Amazon offering a rewards program to students. The retailer gives students 10% of a book's price as points, which can be used to buy more books. This skirts Japanese fixed-price book laws, so several smaller publishers pulled their books from Amazon in protest. Businesses are out to make money and not friends, but Amazon sure is a lightning rod for conflicts, isn't it?
Bitcoin

Euro Bank Santander Commissions Study On Bitcoin's Impact On Banking 50

Posted by timothy
from the first-they-commission-a-story-about-you dept.
First time accepted submitter Nikkos (544004) writes Digital currency news website HashReport broke the news Monday that European megabank Santander has commissioned a study to "Analyze the impact of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on banks and devise a strategic course of action." The study is being facilitated as a challenge through Yegii, an 'Insight Network' founded by Trond Undheim. Undheim is also a Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as Managing Director at Tautec Consulting. The challenge was initiated by Julio Faura — Head of Corporate development for Banco Santander. According to Dr. Undheim, Faura was "looking for additional outside perspective onto the topic of Bitcoin. While acquiring consulting services from top tier consulting firms can be exciting, he thought that an outsider, multidisciplinary perspective, would be particularly helpful."
Data Storage

Seagate Ships First 8 Terabyte Hard Drive 315

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the goes-to-11 dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes Seagate announced today that it has begun shipping the world's first 8 Terabyte hard drive. The 8TB hard drive comes only five months after Western Digital released the first ever 6TB HDD. Up until then, Seagate's high capacity HDDs had been shipping only to select enterprise clients. The 8TB HDD comes in the 3.5-inch form factor and, according to the manufacturer, features a SATA 6Gbps interface and multi-drive RV tolerance which makes it suitable for data centers. It's unclear what technology the drive is based on, or if PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) or low-resistance helium technology was employed.
Education

Free Law Casebook Project Starts With IP Coursebook 22

Posted by timothy
from the good-way-to-start dept.
An anonymous reader writes Duke Law School's James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins just published a CC licensed, freely downloadable textbook called "Intellectual Property Law and the Information Society." (Which includes a discussion of whether and when the term "intellectual property" is a dangerous misnomer). The book is apparently part of an attempt to lower what the authors describe as the "obscene cost" of legal textbooks. "This is the first in a series of free digital/low cost print legal educational materials to be published by Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain—starting with statutory supplements aimed at the basic classes. The goal of this project... is to improve the pricing and access norms of the world of legal textbook publishing, while offering the flexibility and possibility for customization that unfettered digital access provides. We hope it will provide a pleasant, restorative, competitive pressure on the commercial publishers to lower their prices and improve their digital access norms." The book's "problems range from a video of the Napster oral argument to counseling clients about search engines and trademarks, applying the First Amendment to digital rights management and copyright or commenting on the Supreme Court's new rulings on gene patents.. [The book] includes discussions of such issues as the Redskins trademark cancelations, the Google Books case and the America Invents Act."
Businesses

Is Dong Nguyen Trolling Gamers With "Swing Copters"? 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the stirring-the-pot dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Given its extreme difficulty, it's tempting to think that the new Swing Copters is Dong Nguyen's attempt at a joke (You thought 'Flappy Bird' was hard? Check this out!), or maybe even a meta-comment on the emerging "masocore" gaming category. Or maybe he just wanted to make another game, and the idea of an ultra-difficult one appealed. Whatever the case, Nguyen can rely on the enduring popularity of Flappy Bird to propel Swing Copters to the top of the Google and iOS charts. But his games' popularity illuminates a rough issue for developers of popular (or even just semi-popular) apps everywhere: how do you deal with all the copycats flooding the world's app stores? Although Google and Apple boast that their respective app stores feature hundreds of thousands of apps, sometimes it seems as if most of those apps are crude imitations of other apps. The perpetual fear among app developers is that they'll score a modest hit—only to see their years of hard work undermined by someone who cobbles together a clone in a matter of weeks or days. If Apple and Google want to make things friendlier out there for developers, they might consider stricter enforcement policies for the blatant rip-offs filling their digital storefronts.
Data Storage

Dropbox Caught Between Warring Giants Amazon and Google 274

Posted by Soulskill
from the rsync-is-still-pretty-cheap dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Google and Amazon are both aggressively pursuing the cloud storage market, constantly increasing available storage space and constantly dropping prices. On its face, this looks great for the consumer — competition is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, many smaller companies like Box, Dropbox, and Hightail simply aren't able to run their services at a loss like the giants can. Dropbox's Aaron Levie said, "These guys will drive prices to zero. You do not want to wait for Google or Amazon to keep cutting prices on you. 'Free' is not a business model."

The result is that the smaller companies are pivoting to win market share, relying on specific submarkets or stronger feature sets rather than available space or price. "Box is trying to cater to special data storage needs, like digital versions of X-rays for health care companies and other tasks specific to different kinds of customers. Hightail is trying to do something similar for customers like law firms. And Dropbox? It is trying to make sure that its consumer-minded service stays easier to use than what the big guys provide." It's going to be tough for them to hold out, and even tougher for new storage startups to break in. But that might be the only thing keeping us from choosing between the Wal-Mart-A and Wal-Mart-B of online storage.
Businesses

Major Delays, Revamped Beta For Credit-Card Consolidating Gadget Coin 78

Posted by timothy
from the nickelback-quarterback-pedalback dept.
The premise behind Coin is attractive: consolidate credit cards onto a single card-sized gadget. However, on Friday the company announced a delay in the release of its final version from this summer to spring of 2015, and in a way that angered many of the project's crowd-funding backers. The announcement of a delay was not only sudden, and quite close to the previously announced shipping date, but upset those who'd pre-ordered by outlining a confusing beta program that would involve an interim product release — recipients of the beta version (limited to 10,000) would have had to then pay $30 to upgrade to the final product. As CNET reports, the delay until 2015 remains, but with regard to that beta program, Coin has now reversed its stance. The beta program will be free -- meaning preorder customers who opt-in will no longer forfeit the $55 they paid and will still receive the finished Coin product next year. The program will also expand from 10,000 customers to 15,000. Regardless of whether your smartphone is running Apple's iOS or Google's Android operating system, preorder customers can opt-in to Coin's beta program through its app and will be eligible for a device if they fall within the 15,000-person threshold. The order is determined by when you bought your Coin. Coin customers, some who placed orders as far back as November 2013 when the startup first opened its website for preorders, were displeased not so much with the product delay as with the way Coin handled the situation. The company had, as recently as August 14, sent out an update explaining that a long-awaited shipping announcement would arrive at month's end --yet without an indication that it may miss its shipping target.
The Media

The Making of the Making of Nihilumbra 16

Posted by timothy
from the has-it-ever-recurred-to-you dept.
SlappingOysters (1344355) writes "Digital magazine outlet Grab It has been pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with media on touchscreens, which includes an experimental special edition of its publication focused on indie platformer Nihilumbra from BeautiFun Games. In this blog entry, the editor talks about how the digital format can be used to create reading experiences that you physically play just like it is the game. The app is available on iPad, but the article itself is an intriguing read for those wondering where the future of digital magazines can head."
Books

Do Readers Absorb Less On Kindles Than On Paper? Not Necessarily 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the kindles-absorb-less-spilled-beverage-than-paper-books dept.
An anonymous reader writes eBooks are great and wonderful, but as The Guardian reports, they might not be as good for readers as paper books. Results from a new study show that test subjects who read a story on a Kindle had trouble recalling the proper order of the plot events. Out of 50 test subjects, half read a 28-page story on the Kindle, while half read the same story on paper. The Kindle group scored about the same on comprehension as the control group, but when they were asked to put the plot points in the proper order, the Kindle group was about twice as likely to get it wrong.

So, is this bad news for ebooks? Have we reached the limits of their usefulness? Not necessarily. While there is evidence that enhanced ebooks don't enhance education, an older study from 2012 showed that students who study with an e-textbook on an ebook reader actually scored as well or higher on tests than a control group who did not. While that doesn't prove the newer research wrong, it does suggest that further study is required.
What has your experience been with both recall and enjoyment when reading ebooks?
Technology

Delaware Enacts Law Allowing Heirs To Access Digital Assets of Deceased 82

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the facebook-after-death dept.
An anonymous reader writes Ars reports: "Delaware has become the first state in the U.S .to enact a law that ensures families' rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death." In other states, the social media accounts and email of people who die also die with them since the companies hosting those accounts are not obligated to transfer access even to the heirs of the deceased. In Delaware, however, this is no longer the case. The article notes that even if the deceased was a resident of another state, if his/her will is governed by Delaware law, his/her heirs will be allowed to avail of the new law and gain access to all digital assets of the deceased.
The Internet

Web Trolls Winning As Incivility Increases 457

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-might-know-where-you-can-find-a-moderation-system-for-a-good-price dept.
mdsolar sends this story from the NY Times: The Internet may be losing the war against trolls. At the very least, it isn't winning. And unless social networks, media sites and governments come up with some innovative way of defeating online troublemakers, the digital world will never be free of the trolls' collective sway. That's the dismal judgment of the handful of scholars who study the broad category of online incivility known as trolling, a problem whose scope is not clear, but whose victims keep mounting. "As long as the Internet keeps operating according to a click-based economy, trolls will maybe not win, but they will always be present," said Whitney Phillips, a lecturer at Humboldt State University and the author of This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, a forthcoming book about her years of studying bad behavior online. "The faster that the whole media system goes, the more trolls have a foothold to stand on. They are perfectly calibrated to exploit the way media is disseminated these days."
Books

Why the Public Library Beats Amazon 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the where-do-i-sign-up-for-library-Prime dept.
Nate the greatest writes: The launch of Kindle Unlimited last month has many questioning the value of public libraries, with one pundit on Forbes even going so far as to proclaim that the U.K. could save money by shuttering all its libraries and replacing them with Kindle Unlimited subscriptions. Luckily for libraries, they're safe for now because they still beat Kindle Unlimited and its competitors in at least one category: content you want to read. As several reviewers have noted, Kindle Unlimited is stocked almost entirely with indie titles, with a handful of major titles thrown in. Even Scribd and Oyster only have ebooks from two of the five major U.S. publishers, while U.S. public libraries can offer titles from all five. They might be expensive and you might have to get on a waiting list, but as the Wall Street Journal points out, public libraries are safe because they can still offer a better selection. That is true, but I think the WSJ missed a key point: public libraries beat Amazon because they offer services Amazon cannot, including in-person tech support, internet access, and other basic assistance. The fact of the matter is, you can't use KU, Scribd, or Oyster if you don't know how to use your device, and your local public library is the best place to learn.
Media

Xbox One Will Play Media from USB Devices, DLNA Servers 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the revolution-will-not-be-streamed dept.
New submitter Mauro sends word that Microsoft has announced upcoming Xbox One support for streaming media both from attached USB devices, such as flash drives, and DLNA media servers. Compatibility with a broad list of media formats will be added by the end of the year, including .MKV files. They also followed up last week's announcement of a digital TV tuner with an interesting twist: it will be able to stream broadcasts over a local network to devices running the Smartglass app, which is available on Windows, Android, and iOS.
Security

Study: Firmware Plagued By Poor Encryption and Backdoors 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-the-sausage-is-made dept.
itwbennett writes: The first large-scale analysis of firmware has revealed poor security practices that could present opportunities for hackers probing the Internet of Things. Researchers with Eurecom, a technology-focused graduate school in France, developed a web crawler that plucked more than 30,000 firmware images from the websites of manufacturers including Siemens, Xerox, Bosch, Philips, D-Link, Samsung, LG and Belkin. In one instance, the researchers found a Linux kernel that was 10 years out of date bundled in a recently released firmware image. They also uncovered 41 digital certificates in firmware that were self-signed and contained a private RSA encryption key and 326 instances of terms that could indicate the presence of a backdoor.
Microsoft

Microsoft Surface Drowning? 337

Posted by timothy
from the use-it-or-don't dept.
hcs_$reboot (1536101) writes Again, not much good news for the MS Surface. Computerworld reports a Microsoft's losses on the tablet device at $US1.7 billion so far. But, still, Microsoft is serene: "It's been exciting to see the response to the Surface Pro 3 from individuals and businesses alike. In fact, Surface Pro 3 sales are already outpacing prior versions of Surface Pro. The Surface business generated more than $2B in revenue for the fiscal year 2014 and $409 million in revenue during Q4 FY14 alone, the latter of which included just ten days of Intel Core i5 Surface Pro 3 sales in Canada and the US." Should Microsoft pull the plug on the tablet? Or maybe it's just a matter of users getting used to the Surface? Even if they're losing money on the Pro 3, Microsoft has seemingly little to be ashamed of when it comes to reviews of the hardware.
Television

Add a TV Tuner To Your Xbox (In Europe) 81

Posted by timothy
from the americans-don't-watch-tv dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "The Xbox one isn't just a game console: it's also a nifty media set-top box, and it interacts very well with your TV service — as long as you have cable. Cord-cutters will soon be able to attach their Xbox to an antenna — but only in Europe." The peripheral that Microsoft will soon release allows you to integrate over-the-air content into the Xbox One system. From the images Microsoft released it looks like the tuner is a small box with a port for an antenna cable on one end, and the USB cable on the other. Unfortunately for my readers in North America, as of now, the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner is only scheduled to release in Europe. Microsoft says it supports DVB-T, DVB-T2 and DVB-C television channels, which I hope means something to my European readers; Wikipedia tells me these are European over-the-air cable standards. The TV Tuner will be available in late October for 24.99 in the UK, and for €29.99 in France, Italy, Germany and Spain.
Bitcoin

Network Hijacker Steals $83,000 In Bitcoin 101

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the rerouting-the-internet-for-fun-and-profit dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that bogus BGP announcements can be used to hijack work done by cryptocurrency mining pools. Quoting El Reg: Researchers at Dell's SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit (CTU) have identified an exploit that can be used to steal cryptocurrency from mining pools — and they claim that at least one unknown miscreant has already used the technique to pilfer tens of thousands of dollars in digital cash. The heist was achieved by using bogus Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) broadcasts to hijack networks belonging to multiple large hosting companies, including Amazon, Digital Ocean, and OVH, among others. After sending the fake BGP updates miners unknowingly contributed work to the attackers' pools.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Best PDF Handling Library? 132

Posted by timothy
from the when-vi-is-not-the-answer dept.
New submitter Fotis Georgatos (3006465) writes I recently engaged in a conversation about handling PDF texts for a range of needs, such as creation, manipulation, merging, text extraction and searching, digital signing etc etc. A couple of potential picks popped up (PDFBox, itext), given some Java experience of the other fellows. And then comes the reality of choosing software as a long term knowledge investment! ideally, we would like to combine these features:
  • open source, with a community following ; the kind of stuff Slashdotters would prefer
  • tidy software architecture; simple things should remain simple
  • allow open API allowing usage across many languages (say: Python & Java)
  • clear licensing status, not estranging future commercial use
  • serious multilingual & font support
  • PDF-handling rich features, not limiting usage for invoicing, e-commerce, reports & data mining
  • digital signing should not go against other features

I'd like to poll the collective Slashdot crowd wisdom about if/which PDF related libraries, they have written software with, keeps them happy for *all* the above reasons. And if not happy with that all, what do they thing is the best bet for learning one piece of software in the area, with great reusability across different circumstances and little need for extra hacks? I'd really like to hear the smoked out war stories. It is easy to obtain a list of such libraries, yet tricky to understand whethe people have obtained success with them!

I wish you humans would leave me alone.

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