Google

Google Insiders Talk About Why Google+ Failed 193

Posted by samzenpus
from the here's-what-happened dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with this story about what happened to Google+ from an employee perspective. "Last month, Google announced that it's changing up its strategy with Google+. In a sense, it's giving up on pitching Google+ as a social network aimed at competing with Facebook. Instead, Google+ will become two separate pieces: Photos and Streams. This didn't come as a surprise — Google+ never really caught on the same way social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn did....Rumors have been swirling for months that Google would change its direction with Google+. Business Insider spoke with a few insiders about what happened to the network that Google believed would change the way people share their lives online. Google+ was really important to Larry Page, too — one person said he was personally involved and wanted to get the whole company behind it. The main problem with Google+, one former Googler says, is the company tried to make it too much like Facebook. Another former Googler agrees, saying the company was 'late to market' and motivated from 'a competitive standpoint.'"
Facebook

Nepal Earthquake: Facebook To Google, How Tech Is Helping Survivors Reach Out 38

Posted by samzenpus
from the safe-status-update dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Nepal, many social media sites and mobile applications have come up with features that could help locate friends and loved ones. From the Times of India: "Social networking website Facebook, and Google's Person Finder have helped locate the whereabouts of those stranded in quake-hit areas. For instance, members of one Himmatramka family residing in Birgunj in Nepal marked themselves safe on Facebook. 'Our relatives back in India were worried about our safety. So, we marked ourselves safe to inform them,' said Nitesh Himmatramka.
Displays

Oculus Rift: 2015 Launch Unlikely, But Not Impossible 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the is-the-future-here-yet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this week during Facebook's 2015 Q1 earnings call, the company seemed to suggest that a 2015 Oculus Rift release date was unlikely. At least, that's what a report about the call from Gamasutra indicated, saying, "It doesn't sound like Oculus will ship the consumer version of its Oculus Rift VR headset this year, or at least not in very large quantities." However, an equity analyst has chimed in to say that the language used during the call shouldn't be interpreted colloquially, concluding that "...there is no information here that rules out Oculus shipping in 2015."
Games

How and Why the U-Pick Game Marathon Raises Money With Non-Stop Gaming (Video) 33

Posted by timothy
from the don't-tase-me-bro-it's-only-a-game dept.
On June 12 through 14th of this year, the fourth (not "fourth annual," but close) iteration of the U-Pick Video Game Marathon for Charity --“UPickVG IV” for short --will be streaming on an Internet connection near you. The U-Pick crew's volunteers will be playing and broadcasting video games, non-stop, as a fundraiser for Charity Water, a cause they've supported since the beginning. I talked with organizers Stephanie and Grant Kibler from their video-game lounge of a living room about what it takes to broadcast an online gathering like this, and why they've adopted this as an annual event. Hint: some esoteric video-capture hardware helps, and so does a beefy network connection, for high-quality streaming of games that pre-date today's multiplayer, network-oriented options. That's significant, because U-Pick's stable of titles isn't limited to modern ones, and observers are encouraged to suggest appropriate games (hence "U-Pick").The remote viewers' choices and donations influence the event by deciding which games are represented on the Wheel of Destiny that the team spins to decide which games get played.The play itself, though,*is* limited to the players who'll be on hand at a Northern Virginia co-working space that will serve as this year's venue. It turns out to be easier to stream the output of old consoles than it is to control them from remote (never mind the latency that would mean), but maybe one day participants will be able to play as well as shoulder-surf and laugh at the players' running commentary. You can check out the Upick page on Facebook, too, and watch one of their practice runs each Sunday. (Note: Video #1 talks mostly about the game play and how you can join. Video #2 - below - talks more about hardware and behind-the-scenes work.)
Facebook

Facebook's "Hello" Tells You Who's Calling Before You Pick Up 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the who-is-it? dept.
Mark Wilson writes: When you receive a call you'll usually see the number of the caller, but this may not be helpful in identifying them before you decide whether to pick up. Facebook's answer to this problem is Hello. This new app comes from the Facebook Messenger team and aims to tell you more about the person getting in touch with you even if you don't have their number saved in your address book. Currently available for Android, the dialer app also allows for the blocking of calls from individuals.
AI

Concerns of an Artificial Intelligence Pioneer 196

Posted by Soulskill
from the nobody-program-it-to-think-humans-can-be-used-as-batteries dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In January, the British-American computer scientist Stuart Russell drafted and became the first signatory of an open letter calling for researchers to look beyond the goal of merely making artificial intelligence more powerful. "We recommend expanded research aimed at ensuring that increasingly capable AI systems are robust and beneficial," the letter states. "Our AI systems must do what we want them to do." Thousands of people have since signed the letter, including leading artificial intelligence researchers at Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other industry hubs along with top computer scientists, physicists and philosophers around the world. By the end of March, about 300 research groups had applied to pursue new research into "keeping artificial intelligence beneficial" with funds contributed by the letter's 37th signatory, the inventor-entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Russell, 53, a professor of computer science and founder of the Center for Intelligent Systems at the University of California, Berkeley, has long been contemplating the power and perils of thinking machines. He is the author of more than 200 papers as well as the field's standard textbook, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (with Peter Norvig, head of research at Google). But increasingly rapid advances in artificial intelligence have given Russell's longstanding concerns heightened urgency.
Facebook

Facebook Working To Weed Out Fake Likes 74

Posted by timothy
from the click-here-to-weed-out-fake-likes dept.
jfruh writes In the early days of brands on Facebook, it was crucial for companies to garner as many "likes" as possible to boost their image, and that led to some unethical businesses selling likes that came from fake accounts. Now Facebook is informing brands that they're working to root out fake likes, leaving like counts lower but realer. Now if only I could get my relatives to stop clicking on pictures that say they like puppies and are against cancer.
Businesses

Twitter Moves Non-US Accounts To Ireland, and Away From the NSA 153

Posted by timothy
from the be-right-over-here-guys dept.
Mark Wilson writes Twitter has updated its privacy policy, creating a two-lane service that treats U.S. and non-U.S. users differently. If you live in the U.S., your account is controlled by San Francisco-based Twitter Inc, but if you're elsewhere in the world (anywhere else) it's handled by Twitter International Company in Dublin, Ireland. The changes also affect Periscope. What's the significance of this? Twitter Inc is governed by U.S. law; it is obliged to comply with NSA-driven court requests for data. Data stored in Ireland is not subject to the same obligation. Twitter is not alone in using Dublin as a base for non-U.S. operations; Facebook is another company that has adopted the same tactic. The move could also have implications for how advertising is handled in the future.
Medicine

Columbia University Doctors Ask For Dr. Mehmet Oz's Dismissal 320

Posted by timothy
from the that's-just-like-your-opinion-man dept.
circletimessquare writes Dr. Mehmet Oz serves as vice chairman of Columbia University Medical Center's department of surgery. He is a respected cardiothoracic surgeon but his television show has been accused of pushing snake oil. Now other doctors at Columbia University want Dr. Oz kicked off the medical school faculty. Dr. Oz has responded on his Facebook account: "I bring the public information that will help them on their path to be their best selves. We provide multiple points of view, including mine which is offered without conflict of interest. That doesn't sit well with certain agendas which distort the facts. For example, I do not claim that GMO foods are dangerous, but believe that they should be labeled like they are in most countries around the world." In their letter, the doctors accuse Dr. Oz of quackery: "Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine, as well as baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops. Worst of all, he has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain."
Robotics

Embedded Linux Takes to the Skies (Video) 26

Posted by Roblimo
from the robot-drones-want-you-to-take-them-to-your-leader-(beep) dept.
This is an interview with Clay McClure. He makes his living designing 'custom Linux software solutions for technology start-ups in Atlanta and the San Francisco Bay area.' He also works on Embedded Linux for autonomous drones. Here's a link to slides from a talk he gave on exactly that topic: Flying Penguins - Embedded Linux Applications for autonomous UAVs, and that's far from all he has to say about making Linux-controlled drones. However, for some reason Timothy and Clay didn't talk about using drones for target practice. Perhaps they can discuss that another time.

NOTE: We urge you to read the transcript of this interview even if you prefer watching videos; it contains material we left out of the video due to sound problems.
The Internet

India's Net Neutrality Campaign Picks Up Steam, Sites Withdraw From Internet.org 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the leaving-the-ship dept.
First time accepted submitter arvin (916235) writes The Huffington Post reports on prominent Indian websites withdrawing from Facebook's internet.org initiative. The net neutrality debate in the country has focused on zero-rating, where ISPs offer a free data plan which provides access to a set of websites that pay to be included. Internet.org provides free access to Facebook, Bing, Wikipedia and a few other websites. Another similar service, Airtel Zero, lost its flagship partner as e-commerce company Flipkart withdrew following a social media backlash.

Net neutrality activists believe that as these plans proliferate, access to the open internet will become extremely expensive or unavailable, innovation will slow as for startups are prevented from reaching the market, and the competitive consumer ISP market will be replaced with a cartel negotiating against internet companies. In a campaign similar to that in the US, over 630,000 Indians sent responses to their regulator through the website savetheinternet.in.
Microsoft

Microsoft Pushes For Public Education Funding While Avoiding State Taxes 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the cognitive-dissonance-provides-shareholder-value dept.
theodp writes: After stressing how important the funding of Washington State education — particularly CS Ed — is to Microsoft, company general counsel Brad Smith encountered one of those awkward interview moments (audio at 28:25). GeekWire Radio: "So, would you ever consider ending that practice [ducking WA taxes by routing software licensing royalties through Nevada-based Microsoft Licensing, GP] in Nevada [to help improve WA education]?" Smith: "I think there are better ways for us to address the state's needs than that kind of step." Back in 2010, Smith, Steve Ballmer, and Microsoft Corporation joined forces to defeat Proposition I-1098, apparently deciding there were better ways to address the state's needs than a progressive income tax.
Crime

Would-Be Bomber Arrested In Kansas; Planned Suicide Attack on Ft. Riley 297

Posted by timothy
from the well-that's-not-nice dept.
The Associated Press (as carried by the Boston Herald) reports that a 20-year old Topeka man has been arrested as he attempted to arm what he believed to be a thousand-pound bomb outside Ft. Riley, Kansas. John T. Booker Jr. is alleged to have planned an attack in conspiracy with others who were actually FBI agents; Booker's postings to Facebook in March 2014 about his desire to die as a martyr brought him to the FBI's attention, and the FBI sting operation which ended in his arrest began after these posts. Booker had been recruited by the U.S. Army in February of last year, but his enlistment was cancelled shortly thereafter.
Government

FTC Creates Office Dedicated To "Algorithmic Transparency" 75

Posted by timothy
from the from-the-government-and-here-to-help dept.
jfruh writes When Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm filters a meme you posted out of your friends' feed, you might find that annoying. When your bank's algorithm denies you a mortgage, that has a serious effect on your life. But both kinds of algorithms are generally opaque to customers and regulators, and the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection has set up an office dedicated to figuring out these algorithms affect our lives and intersect with the law. Perhaps they can start with how the IRS selects people to audit, and whether constantly shifting TSA policies make sense.
Security

French TV Network TV5Monde Targeted In 'Pro-ISIS' Cyberattack 71

Posted by timothy
from the hate-by-wire dept.
An anonymous reader writes French broadcaster TV5Monde [was] today working to regain control of its 11 television channels and online platforms after hackers claiming ties with the Islamic State hijacked its network on Wednesday evening, forcing the media group to show only pre-recorded content. The television network was able to return in part to its planned schedule by 1:00am (23:00 GMT) last night, after the hacking group had suspended its broadcast services for three hours. Yves Bigot, the Parisian company's director general, said that the network had been "severely damaged" by an "unprecedented attack" which would have taken weeks to prepare. The hacking group posted threats and shared a collection of files across TV5Monde's Facebook page which it claimed were copies of ID cards and CVs of relatives of French soldiers involved in anti-IS operations. More coverage at The Independent, which says the attack "revealed personal details of French soldiers."
Hardware Hacking

eBay Sales Patterns Show That the Maker Movement is Still Growing (Video) 24

Posted by Roblimo
from the homemade-always-tastes-better dept.
Meet Aron Hsiao. He works for Terapeak, a company that tracks sales through online venues such as eBay and Amazon in order to help merchants decide what to sell -- and how. The five 'maker' categories Terapeak tracks (drones, robotics, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and 3D printing) outsold Star Trek-related merchandise by a huge amount, namely $33 million to $4.3 million, during a recent 90 day study period. Star Wars merchandise did better at $29.4 million, but still... And as another comparison, Aron says that all Apple laptops combined, new and used, sold $48.4 million, so the DIY hobbyist movement still has a ways to go before it catches up with Apple laptops -- but seems to be heading steadily in that direction.

Drones are the hottest hobbyist thing going right now, Aron says, but all five of the hobbyist/tinkerer' categories Terapeak tracks are growing steadily at a rate of up to 70% year over year, with drones leading the way and robotics trailing (but still growing). It's good to see people taking an interest in making things for themselves. If you remember (or have heard of) the Homebrew Computer Club, you have an idea of what tinkerers and hobbyists can produce if given even a tiny bit of encouragement. And it's good to see that the DIY mindset is not only still alive, but growing -- even if it seems to be moving away from traditional hobby tinkering (cars; radios) toward concepts (drones; robotics) that weren't considered mass market 'homebrew' possibilities even a few years ago.
Facebook

Judge Allows Divorce Papers To Be Served Via Facebook 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-unfriend-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes Want to divorce your husband or wife but can't give them the papers in person? Just use Facebook. No, apparently this isn't a late April Fools' joke. The New York Daily News reports Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper has allowed 26-year-old Ellanora Baidoo to serve her husband Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku divorce papers via a Facebook message. In fact, Baidoo won't even be the one sending the message. Her lawyer has been granted permission to message Blood-Dzraku using her account. "This transmittal shall be repeated by plaintiff's attorney to defendant once a week for three consecutive weeks or until acknowledged," the ruling states.
Facebook

Ask Slashdot: Living Without Social Media In 2015? 394

Posted by timothy
from the you're-clearly-living-in-throwback-thursday dept.
An anonymous reader writes On Slashdot, we frequently write derogatory comments regarding social networking sites. We bash Facebook and the privacy implications associated with having a great deal of your life put out there for corporations to monetize. Others advocate for deleting your Facebook profile. Six months ago, I did exactly that. However, as time went on, I have fully realized social media's tacit importance to function in today's world, especially if you are busy advancing your career and making the proper connections to do so. Employers expect a LinkedIn profile that they can check and people you are meeting expect a Facebook account. I have heard that not having an account on the almighty Facebook could label you as a suspicious person. I have had employers express hesitation in hiring me (they used the term "uncomfortable") and graduate school interviewers have asked prying questions regarding some things that would normally be on a person's social media page. Others have literally recoiled in horror at the idea of someone not being on Facebook. I have found it quite difficult to even maintain a proper social life without a social media account to keep up to date with any sort of social activities (even though most of them are admittedly quite mundane). Is living without social media possible in 2015? Does social media have so much momentum that the only course of action is simply to sign up for such services to maintain normality despite the vast privacy issues associated with such sites? Have we forgotten how to function without Facebook?
Facebook

Report: Facebook Tracks Visitors Who Have Opted Out, Violating EU Law 40

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-in-cookie-jar dept.
itwbennett writes: In a technical analysis (PDF) of Facebook's tracking practices, researchers found that Facebook tracks everyone who visits its site, including people who don't have an account, and even continues to track users and non-users who have opted out of targeted ads. The problem with these practices is that the cookies are placed without consent, which under EU law is only allowed if there is a strict necessity to do so. Facebook disputes the report: "We have explained in detail the inaccuracies in the earlier draft report (after it was published) directly to the Belgian DPA, who we understand commissioned it, and have offered to meet with them to explain why it is incorrect, but they have declined to meet or engage with us."
Books

Book Review: Future Crimes 27

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes Technology is neutral and amoral. It's the implementers and users who define its use. In Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It, author Marc Goodman spends nearly 400 pages describing the dark side of technology, and those who use it for nefarious purposes. He provides a fascinating overview of how every major technology can be used to benefit society, and how it can also be exploited by those on the other side. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.