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Can Google Fix the Cable Box? 223

theodp writes "In purchasing Motorola Mobility, Slate's Farhad Manjoo reports that Google will also come into possession of one the nation's biggest suppliers of set-top boxes. So, can Google work some of its do-no-evil magic on the loathsome cable box? Don't bet on it, says Manjoo. For one thing, there's no evidence that Google would be very good at remaking the set-top box (Google TV, anyone?). But even if Google managed to dramatically improve set-top boxes, it's doubtful that cable and satellite companies would buy in. First, they'd lose all those ridiculously lucrative cable-box rental fees. More importantly, they'd have to give up control of the main entertainment device in most homes, and with it the opportunity to slow or stymie competing sources for entertainment. After the merger, notes Manjoo, Google could get several billion dollars by selling off Motorola Mobility's set-top-box division — a much surer payday than taking on Big Cable."

Paul Ceglia: Facebook Is Doing the Forgery, Not Me 135

An anonymous reader writes "Last week, Facebook said it found the original 'authentic contract' between Mark Zuckerberg and Paul Ceglia, a man who claims he owns half of the company according to a 2003 contract. Now, Ceglia says the original 'authentic contract' Facebook claims to have found is really just a Photoshopped image the company planted on his computer."

Digital Tech and the Re-Birth of Product Placement 228

pbahra writes "When you think of product placement on television you tend to think of cumbersome 1950s examples where the actor would cheesily turn to camera and hold up, say, a bar of soap—where do you think the sobriquet soap opera came from—to deliver his line. Perhaps to save all of us the artistic murder, the practice was prohibited in Europe, but recently the prohibition has been relaxed and a U.K. start up is offering digital producers the chance to inject products realistically in post production with full directorial control. The problem with existing physical product placement is that there are no clear business plans, and the process is incredibly slow. In Europe, legal constraints prohibit directors from re-writing scripts to include products, so any placement has to be done at the creative stage."

S&P's $2 Trillion Math Mistake 1040

Last friday Moody's S&P announced that they had downgraded the U.S.'s credit rating (leading to a pretty huge discussion on Slashdot I might add). Since then more interesting news has come out, suraj.sun writes "In a document provided to Treasury on Friday afternoon, Standard and Poor's (S&P) presented a judgment about the credit rating of the U.S. that was based on a $2 trillion mistake. After Treasury pointed out this error — a basic math error of significant consequence — S&P still chose to proceed with their flawed judgment by simply changing their principal rationale for their credit rating decision from an economic one to a political one. S&P incorrectly added that same $2.1 trillion in deficit reduction to an entirely different baseline where discretionary funding levels grow with nominal GDP over the next 10 years. Relative to this alternative baseline, the Budget Control Act will save more than $4 trillion over ten years — or over $2 trillion more than S&P calculated. S&P acknowledged this error — in private conversations with Treasury on Friday afternoon and then publicly early Saturday morning. In the interim, they chose to issue a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating."
The Almighty Buck

Blizzard Reveals Diablo 3 (Real Money) Auction House 384

trawg writes "At a special event at Blizzard HQ in California, gaming press were treated to the first look at the Diablo 3 auction house — featuring real-world money transactions across different regions allowing you to buy and sell items with real money. There'll be a listing fee and a sales fee for auctions, and while they're not talking dollar numbers just yet, Blizzard assures gamers that they're not looking to pinch pennies." Update: 08/01 17:41 GMT by S :The other big piece of news about Diablo 3 is that it will require a persistent connection to to play, even for single-player mode. Eurogamer has a detailed write-up about the current state of the beta.

Hillary Clinton Takes Overseas 250

theodp writes "ZDNet reports that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's office issued a fact sheet during her visit to India confirming that the U.S. and India will be working together to develop an open source version of the project, which was launched in 2009 by off-to-Harvard Federal CIO Vivek Kundra to serve as a central repository of data collected by the US government. The Hindu Business Line notes that Clinton was also pressed to exempt Indian techies in the States on H-1B or L1 visas from U.S. social security taxes, an exemption that, if granted, could reportedly result in savings of at least a billion dollars for the country's software industry."

Winklevoss Twins Finally Give Up Fighting Facebook 160

An anonymous reader writes "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's former Harvard classmates Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss, who accuse him of stealing their idea for the social network, have decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court. In a filing today with the federal court in San Francisco, the duo said that after 'careful consideration,' they decided not to seek Supreme Court review of the $65 million settlement."
The Almighty Buck

Verizon To Drop Unlimited Data Plans In Two Weeks 302

itwbennett writes "The rumors have converged and now it appears that Verizon will be dropping its unlimited data plans on July 7, says blogger Peter Smith. Droid-Life lists pricing, starting at 2 GB for $30/month and going up to 10 GB for $80/month. 'The one ever-so-slightly bright side,' says Smith, 'is that 4G LTE will cost the same as 3G. Of course, you'll be able to burn through your data even faster.'"
The Almighty Buck

Ask Amir Taaki About Bitcoin 768

"Bitcoin," says the project's website, "is a peer-to-peer currency. Peer-to-peer means that no central authority issues new money or tracks transactions." Wikipedia offers a readable explanation of the underlying technology. In (very) short, Bitcoin uses a distributed database and public key encryption to allow users to reassign ownership of units of Bitcoin currency (BTC), and does so in a way that can keep the user's identity private. Bitcoin isn't yet accepted the way credit cards are, but it's more than theoretical. You can buy (some) things with Bitcoin, and trade the currency itself. Now, you can ask question about Bitcoin of Amir Taaki, a developer of client interfaces and stock trading software for Bitcoin, and owner and operator of trading exchange Amir requests that questions focus not "so much on the mining (too many people get focused on that when it's a minor aspect of Bitcoin) nor simple technical questions (people can go find that info themselves on Wikipedia/the forums/sourcecode)," but rather on the harder-to-answer questions. Reading some of the related stories listed below may give you ideas on what those are. Standard Slashdot Interview rules apply: ask as many questions as you want, but please keep them to one per comment. Amir will get back with his answers.

Judge Orders Former San Francisco Admin Terry Childs To Pay $1.5M 488

0WaitState writes "A judge Tuesday ordered a former city worker who locked San Francisco out of its main computer network for 12 days in 2008 to pay nearly $1.5 million in restitution, prosecutors said.' Keep in mind the network never went down and no user services were denied, and given that Terry Childs was the only one who had admin access (for years prior) it is difficult to understand how they came up in $1.5 million in costs, unless they're billing Terry Childs for the City's own failure to set up division of responsibility and standby emergency access procedures?"

Microsoft Buying Skype for $8.5B 605

Approximately one trillion readers wrote in to tell us that there is a big rumor that Microsoft is buying Skype. This follows an earlier rumor that the suitor was Facebook. Unsurprisingly many people are already wondering what it would mean for Linux users of the popular VoIP platform. Many major publications are running versions of the story.
The Almighty Buck

MIT Blackjack King Takes SMTP Public 108

An anonymous reader writes "Semyon Dukach is at it again. Thumbing his nose at the establishment, that is. Dukach, a former leader of the MIT blackjack team, has taken his small company, SMTP, public today in the hopes of overturning the field of e-mail delivery and management. SMTP might sound boring, but it's the latest vehicle in Dukach's quest to 'make a couple billion and then try to help the world' (without the aid of venture capitalists or investment bankers). Given his track record, people might not want to bet against him."

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.