By msmash from Slashdot's done-deal department
As rumored, Microsoft said Monday that it has acquired code repository website GitHub for a whopping sum of $7.5B in Microsoft stock. Microsoft Corporate Vice President Nat Friedman, founder of Xamarin and an open source veteran, will assume the role of GitHub CEO. GitHub's current CEO, Chris Wanstrath, will become a Microsoft technical fellow, reporting to Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie, to work on strategic software initiatives. From the blog post: "Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation," said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. "We recognize the community responsibility we take on with this agreement and will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world's most pressing challenges." Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. Subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close by the end of the calendar year. GitHub will retain its developer-first ethos and will operate independently to provide an open platform for all developers in all industries. Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects -- and will still be able to deploy their code to any operating system, any cloud and any device. The two companies, together, will "empower developers to achieve more at every stage of the development lifecycle, accelerate enterprise use of GitHub, and bring Microsoft's developer tools and services to new audiences," Microsoft said in a blog post. A portion of the developer community has opposed the move, with some already leaving the platform for alternative services. Update: In a conference call with reporters, Mr. Nadella said today the company is "all in with open source," and requested people to judge the company's commitment to the open source community with its actions in the recent past, today, and in the coming future. GitHub will remain open and independent, Mr. Nadella said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's saga-continues department
According to a report from The New York Times, Facebook formed data-sharing partnerships with Apple, Samsung, and dozens of other device makers, allowing them to access vast amounts of its users' personal information (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). From the report: Facebook has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers -- including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung -- over the last decade, starting before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, company officials said. The deals allowed Facebook to expand its reach and let device makers offer customers popular features of the social network, such as messaging, "like" buttons and address books. But the partnerships, whose scope has not previously been reported, raise concerns about the company's privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users' friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders. Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users' friends who believed they had barred any sharing, The New York Times found. Most of the partnerships remain in effect, though Facebook began winding them down in April.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's danger-zone department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Economist: Venture capitalists, such as Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures, who was an early investor in Twitter, now talk of a "kill-zone" around the giants. Once a young firm enters, it can be extremely difficult to survive. Tech giants try to squash startups by copying them, or they pay to scoop them up early to eliminate a threat. The idea of a kill-zone may bring to mind Microsoft's long reign in the 1990s, as it embraced a strategy of "embrace, extend and extinguish" and tried to intimidate startups from entering its domain. But entrepreneurs' and venture capitalists' concerns are striking because for a long while afterwards, startups had free rein. [...] Venture capitalists are wary of backing startups in online search, social media, mobile and e-commerce. It has become harder for startups to secure a first financing round. According to Pitchbook, a research company, in 2017 the number of these rounds were down by around 22% from 2012 (see chart).
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By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road? department
The supposed acquisition of popular code repository GitHub by Microsoft has drawn an unprecedented backlash from the developer community. Over the weekend, after Bloomberg reported that the two companies could make the announcement as soon as Monday, hundreds of developers took to forums and social media to express their disappointment, with many saying that they would be leaving the platform if the deal goes through. So why so much outrage? In a conversation with Slashdot, software developer and student Sean said that he believes a deal of such capacity would be bad for the open source community. "They've shown time and time again that they can't be trusted," he said. Sean and many other believe that Microsoft would eventually start telemetry program on the code repository. "Aside from Microsoft not being trustworthy to the open source community, I'm sure they'll add tracking and possibly even ads to all the sites within GitHub. As well as possibly use it to push LinkedIn (which they own)," he said. Ryan Hoover, the founder of ProductHunt, wrote on Sunday, "Anecdotally, the developer community is very unapproving of this move. I'm curious how Microsoft manages this and how GitHub changes (or doesn't change)." Even as Microsoft has "embraced" the open source community in the recent years (under the leadership of Mr. Nadella), for many developers, it will take time -- if at all -- to forget the company's past closed-ecosystem approach. Just this weekend, a developer accused Microsoft of stealing his code. A petition that seeks to "stop Microsoft from buying Github" had garnered support from more than 300 developers. Prominent developer Andre Staltz said, "If you're still optimistic about the Microsoft-GitHub acquisition, consider this: They didn't ask your opinion not even a single bit, even though it was primarily your commits, stars, and repositories which made GH become a valuable platform." More importantly, if the comments left on Slashdot, Reddit, and HackerNews, places that overwhelmingly count developers and other IT industry experts among their audience, are anything to go by, Microsoft better has a good plan on how it intends to operate GitHub after the buyout. Security reporter Catalin Cimpanu said, "LinkedIn has turned into a slow-loading junk after the Microsoft acquisition. I can only imagine what awaits GitHub." On his part, Mat Velloso, who is technical advisor to CTO at Microsoft, said, "I don't think people understand how many of us at Microsoft love GitHub to the bottom of our hearts. If anybody decided to mess with that community, there would be a riot to say the least."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's natively-supported department
Audiofan writes from a report via Audioholics, written by Gene DellaSala: Variety is said to be the spice of life. Why only eat cherry Starbursts when you can sample orange, watermelon, lemon, etc? The same applies to multi-channel surround sound upmixers. But the folks at Dolby apparently want you to eat only one flavor. Their flavor. Dolby recently issued a mandate to all of their Atmos licensee partners to restrict usage of third-party upmixers with any Dolby signals including 5.1/7.1 DD, DD+, TrueHD and Atmos. That means if you're running a DTS Soundbar, it won't process a Dolby signal, or no dice if you want to use the Auro-Matic Upmixer for a native Dolby signal. Is Dolby doing this to protect their IP or to monopolize consumer audio like they tried to do with their patented Atmos-enabled speaker? The copy of the mandate that was sent to all of Dolby's licensee partners has the following guidelines: Native Dolby Atmos content shall NOT be up-mixed, surround or height virtualized by any 3rd party competitor upmixer (ie. DTS or Auro-3D); Channel-Based DD/DD+, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and 7.1 codecs shall not be height virtualized by any 3rd party upmixer (ie. DTS). (This implies height virtualization without height speakers. DTS has this capability but Auro-3D does not). Audioholics notes the company will however "permit third party upmixing and/or surround virtualization of channel-based codecs that support Dolby Atmos rendering as long as the third party doesn't license their own upmixing technologies to third parties." As for why Dolby is issuing this mandate to its licensees, it may come down to two reasons: control quality of content so that their upmixer is only used with their software; put an end to Auro-3D and strike a blow to DTS.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's downward-sloping-demand-curve department
2017 was the first year that smartphone unit shipments didn't grow, according to a new Internet Trends report. "Shipments actually declined by 0.5 percent, as IDC noted in February," reports The Verge. "In 2016, shipments were lukewarm at 2 percent yearly growth, but this downturn is significant." From the report: Among smartphone shipments, Android and iOS have all but completely pushed out every other mobile operating system. And despite the growing price of today's top flagship devices, the average selling price of a smartphone has steadily fallen over the years. As more of the world now owns smartphones, growth has basically stalled. Similarly, internet user growth has only grown 7 percent in 2017, compared to 12 percent in 2016. More people are accessing the internet than ever, on an average of 5.9 hours a day. And they're browsing on mobile, indicating that they're just holding onto older models of phones instead of buying new ones.Read Replies (0)
By whipslash from Slashdot's meet-the-new-bosses department
Microsoft Corp. has agreed to acquire GitHub Inc., the code repository company popular with many software developers, and could announce the deal as soon as Monday, according to people familiar with the matter.
GitHub preferred selling the company to going public and chose Microsoft partially because it was impressed by Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. Terms of the agreement weren't known on Sunday. GitHub was last valued at $2 billion in 2015.
GitHub is an essential tool for coders. Many corporations, including Microsoft and Alphabet Inc.'s Google, use GitHub to store their corporate code and to collaborate. It's also a social network of sorts for developers. While GitHub's losses have been significant -- it lost $66 million over three quarters in 2016 -- it had revenue of $98 million in nine months of that year.
On Friday, it was reported that Microsoft was in talks with GitHub about an acquisition. Now it seems like it's actually happening.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's there's-more-than-meets-the-eye department
New submitter DuroSoft writes: It has been over a year since Microsoft unveiled its open source GVFS (Git Virtual File System) project, designed to make terabyte-scale repositories, like it's own 270GB Windows source code, manageable using Git. The problem is that the GNOME project already has a virtual file system by the name of GVfs that has been in use for years, with hundreds of threads on Stack Overflow, etc. Yet Microsoft's GVFS has already surpassed GVfs in Google and is causing confusion. To make matters worse, Microsoft has officially refused to change the name, despite a large public backlash on GitHub and social media, and despite pull requests providing scripts that can change the name to anything Microsoft wants. Is this mere arrogance on Microsoft's part, laziness to do a quick Google search before using a name, or is it something more sinister?Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's force-fed department
A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a psychopathic algorithm named Norman, as part of an experiment to see what training artificial intelligence on data from "the dark corners of the net" would do to its world view. Unlike most "normal" algorithms by AI, Norman does not have an optimistic view of the world. BBC reports: The software was shown images of people dying in gruesome circumstances, culled from a group on the website Reddit. Then the AI, which can interpret pictures and describe what it sees in text form, was shown inkblot drawings and asked what it saw in them. These abstract images are traditionally used by psychologists to help assess the state of a patient's mind, in particular whether they perceive the world in a negative or positive light. Norman's view was unremittingly bleak -- it saw dead bodies, blood and destruction in every image. Alongside Norman, another AI was trained on more normal images of cats, birds and people. It saw far more cheerful images in the same abstract blots.
The fact that Norman's responses were so much darker illustrates a harsh reality in the new world of machine learning, said Prof Iyad Rahwan, part of the three-person team from MIT's Media Lab which developed Norman. "Data matters more than the algorithm. "It highlights the idea that the data we use to train AI is reflected in the way the AI perceives the world and how it behaves."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's story-of-survival department
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via The Guardian, written by Hermione Hoby: Michael Seidenberg, pictured kingly in his throne of a wicker chair, feet spread, pipe in mouth, is one of around 50 New York indie booksellers featured in a series of portraits by Philippe Ungar and Franck Bohbot, a pair of bibliophilic Frenchmen who met and befriended each other in Brooklyn. The two, writer and photographer respectively, have taken great pleasure in traveling across the city, to neighborhoods in every borough, to meet and photograph booksellers in their habitats. Despite their diversity, the way their distinct personalities and passions are reflected and amplified in their shops, they are all, says Ungar, "looking for the same thing -- a generous vision of sharing culture". Ungar mentions Corey Farach, owner of the scruffy, adored and longstanding feminist bookshop Bluestockings. Farach, as Ungar recounts with admiration, encourages those people who can't afford to buy a $40 book to take a seat, make themselves comfortable, and just read it in the shop. "That is to me," says Ungar, "the spirit of the indie booksellers." Because, as he sees it, "a bookstore is much more than a bookstore, it's much more than selling books. It's a public shelter. Whoever you are, you don't have to buy anything, they won't ask you for your ID. You're free -- you can stay for hours and browse. There's a generosity, an optimism. And that's what we wanted to enhance." "[I]ndie bookshops are outposts of idealism," writes Hoby. "And if they seem like the most romantic places in the city, it might be down to this -- to the way their owners and customers might all be engaged in the same project, a kind of sanctuary building in the unsheltered world." She goes on to mention Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, "a small space crammed with vintage titles," as well several closed bookshops "which have fallen to astronomically rising rents." "Three Lives & Company [...] narrowly escaped closure in 2016 after an upswell of neighborhood support," writes Hoby. The group that owns the building decided to "provide it with stability," given how well-loved it is in the West Village.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's digital-middleman department
Earlier this week, a judge in Tennessee ruled that Amazon isn't liable for damages caused by a hoverboard that spontaneously exploded and burned down a family's house, even though they bought it on Amazon's website. "The plaintiff claimed that Amazon didn't properly warn her about the dangers they knew existed with the product, but the judge didn't agree," reports CNBC. At the time, hoverboards were all the rage; Amazon sold almost 250,000 of them over a 30-day period. The plaintiff claims the company had an obligation to warn customers properly about the dangers it knew existed. "[The plaintiff] bought the hoverboard on Amazon, the receipt came from Amazon, the box had an Amazon label and all the money was in Amazon's hands," adds CNBC. "[The plaintiff] has been unable to find the Chinese manufacturer of the device." From the report: It's the latest legal victory for Amazon, which has for years fended off litigation related to product quality and safety by arguing that, for a big and growing part of its business, it's just a marketplace. There are buyers on one end and sellers on the other -- the argument goes -- and Amazon connects them through a popular portal, facilitating the transaction with a sophisticated logistics system. The courts are reinforcing the power of Amazon's business model as the ultimate middleman. But for American consumers, there's growing cause for concern. [...] But if Amazon isn't liable when faulty products sold through its website cause personal injuries and property damage, customers are often left with no recourse. That's because it's frequently impossible for consumers to figure out who manufactured the defective product and hold that party responsible.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's too-hot-to-handle department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A California state bill that would have more heavily regulated the use of flamethrowers has now effectively fizzled out in a legislative committee. In light of this development, there's nothing to stop Boring Company customers in California from receiving the company's sold-out flamethrowers. On May 26, the day after the bill died in committee, CEO Elon Musk tweeted: "About to ship. @BoringCompany holding flamethrower pickup parties in a week or so, then deliveries begin. Check https://www.boringcompany.com/... for details." After Musk said he would be selling a flamethrower dubbed "Not a Flamethrower" to get around customs, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) authored a bill that would have imposed more restrictions on their acquisition and use.
"I honestly thought it was a joke when I saw the news about this," the assemblyman said in a statement at the time. "This product, in the wake of California's deadliest wildfire year in state history, is incredibly insensitive, dangerous, and most definitely not funny." He added: "There are many times in which technology and inventions benefit society but are not made available to the public. We don't allow people to walk in off the street and purchase military grade tanks or armor-piercing ammunition... I cannot even begin to imagine the problems a flamethrower would cause firefighters and police officers alike."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's un-friending department
An anonymous reader quotes the Mercury News' report on Facebook's annual shareholder's meeting:
On Thursday in Menlo Park, one investor compared the social network's poor stewardship of user data to a human rights violation. Another warned that scandal is not good for Facebook's bottom line. And one advised Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to emulate George Washington, not Vladimir Putin, and avoid turning Facebook into a "corporate dictatorship." Facebook struggled to keep order, kicking one woman out of the meeting within the first few minutes for repeated interruptions. A plane zipped overhead pulling a banner that read "YOU BROKE DEMOCRACY" and advertising Freedom From Facebook, a group of privacy and anti-monopoly activists that are pressing the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to break up the company...
Zuckerberg repeated the same reassurances he used in front of U.S. and European lawmakers earlier this year: The company hasn't taken a broad enough view of its responsibility... "We're also very focused on being more transparent," Zuckerberg said, touting the fact that the company had just posted its policies on content moderation for the first time. Minutes earlier, the company announced that shareholder proposals for more transparency and oversight had failed, surprising no one. Zuckerberg controls the company through special stock that gives him more votes than other shareholders.
"Facebook said that just because the proposals were blocked, that didn't mean the company doesn't care about these issues."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hello-my-name-is department
"The tech industry has reached a maximum saturation point for conferences, summits and forums," writes CNN's senior media reporter, sharing his general disillusionment after Recode's recent Code Conference:
But even at their best, these events fail to generate truly significant news because executives have been media-trained to the point of impenetrability... [S]peakers like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek have mastered the art -- there should be a German word for it -- of speaking for 30+ minutes without saying much of consequence or going beyond their comfort zone... [I]n two days, nothing was said on stage that fundamentally changed the existing narrative for any of these companies... Business executives are more strategic and more cautious than ever in how they speak publicly. The business media needs to be equally strategic in pushing them to say more.
He argues that the best things about conferences happen offstage, when attendees network and talk among themselves. Is that your experience, Slashdot readers? Share your own thoughts in the comments.
Are tech conferences overrated?Read Replies (0)