By BeauHD from Slashdot's downward-spiral department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: Despite Mark Zuckerberg's early enthusiasm for virtual reality, the technology has stubbornly remained a hard sell for Facebook. Now, in yet another sign that VR is failing to capture the imagination of the public, the company has just cut the price of its Oculus Rift hardware for the second time this year. For the next six weeks, the Oculus Rift headset and its matching controllers will cost just $399. That's $400 less than when it first hit the market, and $200 less than when its price was first slashed in March. It means that the Rift now costs less than the package offered by its cheapest rival, Sony, whose PlayStation VR currently totals $460 including headset and controllers. Even so, it's not clear that it will be enough to lure people into buying a Rift. Jason Rubin, vice president for content at Oculus, tells Reuters that the reduction isn't a sign of weak product sales, but rather a decision to give the headset more mass market appeal now that more games are available.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department
An anonymous reader shares a report: We're halfway through 2017 and already a group of startups that together raised $1.48 billion have shut down. Some of these startups are: Beepi, the website that brought together car buyers and used-car sellers, shuttered in February. Quixey, a mobile search engine that was able to crawl apps, laid off most of its staff at the end of February. Yik Yak -- the anonymous social media app that was at the center of several college harassment scandals -- announced its closure on April 28, after struggling to keep users on its platform. Maple, a New York City-based food delivery service, closed down on May 8. Sprig, a San Francisco-centric service that delivered high-quality meals on demand, made its last delivery on May 26. Hello was the company behind the Sense sleep tracking sensor, which was designed to sit in users' rooms, rather than on their wrists. It closed in June after failing to find a buyer. Jawbone was a pioneer in wearable devices, with a focus on fitness trackers and portable speakers, but it struggled to pay its vendors.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's good-riddance department
Catalin Cimpanu, reporting for BleepingComputer: The Federal Trade Commission has shut down the operator of a large network of online loan sites that promised to find people the loans with the lowest rates, but actually sold users' data to third-parties, most of which weren't even lenders. The target of FTC's ire is a company named Blue Global Media, LLC and its CEO, Christopher Kay, against which the FTC filed an official complaint last Monday, July 3. According to the FTC, since 2012 Blue Global Media operated a network of 38 websites that promised users to match them with the best payday, personal, or auto loans using Blue Global Media's proprietary technology. Hoping to find loans with the smaller interest rate and friendlier terms, users entered a slew of personal details on Blue Global Media's websites, such as names, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, financial and banking information, driver's license, state ID numbers, income data, military status, home ownership info, and many other more.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's more-control department
China's government has told telecommunications carriers to block individuals' access to virtual private networks by Feb. 1, people familiar with the matter said, thereby shutting a major window to the global internet. From a report: Beijing has ordered state-run telecommunications firms, which include China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, to bar people from using VPNs, services that skirt censorship restrictions by routing web traffic abroad, the people said, asking not to be identified talking about private government directives. The clampdown will shutter one of the main ways in which people both local and foreign still manage to access the global, unfiltered web on a daily basis. China has one of the world's most restrictive internet regimes, tightly policed by a coterie of government regulators intent on suppressing dissent to preserve social stability. In keeping with President Xi Jinping's "cyber sovereignty" campaign, the government now appears to be cracking down on loopholes around the Great Firewall, a system that blocks information sources from Twitter and Facebook to news websites such as the New York Times and others.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-affinity department
An anonymous reader shares a report: A new report from Nielsen out this week paints a picture of the booming on-demand audio streaming business, pointing to a significant increase in consumers' use of streaming services and record numbers of streams being served. According to the mid-year report, which focuses only on the U.S. market, on-demand audio streams surpassed the 7 billion figure for the first time ever during March of this year. That's audio streams, to be clear -- not just music. That is, the term "audio" also includes non-music streams like spoken word recordings and podcasts -- the latter of which has also seen rapid growth. Nielsen isn't breaking out music versus non-music streams in this new report, but a prior figure from the measurement firm stated that monthly podcast consumption had doubled over the past five years among adults. Still, the rise of streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music have surely played a role in reaching the new milestones. Says Nielsen, streaming hit a high point of 7.5 billion weekly on-demand audio streams during the week ending March 9, 2017. That's the first time the figure had ever topped 7 billion, setting a new record. In addition, on-demand audio has been streamed over 184 billion times so far in 2017 â" a huge 62.4 percent increase over the same time period in 2016.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's no-prison-can-hold-MacGyver department
An anonymous reader quotes USA Today:
A fugitive South Carolina inmate recaptured in Texas this week had chopped his way through a prison fence using wire cutters apparently dropped by a drone, prison officials said Friday. Jimmy Causey, 46, fled the Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, S.C., on the evening of July 4th after leaving a paper mache doll in his bed to fool guards into thinking he was asleep. He was not discovered missing until Wednesday afternoon. Causey was captured early Friday 1,200 miles away in a motel in Austin by Texas Rangers acting on a tip, WLTX-TV reported... "We believe a drone was used to fly in the tools that allow(ed) him to escape," South Carolina Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said...
Stirling said prison officials are investigating the performance by prison guards that night but pointed to cellphones and drones as the main problem. The director said he and other officials have sought federal help for years to combat the use of drones to drop contraband into prison. "It's a simple fix," Stirling said. "Allow us to block the signal... They are physically incarcerated, but they are not virtually incarcerated."
It's the second time the same convict escaped from South Carolina's maximum security prison -- albeit the first time he's (allegedly) used a drone. The state's Law Enforcement Division Chief also complains that the federal government still prohibits state corrections officials from blocking cellphones, and "as long as cellphones continue to be utilized by inmates in prisons we're going to have things like this -- we're going to have very well-planned escapes..."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's unplanning-obsolescence department
An anonymous reader writes: The EU is preparing legislation that would legalize a customer's "right to repair," and would force vendors to design products for longer life and easier maintenance, in an effort to combat electronic waste and abusive practices like manufacturers legally preventing users from repairing their devices. The legislation is in its earlier stages of public discussion, but it already has the backing of several EU Members of Parliament, along with support from organizations like Greenpeace. Currently, in the US only eleven states have similar laws, and they have been adopted after years of public discussions, and only for certain markets, and not for all types of products. It is unclear what leverage the EU will use to force manufacturers to produce longer lasting products, as this would mean lesser profits for big businesses, who often used tactics such as software DRMs, warranty contract lock-ins, and soldering components together, just to avoid users repairing products on their own.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I-knew-you-were-going-to-say-that department
Mary Lou Jepsen is a former MIT professor with 100 patents and a former engineering executive at Facebook, Oculus, Intel, and Google[x] (now called X) -- and "she hopes to make communicating telepathically happen relatively soon." An anonymous reader quotes CNET:
Last year Jepsen left her job heading up display technology for the Oculus virtual reality arm of Facebook to develop new imaging technologies to help cure diseases. Shortly thereafter she founded Openwater, which is developing a device that puts the capabilities of a huge MRI machine into a lightweight wearable form. According to the startup's website, "Openwater is creating a device that can enable us to see inside our brains or bodies in great detail. With this comes the promise of new abilities to diagnose and treat disease and well beyond -- communicating with thought alone."
This week Jepsen went further and suggested a timeframe for such capabilities becoming reality. "I don't think this is going to take decades," she told CNBC. "I think we're talking about less than a decade, probably eight years until telepathy"... Jepsen, who has also spent time at Google X, MIT and Intel, says the basic idea is to shrink down the huge MRI machines found in medical hospitals into flexible LCDs that can be embedded in a ski hat and use infrared light to see what's going on in your brain. "Literally a thinking cap," Jepsen explains... The idea is that communicating by thought alone could be much faster and even allow us to become more competitive with the artificial intelligence that is supposedly coming for everyone's jobs very soon.
Jepsen tells CNBC, "If I threw [you] into an M.R.I. machine right now... I can tell you what words you're about to say, what images are in your head. I can tell you what music you're thinking of. That's today, and I'm talking about just shrinking that down."Read Replies (0)