By BeauHD from Slashdot's out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new department
Google is no longer selling the Pixel C, its flagship Android tablet released about two years ago. "Google's commitment to Android on tablets wasn't strong even then, and now the Pixel C is gone from the Google Store -- the listing page redirects you to the Pixelbook," reports Android Police. From the report: The Pixel C was an odd device. By all accounts, the hardware was originally intended to run Chrome OS, but Google couldn't get the platform ready for an all-touch device in time. So, the Pixel C became an Android slate. Google has been selling the device continuously since late 2015. It even offered some discounts on the tablet via the Google Store, which it almost never does for other devices. The 32GB Pixel C was pulled a while back, but Google kept the 64GB variant around. At a whopping $599, I doubt many people were buying it. Now, the Pixel C is completely gone from the Google Store, and there's no new tablet to replace it.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
If the United States were more like the rest of the world, a McDonald's Quarter Pounder might be known as the McDonald's 113-Grammer, John Henry's 9-pound hammer would be 4.08 kilograms, and any 800-pound gorillas in the room would likely weigh 362 kilos. NPR explores: One reason this country never adopted the metric system might be pirates. Here's what happened: In 1793, the brand new United States of America needed a standard measuring system because the states were using a hodgepodge of systems. "For example, in New York, they were using Dutch systems, and in New England, they were using English systems," says Keith Martin, of the research library at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This made interstate commerce difficult. The secretary of state at the time was Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson knew about a new French system and thought it was just what America needed. He wrote to his pals in France, and the French sent a scientist named Joseph Dombey off to Jefferson carrying a small copper cylinder with a little handle on top. It was about 3 inches tall and about the same wide. This object was intended to be a standard for weighing things, part of a weights and measure system being developed in France, now known as the metric system. The object's weight was 1 kilogram. Crossing the Atlantic, Dombey ran into a giant storm. "It blew his ship quite far south into the Caribbean Sea," says Martin. And you know who was lurking in Caribbean waters in the late 1700s? Pirates.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's win-win department
According to Recode, "Softbank and its co-investors have successfully acquired at least 13 percent of Uber, a major victory for Uber's new CEO and one that will give billions of dollars in cash to some of the company's earliest investors and employees." Recode highlights the far-reaching consequences:
Uber's board of directors, which had devolved into a power struggle between Uber's former CEO, Travis Kalanick, and its largest investor, Benchmark, will now likely be calmer. Benchmark is expected to drop its lawsuit against him. And Uber will enact governance reforms that disempower the two warring factions and increase the size of the board to a massive 17 people.
A lot of people are now very rich. While we have yet to learn which investors have cashed out for the price of about $33 a share, Thursday's result is the reward for years of drama at a company that nevertheless saw astronomical growth since its founding in 2009. Uber's earliest employees who sold are now millionaires, and venture firms could see billions of dollars flow into their bank accounts.
Uber now has a powerful strategic partner in SoftBank, the Japanese telecom giant that is investing hundreds of billions of dollars in technology. SoftBank, which is heavily invested in other ride-hailing companies around the globe, could help Uber strike more partnership deals, especially in Asia. SoftBank will occupy two seats on the company's board and will now be an extremely influential player in decisions at Uber.
The deal nevertheless sharply discounts Uber's value, which last year was estimated at almost $70 billion. SoftBank and its co-investors are acquiring some of the company at a valuation of $48 billion. While a 30 percent discount is not unusual in a transaction like this, it does reflect some concerns about how the company can move forward after a year of upheavel that has not totally abated.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's real-news department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Conspiracy theories, like the world being flat or the Moon landings faked, have proven notoriously difficult to stomp out. Add a partisan twist to the issue, and the challenge becomes even harder. Even near the end of his second term, barely a quarter of Republicans were willing to state that President Obama was born in the U.S. If we're seeking to have an informed electorate, then this poses a bit of a problem. But a recent study suggests a very simple solution helps limit the appeal of conspiracy theories: news media literacy. This isn't knowledge of the news, per se, but knowledge of the companies and processes that help create the news. While the study doesn't identify how the two are connected, its authors suggest that an understanding of the media landscape helps foster a healthy skepticism.
[...] "Despite popular conceptions," the authors point out, "[conspiratorial thinking] is not the sole province of the proverbial nut-job." When mixed in with the sort of motivated reasoning that ideology can, well, motivate, crazed ideas can become relatively mainstream. Witness the number of polls that indicated the majority of Republicans thought Obama wasn't born in the U.S., even after he shared his birth certificate. While something that induces a healthy skepticism of information sources might be expected to help with this, it's certainly not guaranteed, as motivated reasoning has been shown to be capable of overriding education and knowledge on relevant topics.
[...] As a whole, the expected connection held up: "for both conservatives and liberals, more knowledge of the news media system related to decreased endorsement of liberal conspiracies." And, conversely, the people who did agree with conspiracy theories tended to know very little about how the news media operated.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
From a report: As streaming services like Netflix and Hulu surge in popularity, movie theaters have been trying to compete by rethinking the concession counter and installing seats that resemble beds. Yet attendance was flat at North American cinemas in 2016, and analysts are predicting a 4 percent decline in 2017, bringing ticket sales to a 22-year low. Perhaps something more radical is necessary. Mitch Lowe, a Netflix co-founder, certainly thought so when he took over a ticketing firm called MoviePass in June 2016. By August of this year, when MoviePass introduced a cut-rate, subscription-based plan -- go to the movies 365 times a year for $9.95 a month -- Mr. Lowe had been declared an enemy of the state. "Not welcome here," AMC Entertainment, the largest multiplex operator in North America, said in an indignant August news release that threatened legal action. It may be time to get on board: MoviePass said this month that it had signed up more than one million subscribers in just four months (Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source). It took Netflix more than three years to reach that level when it started selling low-priced subscriptions for DVD rentals in 1999. Spotify was relatively quick, at five months in 2011. It took Hulu 10 months to reach one million later that year. "We're actually shocked," Mr. Lowe said. "We seem to have hit a nerve in America."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's where-we-are department
Sean Portnoy, writing for ZDNet: The ever-maturing PC industry hasn't deterred manufacturers large and small from embracing crowdfunding as a method of bringing new systems to market, whether they need the funds to produce their new product, or just want to gain publicity and guarantee some upfront sales. Not every launch on Kickstarter or one of its rivals is a roaring success, but enough are to keep the campaigns coming. It was no different in 2017, as several companies offered new devices for crowdfunding, although some of them were clearly drawing inspiration from the past. That includes the Gemini, which answers the question: What would a PDA look like in a world filled with smartphones that have essentially replaced it? That answer is a clam-shell handheld with a physical keyboard, 5.99-inch screen, and Android and Linux dual-boot capability (along with built-in Wi-Fi and 4G option to keep up with the times). As unlikely as you might think such a device would be attractive in a world of iPhones, tablets, Chromebooks, and other portables, the company behind the Gemini, UK startup Planet Computers, easily surpassed its campaign target on IndieGogo, raising over $1.1 million. Another tiny computer, the GPD Pocket, doesn't look all that different from the Gemini, though it doesn't try to market itself specifically as a PDA. Instead, parent company GamePad Digital (or GPD) defines it as a 7-inch Windows laptop, complete with 8GB of RAM, 128GB solid-state drive, and full HD touchscreen. The list goes on.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
An anonymous reader shares a WSJ report: More than 100 million Americans are expected to travel during the holidays, and many will search for lodging online. But travelers may unknowingly pay more and fail to see all of their options because some major hotels have ganged up with Google to undercut competition (The link may be paywalled). Online travel agencies like Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity have replaced brick-and-mortar agents by offering consumers more choice and convenience at a lower price. These OTAs purchase inventory from wholesalers and then market rooms at a discount to consumers in addition to flights, rental cars and travel packages. Many also have agreements with companies like American Express, Costco and Delta to market their inventory. OTA websites let travelers sift through hotel offers based on price, brand, location, amenities and guest rating, among other search filters. OTAs earn a roughly 20 percent commission from hotels for each reservation they book, which covers their cost of marketing, inventory acquisition, customer support and payment processing. As hotels get squeezed by Airbnb and home rental sites, they have begun complaining that OTAs are eating into their profits. Several major hotels are now trying to use Google as a counterweight, while Google is exploiting its search dominance to steer consumers to its travel service. Some 60% of travelers begin trip-planning on Google.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's where's-your-bitcoin,-dude department
Everyone from early investors to cybercriminals has benefited from the huge spike in the value of bitcoin in the past few weeks. It's a boon for one other outfit that has likely racked up tens of millions of dollars' worth of the cryptocurrency: WikiLeaks. Joseph Cox, reporting for The Daily Beast: The transparency organization may be sitting on a stockpile of bitcoin valued at around $25 million, and has likely exchanged several other large cryptocurrency caches for fiat cash, according to two sources who independently analyzed WikiLeaks's bitcoin transactions. "Last wallet looks like his piggy bank," John Bambenek, a security expert who has previously tracked Neo-Nazis' use of bitcoin, told The Daily Beast, pointing to a specific bitcoin address believed to be linked to WikiLeaks. Since at least 2011, WikiLeaks has allowed supporters to send bitcoin donations. As noted by James Ball, a journalist and former WikiLeaks staffer, whoever is in control of this address -- presumably WikiLeaks -- moved around 3,000 bitcoin, worth $800 each, into a series of other accounts on one day in December 2013.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's twitter's-nazi-problem department
Yair Rosenberg, writing for the New York Times: I asked my own Twitter followers whether it might be possible to create a bot that would reply to these impostors and expose their true nature to any users they tried to fool. Neal Chandra, a talented developer in San Francisco whom I've never met, replied, "I can try to throw something together this evening." And so, after a week of testing, Impostor Buster was born. Using a crowdsourced database of impersonator accounts, carefully curated by us to avoid any false positives, the bot patrolled Twitter and interjected whenever impostors tried to insinuate themselves into a discussion (Editor's note: the link may be paywalled). Within days, our golem for the digital age had become a runaway success, garnering thousands of followers and numerous press write-ups. Most important, we received countless thank-yous from alerted would-be victims. The impersonator trolls seethed. Some tried changing their user names to evade the bot (it didn't work). Others simply reverted to their openly neo-Nazi personas. A few even tried to impersonate the bot, which was vastly preferable from our perspective and rather amusing. Twitter sided with the Nazis. In April, the service suspended Impostor Buster without explanation and reinstated it only after being contacted by the ADL's cyber-hate team. Over the next few months, we fine-tuned the bot to reduce its tweets and avoid tripping any of Twitter's alarms. As the trolls continued to report the bot to no avail, we thought the problem was resolved. But we were wrong. This month, Twitter suspended the bot again, and this time refused to revive it.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's irony-at-its-finest department
schwit1 shares an exclusive report via BuzzFeed: The fingerprint-analysis software used by the FBI and more than 18,000 other U.S. law enforcement agencies contains code created by a Russian firm with close ties to the Kremlin, according to documents and two whistleblowers. The allegations raise concerns that Russian hackers could gain backdoor access to sensitive biometric information on millions of Americans, or even compromise wider national security and law enforcement computer systems. The Russian code was inserted into the fingerprint-analysis software by a French company, said the two whistleblowers, who are former employees of that company. The firm -- then a subsidiary of the massive Paris-based conglomerate Safran -- deliberately concealed from the FBI the fact that it had purchased the Russian code in a secret deal, they said. The Russian company whose code ended up in the FBI's fingerprint-analysis software has Kremlin connections that should raise similar national security concerns, said the whistleblowers, both French nationals who worked in Russia. The Russian company, Papillon AO, boasts in its own publications about its close cooperation with various Russian ministries as well as the Federal Security Service -- the intelligence agency known as the FSB that is a successor of the Soviet-era KGB and has been implicated in other hacks of U.S. targets.
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