By BeauHD from Slashdot's money-wiring department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: The New York Times is buying The Wirecutter, a five-year-old online consumer guide. The Times will pay more than $30 million, including retention bonuses and other payouts, for the startup, according to people familiar with the transaction. Brian Lam, a former editor at Gawker Media's Gizmodo, founded The Wirecutter in 2011, and has self-funded the company's growth. The Wirecutter provides recommendations for electronics and other gadgets that are both obsessively researched and simply presented. The Wirecutter also owns The Sweethome, which takes the same approach for home appliances and other gear. "We're very excited about this acquisition on two fronts," said Mark Thompson, CEO of The New York Times Company, in the acquisition release. "It's an impressively run business with a very attractive revenue model and its success is built on the foundation of great, rigorously reported service journalism." The Wirecutter tweeted earlier today: "Hey, we're still us. But we're a part of The New York Times now."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's innovations-and-rewards department
An anonymous reader shares a CNET report: If you can turn thin air into water, there may be more than $1 million in it for you. XPrize, which creates challenges that pit the brightest minds against one another, is hoping to set off a wave of new innovations in clean water -- and women's safety too. The company announced its Water Abundance XPrize and the Anu & Naveen Jain Women's Safety XPrize on Monday in New Delhi. The first competition will award $1.75 million to any team that can create a device able to produce at least 2,000 liters of water a day from the atmosphere, using completely renewable energy, for at most 2 cents a liter. Teams have up to two years to complete the challenge. India is at the center of the world's water crisis, with access to groundwater depleted in some northern and eastern parts of the country. Water has become so scarce in India that natural arsenic has infiltrated the soil and water in certain regions. While there are systems that can currently extract water from the atmosphere, many of them aren't energy-efficient, or generating enough water. "We know that overuse of groundwater resources are causing the water crisis and it's only getting worse," said Zenia Tata, XPrize's executive director of Global Expansion. The $1 million Women's Safety XPrize calls for an emergency alert system that women can use, even if they don't have access to their phones. The alert would have to be sent automatically and inconspicuously to emergency responders, within 90 seconds, at a cost of $40 or less a year. The device would have to work even in cases where there's no cellphone signal or internet access.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's climate-control department
The planet could pass a key target on world temperature rise in about a decade, prompting accelerating loss of glaciers, steep declines in water availability, worsening land conflicts and deepening poverty, scientists said this week. But the planet is already two-thirds of the way to that lower and safer goal, and could begin to pass it in about a decade, according to Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre. Reuters reports: With world emissions unlikely to slow quickly enough to hit that target, it will probably be necessary to remove some carbon pollution from the atmosphere to stabilize the planet, scientists said. That could happen by planting forests or by capturing and then pumping underground emissions from power plants. But other changes -- such as reducing food waste and creating more sustainable diets, with less beef and fewer imported greenhouse vegetables -- could also play a big role in meeting the goal, without so many risks, he said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's hostile-web department
An anonymous reader writes: The internet is becoming unreadable because of a trend towards lighter and thinner fonts, making it difficult for the elderly or visually-impaired to see words clearly, a web expert has found. Where text used to be bold and dark, which contrasted well with predominantly white backgrounds, now many websites are switching to light greys or blues for their type. Award winning blogger Kevin Marks, founder of Microformats and former vice president of web services at BT, decided to look into the trend after becoming concerned that his eyesight was failing because he was increasingly struggling to read on screen text. He found a 'widespread movement' to reduce the contrast between the words and the background, with tech giants Apple, Google and Twitter all altering their typography. True black on white text has a contrast ratio of 21:1 -- the maximum which can be achieved. Most technology companies agree that it is good practice for type to be a minimum of 7:1 so that the visually-impaired can still see text. But Mr Marks, found that even Apple's own typography guidelines, which recommended 7:1 are written in a contrast ratio of 5.5:1.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's antitrust department
An anonymous reader writes: The two top members of the Senate's antitrust subcommittee said Sunday that they plan to probe a colossal deal between AT&T and Time Warner. In a statement, Mike Lee, R-Utah., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. -- chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively, of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights -- said AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner "would potentially raise significant antitrust issues" that the panel would "carefully examine." AT&T Chairman and Chief Executive Randall Stephenson announced the $85 billion deal Saturday as "a great fit" that will combine the "world's best premium content with the networks to deliver it to every screen." Among those new properties are HBO, Turner Broadcasting System and Warner Bros., which would give them ownership of Cinemax, CNN and DC Comics, to name a few. Last year, AT&T completed the purchase of DirecTV, the country's largest satellite television provider. In an interview with NBC News, Klobuchar pointed to past mega-media acquisitions -- including the purchase of NBCUniversal by Comcast in 2011 and of Time Warner Cable by Charter Communications -- and said the "sheer volume" of the deal should give regulators pause.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's fixing-things department
An anonymous reader writes:Chinese firm Hangzhou Xiongmai said it will recall some of its products sold in the United States after it was identified by security researchers as having made parts for devices that were targeted in a major hacking attack on Friday. Hackers unleashed a complex attack on the Internet through common devices like webcams and digital recorders, and cut access to some of the world's best known websites in a stunning breach of global internet stability. The electronics components firm, which makes parts for surveillance cameras, said in a statement on its official microblog that it would recall some of its earlier products sold in the United States, strengthen password functions and send users a patch for products made before April last year. It said the biggest issue was users not changing default passwords, adding that, overall, its products were well protected from cyber security breaches. It said reports that its products made up the bulk of those targeted in the attack were false. "Security issues are a problem facing all mankind. Since industry giants have experienced them, Xiongmai is not afraid to experience them once, too," the company statement said.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's droning-on department
Slashdot reader Presto Vivace tipped us off to news reports that U.S. police officials are considering the use of flying drones to taser their suspects. From Digital Trends:
Talks have recently taken place between police officials and Taser International, a company that makes stun guns and body cameras for use by law enforcement, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. While no decision has yet been made on whether to strap stun guns to remotely controlled quadcopters, Taser spokesman Steve Tuttle said his team were discussing the idea with officials as part of broader talks about "various future concepts."
Tuttle told the Journal that such technology could be deployed in "high-risk scenarios such as terrorist barricades" to incapacitate the suspect rather than kill them outright... However, critics are likely to fear that such a plan would ultimately lead to the police loading up drones with guns and other weapons. Portland police department's Pete Simpson told the Journal that while a Taser drone could be useful in some circumstances, getting the public "to accept an unmanned vehicle that's got some sort of weapon on it might be a hurdle to overcome."
The article points out that there's already a police force in India with flying drones equipped with pepper spray.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's scratching-the-Surface department
An anonymous reader writes;
"These tablets always malfunction," complained one NFL offensive lineman in January, foreshadowing a growing backlash to Microsoft's $400 million deal with the NFL to use Surface tablets. Friday the coach of the San Francisco 49ers and their controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick both complained they've also experienced problems, with Kaepernick saying the screen freezes "every once in a while and they have to reboot it."
Friday Microsoft called their tablet "the center of the debate on the role of technology in the NFL," saying they deeply respect NFL teams "and the IT pro's who work tirelessly behind the scenes to help them succeed." It included quotes from NFL quarterbacks -- for example, "Every second counts and having Microsoft Surface technology on sidelines allows players and coaches to analyze what our opponents are trying to do in almost real time." But Yahoo Finance wrote that "The quotes read like they were written by the Microsoft public relations team," arguing that Microsoft's NFL deal "has been a disaster... The tablets failed to work during a crucial AFC Championship game last January -- again for the New England Patriots... sports media interpreted that the malfunction benefited the Broncos on the field, giving the team an unfair advantage -- the very last thing Microsoft's tablets, meant to aid coaches in their play calling, should be doing."
The NFL issued a statement calling Microsoft "an integral, strategic partner of the NFL," adding "Within our complex environment, many factors can affect the performance of a particular technology either related to or outside of our partner's solutions."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's j'accuse department
"Wondering which IoT device types are part of the Mirai botnet causing trouble today? Brian Krebs has the list, tweeted Trend Micro's Eric Skinner Friday, sharing an early October link which identifies Panasonic, Samsung and Xerox printers, and lesser known makers of routers and cameras. An anonymous reader quotes Fortune:
Part of the responsibility should also lie with lawmakers and regulators, who have failed to create a safety system to account for the Internet-of-Things era we are now living in. Finally, it's time for consumers to acknowledge they have a role in the attack too. By failing to secure the internet-connected devices, they are endangering not just themselves but the rest of the Internet as well.
If you're worried, Motherboard is pointing people to an online scanning tool from BullGuard (a U.K. anti-virus firm) which checks whether devices on your home network are listed in the Shodan search engine for unsecured IoT devices. But earlier this month, Brian Krebs pointed out the situation is exacerbated by the failure of many ISPs to implement the BCP38 security standard to filter spoofed traffic, "allowing systems on their networks to be leveraged in large-scale DDoS attacks..."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's flight-plans department
From Hollister, California -- population 40,000 -- comes a good update from the Mercury News on Larry Page's efforts to fund a flying car:
Even from a few hundred yards away, the aircraft made a noise strikingly different from the roar of a typical plane. "It sounded like an electric motor running, just a high-pitched whine," said Steve Eggleston, assistant manager at an airplane-parts company with offices bordering the Hollister Municipal Airport tarmac. But it wasn't only the sound that caught the attention of Eggleston and his co-workers at DK Turbines. It was what the aircraft was doing. "What the heck's that?" saleswoman Brittany Rodriguez thought to herself. It's just hovering."
That, apparently, was a flying car, or perhaps a prototype of another sort of aircraft under development by a mysterious startup called Zee.Aero...one of two reportedly funded by Google co-founder Larry Page to develop revolutionary forms of transportation... A Zee.Aero spokeswoman said the firm is "currently not discussing (its) plans publicly." However, a Zee.Aero patent issued in 2013 describes in some detail an aircraft capable of the hovering seen by people working at the airport. And the drawings showcase a vision of the future in which flying cars park in lots just like their terrestrial, less-evolved cousins.
Page has invested $100 million in Zee.Aero, which appears to have hired more than 100 aerospace engineers. But the article reports that apparently, in the small town where it's headquartered, "the first rule about Zee.Aero is you don't talk about Zee.Aero."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's you-may-have-already-won department
An anonymous reader writes:
"I didn't even know they gave out prizes," said a Brooklyn College CS professor, remembering how he'd learned that a demo of the Picat programming language won a $10,000 grand prize last month at the NYC Media Lab Summit. Professor Neng-Fa Zhou created Picat with programmer Jonathan Fruhman, and along with graduate student Jie Mei they'd created a demo titled "The Picat Language and its Application to Games and AI Problems" to showcase the language's ability to solve combinatorial search problems, "including a common interface with CP, SAT, and MIP solvers." Mie tells the Brooklyn College newspaper that Picat "is a multi-paradigm programming language aimed for general-purpose applications, which means theoretically it can be used for everything in life," and Zhou says he wants to continue making the language more useful in a variety of settings. "I want this to be successful, but not only academically... When you build something, you want people to use it. And this language has become a sensation in our community; other people have started using it."Read Replies (0)