By manishs from Slashdot's cost-cutting department
Not everything is working out at Dropbox, popular cloud storage and sharing service, last valued at $10 billion. Business Insider is reporting a major cost cutting at the San Francisco-based company. As part of it, the publication reports, Dropbox has cancelled its free shuttle in San Francisco, its gym washing service, pushed back dinner time by an hour and curtailed the number of guests to five per month (previously it was unlimited). These cuttings will directly impact Dropbox's profitability. According to a leaked memo, obtained by BI, employee perks alone cost the company at least $25,000 a year for each employee. (Dropbox has nearly 1,500 employees.) From the report: Dropbox isn't the only high-profile startup to unleash a company wide cost-cutting campaign lately. A number of unicorn startups, worth over $1 billion, including Evernote, Jawbone, and Tango, have all gone through some form of cost cuts, whether layoffs, office closures, or reduced employee perks. [...] A lot of this has to do with the slowing venture funding environment in Silicon Valley. Investors have become much more conservative with their money lately, and are losing patience for startups that have failed to generate returns after years of free spending. For Dropbox, the cost cuts may have less to do with the state of the VC market than with its own ambitions. Dropbox CEO Drew Houston has repeatedly said in the past that he doesn't need to raise capital in the private market anymore. Instead, Dropbox may want to show investors that its business is strong enough to IPO.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's do-not-pass-Go department
"A new system called 'video visitation' is replacing in-person jail visits with glitchy, expensive Skype-like video calls," reports Tech.Mic. "It's inhumane, dystopian and actually increases in-prison violence -- but god, it makes money."
Slashdot reader gurps_npc writes: In-person costs a lot to administer, while you can charge people to 'visit' via video conferencing. (Charge as in overcharge -- just like they charge up to $14 a minute for normal, audio only telephone calls). This is new, and the few studies that have been done show that doing this increases violence in the prison -- and it's believed to also increase recidivism. But the companies making a ton on it like that -- repeat customers and all. Of course, the service is horrible, often being full of static and dropped calls -- and the company doesn't help you fix the problem.
Meanwhile, the EFF reports that last year Facebook disabled 53 U.S prisoner and 74 U.K. prisoner accounts at the request of the government, and is urging people to report takedown requests for inmate social media to OnlineCensorship.org.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's freshly-minted department
An anonymous reader quotes this report from Distrowatch: Linux Mint 18 will no longer provide separate, codec-free installation media for OEM and magazine distribution. Instead, the distribution will ship without multimedia support while making it easy for users to acquire media codecs during the initial installation of the operating system. "OEM installation disks and NoCodec images will no longer be released. Instead, similar to other distributions, images will ship without codecs and will support both traditional and OEM installations. This will reduce our release cycle to 4 separate events and the production and testing of 12 ISO images. Multimedia codecs can be installed easily: From the welcome screen, by clicking on "Multimedia Codecs", or from the main menu, by clicking on "Menu"->"Sound and Video"->"Install Multimedia Codecs", or during the installation process, by clicking a checkbox option." Additional information on the upcoming release of Linux Mint 18 can be found in the project's monthly newsletter.
Softpedia points out that they're using Ubuntu 16.04 LTS as the package base, meaning "more hardware devices and components are now supported."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's answer-is-42 department
Slashdot reader smugfunt shares a blog post from systems scientist George Mobus:
"There is a fundamental language of systems that provides a way to describe both structures and functions that is universal across any kind of system... I am nearing completion of the basic specification of the language and will be presenting my results at the next ISSS conference in Boulder CO this July... This language, which I formally call SL, but privately call "systemese", is like the machine language of the universe. Any system you choose to analyze and model can be described in this language...! The beauty of the approach is that the end product of analysis is a compilable program that is the model of the system. The language does not just cover dynamics (e.g. system dynamics), or agents (agent-based), or evolutionary (e.g., genetic algorithms) models. It incorporates all of the above plus real adaptivity and learning (e.g. biological-like), and real evolvability (as when species or corporations evolve in complex non-stationary environments)... Systemese and mentalese (the language of thought), a concept advanced by philosopher of mind Jerry Fodor, are basically one in the same! That is, our brains, at a subconscious level, use systemese to construct our models of how the world works.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's does-Siri-dream-of-electric-sheep? department
An anonymous coward writes: Susan Bennett, the actress who provided the voice of Apple's Siri assistant, says she "doesn't really" use Siri herself. "It's too weird," she says in a new interview. While she uses many Apple products, "I'm used to hearing my voice on radio and TV commercials and that sort of thing, but to hear my own voice coming out of this little computer phone is too strange."
Bennett says she recorded every sound combination in the English language one fateful July in 2005, working five days a week, four hours a day, but didn't know it was for Siri until six years later, in 2011, when another voice actor e-mailed,"Hey, we're playing around with this new iPhone. Isn't this you?" Bennett says she was "kind of horrified, because I hadn't been told... On the other hand, I was extremely flattered."
In the interview she also says she felt "dissed" when Siri answered one of her first questions, "What are you doing," with a disgusted "I'm talking to you..." Although on her personal web site, Bennett shares a recording of herself being interviewed by Siri.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's clean-Slate department
Long-time Slashdot reader robot5x writes: I'm a fan of online privacy and, where possible, don't automatically permit cookies and tend to set Ghostery to block all trackers in my browser. This rarely causes a problem -- I have lots of subscriptions to various sites which require me to login and have only rarely encountered minor issues. Recently I had a present of a Slate Plus membership. I really like their content and was keen on supporting it financially. Activating it from the email they sent required me to first register as a user. I clicked on the icon, and nothing happened. Ghostery picked up 7 trackers which I had blocked.
Assuming that one of these was the cause, I activated each in turn and reloaded. None of them made any difference, except a single tracker from JanRain. Accepting this tracker let everything work perfectly. Reading more about JanRain though -- and particularly its interaction with Adobe analytics (which it also tries to load) -- I discovered that they wanted to "create a holistic view of your business by collecting, analyzing and reporting all customer interactions. To derive the most actionable insights, you must link your customers' actions with who they are and what their interests are. Janrain bridges the gap by connecting demographic and psychographic data, collected through traditional and social login, with Adobe's behavioral data, so you understand the whole customer journey". I do not want them to do any of this, and don't think I should have to. Interactions with Slate's 'support' were excruciating and -- while they at least didn't ask me to restart my computer -- they actually ended up saying that allowing these trackers is tied to their login process and I have to either accept or get a refund.
Robot 5x asks: Is it unacceptable to have to accept being tracked as a paying customer for new sites? "Or am I just being a big baby?"Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's better-than-one department
HughPickens.com writes: Tucows began as a software downloads site nearly 25 years ago and has since evolved beyond that early core business and into domain names, mobile phone service and symmetrical gigabit fiber Internet in select towns and cities in the US. Now Tucows has announced that as a gesture of goodwill, Tucows has banned deceptive ads, hidden download buttons, pop-ups, flypaper, toolbars and other such Internet nastiness from the the nearly 40,000 software titles it hosts for users on it's download sites. "On the Tucows downloads site today, you'll find no flashing ads. No toolbars. No pop-ups," says CEO Elliot Noss. "You might see a few plugs for other Tucows services, but nothing too egregious and certainly not anything that's pretending to be a download button." With Tucows' success in domain names, mobile phone service (Ting) and fiber Internet (Ting Internet), Tucows' revenue from downloads has become less relevant when looking at the balance sheet. "We don't lightly walk away from opportunities or revenue," says Noss. "In the end, though, we'd rather have the Tucows name associated with good; with a belief in the power of the Internet to affect positive change. An ad-heavy site that packages browser toolbars along with every download isn't something we want people to think of when they hear 'Tucows,'."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's moment-of-silence department
New submitter loren writes: It is with much sadness that I report that legendary sound designer Jory K. Prum, who worked on more than 120 video game titles, passed away April 22, 2016, at age 41, from injuries suffered in a March traffic accident. (Disclaimer: I am a long time friend of Jory and his family.) Here are some personal recollections from family, friends and colleagues... Also, a list of his game credits are on MobyGames. This post doesn't do him justice, but I found news of his loss conspicuously absent on Slashdot.
Back in 2006 a Slashdot article about the game Bone apparently drew a comment from Jory himself ("Funny, I'm recording the dialog for Bone 2 right as I read this!") and in 2004 the same account weighed in on an article about long hours at Electronic Arts. Wikipedia also reports that in 2001 Jory created a voice for Pixar's Oscar-winning short "For the Birds," and in 2014 recovered the aging audio for the classic point-and-click adventure game Grim Fandango.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's legacy-code department
Slashdot reader RockDoctor brings an update on a project to build Babbage's Analytical Engine:
Between 1822 and 1847, Charles Babbage worked on a number of designs for general-purpose programmable computing engines, some parts of which were built during his lifetime and after.
Since 2011 a group under the name of "Plan-28" have been working towards building a full version of the machine known as the Analytical Engine. (The group's name refers to the series of Babbage's plans which they are working to -- versions 1 to 27 obviously having problems.) This week, they've released some updates on progress on their blog. Significant progress includes working on the machine's "internal microcode" (in today's terminology; remember, this is a machine of brass cogs and punched cards!) [and] archive work to bring the Science Museum's material into a releasable form (the material is already scanned, but the metadata is causing eyestrain). "One of the difficulties in understanding the designs is the need to reverse engineer logical function from mechanical drawings of mechanisms -- this without textual explanation of purpose or intention..." Progress is slow, but real.
Last year marked the bicentennial of Ada Lovelace, who wrote programs for the Analytical Engine and it's predecessor, the Difference Engine, and whose position as "the world's first programmer" is celebrated in the name of the programming language Ada.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's which-side-are-you-on? department
An anonymous reader writes:
Today comic book stores around the world celebrate "Free Comic Book Day," offering free comic books to anyone who pays them a visit. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the event is offering 50 free titles this year, including Doctor Who, Serenity, The Simpsons, Love and Rockets, and a brand new comic from Stan Lee. Marvel is giving away both an Avengers/Civil War comic and a separate one featuring Captain America, and there's also comics with Grumpy Cat, The Tick, and even a Street fighter V comic.
But the Los Angeles Times notes there's different opinions about whether the event creates repeat business (though one comic shop owner told them "as far as that one day goes, it's a great day.") Another store owner says he even stopped participating temporarily because "It's just the hyenas looking for free stuff," while a third described it instead as a way to give back to the community of comic book readers.Read Replies (0)