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  • Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions

    An anonymous reader writes: Everyone understands by now that ads fund most of the sites on the web. Other sites have put up paywalls or started subscription bonuses, with varying success. Google, one of the web's biggest ad providers, saw a problem with that: it's a huge pain for readers to manage subscriptions for all the sites they visit — often more trouble than it's worth. And, since so few people sign up, the subscription fees have to be pretty high. Now, Google has launched a service called Contributor to try to fix this situation.

    The way Contributor works is this: websites and readers can opt in to the service (and sites like Imgur, The Onion, and ScienceDaily already have). Readers then pay a fee of $1-3 per month (they get to choose how much) to gain ad-free access to all participating sites. When the user visits one of the sites, instead of showing a Google ad, Google will just send a small chunk of that subscription money to the website instead.

    6 comments | 9 minutes ago

  • Aereo Files For Bankruptcy

    An anonymous reader writes: After losing its Supreme Court case in June and briefly attempting to transform itself into a cable company, Aereo is now filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Their service worked by letting people stream over-the-air television to their internet-connected devices. The content industry pushed back, and though Aereo argued its way through several lower courts, they say, "The U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively changed the laws that had governed Aereo's technology, creating regulatory and legal uncertainty. And while our team has focused its energies on exploring every path forward available to us, without that clarity, the challenges have proven too difficult to overcome."

    37 comments | about an hour ago

  • Coal Plants Get New Lease On Life With Natural Gas

    HughPickens.com writes Christina Nunez reports in National Geographic that in the past four years, at least 29 coal-fired plants in 10 states have switched to natural gas or biomass while another 54 units, mostly in the US Northeast and Midwest, are slated to be converted over the next nine years. By switching to natural gas, plant operators can take advantage of a relatively cheap and plentiful US supply. The change can also help them meet proposed federal rules to limit heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, given that electricity generation from natural gas emits about half as much carbon as electricity from coal does.

    But not everyone is happy with the conversions. The Dunkirk plant in western New York, slated for conversion to natural gas, is the focus of a lawsuit by environmental groups that say the $150 million repowering will force the state's energy consumers to pay for an unnecessary facility. "What we're concerned about is that the Dunkirk proceeding is setting a really, really bad precedent where we're going to keep these old, outdated, polluting plants on life support for political reasons," says Christopher Amato. Dunkirk's operator, NRG, wanted to mothball the plant in 2012, saying it was not economical to run. The utility, National Grid, said shutting it down could make local power supplies less reliable, a problem that could be fixed by boosting transmission capacity—at a lower cost than repowering Dunkirk. Meanwhile the citizens of Dunkirk are happy the plant is staying open. "We couldn't let it happen. We would lose our tax base, we would lose our jobs, we would lose our future," said State Sen. Catharine M. Young. "This agreement saves us. It gives us a foundation on which to build our economy. It gives us hope. This is our community's Christmas miracle!"

    91 comments | 5 hours ago

  • Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

    An anonymous reader writes with news that Russia may be building its own space station to replace the ISS. Russia may be planning to build a new, independent national space station rather than prolong its participation in the $150 billion International Space Station (ISS) program beyond its current 2020 end date. The U.S. space agency NASA proposed last year to extend the life of the ISS — the largest international project ever undertaken by nations during peacetime — beyond its currently scheduled 2020 end date to at least 2024.

    142 comments | 8 hours ago

  • Greenwald Advises Market-Based Solution To Mass Surveillance

    Nicola Hahn writes In his latest Intercept piece Glenn Greenwald considers the recent defeat of the Senate's USA Freedom Act. He remarks that governments "don't walk around trying to figure out how to limit their own power." Instead of appealing to an allegedly irrelevant Congress Greenwald advocates utilizing the power of consumer demand to address the failings of cyber security. Specifically he argues that companies care about their bottom line and that the trend of customers refusing to tolerate insecure products will force companies to protect user privacy, implement encryption, etc. All told Greenwald's argument is very telling: that society can rely on corporate interests for protection. Is it true that representative government is a lost cause and that lawmakers would never knowingly yield authority? There are people who think that advising citizens to devolve into consumers is a dubious proposition.

    102 comments | 10 hours ago

  • Customers Creating Fake Amazon Pages To Get Cheap Electronics At Walmart

    turkeydance writes People are reportedly creating fake Amazon pages to show fake prices on electronics and other items. In the most heavily publicized cases, Walmart was reportedly duped into selling $400 PlayStation 4 consoles for under $100. From the article: "The company announced on Nov. 13 that it would price-match select online retailers, including Amazon.com. However, any Amazon member with a registered selling account can create authentic looking pages and list items 'for sale' online. Consumers need only take a screen capture of the page and show it to a cashier at checkout in order to request the price match."

    208 comments | yesterday

  • A Brilliant Mind: SUSE's Kernel Guru Speaks

    An anonymous reader writes The man who in every sense sits at the nerve centre of SUSE Linux has no airs about him. At 38, Vojtch Pavlík is disarmingly frank and often seems a bit embarrassed to talk about his achievements, which are many and varied. He is every bit a nerd, but can be candid, though precise. As director of SUSE Labs, it would be no exaggeration to call him the company's kernel guru. Both recent innovations that have come from SUSE — patching a live kernel, technology called kGraft, and creating a means for booting openSUSE on machines locked down with secure boot, have been his babies.

    60 comments | yesterday

  • As Amazon Grows In Seattle, Pay Equity For Women Declines

    reifman writes Amazon's hiring so quickly in Seattle that it's on pace to employ 45,000 people or seven percent of the city. But, 75% of these hires are male. While Seattle women earned 86 cents per dollar earned by men in 2012, today, they make only 78 cents per dollar. In "Amageddon: Seattle's Increasingly Obvious Future", I review these and other surprising facts about Amazon's growing impact on the city: we're the fastest growing — now larger than Boston, we have the fastest rising rents, the fourth worst traffic, we're only twelfth in public transit, we're the fifth whitest and getting whiter, we're experiencing record levels of property crime and the amount of office space under construction has nearly doubled to 3.2 million square feet in the past year.

    433 comments | yesterday

  • US Gov't Seeks To Keep Megaupload Assets Because Kim Dotcom Is a Fugitive

    mrspoonsi writes with this excerpt from Billboard: 'On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice told a Virginia federal judge that Kim Dotcom and cohorts have no business challenging the seizure of an estimated $67 million in assets because the Megaupload founder is evading prosecution. The government brought criminal charges against Dotcom in early 2012, but he's been holed up in New Zealand awaiting word on whether he'll be extradited. The government got antsy and this past July, brought a civil complaint for forfeiture in rem, a maneuver to firmly establish a hold over money from bank accounts around the world, luxury cars, big televisions, watches, artwork and other property allegedly gained by Megaupload in the course of crimes. Dotcom is fighting the seizures by questioning the government's basis for asserting a crime, saying "there is no such crime as secondary criminal copyright infringement," as well as challenging how the seized assets are tied to the charges against Dotcom. But according to the U.S. government, Dotcom doesn't get the pleasure of even making the arguments. In a motion to strike, the government cites the doctrine of fugitive disentitlement, which bars a person from using the resources of the court if that person is aware of prosecution and is evading it.

    157 comments | yesterday

  • BitTorrent Unveils Sync 2.0

    An anonymous reader writes BitTorrent today outlined the company's plans for its file synchronization tool Sync. Next year, the company will launch Sync 2.0, finally taking the product out of beta, as well as three new paid Sync products. Ever since its debut, Sync has provided a wide variety of solutions to various problems, BitTorrent says, from distributing files across remote servers to sharing vacation photos. BitTorrent thus believes it needs to build three distinct products for each of these separate audiences, including a Pro version for $40 per year.

    58 comments | yesterday

  • Android Botnet Evolves, Could Pose Threat To Corporate Networks

    angry tapir writes An Android Trojan program that's behind one of the longest running multipurpose mobile botnets has been updated to become stealthier and more resilient. The botnet is mainly used for instant message spam and rogue ticket purchases, but it could be used to launch targeted attacks against corporate networks because the malware allows attackers to use the infected devices as proxies, according to security researchers.

    53 comments | yesterday

  • The Software Big Oil's PR Firm Uses To "Convert Average Citizens"

    merbs writes The CEO of the world's largest PR firm has a policy when it comes to campaigns that focus on the environment. "We do not work with astroturf groups and we have never created a website for a client with the intent to deny climate change," Richard Edelman wrote in a blog post in August. That may actually turn out to be true. Technically. Edelman may not work with astroturf groups. Instead, it appears to prefer to build them itself, from the ground up, using sophisticated proprietary software platform designed to "convert" advocates and then "track" their behavior.

    98 comments | 2 days ago

  • Is a Moral Compass a Hindrance Or a Help For Startups?

    Nerval's Lobster writes As an emerging company in a hotly contested space, Uber already had a reputation for playing hardball with competitors, even before reports leaked of one of its executives threatening to dig into the private lives of journalists. Faced with a vicious competitive landscape, Uber executives probably feel they have little choice but to plunge into multi-front battle. As the saying goes, when you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail; and when you're a startup that thinks it's besieged from all sides by entities that seem determined to shut you down, sometimes your executives feel the need to take any measure in order to keep things going, even if those measures are ethically questionable. As more than one analyst has pointed out, Uber isn't the first company in America to triumph through a combination of grit and ethically questionable tactics; but it's also not the first to implode thanks to the latter. Is a moral compass (or at least the appearance of one) a hindrance or a help for startups?

    191 comments | 2 days ago

  • How Facebook Is Influencing Who Will Win the Next Election

    An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Forbes: [Facebook] announced yesterday that it was shutting down a feature that the Obama campaign used in 2012 to register over a million voters. During the election supporters shared access to their list of Facebook friends list with the campaign through an app. Researchers have found that while people view often political messages with skepticism, they are more receptive and trusting when the information is coming from somebody they know. The feature was credited with boosting Obama’s get-out-the-vote efforts which were crucial to his victory, but Facebook has decided to disable this ability in order to (rightfully) protect users from third-party apps collecting too much of their information.

    The company insists that it favors no particular ideology and that its efforts are “neutral.” The first part is likely true, but the second is not possible. The company’s algorithms take into account a proprietary mix of our own biases, connections, and interests combined with Facebook’s business priorities; that is the farthest thing from neutral. Facebook says it just want to encourage “civic participation,” but politically mobilizing the subsection of people that are on their network is not without its own impacts.

    71 comments | 2 days ago

  • Nokia's N1 Android Tablet Is Actually a Foxconn Tablet

    sfcrazy writes: "Nokia surprised everyone when it announced the N1 Android tablet during the Slush conference in Finland, today. This story has a twist, though: the N1 is not a Nokia device. Nokia doesn't have a device unit anymore: it sold its Devices and Services business to Microsoft in 2013. The N1 is made by Taiwanese contract manufacturing company Foxconn, which also manufactures the iPhone and the iPad.

    But Nokia's relationship with Foxconn is different from Apple's. You buy iDevices from Apple, not Foxconn; you call Apple for support, not Foxconn. You never deal with Foxconn. In the case of N1, Foxconn will be handling the sales, distribution, and customer care for the device. Nokia is licensing the brand, the industrial design, the Z Launcher software layer, and the IP on a running royalty basis to Foxconn.

    107 comments | 2 days ago

  • Intel Announces Major Reorg To Combine Mobile and PC Divisions

    MojoKid writes: For the past year, Intel has pursued what's known as a "contra-revenue" strategy in its mobile division, where product is deliberately sold at a loss to win market share and compete effectively. This has led to a huge rise in tablet shipments, but heavy losses inside Intel's mobile division. Today, the company announced that it would take steps to fold its mobile and conventional processors into a single operating division. While this helps shield the mobile segment from poor short-term results, it also reflects the reality that computing is something users now do across a wide range of devices and multiple operating systems. Intel may not have hit anything like the mobile targets it set out years ago, but long-term success in laptops, tablets, and smartphones remains integral to the company's finances. Desktops and conventional laptops are just one way people compute today and Intel needs to make certain it has a robust long-term presence in every major computing market.

    75 comments | 3 days ago

  • Do Good Programmers Need Agents?

    braindrainbahrain writes: A rock star needs an agent, so maybe a rock star programmer needs one, too. As described in The New Yorker, a talent agency called 10x, which got started in the music business, is not your typical head hunter/recruiter agency. "The company's name comes from the idea, well established in the tech world, that the very best programmers are superstars, capable of achieving ten times the productivity of their merely competent colleagues." The writer talks with a number of programmers using agents to find work, who generally seem pleased with it, though the article has viewpoints from skeptics as well.

    215 comments | 3 days ago

  • The New-ish Technologies That Will Alter Your Career

    Nerval's Lobster writes Over at Dice, there's a discussion of the technologies that could actually alter how you work (and what you work on) over the next few years, including 3D printing, embedded systems, and evolving Web APIs. Granted, predicting the future with any accuracy is a nigh-impossible feat, and a lot of nascent technologies come with an accompanying amount of hype. But given how these listed technologies have actually been around in one form or another for years, and don't seem to be fading away, it seems likely that they'll prove an increasing factor in how we live and work over the next decade and beyond. For those who have no interest in mastering aspects of the so-called "Internet of Things," or other tech on this list, never fear: if the past two decades have taught us anything, it's that lots of old hardware and software never truly goes away, either (hi, mainframes!).

    66 comments | 3 days ago

  • Interviews: Warren Ellis Answers Your Questions

    Recently you had a chance to ask acclaimed author of comics, novels, and television, Warren Ellis, about his work and sci-fi in general. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.

    15 comments | 3 days ago

  • Facebook Planning Office Version To Rival LinkedIn, Google

    An anonymous reader points out a report that Facebook may be coming out with an office version to take on LinkedIn. Facebook at Work would “allow users to chat with colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents.” "Facebook is reportedly gearing up to take on LinkedIn, Google's Drive and services, Microsoft's Outlook and Yammer with a workplace-friendly version of the social networking site, but such a dream is unlikely to appeal to the enterprise. As reported last week by the Financial Times, "Facebook at Work" is a new product designed to allow professional users to message colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents. The website will have the same look as standard Facebook — including a news feed and groups — but according to people familiar with the matter, the idea is to keep work and personal accounts separate. It makes sense for the social networking giant. Launching a professional version can boost ad revenue, keep engagement up and give the company a valuable new market to tap. But in application, cracking the corporate world won't be easy."

    91 comments | 4 days ago

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