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  • Amazon Takes On Microsoft, Google With WorkMail For Businesses

    alphadogg writes Amazon Web Services today launched a new product to its expansive service catalog in the cloud: WorkMail is a hosted email platform for enterprises that could wind up as a replacement for Microsoft and Google messaging systems. The service is expected to cost $4 per user per month for a 50GB email inbox. It's integrated with many of AWS's other cloud services too, including its Zocalo file synchronization and sharing platform. The combination will allow IT shops to set up a hosted email platform and link it to a file sharing system.

    62 comments | yesterday

  • Book Review: Designing and Building a Security Operations Center

    benrothke writes Many organizations are overwhelmed by the onslaught of security data from disparate systems, platforms and applications. They have numerous point solutions (anti-virus, firewalls, IDS/IPS, ERP, access control, IdM, single sign-on, etc.) that can create millions of daily log messages. In addition to directed attacks becoming more frequent and sophisticated, there are regulatory compliance issues that place increasing burden on security, systems and network administrators. This creates a large amount of information and log data without a formal mechanism to deal with it. This has led to many organizations creating a security operations center (SOC). A SOC in its most basic form is the centralized team that deals with information security incidents and related issues. In Designing and Building a Security Operations Center, author David Nathans provides the basics on how that can be done. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review

    29 comments | yesterday

  • Brought To You By the Letter R: Microsoft Acquiring Revolution Analytics

    theodp writes Maybe Bill Gates' Summer Reading this year will include The Art of R Programming. Pushing further into Big Data, Microsoft on Friday announced it's buying Revolution Analytics, the top commercial provider of software and services for the open-source R programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics. "By leveraging Revolution Analytics technology and services," blogged Microsoft's Joseph Sirosh, "we will empower enterprises, R developers and data scientists to more easily and cost effectively build applications and analytics solutions at scale." Revolution Analytics' David Smith added, "Now, Microsoft might seem like a strange bedfellow for an open-source company [RedHat:Linux as Revolution Analytics:R], but the company continues to make great strides in the open-source arena recently." Now that it has Microsoft's blessing, is it finally time for AP Statistics to switch its computational vehicle to R?

    105 comments | 4 days ago

  • Smartphones, Tablets and EBay Send SkyMall To Chapter 11

    alphadogg writes SkyMall, the quirky airline catalog, looks as though it may be grounded before long. Parent company Xhibit has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and seeks to sell its assets. In an SEC filing, Xhibit explains that it has fallen victim to an "intensely competitive" direct marketing retail industry that now includes the likes of eBay and Amazon.com. Smartphones and tablets are largely to blame for SkyMall's downfall, according to the SEC filing. "Historically, the SkyMall catalog was the sole in-flight option for potential purchasers of products to review while traveling. With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog."

    65 comments | 5 days ago

  • Google Thinks the Insurance Industry May Be Ripe For Disruption

    HughPickens.com writes: The insurance industry is a fat target — there's were about $481 billion in premiums in 2013, and agents' commissions of about $50 billion. Now Conor Dougherty writes in the NYT that the boring but lucrative trade has been attracting big names like Google, which has formed a partnership with Comparenow, an American auto insurance comparison site that will give Google access to insurers in Comparenow's network. "A lot of people are waking up to the fact that it's a massive industry, it's old-fashioned, they still use human agents and the commissions are pretty big," says Jennifer Fitzgerald. It may seem like an odd match for Google, whose projects include driverless cars, delivery drones and a pill to detect cancer, but the key to insurance is having lots of data about people's backgrounds and habits, which is perhaps the company's greatest strength. "They have a ton of data on where people drive, how people drive," says Jon McNeill. "It's the holy grail of being able to price auto insurance correctly."

    People in the industry and Silicon Valley say it is only a matter of time before online agencies attack the armies of intermediaries that are the backbone of the trade, and Google could present formidable competition for other insurance sellers. As many as two-thirds of insurance customers say they would consider purchasing insurance products from organizations other than insurers, including 23 percent who would consider buying from online service providers such as Google and Amazon. Google Compare auto insurance site has already been operating in Britain for two years as a search engine for auto insurance prices.

    238 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Book Review: FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials

    Saint Aardvark writes If, like me, you administer FreeBSD systems, you know that (like Linux) there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to filesystems. GEOM, UFS, soft updates, encryption, disklabels — there is a *lot* going on here. And if, like me, you're coming from the Linux world your experience won't be directly applicable, and you'll be scaling Mount Learning Curve. Even if you *are* familiar with the BSDs, there is a lot to take in. Where do you start? You start here, with Michael W. Lucas' latest book, FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials. You've heard his name before; he's written Sudo Mastery (which I reviewed previously), along with books on PGP/GnuPGP, Cisco Routers and OpenBSD. This book clocks in at 204 pages of goodness, and it's an excellent introduction to managing storage on FreeBSD. From filesystem choice to partition layout to disk encryption, with sidelong glances at ZFS along the way, he does his usual excellent job of laying out the details you need to know without every veering into dry or boring. Keep reading for the rest of Saint Aardvark's review.

    75 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Interviews: Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose Answer Your Questions

    samzenpus (5) writes "Alexander Stepanov is an award winning programmer who designed the C++ Standard Template Library. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer, research scientist, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. In addition to working together, the duo have recently written a new book titled, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Earlier this month you had a chance to ask the pair about their book, their work, or programming in general. Below you'll find the answers to those questions."

    42 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Amazon Plans To Release 12 Movies a Year In Theaters and On Prime

    An anonymous reader writes "Amazon has announced that it will begin to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release and early window distribution on Amazon Prime Instant Video. From the article: "This is a big move from Amazon, as it seeks to narrow the theatrical release window to between four and eight weeks. It can often take up to a year for films to land on subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, however they do typically land on DVD/Blu-ray within around four months. Production for the aptly titled 'Amazon Original Movies' program will kick off in 2015, and plans are afoot to create around a dozen original titles for release in cinemas each year."

    92 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Ridley Scott Adapts Philip K. Dick's 'Man in the High Castle' For Amazon

    An anonymous reader writes with word of an adaption of Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. Ridley Scott is the executive producer for the adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel that's one of 13 new TV shows from Amazon Studios. There's also a video adaptation of The New Yorker magazine, and all 13 pilots are available free online. Votes of viewers will help decide which ones get picked up for a full season, and Amazon is promising customers that they've assembled "some of the greatest storytellers in the business with works of novelty and passion."

    94 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

    reifman writes: Fizzmint CEO Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack says she "never had a problem with Mitt Romney's use of the phrase 'binders full of women.' ... Instead of congratulating him for his realization and his attempt to (awkwardly) rectify the situation, we crucified him for not already having a network of accomplished women." The scarcity of women in tech is a central issue in Seattle, where Amazon's growth is literally reshaping the city. The company refuses to release its technology workforce diversity numbers, and it's been criticized for interviewing practices that put female candidates on a "horrifying steeplechase [by] careless and non-people-oriented technologists." Van Vlack says, "It's stupid on every level not to acknowledge the obstacles women face when they try to join a tech company." She suggests three concrete steps for technology leaders to attract more women into the fold: 1) Push your technical recruiters to hit 20% thresholds for female candidates 2) Challenge and question your personal assumptions about the leadership skills of women in technology and 3) Transparently and openly take a stand to improve your company's diversity figures.

    479 comments | about two weeks ago

  • First Crowdsourced, Open Data Address List Launches In the UK

    The internet is a great place to search for some kinds of information; Amazon (or L.L. Bean, or Digi-Key, or any retailer, really) do their best to connect you with all the products in their databases, and for lots of other search topics, the usual handful of general purpose search engines can ferret out answers based on your keywords. Addresses are sometimes harder to search, but in the UK at least that might soon be much easier: An anonymous reader writes The London based startup and open data advocacy organization Open Addresses UK wants to change all of that by inviting the public to collect and validate housing addresses to build the biggest UK open address dataset ever. To do so, they launched UK's first open and free address list on Wednesday, calling on individuals and companies to crowdsource information." What if you want the equivalent of an unlisted number, though?

    33 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Intuit Charges More For Previously Offered TurboTax Features, Users Livid

    An anonymous reader writes: For years, the Deluxe edition of TurboTax was enough for investors and the self-employed to do their taxes. With this year's edition, Intuit removed Schedules C, D, and E, covering self-employment, investment income and asset depreciation. Those features now require an extra charge of $40. The company is getting murdered on Amazon reviews for it, with 900 users giving the software a 1-star rating.

    450 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Four Facepalm Bugs In USPS Label-Printing Site

    "The United States Postal Service "Click-N-Ship" site suffered no outages or slowdowns during Christmas rush," writes Bennett Haselton. "It just has bugs that make the process more annoying than just standing in line at the post office, which defeats the purpose. The most frustrating part is that most of these bugs could have been fixed, just by having some testers run through the ordering process and make a note of anything that seems confusing or wrong. (Although I've included notes on how to work around all the bugs, so you really can print your own labels and skip the line.)" Read on for the rest; what other gripes do you have about the current package delivery regime, and how would you resolve them?

    182 comments | about three weeks ago

  • The Fire Phone Debacle and What It Means For Amazon's Future

    HughPickens.com points out an article at Fast Company that dug into the creation of Amazon's floundering Fire Phone to figure out why the company pushed so hard to bring it to market. The piece is an indictment of Jeff Bezos's determination to make the Fire Phone into a competitor for an already-saturated high-end smartphone market. "This wasn't some vague guideline from an executive busy running other parts of the business; based on interviews with more than three dozen current and former employees, most of whom were deeply involved with the project, the CEO drove every aspect of the phone’s creation from the outset."

    Now that Amazon's growth is slowing and profits have yet to be seen, investors and analysts have run out of patience for gambles like this one. "What makes the Fire Phone a particularly troubling adventure, however, is that Amazon’s CEO seemingly lost track of the essential driver of his company’s brand. It’s understandable that Bezos would want to give Amazon a premium shine, but to focus on a high-end product, instead of the kind of service that has always distinguished the company, proved misguided."

    155 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Bots Scanning GitHub To Steal Amazon EC2 Keys

    New submitter juniq writes: As one developer found out, posting your Amazon keys to GitHub on accident can be a costly mistake if they are not revoked immediately.

    "When I woke up the next morning, I had four emails from Amazon AWS and a missed phone call from Amazon AWS. Something about 140 servers running on my AWS account. What? How? I only had S3 keys on my GitHub and they where gone within 5 minutes! Turns out through the S3 API you can actually spin up EC2 instances, and my key had been spotted by a bot that continually searches GitHub for API keys. Amazon AWS customer support informed me this happens a lot recently; hackers have created an algorithm that searches GitHub 24 hours per day for API keys. Once it finds one it spins up max instances of EC2 servers to farm itself bitcoins."

    119 comments | about a month ago

  • How Amazon's Ebook Subscriptions Are Changing the Writing Industry

    An anonymous reader writes: Amazon is now offering an ebook subscription service — $9.99/month gets you access to 700,000 titles, both self-published and traditionally published. The funds are gathered together, Amazon takes its cut, and the rest is divided up based on how many times a given book was read.

    Some authors like it, and some don't, but John Scalzi pointed out that this business model is notable for being different from how the writing industry has worked in the past: "[T]he thing to actively dislike about the Kindle Unlimited 'payment from a pot' plan is the fact that it and any other plan like it absolutely and unambiguously make writing and publishing a zero-sum game. In traditional publishing, your success as an author does not limit my success — the potential pool of money is so large as to be effectively unlimited, and one's payment is independent of any other purchase a consumer might make, or what any other reader might read.

    In the traditional publishing model, it's in my interest to encourage readers to read other authors, because people who read more buy more books — the proverbial tide lifts all boats. In the Kindle Unlimited model, the more authors you and everyone else reads, the less I can potentially earn. And ultimately, there's a cap on how much I can earn — a cap imposed by Amazon, or whoever else is in charge of the 'pot.'"

    250 comments | about 1 month ago

  • 13,000 Passwords, Usernames Leaked For Major Commerce, Porn Sites

    The Daily Dot reports that yesterday a "group claiming affiliation with the loose hacker collective Anonymous released a document containing approximately 13,000 username-and-password combinations along with credit card numbers and expiration dates." Most of the sites listed are distinctly NSFW, among other places, but the list includes some of the largest retailers, too, notably Amazon and Wal-Mart.

    149 comments | about a month ago

  • Should Video Games Be In the Olympics?

    An anonymous reader writes: The BBC is running a story about e-sports and competitive video game. It's based on comments from Rob Pardo, formerly of Blizzard Entertainment, who says there's a good argument for having e-sports in the Olympics. He says video games are well positioned to be a spectator sport — an opinion supported by Amazon's purchase of Twitch.tv for almost a billion dollars. The main obstacle, says Pardo, is getting people to accept video games as a legitimate sport. "If you want to define sport as something that takes a lot of physical exertion, then it's hard to argue that videogames should be a sport, but at the same time, when I'm looking at things that are already in the Olympics, I start questioning the definition." The article notes, "Take chess, for instance. Supporters of the game have long called for its inclusion the Games, but the IOC has been reluctant, considering it a 'mind sport' and therefore not welcome in the Games." So, should the Games expand to include "mind sports" and video games?

    232 comments | about a month ago

  • Amazon "Suppresses" Book With Too Many Hyphens

    An anonymous reader writes Author Graeme Reynolds found his novel withdrawn from Amazon because of excessive use of hyphens. He received an email from Amazon about his werewolf novel, High Moor 2: Moonstruck, because a reader had complained that there were too many hyphens. "When they ran an automated spell check against the manuscript they found that over 100 words in the 90,000-word novel contained that dreaded little line," he says. "This, apparently 'significantly impacts the readability of your book' and, as a result, 'We have suppressed the book because of the combined impact to customers.'"

    292 comments | about a month ago

  • Book Review: Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress

    MassDosage writes "At the the risk of exposing my age I remember building my first website using a rudimentary Unix text editor (Joe) and carefully handcrafting the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) while directly logged on to the web server it was being served from. Back then Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) weren't even a glint in the eyes of their creators. A lot has changed and there's now a world of fancy WYSIWYG web page editors to choose from as well as Content Management Systems that allow you to create websites without looking at the underlying code at all. While this is all very useful and allows less technical people to create websites I still feel that having at least some knowledge of how everything works under the hood is empowering — especially in situations where you want to go beyond the limits placed on you by a certain tool. This is where Build Your Own Website: A comic guide to HTML, CSS and Wordpress comes into the picture. Its aim is to enable people new to web development to learn the subject by teaching the fundamentals of HTML and CSS first and only then describing how to use a Content Management System (CMS) — in this case Wordpress. While Wordpress might not be everyone's kettle of fish it's a good choice as an example of a modern CMS that is easily accessible and very popular. The concepts presented are simple enough that it should be easy enough for a reader to apply them to a different CMS should they want to. Read below for The rest of MassDosage's review.

    31 comments | about a month and a half ago

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