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  • Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

    An anonymous reader writes: A few days ago we talked over some of the difficulties faced by makers of autonomous car software, like dealing with weather, construction, and parking garages. Today, the NY Times has a similar article about delivery drones, examining the safety and regulatory problems that must be solved in addition to getting the basic technology ready. "[R]researchers at NASA are working on ways to manage that menagerie of low-flying aircraft. At NASA's Moffett Field, about four miles from Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., the agency has been developing a drone traffic management program that would in effect be a separate air traffic control system for things that fly low to the ground — around 400 to 500 feet for most drones. Much like the air traffic control system for conventional aircraft, the program would monitor the skies for weather and traffic. Wind is a particular hazard, because drones weigh so little compared with regular planes." Beyond that, the sheer scale of infrastructure necessary to get drone delivery up and running in cities across the U.S. is staggering. Commercial drones aren't going to have much range, particularly when carrying something heavy. They'll be noisy, and the products they're transporting will still need to be relatively close by. What other issues do Amazon, DHL, Google, and other need to solve?

    203 comments | yesterday

  • XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months

    destinyland writes Tuesday is the official release date for the newest book from the geeky cartoonist behind XKCD — yet it's already become one of Amazon's best-selling books. Thanks to a hefty pre-order discount, one blogger notes that it's appeared on Amazon's list of hardcover best-sellers since the book was first announced in March, and this weekend it remains in the top 10. Randall Munroe recently announced personal appearances beginning this week throughout the U.S. (including Cambridge, New York, Seattle, and the San Francisco Bay Area) — as well as a Google Hangout on Friday, September 12. Just two weeks ago he was also awarded the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story — and now many of his appearances are already sold out.

    167 comments | 2 days ago

  • The Apache Software Foundation Now Accepting BitCoin For Donations

    rbowen writes The Apache Software Foundation is the latest not-for-profit organization to accept bitcoin donations, as pointed out by a user on the Bitcoin subreddit. The organization is well known for their catalog of open-source software, including the ubiquitous Apache web server, Hadoop, Tomcat, Cassandra, and about 150 other projects. Users in the community have been eager to support their efforts using digital currency for quite a while. The Foundation accepts donations in many different forms: Amazon, PayPal, and they'll even accept donated cars. On their contribution page the Apache Software Foundation has published a bitcoin address and QR code.

    67 comments | 2 days ago

  • Japanese Publishers Lash Out At Amazon's Policies

    Nate the greatest writes: Amazon is in a bitter contract fight with Hachette in the U.S. and Bonnier in Germany, and now it seems the retail giant is also in conflict with publishers in Japan. Amazon has launched a new rating system in Japan which gives preference to publishers with larger ebook catalogs (and publishers that pay higher fees), leading to complaints that Amazon is using its market power to blackmail publishers. Where have we heard that complaint before?

    The retailer is also being boycotted by a handful of Japanese publishers who disagree with Amazon offering a rewards program to students. The retailer gives students 10% of a book's price as points, which can be used to buy more books. This skirts Japanese fixed-price book laws, so several smaller publishers pulled their books from Amazon in protest. Businesses are out to make money and not friends, but Amazon sure is a lightning rod for conflicts, isn't it?

    112 comments | 4 days ago

  • Amazon To Buy Twitch For $970 Million

    Dave Knott (2917251) writes Amazon has agreed to acquire the live game-streaming service Twitch for approximately $970 million in cash, a move that could help Amazon bolster its position in the fast-growing business of online gaming and give it technology to compete with video-streaming rivals Netflix and YouTube. The acquisition, which has been approved by Twitch's shareholders, is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Google had for some time been reported to have interest in acquiring Twitch, but those talks cooled in recent weeks. Google was unable to close the deal, said sources familiar with the talks, because it was concerned about potential antitrust issues that could have come with the acquisition.

    59 comments | about a week ago

  • Dropbox Caught Between Warring Giants Amazon and Google

    An anonymous reader writes: Google and Amazon are both aggressively pursuing the cloud storage market, constantly increasing available storage space and constantly dropping prices. On its face, this looks great for the consumer — competition is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, many smaller companies like Box, Dropbox, and Hightail simply aren't able to run their services at a loss like the giants can. Dropbox's Aaron Levie said, "These guys will drive prices to zero. You do not want to wait for Google or Amazon to keep cutting prices on you. 'Free' is not a business model."

    The result is that the smaller companies are pivoting to win market share, relying on specific submarkets or stronger feature sets rather than available space or price. "Box is trying to cater to special data storage needs, like digital versions of X-rays for health care companies and other tasks specific to different kinds of customers. Hightail is trying to do something similar for customers like law firms. And Dropbox? It is trying to make sure that its consumer-minded service stays easier to use than what the big guys provide." It's going to be tough for them to hold out, and even tougher for new storage startups to break in. But that might be the only thing keeping us from choosing between the Wal-Mart-A and Wal-Mart-B of online storage.

    275 comments | about a week ago

  • Sources Say Amazon Will Soon Be Targeting Ads, a la Google AdWords

    According to The Register (citing a paywalled WSJ article), a new face in targeted ads is emerging (according to "people familiar with the matter") to compete with Google, and it's Amazon. They already have a vast, mineable collection of data about customers' buying, listening and viewing habits, so exploiting personalized ads seems a natural follow-on. According to the report, the ad system would replace Google as ad vendor on Amazon itself, and "It is also apparently hoping to beef up its ad placement business on other sites as part of Amazon's strategy to carve its way into Google's multi-billion-dollar AdWords' empire." Pretty soon Amazon will able to just save me time by ordering the things I would have ordered based on ads that they themselves have placed.

    83 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Find Good Replacement Batteries?

    An anonymous reader writes: I have an old phone with a battery that barely works anymore. My current phone's battery is mediocre — I can put up with it, but I've been thinking about getting a new one. My four-year-old ThinkPad holds less of a charge than I'd like, and less than it did when I bought it. In all these cases, the only thing holding me back from buying a new battery is that I'm not sure where to find a good one. Searching for my phone's battery on Amazon (or any major online retailer) yields a dozen results, all fairly cheap. But which are reliable? They all seem to have varying reviews, ranging from "Perfect official factory replacement!" to "Garbage knock-off, worse than the battery I replaced." Part numbers don't seem to help, as the knock-offs replicate those pretty well. I ask you, Slashdot: where can I find a good replacement battery?

    131 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

    New submitter GammaKitsune writes: "The Player's Handbook for the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons, formerly known as "D&D Next," released today to major bookstores and online retailers across the U.S. The Player's Handbook, which contains core rules for gameplay and character creation, is one of thee core rulebooks that developer Wizards of the Coast plans to release in 2014. The Monster Manual is scheduled to release in late September, and the Dungeon Master's Guide will release in mid November. Also out today is the first of two adventure modules in which players team up to battle against the dragon goddess Tiamat.

    Fifth edition has a lot to prove following the highly-controversial fourth edition, the rise of competing roleplaying game Pathfinder, and two years of public playtesting. Initial reviews posted on Amazon appear overwhelmingly positive at the time of writing, but more skeptical gamers may wish to take a look at the free "Basic Rules" posted on the official D&D website. The basic rules contain all the bare essentials needed to create a character or run your own adventure, and will serve both as a free introduction for new players and as a holdover for long time players until the remaining two rulebooks are released.

    202 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Bezos-Owned Washington Post Embeds Amazon Buy-It-Now Buttons Mid-sentence

    McGruber writes: While reading a story in the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, I saw that the paper had begun embedding Amazon Buy-It-Now links in the middle of story sentences. For example, in this article, a sentence about the sales figures for differing covers of The Great Gatsby read: At Politics and Prose, the traditional [BUY IT NOW] version — featuring the iconic eyes floating on a blue background — sold better than the DiCaprio [BUY IT NOW] cover. This change follows the July news of much larger than expected losses at Amazon and a 10-percent decline in the Amazon's stock value. In related news, the Post reports that the literary executor of George Orwell's estate has accused Amazon.com of doublespeak after they cited one of Orwell's essays in their ebook pricing debate with Hachette and other publishers.

    136 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Student Bookstores Beware, Amazon Comes To Purdue Campus

    First time accepted submitter Kilroy1218 writes After freezing tuition past their original deadline Purdue University announced a partnership with Amazon today which aside from greatly competitive book pricing "will bring staffed customer order pickup and drop-off locations to Purdue's campus, as well as expedited shipping benefits phased in over the course of the 2014-2015 academic year." “This relationship is another step in Purdue’s efforts to make a college education more affordable for our students,” said President Mitch Daniels. “With the pressure on college campuses to reduce costs, this new way of doing business has the potential to change the book-buying landscape for students and their families.”

    95 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Why the Public Library Beats Amazon

    Nate the greatest writes: The launch of Kindle Unlimited last month has many questioning the value of public libraries, with one pundit on Forbes even going so far as to proclaim that the U.K. could save money by shuttering all its libraries and replacing them with Kindle Unlimited subscriptions. Luckily for libraries, they're safe for now because they still beat Kindle Unlimited and its competitors in at least one category: content you want to read. As several reviewers have noted, Kindle Unlimited is stocked almost entirely with indie titles, with a handful of major titles thrown in. Even Scribd and Oyster only have ebooks from two of the five major U.S. publishers, while U.S. public libraries can offer titles from all five. They might be expensive and you might have to get on a waiting list, but as the Wall Street Journal points out, public libraries are safe because they can still offer a better selection. That is true, but I think the WSJ missed a key point: public libraries beat Amazon because they offer services Amazon cannot, including in-person tech support, internet access, and other basic assistance. The fact of the matter is, you can't use KU, Scribd, or Oyster if you don't know how to use your device, and your local public library is the best place to learn.

    165 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Network Hijacker Steals $83,000 In Bitcoin

    An anonymous reader writes with news that bogus BGP announcements can be used to hijack work done by cryptocurrency mining pools. Quoting El Reg: Researchers at Dell's SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit (CTU) have identified an exploit that can be used to steal cryptocurrency from mining pools — and they claim that at least one unknown miscreant has already used the technique to pilfer tens of thousands of dollars in digital cash. The heist was achieved by using bogus Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) broadcasts to hijack networks belonging to multiple large hosting companies, including Amazon, Digital Ocean, and OVH, among others. After sending the fake BGP updates miners unknowingly contributed work to the attackers' pools.

    101 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Xiaomi Arrives As Top Smartphone Seller In China

    New submitter redseo writes Xiaomi, known as the Apple of China, and recently enjoying its new-found fame and glory in the Indian market, has achieved yet another milestone. It has overtaken Samsung, to become China's best selling smartphone manufacturer, in Q2 2014. Xiaomi sold total of 15 million smartphones in China in Q2, which is a three-fold increase from a year ago. That's pretty good for a company founded only four years ago, with no stores of its own. (And though Xiaomi's phones are not widely sold in the U.S., they're offered by third-party sellers on Amazon and elsewhere; CNet has mostly good things to say about the company's Mi 3.)

    82 comments | about a month ago

  • Sony Tosses the Sony Reader On the Scrap Heap

    Nate the greatest (2261802) writes Sony has decided to follow up closing its ebook stores in the U.S. and Europe by getting out of the consumer ebook reader market entirely. (Yes, Sony was still making ereaders.) The current model (the Sony Reader PRS-T3) will be sold until stock runs out, and Sony won't be releasing a new model. This is a sad end for what used to be a pioneering company. This gadget maker might not have made the first ebook reader but it was the first to use the paper-like E-ink screen. Having launched the Sony Librie in 2004, Sony literally invented the modern ebook reader and it then went on to release the only 7" models to grace the market as well as the first ereader to combine a touchscreen and frontlight (the Sony Reader PRS-700). Unfortunately Sony couldn't come up with software or an ebook retail site which matched their hardware genius, so even though Sony released amazing hardware it had been losing ground to Amazon, B&N, and other retailers ever since the Kindle launched in 2007.

    172 comments | about a month ago

  • Book Review: Introduction To Cyber-Warfare: A Multidisciplinary Approach

    benrothke writes Cyberwarfare is a controversial topic. At the 2014 Infosec World Conference, Marcus Ranum gave a talk on Cyberwar: Putting Civilian Infrastructure on the Front Lines, Again. Whether it was the topic or just Marcus being Marcus, about a third of the participants left within the first 15 minutes. They should have stayed, as Ranum, agree with him or not, provided some riveting insights on the topic. In Introduction to Cyber-Warfare: A Multidisciplinary Approach, authors Paulo Shakarian, Jana Shakarian and Andrew Ruef provide an excellent overview of the topic. The book takes a holistic, or as they call it multidisciplinary, approach. It looks at the information security aspect of cyberwarfare, as well the military, sociological and other aspects. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.

    27 comments | about a month ago

  • Critics To FTC: Why Do You Hate In-App Purchasing Freedom?

    jfruh writes The FTC has moved aggressively recently against companies that make it too easy for people — especially kids — to rack up huge charges on purchases within apps. But at a dicussion panel sponsored by free-market think tank TechFreedom, critics pushed back. Joshua Wright, an FTC commissioner who dissented in a recent settlement with Apple, says a 15-minute open purchase window produced "obvious and intuitive consumer benefits" and that the FTC "simply substituted its own judgment for a private firm's decision as to how to design a product to satisfy as many users as possible."

    171 comments | about 1 month ago

  • Amazon's eBook Math

    An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has waged a constant battle with publishers over the price of ebooks. They've now publicly laid out their argument and the business math behind it. "We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000." They argue that capping most ebooks at $9.99 would be better for everyone, with the money split out 35% to the author, 35% to the publisher, and 30% to Amazon.

    Author John Scalzi says Amazon's reasoning and assumptions are a bit suspect. He disagrees that "books are interchangeable units of entertainment, each equally as salable as the next, and that pricing is the only thing consumers react to." Scalzi also points out that Amazon asserts itself as the only revenue stream for authors, which is not remotely true. "Amazon's assumptions don't include, for example, that publishers and authors might have a legitimate reason for not wanting the gulf between eBook and physical hardcover pricing to be so large that brick and mortar retailers suffer, narrowing the number of venues into which books can sell. Killing off Amazon's competitors is good for Amazon; there's rather less of an argument that it's good for anyone else."

    306 comments | about a month ago

  • Jesse Jackson: Tech Diversity Is Next Civil Rights Step

    theodp writes: U.S. civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson called on the Obama administration Monday to scrutinize the tech industry's lack of diversity. "There's no talent shortage. There's an opportunity shortage," Jackson said, calling Silicon Valley "far worse" than many others, such as car makers that have been pressured by unions. He said tech behemoths have largely escaped scrutiny by a public dazzled with their cutting-edge gadgets. Jackson spoke to press after meeting with Labor Secretary Tom Perez for a review of H-1B visas, arguing that data show Americans have the skills and should have first access to high-paying tech work. Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition plans to file a freedom-of-information request next month with the EEOC to acquire employment data for companies that have not yet disclosed it publicly, which includes Amazon, Broadcom, Oracle, Qualcomm and Yelp. Unlike the Dept. of Labor, Jackson isn't buying Silicon Valley's argument that minority hiring statistics are trade secrets. Five years after Google's HR Chief would only reassure Congress the company had "a very strong internal Black Googler Network" and its CEO brushed off similar questions about its diversity numbers by saying "we're pretty happy with the way our recruiting work," Google — under pressure from Jackson — fessed up to having a tech workforce that's only 1% Black, apparently par for the course in Silicon Valley.

    514 comments | about a month ago

  • 3-D Printing Comes To Amazon

    An anonymous reader writes Promising "an appstore for the physical world," Amazon has just unveiled their new online market for products created using a 3-D printer. "Customization gives customers the power to remix their world," explains the co-founder of Mixee Labs (an Amazon partner), "and we want to change the way people shop online." Amazon's ability to sell you things before they've even been built is currently limited mostly to novelties like iPhone cases, jewelry, and bobbleheads that look like you. But this could be the beginning of mainstream 3D printing.

    62 comments | about a month ago

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