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  • BlackBerry Will Buy Your iPhone For $550

    mpicpp points out that BlackBerry is hoping to get iPhone owners to switch to Passport smartphones by promising up to $550 to trade in their phones. "The promotion, which starts Monday, promises as much as $550 to iPhone owners who trade in their handsets in favor of BlackBerry's Passport. The actual trade-in value depends on the iPhone, with the iPhone 4S worth up to $90 and the iPhone 6 worth up to $400. (The iPhone 6 Plus is not eligible.) BlackBerry then sweetens the deal by kicking in an additional $150 as a topper for each iPhone. The deal will run through February 13, but it's good only in North America. Customers must buy the $599 to $699 unlocked Passport phone through either BlackBerry's website or Amazon. The trade-in amount comes in the form of a Visa prepaid card."

    102 comments | yesterday

  • Fly With the Brooklyn Aerodrome (Video)

    A bit of housing insulation material, a battery, a motor and propellor, a radio receiver and transmitter, and servos to control the motor and a pair of ailerons, and you're ready to fly the Brooklyn Aerodrome way. This isn't a tiny radio-controlled paper airplane, but a big bruiser with a 1:1 power to weight ratio (which means it can climb like a bat out of hell) and enough guts to fly in reasonably windy conditions while carrying a camera -- except we'd better not mention cameras, since Brooklyn Aerodrome creations, whether kits or plans, are obviously intended tohelp you build model airplanes, not drones. Timothy ran into project proponent Breck Baldwin at a maker faire near Atlanta, surrounded by a squadron of junior pilots who may someday become astronauts on the Moon - Mars run -- or at least delivery drone controllers for Amazon. (Alternate Video Link)

    18 comments | yesterday

  • Big IT Vendors Mostly Mum On Commercial Drone Plans

    alphadogg writes: Word that the Federal Aviation Administration might take a very hard line on commercial drone use has those with designs on such activity nervous. But as for big enterprise IT vendors, it's really hard to tell what they think because they're keeping any plans in this field very hush-hush. More consumer oriented companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google are active, but companies like IBM and HP are quiet, while Microsoft affirms it has nothing doing. A former FAA lawyer says sitting on the sidelines even during this unsure regulatory period is probably not a great idea. "I have a hard time believing they don't have some sort of programs in place," attorney Mark Dombroff says.

    22 comments | 2 days ago

  • Book Review: Bulletproof SSL and TLS

    benrothke writes If SSL is the emperor's new clothes, then Ivan Ristic in Bulletproof SSL and TLS has shown that perhaps the emperor isn't wearing anything at all. There is a perception that if a web site is SSL secured, then it's indeed secure. Read a few pages in this important book, and the SSL = security myth is dispelled. For the first 8 of the 16 chapters, Ristic, one of the greatest practical SSL./TLS experts around, spends 230 pages showing countless weaknesses, vulnerabilities, attacks and other SSL weaknesses. He then spends the next 8 chapters showing how SSL can, if done correctly, be deployed to provide adequate security. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.

    88 comments | 2 days ago

  • Indian Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Snub Android One Phones

    oyenamit writes Online shopping in India is still in its infancy but is growing tremendously to reach the mostly untapped market of 1.2 billion people. Invariably, the conflict between pure online retailers like Amazon and Flipkart and brick and mortar stores was bound to emerge. Unfortunately for Google's Android One, it has been on the receiving end of this friction. Leading brick and mortar retailers in India have refused to sell Android One handsets ever since the US company chose to launch its products exclusively online. The three Android One makers in India — Micromax, Karbonn and Spice — launched their handsets exclusively online in mid-September. When sales did not meet their expectations, they decided to release their products via the brick and mortar store channel. However, smaller retailer and mom-n-pop shops have decided to show their displeasure at having being left out of the launch by deciding not to stock Android One. The Android One phones, announced at the most recent Google I/O, are Google's attempt to bring stock Android (as on Google's Nexus devices) to emerging markets, with competent but not high-end phones.

    53 comments | 5 days 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."

    284 comments | about a week ago

  • Intel Planning Thumb-Sized PCs For Next Year

    angry tapir (1463043) writes Intel is shrinking PCs to thumb-sized "compute sticks" that will be out next year. The stick will plug into the back of a smart TV or monitor "and bring intelligence to that," said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, during the Intel investor conference in Santa Clara, California. They might be a bit late to the party, but since Skaugen mentioned both Chromecast and Amazon's Fire TV Stick, hopefully that means Intel has some more interesting and general-purpose plans.

    101 comments | about a week ago

  • 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.

    495 comments | about a week ago

  • "Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer" Pulled From Amazon

    New submitter clcto writes Back in 2010, Computer Engineer Barbie was released. Now, with the attention brought to the Frozen themed programming game from Disney and Code.org, unwanted attention has been given to the surprisingly real book "Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer". So much so, that Mattel has pulled the book from Amazon. The book shows Barbie attempting to write a computer game. However, instead of writing the code, she enlists two boys to write the code as she just does the design. She then proceeds to infect her computer and her sister's computer with a virus and must enlist the boys to fix that for her as well. In the end she takes all the credit, and proclaims "I guess I can be a computer engineer!" A blog post commenting on the book (as well as giving pictures of the book and its text) has been moved to Gizmodo due to high demand.

    555 comments | about a week ago

  • Nielsen Will Start Tracking Netflix and Amazon Video

    An anonymous reader writes Nielsen is going to start studying the streaming behavior of online viewers for the first time. Netflix has never released detailed viewership data, but Nielsen says they have developed a way for its rating meters to track shows by identifying their audio. From the article: "Soon Nielsen, the standard-bearer for TV ratings, may change that. The TV ratings company revealed to the Wall Street Journal that it's planning to begin tracking viewership of online video services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video in December by analyzing the audio of shows that are being streamed. The new ratings will come with a lot of caveats—they won't track mobile devices and won't take into account Netflix's large global reach—but they will provide a sense for the first time which Netflix shows are the most popular. And if the rest of the media world latches onto these new ratings as a standard, Netflix won't be able to ignore them."

    55 comments | about a week ago

  • Microsoft Azure Outage Across the Globe

    hawkinspeter writes: The BBC reports that overnight an outage of Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform took down many third-party sites that rely on it, in addition to disrupting Microsoft's own products. Office 365 and Xbox Live services were affected.

    This happened at a particularly inopportune time, as Microsoft has recently been pushing its Azure services in an effort to catch up with other providers such as Amazon, IBM, and Google. Just a couple of hours previously, Microsoft had screened an Azure advert in the UK during the Scotland v. England soccer match."
    (Most services are back online. As of this writing, Application Insights is still struggling, and Europe is having problems with hosted VMs.)

    167 comments | about a week ago

  • Big Talk About Small Samples

    Bennett Haselton writes: My last article garnered some objections from readers saying that the sample sizes were too small to draw meaningful conclusions. (36 out of 47 survey-takers, or 77%, said that a picture of a black woman breast-feeding was inappropriate; while in a different group, 38 out of 54 survey-takers, or 70%, said that a picture of a white woman breast-feeding was inappropriate in the same context.) My conclusion was that, even on the basis of a relatively small sample, the evidence was strongly against a "huge" gap in the rates at which the surveyed population would consider the two pictures to be inappropriate. I stand by that, but it's worth presenting the math to support that conclusion, because I think the surveys are valuable tools when you understand what you can and cannot demonstrate with a small sample. (Basically, a small sample can present only weak evidence as to what the population average is, but you can confidently demonstrate what it is not.) Keep reading to see what Bennett has to say.

    245 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism

    Bennett Haselton writes: A editorial with 24,000 Facebook shares highlights the differences in public reaction to two nearly identical breastfeeding photos, one showing a black woman and one showing a white woman, each breastfeeding an infant. The editorial decries the outrage provoked by the black woman's photo compared to the mild reaction elicited by the white woman's photo, and attributes the difference to racism. I tried an experiment using Amazon's Mechanical Turk to test that theory. Read on to see the kind of results Bennett found.

    350 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Popular Smartphones Hacked At Mobile Pwn2Own 2014

    wiredmikey writes Researchers have hacked several popular smartphones during the Mobile Pwn2Own 2014 competition that took place alongside the PacSec Applied Security Conference in Tokyo this week. The competition, organized by HP's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) targeted the Amazon Fire Phone, iPhone 5s, iPad Mini, BlackBerry Z30, Google Nexus 5 and Nexus 7, Nokia Lumia 1520, and Samsung Galaxy S5. Using various attacks, some Mobile Pwn2Own 2014 Pwnage included: Apple's iPhone 5s (hacked via the Safari Web browser, achieving a full sandbox escape); Samsung's Galaxy S5 (hacked multiple times using near-field communications attacks); Amazon's Fire Phone (Web browser exploited); Windows Phone (partial hacks using a browser attack), andthe Nexus 5 (a Wi-Fi attack, which failed to elevate privileges). All the exploits were disclosed privately to the affected companies. HP promised to reveal details in the upcoming weeks.

    52 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Amazon Goes After Oracle (Again) With New Aurora Database

    Sez Zero writes with news about the latest from Amazon Web Services. "Once again Amazon Web Services is taking on Oracle, the kingpin of relational databases, with Aurora, a relational database that is as capable as 'proprietary database engines at 1/10 the cost,' according to AWS SVP Andy Jassy. Amazon is right that customers, even big Oracle customers who hesitate to dump tried-and-true database technology are sick of Oracle’s cost structure and refusal to budge from older licensing models. Still there are very few applications that are more “sticky” than databases, which after typically contains the keys to the kingdom. Financial institutions see their use of Oracle databases as almost a pre-requisite for compliance, although that perception may be changing."

    102 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Apple's Luxembourg Tax Deals

    Presto Vivace sends a report from the Australian Financial Review on how Apple uses a holding company based in Luxembourg to avoid taxes on its iTunes revenue. Quoting: The 2011 accounts for iTunes Sàrl [the holding company] give the first inside view of how Apple accounts for its growing earnings from digital content. They are part of a massive leak of Luxembourg tax documents uncovered in an investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Remarkably, the accounts show Luxembourg has been more effective in extracting tax from iTunes than Ireland has with much larger Apple sales. Turnover for iTunes Sàrl exploded from €353 million ($508 million) in 2009 to €2.05 billion in 2013. Secret appendices to the 2011 accounts break down some of Apple’s costs. It shows that Apple takes a third of iTunes’ revenues as its gross profit margin. The 2011 figures showed that a flat 50 per cent of this gross profit was paid in intercompany charges. (Followup on a similar strategy from Amazon we discussed last week.)

    158 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Book Review: Countdown To Zero Day

    benrothke writes A word to describe the book Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Americas Most Wanted Computer Outlaw was hyperbole. While the general storyline from the 1996 book was accurate, filler was written that created the legend of Kevin Mitnick. This in turn makes the book a near work of historical fiction. Much has changed in nearly 20 years and Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the Worlds First Digital Weapon has certainly upped the ante for accurate computer security journalism. The book is a fascinating read and author Kim Zetters attention to detail and accuracy is superb. In the inside cover of the book, Kevin Mitnick describes this as an ambitious, comprehensive and engrossing book. The irony is not lost in that Mitnick was dogged by misrepresentations in Markoff's book. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.

    58 comments | about two weeks ago

  • How Alibaba Turned November 11 Into the World's Biggest Online Shopping Day

    hackingbear writes Bummed that you're home alone on date night, or stuck in your mom's basement, yet again? Don't worry. A new gadget or some scuba gear could help. Observed on November 11 — or "11.11," for the date with the most 1s — Singles Day, which started out as a joke among a group of male college students attending Nanjing University in the 1990s, has become the world's biggest online shopping day, thanks to the e-commerce prowess of China's Alibaba Group. On this day last year, they sold twice what all US companies sold on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. This year, Alibaba has decided to take its 11.11 promotions worldwide, highlighting global brands including online jewelry store Blue Nile, clothing brand Juicy Couture, and even Costco. Amazon has tried to get a piece of the action. The Seattle-based company launched promotions for the holiday last year on its Chinese site, and it's done so again this year.

    115 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Amazon's Echo Chamber

    An anonymous reader writes: The announcement this Thursday of another dubious piece of hardware from Amazon led Dustin Curtis to write an article critical of Amazon's hardware strategy, saying the company just doesn't understand what makes a device good or bad. Curtis says, "With Amazon.com, it can heavily and successfully promote and sell its products, giving it false indicators of success. It's an echo chamber. They make a product, they market the product on Amazon.com, they sell the product to Amazon.com customers, they get a false sense of success, the customer puts the product in a drawer and never uses it, and then Amazon moves on to the next product. Finally, with the Fire Phone, customers have been pushing back.

    The media strategy that seems to be driving Jeff Bezos to make mobile consumption devices (with Amazon's media stores and Prime video/music) is flawed. No one makes money selling media for consumption anymore. That market is quickly and brutally dying. The media market is now so efficient that all profit is completely sucked out of the equation by the time you get to the consumption delivery system, to the point that it is barely possible to break even."

    112 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Amazon's Luxembourg Tax Deals

    Presto Vivace writes in with this story of a European Commission investigation into a secret tax agreement between Amazon and Luxembourg. "Leaked tax documents from accounting firm PwC in Luxembourg show how Amazon sidesteps the 30 per cent tax rates local [Australian] players face. The Luxembourg documents, obtained in a review led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, contain some of the first hard numbers and details on how Amazon pays virtually no tax for its non-US earnings, including in Australia. Last month, the European Commission announced an investigation into the secret 2003 advance tax agreement Amazon struck with Luxembourg that is the key to its global tax strategy. The Luxembourg documents show not only the extent of the related-party transactions in Amazon's Luxembourg companies but how Amazon has changed its tax strategy after investigation by French tax authorities and the US Internal Revenue Service. The change is so dramatic it raises questions whether the European Commission is targeting the right transactions."

    200 comments | about three weeks ago

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