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The Media

More NFL Players Attack Microsoft's $400M Surface Deal With The NFL ( 231

An anonymous reader writes; "These tablets always malfunction," complained one NFL offensive lineman in January, foreshadowing a growing backlash to Microsoft's $400 million deal with the NFL to use Surface tablets. Friday the coach of the San Francisco 49ers and their controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick both complained they've also experienced problems, with Kaepernick saying the screen freezes "every once in a while and they have to reboot it."

Friday Microsoft called their tablet "the center of the debate on the role of technology in the NFL," saying they deeply respect NFL teams "and the IT pro's who work tirelessly behind the scenes to help them succeed." It included quotes from NFL quarterbacks -- for example, "Every second counts and having Microsoft Surface technology on sidelines allows players and coaches to analyze what our opponents are trying to do in almost real time." But Yahoo Finance wrote that "The quotes read like they were written by the Microsoft public relations team," arguing that Microsoft's NFL deal "has been a disaster... The tablets failed to work during a crucial AFC Championship game last January -- again for the New England Patriots... sports media interpreted that the malfunction benefited the Broncos on the field, giving the team an unfair advantage -- the very last thing Microsoft's tablets, meant to aid coaches in their play calling, should be doing."

The NFL issued a statement calling Microsoft "an integral, strategic partner of the NFL," adding "Within our complex environment, many factors can affect the performance of a particular technology either related to or outside of our partner's solutions."

Why Is Science Fiction Snubbed By Literary Awards? ( 252

Slashdot reader bowman9991 quotes an essay from GalacticBrain: Science fiction authors have long been outcasts from the literary world, critics using the worst examples of the genre as ammunition against it. Unfortunately though, at times even science fiction authors themselves can turn on their own kind: "Science fiction is rockets, chemicals and talking squids in outer space," mocked Margaret Atwood, one of her many attempts to convince people that she is not a science fiction author, even though one of her most famous novels, A Handmaid's Tale, is exactly that...

Considered by the literary establishment, and frequently by non-SF award-giving institutions, to be trashy, pulpish, commercially driven lightweight gutter fiction, it's no surprise that very few works of science fiction have won major literary awards... Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the award-winning (not "literary" awards obviously) Mars novels, [in 2009] hit out at the literary establishment, accusing the Man Booker judges of "ignorance" in neglecting science fiction, which he declared was "the best British literature of our time".

The article ends with a simple question. "Will science fiction authors ever escape the publication ghetto?"

Unofficial Answers: Why Does YouTube Seem So Biased? ( 178

Lauren Weinstein writes with some insight on an frustrating aspect of YouTube's video hosting service: "Why does Google's YouTube seem so biased against ordinary users who upload videos? I've unfairly had my videos blocked, received copyright strikes for my own materials, and even had my account suspended — and it's impossible to reach anyone at YouTube to complain!" No, YouTube isn't biased against you — not voluntarily, anyway. But it could definitely be argued that the copyright legal landscape — particularly in the mainstream entertainment industry — is indeed biased against the "little guys," and Google's YouTube must obey the laws as written. What's more, YouTube exists at the "bleeding edge" of the intersection of technology and law, where there's oh so much that goes bump in the night ...
The Almighty Buck

Infamous French Hacker Calls Internet a "Digital Shantytown" ( 82

An anonymous reader writes: French hacker and security expert Anthony Zboralski calls social media networks a "digital shantytown" in his most recent blogpost. While fellow members of hacker collective w00w00 have formed successful billion dollar startups, he claims that the rewards for creating content and use are unfair and suggests a better solution would be like the successful creation of land title for slum dwellerspartial ownership for users on social media.
United Kingdom

UK Gov't Launches Anti-Adblocking Initiative, Compares It To Piracy ( 317

An anonymous reader writes: UK culture secretary John Whittingdale has announced that the British government will set up a 'round-table' between online publishers and adblocking companies to discuss the 'problem' of adblocking. He described the practice of charging companies to be whitelisted as a 'modern day protection racket', and said: "Quite simply – if people don't pay in some way for content, then that content will eventually no longer exist And that's as true for the latest piece of journalism as it is for the new album from Muse." The issue has largely been left to the market to self-regulate until now, although Germany's courts ruled adblocking legal in 2015.

Scribd To Change Its 'Unlimited' E-book Subscription Plan To Semi-Unlimited 55

Robotech_Master writes: Subscription service Scribd has announced that it will change its unlimited e-book and audiobook-reading plan to a hybrid limited/unlimited model starting next month. It will offer a rotating selection of thousands of titles for unlimited reading, plus up to 3 books and 1 audiobook per month from the entire Scribd catalog. The particularly interesting thing to come out of this is that only 3% of Scribd's subscribers actually read more than 3 books per month--so the effect for the other 97% will actually be to give them access to a wider selection of titles.

Sci-Hub, a Site With Open and Pirated Scientific Papers 146

lpress writes: Sci-Hub is a Russian site that seeks to remove barriers to science by providing access to pirated copies of scientific papers. It was established in 2011 by Russian neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan, who could not afford papers she needed for her research and it now claims to have links to 48 million pirated and open papers. I tried it out and found some papers and not others, but it provides an alternative for researchers who cannot afford access to paid journals. After visiting this site, one cannot help thinking of the case of Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide as a result of prosecution for his attempt to free scientific literature.

Why Stack Overflow Doesn't Care About Ad Blockers 287

Press2ToContinue writes: Forging a bold step in the right direction, Stack Overflow announced today that they don't care if you use an ad blocker when you visit their site. "The truth is: we don't care if our users use ad blockers on Stack Overflow. More accurately: we hope that they won't, but we understand that some people just don't like ads. Our belief is that if someone doesn't like them, and they won't click on them, any impressions served to them will only annoy them-- plus, serving ads to people who won't click on them harms campaign performance. ... Publishers can't win by forcing ads — especially low-quality ads — in people's faces. Think scantily-clad women selling flight deals, weight-loss supplement promos or wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube-men promoting car dealerships." It's possible that this declaration by SO might help to clarify to advertisers that it is the overabundance of low quality ads that practically force the public to seek out ad blockers. But seriously, what is the likelihood of that?

Wired To Block Ad-Blocking Users, Offer Subscription ( 675

AmiMoJo writes: In a blog post Wired has announced that it will begin to block users who block ads on its site: "On an average day, more than 20 percent of the traffic to comes from a reader who is blocking our ads. We know that you come to our site primarily to read our content, but it's important to be clear that advertising is how we keep WIRED going," wrote the editors. The post goes on to offer two options for users blocking ads: whitelist or subscribe for $1/week.

Price Dispute Means 800k Customers Lose TV Channels In Sweden ( 164

Z00L00K writes: Due to a conflict between the cable operators and the channel providers, 800,000 to 900,000 customers will lose some of the most-viewed TV channels in Sweden, among them Eurosport, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. Additional customers in Norway will also lose channels. This is caused by a considerable hike in price for the channels from the provider Discovery Networks. However the amount of money involved is still kept secret for negotiation and business reasons. "Telenor Broadcast arm Canal Digital said Discovery Networks has told it that it will withdraw its channels from Canal Digital Sweden and sister company Bredbandsbolaget from 01 February. This follows Discovery's attempts to raise prices and pay for a number of channels that viewers had not chosen. This will affect their approximately 800,000 customers while a new contract is negotiated. Telenor Sweden customers will not able to watch Kanal 5 or the other Discovery channels until a deal is reached." Considering that Sweden has a population of almost 10 million the impact is noticeable.
Social Networks

Why Does Twitter Refuse To Shut Down Donald Trump? ( 832

Lauren Weinstein writes: The conclusion appears inescapable. Twitter apparently has voluntarily chosen to 'look the other way' while Donald Trump spews forth a trolling stream of hate and other abuses that would cause any average Twitter user to be terminated in a heartbeat. There's always room to argue the proprietary or desirability of any given social media content terms of service — or the policy precepts through which they are applied. It is also utterly clear that if such rules are not applied to everyone with the same vigor, particularly when there's an appearance of profiting by making exceptions for particular individuals, the moral authority on which those rules are presumably based is decimated, pointless, and becomes a mere fiction. Would you rather Twitter shut down no account ever, apply a sort of white-listing policy, or something in the middle?

Arnnon Geshuri, Newest Wikimedia Trustee, Forced To Resign 104

New submitter Mdann52 writes: Following an earlier vote of no confidence, it was announced that the recent appointee, Arnnon Geshuri, had stepped down from the board. This was following community criticism into his background. Says the announcement: The Board Governance Committee is working to improve and update our selection processes before we fill the vacancy left by Arnnonâ(TM)s departure. We are sorry for the distress and confusion this has caused to some in our community, and also to Arnnon.

Slashdot and SourceForge Sold, Now Under New Management ( 1310

kodiaktau writes with a link to today's announcement that DHI Group, Inc. (which you might know better as Dice, the company that bought Slashdot and sister site SourceForge in 2012) today announced that it completed the sale of its Slashdot and SourceForge businesses (together referred to as 'Slashdot Media') to BIZX, LLC in a transaction that closed on January 27, 2016. Financial terms were not disclosed. DHI first announced its plan to sell Slashdot Media in July 2015 as part of its strategy to focus on its core brands, as Slashdot Media no longer fits within the Company's core strategic initiatives. KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc. served as the Company's exclusive financial advisor for the transaction. (FOSS Force has a short article with some more info BIZX and the sale.)

Forbes Asks Readers To Disable Adblock, Serves Up Malvertising ( 406

Deathlizard writes with a report at Engadget that when this year's "Forbes 30 Under 30" list came out , "it featured a prominent security researcher. Other researchers were pleased to see one of their own getting positive attention, and visited the site in droves to view the list. On arrival, like a growing number of websites, Forbes asked readers to turn off ad blockers in order to view the article. After doing so, visitors were immediately served with pop-under malware, primed to infect their computers, and likely silently steal passwords, personal data and banking information."
The Media

Video FOSS Force is a FOSS News and Commentary Site (Video) 41

Christine Hall is FOSS Force's founder, publisher, chief editor, and everything else. She started the site about five years ago, but it has only started to attract notice in the last year. Christine brings the cynicism and writing style of a long-time freelance journalist to this tech niche, which makes her site a welcome addition to the Open Source news pantheon. And on the Slashdot front: this is our first video in a while because we have switched video hosting services. We hope you like this host better than the last one. Native HTML 5 at (long) last. Yay!

BBC Launches Machine-Translated Synthetic Voiceovers ( 24

An anonymous reader writes: The BBC News service is trialling a tool which provides synthesized journalist voice-overs in different languages, with translation provided by unspecified established online translation services. Although the simulated speech in the BBC video betrays itself with the characteristic staccato flow most associated with Stephen Hawking, the result is above average in terms of natural-sounding speech. However, journalists still need to clean up the returned translations, particularly as the initial test involves Russian and Japanese, and oriental auto-translations can prove embarrassing.
The Media

Why Is So Much Reported Science Wrong ( 294

An anonymous reader writes: An article from Berkeley's California Magazine explains some of the reasons science reporting is often at odds with actual science. Quoting: "Where journalism favors neat story arcs, science progresses jerkily, with false starts and misdirections in a long, uneven path to the truth—or at least to scientific consensus. The types of stories that reporters choose to pursue can also be a problem, says Peter Aldhous, [lecturer and reporter]. 'As journalists, we tend to gravitate to the counterintuitive, the surprising, the man-bites-dog story,' he explains. 'In science, that can lead us into highlighting stuff that's less likely to be correct.' If a finding is surprising or anomalous, in other words, there's a good chance that it's wrong.

On the flip side, when good findings do get published, they're often not as earth shattering as a writer might hope. ... So journalists and their editors might spice up a study's findings a bit, stick the caveats at the end, and write an eye-catching, snappy headline—not necessarily with the intent to mislead, but making it that much more likely for readers to misinterpret the results." The article also makes suggestions for both journalists and the scientific community to keep science reporting interesting while being more accurate.

Star Wars Prequels

Reddit Is Banning Users That Post Star Wars 7 Spoilers ( 268

An anonymous reader writes: A few naughty users have started spamming Reddit with Star Wars 7 spoilers, but also hoaxes. Some known Star Wars fans with Reddit accounts were even bombarded with PMs about the upcoming film, with trolls trying to ruin the movie before they saw it. As a result, Reddit is now banning any user that posts Star Wars 7 spoilers. The movie officially launches tomorrow; do you plan to see it? Do you care about spoilers?

Video WeMedia's Andrew Nachison Discusses the Future of Online Journalism 17

WeMedia is partly a think tank and partly a consulting firm that advises news organizations on how to deal with the ever-changing world of online journalism. Andrew Nachison cofounded WeMedia with Dale Peskin (who went back to newspaper editing in 2014) and is now the main sparkplug behind WeMedia. Andrew has been around journalism as a reporter, editor, consultant, and academic observer. If you're interested in the future of journalism, this interview with Andrew is a "must watch" (or "must read the transcript") piece. And we'll have another video starring Andrew on Slashdot within the next week, since this one ran long but only covered half of what we wanted to.

GunTV Aims To Premier 24-Hour Shopping Channel For Firearms 633 writes: Mike McPhate reports in the NY Times that two home shopping industry veterans, Valerie Castle and Doug Bornstein, are set to premier GunTV, a new 24-Hour shopping channel for guns, that aims to take the QVC approach of peppy hosts pitching "a vast array of firearms," as well as related items like bullets, holsters and two-way radios. The new cable channel hopes to help satisfy Americans' insatiable appetite for firearms. The channel's forthcoming debut might seem remarkably ill-timed, given recent shootings at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs and at a social services center in San Bernardino, California but gun sales have been rising for years, with nearly 21 million background checks performed in 2014, and they appear on track to a new record this year. The boom has lately been helped by a drumbeat of mass shootings, whose attendant anxiety has only driven more people into the gun store. The proposed schedule of programming allots an eight-minute segment each hour to safety public service announcements in between proposed segments on topics like women's concealed weapon's apparel, big-game hunting and camping. Buying a Glock on GunTV won't be quite be like ordering a pizza. When a firearm is purchased, a distributor will send it to a retailer near the buyer, where it has to be picked up in person and a federal background check performed. "We saw an opportunity in filling a need, not creating one," says Castle. "The vast majority of people who own and use guns in this country, whether it's home protection, recreation or hunting, are responsible . I don't really know that it's going to put more guns on the streets."

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