the unofficial Slashdot digest

Samsung Seeking To Block Nvidia Chips From US Market

Posted by Soulskill in News • View
An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that Samsung has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission asking them to block the import of Nvidia's graphics chips . This is part of Samsung's retaliation for a similar claim filed by Nvidia against Samsung and Qualcomm back in September. Both companies are wielding patents pertaining to the improved operation of graphics chips in cell phones and other mobile devices.

Doubling Saturated Fat In Diet Does Not Increase It In Blood

Posted by Soulskill in Science • View
An anonymous reader writes: A new study by researchers at Ohio State University found that dramatically increasing the amount of saturated fat in a person's diet did not increase the amount of saturated fat found in their blood. Professor Jeff Volek, the study's senior author, said it "challenges the conventional wisdom that has demonized saturated fat and extends our knowledge of why dietary saturated fat doesn't correlate with disease."

The study also showed that increasing carbohydrates in the diet led to an increase in a particular fatty acid previous studies have linked to heart disease. Volek continued, "People believe 'you are what you eat,' but in reality, you are what you save from what you eat. The point is you don't necessarily save the saturated fat that you eat. And the primary regulator of what you save in terms of fat is the carbohydrate in your diet. Since more than half of Americans show some signs of carb intolerance, it makes more sense to focus on carb restriction than fat restriction."

Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

Posted by Soulskill in Ask Slashdot • View
An anonymous reader writes: I'm a systems architect (and a former Unix sysadmin) with many years of experience on the infrastructure side of things. I have a masters in CS but not enough practical exposure to professional software development. I'd like to start my own software product line and I'd like to avoid outsourcing as much as I can. I'm seeking advice on what you think are the best practices for running a software shop and/or good blogs/books on the subject.

To be clear, I am not asking about what are the best programming practices or the merits of agile vs waterfall. Rather I am asking more about how to best run the shop as a whole. For example, how important is it to have coding standards and how much standardization is necessary for a small business? What are the pros and cons of allowing different tools and/or languages? What should the ratio of senior programmers to intermediate and junior programmers be and how should they work with each other so that nobody is bored and everyone learns something? Thanks for your help.

Sorry, you'll have to outsource.

By BarbaraHudson • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I have a masters in CS but not enough practical exposure to professional software development. I'd like to start my own software product line and I'd like to avoid outsourcing as much as I can.

Since you're getting into something you by your own admission lack domain experience in, unless you've won the Powerball and have a lot more money than brains, anyone you interview will realize that you're going nowhere and hence even the short-term prospects are, at best, poor.

At least with outsourcing, you can BS them as much as they BS you so they won't walk out the door shaking their head.

Bonne chance, 'cuz you're gonna need it.

Get a sales force and some customers

By Kohath • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Business is about sales and customers. Everything else you do is completely irrelevant if you don't have sales and customers. If you don't have a good plan to sell your wares, you don't need to spend 5 minutes thinking about how you will produce them.

Re:First and foremost

By Nuitari The Wiz • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Also look at oursources payroll, time tracking (this is sometimes a must for R&D tax credit) and make sure you have some financing / funding lined up. You need to have a plan to cover the first 2 years of operations where revenue will be slim.
This will also allow you to avoid getting into the "anything for a buck" mentality.

Don't focus on development tools / standards. Let your programmers take care of that. You might want to look for a lead developer with experience managing junior / intermediate developers.

Instill confidence through source escrow

By SethJohnson • Score: 3 • Thread
If you are planning to sell software to the government or business as a startup, consider source code escrow. Your customers will tend to stick with established vendors for fear of you going out of businesses and leaving them with an unsupported implementation. The source code escrow is insurance against that being more of a catastrophe for your customers than you.

Invest in dedicated technical support. It plays up as great comedy in the movie, Office Space, when the character says you don't want the customers talking directly to the engineers. You actually don't want that. Establishing a quality support team keeps the engineers productive on developing while the support group ensures the customers are getting help with their issues. Oh, and don't outsource this responsibility to a foreign country. If you think you can't afford quality support, at least staff it with a recent college grad and split that person's time between support and bug fixing.

Re: First and foremost

By American AC in Paris • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Even before that: have a business plan. Do your best to determine what you want to create, how expensive it will be to make it, how many people you'll need to manage, how much you expect to charge for it, and how big your likely market is. If you discover that there's no way to make your endeavor even close to profitable, you can save yourself months of heartache and mountains of lost money. Always have a plan, even if you don't stick to it in the end.

Eizo Debuts Monitor With 1:1 Aspect Ratio

Posted by Soulskill in Hardware • View
jones_supa writes: Eizo has introduced an interesting new PC monitor with a square aspect ratio: the Eizo FlexScan EV2730Q is a 26.5-inch screen with 1:1 aspect ratio and an IPS panel with resolution of 1920 x 1920 pixels. "The extended vertical space is convenient for displaying large amounts of information in long windows, reducing the need for excess scrolling and providing a more efficient view of data," the firm writes. The monitor also offers flicker-free (non-PWM) backlight and reduced blue light features to avoid scorching users' eyes. Would a square display be of any benefit to you?


By aquabat • Score: 3 • Thread
Air traffic controllers in Canada Use 2000x2000 pixel panels for the Canadian Automated Air Traffic System (CAATS); Pretty close.


By mccrew • Score: 3 • Thread
Finally get back some of the vertical space lost when every laptop and desktop downgraded to "HD".


By ihtoit • Score: 3 • Thread

Shut up and take my money!

I do my DTP on a Pentium IV with a 4:3 screen because the simple fact is it's far more comfortable looking at a document on a 4:3 screen than it is a 16:9 or a 16:10. Pisses me off that personal computing has gone the way it has, that being steered to moving media consumption - if I wanted to watch movies 24/7 I'd've bought a fucking £60 portable DVD player not a £500 laptop! This TV comes with a keyboard so I can fucking TYPE on it! I want my squarer screen back!

Pivot Stand?

By marciot • Score: 3 • Thread

I hope it comes with a pivot stand for landscape and portrait mode.

I'd be happy if 4:3 came back!

By BitterOak • Score: 3 • Thread
Forget square monitors, I'd be happy if 4:3 made a comeback. Yes, I know they still exist, but they're a lot harder to find than they used to be. Go to any Best Buy or Staples and all you see are 16:9. Those are great for watching movies, but I prefer to watch movies on my TV and do work on my computer. And for pretty much all work except video and movie editing, 4:3 is better. I'm currently working on an old Samsung 4:3 which is starting to give me trouble (making strange noises and going dark at random times requiring me to cycle the power on the monitor.) I hope I won't have too much trouble replacing it when it dies.

Upgrading the Turing Test: Lovelace 2.0

Posted by Soulskill in Technology • View
mrspoonsi tips news of further research into updating the Turing test. As computer scientists have expanded their knowledge about the true domain of artificial intelligence, it has become clear that the Turing test is somewhat lacking. A replacement, the Lovelace test, was proposed in 2001 to strike a clearer line between true AI and an abundance of if-statements. Now, professor Mark Reidl of Georgia Tech has updated the test further (PDF). He said, "For the test, the artificial agent passes if it develops a creative artifact from a subset of artistic genres deemed to require human-level intelligence and the artifact meets certain creative constraints given by a human evaluator. Creativity is not unique to human intelligence, but it is one of the hallmarks of human intelligence."

Turing test is fine

By itzly • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
There's nothing wrong with the Turing test, but it needs to have some thought put into the set up and execution, plus competent judges.

Human Intelligence

By Elledan • Score: 3 • Thread
All I can think of while reading up on the Turing and related tests is how many humans would fail such a test.

With the many assumptions made about what constitutes 'true' intelligence, how sure are we of the assumption that a human being of at least average intelligence would pass it? What's the research telling us there so far?

Or are human and artificial intelligence somehow considered to be mutually exclusive?

We will never have "real" AI

By msobkow • Score: 3 • Thread

We will never have "real" AI because every time we approach it, someone moves the bar as to what is required. It's been happening since the mid-late '80s. We *have* what would have qualified as AI according to the rules of '86-'87.

The assumptions, they make a whoosh out of you

By Donwulff • Score: 3 • Thread

So yet another article on Turing test which completely misses the point... First of all computer scientists never considered Turing test valid test of "artificial intelligence". In fact, there's practically no conceivable reason for a computer scientist to test their artificial intelligence by any other way than making it face problems of its own domain.
Perhaps there will come a day where we really have to ask "is this entertainment droid genuinely intelligent, or is it only pretending", possibly for determining whether it should have rights, but this kind of problem still doesn't lie in the foreseeable future.
On the Other hand, as Turing himself put it in the paper where he introduced his thought-experiment, from Wikipedias phrasing: "I propose to consider the question, 'Can machines think?'" Because "thinking" is difficult to define, Turing chooses to "replace the question by another, which is closely related to it and is expressed in relatively unambiguous words." Turing's new question is: "Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?"
In other words, the Turing test does not seek to answer the question of whether machines can think, because Turing considered the question meaningless, and noted that if a machines thinking was outwardly indistinguishable from human thinking, then the whole question would become irrelevant.
There is a further erroneous assumption at least in the summary - as of present times, even the most advanced computers and software are basically simply an abundance of if-statements, or for the low-level programmers among us, cmp and jmp mnemonics. If, on the other hand, we expand our definition of a "machine" to encompass every conceivable kind, for the materialistic pragmatic it becomes easy to answer whether machines can ever think - yes of course, the brain is a machine that can think.

Profanity-Laced Academic Paper Exposes Scam Journal

Posted by Soulskill in Science • View
Frosty P writes: A scientific paper titled "Get Me Off Your F****** Mailing List" was actually accepted by the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology. As reported at Vox and other web sites, the journal, despite its distinguished name, is a predatory open-access journal. These sorts of low-quality journals spam thousands of scientists, offering to publish their work for a fee. In 2005, computer scientists David Mazières and Eddie Kohler created this highly profane ten-page paper as a joke, to send in replying to unwanted conference invitations. It literally just contains that seven-word phrase over and over, along with a nice flow chart and scatter-plot graph. More recently, computer scientist Peter Vamplew sent it to the IJACT in response to spam from the journal, and the paper was automatically accepted with an anonymous reviewer rating it as "excellent," and requested a fee of $150. Over the years, the number of these predatory journals has exploded. Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, keeps an up-to-date list of them to help researchers avoid being taken in; it currently has 550 publishers and journals on it."

The Source Document

By Frosty Piss • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Of course I didn't use the word "F******" in my submission, but I suppose Slashdot must be couth.

Anyway, here's a link to the actual paper (warning: PDF) -

Not bad, but...

By Blrfl • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

It's no Chicken Chicken Chicken , but it'll do.

Re:Not bad, but...

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Thanks. I had never read the actual paper before, only seen the presentation.

Ukraine's IT Brigade Supports the Troops

Posted by Soulskill in Management • View
An anonymous reader sends this story from BusinessWeek: Eight months ago, David Arakhamiya was running a small IT company in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolayiv. Today, as an adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister, he oversees a massive crowdfunding effort that since March has raised about $300 million from ordinary citizens. The money is being used to equip Ukraine’s army with everything from uniforms, water, and other basic supplies to high-tech gear such as reconnaissance drones. Yaroslav Markevich, another IT entrepreneur with a small company in Kharkiv, once a Soviet hub for aviation technology, presented a plan to the commander of one Ukrainian battalion to create a drone unit after hearing stories about the efficiency of Russian drones. The commander said yes, and by the time his battalion was deployed early this summer, it was the only one in the army equipped with a fleet of short- and long-range drones. ... IT experts across Ukraine have been an important part of the volunteer effort to supply the army with equipment.

Re:Still they are underpowered

By dunkelfalke • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

It is not just the numbers. Ukrainian army is a mess because Ukraine sold almost everything they have inherited from USSR during the last 20 years, the army is not trained, not equipped and the soldiers are often unwilling willing to die for corrupt politicians. The only reason why Ukraine is not overrun yet is that Putin is unwilling to use Russian army in this conflict because it might pull the deeply divided Ukrainian state together - policing a hateful, conquered population would be way too difficult.

Right now it is enough to fund the separatists and occasionally help them out. Ukrainian government will help to do the rest by shelling civilians and generally behaving like a bunch of idiots.

You see, that country is, in a way, similar to Pakistan in 1971. Has been a sovereign country for just about 20 years in its recent history, has artificially drawn borders by the former colonial power, is corrupt, piss-poor, divided inside and their neighbor tries to destabilise it even further. In 1971 these circumstances have lead to a bloody war and creation of Bangladesh. I just hope it won't end up as bloody this time.

I call bullshit

By rs79 • Score: 3 • Thread

Russia didn't invade at all. It was a part of Russia and Russia *gave* it to Ukraine. There's a bilateral treaty between the two nations whereby Russia can have up to 25,000 troops there and Russia has had 16,000 troops there. They were there last month, they were there last year. Plus nearly everyone there is Russian. Who just gave a 96% mandate to rejoin Russia and GTFO of Ukraine which is in the middle of a Kosovo/Sarajevo style civil war with (hundreds of) Ukranians being killed by other Ukrainians - leftists, being killed by neo-Nazis and outright fascists. The Crimeans want out and who could blame them? Nobody has died in Crimea and they want to keep it that way, and then there's the Chevron fracking deal with the Ukraine that Crimea won't have to suffer through. How could this possibly be called an invasion? Read the background on Crimea, Russia and the Ukraine here and here.

Here is a *partial* list of US invasions:

The list does not include the 1801-1805 US Marine Barbary War operations against Barbary pirates based in Morocco , Algeria , Tunisia and Libya , and also ignores massive US subversion of virtually all countries in the world.

(1) American Indian nations (1776 onwards, American Indian Genocide; 1803, Louisiana Purchase; 1844, Indians banned from east of the Mississippi; 1861 onwards, California genocide; 1890, Lakota Indians massacre), (2) Mexico (1836-1846; 1913; 1914-1918; 1923), (3) Nicaragua (1856-1857; 1894; 1896; 1898; 1899; 1907; 1910; 1912-1933; 1981-1990), (4) American forces deployed against Americans (1861-1865, Civil War; 1892; 1894; 1898; 1899-1901; 1901; 1914; 1915; 1920-1921; 1932; 1943; 1967; 1968; 1970; 1973; 1992; 2001), (5), Argentina (1890), (6), Chile (1891; 1973), (7) Haiti (1891; 1914-1934; 1994; 2004-2005), (8) Hawaii (1893-), (9) China (1895-1895; 1898-1900; 1911-1941; 1922-1927; 1927-1934; 1948-1949; 1951-1953; 1958), (10) Korea (1894-1896; 1904-1905; 1951-1953), (11) Panama (1895; 1901-1914; 1908; 1912; 1918-1920; 1925; 1958; 1964; 1989-), (12) Philippines (1898-1910; 1948-1954; 1989; 2002-), (13) Cuba (1898-1902; 1906-1909; 1912; 1917-1933; 1961; 1962), (14) Puerto Rico (1898-; 1950; ); (15) Guam (1898-), (16) Samoa (1899-), (17) Honduras (1903; 1907; 1911; 1912; 1919; 1924-1925; 1983-1989), (18) Dominican Republic (1903-1904; 1914; 1916-1924; 1965-1966), (19) Germany (1917-1918; 1941-1945; 1948; 1961), (20) Russia (1918-1922), (21) Yugoslavia (1919; 1946; 1992-1994; 1999), (22) Guatemala (1920; 1954; 1966-1967), (23) Turkey (1922), (24) El Salvador (1932; 1981-1992), (25) Italy (1941-1945); (26) Morocco (1941-1945), (27) France (1941-1945), (28) Algeria (1941-1945), (29) Tunisia (1941-1945), (30) Libya (1941-1945; 1981; 1986; 1989; 2011), (31) Egypt (1941-1945; 1956; 1967; 1973; 2013), (32) India (1941-1945), (33) Burma (1941-1945), (34) Micronesia (1941-1945), (35) Papua New Guinea (1941-1945), (36) Vanuatu (1941-1945), (37) Austria (1941-1945), (38) Hungary (1941-1945), (39) Japan (1941-1945), (40) Iran (1946; 1953; 1980; 1984; 1987-1988; ), (41) Uruguay (1947), (42) Greece (1947-1949), (43) Vietnam (1954; 1960-1975), (44) Lebanon (1958; 1982-1984), (45) Iraq (1958; 1963; 1990-1991; 1990-2003; 1998; 2003-2011), (46) Laos (1962-), (47) Indonesia (1965), (48) Cambodia (1969-1975; 1975), (49) Oman (1970), (50) Laos (1971-1973), (51) Angola (1976-1992), (52) Grenada (1983-1984), (53) Bolivia (1986; ), (54) Virgin Islands (1989), (55) Liberia (1990; 1997; 2003), (56) Saudi Arabia (1990-1991), (57) Kuwait (1991), (58) Somalia (1992-1994; 2006), (59) Bosnia (1993-), (60) Zaire (Congo) (1996-1997), (61) Albania (1997), (62) Sudan (1998), (63) Afghanistan (1998; 2001-), (64) Yemen (2000; 2002-), (65) Macedonia (2001), (66) Colombia (2002-), (67) Pakistan (2005-), (68) Syria (2008; 2011-), (69) Uganda (2011), (70) Mali (2013), (71) Niger (2013).

Things that led up to this:
"austerity" to pay back the banksters
US interference
Neo-Nazi insurgents
Kiev state sponsored violence
Chevron's fracking deal with Ukraine
Russia doesn't recognize the interim Kiev government yet continues subsidies and aid. The US and EU recognize the Kiev government yet haven't given even a penny.
Why do some Eastern Ukrainis want to rejoin Russia? It's less about ethnic ties and more about the fact that the area is basically Ukraine's Detroit and people have forgotten just enough about the "good old days" to be nostalgic for them.
Apr. 21 2014 - Stalin victims include Crimean Tatars rehabilitated by Putin decree
Apr 24 2014 - American duplicity with regards to Ukraine
May 1 2014 - It's not Russia that's pushed Ukraine to the brink of war
May 14,2014 - Son of US VP Joe Biden appointed to board of major Ukrainian gas company
Oct, 2014 - unearthing graves of Kiev's victems.

Extreme Shrimp May Hold Clues To Alien Life On Europa

Posted by Soulskill in Science • View writes: Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are studying a mysterious ecosystem at one of the world's deepest undersea hydrothermal vents to get clues about what life could be like on other planetary bodies, such as Jupiter's icy moon Europa, which has a subsurface ocean. At the vents, tiny shrimp are piled on top of each other, layer upon layer, crawling on rock chimneys that spew hot water. "You go along the ocean bottom and there's nothing, effectively," says Max Coleman. "And then suddenly we get these hydrothermal vents and a massive ecosystem. It's just literally teeming with life." Bacteria, inside the shrimps' mouths and in specially evolved gill covers, produce organic matter that feed the crustaceans. The particular bacteria in the vents are able to survive in extreme environments because of chemosynthesis, a process that works in the absence of sunlight and involves organisms getting energy from chemical reactions. In this case, the bacteria use hydrogen sulfide, a chemical abundant at the vents, to make organic matter. The temperatures at the vents can climb up to a scorching 842 degrees Fahrenheit (450 degrees Celsius), but waters just an inch away are cool enough to support the shrimp. The shrimp are blind, but have thermal receptors in the backs of their heads.

According to the exobiologists, these mysterious shrimps and its symbiotic bacterium may hold clues "about what life could be like on other planetary bodies." It's life that may be similar—at the basic level—to what could be lurking in the oceans of Europa, deep under the icy crust of the Jupiter moon. According to Emma Versteegh "whether an animal like this could exist on Europa heavily depends on the actual amount of energy that's released there, through hydrothermal vents." Nobody is seriously planning a landing mission on Europa yet. But the European Space Agency aims to launch its JUpiter ICy moons Explorer mission (JUICE) to make the first thickness measurements of Europa's icy crust starting in 2030 and NASA also has begun planning a Europa Clipper mission that would study the icy moon while doing flybys in a Jupiter orbit.

In Reverse

By Mr D from 63 • Score: 3 • Thread
I find it much more probable that life begins in milder, friendlier conditions and then adapts over time to harsher environments. Of course, everything is relative.

Re:Most expensive sushi ever

By rubycodez • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

all these shrimp are yours, except Europas, eat no crustaceans there

Linux On a Motorola 68000 Solder-less Breadboard

Posted by Soulskill in Build new • View
New submitter lars_stefan_axelsson writes: When I was an undergrad in the eighties, "building" a computer meant that you got a bunch of chips and a soldering iron and went to work. The art is still alive today, but instead of a running BASIC interpreter as the ultimate proof of success, today the crowning achievement is getting Linux to run: "What does it take to build a little 68000-based protoboard computer, and get it running Linux? In my case, about three weeks of spare time, plenty of coffee, and a strong dose of stubbornness. After banging my head against the wall with problems ranging from the inductance of pushbutton switches to memory leaks in the C standard library, it finally works! (video)"

Can it run Crysis

By Billly Gates • Score: 3 • Thread

I am sure it will fly through through an emulator

Re:Thanks for crashing my web server!

By nsaspook • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

but I hate to tell you that it won't help with getting dates.

Trouble running vi?

By PPH • Score: 3 • Thread

Why not try emacs instead?

Disclaimer - These opiini^H^H damn! ^H^H ^Q ^[ .... :w :q :wq :wq! ^d
exit X Q ^C ^? :quitbye CtrlAltDel ~~q :~q logout save/quit :!QUIT
man quit ^C ^c ?Quit ?q CtrlShftDel "Hey, what does this button d..."


By jasno • Score: 3 • Thread

Getting it working on a breadboard is no small feat. Kudos. I'm sure it helps to only run at 2MHz.

Rather than, as has been suggested, spin a PCB for it, why not try wire-wrapping next time? Less capacitance than a breadboard and a bit more permanent.

Back at DeVry(haha) we built 7MHz 68k systems using wirewrap. Great times. I freaking love 68k assembly. We(well, the smart ones) also used 22V10 PALs for address decoding to save on 74 series logic chips.

Another next step - find a chip with an MMU so you can run real linux. I think a 68020 or '030 has one. Much higher clock speed too. The pin density is still low enough(I think it's 0.1 but in a grid) that you can work with it. Check old electronic stores' back shelves for sockets.


By OzPeter • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The 68008 was discontinued 20 years ago, so this isn't really all that useful even as an educational exercise. Why not pick a current breadboardable, cheap microprocessor and get Linux to run on that? That way, other people can benefit.

Why even bother with hardware. Why not just emulate it?

But then again .. why emulate it when you can buy time on a virtual system?

Then again why do all that when you could just be watching TV?

Judge Approves $450M Settlement For Apple's Ebook Price Fixing

Posted by Soulskill in Apple • View
An anonymous reader writes: On Friday a U.S. federal judge approved a settlement in the Apple ebook price-fixing case that could see the technology giant paying $450 million. $400 million of that would go to the roughly 23 million consumers thought to be affected by the price fixing, and the rest would go to lawyers. Though the case is now settled, the dollar amount is not necessarily final — an appeals court still has to rule on a previous verdict. If the appeals court finds in Apple's favor, then the total settlement drops to only $70 million. If they find against Apple, then it's the full amount. "The settlement appeared to reflect fatigue by Apple, the Justice Department, state attorneys general and class-action lawyers eager to conclude a case that has dragged on, largely because of delays by Apple."

So good that the proxy battle is over

By phayes • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

All hail Amazon, the winner by proxy of this fight


By PopeRatzo • Score: 3 • Thread

$450 million is nothing to Apple. They find that much under the cushions on the sofas in the Apple lounge. They spend more than that every week on KY and poppers.

Re:So good that the proxy battle is over

By Shavano • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Because setting your own price is legal and colluding with other companies to raise the price isn't.

Re:So good that the proxy battle is over

By Pembers • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

So why does Amazon get to set the price, and not Apple or the publishers?

Because that's how the sale of every other product to the consumer works - the manufacturer or publisher tells the retailer "we'll sell you a crate of widgets for X dollars apiece" and the retailer is free to sell them to the consumer for whatever they think the consumer is willing to pay. Usually it's some function of X, but it doesn't have to be.

Agency pricing (so-called because the publisher sets the retail price and the retailer acts as an agent of the publisher, taking a fixed percentage of that as his profit) removes the ability of retailers to compete on price. Apple liked it because they don't want to compete on price anyway. It doesn't matter so much when you're talking about their hardware - plenty of people are willing to pay a premium for an Apple computer or phone or tablet because they perceive them as better or cooler than cheaper products with similar specs from other manufacturers. But if you're talking about ebooks, it's hard to see why you should pay $12.99 or $14.99 for the latest Stephen King or James Patterson from Apple when you could get exactly the same thing for $9.99 or less from Amazon. But if it's the same price at Amazon, you might as well get it from Apple.

The publishers liked agency pricing because it meant Amazon couldn't price ebooks at a point where it would cut into the publishers' print business. The publishers know that print is going away anyway - they're just trying to prolong it as much as they can because they know that when Barnes & Noble goes bust, there won't be anyone else they can play off against Amazon. They also know that print distribution is the last advantage they have over self-publishing. Self-published ebooks now compete on a level playing field with ebooks from the big publishers, but it's still very difficult for a self-published book to sell a lot of copies in print. (The ones that have managed it were usually picked up by a publisher after doing well as ebooks.) Everything else a publisher can offer an author can be bought from freelancers for a one-off fee, instead of most of the revenue for the life of the copyright.

Having said all that, the lawsuit was never about agency pricing as such. US competition law cares very little about protecting retailers. What was illegal was that Apple and the publishers colluded to raise prices, thus harming consumers. The fact that they used an unusual method of pricing to do it is neither here nor there, really.

Some Early Nexus 6 Units Returned Over Startup Bug

Posted by timothy in Mobile • View
The Register reports that Motorola has issued a recall for an early batch of its hotly anticipated new Nexus 6 smartphones that were sold through U.S. mobile carrier AT&T, owing to a software glitch that can reportedly causes the devices to boot to a black screen. ... AT&T retail stores have reportedly been told to return their existing inventory of the Nexus 6 and wait for new units to arrive from Motorola, which has already corrected the problem on its assembly line. Any customer who brings a defective unit into an AT&T store will receive a replacement. Motorola's memo to stores says that only initial shipments were affected, and that the problem has been identified. However, as the article mentions, there's thus far less luck for those like me who've found that at least some original Nexus 7 tablets do not play nicely with Lollipop. (The effects look nice, but it's never a good sign to see "System UI isn't responding. Do you want to close it?" on a tablet's screen.)

What's old is new again

By ArcadeMan • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread

System UI isn't responding. Do you want to close it?

How are you going to close it if the system UI isn't responding? Isn't that like the old "Keyboard not found. Press F1 to continue." PC error?

This fix helped my Nexus 7

By Agrippa • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Clearing the system cache significantly sped up my Nexus 7

Google's Project Loon Can Now Launch Up To 20 Balloons Per Day, Fly 10x Longer

Posted by timothy in Mobile • View
An anonymous reader writes Google [Thursday] shared an update from Project Loon, the company's initiative to bring high-speed Internet access to remote areas of the world via hot air balloons. Google says it now has the ability to launch up to 20 of these balloons per day. This is in part possible because the company has improved its autofill equipment to a point where it can fill a balloon in under five minutes. This is a major achievement, given that Google says filling a Project Loon balloon with enough air so that it is ready for flight is the equivalent of inflating 7,000 party balloons.

No hot air

By jamesl • Score: 3 • Thread

... access to remote areas of the world via hot air balloons.

These are not hot air balloons.

The inflatable part of the balloon is called a balloon envelope. A well-made balloon envelope is critical for allowing a balloon to last around 100 days in the stratosphere. Loonâ(TM)s balloon envelopes are made from sheets of polyethylene plastic, and they measure fifteen meters wide by twelve meters tall when fully inflated. When a balloon is ready to be taken out of service, gas is released from the envelope to bring the balloon down to Earth in a controlled descent. In the unlikely event that a balloon drops too quickly, a parachute attached to the top of the envelope is deployed.

Indian Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Snub Android One Phones

Posted by timothy in Mobile • View
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.

Understanding the Indian retailers.

By 140Mandak262Jamuna • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
The retail sector in India evolved under very severe capital crunch. The retailer was the king in that environment. It was the retailer who takes the risk and orders goods to be sold, put up the money whether it gets sold or not. Unsold retail merchandise is never taken by the manufacturer usually in India. They borrow using a traditional chit fund system. They borrow at 24% to 36% rate of interest. Sometimes even higher than that. They usually operate at 40% margin, not counting the cost of capital. They cooperate (or collude, depending on your POV) and treat both customers and their suppliers with little mercy.

Indian customers are also very class conscious, they would eschew a cheaper product merely because their servant maids can afford them. They are used to hardball by retailer and any naive implementation of US level customer service will be gamed to death within two quarters.

Google will do well to

1 open its own stores,

2 use its strength in access to capital,

3 introduce products with differentiation so that you would not be using the same phone your driver is using,

4 deliver superior customer service to those who play fair

5 undertake price war for the in market above "servant maids and drivers and cooks" sector and below the "MNC executive, people rolling in black money" sector

Critical XSS Flaws Patched In WordPress and Popular Plug-In

Posted by timothy in Management • View
itwbennett writes The WordPress development team on Thursday released critical security updates that address an XSS vulnerability in the comment boxes of WordPress posts and pages. An attacker could exploit this flaw to create comments with malicious JavaScript code embedded in them that would get executed by the browsers of users seeing those comments. 'In the most obvious scenario the attacker leaves a comment containing the JavaScript and some links in order to put the comment in the moderation queue,' said Jouko Pynnonen, the security researcher who found the flaw.

Regular expressions

By GeLeTo • Score: 3 • Thread
Sanitizing HTML input with regular expressions, what could possibly go wrong?

Re:Regular expressions

By cbhacking • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

<img src="xss" onerror="alert('Nope!')" />
<iframe src="javascript:alert('That won't work.')"></iframe>
<object data=""></object>
<scri<scriptpt>alert("In fact, that kind of blacklisting is trivial to bypass.");</script>
<form action="javascript:alert('I once spent a month breaking a client's blacklist every time they updated it to block my last POC exploit, telling them all the while they had to use output encoding.');"><input type="submit" value="SPOILER" /></form>
<h1 onmouseover="alert('They eventually did, but oh man did they waste a lot of time trying variants on your suggestion first!')">REALLY BIG TEXT THAT YOUR MOUSE WILL GO OVER</h1>

People thinking like you do frequently leads to exactly this sort of problem, where something *supposedly* has XSS protection but in fact totally doesn't. With the possible exception of the nested script tags (if you're smart enough to run the filter repeatedly until no further hits occur, that'll be caught), every single one of these lines will execute arbitrary attacker-controlled JavaScript through the filter that you propose. I strongly recommend that you go read OWASP, especially the top 10, and in the meantime I hope you haven't written any in-production web applications...

Content Security Policy

By Njovich • Score: 3 • Thread

One highly underused technology is the Content Security Policy. It is supported in all major browsers, including IE10+.

With simple headers you can prevent anyone from using inline javascript or including scripts from non-whitelisted domains. For instance, the following headers would make inline scripts not execute, and only execute javascript from the whitelisted domains:

Content-Security-Policy: script-src 'self';
X-Content-Security-Policy: script-src 'self';

If projects like Wordpress would pick this up, it would make it very difficult to do XSS attacks.

Re:There's a solution

By drinkypoo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The real question is, Why is anybody still runing WordPress?

Because Drupal has security flaws, too.

Not everyone wants to write their own CMS and deal with the security issues. Wordpress probably is the absolutely worst choice, though.

Re:There's a solution

By Zedrick • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Because it's very easy to use for people with their own domain but little tech knowledge, it has a massive amount of themes and plugins to choose from (which I admit can be a problem) and it has much less security issues than any comparable CMS.

I've worked with hosting abuse for a long time, and it's fairly rare to see a hacked WP nowadays - unless the owner of the site has turned off auto-updating. Hacked Joomla-, modX- or Drupal-sites are much more common.

Startup Assembly Banks On Paid, Open-Source Style Development

Posted by timothy in Developers • View
enbody writes A year-old startup, Assembly, is built on the premise of creating products using open-source style development, but structured in a way that you get paid for your contributions. Open-source development is well-known in the Slashdot community, as are a variety of ways to earn a living around open-source, such as support. What is new here is being paid as part of the development, and not just for coding — your contribution might be as project manager or sales. A nice description with video showed up today on the Verge. Of course, the devil is in the details, but they have products so someone in Slashdot land may be interested. (Bias warning: I know one of these guys.)

Re:How much does it pay?

By BarbaraHudson • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Based on reading their terms of use, etc., in the majority of cases it will be zero.

Searching the whole site, I was unable to find a single example of a successful "assembly." Not good after "a year of operation."

Also, under their Terms, they can sell your project out from under you at any time:

selected App Ideas will further be developed by the Community and may ultimately be commercialized, produced and licensed or sold by Assembly

... and ,,,


There goes any illusion that you're in control.