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Twitter

SeaWorld and Others Discover That a Hashtag Can Become a Bashtag 60

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-hit-with-your-own-stick dept.
HughPickens.com writes Alison Griswold writes that in an effort to improve its tanking image, SeaWorld launched a new advertising campaign this week to educate the public about its "leadership in the care of killer whales" and other work to protect whales in captivity and in the wild. As part of that head-on initiative, someone at SeaWorld decided to invite Twitter users to pose their questions to the company directly using the hashtag #AskSeaWorld. That was not a good idea as twitter users bashed Sea World relentlessly.. "As easy as it is to make fun of SeaWorld here, the real question is why any company still thinks hosting an open Twitter forum could be good for public relations," writes Griswold. "So maybe SeaWorld's social and PR folks just really have no idea what they're doing. Even so, you'd think they'd have learned from the corporate failures before them."

Let's review some of the times this has backfired, starting with the infamous McDonald's #McDStories Twitter campaign of January 2012. Rather than prompting customers to share their heart-warming McDonald's anecdotes, the hashtag gave critics a highly visible forum to share their top McDonald's horror stories. MacDonalds pulled the campaign within two hours but they discovered that crowd-sourced campaigns are hard to control. Three years later the #McDStories hashtag is still gathering comments. "Twitter Q&As are a terrible idea.," concludes Griswold. "A well-meaning hashtag gives critics an easy way to assemble and voice their complaints in a public forum. Why companies still try them is a great mystery. Maybe they'll all finally learn from SeaWorld and give this one horrible PR trick up for good."
Businesses

Arduino Dispute Reaches Out To Distributors 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-in-a-name dept.
szczys writes Two companies are claiming ownership of the Arduino Trademark. The most recent development in this sad state of affairs is a letter from Arduino SRL to long-time Distributors of Arduino products. SRL is claiming they are the real Arduino, but there are some tasty tidbits including a Q/A section with some peculiar answers. From the article: "In short, Arduino LLC has been working on developing the Arduino platform, software, and community while Smart Projects / Arduino SRL was the major official producer of the hardware for most boards. Both are claiming to 'be' Arduino, and going after each other in court. So it’s not strange that Arduino SRL would like to try to keep its hold on the distribution channels."
Canada

Best Buy Kills Off Future Shop 183

Posted by Soulskill
from the renamed-to-past-shop dept.
Lirodon writes: Future Shop, a Canadian electronics chain that was bought by Best Buy in 2001, but continued to operate in parallel with the newly-opened Canadian locations of the U.S. retailer, is no more. Today, the company abruptly announced the closure of the Future Shop chain, and the permanent closure of 66 of its remaining 131 locations. The remaining 65 Future Shop locations (specifically, those that weren't within driving, or even walking distance of a Best Buy to begin with) will be converted to Best Buy stores over the next few days.

This is just the latest step in Best Buy's efforts to downsize its Canadian operations and focus on online retail. The new, downsized chain will consist of 136 Best Buy stores (and 56 of the small Best Buy Mobile stores) in Canada. Still, it's sad to see such an iconic brand killed off like this.
Graphics

Another Patent Pool Forms For HEVC 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the money-to-be-squeezed dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new patent pool, dubbed HEVC Advance, has formed for the HEVC video codec. This pool offers separate licensing from the existing MPEG LA HEVC patent pool. In an article for CNET, Stephen Shankland writes, "HEVC Advance promises a 'transparent' licensing process, but so far it isn't sharing details except to say it's got 500 patents it describes as essential for using HEVC, that it plans to unveil its license in the third quarter, and that expected licensors include General Electric, Technicolor, Dolby, Philips and Mitsubishi Electric. The group's statement suggested that some patent holders weren't satisfied with the money they'd make through MPEG LA's license. One of HEVC Advance's goals is 'delivering a balanced business model that supports HEVC commercialization.' ... HEVC Advance and MPEG LA aren't detailing what led to two patent pools, an outcome that undermines MPEG LA's attempt to offer a convenient 'one-stop shop' for companies needing a license." Perhaps this will lead to increased adoption of royalty-free video codecs such as VP9. Monty Montgomery of Xiph has some further commentary.
Security

Startups Increasingly Targeted With Hacks 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the waiting-for-the-easy-marks-to-ripen dept.
ubrgeek writes: Slack, makers of the popular communications software, announced yesterday that they'd suffered a server breach. This follows shortly after a similar compromise of Twitch.tv, and is indicative of a growing problem facing start-up tech companies. As the NY Times reports, "Breaches are becoming a kind of rite of passage for fledgling tech companies. If they gain enough momentum with users, chances are they will also become a target for hackers looking to steal, and monetize, the vast personal information they store on users, like email addresses and passwords."
China

IBM and OpenPower Could Mean a Fight With Intel For Chinese Server Market 81

Posted by timothy
from the round-the-mulberry-bust dept.
itwbennett writes With AMD's fade out from the server market and the rapid decline of RISC systems, Intel has stood atop the server market all by itself. But now IBM, through its OpenPOWER Foundation, could give Intel and its server OEMs a real fight in China, which is a massive server market. As the investor group Motley Fool notes, OpenPOWER is a threat to Intel in the Chinese server market because the government has been actively pushing homegrown solutions over foreign technology, and many of the Foundation members, like Tyan, are from China.
The Courts

Ellen Pao Loses Silicon Valley Gender Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins 309

Posted by timothy
from the she'll-resign-her-commission dept.
vivaoporto writes As reported by the New York Times, USA Today and other publications, a jury of six men and six women rejected current Reddit Inc CEO Ellen Pao's claims against her former employer, the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Ms. Pao's suit, that alleged employment discrimination based on gender, workplace retaliation and failure to take reasonable steps to prevent gender discrimination, asked $16 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages. The jury decided, after more than two days of deliberation and more than four weeks of testimony, that her formed employer neither discriminated against the former junior partner for her gender, nor fired the complainant because of a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against the firm in 2012. She alleged that Kleiner Perkins had promoted male partners over equally qualified women at the firm, including herself, and then retaliated against her for raising concerns about the firm's gender dynamics by failing to promote her and finally firing her after seven years at the firm after she filed her 2012 lawsuit.
Transportation

Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up 365

Posted by Soulskill
from the difficulty-with-edge-cases dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Jad Mouawad And Christopher Drew write in the NY Times that although airplane cockpits are supposed to be the last line of defense from outside aggressors, airlines have fewer options if the threat comes from within. One of the major safety protocols that actually made planes safer in the past 15 years was that the cockpits were turned into fortresses. Unfortunately, that exact advantage was exploited by the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane on Tuesday to crash it intentionally. "It is shocking to me that there was not a second person present in the cockpit," says Mark Rosenker, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Access to the cockpit is strictly regulated in the United States. Passengers are not allowed to congregate near the cockpit door, and whenever the door is open, no one is allowed in the forward bathroom and flight attendants usually block aisle access, sometimes using a food cart. The Federal Aviation Administration mandates that a flight attendant must sit in the cockpit when either pilot steps into the passenger area; European regulations do not have a similar two-person rule, but they're now talking about creating one.

The Germanwings accident also points to potential shortcomings in how pilots are screened for mental problems, a recurring concern for an industry that demands focus and discipline in an increasingly technical job, often in stressful situations. In 2012, a well-regarded pilot with JetBlue, one of the airline's earliest employees, was physically restrained by passengers on a flight from New York to Las Vegas after displaying erratic behavior. In that case, the co-pilot locked the pilot out of the cabin and made an emergency landing in Amarillo, Tex. "Aircraft-assisted pilot suicides," as the Federal Aviation Administration calls them, are rare. They include the November 2013 crash of a Mozambique Airlines plane bound for Luanda, Angola, which bears an eerie resemblance to the Germanwings plane's demise. When the flight's co-pilot left to use the lavatory, the captain locked him out of the cockpit and manually steered the aircraft earthward. The crash of Egypt Airlines Flight 990 off Nantucket, Mass., in 1999, which killed all 217 people on board, was also caused by deliberate action, a National Transportation Safety Board investigation concluded. Experts on suicide say that the psychology of those who combine suicide with mass murder may differ in significant ways from those who limit themselves to taking their own lives.
The Military

US Air Force Overstepped In SpaceX Certification 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-ruin-this-for-us,-government dept.
Rambo Tribble writes: An internal review commissioned by Air Force Secretary Deborah James has concluded that Air Force personnel tasked with evaluating SpaceX's certification treated it as a design review, going so far as to dictate organizational changes in the company. This was judged contrary to the intention of promoting a competitive environment. The report, prepared by former Air Force Chief of Staff General Larry Welch, concluded, "The result to date has been ... the worst of all worlds, pressing the Falcon 9 commercially oriented approach into a comfortable government mold that eliminates or significantly reduces the expected benefits to the government of the commercial approach. Both teams need to adjust."
The Internet

Broadband ISP Betrayal Forces Homeowner To Sell New House 221

Posted by Soulskill
from the let-me-transfer-you-to-our-customer-disservice-center dept.
New submitter knightsirius writes: A Washington homeowner is having to sell his new house after being refused internet service from Comcast and CenturyLink despite receiving confirmation from both that the location was able to receive broadband service. The whole process took months and involved false assurances and bureaucratic convolutions. The national broadband map database frequently cited by Comcast as proof of sufficient competition lists 10 options at his location, including a gigabit municipal fiber network, but he cannot subscribe to it due to Washington state direct sale restrictions.
Businesses

Amazon Announces Unlimited Cloud Storage Plans 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-clouds dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that Amazon is now offering unlimited cloud storage plans to compete with Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. "Last year, Amazon gave a boost to its Prime members when it launched a free, unlimited photo storage for them on Cloud Drive. Today, the company is expanding that service as a paid offering to cover other kinds of content, and to users outside of its loyalty program. Unlimited Cloud Storage will let users get either unlimited photo storage or "unlimited everything" — covering all kinds of media from videos and music through to PDF documents — respectively for $11.99 or $59.99 per year."
Businesses

Millennial Tech Workers Losing Ground In US 398

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-work-for-you dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Millennial tech workers are entering the U.S. workforce at a comparable disadvantage to other tech workers throughout the industrialized world, according to study earlier this year from Educational Testing Services (PDF). How do U.S. millennials compare to their international peers, at least according to ETS? Those in the 90th percentile (i.e., the top-scoring) actually scored lower than top-scoring millennials in 15 of the 22 studied countries; low-scoring U.S. millennials ranked last (along with Italy and England/Northern Ireland). While some experts have blamed the nation's education system for the ultimate lack of STEM jobs, other studies have suggested that the problem isn't in the classroom; a 2014 report from the U.S. Census Bureau suggested that many of the people who earned STEM degrees didn't actually go into careers requiring them. In any case, the U.S. is clearly wrestling with an issue; how can it introduce more (qualified) STEM people into the market?
Businesses

Win Or Lose, Discrimination Suit Is Having an Effect On Silicon Valley 344

Posted by samzenpus
from the to-pay-or-not-to-pay-that-is-the-question dept.
SpzToid sends word that the Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers discrimination case wrapped up yesterday. No matter what the outcome turns out to be, it has already affected how business is being done in Silicon Valley. "'Even before there's a verdict in this case, and regardless of what the verdict is, people in Silicon Valley are now talking,' said Kelly Dermody, managing partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, who chairs the San Francisco law firm's employment practice group. 'People are second-guessing and questioning whether there are exclusionary practices [and] everyday subtle acts of exclusion that collectively limit women's ability to succeed or even to compete for the best opportunities. And that's an incredibly positive impact.' Women in tech have long complained about an uneven playing field — lower pay for equal work, being passed over for promotions and a hostile 'brogrammer' culture — and have waited for a catalyst to finally overhaul the status quo. This trial — pitting a disgruntled, multimillionaire former junior partner against a powerful Menlo Park, Calif., venture capital firm — was far from the open-and-shut case that many women had hoped for. More gender discrimination suits against big tech firms are expected to follow; some already have, including lawsuits against Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc."
Businesses

PayPal To Pay $7.7 Million For Sanctions Violations 68

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
jfruh writes PayPal may not be a bank, but it's still legally required to follow regulations on transferring money — but the company has admitted to a number of violations, including allowing transfers to an individual specifically sanctioned by the U.S. State Department for helping proliferate nuclear weapons. From Ars: "On Wednesday afternoon, PayPal reached a settlement with the US Treasury Department, agreeing that it would pay $7.7 million for allegedly processing payments to people in countries under sanction as well as to a man the US has listed as involved in the nuclear weapons black market. The company neither confirmed nor denied the allegations, but it voluntarily handed over its transaction data to the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)."
Transportation

German Auto Firms Face Roadblock In Testing Driverless Car Software 176

Posted by timothy
from the and-what-if-that-man-was-your-mother?! dept.
An anonymous reader writes As nations compete to build the first operational autonomous car, German auto-manufacturers fear that current domestic laws limit their efforts to test the appropriate software for self-driving vehicles on public roads. German carmakers are concerned that these roadblocks are allowing U.S. competitors, such as Google, to race ahead in their development of software designed to react effectively when placed in real-life traffic scenarios. Car software developers are particularly struggling to deal with the ethical challenges often raised on the road. For example when faced with the decision to crash into a pedestrian or another vehicle carrying a family, it would be a challenge for a self-driving car to follow the same moral reasoning a human would in the situation. 'Technologically we can do fully automated self-driving, but the ethical framework is missing,' said Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn.
Businesses

Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear 637

Posted by timothy
from the wish-he-had-a-reality-show dept.
An anonymous reader writes According to BBC News, Jeremy Clarkson, longstanding main host for the automobile television show Top Gear, will not have his contract renewed. This decision came about two weeks after he was suspended due to an altercation with a Top Gear producer involving catering during filming for the show. Admittedly not the nerdiest news of the day, but it can be said that his thirteen-year run on the new format of Top Gear has interested many Slashdot users who love their cars and the entertainment that the show has brought to them.
The Media

NY Times: "All the News That Mark Zuckerberg Sees Fit To Print"? 79

Posted by timothy
from the who-do-you-trust-and-why dept.
theodp writes Two years ago, Politico caught Mark Zuckerberg's soon-to-be launched FWD.us PAC boasting how its wealthy tech exec backers would use their companies to 'control the avenues of distribution' for a political message in support of their efforts. Now, the NY Times is reporting that Facebook has been quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content inside Facebook, citing a source who said the Times and Facebook are moving closer to a firm deal. Facebook declined to comment on specific discussions with publishers, but noted it had provided features to help publishers get better traction on Facebook, including tools unveiled in December that let them target their articles to specific groups of Facebook users. The new plan, notes the Times, is championed by Chris Cox, the top lieutenant to Facebook CEO Zuckerberg and a "major supporter" of FWD.us. Exploring Facebook's wooing of the media giants, the Christian Science Monitor asks if social media will control the future of news, citing concerns expressed by Fusion's Felix Salmon, who warns that as news sites sacrifice their brands to reach a wider audience, their incentives for accuracy and editorial judgment will disappear.
The Almighty Buck

Russian Official Proposes Road That Could Connect London To NYC 226

Posted by samzenpus
from the use-the-bathroom-before-you-go dept.
An anonymous reader writes There's great news coming out of Russia for epic road trip lovers. Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin has proposed building a highway that would reach from London to Alaska via Russia, a 13,000-mile stretch of road. "This is an inter-state, inter-civilization, project," the Siberian Times quoted Yakunin. "The project should be turned into a world 'future zone,' and it must be based on leading, not catching, technologies."
United Kingdom

UK Setting Itself Up To Be More Friendly To Bitcoin Startups 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the anything-goes dept.
An anonymous reader writes While various states in the U.S. (most notably: New York) are trying to regulate every last aspect of Bitcoin, making it very difficult to innovate there, the UK appears to be going in the opposite direction. It's been setting up much more open regulations that would allow for greater freedom for Bitcoin startups to innovate without first having to ask for permission. In fact, the British government decided that what is most appropriate is to work with the digital currency community to develop a set of best practices for consumer protection and create a voluntary, opt-in regime. Hopefully other governments take note.
EU

European Commission Proposes "Digital Single Market" and End To Geoblocking 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-big-happy-family dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new initiative from the European Commission proposes a reformed "single digital market", addressing a number of issues that it sees as obstructions to EU growth, including geoblocking — where services such as BBC's iPlayer are only available to IP addresses within the host country — and the high cost of parcel delivery and administration of disparate VAT rates across the member states. The ramifications of many of the proposals within the Digital Single Market project extend to non-EU corporations which have built their business model on the current isolationism of member state markets.