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Spam

Whoah, Small Spender! Steam Sets Limits For Users Who Spend Less Than $5 97

Posted by timothy
from the are-you-committed-or-just-involved dept.
As GameSpot reports, Valve has implemented a policy that reduces the privileges of Steam users unless those users have spent $5 through the service. Along the same lines as suggestions to limit spam by imposing a small fee on emails, the move is intended to reduce resource abuse as a business model. From the article: "Malicious users often operate in the community on accounts which have not spent any money, reducing the individual risk of performing the actions they do," Valve said. "One of the best pieces of information we can compare between regular users and malicious users are their spending habits as typically the accounts being used have no investment in their longevity. Due to this being a common scenario we have decided to restrict certain community features until an account has met or exceeded $5.00 USD in Steam." Restricted actions include sending invites, opening group chats, and taking part in the Steam marketplace.
Transportation

How Uber Surge Pricing Really Works 56

Posted by timothy
from the has-a-catchy-name-regardless dept.
minstrelmike writes with this analysis from Nicholas Diakopoulos of the Washington Post: At the core of Uber's wild success and market valuation of over $41 billion is its data and algorithmically fueled approach to matching supply and demand for cars. It's classic economics, supposedly....but is Uber's surge pricing algorithm really doing what they claim? Do surge prices really get more cars on the road?

My analysis suggests that rather than motivating a fresh supply of drivers, surge pricing instead re-distributes drivers already on the road.
Adds minstrelmike: The writer goes on to analyze 4 weeks of pricing info from 5 areas in D.C. and plotted prices versus wait times. "Price surging can work in any of three ways: by reducing demand for cars (less people want a car for a higher price), by creating new supply (providing an incentive for new drivers to hit the roads), or by shifting supply (drivers) to areas of higher demand."

It moves current drivers from one side of town to the other. It does not put new drivers on the road. It can't because the prices change every 3-5 minutes."
Power

Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power 257

Posted by timothy
from the one-hand-giveth dept.
HughPickens.com writes Diane Cardwell reports in the NYT that many utilities are trying desperately to stem the rise of solar power, either by reducing incentives, adding steep fees or effectively pushing home solar companies out of the market. The economic threat has electric companies on edge. Over all, demand for electricity is softening while home solar is rapidly spreading across the country. There are now about 600,000 installed systems, and the number is expected to reach 3.3 million by 2020, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. In Hawaii, the current battle began in 2013, when Hawaiian Electric started barring installations of residential solar systems in certain areas. It was an abrupt move — a panicked one, critics say — made after the utility became alarmed by the technical and financial challenges of all those homes suddenly making their own electricity. "Hawaii is a postcard from the future," says Adam Browning, executive director of Vote Solar, a policy and advocacy group based in California.

But utilities say that solar-generated electricity flowing out of houses and into a power grid designed to carry it in the other direction has caused unanticipated voltage fluctuations that can overload circuits, burn lines and lead to brownouts or blackouts. "At every different moment, we have to make sure that the amount of power we generate is equal to the amount of energy being used, and if we don't keep that balance things go unstable," says Colton Ching, vice president for energy delivery at Hawaiian Electric, pointing to the illuminated graphs and diagrams tracking energy production from wind and solar farms, as well as coal-fueled generators in the utility's main control room. But the rooftop systems are "essentially invisible to us," says Ching, "because they sit behind a customer's meter and we don't have a means to directly measure them." The utility wants to cut roughly in half the amount it pays customers for solar electricity they send back to the grid. "Hawaii's case is not isolated," says Massoud Amin. "When we push year-on-year 30 to 40 percent growth in this market, with the number of installations doubling, quickly — every two years or so — there's going to be problems."
Businesses

DOJ Could Nix Comcast-Time Warner Merger 73

Posted by timothy
from the they-have-a-monopoly-on-that dept.
jriding (1076733) writes The Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger has been in the works for so long, it's starting to feel like the impending monopolistic telecom Frankenbaby was inevitable. But the Justice Department may kibosh the deal for violating antitrust laws, according to a report from Bloomberg.
Space

Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine 67

Posted by timothy
from the partially-electric-is-still-cool dept.
New submitter Adrian Harvey writes The New Zealand based commercial space company Rocket Lab has unveiled their new rocket engine which the media is describing as battery-powered. It still uses rocket fuel, of course, but has an entirely new propulsion cycle which uses electric motors to drive its turbopumps.

To add to the interest over the design, it uses 3D printing for all its primary components. First launch is expected this year, with commercial operations commencing in 2016.
Businesses

Twitter Moves Non-US Accounts To Ireland, and Away From the NSA 133

Posted by timothy
from the be-right-over-here-guys dept.
Mark Wilson writes Twitter has updated its privacy policy, creating a two-lane service that treats U.S. and non-U.S. users differently. If you live in the U.S., your account is controlled by San Francisco-based Twitter Inc, but if you're elsewhere in the world (anywhere else) it's handled by Twitter International Company in Dublin, Ireland. The changes also affect Periscope. What's the significance of this? Twitter Inc is governed by U.S. law; it is obliged to comply with NSA-driven court requests for data. Data stored in Ireland is not subject to the same obligation. Twitter is not alone in using Dublin as a base for non-U.S. operations; Facebook is another company that has adopted the same tactic. The move could also have implications for how advertising is handled in the future.
AMD

AMD Withdraws From High-Density Server Business 125

Posted by samzenpus
from the stop-the-bleeding dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that AMD has pulled out of the market for high-density servers. "AMD has pulled out of the market for high-density servers, reversing a strategy it embarked on three years ago with its acquisition of SeaMicro. AMD delivered the news Thursday as it announced financial results for the quarter. Its revenue slumped 26 percent from this time last year to $1.03 billion, and its net loss increased to $180 million, the company said. AMD paid $334 million to buy SeaMicro, which developed a new type of high-density server aimed at large-scale cloud and Internet service providers."
Microsoft

Microsoft's Role As Accuser In the Antitrust Suit Against Google 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-the-other-side dept.
HughPickens.com writes Danny Hakim reports at the NYT that as European antitrust regulators formally accuse Google of abusing its dominance, Microsoft is relishing playing a behind-the-scenes role of scold instead of victim. Microsoft has founded or funded a cottage industry of splinter groups to go after Google. The most prominent, the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, or Icomp, has waged a relentless public relations campaign promoting grievances against Google. It conducted a study that suggested changes made by Google to appease regulators were largely window dressing. "Microsoft is doing its best to create problems for Google," says Manfred Weber, the chairman of the European People's Party, the center-right party that is the largest voting bloc in the European Parliament. "It's interesting. Ten years ago Microsoft was a big and strong company. Now they are the underdog."

According to Hakim, Microsoft and Google are the Cain and Abel of American technology, locked in the kind of struggle that often takes place when a new giant threatens an older one. Microsoft was frustrated after American regulators at the Federal Trade Commission didn't act on a similar antitrust investigation against Google in 2013, calling it a "missed opportunity." It has taken the fight to the state level, along with a number of other opponents of Google. Microsoft alleges that Google's anti-competitive practices include stopping Bing from indexing content on Google-owned YouTube; blocking Microsoft Windows smartphones from "operating properly" with YouTube; blocking access to content owned by book publishers; and limiting the flow of ad campaign information back to advertisers, making it more expensive to run ads with rivals. "Over the past year, a growing number of advertisers, publishers, and consumers have expressed to us their concerns about the search market in Europe," says Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel. "They've urged us to share our knowledge of the search market with competition officials."
Australia

2K, Australia's Last AAA Studio, Closes Its Doors 166

Posted by timothy
from the even-with-all-that-regulation dept.
beaverdownunder writes 2K Australia, the Canberra studio that most recently developed Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, is closing its doors. The entire studio is closing, and all staff members will lose their jobs. "All hands are gone," said a source for Kotaku Australia. 2K Canberra was the last major AAA-style studio operating out of Australia. The costs of operating in Australia are apparently to blame for the decision. This raises questions as to the viability of developing major video games in Australia.
Stats

IT Worker's Lawsuit Accuses Tata of Discrimination 292

Posted by timothy
from the not-all-discrimination-is-invidious dept.
dcblogs writes An IT worker is accusing Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) of discriminating against American workers and favoring "South Asians" in hiring and promotion. It's backing up its complaint, in part, with numbers. The lawsuit, filed this week in federal court in San Francisco, claims that 95% of the 14,000 people Tata employs in the U.S. are South Asian or mostly Indian. It says this practice has created a "grossly disproportionate workforce." India-based Tata achieves its "discriminatory goals" in at least three ways, the lawsuit alleges. First, the company hires large numbers of H-1B workers. Over from 2011 to 2013, Tata sponsored nearly 21,000 new H-1B visas, all primarily Indian workers, according to the lawsuit's count. Second, when Tata hires locally, "such persons are still disproportionately South Asian," and, third, for the "relatively few non-South Asians workers that Tata hires," it disfavors them in placement, promotion and termination decisions.
Businesses

Seattle CEO Cuts $1 Million Salary To $70K, Raises Employee Salaries 471

Posted by timothy
from the motivations-vary dept.
First time accepted submitter fluffernutter writes Dan Price started his company, Gravity Payments, out of university when he was 19. Now he is cutting his $1 million salary to $70,000 and promising to raise all his employees' salaries. Dan is quoted as saying he made the move because "I think this is just what everyone deserves."Good business practice? Silly boosterism? Enlightened self-interest?
EU

Google Responds To EU Antitrust Claims In Android Blog Post 239

Posted by samzenpus
from the wait-a-minute dept.
An anonymous reader writes Earlier today the European Union released a Statement of Objection against Google, asserting that the search giant's dominance violating antitrust rules and Android products hindering equal opportunities for market access among its rivals. Google has now released an official blog post in response to the Commission's proposed investigation. Regarding its Android devices, Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of Engineering at Android writes: "The European Commission has asked questions about our partner agreements. It's important to remember that these are voluntary—again, you can use Android without Google—but provide real benefits to Android users, developers and the broader ecosystem." He continues: "We are thankful for Android's success and we understand that with success comes scrutiny. But it's not just Google that has benefited from Android's success. The Android model has let manufacturers compete on their unique innovations [...] We look forward to discussing these issues in more detail with the European Commission over the months ahead."
Businesses

Chinese Ninebot Buys US Rival Segway 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the lean-into-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes Xiaomi-backed startup Ninebot, a Chinese maker of electric-powered personal transportation products, has acquired U.S. rival Segway – the two-wheeler upright scooter which has become a running joke, synonymous with various comedic appearances (such as in U.S. sitcom Arrested Development and the 2009 comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop), and the death of its owner at the hands of an unfortunate Segway-induced cliff fall. However Gao Lufeng, chief executive, still recognizes the potential of the Segway and has bought the U.S. company for an undisclosed amount. Lufeng confirmed that Ninebot had also secured $80mn in funding from Xiaomi and venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.
Businesses

Nokia To Buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 Billion 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
totalcaos sends news that Nokia has announced plans to buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion worth of stock. Both companies have approved the transaction, though now they must wait for regulatory approval. They said they expect the deal to close in the first half of 2016. The combined company is expected to become the world’s second-largest telecom equipment manufacturer behind Ericsson of Sweden, with global revenues totaling $27 billion and operations spread across Asia, Europe and North America. The companies are betting that, by joining forces, they can better compete against Chinese and European rivals bidding to provide telecom hardware and software to the world’s largest carriers, including AT&T and Verizon in the United States, Vodafone and Orange in Europe, and SoftBank in Japan. ... Analysts say that Nokia has progressively focused on its equipment unit, which now represents roughly 85 percent of the company’s annual revenue. On Wednesday, Nokia confirmed that it had put its digital maps business — a competitor for Google Maps — up for sale.
Google

EU To Hit Google With Antitrust Charges 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-be-too-good-at-what-you-do dept.
Bruce66423 sends news that the European Union has decided to hit Google with antitrust charges that could lead to fines of over $6 billion. The EU has been investigating Google for five years now. "The European Commission has highlighted four main areas of concern in its investigation: potential bias in Google’s search results, scraping content from rival websites, agreements with advertisers that may exclude rival search-advertising services and contracts that limit marketers from using other platforms." They're also keeping an eye on Android-related business practices.
Businesses

How Mission Creep Killed a Gaming Studio 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-actually-about-duke-nukem-forever dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Kotaku, there's an interesting story about the reported demise of Darkside Game Studios, a game-development firm that thought it finally had a shot at the big time only to collapse once its project requirements spun out of control. Darkside got a chance to show off its own stuff with a proposed remake of Phantom Dust, an action-strategy game that became something of a cult favorite. Microsoft, which offered Darkside the budget to make the game, had a very specific list of requirements for the actual gameplay. The problem, as Kotaku describes, is those requirements shifted after the project was well underway. Darkside needed more developers, artists, and other skilled tech pros to finish the game with its expanded requirements, but (anonymous sources claimed) Microsoft refused to offer up more money to actually hire the necessary people. As a result, the game's development imploded, reportedly followed by the studio. What's the lesson in all this? It's one of the oldest in the book: Escalating and unanticipated requirements, especially without added budget to meet those requirements, can have devastating effects on both a project and the larger software company.
Businesses

IT Consultant Talks About 'Negotiating for Nerds' (Video) 61

Posted by Roblimo
from the paying-it-forward dept.
Matt Heusser did a Slashdot video interview back in 2013 titled How to Become an IT Expert Companies Seek Out and Pay Well. Despite noise from a few yammerheads about Matt getting 'free advertising' on Slashdot, which is unlikely since the vast majority of Slashdot users are more likely to compete with him than to hire him, most of the people who saw that video (or read the transcript) knew he was giving helpful advice to peers who might want to get out of the cubicle and work for themselves.

Today, Matt is with us again. This video is about 'Negotiating for Nerds.' Matt talks about negotiating a pay raise or consulting fee increase, starting with learning who has the actual power to negotiate with you. This is essential knowledge if you are employed (or self-employed) in IT and want to make sure you're getting all you are worth.
Open Source

The Makerspace Is the Next Open Source Frontier 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the pull-requests-to-clean-up-corner-cases dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Jono Bacon explains that in the same way open source spawned millions of careers and thousands of companies, the same openness has massive potential when applied to products. It could potentially jumpstart a revolution in how we conceptualize, build, and share things and how we experiment and innovate to push the boundaries of science and technology. He outlines some steps for adapting open source principles to physical creations: "...we will need to create a premise of a blueprint bundle. In much the same way I can download a branch from Git or a tarball with some code, complete with build system, we will want to be able to download a single branch or tarball with the full software, hardware designs, and more for how to create an open product. ... we will need to figure out how we collaborate and improve different pieces of these projects. For example, if someone refines a 3D printed piece of a drone, how do they fork the blueprints, submit their changes, have them reviewed, and get them merged into the project? Another question could relate to automated testing: when building physical products we can't always afford to build and test new physical hardware for it to then crash and burn, so how can we have unit tests for hardware or test in a virtual setting?"
Businesses

Kludgey Electronic Health Records Are Becoming Fodder For Malpractice Suits 183

Posted by timothy
from the so-it-says-here-you-were-born-in-1709 dept.
Lucas123 writes The inherent issues that come with highly complex and kludgey electronic medical records — and for the healthcare professionals required to use them — hasn't been lost on lawyers, who see the potential for millions of dollars in judgments for plaintiffs suing for medical negligence or malpractice. Work flows that require a dozen or more mouse clicks to input even basic patient information has prompted healthcare workers to seek short cuts, such as cutting and pasting from previous visits, a practice that can also include the duplication of old vital sign data, or other critical information, such as a patient's age. While the malpractice suits have to date focused on care providers, they'll soon target EMR vendors, according to Keith Klein, a medical doctor and professor of medicine at UCLA. Klein has been called as an expert witness for more than 350 state or federal medical malpractice cases and he's seen a marked rise in plaintiff attorney's using EMRs as evidence that healthcare workers fell short of their responsibility for proper care. In one such case, a judge awarded more than $7.5 million when a patient suffered permanent kidney damage, and even though physicians hadn't neglected the patient, the complexity of the EMR was responsible for them missing uric kidney stone. The EMR was ore than 3,000 pages in length and included massive amounts of duplicated information, something that's not uncommon.
Music

Legislation Would Force Radio Stations To Pay Royalties 217

Posted by Soulskill
from the scrounging-for-pennies dept.
Major Blud writes: Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the "Fair Play Fair Pay Act" today that would end regulations that allow terrestrial radio stations to avoid paying royalties to artists and labels. Currently, AM/FM radio stations aren't required to pay royalties to publishers and songwriters. The proposed measure requires stations that earn less than $1 million a year in revenue to pay $500 annually. For nonprofit public, college and other non-commercial broadcasters, the fee would be $100 per year. Religious and talk stations would be exempt from any payments. Larger radio companies like iHeartMedia (858 stations in the U.S.) would have to pay more.

"The current system is antiquated and broken. It pits technologies against each other, and allows certain services to get away with paying little or nothing to artists. For decades, AM/FM radio has used whatever music it wants without paying a cent to the musicians, vocalists, and labels that created it. Satellite radio has paid below market royalties for the music it uses, growing into a multibillion dollar business on the back of an illogical 'grandfathered' royalty standard that is now almost two decades old," said Congressman Nadler.