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  • Ello Formally Promises To Remain Ad-Free, Raises $5.5M

    Social media site Ello is presented as the anti-Facebook, promising an ad-free social network, and that they won't sell private data. Today, they've also announced that Ello has become a Public Benefit Corporation, and that the site's anti-advertising promise has been enshrined in a corporate charter. The BBC reports on the restrictions that Ello has therefore entered into, which mean the site cannot, for monetary gain,

    1. Sell user-specific data to a third party
    2. Enter into an agreement to display paid advertising on behalf of a third party; and
    3. In the event of an acquisition or asset transfer, the Company shall require any acquiring entity to adopt these requirements with respect to the operation of Ello or its assets.

    While that might turn off some potential revenue flows (the company says it will make money by selling optional features), as the linked article points out, it hasn't turned off investors; Ello has now raised $5.5 million from investors.

    165 comments | 2 days ago

  • Hungary To Tax Internet Traffic

    An anonymous reader writes: The Hungarian government has announced a new tax on internet traffic: 150 HUF ($0.62 USD) per gigabyte. In Hungary, a monthly internet subscription costs around 4,000-10,000 HUF ($17-$41), so it could really put a constraint on different service providers, especially for streaming media. This kind of tax could set back the country's technological development by some 20 years — to the pre-internet age. As a side note, the Hungarian government's budget is running at a serious deficit. The internet tax is officially expected to bring in about 20 billion HUF in income, though a quick look at the BIX (Budapest Internet Exchange) and a bit of math suggests a better estimate of the income would probably be an order of magnitude higher.

    324 comments | 3 days ago

  • 'Microsoft Lumia' Will Replace the Nokia Brand

    jones_supa writes The last emblems of Nokia are being removed from Microsoft products. "Microsoft Lumia" is the new brand name that takes their place. The name change follows a slow transition from Nokia.com over to Microsoft's new mobile site, and Nokia France will be the first of many countries that adopt "Microsoft Lumia" for its Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. Microsoft has confirmed to The Verge that other countries will follow the rebranding steps in the coming weeks. Nokia itself continues as a reborn company focusing on mapping and network infrastructure services.

    150 comments | 4 days ago

  • Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK

    An anonymous reader writes with this news from the UK, as reported by Ars Technica: A 39-year-old UK man has been convicted of possessing illegal cartoon drawings of young girls exposing themselves in school uniforms and engaging in sex acts. The case is believed to be the UK's first prosecution of illegal manga and anime images. Local media said that Robul Hoque was sentenced last week to nine months' imprisonment, though the sentence is suspended so long as the defendant does not break the law again. Police seized Hoque's computer in 2012 and said they found nearly 400 such images on it, none of which depicted real people but were illegal nonetheless because of their similarity to child pornography. Hoque was initially charged with 20 counts of illegal possession but eventually pled guilty to just 10 counts.

    472 comments | 5 days ago

  • In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

    An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Guardian about a proposed change in UK law that would greatly increase the penalties for online incivility: Internet trolls who spread "venom" on social media could be jailed for up to two years, the justice secretary Chris Grayling has said as he announced plans to quadruple the maximum prison sentence. Grayling, who spoke of a "baying cybermob", said the changes will allow magistrates to pass on the most serious cases to crown courts. The changes, which will be introduced as amendments to the criminal justice and courts bill, will mean the maximum custodial sentence of six months will be increased to 24 months. Grayling told the Mail on Sunday: "These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life. No one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the six-month sentence.

    488 comments | about a week ago

  • Brain Patterns Give Clues To Why Some People Just Keep Gambling

    Research from several UK universities, as reported by Time, indicates that the brain activity of compulsive gamblers shows a marked difference in response to pleasure-triggering behavior, which may help explain why they have trouble stopping: [The participants] took an amphetamine capsule, which unleashes endorphins with similar effects to the rush you get from exercise or alcohol, the study says. An additional PET scan revealed that pathological gamblers responded differently to the drug. They released fewer endorphins than those who didn't gamble, and they also reported lower levels of euphoria on a questionnaire afterward. This might help explain the addictive part of pathological gambling: to get pleasure from the act, problem gamblers might need more of it or to work harder for it.

    59 comments | about a week ago

  • Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday

    HughPickens.com writes Erik Karjaluoto writes that he recently installed OS X Yosemite and his initial reaction was "This got hit by the ugly stick." But Karjaluoto says that Apple's decision to make a wholesale shift from Lucida to Helvetica defies his expectations and wondered why Apple would make a change that impedes legibility, requires more screen space, and makes the GUI appear fuzzy? The Answer: Tomorrow.

    Microsoft's approach with Windows, and backward compatibility in general, is commendable. "Users can install new versions of this OS on old machines, sometimes built on a mishmash of components, and still have it work well. This is a remarkable feat of engineering. It also comes with limitations — as it forces Microsoft to operate in the past." But Apple doesn't share this focus on interoperability or legacy. "They restrict hardware options, so they can build around a smaller number of specs. Old hardware is often left behind (turn on a first-generation iPad, and witness the sluggishness). Meanwhile, dying conventions are proactively euthanized," says Karjaluoto. "When Macs no longer shipped with floppy drives, many felt baffled. This same experience occurred when a disk (CD/DVD) reader no longer came standard." In spite of the grumblings of many, Karjaluoto doesn't recall many such changes that we didn't later look upon as the right choice.

    369 comments | about a week ago

  • Tesla Teardown Reveals Driver-facing Electronics Built By iPhone 6 Suppliers

    Lucas123 writes: The Tesla Model S gets attention because it's an EV that can go from from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.2 seconds and can travel 265 miles on a single charge. But, a teardown of the vehicle by IHS Technology has also revealed that Elon Musk avoided third-party design and build routes used traditionally by auto makers and spared no expense on the instrument cluster and infotainment (head unit) system, which is powered by two 1.4Ghz, quad-core NVIDIA Tegra processors. IHS called the Tesla's head unit the most sophisticated it's ever seen, with 1,000 more components than any it has previously analyzed. A bill of materials for the virtual instrument cluster and the premium media control unit is also roughly twice the cost of the highest-end infotainment unit examined by IHS.

    158 comments | about a week ago

  • The Guardian Reveals That Whisper App Tracks "Anonymous" Users

    New submitter qqod writes this story at The Guardian that raises privacy concerns over the Whisper app. "The company behind Whisper, the social media app that promises users anonymity and claims to be the “the safest place on the internet”, is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed. The practice of monitoring the whereabouts of Whisper users – including those who have expressly opted out of geolocation services – will alarm users, who are encouraged to disclose intimate details about their private and professional lives. Whisper is also sharing information with the US Department of Defense gleaned from smartphones it knows are used from military bases, and developing a version of its app to conform with Chinese censorship laws."

    180 comments | about a week ago

  • Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

    mdsolar tips news that a second healthcare worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has tested positive for the Ebola virus. Like the nurse who tested positive a few days ago, this worker was involved in providing care to Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who seems to have brought the virus into the country. The CDC is working to identify further exposures to the local community, though the Times says a second infection among the 70+ medical professionals who were around Duncan is not unexpected. The largest U.S. nurses union says a lack of proper protective gear and constantly changing protocols are to blame for exposures. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says infection rates in West Africa are such that within a few months, they can expect 10,000 new Ebola cases a week. They also say the death rate for the current outbreak has risen to 70 percent.

    463 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Battery Breakthrough: Researchers Claim 70% Charge In 2 Minutes, 20-Year Life

    New submitter chaosdivine69 writes: According to Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU), they have developed ultra-fast charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 per cent in only two minutes and have a 20-year lifespan (10,000 charges). The impact of this is potentially a game changer for a lot of industries reliant on lithium ion batteries. In the car industry, for example, consumers would save on costs for battery replacement and manufacturers would save on material construction (the researchers are using a nanotube structure of Titanium dioxide, which is an abundant, cheap, and safe material found in soil). Titanium dioxide is commonly used as a food additive or in sunscreen lotions to absorb harmful ultraviolet rays. It is believed that charging an electric car can be done in as little as 5 minutes, making it comparable to filling up a tank of gasoline.

    395 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Netflix Video Speed On FiOS Doubles After Netflix-Verizon Deal

    An anonymous reader writes: Verizon now joins AT&T and Time Warner Cable in the list of ISPs on which Netflix streaming has significantly improved after Netflix paid for access to their networks. Ars Technica notes that "[t]he interconnection deals give Netflix a direct connection to the edge of the Internet providers' networks, bypassing congested links, but without receiving priority treatment after entering the networks." The success of these deals, however, gives the ISPs no incentive whatsoever to fix their congested links. Toll roads have, in essence, been created for the internet.

    204 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Linux Foundation Launches Open Source Dronecode Project

    garymortimer writes with news about a project that hopes to create an open source code platform for drones. "The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development, today announced the founding of the Dronecode Project. The Project will bring together existing open source drone projects and assets under a nonprofit structure governed by The Linux Foundation. The result will be a common, shared open source platform for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Founding members include 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, DroneDeploy, Intel, jDrones, Laser Navigation, Qualcomm, SkyWard, Squadrone System, Walkera and Yuneec. Dronecode includes the APM UAV software platform and associated code, which until now has been hosted by 3D Robotics, a world leader in advanced UAV autopilot and autonomous vehicle control. The company was co-founded by Chris Anderson, formerly editor-in-chief of Wired"

    24 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Despite Push From Tech Giants, AP CS Exam Counts Don't Budge Much In Most States

    theodp (442580) writes "Well, the College Board has posted the 2014 AP Computer Science Test scores. So, before the press rushes out another set of Not-One-Girl-In-Wyoming-Took-an-AP-CS-Exam stories, let's point out that no Wyoming students of either gender took an AP CS exam again in 2014 (.xlsx). At the overall level, the final numbers have changed somewhat (back-of-the-Excel-envelope calculations, no warranty expressed or implied!), but tell pretty much the same story as the preliminary figures — the number of overall AP CS test takers increased, while pass rates decreased despite efforts to cherry pick students with a high likelihood of success. What is kind of surprising is how little the test numbers budged for most states — only 8 states managed to add more than 100 girls to the AP CS test taker rolls — despite the PR push by the tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, and, Facebook. Also worth noting are some big percentage decreases at the top end of the score segments (5 and 4), and still-way-too-wide gaps that exist between the score distributions of the College Board's various ethnic segments (more back of the envelope calcs). If there's a Data Scientist in the house, AP CS exam figures grabbed from the College Board's Excel 2013 and 2014 worksheets can be found here (Google Sheets) together with the (unwalkedthrough) VBA code that was used to collect it. Post your insight (and code/data fixes) in the comments!"

    144 comments | about two weeks ago

  • China Bans "Human Flesh Searching"

    hackingbear writes The Supreme People's Court, China's top court, has outlined the liabilities of network service providers in a document on the handling of online personal rights violation cases. "Rights violators usually hide in the dark online. They post harmful information out of the blue, and victims just can't be certain whom they should accuse when they want to bring the case to court," said Yao Hui, a senior SPC judge specializing in civil cases. Those re-posting content that violates others' rights and interests will also answer for their actions, and their liability will be determined based on the consequences of their posts, the online influence of re-posters, and whether they make untruthful changes to content that mislead. This essentially tries to ban the so-called human flesh searching. Though this does not stop others from using the chance to highlight the country's censorship problems even though the rulings seem to focus on personal privacy protection.

    109 comments | about two weeks ago

  • NSA To Scientists: We Won't Tell You What We've Told You; That's Classified

    MojoKid writes One of the downsides to the news cycle is that no matter how big or hot a story is, something else inevitably comes along. The advent of ISIS and Ebola, combined with the passing of time, have pushed national security concerns out of the limelight — until, that is, someone at the NSA helps out by reminding us that yes, the agency still exists and yes, it still has some insane policies and restrictions. Earlier this year, the Federation of American Scientists filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the NSA. The group was seeking information it thought would be relatively low-key — what authorized information had been leaked to the media over the past 12 months? The NSA's response reads as follows: "The document responsive to your request has been reviewed by this Agency as required by the FOIA and has been found to be currently and properly classified in accordance with Executive Order 13526. The document is classified because its disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security." The NSA is insisting that it has the right to keep its lawful compliance and public disclosures secret not because the NSA is made of evil people but because the NSA has a knee-jerk preference and demand for secrecy. In a spy organization, that's understandable and admirable but it's precisely the opposite of what's needed to rebuild American's faith in the institution and its judgment.

    106 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Killer Whales Caught On Tape Speaking Dolphin

    sciencehabit writes Two years ago, scientists showed that dolphins imitate the sounds of whales. Now, it seems, whales have returned the favor. Researchers analyzed the vocal repertoires of 10 captive orcas, three of which lived with bottlenose dolphins and the rest with their own kind. Of the 1551 vocalizations these seven latter orcas made, more than 95% were the typical pulsed calls of killer whales. In contrast, the three orcas that had only dolphins as pals busily whistled and emitted dolphinlike click trains and terminal buzzes, the scientists report in the October issue of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. The findings make orcas one of the few species of animals that, like humans, is capable of vocal learning (video)—a talent considered a key underpinning of language."

    152 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Fixing Steam's User Rating Charts

    lars_doucet writes: Steam's new search page lets you sort by "user rating," but the algorithm they're using is broken. For instance, a DLC pack with a single positive review appears above a major game with a 74% score and 15,000+ ratings.

    The current "user rating" ranking system seems to divide everything into big semantic buckets ("Overwhelmingly Positive", "Positive", "Mixed", etc.), stack those in order, then sort each bucket's contents by the total number of reviews per game. Given that Steam reviews skew massively positive, (about half are "very positive" or higher), this is virtually indistinguishable from a standard "most popular" chart.

    Luckily, there's a known solution to this problem — use statistical sampling to account for disparate numbers of user reviews, which gives "hidden gems" with statistically significant high positive ratings, but less popularity, a fighting chance against games that are already dominating the charts.

    93 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Is There an Ethical Way Facebook Can Experiment With Their Users?

    An anonymous reader writes: This summer, news broke that Facebook had conducted an experiment on some of their users, tweaking which posts showed up in their timeline to see if it affected the tone of their later posts. The fallout was extensive — Facebook took a lot of flack from users and the media for overreaching and violating trust. (Of course, few stopped to think about how Facebook decided what to show people in the first place, but that's beside the point.) Now, Wired is running a somewhat paranoid article saying Facebook can't help but experiment on its users. The writer says this summer's blowback will only show Facebook they need to be sneakier about it.

    At the same time, a study came out from Ohio State University saying some users rely on social media to alter their moods. For example, when a user has a bad day, he's likely to look up acquaintances who have it worse off, and feel a bit better that way. Now, going on social media is going to affect your mood in one way or another — shouldn't we try to understand that dynamic? Is there a way Facebook can run experiments like these ethically? (Or Twitter, or Google, or any similarly massive company, of course.)

    141 comments | about three weeks ago

  • The Era of Saturday Morning Cartoons Is Dead

    An anonymous reader writes Gizmodo published an article on Saturday pointing out that, with The CW having aired its last episodes of Vortexx cartoons last weekend, this is the first weekend in the United States with no Saturday morning cartoons playing on national broadcast stations. NBC stopped airing Saturday morning cartoons in 1992, CBS stopped shortly after, and ABC followed suit in 2004. Gizmodo failed to take into account the Public Broadcast Station (PBS), but during an age of instant online media access...and cable...the oversight is understandable because everyone has already moved on. TV is dead. Long live the Internet.

    320 comments | about three weeks ago

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