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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Transportation

Trouble In Branson-Land, As Would-Be Space Tourists Get Antsy Over Delays 47

Posted by timothy
from the that's-only-a-few-months dept.
schwit1 (797399) writes "Rumors are flying that some of the individuals who gave Virgin Galactic deposits for space tourism flights on SpaceShipTwo are demanding their money back. It appears that the most recent delay, revealed by Branson on David Letterman, is the cause." How much would you pay to go to space, if the ticket was only good starting 10 years from now? How about 20? How about, as Branson claims, if it was early next year?
Businesses

Is Alibaba Comparable To a US Company? 105

Posted by timothy
from the well-the-name-is-magical-to-start dept.
lpress writes Alibaba is this weeks hot news — they have had a lengthy PR campaign (preceded by a documentary film) followed by a record-setting stock offering. After a day of trading Alibaba's market capitalization was comparable to that of established tech giants. But, there are cultural and structural differences between Alibaba and U.S. companies. Alibaba is tightly woven into a complex fabric of personal, corporate and government organization relationships. The same can be said of information technology companies in Singapore. Is owning a share of, say, Apple, conceptually the same as owning a share of Alibaba?
Education

Is Google's Non-Tax Based Public School Funding Cause For Celebration? 85

Posted by timothy
from the more-the-merrier dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Google's "flash-funding" of teachers' projects via DonorsChoose continues to draw kudos from grateful mayors of the nation's largest cities. The latest comes from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (fresh from a Google-paid stay at the Google Zeitgeist resort), who joined Google officials at Taylor Allderdice HS, where Google announced it was 'flash funding' all Pittsburgh area teachers' crowd-funding campaigns on DonorsChoose.org. DonorsChoose reports that Google spent $64,657 to fund projects for 10,924 Pittsburgh kids. While the not-quite-$6-a-student is nice, it does pale by comparison to the $56,742 Google is ponying up to send one L.A. teacher's 34 students to London and Paris and the $35,858 it's spending to take another L.A. teacher's 52 kids to NYC, Gettysburg, and DC. So, is Google's non-tax based public school funding — which includes gender-based funding as well as "begfunding" — cause for celebration?"
China

Why a Chinese Company Is the Biggest IPO Ever In the US 188

Posted by timothy
from the visible-from-space dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has made headlines lately in US financial news. At the closing of its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on Friday, it had raised $21.8 billion on the New York Stock Exchange, larger even than Visa's ($17.9 billion), Facebook's ($16 billion), and General Motors ($15.8 billion) IPOs. Some critics do say that Alibaba's share price will plummet from its current value of $93.60 in the same way that Facebook's and Twitter's plummeted dramatically after initial offerings. Before we speculate, however, we should take note of what Alibaba is exactly. Beyond the likes of Amazon and eBay, Alibaba apparently links average consumers directly to manufacturers, which is handy for an economy ripe for change. Approximately half of Alibaba's shares "were sold to 25 investment firms", and "most of the shares went to US investors."
Social Networks

Netropolitan Is a Facebook For the Affluent, and It's Only $9000 To Join 177

Posted by samzenpus
from the paying-the-price dept.
MojoKid writes Facebook has become too crowded and too mundane. With around 1.3 billion Facebook users, it's understandable to be overwhelmed by everything and want to get away from it all. However, unlike Facebook which is looking to connect everyone to the internet, there is a new site called Netropolitan that focuses more on exclusivity and privacy. The site was founded by composer and former conductor of the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra James Touchi-Peters who wanted to provide a social media site for affluent and accomplished individuals. People wishing to join need only pay a mere $9,000 to join. Of that amount, $6,000 is the initiation fee and the remaining $3,000 is for the annual membership fee which users will continue to pay. So what does the initiation and annual fee get you? For starters, Netropolitan will offer an ad-free experience and will not promote any kind of paid promotions to its members. However, it will allow the creation of groups by businesses in which members can advertise to each other under certain guidelines.
United States

FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps 324

Posted by samzenpus
from the reasonable-speed dept.
An anonymous reader writes On Wednesday at a hearing in front of the US House Committee on Small Business, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stated that for ISPs to be eligible for government broadband subsidies, they would have to deliver speeds of at least 10 Mbps. Said Wheeler: "What we are saying is we can't make the mistake of spending the people's money, which is what Universal Service is, to continue to subsidize something that's subpar." He further indicated that he would remedy the situation by the end of 2014. The broadband subsidies are collected through bill surcharges paid for by phone customers.
NASA

NASA Inspector General Lobs Big Rocks At Agency's Asteroid Hunting Program 35

Posted by samzenpus
from the money-spent dept.
coondoggie writes Lack of money, management structure and staff are hampering NASA's ability to effectively identify and track comets, meteorites and asteroids that might threaten Earth. The space agency's Inspector General, Paul Martin, issued a scathing report this week that said while NASA's Near Earth Object program has done substantial work in identifying the sometimes massive rocks hurtling around the planet it is substantially behind in its goal of cataloging 90% of those 140 meters in diameter by 2020, among other issues.
Iphone

Apple Locks iPhone 6/6+ NFC To Apple Pay Only 325

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-our-way dept.
Ronin Developer writes From the Cnet article: "At last week's Apple event, the company announced Apple Pay — a new mobile payments service that utilizes NFC technology in conjunction with its Touch ID fingerprint scanner for secure payments that can be made from the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch. Apple also announced a number of retailers that would accept Apple Pay for mobile payments at launch. However, Cult of Mac reports that NFC will be locked to the Apple Pay platform, meaning the technology will not be available for other uses. An Apple spokesperson confirmed the lock down of the technology, saying developers would be restricted from utilizing its NFC chip functionality for at least a year. Apple declined to comment on whether NFC capability would remain off limits beyond that period." So, it would appear, for at least a year, that Apple doesn't want competing mobile payment options to be available on the newly released iPhone 6 and 6+. While it's understandable that they want to promote their payment scheme and achieve a critical mass for Apple Pay, it's a strategy that may very well backfire as other other mobile payment vendors gain strength on competing platforms.
Security

Tinba Trojan Targets Major US Banks 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader writes Tinba, the tiny (20 KB) banking malware with man-in-the-browser and network traffic sniffing capabilities, is back. After initially being made to target users of a small number of banks, that list has been amplified and now includes 26 financial institutions mostly in the US and Canada, but some in Australia and Europe as well. Tinba has been modified over the years, in an attempt to bypass new security protections set up by banks, and its source code has been leaked on underground forums a few months ago. In this new campaign, the Trojan gets delivered to users via the Rig exploit kit, which uses Flash and Silverlight exploits. The victims get saddled with the malware when they unknowingly visit a website hosting the exploit kit."
The Almighty Buck

Airbnb To Start Collecting Hotel Tax On Rentals In San Francisco 71

Posted by samzenpus
from the paying-the-price dept.
An anonymous reader writes Airbnb announced that it will begin collecting a 14% occupancy tax on behalf of its San Francisco hosts October 1. "This is the culmination of a long process that began earlier this year when we announced our intent to help collect and remit occupancy taxes in San Francisco," wrote Airbnb public policy leader David Owen. The company already collects taxes in Portland, and has discussed the possibility of collecting taxes in New York.
Security

eBay Redirect Attack Puts Buyers' Credentials At Risk 37

Posted by samzenpus
from the steal-it-now dept.
mrspoonsi points out this BBC story about an eBay breach that was directing users to a spoof site. "eBay has been compromised so that people who clicked on some of its links were automatically diverted to a site designed to steal their credentials. The spoof site had been set up to look like the online marketplace's welcome page. The firm was alerted to the hack on Wednesday night but removed the listings only after a follow-up call from the BBC more than 12 hours later. One security expert said he was surprised by the length of time taken. 'EBay is a large company and it should have a 24/7 response team to deal with this — and this case is unambiguously bad,' said Dr Steven Murdoch from University College London's Information Security Research Group. The security researcher was able to analyze the listing involved before eBay removed it. He said that the technique used was known as a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack."
Transportation

Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000? 389

Posted by samzenpus
from the hitting-the-price-point dept.
cartechboy writes How low can battery costs go, and how fast? That's the question automakers are dealing with when it comes to the future of electric cars. Tesla is betting big on electric and has already proven many skeptics wrong with its Model S sedan. The company is making even bolder claims with its upcoming Model 3 stating it'll have about 200 miles of range and a base price of $35,000. That's a nice goal, but is it possible. Battery skeptic Menahem Anderman wrote a new report suggesting that the pace of cost reduction for electric car batteries won't be as swift as Tesla's CEO Elon Musk suggests. This leads Anderman to predict the actual price of the upcoming Model 3 will be in the range of $50,000-$80,000.
Programming

College Students: Want To Earn More? Take a COBOL Class 270

Posted by Soulskill
from the lords-of-COBOL-hear-our-prayers dept.
jfruh writes: With a lot of debate over the value of a college education, here's a data point students can use: at one Texas college, students who took an elective COBOL class earned on average $10,000 more a year upon graduation than classmates who hadn't. COBOL, dropped from many curricula years ago as an outdated language, is tenaciously holding on in the industry, as many universities are belatedly starting to realize.
NASA

NASA's Manned Rocket Contract: $4.2 Billion To Boeing, $2.6 Billion To SpaceX 186

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
schwit1 writes NASA has chosen two companies to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and those companies are Boeing and SpaceX. This decision confirms that SpaceX is ready to go and gives the company the opportunity to finish the job, while also giving Boeing the chance to show that it can still compete. After NASA has certified that each company has successfully built its spacecraft, SpaceX and Boeing will each fly two to six missions. The certification process will be step-by-step, similar to the methods used in the cargo contracts, and will involve five milestones. The contracts will be paid incrementally as they meet these milestones. One milestone will be a manned flight to the ISS, with one NASA astronaut on board. Boeing will receive $4.2 billion, while SpaceX will get $2.6 billion. These awards were based on what the companies proposed and requested.
Businesses

New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the bring-our-benjamins-home dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Reuters reports that plans for a major rewriting of international tax rules have been unveiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that could eliminate structures that have allowed companies like Google and Amazon to shave billions of dollars off their tax bills. For more than 50 years, the OECD's work on international taxation has been focused on ensuring companies are not taxed twice on the same profits (and thereby hampering trade and limit global growth). But companies have been using such treaties to ensure profits are not taxed anywhere. A Reuters investigation last year found that three quarters of the 50 biggest U.S. technology companies channeled revenues from European sales into low tax jurisdictions like Ireland and Switzerland, rather than reporting them nationally.

For example, search giant Google takes advantage of tax treaties to channel more than $8 billion in untaxed profits out of Europe and Asia each year and into a subsidiary that is tax resident in Bermuda, which has no income tax. "We are putting an end to double non-taxation," says OECD head of tax Pascal Saint-Amans.For the recommendations to actually become binding, countries will have to encode them in their domestic laws or amend their bilateral tax treaties. Even if they do pass, these changes are likely 5-10 years away from going into effect.
Speaking of international corporate business: U.K. mainframe company Micro Focus announced it will buy Attachmate, which includes Novell and SUSE.
Government

Funding Tech For Government, Instead of Tech For Industry 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the imagine-an-iphone-developed-by-the-government dept.
An anonymous reader writes: If you're a creative engineer looking to build a product, you're probably going to end up starting your own business or joining an established one. That's where ideas get funding, and that's where products make a difference (not to mention money). Unfortunately, it also siphons a lot of the tech-related talent away from government (and by extension, everybody else), who could really benefit from this creative brilliance. That's why investor Ron Bouganim just started a $23 million fund for investment in tech companies that develop ideas for the U.S. government. Not only is he hoping to transfer some of the $74 billion spent annually by the government on technology to more efficient targets, but also to change the perception that the best tech comes from giant, entrenched government contractors.
Businesses

Uber CEO: We'll Run Your Errands 139

Posted by samzenpus
from the filling-in-the-gaps dept.
mpicpp writes with Uber's latest plans for expansion. The future of Uber is about pharmacies and rickshaws. So says CEO Travis Kalanick. One of several avenues for expansion is in a category of delivery that's about running errands. "In Los Angeles, we're doing something called Uber Fresh, which is you push a button and you get a lunch in five minutes," Kalanick told CNN's Fareed Zakaria. "In DC, we're doing Uber Corner Store. So imagine all the things you get at a corner store...FedEx isn't going to your nearest pharmacy and delivering something to you in five minutes," he continued. Another is in emerging markets, where the company may focus on rickshaws, rather than high-end black cars, Kalanick said.
Security

Malware Distributed Through Twitch Chat Is Hijacking Steam Accounts 53

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader writes If you use Twitch don't click on any suspicious links in the video streaming platform's chat feature. Twitch Support's official Twitter account issued a security warning telling users not to click the "csgoprize" link in chat. According to f-secure, the link leads to a Java program that asks for your name and email. If you provide the info it will install a file on your computer that's able to take out any money you have in your Steam wallet, as well as sell or trade items in your inventory. "This malware, which we call Eskimo, is able to wipe your Steam wallet, armory, and inventory dry," says F-Secure. "It even dumps your items for a discount in the Steam Community Market. Previous variants were selling items with a 12 percent discount, but a recent sample showed that they changed it to 35 percent discount. Perhaps to be able to sell the items faster."
United Kingdom

School Installs Biometric Fingerprint System For Cafeteria 230

Posted by samzenpus
from the paying-with-one-finger dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about a school in England that has introduced a cashless cafeteria system that is raising some privacy concerns among some. Stourbridge students will soon be able to pay for their lunch without searching their pockets for change. Redhill School has spent £20,000 updating its dining facilities and introducing a cashless catering system. The system will allow parents to deposit funds into students catering accounts, to be debited by the pupil's biometric fingerprint scan at the point of sale. Headteacher Stephen Dunster said: "The benefits are that pupils are less likely to lose cash, parents know their children are using their dinner money to buy nutritious food and there will also be a system to alert staff if students are purchasing food that they may be allergic to."
Businesses

Amazon Is Killing Off Its Free P2P Money-Transfer Service WebPay On October 13 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the internet-impermanence dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon WebPay, a free online money-transfer service, is shutting down October 13, 2014. This means you'll no longer be able to send, receive, or request money using just your email address and the Amazon Payments webpage. There were hints back in June that the service would be going away soon. Amazon sent out an email this week to active Amazon Payments account users notifying them it is pulling the plug.

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