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

Piracy

Kim Dotcom Says Legal Fight Has Left Him Broke 99

Posted by timothy
from the broke-the-bench dept.
mrspoonsi writes Kim Dotcom, the founder of the seized file-sharing site Megaupload, has declared himself "broke". The entrepreneur said he had spent $10m (£6.4m) on legal costs since being arrested in New Zealand in 2012 and accused of internet piracy. Mr Dotcom had employed a local law firm to fight the US's attempt to extradite him, but his defence team stepped down a fortnight ago without explaining why. Mr Dotcom said he would now represent himself at a bail hearing on Thursday. He denies charges of racketeering, conspiring to commit copyright infringement and money laundering. He told a conference in London, via a video link, that his lawyers had resigned because he had run out of money. "The [US authorities] have certainly managed to drain my resources and dehydrate me, and without lawyers I am defenceless," he said. "They used that opportunity to try and get my bail revoked and that's what I'm facing."
Businesses

Behind Apple's Sapphire Screen Debacle 162

Posted by timothy
from the creative-managment dept.
Frankie70 (803801) writes Apple invested more than $1 billion in an effort to make sapphire one of iPhone 6's selling point. But the iPhone 6 was released without the sapphire screen. GT Advanced Technologies, the small company chosen to supply Apple with enormous quantities of cheap sapphire, declared bankruptcy a month later. Recent documents from GT's bankruptcy proceedings, and conversations with people familiar with operations at Apple and GT, provide several clues as to what went wrong. GT said that to save costs, Apple decided not to install backup power supplies, and multiple outages ruined whole batches of sapphire. The terms Apple negotiated committed GT to supplying a huge amount of sapphire, but put Apple under no obligation to buy it. In its bankruptcy documents, GT would later accuse Apple of using "bait-and-switch" tactics, and said the terms of the deal were "onerous and massively one-sided."
Handhelds

Apple and Amazon Launch Black Friday Price War 37

Posted by timothy
from the you-can-win-the-race-to-the-bottom dept.
An anonymous reader writes Forbes magazine points out that tablet computers are receiving some of the biggest discounts for this year's day-after-Thanksgiving sales. "With slowing growth in the tablet market and an increasing array of choices, some of the strongest bargains will come in that sector," they report, noting that Target is giving away a $140 gift card with purcahses of an iPad Air 2 (and a $100 gift card with the iPad Mini or first-generation iPad Air). But Amazon has already launched a counter-strike, posting big discounts online on Thanksgiving day for their entire line of Kindles, including a black-and-white Kindle for just $49, and their 6-inch color/high-definition HD6 for just $79.
Math

Riecoin Breaks World Record For Largest Prime Sextuplet, Twice 46

Posted by timothy
from the well-the-sextuplet-was-just-sitting-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes Last week, Riecoin – a project that doubles as decentralized virtual currency and a distributed computing system — quietly broke the record for the largest prime number sextuplet. This happened on November 17, 2014 at 19:50 GMT and the calculation took only 70 minutes using the massive distributed computing power of its network. This week the feat was outdone and the project beat its own record on November 24, 2014 at 20:28 GMT achieving numbers 654 digits long, 21 more than its previous record.
Blackberry

BlackBerry Will Buy Your iPhone For $550 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the please-buy-our-phone dept.
mpicpp points out that BlackBerry is hoping to get iPhone owners to switch to Passport smartphones by promising up to $550 to trade in their phones. "The promotion, which starts Monday, promises as much as $550 to iPhone owners who trade in their handsets in favor of BlackBerry's Passport. The actual trade-in value depends on the iPhone, with the iPhone 4S worth up to $90 and the iPhone 6 worth up to $400. (The iPhone 6 Plus is not eligible.) BlackBerry then sweetens the deal by kicking in an additional $150 as a topper for each iPhone. The deal will run through February 13, but it's good only in North America. Customers must buy the $599 to $699 unlocked Passport phone through either BlackBerry's website or Amazon. The trade-in amount comes in the form of a Visa prepaid card."
The Almighty Buck

Was Microsoft Forced To Pay $136M In Back Taxes In China? 57

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
itwbennett writes China's state-controlled Xinhua News Agency said on Sunday that an unnamed international company was forced to pay 840 million yuan ($136 million) in back taxes, as part of a Chinese government crackdown on tax evasion. The Xinhua article simply referred to it as the "M company," describing it as a top 500 global firm headquartered in the U.S. that in 1995 set up a wholly owned foreign subsidiary in Beijing. The details match Microsoft's own background, and no other company obviously fits the bill. Xinhua added, that despite the company's strengths, its subsidiary in China had not been not making a profit, and posted a loss of over $2 billion during a six-year period.
Ruby

Is Ruby On Rails Losing Steam? 279

Posted by Soulskill
from the only-among-left-handed-geriatric-haberdashers dept.
itwbennett writes: In a post last week, Quartz ranked the most valuable programming skills, based on job listing data from Burning Glass and the Brookings Institution. Ruby on Rails came out on top, with an average salary of $109,460. And that may have been true in the first quarter of 2013 when the data was collected, but "before you run out and buy Ruby on Rails for Dummies, you might want to consider some other data which indicate that Rails (and Ruby) usage is not trending upwards," writes Phil Johnson. He looked at recent trends in the usage of Ruby (as a proxy for Rails usage) across MS Gooroo, the TIOBE index, the PYPL index, Redmonk's language rankings, and GitHut and found that "demand by U.S. employers for engineers with Rails skills has been on the decline, at least for the last year."
Medicine

Canada's Ebola Vaccine Nets Millions For Tiny US Biotech Firm 69

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-fun-and-games-until-somebody-loses-several-internal-organs dept.
Anita Hunt (lissnup) writes: Iowa-based NewLink Genetics has secured a US$50million deal with pharmaceutical giant Merck for the experimental Ebola vaccine developed by Canadian government scientists. NewLink bought the exclusive commercial licensing rights to Canada's VSV-EBOV in 2010 with a milestone payment of just US$205,000. This is an interesting new twist in a story we've discussed previously, and which continues to draw media attention.
Supercomputing

NSF Commits $16M To Build Cloud-Based and Data-Intensive Supercomputers 28

Posted by Soulskill
from the petaflops-for-megabucks dept.
aarondubrow writes: As supercomputing becomes central to the work and progress of researchers in all fields, new kinds of computing resources and more inclusive modes of interaction are required. The National Science Foundation announced $16M in awards to support two new supercomputing acquisitions for the open science community. The systems — "Bridges" at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and "Jetstream," co-located at the Indiana University Pervasive Technology Institute and The University of Texas at Austin's Texas Advanced Computing Center — respond to the needs of the scientific computing community for more high-end, large-scale computing resources while helping to create a more inclusive computing environment for science and engineering. Reader 1sockchuck adds this article about why funding for the development of supercomputers is more important than ever: America's high-performance computing (HPC) community faces funding challenges and growing competition from China and other countries. At last week's SC14 conference, leading researchers focused on outlining the societal benefits of their work, and how it touches the daily lives of Americans. "When we talk at these conferences, we tend to talk to ourselves," said Wilf Pinfold, director of research and advanced technology development at Intel Federal. "We don't do a good job communicating the importance of what we do to a broader community." Why the focus on messaging? Funding for American supercomputing has been driven by the U.S. government, which is in a transition with implications for HPC funding. As ComputerWorld notes, climate change skeptic Ted Cruz is rumored to be in line to chair a Senate committee that oversees NASA and the NSF.
Data Storage

Is LTO Tape On Its Way Out? 275

Posted by Soulskill
from the IT-no-longer-caught-on-tape dept.
storagedude writes: With LTO media sales down by 50% in the last six years, is the end near for tape? With such a large installed base, it may not be imminent, but the time is coming when vendors will find it increasingly difficult to justify continued investment in tape technology, writes Henry Newman at Enterprise Storage Forum.

"If multiple vendors invest in a technology, it has a good chance of winning over the long haul," writes Newman, a long-time proponent of tape technology. "If multiple vendors have a technology they're not investing in, it will eventually lose over time. Of course, over time market requirements can change. It is these interactions that I fear that are playing out in the tape market."
The Almighty Buck

Conglomerate Rock From Mars: (Much) More Precious Than Gold 65

Posted by timothy
from the not-to-mention-the-worth-of-the-nougat dept.
An anonymous reader writes It's the oldest rock on Earth--and it's from Mars. A 4.4-billion-year-old martian meteorite, found in a dozen pieces in the western Sahara, has ignited a frenzy among collectors and scientists; prices have reached $10,000 a gram, and museums and universities are vying for slivers of it. It is the only known martian meteorite made of sediment, a conglomerate of pebbles and other clumps of minerals from when the planet was warm, wet, and possibly habitable. The story of the discovery of the rock and its significance is fascinating, as well as the details presented about the economics of rare space materials. Apropos, this older story about missing moon rocks.
Space

Spaceport America Loses $1.7 Million Due To Virgin Galactic Delays 46

Posted by samzenpus
from the stop-the-bleeding dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Officials of New Mexico's Spaceport Authority were grilled by lawmakers about the now vacant Spaceport America following the deadly crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. The spaceport was built as a hub for commercial space flights. Its immediate future is uncertain since Virgin Galactic has indefinitely pushed back the launch date of its space tourism flights. From the article: "Christine Anderson, the authority's executive director, learned last week that she might have to do so one legislator at a time. Anderson was called out by Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, for handing members of an interim legislative finance committee a presentation filled mostly with photographs. Lundstrom and other lawmakers wanted hard numbers and more details about what plan the authority has to get past the Virgin Galactic mishap and get the taxpayer-financed spaceport off the ground. 'It just made all of us look like idiots, like we don't do our homework,' Anderson said. 'That's not the case whatsoever.'"
The Almighty Buck

How "Big Ideas" Are Actually Hurting International Development 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-can-cure-cancer-if-everyone-in-the-world-jumps-at-the-same-time dept.
schnell writes: The New Republic is running a fascinating article that analyzes the changing state of foreign development. Tech entrepreneurs and celebrities are increasingly realizing the inefficiencies of the old charitable NGO-based model of foreign aid, and shifting their support to "disruptive" new ideas that have been demonstrated in small experiments to deliver disproportionately beneficial results. But multiple studies now show that "game changing" ideas that prove revolutionary in limited studies fail to prove effective at scale, and are limited by a simple and disappointing fact: no matter how revolutionary your idea is, whether it works or not is wholly dependent on 1.) the local culture and circumstances, and 2.) who is implementing the program.
The Military

Ukraine's IT Brigade Supports the Troops 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the revenge-of-the-nerds dept.
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.
Android

Indian Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Snub Android One Phones 53

Posted by timothy
from the but-fellas-our-plans-changed dept.
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.
Mozilla

Mozilla's 2013 Report: Revenue Up 1% To $314M; 90% From Google 161

Posted by timothy
from the that's-money-alright dept.
An anonymous reader writes Mozilla has released its annual financial report for 2013, and the numbers hint as to why the organization signed a five-year deal with Yahoo, announced by the duo on November 19. Revenue increased just 1 percent, and the organization's reliance on Google stayed flat at 90 percent. The total revenue for the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiaries in 2011 was $163 million, and it increased 90.2 percent to $311 million for 2012. Yet that growth all but disappeared last year, as the total revenue moved up less than 1 percent (0.995 percent to be more precise) to $311 million in 2013. 85 percent of Mozilla's revenue came from Google in 2011, and that figure increased to 90 percent in 2012. While the 90 percent number remained for 2013, it's still a massive proportion and shows Mozilla last year could not figure out a way to differentiate where its money comes from.
Advertising

Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions 309

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-everyone-says-they-want-but-nobody-actually-wants dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Everyone understands by now that ads fund most of the sites on the web. Other sites have put up paywalls or started subscription bonuses, with varying success. Google, one of the web's biggest ad providers, saw a problem with that: it's a huge pain for readers to manage subscriptions for all the sites they visit — often more trouble than it's worth. And, since so few people sign up, the subscription fees have to be pretty high. Now, Google has launched a service called Contributor to try to fix this situation.

The way Contributor works is this: websites and readers can opt in to the service (and sites like Imgur, The Onion, and ScienceDaily already have). Readers then pay a fee of $1-3 per month (they get to choose how much) to gain ad-free access to all participating sites. When the user visits one of the sites, instead of showing a Google ad, Google will just send a small chunk of that subscription money to the website instead.
The Courts

Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court 203

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-take-the-law-into-your-own-hands-you-take-them-to-court dept.
mdsolar writes A group of Harvard students, frustrated by the university's refusal to shed fossil fuel stocks from its investment portfolios, is looking beyond protests and resolutions to a new form of pressure: the courts. The seven law students and undergraduates filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts against the president and fellows of Harvard College, among others, for what they call "mismanagement of charitable funds." The 11-page complaint, with 167 pages of supporting exhibits, asks the court to compel divestment on behalf of the students and "future generations."
PlayStation (Games)

Customers Creating Fake Amazon Pages To Get Cheap Electronics At Walmart 284

Posted by samzenpus
from the match-this-price dept.
turkeydance writes People are reportedly creating fake Amazon pages to show fake prices on electronics and other items. In the most heavily publicized cases, Walmart was reportedly duped into selling $400 PlayStation 4 consoles for under $100. From the article: "The company announced on Nov. 13 that it would price-match select online retailers, including Amazon.com. However, any Amazon member with a registered selling account can create authentic looking pages and list items 'for sale' online. Consumers need only take a screen capture of the page and show it to a cashier at checkout in order to request the price match."
Australia

UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008 98

Posted by timothy
from the quasi-private-justice dept.
Jagungal (36053) writes The SMH reports that The University of NSW says it has issued 238 fines estimated to total around $100,000 - to students illicitly downloading copyright infringing material such as movies and TV shows on its Wi-Fi network since 2008. The main issues are that the University is not returning any money to the copyright holders but is instead using the money raised for campus facilities and that it is essentially enforcing a commonwealth law.

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