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Updated: 19 min 22 sec ago

Netflix Is Becoming Just Another TV Channel

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 9:25pm
An anonymous reader writes: Netflix revealed in a blog post that it will not renew its contract with Epix, meaning you won't be able to watch movies like The Hunger Games and World War Z through the service anymore. With the increase in cord-cutters and more original content, Netflix is positioning itself to be like any other TV channel (one that owns its own distribution model) and is betting that customers won't miss the Epix content. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos says, "While many of these movies are popular, they are also widely available on cable and other subscription platforms at the same time as they are on Netflix and subject to the same drawn out licensing periods."

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The Long Reach of Windows 95

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 8:42pm
jfruh writes: I'm a Mac guy — have been ever since the '80s. When Windows 95 was released 20 years ago, I was among those who sneered that "Windows 95 is Macintosh 87." But now, as I type these words on a shiny new iMac, I can admit that my UI — and indeed the computing landscape in general — owes a lot to Windows 95, the most influential operating system that ever got no respect. ITWorld reports: "... even though many techies tend to dismiss UI innovation as eye candy, the fact is that the changes made in Windows 95 were incredibly successful in making the the system more accessible to users -- so successful, in fact, that a surprising number of them have endured and even spread to other operating systems. We still live in the world Windows 95 made. When I asked people on Twitter their thoughts about what aspects of Windows 95 have persisted, I think Aaron Webb said it best: 'All of it? Put a 15 year old in front of 3.1 and they would be lost. In front of Windows 95 they would be able to do any task quickly.'"

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3 Category 4 Hurricanes Develop In the Pacific At Once For the First Time

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 8:00pm
Kristine Lofgren writes: For the first time in recorded history, three Category 4 hurricanes were seen in the Pacific Ocean at the same time. Climatologists have been warning that climate change may produce more extreme weather situations, and this may be a peek at the future to come. Eric Blake, a specialist with the National Hurricane Center summed it up with a tweet: "Historic central/eastern Pacific outbreak- 3 major hurricanes at once for the first time on record!"

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The Most Important Obscure Languages?

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 7:17pm
Nerval's Lobster writes: If you're a programmer, you're knowledgeable about "big" languages such as Java and C++. But what about those little-known languages you only hear about occasionally? Which ones have an impact on the world that belies their obscurity? Erlang (used in high-performance, parallel systems) springs immediately to mind, as does R, which is relied upon my mathematicians and analysts to crunch all sorts of data. But surely there are a handful of others, used only by a subset of people, that nonetheless inform large and important platforms that lots of people rely upon... without realizing what they owe to a language that few have ever heard of.

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Book Review: Effective Python: 59 Specific Ways To Write Better Python

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 6:34pm
MassDosage writes: If you are familiar with the "Effective" style of books then you probably already know how this book is structured. If not here's a quick primer: the book consists of a number of small sections each of which focus on a specific problem, issue or idea and these are discussed in a "here's the best way to do X" manner. These sections are grouped into related chapters but can be read in pretty much any order and generally don't depend on each other (and when they do this will be called out in the text). The idea is that you can read the book from cover to cover if you want but you can also just dip in and out and read only the sections that are of interest to you. This also means that you can use the book as a reference in future when you inevitably forget the details or want to double check something. Read below for the rest of Mass Dosage's review.

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Cities Wasting Millions of Taxpayer's Money In Failed IoT Pilots

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 5:51pm
dkatana writes: Two years ago at the Smart Cities Expo World Congress, Antoni Vives, then Barcelona's second deputy mayor, said he refused to have more technology pilots in the city: "I hate pilots, if anyone of you [technology companies] comes to me selling a pilot, just get away, I don't want to see you." He added, "I am fed up with the streets full of devices. It is a waste of time, a waste of money, and doesn't deliver anything; it is just for the sake of selling something to the press and it does not work." Barcelona is already a leading city in the use of IoT and, according to Fortune, "The most wired city in the world". Over the past 10 years, the city has experienced a surge in the number of sensors, data collection devices and automation and has become "a showcase for the smart metropolis of the future". Over the past few years technology companies have sold pilot programs costing millions of dollars to cities all over the world, claiming it will enhance their "Smart City" rating. Unfortunately, after the initial buzz, many of those pilots never get beyond the evaluation stage and are abandoned because the cities cannot afford them in the first place.

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Ask Slashdot: What Would You Do If You Were Suddenly Wealthy?

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 5:09pm
An anonymous reader writes: There are a few articles floating around today about comments from Markus Persson, aka "Notch," the creator of Minecraft. He sold his game studio to Microsoft last year for $2.5 billion, but he seems to be having a hard time adjusting to his newfound fame and wealth. He wrote, "The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance. ... Found a great girl, but she's afraid of me and my life style and went with a normal person instead. I would Musk and try to save the world, but that just exposes me to the same type of a$#@%&*s that made me sell minecraft again." While he later suggests he was just having a bad day, he does seem to be dealing with some isolation issues. Granted, it can be hard to feel sorry for a billionaire, but I've wondered at times how I'd handle sudden wealth like that, and I long ago decided it would make the human relationships I'm accustomed to rather difficult. So, how would you deal with Notch's problem? It seems like one the tech industry should at least be aware of, given the focus on startup culture.

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Google Facing Fine of Up To $1.4 Billion In India Over Rigged Search Results

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 4:27pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Competition Commission of India has opened an investigation into Google to decide whether the company unfairly prioritized search results to its own services. Google could face a fine of up to $1.4 billion — 10% of its net income in 2014. A number of other internet companies, including Facebook and FlipKart, responded to queries from the CCI by confirming that Google does this. "The CCI's report accuses Google of displaying its own content and services more prominently in search results than other sources that have higher hit rates. It also states that sponsored links shown in search results are dependent on the amount of advertising funds Google receives from its clients. Ecommerce portal Flipkart noted that it found search results to have a direct correlation with the amount of money it spent on advertising with Google." The company has faced similar antitrust concerns in the EU and the U.S

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Plunging Battery Prices Expected To Spur Renewable Energy Adoption

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 3:45pm
Lucas123 writes: Lithium-ion (Li-on) and flow battery prices are expected to drop by as much as 60% by 2020, making them far more affordable for storing power from distributed renewable energy systems, such as wind and solar, according to a recent report by Australia's Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). The 130-page report (PDF) shows that Li-on batteries will drop from $550 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2014 to $200 per kWh by 2020; and flow battery prices will drop from $680 per kWh to $350 per kWh during the same time. Flow batteries and Li-ion batteries work well with intermittent energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines because of their ability to be idle for long periods without losing a charge. Both battery technologies offer unique advantages in that they can easily be scaled to suit many applications and have high cycle efficiency, the ARENA report noted. Li-ion batteries more easily suit consumer market. Flow batteries, which are less adaptable for consumer use because they're typically too large, scale more easily because all that's needed to grow storage capacity is more electrolyte liquid; the hardware remains the same.

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Where the Tech Industry's Political Donations Are Going

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 3:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: Early estimates suggest the 2016 U.S. presidential election will result in $5-10 billion in spending by candidates and organizations — much more than ever before. To support this, they need lots of contributions, and the tech industry is becoming a significant player. (Not as much as the financial industry, of course, but tech's influence is growing.) Re/Code breaks down which candidates are getting the most money from the tech sector so far. Right now, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has gotten the most tech money by far — more than the rest of the field combined, thanks in large part to Larry Ellison. Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, is a distant second, followed closely by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) are the only other candidates with significant tech contributions so far. Carly Fiorina, a tech industry veteran, has only managed about $13,000 in donations.

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Metal Gear Solid V PC Disc Contains Steam Installer, Nothing Else

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 2:32pm
dotarray writes: The boxed copy of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain reportedly contains nothing but a Steam installer. That's right, even if you fork out real-world money for a physical copy of the game, you'll still have to download the whole thing from the internet. The game officially launches tomorrow. Early critical reviews are quite positive, though you should take that with a grain of salt until the game is more widely distributed. Game Informer says, "Unlike the linear design of previous entries, The Phantom Pain rarely assumes you have particular weapons and equipment, so the missions are brilliantly designed with multiple paths to success." The Washington Post notes, "The Phantom Pain’s openness feels like Kojima finally found a technical platform broad enough to make use of all of those tools and trusts players to build their own narrative drama from the way they choose to put these tools together for each mission." IGN has this criticism: "... where Phantom Pain’s gameplay systems are far richer and meatier than any the series has ever seen, its story feels insubstantial and woefully underdeveloped by comparison." Metal Gear Solid 5 is launching for PCs, current consoles, and previous-gen consoles; Digital Foundry thinks is likely to be the last true cross-generation AAA title.

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Over 225,000 Apple Accounts Compromised Via iOS Malware

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 1:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Palo Alto Networks and WeipTech have unearthed a scheme that resulted in the largest known Apple account theft caused by malware. All in all, some 225,000 valid Apple accounts have been compromised. The theft is executed via variants of the KeyRaider iOS malware, which targets jailbroken iOS devices. Most of the victims are Chinese — the malware is distributed through third-party Cydia repositories in China — but users in other countries have also been affected (European countries, the U.S., Australia, South Korea, and so on). "The malware hooks system processes through MobileSubstrate, and steals Apple account usernames, passwords and device GUID by intercepting iTunes traffic on the device," Palo Alto researcher Claud Xiao explained. "KeyRaider steals Apple push notification service certificates and private keys, steals and shares App Store purchasing information, and disables local and remote unlocking functionalities on iPhones and iPads."

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OnHub Router -- Google's Smart Home Trojan Horse?

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 12:56pm
An anonymous reader writes: A couple weeks ago, Google surprised everybody by announcing a new piece of hardware: the OnHub Wi-Fi router. It packs a ton of processing power and a bunch of wireless radios into a glowy cylinder, and they're going to sell it for $200, which is on the high end for home networking equipment. Google sent out a number of units for testing, and the reviews are starting to come out. The device is truly Wi-Fi-centric, with only a single port for an ethernet cable. It runs on a Qualcomm IPQ8064 dual-core 1.4GHz SoC with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage. You can only access the router's admin settings by using the associated app on a mobile device. OnHub's data transfer speeds couldn't compete with a similarly priced Asus router, but it had no problem blanketing the area with a strong signal. Ron Amadeo puts his conclusion simply: "To us, this looks like Google's smart home Trojan horse." The smartphone app that accompanies OnHub has branding for something called "Google On," which they speculate is Google's new hub for smart home products. "There are tons of competing smart home protocols out there, all of which are incompatible with one another—imagine HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray, but with about five different players. ... Other than Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, everything in OnHub is a Google/Nest/Alphabet protocol. And remember, the "Built for Google On" stamp on the bottom of the OnHub sure sounds like a third-party certification program."

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Unearthed E.T. Atari Game Cartridges Score $108K At Auction

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 12:13pm
MojoKid writes: Hundreds of Atari 2600 cartridges of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial that were excavated last year from a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico collectively raked in nearly $108,000 through eBay auctions. Some $65,000 of that will go to the city of Alamogordo, while the Tularosa Basin Historical Society will receive over $16,000. Over $26,600 went to shipping fees and other expenses. A team of excavators led by operational consultant Joe Lewandowski unearthed the E.T. cartridges in front of a film crew. The high profile (among gaming historians) dig was the basis a documentary called Atari: Game Over, which is available for free through the Microsoft Store.

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"McKinley" Since 1917, Alaska's Highest Peak Is Redesignated "Denali"

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 11:28am
NPR reports that the Alaskan mountain which has for nearly a century been known officially as Mt. McKinley will revert to the name under which it's been known for a much longer time: Denali. President Obama is to "make a public announcement of the name change in Anchorage Monday, during a three-day visit to Alaska." Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's secretarial order of August 28th declares the name change to be immediately effective, and directs the United States Board on Geographic Names "to immediately implement this name change, including changing the mountain's name in the Board's Geographic Names Information System and notifying all interested parties of the name change."

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T-Mobile Starts Going After Heavy Users of Tethered Data

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 8:29am
VentureBeat reports that T-Mobile CEO John Legere has announced that T-Mobile will cut off (at least from "unlimited" data plans) customers who gloss over the fine print of their data-use agreement by tethering their unlimited-data phones and grab too much of the network's resources. In a series of tweets on Sunday, Legere says the company will be "eliminating anyone who abuses our network," and complains that some "network abusers" are using 2TB of data monthly. The article says, "This is the first official word from the carrier that seems to confirm a memo that was leaked earlier this month. At that time, it was said action would be taken starting August 17 and would go after those who used their unlimited LTE data for Torrents and peer-to-peer networking."

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Brain Cancer Claims Horror Maestro Wes Craven At 76

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 5:33am
New submitter JamesA writes: Wes Craven, the famed writer-director of horror films known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream movies, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76. Though he's far less known as a novelist than for his various horror film jobs (writer, director, producer, actor ...), Craven also wrote a few books; I can't vouch for "Coming of Rage," but "Fountain Society" is pretty solid speculative fiction. Wikipedia notes that Craven also "designed the Halloween 2008 logo for Google, and was the second celebrity personality to take over the YouTube homepage on Halloween."

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F-35 To Face Off Against A-10 In CAS Test

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 2:46am
An anonymous reader writes: Lara Seligman from Defense News reports that the capabilities of the Joint Strike Fighter are to be evaluated for close-air support (CAS) missions. She writes, "To gauge the joint strike fighter's ability to perform in a close-air support role, the Pentagon's top weapons tester has declared the sleek new fighter jet must face off against the lumbering A-10. The Pentagon's Office of Operational Test and Evaluation plans to pit the full-up F-35 against the legacy A-10 Warthog and potentially other fighter jets to evaluate the next-generation aircraft's ability to protect soldiers on the ground."

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CenturyLink Takes $3B In Subsidies For Building Out Rural Broadband

Sun, 30/08/2015 - 11:55pm
New submitter club77er writes with a link to a DSL Reports article outlining some hefty subsidies (about $3 billion, all told) that CenturyLink has signed up to receive, in exchange for expanding its coverage to areas considered underserved: According to the CenturyLink announcement, the telco will take $500 million a year for six years from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s Connect America Fund (CAF). In exchange, it will expand broadband to approximately 1.2 million rural households and businesses in 33 states. While the FCC now defines broadband as 25 Mbps down, these subsidies require that the deployed services be able to provide speeds of at least 10 Mbps down.

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NSF Makes It Rain: $722K Award To Evaluate Microsoft-Backed TEALS

Sun, 30/08/2015 - 10:49pm
theodp writes: Microsoft has $92 billion in cash parked offshore, so it's kind of surprising to see a $722K National Science Foundation award is going towards validating the efficacy of Microsoft TEALS, the pet program of CEO Satya Nadella that sends volunteer software engineers with no teaching experience into high schools to teach kids and their teachers computer science. Among its Program Changes for 2015, TEALS said it "explicitly commits to provide a core set of curriculum materials that are complete, organized, and adaptable," which should help improve the outcome of the Developing Computer Science Pedagogical Content Knowledge through On-the-Job Learning NSF study schools are being asked to participate in. Meanwhile, CSTUY, a volunteer organization led by experienced CS teachers (including Slashdot user zamansky), finds itself turning to Kickstarter for $25K to fund Saturday Hacking Sessions. So, as Microsoft-backed Code.org — which has also attracted NSF award money to validate its CS program — is fond of saying: What's wrong with this picture? (To be fair to TEALS: it may have Microsoft backing, but it's not strictly a Microsoft effort, and also started out as a pure volunteer effort, as founder Kevin Wang explained earlier this year.)

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