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Microsoft Exec Opens Up About Research Lab Closure, Layoffs

Slashdot - Fri, 24/10/2014 - 00:28
alphadogg writes It's been a bit over a month since Microsoft shuttered its Microsoft Research lab in Silicon Valley as part of the company's broader restructuring that will include 18,000 layoffs. This week, Harry Shum, Microsoft EVP of Technology & Research, posted what he termed an "open letter to the academic research community" on the company's research blog. In the post, Shum is suitably contrite about the painful job cut decisions that were made in closing the lab, which opened in 2001. He also stresses that Microsoft will continue to invest in and value "fundamental research".

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Ello's charter makes it legally impossible for it to display ads

Engadget - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 23:52
Ello debuted with a big, idealistic promise: to be a different kind of social network unswayed by the influence of advertisers or corporate overlords. The notion was immediately questioned by just about everyone, but the startup is sticking to the...

Tech Firm Fined For Paying Imported Workers $1.21 Per Hour

Slashdot - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 23:44
An anonymous reader sends in news about a company that was fined for flying in "about eight employees" from India to work 120-hour weeks for $1.21 per hour. Electronics for Imaging paid several employees from India as little as $1.21 an hour to help install computer systems at the company's Fremont headquarters, federal labor officials said Wednesday. "We are not going to tolerate this kind of behavior from employers," said Susana Blanco, district director of the U.S. Labor Department's wage and hour division in San Francisco.... An anonymous tip prompted the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate the case, which resulted in more than $40,000 in back wages paid to the eight employees and a fine of $3,500 for Electronics for Imaging.

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'Super Smash Bros. for Wii U' adds an eight-player mode for double the madness

Engadget - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 23:16
Think you know everything there is to about Super Smash Bros for Wii U? Think again: during today's Smash-centric Nintendo Direct event, the gaming giant announced an eight-player mode for absolutely bananas action. How will you even keep track of...

Mark Zuckerberg Speaks Mandarin At Tsinghua University In Beijing

Slashdot - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 23:00
HughPickens.com writes Abby Phillip reports at the Washington Post that that Mark Zuckerberg just posted a 30-minute Q&A at Tsinghua University in Beijing in which he answered every question exclusively in Chinese — a notoriously difficult language to learn and particularly, to speak. "It isn't just Zuckerberg's linguistic acrobatics that make this a notable moment," writes Philip. "This small gesture — although some would argue that it is a huge moment — is perhaps his strongest foray into the battle for hearts and minds in China." Zuckerberg and Facebook have been aggressively courting Chinese users for years and the potential financial upside for the business. Although Beijing has mostly banned Facebook, the company signed a contract for its first ever office in China earlier this year. A Westerner speaking Mandarin in China — at any level — tends to elicit joy from average Chinese, who seem to appreciate the effort and respect they feel learning Mandarin demonstrates. So how well did he actually do? One Mandarin speaker rates Zuckerberg's language skills at a seventh grader's speech: "It's hard not see a patronizing note in the Chinese audience's reaction to Zuckerberg's Mandarin. To borrow from Samuel Johnson's quip, he was like a dog walking on its hind legs: It wasn't done well, but it was a surprise to see it done at all."

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Sound Off! What's missing from your favorite operating system?

Engadget - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 22:36
Whether you're running the latest version of Android, iOS or Windows Phone, there's bound to be something missing from your favorite mobile operating system. Personally, I find it amazing that iOS still makes me play Whac-a-mole when it comes to...

Assange: Google Is Not What It Seems

Slashdot - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 22:15
oxide7 (1013325) writes "In June 2011, Julian Assange received an unusual visitor: the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt. They outlined radically opposing perspectives: for Assange, the liberating power of the Internet is based on its freedom and statelessness. For Schmidt, emancipation is at one with U.S. foreign policy objectives and is driven by connecting non-Western countries to Western companies and markets. These differences embodied a tug-of-war over the Internet's future that has only gathered force subsequently. Assange describes his encounter with Schmidt and how he came to conclude that it was far from an innocent exchange of views."

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Amazon's acquisitions and experiments are erasing its profits

Engadget - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 21:56
In case you didn't know, here's the crazy thing about Amazon: it isn't really known for turning a profit. Just think about that for a second. The company that wants to you sell everything, get it to you by any means necessary and serves as the...

Leaked Documents Reveal Behind-the-Scenes Ebola Vaccine Issues

Slashdot - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 21:33
sciencehabit writes Extensive background documents from a meeting that took place today at the World Health Organization (WHO) have provided new details about exactly what it will take to test, produce, and bankroll Ebola vaccines, which could be a potential game changer in the epidemic. ScienceInsider obtained materials that vaccinemakers, governments, and WHO provided to the 100 or so participants at a meeting on 'access and financing' of Ebola vaccines. The documents put hard numbers on what until now have been somewhat fuzzy academic discussions. And they make clear to the attendees—who include representatives from governments, industry, philanthropies, and nongovernmental organizations—that although testing and production are moving forward at record speed, knotty issues remain.

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Microsoft is doing great, and so are Surface Pro 3 and Office 365

Engadget - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 21:24
The cloud has been a solid source of income for Microsoft in recent times, and while the company is still in the middle of a huge transition, the future is looking bright under recently appointed CEO Satya Nadella. Today, Microsoft released its...

Ubuntu 14.10 Released With Ambitious Name, But Small Changes

Slashdot - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 20:46
Ubuntu 14.10, dubbed Utopic Unicorn, has been released today (here are screenshots). PC World says that at first glance "isn't the most exciting update," with not so much as a new default wallpaper — but happily so: it's a stable update in a stable series, and most users will have no pressing need to update to the newest version. In the Ubuntu Next unstable series, though, there are big changes afoot: Along with Mir comes the next version of Ubuntu’s Unity desktop, Unity 8. Mir and the latest version of Unity are already used on Ubuntu Phone, so this is key for Ubuntu's goal of convergent computing — Ubuntu Phone and Ubuntu desktop will use the same display server and desktop shell. Ubuntu Phone is now stable and Ubuntu phones are arriving this year, so a lot of work has gone into this stuff recently. The road ahead looks bumpy however. Ubuntu needs to get graphics drivers supporting Mir properly. The task becomes more complicated when you consider that other Linux distributions — like Fedora — are switching to the Wayland display server instead of Mir. When Ubuntu Desktop Next becomes the standard desktop environment, the changes will be massive indeed. But for today, Utopic Unicorn is all about subtle improvements and slow, steady iteration.

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Etsy takes a stab at real world sales with free credit card readers

Engadget - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 20:35
Etsy is best known for being an online marketplace of folksy gewgaws and crocheted everythings, but it's making moves to help its sellers do more out in the real world. Case in point: The company just took a page out of Square and PayPal's playbooks...

German Publishers Capitulate, Let Google Post News Snippets

Slashdot - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 19:59
itwbennett writes German publishers said they are bowing to Google's market power, and will allow the search engine to show news snippets in search results free of charge — at least for the time being. The decision is a step in an ongoing legal dispute between the publishers and Google in which, predictably, publishers are trying to get compensation from the search engine for republishing parts of their content and Google isn't interested in sharing revenue. The move follows a Google decision earlier this month — and which was to go into effect today — to stop using news snippets and thumbnails for some well-known German news sites.

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Facebook's anonymous Rooms is a chat app that feels like the old days

Engadget - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 19:54
Facebook's new Rooms app is weird, and it isn't long after installation that you figure out why. You don't log in with your Facebook credentials. Your profile picture appears nowhere. It doesn't tap into your contacts. If Rooms' iOS-only App Store...

Hailo's app now lets you pay for cabs you've flagged on the street

Engadget - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 19:52
Hailo reported just last week it was pulling out of North America, where it could no longer effectively compete against its rivals. On this side of the pond, however, Hailo's kicking off its third birthday celebrations with the announcement of more...

We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello

Slashdot - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 19:10
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: Facebook threatened to banish drag queen pseudonyms, and (some) users revolted by flocking to Ello, a social network which promised not to enforce real names and also to remain ad-free. Critics said that the idealistic model would buckle under pressure from venture capitalists. But both gave scant mention to the fact that a distributed social networking protocol, backed by a player large enough to get people using it, would achieve all of the goals that Ello aspired to achieve, and more. Read on for the rest.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello

Slashdot - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 19:10
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: Facebook threatened to banish drag queen pseudonyms, and (some) users revolted by flocking to Ello, a social network which promised not to enforce real names and also to remain ad-free. Critics said that the idealistic model would buckle under pressure from venture capitalists. But both gave scant mention to the fact that a distributed social networking protocol, backed by a player large enough to get people using it, would achieve all of the goals that Ello aspired to achieve, and more. Read on for the rest.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








NYPD is getting equipped with over 40,000 mobile devices

Engadget - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 19:04
Thanks to a massive $160 million investment, the New York City Police Department is on its way to receive a combination of up to 41,000 smartphones and tablets. Known as the NYPD Mobility Initiative, which will be mostly financed by criminal asset...

Travelocity apparently saves the best deals for iOS shoppers

Engadget - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 18:32
Like with most everything, online shopping has its pros and cons. One of the best elements of going the digital route, though, is that you usually end up saving more money than at a brick-and-mortar store. Having said that, according to a recent...

Ask Slashdot: Smarter Disk Space Monitoring In the Age of Cheap Storage?

Slashdot - Thu, 23/10/2014 - 18:17
relliker writes In the olden days, when monitoring a file system of a few 100 MB, we would be alerted when it topped 90% or more, with 95% a lot of times considered quite critical. Today, however, with a lot of file systems in the Terabyte range, a 90-95% full file system can still have a considerable amount of free space but we still mostly get bugged by the same alerts as in the days of yore when there really isn't a cause for immediate concern. Apart from increasing thresholds and/or starting to monitor actual free space left instead of a percentage, should it be time for monitoring systems to become a bit more intelligent by taking space usage trends and heuristics into account too and only warn about critical usage when projected thresholds are exceeded? I'd like my system to warn me with something like, 'Hey!, you'll be running out of space in a couple of months if you go on like this!' Or is this already the norm and I'm still living in a digital cave? What do you use, on what operating system?

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