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Google Says Buying Nest Bogged Down First-Quarter Earnings (Liz Gannes/Re/code)

TechMeme - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 7:15pm

Liz Gannes / Re/code:
Google Says Buying Nest Bogged Down First-Quarter Earnings  —  It turns out buying a company for $3.2 billion can suck the wind out of even a $15.4-billion-in-revenue quarter.  The Nest acquisition took a toll on Google expenses, explained Google CFO Patrick Pichette on the company's first-quarter earnings call today.

Categories: Technology

How to Put a Mustang on Top of the Empire State Building

Wired - Top Stories - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 7:02pm
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mustang, Ford recreated a publicity stunt it pulled in 1964 when it placed a Mustang convertible on the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Industry-Wide Smartphone "Kill Switch" Closer To Reality

Slashdot - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 7:02pm
mpicpp (3454017) writes "The 'kill switch,' a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015, according to a pledge backed by most of the mobile world's major players. Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft, along with the five biggest cellular carriers in the United States, are among those that have signed on to a voluntary program announced Tuesday by the industry's largest trade group. All smartphones manufactured for sale in the United States after July 2015 must have the technology, according to the program from CTIA. Advocates say the feature would deter thieves from taking mobile devices by rendering phones useless while allowing people to protect personal information if their phone is lost or stolen. Its proponents include law enforcement officials concerned about the rising problem of smartphone theft."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

New Volvos will get AT&T connectivity starting this summer (Kevin Fitchard/Gigaom)

TechMeme - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 6:50pm

Kevin Fitchard / Gigaom:
New Volvos will get AT&T connectivity starting this summer  —  AT&T will put the connected in Volvo's connected cars here in the U.S. and Canada starting with model year 2015 vehicles being released this summer.  AT&T will provide the mobile internet link to Volvo's updated Sensus Connect infotainment system …

Categories: Technology

People Like Their Music Served Medium Funky

Wired - Top Stories - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 6:47pm
For all but the shyest of wallflowers, moving to music is a natural human response. But what is it about a catchy tune that makes us groove? Scientists think they've figured out at least part of the recipe: just the right mix of regular rhythms and unexpected beats.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Code Quality: Open Source vs. Proprietary

Slashdot - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 6:17pm
just_another_sean sends this followup to yesterday's discussion about the quality of open source code compared to proprietary code. Every year, Coverity scans large quantities of code and evaluates it for defects. They've just released their latest report, and the findings were good news for open source. From the article: "The report details the analysis of 750 million lines of open source software code through the Coverity Scan service and commercial usage of the Coverity Development Testing Platform, the largest sample size that the report has studied to date. A few key points: Open source code quality surpasses proprietary code quality in C/C++ projects. Linux continues to be a benchmark for open source quality. C/C++ developers fixed more high-impact defects. Analysis found that developers contributing to open source Java projects are not fixing as many high-impact defects as developers contributing to open source C/C++ projects."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?

Slashdot - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 5:35pm
guises writes: "A recent story discussing the cover of Byte Magazine reminded me of just how much we've lost with the death of print media. The Internet isn't what took down Byte, but a lot of other really excellent publications have fallen by the wayside as a result of the shift away from the printed page. We're not quite there yet, though. There seem to still be some holdouts, so I'm asking Slashdot: what magazines (or zines, or newsletters, or newspapers) are still hanging around that are worth subscribing to?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Sen. Al Franken asks Netflix CEO if he thinks Comcast-TWC is a bad idea

paidContent - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 5:26pm

U.S. Sen. Al Franken has written to Netflix asking its opinion on Comcast’s efforts to buy Time Warner Cable, implying that Netflix is a good indicator of the potential consumer and content harms of the deal. In his letter, Franken touches on peering challenge, noting that Comcast implied that it was no big thing in its hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee. Since Netflix <a href="http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/examining-the-comcast-time-warner-cable-merger-and-the-impact-on-consumers“>wasn’t at the hearing, perhaps Sen. Franken just wants to get Netflix’s comments on the record. And while, we aren’t Netflix, if Sen. Franken is interested, here’s how we think regulators should view the deal.

Categories: Business News

Captain America Made Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Better, But Still Not Great

Wired - Top Stories - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 4:58pm
The crossover of the plot from Captain America: The Winter Soldier to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a shot in the arm for the TV series, but maybe not enough of one.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Steam's Most Popular Games

Slashdot - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 4:54pm
An anonymous reader writes "The folks at Ars Technica scraped a ton of gameplay data from Steam's player profiles to provide statistics on how many people own each game, and how often it's played. For example: 37% of the ~781 million games owned by Steam users have never been played. Dota 2 has been played by almost 26 million people for a total of 3.8 billion hours. Players of CoD: Modern Warfare 2 spend six times as long in multiplayer as in single-player. This sampling gives much more precise data than we usually have about game sales rates. 'If there's one big takeaway from looking at the entirety of our Steam sales and player data, it's that a few huge ultra-hits are driving the majority of Steam usage. The vast majority of titles form a "long tail" of relative crumbs. Out of about 2,750 titles we've tracked using our sampling method, the top 110 sellers represent about half of the individual games registered to Steam accounts. That's about four percent of the distinct titles, each of which has sold 1.38 million copies or more. This represents about 50 percent of the registered sales on the service. ... about half of the estimated 18.5 billion man-hours that have been spent across all Steam games have gone toward just the six most popular titles.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

'Thermoelectrics' Could One Day Power Cars

Slashdot - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 4:12pm
sciencehabit writes: "Fossil fuels power modern society by generating heat, but much of that heat is wasted. Researchers have tried to reclaim some of it with semiconductor devices called thermoelectrics, which convert the heat into power. But they remain too inefficient and expensive to be useful beyond a handful of niche applications. Now, scientists in Illinois report that they have used a cheap, well-known material to create the most heat-hungry thermoelectric so far (abstract). In the process, the researchers say, they learned valuable lessons that could push the materials to the efficiencies needed for widespread applications. If that happens, thermoelectrics could one day power cars and scavenge energy from myriad engines, boilers, and electrical plants."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Survey: 56 Percent of US Developers Expect To Become Millionaires

Slashdot - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 3:30pm
msmoriarty writes: "According to a recent survey of 1,000 U.S.-based software developers, 56 percent expect to become millionaires in their lifetime. 66 percent also said they expect to get raises in the next year, despite the current state of the economy. Note that some of the other findings of the study (scroll to bulleted list) seem overly positive: 84 percent said they believe they are paid what they're worth, 95 percent report they feel they are 'one of the most valued employees at their organization,' and 80 percent said that 'outsourcing has been a positive factor in the quality of work at their organization.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

A few accumulated thoughts on media

paidContent - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 3:21pm

A few days back my friend Pip Coburn, who runs an investment advisory service, and his colleague Brynne Thompson asked me to discuss what I have learned about media after spending nearly 12 years on Gigaom, pretty much most of my working life in various aspects of media, and two decades on the internet. It turned out to be a fun conversation that was shared by Pip and Brynne with their carefully curated email list of friends and clients. After going over it, I thought, why not create an abbreviated version and share it online?

Media is not publishing alone

My definition of media? “Anything which owns attention.” This could be a game, or perhaps a platform. Ironically, the media tends to associate media with publishing — digital or otherwise — which in turn is too narrow a way to consider not only the media but also the reality of the competitive landscape and media-focused innovation.

Photo by Maksym Yemelynov/Thinkstock

Media continues to be under the influence of deflationary forces of the internet.

Whether it is through stock-market trading or the sale of hotel rooms, the internet has a way of bringing deflationary forces to all businesses that were hitherto inefficient and involved many middlemen. There are two major deflationary forces in digital media that are disrupting business models:

  • The “ruthless efficiency” of advertising on the internet: highly targeted demand.
  • The endless inventory available on the internet: overwhelming supply.

The “ruthless efficiency” includes the role of programmable ad exchange and the ability of brands to more accurately target an audience with newer and better tracking possibilities, including the increasing amount of social data we typically share with social web platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. We are heading into a future where advertisers can buy traffic at much lower prices. Both forces are deflationary and will need a complete rethink of the business models of the more traditional media companies.

Traffic, writers & analytics

Some media companies that rely on advertising revenue are tying journalist compensation to the traffic their story generates. It doesn’t work because it de-prioritizes writing. Writing works when publications are writing and serving the best interest of their users; numbers are good yardstick but not a way to compensate a person.

Tools like Chartbeat are like mile-markers but they are not complete arbiters. The tendency to adapt behavior and business strategy to this data is becoming far more predominant within the industry, and that is a mistake. Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, reminded me of this quote from Andrew Lang, a Scottish poet: “An unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts — for support rather than for illumination.”

Building a business over time with content that is less ephemeral than stalking celebrities requires more skill and the ability for the writers to generate insight and the publishers business’ to support what generating insight takes.

Photo by Thinkstock/wx-bradwang

Fake traffic and bots rule

A few weeks ago, Haile wrote about the challenges facing internet publishing wherein he outlined that nearly 55 percent of people are spending less than 15 seconds on a page. (They analyzed 2 billion pageviews generated by 580,000 articles on 2,000 sites, according to Haile.)

I don’t think that is feasible. Other people in the business agree that a lot of the traffic on the web is bot traffic, so all this traffic people talk about is faux traffic. Is a page being auto-refreshed on an open tab in your browser really useful “attention?” I don’t think so. There are many more examples of this worthless traffic.

No one talks about it. No one really wants to dig in to find out what’s real and what’s not. Plausible deniability is a wonderful thing for politics and advertising. There’s always been a level of ambiguity in the advertising business and nothing really has changed.

What could be the next successful model?

Everyone is trying to figure out what the next model is, but it’s not here yet. There are glimpses of the future. For instance, Foursquare can provide the underpinning of the new version or future iteration of what Bon Appetit or Gourmet currently provide. Instagram and its 200 million monthly active users are participating in a new kind of transmission (like television). Twitter should be at the forefront of this, but there is lack of clarity on part of the company. I have some ideas and am trying to flesh them out.

In searching for the next sustainable business model or media company, the company needs to be great at “owning attention” and the company must be very clear about what it stands for. What are you doing and for whom? Most publishing companies in particular cannot say what they are and what purpose they serve.

When I started Gigaom (the company), I wanted to turn my blog into a service that helped make complex ideas simple. And that philosophy is reflected in our events and our decision to have a subscription-based research business, which in turn has led us to a business model that is less influenced by pure traffic figures.

Categories: Business News

Nokia Had a Production-Ready Web Tablet 13 Years Ago

Slashdot - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 2:47pm
An anonymous reader writes "Here's another story of a tech gadget that arrived before its time. Nokia created a web-ready tablet running EPOC (later to be renamed as Symbian) thirteen years ago. The tablet was set to go into full production, and they actually built a thousand units just before it was canceled. The tablet was scrubbed because market research showed there wasn't demand for the device. The team got devices for themselves and the rest were destroyed. The team was then fired. The lesson: Don't try to be pioneer if you're relying on market research studies."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Wolverine Assembles the X-Men in Final Days of Future Past Trailer

Wired - Top Stories - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 2:35pm
The final trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past is here and it's packed with more mutants than it knows what to do with. (In a good way.)

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Neuroscientists Conduct the Most Frustrating Brain Scanning Study Ever

Wired - Top Stories - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 2:19pm
Neuroscientists devised an experiment specifically meant to induce frustration in participants, in order to scan their brains and understand frustration. But the final conclusions of the study are very frustrating themselves. In other words: HULK FRUSTRATED BY FRUSTRATING BRAIN SCAN STUDY.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Kids Can Swipe a Screen But Can't Use LEGOs

Slashdot - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 2:05pm
SpankiMonki sends this news from The Guardian: "Children are arriving at nursery school able to 'swipe a screen' but lack the manipulative skills to play with building blocks, teachers have warned. They fear that children are being given tablets to use 'as a replacement for contact time with the parent' and say such habits are hindering progress at school. Addressing the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference in Manchester on Tuesday, Colin Kinney said excessive use of technology damages concentration and causes behavioural problems such as irritability and a lack of control."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Confusion over dead celebrities on social media, as Twitter suspends James Dean fan account

paidContent - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 2:04pm

Twitter’s finished being a rebel, at least when it comes to standing up for a James Dean fan who is being sued by a celebrity licensing company that wants to claim the fan’s @jamesdean account.

Despite Twitter’s earlier claims that the account, which consisted of quotes and photos of the late Hollywood bad boy, did not violate its trademark policy, the company quietly suspended the account sometime in the last few weeks.

The dispute came to light in February on reports that Indiana-based CMG Worldwide was suing Twitter to learn the identity of @JamesDean, who had been tweeting tributes like the one below since 2009:

CMG Worldwide filed the lawsuit late last year, claiming that the @jamesdean account infringed on federal trademark laws and Indiana rights of publicity.

“We looked at it as a positive sign that as the litigation moves forward, Twitter has suspended the site. No, there isn’t any judgement yet,” Mark Roesler, CEO of CMG, stated via email.

Twitter, which has a reputation for defending its users in court, said it does not comment on individual account actions for privacy and security reasons – meaning it’s unclear for now if it has agreed to tell CMG who ran the @jamesdean account.

Should the dead have publicity rights?

The case is important because the outcome could limit how people use historical and fictional characters as part of their social media accounts. It also raises policy questions about the wisdom of extending rights of publicity — which are separate from copyright — to dead people.

In contrast to states like New York, which doesn’t recognize a posthumous right to publicity, CMG’s home state of Indiana awards 100 years of protection. It’s unclear how such laws, which typically are used to protect physical products like masks and other merchandise, apply to Twitter and other online realm — and to what degree CMG can enforce Indiana’s law beyond the border of that state.

Some lawyers are skeptical about the efforts of CMG, which also asserts rights to figures like Jackie Robinson and Bettie Page, and whose website says “then, now and forever” to describe its intellectual property services:

“With posthumous rights, what’s really bizarre is that publicity rights grew out of privacy rights – this notion that someone has a privacy right after you’re dead is odd,” according to intellectual property attorney, Jonathan Band.

Others are concerned about the potential harm to free speech of expanding these laws.

“The real implication is for artistic expression,” said Ken Paulson of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, noting that Andy Warhol built his career on celebrity images.

Paulson is also skeptical of awarding property rights where none existed before, and where there may be no moral or economic justification for doing so.

“The broader question is how does society benefit from ensuring that James Dean’s great-great-grandson earns money from his likeness? Why build a system that would allow that to happen?” he said, noting that the heirs of figures like Daniel Boone or Davey Crockett don’t appear to be short-changed by their likeness being public.

Roesler of CMG justified the expanded rights on the grounds that dead celebrities can be akin to commercial brands that are entitled to long-term protection.

“With certain personalities, you can develop a brand – Walt Disney, James Dean – that go well beyond their lives,” he said, adding that, in the case of Dean, “We don’t want every use, just the official Twitter handle.”

Updated at 3:50pm ET to include Twitter statement

Categories: Business News

Is Captain America’s Shield a Capacitor?

Wired - Top Stories - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 1:48pm
Captain America's shield is made of a strange substance called vibranium, which has the ability to absorb energy into its molecular bonds. As physicist Rhett Allain explains, this essentially turns the shield into a gigantic star-spangled supercapacitor.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Snowden’s Email Provider Loses Appeal Over Encryption Keys

Wired - Top Stories - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 1:32pm
A federal appeals court has upheld a contempt citation against the founder of the defunct secure e-mail company Lavabit, finding that the weighty internet privacy issues he raised on appeal should have been brought up earlier in the legal process. The decision disposes of a closely watched privacy case on a technicality, without ruling one way or the other on the substantial issue: whether an internet company can be compelled to turn over the master encryption keys for its entire system to facilitate court-approved surveillance on a single user.

Categories: Open Source, Technology