Feed aggregator

BYOD goes TV: Fan TV starts selling its streaming box to Time Warner Cable customers

paidContent - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 2:00pm

The bring-your-own-device phenomenon is coming to a living room near you: Time Warner Cable customers can now buy the $99 Fan TV set-top-box to access the cable company’s programming, as well as a variety of streaming services, through an innovative new interface. Fan TV devices will start shipping to Time Warner Cable customers during this second quarter, and will not require any additional fees beyond the existing cable subscription charges.

“This is a landmark for the industry,” said Fan TV CEO Gilles BianRosa during an interview Tuesday morning, adding: “This has never been done before.”

Fan TV’s streaming device was designed by Yves Behar and features a unique remote control that comes without any visible buttons, which means it works more like a touch pad than a traditional TV remote. The device doesn’t offer any DVR capabilities, but is capable of accessing Time Warner Cable’s on-demand library and features 4 GB of memory for caching, which BianRosa said is enough to pause live programming for more than 20 minutes.

The Fan TV also works with Fan’s existing online content recommendation service, allowing users to access watchlists that they have built on the web or with Fan’s mobile apps and then watch the content on the TV. Fan also taps into a user’s social graph, giving viewing recommendations based on movies and TV shows friends have liked on Facebook.

Check out a promotional video of Fan TV featuring Time Warner Cable content:

The partnership with Time Warner Cable is a big win for Fan TV, which started out as a TV recommendation app and service. The device was first introduced a year ago, and was briefly tested by Cox as part of the cable company’s short-lived FlareWatch trial. Bianrosa said that Fan initially is going to sell the device through its own website, but that it also intends to be in retail stores and possibly Time Warner Cable stores in the near future.

The challenge for Fan will now be to explain to consumers why its streaming box will offer a better value proposition that Time Warner’s existing cable boxes, and why its initial offering may not live to its full potential. At launch, only a few streaming services will be available through the device, including Redbox Instant by Verizon, Target Ticket, Crackle and Rhapsody. Bianrosa said Tuesday that additional services would be added over time, but declined to give any specifics.

Netflix would be a natural fit. The streaming service announced Monday that it will become available on set-top-boxes from U.S. cable operators this quarter, but so far has only committed to being available through TiVo’s set-top box.

Fan TV buyers could also find themselves in a situation where the new device doesn’t actually offer all the channels they’re paying for. That’s because Fan’s live TV integration is based on Time Warner Cable’s TV Everywhere service, which doesn’t offer access to all channels in all markets. Consumers will be able to access up to 300 channels in major metropolitan markets, but the line-up may be slimmer in other areas.

The other big caveat is that Time Warner Cable is in the process of merging with Comcast. If approved, Fan TV may find itself confronted with Comcast’s much more controlling approach towards TV experiences and devices. Comcast has invested a lot of money into the development of its X1 and X2 platforms, and the company wants to own the relationship with the customer through those platforms. This could mean that Fan’s BYOD approach may be short-lived, at least for Time Warner Cable customers.

Categories: Business News

A Map of Every Nuke-Scale Asteroid Strike From the Last Decade

Wired - Top Stories - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 1:56pm
Though dinosaur-killing impacts are rare, large asteroids routinely hit the Earth. In the visualization above, you can see the location of 26 space rocks that slammed into our planet between 2000 and 2013, each releasing the energy of our most powerful nuclear weapons.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

AT&T's Gigabit Smokescreen

Slashdot - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 1:42pm
Yesterday AT&T announced it would examine 100 cities and municipalities in the U.S., including 21 metropolitan areas, for introduction of gigabit fiber. Taken on its face, the announcement is the company's response to Google Fiber. But many were quick to note AT&T has promised nothing. Karl Bode at DSLReports went so far as to call AT&T's announcement a giant bluff. "Ever since Google Fiber came on the scene, AT&T's response has been highly theatrical in nature. What AT&T would have the press and public believe is that they're engaged in a massive new deployment of fiber to the home service. What's actually happening is that AT&T is upgrading a few high-end developments where fiber was already in the ground (these users were previously capped at DSL speeds) and pretending it's a serious expansion of fixed-line broadband. It's not. At the same time AT&T is promising a massive expansion in fixed line broadband, they're telling investors they aren't spending much money on the initiative, because they aren't. AT&T's focus is on more profitable wireless. 'Gigapower' is a show pony designed to help the company pretend they're not being outmaneuvered in their core business by a search engine company."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Beautiful Interactive Map of Barcelona Digs Into Rich Architectural History

Wired - Top Stories - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 1:41pm
Barcelona is one of Europe's most vibrant cities. Tourists flock here for the superb restaurants, lively nightlife, and a chance to check out the stunningly creative architecture of Antoni Gaudí. But the city's historical and cultural roots run deep, and a new interactive map aims to make it easier for visitors and locals alike to explore the city's landmarks.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

In Aereo hearing, Supreme Court expresses concern for cloud computing – but doubt over tiny antennas

paidContent - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 1:30pm

Is Aereo, a service that lets consumers stream over-the-air TV, akin to a cable company or a hardware provider like RadioShack? The justices of the Supreme Court appeared to struggle with that question on Tuesday morning as they listened to oral arguments in what many media watchers view as the most important TV-related court case in decades.

In deciding how to respond to broadcasters’ claim that Aereo is violating copyright, the court expressed repeated concern over how to write a ruling that did not create major ripples for the rest of the TV business on one hand, or for the cloud computing business on the other.

“It makes me nervous about taking your preferred route … Where does it stop?” said Justice Stephen Breyer, addressing Paul Clement, the lawyer for ABC and other big broadcasters that want to shut Aereo down.

Breyer and other Justices expressed particular concern about the broadcasters’ claim that they have a public performance right in Aereo’s transmissions, which are controlled by its subscribers. Breyer pointed out that a thousand people can  – and do — store a file in a personal cloud service like Dropbox, and can play it back at the same time — which could be considered a public performance under the broadcasters’ version of the case.

The “public performance” question is the central issue in the closely-watched case, which turns on whether Aereo’s antenna technology, infringes broadcasters’ copyright, or if the service is instead an extension of existing legal services like remote DVR’s.

Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia leaves the U.S. Supreme Court after oral arguments April 22, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Chief Justice John Roberts also pressed Clement, noting that Aereo appears to provide an antenna in the same way that RadioShack does. But he also expressed deep skepticism over Aereo’s technology, asking why it rents out tens of thousands antennas rather than using just one.

“Is there any reason you need 10,000 of them?” asked Roberts, suggesting the only reason Aereo’s technology operates this way is to get around copyright laws.

“There’s no technically sound reason to use all those antennas,” added Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

David Frederick, the lawyer for Aereo, responded by suggesting that modular designs help startups who don’t know how quickly they will have to scale up and that, in any case, efficiency questions are irrelevant for copyright purposes.

The justices also pressed Clement over how the court could square a ruling in the broadcasters’ favor with the decision in a case called Cablevision, in which an influential appeals court ruled that remote DVR’s are legal. The court noted that the Cablevision ruling was not binding on it, but that the outcome appeared correct. Clement responded by stating that the outcome in Cablevision was indeed correct, but that the lower courts’ reasoning for allowing remote DVR’s was all wrong.

For copyright watchers, the Justices’ questions left no clear indication of how the case will turn out. While Ginsburg appeared, as expected, to be clearly in the broadcasters’ camp, the other Justices expressed repeated concern over the cloud computing issue, and also expressed sympathy at times for one of Aereo’s central contentions — that the signals that are picked up by its customers’ antennas are local over-the-air transmissions that are free already.

Photo from Aereo

And, in a possible nod to an argument made in a supporting brief signed by 36 law professors, several justices suggested that what the case was really about was a reproduction right — not a public performance right. As Frederick was quick to point out, the broadcasters chose not to rely on the reproductive right argument because, had they done so, they would have run afoul of a seminal case 30 years ago that found private copying by VCR’s does not infringe copyright.

The case is significant not just for Aereo, which operates in 11 cities and is backed by media mogul Barry Diller, but for the entire TV industry. The broadcasters have warned that they may remove their over-the-air signals, and become cable channels if Aereo wins. Barry Diller, whose company IAC had put up most of the $97 million invested in Aereo so far, says the company is “finished” if the court grants the broadcasters an injunction.

Aereo released this transcription of a statement it delivered at the court following the hearing:

From our perspective, the issue in the case was whether consumers who have always had a right to have an antenna and a DVR in their home and make copies of local over-the-air broadcast television, if that right should be infringed at all simply by moving the antenna and DVR to the cloud.

The court’s decision today will have significant consequences for cloud computing. We’re confident, cautiously optimistic, based on the way the hearing went today that the Court understood that a person watching over-the-air broadcast television in his or her home is engaging in a private performance and not a public performance that would implicate the Copyright Act.

A decision is likely to come sometime in June or July. The case attracted considerable attention, including an overnight line for seats that began forming on Monday evening.

Categories: Business News

Changing the Size of the Giant ~186 A.D. Eruption of Taupo

Wired - Top Stories - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 1:25pm
Whether it is volcanologists or the public, giant volcanic eruptions are captivating events. These massive events can have a global impact and the idea of a massive ash plume towering 30 kilometers or more over the landscape is an awe-inspiring notion. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that whenever a large volcanic deposit is examine, people […]

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Tech People Making $100k a Year On the Rise, Again

Slashdot - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 12:56pm
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Last month, a report suggested that Austin has the highest salaries for tech workers (after factoring in the cost of living), followed by Atlanta, Denver, Boston, and Silicon Valley. Now, a new report (yes, from Dice, because it gathers this sort of data from tech workers) suggests that more tech people are earning six figures a year than ever. Some 32 percent of full-time tech pros took home more than $100,000 in 2013, according to the findings, up from 30 percent in 2012 and 26 percent in 2011. For contractors, the data is even better: In 2013, a staggering 54 percent of them earned more than $100,000 a year, up from 51 percent the previous year and 50 percent in 2011. How far that money goes depends on where you live, of course, but it does seem like a growing number of the world's tech workers are earning a significant amount of cash."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Henrik Fisker Designed This Motorcycle for the Lego Heir

Wired - Top Stories - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 12:38pm
We already knew Henrik Fisker can designgorgeous cars. Now he's shown he's as good with two wheels as four.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Will the Nissan Leaf Take On the Tesla Model S At Half the Price?

Slashdot - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 12:14pm
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Ask most people why they won't consider an electric car, and they talk about range anxiety. And I can easily imagine why 84 miles of range isn't enough. Now it sounds like Nissan is listening, as well as watching Tesla's success. The company plans to boost the Leaf electric car's driving range with options for larger battery packs. Not long ago Nissan surveyed Tesla Model S owners, and they probably heard loud and clear that longer driving range is very, very important. So it looks like the Leaf might get up to 150 miles of range, possibly by the 2016 model year. The range increase will come from a larger battery pack, possibly 36 or 42 kWh, and more energy-dense cells. Either way, clearly Nissan is looking to expand the appeal of the world's best-selling electric car, and increasing its driving range is pretty clearly a key to doing so. I just wish Nissan would ditch the weird styling while they're at it."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

David Auerbach Explains the Inside Baseball of MSN Messenger vs. AIM

Slashdot - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 11:33am
In N+1 magazine, David Auerbach explains what it was like in the "Chat Wars" of the late '90s, when he was the youngest person on the team developing Microsoft's brand-new messaging app, in the face of America Online's AIM, the 900-pound gorilla in the room. Auerbach explains how he used a network analyzer to fake out AOL's servers into letting Microsoft's client connect to AIM as well. "AOL could only block Messenger if they could figure out that the user was using Messenger and not AIM. As long as Messenger sent exactly the same protocol messages to the AOL servers, AOL wouldn’t be able to detect that Messenger was an impostor. So I took the AIM client and checked for differences in what it was sending, then changed our client to mimic it once again. They’d switch it up again; they knew their client, and they knew what it was coded to do and what obscure messages it would respond to in what ways. Every day it’d be something new. At one point they threw in a new protocol wrinkle but cleverly excepted users logging on from Microsoft headquarters, so that while all other Messenger users were getting an error message, we were sitting at Microsoft and not getting it. After an hour or two of scratching our heads, we figured it out." Eventually, though, AOL introduced x86 assembly code into the login protocol, and that not only stymied the MSM team, but led to some interesting warfare of its own. Auerbach's story sheds a lot of light on both good and bad aspects of corporate culture at the start of the 21st century, at Microsoft as well as other companies.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

David Auerbach Explains the Inside Baseball of MS Messenger vs. AIM

Slashdot - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 11:33am
In N+1 magazine, David Auerbach explains what it was like in the "Chat Wars" of the late '90s, when he was the youngest person on the team developing Microsoft's brand-new messaging app, in the face of America Online's AIM, the 900-pound gorilla in the room. Auerbach explains how he used a network analyzer to fake out AOL's servers into letting Microsoft's client connect to AIM as well. "AOL could only block Messenger if they could figure out that the user was using Messenger and not AIM. As long as Messenger sent exactly the same protocol messages to the AOL servers, AOL wouldn’t be able to detect that Messenger was an impostor. So I took the AIM client and checked for differences in what it was sending, then changed our client to mimic it once again. They’d switch it up again; they knew their client, and they knew what it was coded to do and what obscure messages it would respond to in what ways. Every day it’d be something new. At one point they threw in a new protocol wrinkle but cleverly excepted users logging on from Microsoft headquarters, so that while all other Messenger users were getting an error message, we were sitting at Microsoft and not getting it. After an hour or two of scratching our heads, we figured it out." Eventually, though, AOL started introduced x86 assembly code into the login protocol, and that not only stymied the MSM team, but led to some interesting warfare of its own. Auerbach's story sheds a lot of light on both good and bad aspects of corporate culture at the start of the 21st century, at Microsoft as well as other companies.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Tough Realities Persist In Mobile Payments

ReadWriteWeb - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 11:12am

The Platform is a regular column by mobile editor Dan Rowinski. Ubiquitous computing, ambient intelligence and pervasive networks are changing the way humans interact with everything.

Welcome to The Platform, a new column by ReadWrite mobile editor and senior writer Dan Rowinski on how ubiquitous computing, pervasive networks and the power of the cloud are fundamentally changing everything.

Extraordinary power is found in people’s pockets these days. The ability to tap any piece of information, contextualize any act or help make a decision is just a swipe away. Human behaviors, industry verticals, acts of communication and promises of the future are all touched by the rise of powerful computers and sensors.

Look at what's happening in technology: Everywhere you look, cheap and potent computers are infiltrating every aspect of our lives. Our cars, our clothes, our factories and storefronts, our eye glasses and our wrists. Smartphones and tablets are just the beginning of the evolutionary shift where all the elements that touch our lives are digitized, gadget-ized, hooked to the Internet and computed in the cloud. The impact have profound consequences—positive and negative—that we can only begin to imagine.

The Platform will examine this epoch shift, providing commentary and analysis, reporting and critique. The Platform will be a resource to the curious and the creative, the builders and the artists.

You're out running errands on a Saturday morning. You’ve spent the day shopping for new clothes to add to your new spring fashion. On your way around town, you probably stopped for coffee, a sandwich or a pack of gum. You may even pop into the hardware store to grab some nails to hang a painting at home, or the local Wal-Mart or Target to get a new laundry basket. So what do all of these activities have in common?

You’re spending money.

As you're completing your errands, you're performing the same action at any given stop. When it's time to check out, you reach into your pocket and pull out your wallet. You hand a debit or credit card to the cashier, or maybe cash. Chances are, you're not reaching for your smartphone to pay.

Three years have passed since the notion of mobile payments—paying at a physical retail location with your smartphone—reached the height of its hype cycle. In 2011, the talk on entrepreneurs’ lips was that technologies like smartphones, mobile wallets, QR codes and Near Field Communications (NFC) would soon fundamentally change how people make transactions.

The reality of getting people and stores to actually accept mobile payments, however, has been a different reality entirely.

For technologists, the thought of upending the way people pay comes down to two factors: 1) Money is essentially a data science; and 2) Technological advances and ubiquitous computers provide the platform to change a fundamental human behavior.

Still, each company that has tried to jump into the payments fray has learned one resolute and inarguable fact: Payments are hard.

4 Examples Of Struggle

Humor me while we do a little blind comparison of four companies that have attempted to gain traction in the payments space. All four have run into different problems that tend to plague most company that try to break into the payments space.

Company A started as a geo-location game similar to Foursquare, but after a couple of years of mediocrity, it pivoted to payments with an app, a merchandizing formula and QR codes. Today, it continues to grow but has not achieved the type of scale that its investors had envisioned.

Company B started bringing credit card payments everywhere five years ago by attaching a card-reading dongle to people’s smartphones and tablets. The company raised more than $300 million in funding, achieved immense scale and popularity, but despite processing $20 billion in payments last year and making $550 million in revenue, still was in the red in 2013—to the tune of $100 million.

Company C started as a classroom project at Stanford by a wunderkind founder that thought he could change the way people pay with their smartphones. The company raised the largest seed round in the history of Silicon Valley startups and proceeded to go through one controversy after another. Despite the hype and promises, the company has yet to release a product.

Company D imagined a way to change how smartphone payments are processed at physical locations that don't have QR code scanners or NFC. It raised an over-subscribed $10 million round and began to make partnerships and ship its dongles. The venture capital and technology communities applauded it but saw it as a stopgap invention on its way to more credible solutions.

Company A is Boston-based LevelUp, which used to be SCVNGR before it folded up that part of its business. Company B is Square, the dongle-based smartphone payments system started by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Company C is the travesty that is Clinkle, started by Stanford graduate Lucas Duplan. Company D is called Loop, which uses a dongle/smartphone case approach to allow for ubiquitous mobile payments by tapping into a point-of-sale system’s existing electromagnetic card scanners.

See also: Here's A Heavy Dose Of Reality For New Mobile Payments Startup Clinkle

Each of these companies has issues. Whether it's revenue and profitability (Square), achieving meaningful scale through a sales technology platform (LevelUp), drumming up consumer-side adoption with an in-between technology solution (Loop) or just getting out of your own way to actually create a business (Clinkle), all of these payments companies face unique challenges.

But these companies aren't alone in their hardship. Google took at stab at mobile payments with its NFC-based Wallet, but has not been able to break into retail locations like it would have hoped. Cellular operators like T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon created the Isis mobile wallet with NFC, which was basically dead on arrival. What we are seeing across the entire payments technology ecosystem is that most of the basic tenets of business are extremely difficult.

LevelUp & The Slow Path

Boston-based LevelUp made a lot of noise in 2012. It touted its new platform as a mobile wallet that can be used at participating locations by scanning a QR code, but its goal was to create a world called “interchange zero,” where the cost of making a transaction is 0% of a purchase (most payment processors like Visa or Mastercard charge around 2.75%). LevelUp hired a large sales force and invested in turning its app into an open platform that retailers could implement both online and off. 

For the next year and a half, LevelUp was hardly heard from. You would see it in the wild on occasion (especially in the Boston area), but CEO Seth Priesbatch and his crew did not make many waves in 2013. 

Last week, Priebatsch invited ReadWrite to LevelUp headquarters to talk about progress. The small payments company was very candid about its numbers, showing progress while acknowledging it is not yet profitable and that it's had to make adjustments in its approach to dealing with market realities.

Here are some of the numbers that show the traction that LevelUp is getting:

  • 14,000 merchants in the U.S. accept LevelUp, though not all are active.
  • LevelUp is integrated into 50 point-of-sale partners.
  • The average transaction is a little less than $10.
  • About 10% of all charges are redeemed credit through LevelUp’s rewards and loyalty marketing program for retailers.
  • LevelUp makes 2.5% of every dollar of redeemed credit. For instance, if a user spends $100 through the app and 10% of that is redeemed credit, LevelUp makes $2.50.
  • Most merchants accepting LevelUp in the U.S. are in the food industry.
  • LevelUp is processing about 600,000 transactions a month.

As of last week, LevelUp charges 1.95% for interchange. This means Levelup’s back-end interchange rate has dropped from 5.2% in February 2013 to about 2% today. LevelUp has lowered its own interchange rate by aggregating individual consumer purchases together over a period of time to lessen the interchange on any single purchase.

LevelUp also has an open software developer kit (SDK) where developers can build apps using LevelUp as a processor without necessarily using the company’s marketing and loyalty programs. Priebatsch recognizes the value in being the pipe and he is fighting to lower interchange to bring in more volume for his platform.

If we compare LevelUp with a company like Square, the difference is almost laughable. But LevelUp is making money (if only in small amounts) and it has made the decision to focus more on engineering (about half of the company’s 85 employees are engineers) and relied less on a robust and expensive sales force to push its product, moving most of its sales into its partner channels. LevelUp is making incremental steps, which is not bad for a company that spends next to nothing on marketing and advertising. Priebatsch estimates the company will be profitable within the next year or so. 

The case for lowering interchange by companies like LevelUp is a strong one. Let’s take the case of Square, for instance. Yes, it is doing $20 billion in transaction volume, but losing $100 million last year is significant. Square tried out a program with smaller retailers where it would charge $275 per month as a flat interchange rate. As ReadWrite editor-in-chief Owen Thomas predicted when the program came out, Square lost a bundle of money. In February, Square quietly did away with the program and now charges industry-standard 2.75% per transaction. Merchants—like 1369 Coffee House in Cambridge, Massachusetts—saw its interchange fee rise from $275 to well over $1,000 for the month. 

LevelUp doesn’t want to make money off interchange, but rather take a slice of your marketing and loyalty budget. It may seem like fuzzy math, but if you charge nothing for interchange and take 2.5% through a marketing program, isn’t it just replacing the interchange? Well, yes and no. Most merchants are going to have some type of marketing budget anyway, where they pay some third-party to provide a solution. LevelUp wants to be that third party.

The Adoption Quandary Quote Of The Day: "I hold that the mark of a genuine idea is that its possibility can be proved, either a priori by conceiving its cause or reason, or a posteriori when experience teaches us that it is in fact in nature." ~ Gottfried Leibniz, creator of calculus.

Every time I talk to a mobile payments company, the same question comes up: Is growth happening from the consumer side, or the merchant side?

It is this type of chicken-and-egg question that typifies the adoption of any platform, mobile payments included. 

The historical route to scale adoption has been to make partnerships with major players like banks, payment processors, merchants and technology companies like Apple or Google. A large sales force is needed to actually get the payments system into merchant locations and point-of-sale providers. Going down the partnerships and sales route is logical for these companies because, we have to realize, these are businesses with targets and goals. It is much easier to stand up at the quarterly meeting and list off all the deals you have made with tangible businesses than to point at vague charts of consumer adoption (which is something social-based startups thrive on). 

In payments, it is very difficult to scale from the consumer side. Companies need technological solutions that are ubiquitous and without barrier. If I can use my Square or LevelUp wallet at one merchant but not another, I am less likely to use it at all. Technological ubiquity across the entire landscape just does not exist for these would-be disruptors of how you pay, and the key holders—Visa, MasterCard, American Express, et al—are not too keen on opening the door too widely for companies that could cut into their bottom line.

Payment companies' worries naturally turn to merchant solutions, which play in the same realm as the companies they are trying to disrupt. Focus turns to interchange and marketing, loyalty programs and gadgets. If I can put a QR scanner or a dongle in your store, I win that store, right?

The case for Loop is that it wants to eliminate those technological barriers, providing a solution where a merchant doesn’t need a LevelUp scanner or a Square card reader or NFC. But its dongles and cases are neither practical nor convenient. Like just about everybody else in the payments space, Loop is a technology trying to change a behavior that doesn’t necessarily need to be changed.

No matter how the problem is sliced, the basic fact keeps coming up over and over again: Payments are hard. Adoption, revenue, consumer and merchant behavior, partnerships, sales, advertising and people are simultaneously the largest enablers of the changing landscape of payments... and also its biggest inhibitors.

Lead image courtesy of Reuters

Categories: Technology

VK CEO Fired, Says Company Under Kremlin Control

Slashdot - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 10:51am
An anonymous reader writes "The embattled founder of VK, Russia's largest social networking site, said this week that the company is now 'under the complete control' of two oligarchs with close ties to President Vladimir Putin. In a VK post published Monday, Pavel Durov said he's been fired as CEO of the website, claiming that he was pushed out on a technicality, and that he only heard of it through media reports."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

In the US, Rich Now Work Longer Hours Than the Poor

Slashdot - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 10:10am
ananyo (2519492) writes "Overall working hours have fallen over the past century. But the rich have begun to work longer hours than the poor. In 1965 men with a college degree, who tend to be richer, had a bit more leisure time than men who had only completed high school. But by 2005 the college-educated had eight hours less of it a week than the high-school grads. Figures from the American Time Use Survey, released last year, show that Americans with a bachelor's degree or above work two hours more each day than those without a high-school diploma. Other research shows that the share of college-educated American men regularly working more than 50 hours a week rose from 24% in 1979 to 28% in 2006, but fell for high-school dropouts. The rich, it seems, are no longer the class of leisure. The reasons are complex but include rising income inequality but also the availability of more intellectually stimulating, well-remunerated work." (And, as the article points out, "Increasing leisure time [among less educated workers] probably reflects a deterioration in their employment prospects as low-skill and manual jobs have withered.")

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Lytro’s Magical DSLR-Like Camera Lets You Refocus Photos After You Take Them

Wired - Top Stories - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 9:47am
With a new camera called the Illum, a DSLR-style shooter with an 8X optical zoom and high-speed, sports-worthy shutter, Lytro is hoping to tap into the creative professional market.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Netflix Plans To Raise Prices By "$1 or $2 a Month"

Slashdot - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 9:28am
New submitter Burphytez (3625571) writes with this excerpt of a Reuters story, as carried by the Chicago Tribune: "Video streaming service Netflix Inc said it intends to raise the monthly subscription price for new customers by $1 or $2 a month to help the company buy more movies and TV shows and improve service for its 48 million global subscribers. Investors welcomed the announcement by Netflix, which had suffered from a consumer exodus and stock plunge after it announced an unpopular price increase in July 2011. The company's shares jumped 6.7 percent in after-hours trading to $371.97, after the company released plans for a price hike and posted a rise in first-quarter profit that beat Wall Street expectations."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

AT&T creates $500M joint venture for a Netflix-style TV service

paidContent - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 9:25am

AT&T, the nation’s second largest broadband provider and wireless company, is getting into the streaming business with a $500 million joint venture created to acquire, invest in and launch a Netflix-style video streaming service. As the television distribution model that’s been in place for decades collapses online, this deal marks the first time a big U.S. ISP has decided to go over the top with a TV service.

AT&T has joined forces with media and entertainment company the Chernin Group, and together the two companies have committed $500 million in funding to the venture. More detailed financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed. However, the Chernin Group will bring assets to the venture, including the contribution of its majority stake in Crunchyroll, a subscription video on demand service.

From the press release, it is unclear exactly what type of content the joint venture hopes to offer. The Crunchyroll content is mentioned in the release, and Chernin has a quote that seems to indicate this is about providing more content outside of the traditional broadcast options. From the release:

“‘A critical part of The Chernin Group’s strategy has been our significant focus on the online video industry, and joining forces with AT&T only further underscores our strategic commitment in this area as operators, investors and programmers,’ said Peter Chernin, Chairman and CEO, The Chernin Group. ‘Consumers are increasingly viewing video content on their phones, tablets, computers, game consoles and connected TVs on mobile and broadband networks. AT&T’s massive reach on those platforms across mobile and broadband and their commitment to the online video space make them the perfect fit for this venture with us.’”

If done well, this joint venture is a significant move and could break down the geographical barriers for buying pay TV. If the content is robust enough on the AT&T effort, Comcast subscribers or FiOS pay TV subscribers might elect to choose the AT&T offering instead, destroying the triple play bundle and throwing content companies into a tailspin.

If the venture is done poorly, or with a lack of compelling content, the new offering will join a crowded field of big over-the-top providers and perhaps help drive up up content acquisition costs. This might validate Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Instant Video and YouTube’s efforts, but it’s also a big new player to look out for.

Categories: Business News

ReadWrite At 11: Mapping The Future

ReadWriteWeb - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 9:06am

Eleven years ago, on April 20, 2003, ReadWrite founder Richard MacManus wrote this site’s first post, declaring that “[o]rdinary people should be able to write to the Web, just as easily as they can browse and read it."

In the decade that followed, ReadWrite has lived up to that mission. And as MacManus’s vision came to fruition, something magical happened: The Web became the world, and the world became the Web.

This One Goes To Eleven

Since I joined ReadWrite a year ago, I’ve led a team devoted to mapping the programmable world, finding every darkened corner and shedding light so we can better understand it. As chroniclers of technology, we focus on the new. But our heritage informs us every day: We were around to chronicle the social, mobile, and visual revolutions that reshaped the Web, which gives us unique insights and the ability to place the rapid-fire changes we see in the context of what came before.

Because MacManus was an early champion and observer of the Internet of Things—the spread of connectivity to devices that look nothing like computers or phones—we were able to launch dedicated coverage of the impact of digital technologies on our homes, cars, and bodies.

We tackled a wide variety of topics, from Google’s Chromecast streaming-media device to Raspberry Pi, the DIY-hardware enabler and GitHub, the social-coding service. We found our best stories didn’t address our audience narrowly as consumers or businesspeople or developers, but instead spoke to them as people whose passion for technology took multiple forms.

And—most encouragingly—we found an immense hunger to learn. If I’ve learned anything from the past year, it's that ReadWrite is at its best when we serve as guides. Our explainers and tutorials—on topics as diverse as upgrading to iOS 7 and adopting Hadoop—proved immensely popular.

It is in some ways a triumph merely to have lasted 11 years in the fast-moving world of digital publishing. ReadWrite's ambitions go far beyond that: We aim to be the indispensable resource for those trying to understand a world where technology is accessible to everyone. And we also aim to do our part in creating that world. Thanks for joining us on the journey so far, and for the years to come.

Photo: Past and present ReadWrite staff at the 2014 South By Southwest Interactive Festival (not pictured: Fruzsina Eördögh)

Categories: Technology

Not Just a Cleanup Any More: LibreSSL Project Announced

Slashdot - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 8:48am
An anonymous reader writes "As some of you may know, the OpenBSD team has started cleaning up the OpenSSL code base. LibreSSL is primarily developed by the OpenBSD Project, and its first inclusion into an operating system will be in OpenBSD 5.6. In the wake of Heartbleed, the OpenBSD group is creating a simpler, cleaner version of the dominant OpenSSL. Theo de Raadt, founder and leader of OpenBSD and OpenSSH, tells ZDNet that the project has already removed 90,000 lines of C code and 150,000 lines of content. The project further promises multi-OS support once they have proper funding and the right portability team in place. Please consider donating to support LibreSSL via the OpenBSD foundation."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

GitHub Founder Resigns Following Harassment Investigation

Slashdot - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 8:04am
An anonymous reader writes "Late Yesterday, GitHub concluded its investigation regarding sexual harassment within its work force, and although it found no evidence of 'legal wrongdoing,' Tom Preston-Werner, one of its founding members implicated in the investigation resigned. In its statement, GitHub vows to implement 'a number of new HR and employee-led initiatives as well as training opportunities to make sure employee concerns and conflicts are taken seriously and dealt with appropriately.' Julie Ann Horvath, the former GitHub employee whose public resignation last month inspired the sexual harassment investigation, found the company's findings to be gratuitous and just plain wrong."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology