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  • Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality

    HughPickens.com writes Brian Fung writes in the Washington Post that Wikipedia has been a little hesitant to weigh in on net neutrality, the idea that all Web traffic should be treated equally by Internet service providers such as Comcast or Time Warner Cable. That's because the folks behind Wikipedia actually see a non-neutral Internet as one way to spread information cheaply to users in developing countries. With Wikipedia Zero, users in places like Pakistan and Malaysia can browse the site without it counting it counting against the data caps on their cellphones or tablets. This preferential treatment for Wikipedia's site helps those who can't afford to pay for pricey data — but it sets the precedent for deals that cut against the net neutrality principle. "We believe in net neutrality in America," says Gayle Karen Young adding that Wikipedia Zero requires a different perspective elsewhere. "Partnering with telecom companies in the near term, it blurs the net neutrality line in those areas. It fulfills our overall mission, though, which is providing free knowledge."

    Facebook and Google also operate programs internationally that are exempted from users' data caps — a tactic known somewhat cryptically as "zero rating". Facebook in particular has made "Facebook Zero" not just a sales pitch in developing markets but also part of an Internet.org initiative to expand access "to the two thirds of the world's population that doesn't have it." But a surprising decision in Chile shows what happens when policies of neutrality are applied without nuance. Chile recently put an end to the practice, widespread in developing countries, of big companies "zero-rating" access to their services. "That might seem perverse," says Glyn Moody, "since it means that Chilean mobile users must now pay to access those services, but it is nonetheless exactly what governments that have mandated net neutrality need to do."

    19 comments | 47 minutes ago

  • Firefox Will Soon Offer One-Click Buttons For Your Search Engines

    An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today unveiled some of the new search features coming to Firefox. The company says the new additions are "coming soon to a Firefox near you" but didn't give a more specific timeline. The news comes less than a week after Mozilla struck a deal with Yahoo to replace Google as the default search engine in its browser for U.S. users. At the time, the company said a new search experience was coming in December, so we're betting the search revamp will come with the release of Firefox 34, which is currently in beta. In the future release, when you type a search term into the Firefox search box, you will get a list of reorganized search suggestions from the default search provider. Better yet, a new array of buttons below these suggestions will let you pick which search engine you want to send the query to.

    99 comments | 2 days ago

  • About 40% of World Population Online, 90% of Offliners In Developing Countries

    New submitter lx76 writes: The International Telecommunications Union does research on telecommunications in society worldwide, from cellphones to internet use. Since 2009, on a yearly basis, they've released their research findings in a report called the Measuring Information Society Report. This year's report is over 200 pages long, illustrated with abundant graphs and tables (PDF). It's not a light read. But one of the interesting numbers is an index showing the divide in global connectivity. From the report: "Over the past year, the world witnessed continued growth in the uptake of ICT [Information and Communication Technology] and, by end 2014, almost 3 billion people will be using the Internet, up from 2.7 billion at end 2013..... Despite this encouraging progress, there are important digital divides that need to be addressed: 4.3 billion people are still not online, and 90 per cent of them live in the developing world."

    The report continues, "As this report finds, ICT performance is better in countries with higher shares of the population living in urban areas, where access to ICT infrastructure, usage and skills is more favorable. Yet it is precisely in poor and rural areas where ICTs can make a particularly significant impact." Projects like Google's Project Loon have their work cut out for them."

    45 comments | 2 days ago

  • Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

    _Sharp'r_ writes Two Stanford PhDs, Ross Koningstein and David Fork, worked for Google on the RE<C project to figure out how to make renewables cheaper than coal and solve climate change. After four years of study they gave up, determining "Renewable energy technologies simply won't work; we need a fundamentally different approach." As a result, is nuclear going to be acknowledged as the future of energy production?

    620 comments | 2 days ago

  • Big IT Vendors Mostly Mum On Commercial Drone Plans

    alphadogg writes: Word that the Federal Aviation Administration might take a very hard line on commercial drone use has those with designs on such activity nervous. But as for big enterprise IT vendors, it's really hard to tell what they think because they're keeping any plans in this field very hush-hush. More consumer oriented companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google are active, but companies like IBM and HP are quiet, while Microsoft affirms it has nothing doing. A former FAA lawyer says sitting on the sidelines even during this unsure regulatory period is probably not a great idea. "I have a hard time believing they don't have some sort of programs in place," attorney Mark Dombroff says.

    22 comments | 2 days ago

  • Google Chrome Will Block All NPAPI Plugins By Default In January

    An anonymous reader writes Google today provided an update on its plan to remove Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) from Chrome, which the company says will improve the browser's security, speed, and stability, as well as reduce complexity in the code base. In short, the latest timeline is as follows: Block all plugins by default in January 2015, disable support in April 2015, and remove support completely in September 2015. For context, Google first announced in September 2013 that it was planning to drop NPAPI. At the time, Google said anonymous Chrome usage data showed just six NPAPI plugins were used by more than 5 percent of users, and the company was hoping to remove support from Chrome "before the end of 2014, but the exact timing will depend on usage and user feedback."

    107 comments | 2 days ago

  • Book Review: Bulletproof SSL and TLS

    benrothke writes If SSL is the emperor's new clothes, then Ivan Ristic in Bulletproof SSL and TLS has shown that perhaps the emperor isn't wearing anything at all. There is a perception that if a web site is SSL secured, then it's indeed secure. Read a few pages in this important book, and the SSL = security myth is dispelled. For the first 8 of the 16 chapters, Ristic, one of the greatest practical SSL./TLS experts around, spends 230 pages showing countless weaknesses, vulnerabilities, attacks and other SSL weaknesses. He then spends the next 8 chapters showing how SSL can, if done correctly, be deployed to provide adequate security. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.

    88 comments | 2 days ago

  • Interviews: Ask the Hampton Creek Team About the Science and Future of Food

    samzenpus writes Hampton Creek is a food technology company that makes food healthier by utilizing a specially made egg substitute in food products. The company was selected by Bill Gates to be featured on his website in a story called, The Future of Food, and has raised $30 million in funding. Hampton Creek's latest product is called, Just Cookies, which is an eggless chocolate chip cookie dough, but it is their eggless mayo that has been in the news lately. Unilever, which manufactures Hellmann's and Best Foods mayonnaise, is suing Hampton Creek claiming that the name Just Mayo is misleading to consumers. Named one of Entrepreneur Magazine's 100 Brilliant Companies and one of CNBC's Top 50 Disruptors, Hampton Creek has picked up some impressive talent including the former lead data scientist at Google Maps, Dan Zigmond. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Dan and the Hampton Creek team have agreed to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

    143 comments | 2 days ago

  • Google's Project Loon Can Now Launch Up To 20 Balloons Per Day, Fly 10x Longer

    An anonymous reader writes Google [Thursday] shared an update from Project Loon, the company's initiative to bring high-speed Internet access to remote areas of the world via hot air balloons. Google says it now has the ability to launch up to 20 of these balloons per day. This is in part possible because the company has improved its autofill equipment to a point where it can fill a balloon in under five minutes. This is a major achievement, given that Google says filling a Project Loon balloon with enough air so that it is ready for flight is the equivalent of inflating 7,000 party balloons.

    114 comments | 5 days ago

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

    oyenamit writes Online shopping in India is still in its infancy but is growing tremendously to reach the mostly untapped market of 1.2 billion people. Invariably, the conflict between pure online retailers like Amazon and Flipkart and brick and mortar stores was bound to emerge. Unfortunately for Google's Android One, it has been on the receiving end of this friction. Leading brick and mortar retailers in India have refused to sell Android One handsets ever since the US company chose to launch its products exclusively online. The three Android One makers in India — Micromax, Karbonn and Spice — launched their handsets exclusively online in mid-September. When sales did not meet their expectations, they decided to release their products via the brick and mortar store channel. However, smaller retailer and mom-n-pop shops have decided to show their displeasure at having being left out of the launch by deciding not to stock Android One. The Android One phones, announced at the most recent Google I/O, are Google's attempt to bring stock Android (as on Google's Nexus devices) to emerging markets, with competent but not high-end phones.

    53 comments | 5 days ago

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

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

    161 comments | 5 days ago

  • The EU Has a Plan To Break Up Google

    An anonymous reader points out a report at the Financial Times (paywalled) which says the European Parliament is preparing to call for the break-up of Google. According to the draft seen by the FT, a potential solution to ongoing anti-trust concerns with Google is "unbundling search engines from other services." The article notes, "The European parliament has no formal power to split up companies, but has increasing influence on the commission, which initiates all EU legislation. The commission has been investigating concerns over Google’s dominance of online search for five years, with critics arguing that the company’s rankings favour its own services, hitting its rivals’ profits. Unbundling cannot be excluded, said Andreas Schwab, a German MEP who is one of the motion’s backers."

    325 comments | 5 days ago

  • Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions

    An anonymous reader writes: Everyone understands by now that ads fund most of the sites on the web. Other sites have put up paywalls or started subscription bonuses, with varying success. Google, one of the web's biggest ad providers, saw a problem with that: it's a huge pain for readers to manage subscriptions for all the sites they visit — often more trouble than it's worth. And, since so few people sign up, the subscription fees have to be pretty high. Now, Google has launched a service called Contributor to try to fix this situation.

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

    308 comments | 5 days ago

  • The Man Who Made Tetris

    rossgneumann writes Life gets pretty chill after creating 'Tetris' and escaping the KGB. A quick web search for "Alexey Pajitnov" brings up pages of articles and interviews that fixate only on his seminal creation—a work that remains, far and away, the best selling video game of all time. But clearly, there's more to the man than just Tetris. Meeting Pajitnov himself led me to wonder about, well, everything else. What was the Tetris-less life of Alexey Pajitnov?

    37 comments | about a week ago

  • Google Announces Image Recognition Advance

    Rambo Tribble writes Using machine learning techniques, Google claims to have produced software that can better produce natural-language descriptions of images. This has ramifications for uses such as better image search and for better describing the images for the blind. As the Google people put it, "A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes it's the words that are the most useful ..."

    29 comments | about a week ago

  • Apple Swaps "Get" Button For "Free" To Avoid Confusion Over In-App Purchases

    New submitter lazarus (2879) writes Apple is falling in line with the European Commission's request that app sellers do more to stop inadvertent in-app purchases. Following Google's lead, Cupertino has removed all instances of the word "free" within its iOS and Mac app stores (with the exception of its own apps, like iMovie), and replaced them with the term "Get." The new label clarifies what users can expect when downloading an app. Apps previously labeled as "Free" will now have a "Get" label. If those apps include in-app purchases, a small gray "In-App Purchase" label will appear below the "Get" button.

    103 comments | about a week ago

  • CMI Director Alex King Talks About Rare Earth Supplies (Video 2)

    Yesterday we ran video #1 of 2 about the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) at the Iowa State Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. They have partners from other national laboratories, universities, and industry, too. Obviously there is more than enough information on this subject that Dr. King can easily fill two 15-minute videos, not to mention so many Google links that instead of trying to list all of them, we're giving you one link to Google using the search term "rare earths." Yes, we know Rare Earth would be a great name for a rock band. But the mineral rare earths are important in the manufacture of items ranging from strong magnets to touch screens and rechargeable batteries, so please watch the video(s) or at least read the transcript(s). (Alternate Video Link)

    11 comments | about a week ago

  • Google Maps Crunches Data, Tells You When To Drive On Thanksgiving

    Nerval's Lobster writes Whatever your plans for Thanksgiving, Google can offer some advice: try to avoid driving anywhere the day before. Analysts from the search-engine giant's Google Maps division crunched traffic data from 21 U.S. cities over the past two years and found that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is by far the worst traffic day that week, with some notable exceptions. (In Honolulu, Providence, and San Francisco, the worst traffic is always on Saturday; in Boston, it's Tuesday.) Unfortunately, Wednesday is often the only available travel day for many Americans—but Google thinks they can beat the worst of the traffic if they leave before 2 P.M. or after 7 P.M. on that day. Traffic on Thanksgiving itself is also light, according to the data. When it comes to driving back home, Sunday beats Saturday from a traffic perspective. According to Google Maps' aggregated trends, Americans also seek out "ham shop," "pie shop," and "liquor store" on the day before Thanksgiving, as they rush to secure last-minute items.

    62 comments | about a week ago

  • Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust

    the_newsbeagle writes In 2007, Google boldly declared a new initiative to invent a green energy technology that produced cheaper electricity than coal-fired power plants. Sure, energy researchers had been hammering at this task for decades, but Google hoped to figure it out in a few years. They didn't. Instead, Google admitted defeat and shut down the project in 2011. In a admirable twist, however, two of the project's engineers then dedicated themselves to learning from the project's failure. What did it mean that one of the world's most ambitious and capable innovation companies couldn't invent a cheap renewable energy tech?

    219 comments | about a week ago

  • WhatsApp To Offer End-to-End Encryption

    L-One-L-One (173461) writes In a surprise move, nine months after being bought by Facebook, WhatsApp has begun rolling out end-to-end encryption for its users. With true end-to-end encryption data becomes unaccessible to admins of WhatsApp or law enforcement authorities. This new feature first proposed on Android only has been developed in cooperation with Open Whisper Systems, based on TextSecure. With hundreds of million users, WhatsApp becomes by far the largest secure messaging application. FBI Director James Comey might not be pleased. Do you have a current favorite for encrypted online chat?

    93 comments | about a week ago

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