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Communications

Deutsche Telecom Calls For Google and Facebook To Be Regulated Like Telcos 68

Posted by timothy
from the oh-definitely-trust-the-government dept.
An anonymous reader writes Tim Hoettges, the CEO of the world's third-largest telecoms company, has called for Google and Facebook to be regulated in the same way that telcos are, declaring that "There is a convergence between over-the-top web companies and classic telcos" and "We need one level regulatory environment for us all." The Deutsche Telekom chief was speaking at Monday's Mobile World Congress, and further argued for a loosening of the current regulations which telcos operate under, in order to provide the infrastructure development that governments and policy bodies are asking of them. Hoettges' imprecation comes in the light of news about the latest Google Dance — an annual change in ranking criteria which boosts some businesses and ruins others. The case for and against regulating Google-level internet entities comes down to one question: who do you trust to 'not be evil'?
Google

Google+ Divided Into Photos and Streams, With New Boss 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the judgment-of-solomon dept.
An anonymous reader writes It seems Google+ will see some significant changes under new boss Bradley Horowitz. Google+ will be separated into different products: Photos and Hangouts will be split out, and the social part is now called "the stream". From the article: "Google+ has taken a lot of criticism — notably the infamous 'ghost town' knock that it's devoid of users and concerns about Google's attempts to force its relevance by tying it in with functions like search results and YouTube comments. But Google executives have denied the 'ghost town criticism over and over. In part that's because the company used Google+ to describe more than just its Facebook-esque service for posting and commenting — the part now called Streams. For Google, Google+ also has been the "social spine" that unifies Google users' activities under a single unified identity."
Education

Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook Press WA For $40M For New UW CS Building 102

Posted by timothy
from the why-not-build-10,000-garages? dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Nice computer industry you got there. Hate to see something bad happen to it." That's the gist of a letter sent by Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Code.org, and other tech giants earlier this week asking the WA State Legislature to approve $40M in capital spending to help fund a new $110M University of Washington computer science building ($70M will be raised privately). "As representatives of companies and businesses that rely on a ready supply of high quality computer science graduates," wrote the letter's 23 signatories, "we believe it is critical for the State to invest in this sector in a way that ensures its vibrancy and growth. Our vision is for Washington to continue to lead the way in technology and computer science, but we must keep pace with the vast demand." The UW Dept. of Computer Science & Engineering profusely thanked tech leaders for pressing for a new building, which UW explained "will accommodate a doubling of our enrollment." Coincidentally, the corporate full-press came not long after the ACM Education Council Diversity Taskforce laid out plans "to get companies to press universities to use more resources to create more seats in CS classes" to address what it called "the desperate gap between the rising demand for CS education and the too-few seats available.
Businesses

Teamsters Seek To Unionize More Tech Shuttle Bus Drivers In Silicon Valley 300

Posted by samzenpus
from the shuttle-together dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about the effort to unionize shuttle drivers in Silicon Valley. "Shuttle bus drivers for five prominent tech companies will decide whether to unionize on Friday in a vote that has the potential to dramatically expand organized labor's territory in Silicon Valley and embolden others in the tech industry's burgeoning class of service workers to demand better working conditions. Drivers who ferry Yahoo, Apple, Genentech, eBay and Zynga workers -- all employed by contractor Compass Transportation -- will decide whether to join the Teamsters union in an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Union leaders say they want to bring the drivers into the fold so they can negotiate better pay and benefits -- as well as relief from a split shift that has the drivers working morning and evening shifts with no pay in between. A contract the Teamsters struck over the weekend for Facebook's shuttle bus drivers, who work for Loop Transportation, offers a glimpse of what may be possible: paid sick and vacation time, full health care coverage and wages of up to $27.50 an hour."
Facebook

Facebook Puts Users On Suicide Watch 186

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-an-eye-on-things dept.
Mark Wilson writes A few months ago Twitter was criticized for teaming up with suicide prevention charity Samaritans to automatically monitor for key words and phrases that could indicate that someone was struggling to cope with life. Despite the privacy concerns that surrounded Samaritans Radar, Facebook has decided that it is going to launch a similar program in a bid to prevent suicides. Working with mental health organizations including Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and Save.org, Facebook aims to provide greater help and support for anyone considering suicide or self-harm.
Facebook

Facebook's Colonies 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the sun-always-sets-on-the-facebook-empire dept.
sarahnaomi writes: Facebook this week released a major report on global internet access, as part of the company's Internet.org campaign, which aims to bring cheap internet to new markets in partnership with seven mobile companies. Facebook says 1.39 billion people used its product in December 2014, and it's natural for the company to try to corral the other four-fifths of the planet. But aside from ideals and growth markets, the report highlights a tension inherent to the question of access: When Facebook sets sail to disconnected markets, what version of the internet will it bring? In its report, Facebook advocates for closing the digital divide as quickly as we can, which is a good thing. But when Facebook argues that, "as use of the internet continues to expand, it will exert a powerful effect on the global economy, particularly in the developing world," it's arguing that any increase in access is inherently good, which isn't necessarily the case.
Security

Schneier: Everyone Wants You To Have Security, But Not From Them 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Bruce Schneier has written another insightful piece about the how modern tech companies treat security. He points out that most organizations will tell you to secure your data while at the same time asking to be exempt from that security. Google and Facebook want your data to be safe — on their servers so they can analyze it. The government wants you to encrypt your communications — as long as they have the keys. Schneier says, "... we give lots of companies access to our data because it makes our lives easier. ... The reason the Internet is a worldwide mass-market phenomenon is that all the technological details are hidden from view. Someone else is taking care of it. We want strong security, but we also want companies to have access to our computers, smart devices, and data. We want someone else to manage our computers and smart phones, organize our e-mail and photos, and help us move data between our various devices. ... We want our data to be secure, but we want someone to be able to recover it all when we forget our password. We'll never solve these security problems as long as we're our own worst enemy.
AI

Facebook AI Director Discusses Deep Learning, Hype, and the Singularity 71

Posted by timothy
from the you-like-this dept.
An anonymous reader writes In a wide-ranging interview with IEEE Spectrum, Yann LeCun talks about his work at the Facebook AI Research group and the applications and limitations of deep learning and other AI techniques. He also talks about hype, 'cargo cult science', and what he dislikes about the Singularity movement. The discussion also includes brain-inspired processors, supervised vs. unsupervised learning, humanism, morality, and strange airplanes.
Businesses

Apple To Invest $2B Building Green Data Centers In Ireland and Denmark 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the going-green dept.
stephendavion writes Amid deeper investigations into how Apple may be using its operations in Ireland as a means for tax avoidance on tens of billions of dollars in profit, the iPhone maker has announced that it will spend nearly $2 billion (€1.7 billion) to develop two new 100% renewable energy data centers in Europe. The centers — which will use wind power and other green fuel sources — will be located in Athenry, Ireland, and Viborg, Denmark. Apple said that they will power services such as apps in the App Store, Siri and iMessage. Both locations will run on 100 percent renewable energy and Apple said they will have the 'lowest environmental impact' of its data centers thus far. It will also be following in the footsteps of companies like Facebook, which has also built sustainable data center operations out in Europe.
Security

Ars: SSL-Busting Code That Threatened Lenovo Users Found In a Dozen More Apps 113

Posted by timothy
from the keeps-on-giving dept.
Ars Technica reports on the continuing revelations about the same junkware that Lenovo has shipped on their computers, but which is known now to be present in at least 14 pieces of software. The list of software known to use the same HTTPS-breaking technology recently found preinstalled on Lenovo laptops has risen dramatically with the discovery of at least 12 new titles, including one that's categorized as a malicious trojan by a major antivirus provider. ... What all these applications have in common is that they make people less secure through their use of an easily obtained root CA [certificate authority], they provide little information about the risks of the technology, and in some cases they are difficult to remove," Matt Richard, a threats researcher on the Facebook security team, wrote in Friday's post. "Furthermore, it is likely that these intercepting SSL proxies won't keep up with the HTTPS features in browsers (e.g., certificate pinning and forward secrecy), meaning they could potentially expose private data to network attackers. Some of these deficiencies can be detected by antivirus products as malware or adware, though from our research, detection successes are sporadic."
Businesses

Advice on How to Start an IT Business (Video) 91

Posted by Roblimo
from the if-you're-the-boss-and-you-don't-like-the-boss-you-have-a-big-problem dept.
Lee Drake owns a small IT service and sales company in Rochester, New York, called OS Cubed. He was a cubicle denizen many years ago, and didn't like it. So he started his own business, first with a partner and later as the sole owner. Rochester may be part of the infamous "rust belt," but Lee seems to be doing well, to the point where he's happy to pass on some tips about how to start and grow your own IT business. While Lee's company specializes in "Microsoft solutions," his advice applies to almost any IT business -- and almost any other kind of business, too.
Google

Peak Google: The Company's Time At the Top May Be Nearing Its End 271

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-aint-what-is-used-to-be dept.
HughPickens.com writes Farhad Manjoo writes at the NYT that at first glance Google looks plenty healthy, but growth in Google's primary business, search advertising, has flattened out at about 20 percent a year for the last few years. Although Google has spent considerable resources inventing technologies for the future, it has failed to turn many of its innovations into new moneymakers. According to Manjoo, as smartphones eclipse laptop and desktop computers to become the planet's most important computing devices, the digital ad business is rapidly changing and Facebook, Google's archrival for advertising dollars, has been quick to profit from the shift. Here's why: The advertising business is split, roughly, into two. On one side are direct-response ads meant to induce an immediate purchase: Think classifieds, the Yellow Pages, catalogs or Google's own text-based ads running alongside its search results. But the bulk of the ad industry is devoted to something called brand ads, the ads you see on television and print magazines that work on your emotions in the belief that, in time, your dollars will follow. "Google doesn't create immersive experiences that you get lost in," says Ben Thompson. "Google creates transactional services. You go to Google to search, or for maps, or with something else in mind. And those are the types of ads they have. But brand advertising isn't about that kind of destination. It's about an experience." According to Thompson the future of online advertising looks increasingly like the business of television and is likely to be dominated by services like Facebook, Snapchat or Pinterest that keep people engaged for long periods of time and whose ads are proving to be massively more effective and engaging than banner advertisements.

In less than five years, Facebook has also built an enviable ad-technology infrastructure, a huge sales team that aims to persuade marketers of the benefits of Facebook ads over TV ads, and new ways for brands to measure how well their ads are doing. These efforts have paid off quickly: In 2014 Facebook sold $11.5 billion in ads, up 65 percent over 2013. Google will still make a lot of money if it doesn't dominate online ads the way it does now. But it will need to find other businesses to keep growing. This is why Google is spending on projects like a self-driving car, Google Glass, fiber-optic lines in American cities, space exploration, and other audacious innovations that have a slim chance of succeeding but might revolutionize the world if they do. But the far-out projects remind Thompson of Microsoft, which has also invested heavily in research and development, and has seen little return on its investments. "To me the Microsoft comparison can't be more clear. This is the price of being so successful — what you're seeing is that when a company becomes dominant, its dominance precludes it from dominating the next thing. It's almost like a natural law of business."
Facebook

Facebook Adds Legacy Contact Feature In Case You Die Before It Does 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the after-you're-gone dept.
alphadogg writes "Facebook has added an option for users to delegate management of their account for when they die. The idea is to avoid awkward lingering Facebook pages after a person passes on, perhaps featuring images or posts that someone would rather not be remembered by....This isn't the first time Facebook has put thought into what happens to users' accounts when the users die. A year ago the social network outlined a more flexible approach to memorializing accounts. Now memorialized accounts will have the word "Remembering" hovering above a person's name.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF: Hundreds of S. Carolina Prisoners Sent To Solitary For Social Media Use 176

Posted by timothy
from the don't-you-have-enough-friends-already? dept.
According to the EFF's Deep LInks, Through a request under South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act, EFF found that, over the last three years, prison officials have brought more than 400 hundred disciplinary cases for "social networking" — almost always for using Facebook. The offenses come with heavy penalties, such as years in solitary confinement and deprivation of virtually all privileges, including visitation and telephone access. In 16 cases, inmates were sentenced to more than a decade in what’s called disciplinary detention, with at least one inmate receiving more than 37 years in isolation. ... The sentences are so long because SCDC issues a separate Level 1 violation for each day that an inmate accesses a social network. An inmate who posts five status updates over five days, would receive five separate Level 1 violations, while an inmate who posted 100 updates in one day would receive only one. In other words, if a South Carolina inmate caused a riot, took three hostages, murdered them, stole their clothes, and then escaped, he could still wind up with fewer Level 1 offenses than an inmate who updated Facebook every day for two weeks.
Facebook

Facebook Launches ThreatExchange To Let Companies Share Threat Info 30

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader writes Facebook today launched ThreatExchange, described as "an API-based clearinghouse for security threat information." It's really a social platform, which Facebook naturally excels at building, which allows companies to share with each other details about malware and phishing attacks. Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Yahoo participated in ThreatExchange and gave feedback as Facebook was developing it. New contributors Bitly and Dropbox have also recently joined, bringing the initial participant list to seven major tech companies.
Social Networks

Inside the Internet's Hidden Science Factory 31

Posted by samzenpus
from the surviving-on-surveys dept.
tcd004 writes Sarah Marshall has completed roughly 20,000 academic surveys. Clay Hamilton has finished about 40,000. Marshall and Hamilton are part of a small but highly-active community of paid online study participants on Amazon's Mechanical Turk who generate data at break-neck speed to fuel modern scientific research. But can a person who's completed thousands of surveys still provide good data? Here's a look at the humans feeding science from inside the machine.
Television

Something Resembling 'The Wheel of Time' Aired Last Night On FXX 54

Posted by Soulskill
from the like-sherlock-but-trying-to-solve-asmodean's-murder dept.
eldavojohn writes: If you didn't partake in the DDOS attack on Dragonmount as fans tried to figure out just what the %&#% was going on last night, you should probably prepare yourself for Billy Zane filled disappointment and watch a curious pilot covering the prologue of The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan that apparently aired around 01:30 AM Eastern time on FXX. The reviews of said pilot are unkind and appear to contain question marks all the way down starting with Jordan's Widow disavowing its authorization.

The world of film and TV development is a confusing one, but it appears that NBC initially bought options to turn it into a mini series which were then optioned by Universal/Red Eagle Entertainment in conjunction with Red Eagle Games to do a coordinated release. Red Eagle games announced a combined effort with Jet Set games and around 2012 began releasing information on an "Aiel War" project to target mobile gaming platforms. But that appeared to die with its failed kickstarter attempt. It is suspected that Red Eagle Entertainment is behind the odd FXX airing last night. Was this an eleventh hour "use it or lose it" move by Red Eagle Entertainment without Universal's knowledge? In any case, it was a secretive, odd, low-budget, disappointing start to The Wheel of Time in film.
Education

Arkansas Declares a High School CS Education State of Emergency 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the send-in-the-national-guard dept.
theodp writes: Aiming to deliver on Governor Asa Hutchinson's inspired-by-Code.org-and-others Plan For Job Creation Through Technology Education, the Arkansas House voted 99-0 last week to require high schools to offer [but not require] a course in computer science, either in a traditional or online setting, starting this fall. Hutchinson learned last December that the state has only 6 qualified instructors to teach CS to high school students, so it's envisioned that the courses will be offered online through Virtual Arkansas ("where AR kids are Our kids").

Interestingly, House Bill 1183 includes a pretty dire-sounding Emergency Clause: "It is found and determined by the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas that computer science and technology skills are of vital importance to meet the growing needs of the workforce; that public school students need opportunities to develop computer science and technology skills in order to be competitive in the future; and that this act is immediately necessary to ensure that the Department of Education has the time necessary to develop and modify academic standards for computer science courses before beginning of the 2015-2016 school year. Therefore, an emergency is declared to exist, and this act being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, and safety shall become effective on: (1) The date of its approval by the Governor."
Bitcoin

The Technologies That Betrayed Silk Road's Anonymity 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the little-mistakes dept.
itwbennett writes Silk Road was based on an expectation of anonymity: Servers operated within an anonymous Tor network. Transactions between buyers and sellers were conducted in bitcoin. Everything was supposedly untraceable. Yet prosecutors presented a wealth of digital evidence to convince the jury that Ross Ulbricht was Dread Pirate Roberts, the handle used by the chief operator of the site. From Bitcoin to server logins and, yes, Facebook, here's a look at 5 technologies that tripped Ulbricht up.
Google

The Prickly Partnership Between Uber and Google 77

Posted by samzenpus
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along? dept.
HughPickens.com writes Google, with billions of dollars in the bank and house-by-house maps of most of the planet, seemed like the perfect partner for Uber, the hugely popular ride-hailing service. But Mike Isaac writes in the NYT that just two years after Google's venture capital arm poured more than $250 million into Uber there are signs that the companies are more likely to be ferocious competitors than allies. Uber recently announced plans to develop self-driving cars, a longtime pet project at Google. Travis Kalanick, Uber's CEO, has publicly discussed what he sees as the inevitability of autonomous taxis, saying they could offer cheaper rides and a true alternative to vehicle ownership. "The Uber experience is expensive because it's not just the car but the other dude in the car," Kalanick said at a technology conference in 2014, referring to the expense of paying human drivers. "When there's no other dude in the car, the cost [of taking an Uber] gets cheaper than owning a vehicle." Uber is also adding engineers who are experts on mapping technology. And the company, based in San Francisco, has been in talks with Google's advertising archrival, Facebook, to find ways to work together.

Not to be outdone, Google has been experimenting with a ride-sharing app similar to Uber's and both companies have long toyed with the idea of offering same-day delivery of items like groceries and other staples. Last month Google announced it would start presenting data from third party applications inside Google Now, a service that displays useful information prominently on the screen of Android smartphones. Google said it had struck deals to draw data from such apps as Pandora, AirBnb, Zillow, and the ride-sharing service Lyft. The company most obviously missing from that list? Google's old and possibly former friend, Uber. According to Isaac, for young companies, even one as well funded as Uber, dancing with giants is a part of doing business — even if there is always a risk of getting squashed. "There are some hard lessons about the dangers of cooperation that are strongly in the memories of these companies," says John Morgan. "Something that makes partnering harder, even when it might make economic sense to do so."