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Businesses

How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D 15

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the cast-hostile-takeover dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sunday was the birthday of the late great Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and Futurama guest star. With the fifth edition of D&D soon to come out at Gen Con this year, Jon Peterson, author of Playing at the World, has released a new piece to answer a historical question: how was it, back in 1985, that Gary was ousted from TSR and control of D&D was taken away from him? Drawn from board meeting minutes, stock certificates, letters, and other first-hand sources, it's not a quick read or a very cheery one, but it shows how the greatest success of hobby games of the 1980s fell apart and marginalized its most famous designer."
Hardware

A Credit Card-Sized, Arduino-Based Game Device (Video) 31

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-quite-nanotech-but-moving-in-that-direction dept.
Slashdot's Tim Lord was cruising the halls at OSCON, where he spotted Kevin Bates and his tiny Arduino-based device, called the Arduboy. On Kevin's Tindie.com sales page, he says the games it can run include, "Space Rocks, Snake, Flappy Ball, Chess, Breakout, and many more...The most exciting one could be made by you!" || His work with Arduboy got Kevin invited to the recent White House Maker Faire, where he rubbed shoulders (and shot selfies with) Bill Nye the Science Guy, Will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas, and Arduino creator Massimo Banzi. || Does Kevin have a Kickstarter in the works? There's nothing about Arduboy on Kickstarter.com, and given the Arduboy's simplicity and low price (currently $50), plus stories about it everywhere from Time.com to engadget to Slashdot, he may not need any financing or capital to make his idea succeed. (Alternate Video Link)
Oracle

Oracle Offers Custom Intel Chips and Unanticipated Costs 91

Posted by timothy
from the your-fries-come-with-lobster dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "For some time, Intel has been offering custom-tweaked chips to big customers. While most of the companies that have taken them up on this offer, like Facebook and eBay, put the chips into servers meant for internal use, Oracle will now be selling systems running on custom Xeons directly to end users. Those customers need to be careful about how they configure those systems, though: in the new Oracle 12c, the in-memory database option, which costs $23,000 per processor, is turned on by default."
Businesses

Suddenly Visible: Illicit Drugs As Part of Silicon Valley Culture 443

Posted by timothy
from the roland-hedley-jr-is-on-the-case dept.
The recent death by overdose of Google executive Timothy Hayes has drawn attention to the phenomenon of illegal drug use (including abuse of prescription painkillers) among technology workers and executives in high-pay, high-stress Silicon Valley. The Mercury News takes a look at the phenomenon; do the descriptions of freely passed cocaine, Red Bull as a gateway drug, and complacent managers match your own workplace experiences? From the Mercury News article: "There's this workaholism in the valley, where the ability to work on crash projects at tremendous rates of speed is almost a badge of honor," says Steve Albrecht, a San Diego consultant who teaches substance abuse awareness for Bay Area employers. "These workers stay up for days and days, and many of them gradually get into meth and coke to keep going. Red Bull and coffee only gets them so far." ... Drug abuse in the tech industry is growing against the backdrop of a national surge in heroin and prescription pain-pill abuse. Treatment specialists say the over-prescribing of painkillers, like the opioid hydrocodone, has spawned a new crop of addicts -- working professionals with college degrees, a description that fits many of the thousands of workers in corporate Silicon Valley. Increasingly, experts see painkillers as the gateway drug for addicts, and they are in abundance. "There are 1.4 million prescriptions ... in the Bay Area for hydrocodone," says Alice Gleghorn with the San Francisco Department of Public Health. "That's a lot of pills out there."
Microsoft

Microsoft's Nokia Plans Come Into Better Focus 141

Posted by timothy
from the ringtones-baby-the-future-is-ringtones dept.
Forbes has an update on what sort of future Nokia faces, as Microsoft reveals a strategy for making sense of the acquisition: [Microsoft EVP of devices Stephen] Elop laid out a framework for cost cuts in a memo to employees on July 17. Devices would focus on high and low cost Windows smartphones, suggesting a phasing out of feature phones and Android smartphones. Two business units, smart devices and mobile phones, would become one, thereby cutting overlap and overhead. Microsoft would reduce engineering in Beijing and San Diego and unwind engineering in Oulu, Finland. It would exit manufacturing in Komarom, Hungary; shift to lower cost areas like Manaus, Brazil and Reynosa, Mexico; and reduce manufacturing in Beijing and Dongguan, China. Also, CEO Satya Nadella gave hints about how Microsoft will make money on Nokia during Tuesday' conference call. Devices, he said, "go beyond" hardware and are about productivity. "I can take my Office Lens App, use the camera on the phone, take a picture of anything, and have it automatically OCR recognized and into OneNote in searchable fashion. There is a lot we can do with phones by broadly thinking about productivity." In other words, the sale of a smartphone is a means to other sales.
Advertising

Nasty Business: How To Drain Competitors' Google AdWords Budgets 95

Posted by timothy
from the this-one-weird-trick dept.
tsu doh nimh (609154) writes KrebsOnSecurity looks at a popular service that helps crooked online marketers exhaust the Google AdWords budgets of their competitors.The service allows companies to attack competitors by raising their costs or exhausting their ad budgets early in the day. Advertised on YouTube and run by a guy boldly named "GoodGoogle," the service employs a combination of custom software and hands-on customer service, and promises clients the ability to block the appearance of competitors' ads. From the story: "The prices range from $100 to block between three to ten ad units for 24 hours to $80 for 15 to 30 ad units. For a flat fee of $1,000, small businesses can use GoodGoogle's software and service to sideline a handful of competitors' ads indefinitely."
Books

Apple Acquires "Pandora For Books" Booklamp For $15 Million 25

Posted by timothy
from the we-know-why-you're-reading-it dept.
Nate the greatest (2261802) writes with news made public Friday that Apple has acquired a little known ebook company called Booklamp, a small Idaho-based ebook startup which is best known for the Book Genome Project. First shown off to the world in 2008, this project was conceived by Booklamp founder and CEO Aaron Stanton as a way of analyzing a book's pacing, dialog, perspective, genre, and other details in order to identify a book's unique DNA. Booklamp has been using the tech to sell various services to publishers, tech companies, and the like, but Booklamps's existing contracts were apparently cancelled earlier this year.

According to one industry insider the deal happened in April, but Apple managed to keep the news under wraps until just last night. No one knows for sure how Apple will use booklamp but there is speculation that Apple could launch an ebook subscription service similar to the week-old Kindle Unlimited, or they could just use Booklamp to drive ebook recommendations in what some are speculating is the world's second largest ebookstore.
Businesses

Cable Companies: We're Afraid Netflix Will Demand Payment From ISPs 199

Posted by timothy
from the who-pays-whom-for-what dept.
Dega704 (1454673) writes While the network neutrality debate has focused primarily on whether ISPs should be able to charge companies like Netflix for faster access to consumers, cable companies are now arguing that it's really Netflix who holds the market power to charge them. This argument popped up in comments submitted to the FCC by Time Warner Cable and industry groups that represent cable companies. (National Journal writer Brendan Sasso pointed this out.) The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), which represents many companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox, and Charter wrote to the FCC:

"Even if broadband providers had an incentive to degrade their customers' online experience in some circumstances, they have no practical ability to act on such an incentive. Today's Internet ecosystem is dominated by a number of "hyper-giants" with growing power over key aspects of the Internet experience—including Google in search, Netflix and Google (YouTube) in online video, Amazon and eBay in e-commerce, and Facebook in social media. If a broadband provider were to approach one of these hyper-giants and threaten to block or degrade access to its site if it refused to pay a significant fee, such a strategy almost certainly would be self-defeating, in light of the immediately hostile reaction of consumers to such conduct. Indeed, it is more likely that these large edge providers would seek to extract payment from ISPs for delivery of video over last-mile networks."
Related: an article at Gizmodo explains that it takes surprisingly little hardware to replicate (at least most of) Netflix's current online catalog in a local data center.
Cellphones

Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill 77

Posted by timothy
from the pit-carrier-against-carrier dept.
NotSanguine (1917456) writes The U.S. Senate has passed a bill (S.517) today, allowing users to unlock their phones when moving to another provider. From a recent article at thehill.com: "Consumers should be able to use their existing cell phones when they move their service to a new wireless provider," [Sen. Patrick] Leahy said in a statement. "Our laws should not prohibit consumers from carrying their cell phones to a new network, and we should promote and protect competition in the wireless marketplace," he said. [Sen. Chuck] Grassley called the bipartisan compromise "an important step forward in ensuring that there is competition in the industry and in safeguarding options for consumers as they look at new cell phone contracts." "Empowering people with the freedom to use the carrier of their choice after complying with their original terms of service is the right thing to do," he said. The House in February passed a companion bill sponsored on cellphone unlocking from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)." Also at Ars Technica, as pointed out by reader jessepdx.
Businesses

eSports Starting To Go Mainstream 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the big-enough-for-annoying-ads dept.
An anonymous reader writes: eSports have never been more popular, and many large companies are starting to view them in the same light as traditional sports. The amount of money being thrown around is beginning to rival the money exchanged over sports teams. A recent Dota 2 tournament handed out over $10 million in prizes, and Google's $1 billion purchase of game-streaming site Twitch.tv has now been confirmed. But it doesn't end there — companies like Coca-cola, Intel, Nissan, and major movie studios are looking at the audiences being drawn by eSports and realizing the advertising potential. "Last fall, Riot Games sold out the Staples Center for its League of Legends Championship Series Finals. While 12,000 people watched live in the home of the Lakers and Kings, over 32 million tuned in to the livestream." George Woo, head of a global eSports tournament, said, "Attendance to Intel Extreme Masters events has grown 10X with us filling up sport stadiums, where we have visitors lining up to get a seat to watch the competition. Online it has grown 100X, where we now get more viewers watching livestreams for a single event than we'd have tune in for an entire season in the past."
Classic Games (Games)

GOG.com Announces Linux Support 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the year-of-linux-on-the-gamebox dept.
For years, Good Old Games has made a business out of selling classic PC game titles completely free of DRM. Today they announced that their platform now supports Linux. They said, We've put much time and effort into this project and now we've found ourselves with over 50 titles, classic and new, prepared for distribution, site infrastructure ready, support team trained and standing by ... We're still aiming to have at least 100 Linux games in the coming months, but we've decided not to delay the launch just for the sake of having a nice-looking number to show off to the press. ... Note that we've got many classic titles coming officially to Linux for the very first time, thanks to the custom builds prepared by our dedicated team of penguin tamers. ... For both native Linux versions, as well as special builds prepared by our team, GOG.com will provide distro-independent tar.gz archives and support convenient DEB installers for the two most popular Linux distributions: Ubuntu and Mint, in their current and future LTS editions.
Businesses

For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs 173

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the better-than-working-at-walmart dept.
dcblogs (1096431) writes The Census Bureau reports that only 26% of people with any type of four-year STEM degree are working in a STEM field. For those with a degree specifically in computer, math or statistics, the figure is 49%, nearly the same for engineering degrees. What happens to the other STEM trained workers? The largest numbers are managers at non-STEM businesses (22.5%), or having careers in education (17.7%), business/finance (13.2%) and office support (11.5%). Some other data points: Among those with college degrees in computer-related occupations, men are paid more than women ($90,354 vs. $78,859 on average), and African American workers are more likely to be unemployed than white or Asian workers.
Security

Dropbox Head Responds To Snowden Claims About Privacy 175

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
First time accepted submitter Carly Page writes When asked for its response to Edward Snowden's claims that "Dropbox is hostile to privacy", Dropbox told The INQUIRER that users concerned about privacy should add their own encryption. The firm warned however that if users do, not all of the service's features will work. Head of Product at Dropbox for Business Ilya Fushman says: "We have data encrypted on our servers. We think of encryption beyond that as a users choice. If you look at our third-party developer ecosystem you'll find many client-side encryption apps....It's hard to do things like rich document rendering if they're client-side encrypted. Search is also difficult, we can't index the content of files. Finally, we need users to understand that if they use client-side encryption and lose the password, we can't then help them recover those files."
Verizon

Verizon's Offer: Let Us Track You, Get Free Stuff 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-your-worst dept.
mpicpp points out a new program from Verizon that is perfect if you don't mind being tracked. Are you comfortable having your location and Web browsing tracked for marketing purposes? If so, Verizon's got a deal for you. The wireless giant announced a new program this week called 'Smart Rewards' that offers customers credit card-style perks like discounts for shopping, travel and dining. You accrue points through the program by doing things like signing onto the Verizon website, paying your bill online and participating in the company's trade-in program. Verizon emphasizes that the data it collects is anonymized before it's shared with third parties. The program is novel in that offers Verizon users some compensation for the collection of their data, which has become big business for telecom and tech companies. Some privacy advocates have pushed data-collecting companies to reward customers for their personal information in the interest of transparency.
Microsoft

Microsoft's CEO Says He Wants to Unify Windows 322

Posted by samzenpus
from the by-your-powers-combined dept.
Deathspawner writes A lot of people have never been able to understand the logic behind Microsoft's Windows RT, with many urging the company to kill it off so that it can focus on more important products, like the mainline Windows. Well, this is probably not going to come as a huge surprise, especially in light of mass layoffs announced last week, but Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said that his company will be working to combine all Windows versions into a unified release by next year.
Data Storage

Intel Launches Self-Encrypting SSD 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the masochistic-storage-devices dept.
MojoKid writes: Intel just launched their new SSD 2500 Pro series solid state drive, the follow-up to last year's SSD 1500 Pro series, which targets corporate and small-business clients. The drive shares much of its DNA with some of Intel's consumer-class drives, but the Pro series cranks things up a few notches with support for advanced security and management features, low power states, and an extended management toolset. In terms of performance, the Intel SSD 2500 Pro isn't class-leading in light of many enthusiast-class drives but it's no slouch either. Intel differentiates the 2500 Pro series by adding support for vPro remote-management and hardware-based self-encryption. The 2500 Pro series supports TCG (Trusted Computing Group) Opal 2.0 features and is Microsoft eDrive capable as well. Intel also offers an administration tool for easy management of the drive. With the Intel administration tool, users can reset the PSID (physical presence security ID), though the contents of the drive will be wiped. Sequential reads are rated at up to 540MB/s, sequential writes at up to 480MB/s, with 45K – 80K random read / write IOps.
Microsoft

Microsoft FY2014 Q4 Earnings: Revenues Up, Profits Down Slightly 66

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the still-enough-to-fill-money-pool dept.
Microsoft has released their latest earnings report, and it's not as bleak as last week's news might have you suspect. Quoting Forbes: Microsoft reported $23.38 billion of revenue for the fourth quarter, up 17.5% from the same period last year. Net income, however, came in at $4.6 billion, down from last year and behind Wall Street analysts' consensus estimate, both about $5 billion. At 55 cents earnings per share were down 4 cents and a nickel short of the Street’s call. For the full year, revenue clocked in at $86.8 billion an 11.5% increase from a year earlier. Net income was $22.1 billion and earnings per share were $2.63. They took a hit from finalizing the acquisition of Nokia's handset division (not unexpected). The cloud services side of the business appears to be growing, while traditional software sales have stagnated. The layoffs will cost Microsoft between $1.1 and $1.6 billion over the first half of next year.
Businesses

The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry 957

Posted by Soulskill
from the requiring-a-cultural-shift dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Brianna Wu, leader of a game development studio, has an article exposing the constant harassment of women in the games industry. She says, "I'm not writing this piece to evoke your sympathy. I'm writing to share with you what prominent, successful women in the industry experience, in their own words." She goes through the individual stories of several women targeted by this vitriol, and tries to figure out why it happens. Quoting: "We live in a society that's sexist in ways it doesn't understand. One of the consequences is that men are extremely sensitive to being criticized by women. ... This is why women are socialized to carefully dance around these issues, disagreeing with men in an extremely gentle manner. Not because women are nicer creatures than men. But because our very survival can depend on it. ... Growing a thicker skin isn't the answer, nor is it a proper response. Listening, and making the industry safer for the existence of visible women is the best, and only, way forward."
Businesses

Buying New Commercial IT Hardware Isn't Always Worthwhile (Video) 92

Posted by Roblimo
from the sometimes-it's-better-and-costs-less-to-stick-with-proven-hardware dept.
Ben Blair is CTO of MarkITx, a company that brokers used commercial IT gear. This gives him an excellent overview of the marketplace -- not just what companies are willing to buy used, but also what they want to sell as they buy new (or newer) equipment. Ben's main talking point in this interview is that hardware has become so commoditized that in a world where most enterprise software can be virtualized to run across multiple servers, it no longer matters if you have the latest hardware technology; that two older servers can often do the job of one new one -- and for less money, too. So, he says, you should make sure you buy new hardware only when necessary, not just because of the "Ooh... shiny!" factor" (Alternate Video Link)
Movies

Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same 350

Posted by timothy
from the rising-overhead dept.
Nom du Keyboard writes: After seeing a drop in my DVD service from Netflix I got a customer service representative tonight to confirm that Netflix has ceased processing DVD returns on Saturdays nationwide. And that they did this without notifying their customers, or reducing prices to compensate for the reduced service. Given that the DVD selection still far outstrips their streaming selection, this may be news to others like myself who don't find streaming an adequate replacement for plastic discs. My experience up until recently, unlike Netflix's promise of a 1-3 day turnaround at their end which gives them lots of wiggle room to degrade service even further, had been of mailing in a DVD on day one, having them receive it and mail out my next selection on day two, and receiving it on day three. Now with them only working 5 days and many U.S. Post Office holidays, they're still getting the same money for significantly less. The Netflix shipping FAQ confirms the change, and a spokesperson said, "Saturdays have been low volume ship days for us."

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