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Amazon's eBook Math

Soulskill posted 5 hours ago | from the there's-one-for-you-nineteen-for-me dept.

Books 131

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has waged a constant battle with publishers over the price of ebooks. They've now publicly laid out their argument and the business math behind it. "We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000." They argue that capping most ebooks at $9.99 would be better for everyone, with the money split out 35% to the author, 35% to the publisher, and 30% to Amazon.

Author John Scalzi says Amazon's reasoning and assumptions are a bit suspect. He disagrees that "books are interchangeable units of entertainment, each equally as salable as the next, and that pricing is the only thing consumers react to." Scalzi also points out that Amazon asserts itself as the only revenue stream for authors, which is not remotely true. "Amazon's assumptions don't include, for example, that publishers and authors might have a legitimate reason for not wanting the gulf between eBook and physical hardcover pricing to be so large that brick and mortar retailers suffer, narrowing the number of venues into which books can sell. Killing off Amazon's competitors is good for Amazon; there's rather less of an argument that it's good for anyone else."

Meet Apache Software Foundation VP Rich Bowen (Video)

Roblimo posted 7 hours ago | from the a-patchy-server-rules-the-online-world dept.

Open Source 14

Apache is behind a huge percentage of the world's websites, and the Apache Software Foundation is the umbrella organization that provides licensing and stucture for open source projects ranging from the Apache Web server to Apache OpenOffice to small utilities that aren't household names but are often important to a surprising number of people and companies. Most of us never get to meet the people behind groups like the Apache Software Foundation -- except today we tag along with Tim Lord at OSCON and chat with Apache Software Foundation Executive Vice President Rich Bowen -- who is also Red Hat's OpenStack Community Liason. (Alternate Video Link) Update: 07/30 22:23 GMT by T : Note that Bowen formerly served as Slashdot sister site SourceForge's Community Manager, too.

UK To Allow Driverless Cars By January

Soulskill posted 10 hours ago | from the crucial-to-development-of-the-tardis dept.

Transportation 150

rtoz sends this news from the BBC: The UK government has announced that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads starting in January next year. It also invited cities to compete to host one of three trials of the tech, which would start at the same time. In addition, ministers ordered a review of the UK's road regulations to provide appropriate guidelines. ... The debate now is whether to allow cars, like the prototype unveiled by Google in May, to abandon controls including a steering wheel and pedals and rely on the vehicle's computer. Or whether, instead, to allow the machine to drive, but insist a passenger be ready to wrest back control at a moment's notice.

An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax

Soulskill posted 13 hours ago | from the isaac-newton-invented-the-apple dept.

Wikipedia 148

Andreas Kolbe writes: The Daily Dot's EJ Dickson reports how she accidentally discovered that a hoax factoid she added over five years ago as a stoned sophomore to the Wikipedia article on "Amelia Bedelia, the protagonist of the eponymous children's book series about a 'literal-minded housekeeper' who misunderstands her employer's orders," had not just remained on Wikipedia all this time, but come to be cited by a Taiwanese English professor, in "innumerable blog posts and book reports", as well as a book on Jews and Jesus. It's a cautionary tale about the fundamental unreliability of Wikipedia. And as Wikipedia ages, more and more such stories are coming to light.

Nuclear Missile Command Drops Grades From Tests To Discourage Cheating

Soulskill posted 13 hours ago | from the D-for-darn-good dept.

The Military 115

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, just over half of the military officers put in charge of U.S. nuclear launch facilities were implicated in an exam cheating scandal. The Air Force conducted regular exams to keep officers current on the protocols and skills required to operate some of the world's most dangerous weapons. But the way they graded the test caused problems. Anything below a 90% score was a fail, but the remaining 10% often dictated how a launch officer's career progressed. There might not be much functional difference between a 93% and a 95%, but the person scoring higher will get promoted disproportionately quicker. This inspired a ring of officers to cheat in order to meet the unrealistic expectations of the Air Force. Now, in an effort to clean up that Missile Wing, the Air Force is making the exams pass/fail. The officers still need to score 90% or higher (since it's important work with severe consequences for failure), but scores won't be recorded and used to compete for promotions anymore. The Air Force is also making an effort to replace or refurbish the aging equipment that runs these facilities.

Reglue: Opening Up the World To Deserving Kids With Linux Computers

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the never-too-early-for-your-first-tux dept.

Education 80

jrepin writes: Today, a child without access to a computer (and the Internet) at home is at a disadvantage before he or she ever sets foot in a classroom. The unfortunate reality is that in an age where computer skills are no longer optional, far too many families don't possess the resources to have a computer at home. Linux Journal recently had the opportunity to talk with Ken Starks about his organization, Reglue (Recycled Electronics and Gnu/Linux Used for Education) and its efforts to bridge this digital divide.

Old Apache Code At Root of Android FakeID Mess

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the write-once-run-anywhere dept.

Android 125

chicksdaddy writes: A four-year-old vulnerability in an open source component that is a critical part of Android leaves hundreds of millions of mobile devices susceptible to silent malware infections. The vulnerability affects devices running Android versions 2.1 to 4.4 ("KitKat"), according to a statement released by Bluebox. The vulnerability was found in a package installer in affected versions of Android. The installer doesn't attempt to determine the authenticity of certificate chains that are used to vouch for new digital identity certificates. In short, Bluebox writes, "an identity can claim to be issued by another identity, and the Android cryptographic code will not verify the claim."

The security implications of this are vast. Malicious actors could create a malicious mobile application with a digital identity certificate that claims to be issued by Adobe Systems. Once installed, vulnerable versions of Android will treat the application as if it was actually signed by Adobe and give it access to local resources, like the special webview plugin privilege, that can be used to sidestep security controls and virtual 'sandbox' environments that keep malicious programs from accessing sensitive data and other applications running on the Android device. The flaw appears to have been introduced to Android through an open source component, Apache Harmony. Google turned to Harmony as an alternative means of supporting Java in the absence of a deal with Oracle to license Java directly.

Work on Harmony was discontinued in November, 2011. However, Google has continued using native Android libraries that are based on Harmony code. The vulnerability concerning certificate validation in the package installer module persisted even as the two codebases diverged.

35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the all-the-cool-kids-are-doing-it dept.

The Almighty Buck 498

New submitter meeotch writes: According to a new study by the Urban Institute, 35% of U.S. adults with a credit history (91% of the adult population of the U.S.) have debt "in collections" — a status generally not acquired until payments are at least 180 days past due. Debt problems seem to be worse in the South, with states hovering in the 40%+ range, while the Northeast has it better, at less than 30%. The study's authors claim their findings actually underrepresent low-income consumers, because "adults without a credit file are more likely to be financially disadvantaged."

Oddly, only 5% of adults have debt 30-180 days past due. This latter fact is partially accounted for by the fact that a broader range of debt can enter "in collections" status than "past due" status (e.g. parking tickets)... But also perhaps demonstrates that as one falls far enough along the debt spiral, escape becomes impossible. Particularly in the case of high-interest debt such as credit cards — the issuers of which cluster in states such as South Dakota, following a 1978 Supreme Court ruling that found that states' usury laws did not apply to banks headquartered in other states.

Even taking into account the folks who lost a parking ticket under their passenger seat, 35% is a pretty shocking number. Anyone have other theories why this number is so much higher than the 5% of people who are just "late"? How about some napkin math on the debt spiral?

Which Is Better, Adblock Or Adblock Plus?

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the who-blacklists-the-blacklisters dept.

The Internet 325

An anonymous reader writes: Wladimir Palant is the creator of the Adblock Plus browser extension, but he often gets asked how it compares to a similar extension for Chrome called Adblock. In the past, he's told people the two extensions achieve largely the same end, but in slightly different ways. However, recent changes to the Adblock project have him worried. "AdBlock covertly moved from an open development model towards hiding changes from its users. Users were neither informed about that decision nor the reasons behind it." He goes through the changelog and highlights some updates that call into question the integrity of Adblock. For example, from an update on June 6th: "Calling home functionality has been extended. It now sends user's locale in addition to the unique user ID, AdBlock version, operating system and whether Google Search ads are being allowed. Also, AdBlock will tell getadblock.com (or any other website if asked nicely) whether AdBlock has just been installed or has been used for a while — again, in addition to the unique user ID." Of course, Palant has skin in this game, and Adblock Plus has dealt with fallout from their "acceptable ads policy," but at least it's still developed in the open.

seL4 Verified Microkernel Now Open Source

Unknown Lamer posted yesterday | from the formal-verification-for-the-rest-of-us dept.

Open Source 72

Back in 2009, OKLabs/NICTA announced the first formally verified microkernel, seL4 (a member of the L4 family). Alas, it was proprietary software. Today, that's no longer the case: seL4 has been released under the GPLv2 (only, no "or later versions clause" unfortunately). An anonymous reader writes OSnews is reporting that the formally verified sel4 microkernel is now open source: "General Dynamics C4 Systems and NICTA are pleased to announce the open sourcing of seL4, the world's first operating-system kernel with an end-to-end proof of implementation correctness and security enforcement. It is still the world's most highly assured OS." Source is over at Github. It supports ARM and x86 (including the popular Beaglebone ARM board). If you have an x86 with the VT-x and Extended Page Table extensions you can even run Linux atop seL4 (and the seL4 website is served by Linux on seL4).

Senate Bill Would Ban Most Bulk Surveillance

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the assuming-they-can-pass-anything dept.

Government 173

An anonymous reader writes: Today Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a bill that would ban bulk collection of telephone records and internet data for U.S. citizens. This is a stronger version of the legislation that passed the U.S. House in May, and it has support from the executive branch as well. "The bill, called the USA Freedom Act, would prohibit the government from collecting all information from a particular service provider or a broad geographic area, such as a city or area code, according to a release from Leahy's office. It would expand government and company reporting to the public and reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which reviews NSA intelligence activities. Both House and Senate measures would keep information out of NSA computers, but the Senate bill would impose stricter limits on how much data the spy agency could seek."

Ask Slashdot: Open Hardware/Software-Based Security Token?

timothy posted yesterday | from the you-could-use-postcards-scanned-by-an-arduino dept.

Security 110

Qbertino (265505) writes I've been musing about a security setup to allow my coworkers/users access to files from the outside. I want security to be a little safer than pure key- or password-based SSH access, and some super-expensive RSA Token setup is out of question. I've been wondering whether there are any feasible and working FOSS and open hardware-based security token generator projects out there. It'd be best with ready-made server-side scripts/daemons. Perhaps something Arduino or Raspberry Pi based? Has anybody tried something like this? What are your experiences? What do you use? How would you attempt an open hardware FOSS solution to this problem?

Ridley Scott to Produce Philip K Dick's The Man In the High Castle

timothy posted yesterday | from the it's-all-in-your-head dept.

Sci-Fi 137

hawkinspeter (831501) writes Amazon has given the green light to produce the Hugo award-winning "The Man in the High Castle". This is after the four-hour mini-series was rejected by Syfy and afterwards by the BBC. Philip K Dick's novel takes place in an alternate universe where the Axis Powers won the Second World War. It's one of his most successful works, probably due to him actually spending the time to do some editing on it (most of his fiction was produced rapidly in order to get some money). Ridley Scott has previously adapted PKD's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" as the film Blade Runner, so it will be interesting to see how close he keeps to the source material this time. This news has been picked up by a few sites: International Business Times; The Register and Deadline.

London Police Placing Anti-Piracy Warning Ads On Illegal Sites

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the since-you're-here-anyhow dept.

Piracy 158

mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "The City of London police has started placing banner advertisements on websites believed to be offering pirated content illegally. The messages, which will appear instead of paid-for ads, will ask users to close their web browsers. The move comes as part of a continuing effort to stop piracy sites from earning money through advertising. Police said the ads would make it harder for piracy site owners to make their pages look authentic. "When adverts from well known brands appear on illegal websites, they lend them a look of legitimacy and inadvertently fool consumers into thinking the site is authentic," said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe from the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (Pipcu). "This new initiative is another step forward for the unit in tackling IP crime and disrupting criminal profits. "Copyright infringing websites are making huge sums of money though advert placement, therefore disrupting advertising on these sites is crucial and this is why it is an integral part of Operation Creative.""

Dear Museums: Uploading Your Content To Wikimedia Commons Just Got Easier

Unknown Lamer posted 2 days ago | from the who-doesn't-need-more-bird-videos? dept.

Wikipedia 24

The ed17 (2834807) writes Galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAMs) are now facing fewer barriers to uploading their content to Wikimedia Commons — the website that stores most of Wikipedia's images and videos. Previously, these institutions had to build customized scripts or be lucky enough to find a Wikimedia volunteer to do the work for them. According to the toolset's coordinator Liam Wyatt, 'this is a giant leap forward in giving GLAMs the agency to share with Commons on their own terms.' The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision has a short article on their use of the new toolkit to upload hundreds of videos of birds. See also the GWToolset project page and documentation on the upload system (includes screencasts). Before the toolset, organizations wishing to donate collections had to write one-off tools to translate between their metadata schema and Wikimedia's schema. The GWToolset allows the organization to generate and upload a single XML file containing metadata (using arbitrary, even mixed, schemas, with some limitations) for all items in a batch upload, prompts for mappings between the vocabulary used by the organization and the vocabulary accepted by Mediawiki, and then pulls the files into the Commons.

US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the hey-these-still-smell-like-dollars dept.

Bitcoin 165

SonicSpike points out an article from the Pew Charitable Trusts' Research & Analysis department on the legislation and regulation schemes emerging in at least a few states in reaction to the increasing use of digital currencies like Bitcoin. A working group called the Conference of State Bank Supervisors’ Emerging Payments Task Force has been surveying the current landscape of state rules and approaches to digital currencies, a topic on which state laws are typically silent. In April, the task force presented a model consumer guidance to help states provide consumers with information about digital currencies. A number of states, including California, Massachusetts and Texas, have issued warnings to consumers that virtual currencies are not subject to “traditional regulation or monetary policy,” including insurance, bonding and other security measures, and that values can fluctuate dramatically. ... The article focuses on the high-population, big-economy states of New York, California and Texas, with a touch of Kansas -- but other states are sure to follow. Whether you live in the U.S. or not, are there government regulations that you think would actually make sense for digital currencies?

Off the Florida Coast, Astronauts Train For Asteroid Mission

timothy posted 3 days ago | from the in-space-no-one-can-hear-you-access-facebook dept.

NASA 82

Space.com gives an overview of the training that four astronauts are undergoing over 9 days submerged off the coast of Florida near Key Largo. The training mission, dubbed NEEMO 18, is one step toward a proposed (mid-2020s) mission to actually visit a captured asteroid in lunar orbit. In addition to the complications of working outside their school-bus sized habitat while awkwardly suited up in a low-gravity (or at least high buoyancy) environment, their mission also includes a 10-minute communications delay, to simulate the high-latency communications with mission control that would be inevitable for an actual asteroid mission. The experiments astronauts are doing during the mission, which began Monday (July 21), range from the physical to the behavioral. For example, each of the crew members sports a sensor that records how close the crew members work with each other inside the school-bus-size habitat. ... Communications with NEEMO Mission Control is usually constant, and there is the ability to send items to and from the habitat as needed. Also living inside the habitat are two support staff who are assisting with Aquarius maintenance and systems, as required. The crew members also have Internet and phone service to talk with family and friends.

Valencia Linux School Distro Saves 36 Million Euro

timothy posted 3 days ago | from the oh-no-big-deal dept.

Education 153

jrepin (667425) writes "The government of the autonomous region of Valencia (Spain) earlier this month made available the next version of Lliurex, a customisation of the Edubuntu Linux distribution. The distro is used on over 110,000 PCs in schools in the Valencia region, saving some 36 million euro over the past nine years, the government says." I'd lke to see more efforts like this in the U.S.; if mega school districts are paying for computers, I'd rather they at least support open source development as a consequence.

A Router-Based Dev Board That Isn't a Router

timothy posted 3 days ago | from the hook-it-to-anything dept.

Networking 53

An anonymous reader writes with a link to an intriguing device highlighted at Hackaday (it's an Indiegogo project, too, if it excites you $90 worth, and seems well on its way to meeting its modest goal): The DPT Board is something that may be of interest to anyone looking to hack up a router for their own connected project or IoT implementation: hardware based on a fairly standard router, loaded up with OpenWRT, with a ton of I/O to connect to anything.

It's called the DPT Board, and it's basically an hugely improved version of the off-the-shelf routers you can pick up through the usual channels. On board are 20 GPIOs, USB host, 16MB Flash, 64MB RAM, two Ethernet ports, on-board 802.11n and a USB host port. This small system on board is pre-installed with OpenWRT, making it relatively easy to connect this small router-like device to LED strips, sensors, or whatever other project you have in mind.

Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

timothy posted 3 days ago | from the one-for-all-and-what's-the-password? dept.

United States 565

U.S. officials today made public satellite imagery which they say proves that Russian forces have been shelling eastern Ukraine in a campaign to assist rebel groups fighting Ukraine’s government. The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which released the civilian-taken satellite images Sunday, said they show visual evidence that Russia has been firing shells across the border at Ukrainian military forces. Officials also said the images show that Russia-backed separatists have used heavy artillery, provided by Russia, in attacks on Ukrainian forces from inside Ukraine. One image dated July 25/26 shows what DNI claims is “ground scarring” on the Russian side of the border from artillery aimed at Ukrainian military units in Ukraine, as well as the resultant ground craters on the Ukrainian side of the border:

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