NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In a case of major importance, the long simmering battle between the Authors Guild and Google has reached its climax, with the court granting Google's motion for summary judgment, dismissing the case, on fair use grounds. In his 30-page decision (PDF), Judge Denny Chin — who has been a District Court Judge throughout most of the life of the case but is now a Circuit Court Judge — reasoned that, although Google's own motive for its "Library Project" (which scans books from libraries without the copyright owners' permission and makes the material publicly available for search), is commercial profit, the project itself serves significant educational purposes, and actually enhances, rather than detracts from, the value of the works, since it helps promote sales of the works. Judge Chin also felt that it was impossible to use Google's scanned material, either for making full copies, or for reading the books, so that it did not compete with the books themselves."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Nate the greatest writes "Intel didn't mention how much they paid for digital textbook startup Kno when they announced the acquisition last week but inside sources are now saying that the digital textbook startup was picked up for a song. GigaOm reported earlier today that their sources told them that Kno sold effectively for pennies on the dollar: 'Well placed sources who were in the know told us that the company sold for $15 million with some retention bonuses for the employees. Intel bought the company mostly for its hardware-related intellectual property and the employees. Intel also was one of the largest investors in the company — having pumped in $20 million via its Intel Capital arm.' Kno had raised $73 million in venture capital since it was founded 4 years ago, and it picked up another $20 million in debt. This deal was nothing less than a fire sale, and that does not bode well for the digital textbook market or other startups in this niche. Inkling, for example, just raised $20 million dollars this summer in order to compete in a market that where one of their competitors failed."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "As we come up on Veteran's Day, Barrie Barber reports for the Dayton Daily News that the last Doolittle Raiders symbolically said goodbye to a decades-old tradition and to a history that changed the course of the Pacific war in World War II. Gathering from across the country together one last time, three surviving Raiders sipped from silver goblets engraved with their names and filled with 1896 Hennessy cognac in a once-private ceremony webcast to the world at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Robert E. Cole, 98, led the final toast to the 80 members of 'the Greatest Generation' who took off in 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers April 18, 1942, from the deck of the USS Hornet to bomb Japan four months after a Japanese surprise naval and air attack on Pearl Harbor. 'Gentleman, I propose a toast,' said Cole, as about 700 spectators watched one final time, 'to those we lost on the mission and those that passed away since. Thank you very much and may they rest in peace.' Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning said the raid showed the courage and innovation of the World War II airmen flying from a carrier in a bomber that had never seen combat to attack a heavily defended nation and to attempt to land at unseen airfields in China in a country occupied by Japanese troops. More than 70 years after the attack, Edward J. Saylor, 93, remembered ditching at sea once he and his crew dropped their bombs and several close calls with being discovered by the Japanese Army while making his way through China. 'This may be the last time I see them together,' said the 92-year-old raider who has attended Raider reunions since 1962. 'It's a little sad for me because I've known them so long and know the story of what they did in 1942.'"
An anonymous reader writes "'We can enormously extend the record; yet even in its present bulk we can hardly consult it' wrote Vannevar Bush in a 1945 Atlantic Monthly article. Nearly 70 years later, academics are still wrapping research in inaccessible journal articles. Might they be doing it wrong?"
Rambo Tribble writes "No sooner had Amazon revealed their plan to offer independent book shops the Kindle for re-sale, along with a kick-back on e-book purchases, than the fur began to fly. It appears the shops view the plan as Amazon-assisted suicide. Given the apparent terms of the deal, it looks like they may have a point. Amazon may well have done themselves more harm than good with this ploy. One storeowner wrote, 'Hmmm, let's see. We sell Kindles for essentially no profit, the new Kindle customer is in our store where they can browse and discover books, the new Kindle customer can then check the price on Amazon and order the e-book. We make a little on their e-book purchases, but then lose them as a customer completely after two years. Doesn't sound like such a great partnership to me.'"
cartechboy writes "In early October, a Tesla caught on fire in Washington state — and that created a little bit of a stir. Then just before Halloween a second Tesla caught fire. Yesterday, a third Model S caught fire in Tennessee. With the third fire in the books, all happening in similar fashion, today federal investigators are saying they are going to take a look at the situation more closely. As electric car maker's stock shares continue to tumble, some are saying the fires aren't a big deal."
v3rgEz writes "By September 14, 1960, Isaac Asimov had been a professor of biochemistry at Boston University for 11 years, and his acclaimed "I, Robot" collection of short stories was on its seventh reprint. This was also the day someone not-so-subtly accused him of communist sympathies in a letter to J. Edgar Hoover. They ominously concluded that "Asimov may be quite all right. On the other hand . . . . ." The "tip off" wasn't given much credit, but it didn't matter since Asimov's science fiction writing alone was enough to warrant FBI monitoring, particularly as the FBI hunted for the mysterious ROBPROF, a communist informant embedded in American academia. MuckRock has Isaac Asimov's FBI files in full, and a write up of the more interesting bits."
Ender's Game is the quintessential classic military sci-fi book. It ranks near the top of virtually every list of good sci-fi novels. When Hollywood decided to finally go forward with a movie adaptation, the initial reaction from most fans was one of skepticism. (After all, we saw what they did to I, Robot.) But there was reason to hope, as well, because Ender's Game is more action-friendly than many sci-fi stories, and the filmmakers had a big budget with which to make it. The movie was finally released last week; read on for our review. In short: the film tries too hard to straddle the line between assuming viewers are familiar with the details and bringing new viewers up to speed. The cuts to the story were both too much and not enough. It left us with only brief glimpses at too many characters, and introduced themes without fleshing them out enough to be interesting.
nk497 writes with this excerpt from PC Pro "Amazon plans to give independent booksellers 10% of the takings from ebooks bought on Kindles they sell, the online giant has revealed. The new Amazon Source program aims to encourage independent bookstores and small retailers to sell Kindle readers by offering commission for the first two years of the device's life. As an alternative to the 10% kickback from book sales, retailers opting into the Amazon Source program can choose instead to receive a larger discount up front when buying the devices for resale."
In this video, we continue our conversation with author David Craddock about his investigation into the early days of game studio Blizzard for his new book, Stay Awhile and Listen. He's joined by Dave Brevik and Max Schaefer, two of the co-founders of Blizzard North. They talk about keeping games accessible, the importance of getting the amount of background story right in Diablo, and whether the creators of these early games have any regrets about them. They also talk about designing The Butcher. (This is video part 2 of 2. The transcript of Part 1 is now available, too, if you care to go back and read it.)
Her bio says, "Esther Schindler has been writing about computers – with a particular focus on software development and open source – since the early 1990s. You’ve seen Esther’s byline in prominent IT publications, such as CIO.com, IT World, and IEEE Spectrum. She's written dozens of analyst reports for Evans Data about software development trends. Her name is on the cover of about a dozen books, including most recently The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Twitter Marketing. Esther is editor of a site for software developers, these days, while still freelancing occasionally for IT World (most recently The developer's guide to future car technology) and she writes a blog about project management." She submits her own work to Slashdot, and submits work for other writers, too. She may or may not be the most successful Slashdot submitter of all time, based on the percentage of her submissions that show up on the front page, but she is absolutely in the top 10. In this interview, she shares some of her secrets. Maybe Esther's thoughts will help you submit more successfully. (So will reading the Slashdot FAQ.)
An anonymous reader writes "For the second year in a row, the number of self-published ebooks with the word zombie in their title has doubled. The annual check is performed on Halloween in Amazon's Kindle Store, and this year discovers 8,052 ebooks (with titles like 'Jesus Camp Zombie Bloodbath' and 'Never Slow Dance with a Zombie...') — more than 12 times the number that appear in the Library of Congress. 71-year-old literary author Joyce Carol Oates — twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize — also named her 2009 novel about a serial killer 'Zombie (P.S.'", but most of the titles in the Kindle Store 'aren't as ambitious,' notes this article, which still applauds the self-published authors and their 'massive outpouring of new creativity, as people all around the globe start wondering what's going to happen in their own imaginary zombie scenarios...'"
An anonymous reader writes "I've recently moved continents, and one of the things I've noticed is the lack of the latest technology, as well as high prices for books and other goods here in Australia. I'm looking at package redirection services from the US, and there's a bewildering array of offerings, at a wide range of prices. What should I look out for? I'm hoping to reduce overall shipping costs to, but obviously worried about costs to deliver mostly empty boxes (yes, I'm talking about you, Amazon), damage to electrical goods from rough handling, packages going missing (does everything have to be registered post or tracked?), import duties (I'm not buying anything that should attract import duty, but still...) and overall costs (I'm not going to be buying frequently, just occasionally). What have other slashdot readers used, and what would they recommend?"
In this video, we talk with author David Craddock about his investigation into the early days of game studio Blizzard for his new book, Stay Awhile and Listen. He's joined by Dave Brevik and Max Schaefer, two of the co-founders of Blizzard North. They talk about some of the ways in which making video games was different back in the early '90s -- and the ways it's similar to making games today. They also discuss the importance of having lively debates, and how one of those arguments led to Diablo being a real-time action game, instead of being turn-based. (This is the first half of an extended interview -- part 2 will be available on Monday.
Many of today's adult video gamers grew up with a gaming industry that was still trying to figure itself out. In the early-to-mid 1990s, most of the gaming genres we're familiar with today were still indistinct, half-formed concepts waiting for that one game necessary to define them. Thus, many players sat up and took notice when a relatively unknown company named Blizzard managed to exemplify not one, but two separate types of game in quick succession. Warcraft: Orcs and Humans put real-time strategy on the map, and Diablo set the standard for action RPGs. The two games immediately elevated Blizzard to the top of the industry, and many gamers wondered how one studio could put out two games like these so quickly. As it turns out, it wasn't one studio; it was a blending of two very different but extremely creative groups who had a passion for making video games. In Stay Awhile and Listen, author David Craddock lays out the history of the two groups, from how they first got into the gaming business to their eventual success launching now-legendary games. Read on for our review of the book.
benrothke writes "David Mitchell Smith wrote in the Gartner report Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing last year that while clearly maturing and beyond the peak of inflated expectations, cloud computing continues to be one of the most hyped subjects in IT. The report is far from perfect, but it is accurate in the sense that while cloud computing is indeed ready for prime time, the hype with it ensures that too many firms will be using it with too much hype, and not enough reality and detailed requirements. While there have been many books written about the various aspects of cloud computing, Testing Cloud Services: How to Test SaaS, PaaS & IaaS is the first that enables the reader to successfully make the transition from hype to actuality from a testing and scalability perspective." Read on for the rest of Ben's review.
First time accepted submitter Sara Konrath writes "The App Generation gives an overview of how digital media and technology may affect young people's perceptions of themselves, their ability to relate to others, and their creativity. As the director of the Interdisciplinary Program on Empathy and Altruism Research (iPEAR), my research finds that there have been generational changes in personality traits related to social functioning. For example, we find that narcissism has been rising while dispositional empathy has been declining in recent generations. I also study the relationship between such traits and the use of social media. Considering this, I was excited to get a copy of the book ahead of its release date." Keep reading for the rest of Sara's review.
An anonymous reader writes "State education in South Africa has been described as 'in crisis'. A recent report (pdf) says that even the top 20% of private schools only achieve the same results as the average in other middle income countries like Chile. In maths and science, teachers often can't answer and don't understand the questions they have to set their pupils. One government school in Johannesburg, however, has taken an enormously bold step and gone 'fully digital' in a move that others may follow. Since January, all pupils have been required to buy a tablet computer instead of textbooks — which, astonishingly, saves families around R500 ($50) in the first year and R1500 ($150) in subsequent years, a huge amount of money for many families there. The teachers are confident that that learning outcomes are better as well — and if the end of year tests in a month's time are positive, other schools may follow suit."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Tourists often marvel at the number of rich and varied bookstores along Paris streets. Right across from Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the city's most famous independent bookstores, Shakespeare and Company. Inside, every inch of space is crammed with books and readers. The city buys buildings in high-rent districts and tries to keep a core of 300 independent bookstore by offering booksellers leases at an affordable price. 'We have to keep our identity,' says Lynn Cohen-Solal, 'because if we don't, all the shops are exactly the same in Paris, in London, in New York, in New Delhi, everywhere.' Now Eleanor Beardsley reports at NPR that the French government has accused Amazon of trying to push the price of physical books too low and is limiting discounts on books to ensure the survival of its independent booksellers. France's lower house of parliament has unanimously voted to add an amendment to a law from 1981, known in France as the Lang Law which sets the value of new books at fixed prices and only allows retailers to lower books' set price by 5%, in an effort to regulate competition between booksellers and to promote reading. Guillaume Husson, spokesman for the SLF book retailers' union, says Amazon's practice of bundling a 5 percent discount with free delivery amounted to selling books at a loss, which was impossible for traditional book sellers of any size. 'Today, the competition is unfair,' says Husson. 'No other book retailer, whether a small or large book or even a chain, can allow itself to lose that much money,' referring to Amazon's alleged losses on free delivery. Amazon spent $2.8 billion on free shipping worldwide last year to gain a competitive advantage. The bill limiting Amazon's price reductions in France still has to pass the Senate to become law. In a statement, Amazon said any effort to raise the price of books diminishes the cultural choices of French consumers and penalizes both Internet users and small publishers who rely on Internet sales."
Nick Kolakowski writes "Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos regarded Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as a rival, but the men had more in common than they might have believed. Like Jobs, Bezos had a vision of a tech company, started it on a small budget with a tight cluster of coworkers, and fought to grow it into an industry giant. And as detailed in The Everything Store, a new book about the rise of Amazon.com, Bezos also boasts a Jobs-like temper, riddling his subordinates with withering insults when he feels a project is imperfect or falling behind schedule." Read on for the rest of his review.