Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter
An anonymous reader writes "BBC News is reporting that Iain Banks, best known for his Culture series novels and The Wasp Factory, has died of cancer aged 59. It had been announced several months ago that he was suffering from bladder cancer, and he had stated his intentions to spend his remaining time visiting places which meant a lot to him after marrying his partner."
theodp writes "It was the best of movies; it was the worst of movies. GeekWire reports that The Internship — the new comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as two 40-something guys who get internships at Google — is getting high praise from Googlers but low marks from movie critics. Google CEO Larry Page called the movie 'a lot of fun' in his Google+ post, while fellow Google exec Vic Gundotra gushed, 'I laughed a lot while watching this movie!' After screening a sneak preview with Google companions, Wired's Steven Levy wrote, 'From Google's point of view, the movie could not possibly be better.' USA Today's take, on the other hand, is that 'Google has never looked lamer thanks to The Internship.' And the NY Daily News calls the movie 'an unfunny valentine to Google.' But perhaps the unkindest cut of all comes from the NY Post, who suggests that 'maybe The Internship was secretly funded by Bing.' Ouch." Update: 06/07 20:02 GMT by T : Peter Wayner saw the movie (a "harmless bit of summer fluff"), and his full-length take below takes on some of the tech-company misconceptions that the film-makers gleefully adopted as script material.
benrothke writes "Phil Lapsley calls his book 'the untold story of the teenagers and outlaws who hacked Ma Bell.' The story is an old one, going back to the early 1960's. Lapsley was able to track down many of the original phone phreaks and get their story. Many of them, even though the years have passed, asked Lapsley not to use their real names." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
Bennett Haselton writes with his take on a case going back and forth in U.S. courts right now about whether a defendant can be ordered to decrypt his own hard drives when they may incriminate him. "A Wisconsin defendant in a criminal child-pornography case recently invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid giving the FBI the password to decrypt his hard drive. At the risk of alienating fellow civil-libertarians, I admit I've never seen the particular value of the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. So I pose this logical puzzle: come up with a specific, precisely defined scenario, where the Fifth Amendment makes a positive difference." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Strengthened by an agreement with Apple that set the prices for their respective e-books higher, publishers strong-armed Amazon into giving them similar terms, an executive for the online retailer has testified in Manhattan federal court. The U.S. Department of Justice has taken Apple to court over the alleged price-fixing, after reaching out-of-court settlements with five publishers (HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, and MacMillian). Apple, which competes with Amazon in the e-book space, refused a similar settlement. "Certainly if someone offered reseller, we would have taken them up on that offer," Russell Grandinetti, Amazon's vice president for Kindle content, testified before the court, according to Reuters. "Reseller" means a company sells goods to a retailer for a particular price (usually wholesale), allowing the retailer to set the actual sales price. Under the terms of that model, Amazon could sell e-books for super-cheap, even if it meant going beneath the publisher's wholesale price. Macmillan and Amazon ended up in conflict over the issue, with Amazon temporarily yanking the publisher's e-books from its digital shelves. "We will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books," Amazon wrote in a statement at the time. "Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it's reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book." But Amazon eventually relented to Macmillan's demands, along with those of other publishers, and submitted to the agency model, in which publishers have a heavier hand in setting retail pricing."
Peter Wayner is no stranger to Slashdot. Not only that, he's written a bunch of books, plus articles for InfoWorld, PC World, the New York Times, and many other publications. Now he's working on a book about Autonomous Cars. Last year Peter wrote an article for Car & Driver about the privacy implications of vehicle recorders. Driverless cars will bring us a whole new set of problems, questions, and -- no doubt -- legislation. We're hoping to have more conversations on this topic (and others) with Peter in the future, so with any luck this video will be the first of a long series. With all that said, take it away, interviewer Timothy Lord... Update: 06/05 21:56 GMT by T : Peter's book is still in progress, but it's got a website, if you'd like an early glance.
An anonymous reader writes "The Times publishes Assange's takedown of Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen. From the article: 'New Digital Age is a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of its leading witch doctors, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the 21st century. This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley, as personified by Mr. Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Mr. Cohen, a former adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton who is now director of Google Ideas.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Technology giant Apple is to begin its defence against charges by the US government that it tried to fix the prices of e-books. The iPad-maker is accused of working with publishers in 2009 to set prices in an effort to compete in the e-book market dominated by Amazon. Quotes from Steve Jobs' official biography have been cited as evidence in the case."
New submitter BryanLunduke writes "One week ago I Open Sourced my — previously commercial — software (GPL) and comic books (creative commons). I am now documenting my journey to fully fund their continued development with the first week's results of funding via donations. I am publishing this information here to give others the facts they need to help decide if they can afford to do something similar."
Presto Vivace writes "In a blog post, danps explains how the music industry initially thought that the Internet meant that people wanted their music for free. In 2003 Apple persuaded the industry to use an online music store with DRM. But DRM just does not work for consumers, so by 2011 online music stores were DRM-free. Sadly, the book industry has not learned these lessons. And there are larger lessons for the gadget industry: 'The tech industry right now is churning out lots of different devices, operating systems and form factors in an attempt to get the One True Gadget — the thing you'll take with you everywhere and use for everything. That's a lovely aspiration, but I don't see it happening. What I see instead is people wanting to only carry around one thing at a time, and rotating through several: Smart phone for everyday use, tablet for the beach, laptop for the road, etc. If you can't get the book you paid for on each of those devices, it's a pain. As a reader I want to be able to put a book on everything as soon as I buy it so I always have a local (non-Internet dependent) copy — no matter which thing I run out of the house with.'"
New submitter angelofdarkness writes "Jack Vance died Sunday evening. He was 96. Thank you for the stories and adventures and for influencing the games I still play after all these years. From the article: 'A science fiction Grand Master, Vance is probably best remembered for his four Dying Earth novels, which take place in a far-future Earth where the sun has dimmed and magic has been reestablished as a dominant force. They feature a brilliant picaresque adventure tone, including the unforgettable thief Cugel the Clever, and they were also celebrated in a recent anthology Songs of the Dying Earth, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. These books contain Vance's characteristic ironic, lightly humorous style, which has influenced generations of science fiction writers." Reader paai points to the official Jack Vance website, and this 2009 profile in the New York Times.
stoolpigeon writes "How would humanity fare in a universe filled with other sentient races and the technology for all of them to interact? If human history is any indication there would be conflict. That conflict would be between many groups that saw themselves as people and the rest as monsters. What that universe and those interactions would look like is a key theme in John Scalzi's Old Man's War series. The latest offering, The Human Division continues to dig deeply into a wide range of questions about what makes someone a person and how people treat one another at their best and worst." Keep reading for the rest of stoolpigeon's review.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Apple could face a difficult time winning its court case against the U.S. Department of Justice over e-book pricing, according to the federal judge overseeing the trial. 'I believe that the government will be able to show at trial direct evidence that Apple knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of e-books,' U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said during a May 23 pretrial hearing, according to Reuters, 'and that the circumstantial evidence in this case, including the terms of the agreements, will confirm that.' Apple's legal counsel is a bit perturbed over her comments. 'We strongly disagree with the court's preliminary statements about the case today,' Apple lawyer Orin Snyder wrote in a statement also reprinted by Reuters. The Justice Department has asserted that Apple, along with those publishers, conspired to raise retail e-book prices in tandem 'and eliminate price competition, substantially increasing prices paid by consumers.' Apple battles Amazon in the e-book space, with the latter company achieving great success over the past few years by driving down the price of e-books and Kindle e-readers; while Apple co-founder insisted in emails to News Corp executive James Murdoch (son of Rupert Murdoch), that Amazon's pricing was ultimately unsustainable, the online retailer shows no signs of flagging with regard to its publishing-industry clout."
benrothke writes "Had Locked Down: Information Security for Lawyers not been published by the American Bar Association (ABA) and 2 of its 3 authors not been attorneys; one would have thought the book is a reproach against attorneys for their obliviousness towards information security and privacy. In numerous places, the book notes that lawyers are often clueless when it comes to digital security. With that, the book is a long-overdue and valuable information security reference for anyone, not just lawyers." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
jyosim writes "Hundreds of people are spending 20 or 30 hours a week just taking free Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. They're not looking for credit, just the challenge of learning. This Chronicle of Higher Ed story looks at whether these MOOC addicts think they're learning as much as they would in a traditional college course. From the article: 'Consider Anna Nachesa, a 42-year-old single mother in a village near Amsterdam who logs on to MOOCs for several hours each night after dinner with her teenage kids. She has always found TV boring, she says, and for her, MOOCs replace reading books. She is a physicist by training, with a degree from Moscow State University, and she works as a software developer. "This stuff is actually addictive," she says. In some ways the lure is like Everest: Some want to climb it to see if they can. "The Dutch have the proverb 'If you never shoot, you already missed,'" she says.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Back in April 2012, the U.S. Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and a number of publishers for allegedly colluding to raise the price of e-books on the iBookstore. As part of its investigation into Apple's actions, the Justice Department collected evidence which it claims demonstrates that Apple was the 'ringmaster' in a price fixing conspiracy. Specifically, the Justice Department claims that Apple wielded its power in the mobile app market to coerce publishers to agree to Apple's terms for iBookstore pricing."
Nerval's Lobster writes "The United States with its H-1B controversy isn't the only country going through that sort of immigration upheaval. As the cult of entrepreneurship spirals upward in Europe, the intricate vagaries of immigration policy on the continent are being newly scrutinized by our company-building classes. Freshly venture-backed European Internet companies want talent, and they are going to remarkable lengths to get it — but not always legally. Milo Yiannopoulos talked to whole bunch of entrepreneurs and investors in Europe about the fudges, shortcuts, workarounds and, in some cases, 'strategic decision-making' are — just about — getting their companies the talent they need. For example, one well-known Parisian venture capitalist told Milo that he knows of 'at least nine' startups in France employing developers illegally, keeping them off the books not only to avoid France's notoriously onerous labor laws but also because it would have been impossible, or simply too expensive, to import them officially."
Google's I/O annual conference is ramping up at San Francisco's Moscone Center. Last year, in the conference keynote, the company took its biggest-yet dive into hardware when it introduced the Nexus 7 tablet, Google Glass, and the ill-fated Nexus Q. The secret is out on Glass, of course: this year, there's a pavilion inside the conference center where I'm sure they'll be showing off applications for it. (Quite a few of the people in the endless lines here are wearing their own, too.) Anticipating the announcements at I/O is practically its own industry, but it's easy to guess that there will be announcements from all the major pots in which Google has its many thousands of (tapping) fingers. Android, search, Chrome, mapping, and all the other ways in which the behemoth of Mountain View is watching what you do. You can watch the keynote talk (talks, really) streamed online from the main conference link above, but this story will be updated with highlights of the announcements, as well with stories that readers contribute. Update: 05/15 16:22 GMT by T : Updates below. Update: 05/15 19:02 GMT by T :Update details: Notes (ongoing) added below on maps, gaming, the Play store, Google+, and more. And, notable, Larry Page is (at this writing) on stage, with an unannounced Q & A session.