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Books

Interviews: Ask Tim O'Reilly About a Life Steeped In Technology 39

Posted by timothy
from the spawning-ideas dept.
Today's interview guest is literally a household name: If you look at the shelves in nearly any programmer's house, developer shop or hackerspace, you'll probably see a stretch of books from O'Reilly Media (or O'Reilly & Associates, depending on how old the books are). Tim O'Reilly started out publishing a few technical manuals in the late '70s, branching from there into well-received technical reference and instructional books, notably ones covering open source languages and operating systems (how many people learned to install and run a new OS from Matt Walsh's Running Linux?), but neither Tim O'Reilly nor the company has gotten stuck in one place for long. As a publisher, he was early to make electronic editions available, in step with the increasing capabilities of electronic readers. Make Magazine (later spun off as part of Maker Media, which also produces Maker Faires around the world) started as an O'Reilly project; the company's conferences like OSCON, Fluent, and this year's Solid are just as much a manifestation of O'Reilly's proclivity for spreading knowledge as the books are, and those are only part of the picture, being joined with seminars, video presentations, and more. Tim O'Reilly is often hailed as a futurist and an activist (he was an early proponent of 3-D printing and hardware hacking, and a loud voice for patent reform) and he's got his eye on trends from global (how the Internet functions) to more personal -- like ways that physical goods can be produced, customized, and networked. So please go ahead and ask O'Reilly about what it's been like to be a publisher of paper books in an ever-more electronic world, as well as a visionary in the world of DIY and fabrication, or anything else on your mind. As usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Books

Sony Tosses the Sony Reader On the Scrap Heap 172

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the end-of-line dept.
Nate the greatest (2261802) writes Sony has decided to follow up closing its ebook stores in the U.S. and Europe by getting out of the consumer ebook reader market entirely. (Yes, Sony was still making ereaders.) The current model (the Sony Reader PRS-T3) will be sold until stock runs out, and Sony won't be releasing a new model. This is a sad end for what used to be a pioneering company. This gadget maker might not have made the first ebook reader but it was the first to use the paper-like E-ink screen. Having launched the Sony Librie in 2004, Sony literally invented the modern ebook reader and it then went on to release the only 7" models to grace the market as well as the first ereader to combine a touchscreen and frontlight (the Sony Reader PRS-700). Unfortunately Sony couldn't come up with software or an ebook retail site which matched their hardware genius, so even though Sony released amazing hardware it had been losing ground to Amazon, B&N, and other retailers ever since the Kindle launched in 2007.
Books

Book Review: Introduction To Cyber-Warfare: A Multidisciplinary Approach 27

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes Cyberwarfare is a controversial topic. At the 2014 Infosec World Conference, Marcus Ranum gave a talk on Cyberwar: Putting Civilian Infrastructure on the Front Lines, Again. Whether it was the topic or just Marcus being Marcus, about a third of the participants left within the first 15 minutes. They should have stayed, as Ranum, agree with him or not, provided some riveting insights on the topic. In Introduction to Cyber-Warfare: A Multidisciplinary Approach, authors Paulo Shakarian, Jana Shakarian and Andrew Ruef provide an excellent overview of the topic. The book takes a holistic, or as they call it multidisciplinary, approach. It looks at the information security aspect of cyberwarfare, as well the military, sociological and other aspects. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
Books

Apple $450 Million e-Book Settlement Wins Court Approval 93

Posted by samzenpus
from the red-light-green-light dept.
An anonymous reader writes A week after Judge Denise Cote put forward concerns over a proposed settlement with consumers over e-book price-fixing in the iBookstore, she has given Apple preliminary approval for its $450 million settlement. "The proposed settlement agreement is within the range of those that may be approved as fair and reasonable, such that notice to the class is appropriate," Cote said. "Preliminary approval is granted." Cote set a final fairness hearing for Nov. 21.
Books

Amazon's eBook Math 306

Posted by Soulskill
from the there's-one-for-you-nineteen-for-me dept.
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."
Sci-Fi

Ridley Scott to Produce Philip K Dick's The Man In the High Castle 144

Posted by timothy
from the it's-all-in-your-head dept.
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.
Transportation

World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft Goes Into Production In China 85

Posted by timothy
from the spruce-goose-has-it-beat-for-size dept.
stephendavion (2872091) writes "Chinese aircraft manufacturer China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) has started trial production of its TA600 amphibious aircraft, claimed to be the world's largest of its kind. With an expected maiden flight late next year, the Chinese plane would replace Japan's ShinMaywa US-2 short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft as the largest of its kind globally." Take a look at a side profile illustration of the CA-600, on this Korean language page. The TA600 has a huge maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tons, but looks a bit puny compared to Howard Hughes' H-4 Hercules.
Books

Apple Acquires "Pandora For Books" Booklamp For $15 Million 26

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.
Books

Nightfall: Can Kalgash Exist? 86

Posted by timothy
from the burning-questions dept.
First time accepted submitter jIyajbe (662197) writes Two researchers from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics investigate the imaginary world of Kalgash, a planetary system based on the novel 'Nightfall' (Asimov & Silverberg, 1991). From the arXiv paper: "The system consists of a planet, a moon and an astonishing six suns. The six stars cause the wider universe to be invisible to the inhabitants of the planet. The author explores the consequences of an eclipse and the resulting darkness which the Kalgash people experience for the first time. Our task is to verify if this system is feasible, from the duration of the eclipse, the 'invisibility' of the universe to the complex orbital dynamics." Their conclusion? "We have explored several aspects of Asimov's novel. We have found that the suns, especially Dovim are bright enough to blot out the stars. Kalgash 2 can eclipse Dovim for a period of 9 hours. We also tested one possible star configuration and after running some simulations, we found that the system is possible for short periods of time."
The Almighty Buck

Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell 168

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-will-gladly-pay-you-tuesday-for-a-hamburger-with-2-day-shipping dept.
New submitter shirleymarone sends word that investors are becoming impatient with Amazon's willingness to absorb short-term losses for theoretical long-term gains. The company brought in over $19 billion in revenue last quarter, but reported a net loss of $126 million. The company warned of even greater losses this quarter. Amazon officials exude a serene if vague confidence. "We're not trying to optimize for short-term profits," Thomas J. Szkutak, the chief financial officer, said in a conference call. "We're investing on behalf of customers and share owners," he said. "We're fortunate to have these opportunities." But even the analysts, who are generally enthusiastic about the company and its global ambitions, are asking slightly more pointed questions these days. For all these investments, one analyst asked Mr. Szkutak, why are sales not increasing even faster? His answer: Just wait. ... Amazon, which is based in Seattle, long ago transcended its roots as a simple retailer. In recent weeks it introduced Zocalo, a document storage and sharing service that grew out of its fast-growing web services division. It began a program to allow readers to consume as many e-books as they want for a set monthly fee. And it is starting to ship its long-awaited entry in the smartphone sweepstakes. The phone, the result of years of development by thousands of Amazon programmers and designers, is meeting some resistance from reviewers.
Books

Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is 192

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-amazon's-not-driving-writing-to-the-hospital dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has been struggling for price control of the book and ebook markets for years, battling publicly and privately with publishers while making a lot of authors nervous. With yesterday's announcement of "Kindle Unlimited," a Netflix-like ebook subscription service, Amazon is reaching their endgame in disrupting the book-selling business. But there are other companies doing the same thing, and an article at TechCrunch makes the case that it's the general market, rather than any company in particular, that's making it harder for authors to earn a living. "Driving the prices lower isn't likely to expand the market of readers, since book prices don't seem to be the deciding factor on whether someone reads a book (time is). But those lower prices directly shrink the incomes of authors, who lack any other means of translating their sales into additional revenue. That's why I don't think the big revolution for writers and other content producers will come from Amazon, but rather from startups like Patreon, which allow producers to build audiences directly and develop their own direct subscription model with their most fervent fans."
Role Playing (Games)

Dungeons & Dragons' Influence and Legacy 127

Posted by Soulskill
from the roll-for-initiative dept.
An anonymous reader writes: This year is the 40th anniversary of the launch of Dungeons & Dragons, and it's getting a lot of mainstream attention. Long-time and former players are examining the game's influence and its legacy, even as it's being introduced to yet another generation of kids. "For countless players, Dungeons & Dragons redirected teen-age miseries and energies that might have been put to more destructive uses. How many depressed and lonely kids turned away from suicide because they found community and escape in role-playing games? How many acts of bullying or vandalism were sublimated into dice-driven combat? ... How many underage D.U.I.s never came to pass because spell tables were being consulted late into the night?" Meanwhile, as people who played the game long ago have grown into adults producing their own works, our culture has reaped the benefits of D&D's influence. "The league of ex-gamer writers also includes the 'weird fiction' author China Miéville (The City & the City); Brent Hartinger (author of Geography Club, a novel about gay and bisexual teenagers); the sci-fi and young adult author Cory Doctorow; the poet and fiction writer Sherman Alexie; the comedian Stephen Colbert; George R. R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series (who still enjoys role-playing games). Others who have been influenced are television and film storytellers and entertainers like Robin Williams, Matt Groening (The Simpsons), Dan Harmon (Community) and Chris Weitz (American Pie)."
Books

Apple Agrees To $450 Million Ebook Antitrust Settlement 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the throwing-the-ebook-at-them dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Last year, a U.S. District Judge ruled that Apple conspired with publishers to control ebook prices in violation of antitrust laws. Apple launched an appeal which has yet to conclude, but they've now agreed to a settlement. If the appeal verdict goes against Apple, they will be on the hook for $450 million, most of which will go to consumers. If they win the appeal, they'll still have to pay $70 million. $450 million is much more than the other publishers had to pay, but much less than the expected penalty from a damages trial set for August (and still only about one percent of Apple's annual profit).
Books

Amazon Is Testing a $10-Per-Month Ebook Service 87

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the what-is-a-library dept.
Nate the greatest (2261802) writes "Details are still scarce but it looks like Amazon is going to be launching a competitor to Scribd and Oyster. Earlier today new pages leaked on the Amazon website which mentioned Kindle Unlimited, a new subscription ebook service. The pages were quickly removed, but not before we got some screenshots. If the screenshots are to be believed Kindle Unlimited is going to offer a catalog of over 600,000 titles for $9.99 a month. The news hasn't been confirmed by Amazon but those pages were seen by a number of authors and bloggers, including indie authors who confirmed that the new service is mentioned in their sales reports."
Entertainment

Marvel's New Thor Will Be a Woman 590

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-test-hemsworth's-acting-chops dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Marvel Comics has announced that Thor, the thunder god whose story has been told in comic books, movies, and TV shows since the 1960s, will fall from grace, and no longer be able to wield his hammer Mjolnir. A brand new female character will take up the name Thor and continue the series. Jason Aaron, the series writer, said, "This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it's unlike any Thor we've ever seen before." Marvel's Wil Moss added, "The new Thor continues Marvel's proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn't a temporary female substitute — she's now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs? 509

Posted by Soulskill
from the robot-overlord-exterminator dept.
An anonymous reader writes: My niece, who is graduating from high school, has asked me for some career advice. Since I work in data processing, my first thought was to recommend a degree course in computer science or computer engineering. However, after reading books by Jeremy Rifkin (The Third Industrial Revolution) and Ray Kurzweil (How to Create a Mind), I now wonder whether a career in information technology is actually better than, say, becoming a lawyer or a construction worker. While the two authors differ in their political persuasions (Rifkin is a Green leftist and Kurzweil is a Libertarian transhumanist), both foresee an increasingly automated future where most of humanity would become either jobless or underemployed by the middle of the century. While robots take over the production of consumer hardware, Big Data algorithms like the ones used by Google and IBM appear to be displacing even white collar tech workers. How long before the only ones left on the payroll are the few "rockstar" programmers and administrators needed to maintain the system? Besides politics and drug dealing, what jobs are really future-proof? Would it be better if my niece took a course in the Arts, since creativity is looking to be one of humanity's final frontiers against the inevitable Rise of the Machines?
Books

The Least They Could Do: Amazon Charges 1 Cent To Meet French Free Shipping Ban 309

Posted by timothy
from the not-a-sou-more dept.
Last year, we mentioned that the French government was unhappy with Amazon for offering better prices than the French competition, and strongly limited the amount by which retailers can discount books. Last month, the French parliament also passed a law banning free delivery of books. Ars Technica reports that Amazon has responded with a one-penny shipping rate on the orders that would previously have shipped free. Says the article: This is by no means the first time France has tried to put a damper on major US tech companies dabbling in books or other reading materials. In 2011, the country updated an old law related to printed books that then allowed publishers to impose set e-book pricing on Apple and others. And in 2012, there was the very public dispute between French lawmakers and Google over the country's desire to see French media outlets paid for having their content pop up in search results. At least for now with this most recent situation, an online giant has found a relatively quick and easy way to regain the upperhand.
United Kingdom

UK Gov't Plans To Push "Emergency" Surveillance Laws 147

Posted by timothy
from the back-in-line-citizen dept.
beaker_72 (1845996) writes The Guardian reports that the UK government has unveiled plans to introduce emergency surveillance laws into the UK parliament at the beginning of next week. These are aimed at reinforcing the powers of security services in the UK to force service providers to retain records of their customers phone calls and emails. The laws, which have been introduced after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that existing laws invaded individual privacy, will receive cross-party support and so will not be subjected to scrutiny or challenged in Parliament before entering the statute books. But as Tom Watson (Labour backbench MP and one of few dissenting voices) has pointed out, the ECJ ruling was six weeks ago, so why has the government waited until now to railroad something through. Unless of course they don't want it scrutinised too closely.
Books

Book Review: Data-Driven Security: Analysis, Visualization and Dashboards 26

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes There is a not so fine line between data dashboards and other information displays that provide pretty but otherwise useless and unactionable information; and those that provide effective answers to key questions. Data-Driven Security: Analysis, Visualization and Dashboards is all about the later. In this extremely valuable book, authors Jay Jacobs and Bob Rudis show you how to find security patterns in your data logs and extract enough information from it to create effective information security countermeasures. By using data correctly and truly understanding what that data means, the authors show how you can achieve much greater levels of security. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
Censorship

Russia Moves From Summer Time To Standard Time 158

Posted by Soulskill
from the turn-back-the-clock dept.
jones_supa writes: Russia's legislature, often accused of metaphorically turning back the clock, has decided to do it literally – abandoning the policy of keeping the country on daylight-saving time all year. The 2011 move to impose permanent "summer time" in 2011 was one of the most memorable and least popular initiatives of Dmitry Medvedev's presidency. It forced tens of millions to travel to their jobs in pitch darkness during the winter. In the depths of December, the sun doesn't clear the horizon in Moscow until 10am. The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, voted 442-1 on Tuesday to return to standard time this autumn and stay there all year. The article also discusses a ban on swearing in books, plays, and films that went into effect today in Russia.

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