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Television

Is There Too Much New Programming On TV? 14

HughPickens.com writes: John Koblin writes in the NY Times that there's a crisis in television programming felt among executives, viewers and critics, and it's the result of one thing: There is simply too much on television. John Landgraf, chief executive of FX Networks, reported at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour that the total number of original scripted series on TV in 2014 was 371. The total will surpass 400 in 2015. The glut, according to Landgraf, has presented "a huge challenge in finding compelling original stories and the level of talent needed to sustain those stories."

Michael Lombardo, president of programming at HBO, says it is harder than ever to build an audience for a show when viewers are confronted with so many choices and might click away at any moment. "I hear it all the time," says Lombardo. "People going, 'I can't commit to another show, and I don't have the time to emotionally commit to another show.' I hear that, and I'm aware of it, and I get it." Another complication is that shows not only compete against one another, but also against old series that live on in the archives of Amazon, Hulu or Netflix. So a new season of "Scandal," for example, is also competing against old series like "The Wire." "The amount of competition is just literally insane," says Landgraf.

Others point out that the explosion in programming has created more opportunity for shows with diverse casts and topics, such as "Jane the Virgin," "Transparent" and "Orange Is the New Black." Marti Noxon, the showrunner for Lifetime's "UnREAL" and Bravo's "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce," says there has been a "sea change" in the last five years. "I couldn't have gotten those two shows on TV five years ago," says Noxon. "There was not enough opportunity for voices that speak to a smaller audience. Now many of these places are looking to reach some people — not all the people. That's opened up a tremendous opportunity for women and other people that have been left out of the conversation."
Businesses

Video Brady Forrest Talks About Building a Hardware Startup (Video) 8

Brady Forrest is co-author of The Hardware Startup: Building Your Product, Business, and Brand. He has extensive experience building both products and startups, including staffing, financing, and marketing. If you are thinking or dreaming about doing a startup, you should not only watch the video to "meet" Brady, but read the transcript for more info than the video covers.
Cellphones

Cheap Smartphones Quietly Becoming Popular In the US 168

An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that ZTE and its cheap Android smartphones have been grabbing more and more of the market in the U.S. It's not that the phones are particularly good — it's that they're "good enough" for the $60 price tag. The company has moved up to fourth among smartphone makers, behind Apple, Samsung and LG. That puts them ahead of a lot of companies making premium devices: HTC, Motorola, and BlackBerry, to name a few. ZTE, a Chinese manufacturer, seems to be better at playing the U.S. markets than competitors like Xiaomi and Huawei, and they're getting access to big carriers and big retailers. "Its phone sales are all the more surprising because it's been frozen out of the more lucrative telecom networking market since 2012. That year, the House Intelligence Committee issued a report warning that China's intelligence services could potentially use ZTE's equipment, and those of rival Huawei Technologies, for spying. Huawei then dismissed the allegations as 'little more than an exercise in China bashing.'"
Businesses

ThinkGeek Opens First Physical Store In Orlando 60

New submitter Enderxeno writes with news that on September 25th, geek merchandise retailer ThinkGeek will open its first brick-and-mortar store in Orlando, Florida. The store will open in a mall, and the company will be running it with the help of GameStop, who bought ThinkGeek back in June. The new store will have a 3,000 square foot space that used to be occupied by Radio Shack, and it will focus "entirely on collectibles." (Disclosure: Slashdot and ThinkGeek used to share a corporate overlord. We don't talk anymore, but we still like them. Even though they finally took away our employee discounts.)
Media

Sultan of Sound, Dr. James Flanagan, Passed Away Aged 89 13

An anonymous reader writes: A pioneer in the field of acoustics, Dr. James L. Flanagan provided "the technical foundation for speech recognition, teleconferencing, MP3 music files, and the more efficient digital transmission of human conversation." The NYTimes covered his recent passing: "His innovations included preserving the sound of a human voice while crunching it digitally, as well as teaching computers to articulate — converting sound waves into digital pulses. He also helped devise a 'force-feedback' tactile glove, similar to today’s video game accessories, that enabled medical students to simulate hands-on examinations when a live patient or cadaver was not available (or to mimic a game of handball). Dr. Flanagan also played a minor role in the drama surrounding the downfall of President Richard M. Nixon." An older (2005) article from IEEE Spectrum titled "Sultan of Sound" provides background on his work and impact. An interview (1997) discussing his WWII service, research at AT&T Bell Labs & Rutgers University is part of the IEEE oral history series.
Communications

Municipal ISP Makes 10Gbps Available To All Residents 160

An anonymous reader writes: Five years ago, the city of Salisbury, North Carolina began a project to roll out fiber across its territory. They decided to do so because the private ISPs in the area weren't willing to invest more in the local infrastructure. Now, Salisbury has announced that it's ready to make 10 Gbps internet available to all of the city's residents. While they don't expect many homeowners to have a use for the $400/month 10 Gbps plan, they expect to have some business customers. "This is really geared toward attracting businesses that need this type of bandwidth and have it anywhere they want in the city." Normal residents can get 50 Mbps upstream and downstream for $45/month. A similar service was rolled out for a rural section of Vermont in June. Hopefully these cities will serve as blueprints for other locations that aren't able to get a decent fiber system from private ISPs.
Data Storage

Police Body Camera Business All About the Video Evidence Storage 98

Lucas123 writes: Body cameras are the fastest growing segment of the police video camera business. The two largest police body camera manufacturers today — Taser and VieVu — say they've shipped devices to 41% of the nation's 18,000 police departments. But, the hardware is only the basis for the real business: video evidence storage. Last year, Taser's gross profit margins on hardware were 15.6%; the gross margins for video storage were 51%, according to Glenn Mattson, who follows Taser as an equity analyst for Ladenburg Thalmann. "There's no contest. They don't care about making money on the cameras," Mattson said. As of the first quarter of this year, more than a petabyte of police video has been uploaded to Taser's Evidence.com service. Just one of VieVu's clients, the Oakland PD, has uploaded more than a million police videos. The cost of storage, however, is so high that police departments have been forced to determine strict retention policies, that in some cases may effect the long-term handling of evidence. In Birmingham, Ala., for example, where they've deployed 300 cameras and hope to double that this year, the the video cameras themselves cost about $180,000, but the department's total outlay for a five-year contract including cloud storage with Taser will be $889,000.
Security

Government Still Hasn't Notified Individuals Whose Personal Data Was Hacked 71

schwit1 writes: Months after the federal government admitted publicly that the personal data of more than 20 million government employees had been hacked they still have not sent notifications to those millions. The agency whose data was hacked, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), said the Defense Department will begin "later this month" to notify employees and contractors across the government that their personal information was accessed by hackers. OPM said notifications would continue over several weeks and "will be sent directly to impacted individuals." OPM also announced that it hired a contractor to help protect the identities and credit ratings of employees whose data was hacked. In a statement, OPM said it had awarded a contract initially worth more than $133 million to a company called Identity Theft Guard Solutions LLC, doing business as ID experts, for identity theft protections for the 21.5 million victims of the security data breach. The contractor will provide credit and identity monitoring services for three years, as well as identity theft insurance, to affected individuals and dependent children aged under 18, the agency said.
Businesses

Why Do So Many Tech Workers Dislike Their Jobs? 468

Nerval's Lobster writes: So what if you work for a tech company that offers free lunch, in-house gym, and dry cleaning? A new survey suggests that a majority of software engineers, developers, and sysadmins are miserable. Granted, the survey in question only involved 5,000 respondents, so it shouldn't be viewed as comprehensive (it was also conducted by a company that deals in employee engagement), but it's nonetheless insightful into the reasons why a lot of tech pros apparently dislike their jobs. Apparently perks don't matter quite so much if your employees have no sense of mission, don't have a clear sense of how they can get promoted, and don't interact with their co-workers very well. While that should be glaringly obvious, a lot of companies are still fixated on the idea that minor perks will apparently translate into huge morale boosts; but free smoothies in the cafeteria only goes so far.
Google

Google Changes Logo 132

An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday, Google announced a logo change that many on Slashdot have probably already encountered. The logo, according to the technology supergiant, was updated to reflect the fact that people "interact with Google products across many different platforms, apps and devices—sometimes all in a single day." This differentiates from the past when people only used a desktop PC to access Google's services.
Businesses

Comcast To Charge $30 For Unlimited Data Over 300GB Cap 229

For some time, Comcast has been testing 300 GB monthly data caps in certain markets. An anonymous reader notes a policy change unveiled today that gives customers in those markets the ability to switch back to unlimited data for $30 extra. Previously (and currently, for customers who don't pay the extra $30), Comcast would charge $10 per 50GB above the cap. "Comcast's intent on this front has been clear for some time. Comcast lobbyist and VP David Cohen last year strongly suggested that usage caps would be arriving for all Comcast customers sooner or later. The idea of charging users a premium to avoid arbitrary usage restrictions has been a pipe dream of incumbent ISP executives for a decade." The new policy goes into effect on October 1.
Earth

Citi Report: Slowing Global Warming Could Save Tens of Trillions of Dollars 248

Layzej writes with news carried by The Guardian about a report published by the Global Perspectives & Solutions division of Citibank (America's third-largest bank) examining the costs and benefits of a low-carbon future. The report examined two hypothetical futures: one "business as usual," and the other (the "Action" scenario) which includes an aggressive move to reduce energy use and carbon emission. From the article: "One of the most interesting findings in the report is that the investment costs for the two scenarios are almost identical. In fact, because of savings due to reduced fuel costs and increased energy efficiency, the Action scenario is actually a bit cheaper than the Inaction scenario. Coupled with the fact the total spend is similar under both action and inaction, yet the potential liabilities of inaction are enormous, it is hard to argue against a path of action." But there will be winners and losers, says the report: "The biggest loser stands to be the coal industry, where we estimate cumulative spend under our Action scenario could be $11.6 trillion less than in our Inaction scenario over the next quarter century, with renewables, wind and nuclear (as well as energy efficiency) the main beneficiaries."
Bitcoin

Beyond Bitcoin: How Business Can Capitalize On Blockchains 68

snydeq writes: Bitcoin's widely trusted ledger offers intriguing possibilities for business use beyond cryptocurrency, writes InfoWorld's Peter Wayner. "From the beginning, bitcoin has assumed a shadowy, almost outlaw mystique," Wayner writes. "Even the mathematics of the technology are inscrutable enough to believe the worst. The irony is that the mathematical foundations of bitcoin create a solid record of legitimate ownership that may be more ironclad against fraud than many of the systems employed by businesses today. Plus, the open, collaborative way in which bitcoin processes transactions ensures the kind of network of trust that is essential to any business agreement."
Businesses

Apple Partners With Cisco To Boost Enterprise Business 90

An anonymous reader writes: Apple and Cisco announced a partnership aimed at helping Apple's devices work better for businesses. Cisco will provide services specially optimized for iOS devices across mobile, cloud, and on premises-based collaboration tools such as Cisco Spark, Cisco Telepresence and Cisco WebEx, the companies said in a statement. "What makes this new partnership unique is that our engineering teams are innovating together to build joint solutions that our sales teams and partners will take jointly to our customers," Cisco Chief Executive Chuck Robbins said in a blog post.
Television

Netflix Is Becoming Just Another TV Channel 293

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix revealed in a blog post that it will not renew its contract with Epix, meaning you won't be able to watch movies like The Hunger Games and World War Z through the service anymore. With the increase in cord-cutters and more original content, Netflix is positioning itself to be like any other TV channel (one that owns its own distribution model) and is betting that customers won't miss the Epix content. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos says, "While many of these movies are popular, they are also widely available on cable and other subscription platforms at the same time as they are on Netflix and subject to the same drawn out licensing periods."
The Internet

CenturyLink Takes $3B In Subsidies For Building Out Rural Broadband 199

New submitter club77er writes with a link to a DSL Reports article outlining some hefty subsidies (about $3 billion, all told) that CenturyLink has signed up to receive, in exchange for expanding its coverage to areas considered underserved: According to the CenturyLink announcement, the telco will take $500 million a year for six years from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s Connect America Fund (CAF). In exchange, it will expand broadband to approximately 1.2 million rural households and businesses in 33 states. While the FCC now defines broadband as 25 Mbps down, these subsidies require that the deployed services be able to provide speeds of at least 10 Mbps down.
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Suggestions For Taking a Business Out Into the Forest? 146

An anonymous reader writes: I'm a huge fan of primitive survival reality TV. I am also self-employed in web troubleshooting and hosting services. I have to be available 24/7, but a lot of my work is just being online for a few minutes at a time. I often think about taking my business 'outdoors', camping, 3-7 days or so at a time — but staying online. Has anyone had experience with this? How did you do it, in terms of internet connectivity and portable power? Satellite internet or long distance Wi-Fi antennaes and a very tall pole? I've looked at some portable power stations with solar attachments, but the idea of hand-cranking to recharge if it's overcast isn't fun, after all, the point is to relax. But I'm willing to manually recharge if it's realistic (would prefer pedaling though!) I happen to have a Toughbook CF-52 (I just thought it was cool) but I may need to replace that with a more eco-friendly laptop as well. Thanks!
Censorship

Germany Wants Facebook To Obey Its Rules About Holocaust Denial 725

Bruce66423 writes: In a classic example of the conflict of cultures bought about by the internet, Germany is trying to get Facebook to obey its rules about banning holocaust denial posts. From the linked Jerusalem Post article: [Justice Minister Heiko] Maas, who has accused Facebook of doing too little to thwart racist and hate posts on its social media platform, said that Germany has zero tolerance for such expression and expects the US-based company to be more vigilant. "One thing is clear: if Facebook wants to do business in Germany, then it must abide by German laws," Maas told Reuters. "It doesn't matter that we, because of historical reasons, have a stricter interpretation of freedom of speech than the United States does." "Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred are crimes in Germany and it doesn't matter if they're posted on Facebook or uttered out in the public on the market square," he added. ... "There's no scope for misplaced tolerance towards internet users who spread racist propaganda. That's especially the case in light of our German history."
Businesses

Kenya's iHub Creates Accelerator Program For Tech-Hardware Entrepreneurs 16

An anonymous reader writes: The iHub in Nairobi has long been at the epicentre of tech developments in Africa, and has been lauded by both Barack Obama and Satya Nadella in recent weeks. It currently has about 3000 software devs registered as members, but since last year has been building a makerspace for hardware entrepreneurs, too. Gearbox, as its called, it's just launched its first incubation program with the backing of Village Capital, offering $100,000 in investment opportunities for 12 entrepreneurs through a three month program. According to the organisers, it's the first of its kind on the continent. (It's certainly not the first hackerspace in Africa, though -- even in 2012, there were quite a few.)
Math

Ten Dropbox Engineers Build BSD-licensed, Lossless 'Pied Piper' Compression Algorithm 172

An anonymous reader writes: In Dropbox's "Hack Week" this year, a team of ten engineers built the fantasy Pied Piper algorithm from HBO's Silicon Valley, achieving 13% lossless compression on Mobile-recorded H.264 videos and 22% on arbitrary JPEG files. Their algorithm can return the compressed files to their bit-exact values. According to FastCompany, "Its ability to compress file sizes could actually have tangible, real-world benefits for Dropbox, whose core business is storing files in the cloud."The code is available on GitHub under a BSD license for people interested in advancing the compression or archiving their movie files.