Books

Amazon Brings Its Physical Bookstore To New York (usatoday.com) 34

Amazon's first New York City bookstore, Amazon Books, will open to the general public on Thursday morning, marking Amazon's highest-profile move into bricks-and-mortar retail to date. Even as the book shop is a physical bookstore, some "Amazon" elements can be felt. From a report: While some may be excited that this is an "Amazon Store," similar to Apple and Microsoft's respective flagship stores located just blocks away, Amazon says its goal for the new store is the same as it was when the online retail giant first started two decades ago: To sell books. "We have this 20 years of information about books and ratings, and we have millions and millions of customers who are passionate," said Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books. "It really is a different way to surface great books." The 4,000 square-foot-store features roughly 3,000 books, all with their covers facing out in order to better to "communicate their own essence," Cast says. The company's recommendation system makes a physical appearance in the bookstore through an "if you like this" section, which combines the data Amazon gathers on the books listed with human curators to recommend new books. To someone who walks in to browse, it feels like a high-tech Barnes and Noble.
Android

Amazon Refreshes Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 Tablets (betanews.com) 28

BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: Amazon's tablets have needed a refresh for a while now, and today it happened. The company announced two newly updated models -- the Fire 7 ($49) and the Fire HD 8 ($79). They both feature Alexa support, of course, and are designed for a quality experience with all types of media, such as movies, music, and books. The 7-inch has a 1024 x 600 resolution, while the 8-inch variant has 1280 x 800. Best of all, they are extremely affordable. At these insanely low prices, you might expect anemic performance, but both come with a respectable Quad-core 1.3 GHz processor. The Fire 7 has 1GB of RAM, while the HD 8 has 1.5GB. Regardless of which model you select, you will also get both front and rear cameras. The low cost might make you think they will be cheaply made, but Amazon claims they are more durable than Apple's newest iPad.
Data Storage

HPE Unveils The Machine, a Single-Memory Computer Capable of Addressing 160 Terabytes (venturebeat.com) 150

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced what it is calling a big breakthrough -- creating a prototype of a computer with a single bank of memory that can process enormous amounts of information. The computer, known as The Machine, is a custom-built device made for the era of big data. HPE said it has created the world's largest single-memory computer. The R&D program is the largest in the history of HPE, the former enterprise division of HP that split apart from the consumer-focused division. If the project works, it could be transformative for society. But it is no small effort, as it could require a whole new kind of software. The prototype unveiled today contains 160 terabytes (TB) of memory, capable of simultaneously working with the data held in every book in the Library of Congress five times over -- or approximately 160 million books. It has never been possible to hold and manipulate whole data sets of this size in a single-memory system, and this is just a glimpse of the immense potential of Memory-Driven Computing, HPE said. Based on the current prototype, HPE expects the architecture could easily scale to an exabyte-scale single-memory system and, beyond that, to a nearly limitless pool of memory -- 4,096 yottabytes. For context, that is 250,000 times the entire digital universe today.
Books

Today is 'Free Comic Book Day' (npr.org) 31

An anonymous reader writes: "Walk into a comic shop this Saturday, May 6, and you'll get some free comic books," reports NPR. "You can find your closest shop by typing your ZIP code into the Comics Shop Locator on the Free Comic Book Day page... While you're there, buy something... The comics shops still have to pay for the 'free' FCBD books they stock, and they're counting on the increased foot traffic to lift sales."

There's many familiar characters among the 50 free titles this year, according to Gizmodo. Marvel's free comics are a Guardians of the Galaxy tie-in by Brian Michael Bendis and a Secret Empire prequel, "which has seen Steve Rogers transform from a patriotic superhero to the fascist leader of an invasive Hydra force that has taken over the U.S." Meanwhile, D.C. Comics will re-release "the excellent second issue of the current Wonder Woman Rebirth series," and there's also comics based on Rick & Morty, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Android

User Expresses Privacy Concerns After Software Update Replaces Default Phone App (martinruenz.de) 95

An anonymous reader writes: Since I am not living in my home country, I frequently use two different SIM cards and prefer having a phone with dual-sim support. This limits your choice significantly when buying a new device and last time I bought one, I opted for the Wileyfox Swift. It was cheap, had most features I desired and shipped with CyanogenMod (Android) -- which, I thought, might indicate that Wileyfox delivers a slim, privacy-aware system. Yesterday, I was delighted to see that Wileyfox provides an update to a new version of Android (7.1.1) and I didn't hesitate long to install the upgrade. Concerns that the hardware might not hold-up to the new system showed to be unfounded and everything seemed to work just fine. But when I realised that the dialler now labelled itself as 'truecaller' -- something I had never heard of, shoot, I didn't even know the dialler is an app -- it gave rise to a bad suspicion: Is some of my phone's core functionality now provided by a 3rd-party app? Indeed. Does it respect my privacy? No. Can I uninstall it again? No. Was I ever asked to comply with their terms and conditions? Of course not. On top of this, Truecaller doesn't seem to have a clean background. Here's how an Indian daily (Truecaller seems to be popular in emerging regions) described the app: Truecaller is a popular app that shows you contact details of unknown numbers calling you. It crowdsources contact details from all its users' address books. So even if you've never used the service, your name and number could be on Truecaller's database, thanks to someone else who's saved your contact details and allowed the app to access them.
Books

Amazon Will Change Its Ebook Contracts With Publishers as EU Ends Antitrust Probe (theverge.com) 29

The EU has reached an agreement with Amazon following an antitrust investigation into the company's ebook business. From a report: In 2015, the European Commission began a probe into the licensing deals Amazon was making with publishers, suggesting that the US giant was forcing them into unfair contracts that stifled competition in Europe's 1 billion Euro ($1.09 billion) ebook market. In January, Amazon suggested a number of changes it would make to its contracts, and the EU now says it's happy to accept them, bringing a close to the investigation. The parts of the contract the EU objected to were a number of "most-favored-nation" clauses. These required any publishers doing a deal with Amazon to reveal the terms of the contracts they made with rival distributers. Amazon could then demand that it got the same deal (or better) on things like ebook prices, agency commissions, promotion campaigns, and release dates.
Australia

IT Contractors In Australia Are Not Being Paid Due To Dispute With Payroll Service (theregister.co.uk) 49

New submitter evolutionary writes: Plutus Payroll, an Australian payroll company, is refusing to pay contractors due to a dispute with companies using their services. Around 1,000 IT workers are unable to receive payment for services rendered. One may ask, "Where are the companies who actually hired the IT workers?" The Register reports: "This story starts with Australia's employment laws, which see lots of contractors officially employed by recruitment companies or payroll companies. The company at which the contractor works likes this arrangement as it means they don't have to put such people on their books. Recruitment companies and payroll companies charge for the service. Contractors generally like the convenience of having one employer even though they hop from gig to gig. The system requires fluid payments. Companies who hire contractors pay the recruiter, which either pays contractors direct or pays the payroll company contractors prefer. If the cash stops flowing, contractors get crunched. That's what's happened to around 1,000 contractors who elected to use Plutus as their paymasters: the company says it is in the midst of a completely unexplained 'dispute' that leaves it unable to pay contractors, or receive money from recruitment companies, but is still solvent. The Register has checked with the bank that Plutus clients say sends them their money -- the bank says it is aware of no dispute. One possible reason for the mess is that Plutus did not charge for its services. How it made money is therefore a mystery. Another scenario concerns the company's recent acquisition: perhaps its new owners are being denied access to some service Plutus could access as a standalone company. Plutus is saying nothing of substance about the situation. A spokesperson tells us the company deeply regrets the situation but won't divulge anything about the dispute and has offered no details about when contractors can expect resolution."
Stats

As Print Surges, Ebook Sales Plunge Nearly 20% (cnn.com) 206

An anonymous reader quotes CNN: Sales of consumer ebooks plunged 17% in the U.K. in 2016, according to the Publishers Association. Sales of physical books and journals went up by 7% over the same period, while children's books surged 16%. The same trend is on display in the U.S., where ebook sales declined 18.7% over the first nine months of 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers. Paperback sales were up 7.5% over the same period, and hardback sales increased 4.1%...

Sales of e-readers declined by more than 40% between 2011 and 2016, according to consumer research group Euromonitor International. "E-readers, which was once a promising category, saw its sales peak in 2011. Its success was short-lived, as it spiraled downwards within a year with the entry of tablets," Euromonitor said in a research note.

The article includes an even more interesting statistic: that one-third of adults tried a "digital detox" in 2016, limiting their personal use of electronics. Are any Slashdot readers trying to limit their own screen time -- or reading fewer ebooks?
Books

Ask Slashdot: What Are Your Favorite Books On Entrepreneurship? 87

An anonymous reader writes: There are excellent well-known books like Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, but I find some of the lesser-known books about tech entrepreneurship very interesting, like A Triumph of Genius about Edwin Land of Polaroid or Riding the Runaway Horse about An Wang of Wang Laboratories. Also, there's Fast Forward by Lardner about VHS/Betamax. What books regarding entrepreneurship would Slashdotters recommend?
EU

EU Lawmakers Include Spotify and iTunes In Geoblocking Ban (reuters.com) 74

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: European Union lawmakers voted on Tuesday to ban online retailers from treating consumers differently depending on where they live and expanded their proposed law to include music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple's iTunes. Ending so-called geoblocking is a priority for the European Commission as it tries to create a single market for digital services across the 28-nation bloc, but many industries argue that they tailor their prices to specific domestic markets. The proposal, which will apply to e-commerce websites such as Amazon, Zalando and eBay, as well as for services provided in a specific location like car rental, forbids online retailers from automatically re-routing customers to their domestic website without their consent. In a blow for the book publishing and music industries, European Parliament members voted to include copyright-protected content such as music, games, software and e-books in the law. That would mean music streaming services such as Spotify and iTunes would not be able to prevent, for example, a French customer buying a cheaper subscription in Croatia, if they have the required rights.
GNU is Not Unix

Richard Stallman Interviewed By Bryan Lunduke (youtube.com) 172

Many Slashdot readers know Bryan Lunduke as the creator of the humorous "Linux Sucks" presentations at the annual Southern California Linux Exposition. He's now also a member of the OpenSUSE project board and an all-around open source guy. (In September, he released every one of his books, videos and comics under a Creative Commons license, while his Patreon page offers a tip jar and premiums for monthly patrons). But now he's also got a new "daily computing/nerd show" on YouTube, and last week -- using nothing but free software -- he interviewed the 64-year-old founder of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman. "We talk about everything from the W3C's stance on DRM to opinions on the movie Galaxy Quest," Lunduke explains in the show's notes.

Click through to read some of the highlights.
Social Networks

Is Social Media Making Us Hate Each Other? (bostonglobe.com) 312

Nicholas Carr's book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize. Now an anonymous Slashdot reader reports on Carr's newest warning: It seems obvious: The more we learn about other people, the more we'll come to like them. The assumption underpins our deep-seated belief that communication networks, from the telephone system to Facebook, will help create social harmony. But what if the opposite is true? In a Boston Globe article, Nicholas Carr presents evidence showing that as we get more information about other people, we tend to like them less, not more. Through a phenomenon called "dissimilarity cascades," we place greater stress on personal and cultural differences than on similarities, and the bias strengthens as information accumulates. "Proximity makes differences stand out," he writes. The phenomenon intensifies online, where people are rewarded for sharing endless information about themselves. What the research indicates, warns Carr, is that the spread of social media is more likely to create social strife than social harmony.
The article concludes by opposing the idea that "If we get the engineering right, our better angels will triumph. It's a pleasant thought, but it's a fantasy... Technology is an amplifier. It magnifies our best traits, and it magnifies our worst. What it doesn't do is make us better people. That's a job we can't offload on machines."
Books

Ask Slashdot: What Are Good Books On Inventing, Innovating and Doing R&D? 102

dryriver writes: I've signed up to a project that involves inventing new ways to do things and also performing the technology R&D required to make these new ways a reality. So, dear Slashdotters, are there any good books on inventing, innovating or doing R&D? Books that describe different ways to approach inventing/R&D? Books on managing a team effort to invent, innovate and research? Or even good books about the history of past inventions -- how they were created, why they were created, how and why they succeeded or failed in the real world? Thanks!
Oracle

Oracle Charged $293M In South Korean Back Taxes (thestack.com) 19

An anonymous reader quotes The Stack: Multinational tech giant Oracle has been charged $293 million USD for corporate tax evasion in South Korea. The $293 million charge is made up of back taxes, as well as a punitive charge from the government tax agency. The company was originally notified of the tax debt in January of last year, when the National Tax Service charged Oracle with evasion of corporate tax payments on 2 trillion won in earnings from 2008-2014.

Oracle was accused of funneling revenues to Ireland to avoid paying taxes in South Korea. In an audit of the company's books, the tax authority found that Oracle had channeled profits generated in South Korea to an Irish subsidiary; however, it was found that those funds ultimately profited the company's headquarters in the United States. Because of this, the NTS determined that Oracle should have paid taxes on profits generated in South Korea to the South Korean government.

Programming

'Pragmatic Programmer' Author Andy Hunt Loves Arduino, Hates JavaScript (bestprogrammingbooks.com) 185

Andy Hunt is one of the 17 software developers who wrote the Agile Manifesto, and he co-authored The Pragmatic Programmer. Now Slashdot reader cerberusss writes: In an interview with Best Programming Books, Andy Hunt mentions he "hates languages that introduce accidental complexity, such as JavaScript -- what a nightmare of pitfalls for newbies and even seasoned developers... My go-to languages are still Ruby for most things, or straight C for systems programming, Pi or Arduino projects." Furthermore, he mentions that "I tend to do more experimenting and engineering than pure code writing, so there's occasionally some soldering involved ;). Code is just one tool of many."
Andy writes that he also likes Elixir, talks about Agile, reveals how he survived his most challenging project, and says the biggest advancement in programming has been the open source movement. ("Imagine trying to study chemistry, but the first half of the elements were patent-protected by a major pharma company and you couldn't use them...") And he also answered an interesting follow-up question on Twitter: "Do you feel validated in an age of Node and GitHub? Some of your best chapters (scripting and source control) are SOP now!"

Andy's reply? "We've made some great progress, for sure. But there's much to be done still. E.g., You can't ship process."

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