RenderSeven writes "In a press release issued today, baker Hostess Brands asked a bankruptcy court for permission to close all of its plants and sell off their assets, immediately laying off 18,500 workers. Citing high labor and rising health care costs, increasing competition and growing consumer awareness of healthy foods, Hostess says it can no longer operate without union concessions. A crippling strike has already shut down operations at all facilities, and while the Teamsters Union has ratified a new contract to keep Hostess in business, the Bakers Union has refused saying they would rather see the company closed than accept pension cuts. The Teamsters union is urging the bakers union to hold a secret ballot on whether to continue striking; citing its financial experts who had access to the company's books, the Teamsters say that Hostess' warning of liquidation is 'not an empty threat or a negotiating tactic' but a certain outcome if workers keep striking. If your late-night programming is fueled by Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Zingers, better stock up now." [Editor's note: A whole bunch of users submitted this news. I worry about our readership's cholesterol levels.]
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DeptofDepartments writes "With Kindles and ebooks on everyone's lips (sc. hands) nowadays, this might come as a surprise to some, but besides being a techie, I have also amassed quite a collection of actual books (mostly hardcover and first editions) in my personal library. I have always been reluctant to lend them out and the collection has grown so large now that it has become difficult to keep track of all of them. This is why I am looking for a modern solution to implement some professional-yet-still-home-sized library management. Ideally, this should include some cool features like RFID tags or NFC for keeping track of the books, finding and checking them out quickly, if I decide to lend one." For more on what DeptofDepartments is looking for, read on below.
c0lo writes "Engineers from Google's Books team have released the design plans for a comparatively reasonably priced (about $1500) book scanner on Google Code. Built using a scanner, a vacuum cleaner and various other components, the Linear Book Scanner was developed by engineers during the '20 percent time' that Google allocates for personal projects. The license is highly permissive, thus it's possible the design and building costs can be improved. Any takers?" Adds reader leighklotz: "The Google Tech Talk Video starts with Jeff Breidenbach of the Google Books team, and moves on to Dany Qumsiyeh showing how simple his design is to build. Could it be that the Google Books team has had enough of destroying the library in order to save it? Or maybe the just want to up-stage the Internet Archive's Scanning Robot. Disclaimer: I worked with Jeff when we were at Xerox (where he did this awesome hack), but this is more awesome because it saves books."
An anonymous reader writes with this bit of trademark absurdity from geek.com: "Ravensburger is a German gaming company that specializes in jigsaw puzzles, but has also expanded into other areas such as children's books and games. The company owns the trademark to a board game called 'Memory' and has demanded Apple stop offering apps that have the word 'memory' in their title or as a keyword associated with an app. It may seem ludicrous such a common word can be trademarked, but apparently this is a valid claim as Apple is now serving notices to app developers. The choice an infringing app developer has is to either rename their app or remove it from the App Store."
benrothke writes "Advanced persistent threat (APT) is one of the most common information security terms used today and it is an undeniably real and dangerous menace. Wikipedia notes that APT's usually refer to a group, such as a foreign government, with both the capability and the intent to persistently and effectively target a specific entity. The term is commonly used to refer to cyber threats, in particular that of Internet-enabled espionage using a variety of intelligence gathering techniques to access sensitive information, but applies equally to other threats such as that of traditional espionage or attack. Every organization of size and scope is a target, and many of the world's largest firms and governments have been victims. In Reverse Deception: Organized Cyber Threat Counter-Exploitation, Dr. Max Kilger and his co-authors provide an effective counterintelligence approach in which to deal with APT. The good news is that the authors provide an effective framework. The bad news is that creating an effective defense is not an easy undertaking." Keep reading below for the rest of Ben's review.
MassDosage writes "In a remarkable show of good timing Presentation Patterns turned up on my desk for review within days of me having been asked to give a presentation at a large tech conference. So I decided to read the book as I worked on my presentation and apply any lessons learned as I worked my way through it. The word "patterns" in the book's title will be known to most software developers as a reference to the seminal 'Gang of four' software design patterns book which codified common solutions to software problems. The concept of patterns originated in building architecture with the idea being that by categorizing and naming solutions to problems, a common vocabulary could be built up that allowed practitioners in a certain field to communicate more effectively. This was hugely successful and has spawned the idea of looking for patterns in many other areas which is where this book comes in." Read on for the rest of Mass Dosage's review.
jfruh writes "Among the winners of last night's election: marijuana users. Voters in both Washington and Colorado approved referenda that legalized marijuana for recreational use, though the drug remains illegal under federal law. There's been a long-standing debate among programmers as to whether recreational drugs, including pot and hallucinagens like LSD, can actually help programmers code. Don't forget, there was a substantial overlap between the wave of computer professionals who came of age in the '60s and that era's counterculture." (There's even a good book on that topic.)
CowboyRobot writes "A pair of reports by Juniper and Bit9 confirm the suspicion that many apps are spying on users. '26 percent of Android apps in Google Play can access personal data, such as contacts and email, and 42 percent, GPS location data... 31 percent of the apps access phone calls or phone numbers, and 9 percent employ permissions that could cost the user money, such as incurring premium SMS text message charges... nearly 7 percent of free apps can access address books, 2.6 percent, can send text messages without the user knowing, 6.4 percent can make calls, and 5.5 percent have access to the device's camera.' The main issue seems to be with poor development practices. Only in a minority of cases is there malicious intent. The Juniper report and the Bit9 report are both available online."
Hugh Pickens writes "iTunes has been criticized in the past for being slow and growing increasingly unwieldy as more and more media types have been added to what used to be simply a music player. Apple announced iTunes 11, the latest version of the program, at its iPhone 5 event in September and said the update would be released by the end of October, but Apple's deadline for the upgrade has slipped. 'The new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right,' Apple told technology site AllThingsD. 'We look forward to releasing this new version of iTunes with its dramatically simpler and cleaner interface and seamless integration with iCloud before the end of November.' The update is said to be the most significant upgrade to iTunes in the 11-year life of the program, which has grown from a simple music player to the most powerful retailer in the music business — and a force in the movie, television and e-books businesses — and, on Apple's PCs, the portal to its app store."
Presto Vivace writes "Murdoch's Pirates is a business book that reads like a thriller. The chapter excerpted in the Sydney Morning Herald explains how Operation Duck, an effort to discover the identify Canadian pay TV pirates, went horribly wrong. 'By October 25 Oliver had been in Toronto four days and had programmed a swag of pirate cards, using a program he had ripped off another pirate hack. And he had been paid a lot of money. That evening, he met with two piracy dealers in a car and programmed a few cards for them with his portable programmer box, to demonstrate that it worked. The following night Oliver received a call from a friend in London, a partner in his old piracy ring, who was sleeping with a woman who worked for Federal Express. 'He told me, these guys [from the previous night] sent a parcel to Larry Rissler,' Oliver recalls. Rissler was a former FBI agent who headed the Office of Signal Integrity—the operational security division—of DirecTV, and he had been hunting Oliver for some time. One of the dealers Oliver had met was a Rissler informant and he had despatched a re-programmed smartcard by FedEx to his boss. The parcel would be with Rissler early the next morning—if it wasn't already there.' The story reads like some perverse blend of James Bond and the Pink Panther. It is just amazing."
danspalding writes "I'm an adult education teacher in SF who wrote an e-book about how to teach adults. It will be available to download for free in January 2013. I Kickstarted enough money for editing, design and publicity, but not enough to pay me anything up front. I'm considering making a $1, $10 and $25 version available from Amazon as a way for folks to donate money to me, as well as a straight up PayPal link on my site. Is it possible to produce quality material for teachers to download for free in a way that's economically sustainable? Might readers accidentally pay for a copy without realizing there's a free download and get angry? And where should I host the free-to-download version?"
bshell writes "Canada's CRTC (like the FCC) has finally asked telecoms to provide information about how much their services actually cost. Quoting a Montreal Gazette story: 'In a report I wrote last year, I estimated the markup for Internet services was 6,452 per cent for Bell's Essential Plus plan, which provides a two-megabits-per-second speed for $28.95 (prices may have changed since last year).' The markup is likely similar in the U.S. It's about time that we consumers found out what it really costs to provide Internet service, and for that matter telephone and wireless services, so we can get a fair shake."
As tablets and computer-phones flood the market, the headlines read: "The Personal Computer is Dying." But they are only half true: an artifact of the PC is dying, but the essence of the PC revolution is closer to realization than ever before, while also being closer to loss than ever before.
menno_h writes "In January 1665, Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary that he stayed up till two in the morning reading a best-selling page-turner, a work that he called 'the most ingenious book I read in my life.' It was not a rousing history of English battles or a proto-bodice ripper. It was filled with images: of fleas, of bark, of the edges of razors. The book was called Micrographia. It provided the reading public with its first look at the world beyond the naked eye. Its author, Robert Hooke, belonged to a brilliant circle of natural philosophers who — among many other things — were the first in England to make serious use of microscopes as scientific instruments. They were great believers in looking at the natural world for themselves rather than relying on what ancient Greek scholars had claimed. Looking under a microscope at the thousands of facets on an insect's compound eye, they saw things at the nanoscale that Aristotle could not have dreamed of. A razor's edge became a mountain range. In the chambers of a piece of bark, Hooke saw the first evidence of cells. Micrographia is is available on Google Books now."
00_NOP writes "Amazon is taking fire in the UK for insisting that publishers pay them for 20% VAT (sales tax) when in fact the online retailer is only paying 3% VAT. 'The firm is able to wield such power over publishers because it has a near monopoly of the UK digital book publishing market. According to reliable estimates, it sells nine out of 10 ebooks in the UK, while using its Luxembourg tax status to wring more profitable terms from publishers. ... In private, British authors and publishers express fears that Amazon's dominance will send the industry into further decline.' Given that the Kindle is rubbish at displaying maths and science and that Amazon is as dangerous a monopoly as Microsoft ever was, is it not time that regulators and consumers stood up to them?" Amazon is also facing criticism right now for allegedly shutting down a woman's account and remotely wiping her Kindle, then refusing to provide information about why it did so.