Yahoo!

Yahoo To Fire Another 15% As Mayer Attempts To Hang On (theguardian.com) 217

New submitter xxxJonBoyxxx writes: Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer has announced plans to cut the company's workforce by 15% and close five foreign offices by the end of 2016 after announcing a $4.4bn loss. Yahoo shares have fallen 33% over the past year, including a 17% drop in the last three months. Its shares fell again in after-hours trading after Mayer announced her plan. Yahoo expects its workforce to be down to 9,000 and have fewer than 1,000 contractors by end of 2016. About a third of Yahoo's workforce has left either voluntarily or involuntarily over the last year. And the cuts may just be starting: one activist investor (SpringOwl) says the total number of employees should be closer to 3,000 for a company with its revenue.
Businesses

Magic Leap Raises $794 Million To Accelerate Adoption of Secretive AR Tech (roadtovr.com) 51

An anonymous reader writes: A massive new $794 million Series C investment in secretive AR startup Magic Leap puts the company among the world's most valuable startups, now reportedly valued at $4.5 billion. The company has aggressively teased what they believe to be revolutionary augmented reality display technology, allowing a mixture of the real and virtual dimensions in a way previously not achieved. Although they've played coy to the public, offering little more than bold claims, investors like Alibaba, Google Ventures, and Qualcomm Ventures have bought into the company's vision to the tune of $1.39 billion in total raised by Magic Leap thus far. Also at Network World, which notes that their demo must be amazing.
Windows

Windows 10 Passes Windows XP In Market Share 315

An anonymous reader writes: Six months after its release, Windows 10 has finally passed 10 percent market share. Not only that, but the latest and greatest version from Microsoft has also overtaken Windows 8.1 and Windows XP, according to the latest figures from Net Applications. Windows 10 had 9.96 percent market share in December, and gained 1.89 percentage points to hit 11.85 percent in January. Maybe it will jump even faster soon, but not necessarily for the best of reasons.
Crime

San Francisco Bay Area In Superbowl Surveillance Mode (wired.com) 95

An anonymous reader links to Wired's description of a surveillance society in miniature assembling right now in San Francisco: Super Bowl 50 will be big in every way. A hundred million people will watch the game on TV. Over the next ten days, 1 million people are expected to descend on the San Francisco Bay Area for the festivities. And, according to the FBI, 60 federal, state, and local agencies are working together to coordinate surveillance and security at what is the biggest national security event of the year.
Previous year's Superbowl security measures have included WMD sensors, database-backed facial recognition, and gamma-ray vehicle scanners. Given the fears and cautions in the air about this year's contest, it's easy to guess that the scanning and sensing will be even more prevalent this time.
Transportation

MIT Team Tops Hyperloop Design Competition (google.com) 144

The Dallas Morning News reports that a team from MIT has topped competitors from around 100 universities around the world at a competition held on the campus of Texas A&M by presenting a workable design vision for Elon Musk's dream of a hyperloop. The hyperloop concept, mentioned several times before on Slashdot, involves rapidly shuffling passenger pods through 12-foot-wide tubes evacuated of air, and would mean terrestrial transport at speeds topping those of commercial air travel. From the Morning News article: Delft University of Technology from The Netherlands finished second, the University of Wisconsin third, Virginia Tech fourth and the University of California, Irvine, fifth. The top teams will build their pods and test them at the world's first Hyperloop Test Track, being built adjacent to SpaceX's Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters.
Bug

FTDI Driver Breaks Hardware Again (eevblog.com) 268

janoc writes: It seems that the infamous FTDI driver that got famous by intentionally bricking counterfeit chips [NOTE: that driver was later removed] has got a new update that injects garbage data ('NON GENUINE DEVICE FOUND!') into the serial data. This was apparently going on for a while, but only now is the driver being pushed as an automatic update through Windows Update, thus many more people stand to be affected by this.

Let's hope that nobody dies in an industrial accident when a tech connects their cheap USB-to-serial cable to a piece of machinery and the controller misinterprets the garbage data.

Apple

Apple: Losing Out On Talent and In Need of a Killer New Device (theguardian.com) 428

mspohr writes with a link to an interesting (and rather dour) take at The Guardian on the state of Apple, which holds that: "Despite its huge value, Silicon Valley developers are turned off by [Apple's] 'secretive, controlling' culture and its engineering is no longer seen as cutting edge." From the article: "Tellingly, Apple is no longer seen as the best place for engineers to work, according to several Silicon Valley talent recruiters. It's a trend that has been happening slowly for years – and now, in this latest tech boom, has become more acute. ... Or as Elon Musk recently put the hiring situation a little more harshly: Apple is the "Tesla graveyard." "If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple," Musk recently told a German newspaper. The biggest issue for programmers seems to be a high-stress culture and cult of secrecy, which contrasts sharply with office trends toward gentler management and more playful workdays."

Newegg Sues Patent Troll After Troll Dropped Its Own Lawsuit (arstechnica.com) 174

WheezyJoe writes: Not satisfied that a patent troll dropped its lawsuit against them, Newegg has sued the troll. So-called "patent holding company" Minero Digital sought to exact royalty payments on a wide range of USB hubs, suing, among others, Newegg's subsidiary Rosewill. But the "non-practicing entity" dropped its East Texas lawsuit against Rosewill within days of getting a call from the Newegg's lawyer. However, Minero dismissed its Texas lawsuit "without prejudice", meaning it can refile the case at a time of its choosing. So, Newegg filed its own lawsuit against Minero in Los Angeles federal court, asking a judge to lay down a ruling that Minero's case against Rosewill is baseless. Says Newegg's Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng, "Minero's case does not have merit, and its patent is not only expired but would suck even if it wasn't expired. Now that they have started the litigation, it would be irresponsible for Newegg to not finish it."

EFF: License Plate Scanner Deal Turns Texas Cops Into Debt Collectors (eff.org) 442

An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation is sounding the alarm about a deal between Texas law enforcement agencies and Vigilant Solutions — a company that provides vehicle surveillance tech. The deal will give Texas police access to a bunch of automated license plate readers (ALPRs), and access to the company's data and analytic tools. For free. How is Vigilant making money? "The government agency in turn gives Vigilant access to information about all its outstanding court fees, which the company then turns into a hot list to feed into the free ALPR systems. As police cars patrol the city, they ping on license plates associated with the fees. The officer then pulls the driver over and offers them a devil's bargain: get arrested, or pay the original fine with an extra 25% processing fee tacked on, all of which goes to Vigilant. In other words, the driver is paying Vigilant to provide the local police with the technology used to identify and then detain the driver. If the ALPR pings on a parked car, the officer can get out and leave a note to visit Vigilant's payment website." Vigilant also gets to keep the data collected on citizens while the ALPRs are in use.
Stats

Tech Salaries Had Biggest Year-Over-Year Leap In 2015 (dice.com) 125

Nerval's Lobster writes: Average technology salaries in the U.S. saw the biggest year-over-year leap ever, up 7.7 percent to $96,370 annually, according to Dice's new survey data. Bonuses and contract rates also rose from 2014, and tech salaries in seven metro areas reached six-figures for the first time since the survey began more than a decade ago. Contract workers saw a rise (5%) in hourly compensation, with contractors earning $70.26 per hour. Other Websites have shown similarly high salaries for tech professionals; Glassdoor, for example, called data scientist the best job in America, with an average salary of $116,840 and bountiful job prospects. But while everything might seem great on a macro level, that doesn't mean tech workers don't face their share of stagnant salaries, brutal workplaces, and annoying managers.
Businesses

Uber's Short-lived Helicopter Service In Utah Grounded (ksl.com) 81

New submitter captaindomon writes: It may come as no surprise that the Uber helicopter flights which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival were apparently illegal and quickly grounded. "Thanks to the support and partnership we have with Sundance and Park City Municipal Corporation, we were able to come to an agreement," said Summit County spokeswoman Katie Mullaly. "We are glad to have this issue resolved, not only for the safety of all those involved, but also for the wildlife of the area, affected residents and environmental concerns."
Wikipedia

Wikipedia Editors Revolt, Vote "No Confidence" In Newest Board Member (arstechnica.com) 186

An anonymous reader writes with news about an editor revolt at Wikimedia to remove Arnnon Geshuri from the foundation's board. Ars reports: "Nearly 200 Wikipedia editors have taken the unprecedented step of calling for a member of the Wikimedia Foundation board of directors to be tossed out. The Wikimedia Foundation, which governs both the massive Wikipedia online encyclopedia and related projects, appointed Arnnon Geshuri to its board earlier this month. His appointment wasn't well received by the Wikipedia community of volunteer editors, however. And last week, an editor called for a 'vote of no confidence on Arnnon Geshuri.' The voting, which has no legally binding effect on the Wikimedia Foundation, is now underway. As of press time, 187 editors had voted in favor of this proposition: 'In the best interests of the Wikimedia Foundation, Arnnon Geshuri must be removed from his appointment as a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation Board.' Just 13 editors have voted against, including Wikimedia board member Guy Kawasaki.
Security

FortiGuard SSH Backdoor Found In More Fortinet Security Appliances (fortinet.com) 41

itwbennett writes: Earlier this month, an SSH backdoor was identified in Fortinet firewall appliances. Last week, the company said that the problem was not an intentional backdoor, but the result of a management feature which relied on an undocumented account with a hard-coded password. Now, it has found that the same issue also exists in some versions of FortiSwitch, FortiAnalyzer and FortiCache. They said, "In accordance with responsible disclosure, today we have issued a security advisory that provides a software update that eliminates this vulnerability in these products. This update also covers the legacy and end-of-life products listed above. We are actively working with customers and strongly recommend that all customers using [those] products update their systems with the highest priority."
Transportation

Insurance Companies Looking For Fallback Plans To Survive Driverless Cars (csmonitor.com) 293

An anonymous reader writes: Driverless cars could mean a huge downsizing of the auto insurance industry, as the frequency of accidents declines and liability shifts from the driver to the vehicle's software or automaker. This is compounded by the rise of ride-sharing services. Once summoning a vehicle to take you somewhere isn't limited by the number of people available to drive them (and are correspondingly cheaper), car ownership is likely to decline. Many major automakers and tech companies are throwing billions of research dollars into making this happen, and insurance companies are trying to figure out how to survive. For example, a recent patent application shows State Farm is betting on collecting massive amounts of data about you. While they'll no doubt use it to set your insurance rates, they also plan to "send you advice, alerts, coupons or discounts on insurance or other goods and services." Traveler's Insurance is thinking along somewhat similar lines. They want to create "a device that offers specific suggestions for managing errands and other travel. Customers would be able to see a map of 'risk zone' data for places they want to go, such as stores, restaurants and roads. They could then plan the day 'with an eye toward how risky such endeavors may be,' according to the patent application."
Bitcoin

Is Blockchain the Most Important IT Invention of Our Age? (theguardian.com) 190

mspohr writes: This article makes a fairly persuasive argument for the utility of the blockchain. It discusses a wide variety of companies and government exploring blockchain to maintain secure records which cannot be altered. One interesting application is to use blockchain to maintain property records in many countries where these records are often incomplete and are easily corrupted (intentionally or unintentionally). A linked article in The Economist expands the thought and discusses changes to the blockchain to improve performance, reduce overhead and accommodate different uses. (See also this related poll.)
Input Devices

France Says AZERTY Keyboards Fail French Typists (arstechnica.com) 315

Ars Technica reports that the AZERTY keyboard layout used in France has a problem: it's not very good for writing French words, many of which require accents that can be accessed only awkwardly. An excerpt from the Ars story: In a statement released this week, the ministry lamented the fact that French keyboards, which use the AZERTY layout rather than the QWERTY layout familiar to English speakers, make it unnecessarily difficult to type common symbols and letters. While the 26 letters of the alphabet as well as common accented letters like é, à, è, and ù are generally represented similarly on an AZERTY keyboard, the ministry said that the @ symbol and the € symbol are inconveniently or inconsistently placed, as are commands to capitalize symbols like "ç". The trouble of finding how to properly capitalize accented letters is a big issue in written French, especially for legal texts and government documents where every letter of the names of people and businesses are capitalized. Often, an accent is the only distinguishing factor between two similarly spelled words.
Privacy

DOJ and 4 States Want $24 Billion In Fines From Dish Network For Telemarketing (arstechnica.com) 117

walterbyrd writes: The DOJ as well as Ohio, Illinois, California, and North Carolina say that Dish disregarded federal laws on call etiquette. US lawyers are asking for $900 million in civil penalties, and the four states are asking for $23.5 billion in fines, according to the Denver Post. 'Laws against phoning people on do-not-call lists and using recorded messages allow penalties of up to $16,000 per violation,' the Post added.
Crime

Symantec Disavows Business Partner Caught Running a Tech Support Scam (malwarebytes.org) 85

An anonymous reader writes: Malwarebytes has caught one of Symantec's resellers running a tech support scam that was scaring users into thinking they were infected with malware and then graciously offering to sell Symantec's security software at inflated rates. Malwarebytes played along with their scam and found out the company behind it was Silurian Tech Support, located somewhere in North India. Symantec told El Reg that it terminated the reseller's contract and will work with law enforcement to defend its brand and intellectual property.
Open Source

Developers Frustrated with GitHub Prod For Changes In Bug Reports, Transparency 99

DeveloperTech reports that a group of GitHub developers have posted an open letter, with nearly 1300 signatures, expressing dissatisfaction with GitHub's processes and policies, and in particular the site's level of transparency. A slice of the letter: "Those of us who run some of the most popular projects on GitHub feel completely ignored by you. We’ve gone through the only support channel that you have given us either to receive an empty response or even no response at all," he wrote. "We have no visibility into what has happened with our requests, or whether GitHub is working on them. Since our own work is usually done in the open and everyone has input into the process, it seems strange for us to be in the dark about one of our most important project dependencies."

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