Chrome AdBlock Joining Acceptable Ads Program (And Sold To Anonymous Company) 108

basscomm writes: Hot on the heels of the formation of the independent board to oversee "acceptable ads", users of the popular Chrome ad blocking extension, AdBlock, got notice that AdBlock is participating in the program, and that acceptable ads are being turned on by default. At the bottom of the announcement, buried in the fine print is word that AdBlock has been sold, but nobody will say to whom.
The Almighty Buck

When Fraud Detection Shuts Down Credit Cards Inappropriately 167

reifman writes: On Sunday, Capital One declined a $280 travel reservation I charged at India-based and immediately shut off my card for all transactions until I contacted them by phone. It wasn't the first time that CapitalOne had shut off my card after a single suspect transaction. But, I'd actually purchased from using my CapitalOne card on two prior occasions. It was an example of very poor fraud detection and led me on a tour of their pathetic customer service. The banks want to cut their losses regardless of how it impacts their customers. Having had my own credit card suspended out of an abundance of caution on a different credit card issuer's part (for legitimate charges), but having recently had some widely known scam charges get accepted, the fraud protection algorithms that the credit companies use certainly seem inscrutable sometimes, and so do the surrounding practices about communicating with customers. How would you like it to work instead?

Vostochny Launch Building Built To the Wrong Size 65

schwit1 writes: The Russians have just discovered that their Soyuz 2 rocket does not fit in the building just finished at their new spaceport at Vostochny: "The cutting-edge facility was meant be ready for launches of Soyuz-2 rockets in December, but an unidentified space agency told the TASS news agency late Thursday that the rocket would not fit inside the assembly building where its parts are stacked and tested before launch. The building 'has been designed for a different modification of the Soyuz rocket,' the source said, according to news website Medusa, which picked up the story from TASS." The rocket had just been delivered to Vostochny for assembly, so this report, though unconfirmed at this time, fits well with current events.

The Decline of 'Big Soda': Is Drinking Soda the New Smoking? 472 writes: Margot Sanger-Katz reports in the NYT that soda consumption is experiencing a serious and sustained decline as sales of full-calorie soda in the United States have plummeted by more than 25 percent over the past twenty years. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they are actively trying to avoid the drinks that have been a mainstay of American culture but bottled water is now on track to overtake soda as the largest beverage category in two years. The changing patterns of soda drinking appear to come thanks, in part, to a loud campaign to eradicate sodas. School cafeterias and vending machines no longer contain regular sodas. Many workplaces and government offices have similarly prohibited their sale.

For many public health advocates, soda has become the new tobacco — a toxic product to be banned, taxed and stigmatized. "There will always be soda, but I think the era of it being acceptable for kids to drink soda all day long is passing, slowly," says Marion Nestle. "In some socioeconomic groups, it's over." Soda represents nearly 25% of the U.S. beverage market and its massive scale have guaranteed profit margins for decades. Historically, beverage preferences are set in adolescence, the first time that most people begin choosing and buying a favorite brand. But the declines in soda drinking appear to be sharpest among young Americans. "Kids these days are growing up with all of these other options, and there are some parents who say, 'I really want my kids to drink juice or a bottled water,' " says Gary A. Hemphill. "If kids grow up without carbonated soft drinks, the likelihood that they are going to grow up and, when they are 35, start drinking is very low."

Google As Alphabet Subsidiary Drops "Don't Be Evil" 227

CNet, The Verge, and many other outlets are reporting that with the official transition of Google (as overarching company) to Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google's made another change that's caught a lot of people's attention: the company has swapped out their famous motto "Don't be evil" for one with a slightly different ring: "Do the right thing." Doing the right thing sounds like a nice thing to aspire to, but doesn't seem quite as exciting.

Volkswagen Diesel Scandal Logistics Imply Sizable Conspiracy 143

Guinnessy writes with an interesting analysis of the Volkswagen software cheating scandal: Physics Today's Charles Day takes a look at how diesel engines work, and why it's clear it's not just a lone software engineer who came up with the cheat. "...[S]oftware is impotent without hardware. To recognize when a car was being tested and not driven, the defeat device required data from a range of sensors -- sensors that a noncheating car might not need.... Whereas it's conceivable that a single software engineer, directed by a single manager, could have secretly written and uploaded the code that ran the defeat device, installing its associated hardware would require a larger and more diverse team of conspirators," he says.

How Steve Jobs Outsmarted Carly Fiorina 299 writes: Carly Fiorina likes to boast about her friendship with Apple founder Steve Jobs but Fortune Magazine reports that it turns out Carly may have outfoxed of by Apple's late leader. In January 2004, Steve Jobs and Carly Fiorina cut a deal where HP could slap its name on Apple's wildly successful iPod and sell it through HP retail channels but HP still managed to botch things up. The MP3 player worked just like a regular iPod, but it had HP's logo on the back and in return HP agreed to continue pre-loading iTunes onto its PCs. According to Steven Levy soon after the deal with HP was inked, Apple upgraded the iPod, making HP's version outdated and because of Fiorina's deal HP was banned from selling its own music player until August 2006. "This was a highly strategic move to block HP/Compaq from installing Windows Media Store on their PCs," says one Apple source. "We wanted iTunes Music store to be a definitive winner. Steve only did this deal because of that."

In short, Fiorina's "good friend" Steve Jobs blithely mugged her and HP's shareholders. By getting Fiorina to adopt the iPod as HP's music player, Jobs had effectively gotten his software installed on millions of computers for free, stifled his main competitor, and gotten a company that prided itself on invention to declare that Apple was a superior inventor.

Sprint To Begin Layoffs, Cut $2.5 Billion In Expenses 55

An anonymous reader writes: Sprint's struggles to remain a major carrier continue. Just a few days after announcing that it is dropping out of a major low-band spectrum auction, the company now says it must cut between $2 billion and $2.5 billion in costs over the next six months. The cuts will need to be aggressive — according to the Wall Street Journal (paywalled), Sprint "had $7.5 billion in operating expenses during the three months ended June 30," even as it cut $1.5 billion over the past year. The only good news for Sprint is that its subscriber base is still slowly growing, though not quickly enough to keep pace with T-Mobile, let alone Verizon or AT&T.

EPA Gave Volkswagen a Free Pass On Emissions Ten Years Ago Due To Lack of Budget 203

An anonymous reader writes: A new report suggests that continuing cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency's budget contributed to Volkswagen being able to cheat on its emissions tests. When the test scripts were developed the department — which can still only conduct 'spot tests' on 20% of all qualifying vehicles — was forced to concentrate on heavy machinery and truck manufacturers, which at the time had a far higher incidence of attempting to cheat on vehicle standards tests. Discounting inflation the EPA's 2015 budget is on a par with its 2002 budget (PDF), and has been cut by 21% since 2010.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 Is Shipping 90

jones_supa writes: Microsoft's mail and calendar server package Exchange Server 2016 is being refreshed and is now out of preview, along with the 2016 revamp for other Office products. The new Exchange tries to simplify the software's architecture while still adding new features and working better with other Office products. You can now use links from Sharepoint 2016 and OneDrive for Business as email attachments, instead of having to upload the actual file, leading to more robust file sharing and editing. Add-ins have been introduced, which allows extensibility similar to extensions on a web browser. Microsoft is providing a 180-day trial for free.

How Someone Acquired the Domain Name For a Single Minute 70

An anonymous reader writes with the story of how Sanmay Ved bought "" even though it only lasted a minute. BGR reports:We've all been there: It's nearly 2 in the morning and you're cruising around the Internet looking for new domain names to purchase. I mean, talk about a cliched night, right? Now imagine that during the course of your domain browsing, you unexpectedly discover that the holy grail of domain names — — is available for purchase for the low, low price of just $12. Testing fate, you attempt to initiate a transaction. Dare I say, you're feeling a little bit lucky. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, the transaction goes through and the vaunted and the highly valuable Google domain is in your possession. While this might read like a ridiculous plot summary from some horrible piece of nerd fiction, this series of events above, believe it or not, actually happened to former Googler Sanmay Ved earlier this week.

IBM Scientists Find New Way To Shrink Transistors 98

MarcAuslander writes that IBM scientists have discovered a way to replace silicon semiconductors with carbon nanotube transistors, an innovation the company hopes will dramatically improve chip performance and get the industry past the limits of Moore's law. According to the Times: In the semiconductor business, it is called the 'red brick wall' — the limit of the industry's ability to shrink transistors beyond a certain size. On Thursday, however, IBM scientists reported that they now believe they see a path around the wall. Writing in the journal Science, a team at the company's Thomas J. Watson Research Center said it has found a new way to make transistors from parallel rows of carbon nanotubes.
The Courts

East Texas Judge Throws Out 168 Patent Cases 150

Earthquake Retrofit writes: Ars Technica is reporting that an East Texas judge has thrown out 168 patent cases in one fell swoop. The judge's order puts the most litigious patent troll of 2014, eDekka LLC, out of business. The ruling comes from a surprising source: U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, the East Texas judge who has been criticized for making life extra-difficult for patent defendants. Gilstrap, who hears more patent cases than any other U.S. judge, will eliminate about 10 percent of his entire patent docket by wiping out the eDekka cases.

Xiaomi Investigated For Using Superlatives In Advertising, Now Illegal In China 108

An anonymous reader writes: Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is under investigation for using superlative messaging on its website, according to a leaked document from the Beijing Ministry of Industry and Commerce. A new Chinese law states that adjectives used to promote products must not mislead consumers. The Xiaomi investigation [Chinese] follows claims made by rival Cong that the company used phrases such as 'the best' and 'the most advanced', in its online campaigns and therefore violated the country's advertising law. (The law against suprelatives doesn't seem to apply to communications by the government, about the government.)

The Real Cost of Mobile Ads 117

New submitter cvdwl writes: A New York Times (mildly paywalled) article and associated analysis discuss the consumer cost of mobile ads, assuming a US$0.01/MB data plan. The article provides one of the only estimates I've seen of the the real cost in time and money (and time is money) of mobile advertising. Ethics of ad-blockers aside, this highlights the hidden costs of data-heavy (often lazy and poorly developed) web-design. In a nutshell, the worst sites took 10-30s load 10-20MB, costing $0.15-0.40, over 4G due to a blizzard of video, heavy images, and occasionally just massive scripts. The best sites had high content to ad ratios, typically loading 1-3MB of content and >500kB of advertising.

Former Cisco CEO: China, India, UK Will Lead US In Tech Race Without Action 109

Mickeycaskill writes: Former Cisco CEO John Chambers says the US is the only major country without a proper digital agenda and laments the fact none of the prospective candidates for the US Presidential Election have made it an issue. Chambers said China, India, the UK and France were among those to recognize the benefits of the trend but the US had been slow — risking any economic gains and support for startups. "This is the first time that our government has not led a technology transition," he said. "Our government has been remarkably slow. We are the last major developed country in the world without a digital agenda. I think every major country has this as one of their top two priorities and we don't. We won't get GDP increase and we won't be as competitive with our startups. The real surprise to me was how governments around the world, except ours, moved."
The Internet

NVIDIA Launches GeForce NOW Game Streaming Service 52

MojoKid writes: NVIDIA has championed game streaming for a number of years now, whether it's from a GeForce GTX-equipped PC to one of its SHIELD devices or from its cloud-based GRID gaming beta service to a SHIELD. Today though, NVIDIA is kicking its game streaming business up a notch by launching a new service dubbed GeForce NOW. The service streams PC games from the cloud to SHIELD devices at up to full HD 1080p resolutions at 60 fps. It may be tempting to call GeForce NOW an official re-branding of its GRID game streaming beta but that is reportedly not the case. The GRID beta is going away with the launch of GeForce NOW (an update will replace the GRID app with GeForce NOW), but according to NVIDIA, GeForce NOW was re-architected from the ground up to provide a better overall experience. NVIDIA sees GeForce NOW as sort of a "Netflix for games." There is a monthly fee of $7.99 for a subscription, which gives customers access to a slew of games. There are too many to list but top notch titles like Batman: Arkham City, Ultra Street Fighter IV, GRID 2 and many others are included. In addition to the games included in the subscriptions price, NVIDIA will also be offering GeForce NOW users access to AAA-titles on the day of release, for a fee. The games will typically be sold at a regular retail prices but not only will users get to play those games via the GeForce NOW streaming service on SHIELD devices, they'll also receive a key for playing the game on a PC as well. To use GeForce NOW you'll need an NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV, SHIELD portable, or SHIELD tablet (with the latest software updates installed) and a SHIELD-approved 5GHz router. Your broadband connection must also offer download speeds of at least 12Mb/s. 20Mb/s is recommended for 720p / 60 FPS quality, and 50Mb/s is recommended for 1080p / 60 FPS.

Video Will 'Chip and Pin' Credit Card Technology Really Increase Security? (Video) 315

The answer seems to be: sort of, a little, but not a whole lot, according to Jerry Irvine, who is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Cybersecurity Leadership Council and CIO of Chicago-based Prescient Solutions. More security theater? It sounds that way when Jerry starts reeling off the kinds of attacks the new cards will do nothing to prevent. Even so, October 1 is the date after which merchants are supposed to be liable for fraudulent purchases made with old-style cards, and are supposed to have point of sale terminals that accept "chip and PIN" cards.

AdBlock Plus To Introduce Independent Board To Oversee Acceptable Ads Program 254

Mark Wilson writes: Ad blocking has been in the news quite a lot recently, not least because of iOS 9's new support for advertising avoidance. Perhaps the most famous tool in the arena is Adblock Plus. It's something that many people have become reliant on for cleaning up their online experience but Eyeo — the company behind AdBlock Plus — has been keen to encourage people to permit the display of some advertising through its Acceptable Ads program. That companies can pay to bypass Adblock Plus is nothing new, although Adblock Plus insists that most ads that are deemed 'acceptable' are added for free. Today Eyeo announces that it is going to hand over control of the Acceptable Ads program to a completely independent board.
Open Source

Linux Foundation Puts the Cost of Replacing Its Open Source Projects At $5 Billion 146

chicksdaddy writes: Everybody recognizes that open source software incredibly valuable, by providing a way to streamline the creation of new applications and services. But how valuable, exactly? The Linux Foundation has released a new research paper that tries to put a price tag on the value of the open source projects it comprises, and the price they've come up with is eye-popping: $5 billion. That's how much the Foundation believes it would cost for companies to have to rebuild or develop from scratch the software residing in its collaborative projects.

To arrive at that figure, the Foundation analyzed the code repositories of each one of its projects using the Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO) to estimate the total effort required to create these projects. With 115,013,302 total lines of source code, LF estimated the total amount of effort required to retrace the steps of collaborative development to be 41,192.25 person-years — or 1,356 developers 30 years to recreate the code base present in The Linux Foundation's current collaborative projects listed above.