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Businesses

Amazon Puts New Limit On Customer Reviews: No More Than 5 a Week Except For Verified Purchases (geekwire.com) 95

Amazon says it will start capping the number of product reviews any customer can submit in a given week, limiting each person to five/week except for products that have been verified by the company as purchased by the reviewer. From a GeekWire report: Books, music and video are exempt from the limit, but the new cap applies to the rest of Amazon's vast online selection of products. It's the latest move by the e-commerce giant to police its online reviews, a critical resource used by many online shoppers to assess products before buying. The news comes during the peak holiday shopping season, the most important time of year for Amazon, as the company tries to get more people comfortable with doing more of their shopping online. An Amazon spokeswoman confirmed the changes in a message to GeekWire, and they're spelled out in Amazon's updated Community Guidelines.
Books

O'Reilly Discounts Every eBook By 50% (oreilly.com) 46

On Friday, O'Reilly Media announced "Our Cyber Monday sale starts now." An anonymous reader writes: They're offering a 50% discount on every ebook they publish -- over 14,000 titles from O'Reilly, No Starch Press, Pearson, A Book Apart, Make, Packt, and 25 other book publishers. (And they're offering a 60 percent discount on orders over $100.) Just use the code CYBER16 when checking out to claim the discount. The sale continues through Tuesday morning at 5 a.m. PST.

These are all DRM-free ebooks (in multiple formats), and there's even some "early release" editions -- advance copies distributed before their official publication. The discount also applies to new titles like "Head First Python" as well as old-school classics like "Learning Perl". Right now their best-sellers are "Wicked Cool Shell Scripts", "Modern Linux Administration", and "You Don't Know JS: Up and Going" -- but again, the discount applies to any ebook that they sell, and they also still have their selection of free programming texts.

Tim O'Reilly was one of the first people interviewed by Slashdot -- more than 17 years ago.
Books

For the First Time, Living Cells Have Formed Carbon-Silicon Bonds (sciencealert.com) 87

From a ScienceDaily alert: Scientists have managed to coax living cells into making carbon-silicon bonds, demonstrating for the first time that nature can incorporate silicon -- one of the most abundant elements on Earth -- into the building blocks of life. While chemists have achieved carbon-silicon bonds before -- they're found in everything from paints and semiconductors to computer and TV screens -- they've so far never been found in nature, and these new cells could help us understand more about the possibility of silicon-based life elsewhere in the Universe. After oxygen, silicon is the second most abundant element in Earth's crust, and yet it has nothing to do with biological life. Why silicon has never be incorporated into any kind of biochemistry on Earth has been a long-standing puzzle for scientists, because, in theory, it would have been just as easy for silicon-based lifeforms to have evolved on our planet as the carbon-based ones we know and love. Not only are carbon and silicon both extremely abundant in Earth's crust - they're also very similar in their chemical make-up.
Open Source

Tor-Enabled Smartphone Is Antidote To Google 'Hostility' Over Android, Says Developer (arstechnica.com) 39

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Tor Project recently announced the release of its prototype for a Tor-enabled smartphone -- an Android phone beefed up with privacy and security in mind, and intended as equal parts opsec kung fu and a gauntlet to Google. The new phone, designed by Tor developer Mike Perry, is based on Copperhead OS, the hardened Android distribution profiled first by Ars earlier this year. "The prototype is meant to show a possible direction for Tor on mobile," Perry wrote in a blog post. "We are trying to demonstrate that it is possible to build a phone that respects user choice and freedom, vastly reduces vulnerability surface, and sets a direction for the ecosystem with respect to how to meet the needs of high-security users." To protect user privacy, the prototype runs OrWall, the Android firewall that routes traffic over Tor, and blocks all other traffic. Users can punch a hole through the firewall for voice traffic, for instance, to enable Signal. The prototype only works on Google Nexus and Pixel hardware, as these are the only Android device lines, Perry wrote, that "support Verified Boot with user-controlled keys." While strong Linux geekcraft is required to install and maintain the prototype, Perry stressed that the phone is also aimed at provoking discussion about what he described as "Google's increasing hostility towards Android as a fully Open Source platform." Copperhead OS was the obvious choice for the prototype's base system, Perry told Ars. "Copperhead is also the only Android ROM that supports verified boot, which prevents exploits from modifying the boot, system, recovery, and vendor device partitions," said Perry in his blog post. "Copperhead has also extended this protection by preventing system applications from being overridden by Google Play Store apps, or from writing bytecode to writable partitions (where it could be modified and infected)." He added: "This makes Copperhead an excellent choice for our base system." The prototype, nicknamed "Mission Improbable," is now ready to download and install. Perry said he uses the prototype himself for his personal communications: "E-mail, Signal, XMPP+OTR, Mumble, offline maps and directions in OSMAnd, taking pictures, and reading news and books." He suggests leaving the prototype in airplane mode and connecting to the Internet through a second, less-trusted phone, or a cheap Wi-Fi cell router.
Classic Games (Games)

2016 Winners Announced For Interactive Fiction Competition (ifcomp.org) 24

An anonymous reader writes: This week IFComp 2016 announced the winners in their 22nd annual interactive fiction competition. After a seven-week play period, the entry with the highest average rating was "the noir standout 'Detectiveland' by Robin Johnson," according to contest organizers (while the game earning the lowest score was "Toiletworld.") A special prize is also awarded each year -- the Golden Banana of Discord -- for the game which provoked the most wildly different ratings. This year that award went to "A Time of Tungsten" by Devin Raposo. ("The walls are high, the hole is deep. She is trapped, on a distant planet. Watched. She may not survive...")
The games will soon be released on the official IF Archive site, but in the meantime you can download a 222-megabyte archive of all 58 games.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Humble Bundle Supports The EFF With A LEGO eBook Sale (humblebundle.com) 17

The EFF is describing it as "a break for your brain." An anonymous reader writes: Humble Bundle has announced a special "pay what you want" sale for four ebooks about LEGO from No Starch Press, with proceeds going to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or to the charity of your choice. The ebooks include Beautiful LEGO (a compendium of creations by dozens of artists) and Medieval LEGO, which describes and recreates English history in the Middle Ages using LEGO blocks. Contributors who pay more than $8 also receive six more books, including "Forbidden LEGO" a more free-style building guide that one reviewer called "The Anarchist Cookbook of the nursery," as well as "The Cult of LEGO", a tour of the block-building community. And for a $15 donation, contributors receive six more ebooks -- bringing the total to 16 -- including The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book and Steampunk LEGO.
Sci-Fi

'Stranger In a Strange Land' Coming To TV (ew.com) 227

HughPickens.com writes: EW reports that Paramount TV and Universal Cable Productions are teaming up to develop Robert A. Heinlein's classic 'Stranger in a Strange Land' into a TV series on Syfy. The 1961 sci-fi book, set in the aftermath of a third world war, centers on Valentine Michael Smith, a human born on Mars and raised by Martians, who, as a young adult, has returned to Earth. The true driving forces of the novel are religion and sex, which Heinlein's publisher at the time wanted him to cut out. But as the author noted to his literary agent, if religion and sex were removed from the text, what remained would be the equivalent of a "nonalcoholic martini." "From my point of view, Stranger in a Strange Land isn't just a science fiction masterpiece [...] it also happens to be one of my favorite books ever!" says NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Chairman Bonnie Hammer. "The story is timeless and resonates more than ever in today's world. As a fan, I can't wait to see it come to life as a world-class television event." A previous attempt at adapting Heinlein's novel came in 1995, when Batman Returns' Dan Waters penned a script designed for Tom Hanks and Sean Connery.
Books

Apple Releases $300 Book Containing 450 Photos of Apple Products (theverge.com) 146

Apple has a reputation for releasing "revolutionary" products that carry higher price tags than competing products. Today, the company hasn't made that reputation any better as it has released a "$299 coffee table book" that contains 450 photographs of Apple products. The Verge reports: It's a hardcover edition, bound in linen, and is available in two sizes: $199 for a smaller 10.20" x 12.75" version, and $299 for a larger 13" x 16.25" edition. The book is simply titled Designed by Apple in California -- a name that somehow manages to be both humble and incredibly pretentious at the same time. The photos inside are all new images shot by Andrew Zuckerman, and will show off 20 years of Apple design "in a deliberately spare style." In a press statement, chief designer Jony Ive described the book as "a gentle gathering of many of the products the team has designed over the years," and hoped that it would serve as a "resource for students of all design disciplines." The book is published by Apple itself, and is dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs. It is, undeniably, an act of corporate vanity publishing on an impressive scale, but it's one Apple deserves to get away with more than pretty much any other tech company. No one denies that when it comes to industrial design, Apple earns the praise it gets. That aside, though, the book's publication does show a certain amount of self-interest, navel-gazing, and even arrogance from Apple -- themes that were also present in September's unveiling of the new MacBook Pros. It's all very well to feel proud of the successes of the past, but we'll be interested to see if the company can justify releasing another such book 20 years from now.
Books

UK Bookstores Found Selling Banned US Bomb-Making Handbooks (engadget.com) 108

Three major online retailers in the UK have been listing a number of bomb-making manuals on their websites. Engadget adds:These books were originally made back in the 1960s for US military personnel and include titles like Improvised Munitions Handbook, Boobytraps, and Explosives and Demolitions. But since the end of the Vietnam War, these books have become popular resources for terrorists of all stripes. Thomas Mair, the man who assassinated Labour MP Jo Cox, reportedly owned a copy of Improvised Munitions, for example. The surfacing of these books for sale on the WH Smith, Amazon UK and Waterstones websites, has at least one of the companies scrambling to scrub the listings. WH Smith shut down its entire website for more than four hours on Thursday to eliminate the offending material, however it appears they are still available on Amazon and Waterstones.
Sci-Fi

Will The New 'Starship Troopers' Reboot Stay Faithful To The Book? (hollywoodreporter.com) 457

HughPickens.com shares news from the Hollywood Reporter: "Columbia Pictures is rebooting Starship Troopers, the 1997 sci-fi film directed by Paul Verhoeven... The studio is not remaking the film but is said to be going back to the original Heinlein novel for an all-new take." The original movie, considered a mixed success at the time of its release, went on to achieve a cult following, and during the DVD boom of the 2000s it became a mini-franchise for the studio, which produced three additional direct-to-DVD movies... "Starship Troopers [the novel] has been decried as promoting fascism and being racist in its creation of a society where democracy has been severely restricted..." writes Graeme McMillan. "The question then becomes: in updating Starship Troopers to make it more acceptable to today's audience, can it still manage to remain faithful enough to Heinlein's original to please the existing fan base?"
The script will be written by the writers of the upcoming Baywatch film starring Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson.
Books

Interviews: Ask American Author and Entrepreneur Seth Godin a Question 67

Seth Godin is an American author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker. He is just about as nerdy as it gets, receiving degrees in computer science and philosophy from Tufts University, followed by an MBA in marketing from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In the 80s, he worked as a brand manager for the non-curriculum based educational software company, Spinnaker Software, and then left to found his book packaging business, Seth Godin Productions. Soon after that he launched his marketing company Yoyodyne with Mark Hurst in 1995. Between now and then, Godin has written 17 books, such as Tribes and Linchpin, Free Prize Inside, Purple Cow, and The Dip.

You may ask Godin as many questions as you'd like (one question per comment, please). We'll pick the very best questions and forward them to Seth Godin himself. Feel free to leave your suggestions for who Slashdot should interview next.

Go on, don't be shy!
Emulation (Games)

Archive.org Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary (sfchronicle.com) 42

20 years ago this week, Archive.org started with just 500,000 sites. An anonymous reader quotes the San Francisco Chronicle: Now, the nonprofit San Francisco organization -- which celebrated the milestone with a party Wednesday night -- curates a vast digital archive that includes more than 370 million websites and 273 billion pages, many captured before they disappeared forever. It's more than an archive of Internet sites. The organization, founded by computer scientist and entrepreneur Brewster Kahle, now has a virtual storehouse ranging from digitally converted books and historic film to funny memes and audio recordings of Grateful Dead concerts...

The Internet Archive has survived through community donations and by working with about 1,000 libraries around the world that pay the group to help digitize books and other material. But the site itself remains free.

We've written about Archive.org over the years, and its collection of 2,400 DOS games, over 10,000 Amiga games (and other software) and a massive collection of arcade machine emulators. And here's what Slashdot looked like back in 1998. But what's your favorite page on Archive.org?
Mars

Elon Musk's Mars Colony Would Have a Horde of Mining Robots (engadget.com) 222

An anonymous reader shares an Engadget report: If it wasn't already clear that Elon Musk has considered virtually every aspect of what it would take to colonize Mars, it is now. As part of his Reddit AMA session, the SpaceX founder has revealed that his vision of a permanent colony would entail a huge number of "miner/tunneling droids." The robots would build large volumes of underground pressurized space for industrial activity, leaving geodesic domes (made of carbon fiber and glass) for everyday living. As a resident, you might never see the 'ugly' side of settling the Red Planet. Musk also explained how his colony would get to the point where it can reliably refuel spacecraft all by itself. Dragon capsules would serve as scouts, helping find the "best way" to extract water for fuel reactions. An unmanned Heart of Gold spaceship would then deliver the basics for a propellant plant, while the first crewed mission would finish that plant. After that, SpaceX would double the number of flights between each ideal Earth-Mars rendezvous (every 26 months) until the colony can reliably produce fuel by itself. Oh, and don't worry about today's Falcon 9 rockets being consigned to the history books. Although the main booster for interplanetary travel will "have an easier time of things," Musk believes that the final iteration of Falcon 9 (Block 5) could be used "almost indefinitely" if properly maintained. Production on Block 5 should fly in the next 6 to 8 months.
Classic Games (Games)

New Text Adventures Compete In 22nd 'Interactive Fiction Competition' (ifcomp.org) 25

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: 58 brand-new text adventures are now available free online for the 22nd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition. The public is encouraged to play the games, and on November 16th the contest's organizers will announce which ones received the highest average ratings. After 22 years, the contest is now under "the auspices of the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation, a new, charitable non-profit corporation dedicated to supporting the technologies and services that enable IF creation and play..." according to the contest's organizers. "[T]he competition now runs on servers paid for by the IF-loving public, and for this I feel sincere gratitude."
Anime

Amazon Japan's Manga-Ready Kindle Has 8 Times the Storage (engadget.com) 82

Amazon Japan has an unusual challenge with the Kindle: it not only has to cater to your typical bookworm, but to a local fondness for image-heavy (and thus storage-intensive) manga books. What it's going to do? Release a special model just for those readers, apparently. Engadget reports: The company has introduced a manga version of the Kindle Paperwhite with 32GB of storage, or eight times as much space as the run-of-the-mill 4GB model. You could cram every single volume of Asari-chan, Kochikame and Naruto into this e-reader, Amazon says. The manga Kindle is available for pre-order now, with pricing commanding a slight premium over the usual Paperwhite. You're spending about $157 or $118.
Books

Spanish Police Arrest Their First Ever eBook Pirate (torrentfreak.com) 48

An anonymous reader writes: Spain's Ministry of the Interior has announced the first ever arrest of an eBook pirate. The suspect is said to have uploaded more than 11,000 literary works online, many on the same day as their official release. More than 400 subsequent sites are said to have utilized his releases. The investigation began in 2015 following a complaint from the Spanish Reproduction Rights Centre (CEDRO), a non-profit association of authors and publishers of books, magazines, newspapers and sheet music. According to the Ministry, CEDRO had been tracking the suspect but were only able to identify him by an online pseudonym. However, following investigations carried out by the police, his real identity was discovered.
Books

O'Reilly Gives Away Free Programming Ebooks (oreilly.com) 87

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: There's now a section on OReilly.com offering free ebooks about computer programming. There's four free Java ebooks and seven about Python, as well as an "Other" section which contains ebooks like C++ Today, Swift Pocket Reference, and Why Rust? But there's also some broader categories for Open Source and Software Architecture ebooks, as well as separate sections for their free ebooks about Data, Security, Web Development, and the Internet of Things.
Sci-Fi

Why Is Science Fiction Snubbed By Literary Awards? (galacticbrain.com) 252

Slashdot reader bowman9991 quotes an essay from GalacticBrain: Science fiction authors have long been outcasts from the literary world, critics using the worst examples of the genre as ammunition against it. Unfortunately though, at times even science fiction authors themselves can turn on their own kind: "Science fiction is rockets, chemicals and talking squids in outer space," mocked Margaret Atwood, one of her many attempts to convince people that she is not a science fiction author, even though one of her most famous novels, A Handmaid's Tale, is exactly that...

Considered by the literary establishment, and frequently by non-SF award-giving institutions, to be trashy, pulpish, commercially driven lightweight gutter fiction, it's no surprise that very few works of science fiction have won major literary awards... Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the award-winning (not "literary" awards obviously) Mars novels, [in 2009] hit out at the literary establishment, accusing the Man Booker judges of "ignorance" in neglecting science fiction, which he declared was "the best British literature of our time".

The article ends with a simple question. "Will science fiction authors ever escape the publication ghetto?"
Businesses

How Tech Companies Are Responding To Hurricane Matthew (vice.com) 38

South Carolina was hit by Hurricane Matthew at 11 a.m. EST, after the hurricane killed at least 300 people in Haiti (with Reuters estimating Haiti's death toll over 800). But as the U.S. declares a state of emergency for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, and with the power out for more than a million people, an anonymous Slashdot reader looks at the role tech companies are playing in responding to the storm system: AirBNB "has been advertising free rooms in parts of Florida and South Carolina" reports Motherboard. AirBNB's Disaster Reponse Tool connects people needing shelter with volunteers who are offering their residences for free. Meanwhile, Uber promised to cap its "surge pricing" for the area, while Lyft promised its fares would rise no more than two times their normal rate.

But many escaped the path of the hurricane thanks to Shofur, a startup that books chartered buses and matches riders to low-cost tickets, according to the Daily Dot. "Through Thursday night and into the early morning hours of Friday, Shofur evacuated an estimated 10,000 Floridians and Georgians to areas such as Atlanta, Florida's west coast, and the panhandle."

NASA is also flying a huge 15,000-pound drone over the area to collect real-time weather data, while Verizon is testing a 17-foot drone which may one day provide LTE mobile connectivity to first responders. In addition, a Verizon spokesperson says drone-enabled connectivity has "set the stage" for connecting drones to their IoT platform next year.
Books

Amazon Piles On the Prime Benefits With New 'Prime Reading' Perk (geekwire.com) 54

Amazon today unveiled the latest perk for Prime members in the United States: Prime Reading. With this, the company is offering access to "over a thousand" Kindle books, comics, magazines and more. The selection will rotate, the company says, suggesting that you should be able to read titles that aren't available today. GeekWire adds: The new perk, Prime Reading, lets Amazon Prime members access more than 1,000 e-books from best-selling authors at no extra charge, read a rotating selection of popular magazines, and read content from the company's Kindle Singles library, including classic short stories and essays. Prime reading is available on the Kindle app for iOS and Android, and on the company's Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets. The new perk comes in addition to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which lets Prime members who own Amazon devices borrow one e-book a month from a larger selection of titles. Separate from a Prime membership, Amazon offers the $10/month Kindle Unlimited e-book subscription service.Amazon Prime program costs $99 per year.

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