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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Government

Is Crimea In Russia? Internet Companies Have Different Answers 295

Posted by timothy
from the now-that-depends-who-you-gentleman-are-with dept.
judgecorp (778838) writes "Three weeks after Russia asserted that Crimea is part of its territory, the social networks have a problem: how to categories their users from the region? Facebook and the largest Russian social network, Vkontakte, still say Crimeans are located in Ukraine, while other Russian social networks say they are Russians. Meanwhile, on Wikipedia, an edit war has resulted in Crimea being part of Russia, but shaded a different colour to signify the territory is disputed. Search engine Yandex is trying to cover both angles: its maps service gives a different answer, depending on which location you send your query from."
United States

Bill Would End US Govt's Sale of Already-Available Technical Papers To Itself 32

Posted by timothy
from the what-and-forgo-the-multiplier-effect? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Members of the Senate have proposed a bill that would prohibit the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) from selling to other U.S. federal agencies technical papers that are already freely available. NTIS is under the Department of Commerce. The bill is probably a result of a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which points out that 'Of the reports added to NTIS's repository during fiscal years 1990 through 2011, GAO estimates that approximately 74 percent were readily available from other public sources.' Ars Technica notes that the term 'public sources' refers to 'either the issuing organization's website, the federal Internet portal, or another online resource.'"
Advertising

Why No One Trusts Facebook To Power the Future 218

Posted by timothy
from the que-sera-sera dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Facebook owns virtually all the aspects of the social experience—photos (Instagram), status updates (Facebook), location services (Places)—but now, Facebook is transitioning from a simple social network to a full-fledged technology company that rivals Google, moonshot for moonshot. Yet, it's Facebook's corporate control of traffic that leads many to distrust the company. In a sense, people are stuck. When the time comes for someone to abandon Facebook, whether over privacy concerns or frustration with the company, Facebook intentionally makes it hard to leave. Even if you delete your account, your ghost remains—even when you die, Facebook can still make money off you. And that's not behavior fit for a company that's poised to take over the future."
Mozilla

Was Eich a Threat To Mozilla's $1B Google "Trust Fund"? 564

Posted by timothy
from the are-you-now-or-have-you-ever-been dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Over the years, Mozilla's reliance on Google has continued to grow. Indeed, in its report on Brendan Eich's promotion to CEO of Mozilla, the WSJ noted that "Google accounted for nearly 90% of Mozilla's $311 million in revenue." So, with its Sugar Daddy having also gone on record as being virulently opposed to Proposition 8, to think that that Google's support didn't enter into discussions of whether Prop 8 backer Eich should stay or go seems, well, pretty much unthinkable. "It is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8," explained Google co-founder Sergey Brin in 2008. "We should not eliminate anyone's fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love." Interestingly, breaking the news of Eich's resignation was journalist Kara Swisher, whose right to marry a top Google exec in 2008 was nearly eliminated by Prop 8. "In an interview this morning," wrote Swisher, "Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker said that Eich's ability to lead the company that makes the Firefox Web browser had been badly damaged by the continued scrutiny over the hot-button issue, which had actually been known since 2012 inside the Mozilla community." Swisher, whose article was cited by the NY Times in The Campaign Against Mozilla's Brendan Eich, added that "it was not hard to get the sense that Eich really wanted to stick strongly by his views about gay marriage, which run counter to much of the tech industry and, increasingly, the general population in the U.S. For example, he repeatedly declined to answer when asked if he would donate to a similar initiative today." So, was keeping Eich aboard viewed by Mozilla — perhaps even by Eich himself — as a possible threat to the reported $1 billion minimum revenue guarantee the organization enjoys for delivering search queries for Google?"
Movies

The Amazon Fire TV Is Kind of a Mess 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-is-streaming-tv/movies-still-so-terrible-in-2014 dept.
redletterdave writes: "At the Fire TV unveiling, Amazon officials sounded like they perfectly understood how frustrating TV streaming devices are for their owners. Amazon focused on three main problems: Search is hard, especially for anything not on a bestseller list; streaming devices often provide slow or laggy performance; and TV set-top boxes tend to be closed ecosystems. The Fire TV is Amazon's attempt to solve these three problems—the key word here being 'attempt.' Perhaps Amazon's homegrown solution was a bit premature and its ambitions too lofty, because while Fire TV can do almost everything, little of it is done right." An example given by the review is how the touted Voice Search works — it doesn't interact at all with supported apps, instead bringing up Amazon search results. Thus, even if you have access to a movie for free through Netflix, using the Voice Search for that movie will only bring up Amazon's paid options.
Communications

The Inside Story of Gmail On Its Tenth Anniversary 142

Posted by timothy
from the waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop dept.
harrymcc (1641347) writes "Google officially — and mischievously — unveiled Gmail on April Fools' Day 2004. That makes this its tenth birthday, which I celebrated by talking to a bunch of the people who created the service for TIME.com. It's an amazing story: The service was in the works for almost three years before the announcement, and faced so much opposition from within Google that it wasn't clear it would ever reach consumers." Update: 04/01 13:37 GMT by T : We've introduced a lot of new features lately; some readers may note that with this story we are slowly rolling out one we hope you enjoy -- an audio version of each Slashdot story. If you are one of the readers in our testing pool, you'll hear the story just by clicking on it from the home page as if to read the comments; if you're driving, we hope you'll use your mobile devices responsibly.
Google

Facebook, Google Battle To Bring Internet To Remote Locations 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the spreading-the-net dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "Facebook and Google only make money from people when they can access the Internet, so it stands to reason that they're working to make sure everyone has access. While Google's Project Loon seeks to use balloon-borne equipment, Mark Zuckerberg envisions a system of drones and laser beams."
The Courts

U.S. Court: Chinese Search Engine's Censorship Is 'Free Speech' 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the filtering-the-internet dept.
jfruh writes: "You will probably not be surprised to learn that Chinese search giant Baidu censors a wide range of content, particularly political material deemed to be pro-democracy — and does so for users everywhere, not just in China. A group of activists filed suit against Baidu in New York for violating free speech laws, but the judge in the case declared (PDF) that, as a private entity in the United States, Baidu has the right to provide whatever kind of search results it wants, even for political reasons."
Google

Google Now Arrives In Chrome For Windows and Mac 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-it-while-it's-hot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced Google Now is coming to the Chrome stable channel for Windows and Mac 'starting today and rolling out over the next few weeks.' This means Google Now notifications will finally be available to desktop and laptop Chrome users, in addition to Android and iOS users. To turn the feature on, all you need to do is sign in to Chrome with the same Google Account you're using for Google Now on mobile. If you use Google Now on multiple devices, you will need to manage your location settings for each device independently (change Location Reporting on Android and iOS)."
Advertising

Google Blurring Distinction Between Ads and Organic Search Results 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-will-be-notified-which-results-are-ads-in-6-months dept.
jfruh writes "For years, paid links returned from Google search queries have been set off from 'real' search results by their placement on the page and by a colored background. But some users have begun to see a different format for these ads: a tiny yellow button that reads 'AD' at the end of the link is the only distinguishing feature. Google is notoriously close-mouthed about this sort of thing, but it may begin rolling the new format out to more users soon."
Stats

Google Flu Trends Gets It Wrong Three Years Running 64

Posted by timothy
from the coughedword-coughedword dept.
wabrandsma writes with this story from NewScientist: "Google may be a master at data wrangling, but one of its products has been making bogus data-driven predictions. A study of Google's much-hyped flu tracker has consistently overestimated flu cases in the US for years. It's a failure that highlights the danger of relying on big data technologies.

Evan Selinger, a technology ethicist at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, says Google Flu's failures hint at a larger problem with the algorithmic approach taken by technology companies to deliver services we all want to use. The problem is with the assumption that either the data that is gathered about us, or the algorithms used to process it, are neutral. Google Flu Trends has been discussed at slashdot before: When Google Got Flu Wrong."
Google

Google Faces Up To $5 Billion Fine From Competition Commission of India 89

Posted by timothy
from the so-I-was-just-counting-your-governments dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google is facing investigation by the Competition Commission of India and potentially faces fines up to 10% of its three-year average turnover. While Google has settled anti-trust cases in the U.S. and the European Union, India's competition regime does not have provisions for settlement process." From the Times of India article linked: "The complaint against Google, also one of the world's most valued company, was first filed by advocacy group CUTS International way back in late 2011. Later, matrimonial website matrimony.com also filed a complaint. Referring to Google's settlement with the European Commission, matrimony.com counsel Ferida Satarawala said: 'Google's unfair use of trademarks as well as its retaliatory conduct are not specifically addressed in the European settlement and are distinct theories of harm being pursued by the CCI. Therefore, this settlement is unlikely to address CCI's concerns in our case.'"
Privacy

Eric Schmidt, Jared Cohen Say Google Data Now Protected From Gov't Spying 155

Posted by timothy
from the now-how-to-effectively-test? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google's Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen were [part of a] wide-ranging session at SXSW today and they revealed that Google's data is now safely protected from the prying eyes of government organizations. In the last few days Google upgraded its security measure following revelations that Britain's GCHQ had intercepted data being transmitted between Google datacenters, Schmidt said that his company's upgrades following the incident left him 'pretty sure that information within Google is now safe from any government's prying eyes.'"
Windows

Free (Gratis) Version of Windows Could Be a Reality Soon 392

Posted by timothy
from the insert-coin-to-continue dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft is exploring whether to release a free version of Windows to increase the number of computers using the latest operating system. Currently the company seems to be testing a new version of the OS called 'Windows 8.1 with Bing', which will include Microsoft's key modern apps and services."
Privacy

Supreme Court Ruling Relaxes Warrant Requirements For Home Searches 500

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the arrest-everyone-until-someone-consents dept.
cold fjord writes with news that the Supreme Court has expanded the ability of police officers to search a home without needing a warrant, quoting the LA Times: "Police officers may enter and search a home without a warrant as long as one occupant consents, even if another resident has previously objected, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday ... The 6-3 ruling ... gives authorities more leeway to search homes without obtaining a warrant, even when there is no emergency. The majority ... said police need not take the time to get a magistrate's approval before entering a home in such cases. But dissenters ... warned that the decision would erode protections against warrantless home searches." In this case, one person objected to the search and was arrested followed by the police returning and receiving the consent of the remaining occupant.

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