Nerval's Lobster writes "Fresh off purchasing Tumblr for $1.1 billion, Yahoo has moved to the next stage of what's becoming a company-wide reboot: fixing Flickr, the photo-sharing service that it acquired in 2005 and subsequently allowed to languish. Yahoo boosted Flickr accounts' individual storage capacity to one free terabyte, revamped the Website's overall look, and launched a new Flickr app for Google Android, among other tweaks. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer clearly wants her company to fight toe-to-toe on features with Google and Facebook, but she faces a long road ahead of her: not only does she need to streamline Yahoo's cumbersome corporate structure and product portfolio into something that resembles fighting shape, but she needs to reverse the general perception that Yahoo is teetering on the edge of history's trash-bin, with an aging customer base and unexciting features. The question is, could anyone actually pull it off? Is Yahoo capable of an Apple-style turnaround, or are its current actions merely delaying the inevitable?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Location is everything when choosing the site of a data center. Firms such as Microsoft and Google and Facebook spend a lot of time looking into the costs of land, power, regulation and taxes before placing their respective data centers in a particular place. Sometimes, that local tax bill comes into play in a big way. Just ask the National Security Agency which learned it faces a multimillion-dollar annual state tax on the power consumed by its new data center in Camp Williams, south of Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake Tribune obtained a series of email exchanges between the feds and the state, with the NSA protesting a $2.4 million tax on its annual power expenditure, pegged at about $40 million. Harvey Davis, director of installations and logistics for the NSA, sent a letter (subsequently quoted by the newspaper) to state officials that made the logistics argument: 'Long-term stability in the utility rates was a major factor in Utah being selected as our site for our $1.5bn construction at Camp Williams. HP325 [the new law] runs counter to what we expected.'" This would be the data center William Binney et al claim is logging almost all domestic communication.
TechCrunch reports that Yahoo's string of acquisitions may soon include Tumblr: "The Wall Street Journal is now reporting via Twitter that the rumored $1.1 billion cash acquisition deal for social blogging site Tumblr has been approved by Yahoo’s board of directors. The Tumblr acquisition was rumored last week, with a price tag reportedly north of $1 billion, which appears to be accurate if the WSJ’s sources are correct." The article notes, too, that "Yahoo had only $1.2 billion cash on hand as of its most recent quarterly earnings, which makes an all-cash offer for Tumblr a lot more of a stretch than it would be for someone like Apple, or even Facebook, which acquired Instagram for $1 billion in a mix of both cash and stock."
Nerval's Lobster writes "But at this year's Google I/O conference in San Francisco, Google announced that it has a plan to make Google Plus users more engaged, courtesy of new features backed by a handful of data-analytics tricks. Google Plus postings now feature Google-generated hashtags that, when clicked, direct the user to related content from across their network. From a backend-infrastructure perspective, that sort of thing leans heavily on Google's semantic analysis and the ability to make the right connections between various pieces of data. Google Plus will also automatically highlight certain photos out of dozens or even hundreds of shots. Say you went on vacation to India and took some photos of your significant other in front of the Taj Mahal; Google Plus will leverage its database of information to recognize that as a prominent landmark and pluck those photos out of the pile as 'special.' In the words of that posting on the Google+ Blog: 'Your darkroom is now a Google data center.' Are all these nifty, analytics-intensive features enough to change the larger fortunes of Google Plus? That's the big question. Google has a handsome-looking platform, one that performs certain activities with a high degree of polish and zip—but is that enough to counter Facebook?"
Linus Torvalds, Jon 'maddog' Hall, and many other names closely associated with Linux are also closely associated with beer. (Ed. note: I have personally watched them associate with beer, and may have even joined them.) It comes as no surprise, therefore, when Linux advocate and LinuxAutomation.org founder Kurt Forsberg talks about using Linux to control his beer brewing. Kurt is a strong believer in Linux Automation who talks about home thermostats, sprinklers, and many other application, "anything you can automate..." but, he adds, "we spend all our time brewing beer so we haven't explored many of those yet." He says this with a big smile, of course. And if you want to keep up with Linux Automation on Faceboook, go ahead; like everyone + dog they have a Facebook page.
New submitter edanto writes "A young Irish man wrongly accused of jumping from a taxi without paying the fare has secured a judgement from an Irish court ordering the video removed from the entire Internet. Experts from Google, Youtube, Facebook, and others must tell the court in two weeks if this is technically possible. The thing is, the video is accurate, it is only a comment that wrongly identified Eoin McKeogh as the fare-jumper in the video that is inaccurate. It's not clear if the judge has made any orders about the comment."
WheezyJoe writes "A story on NPR reports that the TrackingPoint rifle went on sale today, and can enable a 'novice' to hit a target 500 yards away on the first try. The rifle's scope features a sophisticated color graphics display (video). The shooter locks a laser on the target by pushing a small button by the trigger... But here's where it's different: You pull the trigger but the gun decides when to shoot. It fires only when the weapon has been pointed in exactly the right place, taking into account dozens of variables, including wind, shake and distance to the target. The rifle has a built-in laser range finder, a ballistics computer and a Wi-Fi transmitter to stream live video and audio to a nearby iPad. Every shot is recorded so it can be replayed, or posted to YouTube or Facebook."
zacharye writes "The HTC First, or 'Facebook phone' as many prefer to call it, is officially a flop. It certainly wasn't a good sign when AT&T dropped the price of HTC's First to $0.99 just one month after its debut, and now BGR has confirmed that HTC and Facebook's little experiment is nearing its end. BGR has learned from a trusted source that sales of the HTC First have been shockingly bad. So bad, in fact, that AT&T has already decided to discontinue the phone. Our source at AT&T has confirmed that the HTC First, which is the first smartphone to ship with Facebook Home pre-installed, will soon be discontinued and unsold inventory will be returned to HTC. How much unsold inventory is there? We don’t have an exact figure, but things aren’t looking good. According to our source, AT&T sold fewer than 15,000 units nationwide through last week when the phone’s price was slashed to $0.99."
harrymcc writes "Back in late March, Facebook finally introduced a feature which lets you reply to a specific comment on an update. But at the same time, it started reshuffling the order of comments in an attempt to put the best ones at the top. The change only applies to Pages and to the Profiles of people with more than 10,000 followers, but it's driving me crazy. Over at TIME.com, I explain why."
gannebraemorr writes "The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don't need a search warrant to review Americans' e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal. Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they're not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail."
another random user writes "Facebook is reportedly introducing video advertisements to News Feeds this summer. Reports in the Financial Times (registration required) say that the clips will last for around 15 seconds, and the first one users see each day will play automatically. The first video will apparently play without audio, and restart if the account holder chooses to activate sound. Facebook is yet to officially confirm the move, but the report claims that the social network will gradually introduce video advertising to minimize user disruption. The company's most lucrative marketing partners, including American Express, Coca Cola, Ford, Diageo and Nestle, are expected to be the first brands to make use of the feature. Facebook is said to have implemented the strategy in a bid to take a slice out of TV ad revenue by undercutting the sector."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Tech firms are engaging in several non-traditional hiring methods, from programming contests to finding the right people via algorithm. One of the more popular methods: set up a coding challenge or programming contest to bring out interested parties, with the top prize being a trip to the sponsoring company's headquarters to interview for a job. Look at what Facebook is doing in this area, sponsoring several Kaggle.com programming contests to find the best programmers; it also makes use of the site InterviewStreet to screen potential applicants. In theory, any company can build and run a contest online. But is it really the best way to go about hiring a programmer (or any other tech-minded employee, for that matter)?"
itwbennett writes "They'll still be all-night coding sessions, but starting with this week's 'Project Mayhem' event, there are a few notable changes. First, they're longer — starting at 11 a.m. Thursday and continuing until 2 p.m. Friday. And coding through the night is optional. 'It's like, "let's take this day off to do this, and then if I need to get more done, we can hang out and finish at night,"' said Facebook engineering manager Pedram Keyani, who organizes the hackathons."
cold fjord writes "It looks like another milestone for hypersonic flight has been reached. From the story: 'The final flight of the X-51A Waverider test program has accomplished a breakthrough in the development of flight reaching Mach 5.1 over the Pacific Ocean . . ."It was a full mission success," said Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager for the Air Force Research Laboratory Aerospace Systems Directorate. The cruiser traveled over 230 nautical miles in just over six minutes over the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range. It was the longest of the four X-51A test flights and the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight ever. . . This was the last of four test vehicles originally conceived when the $300 million technology demonstration program began in 2004. The program objective was to prove the viability of air-breathing, high-speed scramjet propulsion. The X-51A is unique primarily due to its use of a hydrocarbon fuel in its supersonic combustion ramjet, or Scramjet, engine. ... The use of logistically supportable hydrocarbon fuel is widely considered vital for the practical application of hypersonic flight.'"
hypnosec writes "U.S. officials have told the Indian Government that they will not be able to serve summons to the executives of companies like Google and Facebook because they are not convinced that the content hosted on these sites can cause violence and that these summons impact 'free speech principles.' The reply comes as a response to India's request to the US to help serve papers to 11 Internet companies accused of hosting content on their sites that was meant to fuel communal hatred and violence. The U.S. authorities said that there are limitations when it comes to protection on free speech — when the speech comprises a true threat or provokes imminent violence — but in this particular case there is not sufficient evidence of either of these."
alphadogg writes "Facebook Thursday said it's making available globally a feature called 'Trusted Contacts' that lets users select three to five friends who can help users recover account access such as if they forget their password. Facebook said the idea is that once these friends are identified as 'trusted contacts' through the user's security settings, Facebook will provide each of them with a special code. 'Enter the codes from [at least 3 of] your trusted contacts, and you'll be able to access your account,' Facebook says. 'After you set your trusted contacts, we'll notify them so that they can be ready to help you if you ever need it.'"
tdog17 writes "Verizon and MySpace scored a zero out of a possible six stars in a test of how far 18 technology service providers will go to protect user data from government data demands. Twitter and Internet service provider Sonic.net scored a perfect six in the third annual Electronic Frontier Foundation 'Who Has Your Back?' report. Apple, AT&T and Yahoo ranked near the bottom, each scoring just one star. 'While we are pleased by the strides these companies have made over the past couple years, there’s plenty of room for improvement. Amazon holds huge quantities of information as part of its cloud computing services and retail operations, yet does not promise to inform users when their data is sought by the government, produce annual transparency reports, or publish a law enforcement guide. Facebook has yet to publish a transparency report. Yahoo! has a public record of standing up for user privacy in courts, but it hasn't earned recognition in any of our other categories. Apple and AT&T are members of the Digital Due Process coalition, but don’t observe any of the other best practices we’re measuring. ... We remain disappointed by the overall poor showing of ISPs like AT&T and Verizon in our best practice categories.'"
Jeremiah Cornelius writes with what looks to be part of CISPA III: Children of CISPA. From the article: "A government task force is preparing legislation that would pressure companies such as Facebook and Google to enable law enforcement officials to intercept online communications as they occur. ... 'The importance to us is pretty clear,' says Andrew Weissmann, the FBI's general counsel. 'We don't have the ability to go to court and say, "We need a court order to effectuate the intercept." Other countries have that.' Under the draft proposal, a court could levy a series of escalating fines, starting at tens of thousands of dollars, on firms that fail to comply with wiretap orders, according to persons who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. 'This proposal is a non-starter that would drive innovators overseas and cost American jobs,' said Greg Nojeim, a senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. 'They might as well call it the Cyber Insecurity and Anti-Employment Act.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook's Graph Search is an ambitious project: give users the ability to search through the social network's vast webs of data via natural-language queries. But that's much easier said—so to speak—than done. Although human beings think nothing of speaking in 'natural' language, a machine must not only learn all the grammatical building-blocks we take for granted—it needs to compensate for the quirks and errors that inevitably pop up in the course of speech. The Facebook team tasked with building Graph Search also knew that the alternate option, keyword-based search, wasn't a viable one. 'Keywords, which usually consist of nouns or proper nouns, can be nebulous in their intent,' Facebook engineering manager Xiao Li wrote in an April 29 posting on Facebook's blog. 'For example, "friends Facebook" can mean "friends on Facebook," "friends who work at Facebook Inc," or "friends who like Facebook the page."' That left the team with building a natural-language interface. The posting digs deep into the elements of the backend, including everything from 'parse trees' to a lexical analysis system."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Back in January, when Wolfram Alpha launched an updated version of its Personal Analytics for Facebook module, the self-billed 'computational knowledge engine' asked users to contribute their detailed Facebook data for research purposes. The researchers at Wolfram Alpha, having crunched all that information, are now offering some data on how users interact with Facebook. For starters, the median number of 'friends' is 342, with the average number of friends peaking for those in their late teens before declining at a steady rate. Younger people also have a tendency to largely add Facebook friends around their own age — for example, someone who's 20 might have lots of friends in the twenty-something range, and comparatively few in other decades of life—while middle-aged people tend to have friends across the age spectrum. Beyond that, the Wolfram Alpha blog offers up some interesting information about friend counts (and 'friend of friend' counts), how friends' networks tend to 'cluster' around life events such as school and sports teams, and even how peoples' postings tend to evolve as they get older — as people age, for example, they tend to talk less about video games and more about politics. 'It feels like we're starting to be able to train a serious "computational telescope" on the "social universe,"' the blog concluded. 'And it's letting us discover all sorts of phenomena.'"