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Japanese Rocket Launches Its First Commercial Satellite ( 21

schwit1 writes: Using its H-IIA rocket, upgraded to lower cost, Japan launched its first commercial payload today, putting Canada's Telestar 12V into geosynchronous orbit. UPI reports: "Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency said the H-IIA rocket was upgraded for the launch, permitting the satellite to stay closer to its geostationary orbit. Tokyo's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he hoped the launch would exhibit the quality of Japan's rocket engineering, and that the successful launch would result in more orders from other global corporations. Following the launch, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries vice president Naohiko Abe said the firm plans to actively promote the H-IIA for satellite launches."

Why Car Salesmen Don't Want To Sell Electric Cars 322 writes: Matt Richtel writes in the NYT that one big reason there are only about 330,000 electric vehicles on the road is that car dealers show little enthusiasm for putting consumers into electric cars. Industry insiders say that electric vehicles do not offer dealers the same profits as gas-powered cars, they take more time to sell because of the explaining required, and electric vehicles may require less maintenance, undermining the biggest source of dealer profits — their service departments. Some electric car buyers have said they felt as if they were the ones doing the selling. Chelsea Dell made an appointment to test-drive a used Volt but when she arrived, she said, a salesman told her that the car hadn't been washed, and that he had instead readied a less expensive, gas-powered car. "I was ready to pull the trigger, and they were trying to muscle me into a Chevy Sonic," says Dell. "The thing I was baffled at was that the Volt was a lot more expensive." Marc Deutsch, Nissan's business development manager for electric vehicles says some salespeople just can't rationalize the time it takes to sell the cars. A salesperson "can sell two gas burners in less than it takes to sell a Leaf," Deutsch says. "It's a lot of work for a little pay."

Jared Allen says that service is crucial to dealer profits and that dealers didn't want to push consumers into electric cars that might make them less inclined to return for service. Maybe that helps explains the experience of Robert Kast, who last year leased a Volkswagen e-Golf from a local dealer. He said the salesman offered him a $15-per-month maintenance package that included service for oil changes, belt repair and water pumps. "I said: 'You know it doesn't have any of those things,'" Mr. Kast recalled. He said the salesman excused himself to go confirm this with his manager. Of the whole experience, Mr. Kast, 61, said: "I knew a whole lot more about the car than anyone in the building." "Until selling a plug-in electric car is as quick and easy as selling any other vehicle that nets the dealer the same profit, many dealers will avoid them, for very logical and understandable reasons," says John Voelker. "That means that the appropriate question should be directed to makers of electric cars: What are you doing to make selling electric cars as profitable and painless for your dealers as selling gasoline or diesel vehicles?"

How Black Friday and Cyber Monday Are Losing Their Meaning ( 135 writes: Brad Tuttle reports at Money Magazine that while the terms "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" are more ubiquitous than ever, the importance of the can't-miss shopping days is undeniably fading. Retailers seem to want it both ways: They want shoppers to spend money long before these key shopping events, and yet they also want shoppers to turn out in full force to make purchases over the epic Black Friday weekend. When they use the "Cheap Stuff!" card day after day and week after week, the deals on any single day stop seeming special. Add to that the trend of manufacturers creating stripped-down versions of their electronics to sell on Black Friday, and consumers have less reason than ever to flood retail stores.

The true story behind Black Friday is not as sunny as retailers might have you believe. Back in the 1950s, police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Shoplifters would also take advantage of the bedlam in stores to make off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache. Sometime in the late 1980s, however, retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positively, rather than negatively, on them and their customers. The result was the "red to black" concept of the holiday mentioned earlier, and the notion that the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when America's stores finally turned a profit.


Microsoft Blames Layoffs For Drop In Female Employees ( 172

itwbennett writes: This year, women made up 26.8 percent of Microsoft's total workforce, down from 29 percent in 2014, the company reported Monday. In a blog post discussing the numbers, Gwen Houston, Microsoft's general manager of diversity and inclusion, pointed the finger at the thousands of layoffs the company made to restructure its phone hardware business: 'The workforce reductions resulting from the restructure of our phone hardware business ... impacted factory and production facilities outside the U.S. that produce handsets and hardware, and a higher percentage of those jobs were held by women,' she said.

With $160 Billion Merger, Pfizer Moves To Ireland and Dodges Taxes ( 359

ourlovecanlastforeve writes: In a $160 billion dollar acquisition, drug company Allergan, a small company based in Ireland, "purchased" Pfizer, allowing the drug producing giant to move to Ireland and lower its tax rate from about 25 percent to 17-18 percent. Ars reports: "Such inversions, which are said to cost the American government billions in lost tax revenue, have drawn scorn from the Obama Administration and the Treasury Department. Last year, President Obama referred to the deals as 'unpatriotic' loopholes and proposed to close them. And last week, the Treasury announced new rules to make such deals more difficult. But Pfizer’s reverse-inversion skirts the rules, in part by keeping ownership split somewhat evenly between the two companies. After the deal is complete, current shareholders of Allergan, which has the majority of its operations in the US, will own 44 percent of the mega company. The remaining 56 percent will be owned by current Pfizer shareholders."

Can Full-Time Tech Workers Survive the Gig Economy? ( 166

Nerval's Lobster writes: By some measures, more than 40 percent of U.S. workers will be independent in 2020. Today, that number stands at 34 percent, according to the Freelancer's Union. By all accounts, the trend seems widespread enough to indicate that tech pros should prepare themselves for the dynamics of a world that depends more on contingent work. The question isn't whether the tech world will see an increasing prevalence of 'gigs,' rather than full-time positions; it's whether those in full-time positions can easily keep their jobs when there's pressure to farm it out cheaply and easily to freelancers. Or will the need for people who can see projects through the long term prevent the 'gig economy' from radically changing the tech industry?

Dell Accused of Installing 'Superfish-Like' Rogue Certificates On Laptops ( 89

Mickeycaskill writes: Dell has been accused of pre-installing rogue self-signing root certificate authentications on its laptops. A number of users discovered the 'eDellRoot' certificate on their machines and say it leaves their machines, and any others with the certificate, open to attack. "Anyone possessing the private key which is on my computer is capable of minting certificates for any site, for any purpose and the computer will programmatically and falsely conclude the issued certificate to be valid," said Joe Nord, a Citrix product manager who found the certificate on his laptop. It is unclear whether it is Dell or a third party installing the certificate, but the episode is similar to the 'Superfish' incident in which Lenovo was found to have installed malware to inject ads onto users' computers.

What the Sony Hack Looked Like To Employees ( 50

An anonymous reader writes: The cyber attack on Sony was one of the highest profile hacks in the past several years. Slate tracked down two dozen people who worked there at the time, and asked them what it was like on the inside while it was happening. Quoting: "The telephone directory vanished. Voicemail was offline. Computers became bricks. Internet access on the lot was shuttered. The cafeteria went cash-only. Contracts—and the templates those contracts were based on—disappeared. Sony's online database of stock footage was unsearchable. It was near impossible for Sony to communicate directly with its employees—much less ex-employees, who were also gravely affected by the hack—to inform them of what was even happening and what to do about it. 'It was like moving back into an earlier time,' one employee says." Some employees had their workloads doubled, some had nothing to do. While the hack brought the company together at the beginning, it eventually descended into recriminations and lawsuits.

Nearly 35,000 Comment On New Federal STEM OPT Extension Rule ( 55

theodp writes: Computerworld reports that the comments are in on the Department of Homeland Security's new proposed rule to extend OPT for international STEM students from 29 months to at least 36 months. The majority of the comments received by DHS support extending the program, CW notes, which is probably not surprising. Rather than choosing to "avoid the appearance of improper influence" by declining to respond to a "We the People" petition protesting a pending U.S. Federal judge's ruling that threatens to eliminate OPT STEM extensions altogether in February, the White House informed the 100k petition signers that they had the President's support, and pointed to the comment site for the proposed DHS OPT STEM rule workaround. Like the "We the People" petitioners, it's unclear whether the DHS commenters might represent corporate, university, and/or student interests, although a word cloud of the top 100 names of commenters (which accounted for 17,000+ comments) hints that international students are well-represented. By the way, in rejecting the 'emergency changes' that were enacted by DHS in 2008 to extend OPT for STEM students without public comment, Judge Ellen Huvelle said, "the 17-month duration of the STEM extension appears to have been adopted directly from the unanimous suggestions by Microsoft and similar industry groups."

CIOs Spend a Third of Their Time On Security ( 107

StewBeans writes: Much has been discussed about the potential security risks of an Internet of Things future in which billions of devices and machines are all talking to each other automatically. But the IoT market is exploding at a breakneck pace, leaving all companies scrambling to figure out the security piece of the puzzle now, before it's too late. In fact, some experts believe this issue will be what separates the winners from the losers, as security concerns either stop companies from getting into the IoT market, or delay existing IoT projects and leave the door open to swifter competition. That's likely why, according to CIO Magazine's annual survey, CIOs are spending a third of their time on security. Adam Dennison from CIO said, "If IT leaders want to embrace the sexy, new technologies they are hearing about today—the SMAC stack, third platform, Internet of Things, etc—security is going to be upfront and at the center of the discussion."

The History of SQL Injection, the Hack That Will Never Go Away ( 191

An anonymous reader writes with this history of SQL injection attacks. From the Motherboard article: "SQL injection (SQLi) is where hackers typically enter malicious commands into forms on a website to make it churn out juicy bits of data. It's been used to steal the personal details of World Health Organization employees, grab data from the Wall Street Journal, and hit the sites of US federal agencies. 'It's the most easy way to hack,' the pseudonymous hacker w0rm, who was responsible for the Wall Street Journal hack, told Motherboard. The attack took only a 'few hours.' But, for all its simplicity, as well as its effectiveness at siphoning the digital innards of corporations and governments alike, SQLi is relatively easy to defend against. So why, in 2015, is SQLi still leading to some of the biggest breaches around?"

Amazon Screenplay-Writing Software Submits Work To Amazon Studios ( 33

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has released new screenplay-writing software aimed to help connect new writing talent to its original content production company, Amazon Studios. Storywriter contains many of the autoformatting tools familiar to users of similar software such as Final Draft and Celtx, but no other screenwriting tool can claim to actually send unknown writers' output to potentially interested producers.

Sued Freelancer Allegedly Turns Over Contractee Source Code In Settlement 129

FriendlySolipsist writes: Blizzard Entertainment has been fighting World of Warcraft bots for years. TorrentFreak reports that Bossland, a German company that operates "buddy" bots, alleges Blizzard sued one of its freelancers and forced a settlement. As part of that settlement, the freelancer allegedly turned over Bossland's source code to Blizzard. In Bossland's view, their code was "stolen" by Blizzard because it was not the freelancer's to disclose. This is a dangerous precedent for freelance developers in the face of legal threats: damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Comcast Xfinity Wi-Fi Discloses Customer Names and Addresses ( 47

itwbennett writes: Despite assurances that only business listings and not customer names and home addresses would appear in the public search results when someone searches for an Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspot, that is exactly what's happened when the service was initiated 2 years ago — and is still happening now, writes CSO's Steve Ragan. And that isn't the only security issue with the service. Another level of exposure centers on accountability. Ken Smith, senior security architect with K Logix in Brookline, Ma., discovered that Comcast is relying on the device's MAC address as a key component of authentication.

Video Meet Mårten Mickos, Serial Open Source CEO (Video) 23

Marten was the MySQL CEO who built the company from a small-time free software database developer into a worldwide software juggernaut he sold to Sun Microsystems. Next, he became CEO of Eucalyptus Systems, another open source operation, which Hewlett Packard bought in 2014. Now Mårten is CEO of hackerone, a company that hooks security-worried companies up with any one of thousands of ethical hackers worldwide.

Some of those hackers might be companies that grew out of university CS departments, and some of them may be individual high school students working from their kitchen tables. Would a large company Board of Directors trust a kid hacker who came to them with a bug he found in their software? Probably not. But if Mårten or one of his hackerone people contacts that company, it's likely to listen -- and set up a bug bounty program if they don't have one already.

Essentially, once again Mårten is working as an intermediary between technically proficient people -- who may or may not conform to sociey's idea of a successful person -- and corporate executives who need hackers' skills and services but may not know how to find non-mainstream individuals or even know the difference between "hackers" and "crackers." Editor's note: I have known and respected Mårten for many years. If this interview seems like a conversation between two old friends, it is.
Operating Systems

Jolla Goes For Debt Restructuring ( 46

jones_supa writes: Months after the smartphone company Jolla announced its split and intent to focus on Sailfish OS licensing, its financial situation has not improved. Jolla's latest financing round has been delayed and so they have had to file for debt restructuring in Finland. As part of that, the company is temporarily laying off a big part of its personnel (Google translation of Finnish original). Jolla co-founder Antti Saarnio said, "Our operating system Sailfish OS is in great shape currently and it is commercially ready. Unfortunately the development until this point has required quite a lot of time and money (PDF). To get out of this death valley we need to move from a development phase into a growth phase. At the same time we need to adapt our cost levels to the new situation. One of the main actions is to tailor the operating system to fit the needs of different clients. We have several major and smaller potential clients who are interested in using Sailfish OS in their projects."

Survey: Tech Pros Ignoring Work-Life Balance Is a Myth ( 242

Nerval's Lobster writes: Are tech professionals really willing to live on energy drinks, and sleep on office couches, in order to get the job done? For many, the answer is "no." In response to a new Dice survey (Dice link, obviously), only 5 percent of employees at technology companies said that work-life balance wasn't a top priority for them. Contrast that with nearly 45 percent of respondents who said they wanted more of a work-life balance, even if their current position made that difficult. More than 27 percent of those surveyed also characterized work-life balance in the tech industry as a "myth." It seems that, despite all those companies talking publicly about wanting to give employees a better work-life balance (complete with on-site gyms and unlimited vacation time and... stuff...), it's not really working out for a lot of people. (And that's something that people have been calling out for some time.)

Citrix Spinning Off GoTo Collaboration Business, Laying Off 1,000 People ( 43

itwbennett writes: In addition to the decision to spin off the GoTo collaboration products business into a new company, the initial results of Citrix's operations review, also involves a 'realignment of resources' that is expected to eliminate about 1,000 full-time and contract roles, over and above the effect of spinning off the GoTo business. Most of the layoffs and refocusing of resources are expected in November and in January 2016.
The Courts

Taxi Owners Sue NYC Over Uber, While Court Overrules Class-Action Appeal ( 210

An anonymous reader writes: Taxi owners in New York have filed a lawsuit against cab-hailing app giant Uber, citing damaged revenues and a hefty fall in value of NYC's 'medallion' business. The case against the city and its Taxi and Limousine Commission claims that the regulators have unfairly permitted Uber to steal away business from the regulated cab industry. Getting away without regulation has enabled Uber drivers to compete directly, and drown out official taxi companies. A further lawsuit case hovering over Uber this week, is its request to immediately appeal an order approving class certification filed by its own drivers. The appeal was denied by a U.S. court yesterday.

How Bill Nye Insulted NASCAR Fans About the Sport Being the "Anti-NASA" ( 387

MarkWhittington writes: Bill Nye, the former science guy and current head of the Planetary Society, is very depressed about NASA and NASCAR, according to a story in Business Insider. He believes that the red-state yokels pay too much attention to NASCAR, which employs gas guzzling cars in races, and not enough to NASA, which employs cutting edge and environmentally correct technology, to explore the universe. However, it is a meme that the space agency itself once disagreed with. Indeed, NASA has suggested that the exploration of space is like NASCAR only with rocket ships instead of souped up, high powered cars