Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 25% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY25". ×
The Media

Montana Newspaper Plans To Out Anonymous Commenters Retroactively ( 245 writes: Eugene Volokh reports at the Washington Post that in a stunning policy shift, The Montana Standard, a daily newspaper in Butte, Montana, has decided to replace commenters' pseudonyms with their real names. "The kicker here is that the change is retroactive," writes Paul Alan Levy. "Apparently unwilling to part with the wealth of comments that are already posted on its web site under the old policy, but also, apparently, unwilling to configure its software so that comments posted before the new policy is implemented remain under the chosen screen names, the Standard announces that past comments will suddenly appear using the users' real names unless users contact the paper no later than December 26 to ask that their comments be removed." In a November 12 editorial outlining the new real-name policy, the newspaper said, "We have encountered consistent difficulty with posts that exceed the bounds of civil discourse — as have many sites where comments from anonymous posters are allowed."

The paper's new policy has proven controversial among readers. "This is the end of open and honest comments on this site," wrote one user, who goes by the name BGF. "It is easy to put your name to your comments if you are retired. But it is another thing altogether if you have to worry about upsetting your peers and bosses at work." The newspaper editor, David McCumber, says he has extensively investigated the feasibility of configuring the newspaper's software to keep comments posted before the new policy is implemented under the chosen screen names. He says he was told by his content-management software experts that such a configuration is impossible. "Based on that, I am trying to do what is most equitable to all of our readers," says McCumber. "When a relatively small city is at the center of your market, just about everybody commented about is known, and the anonymous comments sting."


Axel Springer Goes After iOS 9 Ad Blockers In New Legal Battlle ( 221

An anonymous reader writes: Germany's Axel Springer, owner of newspapers like Bild and Die Welt, is pursuing legal action against the developers of Blockr, an ad blocker for iOS 9. Techcrunch reports: "In October, Axel Springer forced visitors to Bild to turn off their ad blockers or pay a monthly fee to continue using the site. Earlier this month, the publisher reported the success of this measure, saying that the proportion of readers using ad blockers dropped from 23% to the single digits when faced with the choice to turn off the software or pay. 'The results are beyond our expectations,' said Springer chief exec Mathias Döpfner at the time. 'Over two-thirds of the users concerned switched off their adblocker.' He also noted that the website received an additional 3 million visits from users who could now see the ads in the first two weeks of the experiment going live."

And the Pulitzer Prize For SQL Reporting Goes To... ( 27

theodp writes: Over at the Stanford Computational Journalism Lab, Dan Nguyen's Exploring the Wall Street Journal's Pulitzer-Winning Medicare Investigation with SQL is a pretty epic post on how one can use SQL to learn about Medicare data and controversial practices in Medicare billing, giving the reader a better appreciation for what was involved in the WSJ's Medicare Unmasked data investigation. So, how long until a journalist wins a Pulitzer for SQL reporting? And for all you amateur and professional Data Scientists, what data would you want to SELECT if you were a Pulitzer-seeking reporter?

Investigation Reveals How Easy It Is To Hijack a Science Journal Website ( 18

sciencehabit writes: With 20,000 journal websites producing millions of articles — and billions of dollars — it was probably inevitable that online criminals would take notice. An investigation by Science magazine finds that an old exploit is being used on academic publishers: domain snatching and website spoofing. The trick is to find the tiny number of journals whose domain registration has lapsed at any given time. But how do they track their prey? Science correspondent and grey-hat hacker John Bohannon (the same reporter who submitted hundreds of computer-generated fake scientific papers in a journal sting) proposes a method: Scrape the journal data from Web of Science (curated by Thomson Reuters) and run WHOIS queries on their URLs to generate an automatic hijack schedule.

He found 24 journals indexed by Thomson Reuters whose domains were snatched over the past year. Most are under construction or for sale, but 2 of them now host fake journals and ask for real money. And to prove his point, Bohannon snatched a journal domain himself and Rickrolled it. (It now hosts an xkcd cartoon and a link to the real journal.) Science is providing the article describing the investigation free of charge, as well as all the data and code. You can hijack a journal yourself, if you're so inclined: An IPython Notebook shows how to scrape Web of Science and automate WHOIS queries to find a victim. Science hopes that you return the domains to the real publishers after you snatch them.

The Media

Reuters Bans RAW Photo Format ( 206

grcumb writes: Reuters is the latest agency to join the ranks of the technically clueless who think that ethical problems can be solved using technical means. They recently issued a circular to their contributors, stating in part: "In future, please don't send photos to Reuters that were processed from RAW or CR2 files. If you want to shoot raw images that's fine, just take JPEGs at the same time. Only send us the photos that were originally JPEGs, with minimal processing...." The problem they claim to be addressing is doctored images, but they don't explain how they plan to ensure that the JPEGs weren't simply exported from RAW files with their EXIF data altered, or heck, just altered as JPEG. They also assert that getting JPEG files straight from the camera is quicker, which is fair enough. Lots of professionals shoot with RAW+JPEG at newsworthy events. They can send the JPEGs off quickly to meet the first deadline, then process the RAW files at leisure for higher quality publications.
The Media

"Fallout 4" Release Raises Questions About Reviews of Buggy Games ( 367

RogueyWon writes: Fallout 4, the latest instalment in the long-running video-game series and one of the most hyped titles of the year, was released on 10 November. The game has generally been reviewing well, currently holding a Metacritic score of 89. However, a number of reviewers have noted the very large number of bugs present in all versions of the game and have, in some cases, reflected on the difficulty that these pose for reviewers, despite still awarding positive overall write-ups. Can it be ethical to recommend a product to consumers on the basis of its strengths, despite knowing that it contains serious faults?

Muzzled Canadian Scientists Can Now Speak Freely With Public ( 197

Layzej writes: Over the last 10 years, policies were put in place to prevent Canadian scientists from freely discussing taxpayer-funded science with the public. "media relations contacts" were enlisted to monitor and record interactions with the press. Interviews and often the questions to be asked were vetted ahead of time, and responses given by scientists frequently monitored or prohibited. Nature, one of the world's top science journals, called the policy a "Byzantine approach to the press, prioritizing message control and showing little understanding of the importance of the free flow of scientific knowledge."

The new government in Canada is lifting these restrictions. Scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were told Thursday they can now speak to the media. In a statement on Friday afternoon, Navdeep Bains, Canada's new minister of innovation, science and economic development said "Our government values science and will treat scientists with respect. This is why government scientists and experts will be able to speak freely about their work to the media and the public."

The Media

BBC Lets Viewers Buy Shows and Episodes Permanently, But No 'Extras' ( 80

An anonymous reader writes: The BBC has opened a new online store which lets viewers purchase TV programs that do not expire in its iPlayer streaming outlet after thirty days, but which apparently remain stored for streaming in the same style as Amazon's video purchases. The BBC claims the extensive archive inventory is available only to UK-based viewers, though its VPN-blocking attempts do not currently seem to prevent purchases from outside the country. Additionally the BBC's high-quality disc extras do not seem to have made the jump from disc to digital, signifying possible further decline for 'value added' features such as commentaries and documentaries in the future.

Ask Slashdot: Securing a Journalist's Laptop Against a Police Search? 324

Bruce66423 writes: In the light of the British police's seizure of a BBC laptop what is the right configuration and practices to ensure that such a seizure provides zero information to the cops? This post from Thursday might be a good place for some ideas, but that one's expressly about securing a Chromebook; what would you advise for securing a more conventional laptop? (Or desktop, for that matter.)
The Internet

Playboy Drops Nudity As Internet Fills Demand 200 writes: Ravi Somaiya reports in the NY Times that as part of a redesign that will be unveiled next March, the print edition of Playboy Magazine will still feature women in provocative poses but they will no longer be fully nude. "That battle has been fought and won," says CEO Scott Flanders. "You're now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it's just passé at this juncture." According to Somaiya, for a generation of American men, reading Playboy was a cultural rite, an illicit thrill consumed by flashlight. Now every teenage boy has an Internet-connected phone instead. Pornographic magazines, even those as storied as Playboy, have lost their shock value, their commercial value and their cultural relevance. The magazine will adopt a cleaner, more modern style. There will still be a Playmate of the Month, but the pictures will be "PG-13" and less produced — more like the racier sections of Instagram. "A little more accessible, a little more intimate," says Flancers. It is not yet decided whether there will still be a centerfold.

The Forgotten Tale of Cartrivision's 1972 VCR 92

harrymcc writes: In 1972 -- years before Betamax and VHS -- a Silicon Valley startup called Cartrivision started selling VCRs built into color TVs. They offered movies for sale and rent -- everything from blockbusters to porn -- using an analog form of DRM, and also let you record broadcast TV. There was also an optional video camera. And it was a spectacular flop. Over at Fast Company, Ross Rubin tells the fascinating story of this ambitious failure.

Nintendo Nixes YouTube Videos of Super Mario Speedruns 151

The Boston Globe reports (based on Kotaku's story earlier this month) that Nintendo is cracking down on YouTube videos which show speedruns of its games -- computer-guided play that skips completely human hands pressing buttons on a controller. Why? The article notes that these play-throughs "require the use of ROMs, digital backup files of the original game that can be freely passed from computer to computer, or downloaded from well-known websites. Therefore, Nintendo reasons — and YouTube is clearly sympathetic to this reasoning — there are copyright issues at play, since players aren’t using the (ancient) original game cartridges, or newer copies sold directly online by Nintendo." Legally justifiable or not, this seems unlikely to build goodwill with some of Nintendo's most nostalgic fans.

Vodafone Australia Employee Searched Journalist's Phone Records To Find Source 65

An anonymous reader writes: In 2011, a journalist named Natalie O'Brien published a series of stories on security problems in Vodafone's Siebel data system. "Customers' home addresses, driver's licenses and credit card details were all available online, O'Brien wrote, and criminal groups were paying for customers' private information." Now, Vodafone Australia has admitted that an employee went through her phone and text records to try and figure out who her sources were within the company. O'Brien wrote, "The invasion of privacy is devastating. It plays with your mind. What was in those texts? Who were they to? What did they see? What did they do with the information?" Despite the admission, Vodafone has denied that it engaged in improper behavior (PDF). The company says it found no evidence the employee was directed to do so by management. That said, leaked emails show management became aware of the privacy breach and its potential repercussions as early as 2012.

NASA Launching 4K TV Channel 41

An anonymous reader writes: NASA has announced that it's partnering with Harmonic to launch a new TV channel that delivers video at 4k resolution (4096x2160). The channel is called NASA TV UHD, and it'll go live on November 1. Content will be generated by cameras at the International Space Station and on other NASA missions, as well as any 4K content they can remaster from old footage.

Turkey Arrests Journalists For Using Encryption 145

An anonymous reader sends news that three employees of Vice News were arrested in Turkey because one of them used an encryption system on his personal computer. That particular type of encryption has been used by the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State, so the men were charged with "engaging in terrorist activity." The head of a local lawyers association said, "I find it ridiculous that they were taken into custody. I don't believe there is any accuracy to what they are charged for. To me, it seems like an attempt by the government to get international journalists away from the area of conflict." The Turkish government denied these claims: "This is an unpleasant incident, but the judiciary is moving forward with the investigation independently and, contrary to claims, the government has no role in the proceedings."

Lights, Camera, Experiment! 14

theodp writes: The New Yorker's Jamie Holmes takes a look at How Methods Videos Are Making Science Smarter, helping scientists replicate elaborate experiments in a way that the text format of traditional journals simply can't. The Journal of Visualized Experiments (JOVE), for instance, is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that now has a database of more than four thousand videos that are usually between ten and fifteen minutes long, ranging in subject from biology and chemistry to neuroscience and medicine. "Complexity was always an issue," JOVE co-founder, Moshe Pritsker explains. "Even when biology was a much smaller enterprise, it relied on a degree of specialized craft in the laboratory. But, since the end of the nineties, we've seen a huge influx of new technologies into biology: genomics, proteomics, technologies like microarrays, complex genetic methods, and sophisticated microscopy and imaging techniques." And, as the popularity of the decidedly non-peer reviewed Crazy Russian Hacker's YouTube videos shows, methods videos aren't just for research scientists.
The Internet

Another Wave of Publications Shut Down Online Comments 226

AmiMoJo writes: The debate about comment sections on news sites is often as divisive as the comments themselves. Recently outlets such as The Verge and The Daily Dot have closed their comments sections because they've become too hard to manage. And they're far from alone. Moderating comments is a full-time job (or several full-time jobs) at many news organisations. Nicholas White, editor at The Daily Dot, noted that "in our experience, our community hasn't evolved in our comments. It's evolved in our social media accounts. To have comments, you have to be very active, and if you're not incredibly active, what ends up happening is a mob can shout down all the other people on your site. In an environment that isn't heavily curated it becomes about silencing voices and not about opening up voices."

Riese, co-founder and editor-in-chief of LGBT site Autostraddle, adds, "I completely understand why The Daily Dot wouldn't want to have comments — or in fact why most websites wouldn't want to have comments. I think 75% of the time they're more trouble than they're worth, and for us it's still a lot of work to keep up on. Not all of our users are necessarily on Facebook or are out as gay on Facebook, or are comfortable talking about queer stuff on Facebook. We keep comments on the site which is a safe space for people to exchange ideas — and that's a big factor for us."

CNN and CBC Sued For Pirating YouTube Video 222

vivaoporto sends word that in a rare case of an individual taking on large corporations for copyright infrigement, a New York man has sued news networks CNN and CBC after they took a video of his from YouTube and broadcast it on the air without licensing it. His video shows a winter storm in Buffalo generating huge amounts of lake effect snow. The man, Alfonzo Cutaia, decided to enable monetization on his video, selecting the "Standard YouTube License," "a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of [the video]. All other rights are reserved to the copyright owner and standard copyright laws and exceptions apply." Cutaia says the CBC used his video with their logo on it. The CBC confirmed this, and said they received a 10-day license from CNN, who had no legal right to do so. His lawsuit now accuses them both of "intentional and willful" copyright infringement.

YouTube Is Adding VR Video Support To Streaming Videos 23

An anonymous reader writes: While YouTube's streaming platform currently supports 3D videos OR 360 degree videos, the combination of the two is essential for properly immersive virtual reality video. Fortunately, the company has announced that they'll soon enable support for 3D + 360 degree videos, bringing more immersive VR video capability to the platform. Currently, 360 degree YouTube videos can be viewed through desktop web browsers and on the YouTube Android and iOS apps, with the Android app being the only one of the bunch currently providing a side-by-side view for VR viewers like Google's Cardboard.
The Media

Making FOIA-Requested Data Public: Too Much Transparency For Journalists? 139

schwit1 writes: From The Washington Post's Lisa Rein comes news that the federal government is launching a six-month pilot program with seven agencies to post online documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act. That means that information requested (whether by a journalist, nonprofit group or corporation) asks for the records under FOIA, it's not the just the requester who will get to see the results, but also the public at large. What's the problem with that? For journalists whose province is the scoop, it could mean less incentive to go through the process of asking for the record in the first place. Washington Post Investigations Editor Jeff Leen says in the story that public posting could therefore "affect long-term investigations built on a number of FOIA requests over time." An excerpt offers a similar defense of documents being released only to the requesting party: "FOIA terrorist" Jason Leopold has big issues with the approach. "It would absolutely hurt journalists' ability to report on documents they obtained through a FOIA request if the government agency is going to immediately make records available to the public," writes the Vice News reporter via e-mail. Leopold has already experienced the burn of joint release, he says, after requesting information on Guantanamo Bay. The documents were posted on the U.S. Southern Command's Web site. "I lost the ability to exclusively report on the material even though I put in all of the work filing the requests," he notes. Another reason FOIA requesters might be annoyed by a general-release policy: filing FOIA requests isn't free.