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Microsoft

Microsoft To Sell Bing Maps, Advertising Sections 37 37

UnknowingFool writes: Microsoft has announced that they will sell some Bing Maps technology to Uber and their advertising business to AOL. About 1,300 employees are expected to be offered positions in their new companies. CEO Nadella said previously that there would be "tough choices" to be made. Some outside analysts have said neither venture was very profitable for Microsoft and may have been unprofitable at times.
Advertising

How Television Is Fighting Off the Internet 190 190

HughPickens.com writes: Michael Wolff writes in the NY Times that online-media revolutionaries once figured they could eat TV's lunch by stealing TV's business model with free content supported by advertising. But online media is now drowning in free, and internet traffic has glutted the ad market, forcing down rates. Digital publishers, from The Guardian to BuzzFeed, can stay ahead only by chasing more traffic — not loyal readers, but millions of passing eyeballs, so fleeting that advertisers naturally pay less and less for them. Meanwhile, the television industry has been steadily weaning itself off advertising — like an addict in recovery, starting a new life built on fees from cable providers and all those monthly credit-card debits from consumers. Today, half of broadcast and cable's income is non-advertising based. And since adult household members pay the cable bills, TV content has to be grown-up content: "The Sopranos," "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad," "The Wire," "The Good Wife."

So how did this tired, postwar technology seize back the crown? Television, not digital media, is mastering the model of the future: Make 'em pay. And the corollary: Make a product that they'll pay for. BuzzFeed has only its traffic to sell — and can only sell it once. Television shows can be sold again and again, with streaming now a third leg to broadcast and cable, offering a vast new market for licensing and syndication. Television is colonizing the Internet and people still spend more time watching television than they do on the Internet and more time on the Internet watching television. "The fundamental recipe for media success, in other words, is the same as it used to be," concludes Wolff, "a premium product that people pay attention to and pay money for. Credit cards, not eyeballs."
Advertising

Google Will Reduce Accidental Mobile Ad Clicks, With Mandatory Borders and More 70 70

Mark Wilson submits news that Google is throwing a bone to mobile users annoyed by ads that (accidentally, or accidentally-on-purpose) make it too easy to accidentally click, breaking your browsing flow, by making those ads a bit less clickable. Writes Beta News: The company is taking steps to make the 'user experience' of ads a little better. It recognizes that advertisements that get clicked accidentally don't benefit anybody. They end up irritating the clicker, and are unlikely to be of value to the company that placed the ad. With around half of ad clicks being made by mistake, Google is now taking steps to stop this from happening — great news for users advertisers alike. In all, Google is making three key changes to ads that appear on smartphones and tablets, starting off by adding an unclickable border to the outer edges of advertisements.
SourceForge

SourceForge Suspends Independent Project Mirroring 124 124

vivaoporto writes: In a reversal motivated by community concerns (like the high profile outcry over the distribution of an ads-enabled installer for GIMP and the accusation by Fyodor of the hijacking of the nmap SourceForge project), SourceForge has discontinued third-party bundling of mirrored content.

Along with that, as of June 18th, SourceForge started "removing SourceForge-maintained mirrored projects" and engaging their "newly-formed Community Panel to discuss site features and program policies including a redesigned mirror program." Of the 295 mirrored projects, they removed all that were "not co-maintained with one or more of the original developers, except where the upstream site has been discontinued." For those wanting to reach SourceForge for some constructive feedback, they point to the recently-established Community Voice forum.
Note: SourceForge and Slashdot share a corporate overlord.
Advertising

Adblock Plus Can Now Be Rolled Out To Every Single Employee In a Company 126 126

New submitter Mickeycaskill writes: Adblock Plus adds large scale deployment (LSD) to version 1.9 of its software, allowing IT managers to block adverts on thousands of computers in one go, months after a German court ruled the practice was legal. The move is likely to concern online publishers who rely on advertising to generate revenue.
The Media

Pirate Party Founder Rick Falkvinge Launches News Service 66 66

New submitter lillgud writes: Rick Falkvinge, founder of the first Pirate Party, has unveiled a news service to compete against "oldmedia." The news stories will be three sentences in length, and distributed within shareable images. Falkvinge says this obviates certain parts of the industry — for example, there will be no need for clickbait headlines, because there's nothing to click on. The business model is based around advertising, but those ads will simply be a watermark on the image. Thus, no worries about adblock, and no concerns about ad networks collecting information from users. The service is targeted to be operational in Q3. Each writer will be paid in accordance to a revenue sharing model, and Falkvinge's goal is for each part-time writer to receive €125/month in exchange for four stories (12 sentences).
Communications

FCC Nixes PayPal's Forced Robocalls Plan 122 122

jfruh writes: As part of a new user agreement created in preparation for its spinoff from eBay as an independent company, PayPal told users that the only way to avoid advertising robocalls from PayPal and its 'partners' was to stop using the service. This caused something of a firestorm, and now the FCC is saying the policy may violate Federal law, which requires an explicit opt-in to receive such messages.
Software

Face Recognition Tech Pushes Legal Boundaries 110 110

An anonymous reader writes: As face recognition software becomes more capable, companies and governments are coming up with new ways to use it. Microsoft has already patented a Minority Report-style personalized billboard, and loss prevention departments in big stores are rolling out systems to "pre-identify" shoplifters. But this rush to implement the technology runs afoul of privacy laws in at least two U.S. states: Illinois and Texas forbid the use of face recognition software without "informed consent" from the target. Facebook is the target of a recent lawsuit in Illinois over this exact issue; it's likely to test the strength of such a law. "Facebook and Google use facial recognition to detect when a user appears in a photograph and to suggest that he or she be tagged. Facebook calls this "Tag Suggestions" ... With the boom in personalized advertising technology, a facial recognition database of its users is likely very, very valuable to Facebook. ... Eager to extract that value, Facebook signed users up by default when it introduced Tag Suggestions in 2011. This meant that Facebook calculated faceprints for every user who didn't take the steps to opt out." If Facebook loses and citizens start pushing for similar laws in other states, it could keep our activities in public relatively anonymous for a bit longer.
Advertising

iOS 9 To Have Ad Blocking Capabilities 161 161

An anonymous reader writes: iOS 9 will reportedly carry ad blocking capabilities for it's Safari browser when it is released later this year. The feature wasn't rolled out with the usual fanfare one might expect, and flew under the radar. ZDNet reports: "It's not immediately clear why the new ad-blocking privacy feature was included in iOS 9, due out later this year. After all, the iPhone and iPad maker has its own advertising network -- even if its success was limited (which is putting it nicely). What's clear is that allowing ad-blockers in iOS 9 could deliver a serious blow to Google, the biggest rival to Apple in the mobile space, because advertising remains a massive portion of the search giant's income."
Advertising

Microsoft Research Paper Considers Serving Web-ads From Localhost 231 231

An anonymous reader writes: A paper from Microsoft researchers (PDF) posits the possibility of 'pushing' web ads to a user's own computer and serving them into pre-arranged containers on web pages, with the EFF or ACLU serving as privacy mediators between the user and the advertisers who want to engage them. However the framework — dubbed 'Privad' — would need to get installed on the user's system by the same familiar means which the likes of Superfish use. The report admits that Privad would probably need to be disseminated "through adware-style software bundling, shopping discounts, toolbars or other incentives."
Music

Spotify Raises $526 Million As Apple Charges Into Streaming 72 72

An anonymous reader writes: Spotify has raised an enormous $526 million in funding to fight off Apple's new Apple Music subscription service. As part of the funding round, European carrier TeliaSonera is responsible for $115 million. The music service now has 20 million paying subscribers and 75 million monthly active users, doubling the subscriber base since May of 2014. The LA Times reports: "U.S. companies participating in the Spotify funding include Halcyon Asset Management, GSV Capital, D.E. Shaw & Co., Technology Crossover Ventures, Northzone and P. Schoenfeld Asset Management, said the person familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to comment publicly. British investment firms Baillie Gifford, Lansdowne Partners and Rinkelberg Capital, along with Canadian hedge funds Senvest Capital and Discovery Capital Management also took part. In a statement disclosing its investment, TeliaSonera said it would work with Spotify to come up with innovations in media distribution, customer insights, data analytics and advertising."
SourceForge

SourceForge Responds To nmap Maintainer's Claims 172 172

An anonymous reader writes: A few days ago, the maintainer of nmap (an open source network mapping tool) complained that SourceForge had taken over the nmap project page. SourceForge has now responded with a technical analysis of the nmap project history. They said, "We've confirmed conclusively that no changes were made to the project or data, and that all past download delivery by nmap on SourceForge was through our web hosting service where content is project-administered."

They detail the history of services used by the nmap project, and use screenshots from the Internet Archive to show how long the project was empty. SourceForge said, "The last update date in 2013 relates to the migration of the nmap project (along with all other projects on the site) from SourceForge's sfx code base to the new Apache Allura-based code base. This migration was an automated operation conducted for all projects, and this platform change did not augment data in the Project Web service or File Release System. We therefore conclude that no content has been removed from the nmap project page." They also confirmed that nmap downloads were never bundled with ads: "Infosec professionals do not generally wish to install secondary offers."
Note: SourceForge and Slashdot share a corporate overlord.
Chrome

Chrome Beta Now Automatically Pauses Less Important Flash Content 98 98

An anonymous reader writes: Google today detailed a very interesting initiative in partnership with Adobe: The two have been working to make Flash content more power-efficient in Chrome. Available now in the browser's beta channel, Chrome will use less power by simply choosing to play less Flash content on the page. Here's how the feature works: Chrome beta will automatically pause Flash content that isn't "central to the webpage" while keeping central content playing without interruption. The company offers an obvious example: Animations on the side will be paused while the video you're trying to watch will be unaffected.
Advertising

Netflix Is Experimenting With Advertising 318 318

derekmead writes: Netflix is experimenting with pre-roll and post-roll advertisements for some of its users. For now, it's just pitching it's own original programming. However, many are concerned that they plan to serve third-party ads, but the company says they have no plans to do so. They told Mashable in a statement: "We are not planning to test or implement third-party advertising on the Netflix service. For some time, we've teased Netflix originals with short trailers after a member finishes watching a show. Some members in a limited test now are seeing teases before a show begins. We test hundreds of potential improvements to the service every year. Many never extend beyond that."
SourceForge

SourceForge and GIMP [Updated] 384 384

New submitter tresf writes: In response to a Google+ post from the Gimp project claiming that "[Sourceforge] is now distributing an ads-enabled installer of GIMP," Sourceforge had this response: "In cases where a project is no longer actively being maintained, SourceForge has in some cases established a mirror of releases that are hosted elsewhere. This was done for GIMP-Win.

Submitter's note: Gimp is actively being maintained and the definition of "mirror" is quite misleading here as a modified binary is no longer a verbatim copy. Download statistics for Gimp on Windows show SourceForge as offering over 1,000 downloads per day of the Gimp software.

In an official response to this incident, the official Gimp project team reminds users to use official download methods. Slashdotters may remember the last time news like this surfaced (2013) when the Gimp team decided to move downloads from SourceForge to their own FTP service. "Therefore, we remind you again that GIMP only provides builds for Windows via its official Downloads page." Note: SourceForge and Slashdot share a corporate parent.
Editor's note: I just got back from a busy weekend to see that a bunch of people are freaking out that we're "burying" this story, so here it is. Go hog wild. Sorry it took so long. (And for future reference, user submissions are easily found in the firehose, listed in the order they appear, newest first.)

Update: 06/01 22:37 GMT by T : The SourceForge blog has a welcome update; SourceForge, it says, has effective today "stopped presenting third party offers for unmaintained SourceForge projects. ... At this time, we present third party offers only with a few projects where it is explicitly approved by the project developer, or if the project is already bundling third party offers."
Privacy

Uber Revises Privacy Policy, Wants More Data From Users 144 144

itwbennett tips news that Uber has amended its privacy policy, making it much simpler to read and understand. But the policy also includes changes to what data Uber collects about its riders. Beginning July 15th, the Uber phone app will keep track of a rider's location while it's running in the background. Uber says riders will be able to opt out of this tracking. The policy changes also allow for advertising using the rider's contact list: "for example the ability to send special offers to riders' friends or family." The revision of Uber's privacy policy followed complaints at the end of last year that the company was overstepping its bounds.
Advertising

Billboard Advertising Banned Products In Russia Hides If It Recognizes Cops 86 86

m.alessandrini writes: In response to a ban of food imported from the European Union, an Italian grocery in Russia hired an ad agency to create a billboard with a camera and facial recognition software, that's able to change to a different ad when it recognizes the uniform of Russian cops. Gizmodo reports: "With the aid of a camera and facial recognition software, the technology was slightly tweaked to instead recognize the official symbols and logos on the uniforms worn by Russian police. And as they approached the billboard featuring the advertisement for Don Giulio Salumeria’s imported Italian goods, it would automatically change to an ad for a Matryoshka doll shop instead."
Android

The Tricky Road Ahead For Android Gets Even Trickier 344 344

HughPickens.com writes: Farhad Manjoo writes in the NYT that with over one billion devices sold in 2014 Android is the most popular operating system in the world by far, but that doesn't mean it's a financial success for Google. Apple vacuumed up nearly 90 percent of the profits in the smartphone business which prompts a troubling question for Android and for Google: How will the search company — or anyone else, for that matter — ever make much money from Android. First the good news: The fact that Google does not charge for Android, and that few phone manufacturers are extracting much of a profit from Android devices, means that much of the globe now enjoys decent smartphones and online services for low prices. But while Google makes most of its revenue from advertising, Android has so far been an ad dud compared with Apple's iOS, whose users tend to have more money and spend a lot more time on their phones (and are, thus, more valuable to advertisers). Because Google pays billions to Apple to make its search engine the default search provider for iOS devices, the company collects much more from ads placed on Apple devices than from ads on Android devices.

The final threat for Google's Android may be the most pernicious: What if a significant number of the people who adopted Android as their first smartphone move on to something else as they become power users? In Apple's last two earnings calls, Tim Cook reported that the "majority" of those who switched to iPhone had owned a smartphone running Android. Apple has not specified the rate of switching, but a survey found that 16 percent of people who bought the latest iPhones previously owned Android devices; in China, that rate was 29 percent. For Google, this may not be terrible news in the short run. If Google already makes more from ads on iOS than Android, growth in iOS might actually be good for Google's bottom line. Still, in the long run, the rise of Android switching sets up a terrible path for Google — losing the high-end of the smartphone market to the iPhone, while the low end is under greater threat from noncooperative Android players like Cyanogen which has a chance to snag as many as 1 billion handsets. Android has always been a tricky strategy concludes Manjoo; now, after finding huge success, it seems only to be getting even trickier.
The Courts

Adblock Plus Victorious Again In Court 321 321

New submitter Xochil writes: AdBlock Plus has successfully defended itself in court for the second time in five weeks. The Munich Regional Court ruled against media companies ProSiebenSat1 and IP Deutschland. The companies sued Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus, asking the court to ban the distribution of the free ad-blocking software, saying it hurts their ad-based business model. An Eyeo release says in part: "We are elated at the decision reached today by the Munich court, which is another win for every internet user. It confirms each individual’s right to block annoying ads, protect their privacy and, by extension, determine his or her own internet experience. This time it also confirms the legitimacy of our Acceptable Ads initiative as a compromise in the often contentious and rarely progressive world of online advertising."
Firefox

Ads Based On Browsing History Are Coming To All Firefox Users 531 531

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla has announced plans to launch a feature called "Suggested Tiles," which will provide sponsored recommendations to visit certain websites when other websites show up in the user's new tab page. The tiles will begin to show up for beta channel users next week, and the company is asking for feedback. For testing purposes, users will only see Suggested Tiles "promoting Firefox for Android, Firefox Marketplace, and other Mozilla causes." It's not yet known what websites will show up on the tiles when the feature launches later this summer. The company says, "With Suggested Tiles, we want to show the world that it is possible to do relevant advertising and content recommendations while still respecting users’ privacy and giving them control over their data."