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The Almighty Buck

Leased LEDs and Energy Service Contracts can Cut Electric Bills (Video) 50 50

I first heard of Consumer Energy Solutions from a non-profit's IT guy who was boasting about how he got them to lease him LED bulbs for their parking lot and the security lights at their equipment lot -- pretty much all their outdoor lighting -- for a lot less than their monthly savings on electricity from replacing most of their Halogen, fluorescent, and other less-efficient lights with LEDs. What made this a big deal to my friend was that no front money was required. It's one thing to tell a town council or non-profit board, "If we spend $180,000 on LEDs we'll save it all back in five years" (or whatever). It's another thing to say, "We can lease LEDs for all our outdoor lighting for $4,000 per month and save $8,000 on electricity right away." That gets officials to prick up their ears in a hurry.Then there are energy service contracts, essentially buying electricity one, two or three years in advance. This business got a bad name from Enron and their energy wholesaling business, but despite that single big blast of negative publicity, it grows a little each year. And the LED lease business? In many areas, governments and utility companies actually subsidize purchases of anything that cuts electricity use. Totally worth checking out.

But why, you might ask, is this on Slashdot? Because some of our readers own stacks of servers (or work for companies that own stacks of servers) and need to know they don't have to pay whatever their local electric utility demands, but can shop for better electricity prices in today's deregulated electricity market. And while this conversation was with one person in this business, we are not pushing his company. As interviewee Patrick Clouden says at the end of the interview, it's a competitive business. So if you want the best deal, you'd better shop around. One more thing: the deregulated utility market, with its multitude of suppliers, peak and off-peak pricing, and (often) minute-by-minute price changes, takes excellent software (possibly written by someone like you) to negotiate, so this business niche might be one an entrepreneurial software developer should explore.
Businesses

MasterCard To Approve Online Payments Using Your Selfies 74 74

An anonymous reader writes: MasterCard is experimenting with a new program: approving online purchases with a facial scan. Once you’re done shopping online, instead of a password, the service will require you to snap a photo of your face, so you won’t have to worry about remembering a password. The Stack reports: "MasterCard will be joining forces with tech leaders Apple, BlackBerry, Google, Samsung and Microsoft as well as two major banks to help make the feature a reality. Currently the international group uses a SecureCode solution which requires a password from its customers at checkout. The system was used across 3 billion transactions last year, the company said. It is now exploring biometric alternatives to protect against unauthorized payment card transactions. Customers trialling the new technologies are required to download the MasterCard app onto their smart device. At checkout two authorization steps will be taken; fingerprint recognition and facial identification using the device's camera. The system will check for blinking to avoid criminals simply holding a photograph up to the lens."
Google

Google: Stop Making Apps! (A Love Letter) 109 109

An anonymous reader writes: Seasoned Silicon Valley software executive and investor Domenic Merenda has written a love letter to Google, and it's filled with "tough" love. The main thesis is that Google, as a company, should stop making apps, and instead focus on using its enormous data assets to make meaningful connections between people and facilitate organic engagement within a rich ecosystem. Interestingly, the article cites Wikipedia's information that Google maintains over 70 apps on the Android platform alone.
Security

Angler Exploit Kit Evasion Techniques Keep Cryptowall Thriving 36 36

msm1267 writes: Since the Angler Exploit Kit began pushing the latest version of Cryptowall ransomware, the kit has gone to great lengths to evade detection from IDS and other security technologies. The latest tactic is an almost-daily change to URL patterns used by the kit in HTTP GET requests for the Angler landing page, requests for a Flash exploit, and requests for the Cryptowall 3.0 payload. Traffic patterns as of yesterday are almost unrecognizable compared to those of as recent as three weeks ago.
Programming

Watching People Code Is Becoming an (Even Bigger) Thing 134 134

itwbennett writes: Faithful Slashdot readers may recall the story of Adam Wulf, who spent two weeks live-streaming himself writing a mobile app. The phenomenon has quickly become thing, by which we mean a business. Twitch.TV, Watch People Code (which is an offshoot of the subreddit by the same name), Ludum Dare, and, of course, YouTube, are bursting with live or archived streams of lots of people writing lots of code for lots of different things. And just this week, Y Combinator-backed startup Livecoding.TV launched. The site has signed up 40,000 users since its beta went live in February, but unlike the other sites in this space what it doesn't have (and doesn't have plans for) is advertising. As co-founder Jamie Green told ITworld: 'We have some different ideas around monetisation in the pipeline, but for now we are just focussed on building a community around live education.'
Businesses

Exploring the Relationships Between Tech Skills (Visualization) 64 64

Nerval's Lobster writes: Simon Hughes, Dice's Chief Data Scientist, has put together an experimental visualization that explores how tech skills relate to one another. In the visualization, every circle or node represents a particular skill; colors designate communities that coalesce around skills. Try clicking "Java", for example, and notice how many other skills accompany it (a high-degree node, as graph theory would call it). As a popular skill, it appears to be present in many communities: Big Data, Oracle Database, System Administration, Automation/Testing, and (of course) Web and Software Development. You may or may not agree with some relationships, but keep in mind, it was all generated in an automatic way by computer code, untouched by a human. Building it started with Gephi, an open-source network analysis and visualization software package, by importing a pair-wise comma-separated list of skills and their similarity scores (as Simon describes in his article) and running a number of analyses: Force Atlas layout to draw a force-directed graph, Avg. Path Length to calculate the Betweenness Centrality that determines the size of a node, and finally Modularity to detect communities of skills (again, color-coded in the visualization). The graph was then exported as an XML graph file (GEXF) and converted to JSON format with two sets of elements: Nodes and Links. "We would love to hear your feedback and questions," Simon says.
Businesses

Depression: The Secret Struggle Startup Founders Won't Talk About 178 178

mattydread23 writes: In May, Cambrian Genomics CEO Austen Heinz committed suicide. The news stunned friends and family, and sparked a conversation about the growing problem of depression among startup founders. Some estimates say 30% of startup founders suffer from depression, but many are reluctant to talk about their struggle for fear of alienating investors and employees. This feature by Business Insider includes conversations with a friend of Heinz, plus many investors and other startup founders who are starting to talk about the problem and figure out how to make things better.
Education

Struggling University of Phoenix Lays Off 900 132 132

An anonymous reader writes: The struggles facing for-profit colleges continue. The University of Phoenix announced poor quarterly earnings yesterday, and the institution has laid off 900 workers since September. Enrollment is down 14% since last year, and the CEO of its parent company, Apollo Education Group, says enrollment is likely to drop from 206,000 to about 150,000 next year. Apollo's stock has lost more than half its value since the beginning of the year. "Tighter regulations on for-profits and the Obama administration's push to make community college free top the list of headwinds. And non-profit universities have entered the online education space, where for-profit schools once held center stage."
News

Analysis: Iran's Nuclear Program Has Been an Astronomical Waste 389 389

Lasrick writes: Business Insider's Armin Rosen uses a fuel-cost calculator from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to show that Iran's nuclear program has been "astronomically costly" for the country. Rosen uses calculations from this tool to hypothesize that what Iran "interprets as the country's 'rights' under the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty is a diplomatic victory that justifies the outrageous expense of the nuclear program." Great data crunching.
The Courts

Apple Loses Ebook Price Fixing Appeal, Must Pay $450 Million 97 97

An anonymous reader writes: A federal appeals court ruled 2-1 today that Apple indeed conspired with publishers to increase ebook prices. The ruling puts Apple on the hook for the $450 million settlement reached in 2014 with lawyers and attorneys general from 33 states. The Justice Dept. contended that the price-fixing conspiracy raised the price of some e-books from the $10 standard set by Amazon to $13-$15. The one dissenting judge argued that Apple's efforts weren't anti-competitive because Amazon held 90% of the market at the time. Apple is unhappy with the ruling, but they haven't announced plans to take the case further. They said, "While we want to put this behind us, the case is about principles and values. We know we did nothing wrong back in 2010 and are assessing next steps."
Government

White House Lures Mudge From Google To Launch Cyber UL 23 23

chicksdaddy writes: The Obama Whitehouse has tapped famed hacker Peiter Zatko (aka "Mudge") to head up a new project aimed at developing an "underwriters' lab" for cyber security. The new organization would function as an independent, non-profit entity designed to assess the security strengths and weaknesses of products and publishing the results of its tests.

Zatko is a famed hacker and security luminary, who cut his teeth with the Boston-based hacker collective The L0pht in the 1990s before moving on to work in private industry and, then, to become a program manager at the DARPA in 2010. Though known for keeping a low profile, his scruffy visage (circa 1998) graced the pages of the Washington Post in a recent piece that remembered testimony that Mudge and other L0pht members gave to Congress about the dangers posed by insecure software.
Microsoft

Microsoft To Sell Bing Maps, Advertising Sections 61 61

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.
Earth

Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Empty Toner Cartridges? 189 189

New submitter MoarSauce123 writes: Over time I accumulated a number of empty toner cartridges for a Brother laser printer. Initially, I wanted to take a local office supply chain store up on their offer to give me store credit for the returned cartridge. For that credit to be issued I would have to sign up for their store card providing a bunch of personal information. The credit is so lousy that after the deduction from the sales price of a new toner cartridge the price is still much higher than from a large online retailer. And the credit only applies to one new cartridge, so I cannot keep collecting the credit and then get a cartridge 'for free' at some point.

I also looked into a local store of a toner refill chain. Their prices are a bit better, but the closest store is about half an hour away with rather odd business hours. Still, at the end they charge more than the large online retailer asks for a brand new cartridge. For now I bring the empty cartridges to the big office supply store and tell them that I do not want their dumb store credit. I rather have big corp make some bucks on me than throw these things in the trash and have it go to a landfill. Are there any better options? Anything from donating it to charity to refilling myself is of interest.
Businesses

Cisco To Acquire OpenDNS 147 147

New submitter Tokolosh writes: Both Cisco and OpenDNS announced today that the former is to acquire the latter. From the Cisco announcement: "To build on Cisco's advanced threat protection capabilities, we plan to continue to innovate a cloud delivered Security platform integrating OpenDNS' key capabilities to accelerate that work. Over time, we will look to unite our cloud-delivered solutions, enhancing Cisco's advanced threat protection capabilities across the full attack continuum—before, during and after an attack." With Cisco well-embedded with the US security apparatus (NSA, CIA, FBI, etc.) is it time to seek out alternatives to OpenDNS?
The Courts

8 Yelp Reviewers Hit With $1.2 Million Defamation Suits 210 210

New submitter goodboi writes: A Silicon Valley building contractor is suing 8 of its critics over the reviews they posted on Yelp. The negative reviews were filtered out by Yelp's secretive ranking system, but in court documents filed earlier this month, Link Corporation claims that the bad publicity cost over $165,000 in lost business.
Businesses

The Programmer's Path To Management 125 125

snydeq writes: The transition from command line to line-of-command requires a new mind-set — and a thick skin, writes InfoWorld's Paul Heltzel in a tips-based article aimed at programmers interested in breaking into management. "Talented engineers may see managing a team as the next step to growing their careers. So if you're moving in this direction, what tools do you need to make the transition? We'll look at some possible approaches, common pitfalls — and offer solutions."
Privacy

When a Company Gets Sold, Your Data May Be Sold, Too 92 92

An anonymous reader writes: A new report points out that many of the top internet sites have language in their privacy policies saying that your private data might be transferred in the event of an acquisition, bankruptcy sale, or other transaction. They effectively say, "We won't ever sell your information, unless things go bad for us." 85 of the top 100 websites in the U.S. (ranked by Alexa), had this sort of language, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Hulu, and LinkedIn. (RadioShack did this recently.) "The potential ramifications of the fire sale provisions became clear two years ago when True.com, a dating site based in Plano, Tex., that was going through a bankruptcy proceeding, tried to sell its customer database on 43 million members to a dating site based in Canada. The profiles included consumers' names, birth dates, sexual orientation, race, religion, criminal convictions, photos, videos, contact information and more. Because the site's privacy policy had promised never to sell or share members' personal details without their permission, Texas was able to intervene to stop the sale of customer data, including intimate details on about two million Texans." But with this new language, users no longer enjoy that sort of protection. Only 17 of the top 100 sites even say they will notify customers of the data transfer. Only a handful allow users to opt out.
Advertising

How Television Is Fighting Off the Internet 194 194

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."
Microsoft

Samsung To Stop Blocking Automatic Windows Updates 23 23

A few days ago, we mentioned that a piece of (nominally) utility software from Samsung was blocking critical security updates. Understandably, this isn't what users typically want. The Register reports that Samsung has now back-pedaled, though, and will be issuing a patch in the next few days to fix the glitch. (Users were able to manually install the updates anyhow, but the expected, automatic updates were blocked.) However, as the Register notes: The thought of a computer manufacturer disabling Windows Update will have had the Microsoft security team on edge. But there's also Windows 10 to consider. When the new operating system comes out, Windows Update will feed in fixes continuously, and if you're not a business customer those updates are going to be coming over the wires constantly. Enterprise users get Windows Update for Business, which allows them to choose when to patch, presumably after the plebs have beta-tested them.
The Almighty Buck

Philanthropy For Hackers 27 27

An anonymous reader writes: Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster and the first president of Facebook, was part of a generation of geeks who rode the dot-com boom to financial success. Over the past two decades, that population has dramatically increased, and former hackers are carving out spots as leaders of industry. In the Wall Street Journal, Parker has posted advice for how the hacker elite can approach philanthropy. He points out that they're already bringing a level of strategy and efficacy to charity work that hasn't been seen before. "These budding philanthropists want metrics and analytic tools comparable to the dashboards, like Mixpanel, that power their software products. They want to interact directly with the scientists, field workers and academics whose ideas power the philanthropic world but who have traditionally been hidden away in a backroom somewhere, shielded from their beneficiaries by so-called development officers." One thing he advises is keeping away from large charity organizations, which largely exist to keep themselves going. He also suggests getting actively involved with the political process, even if such organizations are often distasteful.