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Comment: Happened to us too (Score 3, Interesting) 133

by mattbee (#45873829) Attached to: UK Company Successfully Claims Ownership of "Pinterest" Trademark

A US startup called "Bytemark" started trading in the UK (my hosting company has been around since 2002). Like an idiot I asked them to please change their name because it could cause some confusion. Until then I'd not considered trademark issues, and we finally filed for a trademark of our own. Of course they filed 2 weeks before us, after I'd sent my polite request. So 2 years and about £20,000 later (only finished just last month) we defeated their objection to our trademark at a hearing, and the trademark office gave us full rights over the name. If it hadn't gone that way we could have been harassed into changing our 10-year old brand name, especially if we'd gone into any new areas of business.

My takeaway from that is that if I start another business I'll take on registration of the UK, EU & possibly US trademark as a given before launching. But when you're just starting out, it is (at best) thousands of pounds that could really be put to better use.

Privacy

Swarm Mobile's Offer: Free Wi-Fi In Exchange For Some Privacy 121

Posted by timothy
from the tradeoffs-tradeoffs dept.
cagraham writes "Startup Swarm Mobile intends to help physical retailers counter online shopping habits by collecting data on their customer's actions. Swarm's platform integrates with store's Wifi networks in order to monitor what exactly customers are doing while shopping. In exchange for collecting analytics, shoppers get access to free internet. Swarm then send reports to the store owners, detailing how many customers checked prices online, or compared rival products on their phones. Their platform also allows stores to directly send discount codes or coupons to shopper's phones."
Network

Researcher Shows How GPUs Make Terrific Network Monitors 67

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-an-eye-on-things dept.
alphadogg writes "A network researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has found a potential new use for graphics processing units — capturing data about network traffic in real time. GPU-based network monitors could be uniquely qualified to keep pace with all the traffic flowing through networks running at 10Gbps or more, said Fermilab's Wenji Wu. Wenji presented his work as part of a poster series of new research at the SC 2013 supercomputing conference this week in Denver."

Comment: Amazon's competitors still leaving an open goal (Score 1) 258

by mattbee (#45251847) Attached to: Why Amazon Is Profitless Only By Choice

So here are two experiences that made me think "screw this, I wish I'd shopped at Amazon". This may just be a UK-specfic experience, but...

1) Samsung Series 9 laptop from PC World, bought from their store in April, came with Windows 8 drivers (I think) that just never worked. Mouse pointer jerking around, it blue-screened within 5 minutes on one boot out of every two. I updated its drivers through Windows, through the Samsung driver update utility ... just hopeless. I tried to use it for about a month, trying to avoid reboots, but eventually gave up and took it back to the shop. Their nice assistant agreed it looked screwed, took it back, and after two phone calls their support people said that because I hadn't made a restore disc, they couldn't / wouldn't do anything with it, and it must have been my negligence that broke it. I am taking them to court for the £900 purchase price to get a refund, after I'd bought a different model ... at Amazon.

2) Bought a £150 model helicopter for a member of staff as a leaving present from Maplin (big electronics component & gadget store), to be delivered to his house. They make a picking error and deliver a completely different, much cheaper product. I call them and say, hey, you've made a mistake would you mind delivering the correct item. No. I must go over to the recipient's house, pick the item up, drive it to the store before they will acknowledge their mistake and get me what I ordered. They generously offer a freepost address for me to send the item back, but I must be sure to go to the post office and get a certificate of dispatch! [if you've never been to England this generally involves driving into town, queuing, finding it closed for lunch etc.]

I know from for 1) Amazon would take the item back without question, and I'd be confident enough ordering a replacement on the same day, giving me what I want sooner. And for 2) again, I know they would send the right item out without question and tell me to keep the mistake, it's nor worth the restocking fees.

So whenever I hear "Amazon driving retailers out of business" what I really hear is "Amazon showing how it's done by treating customers as honest & impatient, competitors continue to fuck it up". Amazon aren't even the cheapest, or even the easiest web site to find what you want, but I do know that they care about customers getting what they want quickly, and often that's why I'll pay a bit more.

Is this unfair to ALL OTHER retailers? Am I forgetting some intangible Amazon magic here?

Advertising

Racism In Online Ad Targeting 474

Posted by Soulskill
from the perhaps-profiling-is-a-better-name dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Most of us are familiar with advertisements in online web searching, and by now we've grown accustomed to scrolling past the 'sponsored' results to get to the real responses to our query. And we know the ads are context-sensitive; for example, searching for our favorite Federation Starship will bring up ads for a similarly-named car-rental agency. But now a Harvard University professor has found a more disturbing trend in those contextual ads: racism. 'Sweeney says she has evidence that black identifying names are up to 25 per cent more likely to be served with an arrest-related ad. "There is discrimination in delivery of these ads," she concludes. Sweeney gathered this evidence by collecting over 2000 names that were suggestive of race. For example, first names such as Trevon, Lakisha and Darnell suggest the owner is black while names like Laurie, Brendan and Katie suggest the owner is white. She then entered these plus surnames into Google.com and Reuters.com and examined the ads they returned. Most names generated ads for public records. However, black-identifying names turned out to be much more likely than white-identifying names to generate ads that including the word "arrest" (60 per cent versus 48 per cent).'"
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Keeping Your Media Library Safe From Kids? 307

Posted by timothy
from the sound-of-eyes-getting-really-big dept.
Serenissima writes "I've spent many hours building my Media Library in XBMC and scraping all the DVD Covers and Fanart. And I love it, I can pull up movies on any computer or device in the house. I played a movie for my son the other day so I could get some cleaning done without him being underfoot. I noticed shortly after that the sound coming from the other room was from a different movie than I played for him. I snuck up and watched for a few minutes and saw him use a trackpad to navigate to the stop and play buttons of different movies in his folder. I know it's only a matter of time before he realizes he can see all of the movies. I don't want him to have nightmares because he saw the T-1000 stab someone in the face. The quickest solution I can think is a screen saver with a password. It's mildly inconvenient to me, but would stop him from accessing anything. However, I remember how much more I knew about computers than my parents when I was a kid, and I have a feeling he's going to surprise me one day. There's a lot of ways out there to stop it, the way we do it now is to not let him watch anything unless we're there (but there are only so many times I can watch the same kid's movie). How do YOU guys find yourself dealing with the convenience of running your own server while keeping your media safe from prying eyes?"

Comment: In the UK, debt collection is pretty easy (Score 3, Informative) 341

by mattbee (#42307983) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Collect Payments From a Multinational Company?

Step 1, send an invoice with clear payment terms.

Step 2, send one polite reminder maybe 7 days after the due date.

Step 3, send a Letter Before Action, with a further 7 day deadline (use a firm like thomashiggins.com to turn the legal wheels very cheaply)

Step 4, file a claim in the small claims court (again, thomashiggins.com are very good for this). It may take weeks but you can add interest and all the costs you've incurred.

The few times I've done this (as a consumer) the company has coughed up at some point just before or just after the court papers have gone in. For a truly hopelessly disorganised company this is the only escalation method that works.

The furthest it ever got was with Enterprise car rentals - I had a bailiff threaten to tow one of their vehicles before they would write a cheque.

This is all advice for uncontested debts - obviously if the company has a problem with the debt they may choose to represent themselves and argue the point, but if they were going to do that, they'd probably have engaged you first!

Communications

ITU To Choose Emergency Line For Mobiles: 911, or 112? 354

Posted by timothy
from the what-and-invalidate-a-generation-of-rap-lyrics? dept.
First time accepted submitter maijc writes "The International Telecommunication Union will determine the standard emergency phone numbers for new generations of mobile phones and other devices. AP reports that member states have agreed that either 911 or 112 should be designated as emergency phone numbers. 911 is currently used in North America, while 112 is standard across the EU and in many other countries worldwide."
AI

Mannequins That Watch Shoppers 97

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the feel-my-stare dept.
SternisheFan writes with news of a creepy mannequin that watches you as you shop. From the article: "Benetton Group SpA is among fashion brands deploying mannequins equipped with technology used to identify criminals at airports to watch over shoppers in their stores. Retailers are introducing the EyeSee ... The 4,000-euro ($5,072) device has spurred shops to adjust window displays, store layouts and promotions to keep consumers walking in the door and spending. The EyeSee looks ordinary enough on the outside ... Inside, it's no dummy. A camera embedded in one eye feeds data into facial-recognition software like that used by police. It logs the age, gender, and race of passers-by. Demand for the device shows how retailers are turning to technology to help personalize their offers as growth slows in the $245 billion luxury goods industry. Bain & Co. predicts the luxury market will expand 5 percent in 2012, less than half last year's rate. 'It's a changing landscape but we're always going to be sensitive about respecting the customer's boundaries,' said spokesman Colin Johnson. ... Since the EyeSee doesn't store any images, retailers can use it as long as they have a closed-circuit television license."

Comment: Openstack is developed to smell like AWS (Score 1) 42

by mattbee (#41901381) Attached to: Cloud Computing Needs To Embrace the Linux Model, Says Rackspace CTO

The "everyone should run our open (tm) software" plea. I'm not falling for it. No customer is demanding "cloud portability" because customers don't want to change ISP, ever. I just don't think portability of whole VM networks will ever be feasible on a technical level. Even if you could shuffle IPv4 addresses and masses of data around the whole internet between providers without down time, there's no incentive for ISPs to cooperate, or willingly turn themselves into a cheaper sub-brand of Rackspace. It would instantly put them at a competitive disadvantage. Your entire business model controlled by a competitor? You can go to Parallels for that; their software works out of the box, it will gladly migrate ISPs for you, and the per-customer fees are reasonable!

The customers who have sussed cloud portability already have it through tools like puppet, rigid version control, or a tightly-specced development environment supported by lots of ISPs (PHP, Java, .net - ish). The customers that don't have a portable setup won't magically get it through an "open" hosting API, they will be lashed to their current provider as they always have been.

Comment: Re:Angry Birds (Score 1) 368

by mattbee (#41792337) Attached to: Wired Proclaims the Death of the Game Console

However, the basic gameplay mechanics are just so-so. It's just a physics simulation. The real problem is that there is such a massive luck factor involved. For example, when someone beats a difficult "level", what is the chance that they can actually reproduce their success in the exact same way? Pretty much impossible.

I think this just is the definition of a game you suck at ;-) And I think the reason it's successful isn't that it's luck based at all - sure you experiment, you learn, but eventually you succeed at clearing a level, and a skilled played _can_ repeat their performance. It's not unpredictable, but you do need skill. I bet 1980s-you would have liked it. It's like a streamlined Lemmings. It's definitely a classic, and apart from the reliance on touch screen, not a modern game design at all.

If you want to grumble about an evil modern game design, look at Jetpack fucking Joyride. It's skill-based, but makes the absolute minimum actual game in favour of a zillion metagames designed to bore you into "buying" progress. THAT is Satan's gaming, designed to be addictive, shallow and will take a few dollars off you as it goes. I'm sure there are worse examples.

Comment: Re:What is the ARM bringing? (Score 1) 230

by mattbee (#41699533) Attached to: ARM-Based Chromebooks Ready To Battle Windows 8, Tablets

Yeah sorry I spotted the disparity too late. It's an ASUS 1025CE which has a spec of 1GB RAM and 320GB HDD, for £320. It's upgradeable to 4GB RAM, but because they forgot to cut a whole in the underneath, you have to take the bastard thing apart. The SSD was an Intel 80GB I had spare which I think goes for about £70-80 these days.

Linux i386 installs fine, but the "Cedar View" Intel graphics drivers are still hard to find packaged. The rest of the hardware worked with Ubuntu 12.04 just fine though.

Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly. -- Henry Spencer

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