Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
The Courts

California Overturns Uber's Appeal: Its Drivers Are Employees, Not Contractors 367

An anonymous reader writes: Uber's third attempt to overturn a California court ruling stating that its drivers are employees and not contractors has ended in failure, with the appeal dismissed by the California Employment Development Department (EDD). The California Labor Commission ruled in June on the matter, and in a later appeal one judge effectively decided that the difference between 'firing' a driver and deactivating their account is purely semantic.
Businesses

The Internet's Network Efficiencies Are Destroying the Middle Class 674

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Joe Nocera writes in an op-ed piece in the NYT that the same network efficiencies that have given companies their great advantages are becoming the instrument of our ruin. In the financial services industry, it led to the financial crisis. In the case of a company like Wal-Mart, the adoption of technology to manage its supply chain at first reaped great benefits, but over time it cost competitors and suppliers hundreds of thousands of jobs, thus gradually impoverishing its own customer base. Jaron Lanier says that the digital economy has done as much as any single thing to hollow out the middle class. Take Kodak and Instagram. At its height, 'Kodak employed more than 140,000 people.' Kodak made plenty of mistakes, but look at what is replacing it: 'When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people.' Networks need a great number of people to participate in them to generate significant value says Lanier but when they have them, only a small number of people get paid. This has the net effect of centralizing wealth and limiting overall economic growth. It is Lanier's radical idea that people should get paid whenever their information is used. He envisions a different kind of digital economy, in which creators of content — whether a blog post or a Facebook photograph — would receive micropayments whenever that content was used. 'If Google and Facebook were smart,' says Lanier, 'they would want to enrich their own customers.' So far, he adds, Silicon Valley has made 'the stupid choice' — to grow their businesses at the expense of their own customers. Lanier's message is that it can't last. And it won't." The micropayments for content idea sounds familiar.
Books

France Moves To Protect Independent Booksellers From Amazon 264

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Tourists often marvel at the number of rich and varied bookstores along Paris streets. Right across from Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the city's most famous independent bookstores, Shakespeare and Company. Inside, every inch of space is crammed with books and readers. The city buys buildings in high-rent districts and tries to keep a core of 300 independent bookstore by offering booksellers leases at an affordable price. 'We have to keep our identity,' says Lynn Cohen-Solal, 'because if we don't, all the shops are exactly the same in Paris, in London, in New York, in New Delhi, everywhere.' Now Eleanor Beardsley reports at NPR that the French government has accused Amazon of trying to push the price of physical books too low and is limiting discounts on books to ensure the survival of its independent booksellers. France's lower house of parliament has unanimously voted to add an amendment to a law from 1981, known in France as the Lang Law which sets the value of new books at fixed prices and only allows retailers to lower books' set price by 5%, in an effort to regulate competition between booksellers and to promote reading. Guillaume Husson, spokesman for the SLF book retailers' union, says Amazon's practice of bundling a 5 percent discount with free delivery amounted to selling books at a loss, which was impossible for traditional book sellers of any size. 'Today, the competition is unfair,' says Husson. 'No other book retailer, whether a small or large book or even a chain, can allow itself to lose that much money,' referring to Amazon's alleged losses on free delivery. Amazon spent $2.8 billion on free shipping worldwide last year to gain a competitive advantage. The bill limiting Amazon's price reductions in France still has to pass the Senate to become law. In a statement, Amazon said any effort to raise the price of books diminishes the cultural choices of French consumers and penalizes both Internet users and small publishers who rely on Internet sales."
United Kingdom

Government To Build 4G Into UK Rural Broadband Plans 40

judgecorp writes "The British Government is discussing a role for 4G in the project to extend rural broadband coverage beyond the reach of fiber. There is £250 million of public money to fill in the gaps left by the £530 Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) program — BDUK's efforts to extend fiber have been criticized because despite promises of a competitive process, all the BDUK money has gone to BT. At a meeting with mobile operators today, the Department of Culture Media and Sport hopes to set up a more competitive 4G fill-in effort."
United States

Obama Seeks New System For Rating Colleges 302

PolygamousRanchKid writes "Targeting the soaring cost of higher education, President Barack Obama on Thursday unveiled a broad new government rating system for colleges that would judge schools on their affordability and perhaps be used to allocate federal financial aid. But the proposed overhaul faced immediate skepticism from college leaders who worry the rankings could cost their institutions millions of dollars, as well as from congressional Republicans wary of deepening the government's role in higher education. The new rating system does not require congressional approval, and the White House is aiming to have it set up before the 2015 school year. But Obama does need support from Congress in order to use the ratings as a basis for parceling out federal financial aid. In addition to tuition, schools will also be rated on average student loan debt, graduation rates and the average earnings of graduates. Under Obama's proposal, students attending highly rated schools could receive larger grants and more affordable loans."
Earth

Obama Proposes 'Meaningful Progress' On Climate Change 583

astroengine writes "President Barack Obama called for 'meaningful progress' on tackling climate change in his State of the Union speech in Washington, DC on Tuesday night. While acknowledging that 'no single event makes a trend,' the President noted that the United States had been buffeted by extreme weather events that in many cases encapsulated the predictions of climate scientists. 'But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods — all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it's too late,' Obama added." Other significant statements from Obama's speech: 34,000 troops coming back from Afghanistan over the next year; new gun regulations "deserve a vote"; rewards for schools that focus on STEM education; increases in tech research; a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9.00/hr and tie it to inflation; and a proposal to use oil and gas revenues to fund a move away from oil and gas,
Software

Is the Flickr API a National Treasure? 101

First time accepted submitter somekind writes "Over the past few months Twitter imposed restrictions on the use of its client API, and Facebook shut down the facial recognition API supporting face.com after acquiring the company. Mathew Ingram noted these and other examples (Google starting to charge for high-volume use of Google Maps) as evidence that 'open APIs' published by a single vendor can't be trusted by outside developers. Worried about the possibility that Yahoo! might do the same with Flickr, Dave Winer has just launched a petition to Obama asking the President to declare the Flickr API a National Historic Landmark, thus (by Dave's reckoning) legally protected from arbitrary withdrawal or wholesale changes by its corporate masters."
Google

Brazilian Judge Orders 24-hour Shutdown of Google and Youtube 339

_Sharp'r_ writes "Judge Flavio Peren of Mato Grosso do Sul state in Brazil has ordered the arrest of the President of Google Brazil, as well as the 24-hour shutdown of Google and Youtube for not removing videos attacking a mayoral candidate. Google is appealing, but has recently also faced ordered fines of $500K/day in Parana and the ordered arrest of another executive in Paraiba in similar cases." Early reports indicated that the judge also ordered the arrest of the Google Brazil President, but the story when this was written is that the police haven't received any such order (and an earlier such order was overuled recently). The video is in violation of their pre-election laws.
Handhelds

Indian Government Mulls Giving Away Mobile Phones To the Poor 104

jalfreize writes "The Indian government is finalizing a $1.2 billion plan to hand out free mobile phones to the poorest Indian families (around six million households, according to some estimates). The Times of India reports: 'Top government managers involved in formulating the scheme want to sell it as a major empowerment initiative... While the move will ensure contact with the beneficiaries of welfare programmes (sic) ..., there is also a view the scheme will provide an opportunity for the (government) to open a direct line of communication with a sizable population that plays an active role in polls.'"
Networking

Why Is Connectivity So Cheap In Stockholm? 443

lpress writes "Symmetric, 100 Mbps service in Stockholm, costs $11/month. Conditions in every city are different, but part of the explanation for the low cost is that the city owns a municipal fiber network reaching every block. They lease network access to anyone who would like to offer service. The ISPs, including incumbent telephone and cable companies, compete on an equal footing."
The Internet

FCC Seeks To Improve US Broadband Access 161

MojoKid writes "The US Federal Communications Commission is working on a plan to solve the problem of nationwide access to high-speed Internet service. The three main issues the agency is tackling first are, figuring out how to improve availability, quality and affordability. Acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps held a meeting this week where he asked the public to comment on the national broadband plan, which Congress has demanded be done by February. The public has 60 days to submit comments; the agency and members of the public will be able to reply to comments for an additional 30 days after that."
Power

The Power Grid Can't Handle Wind Farms 681

DesScorp writes "The Times reports on the problems of adding wind farms to the power grid. Because of the grid's old design, it can't handle the various spikes that wind farms sometimes have, and there's no efficient way to currently move massive amounts of that power from one section of the country to the other. Further complicating things is the fact that under current laws, power grid regulation is a state matter, and the Federal government has comparatively little authority over it right now. Critics are calling for federal authority over the grid, and massive new construction of 'superhighways' to share the wind power wealth nationally. Quoting the article, 'The dirty secret of clean energy is that while generating it is getting easier, moving it to market is not.'"
Education

Helping Some Students May Harm High Achievers 1114

palegray.net writes "According to a new study performed by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, increased emphasis on helping students with a history of lower academic achievement results in lower performance for high achievers. This trend appears to be related to the No Child Left Behind Act. Essentially, programs designed to devote a large number of resources to assisting students who are deemed to be 'significantly behind' leave little room for encouraging continued academic growth for higher-performing students."

Slashdot Top Deals

I cannot draw a cart, nor eat dried oats; If it be man's work I will do it.

Working...