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Steve Ballmer Says Smartphones Came Between Him and Bill Gates ( 114

Steve Ballmer once said Apple's iPhone would flop because it cost too much -- though he now admits that he failed to anticipate carriers subsidizing the cost of the phone. But that was only the beginning. An anonymous reader quotes Fortune: The former CEO of Microsoft says he and Gates drifted apart over Microsoft's move into the hardware business in the early 2010s, according to Bloomberg. Ballmer says he was the one who pushed for Microsoft to design smartphones and tablets at a time when Apple was already well established. He says Gates and the board seemed reluctant to do so. "There was a fundamental disagreement about how important it was to be in the hardware business," Ballmer told Bloomberg. "I had pushed Surface. The board had been a little -- little reluctant in supporting it. And then things came to a climax around what to do about the phone business."
Microsoft eventually took a $900 million write down for its first tablet, the Surface RT -- plus most of the value of their $9.5 billion acquisition of Nokia Oyj's handset unit as Microsoft pushed into hardware. "Ballmer's only regret: not doing it sooner," Bloomberg reports, adding that Surface is now profitable and this year will generate more than $4 billion in sales.

Submission + - Astronomers Make the Science Case for a Mission to Neptune and Uranus (

KentuckyFC writes: The only planets never to have been the subjects of bespoke space missions from Earth are Neptune and Uranus. Now European astronomers are planning to put that straight with a mission called Odinus, which involves twin spacecraft making the journey in 2034. Their justification is that the mission will help explain how the Solar System formed, how it ended up in the configuration we see today and may also explain why 'hot' Neptune-class planets are common around other stars. They also have to overcome the common misconception that Neptune and Uranus are just smaller, less interesting versions of Jupiter and Saturn. Nothing could be further from the truth. For a start, Neptune and Uranus and made of entirely different stuff--mostly ices such as water, ammonia and methane compared with hydrogen and helium for Jupiter and Saturn. That raises the question of how they formed and how they got to the distant reaches of the Solar System. However it happened, Uranus ended up lying on its side, probably because of a cataclysmic collision. And Neptune's largest moon Triton orbits in the opposite direction to its parent's rotation, the only moon in the Solar System to do this. How come? Another question still unanswered is who's going to pay for all this. The team are pinning their hopes on the European Space Agency which has already expressed interest. But would an international collaboration be a better option?

Submission + - What "news for nerds" sites should I use? 8

stderr_dk writes: I used to visit Slashdot quite often, but if Dice Holdings decide to switch the interface to what is currently known as "Beta", I'll have to find another site for my "stuff that matters"-fix.

So, Slashdot, what sites can you recommend for a "maybe-ex" /. user?

Comment Skype/MS bans IP's running Tor Exit Nodes (Score 1) 214

I used to run an active, unlimited TOR exit node on my office PC during non-work hours, that is until for some unknown reason our office had our Skype account blocked - I called Skype, my network provider, everyone trying to figure why we couldn't access Skype at all from any of the computers on our office network (we have a fixed IP which could have added to the problem). I read some threads on the Skype forums that this has happened to several people - apparently once Microsoft integrated Skype over the last year, anyone running an Exit Node was blacklisted. Note that we got any kind of notification, just a banned IP, they would not even confirm we were banned. I shut down my Exit Node and about 2 weeks later Skype returned. Not exactly what I call a positive treatment for a so called "good application."

Comment Re:What kind of summary is this? (Score 1) 399

Seriously, I read /. regularly, and I have no clue what the hell is going on here from the summary alone. As in, not even a slight clue as to what the problem was originally. Sure, you can post some analysis, but sum up what happened up to this point for people who really haven't heard the original story.

I really wish I had some mod points to give you.

Comment Re:I predict "safety" (Score 1) 397

For the most part I agree with you, except for the "a little RC aircraft might give your kid a cut if it crashed into them" - that cut could be a death blow to his head! Just two months (reported here on Slashdot and elsewhere) someone was killed flying their drone (granted doing some stupid trick) but it does illustrate that the dangers are real - especially if the drone is landing in someone's yard.

Comment They are only the best rated TVs... (Score 5, Insightful) 202

This is a real sham - Plasma TVs, and Panasonic ones specifically (the ST60 model lineup) are consistently the highest rated TVs out there. CNET has several article devoted to why should only buy plasma tvs and not LCD. The main reasons? Significantly better colors, no motion blur, wider view angles. I have a Panasonic TC-P60ST60 and it looks amazing. The real reason that LCD sell better? They do look better in bright rooms, though not by much. What room is the brightest of them all? Bestbuy show floors so that is where the comparison is made, not your living room.

Comment Time Series Graph (Score 1) 601

It would be very interesting to see on the results of the poll plotted in a time series - to see how people's perception of him have changed. About a week ago I thought he was a hero, but now as he flees from country to country, and releases information about NSA intelligence gathering in China I am starting to doubt his altruism.

Laser Fusion's Brightest Hope 115

First time accepted submitter szotz writes "The National Ignition Facility has one foot in national defense and another in the future of commercial energy generation. That makes understanding the basic justification for the facility, which boasts the world's most powerful laser system, more than a little tricky. This article in IEEE Spectrum looks at NIF's recent missed deadline, what scientists think it will take for the facility to live up to its middle name, and all of the controversy and uncertainty that comes from a project that aspires to jumpstart commercial fusion energy but that also does a lot of classified work. NIF's national defense work is often glossed over in the press. This article pulls in some more detail and, in some cases, some very serious criticism. Physicist Richard Garwin, one of the designers of the hydrogen bomb, doesn't mince words. When it comes to nuclear weapons, he says in the article, '[NIF] has no relevance at all to primaries. It doesn't do a good job of mimicking validates the codes in regions that are not relevant to nuclear weapons.'"

4-Billion-Pixel Panorama View From Curiosity Rover 101

SternisheFan points out that there is a great new panorama made from shots from the Curiosity Rover. "Sweep your gaze around Gale Crater on Mars, where NASA's Curiosity rover is currently exploring, with this 4-billion-pixel panorama stitched together from 295 images. ...The entire image stretches 90,000 by 45,000 pixels and uses pictures taken by the rover's two MastCams. The best way to enjoy it is to go into fullscreen mode and slowly soak up the scenery — from the distant high edges of the crater to the enormous and looming Mount Sharp, the rover's eventual destination."

Comment University of Southern California is a.... (Score 2, Informative) 490

I just wanted to clarify something - the summary is a little misleading when it states USC... "and other public universities" - USC is a PRIVATE university and one of the largest in the country at that.Trust me I spent 4 years there.


An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.

Robert A. Heinlein

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