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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Oracle

Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website

Posted by timothy
from the finest-consultants-in-the-land dept.
SpzToid (869795) writes The state of Oregon sued Oracle America Inc. and six of its top executives Friday, accusing the software giant of fraud for failing to deliver a working website for the Affordable Care Act program. The 126-page lawsuit claims Oracle has committed fraud, lies, and "a pattern of activity that has cost the State and Cover Oregon hundreds of millions of dollars". "Not only were Oracle's claims lies, Oracle's work was abysmal", the lawsuit said. Oregon paid Oracle about $240.3 million for a system that never worked, the suit said. "Today's lawsuit clearly explains how egregiously Oracle has disserved Oregonians and our state agencies", said Oregon Atty. Gen. Ellen Rosenblum in a written statement. "Over the course of our investigation, it became abundantly clear that Oracle repeatedly lied and defrauded the state. Through this legal action, we intend to make our state whole and make sure taxpayers aren't left holding the bag."

Oregon's suit, alleges that Oracle, the largest tech contractor working on the website, made falsely convinced officials to buy "hundreds of millions of dollars of Oracle products and services that failed to perform as promised." It is seeking $200 million in damages. Oracle issued a statement saying the suit "is a desperate attempt to deflect blame from Cover Oregon and the governor for their failures to manage a complex IT project. The complaint is a fictional account of the Oregon Healthcare Project."
EU

New EU Rules Will Limit Vacuum Cleaners To 1600W 206

Posted by timothy
from the sucking-power-defined dept.
AmiMoJo writes "New EU rules are limiting vacuum cleaner motors to 1600W from 2014/09/01. The EU summary of the new rules explains that consumers currently equate watts with cleaning power, which is not the case. Manufacturers will be required to put ratings on packaging, including energy efficiency, cleaning efficiency on hard and carpeted floors, and dust emissions from the exhaust. In the EU vacuum cleaners use more energy than the whole of Denmark, and produce more emissions than dishwashers and washing machines."
Businesses

When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the friendly-until-they-have-your-money dept.
jammag writes: A new trend has emerged where tech companies have realized that abusing users pays big. Examples include the highly publicized Comcast harassing service call, Facebook "experiments," Twitter timeline tinkering, rude Korean telecoms — tech is an area where the term "customer service" has an Orwellian slant. Isn't it time customer starting fleeing abusive tech outfits?
Businesses

What's After Big Data? 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sure-the-marketroids-have-something-in-mind dept.
gthuang88 writes: As the marketing hype around "big data" subsides, a recent wave of startups is solving a new class of data-related problems and showing where the field is headed. Niche analytics companies like RStudio, Vast, and FarmLink are trying to provide insights for specific industries such as finance, real estate, and agriculture. Data-wrangling software from startups like Tamr and Trifacta is targeting enterprises looking to find and prep corporate data. And heavily funded startups such as Actifio and DataGravity are trying to make data-storage systems smarter. Together, these efforts highlight where emerging data technologies might actually be used in the business world.
The Internet

FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike 334

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-wouldn't-like-me-whn-I'm-angry dept.
tlhIngan writes Municipal broadband is in the news again — this time Chief of Staff Matthew Berry, speaking at the National Conference of State Legislatures, has endorsed states' right to ban municipal broadband networks and warned the (Democrat-led) FCC to not do anything that a future Republican led FCC would dislike. The argument is that municipal broadband discourages private investment in broadband communications, that taxpayer-funded projects are barriers to future infrastructure investment.
Businesses

Dramatic Shifts In Manufacturing Costs Are Driving Companies To US, Mexico 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-debate-onshoring dept.
hackingbear writes: According to a new Cost-Competitiveness Index, the nations often perceived as having low manufacturing costs — such as China, Brazil, Russia, and the Czech Republic — are no longer much cheaper than the U.S. In some cases, they are estimated to be even more expensive. Chinese manufacturing wages have nearly quintupled since 2004, while Mexican wages have risen by less than 50 percent in U.S. dollar terms, contrary to our long-standing misconception that their labors were being slaved. In the same period, the U.S. wage is essentially flat, whereas Mexican wages have risen only 67%. Not all countries are taking full advantage of their low-cost advantages, however. The report found that global competiveness in manufacturing is undermined in nations such as India and Indonesia by several factors, including logistics, the overall ease of doing business, and inflexible labor markets.
Communications

Calif. Court Rules Businesses Must Reimburse Cell Phone Bills 159

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-stop-calling-her-from-work dept.
New submitter dszd0g writes The Court of Appeal of the State of California has ruled in Cochran v. Schwan's Home Service that California businesses must reimburse employees who BYOD for work. "We hold that when employees must use their personal cell phones for work-related calls, Labor Code section 2802 requires the employer to reimburse them. Whether the employees have cell phone plans with unlimited minutes or limited minutes, the reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of their cell phone bills." Forbes recommends businesses that require cell phone use for employees either provide cell phones to employees or establish forms for reimbursement, and that businesses that do not require cell phones establish a formal policy.
Education

Professor Steve Ballmer Will Teach At Two Universities This Year 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the teaching!-teaching!-teaching! dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "When Steve Ballmer announced he was stepping down from Microsoft's board of directors, he cited a fall schedule that would "be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season." It turns out Ballmer will teach an MBA class at Stanford's Graduate School of Business in the fall, and a class at USC's Marshall School of Business in the spring. Helen Chang, assistant director of communications at Stanford's Business School, told Business Insider that Ballmer will be working with faculty member Susan Athey for a strategic management course called "TRAMGT588: Leading organizations." As for the spring semester, Ballmer will head to Los Angeles — closer to where his Clippers will be playing — and teach a course at University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. We reached out to the Marshall School, which declined to offer more details about Ballmer's class.
Patents

How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-had-an-idea-therefore-your-effort-is-mine dept.
walterbyrd sends this story from Vox: Everyone agrees that there's been an explosion of patent litigation in recent years, and that lawsuits from non-practicing entities (NPEs) — known to critics as patent trolls — are a major factor. But there's a big debate about whether trolls are creating a drag on innovation — and if so, how big the problem is. A new study (PDF) by researchers at Harvard and the University of Texas provides some insight on this question. Drawing from data on litigation, R&D spending, and patent citations, the researchers find that firms that are forced to pay NPEs (either because they lost a lawsuit or settled out of court) dramatically reduce R&D spending: losing firms spent $211 million less on R&D, on average, than firms that won a lawsuit against a troll. "After losing to NPEs, firms significantly reduce R&D spending — both projects inside the firm and acquiring innovative R&D outside the firm," the authors write. "Our evidence suggests that it really is the NPE litigation event that causes this decrease in innovation."
Operating Systems

Operating Systems Still Matter In a Containerized World 128

Posted by Soulskill
from the try-to-contain-yourself dept.
New submitter Jason Baker writes: With the rise of Docker containers as an alternative for deploying complex server-based applications, one might wonder, does the operating system even matter anymore? Certainly the question gets asked periodically. Gordon Haff makes the argument on Opensource.com that the operating system is still very much alive and kicking, and that a hardened, tuned, reliable operating system is just as important to the success of applications as it was in the pre-container data center.
Businesses

Comcast Training Materials Leaked 246

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-to-be-a-jerk-in-3-easy-steps dept.
WheezyJoe writes: The Verge reports on leaked training manuals from Comcast, which show how selling services is a required part of the job, even for employees doing tech support. The so-called "4S training material" explicitly states that 20 percent of a call center employee's rating for a given call is dependent on effectively selling the customer new Comcast services. "There are pages of materials on 'probing' customers to ferret out upsell opportunities, as well as on batting aside customer objections to being told they need to buy something. 'We can certainly look at other options, but you would lose which you mentioned was important to you,' the guide suggests clumsily saying to an angry customer who doesn't want to buy any more Comcast services." Images of the leaked documents are available on the Verge, making for fun reading.
Microsoft

Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the retirement!-retirement!-retirement! dept.
jones_supa writes: After leaving his position as CEO of Microsoft a year ago, Steve Ballmer has still held a position as a member of the board of directors for the company. Now, he is leaving the board, explaining why in a letter to fresh Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "I have become very busy," Ballmer explains. "I see a combination of Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking up a lot of time." Despite his departure, the former-CEO is still invested in the company's success, and he spent most of the letter encouraging Nadella and giving advice. Nadella shot back a supportive, equally optimistic response, promising that Microsoft will thrive in "the mobile-first, cloud-first world."
Blackberry

Blackberry Moves Non-Handset Divisions Into New Business Unit 89

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the at-least-qnx-gets-to-live dept.
First time accepted submitter BarbaraHudson (3785311) writes The CBC is reporting that Blackberry has made preparations to abandon the phone market by spinning pieces of the business off into Blackberry Technology Solutions. From the article: "The unit ... includes QNX, the company that BlackBerry acquired and used to develop the operating system that became the platform for its new smartphones, and Certicom, a former independent Toronto-area company with advanced security software. BTS will also include BlackBerry's Project Ion, which is an application platform focused on machine-to-machine Internet technology, Paratek antenna tuning technology and about 44,000 patents." When you have less market share than Windows Phone, it's time to throw in the towel ... or as they say in the new "lets not admit we screwed up" vernacular, "pivot to take advantage of new opportunities."
Piracy

Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up 376

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the guilty-until-proven-guilty dept.
A few weeks ago, Rightscorp announced plans to have ISPs disconnect repeat copyright infringers. mpicpp (3454017) wrote in with news that Rightscorp announced during their latest earnings call further plans to require ISPs to block all web access (using a proxy system similar to hotel / college campus wifi logins) until users admit guilt and pay a settlement fine (replacing the current system of ISPs merely forwarding notices to users). Quoting TorrentFreak: [Rightscorp] says 75,000 cases have been settled so far with copyright holders picking up $10 from each. ... What is clear is that Rightscorp is determined to go after "Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Cable Vision and one more" in order to "get all of them compliant" (i.e forwarding settlement demands). The company predicts that more details on the strategy will develop in the fall, but comments from COO & CTO Robert Steele hint on how that might be achieved. ... "[What] we really want to do is move away from termination and move to what's called a hard redirect, like, when you go into a hotel and you have to put your room number in order to get past the browser and get on to browsing the web." The idea that mere allegations from an anti-piracy company could bring a complete halt to an entire household or business Internet connection until a fine is paid is less like a "piracy speeding ticket" and more like a "piracy wheel clamp", one that costs $20 to have removed.
The Almighty Buck

Women Founders Outpace Male Counterparts In Certain Types of Kickstarter Funding 98

Posted by samzenpus
from the gathering-the-cash dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Women outpace men when it comes to raising money for technology projects through crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, according to a new study by researchers at New York University and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Jason Greenberg (NYC) and Ethan Mollick (Wharton/UPenn) chose 1,250 Kickstarter projects in five categories: games and technology, where founders were predominantly male; film, with an even gender distribution; and fashion and children's books, both populated with more female founders and backers. They analyzed additional factors such as "industry typing" (a theory in which people 'often hold conscious or unconscious biases about what gender is the archetype employee in a particular occupation or industry') and restricted the data set by geography and how much money each Kickstarter project wanted (a project aiming for less than $5,000 may attract an inordinate percentage of family and friends as funders, skewing results). After crunching the data, they found that female founders of technology projects were more likely than males to achieve their Kickstarter goals, a finding that didn't extend to the other four categories. "It appears female backers are responsible for helping female founders succeed in specific industry categories that women backers generally disfavor," they theorized, adding a little later: "The value of crowdfunding is that it enables access to a pool of potential female backers particularly inclined to support women in industry categories in which they believe women to be underrepresented."
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Would You Pay For Websites Without Trolls? 381

Posted by samzenpus
from the play-nice dept.
First time accepted submitter carbon_tet writes I read two articles this week that made me wonder: "Would anyone actually pay for a website without trolls?" The first, was about web trolls and civility on the internet, and the second about the ad-based internet. It seems that public comments unavoidably have trolls, or they degrade very quickly until someone makes a reference to Hitler. So, is it impossible to have a substantive discussion online without trolls? Would you put your money where your mouth is to have a serious online conversation without them? Are there any topics that you would talk about (or prefer to see talked about) on a website where trolls were paywalled out?
Businesses

Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It 231

Posted by samzenpus
from the keep-your-away-messages-to-yourself dept.
AmiMoJo writes Sure, you can set an out-of-office auto-reply to let others know they shouldn't email you, but that doesn't usually stop the messages; you may still have to handle those urgent-but-not-really requests while you're on vacation. That's not a problem if you work at Daimler, though. The German automaker recently installed software that not only auto-replies to email sent while staff is away, but deletes it outright.
Facebook

Facebook Tests "Satire" Tag To Avoid Confusion On News Feed 131

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-can't-tell-up-from-down dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In an attempt to keep you from having to explain to your crazy relatives that despite what they read, Vice President Biden *didn't* get a grow light delivered to the White House under a fake name, Facebook is testing a "satire" tag on news feeds. A Facebook representative issued the following statement to Ars Technica: "We are running a small test which shows the text '[Satire]' in front of links to satirical articles in the related articles unit in News Feed. This is because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units."
Censorship

Financial Services Group WCS Sues Online Forum Over Negative Post 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-wish-you-wouldn't-say-that dept.
First time accepted submitter kavzee writes The popular Australian online discussion forum, Whirlpool, is being sued by a financial services group for refusing to remove a negative review about its services. A similar story occurred a number of years ago when another company by the name of 2Clix attempted to sue Whirlpool for the same reasons but later withdrew their case. "A financial services business licenced through National Australia Bank is suing an online forum for refusing to remove an allegedly fake and negative post about its services, claiming it has damaged its reputation with would-be clients. It is the latest legal action launched against an online forum or review website for publishing negative comments, following several high profile cases in Australia and overseas. Financial advice group WCS Group has initiated action against Whirlpool in the Supreme Court of Victoria, seeking unspecified damages and costs, despite the fact the forum generates no revenue."

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