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Graphics

Players Seek 'No Man's Sky' Refunds, Sony's Content Director Calls Them Thieves (tweaktown.com) 53

thegarbz writes: As was covered previously on Slashdot the very hyped up game No Man's Sky was released to a lot of negative reviews about game-crashing bugs and poor interface choices. Now that players have had more time to play the game it has become clear that many of the features hyped by developers are not present in the game, and users quickly started describing the game as "boring".

Now, likely due to misleading advertising, Steam has begun allowing refunds for No Man's Sky regardless of playtime, and there are reports of players getting refunds on the Play Station Network as well despite Sony's strict no refund policy.
Besides Sony, Amazon is also issuing refunds, according to game sites. In response, Sony's former Strategic Content Director, Shahid Kamal Ahmad, wrote on Twitter, "If you're getting a refund after playing a game for 50 hours you're a thief." He later added "Here's the good news: Most players are not thieves. Most players are decent, honest people without whose support there could be no industry."

In a follow-up he acknowledged it was fair to consider a few hours lost to game-breaking crashes, adding "Each case should be considered on its own merits and perhaps I shouldn't be so unequivocal."
Google

Fake Google Salesmen Are Actually SEO Telemarketers (vortex.com) 105

Long-time Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein writes: It seems like almost every day I get junk solicitation phone calls "from Google." They call about my Google business local listings, about my not being on the first page of Google search results, and so on -- and they want me to pay them to "fix" this stuff. When I look up the Caller ID numbers they use, I often finds pages of people claiming they're Google phone numbers. Sometimes the Caller ID display actually says Google!

Is Google really doing this? Negative. NONE of these calls are from Google. Zero. Zilch. Nada. These callers are inevitably "SEO"; (Search Engine Optimization) scammers of one sort or another. They make millions of "cold calls" to businesses using public phone listings (from the Web or other sources) or using phone number lists purchased from brokers. If you ever actually deal with them, you'll find that their services typically range from useless to dangerous.

Businesses

One Year in Jail For Abusive Silicon Valley CEO (theguardian.com) 287

He grew up in San Jose, and at the age of 25 sold his second online advertising company to Yahoo for $300 million just nine years ago. Friday Gurbaksh Chahal was sentenced to one year in jail for violating his probation on 47 felony charges from 2013, according to an article in The Guardian submitted by an anonymous Slashdot reader: Police officials said that a 30-minute security camera video they obtained showed the entrepreneur hitting and kicking his then girlfriend 117 times and attempting to suffocate her inside his $7 million San Francisco penthouse. Chahal's lawyers, however, claimed that police had illegally seized the video, and a judge ruled that the footage was inadmissible despite prosecutors' argument that officers didn't have time to secure a warrant out of fear that the tech executive would erase the footage.

Without the video, most of the charges were dropped, and Chahal, 34, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor battery charges of domestic violence... In Silicon Valley, critics have argued that Chahal's case and the lack of serious consequences he faced highlight the way in which privileged and wealthy businessmen can get away with serious misconduct.. On September 17, 2014, prosecutors say he attacked another woman in his home, leading to another arrest.

Friday Chahal was released on bail while his lawyer appeals the one-year jail sentence for violating his probation.
Advertising

Facebook Rolls Out Code To Nullify Adblock Plus' Workaround (techcrunch.com) 426

An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal issued a report Tuesday that said Facebook will begin forcing ads to appear for all users of its desktop site, even if they use ad-blocking software. Adblock Plus, the most popular ad-blocking software, opposed Facebook's plan and found a workaround to Facebook's revision two days later. Now, TechCrunch is reporting that Facebook is well aware of Adblock Plus' workaround and their "plan to address the issue" is coming quick. "A source close to Facebook tells [TechCrunch] that today possibly within hours, the company will push an update to its site's code that will nullify Adblock Plus' workaround," reports TechCrunch. "Apparently it took two days for Adblock Plus to come up with the workaround, and only a fraction of that time for Facebook to disable it." An update on their site says, "A source says Facebook is now rolling out the code update that will disable Adblock Plus' workaround. It should reach all users soon."
Communications

Next Generation of Wireless -- 5G -- Is All Hype (backchannel.com) 90

Many people have promised us that 5G will be here very soon. And it will be the best thing ever. To quote Lowell McAdam, the CEO of Verizon, 5G is "wireless fiber," and to quote SK Telecom, thanks to 5G we will soon be able to "transfer holograms" because the upcoming standard is "100 times faster" than our current communications system 4G LTE. But if we were to quote Science, the distant future isn't nearly as lofty as the one promised by executives. Backchannel explains: "5G" is a marketing term. There is no 5G standard -- yet. The International Telecommunications Union plans to have standards ready by 2020. So for the moment "5G" refers to a handful of different kinds of technologies that are predicted, but not guaranteed, to emerge at some point in the next 3 to 7 years. (3GPP, a carrier consortium that will be contributing to the ITU process, said last year that until an actual standard exists, '"5G' will remain a marketing & industry term that companies will use as they see fit." At least they're candid.) At the moment, advertising something as "5G" carries no greater significance than saying it's "blazing fast" or "next generation" -- nut because "5G" sounds technical, it's good for sales. We are a long way away from actual deployment. [...] Second, this "wireless fiber" will never happen unless we have... more fiber. Real fiber, in the form of fiber optic cables reaching businesses and homes. (This is the "last mile" problem; fiber already runs between cities.) It's just plain physics. In order to work, 99% of any "5G" wireless deployment will have to be fiber running very close to every home and business. The high-frequency spectrum the carriers are planning to use wobbles billions of times a second but travels incredibly short distances and gets interfered with easily. So it's great at carrying loads of information -- every wobble can be imprinted with data -- but can't go very far at all.
IOS

Zero-Day Hunters Will Pay Over Twice as Much as Apple's New Bug Bounty Programme (vice.com) 29

Joseph Cox, writing for Motherboard: Last week, Apple finally joined other technology giants and announced a bug bounty programme, where hackers can submit details of previously unknown vulnerabilities in Apple systems and devices, and get paid for sharing them with the company. But Apple is not going to be without competition. On Wednesday, established bug-hunting company Exodus Intelligence launched its own new acquisition programme for both vulnerabilities and exploits. And when it comes to iOS bugs, the company is offering up to more than double Apple's maximum payout. While Apple's highest bounty is $200,000, Exodus is advertising a maximum of $500,000 for vulnerabilities affecting iOS 9.3 or above. Exodus provides details of vulnerabilities and working exploits to customers who pay a subscription fee of around $200,000 per year, according to Time. Those customers could be on the defensive side -- such as antivirus vendors who want to plug newly discovered holes -- or part of an offensive team using the exploit to target systems themselves. On its site, Exodus emphasises the former, writing that it "works with the research community to find these attacks first and make them available to security vendors and enterprises, allowing them to deploy defenses before their adversaries can attack."
Advertising

Suicide Squad Fan Suing Studio For 'False Advertising' Over Lack of Joker Scenes (independent.co.uk) 260

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Independent: Reddit user BlackPanther2016 has threatened to begin legal action against Warner Bros and DC Comics later this week, claiming that teasing Joker scenes in trailers that did not make the final film amounts to "unjust false advertising." The disgruntled superhero fan argued in a post on Movies subreddit that he should receive a refund after driving 300 miles to London to watch "specific scenes explicitly advertised in TV ads" only to leave feeling ripped off. He says he will file a lawsuit on August 11, with his "lawyer" brother leading the case. Part of his litigious post reads: "Suicide Squad trailers showcased several specific Joker scenes that I had to pay for the whole movie just so that I can go watch those specific scenes that Warner Bros/DC Comics had advertised in their trailers and TV spots. These scenes are: when Joker banged his head on his car window, when Joker says 'Let me show you my toys,' when Joker punches the roof of his car, when Joker drops a bomb with his face all messed up and says, 'Bye bye!' None of these scenes were in the movie." Last week, Suicide Squad fans petitioned to shut down rotten tomatoes over negative reviews.
Communications

Ad Board To Comcast: Stop Claiming You Have the 'Fastest Internet' (arstechnica.com) 101

The National Advertising Division (NDA) said on Monday that Comcast should stop claiming that its Xfinity service delivers the "fastest Internet in America," adding that the carrier should also discontinue some ads where it claims to offer the "fastest in-home Wi-Fi." ArsTechnica reports: For its fastest Internet claim, Comcast relied on crowdsourced data from the Ookla Speedtest application. An "award" provided by Ookla to Comcast relied only on the top 10 percent of each ISP's download results. "Although Xfinity offers a variety of speeds at a range of prices and tiers, Comcast's advertising does not limit its claims to a particular tier," the NAD's announcement said. "NAD determined that the claims at issue in both print and broadcast advertising reasonably conveyed a message of overall superiority -- that regardless of which speed tier purchased by a consumer, in a head-to-head comparison, Xfinity would deliver faster speeds." Though one methodology might be reliable for one purpose, "it may not be sufficient substantiation for advertising claims made in a different context," the NAD said. Ookla's methodology "wasn't a good fit for the purposes of substantiating Comcast's overall superior speed performance claim that 'Xfinity delivers the fastest Internet in America,'" the NAD also said.
Facebook

Facebook Will Force Advertising On Ad-Blocking Users (wsj.com) 534

Long-time reader geek writes: Facebook is going to start forcing ads to appear for all users of its desktop website, even if they use ad-blocking software (Could be paywalled; alternate source). The social network said on Tuesday that it will change the way advertising is loaded into its desktop website to make its ad units considerably more difficult for ad blockers to detect. "Facebook is ad-supported. Ads are a part of the Facebook experience; they're not a tack on," said Andrew "Boz" Bosworth, Facebook's vice president of engineering for advertising and pages.
Network

Washington State Sues Comcast For $100M Over 'Pattern of Deceptive Practices' (komonews.com) 90

An anonymous reader writes: Washington State has filed a lawsuit against Comcast to the sum of $100 million, accusing Comcast of "engaging in a pattern of deceptive practices." It claims that Comcast's documents reveal a pattern of illegally deceiving its own customers for profit. KOMO News reports: "The lawsuit (PDF) alleges more than 1.8 million individual violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act. The Attorney General's Office says 500,000 Washington consumers were affected. The lawsuit also accuses Comcast of violating the Consumer Protection Act to all of its nearly 1.2 million Washington subscribers due to its deceptive 'Comcast Guarantee,' Ferguson said. The lawsuit accuses Comcast of misleading 500,000 Washington consumers and deceiving them into paying at least $73 million in subscription fees over the last five years for what the attorney general says is a a near-worthless protection plan. Customers who sign up for Comcast's Service Protection Plan pay a $4.99 monthly fee to avoid being charged if a Comcast technician visits their home. But the plan did not cover wiring inside a wall, the lawsuit says. The Attorney General Office says 75 percent of the time, customers who contacted Comcast were told the plan covered inside wiring. Customer service scripts, which the Attorney General's Office said it obtained during its investigation, told Comcast representatives to say that the plan covers calls 'related to inside wiring' and 'wiring inside your home.'" According to KOMO News, the lawsuit is seeking more than $73 million in restitution to pay back Service Protection Plan subscriber payments; full restitution for all service calls that applied an improper resolution code, estimated to be at least $1 million; removal of improper credit checks from the credit reports of more than 6,000 customers; up to $2,000 per violation of the Consumer Protection Act; and that Comcast clearly disclose the limitations of its Service Protection Plan in advertising and through its representatives, correct improper service codes that should not be chargeable and implement a compliance procedure for improper customer credit checks.
Advertising

Malvertising Campaign Infected Thousands of Users Per Day For More Than a Year (softpedia.com) 135

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: Since the summer of 2015, users that surfed 113 major, legitimate websites were subjected to one of the most advanced malvertising campaigns ever discovered, with signs that this might have actually been happening since 2013. Infecting a whopping 22 advertising platforms, the criminal gang behind this campaign used complicated traffic filtering systems to select users ripe for infection, usually with banking trojans. The campaign constantly pulled between 1 and 5 million users per day, infecting thousands, and netting the crooks millions each month. The malicious ads, according to this list, were shown on sites like The New York Times, Le Figaro, The Verge, PCMag, IBTimes, Ars Technica, Daily Mail, Telegraaf, La Gazetta dello Sport, CBS Sports, Top Gear, Urban Dictionary, Playboy, Answers.com, Sky.com, and more.
The Internet

Tumblr To Introduce Ads Across All Blogs 44

Reader evelynlewis445 writes: Tumblr this week quietly announced plans to roll out a new advertising program across its site which will see it implementing ads across users' blogs. The company did not provide specific details on how the program will operate, but it appears to be an expansion of its earlier Creators program, which connects brands with Tumblr users directly, instead of having advertisers work with third-party influencer networks.The ads will begin appearing on the platform starting today. Tumblr remains one of the most popular blogging platforms, attracting over 550 million monthly users to its blogs. Tumblr creators will have an opportunity to share in the revenue from ads on their blogs. The company says that bloggers will have the ability to opt out of the program should they wish not to participate.
Yahoo!

Once Valued at $125B, Yahoo's Web Assets To Be Sold To Verizon For $4.83B, Companies Confirm 206

The reports were spot on. Verizon Communications on Monday announced that it plans to purchase Yahoo's Web assets for a sum of $4.83 billion in cash. The multi-billion dollars deal will get Verizon Yahoo's core internet business and some real estate. The announcement also marks a remarkable fall for the Silicon Valley web pioneer, which once had a market capitalization of more than $125 billion. For Verizon, the deal adds another piece to the mammoth digital media and advertising empire it owns. The deal is expected to close early 2017. CNBC reports: The transaction is seen boosting Verizon's AOL internet business, which the company acquired last year for $4.4 billion, by giving it access to Yahoo's advertising technology tools, as well as other assets such as search, mail, messenger and real estate. It also marks the end of Yahoo as an operating company, leaving it only as the owner of a 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan, as well as its 15 percent interest in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. In December, Yahoo scrapped plans to spin off its Alibaba stake after investors worried about whether that transaction could have been carried out on a tax-free basis. It instead decided to explore a sale of its core assets, spurred on by activist hedge fund Starboard Value. Forbes has called it one of the "saddest $5B deals in tech history."Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who was expected to leave -- or get fired -- said she intends to stay. "For me personally, I'm planning to stay," Mayer said in a note on Yahoo's Tumblr page. "I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It's important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter."
Advertising

Google Tests Ads That Load Faster and Use Less Power (bbc.co.uk) 118

Slashdot reader Big Hairy Ian quotes a report from the BBC: Google says it has found a way to make ads load faster on web pages viewed on smartphones and tablets. The company said the ads would also be less taxing on the handsets' processors, meaning their batteries should last longer. The technique is based on work it has already done to make news publishers' articles load more quickly. But it is still in development, and one expert said Google still had questions to answer. The California-based company's online advertising revenue totalled $67.4 billion last year...
The technique limits the scope of JavaScript, and "provides its own activity measurement tools, which are said to be much more efficient," according to article. A Google software engineer explains that this technique "only animates things that are visible on the screen," and throttles animation to fewer frames per second for weaker devices -- or disables the animations altogether. "This ensures that every device gets the best experience it can deliver and makes sure that ads cannot have a negative impact on important aspects of the user experience such as scrolling."

How Apple and Facebook Helped To Take Down KickassTorrents (pcworld.com) 105

Reader itwbennett writes (edited): Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of the torrent directory service KickassTorrents, was arrested in Poland earlier this week, charged with copyright infringement and money laundering. As we dig deeper as to what exactly happened, it turns out Apple and Facebook were among the companies that handed over data to the U.S. in its investigation. Department of Homeland Security investigators traced IP addresses associated with KickassTorrents domains to a Canadian ISP, which turned over server data, including emails. At some point, investigators noticed that Vaulin had an Apple email account that was used to make iTunes purchases from two IP addresses -- both of which also accessed a Facebook account promoting KickassTorrents.if you're wondering where exactly iTunes came into play, here's a further explanation. It all started in November 2015, when an undercover IRS Special Agent reached out to a KickassTorrents representative about hosting an advertisement on the site. An agreement was made and the ad, which purportedly advertised a program to study in the United States, was to be placed on individual torrent listings for $300 per day. When it finally went live on March 14th 2016, a link appeared underneath the torrent download buttons for five days. Sure it was a short campaign, but it was enough to link KAT to a Latvian bank account, one that received $31 million in deposits -- mainly from advertising payments -- between August 2015 and March 2016. Upon further investigation of the email accounts, and corresponding reverse lookups, it was found that the account holder had made a purchase on iTunes.
Advertising

Spotify Is Now Selling Your Information To Advertisers (engadget.com) 107

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Engadget: Spotify is now opening its data to targeted advertising. "Everything from your age and gender, to the music genres you like to listen to will be available to various third-party companies," reports Engadget. "Spotify is calling it programmatic ad buying (Warning: source may be paywalled) and has already enabled it." The nearly 70 million people that currently use Spotify's free, ad-supported streaming service across 59 countries will be affected. The ads will be audio-based and stretch between 15-30 seconds in length. The advertisers who buy ad spots will be able to look for specific users by viewing their song picks to find the best matches for the products they're selling. Two weeks ago, China has released its first ever set of digital ad regulations that seems to all but ban ad blocking.
Advertising

China Bans Ad Blocking (adexchanger.com) 126

An anonymous reader writes: Two weeks ago, China released its first ever set of digital ad regulations that impacted Chinese market leaders like Baidu and Alibaba. "But hidden among (the new regulations) is language that would seem to all but ban ad blocking," wrote Adblock Plus (ABP) operations manager Ben Williams in a blog post Wednesday. The new regulations prohibit "the use of network access, network devices, applications, and the disruption of normal advertising data, tampering with or blocking others doing advertising business (or) unauthorized loading the ad." There is also a clause included that addresses tech companies that "intercept, filter, cover, fast-forward and [impose] other restrictions" on online ad campaigns. ABP general counsel Kai Recke said in an email to AdExchanger that the Chinese State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) has much more control over the market than its otherwise equal U.S. counterpart, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). "After all it looks like the Chinese government tries to get advertising more under their control and that includes that they want to be the only ones to be allowed to remove or alter ads," said Recke. "Ad-block users are a distinct audience and they require a distinct strategy and ways to engage them," said ABP CEO Till Faida at AdExchanger's Clean Ads I/O earlier this year. "They have different standards they've expressed for accessing them, and advertising has to reflect that."
Google

Google Hit By New Round Of Antitrust Charges In Europe (bloomberg.com) 39

The European commission has filed a third antitrust charge against Google -- this time it is against the Mountain View-based company's AdSense advertising business. The EU regulator is accusing Google of abusing its dominance in search to benefit its own advertising business, one of company's main revenue stream. A Bloomberg article explains the whole situation: While this is an escalation for the advertising probe, the statement of objections focused on comparison shopping bolsters a case the European Commission first laid out in an antitrust complaint in April 2015. Both of these investigations are in addition to an ongoing antitrust case against Alphabet Inc. for the alleged market-dominance of its Android mobile operating system that the EU filed in April. The antitrust issues are just one strand of a net of regulatory problems entangling the company in Europe. It is facing a separate inquiry into its use of copyrighted content from European publishers and complaints about its compliance with European "right to be forgotten" rules. A bevy of individual European governments are also investigating the company for alleged underpayment of tax. In response to the latest EU antitrust complaints, Google said that its products "increased choice for European consumers and promote competition," and that will provide a detailed response to the European Commission's claims in the coming weeks. In the past, Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt has said European officials should spend more time trying to promote Europe's own tech sector and less time trying to punish successful American companies.
Social Networks

Tech Job Postings Are Down 40% On Popular Job Boards (medium.com) 142

Tech job postings are down 40% year-on-year, says Cameron Moll, founder of job board Authentic Jobs. He says that job volume for April 2016 was nearly half the volume of April 2015, and currently, annual job posting volume is 63% on the platform compared to 2015, and 59% compared to 2014. But wait, there is always a chance that it is only his website that is getting less popular, right? Mr. Moll adds that it's not just his job board, but several of the competitors' as well. From a blog post: On one hand, we're cautious to assume that fewer jobs posted = fewer jobs available. We recognize companies have many avenues for advertising available jobs -- social media, recruiters, employee word-of-mouth, company websites, etc. Companies may choose at any time to broadcast jobs through these channels instead of a job board. So, for all intents and purposes, it's feasible the same number of jobs are available this year compared to previous years, just not on job boards. On the other hand, our volume trends have been very consistent the past four years. However, these trends are suddenly meaningless in 2016. It's anyone's guess what our volume will be each month regardless of what the historical data says.
EU

Privacy Shield Data Pact Gets European Approval (bbc.com) 19

A commercial data transfer pact provisionally agreed by the EU executive and the United States in February received the green light from EU governments on Friday, the European Commission said, paving the way for it to come into effect next week. This will end months of legal limbo for companies such as Facebook, Google, and MasterCard after the EU's top court struck down the previous data transfer framework, Safe Harbour, on concerns about intrusive U.S surveillance. BBC reports: Member states of the European Commission have given "strong support" to the Privacy Shield said the EC's Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova in a statement. Ms Jourova said the approval paved the way for the formal adoption of the agreement early next week. "The EU-US Privacy Shield will ensure a high level of protection for individuals and legal certainty for business," said Commissioner Jourova. "It is fundamentally different from the old Safe Harbour." The adoption of the Privacy Shield ends months of uncertainty for many tech companies such as Google and Facebook after the European court found the Safe Harbour agreement wanting. The agreement covers everything from personal information about employees to the detailed records of what people do online, which is often used to aid targeted advertising. The Safe Harbour pact let US companies skirt tough European rules that govern how this data can be treated, by letting them generate their own reports about the steps they took to stop it being misused.Ars Technica's report further explains the matter.

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