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Electric car maker Tesla said to be planning new factory in California


The Tesla Model S.

Tesla Motors reps won't tell the Los Angeles Times, but city officials in the small California town of Lathrop told a reporter that "work is underway converting a 431,000-square-foot facility that once housed a Chrysler-Daimler distribution center into a Tesla factory." More: Is Tesla planning another electric car factory in California? [latimes.com]

Having leisure time is now a marker for poverty, not riches


In Post-Industrious Society: Why Work Time will not Disappear for our Grandchildren, researchers from Oxford's Centre for Time Use Research argue that there has been a radical shift in the relationship between leisure, work and income. Where once leisure time was a mark of affluence, now it is a marker for poverty. The richer you are, the more likely you are to work long hours; while the poorer you are, the fewer hours you are likely to work every week.

The researchers theorise multiple causes for this. Poor people are more likely to be underemployed and unable to get the work-hours they want (and need) to support themselves. Rich people are likely to work in jobs that disproportionately advance and reward workers who put in overtime, so a 10% increase in hours worked generates more than 10% in expected career-gains.

They also claim that rich workers are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, but I'm skeptical of this -- I think that relative to unskilled workers doing at-will 0-hours temp work whose every move is constrained and scripted by their employers, this is probably true, but I don't think that the white-collar world is producing a lot of people who think that their work is meaningful and rewarding.

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HBO reruns to be offered through Amazon Prime Instant Video


HBO will sell reruns of hit shows like "The Sopranos" to Amazon Prime. (HBO)

HBO and Amazon have announced a deal through which the cable TV network will offer reruns of many hit shows on Amazon's Prime Instant Video platform. The shows to be sold include "The Sopranos," "Six Feet Under," "The Wire," "Girls" and "Veep," as well as HBO miniseries like "Band of Brothers" and original features such as "Game Change."

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How science fiction influences thinking about the future


Eileen Gunn writes, "What's science fiction good for? The May issue of Smithsonian magazine has an essay on the relationship between science, science fiction, and the future by Boing Boing buddy Eileen Gunn. Major writers -- Ursula K. Le Guin, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Samuel R. Delany, Kim Stanley Robinson, Cory Doctorow and others -- talk about why science fiction likes to think about the future and how SF can be used to help scientists think about the uses and ethics of their inventions. The rest of the issue covers science and ethical issues of the near future."

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Obama official responsible for copyright chapters of TPP & ACTA gets a job at MPAA; his replacement is another copyright lobbyist


Stan McCoy is the assistant US Trade Representative who oversaw the creation of the disastrous, far-reaching copyright provisions in ACTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership. He's left the Obama administration for a high-paid job at the MPAA, which represents companies that stood to reap massive profits and permanent control over Internet governance and innovation thanks to his efforts while in government. Now, the Obama administration has headhunted a software industry lobbyist (who supported SOPA) to take over his job. McCoy is one of more than a dozen USTR officials who've left the government to work for copyright lobbying bodies, including former Obama copyright czar Victoria Espinel, who now gets her paycheck from the Business Software Alliance.

Timothy Lee has an excellent piece on the revolving-door relationship between the USTR and the entertainment industry and other copyright lobbyists. When Obama was campaigning for office, he vowed that "lobbyists won't work in my White House."

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Eternal vigilance app for social networks: treating privacy vulnerabilities like other security risks

Social networking sites are Skinner boxes designed to train you to undervalue your privacy. Since all the compromising facts of your life add less than a dollar to the market-cap of the average social network, they all push to add more "sharing" by default, with the result that unless you devote your life to it, you're going to find your personal info shared ever-more-widely by G+, Facebook, Linkedin, and other "social" services.

Arvind Narayanan has proposed a solution to this problem: a two-part system through which privacy researchers publish a steady stream of updates about new privacy vulnerabilities introduced by the social networking companies (part one), and your computer sifts through these and presents you with a small subset of the alerts that pertain to you and your own network use.

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Reddit's /r/technology demoted over scandal of secret censorship that blocked Internet freedom stories


Alan sez, "According to various media reports (e.g. BBC) the technology subreddit has scrubbed its moderator team after users discovered that the sub was holding a secret censorship list of banned words that included 'National Security Agency', 'GCHQ', 'Anonymous', 'anti-piracy', 'Bitcoin', 'Snowden', 'net neutrality', 'EU Court', 'startup' and 'Assange'.

On its face, this looks like a list of politicized terms, and blocking them looks like a highly political and partisan act -- for example, by blocking "net neutrality," then stories that are critical of network discrimination would be blocked, while straight news stories that overwhelmingly quoted corporate spokespeople using uncritical terms would make the front door.

More charitably, it may have been the act of overworked (and ultimately irresponsible) moderators to simply ban hot-button topics altogether.

Here's the Reddit post that outed /r/technology's moderators.

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Profile of Aeropress and Aerobie inventor Alan Adler


Alan Adler is a Stanford engineering professor and inventor who's had two remarkable -- and wildly different -- successes: the long-flying Aerobie disc, and the Aeropress, a revolutionary, brilliant, dead-simple $30 coffee maker that makes pretty much the best cup of coffee you've ever tasted. I've given Aeropresses to a dozen friends, I keep one in my travel-bag, and I've got Aeropresses at home and at the office. I use mine to make hot coffee and to filter cold-brew (including hotel-room minibar cold-brew that I brew in breast-milk bags).

Zachary Crockett has a great, long piece on Adler and the process that led to the creation of these two remarkable products. Adler's first success, the Aerobie, was the result of lucking out with the major TV networks and magazines, who provided him with the publicity he needed to get his business off the ground (literally). But with the Aeropress, the defining factor was the Internet, where a combination of coffee-nerd message-boards (where Adler could interact directly with his customers) and an easy means for coffee-shop owners all over the world to order Aeropresses for retail sale made the Aeropress into a global hit.

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UK tax authority caught sneaking in plan to sell Britons' private financial records

Just weeks after a plan to sell "anonymized" sets of British health-records collapsed in the face of massive public criticism, a new plan has emerged to sell the country's tax records to companies and researchers, prompting an even more critical response. One Tory MP called the plan "borderline insane," and tax professionals are in an uproar. The plan was buried as a brief mention in the autumn budget. HMRC's defense rests on the idea that the information in the datasets will be anonymized, something that computer scientists widely believe is effectively impossible.

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Restoring CC attribution to Flickr, because Yahoo broke it

For years, Flickr has been one of the most important repositories of Creative Commons imagery in the world; now, thanks to a new design, it’s all but useless for serving and attributing the CC-licensed images it’s been entrusted with by museums, galleries, national archives, libraries, and millions of individuals.

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Private equity, an infection that is eating the world


In an amazing and terrifying essay called How to get beyond the parasite economy, Eric Garland describes how private equity infects industry after industry, sucking all productive capacity out of it through complex and fraudulent financial engineering, and abandoning the drained husk as it moves onto its next meal. Garland uses the case of Guitar Center as his example of this process in action, describing how Bain Capital bought and gutted Guitar Center, turning it into a financially complex, debt-riddled zombie that exists to float high-risk junk bonds to fill out the portfolios of the hyper-rich, without any connection to the real world of guitars, amplifiers and musicians.

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Yahoo beefs up security in two meaningful and important ways

Yahoo has taken some serious steps towards protecting user-privacy, writes the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Seth Schoen. After revelations that the NSA and GCHQ had hacked its services, intercepted private video-chats, and harvesting mass data from its fiber optic links, the company has added forward secrecy and STARTTLS to its roster of default-on security measures. Of the two, forward secrecy is the most interesting, as it protects the privacy of old intercepted Yahoo data even if the company loses control of its keys. Bravo, Yahoo! Cory 7

Big Data has big problems


Writing in the Financial Times, Tim Harford (The Undercover Economist Strikes Back, Adapt, etc) offers a nuanced, but ultimately damning critique of Big Data and its promises. Harford's point is that Big Data's premise is that sampling bias can be overcome by simply sampling everything, but the actual data-sets that make up Big Data are anything but comprehensive, and are even more prone to the statistical errors that haunt regular analytic science.

What's more, much of Big Data is "theory free" -- the correlation is observable and repeatable, so it is assumed to be real, even if you don't know why it exists -- but theory-free conclusions are brittle: "If you have no idea what is behind a correlation, you have no idea what might cause that correlation to break down." Harford builds on recent critiques of Google Flu (the poster child for Big Data) and goes further. This is your must-read for today.

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Why I don't believe in robots

My new Guardian column is "Why it is not possible to regulate robots," which discusses where and how robots can be regulated, and whether there is any sensible ground for "robot law" as distinct from "computer law."

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Animation: How Google views user privacy

Mark from Screen Novelties sends us "This little animation we did for Google regarding user privacy. We happened to direct this at the same time the whole Snowden/NSA stuff went down last year. Google finally decided to release this to the public a few days ago. Just wanted to share. It's done in stop motion to give the feeling of the old school board games."

Way of a Warrant