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NBA strikes a streaming deal with ESPN

Mon, 2014-10-06 11:45

The NBA announced a new deal with TV networks today that gives us a glimpse into what one aspect of the future of TV might be like. 

The deal, which kicks in two years from now, gives TNT, ABC and ESPN the rights to broadcast professional basketball games through 2025, and one part of that deal will allow ESPN to stream some games online to customers regardless of whether they have a pay-television subscription, allowing the channel to have a much more direct relationship with viewers.

But don’t rush to cut that cable cord just yet. ESPN’s move is a baby step, and we don’t really know yet in what direction.  

“What ESPN doesn’t want to do is compete with itself,” says Peter Kafka, a senior editor for Re/Code who covers media and technology. Kafka says ESPN is likely only going to offer live streams to basketball games that are not going to be broadcast on one of its channels. 

“What you're not going to be able to do is watch a full suite of NBA games without getting ESPN,” says Kafka. 

That’s because ESPN’s cable channels are its cash cow. The network gets about $6 per pay-TV customer, more than any other channel. 

At a Re/Code conference last month, ESPN’s CEO John Skipper signaled this latest move is a part of the company’s future, but would not replace its present business model, which relies on pay-TV subscriptions. 

“We have two big revenue streams: payments from distributors, advertising. We think about, are there sports events we can offer that the consumer will pay us directly?” Skipper said, adding that the live-streaming services he envisions would be a third revenue stream, but would offer content that’s different than what’s on the TV channels. 

“It is incumbent on the NBA and on ESPN to reach audiences that are attractive to advertisers,” says Rebecca Lieb, a media analyst at Altimeter Group. 

Lieb says among the most attractive and hard-to-reach audience for advertisers is the 18-to-33-year-old male demographic, which is increasingly cutting the cable cord. And yet, if this audience tries to live stream a sports game today, it would have to have a cable TV plan. 

“What I see in this deal is the beginning of a kind of uncoupling of that," Lieb says, predicting that other pay TV networks, such as HBO and Showtime, may also take steps away from a cable-only approach. 

Five ways a web series can make money

Mon, 2014-10-06 11:19

The web series "Frankenstein, MD" recasts Mary Shelley's titular doctor as "Vicky," fresh out of med school and vlogging with her assistant "Iggy," who only moans "yes, master" sarcastically. The show is born out of a partnership between PBS Digital Studios and Pemberley Digital, which made a name for itself with similar adaptations of Jane Austen novels.

Bernie Su developed "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" and "Emma Approved" — webcam updates on "Pride and Prejudice" and "Emma" respectively — and now "Frankenstein, MD." He says telling stories in four-to-five-minute increments "speaks to our modern culture."

“People want to just get in and get out, get in and get out,” says Su. “What’s challenging for that format for us is when you’re talking about a long story, like a grand narrative.”

But Pemberley Digital’s challenge is even bigger than that. The studio doesn't only update classic literature broken up into YouTube-able chunks, it creates shows with an eye toward building franchises and making real money, which isn't something all web-series creators can say.

Here are five ways Pemberley has turned its web series into a business, starting with "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries."

YouTube Ads

YouTube's partnership program allows Pemberley and other users to get a cut from ads shown before their videos.

Merchandise

The world of Lizzie Bennet and William Darcy has not only expanded to spinoff videos, but pins, a mug, posters and more.

Affiliate marketing

Similar to the YouTube ad program, if Su's company links to another website and that site makes a sale, Pemberley gets a piece.

DVDs

You can still stream "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries," but Pemberly has also put the series out on home video.

"We’ve sold, I believe now, 7,000 units," Su says. "Again, for a show that is available for free online, which is amazing.”

Book deal

Simon & Schuster published a novelization called "The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet," which retells the series as journal entries. For those keeping score at home, Su says, "Lizzie Bennet is now "a book based on the web series, which is based on a book.”  

Hewlett-Packard splits

Mon, 2014-10-06 10:08

Hewlett-Packard is splitting in two, the company confirmed this morning.  The printing and computer side of the business will go in one direction, and in the other direction will go... everything else, under the name HP Enterprise. 

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is a software and services business. It does advanced analytics, enterprise development and a number of other consulting services. 

The computer printer side is still grappling with the age of the tablet and smartphone, which hit the computer sector hard.

“Not only were consumers purchasing fewer desktops and laptops where HP was strong,” says Ross Rubin, principal analyst with Reticle Research, “but on the smartphones and tablets consumers were doing less printing because tablets can be taken with you and you can view the documents on the tablet itself instead of having to print it.”

The printer and computer side has stabilized over the past few years, and paid down some of its debt. Even so, the Enterprise group had higher margins, says Rubin.

“HP is splitting because there are two different directions and two segments of the business,” he says. “They have different market dynamics, different margin structures, different distribution systems.” HP Inc. (the computer-printer people) has a much bigger consumer-facing marketing component, whereas the Enterprise group is more consulting- and services-focused. 

Generally speaking, “independent companies can pursue what’s best for them rather than what a board of directors looking at various subsidiaries would be doing, and Wall Street tends to value that highly,” says Bill Caffee, a securities lawyer with White Summers Caffee and James. 

Investors who might’ve liked one side of HP but not the other will be free to invest in just the side they want, another reason why splitting can help valuations. Consumers won’t see much difference; computers and printers will keep the high-powered HP brand.  

Ebola is scaring people away from ERs

Mon, 2014-10-06 08:33

During the past few days, there has been no wait at Texas Health Presbyterian’s emergency room in Dallas. Usually, it takes about 45 minutes to see a doctor. But a week after a patient confirmed to have Ebola came through the ER, it’s not the most popular place.

“If I lived in Dallas and became ill, I would head straight for the Texas Health ER knowing that the waiting lines are so short,” Dr. Albert Wu says. Wu is professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  “I would bet that Texas Health is a safer hospital,” Wu says, “and their ED is safer than the other hospitals they would otherwise compete with.”

Wu says even if fear about catching Ebola is not always rational, the panic will have a short-term effect on business. “Emergency departments are certainly one of the main routes to getting hospital admissions," Wu says. "So for almost every big hospital, the emergency room is a crucial way to get patients.”

There are more than 80,000 visits to the ER at Texas Health Presbyterian each year. On average, an ER visit brings in anywhere from $150 to $1,000 in revenue, according to Dr. Angelo Falcone. That might not sound like a lot, but Falcone says if you multiply that by the number of patients that are not coming, it “dramatically affects both the hospital's and the group's bottom line.”

Falcone is CEO of Medical Emergency Professionals, which staffs emergency departments in Maryland and Connecticut. He says the real financial loss isn’t from not treating a broken arm or prescribing pills. It’s from not admitting a patient. Nearly half of hospital patients come through the ER. When you lose one of those customers, Falcone says it could be a loss of tens of thousands of dollars in revenue. Falcone says patients probably won’t avoid the hospital permanently, and fluctuations in patient numbers come with the territory. “It’s the nature of the beast,” he says. “In emergency medicine, you’ll have some days where all of a sudden all the patients show up and other days where it’s not quite as crazy.”

In the long run, Alex Wu at Johns Hopkins says Texas Health Presbyterian could actually benefit. “I’m not sure they’re going to make their reputation on ‘We do the best job curing Ebola cases, send them to us!’ but they are getting their name mentioned and that might not be a terrible thing,” he says.

Right now, we just have the hospital’s symptoms; the prognosis is uncertain.

The numbers for October 6, 2014

Mon, 2014-10-06 08:16

The crowd of protesters in Hong Kong reached 80,000 this weekend, organizers said. The pro-democracy movement and the government were still at a standoff on Monday morning, after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said he would "take all necessary actions to restore social order." The crackdown didn't materialize and protesters cleared a small path to the government headquarters as their ranks thinned. Quartz reported that neither side seems to have a clear plan.

Here are the stories we're reading, and other numbers we're watching, Monday.

55,000

That's the number of jobs HP says it will cut—5,000 more than expected—the New York Times reported. The bump comes amid the news that HP will split into two companies, one focused on business technology and the other focused on consumer hardware. 

$290

Bitcoin's value fell nearly 20 percent over the weekend to $290, the BBC reported. It's the sharpest drop yet in a steady decline for the online currency, which was worth more than $1,000 late last year. 

$6 billion

Meanwhile, the mobile payment market was roiling with rumors Monday. Square nabbed $150 million at a $6 billion valuation, but the Verge reported new cash might confirm Square is in trouble. Elsewhere in Silicon Valley, Facebook seems to be experimenting with peer-to-peer mobile payment. A few users found the functionality already hidden in the company's Messenger app, TechCrunch reported.

2016

That's when new episodes of David Lynch's cult hit "Twin Peaks" will debut on Showtime, 25 years after its original run. The Screen Wars rage on.

The FCC takes on illegal jamming

Mon, 2014-10-06 06:00

Last week, the FCC fined Marriott $600,000 for jamming guests’ Wi-Fi signals at one of its hotels. The Marriott Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, was operating software designed to protect networks from threats, but instead used it to disrupt and shut down the Wi-Fi hot spot that guests had set up in one of its conference rooms. Marriott charges up to $1,000 for setting up Wi-Fi hot spots of its own, but doesn’t bar people from using other Wi-Fi systems.

Marriott, for its part, says the hotel acted lawfully and that the FCC is vague about what kinds of jamming are allowed. The FCC seems to have been pretty clear for several years now that pretty much no jamming is permissible. Also, if you think you’re being jammed, they have an online tip line

Here are some of the creative ways people have been using signal jammers to mess with GPS, cellphones and Wi-Fi (and how they got busted for it).

1. If I can't talk to anyone on the bus, nobody will!

This guy used a jammer to keep people from chatting on the bus.  

2. Putting the "mute" in commute

A Florida man didn’t want people talking or texting while driving. So he put a jammer in his car to disrupt the phones of everyone who drove around him as he commuted to work each day. Unfortunately, he was also interfering with 911 signals. And people who were lawfully using a headset.  

3. Welcome to the People's Republic of Workistan

Employers seem to love jamming their employees' phones. Steel manufacturing companies do it. So do sewing companies.

4. You're not the boss of me

Employees have used jammers to fight back. This guy’s boss put GPS trackers in his truck to track his whereabouts and lunch breaks, so he got a jammer to disable it. Unfortunately, he also messed with planes landing and taking off at the airport.  

5. Jam tomorrow. Jam yesterday. But never jam today.

In the largest fine of the agency’s history, the FCC said it would assess a $34.9 million penalty against a Chinese signal jammer manufacturer for marketing its products in the U.S. over two years. It’s gone after smaller manufacturers as well, after jammers were found being used in a Texas cosmetology school and another disrupted communications in a sheriff’s office in Florida. As Mitchell Lazarus writes for CommLawBlog:

“Ironically, in both Texas and Florida, it is legal to openly carry firearms into a Starbucks, say. But not a phone jammer. So when the cell phone at the next table erupts into The William Tell Overture and its owner bellows, “HELLO? HEY! YEAH, IN A STARBUCKS! IT’S RAINING HERE! SO WHERE’RE YOU?” pulling out the jammer is not an option. It’s the firearm or nothing. This may not be good public policy.”

Another day, another corporate breakup

Mon, 2014-10-06 03:40

Another day, another corporate breakup. Hewlett-Packard confirmed today it will split into two companies. One will focus on personal computers and printers, and the other will focus, among other things, on the enterprise space of the cloud. It turns out HP is not the only old tech company that's been refocusing in a divergent tech landscape.

PODCAST: William Dudley on regulation and interest rates

Mon, 2014-10-06 03:00

It's the job of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to regulate powerful Wall Street banks. It's not the only regulator, of course, yet it's a crucial one. But has the New York Fed become too deferential to the financial institutions it watches over, too cozy? This question moved to the foreground after the public radio program This American Life with news organization ProPublica obtained audio recordings made secretly inside the New York Fed. The recordings were made by a then–New York Fed employee who would later sue for wrongful dismissal. William Dudley, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, joins us to discuss. He'll also talk about one of the most consequential economic decisions of the decade: when, at long last, to raise interest rates. That determination, which will have the effect of tapping the brakes of the economy, will revolve around how strong the labor market has become and whether prices are threatening to rise too quickly.

William Dudley on interest rates and regulatory scrutiny

Mon, 2014-10-06 02:00

As Marketplace celebrates its 25th birthday this year, we are looking at the surprising, sometimes delightful and sometimes destructive ways that prices have changed during that quarter century. And that means an examination of our old friend inflation.

William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, thinks a lot about inflation. He joined Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to talk about when to raise interest rates to thwart inflation, and why he thinks it's good to let the economy run "a little hot" before taking action.

Among the topics discussed, Dudley also addresses concerns that the New York Fed has become too deferential to the financial institutions it watches over. This question moved to the foreground after the public radio program This American Life—along with news organization ProPublica—obtained audio recordings made secretly inside the New York Fed. The recordings were made by a former New York Fed employee who later sued for wrongful dismissal. 

Click on the media player above to hear William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.

DB: From APM in NY, I’m David Brancaccio. It’s the job of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to regulate powerful Wall Street banks. It’s not the only regulator, of course, yet it’s a crucial one. But has the NY Fed become too deferential to the financial institutions it watches over? Too cozy?

This question moved to the foreground after the public radio program This American Life with news organization ProPublica obtained audio recordings made secretly inside the New York Fed. The recordings were made by a then NY Fed employee who would later sue for wrongful dismissal. Marketplace talked to the president and CEO of the NY Fed about this. William Dudley, thanks for joining us.

WD: Happy to be here.

DB: We all heard some tapes on the radio that make it sound like your team went soft on at least one big Wall Street firm that you’re supposed to be regulating. Is that not what you hear on the tapes?

WD: I completely stand behind the work and integrity of our staff. They’re operating completely in the public interest. That’s the first point I’d make. The second, improving supervision has been and remains a priority for me. When I became president of the bank in 2009, soon after that I commissioned Professor David Beim of Columbia to come in and do an evaluation of supervision.

DB: He did that big internal report that you got a look at that came out in some filings.

WD: That’s correct. And I basically told him, "Go anywhere you want, ask any questions you want, and tell me what you think about the state of play in supervision of the bank." And I think the record will show that we were actually quite responsive to the recommendations in the Beim report. We’ve had a significant reorganization within our supervision groups in terms of how we do supervision. We do a lot more horizontal and quantitative reviews. Examiner independence is completely paramount to how we run supervision. We try to ensure that independence by rotations, so people don’t stay within the same institution indefinitely. We rotate them every couple of years, but the real key is to look at what we’ve done. Is the banking system safer and sounder today than it was five years ago? And I think when you look at that you’ll see a whole bunch of things that the Federal Reserve system has done to make the banking system much safer and sounder. Higher cap rate requirements, higher liquidity requirements, capital surcharges for systemically important financial institutions…

DB: Here’s the thing though, we study it in poli-sci class, the tendency of government regulators to adopt the values of those they regulate. The watchdogs can become, what were we taught, captured. Now avoiding capture, it seems to me that it’s something that you don’t achieve once and for all. Isn’t it something that you have to continually fight against?

WD: In terms of the bank culture, this is something that you’re always… you never arrive at the destination of the culture you’re trying to strive for. We continue to work to have the best culture in the bank that we can possibly have. When I became president of the bank in January of 2009, I came back to the bank after an FOC meeting. We had a town hall. And I made it very clear then, in fact, the primary mantra of that address was “best idea wins.” And we continue to strive to make sure that is embedded in the culture of the bank.

DB: You saw what Senator Elizabeth Warren said in this statement, “When regulators care more about protecting big banks from accountability than they do about protecting American people from risky and illegal behavior on Wall Street it threatens our whole economy.” She and Senator Sherrod Brown have called for a congressional investigation. What do you think of the idea of an investigation given the stakes are quite high in this area?

WD: It’s the Congress' prerogative to investigate. If they want to investigate, we’re going to completely cooperate because we think the facts are very much on our side.

DB: Mr. Dudley is a regulator, but he’s also one of the guardians of America’s interest rates as a member of the Federal Reserve’s open market committee. In that regard, Dudley told me there is room to be patient before he would recommend raising interest rates to thwart inflation.

WD: We’re going to be assessing the progress towards our dual mandate objectives, maximum sustainable employment in the context of price stability. Right now we’re missing on both of our objectives. The unemployment rate is high and inflation is low relative to a target of 2 percent. It calls for a very accommodative monetary policy. Now, if the economy evolves as most people are hoping over the next year, hopefully we’ll get to a point where we actually can raise interest rates in 2015, and I would be delighted if that could be the case.

DB: You would be delighted to raise interest rates if that’s the case? Why?

WD: In other words, if the economy is strong enough and we’re closer to our objectives, raising interest rates would be a sign of success. So it would actually be good news.

DB: I saw you said that you would be willing to let the economy run a little hot, those were your words, in the interest of the economy being healthy. What did you mean by that?

WD: A lot of people that are currently long-term unemployed, they’ve been out of work for a very long time. This is obviously very bad for them, but it’s also very bad for the economy as a whole. Allowing the economy to run a little hot would make it more likely that inflation would actually move up towards the 2 percent objective. And two, it would pull some of these long-term unemployed back into the workforce. Getting these people employed is critical to the long-term health of the economy, because if they’re not employed over the next year or two, they’re going to lose their job skills and become unemployable.

DB: Does this make you a dove, sir? On the question of inflation.

WD: I don’t think so. I’m reacting completely to the Fed's mandate objectives. We’re trying obviously to hit 2 percent, but we’re not going to hit it precisely. We should be spending some time a little below it and a little above it. It’s not a ceiling.

DB: Inflation is an odd thing though. It’s often in the eye of the beholder. The consumer price index is telling us there’s hardly a dram of inflation, but if you have medical bills or you’re sending a kid to college, prices might be going up and your household budget might be under pressure even now.

WD: That’s absolutely correct. I think people experience inflation in different ways depending on their particular circumstances and what people are experiencing. Inflation is also relevant to what’s happening on the income side of the ledger. If your income is rising at a decent clip, then 1.5 percent inflation is very manageable, but if your incomes are stagnant or declining then 1.5 percent inflation is a problem for individuals.

DB: William Dudley, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, thank you very much for the time.

WD: Thank you.

Charitable giving not keeping up with highest incomes

Mon, 2014-10-06 02:00

Are the rich getting less generous? A new report from the Chronicle of Philanthropy finds that while overall giving is up, the wealthiest Americans are giving a smaller share of their wealth to charity. Meanwhile, the less well-off are giving away more of what they earn.

The Chronicle looked at tax returns for those who itemized deductions in 2012. Those earning more than $200,000 a year gave 4.6 percent less of their income to charity than they gave in 2006, before the recession. Americans making less than $100,000 gave 4.5 percent more.

As the rich have grown richer—partly from stock market gains—their giving hasn’t kept pace, says Chronicle of Philanthropy editor Stacy Palmer. Meanwhile, those closer to poverty have been more willing to dig deeper.

“People realize that they themselves are just one step away from possibly being homeless or jobless,” she says. “The more affluent people just aren’t as close to those folks.”

The biggest decline was in North Dakota, where residents gave away 16 percent less of their income in 2012.

That’s largely because incomes have grown so dramatically from the state’s oil boom, says Kevin Dvorak, president of the North Dakota Community Foundation.

For the newly wealthy, he says, it takes time “to kind of wrap your mind around, 'Yes, all of my needs are going to be met and beyond, and now I have the ability to give as I never did before.’”

Overall, though, he says most charities in the state will tell you they’re faring much better.

A conversation with William Dudley

Mon, 2014-10-06 02:00

As Marketplace celebrates its 25th birthday this year, we are looking at the surprising, sometimes delightful and sometimes destructive ways that prices have changed during that quarter century. And that means an examination of our old friend inflation.

William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, thinks a lot about inflation. He joined Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to talk about when to raise interest rates to thwart inflation, and why he thinks it's good to let the economy run "a little hot" before taking action.

Among the topics discussed, Dudley also addresses concerns that the New York fed has become too deferential to the financial institutions it watches over. This question moved to the foreground after the public radio program This American Life—along with news organization ProPublica—obtained audio recordings made secretly inside the New York Fed. The recordings were made by a then-New York Fed employee who would later sue for wrongful dismissal. 

Audio from this interview is forthcoming.

Life under ISIS rule

Fri, 2014-10-03 14:12

As you may know, the U.S. and its partners are bombing ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.

One story you don't often hear is what all this means for people's lives in the war zone, their abilities to feed their kids, run their businesses, and get through the day.

With our partners at the BBC, we have the story of Saed Toma Sliwa, a Christian who was living in the Northern Iraqi town of Bartella, when he heard ISIS was approaching.

Saed and his faily now sleep on the floor of an abandoned building in suburb of Irbil, which is in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. It's crowded with other people who've fled ISIS, And he has to fight for basic necessities like ice, which gets delivered on the back of truck.

Saed and his family abandoned their livelihoods, both he and his wife left businesses ... and thousands of dollars in savings.

One in seven U.S. homes is food insecure

Fri, 2014-10-03 13:52

That latest job report shows one of the most persistent disconnects in the economy.

The unemployment rate fell below 6 percent for the first time since July 2008, but people are still struggling. They're either dropping out of the labor force or can only get a part-time job.

Here's an interesting trend. That share of the population, what's known as the U6 rate, tracks pretty closely with the share of Americans who receive food assistance through the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

(via USDA)

More than 45 million Americans are a part of SNAP, but the gains in the jobs report don't seem to make that budge at the ground level.

And how people spend their SNAP money is just part of the debate in Washington over food stamp spending. In January, Congress voted to cut 8.6 billion dollars from SNAP over the next ten years, despite a new report from the agriculture department saying one in seven Americans is food insecure.

That means, in those households, at least one family member goes without the recommended number of meals.

We visited a food pantry in the Bronx in New York to put food insecurity in context. Click play above to hear more about food insecurity in the U.S.

Have you cut out the middle man?

Fri, 2014-10-03 12:43

Buying ... selling ... when have you skipped the middle man, and just done it yourself? Your car, house, or ... Self-publishing your novel?

Did it work or was it a disaster?

We want to hear from you on marketplaceweekend.org, email or on Twitter @MarketplaceWKND

Yahoo thinks disappearing images are here to stay

Fri, 2014-10-03 12:12

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has apparently figured out what she wants to do with some of the billions her company made from the Alibaba IPO a couple of weeks ago.

There are reports today that Yahoo is going to take a stake in Snapchat, the app that lets users send messages that disappear after a couple of seconds.

No word on exactly how much, but it values the startup at $10 billion.

And yes, Yahoo is a company on the ropes, buying a company that makes things disappear... fill in the blank with your own joke here.

Giving authors a shot at writing the movie script

Fri, 2014-10-03 12:06

It’s a big weekend for novelists-turned-screenwriters.

There's "Gone Girl" from writer Gillian Flynn.

 "The Drop," a crime drama from author Dennis Lehane.

And "This Is Where I Leave You," a star-studded story about a dysfunctional family, from author Jonathan Tropper.

 

"Adapting your own book for a film is kind of like doing surgery on your own child,” says Tropper.  He says adapting his novel for the screen was a long and painful process.  But one, he says, he wanted to do himself. “You get really protective of these characters, these stories,” says Tropper, “Even with good writers you don’t want to see them take your stuff apart.”

Authors often want the job. They know the story best, and there can be big money in writing the screenplay if the movie is a hit. 

But, Hollywood typically shrugs them off.

“The studio or the production company will frequently prefer to have it adapted by a well known, proven screenwriter,” says Robert Zipser, a Hollywood entertainment attorney. He says writing for print is a different skill than writing for the screen. Also, says Zipser, with a known writer there’s a better chance the movie will actually get made.

“The involvement of an A-list screen screenwriter can also help attract cast and director to the movie.”

If authors still want to elbow their way onto the set, literary agent Rebecca Friedman says it helps to write a best-seller or several. “The more successful the book is the more likely it is that the author will get to write the screenplay,” says Friedman.

It also doesn’t hurt if you know your way around a script. Tropper and Lehane both have TV credits.

But at the end of the day, studios want to minimize risk. And the success of a few movies using authors as screenwriters  isn’t going to change that script.

Weekend Brunch: Ebola Drug? Netflix moving into movies, Tetris!

Fri, 2014-10-03 11:55

This week, Lizzie O'Leary sits down for brunch with Ben Walsh from the Huffington Post, and Celine Gounder, doctor and freelance medical journalist, to discuss the economic news of last week and what's on their plate this week (get it?).

Topics:

Meet the drug companies fighting Ebola

Wealth Rankings: Today's Winners and Losers

Here’s Why Netflix Wants Adam Sandler Even Though Critics Trash His Movies

Tetris! The Movie

 

 

How do you perceive time? Jump off a building and see

Fri, 2014-10-03 11:36

David Eagleman is a scientist who asks people to jump off of buildings. 

No, he's not an evil villain (as far as we know). He's a neuroscientist at the Baylor College of Medicine who studies time. 

As a boy, Eagleman fell off his roof, and had that classic film-reel experience of time slowing down, even though the fall took less than a second. Ever since, he has been interested in how the brain perceives time. 

In the experiment, Eagleman built what he calls a "perceptual chronometer," essentially giant flashing numbers that subject saw as they fell 150 feet toward a giant net. 

"I can measure the speed at which you're seeing the world, so I could figure out if people were actually seeing in slow motion, like Neo in The Matrix, or whether it was just a trick of memory, retrospectively." 

As it turns out, it was a trick of memory. People falling, or in the midst of a car crash, lay down memory more densely than in the average moment, Eagleman concluded.

"So when you read that back out you think, 'wow, that must have taken a really long time.'" 

It's not only freak accidents that pass in milliseconds. Super-speedy automated systems have become staples of our economy, from high frequency trading to commercial airplanes to the profuse streaming video libraries online.

"It's happening at a scale we can't perceive," Eagleman said, pondering an ever-more sci-fi future. "Maybe someday we'll fight our wars that way. We'll have drones fighting. World War III will be over in a tenth of a second... and we'll see who won."

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.

How a bank knows it has been hacked

Fri, 2014-10-03 09:43

Hackers got into JPMorgan Chase’s network over the summer, and according to the bank, that breach compromised 76 million households and seven million small businesses. The bank says there is no evidence hackers got a hold of account information, just names and addresses, e-mails and phone numbers, but those data are valuable. 

Companies often learn their systems have been breached from third parties. According to Anton Chuvakin, a vice president in Gartner’s security and risk management group, law enforcement will call if they spot stolen data on underground forums.

“Oh, by the way, we are seeing your data here," might be the message from law enforcement, he says. "What’s up with that?”

These days, big banks spend big on their own security. JPMorgan has allocated $250 million.

When a bank discovers a breach, “you’re going to have a big senior management powwow,” says Julie Conroy, research director for the Aite Group’s retail banking practice, who covers data security. Management will put into place a “security incident response plan,” “and the forensic analysis is very much like what you see at a crime scene,” she says.

It’s methodical, and according to Martin Lindner, a cybersecurity specialist at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, banks keep logs of everything that happens on their servers. “So, in theory, they can go back to all those logs, replay them, and see what happened that was the thing that appears to be nefarious,” he explains. That is a lot of information, and going through that is time consuming.

Forensics is just one part of a “security incident response plan.” There is also remediation and communication. With this breach, tens of millions of people are at risk. Lawrence Baxter, the William B. McGuire Professor of the Practice of Law at Duke University, says hackers could use what they have gathered to phish for more information using, say, an official-looking e-mail message.

“You may only get a half of one percent of the customer base fooled by it, but that’s enough,” he says, to cause more damage to customers’ bank accounts, and also to the bank’s reputation.

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