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Lenovo: Motorola Acquisition 'Did Not Meet Expectations'

5/26/2016 12:05pm
Lenovo acquired Motorola from Google in 2014. Since then, the Chinese technology conglomerate has been trying to merge Motorola's offering into its large portfolio. But things aren't going as planned. Lenovo on Thursday announced that the "integration efforts did not meet expectations". The company, however, insists that it has drawn many lessons from the experience since the close of the Motorola acquisition, and it is making changes to them quickly. It's not the best time in the market if you're an Android smartphone maker. There's an increasingly growing competition especially from companies such as Xiaomi, Meizu, Micromax, Yu and others that are making premium smartphones with a razor-thin margin. Any unique feature a smartphone maker introduces is seen replicated in others' offerings within weeks.

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Comcast Users Must Now Pay $50 Per Month Extra To Avoid Caps

5/26/2016 11:25am
Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReports: In a letter being sent to Comcast customers in usage capped markets, the company says that with the recent announcement of usage caps being bumped to 1 terabyte, the company is also capping the amount of additional charges capped users can incur -- to $200 in a single month. As it stands, customers that cross the 1 terabyte limit face overage fees of $10 per each additional 50 GB consumed. But under the revised plans, customers have to pay $50 (up from $30 to $35) extra per month to avoid usage caps entirely. "Because you are an unlimited data customer, we will maintain your current rate of $35 until the end of 2016," the letter reads. Comcast's recent decision to bump their caps to 1 terabyte weren't driven by altruism. With the FCC preventing Charter from imposing caps for seven years as a merger condition, the agency has signaled that it may start getting more serious about cracking down on usage caps in the broadband market.

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Get Ready To Be Bombarded With Ads When Using Google Maps

5/26/2016 10:45am
An anonymous reader writes: The chance to squeeze some extra advertising dollars is something rarely missed by Google. This week the company quietly announced changes to two of its most widely used services, offering businesses the chance to pay for featured advertisements in Google.com and Google Maps. In a blog post, Google senior ads vice president Sridhar Ramaswamy outlined the likely changes to Google Maps that will see users met with pop-up ads for local businesses when they use the GPS-based app. The announcement has been facetiously described online as "the Ad-pocalypse" but Google has shown more tact in their use of language, referring to the ads as "promoted pins".

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Adidas To Sell Robot-Made Shoes In Germany

5/26/2016 10:05am
Adidas, the German sportswear and equipment maker, has announced that it will start marketing the first series of sports shoes manufactured by robots in Germany from 2017. Deutsche Welle reports: The announcement came as Adidas unveiled its prototype "Speedfactory", a state-of-the-art, 4,600 square-meter facility meant to automate shoe production, which is largely done manually in Asian factories at the moment. The company has struggled with steadily rising wages across the continent, where it employs around a million people. Still, Adidas insisted that the aim was not to immediately replace their workers, saying the goal was not "full automatization".

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American Schools Teaching Kids To Code All Wrong

5/26/2016 9:00am
theodp writes: Over at Quartz, Globaloria CEO Idit Harel argues that American schools are teaching our kids how to code all wrong. She writes, "The light and fluffy version of computer science -- which is proliferating as a superficial response to the increased need for coders in the workplace -- is a phenomenon I refer to as 'pop computing.' While calling all policy makers and education leaders to consider 'computer science education for all' is a good thing, the coding culture promoted by Code.org and its library of movie-branded coding apps provide quick experiences of drag-and-drop code entertainment. This accessible attraction can be catchy, it may not lead to harder projects that deepen understanding." You mean the "first President to write a line of computer code" may not have progressed much beyond moving Disney Princess Elsa forward? Harel says there must be a distinction drawn between "coding tutorials" and learning "computer science." Building an app, for example, can't be done in a couple of hours, it "requires multi-dimensional learning contexts, pathways and projects." "Just as would-be musicians become proficient by listening, improvising and composing, and not just by playing other people's compositions, so would-be programmers become proficient by designing prototypes and models that work for solving real problems, doing critical thinking and analysis, and creative collaboration -- none of which can be accomplished in one hour of coding," she writes.

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Xiaomi Unveils Budget-Friendly Mi Drone, $460 For 4K Or $380 For 1080p

5/26/2016 6:00am
An anonymous reader writes: Chinese consumer electronics company Xiaomi has officially journeyed into the drones product category. The Xiaomi Mi Drone is a quadcopter with a three-axis gimbal, 4K camera, and a remote control that uses your Mi smartphone as a viewfinder. The 4K version retails for about $460 while the 1080p model retails for about $380. When compared to drones from DJI or Yuneec, the Mi Drone seriously undercuts them as they typically retail for more than $1,000. Some other features of the Mi Drone center around modularity and serviceability -- the camera module and rotors are detachable. The 5,100 mAh battery that Xiaomi claims can last 27 minutes of continuous flight time on a single charge is also replaceable. It uses GPS and GLONASS for positioning. It even features a visual positioning system on the rear that allows itself to remain stable when flying at low altitudes in environments where a satellite signal cannot be reached. Some of the autonomous flight modes include: takeoff, landing, return to home, waypoint navigation and orbit, with the ability to create a geofence to limit its movement. The 1080p Mi Drone "will be crowdfunded on the Mi Hope app starting May 26, 2016," while the 4K Mi Drone "will be available for testing via an open beta program at the end of July." With such an affordable price tag relative to the competition, the Xiaomi Mi Drone may help increase revenues for the company whose sales barely grew last year.

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Tor To Use Distributed RNG To Generate Truly Random Numbers

5/26/2016 3:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Softpedia: Tor developers have been working on the next iteration of the Tor network and its underbelly, the Onion routing protocol, in order to create a stronger, harder-to-crack anonymous communications system. To advance the project, the developer team schedules brainstorming and planning meetings at regular intervals. The most recent of these meetings took place last week, in Montreal, Canada. In this session, the team tested the next generation of the Tor network working on top of a revamped Onion protocol that uses a new algorithm for generating random numbers, never before seen on the Internet. The Tor Project says it created something it calls "a distributed RNG" (random number generator) that uses two or more computers to create random numbers and then blends their outputs together into a new random number. The end result is something that's almost impossible to crack without knowing which computers from a network contributed to the final random number, and which entropy each one used. Last week, two University of Texas academics have made a breakthrough in random number generation. The work is theoretical, but could lead to a number of advances in cryptography, scientific polling, and the study of various complex environments such as the climate.

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Researchers Teaching Robots To Feel and React To Pain

5/25/2016 11:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Leibniz University of Hannover in Germany are developing what they call an "artificial robot nervous system" that would allow robots to "feel" pain and react accordingly so they can avoid potential damages to their components. According to IEEE, the system uses a "nervous robot-tissue model that is inspired by the human skin structure" to measure different pain levels and move the robot in a way that prevents damaging interactions. [The model transmits pain information in repetitive spikes if the force exceeds a certain threshold, and the pain controller reacts after classifying the information into light, moderate, or severe pain.] Johannes Kuehn, one of the researchers, argues that in addition to avoiding potential damages to their components, robots will be protecting humans as well, since a growing number of them will be operating in close proximity to human workers. Kuehn, who worked on the project with Professor Sami Haddadin, reasoned that if our biological mechanisms to sense and respond to pain are so effective, why not devise a bio-inspired robot controller that mimics those mechanisms?

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Microsoft May Ban Your Favorite Password

5/25/2016 9:25pm
wiredmikey writes from a report via SecurityWeek.Com: Microsoft is taking a step to better protect users by banning the use of weak and commonly-used passwords across its services. Microsoft has announced that it is dynamically banning common passwords from Microsoft Account and Azure Active Directory (AD) system. In addition to banning commonly used passwords to improve user account safety, Microsoft has implemented a feature called smart password lockout, meant to add an extra level of protection when an account is attacked. [Alex Weinert, Group Program Manager of Azure AD Identity Protection team explains in a blog post that] Microsoft is seeing more than 10 million accounts being attacked each day, and that this data is used to dynamically update the list of banned passwords. This list is then used to prevent people from choosing a common or similar password. Microsoft's new feature comes after last week's leak of 117 million LinkedIn credentials.

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FCC Formalizes Massive Fines For Selling, Using Cell-Phone Jammers

5/25/2016 8:40pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: Two years ago the FCC announced its intention to fine a Chinese electronics maker $34.9 million and a Florida man $48,000 for respectively selling and using illegal cell-phone jammers. Today the agency has issued press releases telling us that those fines have finally been made official, without either of the offending parties having bothered to mount a formal defense of their actions. From the press release announcing the fine against CTS. Technology: "[...] The company's website falsely claimed that some jammers had been approved by the FCC, and advertised that the company could ship signal jammers to consumers in the United States." The company did not respond to the FCC's allegations, although the agency does report that changes were made to its website that appear to be aimed at complying with U.S. law. Next up is Florida man, Jason R. Humphreys, who is alleged to have used a jammer on his commute: "Mr. Humphreys' illegal operation of the jammer continued for up to two years, caused interference to cellular service along Interstate 4, and disrupted police communications." Last Fall, a Chicagoan was arrested for using a cell-phone jammer to make his subway commute more tolerable.

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The Pirate Bay Sails Back To Its<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.ORG Domain

5/25/2016 7:55pm
An anonymous reader writes: Following a report that the Swedish Court would seize the domain names 'ThePirateBay.se' and 'PirateBay.se,' The Pirate Bay is now sailing back to where it started in 2003, ThePirateBay.org. CNET reports: "The site is currently redirecting all traffic from the above two domains back to its .org home." In 2012, The Pirate Bay moved to the .se domain. It then moved to more secure domains, such as .sx and .ac, eventually returning to .se in 2015. Every alternative domain the site was using has been seized. Since the registry that manages the top level .org domains is based in Virginia, it's likely we'll see some legal action from the U.S. in response to the move. Meanwhile, Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij plans to appeal the Swedish's court's decision to seize the .se domains.

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CentOS Linux 6.8 Released

5/25/2016 7:10pm
An anonymous reader writes: CentOS team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of CentOS Linux 6.8 and install media for i386 and x86_64 Architectures. Release Notes for 6.8 are available here. Softpedia writes: "CentOS Linux 6.8 arrives today with major changes, among which we can mention the latest Linux 2.6.32 kernel release from upstream with support for storing up to 300TB of data on XFS filesystems. The VPN endpoint solution implemented in the NetworkManager network connection manager utility is now provided on the libreswan library instead of the Openswan IPsec implementation used in previous release of the OS, and it looks like the SSLv2 protocol has been disabled by default for the SSSD (System Security Services Daemon), which also comes with support for smart cards now." In addition, the new release comes with updated applications, including the LibreOffice 4.3.7 office suite and Squid 3.4 caching and forwarding web proxy, many of which are supporting the Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.2 protocol, including Git, YUM, Postfix, OpenLDAP, stunnel, and vsftpd. The dmidecode open-source tool now supports SMBIOS 3.0.0, you can now pull kickstart files from HTTPS (Secure HTTP) sources, the NTDp (Network Time Protocol daemon) package has an alternative solution as chrony, SSLv3 has been disabled by default, and there's improved support for Hyper-V.

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State Dept. IT Staff Told To Keep Quiet About Clinton's Server

5/25/2016 6:25pm
dcblogs writes this report from Computerworld: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's decision to use a private email server ran afoul of the government's IT security and record retention requirements, according to a report by the department's inspector general released today. This use of a private email server did not go unnoticed within the Department of State's IT department. Two IT staff members who raised concerns about Clinton's use of a private server were told not to speak of it. Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 and during that period she used a private email server in her New York home. This report by the Department of State's Inspector General about Clinton's use of a private server makes clear that rules and regulations were not followed. It says that Clinton would not have received approval for this server had she sought it. According to the current CIO, the report said, "Secretary Clinton had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business with their offices, who in turn would have attempted to provide her with approved and secured means that met her business needs." However, the report notes, according to these officials, The Bureau of Diplomatic Security and IRM (Bureau of Information Resource Management) "did not -- and would not -- approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct Department business, because of the restrictions in the FAM [Foreign Affairs Manual] and the security risks in doing so."

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US Military Uses 8-Inch Floppy Disks To Coordinate Nuclear Force Operations

5/25/2016 5:40pm
An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNBC: A new report reveals the U.S. Defense Department is still using 8-inch floppy disks in a computer system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation's nuclear forces. The Defense Department's 1970s-era IBM Series/1 Computer and long-outdated floppy disks handle functions related to intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers and tanker support aircraft, according to the new Governmental Accountability Office report. The report shows how outdated IT systems are being used to handle important functions related to the nation's taxpayers, federal prisoners and military veterans, as well as to the America's nuclear umbrella. "Federal legacy IT systems are becoming increasingly obsolete: Many use outdated software languages and hardware parts that are unsupported," the report found. "Agencies reported using several systems that have components that are, in some cases, at least 50 years old." From the report: "GAO pointed out that aging systems include the Treasury Department's 'individual master file,' which is the authoritative data source for individual taxpayers. It's used to assess taxes and generates refunds. That file 'is written in assembly language code -- a low-level computer code that is difficult to write and maintain -- and operates on an IBM mainframe,' the report said." The report also mentioned that several other departments, such as the departments of Treasury, Commerce, Health and Human Services and the Veterans' Administration, "reported using 1980s and 1990s Microsoft operating systems that stopped being supported by the vendor more than a decade ago."

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Google Built an Escape Room, Making People Use Its Apps To Get Out

5/25/2016 4:55pm
An anonymous reader writes: Google France has built an escape room created by We Are Social, called "Premiere Piece," that will open in the heart of Paris. Adweek writes: "The campaign builds on the escape room trend, in which you and a bunch of friends pay to get locked in a room for an hour or two, left to solve puzzles and work in collaboration to find a way out. In 40 minutes, you must solve puzzles with help from apps like Search, Maps, Translate, Photos, Art and Culture and Cardboard, all of which are integrated into the gameplay. In Premiere Piece, visitors must help save a crew of digital artists locked in a workshop, so they can present their painstaking work at an art center in Paris. By working together, participants must unlock an object that completes their masterpiece." Google France was in the news recently for being raided by investigators for unpaid taxes.

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Former McDonald's USA CEO: $35K Robots Cheaper Than Hiring at $15 Per Hour

5/25/2016 4:10pm
An anonymous reader shares an article on Fox Business: As fast-food workers across the country vie for $15 per hour wages, many business owners have already begun to take humans out of the picture. "I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry -- it's cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who's inefficient making $15 an hour (warning: autoplaying video) bagging French fries -- it's nonsense and it's very destructive and it's inflationary and it's going to cause a job loss across this country like you're not going to believe," said former McDonald's USA CEO Ed Rensi during an interview on the FOX Business Network's Mornings with Maria. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.3 million people earned the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour with about 1.7 million having wages below the federal minimum in 2014. These three million workers combined made up 3.9 percent of all hourly paid workers.

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Google To Bring Official Android Support To the Raspberry Pi 3

5/25/2016 3:35pm
An anonymous reader shares an Ars Technica report: The Raspberry Pi 3 is not hurting for operating system choices. The tiny ARM computer is supported by several Linux distributions and even has a version of Windows 10 IoT core available. Now, it looks like the Pi is about to get official support for one of the most popular operating systems out there: Android. In Google's Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repository, a new device tree recently popped up for the Raspberry Pi 3. The AOSP device tree contains mostly Nexus devices with the occasional "generic" entry or developer board tossed into the mix. It's rare to see a non-Google device in AOSP, so it seems Google has taken quite a shine to the tiny computer. With officially supported source code, it should be much easier for hackers to get Android up and running on the Pi 3. And once that's done, you should be able to sideload more than 1.5 million apps onto the Pi to make the device do whatever you want.

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Google Steps Up Pressure on Partners Tardy in Updating Android

5/25/2016 3:10pm
Google is actively tracking the time its partner OEMs take to release a new version of Android onto their devices. According to a Bloomberg report, the company is drawing up rankings that could shame some phone makers into better behavior. From the report: Google shared this list with Android partners earlier this year. It has discussed making it public to highlight proactive manufacturers and shame tardy vendors through omission from the list, two of the people said. [...] Google is making progress persuading phone makers and carriers to install security updates quicker "for the good of users," Android chief Hiroshi Lockheimer said. The same expedited process may then be used to send operating system updates to phones, he explained. The most challenging discussions are with carriers, which can be slow to approve updates because they test them thoroughly to avoid network disruption. The report adds that several OEMs are also stepping up their game to better comply with Google's new wishes. Motorola, for instance, is working on offering quarterly updates to its three years old devices. For users with non-Nexus devices, it's really frustrating to wait for months, and in some cases, years, before their devices from Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, HTC and other manufacturers get upgraded to a newer version of Android. Another challenge for Google is to push its partners to actively release updates to affordable and mid-range smartphones. Many OEMs mostly worry about serving those users who have the flagship and high-end models.

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Microsoft Backtracks On 'Nasty Trick' Upgrade To Windows 10

5/25/2016 2:30pm
Reader Raging Bool writes: Days after angering many users with its so-called "nasty trick", Microsoft has reversed its crazy decision to infuriate users by upgrading them to Windows 10 automatically. Users were angry that clicking the cross to dismiss the box meant that they had agreed to the upgrade. Based on "customer feedback", Microsoft said it would add another notification that provided customers with "an additional opportunity for cancelling the upgrade". Microsoft told the BBC it had modified the pop-up as a result of criticism: "We've added another notification that confirms the time of the scheduled upgrade and provides the customer an additional opportunity for cancelling or rescheduling the upgrade. If the customer wishes to continue with their upgrade at the designated time, they can click 'OK' or close the notifications with no further action needed."

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Genius' Web Annotations Undermined Web Security

5/25/2016 1:50pm
New reader BradyDale shares an article on the Verge: Until early May, when The Verge confidentially disclosed the results of my independent security tests, the "web annotator" service provided by the tech startup Genius had been routinely undermining a web browser security mechanism. The web annotator is a tool which essentially republishes web pages in order to let Genius users leave comments on specific passages. In the process of republishing, those annotated pages would be stripped of an optional security feature called the Content Security Policy, which was sometimes provided by the original version of the page. This meant that anyone who viewed a page with annotations enabled was potentially vulnerable to security exploits that would have been blocked by the original site. Though no specific victims have been identified, the potential scope of this bug was broad: it was applied to all Genius users, undermined any site with a Content Security Policy, and re-enabled all blocked JavaScript code. Vijith Assar dives deep into how Genius did this :The primary way Genius annotations are accessed on the web is by adding "genius.it" in front of any URL as a prefix. The genius.it server reads the original content behind the scenes, adds the annotations, and delivers the hybrid content. The Genius version of the page includes a few extra scripts and highlighted passages, but until recently it also eliminated the original page's Content Security Policy. The Content Security Policy is an optional set of instructions encoded in the header of the HTTP connection which tells browsers exactly which sites and servers should be considered safe -- any code which isn't from one of those sites can then be ignored.

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