Android

Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer 80

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-bet-they-can dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An editorial at Tom's Hardware makes the case that Google's Android fragmentation problem has gotten too big to ignore any longer. Android 5.0 Lollipop and its successor 5.1 have seen very low adoption rates — 9.0% and 0.7% respectively. Almost 40% of users are still on KitKat. 6% lag far behind on Gingerbread and Froyo. The article points out that even Microsoft is now making efforts to both streamline Windows upgrades and adapt Android (and iOS) apps to run on Windows.

If Google doesn't adapt, "it risks having users (slowly but surely) switch to more secure platforms that do give them updates in a timely manner. And if users want those platforms, OEMs will have no choice but to switch to them too, leaving Google with less and less Android adoption." The author also says OEMs and carriers can no longer be trusted to handle operating system updates, because they've proven themselves quite incapable of doing so in a reasonable manner.
Portables

Ask Slashdot: Most Chromebook-Like Unofficial ChromeOS Experience? 62

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-company-to-pay-for-it-wink-wink dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I am interested in Chromebooks, for the reasons that Google successfully pushes them: my carry-around laptops serve mostly as terminals, rather than CPU-heavy workhorses, and for the most part the whole reason I'm on my computer is to do something that requires a network connection anyhow. My email is Gmail, and without particularly endorsing any one element, I've moved a lot of things to online services like DropBox. (Some offline capabilities are nice, but since actual Chromebooks have been slowly gaining offline stuff, and theoretically will gain a lot more of that, soon, I no longer worry much about a machine being "useless" if the upstream connection happens to be broken or absent. It would just be useless in the same way my conventional desktop machine would be.) I have some decent but not high-end laptops (Core i3, 2GB-4GB of RAM) that I'd enjoy repurposing as Chromebooks without pedigree: they'd fall somewhat short of the high-end Pixel, but at no out-of-pocket expense for me unless I spring for some cheap SSDs, which I might.

So: how would you go about making a Chromebook-like laptop? Yes, I could just install any Linux distro, and then restrain myself from installing most apps other than a browser and a few utilities, but that's not quite the same; ChromeOS is nicely polished, and very pared down; it also seems to do well with low-memory systems (lots of the current models have just 2GB, which brings many Linux distros to a disk-swapping crawl), and starts up nicely quick.

It looks like the most "authentic" thing would be to dive into building Chromium OS (which looks like a fun hobby), but I'd like to find something more like Cr OS — only Cr OS hasn't been updated in quite a while. Perhaps some other browser-centric pared-down Linux would work as well. How would you build a system? And should I go ahead and order some low-end 16GB SSDs, which I now see from online vendors for less than $25?
Microsoft

Microsoft: No More 'Patch Tuesday' For Windows 10 Home Users 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-more-patchy-coverage dept.
citpyrc writes: According to the Register, Microsoft is making some changes to how it rolls out updates in Windows 10. Home users will receive updates as they come out, rather than queueing them all up on "patch Tuesday." Business users will have the option to set their own update cycle, so they can see if any of the patches accidentally break anything for home users before trying them out. There will also be an optional peer-to-peer updating mechanism for Windows 10. Microsoft announced a service called Advanced Threat Analytics, which employs various machine learning techniques to identify malware on a network. As a premium service, top-dollar customers can pay for Microsoft to monitor black-hat forums and alert the company if any of its employees' identities are stolen.
Communications

How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text 144

Posted by timothy
from the message-could-not-be-lawfullly-transcribed dept.
Presto Vivace writes: Dan Froomkin reports at The Intercept: "Though perfect transcription of natural conversation apparently remains the Intelligence Community's 'holy grail,' the Snowden documents describe extensive use of keyword searching as well as computer programs designed to analyze and 'extract' the content of voice conversations, and even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest." I am torn between admiration of the technical brilliance of building software like this and horror as to how it is being used. It can't just be my brother and me who like to salt all phone conversations with interesting keywords.
Earth

Recent Paper Shows Fracking Chemicals In Drinking Water, Industry Attacks It 270

Posted by timothy
from the they-never-factor-in-the-tastiness dept.
eldavojohn writes: A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences turned up 2-Butoxyethanol from samples collected from three households in Pennsylvania. The paper's level headed conclusion is that more conservative well construction techniques should be used to avoid this in the future and that flowback should be better controlled. Rob Jackson, another scientist who reviewed the paper, stressed that the findings were an exception to normal operations. Despite that, the results angered the PR gods of the Marcellus Shale Gas industry and awoke beltway insider mouthpieces to attack the research — after all, what are they paying them for?
Windows

Single Verizon IP Address Used For Hundreds of Windows 7 Activations 287

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-might-want-to-tone-it-down-a-little dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this story from TorrentFreak: A presumed pirate with an unusually large appetite for activating Windows 7 has incurred the wrath of Microsoft. In a lawsuit filed [in] a Washington court, Microsoft said that it logged hundreds of suspicious product activations from a single Verizon IP address and is now seeking damages. ... Who he, she or they are behind address 74.111.202.30 is unknown at this point, but according to Microsoft they're responsible for some serious Windows pirating. "As part of its cyberforensic methods, Microsoft analyzes product key activation data voluntarily provided by users when they activate Microsoft software, including the IP address from which a given product key is activated," the lawsuit reads. The company says that its forensic tools allow the company to analyze billions of activations of software and identify patterns "that make it more likely than not" that an IP address associated with activations is one through which pirated software is being activated.
Businesses

Internet Customers Surpass Cable Subscribers At Comcast 117

Posted by samzenpus
from the binge-watching dept.
mpicpp notes that for the first time, the country's largest cable provider has more internet subscribers than cable subscribers. The Internet is taking over television. That shift is occurring at Comcast, where the number of people who subscribe to the company's Internet service surpassed its total video subscribers for the first time during the second quarter this year. Announced in an earnings call on Monday, the development signals a major turning point in the technological evolution sweeping across the media business, as the Internet becomes the gateway for information and entertainment. Comcast, the country's largest cable operator, abandoned its $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable last month after the deal drew regulatory scrutiny regarding concerns that the combined company would have too much control over the Internet. Comcast is already the country's largest broadband provider, with more than 22 million high-speed Internet customers. Brian L. Roberts, Comcast's chief executive, said in the call that the company was disappointed about the collapse of the deal but had moved on. He said that Comcast's top priorities now were to advance its existing business and improve its poorly rated customer service.
Privacy

Researchers Detect Android Apps That Connect to User Tracking and Ad Sites 68

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-track-me-bro dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A group of European researchers has developed software that tracks the URLs to which cellphone apps connect. After downloading 2,000+ free apps from Google Play, they indexed all the sites those apps connected to, and compared them to a list of known advertising and user tracking sites. "In total, the apps connect to a mind-boggling 250,000 different URLs across almost 2,000 top level domains. And while most attempt to connect to just a handful of ad and tracking sites, some are much more prolific. Vigneri and co give as an example "Music Volume Eq," an app designed to control volume, a task that does not require a connection to any external urls. And yet the app makes many connections. 'We find the app Music Volume EQ connects to almost 2,000 distinct URLs,' they say. [Another major offender] is an app called Eurosport Player which connects to 810 different user tracking sites." The researchers plan to publish their software for users to try out on Google Play soon.
NASA

No, NASA Did Not Accidentally Invent Warp Drive 346

Posted by samzenpus
from the impulse-power dept.
StartsWithABang writes: As Slashdot has previously reported, NASA Spaceflight has claimed to have vetted the EM Drive in a vacuum, and found there is still an anomalous thrust/acceleration on the order of 50 microNewtons for the device. While some are claiming this means things like warp drive and 70-day-trips-to-Mars are right on the horizon, it's important to view this from a scientist's point of view. Here's what it will take to turn this from a speculative claim into a robust one.
Hardware Hacking

Apple Watch's Hidden Diagnostic Port To Allow Battery Straps, Innovative Add-Ons 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the corkscrew-now-included dept.
MojoKid writes: Apple's Watch launched two weeks ago to some unbelievable hype and coverage in the press. However, it appears one feature flew under the radar and Apple actually had just one more trick up its sleeve. You see, on one side of the watch face is a hidden door that exposes a 6-pin port. It's assumed that this could be used for diagnostic purposes, but with an Apple Watch in hand, a company by the name of Reserve Strap was able to verify that it could also be used for charging. This seems pretty huge and strange at the same time: why would Apple keep such a thing quiet, when the Apple Watch's battery-life isn't what most people would consider impressive? Even more interesting is the fact that Apple didn't make use of this port to release its own charging straps — watch straps that carry a charge themselves. Apple's lack of transparency here doesn't much matter, though, as the aforementioned Reserve Strap is planning to get such a product to market as soon as possible. The company says about its first offering: "The Reserve Strap will come in White, Gray and Black and will fit both the 38mm and 42mm case sizes. The first batch of straps will be shipped in the Fall.
China

China Takes Its Already Strict Internet Regulations One Step Further 48

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-what-you-say dept.
New submitter DaveS7 writes with this story about new regulations from the Chinese government designed to further crack down on online media. Chinese authorities have released a new set of regulations for online media, raising concerns about tightening control over freedom of expression by the Communist regime. Contained in the ordinance, released on April 28 by the Cyberspace Administration of China, is a clause saying that persons responsible for managing flagged sites will be summoned by state personnel in case of violations. Internet censorship in China is mostly managed by individual websites, which are encouraged to toe the Party line before the Party steps in to rectify things for them. The new ordinance increases the number of conditions that, if met by online media, result in automatic state intervention.
Open Source

Accessibility In Linux Is Good (But Could Be Much Better) 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-inclusive-tux dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from opensource.com: GNU/Linux distributions provide great advantages over proprietary alternatives for people with disabilities. All the accessibility tools included in Linux are open source, meaning their code is readily available if you want to examine or improve it, and cost nothing. Hardware devices, of course, are still going to cost money. Additionally, accessibility software on other platforms generally contain licensing constraints on the user. ... When it comes to accessibility, Linux is not without issues. ... The number of developers who specifically work on accessibility tools is quite small. For example, there is only one Orca developer, two AT-SPI developers, and a single GTK developer. ... Developers who do not depend on assistive technologies tend to forget—or don't know—that a disabled person might want to use their application, read their web page, and so on. ... The problem is not necessarily that developers do not care. Rather, it's is that accessibility is highly specialized and requires someone with knowledge in the area, regardless of platform.
AI

AI Experts In High Demand 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the skynet-attempting-to-bootstrap-itself dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The field of artificial intelligence is getting hotter by the moment as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and other tech companies snap up experts and pour funding into university research. Commercial uses for AI are still limited. Predictive text and Siri, the iPhone's voice-recognition feature, are early manifestations. But AI's potential has exploded as the cost of computing power drops and as the ability to collect and process data soars. Big tech companies like Facebook and Google now vacuum up the huge amount of data that needs to be processed to help machines make "intelligent" decisions. The relationship between tech giants and academia can be difficult to navigate. Some faculty members complain tech companies aren't doing enough in the many collaborative efforts now under way. One big gripe: Companies aren't willing to share the vast data they are able to collect.
The Internet

Facebook Launches Internet.org Platform and Opens Up To More Developers 32

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-it-your-way dept.
Mark Wilson writes: The aim behind Facebook's Internet.org program is to bring internet access to the wider world. While an undeniably praise-worthy venture, it came in for criticism for going against the principles of net neutrality. Now, the company is launching the Internet.org Platform with a view to countering this criticism. The platform opens up Internet.org to more developers, giving them the chance to bring 'free basic services' to people around the world. There's also the promise of greater transparency.
China

Uber Office Raided By Police In China, Accused of Running 'Illegal' Car Business 174

Posted by timothy
from the didn't-ask-enough-permission dept.
albert555 writes: Uber's curse keeps on striking after Uber's office in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou was raided by authorities on the 30th of April 2015. Uber is accused of running an 'illegal' transport service, according to the Guangzhou Daily. Uber has been implanted in China since August 2013 and is suspected of not having the proper qualifications to run a private car business in the city. Following the recent German court ban two weeks ago, who will win the fight for private transportation? Long-term, established transportation companies with powerful lobbying arms or the newcomer making use of disruptive technology? Does Schumpeter's creative destruction also apply to the transportation sector?
Communications

WikiLeaks' Anonymous Leak Submission System Is Back After Nearly 5 Years 26

Posted by timothy
from the drop-'em-a-line dept.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes: On Friday, WikiLeaks announced that it has finally relaunched a beta version of its leak submission system after a 4.5 year hiatus. That file-upload site, which once served as a central tool in WIkiLeaks' leak-collecting mission, runs on the anonymity software Tor to allow uploaders to share documents and tips while protecting their identity from any network eavesdropper, and even from WikiLeaks itself. In 2010 the original submission system went down amid infighting between WikiLeaks' leaders and several of its disenchanted staffers, including several who left to create their own soon-to-fail project called OpenLeaks. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says that the new system, which was delayed by his legal troubles and the banking industry blockade against the group, is the final result of "four competing research projects" WikiLeaks launched in recent years. He adds that it has several less-visible submission systems in addition to the one it's now revealed. "Currently, we have one public-facing and several private-facing submission systems in operation, cryptographically, operationally and legally secured with national security sourcing in mind," Assange writes.
Communications

VA Tech Student Arrested For Posting Perceived Threat Via Yik Yak 249

Posted by timothy
from the how-to-win-friends-and-influence-people dept.
ememisya writes: I wonder if I posted, "There will be another 12/7 tomorrow, just a warning." around December, would people associate it with Pearl Harbor and I would find myself arrested, or has enough time passed for people to not look at the numbers 12 and 7 and take a knee jerk reaction? A student was arrested for "Harassment by Computer" (a class 1 misdemeanor in the state of Virginia) due to his post on an "anonymous" website [Yik Yak]. Although the post in and of itself doesn't mean anything to most people in the nation, it managed to scare enough people locally for law enforcement agencies to issue a warrant for his arrest. "Moon, a 21-year-old senior majoring in business information technology, is being charged with Harassment by Computer, which is a class one misdemeanor. Tuesday night, April 28, a threat to the Virginia Tech community was posted on the anonymous social media app Yik Yak. Around 11:15 p.m., an unknown user posted 'Another 4.16 moment is going to happen tomorrow. Just a warning (sic).' The Virginia Tech Police Department released a crime alert statement Wednesday morning via email informing students that VTPD was conducting an investigation throughout the night in conjunction with the Blacksburg Police Department."
Facebook

Facebook Wants to Skip the Off-Site Links, Host News Content Directly 51

Posted by timothy
from the a-few-seconds-a-few-seconds-there dept.
The Wall Street Journal, in a report also cited by The Next Web and others, reports that Facebook is to soon begin acting not just as a conduit for news links pasted onto users' timelines (and leading to articles hosted elsewhere) but also as a host for the articles themselves. From the WSJ article: To woo publishers, Facebook is offering to change its traditional revenue-sharing model. In one of the models under consideration, publishers would keep all of the revenue from ads they sell on Facebook-hosted news sites, the people familiar with the matter said. If Facebook sells the advertisement, it would keep roughly 30% of the revenue, as it does in many other cases. Another motivation for Facebook to give up some revenue: It hopes the faster-loading content will encourage users to spend more time on its network. It is unclear what format the ads might take, or if publishers will be able to place or measure the ads they sell within Facebook. It seems likely Facebook would want publishers to use its own advertising-technology products, such as Atlas and LiveRail, as opposed to those offered by rivals such as Google Inc.
Facebook

SurveyMonkey's CEO Dies While Vacationing With Wife Sheryl Sandberg 174

Posted by timothy
from the short-life dept.
McGruber writes: Dave Goldberg, the chief executive of SurveyMonkey and spouse of Facebook COO Sheryl K. Sandberg, died on Friday night. He was 47. 'We are heartbroken by this news,' Facebook said in a statement. Mark Zuckerberg, a friend of the family, said that Mr. Goldberg died while on vacation abroad with Ms. Sandberg. Goldberg built Surveymonkey into a provider of web surveys on almost every topic imaginable, with 500 employees and 25 million surveys created. News reports said it was valued at nearly $2 billion when it raised a round of funding last year.
Transportation

Tesla Adds Used Models To Its Inventory, For Online Purchase 65

Posted by timothy
from the driven-by-a-little-old-lady-on-sundays dept.
Jalopnik reports that Tesla Motors Inc. has very quietly started to sell used cars online, following in the footsteps of larger car companies. Its new certified vehicle program brings down the staggering costs of one of their electric cars while still ensuring manufacturer maintenance and repairs. Most of the cars that are on Tesla’s website were previously owned by people who have since traded up to the AWD Model S. Soon, this stockpile will also include leased Teslas. Engadget adds You're limited to shopping in a handful of cities in the U.S. and Canada, but the cars come with a 4-year, 50,000-mile warranty to assuage fears that you've bought a lemon. No, the move doesn't make the company's luxury EVs much more attainable -- the best offer we've seen so far is for a $59,000 'entry' model.