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Android

Microsoft 'Patch' Blocks Linux Installs On Locked-Down Windows RT Computers (fossbytes.com) 141

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from fossBytes: Microsoft has released a security update that has patched a backdoor in Windows RT operating system [that] allowed users to install non-Redmond approved operating systems like Linux and Android on Windows RT tablets. This vulnerability in ARM-powered, locked-down Windows devices was left by Redmond programmers during the development process. Exploiting this flaw, one was able to boot operating systems of his/her choice, including Android or GNU/Linux.
The Register points out that since Windows RT is "a dead-end operating system" which Microsoft has announced they'll stop developing, "mainstream support for Surface RT tablets runs out in 2017 and Windows RT 8.1 in 2018. This is why a means to bypass its boot mechanisms is highly sought."
Displays

Apple Patents Augmented Reality Display, May Be Building A VR Headset (roadtovr.com) 25

An anonymous reader quotes an article from Road to VR: Apple has just been granted another AR/VR related technology patent, to add to their growing list. In this case it's a transparent, high field of view display which looks to be aimed at the augmented reality sector and, alongside other mounting evidence, could indicate Apple is preparing to enter the immersive technology race sooner rather than later... Anticipation that the company is working on 'something' AR/VR behind the scenes at Cupertino has been stoked by a series of company acquisition and staff hires. Most interestingly however are the trail of patent applications made by Apple.
This week's new patent specifies a "Peripheral Treatment of Head-mounted Displays" to deliver an image to the wearer's eyes through a transparent display medium.
Android

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active Fails Consumer Reports Water-Resistance Test (consumerreports.org) 83

An anonymous reader writes: The Samsung Galaxy S7 Active is apparently not-so-active. It should be the more durable version of the Galaxy S7 family but apparently it's not. Because of this, Consumer reports is not going to mark it as "Recommended" even though it performed very well in all the other tests it ran. [Jerry Beilinson writes from Consumer Reports:] "Consumer Reports technicians placed a Galaxy S7 Active in a water tank pressurized to 2.12 pounds-per-square-inch, the equivalent of just under five feet of water, and set a timer for 30 minutes. When we removed the phone, the screen was obscured by green lines, and tiny bubbles were visible in the lenses of the front- and rear-facing cameras. The touchscreen wasn't responsive. Following our standard procedure when a sample fails an immersion test, we submitted a second Galaxy S7 Active to the same test. That phone failed as well. After we removed it from the tank, the screen cycled on and off every few seconds, and moisture could be seen in the front and back camera lenses. We also noticed water in the slot holding the SIM card. For a couple of days following the test, the screens of both phones would light up when the phones were plugged in, though the displays could not be read. The phones never returned to functionality." Samsung has said "The Samsung Galaxy S7 active device is one of the most rugged phones to date and is highly resistant to scratches and IP68 certified. There may be an off-chance that a defective device is not as watertight as it should be." Although, given the fact that Consumer Reports tested multiple devices, Samsung could have a widespread issue on their hands. They company said it is investigating the issue.
Communications

Facebook Messenger Now Has 11,000 Bots (theverge.com) 43

An anonymous reader writes: Three months after Facebook announced a platform for building bots that operate inside its Messenger app, Messenger chief David Marcus said in a blog post that more than 11,000 bots have been created. He also said 23,000 more developers have signed up to use tools provided by Wit.ai, a Facebook acquisition that automates conversational interactions between users and businesses. Facebook has yet to announce any numbers regarding how many users actually use the bots, but developers appear to be actively engaged. Facebook has said that bots will rapidly improve as more developers create them. Marcus did announce several new features for the platform. Bots can now respond with GIFs, audio, video, and other files "to help a brand's personality come across," Marcus said. They can now link Messenger profiles to customer accounts, such as a bank or online merchant. They're also getting some new UI elements: "quick replies" that suggest interactions for the user to help them set their expectations, and a "persistent menu" option for bots that displays available commands at all times so users don't have to remember them. A star system is now in place for users to rate bots and provide feedback directly to developers.
Slashdot also has a Facebook Messenger bot. You can chat with it by messaging the Slashdot Facebook page.
Google

Google's Algorithm Displays Racist Results Because the Society Is Racist (fusion.net) 304

On June 6, Kabir Alli, an 18-year old in Virginia, posted a brief video of himself running a couple of quick Google image searches. First he searched for "three black teenagers" and was met with several rows of decontextualized mugshots. Then he searched for "three white teenagers" and was served up stock photos of relaxed teens hanging out in front of various plain white backgrounds. The tweet has stirred controversy, with many people accusing Google of being racist. But is that the case? Alli says that while it's Google's fault in some sense as they should have better control over the things people see, he also believes that at the end of the day, what Google shows us is a reflection of what people think. A Google spokesperson had similar things to say. Our image search results are a reflection of content from across the web, including the frequency with which types of images appear and the way they're described online. This means that sometimes unpleasant portrayals of sensitive subject matter online can affect what image search results appear for a given query. These results don't reflect Google's own opinions or beliefs -- as a company, we strongly value a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Reportedly Developing 5K Retina Thunderbolt Display With Integrated GPU (hothardware.com) 296

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: If you head over to Apple's website, the Cupertino outfit will happily sell you a 27-inch Thunderbolt display for $999, at least until its inventory runs out. Word on the web is that it's nearly out of stock and Apple doesn't plan to replenish them. Instead, Apple will launch a new version of its Thunderbolt monitor, one that's been upgraded to a 5K resolution and has a discrete GPU stuffed inside. It's an interesting product actually, if you think about it. Depending on the task, it can take some serious graphics muscle to drive a 5K resolution display. It amounts to over 14.7 million pixels (5120x2880), compared to Apple's current generation Thunderbolt display which runs at 2560x1440, or less than 3.7 million pixels. Apple's thinking is likely that if it integrates a GPU capable of driving a 5K resolution into the display itself, it won't have to worry about trying to balance graphics performance with thin and light designs for its future Mac systems.
Television

Ask Slashdot: Why Do You Want a 'Smart TV'? 507

Reader kheldan questions the need for a Smart TV (edited for clarity): Yesterday we read about how Samsung is planning on 'upgrading' the firmware in its smart TVs so that it could inject ads into your video streams. This raises the question yet again: Why do you even need a 'smart TV' in the first place? We live in an age where media-center computers and DVRs are ubiquitous, and all your TV really needs to be is a high-def monitor to connect to these devices. Even many smartphones have HDMI connectivity, and a Raspberry Pi is inexpensive and can play 1080 content at full framerate. None of these devices are terribly expensive anymore, and the price jump from a non-smart TV to a smart TV makes it difficult to justify the expense. Also, remember previous articles posted on the subject of surveillance many of these smart TVs have been found guilty of. So I put it to you, denizens of Slashdot: Why does anyone really want a 'smart TV'?
Software

Samsung To Roll Out In-TV Ads To Legacy Displays Via Software Update 304

An anonymous reader writes: According to an insider at Samsung's growing advertising team in New York, the second-largest consumer tech manufacturer in the world is planning to retrofit older network-connected TVs to display tiled ads via a software update. The South Korean company, which has seen a 20.9% decline in television sales in Q1 of 2016 under fierce competition from China, has included 'baked' ads into the interface of its recent TV offerings, and also experimented with injecting ads into users' streamed video, transmitting voice commands to a third party -- and, ironically, battling Android over its own AdBlocking technology.
Displays

Transparent Displays Are Here, But They're Pretty Useless 171

An anonymous reader writes: Samsung has debuted the first commercial installation of its 55-inch 'mirror' displays at a salon in South Korea with a transparent OLED screen overlaid over a mirrored surface to allow interaction. The Samsung product rivals an equivalent TOLED from Planar, with both intended for high-end use in the retail display and exhibition space. However both manufacturers are struggling to find practical applications for the much-awaited technology. Transparent displays have been a staple of sci-fi films such as Minority Report for decades, but only, it seems, because they helped to open up scenes which would otherwise have been difficult to film. With the pending advent of AR-based visualization, the innovation of the clear monitor seems not only to have come too late, but also offer limited practical use, even if its current breathtaking prices were to descend to the consumer space.
Open Source

SourceForge Tightens Security With Malware Scans (fossforce.com) 84

Christine Hall at FOSS Force reports: It appears as if the new owners at SourceForge are serious about fixing the mistakes made by the sites previous owners. FOSS Force has just learned that as of today, the software repository used by many free and open source projects is scanning all hosted projects for malware. Projects that don't make the grade will be noticeably flagged with a red warning badge located beside the project's download button. According to a notice posted on the SourceForge website this afternoon, the scans look for "adware, viruses, and any unwanted applications that may be intentionally or inadvertently included in the software package." Account holders with projects flagged as containing malware will be notified by SourceForge. In today's announcement, SourceForge said that a thousand or so of the sites most popular projects [representing 84% of all SourceForge traffic] have so far been scanned, with scans continuing to eventually include "every last project, even dating back years." As the site hosts somewhere around 500,000 projects, this first scanning is expected to take several weeks. The company also says that beginning immediately, all new projects will be scanned during the uploading process. This latest move is in keeping with promises made to the community when the new owners, SourceForge Media, took control of SourceForge and Slashdot on January 28, 2016.
Firefox

Mozilla Launches Test Pilot, A Firefox Add-On For Trying Experimental Features (thenextweb.com) 53

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Test Pilot, a program for trying out experimental Firefox features. To try the new functionality Mozilla is offering for its browser, you have to download a Firefox add-on from testpilot.firefox.com and enable an experiment. The main caveat is that experiments are currently only available in English (though Mozilla promises to add more languages "later this year"). Test Pilot was first introduced for Firefox 3.5, but the new program has been revamped since then, featuring three main components: Activity Stream, Tab Center and Universal Search. Activity Stream is designed to help you navigate your browsing history faster, surfacing your top sites along with highlights from your browsing history and bookmarks. Tab Center displays open tabs vertically along the side of your screen. Mozilla says Universal Search "combines the Awesome Bar history with the Firefox Search drop down menu to give you the best recommendations so you can spend less time sifting through search results and more time enjoying the web."
China

China Creates World's First Graphene Electronic Paper (techtimes.com) 92

An anonymous reader writes from a report published on Tech Times: China has developed the world's first graphene electronic paper that can possibly revolutionize the screen displays on electronic gadgets such as wearable devices and e-readers. Developed by Guangzhou OED Technologies in partnership with another company in the Chongqing Province, the material is also the world's lightest and strongest material in prevalence today. It's 0.335 nanometers thick and can be used to create hard or flexible graphene displays. Graphene e-paper comes with the capability to conduct both heat and electricity, and it can supposedly enhance optical displays to a brighter level, owing to its high-light transmittance properties. What about cost? Since it's derived from carbon, graphene-based e-papers can be easily produced cost-effectively. Traditional e-papers use indium metal for their display, which is very expensive and rare to source.
Earth

New 'Tunneling' State of Water Molecules Discovered by Scientists (inhabitat.com) 60

MikeChino quotes a report from Inhabitat: Scientists just discovered a new state of water molecules that displays some pretty unexpected characteristics. This discovery, made by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), reveals that water molecules "tunnel" in ultra-small hexagonal channels (measuring only 5 angstrom across) of the mineral beryl. Basically, this means the molecules spread out when they are trapped in confined spaces, taking a new shape entirely. The ORNL used neutron scattering and computational modeling to reveal the "tunneling" state of water that breaks the rules of known fundamentals seen in gas, liquid, or solid state. The researchers said the discovery describes the behavior of water molecules present in tightly confined areas such as cell walls, soils, and rocks. The study was published in Physical Review Letters on April 22.
Government

Sweden Secretly Blames Russian Hackers For Taking Out Air Traffic Control: Report (theregister.co.uk) 50

John Leyden, reporting for The Register: Sweden suspects a hacker group linked to Russian intelligence was responsible for an attack on its air traffic control systems last November, we're told. Air traffic control systems across much of Sweden were unavailable on November 4. Computer problems meant air traffic controllers were unable to use their displays, an issue that prompted the cancellation of multiple domestic and international flights. Arlanda, Landvetter and Bromma airports were particularly affected. The Swedish Civil Aviation Administration publicly blamed a solar storm. However, behind the scenes the Swedes were notifying NATO about a serious, ongoing cyber attack, Norwegian news outlet aldrimer.no reports.
Android

HTC 10 With 5.2-inch QHD Display, Snapdragon 820 SoC, 12MP Camera Launched at $699 (theverge.com) 57

Dan Seifert, writing for The Verge: HTC is today formally announcing the 10, its flagship smartphone for 2016. The HTC 10 follows last year's M9 and blends the design of the M series with the A9 that came last fall. HTC says it spent 12 months designing this phone and integrated feedback from its customers throughout the development process. The 10 has everything you might expect from a flagship Android phone in 2016. There's a 5.2-inch, quad HD Super LCD 5 display that HTC says displays 30 percent more color than last year's phone. The screen is covered in Gorilla Glass with curved edges that blend into the phone's metal frame. You'll be able to find out if that's enough for HTC to compete when the phone ships next month for $699. One interesting feature, which separates HTC 10 from many other Android flagship smartphones, is support for AirPlay. The feature enables the smartphone to stream media content to an Apple TV.
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Deal With Glare On Cellphones? 135

An anonymous reader writes: As far as I know, I am not particularly sensitive to glare; I've used CRTs in offices full of overhead fluorescent lights, and just ignored the terrible reflections, and I've worked in places where the natural sunlight cleverly funneled in by architects was bounced around by glass walls and mirrors in just the right way to irritate. Still, I never found it much of a problem. Now, though, I work in a field that has me both working outdoors a lot, and traveling by car a fair amount, too. Now that days are getting longer, especially up here in the Pacific Northwest, I know that I'll be squinting and cursing a lot at my phone. My question(s): Are there are any modern smart phones you can recommend with a truly or even passably day-light readable screen? I don't care if it's e-ink (that would be cool), transflective (long promised!) or maybe just a secondary screen with some daylight-readable technology. Barring that, how do you deal with glare on a phone, when you need to use it on a sunny day? Same answer could apply to laptop use, I suppose. Do you build a little glare shield, of the kind that camera operators use? Wear a giant hood of privacy and darkness? I know I'm not alone — I see lots of others squinting and cursing at their cell phones, cupping it with their hands at their eyes, or ducking into scant shade just to see whether the call that's coming is one they need to take, or to read a text. I've tried quite a few phones that have been praised by reviewers for their bright, crisp, daylight-friendly displays, but I think those reviewers probably lived in New York or San Francisco, and were reading in either shadow or fog, because even the brightest Samsungs, Motorolas, and LGs I've seen cannot hold a candle to the summer sun north of Seattle.
Displays

You'll Soon Be Able To 'Holoport' Anywhere In the World With Microsoft VR Tech (thenextweb.com) 54

An anonymous reader cites an article on The Next Web: Microsoft research manager Shahram Izadi is showing off the company's latest innovation using HoloLens: 'holoportation,' enabling him to appear as if he's there in real-time, anywhere in the world. His image is captured in 3D by cameras placed around the room. This is then stitched together, compressed and transmitted so someone else can see, hear and interact with him as though he's right there with them. You can even playback previous interactions, as though "walking into a living memory," and miniaturize the content to make it easier to consume. "Imagine being able to virtually teleport from one place to another," he says. Well, if you're the owner of a HoloLens, you soon could do. Microsoft's HoloLens is arguably the front-runner in the nascent, but fast-evolving, augmented reality space. The company's technology has previously been seen used by astronauts and scientists to "walk on the Mars surface" without stepping out of their office on Earth. It's fascinating to see how Microsoft continues to further innovate in this field.
Displays

Apple's Night Shift May Have Zero Effect On Sleep (macworld.com) 79

eggboard writes: While blue light emitted by monitors and mobile displays has been widely cited as a cause in disrupting people's circadian rhythm, the evidence is thin: a narrow range of blue spectra might not be the problem (it may be a more complicated interaction), brightness may be more important, and Night Shift's (and f.lux's) effects are probably too negligible anyway. Apple's Night Shift feature lets you adjust the color temperature of your display to the warmer end of the spectrum. Apple notes, "Many studies have shown that exposure to bright blue light in the evening can affect your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep."
Hardware

AMOLED Displays Are Now Cheaper To Produce Than LCD (androidauthority.com) 157

An anonymous reader quotes an article on AndroidAuthority: Optics pundits have been crowing about AMOLED destroying LCD for a while now: they are thinner, brighter, more energy efficient and arguably offer better colors, higher contrast, and deeper saturation than LCD. The biggest barrier stopping AMOLED from taking over as the smartphone display technology of choice has been price. Until now that is. As predicted two years ago, it has only taken 24 months for AMOLED production costs to fall below that of LCD. Production costs in the first quarter for a 5-inch Full HD smartphone display are $14.30 for an AMOLED panel and $14.60 for an LCD display. In the fourth quarter of 2015, these figures were $17.10 and $15.70, respectively. [...] With AMOLED production costs dropping below LCD for the first time, AMOLED panels will soon become the default display technology choice for manufacturers on their mid-range and entry-level devices as well.
Sony

PlayStation VR Pre-Orders Sell Out In Minutes At Amazon (roadtovr.com) 92

An anonymous reader writes: Once seen as the underdog, Sony's PlayStation VR headset continues to hold its own against PC-based competitors Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The company announced last week that they won't ship the PSVR headset until October, but they also announced an attractive $399 price compared to the Rift at $599 and Vive at $799. And it appears the company's existing addressable market of 36 million PS4 owners are ready to get on board; Amazon U.S. opened pre-orders for the PSVR Launch Bundle this morning and sold out of its stock allocation in less than 10 minutes. Walmart befell the same fate quickly thereafter, though several other retailers in the U.S. are still showing pre-order stock.

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