Technology

FCC Requires TP-Link To Support Open Source Router Firmware

Slashdot - Mon, 08/01/2016 - 3:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier today, the FCC reached a settlement with TP-Link over Wi-Fi router interference. Most of the agreement was routine, addressing compliance with radio emission rules. But the FCC also did something unprecedented. It required TP-Link to support open source firmware on its routers. You might recall that, last year, the FCC caused a ruckus when it mistakenly suggested it was banning open source router firmware. In fact, the FCC only required that router vendors implement protections for specific radio emission parameters. But the FCC didn't work with router vendors in advance to maintain open source compatibility, resulting in certain vendors (including TP-Link) trying to lock down their routers. The FCC eventually issued a clarification, but the damage was done. Only recently have a couple router vendors (Linksys and Asus) affirmed that they will continue to support open source firmware. Today's settlement is a milestone for the FCC. The agency is finally doing something, with deeds and not just words, to demonstrate its support for the open source community. It would be better if the agency hadn't created this mess, but they deserve serious credit for working so hard to fix it.

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PS Vita Jailbreak Finally Lets One Run Emulators and Homebrew Software

Slashdot - Mon, 08/01/2016 - 12:40pm
Finally, someone has managed to hack PS Vita, allowing people to install emulators and homebrew software on the handheld gaming console. The jailbreak dubbed HENkaku works on the latest 3.60 Vita firmware. From an article on Geek.com: The exploit allowing full access to the Vita hardware has been created by Team Molecule and named HENkaku. The code injected into the handheld when visiting the website unlocks the hardware and removes the file system from its protective sandbox. It's then possible to access it and the Vita memory card using FTP. The super simple unlock opens up the Vita to homebrew developers who want to create their own games for the system without going through official channels. But it also allows full access to the hardware meaning the ability to overclock the processor, and for PlayStation TV owners it also means all games are whitelisted. That's great news as there are many blocked games known to work perfectly fine on the PSTV.

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Amazon Patents Noise-Canceling Headphones That Could Automatically Turn Off When It Detects Certain Sound Patterns

Slashdot - Mon, 08/01/2016 - 12:01pm
An anonymous reader shares a report via The Next Web: Noise-canceling headphones are great for tuning out the din around you when you just want to focus on listening to music or enjoy some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, they also mute sounds that you might need to hear -- like someone calling your name. Amazon has a pretty cool idea for solving that problem. It was recently granted a patent for headphones that not only cancel out noise, but also listen to specific sounds or phrases (like 'Hey Ben') and respond by automatically turning off the feature so the user can hear sound from their surroundings. That should make it safer for use in noisy environments where you might actually need to pay attention to the occasional alert, such as a construction site or an industrial facility. In addition, the headphones can also listen for phrases to turn noise canceling back on again, so the user can resume their listening experience hands-free.

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Microsoft's SwiftKey Suspends Sync After Keyboard Leaks Strangers' Contact Details

Slashdot - Mon, 08/01/2016 - 11:20am
Swiftkey has suspended its cloud-sync service and switched off email address predictions amid reports of Microsoft-owned keyboard app delivering suggestions for strangers' email addresses and phone numbers. ZDNet reports: The move followed reports a week ago that the app was offering up email addresses to people they've never met. According to The Telegraph, one user claimed to have been contacted by a stranger and told that their brand-new phone had suggested two of the user's email addresses, as well as contact phone numbers. Reports of the bug also cite some users receiving predictions in languages they'd never used previously. "I logged into SwiftKey with Google+ and now, I'm getting someone else's German predictions with only English (UK) pack installed. I have never typed German in my entire life," one Reddit user reported last week. SwiftKey on Friday suggested the leaked contact details are due to a glitch in this sync service, which normally backs up what the app learns about a user to SwiftKey servers and then syncs that data to the user's other devices.Microsoft acquired SwiftKey app earlier this year for an estimated sum of $250 million.

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Tesla Is Buying SolarCity for $2.6 Billion

Slashdot - Mon, 08/01/2016 - 10:44am
Tesla Motors announced Monday that it has reached a deal to buy SolarCity (San Mateo-based provider of energy services), the next step in Elon Musk's plan to combine his electric-car and solar-energy companies. It's already a family affair: Musk, Tesla's chief executive, owns about 21% of SolarCity and serves as chairman. His cousins Lyndon R. Rive and Peter J. Rive are SolarCity's chief executive and chief technology officer, respectively. The independent members of both companies' boards approved the $2.6-billion all-stock deal, Tesla said. Tesla said it expects to have cost synergies of $150 million in the first year after the deal closes. Tesla said it expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter, although the proposal must still be approved by a majority of the disinterested shareholders of Tesla and SolarCity and requires regulatory approval. It also contains a "go shop" provision that gives SolarCity 45 days to "solicit, discuss or negotiate alternative proposals from third parties."

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Uber and Didi Call a Truce In China With a $35 Billion Deal

Slashdot - Mon, 08/01/2016 - 10:02am
Kara Swisher, reporting for Recode: Uber, which has been spending hugely in China over the last two years, has folded, striking a deal in which it will merge its Chinese operations with its main rival there, Didi Chuxing. Under terms of the deal, Uber China, the ride-hailing company's Chinese subsidiary, will be part of a larger Didi company valued at $35 billion. Uber gets a 20 percent stake in that -- Didi's previous valuation was $28 billion. That's a $7 billion value for upward of $2 billion that Uber has frittered away, um, spent there. In turn, Didi will invest in Uber at a valuation of almost $70 billion. That was about the value of Uber's last round. Now, everyone owns everyone everywhere.

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Can Blocking Blue Light Help Bipolar Disorder As Well as Sleep Issues?

Slashdot - Mon, 08/01/2016 - 7:35am
A new experiment suggests sleeping with amber-tinted glasses can reduce the manic symptoms of bipolar disorder within three days. Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes a report from Science Alert: The benefits of amber-tinted glasses are that they block blue light -- a major component of sunlight and the light beamed at us from our computer and phone screens. In the mornings, it's this blue light that helps reset our body clock each day. But a growing body of evidence is linking too much blue-light exposure in the evenings to problems including insomnia, obesity, depression, and other mental illnesses. I wonder how many Slashdot readers are already trying to improve their sleep patterns by avoiding exposure to blue light?

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Britain's Scientists Are 'Freaking Out' Over Brexit

Slashdot - Mon, 08/01/2016 - 3:35am
"To use a nonscientific term, the scientists in the country are freaking out," reports the Washington Post. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes their report: The researchers worry that Britain will not replace funding it loses when it leaves the E.U., which has supplied about $1.2 billion a year to support British science, approximately 10 percent of the total spent by government-funded research councils. There is a whiff of panic in the labs. Worse than a possible dip in funding is the research community's fear that collaborators abroad will slink away and the country's universities will find themselves isolated. British research today is networked, expensive, competitive and global. Being part of a pan-European consortium has helped put Britain in the top handful of countries, based on the frequency of citations of its scientific papers... Anecdotal evidence suggests that headhunters may already be circling. Meanwhile, NPR reports that Britain's vote to leave the EU "has depressed the value of the British pound," prompting many Britons to vacation at home rather than abroad -- while "Americans will find their dollars go further in Britain these days." And an anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from CNBC that Ford "is considering closing plants in the UK and across Europe in response to Britain's vote to leave the EU, as it forecast a $1 billion hit to its business over the next two years."

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All Windows 10 Kernel Mode Drivers Must Be Digitally Signed By Microsoft

Slashdot - Sun, 07/31/2016 - 11:35pm
"Last year, we announced that beginning with the release of Windows 10, all new Windows 10 kernel mode drivers must be submitted to the Windows Hardware Developer Center Dashboard portal to be digitally signed by Microsoft," reads a MSDN blog post. "However, due to technical and ecosystem readiness issues, this was not enforced by Windows Code Integrity and remained only a policy statement. Starting with new installations of Windows 10, version 1607, the previously defined driver signing rules will be enforced by the Operating System, and Windows 10, version 1607 will not load any new kernel mode drivers which are not signed by the Dev Portal." Slashdot reader mikejuk quotes a report from i-programmer.info which argues "the control of what software users can run on their machines is becoming ever tighter," and compares Microsoft's proposal to an XKCD cartoon: Before you start to panic about backward compatibility with existing drivers the lockdown is only going to be enforced on new installations of Windows 10. If you simply upgrade an existing system then the OS will take over the drivers that are already installed... Only new installations, i.e. installing all drivers from scratch, will enforce the new rules from Windows 10 version 1607... Be warned, if you need to do a fresh install of Windows 10 in the future you might find that your existing drivers are rejected.

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Chased Off of YouTube, Leaked 'No Man's Sky' Footage Runs to Pornhub

Slashdot - Sun, 07/31/2016 - 9:35pm
An anonymous reader quotes Vice:I always feel a little dirty when I look at leaked footage of any kind, but rarely so much as when I brought up Pornhub yesterday to check out a video featuring the hyped space exploration game No Man's Sky... I had to go to Pornhub, as this corner of the web was the only place I'd been able to find the footage after it'd been yanked off of DailyMotion, YouTube, and almost every other video hosting site... The PornHub video shows 21 minutes of footage with awful resolution, and none of it's particularly exciting to watch (which may say something about the game)... On July 7, when the game was ready to ship, No Man's Sky creator Sean Murray posted on Twitter "I'm so incredibly proud of this tiny team. 4 years of emotions," then addressed the leaked footage on Friday, tweeting "We've spent years filling No Man's Sky with surprises. You've spent years waiting. Please don't spoil it for yourself..." A later Twitter post added "Take a break from reading about it, and picking vids apart. You can experience for yourself so soon."

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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Keep Your Credit Card Secure?

Slashdot - Sun, 07/31/2016 - 7:35pm
It's easy to pontificate about the best security practices -- but the real test is what we do with our own money. Long-time Slashdot reader Keybounce writes: So, like most of you, I recently got a new credit card with a chip in it. I was not worried about that -- I know the chips are harder to copy and counterfeit. But I recently discovered that the card is also a radio card -- swiping it near the screen caused an message to show up on the reader. In this case, it told me to use the chip reader instead, but this means it has an active radio signal, and could be "hacked" -- stolen by someone with the right device. How can I prevent this? Is there anything I can do that will disable the radio signal and still leave the chip functioning? At least 200 million RFID credit cards were in circulation by 2012, even though their signals could be easily intercepted, prompting the introduction of RFID-blocking wallets and sleeves. But what's the alternative? A recent article in Quartz argued that America's transition to chip cards has been an utter disaster (since the banks dispensed with PIN numbers altogether and now validate with only an electronic signature). Is the answer to just use a mobile wallet like Apple Pay or Android Pay -- or to always pay with cash? So leave your own answer in the the comments. How are you keeping your own credit card secure?

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Mozilla To Remove Hello In Firefox 49

Slashdot - Sun, 07/31/2016 - 6:35pm
Firefox's voice and videoconferencing add-on was described as "the first global communications system built directly into a browser" -- but things change. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: An entry on Mozilla's issue tracker opened on July 17 reveals ongoing efforts from Mozilla engineers to remove the Hello system add-on from default Firefox installations starting with version 49, set for public release on September 13, 2016. Mozilla added Hello to Firefox in version 34, released on December 1, 2014, and from the beginning, it was part of the browser's core code, but was moved in December 2015 into a separate add-on, one that came pre-installed with Firefox, making Hello its first ever system add-on. Mozilla plans to remove Hello from the codebases of Firefox Beta 49, Firefox Developer Edition 50, and Firefox Nightly 51. Based on the currently available information, the deadline for the Hello code removal operations is for this Monday, August 1, after which the first Firefox builds with no Hello integration will be available for testing, and will ship out in the fall with the stable release. The article suggests this may have been a space-saving measure, "since Mozilla is focused on rebuilding Firefox's code from scratch to keep up with speedier competitors like Chrome, Opera, and Vivaldi."

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C Isn't The Most Popular Programming Language, JavaScript Is

Slashdot - Sun, 07/31/2016 - 5:35pm
An anonymous reader quotes Network World: U.K.-based technology analyst firm RedMonk just released the latest version of its biannual rankings of programming languages, and once again JavaScript tops the list, followed by Java and PHP. Those are same three languages that topped RedMonk's list in January. In fact, the entire top 10 remains the same as it was it was six months ago... Python ranked #4 on RedMonk's list, while the survey found a three-way tie for fifth place between Ruby, C#, and C++, with C coming in at #9 (ranking just below CSS). Network World argues that while change comes slowly, "if you go back deeper into RedMonk's rankings, you can see slow, ongoing ascents from languages such as Go, Swift and even TypeScript." Interestingly, an earlier ranking by the IEEE declared C to be the top programming language of 2016, followed by Java, Python, C++, and R. But RedMonk's methodology involves studying the prevalence of each language on both Stack Overflow and GitHub, a correlation which "we believe to be predictive of future use, hence their value."

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Microsoft Brings ChakraCore to Linux and OS X

Slashdot - Sun, 07/31/2016 - 4:35pm
An anonymous reader quotes a columnist at CIO: A few days ago I wrote about Microsoft's revival of Skype for Linux. I called it "a big deal" -- less because of Skype itself and more because it signified Microsoft's recognition that Linux is a platform worth supporting... Now the company has done it again. At Node Summit this week, Microsoft announced the availability of ChakraCore for Linux. ChakraCore is the core part of the Chakra JavaScript engine that powers Microsoft Edge and Universal Windows Platform. With this move, Microsoft is putting one of its core technologies on a competing platform. This, more than any other Linux-friendly move the company has made, is a clear departure from the Microsoft of Gates and Ballmer that used its technologies to lock users into Windows... While Ubuntu is the primary Linux distribution that Microsoft is using to showcase its ChakraCore technologies, the company said that the support should easily translate to other modern Linux distributions. Microsoft's blog post says the experimental implementation runs not only on x64 Linux but also on OS X.

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Cable Companies Urge Judges To Kill 'Net Neutrality' Rules

Slashdot - Sun, 07/31/2016 - 3:35pm
An anonymous reader quotes Reuters: Trade associations representing wireless, cable and broadband operators on Friday urged the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to reverse...the Federal Communications Commission's so-called net neutrality rules, put in place last year to make internet service providers treat all internet traffic equally... The cable groups said the court should correct "serious errors" in a decision "that radically reshapes federal law governing a massive sector of the economy, which flourished due to hundreds of billions of dollars of investment made in reliance on the policy the order throws overboard".. In its filing on Friday, the CTIA said it was illegal to subject broadband internet access to "public-utility style, common carrier regulation" and illegal to impose "common-carrier status on mobile broadband." FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he wasn't surprised to see "the big dogs" challenging net neutrality.

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New Site Checks Your Browser's Fingerprint

Slashdot - Sun, 07/31/2016 - 2:35pm
"Does your web browser have a unique fingerprint? If so your web browser could be tracked across websites without techniques such as tracking cookies..." warns a new site created by the University of Adelaide and ACEMS, adding "the anonymization aspects of services such as Tor or VPNs could be negated if sites you visit track you using your browser fingerprint." AnonymousCube contacted Slashdot about their free browser fingerprinting test suite: On the site you can see what data can be used to track you and how unique your fingerprint is. The site includes new tests, such as detecting software such as Privacy Badger, via how social media buttons are disabled, and CSS only (no JavaScript or flash) tests to get screen size and installed fonts. If you're serious about privacy, you might want to test the uniqueness of your browser's fingerprint.

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