itwbennett writes "Here's a bright spot in Beijing's off-the-chart bad air pollution: The market for mobile apps that monitor air quality is thriving. 'When the pollution went beyond the air quality index, all the social networks in China and media began paying attention to the problem,' said Wang Jun, one of the developers of the China Air Pollution Index app. 'This caused the downloads to increase 30 times.'" Obviously a Spaceballs fan, a Chinese man is even selling fresh air in cans.
sfcrazy writes "In a nutshell there won't be a new trial in the Apple V. Samsung case, as Samsung wanted, because the judge thinks that the trial was fair despite allegations that the jury foreman could have been biased. She also ruled that there won't be any more money for Apple as the iPhone maker failed to prove they were 'undercompensated' by the jury. The most important ruling was that she found that 'Samsung did not willfully infringe.'"
wiredmikey writes "The Wall Street Journal said Thursday its computers were hit by Chinese hackers, the latest U.S. media organization citing an effort to spy on its journalists covering China. The Journal made the announcement a day after The New York Times said hackers, possibly connected to China's military, had infiltrated its computers in response to its expose of the vast wealth amassed by a top leader's family. The Journal said in a news article that the attacks were 'for the apparent purpose of monitoring the newspaper's China coverage' and suggest that Chinese spying on U.S. media 'has become a widespread phenomenon.'"
Diamonddavej writes "Leading privacy expert Caspar Bowden warned European citizens not to use cloud services hosted in the U.S. over spying fears. Bowden, former privacy adviser to Microsoft Europe, explained at a panel discussion hosted at the recent Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference in Brussels, that a section in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act 2008 (FISAAA) permits U.S. intelligence agencies to access data owned by non-U.S. citizens on cloud storage hosed by U.S. companies, if their activity is deemed to affect U.S. foreign policy. Bowden claimed the Act allows for purely political spying of activists, protesters and political groups. Bowden also pointed out that amendments to the EU's data protection regulation proposal introduce specific loopholes that permit FISAAA surveillance. The president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves (at a separate panel discussion) commented, 'If it is a U.S. company it's the FBI's jurisdiction and if you are not a U.S. citizen then they come and look at whatever you have if it is stored on a U.S. company server.' The European Data Protection Supervisor declined to comment but an insider indicated that the authority is looking into the matter."
First time accepted submitter Brandon Butler writes "Amazon.com, the multi-billion online retail website, experienced an outage of unknown proportions on Thursday afternoon. Rumblings of an Amazon.com outage began popping up on Twitter at about 2:40 PM ET. Multiple attempts to access the site around 3:15 PM ET on Thursday were met with the message: 'Http/1.1 Service Unavailable.' By 3:30 PM ET the site appeared to be back online for at least some users. How big of a deal is an hour-long Amazon outage? Amazon.com's latest earnings report showed that the company makes about $10.8 billion per quarter, or about $118 million per day and $4.9 million per hour." Update: 01/31 22:25 GMT by T : "Hackers claim credit."
Okian Warrior writes "As a followup to yesterday's article detailing 50 Million Potentially Vulnerable To UPnP Flaws, this video shows getting root access on a Belkin WeMo remote controlled wifi outlet. As the discussion notes, remotely turning someone's lamp on or off is not a big deal, but controlling a [dry] coffeepot or space heater might be dangerous. The attached discussion also points out that rapidly cycling something with a large inrush current (such as a motor) could damage the unit and possibly cause a fire." In the style of Bruce Schneier's movie-plot threat scenarios, what's the most nefarious use you can anticipate such remote outlet control being used for?
Shane Chen is an inventor who likes to make all kinds of things. For instance, he designed the frame and invented a special reflective surface for the screen you see in the background of the video below. But many of his inventions have to do with transportation, especially the kind of transportation that doubles as personal thrill ride, like a sail for paddleboats and an electric surfboard. At this year's CES, I spoke with Chen's daughter Ywanne about his latest rideable invention, which is for obvious reasons called the Solowheel. Her father's the one you can see demonstrating the device in the background; you can see trickier riding in this YouTube video. She says that of all her father's inventions, this is the one that came together most easily: his first stab at a powered unicycle just worked, and since then it's been polishing the experience and getting it to market. And "to market" isn't a dream; for about $1800, you can have an experience that's a bit more intense than a Segway. The Solowheel can climb hills of surprising steepness, as long as the rider is up for it. Coming down looks more challenging, though.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The company formerly known as Research In Motion—which decided to cut right to the proverbial chase and rename itself 'BlackBerry'—launched its much-anticipated BlackBerry 10 operating system at a high-profile event in New York City Jan. 30. Meanwhile, Microsoft is still dumping tons of money and effort into Windows Phone. But can either smartphone OS — or another player, for that matter — successfully challenge Apple iOS and Google Android, which one research firm estimated as running on 92 percent of smartphones shipped in the fourth quarter of 2012? What would it take for any company to launch that sort of successful effort?"
An anonymous reader writes "Ok, so the idea of opening all Wi-Fi networks in a misthought utopian vision didn't go over so well. But no one discussed the best part of open Wi-Fi networks: bonding different Wi-Fi and mobile carriers to get the best price and decent performance. We could save money and avoid lock in by bouncing to whoever gives us the best rate, and, when we need speed, jump on all of them at once for a network bonded boost."
coondoggie writes "The Federal Trade Commission today said the submission period for its Robocall Challenge had ended and it got 744 new ideas for ways to shut down the annoying automated callers. The FTC noted that the vast majority of telephone calls that deliver a prerecorded message trying to sell something to the recipient are illegal. The FTC regulates these calls under the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Challenge was issued to developing technical or functional solutions and proofs of concepts that can block illegal robocalls which, despite the agency's best efforts, seem to be increasing."
FhnuZoag writes "Eurogamer has an expose of the shady world of games developers licensing guns. From the article: '"We must be paid a royalty fee — either a one-time payment or a percentage of sales, all negotiable. Typically, a licensee pays between 5 per cent to 10 per cent retail price for the agreement. [...] We want to know explicitly how the rifle is to be used, ensuring that we are shown in a positive light... Such as the 'good guys' using the rifle," says [Barett Rifles'] Vaughn.'"
Zordak writes "Micron has recently landed U.S. Patent 8,352,745, which claims priority back to a February 2000 application---well before Apple's 2004 slide-to-unlock application. While claim construction is a highly technical art, the claims here are (for once) almost as broad as they sound, and may cover the bulk of touch screen smart phones on the market today. Dennis Crouch's Patently-O has a discussion."
Mark.JUK writes "Scientists working at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland (United Kingdom) have begun to develop a new Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) technology that will use special micron-sized LED (Light-Emitting Diodes) lights, such as those that could be used as part of home lighting or TV displays, to form part of a sophisticated wireless communications network (much like Wi-Fi is today). The principle, which revolves around manipulating the on/off flicker of LED lights to produce a digital network (a bit like Morse Code from a torch), is not new but most of the other teams are focusing on larger Li-Fi LEDs of around 1mm square in size. However micron sized LEDs not only allow you to use more lights (each of which can act as a separate data channel) but they can also flicker on and off around 1,000 times quicker than the larger LEDs."
New submitter matteocorti writes "I work at medium-sized university and we are considering reducing the number of domains used for email addresses (now around 350): the goal is to have all the 30K personal addresses in a single domain. This will increase the clashes for the local part of the address for people with the same first and last name (1.6%). We are considering several options: one of them is to use 'email@example.com' and the other is to use 'firstname.lastname@example.org.' The first case will avoid any conflict in the addresses (usernames are unique) but the second is fancier. Which approach does your organization use? How are name conflicts (homonyms) solved? Manually or automatically (e.g., by adding a number)?"
judgecorp writes "Yesterday's BlackBerry 10 announcement did not mention the company's tablet, the Playbook, but users will be relieved to know it will get an update to BlackBerry 10. It's not a huge surprise, since BB10 is based on the PlayBook's QNX operating system, but PlayBook users may have been worried since the company did not even mention the struggling tablet in passing at the event." Hopefully the Playbook's camera is better than the one in the new BB10-based Z10 phone, the low-light performance of which Gizmodo describes as "four-years-ago crap."