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The Internet

Kickstarter Bets On 'Wired' Arduino-Compatible IoT Platform 90

L-One-L-One writes: Most IoT home projects today are based on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and friends. But this is not always the ideal solution: you end up swapping batteries frequently, which becomes annoying quite quickly. You also have to deal with signal strength issues and interferences. To address this problem, a new Kickstarter campaign called NoCAN is proposing an Arduino-compatible internet-of-things platform based on wired connections that combine networking and power in one cable. The platform uses a set of cheap Arduino-compatible nodes controlled through a Raspberry Pi. The network uses CAN-bus and offers a publish/subscribe mechanism like MQTT and over-the-network firmware updates. It can also be controlled by a smartphone or tablet. Even with such features, can it succeed in going against the all-wireless trend? We'll know in a few weeks.
Crime

Two Teenaged Gamers Plead 'Not Guilty' For Fatal Kansas Swatting Death (reuters.com) 148

Two more men entered pleas in federal court for their roles in a SWAT call that led to a fatal police shooting in Kansas: not guilty. An anonymous reader quotes Reuters: Shane Gaskill, 19, of Wichita, Kansas, and Casey Viner, 18, from a suburb of Cincinnati, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and remained free on $10,000 bond, court records showed. Both of the suspects live with their parents, local media reported. In the so-called "swatting" incident, in which someone falsely reports an emergency requiring a police response, Viner got upset at Gaskill over a video game they played online, federal prosecutors said, and Viner contacted a known "swatter"...and asked him to make the false report to police at an address that had been provided by Gaskill. Viner did not know that Gaskill no longer lived at the address, but Gaskill knew, prosecutors said.

After media reports of the shooting, Gaskill urged [swatter Tyler] Barriss to delete their communications and Viner wiped his phone, according to the indictment... Barriss and Viner face federal charges of conspiracy and several counts of wire fraud. Viner and Gaskill were charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, and Gaskill was also charged with wire fraud and additional counts of obstruction of justice.

In a jailhouse interview in January, Barriss told a local news team that "Whether you hang me from a tree, or you give me 5, 10, 15 years... I don't think it will ever justify what happened... I hope no one ever does it, ever again. I hope it's something that ceases to exist."

In April, while still in jail, Barriss gained access to the internet then posted "All right, now who was talking shit? >:) Your ass is about to get swatted."
Communications

Guy Robs Someone At Gunpoint For Domain Name, Gets 20 Years In Jail (vice.com) 134

Yesterday, 43-year-old Iowa man Sherman Hopkins Jr. was sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempting to rob a domain name from another man at gunpoint in 2017. As Motherboard reports, "this may be the first time someone has attempted to steal a domain name at gunpoint." From the report: Last June, Hopkins broke into the home of 26 year-old Ethan Deyo in Cedar Rapids, Iowa one afternoon and demanded that Deyo to log on to his computer to transfer the domain name for "doitforstate.com" to another account. According to Deyo's bio on his personal website, he is a web entrepreneur who previously worked for the web hosting service GoDaddy. After seeing Hopkins enter the apartment, Deyo locked himself into his room and Hopkins kicked in the door. Hopkins kicked in the door and "pistol-whipped" Deyo, held a gun to his head and used a stun gun on him during the encounter. While he attempted to wrestle the gun away from Hopkins, Deyo was shot in the leg, but he eventually gained control of the firearm and shot Hopkins multiple times in the chest. It's unclear why Hopkins wanted the domain name or who he was transferring the domain name to.
The Internet

South Africans in Cape Town and Johannesburg Pay Much More For Internet Usage Than New Yorkers (qz.com) 63

South Africa may have some of the world's cheapest cities to live in, but using the internet in Cape Town and Johannesburg is surprisingly expensive by global standards. From a report: South Africans living in the country's two major cities spend more on their monthly internet costs than people living in New York, Tokyo, and even the perennially expensive Zurich, according to a report by Deutsche Bank. When comparing life in the global financial capitals, most other things, from rent to the cost of a cappuccino, were far cheaper in Johannesburg and Cape Town, making the cost of getting online even more of a shock to the pocket. Out of 50 cities surveyed, Joburgers spent the second most on monthly internet, beaten only by oil-rich Dubai. The amount shelled out by Capetonians ranked seventh behind Dublin, San Francisco, and Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand, according to the report, which compared daily prices and living standards of cities around the world.
AT&T

AT&T Completes $85 Billion Time Warner Acquisition (axios.com) 86

AT&T on Thursday evening said that it has completed its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, just two days after a judge ruled that the deal, originally announced two years ago, could proceed over objections from U.S. antitrust regulators. From a report: The Department of Justice did not file for an emergency stay of the judge's ruling, per the judge's request, but still reserves the right to appeal. In a statement, Randall Stephenson, chairman and chief executive of AT&T said moving forward his company will bring a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors and advertisers. "The content and creative talent at Warner Bros., HBO and Turner are first-rate. Combine all that with AT&T's strengths in direct-to-consumer distribution, and we offer customers a differentiated, high-quality, mobile-first entertainment experience," he said.
Television

The Internet Is Finally Going To Be Bigger Than TV Worldwide (qz.com) 60

According to estimates from media agency Zenith, next year, for the first time, people will spend more time using the internet than watching TV. People will spend an average of 170.6 minutes a day, or nearly three hours, using the internet in 2019. That's a tad more than the 170.3 minutes they're expected to spend watching TV. Quartz reports: Zenith measured media by how they are transmitted or distributed, such as broadcasts via TV signals and newspapers in print. Watching videos on the web through platforms like Netflix and YouTube, or reading a newspaper's website, counted as internet consumption. Nearly one-quarter of all media consumption across the globe will be through mobile this year, up from 5% in 2011. The average person will spend a total of about eight hours per day consuming media in its many forms this year, Zenith forecasts.

In some parts of the world, TV will remain on top -- for now. Zenith forecasted media consumption through 2020 and did not expect the internet to overtake TV in Europe, Latin America, and the whole of North America in that time. In the U.S., it was projected to surpass TV in the U.S. in two years.

Businesses

Judge Rules AT&T Can Acquire Time Warner (wsj.com) 172

A federal judge said Tuesday that AT&T's $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner is legal, clearing the path for a deal that gives the pay-TV provider ownership of cable channels such as HBO and CNN as well as film studio Warner Bros. From a report: U.S. District Judge Richard Leon announced his decision in a packed courtroom, ruling that antitrust enforcers at the Justice Department had not proven their case against the merger. The decision, in one of the biggest antitrust cases in decades, is a milestone victory for AT&T as it looks to reposition itself in a rapidly evolving media landscape. Its deal for Time Warner, valued at roughly $80 billion, has been pending since October 2016. The acquisition means AT&T will be the nation's top pay-TV distributor, through its ownership of DirecTV, as well as the owner of some of the country's most sought-after channels: Time Warner's Turner networks -- including CNN, TBS and TNT -- as well as HBO, the most popular U.S. premium network.
Communications

Mars Opportunity Rover Is In Danger of Dying From a Dust Storm (engadget.com) 105

According to NASA, the Mars Opportunity rover is currently trying to survive an intensifying dust storm on the red planet. "The storm's atmospheric opacity -- the veil of dust blowing around, which can blot out sunlight -- is now much worse than a 2007 storm that Opportunity weathered," reports NASA. "The previous storm had an opacity level, or tau, somewhere above 5.5; this new storm had an estimated tau of 10.8 as of Sunday morning." Engadget reports: The storm was first detected on Friday June 1st by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, at which point the rover's team was notified because of the weather event's proximity to Opportunity. The rover uses solar panels, so a dust storm could have an extremely negative impact on Opportunity's power levels and its batteries. By Wednesday June 6th, Opportunity was in minimal operations mode because of sharply decreasing power levels. The brave little rover is continuing to weather the storm; it sent a transmission back to Earth Sunday morning, which is a good sign. It means there's still enough charge left in the batteries to communicate with home, despite the fact that the storm is continuing to worsen.
Censorship

Tanzania Orders All Unregistered Bloggers To Take Down Their Sites (reuters.com) 52

The state-run Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) ordered all unregistered bloggers and online forums on Monday to suspend their websites immediately or face criminal prosecution. Several sites, including popular online discussion platform Jamiiforums, have reportedly shut down to avoid prosecution. Reuters reports: Regulations passed in March made it compulsory for bloggers and owners of other online forums such as YouTube channels to register with the government and pay up to $900 for a license. Per capita income in Tanzania is slightly below $900 a year. Digital activists say the law is part of a crackdown on dissent and free speech by the government of President John Magufuli, who was elected in 2015. Government officials argue the new rules are aimed at tackling hate speech and other online crimes, including cyberbullying and pornography.

"All unregistered online content providers must be licensed before June 15. Starting from today June 11 until June 15, they are prohibited from posting any new content on their blogs, forums or online radios and televisions," the regulator said in a statement on Monday. The statement said legal action would be taken against any unregistered websites posting new content. Anyone convicted of defying the new regulations faces a fine of at least 5 million shillings ($2,200), imprisonment for a minimum 12 months, or both.

Businesses

Net Neutrality Repeal Is Official (cnet.com) 332

The Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality rules, which had required internet service providers to offer equal access to all web content, took effect on Monday. The rules, enacted by the administration of President Barack Obama in 2015, prohibited internet providers from charging more for certain content or from giving preferential treatment to certain websites. CNET: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has called the Obama-era rules "heavy-handed" and "a mistake," and he's argued that they deterred innovation and depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks. To set things right, he says, he's taking the FCC back to a "light touch" approach to regulation, a move that Republicans and internet service providers have applauded.

But supporters of net neutrality -- such as big tech companies like Google and Facebook, as well as consumer groups and pioneers of the internet like World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee -- say the internet as we know it may not exist without these protections. "We need a referee on the field who can throw a flag," former FCC Chairman and Obama appointee Tom Wheeler said at MIT during a panel discussion in support of rules like those he championed. Wheeler was chairman when the rules passed three years ago.
We expect to see some protests today as the tussle to convince House representatives to reinstate the regulations continues. Some members of Congress are still fighting to overturn the ruling, so there's hope for a net neutrality return if legislators agree to it.

Further reading: The Washington Post published an interview of Pai over the weekend. In the interview, Pai remained bullish that the FTC could stop abuses. He also criticized Senate Dems and others for spreading misinformation during net neutrality debate. Over at CNET, Ajit Pai has written an op-ed, in which ... he is defending his move. Fight for the Future: The FCC repeal of net neutrality goes into effect TODAY, but Congress can still stop it and save the Internet.
Businesses

Oath is Killing Off Yahoo Messenger on July 17 (betanews.com) 50

Yahoo Messenger is to be discontinued in just over a month. Yahoo owner Oath has announced that it is killing off its famous Messenger service on July 17. From a report: After this date, chatting will no longer be available, and users have just six months to download their chat histories. At the moment, there is no direct replacement for Yahoo Messenger, but users are being advised that they can request an invite for the beta version of the invite-only group messaging app Yahoo Squirrel. In an FAQ about the announcement, Yahoo addresses why the decision to shutter the service was taken. "We know we have many loyal fans who have used Yahoo Messenger since its beginning as one of the first chat apps of its kind. As the communications landscape continues to change over, we're focusing on building and introducing new, exciting communications tools that better fit consumer needs."
Software

Should Apple Let Competitors Use FaceTime? (cnet.com) 211

In 2010, Steve Jobs first introduced FaceTime and promised it would become an open industry standard that could be used by Apple's competitors -- not just Apple. Well, eight years later and that still hasn't happened. CNET's Sean Hollister provides a theory as to why that is: There's also an ongoing lawsuit to consider -- as Ars Technica documented in 2013, Apple was forced to majorly change how FaceTime works to avoid infringing on the patents of a company called VirnetX. Instead of letting phones communicate directly with each other, Apple added "relay servers" to help the phones connect. Presumably, someone would have to pay for those servers, and/or figure out a way for them to talk to Google or Microsoft or other third-party servers if FaceTime were going to be truly open. But that doesn't make a broken promise less frustrating. Particularly now that Apple could potentially fix annoying business video calls as well. A Skype-killing video chat service that worked on Mac, iOS *and* Windows, Android and the open web? That's something I bet companies would be happy to pay for, too.
Businesses

Net Neutrality Will Be Repealed Monday Unless Congress Takes Action (arstechnica.com) 166

With net neutrality rules scheduled to be repealed on Monday, Senate Democrats are calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to schedule a vote that could preserve the broadband regulations. From a report: The US Senate voted on May 16 to reverse the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality rules, but a House vote -- and President Trump's signature -- is still needed. Today, the entire Senate Democratic Caucus wrote a letter to Ryan urging him to allow a vote on the House floor. "The rules that this resolution would restore were enacted by the FCC in 2015 to prevent broadband providers from blocking, slowing down, prioritizing, or otherwise unfairly discriminating against Internet traffic that flows across their networks," the letter said. "Without these protections, broadband providers can decide what content gets through to consumers at what speeds and could use this power to discriminate against their competitors or other content." The letter was spearheaded by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
Communications

US Says Internet Use Rises as More Low Income People Go Online; Tablets Surpass Desktops In Popularity (reuters.com) 80

Internet use by Americans increased in 2017, fueled by a rise among people with lower incomes, a government report viewed on Wednesday by Reuters found. From a report: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) also reported that for the first time tablets were more popular than desktop computers, and that more households had a mobile data plan than wired broadband service. The results were to be publicly released later on Wednesday. The survey results demonstrate the growing importance of the internet in everyday communication as the way consumers access content changes. Among Americans living in households with family incomes below $25,000 per year, the survey found internet use increased to 62 percent in 2017 from 57 percent in 2015, while households earning $100,000 or more showed no change at 86 percent. The gain of 13.5 million users was "driven by increased adoption among low-income families, seniors, African Americans, Hispanics, and other groups that have been less likely to go online," the agency said.
Microsoft

Microsoft Adds Post-Quantum Cryptography To an OpenVPN Fork (bleepingcomputer.com) 63

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft recently published an interesting open source project called "PQCrypto-VPN" that implements post-quantum cryptography (PQC) within OpenVPN. Being developed by the Microsoft Research Security and Cryptography group, as part of their research into post-quantum cryptography, this fork is being used to test PQC algorithms and their performance and functionality when used with VPNs.

Microsoft's PQCrypto-VPN is published on Github and allows anyone to build an OpenVPN implementation that can encrypt communications using three different post-quantum cryptography protocols, with more coming as they are developed. These protocols are: (1) Frodo: a key exchange protocol based on the learning with errors problem (2) SIKE: a key exchange protocol based on Supersingular Isogeny Diffie-Hellman and (3) Picnic: a signature algorithm using symmetric-key primitives and non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs.

Communications

A Nationwide Comcast Landline Outage is Affecting Thousands of Businesses (theverge.com) 97

Comcast's Xfinity phone service is apparently suffering a massive outage today, knocking out phone service for thousands of companies across the country that still largely rely on landline access to do business. From a report: According to DownDetector.com, Comcast phone service began experiencing issues around 8AM ET this morning and by the afternoon, areas around the country have started reporting disruptions. The areas most affected appear to be the Pacific Northwest, California, the tri-state area, and Florida. The official support Twitter account for Comcast Xfinity's residential and business services has acknowledged the issues, tweeting at 1PM ET today that some "customers may still be experiencing an issue with their Voice service," though Comcast has yet to release an official statement regarding the issue.
Businesses

Robocallers Win Even if You Don't Answer (wsj.com) 153

Sarah Krouse, reporting for WSJ: Caller ID is feeding one of the very problems it was developed to stop: junk calls. Illegitimate robocallers, or outfits that flood American landlines with marketing calls, use the decades-old identification system to make money, even when no one picks up. While scammers' biggest paydays come from tricking victims into handing over credit card or bank account information, many robocallers make incremental cash along the way, thanks to little-known databases that try to identify who is calling.

Each time a caller's name is displayed, phone companies pay small fees -- typically fractions of pennies -- to databases that store such records. Some of these fees are handed back to the caller. With millions of automated calls a day, the amounts can add up. "It's slow nickels, not fast dimes" for scammers, but it helps offset the costs of making the calls, said Aaron Woolfson, president of TelSwitch, a company that licenses out telecommunications-billing software.

Operating Systems

watchOS 5 Brings Automatic Workout Detection, Walkie-Talkie Mode, Podcast App To Apple Watch (digitaltrends.com) 50

At WWDC 2018, Apple announced several new features in watchOS 5 that will be coming to the Apple Watch later this year. Digital Trends summarizes all the big new additions including more watch faces and improved health tracking features: Apple is putting a huge emphasis on ensuring fitness tracking data is accurate in WatchOS 5. The company studied more than seven terabytes of fitness data from more than 12,000 participants to make sure its tracking measurements are on point. You'll also find a new competition mode on WatchOS 5. The mode allows you to enter a seven-day competition with a friend. WatchOS 5 also features new fitness modes. The Yoga mode will track your activity via the heart rate monitor while the Hiking mode will use your pace and elevation to better determine the number of calories burned. The Running mode now offers a custom pace alert, tracks your cadence and will even provide time data on the previous mile run. Finally, you'll see new start and end workout alerts.

WatchOS 5 also brings several awesome communications improvements. First off is the new Walkie-Talkie mode. With Walkie-Talkie, you can add friends to your Apple Watch and communicate with them directly by tapping the Talk button within the Walkie-Talkie app. Your Siri watch face will also get a huge update as well. The new Siri watch face will provide more information on your favorite sports teams, offer commute and traffic information, as well as heart rate.
Also available in watchOS 5 are Siri Shortcuts, an official Podcast app, and WebKit, which will let you view webpages from Messages or emails. You will also no longer need to say "Hey Siri" to activate Siri. Now you can simply raise your wrist to your mouth and Siri will automatically be listening.

Note: The original Apple Watch won't get watchOS 5's new features. You will need a Series 1 or newer timepiece.
Microsoft

Microsoft Sticks With Controversial 'GVFS' Name Despite Backlash (medium.com) 203

New submitter DuroSoft writes: It has been over a year since Microsoft unveiled its open source GVFS (Git Virtual File System) project, designed to make terabyte-scale repositories, like it's own 270GB Windows source code, manageable using Git. The problem is that the GNOME project already has a virtual file system by the name of GVfs that has been in use for years, with hundreds of threads on Stack Overflow, etc. Yet Microsoft's GVFS has already surpassed GVfs in Google and is causing confusion. To make matters worse, Microsoft has officially refused to change the name, despite a large public backlash on GitHub and social media, and despite pull requests providing scripts that can change the name to anything Microsoft wants. Is this mere arrogance on Microsoft's part, laziness to do a quick Google search before using a name, or is it something more sinister?
Cellphones

Why No One Answers Their Phone Anymore (theatlantic.com) 429

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via The Atlantic, written by Alexis C. Madrigal: No one picks up the phone anymore. Even many businesses do everything they can to avoid picking up the phone. Of the 50 or so calls I received in the last month, I might have picked up four or five times. The reflex of answering -- built so deeply into people who grew up in 20th-century telephonic culture -- is gone. There are many reasons for the slow erosion of this commons. The most important aspect is structural: There are simply more communication options. Text messaging and its associated multimedia variations are rich and wonderful: words mixed with emoji, Bitmoji, reaction gifs, regular old photos, video, links. Texting is fun, lightly asynchronous, and possible to do with many people simultaneously. It's almost as immediate as a phone call, but not quite. You've got your Twitter, your Facebook, your work Slack, your email, FaceTimes incoming from family members. So many little dings have begun to make the rings obsolete.

But in the last couple years, there is a more specific reason for eyeing my phone's ring warily. Perhaps 80 or even 90 percent of the calls coming into my phone are spam of one kind or another. [...] There are unsolicited telemarketing calls. There are straight-up robocalls that merely deliver recorded messages. There are the cyborg telemarketers, who sit in call centers playing prerecorded bits of audio to simulate a conversation. There are the spam phone calls, whose sole purpose seems to be verifying that your phone number is real and working.

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