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Cloud

How The IoT Will Change The Chip (techcrunch.com) 55

"Get ready for some big changes in the 'silicon' of Silicon Valley," writes tech CEO Narbeh Derhacobian who argues that the need to build tens of billions of connected sensor devices will change the way computers get built. "Just like smartphone owners like to pick and choose which apps they want, IoT manufacturers may want to shop for components individually without being locked into a single fab." An anonymous reader summarizes his article on TechCrunch: Thousands of different hardware devices, each selling around one million units, "would suggest the need for a much greater diversity of chip configurations than we've seen to date." Currently smartphones are engineered using a "System on a Chip" design where all the components are "locked into a single manufacturing process," but Derhacobian predicts chip manufacturers will continue a trend of moving towards a "System in a Package" approach -- "packing components closely together, without the complete, end-to-end integration... In a smart, connected world, sensor requirements could vary greatly from factory to factory, not to mention between industries as varied as agriculture, urban planning and automotive."

"In some ways, the great trends of the PC and smartphone eras were toward standardization of devices. Apple's great vision was understanding that people prefer a beautiful, integrated package, and don't need many choices in hardware. But in software it's generally the opposite. People have different needs, and want to select the apps and programs that work best for them."

Facebook

Too Fat For Facebook: Photo Banned For Depicting Body In 'Undesirable Manner' (theguardian.com) 485

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Guardian: Facebook has apologized for banning a photo of a plus-sized model and telling the feminist group that posted the image that it depicts "body parts in an undesirable manner". Cherchez la Femme, an Australian group that hosts popular culture talkshows with "an unapologetically feminist angle", said Facebook rejected an advert featuring Tess Holliday, a plus-sized model wearing a bikini, telling the group it violated the company's "ad guidelines". After the group appealed against the rejection, Facebook's ad team initially defended the decision, writing that the photo failed to comply with the social networking site's "health and fitness policy". "Ads may not depict a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable," Facebook wrote. "Ads like these are not allowed since they make viewers feel bad about themselves. Instead, we recommend using an image of a relevant activity, such as running or riding a bike." In a statement on Monday, Facebook apologized for its original stance and said it had determined that the photo does comply with its guidelines.Facebook said that its team scans millions of ad images every week, and sometimes understandably misses out on a few.
Network

Americans Used Nearly 10 Trillion Megabytes of Mobile Data Last Year (washingtonpost.com) 91

An anonymous reader writes: A report from CTIA released Monday found that consumers have nearly doubled their consumption of mobile data last year. It found that last month, consumers chugged down 804 billion megabytes of data, which adds up to a total of 9.65 billion gigabytes. The numbers are especially significant when compared to previous years. "From December 2013 to December 2014, U.S. data consumption grew by about 26 percent. But over the following year, it grew by 137 percent," writes Washington Post. YouTube and Netflix account for over half of North American internet traffic at peak hours, according to the networking equipment firm Sandvine. That figure spikes to 70 percent when streaming audio is part of the mix. The wireless industry as a result raked in nearly $200 billion last year alone, which is a 70 percent jump compared to a decade ago. The numbers are likely to rise as more and more devices become connected to the internet. With news of films from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar coming to Netflix this September, we're likely to see mobile data use increase even more this year.
Security

Foul-Mouthed Worm Takes Control Of Wireless ISPs Around the Globe (arstechnica.com) 36

Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica (edited and condensed): ISPs around the world are being attacked by self-replicating malware that can take complete control of widely used wireless networking equipment, according to reports from customers. San Jose, California-based Ubiquiti Networks confirmed recently that attackers are actively targeting a flaw in AirOS, the Linux-based firmware that runs the wireless routers, access points, and other gear sold by the company. The vulnerability, which allows attackers to gain access to the devices over HTTP and HTTPS connections without authenticating themselves, was patched last July, but the fix wasn't widely installed. Many customers claimed they never received notification of the threat.ISPs in Argentina, Spain, Brazil have been attacked by the worm, said Nico Waisman, a research at security firm Immunity, adding that it's likely that ISPs in the U.S. and other places have also been attacked by the same malware. From the report, "Once successful, the exploit he examined replaces the password files of an infected device and then scans the network it's on for other vulnerable gear. After a certain amount of time, the worm resets infected devices to their factory default configurations, with the exception of leaving behind a backdoor account, and then disappears."
Communications

PornHub's 'Bangfit' Program Uses Sexy Exercise To Build Muscle (mashable.com) 83

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mashable: A new program created by PornHub called "BangFit" features 'sexercises' that allow players to build and tone muscle. Instead of forcing people to go the gym, Bangfit users simply practice sexual exercises, otherwise known as actual sex. Finally, you can gyrate and hump your way to the body of your dreams. BangFit users follow along with videos as they execute positions like the "squat and thrust" and "missionary press." Players can sync their phones to the workout in order to track their progress and measure the amount of calories burned. While the concept sounds simply gimmicky, BangFit says they designed the app using real science and professionals in the field. PornHub is also retailing an adjustable band that keeps your smartphone closer to to your body, making it easier for the gyroscope to track your movements (judge your performance?). Anytime you complete a level, PornHub congratulates you on your success with a phrase like, "You're the gymanastiest," which is simultaneously rewarding and disgusting. You can watch the retro NSFW introduction video here.
Network

Linksys WRT Routers Won't Block Open Source Firmware, Despite FCC Rules (arstechnica.com) 113

The FCC requires all manufacturers to prevent users from having any direct ability to change RF parameters (frequency limits, output power, country codes, etc). The easiest way for a router manufacturer to comply with FCC's guideline is to block the open source router firmware -- which is what TP-Link has been doing. But thankfully, at least one router manufacturer doesn't think blocking the firmware is the right way to go about it. Ars Technica reports: Linksys has been collaborating with chipmaker Marvell and the makers of OpenWrt to make sure its latest WRT routers can comply with the new rules without blocking open source firmware, company officials told Ars. Linksys' effort stands in contrast with TP-Link, which said it would entirely prevent loading of open source firmware on its routers to satisfy the new Federal Communications Commission requirements. "They're named WRT... it's almost our responsibility to the open source community," Linksys router product manager Vince La Duca told Ars. Cybersecurity experts have urged the router manufacturers to not block open source firmware.
Google

Google News Will Now Highlight Local News Sources For Major Stories (theverge.com) 18

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Google's News section will now highlight the importance of local news sources. "When a local story is picked up by national publishers, it can be difficult for local sources to be heard even after they've done the legwork and research to break a story," admits James Morehead, Google News product manager. Google is helping with a new change today that will see a "Local Source" tag applied to all Google News instances. Google is tagging local news based on where a publisher has written about previously and matching it to a story location. Tagged articles will be available on the web and in Google's iOS and Android apps, and will serve as a way to highlight a local source on a national story.
Network

Comcast Is Raising Its Data Caps From 300GB To 1TB (arstechnica.com) 145

An anonymous reader writes: Comcast has announced today it will be raising its monthly data cap of 300GB to 1TB beginning June 1st. They will however charge more to customers who want unlimited data. After June 1st, less people will need to buy unlimited data from the company. Previously, users were charged an extra $30 to $35 a month for unlimited data but now they will have to pay an additional $50 for unlimited data. "All of the data plans in our trial markets will move from a 300 gigabyte data plan to a terabyte by June 1st, regardless of the speed," Comcast's announcement today said. The reason for the change? Customers are exceeding the 300GB cap. In late 2013, Comcast said only 2 percent of its customers used more than 300GB of data a month. That number was up to 8 percent in late 2015.
Encryption

Millions Of Waze Users Can Have Their Movements Tracked By Hackers (fusion.net) 55

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fusion: Researchers at the University of California-Santa Barbara recently discovered a Waze vulnerability that allowed them to create thousands of "ghost drivers" that can monitor the drivers around them -- an exploit that could be used to track Waze users in real-time. Here's how the exploit works. Waze's servers communicate with phones using an SSL encrypted connection, a security precaution meant to ensure that Waze's computers are really talking to a Waze app on someone's smartphone. Zhao and his graduate students discovered they could intercept that communication by getting the phone to accept their own computer as a go-between in the connection. Once in between the phone and the Waze servers, they could reverse-engineer the Waze protocol, learning the language that the Waze app uses to talk to Waze's back-end app servers. With that knowledge in hand, the team was able to write a program that issued commands directly to Waze servers, allowing the researchers to populate the Waze system with thousands of "ghost cars" -- cars that could cause a fake traffic jam or, because Waze is a social app where drivers broadcast their locations, monitor all the drivers around them. You can read the full paper detailing the researchers' findings here. Is there a solution to not being tracked? Yes. If you're a Waze user, you can set the app to invisible mode. However, Waze turns off invisible mode every time you restart the app so beware.
Facebook

Facebook Is Building A Standalone Camera App To Encourage Its 1.6 Billion Users To Share More (theverge.com) 57

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Facebook engineers in London are working on a standalone camera app with a big live-streaming component. Similar to Snapchat, the app would open straight into a camera to foster immediate capturing and posting of photos and videos, as well as letting users stream via Facebook Live. With billions of smartphones in the world and near-ubiquitous high-speed data connections, Facebook sees a huge opportunity to get its 1.6 billion users sharing more than ever before. A camera app may help the company do that, and better compete with Snapchat at the same time. Facebook has recently rolled out a major live video update allowing anyone to post live streams of themselves to their timeline. Previously, only celebrities and public figures were allowed to use the feature. With this new Facebook Live update and standalone camera app reportedly in the works, the only thing holding Mark Zuckerberg back with his plan to triple the size of his social network is affordable internet.
Security

Active Drive-By Exploits Critical Android Bugs, Care Of Hacking Team (arstechnica.com) 45

Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica: An ongoing drive-by attack is forcing ransomware onto Android smartphones by exploiting critical vulnerabilities in older versions of Google's mobile operating system still in use by millions of people, according to research scheduled to be published Monday. The attack combines exploits for at least two critical vulnerabilities contained in Android versions 4.0 through 4.3, including an exploit known as Towelroot, which gives attackers unfettered "root" access to vulnerable phones. The exploit code appears to borrow heavily from, if not copy outright, some of these Android attack scripts, which leaked to the world following the embarrassing breach of Italy-based Hacking Team in July. Additional data indicates devices running Android 4.4 may also be infected, possibly by exploiting a different set of vulnerabilities.Blue Coat, a California-based provider of security and networking solutions writes: This is the first time, to my knowledge; an exploit kit has been able to successfully install malicious apps on a mobile device without any user interaction on the part of the victim. During the attack, the device did not display the normal "application permissions" dialog box that typically precedes installation of an Android application. After consulting with analyst Joshua Drake of Zimperium, he was able to confirm that the Javascript used to initiate the attack contains an exploit against libxslt that was leaked during the Hacking Team breach. Drake also confirmed that the payload of that exploit, a Linux ELF executable named module.so, contains the code for the "futex" or "Towelroot" exploit that was first disclosed at the end of 2014.
Communications

Smart Mattress With Lover Detection System Will Track Your Partner's Infidelities (hothardware.com) 161

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Do you worry that your significant other is having mid-day romps in your bedroom while you're stuck at work banging out TPS reports? There's an app for that, and a smart mattress with built-in sensors to detect when between-the-sheet activities are taking place, with or without your participation. It's part of what a mattress company in Spain is calling its "lover detection system." You can't make this stuff up. Or maybe you can. You might seriously question whether or not the so-called Smarttress from Durmet is a real thing or an attempt at a viral marketing stunt. By all accounts, it certainly looks real. There are two dozen ultrasonic sensors embedded in the springs of the mattress. These tell-all sensors detect the speed and intensity of motion, how long the mattress has been active, and the history of encounters. That data is used to create a 3D map in real time, which you can view on your mobile device with an app for either iOS or Android devices.
Businesses

Mitel Buys Polycom For $1.96B In Enterprise Communications Consolidation Play (techcrunch.com) 14

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Mitel announced that it would acquire Polycom in a cash-and-stock deal with a total value of $1.96 billion, creating a company with combined sales of $2.5 billion and 7,700 employees. Polycom's acquisition by Mitel comes at a key time in the world of enterprise communications and collaboration. On one hand, it is a time of massive change and evolution. For years a lot of the services that companies used were based on legacy networking, but in the last decade there has been a big shift to IP-based networks for many of these services. However, at the same time the whole space has been massively disrupted by startups that are upsetting by tapping into the next phase of digital services -- the internet. Companies like Microsoft by way of services like Skype and Yammer, and smaller startups like Slack, are overturning the whole idea of how people who are not in the same office floor can communicate and collaborate for work. These solutions are way cheaper than a lot of the legacy offerings; they tap into the cloud-based services that are now ubiquitous to share and work on files; and they are also built in very user-friendly ways, based around tech that ordinary consumers are using. Both companies compete against the likes of Cisco and Avaya. Mitel is perhaps best known for its IP telephony solutions, including PBX systems, while Polycom is a leader in conferencing services. They also cover SIP technology, and customers span 82% of Fortune 500 companies.
Education

After 150 Years, the American Productivity Miracle Is 'Over' (qz.com) 431

An anonymous reader shares an article on Quartz: Economist Robert Gordon has spent his career studying what makes the US labor force one of the world's most productive. And he has some bad news. American workers still produce some of most economic activity per hour of any economy in the world. But the near-miraculous productivity growth that essentially transformed the US into one of the world's most affluent societies is permanently in the country's rearview mirror. In his new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the Northwestern University professor lays out the case that the productivity miracle underlying the American way of life was largely a one-time deal. It was driven by a flurry of technologies -- electric lights, telephones, automobiles, indoor plumbing -- that fundamentally transformed millions of American lives within a matter of decades. By comparison, Gordon argues, today's technological advancements -- Uber, Facebook, Amazon.com -- will touch the productivity of the American economy lightly -- if at all. And a combination of demographic factors, such as the aging of the US population, and sociological problems such as growing inequality and educational performance that's worsened in comparison to many other rich nations, will stymie economic growth for the foreseeable future.For those not following Gordon's work, he has been expressing these views for quite some time now. Here's his TED talk from 2013 It shouldn't come as a surprise that many strongly disagree with Gordon's views. Kevin Kelly wrote in 2013: I think Robert Gordon is wrong about his conclusion: According to Gordon growth has stalled in the internet age. This question was first asked by Robert Solow in 1987 and Gordon's answer is that there are 6 'headwinds' six negative, or contrary forces which deduct growth from the growth due to technology in the US (Gordon reiterates he is only speaking of the US). The six 'headwinds' slowing down growth are the aging of the US population, stagnant levels of education, rising inequality, outsourcing and globalization, environmental constraints, and household and government debt. I agree with Gordon about these headwinds, particularly the first one, which he also sees as the most important. Where Gordon is wrong is his misunderstanding and underestimating of the power of technological growth before it meets these headwinds. First, as mentioned above, he underestimates the value of the innovations that the internet has brought us. They seem trivial compared to running water and electric lights, but in fact, as billions around the world show us, they are just as valuable. [...] So the 3rd Industrial Revolution is not really computers and the internet, it is the networking of everything. And in that regime we are just at the beginning of the beginning. We have only begun to connect everything to everything and to make little network minds everywhere. It may take another 80 years for the full effect of this revolution to be revealed. In the year 2095 when economic grad students are asked to review this paper of Robert Gordon and write about why he was wrong back in 2012, they will say things like "Gordon missed the impact from the real inventions of this revolution: big data, ubiquitous mobile, quantified self, cheap AI, and personal work robots. All of these were far more consequential than stand alone computation, and yet all of them were embryonic and visible when he wrote his paper. He was looking backwards instead of forward." You might also find Freakonomics' Stephen J. Dubner views on this interesting.
Security

Optional Windows Update Aims To Halt Wireless Mouse Hijacking 25

Reader itwbennett writes: An optional Windows patch released Tuesday protects against an attack, dubbed MouseJack that affects wireless mice and keyboards from many manufacturers, including Microsoft and allows attackers to spoof a wireless mouse from up to 100 meters away and send rogue keystrokes instead of clicks to a computer. According to a Microsoft security advisory, the devices affected by this attack are: Sculpt Ergonomic mouse, Sculpt Mobile Mouse, Wireless Mobile Mouse 3000 v2.0, Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500, Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000, Wireless Mouse 1000, Wireless Mouse 2000, Wireless Mouse 5000 and Arc Touch Mouse. But Marc Newlin, one of the researchers who developed the attack said on Twitter that the patch doesn't go far enough and 'injection still works against MS Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse and non-MS mice.'
Networking

The Battle Between LTE and Wi-Fi May Have Left LTE-U Out In the Cold (networkworld.com) 60

alphadogg quotes a report from Networkworld: After more than a year of rancor over whether it would hurt Wi-Fi, a technology that lets LTE networks use unlicensed spectrum may have already missed its window of opportunity. LTE-Unlicensed is designed to improve cellular service by tapping into some of the frequencies used by Wi-Fi and other unlicensed technologies. But almost as soon as LTE-U was proposed in late 2014, Wi-Fi supporters pounced. They charged that it would drown out Wi-Fi signals because LTE didn't know how to make room for other users. Now carriers may be getting ready to bypass LTE-U altogether in favor of another system, called LAA (Licensed Assisted Access), that does the same thing but with additional protections for Wi-Fi. The LAA standard is complete, and products are expected to start shipping later this year.
Communications

The Guardian Publishes Comment Abuse Stats, Invites Debate On Moderation (theguardian.com) 303

AmiMoJo writes: British newspaper The Guardian has published some stats on its popular comment sections attached to each story. So far the Guardian's site has received 70 million comments, of which around 2% were removed for violation of community standards. Articles written by women tended to get the most blocked comments, especially if they were in male-writer dominated sections like sports and technology, while fashion was one of the few areas where men got more abuse. Further down the article the reader is invited to moderate some sample comments and see how their actions compared to those of the paper's staff. You can leave suggestions for improvement here.
Programming

Slashdot Asks: What Are Some Insults No Developer Wants To Hear? (infoworld.com) 523

snydeq writes: Flame wars in the bug tracker might be exactly the right (harsh) feedback your code needs, writes Peter Wayner in his run-down of the insults no programmer wants to hear about their code or coding skills. "The technology world is a bit different than the pretty, coiffed world of suits and salesdroids where everyone is polite, even when they hate your guts and think you're an idiot. Suit-clad managers may smile and hide their real message by the way they say you're doing "great, real great pal," but programmers often speak their minds, and when that mind has something unpleasant to say, look-out, feelings." Instead of posting this story in a click-bait fashion as presented from InfoWorld, we thought we'd ask the developers of Slashdot: What are some insults no developer wants to hear? Some of the classic insults include: N00b, /dev/null, Eye Candy, Fanboi, and [Nothing]. Are there any insults you are familiar with that aren't mentioned in the list?
AI

Ford Tests Its Self-Driving Car In Total Darkness Using LiDAR Tech (fortune.com) 91

An anonymous reader writes: Using a combination of radar, cameras, and light-sensitive radar called LiDAR, one of Ford's self-driving cars has successfully navigated a winding road at night and without headlights. LiDAR works by emitting short pulses of laser light -- 2.8 million laser pulses a second -- so that the vehicle's software can create a real-time, high-definition 3D image of what's around it to determine the best driving path. Ford's self-driving cars come equipped with high-definition 3D maps, which include information about road markings, signs, geography, landmarks, and topography. If a vehicle isn't able to see the ground due to inclement conditions, it will detect above-ground landmarks to locate itself on the map. Ford's self-driving cars equipped with the LiDAR radar system are particularly noteworthy because they can operate without the usual cameras that depend on sunshine and street lamps.
Google

Google Fiber Drops Free Basic Service In Its Original City (engadget.com) 98

An anonymous reader writes: When Google Fiber first rolled out in Kansas City, it offered a free 5Mbps service if you were willing to pay a construction fee. As of recent, Google has quietly dropped that free tier in its first Fiber area, and has replaced it with a 100Mbps option that costs $50 per month. Anyone using the free tier has until May 19th to say they want to keep it. Note: Google will still offer the free service in low-income areas. Google Fiber customers in Austin and Provo still have the choice of the free internet option; Atlanta never had it to start with. Recode suggests this may reflect a broader change in strategy: Google has fiercer competition from incumbent carriers, so it may have to offer a fast-but-affordable selection to get those customers for whom the gigabit option is either too costly or sheer overkill.

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