theodp writes "After the school computer lab and public library close for the night in many communities, the local McDonald's is often the only place to turn for students without internet access at home. 'Cheap smartphones and tablets have put Web-ready technology into more hands than ever,' reports the WSJ's Anton Troianovski. 'But the price of Internet connectivity hasn't come down nearly as quickly. And in many rural areas, high-speed Internet through traditional phone lines simply isn't available at any price. The result is a divide between families that have broadband constantly available on their home computers and phones, and those that have to plan their days around visits to free sources of Internet access.' The FCC says it can make broadband available to all Americans by spending $45 billion over 10 years, but until then the U.S. will have to rely on Mickey D's, Starbucks, and others to help address its digital divide. Time to update that iconic McDonald's sign?"
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ananyo writes "Transistors, the simple switches at the heart of all modern electronics, generally use a tiny voltage to toggle between 'on' and 'off.' The voltage approach is highly reliable and easy to miniaturize, but has its disadvantages. First, keeping the voltage on requires power, which drives up the energy consumption of the microchip. Second, transistors must be hard-wired into the chips and can't be reconfigured, which means computers need dedicated circuitry for all their functions. Now, researchers have made a type of transistor that can be switched with magnetism. The device could cut the power consumption of computers, cell phones and other electronics — and allow chips themselves to be 'reprogrammed' (abstract)."
coondoggie writes "When it comes to relatively new technologies, few have been developing at the relentless pace of mobile. But with that development has come a serious threat to the security of personal information and privacy. The Federal Trade Commission has issued a report (PDF) on mobility issues and said less than one-third of Americans feel they are in control of their personal information on their mobile devices. 'The report makes recommendations for critical players in the mobile marketplace: mobile platforms (operating system providers, such as Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, Google, and Microsoft), application (app) developers, advertising networks and analytics companies, and app developer trade associations. ... The report recommends that mobile platforms should: Provide just-in-time disclosures to consumers and obtain their affirmative express consent before allowing apps to access sensitive content like geolocation; Consider developing a one-stop “dashboard” approach to allow consumers to review the types of content accessed by the apps they have downloaded; Consider offering a Do Not Track (DNT) mechanism for smartphone users.'"
TwineLogic writes "Many Slashdot readers have been enjoying the availability of $20 USB radios which can tune in the range of 50MHz-2GHz. These devices, while cheap, have limited bandwidth (about 2MHz) and minimal resolution (8-bit). Nuand, a new start-up from Santa Clara, wants to improve on that. Their Kickstarter proposal for bladeRF, a Software Defined Radio transceiver, will support 20MHz bandwidth and 12-bit samples. The frequency range to be covered is planned as 300MHz-3.6Ghz. In addition to the extended spectrum coverage, higher bandwidth, and increased resolution, the bladeRF will have an on-board FPGA capable of performing signal processing and an Altera processor as well. SDR hobbyists have been using the inexpensive receivers to decode airplane data transmission giving locations and mechanical condition, GPS signals, and many other digital signals traveling through the air around us. This new device would extend the range of inexpensive SDRs beyond the spectrum of 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. In addition, the peripheral includes a low-power transmitter which the experimenter can use without needing a 'Ham' license."
An anonymous reader writes "All software has bugs, but this one is a particularly odd one. If you type "File:///" (no quotes) into almost any app on your Mac, it will crash. The discovery was made recently and a bug report was posted to Open Radar. First off, it’s worth noting that the bug only appears to be present in OS X Mountain Lion and is not reproducible in Lion or Snow Leopard. That’s not exactly good news given that this is the latest release of Apple’s operating system, which an increasing number of Mac users are switching to. ... A closer look shows the bug is inside Data Detectors, a feature that lets apps recognize dates, locations, and contact data, making it easy for you to save this information in your address book and calendar."
djl4570 writes "xkcd's 'What If' series consists of humorous takes on highly implausible but oddly interesting hypothetical physics questions, like how to cook a steak with heat from atmospheric re-entry. The most recent entry dealt with flying a Cessna on other planets and moons in the solar system. Mars: 'The tricky thing is that with so little atmosphere, to get any lift, you have to go fast. You need to approach Mach 1 just to get off the ground, and once you get moving, you have so much inertia that it’s hard to change course—if you turn, your plane rotates, but keeps moving in the original direction.' Venus: 'Unfortunately, X-Plane is not capable of simulating the hellish environment near the surface of Venus. But physics calculations give us an idea of what flight there would be like. The upshot is: Your plane would fly pretty well, except it would be on fire the whole time, and then it would stop flying, and then stop being a plane.' There are also a bunch of illustrations for flightpaths on various moons (crashpaths might be more apt), which drew the attention of physics professor Rhett Allain, who explained the math in further detail and provided more accurate paths."
gannebraemorr writes "U-T San Diego reports that the city has become 'the latest in a cadre of California cities turning their backs on red-light cameras — aloof intersection sentries that have prompted $490 tickets to be mailed to 20,000 motorists per year' there. 'Mayor Bob Filner announced his decision to take down the city's 21 cameras at a news conference set at the most prolific intersection for the tickets, North Harbor Drive and West Grape Street, near San Diego International Airport. A crew went to work immediately taking down "photo enforced" signs throughout the city. "Seems to me that such a program can only be justified if there are demonstrable facts that prove that they raise the safety awareness and decrease accidents in our city," Filner said of the cameras. "The data, in fact, does not really prove it."' I have to say I'm a bit surprised that my city is voluntarily shedding potentially $9.8M in revenue after objectively evaluating a program. I wonder how much a system would cost that could switch my light from green to red if it detected a vehicle approaching from a red-lit direction at dangerous speeds. Can you think of an other alternative uses for these cameras?"
Flozzin writes with news that documents published to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's website have provided new details about Project Glass, Google's augmented-reality headset. "A test report describes video playing on the device alongside audio running to a 'vibrating element.' The description tallies with a patent filing suggesting it plays sound via 'bone-conduction' tech rather than earbuds. Developers are due to receive a test edition of the headset later this year. ... [The FCC's papers] describe data being sent to the small screen display via wi-fi and Bluetooth using a radio unit manufactured by Broadcom. The equipment is also said to be able to store video files internally and can be recharged by plugging a power connector into the computing unit on the right-hand arm of the glasses' frame. However, the most arresting detail is the suggestion that audio is provided without the user needing to wear headphones which might disturb how they hear ambient sounds. Last week Google filed a patent application entitled Wearable Computing Device with Indirect Bone-Conduction Speaker."
ncc189 writes "The Funimation Roku channel has been basically unusable during primetime for about a month now. With very little feedback from the company and no improvements to the service at all, I canceled my account. My question to Slashdot users is: how long do you give a service to fix issues before you cancel the service, and how much leeway do you give the service's representatives in communicating issue with us? It seems to me that a few days is more than enough in the internet age; 3+ weeks is beyond reason. How long do you think is fair for services like this?"
When the Wii U was released at the end of last year, Nintendo got a head-start on the long-awaited new generation of video game consoles. Now, Sony has announced a press conference for February 20th that is expected to unveil the PlayStation 4, codenamed 'Orbis.' This will precede the announcement of the Xbox 360's successor, codenamed 'Durango,' but that too will likely be announced by E3 in June. Specs for development kits of both systems have leaked widely. The two systems both use 8-core AMD chips clocked around 1.6 GHz. Durango has 8GB of DDR3 RAM, while Orbis has 4GB of GDDR5 RAM, though Sony is trying to push that up to 8GB for the console's final spec. Reports also suggest Sony is tinkering with its controller design, going so far as to add a "Share" button to let people exchange screenshots and recordings. Developers indicate the systems are very close in power, though Sony's system currently has an edge. With the upcoming announcement of the PS4, the big-three console makers will kick off a new round of direct competition. They'll maneuver to one-up each other with the most powerful hardware and the slickest software. However, they'll also hope the release of three major consoles in rapid succession will help to anchor a part of the games industry that no longer enjoys the dominance it once did, thanks to threats from mobile.
johnsnails writes "Around 60 students at Harvard University have been suspended and others disciplined in a mass cheating scandal at the elite college, the campus newspaper reports. The Harvard Crimson quoted an email from Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean Michael Smith that said more than half of the cases heard by administrators in the scandal, which erupted last year, had resulted in suspension orders. 'After professor Matthew B. Platt reported suspicious similarities on a handful of take-home exams in his spring course Government 1310: “Introduction to Congress,” the College launched an investigation that eventually expanded to involve almost half of the 279 students enrolled in the course.'"
tsu doh nimh writes "A sophisticated cyberattack targeted The Washington Post in an operation that resembled intrusions against other major American news organizations and that company officials suspect was the work of Chinese hackers, the publication acknowledged on Friday. The disclosure came just hours after a former Post employee shared information about the break-in with ex-Postie reporter Brian Krebs, and caps a week marked by similar stories from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Krebs cites a former Post tech worker saying that the publication gave one of its hacked servers to the National Security Agency for analysis, a claim that the Post's leadership denies. The story also notes that the Post relied on software from Symantec, the same security software that failed to detect intrusions at The New York Times for many months."
jones_supa writes "Apple has been forced to remove the Mac Pro from sale in the European Union after an amendment to a safety regulation left the machines non-compliant. The updated electronics safety standard IEC 60950-1 increases requirements around electrical port protection (PDF) and the fan guards in the system. Apple does not plan to modify their machines and will simply pull them from market in the EU. Apple wishes to warn customers and partners about the change so that they would have sufficient time to order Mac Pro units and meet any needs prior to 1 March, when the amendment comes into effect."
Lucas123 writes "IronKey has released a thumb drive certified to be used as a bootable Windows 8 device, enabling users to use Windows To Go — an enterprise feature of Windows 8 — to deliver a fully portable desktop. While Imation doesn't promote this feature, users can also boot up this USB on any Intel-based Apple computer. The flash drive has its drawbacks. It's not yet FIPS certified, it can't be provisioned as storage, and it lacks admin management features. The IronKey Workspace drive comes in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB capacities. It offers either 128-bit or 256-bit full disk encryption. Users must purchase the Windows 8 software separately. According to Imation's specifications, the IronKey Workspace has a maximum average read speed of 300MB/sec. and an average write speed of 100MB/sec. to 200MB/sec. When I timed the boot-up times, the initial boot-up from the USB drive was slow — 3 minutes and 40 seconds — but the drive was configuring itself. Subsequent boot-ups took a mere 35 seconds. Shutdown is near instantaneous — about 2 seconds. The flash drive is priced from $129 to $389 depending on capacity."
New submitter Flozzin writes with news of some resolution to the long-standing dispute that some French publishers have had with Google for republishing snippets of news reports without sharing revenue earned from the ads run alongside. Now, reports the BBC, "Google has agreed to create a 60m euro ($82m; £52m) fund to help French media organisations improve their internet operations. It follows two months of negotiations after local news sites had demanded payment for the privilege of letting the search giant display their links. The French government had threatened to tax the revenue Google made from posting ads alongside the results."