Geek Stuff

Report: 2 Google Nexus phones coming in 2015, with 5.2 and 5.7 inch screens

Liliputing -

Google’s worked with hardware partners to launch a new Nexus smartphone every year since 2010. But this may be the first year Google launches two Nexus smartphones. Rumors that Google is working on two phones have been making the rounds for a while, but now there’s a little bit of evidence to back up the latest […]

Report: 2 Google Nexus phones coming in 2015, with 5.2 and 5.7 inch screens is a post from: Liliputing

IRS: Personal Info of 100,000 Taxpayers Accessed Illegally

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: The Associated Press reports that an online service provided by the IRS was used to gather the personal information of more than 100,000 taxpayers. Criminals were able to scrape the "Get Transcript" system to acquire tax return information. They already had a significant amount of information about these taxpayers, though — the system required a security check that included knowledge of a person's social security number, date of birth, and filing status. The system has been shut down while the IRS investigates and implements better security, and they're notifying the taxpayers whose information was accessed.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Sharp’s latest phones can play slow-motion video at 2,100 frames per second

Liliputing -

There are a number of smartphones let you shoot video at high frame rates using the built-in camera, allowing you to play files back as slow motion video. But Sharp is going a bit further than most by offering support for up to 2,1000 frames per second. Kind of. PC World reports the new Sharp Aquos […]

Sharp’s latest phones can play slow-motion video at 2,100 frames per second is a post from: Liliputing

Amtrak Installing Cameras To Watch Train Engineers

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: In the aftermath of the derailment of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia a couple weeks ago, the company has caved to demands that it install video cameras to monitor and record the actions of the engineers driving their trains. The National Transportation Safety Board has been recommending such cameras for the past five years. Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman says the cameras will improve train safety, though the engineers' union disagrees. In 2013, the union's president said, "Installation of cameras will provide the public nothing more than a false sense of security. More than a century of research establishes that monitoring workers actually reduces the ability to perform complex tasks, such as operating a train, because of the distractive effect."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

SanDisk introduces Z400s SSD, promises hard-drive like prices

Liliputing -

Solid state drives have a lot of advantages over hard drives. They consume less power, generate less heat, and usually offer faster read and write speeds. Since an SSD has no moving parts, it’s also less likely to break than a HDD if you drop your laptop or other device. But there’s one area where […]

SanDisk introduces Z400s SSD, promises hard-drive like prices is a post from: Liliputing

Microsoft Bringing Cortana To iOS, Android

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: While many big tech companies have their own personal assistant software these days, few of them are available on a broad variety of devices. Microsoft has now announced that it's becoming one of those few: Cortana will be available for iOS and Android devices later this year. It's part of an initiative by the company to ensure Windows 10 plays well with all sorts of devices, even phones made by the other major manufacturers. Microsoft said, "Regardless of the operating systems you choose across your devices – everything important to you should roam across the products you already own – including your phone." This led them to develop a "Phone Companion app," built into Windows 10, that's designed to help sync a user's PC with his phone.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Linux/Moose Worm Targets Routers, Modems, and Embedded Systems

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: Security firm ESET has published a report on new malware that targets Linux-based communication devices (modems, routers, and other internet-connected systems) to create a giant proxy network for manipulating social media. It's also capable of hijacking DNS settings. The people controlling the system use it for selling "follows," "likes," and so forth on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Facebook, and Google+. Affected router manufacturers include: Actiontec, Hik Vision, Netgear, Synology, TP-Link, ZyXEL, and Zhone. The researchers found that even some medical devices were vulnerable to the worm, though it wasn't designed specifically to work with them.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft Office and Skype to come with Android tablets from 30+ companies

Liliputing -

Buy a Windows laptop or desktop computer from most companies, and odds are it comes with a little bloatware: PC makers have a habit of loading a few of their own apps, plus software from partners (who may have paid for a place on your computer). One place where you can buy Windows laptops with […]

Microsoft Office and Skype to come with Android tablets from 30+ companies is a post from: Liliputing

Supreme Court Rejects Attempt to Expand Patent Liability, But Limits Defenses

EFF's Deeplinks -

Today, the Supreme Court decided Commil v. Cisco, a patent case that asked whether having a “good-faith belief” that a patent is invalid means that someone can’t induce infringement of a patent.

As we previously noted, this is a complex area of patent law. Generally, the law is that someone “induces” infringement if they encourage someone else to perform the patented act or make the patented product, with full knowledge of the patent and with intent to infringe the patent. So the question: does someone have intent to induce infringement if they have a good-faith belief that the patent is invalid?

Despite the limited nature of this question, the patent owner and the Government wanted to go further. Commil (the patent owner) and the Government (through the Solicitor General) asked that the Court overrule a previous holding in Global-Tech vs. SEB on inducing infringement. They wanted someone to be liable for inducement even if they never intended to cause infringement, that is, they had a good-faith reason to believe what they were doing was not infringing. We argued against this interpretation in our amicus brief to the Court.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court soundly rejected the broader argument made by the patent owner and the Government:

Accepting the Government and Commil’s argument would require this Court to depart from its prior holding….And the Global-Tech rationale is sound. Qualifying or limiting its holding, as the Government and Commil seek to do, would lead to the conclusion, both in inducement and contributory infringement cases, that a person, or entity, could be liable even though he did not know the acts were infringing. In other words, even if the defendant reads the patent’s claims differently from the plaintiff, and that reading is reasonable, he would still be liable because he knew the acts might infringe. Global-Tech requires more. It requires proof the defendant knew the acts were infringing. And the Court’s opinion was clear in rejecting any lesser mental state as the standard.

However, in answering the narrower question before the Court, the Supreme Court agreed with Commil. It held that a good-faith belief in a patent's invalidity is not a defense to inducement, that is, “belief in invalidity will not negate the scienter required under §271(b).” The Supreme Court found that because of the statutory text and because other avenues existed to challenge patents, there was no reason to read the statute to provide for this defense.

We’re disappointed with this part of the outcome. Many of the worst patents out there are easily wielded as weapons precisely because they are very broad (meaning they are often infringed) but also likely invalid (often as a result of Alice v. CLS Bank). This part of the ruling is limited to situations where a patent is both infringed and invalid. But patent trolls with invalid patents can still use this decision to extort money since they might have a stronger infringement claim and can strategically dismiss lawsuits to evade having their patent invalidated by a court when actually challenged (a fact the Supreme Court didn’t consider).

Interestingly, the Court briefly acknowledged the patent troll problem. In the final part of the opinion, the Court noted the patent troll "industry," and pointed out that "that district courts have the authority and responsibility to ensure frivolous cases are dissuaded," by imposing sanctions under Rule 11 or attorney's fees under Octane v. ICON. While we're glad that the Court is aware of the problem, it could have done more by recognizing a good-faith belief in validity as a defense to inducement.

This opinion shows why quicker, cheaper, and more effective avenues are needed to challenge bad patents. Congress can ensure that it’s not easy for patent trolls to use invalid patents to threaten people. We hope they do that. 

Files:  commil_v_cisco.pdfRelated Issues: PatentsPatent TrollsInnovation
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The Senate Has Passed the TPP Fast Track Bill—We Now Take Our Fight to the House

EFF's Deeplinks -

The Senate passed a bill Friday night to put the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the Fast Track to approval. Its passage followed a series of stops and starts—an indication that this legislation was nearly too rife with controversy to pass. But after a series of deals and calls from corporate executives, senators ultimately swallowed their criticism and accepted the measure. If this bill ends up passing both chambers of Congress, that means the White House can rush the TPP through to congressional ratification, with lawmakers unable to fully debate or even amend agreements that have been negotiated entirely in secret. On the plus side, all of these delays in the Senate has led other TPP partners to delay any further negotiations on the trade agreement until Fast Track is approved by Congress.

So the fight now starts in the House, where proponents of secret trade deals still lack the votes to pass the bill. But the White House and other TPP proponents are fiercely determined to garner enough support among representatives to pass the bill, in order to give themselves almost unilateral power to enact extreme digital regulations in secret. We cannot let that happen.

In the House, we still have a chance to block the passage of Fast Track. That's why we are asking people in the U.S. to meet with their representatives and staff to nudge them to make the right decision. Back in DC, they may have heard arguments for and against the TPP. Your representative might think this so-called trade agreement is just about free trade, but they might not know how the copyright provisions and other leaked proposals in the TPP threaten the Internet, as well as users, developers, and start-ups across the country.

Lawmakers have headed back to their home district for the Memorial Day recess, so there's a chance you, as a constituent, can meet with them. Absent that, you can visit their district staff who can receive and forward on your concerns to your representative even after lawmakers go back to the Capitol. They will be receptive to the concerns of smart, tech-savvy constituents who care enough to arrange a meeting.

We know there's a big difference between calling and writing to your congressperson, and actually talking to them face-to-face. But this is a vital moment, and there's a fighting chance that your decision to meet with your representative's office could make all the difference.

If you're interested, read this guide on how to set up a meeting with your lawmakers. We also prepared a hand out with talking points for you to take with you when you go. We also encourage you to tell them about our letter with 250 tech companies and user rights groups urging Congress to oppose the TPP Fast Track for containing provisions that threaten digital innovation and users.

Powerful corporate interests like the Motion Picture Association of America, Recording Industry Association of America, and the Business Software Alliance are intent on having anti-user trade deals pass without proper oversight. That's because the policies they're pushing for couldn't otherwise pass in a participatory, transparent process. It's up to us to stop this massive, secret corporate hand out, and we're going to need all the help we can get.

If you end up meeting with your representative or their staff, please email info@eff.org to let us know how it went!

RESOURCE: A one-page talking points guide on the TPP Fast Track bill

And of course, you can also take action by getting in touch with your congressional representatives online, and letting them know that we're counting on them to defend the Internet from the White House's secret, anti-user deals.

Once you've taken the action, please take a moment to call them and let them know you're opposed to the TPP Fast Track. If you're on Twitter, help us call on influential members of Congress to come out against this bill.

Read about all of our concerns with the TPP agreement:


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Building Hospitable Open Source Communities (Video)

Slashdot -

This is an 11 minute excerpt from an hour-long video, contributed by long-time Slashdot user Erik Möller. This video is the moving picture equivalent of the typical Slashdot summary of a text article, complete with a link to the main article, which in this case is a video (over an hour long) at PassionateVoices.org. Erik's interviewee, Sumana Harihareswara, is also a long-time Slashdot reader who claims (admits?) that she met her husband through a Slashdot link, albeit indirectly. She's spent most of the past decade working with open source, much of it as a community leader. If you are in a leadership role in an open source community or plan to lead one someday, you may want to listen to the complete interview. Sumana has many useful things to say about how open source communities should -- and shouldn't -- be run.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Deals of the Day (5-26-2015)

Liliputing -

Lenovo’s Miix 2 11 is a Windows tablet with an 11.6 inch full HD display and a detachable keyboard dock that lets you use the computer like a notebook (assuming you don’t need to adjust the angle of the display, because the Miix 2 11 dock doesn’t have an adjustable hinge). There’s no shortage of 2-in-1 […]

Deals of the Day (5-26-2015) is a post from: Liliputing

Elon Musk Establishes a Grade School

Slashdot -

HughPickens.com writes with news that Elon Musk has established "Ad Astra," a small, private school for grade-school-age kids. His goal for the school is to eliminate actual differences between the grades. The school had only 14 students for the past year, but will likely expand to 20 next September. Musk says, "It's important to teach problem solving, or teach to the problem and not the tools." As an example, he says teaching kids about tools should be more about taking an engine apart and learning about neccessary tools as the need arises, rather than just dumping information on them about a bunch of tools in an abstract way. "Musk's approach to delete grade level numbers and focus on aptitude may take the pressure off non-linear students and creates a more balanced assessment of ingenuity."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hyundai Now Offers an Android Car, Even For Current Owners

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: Looking more like a computer company than a car company, Hyundai ships Android Auto on 2015 Sonatas and unlocks it for owners of the 2015 Sonata with a software update. Says the article: To enable Android Auto, existing 2015 Hyundai Sonata owners outfitted with the Navigation feature can download an update to a USB drive, plug it into the car's USB port, and rewrite the software installed in the factory on the head-unit. When the smartphone is plugged into the head-unit with a USB cable, the user is prompted to download Android Auto along with mobile apps. Android Auto requires Android 5.0 or above. That sounds like a good description of how I'd like my car's head unit to work -- and for that matter, I'd like access to all of the software.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hot Topic To Buy ThinkGeek Parent Company Geeknet

Slashdot -

jones_supa points out the news (also at Ars Technica, and -- paywalled -- at the Wall Street Journal) that clothing and music retailer Hot Topic has announced plans to buy Geeknet, parent company of ThinkGeek and ThinkGeek Solutions, for $117.3 million. ThinkGeek Solutions is a distributor of video-game themed merchandise through licensed web stores. Hot Topic Inc. will pay $17.50 per Geeknet share. Privately held Hot Topic, based in Los Angeles, has more than 650 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Geeknet will become a Hot Topic subsidiary. This news inspires some nostalgia here; ThinkGeek was for a long time one of Slashdot's sister sites under the umbrella of VA Linux, and I had some fun years back helping to set up the ThinkGeek booth at LinuxWorld in New York.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Fedora 22 released (GNU/Linux operating systems)

Liliputing -

Fedora is a free and open source operating system developed by a community of coders, but backed by the folks who make the commercial Red Hat Linux project. Fedora 22 is now available for download. The operating system comes in three basic versions: workstation, server, and cloud. For most folks who want to run Fedora […]

Fedora 22 released (GNU/Linux operating systems) is a post from: Liliputing

Exploit Kit Delivers Pharming Attacks Against SOHO Routers

Slashdot -

msm1267 writes: For the first time, DNS redirection attacks against small office and home office routers are being delivered via exploit kits. French security researcher Kafeine said an offshoot of the Sweet Orange kit has been finding success in driving traffic from compromised routers to the attackers' infrastructure. The risk to users is substantial, he said, ranging from financial loss, to click-fraud, man-in-the-middle attacks and phishing.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Charter plans to merge with Time Warner Cable

Liliputing -

Time Warner and Comcast may not be merging anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean Time Warner isn’t looking for another way to grow: Charter Communications has just announced a plan to merge with Time Warner in a deal that would create a new company that would be the nation’s second-largest cable provider (behind Comcast).   While […]

Charter plans to merge with Time Warner Cable is a post from: Liliputing

Court Orders UberPop Use To Be Banned In All of Italy

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: A judicial court in Italy has ordered the UberPop app to cease offering its services [original source, in Italian], as it constitutes "unfair competition" again the taxi sector (taxi licenses in Italy are numbered, each can cost more than $100k to obtain). This sentence should be valid at the national level and comes after an injunction from taxi drivers in Milan, where a Universal Exhibition is incidentally bringing in thousands visitors from all over the world on a daily basis. Sources mention a judicial request to "block" the app, though no one is sure how this sentence has to be enforced and what the fines would be in case of violations.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Sony Xperia Z3+ coming in June, already launched as Xperia Z4 in Japan

Liliputing -

Sony’s latest flagship smartphone looks awfully familiar… for two reasons. First, the Sony Xperia Z3+ is virtually identical to the Xperia Z4 the company introduced in April. Second, both of those phones look almost exactly like last year’s Xperia Z3. So what’s new? Unlike the Xperia Z4, which is only available in Japan, the Sony Xperia […]

Sony Xperia Z3+ coming in June, already launched as Xperia Z4 in Japan is a post from: Liliputing

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