Geek Stuff

NY Judge Rules Research Chimps Are Not 'Legal Persons'

Slashdot -

sciencehabit writes: A state judge in New York has dealt the latest blow to an animal rights group's attempt to have chimpanzees declared 'legal persons.' In a decision handed down this morning, New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe ruled that two research chimps at Stony Brook University are not covered by a writ of habeas corpus, which typically allows human prisoners to challenge their detention. The Nonhuman Rights Project, which brought the lawsuit in an attempt to free the primates, has vowed to appeal. We posted news last year about an earlier case (mentioned in the article) brought by the same group, which also ended in defeat.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hacker's Device Can Intercept OnStar's Mobile App and Unlock, Start GM Cars

Slashdot -

Lucas123 writes: Security researcher Samy Kamkar posted a video today demonstrating a device he created that he calls OwnStar that can intercept communications between GM's RemoteLink mobile app and the OnStar cloud service in order to unlock and start an OnStar equipped car. Kamkar said that after a user opens the OnStar Remote Link app on his or her mobile phone "near the OwnStar device," OwnStar intercepts the communication and sends "data packets to the mobile device to acquire additional credentials. The OwnStar device then notifies the attacker about the new vehicle that the hacker has access to for an indefinite period of time, including its location, make and model. And at that point, the hacker can use the Remote Link app to control the vehicle. Kamkar said GM is aware of the security hole and is working on a fix.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook’s solar airplane beams internet from above

Liliputing -

It’s raining internet. For the past few years Google has been testing technology that can deliver internet access to remote locations through hot air balloons. Now Facebook has built a solar-powered airplane that can do the same thing. Facebook calls the its plane Aquila, and claims it can stay in the air for up to […]

Facebook’s solar airplane beams internet from above is a post from: Liliputing

Report: Businesses testing new Google Glass hardware

Liliputing -

The death of Google Glass may have been exaggerated. While Google is no longer selling its wearable computer that puts a screen above your eye directly to consumers, The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is providing a new version of Google Glass to some business users. The new hardware is aimed at workers […]

Report: Businesses testing new Google Glass hardware is a post from: Liliputing

Purism Offers Free (as in Freedom) Laptops (Video)

Slashdot -

Purism uses its own OS, PureOS, which is a Debian derivative by way of Ubuntu and other members of the Debian-derivative family, but with no taint of proprietary code. Now imagine all the binaries stripped out of the Linux kernel, making it closer to the FSF ideal of a 100% free operating system than the Linux kernel in use almost everywhere else. They're still using a proprietary BIOS, but have people working on a Free one. The main thing, though, is that Purism is working to give you all the privacy and freedom they can -- with more coming as they keep working to replace proprietary bits of the OS, BIOS, and hardware drivers with Free Software. Best of all, even if you don't need a new laptop right now, you can download PureOS and run it on any compatible hardware you already own.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: Best Wireless PC-to-TV Solution?

Slashdot -

jez9999 writes: I have a slightly unusual requirement. I don't want to use some console like an Xbox, Steam Machine, etc. I just have a desktop PC which I use for most of the stuff I do (gaming, video, work, etc.), and it's upstairs. From time to time, I'd like to use it downstairs. Is there a wireless solution that will let me take control of the PC from downstairs, using the TV (HDMI) as the screen, and the TV's speakers to replace my desktop speakers? Ideally there would be a wireless transmitter in the PC, and a downstairs wireless receiver box into which I could plug the keyboard, mouse, and of course, the TV via an HDMI cable. Obviously Bluetooth wireless peripherals won't do for this as there's no line of sight between downstairs and the upstairs PC, and besides, I prefer wired peripherals anyway which I can actually plug in to something (no battery recharging needed).

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Verizon’s next Motorola Droid: A metal Moto X?

Liliputing -

Motorola may not have any plans to sell the Moto X Play or Moto X Style smartphones through US carriers, instead offering the Moto X Pure Edition directly to consumers for $400. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to buy a new Motorola phone from a US wireless carrier this year. HellomotoHK has posted […]

Verizon’s next Motorola Droid: A metal Moto X? is a post from: Liliputing

Indian Ocean Debris Believed To Come From Missing Flight MH370

Slashdot -

McGruber writes that air crash investigators, though maintaining that it is "too early to tell" with certainty, have 'a high degree of confidence' that a piece of wreckage found on the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion is from a Boeing 777 — the same model as the doomed MH370 which disappeared in March 2014. Investigators will need to examine closely the wreckage to link it to MH370, but MH370 was the only Boeing 777 ever lost over water.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Deals of the Day (7-30-2015)

Liliputing -

Windows 10 is here. It runs on all sorts of hardware, including cheap tablets and powerful desktops… or something in between like the latest Microsoft Surface tablets. Don’t want to spend $499 or more for a Surface? How about $390? That’s how much GravityBuys is selling 1st-gen models for at the moment. While they’re a […]

Deals of the Day (7-30-2015) is a post from: Liliputing

A Naysayer's Take On Windows 10: Potential Privacy Mess, and Worse

Slashdot -

Lauren Weinstein writes: I had originally been considering accepting Microsoft's offer of a free upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10. After all, reports have suggested that it's a much more usable system than Windows 8/8.1 — but of course in keeping with the 'every other MS release of Windows is a dog' history, that's a pretty low bar. However, it appears that MS has significantly botched their deployment of Windows 10. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised, even though hope springs eternal. Since there are so many issues involved, and MS is very aggressively pushing this upgrade, I'm going to run through key points here quickly, and reference other sites' pages that can give you more information right now. But here's my executive summary: You may want to think twice, or three times, or many more times, about whether or not you wish to accept the Windows 10 free upgrade on your existing Windows 7 or 8/8.1 system. Now that we're into the first week of widespread availability for the new version, if you're a Windows user and upgrader, has your experience been good, horrible, or someplace between?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Toshiba Encore 10 tablets coming soon for $299 and up

Liliputing -

Toshiba is launching a new line of 10.1 inch tablets with full HD displays, Intel Atom x5 Cherry Trail processors, and Windows 10 software. The Toshiba Encore 10 and Encore 10K will be available in September for $299 and $479, respectively. What’s the difference between the two tablets? The Toshiba Encore 10K comes with a keyboard […]

Toshiba Encore 10 tablets coming soon for $299 and up is a post from: Liliputing

The Biohacking Movement and Open Source Insulin

Slashdot -

szczys writes: Since early last century, insulin has been produced from the pancreas of animals. In the late 1970s we figured out how to synthesize insulin using bacteria or yeast. As the biohacking movement has grown, insulin production has been a common target, but for some reason we're not there yet. Dan Maloney looked into the backstory (including the amazing story of the Saxl family who produced life-saving insulin during WWI) and a new startup that is trying to get Biohackers working on the problem.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Samsung Finds, Fixes Bug In Linux Trim Code

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New submitter Mokki writes: After many complaints that Samsung SSDs corrupted data when used with Linux, Samsung found out that the bug was in Linux kernel and submitted a patch to fix it. Turns out that kernels without the final fix can corrupt data if the system is using linux md raid with raid0 or raid10 and issues trim/discard commands (either fstrim or by the filesystem itself). The vendor of the drive did not matter and the previous blacklisting of Samsung drives for broken queued trim support can be most likely lifted after further tests. According to this post the bug has been around for a long time.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Toshiba unveils Silmee W20/W21 health trackers

Liliputing -

There’s no shortage of cheap fitness and activity trackers which you can wear on your wrist or clip to your shirt, belt, or pocket to keep track of your daily step count, distance traveled, and other stats. But Toshiba’s Silmee line of health trackers go a bit further. Earlier this year the company introduced a Silmee […]

Toshiba unveils Silmee W20/W21 health trackers is a post from: Liliputing

German Investigation of Netzpolitik For Coverage of Leaked Surveillance Documents Confirmed

EFF's Deeplinks -

Last week, we reported that popular German digital rights blog Netzpolitik.org had been charged with treason as a result of its reporting on leaked documents about the German government’s mass surveillance plans. We later learned that no charges had in fact been filed (and corrected our report), but there were still signs that an investigation was underway, targeting either the blog itself or simply the suspected sources of the leaks. The blog has now confirmed [English translation here] authorities are investigating Netzpolitik journalists Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister, along with an “unknown” source, on “suspicion of treason.” 

The investigation is being conducted under § 94 of German's Criminal Code [English translation here], which considers the leaking of state secrets to a foreign power, or to anyone else with the intention of damaging the Republic, to be a crime, punishable of not less than one year in prison—and up to life, in "serious" cases. 

Not surprisingly, Netzpolitik.org doesn't see this as an ordinary government response. Meister stated: “From the beginning, the charges against our alleged source(s) were politically motivated and targeted to crush the necessary public debate about internet surveillance Post-Snowden. Whistleblowers in the public interest need protection, not prosecution as ‘treason.’”

And in regard to the investigation against Netzpolitik, Meister says:

Investigating the acclaimed media outlet netzpolitik.org as accomplices in treason charges is a direct attack on freedom of the press, which we thought was outlawed with the Constitutional Court ruling in the Cicero case 2007.

As we noted last week, the pending investigations relate to two articles Netzpolitik posted earlier this year. The first article [English translation here], published back in February, reported on the German government’s plans to collect and monitor troves of Internet data—including social media data—and on the government’s “secret budget” for the program. The article notes that the German government’s plans mimicked the mass data acquisition by the NSA and includes the full text of a leaked secret surveillance budget from 2013. The second article [English translation here], published in April, reported on the German secret service’s plan to set up a new Internet surveillance department dedicated to improving and extending the government’s mass surveillance capabilities—the “Erweiterten Fachunterstützung Internet” or “Extended Specialist Support Internet” department. The German version of the article includes the full text of a leaked document describing the government’s plans for the new unit.

Both the United States court system and the United Nations General Assembly have long recognized the importance of a free and unrestrained press. And as we noted last week, Germany has historically respected the global standard of protection for reporters covering state secrets, as demonstrated in the so-called “Spiegel Affair.”

In line with this global standard, Meister states:

The Federal Attorney General needs to drop the investigations against us and our alleged source(s) and instead investigate and charge out-of-control secret services, that are expanding their mass surveillance without public debate.

As we stated last week, mass surveillance by a government is undeniably a matter of deep public concern. Netzpolitik should not be punished for reporting on the German government’s plans to surveil—i.e., to spy on—its citizens.


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Interviews: Kim Dotcom Answers Your Questions

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Kim Dotcom was the founder of Megaupload, its successor Mega, and New Zealand's Internet Party. A while ago you had a chance to ask him about those things as well as the U.S. government charging him with criminal copyright violation and racketeering. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

James Jude, MD Co-inventor of CPR, Dies At 87

Slashdot -

New submitter voxelman writes: Jim Jude, my uncle, was a kind and modest man. The impact of his insight into the significance of a change in blood pressure from the application of defibrillation paddles to a dog's chest has led to the saving of millions of lives through cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). His passing is a release from a debilitating illness that made a mockery of his contributions to medical science. He will be missed by all that knew him.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Oracle To Debut Low-Cost SPARC Chip Next Month

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jfruh writes: Of the many things Oracle acquired when it absorbed Sun, the SPARC processors have not exactly been making headlines. But that may change next month when the company debuts a new, lower-cost chip that will compete with Intel's Xeon. "Debut," in this case, means only an introduction, though -- not a marketplace debut. From the article: [T]he Sparc M7 will have technologies for encryption acceleration and memory protection built into the chip. It will also include coprocessors to accelerate database performance. "The idea of Sonoma is to take exactly those same technologies and bring them down to very low cost points, so that people can use them in cloud computing and for smaller applications, and even for smaller companies who need a lower entry point," [Oracle head of systems John] Fowler said. ... [Fowler] didn’t talk about prices or say how much cheaper the new Sparc systems will be, and it could potentially be years before Sonoma comes to market—Oracle isn’t yet saying. Its engineers are due to discuss Sonoma at the Hot Chips conference in Silicon Valley at the end of the month, so we might learn more then.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon Dash $5 shopping button now available… might be useful for more than shopping

Liliputing -

Amazon Dash buttons are tiny internet-connected buttons that you can put anywhere in your house and tap to order re-fills of items you regularly purchase. First unveiled earlier this year, Amazon Dash buttons are now available for $5 each. With this battery-powered, Wi-Fi enabled button, Amazon Prime shoppers can quickly order a single item without having […]

Amazon Dash $5 shopping button now available… might be useful for more than shopping is a post from: Liliputing

Stupid Patent of the Month: Trolls Go After Sex Toy Manufacturers

EFF's Deeplinks -

Recently, a company called Tzu Technologies, LLC began suing makers of sex toys for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,368,268. This resulted in more than a few news stories (and probably a few snickers as well). But the case also shows how our broken patent system is preventing innovation in many spaces, including those we don’t traditionally think about. Looking closely at the patent, and specifically at what Tzu Technologies actually claims to own, it is clear that this patent, regardless of its exciting subject matter, deserves to be called stupid.

Tzu Technologies’ patent, titled “Method and Device for Interactive Virtual Control of Sexual Aids Using Digital Computer Networks” is a patent related to “teledildonics.” Essentially, computer controlled sex toys.

Tzu Technologies recently sued (login req.) a bunch of small startups in the sex toy space, claiming they infringed this patent. Comingle, for example and according to their website, is a four-person team that is developing open-source sex technology. Also sued was Kickstarter, presumably for allowing another defendant, Holland Haptics, to raise money for their product the “Freeble.”   

As this 1993 Chicago Tribune article shows, the idea of remotely stimulating a partner was nothing new in 1998 (the year the application for the patent was filed). Nor was it unknown how to do it. Howard Stern (in)famously engaged in some of his own teledildonics in the 1980s, that was later reenacted [NSFW] in his 1997 movie “Private Parts.”

Given this history, you might expect that, in 1998, patent applicants would need to come up with some new and non-obvious way of using a computer to control a sex toy. But like many patents that we have labeled “Stupid,” that’s not what happened. Or at least, that’s not what the inventors claimed.

Below is claim 8 of the patent, which Tzu Technologies seems to be asserting. This claim is ridiculously broad. Annotations, in bold, have been added to show just how broadly it can be read:

8. A stimulation system comprising:

[a] a hand-operable input device [a microphone] for generating a command signal [electrical signal] in response to an input [sound wave] received from a first user;

[b] a first user interface [the radio broadcast system] connected to said input device [the microphone], said first user interface generating a control signal [radio waves] based upon the command signal [electrical signal];

[c] a second user interface [a radio] remotely located from said first user interface [the radio broadcast system], said second user interface receiving the control signal [the radio waves]; and,

[d] a stimulation device [a stereo speaker] receiving the control signal [the radio waves] from said second user interface [the radio], said stimulation device imparting stimulation to a second user in response to the control signal [you get the idea].

Perhaps the Patent Office should have given Howard Stern a patent, given that the patent explicitly suggests that the “input device” can be a microphone.

Ultimately, claim 8 of this patent is nothing more than the idea of teledildonics, dressed up in “input devices” “signals” and “interfaces.” That’s what makes this patent, and these lawsuits, so frustrating. There was nothing novel, nonobvious, or even patentable about this claim. It never should have issued. Doing it with a computer (literally) does not make something patentable.

More and more, everyday items are incorporating software and networking technology. Unfortunately, that means more and more everyday items are at risk of being said to infringe overbroad, vague patents that never should have issued. As this patent shows, the problems with the patent system have the potential to impact many diverse fields, and until we find a way for small companies to quickly and efficiently shut down these patent trolls, we will continue to hurt innovators who are merely trying to make life more interesting.

 

Related Issues: PatentsPatent TrollsInnovation
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