Geek Stuff

Report: Android co-founder Andy Rubin’s new company to launch a bezel-free phone (and much more)

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Andy Rubin co-founded Android Inc, before the company was bought by Google. He continued working at Google until late 2014.

Now he’s reportedly planning to unveil a new company called Essential Products which is working on hardware, software, and artificial intelligence that creates an ecosystem shared by multiple devices.

Bloomberg reports that Rubin was at CES earlier this month, discussing one of the company’s core products with executives from mobile wireless carriers.

Continue reading Report: Android co-founder Andy Rubin’s new company to launch a bezel-free phone (and much more) at Liliputing.

EFF to Court: Don't Let California Gag IMDb

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California is trying to gag websites from sharing true, publicly available information about actors in the name of age discrimination. But one online service, IMDb, is fighting back. EFF and four other public interest organizations have filed in a friend of the court brief in the case, urging the court not to allow celebrities to wipe truthful information about them from the Internet.

IMDb.com v. Harris challenges the constitutionality of California Civil Code section 1798.83.5, which took effect January 1, 2017. That law requires “commercial online entertainment employment service providers” to remove an actor’s date of birth or age information from their websites upon request. The purported purpose of the law is to prevent age discrimination by the entertainment industry. The “providers” covered are those which “owns, licenses, or otherwise possesses computerized information, including, but not limited to, age and date of birth information, about individuals employed in the entertainment industry, including television, films, and video games, and that makes the information available to the public or potential employers.” Under the law, IMDB.com, which meets this definition because of its IMDB Pro service, would be required to delete age information from all of its websites, not just its subscription service.

As we wrote in our brief, and as we and others urged the California Legislature when it was considering the law, the law is clearly unconstitutional. The First Amendment provides near absolute protection to publish truthful information about a matter of public interest. And the rule has extra force when the truthful information is contained in official governmental records, such as local government’s vital records, which contain dates of birth.

This rule, sometimes called the Daily Mail rule after the Supreme Court opinion from which it originates, is an extremely important free speech protection. It gives publishers the confidence to publish important information even when they know that others want it suppressed. The rule also supports the First Amendment rights of the public to receive newsworthy information.

Our brief emphasizes that although IMDb may have a financial interest in challenging the law, the public too has a strong interest in this information remaining available. Indeed, if age discrimination in Hollywood is really such a compelling issue, and EFF does not doubt that it is, then hiding age information from the public makes it difficult for people to participate in the debate on the issue, form their own opinions, and scrutinize their government’s response to it.

Joining EFF on the brief are the First Amendment Coalition, Media Law Resource Center, Wikimedia Foundation, and Center for Democracy and Technology.


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Open Source Codec Encodes Voice Into Only 700 Bits Per Second

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Longtime Slashdot reader Bruce Perens writes: David Rowe VK5DGR has been working on ultra-low-bandwidth digital voice codecs for years, and his latest quest has been to come up with a digital codec that would compete well with single-sideband modulation used by ham contesters to score the longest-distance communications using HF radio. A new codec records clear, but not hi-fi, voice in 700 bits per second -- that's 88 bytes per second. Connected to an already-existing Open Source digital modem, it might beat SSB. Obviously there are other uses for recording voice at ultra-low-bandwidth. Many smartphones could record your voice for your entire life using their existing storage. A single IP packet could carry 15 seconds of speech. Ultra-low-bandwidth codecs don't help conventional VoIP, though. The payload size for low-latency voice is only a few bytes, and the packet overhead will be at least 10 times that size.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Barnes & Noble stops selling NOOK Tablet 7″ while investigating hardware issue

Liliputing -

Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Tablet 7″ is a $50 Android tablet which the bookstore chain began selling in late 2016. But the company has stopped selling the tablet for now, due to a potential hardware issue.

First reported in a reddit thread, the company has also instructed stores to box up and return inventory.

Despite some early guesses, a B&N representative indicates this has nothing to do with the AdUps software installed on NOOK 7.

Continue reading Barnes & Noble stops selling NOOK Tablet 7″ while investigating hardware issue at Liliputing.

Facebook No Longer Clearly Labels Edited Posts

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mashable: Have you ever made a cringeworthy mistake in a Facebook post? Don't lie, the answer is yes. If you have a sense of shame, Facebook at least allows you to go back and correct your gaffe by editing the post, a feature that certain other social media networks still haven't added. But evidence of your slip-up lived on with the tiny "Edited" label on the bottom of the post, signaling to your followers that you cared just enough to correct yourself on the internet. Sad. Apparently, however, that's no longer the case. It seems that Facebook has removed the on-post edited label, making it much more difficult to know when someone actually took the time to fix their mistake. In order to actually know whether or not your eyes were playing tricks on you when a friend's rant no longer has 15 spelling errors the second time you see it, you'll need to do some digging. Here's how the new editing looks, courtesy of my colleague Raymond Wong and his doubts about how cool the upcoming Nintendo Switch actually is. I noticed that he added a comment about the Switch, so I checked out the post information, via the drop-down menu. To see what happened, I have to view the edit history. When I look at his edit history, I can see all the changes that were made. In most cases, this type of editing isn't a big deal, but the move to hide post edit labels takes away one of the few features that provided any transparency for our online behavior.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Trump's Cyber Security Advisor Rudy Giuliani Runs Ancient, Utterly Hackable Website

Slashdot -

mask.of.sanity writes from a report via The Register: U.S. president-elect Donald Trump's freshly minted cyber tsar Rudy Giuliani runs a website so insecure that its content management system is five years out of date, unpatched and is utterly hackable. Giulianisecurity.com, the website for Giuliani's eponymous infosec consultancy firm, runs Joomla! version 3.0, released in 2012, and since found to carry 15 separate vulnerabilities. More bugs and poor secure controls abound. The Register report adds: "Some of those bugs can be potentially exploited by miscreants using basic SQL injection techniques to compromise the server. This seemingly insecure system also has a surprising number of network ports open -- from MySQL and anonymous LDAP to a very out-of-date OpenSSH 4.7 that was released in 2007. It also runs a rather old version of FreeBSD. 'You can probably break into Giuliani's server,' said Robert Graham of Errata Security. 'I know this because other FreeBSD servers in the same data center have already been broken into, tagged by hackers, or are now serving viruses. 'But that doesn't matter. There's nothing on Giuliani's server worth hacking.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Gole1 Plus is a mini PC with an 8 inch display

Liliputing -

The makers of last year’s unusual Gole1 mini PC are back, this time with a model featuring a larger screen and a bigger battery.

It’s called the Gole1 Plus, and like the earlier model, it’s basically a small desktop computer with a touchscreen display… or a chunky tablet that you can also use as a desktop.

The Gole1 Plus should be available soon for about $200.

The new model has an 8 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel touchscreen IPS display and the computer measures about 7.8″ x 5.4″ x 1.1.”

It has an Intel Atom x5-Z8350 quad-core processor (a slight spec bump from the x5-Z8300 chip in the smaller model), 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage.

Continue reading Gole1 Plus is a mini PC with an 8 inch display at Liliputing.

Deals of the Day (1-13-2017)

Liliputing -

The Asus Zenbook Flip UX360CA is a laptop with a 13.3 inch full HD touchscreen display, a 360 degree hinge that lets you hold the computer like a tablet, a Core M3 Skylake processor and 8GB Of RAM.

While the convertible notebook normally sells for $749 and up, the Microsoft Store is currently selling a model with 256GB of solid state storage for $499. 

Want a version with a newer, faster processor and twice as much storage?

Continue reading Deals of the Day (1-13-2017) at Liliputing.

Creator of Android Andy Rubin Nears His Comeback, Complete With an 'Essential' Phone

Slashdot -

From a report on Bloomberg: Rubin, creator of the Android operating system, is planning to marry his background in software with artificial intelligence in a risky business: consumer hardware. Armed with about a 40-person team, filled with recruits from Apple. and Google, Rubin is preparing to announce a new company called Essential and serve as its Chief Executive Officer, according to people familiar with the matter. A platform company designed to tie multiple devices together, Essential is working on a suite of consumer hardware products, including ones for the mobile and smart home markets, one of the people said. The centerpiece of the system is a high-end smartphone with a large edge-to-edge screen that lacks a surrounding bezel. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, Rubin discussed the smartphone with mobile carrier executives, including some from Sprint Corp., people familiar with the talks said. The smartphone, according to the report, would go on sale around the middle of this year and will cost nearly as much as iPhone 7 ($649, off contract).

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Virginia 'Broadband Deployment Act' Would Kill Municipal Broadband Deployment

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Virginia lawmakers are considering a bill called the "Virginia Broadband Deployment Act," but instead of resulting in more broadband deployment, the legislation would make it more difficult for municipalities to offer Internet service. From a report: The Virginia House of Delegates legislation proposed this week by Republican lawmaker Kathy Byron would prohibit municipal broadband deployments except in very limited circumstances. Among other things, a locality wouldn't be allowed to offer Internet service if an existing network already provides 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds to 90 percent of potential customers. That speed threshold is low enough that it can be met by old DSL lines in areas that haven't received more modern cable and fiber networks. Even if that condition is met, a city or town would have to jump through a few hoops before offering service. The municipality would have to pay for a "comprehensive broadband assessment," and then issue a request for proposals giving for-profit ISPs six months to submit a plan for broadband deployment. After receiving proposals from private ISPs, the local government would have to determine whether providing grants or subsidies to a private ISP would be more cost-effective than building a municipal broadband network.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

WhatsApp messages might not be a secure as you think, but not because of a backdoor

Liliputing -

Mobile messaging app WhatsApp is used by millions of people around the world, and while many use it as a convenient way to chat, send pictures, and generally keep in touch with friends and family, there’s another nifty thing about WhatsApp: it promises secure, encrypted communications.

But does it deliver on that promise? Kind of.

WhatsApp uses the Signal Protocol for encryption, and the company even worked with the developers of that protocol to ensure it worked properly.

Continue reading WhatsApp messages might not be a secure as you think, but not because of a backdoor at Liliputing.

eBay To Combat Counterfeiters With Professional Authenticators That Inspect High-End Goods

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To many, eBay serves as a convenient conduit for shifting unwanted goods and buying items at a fraction of their MSRP. But the online shopping emporium has long been a popular platform for fake products, with luxury goods such as fashion accessories and jewelry high on eBay counterfeiters' agenda. eBay is attempting to fix that. From a report: To counter this, eBay has revealed plans to introduce a new authentication program later this year, with a broad focus on "high-end" goods and launching initially as a trial with fashion items such as handbags. Dubbed eBay Authenticate, the new service will be powered by a "network of professional authenticators," and is ultimately designed to encourage buyers to part with cash on expensive items, safe in the knowledge that the merchandise is legitimate.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Half the Work People Do Can Be Automated, Says McKinsey

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Half the work people do in their jobs can be automated, according to a study published by McKinsey Global Institute. From a report: Instead of assessing the impact of automation on specific jobs, the study went to a more granular level by looking at the activities involved in various jobs. The logic is that every occupation has a range of activities, each with varying potential for automation. McKinsey found that 49 percent of the activities people are paid to do in the global economy can be automated with "currently demonstrated technology." That involves US$11.9 trillion in wages and touches 1.1 billion people. The study encompassed over 50 countries and 80 percent of the world's workers. China, India, Japan, and the US accounted for half of the total wages and employees. Not surprisingly, the two most populous countries, China and India, could see the largest impact of automation, potentially affecting 600 million workers -- which is twice the population of the US.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

US Appeals Court Revives Antitrust Lawsuit Against Apple

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iPhone app purchasers may sue Apple over allegations that the company monopolized the market for iPhone apps by not allowing users to purchase them outside the App Store, leading to higher prices, a U.S. appeals court ruled. From a report on Reuters: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling revives a long-simmering legal challenge originally filed in 2012 taking aim at Apple's practice of only allowing iPhones to run apps purchased from its own App Store. A group of iPhone users sued saying the Cupertino, California, company's practice was anticompetitive. Apple had argued that users did not have standing to sue it because they purchased apps from developers, with Apple simply renting out space to those developers. Developers pay a cut of their revenues to Apple in exchange for the right to sell in the App Store.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Razer’s stolen 3-screen laptop posted on Chinese shopping site

Liliputing -

Razer’s Project Valerie laptop prototype made a splash at CES earlier this month. The computer has three displays, with two that can slide out when you need them or be packed away when you don’t.

It was one of the most unusual devices unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, and apparently someone couldn’t wait for Razer to release Project Valerie as a real product that you can buy… because Razer’s CEO says that two prototype devices were stolen on the last day of the show.

Continue reading Razer’s stolen 3-screen laptop posted on Chinese shopping site at Liliputing.

Chrome is Getting the Ability To Play FLAC

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Audiophiles are getting a new way to listen to one of the top formats for lossless music. From a report: Google has begun adding FLAC support to Chrome, and it should be rolling out to the masses very soon. FLAC support is already live in Chrome's beta build and it's live in the current version of Chrome OS, too. If you have local FLAC files or come across one on the web, the added support allows Chrome to open it up in a completely bare-bones music player that takes over the entire tab. It's not exactly elegant, but it works. And it means that Mac users with Chrome installed will have an easy way to play back FLAC files should they come across one. While there are plenty of apps that can handle FLAC -- VLC being a popular one -- no native macOS app is capable of it. Windows 10, on the other hand, includes native support.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft's New Windows 10 Game Mode Will Maximize Gaming Performance

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Microsoft has started officially testing a new Game Mode feature in Windows 10. From a report: Traces of the new option were found back in December, but the most recent test build of Windows 10 (15007) includes Game Mode in the Xbox app. MSPoweruser has supplied some screenshots of how you can enable the option, but Microsoft has not yet officially unveiled Game Mode for everyone to test. Microsoft's description lists the feature as a mode to let a PC make gaming the "top priority to improve your game's quality." It's still not clear exactly how Game Mode will improve gaming performance, but it's likely that Windows 10 will simply suppress system processes and other apps from taking too many CPU, GPU, and RAM resources away from the primary game being played.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Security Experts Rebut The Guardian's Report That Claimed WhatsApp Has a Backdoor

Slashdot -

William Turton, writing for Gizmodo: This morning, the Guardian published a story with an alarming headline: "WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages." If true, this would have massive implications for the security and privacy of WhatsApp's one-billion-plus users. Fortunately, there's no backdoor in WhatsApp, and according to Alec Muffett, an experienced security researcher who spoke to Gizmodo, the Guardian's story is a "major league fuckwittage." [...] Fredric Jacobs, who was the iOS developer at Open Whisper Systems, the collective that designed and maintains the Signal encryption protocol, and who most recently worked at Apple, said, "Nothing new. Of course, if you don't verify keys Signal/WhatsApp/... can man-in-the-middle your communications." "I characterize the threat posed by such reportage as being fear and uncertainty and doubt on an 'anti-vaccination' scale," Muffett, who previously worked on Facebook's engineering security infrastructure team, told Gizmodo. "It is not a bug, it is working as designed and someone is saying it's a 'flaw' and pretending it is earth shattering when in fact it is ignorable." The supposed "backdoor" the Guardian is describing is actually a feature working as intended, and it would require significant collaboration with Facebook to be able to snoop on and intercept someone's encrypted messages, something the company is extremely unlikely to do. "There's a feature in WhatsApp that -- when you swap phones, get a new phone, factory reset, whatever -- when you install WhatsApp freshly on the new phone and continue a conversation, the encryption keys get re-negotiated to accommodate the new phone," Muffett told Gizmodo. Other security experts and journalists have also criticized The Guardian's story.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Nintendo Switch will launch March 3rd for $300

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The Nintendo Switch is a game system that blurs the lines between a traditional game console and a mobile gaming device. The Switch features a touchscreen tablet that you can use for gaming on the go, a docking station that makes it simple to plug the Switch into a TV and charge the tablet, and a wireless game controller that you can also take apart and slap onto the sides of the tablet for gaming without touching the screen.

Continue reading Nintendo Switch will launch March 3rd for $300 at Liliputing.

App.net is Shutting Down

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Social network App.net is shutting down once and for all in March. The company said on March 14 it will be deleting all user data. The announcement comes two years after the company ceased active development on the platform. From the official blog post: Ultimately, we failed to overcome the chicken-and-egg issue between application developers and user adoption of those applications. We envisioned a pool of differentiated, fast-growing third-party applications would sustain the numbers needed to make the business work. Our initial developer adoption exceeded expectations, but that initial excitement didn't ultimately translate into a big enough pool of customers for those developers. This was a foreseeable risk, but one we felt was worth taking.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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