theodp writes "If you own an Android phone, you may have inadvertently butt-dialed 911 from time-to-time. So, wonders Kix Panganiban, why don't our phones come with a universal 'Panic Button', that would make it just as easy to intentionally dial the police when it's truly needed? Panganiban envisions "a smartphone app that when triggered, would discreetly send out a distress message to contacts of your choice, and perhaps do some other functions that can get you out of bad (and maybe even life-threatening) situations." While a quick search reveals that some have taken a crack at apps that put a Panic Button in smartphone users' hands, are there good reasons why such a feature isn't just standard on mobile devices? And, with GPS and always-watching and always-listening tech only becoming cheaper and more ubiquitous, how far out in the future is it before your person can be continuously remotely monitored like your residence, even while mobile, and what might that look like?"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
sfcrazy writes "Google has blessed Oppo N1 by passing it in their compatibility test suite. What it means is that this will be the first phone outside Google's Open Hardware Alliance (OHA) to run Google services and apps legitimately. The phone will be available on December 24th."
iONiUM writes "Today BlackBerry announced a $4.4 billion loss, and a deal with Foxconn to outsource hardware manufacturing. One interesting stat is that 75% of sales were actually older BB7 devices. That said, CEO John Chen says, 'We are very much alive, thank you.' He adds, 'Our "for sale" sign has been taken down and we are here to stay. BlackBerry recently announced it has entered into an agreement to receive a strategic investment from Fairfax Financial and other institutional investors, which represents a vote of confidence in the future of BlackBerry.'"
First time accepted submitter wallydallas writes "I'm close to a solution, but I wonder how other people block their many devices and operating systems from updating in working hours. For example: I'm the IT guy who blocks iPads from updating when school is in session because we are in a rural location. 3mbps is the best WAN we can buy. Devices can update after hours just fine. We do this with our router (DDWRT) by blocking MESU.APPLE.COM. Many guests bring in Windows 7 laptops, and I want to welcome them, but not their updates. How can I block updates on Android Phones and Linux Laptops? I have a 4G device at home, and I'd like to apply the same tricks 24 hours a day so that I don't use up the bandwith from my vendor. And my many home visitors should have their updates blocked."
alphadogg writes "Kill-switch technology that can render a lost or stolen smartphone useless would become mandatory in California under a new bill that will be proposed to the state legislature in January. The bill will be introduced by Senator Mark Leno, a Democrat representing San Francisco and neighboring towns, and George Gascón, the district attorney for San Francisco. Gascón has been spearheading a push by major law-enforcement agencies across the U.S. for more to be done to prevent smartphone theft. The proposed law could reach well beyond the borders of California. Because of the difficulty and added cost of producing handsets solely for sale in California, it could serve to make kill-switch technology a standard feature on phones sold across the U.S."
judgecorp writes "A new remotely-programmable embedded SIM design from the GSMA operators' group means that devices can be operated on the Internet of things and won't have to be opened up to have their SIM card changed if they move to a different operator. The design could speed up embedded applications."
An anonymous reader writes "The Free Software Foundation announced today the first laptop they have been able to certify as-is that respects the user's freedoms. The laptop is free down to using Coreboot in place of a proprietary BIOS. The OS shipped on the laptop is Trisquel, the Ubuntu derived Linux OS that removes all traces of proprietary firmware, patented formats, etc. The only issue though for new customers is this endorsed laptop comes down to being a refurbished 2006 ThinkPad X60 with single or dual-core Intel CPU, 1GB+ of RAM, 60GB+ HDD, and a 1024x768 12.1-inch screen, while costing $320+ USD (200 GBP). The FSF-certified refurbished laptops are only offered for sale through the Gluglug UK shop. Are these outdated specs worth your privacy and freedom?"
BigVig209 writes "In a follow-up to a story we discussed in May, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that London-based Datawind it will begin selling its $38 UbiSlate tablet computer in the U.S. early next year. 'The $38 7-inch touchscreen UbiSlate 7Ci tablet runs on Google's Android 4.0 and features a 1-gigahertz, single-core processor. It has 4 gigabytes of storage with microSD card slots for additional storage. The 7-inch display offers a resolution of 800x480 pixels.' The specs aren't the greatest, fastest, or most powerful, but, for under $50, they're still pretty decent."
Sockatume writes "The IEC, the standards body which wrote the phone charger specification used in the EU, has approved a standardised laptop charger. While the 'DC Power Supply for Portable Personal Computer' doesn't have a legal mandate behind it, the IEC is still optimistic that it will lead to a reduction in electronics waste and make it easier to find a replacement charger. Unfortunately the technical documentation does not seem to be available yet, but previous comments indicate that it will be a barrel plug of some kind." I wish they'd push a yank-resistant and positive-connecting plug along the lines of Apple's MagSafe.
alphadogg writes "Engineers are putting the final touches on a network capable of handling up to 54Tbps of traffic when the Winter Olympics opens on Feb. 7 in the Russian city of Sochi. The two locations where the Olympics will take place — the Olympic village in Sochi and a tight cluster of Alpine venues in the nearby Krasnaya Polyana Mountains — are completely new construction, so this project represents a greenfield environment for Avaya, the company heading up the project. In addition to investing in a telecom infrastructure, Russia is spending billions of dollars to upgrade Sochi's electric power grid, its transportation system and even its sewage treatment facilities."
Freshly Exhumed writes "With the onslaught of graphene experimentation, especially in computing and RF, news from IEEE Spectrum comes that researchers at Georgia Tech have computer-modeled nanoantennas made from graphene that could provide wireless network communications between nanoscopic devices. "We are exploiting the peculiar propagation of electrons in graphene to make a very small antenna that can radiate at much lower frequencies than classical metallic antennas of the same size," said Ian Akyildiz, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in a press release. "We believe that this is just the beginning of a new networking and communications paradigm based on the use of graphene.""
An anonymous reader writes "Indiana state police acknowledge use of cell phone tracking device 'Stingray', tricking all cellphones in a set distance into connecting to it as if it were a real cellphone tower. A joint USA Today and IndyStar investigation found earlier this month that the state police spent $373,995 on a device called a Stingray. Often installed in a surveillance vehicle, the suitcase-size Stingrays trick all cellphones in a set distance ('sometimes exceeding a mile, depending on the terrain and antennas') into connecting to it as if it were a real cellphone tower. That allows police agencies to capture location data and numbers dialed for calls and text messages from thousands of people at a time."
magic maverick writes "Reuters reports that three men were arrested for posting anti-Semitic comments on Twitter following the English Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United in October, police said on Friday. 'Two men, aged 22 and 24, were arrested on Thursday in London and in Wiltshire, while a 48-year-old man was arrested at his home in Canning Town in London last week on suspicion of inciting racial hatred. The investigation following the match on October 6 was triggered by complaints about tweets that referred to Hitler and the gas chambers.' I guess it goes to show, you'd be stupid to use your real name or identifying details on Twitter. Perhaps the British should also work on reforming their laws on free speech (or lack thereof)."
SonicSpike writes with news that two U.S. Senators, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), have proposed legislation to ban cell phone calls while aboard an airplane. This follows a recent announcement from the FAA increasing the range of electronic gadgets travelers can use while flying, and a vote by the FCC to consider allowing phone calls during flight. However, even as those government agencies work to lift regulations on in-flight technology, the Department of Transportation is pondering a in-flight call ban of its own, saying it might not be "fair" to consumers to have to listen to other passengers talk on the phone throughout a long flight. FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said, "If we move beyond what we do here today and actually update our rules to allow voice calls on planes we can see a future where our quiet time is monetized and seating in the silent section comes at a premium."
Dan Rosenbaum is the editor and publisher of Wearable Tech Insider, which means he covers wearable technology every day. He's obviously a good person to chat with if we want to learn what's going on in the wearable tech world. So we did just that. The overall sense we got is that wearable tech is less of a gimmick than it was a few years ago, but isn't necessarily something all of us need quite yet. One note here: Dan is not a Google Glass fan. Watch the video (or read the transcript) to find out why.