Several readers sent word of a Mozilla announcement that 18 carriers have committed to launching phones running Firefox OS. The carriers are primarily from markets in South America and Europe. They include Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, and Sprint. The devices running Firefox OS will be made by LG, ZTE, Huawei, and Alcatel, and all will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset. The new mobile operating system is built to allow HTML5 apps to run directly on the device, a solution Mozilla thinks will give it an edge when playing catch-up to all the software available for Android and iOS devices. "Developers are busy and don't have time to learn a new programming language. We believe that the only remaining eco-system is the web and there are more developers for the web than for any other platform in the world," said Jay Sullivan. According to Reuters, "Mozilla will initially look to compete in so-called 'emerging economies' in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia, where many people still use older phone models and have yet to upgrade to more expensive smartphones that feature touchscreens and high-speed Internet connections."
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New submitter haberb writes "I always thought my HTC phones were of average or above average quality, and certainly no less secure than an vanilla Android install, but it turns out someone was still not impressed. 'Mobile device manufacturer HTC America has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the company failed to take reasonable steps to secure the software it developed for its smartphones and tablet computers, introducing security flaws that placed sensitive information about millions of consumers at risk.' Perhaps this will push HTC to release some of the ICS upgrades they promised a few months ago but never delivered, or perhaps the reason they fell through in the first place?"
s122604 writes "Automakers aren't too happy about a recent U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal, which uses part of the wireless spectrum assigned to vehicle-to-vehicle technology for Wi-Fi instead. The FCC announced that it plans to free up 195 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band for unlicensed use in an effort to address the U.S.' spectrum crisis. This could potentially lead to Wi-Fi speeds faster than 1 gigabit per second."
An anonymous reader writes "Back in late 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg attributed the increase in statistical city-wide crime to Apple, noting that thieves had a propensity to target folks using iPhones and iPads. As an illustration of the problem, there were 3,890 more Apple product thefts than in 2012 than there were in 2011. At the time, Mayor Bloomberg's press secretary Marc La Vorgna explained that 'if you just took away the jump in Apple', crime in New York City would have been down year over year. Indeed, the number of major crimes reported in 2011 in NYC came in at 104,948 compared to 108.432 in 2012. If you exclude Apple related thefts from the figures, then the crime rate in 2012 is essentially the same as it was in 2011. In light of that, a new report from the New York Post details that Apple is now working with the NYPD in an effort to curb iPhone and other Apple related thefts."
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports that the reclusive country of North Korea is planning to enable 3G mobile internet access. It will not be available to the country's estimated one million mobile users, however. The service will be available only to international visitors, who have been allowed to bring their own mobile devices into the country since January of this year. The decision comes shortly after Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said enabling 3G internet in the country would be 'very easy' during his recent visit there. Currently, North Korean citizens can only access a small number of state-controlled sites. Might this decision open the door for some of them to surreptitiously access the open net?"
First time accepted submitter Lirodon writes "Just when you thought Google's rumored Chrome OS laptop, the Chromebook Pixel, was an elaborate fake, think again. This high-end Chromebook with a 12.85-inch high resolution touchscreen (available in both Wi-Fi only and Verizon LTE versions) and an Intel Core i5 processor under the hood is super fancy, and also super expensive: starting at $1299. Would you want to pay that much for what is essentially a premium netbook?" Engadget has a hands-on with the device.
An anonymous reader writes "A White House petition to make unlocking cell phones legal again has passed the 100,000 signature mark. Passing the milestone means the U.S. government has to issue an official response. On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S. Just before that went into effect, a petition was started at whitehouse.gov to have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision. 'It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full. The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked.'"
First time accepted submitter Dngrsone writes "Some two million people have bought cell-phone wireless signal boosters and have been using them to get better communication between their phones and distant cell towers. But now, the FCC says they all have to turn their boosters off and ask permission from their providers, and register their devices with those providers, before they can turn them back on."
codegen writes "The Ontario Court of Appeal has just ruled that the police can search your cellphone if you are arrested without a warrant if it is not password protected. But the ruling also stated that if it is password protected, then the police need a warrant. Previous to this case there was no decision on if the police could search your phone without a warrant in Canada."
coondoggie writes "The Federal Communications Commission said it wants to make up to 195 megahertz of additional spectrum in the 5 GHz band available to unlicensed wireless devices with the idea that such a move would enable Wi-Fi equipment that can offer faster speeds of one gigabit per second or more, increase overall capacity, and reduce congestion. 'Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure devices today operate in 555 megahertz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band, and are used for short range, high speed wireless connections including Wi-Fi enabled local area networks and fixed outdoor broadband transceivers used by wireless Internet service providers to connect smart phones, tablets and laptops to the broadband network,' the FCC stated."
On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S. Just before that went into effect, a petition was started at whitehouse.gov to have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision. "It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full. The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked." The 30 days time limit on the petition is almost up, and it's about 11,000 signatures shy of the amount necessary to ensure a response from the Obama administration (100,000 total, recently increased from 25,000). The creator of the petition received a Cease & Desist letter from Motorola in 2005 for selling software that would allow users to unlock their phones, and he thinks it's only a matter of time before such legal threats begin again. This is part of a larger battle to protect the way consumers can use their devices. While it's still legal for people to root their phones, the Librarian of Congress failed to expand that legal protection to tablets, even though the devices are incredibly similar. The Librarian's decision (PDF) needs further review, and if the White House petition doesn't get enough signatures by February 23, such a review may not happen.
An anonymous reader writes "Recently, I had found out (through my log files) that my wireless router was subject to a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) brute force PIN attack. After looking on the Internet and discovering that there are indeed many vulnerabilities to WPS, I disabled it. After a few days, I noticed that I kept intermittently getting disconnected at around the same time every day (indicative of a WPA deauthentication handshake capture attempt). I also noticed that an evil twin has been set up in an effort to get me to connect to it. Through Wi-Fi monitoring software, I have noticed that certain MAC addresses are connected to multiple WEP and WPA2 access points in my neighborhood. I believe that I (and my neighbors) may be dealing with an advanced Wi-Fi leech. What can I do in this situation? Should I bother purchasing a directional antenna, figuring out exactly where the clients are situated, and knocking on their door? Is this something the local police can help me with?"
KermMartian writes "The TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition isn't the first color-screen graphing calculator, or even TI's first color calculator, but it's a refresh of a 17-year-old line that many have mocked as antiquated and overpriced. From an advanced review model, the math features look familiar, solid, and augmented with some new goodies, while programming looks about on par with its siblings. The requisite teardown uncovers the new battery, Flash, ASIC/CPU, and LCD used in the device. Although there are some qualms about its speed and very gentle hardware upgrades beyond the screen, it looks to be an indication that TI will continue this inveterate line for years to come." Lots of screenshots and pictures of the innards too.
Following up on yesterday's news that Ubuntu for Tablets has been announced, Mark Shuttleworth answered questions about the purpose of the new version of Canonical's OS and what its intended strengths will be. He made special note of how Canonical wants the transition between desktop-Ubuntu and mobile-Ubuntu to be smooth. "When you transition from the tablet to the desktop, things don't move around. Your indicators, things like network status and time, they don't jump around on screen, they stay in the same place. That's what's really different certainly between our approach to convergence and for example Windows 8, where when you're in the desktop mode, which looks like Windows 7, and suddenly you get the new tile-based interface, it's a stark transition that can be jarring for users. In our case, you can almost think of those as gentle phase changes. When you go from phone to tablet you're stretching the device in very obvious ways. People who've used iOS on both phones and tablets would expect that. What's nice about Ubuntu is the phase change to the PC experience up from the tablet really just introduces window management, and it also introduces things like menus and dialog boxes. You aren't moving things around in dramatic ways." He added that they expect the user experiences to converge in Ubuntu 14.04. Shuttleworth also addressed the fragmentation problem faced by Android. He says manufacturers and carriers don't want to fall into that trap again, and that they've been receptive to the idea of leaving the core of Ubuntu alone while tweaking their individual services instead.
jrepin writes "The Tizen 2.0 source code and SDK are now available. 'This release includes an enhanced Web framework that provides state-of-the-art HTML5/W3C API support, a Web UI framework (including full-screen and multi-window support), additional Tizen device APIs, such as Bluetooth and NFC support, and access to the device's calendar, call history, and messaging subsystems are now available. Other highlights: The Web Runtime framework supports new configuration elements for specifying the required features and privileges, and provides the basic runtime environment for NPRuntime plugins; the Native framework supports full-featured application development and provides a variety of features such as background applications, IP Push, and TTS (Text-To-Speech)."
adeelarshad82 writes "Earlier today, HTC unveiled a revamped version of its One smartphone. The new HTC One has a 4.7-inch full HD 1080p display which is powered by a 1.7-GHz, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor and a customized version of Android. The new phone includes support for NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and DLNA for wireless streaming to a TV or computer. Measuring 5.4 by 2.7 by 0.36 inches, the phone weighs around 5 ounces. According to the specs, the phone will come with either 32 or 64GB of storage and 2GB of RAM, and it's backed by a non-removable 2300mAh battery. Unfortunately the phone doesn't include a memory card slot and has just two ports: a headphone jack and a MicroUSB that doubles as an MHL output for HDMI TVs. HTC One's 'UltraPixel' camera is nothing to sniff at either. HTC is trying to replace megapixels with 'ultrapixels,' cutting down the size of photos but using much larger individual pixels to sharply reduce noise and improve low-light performance. In a quick comparison with iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3, One's images were far clearer and brighter. The HTC One runs Android 4.1.2 with HTC's new Sense 5."
hypnosec writes "Keeping its promise from yesterday Ubuntu has announced an operating system for tablets dubbed 'Ubuntu for Tablets' that it says will work on tablets of any size. Advertised to work on both entry level tablets as well as high-end tablets with enterprise specifications, the operating system offers multitasking, safer sharing, instant launch of applications through the menu bar on the left, effortless switching between applications among other features." The tablet version of the OS will also be presented at Mobile World Congress later this month. Also featured at SlashCloud.
puddingebola writes "Perhaps it isn't newsworthy, but Bill Gates has characterized Microsoft's mobile and smartphone strategies as 'a mistake.' From the article: 'In an interview with CBS This Morning's Charlie Rose on Monday, Gates admitted he wasn't pleased with Microsoft's performance in the mobile market, going as far as to characterize the company's smartphone strategy as "a mistake." "We didn't miss cell phones," Gates said. "But the way that we went about it didn't allow us to get the leadership, so it's clearly a mistake."'"
DavidGilbert99 writes "Facebook admitted last weekend that it was hacked but assured everyone that no data was compromised. However following some investigation by security firm F-Secure, it seems this could be just the tip of the iceberg and that thousands of mobile app developers without the dedicated security team Facebook has in place could already be compromised. The vector for the attack was a mobile developer's website, and the malware used likely targeted Apple's Mac OS X rather than Windows."
imac.usr writes "The Huffington Post is reporting that The Washington Post has gone through yet another round of layoffs, but this time instead of cutting editorial positions, they're apparently cutting IT positions, specifically in the mobile applications department. According to Washington, DC media blog FishbowlDC, 54 people, including the General Manager of Mobile and Director of Mobile Products, were given the axe on Valentine's Day. A particularly damning quote from the FishbowlDC article: '"[CIO and VP Shaliesh] Prakash thinks these are 'inefficiencies' – that is the exact word he uses for human beings who are not useful according to him," said a source who spoke only on condition of anonymity. "Get rid of experienced people to save money, under the garb of streamlining is the new trend inside the Post."' Given that mobile products seem somewhat more likely to succeed than printed newspapers, this seems a strange decision at best."
9to5Google cites "an extremely reliable source" in reporting that "Google is in the process of building stand-alone retail stores in the U.S. and hopes to have the first flagship Google Stores open for the holidays in major metropolitan areas. The mission of the stores is to get new Google Nexus, Chrome, and especially upcoming products into the hands of prospective customers. Google feels right now that many potential customers need to get hands-on experience with its products before they are willing to purchase. Google competitors Apple and Microsoft both have retail outlets where customers can try before they buy."
nk497 writes "Canonical has revealed that a developer preview of Ubuntu for phones will arrive next week, on the 21st of February. The touch preview will initially only be available for the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 smartphones, but Canonical plans to support more devices. The release is designed to let developers create apps — and to give 'enthusiasts' a sneak peek — ahead of the smartphone side of Ubuntu arriving in version 13.10 in October. Canonical suggested that the OS will initially only support low-end smartphones, but the group plans to also support higher-end models, too, and the OS will work across mobile devices, PCs and TVs."
coondoggie writes "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved what it says is the first bionic eye, or retinal prosthesis, that can partially restore the sight of blind individuals after surgical implantation. The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System includes a small video camera, transmitter mounted on a pair of eyeglasses, video processing unit (VPU) and an implanted artificial retina. The VPU transforms images from the video camera into electronic data that is wirelessly transmitted to the retinal prosthesis."
drdread66 writes "Reuters reports today that Research In Motion co-founder Jim Balsillie dumped his entire stake in BlackBerry at the end of 2012. While it's common to see high-level executives sell some of their shares to gain some liquidity, it's unusual to see them exit their positions completely. This has to be seen as a massive vote of 'no confidence' from someone who was on the inside long enough to know what's going on in the company."
Many of us have plug-in external batteries of one sort to recharge our smart phones when we're away from power outlets. Or we have gigantic aftermarket batteries that make our phones so fat they barely fit in our pockets. So there is this company, Lilliputian Power Systems, that is just starting to market a tiny, butane-powered fuel cell they call the Nectar that plugs into your cell phone (or whatever) through a USB port and supposedly charges it for up to two weeks. That's a lot better than an add-on battery. It looks expensive, although the power "pods" aren't too pricey at $19.99 for two. But wait a minute: Why aren't fuel cells, not internal combustion engines, the "range extenders" in plug-in hybrid cars? A decade back, fuel cells were going to revolutionize our power delivery and consumption systems. A cell phone charger is cute, but is that really all we can get fuel cells to do?
An anonymous reader writes with a link to an article at Wired with some harsh words for Microsoft's new tablet: "The Surface Pro is not a repair-friendly machine. In fact, it's one of the least repairable devices iFixit has seen: In a teardown of Microsoft's tablet-laptop hybrid, the company gave it a rock-bottom score of just one — one! — out of 10 for repairability, lower even than Apple's iPad and the Windows Surface RT."
Andy Prough writes "If you happen to be in Brazil and have 599 reals jingling in your pocket ($304 US dollars or £196), you can buy an iPhone — that runs Android. Gradiente Electronica, which registered the 'iPhone' name in Brazil in 2000, has won the right to sell its iPhone Neo One, an Android phone running version 2.3, Gingerbread. Gradiente won the ruling from the Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), despite Apple's argument that Gradiente should lose the right to 'iPhone' because it had not used the name between 2008-2012. Apple retains the right to appeal the case, and Gradiente now has the right to sue Apple for exclusivity in Brazil. If Gradiente wins, the only iPhones sold in Brazil would have a picture of a cute green robot on the box cover."
judgecorp writes "Britain is considering switching off air traffic control radar systems and using "passive radar" instead. A two year feasibility study will consider using a network of ground stations which monitor broadcast TV signals and measure echoes from aircraft to determine their location and velocity. The system is not a new idea — early radar experiments used BBC shortwave transmitters as a signal source before antenna technology produced a transceiver suitable for radar — but could now be better than conventional radar thanks to new antenna designs and signal processing techniques. It will also save money and energy by eliminating transmitters — and release spectrum for 5G services."
mask.of.sanity writes "Thousands of New Zealand frontline police will be armed with smartphones and tablets from this year in an efficiency initiative that the force hopes will save millions of dollars. NZ Police say the devices are Apple iPhones and iPads. These will be password protected and can be wiped remotely if lost. Police declined to say if the devices and their communications will be encrypted."
judgecorp writes "Vertu, the luxury phone maker formerly owned by Nokia, has chosen Android over Windows Phone for its new £6700 Vertu Ti device. The bling brand is no longer part of Nokia, so is free to shun Windows Phone — apparently because there are not enough apps there for Vertu's rich customers." Previous Vertu handsets used Symbian. Note: £6700 is just over 10,000 USD.
After disasters (or to minimize expensive data use generally, and take advantage of available Wi-Fi), bypassing the cell network is useful. But it's not something that handset makers bake into their phones. colinneagle writes with information on a project that tries to sidestep a dependence on the cellular carriers, if there is Wi-Fi near enough for at least some users: "The Smart Phone Ad-Hoc Networks (SPAN) project reconfigures the onboard Wi-Fi chip of a smartphone to act as a Wi-Fi router with other nearby similarly configured smartphones, creating an ad-hoc mesh network. These smartphones can then communicate with one another without an operational carrier network. SPAN intercepts all communications at the Global Handset Proxy so applications such as VoIP, Twitter, email etc., work normally."
jfruh writes "The Kindle Fire HD is in theory a powerful device at a reasonable price — but its Android-based OS is so oriented towards Amazon's ecosystem that it can be tricky to unlock its full potential. Still, with a little savvy you can get underneath the covers, improving battery life, getting full access to cameras and other devices, and even listening to music you've purchased through iTunes."
CowboyRobot writes "FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski recently proposed making RF spectrum publicly available, and many in the media (including the Washington Post) have been mistakenly conflating open access to WiFi signal with free Internet access; anyone can put up a wireless access point but that doesn't give them access to the Internet. The proposal will probably mean more attempts at providing free Internet access to specific neighborhoods or municipalities, but as Larry Seltzer at NetworkComputing points out, these programs also usually forget that access to signal is not the same as access to the Internet. After getting the funding to wire a city, these isn't money left to pay for the actual bandwidth usage."
TechCrunch is one of the many outlets to report that Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet computer sold out on its first day of wide availability. Business Insider points to Reddit threads complaining that "selling out" was largely a product of not having all that many in stock to begin with, in some cases not even enough to cover pre-ordered devices.
An anonymous reader writes "We have started seeing an increase in iPhone issues related to battery life and overheating. All of them seem to be related to users upgrading their devices to iOS 6.1. Furthermore, Vodafone UK today began sending out text messages to iPhone 4S owners on its network, warning them not to upgrade to iOS 6.1 due to issues with 3G performance. The text reads, 'If you've not already downloaded iOS 6.1 for your iPhone 4s, please hold off for the next version while Apple fixes 3G performance issues. Thanks.'"
redletterdave writes "The iPhone may be one of the bestselling smartphones on the planet, but Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak believes Apple's flagship smartphone has fallen behind its competitors, namely those built by Samsung, when it comes to smartphone features. Speaking at Businessweek's Best Brand Awards on Thursday evening, Wozniak said he was proud of how loyal Apple fans were to the iPhone, but also said 'this loyalty is not given,' shortly before denouncing his own company's smartphone. 'Currently we are, in my opinion, somewhat behind with features in the smartphone business,' Wozniak said. 'Others have caught up. Samsung is a big competitor. But precisely because they are currently making great products.'" I prefer Android, but it seems hard to find iPhone users who aren't enthusiastic about it. Whatever kind of phone you prefer, are there features you envy the users of some other variety?
One of the more interesting conversations Tim Lord had at CES this year was with Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon, who was showing off the Ubuntu Phone that is supposed to be released later this year. According to the Ubuntu website, it "delivers a magical phone that is faster to run, faster to use and fits perfectly into the Ubuntu family." Big words, but if Ubuntu parent Canonical can live up to them, the mobile phone market may soon have an interesting new operating system competitor to shake things up.
tsamsoniw writes "While research companies including IDC and Gartner deemed HP the PC leader for Q4 2012, Canalys has a different perspective. The analyst firm has declared Apple the top PC vendor for the past quarter, thanks in part to the booming success of the iPad and the iPad mini. By Canalys's reckoning, Amazon, too, now beats out the likes of Acer and Asus as leading PC vendors, having shipped 4.6 million Kindles in Q4."
DavidGilbert99 writes "A leaked video of the purported Google Chromebook Pixel laptop has stirred quite a lot of interest but whether or not the laptop in the video is real, Google needs to launch it in order to kickstart the Chrome OS platform." A high-res screen would be welcome, but Google seems to be doing alright with Chromebook sales right now. Warning: IB Times has ads with autoplaying videos and sound; you have been warned.
tad001 writes "CNET is reporting 'Discovered last night within a freshly jailbroken iPad: a set of buttons and code references for "radio," a feature found in iTunes on Macs and PCs, but not on the iPad or iPhone.' ... 'The buttons hint at Apple's much-rumored radio service, a product that will let people stream music much like they do on the popular Pandora service, but with deep ties to Apple's iTunes library.' ... 'The discovery follows a high-profile jailbreak of iOS 6.1, the updated system software Apple released just last week. A team of developers came up with a tool that gives users deep system-level access to do things like install applications from third-party app stores, change the look and feel of iOS, and add new software features.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Ars has an extensive review of the newly-released BlackBerry 10 operating system. Since it's such a late entry into the market, the tech community has been eyeballing the new operating system with trepidation — would all that time go to waste with a poor offering, or would BlackBerry 10 be a reasonable alternative to iOS and Android? Well, it seems BlackBerry (the company formerly known as RIM) actually put the time to good use. The review finds most of the UI innovations to actually be.. innovative. "BlackBerry took a lot of time to see what the competition is doing, and then it worked to refine its operating system. It essentially had an excellent cheat sheet, filled with everything that has worked wonderfully and all the things that have bombed. That said, BlackBerry still has to mold its product for its two huge core audiences: the business-oriented multi-tasker and the developing smartphone markets. To that end, it has included all of the essential features and apps to appeal to both of those parties. The corporate user has his or her share of content to watch on the train ride to work, games and apps to help keep busy when not entrenched in a meeting, and the perfect Hub for messaging (not to mention the literal split between work and personal environments)." However, the review also notes that the system is not really designed to make people drop their Android or iOS devices, so uptake is going to be slow at best. The question for the platform's success (and the company's) is no longer 'Is it any good? but 'Is it too late?'" There's also a review of the z10 smartphone itself.
judgecorp writes "Fears that mobile phones cause cancer have never had strong backing from scientific research, but Israeli startup Tawkon is using those fears for an interesting business model. Its free app (banned from Apple's App Store, but on Android, BlackBerry and unlocked iPhones) tracks how much radiation your phone is emitting. This lets concerned users hold their phones away from their heads or whatever — but it also gives Tawkon a useful map of cellphone coverage around the world, which is the real asset it is monetizing — for the benefit of everyone, it says."
An anonymous reader writes "Smartphones running the open source Ubuntu operating system will be available to customers beginning in October 2013, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth told CIO Journal. Ubuntu will be available on a full range of devices, including desktop and tablet computers, potentially providing corporate IT executives a way to reduce the number of devices they purchase and manage, and would allow users to access all manner of corporate data through a single, pocket-sized device. 'You can share Windows apps to the phone desktop,' said Mr. Shuttleworth during a meeting in New York Tuesday." Jon Brodkin adds, "Canonical is taking community input on what the core applications (e-mail, calendar, clock/alarm, weather, file manager, document viewer, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter) should look like. The best aspects of community proposals will hopefully make it into Ubuntu phones when they finally hit the market sometime toward the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014. Take a look at the best designs Canonical has received so far."
After many months of effort, today we've brought the new mobile site out of beta. Featuring an interface optimized for touch devices, we think it's a huge improvement over the old mobile interface. You'll find comments easier to navigate, the most popular stories highlighted at the top of the page, and a surprisingly pleasant interface for navigating old polls. We've also spiffed up user profiles, resurrecting and improving the friend/foe system in the process. And that's not all: we're pleased to announce that you can login to Slashdot in general using various social media accounts, so if you use Facebook or Google+ there's no excuse not to enjoy the benefits of being a registered user, without the hassle of creating yet another account. Our weblog has a few more details. As always, if you encounter any issues let us know by mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The release date is approaching for Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet, and reviews for the new device have started appearing. The Surface Pro differs from the Surface in that it runs a full version of Windows 8 Pro, rather than the tablet-centric Windows RT. It also has much beefier hardware specs: 4GB RAM, an Intel Core i5 CPU, and a full HD display with 10-point multitouch. Ars describes it as having the expected good performance at the expected costs of heat, noise, and battery life. "This is not an all-day machine. Surface RT probably is. But Surface Pro is not." The review praises the screen and the stylus, but points out some odd scaling issues as well. The Verge's review also mentions the scaling, and notes the strangeness of dealing with issues inherent to a Windows desktop OS — like antivirus — on a tablet. BGR looks at the big picture, calling the Surface Pro Microsoft's "declaration of war" on its hardware partners. All three reviews dwell on how the Surface Pro exists at the intersection of laptop and tablet, and doesn't quite fulfill either role. Ars says, "From the tablet perspective, Surface Pro is not acceptable. It gets too hot for a hand-held device, its battery life is woefully inadequate, and it's too thick and heavy to be comfortable to hand hold for long sessions. ... From a laptop perspective, Surface Pro falls down too. The traditional laptop has a stiff hinge to hold the screen at an angle of your choosing. ... In practice, the Surface RT and Surface Pro have a bigger footprint on my lap even than my old 15-inch MacBook Pro. And if I move a little, whomp, the screen drops off the back of my knees and folds out of sight." The Verge adds, "The real dealbreaker for me was that it's just unusable in my most common position — sitting on my couch, feet on the coffee table, with the computer on my lap."
msm1267 writes "Activist Chris Soghoian, who in the past has targeted zero-day brokers with his work, has turned his attention toward wireless carriers and their reluctance to provide regular device updates to Android mobile devices. The lack of updates leaves millions of Android users sometimes upwards of two revs behind in not only feature updates, but patches for security vulnerabilities. 'With Android, the situation is worse than a joke, it’s a crisis,' said Soghoian, principal technologies and senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union. 'With Android, you get updates when the carrier and hardware manufacturers want them to go out. Usually, that’s not often because the hardware vendor has thin [profit] margins. Whenever Google updates Android, engineers have to modify it for each phone, chip, radio card that relies on the OS. Hardware vendors must make a unique version for each device and they have scarce resources. Engineers are usually focused on the current version, and devices that are coming out in the next year.'"
pigrabbitbear writes "Internet access is an essential need on par with education access, but at what point do regulators recognize that? When will government officials acknowledge that widespread, guaranteed access is essential to fostering growth in the country? Somewhat surprisingly, that time is now, as the FCC is now calling for nationwide free wi-fi networks to be opened up to the public. The FCC proposes buying back spectrum from TV stations that would allow for what the Washington Post is dubbing 'super wi-fi,' as the commission wants to cover the country with wide-ranging, highly-penetrative networks. Essentially, you can imagine the proposal as covering a majority of the country with open-access data networks, similar to cell networks now, that your car, tablet, or even phone could connect to. That means no one is ever disconnected, and some folks – especially light users and the poor – could likely ditch regular Internet and cell plans altogether."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Hewlett-Packard is the latest PC manufacturer to jump into the Chromebook game, whipping the curtain back from a 14-inch device loaded with Google's Chrome OS. Powered by a dual-core Intel Celeron processor, and touting roughly 4.25 hours of battery life, the HP Pavilion Chromebook follows in the footsteps of other Chromebooks released by Acer and Samsung over the past few months. While these manufacturers continue to produce devices loaded with Windows, the growth of Chrome OS could spark some worry among Microsoft executives, who have become used to their hardware partners operating as Windows-only shops. But is Chrome OS a true threat to Windows, or just a way for manufacturers to gain some additional leverage in negotiating with Microsoft over licensing fees and other matters?"