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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Wireless Networking

Internet Companies Want Wireless Net Neutrality Too 38

Posted by samzenpus
from the count-us-in dept.
jfruh writes As it looks more likely that the U.S. will impose net neutrality rules on landline ISPs, big Web companies are aiming to get wireless data providers under the same regulatory umbrella. The Internet Association, a trade group that includes Google, Facebook, Amazon.com, and eBay, wants the FCC to "harmonize" the treatment of mobile and wired broadband providers in its net neutrality rules. Wireless providers are fighting back, claiming their networks are fundamentally different.
Intel

Android On Intel x86 Tablet Performance Explored: Things Are Improving 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-run-crysis dept.
MojoKid writes: For the past few years, Intel has promised that its various low-power Atom-based processors would usher in a wave of low-cost Android and Windows mobile products that could compete with ARM-based solutions. And for years, we've seen no more than a trickle of hardware, often with limited availability. Now, that's finally beginning to change. Intel's Bay Trail and Merrifield SoCs are starting to show up more in full-featured, sub-$200 devices from major brands. One of the most interesting questions for would-be x86 buyers in the Android tablet space is whether to go with a Merrifield or Bay Trail Atom-based device. Merrifield is a dual-core chip without Hyper-Threading. Bay Trail is a quad-core variant and a graphics engine derived from Intel's Ivy Bridge Core series CPUs. That GPU is the other significant difference between the two SoCs. With Bay Trail, Intel is still employing their own graphics solution, while Merrifield pairs a dual-core CPU with a PowerVR G6400 graphics core. So, what's the experience of using a tablet running Android on x86 like these days? Pretty much like using an ARM-based Android tablet currently, and surprisingly good for any tablet in the $199 or less bracket. In fact, some of the low cost Intel/Android solutions out there currently from the likes of Acer, Dell, Asus, and Lenovo, all compete performance-wise pretty well versus the current generation of mainstream ARM-based Android tablets.
Wireless Networking

Samsung Achieves Outdoor 5G Mobile Broadband Speed of 7.5Gbps 36

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-needs-landlines dept.
Mark.JUK writes: Samsung has become the first to successfully demonstrate a future 5G mobile network running at speeds of 7.5Gbps in a stationary outdoor environment. They also managed 1.2Gbps while using the same technology and driving around a 4.3km-long race track at speeds of up to 110kph.

Crucially, the test was run using the 28GHz radio spectrum band, which ordinarily wouldn't be much good for mobile networks where wide coverage and wall penetration is an important requirement. But Samsung claims it can mitigate at least some of that by harnessing the latest Hybrid Adaptive Array Technology (HAAT), which uses millimeter wave frequency bands to enable the use of higher frequencies over greater distances. Several companies are competing to develop the first 5G technologies, although consumers aren't expected to see related services until 2020 at the earliest.
Google

Google Announces Motorola-Made Nexus 6 and HTC-Made Nexus 9 201

Posted by samzenpus
from the latest-and-greatest dept.
An anonymous reader writes In addition to Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google today also announced the first devices running the new version of its mobile operating system: the Nexus 6 and the Nexus 9. The former is a phablet built by Motorola, and the latter is a tablet built by HTC. The Nexus 6 is going up for pre-order on October 29, starting at $649. The Nexus 9 meanwhile is going up for pre-order this Friday (October 17), and you'll also be able to get it in stores on November 3.
Cellphones

Flight Attendants Want Stricter Gadget Rules Reinstated 404

Posted by timothy
from the killjoys-in-uniform dept.
stephendavion writes You might be super happy to toil away on your phone or tablet the entire time you're on a plane, but not everyone is pleased to see your face buried in your device during takeoff and landing. The Federal Aviation Administration's new, more relaxed rules on gadget use aren't sitting well with one group — flight attendants. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the nation's largest flight attendant union is now suing the FAA to have the ban on gadget use during takeoff and landing reinstated. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA argues that the change has caused many passengers to ignore flight attendants' emergency announcements, and that the new rules violate federal regulations requiring passengers to stow all items during takeoff and landing.
Open Source

Tiny Wireless Device Offers Tor Anonymity 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the fits-discreetly-in-left-nostril dept.
Lucas123 writes: The Anonabox router project, currently being funded through a Kickstarter campaign, has surpassed its original $7,000 crowdfunding goal by more than 10 times in just one day. The open source router device connects via Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable making it harder for your IP address to be seen. While there have been other Tor-enabled routers in the past, they aren't small enough to fit in a shirt pocket like the Anonabox and they haven't offered data encryption on top of the routing network. The device, which is being pitched as a way for consumers to securely surf the web and share content (or allow businesses to do the same), is also being directed at journalists who may want to share stories in places where they might otherwise be censored.
Communications

Samsung's Wi-Fi Upgrades Promise Speeds Up to 4.6Gbps 92

Posted by timothy
from the another-shifting-bottleneck dept.
The Register describes an advance in wireless speed announced by Samsung, which could make possible Wi-Fi speeds of up to 4.6Gbps in any device equipped with the new technology. By using “wide-coverage beam-forming antenna” and “eliminating co-channel interference, regardless of the number of devices using the same network” Samsung says it has cracked the problem and that products using its 802.11 ab standard could go on sale next year. Early products to use the technology will include “audio visual and medical devices, as well as telecommunications equipment.” Samsung also says the technology will be “integral to developments relevant to the Samsung Smart Home and other initiatives related to the Internet of Things.”
Communications

WhatsApp's Next Version To Include VoIP Calls and Recording 65

Posted by timothy
from the everything-that-converges dept.
An anonymous reader writes that WhatsApp is adding a feature that may elevate it for many users' purposes: VoIP. "Apps like Viber, Skype, Tango and Google Hangout already support VoIP, which allows you to make voice calls over a broadband connection. Beyond WhatsApp's huge pool of over 600 million active users, which will undoubtedly disrupt cell service providers' payment model, what is even more intriguing is the VoIP recording feature. With the exception of third-party add-ons available for Skype, no other VoIP app includes this feature."
The Internet

BitHammer, the BitTorrent Banhammer 429

Posted by Soulskill
from the taking-back-your-bandwidth dept.
michaelcole writes: Its name is BitHammer. It searches out and bans BitTorrent users on your local sub-net.

I'm a digital nomad. That means I travel and work, often using shared Wi-Fi. Over the last year, I've been plagued by rogue BitTorrent users who've crept onto these public hostpots either with a stolen/cracked password, or who lie right to my face (and the Wi-Fi owners) about it.

These users clog up the residential routers' connection tables, and make it impossible to use tools like SSH, or sometimes even web browsing. Stuck for a day, bullied from the Wi-Fi, I wrote BitHammer as a research project. It worked rather well. It's my first Python program. I hope you find it useful.
AT&T

AT&T To Repay $80 Million In Shady Phone Bill Charges 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
First time accepted submitter dibdublin writes The Federal Trade Commission announced today that AT&T will pay $105 million for hiding extra charges in cellphone bills. The best part of the news? $80 million of it will go back into the pockets of people bilked by AT&T. The FTC announcement reads in part: "As part of a $105 million settlement with federal and state law enforcement officials, AT&T Mobility LLC will pay $80 million to the Federal Trade Commission to provide refunds to consumers the company unlawfully billed for unauthorized third-party charges, a practice known as mobile cramming. The refunds are part of a multi-agency settlement that also includes $20 million in penalties and fees paid to 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a $5 million penalty to the Federal Communications Commission."
Graphics

NVIDIA Launches Mobile Maxwell GeForce GTX 980M and GTX 970M Notebook Graphics 29

Posted by Soulskill
from the where-efficiency-is-king dept.
MojoKid writes: When Nvidia launched their new GeForce GTX 980 and 970 last month, it was obvious that these cards would be coming to mobile sooner rather than later. The significant increase that Maxwell offers in performance-per-watt means that these GPUs should shine in mobile contexts, maybe even more-so than in desktop. Today, Nvidia is unveiling two new mobile GPUs — the GeForce GTX 980M and 970M. Both notebook graphics engines are based on Maxwell's 28nm architecture, and both are trimmed slightly from the full desktop implementation. The GTX 980M is a 1536-core chip (just like the GTX 680 / 680M) while the GTX 970 will pack 1280 cores. Clock speeds are 1038MHz base for the GTX 980M and 924MHz for the GTX 970M, which is significantly faster than the previous gen GTX 680M's launch speeds. The 980M will carry up to 4GB of RAM, while the 970M will offer 3GB and a smaller memory bus.

From eyeballing relative performance expectations, the GTX 970M should be well-suited to 1080p or below at high detail levels, while the GTX 980M should be capable of ultra detail at 1080p or higher resolutions. Maxwell's better efficiency means that it should offer a significant performance improvement over mobile Kepler, even with the same number of cores. Also with this launch Nvidia is introducing "Battery Boost" as a solution for games with less demanding graphics, where battery life can be extended by governing clock speeds to maintain playable frames, without overpower the GPU at higher than needed frame rates.
Cellphones

Studies Conclude Hands-Free-calling and Apple Siri Distract Drivers 208

Posted by timothy
from the popular-delusions dept.
New submitter operator_error writes with a story at the L.A. Times that echoes some previous research on the relative risks of hand-held vs. hands-free phones by drivers, and comes to an even grimmer conclusion: In many cars, making a hands-free phone call can be more distracting than picking up your phone, according to a new study from AAA and the University of Utah. In-dash phone systems are overly complicated and prone to errors, the study found, and the same is true for voice-activated functions for music and navigation. A companion study also found that trying to use Siri — the voice control system on Apple phones — while driving was dangerously distracting. Two participants in the study had virtual crashes in an automotive simulator while attempting to use Siri, the study's authors reported. In response, Toyota said the study did not show a link between cognitive distraction and car crashes. "The results actually tell us very little about the relative benefits of in-vehicle versus hand-held systems; or about the relationship between cognitive load and crash risks," said Mike Michels, a Toyota spokesman. Meanwhile, many states treat hand-held devices very differently from hands-free ones; in New York, for instance, both texting and talking on a hand-held mobile phone are put in the same category, while talking on a hands-free device is covered only by more general distracted driving laws. If the Utah study is correct, maybe that's backwards. (And some evidence suggests that phone use in cars is not quite the straightforward danger that it's sometimes presented as, despite the correlation of phone use with accidents.)
Cellphones

Test-Driving a $35 Firefox OS Smartphone 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-at-least-a-phone-of-middling-intelligence dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica got its hands on one of the extremely low-cost smart phones running Firefox OS. The Intex Cloud FX retails for about $35 in India, and its intent is to bring smartphones to people who traditionally can't afford them. So, what do you have to sacrifice to bring a smartphone's costs down that far? Well, it has a 3.5" 480x320 display, a 1Ghz A5 CPU, 128MB of RAM, and 256 MB of storage. (Those a megabytes.) There's no GPS, no notification LED, and not even 3G support. They say the build quality is as poor as you'd expect, and if you aren't at a 90 degree angle with the screen, colors are distorted. But, again: it's $35 — this is to be expected.

How well does the phone work? Well, the UI works well enough, but multitasking is rough. Everything's functional, but slow, sometimes taking several seconds to register touch input. The real killer, according to the article, is the on-screen keyboard, which is unbearable. The article concludes, "Sure, we're spoiled, "rich" people compared to the target market, but it's hard to believe that this is a "best attempt" at a cheap smartphone. ... The problem is that Firefox OS just isn't the right choice of operating system for this device—it's trying to do way too much with the limited hardware. It isn't configurable enough." They say the phone doesn't even make sense for a $35 budget.
Android

Details of iOS and Android Device Encryption 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the protecting-your-cat-pictures-from-the-gubmint dept.
swillden writes: There's been a lot of discussion of what, exactly, is meant by the Apple announcement about iOS8 device encryption, and the subsequent announcement by Google that Android L will enable encryption by default. Two security researchers tackled these questions in blog posts:

Matthew Green tackled iOS encryption, concluding that the change really boils down to applying the existing iOS encryption methods to more data. He also reviews the iOS approach, which uses Apple's "Secure Enclave" chip as the basis for the encryption and guesses at how it is that Apple can say it's unable to decrypt the devices. He concludes, with some clarification from a commenter, that Apple really can't (unless you use a weak password which can be brute-forced, and even then it's hard).

Nikolay Elenkov looks into the preview release of Android "L." He finds that not only has Google turned encryption on by default, but appears to have incorporated hardware-based security as well, to make it impossible (or at least much more difficult) to perform brute force password searches off-device.
Wireless Networking

Marriott Fined $600,000 For Jamming Guest Hotspots 278

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-get-between-hotel-guests-and-their-social-media dept.
schwit1 writes: Marriott will cough up $600,000 in penalties after being caught blocking mobile hotspots so that guests would have to pay for its own Wi-Fi services, the FCC has confirmed today. The fine comes after staff at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee were found to be jamming individual hotspots and then charging people up to $1,000 per device to get online. Marriott has been operating the center since 2012, and is believed to have been running its interruption scheme since then. The first complaint to the FCC, however, wasn't until March 2013, when one guest warned the Commission that they suspected their hardware had been jammed.

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