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Software

App Developers, It's Time For a Reality Check 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the attack-of-the-clones dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: "An article in the Harvard Business Review does its best to punch a small hole in the startup-hype balloon. 'Encouraging kids to blow off schoolwork to write apps, or skip college to become entrepreneurs, is like advising them to take their college money and invest it in PowerBall,' Jerry Davis, Wilbur K. Pierpont professor of management at the Ross School of Business and the editor of Administrative Science Quarterly, wrote in that column. 'A few may win big; many or most will end up living with their moms.' Whether or not the unfortunate developer ends up back in the childhood bedroom, it's true that, with millions of apps available across all mobile platforms, it's increasingly difficult for independent developers to stand out. Compounding the problem, some of the hottest companies out there for developers and programmers don't have nearly enough job openings to absorb the flood of graduates from the world's universities. So what's a developer to do? Continue to plow forward, with adjusted expectations: the prospect of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg is just too tantalizing for many people to pass up, even if the chances of wild success are smaller than anyone rational would like to admit."
Microsoft

Microsoft: Start Menu Returns, Windows Free For Small Device OEMs, Cortana Beta 387

Posted by Soulskill
from the giving-in dept.
At Microsoft's BUILD conference today, the company announced that the Start Menu will officially be returning to Windows 8.1. It will combine the Windows 7 Start Menu with a handful of Metro-style tiles. They're also making it so Windows 8 apps can run in windows using the normal desktop environment. In addition to the desktop announcements, Microsoft also talked about big changes for Windows on mobile devices and Internet-of-Things devices. The company will be giving Windows away for free to OEMs making phones and tablets (9" screens and smaller), and for IoT devices that can run it. Microsoft also finally unveiled Cortana, their digital assistant software that's similar to Siri.
Portables

A Third of Consumers Who Bought Wearable Devices Have Ditched Them 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-a-smart-cummerbund dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian reports on research (PDF) into the (alleged) wearable device trend: fully one third of customers who bought one stopped using it within six months. Activity trackers fared even worse: half of them are collecting dust. 'For comparison, you wouldn't find people from the early days of the smartphone saying that they'd abandoned their BlackBerry, Treo or Windows Mobile or Symbian phone. They were the early adopters, and they found utility in having email and (sometimes) web pages on the move. The idea of giving them up just wouldn't occur to them. ... So far, there aren't clear signs of quite what it is that smartwatches and fitness trackers are replacing, in the way that [early] music players did. Useful new technology has to replace or simplify some function, ideally; otherwise it has the challenge of persuading us that we need this entirely new thing. Smartphones are simpler ways to collect your email – and also make phone calls and surf the web (and so on). Fitness trackers... let you track your fitness. But given that 41% of people run with their smartphones, you might get by with a movement tracking app instead. The trouble with devices that claim to track your steps is they're so easily hoaxed by waving your arms around.'"
Input Devices

Apple Patent Could Herald Interchangeable iPhone Camera Lenses 160

Posted by timothy
from the plug-and-shoot dept.
concertina226 (2447056) writes with this excerpt from IBTimes: "Apple has been granted a patent for interchangeable camera lenses — which could be used on the up-coming iPhone 6. The application was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office in remarkably quick time, according to Patently Apple. Patent No. 8,687,299 has been granted to Apple today for 'Bayonet attachment mechanisms,' i.e. a bayonet mount that is able to securely attach lenses to an iOS device, such as an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. A bayonet mount is a fastening mechanism which is typically seen on cameras, used to attach lenses to the camera body. At the moment, there is no adjustable camera lens system in existence for smartphones, although there are lots of third party macro lens products that consumers can buy to clip onto their smartphone."
The Almighty Buck

Smartphone Kill-Switch Could Save Consumers $2.6 Billion 218

Posted by samzenpus
from the kill-it dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Creighton University professor William Duckworth has released a report finding that kill-switch technology that remotely makes a stolen smartphone useless could save American consumers up to $2.6 billion per year — mostly from reduced insurance premiums. Duckworth estimated that Americans currently spend around $580 million replacing stolen phones each year and $4.8 billion paying for handset insurance. If a kill-switch led to a sharp reduction in theft of phones, most of the $580 million spent on replacing stolen phones would be saved. And a further $2 billion in savings could be realized by switching to cheaper insurance plans that don't cover theft."
Communications

WSJ: Prepare To Hang Up the Phone — Forever 449

Posted by Soulskill
from the rotary-phones-won't-breed-in-captivity dept.
retroworks writes: "Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon Communications are lobbying states, one by one, to hang up the plain, old telephone system, what the industry now calls POTS — the copper-wired landline phone system whose reliability and reach made the U.S. a communications powerhouse for more than 100 years. Is landline obsolete, and should be immune from grandparents-era social protection? The article continues, 'Last week, Michigan joined more than 30 other states that have passed or are considering laws that restrict state-government oversight and eliminate "carrier of last resort" mandates, effectively ending the universal-service guarantee that gives every U.S. resident access to local-exchange wireline telephone service, the POTS. (There are no federal regulations guaranteeing Internet access.) ... In Mantoloking, N.J., Verizon wants to replace the landline system, which Hurricane Sandy wiped out, with its wireless Voice Link. That would make it the first entire town to go landline-less, a move that isn't sitting well with all residents."
China

China Arrests 1,500 People For Sending Spam Messages From Fake Mobile Bases 35

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-what-you-text dept.
concertina226 (2447056) writes "Chinese authorities have detained a total of 1,530 suspects in a crackdown on spam SMS text messages being sent out by illegal telecoms equipment, according to Chinese news agency ECNS. Over 2,600 fake mobile base stations were seized and 24 sites manufacturing illegal telecoms equipment shut down as part of a massive nationwide operation involving nine central government and Communist Party of China departments. A report released by Trend Micro this month looked into the telecoms equipment black market in China (PDF) and found that cybercriminals routinely use either a GSM modem, an internet short message gateway and an SMS server to send out spam messages. On the underground market, SMS servers come in 'all-in-one' packages that include a laptop, a GSM mobile phone, an SMS server, an antenna to send out the fake signal and a USB cable, all for RMB 45,000 (£4,355)."
Android

Russian Officials Dump iPads For Samsung Tablets Over Spy Fears 198

Posted by timothy
from the putin-actually-invented-it dept.
wiredmikey writes: "Russian government officials have swapped their iPads for Samsung tablets to ensure tighter security, the telecoms minister told news agencies on Wednesday. Journalists spotted that ministers at a cabinet meeting were no longer using Apple tablets, and minister Nikolai Nikiforov confirmed the changeover "took place not so long ago." He said the ministers' new Samsungs were "specially protected devices that can be used to work with confidential information." This isn't the first time Russian powers have had concerns over mobile. In August 2012, Russia unveiled a prototype tablet with its own "almost Android" mobile OS that has the remarkably familiar feel of an Android but with bolstered encryption. In an even more paranoid move, this past July a Russian state service in charge of safeguarding Kremlin communications was looking to purchase an array of old-fashioned typewriters to prevent leaks from computer hardware."
Transportation

Taxis By Algorithm: Streamlining City Transport With Graph Theory 72

Posted by timothy
from the upsetting-the-big-apple-cartel dept.
New submitter Mark Buchanan (3595113) writes with a story about research from scientists at MIT, Cornell and elsewhere showing "that big city taxi systems could be made 40% more efficient with device-enabled taxi sharing. We could cut miles driven, costs, and pollution with the right application of just data and algorithms, and do it while introducing no more than a 5 minute delay to any person's trip. " Letting such algorithms compete seems an excellent reason to encourage, rather than reject by law, ride-coordination services like Uber and Lyft.
Cellphones

Ubuntu Phone Isn't Important Enough To Demand an Open Source Baseband 137

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the pick-your-battles dept.
colinneagle (2544914) writes "Canonical is producing a version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution specifically for smartphones, but Richard Tynan, writing for PrivacyInternational.org, recently pointed out that the baseband in Ubuntu-powered phones will remain proprietary. ... Some have criticized Canonical for missing an opportunity to push for a fully Open Source smartphone, but in order to fix this problem (and open up the code for this super-critical bit of software), we need companies that have a large amount of clout, in the smartphone market, to make it a priority. Canonical (with Ubuntu) just doesn't have that clout yet. They're just now dipping their toes into the smartphone waters. But you know who does have that clout? Google.

Google has made a point of touting Open Source (at least sometimes), and they are the undisputed king of the smartphone operating system world. And yet I hear no big moves by Google to encourage phone manufacturers to utilize Open Source baseband firmware, such as OsmocomBB. So has Canonical missed an opportunity? No. Not yet. If (some may say 'when') Ubuntu gains a critical amount of market share in the phone world, that will be their chance to pressure manufacturers to produce a truly Open Source phone. Until then, Canonical needs to continue to work within the world we have today."
Android

One Billion Android Devices Open To Privilege Escalation 117

Posted by timothy
from the that's-beeeeeellion dept.
msm1267 (2804139) writes "The first deep look into the security of the Android patch installation process, specifically its Package Management Service (PMS), has revealed a weakness that puts potentially every Android device at risk for privilege escalation attacks. Researchers from Indiana University and Microsoft published a paper that describes a new set of Android vulnerabilities they call Pileup flaws, and also introduces a new scanner called SecUP that detects malicious apps already on a device lying in wait for elevated privileges. The vulnerability occurs in the way PMS handles updates to the myriad flavors of Android in circulation today. The researchers say PMS improperly vets apps on lower versions of Android that request OS or app privileges that may not exist on the older Android version, but are granted automatically once the system is updated.

The researchers said they found a half-dozen different Pileup flaws within Android's Package Management Service, and confirmed those vulnerabilities are present in all Android Open Source Project versions and more than 3,500 customized versions of Android developed by handset makers and carriers; more than one billion Android devices are likely impacted, they said."
Handily enough, the original paper is not paywalled.
Cellphones

Oppo's New Phone Hits 538 PPI 217

Posted by timothy
from the how's-your-vision? dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Oppo Electronics has taken off the wraps on its first LTE phone, and it packs more technology than most if not all laptops. The Find 7 is a 5.5" phone and is the first to support 2560 x 1440 resolution [538 PPI] (by comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has 441 PPI). 'Another striking and unique feature of the phone is its 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor,' writes blogger Andy Patrizio. 'This is Qualcomm's first chip to feature its Gobi True 4G LTE World Mode, supporting LTE FDD, LTE TDD, WCDMA, CDMA1x, EV-DO, TD-SCDMA and GSM4. Translation: this phone will work on LTE all over the world.'"
Wireless Networking

WPA2 Wireless Security Crackable WIth "Relative Ease" 150

Posted by timothy
from the relatively-absolute dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Achilleas Tsitroulis of Brunel University, UK, Dimitris Lampoudis of the University of Macedonia, Greece and Emmanuel Tsekleves of Lancaster University, UK, have investigated the vulnerabilities in WPA2 and present its weakness. They say that this wireless security system might now be breached with relative ease [original, paywalled paper] by a malicious attack on a network. They suggest that it is now a matter of urgency that security experts and programmers work together to remove the vulnerabilities in WPA2 in order to bolster its security or to develop alternative protocols to keep our wireless networks safe from hackers and malware."
Wireless Networking

Wireless Carriers In Huge Washington Lobby Fight Over Spectrum Auction 51

Posted by timothy
from the rent-seeking-on-display dept.
First time accepted submitter techpolicy (3586897) writes "The big four wireless carriers are spending millions of dollars to hire professors, fund Washington think tanks and to meet with the Federal Communications Commission to try to convince the agency to write rules for an upcoming auction of spectrum that favor them, according to an article posted by the Center for Public Integrity in Washington. The frequencies are needed to bolster or build out their nationwide networks — and this kind of low-band spectrum won't be up for sale for a very long time. The biggest fight is over a rule that would limit how much AT&T and Verizon can get of these valuable frequencies. How it plays out will determine who has control over your smartphone."
Space

Google's Project Tango Headed To International Space Station 22

Posted by Soulskill
from the much-cheaper-than-testing-in-somebody's-basement dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "A pair of Google's Project Tango phones, the prototype smartphone packed with sensors so it can learn and sense the world around it, is heading to the International Space Station on the upcoming Orbital 2 mission where they will be used to help develop autonomous flying robots. Work on the robots is already going on at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and this week the space agency let a small group of reporters visit its lab and see some of the research."
Iphone

Tor Project: Fake Tor App Has Been In Apple's App Store For Months 78

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the well-he-paid-his-developer-fees-so-... dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "For the past several months Tor developers have unsuccessfully been trying to convince Apple to remove from its iOS App Store what they believe to be a fake and potentially malicious Tor Browser application. According to subsequent messages on the bug tracker, a complaint was filed with Apple on Dec. 26 with Apple reportedly responding on Jan. 3 saying it would give a chance to the app's developer to defend it. More than two months later, the Tor Browser app created by a developer named Ronen is available still in the App Store. The issue came into the public spotlight Wednesday when people involved in the Tor Project took to Twitter to make their concerns heard. Apple did not respond to IDG News Service's request for comment."
Software

A Call For Rollbacks To Previous Versions of Software 199

Posted by timothy
from the forced-upgrades-are-a-pox-on-the-world dept.
colinneagle writes "In a blog post, Andy Patrizio laments the trend — made more common in the mobile world — of companies pushing software updates ahead without the ability to roll back to previous versions in the event that the user simply doesn't like it. iOS 7.1, for example, has reportedly been killing some users' battery power, and users of the iTunes library app TuneUp will remember how the much-maligned version 3.0 effectively killed the company behind it (new owners have since taken over TuneUp and plans to bring back the older version).

The ability to undo a problematic install should be mandatory, but in too many instances it is not. That's because software developers are always operating under the assumption that the latest version is the greatest version, when it may not be. This is especially true in the smartphone and tablet world. There is no rollback to be had for anything in the iOS and Android worlds. Until the day comes when software developers start releasing perfectly functioning, error-free code, we need the ability to go backwards with all software."
Cellphones

Brazil Blocks Foreign Mobile Phones 97

Posted by timothy
from the taxation-failing-to-buy-civilization dept.
First time accepted submitter fabrica64 writes "The Brazilian government has today started blocking mobile phones not sold in Brazil (Portuguese-language original), i.e. not having paid sales taxes here. The blocking is based on IMEI, and if you come to Brazil for the World Cup in June and think of buying a Brazilian SIM card to call locally at lower rates, then it won't work because your mobile's IMEI will be blacklisted as not sold in Brazil. This is not a joke, it's true!"
Bug

Camera Module Problems May Delay Samsung's Galaxy S5 70

Posted by timothy
from the tiny-little-pieces dept.
concertina226 writes "There's less than a month to go before Samsung launches its new flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone worldwide on 11 April, and the new device has still not gone into mass production due to camera module manufacturing problems. The 16 megapixel camera module consists of six plastic pieces, one more piece than in the existing 13 megapixel camera modules in the Galaxy S4. The problem that Samsung is having is that even though the number of plastic pieces has gone up, the thickness of each piece has remained the same, so in order to fit the new camera module into the Galaxy S5, the lens makers will likely have to develop new technology to make thinner lenses. Not only that, joining six pieces together instead of five for the 13 megapixel camera modules increases the risk of optical faults surfacing at the lens manufacturers' plants dramatically."
Wireless Networking

Harsh Wireless Conditions? Send In the Drone Hot Spot 20

Posted by samzenpus
from the stay-connected dept.
coondoggie writes "The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has moved along a project it says would use hot-spot enabled drones to bring wireless communications to even the most distant and harsh environments. The project known as Fixed Wireless at a Distance is designed specifically to overcome the challenge inherent with cell communication in remote areas and this week the agency awarded L-3 $16.4 million to support the next iteration of the system."

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)

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