The Courts

Time Warner Cable Owes $229,500 To Woman It Would Not Stop Calling 215 215

HughPickens.com writes: Reuters reports that a Manhattan federal judge has ruled Time Warner Cable must pay Araceli King $229,500 for placing 153 automated calls meant for someone else to her cellphone in less than a year, even after she told them to stop. King accused Time Warner Cable of harassing her by leaving messages for Luiz Perez, who once held her cellphone number, even after she made clear who she was in a seven-minute discussion with a company representative. Time Warner Cable countered that it was not liable to King under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a law meant to curb robocall and telemarketing abuses, because it believed it was calling Perez, who had consented to the calls. In awarding triple damages of $1,500 per call for willfully violating that law, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said "a responsible business" would have tried harder to find Perez and address the problem. While Time Warner argued that they were unaware King ever asked to be on the company's "do not call list," Hellerstein determined, "there is no doubt King made this revocation." He wrote that the company "could not be bothered" to update King's information, even after she filed suit against TWC in March of 2014. The judge said 74 of the calls had been placed after King sued and that it was "incredible" to believe Time Warner Cable when it said it still did not know she objected. "Companies are using computers to dial phone numbers," says King's lawyer Sergei Lemberg. "They benefit from efficiency, but there is a cost when they make people's lives miserable. This was one such case."
Operating Systems

Jolla Spins Off Hardware Business 44 44

New submitter John.Banister writes: Jolla, founded by former Nokia employees to continue where Nokia left off developing Linux based mobile devices, has spun off its hardware division with the intent to focus more strongly on its Sailfish Operating System. In its press release, the company assured backers of its crowdfunding campaign that it's still committed to delivering a tablet once hardware supply issues are resolved (PDF).
Portables

Two-Pounder From Lenovo Might Be Too Light For Comfort 134 134

MojoKid writes: With the advent of solid state storage and faster, lower-powered processors that require less complex cooling solutions, the average mainstream notebook is rather svelte. Recently, however, Lenovo announced their LaVie Z and LaVie Z 360 ultrabooks and at 1.87 and 2.04 pounds respectively, they're almost ridiculously light. Further, with Core i7 mobile processors and fast SSDs on board, these machines perform impressively well in the benchmarks and real world usage. If you actually pick one up though, both models are so light they feel almost empty, like there's nothing inside. Lenovo achieved this in part by utilizing a magnesium--lithium composite material for the casing of the machines. Though they're incredibly light, the feeling is almost too light, such that they tend to feel a little cheap or flimsy. With a tablet, you come to expect a super thin and light experience and when holding them in one hand, the light weight is an advantage. However, banging on a full-up notebook keyboard deck is a different ball of wax.
Cellphones

Turing Near Ready To Ship World's First Liquid Metal Android Smartphone 93 93

MojoKid writes: Liquid Metal is an alloy metal (technically, bulk metallic glass) that manages to combine the best features of a wide variety of materials into one product. Liquid Metal also has high corrosion resistance, high tensile strength, remarkable anti-wear characteristics and can also be heat-formed. Given its unique properties, Liquid Metal has been used in a number of industries, including in smartphones. Historically, it has been limited to small-scale applications and pieces parts, not entire products. However, Turing Robotic Industries (TRI) just announced pre-orders for the world's first liquid metal-frame smartphone. The Turing Phone uses its own brand of Liquid Metal called Liquidmorphium, which provides excellent shock absorption characteristics. So instead of making a dent in the smartphone casing or cracking/chipping like plastic when dropped, a Turing Phone should in theory "shake it off" while at the same time protecting the fragile display from breaking. The Turing Phone does not come cheap, however, with pricing starting at $610 for a 16GB model and escalating quickly to $740 and $870 respectively for the 64GB and 128GB models, unlocked. Pre-orders open up on July 31.
Software

Samsung Faces Lawsuit In China Over Smartphone Bloatware 84 84

An anonymous reader writes: Samsung is being sued in China for installing too many apps onto its smartphones. The Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission is also suing Chinese vendor Oppo, demanding that the industry do more to rein in bloatware. The group said complaints are on the rise from smartphone users who are frustrated that these apps take up too much storage and download data without the user being aware. Out of a study of 20 smartphones, Samsung and Oppo were found to be the worst culprits. A model of Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 contained 44 pre-installed apps that could not be removed from the device, while Oppo's X9007 phone had 71.
Cellphones

TracFone Finally Agrees To Allow Phone Unlocking 85 85

jfruh writes: While most Slashdot readers probably enjoy the latest and greatest smartphones and heavy-use data plans, millions of Americans use low-cost, prepaid featurephones, and many of those are sold under various brand names owned by TracFone. Today, after much pressure from the FCC, TracFone admitted that its customers also have the right to an unlocked phone that they can port to a different provider, including those low-income customers who participate in the government-subsidized Lifeline program, widely (though incorrectly) known as "Obamaphone".
Government

Cuba Connecting Universities With Fiber 56 56

lpress writes: Two Cuban universities have fiber links and fiber connections will be available to all Cuban universities in January 2016. One of the currently connected universities is in the west, near Havana (satellite ground station) and one in the east, near the undersea cable landing. Cuba will use Chinese equipment for DSL to the home and Wifi access points.
Cellphones

SMS Co-Inventor Matti Makkonen Dead At 63 31 31

An anonymous reader writes: The BBC News reports that Matti Makkonen, a 'grand old man of mobile industry' who helped launch the worldwide sensation of texting, has died at the age of 63 after an illness. Although planning to retire later in 2015 from the board of Finnet Telecoms, Makkonen constantly remained fascinated with communications technologies, from the Nokia 2010 mobile phone to 3G connections. He lived just enough to witness the last remnants of former Finnish mobile industry giant Nokia disappear, as Redmond announced its intent last month to convert all Nokia stores into Microsoft-branded Authorized Reseller and Service Centers, offering Xbox game consoles alongside the Nokia-derived Lumia range of smartphones.
Communications

European Government Agrees On Net Neutrality Rules, With Exemptions 37 37

An anonymous reader writes: The European Union's three main legislative bodies, the European Council, the European Parliment, and the European Commision, have reached an agreement on "Open Internet" rules that establish principles similar to Net Neutrality in the EU. The rules require that all internet traffic and users be treated equally, forbidding paid-for prioritisation of traffic. However, exemptions are permitted for particular "specialised services" where the service is not possible under the open network's normal conditions, provided that the customer using the service pays for the privilege. (The examples given are IPTV, teleconferencing, and telepresence surgery.) Zero-rating — exempting particular data from traffic caps — is also permitted, but will be subject to oversight. Notably, this means (if all goes as promised) the elimination of cellphone roaming fees within the EU; however, that's been promised and delayed before.
Input Devices

Disney Bans Selfie Sticks 177 177

New submitter albimaturityr writes with a story from the Orlando Sentinel that Disney is banning selfie sticks from its parks, starting with Disney World (as of Tuesday) but continuing with its other parks in California, Paris, and Hong Kong. Says the report: The issue has been building at Disney. Previously, the sticks were prohibited from its rides, and "no selfie-sticks" signs were at select rides, such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom. Cast members have given verbal warnings to rule breakers. Several incidents preceded the change, but officials have been discussing the rules for some time, Disney said. This week at Disney California Adventure park, a roller coaster was halted after a passenger pulled out a selfie-stick. The ride was closed for an hour.
Cellphones

iPhone 6S New Feature: Force Touch 191 191

New submitter WarJolt writes: Apple is adding Force Touch to their iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. I'm not sure if Force Touch enough to convince an Android user like myself to switch, but there are definitely some interesting possibilities for app developers. A challenge for App developers will be to make apps compatible with both Force Touch iPhones and non-force touch iPhones. (Here's the Bloomberg report Forbes draws from.)
IBM

Lenovo Could Remake the ThinkPad X300 With Current Technologies 219 219

MojoKid writes: The ThinkPad brand has been around for a long time; the first model was introduced by IBM way back in 1992. And although technological advances over the past two decades have lead to Lenovo ThinkPads that are lighter, much faster, and highly more cable than any model in the early 1990s could have ever imagined, there's still a clear visual link between yesteryear and today with regards to design cues. Well, apparently, Lenovo is seriously toying with the idea of making a "unique" model that would incorporate some of the strong ThinkPad language that has been erased in recent years. "Imagine a blue enter key, 7 row classic keyboard, 16:10 aspect ratio screen, multi-color ThinkPad logo, dedicated volume controls, rubberized paint, exposed screws, lots of status LEDs, and more. Think of it like stepping into a time machine and landing in 1992, but armed with today's technology." It might not be for everyone but some execs at Lenovo think there might be a market for it.
Wireless Networking

WiFi Offloading is Skyrocketing 152 152

dkatana writes: WiFi Offloading is skyrocketing. This is the conclusion of a new report from Juniper Research, which points out that the amount of smartphone and tablet data traffic on WiFi networks will will increase to more than 115,000 petabytes by 2019, compared to under 30,000 petabytes this year, representing almost a four-fold increase. Most of this data is offloaded to consumer's WiFi by the carriers, offering the possibility to share your home internet connection in exchange for "free" hotspots. But this article on InformationWeek Network Computing also warns that "The capacity of the 2.4GHz band is reaching its limit. [...] the growing number of WiFi devices using unlicensed bands is seriously affecting network efficiency. Capacity is compromised by the number of simultaneously active devices, with transmission speeds dropping as much as 20% of the nominal value. With the number of IoT and M2M applications using WiFi continuously rising, that could become a serious problem soon."
Wireless Networking

Wi-Fi Router's 'Pregnant Women' Setting Sparks Vendor Rivalry In China 207 207

colinneagle writes: When one Chinese technology vendor, Qihoo, launched a new Wi-Fi router with a safety setting for "pregnant women," a rival vendor took offense to the implication that their routers might be dangerous. Xiamo, which also sells Wi-Fi routers, took to its page on Chinese social media site Weibo to denounce Qihoo's pregnant women mode as a "marketing tactic," and clarify that "Wi-Fi usage is safe."

Zhou Hongyi, chief executive and president of Qihoo, acknowledged in a statement to the South China Morning Post that there is no evidence supporting claims that Wi-Fi routers pose a risk for birth defects. But he said the company is appealing to consumers' beliefs, whether they are supported by science or not.

"We are targeting people who are afraid of radiation," Hongyi said. "We aren't scientists. We haven't done many experiments to prove how much damage the radiation from Wi-Fi can cause. We leave the right of choice to our customers."
Android

Microsoft Brings Office To Android Smartphones For Free 85 85

Mark Wilson writes: After a few weeks in preview, Microsoft Office is now available for Android smartphones. Despite Microsoft's mobile-first, cloud-first philosophy, it has actually taken some time to bring the world's most popular office suite to Android phones — it joins the tablet version of the suite that was released last year. Just like the tablet editions, the phone versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint won't cost you a penny, allowing for the viewing and editing of a range of files when on the move. There is a cloud focus with support for not only OneDrive, but also Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box, and Microsoft says it has made changes based on the feedback received during the preview period.
Ubuntu

"Invite-Only" Ubuntu Mobile-Powered Meizu UX4 Goes On Sale 51 51

Mickeycaskill writes: Chinese manufacturer Meizu and Ubuntu developer Canonical have released the MX4 smartphone, but prospective owners will have to 'earn' an opportunity to buy the phone by playing an interactive origami game. Players are limited to three chances per day and this is the only way to buy the smartphone as it will no go on wider sale at a later date. The MX4 is the third Ubuntu Mobile smartphone to be released, following the BQ Aquaris E4.5 and E5 devices.
Google

Google Takes Over NYC's Free WiFi Project 68 68

dkatana writes: Google's new Smart Cities venture Sidewalk Labs announced the purchase of Intersection, the new company behind the LinkNYC project. nGoogle wants to speed up the developing of free internet access to New York residents and visitors, as a way to gather more information about their activities. Users of the pylons will provide the company invaluable data about their habits, places they visit, and browsing activity.

As part of the original LinkNYC plan, Intersection is scheduled to start deploying the new ad-supported, locally manufactured, WiFi 'pylons' this fall, reaching all five boroughs of the city. It will be the largest and fastest free municipal WiFi system in the world. After that, the company plans to start rolling out similar initiatives in other U.S. cities, but details have not been made public yet.
Wireless Networking

The Town That Banned Wi-Fi 529 529

An anonymous reader sends a story from The Guardian about Green Bank, West Virginia, a small town housing the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. There are other telescopes nearby, too. Because the telescopes are so sensitive, stray electromagnetic signals are strictly regulated in the surrounding area, which is called the National Radio Quiet Zone. But the town is running into a problem: its population was around 120 when this began, and by now about 40 people have moved there because they want to get away from radio waves and Wi-Fi signals and other types of electromagnetic radiation. There have been reports of tensions in the town: tales of threats and abuse unfitting to a sleepy mountain village. And it is all the stranger when you consider that no serious scientific study has been able to establish that electrosensitivity exists. ... Where the locals might have been happy to tolerate one or two of the sensitives, the mass migration was beyond the pale. ... People would walk towards [one woman] with concealed electronics, in an effort to provoke a reaction. A meeting she and her husband organised to help educate the others about electrosensitivity descended into a slanging match.
Cellphones

Political Polls Become Less Reliable As We Head Into 2016 Presidential Election 292 292

HughPickens.com writes: Cliff Zukin writes in the NY Times that those paying close attention to the 2016 election should exercise caution as they read the polls — election polling is in near crisis as statisticians say polls are becoming less reliable. According to Zukin, two trends are driving the increasing unreliability of election and other polling in the United States: the growth of cellphones and the decline in people willing to answer surveys. Coupled, they have made high-quality research much more expensive to do, so there is less of it. This has opened the door for less scientifically-based, less well-tested techniques.

To top it off, a perennial election polling problem, how to identify "likely voters," has become even thornier. Today, a majority of people are difficult or impossible to reach on landline phones. One problem is that the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act has been interpreted by the Federal Communications Commission to prohibit the calling of cellphones through automatic dialers, in which calls are passed to live interviewers only after a person picks up the phone. To complete a 1,000-person survey, it's not unusual to have to dial more than 20,000 random numbers, most of which do not go to actual working telephone numbers.

The second unsettling trend is rapidly declining response rates, reaching levels once considered unimaginable. In the late 1970s, pollsters considered an 80 percent response rate acceptable, but by 2014 the response rate has fallen to 8 percent. "Our old paradigm has broken down, and we haven't figured out how to replace it," concludes Zukin. "In short, polls and pollsters are going to be less reliable. We may not even know when we're off base. What this means for 2016 is anybody's guess."
Cellphones

Samsung Fixes Cellphone Keyboard Vulnerability 41 41

An anonymous reader writes: Several days ago, news broke that Samsung's keyboard software on their Galaxy series of cell phones had a glaring security issue that left 600 million devices vulnerable to attackers. The company has now fixed the flaw internally, and is making plans to roll out security updates to affected devices. They say the likelihood of an actual attack is low, because a particular set of conditions need to be met before any damage could be done.