Cellphones

Smartphones May Soon Provide Earthquake Warnings (sciencemag.org) 21

sciencehabit writes: When it comes to an earthquake, just a few seconds' warning could make the difference between life and death. But many earthquake-prone countries lack the seismic networks that would give their citizens the lead time to find cover or shut down critical utilities. Now, a group of enterprising engineers is looking at a substitute network: smartphones. Using smartphones' built-in accelerometers, researchers have invented an app, released today, that they say can detect strong earthquakes seconds before the damaging seismic waves arrive. MyShake, as the app is called, could become the basis for an earthquake warning system for the world's most vulnerable regions.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Have a Pager? Do You Find It Useful? 163

New submitter Chance Callahan writes: I am starting a business, helping a friend with his own startup, and volunteering regularly with a major political campaign (#feelthebern). One thing I have noticed is that my phone likes to die at the most inconvenient times and leaves me out of touch with people. With the business I'm starting requiring clients to be able to get ahold me quickly, I have been seriously considering getting a two-way pager. It's much easier swap out a AA battery once a month then to worry "will client X be able to get ahold me in the event of an emergency?" So, Slashdot, the million dollar question is, in the age of cell phones, do you have a pager? Do you still find it useful? Do any other "dead-tech" tools still play a big role for your communications? For example, fax machines are still big in Japan, and a lot of people keep landlines, too.
Bug

iPhones Bricked By Setting Date To Jan 1, 1970 (theguardian.com) 120

lightbox32 writes: Beware of a hoax circling the interwebs, which can be seen by setting your iPhone's date to January 1, 1970. Many people are reporting that doing so will brick the device. It's unclear what exactly causes the issue, but could be related to how iOS stores date and time formats. Jan. 1, 1970 is a value of zero or less than zero, which would make any process that uses a time stamp to fail. Apple is aware of the issue and is looking into it.
Businesses

Qualcomm Promises Gigabit LTE Speeds and New Chips to Power Smartwatches (google.com) 43

Qualcomm may have been losing steam (and jobs and sales), but it looks like the major telecommunications corporation is back in the lead when it comes to pushing out new LTE technologies. Qualcomm announced today the new Snapdragon X16 modem, which together with the WTR5975 transceiver, boasts Category 16 LTE download speeds of up to 1Gbps. Qualcomm also announced new chips that will power the next generation of wearables. Although you shouldn't hold your breath just yet, the implications could be huge!
Microsoft

Microsoft's 'Replacement' Surface Pro Charger Cable Is an Off-Brand, and Short (theinquirer.net) 74

Carly Page writes with a story from The Inquirer, where: As part of its Surface Pro charger recall, Microsoft has chosen to replace the sleek, shapely matt[e] plastic original with a cable approximately half the length and ordered from an off-brand manufacturer, in our case China's I-Sheng Electric Wire and Cable Company. Writer Peter Gothard points out a plausible reason for the length, though: "The extraordinarily short length of the cord is presumably to discourage behaviour that resulted in the "tightly wrapped" or "repeatedly bent" cables catching fire in at least 56 separate incidents."
Books

Amazon Restores Some Heft To Helvetica For Kindle E-Ink Readers (teleread.com) 85

David Rothman writes: Props to Amazon. The Helvetica font will be restored to a more readable weight than the anorexic one in the latest update for E Ink Kindles. Let's hope that an all-bold switch—or, better, a font weight adjuster of the kind that Kobo now offers—will also happen. I've queried Amazon about that possibility. Meanwhile thanks to Slashdot community members who spoke up against the anorexic Helvetica!
Networking

Facebook Developing Radio Wave Mesh To Connect Offline Areas (thestack.com) 44

An anonymous reader writes: As part of its wider Internet.org initiative to deliver connectivity to poor and rural communities, Facebook is actively developing a new network technology which uses millimetre wave bands to transmit data. Facebook engineer Sanjai Kohli filed two patents which outlined a 'next generation' data system, which would make use of millimetre wave technology deployed as mesh networks. Kohli's patents detailed a type of centralised, cloud-based routing system which 'dynamically adjusts route and frequency channel assignments, transmit power, modulation, coding, and symbol rate to maximize network capacity and probability of packet delivery, rather than trying to maximize the capacity of any one link.'
Intel

Dell Packs Xeon and Quadro GPU In 4lb Laptop (hothardware.com) 73

MojoKid writes: To look at the Dell Precision 15 5510, you wouldn't know that it sits in the middle of Dell's workstation lineup. The laptop is thinner and sleeker than you might expect a workstation-class laptop to be and the premium carbon fiber palm rest gives the system a decidedly high-end vibe. Not to mention, like the XPS 15, Dell equipped this machine with its 4K IGZO Infinity Edge display that has almost no bezel on three of its sides. However, the Precision 15 5510 is actually Dell's mid-range mobile workstation that also supports Intel Xeon E3 processors and NVIDIA's Quadro M1000 series GPUs. It's essentially a mobile workstation version of Dell's XPS 15 line but along with an NVMe PCIe Solid State Drive, delivers professional grade performance and the pro app certifications that go with it. Compared to Lenovo's ThinkPad W550 line, the Precision 15 is a more sleek, stylish machine and in testing it packs more punch as well. Lenovo may already have their Skylake Xeon refresh in the works for the ThinkPad W series, however.
Advertising

Adblock Fast Returns To Google Play a Week After Being Pulled 52

An anonymous reader writes: A week ago, Google suddenly removed Adblock Fast from its Android app store. Today, the ad blocker has been reinstated, enabling Samsung users to download it once again from Google Play. Late last month, the browser preinstalled on Samsung's Android phones gained support for content-blocking plugins, and the first plugin to support the functionality was a free and open-source solution called Adblock Fast. Rocketship Apps, the maker of Adblock Fast, uploaded the Android plugin on January 29, but Google rejected an app update on February 1. The app hit Google Play's top spot for free, new productivity apps on February 2, and was pulled by Google on the same day.
Google

Google Working On Wireless Charging For Self-Driving Cars (inhabitat.com) 60

MikeChino writes: New FCC filings suggest that Google is currently installing wireless charging systems for self-driving cars at its headquarters in Mountain View. The documents suggest that the systems will be installed by Hevo Power and Momentum Dynamics. Both companies offer technology that can wirelessly charge an electric car via plates that are embedded in the ground.
Social Networks

Instagram Launches Account Switching On iOS and Android (google.com) 29

Today, Instagram announced that users will be able to switch between up to five different accounts when using the app on iOS and Android. This new feature will be available later this week, when users download version 7.15 of the app. According to a blog post from the company, "Go to your profile settings to add an additional account. From there, tap your username at the top of your profile to switch between accounts. Once you have multiple accounts added, you'll see your profile photo appear in places throughout the app so you can always tell which one you're using at the moment."
Power

Ask Slashdot: Surge Protection For International Travel? 137

New submitter gaiageek writes: As someone who has lost a laptop power supply (and thus use of the laptop) due to a late-night power surge while traveling in a developing country, I'm acutely aware of the need for surge protection when traveling abroad. While practically all laptop and phone power adapters these days are voltage auto-sensing 100V-240V compatible, most so-called "travel" surge protectors are restricted to either 110V or 220V. Given the space and weight constraints of carry-on only travel, I'd like to avoid having to carry two separate surge protectors knowing I may go from Central America (110V) to Southeast Asia (220V). Strangely, laptop specific surge protectors typically are 100V-240V compatible, but this doesn't provide protection for a phone or tablet that requires the original power supply (can't be charged from a notebook USB port).

Is there really no solution out there short using a 110V-240V notebook surge protector with an adapter to go from a "cloverleaf" notebook plug to a 5-15R (standard US) plug receptacle?
Verizon

Verizon's Mobile Video Won't Count Against Data Caps -- but Netflix Will (arstechnica.com) 106

Earthquake Retrofit writes: Ars Technica has a story about how Verizon Wireless is testing the limits of the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules; Verizon has announced that it will exempt its own video service from mobile data caps—while counting data from competitors such as YouTube and Netflix against customers' caps.
Nintendo

Nintendo Hits Snooze On Sleep-Tracking Device (techcrunch.com) 51

In October 2014, Nintendo announced a plan to develop a sleep-tracking app and device. This device would use microwave sensors to monitor important sleep data throughout the night, to optimize users' slumber time and encourage a healthier rest cycle. Now, Nintendo has announced that the sleep app has been put to sleep indefinitely; the company is instead focusing on its new mobile games and next-generation console.
Cellphones

Foxconn Set To Acquire Sharp Corporation For $5.6 Billion (appleinsider.com) 48

Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics contract manufacturing/assembly company, is reported to be finalizing a deal to acquire Sharp Corporation for $5.6 billion, with the beleaguered company having finally rejected a proposed government rescue package in favor of the deal. Foxconn, formerly known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd, was brought to media attention in 2010, when the company installed suicide nets to stop the high number of employee suicides at company dorms. Although it seems out of the ordinary that one of the world's few producers of LCD panels is negotiating with Foxconn, the deal is expected to go through, making it one of the biggest foreign takeovers of a Japanese company.

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