itwbennett writes "In a filing to the FCC, Bay Area Rapid Transit general manager Grace Crunican defended last August's mobile shutdown, saying that 'a temporary disruption of cell phone service, under extreme circumstances where harm and destruction are imminent, is a necessary tool to protect passengers.' Taking the opposing position, digital rights groups, including Public Knowledge, Free Press, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, told the FCC (PDF) that 'wireless interruption will necessarily prohibit the communications of completely innocent parties — precisely those parties closest to the site where the emergency is located or anticipated.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
judgecorp writes "The British Government has announced its plans to handle solar storms. The idea is to improve the resilience of infrastructure, including satellite communications — which the government says will also be useful against the future possibility of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons. From the report: 'National Grid and DECC are building on the work of the Space Environment Impacts Evaluation Group and E3C to analyse the range of impacts of extreme space weather events, with the Carrington Event being adopted as the reasonable worst case. These scientific assessments have enabled National Grid to change the design requirements for its Supergrid transformers, and to increase its reserve holding of transformers. National Grid is currently developing improved monitoring tools with the British Geological Survey (BGS) and installing or reinstalling Geomagnetically Induced Currents (GIC) monitoring devices into its Strategic Asset Management program. The next steps will be for National Grid, in association with BGS and working with E3C, to develop more detailed modelling of severe space weather events including impacts on generator transformers. This will extend and strengthen its analysis on the electricity transmission system completed so far.'"
Earlier today, Tizen, Intel's post-MeeGo mobile OS, announced the availability of their first stable release. The H has a summary of the new features: "The source code for Tizen's Larkspur release has seen a number of new features added. The Web capabilities have now got full W3C/HTML5 specification support with 'key' WebRTC features incorporated and APIs to access the local camera and vibration. ... Tizen's graphics are based on X11 with a compositing window manager based on Enlightenment Foundation Libraries ... The SDK's IDE includes a new browser based tool which offers support for the Tizen APIs within a browser; this should allow developers to run and debug Tizen 'web applications' and see how those applications run with various device profiles. The alpha release of the browser based simulator should reduce the need to work with the emulator for many applications." The SDK release notes and source release notes have the gritty details. A new community wiki has been created, and source is available via git. This release comes just before the first Tizen developer conference, May 7-9th in San Francisco.
arcite writes "Research in Motion Ltd's new CEO, Thorsten Heins, unveiled BlackBerry 10 in Florida today. Will new features such as a virtual keyboard that learns from typing behavior and a camera that easily focuses on faces be enough to scrape back precious market share (which could possibly fall to 5%) from the likes of Apple and Android? With no physical device yet revealed and a release date ranging anywhere from August to October, it will be an uphill battle." Engadget had some brief hands-on time with a dev Alpha. It seems RIM is trying to jumpstart app development through its App Generator and financial incentives.
judgecorp writes "Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has praised the user interface of Microsoft's Windows Phone, saying that aspects of its user interface are more 'beautiful' than comparable sides to the iPhone. The comments, in a New Domain, follow on from a comment by Forrester boss George Colony who blogged that Apple would decline in the post-Jobs era. Both pieces have kicked off the kind of online argument you would expect."
theodp writes "Meet Engineer Doe. A NY Times report has identified Marius Milner as the software engineer at the center of the uproar over a Google project that used Wi-Fi sniffing Google Street View cars to collect e-mail and other personal data from potentially millions of unsuspecting people. Milner, creator of the wardriving software NetStumbler, referred questions to his lawyer. Google declined to comment. A patent search shows the USPTO awarded Google and Milner a patent in June 2011 for protecting Internet users from 'hackers and other ne'er-do-wells [who] may seek to tap into communications on a network.'"
First time accepted submitter NGTechnoRobot writes "In a turn for the books the BBC reports that Microsoft has invested $300 million in Barnes and Noble's Nook e-reader. The new Nook reader will integrate with Microsoft's yet-to-be-released Windows 8 operating system. From the article: 'The deal could make Barnes and Noble's Nook e-book reader available to millions of new customers, integrating it with the Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system. The as-yet unnamed new company will be 82.4% owned by Barnes and Noble, with Microsoft getting a 17.6% stake.' Guess the lawsuit's over, folks."
redletterdave writes "While downloading and storing digital media with online service providers has become commonplace — more so than purchasing DVDs and CDs at physical retail stores — it's not very easy to transfer digital files from one individual to another, usually because of copyright laws. Some digital distributors have systems for limiting usage and distribution of their products from the original purchaser to others, but often times, transferring a copyright-protected file from one device to another can result in the file being unplayable or totally inaccessible. Apple believes it has a solution to this issue: A gift-giving platform where users have a standardized way for buying, sending and receiving media files from a provider (iTunes) between multiple electronic devices (iPhones, iPads). The process is simply called, 'Gifting.'"
An anonymous reader writes with news that Google has released the full report of the FCC investigation into the incident in which its Street View cars collected personal data while mapping Wi-Fi networks. They are putting responsibility for the data gathering on a 'rogue engineer' who wrote the code for it without direction from management. "Those working on Street View told the FCC they had no knowledge that the payload data was being collected. Managers of the Street View program said they did not read the October 2006 document [written by the engineer that detailed his work]. A different engineer remembered receiving the document but did not recall any reference to the collection of payload data. An engineer who worked closely with the engineer in question on the project in 2007, reviewing all of the codes line by line for bugs, says he did not notice that the software was designed to capture payload data. A senior manager said he preapproved the document before it was written."
New submitter DillyTonto writes "Amazon got shelled by analysts and the press after releasing a buggy first iteration of the Fire edition of the Kindle e-reader. Three weeks later the Kindle Fire owned 14 percent of the whole market for tablets. Three months later, more than half of all Android tablets sold in the U.S. are seven-inch Kindle Fires, despite a huge bias among buyers for 10-inch tablets. How could a heavily modded e-reader beat full-size tablets by major PC vendors? It's cheaper than any other tablet or e-reader on the market, for one thing. Also important is its focus on being an e-reader, 'because people buy hardware to have access to one app or function, then take the other things it can do as an additional benefit.'"
alphadogg writes "With its future up for grabs, Research in Motion at its annual BlackBerry World conference next week will focus on simplifying development for its soon-to-be-unveiled BlackBerry 10 operating system. HTML5 is one key technology in that strategy to create a viable ecosystem of applications for a new generation of mobile devices expected to ship by year-end. The simplicity is needed because BB10, based on a real time kernel acquired with RIM's buyout of QNX Software Systems in 2010, is a complete break with the software that runs on standard BlackBerry smartphones. 'It's a bit of a challenge,' says Tyler Lessard, formerly a RIM vice president in charge of the global developer program, and since October 2011 chief marketing officer at mobile security vendor Fixmo. 'There's very little or no compatibility between the old and new operating systems. Existing apps can't be carried forward to QNX and BB 10. The question is, once the BlackBerry 10 smartphones launch, can RIM have an adequate catalog of apps?'"
rtfa-troll writes "Tomi Ahonen reports that Samsung has become the largest manufacturer of smartphones (overtaking Apple) and of mobile phones (overtaking Nokia). During the first quarter of 2012 Samsung sold 93.5 million phones, with 44.5 million (48%) of those being smartphones. Apple would still lead on 'smart mobile devices' with 52 million sales including iPads, but not iPods. The last time the lead in mobile phone sales changed was in 14 years ago, in 1998, when Nokia overtook Ericsson. Ericsson never recovered and began leaving the mobile phone market three years later, creating Sony Ericsson, later Sony Mobile. It looks like the mobile phone market is going to be brutal, with Apple and Samsung crushing everybody else except possibly HTC, which is still rising, and Motorola (which has Google to look after it)."
Mojo66 writes "A recently reported flaw that allowed an attacker to drastically reduce the number of attempts needed to guess the WPS PIN of a wireless router isn't necessary for some Arcadyan based routers anymore. According to German computer publisher Heise, some 100,000 routers of type Speedport W921V, W504V and W723V are affected in Germany alone. (Google translation, original here.) What makes things worse is the fact that in order to exploit the backdoor, no button has to be pushed on the device itself and on some of the affected routers, the backdoor PIN ("12345670") is still working even after WPS has been disabled by the user. The only currently known remedy for those models is to disable Wi-Fi altogether. Since all Arcadyan routers share the same software platform, more models might be affected."
Mark.JUK writes "A major multinational ten month long trial of new 'White Space' technology (IEEE 802.22) in the United Kingdom, which uses the spare radio spectrum that exists between Digital Terrestrial TV (DTV) channels to deliver wireless internet access services over a wide area, has officially completed today and been deemed 'successful.' The technology, if approved, could one day help to bring faster broadband services to both isolated rural and urban areas. The TV White Spaces Consortium, which comprises 17 international and UK technology and media companies (BT, Microsoft, BBC, Alcatel-Lucent etc.), has now recommended that the UK regulator, Ofcom, complete its development of the 'enabling regulatory framework' (i.e. Draft Statutory Instrument) in a 'manner that protects licensees' from 'harmful' interference and encourages innovation and deployment."
Google85 writes "Beginning April 23rd, Intel, through Lava International, began selling the Xolo X900 smartphone in India for $420, Anandtech has just published a review of the smartphone which runs Android on x86 and uses binary translation as the mitigation for both libraries and NDK applications that haven't yet been ported to x86."