Hugh Pickens writes "AFP reports that Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski is calling for an easing of the ban on using mobile phones and other electronic devices on airplanes during takeoff and landing, saying devices such as smartphones 'empower people' and can boost economic productivity. 'I write to urge the FAA to enable greater use of tablets, e-readers and other portable electronic devices during flight, consistent with public safety,' the FCC chief said in the letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. The ban is in place based on the assumption that devices could interfere with an airplane's navigation equipment. But a number of news stories have questioned the validity of this claim, and many point out that some people forget to turn off their devices during flights. The FCC studied the question several years ago but found insufficient evidence to support lifting the ban at the time. But not everyone has been forced to put their gadgets away. Earlier this year the FAA approved iPads instead of paper flight manuals in the cockpit for pilots, but the agency still refuses to allow passengers to read on Kindles and iPads during takeoff and landing."
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jcreus writes "After struggling for some years with Nvidia cards (the laptop from which I am writing this has two graphic cards, an Intel one and Nvidia one, and is a holy mess [I still haven't been able to use the Nvidia card]) and, encouraged by Torvalds' middle finger speech, I've decided to ditch Nvidia for something better. I am expecting to buy another laptop and, this time, I'd like to get it right from the start. It would be interesting if it had decent graphics support and, in general, were Linux friendly. While I know Dell has released a Ubuntu laptop, it's way off-budget. My plan is to install Ubuntu, Kubuntu (or even Debian), with dual boot unfortunately required." So: what's the state of the art for out-of-the-box support?
An anonymous reader writes "Apple's most famous multitouch software patents are increasingly coming under invalidation pressure. First the rubber-banding patent and now a patent that Apple's own lawyers planned to introduce to a Chicago jury as 'the Jobs patent.' U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949 covers a method for distinguishing vertical and horizontal gestures from diagonal movements based on an initial angle of movement. For example, everything up to a slant of 27 degrees would be considered vertical or horizontal, and everything else diagonal. The patent office now seems to think that Apple didn't invent the concept of 'heuristics' after all."
New submitter kc67 sends this report from ABC: "Five years after the iPhone originally launched in 2007, T-Mobile will finally start carrying it. It might not be as buzz-worthy as when Verizon finally got the iPhone back in 2011, but it's going to be a pretty big deal for T-Mobile subscribers next year, when the carrier starts selling Apple products. ... T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere said while speaking at the Deutsche Telekom conference Thursday that it will carry the iPhone and will offer it in a different way. 'What was missing? A certain number of customers wouldn't come to the store if we didn't have the iPhone,' Legere said. 'We worked very, very hard for a deal that made sense for us.'"
MojoKid writes "The time we spend making calls on smartphones pales in comparison to the other activities we use it for, like surfing the web, logging into Facebook, streaming music and video, and of course playing games. It's that latter functionality that a startup called Green Throttle wants to tap into, and given the horsepower of today's smartphones, it makes a lot of sense. The company envisions harnessing the power of today's well-equipped Android smartphones and tablets in order to play console-like games on your HDTV. Right now the concept is limited to select devices — Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S II and S III, HTC One X, Kindle Fire HD, and Asus Transformer — though the company says it's adding to the list quickly. The system is fairly simple. You load Green Throttle's Arena app on your compatible device and start gaming using the company's Bluetooth-enabled Atlas controller, which looks a lot like an Xbox 360 controller, then push your phone's HDMI output to an HDTV."
moon_unit2 writes "We're all familiar with ads that seem to follow you around as you go from one website to another. A startup called Drawbridge has developed technology that could let those ads follow you even when you pick up a smartphone or tablet. The company, founded by an ex-Google scientist, employs statistical methods to try to match and identify users on different devices. The idea is that this will preserve privacy while making mobile ads more lucrative, although some experts aren't convinced that the data will be truly anonymous."
An anonymous reader writes with this quote from Tom's Hardware: "Due to Apple's anti-3rd-party browser stance, and Windows RT's IE-only advantage on the 'Desktop,' Android is the only mobile platform where browser competition is thriving. The results are pretty surprising, with the long-time mobile browsers like Dolphin, Maxthon, Sleipnir, and the stock Android browser coming out ahead of desktop favorites like Firefox, Opera, and even Chrome. Dolphin, thanks to its new Jetpack HTML5 engine, soars ahead of the competition."
jrepin points out a discussion with Richard Stallman in which he talks about how the Free Software movement is faring in light of companies that have been successful in the long term with very different principles, like Microsoft and Apple. Stallman had this to say: "I would say the free software movement has gone about half the distance it has to travel. We managed to make a mass community but we still have a long way to go to liberate computer users. Those companies are very powerful. They are cleverly finding new ways to take control over users. ... The most widely used non-free programs have malicious features – and I’m talking about specific, known malicious features. ... There are three kinds: those that spy on the user, those that restrict the user, and back doors. Windows has all three. Microsoft can install software changes without asking permission. Flash Player has malicious features, as do most mobile phones. Digital handcuffs are the most common malicious features. They restrict what you can do with the data in your own computer. Apple certainly has the digital handcuffs that are the tightest in history. The i-things, well, people found two spy features and Apple says it removed them and there might be more. When people don’t know about this issue they choose based on immediate convenience and nothing else. And therefore they can be herded into giving up their freedom by a combination of convenient features, pressure from institutions and the network effect."
zacharye writes "While some see potential in Microsoft's Surface tablet, most industry watchers appear to have written off the device at this point. Orders were reportedly cut in half following a slow launch, and Microsoft's debut slate has been hammered time and time again by reviewers and analysts. The latest to pile on is Boston-based brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton, which estimates that when all is said and done, Microsoft will have sold fewer than 1 million Surface tablets in the slate's debut quarter." Still better than 25,000.
snydeq writes "A growing trend faces business executives traveling to China: government or industry spooks stealing data from their laptops and installing spyware. 'While you were out to dinner that first night, someone entered your room (often a nominal hotel staffer), carefully examined the contents of your laptop, and installed spyware on the computer — without your having a clue. The result? Exposure of information, including customer data, product development documentation, countless emails, and other proprietary information of value to competitors and foreign governments. Perhaps even, thanks to the spyware, there's an ongoing infection in your corporate network that continually phones home key secrets for months or years afterward.'"
PolygamousRanchKid writes with news the Nokia is looking to generate some cash by selling its headquarters and leasing it back from the new owner. The sale price for the 48,000 sq. meter building is €170 million. "The struggling mobile phone company has operated in the glass and steel building in Espoo near Helsinki, known as Nokia House, since 1997. The sale is another step towards reducing costs and concentrating on its core business. Nokia has spent almost a third of its cash reserves in 12 months, and in October had about €3.6bn left in the bank to turn itself into a smartphone manufacturer capable of competing with Apple and Samsung."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google Android's dominance of the smartphone space has been reinforced by a new IDC study that places its market-share at 68.3 percent, well ahead of iOS at 18.8 percent. But which version of Android is most preferred by users? A new set of graphs on the Android Developers Website offers the answer to that question: 'Gingerbread,' or Android versions 2.3 through 2.3.7, dominates with 50.8 percent of the Android pie. 'Ice Cream Sandwich,' or versions 4.0.3 through 4.0.4, is second with 27.5 percent, with the latest 'Jelly Bean' build at 6.7 percent. As demonstrated by that graph on the Android Developers Website, there are a lot of devices running a lot of different versions of Android out there in the ecosystem, all with different capabilities. In turn, that could make it difficult for Google to deliver 'the latest and greatest' to any customer that wants it, and potentially irritates those customers who buy a smartphone (particularly a high-end one) expecting regular upgrades." Here's how Slashdot readers using Android break down: 31.0% Jelly Bean, 31.5% Ice Cream Sandwich, 0.7% Honeycomb, 22.8% Gingerbread, 4.3% Froyo, 1.1% Eclair, 0.05% Donut, 0.02% Cupcake, 8.5% unknown. Looks like you folks are ahead of the curve. iOS breaks down like this: 67% iOS 6, 28.6% iOS 5, 3.2% iOS 4, 0.5% iOS 3, 0.7% unknown. (These numbers include more than just phones, of course.) Overall, our iOS traffic (8.74%) is higher than our Android traffic (6.75%). Windows Phone and BlackBerry both clock in at about 0.2%.
theodp writes "Don't believe everything Steve Jobs and Tim Cook tell you, advises The Verge's Sean Hollister. Gunshy of touchscreen laptops after hearing the two Apple CEOs dismiss the technology (Jobs: 'Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical.' Cook: 'You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not gonna be pleasing to the user.'), Hollister was surprised to discover that Windows 8 touchscreen laptops actually don't suck and that the dreaded 'Gorilla Arm Syndrome' did not materialize. 'The more I've used Windows 8, despite its faults, the more I've become convinced that touchscreens are the future — even vertical ones,' writes Hollister. 'We've been looking at this all wrong. A touchscreen isn't a replacement for a keyboard or mouse, it's a complement.' Echoing a prediction from Coding Horror's Jeff Atwood that 'it is only a matter of time before all laptops must be touch laptops,' Hollister wouldn't be surprised at all if Apple eventually embraces-and-extends the tech: 'Microsoft might have validated the idea, but now Apple has another chance to swoop in, perfecting and popularizing the very interface that it strategically ridiculed just two years ago. It wouldn't be the first time. After all, how many iPad minis come with sandpaper for filing fingers down?'"
An anonymous reader writes "When I was younger, engineering and science offices didn't have computers yet. It was the tradition: Piled Higher and Deeper desks, and overloaded bookcases. I ended up doing other things, and haven't been in a regular office for a couple of decades. Now I'm older, spending a lot more time with the screen, and finding my aging butt and back aren't as pliable for the long hours of reading papers. And while looking at rather expensive chairs, etc for a solution, what I'm remembering is we used to be able to lean back, feet up, while reading the stapled print-outs — makes a change from hunched-over writing and typing. So I'm what wondering is this: Are We There Yet with tablets? You guys would know — What makes a good tablet for reading, sorting, annotating, and searching PDFs, etc? Hardware and software — what tablets have gotten this really right?"
CWmike writes "In the fast moving world of technology, there are perhaps few things that have proved as resistant to change as the simple SMS text message. While a dizzying number of options exist today to interconnect people, the text message remains a 160 character deliverer of news, gossip, laughs, alerts, and all manner of other information. It connects more people than Facebook and Twitter, has brought down governments, and in so much of the world still holds the ability to change lives. Dec. 3 is the 20th anniversary of the sending of the first SMS text message. Its origins can be traced back to a Danish pizzeria in 1984. Matti Makkonen, a Finnish engineer, was in Copenhagen for a mobile telecom conference and began discussing with two colleagues the idea of a messaging system on the GSM digital cellular system."