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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Displays

Steve Jobs Was Wrong About Touchscreen Laptops 526

Posted by timothy
from the too-soon? dept.
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?'"
Handhelds

Ask Slashdot: Tablets For Papers; Are We There Yet? 180

Posted by timothy
from the getting-closer-at-least dept.
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?"
Cellphones

Happy (Early) Bday! :) SMS Txt Msgs Turn 20 54

Posted by timothy
from the compression-of-need dept.
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."
Crime

FBI Dad's Misadventures With Spyware Exposed School Principal's Child Porn 346

Posted by Soulskill
from the lesson-learned-always-spy-on-your-kids dept.
nonprofiteer writes "This is a crazy story. An FBI agent put spyware on his kid's school-issued laptop in order to monitor his Internet use. Before returning the laptop to the school, he tried to wipe the program (SpectorSoft's eBlaster) by having FBI agents scrub the computer and by taking it to a computer repair shop to be re-imaged. It somehow survived and began sending him reports a week later about child porn searches. He winds up busting the school principal for child porn despite never getting a warrant, subpoena, etc. The case was a gift-wrapped present, thanks to spyware. A judge says the principal has no 4th Amendment protection because 1. FBI dad originally installed spyware as a private citizen not an officer and 2. he had no reasonable expectation of privacy on a computer he didn't own/obtained by fraud."
Microsoft

Why Microsoft's Surface Pro Could Fail 442

Posted by Soulskill
from the zombie-apocalypse-could-do-it dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft's Surface Pro boasts one feature that could rapidly become an Achilles Heel, especially if Microsoft intends for the device to compete against Apple's iPad and a host of lightweight Google Android touch-screens. In a Nov. 29 Tweet to a customer, the official Surface Twitter feed claimed: 'We expect it [Surface Pro] to have approx. half the battery life of Surface with Windows RT.' That means Surface Pro will have roughly four hours of battery life. That's roughly half the battery life (if not less) of Apple's various iPads, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Research In Motion's PlayBook, Hewlett-Packard's now-cancelled TouchPad, and Motorola's all-but-forgotten Xoom. In other words, pretty much every tablet currently on the market. Nor can the Surface Pro compete with other tablets on price. The 64GB version of the device will retail for $899, with the 128GB version coming in a little higher at $999."
Cellphones

Flexible Phones 'Out By 2013' 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-if-they-can-only-make-phones-into-snap-bracelets dept.
dryriver sends this quote from a BBC report: "Imagine treating your phone like a piece of paper. Roll it up. Drop it. Squish it in your backpack. Step on it — without any damage. Researchers are working on just such handsets — razor-thin, paper-like and bendable. There have already been prototypes, attracting crowds at gadget shows. But rumors abound that next year will see the launch of the first bendy phone. Numerous companies are working on the technology — LG, Philips, Sharp, Sony and Nokia among them — although reports suggest that South Korean phone manufacturer Samsung will be the first to deliver. Samsung favors smartphones with so-called flexible OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology, and is confident that they will be 'very popular among consumers worldwide.' Their screens will be 'foldable, rollable, wearable and more, [and] will allow for a high degree of durability through their use of a plastic substrate that is thinner, lighter and more flexible than conventional LCD technology,' says a Samsung spokesperson.'"
Linux Business

Dell's Ubuntu Ultrabook Now On Sale; Costs $50 More Than Windows Version 403

Posted by timothy
from the all-prices-are-experiments dept.
nk497 writes "Dell's 'Project Sputnik' laptop is now on sale. The XPS 13 Developer Edition comes with Ubuntu 12.04 pre-installed, and costs $1,549 — $50 more than the same model running Windows. The Ubuntu Ultrabook is the result of a skunkworks project to optimise the open-source OS to run on Dell projects, to create better laptops for developers. The idea of the project was to create a laptop for developers, based around 'the idea that developers are the kings of IT and set the agenda for web companies, who in turn, set the agenda for the whole industry,' Dell said." Reader skade88 points out a positive review from Ars Technica.
Android

PressureNET 2.1 Released: the Distributed Barometer Network For Android 82

Posted by timothy
from the cue-up-the-maytals dept.
cryptoz writes "Cumulonimbus has released a new version of their open source, global barometer network. The network is built around an Android app called pressureNET which uses barometric sensors in new phones (such as the Nexus 4, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S3, Note, and others) in order to build the comprehensive network. They plan to use the data to improve short-term weather prediction, and the gives a teaser of the new data visualization tool they are building."
Cellphones

The Coming Wave of In-Dash Auto System Obsolescence 445

Posted by timothy
from the new-din-standard-called-for dept.
jfruh writes "Automakers are striving mightily to bring their in-dash systems into the modern age, providing integration with smartphones and other advanced features. The problem: while smartphones go in and out of vogue every few years, modern cars have lifespans of a decade or more. Add in the fact that many (though not all) manufacturers have no plans to allow software upgrades to their systems, and you might end up driving a car with a fancy in-dash computer system that's completely useless for much of the time you own it."
Education

Virus Eats School District's Homework 321

Posted by samzenpus
from the will-this-be-on-the-test? dept.
theodp writes "Forget about 'snow days' — the kids in the Lake Washington School District could probably use a few 'virus days.' Laptops issued to each student in grades 6-12 were supposed to accelerate learning ('Schools that piloted the laptops found that students stayed engaged nad [sic] organized whiel [sic] boosting creativity,' according to the district's Success Stories), but GeekWire reports that a computer virus caused havoc for the district as it worked its way through the Windows 7 computers, disrupting class and costing the district money — five temporary IT staff members were hired to help contain the virus. Among the reasons cited for the school district's choice of PCs over Macs were the proximity to Microsoft HQ (Redmond is in the district), Microsoft's involvement in supporting local and national education, and last but not least, cost. In the past, the Lake Washington School District served as a Poster Child of sorts for Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group."
Patents

Nokia Asks Court To Block RIM Products For Violating Patent Agreement 52

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the elop's-last-stand dept.
itwbennett writes "The ITworld article reads: 'Nokia has asked a California court to enforce an arbitration award that would prevent Research In Motion from selling products with wireless LAN capabilities until the companies can agree on patent royalty rates. Nokia and RIM both declined to comment on Nokia's request, a copy of which was obtained by IDG News Service, but such a filing is typically made after two parties settle a dispute through arbitration but one party does not follow through on the agreement.'" Also from the article: "The patents in question are U.S. patents 5,479,476, which covers user-adjustable modes for phones; 5,845,219, which covers call alert during silent mode; 6,049,796, which covers real-time search on a personal digital assistant; 6,055,439, which covers a cellphone user interface; 6,253,075, which covers call rejection; and 6,427,078, which covers a small, handheld workstation."
Cellphones

Dual Interface Mobile Devices To Address BYOD Issue 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the dr.-jekyll-and-mr.-angry-birds dept.
Lucas123 writes "Next year, smart phones will begin shipping with the ability to have dual identities: one for private use and the other for corporate. Hypervisor developers, such as VMware and Red Bend, are working with system manufacturers to embed their virtualization software in the phones, while IC makers, such as Intel, are developing more powerful and secure mobile device processors. The combination will enable mobile platforms that afford end users their own user interface, secure from IT's prying eyes, while in turn allowing a company to secure its data using mobile device management software. One of the biggest benefits dual-identity phones will offer is enabling admins to wipe corporate data from phones without erasing end users profiles and personal information."
Handhelds

Slashdot Mobile: Now For Tablets As Well As Phones 123

Posted by timothy
from the ensmallening dept.
Gaurav Kuchhal (Head of Product, Slashdot) writes "Slashdot Mobile has finally made it out of the gates for tablets as well as phones. The Mobile site for phones launched some weeks back, but now you can take advantage of the changes we've made to read Slashdot easier to read through touch-screen devices on tablets as well as phones. That includes features we've folded in to the mobile version from the desktop-browser view of the site, so you can scan user profiles, sip from the Firehose, and keep up with notifications. See this blog post for more details, and keep the feedback coming. If you see a problem, please tell us about it!"
Canada

The Wii Mini Is Real, Arrives December 7 — In Canada 139

Posted by timothy
from the tora-tora-tora dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Yesterday there was a rumor doing the rounds that Nintendo was set to release a brand new version of the Wii console called the Wii Mini. The new machine would be significantly smaller than the current Wii, is expected to ship with a Wii Remote Plus, Nunchuk, and Sensor Bar, and hopefully carries a much lower (sub-$100) price. Well, it looks as though this wasn't just a rumor. Best Buy Canada has it listed with an image on its front page and a December 7 release date." Also at PC Mag.
Cellphones

NYC Police Gathering Cellphone Logs 122

Posted by timothy
from the for-a-nice-toasty-fire dept.
Dupple writes "When a cellphone is reported stolen in New York, the Police Department routinely subpoenas the phone's call records, from the day of the theft onward. The logic is simple: If a thief uses the phone, a list of incoming and outgoing calls could lead to the suspect. But in the process, the Police Department has quietly amassed a trove of telephone logs, all obtained without a court order, that could conceivably be used for any investigative purpose. The call records from the stolen cellphones are integrated into a database known as the Enterprise Case Management System, according to Police Department documents from the detective bureau. Each phone number is hyperlinked, enabling detectives to cross-reference it against phone numbers in other files."

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