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Hardware

WiFi-Connected Hard Drive Fits a Plex Server In Your Pocket (engadget.com) 67

An anonymous reader cites an Engadget report:Over the years we've seen Plex's media software run across a number of different devices, from PCs to game consoles to NAS and cellphones. Now, it's teamed up with Western Digital for what it says is the first portable Plex Media Server. The hardware is handled by the My Passport Wireless Pro, a battery-powered portable hard drive that can run standalone for 10 hours, charge mobile devices, and back up data via SD or USB 3.0. The all-in-one box can even create a WiFi network to sync with mobile devices or stream media to any device running Plex. The 2TB version is ready to take your stuff on the go for $230, and upgrading to 3TB only costs an extra $20.
Cellphones

Alicia Keys Latest Artist To Enforce No Cell Phone Policy at Concerts (slashgear.com) 477

Shane McGlaun, reporting for SlashGear:It appears that artists of all sorts are getting very serious about keeping fans from using smartphones while they are at their concerts or events. The latest musician to ban cell phones at her events is Alicia Keys. Fans aren't forced to give up their smartphones at the door to be locked up in some locker or box until the show is over. Rather, fans are handed a special pouch that is locked up with their smartphone inside the fan keeps that pouch with them during the event, but they can't get to the device to call, take photos, or shoot video. If they need to use their device during the show the users can go back to the door and a worker passes a disc about the size of a bagel over the bag to unlock it and the fan can step outside to use their smartphone.
Iphone

Feds Ask Supreme Court To Void Apple's $400 Million Award From Samsung (siliconbeat.com) 63

An anonymous reader quotes the San Jose Mercury News technology blog: "The $400 million awarded to Apple in a patent-infringement case against Samsung is a moving target... On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a "friend of the court" brief to the Supreme Court, asking justices to void the $400 million award and send the case back to a lower court to determine if a new trial is needed... Samsung has argued that it should be liable only for profits attributable to a specific design that violated a patent, not an entire phone, and that the law should be interpreted to impose liability related to "components of the phones, rather than the phones themselves, according to the brief. The department came down on Samsung's side on the component argument, and blasted a federal circuit court ruling that had upheld the jury award.
Ironically, earlier this week Steve Wozniak was praising Samsung for its innovation, both in virtual reality headsets and with a Samsung camera that takes a picture whenever you say "smile".
Facebook

Facebook Says It's Not Secretly Recording You (fb.com) 148

An anonymous reader writes: In 2014 Facebook introduced a feature which can use your phone's microphone to identify songs you're listening to -- but "we don't record your conversations," they're reminding users. A mass communication professor at the University of South Florida tried discussing specific topics near her phone, then discovered Facebook appeared to be showing ads related to what she'd said. Though she wasn't convinced there was a link, the Independent newspaper reported that "The claim chimes with anecdotal reports online that the site appears to show ads for things that people have mentioned in passing."

An official statement Thursday reiterated that "Facebook does not use your phone's microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed." But another news site sees these concerns as a reminder of all the permissions users routinely grant to their apps. "Go into your phone's application settings and you'll see a whole list of what an app like Facebook has access to: your camera, your location, your contacts, and, yes, your microphone too. How about this for a warning? By downloading Facebook you give the app 'permission to record audio at any time without your confirmation.' Tom's Guide security editor Paul Wagenseil says Facebook can...listen to your conversations...but it would be illegal to do so."

Meanwhile, the FBI "can neither confirm nor deny" that it's ever tapped an Amazon Echo device.
Medicine

Seattle App Summons Help When You Need CPR (geekwire.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes:Sudden cardiac arrest is usually fatal. But Seattle's Fire Department has joined with the city's Medic One Foundation to develop an app which alerts emergency dispatchers and also CPR-trained bystanders when someone needs CPR. The PulsePoint app also shows the location of the nearest defibrillator, and Seattle's mayor says he hopes it will save lives. A Spokane version of the app is already credited with helping to save the life of an infant, and the Medic One Foundation hopes to work with more local fire department to bring the app to the rest of Washington State.
Advertising

Password App Developer Overlooks Security Hole to Preserve Ads (engadget.com) 96

An anonymous reader quotes this report from Engadget: Think it's bad when companies take their time fixing security vulnerabilities? Imagine what happens when they avoid fixing those holes in the name of a little cash. KeePass 2 developer Dominik Reichl has declined to patch a flaw in the password manager's update check as the 'indirect costs' of the upgrade (which would encrypt web traffic) are too high -- namely, it'd lose ad revenue...

To his credit, Reichl notes that he'd like to move to encryption as soon as he believes it's possible. You can also verify that you're getting a signed download, if you're worried. However, it's still contradictory to develop a security-centric app and decide that security should take a back seat.

An update on the site says the software's version information file is now digitally signed, adding that KeePass "neither downloads nor installs any new version automatically. Users have to do this manually... users should check whether the file is digitally signed... HTTPS cannot prevent a compromise of the download server; checking the digital signature does."
Encryption

RSA Keys Can Be Harvested With Microphones (theregister.co.uk) 157

Researchers have now demonstrated that even with modern laptop, desktop, and server computers, an inexpensive attack can harvest 4,096-bit encryption keys using a parabolic microphone within 33 feet -- or even from 12 inches away, using a cellphone microphone. An anonymous reader quotes this article from The Register: In both cases it took an hour of listening to get the 4,096-bit RSA key... As a computer's processor churns through the encryption calculations, the machine emits a high-frequency "coil whine" from the changing electrical current flowing through its components... The team recommends encryption software writers build in "blinding" routines that insert dummy calculations into cryptographic operations. After discussions with the team, GNU Privacy Guard now does this.
Cellphones

Doubts Raised About Cellphone Cancer Study (vox.com) 100

Vox is strongly criticizing coverage of a supposed link between cellphones and cancer suggested by a new study, calling it "a breathtaking example of irresponsible science hype." An anonymous reader writes: A professor and research monitoring administrator at an American medical school reported that to get their results, the researchers "exposed pregnant rats to whole body CDMA- and GSM-modulated radiofrequency radiation, for 9 hours a day, 7 days a week," and the results were seen only with CDMA (but not GSM-modulated) radiofrequency. "[F]alse positives are very likely. The cancer difference was only seen in females, not males. The incidence of brain cancer in the exposed groups was well within the historical range. There's no clear dose response..."
An emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University in Britain also called the study "statistically underpowered..." according to Vox. "Not enough animals were used to allow the researchers to have a good chance of detecting a risk from radiofrequency radiation of the size one might plausibly expect."
Cellphones

Possible Cellphone Link To Cancer Found In Rat Study (nbcnews.com) 113

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: A giant U.S. study meant to help decide whether cellphones cause cancer is coming back with confusing results. A report on the study, conducted in rats and mice, is not finished yet. But advocates pushing for more research got wind of the partial findings and the U.S. National Toxicology Program has released them early. They suggest that male rats exposed to constant, heavy doses of certain types of cellphone radiation develop brain and heart tumors. But female rats didn't, and even the rats that developed tumors lived longer than rats not exposed to the radiation. The National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, is still analyzing the findings. But John Bucher, associate director of the program, said the initial findings were so significant that the agency decided to release them. A 29-year-old study published earlier this month from Australia reassures us that cellphones are reasonably safe, and do not cause cancer.
Power

US Bans Electronic Cigarettes From Checked Baggage Over Fire Risks (foxnews.com) 131

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this month, the FDA announced it would regulate electronic cigarettes and other new tobacco products. Now, the U.S. Transportation Department announced it is permanently banning passengers and crew members from carrying electronic cigarettes in checked baggage or charging the devices onboard aircraft. They have cited a number of recent incidents that show the devices can catch fire during flight. Passengers can still carry e-cigarettes in their carry-on baggage or on their person, they just can't use the devices on flights. "Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent and important safety measure." The new rule covers e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes, and battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices in general. It does not prohibit passengers from transporting other battery-powered devices for personal use like laptop computers or cellphones.
Communications

Campaign Demands Telecoms Unlock the FM Radio Found in Many Smartphones (www.cbc.ca) 340

An anonymous reader cites an article on CBC: Your smartphone may include an FM radio chip but, chances are, it doesn't work. Now, an online campaign has launched in Canada, putting pressure on telecoms and manufacturers to turn on the radio hidden in many cellphones. Titled, "free radio on my phone," the campaign says that most Android smartphones have a built-in FM receiver which doesn't require data or Wi-Fi to operate. The U.S. arm of the campaign believes iPhones also have a built-in radio chip but that it can't be activated. Apple wouldn't confirm this detail. The radio chip in many Android phones also lies dormant. But the campaign says it can easily be activated -- if telecom providers ask the manufacturers to do it. In Canada, however, most of the telecoms haven't made the move to get the radio turned on. They'd prefer that you stream your audio, depleting your phone's costly data plan, claims campaign organizer, Barry Rooke.
Australia

Cellphones Do Not Cause Brain Cancer, Says 29-Year Study (gizmodo.com) 234

A study from Australia reassures us that cellphones are reasonably safe, and do not cause brain cancer. Chris Mills writes from Gizmodo: "The study examines the incidence of brain cancer in the Australian population between 1982 to 2013. The study pitted the prevalence of mobile phones among the population -- starting at 0 percent -- against brain cancer rates, using data from national cancer registration data. The results showed a very slight increase in brain cancer rates among males, but a stable level among females. There were significant increases in over -70s, but began in 1982, before cellphones were even a thing." What makes the study in Australia so authentic compared to other studies conducted in other countries is the fact that all diagnosed cases of cancer have to be registered by law.
Iphone

Slashdot Asks: What Do You Think Is The Most Influential Gadget Of All Time? (macrumors.com) 397

TIME has published a list ranking the 50 most influential gadgets of all time, from cameras and TVs to music players, smartphones, and drones. Can you guess what was the number one most influential gadget on the list? That's right, the Apple iPhone. "Apple was the first company to put a truly powerful computer in the pockets of millions when it launched the iPhone in 2007," according to TIME. "The iPhone popularized the mobile app, forever changing how we communicate, play games, shop, work, and complete many everyday tasks."

There's a lot of interesting gadgets on the list that have had a profound impact on mankind in some form or another, for better or worse. Do you agree with TIME's number one choice? What do you think is the most influential gadget of all time?
It's funny.  Laugh.

Phone-Friendly Movie Theaters For Millennials Could Be Reality Soon (variety.com) 321

An anonymous reader writes: AMC Entertainment realizes Millennials' increasingly growing love for and reliance on smartphones for things, which is why it says it is open to the idea of phone-friendly movie theaters. "When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don't ruin the movie, they hear 'please cut off your left arm above the elbow,'" Adam Aron, AMC Entertainment CEO tells Variety. "You can't tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That's not how they live their life." Aron believes that AMC needs "to reshape our product in some concrete ways so that millennials go to movie theaters with the same degree of intensity as baby boomers went to movie theaters throughout their lives." AMC also realizes that if it allows people to use cellphones in theater, and text and talk to their friends, this might disturb the fellow citizen who just want to watch the god-damn movie in peace. He says the company is "going to have to figure out a way to do it that doesn't disturb today's audiences. [...] That's one possibility. What may be more likely is we take specific auditoriums and make them more texting-friendly."
Businesses

Company Creates Gun That Looks Like a Cellphone (nbcnews.com) 678

Earthquake Retrofit writes: Sometimes you want to carry your gun in peace, but people keep drawing attention to your piece. This very issue plagued Kirk Kjellberg, the creator of Ideal Conceal, a [.380-caliber pistol] that folds up to look like a smartphone. "A boy spotted me in [a] restaurant and said loudly, 'Mommy, Mommy, that guy's got a gun!' And then pretty much the whole restaurant stared at me," Kjellberg told NBC News. He developed Ideal Conceal to avoid those awkward situations. According to NBC News, "In locked position, the two-shot plastic gun with a metal core can be discreetly slipped into pockets, like a real phone. But 'with one click of the safety it opens and is ready to fire,' Ideal Conceal claims. The Department of Homeland Security has contacted him about the pistol, and he plans on giving them x-rays of it so law enforcement can distinguish it from cellphones during airport screenings. An Ideal Conceal prototype is slated for June, with sales beginning in October. The gun is listed for $395."
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Deal With Glare On Cellphones? 135

An anonymous reader writes: As far as I know, I am not particularly sensitive to glare; I've used CRTs in offices full of overhead fluorescent lights, and just ignored the terrible reflections, and I've worked in places where the natural sunlight cleverly funneled in by architects was bounced around by glass walls and mirrors in just the right way to irritate. Still, I never found it much of a problem. Now, though, I work in a field that has me both working outdoors a lot, and traveling by car a fair amount, too. Now that days are getting longer, especially up here in the Pacific Northwest, I know that I'll be squinting and cursing a lot at my phone. My question(s): Are there are any modern smart phones you can recommend with a truly or even passably day-light readable screen? I don't care if it's e-ink (that would be cool), transflective (long promised!) or maybe just a secondary screen with some daylight-readable technology. Barring that, how do you deal with glare on a phone, when you need to use it on a sunny day? Same answer could apply to laptop use, I suppose. Do you build a little glare shield, of the kind that camera operators use? Wear a giant hood of privacy and darkness? I know I'm not alone — I see lots of others squinting and cursing at their cell phones, cupping it with their hands at their eyes, or ducking into scant shade just to see whether the call that's coming is one they need to take, or to read a text. I've tried quite a few phones that have been praised by reviewers for their bright, crisp, daylight-friendly displays, but I think those reviewers probably lived in New York or San Francisco, and were reading in either shadow or fog, because even the brightest Samsungs, Motorolas, and LGs I've seen cannot hold a candle to the summer sun north of Seattle.
Democrats

NJ Legislator Proposes Fine For Walking While Phone-Distracted (philly.com) 194

schwit1 writes: A bill proposed this week by Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (D., Camden) would impose a fine of up to $50 and possibly 15 days in jail for pedestrians caught using their cellphones without hands-free devices while walking on public sidewalks and along roadways. If the bill becomes law, 'petextrians' — people who text while walking — would face the same penalties as jaywalkers in New Jersey. From the article: Researchers say distracted walkers are more likely to ignore traffic lights or fail to look both ways before crossing the street. ... Lampitt said she wants that message to hit home in New Jersey for pedestrians and motorists who could easily be distracted while looking at mobile devices. Her bill, however, faces an uncertain future in the Legislature. It has not been posted for a vote and Lampitt acknowledged she might have a tough time getting it passed." Distracted pedestrians surely pose some risks, but they don't budge the needle compared to overbearing officialdom.
PlayStation (Games)

Sony Is Bringing PlayStation Games To iOS and Android Devices (gizmodo.com) 48

An anonymous reader points us to Bryan Lufkin's report on Gizmodo: A year ago, Nintendo announced its long-overdue plans to bring its games to smartphones. Now, Sony's doing the same thing. You'll soon be able to play original Sony games on your iOS or Android device, the company announced today. Sony is setting up a new business division called ForwardWorks, which will focus on mobile services, bringing 'full-fledged game titles' and Sony's PlayStation characters and intellectual property to handheld smart devices. And it could be happening pretty soon -- the press release says ForwardWorks kicks off operations next month.
Communications

Paris Terrorists Used Burner Phones, Not Encryption, To Evade Detection (arstechnica.com) 161

An anonymous reader writes from an article on Ars Technica: New details of the Paris attacks carried out last November reveal that it was the consistent use of prepaid burner phones, not encryption, that helped keep the terrorists off the radar of the intelligence services. As an article in The New York Times reports: "the three teams in Paris were comparatively disciplined. They used only new phones that they would then discard, including several activated minutes before the attacks, or phones seized from their victims." The article goes on to give more details of how some phones were used only very briefly in the hours leading up to the attacks. "Everywhere they went, the attackers left behind their throwaway phones, including in Bobigny, at a villa rented in the name of Ibrahim Abdeslam. When the brigade charged with sweeping the location arrived, it found two unused cellphones still inside their boxes." At another location used by one of the terrorists, the police found dozens of unused burner phones "still in their wrappers." As The New York Times says, one of the most striking aspects of the phones is that not a single e-mail or online chat message from the attackers was found on them. But rather than trying to avoid discovery by using encryption -- which would in itself have drawn attention to their accounts -- they seem to have stopped using the internet as a communication channel altogether, and turned to standard cellular network calls on burner phones.
Iphone

Apple Unveils Smaller iPhone SE, Starting At $399 (techcrunch.com) 158

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has officially unveiled a smaller, cheaper iPhone designed to make a splash in the budget-friendly smartphone market. The new device, called the iPhone SE, looks nearly identical to the iPhone 5S but with a new rose gold color configuration. It's the internal specifications that differ significantly. The new iPhone SE will feature a NFC chip for Apple Pay, A9 processor and M9 motion co-processor, 12-megapixel camera sensor with the ability to capture 4K video, and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Unfortunately, it does not feature Apple's new 3D touch functionality. The iPhone SE will come in two models, 16GB and 64GB, priced at $399 and $499 respectively. You can buy the new iPhone starting March 31, and it will make its way to 100 countries by May.

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