the_newsbeagle writes "Douglas Adams's fictional Babel fish, which lived in the brain and could translate any language in the universe, was so incredibly useful that it simultaneously proved and disproved the existence of God. This real-time translation app for mobile phones, offered by the Japanese telecom company NTT DoCoMo, isn't going to freak out theologians any time soon. The company admits it has lots of work to do to improve translation accuracy, and it can currently only translate between Japanese and three languages: English, Korean, and Mandarin. But by allowing phone calls to pierce the language barrier, we just might have taken a step toward the universe that Adams envisioned: one where open communication between people of different cultures leads to an onslaught of terrible bloody warfare."
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SternisheFan writes "Google has expanded its legal agreement with developers working on Android applications to specifically prohibit them from taking any action that could lead to a fragmentation of the operating system. The prohibition was added to the terms and conditions for Google's Android SDK (software development kit), which developers must accept before using the software to build Android apps. The previous version of the terms of service, published in April 2009, didn't address the issue, but the new terms published on Tuesday include this new paragraph: 'You agree that you will not take any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android, including but not limited to distributing, participating in the creation of, or promoting in any way a software development kit derived from the SDK.' Google did not respond to several requests for comment. The issue of Android fragmentation has been gaining increased attention, but it's happened largely as a result of actions taken by Google and Android handset makers, not developers. It's a problem because it means that Android applications may not run properly across all Android devices. 'It continues to be a problem, both on smartphones and tablets,' said Avi Greengart, research director at Consumer Devices. 'Google has talked about multiple initiatives for dealing with it, but none of them have successfully addressed it.'"
pev writes "After losing another laptop containing personal information, NASA wants to have all of its laptops encrypted within a month's time with an intermediate ban on laptops containing sensitive information leaving its facilities. Between April 2009 and April 2011 it lost or had stolen 48 'mobile computing devices.' I wonder how long it will be before other large organizations start following suit as a sensible precaution?"
jfruh writes "Nationwide pizza chain Papa John's is finding itself on the receiving end of a $250 million text spam lawsuit. From the article: 'Seattle law firm Heyrich Kalish McGuigan, representing three Papa John's customers, alleged that the pizza delivery service has sent 500,000 unwanted text messages to customers. If the court finds that Papa John's violated the U.S. Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the pizza maker could have to pay damages of $500 per text message, or US$250 million, one of the largest damage awards under the 1991 law, the law firm said. "Many customers complained to Papa John's that they wanted the text messages to stop, and yet thousands of spam text messages were sent week after week," Donald Heyrich, attorney for the plaintiffs said in a statement. "This should be a wake-up call to advertisers. Consumers do not want spam on their cell phones."'
MrSeb writes "Engineers at NC State University (NCSU) have discovered a way of boosting the throughput of busy WiFi networks by up to 700%. Perhaps most importantly, the breakthrough is purely software-based, meaning it could be rolled out to existing WiFi networks relatively easily — instantly improving the throughput and latency of the network. As wireless networking becomes ever more prevalent, you may have noticed that your home network is much faster than the WiFi network at the airport or a busy conference center. The primary reason for this is that a WiFi access point, along with every device connected to it, operates on the same wireless channel. This single-channel problem is also compounded by the fact that it isn't just one-way; the access point also needs to send data back to every connected device. To solve this problem, NC State University has devised a scheme called WiFox. In essence, WiFox is some software that runs on a WiFi access point (i.e. it's part of the firmware) and keeps track of the congestion level. If WiFox detects a backlog of data due to congestion, it kicks in and enables high-priority mode. In this mode, the access point gains complete control of the wireless network channel, allowing it to clear its backlog of data. Then, with the backlog clear, the network returns to normal. We don't have the exact details of the WiFox scheme/protocol (it's being presented at the ACM CoNEXT conference in December), but apparently it increased the throughput of a 45-device WiFi network by 700%, and reduced latency by 30-40%."
An anonymous reader writes "The team behind CyanogenMod, one of the most popular community-driven, Android-based operating systems for phones and tablets, has announced that they're moving to Cyanogenmod.org after their .com domain was held ransom by a community member. He had been in control of the .com domain name for some time, but the team found out he was impersonating Cyanogen to make deals with community sites. When they removed his access to other parts of the CM infrastructure, he demanded $10,000 to relinquish control of the domain and threatened to change the DNS entries. When they refused to pay, he went through with it. The team is now disputing control of the domain with ICANN. They said, 'We will continue to be open about the what, when, how, but unfortunately, we may never know the "why" – though greed comes to mind. The team itself has not made a profit off of CM and that is not our goal. But to have one of our own betray the community like this is beyond our comprehension.'"
DavidGilbert99 writes "With a £400 transmitter, a laptop and a little knowledge you could bring down an entire city's high-speed 4G network. This information comes from research carried out in the U.S. into the possibility of using LTE networks as the basis for a next-generation emergency response communications system. Jeff Reed, director of the wireless research group at Virginia Tech, along with research assistant Marc Lichtman, described the vulnerabilities to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which advises the White House on telecom and information policy. 'If LTE technology is to be used for the air interface of the public safety network, then we should consider the types of jamming attacks that could occur five or ten years from now (PDF). It is very possible for radio jamming to accompany a terrorist attack, for the purpose of preventing communications and increasing destruction,' Reed said."
another random user writes with news about Nokia's Meego/Winphone mapping application being ported to other systems, including Mozilla's Firefox OS. From the article: "Here Maps will initially be released on Apple iOS devices offering downloadable street plans for offline use, and audio-based directions for pedestrians. Nokia is also developing a version for Mozilla's forthcoming Firefox operating system, and will release software tools to allow third parties to make use of its data on Android devices. The move is designed to help the firm compete against Google's rival product."
An anonymous reader writes "On the opening day of a patent trial between Microsoft and Google-owned Motorola Mobility, Motorola filed a brief (PDF) arguing that the WiFi tech central to the case is also critical to Microsoft's new Surface tablet. Motorola says royalties totaling 2.25% of all Surface revenues is a good starting point. They wrote, 'Microsoft's new Surface tablet will use only 802.11, instead of cellular or wired connections, to connect to the internet. Without 802.11 capability, the Surface tablet would be unable to compete in the market, because consumers can readily select tablet devices other than the Surface that have 802.11 capability.' Microsoft, of course, says this figure is outrageous, given 'Motorola's promise to standards bodies to offer access to the "standard essential" patents on fair and reasonable terms.'"
holy_calamity writes "France now has a dedicated cellular data network just for Internet-of-Things devices, and the company that built it is rolling out the technology elsewhere, says MIT Technology Review. SigFox's network is slower than a conventional cellular data network, but built using technology able to make much longer range links and operate on unlicensed spectrum. Those features are intended to allow the service to be cheap enough for low cost sensors on energy infrastructure and many other places to make sense, something not possible on a network shared with smartphones and other consumer devices."
EthanV2 writes "The Wall Street Journal cites a report which quotes a 'person familiar with negotiations between the two tech giants,' apparently confirming this special price hike for Apple. The source said: 'Samsung Electronics recently asked Apple for a significant price raise in (the mobile processor known as) application processor. Apple first disapproved it, but finding no replacement supplier, it accepted the [increase].'"
SternisheFan sends this quote from Ars: "It likely won’t be as sleek or fast as a Nexus 7 or Nexus 10, but a new tablet running both Android and Linux is in the works for open source enthusiasts and lovers of low-budget devices. PengPod tablets, made by a company called Peacock Imports, will dual-boot Android 4.0 and a version of Linux with the KDE Plasma Active interface for touch screens. But in order to reserve a tablet for yourself, you'll have to contribute to the company's crowdfunding project on Indiegogo and hope enough money is raised to begin production. 'Our goal is to build a powerful, True Linux Tablet, one free of Google and Android's restrictions, at a reasonable price,' the PengPod IndieGogo page says. 'If you're a Linux fanatic you probably ended up getting an Android phone. Hey, it's Linux right? It'll be open, run all the programs I'm familiar with and let me hack around and have some fun right? Too often, this is not so. That is why we set out to find a way to run real Linux and all the software you really want.'"
An anonymous reader points out a report at the Guardian of a potential problem for early adopters of the Microsoft Surface tablet. The Touch Cover is one of the available protective covers for the device; it acts as a keyboard, and has both a gyroscope and an accelerometer on board. Unfortunately, some users have found that the edges of the Touch Cover have split open after only a few days of use. "The defect is identical in each case: the cover ... begins to split at its seam where the device attaches magnetically to the main computer. [One developer] was told to return his Touch Cover to Microsoft for a replacement, and Microsoft has been swapping faulty covers for users where it has retail stores. It's unclear whether the problems that people have encountered are due to a faulty batch or are a subtle problem that will become more apparent as more people use it for longer — but the fact that users in the US and the UK have reported the problem suggests that it is not isolated to a single manufacturing batch."
MojoKid writes "Nike+ FuelBand is a $149 wristband with LED display that tracks your daily activity, tells you how many calories you've burned, lets you know how much fuel you have left in the tank, and basically keeps track of 'every move you make.' If you think that sounds like a privacy nightmare waiting to happen, it pretty much is. A source directly connected to Nike reported an amusing, albeit startling anecdote about a guy who got caught cheating on his girlfriend because of the Nike+ FuelBand. 'They shared their activity between each other and she noticed he was active at 1-2AM, when he was supposed to be home.' That's just one scenario. What if the wristband gets lost or stolen? How much data is actually stored on these sorts of devices? And remember, you're syncing it to the cloud with an iOS or Android app."
An anonymous reader writes "I'm sure most Slashdot readers have had occasion to suffer through a hardware manufacturer's terrible website in search of product documentation. It's often hidden away in submenus of submenus, and if your product is more than a couple years old, you probably have to wade through broken links. One guy has been helping to change that; he runs a site called Tim's Laptop Service Manuals, where he collects by hand materials from many different companies and hosts them together in one spot. Now Toshiba has become aware of his project, and helpfully forced him to remove all of their manuals under a copyright claim."