By BeauHD from Slashdot's cool-but-slightly-creepy department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Huawei officially announced the Huawei P30 Pro smartphone today. While it has a new Huawei-made SoC, an in-screen optical fingerprint reader, and lots of other high-end features, the highlight is definitely the camera's optical zoom, which is up to a whopping 5x. Not digital zoom. Real, optical zoom. Space, of course, is at a premium in smartphones. Imagine a smartphone sitting face down, and you would have to fit a vertical stack of the display, the CMOS sensor, and the lens all in about an 8mm height. There is just not a lot of room. But what if we didn't have to stack all the components vertically? The trick to Huawei's 5x optical zoom is that it uses a periscope design.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's full-steam-ahead department
Today at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence said the Trump administration is committed to sending humans back to the Moon by 2024, four years earlier than NASA's previous target of 2028. The Verge reports: Pence, speaking at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, noted that the administration will meet this goal "by any means necessary." He called on NASA to adopt new policies and argued that the space agency would need to embrace "a new mindset that begins with setting bold goals and staying on schedule." To do that, he said the administration may consider ditching some of NASA's current contractors -- which are currently developing new vehicles to take humans into deep space -- and using commercially developed rockets instead. "If commercial rockets are the only way to get American astronauts to the Moon in the next five years, then commercial rockets it will be," said Pence. "Urgency must be our watch word."
However, Pence offered few clear recommendations and changes that would help to accelerate NASA's return, apart from potentially switching rockets and contractors. "It was rhetoric about 'by all means possible' and 'we'll provide the resources necessary' and 'leadership is essential,'" John Logsdon, a space policy expert at George Washington University, tells The Verge. "I mean, they're all good words. But the devil's in the details."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's steady-as-she-goes department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Last month, Democrats introduced a simple three page bill that would do one thing: restore FCC net neutrality rules and the agency's authority over ISPs, both stripped away by a hugely-controversial decision by the agency in late 2017. Tuesday morning, the Save the Internet Act passed through a key House committee vote and markup session -- despite some last-minute efforts by big telecom to weaken the bill.
"Net neutrality is coming back with a vengeance," said Evan Greer, deputy director of consumer group Fight for the Future said in a statement. "Politicians are slowly learning that they can't get away with shilling for big telecom anymore," Greer said. "We're harnessing the power of the Internet to save it, and any lawmaker who stands in our way will soon face the wrath of their constituents, who overwhelmingly want lawmakers to restore these basic protections." Greer told Motherboard that several last minute amendments were introduced by lawmakers during the markup period in an attempt to water down the bill, but all were pulled in the wake of widespread public interest in the hearing. "It seems like the GOP retreated a bit given after the huge swell of public support," said Greer, who told Motherboard that 300,000 people watched the organization's livestream of the markup process. That attention "really emboldened the Democrats and shored up the ones that were wobbling," Greer said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-safe-than-sorry department
The first all-female spacewalk scheduled for Friday has been cancelled by NASA (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source) because they don't have two spacesuits that fit the female astronauts. According to The New York Times, Anne C. McClain and Christina H. Koch both need to wear a medium-size torso component, but only one is readily available at the International Space Station. From the report: The mission itself is unchanged. On Friday, two astronauts will venture outside of the space station on a six-hour mission to install massive lithium-ion batteries that will help to power the research laboratory. Ms. Koch is still scheduled to participate, along with her fellow astronaut Nick Hague; Ms. McClain did her first spacewalk last week. But the first women-only venture outside of the confines of the space station will have to happen on another day. "After consulting with McClain and Hague following the first spacewalk, mission managers decided to adjust the assignments, due in part to spacesuit availability on the station," NASA said in a statement.
Stephanie Schierholz, a spokeswoman for NASA, said in an interview on Monday that there were already two medium-size hard upper torsos -- "essentially the shirt of the spacesuit," according to NASA -- at the space station. But there were a couple of issues. One was that Ms. McClain had thought she would be able to work in a large-size torso, but after her spacewalk last Friday, she wore a medium-size torso and learned that it fit her better. Ms. Koch also uses the same size. And of the two medium-size torsos available, one has yet to be properly configured for a spacewalk. It would take hours of crew labor -- not to mention some additional risk -- to fix that in time for Friday. Instead of doing that, NASA decided to simply switch out the astronauts. In the end, both women will have done a spacewalk -- just not together.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's eeentsy-weentsy department
Engineers at the University of Michigan have built the first millimeter-scale stand-alone device that meets Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) specifications. "Consuming just 0.6 milliwatts during transmission, it would broadcast for 11 years using a typical 5.8-mm coin battery," reports IEEE Spectrum. "Such a millimeter-scale BLE radio would allow these ant-sized sensors to communicate with ordinary equipment, even a smartphone." From the report: The transmitter chip, which debuted last month at IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference, had to solve two problems. The first is power consumption, and the second is the size of the antenna. An ordinary transmitter circuit requires a tunable RF oscillator to generate the frequency, a power amplifier to boost its amplitude, and an antenna to radiate the signal. The Michigan team combined the oscillator and the antenna in a way that made the amplifier unnecessary. They called their invention a power oscillator. The key part of an oscillator is the resonant tank circuit: an inductor and a capacitor. Energy sloshes back and forth between the inductor's magnetic field and the capacitor's electric field at a resonant frequency determined by the capacitance and inductance. In the new circuit, the team used the antenna itself as the inductor in the resonant tank. Because it was acting as an inductor, the antenna radiated using changing magnetic field instead of an electric field; that meant it could be more compact.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's nasty-bugs department
According to ZDNet, researchers at Microsoft have discovered a buggy Huawei utility that could have given attackers a cheap way to undermine the security of the Windows kernel. From the report: Microsoft has now detailed how it found a severe local privilege escalation flaw in the Huawei PCManager driver software for its MateBook line of Windows 10 laptops. Thanks to Microsoft's work, the Chinese tech giant patched the flaw in January. As Microsoft researchers explain, third-party kernel drivers are becoming more attractive to attackers as a side-door to attacking the kernel without having to overcome its protections using an expensive zero-day kernel exploit in Windows. The flaw in Huawei's software was detected by new kernel sensors that were implemented in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, aka version 1809.
The kernel sensors are meant to address the difficulty of detecting malicious code running in the kernel and are designed to detect user-space asynchronous procedure call (APC) code injection from the kernel. Microsoft Defender ATP anti-malware uses these sensors to detect actions caused by kernel code that may inject code into user-mode. Huawei's PCManager triggered Defender ATP alerts on multiple Windows 10 devices, prompting Microsoft to launch an investigation. [...] The investigation led the researcher to the executable MateBookService.exe. Due to a flaw in Huawei's 'watchdog' mechanism for HwOs2Ec10x64.sys, an attacker is able to create a malicious instance of MateBookService.exe to gain elevated privileges. The flaw can be used to make code running with low privileges read and write to other processes or to kernel space, leading to a "full machine compromise."
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's show-and-tell department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: The Federal Trade Commission, in what could be considered a prelude to new regulatory action, has issued an order to several major internet service providers requiring them to share every detail of their data collection practices. The information could expose patterns of abuse or otherwise troubling data use against which the FTC -- or states -- may want to take action. The letters requesting info went to Comcast, Google, T-Mobile, and both the fixed and wireless sub-companies of Verizon and AT&T. These "represent a range of large and small ISPs, as well as fixed and mobile Internet providers," an FTC spokesperson said. I'm not sure which is mean to be the small one, but welcome any information the agency can extract from any of them.
To be clear, the FTC already has consumer protection rules in place and could already go after an internet provider if it were found to be abusing the privacy of its users -- you know, selling their location to anyone who asks or the like. (Still no action there, by the way.) But the evolving media and telecom landscape, in which we see enormous companies devouring one another to best provide as many complementary services as possible, requires constant reevaluation. As the agency writes in a press release: "The FTC is initiating this study to better understand Internet service providers' privacy practices in light of the evolution of telecommunications companies into vertically integrated platforms that also provide advertising-supported content." The report provides this example as to the kind of situation the FTC is concerned about: "If Verizon wants to offer not just the connection you get on your phone, but the media you request, the ads you are served, and the tracking you never heard of, it needs to show that these businesses are not somehow shirking rules behind the scenes."
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By msmash from Slashdot's my-way-or-highway department
The concept of the hyperlink was first outlined over 70 years ago and eventually became a central part of the web. But 30 years since the invention of the world wide web, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon have skewed the original ambitions for hyperlinks, who they are for and how far they can lead you. From a feature story: The impact that Google's PageRank algorithms have had on how the commercial web chooses to deploy hyperlinks can be seen in just about any SEO (search engine optimisation) blog. Publishers and businesses are encouraged to prioritize internal links over external links that may boost the competition in Google's rankings. "Since the very moment Google came on the scene, links moved from being the defining characteristic of the web, to being a battleground. Google's core insight was that you could treat every link as, essentially, a vote for the site," says Adam Tinworth, a digital publishing strategist. Tinworth explains that Google tries to minimize the effect of these 'unnatural linking patterns', which includes comment spam and 'guest posts', but it remains part of "how the shadier side of the SEO industry operates."
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By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
Google announced today that it has formed an external advisory group -- dubbed the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) -- that is tasked with "considering some of the most complex challenges in AI," including facial recognition and fairness in machine learning. From a report: The council, which is slated to publish a report at the end of 2019, includes technology experts, digital ethicists, and people with public policy backgrounds, Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president for global affairs, said at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology conference. The group is meant to provide recommendations for Google and other companies and researchers working in areas such as facial recognition software, a form of automation that has prompted concerns about racial bias and other limitations. "We want to have the most informed and thoughtful conversations we can," Walker said on stage at the MIT Technology Review event in San Francisco. "We want to sit down with the council and see what agenda they want to set."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Google today officially launched AMP for Email, its effort to turn emails from static documents into dynamic, web page-like experiences. From a report: AMP for Email is coming to Gmail, but other major email providers like Yahoo Mail, Outlook and Mail.ru will also support AMP emails. It's been more than a year since Google first announced this initiative. Even by Google standards, that's a long incubation phase, though there's also plenty of backend work necessary to make this feature work.
The promise of AMP for Email is that it'll turn basic messages into a surface for actually getting things done. "Over the past decade, our web experiences have changed enormously -- evolving from static flat content to interactive apps -- yet email has largely stayed the same with static messages that eventually go out of date or are merely a springboard to accomplishing a more complex task," Gmail product manager Aakash Sahney writes. "If you want to take action, you usually have to click on a link, open a new tab, and visit another website." With AMP for Email, those messages become interactive. That means you'll be able to RSVP to an event right from the message, fill out a questionnaire, browse through a store's inventory or respond to a comment -- all without leaving your web-based email client.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR and designer of the Oculus Rift, shares his thoughts on the recently unveiled Oculus Rift S: Rift S is very cool! It takes concepts that have been around for years and puts them into a fully functional product for the first time. Sure, sure, I see people complaining about how Rift S is worse than CV1 concerning audio quality, display characteristics, and ergonomics -- some of the tradeoffs are real, some are imaginary, and people should really wait for it to come out before passing final judgement. [...] My IPD (interpupillary distance, the distance between my eyes) is a hair under 70mm and slightly skewed to the right side of my face. One of my best friends has an IPD of 59mm. I don't know what your IPD is, but both of us were perfectly served by the IPD adjustment mechanism on Rift CV1, a mechanism that was an important part of our goal to be compatible with male and female users from 5th to 95th percentile. Anyone within the supported range (about 58mm to 72mm) got a perfect optical experience -- field curvature on the focal plane was matched, geometric distortion was properly corrected, world scale was at the right size, and pupil swim was more or less even.
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By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-products department
If you're a Firefox true believer, or even just a Firefox user, your password struggles just got a little easier with the release of Firefox Lockbox for Android devices. From a report: The password manager, based on login information already in Firefox, makes it easier to sign into apps as well. It integrates with login autocomplete systems in both Apple's iOS and Google's Android software, Mozilla said. It's not as fancy as password managers like LastPass, BitWarden, 1Password and Dashlane, and the only browser it works with is Firefox. On the other hand, if you're already in the Firefox world, it's basically already set up for you. There's no migration process as with dedicated password managers.Read Replies (0)