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First Open Source-Based Database Completes U.S. Security Review
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '16 at 05:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's red-tape-dispenser department:
RaDag writes: The U.S. government has published a DoD-validated implementation guide, known as a STIG, for EDB Postgres Advanced Server from EnterpriseDB (EDB). This is a first. No other open source database, or open source-based database, has been through the US government's security review process and gotten a STIG published. Having this guide will help agencies seeking an open source-based alternative to costly traditional vendors like Oracle [and] will speed and ease deployment of EDB Postgres, which has database compatibility for Oracle. They're now working with the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, according to a company statement. It also says that the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies "seek open source alternatives to traditional proprietary software," and see their database solution as "an opportunity to quickly reduce costs and shift away from expensive proprietary vendors, particularly as public policy initiatives around the world mandate adoption of more open source."

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New Study Shows Why Big Pharma Hates Medical Marijuana
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '16 at 04:21 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's going-to-pot department:
HughPickens.com writes: Christopher Ingraham writes in the Washington Post that a new study shows that painkiller abuse and overdose are significantly lower in states with medical marijuana laws and that when medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. The researchers "found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law... In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication. But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year."

[P]ainkiller drug companies "have long been at the forefront of opposition to marijuana reform, funding research by anti-pot academics and funneling dollars to groups, such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, that oppose marijuana legalization..."

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How (And Why) FreeDOS Keeps DOS Alive
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '16 at 12:11 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's commanding-the-command-line department:
FreeDOS was originally created in response to Microsoft's announcement that after Windows 95, DOS would no longer be developed as a standalone operating system, according to a new interview about how (and why) Jim Hall keeps FreeDOS alive. For its newest version, Hall originally imagined "what 'DOS' would be like in 2015 or 2016 if Microsoft hadn't stopped working on MS-DOS in favor of Windows" -- before he decided there's just no such thing as "modern DOS". An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:

No major changes are planned in the next version. "The next version of FreeDOS won't be multitasking, it won't be 32-bit, it won't run on ARM," Hall said. "FreeDOS is still intended for Intel and Intel-compatible computers. You should still be able to run FreeDOS on your old 486 or old Pentium PC to play classic DOS games, run legacy business programs, and support embedded development."

By day, Hall is the CIO for a county in Minnesota, and he's also a member of the board of directors for GNOME (and contributes to other open source projects) -- but he still remembers using DOS's built-in BASIC system to write simple computer programs.
"Many of us older computer nerds probably used DOS very early, on our first home computer..." he tells ComputerWorld. Even without John Romero's new Doom level, "The popularity of DOS games and DOS shareware applications probably contributes in a big way to FreeDOS's continued success." I'd be curious how many Slashdot readers have some fond memories about downloading DOS shareware applications.

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Microsoft 'Patch' Blocks Linux Installs On Locked-Down Windows RT Computers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 08:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's scratching-the-Surface department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from fossBytes:
Microsoft has released a security update that has patched a backdoor in Windows RT operating system [that] allowed users to install non-Redmond approved operating systems like Linux and Android on Windows RT tablets.
This vulnerability in ARM-powered, locked-down Windows devices was left by Redmond programmers during the development process. Exploiting this flaw, one was able to boot operating systems of his/her choice, including Android or GNU/Linux.

The Register points out that since Windows RT is "a dead-end operating system" which Microsoft has announced they'll stop developing, "mainstream support for Surface RT tablets runs out in 2017 and Windows RT 8.1 in 2018. This is why a means to bypass its boot mechanisms is highly sought."

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Energy Prices Skyrocket in South Australia
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 06:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's power-play department:
Slashdot reader sycodon quotes an article from AFR:
Turmoil in South Australia's heavily wind-reliant electricity market has forced the state government to plead with the owner of a mothballed gas-fired power station to turn it back on. The emergency measures are needed to ease punishing costs for South Australian industry as National Electricity Market prices in the state have frequently surged above $1000 a megawatt hour this month and at one point on Tuesday hit the $14,000/MWh maximum price...

"A planned outage of the Heywood Interconnector to Victoria, coupled with higher than expected gas prices and severe weather conditions have contributed to large-scale price volatility in the energy spot market in recent days," said South Australia's energy minister, Tom Koutsantonis. The Australian Associated Press adds that "The state Labor government has invested heavily in wind and solar energy at the expense of baseload power, a move critics say has left the state exposed during poor weather. Mr. Koutsantonis has described the energy volatility as a failure of the national energy market because a lack of interconnection means South Australia often produces more renewable power than it can sell into the grid. But opposition spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the government had been too hasty to invest in renewables."

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Bird-Shaped Drone Symbolizes New Forms Of Covert Surveillance To Come
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 04:01 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's eye-in-the-sky department:
One security writer in Somali recently discovered a downed metal drone that had been carefully disguised as a bird, a reminder that drones will bring powerful new forms of surveillance. Slashdot reader Stephen Sellner also shares an article by the CEO of one unmanned systems company who's predicting that the commercial drone industry will create more than 100,000 new jobs and generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy, and suggesting "security of industrial areas (shipyard, storage facility, etc.) can now be augmented by drones to provide a quick eye in the sky."

But it may be inevitable that drones will be used in a variety of unexpected ways. Airbus is also testing the use of drones for quality inspections on their commercial aircraft. In Iowa, a drone helped lead first-responders to a man suffering from a heart attack. And the U.S. wildlife service is planning to drop peanut-butter pellets onto northeastern Montana to deliver vaccines to prairie dogs -- so that they can then in turn be eaten by Montana's population of endangered black-footed ferrets. Any predictions about drone news we'll be seeing in the future?

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Robotic Exoskeletons May Become Skintight Suits
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 02:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bend-it-like-Beckham department:
Slashdot reader Kassandra Perlongo shares an article about "soft robotics and exoskeletons" at the University of Salford, writing "those bulky, mechanical suits could eventually be a thing of the past."

Children with a rare neurological disease were recently given the chance to walk for the first time thanks to a new robotic exoskeleton... But while today's exoskeletons are mostly clumsy, heavy devices, new technology could make them much easier and more natural to use by creating a robotic skin... [Soft robotic devices] are particularly well suited to interaction with humans as they are typically lightweight which means if they collide with a person they are unlikely to cause injury.

We recently developed a new "soft continuum actuator", a joint that bends like an elephant's trunk...if it encounters resistance in one part of its body it will still bend but at a different location elsewhere along its length. By equipping a skintight material suit with these actuators, we can create a soft exoskeleton that bends at the precise location of the wearer's joints. This means the suit will fit a range of users comfortably without needing mechanical adjustment or calibration. Plus, the system is lightweight and can be worn like clothing rather than a bulky mechanical frame.

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Paypal Founder Peter Thiel To Speak At Trump's Republican Convention
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 02:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Facebook-friends department:
Slashdot reader speedplane writes: The New York Times is reporting that renowned Venture Capitalist, Paypal Founder, and Gawker Litigation Funder, Peter Thiel will be speaking at the Republican National Convention. The original story does not state what Thiel will discuss at the convention, only that he'll be speaking the last day, but there's plenty of speculation. Facebook issued a statement that though Thiel is on their board of directors, his appearance was "personal," saying Thiel "is not attending on behalf of Facebook or to represent our views." NBC reports Thiel will be the first openly-gay man to speak at the convention in 16 years, "as party leaders refuse to soften the GOP's formal opposition to gay marriage," noting Thiel "has been a staunch supporter of Donald Trump's run for the oval office, previously supported Ron Paul for president and has identified himself as a conservative libertarian in the past...
Other speakers will include four of Trump's children, Las Vegas casino owner Phil Ruffin, and actor and former underwear model Antonio Sabato Jr."

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Intel ChromeBooks Can Now Run Wine and Steam
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 01:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's leprechaun-on-a-unicorn department:
"With Google Play and Android app support hitting Chromebooks, it's now possible to run Windows applications/games on Chromebooks via CrossOver For Android," reports Phoronix. Slashdot reader grungy writes: The first Intel ChromeBooks have access to the Play Store now, and the Android version of Wine apparently runs on them... Pictures show the Steam client running, and a clip of a D3D game. Of course, the Play Store is only available on the ChromeOS developer channel so far, but that should change later this year. CrossOver for Android also hasn't been officially released, but Thursday CodeWeavers' president blogged excitedly that "we are staring at a Leprechaun riding on the back of a Unicorn while taking a picture of a UFO. We are running CrossOver through Android on a ChromeBook running a Windows based game launched from the Steam client. THIS HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE...EVER!!!"

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Uber's Investigators Admit To Lying While Digging Up Dirt On Legal Foes
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 11:51 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's topsy-turvy-world department:
Andrew J . Hawkins, writing for The Verge: Ergo, the secretive, CIA-linked firm that was paid by Uber to investigate the plaintiff in one of the ride-hail startup's many lawsuits, has now admitted to lying and illegally recording phone calls during its probe, according to Law360. Lawyers for Ergo owned up to the infractions in oral arguments in court Thursday, drawing a rebuke from the judge overseeing the case. Last December, Spencer Meyer filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, alleging a scheme to fix prices in violation of antitrust laws. The same day, Uber hired Ergo to investigate Meyer out of concern he posed a security risk to Kalanick. But Ergo also gathered information on Meyer's lawyer, a move that some critics say went too far. Ergo's lawyer argued that the firm was unaware the investigation was tied to a lawsuit, even while admitting Ergo's investigator "dissembled and used false pretenses in his duties," Law360 said.

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Encrypted DNA Storage Investigated by DOE Researchers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 11:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's genetic-code department:
Biological engineers at a Department of Energy lab "are experimenting with encrypted DNA storage for archival applications." Slashdot reader ancientribe shares an article from Dark Reading:
Using this method, the researchers could theoretically store 2.2 petabytes of information in one gram of DNA. That's 200 times the printed material at the Library of Congress... Instead of needing a 15,000 square-foot building to store 35,000 boxes of inactive records and archival documents, Sandia National Laboratories can potentially store information on much less paper, in powder form, in test tubes or petri dishes, or even as a bacterial cell... "Hard drives fail and very often the data can't be recovered," explains Bachand. "With DNA, it's possible to recover strands that are 10,000 to 20,000 years old... even if someone sneezes and the powder is lost, it's possible to recover all the information by just recovering one DNA molecule."

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Starbucks and McDonald's Announce Porn Blocks On Their Wi-Fi Networks
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 10:21 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-lovin'-it department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN Money: Anti-pornography groups have succeeded in their efforts to get Starbucks and McDonald's to block porn on the chains' Wi-Fi networks..."We had not heard from our customers that this was an issue, but we saw an opportunity that is consistent with our goal of providing an enjoyable experience for families," McDonald's said in a statement... Starbucks said Friday it's will do so the same thing at its company-owned stores around the globe as well. "Once we determine that our customers can access our free Wi-Fi in a way that also doesn't involuntarily block unintended content, we will implement this in our stores," said a Starbucks spokesperson. "In the meantime, we reserve the right to stop any behavior that interferes with our customer experience, including what is accessed on our free Wi-Fi..."

Meanwhile, this week, the Republican Party officially added the "public health crisis" of porn to its official platform.

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Patriot Act Expansion Fails In The House
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 09:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's 15-years-later department:
An anonymous reader write: The "Anti-terrorism Information Sharing Is Strength Act" failed in the U.S. Congress on a vote held earlier this week. "Many libertarians warned of potential privacy violations if the measure went into effect," reported The Hill, "which helped prevent it from reaching the necessary two-thirds majority to pass through the fast-track process under which it was considered." The bill would've expanded the number of crimes which would trigger the expanded investigation powers, including crimes covered by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. "The Patriot Act should not be casually expanded," warned the House Liberty in a statement, arguing the bill would "permit the government to demand information on any American from any financial institution merely upon reasonable suspicion."

In a related story, a new campaign ad is criticizing Senator Russ Feingold for being the only Senator to vote against the original Patriot Act in October of 2001. Shipped to TV stations Thursday night, its narration begins "Islamic terrorists slaughtering innocents. And when Congress gave law enforcement the tools to keep Americans safe from international terror, only one senator voted no: Russ Feingold." After Friday's attack in Nice, Feingold's opponent attempted to reschedule the ads until a later date, but was unable to stop them from airing on at least three stations.

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Microsoft Store Offers Free Laptop If They Can't Upgrade Your PC To Windows 10
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 09:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's assuming-you'd-want-to department:
Microsoft is now promising that their Microsoft Store employees "will give you a free Dell laptop if the staff can't do a same-day upgrade on your eligible PC by close of business," reports new Slashdot submitter Pritam Dash. To be eligible for the Dell Inspiron 15, the PC must meet Microsoft's upgrade requirements -- and be checked in by noon -- and in a further effort to boost adoption for their of the Windows 10 operating system, Microsoft is also announcing that "If your PC isn't compatible with Windows 10, we'll recycle it and give you $150 toward the purchase of a new PC." (This second offer is limited to PCs already running Windows 8). Both offers are valid until July 29th, "while supplies last."

Meanwhile, the U.S. army is "half a year behind the January 2017 deadline to adopt Windows 10 set by Defense Department Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen," and has hired Microsoft engineers to assess their 1.1 million devices and legacy systems.

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AT&T Open Sources Its SDN Framework To The Linux Foundation
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 07:31 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's software-defined-networks department:
An anonymous reader writes "It's no secret that AT&T has been planning to move to a software-defined network for quite a while. Now, they've decided to open-source the whole thing." From Fierce Telecom:

AT&T today announced it will release its Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) platform to the wider telecom industry as an open source offering managed by the Linux Foundation. The goal, the company said, is to make ECOMP the telecom industry's standard automation platform for managing virtual network functions and other software-centric network capabilities.

AT&T delivered 8.5 million lines of code to the Linux Foundation on Wednesday, saying "We want to build a community -- where
people contribute to the code base and advance the platform..." AT&T said Wednesday they've already received interest from other major telecoms, and "we want this to help align the global industry." While their ultimate goal is to virtualize 75% of their own network by 2020, at least one analyst sees a larger trend where the whole telecom industry collectively bypasses equipment vendors and begins "taking network innovation into its own hands."

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Jill Stein Pledges To Pardon Snowden and Appoint Him To Her Cabinet
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 06:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's national-security-agency department:
Iamthecheese writes: Trump hates him. Clinton misrepresented him. Most mainstream media outlets call him a traitor and worse. But if you vote Stein, Snowden will be in the presidential Cabinet. "The presumptive Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein promises to grant NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden -- who many describe as a true American hero -- not just a full pardon, but a promotion to the upper echelons of government should she win the White House," reports Zero Hedge. "[Snowden] has done an incredible service to our country at great cost to himself for having to live away from his family, his friends, his job, his network, to basically live as an expatriate," Stein asserted during a town hall live-streamed to supporters on her Facebook page, US Uncut reported. "I would say not only bring Snowden back, but bring him into my administration as a member of the Cabinet," she continued, "because we need people who are part of our national security administration who are really, very patriotic. If we're really going to protect our American security, we also have to protect our Constitutional rights, and that includes our right to privacy." Her pardons would also extend to CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou and Chelsea Manning. Kiriakou first revealed proof of waterboarding and various other torture tactics employed by the government, while Manning leaked the Afghan War Diary and Iraq War Logs, which included footage of U.S. helicopter airmen deliberately gunning down journalists, to Wikileaks. Reddit co-founder and MIT student, Aaron Swartz, who leaked academic research to the public, would also receive a pardon under her presidency. "[Swartz] was a proponent of free and liberated internet and for sharing our resources on that internet, who was basically hounded into suicide by a very oppressive Department of Justice. So, he -- in my mind -- is another one of these heroes that we need to remember and be very thankful for."

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Leak Shows PlayStation 4 Neo Is Expected To Have Twice The Graphics Horsepower
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 04:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shiny-and-new department:
MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Following rumors of a more powerful console in Sony's not-too-distant future -- one that will be capable of playing games at a 4K resolution -- the Japanese electronics maker last month opted to confirm it is indeed in development. Called PlayStation 4 Neo, the upgraded system will bring better hardware to the console scene to meet the needs of gaming on a television with four times as many pixels as a Full HD 1080p display. What's it going to take to game at 4K in the living room? A leaked internal document outlines some very interesting specs of the new model PS4 console. Assuming the leaked document is up to date with Sony's current plans, the PS4 Neo will use the same Jaguar cores as the original PS4, but clocked 500MHz faster, with 8 cores at 2.1GHz (up from 1.6GHz). The more significant upgrade will be the GPU. According to the slide, the PS4 Neo will use an improved version of AMD's GCN compute units (CUs), with twice the number of CUs at 36 instead of 18. They'll also be clocked faster -- 911MHz versus 800MHz. The net result is a 2.3x improvement in floating point performance.

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Russia Is Building a Nuclear Space Bomber
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '16 at 12:41 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nuclear-arms-race-in-space department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Daily Beast: The Russian military claims it's making progress on a space plane similar to the U.S. Air Force's secretive X-37B robotic mini-shuttle. The tech is pretty basic. But alone among space-plane developers, the Kremlin is proposing to arm its space plane. With nukes. Lt. Col. Aleksei Solodovnikov, a rocketry instructor at the Russian Strategic Missile Forces Academy in St. Petersburg who is overseeing the space plane's development, said the orbital bomber would be flight-ready by 2020. It's unclear how much money the Kremlin is investing in the project, and how serious senior officers are about actually deploying the space plane, if and when Solodovnikov and his team finish it. In any event, the military space plane could give Russia a potentially history-altering nuclear first-strike capability. "The idea is that the bomber will take off from a normal home airfield to patrol Russian airspace," Solodovnikov said, according to Sputnik, a government-owned news site. "Upon command, it will ascend into outer space, strike a target with nuclear warheads and then return to its home base." Thanks to its orbital capability, the bomber would be able to nuke any target on Earth no longer than two hours after taking off, Solodovnikov claimed.

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Do You Have A Living Doppelgänger?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 15 '16 at 08:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's look-alike department:
HughPickens.com writes: Folk wisdom has it that everyone has a doppelganger; somewhere out there there's a perfect duplicate of you, with your mother's eyes, your father's nose and that annoying mole you've always meant to have removed. Now BBC reports that last year Teghan Lucas set out to test the hypothesis that everyone has a living double. Armed with a public collection of photographs of U.S. military personnel and the help of colleagues from the University of Adelaide, Lucas painstakingly analyzed the faces of nearly four thousand individuals, measuring the distances between key features such as the eyes and ears. Next she calculated the probability that two peoples' faces would match. What she found was good news for the criminal justice system, but likely to disappoint anyone pining for their long-lost double: the chances of sharing just eight dimensions with someone else are less than one in a trillion. Even with 7.4 billion people on the planet, that's only a one in 135 chance that there's a single pair of doppelgangers. Lucas says this study has provided much-needed evidence that facial anthropometric measurements are as accurate as fingerprints and DNA when it comes to identifying a criminal. "The use of video surveillance systems for security purposes is increasing and as a result, there are more and more instances of criminals leaving their 'faces' at a scene of a crime," says Ms Lucas. "At the same time, criminals are getting smarter and are avoiding leaving DNA or fingerprint traces at a crime scene." But that's not the whole story. The study relied on exact measurements; if your doppelganger's ears are 59mm but yours are 60mm, your likeness wouldn't count. "It depends whether we mean 'lookalike to a human' or 'lookalike to facial recognition software,'" says David Aldous. If fine details aren't important, suddenly the possibility of having a lookalike looks a lot more realistic. It depends on the way faces are stored in the brain: more like a map than an image. To ensure that friends and acquaintances can be recognized in any context, the brain employs an area known as the fusiform gyrus to tie all the pieces together. This holistic 'sum of the parts' perception is thought to make recognizing friends a lot more accurate than it would be if their features were assessed in isolation. Using this type of analysis, and judging by the number of celebrity look-alikes out there, unless you have particularly rare features, you may have literally thousands of doppelgangers. "I think most people have somebody who is a facial lookalike unless they have a truly exceptional and unusual face," says Francois Brunelle has photographed more than 200 pairs of doppelgangers for his I'm Not a Look-Alike project. "I think in the digital age which we are entering, at some point we will know because there will be pictures of almost everyone online.

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Google Decided To Nix Its Oculus Rift Competitor
Posted by News Fetcher on July 15 '16 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's look-at-the-bigger-picture department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Recode: Google recently nixed an internal project to create a high-end standalone virtual-reality headset that would compete directly against the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, according to sources familiar with the plans. Google instead decided to shift more of its resources behind mobile VR and provide tools for other companies to build apps, games and services on Android-powered smartphones, rather than expensive hardware. In May, the company announced "Google Daydream," a platform that will help hardware and software developers create VR hardware, games, and experiences for its new Android Nougat operating system. Google did say they would be releasing their own VR headset, but it's mostly geared towards developers. A different VR project was started inside the Google X research lab, which is now a separate Alphabet company, with around 50 employees working on it, according to one source. That project was creating a separate operating system for the device, unique from Android. Now, it appears that the OS and project were scratched in favor of Android. The report suggests that Google is not as interested in competing directly with hardware from Facebook, Samsung, HTC and others. Apple has been recently granted another AR/VR patent, suggesting the company might be building a VR headset of its own.

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