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Amazon Opens Up the Software For Alexa-Controlled Smart Homes
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '16 at 09:13 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's the-one-where-Alexa-talks-to-your-IoT-devices department:
An anonymous reader cites an article on CNET: Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa has already grown into a viable platform for voice-activated smart home control. Now, Amazon is introducing new, open software that will make it easier for smart home gadgets to hop aboard that platform. The software is a new addition to the Alexa Skills Kit called the Smart Home Skill API. The API makes it faster and easier for device makers to build the Skills that sync their products up with Alexa, and it standardizes the vocabulary that they'll use, too. If I make a smart thermostat and sync it up with Alexa using the Smart Home Skill API, I'll be using common terminology that Alexa already knows. That means that Alexa will be able to control my thermostat with basic commands like, "Turn the heat up" or, "Set the thermostat to 70" without me needing to program any of it.

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Countries That Use Tor Most Are Either Highly Repressive or Highly Liberal
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '16 at 09:13 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's the-curious-case-of-Tor-usage department:
Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard: You might assume that people in the most oppressive regimes wouldn't use the Tor anonymity network because of severe restrictions on technology or communication. On the other hand, you might think that people in the most liberal settings would have no immediate need for Tor. A new paper shows that Tor usage is, in fact, highest at both these tips of the political spectrum, peaking in the most oppressed and the most-free countries around the world. "There is evidence to suggest that at extreme levels of repression, Tor does provide a useful tool to people in those circumstances to do things that they otherwise would not be able to do," Eric Jardine, research fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a Canadian think-tank, told Motherboard in a phone call.

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Nest Reminds Customers That Ownership Isn't What It Used To Be
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '16 at 09:13 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's sense-of-product-ownership department:
Alphabet-owned Nest recently announced that it will be turning off Revolv Hub next month. An anonymous reader shares an article on EFF, a privacy rights group: Nest Labs, a home automation company acquired by Google in 2014, will disable some of its customers' home automation control devices in May. This move is causing quite a stir among people who purchased the $300 Revolv Hub devices -- customers who reasonably expected that the promised "lifetime" of updates would enable the hardware they paid for to actually work, only to discover the manufacturer can turn their device into a useless brick when it so chooses. This is far from the first time that customers' software and electronics have been downgraded by manufacturers. Updates can disable features the customer paid for that have fallen out of favor with the vendor, as when Google disabled privacy settings on Android or Sony took away the ability to run GNU/Linux on a Playstation 3. Manufacturers can even render a device unusable until the customer "agrees" to new terms of use, as Nintendo did with the Wii U. Other software and devices, including some video games, are designed so they simply stop working when they can no longer dial home to a server run by the vendor.

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Open Source Vulnerability Database Shuts Down
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '16 at 07:34 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's bad-things-happen department:
Reader StonyCreekBare writes: From the Blog at osvdb.org "As of today, a decision has been made to shut down the Open Source Vulnerability Database (OSVDB), and will not return. We are not looking for anyone to offer assistance at this point, and it will not be resurrected in its previous form. This was not an easy decision, and several of us struggled for well over ten years trying to make it work at great personal expense. The industry simply did not want to contribute and support such an effort."

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HackingTeam's Global Export License Revoked
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '16 at 07:34 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's mad-world department:
An anonymous reader writes: You might remember HackingTeam from an epic data leak back in July 2015. Now, the Italian Ministry of Economical Progress has revoked HackingTeam's licence to export their Galileo remote control software abroad, two years before it would expire, on April 30, 2018. Until the situation changes, HackingTeam will have to ask express permission for every single commercial operation that involves the sale of their Galileo system abroad.

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Opera's Ex-CEO Launches Vivaldi 1.0 For Power Users
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '16 at 06:21 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's new-browser-in-town department:
Opera co-founder and former CEO Jon von Tetzchner on Wednesday launched the v1.0 of Vivaldi browser. Vivaldi v1.0, which is aimed at "power users", is available to download from the company's website for Windows, OS X, and Linux platforms. The Norway, Oslo company has been working on it since 2013. Vivaldi offers a range of features such as support for Chrome extension, Tab Stacks, Rewind and Fast Forward, and built-in support for custom keyboard shortcuts and mouse gestures. There are plenty of other handy tools including the ability to check how much data a Web page has consumed in real time.

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Quanta LTE Router May Be Most Unsecure Router Ever Made
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '16 at 06:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's backdoor-here-backdoor-there-backdoors-everywhere department:
An anonymous reader writes: LTE routers made by Quanta Computer Incorporated, a Taiwanese hardware manufacturer, are plagued by over twenty major security flaws ranging from backdoor accounts to remote code execution bugs, from hardcoded SSH keys to undocumented diagnostics pages, and from weak WPS PINs to network eavesdropping functions. As the researcher explains: "A personal point of view: at best, the vulnerabilities are due to incompetence; at worst, it is a deliberate act of security sabotage from the vendor." The vendor has not fixed any of these issues even after almost four months.

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Chat App Kik Beats Facebook To Launching a Bot Store
Posted by News Fetcher on April 06 '16 at 02:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's beat-to-the-punch department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: "Messengers are the new browsers and bots are the new websites," Kik's Mike Roberts told The Next Web. The messaging app that's big with America's youth has launched a bot store and developer platform to support it. The Kik Bot Shop offers mini-apps that you can add to your account and either chat to directly or use in your chats with others. For example, at launch, there's a bot that inserts relevant Vine videos into your chats at your request, similar to Giphy's insanely popular Slack integration, and if you do prefer GIFs, Riffsy (which also powers Twitter's GIFs) has a bot for Kik. A Weather Channel bot can tell you the forecast on demand or send you a regular update, and if you're looking for beauty tips, Sephora's bot has you covered. There are 18 bots in the store at launch, but Kik is keen for developers to build more.

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People Feel Weird About Touching Robot Butts, Researchers Find
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '16 at 11:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's physiological-arousal department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: How would you feel if a robot asked you to touch its butt? Maybe it sounds like a silly question, but as robots proliferate and anthropomorphize, it's actually something that needs to be considered. So scientists at Stanford considered it. The study, to be presented soon but previewed by IEEE Spectrum, is entitled "Touching a Mechanical Body: Tactile Contact With Intimate Parts of a Human-Shaped Robot is Physiologically Arousing" -- and really, the title says it all. The researchers sat volunteers at a table with a Nao humanoid robot reclining casually on it. They were told (by the robot, in fact) that it was a vocabulary exercise focusing on terms for body parts. Volunteers were told by the bot to, for instance, "touch my ear" using their dominant hand, while the non-dominant hand remained on a skin conductance sensor that loosely monitored their physical state. When asked to touch "high accessibility" areas -- places we normally touch on other people, like shoulders and elbows -- volunteers did so without hesitation or agitation. But "low accessibility" areas -- this would be the robot's butt and where its junk would be -- produced delay and that arousal we talked about.

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Gov't Researchers Develop Wireless Car Chargers That Are Faster Than Plug-ins
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '16 at 08:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's government-research department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Computerworld: The U.S. Department of Energy has demonstrated a 20,000 watt (20KW) wireless car-charging system that offers three times the efficiency of today's plug-in systems for electric vehicles (EVs). The research is the first step in creating a 50KW wireless charging system that may someday allow roadways to charge vehicles while they are being driven. The DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee demonstrated the new system in partnership with Toyota, Cisco Systems, Evatran and the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. ORNL said the 20KW charging system for passenger cars is the world's highest power wireless system. It was developed in less than three years using a "unique architecture that included an ORNL-built inverter, isolation transformer, vehicle-side electronics and coupling technologies."

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HP's New Logo Is the Awesome One It Never Used
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '16 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's subjective-art department:
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier today, HP announced the Spectre 13, the world's thinnest laptop. One of the subtle changes HP is making with its recent global brand offensive is to its logo. HP has decided to go with a minimalist design consisting of four slashes making up the "HP" brand name. Previously, "Hewlett-Packard" was written out in full on last year's Spectre x360. HP says it will be using the minimalist logo solely on its premium laptops. Even though the logo has received a makeover, it's not exactly new. This very same mark first surfaced online in a 2011 brand redesign study released by Moving Brands, who HP had hired to develop a new logo and brand identity.

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Researchers Keep Pig Heart Beating In Baboon Belly For 2 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '16 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's world-book-of-records department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Researchers report Tuesday that they were able to keep pig hearts alive and beating in the abdomens of five baboons for record amounts of time -- a median of 298 days and a max of 945 days. Previous benchmarks were set at a median of 180 and a max of 500 days, respectively. Currently in the US, 22 people die every day just waiting for organs, which are in constant short supply. To help solve the problem, researchers turned to pigs years ago to see if they could lend useful organs or at least provide temporary "bridge" tissue to those on wait-lists. Pigs were a good fit mainly because their organs' sizes are similar to that of human's. In early studies, successful survival time in pig-to-primate transplants, generally called xenotransplants, were measured in minutes. The swine substitutes naturally have a molecular marker, called alpha 1-3-galactosyltransferase (gal), which triggers deadly blood clots in primates. In the new study, researchers at the National Institutes of Health and colleagues, tweaked the approach; they engineered the gal-knock out pigs to have extra anti-clotting genetic features and used an antibody to selectively shut down the part of the primate's immune system that responds to pig organs. To avoid needlessly killing the baboons and doing extensive surgery, the researchers opted to transplant the pig hearts into the baboon's abdomens, leaving the primates' hearts in place. In the abdomen, the pig tickers hooked up to circulatory system and beat for a record-breaking amount of time.

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PayPal Pulls North Carolina Plan After Transgender Bathroom Law
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '16 at 04:33 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's controversial-laws department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: PayPal Holdings Inc on Tuesday canceled plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte, North Carolina and invest $3.6 million in the area after the state passed a controversial law targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens. In a letter on March 29, founders and chief executives of more than a hundred companies, including Apple Inc, Twitter Inc, and Alphabet Inc urged North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory to repeal the legislation.
PayPal is one of the first companies to protest the controversial measure requiring people to use bathrooms or locker rooms in schools and other public facilities that match the gender on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity. "The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal's mission and culture," Chief Executive Officer Dan Schulman said in a statement. PayPal's original plan was to open the operations center in Charlotte and employ 400 skilled workers there.

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Magic Kinder Android App Lets Strangers Send Images, Videos To Your Kids
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '16 at 04:33 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's invasion-of-privacy department:
An anonymous reader writes: The scenario which all parents hate seems to have materialized in the form of an Android app [called Magic Kinder] that lets strangers send texts, images, and videos to kids. All of this is facilitated by a simple app design and lack of encryption, which allows attackers to manipulate HTTP requests and send any content they like to any of the app's users. Currently, because the app developer did not respond, the issues are still present in the app. Fortunately, the app hasn't been installed on more than 11,000 devices.

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GE's Move To Boston Could Revive Local Tech Business Ambitions
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '16 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's diversified-community department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Networkworld: Two-hundred people will run General Electric from the company's new headquarters in the Fort Point part of the city and another 600 will work in its labs. According to Immelt's vision, the headquarters will be open for interacting with startups and academia in which GE is both convener and catalyst. In an interview with Boston's business and political elite yesterday, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of GE Jeff Immelt said GE moved to Boston for two reasons: to win the Internet of Things and rethink how companies work in this winner-take-all technology and innovation economy. If GE's top management can add the missing ingredient by transferring the know-how for growing businesses to billions of dollars in quarterly revenue, Boston could regain its preeminent position for technology business leadership equal to its reputation for leading-edge research and development.

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HP Says It Made the World's Thinnest Laptop
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '16 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's as-thin-as-a-AAA-battery department:
An anonymous reader writes: HP claims that its Spectre laptop, unveiled April 5, is the world's thinnest laptop. It measures 10.4mm thick or 0.41 inches. That would mean that it's slimmer than the 12-inch MacBook (0.52), MacBook Air (0.68 inches) and Dell XPS 13 (0.59 inches) at their thickest points. It's also thinner than the 0.52-inch Razer Blade Stealth. The new notebook is equipped with an advertised nine-hour battery life, 13-inch HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display, and sixth generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. The Spectre will be available for pre-order on April 25 for $1,169.99 before it hits Best Buy stores on May 22 for $1,249.99.

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Samsung Starts Mass Producing Industry's First 10-Nanometer Class DRAM
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '16 at 01:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's smaller-and-smaller department:
An anonymous reader writes: Samsung is now mass producing the industry's first 10-nanometer class, 8Gb DDR4 DRAM chips, ahead of competitors SK Hynix and Micron. It will produce 10nm-class DDR4 DRAM modules this year varying from 4GB for laptops and up to 128GB for enterprise servers. Samsung also promised to reveal 10-nanometer-class mobile DRAM "in the near future." The announcement marks a big milestone for the company after it first mass produced 20-nanometer-class 4GB DDR3 DRAM chips in 2014. "Samsung's 10nm-class DRAM will enable the highest level of investment efficiency in IT systems, thereby becoming a new growth engine for the global memory industry," said Young-Hyun Jun, President of Memory Business, Samsung Electronics. "In the near future, we will also launch next-generation, 10nm-class mobile DRAM products with high densities to help mobile manufacturers develop even more innovative products that add to the convenience of mobile device users."

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Intel Buys Yogitech, Aims To Improve Safety of Autonomous Cars and IoT Systems
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '16 at 01:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hang-on-boo-boo department:
An anonymous reader writes: Intel has acquired the Italian company Yogitech to improve upon Internet of Things (IoT) security and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. Yogitech's flagship technology known as faultRobust is designed to keep circuits functional and prevent device failure. Since Intel provides chips for IoT devices, it makes sense for the company to be interested expanding that effort with Yogitech's technology. Intel's Atom and Quark chips are used in IoT devices, and it bundles hardware- and software- based security and networking layers in with those chips. The most obvious use for Yogitech's technology is with autonomous vehicles, where the circuitry can be used to reduce errors related to braking and identification of objects. It may also be used in industrial machines, where the chances of equipment hurting the process or a worker could be reduced.

According to Intel, 30 percent of the IoT market will require functional safety systems. Intel didn't comment how much they paid to buy the company.

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New Website Lets Anyone Spy on Tinder Users
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '16 at 12:31 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's security-woes department:
An anonymous reader cites an article on The Guardian: Tinder isn't as private as many of its users think, and a new website which aims to exploit that is causing concern among users of the dating app Swipebuster promises to let Tinder users find out whether people they know have an account on the dating app, and even stalk them down to their last known location. The website charges $4.99 to let someone see whether the target is using Tinder, and can narrow down results by first name, age, gender and location. But it doesn't do so by hacking into Tinder, or even by "scraping" the app manually. Instead, it searches the database using Tinder's official API, which is intended for use by third-party developers who want to write software that plugs in with the site. All the information that it can reveal is considered public by the company, and revealed through the API with few safeguards.

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Nvidia Creates a 15B-Transistor Chip With 16GB Bandwidth Memory For Deep Learning
Posted by News Fetcher on April 05 '16 at 11:13 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-transistors department:
An anonymous reader cites a report on VentureBeat: Nvidia chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang announced that the company has created a new chip, the Tesla P100, with 15 billion transistors, 16GB high-bandwidth memory for deep-learning computing. It's the biggest chip ever made, Huang said. "We decided to go all-in on A.I.," Huang said. "This is the largest FinFET chip that has ever been done." The chip has 15 billion transistors, or three times as much as many processors or graphics chips on the market. It takes up 600 square millimeters. The chip can run at 21.2 teraflops. Huang said that several thousand engineers worked on it for years.

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