By BeauHD from Slashdot's learning-experience department
An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched a hardware project dubbed 'Project Bloks' to help teach kids how to code. There are three components to the learning experience: Brain Board, Base Boards, and Pucks. The Brain Board features a processing unit that is based off of Raspberry Pi Zero, which controls and provides power to the rest of the connected components. It does also interact with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. The Base Boards are connective units that let users design instruction flows. Finally, the Pucks are the components you interact with. They're shaped with switches, arrows, buttons, dials and more, and can be programmed to turn things on or off, move avatars, play music, and more. What's neat is you can record instructions from multiple pucks into a single one. Some of them can be made with simple, inexpensive materials like paper with conductive ink. You can watch the official introduction video on YouTube. Google did release a subsequent video about the project called "Developing on Project Bloks."Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's privacy-woes department
Fusion's Kashmir Hill is reporting that Facebook is using your phone's location to suggest new friends. It's unclear exactly when the social juggernaut began doing this, but a number of instances suggest it only started recently. From the report:Last week, I met a man who suspected Facebook had tracked his location to figure out who he was meeting with. He was a dad who had recently attended a gathering for suicidal teens. The next morning, he told me, he opened Facebook to find that one of the anonymous parents at the gathering popped up as a "person you may know." [...] "People You May Know are people on Facebook that you might know," a Facebook spokesperson said. "We show you people based on mutual friends, work and education information, networks you're part of, contacts you've imported and many other factors." One of those factors is smartphone location. A Facebook spokesperson said though that shared location alone would not result in a friend suggestion, saying that the two parents must have had something else in common, such as overlapping networks.While this feature could be useful in some cases, many may -- and they should -- see it as a big invasion of their privacy -- Hill has succinctly explained a number of them.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's security-woes department
An anonymous reader writes:Whoever said crime doesn't pay didn't know about the booming ransomware market. A case in point, the latest version of the scourge known as CryptXXX, which raked in more than $45,000 in less than three weeks. Over the past few months, CryptXXX developers have gone back and forth with security researchers. The whitehats from Kaspersky Lab provided a free tool that allowed victims to decrypt their precious data without paying the ransom, which typically reaches $500 or more. Then, CryptXXX developers would tweak their code to defeat the get-out-of-jail decryptor. The researchers would regain the upper hand by exploiting another weakness and so on. Earlier this month, the developers released a new CryptXXX variant that to date still has no decryptor available. Between June 4 and June 21, according to a blog post published Monday by security firm SentinelOne, the Bitcoin address associated with the new version had received 70 bitcoins, which at current prices is valued at around $45,228. The figure doesn't include revenue generated from previous campaigns.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's own-your-stuff department
According to a report by The Telegraph, Google is working on its first Google-branded smartphone, and plans to release it by the end of 2016. Unlike the Nexus program, in which Google mandates the design and specifications of the phone, but leaves the manufacturing aspect to its handpicked OEM, the new supposed phone will be built from the scratch by Google. From the report:The technology giant is in discussions with mobile operators about releasing a Google-branded phone that will extend the company's move into hardware, sources familiar with the discussions told The Telegraph. [...] The new device, which will be released by the end of the year according to a senior source, will see Google take more control over design, manufacturing and software.NYMag questions company's reported move:It's an unsurprising rumor to hear: Google CEO Sundar Pichai has publicly commented on the company's emphasis on phones, and Motorola's Rick Osterloh was hired earlier this year to head up a new hardware division. And there's also the much discussed Google Ara, a modular phone which lets you swap out pieces like a camera or speakers and is slated for release in 2017. But Google is already working with hardware companies like LG and Huawei on the Nexus line of phones, which are made to the company's exact design specifications but are manufactured by third parties. It's hard to see how Google could take more control over design or software than it already does with Nexus, and while the company is likely eager to move into the manufacturing space, the timeline for Ara hasn't changed, and it seems unlikely that this new mystery Google phone is going to jump in front and actually become available to the public by year's end.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's chromebook-pro department
Google is currently surveying people about what a Chromebook Pro should be like. VentureBeat's report cites two people who recently shared the development on a forum. One user was asked the question, "How would you think a Chromebook Pro is different than a Chromebook?" whereas the other user was asked, "what a Chromebook Pro should be like in [his/her] opinion and what type of people would want to use it." From the report:The word "Pro" would imply a high-end laptop running Chrome OS, just like, say, the MacBook Pro or the Surface Pro 4. But there are many other companies -- Asus, Dell, HP, and Samsung, among others -- that make Chromebooks, along with Google. It isn't clear from these survey questions if Google is thinking about making a Chromebook Pro itself, just as it has made high-end Chromebook Pixel laptops, or if Google is just wondering how consumers would perceive a Chromebook Pro made by a third party. Meanwhile, Google last month published a job posting entitled "Quality Engineer, Chromebook Pixel," suggesting that a third generation of that device could be on the way.Chromebooks are becoming increasingly popular. They outsold Mac for the first time in the United States earlier this year. The majority of the Chromebooks available today, however, pack in entry-level specifications, giving users very limited choice. Though we have seen devices like Chromebook Pixel, a range of high-end Chromebooks could entice even more customers.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's stopping-the-Start-screen department
An anonymous reader shares this story from the Seattle Times:
A few days after Microsoft released Windows 10 to the public last year, Teri Goldstein's computer started trying to download and install the new operating system. The update, which she says she didn't authorize, failed. Instead, the computer she uses to run her Sausalito, California, travel-agency business slowed to a crawl. It would crash, she says, and be unusable for days at a time. "I had never heard of Windows 10," Goldstein said. "Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to update."
When outreach to Microsoft's customer support didn't fix the issue, Goldstein took the software giant to court, seeking compensation for lost wages and the cost of a new computer. She won. Last month, Microsoft dropped an appeal and Goldstein collected a $10,000 judgment from the company.
Microsoft denies any wrongdoing, and says they only halted their appeal to avoid the cost of further litigation.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's anti-social-media department
An anonymous reader quotes this article from The Verge:
The systems that automatically enforce copyright laws on the internet may be expanding to block unfavorable speech. Reuters reports that Facebook, Google, and other companies are exploring automated removal of extremist content, and could be repurposing copyright takedown methods to identify and suppress it. It's unclear where the lines have been drawn, but the systems are likely targeted at radical messages on social networks from enemies of European powers and the United States. Leaders in the US and Europe have increasingly decried radical extremism on the internet and have attempted to enlist internet companies in a fight to suppress it.
Many of those companies have been receptive to the idea and already have procedures to block violent and hateful content. Neither Facebook and Google would confirm automation of these efforts to Reuters, which relied on two anonymous sources who are "familiar with the process"... The secret identification and automated blocking of extremist speech would raise new, serious questions about the cooperation of private corporations with censorious governmental interests.
Reuters calls it "a major step forward for internet companies that are eager to eradicate violent propaganda from their sites and are under pressure to do so from governments around the world as attacks by extremists proliferate, from Syria to Belgium and the United States." They also report that the move follows pressure from an anti-extremism group "founded by, among others, Frances Townsend, who advised former president George W. Bush on homeland security, and Mark Wallace, who was deputy campaign manager for the Bush 2004 re-election campaign."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I'll-be-seeing-you department
schwit1 quotes the MIT Technology Review: The FBI has access to nearly 412 million photos in its facial recognition system—perhaps including the one on your driver's license. But according to a new government watchdog report, the bureau doesn't know how error-prone the system is, or whether it enhances or hinders investigations.
Since 2011, the bureau has quietly been using this system to compare new images, such as those taken from surveillance cameras, against a large set of photos to look for a match. That set of existing images is not limited to the FBI's own database, which includes some 30 million photos. The bureau also has access to face recognition systems used by law enforcement agencies in 16 different states, and it can tap into databases from the Department of State and the Department of Defense. And it is in negotiations with 18 other states to be able to search their databases, too...
Adding to the privacy concerns is another finding in the GAO report: that the FBI has not properly determined how often its system makes errors and has not "taken steps to determine whether face recognition systems used by external partners, such as states and federal agencies, are sufficiently accurate" to support investigations.Read Replies (0)