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  • Justice Department: Default Encryption Has Created a 'Zone of Lawlessness'

    Jason Koebler writes: Leslie Caldwell, an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, said Tuesday that the department is "very concerned" by the Google's and Apple's decision to automatically encrypt all data on Android and iOS devices.

    "We understand the value of encryption and the importance of security," she said. "But we're very concerned they not lead to the creation of what I would call a 'zone of lawlessness,' where there's evidence that we could have lawful access through a court order that we're prohibited from getting because of a company's technological choices.

    161 comments | 2 hours ago

  • The iPad Is 5 Years Old This Week, But You Still Don't Need One

    HughPickens.com writes: Five years ago, Steve Jobs introduced the iPad and insisted that it would do many things better than either a laptop or a smartphone. Will Oremus writes at Future Tense that by most standards, the iPad has been a success, and the tablet has indeed emerged as a third category of computing device. But there's another way of looking at the iPad. According to Oremus, Jobs was right to leave out the productivity features and go big on the simple tactile pleasure of holding the Internet in your hands.

    But for all its popularity and appeal, the iPad never has quite cleared the bar Jobs set for it, which was to be "far better" at some key tasks than a laptop or a smartphone. The iPad may have been "far better" when it was first released, but smartphones have come a long way. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and their Android equivalents are now convenient enough for most mobile computing tasks that there's no need to carry around a tablet as well. That helps explain why iPad sales have plateaued, rather than continuing to ascend to the stratospheric levels of the iPhone. "The iPad remains an impressive machine. But it also remains a luxury item rather than a necessity," concludes Oremus. "Again, by most standards, it is a major success. Just not by the high standards that Jobs himself set for it five years ago."

    166 comments | 2 hours ago

  • Embedded Linux Conference Headlined By Drones

    DeviceGuru writes: The Linux Foundation has released the full agenda for its annual North American Embedded Linux Conference + Android Builders Summit, which takes place Mar. 23-25 in San Jose, Calif. The ELC, which this year is titled Drones, Things, and Automobiles, increasingly reflects new opportunities for Linux in areas such as drones, robots, automotive computers, IoT gizmos, 3D sensing, modular phones, and much more. For those worried that ELC is skimping on the basics as it explores the more colorful sides of Linux, worry not, as there are still plenty of sessions on booting, trace analysis, NAND support, PHY frameworks, power management, defragmenting, systemd, device tree, and toolchain.

    17 comments | 10 hours ago

  • Google Explains Why WebView Vulnerability Will Go Unpatched On Android 4.3

    MojoKid writes If you're running Android 4.3 or earlier, you're pretty much out of luck when it comes to a baked-in defense against a WebView vulnerability that was discovered earlier this month by security analyst Tod Beardsley. The vulnerability leaves millions of users open to attack from hackers that choose to exploit the security hole. WebView is a core component of the Android operating system that renders web pages. The good news is that the version of WebView included in Android 4.4 KitKat and Android 5.0 Lollipop is based on Chromium and is not affected by the vulnerability. The bad news is that those running Android 4.3 and earlier are wide open, which means that 60 percent of Android users (or nearly one billion customers) are affected. What's most interesting is that Google has no trouble tossing grenades at the feet of Microsoft and Apple courtesy of its Project Zero program, but doesn't seem to have the resources to fix a vulnerability that affects a substantial portion of the Android user base.

    553 comments | 2 days ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

    An anonymous reader writes In the recent Slashdot discussion on the D programming language, I was surprised to see criticisms of Pascal that were based on old information and outdated implementations. While I'm sure that, for example, Brian Kernighan's criticisms of Pascal were valid in 1981, things have moved on since then. Current Object Pascal largely addresses Kernighan's critique and also includes language features such as anonymous methods, reflection and attributes, class helpers, generics and more (see also Marco Cantu's recent Object Pascal presentation). Cross-platform development is fairly straightforward with Pascal. Delphi targets Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. Free Pascal targets many operating systems and architectures and Lazarus provides a Delphi-like IDE for Free Pascal. So what do you think? Is Pascal underrated?

    479 comments | 2 days ago

  • Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

    DW100 writes In a bizarre public blog post the CEO of BlackBerry, John Chen, has claimed that net neutrality laws should include forcing app developers to make their services available on all operating systems. Chen even goes as far as citing Apple's iMessage tool as a service that should be made available for BlackBerry, because at present the lack of an iMessage BlackBerry app is holding the firm back. Some excerpts from Chen's plea: Netflix, which has forcefully advocated carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. ... Neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system. Since "content providers" are writing code they think makes sense for one reason or another (expected returns financial or psychic), a mandate to write more code seems like a good way to re-learn why contract law frowns on specific performance.

    307 comments | about a week ago

  • Could Tizen Be the Next Android?

    MollsEisley writes: Right now, Tizen is still somewhat half-baked, which is why you shouldn't expect to see a high-end Tizen smartphone hit your local carrier for a while yet, but Samsung's priorities could change rapidly. If Tizen development speeds up a bit, the OS could become a stand-in for Android on entry-level and mid-range Samsung phones and eventually take over Samsung's entire smartphone (and tablet) lineup.

    241 comments | about a week ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Can I Trust Android Rooting Tools?

    Qbertino writes After a long period of evaluation and weighing cons and pros I've gotten myself a brand new Android tablet (10" Lenovo Yoga 2, Android Version) destined to be my prime mobile computing device in the future. As any respectable freedom-loving geek/computer-expert I want to root it to be able to install API spoofing libraries and security tools to give me owners power over the machine and prevent services like Google and others spying on me, my files, photos, calendar and contacts. I also want to install an ad-blocking proxy (desperately needed — I forgot how much the normal web sucks!). I've searched for some rooting advice and tools, and so far have only stumbled on shady looking sites that offer various Windows-based rooting kits for android devices.

    What's the gist on all this? How much of this stuff is potential malware? What are your experiences? Can I usually trust rooting strategies to be malware-free? Is there a rule-of-thumb for this? Is there perhaps a more generic way for a FOSS/Linux expert who isn't afraid of the CLI to root any Android 4.4 (Kitkat) device? Advice and own experiences, please.

    184 comments | about two weeks ago

  • The Free Educational Software GCompris Comes To Android

    New submitter xarma writes GCompris is a reference in its category on GNU/Linux but also on Windows. Its development started in 2000 in Gtk+. Last year the development team, willing to address the tablet and PC users from a single code base, took the hard decision to fully rewrite it in Qt Quick. The new version is now developed under the KDE community umbrella. After one year of work, a first release has been shipped on the Android play store. Continuing on its original funding approach, it remains free software but requires a fee on proprietary platforms.

    75 comments | about two weeks ago

  • The 'Radio Network of Things' Can Cut Electric Bills (Video)

    We all love 'The Internet of Things.' Now imagine appliances, such as your refrigerator and hot water heater, getting radio messages from the power grid telling them when they should turn on and off to get the best electricity prices. Now kick that up to the electric company level, and give them a radio network that tells them which electric provider to get electricity from at what time to get the best (wholesale) price. This is what e-Radio is doing. They make this claim: "Using pre-existing and near ubiquitous radio signals can save billions of dollars, reduce environmental impact, add remote addressability and reap additional significant societal benefits."

    Timothy noticed these people at CES. They were one of the least flashy and least "consumer-y" exhibitors. But saving electricity by using it efficiently, while not glamorous, is at least as important as a $6000 Android phone. Note that the guy e-Radio had at CES speaking to Timothy was Scott Cuthbertson, their Chief Financial Officer. It's a technology-driven company, from Founder and CEO Jackson Wang on down, but in the end, saving money is what they sell. (Alternate Video Link)

    172 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Google Releases More Windows Bugs

    An anonymous reader writes: Just days after Google angered Microsoft by releasing information about a Windows security flaw, they've now released two more. "The more serious of the two allows an attacker to impersonate an authorized user, and then decrypt or encrypt data on a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 device. Google reported that bug to Microsoft on Oct. 17, 2014, and made some background information and a proof-of-concept exploit public on Thursday. Project Zero is composed of several Google security engineers who investigate not only the company's own software, but that of other vendors as well. After reporting a flaw, Project Zero starts a 90-day clock, then automatically publicly posts details and sample attack code if the bug has not been patched." Microsoft says there's no evidence these flaws have been successfully exploited.

    262 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Your High School Wants You To Install Snapchat

    Bennett Haselton writes: They would never admit it, but your high school admins would probably breathe a sigh of relief if all of their sexting-mad students would go ahead and install Snapchat so that evidence of (sometimes) illegal sexting would disappear into the ether. They can't recommend that you do this, because it would sound like an implicit endorsement, just like they can't recommend designated drivers for teen drinking parties -- but it's a good bet they would be grateful. Read on for the rest.

    157 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Google Aims To Be Your Universal Translator

    mpicpp sends word about Google's latest translate technology. "Google is beaming a bit closer to Star Trek's universal translator with the newest edition of its Translate app. Rolling out over the next few days for iOS and Android users, the latest version of Google Translate offers two key features — the ability to instantly converse with someone speaking in a different language and the capability to translate street signs and other images into your native language. Both features have been available in the Android app to some extent. For example, Google Translate for Android has long offered real-time translation of conversations. But Google's goal behind the latest version of the app is to enhance and simplify the features so they work more quickly and fluidly without any lag time. The latest version of Google Translate aims to change that. To converse with someone speaking in a different language, a user chooses his language and that of the other speaker. He then taps the microphone icon in the app, starts speaking in his native or selected language, and then taps the mic icon again. The app will recognize which of the two languages is being spoken, and then the two speakers can carry on their conversation without having to keep tapping the mic. In a test of the app's instant translation, The New York Times said it did prove to be a step forward; though, it's not science fiction just yet. The app fared best with short sentences that didn't include jargon, and it worked better when the users paused between each translation. Google also has beefed up the app's ability to translate street signs. Previously, you'd have to take a photo of the foreign text to get a translation of it. Now, you simply point your camera at the sign and the translated text appears overlaid on your screen — even if you're not connected to the Internet. This feature is made possible courtesy of Quest Visual's Word Lens app for iOS and Android, which Google acquired when it purchased the company last May. This feature supports English translated to and from French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Google says it's working to add more languages."

    122 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Firefox 35 Arrives With MP4 Playback On Mac, Android Download Manager Support

    An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Firefox 35 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Major additions to the browser include room-based Firefox Hello conversations, H.264 (MP4 files) playback on OS X, and integration with the Android download manager. Mozilla has opened up the Firefox Marketplace for the desktop, currently in beta. While Firefox Marketplace is already available on Firefox OS and Firefox for Android, the company is now asking users to help test apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Full changelogs: desktop and Android.

    177 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Talk to the World Through Ubi -- and Use Gestures, Too (Video)

    'The Ubi is an always-on voice-activated computer ready to help. Just plug it in, talk to it and it'll help you connect with your world.' That Kickstarter project description back in 2012 helped UBI raise $229,594 even though they only hoped for $36,000. So now they sell Ubis for $299, as you can see for yourself by clicking the "BUY NOW" button in the upper right corner of www.TheUbi.com, their site's main page. A cynic might say that a decent Android phone can perform most Ubi functions, including a growing number of home automation control tasks, and that Android voice recognition gets better with each new release. But Ubi is cute, and round, and "you can talk through it to the ones you love."

    That's great, but Android phones can do that, too. What a smartphone can't do is compete with Ubi Interactive, which may finally give us gesture-based computer input that is not only exciting in a Star Trek way, but is also practical for home and business use. This, along with Kinect, looks like a product that has a solid future ahead of it. (Alternate Video Link)

    38 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Google Throws Microsoft Under Bus, Then Won't Patch Android Flaw

    An anonymous reader writes Last month, Google took the bold steps to release the details of a security vulnerability ahead of Microsoft. Microsoft responded and said that there was a patch in works which was set to be released two days after Google went live with the details. Microsoft accuses Google for refusing to wait an extra 48 hours so that the patch would have been released along with the details of the exploit. Now, let's see what is happening on the Google side of software development. Recently, an exploit has been uncovered in the WebView component of Android 4.3 — estimated to cover roughly 60% of Android install base — and Google is saying that they will not patch the flaw. Google's only reasoning seems to be that they are not fixing vulnerabilities in 4.3 (introduced in June 2012) anymore, as they have moved focus to newer releases. It would appear that over 930 million Android phones in use are out of official Google security patch support.

    629 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Is Kitkat Killing Lollipop Uptake?

    BarbaraHudson writes Remember how Windows XP was "good enough" that people took forever to upgrade? The same might be happening with Kitkat vs Lollipop. "According to Google's latest Google Play Store results for early January 2015, less than 0.1 percent of all Android devices were using Lollipop. By comparison, the last major Android release 4.4, KitKat, reached 1.1 percent of its audience in its first month out. In January 2015, almost two months in for Lollipop, KitKat is still number one with 39.1 percent of the market. It's followed by the various Jelly Bean versions, 4.1.x with 19.2 percent; 4.2.x with 20.3 percent, and 4.3 with 6.5 percent. Trailing them is Ice Cream Sandwich, 4.03-04 with 7.8 percent, followed by antique Froyo, 2.2, with 0.4 percent."

    437 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Sony Thinks You'll Pay $1200 For a Digital Walkman

    An anonymous reader writes: The Walkman is one of the most recognizable pieces of technology from the 1980s. Unfortunately for Sony, it didn't survive the switch to digital, and they discontinued it in 2010. Last year, they quietly reintroduced the Walkman brand as a "high-resolution audio player," supporting lossless codecs and better audio-related hardware. At $300, it seemed a bit pricey. But now, at the Consumer Electronics Show, Sony has loudly introduced its high-end digital Walkman, and somehow decided to price it at an astronomical $1,200.

    What will all that money get you? 128GB of onboard storage and a microSD slot to go with it. There's a large touchscreen, and the device runs Android — but it uses version 4.2 Jelly Bean, which came out in 2012. It also supports Bluetooth and NFC. Sony claims the device has 33 hours of battery life when playing FLAC files, and 60 hours when playing MP3s. They appear to be targeting audiophiles — their press release includes phrasing about how pedestrian MP3 encoding will "compromise the purity of the original signal."

    391 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Netflix Cracks Down On VPN and Proxy "Pirates"

    An anonymous reader sends this unfortunate report from TorrentFreak: Due to complicated licensing agreements Netflix is only available in a few dozen countries, all of which have a different content library. Some people bypass these content and access restrictions by using VPNs or other circumvention tools that change their geographical location. This makes it easy for people all around the world to pay for access to the U.S. version of Netflix, for example. The movie studios are not happy with these deviant subscribers as it hurts their licensing agreements. ... Over the past weeks Netflix has started to take action against people who use certain circumvention tools. The Android application started to force Google DNS which now makes it harder to use DNS based location unblockers, and several VPN IP-ranges were targeted as well.

    437 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Unofficial WhatsApp Library Gets End To End Encryption Before Official Clients

    An anonymous reader writes Earlier last year WhatsApp announced partnership with Open WhisperSystems to integrate the ratcheting forward secrecy protocol found in their app called TextSecure, into WhatsApp. The protocol is supposed to provide end-to-end encryption between WhatsApp clients. So far it has been implemented only in WhatsApp on Android, with the rest of platforms yet to come. The implementation however has already made it into unofficial WhatsApp libraries which allow developers to use WhatsApp service in their applications, starting with a python-library called yowsup, and the rest will follow. It's worth mentioning that none of those libraries are supported nor approved by WhatsApp, so one has to wonder if WhatsApp is going to take some legal action (again) against them.

    29 comments | about a month ago

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