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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Music

Apple Outrages Users By Automatically Installing U2's Album On Their Devices 609

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-not-want dept.
Zanadou writes "Apple may have succeeded at breaking two records at once with the free release of U2's latest album, titled Songs of Innocence, via iTunes. But now, it looks like it's also on track to become one of the worst music publicity stunts of all time. Users who have opted to download new purchases to their iPhones automatically have found the new U2 album sitting on their phones. But even if iTunes users hadn't chosen automatic downloads, Songs of Innocence will still be displayed as an "iTunes in the Cloud" purchase. That means it will still be shown as part of your music library, even if you delete all the tracks. The only way to make the U2 album go away is to go to your Mac or PC and hide all of your "iTunes in the Cloud" purchases, or to use iTunes to manually hide each track from your purchased items list. Other reactions include rapper Tyler, The Creator saying that having the new U2 album automatically downloaded on his iPhone was like waking up with an STD. Update: 09/16 15:06 GMT by T : Note: Apple has released a fix.
Displays

Oculus Rift CEO Says Classrooms of the Future Will Be In VR Goggles 182

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-and-learn dept.
jyosim writes "Oculus Rift isn't just for gaming. Brendan Iribe, CEO of the VR company, says the immersive tech will be "one of the most transformative platforms for education of all time." In an interview with Chronicle of Higher Education, he imagined laser-scanning every object in the Smithsonian for students to explore, and collaborating in shared virtual spaces rather than campuses. "The next step past that is when you have shared space, and not only do you believe that this object is right there in front of me, but I look around and I see other people just like we see each other now, and I really, truly believe that you’re right in front of me. We can look at each others’ eyes. If you look down at something, I can look down at the same time. And it’s every bit as good as this. And if we can make virtual reality every bit as good as real reality in terms of communications and the sense of shared presence with others, you can now educate people in virtual classrooms, you can now educate people with virtual objects, and we can all be in a classroom together [virtually], we can all be present, we can have relationships and communication that are just as good as the real classroom," he says.
Security

High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint 599

Posted by Soulskill
from the amazed-he-hasn't-been-expelled dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Kai Kloepfer is a 17-year-old high school student from Colorado who just won the Smart Tech for Firearms Challenge. Kloepfer designed and built a smart gun that will only unlock and fire for users who supply the proper fingerprints. "The gun works by creating a user ID and locking in the fingerprint of each user allowed to use the gun. The gun will only unlock with the unique fingerprint of those who have already permission to access the gun. ... According to him, all user data is kept right on the gun and nothing is uploaded anywhere else so it would be pretty hard to hack." The gun can have up to 999 authorized users, and its accuracy at detecting fingerprints is 99.99%. For winning the challenge, he won $50,000 in funding to continue developing the smart gun. Some of the fund have already gone toward 3-D printing portions of the prototype.
Privacy

Justice Sotomayor Warns Against Tech-Enabled "Orwellian" World 166

Posted by Soulskill
from the trading-privacy-for-convenience dept.
An anonymous reader writes: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke on Thursday to faculty and students at the University of Oklahoma City about the privacy perils brought on by modern technology. She warned that the march of technological progress comes with a need to enact privacy protections if we want to avoid living in an "Orwellian world" of constant surveillance. She said, "There are drones flying over the air randomly that are recording everything that's happening on what we consider our private property. That type of technology has to stimulate us to think about what is it that we cherish in privacy and how far we want to protect it and from whom. Because people think that it should be protected just against government intrusion, but I don't like the fact that someone I don't know can pick up, if they're a private citizen, one of these drones and fly it over my property."
Canada

Drone-Based Businesses: Growing In Canada, Grounded In the US 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-forward-to-hockey-drones dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As small drones become affordable, and as clever people come up with ideas on how to use them, we've been hearing about more and more plans for drone-based business. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration was quick to shut down such ideas in order to give themselves time to regulate the nascent industry. Not so, in Canada. Thanks to a simple permit system, anyone wanting to use a drone for commercial purposes can do so in Canada by simply applying and waiting a few weeks. Around 1,500 of these permits have been granted already, and Canada's private drone industry is flourishing as a result. Drones have been used for agriculture analysis, TV production, real estate photography, law enforcement, and many other tasks.
Patents

Software Patents Are Crumbling, Thanks To the Supreme Court 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the system-and-method-for-smacking-trolls dept.
walterbyrd writes: In June, when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a software patent, many in the tech industry hoped it would be the beginning of sweeping changes to how the patent system handles software. Just a few months later, lower courts are making it happen. Quoting Vox: "By my count there have been 10 court rulings on the patentability of software since the Supreme Court's decision — including six that were decided this month. Every single one of them has led to the patent being invalidated. This doesn't necessarily mean that all software patents are in danger — these are mostly patents that are particularly vulnerable to challenge under the new Alice precedent. But it does mean that the pendulum of patent law is now clearly swinging in an anti-patent direction. Every time a patent gets invalidated, it strengthens the bargaining position of every defendant facing a lawsuit from a patent troll." Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports on alleged corruption in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Crime

Turning the Tables On "Phone Tech Support" Scammers 210

Posted by timothy
from the mouthwatering-shadenfreude dept.
mask.of.sanity writes A security pro has released a Metasploit module that can take over computers running the Ammyy Admin remote control software popular among "Hi this is Microsoft, there's a problem with your computer" tech support scammers. The hack detailed in Matthew Weeks' technical post works from the end-user, meaning victims can send scammers the hijacking exploit when they request access to their machines. Victims should provide scammers with their external IP addresses rather than their Ammyy identity numbers as the exploit was not yet built to run over the Ammyy cloud, according to the exploit readme. This is much more efficient than just playing along but "accidentally" being unable to follow their instructions.
United States

U.S. Threatened Massive Fine To Force Yahoo To Release Data 223

Posted by timothy
from the your-government-at-work dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes The U.S. government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day in 2008 if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user data that the company believed was unconstitutional, according to court documents unsealed Thursday that illuminate how federal officials forced American tech companies to participate in the NSA's controversial PRISM program. The documents, roughly 1,500 pages worth, outline a secret and ultimately unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government's demands. The company's loss required Yahoo to become one of the first to begin providing information to PRISM, a program that gave the National Security Agency extensive access to records of online communications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms.
Microsoft

Microsoft Paid NFL $400 Million To Use Surface, But Announcers Call Them iPads 405

Posted by Soulskill
from the free-advertising dept.
mpicpp sends this news from Business Insider: Prior to the season, Microsoft and the NFL struck a 5-year, $400 million deal with one of the major components being that the Microsoft Surface would become "the official tablet of the NFL," with coaches and players using the Surface on the sidelines during games. But Microsoft and the league ran into a problem during week one of the season when at least two television announcers mistakenly referred to the tablets as iPads, giving a huge rival some unexpected exposure. The biggest blunder for the league came during the nationally televised Monday Night Football game when ESPN's Trent Dilfer joked about how long it took Cardinals assistant head coach Tom Moore to "learn how to use the iPad to scroll through the pictures." In a separate incident, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints was spotted by Fox commentator John Lynch using a Surface on the sideline. Lynch remarked that Brees was "not watching movies on his iPad.
Software

Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using? 471

Posted by Soulskill
from the an-app-that-gives-it-infinite-battery-life dept.
An anonymous reader writes: It's official: the smartwatch wars have begun. Apple's announcement of the Apple Watch added a contender to the race already shaping up between the Pebble watch, the Moto 360, and others. Personally, my doubts about wanting one were put to rest when I learned of the health-related features. Smartwatches will be able to track your movements and pulse rate, calculate how many calories you burn, and coach you continuously to improve your fitness.

If you have one or plan on buying one, what apps or functions do you see yourself getting the most use from? If you're still skeptical, what would it take? (If an app developer sees your requirements here on Slashdot, your wish might come true.)
Crime

Using Wearable Tech To Track Gun Use 264

Posted by Soulskill
from the put-on-this-watch-before-you-shoot-me-please dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A debate has been raging recently over whether or not to equip police with body cameras so that instances of violence in the line of duty can be monitored. It's an important discussion to have, but we should also look at other technologies that could help provide hard data on gun incidents. A new paper was recently published in PLOS ONE about the use of wristband accelerometers to detect when the wearer has fired a gun. Study author and criminology professor Charles Loeffler said, "A gunshot is pretty distinctive. You're typically at rest because you're trying to aim, and in a split second, your hand, wrist, and arm experience an impulsive transfer of energy." Loeffler suggests a suite of sensors including GPS and the wristband accelerometer could be given to convicts as a requirement for their parole. Not only would this help with police response in case of recidivism, but it could provide additional deterrent to further crimes. It could also be helpful to police departments, both for accountability and for integration between the police and the courts.
Transportation

Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled 364

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-about-a-self-destruct-feature dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A District Attorney in Long Island, NY is stepping up efforts to combat distracted driving. Kathleen Rice says motorists who are caught texting while driving should have hardware or apps installed on their phone to prevent them from using it at all while driving. She likened such barriers to the ignition interlock devices that prevent people convicted of drunk driving from using their cars unless they're sober. "Hardware and software solutions that block texting during driving are currently produced by various manufacturers and software developers, and are constantly under development. The DA's office does not endorse any particular company and is in the process of reviewing specific solutions based on their features and services. Critical features include security measures to make the solutions tamper-proof, and data integrity measures to ensure accurate reporting to courts, law enforcement, parents, and guardians." New York is one of many states who already have laws banning all handheld use while driving.
Microsoft

Microsoft Agrees To Contempt Order So It Can Appeal Email Privacy Case 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the fighting-the-privacy-fight dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft made news some weeks ago for refusing to hand over customer emails stored on its Dublin, Ireland servers to the U.S. government. The district judge presiding over the case agreed with the government and ordered Microsoft to comply with its demands. On Monday, Microsoft struck a deal with the U.S. government in which the company would be held on contempt charges but would not be penalized for it until after the outcome of an appeal. The district judge endorsed the agreement (PDF) on Thursday.
Data Storage

WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives 296

Posted by Soulskill
from the ballooning-storage-capacity dept.
Lucas123 writes: Western Digital's HGST subsidiary today announced it's shipping its first 8TB and the world's first 10TB helium-filled hard drive. The 3.5-in, 10TB drive also marks HGST's first foray into the use of shingled magnetic recording technology, which Seagate began using last year. Unlike standard perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR), where data tracks rest side by side, SMR overlaps the tracks on a platter like shingles on a roof, thereby allowing a higher areal density. Seagate has said SMR technology will allow it to achieve 20TB drives by 2020. That company has yet to use helium, however. HGST said its use of hermetically-sealed helium drives reduces friction among moving drive components and keeps dust out. Both drives use a 7-platter configuration with a 7200 RPM spindle speed. The company said it plans to discontinue its production of air-only drives by 2017, replacing all data center models with helium drives.
Networking

Device Boots Drones, Google Glass Off Wi-Fi 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-don't-want-your-kind-around-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Amid the backlash against spy-eye drones as well as wearable cameras like Google Glass, one company is building a device to fight back. The Cyborg Unplug actively scans for drones or Google Glass on a local wireless network and blocks their traffic. They're billing it as an "anti-surveillance system" and marketing it toward businesses, restaurants, and schools. They take pains to note that it's not a jammer, instead sending copies of a de-authentication packet usually sent by a router when it disconnects a device. The device can, however, force devices to disconnect from any network, which they warn may be illegal in some places.
EU

European Commission Reopens Google Antitrust Investigation 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-be-evil-in-europe dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, European Commission regulators finally agreed to a settlement in the organization's long-running antitrust investigation of Google's search and advertising business. Unfortunately for Google, it didn't stick. The EC said today they're reopening the investigation after a large number of "very negative" complaints about the settlement. "The key objection to the proposed settlement, which would have allowed rival services to buy spaces at the top of search results pages, was that it would not prevent Google from favoring its own services, and would divert money from the rivals to Google even if they received clickthroughs from the adverts — rather than the zero-cost solution if they were ranked highly in 'organic' search results, and Google was prevented from putting its own commercial services above those." The Commission is also looking into other parts of Google's business, including its influence over mobile devices through Android.
Advertising

Comcast Using JavaScript Injection To Serve Ads On Public Wi-Fi Hotspots 230

Posted by Soulskill
from the perfectly-in-character dept.
An anonymous reader writes: For some time now, Comcast has setting up public Wi-Fi hotspots, some of which are run on the routers of paying subscribers. The public hotspots are free, but not without cost: Comcast uses JavaScript to inject self-promotional ads into the pages served to users. "Security implications of the use of JavaScript can be debated endlessly, but it is capable of performing all manner of malicious actions, including controlling authentication cookies and redirecting where user data is submitted. ... Even if Comcast doesn't have any malicious intent, and even if hackers don't access the JavaScript, the interaction of the JavaScript with websites could "create" security vulnerabilities in websites, [EFF technologist Seth Schoen] said. "Their code, or the interaction of code with other things, could potentially create new security vulnerabilities in sites that didn't have them," Schoen said."
Cloud

Nonprofit Builds Salesforce Cloud For the Blind 13

Posted by samzenpus
from the build-it-better dept.
Gamoid writes When we talk about "accessibility" in tech, we're usually talking about things like mobile apps and API compatibility. But for the sizable percentage of the world's population with vision impairment or full blindness, "accessibility" means they can use a computer, phone, tablet, or whatever, in a way that's comfortable for them. There have been great strides in that area, but it's still a tremendous challenge. So it's worth pausing to appreciate the work that the 99-year-old Bosma Enterprises, an Indiana-based nonprofit with the mission of reducing the 70 percent unemployment rate among the visually impaired and blind, has put into building out an enterprise cloud -- based primarily on Salesforce, with a handful of other applications built in -- that can be used by people with any level of sightedness across any line of business.
Mars

NASA Panel Finds Fault WIth Curiosity Rover Project's Focus 51

Posted by timothy
from the look-away-look-away dept.
The Curiosity Rover that's been exploring the surface of Mars for more than two years now has a lot of fans (and quite a few headlines here on Slashdot), but not everyone feels positively toward the project. Tech Times reports that NASA revealed on Wednesday that it has renewed the funding of seven ongoing planetary exploration missions but of these, the space agency's Planetary Mission Senior Review panel, which reviewed and rated these planetary missions, was particularly critical of the Curiosity, which also happens to be the newest and the second costliest of the seven missions. The panel is disappointed that given the capabilities of the Curiosity rover, the team behind it only intends to take and analyze eight samples in two years, which translates to two samples from each of the four units it will visit during its extended mission. The Curiosity is the only NASA tool with the capabilities to detect carbon, do in situ age analysis, and measure ionizing particle flux.
HP

Silicon Valley Fights Order To Pay Bigger Settlement In Tech Talent Hiring Case 200

Posted by timothy
from the political-economy dept.
The Washington Post carries a story from the Associated Press that says the big companies hit hardest by Judge Lucy Koh's ruling in the "No Poaching" case have not suprisingly appealed that ruling, which found that a proposed settlement of $324.5 million to a class-action lawsuit was too low. The suit, filed on behalf of 60,000 high-tech workers allegedlly harmed by anti-competitive hiring practices, will probably enter its next phase next January or March. (Judge Koh is probably not very popular at Apple in particular.) If you're one of those workers (or in an analogous situation), what kind of compensation or punitive action do you think is fair?

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