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Businesses

Comcast To Charge $30 For Unlimited Data Over 300GB Cap 15

For some time, Comcast has been testing 300 GB monthly data caps in certain markets. An anonymous reader notes a policy change unveiled today that gives customers in those markets the ability to switch back to unlimited data for $30 extra. Previously (and currently, for customers who don't pay the extra $30), Comcast would charge $10 per 50GB above the cap. "Comcast's intent on this front has been clear for some time. Comcast lobbyist and VP David Cohen last year strongly suggested that usage caps would be arriving for all Comcast customers sooner or later. The idea of charging users a premium to avoid arbitrary usage restrictions has been a pipe dream of incumbent ISP executives for a decade." The new policy goes into effect on October 1.
Firefox

Video Mozilla Project Working on Immersive Displays (Video) 8

Yes, it's 3-D, and works with the Firefox browser. But that's not all. The MozVR virtual reality system is not just for Firefox, and it can incorporate infrared and other sensors to give a more complete picture than can be derived from visible light alone. In theory, the user's (client) computer needs no special hardware beyond a decent GPU and an Oculus Rift headset. Everything else lives on a server.

Is this the future of consumer displays? Even if not, the development is fun to watch, which you can start doing at mozvr.com -- and if you're serious about learning about this project you may want to read our interview transcript in addition to watching the video, because the transcript contains additional information.
Windows

Microsoft's Telemetry Additions To Windows 7 and 8 Raise Privacy Concerns 66

WheezyJoe writes: ghacks and Ars Technica are providing more detail about Windows 10's telemetry and "privacy invasion" features being backported to Windows 7 and 8. The articles list and explain some of the involved updates by number (e.g., KB3068708, KB3022345, KB3075249, and KB3080149). The Ars article says the Windows firewall can block the traffic just fine, and the service sending the telemetry can be disabled. "Additionally, most or all of the traffic appears to be contingent on participating in the CEIP in the first place. If the CEIP is disabled, it appears that little or no traffic gets sent. This may not always have been the case, however; the notes that accompany the 3080149 update say that the amount of network activity when not part of CEIP has been reduced." The ghacks article explains other ways block the unwanted traffic and uninstall the updates.
Media

Mozilla, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Others Form 'Alliance For Open Media' 46

BrianFagioli tips news that Mozilla, Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Intel, Amazon, and Netflix are teaming up to create the Alliance for Open Media, "an open-source project that will develop next-generation media formats, codecs and technologies in the public interest." Several of these companies have been working on this problem alone: Mozilla started Daala, Google has VP9 and VP10, and Cisco just recently announced Thor. Amazon and Netflix, of course, are major suppliers of online video streaming, so they have a vested interested in royalty-free codecs. They're inviting others to join them — the more technology and patents they get on their side, the less likely they'll run into the issues that Microsoft's VC-1 and Google's VP8 struggled with. "The Alliance will operate under W3C patent rules and release code under an Apache 2.0 license. This means all Alliance participants are waiving royalties both for the codec implementation and for any patents on the codec itself."
Security

Bugs In Belkin Routers Allow DNS Spoofing, Credential Theft 33

Trailrunner7 writes: The CERT/CC is warning users that some Belkin home routers contain a number of vulnerabilities that could allow an attacker to spoof DNS responses, intercept credentials sent in cleartext, access the web management interface, and take other actions on vulnerable routers. The vulnerabilities affect the Belkin N600 DB Wireless Dual Band N+ router, model F9K1102 v2 with firmware version 2.10.17, and potentially earlier versions of the firmware, as well. The vulnerabilities have not been patched by Belkin, the advisory from the CERT/CC says there aren't any practical workarounds for them. "DNS queries originating from the Belkin N600, such as those to resolve the names of firmware update and NTP servers, use predictable TXIDs that start at 0x0002 and increase incrementally. An attacker with the ability to spoof DNS responses can cause the router to contact incorrect or malicious hosts under the attacker's control," the advisory says.
Networking

Ask Slashdot: Can Any Wireless Tech Challenge Fiber To the Home? 115

New submitter danielmorrison writes: In Holland, MI (birthplace of Slashdot) we're working toward fiber to the home. A handful of people have asked why not go wireless instead? I know my reasons (speed, privacy, and we have an existing fiber loop) but are any wireless technologies good enough that cities should consider them? If so, what technologies and what cities have had success stories?
Stats

Windows 10 Grabs 5.21% Market Share, Passing Windows Vista and Windows 8 155

An anonymous reader writes: The effects of a free upgrade to Windows 10 are starting to trickle in. Available for just over a month, Windows 10 has now captured more than 5 percent market share, according to the latest figures from Net Applications. In just four weeks, Windows 10 has already been installed on over 75 million PCs. Microsoft is aiming to have 1 billion devices running Windows 10 "in two to three years," though that includes not just PCs, but smartphones, consoles, and other devices as well.
Communications

FBI: Burning Man Testing Ground For Free Speech, Drugs ... and New Spy Gear 152

v3rgEz writes: The 29th annual Burning Man festival kicks off this week in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. Among those paying close attention to the festivities will be the FBI's Special Events Management unit, who have kept files on "burners" since at least 2010. One of the more interesting things in those, files, however, is a lengthy, heavily redacted paragraph detailing that the FBI's Special Events Management Unit gave Las Vegas Police Department some specialized equipment for monitoring the week-long event, as long as LVPD provided follow up reports.
Power

Gaming Computers Offer Huge, Untapped Energy Savings Potential 175

Required Snark writes: According to Phys.org, a study by Evan Mills at Berkeley Lab shows that "gamers can achieve energy savings of more than 75 percent by changing some settings and swapping out some components, while also improving reliability and performance" because "your average gaming computer is like three refrigerators." Gaming computers represent only 2.5 percent of the global installed personal computer (PC) base but account for 20 percent of the energy use. Mills estimated that gaming computers consumed 75 TWh of electricity globally in 2012, or $10 billion, and projects that will double by 2020 given current sales rates and without efficiency improvements. Potential estimated savings of $18 billion per year globally by 2020, or 120 terawatt hours (TWh) are possible. Mills started the site GreeningtheBeast.org. You can read the full paper as a PDF.
Technology

Shape-Shifting Navigation Device Points You In the Right Direction 33

Zothecula writes: Developed by Yale engineer Adam Spiers, the Animotus is a wirelessly-connected, 3D printed cube that changes shape to help direct you like a haptic compass. Gizmag reports: " Spiers designed Animotus when he was involved in a performance of Flatland, an interactive play based on Edwin A. Abbott's 1884 story of a two-dimensional world. As part of the stage production, audience members – both sighted and visually impaired – were kept in complete darkness and walked four at a time though the performance space with narrative voice overs and sound effects telling the story as they wandered through. In their hands, each participant held an Animotus that guided them by changing shape to point them in the right direction. With a multi-sectioned body created in a 3D printer, that Animotus alters shape in response to wireless instructions to indicate the user’s position in their environment. To do this, the top half of the cube twists around to point users toward their next destination and then slides forward to give a relative indication of the distance to get there. As a result, rather than having to look at a device, such as the screen of a smartphone, the user was able to determine their path by touch."
Medicine

Sensor Predicts Which Donated Lungs Will Fail After Transplant 20

the_newsbeagle writes: A lung transplant can be a life-saving intervention—but sometimes the donated lung stops working inside the recipient's body. This "graft dysfunction" is the leading cause of death for transplant patients in the early days after surgery. While lab tests can look for genetic biomarkers of inflammation and other warning signs in a donated lung, such tests take 6-12 hours in a typical hospital. That's too slow to be useful. Now, researchers at University of Toronto have invented a chip-based biosensor that can do quick on-the-spot genetic tests, providing an assessment of a lung's viability within 30 minutes.
Bitcoin

Beyond Bitcoin: How Business Can Capitalize On Blockchains 57

snydeq writes: Bitcoin's widely trusted ledger offers intriguing possibilities for business use beyond cryptocurrency, writes InfoWorld's Peter Wayner. "From the beginning, bitcoin has assumed a shadowy, almost outlaw mystique," Wayner writes. "Even the mathematics of the technology are inscrutable enough to believe the worst. The irony is that the mathematical foundations of bitcoin create a solid record of legitimate ownership that may be more ironclad against fraud than many of the systems employed by businesses today. Plus, the open, collaborative way in which bitcoin processes transactions ensures the kind of network of trust that is essential to any business agreement."
Space

World's Most Powerful Digital Camera Sees Construction Green Light 81

An anonymous reader writes: The Department of Energy has approved the construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telecscope's 3.2-gigapixel digital camera, which will be the most advanced in the world. When complete the camera will weigh more than three tons and take such high resolution pictures that it would take 1,500 high-definition televisions to display one of them. According to SLAC: "Starting in 2022, LSST will take digital images of the entire visible southern sky every few nights from atop a mountain called Cerro Pachón in Chile. It will produce a wide, deep and fast survey of the night sky, cataloging by far the largest number of stars and galaxies ever observed. During a 10-year time frame, LSST will detect tens of billions of objects—the first time a telescope will observe more galaxies than there are people on Earth – and will create movies of the sky with unprecedented details. Funding for the camera comes from the DOE, while financial support for the telescope and site facilities, the data management system, and the education and public outreach infrastructure of LSST comes primarily from the National Science Foundation (NSF)."
Windows

The Long Reach of Windows 95 327

jfruh writes: I'm a Mac guy — have been ever since the '80s. When Windows 95 was released 20 years ago, I was among those who sneered that "Windows 95 is Macintosh 87." But now, as I type these words on a shiny new iMac, I can admit that my UI — and indeed the computing landscape in general — owes a lot to Windows 95, the most influential operating system that ever got no respect. ITWorld reports: "... even though many techies tend to dismiss UI innovation as eye candy, the fact is that the changes made in Windows 95 were incredibly successful in making the the system more accessible to users -- so successful, in fact, that a surprising number of them have endured and even spread to other operating systems. We still live in the world Windows 95 made. When I asked people on Twitter their thoughts about what aspects of Windows 95 have persisted, I think Aaron Webb said it best: 'All of it? Put a 15 year old in front of 3.1 and they would be lost. In front of Windows 95 they would be able to do any task quickly.'"
Government

Cities Wasting Millions of Taxpayer's Money In Failed IoT Pilots 145

dkatana writes: Two years ago at the Smart Cities Expo World Congress, Antoni Vives, then Barcelona's second deputy mayor, said he refused to have more technology pilots in the city: "I hate pilots, if anyone of you [technology companies] comes to me selling a pilot, just get away, I don't want to see you." He added, "I am fed up with the streets full of devices. It is a waste of time, a waste of money, and doesn't deliver anything; it is just for the sake of selling something to the press and it does not work."

Barcelona is already a leading city in the use of IoT and, according to Fortune, "The most wired city in the world". Over the past 10 years, the city has experienced a surge in the number of sensors, data collection devices and automation and has become "a showcase for the smart metropolis of the future". Over the past few years technology companies have sold pilot programs costing millions of dollars to cities all over the world, claiming it will enhance their "Smart City" rating. Unfortunately, after the initial buzz, many of those pilots never get beyond the evaluation stage and are abandoned because the cities cannot afford them in the first place.
Google

Google Facing Fine of Up To $1.4 Billion In India Over Rigged Search Results 150

An anonymous reader writes: The Competition Commission of India has opened an investigation into Google to decide whether the company unfairly prioritized search results to its own services. Google could face a fine of up to $1.4 billion — 10% of its net income in 2014. A number of other internet companies, including Facebook and FlipKart, responded to queries from the CCI by confirming that Google does this. "The CCI's report accuses Google of displaying its own content and services more prominently in search results than other sources that have higher hit rates. It also states that sponsored links shown in search results are dependent on the amount of advertising funds Google receives from its clients. Ecommerce portal Flipkart noted that it found search results to have a direct correlation with the amount of money it spent on advertising with Google." The company has faced similar antitrust concerns in the EU and the U.S
Government

Where the Tech Industry's Political Donations Are Going 128

An anonymous reader writes: Early estimates suggest the 2016 U.S. presidential election will result in $5-10 billion in spending by candidates and organizations — much more than ever before. To support this, they need lots of contributions, and the tech industry is becoming a significant player. (Not as much as the financial industry, of course, but tech's influence is growing.) Re/Code breaks down which candidates are getting the most money from the tech sector so far. Right now, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has gotten the most tech money by far — more than the rest of the field combined, thanks in large part to Larry Ellison. Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, is a distant second, followed closely by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) are the only other candidates with significant tech contributions so far. Carly Fiorina, a tech industry veteran, has only managed about $13,000 in donations.
The Internet

Metal Gear Solid V PC Disc Contains Steam Installer, Nothing Else 173

dotarray writes: The boxed copy of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain reportedly contains nothing but a Steam installer. That's right, even if you fork out real-world money for a physical copy of the game, you'll still have to download the whole thing from the internet. The game officially launches tomorrow. Early critical reviews are quite positive, though you should take that with a grain of salt until the game is more widely distributed. Game Informer says, "Unlike the linear design of previous entries, The Phantom Pain rarely assumes you have particular weapons and equipment, so the missions are brilliantly designed with multiple paths to success." The Washington Post notes, "The Phantom Pain’s openness feels like Kojima finally found a technical platform broad enough to make use of all of those tools and trusts players to build their own narrative drama from the way they choose to put these tools together for each mission." IGN has this criticism: "... where Phantom Pain’s gameplay systems are far richer and meatier than any the series has ever seen, its story feels insubstantial and woefully underdeveloped by comparison." Metal Gear Solid 5 is launching for PCs, current consoles, and previous-gen consoles; Digital Foundry thinks is likely to be the last true cross-generation AAA title.
Networking

OnHub Router -- Google's Smart Home Trojan Horse? 121

An anonymous reader writes: A couple weeks ago, Google surprised everybody by announcing a new piece of hardware: the OnHub Wi-Fi router. It packs a ton of processing power and a bunch of wireless radios into a glowy cylinder, and they're going to sell it for $200, which is on the high end for home networking equipment. Google sent out a number of units for testing, and the reviews are starting to come out. The device is truly Wi-Fi-centric, with only a single port for an ethernet cable. It runs on a Qualcomm IPQ8064 dual-core 1.4GHz SoC with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage. You can only access the router's admin settings by using the associated app on a mobile device.

OnHub's data transfer speeds couldn't compete with a similarly priced Asus router, but it had no problem blanketing the area with a strong signal. Ron Amadeo puts his conclusion simply: "To us, this looks like Google's smart home Trojan horse." The smartphone app that accompanies OnHub has branding for something called "Google On," which they speculate is Google's new hub for smart home products. "There are tons of competing smart home protocols out there, all of which are incompatible with one another—imagine HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray, but with about five different players. ... Other than Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, everything in OnHub is a Google/Nest/Alphabet protocol. And remember, the "Built for Google On" stamp on the bottom of the OnHub sure sounds like a third-party certification program."
Networking

T-Mobile Starts Going After Heavy Users of Tethered Data 298

VentureBeat reports that T-Mobile CEO John Legere has announced that T-Mobile will cut off (at least from "unlimited" data plans) customers who gloss over the fine print of their data-use agreement by tethering their unlimited-data phones and grab too much of the network's resources. In a series of tweets on Sunday, Legere says the company will be "eliminating anyone who abuses our network," and complains that some "network abusers" are using 2TB of data monthly. The article says, "This is the first official word from the carrier that seems to confirm a memo that was leaked earlier this month. At that time, it was said action would be taken starting August 17 and would go after those who used their unlimited LTE data for Torrents and peer-to-peer networking."