jfruh writes "When tech geeks debate the state of the smartphone world, they usually focus on the iPhone and its high-end Android rivals from the major carriers. But Android is rapidly entering the lower-end world of contractless prepaid phones that you can buy at 7-11 or Wal-Mart. 63 percent of prepaid phones sold in 2011 were smartphones, and while they might not offer cutting-edge hardware or easy customization, they do provide a smartphone experience without an onerous contract."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
silentbrad writes "Kotaku reports some 'details' about Sony's next console given to them by a 'reliable source.' They say that the console's codename is Orbis, and it is planned for release by the 2013 holiday season. Developers are reportedly being told to plan for an AMD x64 CPU and AMD Southern Islands GPU. Further on, they mention that there will be no PS3 backwards compatibility and, like rumors about the next Xbox, will have anti-used game DRM. Specifically, 'new games for the system will be available one of two ways, either on a Blu-Ray disc or as a PSN download (yes, even full retail titles). If you buy the disc, it must be locked to a single PSN account. ... If you then decide to trade that disc in, the pre-owned customer picking it up will be limited in what they can do. ... it's believed used games will be limited to a trial mode or some other form of content restriction, with consumers having to pay a fee to unlock/register the full game.'"
Fluffeh writes "David Maurice House, an MIT researcher and Bradley Manning supporter, was granted the right to pursue a case against the government on Wednesday after a federal judge denied the government's motion to dismiss. 'This ruling affirms that the Constitution is still alive at the US border,' ACLU Staff Attorney Catherine Crump said in a statement. 'Despite the government's broad assertions that it can take and search any laptop, diary or smartphone without any reasonable suspicion, the court said the government cannot use that power to target political speech.' The agents confiscated a laptop computer, a thumb drive, and a digital camera from House and reportedly demanded, but did not receive, his encryption keys. DHS held onto House's equipment for 49 days and returned it only after the ACLU sent a strongly worded letter."
First time accepted submitter wynterwynd writes "In a move that seems to be in line with Gawker Media founder Nick Denton's opinion of his sites' commenters, some Gawker Media sites are now instructing their commenters that they will have to link their Gawker commenter ID with their Facebook, Twitter, or Google accounts in order to log in. Is this really a good idea, considering the security issues Gawker has had in the past? Per the article, for 'security purposes' Gawker is 'putting our account security layer in the hands of some of the best in the business — major sites with more security expertise and resources than anyone else on the web.' To my mind, it's hard to see this as anything but a grab to milk Gawker commenters' social networking accounts for targeted ad revenue — which really shouldn't be a surpirse considering Denton's contempt for most of the Gawker community. Is this a step too far for an online community? Is it a cash grab or a genuine effort to encourage secure and responsible posting?"
Fluffeh writes with a piece of good news on the privacy front: "Two rulings in related cases this week have dealt a serious blow to the plaintiffs and their dodgy legal strategy. Ordinarily, copyright law is handled by the federal courts, but Florida plaintiffs have begun using an obscure provision of state law called a 'pure bill of discovery' to attempt to force ISPs to reveal the identity of suspected file-sharers. The rulings, one on Monday and one on Wednesday, saw two different judges siding with the objecting ISPs. 'These back-to-back rulings against the plaintiffs suggest that they're likely to lose any time ISPs raise objections to fishing expeditions against their customers.'"
New submitter inhuman_4 passes along this quote from an article at Wired: "Last December, Microsoft scored a victory when the ITC Administrative Law Judge Theodore R. Essex found that Motorola had violated four Microsoft patents. But the ruling could also eliminate an important Microsoft software patent that has been invoked in lawsuits against Barnes & Noble and car navigation device-maker Tom Tom. According to Linus Torvalds, he was deposed in the case this past fall, and apparently his testimony about a 20-year-old technical discussion — along with a discussion group posting made by an Amiga fan, known only as Natuerlich! — helped convince the Administrative Law Judge that the patent was invalid."
MrSeb writes "HTTP, the protocol that underpins almost every inch of the world wide web, is about to make the jump from version 1.1 to 2.0 after some 13 years of stagnation. For a long time it looked like Google's experimental SPDY protocol would be the only viable option for the Internet Engineering Task Force to ratify as HTTP 2.0, but now out of left field comes a competing proposal from Microsoft. Lumbered with the truly awful name of HTTP Speed+Mobility, or HTTP S+M for short, Microsoft's vision of HTTP 2.0 is mostly very similar to SPDY, but with additional features that cater toward apps and mobile devices. 'The HTTP Speed+Mobility proposal starts from both the Google SPDY protocol and the work the industry has done around WebSockets,' says Jean Paoli from the Microsoft Interoperability team. Basically, the S+M proposal looks like it's less brute-force than SPDY: Where server push, encryption, and compression are all built into SPDY, Microsoft, citing low-powered devices and metered connections, wants them to be optional extensions. Judging by the speed at which the internet (and the internet of things) is developing, I think MS's extensible, flexible solution has its merits."
tekgoblin writes something not quite worth rejoicing over. From the article: "Comcast Internet subscribers can rejoice. Comcast has recently announced that they will not be counting content streamed via their Comcast Xfinity App on the Xbox 360 against their bandwidth caps. Comcast claims that since the data is only traversing their internal Comcast network that it will not count towards your 250 GB limit a month." Comcast is claiming this does not violate net neutrality laws (and it very well may not); a number of folks are not very happy about it. I've always been perplexed by the large media interests of most U.S. last-mile providers.
Fluffeh writes "Ars has a great article about the history of Sealand, a data haven — a place where you can host almost anything, as long as it follows the very bare laws of Sealand Government. Quoting: 'HavenCo's failure — and make no mistake about it, HavenCo did fail — shows how hard it is to get out from under government's thumb. HavenCo built it, but no one came. For a host of reasons, ranging from its physical vulnerability to the fact that The Man doesn't care where you store your data if he can get his hands on you, Sealand was never able to offer the kind of immunity from law that digital rebels sought. And, paradoxically, by seeking to avoid government, HavenCo made itself exquisitely vulnerable (PDF) to one government in particular: Sealand's.'"
It's not just Japan that wants to regulate how Google displays search results: judgecorp writes "A committee of British MPs and peers has asked Google to censor search results to protect privacy and threatened to put forward new laws that would force it to do so, if Google fails to comply. The case relates to events such as former Formula One boss Max Mosley's legal bid to prevent Google linking to illegally obtained images of himself."
Fluffeh writes "In a recent story that is beating around the nets, Kim Dotcom has fired back at studios with emails that make for some interesting reading: 'A Disney executive e-mailed Megaupload in 2008. He said he was interested in having Megaupload host Disney content, but said he would need Megaupload to tweak its terms of service to make it clear Disney retained ownership of files uploaded to the site. He sent Megaupload a proposed alternative to the standard Megaupload TOS. Fox emailed "Please let me know if you have some time to chat this week about how we can work together to better monetize your inventory," in an attempt to promote their newly launched ad network. And finally, this gem: a Warner Brothers executive e-mailed Megaupload seeking to expedite the process of uploading Warner content to Megaupload. "I would like to know if your site can take a Media RSS feed for our syndications," he wrote. "We would like to upload our content all at once instead of one video at a time."' Pot calling the kettle black anyone?" Torrentfreak is running the full interview with Kim Dotcom.
judgecorp writes "MIT professor Hugh Herr describes how technology can end disability in 50 years — with a big incentive from the need to support injured war veterans. A champion climber, Herr lost both legs below the knee, returned to climbing and designed improved climbing prostheses. From the article: 'Herr believes the work he is doing won’t just have humanitarian benefits. There’s money to be made too. And if there’s a market here, it means more people will receive help. Despite all the horrors and injustices the Iraq and Afghanistan wars spawned, they have helped make the biomechatronics industry a lot more viable. Back in 2007, Herr gave Garth Stewart, a 24-year-old Army veteran who lost his left leg below the knee during the conflict in Iraq, a bionic ankle. It used tendon-like springs and an electric motor to provide support for Stewart.'"
Reader Fluffeh snips from and links to Ars Technica with the latest chapter in the ongoing Google vs. Oracle fight involving patents, Java, and Android, writing that executives at both companies were "'ordered to hold one last round of settlement talks no later than April 9th, with the trial over Google's alleged use of Java technology in Android set to begin April 16,' though '[t]he last-ditch effort to avoid a trial seems unlikely to succeed. ... Oracle initially accused Google of violating seven patents, but has since dropped most of them. This is due to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling the patents described technology that was not patentable. Two patents assigned to the Oracle-owned Sun Microsystems remain: #6,061,520 which covers "an improvement over conventional systems for initializing static arrays by reducing the amount of code executed by the virtual machine to statically initialize an array," and #RE38,104 which covers a type of compiler and interpreter."
First time accepted submitter oyenamit writes "Ars Technica reported a while back that FAA is going to reconsider the ban on use of electronic gadgets during take-off and landing. If this ban is revoked, you will be free to use your gizmos for an additional 30 minutes or so. Peter Bright has an interesting take on why lifting of the ban may not be such a good idea."