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Android

Google Play Starts Bringing Android Apps To Chromebooks (venturebeat.com) 14

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: As promised, Google has finally brought the Google Play store to Chrome OS. Android apps, Android games, and media content from the store are all now finally available on Chromebooks running the latest stable build. But that still doesn't mean all Chromebook owners can use the store. This continues to be a gradual rollout -- even on the stable channel, Google is limiting the launch in multiple ways. "A beta release of the Play store is available to users now on the Acer R11 and Asus Flip (and coming soon to Pixel 2015) and can be enabled from the Settings page," a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. "The team is hard at work making the experience great for users before making the Play Store available by default on these Chromebooks." That's right -- even though we're still talking about just three devices, the Play store is disabled by default. Once you've updated to version 53.0.2785.129 (make sure to switch back to the stable channel if you aren't already on it), you'll have to enable the Play Store in Chrome Settings.
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Build Your Own Vacuum Tubes? 271

Could you beat wireless headphones by creating your own DIY home audio system? Two weeks ago one Slashdot commenter argued, "to have good audio that is truly yours and something to be proud of, you need to make your own vacuum tube amplifier and then use it to power real electrostatic headphones over a wire." And now long-time Slashdot reader mallyn is stepping up to the challenge: I want to try to make my own vacuum tubes. Is there anyone here who has tried DIY vacuum tubes (or valves, to you Europeans)? I need help getting started -- how to put together the vacuum plumbing system; how to make a glass lathe; what metals to use for the elements (grid, plate, etc). If this is not the correct forum, can anyone please gently shove me into the correct direction? It needs to be online as my physical location (Bellingham, Washington) is too far away from the university labs where this type of work is likely to be done.
Slashdot's covered the "tubes vs. transistors" debate before, but has anyone actually tried to homebrew their own? Leave your best answers in the comments. How do you build your own vacuum tubes?
HP

HP Builds One Desktop PC Around a Speaker, Another Modular PC In Slices (arstechnica.com) 78

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: HP has announced today two new desktop PCs: HP Elite Slice and Pavilion Wave. The HP Elite Slice is a modular machine, with USB Type-C for power and I/O. The base unit contains all the core guts of the PC -- up to a 35W Core i7-6700T processor, up to 32GB of RAM, up to 512GB NVMe storage, gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and several ports. The top cover of the main unit is modular, while the bottom of the unit contains a special connector that can allow for additional modules to be stacked. HP has an audio module that includes speakers and a microphone array, and an optical drive module. It should be available later this month, starting at $699. The Pavilion Wave on the other hand combines a PC and a speaker in a 10.3 inch tall triangular box. As for specs, it features a 35W processor, up to an i7 processor, up to 16GB RAM, with up to 1TB SSD or 2TB HDD. An AMD R9 M470 is optional. In addition to the speaker, the Wave features a microphone array for Cortana support.
Java

Slashdot Asks: What Are Your Favorite Java 8 Features? (infoworld.com) 427

New submitter liveedu shares with us a report from InfoWorld: When Java 8 was released two years ago, the community graciously accepted it, seeing it as a huge step toward making Java better. Its unique selling point is the attention paid to every aspect of the programming language, including JVM (Java Virtual Machine), the compiler, and other help-system improvements. Java is one of the most searched programming languages according to TIOBE index for July 2016, where Java ranks number one. Its popularity is also seen on LiveCoding, a social live coding platform for engineers around the world, where hundreds and thousands of Java projects are broadcasted live. InfoWorld highlights five Java 8 features for developers in their report: lambda expressions, JavaScript Nashorn, date/time APIs, Stream API and concurrent accumulators. But those features only scratch the surface. What makes Java 8 amazing in your opinion? What are your favorite Java 8 features that help you write high quality code? You can view the entire list of changes made to the programming language here.
Robotics

Intel Demos A New Robotics Controller Running Ubuntu (hackerboards.com) 21

Intel demoed their new robotics compute module this week. Scheduled for release in 2017, it's equipped with various sensors, including a depth-sensing camera, and it runs Ubuntu on a quad-core Atom. Slashdot reader DeviceGuru writes: Designed for researchers, makers, and robotics developers, the device is a self contained, candy-bar sized compute module ready to pop into a robot. It's augmented with a WiFi hotspot, Bluetooth, GPS, and IR, as well as proximity, motion, barometric pressure sensors. There's also a snap-on battery.

The device is preinstalled with Ubuntu 14.04 with Robot Operating System (ROS) Indigo, and can act as a supervisory processor to, say, an Arduino subsystem that controls a robot's low-level functions. Intel demoed a Euclid driven robot running an obstacle avoidance and follow-me tasks, including during CEO Brian Krzanich's keynote (YouTube video).

Intel says they'll also release instructions on how to create an accompanying robot with a 3D printer. This plug-and-play robotics module is a proof-of-concept device -- the article includes some nice pictures -- but it already supports programming in Node.js (and other high-level languages), and has a web UI that lets you monitor performance in real-time and watch the raw camera feeds.
Programming

The $5 Onion Omega2 Gives Raspberry Pi a Run For Its Money (dailydot.com) 124

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Daily Dot: Onion's Omega2 computer may give the Raspberry Pi a run for its money if the success of the Kickstarter campaign is any indication. The Daily Dot reports: "With an initial goal of just $15,000, over 11,560 backers have pledged the company $446,792 in hopes of getting their hands on this little wonder board. So why are thousands of people losing their minds? Simple; the Omega2 packs a ton of power into a $5 package. Billed as the world's smallest Linux server, complete with built-in Wi-Fi, the Omega2 is perfect for building simple computers or the web connected project of your dreams. The tiny machine is roughly the size of a cherry, before expansions, and runs a full Linux operating system. For $5 you get a 580MHz CPU, 64MB memory, 16MB storage, built-in Wi-Fi and a USB 2.0 port. A $9 model is also available with 128MB of memory, 32MB of storage, and a MircoSD slot. The similarly priced Raspberry Pi Zero comes with a 1GHz Arm processor, 512MB of memory, a MicroSD slot, no onboard storage, and no built-in Wi-Fi. Omega2 supports the Ruby, C++, Python, PHP, Perl, JavaScript (Node.js), and Bash programming languages, so no matter your background in coding you should be able to figure something out." You can also add Bluetooth, GPS, and 2G/3G support via add-ons or expansions. It looks promising, though it is a Kickstarter campaign and the product may not come into fruition.
Security

Windows UAC Bypass Permits Code Execution (threatpost.com) 79

msm1267 writes from a report via Threatpost: A Windows UAC bypass has been publicly disclosed that not only bypasses the security feature meant to prevent unauthorized installs, but can be used to run code on compromised machines without leaving a trace on the hard disk. The bypass relies on Event Viewer (eventvwr.exe), a native Windows feature used to view event logs locally or remotely. Researcher Matt Nelson said he figured out a way to use eventvwr to hijack a registry process, start Powershell and execute commands on Windows machines; he collaborated with fellow researcher Matt Graeber on a proof-of-concept exploit, which was tested against Windows 7 and 10. A report published today by Nelson said it would work against any version of the OS that implements UAC. An attacker would already need to be on the machine to use this technique, Nelson said. The attack allows an admin user to execute code in a high-integrity context without requiring the user to approve the administrative action via the UAC pop-up. Microsoft, the researcher said, does not consider UAC bypasses a security boundary worthy of a bulletin and patch. It's unclear how Microsoft will address this issue.
Chrome

Google: Chrome 53 Will 'De-Emphasize Flash In Favor of HTML5' Next Month (venturebeat.com) 68

Google announced in a blog post today that Chrome will officially start to "de-emphasize Flash in favor of HTML5." VentureBeat reports: "In September 2016, Chrome will block Flash content that loads behind the scenes, which the company estimates accounts for more than 90 percent of the Flash on the web. In December, Chrome will make HTML5 the default experience for central content, such as games and videos, except on sites that only support Flash." Google detailed next month's plan (design doc), when Chrome 53 will be released: "In September 2015, we made 'Detect and run important plugin content' the default plugin setting in Chrome, automatically pausing any cross-origin plugin content smaller than 400px in width or 300px in height. This behavior has an exception for any plugin content that is 5x5 or smaller or is an undefined size, because there was no canonical way of detecting viewability until Intersection Observer was standardized and implemented. We would now like to remove this exception and instead not load tiny, cross-origin content. If the user has their plugin setting set to the default of 'Detect and run important plugin content,' the browser will not instantiate cross-origin plugin content that is roughly 5x5 or smaller or has an undefined size. An icon will be displayed in the URL bar indicating that plugin content is not running, allowing the user to reload the page with plugin content running or open settings to add a site-wide exception. Other choices of the plugin content setting are unaffected by this launch."
Microsoft

Microsoft To Release Two Major Windows 10 Updates Next Year (arstechnica.com) 150

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, aka Windows 10 version 1607, released earlier this week, it's time to look forward to what's next. Windows 10 has multiple release tracks to address the needs of its various customer types. The mainstream consumer release, the one that received the Anniversary Update on Tuesday, is dubbed the Current Branch (CB). The Current Branch for Business (CBB) trails the CB by several months, giving it greater time to bed in and receive another few rounds of bug fixing. Currently the CBB is using last year's November Update, version 1511. In about four months, Microsoft plans to bump CBB up to version 1607, putting both CB and CBB on the same major version. [The Long Term Servicing Branch, an Enterprise-only version that will receive security and critical issue support for 10 years, will also be updated.] Going forward, however, the differences between both current branch variants (CB and CBB) and LTSB will become more marked. Microsoft is not planning another major update this year. There will be no equivalent to last year's 1511 release, but Microsoft will have two next year. These are believed to be codenamed Redstone 2 (rs2) and Redstone 3 (rs3), with this week's 1607 release being Redstone 1 (rs1). Current expectation is that rs2 will have a heavy mobile focus and be shipped simultaneously with new Surface branded hardware.
Books

CP/M Creator Gary Kildall's Memoirs Released As Free Download (ieee.org) 157

An anonymous reader writes from IEEE Spectrum: The year before his death in 1994, Gary Kildall -- inventor of the early microcomputer operating system CP/M -- wrote a draft of a memoir, "Computer Connections: People, Places, and Events in the Evolution of the Personal Computer Industry." He distributed copies to family and friends, but died before realizing his plans to release it as a book. This week, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, with the permission of Kildall's children, released the first section and it is available for a free download. The rest of it, which they say did not reflect his true self, will not be made public.
Operating Systems

LibreOffice 5.2 Officially Released (softpedia.com) 103

prisoninmate writes from a report via Softpedia: LibreOffice 5.2 is finally here, after it has been in development for the past four months, during which the development team behind one of the best free office suites have managed to implement dozens of new features and improvements to most of the application's components. Key features include more UI refinements to make it flexible for anyone, standards-based document classification, forecasting functions in Calc, the spreadsheet editor, as well as lots of Writer and Impress enhancements. A series of videos are provided to see what landed in the LibreOffice 5.2 office suite, which is now available for download for GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows operating systems.
Microsoft

Microsoft's HoloLens Is Now On Sale To Anyone In The US Or Canada (computerworld.com) 53

Microsoft is now selling its augmented reality headset dubbed HoloLens to anyone in the United States or Canada for $3,000 a pop. Computerworld reports: Until now, HoloLens was available only to developers and companies through Microsoft sales reps, but starting Tuesday, anyone in the U.S. or Canada can buy up to five headsets online through the Microsoft Store. There was no word about availability in other countries. The HoloLens now on sale is the same developer edition that has been offered to Microsoft partners, and buyers are asked to acknowledge before completing purchase that they understand it's not a finished product intended for consumers. Microsoft also asks buyers to agree not to resell the product and acknowledge that no refunds are available. The move should expand the community of developers working to build apps and other content for the headset before a consumer version is officially available.
Hardware Hacking

FCC Requires TP-Link To Support Open Source Router Firmware 52

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier today, the FCC reached a settlement with TP-Link over Wi-Fi router interference. Most of the agreement was routine, addressing compliance with radio emission rules.

But the FCC also did something unprecedented. It required TP-Link to support open source firmware on its routers. You might recall that, last year, the FCC caused a ruckus when it mistakenly suggested it was banning open source router firmware. In fact, the FCC only required that router vendors implement protections for specific radio emission parameters. But the FCC didn't work with router vendors in advance to maintain open source compatibility, resulting in certain vendors (including TP-Link) trying to lock down their routers.

The FCC eventually issued a clarification, but the damage was done. Only recently have a couple router vendors (Linksys and Asus) affirmed that they will continue to support open source firmware.

Today's settlement is a milestone for the FCC. The agency is finally doing something, with deeds and not just words, to demonstrate its support for the open source community. It would be better if the agency hadn't created this mess, but they deserve serious credit for working so hard to fix it.
Robotics

Open Source Gardening Robot 'FarmBot' Raises $560,000 80

Slashdot reader Paul Fernhout writes: FarmBot is an open-source gantry-crane-style outdoor robot for tending a garden bed. The project is crowdfunding a first production run and has raised US$561,486 of their US$100,000 goal -- with one day left to go... The onboard control system is based around a Raspberry Pi 3 computer and an Arduino Mega 2560 Microcontroller. Many of the parts are 3D printable.
Two years ago Slashdot covered the genesis of this project, describing its goal as simply "to increase food production by automating as much of it as possible."
Communications

Ask Slashdot: How Transparent Should Companies Be When Operational Technology Failures Happen? 93

New submitter supernova87a writes: Last week, Southwest Airlines had an epic crash of IT systems across their entire business when "a router failure caused the airlines' systems to crash [...] and all backups failed, causing flight delays and cancellations nationwide and costing the company probably $10 million in lost bookings alone." Huge numbers of passengers, crew, and airplanes were stranded as not only reservations systems, but scheduling, dispatch, and other critical operational systems had to be rebooted over the course of 12 hours. Passenger delays, which directly attributable to this incident, continued to trickle down all the way from Wednesday to Sunday as the airline recovered. Aside from the technical issues of what happened, what should a public-facing company's obligation be to discuss what happened in full detail? Would publicly talking about the sequence of events before and after failure help restore faith in their operations? Perhaps not aiming for Google's level of admirable disclosure (as in this 18-minute cloud computing outage where a full post-mortem was given), should companies aim to discuss more openly what happened and how they recovered from system failures?
Cloud

Office 365 Gets New Word, PowerPoint and Outlook Features (networkworld.com) 99

New submitter Miche67 writes: As part of the July 2016 update to Office 365, Microsoft is adding several features across the board to Word, PowerPoint and Outlook. Word, however, is getting the biggest new features -- Researcher and Editor -- to improve your writing. "As its name implies, Researcher is designed to help the user find reliable sources of information by using the Bing Knowledge Graph to search for sources, and it will properly cite them in the Word document," reports Network World. "[Editor] builds on the already-existing spellchecker and thesaurus to offer suggestions on how to improve your overall writing. In addition to the wavy red line under a misspelled word and the wavy blue line under bad grammar, there will be a gold line for writing style." The new features are expected to be available later this year. In addition to the two new features added to PowerPoint last year -- Designer and Morph, Microsoft is offering Zoom, a feature that lets you easily create "interactive, non-linear presentations." "Instead of the 1-2-3-4 linear method of presenting slides, forcing you to place them all in the order you wish to display, presenters will be able to show their slides in any order they want at any time," reports Network World. "This way you can change your presentation order as needed without having to stop PowerPoint or interrupt the display." As for Outlook, Focused Inbox is coming to Office 365. Focused Inbox separates your inbox into two tabs. The "Focused" tab is where all of your high-priority emails will be found, while everything else will be in the "Other" tab. Outlook will learn from your behavior over time and sort your mail accordingly. In addition, @mentions are coming to Outlook 365 and Outlook for PC and Mac, "making it easy to identify emails that need your attention, as well as flag actions for others."
Earth

Feds To Deploy Anti-Drone Software Near Wildfires (thehill.com) 170

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: Federal officials are launching a new "geofencing" program to alert drone pilots when they're flying too close to wildfire prevention operations. The Department of Interior said Monday it would deploy software warnings to pilots when their drones pose a risk to the aircraft used by emergency responders fighting wildfires. The agency said there have been 15 instances of drones interfering with firefighter operations this year, including several leading to grounded aircraft. Drone-related incidents doubled between 2014 and 2015, the agency said. Officials built the new warning system with the drone industry, and the agency said manufacturers could eventually use it to build drones that automatically steer away from wildfire locations. The program is in its pilot phase, the agency said; officials hope to have a full public release in time for next year's wildfire season. "No responsible drone operator wants to endanger the lives of the men and women who work to protect them and we believe this program, which uses the global positioning system to create a virtual barrier, will move us one step closer to eliminating this problem for wildfire managers," Mark Bathrick, the director of the Interior Department's Office of Aviation Service, said in a statement.
Businesses

Cyanogen Inc. Reportedly Fires OS Development Arm, Switches To Apps (arstechnica.com) 124

An anonymous reader writes: Android Police is reporting that the Android software company Cyanogen Inc. will be laying off 20 percent of its workforce, and will transition from OS development to applications. The Android Police report says "roughly 30 out of the 136 people Cyanogen Inc. employs" are being cut, and that the layoffs "most heavily impact the open source arm" of the company. Android Police goes on to say that CyanogenMod development by Cyanogen Inc "may be eliminated entirely." Ars Technica notes the differences between each "Cyanogen" branding. Specifically, CyanogenMod is a "free, open source, OS heavily based on Android and compatible with hundreds of devices," while Cyanogen Inc. is "a for-profit company that aims to sell Cyanogen OS to OEMs." It appears that many of the core CyanogenMod developers will no longer be paid to work on CyanogenMod, though the community is still free to develop the software." Android Police details the firing process in their report: "Layoffs reportedly came after a long executive retreat for the company's leaders and were conducted with no advanced notice. Employees who were not let go were told not to show up to work today. Those who did show up were the unlucky ones: they had generic human resources meetings rather ominously added to their calendars last night. So, everyone who arrived at Cyanogen Inc. in Seattle this morning did so to lose their job (aside from those conducting the layoffs)." Early last year, Microsoft invested in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing for the then-startup Cyanogen Inc. Not too long before that, Google tried to acquire Cyanogen Inc., but the company turned down Google's offer to seek funding from investors and major tech companies at a valuation of around $1 billion. Cyanogen Inc. CEO Kirt McMaster once said the company was "attempting to take Android away from Google" and that it was "putting a bullet through Google's head."

UPDATE 7/25/16: Cyanogen CEO and cofounder Kirt McMaster took to Twitter to dispel some of the rumors, tweeting: "Cyanogen NOT pivoting to apps. We are an OS company and our mission of creating an OPEN ANDROID stands. FALSE reporting was outstanding."
Graphics

NVIDIA Drops Surprise Unveiling of Pascal-Based GeForce GTX Titan X (hothardware.com) 134

MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Details just emerged from NVIDIA regarding its upcoming powerful, Pascal-based Titan X graphics card, featuring a 12 billion transistor GPU, codenamed GP102. NVIDIA is obviously having a little fun with this one and at an artificial intelligence (AI) meet-up at Stanford University this evening, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang first announced, and then actually gave away a few brand-new, Pascal-based NVIDIA TITAN X GPUs. Apparently, Brian Kelleher, one of NVIDIA's top hardware engineers, made a bet with NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, that the company could squeeze 10 teraflops of computing performance out of a single chip. Jen-Hsun thought that was not doable in this generation of product, but apparently, Brian and his team pulled it off. The new Titan X is powered by NVIDIA's largest GPU -- the company says it's actually the biggest GPU ever built. The Pascal-based GP102 features 3,584 CUDA cores, clocked at 1.53GHz (the previous-gen Titan X has 3,072 CUDA cores clocked at 1.08GHz). The specifications NVIDIA has released thus far include: 12-billion transistors, 11 TFLOPs FP32 (32-bit floating point), 44 TOPS INT8 (new deep learning inferencing instructions), 3,584 CUDA cores at 1.53GHz, and 12GB of GDDR5X memory (480GB/s). The new Titan X will be available August 2nd for $1,200 direct from NVIDIA.com.
Movies

Man Builds $1.5 Million Star Trek-Themed Home Theater (cepro.com) 162

CIStud writes: This $1.5 million "Star Trek" home theater is the envy of every geek on the planet. The theater is a reconstruction of the bridge of the Starship Enterprise from "Star Trek: Next Generation" and also includes $1 million worth of memorabilia from the classic sci-fi TV show. The home theater was created by financier Marc Bell with the help from Jay Miller of Boca Raton-based Acoustic Innovations. The two started working on the home cinema in 2002 -- before construction of Bell's house even began -- and it took them four years to complete. CEPro reports: "A D-Box controller manipulates hydraulics installed beneath the floorboards, meaning the entire room shakes when anything loud happens on screen. The room also includes a JBL Synthesis sound system, which at the time of installation was only used in commercial theaters. The audio system is currently being upgraded to Dolby Atmos specifications and Bell plans to install a 4K projector. A big movie fan, Bell has had over 3,500 films digitized, which are stored and streamed through a Kaleidescape server. He also spent approximately $35,000 on a Prima Cinema system, allowing him and his family to watch films at home the day they are released in commercial cinemas. A wraparound control center surrounds the 11 custom leather chairs in the theater, eight of which recline into beds, while the doors that open into the theater are exact replicas of the Turbolift doors as seen on the TV show. When someone steps on the circular "transporter," the doors open with that familiar "whoosh" sound." Bell apparently likes to spend his money on others too. He has rented a local movie theater for every Star Trek film released in the past 25 years and has taken all of his employees, friends and their children along on opening night. The Wall Street Journal posted a video on YouTube of the home theater.

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