An anonymous reader writes "Several groups are currently working on specifications for plugin-free, real-time audio and video communication. The World Wide Web Consortium has one called WebRTC, rudimentary support for which is found in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Back in August, Microsoft announced its own specification, CU-RTC-Web, because it thought WebRTC wasn't worthwhile. W3C carried out a vote to choose between the two specs, which came out strongly in favor of WebRTC. Microsoft went ahead anyway, and it has now published a prototype for the proposed specification. 'So what's Microsoft playing at, persevering with its own spec in spite of its rejection by the WebRTC group? The company's argument is twofold. First, WebRTC simply isn't complete yet, and Microsoft believes that working on its proposal can shed light on how to solve certain problems such as handling changes in network bandwidth or keeping cellular and Wi-Fi connections open in parallel to allow easy failover from one to the other. Even if Redmond's spec isn't adopted wholesale, portions of it may still be useful. Second, the company believes that WebRTC may not be as close to real standardization as its proponents might argue.'"
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An anonymous reader writes "After months of hype riding the coattails of the MegaUpload controversy, Kim Dotcom's new cloud storage site, Mega, is finally going live. After being available to early adopters briefly, it's now open to the public with 50GB of free storage and end-to-end encryption. Several outlets have posted early hands-on reports for the service, including Ars Technica and The Next Web. In an interview, Dotcom spoke about how Mega's encryption scheme benefits both the users and the company: 'The Mega business plan will be a distributed model, with hundreds of companies large and small, around the world, hosting files. A hosting company can be huge or it can own just two or three servers Dotcom says—just as long as it's located outside the U.S. "Each file will be kept with at least two different hosters, [in] at least two different locations," said Dotcom. "That's a great added benefit for us because you can work with the smallest, most unreliable [hosting] companies. It doesn't matter because they can't do anything with that data." More than 1000 hosts answered a request for expressions of interest on the Mega home page. Dotcom says several hundred will be active partners within months.' On top of that, the way it's designed will protect Mega from legal problems: 'It's all about the plausible deniability. Mega doesn't know what you're uploading. ... Mega isn't so much securing your files for you as it is securing itself from your files. If Mega just takes down all the DMCAed links, it will have a 100 percent copyrighted material takedown record as far as its own knowledge is concerned. It literally can't know about cases that aren't actively pointed out to it, complete with file decryption keys.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Linux distribution SolusOS has forked the GNOME 3 'fallback mode' that the GNOME Project decided to scrap with the upcoming 3.8 GNOME release. According to SolusOS, the fork, named Consort, can 'maintain an experience virtually identical to GNOME 2, but vastly improve it with no need for hardware acceleration such as with GNOME Shell or Cinnamon.' It 'will bring back all the old features, such as right click-interaction on the panel, GNOME 2 applet support, creating desktop launchers, etc' and 'allow Python GNOME 2 applets to run natively on consort-panel.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Often referred to as the godfather of the iPod, former Apple executive and current Nest CEO Tony Fadell played an instrumental part in Apple's resurgence. Recently, Fadell opined on what makes Apple's design process different from the rest of the pack. Fadell explained that a key and yet often overlooked, difference between Apple and other tech companies is that Apple ships 99% of the products that pass certain internal milestones. By way of contrast, during Fadell's tenure at Philips — where he was charged with overseeing the company's audio strategy — the iPod guru noted that Philips would axe 9 projects out of 10, even if a particular product was about to ship."
Some Bitch writes "Following previous stories that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration was to review the safety of the Boeing 787 and that Japan had already grounded their fleet, the FAA has issued an airworthiness directive which has been endorsed around the world with the fleets of all eight airlines flying the 787 now grounded. EADS (the parent company of Airbus) shares were up 3.9% at close of business." General Electric's call for more sifting of more data from more sensors might have some resonance right now within Boeing.
Nerdolicious writes "Ars Technica reports that the ACLU has received a response from the FBI after a formal legal complaint was filed to release documents related to warrantless GPS tracking data. But, as you can see from the two memos the ACLU posted to its website, they have unsurprisingly been redacted to uselessness, consisting almost entirely of large black blocks covering full pages."
CVG is reporting that Microsoft is working on "consolidating all their communications technology" around Skype, which they acquired in 2011 for $8.5 billion. Citing a source within the company, they say Skype will "become the default chat service on the next generation Xbox console as well as on PC and tablets." This would fit in with Microsoft's recent announcement that it is closing Messenger in March and replacing it with Skype. The article also cites a Microsoft job posting from last August which sought a UI designer for "Skype in the living room," with a focus on the next-gen Xbox system.
hcs_$reboot writes "The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has already occupied some of Slashdot news space recently: FAA to investigate the 787 (Jan 11) or 787 catches fire in Boston (Jan 08). Today (Jan 16 JST) another incident happened that led to Japan grounding its entire 787 fleet until an internal investigation gives more information about the problem. A 787 from ANA had a battery problem and smoke was detected in the electronics. The plane had to make an emergency landing and passengers were evacuated. "
tsamsoniw writes "More new tech jobs have emerged since the end of the past recession than during the same recovery timelines following the dot-com bubble burst and the early-1990s recession. What's more, the unemployment rate among technology professionals is now half that of the national average — with especially low unemployment rates for database administrators and network architects. What's not clear, though, is how many unemployed techies aren't being counted because they've abandoned job searches."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a look at the engine behind SpaceX's Falcon rocket, the Merlin: "The rockstar of SpaceX may be Elon Musk, but the lead man behind the fire power is Tom Mueller. He is the Vice President of Propulsion Development and founding employee at SpaceX. Musk sought Mueller out in 2001 when Musk decided to build his own rockets instead of buying some from the Russians. Musk caught wind of a rocket engine Mueller built in his garage and 'apparently had a religious experience' once he saw it. If you didn't know, Elon Musk used $100 million of his Paypal money to start SpaceX. That money was used to build the Merlin engine Mueller had designed. The Merlin engine is the first new American booster engine in ten years and only the second in the last 25 years."
tsamsoniw writes "Microsoft has filed a patent for a mobile technology called Inconspicuous Mode, aimed at helping you not be 'that guy' who disrupts movies, meals, or meetings with noisy, bright-screened phone alerts. It's a setting that would effectively put your phone in stealth mode when the device sensed it was in a movie theater (thanks to location information) and that the lights had gone down. The idea is, you could still receive alerts if a call or text came in, but no one around you would be disturbed by phone sounds or screen flashes."
Google's super fast internet has turned Kansas City into an unlikely incubator for startups and tech entrepreneurs. One small neighborhood where a group is working on their ideas has been dubbed, the "Silicon Prairie." From the article: "The advantage here for startups is simple: A fast Internet pipe makes it easier to handle large files and eliminates buffering problems that plague online video, live conferencing or other network-intensive tasks. Though the Kansas City location presents challenges for startups, including the ability to raise money outside the traditional Silicon Valley venture capital scene, entrepreneurs like Synthia Payne believe it's the place to be right now for up-and-coming tech companies. Payne is one of those entrepreneurs hoping to launch her startup dream — an Internet subscription service for musicians who want to collaborate online — on the cheap. She shares the State Line Road house, known as the 'Home for Hackers,' with other startups under a deal that allows them to live rent-free while they develop their business plans."
DeviceGuru writes "A handful of innovative high-tech startups have recently emerged to create a new market: remote telepresence robots. With one of these robotic Avatars, you can wander around in the remote environment, chatting with coworkers and managers, attending meetings, and solving problems encountered through those interactions. InformationWeek's Telepresence Robot Smackdown compares five such bots — the MantaroBot TeleMe, VGo Communications VGo, Anybots QB, Suitable Technologies Beam, and Revolve Robotics Kubi — and includes short videos demonstrating each. As the article concludes, 'bear in mind that what we're witnessing here is the emergence of a new industry; and if Moore's Law applies here as it does to so many IT spheres, it won't be long before these gadgets are inexpensive, commonplace, and far more flexible and intelligent."
An anonymous reader writes "Amazon just debuted a new service called Autorip, which grants you MP3 copies of music when you purchase the CD version. This is a technology people have been trying to introduce since 1999, but only recently have the record labels — and the courts — seen fit to allow it. 'Robertson's first company, MP3.com was one of the hottest startups in Silicon Valley when it launched what we would now call a cloud music service, My.MP3.com, in 1999. The service included a feature called "Beam-It" that allowed users to instantly stock their online lockers with music from their personal CD collections. ... Licensed services like iTunes were still years in the future, largely because labels were skittish about selling music online. But Robertson believed he didn't need a license because the service was permitted by copyright's fair use doctrine. If a user can rip his legally purchased CD to his computer, why can't he also store a copy of it online? ... the labels simply weren't interested in Robertson's vision of convenient and flexible music lockers. So MP3.com was driven into bankruptcy, and the "buy a CD, get an MP3" concept fell by the wayside.'"