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Hardware

FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips. 675

Posted by Soulskill
from the playing-dirty dept.
janoc writes It seems that chipmaker FTDI has started an outright war on cloners of their popular USB bridge chips. At first the clones stopped working with the official drivers, and now they are being intentionally bricked, rendering the device useless. The problem? These chips are incredibly popular and used in many consumer products. Are you sure yours doesn't contain a counterfeit one before you plug it in? Hackaday says, "It’s very hard to tell the difference between the real and fake versions by looking at the package, but a look at the silicon reveals vast differences. The new driver for the FT232 exploits these differences, reprogramming it so it won’t work with existing drivers. It’s a bold strategy to cut down on silicon counterfeiters on the part of FTDI. A reasonable company would go after the manufacturers of fake chips, not the consumers who are most likely unaware they have a fake chip." Update: 10/24 02:53 GMT by S : In a series of Twitter posts, FTDI has admitted to doing this.
Cellphones

'Microsoft Lumia' Will Replace the Nokia Brand 150

Posted by timothy
from the not-many-years-from-dominance dept.
jones_supa writes The last emblems of Nokia are being removed from Microsoft products. "Microsoft Lumia" is the new brand name that takes their place. The name change follows a slow transition from Nokia.com over to Microsoft's new mobile site, and Nokia France will be the first of many countries that adopt "Microsoft Lumia" for its Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. Microsoft has confirmed to The Verge that other countries will follow the rebranding steps in the coming weeks. Nokia itself continues as a reborn company focusing on mapping and network infrastructure services.
Social Networks

Eggcyte is Making a Pocket-Sized Personal Web Server (Video) 94

Posted by Roblimo
from the my-data-belongs-to-me-and-no-one-else dept.
Eggcyte has been working on this for two years. It's on Kickstarter now; a personal server you can use to share music, video, text, and just about anything else without resorting to cloud-based services where one weak password can put your private celebrity photos (you are a celebrity, right?) into the wrong hands. If you suddenly decide you don't want to share the information on your Egg any more, turn it off. If you suddenly have something new to share, like a video you just shot of the Loch Ness Monster capturing an alien spaceship, you can connect your Egg to the Internet anywhere you find a wireless access point. The main thing, say the Eggcyte people, is that your data is yours and should stay that way. Facebook and other cloud-based "sharing" companies use your data to learn about you. Here in the U.S. their primary purpose may be to show you ads for things you might want to buy. In more repressive countries, cloud-based sharing services may use your private data in ways that could be hazardous to your health. Of course, our government people would never keep track of what we post on Twitter and other online services... or would they? (Alternate Video Link)
Education

Raspberry Pi Sales Approach 4 Million 146

Posted by timothy
from the just-a-small-hobby dept.
Eben Upton's reboot of the spirit of the BBC Micro in the form of the Raspberry Pi would have been an interesting project even if it had only been useful in the world of education. Upton wanted, after all, to give the kind of hands-on, low-level interaction with computing devices that he saw had gone missing in schools. Plenty of rPis are now in that educational, inspirational role, but it turns out that the world was waiting (or at least ready) for a readily usable, cheap, all-in-one computer, and the Raspberry Pi arrived near the front of a wave that now includes many other options. Sales boomed, and we've mentioned a few of the interesting milestones, like the millionth unit made in the UK and the two-millionth unit overall. Now, according to TechCrunch the Raspberry Pi is getting close to 4 million units sold, having just passed 3.8 million, as reported in a tweet. If you have a Raspberry Pi, what are you using it for now, and what would you like to see tweaked in future versions?
Chrome

ChromeOS Will No Longer Support Ext2/3/4 On External Drives/SD Cards 344

Posted by timothy
from the hope-this-is-reverted dept.
An anonymous reader writes Chrome OS is based on the Linux kernel and designed by Google to work with web applications and installed applications. Chromebook is one of the best selling laptops on Amazon. However, devs decided to drop support for ext2/3/4 on external drivers and SD card. It seems that ChromiumOS developers can't implement a script or feature to relabel EXT volumes in the left nav that is insertable and has RW privileges using Files.app. Given that this is the main filesystem in Linux, and is thereby automatically well supported by anything that leverages Linux, this choice makes absolutely no sense. Google may want to drop support for external storage and push the cloud storage on everyone. Overall Linux users and community members are not happy at all.
The Almighty Buck

Mining Kickstarter Data Reveals How To Match Crowdfunding Projects To Investors 20

Posted by timothy
from the arbitrage-opportunities dept.
KentuckyFC writes Since 2001, crowdfunding sites have raised almost $3 billion and in 2012 alone, successfully funded more than 1 million projects. But while many projects succeed, far more fail. The reasons for failure are varied and many but one of the most commonly cited is the inability to match a project with suitable investors. Now a group of researchers from Yahoo Labs and the University of Cambridge have mined data from Kickstarter to discover how investors choose projects to back. They studied over 1000 projects in the US funded by over 80,000 investors. They conclude that there are two types of backers: occasional investors who tend to back arts-related projects, probably because of some kind of social connection to the proposers; and frequent investors who have a much more stringent set of criteria. Frequent investors tend to fund projects that are well-managed, have high pledging goals, are global, grow quickly, and match their interests. The team is now working on a website that will create a list of the Twitter handles of potential investors given the URL of a Kickstarter project.
Graphics

Flash IDE Can Now Reach Non-Flash Targets (Including Open Source) 57

Posted by timothy
from the what's-your-pleasure dept.
lars_doucet (2853771) writes Flash CC now has an SDK for creating custom project file formats; this lets you use the Flash IDE to prepare and publish content for (not-the-flash-player) compile targets. Among these new platforms is OpenFL, a fully open-source re-implementation of the Flash API that exports to Javascript and C++ (no Flash Player!), among other targets: When Adobe demoed the custom project feature at Adobe MAX the other night, they brought out Joshua Granick (lead maintainer of OpenFL) to show off a custom OpenFL project format that lets you make Flash Art in Flash CC, then compile it out to Flash, HTML5, and native C++ (desktop+mobile) targets. Maybe Adobe heard us after all?
Games

Infinite Browser Universe Manyland Hits 8 Million Placed Blocks 67

Posted by timothy
from the pretty-big-place-you've-got-here dept.
j_philipp (803945) writes Manyland [Here's the twitter feed and a FAQ] is an HTML5 / JavaScript-based MMO universe created by a community and two indie developers from Europe. Everything in the world can be freely drawn and placed: From the cars, animals, plants, houses, bridges, to everyone's own bodies. Like Wikipedia, by default areas are editable by everyone (and removing a block leaves dust which can be used to undo the removal). Since the opening a year ago, over 100,000 different creations have been made, and now, over 8 million blocks placed. Some features are for logged-in users only, but the whole thing is free to explore for everyone, and it's just sucked away quite a few minutes for me.
Security

Interviews: Ask Reuben Paul What Hackers Can Learn From an 8-Year-Old 44

Posted by timothy
from the at-8-I-was-mostly-hiding-behind-the-bleachers dept.
Reuben A. Paul, aka RAPstar, has something of a head-start when it comes to learning about computer security: his father, Mano Paul, has been a security researcher (and instructor) for many years. So Reuben grew up around computers, seeing firsthand that they're neither mysterious nor impregnable. Reuben, though, has a curious mind and his own computer security interests, and a knack for telling others about them; last month, he became the youngest-ever speaker at DerbyCon, and explained some of what he's picked up so far on what kids can learn about security, as well as what the security field can learn from kids. (One hard to dispute nugget: "Kids are the best social engineers, followed by puppies.") Ask of Reuben whatever you'd like, below (please, one question per post), and we'll get answers to selected questions when we catch up with him at next week's Houston Security Conference. (This year's conference is sold out, but there's always 2015.)
Transportation

Tesla Announces Dual Motors, 'Autopilot' For the Model S 283

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-for-individual-resale dept.
SchrodingerZ writes: Nine days after Elon Musk hinted about a new project, Tesla Motors has unveiled the P85D Sedan. This is Tesla's latest car design, capable of feats not yet seen in electric vehicles. The four door luxury car is able to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in a mere 3.2 seconds, an acceleration similar to the McLaren F1 super car. While the exterior remains the same build as the standard Model S, the interior will have a second motor in the front of the car to complement the rear motor. The D models will also have a slightly greater range of 275 miles on a single charge, 10 miles more than the 85 and P85 cars. Safety features have also been enhanced, adding "adaptive cruise control and the ability to read speed limit signs, stop itself if a crash is imminent, stay in its lane, and even park itself in a street spot or in your garage." Musk explains at the inaugural event, "this car is nuts. It's like taking off from a carrier deck. It's just bananas." The "D" version is available for the 60kWh, 80kWh, and P85 cars, and are expected to start shipping in December of this year.
Twitter

Twitter Sues US Government Over National Security Data Requests 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-hashtags-could-prevent-the-next-9/11 dept.
mpicpp sends news that Twitter is suing the U.S. government to fight their rules on what information can be shared about national security-related requests for user data. Service providers like Twitter are prohibited from telling us the exact number of National Security Letters and FISA court orders they've received. Google has filed a challenge based on First Amendment rights, and Twitter's lawsuit (PDF) is taking a similar approach. Twitter VP Ben Lee says, "We've tried to achieve the level of transparency our users deserve without litigation, but to no avail. In April, we provided a draft Transparency Report addendum to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a report which we hoped would provide meaningful transparency for our users. After many months of discussions, we were unable to convince them to allow us to publish even a redacted version of the report."
Facebook

Ask Slashdot: Is There an Ethical Way Facebook Can Experiment With Their Users? 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-gets-the-placebo dept.
An anonymous reader writes: This summer, news broke that Facebook had conducted an experiment on some of their users, tweaking which posts showed up in their timeline to see if it affected the tone of their later posts. The fallout was extensive — Facebook took a lot of flack from users and the media for overreaching and violating trust. (Of course, few stopped to think about how Facebook decided what to show people in the first place, but that's beside the point.) Now, Wired is running a somewhat paranoid article saying Facebook can't help but experiment on its users. The writer says this summer's blowback will only show Facebook they need to be sneakier about it.

At the same time, a study came out from Ohio State University saying some users rely on social media to alter their moods. For example, when a user has a bad day, he's likely to look up acquaintances who have it worse off, and feel a bit better that way. Now, going on social media is going to affect your mood in one way or another — shouldn't we try to understand that dynamic? Is there a way Facebook can run experiments like these ethically? (Or Twitter, or Google, or any similarly massive company, of course.)
Facebook

Interview With Facebook's Head of Open Source 29

Posted by timothy
from the complete-transparency dept.
Czech37 writes Facebook may be among the world's most well-known tech companies, but it's not renowned for being at the forefront of open source. In reality, they have over 200 open source projects on GitHub and they've recently partnered with Google, Dropbox, and Twitter (among others) to create the TODO group, an organization committed to furthering the open source cause. In an interview with Opensource.com, Facebook's James Pearce talks about the progress the company has made in rebooting their open source approach and what's on the horizon for the social media network.
Cloud

Apple Allegedly Knew of iCloud Brute-Force Vulnerability Since March 93

Posted by samzenpus
from the heads-up dept.
blottsie writes Apple knew as early as March 2014 of a security hole that left the personal data of iCloud users vulnerable, according to leaked emails between the company and a noted security researcher. In a March 26 email, security researcher Ibrahim Balic tells an Apple official that he's successfully bypassed a security feature designed to prevent "brute-force" attacks. Balic goes on to explain to Apple that he was able to try over 20,000 passwords combinations on any account.
Censorship

DuckDuckGo Now Blocked In China 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the fowl-play-suspected dept.
wabrandsma sends this news from Tech In Asia: Privacy-oriented search engine DuckDuckGo is now blocked in China. On Sunday DuckDuckGo founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg confirmed to Tech in Asia that the team has noticed the blockage in China on Twitter. DuckDuckGo had been working fine in mainland China since its inception, aside from the occasional 'connection reset' experienced when accessing many overseas websites from within the country. But now the search engine is totally blocked in China. ... [T]he GreatFire index of blocked sites suggest that DuckDuckGo got whacked on September 4. DuckDuckGo joins Google in being censored and blocked in the nation. Google, after years of being throttled by China's Great Firewall since the web giant turned off its mainland China servers in 2010, was finally blocked totally in June this year.
Education

How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything 795

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-keep-using-that-word-I-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry writes at The Week, "If you ask most people what science is, they will give you an answer that looks a lot like Aristotelian 'science' — i.e., the exact opposite of what modern science actually is. Capital-S Science is the pursuit of capital-T Truth. And science is something that cannot possibly be understood by mere mortals. It delivers wonders. It has high priests. It has an ideology that must be obeyed. This leads us astray. ... Countless academic disciplines have been wrecked by professors' urges to look 'more scientific' by, like a cargo cult, adopting the externals of Baconian science (math, impenetrable jargon, peer-reviewed journals) without the substance and hoping it will produce better knowledge. ... This is how you get people asserting that 'science' commands this or that public policy decision, even though with very few exceptions, almost none of the policy options we as a polity have have been tested through experiment (or can be). People think that a study that uses statistical wizardry to show correlations between two things is 'scientific' because it uses high school math and was done by someone in a university building, except that, correctly speaking, it is not. ... This is how you get the phenomenon ... thinking science has made God irrelevant, even though, by definition, religion concerns the ultimate causes of things and, again, by definition, science cannot tell you about them. ... It also means that for all our bleating about 'science' we live in an astonishingly unscientific and anti-scientific society. We have plenty of anti-science people, but most of our 'pro-science' people are really pro-magic (and therefore anti-science). "
China

Why a Chinese Company Is the Biggest IPO Ever In the US 191

Posted by timothy
from the visible-from-space dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has made headlines lately in US financial news. At the closing of its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on Friday, it had raised $21.8 billion on the New York Stock Exchange, larger even than Visa's ($17.9 billion), Facebook's ($16 billion), and General Motors ($15.8 billion) IPOs. Some critics do say that Alibaba's share price will plummet from its current value of $93.60 in the same way that Facebook's and Twitter's plummeted dramatically after initial offerings. Before we speculate, however, we should take note of what Alibaba is exactly. Beyond the likes of Amazon and eBay, Alibaba apparently links average consumers directly to manufacturers, which is handy for an economy ripe for change. Approximately half of Alibaba's shares "were sold to 25 investment firms", and "most of the shares went to US investors."
Businesses

Microsoft Lays Off 2,100, Axes Silicon Valley Research 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-of-the-line dept.
walterbyrd writes with news of Microsoft layoffs. Microsoft Corp will close its Silicon Valley research-and-development operation as part of 2,100 layoffs announced on Thursday, as it moves toward its new CEO's goal of cutting 18,000 staff, or about 14 percent of its workforce. News of the closure of the Microsoft Research lab at the company's campus in Mountain View, California, was first made public on Twitter by employees. The company later confirmed the move and said it would involve the loss of 50 jobs.
Build

Are Matt's Robot Hexapods Creepy or Cute? (Video) 35

Posted by Roblimo
from the you-put-your-right-foot-in-you-put-your-right-foot-out-you-pick-up-a-human-and-shake-it-all-about dept.
University of Arizona grad student Matt Bunting doesn't come across as a mad scientist. That's a very good thing, because his robot hexapod creations are easy to imagine crawling across the USA in large hordes, devouring everything in their path and using all the electricity they come across to feed their Queen Hexapod, a 3-D printer mounted on a hexapod chassis that turns everything fed to it into more robots. Luckily, the real life Matt is an affable (self-described) "Roboticist, Electrical Engineer, Musician, and Rock Crawler" who freely admits that at this time his robotic creations have no practical application whatsoever. This is probably true, except for the fact that they can liven up a music video like mad, as you can see on YouTube in Pedals Music Video (featuring REAL robots) . Our little video is a lot simpler, of course. In it, we interview Matt and he tells us what he's up to with his robots, and gives some 'how to get started with robotics' advice for budding young engineers. (Alternate Video Link)

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