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The Internet

Connecting the Unwired World With Balloons, Satellites, Lasers & Drones 3

1sockchuck writes: New projects are seeking to connect the unwired world using balloons, drones, lasers and satellites to deliver wireless Internet. There are dueling low-earth orbit satellite initiatives backed by billionaires Elon Musk (SpaceX) and Richard Branson (OneWeb), while Google's Project Loon is using balloons (which sometimes crash) and Facebook is building a solar-powered UAV (Project Aquila). “The Connectivity Lab team is very focused on the technical challenges of reaching those people who are typically in the more rural, unconnected parts of the world,” Jay Parikh, vice president of engineering at Facebook says. “I think that we need to get them access. My hope is that we are able to deliver a very rich experience to them, including videos, photos and—some day—virtual reality and all of that stuff. But it’s a multi-, multi-, multi-year challenge, and I don’t see any end in sight right now.”
Networking

New FCC Rules Could Ban WiFi Router Firmware Modification 235

An anonymous reader writes: Hackaday reports that the FCC is introducing new rules which ban firmware modifications for the radio systems in WiFi routers and other wireless devices operating in the 5 GHz range. The vast majority of routers are manufactured as System on Chip devices, with the radio module and CPU integrated in a single package. The new rules have the potential to effectively ban the installation of proven Open Source firmware on any WiFi router.

ThinkPenguin, the EFF, FSF, Software Freedom Law Center, Software Freedom Conservancy, OpenWRT, LibreCMC, Qualcomm, and others have created the SaveWiFi campaign, providing instructions on how to submit a formal complaint to the FCC regarding this proposed rule. The comment period is closing on September 8, 2015. Leave a comment for the FCC.
Security

Bugs In Belkin Routers Allow DNS Spoofing, Credential Theft 48

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? 179

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?
Technology

Shape-Shifting Navigation Device Points You In the Right Direction 38

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."
Networking

OnHub Router -- Google's Smart Home Trojan Horse? 123

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 329

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."
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Suggestions For Taking a Business Out Into the Forest? 146

An anonymous reader writes: I'm a huge fan of primitive survival reality TV. I am also self-employed in web troubleshooting and hosting services. I have to be available 24/7, but a lot of my work is just being online for a few minutes at a time. I often think about taking my business 'outdoors', camping, 3-7 days or so at a time — but staying online. Has anyone had experience with this? How did you do it, in terms of internet connectivity and portable power? Satellite internet or long distance Wi-Fi antennaes and a very tall pole? I've looked at some portable power stations with solar attachments, but the idea of hand-cranking to recharge if it's overcast isn't fun, after all, the point is to relax. But I'm willing to manually recharge if it's realistic (would prefer pedaling though!) I happen to have a Toughbook CF-52 (I just thought it was cool) but I may need to replace that with a more eco-friendly laptop as well. Thanks!
Wireless Networking

French Woman Gets €800/month For Electromagnetic-Field 'Disability' 456

An anonymous reader writes: If you were dismayed to hear Tuesday's news that a school is being sued over Wi-Fi sickness, you might be even more disappointed in a recent verdict by the French judicial system. A court based in Toulouse has awarded a disability claim of €800 (~$898) per month for three years over a 39-year-old woman's "hypersensitivity to electromagnetic waves." Robin Des Toits, an organization that campaigns for "sufferers" of this malady, was pleased: "We can no longer say that it is a psychiatric illness." (Actually, we can and will.) The woman has been living in a remote part of France's south-west mountains with no electricity around. She claims to be affected by common gadgets like cellphones.
Security

Most Healthcare Managers Admit Their IT Systems Have Been Compromised 122

Lucas123 writes: Eighty-one percent of healthcare IT managers say their organizations have been compromised by at least one malware, botnet or other kind of cyber attack during the past two years, and only half of those managers feel that they are adequately prepared to prevent future attacks, according to a new survey by KPMG. The KPMG survey polled 223 CIOs, CTOs, chief security officers and chief compliance officers at healthcare providers and health plans, and found 65% indicated malware was most frequently reported line of attack during the past 12 to 24 months. Additionally, those surveyed indicated the areas with the greatest vulnerabilities within their organization include external attackers (65%), sharing data with third parties (48%), employee breaches (35%), wireless computing (35%) and inadequate firewalls (27%). Top among reasons healthcare facilities are facing increased risk, was the adoption of digital patient records and the automation of clinical systems.
The Internet

Why In-Flight Wi-Fi Is Still Slow and Expensive 193

An anonymous reader writes: Let's grant that having access to the internet while on an airplane is pretty amazing. When airlines first began offering it several years ago, it was agonizingly slow and somewhat pricey as well. Unfortunately, it's only gotten more expensive over the years, and the speeds are still frustrating. This is in part because the main provider of in-flight internet, Gogo, knows most of its regular customers will pay for it, regardless of cost. Business travelers with expense accounts don't care if it's $1 or $10 or $50 — they need to stay connected. Data speeds haven't improved because Gogo says the scale isn't big enough to do much infrastructure investment, and most of the hardware is custom-made. A third of Gogo-equipped planes can manage 10 Mbps, while the rest top out at 3 Mbps. There's hope on the horizon — the company says a new satellite service should enable 70 Mbps per plane by the end of the year — but who knows how much they'll charge for an actual useful connection.
Networking

Virgin Media To Base a Public Wi-Fi Net On Paying Customers' Routers 113

An anonymous reader writes with a story that Virgin Media "announced this month its plans to roll out a free public WiFi network this autumn, using subscribers' personal routers and existing infrastructure to distribute the service across UK cities." And while regular customers' routers are to be the basis of the new network, the publicly viewable overlay would operate over "a completely separate connection," and the company claims subscribers' performance will not be hindered. Why, then, would customers bother to pay? For one thing, because the free version is slow: 0.5Mbps, vs. 10Mbps for Virgin's customers.
Advertising

Why Google Wants To Sell You a Wi-Fi Router 198

lpress writes: Last quarter, Google made $16 billion on advertising and $1.7 billion on "other sales." I don't know how "other sales" breaks down, but a chunk of that is hardware devices like the Pixel Chromebook, Chromecast, Next thermostat, Nexus phone and, now, WiFi routers. Does the world need another $200 home router? Why would Google bother? I can think of a couple of strategic reasons — they hope it will become a home-automation hub (competing with the Amazon Echo) and it will enable them to dynamically configure and upgrade your home or small office network for improved performance (hence more ads).
Businesses

Sprint Drops Two-Year Contracts 112

An anonymous reader writes: Following the recent news that Verizon has ended smartphone subsidies, now Sprint has announced it is ending two-year contracts as well. This leaves AT&T as the last of the major carriers to offer such a plan. Most consumers will now have to get used to paying full price for their phones, though Sprint is also running a phone-leasing plan that lets people pay an additional $22/month for an 16GB iPhone, with yearly upgrades.
Communications

FCC Fines Smart City $750K For Blocking Wi-Fi 188

schwit1 writes: FCC's Enforcement Bureau today announced a $750,000 settlement with Smart City Holdings, LLC for blocking consumers' Wi-Fi at various convention centers around the United States. Smart City, an Internet and telecommunications provider for conventions, meeting centers, and hotels, had been blocking personal mobile 'hotspots' that were being used by convention visitors and exhibitors who used their own data plans rather than paying Smart City substantial fees to use the company's Wi-Fi service.
Medicine

Video WearDuino Uses Arduinos to Make Wearable Medical Sensors (Video) 14

WearDuino, now being developed by PDX Wearable Health Lab, is the brainchild of Mark Leavitt, MD, PhD; "an experimenter, maker, mentor and consultant in wearable health technologies, drawing on his lifelong experience in the fields of engineering and medicine." The WearDuino, he says, "is an open source wearable wireless sensor." The prototype fits in a FitBit case because, according to Dr. Leavitt, there are millions of unused ones out there, both surplussed by people who bought Fitbits and then stopped using them, and in the form of aftermarket cases sold to make your Fitbit cuter than when it came from the factory. In any case, WearDuino is still in the prototype stage. Dr. Leavitt plans to look for funding through Crowd Supply, but isn't "there" yet, so if you want to get on board with this health wearables project, you'll want to sign up for their Google Group or follow them on Twitter. You might also want to check out Quantified Self (tag line: "self knowledge through numbers"), and even if you vastly prefer videos to text articles, check out the text transcript ("Show/Hide Transcript") attached to this article, because it contains nearly twice as much information as the video, and goes a little deeper than the video into Dr. Leavitt's reasons for building the WearDuino -- none of which are financial gain, believe it or not.
Wireless Networking

The Promise of 5G 158

An anonymous reader writes: From instant monitoring of leaking pipelines, to real-time worldwide collaboration, the increase in machine-to-machine communications that 5G allows will change the way we live. This TechCrunch article takes a look at the promise that 5G holds and its possibilities. From the article: "By 2030, 5G will transform and create many uses that we cannot even think of yet. We will live in a world that will have 10-100 times more Internet-connected devices than there are humans. Hundreds of billions of machines will be sensing, processing and transmitting data without direct human control and intervention."
Communications

New Rules From the FCC Open Up New Access To Wi-Fi 64

CarlottaHapsburg writes: White space — unused channels in the VHF and UHF spectrum — is already part of daily life, from old telephones to going online at your coffee shop or plugging in baby monitors. The time has come to 'permit unlicensed fixed and personal/portable white space devices and unlicensed wireless microphones to use channels in the 600 MHz and television broadcast bands,' according to the FCC. One of the ramifications is that Wi-Fi could now blanket urban areas, as well as bringing it to rural areas and machine-to-machine technology. Rice University has tested a super Wi-Fi network linked by next-generation TV or smart remotes. Carriers are sure to be unhappy about this, but consumers will have the benefit of a newly open web.
Communications

Can Cuba Skip Cell Phone Connectivity? 138

lpress writes: Cuba has a second generation cellular network and Internet access is limited to about 5% of the population via work and school accounts and (mostly dial up) access in a few homes, so it was big news when they rolled out 35 public WiFi hotspots. Can they expand this public WiFi and skip 3G and 4G cell infrastructure until 5G equipment is available in about five years? By then, the US trade embargo will be gone, the Cuban economy will be improved and 5G and other wireless technologies will be available. Will they even need cell phone capability by then? The linked post has some interesting musings that apply to places other than Cuba, as well.