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Education

Code.org Disses Wolfram Language, Touts Apple's Swift Playgrounds (edsurge.com) 241

America is changing the way it teaches computer science. "There are now 31 states that allow CS to count towards high school graduation," according to an announcement this week by the White House, while a new Advance Placement course "will be offered in more than 2,000 U.S. classrooms this fall...the largest course launch in the history of the AP exam." But what's the best way to teach coding? theodp reports: Tech-backed Code.org, one of the leaders of the new CSforAll Consortium that was announced at the White House on Wednesday, took to its blog Thursday to say "Thanks, Tim [Cook], for supporting the effort to give every student the opportunity to learn computer science," giving a shout out to Apple for providing "resources for teachers who want to put Swift Playgrounds in their classrooms. (A day earlier, the White House said Apple developed Swift Playgrounds "in support of the President's call to action" for CS for All).

Curiously, Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi argued Friday that "the Wolfram Language has serious shortcomings for broad educational use" in an EdSurge op-ed that was called a "response to a recent blog post by Stephen Wolfram" on Wolfram's ambitious plan to teach computational thinking in schools. Partovi's complaints? "It requires login for all but the simplest use cases, but doesn't provide any privacy safeguards for young children (required in the U.S. through legislation such as COPPA). Also, a serious user would need to pay for usage, making implementation inaccessible in most schools. Lastly, it's a bit difficult to use by students who struggle with English reading or writing, such as English language learners or early elementary school students."

The submission ultimately asks how should computer science be taught to teenagers. "Would you be inclined to embrace Wolfram's approach, Apple's Swift Playgrounds, Microsoft TEALS' Java-centric AP CS curriculum, or something else (e.g., R, Tableau, Excel+VBA)?"
Encryption

How The FBI Might've Opened the San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone 5c (schneier.com) 66

"Remember the San Bernardino killer's iPhone, and how the FBI maintained that they couldn't get the encryption key without Apple providing them with a universal backdoor?" Slashdot reader LichtSpektren quotes Bruce Schneier: Many of us computer-security experts said that they were wrong, and there were several possible techniques they could use. One of them was manually removing the flash chip from the phone, extracting the memory, and then running a brute-force attack without worrying about the phone deleting the key. The FBI said it was impossible. We all said they were wrong. Now, Sergei Skorobogatov has proved them wrong.
Sergei's new paper describes "a real world mirroring attack on the Apple iPhone 5c passcode retry counter under iOS 9." The process does not require any expensive and sophisticated equipment. All needed parts are low cost and were obtained from local electronics distributors. By using the described and successful hardware mirroring process it was possible to bypass the limit on passcode retry attempts... Although the process can be improved, it is still a successful proof-of-concept project.
IOS

iPhone 7 Home Button Now Requires Skin Contact To Work (todaysiphone.com) 167

Gone are the days of pressing the home button of your iPhone with an inanimate object. With the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the home button can only be activated when in contact with skin. TodaysiPhone reports: The new "solid-state" Home button found in the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus appears to require skin contact to function. As the season gets colder, and as people put gloves on, users will quickly realize that attempting to unlock the iPhone with said gloves or with a sleeve of a shirt over your finger will not work. And with the new lock screen in iOS 10, there's no way to bring up the passcode screen without pressing the Home button. Tests have shown that using gloves designed for touch screens will get an iPhone 6s Plus to unlock but not an iPhone 7 Plus. As most of us know, the Home button in the iPhone 7 is no longer a physical button -- it sits flush and uses the iPhone's haptic feedback to give the sensation of a button press. Because the button requires skin contact, it's lead us to believe that the Home button on the iPhone 7 uses Touch ID to figure out if you're pressing the button. The report notes that Carl Hancock on Twitter was able to activate the Home button using gloves made to work specifically with touch screens. The reason (in a nutshell) why we cannot interact with the capacitive Home button when wearing gloves is because the gloves block the body's natural conductivity -- humans conduct electricity and Apple's new Home button (as well as most touch screens) has an electrical charge. On the flip side, the reason why the Home button registers our skin is because it distorts the screen's electrostatic field at the point of contact, thus triggering an action.
Desktops (Apple)

23 Years Later: the Apple II Receives Another OS Update (arstechnica.com) 81

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Yesterday, software developer John Brooks released what is clearly a work of pure love: the first update to an operating system for the Apple II computer family since 1993. ProDOS 2.4, released on the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Apple II GS, brings the enhanced operating system to even older Apple II systems, including the original Apple ][ and ][+. Which is pretty remarkable, considering the Apple ][ and ][+ don't even support lower-case characters. You can test-drive ProDOS 2.4 in a Web-based emulator set up by computer historian Jason Scott on the Internet Archive. The release includes Bitsy Bye, a menu-driven program launcher that allows for navigation through files on multiple floppy (or hacked USB) drives. Bitsy Bye is an example of highly efficient code: it runs in less than 1 kilobyte of RAM. There's also a boot utility that is under 400 bytes -- taking up a single block of storage on a disk. The report adds: "In addition to the Bitsy Boot boot utility, the ProDOS 2.4 'floppy' includes a collection of utilities, including a MiniBas tiny BASIC interpreter, disk imaging programs to move files from physical floppies to USB and other disk storage, file utilities, and the 'Unshrink' expander for uncompressing files archived with Shrinkit."
Education

Laurene Jobs Awards $10M To Pet Charter School Network of Zuckerberg, Gates 51

theodp writes: The XQ Institute -- a nonprofit backed by Laurene Powell Jobs (Steve's widow) -- announced the winners of its $100 million competition (Warning: may be paywalled) to rethink the American high school this week. Among the 10 lucky schools winning a $10M grant was Summit Elevate ("a new high school planning to open in Fall 2018"), part of the Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg-supported Summit Charter Schools network (HP CEO Meg Whitman is on Summit's Board). In announcing the grant, XQ praised Basecamp, Summit's personalized learning software platform that was developed by Facebook engineers, which Bill Gates has spent $1+ million on to get schools to adopt it (the NY Times characterized the Facebook-Summit partnership as "more of a ground-up effort to create a national demand for student-driven learning in schools"). U.S. education, it seems, is becoming The Game of Billionaires -- at last May's NewSchools Venture Summit, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (now working for Jobs) was interviewed by former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education and Gates Foundation Program Director Jim Shelton (now working for Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan).
Iphone

Apple Replaced the Headphone Jack On the iPhone 7 With a Fake Speaker Grill (businessinsider.com) 248

Not long ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained why the company felt a need to remove the headphone jack from the new iPhones -- the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. He said, "that jack takes up a lot of space in the phone, a lot of space. And there's a lot of more important things we can provide for the consumer than that jack." His colleague Phil Schiller cited "courage" for the same. As people learn to live in a world where they have to use a dongle to use their existing pair of headphones, gadget repair community iFixit found today that Apple isn't really using that "extra space" it got after getting rid of the headphone jack. BusinessInsider reports: "In place of the headphone jack, we find a component that seems to channel sound from outside the phone into the microphone... or from the Taptic Engine out," they write. Yep -- in the place where the headphone jack used to be there's a piece of molded plastic. "No fancy electronics here, just some well-designed acoustics and molded plastic," iFixit writes.iFixit adds, "Closer inspection shows a new, second lower speaker grille that leads ... nowhere? Interesting." Update: 09/16 21:21 GMT by M : Apple says it's a "barometric vent." The Verge reports: Apparently adding all the waterproofing to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus meant that it was more of a sealed box, and so to be able to have an accurate and working barometer, Apple used that space. The barometer is the thing that allows a phone to measure altitude, and Apple points out that on the iPhone 7 it can measure even minor changes like climbing a flight of stairs.
Businesses

Apple Japan Unit Ordered To Pay $118M Tax For Underreporting Income (reuters.com) 45

Apple's unit in Japan was ordered to pay 12 billion yen, or $118 million tax by local authorities after they determined it had underreported income. Apple has since reportedly paid the sum. From a Reuters report: The Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau determined that the unit, which sends part of its profits earned from fees paid by Japan subscribers to another Apple unit in Ireland to pay for software licensing, had not been paying a withholding tax on those earnings in Japan, according to broadcaster NHK. Apple and other multinational companies have come under much tax scrutiny from governments around the world. The European Union has ordered Apple to pay Ireland 13 billion euros ($14.6 billion) in back taxes after ruling it had received illegal state aid. Apple and Dublin plan to appeal the ruling, arguing the tax treatment was in line with EU law.
Iphone

Apple Is Still Ignoring One of the Biggest iPhone Engineering Flaws of All Time: 'Touch Disease' (slashdot.org) 204

Jason Koebler, writing for Motherboard: As Apple is preparing to ship its brand new iPhone, the company continues to ignore one of the biggest hardware defects to ever plague its smartphone line. Just two years after it was released, the touchscreens of thousands upon thousands of iPhone 6 Pluses are completely losing their functionality under normal use, which experts say is the long-term effect of the engineering flaw that gave us "bendgate." By most accounts, dead touchscreens have become an iPhone 6 Plus epidemic, and yet the company has not commented on it, leaving consumers uninformed and harming independent repair businesses. In many cases, Apple has charged hundreds of dollars to replace a broken phone with a refurbished one that is subject to the same engineering defect that caused the phone to break in the first place. A lawsuit has been filed against Apple, claiming the company "has long been aware of the defective iPhones," but continues to do nothing about it. "Notwithstanding its longstanding knowledge of this design defect, Apple routinely has refused to repair the iPhones without charge when the defect manifests," the lawsuit reads. "Many other iPhone owners have communicated with Apple's employees and agents to request that Apple remedy and/or address the Touchscreen Defect and/or resultant damage at no expense. Apple has failed and/or refused to do so." As for how many iPhones are affected by this? It's hard to tell for sure. But according to an Apple Insider report that cites anonymous Genius Bar employees at four large Apple stores, 11 percent of all iPhone-related service issues at those stores were related to Touch IC problems, and Touch IC issues made up about a third of all iPhone 6 Plus-related problems at those stores.
Bug

T-Mobile To iPhone Users: Do Not Download iOS 10 For Now (zdnet.com) 63

If you have an iPhone, and you're on T-Mobile network, do not install iOS 10 for now. The U.S. carrier warned on Thursday that the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and the iPhone 5SE users who downloaded Apple's newest iOS software were facing connectivity issues. Apple is working on a fix, and T-Mobile expects to resolve things within 48 hours. ZDNet adds: You can power-cycle your iPhone by holding in the power and home button at the same time until you see an Apple logo displayed on the screen. Apple's release of iOS 10 hasn't been perfect. During its first hour of availability on Tuesday, iOS users reported issues with the update stalling just as it finished. Those impacted by the issue were required to use iTunes on a computer to reinstall the update. Despite a rough start, iOS 10 adoption was at nearly 15 percent after just 24 hours, and is currently at 21 perfect nearly two days after availability according to Mixpanel.
IOS

iOS 10 Is Surfacing Hardcore Porn GIFs in iMessage (theverge.com) 181

Apple has found itself in hot water once again. The company's revamped iMessage -- and the inclusion of a range of extensions -- isn't rendering the best of results. Hours after the release of iOS 10 -- which caused issues for some users -- news outlets noticed a "highly sexual" My Little Pony GIF was appearing in searches when curious minds searched for the word "butt". But that wasn't the end of it. The Verge explains the horror: A woman who emailed The Verge this afternoon says her eight-year-old daughter, while trying to send a message to her dad, was presented with "a very explicit image" of "a woman giving oral sex to a well endowed male." Her daughter hadn't searched for anything explicit, just the word "huge." I see the image come up like, holy shit, whoa whoa whoa, that's a hardcore porn image," Tassie Bethany, whose daughter discovered the image, tells The Verge by phone. "I grabbed the phone from her immediately. She typed in the word 'huge,' which isn't sexual in any nature. It's just a word, not like butt or anything else." GIF search is one of the new features built into iMessage in iOS 10. Apple has been prohibiting searches for most sexual terms, but it's a real problem for porn to slip through for an otherwise normal term like "huge."Reminds me of Apple's old porn problems.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Explores the Idea Of Killing Headphone Jack On the MacBook Pro (thenextweb.com) 495

Less than two weeks after Apple unveiled its headphone jack-less iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the company is already exploring the idea of doing the same on its flagship computing lineup. An anonymous reader shares a report on The Next Web: Apple might be going all-in with the wireless revolution as the company is now allegedly considering killing the headphone jack on the MacBook Pro. Users are reporting that as of recently Apple has been asking them to fill in a survey about the way they use their MacBook Pro and one of the questions pertains particularly to the headphone jack. Shared by Blake A. via Twitter, the question reads "Do you ever use the headphone port on your MacBook Pro with Retina display?", suggesting Apple is exploring going jackless with its laptops in the future. Given the Cupertino company just ditched the audio jack on the iPhone 7, the change is likely to eventually come to other Apple products too -- the real question is when.Several Slashdot readers have also confirmed that they have participated in a similar survey with some noting that Apple also asked them about the removable of headphone jack on some of its other computing lineup including the iMac.
Iphone

iOS 10, Released Today, Is Causing Issues For Some Users (thenextweb.com) 133

Apple released iOS 10, the latest iteration of its mobile operating system, roughly an hour ago. If you're planning to update your shiny Apple iPhone or iPad, we will strongly suggest iPhone users to not update for two-three days, especially if an iPhone is your primary phone because it is causing issues for some users. The Next Web reports: According to a growing number of iPhone owners on Twitter, the new iOS 10 update might be worth waiting on. After releasing earlier today, users flocked to the new mobile operating system, as they always do, and a number of them are reporting it's putting the phone into recovery mode, forcing them to go back to wipe the memory, re-install 9.3.5 and then try upgrading again.It's unclear at this point what's causing the issue. At any rate, this isn't the first time a major iOS update has been seeded to users without ironing some critical bugs. Two years ago, iOS 8 had a range of issues, one of which blocked cellular capability on the device. Earlier this year, iOS 9.3 point update also caused issues. And who can forget the Error 53 fiasco?
Iphone

Apple's Next Year iPhone Won't Have the Home Button: NYTimes 217

The reviews for the Apple's new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are live today. The New York Times, for instance, has given the smartphone a fairly positive review. However, in the story, the reporter says that the company's next flagship iPhone won't have the home button (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; here's an alternate source). Instead, the display will serve the purpose of the home button as well, the report added. From the report:Apple is likely to continue making iPhones without headphone jacks, and next year's iPhone will have a full-screen face with the virtual button built directly into the screen, according to two people at the company who spoke on condition of anonymity because the product details are private.
Apple

Apple's Response To Diversity Criticism: 'We Had a Canadian' Onstage at iPhone 7 Event (mic.com) 413

Mic published a report last week in which it criticized the gender divide at Apple's last two iPhone events. The reporter noted that at iPhone 7 event, women spoke for roughly eight minutes at stage compared to men, who spoke for 99. Furthermore, most of the women and people of color who appeared onstage weren't Apple representatives. An Apple spokesperson, who shared the information "off-the-record", had a weird response. The email read, "We may have different interpretations of diversity." The email continues, via Mic report, "he pointed to 'two African-Americans' who spoke at the keynote, neither of whom are actually employed by Apple. He also mentioned 'a Canadian, and a British woman.'"

The reporter has defended the use of "off-the-record" information, noting that Apple PR didn't warn her beforehand -- and as an important ethic in journalism -- they didn't reach an agreement before the Apple PR decided to share things.

Glenn Greenwald writes:They're 100% right. Nobody can unilaterally decree "off the record". Requires a mutual agreement or it doesn't exist.
Businesses

'Paying Taxes Is a Lot Better Than Phony Corporate Courage, Apple' (theintercept.com) 579

theodp writes: Every fall," writes The Intercept's Sam Biddle, "internet and its resident tech mumblers congregate for The Apple Event, a quasi-pagan streaming-video rite in which Tim Cook boasts of just how much money his company is making (a lot) and just how much good it's introducing to the world (this typically involves a new iPhone). This is merely annoying most years; but in 2016, when Apple is loudly, publicly denying its tax obligations around the world, it's just gross." Biddle finds Apple's use of the word 'courage' to describe the corporate ethos that pushed the company to remove the headphone plug from the newest iPhone while offering a new pair of $160 jack-free earbuds particularly irksome: "Removing a headphone jack or adding 20 headphone jacks does not require courage; engineers are very smart, but their job does not typically require much bravery. Courage is more often found in, say, running into a burning school to rescue the students and class rodent. Or, maybe, you could call courageous the act of paying the many billions you owe around the world into the system that ensures those students have all of the resources they need in order to learn and grow. Just a hint: Collaborative spreadsheet software doesn't count [introducing new real-time collaboration features, Cook called iWork a "very important tool in education"].

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