exomondo writes "Google has a plan to circumvent the problem of fragmentation of its Android operating system across the installed base by using its proprietary, closed-source Google Play Services. Play Services is a privileged service that runs on Android and provides the sort of functionality to applications that would generally be seen in operating system updates like cloud backup, remote wipe, push messaging, etc... This service can be updated silently and independently of the operating system and runs on almost every version of Android out there allowing Google to add functionality to Android devices without having to go through the OEMs so having an up-to-date version of Android is looking like less of a necessity." It might be worth noting that Google originally rejected copyleft in favor of permissive licensing in the name of giving OEMs and carriers more control over Android on their devices.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
ciaran_o_riordan writes "A rare glimpse at the human harm of a software patent lawsuit: company receives 500,000 calls complaining about video quality after a video call system was forced to change to avoid a patent. That's a lot of people having a bad day. We don't usually hear these details because the court documents get ordered sealed and the lawyers only say what the companys' communication strategists allow. However, for VirnetX v. Apple, Jeff Lease decided to go the hearings, take notes, and give them to a journalist. While most coverage is focussing on the fines involved, doubling or halving Apple's fine would have a much smaller impact on your day than the removal of a feature from some software you like. Instead of letting the software patents debate be reduced to calls for sympathy for big companies getting fined, what other evidence is out there, like this story, for harm caused directly to software users?"
sfcrazy writes "Kubuntu is one of those few GNULinux based distributions which brings the two leading technologies together — Ubuntu and KDE. There are quite a lot of businesses which are using this combination in their set-up. Until now there was no professional support available for Kubuntu users. To fill this gap the Kubuntu community has launched commercial support for businesses, organizations and individuals. The Kubuntu team is partnering with Emerge Open to offer this service which is called 'Kubuntu Commercial Support provided by Emerge Open'."
hackingbear writes "Yang Yuanqing, founder and CEO of Chinese PC maker Lenovo, will share $3.25 million from his bonus with some 10,000 staff in China and 19 other countries. 'Most are hourly manufacturing workers,' Lenovo spokeswoman Angela Lee said. 'As you can imagine, an extra $300 in a manufacturing environment in China does make an impact, especially to employees supporting families.' In its annual review last year, Lenovo raised Yang's base pay to $1.2 million and awarded him a $4.2 million discretionary bonus and a $8.9 million long-term incentive award. Yang owns 7.12% of Lenovo's shares, equivalent to about $720 million in stock."
theodp writes "GeekWire reports on a pending Microsoft patent that proposes to give parents a centralized dashboard on their phones for remotely monitoring and setting restrictions on other family members' mobile devices. The newly-published patent application for Automatically Quieting Mobile Devices explains how parents could use the dashboard to shut down family members' devices during certain time periods, at designated locations, during specified events, and in designated quiet zones. From the patent: 'Aspects that might be disabled include any type of interactive functions and/or features of a device (except, in some examples, initiating emergency telephone calls or emergency text messages and displaying the current time/date or information related to the quiet time may still be permitted), playing games, communicating (via phone, VOIP applications, text messaging, instant messaging, and/or email), using other applications (e.g., browsers, messaging applications, social networking applications, or consuming certain content (e.g., digital media content).' Microsoft also proposes equipping parents' phones with 'biometric detection' to thwart kids who try to circumvent 'Big Mother'."
brindafella writes "When an Australian woman, Vali, was diagnosed with cancer, and treated, she was not looking at a good outcome. Yet, TWO cancer treatments later, she is pregnant with twin girls. Her ovaries were sectioned and frozen before the cancer treatment. She has had her own flesh implanted outside her pelvis. Eggs were gathered, IVF techniques used later with her male partner, and her uterus is now carrying two viable girls due to be born in about 3 months. Melbourne IVF's Associate Professor Kate Stern has explained the process today."
jfruh writes "A lot of ink has been spilled explaining to Boomers and Gen Xers how they can best manage, motivate, and retain talented members of the Millenial generation on the job. But it's a two-way street, and those born in the '80s and later could also use a lesson on how to best communicate with older co-workers, who after all will determine their promotion and pay raises for the foreseeable future. Advice includes: make actual phone calls, mirror the level of formality your co-workers use in e-mails, and for Pete's sake don't ask them things like 'R U going?' in a non-texting medium."
cold fjord writes "The Washington Post reports, 'The CIA found that among a subset of job seekers whose backgrounds raised questions, roughly one out of every five had "significant terrorist and/or hostile intelligence connections," according to the document, which was provided to The Washington Post by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The groups cited most often were Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda and its affiliates, but the nature of the connections was not described in the document. So sharp is the fear of threats from within that last year the NSA planned to launch at least 4,000 probes of potentially suspicious or abnormal staff activity .... The anomalous behavior that sent up red flags could include staffers downloading multiple documents or accessing classified databases they do not normally use for their work, said two people familiar with the software used to monitor employee activity.'"
judgecorp writes "The Syrian Electronic Army has denied media reports that two of its members have been 'outed'. The men were named after people affiliated to Anonynous accessed a large dump of material from a pro-Assad source, but SEA spokespeople say they are merely contacts, not members of the group."
An anonymous reader writes "New research has concluded that global warming is helping pests and diseases that attack crops to spread around the world. 'Researchers from the universities of Exeter and Oxford have found crop pests are moving at an average of two miles (3km) a year. The team said they were heading towards the north and south poles, and were establishing in areas that were once too cold for them to live in. The research is published in the journal Nature Climate Change.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Three HTC executives have been arrested on suspicion of leaking corporate secrets. From the article: Taipei prosecutors confirmed that HTC vice president of product design Thomas Chien, research and development director Wu Chien-Hung and senior manager of design and innovation Justin Huang were arrested on Friday. Mr Chien and Mr Chien-Hung remain in custody, while Mr Huang was released on bail, prosecutors office spokesman Mou Hsin Huang said. The executives were also accused of making false commission fee claims totaling around T$10m ($221,000). No further details about the allegations were immediately available.'"
The Hugo awards were presented last night, providing recognition to the best science fiction of the past year. The award for Best Novel was presented to John Scalzi for Redshirts, a comedic work playing on the trope of low-ranking officers frequently getting themselves killed in sci-fi works. Best Novella went to Brandon Sanderson for The Emperor's Soul, and Best Novelette went to The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi by Pat Cadigan. Best Graphic Story was awarded to the creators of Saga. Best Dramatic Presentation (long form) was given for Joss Whedon's The Avengers movie, and (short form) was presented for the "Blackwater" episode of the Game of Thrones TV show. The Best New Writer was Mur Lafferty. Here's a full list of the nominees and winners.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "Forget the NSA — the DEA has been working hand-in-hand with AT&T on a database of records of every call that passes through AT&T's phone switches going back as far as 1987. The government pays AT&T for contractors who sit side-by-side with DEA agents and do phone records searches for them. From the article: 'For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counter narcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.'"
mdsolar writes in with news about negotiations between the Chinese and the UK over nuclear power plant investments. "The state-owned Chinese nuclear group that is in talks to invest in Britain's new nuclear program wants greater operational control of any new plants it finances, potentially creating a national security headache for the government. China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), is in talks with EDF of France on sharing the cost of building a new plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset, which has an estimated price tag of £14bn. But CGN has made it clear to EDF that it will only proceed if it is given more of a say in running other plants the two companies build together in the UK, according to people familiar with the talks."
cold fjord writes "Fox News reports, '... a psychiatric hospital in central Pennsylvania is now set to become the country's first facility of its kind to offer an inpatient treatment program for people it diagnoses with severe Internet addiction. The voluntary, 10-day program is set to open on Sept. 9 at the Behavioral Health Services at Bradford Regional Medical Center. The program was organized by experts in the field and cognitive specialists with backgrounds in treating more familiar addictions like drug and alcohol abuse. '[Internet addiction] is a problem in this country that can be more pervasive than alcoholism,' said Dr. Kimberly Young, ... 'The Internet is free, legal and fat free.' The program is designed to accommodate four adult patients at a time, with each new class slated to begin treatment on the same day. These classes take part in group therapy and are placed inside a wing of the hospital designated for other addicts. These patients will undergo a psychological evaluation and learn ways they can minimally use the Internet and avoid problematic applications.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Washington Post reports, 'In a case that ruffled feathers in Egypt, authorities have detained a migratory bird that a citizen suspected of being a spy. A man in Egypt's Qena governorate, some 450 kilometers (280 miles) southeast of Cairo, found the suspicious bird among four others near his home and brought them to a police station Friday, said Mohammed Kamal, the head of the security in the region. With turmoil gripping Egypt following the July 3 popularly backed military coup that overthrew the country's president, authorities and citizens remain highly suspicious of anything foreign. Conspiracy theories easily find their ways into cafe discussion — as well as some media in the country. Earlier this year, a security guard filed a police report after capturing a pigeon he said carried microfilm. A previous rumor in 2010 blamed a series of shark attacks along Egypt's Mediterranean coast on an Israeli plot. It wasn't. In the bird's case, even military officials ultimately had to deny the bird carried any spying devices. They spoke Saturday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.'"
mikejuk writes "Researchers at MIT Media Lab are working on an automated personal-computer-based system designed to help people improve interpersonal and conversational skills. The software is called MACH, short for My Automated Conversation coacH (pdf). It makes use of a computer-generated onscreen face to simulate interactive conversations. It performs facial, speech, and behavior analysis and synthesis to emulate human-to-human responses. At the end of the session it provides the user with feedback on their performance. Using a webcam the program can analyze facial expressions, including smiling and head gestures while its voice recognition system analyzes not only what you say but also how you say it and notes non-verbal vocalizations. As feedback you watch the video side-by-side with the analysis of your behavior — see the video of it in action. It has already been shown to improve job interview techniques and other potential uses are coaching in public speaking and dating."