Polls on the front page of Slashdot? Is the world coming to an end?! Nope; read more about it. ×
Patents

Khan Academy Seeks Patents On Learning Computer Programming, Social Programming 91

Posted by timothy
from the well-that-sounds-bad dept.
theodp writes: When it announced its brand new Computer Science platform in August 2012, Khan Academy explained it drew inspiration from both Bret Victor and GitHub (SlideShare). Still, that didn't stop Khan Academy from eventually seeking patents on its apparently Victor-inspired Methods and Systems for Learning Computer Programming and GitHub-inspired Systems and Methods for Social Programming, applications for which were quietly disclosed by the USPTO earlier this year. Silicon Valley legal powerhouse Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which provides a pro bono team of 20+ to assist billionaire-backed Khan Academy with its legal needs, filed provisional patent applications for KA in August 2013 — provisional applications can be filed up to 12 months following an inventor's public disclosure of the invention — giving it another 12 months before formal claims had to be filed (KA's non-provisional applications were filed in August 2014).
Android

An Early Look At Android M's Multi-Window Mode For Tablets 88

Posted by timothy
from the multi-tasking dept.
Ars Technica has a look at the experimental multi-window mode in the just-announced Android M. It's not a headlining feature yet: "buggy, busted, and buried, but intriguing nonetheless" is how Ars describes it. Android Police is similarly faint in its praise. All that might be true, but to many users even a partly working multi-window mode would be welcome, especially one blessed by Google. (Some Samsung users have had multi-window support for a while, but not built into the OS proper, and multi-window capabilities can be found via app, too.)
Microsoft

Windows 10 RTM In 6 Weeks 287

Posted by timothy
from the but-apple's-had-10-for-years dept.
Billly Gates writes: Ars Technica has the scoop on a new build with less flat icons and a confirmation of a mid July release date. While Microsoft is in a hurry to fix the damage done by the Windows 8 versions of its operating system, the next question is, is ready for prime time? On Neowin there's a list of problems already mentioned by MS and its users with this latest release, including Wi-Fi and sound not working without a reboot, and users complaining about tiles and apps not working in the new start menu.
Communications

Orange County Public Schools To Monitor Students On Social Media 166

Posted by timothy
from the well-that's-air-tight dept.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Orange County, Florida, is undertaking a sweeping effort to snoop on the social media communications of the county's public school students and staff, for the nebulous task of "[ensuring] safe school operations," and say they will use the software (at a license cost of about $13,000 per year) "to conduct routine monitoring for purposes of prevention or early intervention of potential issues where students or staff could be at risk to themselves or to others." The software they're using is from Snaptrends, which offers "location-based social media discovery." According to one of the comments attached to the linked story, there are monthly fees, in addition to the annual licensing cost.
Biotech

Hacking Your Body Through a Nerve In Your Neck 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
agent elevator writes: IEEE Spectrum has a feature (part of its Hacking the Human OS issue) on the future of vagus nerve stimulation, a device-based therapy with the potential to treat a ridiculously wide variety of ailments: epilepsy, depression, stroke, tinnitus, heart failure, migraines, asthma, the list goes on. One problem is that, because it required an implant (a bit like a pacemaker), it was never anybody's first-choice therapy. But now there's a non-invasive version, a device you just hold to your neck twice a day for a few minutes. It's being trialed first for migraines and cluster headaches (which sound horrible). If it works, vagus nerve stimulation could compete directly with drug treatments on cost and convenience and it would let doctors find new ways to hack human physiology.
Iphone

A Text Message Can Crash An iPhone and Force It To Reboot 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the easy-way-to-get-your-kids-to-put-the-phone-down dept.
DavidGilbert99 writes with news that a bug in iOS has made it so anyone can crash an iPhone by simply sending it a text message containing certain characters. "When the text message is displayed by a banner alert or notification on the lockscreen, the system attempts to abbreviate the text with an ellipsis. If the ellipsis is placed in the middle of a set of non-Latin script characters, including Arabic, Marathi and Chinese, it causes the system to crash and the phone to reboot." The text string is specific enough that it's unlikely to happen by accident, and users can disable text notification banners to protect themselves from being affected. However, if a user receives the crash-inducing text, they won't be able to access the Messages app without causing another crash. A similar bug crashed applications in OS X a few years ago.
Cellphones

Mozilla Drops $25 Smartphone Plans, Will Focus On Higher Quality Devices 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the disposing-of-disposable-technology dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When Mozilla developed Firefox OS, its goal was not to provide the best smartphone experience, but to provide a "good enough" smartphone experience for a very low price. Unfortunately, these cheap handsets failed to make a dent in the overall smartphone market, and the organization is now shifting its strategy to start producing a better experience for better devices. CEO Chris Beard said, "If you are going to try to play in that world, you need to offer something that is so valuable that people are willing to give up access to the broader ecosystem. In the mass market, that's basically impossible." Of course, when moving to the midrange smartphone market, or even the high end, there's still plenty of competition, so the new strategy may not work any better. However, they've hinted at plans to start supporting Android apps, which could help them play catch-up. Beard seems fixated on this new goal: "We won't allow ourselves to be distracted, and we won't expand to new segments until significant traction is demonstrated." He adds, "We will build products that feel like Mozilla."
GUI

Microsoft Tries Another Icon Theme For Windows 10 236

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-solid-color-rectangles dept.
jones_supa writes: Back in February, users decried the new icon look in Windows 10. In response to that feedback, Microsoft has implemented a new icon pack in build 10125, which was leaked early but expected to arrive soon for Technical Preview testers. Screenshots show what the final version of the OS could look like when it goes live this summer. The new icons go all-in on a flat approach, following the same design cues as the rest of the operating system, but the "pixel art" style has been abandoned. Once again, Softpedia asked for user experiences, and this time the comments have been mostly positive.
Operating Systems

Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-run-on-your-brilloPad dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new report from The Information (paywalled) says Google is working on an operating system called "Brillo" that would be a platform for Internet-of-things devices. It's supposedly a lightweight version of Android, capable of running on devices with extremely limited hardware — as little as 32 MB of RAM, for example. The company is expected to launch the code for Brillo at its I/O event next week. This is particularly relevant now that Google has acquired Nest, Dropcam, and Revolv — a trio of "smart home" companies whose devices could potentially by unified by Brillo.
Windows

25 Years Today - Windows 3.0 387

Posted by timothy
from the hindsight-is-warm-and-fuzzy dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Windows 3.0 was launched on 22 May 1990 — I know, 'coz I was there as a SDE on the team. I still have, um, several of the shrink-wrapped boxes of the product — with either 3.5 inch and 5.25 floppies rattling around inside them — complete with their distinctive 'I witnessed the event' sticker!

It was a big deal for me, and I still consider Win 3 as *the* most significant Windows' release, and I wonder what other Slashdotters think, looking back on Win 3?
China

Huawei's LiteOS Internet of Things Operating System Is a Minuscule 10KB 175

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-future dept.
Mark Wilson writes: Chinese firm Huawei today announces its IoT OS at an event in Beijing. The company predicts that within a decade there will be 100 billion connected devices and it is keen for its ultra-lightweight operating system to be at the heart of the infrastructure. Based on Linux, LiteOS weighs in at a mere 10KB — smaller than a Word document — but manages to pack in support for zero configuration, auto-discovery, and auto-networking. The operating system will be open for developers to tinker with, and is destined for use in smart homes, wearables, and connected vehicles. LiteOS will run on Huawei's newly announced Agile Network 3.0 Architecture and the company hopes that by promoting a standard infrastructure, it will be able to push the development of internet and IoT applications
Firefox

First Smart TVs Powered By Firefox OS On Sale In Europe, Worldwide Soon 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The first smart TVs powered by Firefox OS have gone on sale in Europe. Panasonic's line of Viera smart TVs includes six that are powered by Firefox OS — CR850, CR730, CX800, CX750, CX700 and CX680 — including their first curved LED LCD TV. The full global launch of the TVs is expected “in the coming months.” From the Mozilla blog: "We’re happy to partner with Panasonic to bring the first Smart TVs powered by Firefox OS to the world,” said Andreas Gal, Mozilla CTO. “With Firefox and Firefox OS powered devices, users can enjoy a custom and connected Web experience and take their favorite content (apps, videos, photos, websites) across devices without being locked into one proprietary ecosystem or brand.”
Windows

How Windows 10 Performs On a 12-inch MacBook 241

Posted by Soulskill
from the burning-questions dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As Microsoft prepares for the launch of Windows 10, review sites have been performing all sorts of benchmarks on the tech preview to evaluate how well the operating system will run. But now a computer science student named Alex King has made the most logical performance evaluation of all: testing Windows 10's performance on a 2015 MacBook. He says, "Here's the real kicker: it's fast. It's smooth. It renders at 60FPS unless you have a lot going on. It's unequivocally better than performance on OS X, further leading me to believe that Apple really needs to overhaul how animations are done. Even when I turn Transparency off in OS X, Mission Control isn't completely smooth. Here, even after some Aero Glass transparency has been added in, everything is smooth. It's remarkable, and it makes me believe in the 12-inch MacBook more than ever before. So maybe it's ironic that in some regards, the new MacBook runs Windows 10 (a prerelease version, at that) better than it runs OS X."
Graphics

Oculus Rift Hardware Requirements Revealed, Linux and OS X Development Halted 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the sad-penguin dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Oculus has selected the baseline hardware requirements for running their Rift virtual reality headset. To no one's surprise, they're fairly steep: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater, Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater, and 8GB+ RAM. It will also require at least two USB 3.0 ports and "HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture."

Oculus chief architect Atman Binstock explains: "On the raw rendering costs: a traditional 1080p game at 60Hz requires 124 million shaded pixels per second. In contrast, the Rift runs at 2160×1200 at 90Hz split over dual displays, consuming 233 million pixels per second. At the default eye-target scale, the Rift's rendering requirements go much higher: around 400 million shaded pixels per second. This means that by raw rendering costs alone, a VR game will require approximately 3x the GPU power of 1080p rendering." He also points out that PC graphics can afford a fluctuating frame rate — it doesn't matter too much if it bounces between 30-60fps. The Rift has no such luxury, however.

The last requirement is more onerous: WIndows 7 SP1 or newer. Binstock says their development for OS X and Linux has been "paused" so they can focus on delivering content for Windows. They have no timeline for going back to the less popular platforms.
Operating Systems

MenuetOS, an Operating System Written Entirely In Assembly, Hits 1.0 368

Posted by Soulskill
from the done-until-it's-more-done dept.
angry tapir writes: MenuetOS, a GUI-toting, x86-based operating system written entirely in assembly language that's super-fast and can fit on a floppy disk, has hit version 1.0 — after almost a decade and a half of development. (And yes, it can run Doom). The developers say it's stable on all hardware with which they've tested it. In this article, they talk about what MenuetOS can do, and what they plan for the future. "For version 2.0 we'll mostly keep improving different application classes, which are already present in 1.00. For example, more options for configuring the GUI and improving the HTTP client. The kernel is already working well, so now we have more time to focus on driver and application side."
Security

GPU Malware Can Also Affect Windows PCs, Possibly Macs 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
itwbennett writes: A team of anonymous developers who recently created a Linux rootkit that runs on graphics cards has released a new proof-of-concept malware program that does the same on Windows. A Mac OS X implementation is also in the works. The problem the developers are trying to highlight lies not with the operating systems, such as Windows or Linux, nor with the GPU (graphics processor unit) vendors, but rather with existing security tools, which aren't designed to scan the random access memory used by GPUs for malware code.
IOS

Swift Vs. Objective-C: Why the Future Favors Swift 270

Posted by samzenpus
from the things-to-come dept.
snydeq writes: InfoWorld's Paul Solt argues that It's high time to make the switch to the more approachable, full-featured Swift for iOS and OS X app dev. He writes in Infoworld: "Programming languages don't die easily, but development shops that cling to fading paradigms do. If you're developing apps for mobile devices and you haven't investigated Swift, take note: Swift will not only supplant Objective-C when it comes to developing apps for the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and devices to come, but it will also replace C for embedded programming on Apple platforms. Thanks to several key features, Swift has the potential to become the de-facto programming language for creating immersive, responsive, consumer-facing applications for years to come."
Windows

Windows 10 the Last Version of Windows? Not So Fast. 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the branding-is-the-devil dept.
A multitude of tech sites are breathlessly reporting that Windows 10 will be the last version of Windows. These claims are based on a brief comment from developer evangelist Jerry Nixon while speaking a Microsoft Ignite session on "Tiles, Notifications, and Action Center." However, as Paul Thurrott points out, you probably shouldn't take this news too seriously. Windows development has been changing for the past several years. At the very least, we've known since we learned Windows 8 would be developed for multiple form factors. We've known it specifically about Windows 10 since it was announced — Microsoft has talked about transitioning away from giant, monolithic updates. Thurrott says, The reason anyone is talking like this is that Microsoft is pushing a "Windows as a service" vision, which doesn't mean "subscription service" but rather that it plans to upgrade Windows 10 going forward with both functional and security updates, plus of course bug fixes. You know, just like it's done with every single version of Windows. Ever. ... In other words, nothing to see here. Beyond the usual: things change. If it makes sense to keep updating Windows 10 and not change the brand or version number, Microsoft will do that. If it makes sense to release something called Windows 10 R2, Windows 11, or Windows Yoghurt — seriously, who cares? — then they'll do that.
Debian

Linux Mint Will Continue To Provide Both Systemd and Upstart 347

Posted by timothy
from the shades-of-the-gnome-transition dept.
jones_supa writes: After Debian adopted systemd, many other Linux distributions based on that operating system made the switch as well. Ubuntu has already rolled out systemd in 15.04, but Linux Mint is providing dual options for users. The Ubuntu transition was surprisingly painless, and no one really put up a fight, but the Linux Mint team chose the middle ground. The Mint developers consider that the project needs to still wait for systemd to become more stable and mature, before it will be the default and only option.
Open Source

Why Was Linux the Kernel That Succeeded? 469

Posted by samzenpus
from the belle-of-the-ball dept.
jones_supa writes: "One of the most puzzling questions about the history of free and open source software is this: Why did Linux succeed so spectacularly, whereas similar attempts to build a free or open source, Unix-like operating system kernel met with considerably less success?" Christopher Tozzi has rounded up some theories, focusing specifically on kernels, not complete operating systems. These theories take a detailed look at the decentralized development structure, pragmatic approach to things, and the rich developer community, all of which worked in favor of Linux.