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AT&T

No, Apple Won't Become a Wireless Carrier (fortune.com) 4

Don Reisinger, reporting for Fortune: Apple won't be competing with its carrier partners anytime soon. Speaking at Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam during an interview on Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook squashed rumors that his company is planning to eventually get into the cellular market to compete with the likes of AT&T and Verizon. "Our expertise doesn't extend to the network," Cook said. "We've worked with AT&T in the U.S., O2 in the U.K., as well as T-Mobile and Orange, and we expanded as we learned more. But generally, the things Apple likes to do, are things we can do globally. We don't have the network skill. We'll do some things along the way with e-SIMs along the way, but in general, I like the things carriers do."
Security

Beware Of Keystroke Loggers Disguised As USB Phone Chargers, FBI Warns (arstechnica.com) 15

An anonymous reader cites an article on Ars Technica: FBI officials are warning private industry partners to be on the lookout for highly stealthy keystroke loggers that surreptitiously sniff passwords and other input typed into wireless keyboards. The FBI's Private Industry Notification (PDF) comes more than 15 months after whitehat hacker Samy Kamkar released a KeySweeper, a proof-of-concept attack platform that covertly logged and decrypted keystrokes from many Microsoft-branded wireless keyboards and transmitted the data over cellular networks. To lower the chances that the sniffing device might be discovered by a target, Kamkar designed it to look almost identical to USB phone chargers that are nearly ubiquitous in homes and offices."If placed strategically in an office or other location where individuals might use wireless devices, a malicious cyber actor could potentially harvest personally identifiable information, intellectual property, trade secrets, passwords, or other sensitive information," FBI officials wrote in last month's advisory. "Since the data is intercepted prior to reaching the CPU, security managers may not have insight into how sensitive information is being stolen."
AT&T

AT&T Begins Capping Broadband Users (dslreports.com) 122

Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReports (edited for clarity): Just a reminder to AT&T customers: the company's usage caps on U-Verse broadband connections is now in effect. When AT&T originally announced broadband caps on fixed-line connections back in 2011, it capped DSL customers at 150 GB per month and U-Verse customers at 250 GB per month. But while the DSL customer cap was enforced (by and large because AT&T wants these users to migrate to wireless anyway), AT&T didn't enforce caps for its U-Verse customers. Until now, anyway. Back in March AT&T announced it would begin enforcing usage caps on all connections starting May 23. As of today, U-Verse customers face different caps depending on their speed tier. AT&T says customers on U-Verse tiers with speeds between 768 Kbps and 6 Mbps will now face a 300 GB cap; customers on U-Verse tiers of speeds between 12 Mbps and 75Mbps will see a 600 GB cap, and customers on speeds between 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps will see a cap of 1 terabyte. Users who exceed these caps in any given month will automatically have to pay for 50 GB of additional data for $10 each.
Communications

Researchers Set World Record Wireless Data Transmission Rate of 6 GB/Sec Over 37 KM (sciencedaily.com) 63

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Daily: Transmitting the contents of a conventional DVD in under ten seconds by radio transmission is incredibly fast -- and a new world record in wireless data transmission. With a data rate of 6 Gigabit per second over a distance of 37 kilometers, a collaborative project with the participation of researchers from the University of Stuttgart and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF exceeded the state of the art by a factor of 10. The extremely high data rates of 6 Gbit/s was achieved by the group through efficient transmitters and receivers at a radio frequency of 71-76 GHz in the so-called E band, regulated for terrestrial and satellite broadcasting. The circuits are based on two innovative transistor technologies developed and manufactured by the project partner Fraunhofer IAF. In the transmitter the broadband signals are amplified to a comparatively high transmission power of up to 1 W with the help of power amplifiers on the basis of the novel compound semiconductor gallium-nitride. A highly directive parabolic antenna emits the signals. Built into the receiver are low-noise amplifiers on the basis of high-speed transistors using indium-gallium-arsenide-semiconductor layers with very high electron mobility. They ensure the detection of the weak signals at high distance. The transmission of high quantities of data by radio over large distances serves a high number of important application areas: the next generation of satellite communication requires an ever-increasing data offload from earth observation satellites down to earth. Supplying the rural area and remote regions with fast Internet is possible as shown in the trial. Earlier this year, engineers at the University of Illinois were able to set a record for fiber-optic data transmission, transmitting 57Gbps of error-free data at room temperature.
Network

Americans Used Nearly 10 Trillion Megabytes of Mobile Data Last Year (washingtonpost.com) 81

An anonymous reader writes: A report from CTIA released Monday found that consumers have nearly doubled their consumption of mobile data last year. It found that last month, consumers chugged down 804 billion megabytes of data, which adds up to a total of 9.65 billion gigabytes. The numbers are especially significant when compared to previous years. "From December 2013 to December 2014, U.S. data consumption grew by about 26 percent. But over the following year, it grew by 137 percent," writes Washington Post. YouTube and Netflix account for over half of North American internet traffic at peak hours, according to the networking equipment firm Sandvine. That figure spikes to 70 percent when streaming audio is part of the mix. The wireless industry as a result raked in nearly $200 billion last year alone, which is a 70 percent jump compared to a decade ago. The numbers are likely to rise as more and more devices become connected to the internet. With news of films from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar coming to Netflix this September, we're likely to see mobile data use increase even more this year.
Security

Foul-Mouthed Worm Takes Control Of Wireless ISPs Around the Globe (arstechnica.com) 36

Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica (edited and condensed): ISPs around the world are being attacked by self-replicating malware that can take complete control of widely used wireless networking equipment, according to reports from customers. San Jose, California-based Ubiquiti Networks confirmed recently that attackers are actively targeting a flaw in AirOS, the Linux-based firmware that runs the wireless routers, access points, and other gear sold by the company. The vulnerability, which allows attackers to gain access to the devices over HTTP and HTTPS connections without authenticating themselves, was patched last July, but the fix wasn't widely installed. Many customers claimed they never received notification of the threat.ISPs in Argentina, Spain, Brazil have been attacked by the worm, said Nico Waisman, a research at security firm Immunity, adding that it's likely that ISPs in the U.S. and other places have also been attacked by the same malware. From the report, "Once successful, the exploit he examined replaces the password files of an infected device and then scans the network it's on for other vulnerable gear. After a certain amount of time, the worm resets infected devices to their factory default configurations, with the exception of leaving behind a backdoor account, and then disappears."
Google

Google Is A Serial Tracker (softpedia.com) 110

An anonymous reader writes: Two Princeton academics conducted a massive research into how websites track users using various techniques. The results of the study, which they claim to be the biggest to date, shows that Google, through multiple domains, is tracking users on around 80 percent of all Top 1 Million domains. Researchers say that Google-owned domains account for the top 5 most popular trackers and 12 of the top 20 tracker domains. Additionally, besides tracking scripts, HTML5 canvas fingerprinting and WebRTC local IP discover, researchers discovered a new user fingerprinting technique that uses the AudioContext API. Third-party trackers use it to send low-frequency sounds to a user's PC and measure how the PC processes the data, creating an unique fingerprint based on the user's hardware and software capabilities. A demo page for this technique is available. Of course, this sort of thing is nothing new and occurs all across the web and beyond. MIT and Oxford published a study this week that revealed that Twitter location tags on only a few tweets can reveal details about the account's owner, such as his/her real world address, hobbies and medical history. Another recently released study by Stanford shows that phone call metadata can also be used to infer personal details about a phone owner.
Communications

PornHub's 'Bangfit' Program Uses Sexy Exercise To Build Muscle (mashable.com) 83

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mashable: A new program created by PornHub called "BangFit" features 'sexercises' that allow players to build and tone muscle. Instead of forcing people to go the gym, Bangfit users simply practice sexual exercises, otherwise known as actual sex. Finally, you can gyrate and hump your way to the body of your dreams. BangFit users follow along with videos as they execute positions like the "squat and thrust" and "missionary press." Players can sync their phones to the workout in order to track their progress and measure the amount of calories burned. While the concept sounds simply gimmicky, BangFit says they designed the app using real science and professionals in the field. PornHub is also retailing an adjustable band that keeps your smartphone closer to to your body, making it easier for the gyroscope to track your movements (judge your performance?). Anytime you complete a level, PornHub congratulates you on your success with a phrase like, "You're the gymanastiest," which is simultaneously rewarding and disgusting. You can watch the retro NSFW introduction video here.
Communications

Highly-Conductive Shark Jelly Could Inspire New Tech (gizmag.com) 45

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from UC Santa Cruz, the University of Washington, and the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason found shark jelly to have the highest proton conductivity ever seen in a biological material. The jelly's conductivity begins to approach that of leading proton-conducting polymers. Tiny organs in the skin of sharks, skates and rays, called the ampullae of Lorenzini, are key to the ability. Scientists believe that the jelly is what has been able to allow these animals to detect weak electric fields produced by their prey, as the organs, which are visible as pores in the skin, are connected to electrosensory cells via long, jelly-filled canals. Marco Rolandi, a co-author on a paper detailing the findings in Science Advances, sees potential use for the "shark jelly" in the development of new or enhanced materials or even the creation of new sensor technology. "The observation of high proton conductivity in the jelly is very exciting," Rolandi said. "We hope that our findings may contribute to future studies of the electrosensing function of the ampullae of Lorenzini and the organ overall, which is itself rather exceptional."
Wireless Networking

Former Employee Accuses Wireless Charging Startup uBeam of Being a Sham (ieee.org) 118

uBeam, a startup which has raised over $25 million for its transmitter that can charge phones, tablets, and other devices wirelessly, is under attack. Paul Reynolds, former VP of engineering at the company has accused the company of making false promises. Reynolds, who has more than 20 years of experience working on ultrasound devices, says uBeam has overstated its technology's capabilities, and there's no way it can deliver anything close to its claim in a working prototype later this year. In fact, he went all the way to call uBeam "the next Theranos". For the uninitiated, uBeam plans to create a charging station which utilizes sound waves to beam power to devices in the same room. The company, which has a team of more than 30 engineers and physicists, has been working on the product since 2011. Some of its investors include Marc Andreessen, Marissa Mayer, and "Shark" Mark Cuban. From an IEEE report: Physicists have long questioned the practicality of uBeam's plans to deliver electricity to mobile devices using ultrasound. Mark Suster, a prominent venture capitalist and uBeam investor has defended uBeam. IEEE report adds: In his article today, Suster writes that when Reynolds was at uBeam, the engineer gave no indication that he had any problems with the company's direction -- implying that the issues raised in Reynolds' blog were essentially out of the blue. uBeam itself has yet to respond to anything Reynolds has written. "Throughout my time working with him he reassured me we could solve the technical challenges and our approach was viable," Suster writes. But Reynolds told IEEE Spectrum that is simply not the case. He says that he was rarely allowed to communicate directly with Suster, on account of Perry's (Editor's note: Meredith Perry is the Founder and CEO at uBeam) management preferences. But Reynolds said that in two meetings with Suster during the summer of 2015, he voiced concerns about what the company was telling investors and reporters it could do.
Wireless Networking

Germany Set To End Copyright Liability For Open Wi-Fi Operators 46

An anonymous reader writes: People who travel to Germany are often surprised at the lack of public, open Wi-Fi networks. That's because German law holds operators of public hotspots liable for everything their users do online, especially when these actions are against the law, and even if the operators weren't aware of them. The law doesn't apply to commercial operators, but does to private (think home WI-Fi's) and small operators (e.g. wireless networks set up by public establishments like coffee bars, shops, etc.). But, there's more than a good chance that this clause of the law will be repelled this year, and hopefully, open Wi-Fi networks in Germany will mushroom as a result.Copyright trolls, who make money by sending invoices to people claiming that their content has been infringed, will not be pleased.
Communications

Ellen Pao Launches Advocacy Group To Improve Diversity In The Tech Industry (theverge.com) 265

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Ellen Pao, a former Silicon Valley venture capitalist, today announced the launch of Project Include, an advocacy group aimed at improving diversity in the technology industry. The group was started by Pao and fellow female engineers and executives, including members of Slack, Pinterest, and other Bay Area VC firms. The initiative will focus on providing startups and established tech companies with information on making hiring more inclusive, improving retention, and examining bias in the workplace. Pao became embroiled in one of the most divisive debates in tech last year after suing her former employer, VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, for gender discrimination. She lost at trial and, later, stepped down from her position as interim CEO of Reddit following a severe harassment campaign. Project Include is also accepting as many as 18 startups, who can apply to receive recommendations through a program called Start-Up Include.
Communications

Wireless Carriers To Adopt New Real-Time Text Protocol By December 2017 (engadget.com) 28

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: The FCC is ready to adopt a proposal that'll bring a new protocol to wireless networks to help people with disabilities communicate. It's called real-time text (RTT) and will be a replacement for the aging teletypewriter devices that let users transmit text conversations over traditional phone lines. According to the FCC's statement, RTT will "allow Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech disabled or deaf-blind to use the same wireless communications devices as their friends, relatives and colleagues, and more seamlessly integrate into tomorrow's communications networks." The big differentiator for RTT over current, commonly-used text-based messaging systems is that RTT messages are sent immediately as they're typed. The RTT technology will let text users communicate with people on voice-based phones and vice versa; it can also work easily in your standard smartphone, eliminating the need for specialized equipment. The proposal calls for RTT to roll out over wireless networks run by "larger carriers" by December of 2017.
Advertising

In Internet Age, Pirate Radio Arises As Surprising Challenge (ap.org) 157

K7DAN writes: Just as the demise of terrestrial radio has been greatly exaggerated, so has the assumed parallel death of pirate radio. Due to the failure of licensed stations to meet the needs of many niche communities, pirate radio continues to increase in popularity. Helping facilitate this growth is the weakening power of the FCC to stop it, reports the Associated Press. Rogue stations can cover up to several square miles thanks largely in part to cheaper technology. The appeal? "The DJs sound like you and they talk about things that you're interested in," said Jay Blessed, an online DJ who has listened to various unlicensed stations since she moved from Trinidad to Brooklyn more than a decade ago. "You call them up and say, 'I want to hear this song,' and they play it for you," Blessed said. "It's interactive. It's engaging. It's communal." It's upsetting many congressional members who are urging the FCC to do more about the "unprecedented growth of pirate radio operations." They're accusing said pirates of undermining licensed minority stations while ignoring consumer protection laws that guard against indecency and false advertising.
Communications

Google's OnHub Is First WiFi Router To Support IFTTT (theverge.com) 49

An anonymous reader writes: The first router to feature IFTTT support is Google OnHub. IFTTT is an abbreviation of "If This Then That," a free web-based service that can allow users to create "recipes," which are triggered based on changes to other web services such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, etc. OnHub's smart features can now connect to the 300-plus programs and apps supported by IFTTT. Google provides some examples in its blog post. For example, you can automatically prioritize Wi-Fi to your Chromecast when it connects to your OnHub network after you plug it in to start binge watching your favorite TV show, or to your Nest Cam when it senses motion or sound after you've exhausted yourself from said binge watching and passed-out on your couch. There's a friendly little video Google put together to explain the feature in detail.
Network

Comcast Is Raising Its Data Caps From 300GB To 1TB (arstechnica.com) 145

An anonymous reader writes: Comcast has announced today it will be raising its monthly data cap of 300GB to 1TB beginning June 1st. They will however charge more to customers who want unlimited data. After June 1st, less people will need to buy unlimited data from the company. Previously, users were charged an extra $30 to $35 a month for unlimited data but now they will have to pay an additional $50 for unlimited data. "All of the data plans in our trial markets will move from a 300 gigabyte data plan to a terabyte by June 1st, regardless of the speed," Comcast's announcement today said. The reason for the change? Customers are exceeding the 300GB cap. In late 2013, Comcast said only 2 percent of its customers used more than 300GB of data a month. That number was up to 8 percent in late 2015.
Encryption

Millions Of Waze Users Can Have Their Movements Tracked By Hackers (fusion.net) 55

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fusion: Researchers at the University of California-Santa Barbara recently discovered a Waze vulnerability that allowed them to create thousands of "ghost drivers" that can monitor the drivers around them -- an exploit that could be used to track Waze users in real-time. Here's how the exploit works. Waze's servers communicate with phones using an SSL encrypted connection, a security precaution meant to ensure that Waze's computers are really talking to a Waze app on someone's smartphone. Zhao and his graduate students discovered they could intercept that communication by getting the phone to accept their own computer as a go-between in the connection. Once in between the phone and the Waze servers, they could reverse-engineer the Waze protocol, learning the language that the Waze app uses to talk to Waze's back-end app servers. With that knowledge in hand, the team was able to write a program that issued commands directly to Waze servers, allowing the researchers to populate the Waze system with thousands of "ghost cars" -- cars that could cause a fake traffic jam or, because Waze is a social app where drivers broadcast their locations, monitor all the drivers around them. You can read the full paper detailing the researchers' findings here. Is there a solution to not being tracked? Yes. If you're a Waze user, you can set the app to invisible mode. However, Waze turns off invisible mode every time you restart the app so beware.
Hardware

This Battery-Free Computer Sucks Power Out Of Thin Air (fastcodesign.com) 60

An anonymous reader shares an article on Fast Co Design (edited and condensed for clarity): Researchers at University of Washington's Sensor Lab have created the WISP, or Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform: a combination sensor and computing chip that doesn't need a battery or a wired power source to operate. Instead, it sucks in radio waves emitted from a standard, off-the-shelf RFID reader -- the same technology that retail shops use to deter shoplifters -- and converts them into electricity. The WISP isn't designed to compete with the chips in your smartphone or your laptop. It has about the same clock speed as the processor in a Fitbit and similar functionality, including embedded accelerometers and temperature sensors. [...] It has about the same bandwidth as Bluetooth Low Energy mode, the wireless power-sipping technology which drives most Bluetooth speakers and wireless headphones.
Open Source

Scientist Shrinks Arduino To Size Of An AA Battery (techcrunch.com) 47

An anonymous reader writes: Johan Kanflo has managed to make the already small Tiny328 Arduino clone into an even smaller computing platform about the size of a single AA battery. Not only will it fit in a typical AA battery holder, but it will actually draw power from the batteries beside it as it's wired in "backwards" (with the + and - poles reversed). The Arduino platform consists of open-source hardware, open-source software, and microcontroller-based kits, making it easy to (re)program the processors, and develop software for hardware applications using a java-clone and an easy-to-learn IDE. For those interested in the AAduino, Johan has made his creation available online on Github with instructions and schematics to build your own.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Launches MacBook 2016 With Intel Skylake Processor, Longer Battery Life 179

Apple, on Tuesday, announced a refresh for its 12-inch MacBook laptop. The 2016 MacBook comes with an Intel Skylake processor -- sixth-generation dual-core Intel Core M model, offering up to 1.3 GHz clock speed with Turbo Boost speeds of up to 3.1 GHz, faster 1866 MHz memory, and a 'rose gold' color variant. Apple assures 10 hours of wireless Web browsing time, or 11 hours of movie playback on a single charge. The new model will hit retail stores on Wednesday. It starts at $1,299 for the 256GB SSD and 8GB (up from 4GB) version, and goes all the way up to $1,599 for the top-of-the-line model which offers 512GB SSD.

A couple of points: the first-generation MacBook didn't fare well with reviewers and plenty of users alike. Second, today's announcement also hints that the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro lineups won't be getting the Intel Skylake upgrade for at least a few more months -- which is really sad, because, at present, they come equipped with almost three-year-old processor and graphics chips. No wonder, Oculus executive made fun of Apple's computers.

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