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Microsoft

Submission + - Ballmer sees Microsoft becoming more like Apple (reuters.com)

Dupple writes: This from Reuters

Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has signaled a new direction for the world's largest software company, pointing to hardware and online services as its future, taking a page from long-time rival Apple Inc.

Ballmer's comments in his annual letter to shareholders published on Tuesday suggested that Microsoft may eventually make its own phones to build on its forthcoming own-brand Surface tablet PC and market-leading Xbox gaming console.

"There will be times when we build specific devices for specific purposes, as we have chosen to do with Xbox and the recently announced Microsoft Surface," wrote Ballmer.

The new approach mimics Apple Inc, whose massively successful iPhone and iPad demonstrated tight integration of high-quality software and hardware and made Windows devices feel clunky in comparison.

Science

Submission + - Geneticists to economists: You're racist! (nature.com)

scibri writes: One side is accused of supporting ethnic cleansing; the other of being intellectually naive. Geneticists and economists are struggling to collaborate on research that explores how our genes influence and interact with economic behaviour.

Top economists are publishing a paper that claims a country’s genetic diversity can predict the success of its economy. To critics, the economists’ paper seems to suggest that a country’s poverty could be the result of its citizens’ genetic make-up, and the paper is attracting charges of genetic determinism, and even racism. But the economists say that they have been misunderstood, and are merely using genetics as a proxy for other factors that can drive an economy, such as history and culture.

ISS

Submission + - Dragon captured: SpaceX's first ISS supply mission is a success (slashgear.com)

puddingebola writes: From the aricle, "The SpaceX Dragon capsule has been successfully grabbed by the International Space Station, marking the first time a private American space flight has run a supply mission to the orbiting platform. The crew of the ISS snatched Dragon out of orbit ahead of schedule, using the space station’s robotic arm to guide the capsule in after its careful approach."

NASA has also posted video of the docking.

Security

Submission + - RSA splits passwords in two to foil hackers' attacks (bbc.co.uk)

another random user writes: A product that scrambles and then splits users' passwords in two before storing them on different computer servers has been unveiled by RSA.

The security firm says the facility offers better protection against hackers, who would only gain access to half a "randomised" password in the case of a successful attack.

The firm said the idea had been discussed by academics for some time.

However, one expert said it would only prevent a minority of attacks.

RSA's distributed credential protection (DCP) facility was announced at the company's annual European Conference in London. "DCP scrambles, randomises and splits sensitive credentials, passwords and Pins and the answers to life or challenge questions into two locations," said the firm's marketing mamanger Liz Robinson.

Science

Submission + - The LED is 50 years old (bbc.co.uk)

BoxRec writes: "The light-emitting diode has brightened our lives for half a century — from lighting up the city streets at night, to decorating Christmas trees each December.
The LED started life in October 1962, as a single red illumination in a General Electric research lab in New York state.
Prof Nick Holonyak Jr from the University of Illinois, takes a look back at how it all began with his invention of the first practical visible-spectrum light-emitting diode."

Chrome

Submission + - Teenager Pinkie Pie Cracks Google Chrome, Again (paritynews.com)

hypnosec writes: Pinkie Pie, a teenager, a hacker, has come up with a Full Chrome exploit at the HackInTheBox conference in Malaysia. The exploit, if confirmed by Google HQ, will bag the teenager a whopping US$60,000 cash reward making it two times in a row. Chris Evans, a Google engineer, will be revealing all the successful exploits at the end of the conference tomorrow afternoon. Earlier Pinkie Pie won top prize at the CanSecWest Pwnium event where he used multiple exploits to escape the Chrome Sandbox. Given the reputation of Pinkie Pie, it won't be far fetched to say that Chrome has been cracked once again.
Facebook

Submission + - Facebook agrees to pay $10 to each 'Sponsored Stories' victim (cnn.com)

thinkpadx220 writes: "Facebook is agreeing to pay up to $10 each to users who appeared in the social-networking site's "Sponsored Stories" advertising program without their permission.
The revised settlement agreement (.pdf) to a class action, lodged Saturday, comes two months after a federal judge said he had "serious concerns" with the deal, which originally had provided a $10 million payout to attorneys suing Facebook and $10 million to activist and research groups in what is known as a cy pres award.
Under the new plan offered for U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg's approval, Facebook and class-action attorneys are proposing that the same size $20 million pot be shared by charity, the class-action attorneys and the 125 million U.S. Facebook users who appeared in a "Sponsored Story" without consent.
Only a small fraction of plaintiffs in a class-action usually fill out the necessary paperwork to collect their rewards. If everybody did in this instance, that would amount to 2 cents each.
Under California law, Seeborg said each plaintiff could be awarded as much as $750 if the case went to trial. Under the new plan, Seeborg has the power to reduce the amount to each victim or give the pot to charity in the event of overwhelming response from class members.
Under the old deal and the new one lodged Saturday, Facebook agreed to give its adult users the right to "control" but not eliminate how the social-networking site uses their faces in ads under Facebook's "Sponsored Stories" program. Minors have the ability to completely opt out.
"Sponsored Stories" basically turns the act of pressing the Facebook "Like" button into a potential commercial endorsement. If a Facebook user clicks the "Like" button for a product or service with a Facebook page, that user's profile picture and name may be automatically used in advertisements for that product or service that appear in the their friends' Facebook pages. Facebook also reserves the right to show such ads on sites other than Facebook.
The suit, (.pdf) filed in April 2011, claimed Facebook did not adequately inform people of the "Sponsored Stories" feature or give them a way to opt out of the advertising program, which began in January 2011. Under the deal, in which Facebook admits no wrongdoing, Facebook agrees to clarify its terms of service:
You give us permission to use your name, profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information. If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.
While the deal offers little future protection to Facebook users, about a dozen privacy groups and universities stand to reap millions under the accord if Facebook users and the class-action attorneys don't exhaust the $20 million pot. Under the deal, the attorneys said they would submit their fee request within three weeks after Seeborg approves the deal.
A hearing before Seeborg in San Francisco is scheduled for Oct. 25."

ISS

Submission + - Dragon ready to dock with space station (cnn.com)

SternisheFan writes: "(CNN) -SpaceX's Dragon capsule is just hours away from an on-schedule meeting with the International Space Station. The crew of the space station will use a robotic arm to "grapple" the spacecraft, which is filled with 1,000 pounds of supplies for the astronauts, at 7:17 a.m. ET Wednesday, a written statement from SpaceX said. The time could change, the company said, and the capsule will pause three times for go/no-go checks using information from its close-range guidance systems before berthing. About two hours after it is captured, the unmanned capsule will be bolted into place for its two-and-a-half-week stay. After the resupplies are pulled off, astronauts will reload the craft with scientific experiments and failed equipment that can be repaired and sent back.
    SpaceX launched the first commercial space cargo mission on Sunday night. But a minute and 19 seconds after the Falcon 9 booster lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, one of the nine Merlin engines that power the rocket "lost pressure suddenly," the company disclosed Monday. The rocket "did exactly what it was designed to do," as its flight computer made adjustments to keep the Dragon headed into the proper orbit. California-based SpaceX said earlier that controllers are reviewing flight data in an effort to figure out what happened to the booster rocket, but initial readings indicate the No. 1 engine fairing broke apart under stress. Sunday's launch was the fiirst of a dozen freight runs SpaceX, founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, is slated to make to the station under a contract with NASA, which plans to turn much of its focus toward exploring deep into the solar system. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden called it "a critical event in space flight."
    SpaceX, meanwhile, is looking beyond just cargo flights to developing a human-rated version of the Dragon that would carry astronauts to the ISS. It's one of three companies, along with Sierra Nevada and aerospace giant Boeing, that NASA has chosen to work on the project."

Security

Submission + - RSA Boss Angers Privacy Advocates (techweekeurope.co.uk)

judgecorp writes: "RSA boss Art Covielo trod on the toes of privacy proponents' toes at London's RSA 2012 show, by accusing them of faulty reasoning and over-stating their fears of Big Brother. By trying to limit what legitimate companies can do with our data, privacy groups are tying the hands of people who might protect us, he says. "Where is it written that cyber criminals can steal our identities but any industry action to protect us invites cries of Big Brother." Ever-outspoken, he also complained that governments and cyber-crooks are collaborating to breach organisations with sophisticated techniques. In that world, it is just as well vendors are whiter than white, eh?"
Security

Submission + - Hacker cracks 4 million hotel locks with 'James Bond Dry Erase Marker' (dailymail.co.uk)

SternisheFan writes: "This new hacker invention may look like a harmless dry erase marker, but in truth it's the ultimate electronic lock pick. In a post titled 'James Bond's Dry Erase Marker,' hotel hacker Matthew Jakubowski demonstrates how anyone can build this pocket-sized device which will open the lock on an estimated 4 million hotel rooms. 'I guess we wanted to show that this sort of attack can happen with a very small concealable device,' says Matthew Jakubowski, a security researcher with Trustwave, told Forbes. 'Someone using this could be searched and even then it wouldn't be obvious that this isn't just a pen.'
    The device exploits a vulnerability in Onity locks, a cheap lock used on millions of hotel room doors. Onity's site boasts their locks are used in 22,000 hotel worldwide.
    The lock has a small port on its bottom designed for hotels to set master keys. Hacker Cody Brocious discovered you could read the lock's memory through this port, including a decryption key. Borcious demonstrated a large, unwieldy device that could open a small percentage of locks this July at the Black Hat security conference.
    Onity responded with a way to patch the weakness in August, but the fix required hotels to make costly hardware repairs to millions of locks as well as pay for a more secure version. Security experts believe the expense has likely left a huge percentage of hotel rooms with the easily cracked model. Jakubowski's refined version can pop most locks in a fraction of a second."

Privacy

Submission + - Russian Entrepreneur Exploits Apathy Over Privacy (techweekeurope.co.uk)

judgecorp writes: "Russian entrepreneur Oleg Tinkoff has founded an online-only bank where three quarters of the staff work in analytics and IT, using algorithms to squeeze business from the customer base. Now he is launching a mobile ads business, arguing that in Russia, the market is split between Google and Yandex — and the light-touch on privacy means he can score with better targeted ads. Is that a privacy breach? "I would rather see adverts for BMW or Rolls Royce than female hygiene products in my browser!""
Education

Submission + - Pressure Rises on German Science Minister in Plagiarism Scandal (thelocal.de)

An anonymous reader writes: Germany's minister for science and education, who is currently under investigation by her alma mater for plagiarising parts of her PhD thesis, is facing new accusations: a total of 92 alleged incidents of plagiarism (German) have been documented by a blogger, who calls "this number of violations inexcusable".
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Texas schools punish students who refuse to be tracked with microchips (rt.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A school district in Texas came under fire earlier this year when it announced that it would require students to wear microchip-embedded ID cards at all times. Now students who refuse to be monitored say they are feeling the repercussions.
Patents

Submission + - Tech firms and regulators meet at UN about patents (bbc.co.uk)

another random user writes: Apple. Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and others tech firms meet with regulators and patent officials in Geneva to discuss changes to intellectual property laws

The event follows a flurry of lawsuits involving smartphone makers. It is set to focus on how to ensure licence rights to critical technologies are offered on "reasonable" terms

Companies are split over whether they should be allowed to ban rivals' devices if they do not agree a fee. The talks have been organised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN agency responsible for ensuring phone-makers agree standards so that their devices can interact with each other.

Businesses

Submission + - HTC Profits Drop By 79% (guardian.co.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: HTC is the world's fifth largest phone maker, but it's starting to feel some serious pressure from giants like Samsung and Apple. HTC's third quarter net income dropped 79% from the previous quarter, and total revenues were down 48%. 'Sales of HTC's flagship One series, which debuted in February, are trailing off as Apple and Samsung spend four to six times more on marketing to ensure the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy SIII dominate the market, while strongly subsidising their older models ... HTC's share of the global smartphone market by shipments fell to 5.8% in the second quarter from 10.7% a year earlier, according to Bloomberg. The company released its first Windows Phone 8 models in September, its most high-profile pre-Christmas launch, but Microsoft's operating system has yet to establish itself as a serious third player after Google's Android and Apple's iOS.'
Space

Submission + - SpaceX Out of Orbit (reuters.com)

kodiaktau writes: Launch of the latest SpaceX rocket to the international space station was off course due to a Falcon 9 rocket shutting down early during launch. Other rockets were used to burn longer to recover the missing and ensure the capsule containing a communications satellite owned by Orbcomm. The rocket is due to dock with the station on Wed.
China

Submission + - Following Huawei Report, US Rejects UN Telecom Proposals (theepochtimes.com)

jjp9999 writes: The Epoch Times reports that on Monday, the same day the Intelligence Committee released its report cautioning against Chinese telecom companies Huawei and ZTE, the US said it will reject major changes to telecom at the World Administrative Telegraph and Telephone Conference in Dubai this December. The UN conference will be the first of its kind since 1988, and its members are pressing the US to hand control of governing the Internet over to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Huawei and ZTE are both members of the ITU. Terry Kramer, the US special envoy to the conference, said the US opposes proposals from some of the “nondemocratic nations” that include tracking and monitoring content and user information, which “makes it very easy for nations to monitor traffic.”
Businesses

Submission + - Pandora Shares Artist Payment Figures (pandora.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Today in a blog post, Pandora has shared some details of the fees they pay to musical artists for playing songs over their music streaming service. Over 2,000 different artists pull in $10,000 or more in the next year, and 800 will get paid over $50,000. They provided a few specific examples as well. Grupo Bryndis, who has a sales rank on Amazon of 183,187, is on track to receive $114,192. A few earners are getting over $1 million annually, such as Coldplay and Adele. 'Drake and Lil Wayne are fast approaching a $3 million annual rate each.' The post segues into a broader point about the age of internet radio: 'It's hard to look at these numbers and not see that internet radio presents an incredible opportunity to build a better future for artists. Not only is it bringing tens of millions of listeners back to music, across hundreds of genres, but it is also enabling musicians to earn a living. It's also hard to look at these numbers, knowing Pandora accounts for just 6.5% of radio listening in the U.S., and not come away thinking something is wrong. ... Congress must stop the discrimination against internet radio and allow it to operate on a level playing field, under the same rules as other forms of digital radio.'

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