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Android

Samsung Unveils Gear S3 Classic and Frontier Smartwatches Powered By Tizen (hothardware.com) 9

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Samsung just wrapped up an event at the IFA expo in Berlin, where the company unveiled two new Gear S3 branded smartwatches. The new Samsung Gear S3 Classic and Gear S3 Frontier leverage many of the design elements from last-year's Gear S2 -- like their Tizen OS, rotating control dial, round display, and fast wireless charging. However, other aspects of the Gear S3 have received significant upgrades. Although they are internally similar, there are a few external differences between the Gear S3 Classic and Frontier. The Gear S3 Classic is the sleeker, more streamlined version of the two. The Classic has a polished finish, with round buttons at the 2 and 4 o'clock positions and no addition protrusions on its chassis. The Gear S3 Frontier is more rugged and has a darker, brushed finish, with flat, rectangular textured buttons and protrusions on either side of the body to shield the buttons from accidental presses. Both the Gear S3 Classic and Frontier are also outfitted with Gorilla Glass SR to protect their circular, Super AMOLED displays, and they're both compatible with industry standard 22mm watch bands too. They are also IP68 rated, so they're able to withstand dust and dirt, and water resistant for up to 30 minutes under 1.5 meters of water. Depending on how heavily these devices are used, Samsung claims they can last roughly 3 -- 4 days on a single charge. They also have support for NFC (compatible with Samsung Pay), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and have built-in heart rate monitors, altimeter/barometer, and GPS as well.
Security

New Ransomware Poses As A Windows Update (hothardware.com) 88

Slashdot reader MojoKid quotes an article from Hot Hardware: A security researcher for AVG has discovered a new piece of ransomware called Fantom that masquerades as a critical Windows update. Victims who fall for the ruse will see a Windows screen acting like it's installing the update, but what's really happening is that the user's documents and files are being encrypted in the background...

The scam starts with a pop-up labeled as a critical update from Microsoft. Once a user decides to apply the fake update, it extracts files and executes an embedded program called WindowsUpdate.exe... As with other EDA2 ransomware, Fantom generates a random AES-128 key, encrypts it using RSA, and then uploads it to the culprit. From there, Fantom targets specific file extensions and encrypts those files using AES-128 encryption... Users affected by this are instructed to email the culprit for payment instructions.

While the ransomware is busy encrypting your files, it displays Microsoft's standard warning about not turning off the computer while the "update" is in progress. Pressing Ctrl+F4 closes that window, according to the article, "but that doesn't stop the ransomware from encrypting files in the background."
United States

HAARP Holds Open House To Dispel Rumors Of Mind Control (adn.com) 148

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: HAARP -- the former Air Force/Navy/DARPA research program in Alaska -- will host an open house Saturday where "We hope to show people that it is not capable of mind control and not capable of weather control and all the other things it's been accused of..." said Sue Mitchell, spokesperson for the geophysical institute at the University of Alaska. "We hope that people will be able to see the actual science of it." HAARP, which was turned over to The University of Alaska last August, has been blamed for poor crop yields in Russia, with conspiracy theorists also warning of "a super weapon capable of mind control or weather control, with enough juice to trigger hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes."

The facility's 180 high-frequency antennas -- spread across 33 acres -- will be made available for public tours, and there will also be interactive displays and an unmanned aircraft 'petting zoo'. The Alaska Dispatch News describes it as "one of the world's few centers for high-power and high-frequency study of the ionosphere... important because radio waves used for communication and navigation reflect back to Earth, allowing long-distance, short-wave broadcasting."

Displays

MIT Announces VR and AR Hackathon (uploadvr.com) 12

Calling it "A weekend that transforms the future of immersive technologies," MIT's Media Lab is hosting a big Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality hackathon. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes this report from UploadVR: Game jams, hackathons, and meetups are more popular than ever in the budding VR and AR communities...to focus on creativity and functionality, rather than getting bogged down by polishing and prepping something for launch.

The MIT Media Lab is officially announcing its backing of the appropriately titled Reality, Virtually Hackathon. The hackathon is organized by a multitude of VR/AR experts, developers, industry executives, and MIT students, alumni, and Ph.D. candidates and will take place at the MIT campus.

Sponsors include Microsoft and the AT&T Developer Program, and applications for the hackathon are due by Wednesday, September 7, 2016. I'm wondering if any Slashdot readers have tried writing (or using) VR apps.
Hardware

New Nokia Smartphones and Tablets Are Coming in Late 2016: Company Executive (pcworld.com) 58

An anonymous reader writes: The resurrection of the Nokia brand may happen in the fourth quarter of this year, which could make for some really nostalgic holiday gifts. According to Chinese site ThePaper (in Chinese), Nokia executive Mike Wang confirmed that three or four Nokia-branded Android devices are on the way for the fourth quarter of 2016. The comeback effort would include both phones and tablets. There is a chance, however, that the timeline could get pushed back depending upon how things progress. It wouldn't be a terrible shocker considering we're talking about a new company, HMD. It's composed of former employees from Microsoft, the old Nokia, and others who are banding together to resurrect the once-iconic brand. The best rumor we have is that the phones will have 5.2-inch and 5.5-inch Quad HD, OLED displays, a Snapdragon 820 SOC, 22.6MP back camera, and a metal build with water and dust resistance. No word on what a tablet would look like.
Earth

Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight With Up To 200 Meteors Per Hour (latimes.com) 62

The Perseid meteor shower happens ever year in August, but this year it will be especially spectacular with twice as many shooting stars streaking across the night sky. Los Angeles Times reports: "In past years, stargazers would have seen up to one meteor each minute, on average, in a very dark sky. But this year, there's even more reason to stay up late or crawl out of bed in the middle of the night. 'We're expecting 160 to 200 meteors per hour,' said Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. This year's 'outburst' of shooting stars was set into motion more than a year ago, when Jupiter passed closer than usual to the stream of dusty debris left in the wake of the comet Swift-Tuttle. Jupiter's gravity field tugged a large clump of the tiny particles closer to Earth's eventual path. These intense displays happen once a decade or so, Cooke said. The next one won't be until 2027 or 2028." The best viewing experience will be away from the city. Since it takes roughly 30-45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, it's recommended you don't pull out your smartphone or excessively shine your flashlight around. The Los Angeles Times has a neat infographic of the Perseid meteor shower.
Displays

One Billion Monitors Vulnerable to Hijacking and Spying (vice.com) 157

"We can now hack the monitor and you shouldn't have blind trust in those pixels coming out of your monitor..." a security researcher tells Motherboard. "If you have a monitor, chances are your monitor is affected." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Motherboard's article: if a hacker can get you to visit a malicious website or click on a phishing link, they can then target the monitor's embedded computer, specifically its firmware...the computer that controls the menu to change brightness and other simple settings on the monitor. The hacker can then put an implant there programmed to wait...for commands sent over by a blinking pixel, which could be included in any video or a website. Essentially, that pixel is uploading code to the monitor. At that point, the hacker can mess with your monitor...

[T]his could be used to both spy on you, but also show you stuff that's actually not there. A scenario where that could dangerous is if hackers mess with the monitor displaying controls for a power plant, perhaps faking an emergency. The researchers warn that this is an issue that could potentially affect one billion monitors, given that the most common brands all have processors that are vulnerable...

"We now live in a world where you can't trust your monitor," one researcher told Motherboard, which added "we shouldn't consider monitors as untouchable, unhackable things."
Movies

MIT Developed A Movie Screen That Brings Glasses-Free 3D To All Seats (techcrunch.com) 100

An anonymous reader writes from a report via TechCrunch: MIT has developed a glasses-less 3D display for movie theaters. The Nintendo 3DS is one of a handful of devices to feature glasses-less 3D, but it is designed for a single users where the user is looking at the display head-on at a relatively specific angle. It's not something made for a movie theater with hundreds of seats, each of which would have a different viewing angle. What's neat about MIT's 3D display is that it doesn't require glasses and it lets anyone see the 3D effect in a movie theater, no matter where they are sitting. The MIT Computers Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) created the prototype display called 'Cinema 3D' that uses a complex arrangement of lenses and mirrors to create a set number of parallax barriers that can address every viewing angle in the theater based on seat locations. It works in a movie theater because the seats are in fixed locations, and people don't tend to move around, change seats or alter their viewing angle too much. What's also neat about the Cinema 3D is that is preserves resolution, whereas other glasses-less 3D displays carry cots in terms of image resolution. The prototype is about the size of a letter-sized notepad, and it needs 50 sets of mirrors and lenses. It should be ready for market once researchers scale it up to a commercially viable product.
Android

Microsoft 'Patch' Blocks Linux Installs On Locked-Down Windows RT Computers (fossbytes.com) 141

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from fossBytes: Microsoft has released a security update that has patched a backdoor in Windows RT operating system [that] allowed users to install non-Redmond approved operating systems like Linux and Android on Windows RT tablets. This vulnerability in ARM-powered, locked-down Windows devices was left by Redmond programmers during the development process. Exploiting this flaw, one was able to boot operating systems of his/her choice, including Android or GNU/Linux.
The Register points out that since Windows RT is "a dead-end operating system" which Microsoft has announced they'll stop developing, "mainstream support for Surface RT tablets runs out in 2017 and Windows RT 8.1 in 2018. This is why a means to bypass its boot mechanisms is highly sought."
Displays

Apple Patents Augmented Reality Display, May Be Building A VR Headset (roadtovr.com) 25

An anonymous reader quotes an article from Road to VR: Apple has just been granted another AR/VR related technology patent, to add to their growing list. In this case it's a transparent, high field of view display which looks to be aimed at the augmented reality sector and, alongside other mounting evidence, could indicate Apple is preparing to enter the immersive technology race sooner rather than later... Anticipation that the company is working on 'something' AR/VR behind the scenes at Cupertino has been stoked by a series of company acquisition and staff hires. Most interestingly however are the trail of patent applications made by Apple.
This week's new patent specifies a "Peripheral Treatment of Head-mounted Displays" to deliver an image to the wearer's eyes through a transparent display medium.
Android

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active Fails Consumer Reports Water-Resistance Test (consumerreports.org) 83

An anonymous reader writes: The Samsung Galaxy S7 Active is apparently not-so-active. It should be the more durable version of the Galaxy S7 family but apparently it's not. Because of this, Consumer reports is not going to mark it as "Recommended" even though it performed very well in all the other tests it ran. [Jerry Beilinson writes from Consumer Reports:] "Consumer Reports technicians placed a Galaxy S7 Active in a water tank pressurized to 2.12 pounds-per-square-inch, the equivalent of just under five feet of water, and set a timer for 30 minutes. When we removed the phone, the screen was obscured by green lines, and tiny bubbles were visible in the lenses of the front- and rear-facing cameras. The touchscreen wasn't responsive. Following our standard procedure when a sample fails an immersion test, we submitted a second Galaxy S7 Active to the same test. That phone failed as well. After we removed it from the tank, the screen cycled on and off every few seconds, and moisture could be seen in the front and back camera lenses. We also noticed water in the slot holding the SIM card. For a couple of days following the test, the screens of both phones would light up when the phones were plugged in, though the displays could not be read. The phones never returned to functionality." Samsung has said "The Samsung Galaxy S7 active device is one of the most rugged phones to date and is highly resistant to scratches and IP68 certified. There may be an off-chance that a defective device is not as watertight as it should be." Although, given the fact that Consumer Reports tested multiple devices, Samsung could have a widespread issue on their hands. They company said it is investigating the issue.
Communications

Facebook Messenger Now Has 11,000 Bots (theverge.com) 43

An anonymous reader writes: Three months after Facebook announced a platform for building bots that operate inside its Messenger app, Messenger chief David Marcus said in a blog post that more than 11,000 bots have been created. He also said 23,000 more developers have signed up to use tools provided by Wit.ai, a Facebook acquisition that automates conversational interactions between users and businesses. Facebook has yet to announce any numbers regarding how many users actually use the bots, but developers appear to be actively engaged. Facebook has said that bots will rapidly improve as more developers create them. Marcus did announce several new features for the platform. Bots can now respond with GIFs, audio, video, and other files "to help a brand's personality come across," Marcus said. They can now link Messenger profiles to customer accounts, such as a bank or online merchant. They're also getting some new UI elements: "quick replies" that suggest interactions for the user to help them set their expectations, and a "persistent menu" option for bots that displays available commands at all times so users don't have to remember them. A star system is now in place for users to rate bots and provide feedback directly to developers.
Slashdot also has a Facebook Messenger bot. You can chat with it by messaging the Slashdot Facebook page.
Google

Google's Algorithm Displays Racist Results Because the Society Is Racist (fusion.net) 304

On June 6, Kabir Alli, an 18-year old in Virginia, posted a brief video of himself running a couple of quick Google image searches. First he searched for "three black teenagers" and was met with several rows of decontextualized mugshots. Then he searched for "three white teenagers" and was served up stock photos of relaxed teens hanging out in front of various plain white backgrounds. The tweet has stirred controversy, with many people accusing Google of being racist. But is that the case? Alli says that while it's Google's fault in some sense as they should have better control over the things people see, he also believes that at the end of the day, what Google shows us is a reflection of what people think. A Google spokesperson had similar things to say. Our image search results are a reflection of content from across the web, including the frequency with which types of images appear and the way they're described online. This means that sometimes unpleasant portrayals of sensitive subject matter online can affect what image search results appear for a given query. These results don't reflect Google's own opinions or beliefs -- as a company, we strongly value a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Reportedly Developing 5K Retina Thunderbolt Display With Integrated GPU (hothardware.com) 296

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: If you head over to Apple's website, the Cupertino outfit will happily sell you a 27-inch Thunderbolt display for $999, at least until its inventory runs out. Word on the web is that it's nearly out of stock and Apple doesn't plan to replenish them. Instead, Apple will launch a new version of its Thunderbolt monitor, one that's been upgraded to a 5K resolution and has a discrete GPU stuffed inside. It's an interesting product actually, if you think about it. Depending on the task, it can take some serious graphics muscle to drive a 5K resolution display. It amounts to over 14.7 million pixels (5120x2880), compared to Apple's current generation Thunderbolt display which runs at 2560x1440, or less than 3.7 million pixels. Apple's thinking is likely that if it integrates a GPU capable of driving a 5K resolution into the display itself, it won't have to worry about trying to balance graphics performance with thin and light designs for its future Mac systems.
Television

Ask Slashdot: Why Do You Want a 'Smart TV'? 507

Reader kheldan questions the need for a Smart TV (edited for clarity): Yesterday we read about how Samsung is planning on 'upgrading' the firmware in its smart TVs so that it could inject ads into your video streams. This raises the question yet again: Why do you even need a 'smart TV' in the first place? We live in an age where media-center computers and DVRs are ubiquitous, and all your TV really needs to be is a high-def monitor to connect to these devices. Even many smartphones have HDMI connectivity, and a Raspberry Pi is inexpensive and can play 1080 content at full framerate. None of these devices are terribly expensive anymore, and the price jump from a non-smart TV to a smart TV makes it difficult to justify the expense. Also, remember previous articles posted on the subject of surveillance many of these smart TVs have been found guilty of. So I put it to you, denizens of Slashdot: Why does anyone really want a 'smart TV'?
Software

Samsung To Roll Out In-TV Ads To Legacy Displays Via Software Update 304

An anonymous reader writes: According to an insider at Samsung's growing advertising team in New York, the second-largest consumer tech manufacturer in the world is planning to retrofit older network-connected TVs to display tiled ads via a software update. The South Korean company, which has seen a 20.9% decline in television sales in Q1 of 2016 under fierce competition from China, has included 'baked' ads into the interface of its recent TV offerings, and also experimented with injecting ads into users' streamed video, transmitting voice commands to a third party -- and, ironically, battling Android over its own AdBlocking technology.
Displays

Transparent Displays Are Here, But They're Pretty Useless 171

An anonymous reader writes: Samsung has debuted the first commercial installation of its 55-inch 'mirror' displays at a salon in South Korea with a transparent OLED screen overlaid over a mirrored surface to allow interaction. The Samsung product rivals an equivalent TOLED from Planar, with both intended for high-end use in the retail display and exhibition space. However both manufacturers are struggling to find practical applications for the much-awaited technology. Transparent displays have been a staple of sci-fi films such as Minority Report for decades, but only, it seems, because they helped to open up scenes which would otherwise have been difficult to film. With the pending advent of AR-based visualization, the innovation of the clear monitor seems not only to have come too late, but also offer limited practical use, even if its current breathtaking prices were to descend to the consumer space.
Open Source

SourceForge Tightens Security With Malware Scans (fossforce.com) 84

Christine Hall at FOSS Force reports: It appears as if the new owners at SourceForge are serious about fixing the mistakes made by the sites previous owners. FOSS Force has just learned that as of today, the software repository used by many free and open source projects is scanning all hosted projects for malware. Projects that don't make the grade will be noticeably flagged with a red warning badge located beside the project's download button. According to a notice posted on the SourceForge website this afternoon, the scans look for "adware, viruses, and any unwanted applications that may be intentionally or inadvertently included in the software package." Account holders with projects flagged as containing malware will be notified by SourceForge. In today's announcement, SourceForge said that a thousand or so of the sites most popular projects [representing 84% of all SourceForge traffic] have so far been scanned, with scans continuing to eventually include "every last project, even dating back years." As the site hosts somewhere around 500,000 projects, this first scanning is expected to take several weeks. The company also says that beginning immediately, all new projects will be scanned during the uploading process. This latest move is in keeping with promises made to the community when the new owners, SourceForge Media, took control of SourceForge and Slashdot on January 28, 2016.
Firefox

Mozilla Launches Test Pilot, A Firefox Add-On For Trying Experimental Features (thenextweb.com) 53

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Test Pilot, a program for trying out experimental Firefox features. To try the new functionality Mozilla is offering for its browser, you have to download a Firefox add-on from testpilot.firefox.com and enable an experiment. The main caveat is that experiments are currently only available in English (though Mozilla promises to add more languages "later this year"). Test Pilot was first introduced for Firefox 3.5, but the new program has been revamped since then, featuring three main components: Activity Stream, Tab Center and Universal Search. Activity Stream is designed to help you navigate your browsing history faster, surfacing your top sites along with highlights from your browsing history and bookmarks. Tab Center displays open tabs vertically along the side of your screen. Mozilla says Universal Search "combines the Awesome Bar history with the Firefox Search drop down menu to give you the best recommendations so you can spend less time sifting through search results and more time enjoying the web."
China

China Creates World's First Graphene Electronic Paper (techtimes.com) 92

An anonymous reader writes from a report published on Tech Times: China has developed the world's first graphene electronic paper that can possibly revolutionize the screen displays on electronic gadgets such as wearable devices and e-readers. Developed by Guangzhou OED Technologies in partnership with another company in the Chongqing Province, the material is also the world's lightest and strongest material in prevalence today. It's 0.335 nanometers thick and can be used to create hard or flexible graphene displays. Graphene e-paper comes with the capability to conduct both heat and electricity, and it can supposedly enhance optical displays to a brighter level, owing to its high-light transmittance properties. What about cost? Since it's derived from carbon, graphene-based e-papers can be easily produced cost-effectively. Traditional e-papers use indium metal for their display, which is very expensive and rare to source.

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