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Comment Re:I guess... (Score 1) 145

We watched it with our 7yo daughter, who has played the game once or twice when I showed it to her, but is nowhere near an addict. She's been waiting for this moving for months, purely based on the trailers and implied entertainment value, and not at all because of the game itself.

I suspect the 9 month marketing onslaught was to ensure that the movie would be watched by people who haven't played the game, and it clearly worked, having opened at #1. While Angry Birds has been a very popular game across all mobile platforms for a few years now, there's no way they could rely purely on their gamers to support the movie and allow it to be a huge success.

In fact, after watching the movie, I introduced the game to my daughter again, and she still hasn't really taken to it. While I'm sure they got a huge number of new installs after people watched the movie, I'd be surprised if their long-term player base increases in line with the movies success. Just because the movie is based on a game doesn't mean it's aimed only at the gamers.

Comment Re:Useless (Score 1) 166

It adds nothing of value over the browser based solution because that's exactly what it is. This "desktop client" is a wrapper around an embedded browser that launches WhatsApp Web by default. From the looks of it, it's Chrome Embedded Framework that's been used. I'm guessing they chose that route to make it easier to support both Windows and OSX without much difficulty, but it does raise the question of how they plan to handle updates and patches to the Chrome core... while they might not need any new features that get added, they would definitely need to keep up to date with security patches, even if it's a single-purpose browser.

Comment Re:Does the User Control the Keys? (Score 1) 76

It should be trivially easy to do the key exchange without WhatsApp being able to intercept the keys, even though they are relaying them between the two parties.*

Assume Alice and Bob both use WhatsApp. Each generates a certificate with a private and public key. They publish their public keys via some directory service. Alice wants to chat to Bob securely. They currently don't have a relationship set up between them. So Alice looks up Bob's public key, and generates a random encryption key to be used for chatting with Bob. She encrypts this key with Bob's public key and sends this encrypted key to Bob over WhatsApp. Only Bob can decrypt this because only Bob has the private key - WhatsApp doesn't. Bob can either then use the same key to send messages to Alice, or he can repeat the process, so that even if one key is exposed somehow, only one half of the conversation can be decrypted.

Yes, WhatsApp's app must ultimately be trusted to be storing the private keys securely and not leaking them back to WhatsApp somehow, but if they're going to the trouble of implementing end-to-end encryption, then entire point is that they want to be able to simply auto-respond to any law enforcement requests with 'We simply cannot decrypt the messages even if we want to." Given that WhatsApp already has been encrypting messages between client and server for some time now before this, it doesn't make sense for them to implement such an elaborate encryption scheme and then leave a backdoor in it, which will inevitably be discovered, either by a security researcher or when they give in to a law enforcement request.

* I haven't actually read up on how WhatsApp is doing their key exchange, so they may be doing exactly this.

Advertising

European Telecoms May Block Mobile Ads, Spelling Trouble For Google 198

Mark Wilson has news that may have a big impact on both advertisers and end-users who use their phones as portals to ad-supported websites. Several European telecom providers are apparently planning to use ad-blocking software at the data-center level, which would mean benefit for users (in the form of less obnoxious advertising, and less data being eaten by it) but quite a pickle for online advertisers, and sites that rely on advertising revenue. From BetaNews's article (based on this Financial Times article, paywalled): Talking to the Financial Times, one wireless carrier said that the software had been installed at its data centers and could be enabled by the end of the year. With the potential to automatically block most ads on web pages and within apps, the repercussion of the ad boycott could be huge as mobile providers try to wrestle control from the likes of Google. I just wish my mobile provider would start testing this out, too.
Windows

Single Verizon IP Address Used For Hundreds of Windows 7 Activations 323

An anonymous reader writes with this story from TorrentFreak: A presumed pirate with an unusually large appetite for activating Windows 7 has incurred the wrath of Microsoft. In a lawsuit filed [in] a Washington court, Microsoft said that it logged hundreds of suspicious product activations from a single Verizon IP address and is now seeking damages. ... Who he, she or they are behind address 74.111.202.30 is unknown at this point, but according to Microsoft they're responsible for some serious Windows pirating. "As part of its cyberforensic methods, Microsoft analyzes product key activation data voluntarily provided by users when they activate Microsoft software, including the IP address from which a given product key is activated," the lawsuit reads. The company says that its forensic tools allow the company to analyze billions of activations of software and identify patterns "that make it more likely than not" that an IP address associated with activations is one through which pirated software is being activated.
The Military

New Compound Quickly Disables Chemical Weapons 52

sciencehabit writes: In 2013, the Syrian military allegedly launched sarin gas rockets into a rebel-held town, killing hundreds. After diplomats brokered a deal to eradicate the weapons, international organizations began the dangerous job of destroying them. One roadblock to chemical weapons disposal is that heat and humidity quickly break down enzymes that can disable the deadly chemicals. Now, researchers have developed a highly stable compound that can inactivate nerve agents like sarin in a matter of minutes.

Comment Re:White balance and contrast in camera. (Score 5, Interesting) 420

This morning, I saw it on my phone in my darkened bedroom, and it was clearly blue and brown. Just now, I opened the Washington Post link on my 24" screen in a sunlit room, and it was clearly white and gold. I then found the link that I had seen on my phone this morning (not Washington Post, so I wanted to confirm that it just wasn't two different pictures that I was looking at), opened it up, and it was white and gold there too. Went back to my bedroom and closed the curtains, and it remained white and gold for a bit, but after I left the room (after my eyes had adjusted a bit to the darkness), it was blue and brown again. The picture on the Washington Post was also now blue and brown. Now that my eyes have adjusted to the sunlit room again (and the white Slashdot background), I switch back to the Washington Post tab, and it's white and gold again. My wife (who's now gotten fed up with following me around to look at this picture under different lighting conditions) has had pretty much the same experience as me.

So it appears to be linked to the lighting conditions that your eyes are adjusted to when seeing the image initially... even after they've adjusted to the ambient light, the brain appears to stick to the image it created initially.

Canada

Canadian Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Warrantless Cellphone Searches 105

An anonymous reader writes In a surprising decision, a split Supreme Court of Canada ruled this morning that police can search cellphones without a warrant incident to an arrest. The majority established some conditions, but ultimately ruled that it could navigate the privacy balance by establishing some safeguards with the practice. Michael Geist notes that a strongly worded dissent disagreed, emphasizing the privacy implications of access to cellphones and the need for judicial pre-authorization as the best method of addressing the privacy implications. The U.S. Supreme Court's June 2014 decision in Riley addressed similar issues and ruled that a warrant is needed to search a phone.

Comment Re:Try living in RSA (Score 1) 516

I am closely related to someone who works at Eskom. His "insider's view" is that the power cuts and load shedding are not due to pressure on the supply, but just to create the impression that there is pressure on the supply, to justify their price increases to pay for the new power stations (and of course sponsoring The New Age breakfasts). He had a good laugh at the 'wet coal' excuse for the problems earlier in the year (conveniently around the time that NERSA was reviewing their tariff increase application) because all the coal arriving at the power plants gets sprayed down with water as soon as it arrives anyways, because coal dust is extremely flammable. We have two new power stations under construction, both coal-fired... when South African engineers are designing safe nuclear power stations that are being used by other countries but not our own. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P...)
Transportation

In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars 454

HughPickens.com writes: Jerry Hirsch writes in the LA Times that personal transportation is on the cusp of its greatest transformation since the advent of the internal combustion engine. For a century, cars have been symbols of freedom and status. But according to Hirsch, passengers of the future may well view vehicles as just another form of public transportation, to be purchased by the trip or in a subscription. Buying sexy, fast cars for garages could evolve into buying seat-miles in appliance-like pods, piloted by robots, parked in public stalls. "There will come a time when driving the car is like riding the horse," says futurist Peter Schwartz. "Some people will still like to do it, but most of us won't." People still will want to own vehicles for various needs, says James Lentz, chief executive of Toyota's North American operations. They might live in a rural area and travel long distances daily. They might have a big family to haul around. They might own a business that requires transporting supplies. "You will still have people who have the passion for driving the cars and feeling the road," says Lentz. "There may be times when they want the cars to drive them, but they won't be buying autonomous-only cars."

One vision of the future is already playing out in Grenoble, France, where residents can rent from a fleet of 70 pod-like Toyota i-Road and Coms electric cars for short city trips. "It is a sharing program like what you see in Portland with bicycles," says Lentz. Drivers can check out and return the cars at various charging points. Through a subscription, they pay the equivalent of $3.75 for 30 minutes. Because the vehicles are so small, its easy to build out their parking and charging infrastructure. Skeptics should consider the cynicism that greeted the horseless carriage more than a century ago, says Adam Jonas. He adds that fully autonomous vehicles will be here far sooner than the market thinks (PDF). Then, Jonas says, skeptics asked: "Why would any rational person want to replace the assuredness of that hot horse body trustily pulling your comfortable carriage with an unreliable, oil-spurting heap of gears, belts and chains?"
Power

Facebook Testing Lithium-Ion Batteries For Backup Power 41

itwbennett writes Facebook has just started testing lithium-ion batteries as the backup power source for its server racks and plans to roll them out widely next year. Lithium-ion has been too expensive until now, says Matt Corddry, Facebook's director of hardware engineering, but its use in electric cars has changed the economics. It's now more cost effective than the bulky, lead-acid batteries widely used in data centers today.
Transportation

What Will It Take To Make Automated Vehicles Legal In the US? 320

ashshy writes Tesla, Google, and many other companies are working on self-driving cars. When these autopilot systems become perfected and ubiquitous, the roads should be safer by orders of magnitude. So why doesn't Tesla CEO Elon Musk expect to reach that milestone until 2013 or so? Because the legal framework that supports American road rules is incredibly complex, and actually handled on a state-by-state basis. The Motley Fool explains which authorities Musk and his allies will have to convince before autopilot cars can hit the mainstream, and why the process will take another decade.
Technology

Lenovo Reveals Wearable Smartband To Track Exercise Stats 51

An anonymous reader writes Lenovo is the latest tech company to enter the fitness tracker market with its Smartband SW-B100 device. "It can record calories burnt, steps taken and a user's heartrate, in addition to syncing with a smartphone through an app to provide more complete health data. Users can also customize notifications and reminders on the smartband, and even use it to unlock a Windows PC without typing in the password, according to the product page."
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Good Hosting Service For a Parody Site? 115

An anonymous reader writes "Ok, bear with me now. I know this is not PC Mag 2014 review of hosting services. I am thinking of getting a parody website up. I am mildly concerned about potential reaction of the parodee, who has been known to be a little heavy handed when it comes to things like that. In short, I want to make sure that the hosting company won't flake out just because of potential complaints. I checked some companies and their TOS and AUPs all seem to have weird-ass restrictions (Arvixe, for example, has a list of unacceptable material that happens to list RPGs and MUDS ). I live in U.S.; parodee in Poland. What would you recommend?"
GUI

Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday 370

HughPickens.com writes Erik Karjaluoto writes that he recently installed OS X Yosemite and his initial reaction was "This got hit by the ugly stick." But Karjaluoto says that Apple's decision to make a wholesale shift from Lucida to Helvetica defies his expectations and wondered why Apple would make a change that impedes legibility, requires more screen space, and makes the GUI appear fuzzy? The Answer: Tomorrow.

Microsoft's approach with Windows, and backward compatibility in general, is commendable. "Users can install new versions of this OS on old machines, sometimes built on a mishmash of components, and still have it work well. This is a remarkable feat of engineering. It also comes with limitations — as it forces Microsoft to operate in the past." But Apple doesn't share this focus on interoperability or legacy. "They restrict hardware options, so they can build around a smaller number of specs. Old hardware is often left behind (turn on a first-generation iPad, and witness the sluggishness). Meanwhile, dying conventions are proactively euthanized," says Karjaluoto. "When Macs no longer shipped with floppy drives, many felt baffled. This same experience occurred when a disk (CD/DVD) reader no longer came standard." In spite of the grumblings of many, Karjaluoto doesn't recall many such changes that we didn't later look upon as the right choice.

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