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Creator of Android Andy Rubin Nears His Comeback, Complete With an 'Essential' Phone ( 73

From a report on Bloomberg: Rubin, creator of the Android operating system, is planning to marry his background in software with artificial intelligence in a risky business: consumer hardware. Armed with about a 40-person team, filled with recruits from Apple and Google, Rubin is preparing to announce a new company called Essential and serve as its Chief Executive Officer, according to people familiar with the matter. A platform company designed to tie multiple devices together, Essential is working on a suite of consumer hardware products, including ones for the mobile and smart home markets, one of the people said. The centerpiece of the system is a high-end smartphone with a large edge-to-edge screen that lacks a surrounding bezel. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, Rubin discussed the smartphone with mobile carrier executives, including some from Sprint Corp., people familiar with the talks said. The smartphone, according to the report, would go on sale around the middle of this year and will cost nearly as much as iPhone 7 ($649, off contract).

Comment Re:Threshold (Score 1) 402

Everyone is not creative. Everyone can't write, and most can't well enough that anyone would want to read it.

And even if you can, it's hard to be heard above all the other people who are writing/creating. In October, I published my first novel. Now, I have no delusions that it'd be a New York Times Bestseller, but I think it's pretty good. As I'm working on the sequel, I started trying to "sell" it. The only problem is that I'm much better at writing a book than at selling it. There are hundreds of other books out there and getting people to actually buy and read yours is an uphill battle.

In the end, I have a full-time job and wrote this book for enjoyment rather than income. If I had to rely on it for my income, though, I'd be in huge trouble.

Comment Re:Pot meet Kettle (Score 1) 69

I think you're right, but I think it's a similar situation across the globe - realistically spy agencies in Russia, China and so forth shouldn't be doing those things to innocent citizens either so I don't think it's entirely a Western problem.

I think it's a general issue here that governments need to get together and accept that they all need to reign in their agencies before shit really does hit the fan with some mutual agreement to start actually following the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (that governs against this sort of thing), and to start governing cyber operations against each other in the same way military operations are governed against each other - i.e. it's not just some routine thing you do on a whim, and that there are consequences for it.

I mean, let's be clear, the sort of shit you are describing already has in some countries has profoundly damaging real world consequences - the whole arab spring started in Tunisia precisely because overreaching security services eventually pushed one man just that bit too far for example.

So you're absolutely right to point out that uncontrolled security services can cause more harm than good if they are not reigned in appropriately, and if left to go to far, they in themselves can become a catalyst for national collapse as in the arab spring.

Comment Re:Pot meet Kettle (Score 1) 69

I'm actually rather concerned that contrary to the implication in the summary that this is no longer simply citizen hacking but in fact escalation of state sponsored hacking. It seems we're beginning to find out more and more that nation states are engaged in hacking from the hacks we know about for sure such as the North Korean hack of Sony, through to the ones that we can make a reasonable assumption on such as the Russian hacks of the DNC (even Trump finally said on Wednesday he thinks it was the Russians), through to those we simply don't know about.

Even if we step back a few years we had the Syrian cyber army being quite active in it's hacking attempts. Given that Syria worked closely with North Korea on their attempted nuclear program (Syria's nuclear program destroyed by Israel in 2007 was shown to be a clone of North Korea's) then would it really be far fetched to assume that given that North Korea also has strong offensive hacking capabilities that it wasn't engaging with them on that too? Similarly the UEA ClimateGate hack was eventually believed based on analysis to be an act by Russia as it was carried out just days before a major climate conference in 2009 that sought to reduce emissions by cutting fossil fuel use - far and away the foundation of Russia's entire economy so they had clear interest also in sabotaging such an agreement and it worked, the conference was largely a failure as a result.

Of course it's not one sided, we know about Stuxnet being a likely US-Israeli attack, and we know that the five eyes countries have been engaging in these sorts of things for years thanks to the revelations by Snowden. I'm not saying it's just some countries or others doing it, on the contrary, I think everyone is doing it. Frankly I suspect at least some of the purported hacks by anonymous were merely just nation states using the broad anonymous idea as cover for their actions.

Could this Cellebrite hack for example be revenge by Iran for Stuxnet? At this point I do not think that's far-fetched for one minute, though hopefully time will tell.

My concern is that this is getting out of control. How long before this escalates and what we once laughed at as being paranoia, the idea of "cyber war" becomes a reality and someone decides to break a damn, or overload a powerplant? Ukraine already saw last year an outage on their powergrid because of hackers. Thankfully I believe no one died, but how long before someone does and it stops just being a cyber war?

We're learning more and more about this and so far solutions
have been purely political and diplomatic. A couple of years back we were seeing constant hacks on the US from China, and this died down - I saw an article recently explaining what happened, and it turns out that there was more than meets the eye to the US charges against 5 Chinese mentioned here:

The images that the US used for these arrest warrants were apparently personal images the US themselves had stolen from these Chinese general's laptops after their own hacks against them. The effect was to send a public message to the Chinese that "we can do it too" and it seems to have been succesful as China/US relations on this front seem to have significantly improved and this seems to have been the driver for the China/US cyber agreement agreed late last year. It appears the Chinese cyber command got spooked when they saw their own non-publicly available data used to provide pictures in arrest warrants against them and forced a whole Chinese reconsideration of the issue.

It's clear therefore that increased state hacking isn't merely the paranoia that people once thought it was and that it's generally becoming more prolific, or at least, we're becoming far more aware of it as time goes on and more information is released. So the point I was going to make in reply to your post was this - I'm not sure staying safe is a consideration in most these hacks anymore, because I think more and more the people doing them are doing them at the behest of their governments and are protected by borders and standing armies already. My concern is that when it comes to that, what can go horribly wrong if this doesn't change, and if diplomacy fails to work as it did in China and America's case.

I simply don't think it's a safe assumption anymore that a hack is the result of a disgruntled kid in his bedroom acting alone. It seems it's as much a game for the big boys in suits and uniforms now if anything.

Comment Re:Now this is just getting stupid (Score 1) 562

Tapes had portability going for them back in the day. You could take a lot more cassette tapes with you than you could vinyl records. Plus, a cassette player fit into your car easier than a record player would. They weren't a great solution, but they were the best we had with the technology of the day. However, their portability edge was surpassed by CDs and then shattered by MP3s.

The last time I touched a cassette tape was when I found one in my old room at my parents' house and decided to show my kids how I listened to music. They were fascinated with it but quickly grew frustrated by being unable to fast forward or rewind to the exact spot where a song began.

Comment Re:Hate voting when I like both sides (Score 4, Informative) 49

The remedies are already in place. Suppose someone posts on Slashdot advertising a human trafficking operation. If Slashdot were liable for user comments, Slashdot would immediately be guilty of abetting said operation. Of course, the site isn't liable so they're not immediately at risk of a lawsuit over the situation. The proper response is to report the comment and Slashdot either takes it down (and thus shields themselves from liability) or decides to leave it up (in which case, they might expose themselves to liability). Alternatively, the authorities could subpoena Slashdot (through proper legal channels) to get information on the person who made the post.

With this system in place, sites can host user-generated content without hiring armies of human (as opposed to automated) moderators. (Imagine how many moderators YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook would need to hire just to keep up with the flood of content!) Meanwhile, it also allows for illegal comments to be removed - something that any site worth its salt wants to ensure anyway if only to keep the spam out.

Comment Re:Only remove it for California (Score 4, Insightful) 217

Publishing basic facts like: "Mark Hamill was born 25 September 1951 in Oakland, California, USA" shouldn't fall under anti-discrimination laws. In fact, while looking up Mark's birthday for this comment, I noticed that IMDB doesn't actually post the actor's age. Sure, you can subtract 1951 from 2016 to get his age, but IMDB only gives you his date of birth. This is a fact, not a judgement call.

Now, if IMDB was regularly posting incorrect birth dates, there might be some issue, but posting the date that celebrities were born isn't discrimination.

Comment Re:Not for me (Score 1) 47

For me and my wife, I'm sure that Autism plays something of a role. My son was diagnosed as autistic a few years back (Asperger's Syndrome) and while reading up on the subject everything clicked. I've always known I was different from "normal people," but never knew why. Growing up and loving Star Trek, I always associated with Data - always trying to figure out social situations and feeling utterly baffled by things that most people got so easily. Over the years, I've gotten pretty good. I can have actual conversations and deal with most social situations that I encounter.

Still, nonverbal cues are lost on me. My wife is neurotypical and it always amazes me when we go into meetings with people. I'll come out thinking the meeting went well, but she'll point out that this person was rolling their eyes and that person was doing that, etc. She'll have an entirely different view of the meeting because she catches all these nonverbal cues that I miss. It's one reason I love online conversations. The closest you come to nonverbal cues is emoticons or emoji and those are simple to understand.

Comment Re:Computerized Glasses (Score 1) 47

Never that bad, but recently someone I've known for years bought my book and wanted me to sign it for them. My mind picked that exact moment to misplace their name. I asked if she wanted it personalized (thinking maybe I could get away with just signing my name) and she said "Of course, after all, we're friends." I was trapped. My mind offered up "Susan" so I asked if I should make it out to Sue or Susan. Needless to say, that wasn't even close to her name.

On the bright side, with all my embarrassment over the situation, I don't think I'll ever forget that person's name again.

Comment Re:Not for me (Score 1) 47

Ironically, seeing people as objects can be a great help in crowds. My wife hates crowds. I don't love them, but don't mind venturing into them as much. My theory is that she sees all these people, interprets attitudes about us based on what they do or say near us, and sees their actions and judges how rude these people are being. I, on the other hand, view the crowds of people as a series of mobile objects. I'm not so rude as to just barrel through them, knocking them over, but I also don't care if one of the "objects" thinks I'm rude because I've led my boys ahead of them when they're walking slowly.

Comment Re:Well that's a hell of a security hole. (Score 2) 254

Interestingly in the UK we don't have that second step, but when I tried ordering anything through Alexa I couldn't get her to order anything other than my order history too, so the whole Prime-eligible items thing seemed to not work when I tried a few weeks ago and you were restricted to re-ordering past items only.

Regardless I've put a pin in place so you can't accidentally trigger a purchase from an advert or anything without also saying the pin, but given that I don't even use that feature I might as well use the other option that lets you turn off voice ordering completely. Amazon should probably make that the default unless someone asks to order then tell them how to enable it though really.

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