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Media

Redbox Plans To Launch New Streaming Service 'Redbox Digital' (consumerreports.org) 62

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Consumer Reports: Redbox, the movie and game-rental kiosk service, might be getting back into the streaming game a few years after its digital streaming service, Redbox Instant, failed. The new Redbox streaming service could be a pay-per-view option for rentals and purchases like Apple iTunes or Vudu. The trade publication Variety -- which broke the story, citing "multiple sources" familiar with the company -- said that the new service will be called Redbox Digital and that Redbox is close to launching a beta of the service. Compared to a subscription service, negotiating the rights to pay-per-view titles should be easier for Redbox. And since many Redbox streaming customers already use their site to search for and reserve titles, it would be much more convenient for them to be able to immediately order a digital version. Another potential benefit would be the price of the rentals. The reason why physical Redbox kiosks are popular is because the $1.50 rental price for DVDs, and $2 rental price for Blu-ray discs are relatively cheap. Redbox Digital may gain some attraction if, and only if, there are considerable savings for users, otherwise there would be little reason to choose Redbox over a more established pay-per-view service, such as Amazon Instant, Google Play, or Vudu.
Communications

Messaging Giant Line Becomes a Phone Carrier in Japan 10

Popular instant messaging service, Line, is entering the mobile carrier business in Japan. The company says that its carrier will utilise telecommunications infrastructure of major Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo and start at an affordable price of 500 yen (roughly $4.40) a month. Jon Fingas reports for Engadget: As of this summer, Japanese residents can subscribe to Line Mobile and get unlimited use of not only Line's chat and call services, but the "main features" (browsing and posts) of Facebook and Twitter.
Communications

Tor Project Says It Can Quickly Catch Spying Code 34

itwbennett writes: The Tor Project, which provides more anonymous browsing across the Internet using a customized Firefox Web browser. is fortifying its software so that it can quickly detect if its network is tampered with. To address worries that Tor could either be technically subverted or subject to court orders, Tor developers are now designing the system in such a way that many people can verify if code has been changed and 'eliminate single points of failure,' wrote Mike Perry, lead developer of the Tor Browser, on Monday. 'Even if a government or a criminal obtains our cryptographic keys, our distributed network and its users would be able to detect this fact and report it to us as a security issue,' said Perry.
Businesses

Rumor: Broadcom Phasing Out Wi-Fi Chip Business (digitimes.com) 65

jones_supa writes: According to sources in Taiwan at the heart of the electronics industry, Broadcom is looking to phase out its Wi-Fi chip business in a move to streamline its workforce and product offerings following its acquisition by Avago Technologies. In general, the Wi-Fi chip business yields relatively low gross margins compared to other product lines due to fierce price competition in the market for mass-market applications (such as notebooks, tablets, TVs and smartphones). Companies such as MediaTek, Realtek Semiconductor and RDA Microelectronics have already received a pull-in of short lead-time orders from Broadcom's customers in the Wi-Fi sector. Following its merger with Avago, Broadcom is expected to allocate more RD resources to solutions in the fiber-optic and server sectors. In addition, Broadcom has almost halved the workforce stationed at its office in Taipei.
Communications

What Lies Beneath: The First Transatlantic Communications Cables (hackaday.com) 49

szczys writes: Our global information networks are connected by many many fibre optic cables sitting on the the ocean floor. The precursor to this technology goes all the way back to 1858 when the first telegraph cable connecting North America and Europe was laid. The story of efforts to lay transatlantic cables is fascinating. First attempts were met with many failures including broken cable in the first few miles of installation, and even frying the first successful connection with 2000 volts within a month of completion. But the technology improved quickly and just a century later we laid the first voice cables that used — get this — vacuum tubes in the signal repeaters. This seems a good time to link to one of my favorite-ever pieces in Wired, about a more modern but similarly impressive cable install, as told by Neal Stephenson.
Communications

Gov't Accidentally Publishes Target of Lavabit Probe: It's Snowden (arstechnica.com) 162

AmiMoJo writes: In the summer of 2013, secure e-mail service Lavabit was ordered by a federal judge to provide real-time e-mail monitoring of one of its users. Rather than comply with the order, Levison shut down his entire company. He said what the government was seeking would have endangered the privacy of all of his 410,000 users. Now, what was widely assumed has been confirmed. In documents posted to the federal PACER database this month, the government accidentally left his e-mail, 'Ed_snowden@lavabit.com,' unredacted for all to see.
Facebook

Facebook's 'Closed Silos' Pose Challenges To Open Web 77

An anonymous reader writes: The growing trend of closed content silos -- publishing platforms that require a login in order to view the content is a step away from a more open web. Back in December of last year, Facebook launched its own in-app browser, which is basically a web-view that loads links you tap on using the Facebook app. Although in-app browsers may be convenient for some, such features are primarily designed to keep users inside of the application for a longer duration, which translates to more advertising exposure (and, thus, more money). This kind of feature can be challenging to the goal of keeping the web open, not only because the feature overrides the end user's default mobile browser, but also because it keeps users in a closed ecosystem (versus exploring the web). Additionally, the Instant Articles feature doubles down on siloed content by working with publishers to make articles available nearly instantly within the app, loading much faster than they would through a mobile browser. This sounds good, and it is convenient. But it also sets up a path for monetizing content that would otherwise be viewable outside of the closed silo, and, because you're using the app to browse the web inside this silo, there are privacy concerns. Unlike using a browser such as Firefox or Chrome, which has a private browsing option, a user of Facebook's in-app browser does not have the same privacy control. It's no secret that Facebook has been trying to create what appears to be a closed version of the internet. The social juggernaut's Free Basics initiative, for instance, offers users with free access to select websites. Facebook gets to be the gatekeeper of the platform. This is something that didn't sit well with some privacy advocates in India, who played an instrumental role in banning Facebook's initiative in the country. Facebook is not just a social networking website where people go to talk with their friends and family, Facebook has become a mammoth platform that offers the ability to upload videos (mimic YouTube), and send money to your friends (mimic PayPal) among other things. It is almost scary to see the rate at which Facebook is expanding and trying to absorb everything that comes in its way.
Australia

Stephen Elop New Chief Innovator For Australia's Telstra 110

Freshly Exhumed writes: The former Microsoft executive excoriated by some industry watchers for the collapse of Nokia Mobile Phones, Stephen Elop, has re-emerged down under. Telstra says Elop is being appointed to the new role of Group Executive Technology, Innovation and Strategy, "leading Telstra's strategy to become a world class technology company" (stop giggling, you in the back row). Telstra cites Elop's "deep technology experience" and "innate sense of customer expectations."
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Alternatives To "Atomic" Clocks? 291

Tony Isaac writes: "Atomic" clocks that you can buy in stores synchronize time using the WWVB shortwave band from NIST in Boulder. The problem is, this signal is notoriously weak, making these clocks very sensitive to interference by other RF or electronic devices, or less-than-ideal reception conditions. In many locations, these clocks are never able to receive a time signal, making them no better at timekeeping than a cheap quartz clock. There are other ways to synchronize clock time: NTP over WiFi, GPS, or cellular. The cheapest clocks that use NTP over Wi-Fi cost around $400. Really? And while there are plenty of GPS-enabled smartwatches in the $100 price range, there don't seem to be any similar wall clocks. Are there any reasonably-priced wall clock alternatives, that use something other than shortwave to set the time?
Cellphones

LG Releases First Smartphone With DAB+ Chip (thestack.com) 53

An anonymous reader writes: LG have released the first smartphone with built-in DAB+ circuitry,allowing users to listen to digital radio without consuming mobile data bandwidth. The LG Stylus 2 will initially be released in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Norway, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands (perhaps not coincidentally these are among the highest-rate adopters of DAB/DAB+). Patchy coverage and often-poor bitrates have hindered the take-up of DAB/+, which has been in development since the early 1980s, and it's hoped that the shift from the motoring to the smartphone space will alleviate some of the coverage problems that users experienced with the push to DAB-based car radios. No benchmarks on power consumption of the integrated DAB+ circuitry is currently available.
Encryption

Google, Facebook, WhatsApp and Others To Beef Up Encryption (thestack.com) 86

An anonymous reader writes: Tech giants including Google, Facebook, Whatsapp and Snapchat are looking to increase the privacy of user data by expanding their encryption features. The recent reports mark growing industry support for Apple in its fight to not allow authorities backdoor access into users' devices. Facebook has suggested that it is increasing privacy of its Messenger service, while its instant messaging app Whatsapp also confirmed that it would be extending its encryption offering to secure voice calls. Others reportedly joining the industry shift include Snapchat, which is working on securing its messaging service, and search heavyweight Google, which is currently developing an encrypted email project. From The Guardian's substantially similar story from which the above-linked article draws: WhatsApp has been rolling out strong encryption to portions of its users since 2014, making it increasingly difficult for authorities to tap the service's messages. The issue is personal for founder Jan Koum, who was born in Soviet-era Ukraine. When Apple CEO Tim Cook announced in February that his company would fight the government in court, Koum posted on his Facebook account: "Our freedom and our liberty are at stake." His efforts to go further still are striking as the app is in open confrontation with governments. Brazil authorities arrested a Facebook executive on 1 March after WhatsApp told investigators it lacked the technical ability to provide the messages of drug traffickers. Facebook called the arrest "extreme and disproportionate." The sooner, the better on this front: as TechDirt points out, WhatsApp may be next on the list of communication tools to which the U.S. government would like to give the Apple Treatment.
Communications

Qubes OS 3.1 Has Been Released 43

Burz writes: Invisible Things Labs has released Qubes OS 3.1. Some of the features recently introduced into this secure concept, single-user desktop OS are Salt management, the Odyssey abstraction layer, and UEFI boot support. The 3.x series also lays the groundwork for distributed verifiable builds, Whonix VMs for Tor isolation, split-GPG key management, USB sandboxing, and a host of others. Qubes has recently gained a following among privacy advocates, notable among them journalist J.M. Porup, Micah Lee at The Intercept and Edward Snowden. Embodying a shift away from complex kernel-based security and towards bare metal hypervisors and IOMMUs for strict isolation of hardware components, Qubes seals off the usual channels for 'VM breakout' and DMA attacks. It isolates NICs and USB hardware within unprivileged VMs which are themselves are a re-working of the usual concept, each booting from read-only OS 'templates' which can be shared. Graphics are also virtualized behind a simple, hardened interface. Some of the more interesting attacks mitigated by Qubes are Evil Maid, BadBIOS, BadUSB and Mousejack.
Security

Critical Bug In Libotr Opens Users of ChatSecure, Adium, Pidgin To Compromise (helpnetsecurity.com) 25

An anonymous reader writes with a report at HelpNet Security that A vulnerability in "libotr," the C code implementation of the Off-the-Record (OTR) protocol that is used in many secure instant messengers such as ChatSecure, Pidgin, Adium and Kopete, could be exploited by attackers to crash an app using libotr or execute remote code on the user's machine.
Communications

Chicagoan Arrested For Using Cell-phone Jammer To Make Subway Commute Tolerable (chicagotribune.com) 518

McGruber writes with this story from the Chicago Tribune: Last Fall, certified public accountant Dennis Nicholl boarded a Chicago subway train while carrying a plastic bag of Old Style beer. Nicholl popped open a beer and looked around the car, scowling as he saw another rider talking on a cellphone. He pulled out a black device from his pocket and switched it on. Commuters who had been talking on their phones went silent, checking their screens for the source of their dropped calls. On Tuesday, undercover officers arrested Nicholl. Cook County prosecutors and Chicago police allege he created his own personal 'quiet car' on the subway by using an illegal device he imported from China. He was charged with unlawful interference with a public utility, a felony. This is not the first time Nicholl has been charged with jamming cell calls. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in June 2009, according to court records. He was placed under court supervision for a year, and his equipment was confiscated and destroyed.
Communications

Laser System Set To Revolutionize Future Aircraft, Satellite Data Links (thestack.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes: A new laser system, dubbed HYPERION, promises to improve the transmission of data from aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and orbiting satellites to ground stations. The optical system, developed by a team of Innovate UK researchers, has been designed to send critical information more securely, rapidly and efficiently than traditional radio frequency (RF) methods. Suggested applications for HYPERION include helping UAVs involved in disaster monitoring and other humanitarian projects to quickly offload detailed data back to the ground for analysis. The system could also be applied in future airline systems to transmit vast amounts of technical data collected by on-board sensors to ground stations — a process which could help speed up maintenance procedures and significantly cut turnaround times.

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