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itwbennett writes The promise of modular smartphones like Google's Project Ara is that buyers will be able to upgrade components at will — and now Finnish company Circular Devices has come up with a use for discarded computing modules, which they're calling Puzzlecluster. Drawings of the Puzzlecluster architecture show a chassis with slots for the reused modules, which can then be interconnected with others to create the cluster. Just one unit could also be used as a desktop computer."
60 comments | 2 hours ago
An anonymous reader writes with news about a new project to test autonomous vehicles in Germany. "The German government wants to convert part of the A9 Autobahn in Bavaria into a test-field for advanced car technology. The project is key to ensuring the country's 'digital sovereignty,' according to its transport minister. The track, part of the 'Digitales Testfeld Autobahn' project, would be launched this year, Alexander Dobrindt said on Monday in an interview (in German) with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. The plan involves equipping the road with infrastructure to allow cars to communicate with each other and the road's own sensors to provide necessary data on traffic. 'Cars with assisted driving and later fully-automated cars will be able to drive there,' Dobrindt said. Germany, a major European car producer, wants to have robotic car technology that's not dependent on foreign companies, the minister said. Domestic producers 'won't rely on Google' he stressed."
56 comments | 4 hours ago
MojoKid writes If you're running Android 4.3 or earlier, you're pretty much out of luck when it comes to a baked-in defense against a WebView vulnerability that was discovered earlier this month by security analyst Tod Beardsley. The vulnerability leaves millions of users open to attack from hackers that choose to exploit the security hole. WebView is a core component of the Android operating system that renders web pages. The good news is that the version of WebView included in Android 4.4 KitKat and Android 5.0 Lollipop is based on Chromium and is not affected by the vulnerability. The bad news is that those running Android 4.3 and earlier are wide open, which means that 60 percent of Android users (or nearly one billion customers) are affected. What's most interesting is that Google has no trouble tossing grenades at the feet of Microsoft and Apple courtesy of its Project Zero program, but doesn't seem to have the resources to fix a vulnerability that affects a substantial portion of the Android user base.
368 comments | 6 hours ago
Ariastis writes Google took almost three years to disclose to the open information group WikiLeaks that it had handed over emails and other digital data belonging to three of its staffers to the FBI under a secret search warrant issued by a federal judge. WikiLeaks were told last month of warrants which were served in March 2012. The subjects of the warrants were the investigations editor of WikiLeaks, the British citizen Sarah Harrison; the spokesperson for the organisation, Kristinn Hrafnsson; and Joseph Farrell, one of its senior editors. When it notified the WikiLeaks employees last month, Google said it had been unable to say anything about the warrants earlier as a gag order had been imposed.
169 comments | yesterday
TechCurmudgeon writes A story in PCWorld's "World beyond Windows" column outlines coming improvements in Chrome OS that will enable easily running Linux directly from a USB stick: "Have you ever installed a full desktop Linux system on your Chromebook? It isn't all [that] hard, but it is a bit more complex than it should be. New features in the latest version of Chrome OS will make dipping into an alternative operating system easier. For example, you'll be able to easily boot a full Linux system from a USB drive and use it without any additional hassle!"
166 comments | 2 days ago
dkatana writes: Overall, demand for encryption is growing. Cloud encryption services provider CipherCloud recently received a $50 million investment by Deutsche Telekom, which the company said positions it for "explosive growth" this year. The services are designed to allow corporations to benefit from the cost savings and elasticity of cloud-based data storage, while ensuring that sensitive information is protected.
Now, both Apple and Google are providing full encryption as a default option on their mobile operating systems with an encryption scheme they are not able to break themselves, since they don't hold the necessary keys.
Some corporations have gone as far as turning to "zero-knowledge" services, usually located in countries such as Switzerland. These services pledge that they have no means to unlock the information once the customer has entered the unique encryption keys. This zero-knowledge approach is welcomed by users, who are reassured that their information is impossible to retrieve — at least theoretically — without their knowledge and the keys.
83 comments | 3 days ago
Esra Erimez writes: Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt on Thursday predicted a change in how we perceive the internet. Schmidt says, "There will be so many IP addresses, so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won't even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room."
228 comments | 3 days ago
First time accepted submitter mkukuluk writes Forget Google Glass — Jessi Hempel describes the amazing experience she had with the new Holographic goggles from Microsoft. From the article: "The headset is still a prototype being developed under the codename Project Baraboo, or sometimes just “B.” [inventor Alex] Kipman, with shoulder-length hair and severely cropped bangs, is a nervous inventor, shifting from one red Converse All-Star to the other. Nervous, because he’s been working on this pair of holographic goggles for five years. No, even longer. Seven years, if you go back to the idea he first pitched to Microsoft, which became Kinect. When the motion-sensing Xbox accessory was released, just in time for the 2010 holidays, it became the fastest-selling consumer gaming device of all time. Right from the start, he makes it clear that Baraboo will make Kinect seem minor league."
170 comments | 4 days ago
MojoKid writes There's a new report suggesting Google is partnering with select wireless carriers to sell its own branded wireless voice and data plans directly to consumers. According to sources and the "three people with knowledge of the plans," Google will tap into networks belonging to Sprint and T-Mobile for its new service, buying wholesale access to mobile voice and data in order to make itself a virtual network operator. That might sound disappointing on the surface. Had Google struck a deal with Verizon and AT&T, or even just Verizon, the deal could potentially have more critical mass, with great coverage backed by a company like Google and its services. The former might be a winning combination but at least this is a start. The project will be known as "Nova," which is reportedly being led by Google's Nick Fox, a longtime executive with the company. Apparently Fox has been overseeing this for some time now, and it seems likely a launch will take place this year.
101 comments | 4 days ago
BarbaraHudson writes Business Insider is reporting that despite billions of sign-ups, almost nobody is publicly active on Google+. Analytics and visualization blogger Kevin Anderson studied data compiled by Edward Morbius, who says that just 9% of Google+'s 2.2 billion users actively post public content. "We've got a grand spanking total of 24 profiles out of 7,875 whose 2015 post activity isn't YouTube comments but Google+ posts. That a 0.3% rate of all profile pages, going back to our 2.2 billion profiles. No wonder Dave Besbris (Google+ boss) doesn't want to talk about numbers," Morbius writes. For those interested both his methodology and the scripts used can be found here.
209 comments | 4 days ago
Nerval's Lobster writes As previously rumored, Google has discontinued selling Google Glass, its augmented-reality headset... but it could be coming out with something new and (supposedly) improved. The company has placed a relentlessly positive spin on its decision: "Glass was in its infancy, and you took those very first steps and taught us how to walk," reads a posting on the Google+ page for Glass. "Well, we still have some work to do, but now we're ready to put on our big kid shoes and learn how to run." Formerly a project of the Google X research lab, Glass will now be overseen by Tony Fadell, the CEO of Google subsidiary (and Internet of Things darling) Nest; more than a few Glass users are unhappy with Google's decision. If Google's move indeed represents a quiet period before a relaunch, rather than an outright killing of the product, what can it do to ensure that Glass's second iteration proves more of a success? Besides costing less (the original Glass retailed for $1,500 from Google's online storefront), Google might want to focus on the GoPro audience, or simply explain to consumers why they actually need a pair of glasses with an embedded screen. What else could they do to make Glass 2.0 (whatever it looks like) succeed?
323 comments | 5 days ago
HughPickens.com writes: The insurance industry is a fat target — there's were about $481 billion in premiums in 2013, and agents' commissions of about $50 billion. Now Conor Dougherty writes in the NYT that the boring but lucrative trade has been attracting big names like Google, which has formed a partnership with Comparenow, an American auto insurance comparison site that will give Google access to insurers in Comparenow's network. "A lot of people are waking up to the fact that it's a massive industry, it's old-fashioned, they still use human agents and the commissions are pretty big," says Jennifer Fitzgerald. It may seem like an odd match for Google, whose projects include driverless cars, delivery drones and a pill to detect cancer, but the key to insurance is having lots of data about people's backgrounds and habits, which is perhaps the company's greatest strength. "They have a ton of data on where people drive, how people drive," says Jon McNeill. "It's the holy grail of being able to price auto insurance correctly."
People in the industry and Silicon Valley say it is only a matter of time before online agencies attack the armies of intermediaries that are the backbone of the trade, and Google could present formidable competition for other insurance sellers. As many as two-thirds of insurance customers say they would consider purchasing insurance products from organizations other than insurers, including 23 percent who would consider buying from online service providers such as Google and Amazon. Google Compare auto insurance site has already been operating in Britain for two years as a search engine for auto insurance prices.
237 comments | about a week ago
An anonymous reader links to this story at The Stack (based on this translated report) that "The Moscow authorities will begin using the signal from Muscovites' cell-phones in 2015 to research patterns of traffic and points of congestion, with a view to changes in travel infrastructure including roads, the Moscow metro and bus services. The tracking, which appears to opt all users in unilaterally, promises not to identify individual cell-phone numbers, and will use GSM in most cases, but also GPS in more densely-constructed areas of the old city. The system is already in limited use on the roads, but will be extended to pedestrians and subway users in 2015. The city of 11.5 million people has three main cell providers, all of whom cooperate fully with authorities' request for information. A representative of one, Beeline, said: "We prepare reports that detail where our subscribers work, live, move, and other aspects."
63 comments | about a week ago
mpicpp writes with a report that Google is close to finalizing an investment in SpaceX to fund the rocket company's vision for satellite-based, low-cost internet access. According to The Information (paywalled), Google is one of many investors for this round of fundraising. The Wall Street Journal (also paywalled) reports Google's investment at $1 billion. They add, "It is likely to take years to establish designs and potentially set up a specialized satellite-making facility. But SpaceX already has some important building blocks. Industry officials said the company builds its own navigation and flight-control systems for spacecraft, which could provide some elements for satellites. There also are synergies between parts SpaceX makes today for solar arrays on spacecraft and such devices intended for satellites."
100 comments | about a week ago
samzenpus (5) writes "Alexander Stepanov is an award winning programmer who designed the C++ Standard Template Library. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer, research scientist, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. In addition to working together, the duo have recently written a new book titled, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Earlier this month you had a chance to ask the pair about their book, their work, or programming in general. Below you'll find the answers to those questions."
42 comments | about a week ago
DavidGilbert99 writes A month after it blocked Google's Gmail, the Chinese government now stands accused of hacking Microsoft's Outlook email service, carrying out man-in-the-middle attack to snoop on private conversations. From ZDNet: " On Monday, online censorship watchdog Greatfire.org said the organization received reports that Outlook was subject to a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack in China....After testing, Greatfire says that IMAP and SMTP for Outlook were under a MITM attack, while the email service's web interfaces were not affected.
35 comments | about a week ago
jones_supa writes The lack of a vertical tab strip (or "Tree Style Tab" as the Firefox extension is called) has been under a lot of discussion under Chrome/Chromium bug tracker. Some years ago, vertical tabs existed as an experimental feature enabled with a "secret" command line parameter, but that feature was eventually removed from the browser. Since then, Google has been rather quiet about whether such feature is still on the roadmap. Now, a Google engineer casts some light on the issue. He says that a tree-style interface for tabs would be overly complex as a native implementation, but Google would back the idea of improving the extensions interface to support a sidebar-like surface to render the tab UI on, if someone from the open source community would step forward to do the work to drive the feature to completion.
116 comments | about a week ago
theodp (442580) writes "For better or worse, YouTube stars are a big deal these days. Last December, Microsoft and Code.org turned to YouTube Stars iJustine and The Fine Brothers to help recruit the nation's K-12 schookids for the Hour of Code. And next week, in what the White House is touting as the State of the YOUnion , President Obama will turn to a trio of YouTube Stars for advice on the issues of day following his State of the Union Address. "We're inviting a handful of YouTube creators to the White House to talk with the President in person," explains the White House Blog, "and you can watch it all live on Thursday, January 22. YouTube creators Bethany Mota, GloZell, and Hank Green will interview President Obama about the issues care they most about and what they're hearing from their audiences." Commenting on the choice of the YouTube interviewers, CNN's David Acosta asked (confused) WH Press Secretary Josh Earnest, "I'm just curious, was 'Charlie Bit My Finger' or 'David After Dentist' not available?" So, how long until the U.S. is redistricted into YouTube Channels?"
105 comments | about a week ago
Qbertino writes After a long period of evaluation and weighing cons and pros I've gotten myself a brand new Android tablet (10" Lenovo Yoga 2, Android Version) destined to be my prime mobile computing device in the future. As any respectable freedom-loving geek/computer-expert I want to root it to be able to install API spoofing libraries and security tools to give me owners power over the machine and prevent services like Google and others spying on me, my files, photos, calendar and contacts. I also want to install an ad-blocking proxy (desperately needed — I forgot how much the normal web sucks!). I've searched for some rooting advice and tools, and so far have only stumbled on shady looking sites that offer various Windows-based rooting kits for android devices.
What's the gist on all this? How much of this stuff is potential malware? What are your experiences? Can I usually trust rooting strategies to be malware-free? Is there a rule-of-thumb for this? Is there perhaps a more generic way for a FOSS/Linux expert who isn't afraid of the CLI to root any Android 4.4 (Kitkat) device? Advice and own experiences, please.
184 comments | about a week ago
HughPickens.com writes Nicola Davis writes at The Guardian that a new exhibition at London's Science Museum tiitled Churchill's Scientists aims to explore how a climate that mingled necessity with ambition spurred British scientists to forge ahead in fields as diverse as drug-discovery and operational research, paving the way for a further flurry of postwar progress in disciplines from neurology to radio astronomy. Churchill "was very unusual in that he was a politician from a grand Victorian family who was also interested in new technology and science," says Andrew Nahum. "That was quite remarkable at the time." An avid reader of Charles Darwin and HG Wells, Churchill also wrote science-inspired articles himself and fostered an environment where the brightest scientists could build ground-breaking machines, such as the Bernard Lovell telescope, and make world-changing discoveries, in molecular genetics, radio astronomy, nuclear power, nerve and brain function and robotics. "During the war the question was never, 'How much will it cost?' It was, 'Can we do it and how soon can we have it?' This left a heritage of extreme ambition and a lot of talented people who were keen to see what it could provide." (More, below.)
75 comments | about a week ago