Geek Stuff

Now you can try Amazon Echo… in a browser

Liliputing -

Want to take Amazon’s Alexa voice service for a spin, but don’t want to spend money on an Amazon Echo or another product with Alexa support? All you need is a web browser.

Amazon has launched Echosim.io, a website where you can interact with with a virtual Amazon Echo. It’s aimed at developers, but anyone can give it a try.

You’ll need a computer that has a microphone, and you’ll need to grant the web page permission to use your mic.

Continue reading Now you can try Amazon Echo… in a browser at Liliputing.

Amazon Built An Echo Simulator You Can Use In the Browser

Slashdot -

Jordan Novet, writing for VentureBeat: Amazon today announced the availability of Echosim.io, a website that simulates the capabilities of the Amazon Echo speaker, which employs Amazon's Alexa voice assistant technology. The thing about Alexa is that many people who don't own the Echo -- or its smaller siblings, the Tap and the Echo Dot -- haven't been able to see what Alexa is capable of. The new tool â" which was inspired by the Alexa in the Browser application that Nexmo developer advocate Sam Machin came up with during a hackathon last year -- solves that problem. All you have to do is head to the website, sign in with your Amazon credentials, and start holding your mouse down over the microphone button to see what Alexa can do. It's nifty for anyone to use, but it's also potentially useful to developers. âoeDevelopers worldwide can use Echosim to experience Alexa,â Amazon Alexa developer marketing manager Glenn Cameron wrote in a blog post.Interesting move, especially for people who either do not want to -- or can't -- purchase the device (unavailability being one reason). You will need to login with your Amazon account in order to test Echosim.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Someone In North Korea Is Hosting a Facebook Clone

Slashdot -

Reporter Jason Koebler shares: Someone in North Korea appears to have created a Facebook clone, according to an internet analytics company that traced the site's DNS to the notoriously isolated country. The social network is an off-the-shelf Facebook clone called dolphinPHP. Dyn Analytics researcher Doug Madory said that "very few websites resolve to the North Korean address space, and this one does."From the screenshots in the article, the user interface, and other elements do look similar to that of Facebook.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Samsung shows off a 5.5 inch, 4K display for VR

Liliputing -

4K displays might be overkill for smartphones if you just want to use them as phones… but now that many phones can double as virtual reality displays, a growing number of companies are producing small screens with more pixels than you’ll find on most 32 inch TVs.

Case in point: UploadVR notes that this week Samsung showed off a 5.5 inch, 3840 x 2160 pixel display at SID Display Week.

The screen 806 pixels per inch, which means you’d normally have to hold it very close to your to tell one pixel from another.

Continue reading Samsung shows off a 5.5 inch, 4K display for VR at Liliputing.

All European Scientific Articles To Be Freely Accessible By 2020

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader shares a report on EU2016: All scientific articles in Europe must be freely accessible as of 2020. EU member states want to achieve optimal reuse of research data. They are also looking into a European visa for foreign start-up founders. And, according to the new Innovation Principle, new European legislation must take account of its impact on innovation. These are the main outcomes of the meeting of the Competitiveness Council in Brussels on 27 May. Under the presidency of Netherlands State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science Sander Dekker, the EU ministers responsible for research and innovation decided unanimously to take these significant steps.Many questions remain unanswered. For instance, it is not clear whether the publishers would be forced to make their papers available for free or whether EU will only allow scientists who are happy to abide by the rules to publish papers. We should have more details on this soon.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hackers Claim to Have 427 Million Myspace Passwords

Slashdot -

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, reporting for Motherboard: There's an oft-repeated adage in the world of cybersecurity: There are two types of companies, those that have been hacked, and those that don't yet know they have been hacked. MySpace, the social media behemoth that was, is apparently in the second category. The same hacker who was selling the data of more than 164 million LinkedIn users last week now claims to have 360 million emails and passwords of MySpace users, which would be one of the largest leaks of passwords ever. And it looks like the data is being circulated in the underground by other hackers as well. It's unclear when the data was stolen from MySpace, but both the hacker, who's known as Peace, and one of the operators of LeakedSource, a paid hacked data search engine that also claims to have the credentials, said it's from a past, unreported, breach.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

North Korea Linked to the SWIFT Bank Hacks

Slashdot -

North Korea could be behind the recent string of digital attacks on Asian banks, says Symantec. The cyber security firms notes that the attacks could be traced as far back as October 2015, two months prior to the earliest known incident. As you may recall, hackers stole around $80M from Bangladesh's central bank in March, and a similar attack was seen at a Vietnamese bank earlier this month. Symantec says that it has found evidence that distinctive malware that was used in both the hacks had strong commonalities with the 2014 Sony Picture breaches. Security firm FireEye also investigated the matter. From a Bloomberg report: Investigators are examining possible computer breaches at as many as 12 banks linked to Swift's global payments network that have irregularities similar to those in the theft of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank, according to a person familiar with the probe. FireEye, the security firm hired by the Bangladesh bank, has been contacted by the other banks, most of which are in Southeast Asia, because of signs that hackers may have breached their networks, the person said. They include banks in the Philippines and New Zealand but not in Western Europe or the United States. There is no indication of whether money was taken.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

ELLO 2M is a DIY portable 128K computer aimed at education/hacking (crowdfunding)

Liliputing -

Want to learn how to program the same way people did three or four decades ago, but don’t want to hunt down an ancient PC? The ELLO 2M is a DIY computer kit with a keyboard, 7 inch touchscreen display, and an 1156-hole electronics protoyping space.

The system is designed to run a version of the BASIC programming language.

It’s got pretty low-power hardware by today’s PC standards… but it has everything you need to get started with programming, and a significantly more compact design than you’d get from a classic computer with similar functionality.

Continue reading ELLO 2M is a DIY portable 128K computer aimed at education/hacking (crowdfunding) at Liliputing.

Copyright Doesn't Mean Unlimited Control

EFF's Deeplinks -

Industry Arguments Shouldn’t Deter the FCC from Unlocking Cable Boxes

True competition could finally come to the market for TV set-top boxes thanks to a new set of proposed rules from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Under the FCC’s “Unlock the Box” rule, you’ll be able to use a device from any manufacturer to connect to your cable or satellite TV service.

Disappointingly—but not surprisingly—the cable industry has not responded well. Cable and satellite providers’ comments on the proposed rule have followed a predictable pattern: cable operators and their TV studio subsidiaries think that copyright law affords them complete control over the devices that we use to consume their content.

It’s easy to see how flimsy cable’s arguments are—imagine if a cable network tried to require that viewers watch its programs on a 42-inch television, or if a book publisher made you sign an agreement that you can only use a certain brand of light bulb to see its books. By design, copyright grants rights holders a specific and limited set of rights to their works—it does not give them the right to attach unlimited strings to others’ use of those works.

Together with a group of copyright law experts, the EFF has filed a reply to the cable industry’s complaints. We told the FCC not to be deterred by extreme and misleading copyright arguments in its effort to bring competition and innovation to the set-top box market.

Copyright does not confer a general right of commercial exploitation or “use” of a work. Thus, products and services that touch copyrighted works do not infringe copyright, and do not require a license, except to the extent that they implicate one or more of the exclusive rights. A television set is worthless without video programming to view, and a home audio system has little purpose without music. One could argue that the commercial value of these devices derives from the copyrighted works they touch. Following that reasoning, the sale of TVs and home audio equipment could be deemed a commercial exploitation of copyrighted works. But because these devices don’t ordinarily reproduce, distribute, or publicly perform works (let alone meet the rigorous standards for establishing secondary liability under copyright law), the law does not give copyright holders any right to prohibit their use and sale, dictate their design, or demand royalties.

This is no mere oversight on the part of Congress, because “the policies served by the Copyright Act are more complex, more measured, than simply maximizing the number of meritorious suits for copyright infringement.” The structure of copyright law as a limited set of exclusive rights defined in statute allows for innovation and competition, and provides a check against the vertical integration of content producers and technology vendors to the exclusion of competitors.

Read our full comments.


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Gigabit Internet With No Data Caps May Be Coming To Rural America

Slashdot -

Jon Brodkin, writing for Ars Technica: The Federal Communications Commission is making another $2.15 billion available for rural broadband projects, and it's trying to direct at least some of that money toward building services with gigabit download speeds and unlimited data. The FCC voted for the funding Wednesday (PDF) and released the full details yesterday (PDF). The money, $215 million a year for 10 years, will be distributed to Internet providers through a reverse auction in which bidders will commit to providing specific performance levels. Bidders can obtain money by proposing projects meeting requirements in any of four performance tiers. There's a minimum performance tier that includes speeds of at least 10Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream, with at least 150GB of data provided each month. A "baseline" performance tier requires 25Mbps/3Mbps speeds and at least 150GB a month, though the data allotment minimum could rise based on an FCC metric that determines what typical broadband consumers use per month.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Why Are We Spending Billions and Tons of Fossil Fuel On Search of Lost Planes?

Slashdot -

Reader Max_W asks: After days of massive search finally, "Report: Signals detected from EgyptAir Flight 804 in Mediterranean" Why not record GPS/GLONASS track constantly into a text file on say twenty flash USB drives enclosed into orange styrofoam with the serial aircraft number on it? In case of an accident, these waterproof USB flash drives are released outside overboard. Certainly the text file is encrypted. Such a floating USB flash drive would cost maximum a hundred USD even if equipped with a tiny LED lamp; while an aircraft costs millions, and a search may costs billions let alone thousands of tons of burned fossil fuel.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Samsung Pay Mini app may be coming to non-Samsung phones

Liliputing -

Want to use your phone to pay for items at the store? If you have an iPhone, there’s Apple Pay. Some Android phones can use Google’s Android Pay. And Samsung’s recent phones support the company’s own Samsung Pay mobile payment system.

But soon you might not need a Samsung device to use Samsung Pay… or at least part of it.

ET News reports that the South Korean company plans to launch Samsung Pay Mini soon.

Continue reading Samsung Pay Mini app may be coming to non-Samsung phones at Liliputing.

Microsoft's Get Windows 10 App, KB 3035583, Reappears

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader shares an InfoWorld article: Once again, Microsoft has unleashed the GWX Kraken, with no explanation and no description. The latest KB 3035583 appears as a "Recommended" optional patch for Windows 7 and 8.1. Those with Automatic Update turned on and "Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates" checked -- the default settings -- will see the patch as a checked, optional update, and it will be installed the next time Automatic Update runs. If you previously hid KB 3035583, it's now unhidden. I'm sure there are a dozen people on earth who still have Auto Updates turned on, "Recommended updates" checked, and who haven't yet accepted Microsoft's kind invitation for a free copy of Windows 10. This one's for them. In late March 2015, Microsoft released the first version of KB 3035583. Described as "Update enables additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1," the patch immediately raised eyebrows. In April of last year, a German researcher named Gerard Himmelein, writing at heise.de, figured out that Microsoft was sneaking a Windows 10 upgrader onto Win7 and 8.1 machines. Life for Win7 and 8.1 customers since then has degenerated into Win10 whack-a-mole.In some other news, Chinese news outlet Xinhua reports that plenty of users in China are unhappy about Microsoft's push to get them to mandatorily upgrade their Windows OS. "The company has abused its dominant market position and broken the market order for fair play," Xinhua quoted Zhao Zhanling, a legal adviser with the Internet Society of China, as saying.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Slashdot Asks: Would You Pay For Android Updates?

Slashdot -

It's no secret that most Android OEMs could do better when it comes to seeding out updates for their existing devices. A report on Bloomberg earlier this week claimed that Google plans to publicly name and shame the OEMs who are too slow at updating their devices. An HTC executive who didn't want to be identified told Slashdot on Thursday that it is not the right way to approach the problem. But that's only one part of the problem. The other issue is that almost every Android OEM partner -- including Google itself -- only provides support to their devices for 18-24 months. Vlad Savov of The Verge in a column today urges Android OEMs to perhaps charge its users if that is what it takes for them to offer support to their devices for a longer period of time and in a timely manner. He writes: I've been one of the many people dissatisfied with the state of Android software updates, however I can't in good conscience direct my wrath at the people manufacturing the devices. Price and spec competition is so intense right now that there's literally no option to disengage: everyone's been sucked into the whirlpool of razor-thin profit margins, and nobody can afford the luxury of dedicating too many resources to after-sales care. The question that's been bugging me lately is, if we value Android updates as highly as we say we do, why don't we pay for them? The situation can't be fixed by manufacturers -- most of them are barely breaking even -- or by Google, which is doing its best to improve things but ultimately relies on carriers and device makers to get the job done. Carriers will most certainly not be the solution, given how they presently constitute most of the problem (just ask AT&T Galaxy S6 owners) -- so like it or not, the best chance for substantial change comes from us, the users. What I'm proposing is a simple crowdfunding operation. I'm skeptical about this, because I don't think it is in an OEM's best interest to serve its existing users for long -- how else they will convince customers to purchase their new devices? A newer software version is after all one of the ultimate selling points of a new phone. So I don't think an OEM will take up on such an offer. What do you folks think?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Deals of the Day (5-27-2016)

Liliputing -

The Microsoft Surface line of products aren’t exactly the cheapest Windows devices money can buy, but they do tend to offer high-quality hardware and they’re obviously designed to play well with Windows software. And they’re often available at deep discounts from the Microsoft Store and other retailers.

Right now Microsoft is offering $150 to $200 off some models… and one of the best deals is on the Microosft Surface Pro 4. You can currently buy a model with a Core i5 processor for $50 less than the price of an entry-level version with a Core M3 chip.

Continue reading Deals of the Day (5-27-2016) at Liliputing.

Facebook Begins Tracking Non-Users Around the Internet

Slashdot -

Amar Toor, reporting for The Verge: Facebook will now display ads to web users who are not members of its social network, the company announced Thursday, in a bid to significantly expand its online ad network. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Facebook will use cookies, "like" buttons, and other plug-ins embedded on third-party sites to track members and non-members alike (Editor's note: link swapped with a non-paywall source). The company says it will be able to better target non-Facebook users and serve relevant ads to them, though its practices have come under criticism from regulators in Europe over privacy concerns. Facebook began displaying a banner notification at the top of its News Feed for users in Europe today, alerting them to its use of cookies as mandated under an EU directive.Mark Wilson of BetaNews adds that Facebook has outlined these changes in its cookies policy page. As part of which, the company is now allowing Facebook users to opt-out of the ad scheme by making changes to their Facebook settings. For users that don't have a Facebook account, they can opt-out through Digital Advertising Alliance in the United States and Canada, and the European Interactive Digital Adverting Alliance in Europe.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

China Unveils 'Straddling Bus' Design To Beat Traffic Jams

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: A Beijing company has unveiled spectacularly futuristic designs for a pollution-busting, elevated bus capable of gliding over the nightmarish mega-jams for which urban China has become notorious. The "straddling bus," which owes more to Blade Runner than China's car-clogged highways, is supported by two legs that run along rails laid along the roadside. Those legs allow the Transit Explore Bus, or TEB's giant frame to glide high above the gridlock at speeds of up to 60km per hour. Equally, vehicles that are less than two metres high will be able to drive freely underneath the bus, even when it is stationary. "The biggest advantage is that the bus will save lots of road space," Song Youzhou, the project's chief engineer, told Xinhua, China's official news agency. Song claimed his buses, capable of transporting up to 1,400 commuters, could be produced for 20% of the price of an underground train and rolled out far more quickly since the supporting infrastructure was relatively simple. One TEB could replace 40 conventional buses, he said.You can watch the concept video here. Interestingly a very similar -- if not the exact same -- concept has come out of China before. Not sure what kind of developments have been made in the six years since then.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

I guess backpack PCs for VR gaming are a thing now (HP has one too)

Liliputing -

HP unveiled a new line of gaming PCs under its Omen brand this week, and I didn’t pay much attention because for the most part the new HP Omen family is made up of high-power desktops and big, heavy laptops and the whole point of Liliputing is to focus on Lilliputian (small) computers.

But then HP went and introduced one more thing: a VR-ready gaming PC that you can wear like a backpack.

Continue reading I guess backpack PCs for VR gaming are a thing now (HP has one too) at Liliputing.

Secret Text In Senate Bill Would Give FBI Warrantless Access To Email Records

Slashdot -

mi quotes a report from The Intercept: A provision snuck into the still-secret text of the Senate's annual intelligence authorization would give the FBI the ability to demand individuals' email data and possibly web-surfing history from their service providers using those beloved 'National Security Letters' -- without a warrant and in complete secrecy. [The spy bill passed the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, with the provision in it. The lone no vote came from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who wrote in a statement that one of the bill's provisions "would allow any FBI field office to demand email records without a court order, a major expansion of federal surveillance powers." If passed, the change would expand the reach of the FBI's already highly controversial national security letters. The FBI is currently allowed to get certain types of information with NSLs -- most commonly, information about the name, address, and call data associated with a phone number or details about a bank account. The FBI's power to issue NSLs is actually derived from the Electronic Communications Privacy Act -- a 1986 law that Congress is currently working to update to incorporate more protections for electronic communications -- not fewer. The House unanimously passed the Email Privacy Act in late April, while the Senate is due to vote on its version this week. "NSLs have a sordid history. They've been abused in a number of ways, including targeting of journalists and use to collect an essentially unbounded amount of information," Andrew Crocker, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote. One thing that makes them particularly easy to abuse is that recipients of NSLs are subject to a gag order that forbids them from revealing the letters' existence to anyone, much less the public.]

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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