Geek Stuff

Deals of the Day (5-04-2016)

Liliputing -

It’s May 4th, which means a lot of people are spending their time watching Star Wars movie marathons and saying “May the 4th be with you.” It’s also a good time to score deals on Star Wars-related games, media, and other products.

Not in the mood for Star Wars? Scroll down a bit and you’ll find some great deals on phones, watches, laptops, tablets, and more.

Star Wars stuff

  • Steam Star Wars game sale – Steam
  • GOG Star Wars game sale – GOG
  • Star Wars app & game sale – Google Play
  • Star Wars graphic novel sale – Google Play
  • Amazon’s Star Wars Day deals – Amazon
  • Sphero BB-8 Droid for $123 – Amazon
  • BB-8 Sphero Droid + Milennium Falcon Bluetooth speaker for $150 – Best Buy

Smartphone and Smartwatch stuff

  • Unlocked Nextbit Robin smartphone for $299 – Amazon
  • Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch for $250 and up ($50 off) – Samsung
  • Refurb LG Watch Urbane for $140 – A4C
  • Refurb Motorola Moto 360 for $110 – Groupon
  • Refurb Pebble Time for $80 – Groupon

Samsung stuff

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 Android tablet for $299 – Amazon
  • Samsung Notebook 9 notebook with 15 inch screen, 2.9 pound body for $1099 – Amazon
  • Samsung Ativ Book 9 12″ notebook w/Core M Broadwell for $629 – B&H
  • Samsung Chromebook 3 for $179 and up – Amazon

Other stuff

  • Dell Latitude E7240 12.5″ notebook for $600 and up – Woot
  • Logitech MK270 wireless keyboard + mouse for $16 – Staples
  • Name your price for 7 “Nerd History” eBooks – StoryBundle
  • 3-months of Spotify Premium for free – Spotify (new customers only)


You can find more bargains in our daily deals section.

Continue reading Deals of the Day (5-04-2016) at Liliputing.

Half Of Teens Think They're Addicted To Their Smartphones

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: A new poll confirms just how much teens depend on their phones. Fifty percent of teens feel they are addicted to their mobile devices, according to the poll, which was conducted for Common Sense Media, a nonprofit focused on helping children, parents, teachers and policymakers negotiate media and technology. A larger number of parents, 59%, said their teens were addicted. The poll involved 1,240 interviews with parents and their children, ages 12 to 18. "Technological addiction can happen to anyone," said digital detox expert Holland Haiis. "If your teens would prefer gaming indoors, alone, as opposed to going out to the movies, meeting friends for burgers or any of the other ways that teens build camaraderie, you may have a problem."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Millions of Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail Email Accounts Being Traded in Russian Underworld

Slashdot -

Eric Auchard, reporting for Reuters (edited and condensed): Hundreds of millions of hacked usernames and passwords for email accounts and other websites are being traded in Russia's criminal underworld, a security expert told Reuters. The discovery of 272.3 million stolen accounts included a majority of users of, Russia's most popular email service, and smaller fractions of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft email users (Editor's note: the numbers are: 57M, 24M Google, 40M Yahoo, and 33M Hotmail), said Alex Holden, founder and chief information security officer of Hold Security. [...] The latest discovery came after Hold Security researchers found a young Russian hacker bragging in an online forum that he had collected and was ready to give away a far larger number of stolen credentials that ended up totaling 1.17 billion records.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft tackles VR’s limited field-of-view with “sparse peripheral displays”

Liliputing -

Strap an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or Samsung Gear VR to your face and you can peer into virtual worlds… but those worlds might look slightly claustrophobic. When we look at the real world, we have a roughly 180 degree field of view, while most virtual reality systems have fields of view closer to 110 degrees.

But Microsoft Research has a solution: sparse peripheral displays. Basically, the company has demonstrated a system for placing dozens of LEDs around the edges of the primary display to make virtual reality a little more immersive.

Continue reading Microsoft tackles VR’s limited field-of-view with “sparse peripheral displays” at Liliputing.

New Record Set for World's Cheapest Solar, Now Undercutting Coal

Slashdot -

Anna Hirtenstein, reporting for Bloomberg: Solar power set another record-low price as renewable energy developers working in the United Arab Emirates shrugged off financial turmoil in the industry to promise projects costs that undercut even coal-fired generators. Developers bid as little as 2.99 cents a kilowatt-hour to develop 800 megawatts of solar-power projects for the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, the utility for the Persian Gulf emirate. That's 15 percent lower than the previous record set in Mexico last month, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The lowest priced solar power has plunged almost 50 percent in the past year. Saudi Arabia's Acwa Power International set a record in January 2015 by offering to build a portion of the same Dubai solar park for power priced at 5.85 cents per kilowatt-hour. Records were subsequently set in Peru and Mexico before Dubai reclaimed its mantel as purveyor of the world's cheapest solar power. "This bid tells us that some bidders are willing to risk a lot for the prestige of being the cheapest solar developer," said Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at BNEF. "Nobody knows how it's meant to work."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Garmin’s latest fitness tracking watch looks like… a watch

Liliputing -

Garmin has been making activity trackers, GPS watches, and other fitness-oriented wearables for a few years. But the Garmin Vivomove may be the company’s first fitness gadget that looks more like a watch than, well, a gadget.

It’s a waterproof watch with an analog watch face, long battery life, and support for interchangeable bands. But the watch also has all the sensors you’d expect from a fitness tracker, and the ability to sync data with your smartphone.

Continue reading Garmin’s latest fitness tracking watch looks like… a watch at Liliputing.

Life's Too Short For Slow Computers

Slashdot -

Nilay Patel, the Editor-in-Chief of The Verge looks back the Apple Watch, the company's first wearable device which went on sale roughly a year ago. In the article, Patel notes that Apple Watch, a computing product, is just too slow at doing some of the most basic things such as running apps. He writes: Here's the problem with the Apple Watch: it's slow. It was slow when it was first announced, it was slow when it came out, and it stayed slow when Watch OS 2.0 arrived. When I reviewed it last year, the slowness was so immediately annoying that I got on the phone with Apple to double check their performance expectations before making "it's kind of slow" the opening of the review. [...] The grand ambition of the Apple Watch is to be a full-fledged computer on your wrist, and right now it's a very slow computer. If Apple believes the watch is indeed destined to become that computer, it needs to radically increase the raw power of the Watch's processor, while maintaining its just-almost-acceptable battery life. And it needs to do that while all of the other computers around us keep getting faster themselves.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

IBM Gives Everyone Access To Its Five-Qubit Quantum Computer

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: IBM said on Wednesday that it's giving everyone access to one of its quantum computing processors, which can be used to crunch large amounts of data. Anyone can apply through IBM Research's website to test the processor, however, IBM will determine how much access people will have to the processor depending on their technology background -- specifically how knowledgeable they are about quantum technology. With the project being "broadly accessible," IBM hopes more people will be interested in the technology, said Jerry Chow, manager of IBM's experimental quantum computing group. Users can interact with the quantum processor through the Internet, even though the chip is stored at IBM's research center in Yorktown Heights, New York, in a complex refrigeration system that keeps the chip cooled near absolute zero.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apply now for Picademy in Baltimore

Raspberry Pi -

Making computing accessible is a major part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s mission. Our low-cost, high-performance computer is just one way that we achieve that. With our Picademy program, we also train teachers so that more young people can learn about computers and how to make things with them.

Throughout 2016, we’re running a United States pilot of Picademy. Raspberry Pi Foundation’s commitment is to train 100 teachers on US soil this year and we’ve made another leap towards meeting that commitment last weekend with our second cohort, but more on that below.

In order to make Picademy more accessible for US educators, we’re happy to announce our third Picademy USA workshop, which will take place August 13 and 14 at the Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland. Applications are open now and will close in early July. Please help us spread the word. We want to hear from all of the most enthusiastic and creative educators from all disciplines—not just computing. Picademy cohorts are made up of an incredible mixture of different types of educators from different subject areas. Not only will these educators learn about digital making from the Raspberry Pi education team, but they’ll be meeting and collaborating with a group of incredibly passionate peers.

To give you an idea of the passion and enthusiasm, I want to introduce you to our second US cohort of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators. Last weekend at the Computer History Museum, they gathered from all over North America to learn the ropes of digital making with Raspberry Pi and collaborate on projects together. They knocked it out of the park.

Our superhero Raspberry Pi Certified Educators! © Douglas Fairbairn Photography / Courtesy of the Computer History Museum

Peek into the #Picademy hashtag and you’ll get a small taste of what it’s like to be a part of this program:

Abby Almerido on Twitter

Sign of transformative learning = Unquenchable thirst for more #picademy Thank you @LegoJames @MattRichardson @ben_nuttall @olsonk408

Keith Baisley on Twitter

Such a fun/engaging weekend of learning,can’t thank you all enough @LegoJames @MattRichardson @ben_nuttall @EbenUpton and others #picademy

Peter Strawn on Twitter

Home from #Picademy. What an incredible weekend. Thank you, @Raspberry_Pi. Now to reflect and put my experience into action!

Dan Blickensderfer on Twitter

Pinned. What a great community. Thanks!

Making Picademy a success takes a lot of work from many people. Thank you to: Lauren Silver, Kate McGregor, Stephanie Corrigan, and everyone at the Computer History Museum. Kevin Olson, a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator who stepped in to help facilitate the workshops. Kevin Malachowski, Ruchi Lohani, Sam Patterson, Jesse Lozano, and Eben Upton who mentored the educators. Sonia Uppal, Abhinav Mathur, and Keshav Saharia for presenting their amazing work with Raspberry Pi.

If you want to join our tribe and you can be in Baltimore on August 13th and 14th, please apply to be a part of our next Picademy in the United States! For updates on future Picademy workshops in the US, please click here to sign up for notifications.

The post Apply now for Picademy in Baltimore appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Study Suggests Free Will Is An Illusion

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader quotes a report from IFLScience: A new paper published in the journal Psychological Science has attempted to define and investigate the subject of free will. By asking participants to anticipate when they thought a specific color of circle would appear before them, something determined completely by chance, the researchers found that their predictions were more accurate when they had only a fraction of a second to guess than when they had more time. The participants subconsciously perceived the color change as it happened prior to making their mental choice, even though they always thought they made their prediction before the change occurred. They were getting the answers right because they already knew the answer. "Our minds may be rewriting history," Adam Bear, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology at Yale University and lead author of the study, said in a statement. The implication here is that when it comes to very short time scales, even before we think we've made a conscious choice, our mind has already subconsciously decided for us, and free will is more of an illusion than we think.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook Paid $10,000 To A 10-Year-Old For Hacking Instagram

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has paid $10,000 to a 10-year-old hacker who discovered how one could hack into Instagram and delete comments made by users. Speaking to local publication Iltalehti, Jani said: "I would have been able to eliminate anyone, even Justin Bieber." The Finnish hacker just became the youngest person to receive cash from Facebook for hacking its products. The previous record was set by a 13-year-old back in 2013. What's funny is Jani isn't technically old enough to sign-up and use Facebook or Instagram, as it's supposed to be restricted to those under the age of 13. Jani found he could alter code on Instagram's servers and force-delete users' posts. This was confirmed by Facebook using a test account and patched in February, Facebook told Forbes. Facebook has received more than 2,400 valid submissions and awarded upwards of $4.3 million to over 800 researchers since the bounty program launched in 2011.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Medical Errors Are Number 3 Cause of US Deaths, Researchers Say

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine says medical errors should rank as the third-leading cause of death in the United States -- and highlights how shortcomings in tracking vital statistics may hinder research and keep the problem out of the public eye. The authors, led by Johns Hopkins surgeon Dr. Martin Makary, call for changes in death certificates to better tabulate fatal lapses in care. In an open letter, they urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to immediately add medical errors to its annual list reporting the top causes of death. Based on an analysis of prior research, the Johns Hopkins study estimates that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. On the CDC's official list, that would rank just behind heart disease and cancer, which each took about 600,000 lives in 2014, and in front of respiratory disease, which caused about 150,000 deaths. Medical mistakes that can lead to death range from surgical complications that go unrecognized to mix-ups with the doses or types of medications patients receive. The study was published Tuesday in The BMJ, formerly the British Medical Journal.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ted Cruz Drops Out Of The Republican Presidential Race

Slashdot -

rmdingler writes: Ted Cruz drops out of the presidential race after losing in Indiana. Donald Trump has become the presumptive nominee before Hillary has locked things up versus Bernie. This is huge. Cruz's decision to drop out came after losing significantly to Trump in the Indiana primary. "I said I would continue on as long as there is a viable path to victory. Tonight I'm sorry to say, it appears that path has been foreclosed," Cruz told a small group of supporters Tuesday night. "Together we left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we got, but the voters chose another path." He said he would "continue to fight for liberty," but did not say whether or not he would support Trump as the nominee. The exit comes soon after he announced former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate in a desperate move to keep his candidacy afloat.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple Loses Exclusive Rights To 'iPhone' Trademark For Non-Smartphone Products In China

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader quotes a report from AppleInsider: Adding to the company's problems in the region, Apple has lost exclusivity on the use of the "iPhone" trademark in China, and must now share it with Beijing-based leather products maker Xintong Tiandi Technology, reports said on Tuesday. On March 31, the Beijing Municipal High People's Court rejected an Apple appeal of an earlier ruling, according to Quartz. Xintong Tiandi is already selling a number of "IPHONE" products, including purses, passport cases, and most notably phone cases. The company registered its trademark in China in 2007, the same year as the Apple iPhone launched in the United States. That was, however, still five years after Apple registered the iPhone name in China for computer products, something which formed the basis of a 2012 complaint to the country's trademark authorities. In 2013 the government ruled that because Apple couldn't prove the name "IPHONE" was well-known prior to Xintong Tiandi's registration, the public wouldn't link its use in a way that would harm Apple interests. In rejecting Apple's appeal, the High People's Court further noted that the company didn't sell the iPhone in mainland China until 2009. This comes after Apple reported its first earnings decline in more than a decade.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google, Fiat Chrysler Plan Partnership On Self-Driving Minivans

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: Google and Fiat Chrysler were in "late stage talks" last week about working out a partnership where the two could build some self-driving cars together. Google has the tech available -- it just needs to partner with a car manufacturer, as Google hasn't mass-produced a car before, and could use the experience. A report coming out of Bloomberg says the two companies could be putting Google's autonomous driving technology into some prototypes of the upcoming Pacifica minivan. The report says Fiat Chrysler is looking to equip their upcoming plug-in hybrid Pacifica with Google's autonomous technology. Google could still work out a deal with Ford, which was rumored a few months ago, and they have been reportedly in talks with General Motors, but the deal with Chrysler could be signed as soon as today.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ellen Pao Launches Advocacy Group To Improve Diversity In The Tech Industry

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Ellen Pao, a former Silicon Valley venture capitalist, today announced the launch of Project Include, an advocacy group aimed at improving diversity in the technology industry. The group was started by Pao and fellow female engineers and executives, including members of Slack, Pinterest, and other Bay Area VC firms. The initiative will focus on providing startups and established tech companies with information on making hiring more inclusive, improving retention, and examining bias in the workplace. Pao became embroiled in one of the most divisive debates in tech last year after suing her former employer, VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, for gender discrimination. She lost at trial and, later, stepped down from her position as interim CEO of Reddit following a severe harassment campaign. Project Include is also accepting as many as 18 startups, who can apply to receive recommendations through a program called Start-Up Include.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Slashdot Asks: What Do You Think Is The Most Influential Gadget Of All Time?

Slashdot -

TIME has published a list ranking the 50 most influential gadgets of all time, from cameras and TVs to music players, smartphones, and drones. Can you guess what was the number one most influential gadget on the list? That's right, the Apple iPhone. "Apple was the first company to put a truly powerful computer in the pockets of millions when it launched the iPhone in 2007," according to TIME. "The iPhone popularized the mobile app, forever changing how we communicate, play games, shop, work, and complete many everyday tasks." There's a lot of interesting gadgets on the list that have had a profound impact on mankind in some form or another, for better or worse. Do you agree with TIME's number one choice? What do you think is the most influential gadget of all time?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

76% Of Netflix Subscribers Think Netflix Can Replace Traditional TV

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: It turns out plenty of people think Netflix is ready to replace their traditional TV. According to a survey on AllFlicks (Editor's note: the site is Netflix focused, so it's not really a neutral audience), 75.6 percent of Netflix subscribers said that the on-demand movies and TV shows streaming service has grown good enough to replace whatever the traditional TV has to offer. The participants, however, also noted that the streaming service still can't replace live sports coverage or the experience of the movie theater. In some other news, Netflix knows which picture and video you're likely to click.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Forced Arbitration Is a Bad Deal

EFF's Deeplinks -

Justice for Telecommunications Consumers Act Would Thwart Unfair Arbitration Clauses

What are you really agreeing to when you select “I agree” on a click-through contract? Whether you know it or not, you’re often agreeing to waive a host of fundamental rights. Want to buy a new mobile device? Click on an agreement that says you won’t modify the software on it. Going to the dentist? Sign a contract waiving your right to leave negative reviews online.

While these contracts are unfair to customers in virtually any context, they’re particularly appalling when we’re talking about basic needs like Internet access. You shouldn’t have to waive your rights just to get online, but virtually every telecommunications provider includes a clause in its customer agreement forbidding you from exercising one of the most basic constitutional rights: the right to take them to court.

There’s a new bill in Congress that would help. Under the Justice for Telecommunications Consumers Act of 2016 (S. 2897), telecom providers would not be able to take away your right to sue them when they do something wrong. S. 2897 was introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Al Franken, and EFF joins a wide range of consumer rights organizations in supporting it (download the bill as a PDF).

We hope that Congress passes the bill and that it represents just the first step toward protecting consumers’ rights from unfair, one-sided contracts.

Tell the Senate: fight forced arbitation.

A Well-Intentioned Law That Went Bad

Specifically, the bill deals with forced arbitration clauses in customer agreements, clauses that require parties to resolve any legal disputes outside of the courts through an agreed-upon arbitration system. Arbitration clauses are nothing new—Congress recognized their validity in the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act, but that was long before the rise of the click-through agreement. In the 1920s, most arbitration clauses were primarily used in agreements between companies—agreements where both parties had some bargaining power and the ability to use it. That meant that arbitration clauses were usually negotiated and agreed upon by all parties in a contract. They were—and still are, in some cases—seen as a mutually beneficial arrangement, a way to avoid expensive litigation.

The situation is very different with today’s proliferation of one-sided contracts. One party sets the terms and the other has only two choices: agree or take a hike. You have no meaningful opportunity to negotiate the terms of your contract with Verizon. Your only real option is not to sign the contract—and every major mobile carrier in the U.S. has a similar clause.

Since the 1980s, a string of Supreme Court rulings have made arbitration clauses an increasingly attractive way for companies to keep their customers from suing them. The Court has said that companies can use such clauses to avoid being sued in state as well as federal courts, and to avoid class action suits. It has also held that an arbitrator’s decision is binding even if the arbitrator made obvious factual errors (Consumerist’s Chris Moran has written an excellent summary of the Arbitration Act’s judicial history).

For most customers, trading litigation for arbitration is a bad deal. When the customer has no negotiating power, arbitration is inherently biased in favor of the vendor. The arbitrators are ultimately accountable to their own customers: the telecom companies that send them business.

Furthermore, arbitration doesn’t offer the protections for disadvantaged players that are built into civil litigation. For example, wronged customers can’t share the cost of arbitration the way they can in a class action lawsuit. And since any damages award to an individual customer is likely to be small (with an equally small percentage going to the lawyer who represents her), most lawyers can’t afford to  take on a customer’s case if she can’t pay upfront.

All of those problems with arbitration can possibly be minimized when both parties have negotiating leverage. But let’s be honest: in your relationship with your mobile phone provider, it has all the power.

Forced Arbitration Weakens the Open Internet

Forced arbitration is particularly detrimental in the telecom industry because it makes it harder for customers themselves to hold their providers accountable if they violate net neutrality principles. Taking the possibility of civil litigation off of the table removes a big incentive for companies to follow the rules.

Just a few weeks ago, a court just threw out a class action case that California customers had brought against AT&T. The customers alleged that AT&T had been throttling customers’ data speeds after they’d reached an arbitrary monthly limit, even though AT&T advertised its data as unlimited. The court said that thanks to the arbitration clause, the customers had no right to sue.

Not only is forced arbitration stacked against the customer; it also almost always happens in secret. That means that for organizations like EFF trying to defend an open Internet, there’s no way to even track those disputes, let alone influence them.

We Can Fight Forced Arbitration in 2016

The Justice for Telecommunications Consumers Act would invalidate any forced arbitration clause in a customer contract for telecommunications services—including mobile phone, cable television, and Internet. Although those services are some of the worst abusers, they’re by no means the only companies that abuse arbitration clauses. Public Citizen maintains a list of major companies with forced arbitration clauses. It includes every major telecom provider, virtually every major bank, and many of the online services we all use every day. Though telecom is a great place to start, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

Fortunately, more sweeping changes might be on the horizon. There’s another bill in the Senate (S. 2506, the Restoring Statutory Rights and Interests of the States Act of 2016) that would affirm consumers’ right to bring actions against vendors resulting from those vendors breaking state or federal law, regardless of what the arbitration clause says.

There’s some long-needed action in the Executive Branch to fight forced arbitration too. The Department of Education recently proposed a rule change that would defang arbitration clauses in for-profit colleges’ contracts. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is expected to release a similar proposal this month affecting banks’ contracts.

But back to the bill in the Senate. The only way that lawmakers will move on forced arbitration is if we show them that we fully stand behind them on it. That’s why we encourage you to write your senator and tell them not only to support this bill, but also to cosponsor it now.

The sticker price for telecom services should be enough; we shouldn’t be required to hand over our rights too.

Tell the Senate: fight forced arbitation.

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