Advertising

Google Display Ads Going All-HTML, Will Ban Flash In 2017 (arstechnica.com) 73

Google has announced its plan for display ads to go 100% HTML 5, in hopes of reaching the widest possible audience across screens. Starting on June 30, 2016, Google will no longer accept new Flash display ads from advertisers. And on January 2, 2017, even old Flash display ads will be blocked. This move comes as no surprise, as Google has been nudging its advertisers to stop using Flash. In fact, Google is not the only one moving away from Flash in favor of HTML. Steve Jobs hated Flash, and even Adobe itself has dropped Flash for Adobe Animate.
Advertising

Adblock Fast Returns To Google Play a Week After Being Pulled 49

An anonymous reader writes: A week ago, Google suddenly removed Adblock Fast from its Android app store. Today, the ad blocker has been reinstated, enabling Samsung users to download it once again from Google Play. Late last month, the browser preinstalled on Samsung's Android phones gained support for content-blocking plugins, and the first plugin to support the functionality was a free and open-source solution called Adblock Fast. Rocketship Apps, the maker of Adblock Fast, uploaded the Android plugin on January 29, but Google rejected an app update on February 1. The app hit Google Play's top spot for free, new productivity apps on February 2, and was pulled by Google on the same day.
Google

Google Working On Wireless Charging For Self-Driving Cars (inhabitat.com) 60

MikeChino writes: New FCC filings suggest that Google is currently installing wireless charging systems for self-driving cars at its headquarters in Mountain View. The documents suggest that the systems will be installed by Hevo Power and Momentum Dynamics. Both companies offer technology that can wirelessly charge an electric car via plates that are embedded in the ground.
Security

Researcher Finds Tens of Software Products Vulnerable To Simple Bug (softpedia.com) 151

An anonymous reader writes: There's a German security researcher that is arduously testing the installers of tens of software products to see which of them are vulnerable to basic DLL hijacking. Surprisingly, many companies are ignoring his reports. Until now, only Oracle seems to have addressed this problem in Java and VirtualBox. Here's a short (probably incomplete) list of applications that he found vulnerable to this attack: Firefox, Google Chrome, Adobe Reader, 7Zip, WinRAR, OpenOffice, VLC Media Player, Nmap, Python, TrueCrypt, and Apple iTunes. Mr. Kanthak also seems to have paid special attention to antivirus software installers. Here are some of the security products he discovered vulnerable to DLL hijacking: ZoneAlarm, Emsisoft Anti-Malware, Trend Micro, ESET NOD32, Avira, Panda Security, McAfee Security, Microsoft Security Essentials, Bitdefender, Rapid7's ScanNowUPnP, Kaspersky, and F-Secure.
Advertising

Adblock Plus Maker Seeks Deal With Ad Industry Players (yahoo.com) 354

An anonymous reader writes with Yahoo's report that the makers of Adblock Plus are "looking to reach out to advertisers and identify an 'acceptable' level and form of advertising on the net." That involves convincing advertisers to conform to the company's own guidelines for advertising, or an alternative path much disliked by some of the software's users — to pay the company to ignore ads that don't meet those guidelines. From the article: Big websites can pay a fee not to be blocked. And it is these proceeds that finance the Cologne-based company and its 49-strong workforce. While Google and Amazon have paid up, others refuse. Axel Springer, which publishers Germany's best-selling daily Bild, accuses [Adblock Plus maker] Eyeo of racketeering. "We believe Eyeo's business model is against the law," a spokesman for Springer told AFP. "Clearly, Eyeo's primary aim is to get its hands on a share of the advertising revenues." Ultimately, such practices posed a threat to the professional journalism on the web, he suggested, an argument Eyeo rejects.
Mars

NASA Is Building a Virtual Mars For VR Viewing (unrealengine.com) 37

An anonymous reader writes: NASA will release a free virtual reality program this year that will simulate exploring the surface of Mars. "Players will be able to walk on the Red Planet as well as drive the Mars Rover..." reads the official announcement at UnrealEngine.com. The Mars 2030 Experience will be available on Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and Samsung Gear VR, and will also "expand" to Sony PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, with additional versions for Android and iOS devices, and it will even be streamed on Twitch. NASA plans to reveal more details at this year's South by Southwest conference in March.
Android

Report: Google Will Go In Big For VR Hardware This Year 51

The Financial Times reports that Google isn't going to let the VR hardware wars fall to the likes of Samsung and Oculus; instead, it's working on a (cardboard-free) VR headset of its own, to be released in conjunction with Android VR software intended not only to make Android more VR friendly in general but specifically to help developers reduce nausea-inducing lag. The report doesn't quite come out of the blue, considering that Google has shipped more than 5 million of its own Cardboard viewer already, and has several projects dealing with VR infrastructure, either directly (like Jump) or indrectly (like Project Tango). Google (or Alphabet) has proven itself a hardware behemoth, not just the "search giant" it's so often called in news stories, and of late seems to be more interested in making its footprint in hardware a bit firmer.
Security

Avast SafeZone Browser Lets Attackers Access Your Filesystem (softpedia.com) 37

An anonymous reader writes: Just two days after Comodo's Chromodo browser was publicly shamed by Google Project Zero security researcher Tavis Ormandy, it's now Avast's turn to be publicly scorned for failing to provide a "secure" browser for its users. Called SafeZone, and also known as Avastium, Avast's custom browser is offered as a bundled download for all who purchase or upgrade to a paid version of Avast Antivirus 2016. This poor excuse of a browser was allowing attackers to access files on the user's filesystem just by clicking on malicious links. The browser wouldn't even have to be opened, and the malicious link could be clicked in "any" browser.
Bug

Some Reversible USB-C Cables/Adapters Could Cause Irreversible Damage 135

TheRealHocusLocus writes: Three Decembers ago I lauded the impending death of the trapezoid. Celebration of the rectangle might be premature however, because in the rush-to-market an appalling number of chargers, cables and legacy adapters have been discovered to be non-compliant. There have been performance issues with bad USB implementation all along, but now — with improved conductors USB-C offers to negotiate up to 3A in addition the 900ma base, so use of a non-compliant adapter may result in damage. Google engineer and hero Benson Leung has been waging a one-man compliance campaign of Amazon reviews to warn of dodgy devices and praise the good. Reddit user bmcclure937 offers a spreadsheet summary of the reviews. It's a jungle out there, don't get fried.
DRM

In Japan, a Battle Brewing Over the Right To Record 4k and 8k Broadcasts (itmedia.co.jp) 105

AmiMoJo writes: Japanese broadcasters have indicated that 4k and 8k broadcasts may have recording disabled via a 'do not copy' flag [via Google Translate], which receivers would be expected to obey. Now the Internet Users Association (MIAU) and Shufuren (Housewives Federation) have submitted documentation opposing the ban. The document points out that the ban will only inconvenience the majority of the general audience, while inevitably failing to prevent unauthorized copying by anyone determined to circumvent the protection.
Education

K-12 CS Framework Draft: Kids Taught To 'Protect Original Ideas' In Early Grades 132

theodp writes: Remember that Code.org and ACM-bankrolled K-12 Computer Science Education Framework that Microsoft, Google, Apple, and others were working on? Well, a draft of the framework was made available for review on Feb. 3rd, coincidentally just 3 business days after U.S. President Barack Obama and Microsoft President Brad Smith teamed up to announce the $4+ billion Computer Science for All initiative for the nation's K-12 students. "Computationally literate citizens have the responsibility to learn about, recognize, and address the personal, ethical, social, economic, and cultural contexts in which they operate," explains the section on Fostering an Inclusive Computing Culture, one of seven listed 'Core K-12 CS Practices'. "Participating in an inclusive computing culture encompasses the following: building and collaborating with diverse computational teams, involving diverse users in the design process, considering the implication of design choices on the widest set of end users, accounting for the safety and security of diverse end users, and fostering inclusive identities of computer scientists." Hey, do as they say, not as they do! Also included in the 10-page draft (pdf) is a section on Law and Ethics, which begins: "In early grades, students differentiate between responsible and irresponsible computing behaviors. Students learn that responsible behaviors can help individuals while irresponsible behaviors can hurt individuals. They examine legal and ethical considerations for obtaining and sharing information and apply those behaviors to protect original ideas."
Advertising

Samsung's AdBlock Fast Removed From the Play Store (androidheadlines.com) 166

New submitter Alexander Maxham writes with the news reported at Android Headlines that Samsung's ad-blocking Android app called AdBlock Fast "was apparently ousted from the Play Store for violating section 4.4 of the Developer Distribution Agreement, stating that an app cannot disrupt or interfere with devices, networks or other parties' apps and services. (Also noted by Engadget.)
Google

Google Targets Fake "Download" and "Play" Buttons (torrentfreak.com) 117

AmiMoJo writes: Google says it will go to war against the fake 'download' and 'play' buttons that attempt to deceive users on file-sharing and other popular sites. According to a new announcement from the company titled 'No More Deceptive Download Buttons', Google says it will expand its eight-year-old Safe Browsing initiative to target some of the problems highlighted above. 'You may have encountered social engineering in a deceptive download button, or an image ad that falsely claims your system is out of date. Today, we're expanding Safe Browsing protection to protect you from such deceptive embedded content, like social engineering ads,' the company says.
Security

Chromodo Browser Disables Key Web Security (thestack.com) 54

An anonymous reader writes: A Google Security Research update has claimed that Comodo's internet browser Chromodo, based on the open-source project Chromium, contains significant security failings and puts its users at risk. This week's Google alert suggested that the Chromodo browser – available as a standalone download, as well as part of the company's Security package – is less secure than it promises. According to analysis, the browser is disabling the Same Origin policy, hijacking DNS settings, and replacing shortcuts with Chromodo links, among other security violations.
Businesses

Magic Leap Raises $794 Million To Accelerate Adoption of Secretive AR Tech (roadtovr.com) 51

An anonymous reader writes: A massive new $794 million Series C investment in secretive AR startup Magic Leap puts the company among the world's most valuable startups, now reportedly valued at $4.5 billion. The company has aggressively teased what they believe to be revolutionary augmented reality display technology, allowing a mixture of the real and virtual dimensions in a way previously not achieved. Although they've played coy to the public, offering little more than bold claims, investors like Alibaba, Google Ventures, and Qualcomm Ventures have bought into the company's vision to the tune of $1.39 billion in total raised by Magic Leap thus far. Also at Network World, which notes that their demo must be amazing.
Data Storage

Barracuda Copy Shutting Down (barracuda.com) 52

New submitter assaf07 writes: I received a notification [Monday] that Barracuda's excellent online storage option Copy will be shuttting down in May. A blog post by Rod Matthews, VP of Storage at Barracuda gives the usual business doublespeak excuse. Having used Google's Drive, Box, Dropbox, and Spideroak, I am very disappointed to lose Copy as its native Linux, Android, IOS, and Windows clients are/were wonderful.
Google

Google To Take 'Apple-Like' Control Over Nexus Phones (droid-life.com) 180

Soulskill writes: According to a (paywalled) report in The Information, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wants the company to take greater control over development of their Nexus smartphones. When producing Nexus phones, Google has always partnered with manufacturers, like Samsung, LG, and HTC, who actually built the devices. Rather than creating a true revenue stream, Google's main goal has been to provide a reference for what Android can be like without interference from carriers and manufacturers. (For example, many users are frustrated by Samsung's TouchWiz skin, as well as the bloatware resulting from deals with carriers.

But now, Google appears to want more control. The report indicates Google wants to do a better job of competing throughout the market. They want to compete with Apple on the high end, but also seem concerned that manufacturers haven't put enough effort into quality budget phones. The article at Droid-Life argues, "We all know that Nexus phones will never be household items until Google puts some marketing dollars behind them. Will a top-to-bottom approach finally push them to do that?"

Privacy

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Reduce Information Leakage From My Personal Devices? 258

Mattcelt writes: I find that using an ad-blocking hosts file has been one of the most effective way to secure my devices against malware for the past few years. But the sheer number of constantly-shifting server DNs to block means I couldn't possibly manage such a list on my own. And finding out today that Microsoft is, once again, bollocks at privacy (no surprise there) made me think I need to add a new strategic purpose to my hosts solution — specifically, preventing my devices from 'phoning home'. Knowing that my very Operating Systems are working against me in this regard incenses me, and I want more control over who collects my data and how. Does anyone here know of a place that maintains a list of the servers to block if I don't want Google/Apple/Microsoft to receive information about my usage and habits? It likely needs to be documented so certain services can be enabled or disabled on an as-needed basis, but as a starting point, I'll gladly take a raw list for now.
Spam

Ask Slashdot: Why Are Major Companies Exiting the Spam Filtering Business? (slashdot.org) 244

broswell writes: For years we used Postini for spam filtering. Google bought Postini in 2007, operated it for 5 years and then began shutting it down. Then we moved to MX Logic. McAfee bought MX Logic, and McAfee was purchased by Intel. Now Intel is shutting down the service. Neither company chose to raise prices, or spin off the division. Anyone want to speculate on the reasons?
Security

Google Will Soon Let You Know By Default When Websites Are Unencrypted (softpedia.com) 216

An anonymous reader writes: Permanent changes are planned for future Google Chrome releases, which will add a big shiny red cross in the URL bar if the website you're accessing is not using HTTPS. Google says it is planning to add this to Chrome by the end of 2016, after one of its developers proposed the idea back in December 2014. Many have argued that the web is predominantly unencrypted, so they're displaying a persistent and ambiguous error message for a large portion of the Internet. Since unencrypted content is not an error state, the Chrome team should use alternate iconography, because the default error message this will just confuse average people, and it will encourage error blindness.

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