Privacy

Sniffing and Tracking Wearable Tech and Smartphones 46

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-follow-you-with dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Senior researcher Scott Lester at Context Information Security has shown how someone can easily monitor and record Bluetooth Low Energy signals transmitted by many mobile phones, fitness monitors, and iBeacons. The findings have raised concerns about the privacy and confidentiality wearable devices may provide. “Many people wearing fitness devices don’t realize that they are broadcasting constantly and that these broadcasts can often be attributed to a unique device,” said Scott says. “Using cheap hardware or a smartphone, it could be possible to identify and locate a particular device – that may belong to a celebrity, politician or senior business executive – within 100 meters in the open air. This information could be used for social engineering as part of a planned cyber attack or for physical crime by knowing peoples’ movements.” The researchers have even developed an Android app that scans, detects and logs wearable devices.
Programming

Google's Diversity Chief: Mamas Don't Let Their Baby Girls Grow Up To Be Coders 318

Posted by samzenpus
from the starts-at-home dept.
theodp writes: Explaining the reasons for its less-than-diverse tech workforce, Google fingered bad parenting for its lack of women techies. From the interview with Google Director of Diversity and Inclusion Nancy Lee: "Q. What explains the drop [since 1984] in women studying computer science? A. We commissioned original research that revealed it's primarily parents' encouragement, and perception and access. Parents don't see their young girls as wanting to pursue computer science and don't steer them in that direction. There's this perception that coding and computer science is ... a 'brogrammer' culture for boys, for games, for competition. There hasn't been enough emphasis on the power computing has in achieving social impact. That's what girls are interested in. They want to do things that matter." While scant on details, the Google study's charts appear to show that, overall, fathers encourage young women to study CS more than mothers. Google feels that reeducation is necessary. "Outreach programs," advises Google, "should include a parent education component, so that parents learn how to actively encourage their daughters."
Education

Google and Gates-Backed Khan Academy Introduces "Grit"-Based Classroom Funding 111

Posted by samzenpus
from the effort-counts dept.
theodp writes: Their intentions are no doubt good, but some will be troubled by Google and Khan Academy's recently-concluded LearnStorm initiative, which pitted kids-against-kids, schools-against-schools, and cities-against-cities in a 3-month learning challenge for prizes based not only on students' mastery of math skills on Khan Academy, but also their perceived 'hustle' (aka 'grit'). "Points are earned by mastering math skills and also for taking on challenging new concepts and persevering," explained a Khan Academy FAQ. A blog entry further explained, "They've earned points and prizes not only for mastering math skills but also for showing 'hustle,' a metric we created to measure grit, perseverance, and growth. They competed over 200,000 hours of learning and 13.6 million standards-aligned math problems. In addition, thanks to the generosity of Google.org, DonorsChoose.org, and Comcast's Internet Essentials, 34 underserved schools unlocked new devices for their classrooms and free home internet service for eligible families, increasing student access to online learning tools like Khan Academy." Apparently funded by a $2 million Google grant, the Google, Khan Academy, and DonorsChoose grit-based classroom funding comes on the heels of the same organizations' gender-based classroom funding initiative. Supported by some of the world's wealthiest individuals and corporations, Khan Academy's Board members include a Google Board member (Diane Green), spouse of a Google Board member (Ann Doerr), and the Managing Partner of Bill Gates' bgC3 (Larry Cohen); former Board members include Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.
Businesses

Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK 238

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-kind-of-them dept.
Mark Wilson sends word that Amazon will begin paying corporate taxes on profits made in the UK. The company had previously been recording most of its UK sales as being in Luxembourg, which let them avoid the higher taxes in the UK. But at the end of last year, UK regulators decided they were losing too much tax revenue because of this practice, so they began implementing legislation that would impose a 25% tax on corporations routing their profits elsewhere. Amazon is the first large corporation to make the change, and it's expected to put pressure on Google, Microsoft, Apple, and others to do the same.
Operating Systems

Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things 222

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-run-on-your-brilloPad dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new report from The Information (paywalled) says Google is working on an operating system called "Brillo" that would be a platform for Internet-of-things devices. It's supposedly a lightweight version of Android, capable of running on devices with extremely limited hardware — as little as 32 MB of RAM, for example. The company is expected to launch the code for Brillo at its I/O event next week. This is particularly relevant now that Google has acquired Nest, Dropcam, and Revolv — a trio of "smart home" companies whose devices could potentially by unified by Brillo.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Can SaaS Be Both Open Source and Economically Viable? 48

Posted by timothy
from the no-that-is-impossible dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The CTO behind Lucidchart, an online diagramming app, recently cited the open source rbush project as an invaluable tool for helping implement an "in-memory spatial index" that "increased spatial search performance by a factor of over 1,000 for large documents." My question is this: what risks does a SaaS company like Lucidchart face in making most of their own code public, like Google's recent move with Chrome for Android, and what benefits might be gained by doing so? Wouldn't sharing the code just generate more users and interest? Even if competitors did copy it, they'd always be a step behind the latest developments.
Google

Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear 100

Posted by timothy
from the teddy-ruxpin-pinned-it-on-the-one-armed-man dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Time Magazine reports that Google has designed and patented an "anthropomorphic device" that could take the form of a "doll or toy" and interact both with people as well as tech gadgets echoing the "super toy" teddy bear featured in Stephen Spielberg's 2001 movie AI. This could be one of Google's creepiest patents yet — especially if movies like "Chuckie" still give you nightmares. The patent filing diagrams a stuffed teddy bear and a bunny rabbit outfitted with microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet. If it senses you're looking at it, the fuzzy toy will rotate its head and look back at you. Once it receives and recognizes a voice command prompt, you can then tell it to control media devices in your home (e.g. turn on your music or TV). According to the patent filing: "To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head, and/or focus its gaze on the user or object of its interest. To express curiosity, an anthropomorphic device may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm. To express boredom, an anthropomorphic device may defocus its gaze, direct its gaze in a downward fashion, tap its foot, and/or close its eyes. To express surprise, an anthropomorphic device may make a sudden movement, sit or stand up straight, and/or dilate its pupils."

The patent adds that making the device look "cute" should encourage even the youngest members of a family to interact with it. But Mikhail Avady, from SmartUp, said he thought it belonged in "a horror film", and the campaign group Big Brother Watch has also expressed dismay. "When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line," says Avady. "Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy."
Chrome

Chrome For Android Is Now Almost Entirely Open Source 51

Posted by Soulskill
from the strong-work dept.
jones_supa writes: After lots of work by Chrome for Android team and a huge change, Chrome for Android is now almost entirely open source, a Google engineer announced in Reddit. Over 100,000 lines of code, including Chrome's entire user interface layer, has been made public, allowing anyone with the inclination to do so to look at, modify, and build the browser from source. Licensing restrictions prevent certain media codecs, plugins and Google service features form being included, hence the "almost." This is on par with the open source Chromium browser that is available on the desktop.
Google

NSA Planned To Hijack Google App Store To Hack Smartphones 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes: A newly released top secret document reveals that the NSA planned to hijack Google and Samsung app stores to plant spying software on smartphones. The report on the surveillance project, dubbed "IRRITANT HORN," shows the U.S. and its "Five Eyes" alliance: Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, were looking at ways to hack smartphones and spy on users. According to The Intercept: "The top-secret document, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was published Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept. The document outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were working on during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012."
Chrome

New Chrome Extension Uses Sound To Share URLs Between Devices 77

Posted by samzenpus
from the sound-of-malware dept.
itwbennett writes: Google Tone is an experimental feature that could be used to easily and instantly share browser pages, search results, videos and other pages among devices, according to Google Research. "The initial prototype used an efficient audio transmission scheme that sounded terrible, so we played it beyond the range of human hearing," researcher Alex Kauffmann and software engineer Boris Smus wrote in a post on the Google Research blog.
Firefox

Adblock Plus Launches Adblock Browser: a Fork of Firefox For Android 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the unblocking-the-blocked-blocker dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Adblock Plus has launched Adblock Browser for Android. Currently in beta, the company's first browser was created by taking the open source Firefox for Android and including Adblock Plus out-of-the-box. The Firefox Sync functionality is disabled, as is the ability to use other addons. "Adblock Plus for Android got kicked out of Google Play along with other ad blocking apps in March 2013, because Google’s developer distribution agreement states apps cannot interfere with the functionality of other apps. Williams thus believes Adblock Browser “should be fine” as it only blocks ads that are shown as you browse the Web."
Education

AP Computer Science Education Scalability: Advantage, Rupert Murdoch? 47

Posted by Soulskill
from the teaching-the-next-generation-of-voicemail-hackers dept.
theodp writes: Code.org's AP Computer Science offering won't be going mainstream until the 2016-2017 school year. In the meantime, NewsWorks' Avi Wolfman-Arent reports that Rupert Murdoch's Amplify MOOC just wrapped up its second year of offering AP Computer Science A. And unlike Microsoft TEALS, Google CS First, and Code.org — programs constrained by the number of volunteers, teacher and classroom availability, professional development requirements, and money — Murdoch's AP CS MOOC holds the promise of open-access, unlimited-enrollment, learn-anywhere-and-anytime classes, a la Coursera, Udacity and EdX. So, did Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and their leaders place a $30 million bet on the wrong horse when it comes to AP Computer Science scalability? And, even if they've got a more scalable model, will Murdoch's Amplify and schools be willing to deal with higher MOOC failure rates, and allow large numbers of students to try — and possibly drop or fail — AP CS without economic or academic consequences?
Twitter

Tweets To Appear In Google Search Results 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the social-Social-SOCIAL! dept.
mpicpp writes with news that Google will now begin showing tweets alongside search results. Mobile users searching via the Android/iOS apps or through the browser will start seeing the tweets immediately, while the desktop version is "coming shortly." The tweets will only be available for the searches in English to start, but Twitter says they'll be adding more languages soon.
Cloud

Google Offers Cheap Cloud Computing For Low-Priority Tasks 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the guaranteed-7-7s-of-uptime dept.
jfruh writes: Much of the history of computing products and services involves getting people desperate for better performance and faster results to pay a premium to get what they want. But Google has a new beta service that's going in the other direction — offering cheap cloud computing services for customers who don't mind waiting. Jobs like data analytics, genomics, and simulation and modeling can require lots of computational power, but they can run periodically, can be interrupted, and can even keep going if one or more nodes they're using goes offline.
Software

Software Glitch Caused Crash of Airbus A400M Military Transport Aircraft 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the complexity-breeds-failures dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A software glitch caused the crash of an Airbus A400M military transport aircraft, claims German newspaper Der Spiegel (Google translation). The accident, which happened in Seville on the vehicle's first production test flight on 9 May, killed four crew members. Airbus is investigating the system controlling the aircraft's engines. The early suspicions are that it was an installation problem, rather than a design problem.
Books

Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq 263

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes: The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting random typewriter keys for an infinite amount of time will eventually be able to create the complete works of Shakespeare. Various scientists such as Nobel laureate Arno Penzias have shown how the theorem is mathematically impossible. Using that metaphor, if you took every member of United States Congress and House of Representatives and wrote their collected wisdom on Iraq, it's unlikely they could equal the astuteness of even a single chapter of author Malcolm W. Nance in The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency 2003-2014. It's Nance's overwhelming real-world experiential knowledge of the subject, language, culture, tribal affiliations and more which make this the overwhelming definitive book on the subject. Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
Businesses

Apple Acquires GPS Start-Up 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can't-get-there-from-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Apple is still sprinting to catch up with Google with its navigation software — the company just acquired Coherent Navigation, a startup focused on GPS tech. Its navigation services are reportedly more precise than most commercial-grade systems. Their system "combines signals from the traditional mid-earth orbit GPS satellites with those from the low-earth satellites of voice and data provider Iridium to offer greater accuracy and precision, higher signal integrity, and greater jam resistance." They've already worked with Boeing and the U.S. Department of Defense. Apple didn't disclose the terms of the deal or explain any specific plans for the GPS technology.
Transportation

The Auto Industry May Mimic the 1980s PC Industry 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the as-long-as-my-car-gets-a-turbo-button-i'm-ok-with-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An article at TechCrunch looks at some interesting parallels between the current automobile industry and the PC industry of the 1980s. IBM was dominant in 1985, employing four times as many people as its nearest competitor. But as soon as Windows was released, the platform became more important for most end users than the manufacturer. Over the next decade, IBM lost its throne. In 2015, we're on the cusp of a similar change: the computerized car. Automakers, though large and well-established, haven't put much effort into building the platform on which their cars run. Meanwhile, Google's Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are constantly improving. As soon as those hit a breakthrough point where it's more important for a customer to have the platform than the manufacturer's logo on the side, the industry is likely to resemble a replay of the PC industry in the 1980s.
Google

Report: Google To Add 'Buy' Buttons To Mobile Search Results 35

Posted by Soulskill
from the consume-consume-consume dept.
An anonymous reader writes: According to a (paywalled) report in the Wall Street Journal, Google is stepping up its efforts to take some of the online marketspace away from Amazon and eBay. Soon, the company will start showing "buy" buttons alongside sponsored search results on mobile devices. So, for example, if you search for a particular pair of pants, and one of the top sponsored results is from Macy's, then Macy's can pay Google to slap a big "buy" button right there that will take you directly to a product page where you can pick sizes and shipping options before checking out. Google won't be selling the products, but they will be hosting the product pages — "a major and potentially risky strategy shift that will turn the company into more of an online transactional business, rather than simply a provider of links to information elsewhere on the Internet." The report says Google will be trying to streamline the purchasing process by taking the payment from the customer and then passing it on to the retailer, so users only need to input their credit card details once.
Advertising

European Telecoms May Block Mobile Ads, Spelling Trouble For Google 198

Posted by timothy
from the scrabble-will-still-show-their-ads-to-me-I-bet dept.
Mark Wilson has news that may have a big impact on both advertisers and end-users who use their phones as portals to ad-supported websites. Several European telecom providers are apparently planning to use ad-blocking software at the data-center level, which would mean benefit for users (in the form of less obnoxious advertising, and less data being eaten by it) but quite a pickle for online advertisers, and sites that rely on advertising revenue. From BetaNews's article (based on this Financial Times article, paywalled): Talking to the Financial Times, one wireless carrier said that the software had been installed at its data centers and could be enabled by the end of the year. With the potential to automatically block most ads on web pages and within apps, the repercussion of the ad boycott could be huge as mobile providers try to wrestle control from the likes of Google. I just wish my mobile provider would start testing this out, too.