Court-appointed monitor in ebooks antitrust case says Apple's cooperation has sharply declined (Nate Raymond/Reuters)

TechMeme - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 5:10pm

Nate Raymond / Reuters:
Court-appointed monitor in ebooks antitrust case says Apple's cooperation has sharply declined  —  Apple cooperation with antitrust monitor down ‘sharply’: report  —  (Reuters) - Apple Inc's cooperation with a court-appointed monitor has “sharply declined” as he reviews …

Categories: Technology

What Scientists Learned Mapping a Sunken Aircraft Carrier

Wired - Top Stories - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 4:44pm

“The big interesting thing is what happens to these things on the bottom over time.”

The post What Scientists Learned Mapping a Sunken Aircraft Carrier appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

This New App Wants to Be the iTunes of Smells

Wired - Top Stories - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 4:30pm

This scent-sending phone wants to bring smell to your music, movies and books.

The post This New App Wants to Be the iTunes of Smells appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

How To Blur Your Search Tracks On Google

ReadWriteWeb - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 4:29pm

Like a lot of people, you may be vaguely uncomfortable with how much Google knows about you. It makes a great deal of money mining your search history in order to help various companies serve you targeted ads, and even though it doesn't sell your data to advertisers now, you never know if it might change its mind sometime down the road.

So what can you do about it? The Boston-based privacy company Abine has one solution. Earlier this year it launched Private Search, a service designed to shield your Google queries so the search giant can't link what you’re searching for to its increasingly detailed profile of you.

Private Search is easy to set up and use. The best part is that you don't really have to change your behavior--or even log out of YouTube and Gmail—to get it working. 

But it's not perfect. Private Search currently only works with Firefox, for instance, and it's not clear when—or if—it will ever work with other popular browsers such as Chrome. It also won't protect you on other search engines like Bing or Yahoo, although Abine says it's working on that.

You have to sign up and opt in to the service, and its protection—against a still somewhat hypothetical threat—isn't foolproof against every possible tracking technology. For instance, Private Search won't shield you from canvas fingerprinting, a tricky new user-tracking technique that's emerged over the past year at some sites (though not Google).

Why Private Search?

Perhaps in response to public pressure, Google offers users concerned about privacy various opt-out options. Users can opt out of ad preferences and disable their search history in Google's dashboard.

And so far, the search engine behemoth does not share the information it tracks with data brokers, and no data changes hands when advertisers target specific demographics using Google’s ad network. But the possibility of accidentally leaking information still exists—for example, if you create an account on a website after clicking on a targeted ad, you may be unwittingly giving demographic information to that company.

As Abine CTO Andrew Sudbury put it to me:

Your search history is part of what's being used to create a profile of you, your demographics, your propensity to buy certain types of services, and all of these data profiles are slowly and inexorably being exposed to more and more commercial uses because that's just the way the market forces are pushing them.

Additionally, mass market profiling is increasingly becoming more invasive in ways that aren’t always easy to either predict or immediately pinpoint. This isn't just an abstract threat. I spoke with Adi Kamdar, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and he described the problem eloquently:

What we've seen when it comes to data brokers is we see them targeting poor populations or certain disenfranchised populations or people who are older or more subject to falling for scams or falling for payday loans or taking financially risky investments, or something along those lines. That's the sort of population that should be most worried about this but is probably the least exposed to these sorts of tools or information about privacy tools or data brokers.

Private Search is an easy choice for your less technically-savvy friends or family members who may be more vulnerable to potential future threats, and also less likely to hear about them.

Do Not Track Me

Launched in late January, Private Search is part of Abine's freemium privacy suite Blur, which combines the company's previously separate privacy tools DoNotTrackMe and MaskMe. Blur includes tools for masking email addresses, your phone number and credit card data; blocking tracking by data miners; and managing online passwords.

The Private Search tool allows users to tap into a randomized pool of made-up identities—ones that come with prepopulated tracking cookies and user-agent strings. Cookies allow websites to track an individual's browsing activity and to identify return viewers, while user agent strings provide sites with information about your browser and operating system.

Using fake identities prevents all that from happening.

How To Blur Your Searches

After you’ve set up the Blur extension in Firefox and opted into Private Search, you're ready to go.

Private Search provides a new made-up identity for each individual search. It then funnels the request through an SSL tunnel, so that the search is encrypted—even Abine can't see what you're searching for. And every phrase or topic you search appears as if it is unconnected to previous searches, since each query is sent through Abine’s server with an entirely different IP address (which is yet another avenue by which websites can track people).

Your search requests are modified before leaving your browser in a way that breaks the identity connection between your searches and the rest of your tabs. That means you can keep your YouTube tab open with all of your videos, and stay logged into Gmail, all without allowing Google to link your search queries with your account (and identity).

One thing to look out for: Private Search will protect queries made through Firefox's search bar, but you won't necessarily know it. Sudbury told me the extension isn't currently tweaking the search-results page to include the blue-colored text that lets you know Private Search is on the case.

Other Ways To Evade The Search Police

"One of the real problems with privacy on the Web is that it's simply too hard," Sudbury says. "Companies say, ‘look, all of these controls exist, so people don't need to be protected,’ but these controls are like ridiculous. To implement them is ridiculous.”

This makes Private Search a great option for casual Web users with limited technical knowledge or a low tolerance for disabling and resetting plugins. If you're so inclined, though, there are plenty of (somewhat more cumbersome) alternatives to the Blur tool:

  1. Browsers such as DuckDuckGo or StartPage don’t track users the way that Google does, but the results provided are considerably less refined.
  2. Using a VPN offers protection from hackers at cafes, and swaps your IP address with that of your VPN’s, but it will not hide your identity from Google.
  3. Plugins such as AdBlock Plus, Privacy Badger, Ghostery, and Disconnect—as well as some of Blur's other features—can help stop some types of online tracking, though they may render some sites unusable, and they don’t block everything. These solutions work best for more sophisticated users, as it is sometimes necessary to disable the trackers in order to use specific sites.

To be clear, Private Search isn’t a solution for, say, Chinese dissidents or anyone else wanting to hide their identity from the government. In such cases, the Tor browser is a better option. Tor prevents Google (or anyone else) from knowing your IP address, it keeps no history, and it clears cookies and cache between each session. Tails is an entire operating system that operates using Tor.

But Tor is slower than other browsers due to the way it reroutes traffic to preserve anonymity. In addition, features such as video playing are disabled, certain sites have restrictions (such as captchas), and some sites even block traffic from Tor.

Google Chrome’s Incognito mode doesn't store cookies, but it also doesn't hide your IP address. Additionally, you’d need to open a new Incognito tab with a clear cache and new set of cookies for each search to avoid them being linked with one another during each session. And using Incognito mode requires you to re-enter passwords for password-protected sites for each session.

Google also recommends blocking or deleting cookies, disallowing them from certain sites, and clearing browsing data.

Lead image by ilouque

Categories: Technology

Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C.

Slashdot - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 4:24pm
mpicpp writes The Florida mail carrier accused of landing a gyrocopter outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was charged in federal court Thursday and has been barred from returning to the District of Columbia or flying any aircraft, officials said. Douglas Hughes, 61, was charged with violating aircraft registration requirements, a felony, and violating national defense airspace, a misdemeanor. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to three years in prison for the felony and one year in prison for the airspace violation. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson also barred Hughes from the District of Columbia, except for court appearances, and said he must stay away from the Capitol, White House and nearby areas while he is there. He will also have to hand over his passport.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Gadget Lab Podcast: There’s a New Mobile OS in Town

Wired - Top Stories - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 3:59pm

The hosts discuss the partnership between Microsoft and Cyanogen OS, and its implications in the mobile phone market.

The post Gadget Lab Podcast: There’s a New Mobile OS in Town appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Where to Find the Cutest, Most Amazing Animals on the Web

Wired - Top Stories - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 3:42pm

We've curated a list of some of our favorite animals scientists, writers, and photo feeds that you should follow for a daily serving of cute, with a side of knowledge.

The post Where to Find the Cutest, Most Amazing Animals on the Web appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

MakerBot Lays Off 20 Percent of Its Employees

Slashdot - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 3:42pm
Jason Koebler writes MakerBot fired roughly 20 percent of its staff Friday. Figures from 2014 placed the company's ranks at 500, meaning the cuts could equate to roughly 100 employees. The orders came from new CEO Jonathan Jaglom, Motherboard was told. Employees are apparently being led out of the company's Brooklyn office by security today. "It's about 20 percent of staff," a MakerBot representative, who asked not to be identified because she had not received approval to speak to the press, told Motherboard. "Everyone suspected that something would be coming with the new CEO, and that there would be restructuring coming."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

The FCC Should Fight for Our Right to TV White Space

Wired - Top Stories - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 3:36pm

“White spaces,” or unused radio frequencies in between TV channels, have long been eyed by technologists as perfect for connecting a sea of devices to the internet.

The post The FCC Should Fight for Our Right to TV White Space appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

MakerBot's new CEO lays off 20% of the staff, about 100 people (Jordan Pearson/Motherboard)

TechMeme - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 3:25pm

Jordan Pearson / Motherboard:
MakerBot's new CEO lays off 20% of the staff, about 100 people  —  MakerBot Just Laid Off 20 Percent of Its Staff  —  When MakerBot, the Brooklyn-based 3D printing company, became a subsidiary of 3D printing giant Stratasys, Inc. in 2013, everyone expected there would be changes.

Categories: Technology

Go See Adam Carolla’s Movie About Paul Newman and Race Cars

Wired - Top Stories - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 3:07pm

Adam Carolla has made a movie about Paul Newman's love for race cars. You probably don't want to see it, but you should.

The post Go See Adam Carolla’s Movie About Paul Newman and Race Cars appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Exploit For Crashing Minecraft Servers Made Public

Slashdot - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 3:02pm
An anonymous reader writes "After nearly two years of waiting for Mojang to fix a security vulnerability that can be used to crash Minecraft servers, programmer Ammar Askar has released a proof of concept exploit for the flaw in the hopes that this will force them to do something about it. "Mojang is no longer a small indie company making a little indie game, their software is used by thousands of servers, hundreds of thousands people play on servers running their software at any given time. They have a responsibility to fix and properly work out problems like this," he noted." Here is Askar's own post on the exploit, and his frustration with the response he's gotten to disclosing it to the developers.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology's HTTP-only login page puts millions of passwords at risk (Dan Goodin/Ars Technica)

TechMeme - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 3:00pm

Dan Goodin / Ars Technica:'s HTTP-only login page puts millions of passwords at risk  —  HTTPS error has been active for weeks, but few seem to have noticed.  —  Tens of millions of subscribers risk having their site password exposed each time they sign in because the dating site doesn't use HTTPS encryption to protect its login page.

Categories: Technology

Best TV This Week: The Avengers Play Family Feud on Kimmel

Wired - Top Stories - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 3:00pm

The big winners in TV this week were musical acts and, for the second week in a row, Game of Thrones.

The post Best TV This Week: The Avengers Play Family Feud on Kimmel appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Pebble Smartstraps Are Coming—And Here's What They Might Do

ReadWriteWeb - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 2:49pm

One of the most intriguing—yet still underappreciated—elements of Pebble's latest flagship smartwatch, the Pebble Time, was the late-breaking announcement that the gadget will support "smartstraps."

Pebble Time

Smartstraps are basically hardware extensions to the smartwatch that can augment its capabilities or provide brand-new ones. The concept is pretty simple—think of a watchband equipped with, say, GPS sensors, Wi-Fi radios, extra batteries or other sensors. These smartstraps can plug into the magnetic charging port on the back of the Pebble Time, which doubles as a data connection. 

The possibilities are limited only by makers' imaginations (and technological reality). It is, of course, still early—the Time itself doesn't ship until sometime next month—and so there are way more smartstrap ideas floating around than practical examples of the technology.

But it's a fascinating, if clearly still evolving, space. So let's see what smartstrap developers are thinking of strapping up.

What’s Up Pebble’s Sleeve

There’s one place you can be sure that will have smartstraps on offer, and that’s Pebble itself.

Eric Migicovsky Pebble credit: Pebble

“It's only been a few short weeks since we announced smartstraps, but we're pretty pumped with how it's going,” Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky told me via email. “Pebble is working on a few projects internally, but we haven't made any of them public yet.”

While he wouldn’t say for sure what Pebble has planned, Migicovsky offered up some hints:

Imagine GPS, so you could track your runs and rides without taking your phone along, or a battery strap, increasing Pebble Time's battery from seven days to…maybe a month? Then there is always the opportunity for hackers and makers to create straps that bring a special, unique sensor or functionality for a particular use case, like a certain health situation.

Migicovsky didn't elaborate on what he meant by “a certain health situation,” but it's not hard to imagine some of the possibilities. Perhaps we'll see straps that can measure a wearer's pulse, blood oxygen saturation, body temperature—pretty much the bevy of biometric readings boasted by fitness trackers. And while it may be a bit technologically trickier, a glucose reading smartstrap for diabetics isn't outside of the realm of possibility. 

Features like that could give wearers more insight into how their bodies react to exercise, or maybe if they're coming down with something. The more sophisticated the sensor, the more complicated the insights can become; it's conceivable that a smartstrap could warn a wearer about an impending heart attack. 

Xadow and Spark

To help good ideas go from concept to reality, Pebble announced a $1 million fund in March that will go towards smartstrap developers seeking crowdfunding. After a month, though, Migicovsky tells me that only one project—TimeDock, a charging cradle for the Pebble Time—has received any portion of Pebble’s smartstrap fund. Why a non-smartstrap earned some of Pebble's funding isn't clear—but, if nothing else, it seems like a nice way to charge your watch.

Independent efforts, however, appear to be moving forward. Seeed, based in China, is working on an adapter to connect its modular hardware platform, Xadow, with the Pebble Time via its smartstrap port. Xadow’s modules include barometric sensors, NFC chips, and accelerometers, among over a dozen others; determined makers could probably cobble together some interesting smartstraps with those tools.

Seeed's Xadow modular platform will be compatible with the Pebble Time via an in-development adapter.

Meanwhile, there’s also Spark, a San Francisco Internet-of-Things startup, whose staff hackers threw together a cellular connectivity smartstrap ... in an afternoon.

“When Pebble was announcing Time, they talked about their smartstraps, and we were building the Electron at the same time,” Zach Supalla, Sparks’ CEO, told me in a phone interview. The Electron is Spark’s recently Kickstarted cellular connectivity development kit, meant to help makers connect electronics to wireless networks.

“We thought, oh, this would be a really cool use case,” said Supalla. “Let’s hack together a prototype and show how a Pebble could theoretically be not tethered to a phone and connect directly to a cellular network.”

The cellular connectivity "hackstrap," made in an afternoon by Spark.

The prototype won’t be for sale from Spark anytime soon—or, really, anytime at all, since the company's main mission is creating tools for companies who are building connected products.

“Really for us, it’s about inspiring people to think about creating products like that themselves,” Supalla said. “We’d love to see somebody take the Electron, which is our development kit, and use it to create something like that as a commercial product.”

Strap Hacks

So that leaves the rest of us—non-professional makers who have big ideas. Browsing through the Pebble Smartstrap forums reveals a wealth of concepts, but only a few users who might have the technical know-how to try and get them made.

Some of the most repeated suggestions offered by the forum’s enthusiastic posters include a game controller of some kind, as well as solar energy or kinetic energy harvesters that could be used to extend the Pebble Time’s battery.

“Oh yeah, I heard about the game controller one,” Migicovsky told me. “That sounds ridiculously cool. Right now a lot of people are gaming on Pebble with apps like Pixel Miner.

Pixel Miner, a popular game for the Pebble, could get even more interesting with a smartstrap controller.

"[That] will be even cooler with a controller,” he added.

As for straps that charge the Pebble via alternative energy sources, Migicovsky said:

I'd put kinetic or other energy harvesters in the moonshot category. Hard to do right now, but worth investigating.

The Pebble Timetable

Even though the Pebble Time will hit our wrists in about a month, the wait for smartstraps will be a good deal longer—even from Pebble itself. “It will probably take 6-12 months to see more smartstraps hit the market,” Migicovsky said. “Hardware is hard!”

In the meantime, the CEO agreed that if Pebblers wanted to get smartstraps a bit earlier, a 3D printer might not be a bad investment.

That’s not a brush off for amateur hardware makers who want to jump into the smartstraps game. While not running the company, Migicovsky is getting in on the strap hacking himself.

“I'm working on a little hack to make a Geiger counter smartstrap,” he said. “I’ll let you know how it goes.”

Pebble Time and smartstrap images courtesy of Pebble; Xadow image courtesy of Seeed; Electron image courtesy of Spark; Pixel Miner image courtesy of Doctor Monolith on the Pebble App Store

Categories: Technology

Microsoft Open Technologies Is Closing: Good Or Bad News For Open Source?

Slashdot - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 2:23pm
BrianFagioli writes When Microsoft Open Technologies was founded as a subsidiary of Microsoft — under Steve Ballmer's reign — many in the open source community hailed it as a major win, and it was. Today, however, the subsidiary is shutting down and being folded into Microsoft. While some will view this as a loss for open source, I disagree; Microsoft has evolved so much under Satya Nadella, that a separate subsidiary is simply no longer needed. Microsoft could easily be the world's biggest vendor of open source software, which is probably one reason some people don't like the term.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Mark Zuckerberg Can’t Have It Both Ways on Net Neutrality

Wired - Top Stories - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 2:08pm

The question isn't whether is a threat to net neutrality. It's whether the rules of net neutrality should apply to places that have no internet access at all.

The post Mark Zuckerberg Can’t Have It Both Ways on Net Neutrality appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology