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Happy Arachtober: Spider Cthulhu

Wired - Top Stories - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 12:05pm

Hey, spiders are just trying to make a living. Sometimes in your house.

The post Happy Arachtober: Spider Cthulhu appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Cutting the Cord? Time Warner Loses 184,000 TV Subscribers In One Quarter

Slashdot - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 11:32am
Mr D from 63 (3395377) writes Time Warner Cable's results have been buoyed recently by higher subscriber numbers for broadband Internet service. In the latest period, however, Time Warner Cable lost 184,000 overall residential customer relationships [Note: non-paywalled coverage at Bloomberg and Reuters]. The addition of 92,000 residential high-speed data customers was offset by 184,000 fewer residential video customers in the quarter. Triple play customers fell by 24,000, while residential voice additions were 14,000.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

This App Uses Your Neighbors’ Phones to Find Your Lost Pet

Wired - Top Stories - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 11:00am

Pawscout's connected pet ID tag and free app will help you track down your lost pet.

The post This App Uses Your Neighbors’ Phones to Find Your Lost Pet appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Drupal Warns Users of Mass, Automated Attacks On Critical Flaw

Slashdot - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:50am
Trailrunner7 writes The maintainers of the Drupal content management system are warning users that any site owners who haven't patched a critical vulnerability in Drupal Core disclosed earlier this month should consider their sites to be compromised. The vulnerability, which became public on Oct. 15, is a SQL injection flaw in a Drupal module that's designed specifically to help prevent SQL injection attacks. Shortly after the disclosure of the vulnerability, attackers began exploiting it using automated attacks. One of the factors that makes this vulnerability so problematic is that it allows an attacker to compromise a target site without needing an account and there may be no trace of the attack afterward.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Apple CEO Tim Cook: "I'm Proud To Be Gay"

ReadWriteWeb - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:45am

Tim Cook is gay and proud of it, the Apple CEO revealed in a personal essay published Thursday by Bloomberg Businessweek. While he'd been silent on the matter of his sexual orientation for years, the CEO said he'd waited so long because he wanted to keep the focus on Apple's products, not himself.

However, Cook said he decided to speak up in order to support other gays and lesbians with less visibility. 

For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.

While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.

Cook also added, in a line showing his wit, that being gay had "given him the skin of a rhinoceros," which came in handy in his job as Apple's CEO.

Though the Apple CEO had not tweeted about the essay himself Thursday morning, "Tim Cook Speaks Up" quickly became the top trending topic on Twitter Thursday morning with many expressing support and gratitude.

Read Cook's full essay on BusinessWeek.

Photo of Tim Cook via Apple

Categories: Technology

Lenovo Completes Motorola Deal

Slashdot - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:09am
SmartAboutThings writes If somehow you missed the reports of Lenovo buying Motorola – which was also bought by Google for $12.5 billion back in 2011 – then you should know that the deal is now complete. Lenovo has announced today that Motorola is now a Lenovo company — which makes Lenovo not only the number one PC maker in the world but also the third-largest smartphone maker.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

The Invention of the Equals Sign

Wired - Top Stories - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:00am

The use of ‘=’ to mean ‘equals’ is one of those minor advances in mathematics that we take for granted. It’s so small that we don’t really think about it. But Joseph Mazur, the author of Enlightening Symbols A Short History of Mathematical Notation and Its Hidden Powers, has thought about ‘=’ as well as […]

The post The Invention of the Equals Sign appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

BlackBerry Goes Back To The Future With Its "BlackBerry Classic"

ReadWriteWeb - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:00am

To salvage its business, BlackBerry's exciting new strategy is to deliver a modern smartphone … circa 2006. It sounds like a joke, but the company's serious about its upcoming Blackberry Classic Q20, heading to the market in December.

CEO John Chen took to his company's blog on Wednesday hoping to appeal to the BlackBerry faithful. He wrote, "The things you remember about BlackBerry that made you better are better than ever with BlackBerry Classic.” They really do need to be better. A lot is riding on this calculated blast from the past. 

Next month will mark a year since Chen took the reins, and so far, BlackBerry's most notable efforts have been one weird smartphone, one luxury device and an expansion of the company’s BBM messaging platform. Beyond that, BlackBerry stays busy staving off an exodus of its business clients (with some success), while hocking its real estate holdings to fund its comeback campaign. 

See also: How BlackBerry's Focus Will Shift In 2014 After Massive Quarterly Loss

It's clear that this comeback involves BlackBerry literally coming back to what made it a household name: well-designed physical keyboards on phones that are shaped to fit inside pockets and palms. In a world obsessed with "embiggening" smartphone displays, the move seems pretty wacky.

But maybe the time-trip is not as crazy as it seems. Because making phones people want isn't actually the goal. 

Really, it's only just the beginning. 

Time Travel And (Hopefully) Resurrection

This week, Kim Kardashian went on record stating her love for BlackBerries. Chen hopes she’s not the only one. As he wrote: "Innovation is not about blowing up what works to make something new—it’s about taking what works and making it better.”

What worked for BlackBerry were phones like the Bold and Curve, with their “highly pocketable” shapes and well-designed physical keys. BlackBerry loyalists can look forward to the Q20 bringing back that renowned keyboard—not the cramped configuration jammed into the latest Passport—and the return of the trackpad, which went missing entirely on recent models. According to Chen, Classic will also come with a “bigger and sharper” display and a “growing app catalog.”

Chen's back-to-the-future spiel recalls the days when BlackBerry was the smartphone maker to beat. But the iPhone’s debut in 2007 and Android’s launch (via T-Mobile’s G1) in 2008 caught BlackBerry with its pants down.

An extended series of flops ensued—like the Storm touchscreen phone, the Playbook tablet and the Torch sliding touchscreen-keyboard hybrid. On the software side, fans had to wait nearly two years for BlackBerry's revamped QNX software, a robust Unix-based operating system intended to help the aging platform compete with Android and iOS. But by the time BlackBerry 10 finally came to smartphones (in 2013, with the Z10 and Q10), its window of opportunity had pretty much closed. 

The Z10

These flubs didn't happen under Chen's watch. (You can thank former honchos Thorsten Heins and Mike Balsillie for that.) But the current CEO still tried to explain the inexplicable: 

It’s tempting in a rapidly changing, rapidly growing mobile market to change for the sake of change—to mimic what’s trendy and match the industry-standard, kitchen-sink approach of trying to be all things to all people.

That hasn't gone too well for BlackBerry. It now trails Windows Phone, sitting at number four in the worldwide smartphone rankings. Its latest smartphone, the squared-off Passport, looks like it's catching on with at least some folks, but the gadget's gotten mixed reviews and probably won’t lift BlackBerry out of its long-running funk. 

But QNX just might. 

One If By Car, Two If By Things

During an earnings call last year, in December 2013, Chen said:

QNX is probably one of the crown jewels. Every time I come here, our partners call me and customers call me that really want to work with us on QNX.... The plan is to invest in this and grow. The plan is to go by other vertical because we are doing very well in automotive vertical, we are going to continue to focus on that, but we're going to start looking in adjacent verticals to expand the business. In addition to that, we're going to build a platform that are cloud based, that is going to be machine-to-machine based architecture.

Speaking of automotive, Google and Apple are both pursuing connected automotive systems, the former with Android Auto and the later with CarPlay. And in fact, Apple already uses QNX for its CarPlay entertainment system. Ford is reportedly considering doing the same for its Sync platform. 

QNX, which BlackBerry has owned since 2010, is especially good at securing and connecting systems to mobile gadgets. These days, pretty much everyone wants to connect all manner of things to phones—including smartwatches, smart homes, fitness gizmos, televisions and, yes, cars. ZDNet reported that as many as 40 automotive companies already work with it. 

See also: The Future Of BlackBerry Points To Software

That positions QNX as a potentially major player in the so-called “Internet of Things.” That's what BlackBerry is actually hanging its salvation on. It just needs to survive long enough to make it happen. 

Kim Kardashian—BlackBerry’s Loudest Advocate

This week, the world found out yet another Kim Kardashian "secret": She’s a BlackBerry hoarder. The reality TV star stopped by the Recode tech conference to talk about her blockbuster mobile game app, and in the process dropped some completely unrehearsed talking points about her love for—and obsession—with BlackBerry devices.

"I'm afraid it will go extinct,” the celebrity told tech journalist Kara Swisher on the Recode stage. "I'm on a mission to make that not happen.”

Kardashian probably won't actually open her diamond-studded wallet and snap up BlackBerry the company herself, even if she did joke about doing just that). But every little bit helps, especially public support from a pop culture icon and social phenomenon like Mrs. Kanye West. 

Of course, very little happens by accident in the highly managed world of social-media celebrity. Kardashian hasn't denied being a paid spokesperson for BlackBerry; instead, she gave this coy response when Swisher asked if she'd talked to the company about a paid promotional gig: "I feel like I should. I’m going to make a call after this."

BlackBerry, meanwhile, offered an equally non-denialist denial in a statement to the New York Post: "We’re thrilled to have loyal and passionate fans."

Still, if Kardashian winds up giving BlackBerry some juice—say, as a throwback trend or fad—the timing would be spot-on. BlackBerry Classic's hardware naturally differentiates it from the phablet throngs. If Kardashian or anyone else can help the phone stay in the "cool retro gadget" instead of the "sad, recycled lameness" ditch, BlackBerry could conceivably stage a revival of sorts. These phones were, after all, once status symbols.

BlackBerry doesn’t need a massive hit. It needs a product that makes enough money to buy some time, so the company can push its real initiative: that QNX platform. 

"We are committed to earning your business,” Chen blogged, "or earning it back, if that’s the case.” Of course they are. Because Classic isn’t merely an attempt by BlackBerry to relive its old glory days as a hot smartphone maker (at least not completely). It's digging up the past to lay a foundation for the future—one that goes well beyond phones. 

Photos of BlackBerry, Jessica Lange and Kim Kardashian by 1000 Words, Helga Esteb and worldswildlifewonders, respectively, for Shutterstock; product images courtesy of BlackBerry

Categories: Technology

New Crash Test Dummies Reflect Rising American Bodyweight

Slashdot - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 9:54am
Ever thought that all those crash-test dummies getting slammed around in slow-motion were reflecting an unrealistic, hard-to-achieve body image? One company is acting to change that, with some super-sized (or right-sized) dummies more in line with current American body shapes: Plymouth, Michigan-based company Humanetics said that it has been manufacturing overweight crash test dummies to reflect growing obesity trends in the U.S. Humanetics has been the pioneer in crash test dummies segment since the 1950s. But now, the company's crash test dummies are undergoing a makeover, which will represent thicker waistlines and large rear ends of Americans.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Sneaky Jays Look and Listen to Steal From Others

Wired - Top Stories - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 9:49am

In a new study, Rachael Shaw, of Victoria University of Wellington, and Nicola Clayton, of the University of Cambridge, tested whether Eurasian jays can recall and use both visual and auditory information when stealing other birds' caches.

The post Sneaky Jays Look and Listen to Steal From Others appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Nintendo Just Wants To Watch You Sleep

ReadWriteWeb - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 9:46am

Game company Nintendo has developed a fatigue and sleep deprivation sensor (via GameSpot) that functions without ever touching your body. 

Instead, Nintendo chief executive Satoru Iwata says, the sensor can be placed on a nightstand to monitor you while you sleep. Its hands-free approach to health tracking has the company calling the device the first of its kind.

These are the first details we’ve heard about Nintendo’s "quality of life" suite of products, due to be released in 2016.

See also: Nintendo’s Next Big Idea: A “Quality Of Life” Console

"Inside the QOL Sensor is a non-contact radio frequency sensor, which measures such things as the movements of your body, breathing and heartbeat, all without physically touching your body,” Iwata said, speaking to investors at the company's second-quarter earnings results briefing Thursday.

The device is able to function without physical touch because it uses radio waves to monitor a user's heart rate, movement, respiration and fatigue. Once it collects the data, it transfers it  to Nintendo’s servers for analysis.

And since this is the company that brought us Mario and Luigi, Iwata said Nintendo’s ultimate goal is to find a way to gamify sleep tracking for users.

"We expect the QOL-improving platform to provide us with new themes which we can then turn into games that operate on our future video game platforms too," Iwata said. "Once we have established such a cycle, we will see continuous positive interactions between the two platforms that enable us to make unique propositions."

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock; graphic from Nintendo (via GameSpot)

Categories: Technology

Tim Cook Tells the World ‘I’m Proud to Be Gay’

Wired - Top Stories - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 9:45am

Tim Cook has taken a major step toward breaking what many call "the glass closet," openly admitting in a new personal essay that he's "proud to be gay."

The post Tim Cook Tells the World ‘I’m Proud to Be Gay’ appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Australian Gov't Tries To Force Telcos To Store User Metadata For 2 Years

Slashdot - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 9:28am
AlbanX writes The Australian Government has introduced a bill that would require telecommunications carriers and service providers to retain the non-content data of Australian citizens for two years so it can be accessed — without a warrant- by local law enforcement agencies. Despite tabling the draft legislation into parliament, the bill doesn't actually specify the types of data the Government wants retained. The proposal has received a huge amount of criticism from the telco industry, other members of parliament and privacy groups. (The Sydney Morning Herald has some audio of discussion about the law.)

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Microsoft Unveils Health Platform And $199 Fitness Band

ReadWriteWeb - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 9:12am

Apple’s got HealthKit. Google’s got Google Fit. Now Microsoft is is entering the fitness technology ring with the just announced Microsoft Health.

The company describes Microsoft Health as a platform consisting of “a cloud service for consumers and the industry to store and combine health and fitness data.” Already, Microsoft Health is compatible with UP by Jawbone, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper.

See also: Apple's Health App Is An Embarrassment

Perhaps the most interesting part of Microsoft’s announcement is the unveiling of a new fitness wearable, the Microsoft Band, to compete with the likes of the Apple Watch. At $199, Microsoft Band went on sale Thursday at Microsoft’s physical and online stores.

Microsoft Band has 10 different sensors to track a wearer’s heart rate, calorie burn measurement, sleep tracking, and presumably seven other stats. On top of fitness, the wearable will also keep track of incoming calls, emails, and texts, plus offer access to Cortana, the Windows based virtual assistant.

See also: Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health - The 'Coke and Pepsi' of Online Health

This isn’t Microsoft’s first foray into the fitness sphere, notes Re/Code’s Ina Fried. It launched HealthVault, a fitness data storage system, back in 2007 and the platform is still active today.

“Soon, Microsoft Health will also allow you, at your choosing, to connect your Microsoft Health data to HealthVault to share with your medical provider,” the Thursday announcement said.

Photo via Microsoft.

Categories: Technology

Google Fit Has Its Own Ailments

ReadWriteWeb - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 9:00am

ReadWriteBody is an ongoing series where ReadWrite covers networked fitness and the quantified self.

Apple has some competition in the digital-fitness space, now that Google has launched Google Fit, its Android answer to the iPhone's built-in Health app.

The problem is that Apple and Google seem to be competing for who can come up with the buggiest fitness software.

See also: Apple's Health App Is An Embarrassment

This summer, both Apple and Google unveiled ways for developers to tap into sensors and connect fitness apps together to share data like steps walked, calories burned, and other measurements of activity and health.

Apple's HealthKit, as it called its software tools for developers, had a messy launch in September. Apple abruptly yanked HealthKit-compatible apps from the App Store, and took weeks to fix the bugs. After all that, Apple's Health app, which took in data from apps using HealthKit, was a screaming disappointment.

See also: Here Come Apple And Google In The Battle For Your Health

Google Fit, which is the name of both an Android app and Google's tools for fitness-app developers, looks more polished. For one thing, there's a Web version of Google Fit, a glaring omission from Apple's iPhone-only system. That means you can record fitness data on your Android smartphone or smartwatch, and then review it on a desktop or tablet—a scenario Apple doesn't currently allow.

But right now, Google Fit does very, very little. It's far from the "complete picture of [a] user's fitness" that Google promised this summer.

Unlike Apple Health, it doesn't dabble in anything medical—it's a fitness-only app. So you can record steps and exercise—but only if it's walking, running, or biking. And you can update your weight. That's it.

Many Android smartwatches now capture biological signals like heart rate. Google Fit doesn't currently display any of that data.

Unleash The Fit Apps

Neither Google Fit nor Apple Health are meant to upstage other fitness apps. But Google Fit hasn't launched with any partner apps. On the official announcement of Fit, Michelle Haq, an associate product manager, has left apologetic comments explaining that the partners Google trumpeted in its post, like Strava, Withings, and Runtastic, haven't actually introduced their Fit-compatible apps yet. (The language of the post suggested those apps were immediately available.)

Other users reported problems syncing activity data from Android Wear smartwatches to Google Fit, with some reporting losing all of their data in the process.

Yes, it's newly released software. But Google Fit has spent months in "preview" testing, and Google engineers made lofty promises about Fit's potential at the company's I/O conference.

After all this time, and all the promises Google made, Android users are owed something more than step-counting software that duplicates what they can do in apps like MyFitnessPal and Fitbit.

Lead photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Categories: Technology

Ebola Forecast: Scientists Release Updated Projections and Tracking Maps

Slashdot - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 8:46am
An anonymous reader writes Scientists of the Northeastern University, in collaboration with European scientists, developed a modeling approach aimed at assessing the progression of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and its international spread under the assumption that the outbreak continues to evolve at the current pace. They also considered the impact of travel restrictions, and concluded that such restrictions may delay by only a few weeks the risk that the outbreak extends to new countries. Instead, travel bans could hamper the delivery of medical supplies and the deployment of specialized personnel to manage the epidemic. In the group's page, there's also an updated assessment of the probability of Ebola virus disease case importation in countries across the world, which was also invoked during the Congressional Ebola debate. The group also released a map with real-time tracking of conversations about Ebola on Twitter. Policy makers and first responders are the main target audience of the tool, which is able to show a series of potential warnings and events (mostly unconfirmed) related to Ebola spreading and case importation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

What Can You Do With All That Halloween Candy?

Wired - Top Stories - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 8:31am

Could burning the calories from your Halloween candy charge your smart phone?

The post What Can You Do With All That Halloween Candy? appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

MIT Professor Advocates Ending Asteroid Redirect Mission To Fund Asteroid Survey

Slashdot - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 8:05am
MarkWhittington writes Professor Richard Binzel published a commentary in the journal Nature that called for two things. He proposed that NASA cancel the Asteroid Redirect Mission currently planned for the early 2020s. Instead, he would like the asteroid survey mandated by the George E. Brown, Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey Act of 2005, part of the 2005 NASA Authorization Act, funded at $200 million a year. Currently NASA funds the survey at $20 million a year, considered inadequate to complete the identification of 90 percent of hazardous near-Earth objects 140 meters or greater by 2020 as mandated by the law.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

20 Incredible Photos of a World Too Tiny to See

Wired - Top Stories - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 8:00am

The winner's of Nikon's annual Small World microscope photography contest this year include images of transgenic kidneys, a cricket's tongue, spider eyes, and a scarlet pimpernel. The first-place photograph was chosen out of more than 1,200 entries from 79 different countries. Rogelio Moreno, a computer programmer and self-taught microscopist from Panama, managed to capture an image of a tiny creature known as a rotifer with its mouth open.

The post 20 Incredible Photos of a World Too Tiny to See appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Why It Took 23 Years to Link Amelia Earhart’s Disappearance to This Scrap of Metal

Wired - Top Stories - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 7:00am

Researchers had tried for 23 years to connect this piece of metal to Amelia Earhart's disappearance. They finally think they've proven it was part of her plane.

The post Why It Took 23 Years to Link Amelia Earhart’s Disappearance to This Scrap of Metal appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology