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  • LTE Upgrade Will Let Phones Connect To Nearby Devices Without Towers

    An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from MIT's Technology Review: A new feature being added to the LTE protocol that smartphones use to communicate with cellular towers will make it possible to bypass those towers altogether. Phones will be able to "talk" directly to other mobile devices and to beacons located in shops and other businesses. Known as LTE Direct, the wireless technology has a range of up to 500 meters, far more than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It is included in update to the LTE standard slated for approval this year, and devices capable of LTE Direct could appear as soon as late 2015. ... Researchers are, for example, testing LTE Direct as a way to allow smartphones to automatically discover nearby people, businesses, and other information.

    139 comments | yesterday

  • World's Smallest 3G Module Will Connect Everything To the Internet

    jfruh writes The U-blox SARA-U260 chip module is only 16 by 26 millimeters — and it's just been certified to work with AT&T's 3G network. While consumers want 4G speeds for their browsing needs, 3G is plenty fast for the innumerable automated systems that will be necessary for the Internet of Things to work. From the article: "The U-blox SARA-U260 module, which measures 16 by 26 millimeters, can handle voice calls. But it's not designed for really small phones for tiny hands. Instead, it's meant to carry the small amounts of data that machines are sending to each other over the 'Internet of things,' where geographic coverage -- 3G's strong suit -- matters more than top speed. That means things like electric meters, fitness watches and in-car devices that insurance companies use to monitor policyholders' driving."

    116 comments | 2 days ago

  • BT and Coke To Offer Free Rural Wi-Fi In South Africa Through Vending Machines

    An anonymous reader writes "BT Global Services is installing free Wi-Fi access points in Coca-Cola vending machines in rural parts of South Africa. "South African consumers will soon be able to quench their thirst and check their e-mail at the same time. Coca-Cola and BT Global Services have announced plans to offer free Wi-Fi Internet access in impoverished communities using Coke’s vending machines. BT – formerly British Telecom – will provide connectivity, support and business training as part of the roll-out. The pilot project has been launched in the rural Eastern Cape and in rural Mpumalanga. Sites were chosen for their accessibility to local communities, the companies said."

    71 comments | 4 days ago

  • Facebook To Start Testing Internet-Beaming Drones In 2015

    Zothecula writes There was an understandable amount of skepticism when Amazon announced its grand plans for delivery drones last year. But if the last twelve months are any indication, Jeff Bezos and his fellow tech heavyweights are actually kinda serious about the potential of unmanned aerial vehicles. Speaking at the Social Good Summit in New York on Monday, engineering director at Facebook Connectivity Lab, Yael Maguire, has further detailed the company's vision of internet-carrying drones, with plans to begin testing in 2015.

    42 comments | 5 days ago

  • Popular Wi-Fi Thermostat Full of Security Holes

    Threatpost reports: Heatmiser, a U.K.-based manufacturer of digital thermostats, is contacting its customers today about a series of security issues that could expose a Wi-Fi-connected version of its product to takeover. Andrew Tierney, a "reverse-engineer by night," whose specialty is digging up bugs in embedded systems wrote on his blog, that he initially read about vulnerabilities in another one of the company's products, NetMonitor, and decided to poke around its product line further. This led him to discover a slew of issues in the company's Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats running firmware version 1.2. The issues range from simple security missteps to critical oversights.For example, when users go to connect the thermostat via a Windows utility, it uses default web credentials and PINs. ...Elsewhere, the thermostat leaks Wi-Fi credentials, like its password, username, Service Set Identifier (SSID) and so on, when its logged in. Related: O'Reilly Radar has an interesting conversation about what companies will vie for control of the internet-of-things ecosystem.

    103 comments | about a week ago

  • Why the iPhone 6 Has the Same Base Memory As the iPhone 5

    Lucas123 writes When the iPhone 5 was launched two years ago, the base $199 (with wireless plan) model came with 16GB of flash memory. Fast forward to this week when the iPhone 6 was launched with the same capacity. Now consider that the cost of 16GB of NAND flash has dropped by more than 13% over the past two years. So why would Apple increase capacity on its $299 model iPhone 6 to 64GB (eliminating the 32GB model), but but keep the 16GB in the $199 model? The answer may lie in the fact that the 16GB iPhone is, and has been, by far the best selling model. IHS analyst Fang Zhang believes Apple is using that to push users to its iCloud storage service. Others believe restricting storage capacity allows Apple to afford the new features, like NFC and biometrics.

    261 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Scientists Twist Radio Beams To Send Data At 32 Gigabits Per Second

    concertina226 writes Scientists from three international universities have succeeded in twisting radio beams in order to transfer data at the speed of 32 gigabits per second, which is 30 times faster than 4G LTE wireless technology in use today. The researchers, led by Alan Willner, an electrical engineering professor with the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, successfully demonstrated data transmission rates of 32 gigabits per second across 2.5m of free space in a basement laboratory.

    122 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Technological Solution For Texting While Driving Struggles For Traction

    An anonymous reader writes: While legislators and police try to tackle the epidemic of distracted driving through education, regulation, and enforcement, Scott Tibbitts is trying to solve it through engineering. He developed a small device which, when plugged into a vehicle, would determine which phone belonged to the driver and shut off its texting and voice call capabilities. "The telematics box sends a wireless message that the car is moving. The phone sends its own message about its location. Both sets of information — from the car and phone — are sent to Katasi's servers. Then, an algorithm weighs the incoming data with other information, like the location of the phones belonging to all the people who drive the car and the starting point of the trip; if the trip starts at Junior's high school, and mom and dad's phones are at work, the driver has been identified — Junior is driving."

    The problem is that Tibbitts can't get anyone interested in setting up a system to make these devices ubiquitous. Consumers can't be sold on such a product: all evidence suggests people are increasingly unwilling to be cut off from constant communication. So, he tried working with carriers. Sprint partnered with Tibbitts long enough to test the device, but they were afraid of the legal risks involved. Now, Tibbitts is nursing the technology along, looking for a way to get it into cars and make people safer.

    326 comments | about two weeks ago

  • iPhone 6 Sales Crush Means Late-Night Waits For Some Early Adopters

    Even after the months of hype and speculation, the behind-the-scenes development and manufacture, and then the announcement Tuesday, it seems Apple's servers weren't quite ready for the workout they got from would-be early adopters of its newest iPhone. Preorders through Verizon Wireless and AT&T largely started without a hitch at midnight, though some customers on Twitter have since complained about issues. Those problems were nothing compared to the issues experienced by Sprint and T-Mobile customers. The Sprint and T-Mobile sites were still down for many users nearly two hours after presales were slated to start. Access to Sprint's site faded in and out, while the T-Mobile site continued to display a form to register for a reminder for when the preorders began. Some people joked on Twitter that they "might as well wait for the iPhone 6S now." Apple's store itself was down for a few hours, too.

    222 comments | about three weeks ago

  • L.A. TV Stations Free Up Some Spectrum For Wireless Broadband

    alphadogg (971356) writes An effort to free up some of the airwaves used by TV broadcasts and make them available for wireless broadband took a big step forward this week in the U.S. Two TV stations in Los Angeles, KLCS and KCET, have agreed to share a single frequency to deliver their programming freeing up a channel that can be auctioned off to wireless carriers next year. The change, which the Federal Communications Commission calls "repackaging," is possible because digital TV broadcasts don't need the full 6MHz of broadcast spectrum that was used for analog TV.

    80 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Device Boots Drones, Google Glass Off Wi-Fi

    An anonymous reader writes: Amid the backlash against spy-eye drones as well as wearable cameras like Google Glass, one company is building a device to fight back. The Cyborg Unplug actively scans for drones or Google Glass on a local wireless network and blocks their traffic. They're billing it as an "anti-surveillance system" and marketing it toward businesses, restaurants, and schools. They take pains to note that it's not a jammer, instead sending copies of a de-authentication packet usually sent by a router when it disconnects a device. The device can, however, force devices to disconnect from any network, which they warn may be illegal in some places.

    184 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

    Today at Apple's September press conference, they announced the new iPhone 6 models. There are two of them — the iPhone 6 is 4.7" at 1334x750, and the iPhone 6 Plus is 5.5" at 1920x1080. Both phones are thinner than earlier models: 5S: 7.6mm, 6: 6.9mm, 6 Plus: 7.1mm. The phones have a new-generation chip, the 64-bit A8. Apple says the new phones have a 25% faster CPU, 50% faster GPU, and they're 50% more energy efficient (though they were careful to say the phones have "equal or better" battery life to the 5S). Apple upgrade the phones' wireless capabilities, moving voice calls to LTE and also enabling voice calls over Wi-Fi. The phones ship on September 19th, preceded by the release of iOS 8 on September 17th.

    Apple also announced its entry into the payments market with "Apple Pay." They're trying to replace traditional credit card payments with holding an iPhone up to a scanner instead. It uses NFC and the iPhone's TouchID fingerprint scanner. Users can take a picture of their credit cards, and Apple Pay will gather payment information, encrypt it, and store it. (Apple won't have any of the information about users' credit cards or their purchases, and users will be able to disable the payment option through Find My iPhone if they lose the device.) Apple Pay will work with Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards to start. 220,000 stores that support contactless payment will accept Apple Pay, and many apps are building direct shopping support for it. It will launch in October as an update for iOS 8, and work only on the new phones.

    Apple capped off the conference with the announcement of the long-anticipated "Apple Watch." Their approach to UI is different from most smartwatch makers: Apple has preserved the dial often found on the side of analog watches, using it as a button and an input wheel. This "digital crown" enables features like zoom without obscuring the small screen with fingers. The screen is touch-sensitive and pressure sensitive, so software can respond to a light tap differently than a hard tap. The watch runs on a new, custom-designed chip called the S1, it has sensors to detect your pulse, and it has a microphone to receive and respond to voice commands. It's powered by a connector that has no exposed contacts — it magnetically seals to watch and charges inductively. The Apple Watch requires an iPhone of the following models to work: 6, 6Plus, 5s, 5c, 5. It will be available in early 2015, and will cost $349 for a base model.

    730 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Comcast Using JavaScript Injection To Serve Ads On Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

    An anonymous reader writes: For some time now, Comcast has setting up public Wi-Fi hotspots, some of which are run on the routers of paying subscribers. The public hotspots are free, but not without cost: Comcast uses JavaScript to inject self-promotional ads into the pages served to users. "Security implications of the use of JavaScript can be debated endlessly, but it is capable of performing all manner of malicious actions, including controlling authentication cookies and redirecting where user data is submitted. ... Even if Comcast doesn't have any malicious intent, and even if hackers don't access the JavaScript, the interaction of the JavaScript with websites could "create" security vulnerabilities in websites, [EFF technologist Seth Schoen] said. "Their code, or the interaction of code with other things, could potentially create new security vulnerabilities in sites that didn't have them," Schoen said."

    230 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Post-Microsoft Nokia Offering Mapping Services To Samsung

    jfruh writes: With Nokia's Windows Phone handset line sold off to Microsoft, one of the company's remaining businesses is its Here digital mapping service. No longer feeling loyalty to Microsoft or its OS, Nokia has inked a deal with Samsung to supply Here services to both Tizen and Android devices, including the upcoming Samsung smartwatch.

    67 comments | about a month ago

  • Wi-Fi Router Attack Only Requires a Single PIN Guess

    An anonymous reader writes: New research shows that wireless routers are still quite vulnerable to attack if they don't use a good implementation of Wi-Fi Protected Setup. Bad implementations do a poor job of randomizing the key used to authenticate hardware PINs. Because of this, the new attack only requires a single guess at the hardware PIN to collect data necessary to break it. After a few hours to process the data, an attacker can access the router's WPS functionality. Two major router manufacturers are affected: Broadcom, and a manufacturer to be named once they get around to fixing it. "Because many router manufacturers use the reference software implementation as the basis for their customized router software, the problems affected the final products, Bongard said. Broadcom's reference implementation had poor randomization, while the second vendor used a special seed, or nonce, of zero, essentially eliminating any randomness."

    84 comments | about a month ago

  • How the World's Fastest Electric Car Is Pushing Wireless Charging Tech

    An anonymous reader writes With the first ever season of Formula E revving up in China next month, it's clear there's more to electric cars than Tesla. But the race cars hitting the track in Beijing don't have anything on the speed of Drayson Racing Technology's Lola B12 69/EV, which holds the record for the world's fastest lightweight electric car, and which uses the kind of power technologies that could one day have applications off the track too—like charging your phone wirelessly.

    49 comments | about a month ago

  • It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights

    An anonymous reader notes coverage of research from the University of Michigan into the ease with which attackers can hack traffic lights. From the article: As is typical in large urban areas, the traffic lights in the subject city are networked in a tree-type topology, allowing them to pass information to and receive instruction from a central management point. The network is IP-based, with all the nodes (intersections and management computers) on a single subnet. In order to save on installation costs and increase flexibility, the traffic light system uses wireless radios rather than dedicated physical networking links for its communication infrastructure—and that’s the hole the research team exploited. ... The 5.8GHz network has no password and uses no encryption; with a proper radio in hand, joining is trivial. ... The research team quickly discovered that the debug port was open on the live controllers and could directly "read and write arbitrary memory locations, kill tasks, and even reboot the device (PDF)." Debug access to the system also let the researchers look at how the controller communicates to its attached devices—the traffic lights and intersection cameras. They quickly discovered that the control system’s communication was totally non-obfuscated and easy to understand—and easy to subvert.

    144 comments | about a month ago

  • T-Mobile To Throttle Customers Who Use Unlimited LTE Data For Torrents/P2P

    New submitter User0x45 writes: Here's a nicely transparent announcement: "T-mobile has identified customers who are heavy data users and are engaged in peer-to-peer file sharing, and tethering outside of T-Mobile’s Terms and Conditions (T&C). This results in a negative data network experience for T-Mobile customers. Beginning August 17, T-Mobile will begin to address customers who are conducting activities outside of T-Mobile’s T&Cs." Obviously, it's not a good announcement for people with unlimited plans, but at least it's clear. T-mobile also pulled the backwards anti-net neutrality thing by happily announcing 'Free Streaming' from select music providers... which is, in effect, making non-select usage fee-based.

    147 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Connected Collar Lets Your Cat Do the War-Driving

    MojoKid (1002251) writes "Security researcher Gene Bransfield, with the help of his wife's grandmother's cat, decided to see how many neighborhood WiFi access points he could map and potentially compromise. With a collar loaded with a Spark chip, a Wi-Fi module, a GPS module, and a battery, Coco the cat helped Gene identify Wi-Fi networks around the neighborhood and then reported back. The goal here is obvious: Discover all of the unsecured, or at least poorly-secured, wireless access points around the neighborhood. During his journey, Coco identified dozens of Wi-Fi networks, with four of them using easily-broken WEP security, and another four that had no security at all. Gene has dubbed his collar the "WarKitteh", and it cost him less than $100 to make. He admits that such a collar isn't a security threat, but more of a goofy hack. Of course, it could be used for shadier purposes." (Here's Wired's article on the connected cat-collar.)

    110 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • FCC Mandates Text-to-911 From All US Wireless Carriers

    An anonymous reader writes "On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to require all U.S. wireless carriers and popular messaging applications to support texting to emergency response units via 911. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile implemented this capability back in 2012; the FCC's vote will make it mandatory for all carriers that operate in the country as well as all messaging applications that interconnect with the SMS structure in the U.S. to follow suit. One technological hurdle this mandate faces is the difficulty of tracing "the exact physical origin of a text message, particularly in residences with multiple floors."" Somehow I doubt that cellphone calls are consistently traceable to that degree, either, and I've lived in houses with extensions spread over several floors, too.

    80 comments | about 2 months ago

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