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Updated: 1 hour 45 min ago

Belkin Router Owners Suffering Massive Outages

Tue, 07/10/2014 - 20:49
An anonymous reader writes: ISPs around the country are being kept busy today answering calls from frustrated customers with Belkin routers. Overnight, a firmware issue left many of the Belkin devices with no access to the customer's broadband connection. Initial speculation was that a faulty firmware upgrade caused the devices to lose connectivity, but even users with automatic updates disabled are running into trouble. The problem seems to be that the routers "occasionally ping heartbeat.belkin.com to detect network connectivity," but are suddenly unable to get a response. Belkin has acknowledged the issue and posted a workaround while they work on a fix.

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Test-Driving a $35 Firefox OS Smartphone

Tue, 07/10/2014 - 13:12
An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica got its hands on one of the extremely low-cost smart phones running Firefox OS. The Intex Cloud FX retails for about $35 in India, and its intent is to bring smartphones to people who traditionally can't afford them. So, what do you have to sacrifice to bring a smartphone's costs down that far? Well, it has a 3.5" 480x320 display, a 1Ghz A5 CPU, 128MB of RAM, and 256 MB of storage. (Those a megabytes.) There's no GPS, no notification LED, and not even 3G support. They say the build quality is as poor as you'd expect, and if you aren't at a 90 degree angle with the screen, colors are distorted. But, again: it's $35 — this is to be expected. How well does the phone work? Well, the UI works well enough, but multitasking is rough. Everything's functional, but slow, sometimes taking several seconds to register touch input. The real killer, according to the article, is the on-screen keyboard, which is unbearable. The article concludes, "Sure, we're spoiled, "rich" people compared to the target market, but it's hard to believe that this is a "best attempt" at a cheap smartphone. ... The problem is that Firefox OS just isn't the right choice of operating system for this device—it's trying to do way too much with the limited hardware. It isn't configurable enough." They say the phone doesn't even make sense for a $35 budget.

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Fixing Steam's User Rating Charts

Tue, 07/10/2014 - 03:21
lars_doucet writes: Steam's new search page lets you sort by "user rating," but the algorithm they're using is broken. For instance, a DLC pack with a single positive review appears above a major game with a 74% score and 15,000+ ratings. The current "user rating" ranking system seems to divide everything into big semantic buckets ("Overwhelmingly Positive", "Positive", "Mixed", etc.), stack those in order, then sort each bucket's contents by the total number of reviews per game. Given that Steam reviews skew massively positive, (about half are "very positive" or higher), this is virtually indistinguishable from a standard "most popular" chart. Luckily, there's a known solution to this problem — use statistical sampling to account for disparate numbers of user reviews, which gives "hidden gems" with statistically significant high positive ratings, but less popularity, a fighting chance against games that are already dominating the charts.

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A Production-Ready Flying Car Is Coming This Month

Tue, 07/10/2014 - 01:14
cartechboy writes It's 2014. Where the heck are our flying cars? We were promised flying cars. We should be living like The Jetsons, right? Well, we aren't, but we are about to take one step closer: a production-ready flying car is debuting this month. Slovakia's Aeromobil is planning to unveil its "Flying Roadster" at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna, Austria on October 29. The latest iteration is called the Aeromobil 3.0, and work on it dates back to 1990. The Aeromobil 2.5 prototype made its first flight about a year ago. The Aeromobil transforms from plane to car by folding its wings behind the cockpit. Supposedly, the Aerobmoil will fit in a standard parking spot and run on pump gas. In less than a month, our dreams could become a reality.

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Details of iOS and Android Device Encryption

Tue, 07/10/2014 - 00:33
swillden writes: There's been a lot of discussion of what, exactly, is meant by the Apple announcement about iOS8 device encryption, and the subsequent announcement by Google that Android L will enable encryption by default. Two security researchers tackled these questions in blog posts: Matthew Green tackled iOS encryption, concluding that the change really boils down to applying the existing iOS encryption methods to more data. He also reviews the iOS approach, which uses Apple's "Secure Enclave" chip as the basis for the encryption and guesses at how it is that Apple can say it's unable to decrypt the devices. He concludes, with some clarification from a commenter, that Apple really can't (unless you use a weak password which can be brute-forced, and even then it's hard). Nikolay Elenkov looks into the preview release of Android "L." He finds that not only has Google turned encryption on by default, but appears to have incorporated hardware-based security as well, to make it impossible (or at least much more difficult) to perform brute force password searches off-device.

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Google's Security Guards Are Now Officially Google Employees

Mon, 06/10/2014 - 23:09
jfruh writes People concerned about the growing gap between the rich and poor point to a common practice in Silicon Valley: going through staffing agencies for non-core jobs like janitorial and security work, leaving those workers disconnected from the company and lacking in the job security and benefits their co-workers take for granted. Google has now decided to buck the trend, bringing their security guards in-house.

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Former Department of Defense Chief Expects "30 Year War"

Mon, 06/10/2014 - 22:25
HughPickens.com writes Susan Page writes at USA Today that Leon Panetta, former head of the CIA and Secretary of the Department of Defense, says Americans should be braced for a long battle against the brutal terrorist group Islamic State that will test U.S. resolve. "I think we're looking at kind of a 30-year war," says Panetta, one that will have to extend beyond Islamic State to include emerging threats in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere. Panetta also says that decisions made by President Obama over the past three years have made that battle more difficult — an explosive assessment by a respected policymaker of the president he served. Not pushing the Iraqi government harder to allow a residual US force to remain when troops withdrew in 2011, a deal he says could have been negotiated with more effort "created a vacuum in terms of the ability of that country to better protect itself, and it's out of that vacuum that ISIS began to breed." It is no surprise to Panetta that the assessment in his new book "Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace" is drawing White House ire. "Look, I've been a guy who's always been honest," Panetta says. "I've been honest in politics, honest with the people that I deal with. I've been a straight talker. Some people like it; some people don't like it. But I wasn't going to write a book that kind of didn't express what I thought was the case."

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Study Weighs In On the Reliability of Eyewitness Testimony

Mon, 06/10/2014 - 21:41
sciencehabit writes The victim peers across the courtroom, points at a man sitting next to a defense lawyer, and confidently says, "That's him!" Such moments have a powerful sway on jurors who decide the fate of thousands of people every day in criminal cases. But how reliable is eyewitness testimony? A new report concludes that the use of eyewitness accounts need tighter control, and among its recommendations is a call for a more scientific approach to how eyewitnesses identify suspects during the classic police lineup.

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