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Christmas Cheer

Goodbye, Alek's Internet-Controlled Christmas Lights for Celiac Research 12

Posted by timothy
from the ho-ho-ho-and-a-merry-old-hoax-except-it's-real-these-days dept.
Alek Komarnitsky, Colorado (and the Internet's) own Clark Griswold, has decided to retire as his own props master, programmer, best boy, and effects specialist. After 10 years of increasingly elaborate set-ups, Alek's decided to go out with a bang, with his largest-yet rooftop display of open-source powered, remotely controllable, internet-connected Christmas lights. (This year, he even matches the fictional Griswold's 25,000 lights, but truth tops fiction, with live webcams, animated props, and more.) We talked with Alek last year, too; but now he's got a full decade's worth of reminiscing about his jest-made-real hobby as That Guy With the Lights, and some advice for anyone who'd like to take on a project like this.

Alek has managed to stay on good terms with his neighbors, despite the car and foot traffic that his display has drawn, and kept himself from serious harm despite a complex of minor, overlapping risks including ladders, squirrels, a fair amount of electricity and (the most dangerous, he says) wind. The lights are what the world sees, but the video capture and distribution to the vast online audience is an equal part of the work. Alek has learned a lot along the way about automation, logistics, wireless networking, and the importance of load balancing. It's always possible the lights will return in some form, or that someone will take up the mantle as Blinkenlights master, but this tail end of 2014 (and the first day of 2015) is your last good chance to tune in and help toggle some of those lights. (The display operates from 1700-2200 Mountain time.) Alternate Video Link Update: 12/22 22:50 GMT by T : Note: Alek talks about the last year here.
Crime

RFID-Blocking Blazer and Jeans Could Stop Wireless Identity Theft 110

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-in dept.
An anonymous reader writes A pair of trousers and blazer have been developed by San Francisco-based clothing company Betabrand and anti-virus group Norton that are able to prevent identity theft by blocking wireless signals. The READY Active Jeans and the Work-It Blazer contain RFID-blocking fabric within the pockets' lining designed to prevent hacking through radio frequency identification (RFID) signals emitted from e-passports and contactless payment card chips. According to the clothing brand, this form of hacking is an increasing threat, with "more than 10 million identities digitally pick pocketed every year [and] 70% of all credit cards vulnerable to such attacks by 2015."
Verizon

Verizon "End-to-End" Encrypted Calling Includes Law Enforcement Backdoor 166

Posted by Soulskill
from the part-and-parcel dept.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from TechDirt: As a string of whistle blowers like former AT&T employee Mark Klein have made clear abundantly clear, the line purportedly separating intelligence operations from the nation's incumbent phone companies was all-but obliterated long ago. As such, it's relatively amusing to see Verizon announce this week that the company is offering up a new encrypted wireless voice service named Voice Cypher. Voice Cypher, Verizon states, offers "end-to-end" encryption for voice calls on iOS, Android, or BlackBerry devices equipped with a special app made by Cellcrypt.

Verizon says it's initially pitching the $45 per phone service to government agencies and corporations, but would ultimately love to offer it to consumers as a line item on your bill. Of course by "end-to-end encryption," Verizon means that the new $45 per phone service includes an embedded NSA backdoor free of charge. Apparently, in Verizon-land, "end-to-end encryption" means something entirely different than it does in the real world.
The Internet

Comcast Sued For Turning Home Wi-Fi Routers Into Public Hotspots 291

Posted by Soulskill
from the legal-hotspots dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Benny Evangelista reports at the San Francisco Chronicle that a class-action suit has been filed in District Court in San Francisco on behalf of Toyer Grear and daughter Joycelyn Harris, claiming that Comcast is "exploiting them for profit" by using their home router as part of a nationwide network of public hotspots. Comcast is trying to compete with major cell phone carriers by creating a public Xfinity WiFi Hotspot network in 19 of the country's largest cities by activating a second high-speed Internet channel broadcast from newer-model wireless gateway modems that residential customers lease from the company.

Although Comcast has said its subscribers have the right to disable the secondary signal, the suit claims the company turns the service on without permission. It also places "the costs of its national Wi-Fi network onto its customers" and quotes a test conducted by Philadelphia networking technology company Speedify that concluded the secondary Internet channel will eventually push "tens of millions of dollars per month of the electricity bills needed to run their nationwide public Wi-Fi network onto consumers." The suit also says "the data and information on a Comcast customer's network is at greater risk" because the hotspot network "allows strangers to connect to the Internet through the same wireless router used by Comcast customers."
Wireless Networking

Bluetooth Gains Direct Internet Access, Security Enhancements 47

Posted by Soulskill
from the internet-of-teeth dept.
jfruh writes: The Bluetooth spec never quite became the worldbeater it was billed as, but it's aiming to become indispensible to the Internet of Things. Updates to the spec make it possible for low-powered Bluetooth devices to gain direct access to the Internet, and, perhaps more importantly, make those devices a lot harder to hack.
Wireless Networking

A Case Against Further Government Spectrum Auctions 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the divvying-up-the-ether dept.
dkatana points out an article arguing that the governments should stop further auctions of 4G spectrum because it reduces infrastructure investment from carriers and makes net neutrality more difficult to regulate. Quoting: The FCC recently raised more than $34 billion for six blocks of airwaves, totaling 65 megahertz of the electromagnetic spectrum. This is good news for the treasury coffers, but government auctions threaten the ability of the FCC and similar agencies to manage the spectrum, impose net neutrality rules, and allow new businesses to compete.

Carriers and internet companies who won the auction might believe the spectrum is theirs to do as they please, blocking access or charging huge fees to others. Issues such as speed throttling and preferential access come to mind. If governments insist in auctions of the newly available frequencies, it could hurt the industry and potentially destroy any possibility of negotiating universal access and net neutrality.
Biotech

Nanotube Film Could Replace Defective Retinas 24

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-what-if-I-like-the-idea-of-lasers-in-my-eyes dept.
Zothecula writes: A promising new study (abstract) suggests that a wireless, light-sensitive, and flexible film could potentially form part of a prosthetic device to replace damaged or defective retinas. The film both absorbs light and stimulates neurons without being connected to any wires or external power sources, setting it apart from silicon-based devices used for the same purpose. It has so far been tested only on light-insensitive retinas from embryonic chicks, but the researchers hope to see the pioneering work soon reach real-world human application.
Medicine

How High-Tech Temporary Tattoos Will Hack Your Skin 57

Posted by samzenpus
from the wear-and-test dept.
Molly McHugh writes with this story about sensors that can be attached to temporary tattoos to monitor various medical information. "The Center for Wearable Sensors at the University of California San Diego has been experimenting with attaching sensors to temporary tattoos in order to extract data from the body. The tattoos are worn exactly as a regular temporary tattoo would be worn. The sensors simply sit atop the skin without penetrating it and interact with Bluetooth or other wireless devices with a signal in order to send the data....A biofuel battery applied as a temporary tattoo converts sweat into energy, and a startup within the center has developed a strip that extracts data from sweat to explain how your body is reacting to certain types of exercise. Amay Bandodkar, a fourth year PhD student at UCSD, explains that the sensors are programmed to react to the amount of lactate the body produces."
Networking

How the Rollout of 5G Will Change Everything 216

Posted by samzenpus
from the sliced-bread-and-this dept.
mrspoonsi writes The global race is on to develop 5G, the fifth generation of mobile network. While 5G will follow in the footsteps of 4G and 3G, this time scientists are more excited. They say 5G will be different — very different. "5G will be a dramatic overhaul and harmonization of the radio spectrum," says Prof Rahim Tafazolli who is the lead at the UK's multimillion-pound government-funded 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey. To pave the way for 5G the ITU is comprehensively restructuring the parts of the radio network used to transmit data, while allowing pre-existing communications, including 4G and 3G, to continue functioning. 5G will also run faster, a lot faster. Prof Tafazolli now believes it is possible to run a wireless data connection at an astounding 800Gbps — that's 100 times faster than current 5G testing. A speed of 800Gbps would equate to downloading 33 HD films — in a single second. Samsung hopes to launch a temporary trial 5G network in time for 2018's Winter Olympic Games.
Upgrades

Ask Slashdot: Making a 'Wife Friendly' Gaming PC? 720

Posted by timothy
from the or-any-spouse-reallly dept.
shadeshope writes Having just gotten married, I find that for some inexplicable reason my wife doesn't like my huge, noisy, 'ugly' gaming PC being in the living room. I have tried hiding it in a TV cabinet: still too noisy. I have placed it in another room and run HDMI and USB cables, but the propagation delay caused horrible tearing and lag when playing games. Have any other slashdotters encountered this problem? I don't want to buy a console (Steam sales let me game so cheaply), or mess with water cooling. Ideally I would just hide it in the attic, is there some wireless technology that would be fast enough for gaming use? I have become quite attached to 'behemoth.' I have been upgrading him for years and he is the centre of my digital life. I run plex home theatre, media centre, steam, iTunes and air server. Will I have to do my gaming in the spare room? Once I have sorted this small problem going to try and make a case for the efficacy of a projector to replace the television..... it takes up less space, motorized screen could be hidden when not in use, etc.
Cloud

Clarificiation on the IP Address Security in Dropbox Case 152

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Bennett Haselton writes A judge rules that a county has to turn over the IP addresses that were used to access a county mayor's Dropbox account, stating that there is no valid security-related reason why the IP addresses should be exempt from a public records request. I think the judge's conclusion about IP addresses was right, but the reasoning was flawed; here is a technically more correct argument that would have led to the same answer. Keep Reading to see what Bennett has to say about the case.
United Kingdom

New Snowden Docs Show GCHQ Paid Telcos For Cable Taps 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the hands-in-the-cookie-jar dept.
Advocatus Diaboli sends word of a new release of documents made available by Edward Snowden. The documents show British intelligence agency GCHQ had a deep partnership with telecommunications company Cable & Wireless (acquired later by Vodafone). The company allowed GCHQ to tap submarine cables around the world, and was paid millions of British pounds as compensation. The relationship was so extensive that a GCHQ employee was assigned to work full time at Cable & Wireless (referred to by the code name “Gerontic” in NSA documents) to manage cable-tap projects in February of 2009. By July of 2009, Cable & Wireless provided access to 29 out of the 63 cables on the list, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the data capacity available to surveillance programs. ... As of July of 2009, relationships with three telecom companies provided access to 592 10-gigabit-per-second pipes on the cables collectively and 69 10-gbps “egress” pipes through which data could be pulled back. The July 2009 documents included a shopping list for additional cable access—GCHQ sought to more than triple its reach, upping access to 1,693 10-gigabit connections and increasing egress capacity to 390. The documents revealed a much shorter list of "cables we do not currently have good access [to]."
Government

Bidding In Government Auction of Airwaves Reaches $34 Billion 85

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-money-more-spectrums dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that the 2014 wireless spectrum license auction has surpassed $34 billion. "A government auction of airwaves for use in mobile broadband has blown through presale estimates, becoming the biggest auction in the Federal Communications Commission's history and signaling that wireless companies expect demand for Internet access by smartphones to continue to soar. And it's not over yet. Companies bid more than $34 billion as of Friday afternoon for six blocks of airwaves, totaling 65 megahertz of the electromagnetic spectrum, being sold by the F.C.C. That total is more than three times the $10.5 billion reserve price that the commission put on the sale, the first offering of previously unavailable airwaves in six years."
Communications

Google's Project Loon Can Now Launch Up To 20 Balloons Per Day, Fly 10x Longer 116

Posted by timothy
from the first-they-said-you-were-crazy dept.
An anonymous reader writes Google [Thursday] shared an update from Project Loon, the company's initiative to bring high-speed Internet access to remote areas of the world via hot air balloons. Google says it now has the ability to launch up to 20 of these balloons per day. This is in part possible because the company has improved its autofill equipment to a point where it can fill a balloon in under five minutes. This is a major achievement, given that Google says filling a Project Loon balloon with enough air so that it is ready for flight is the equivalent of inflating 7,000 party balloons.
Wireless Networking

NYC To Replace Most of Its Payphones With Free Gigabit WiFi In 2015 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the gotta-head-to-the-payphone-to-torrent-something dept.
mrspoonsi writes: New York City announced today it has picked the companies that will deliver the technology behind its deployment of free, gigabit Wi-Fi to pay phone stations throughout the city. The LinkNYC stations will also include charging outlets, touchscreen displays that interface with city services, and free U.S. calling. It will be funded through advertising. Construction will begin in 2015, and officials expect up to 10,000 stations to be installed before it's done.
Communications

SatNOGS Wins the 2014 Hackaday Prize For Satellite Networked Open Ground Station 21

Posted by samzenpus
from the king-of-the-hill dept.
szczys writes SatNOGS has won the 2014 Hackaday Prize. The team of developers designed a satellite ground station which can be built with available tools, commodity parts, and modest skills. Data from each station can be shared via a networked protocol to benefit a much wider swath of humanity than one station could otherwise accomplish.
Government

Internet Voting Hack Alters PDF Ballots In Transmission 148

Posted by timothy
from the don't-let-the-nice-man-borrow-your-router dept.
msm1267 (2804139) writes Threats to the integrity of Internet voting have been a major factor in keeping the practice to a bare minimum in the United States. On the heels of the recent midterm elections, researchers at Galois, a computer science research and development firm in Portland, Ore., sent another reminder to decision makers and voters that things still aren't where they should be. Researchers Daniel M. Zimmerman and Joseph R. Kiniry published a paper called 'Modifying an Off-the-Shelf Wireless Router for PDF Ballot Tampering' that explains an attack against common home routers that would allow a hacker to intercept a PDF ballot and use another technique to modify a ballot before sending it along to an election authority. The attack relies on a hacker first replacing the embedded Linux firmware running on a home router. Once a hacker is able to sit in the traffic stream, they will be able to intercept a ballot in traffic and modify code strings representing votes and candidates within the PDF to change the submitted votes.
Security

Informational Wi-Fi Traffic As a Covert Communication Channel For Malware 16

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-in-the-air dept.
angry tapir writes A security researcher has developed a tool to demonstrate how the unauthenticated data packets in the 802.11 wireless LAN protocol can be used as a covert channel to control malware on an infected computer. From the article: "The protocol relies on clients and access points exchanging informational data packets before they authenticate or associate with each other, and this traffic is not typically monitored by network security devices. Tom Neaves, a managing consultant at Trustwave, developed a proof-of-concept tool called Smuggler that leverages these packets, known as wireless management frames, to communicate with malware."
Input Devices

Amazon's Echo: a $200, Multi-Function, Audio-Centric Device 129

Posted by timothy
from the jarvis-is-on-the-other-line-with-eliza dept.
An anonymous reader writes Amazon today quietly unveiled a new product dubbed Amazon Echo. The $200 device appears to be a voice-activated wireless speaker that can answer your questions, offer updates on what's going in the world, and of course play music. Echo is currently available for purchase via an invite-only system. If you have Amazon Prime, however, you can get it for $100. I've put in a request for one; hopefully we'll get a hands-on look at the Echo soon. It looks useful and interesting for random searches, and for controlling devices, but one small speaker (interesting driver arrangement notwithstanding) doesn't bode well for "fill[ing] any room with immersive sound," as Amazon's promo materials claim.
The Internet

LibraryBox is an Open Source Server That Runs on Low-Cost Hardware (Video) 47

Posted by Roblimo
from the share-thousands-of-books-no-matter-how-far-you-are-out-in-the-boonies dept.
The world is full of wireless servers -- or at least some of it is. There are still many places, including parts of the United States, where you can have all the laptops, smart phones, and other wireless-capable devices you want, but there's no server that caters to them. Enter LibraryBox. It's open source and it runs on a variety of low-cost, low-power hardware. The project's website calls it "portable private digital distribution."

A lot of people obviously like this project and wish it well. LibraryBox ran a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, hoping for $3000, and raised $33,119. But today's interviewee, Jason Griffey, can explain his project better than we can, so please watch the video (or read the transcript) if you want to learn more about LibraryBox -- including the story behind the project's name. (Alternate Video Link)

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

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