Taco Cowboy (5327) links to a report from Reuters that says "Washington is considering using visa restrictions to prevent Chinese nationals from attending popular summer hacking conferences in Las Vegas as part of a broader effort to curb Chinese cyber espionage, a senior administration official said Saturday. The official said that Washington could use such visa restrictions and other measures to keep Chinese from attending the August Def Con and Black Hat events to maintain pressure on China after the United States this week charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into U.S. companies to steal trade secrets."
TechCrunch's video introduction (not intended as a full review) to the recently introduced Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has mostly good things to say about the device. Reviewer Alex Wilhelm compares it to his MacBook Air, and though he's not sure that the Surface is a better fit for all-day typing than the 11" Air (slightly larger, slightly heavier than the Surface), he says the Surface does a good job of integrating input options (both finger and stylus input) that the Air -- and most laptops -- just don't have. The Washington Post's Hayley Tsukayama also compares the Surface to the Air, rather than to an Android or Apple tablet, writing, "It's heavy for a tablet, sure, but light for a laptop at 1.7 pounds. And while it doesn't have the array of ports that laptops do, you can make do with the two that it does have, a mini-display port that's good for presentations and a USB 3.0 that's good for, well, everything else. You will probably need a hub to get everything you want of this, though. (Or you could go to using Bluetooth accessories, which the Surface Pro 3 will also support.)" Ars Technica has an informative hands-on review as well, but one which parts from these by emphatically describing the Surface as a tablet, not a laptop; Ars reviewer Peter Bright gives high marks for many aspects of the design and materials, though he says his experience with the included pressure-sensitive pen was "problematic." (His initial sample pen had to be replaced, and even when it did work, it lacks tilt sensing.) Troubling for anyone who would prefer to use it as a laptop, Bright says the Surface 3 is better than its forebears but still an awkward fit for using on an actual lap, and that despite the improvements Microsoft's made it therefore isn't quite the system he's looking for.
The FCC's plan to use fees collected from big telecom companies to expand Internet infrastructure in rural parts of the U.S. was given a green light yesterday in Denver, by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Those telecoms maintained that the FCC's mandate did not extend to using the money to pay for Internet service, but a three-judge panel dismissed their challenge. From The Verge: "The FCC originally pitched the program as part of the Universal Service Fund in 2011, noting in a report a year earlier that approximately 14 million people did not have access to broadband. The Connect America Fund aimed to use a portion of customer bills in other areas of the country to build out broadband infrastructure, including cellular data networks in those areas. That would begin with $300 million at the start, and up to $500 million as part of an annual budget."
As reported by the (variably paywalled) Wall Street Journal, Cox Communications is joining AT&T (and, of course, Google) in building out more gigabit connections to U.S. households. The company "became the biggest U.S. cable operator to commit to rolling out a gigabit-speed broadband offering to all its residential customers, starting this year, the latest sign that the push for ultrafast broadband speeds sparked by Google Inc. is gaining traction throughout the industry. ... [Cox president Pat Esser] said Cox's plan isn't contingent on whether towns and cities offer any sweeteners to Cox to make the rollout easier. Two years ago, Google's ability to get discounted and free services from Kansas City as it constructed its fiber service raised the hackles of local incumbent operators, including Time Warner Cable and AT&T. AT&T has indicated it is interested in getting similar concessions from towns as it rolls out its gigabit speeds." After the three Western and Mid-Western initial cities (Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Omaha) next year, other cities served by Cox should start getting the speed upgrades in 2016. (Similar but briefer story at Light Reading.)
New submitter perplexing.reader (2241844) writes "Microsoft is paying Brazilian users US$2 in Skype vouchers to set Bing as their default search engine and MSN as their default home page. Translated from the site: 'Make MSN your homepage and Bing your default search engine and earn up to 60 minutes of calls to mobiles and landlines in Skype.' ... The Rules: 'After receiving the voucher, this should be used until July 31, 2014. Once on Skype, the credits do not expire. The minutes are based on a rate of $ 0.023 per minute, but the number of minutes may vary depending on the destination of the call and the number of calls you make. The current value of the voucher is $2.00. [One claimed], the voucher will appear in your Skype account." (For those outside Brazil, the page brings up a message that translates to "Sorry, this promotion is not
available for your country.")
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The two volcanoes long thought to have formed the Hawaiian island of Oahu had a head start: They grew on top of an older volcano that's now submerged northwest of the island and partially covered by it, new research suggests. Tests indicate that the long-lost peak—now dubbed Kaena volcano—grew from the sea floor and broke through the ocean's surface about 3.5 million years ago, eventually reaching a height of about 1000 meters above sea level before it began sinking back into the sea. At its largest, ancient Oahu would have measured about 1900 square kilometers (about 20% larger than modern-day Oahu) or larger. Over the course of its lifetime, Kaena volcano spilled between 20,000 and 27,000 cubic kilometers of molten rock, the researchers estimate. When Kaena volcano became largely extinct isn't clear."
Iddo Genuth (903542) writes "Forget about 4K displays, are Ultra Widescreen 'cinematic' displays the real deal? Earlier this year LG announced its new 34UM95 – a 34-inch Ultra Widescreen monitor with a cinematic 21:9 aspect ratio and a generous 3440 x1440 resolution — a recent hands-on review suggests that this monitor might be the new productivity king, for those who simply can't stand that annoying bezel between their multiple monitors. Linus Sebastian had a chance to play with the new LG 34UM95, and although he seems to start as a skeptic (after all, how really useful can a 21:9 display be right?) he ended up his review fully converted, with no going back. We still think that pro graphic users will not rush to switch over their EIZOs and NECs for this baby, but video editors, gamers, programmers and basically anybody who loves multitasking, might be very tempted — what do you think?"
An anonymous reader writes "Has anyone else noticed the trend towards 'community forums' where customers are basically being recruited to solve the issues of other customers while the companies selling the products causing the issues sit back and take a passive role in the process? Granted, sometimes the companies' employees play an active part in the forums and provide some value-add by contributing crucial, and often undocumented, knowledge that solves the problem in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case, and this leaves customers with no visibility into whether or not their problems are being addressed, and, if they are, when they might expect to receive assistance. This is bad enough when dealing with consumer electronics that cost up to a couple of hundred of dollars, but it's completely unacceptable when dealing with proprietary design tool vendors that are charging several thousand dollars for software licenses for tools that are the only option if a customer doesn't want to drop an order of magnitude more money to go with 3rd party tools (e.g., Synopsys). Who do you think are the worst offenders of this downloading of support onto the backs of the customers themselves, and what can be done about it?"
theodp (442580) writes "While they aim to democratize learning, the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) movement has, for the most part, oddly left K-12 teachers out of the online content creation business. ZDNet's Simon Bisson reports on Office Mix, Microsoft's new PowerPoint plug-in and associated cloud service, which Bisson says makes it easy to create and distribute compelling educational content (screenshots). GeekWire's Frank Catalano also makes an interesting case for why Office Mix's choice of PowerPoint, "the poster child for delivering boring presentations in non-interactive settings," could still be a disrupter in the online content creation space. By the way, MOOC.org, the collaboration of edX and Google which also aims to help "teachers easily build and host courses for the world to take," is slated to go live in the first half of 2014. It'll be interesting to see how MOOC.org's authoring tools differ from Google Research's Course Builder effort."
According to The Wall Street Journal, Google may be planning to commoditze 3-D scanning by building the tech of its Project Tango project (essentially, thus far, a phone-sized handheld with 3-D sensing capabilities) into tablets. The Register speculates: "Given that Google has already announced the Project Tango smartphone, it seems likely that it would extend the technology to tablets, and the seven-inch form factor would tie in nicely with the existing Nexus 7 design. ...Google is hoping that developers can build applications to use the scanning capabilities of the Tango hardware. Suggested topics include providing guides for visually impaired people, building gaming maps based on actual rooms, and possibly augmenting Google Maps with interior details – Street View becoming Home View perhaps?" Setting aside what brand it might bear, how would you employ a portable 3-D scanner?
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "A breakthrough has been made in SSD technology that could mean drastic performance increases due to the overcoming of one of the major issues in the memory type. Currently, data cannot be directly overwritten onto the NAND chips used in the devices. Files must be written to a clean area of the drive whilst the old area is formatted. This eventually causes fragmented data and lowers the drive's life and performance over time. However, a Japanese team at Chuo University have finally overcome the issue that is as old as the technology itself. Officially unveiled at the 2014 IEEE International Memory Workshop in Taipei, the researchers have written a brand new middleware for the drives that controls how the data is written to and stored on the device. Their new version utilizes what they call a 'logical block address scrambler' which effectively prevents data being written to a new 'page' on the device unless it is absolutely required. Instead, it is placed in a block to be erased and consolidated in the next sweep. This means significantly less behind-the-scenes file copying that results in increased performance from idle."
savuporo (658486) writes with news based on the work of a DARPA project known as High Assurance Cyber Military Systems: "'The Pentagon's research arm unveiled a new drone built with secure software that "prevents the control and navigation of the aircraft from being hacked. ... The software is designed to make sure a hacker cannot take over control of a UAS. The software is mathematically proven to be invulnerable to large classes of attack,' [HACMS program manager Kathleen] Fisher said." This is currently being demoed on a quad-copter platform. It would be interesting to know the CPU architecture, chipset, programming language and the suite of communication protol this thing uses ."
MojoKid (1002251) writes "The PC market is changing rapidly as tablets supplant some laptops, new players such as the Chromebook disrupt the old WIntel model, and innovations in processors and graphics allow for ever-smaller PCs such as Intel's NUC (Next Unit of Computing) PC. Gigabyte recently introduced a rather unique product that combines the tiny 4.5-inch square form factor of Intel's NUC PC platform together with a mini DLP projector. The Gigabyte Brix Projector measures 4.24 x 4.5 x 1.93 inches (WxLxD) but manages to fit in an Intel Core i3-4010U (1.7GHz) processor with built-in Intel HD 4400 graphics and support for up to 16GB of 1600MHz RAM. Finally, an mSATA slot inside the chassis also supports up to a 256GB SSD. The system's DLP (LED backlight) projector itself offers a resolution of 864x480 with an aspect ratio of 16:9 and a purported image size of 7 to 85 inches. It promises 75 ANSI lumen brightness, a contrast ratio of around 900:1, and 3LED (RGB) technology. It's not an HD setup but the potential use cases are interesting. A follow-on version capable of 1080p output would be even more useful for gaming and HD video."