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Google

Google To Introduce Google Wifi, Google Home and 4K Chromecast Ultra Devices On October 4th (androidpolice.com) 47

Android Police has learned of a new Google device that will launch alongside the Google Pixel smartphones, Google Home, and 4K 'Chromecast Ultra' dongle on October 4th. Called Google Wifi, the Wi-Fi router will cost $129 and contain several "smart" features. Android Police reports: [The] source additionally claims that Google will advertise the router as having "smart" features -- probably similar to OnHub in some respects -- and that Google will claim it provides enhanced range over typical Wi-Fi routers (a claim we see basically every router make, to be fair). But the one thing that will make it an insta-buy for many over OnHub? Our source claims multiple Google Wifi access points (two or more) can be linked together to create one large wireless network. We don't have any details on how this works, unfortunately. But one source claims that Google Wifi device will essentially be like a little white Amazon Echo Dot. So, relatively small and inconspicuous. In a separate report, Android Police details Google's upcoming smart speaker called Google Home, along with their upcoming 4K 'Chromecast Ultra' devices. Specifically, they will be priced at $129 and $69 respectively: Google Home was announced at Google I/O in May. Our sources also confirmed that the personalized base covers Google showed at I/O will be a feature of the final device. $129 also undercuts Amazon's Echo by a full $40, and though matches the price of the portable Amazon Tap, it's clear Google has Amazon's flagship smart home product in its sights with Home. Chromecast Ultra, which we are now all but certain is the name of Google's upcoming 4K version of Chromecast, will come in at $69 retail. As for what it brings beyond 4K, one of our sources claims that HDR is indeed on the list of bullet points.
Verizon

Verizon Says It Knows You Don't Need Unlimited Data (digitaltrends.com) 219

Ed Oswald, writing for DigitalTrends: While the wireless industry is moving back to unlimited data, one carrier is not. Verizon chief financial officer Fred Shammo told attendees at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in New York on Thursday that his company doesn't think you need it, and slammed current offerings. "At the end of the day, people don't need unlimited plans," Shammo said. While this is not the first time he's said this -- in March he claimed unlimited data "doesn't work in an LTE environment," and in 2011 he helped Verizon move away from unlimited plans -- it's now an entirely different market.
AI

MIT Scientists Use Radio Waves To Sense Human Emotions (cnn.com) 91

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: Researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed a device that uses radio waves to detect whether someone is happy, sad, angry or excited. The breakthrough makes it easier to accomplish what scientists have tried to do for years with machines: sense human emotions. The researchers believe tracking a person's feelings is a step toward improving their overall emotional well-being. The technology isn't invasive; it works in the background without a person having to do anything, like wearing a device. The device called EQ-Radio, which was detailed in a paper published online Tuesday, resembles a shoebox, as of now. It works by bouncing wireless signals off a person. These signals are impacted by motion, such as breathing and heartbeats. When the heart pumps blood, a force is exerted onto our bodies, and the skin vibrates ever so slightly. After the radio waves are impacted by these vibrations, they return to the device. A computer then analyzes the signals to identify changes in heartbeat and breathing. The researchers demonstrated their system detects emotions on par with an electrocardiogram (EKG), a common wearable device medical professionals use to monitor the human heart. The machine's analysis of the radio waves relies on artificial intelligence, which learns how various heartbeats indicate certain emotions. As a part of the testing, the machine bounced radio waves off actors who recreated a range of emotions. The more emotions the machine experienced, the better it identified what signals, such as a fast heartbeat, gave away their true feelings. By monitoring radio waves reflected off people who are happy, the machine is exposed to certain signs -- such as heart rate or a type of breathing -- associated with being in good spirits.
Verizon

Comcast Will Launch a Wireless Service Next Year (businessinsider.com) 50

Steve Kovach, writing for Business Insider:Comcast plans to launch its own wireless service in 2017, CEO Brian Roberts said at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia conference Tuesday. Since Comcast doesn't have its own cell towers, it'll rely on WiFi networks for connectivity. The user will be switched to Verizon's network when they're away from WiFi. There are already a few smaller carriers that offer services like this, like Google's Project Fi and Republic Wireless. Those companies work as mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) and pay major wireless carriers like Sprint or T-Mobile to use their cell towers when users aren't connected to WiFi. MVNOs tend to be cheaper than traditional wireless carriers, offering benefits like the option to only pay for the data you use. The move will also help Comcast and Verizon compete with AT&T, which merged with DirecTV and is able to offer combined wireless, home broadband, and TV packages.
Communications

Cable Lobby Tries To Make You Forget That It Represents Cable Companies (arstechnica.com) 32

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The U.S. cable industry's biggest lobby group has dropped the word "cable" from its name in a rebrand focusing on its members' role as providers of both Internet and TV services. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) will henceforth be called NCTA-The Internet and Television Association. NCTA will be maintained in the name as a nod to the group's past, even though the initials no longer stand for any particular words. "Just as our industry is witnessing an exciting transformation driven by technology and connectivity, NCTA's brand must reflect the vibrancy and diversity of our members," NCTA CEO Michael Powell (a former Federal Communications Commission chairman) said in today's announcement. The group's "mission to drive the industry forward remains the same," he said. This isn't the NCTA's first name change. The group began as the National Community Television Council in 1951 and then became the National Community Television Association in 1952, according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Despite dropping the word "cable," the NCTA's name change announcement makes reference to how cable companies are dominating the broadband market. Powell noted that the NCTA "represent[s] an industry that is America's largest and fastest home Internet provider." As it goes forward, the NCTA won't be the only telecom lobby group initialism that no longer stands for anything. The CTIA -- previously known as the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and then the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association -- is now just "CTIA-The Wireless Association."
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Build Your Own Vacuum Tubes? 270

Could you beat wireless headphones by creating your own DIY home audio system? Two weeks ago one Slashdot commenter argued, "to have good audio that is truly yours and something to be proud of, you need to make your own vacuum tube amplifier and then use it to power real electrostatic headphones over a wire." And now long-time Slashdot reader mallyn is stepping up to the challenge: I want to try to make my own vacuum tubes. Is there anyone here who has tried DIY vacuum tubes (or valves, to you Europeans)? I need help getting started -- how to put together the vacuum plumbing system; how to make a glass lathe; what metals to use for the elements (grid, plate, etc). If this is not the correct forum, can anyone please gently shove me into the correct direction? It needs to be online as my physical location (Bellingham, Washington) is too far away from the university labs where this type of work is likely to be done.
Slashdot's covered the "tubes vs. transistors" debate before, but has anyone actually tried to homebrew their own? Leave your best answers in the comments. How do you build your own vacuum tubes?
Businesses

Woman Faces $9,100 Verizon Bill For Data She Says She Didn't Use (dslreports.com) 209

A Verizon Wireless customer says she received a bill of $9,100 for hundreds of gigabytes of data usage which never consumed. The woman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer she was on Verizon's 4GB shared data plan, and like any normal person, the bill of $8,535 from Verizon for consuming 569GB of data in a matter of few days doesn't compute well with her. The problem, as DSLR reports, is that when she tried to find out what caused the data usage, Verizon website told her "the activity you are trying to perform is currently unavailable. Please try again later." She couldn't and switched to T-Mobile, after which Verizon charged her a penalty of $600.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Explores the Idea Of Killing Headphone Jack On the MacBook Pro (thenextweb.com) 495

Less than two weeks after Apple unveiled its headphone jack-less iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the company is already exploring the idea of doing the same on its flagship computing lineup. An anonymous reader shares a report on The Next Web: Apple might be going all-in with the wireless revolution as the company is now allegedly considering killing the headphone jack on the MacBook Pro. Users are reporting that as of recently Apple has been asking them to fill in a survey about the way they use their MacBook Pro and one of the questions pertains particularly to the headphone jack. Shared by Blake A. via Twitter, the question reads "Do you ever use the headphone port on your MacBook Pro with Retina display?", suggesting Apple is exploring going jackless with its laptops in the future. Given the Cupertino company just ditched the audio jack on the iPhone 7, the change is likely to eventually come to other Apple products too -- the real question is when.Several Slashdot readers have also confirmed that they have participated in a similar survey with some noting that Apple also asked them about the removable of headphone jack on some of its other computing lineup including the iMac.
Communications

Google-Funded Free Wi-Fi Kiosks Are Scrapping Web Browsing Because Too Many People Were Using it For Porn (businessinsider.com) 140

This is why New Yorkers can't have nice things. LinkNYC, the initiative to install super-fast wifi hubs in New York City, is suspending web browsing on all its tablets after 8 months due to "inappropriate behavior," the company says, according to a report on BusinessInsider. From the article:Google parent company Alphabet funds LinkNYC through its spinoff Sidewalk Labs. "... Some users have been monopolizing the Link tablets and using them inappropriately, preventing others from being able to use them while frustrating the residents and businesses around them," the company writes in a statement. DNAInfo previously reported that people were using the hubs to watch porn.
EU

New EU Rules Promise 100Mbps Broadband and Free Wi-Fi For All (arstechnica.com) 180

An anonymous reader writes: The European Commission has promised free Wi-Fi in every town, village, and city in the European Union, in the next four years. A new grant, with a total budget of 120 million euro, will allow public authorities to purchase state-of-the art equipment, for example a local wireless access point. If approved by the the European Parliament and national ministers the cash could be available before the end of next year. The commission has also set a target for all European households to have access to download speeds of at least 100Mbps by 2025, and has redefined Internet access as a so-called universal service, while removing obligations for old universal services such as payphones. It also envisions fully deploying 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communication systems, across the European Union by 2025. Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker made reference to many of these proposals while also promising to abolish roaming once and for all in his "State of the European Union" address on Wednesday morning.
Wireless Networking

Why Sys-Admins Are Disabling The Lights on WiFi Access Points (networkworld.com) 294

More than a dozen IT professionals said they've disabled the LEDs on wireless access points, according to a Network World article shared by Slashdot reader alphadogg: Some users don't want a beacon shining in their eyes as they try to get to sleep and others worry about the health effects of a blue light glowing all night. Some even resort to unplugging the gear when they're not using it.... "It seems when you are sick and laying in a hospital bed and have trouble sleeping, the single LED shining in your eyes is an issue," [says the wireless network staff specialist for Penn State College of Medicine]. "I get it and understand it..."

Network pros say they have begun asking vendors such as Cisco if they can provide an easier way to dim, rather than turn off the lights on the access points entirely, via wireless controllers. And some would like to see more granular control, such that the power light could be left on to comfort end users that the device is working, but blinking lights could be turned off or dimmed to avoid bothering them.

End users have tried "all sorts of makeshift fixes -- from Post-it notes to bandages to condom wrappers," but one network architect complains that when they disable the LEDs altogether, "I invariably get a ticket (or more) that the access point is offline and wireless is broken because there are no lights on..." On the plus side, when they then re-enable the LED lghts, "magically the wireless performance and coverage is perfect!"
Intel

Intel Breaks Qualcomm's Hold On Apple's Baseband Chips (wsj.com) 84

Long-time Slashdot reader randomErr writes: In a big blow to Qualcomm, Apple plans to incorporate Intel baseband chips into at least some models of the new iPhone 7. The selection of Intel chip means that in newer iPhones Apple will no longer support CDMA technology popularized by Qualcomm. The Wall Street Journal states that many industry analysts believe Intel could be supplying as many as half of of baseband chips for Apple's handsets.
This was the last key iPhone component that didn't have two sources, and the Journal estimates that Intel's revenues could now increase by up to $700 million before the end of 2016.
Iphone

Apple Removed Headphone Jack From New iPhones Because It Owns Largest Bluetooth Headphone Company (theverge.com) 311

Apple's new iPhones -- the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus -- don't have the headphone jack. The company's SVP Phil Schiller said the move signifies "courage" from the company to put a 100-year-old audio standard to bed. But there could be one more reason for this transition to a Bluetooth/Wireless headphones future: it owns the largest Bluetooth headphones company -- Beats. The Verge reports: More likely is that the lack of a headphone jack on the iPhone -- and increasingly, on Android phones as well -- will lead to an uptick in sales of Bluetooth headphones. And it just so happens that Apple owns the number one Bluetooth headphone company, Beats. Beats brings in more revenue from Bluetooth headphones than LG, Bose, or Jaybird, according to NPD figures released in July. In terms of unit sales, it controls over a quarter of the Bluetooth headphone market. Bluetooth headphones are also disproportionately profitable among headphones. NPD has them accounting for 54 percent of all dollars spent in the market, despite representing only 17 percent of units sold in the U.S.. These headphones sell at high prices with high margins, and Apple's company is making the best of it so far. Sales of Bluetooth headphones are already growing, with units up 64 percent year over year according to NPD's US figures. And Apple's removal of the headphone jack is likely to give them another boost.
Iphone

Apple Cites 'Courage' As Reason To Remove 3.5mm Headphone Jack (arstechnica.com) 761

It didn't come as much of a surprise when Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller revealed that the iPhone 7 doesn't feature a headphone jack, since rumors have mentioned this possibility months before the announcement. In fact, what some may find more surprising is Apple's justification. The company cited three reasons why they decided to eighty-six the port, as well as one word: "courage." Ars Technica reports: "[Schiller said] the company can't justify the continued use of an 'ancient' single-use port. He described the amount of technology packed into the iPhone, saying each element in Apple's phones is fighting for space, and it's at a premium. Schiller explained that no company has tried to deliver a wireless experience between your devices and your headphones that fixes the things that are currently difficult to do -- and since there's only one major industry-wide wireless-audio standard, it's easy to assume that he's talking about Bluetooth there (though he didn't say the B-word out loud). To promote Apple's wireless-audio push, Schiller announced the new AirPods, which look mostly identical to the last official Apple earbud model, only with a small piece of plastic replacing the full cord. While Schiller and Apple designer Jonny Ive talked a lot about wireless being 'the future' of audio devices -- and thus being the reason for Apple's 'courage' to move on from the 3.5mm standard -- Apple is curiously not packing those AirPods into new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus boxes. Instead, those devices will ship with the updated Lightning EarPods by default. AirPods will begin shipping in late October and will cost $159."
Iphone

Apple Launches the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus; Feature Water-Resistance, Lack Headphone Jack (www.bgr.in) 551

Apple on Wednesday unveiled its new flagship smartphones: the iPhone 7, and the iPhone 7 Plus. Both the iPhones look similar to the last year's iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, but offer a range of new features. Chief among those features are water and dust resistance, stereo speakers, improved cameras (the iPhone 7 Plus has a pair of 12MP cameras that are able to take SLR-quality images. It offers bokeh capability). And yes, the new iPhones indeed lack the headphone jack. "it's the best iPhone we have ever created," Apple CEO Tim Cook said. The home button is getting taptic feedback, similar to that of the MacBook.

So why is Apple removing the headphone jack? Apple's SVP Phil Schiller said, "courage."The company also announced AirPods wireless earphones. A pair of these will be priced at $169. The iPhones will go on sales starting September 16 in several regions including the United States In places like India, however, it will be available starting October 7.
Iphone

Many Looking Past iPhone 7 to Next Year's iPhone 8 (fortune.com) 105

Reuters reports: The iPhone 7 is expected to make its global debut on Wednesday, but many consumers and investors are already setting their sights on Apple's 2017 version of the popular gadget, hoping for more significant advances. At its annual product launch in San Francisco on Wednesday, the world's most valuable publicly traded company is expected to reveal an iPhone without a headphone jack, paving the way for wireless headphones, a touch-sensitive home button that vibrates, double-lens cameras for the larger Plus edition and other incremental improvements. Apple typically gives its main product, which accounts for more than half of its revenue, a big makeover every other year and the last major redesign was the iPhone 6, in 2014. The modest updates suggest that this cycle will be three years.Apple will celebrate iPhone's 10th anniversary next year. Rumor has it that the company plans to switch from LCD to OLED for display on the next year's flagship phone. It is also pegged to have an all-glass body.
Iphone

Apple To Unveil 'AirPods' That Use Custom Bluetooth Chip (macrumors.com) 274

It's no secret that Apple is planning to remove the headphone jack in its upcoming flagship smartphones. A new report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, which confirms rumors that Apple will indeed remove the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 to improve the device's water resistance, suggests that Apple is developing earbuds called "AirPods" that will employ its own Bluetooth-like communication chip. Mac Rumors reports: "First and foremost, as has been rumored, Kuo suggests Apple is working on its own Bluetooth-like communication chip and its own Bluetooth headphones. Previous information suggests the Bluetooth chip will improve battery performance for longer battery life. The chip may be included in the wireless earbuds Apple has in development, which are said to be Bragi Dash-style wireless Bluetooth earbuds that are entirely wire free. The earbuds will be called "AirPods," based on trademark filings that have been discovered, and the product could be unveiled as early as September 7 alongside the iPhone 7. According to Kuo, Apple will sell its Apple-branded Bluetooth headphones alongside its Beats line of headphones, targeting the high-end market with the "AirPods" and the mid-range market with the Beats headphones. Kuo does not believe the company will package Bluetooth headphones with the iPhone 7. Instead, Apple is likely to ship the iPhone 7 with Lightning-based EarPods that feature a Lightning connector instead of a 3.5mm headphone jack."
Security

New Snowden Leaks Reveal More About NSA Satellite Eavesdropping (theverge.com) 100

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Newly published documents from Edward Snowden have shed more light on American surveillance operations in the UK. The Intercept details how the NSA and GCHQ used information gathered by Menwith Hill Station, a massive but tightly sealed facility that intercepts satellite data transmissions worldwide. Among other things, the files appear to include evidence that links UK-based surveillance to American anti-terrorism campaigns outside official combat zones. While many surveillance efforts focus on the internet's connective "backbone" cables, Menwith Hill intercepts wireless signals, using an array of antennae and U.S. government satellites to capture up to 335 million pieces of metadata in a 12-hour period. Previous reports -- including an earlier Snowden leak -- have already revealed some of its capabilities. But The Intercept includes more details, particularly about the UK's involvement in "capture-kill" operations against suspected terrorists. It describes how the GHOSTHUNTER program traced the location of targets "when they log onto the internet," often in internet cafes. A different program called GHOSTWOLF, which let the NSA and GCHQ monitor traffic from Yemeni internet cafes, is part of a plan to "capture or eliminate key nodes in terrorist networks" by tracking their locations. This leak fuels existing suspicions that the UK's role in American covert drone strikes is greater than it admits -- potentially implicating it in the civilian deaths that have resulted. GCHQ told The Intercept that all its work "is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework," and "is entirely compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights."
Android

Samsung Unveils Gear S3 Classic and Frontier Smartwatches Powered By Tizen (hothardware.com) 27

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Samsung just wrapped up an event at the IFA expo in Berlin, where the company unveiled two new Gear S3 branded smartwatches. The new Samsung Gear S3 Classic and Gear S3 Frontier leverage many of the design elements from last-year's Gear S2 -- like their Tizen OS, rotating control dial, round display, and fast wireless charging. However, other aspects of the Gear S3 have received significant upgrades. Although they are internally similar, there are a few external differences between the Gear S3 Classic and Frontier. The Gear S3 Classic is the sleeker, more streamlined version of the two. The Classic has a polished finish, with round buttons at the 2 and 4 o'clock positions and no addition protrusions on its chassis. The Gear S3 Frontier is more rugged and has a darker, brushed finish, with flat, rectangular textured buttons and protrusions on either side of the body to shield the buttons from accidental presses. Both the Gear S3 Classic and Frontier are also outfitted with Gorilla Glass SR to protect their circular, Super AMOLED displays, and they're both compatible with industry standard 22mm watch bands too. They are also IP68 rated, so they're able to withstand dust and dirt, and water resistant for up to 30 minutes under 1.5 meters of water. Depending on how heavily these devices are used, Samsung claims they can last roughly 3 -- 4 days on a single charge. They also have support for NFC (compatible with Samsung Pay), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and have built-in heart rate monitors, altimeter/barometer, and GPS as well.
Windows

Acer Unveils Slim Windows 10 Notebooks, Convertible Chromebook, Curved Screen Laptop (zdnet.com) 46

Ahead of this week's IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin, Acer has unveiled a range of notebook computers. The company has a new 13-inch Chromebook R 13 laptop, which it says can also be used as a tablet. There's a new line of Windows 10 Swift notebooks and Spin convertible laptops that are powered by Intel's just unveiled seventh generation Core processors. The Chromebook R13 sports a screen resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, and is powered by a MediaTek quad-core processor coupled with 4GB of RAM. It also houses a USB Type-C, USB 3.0, and HDMI ports. It offers as much as 12-hour of battery life. ZDNet adds:The 14-inch Spin 7 features an aluminium unibody design and is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor, with up to 8GB RAM, and 256 GB solid state disk storage. It weighs 1.2 kg (2.6 pounds) with a width of 10.98mm (0.43 inches). It also includes two USB 3.1 Type-C ports. The Spin 7 goes on sale in the US and Europe in October, with prices starting at $1,199 and 1,299 euro respectively. Heading up Acer's ultra-slim lineup is the aluminium construction, black and gold Swift 7. It features a 13.3-inch full-HD IPS display and Intel 7th generation i5 processor, with a 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM. It boasts fast wireless and dual USB 3.1 Type-C ports. Acer is promising nine hours of battery life for the device, which weighs 1.1kg (2.48 pounds) and has a height of 9.98mm (0.39 inches), making it the slimmest in the Swift series. It will be available in the US and Europe in October from $999 and 1,299 euro respectively.

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