posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Google An example of a generic interface that Google designs. Developers can customize the colors and icons. 7 more images in gallery Google just released a set of Android Auto developer documents to developer.android.com, which details a little more of Google's in-car platform and gives developers a better sense of the system's capabilities. Android Auto "apps" aren't really apps; they're additional Android Auto-specific content that developers add to their existing Android apps. This is exactly the way Android Wear works. Developers don't have separate phone, watch, and car apps; they just include additional interface attributes in their regular apps that display on the other form factors. Developers don't get to design interfaces in Android Auto, it's more of a "fill-in-the-blanks" style of app development. Google makes the interface layout, and developers get to change the colors, button actions, and text of that interface. Apps also provide a content stream for playback, and that's pretty much it. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Google Don't text and drive, kids, not even if you're using high-tech, hands-free goggles to do so. Researchers at the University of Central Florida have concluded in a study that using Google Glass to text while driving is clearly a distraction. They also discovered, however, that Glass wearers were more capable of regaining control of their vehicles than smartphone users following traffic incidents. The peer-reviewed study was the first to examine the impact of Glass on driving, and was conducted with the hope of finding new ways for technology to deliver information to drivers with minimal risk. "As destructive influences threaten to become more common and numerous in drivers' lives, we find the limited benefits provided by Glass a hopeful sign of technological solutions to come," said researcher Ben Sawyer. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Public domain, via penbentley on Flickr Earlier this week, the New York Academy of Sciences released a new report that focuses on what it terms the STEM paradox. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, and it's generally used to describe high-tech and research-oriented education and careers. If you talk to people looking for jobs in academia, you'll typically hear that we produce too many STEM graduates, leaving many struggling to find jobs. If you talk to people who represent companies like Google and Microsoft, we produce too few, and need to relax visa restrictions in order to bring in more from overseas. This strange situation—a simultaneous glut and shortage—is what the NYAS report calls the "STEM paradox." Both problems are real, and they're the result of mismatched priorities. As Jeanne Dunn, vice president of Learning@Cisco put it when the report was introduced, when it comes to STEM graduates, "there's a huge imbalance of talent—where they are and the types of things they are skilled in." So, even though our graduate schools may be producing highly qualified researchers, the research they're prepared for is often only appropriate in an academic setting; commercial entities end up looking for a different set of skills. Industry also ends up looking for more people at early stages of their careers—the bachelors and masters levels—but only if they have a relevant skill set. For the most part, undergraduate educations don't provide those. The result of these is part of the imbalance that Dunn mentioned. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Stack Exchange This Q&A is part of a weekly series of posts highlighting common questions encountered by technophiles and answered by users at Stack Exchange, a free, community-powered network of 100+ Q&A sites. jao asks: From the Code Complete book comes the following quote: Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota. Liz Lawley Of all of the drone incidents reported at national parks across the United States over the last year, one stands out: a small aircraft spotted over the Mount Rushmore site in South Dakota in September 2013. Within hours, in the shadow of the famous four busts of American presidents, National Park Service (NPS) employees confronted a group of six individuals at a park ice cream shop and seized their passports, memory cards, and mobile phones. Drones have become something of a scourge at various national parks. In June 2014, the NPS banned the use of drones in all of its parks, following an initial ban in Yosemite National Park in California the previous month. Since then, rangers have taken notable steps to enforce the ban. Earlier this week, a German man was sentenced to a one year ban from Yellowstone and was ordered to pay a $1,600 fine after he crashed a drone into Yellowstone lake. A Dutch tourist was ordered to pay over $3,200 after he crashed his drone into the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring. One more case against an Oregon man remains pending in federal court in Wyoming. Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Despite Apple's recent missteps in patching iOS 8, iPhone and iPad users may want to upgrade to the Apple's latest available mobile operating system to fix some serious security issues. Among the most critical is a vulnerability — CVE-2014-4377 — in how iOS processes PDF files as images. An attacker who exploits the flaw could use a malicious Web page viewed by the user in Safari to run code on the victim's device, according to a description of the problem posted this week by Argentinian security consultancy Binamuse. A proof-of-concept attack is "a complete 100% reliable and portable exploit for MobileSafari on IOS7.1.x," Felipe Andres Manzano, principal consultant at Binamuse, stated in the company's analysis. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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It's now bash-a-mole. Sakura - flickr.com Remember when we said that a new patch had fixed the problems with the last patch to fix the rated-highly-dangerous “Shellshock” bug in the GNU Bourne Again Shell (bash)? You know, that bug that could allow an attacker to remotely execute code on a Linux or Unix system running some configurations of Apache, or perhaps the Git software version control system, DHCP network configuration or any number of other pieces of software that use bash to interact with the underlying operating system? Well, the new patch may not be a complete fix—and there may be vulnerabilities all the way down in the bash code. Here's how the Shellshock vulnerability works, in a nutshell: an attacker sends a request to a Web server (or Git, a DHCP client, or anything else affected) that uses bash internally to interact with the operating system. This request includes data stored in an environmental variable. Environmental variables are like a clipboard for operating systems, storing information used to help it and software running on it know where to look for certain files or what configuration to start with. But in this case, the data is malformed so as to trick bash into treating it as a command, and that command is executed as part of what would normally be a benign set of script. This ability to trick bash is the shellshock bug. As a result, the attacker can run programs with the same level of access as the part of the system launching a bash shell. And in the case of a web server, that's practically the same level of access as an administrator, giving the attacker a way to gain full control of the targeted system. David A. Wheeler, a computer scientist who is an acknowledged expert in developing secure open-source code, posted a message to the Open Source Software Security (oss-sec) list this evening urging more changes to the bash code. And other developers have found that the current patch still has vulnerabilities similar to the original one, where an attacker could store malicious data in a variable named the same thing as frequently run commands. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Yahoo's homepage as it appeared in 1996 with the directory front and center. As part of an ongoing effort to streamline and focus its business, Yahoo today announced that it was retiring its namesake product. In January 1994, Jerry Yang and David Filo, graduate students at Stanford University, created a hierarchical directory of websites, "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web." In March of that year, they gave it the name "Yahoo!," for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle." In the early days of the Web, these categorized, human-curated Web listings were all the rage. Search engines existed, but rapidly became notorious for their poor result quality. On a Web that was substantially smaller than the one we enjoy today, directories were a useful alternative way of finding sites of interest. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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© General Motors Over the past few months, General Motors and its Chevrolet dealerships have been selling the 2015 Corvette with an interesting feature called Valet Mode. Valet Mode records audio, video, and driving statistics of the person in the driver's seat when the driver isn't around, thus keeping low-life valets from being too loose with their filthy mitts while inside a Corvette owner's fancy car. Trouble is that in at least 12 states, using Valet Mode might be considered a felony. Federal wiretapping laws generally require only one party to consent to a recording of an interaction. But in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington, all parties are required to consent before a recording happens. So if a Corvette owner turns on Valet Mode in California and turns the car over to the unknowing attendant, that Corvette owner could be committing a felony. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Comcast executive Charlie Herrin is aiming to improve Comcast's legendarily poor customer service. Comcast After months of getting bashed for treating customers poorly, Comcast today said it's going to make improving customer service its "number one priority." But the company admitted that "it may take a few years before we can honestly say that a great customer experience is something we’re known for." Neil Smit, CEO of Comcast's cable division, wrote today that Comcast's customer service hasn't kept up with Comcast's focus on "product innovation," technology, and content. "But this is only one half of the customer experience equation. The other half is operational excellence in how we deliver service," he wrote. "The way we interact with our customers—on the phone, online, in their homes—is as important to our success as the technology we provide. Put simply, customer service should be our best product." A longtime Comcast executive is being called upon to fulfill that goal. Smit announced the promotion of 15-year Comcast veteran Charlie Herrin to a new role as senior VP of customer experience. Herrin previously was senior VP of product development and led design of X1, Comcast's new TV user interface. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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After the discovery that a patch designed to repair the “Shellshock” vulnerability in the GNU Bourne Again Shell (bash) still allowed for an attacker to execute commands on a remote system, Red Hat, Ubuntu, and other Linux distribution providers have pushed out a second fix to the vulnerability. At the same time, security researchers and service providers have detected a surge in scans for systems with the vulnerability, as would-be attackers seek to take advantage of the bug. “Shellshock” has been compared to the Heartbleed bug discovered in the OpenSSL cryptography library in April because of its potential severity and its widespread nature. Like Heartbleed, the Shellshock vulnerabilities were introduced by errors in coding years ago—errors made by an unpaid volunteer writing code that would end up in millions of computer systems. Chet Ramey, an IT architect at Case Western Reserve University and maintainer of the code for GNU bash, told The New York Times that he believes the problems in bash's code were introduced into the code in 1992—long before bash found itself into much of the Internet's server infrastructure. And because there are so many systems that use bash that may be running unattended or are seldom maintained, Shellshock could remain a concern for a very, very long time. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Microsoft has announced the return of its WinHEC conferences. The first of the new conferences will be March 18 and 19 next year and is being held in Shenzhen, China. The old WinHEC events, standing for Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, were held annually in the US. At them, Microsoft would outline its hardware plans and the direction that it saw the PC evolving, with the audience being hardware OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), ODMs (Original Design Manufacturers), IHVs (Independent Hardware Vendors), and IDHs (Independent Design Houses). The last old WinHEC was in 2008, held a few days after, and in the same location as, the PDC software developer conference. The focus then was Windows 7, which was given its first public preview at PDC. The last PDC was held in 2010. From 2011, Microsoft ran a conference that it named BUILD. Officially, this was supposed to appeal to both the traditional PDC audience of software developers and the WinHEC audience of hardware companies. In practice, however, BUILD has been heavily skewed toward software, so while it was a reasonable successor to PDC, it left the WinHEC community out in the cold. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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BT has conducted field trials that show it can deliver broadband download speeds of nearly 800Mbps using fiber and copper, a company announcement said yesterday. The technology delivers data over fiber from the British telecom's facilities to neighborhoods while using copper for the final meters. Deployments of this sort are less expensive than fiber-to-the-home because they reuse existing copper lines used for telephone service and DSL. "Previously it was thought such speeds would require a dedicated business line or a fibre optic cable to be laid all the way from a telephone exchange to a premises, a relatively expensive, disruptive and time-consuming process," BT said. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Theodorus Van Vliet crashed his drone into Grand Prismatic Hot Spring (see here) in Yellowstone National Park. Frank Kovalchek After entering a guilty plea, a federal judge ordered a Dutch tourist to pay over $3,000 in fines after he crashed his drone into the Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in August 2014. According to Yellowstone officials, Theodorus Van Vliet was fined $1,000 and also must pay over $2,200 in restitution. His drone remains at the bottom of the iconic hot spring. Van Vliet is the second person to be prosecuted since the National Park Service (NPS) banned drones in all parks as of June 2014. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Sometimes, getting exactly the result you predict is more exciting than it sounds. Last week, Science published a paper about creating chemical compounds with element 106, Seaborgium. A quick glance at the abstract showed that this chemical behaved similarly to the one made of Sg's lighter cousin, tungsten. That sounds a bit dull—in fact I skipped covering it last week for precisely this reason—until you find out that you wouldn't necessarily expect this result. Admittedly, just getting the experiment done at all is pretty impressive. The isotope of seaborgium used, 265Sg, has a half-life of only 16 seconds. It has to be produced in a particle accelerator, which means it's normally rather energetic and part of a cloud of energetic debris. So, the technique involved slowing it down and separating it, letting it undergo a chemical reaction, and only then could they characterize something about the resulting chemical's behavior. In this case, the researchers reacted it with carbon monoxide to form Sg(CO)6. The resulting chemical stuck to a silicon dioxide surface briefly before the Sg decayed, allowing a very basic characterization of its chemical behavior. And, as noted above, it behaved similarly to the tungsten version of the same compound. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Sidecar, and its rivals, Lyft and Tickengo, hope to make carsharing in San Francisco more social and more efficient. Sidecar The district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles have sent a joint letter to Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, threatening the popular quasi-taxi companies with a lawsuit if they do not make some modifications to their services. Specifically, the letter, which was sent on Wednesday, says that the firms are in violation of state law that prohibits charging individual fares for drivers who pick up separate passengers traveling in the same direction at a lower price (essentially as a quasi-bus service), and for implying that their background checks of drivers extends beyond seven years in the past. "Each of these measures can be implemented quickly, easily, and without impacting Sidecar's ability to operate," the district attorneys wrote, according to a copy of the letter Sidecar sent to Ars. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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On Friday, Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke delivered on a week of new-album teases and revealed to music fans what he'd been working on all along: his first solo album in six years (as opposed to releases from either Radiohead or his side project Atoms For Peace). The album, Tomorrow's Modern Boxes, also marked a long-awaited return for Yorke: his first release to debut as an online product since 2007's In Rainbows. Instead of unleashing the album's eight songs in pay-what-you-want fashion like last time, however, Yorke has joined forces with BitTorrent to sell the songs as a "BitTorrent bundle." Six dollars gives you access to the album via a BitTorrent file download, which users can then load with their favorite BitTorrent client to download the full album. "It's an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around," Yorke wrote in a statement at BitTorrent's blog. Certainly, he has a vested interest in shaking up the music-distribution paradigm, having been a vocal opponent of sites like Spotify for some time. However, after reading the site's lengthy how-to guide for novices, complete with an apology for users wishing to download directly to their smartphones, we wonder how successful this experiment will turn out for the average Spotify lover. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Brett Levin On Friday, the European Aviation Safety Agency allowed airlines flying in European skies to let passengers speak on mobile phones or use other Internet-connected gadgets. The Cologne, Germany-based regulators said "portable electronic devices," or PEDs, may "stay switched on, without the need to be in 'Airplane Mode.' This is the latest regulatory step towards enabling the ability to offer 'gate-to-gate' telecommunication or WiFi services." The agency also provided guidance to airlines on how they can take advantage of the new permissions: Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Hope you got up early if you wanted one of these collectibles... Nintendo collectors will go to ridiculous lengths to get their hands on the rarest of the company's games, as anyone who's followed the sky-high prices paid for Nintendo World Championship cartridges can attest. Today, those collectors have a new collectible to lust after: a limited edition version of Hyrule Warriors given only to a few hundred patient customers at the Nintendo World Store in New York City this morning. The limited edition box, announced earlier this month for the US, is a Nintendo World Store exclusive that includes a copy of the Dynasty Warriors-inspired hack-and-slash game packaged with a blue and gold Zelda-themed scarf. Nintendo didn't allow pre-orders due to "limited" quantities, causing eager fans to start lining up late last night for the midtown Manhattan store's 8 am opening. That line stretched to over 600 people by opening, according to one person on the scene (others simply said it "goes on forever"), but many of those in the line went home without the collectible edition they wanted. Nintendo reportedly made somewhere between 300 and 500 copies available, meaning buyers had to be in line by somewhere between 3:30 and 4 am to get a wristband entitling them to a copy, accordingly to tweeted reports from the store. All limited edition copies were distributed within an hour of the opening, according to a report from fan site Zelda Universe. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Ron Amadeo The Galaxy Note Edge. 9 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } Earlier this month, Samsung held an event to show off the Galaxy Note 4, Note Edge, Gear VR, and Gear S. We've seen launch date announcements for the Note 4 and Gear S, and the Gear VR is still making the press rounds, but we haven't heard anything about the curved-screen Galaxy Note Edge. ZDNet Korea (via PC World) has the scoop on what's going on with the product, and it looks like the Note Edge will be very hard to get. The device will be a "limited concept" that won't see Samsung's usual mass production, according to Samsung Electronics president DJ Lee. It sounds like the release will be similar to the Korea-only Galaxy Round, Samsung's curved-screen device from last year. The Note Edge's claim to fame is the curved AMOLED display, which wraps around one side and runs little "ticker" apps that display information like sports scores, apps, or tweets. Though it sounds intriguing, we didn't immediately like several things about the Note Edge. The lopsided design leaves a lot to be desired, and the curved screen meets the back of the phone at a sharp edge which digs into your hand and makes the phablet-sized device uncomfortable to hold. The screen curve extends into the normal app area, too, which distorts the right side of apps. Also, crucially for Samsung, the device lacks little to differentiate it from the Note 4. The two devices are the same size and both have a stylus, but only one looks like it was left out in the sun for too long. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Comcast Remember Comcast's Streampix service? Launched in February 2012, it was created to help Comcast compete against streaming video services such as Netflix. But it never caught on—and thus regulators examining the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger should reject claims that Comcast has an incentive to discriminate against online video distributors [OVDs] like Netflix, Comcast told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week. The tidbit was buried in Comcast's 324-page filing with the FCC and was pointed out yesterday by Karl Bode of DSLReports. Comcast still offers Streampix as a $5-per-month add-on to its Xfinity TV service but has given up on making it a standalone offering. The Streampix mobile app is still available on Apple and Android devices but will eventually be "decommissioned." The filing says: Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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You know you want to flip these toggles. Just look at them. Lee Hutchinson CN.dart.call("xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:["top"], collapse: true}); I think I have a problem. I am not attracted to that many gadgets, but I lack anything even remotely resembling impulse control when it comes to those I do want. We don’t keep review hardware at Ars, so while I can often scratch an itch by requesting that companies send me the toys I lust after, I end up simply buying the things I want most—to hell with budget and consequences. It was in mid-May when I stumbled across this fan-made video of the complex and sprawling spaceship simulator Elite: Dangerous showing off the new features added to the crowdfunded game’s alpha build. Ninety seconds into the ten minute video, I scraped my jaw off the floor and bought into Elite’s premium beta (you can read my thoughts on the game in this long-form review with video). Immediately I knew my current control set-up just wouldn’t cut the mustard in a game as complex as Elite: Dangerous. On top of that, Chris Roberts’ Star Citizen was also due to release a playable module in the near future. With two huge space sims on the horizon, I needed to step up my game. Substantially. And that’s how a YouTube video convinced me to head over to Amazon and drop $463.53 on a joystick and throttle combination. As the price may indicate, this was not just any joystick and throttle—I aimed as high as I could reasonably aim. I bought a Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog. Read 39 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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I don't think we're on Earth anymore, Toto. While selecting my colonists' Earth-bound origins for the first time in Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth, I could take a guess as to what the Polystralia or the African Union were meant to represent. I couldn't, however, give you a single clue regarding what they meant in a gameplay context. Ask me anything about the ARC or the Kavithan Protectorate, and I'll offer you the same, slow blinks I gave to my monitor when it first showed them to me. Right from the opening of my time with an extensive preview build of Beyond Earth, the game presented a series of jargon-heavy sci-fi moments that were a potent taste of what was to come. In previous Civilization games, I could use my knowledge of real-world history to guide my initial choice of the dozen or so societies on offer and know that their attributes at least loosely reflect their real-life counterparts (sometimes very loosely; see: Brigadier General Gandhi). Civilization has always benefited from history: the history of lessons learned by the developers over time, sure, but also the benefit of foreknowledge. I know that muskets are better than spears. I know what benefits researching the assembly line is likely to provide. I know what Mr. Anderson's sixth grade history class taught me about conquistadors and the Industrial Revolution. What I don't remember Mr. Anderson telling me about is the effect of Genetic Mapping on my Purity Affinity. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Apple has responded to concerns about “Shellshock,” a pair of vulnerabilities in versions of the GNU Bourne-Again Shell (bash), issuing a statement that the company is “working to quickly provide a fix” to the vulnerability. However, a company spokesperson said that most Mac OS X users have nothing to fear. “The vast majority of OS X users are not at risk to recently reported bash vulnerabilities,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement to the Apple-focused site iMore. “With OS X, systems are safe by default and not exposed to remote exploits of bash unless users configure advanced Unix services.” Mac OS X uses version 3.2.51.(1) of GNU bash, released in 2007; the current GNU release of the shell is bash 4.3. However, the current version is released under the GNU Public License version 3 (GPLv3). Apple has avoided bundling GPLv3-licensed software because of its stricter license terms, even dropping the open-source Windows networking service Samba from OS X server in 2011 because Samba had shifted to a GPLv3 license. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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DirecTV stockholders have voted in favor of AT&T's $48.5 billion acquisition of the company. "The final voting results indicate more than 99 percent of votes cast were in favor of the adoption of the merger agreement, representing 77 percent of all outstanding shares," DirecTV said in an announcement yesterday. Announced in May, the AT&T/DirecTV merger is still subject to regulatory review by the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice. AT&T has said it needs to buy DirecTV because its limited pay-TV customer base has left the company lagging behind rivals Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which are attempting to merge as well. AT&T said it expects to complete its merger in the first half of 2015. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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