The intro to our first video interview with Pwnie Express 'Founder and CEO and everything else' Dave Porcello back in 2012 started with this sentence: 'Pwnie Express is a cute name for this tiny (and easily hidden) group of Pen Test devices.' They have more tools now, including some they've released since we mentioned them and their (then) new Pwn Pad back in March, 2013. Now they're working with Kali Linux, a distro built especially for penetration testing (and formerly known as BackTrack). In this video we have Tim Lord chatting with Dave Porcello about recent Pwnie Express happenings at RSA 2014. (If you don't see the video below, please use this link.)
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v3rgEz writes "TV streaming service Aereo expected broadcasters would put up a fight. The startup may not have seen the Justice Department as a threat, however. The Justice Department has now weighed in, saying in a filing that it's siding with major broadcasters who accuse Aereo of stealing TV content. In its filing, the Justice Department noted it doesn't believe a win for broadcasters would dismantle the precedent that created the cloud computing industry, as Aereo has previously claimed. The case is expected to go before the Supreme Court in late April."
A while ago you had a chance to ask composer George Sanger about making music and sound effects for games, television, and film. Below you'll find "The Fat Man's" answers to those questions.
Nerval's Lobster writes "As founder and CEO of the Ouya (pronounced "OOO-yah") game company, Julie Uhrman's mission has been to lure gamers back to their living room televisions. Touch-screen gaming on a smartphone or tablet is nice, she suggests, but a big screen, coupled with the precision of a controller with buttons and analog sticks, offers the best platform for immersive, emotionally engaging experiences. Soon enough, though, you shouldn't need an Ouya console to play Ouya games. Later this week, Uhrman plans to announce 'Ouya Everywhere,' an initiative to bring Ouya games to television sets that aren't connected to Ouya hardware. As a company, Ouya remains vague about just how Ouya Everywhere will work; but in an interview with Slashdot, Uhrman provided a rough idea of what to expect: 'It could be another set-top [box],' she said. 'It could be the TV itself. There's a number of different ways that games can be played on the television, and we're actively exploring all of them.' To be clear, Ouya isn't getting out of the hardware business. The company has promised relatively frequent hardware refreshes, and already upgraded the original Ouya's controller to address early complaints. The next version of the Ouya hardware 'at a minimum will have a higher performing chipset,' she said. 'We have done a lot of work on our controller and we feel like there is even more work to do. Those are the two big things we're focused on.' But while her company builds hardware, Uhrman insists that Ouya is 'really a software company. The largest team inside Ouya is software engineers.' (Ouya has 49 employees, 19 of them engineers.) Ouya arrived with great fanfare in 2012, after a $950,000 Kickstarter campaign met its goal in just eight hours. The fundraiser ended up raising $8.6 million, and Kickstarter backers received their consoles in March 2013."
An anonymous reader sends this news from the University of Washington: "[C]omputer scientists have built a low-cost gesture recognition system that runs without batteries and lets users control their electronic devices hidden from sight with simple hand movements. The prototype, called 'AllSee,' uses existing TV signals as both a power source and the means for detecting a user's gesture command (PDF). 'This is the first gesture recognition system that can be implemented for less than a dollar and doesn't require a battery,' said Shyam Gollakota, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering. 'You can leverage TV signals both as a source of power and as a source of gesture recognition.' The researchers built a small sensor that can be placed on an electronic device such as a smartphone. The sensor uses an ultra-low-power receiver to extract and classify gesture information from wireless transmissions around us. When a person gestures with the hand, it changes the amplitude of the wireless signals in the air. The AllSee sensors then recognize unique amplitude changes created by specific gestures."
Tim Lord first saw Faraday Bicycles at CES, where their bikes drew plenty of attention and a fair amount of media interest. The company ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012, and 2014 is when they are starting to ship their pre-ordered bicycles and hope to get new orders for lots more. Tim's travels later took him to San Francisco, where he had a chance to visit the shop where Faraday bikes are made, and to talk with some of the people who are designing and making them. (If you don't see the video below, please use this link.)
We've mentioned several times the tension between giant streaming sources (especially Netflix), and ISPs (especially Comcast, especially given that it may merge with Time-Warner). Now, Marketwatch reports that Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast (amount undisclosed) for continued smooth access to Comcast's network customers, "a landmark agreement that could set a precedent for Netflix's dealings with other broadband providers, people familiar with the situation said." From the article: "In exchange for payment, Netflix will get direct access to Comcast's broadband network, the people said. The multiyear deal comes just 10 days after Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable TWC -0.79% Inc., which if approved would establish Comcast as by far the dominant provider of broadband in the U.S., serving 30 million households" I wonder how soon until ISPs' tiered pricing packages will become indistinguishable from those for cable TV, with grouped together services that vary not just in throughput or quality guarantees, but in what sites you can reach at each service level, or which sports teams are subject to a local blackout order.
sfcrazy writes "Amazon is all set to get Apple and Roku some serious competition with its own 'web-TV' or set-top box. According to reports, Amazon will be using Google's Android to build the box. Amazon already has a huge library of content (from Amazon Prime) which it can push to the living room through the box. Amazon, like Netflix, is also investing heavily in producing content to their own set-box. Amazon has also been hiring game developers and it won't be surprising if the company also dabbles into gaming." And while it may be only a rumor, the idea's got some reasonable legs: besides the content on Prime, Amazon has been making media-centric Android devices for a few years with its Kindle Fire line.
Slashgear reports that many state-run internet links in Venezuela have been shut down by that country's government, as censorship efforts there step up along with widespread turmoil, partly in the form of widespread anti-government protests. The article begins: "Don’t expect one whole heck of a lot of tweets coming out of Venezuela in the immediate future as President Nicolas Maduro’s government has shut down the internet and select TV channels. Having shut down Twitter access for the area this past week, Venezuela’s state-run ISP CANTV has been cut in areas such as San Cristobal. This area is a regional capital in the west of the country and CANTV controls the vast majority of internet connectivity in the area. The Electronic Frontier Foundation made note that Venezuelans working with several different ISPs lost all connectivity on Thursday of this past week. Users lost connectivity to the major content delivery network Edgecast and the IP address which provides access to Twitter’s image hosting service while another block stopped Venezuelan access to the text-based site Pastebin."
PolygamousRanchKid writes "The Khaleej Times of Dubai reports that a fatwa committee has forbidden Muslims from taking a one-way trip to the Red Planet. At the moment, there is no technology available that would allow for a return trip from Mars, so it is truly a one-way ticket for the colonists, who may also become reality TV stars in the process. The committee of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates that issued the fatwa against such a journey doesn't have anything against space exploration, Elon Musk's Mars visions, or anything like that. Rather, the religious leaders argue that making the trip would be tantamount to committing suicide, which all religions tend to frown upon."
Louis Suarez-Potts has been community manager for OpenOffice since it was sponsored by Sun Microsystems. He's still working with OpenOffice now that it's under the Apache Foundation umbrella. He also has a business going, along with several other long-time Free and Open Source boosters, called Age of Peers. They say it's "a collective forum for consultants, practitioners and boutique agencies, to collaborate on a bigger picture. We mix these ingredients in an organization built to foster collaboration, and harness creative cooperation into powerful new ideas." The company is focused on Open Source developers and companies, and often doesn't charge startups or individual developers for their services. They will be doing a live Google Hangout interview on March 5 that might give you some ideas about how to start, manage, and market an Open Source project -- even if you have no money to spend, which many people who have good ideas do not, at least when they get started. (Alternate video URL)
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Rachel Feltman reports that drones are being used to film ski and snowboarding events at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and unlike military drones, which often look like a remote-controlled airplane, the creature floating around Sochi resembles a huge flying spider. The legs of the flying spider hold the rotors that spin around to keep it airborne. The drone then has a flight deck that holds the flight control system with GPS for navigation, sensors and receivers. The camera can be mounted in the middle or suspended below the flight deck. A drone with mounted camera can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $37,000 for a top-of-the-line Ikarus from Britain's Heliguy, which is advising broadcast clients in Sochi on using drones. That compares with the cost of a few thousand dollars an hour to rent a helicopter with pilot, not including the camera crew and equipment. Cameraman Remo Masina says he can fly a drone at up to 40 mph while transmitting a high-definition, live image and says the chances of drone crashes are close to zero when a drone is handled by an experienced pilot, because the drones are programmed to return to base at the slightest problem — such as a low battery, rough winds or a malfunction. 'There have been mishaps, however. In one case last year, a drone filming an imitation version of Spain's running of the bulls in Virginia crashed and injured a few spectators.'"
This is a conversation with Jeff Whitehead and Lou Montulli, respectively Vice President of Technical Operations/CTO and Chief Scientist for Zetta.net, a company that specializes in online backup and disaster recovery service. Also, while this interview was arranged without his help, in the interest of full disclosure we'd like to tell you that Zetta's CEO is Ali Jenab, who used to be CEO of Slashdot's parent company. But this discussion isn't about Ali or Zetta.net, but about data backup, and what methods are best and most cost-effective for companies ranging from home-based businesses up to enterprise operations with thousands of employees. Among other things, we discussed the importance of multiple-site storage for important data, a factor that was drilled in to us yesterday by an article titled Another Iron Mountain Fire Points Up Shortcomings of Physical Storage by long-time tech journalist Sharon Fisher. And never forget: You don't know how effective your backup and data storage arrangements are until you try to retrieve your data -- and if you don't try to retrieve data until you need it, and things don't work, you are in big trouble. (Don't see the video? Here's a link.)
StartsWithABang writes "So unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware that it's only a few short weeks until the premiere of the new Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey starring Neil de Grasse Tyson. Many have hopes (and fears) concerning what the series will (and won't) be, but this perspective — on what a 'successful' Cosmos series could mean for the future of humanity — is worth a read for anyone who hasn't given up on dreaming big."
First time accepted submitter TBNZee writes "Mainstream TV has has for a long time under-served the sci-fi loving viewers, but with declining production costs there seem to be two potential sources of alternative production/distribution: digital content (e.g. Netflix, Hulu) and crowd funded projects. There's still not a lot of sci-fi shows that are being produced by the major streaming services, but we'll probably see more with the success of Hulu's exclusive U.S. distribution of Misfits or Netflix's success with Buffy and Doctor Who. On the other hand, you have many enthusiastic upstarts on Kickstarter that look novel and engaging, while having a surprisingly professional look to them. Which do you think will ultimately be more successful? Will either be able to replace network content?"
An anonymous reader writes "This NY Times articles makes the case that Comcast's planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable is part of a strategy to fight back against the millions of people ditching cable subscriptions. 'The acquisition rests on the assumption that as people cut back on their monthly TV plans, the cable lines coming into their homes won't lose their value.' The idea is that switching away from cable TV will simply make consumers more beholden to their internet connections, and removing (i.e. acquiring) the competition will let Comcast raise rates without losing customers. The article concludes, 'The steady price increases in broadband rates cast a pall over any cord cutter's dreams. It's possible that you might still save money now by cutting off your cable. But if you plan to watch a lot of TV over the Internet, don't expect to save money forever.'"
We have shown clips from FIRST Robotics Competitions before on Slashdot, with a concentration on the Dexter Dreadbots because they're the "home team" for Slashdot's home office in Michigan. Today we hear from team mentor Jennifer Bryson and watch as the team works on their 2014 competition robot. They need to have it finished by February 18, so they're in the home stretch of the robot-building task. The competition itself starts on February 28 and keeps going until the world championships are held during the last weekend in April. The Dreadbots did well last year. This year? Who knows. But win or lose, it's all For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, AKA FIRST, also AKA "The ultimate Sport for the Mind." And if you're not near Ann Arbor, MI, check for a FIRST competition near you. It's an international organization, so you're likely to find one -- and if you don't, perhaps you can help start a FIRST team where you live.And for those of you who don't see the video below, here's a link to it.
At CES and other big trade shows, small companies and start-ups are often overshadowed by industry giants whose huge promotional budgets let them dominate a show's exhibit area. In this video, Tim Lord asked the spokespeople for five small companies exhibiting at CES whose products interested him to give one-minute presentations about their products. So take a quick look at the ZeroHour USB "tactical grade" battery backup flashlight; MadeSolid, a 3-D printing material company; TangoPC, "the world’s most powerful Pocketable, Officeable, Entertainmentable, Gameable, Windowsable, Linuxable PC; Google Glass competitor GlassUp; and DoorBot, "the doorbell for smartphones," which was featured on the ABC TV show Shark Tank in November, 2013. DoorBot got no investment from the "sharks," but managed to raise $1 million from "traditional technology investors." DoorBot's fundraising success aside, today's video is about companies that are unlikely to get much coverage from "mainstream" news channels that cover CES. If you don't see the video (probably because you're enjoying the thrill of Slashdot Beta), you can view it here.
theodp writes "You wouldn't select Linus Torvalds to be the public face for the 'Year of Basketball.' So, why tap someone who doesn't code to be the face of 'The Year of Code'? Slate's Lily Hay Newman reports on the UK's Year of Code initiative to promote interest in programming and train teachers, which launched last week with a Director who freely admits that she doesn't know how to code. "I'm going to put my cards on the table," Lottie Dexter told Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman on national TV. I've committed this year to learning to code...so over this year I'm going to see exactly what I can achieve. So who knows, I might be the next Zuckerberg." "You can always dream," quipped the curmudgeonly Paxman, who was also unimpressed with Dexter's argument that the national initiative could teach people to make virtual birthday cards, an example straight out of Mark Zuckerberg's Hour of Code playbook (coming soon to the UK). Back in the States, YouTube chief and Hour of Code headliner Susan Wojcicki — one of many non-coder Code.org spokespersons — can be seen on YouTube fumbling for words to answer a little girl's straightforward question, "What is one way you apply Computer Science to your job at Google?". While it's understandable that companies and tech leaders probably couldn't make CS education "an issue like climate change" (for better or worse) without embracing politicians and celebrities, it'd be nice if they'd at least showcase a few more real-life coders in their campaigns."
An anonymous reader writes "My boyhood hero, actor Leonard Nimoy, has developed lung disease. To those still smoking and in the grips of marketing induced denial, he says 'quit now.' Small acts of goodness make the universe a better place."