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Android Malware Pretends To Be WhatsApp, Uber and Google Play

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 19:20
Reader itwbennett writes: Security vendor FireEye said on Tuesday that malware that can spoof the user interfaces of Uber, WhatsApp and Google Play has been spreading through a phishing campaign over SMS. Once downloaded, the malware, which has struck Android users in Denmark, Italy and Germany, will create fake user interfaces on the phone as an 'overlay 's top of real apps. These interfaces ask for credit card information and then send the entered data to the hacker.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Microsoft Is Giving Students a Free Xbox One With Surface Pro 4 Purchases

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 19:00
Microsoft on Wednesday announced a sweet deal for any student on the fence on purchasing the Surface Pro 4. The company has said that it will be taking $300 off when students purchase a Surface Pro 4 and Xbox One. In a statement to The Verge, Terry Myerson, head of Windows and devices at Microsoft said, "So basically a free Xbox One with the purchase of a Surface Pro 4." The deal is only running at Microsoft's retail stores in the United States. The deal goes live today and will last until August 14.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Europe's 'Net Neutrality' Rules Fail to Ban BitTorrent Throttling

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 18:40
Europe has finally agreed on a set of net neutrality rules. According to a report on TorrentFreak, these rules offer improvements for some individual members states, various activist groups and experts. But the current language would also allow ISPs to throttle BitTorrent traffic permanently if that would optimize overall "transmission quality." From the report (edited):"Europe's new net-neutrality rules should ban throttling BitTorrent, but they don't. They leave ISPs a loophole," said Holmes Wilson of Fight for the Future (FFTF), one of the driving forces behind the Save Net Neutrality campaign. "ISPs can say they're doing it for 'traffic management' purposes -- even when their networks aren't clogged, because the rules say they can throttle to 'prevent impending network congestion,'" he adds. In addition to file-sharing traffic, the proposed rules also allow Internet providers to interfere with encrypted traffic including VPN connections. Since encrypted traffic can't be classified through deep packet inspection, ISPs may choose to de-prioritize it altogether. In theory, ISPs may choose to throttle any type of traffic they want, as long as they frame it as a network congestion risk. "So if your ISP is lazy, or wants to cut corners and save money, they can throttle BitTorrent, or VPNs, or Bitcoin, or Tor, or any class of traffic they can identify," Wilson says.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Satya Nadella Explores How Humans and AI Can Work Together To Solve Society's Greatest Challenges

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 18:00
In an op-ed for Slate, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has shared his views on AI, and how humans could work together with this nascent technology to do great things. Nadella feels that humans and machines can work together to address society's greatest challenges, including diseases and poverty. But he admits that this will require "a bold and ambition approach that goes beyond anything that can be achieved through incremental improvements to current technology," he wrote. You can read the long essay here. GeekWire has summarized the principles and goals postulated by Nadella. From the article:AI must be designed to assist humanity. AI must be transparent.AI must maximize efficiencies without destroying the dignity of people.AI must be designed for intelligent privacy. AI needs algorithmic accountability so humans can undo unintended harm.AI must guard against bias.It's critical for humans to have empathy.It's critical for humans to have education.The need for human creativity won't change.A human has to be ultimately accountable for the outcome of a computer-generated diagnosis or decision.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Istanbul Attack: A Grim Reminder Of Why Airports Are Easy Targets

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 17:20
An anonymous reader shares a FirstPost article:Even as I write this the echo of gunfire continues at Ataturk International Airport. For reasons that defy logic, Istanbul's main airport has always been seen as a vulnerable target which only underscores the fact that all airports in the world are open to attack and fail-safe is not a viable option. At Ataturk, security is usually high, but the weak underbelly lies in vehicular traffic entering the airport being given cursory checks, pretty much like most airports which is why President Erdogan was able to say this sort of attack could have occurred anywhere. That is true. Airports are easy targets. That even though Turkey was aware of the chinks nothing much was done to up the security levels. If you take Delhi International as a prime example, the access to the terminal is scarcely blockaded and one can reach the entry points with ease, crossing a couple of indolent checkpoints and a roller fence. (Editor's note: the article has been written by an Indian author, and so he uses an Indian airport as an example.) Indian airports are as porous as a sponge. Most of our airports are red-starred which places them in the inadequate category. Add to that the fact that several thousand VIPs are given privileges that make a pudding out of security and it indicates how easy peasy it would be to amble up to the terminal entrance. The weakness primarily lies in the absence of X-Rays and deterrent technology on approach. You practically can check in and get to immigration before being cleared for hazardous material.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Windows 10 Anniversary Update To Roll Out On August 2

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 16:40
Windows 10's first major update -- dubbed Anniversary Update -- will be released to users on August 2, according to a blog post published by Microsoft (Archive link). The company presumably posted the blog post ahead of the original publication plans, and as a result, quickly pulled the story. Windows 10 Anniversary Update will bring with it a number of major changes including extensions to Edge, and improvements to Cortana and Hello biometric feature. It will also mark the end of the one-year free Windows 10 update offer for Windows 7 and Windows 8.x users.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Google Found Disastrous Symantec and Norton Vulnerabilities That Are 'As Bad As It Gets'

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 16:00
Google's Project Zero team has discovered a heap of critical vulnerabilities in Symantec and Norton security products. The flaws, the team says, allow hackers to completely compromise people's machines by simply sending them malicious self-replicating code through unopened emails or un-clicked links. According to a Fortune report, the vulnerabilities affect millions of people who run the company's endpoint security and antivirus software -- all 17 enterprise products (Symantec brand) and eight consumer and small business products (Norton brand). Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica:The flaws reside in the engine the products use to reverse the compression tools malware developers use to conceal their malicious payloads. The unpackers work by parsing code contained in files before they're allowed to be downloaded or executed. Because Symantec runs the unpackers directly in the operating system kernel, errors can allow attackers to gain complete control over the vulnerable machine. Tavis Ormandy, a researcher with Google's Project Zero, said a better design would be for unpackers to run in a security "sandbox," which isolates untrusted code from sensitive parts of an operating system.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Clinton Tech Plan Reads Like Silicon Valley Wish List

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 15:00
theodp writes from a report via USA Today: "If there was any lingering doubt as to tech's favored presidential candidate," writes USA Today's Jon Swartz, "Hillary Clinton put an end to that Tuesday with a tech plan that reads like a Silicon Valley wish list. It calls for connecting every U.S. household to high-speed internet by 2020, reducing regulatory barriers and supporting Net neutrality rules, [which ban internet providers from blocking or slowing content.] It proposes investments in computer science and engineering education ("engage the private sector and nonprofits to train up to 50,000 computer science teachers in the next decade"), expansion of 5G mobile data, making inexpensive Wi-Fi available at more airports and train stations, and attaching a green card to the diplomas of foreign-born students earning STEM degrees." dcblogs shares with us a report from Computerworld that specifically discusses Clinton's support of green cards for foreign students who earn STEM degrees: As president, Hillary Clinton will support automatic green cards, or permanent residency, for foreign students who earn advanced STEM degrees. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, wants the U.S. to "staple" green cards on the diplomas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) masters and PhD graduates "from accredited institutions." Clinton outlined her plan in a broader tech policy agenda released today. Clinton's "staple" idea isn't new. It's what Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate in 2012, supported. It has had bipartisan support in Congress. But the staple idea is controversial. Critics will say this provision will be hard to control, will foster age discrimination, and put pressure on IT wages.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Analyze This

The Daily WTF - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 12:30

When asked to choose among several possible tools to do a job, qualified technical people look at the manual and test to see if the tool actually does what they need it to do. Is it reasonably configurable? Must it have root privilege to launch, or can it be installed as your application login id? Smarter folks will do a load test to see if it will scale beyond a handful of records and work with the expected volumes of data. And all of this will be combined to form an informed opinion as to whether the tool is appropriate for the task at hand.

High Level Managers have a different approach. They are too busy to deal with mere technical details.

After numerous outages at a large multi-national bank, a high level manager decided that they needed to do something to stabilize things, so he put together numerous charts to compare the various software packages that were available to automate solving their problems. There were slide shows, spreadsheets and myriad documents detailing how one tool was better than the others and that it would solve all of their problems.

The only problem with his analysis was that it was not based upon actual features or testing, but on the sales brochures and promises made by the salesman.

Not to let the facts get in the way of managing a problem, several suitcases of money were provisioned and turned over to the salesman in exchange for a full all-bells-and-whistles site license for the new tool. The new tool was brought in house and ran through a few simple test cases. Then it went live in production. Then it hit the fan.

Bob was brought in to see why their applications were crashing in spite of their shiny new be-all end-all tool.

Queries that should have completed in milliseconds took several minutes to complete. The tool was sucking up 80GB of memory just to launch in basic mode. And we're not even going to go into how the tool mistook email addresses for websites it had to crawl.

The manager, realizing that the salesman had lied to him, had to deal with the spilled milk, and opted to forge ahead at all costs.

Bob created a web app that alleviated the worst problems by pre-massaging input and query results. He could not push away a gnawing suspicion that he was merely repairing damage rather than adding actual value to the company.

After about a year of this, the manager committed to drastic changes in the work processes. When Bob learned about this, he asked them if they'd even done rough, back-of-napkin estimations of the expected manual workload in the changed process; after all, they already had a wealth of data from the past year and estimations surely could be done given the new process was specified in substantial detail. After all, they had gotten burned on their 'analysis' of the product they bought to solve all the instability. He was met with blank stares.

The new process was put in place and the amount of manual work tripled overnight.

Bob put in a lot of overtime trying to fight all manner of fires. Still, he was only partially successful, as the task of developing an app to totally fix the situation for a huge and complex package on top of a pretty complex work process was out of the question for a single developer.

After many, many months of this ongoing failure, the manager who started all of this had analysed the cause of the all of problems. The entire team was called in by the manager to a meeting. As could be expected, it was announced that the productivity was deemed too low while the risk and cost were too high, and so the entire team; analysts, lower level managers and Bob were laid off.

The manager was promoted for recognizing the cause of the failures and was given more responsibility to oversee other projects in addition to his own.

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Categories: Fun/Other

Study: 78% of Resold Drives Still Contain Readable Personal or Business Data

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 12:00
itwbennett writes: Blancco Technology Group, which specializes in data erasure, bought 200 secondhand PC storage drives (PDF) from eBay and Craigslist to see if they could recover any of the old data saved inside. Their findings: 78 percent of the drives contained residual data that could be recovered, 67 percent still held personal files, such as photos with location indicators, resumes and financial data, and 11 percent of the drives also contained company data, such as emails, spreadsheets and customer information. Only 10 percent had all the data securely wiped, Blancco said. The Consumerist points out that Blancco makes their money from promising secure data erasure, so the company has a "strong and vested interest in these results." As for why so many of the drives contain unwanted information, the report says it has to do with the difference between "deleting" data and "erasing" data. Your files aren't actually deleted when you drag them to the Trash or Recycle Bin, or by using the delete key -- shocking, I know. You can format a drive to erase the data, but you have to be careful of the format commands being used. A quick format, which was used on 40% of the drives in the sample, still leaves some residual data on the drive for someone to possibly access. A full format, which was used on 14% of the drives, will do a better job in removing unwanted files, but it too may still miss some crucial information. The solution Blancco recommends: buy a tool to perform complete data erasure.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

Google Is Testing Its Own Internet Speed Test In Search Results

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 09:00
An anonymous reader writes: Everyone appears to have a speed test of their own nowadays. Netflix launched fast.com more than a month ago; SourceForge released their new HTML5 speed test soon after. Google appears to want a piece of the action as they are trying out a way for people to check their internet speed by simply typing "check internet speed" into search. The tests are performed by Google's Measurement Lab tools, and were first spotted by Pete Meyers, who posted a screenshot of the feature and discovered a Google Support webpage detailing how it works. The feature has not been widely released yet, but it's possible we'll see it made more widely available soon.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

The Moral Dilemma of Driverless Cars: Save The Driver or Save The Crowd?

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 05:30
HughPickens.com writes: What should a driverless car with one rider do if it is faced with the choice of swerving off the road into a tree or hitting a crowd of 10 pedestrians? The answer depends on whether you are the rider in the car or someone else is, writes Peter Dizikes at MIT News. According to recent research most people prefer autonomous vehicles to minimize casualties in situations of extreme danger -- except for the vehicles they would be riding in. "Most people want to live in in a world where cars will minimize casualties," says Iyad Rahwan. "But everybody wants their own car to protect them at all costs." The result is what the researchers call a "social dilemma," in which people could end up making conditions less safe for everyone by acting in their own self-interest. "If everybody does that, then we would end up in a tragedy whereby the cars will not minimize casualties," says Rahwan. Researchers conducted six surveys, using the online Mechanical Turk public-opinion tool, between June 2015 and November 2015. The results consistently showed that people will take a utilitarian approach to the ethics of autonomous vehicles, one emphasizing the sheer number of lives that could be saved. For instance, 76 percent of respondents believe it is more moral for an autonomous vehicle, should such a circumstance arise, to sacrifice one passenger rather than 10 pedestrians. But the surveys also revealed a lack of enthusiasm for buying or using a driverless car programmed to avoid pedestrians at the expense of its own passengers. "This is a challenge that should be on the mind of carmakers and regulators alike," the researchers write. "For the time being, there seems to be no easy way to design algorithms that would reconcile moral values and personal self-interest."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Volkswagen Agrees To Record $14.7B Settlement Over Emissions Cheating

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 03:25
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: Volkswagen's deliberate cheating on emissions tests will cost it a record $14.7 billion. And that's just the start of its problems. The settlement is only a preliminary step in the case; the automaker still faces possible criminal charges, as well as civil penalties for Clean Air Act violations. The Department of Justice is investigating possible criminal charges against both the company and individuals, said Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. Up to $10 billion of the funds will be paid out to owners of the 487,000 affected diesel cars in the U.S., sold under the VW or luxury Audi brands. How much an owner gets will depend on whether an owner chooses to fix their car or just have VW buy it back -- they have until May 2018 to decide. Repurchasing the cars will cost VW between $12,500 to $44,000 per car. The $14.7 billion settlement estimate assumes that all the cars are repurchased. Owners who elect to get their vehicles fixed will also get a cash payment of between $5,100 and $10,000 to compensate them for the lost value of the cars, as well as for Volkswagen's deceptive promise of "clean diesel." Most of the buyers paid extra for a car with a diesel engine. In addition to the customer payments, Volkswagen will pay $2.7 billion for environmental cleanup and $2 billion to promote zero-emission vehicles. The clean up money will be used by individual states to cut other diesel emissions by replacing older, government-owned trucks, buses and other diesel engines now in use. Volkswagen is betting big on electric vehicles after this emissions scandal. It plans to deliver 30 electric plug-in models by 2025.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Tesla Owner Makes 'Solid Metal Snake' Self-Charging System That Elon Musk Promised

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 02:45
An anonymous reader writes: Nearly two years ago, Elon Musk teased us with a robotic snake that would automatically plug-in and charge your Model S. Well, many months have passed and there has yet to be an official "solid metal snake" available for Tesla owners. So, one Tesla owner decided to make his own autonomous charging station, as spotted by Electrek, that will automatically guide the Model S's charging cable into the waiting receptacle with no human intervention required. The inventor Deepak Mital posted a video showing how it works, and while it's incredibly slow, it does work. Compared to the demo video of the system teased by Elon Musk last year, this version appears much less threatening. Mital calls it the "Evtron," which is controlled with a Raspberry Pi and swings from one side to another before sliding forward to make the connection with the car.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Florida Man Sues Apple For $10+ Billion, Says He Invented iPhone Before Apple

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 02:05
An anonymous reader writes from a report via MacRumors: A Florida resident that goes by the name of Thomas S. Ross has filed a lawsuit against Apple this week, claiming that the iPhone, iPad, and iPod infringe upon his 1992 invention of a hand-drawn "Electronic Reading Device" (ERD). The court filing claims the plaintiff was "first to file a device so designed and aggregated," nearly 15 years before the first iPhone. MacRumors reports: "Between May 23, 1992 and September 10, 1992, Ross designed three hand-drawn technical drawings of the device, primarily consisting of flat rectangular panels with rounded corners that "embodied a fusion of design and function in a way that never existed prior to 1992." Ross applied for a utility patent to protect his invention in November 1992, but the application was declared abandoned in April 1995 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after he failed to pay the required application fees. He also filed to copyright his technical drawings with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2014. While the plaintiff claims that he continues to experience "great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money," he has demanded a jury trial and is seeking restitution no less than $10 billion and a royalty of up to 1.5% on Apple's worldwide sales of infringing devices." MacRumors commenter Sunday Ironfoot suggests this story may be "The mother of all 'Florida Man' stories." Apple has been awarded a patent today that prohibits smartphone users from taking photos and videos at concerts, movies theaters and other events where people tend to ignore such restrictions.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

RIP Xbox Fitness: Users Will Soon Lose Access To Workout Videos They Bought

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 01:25
insitus quotes a report from Ars Technica: Xbox users who purchased training videos through the Xbox Fitness app probably thought they were buying a workout program they'd be able to use regularly for the life of the Xbox One, at the very least. Instead, those videos will soon be completely unavailable to those who paid for them up front, according to a "sunset" plan announced by Microsoft yesterday evening. Xbox Fitness first launched in late 2013 with the console, offering a Kinect-powered health app that uses the 3D camera to evaluate users' form as they perform the exercises demoed by on-screen video trainers. The app, which provided 30 basic routines for free with an Xbox Live Gold account, will be coming to an end on December 15. The paid content associated with the app will also no longer be available for purchase, and those who purchased it previously will be able to use it for over one more year before the app becomes completely unavailable to download or use on July 1, 2017. What some have found especially upsetting with the news is that Microsoft has yet to announce any plans to compensate users who have paid for content or to provide downloadable versions of paid workouts that can be used after the phase-out date. Thus, many upset users have taken to the sunset announcement post and various other outlets to speak their mind on the situation. "I bought 140$+ worth of content just this year... I don't want a refund, I want to be able to continue to use what I PAID for !!!!!!!!!!!" Xbox Live user QuickSilver wrote.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

DoNotPay Bot Has Beaten 160,000 Traffic Tickets -- and Counting

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 00:45
Khari Johnson, writing for VentureBeat:A bot made to challenge traffic tickets has been used more than 9,000 times by New Yorkers, according to DoNotPay maker Joshua Browder. The bot was made available to New Yorkers in March. In recent years and decades, residents of The Big Apple have seen a persistent increase in traffic fines. A record $1.9 billion in traffic fines was issued by the City of New York in 2015. Since the first version of the bot was released in London last fall, 160,000 of 250,000 tickets have been successfully challenged with DoNotPay, Browder said. "I think the people getting parking tickets are the most vulnerable in society," said Browder. "These people aren't looking to break the law. I think they're being exploited as a revenue source by the local government." Browder, who's 19, hopes to extend DoNotPay to Seattle this fall.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

Micro-Camera Can Be Injected With A Syringe -- May Pose Surveillance Concerns

Slashdot - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 00:05
Taco Cowboy quotes a report from ABC Online: German engineers have created a camera no bigger than a grain of salt that could change the future of health imaging -- and clandestine surveillance. Using 3D printing, researchers from the University of Stuttgart built a three-lens camera, and fit it onto the end of an optical fiber the width of two hairs. Such technology could be used as minimally-intrusive endoscopes for exploring inside the human body, the engineers reported in the journal Nature Photonics. The compound lens of the camera is just 100 micrometers (0.1 millimeters) wide, and 120 micrometers with its casing. It could also be deployed in virtually invisible security monitors, or mini-robots with "autonomous vision." The compound lens can also be printed onto image sensor other than optical fibers, such as those used in digital cameras. The researchers said it only took a few hours to design, manufacture and test the camera, which yielded "high optical performances and tremendous compactness." They believe the 3D printing method -- used to create the camera -- may represent "a paradigm shift."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Researchers Find Game-Changing Helium Reserve In Tanzania

Slashdot - Tue, 06/28/2016 - 23:25
An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNN: Helium is an incredibly important element that is used in everything from party balloons to MRI machines -- it's even used for nuclear power. For many years, there have been global shortages of the element. For example, Tokyo Disneyland once had to suspend sales of its helium balloons due to the shortages. The shortages are expected to come to an end now that researchers from Oxford and Durham universities have discovered a "world-class" helium gas field in Tanzania's East African Rift Valley. They estimate that just one part of the reserve in Tanzania could be as large as 54 billion cubic feet (BCf), which is enough to fill more than 1.2 million medical MRI scanners. "To put this discovery into perspective, global consumption of helium is about 8 billion cubic feet (BCf) per year and the United States Federal Helium Reserve, which is the world's largest supplier, has a current reserve of just 24.2 BCf," said University of Oxford's Chris Ballentine, a professor with the Department of Earth Sciences. "Total known reserves in the USA are around 153 BCf. This is a game-changer for the future security of society's helium needs and similar finds in the future may not be far away," Ballentine added.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

Apple Patents a Way To Keep People From Filming At Concerts and Movie Theaters

Slashdot - Tue, 06/28/2016 - 22:45
An anonymous reader writes: Apple has patented a system that prohibits smartphone users from taking photos and videos at concerts, movie theaters and other events where people tend to ignore such restrictions. The patent has been award to Apple today and was first spotted by Patently Apple. QZ reports: "It outlines a system which would allow venues to use an infrared emitter to remotely disable the camera function on smartphones. According to the patent, infrared beams could be picked up by the camera, and interpreted by the smartphone as a command to block the user from taking any photos or videos of whatever they're seeing. The patent also outlines ways that infrared blasters could actually improve someone's experience at a venue. For example, the beams could be used to send information to museum-goers by pointing a smartphone camera at a blaster placed next to a piece of art." The report also mentions that the patent could in theory be used to help police limit smartphone filming of acts of brutality, or help a government shut off filming in certain locations. Last week, SlashGear reported that Alicia Keys is the latest musician to ban cellphones at her events.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

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