Category Archives: Gadget News, Reviews, And Features

China’s government-backed operating system should hit desktops in October

HTC tablet running China OS

China’s next try at a government-supported operating system may soon become a practical reality. The Chinese Academy of Engineering tells the People’s Post that a desktop version of China Operating System (COS) should be ready by October, with mobile device support coming later. That’s pretty quick considering that we first heard about the software in January, although there’s a chance it could slip. Xinhua claims that the project is suffering from both a lack of funding and developers “pulling in different directions” — not totally surprising if true, since it’s the work of a public-private alliance that might not always share the same vision.

Still, the team is optimistic that its efforts will eventually bear fruit; it believes COS could replace existing desktop operating systems within two years, and their mobile counterparts within three to five. It may have a realistic shot at this when the Chinese government has lately been giving both Apple and Microsoft platforms the boot in response to fears about American surveillance. However, that could still be a daunting task in at least some situations. Right now, the Chinese smartphone market is dominated by Android devices, many of which come from local manufacturers like Xiaomi. There isn’t exactly a rush to replace Google’s platform with something brand new, no matter how well-made it might be.

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Data breaches compromised the info of US undercover investigators

A participate at the Chaos Computer Club's event in late 2013

Data theft is normally pretty bad all on its own, but a recent breach at US Investigations Services (a background check company) may have created some extra-strong headaches for the US government. Reuters understands that the intrusion exposed personal information of 25,000-plus Department of Homeland Security workers, including “some undercover investigators.” There’s no certainty that the attackers stole those agents’ information, but there’s a real chance that their identities are out in the wild — a big problem if suspects can double-check identities and avoid getting caught. The concern is exacerbated by the nature of the attack, which USIS believes might have been “state-sponsored.”

The potential for future damage is limited. Homeland Security has frozen its work with USIS for the next while, and the FBI is already investigating what went wrong. Until it’s clear just what happened and who’s at risk, though, there are going to be a lot of nervous officials — they won’t necessarily know which new hires they can trust.

[Image credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

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HTC’s first tablet in years pops up in a trade group filing

HTC One M8 in gold

HTC hinted that it would get back into tablets this year, and there have been detailed rumors covering the effort. However, tangible evidence of that hardware has been hard to come by — until now, that is. The Wi-Fi Alliance has certified the “Flounder,” a tablet that would run Google’s upcoming Android L. While the listing doesn’t say much by itself, the model numbers match those in an @upleaks post mentioning that there would be a WiFi-only model as well as LTE variants for both the world at large and American CDMA carriers (think Sprint or Verizon). These tidbits don’t confirm many of the other rumored aspects of the slate, such as the 8.9-inch display, Tegra K1 processor or Nexus badging. However, they at least suggest that HTC is close to releasing its first tablet since 2011’s Flyer — if you’ve spent years hoping for a follow-up device, you may well get your wish.

HTC's first tablet in years pops up ina

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Android L


Google Android L thumbnail image

Google Android L

    1. 0

      What Are Your Thoughts on Android

      What Are Your Thoughts on Android “L”?

    2. 7

      A preview of Android 'L' is available for download! Share your impressions

      A preview of Android ‘L’ is available for download! Share your impressions

    3. 0

      One plus one will be getting Android L update

      One plus one will be getting Android L update

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    Street View cars used to sniff out gas leaks, plots ’em on a map


    Gas leaks are huge trouble. Leaky pipes are not only prone to exploding (which is already terrible, of course), they also spew out methane — a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change. The bad news is, nobody’s been monitoring gas leaks closely, so Google Earth Outreach and the Environmental Defense Fund teamed up to do the job back in July. Now, the results for the project’s pilot tests are out, and they confirm what everyone suspects: old gas pipes do leak a lot more than new ones. In order to effectively survey large areas, the pair attached methane-detecting sensors to Google’s famous roving vehicles: Street View cars. They then sent these dual-purpose vehicles to Boston, Indianapolis and Staten Island, whose results you can see in the images after the break.

    The pair’s already working with gas companies and their regulators in hopes that these findings will help them prioritize repairs. That doesn’t mean they’re already done, though: EDF and Google plan to unleash even more methane-sniffing Street View cars to other cities in the coming months.

    Boston (where the Street View car found a leak almost every mile):

    Staten Island:

    Indianapolis (where the gas pipes are obviously new):

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    Google buys design firm behind OLPC and Slingbox

    Man, Google’s checkbook is really getting a workout this summer. According to a report from Bloomberg, the search giant just acquired yet another company, and unlike the other two companies it bought this month, it isn’t an mobile app startup No, no: its latest target is a small product design firm called Gecko, and Google’s looking to bring those design smarts to bear on its ambitious Google X projects.

    You might not heard of Gecko, but you’ve almost certainly come across one of the products they’ve helped design. There’s the original Fitbit, for one, to say nothing of Jawbone’s early Bluetooth headsets, the friendly looking One Laptop Per Child notebook and a whole host of Dell PCs over the years. Gecko’s technical bonafides and awfully pretty designs seem almost beyond question, but what’s still unclear is what projects Gecko will start (or has already started) pitching in on. There are some we could probably cross off the list, though: Google’s internet-beaming balloons might not need a facelift, and there isn’t a lot you can do to gussy up a pair of smart contact lenses. Gecko’s forté lays in consumer tech design – perhaps the next big Google Glass revision (which the folks in Mountain View have been trying to inject with style for a while now) will look like something people will actually want to wear.

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    US officials say monkey selfies can’t be copyrighted (because it had to be said)

    Here’s a friendly tip for all wildlife photographers out there: don’t let mischievous monkeys (and other jungle animals) push the shutter in your stead. The U.S. Copyright Office just released a new public draft of its compendium of practices, and in it, the agency clearly states that it will only recognize original works created by a human being. This new section’s first example of works it cannot register? “A photograph taken by a monkey,” alluding to the controversial simian selfies that took the internet by storm weeks ago. People have been debating whether photographer David Slater actually owned the right to those images (a couple of which you can see above) since the black crested macaque used the equipment he set up. Slater even made plans to bring Wikipedia to court for refusing to take those pictures off the website, which he claims has been robbing him of much-needed royalties.

    Aside from monkey selfies, the agency also won’t grant copyright protection to murals painted by elephants, driftwood sculpted by the ocean and songs allegedly composed by the Holy Spirit. You can also add paintings, sculptures, tapestries, etc. created by machines without human input to the list… which is likely a necessary addition due to all the Picasso-bots popping up these days.

    [Image credit: David Slater/Wikimedia 1, 2]

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