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Amazon's Alexa Virtual Assistant Can Now Order Millions of Prime Products For You ( 57

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: Amazon added a new skill for its voice assistant Alexa on Friday, and it could help the e-commerce giant add even more revenue to its already billions in yearly sales from selling everything from toilet paper to toothpaste. With today's update, now you can tell Alexa you want to buy any one of its tens of millions of items that are sold on Amazon. The one caveat is that the item must be a Prime product, meaning it is fulfilled by Amazon and can be shipped to shopper's doorsteps within two days or less. So if your daughter or son wants a Elsa doll from Disney's Frozen movie, you simply ask, "Alexa, please order the Elsa doll from Frozen," and Alexa will suggest a toy that fits that description. You then say "yes" to continue the transaction, and Alexa will take care of charging your credit card, and shipping the product to your home. Quartz posted a story in early June in which it documents several concerns from parents that Amazon Echo is conditioning the kids of this generation to be rude.
Classic Games (Games)

Mattel Sells Out Of 'Game Developer Barbie' ( 224

Long-time Slashdot reader sandbagger writes: The Mattel people have released a new Barbie doll figurine touted as Game Developer Barbie. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, she was apparently designed by a game developer.
It's already sold out on Mattel's web site, with CNET saying it provides a better role model than a 2014 book In which "computer engineer" Barbie designed a cute game about puppies, then admitted "I'll need Steven's and Brian's help to turn it into a real game," before her laptop crashed with a virus. Mattel says that with this new doll, "young techies can play out the creative fun of this exciting profession," and the doll even comes with a laptop showing an IDE on the screen. Sandbagger's original submission ended with a question. Do Slashdot readers think this will inspire a new generation of programmers to stay up late writing code?

Obama Finally Ditches BlackBerry, Switches To Samsung Galaxy S4 ( 138

Obama has finally been able to ditch his BlackBerry handset, something which he was stuck with for more than six years. Mr. President appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and told the audience that it was only this year that he was able to get a real smartphone. There's one caveat, though. The Android smartphone Obama has gotten is a "hardened" version, with pretty much all the unrequired features removed from it. Laughing with the audience, Obama said, the phone feels like the fake toy handset kids play with. ArsTechnica, citing documentations, claim that Obama is using a Samsung Galaxy S4 (a phone that was released in 2013), as it is the only smartphone currently supported by the Defense Information Systems Agency. From the report: The S4 is currently the only device supported under DISA's DOD Mobility Classified Capability-Secret (DMCC-S) program. In 2014, a number of Samsung devices were the first to win approval from the National Security Agency under its National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) program -- largely because of Samsung's KNOX security technology. And the S4, layered with services managed by DISA, is the first commercial phone to get approval to connect to the Secret classified DOD SIPRNet network. DISA has been working with vendors and the National Security Agency's Information Assurance Directorate to develop a Top Secret-capable mobile device for use by the Defense Department and the national leadership both on the move and within secure facilities. But currently, the highest level of classification that can be handled by commercial devices under the DMCC program is at the Secret level. Secretary of State John Kerry was a DMCC-S early adopter, and he served as a beta tester of the hardened Galaxy S4.

US Toy Maker Maisto's Website Pushes Ransomware ( 26

An anonymous reader shares a PCWorld article: Attackers are aggressively pushing a new file-encrypting ransomware program called CryptXXX by compromising websites, the latest victim being U.S. toy maker Maisto. Fortunately, there's a tool that can help users decrypt CryptXXX affected files for free. Security researchers from Malwarebytes reported Thursday that was infected with malicious JavaScript that loaded the Angler exploit kit. This is a Web-based attack tool that installs malware on users' computers by exploiting vulnerabilities in their browser plug-ins. It also steals bitcoins from local wallets, a double hit to victims, because it then asks for the equivalent of $500 in bitcoins in order to decrypt their files. [...] Researchers from antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab recently updated their ransomware decryption toolto add support for CryptXXX affected files. The attack code exploits vulnerabilities in older versions of applications such as Flash, Java, Internet Explorer, and Silverlight. At this point, it isn't clear exactly how many users are affected.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Drone Believed To Have Hit British Airways Flight 'May Have Been a Plastic Bag' ( 120

Reader schwit1 writes: The drone that reportedly hit a British Airways jet earlier this week may have actually been a plastic bag, a minister has said. Transport minister Robert Goodwill admitted authorities had not yet confirmed whether what struck the Airbus A320 was a remote-controlled device. The collision on Sunday night is believed to have been at around 1,700 ft near Richmond Park in south west London, over four times higher than the legal height limit. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating, alongside the Metropolitan Police. But following his comments today, Mr Goodwill also dismissed calls for tighter rules on drone use to protect against terror threats insisting current rules governing drone use were strong enough.From a Quartz report: Motherboard's Jason Koebler dove into the data the FAA released last August dove into the data the FAA released last August, and found that, among other things, "a 'large vulture,' a 'fast moving gray object,' a 'mini blimp,' a 'red UAS or balloon,' and 'a UFO' were all classified as drones in the FAA's report." This led him to decide that, when it comes to verifiable sightings -- even from trained pilots -- "drones are the new UFOs."

People Often Deride Game Changing Technology as 'a Toy' ( 282

Steven Sinofsky, former President of the Windows Division at Microsoft, has cataloged how often game-changing technologies have been derided as toys. Some of the things he has included in the list include a PC, C programming, PC networking, GUI, color screen, AI, and internet video. He writes: As many have recognized, when inventions and innovations first appear they are often (always) labeled as "toys" or "incapable" of doing "real work" or providing "real entertainment." Of course, many new inventions don't work out the way inventors had hoped, though quite frequently it is just a matter of timing and the coming together of a variety of circumstances. It can be said that being labeled a toy is necessary, but not sufficient, to become the next big thing. This got me thinking about all the conferences, trip reports, and new products I have looked at over many years. Sure turns out that a huge number of things in my own career were labeled as toys -- not just by me, but by an industry at large. Check out the list on Medium.

Oklahoma Video Vigilante Uses Drone To Wage War Against Prostitutes and Johns ( 339 writes: Chris Baraniuk writes at BBC that Brian Bates, known in Oklahoma as the "Video Vigilante," is taking credit for Amanda Zolicoffer's conviction on a lewdness charge after being caught on Bates' drone mounted camera in a sex act in a parked vehicle last year. Zolicoffer was sentenced to a year in state prison for the misdemeanor while the case against her alleged client, who was released following arrest in December, is still pending. "I'm sort of known in the Oklahoma City area," says Bates . "For the last 20 years I've used a video camera to document street-level and forced prostitution, and human trafficking." Bates runs a website where he publishes videos of alleged sex workers and their clients. "I am openly referred to as a video vigilante, I don't really shy away from that," says Bates adding that the two individuals were inside a vehicle and the incident occurred away from other members of the public. The drone dropped to within a few feet of the vehicle where it filmed a 75 year old in the front seat of the white pickup truck. The duo separated after Zolicoffer, who was identified by her tattoo saying "Baby Gangster," saw the drone hovering overhead.
United Kingdom

Amateur Scientist Builds Thermite Grenade Cannon ( 97

YouTube personality Colin Furze has built a homemade cannon which he's filmed launching grenades filled with thermite, "an especially nasty chemical composition made of metal power and oxide that burns as hot as 2,500 degrees Celsius." Furze once co-hosted Sky1's program Gadget Geeks, and he's since made a new career demonstrating strange science projects on YouTube. Furze's other homemade devices have included a rocket-powered go-kart and a knife that can also toast bread while it's cutting.

Chinese Scammers Take Mattel To the Bank, Phishing Them For $3 Million ( 63

itwbennett quotes a report from The Associated Press: Mattel, the popular toy maker behind Barbie and Hot Wheels, was the victim of a phishing attack last year that nearly cost them $3 million. On April 30, 2015, a Mattel finance executive got a note from the new CEO, Christopher Sinclair, requesting a new vendor payment to China. Transfers required approval from two high-ranking managers; the finance exec qualified and so did the CEO. The transfer was made. The only thing preventing a total loss was the fact that the following day was a bank holiday. Details of the attack against Mattel come from a report by the Associated Press, investigating money laundering and other financial crime in Wenzhou, China.

Sony Fixes Flubbed Dash Download ( 39

New submitter FourG writes: Not much fanfare (which is to be expected given the niche of the device now) but it looks like Sony posted a fix for the much maligned "can't download dashboard" error. It requires a USB key and can't be done over-the-air. My Dash required a factor reset afterward before it successfully downloaded the dashboard, but YMMV...

FAA Predicts 7 Million Drones By 2020 ( 56

An anonymous reader writes: The FAA is predicting that the number of drones in the U.S. will increase to 7 million by 2020, though they're still prohibited within 15 miles of Washington D.C. Earlier this month a drone even performed the first FAA-sanctioned drone delivery to an urban area, carrying food, water and a first-aid kit in a box attached to a rope, while a team led by a 15-year-old pilot won the $250,000 first-place prize in the first World Drone Prix in Dubai. The FAA logged 538 drone incidents in the U.S. over the last six months, according to a new report released Friday, including hundreds of incidents in which drones approached airports. But while one incident involved a drone within 20 feet of a plane, "the majority of the incidents are minor," reports The Verge, "with pilots or bystanders reporting drones that are flying in restricted airspace without necessarily endangering anyone."

OLO, World's First Portable 3D Printer Prints On Top Of Smartphones ( 80

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: The OLO 3D Printer was first announced in October at the World Maker Faire in New York, where it earned itself an Editor's Choice award and accolades. The developers behind OLO call it a "smartphone 3D printer" as it requires a smartphone to operate. Designs can either be downloaded from the internet from the device, or copied over from a computer once it's created. When placed on a desk, the OLO looks like an inconspicuous little box, but inside, it can craft items up to 400 cm3 in volume. Its developers call the OLO "portable," and it has the specs to match at 1.7 lbs with a physical size of only 6.8" x 4.5" x 5.8." OLO is a unique printer not only because of its small form factor and low price point ($99), but because of its operation. Once the 3D model is loaded, the bottom section of OLO can be placed on top of your phone, and then the resin of your choice is poured inside that structure. You then place the top half of OLO on top and wait a few hours for it to do its thing. The resin hardens by using the light emitted from the smartphone it sits on top of, generated from the OLO app.

New Smartwatches Allow Students To Cheat On Exams 394 writes: The Independent reports that smartwatches that allow students to cheat on exams are being openly sold on Amazon. An advert for one such watch, called a "New 2016 Student 8GB cheating watch," is offered on Amazon for $51.68. "This watch is specifically designed for cheating on exams with a special programmed software. It is perfect for covertly viewing exam notes directly on your wrist, by storing text and pictures in the 8GB memory storage. It supports various file formats, such as: TXT, MP3, JPG, GIF, WAV, WMV, AVI, etc. It has an emergency button, so when you press it — the watch's screen display changes from text to a regular clock, and blocks all other buttons." The watch has garnered good reviews. "this is amazing. it helps me cheat on my test and it is smart and i never got caught," writes one reviewer. Joe Sidders, the deputy head at Monkton Combe senior school, in Bath, told BBC News that such devices were making exams a "nightmare to administer". "I expect the hidden market for these sorts of devices is significant, and this offering on Amazon is just the tip of the iceberg." A spokesman for Amazon said the company did not want to comment on the sale of the cheating watches. But professors are striking back. "My microbiology professor does a watch check every time we have a test," says Abigail Lauze. "If it's not an old school analog it has to come off and go in the cell phone bin."

Record-Breaking 11000ft Flight Sparks Criticism In Pilot Community 233

An anonymous reader writes: In an attempt to break the world 'how high can you fly a consumer drone' record, an anonymous person from the Netherlands flew a Phantom 2 Quadcopter to a height of up to 3.4 km. That is more than 3 km above the maximum European Union legal height of 120 meters, which has applied since July 1, 2015 to hobby drones. Undoubtedly he set a new record of sorts, which also led to substantial discussions among the drone pilot community on the safe use of drones. At a height of 3.4 kilometers or 11000 feet you can indeed run into regular air traffic, or cause a lot of damage in case of a crash. Fortunately not in this flight -- but the battery had only 4% capacity at the moment of landing.

Drones Under 2kg May Be Set Free Under Forthcoming FAA Rules ( 103

garymortimer writes: The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is establishing an aviation rulemaking committee with industry stakeholders to develop recommendations for a regulatory framework that would allow certain UAS to be operated over people who are not directly involved in the operation of the aircraft. The FAA is taking this action to provide a more flexible, performance-based approach for these operations than what was considered for Micro UAS. The committee will begin its work in March and issue its final report to the FAA on April 1.
The Military

Israel Thwarts Attempt To Smuggle Commercial Drones Into Gaza 312

An anonymous reader writes: The Jerusalem Post reports that the Shin Bet intelligence agency recently foiled an attempt to smuggle commercial multicopter drones into Gaza, Israel authorities announced on Sunday. The inspectors stopped an Israeli truck carrying toys at the Kerem Shalom Crossing, where drones of various types and sizes carrying high quality cameras were found. Additional attempts to smuggle commercial drones were intercepted by the Shin Bet in recent weeks. The drones were earmarked for use by Hamas group in Gaza. Close inspection of released images reveal what seems to be a Syma X5 FPV quadcopter. Those toy-grade multirrotors have a onboard wifi camera. Once you've downloaded the streaming app to your phone you are able to connect the on board camera to your phone and use it to give you FPV footage.

Feds Say There Isn't A Single Safe 'Hoverboard' ( 146

In the Consumer Product Safety Commission's letter to manufacturers, importers and retailers, it urged them to make sure the scooters they make and sell comply with the safety standards set by Underwriters Laboratories, the organization in charge of certifying that products are safe for use. According to UL Consumer Safety Director John Drengenberg, "no hoverboard has passed the certification process at this time."

Mattel Unveils $300 3D Printer ( 108

Lucas123 writes: Perhaps in an attempt to get out ahead of the consumer 3D printing market, which has allowed popular toys such as Legos to be replicated, Mattel today announced it would begin shipping its $300 fused filament fabricator machine in October. Mattel's ThingMaker at-home toy-making device, reinvents the company's iconic 1960s toy by the same name. The new ThingMaker allows users to upload design files via Mattel's proprietary Design App, which works on Android or iOS devices. The 3D printer can then print single-part toys or print hundreds of different parts to be assembled into toys using ball-and-socket joints. Mattel's ThingMaker Design App is based on Autodesk's Spark, an open 3D printing platform that provides extensible APIs for each stage of the 3D printing workflow. Because it's based on an open architecture, the ThingMaker Design App also works with other 3D printers; it is available now and free to download for iOS and Android devices.

UK Pilots' Union Calls For Laser Pointers To Be Classed As Offensive Weapons ( 275

An anonymous reader writes: The body that represents airline pilots in the UK has called for handheld laser pointers to be classed as offensive weapons, after a Virgin Atlantic flight to the U.S. was forced to return to Heathrow when its co-pilot was dazzled by a laser during takeoff. The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said aircraft were being "attacked" by the devices "at an alarming rate and with lasers with ever-increasing strength." It said the problem was becoming "more and more urgent."

FAA Eases Drone Restrictions Around Washington, DC ( 72

An anonymous reader writes with a link to Robotics Trends, which reports that: After doubling the radius of the "no-drone zone" from 15 miles to 30 miles outside of Washington, D.C. in 2015, the FAA announced drones can now fly in the "outer ring" of the Special Flight Rules Area. This means drones can operate between a 15- to 30-mile radius outside of the nation's capitol. Drones that fly between the 15- to 30-mile radius still have to operate under specific conditions: drones must weigh less than 55 pounds, be registered and marked, fly under 400 feet, stay in the operator's line of sight, only fly in clear conditions, and avoid other aircraft.

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