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Google's Android N OS Will Support Pressure-Sensitive Screens ( 68

An anonymous reader writes: In the latest Developer Preview 2 of Android N, Google introduced new "Launcher shortcuts" to the beta OS. It allows developers to "define shortcuts which users can expose in the launcher to help them perform actions quicker." It's reminiscent of Apple's "3D Touch" feature found in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, which can allow for specific parts of an app to be displayed in a pop-up menu when users forcefully press on an icon or other miscellaneous piece of information developed with the feature.

As mentioned in Phandroid's report testing the "setDynamicShortcuts(List)" feature, Google offered four different scenarios where Launcher Shortcuts make sense: Navigating users to a particular location in a mapping app, sending messages to a friend in a communication app, playing the next episode of a TV show in a media app, or loading the last save point in a gaming app.

"Google says that the manufacturers who build Android devices wanted this use case addressed by the OS itself," according to The Verge, so that developers "can code for all Android devices instead of reinventing the pressure-sensitive wheel for each OEM."

Tesla Updates Model S With New Front-End, Air Filtration System, Faster Charging ( 123

An anonymous reader writes: The Model S has received several new features and improvements to help it stay relevant with the newer Model X crossover and recently released Model 3 electric vehicles from Tesla. It has a new-look fascia and adaptive LED headlights that hew closely to the design found on the Model X crossover which debuted late last year. In addition to a couple new interior finish choices, the Model S is receiving a version of the Model X's cabin air filtration system as an option, which promises to filter out "99.7 percent of particulate exhaust pollution and effectively all allergens, bacteria and other contaminants from cabin air." The Model S now has a 48-amp charger standard -- up from 40 amps -- which Tesla says will enable faster charging when connected to higher-amp outlets. Tesla's design language is trending toward a grille-less front end, possibly in an effort to squeeze as much aerodynamic efficiency out of the car as possible. What's missing in the update is the rumored 100kWh battery, which would improve the vehicle's range.

Toyota Teams With Microsoft On Connected Cars ( 116

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA TODAY: Toyota announced an enhanced relationship with Microsoft on Monday aimed at delivering "connected car" services to drivers in ways they probably never could have imagined. Already, drivers ask the infotainment system in their cars for restaurant recommendations, but many locations often would require that a driver turn around. But with Toyota Connected, the system might be modified to only recommend restaurants on the highway ahead -- and then only the kinds of food that the driver usually prefers. Road information can be delivered to drivers based on driving patterns -- knowing the routes they usually take. Auto insurance could be priced more accurately because the system could report on a driver's actual miles and routes traveled. Medical-related sensors could also be built into the car, like heartbeat monitors or sensors on the steering wheel. Some of the services could be offered to customers wirelessly by being beamed directly into their cars, but Lobenstein said that customer privacy considerations will be paramount. Toyota Connected hopes to have its first products within a year. Toyota Connected, as it's called, is built on Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform. Toyota plans to invest $5.5 million in the new venture, even though much of the technology will be based on their current research and development for smart automobiles.

Microsoft Extends Its Windows Hello Login Security Features To Apps and the Web ( 47

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch regarding the beloved Windows Hello login security features: Microsoft is bringing to Windows apps (and even the web) some of the convenience and security of being able to use the same tech it uses to keep enterprise laptops safe. The idea here is to let you use the same technology that powers "Windows Hello" -- the login security feature of Windows 10 that supports fingerprint scanners, facial recognition and even iris scanners -- to log into other services, as well. This feature probably wouldn't be all that interesting if it only worked for Windows apps, but the company is also extending it to web apps. For now, this feature apparently only works with Microsoft's own Edge browser, but the company says it is compatible with the FIDO 2.0 standard and can theoretically work with any browser.
GNU is Not Unix

Git 2.8 Officially Released ( 87

prisoninmate quotes a report from Softpedia: Git 2.8 has been released on March 28, and we have to admit that it comes as a huge surprise to us all. Prominent features of Git 2.8 include parallel fetches of submodules, which allows for the inclusion of other Git repositories in a single Git repo when using the "git submodules" command, support for turning off Git's smudge and clean filters, and support for cloning repos through the rsync protocol. The Git for Windows build received a lot of attention in Git 2.8 and it looks like it's now as comfortable to use as it is on the GNU/Linux and Mac OS X platforms. Also, it is now possible to tell Git not to guess your identity, which, instead, forces you to add a and before doing any commits. Check out the the full release notes for the complete list.

iPhone 7s May Sport Curved Glass and AMOLED Display ( 113

anderzole quotes a report from BGR: With calls for Apple's upcoming iPhone models to be "spectacular," it appears that pundits and those who have been quick to proclaim that we've reached "peak iPhone" have nothing to worry about. While we'll know what type of wild new features the iPhone 7 will incorporate in just about three months, a new report from reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo provides us with some interesting insight as to what Apple has planned for 2017 when it releases what will presumably be called the iPhone 7s. According to a research note Kuo provided to investors, Apple is busy working on an iPhone model with curved pieces of glass and an AMOLED display. What's more, the report relays that Apple also has plans to shake up its iPhone lineup with a model sporting a 5.8-inch display. Further, Kuo believes that the bezels on the iPhone 7s will be smaller than they are on Apple's current iPhone lineup.

Ask Slashdot: How Can We Improve Slashdot? 1839

Hi all. Most of you are already aware that Slashdot was sold by DHI Group last week, and I very much enjoyed answering questions and reading feedback in the comments of that announcement story. There's no doubt that the Slashdot community is one of the most thoughtful, intelligent, and prolific communities on the web.

I wanted to use this opportunity to get a discussion going on how we can improve Slashdot moving forward. I am not talking about a full re-design that will detract from the original spirit of Slashdot, but rather: user experience, bug fixes, and feature improvements that are requested from actual /. users. We appreciated many of your suggestions in the story announcing the sale, and I have taken note of those suggestions. This story will serve as a more master list for feature requests and improvement suggestions.

We welcome any and all suggestions. Some ideas mentioned in the sale story were, in no particular order: Unicode support, direct messaging, increased cap on comment scores, put more weight on firehose voting to determine which stories make the front page, reduced time required between comments, and many more. We'd love a chance to discuss these suggestions and feature improvements and pros and cons here before we bring them back to our team for implementation.

Interview: Ask CEO Anant Agarwal About edX and the Future of Online Education 55

Anant Agarwal is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and the CEO of edX. A massive open online course platform founded by MIT and Harvard, edX offers numerous courses on a wide variety of subjects. As of 2014 edX had more than 4 million students taking more than 500 courses online. The organization has developed open-source software called Open edX that powers edX courses and is freely available online. Mr. Agarwal has agreed to take some time out of his schedule and answer your questions about edX and the future of learning. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Video Do the Risks of BYOD Outweigh the Benefits? (Video) 82

Steve Hasselbach is a Senior Solutions Architect (AKA Marketing Guy -- but he's also a serious techie) for Peak 10, a datacenter company. In his work he deals with his clients' security problems, and often shakes his head at how security unconscious so many businesses are, even after endless publicity about corporate IT security holes costing companies millions of dollars.

He says, " doesn’t shock me anymore, but you’d be so shocked and surprised at how noncompliant this country is in terms of businesses around things like healthcare data and all that." In this interview, Steve talks about how (surprise!) the current BYOD trend is making things worse, but isn't necessarily responsible for the worst security holes, and offers benefits that might outweigh the increased security risks it brings.. (Note: The transcript contains material not included in the video.)

Interviews: Ask David Peterson About Inventing Languages 87

samzenpus writes: David J. Peterson is a language creator and author. He created the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for HBO's Game of Thrones, and more recently has created languages for the CW's The 100 and MTV's The Shannara Chronicles. His new book, The Art of Language Invention, details how to create a new language from scratch, and goes over some of the specific choices he made in creating the languages for Game of Thrones and Syfy's Defiance. David has agreed to give us some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Linux Business

Video GNU/Linux Desktops with No User Knowledge Needed (Video) 85

Joey Amanchukwu is co-founder and CEO of Transforia, a company that leases computers pre-loaded with Red Hat Enterprise Linux -- a distro choice that may have been made at least partly because Joey used to sell for Red Hat.

There have been other companies that tried to sell Linux desktops and laptops on a "don't worry about a thing; we'll administer them for you, no problem" basis. Not a lot (maybe none) of those companies have survived, as far as we know. Will Transforia manage to make it big? Or at least become profitable? We'll see.

Video Alfred Poor Talks About Health Wearables at CES (Video) 22

The biggest shift in wearables that Alfred Poor saw at CES was from consumer wearables to wearables designed to serve corporate goals, especially cutting health care costs. He says that when it comes to fitness and other health-related wearables, "consumer is the past and business is the future."

Video Which do You Prefer: Mobile Web Apps or Mobile Websites? (Video) 90

On December 28, 2015, Larry Seltzer wrote an article for Ars Technica provocatively titled (by Ars editors), The App-ocalypse: Can Web standards make mobile apps obsolete? A link to this article was posted on Slashdot, where it provoked a spirited discussion. In this video conversation, we talked to Larry about mobile aps vs. Web standards. Not surprisingly, he had some interesting things to say.
Input Devices

Video CEO Ilya Gelfenbeyn Talks About Conversational Voice Interfaces (Video) 32 makes an Android voice-controlled utility called Assistant. I have it on my Android phone. It is one of many simiar apps, and I have been trying them a little at a time. Are any of them as good as Siri? Let's just say, "Quality varies."

And Android voice assistants aren't the point of this interview, anyway. It's more about the process of developing interactive, voice-based IO systems. This whole voice/response thing is an area that's going to take off any year now -- and has been in that state for several decades -- but may finally be going somewhere, spurred by intense competition between the many companies working in this field, including Ilya's.
The Media

Video FOSS Force is a FOSS News and Commentary Site (Video) 41

Christine Hall is FOSS Force's founder, publisher, chief editor, and everything else. She started the site about five years ago, but it has only started to attract notice in the last year. Christine brings the cynicism and writing style of a long-time freelance journalist to this tech niche, which makes her site a welcome addition to the Open Source news pantheon. And on the Slashdot front: this is our first video in a while because we have switched video hosting services. We hope you like this host better than the last one. Native HTML 5 at (long) last. Yay!

Interviews: Ask Ray Kurzweil a question 174

Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading authors, inventors, and futurists. Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. Among Kurzweil’s many honors, he received the 2015 Technical Grammy Award for outstanding achievements in the field of music technology; he is the recipient of the National Medal of Technology, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, holds twenty honorary Doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents. He has given us some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Video WeMedia's Andrew Nachison Discusses the Future of Online Journalism 17

WeMedia is partly a think tank and partly a consulting firm that advises news organizations on how to deal with the ever-changing world of online journalism. Andrew Nachison cofounded WeMedia with Dale Peskin (who went back to newspaper editing in 2014) and is now the main sparkplug behind WeMedia. Andrew has been around journalism as a reporter, editor, consultant, and academic observer. If you're interested in the future of journalism, this interview with Andrew is a "must watch" (or "must read the transcript") piece. And we'll have another video starring Andrew on Slashdot within the next week, since this one ran long but only covered half of what we wanted to.

Video Write the Docs Helps Create FLOSS Software Documentation (Video #2) 14

Say hello once again to David Smatlak, who works with Write the Docs -- a group that started some years back as Read the Docs.They have conferences in the U.S.and Europe, and Meetups in over a dozen cities. We ran a conversation with David Wednesday, but couldn't fit all he had to say into one video, so here he is again, with additional info that tags onto Wednesday's video.

Interviews: Ask Attorney and Author Mike Godwin a Question 83

Mike Godwin worked as the first staff counsel of the EFF and served as general counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation. He has been a contributing editor of Reason magazine and was elected to the Open Source Initiative board in 2011. Mike is probably best known however for coining the internet adage Godwin's Law. He is currently general counsel and director of innovation policy at the R Street Institute. Mike has given us some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question (and one comparison involving Nazis or Hitler) per post.

Video Write the Docs Helps Create FLOSS Software Documentation (Video) 27

Say hello to David Smatlak, who works with Write the Docs -- a group that started some years back as Read the Docs.They have conferences in the U.S.and Europe, and Meetups in over a dozen cities. It's a low-key group, open to both people who write documentation and developers who want help writing professeional-quality documentation for their Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects. Also welcome are those who would like to learn how to write good software documentation, starting with this online tutorial about the art and science of writing technical documentation. (And if you are interested primarily in Linux documentation, you'll want to check the Linux Documentation Project, too.)

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