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The Internet

Pandora CEO: No Plans To Sell Company: On Path To Do Something Big (venturebeat.com) 32

Chris O'Brien, reporting for VentureBeat: Making one of his biggest public appearances since returning to Pandora as CEO, Tim Westergren struck a defiant tone -- insisting that the company is not for sale and is, in fact, on the cusp of a reinventing itself. "We are on a path to do something big and something for the long-term," Westergren said when asked on stage about sale rumors. "Tha's why I got back in the saddle, so no plans for that." Pandora, with its Internet radio format, has been a music streaming pioneer. Founded in 2000, it survived the dot-com bust and enjoyed explosive growth following the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and the ensuing smartphone era. Pandora's rise was capped by a big IPO in 2011. But as a public company, Pandora has struggled to show consistent profits and growth. It is often buffeted on one side by artists who claim they are not being paid fairly and on the other by new entrants such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon who offer on-demand streaming services.
Communications

Researchers Set World Record Wireless Data Transmission Rate of 6 GB/Sec Over 37 KM (sciencedaily.com) 72

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Daily: Transmitting the contents of a conventional DVD in under ten seconds by radio transmission is incredibly fast -- and a new world record in wireless data transmission. With a data rate of 6 Gigabit per second over a distance of 37 kilometers, a collaborative project with the participation of researchers from the University of Stuttgart and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF exceeded the state of the art by a factor of 10. The extremely high data rates of 6 Gbit/s was achieved by the group through efficient transmitters and receivers at a radio frequency of 71-76 GHz in the so-called E band, regulated for terrestrial and satellite broadcasting. The circuits are based on two innovative transistor technologies developed and manufactured by the project partner Fraunhofer IAF. In the transmitter the broadband signals are amplified to a comparatively high transmission power of up to 1 W with the help of power amplifiers on the basis of the novel compound semiconductor gallium-nitride. A highly directive parabolic antenna emits the signals. Built into the receiver are low-noise amplifiers on the basis of high-speed transistors using indium-gallium-arsenide-semiconductor layers with very high electron mobility. They ensure the detection of the weak signals at high distance. The transmission of high quantities of data by radio over large distances serves a high number of important application areas: the next generation of satellite communication requires an ever-increasing data offload from earth observation satellites down to earth. Supplying the rural area and remote regions with fast Internet is possible as shown in the trial. Earlier this year, engineers at the University of Illinois were able to set a record for fiber-optic data transmission, transmitting 57Gbps of error-free data at room temperature.
Communications

Campaign Demands Telecoms Unlock the FM Radio Found in Many Smartphones (www.cbc.ca) 340

An anonymous reader cites an article on CBC: Your smartphone may include an FM radio chip but, chances are, it doesn't work. Now, an online campaign has launched in Canada, putting pressure on telecoms and manufacturers to turn on the radio hidden in many cellphones. Titled, "free radio on my phone," the campaign says that most Android smartphones have a built-in FM receiver which doesn't require data or Wi-Fi to operate. The U.S. arm of the campaign believes iPhones also have a built-in radio chip but that it can't be activated. Apple wouldn't confirm this detail. The radio chip in many Android phones also lies dormant. But the campaign says it can easily be activated -- if telecom providers ask the manufacturers to do it. In Canada, however, most of the telecoms haven't made the move to get the radio turned on. They'd prefer that you stream your audio, depleting your phone's costly data plan, claims campaign organizer, Barry Rooke.
Education

Disney Research Leverages RFID Tech For Low Cost Interactive Games With Physical Objects (hothardware.com) 18

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Researchers at Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University have been toying around with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. RFID tags are typically used for high-tech inventory management in a variety of industries, but researchers concocted a way to make RFID technology feasible for interactive games using physical objects. Using a framework the researchers developed called RapID, they showed how inexpensive RFID tags can sense when a physical object is moved or touched in near real-time. The research team demonstrated a handful of use case scenarios. One included a tic-tac-toe board that mirrors the physical game on a computer monitor with added sound effects, while another demonstration showed users playing a Pong clone using real wooden sliders to control the onscreen action. What the researchers have done is no small feat. RFID was never intended for interactive toys, and wasn't built for real-time or near real-time responsiveness. RapID interprets the signals by weighing possibilities instead of waiting on confirmation from RFID tags. Most importantly, it reduces typical lag times from 2 seconds all the way down to 200 milliseconds.
Advertising

In Internet Age, Pirate Radio Arises As Surprising Challenge (ap.org) 157

K7DAN writes: Just as the demise of terrestrial radio has been greatly exaggerated, so has the assumed parallel death of pirate radio. Due to the failure of licensed stations to meet the needs of many niche communities, pirate radio continues to increase in popularity. Helping facilitate this growth is the weakening power of the FCC to stop it, reports the Associated Press. Rogue stations can cover up to several square miles thanks largely in part to cheaper technology. The appeal? "The DJs sound like you and they talk about things that you're interested in," said Jay Blessed, an online DJ who has listened to various unlicensed stations since she moved from Trinidad to Brooklyn more than a decade ago. "You call them up and say, 'I want to hear this song,' and they play it for you," Blessed said. "It's interactive. It's engaging. It's communal." It's upsetting many congressional members who are urging the FCC to do more about the "unprecedented growth of pirate radio operations." They're accusing said pirates of undermining licensed minority stations while ignoring consumer protection laws that guard against indecency and false advertising.
Google

Google Play Music To Add Podcast Support on April 18, Says Report 31

An anonymous reader writes: Google Play Music could add a hub for podcasts on Monday, April 18. The speculation comes as news outlets spotted a leaked NPR email member-only newsletter which claims that the company 'worked with Google to ensure that public radio is represented in the Google Play environment' and reveals the launch date. Google announced plans to add podcasts to Google Play Music app in October last year. It's a welcome move -- whenever it actually happens. Google, unlike Apple and Microsoft, as of today doesn't offer any built-in app in its mobile operating system which could allow users to subscribe and listen to their favorite podcasts. And podcasts are increasingly becoming popular.
Encryption

$40 Hardware Is Enough To Hack $28,000 Police Drones From 2km Away (theregister.co.uk) 97

mask.of.sanity writes: Thieves can hijack $28,000 professional drones used widely across the law enforcement, emergency, and private sectors using $40 worth of hardware. The quadcopters can be hijacked from up to two kilometers away thanks to a lack of encryption, which is not present due to latency overheads. Attackers can commandeer radio links to the drones from up to two kilometers away, and block operators from reconnecting to the craft. With the targeted Xbee chip being very common in drones, IBM security guy Nils Rodday says it is likely many more aircraft are open to compromise.
AI

DARPA's Latest Grand Challenge Takes On The Radio Spectrum (gizmag.com) 64

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmag: One of the most hotly contested bits of real estate today is one you can't see. As we move into an increasingly wireless-connected world, staking out a piece of the crowded electromagnetic spectrum becomes more important. DARPA is hoping to help solve this issue with its latest Grand Challenge, which calls for the use of machine-learning technologies to enable devices to share bandwidth. The Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) is based on the idea that wireless devices would work better if they cooperated with one another rather than fought for bandwidth. Since not all devices are active at all times, the agency says, it should be possible through the use of artificial intelligence machine-learning algorithms to allow them to figure out how to share the spectrum with a minimum of conflict. DARPA announced the competition in front of 8000 engineers on Wednesday at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) in Las Vegas. SC2 will run from 2017 through 2020 with teams competing to create radios that can collaborate most effectively with other radios. The competition will end with a live event and the prize is $2 million.
China

China Set To Ban All Foreign Media From Publishing Online (independent.co.uk) 110

schwit1 writes: A new directive issued by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has said that companies which have foreign ownership (at least, in part) will be stopped from publishing words, pictures, maps, games, animation and sound of an 'informational and thoughtful nature' unless they have approval from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
China

Virginia Radio Station Broadcasting Chinese Propaganda (reuters.com) 294

An anonymous reader writes: An investigation by Reuters has uncovered a radio station located just outside Washington, D.C. that broadcasts dedicated Chinese propaganda to the U.S. capital and the surrounding area. In 2009, under new ownership, Virginia-based station WAGE erected new broadcast towers, amplifying its signal by ten times, and changed its call letters to WCRW, for "China Radio Washington." All WCRW programming shares a common theme, with newscasts that avoid any criticism of China and are critical of Beijing's political enemies; for example, a report on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last year did not explain why people were in the streets, and said only that the demonstrations had "failed without support." WCRW's American owners claim they have no input on content and are only rebroadcasting programming provided to them by a state-sponsored Chinese company to which they lease the airtime. U.S. law requires that anyone seeking to influence American policy or public opinion on behalf of a foreign government must register with the Department of Justice, but according to Reuters, government officials didn't even know WCRW existed until Reuters told them about it.
Technology

First Fully Digital Radio Transmitter Built Purely From Microprocessor Tech 88

Zothecula writes For the first time in history, a prototype radio has been created that is claimed to be completely digital, generating high-frequency radio waves purely through the use of integrated circuits and a set of patented algorithms without using conventional analog radio circuits in any way whatsoever. This breakthrough technology promises to vastly improve the wireless communications capabilities of everything from 5G mobile technology to the multitude devices aimed at supporting the Internet of Things (IoT).
Communications

Developers Disclose Schematics For 50-1000 MHz Software-Defined Transceiver 135

Bruce Perens writes Chris Testa KD2BMH and I have been working for years on a software-defined transceiver that would be FCC-legal and could communicate using essentially any mode and protocol up to 1 MHz wide on frequencies between 50 and 1000 MHz. It's been discussed here before, most recently when Chris taught gate-array programming in Python. We are about to submit the third generation of the design for PCB fabrication, and hope that this version will be salable as a "developer board" and later as a packaged walkie-talkie, mobile, and base station. This radio is unique in that it uses your smartphone for the GUI, uses apps to provide communication modes, contains an on-board FLASH-based gate-array and a ucLinux system. We intend to go for FSF "Respects Your Freedom" certification for the device. My slide show contains 20 pages of schematics and is full of ham jargon ("HT" means "handi-talkie", an old Motorola product name and the hams word for "walkie talkie") but many non-hams should be able to parse it with some help from search engines. Bruce Perens K6BP
United Kingdom

BBC Radio Drops WMA For MPEG-DASH 65

gbjbaanb writes: The BBC has converted its legacy WMA (Windows Media Audio) streams to the "industry-wide and open source" MPEG-DASH format. While this has left some users of old devices unable to receive the broadcasts, the BBC claims the use of WMA was "prohibitively expensive to operate"when existing licence agreements ran out. The BBC says that they are working with "radio industry and manufacturers towards using just one standard."
Music

Radio, Not YouTube, Is Still King of Music Discovery 126

journovampire writes: We might live in an age of YouTube and Spotify being the go-to music players of teenagers, but radio was still the top method of music discovery in the U.S. last year. According to the research, "59% of music listeners use a combination of over-the-air AM/FM radio and online radio streams to hear music," and "243 million U.S. consumers (aged 12 and over) tune in each week to radio – 91.3% of the national population tuning in across more than 250 local markets."
Communications

Ofcom Will Remove Mandatory Ham Callsign ID Interval, Allow Encryption For Some 57

product_bucket writes: The UK's radio regulator, Ofcom, today published changes in the licensing conditions that remove the mandatory 15-minute callsign ID interval on all allocated frequencies apart from 5MHz, where special conditions remain. In its place, a requirement for the station to be "clearly identifiable at all times" has been made, along with a requirement to transmit the station callsign "as frequently as is practicable" in a form consistent with the operating mode. The decision also permits the use of encryption (PDF) when the station is being used for, or on behalf of a user service such as St. John Ambulance. Unusually, no response to the consultation (PDF) has been made available, so there is at present no way to assess the extent to which the changes were based on actual responses.
United Kingdom

UK Ham Radio Reg Plans To Drop 15 min Callsign Interval and Allow Encryption 104

First time accepted submitter product_bucket writes A consultation published by the UK Radio Regulator Ofcom seeks views on its plan to remove the mandatory 15 minute callsign identifier interval for amateur radio licensees. The regulator also intends to permit the use of encryption by a single volunteer emergency communications organization. The consultation is open until 20th October, and views are sought by interested parties.
Transportation

It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights 144

An anonymous reader notes coverage of research from the University of Michigan into the ease with which attackers can hack traffic lights. From the article: As is typical in large urban areas, the traffic lights in the subject city are networked in a tree-type topology, allowing them to pass information to and receive instruction from a central management point. The network is IP-based, with all the nodes (intersections and management computers) on a single subnet. In order to save on installation costs and increase flexibility, the traffic light system uses wireless radios rather than dedicated physical networking links for its communication infrastructure—and that’s the hole the research team exploited. ... The 5.8GHz network has no password and uses no encryption; with a proper radio in hand, joining is trivial. ... The research team quickly discovered that the debug port was open on the live controllers and could directly "read and write arbitrary memory locations, kill tasks, and even reboot the device (PDF)." Debug access to the system also let the researchers look at how the controller communicates to its attached devices—the traffic lights and intersection cameras. They quickly discovered that the control system’s communication was totally non-obfuscated and easy to understand—and easy to subvert.
Communications

Three Videos On Codec2 and Open Hardware 37

Bruce Perens writes "Codec2 is the Open Source ultra-low-bandwidth speech codec capable of encoding voice in 1200 Baud. FreeDV (freedv .org) is an HF (global-range radio) implementation that uses half the bandwidth of SSB, and without the noise. Here are three speeches about where it's going."
  • David Rowe: Embedding Codec2: Open Source speech coding on a low-cost microprocessor, at Linux.conf.au 2014. YouTube, downloadable MP4.
  • Bruce Perens: FreeDV, Codec2, and HT of the Future (how we're building a software-defined walkie-talkie that's smarter than a smartphone), at the TAPR/ARRL Digital Communications Conference 2013. Blip.tv, YouTube
  • Chris Testa on the .Whitebox handheld software-defined radio design that is the RF portion of HT of the Future, which was also shown at the TAPR conference.
United States

ASCAP Petitions FCC To Deny Pandora's Purchase of Radio Station 229

chipperdog writes "NorthPine.com reports: 'ASCAP is firing back against Pandora Radio's attempt to get lower music royalty rates by buying a terrestrial radio station, "Hits 102.7" (KXMZ Box Elder-Rapid City). In a petition to deny, ASCAP alleges "Pandora has failed to fully disclose its ownership, and to adequately demonstrate that it complies with the Commission's foreign ownership rules." ASCAP also alleges that Pandora has no intention of operating KXMZ to serve the public interest, but is rather only interested in obtaining lower royalty rates. Pandora reached a deal to buy KXMZ from Connoisseur Media for $600,000 earlier this year and is already running the station through a local marketing agreement.'"
Censorship

Greek Government Abruptly Shuts Down State Broadcaster 230

An anonymous reader writes "The Greek government shut down broadcasting of all TV and radio channels operated by the state-owned broadcaster ERT at midnight local time, with police ejecting journalists and other employees occupying the building. The above link is a prominent Greek economics professor's (and Valve's in-house economist) analysis of the political motivations for the move."

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