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Revision as of 23:33, 7 December 2009

  • Elon Musk Talks "X-Wing" Fins For Reusable Rockets, Seafaring Spaceport Drones

    An anonymous reader writes Elon Musk sent a number of tweets recently in which he detailed a program to test the function of "X-Wing" style grid fins that could help spacecraft navigate upon re-entry. The tweets describing how it would work, also include an autonomous seafaring platform, which can hold its position within three meters even in a heavy storm, that would act as a landing pad. From the article: "The SpaceX reusable rocket program has been progressing with varying results, including an explosion over Texas back in August. While the incident didn't result in any injury or even 'near injuries,' Musk conceded in a tweet that this was evidence that '[r]ockets are tricky.' An earlier test flight from this summer involving an ocean splashdown was considered more successful, proving that the Space X Falcon 9 booster could re-enter earth's atmosphere, restart its engines, deploy its landing legs and make a touch down at 'near zero velocity.'"

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  • Blame America For Everything You Hate About "Internet Culture"

    An anonymous reader writes If you hate cat videos, personality quizzes, and endless list stories about a specific school or region, then you should blame the USA according to this story. From the article: "'In France, articles about cats do not work,' Buzzfeed's Scott Lamb told Le Figaro, a leading Parisian paper. Instead, he explained, Buzzfeed's first year in the country has shown it that 'the French love sharing news and politics on social networks – in short, pretty serious stuff.' This is interesting for two reasons: first, as conclusive proof that the French are irredeemable snobs; second, as a crack in the glossy, understudied facade of what we commonly call 'Internet culture.'....American audiences love animals and 'light content,' Lamb said, but readers in other countries have reacted differently. Germans were skeptical of the site's feel-good frivolity, he said, and some Australians were outright 'hostile.' Meanwhile, in France — land of la mode and le Michelin — critics immediately complained, right at Buzzfeed's French launch, that the articles were too fluffy and poorly translated. Instead, Buzzfeed quickly found that readers were more likely to share articles about news, politics and regional identity, particularly in relation to the loved/hated Paris, than they were to share the site's other fare."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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  • Prospects Rise For a 2015 UN Climate Deal, But Likely To Be Weak

    An anonymous reader writes with news that a global climate deal seems to be on the horizon. "A global deal to combat climate change in 2015 looks more likely after promises for action by China, the United States and the European Union, but any agreement will probably be too weak to halt rising temperatures. Delegates from almost 200 nations will meet in Lima, Peru, from Dec. 1-12 to work on the accord due in Paris in a year's time, also spurred by new scientific warnings about risks of floods, heatwaves, ocean acidification and rising seas. After failure to agree a sweeping U.N. treaty at a summit in Copenhagen in 2009, the easier but less ambitious aim now is a deal made up of 'nationally determined' plans to help reverse a 45 percent rise in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990."

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  • Spaceport America Loses $1.7 Million Due To Virgin Galactic Delays

    An anonymous reader writes "Officials of New Mexico's Spaceport Authority were grilled by lawmakers about the now vacant Spaceport America following the deadly crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. The spaceport was built as a hub for commercial space flights. Its immediate future is uncertain since Virgin Galactic has indefinitely pushed back the launch date of its space tourism flights. From the article: "Christine Anderson, the authority's executive director, learned last week that she might have to do so one legislator at a time. Anderson was called out by Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, for handing members of an interim legislative finance committee a presentation filled mostly with photographs. Lundstrom and other lawmakers wanted hard numbers and more details about what plan the authority has to get past the Virgin Galactic mishap and get the taxpayer-financed spaceport off the ground. 'It just made all of us look like idiots, like we don't do our homework,' Anderson said. 'That's not the case whatsoever.'"

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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  • Corning Reveals Gorilla Glass 4, Promises No More Broken IPhones

    An anonymous reader writes "Corning introduced next-generation Gorilla Glass, which it said is ten times tougher than any competitive cover glass now in the market. The company says that the Gorilla Glass 4 so launched is to address the No.1 problem among the smartphones users- screen breakage due to everyday drops."

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  • DreamWorks Reveals Glimpse of "Super Cinema" Format For VR Films

    An anonymous reader writes Warren Mayoss, Head of Technology Product Development at DreamWorks Animation, spoke at the 2014 Samsung Developer Conference last week about the company's forays into the young medium of virtual reality. In addition to real-time experiences, DreamWorks is exploring ways to enabled their bread and butter in VR: high-fidelity pre-rendered CGI. One method the company is exploring is a "Super Cinema" format: pre-rendered 360 degree 3D frames to be projected around the user in virtual reality. On stage, Mayoss showed a video glimpse of the format using assets from the company's "How to Train Your Dragon" franchise.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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  • In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

    HughPickens.com writes: Jerry Hirsch writes in the LA Times that personal transportation is on the cusp of its greatest transformation since the advent of the internal combustion engine. For a century, cars have been symbols of freedom and status. But according to Hirsch, passengers of the future may well view vehicles as just another form of public transportation, to be purchased by the trip or in a subscription. Buying sexy, fast cars for garages could evolve into buying seat-miles in appliance-like pods, piloted by robots, parked in public stalls. "There will come a time when driving the car is like riding the horse," says futurist Peter Schwartz. "Some people will still like to do it, but most of us won't." People still will want to own vehicles for various needs, says James Lentz, chief executive of Toyota's North American operations. They might live in a rural area and travel long distances daily. They might have a big family to haul around. They might own a business that requires transporting supplies. "You will still have people who have the passion for driving the cars and feeling the road," says Lentz. "There may be times when they want the cars to drive them, but they won't be buying autonomous-only cars." One vision of the future is already playing out in Grenoble, France, where residents can rent from a fleet of 70 pod-like Toyota i-Road and Coms electric cars for short city trips. "It is a sharing program like what you see in Portland with bicycles," says Lentz. Drivers can check out and return the cars at various charging points. Through a subscription, they pay the equivalent of $3.75 for 30 minutes. Because the vehicles are so small, its easy to build out their parking and charging infrastructure. Skeptics should consider the cynicism that greeted the horseless carriage more than a century ago, says Adam Jonas. He adds that fully autonomous vehicles will be here far sooner than the market thinks (PDF). Then, Jonas says, skeptics asked: "Why would any rational person want to replace the assuredness of that hot horse body trustily pulling your comfortable carriage with an unreliable, oil-spurting heap of gears, belts and chains?"

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  • How "Big Ideas" Are Actually Hurting International Development

    schnell writes: The New Republic is running a fascinating article that analyzes the changing state of foreign development. Tech entrepreneurs and celebrities are increasingly realizing the inefficiencies of the old charitable NGO-based model of foreign aid, and shifting their support to "disruptive" new ideas that have been demonstrated in small experiments to deliver disproportionately beneficial results. But multiple studies now show that "game changing" ideas that prove revolutionary in limited studies fail to prove effective at scale, and are limited by a simple and disappointing fact: no matter how revolutionary your idea is, whether it works or not is wholly dependent on 1.) the local culture and circumstances, and 2.) who is implementing the program.

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  • Great Firewall of China Blocks Edgecast CDN, Thousands of Websites Affected

    An anonymous reader writes: Starting about a week ago, The Great Firewall of China began blocking the Edgecast CDN. This was spurred by Great Fire's Collateral Freedom project, which used CDNs to get around censorship of individual domains. It left China with either letting go of censorship, or breaking significant chunks of the Internet for their population. China chose to do the latter, and now many websites are no longer functional for Chinese users. I just helped a friend diagnose this problem with his company's site, so it's likely many people are still just starting to discover what's happened and the economic impact is yet to be fully realized. Hopefully pressure on China will reverse the decision.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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  • Judge Unseals 500+ Stingray Records

    An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Ars Technica: A judge in Charlotte, North Carolina, has unsealed a set of 529 court documents in hundreds of criminal cases detailing the use of a stingray, or cell-site simulator, by local police. This move, which took place earlier this week, marks a rare example of a court opening up a vast trove of applications made by police to a judge, who authorized each use of the powerful and potentially invasive device According to the Charlotte Observer, the records seem to suggest that judges likely did not fully understand what they were authorizing. Law enforcement agencies nationwide have taken extraordinary steps to preserve stingray secrecy. As recently as this week, prosecutors in a Baltimore robbery case dropped key evidence that stemmed from stingray use rather than fully disclose how the device was used.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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  • Samsung Seeking To Block Nvidia Chips From US Market

    An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that Samsung has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission asking them to block the import of Nvidia's graphics chips . This is part of Samsung's retaliation for a similar claim filed by Nvidia against Samsung and Qualcomm back in September. Both companies are wielding patents pertaining to the improved operation of graphics chips in cell phones and other mobile devices.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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  • Doubling Saturated Fat In Diet Does Not Increase It In Blood

    An anonymous reader writes: A new study by researchers at Ohio State University found that dramatically increasing the amount of saturated fat in a person's diet did not increase the amount of saturated fat found in their blood. Professor Jeff Volek, the study's senior author, said it "challenges the conventional wisdom that has demonized saturated fat and extends our knowledge of why dietary saturated fat doesn't correlate with disease." The study also showed that increasing carbohydrates in the diet led to an increase in a particular fatty acid previous studies have linked to heart disease. Volek continued, "People believe 'you are what you eat,' but in reality, you are what you save from what you eat. The point is you don't necessarily save the saturated fat that you eat. And the primary regulator of what you save in terms of fat is the carbohydrate in your diet. Since more than half of Americans show some signs of carb intolerance, it makes more sense to focus on carb restriction than fat restriction."

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  • Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

    An anonymous reader writes: I'm a systems architect (and a former Unix sysadmin) with many years of experience on the infrastructure side of things. I have a masters in CS but not enough practical exposure to professional software development. I'd like to start my own software product line and I'd like to avoid outsourcing as much as I can. I'm seeking advice on what you think are the best practices for running a software shop and/or good blogs/books on the subject. To be clear, I am not asking about what are the best programming practices or the merits of agile vs waterfall. Rather I am asking more about how to best run the shop as a whole. For example, how important is it to have coding standards and how much standardization is necessary for a small business? What are the pros and cons of allowing different tools and/or languages? What should the ratio of senior programmers to intermediate and junior programmers be and how should they work with each other so that nobody is bored and everyone learns something? Thanks for your help.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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  • Eizo Debuts Monitor With 1:1 Aspect Ratio

    jones_supa writes: Eizo has introduced an interesting new PC monitor with a square aspect ratio: the Eizo FlexScan EV2730Q is a 26.5-inch screen with 1:1 aspect ratio and an IPS panel with resolution of 1920 x 1920 pixels. "The extended vertical space is convenient for displaying large amounts of information in long windows, reducing the need for excess scrolling and providing a more efficient view of data," the firm writes. The monitor also offers flicker-free (non-PWM) backlight and reduced blue light features to avoid scorching users' eyes. Would a square display be of any benefit to you?

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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  • Upgrading the Turing Test: Lovelace 2.0

    mrspoonsi tips news of further research into updating the Turing test. As computer scientists have expanded their knowledge about the true domain of artificial intelligence, it has become clear that the Turing test is somewhat lacking. A replacement, the Lovelace test, was proposed in 2001 to strike a clearer line between true AI and an abundance of if-statements. Now, professor Mark Reidl of Georgia Tech has updated the test further (PDF). He said, "For the test, the artificial agent passes if it develops a creative artifact from a subset of artistic genres deemed to require human-level intelligence and the artifact meets certain creative constraints given by a human evaluator. Creativity is not unique to human intelligence, but it is one of the hallmarks of human intelligence."

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  • Profanity-Laced Academic Paper Exposes Scam Journal

    Frosty P writes: A scientific paper titled "Get Me Off Your F****** Mailing List" was actually accepted by the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology. As reported at Vox and other web sites, the journal, despite its distinguished name, is a predatory open-access journal. These sorts of low-quality journals spam thousands of scientists, offering to publish their work for a fee. In 2005, computer scientists David Mazières and Eddie Kohler created this highly profane ten-page paper as a joke, to send in replying to unwanted conference invitations. It literally just contains that seven-word phrase over and over, along with a nice flow chart and scatter-plot graph. More recently, computer scientist Peter Vamplew sent it to the IJACT in response to spam from the journal, and the paper was automatically accepted with an anonymous reviewer rating it as "excellent," and requested a fee of $150. Over the years, the number of these predatory journals has exploded. Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, keeps an up-to-date list of them to help researchers avoid being taken in; it currently has 550 publishers and journals on it."

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  • Ukraine's IT Brigade Supports the Troops

    An anonymous reader sends this story from BusinessWeek: Eight months ago, David Arakhamiya was running a small IT company in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolayiv. Today, as an adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister, he oversees a massive crowdfunding effort that since March has raised about $300 million from ordinary citizens. The money is being used to equip Ukraine’s army with everything from uniforms, water, and other basic supplies to high-tech gear such as reconnaissance drones. Yaroslav Markevich, another IT entrepreneur with a small company in Kharkiv, once a Soviet hub for aviation technology, presented a plan to the commander of one Ukrainian battalion to create a drone unit after hearing stories about the efficiency of Russian drones. The commander said yes, and by the time his battalion was deployed early this summer, it was the only one in the army equipped with a fleet of short- and long-range drones. ... IT experts across Ukraine have been an important part of the volunteer effort to supply the army with equipment.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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  • Extreme Shrimp May Hold Clues To Alien Life On Europa

    HughPickens.com writes: Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are studying a mysterious ecosystem at one of the world's deepest undersea hydrothermal vents to get clues about what life could be like on other planetary bodies, such as Jupiter's icy moon Europa, which has a subsurface ocean. At the vents, tiny shrimp are piled on top of each other, layer upon layer, crawling on rock chimneys that spew hot water. "You go along the ocean bottom and there's nothing, effectively," says Max Coleman. "And then suddenly we get these hydrothermal vents and a massive ecosystem. It's just literally teeming with life." Bacteria, inside the shrimps' mouths and in specially evolved gill covers, produce organic matter that feed the crustaceans. The particular bacteria in the vents are able to survive in extreme environments because of chemosynthesis, a process that works in the absence of sunlight and involves organisms getting energy from chemical reactions. In this case, the bacteria use hydrogen sulfide, a chemical abundant at the vents, to make organic matter. The temperatures at the vents can climb up to a scorching 842 degrees Fahrenheit (450 degrees Celsius), but waters just an inch away are cool enough to support the shrimp. The shrimp are blind, but have thermal receptors in the backs of their heads. According to the exobiologists, these mysterious shrimps and its symbiotic bacterium may hold clues "about what life could be like on other planetary bodies." It's life that may be similar—at the basic level—to what could be lurking in the oceans of Europa, deep under the icy crust of the Jupiter moon. According to Emma Versteegh "whether an animal like this could exist on Europa heavily depends on the actual amount of energy that's released there, through hydrothermal vents." Nobody is seriously planning a landing mission on Europa yet. But the European Space Agency aims to launch its JUpiter ICy moons Explorer mission (JUICE) to make the first thickness measurements of Europa's icy crust starting in 2030 and NASA also has begun planning a Europa Clipper mission that would study the icy moon while doing flybys in a Jupiter orbit.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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  • Linux On a Motorola 68000 Solder-less Breadboard

    New submitter lars_stefan_axelsson writes: When I was an undergrad in the eighties, "building" a computer meant that you got a bunch of chips and a soldering iron and went to work. The art is still alive today, but instead of a running BASIC interpreter as the ultimate proof of success, today the crowning achievement is getting Linux to run: "What does it take to build a little 68000-based protoboard computer, and get it running Linux? In my case, about three weeks of spare time, plenty of coffee, and a strong dose of stubbornness. After banging my head against the wall with problems ranging from the inductance of pushbutton switches to memory leaks in the C standard library, it finally works! (video)"

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  • Judge Approves $450M Settlement For Apple's Ebook Price Fixing

    An anonymous reader writes: On Friday a U.S. federal judge approved a settlement in the Apple ebook price-fixing case that could see the technology giant paying $450 million. $400 million of that would go to the roughly 23 million consumers thought to be affected by the price fixing, and the rest would go to lawyers. Though the case is now settled, the dollar amount is not necessarily final — an appeals court still has to rule on a previous verdict. If the appeals court finds in Apple's favor, then the total settlement drops to only $70 million. If they find against Apple, then it's the full amount. "The settlement appeared to reflect fatigue by Apple, the Justice Department, state attorneys general and class-action lawyers eager to conclude a case that has dragged on, largely because of delays by Apple."

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  • Some Early Nexus 6 Units Returned Over Startup Bug

    The Register reports that Motorola has issued a recall for an early batch of its hotly anticipated new Nexus 6 smartphones that were sold through U.S. mobile carrier AT&T, owing to a software glitch that can reportedly causes the devices to boot to a black screen. ... AT&T retail stores have reportedly been told to return their existing inventory of the Nexus 6 and wait for new units to arrive from Motorola, which has already corrected the problem on its assembly line. Any customer who brings a defective unit into an AT&T store will receive a replacement. Motorola's memo to stores says that only initial shipments were affected, and that the problem has been identified. However, as the article mentions, there's thus far less luck for those like me who've found that at least some original Nexus 7 tablets do not play nicely with Lollipop. (The effects look nice, but it's never a good sign to see "System UI isn't responding. Do you want to close it?" on a tablet's screen.)

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  • Google's Project Loon Can Now Launch Up To 20 Balloons Per Day, Fly 10x Longer

    An anonymous reader writes Google [Thursday] shared an update from Project Loon, the company's initiative to bring high-speed Internet access to remote areas of the world via hot air balloons. Google says it now has the ability to launch up to 20 of these balloons per day. This is in part possible because the company has improved its autofill equipment to a point where it can fill a balloon in under five minutes. This is a major achievement, given that Google says filling a Project Loon balloon with enough air so that it is ready for flight is the equivalent of inflating 7,000 party balloons.

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  • Indian Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Snub Android One Phones

    oyenamit writes Online shopping in India is still in its infancy but is growing tremendously to reach the mostly untapped market of 1.2 billion people. Invariably, the conflict between pure online retailers like Amazon and Flipkart and brick and mortar stores was bound to emerge. Unfortunately for Google's Android One, it has been on the receiving end of this friction. Leading brick and mortar retailers in India have refused to sell Android One handsets ever since the US company chose to launch its products exclusively online. The three Android One makers in India — Micromax, Karbonn and Spice — launched their handsets exclusively online in mid-September. When sales did not meet their expectations, they decided to release their products via the brick and mortar store channel. However, smaller retailer and mom-n-pop shops have decided to show their displeasure at having being left out of the launch by deciding not to stock Android One. The Android One phones, announced at the most recent Google I/O, are Google's attempt to bring stock Android (as on Google's Nexus devices) to emerging markets, with competent but not high-end phones.

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  • Critical XSS Flaws Patched In WordPress and Popular Plug-In

    itwbennett writes The WordPress development team on Thursday released critical security updates that address an XSS vulnerability in the comment boxes of WordPress posts and pages. An attacker could exploit this flaw to create comments with malicious JavaScript code embedded in them that would get executed by the browsers of users seeing those comments. 'In the most obvious scenario the attacker leaves a comment containing the JavaScript and some links in order to put the comment in the moderation queue,' said Jouko Pynnonen, the security researcher who found the flaw.

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  • Startup Assembly Banks On Paid, Open-Source Style Development

    enbody writes A year-old startup, Assembly, is built on the premise of creating products using open-source style development, but structured in a way that you get paid for your contributions. Open-source development is well-known in the Slashdot community, as are a variety of ways to earn a living around open-source, such as support. What is new here is being paid as part of the development, and not just for coding — your contribution might be as project manager or sales. A nice description with video showed up today on the Verge. Of course, the devil is in the details, but they have products so someone in Slashdot land may be interested. (Bias warning: I know one of these guys.)

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