By Soulskill from Slashdot's looking-forward-to-jailbreaking-my-breadmaker department
The Atlantic is running an article about how "smart" devices are starting to see everyday use in many people's home. The authors say this will fundamentally change the concept of what it means to own and control your possessions
. Using smartphones as an example, they extrapolate this out to a future where many household items are dependent on software. Quoting:These phones come with all kinds of restrictions on their possible physical capabilities. You may not take them apart. Depending on the plan, not all software can be downloaded onto them, not every device can be tethered to them, and not every cell phone network can be tapped. "Owning" a phone is much more complex than owning a plunger. And if the big tech players building the wearable future, the Internet of things, self-driving cars, and anything else that links physical stuff to the network get their way, our relationship to ownership is about to undergo a wild transformation.
They also suggest that planned obsolescence will become much more common. For example, take watches: a quality dumbwatch can last decades, but a smartwatch will be obsolete in a few years.Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's competition-is-a-good-thing department
An anonymous reader writes: In early 2013, Canonical showed the world Ubuntu Touch, a version of Ubuntu developed specifically for smartphones. Now, the mobile operating system has finally reached "release to manufacturing" status. (Here's the release announcement.) The first phone running Ubuntu Touch, the Meizu MX4, will start shipping in December. "Details are scarce on its hardware, but a leak from iGeek suggests the Pro variant may have a Samsung Exynos 5430 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 2560x1536 resolution screen. ... This more powerful hardware is good news if true, and it bodes well for Ubuntu's vision of computing convergence." Softpedia has a preview of the RTM version of the OS. They say performance has improved significantly, even on old phones, and that the UI has been polished into a much better state.Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what-does-roe-v-wade-say-about-this? department
writes: The next great leap in human spaceflight is a manned mission to a world within our Solar System: most likely Mars. But if something went wrong along the journey — at launch, close to Earth, or en route — whether biological or mechanical, would there be any way to return to Earth? This article is a fun (and sobering) look at what the limits of physics and technology allow at present.
If you're interested in a hard sci-fi, near-future look at how a catastrophic Mars mission might go, you should read an excellent novel called The Martian
by Andy Weir
.Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-demand-a-recount department
New submitter Raymondware
sends an update to last week's news
that NASA had awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to provide rockets for future manned spaceflight. Now, one of their competitors, Sierra Nevada Corp, has announced it will launch a legal challenge to the contracts
. The company claims the government is spending $900 million more than it needs to
for equivalent fulfillment, and they're demanding a review. They add,Importantly, the official NASA solicitation for the CCtCap contract prioritized price as the primary evaluation criteria for the proposals, setting it equal to the combined value of the other two primary evaluation criteria: mission suitability and past performance. SNC’s Dream Chaser proposal was the second lowest priced proposal in the CCtCap competition. SNC’s proposal also achieved mission suitability scores comparable to the other two proposals. In fact, out of a possible 1,000 total points, the highest ranked and lowest ranked offerors were separated by a minor amount of total points and other factors were equally comparable.Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's causing-frustration-is-a-valid-design-strategy department
An anonymous reader writes "The Z-80 microprocessor has been around since 1976, and it was used in many computers at the beginning of the PC revolution. (For example, the TRS-80, Commodore 128, and ZX Spectrum.) Ken Shirriff has been working on reverse engineering the Z-80, and one of the things he noticed is that the data pins coming out of the chip are in seemingly random order: 4, 3, 5, 6, 2, 7, 0, 1. (And a +5V pin is stuck in the middle.) After careful study, he's come up with an explanation for this seemingly odd design. "The motivation behind splitting the data bus is to allow the chip to perform activities in parallel. For instance an instruction can be read from the data pins into the instruction logic at the same time that data is being copied between the ALU and registers.
[B]ecause the Z-80 splits the data bus into multiple segments, only four data lines run to the lower right corner of the chip. And because the Z-80 was very tight for space, running additional lines would be undesirable. Next, the BIT instructions use instruction bits 3, 4, and 5 to select a particular bit. This was motivated by the instruction structure the Z-80 inherited from the 8080. Finally, the Z-80's ALU requires direct access to instruction bits 3, 4, and 5 to select the particular data bit. Putting these factors together, data pins 3, 4, and 5 are constrained to be in the lower right corner of the chip next to the ALU. This forces the data pins to be out of sequence, and that's why the Z-80 has out-of-order data pins."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's everyone-has-their-reasons department
An anonymous reader writes "Open source operating systems vulnerable to the Shellshock bug have already pushed two patches to fix the vulnerability, but Apple has yet to issue one for Mac OS X. Ars Technica speculates that licensing issues may be giving Apple pause: "[T]he current [bash] version is released under the GNU Public License version 3 (GPLv3). Apple has avoided bundling GPLv3-licensed software because of its stricter license terms....Apple executives may feel they have to have their own developers make modifications to the bash code.""
It's also worth noting that there are still flaws with the patches issued so far
. Meanwhile, Fedora Magazine has published an easy-to-follow description of how Shellshock actually works
. The Free Software Foundation has also issued a statement about Shellshock
.Read Replies (0)