By Soulskill from Slashdot's need-some-volunteer-space-garbagemen department
Following a conference on space debris, the European Space Agency has warned that the amount of space junk floating around in orbit is a problem that needs to be dealt with 'urgently.'
They are calling for a number of test missions to examine different methods of controlling or removing the debris. "Our understanding of the growing space debris problem can be compared with our understanding of the need to address Earth’s changing climate some 20 years ago," said Heiner Klinkrad, head of the agency's Space Debris office. A couple years ago we discussed
an idea for de-orbiting space junk by hitting it with a laser to change its momentum. An Australian company has now received funding from NASA and the Australian government to try just that
. "We've been developing tracking systems using lasers for some years, so we can actually track very small objects with a laser rangefinder to very high accuracy. ... If you allow that velocity to change over a period of perhaps 24 hours, then you can get actually a 100-meter shift in the location of an object to deflect it from colliding with another space debris object." Other plans are in development as well, and there currently exists an international guideline saying that new hardware must de-orbit and burn up in the atmosphere after 25 years of operation
— but compliance is lagging. Meanwhile, collision events are becoming more common
(PDF), and experts worry about the safety of the International Space Station and important satellites. "Their direct costs and the costs of losing them will by far exceed the cost of remedial activities."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's steam-shooting-from-ears department
silentbrad sends this quote from TheWrap:"'It's a deal with the devil,' one studio executive [said]. 'Cinedigm is being used as their pawn.' Cinedigm announced this weekend that it would offer the first seven minutes of the Emily Blunt-Colin Firth indie Arthur Newman exclusively to BitTorrent users, which number up to 170 million people.... Hollywood studios have spent years and many millions of dollars to protect their intellectual property and worry that by teaming up with BitTorrent, Cinedigm has embraced a company that imperils the financial underpinnings of the film business and should be kept at arm's length. 'It's great for BitTorrent and disingenuous of Cinedigm,' said the executive. 'The fact of the matter is BitTorrent is in it for themselves, they're not in it for the health of the industry.' Other executives including at Warner Brothers and Sony echoed those comments, fretting that Cinedigm had unwittingly opened a Pandora's box in a bid to get attention for its low-budget release. ... 'Blaming BitTorrent for piracy is like blaming a freeway for drunk drivers, ' Jill Calcaterra, Cinedigm's chief marketing officer said. 'How people use it can be positive for the industry or it can hurt the industry. We want it help us make this indie film successful.' ... 'We'll be working with all of [the studios] one day,' [Matt Mason, BitTorrent's vice president of marketing] said. 'It's really up to them how quickly they come to the table and realize we're not the villain, we're the heroes.'"Read Replies (2)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's say-its-name-three-times-in-front-of-a-mirror-site department
Chrisq writes: "Our software landscape includes a number of open source components, and we currently assume that these components will follow the same life-cycle as commercial products: they will have a beta or test phase, a supported phase, and finally reach the end of life. In fact, a clear statement that support is ended is unusual. The statement by Apache that Struts 1 has reached end of life
is almost unique. What we usually find is:
Projects that appear to be obviously inactive, having had no updates for years
Projects that are obviously not going to be used in any new deployments because the standard language, library, or platform now has the capability built in
Projects that are rapidly losing developers to some more-trendy alternative project
Projects whose status is unclear, with some releases and statements in the forums that they are 'definitely alive,' but which seem to have lost direction or momentum.
Projects that have had no updates but are highly stable and do what is necessary, but are risky because they may not interoperate with future upgrades to other components. By the treating Open Source in the same way as commercial software we only start registering risks when there is an official announcement. We have no metric we can use to accurately gauge the state of an open source component — but there are a number of components that we have a 'bad feeling' about. Are there any standard ways of assessing the status of an open source project? Do you use the same stages for open source as commercial components? How do you incorporate these in a software landscape to indicate at-risk components and dependencies?"Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's prime-time-programming-brought-to-you-by-4chan department
An anonymous reader writes "EW debates how broadcasters might (and might not) benefit from letting the Internet help decide which of their pilots get series orders (like Amazon is doing with their new original content efforts). If NBC had posted its pilots online, would we have been spared 'Animal Practice'? It's an interesting idea, but not without faults: 'According to Nielsen’s research, the vast majority of TV viewing is still on a traditional set. Having pilots judged by online viewers would give networks a skewed sense of what might work in the fall — the entire broadcast schedule might be nothing but sci-fi shows, tween-lit adaptions and whatever Joss Whedon wants to do ... "If something isn’t picked up, for whatever reason, but people really liked it, that could be a problem," one network insider said. "Or if people hated something, and we pick it up — again, for whatever reason — you’re starting off on a bad note." ... Noted a major network programming researcher: "Great pilots don’t always make great television series." Conversely, if you’re a network executive, you usually don’t need millions of people to tell you a show sucks."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's later-comes-the-voice-control department
An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from ExtremeTech: "Researchers at the University of Washington's aptly named Ubiquitous Computing Lab can turn any LCD monitor in your house into a touchscreen, with nothing more than a $5 sensor that plugs into the wall and some clever software."
The system works by measuring changes that your hand creates in the electromagnetic signature of the monitor. Surprisingly, it offers some pretty fine-grained detection, too: "full-hand touch, five-finger touch, hovering above the screen, pushing, and pulling." The "$5 sensor" part is mostly theoretical for now to those of us who don't live in a lab, though; on the other hand, "co-author Sidhant Gupta tells Technology Review that the $5 sensor uses off-the-shelf parts, and the algorithms are included in the paper, so it would be fairly easy for you — or a commercial entity — to recreate the uTouch system."Read Replies (0)