By samzenpus from Slashdot's mine-now-I-take-it department
An anonymous reader writes about a Chinese building project designed to cement claims to a disputed region of the South China Sea
. Sand, cement, wood, and steel are China's weapons of choice as it asserts its claim over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Brunei have sparred for decades over ownership of the 100 islands and reefs, which measure less than 1,300 acres in total but stretch across an area about the size of Iraq. In recent months, vessels belonging to the People's Republic have been spotted ferrying construction materials to build new islands in the sea. Pasi Abdulpata, a Filipino fishing contractor who in October was plying the waters near Parola Island in the northern Spratlys, says he came across "this huge Chinese ship sucking sand and rocks from one end of the ocean and blasting it to the other using a tube."
Artificial islands could help China anchor its claim to waters that host some of the world's busiest shipping lanes. The South China Sea may hold as much as 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. China has considered the Spratlys—which it calls Nansha—part of its territory since the 1940s and on occasion has used its military might to enforce its claim. In 1988 a Chinese naval attack at Johnson South Reef, in the northern portion of the archipelago, killed 64 Vietnamese border guards.Read Replies (0)
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I-see-you department
An anonymous reader writes For better or worse, surveillance technology is becoming more common in the workplace. These tools are being used to measure and monitor employees, with the promise changing how people work. "Through these new means, companies have found, for example, that workers are more productive if they have more social interaction. So a bank's call center introduced a shared 15-minute coffee break, and a pharmaceutical company replaced coffee makers used by a few marketing workers with a larger cafe area. The result? Increased sales and less turnover." Of course, this kind of monitoring raises privacy concerns. "Whether this kind of monitoring is effective or not, it's a concern," said Lee Tien, a senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.Read Replies (0)
By samzenpus from Slashdot's clockwork-people department
An anonymous reader writes with this interesting look at how Disney created realistic animatronic figures in a time before programming languages and systems on a chip
. Animatronics have powered some of sci-fi and fantasy cinema's most imposing creatures and characters: The alien queen in Aliens, the Terminator in The Terminator, and Jaws of Jaws (the key to getting top billing in Hollywood: be a robot). Even beloved little E.T.—of E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial—was a pile of aluminum, steel, and foam rubber capable of 150 robotic actions, including wrinkling its nose. But although animatronics is a treasured component of some of culture's farthest-reaching movies, it originated in much more mundane circumstances. According to the Disney archives, it began with a bird.
Among the things Walt Disney was renowned for was bringing animatronics (or what he termed at the time Audio-Animatronics) to big stages at his company and elsewhere. But Disney didn't discover or invent animatronics for entertainment use; rather, he found it in a store. In a video on Disney's site, Disney archivist Dave Smith tells a story of how one day in the early 1950s, while out shopping in New Orleans antique shop, Disney took note of a tiny cage with a tinier mechanical bird, bobbing its tail and wings while tweeting tunelessly. He bought the trinket and brought it back to his studio, where his technicians took the bird apart to see how it worked.Read Replies (0)
By samzenpus from Slashdot's protect-ya-neck department
An anonymous reader writes "Even though it's been a couple months since the Heartbleed bug was discovered, many servers remain unpatched and vulnerable. "Two months ago, security experts and web users panicked when a Google engineer discovered a major bug — known as Heartbleed — that put over a million web servers at risk. The bug doesn't make the news much anymore, but that doesn't mean the problem's solved. Security researcher Robert David Graham has found that at least 309,197 servers are still vulnerable to the exploit. Immediately after the announcement, Graham found some 600,000 servers were exposed by Heartbleed. One month after the bug was announced, that number dropped down to 318,239. In the past month, however, only 9,042 of those servers have been patched to block Heartbleed. That's cause for concern, because it means that smaller sites aren't making the effort to implement a fix.""Read Replies (0)
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-bang department
An anonymous reader writes A few months ago researchers announced they had discovered proof of the big bang. Now they're not so sure. Further research suggests cosmic dust might have skewed the results. "Back in March, the BICEP2 team reported a twisted pattern in the sky, which they attributed to primordial gravitational waves, wrinkles in the fabric of the universe that could have been produced when the baby universe went through an enormous growth spurt. If correct, this would confirm the theory of inflation, which says that the universe expanded exponentially in the first slivers of a second after the big bang – many believe that it continues to expand into an ever-growing multiverse. Doubts about the announcement soon emerged. The BICEP2 team identified the waves based on how they twisted, or polarised, the photons in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the earliest light emitted in the universe around 380,000 years after the big bang. Other objects, such as the ashes of exploding stars or dust within our galaxy, can polarise light as well."Read Replies (0)