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Researchers Hack Philips Hue Smart Bulbs Using a Drone
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 06:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's reach-for-the-sky department:
schwit1 quotes a report from PCWorld: "Researchers were able to take control of some Philips Hue lights using a drone. Based on an exploit for the ZigBee Light Link Touchlink system, white hat hackers were able to remotely control the Hue lights via drone and cause them to blink S-O-S in Morse code. The drone carried out the attack from more than a thousand feet away. Using the exploit, the researchers were able to bypass any prohibitions against remote access of the networked light bulbs, and then install malicious firmware. At that point the researchers were able to block further wireless updates, which apparently made the infection irreversible. 'There is no other method of reprogramming these [infected] devices without full disassemble (which is not feasible). Any old stock would also need to be recalled, as any devices with vulnerable firmware can be infected as soon as power is applied,' according to the researchers. The researchers notified Philips of the vulnerability. The company then delivered a patch for it in October." It wasn't long ago that claiming "Drones are controlling my lightbulbs!" would have gotten you locked up for your own protection.

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Alphabet's 'Project Wing' Drone Service Nixes Starbucks Partnership
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's budget-restrictions department:
Bloomberg is reporting that Google's parent company Alphabet is tightening the reigns on Project Wing, a unit of Alphabet's X research lab, by "trimming headcount and shelving initiatives." What's more is that they've reportedly nixed a partnership with Starbucks. Bloomberg reports: Following the departure of project leader Dave Vos in October, the unit also froze hiring and began asking some staff to seek jobs elsewhere in the company, according to some of those people [familiar with the decision]. The decisions are part of a broader Alphabet effort to rein in spending and try to turn more experimental projects from loss-making risky bets into real businesses. Drones are in a particularly knotty place. U.S. federal regulation does not yet allow for delivery, except in select test zones. However, Alphabet's deceleration comes as other technology companies, including Amazon.com Inc., plow money into drone delivery. In August, Project Wing won approval for test flights at a U.S. site, part of a White House effort to encourage unmanned vehicle delivery. Then in September, Alphabet announced a new foray: a partnership with Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. to deliver food via drone at Virginia Tech. Alphabet was in advanced talks with Starbucks and had tested delivery with the coffee-chain operator, according to two people familiar with the plans. Those plans were nixed, largely over disagreements about the access to customer data that Alphabet wanted, according to a former X employee.

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Ubuntu Budgie Is Now An Official Ubuntu Flavor
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-will-they-think-of-next department:
prisoninmate writes from a report via Softpedia: After two successful major releases, budgie-remix has finally been accepted as an official Ubuntu flavor, earlier today during a meeting where four Canonical technicians voted positive. As such, we're extremely happy to inform our readers that the new Ubuntu flavor is called Ubuntu Budgie. In April this year, when budgie-remix hit the road towards its first major release, versioned 16.04, we reported that David Mohammed was kind enough to inform Softpedia about the fact that he got in touch with Ubuntu MATE leader Martin Wimpress, who urged the developer to target Ubuntu 16.10 for an official status. budgie-remix 16.10 arrived as well this fall shortly after the release of Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak), and the dream of becoming an official Ubuntu flavor is now a reality. Re-branding of the official website and the entire distribution is ongoing. "We now move full steam ahead and look forward to working with the Ubuntu Develop Membership Board to examine and work through the technical aspects [...] 17.04 will be our first official release under the new name," said David Mohammed in the announcement.

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4chan May Have Brought Down Pro-Clinton Phone Lines Before Election Day
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 04:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's bump-in-the-road department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Yesterday, as groups across the country hit the final stretch of their get-out-the-vote campaigns, workers at NextGen Climate noticed some problems with their automated dialer program. As the team started its morning hours, the program used to initiate and monitor voter calls was suddenly clunky, and cut out entirely for crucial hours in the afternoon. The downtime wasn't a coincidence. Just after midnight on Sunday night, a post on 4chan's /pol/ board announced an impending denial-of-service attack on any tools used by the Clinton campaign, employing the same Mirai botnet code that blocked access to Twitter and Spotify last month. One of those targets was TCN, the Utah-based call center company that runs NextGen's dialer. According to the post's author, the company was also providing phone services to Hillary Clinton's offices in Nevada. "List targets here that if taken out could harm Clinton's chances of winning and I will pounce on them like a wild animal," the post reads. "Not sleeping until after this election is over." TCN confirmed the outage in a statement, describing the attack as "fairly sophisticated in nature." According to the statement, "the primary impacts were a slow site and a few brief periods of unavailability." The statement also makes it clear that NextGen Climate was far from the only group slowed down by the outage. TCN manages calling services for 2000 different clients, with a particularly brisk business during campaign season handling "everything from inbound information IVRs, outbound surveys to volunteer outreach."

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The First Hyperloop System Will Connect Passengers From Dubai To Abu Dhabi In Twelve Minutes
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 04:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-blink department:
Hyperloop One has announced today that it would build the first commercial hyperloop transportation system from Dubai to Abu Dhabi -- a trip that would take only twelve minutes. TechCrunch reports: The journey is 99 miles (159.4 km) long and normally takes about two hours by car but H1 promises it would take a mere 12 minutes in the hyperloop. H1 is partnering with the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to evaluate the feasibility of building this system in greater Dubai and the UAE and the announcement follows the next stage of development for the company, which is gearing up for its "Kitty Hawk" moment early next year when H1 will test a full-scale prototype of its system in the Nevada desert. It's also part of the company's next stage of progress in Dubai. Last August H1 co-founder Shervin Pishevar hinted the first hyperloop would be built overseas and the company announced in October it received $50 million in funding from DP World Group of Dubai, the third-largest ports operator in the world, to build a hyperloop system to move cargo throughout the country and the world. You can watch H1's new video that shows their "vision for the future of mobility" here.

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Ireland Will Bring the Fight Over Apple Taxes To the EU Court
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-get-serious department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: The tax debate between Apple, Ireland, and the European Union may escalate in the next few months. According to recent reports, the Irish Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, will bring the debate to the EU court, a move that could trigger a years-long court battle. The battle stems from a European Commission finding that Ireland had been giving Apple tax breaks, something that has attracted a number of multinational employers to Ireland. The EU, however, has ordered the practices to change. After a three-year probe into Ireland's relationship with Apple, the European Commission ordered Ireland to collect $14.5 billion in back taxes from the company. That is the largest state-aid payback demand in history. The decision has been the subject of criticism, particularly from this side of the Atlantic. The U.S. Treasury Department says the decision is a threat "to undermine foreign investment, the business climate in Europe, and the important spirit of economic partnership between the U.S. and the EU." Apple has also vowed to fight against the EU decision, and those appeals will follow the ones already pending in Luxembourg, where the EU is headquartered. Those pending appeals include cases against Starbucks.

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After Protest, Lenovo Releases BIOS For Loading Linux on Yoga 900, IdeaPad 710S
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 02:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's rectifying-mistakes department:
Lenovo received a lot of heat in September when it said the Yoga 900 and Yoga 900S hybrids would only support Windows, and not Linux. The company has now changed its stance, though there is still a catch. An anonymous reader shares a Lilputing article: But now you can install Linux, because Lenovo has released new BIOS options for those laptops. There's a bit of a catch though. Lenovo's new BIOS has an AHCI option that lets you install Linux... but if you're using the new BIOS, then Windows is not officially supported. In fact, Lenovo says it's not officially supporting the new BIOS either... if you want to install it, you're pretty much on your own if you run into any problems. While Lenovo is presenting this as an either/or solution for choosing whether you want to run Windows or Linux. But some users have discovered that it is possible to set up dual-boot system using the new BIOS, allowing you to choose between Windows and Linux when your computer boots.

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CBC Threatens Podcast App Makers, Argues that RSS Readers Violate Copyright
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's copyright-conundrum department:
Cory Doctorow, writing for BoingBoing (condensed):The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) publishes several excellent podcasts, and like every podcast in the world, these podcasts are available via any podcast app in the same way that all web pages can be fetched with all web browsers -- this being the entire point of podcasts. In a move of breathtaking, lawless ignorance, the CBC has begun to send legal threats to podcast app-makers, arguing that making an app that pulls down public RSS feeds is a "commercial use" and a violation of the public broadcaster's copyrights. This is a revival of an old, dark era in the web's history, when linking policies prevailed, through which publishes argued that they had the right to control who could make a link to their sites -- that is, who could state the public, true fact that "a page exists at this address." But the CBC is going one worse here: their argument is that making a tool that allows someone to load a public URL without permission is violating copyright law -- it's the same thing as saying, "Because Google is a for-profit corporation, any time a Chrome user loads a CBC page in the Chrome browser without the CBC's permission, Google is violating CBC's copyright."We hope it was all an accidental mistake from the CBC, because it seems like a very stupid thing to do otherwise.

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Ask Slashdot: Should Web Browsers Have 'Fact Checking' Capability Built-In?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-questions department:
Reader dryriver writes: There is no shortage of internet websites these days that peddle "information", "knowledge", "analysis", "explanations" or even supposed "facts" that don't hold up to even the most basic scrutiny -- one quick trip over to Wikipedia, Snopes, an academic journal or another reasonably factual/unbiased source, and you realize that you've just been fed a triple dose of factually inaccurate horsecrap masquerading as "fact". Unfortunately, many millions of more naive internet users appear to frequent sites daily that very blatantly peddle "untruths", "pseudo-facts" or even "agitprop-like disinformation", the latter sometimes paid for by someone somewhere. No small number of these more gullible internet users then wind up believing just about everything they read or watch on these sites, and in some cases cause other gullible people in the offline world to believe in them too. Now here is an interesting idea: What if your internet browser -- whether Edge, Firefox, Chrome, Opera or other -- was able provide an "information accuracy rating" of some sort when you visit a certain URL. Perhaps something like "11,992 internet users give this website a factual accuracy rating of 3.7/10. This may mean that the website you are visiting is prone to presenting information that may not be factually accurate." You could also take this 2 steps further. You could have a small army of "certified fact checkers" -- people with scientific credentials, positions in academia or similar -- provide a rolling "expert rating" on the very worst of these websites, displayed as "warning scores" by the web browser. Or you could have a keyword analysis algorithm/AI/web crawler go through the webpage you are looking at, try to cross-reference the information presented to you against a selection of "more trusted sources" in the background, and warn you if information presented on a webpage as "fact" simply does not check out. Is this a good idea? Could it be made to work technically? Might a browser feature like this make the internet as a whole a "more factually accurate place" to get information from?That's a remarkable idea. It appears to me that many companies are working on it -- albeit not fast enough, many can say. Google, for instance, recently began adding "Fact check" to some stories in search results. I am not sure how every participating player in this game could implement this in their respective web browsers though. Then there is this fundamental issue: the ability to quickly check whether or not something is indeed accurate. There's too much noise out there, and many publications and blogs report on things (upcoming products, for instance) before things are official. How do you verify such stories? If the NYTimes says, for instance, Apple is not going to launch any iPhone next year, and every website cites NYTimes and republishes it, how do you fact check that? And at last, a lot of fake stories circulate on Facebook. You may think it's a problem. Obama may think it's a problem, but does Facebook see it as a problem? For all it care, those stories are still generating engagement on its site.

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Web of Trust, Downloaded 140M Times, Pulled From Extension Stores After Revelations That It Sells Users' Data
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 12:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shoo-away department:
According to multiple reports, Web of Trust, one of the top privacy and security extensions for web browsers with over 140 million downloads, collects and sells some of the data of its users -- and it does without properly anonymizing it. Upon learning about this, Mozilla, Google and Opera quickly pulled the extension off their respective extension stores. From a report on The Register: A browser extension which was found to be harvesting users' browsing histories and selling them to third parties has had its availability pulled from a number of web browsers' add-on repositories. Last week, an investigative report by journalists at the Hamburg-based German television broadcaster, Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), revealed that Web of Trust Services (WoT) had been harvesting netizens' web browsing histories through its browser add-on and then selling them to third parties. While WoT claimed it anonymised the data that it sold, the journalists were able to identify more than 50 users from the sample data it acquired from an intermediary. NDR quoted the data protection commissioner of Hamburg, Johannes Caspar, criticising WoT for not adequately establishing whether users consented to the tracking and selling of their browsing data. Those consent issues have resulted in the browser add-on being pulled from the add-on repositories of both Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, although those who have already installed the extension in their browsers will need to manually uninstall it to stop their browsing being tracked.

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Teachers 'Unwittingly' Spying On School Children With Surveillance Software
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 12:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
An anonymous reader writes: A thousand schools across the UK are monitoring children's classroom activities through surveillance software, according to a new report released by privacy advocate group Big Brother Watch. The paper claims that schools have spent an estimated 2.5 million pound ($3.1 million USD) on monitoring solutions to keep an eye on pupils. The technology, known as 'Classroom Management Software', tracks computer usage, including pupil internet activity, browser history, and even keyboard strokes. The report found that 70% of secondary schools (PDF) in Britain have installed monitoring systems, across more than 800,000 school-owned devices and near to 1,500 privately-owned devices.

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Tesla Crash Won't Stop Driverless Car Progress: Renault-Nissan CEO
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 10:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's clear-future department:
Problems Issues with Tesla's self-driving software that were linked to the death of a driver this year would not block the development of autonomous vehicles, Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Renault-Nissan, said on Tuesday. From a report on CNBC: In September, Tesla revealed the death of a man in one of its cars in a crash in the Netherlands and said that the "autopilot" software's role in the accident was being investigated. "In the moments leading up to the collision, there is no evidence to suggest that Autopilot was not operating as designed and as described to users: specifically, as a driver assistance system that maintains a vehicle's position in lane and adjusts the vehicle's speed to match surrounding traffic," Tesla said in a blog post at the time. This incident shone a spotlight on autonomous driving features currently in cars as automakers are in a race to bring fully driverless cars on the road. During an interview at the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon, Ghosn said that the teething problems with Tesla's autonomous software would not derail the industry's push.

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Samsung Takes Out Full-page Ads on WSJ, NYTimes, and WaPo To Apologize For Note 7 Defects
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 10:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's apology-in-print department:
Samsung has taken out a full-page advert in multiple US newspapers to apologise for the faulty Note 7 phone, which has now been subject to a worldwide recall. From a report on the Guardian, shared by an anonymous reader:The advert in Monday's Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post, is signed by Samsung's North America chief executive, Gregory Lee. It offers an apology for falling short on the company's ambition to "offer best-in-class safety and quality. We will re-examine every aspect of the device, including all hardware, software, manufacturing and the overall battery structure," Lee wrote. "We will move as quickly as possible, but will take the time needed to get the right answers." The apology focuses on the Note 7, which was supposed to be Samsung's flagship extra-large phone until it was revealed that it had a dangerous tendency to overheat and catch fire.Earlier this month, ahead of Microsoft unveiling Microsoft Teams, rival app Slack also did a full-page ad, mocking Microsoft. Perhaps, these ads will keep newspapers afloat in the years to come.

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DRM is Used to Lock in, Control and Spy on Users, Says Free Software Foundation
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 09:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's enough? department:
In a scathing critique, the Free Software Foundation is urging the U.S. Government to drop the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions which protect DRM. From a report on TorrentFreak:Late last year the U.S. Copyright office launched a series of public consultations to review critical aspects of the DMCA law. FSF sees no future for DRM and urges the Copyright Office to repeal the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions. "Technological protection measures and Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) play no legitimate role in protecting copyrighted works. Instead, they are a means of controlling users and creating 'lock in'," FSF's Donald Robertson writes. According to FSF, copyright is just an excuse, the true purpose is to lock down and control users. "Companies use this control illegitimately with an eye toward extracting maximum revenue from users in ways that have little connection to actual copyright law. In fact, these restrictions are technological impediments to the rights users have under copyright law, such as fair use." Even if copyright was the main concern, DRM would be an overbroad tool to achieve the goal, the foundation notes. FSF highlights that DRM is not just used to control people but also to spy on them, by sending all kinds of personal data to technology providers. This is done to generate extra income at the expense of users' rights, they claim. "DRM enables companies to spy on their users, and use that data for profit," Robertson adds. "DRM is frequently used to spy on users by requiring that they maintain a connection to the Internet so that the program can send information back to the DRM provider about the user's actions," he adds.

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Facebook Puts Deep Learning in the Palm of Your Hand
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 08:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's deep-learning-quest department:
Facebook has built a simple-looking video tool to show off a sophisticated use of artificial intelligence on cell phones. From a report on Fortune: During an event at its office in Menlo Park, Calif., last Friday afternoon, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer showed off software that takes a live Facebook video feed from a cell phone and converts the image in real time into a selection of artistic styles, such as that of Van Gogh. It might sound like a simple filter, but usually, an algorithm of this nature would need to send that type of information back to a server in a data center to process the pixels on more powerful machines. The Facebook crew crafted a less power-hungry and computing-intensive deep learning system they call "Caffe2Go," that uses the computing power in a cell phone. Facebook's Schroepfer showed the algorithm and other applications of artificial intelligence at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Portugal on Tuesday. Last Friday, he called the system a "pretty big leap" and "a real neural net running on a phone in real time."

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Twitter May Save Vine by Selling it
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 08:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's here's-to-the-hope department:
Internet products come and go. Twitter announced late last month that it will be shutting down its micro-video platform Vine. But the fate of Vine, which has since received a lot of support, could change. Twitter has received a large number of bids from interested parties looking to buy the app, reports TechCrunch. From the article: One source says that at least some of the offers are for less than $10 million, indicating Twitter might not generate significant revenue directly from selling Vine. However, Vine could still benefit Twitter even if it's owned by someone who would help it thrive and retain the strong integration between the two apps. Vine content plays instantly in the Twitter stream, bolstering its current parent company's quest to serve more video that could attract user engagement.

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DDoS Attack Halts Heating in Finland Amidst Winter
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 08:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's topsy-turvy-world department:
A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack halted heating distribution at least in two properties in the city of Lappeenranta, located in Eastern Finland. In both of these events, the attacks disabled the computers that were controlling heating in the buildings. An anonymous reader writes: Both of the buildings were managed by Valtia, the company which is in charge of managing the buildings overall operation and maintenance. According to Valtia CEO, Simo Ruonela, in both cases the systems that controlled the central heating and warm water circulation were disabled. In the city of Lappeenranta, there were at least two buildings whose systems were knocked down by the network attack. According to Rounela, the attack in Eastern Finland lasted from late October to Thursday -- the 3rd of November. The systems that were attacked tried to respond to the attack by rebooting the main control circuit. This was repeated over and over so that heating was never working.

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US President Barack Obama Criticizes Facebook of Spreading Fake Stories
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 06:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's getting-real-news department:
An anonymous reader writes:Concerned over the spread of fake news on the social networking giant, US President Barack Obama has criticized Facebook, saying fake stories on social networks are spreading lies this election. Speaking at a rally for Hillary Clinton at University of Michigan, Obama said: "The way campaigns have unfolded, we just start accepting crazy stuff as normal and people if they just repeat attacks enough and outright lies over and over again. As long as it's on Facebook, and people can see it, as long as it's on social media, people start believing it, and it creates this dust cloud of nonsense," he told the gathering. A recent BuzzFeed investigation found that 38 percent of posts shared from three large right-wing politics pages on Facebook included "false or misleading information."

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Slashdot Asks: Is It Time To Dump Time Zones In Favor of Coordinated Universal Time?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 05:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-travel department:
Last Sunday, those of us in North America, Europe and some areas of the Middle East rolled back the clock an hour in accordance with Daylight Savings Time (DST). The tradition -- first imposed in Germany 100 years ago -- has been around for so long that many of us fail to question its significance. What is the importance of Daylight Savings Time? Is it still relevant in today's world? Is it time to dump time zones in general? James Gleick makes the case via the New York Times for switching to Coordinated Universal Time, or U.T.C.: When it's noon in Greenwich, Britain, let it be 12 everywhere. No more resetting the clocks. No more wondering what time it is in Peoria or Petropavlovsk. Our biological clocks can stay with the sun, as they have from the dawn of history. Only the numerals will change, and they have always been arbitrary. Some mental adjustment will be necessary at first. Every place will learn a new relationship with the hours. New York (with its longitudinal companions) will be the place where people breakfast at noon, where the sun reaches its zenith around 4 p.m., and where people start dinner close to midnight. ("Midnight" will come to seem a quaint word for the zero hour, where the sun still shines.) In Sydney, the sun will set around 7 a.m., but the Australians can handle it; after all, their winter comes in June. The question has been posed before, but given the timeliness of Daylight Savings Time, we think the question may evoke some new, heartfelt attitudes and beliefs: Is it time to dump time zones in favor of Coordinated Universal Time?

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Long-Range Projectiles For Navy's Newest Ship Too Expensive To Shoot
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '16 at 02:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's looks-good-on-paper department:
An anonymous reader writes: The USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) is the U.S. Navy's latest warship, commissioned just last month -- and it comes with the biggest guns the Navy has deployed since the twilight of the battleships. But it turns out the Zumwalt's guns won't be getting much of a workout any time soon, aside from acceptance testing. That's because the special projectiles they were intended to fire are so expensive that the Navy has canceled its order. As [Ars] described [Zumwalt's Advanced Gun System (AGS)] in a story two years ago: "The automated AGS can fire 10 rocket-assisted, precision-guided projectiles per minute at targets over 100 miles away. Those projectiles use GPS and inertial guidance to improve the gun's accuracy to a 50 meter (164 feet) circle of probable error -- meaning that half of its GPS-guided shells will fall within that distance from the target." The projectile responsible for that accuracy -- something far too complex to just be called a "shell" or "bullet" -- is the Long Range Land-Attack Projectile (LRLAP). Each projectile has precision guidance provided by internal global positioning and inertial sensors, and bursts of LRLAPs could in theory be fired over a minute following different ballistic trajectories that cause them to land all at the same time. Lockheed Martin won the competition to produce the LRLAPs, and the company described their capabilities thusly: "155mm LRLAP provides single strike lethality against a wide range of targets, with three times the lethality of traditional 5-inch naval ballistic rounds -- and because it is guided, fewer rounds can produce similar or more lethal effects at less cost. LRLAP has the capability to guide multiple rounds launched from the same gun to strike single or multiple targets simultaneously, maximizing lethal effects." The "less cost" part, however, turned out to be a pipe dream. With the reduction of the Zumwalt class to a total of three ships, the corresponding reduction in requirements for LRLAP production raised the production costs just as the price of the ships they would be deployed to soared. Defense News reports that the Navy is canceling production of the LRLAP because of an $800,000-per-shot price tag -- more than 10 times the original projected cost.

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