By msmash from Slashdot's up,-up,-and-away department
Blue Origin pulled off another successful test launch today, landing both the New Shepard rocket -- a reusable vehicle designed to take tourists to the edge of space and back -- and capsule after flight. From a report: The company ignited the capsule's emergency motor after it had separated from the rocket, pushing the spacecraft up to a top altitude of around 74 miles -- a new record for Blue Origin. The firing also caused the capsule to sustain up to 10 Gs during the test, but Blue Origin host Ariane Cornell said "that is well within what humans can take, especially for such a short spurt of time." [...] The rocket which went up today is the third New Shepard vehicle that the company has ever flown. The first one flew to a super high altitude in April 2015, but the booster was unable to land back on Earth after flight. The second iteration of the vehicle was much more successful, however. Blue Origin launched and landed the rocket and booster a total of five times before retiring the system. This third New Shepard has already done two launches and landings, and it sports some upgrades over its predecessors. For instance, this one actually has windows in the crew capsule; the second vehicle had its windows painted on. Blue Origin is building even more vehicles to carry passengers, though there isn't a firm date for when the first crewed flights will occur. The company's president Rob Meyerson has estimated that the first test passengers could fly as soon as this year, while commercial flights could start in 2019. Blue Origin also plans to start selling tickets next year, too.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's clearer-look department
In the run up to the release of Fallout, the new movie in the Mission Impossible franchise, Paramount studio re-released the entire Mission Impossible series on 4K Blu-ray last month. The new discs aren't only a huge upgrade for cinephiles -- they're also a fascinating glimpse at how studios can revive older films for the 4K/HDR era. Engadget: "In terms of any re-transfers or remastering that we are doing for our HDR releases, we will go back to the highest resolution source available," Kirsten Pielstick, manager of Paramount's digital mastering group, said in an interview. In the case of Mission Impossible 1 and 2, that involved scanning the original 35mm negatives in 4K/16-bit. As you'd expect, the studio tries to get the original artists involved with any remasters, especially with something like HDR, which allows for higher brightness and more nuanced black levels. Pielstick worked with the director of photography (DP) for the first Mission Impossible film, Stephen H. Burum, to make sure its noir-like palette stayed intact. [...] "Our mastering philosophy here is always to work directly with the talent whenever possible, and use the new technology to enhance the movie, but always stay true to the intent of the movie," Pielstick said. "You're not going to want to make things brighter just because you can, if it's not the intent of how you were supposed to see things." [...] "You also have to remember that we're not putting in anything that didn't exist on the film [for HD remasters]," Pielstick added. "It was always there we just didn't have the ability to see it. So we're not adding anything new, we're not doing anything to increase those, we're just able to look at the negative in a much clearer way than we ever could before."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's measured-steps department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Today's tech startups have largely stayed out of the debate over whether antitrust law should be used to humble -- and possibly break up -- giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon. Startups are often in position to lead the antitrust charge against major competitors. But entrepreneurs face a dilemma: If they go running to regulators, they have to admit they're in danger and tick off a powerful player in their world. If they do nothing, they risk bleeding out. [...] Tech giants have immense leverage over startups. "The tech hypercaps have never been more powerful relative to startups, including Microsoft in the '90s," said Sam Altman, the president of startup accelerator Y Combinator. "[T]he resources are so mismatched it's an unfair fight." Startups (or larger competitors) can confidentially press their case before staff members at the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission, or the startups can go public with their concerns. With the exception of Yelp, there are no major startups in the U.S. that have turned to regulators to take on today's biggest companies, like Facebook, Amazon, or Google. [...] Why startups don't lodge antitrust complaints: "Running a startup, running a growth company there's so many things to do, and every hour is precious," said Albert Wenger, a managing partner at Union Square Ventures.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
The 2nd Circuit denies an immediate appeal in a case that challenges how news organizations used embedded photos of Tom Brady. The Hollywood Reporter: Back in February, a New York judge caused a bit of a freakout by issuing a copyright decision regarding the embedding of a copyrighted photo of NFL superstar Tom Brady. Now comes another surprise with potentially big ramifications to the future of embedding and in-line linking: The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has denied an interlocutory appeal. Justin Goldman is the plaintiff in the lawsuit after finding the photo of the New England Patriots quarterback he shot and uploaded to Snapchat go viral. Many news organizations embedded social media posts that took Goldman's photo in stories about whether the Boston Celtics would recruit NBA star Kevin Durant with Brady's assistance. Breitbart, Heavy, Time, Yahoo, Vox Media, Gannett Company, Herald Media, Boston Globe Media Partners and New England Sports Network were defendants in the lawsuit, but many of these companies have since settled. Heavy has not, and in February, U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Forrest shocked many legal observers with a decision that refused to apply the "Server Test," where the direct liability of a website publisher for copyright infringement turns on whether the image is hosted on the publisher's own server or is embedded or linked from a third-party server. Although the Server Test has been adopted in other jurisdictions, Forrest wrote, "The plain language of the Copyright Act, the legislative history undergirding its enactment, and subsequent Supreme Court jurisprudence provide no basis for a rule that allows the physical location or possession of an image to determine who may or may not have 'displayed' a work within the meaning of the Copyright Act." She added, "Nowhere does the Copyright Act suggest that possession of an image is necessary in order to display it. Indeed, the purpose and language of the Act support the opposite view."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's liar-liar-pants-on-fire department
Kim Zetter, reporting for Motherboard: The nation's top voting machine maker has admitted in a letter to a federal lawmaker that the company
installed remote-access software on election-management systems it sold over a period of six years, raising questions about the security of those systems and the integrity of elections that were conducted with them. In a letter sent to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in April and obtained recently by Motherboard, Election Systems and Software acknowledged that it had "provided pcAnywhere remote connection software ... to a small number of customers between 2000 and 2006," which was installed on the election-management system ES&S sold them. The statement contradicts what the company told me and fact checkers for a story I wrote for the New York Times in February. At that time, a spokesperson said ES&S had never installed pcAnywhere on any election system it sold. "None of the employees, â¦ including long-tenured employees, has any knowledge that our voting systems have ever been sold with remote-access software," the spokesperson said. ES&S did not respond on Monday to questions from Motherboard, and it's not clear why the company changed its response between February and April. Lawmakers, however, have subpoena powers that can compel a company to hand over documents or provide sworn testimony on a matter lawmakers are investigating, and a statement made to lawmakers that is later proven false can have greater consequence for a company than one made to reporters.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's backward-reasoning department
A secretive Australian startup called Zoox (an abbreviation of zooxanthellae, the algae that helps fuel coral reef growth) is working on an autonomous vehicle that is unlike any other. Theirs is all-electric and bidirectional, meaning it can cruise into a parking spot traveling one way and cruise out the other. It can make noises to communicate with pedestrians. It even has displays on the windows for passengers to interact with. Bloomberg sheds some light on this company, reporting on their ambitions to build the safest and most inventive autonomous vehicle on the road: Zoox founders Tim Kentley-Klay and Jesse Levinson say everyone else involved in the race to build a self-driving car is doing it wrong. Both founders sound quite serious as they argue that Zoox is obvious, almost inevitable. The world will eventually move to perfectly engineered robotic vehicles, so why waste time trying to incorporate self-driving technology into yesteryear's cars? Levinson, whose father, Arthur, ran Genentech Inc., chairs Apple Inc., and mentored Steve Jobs, comes from Silicon Valley royalty. Together, they've raised an impressive pile of venture capital: about $800 million to date, including $500 million in early July at a valuation of $3.2 billion. Even with all that cash, Zoox will be lucky to make it to 2020, when it expects to put its first vehicles on the road.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's too-hot-to-handle department
Last week, Apple announced new MacBook Pros, including a 15-inch model that supports Intel's 6-core 2.9GHz i9 processor. YouTube Dave Lee managed to get his hands on this top-of-the-line device early and run some tests, revealing that the laptop gets severely throttled due to thermal issues. 9to5Mac reports: Dave Lee this afternoon shared a new video on the Core i9 MacBook Pro he purchased, and according to his testing, the new machine is unable to maintain even its base clock speed after just a short time doing processor intensive work like video editing. "This CPU is an unlocked, overclockable chip but all of that CPU potential is wasted inside this chassis -- or more so the thermal solution that's inside here," says Lee.
He goes on to share some Premiere Pro render times that suggest the new 2018 MacBook Pro with Core i9 chip underperforms compared to a 2017 model with a Core i7 chip. It took 39 minutes for the 2018 MacBook Pro to render a video that the older model was able to render in 35 minutes. Premiere Pro is not well-optimized for macOS, but the difference between the two MacBook Pro models is notable. Lee ran the same test again with the 2018 MacBook Pro in the freezer, and in cooler temperatures, the i9 chip was able to offer outstanding performance, cutting that render time down to 27 minutes and beating out the 2017 MacBook Pro.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's made-in-america department
BrianFagioli shares a report from BetaNews: System76 has long been a Linux computer seller, but recently, it has transitioned into a Linux computer maker. What's the difference, you ask? Well, currently, the company doesn't really make its own computers. System76's laptops, for instance, are made by other manufacturers, which it re-brands as its own. No, System76 doesn't just slap its name on other company's laptops and ship them out the door. Actually, it works closely with the manufacturers, tweaks firmware, and verifies that both Ubuntu and its Ubuntu-based Pop!_OS will work well on the hardware. System76 then offers top-notch support too. In other words, the company isn't just selling a computer, but an experience too. Unfortunately, when you rely on other computer manufacturers, you don't fully control the experience. Ultimately, System76 cannot achieve its true vision without building its own laptops. And so, that is exactly what it is going to do! Yes, System76 will be building and selling the computers right here in the USA (Denver, Colorado to be exact). I mean, when your company supports open source ideology and takes pride in being "Made in America," how can you go wrong? Many folks in the Linux community are excited to see the fruits of System76's labor, and today, we get a small peek. No, the company isn't sharing any of its computer designs, but it is showing off its new manufacturing facility. In a new blog post by System76 customer service all-star Emma, she shares several photos of the new factory. [T]he space is absolutely massive! It seems System76 has very lofty goals. Exactly when these new computers both designed and manufactured by System76 will become available for purchase is anyone's guess. Quite frankly, based on the System76's blog post, it seems they are still at very early stages. With that said, it will be interesting to see what is born inside that factory in Colorado. The Linux community is anxiously awaiting something special.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's journey-to-the-center-of-the-earth department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Scientists' models show that sound waves seem to travel too quickly through the old, stable cores of continents, called "cratons," which extend deep into the mantle at depths around 120 to 150 kilometers (75 to 93 miles). Through observations, experiments, and modeling, one team figured that a potential way to explain the sound speed anomaly would be the presence of a lot of diamonds, a medium that allows for a faster speed of sound than other crystals. Perhaps the Earth is as much as 2 percent diamonds by volume, they found. Scientists have modeled the rock beneath continents through tomography, which you can think of as like an x-ray image, but using sound waves. But sound-wave velocities of around 4.7 kilometers per second (about 10,513 mph) are faster than sound-wave velocities in other kinds of minerals beneath the crust, according to the paper in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems.
The researchers realized that if the regions had either 3 percent diamonds by volume or 50 percent of a rock formed at high pressure and temperature called eclogite, it would enable the sound speeds they observed. But both of those numbers seemed too high, based on observations of the minerals that end up on the Earth's surface: diamond-containing rocks called kimberlites. The researchers compromised and figured that 20 percent eclogite and 2 percent diamonds could explain the high velocities. The diamonds could be sprinkled as crystals found uniformly throughout the cratons.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nickel-and-dimed department
schwit1 shares an excerpt from an in-depth report via ProPublica and NPR, which have been investigating for the past year the various tactics the health insurance industry uses to maximize its profits: A future in which everything you do -- the things you buy, the food you eat, the time you spend watching TV -- may help determine how much you pay for health insurance. With little public scrutiny, the health insurance industry has joined forces with data brokers to vacuum up personal details about hundreds of millions of Americans, including, odds are, many readers of this story. The companies are tracking your race, education level, TV habits, marital status, net worth. They're collecting what you post on social media, whether you're behind on your bills, what you order online. Then they feed this information into complicated computer algorithms that spit out predictions about how much your health care could cost them. Patient advocates warn that using unverified, error-prone "lifestyle" data to make medical assumptions could lead insurers to improperly price plans -- for instance raising rates based on false information -- or discriminate against anyone tagged as high cost. And, they say, the use of the data raises thorny questions that should be debated publicly, such as: Should a person's rates be raised because algorithms say they are more likely to run up medical bills? Such questions would be moot in Europe, where a strict law took effect in May that bans trading in personal data.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-front-war department
Slashdot readers hyperclocker and Hallux-F-Sinister have shared news about Walmart's new strategy to take on Amazon. In a nutshell, Walmart will use more of Microsoft's cloud services and work with the company on AI and machine learning projects. The goal is to reduce its energy consumption and improve its delivery systems. Hyperclocker shares an excerpt from a report: Today, Walmart announced that it has established a strategic partnership with Microsoft to, "further accelerate Walmart's digital transformation in retail, empower its associates worldwide and make shopping faster and easier for millions of customers around the world." What that means in reality is, Walmart is embracing Microsoft's cloud services and will run its digital operations by taking full advantage of Microsoft Azure and Office 365. The partnership agreement lasts for five years and starts with a team of Walmart and Microsoft engineers working together to transition the retailer to Microsoft's ecosystem.
Hallux-F-Sinister provides some commentary: According to CNN Money, Walmart and Microsoft are ganging up on Amazon.com. I found myself wondering if this was more like Lex Luthor teaming up with the Joker to fight Sinestro, or Bruce Wayne letting Tony Stark use the Bat Computer to fight against the thing Richard Pryor's character designed in whichever godawful nineteen eighties-era Superman sequel he was in. The story itself would bore an accountant to tears, I am convinced, so I did not dare read it for fear of being rendered insensate; but here is the URL if you find you are in desperate need of sleep. Perhaps this other bit of news will wake you up: Walmart is also contemplating starting its own streaming service to compete with Amazon and Netflix. According to GeekWire, citing The Information, "Walmart is considering various ways to stand out, including undercutting Amazon and Netflix on price or offering an ad-supported free service."Read Replies (0)