By msmash from Slashdot's space-race department
India plans to have its own space station in the future and conduct separate missions to study Sun and Venus, it said on Thursday, as the nation moves to bolster its status as a leader in space technologies and inspire the young minds to take an interest in scientific fields. From a report: India's space agency said today that it will begin working on its space station following its first manned mission to space, called Gaganyaan, in 2022 -- just in time to commemorate 75 years of the country's independence from Britain. The government has sanctioned Rs 10,000 crores ($1.5 billion) for Gaganyaan mission, it was unveiled today. "We have to sustain the Gaganyaan program after the launch of the human space mission. In this context, India is planning to have its own space station," said Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan, chairman of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). ISRO is India's equivalent to NASA. "While navigation, communication, and earth observation are going to be the bread and butter for us, it is missions such as Chandrayaan, Mangalyaan, and Gaganyaan that excite the youth, unite the nation, and also pave a technological seed for the future." The ambitious announcements come a day after the space agency said it will launch a lunar mission on July 15 this year in an attempt to become only the fourth nation to land on the moon.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hidden-behind-outdated-wording department
Slashdot reader Meg Whitman shares a report from The Register: A "highly skilled IT professional" has lost his fight to be paid his unused vacation days as well as a non-trivial bonus, after a judge stuck to a law he admitted was outdated. Matthew White joined Hewlett-Packard in 2013 and left in July 2015, just months before the company split into HP and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). After quitting, he was stunned when the U.S. mega-corp, citing HPE's new policies, refused to hand over extra pay he felt was contractually due. Hewlett-Packard had enticed White with a sweet contract that offered a signing bonus, base salary, regular bonuses, and a benefits program. But after he quit, he was left without his unused vacation pay and a $10,000 bonus he felt he was entitled to. [...]
HPE decided that, under the law, White could only get hold of the relevant policies if he turned up, in person, to the company's official human resources headquarters -- which is on the other side of America in California, roughly 2,500 miles away. White felt this was ridiculous given that HP, sorry, HPE is not only a massive organization with HR people all over the United States, but that it was a technology company with countless employees working across the world, often at home, and that the policies are likely readily available in an internal cloud. The judge had some sympathy for that view. "This part of the statute may indeed need reworking for today's world where cloud-based digital records are replacing physical file folders located in a physical location, where employees work at home -- sometimes remotely from any head office or regional office -- and where worldwide companies like HP assign HP personnel for an entire country or region, or even outsource various HP responsibilities." Yet the judge still decided against the techie.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's eye-in-the-sky department
sciencehabit shares a report from Science Magazine: A constellation of eight microsatellites has harvested data that -- if folded into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) weather models -- could have sharpened forecasts of several recent hurricanes, including Michael, a category-5 storm in October 2018. But progress was hard-won for scientists on NASA's $157 million Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), who discussed early results at a meeting last week, just as another Atlantic hurricane season kicked off. With its flotilla of satellites crisscrossing the tropical oceans, CYGNSS can see through the thick clouds of cyclones. The satellites collect radio signals beamed from standard GPS beacons after they bounce off the ocean's surface. The reflections are influenced by sea's roughness, which depends on wind speed. But a month after launch in December 2016, the team noticed the GPS signals were wavering. The U.S. military runs the GPS system, and in January 2017, it began to boost the radio power on 10 of its GPS satellites as they passed over a broad region centered on northern Syria. The power boosts, which can thwart jamming, have recurred without warning, each lasting several hours. The swings don't interfere with other scientific uses of GPS. But they threw off the constellation's measurements of high winds by 5 meters a second or more -- the difference between a category-2 and category-3 hurricane. After 2 years of work, the CYGNSS team has compensated by reprogramming its satellites on the fly. The satellites carry large antennas to catch reflected GPS signals, but they also have small antennas that receive direct GPS signals, for tracking time and location. The team repurposed the small antennas to measure the signal strength of the GPS satellites, making it possible to correct the wind speed measuresRead Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's search-and-destroy department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from IEEE Spectrum: Tumor cells that spread cancer via the bloodstream face a new foe: a laser beam, shined from outside the skin, that finds and kills these metastatic little demons on the spot. In a study published today in Science Translational Medicine, researchers revealed that their system accurately detected these cells in 27 out of 28 people with cancer, with a sensitivity that is about 1,000 times better than current technology. That's an achievement in itself, but the research team was also able to kill a high percentage of the cancer-spreading cells, in real time, as they raced through the veins of the participants. If developed further, the tool could give doctors a harmless, noninvasive, and thorough way to hunt and destroy such cells before those cells can form new tumors in the body.
Researchers led by Vladimir Zharov, director of the nanomedicine center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, tested their system in people with melanoma, or skin cancer. The laser, beamed at a vein, sends energy to the bloodstream, creating heat. Melanoma CTCs absorb more of this energy than normal cells, causing them to heat up quickly and expand. This thermal expansion produces sound waves, known as the photoacoustic effect, and can be recorded by a small ultrasound transducer placed over the skin near the laser. The recordings indicate when a CTC is passing in the bloodstream. The same laser can also be used to destroy the CTCs in real time. Heat from the laser causes vapor bubbles to form on the tumor cells. The bubbles expand and collapse, interacting with the cell and mechanically destroying it.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's abuse-of-permissions department
Facebook obtained personal and sensitive device data on about 187,000 users of its now-defunct Research app, which Apple banned earlier this year after the app violated its rules. TechCrunch reports: The social media giant said in a letter to Sen. Richard Blumenthal's office -- which TechCrunch obtained -- that it collected data on 31,000 users in the U.S., including 4,300 teenagers. The rest of the collected data came from users in India. "We know that the provisioning profile for the Facebook Research app was created on April 19, 2017, but this does not necessarily correlate to the date that Facebook distributed the provisioning profile to end users," said Timothy Powderly, Apple's director of federal affairs, in his letter. Facebook said the app dated back to 2016.
These "research" apps relied on willing participants to download the app from outside the app store and use the Apple-issued developer certificates to install the apps. Then, the apps would install a root network certificate, allowing the app to collect all the data out of the device -- like web browsing histories, encrypted messages and mobile app activity -- potentially also including data from their friends -- for competitive analysis. In Facebook's case, the research app -- dubbed Project Atlas -- was a repackaged version of its Onavo VPN app, which Facebook was forced to remove from Apple's App Store last year for gathering too much device data. Just this week, Facebook relaunched its research app as Study, only available on Google Play and for users who have been approved through Facebook's research partner, Applause. Facebook said it would be more transparent about how it collects user data.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's piece-of-the-puzzle department
Last year, it was reported that Lego was investing $120 million and hiring about 100 people to eliminate its dependence on petroleum-based plastics, and build its toys entirely from plant-based or recycled materials by 2030. The effort has been seven years in the making, "but it keeps hitting brick walls," as The Wall Street Journal reports. From the report: Lego tried making pieces from corn, but they were too soft. Its wheat-based bricks didn't absorb color evenly or have the requisite shine. Bricks made from other materials proved too hard to pull apart, broke or had what executives call "creep," when bricks lose their grip and collapse. Lego has so far tested more than 200 combinations of materials, but just 2% of its products are made from plant-based plastic. The Danish company says it is still exploring several promising options, but finding the material to hit its target is proving difficult. Some materials proved problematic to mold with Lego's existing machinery. Recycled plastic is an option, but Lego needs large food-grade volumes with guarantees on provenance and quality.
Lego's slow progress is emblematic of a broader struggle to use plants like corn and sugar cane instead of oil to make plastic, which advocates say would lower greenhouse-gas emissions. Lego has had some success with plastic partly made of plants. So has Coca-Cola, which has sold bottles using 30% plant-based packaging since 2009. But unlike Coca-Cola, when Lego couldn't find a way to source the remaining 70%, it decided not to go to market. "Ultimately we want a zero-impact product," said Tim Guy Brooks, Lego's head of environmental responsibility. For now, there's always recycling -- Lego-style.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's milking-it department
At the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) on Wednesday, Netflix shared details of its plans to develop its original shows into video games. Hollywood Reporter reports: Among the program of upcoming games, Stranger Things 3: The Game was highlighted, described by Netflix as "an adventure game that blends a distinctively retro art style with modern gameplay mechanics to deliver nostalgic fun with a fresh new twist." Playing as a character from the show, the user will be tasked with solving puzzles and battling the Mind Flayer. Dave Pottinger, CEO and co-founder of BonusXP, shared that the game will feature old-school graphics.
Two characters from the game were revealed at the panel: Max, who will exhibit karate kicks and the ability to add fire damage to those kicks; and Eleven, described by Chris Lee, director of Interactive Games at Netflix, as "the most powerful character in the game" -- she will have psychic push power. The game will launch on July 4 and be available on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One and other consoles. In addition, a special announcement was made at the panel about a Stranger Things mobile hybrid RPG/puzzle game that will launch in 2020. The game is a collaboration with Next Games, which is based out of Helsinki, Finland. Stranger Things isn't the only show that's planning to have its own game. "Netflix show The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics is also set to become a 'turn-based tactics' game challenging fans to recruit an army and act as their commander in a series of campaign battles," the report adds. "No specific date was mentioned, but the game will launch this year on various consoles."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's decoupling-services department
In an effort to create a "simplified experience," Google said in a blog post today that Google Photos will stop syncing to Drive in July. Digital Trends reports: The change is sure to be controversial. For many, the fact that Photos automatically syncs to Google Drive is a favorite feature, as it allows for much easier organization of photos. Of course, the change will avoid some confusion. According to Google, the change is aimed at helping "prevent accidental deletions of items across products." In other words, it seems like some users were confused about the fact that deleting a copy of a photo in Photos also means that the image is deleted in Drive, and vice versa. The blog post notes that the two services will still work together to an extent. The company announced a new feature called "Upload from Drive," which will allow users to manually select photos and videos to be imported into Photos. Once the items are uploaded, the files won't be connected, so you can delete the file in one without it being removed in the other.
Additionally, Backup and Sync will continue to work on both Windows and Mac, "so if you store your photos locally and want to then sync them to either Google Drive or Google Photos, you'll still be able to do so," reports Digital Trends. Google also notes that existing photos and videos will stay in both Photos and Drive, but the Google Photos folder in Drive will no longer update automatically.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: For the first time in about 40 years, the guts of the U.S. model got swapped out for something new today. The upgrade brings us a new "Finite-Volume Cubed-Sphere" (or FV3) dynamical core, which simulates the basic atmospheric physics at the heart of this endeavor, a change that has been in the works for a while. The new core had its origins in simulating atmospheric chemistry but ended up being adapted into other models. A few years ago, it was selected to replace the old core in the U.S. Global Forecast System model. And for more than a year now, the new version of the model has been running in parallel so its results could be compared to the operational model.
The results have been a little mixed. The new core improves computational efficiency and allows some processes to be simulated at a higher resolution -- unequivocal improvements. It also simulates the physics of water vapor more realistically. In a press conference today, NOAA scientists cited a number of areas where forecast improvements have been seen. Forecast tracks of hurricanes and the mid-latitude storms that frequently sweep across the U.S. have both improved, they said, along with forecasts of hurricane strength. Forecast precipitation amounts were also cited as a key area of progress. But there have also been grumblings in the weather community over the past year about results that didn't seem so hot. For example, surface temperatures have been biased low in some situations, throwing off forecasts.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-tension department
The Intercept: Operatives at a controversial cybersecurity firm working for the United Arab Emirates government discussed targeting The Intercept and breaching the computers of its employees, according to two sources, including a member of the hacking team who said they were present at a meeting to plan for such an attack. The firm, DarkMatter, brought ex-National Security Agency hackers and other U.S. intelligence and military veterans together with Emirati analysts to compromise the computers of political dissidents at home and abroad, including American citizens, Reuters revealed in January. The news agency also reported that the FBI is investigating DarkMatter's use of American hacking expertise and the possibility that it was wielded against Americans.
The campaign against dissidents and critics of the Emirati government, code-named Project Raven, began in Baltimore. A 2016 Intercept article by reporter Jenna McLaughlin revealed how the Maryland-based computer security firm CyberPoint assembled a team of Americans for a contract to hone UAE's budding hacking and surveillance capabilities, leaving some recruits unsettled. Much of the CyberPoint team was later poached by DarkMatter, a firm with close ties to the Emirati government and headquartered just two floors from the Emirati equivalent of the NSA, the National Electronic Security Authority (which later became the Signals Intelligence Agency).Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's extreme-lengths department
Spain's data protection agency has fined La Liga, the nation's top professional soccer league, 250,000 euros ($283,000 USD) for using the league's phone app to spy on its fans. From a report: With millions of downloads, the app was reportedly being used to surveil bars in an effort to catch establishments playing matches on television without a license. The La Liga app provides users with schedules, player rankings, statistics, and league news. It also knows when they're watching games and where. According to Spanish newspaper El Pais, the league told authorities that when its apps detected users were in bars the apps would record audio through phone microphones. The apps would then use the recording to determine if the user was watching a soccer game, using technology that's similar to the Shazam app. If a game was playing in the vicinity, officials would then be able to determine if that bar location had a license to play the game. El Diario reports that the app has been downloaded 10 million times.Read Replies (0)