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Steve Ballmer Says Smartphones Came Between Him and Bill Gates
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '16 at 04:40 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's CEO-vs-former-CEO department:
Steve Ballmer once said Apple's iPhone would flop because it cost too much -- though he now admits that he failed to anticipate carriers subsidizing the cost of the phone. But that was only the beginning. An anonymous reader quotes Fortune:
The former CEO of Microsoft says he and Gates drifted apart over Microsoft's move into the hardware business in the early 2010s, according to Bloomberg. Ballmer says he was the one who pushed for Microsoft to design smartphones and tablets at a time when Apple was already well established. He says Gates and the board seemed reluctant to do so. "There was a fundamental disagreement about how important it was to be in the hardware business," Ballmer told Bloomberg. "I had pushed Surface. The board had been a little -- little reluctant in supporting it. And then things came to a climax around what to do about the phone business."

Microsoft eventually took a $900 million write down for its first tablet, the Surface RT -- plus most of the value of their $9.5 billion acquisition of Nokia Oyj's handset unit as Microsoft pushed into hardware. "Ballmer's only regret: not doing it sooner," Bloomberg reports, adding that Surface is now profitable and this year will generate more than $4 billion in sales.

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IT Workers Facing Layoffs Jolted By CEO's Message
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '16 at 12:20 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's lowering-the-boom-on-boomers department:
HCSC recently announced layoffs for more than 500 IT workers, and expects them to train their replacements from an India-based contractor. But a few days earlier, CEO Paula Steiner said, "As full-time retiring baby boomers move on to their next chapter, the makeup of our organization will consist more of young and non-traditional workers, such as part-time workers or contractors." dcblogs quotes ComputerWorld:
What Steiner didn't say in the employee broadcast is that some of the baby boomers moving "on to the next chapter" are being pushed out the door. "Obviously not all of us are 'retiring' -- a bunch of us are being thrown under the bus," said one older employee.
The insurance provider argues that its members want easier technology solutions that "help keep rising costs in check. Our IT teams are being transformed...focusing on those and other member needs." But Slashdot reader ErichTheRed writes:
Having a CEO actually say in public that their company wants to engage in age discrimination and eliminate full-time employment, rather than just carry out the work in secret, is new to me... for those mid- to late-career technical folks, how have you managed to adjust to new realities like this?

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Secret Service, DHS Scramble To Secure America's Election
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 08:20 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's eternal-vigilance department:
Secret service agents rushed Donald Trump off a stage in Nevada Saturday night, CNN reports. "A scuffle could be seen breaking out in the audience, but it was not immediately clear what happened... Secret Service and police tactical units rushed in to detain a man [who] was then rushed by a throng of police officers, Secret Service agents and SWAT officers armed with assault rifles to a side room... A law enforcement official told CNN no weapon was discovered. The GOP nominee was apparently unharmed and returned to the stage minutes later to finish his speech." Meanwhile, an anonymous reader writes:
"All but two U.S. states have accepted help from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to probe and scan voter registration and election systems for vulnerabilities, a department official told Reuters." Ohio is relying on the National Guard's cyber protection unit, while Arizona says they've held discussions with the FBI, DHS and state-level agents on cyber security. But in addition, "U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia's electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin's command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary, according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents reviewed by NBC News." American officials believe Russian hacking efforts will continue through 2018, according to the Wall Street Journal. "By hacking and dumping emails, Russia is trying 'to denigrate the American electoral system, to make it look chaotic, make it look manipulable, make it look subject to intrusion, cheating and vulnerable so you can't trust it...to make us look no better than the Russian electoral system,'" said one senior White House official. Russia is also expected to extend their efforts toward elections in Europe.

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Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Way to Browse the Web Anonymously?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 05:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's watching-the-watchmen department:
An anonymous reader asks:
In an age of evercookies, zombie cookies, and always expanding efforts to track browsers, devices, and people -- is there any way to browse totally anonymous to the sites you are visiting?
With so many technologies quietly monitoring your activity, "How can a user today browse with confidence that they can't be tracked or identified, avoiding even being identified anonymously as a returning user or device?" Leave your best answers in the comments. What's the best way to browse the web anonymously?

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The FBI Spent Two Years Investigating An Online Cult That Didn't Exist
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 04:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's phantom-menace department:
A two-year FBI investigation apparently centered on the satirical web site "GodHatesGoths". Long-time Slashdot reader v3rgEz writes:
In 2005, the FBI launched an investigation into the "Church of the Hammer," a fundamentalist Christian sect which called for the wholesale slaughter of practitioners of the goth subculture. Two years later, the investigation was closed, on grounds that the Church didn't exist.
The FBI's threat assessment detailed "an extremely right-wing Christian group that adheres to a Middle Ages Catholic text called the 'Malleus Malificarum.'" But MuckRock.com reports that "The Bureau's main source on the case was a goth who had engaged with members of the Church via their Yahoo Group...trying to dispel their misconceptions about the relationship between the subculture and Satanism." After two years of scouring through crime databases and making phone calls to the Salem police department, FBI investigators actually visited the GodHatesGoths web site -- which turned out to be a parody.

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First Color Images Produced By an Electron Microscope
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 02:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's color-your-judgments department:
Slashdot reader sciencehabit quotes Science magazine: Imagine spending your whole life seeing the world in black and white, and then seeing a vase of roses in full color for the first time. That's kind of what it was like for the scientists who have taken the first multicolor images of cells using an electron microscope. Electron microscopes can magnify an object up to 10 million times, allowing researchers to peer into the inner workings of, say, a cell or a fly's eye, but until now they've only been able to see in black and white. The new advance -- 15 years in the making -- uses three different kinds of rare earth metals called lanthanides...layered one-by-one over cells on a microscope slide. The microscope detects when each metal loses electrons and records each unique loss as an artificial color.

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Will The New 'Starship Troopers' Reboot Stay Faithful To The Book?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 02:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's another-bug-hunt department:
HughPickens.com shares news from the Hollywood Reporter:
"Columbia Pictures is rebooting Starship Troopers, the 1997 sci-fi film directed by Paul Verhoeven... The studio is not remaking the film but is said to be going back to the original Heinlein novel for an all-new take." The original movie, considered a mixed success at the time of its release, went on to achieve a cult following, and during the DVD boom of the 2000s it became a mini-franchise for the studio, which produced three additional direct-to-DVD movies... "Starship Troopers has been decried as promoting fascism and being racist in its creation of a society where democracy has been severely restricted..." writes Graeme McMillan. "The question then becomes: in updating Starship Troopers to make it more acceptable to today's audience, can it still manage to remain faithful enough to Heinlein's original to please the existing fan base?"

The script will be written by the writers of the upcoming Baywatch film starring Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson.

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A Powerful New Android Spyware Targets Business Executives
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 01:32 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's exploits-for-executives department:
Orome1 quotes HelpNetSecurity: "Researchers from mobile security outfit Skycure have recently analyzed a malicious app they found on an Android 6.0.1 device owned by a vice president at a global technology company. The name of the malicious package is 'com.android.protect', and it comes disguised as a Google Play Services app. It disables Samsung's SPCM service in order to keep running, installs itself as a system package to prevent removal by the user (if it can get root access), and also hides itself from the launcher." The spyware is able to collect chats and messages sent and received via SMS, MMS, and popular email and IM apps; record audio and telephone calls; collect pictures and take screenshots; collect contacts, browser histories, the contents of the calendar, and so on.

According to the article, "chances are someone took advantage of the physical access they had to the device to do the dirty deed."

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The NES Classic is a $60 Single Board Computer Running Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 12:01 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's boards-vs-booths department:
"Nintendo's accurate NES emulator apparently needs no less than a quad-core CPU," joked Ars Technica. "The next step, of course, is unscrewing of the nostalgic little box to see how it ticks -- and whether its limited functionality might ever be expanded, either officially or by hackers." Slashdot reader romiz summarizes what's inside Nintendo's new miniature emulator for classic games:
With a quad-core ARM Cortex-A7, 256 MB of RAM, and 512 MB of NAND Flash, it is typical of the hardware found in Linux single board computers, like the Raspberry Pi 2. Surprisingly for Nintendo, there does not seem to be any custom components in it, and it looks like it even does run Linux. [YouTube video] The GPL license for the kernel and many other open source components is visible in the legal information screen. The source, however, is not yet available on Nintendo's open source page.
But it is the re-edition a 1980s video console: there is no network access, no hardware expansion port, and the 30 games cannot be changed. Changing the system running on it will probably be difficult.

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A New Process Turns Sewage Into Crude Oil
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 10:42 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's renewable-resource department:
Big Hairy Ian shares this report from New Atlas:
The U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has found a way to potentially produce 30 million barrels of biocrude oil per year from the 34 billion gallons of raw sewage that Americans create every day... [T]he raw sewage is placed in a reactor that's basically a tube pressurized to 3,000 pounds per square inch and heated to 660 degrees Fahrenheit, which mimics the same geological process that turned prehistoric organic matter into crude oil by breaking it down into simple compounds, only...it takes minutes instead of epochs... The end product is very similar to fossil crude oil with a bit of oxygen and water mixed in and can be refined like crude oil using conventional fractionating plants.

After six years of development, they've licensed the process for a $6 million pilot plant that's expected to launch in 2018.

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New Software Remembers Everything Your Computer Has Ever Displayed
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 10:42 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's search-engineering department:
A Napster co-founder launched a new software this week which lets you search for anything you've ever looked at on your computer. schwit1 shared this report from CNNMoney:
Atlas Informatics Founder and CEO Jordan Ritter calls the software "a photographic memory for your digital life"... This includes web pages, emails, Slack chats, Netflix films, Spotify songs, or anything else that's appeared in front of your eyes on your screen... You can search by keyword, content type or time, and it displays all related information based on relevancy. For instance, if two documents were open at the same time and you toggled between them, they will both appear whether or not they contain a keyword. Once installed on your hard drive and browser, Atlas Recall runs in the background and begins collecting your activity. The company captures all the content you've looked at and stores it on its servers.
It's encrypted before transmission to the Atlas Cloud servers, though you can block it from capturing data from certain applications, files, and web sites. "The platform wars are over, nobody won, and no one will ever win them again..." Ritter told CNNMoney. "What we want is something that works the way we use our devices and data."

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Two Critical MySQL Bugs Discovered
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 09:11 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's debasing-the-database department:
An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld:
Two critical privilege escalation vulnerabilities in MySQL, MariaDB, and PerconaDB can help take control of the whole server, which is very bad for shared environments... Administrators need to check their database versions, as attackers can chain two critical vulnerabilities and completely take over the server hosting the database...
The first vulnerability, a privilege escalation/race condition flaw, gives elevated privileges to a local system user with access to a database and allows them to execute arbitrary code as the database system user. This gives an attacker access to all of the databases on the affected server... The privilege escalation/race condition flaw can be chained with another critical vulnerability, a root privilege escalation vulnerability, to further elevate the system level user to gain root on the server.

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Teenagers In Macedonia Launch Fake Pro-Trump Sites To Earn Money
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 07:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's smells-like-teen-spirit department:
"In Macedonia the economy is very weak and teenagers are not allowed to work, so we need to find creative ways to make some money," one 17-year-old told BuzzFeed News, which reports on a "strange hub" of over 140 political sites, all being run in the same small town in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
These sites have American-sounding domain names such as WorldPoliticus.com, TrumpVision365.com, USConservativeToday.com, DonaldTrumpNews.co, and USADailyPolitics.com. They almost all publish aggressively pro-Trump content aimed at conservatives and Trump supporters in the U.S...
The young Macedonians who run these sites say they don't care about Donald Trump. They are responding to straightforward economic incentives... The fraction-of-a-penny-per-click of U.S. display advertising -- a declining market for American publishers -- goes a long way in Veles. Several teens and young men who run these sites told BuzzFeed News that they learned the best way to generate traffic is to get their politics stories to spread on Facebook -- and the best way to generate shares on Facebook is to publish sensationalist and often false content that caters to Trump supporters... Most of the posts on these sites are aggregated, or completely plagiarized, from fringe and right-wing sites in the U.S...

Earlier this year they experimented with fake sites supporting Bernie Sanders, "but nothing performed as well on Facebook as Trump content," according to the 16-year-old who operates BVANews.com. The largest Macedonian sites now have hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook, and sources close to one site say it earns $5,000 per month, and has even earned $3,000 in a single day.

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Aaron Swartz Remembered With Annual Hackathon In San Francisco
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 07:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's remember-remember department:
"This weekend you have the chance to add to Aaron Swartz's legacy by boosting tools for whistleblowers," the EFF writes. An anonymous reader quotes their report.
The 2016 Aaron Swartz International Hackathon -- held in honor of the late Internet and political activist -- will take place during the day Saturday and Sunday at the Internet Archive in San Francisco. The hackathon will focus on whistleblower submission system SecureDrop, which was created by Swartz and Kevin Poulsen to connect media organizations and anonymous sources and is managed by the Freedom of the Press Foundation. This weekend's events -- timed to what would have been his 30th birthday on Nov. 8 -- will also feature a series of speakers on Saturday night, including SecureDrop's Conor Schaefer, Fight for the Future Co-founder Tiffiniy Cheng, and EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn, as well as a special statement from Chelsea Manning.

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Face Electrodes Let You Taste and Chew In Virtual Reality
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 06:31 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fine-dining department:
walterbyrd quotes a report from New Scientist: Experiments with "virtual food" use electronics to emulate the taste and feel of the real thing, even when there's nothing in your mouth. This tech could add new sensory inputs to virtual reality or augment real-world dining experiences, especially for people with restricted diets or health issues that affect their ability to eat. Several projects have succeeded in tricking us into tasting things that aren't there. Nimesha Ranasinghe at the National University of Singapore has already experimented with a "digital lollipop" to emulate different tastes, and a spoon embedded with electrodes that amplify the salty, sour, or bitter flavor of the real food eaten off it. However, his experiments with electrical stimulation had less success simulating sweetness compared to the other tastes. But digitizing this taste could be particularly useful in, for example, helping people cut back on sugary food or drinks. So Ranasinghe and his colleague Ellen Yi-Luen Do started experimenting with thermal stimulation instead. Their new project, presented at the 2016 ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium (UIST) in Tokyo, uses changes in temperature to mimic the sensation of sweetness on the tongue. The user places the tip of their tongue on a square of thermoelectric elements that are rapidly heated or cooled, hijacking thermally sensitive neurons that normally contribute to the sensory code for taste. In an initial trial, it worked for about half of participants. Some also reported a sensation of spiciness when the device was warmer (around 35 degrees Celsius) and a minty taste when it was cooler (18 degrees Celsius). Ranasinghe and Do envisage such a system embedded in a glass or mug to make low-sugar drinks taste sweeter.

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Google's DeepMind AI Plans To Take On StarCraft II
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '16 at 02:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-challenger-step-right-up department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google and Blizzard are opening up StarCraft II to anyone who wants to teach artificial intelligence systems how to conduct warfare. Researchers can now use Google's DeepMind A.I. to test various theories for ways that machines can learn to make sense of complicated systems, in this case Blizzard's beloved real-time strategy game. In StarCraft II, players fight against one another by gathering resources to pay for defensive and offensive units. It has a healthy competitive community that is known for having a ludicrously high skill level. But considering that DeepMind A.I. has previously conquered complicated turn-based games like chess and go, a real-time strategy game makes sense as the next frontier. The companies announced the collaboration today at the BlizzCon fan event in Anaheim, California, and Google's DeepMind A.I. division posted a blog about the partnership and why StarCraft II is so ideal for machine-learning research. If you're wondering how much humans will have to teach A.I. about how to play and win at StarCraft, the answer is very little. DeepMind learned to beat the best go players in the world by teaching itself through trial and error. All the researchers had to do was explain how to determine success, and the A.I. can then begin playing games against itself on a loop while always reinforcing any strategies that lead to more success. For StarCraft, that will likely mean asking the A.I. to prioritize how long it survives and/or how much damage it does to the enemy's primary base. Or, maybe, researchers will find that defining success in a more abstract way will lead to better results, discovering the answers to all of this is the entire point of Google and Blizzard teaming up.

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A Naked Black Hole Is Screaming Through the Universe
Posted by News Fetcher on November 04 '16 at 11:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's public-nudity department:
New submitter PongoX11 writes: Millions of years ago, B3 1715+425 was just an ordinary supermassive black hole. It had a comfortable life, of devouring stars and belching deadly x-rays, at the center of its distant galaxy. Now, starless and alone, it's screaming through space at 2,000 kilometers per second -- and it may never stop. BC 1715+425's troubles began when its galaxy bumped up against another. This isn't all that unusual: in fact, astronomers believe that the largest galaxies in our universe formed during ancient mergers. Normally, when two galaxies collide, the supermassive black holes at their centers start to orbit one another, moving closer and closer together in an inescapable gravitational attraction. Eventually, those black holes can fuse, releasing a burst of energy as gravitational waves and completing the cosmic joining. Most of the time, this process seems to work out for all parties involved, judging from the fact that nearly all supermassive black holes reside at the center of galaxies, and nearly all galactic centers contain a supermassive black hole. But every now and then, something goes wrong and cosmic wreckage ensues. B3 1715+425, speeding away from the core of a bloated galactic merger 2 billion light years from Earth, is living proof of this. The working theory is that millions of years ago, B3 1715+425's galaxy passed through a much larger galaxy (one that had formed during many previous mergers) and got shredded to bits, a bit like a paper airplane flying into a hurricane. The leftovers include a faint galactic remnant, just 3,000 light years across, and the supermassive black hole itself, nearly naked and hemorrhaging ionized gas as it tears through the void. "We were looking for orbiting pairs of supermassive black holes, with one offset from the center of a galaxy, as telltale evidence of a previous galaxy merger," said James Condon, the astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory who led the study. "Instead, we found this black hole fleeing from the larger galaxy and leaving a trail of debris behind it."

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Why a Theoretical Physicist Wants All State Bills To Be Online Before Final Vote
Posted by News Fetcher on November 04 '16 at 08:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's no-brainer department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Among a slew on ballot propositions that Californians will be asked to consider on Election Day (Nov. 8) is Proposition 54, a proposed constitutional amendment that seems like a no-brainer. If passed, the law would require that the final text of all proposed legislation be published on the Internet for 72 hours before lawmakers can conduct a final vote. Typically, the text of bills in California is put online as it goes through the committee and voting process, but sometimes those bills can change at the last minute. Accessing those changes isn't always easy. The initiative, which seems all-but-certain to pass, has massive support from Charles T. Munger, Jr., the son of billionaire Charles Munger. The younger Munger, an experimental physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and a longtime Republican activist, has donated over $10.6 million to the "Yes on Prop. 54" campaign. The effort supporting the opposing view has taken in just over $27,000. Proposition 54 would also force the Assembly and State Senate to allow the public to record meetings as well, which could potentially be used in political advertising. So why would anyone oppose the bill? According to Steven Maviglio, the director of Californians for an Effective Legislature, a campaign committee formed to oppose Proposition 54. It all comes down to who is behind the initiative, and why. "The first thing you need to do is follow the money," he told Ars, pointing us to Munger, Jr. "He's been the top contributor to the California Republican Party. His goal is to disrupt the power of a legislature that's getting things done."

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Health Anxiety May Increase Risk of Heart Disease, Research Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on November 04 '16 at 06:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hypochondriac department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Fit and healthy people who worry about developing an illness may be increasing their risk of heart disease by unnecessarily fretting over their health, research suggests. A study of more than 7,000 people over 12 years found that those with health anxiety at the start of the study were about 70% more likely to develop heart disease than those without that state of mind. Additionally, the researchers found that the higher the reported anxiety, the higher the risk of heart disease. The findings, published in BMJ Open on Thursday, suggest that far from health anxiety protecting people from heart disease through increased monitoring and frequency of checkups, it may have the opposite effect. The study analyzed 7,052 participants in the long-term collaborative research project Norwegian Hordaland health study, all of whom were born between 1953 and 1957. They filled in questionnaires about their health, lifestyle and educational attainment and had a physical checkup between 1997 and 1999. Levels of health anxiety were assessed using a validated scale and the top 10% of the sample -- 710 people -- were considered to have health anxiety. The heart health of all the participants was tracked up to the end of 2009. Anyone who received treatment for, or whose death was linked to, coronary artery disease occurring within a year of entering the study, was excluded on the grounds that they might already have been ill. In all, 234 (3.3%) of the entire sample had an ischemic event -- a heart attack or bout of acute angina -- during the monitoring period. But the proportion of those succumbing to heart disease was twice as high (just over 6%) among those who displayed health anxiety compared with those who did not (3%). After taking account of other potentially influential factors, those with health anxiety at the start of the study were found to be 73% more likely to develop heart disease than those who did not have anxiety at the outset.

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Tesla Adds An All-Glass Roof Option For Its Model S
Posted by News Fetcher on November 04 '16 at 06:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's electric-vehicles department:
Elon Musk has had roofs on his mind lately. Last week, Musk unveiled the residential "solar roof," consisting of glass roof tiles with integrated solar panels. Today, he announced that customers will be able to add a glass roof to the Model S sedan for an extra $1,500. Tesla said that the glass roof can give passengers the feeling of "an open expansive cabin" that makes the Model S interior "feel amazing." Fortune reports: The move is another example of how Tesla continues to add new features and technology to its four-year-old vehicle, the second to debut in its growing lineup. In particular, Tesla has routinely updated the Model S with technology that has also been available in more recent car models. For example, the company's upcoming fourth car, the Model 3, will come with a glass roof. The new glass roof option also shows off Tesl'a new investment in automotive glass technology. Earlier this week Musk revealed that the company had created an automotive glass division. In the tweet on Friday, Musk said that the Model S glass roof was "very hard to develop."

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