By msmash from Slashdot's different-views department
Elon Musk of SpaceX wants to settle humans on Mars. Some talk about taking the Moon Village route. But Jeff Bezos has a different kind of off-Earth home in mind when he talks about having millions of people living and working in space. His long-range vision focuses on a decades-old concept for huge artificial habitats that are best known today as O'Neill cylinders. From a report on GeekWire (edited and condensed): The concept was laid out in 1976 in a classic book by physicist Gerard O'Neill, titled "The High Frontier." The idea is to create cylinder-shaped structures in outer space, and give them enough of a spin that residents on the inner surface of the cylinder could live their lives in Earth-style gravity. The habitat's interior would be illuminated either by reflected sunlight or sunlike artificial light. Bezos referred to his long-term goal of having millions of people living and working in space, as well as his enabling goal of creating the 'heavy lifting infrastructure' to make that happen. In Bezos' view, dramatically reducing the cost of access to space is a key step toward those goals. "Then we get to see Gerard O'Neill's ideas start to come to life, and many of the other ideas from science fiction," Bezos said. "The dreamers come first. It's always the science-fiction guys: They think of everything first, and then the builders come along and they make it happen. But it takes time." For Musk, the prime driver behind settling people on Mars is to provide a backup plan for humanity in the event of a planetwide catastrophe -- an asteroid strike, for example, or environmental ruin, or a species-killing pandemic. Bezos sees a different imperative at work: humanity's growing need for energy. "We need to go into space if we want to continue growing civilization," he explained. "If you take baseline energy usage on Earth and compound it at just 3 percent per year for less than 500 years, you have to cover the entire surface of the Earth in solar cells. That's just not going to happen. [...] I predict that in the next few hundred years, all heavy industry will move off planet. It will be just way more convenient to do it in space, where you have better access to resources, better access to 24/7 solar power," he said last weekend. "Solar power on Earth is not that great, because the planet shades us half the time. In space, you get solar power all the time. So there'll be a lot of advantages to doing heavy manufacturing there, and Earth will end up zoned residential and light industry. [...] We want to go to space to save the Earth. I don't like the 'Plan B' idea that we want to go to space so we have a backup planet. ... We have sent probes to every planet in this solar system, and believe me, this is the best planet. There is no doubt. This is the one that you want to protect."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's whatever-floats-your-boat department
Linux distributions have emerged as one of the beneficiaries in the aftermath of the MacBook Pros launch. Many people aren't pleased with the offering and prices of Apple's three new laptops and some of them are resorting to Linux-powered laptops. From a report on BetaNews: Immediately after the Apple Keynote, famed Ubuntu laptop and desktop seller, System76, saw a huge jump in traffic from people looking to buy its machines. The traffic was so intense, that it needed to upgrade servers to keep up, it said. "We experienced much more traffic than we had prepared for, the website didn't go hard down but experienced slowness. We had to scale up to return to normal. It was a pretty big surge, I don't have the details in front of me at the moment but I've not really heard of anything like this before. People being so underwhelmed by a product that immediately following a new product release they actively seek out competitor's products," says Ryan Sipes, Community Manager, System76. I decided to compare specifications and pricing on my own, so I headed to both Apple.com and System76.com to compare. Apple's new 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,400. This machine has a Quad-core Sklyake i7, maxes out at 16GB of RAM, has an NVMe 256GB SSD, and a Radeon Pro 450 with a paltry 2GB memory. Alternatively, I headed to System76 and configured its 15-inch Oryx Pro. I closely matched the MacBook Pro specs, with a Quad-core Sklyake i7 and NVMe 256GB SSD. Instead of 16GB of RAM as found on the Apple, I configured with 32GB (you can go up to 64GB if needed). By default, it comes with a 6GB Nvidia GTX 1060. The price? Less than $2,000! In other words, the System76 machine with much better specs is less expensive than Apple's.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's leaking-files department
The hacker (or a group of hackers) who call themselves The Shadow Brokers today published more files. From an article on Motherboard: This latest release comes while Hal Martin, an NSA contractor and, according to The Washington Post , the prime suspect in The Shadow Brokers case sits in detention after being arrested for allegedly stealing swaths of classified material. "TheShadowBrokers is having special trick or treat for Amerikanskis tonight," a message from the hackers posted to Medium reads. The message is signed with the same PGP key used to sign several previous posts, including the group's original announcement that came with links to a slew of NSA exploits. As for the files, The Shadow Brokers claim they reveal IP addresses linked to the Equation Group, a hacking unit widely believed to be tied to the NSA. "This is being equation group pitchimpair (redirector) keys, many missions into your network is/was coming from these ip addresses," The Shadow Brokers' post continues.The report adds that the dump contains 300 folders of files -- all corresponding to different domains and IP addresses. Security researcher who goes by the alias Hacker Fantastic the dump contains 306 domains and 352 IP addresses relating to 49 countries in total. "If accurate, victims of the Equation Group may be able to use these files to determine if they were potentially targeted by the NSA-linked unit."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's wrong-estimation department
Our current estimate about the global sea level is "way off" according to a new study. The study published in Geophysical Research Letters this month suggests that our historial sea level records have been off by an underestimation of five to 28 percent. From a report on Motherboard: Global sea level, the paper concluded, rose no less than 5.5 inches over the last century, and likely saw an increase of 6.7 inches. The reason for this discrepancy was uncovered by earth scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. By comparing newer climate models with older sea level measurements, the team discovered that readings from coastal tide gauges may not have been as indicative as we thought. These gauges, located at more than a dozen sites across the Northern Hemisphere, have been a primary data source for estimating sea level changes during the last several decades. "It's not that there's something wrong with the instruments or the data, but for a variety of reasons, sea level does not change at the same pace everywhere at the same time," said Philip Thompson, the study's lead author and associate director of the University of Hawa'i Sea Level Center, in a statement. "As it turns out, our best historical sea level records tend to be located where past sea level rise was most likely less than the true global average."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's can't-beat-em',-buy-'em department
Jon Russell, reporting for TechCrunch:Here's fuel to the fire for those who believe that Facebook will buy anything that looks, smells or moves like Snapchat. The U.S. social networking giant this summer made an unsuccessful bid to acquire Snow, a Snapchat-like service from Naver, the $25 billion-valued Korean firm behind chat app Line, a source close to the company told TechCrunch. Snow currently has around 80 million downloads, and it is adding around 10 million more each month, according to the source. That growth has also encouraged acquisition interest from Tencent -- the maker of blockbuster chat app WeChat -- Alibaba and others, TechCrunch understands. "It's true that Snow is receiving love calls from various companies," a representative from Naver told us in a statement. Despite acknowledging outside interest, Naver did not name Snow's would-be suitors.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's experience-vs-wisdom department
brown.dragon is an older programmer moving to Australia. He writes:
I want to start an online solution that other programmers find helpful, and right now I'm wondering if I should go with "learning new technologies" or "getting really good at the basics". Both are targeted towards giving a career boost to older programmers...
Would you like to keep in touch with the latest technologies because that's what makes it easy to get jobs? Or would you like to be really good at answering (Google/Facebook/Amazon) algorithmic interview questions?
He asks programmers looking for an online educational tool, "which of these (if any), would interest you?" So leave your answers in the comments. What training do you think would help older programmers most?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's game-over department
An anonymous reader writes: "In compliance with US embargoes and sanctions laws, Origin is not available in Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine (Crimea region)," a community manager from EA posted in September. Engadget calls it "a reminder of the risks you take when buying copy-protected game downloads... Even if you started your account elsewhere, you aren't allowed to either visit the Origin store or use any of your purchased games."
Sunday an employee at EA's Origin game store commented "This isn't an EA-specific issue -- it's an issue that impacts all companies offering services that are covered by trade embargoes." But since the U.S. lifted sanctions on Myanmar in September, EA "is internally reviewing the situation... It's unclear to me whether we can do anything for residents of other countries that are still similarly embargoed, but I'll bring the topic up for discussion internally."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's taking-license-with-GPL department
An anonymous reader writes:
"Wow, dude I did not even know we were fighting," Wix CEO Avishai Abrahami posted on the company's blog Saturday -- responding to Wordpress creator Matt Mullenweg, who on Friday accused Wix of stealing their code. "The claim is that the Wix mobile apps distribute GPL code and aren't themselves GPL, so they violate the license," Mullenweg wrote.
Abrahami argued that "Everything we improved there or modified, we submitted back as open source," adding "we will release the app you saw as well... " Mullenweg responded "It appears you and [lead engineer] Tal might share a misunderstanding of how the GPL works," ultimately adding "software licensing can be tricky and many people make honest mistakes."
Wix had also argued they're giving back to the open source community by listing 224 public projects on their GitHub page. "Thank you for the offer to use them," Mullenweg responded. "If we do, we'll make sure to follow the license you've put on the code very carefully."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's making-America-tweet-again department
An anonymous reader writes:
During the first U.S. presidential debate, "automated accounts were tweeting messages with hashtags associated with the candidates. For example, #makeamericagreatagain or #draintheswamp for Trump; #imwithher for Clinton," according to TechNewsWorld. They cite researchers at PoliticalBots.org, who "found that one-third of all tweets using pro-Trump hashtags were created by bots and one-fifth of all Clinton hashtags were generated by automated accounts."
In addition, "Political actors and governments worldwide have begun using bots to manipulate public opinion, choke off debate, and muddy political issues... We know for a fact that Russia, as a state, has sponsored the use of bots for attacking transnational targets... We've had cases in Mexico, Turkey, South Korea and Australia. The problem is that a lot of people don't know bots exist, and that trends on social media or even online polls can be gamed by bots very easily."
After the second presidential debate, "Pro-Clinton bots 'fought back'," reported the BBC, adding that they were still outnumbered by the Trump bots.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's talk-like-a-politician-day department
The BBC reports that Iceland's Pirate Party "has tripled its seats in the 63-seat parliament, election results show. It is in joint second place with the Left-Greens -- with 10 seats each."
An anonymous reader quotes USA Today:
Iceland's hacker-led, upstart Pirate Party failed to make the nation's powerful Independence Party walk the plank after all. The Pirate Party -- led by a former WikiLeaks collaborator -- rode the populist movement sweeping Europe to make big gains in Saturday's election, but returns on Sunday gave the largest bloc of seats to the center-right Independence Party...
Pirate Party co-founder Birgitta Jonsdottir, who became involved with WikiLeaks in 2010 after its leader Julian Assange visited Iceland, said she was satisfied with the Pirate plunder at the polls. "Our internal predictions showed 10 to 15%, so this is at the top of the range."
Iceland's prime minister was forced to resign in April after the Panama Papers suggested his family had sheltered its personal wealth outside the country.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hear-hear department
An anonymous reader writes:
"High-frequency audio 'beacons' are embedded into TV commercials or browser ads," reports New Scientist. "These sounds, which are inaudible to the human ear, can be picked up by any nearby device that has a microphone and can then activate certain functions on that device...Some shopping reward apps, such as Shopkick, already use it to let retailers push department or aisle-specific ads and promotions to customers' phones as they shop."
But now Fortune reports that some apps "often actively listen for ultrasound signals, even when the app itself is closed, creating a new and relatively poorly-understood pathway for hacking." In addition, security researchers "have already found ways to mine cloaked IP addresses. Speaking to New Scientist, team member Vasilios Mavroudis suggests that an app's always-on microphone access could be leveraged to monitor conversations (and, if you're not paranoid already, to decipher what you're typing). The 'beacons' that transmit ultrasound data can also be spoofed to manipulate apps' user data."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bad-news-batteries department
Three weeks after unboxing a hoverboard, it burst into flames. But is Amazon partly to blame?
tripleevenfall quotes The Tennessean:
A Nashville family whose $1 million home was destroyed earlier this year in a fire caused by a hoverboard toy is suing Amazon saying the retail giant knowingly sold a dangerous product...
The lawsuit says the seller of the hoverboard listed online, "W-Deals," is a sham organization that is registered to an apartment in New York City that has not responded to requests from lawyers in the case. It alleges the family was sold a counterfeit product from China instead of a brand with a Samsung lithium ion battery they believed they were buying from Amazon . It says Tennessee product liability law holds a seller responsible if the manufacturer cannot be found.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's high-planes-drifting department
The A-10 aircraft "is just too effective to get rid of," wrote one defense blogger -- especially in light of ongoing issues with the F-35.
schwit1 quotes Jalopnik:
Strategists have feared that the jet will be axed in favor of funding the F-35, but the U.S. Air Force recently confirmed that it plans to keep the A-10 flying "indefinitely." While the Air Force is theoretically supposed to be diverting the A-10's operating expenses to feed the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the people in charge are now planning to keep the plane running...
Air Force Materiel Command chief Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski told AviationWeek in a interview, "Our command, anyway, is approaching this as another airplane that we are sustaining indefinitely." While the beancounters and product planners are trying to push the A-10 off the board, Materiel Command is going to keep on keeping the planes in peak condition, which will give the A-10 it's best chance of proving its worth over and over again. And it seems to be working -- the A-10 posted a 5% increase in its availability rate from 2014 to 2015, and the Air Force seems to keep postponing its demise.
In Congress one representative has even suggested an operational testing "fly-off" between the two aircraft -- a jet-vs-jet competition to determine whether any more A-10s get retired.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's canary-in-the-coal-mine? department
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes ComputerWorld:
In the next decade, the mining industry may lose more than half of its jobs to automation, according to a new report... This industry is adopting self-driving trucks, automated loaders and automated drilling and tunnel-boring systems. It is also testing fully autonomous long-distance trains, which carry materials from the mine to a port...
A broader question is whether mining is a bellwether for other industries. There's no clear answer, but what Aaron Cosbey, a development economist and a report author, can say is this: "Where you can find robotic replacements for human labor you tend to do it." Cosbey estimates that automation will replace 40% to 80% of the workers at a mine...
Driverless technology can increase output up to 20%, while decreasing fuel consumption up to 15%, according to the article. "This will increase demand for people with IT skills who can set up and operate the automation systems -- but at far smaller numbers than the people automation displaces."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's do-not-call-from department
This summer the FCC convened a "Robocall Task Force" to help consumers fight unwanted automated telemarketers, and Wednesday the coalition finally delivered a report recommending a "Do Not Originate" list so carriers could spot spoofed numbers which should be blocked.
A trial of the "DNO" list that's been running for the last few weeks on some IRS numbers has resulted in a 90 percent drop in the volume of IRS scam calls, officials from AT&T, which leads the strike force, said during the FCC meeting Wednesday. The carriers on the strike force, which include Sprint, Verizon, and many others, plan to continue testing the DNO list in the coming months, with the intent to fully implement it some time next year...
The strike force members also are working on a system to classify calls into categories, such as political or charity, as a way to give consumers more information before they answer calls from unknown numbers. And, the group said it has developed a working solution for authentication between VoIP applications and traditional landline networks as another way to defeat spoofing from callers in foreign countries.
Early next year they're planning larger tests -- and the strike force has also created a new site describing how to block and report robocalls.Read Replies (0)