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NASA Finally Admits It Doesn't Have the Funding To Land Humans on Mars
Posted by News Fetcher on July 13 '17 at 09:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's somebody-get-them-the-money department:
For years, NASA has been chalking out and expanding its plans to go to Mars. The agency's Journey to Mars project aims to land humans on the red planet during the 2030s. For years, the agency has been reassuring us that it will be able to make do all those audacious projects within the budget it gets. Until now, that is. From a report: Now, finally, the agency appears to have bended toward reality. During a propulsion meeting of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics on Wednesday, NASA's chief of human spaceflight acknowledged that the agency doesn't really have the funding it needs to reach Mars with the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. These vehicles have cost too much to build, and too much to fly, and therefore NASA hasn't been able to begin designing vehicles to land on Mars or ascend from the surface. "I can't put a date on humans on Mars, and the reason really is the other piece is, at the budget levels we described, this roughly 2 percent increase, we don't have the surface systems available for Mars," said NASA's William H. Gerstenmaier, responding to a question about when NASA will send humans to the surface of Mars. "And that entry, descent and landing is a huge challenge for us for Mars." This seems like a fairly common sense statement, but it's something that NASA officials have largely glossed over -- at least in public -- during the agency's promotion of a Journey to Mars.

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EFF Officially Appeals Tim Berners-Lee Decision On DRM In HTML
Posted by News Fetcher on July 13 '17 at 09:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's doing-the-right-thing department:
Last week, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) decided to officially recommend the use of Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) for protecting copyrighted video on the internet. This will enable web surfers to watch media in a browser that requires Digital Rights Management copy protection without the need for browser-based plugins. "It moves the responsibility for interaction from plugins to the browser," the consortium states at the time. "As such, EME offers a better user experience, bringing greater interoperability, privacy, security, and accessibility to viewing encrypted video on the web." TechDirt shares an update: It's been a foregone conclusion that EME was going to get approved, but there was a smaller fight about whether or not W3C would back a covenant not to sue security and privacy researchers who would be investigating (and sometimes breaking) that encryption. Due to massive pushback from the likes of the MPAA and (unfortunately) Netflix, Tim Berners-Lee rejected this covenant proposal. In response, W3C member EFF has now filed a notice of appeal on the decision. The crux of the appeal is the claimed benefits of EME that Berners-Lee put forth won't actually be benefits without the freedom of security researchers to audit the technology -- and that the wider W3C membership should have been able to vote on the issue. This appeals process has never been used before at the W3C, even though it's officially part of its charter -- so no one's entirely sure what happens next.

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3 ISPs Have Spent $572 Million To Kill Net Neutrality Since 2008
Posted by News Fetcher on July 13 '17 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's money-is-power department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: A study by Maplight indicates that for every one comment submitted to the FCC on net neutrality (and there have been roughly 5 million so far), the telecom industry has spent $100 in lobbying to crush the open internet. The group found that Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) have spent $572 million on attempts to influence the FCC and other government agencies since 2008. "The FCC's decision, slated to be announced later this summer, will be a clear indicator of the power of corporate cash in a Trump administration," notes the report. "Public sentiment is on the side of keeping the Obama administration's net neutrality policies, which prevented internet companies from blocking, slowing or giving priority to different websites." Congressional lobbying forms indicate that Comcast alone has spent nearly $4 million on lobbying Congress on net neutrality issues from the end of 2014 through the first quarter of 2017.

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NASA Releases Juno's First Stunning Close-Ups of Jupiter's Giant Storm
Posted by News Fetcher on July 13 '17 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's extraterrestrial-cyclone department:
NASA's Juno spacecraft has sent back the first photos from its close flyby over Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot. These images offer the closest ever view of the massive storm. The Verge reports: Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for a little over a year on a mission to study the planet's interior, atmosphere, and magnetosphere. Its elliptical orbit around the planet takes the probe close to the surface for a few hours every 53 days. These are called perijove passes -- and on July 10th, Juno completed its seventh. A little after its closest approach, Juno's camera, JunoCam, snapped a few shots of the storm from about 5,000 miles above. Typically, a team of NASA scientists chooses which images a spacecraft collects on its path around a planet. But with Juno, NASA's opened up the process to the public: space fans can weigh in on the photos JunoCam shoots by ranking their favorite points of interest. After the photos are taken, NASA releases the raw images for the public to process. People can crop them, assemble them into collages, and change or enhance the colors. The results are mesmerizing. You can view even more photos here.

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Private Company Plans To Bring Moon Rocks Back To Earth In Three Years
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 11:13 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's to-boldly-go-where-no-private-company-has-gone-before department:
mi writes: Moon Express, founded in 2010 to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, says it is self-funded to begin bringing kilograms of lunar rocks back to Earth within about three years. "We absolutely intend to make these samples available globally for scientific research, and make them available to collectors as well," said Bob Richards, one of the company's founders, in an interview with Ars. From the report: "The privately held company released plans for a single, modular spacecraft that can be combined to form successively larger and more capable vehicles. Ultimately the company plans to establish a lunar outpost in 2020 and set up commercial operations on the Moon."

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Era of 'Biological Annihilation' Is Underway, Scientists Warn
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 08:33 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's strong-language department:
Tatiana Schlossberg reports via The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled, alternate source): From the common barn swallow to the exotic giraffe, thousands of animal species are in precipitous decline, a sign that an irreversible era of mass extinction is underway, new research finds. The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, calls the current decline in animal populations a "global epidemic" and part of the "ongoing sixth mass extinction" caused in large measure by human destruction of animal habitats. The previous five extinctions were caused by natural phenomena. Dr. Ceballos emphasized that he and his co-authors, Paul R. Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo, both professors at Stanford University, are not alarmists, but are using scientific data to back up their assertions that significant population decline and possible mass extinction of species all over the world may be imminent, and that both have been underestimated by many other scientists. The study's authors looked at reductions in a species' range -- a result of factors like habitat degradation, pollution and climate change, among others -- and extrapolated from that how many populations have been lost or are in decline, a method that they said is used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They found that about 30 percent of all land vertebrates -- mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians -- are experiencing declines and local population losses. In most parts of the world, mammal populations are losing 70 percent of their members because of habitat loss.

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The Audi A8: First Production Car To Achieve Level 3 Autonomy
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 05:55 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's luxury-sedans department:
schwit1 shares a report from IEEE Spectrum: The 2018 Audi A8, just unveiled in Barcelona, counts as the world's first production car to offer Level 3 autonomy. Level 3 means the driver needn't supervise things at all, so long as the car stays within guidelines. Here that involves driving no faster than 60 kilometers per hour (37 mph), which is why Audi calls the feature AI Traffic Jam Pilot. Go ahead, Audi's saying, read your newspaper or just zone out while traffic creeps along. To be sure, the A8 also monitors the driver, even while the traffic jam persists, and continues to do so as the speed edges up over the limit. If the driver falls asleep, it'll wake him up; if it can't get his attention, it will stop the car. If you want to buy the new A8, you'll have to check whether your jurisdiction will accept it as a Level 3 car. Audi said in a statement that it will follow "a step-by-step approach" to introducing the traffic jam pilot. It plans to sell the base model in Europe this fall for 90,600 euros, or about $103,000, and to enter the United States market shortly afterwards. A model having a longer wheelbase will cost a few percent more.

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Amazon May Give Developers Your Private Alexa Transcripts
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 04:33 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fine-line-between-being-helpful-and-intrusive department:
According to The Information, Amazon may give developers access to your private Alexa audio recordings. Until now, Amazon has not given third-party developers access to what you say to the voice assistant, while Google has with its Google Home speaker. Engadget reports: So far, Alexa developers can only see non-identifying information, like the number of times you use a specific skill, how many times you talk to your Echo device and your location data. The Information reports that some developers have heard from Amazon representatives about more access to actual transcripts, though how and how much wasn't discovered. If developers knew what exactly is being said to their skills, they could make adjustments based on specific information.

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Radio Station Hijacked Eight Times In the Past Month To Play 'I'm a Wanker' Song
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 04:33 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-safe-for-work department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: An unknown hacker has hijacked the radio frequency of a UK radio station to play an obscene song eight times during the past month, according to the radio station's manager who recently revealed the hacks in an interview with BBC Radio 4. The hacks have been reported to Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator, who together with the radio station's staff have tried to track down the culprit at last three times, without success. Ofcom and radio station officials believe the hacker is using a mobile radio transmitter to broadcast a stronger signal on the radio station's normal frequency, overriding its normal program. In eight different occasions, the hacker has taken over broadcasts and has been heard talking, screaming, or singing, and then playing "The Winker's Song" (NSFW) by British comedian Ivor Biggun, a track about self-pleasure released in the 70s. Station manager Tony Delahunty told BBC Radio he received phone calls from distressed listeners complaining that their kids started humming the song. Fellow radio stations also called Delahunty to inquire about the hack, fearing similar hijacks.

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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Read Code?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 03:13 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's secret-sauce department:
New submitter Gornkleschnitzer writes: The majority of humans read silently by rendering a simulation of the printed words as if they were being spoken. By reading that sentence, chances are you're now stuck being conscious of this, too. You're welcome.

As a programmer (and a reader of fanfiction), plenty of things I read are not valid English syntax. When I find myself reviewing class definitions, for loops, and #define macros, I rely on some interesting if inconsistent mental pronunciation rules. For instance, int i = 0; comes out as "int i equals zero," but if(i == 0) sometimes comes out as either "if i is zero" or "if i equals equals zero." The loop for(size_t i = 0; i < itemList.size(); ++i) generally translates to "for size T i equals zero, i less than item list dot size, plus-plus i." I seem to drop C++ insertion/extraction operators entirely in favor of a brief comma-like pause, with cout << str << endl; sounding like "kowt, stur, endel."

What are your code-reading quirks?

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Hyperloop One Conducts First Full Systems Test But Only Traveled 70MPH
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 03:13 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's slow-and-steady department:
Thelasko shares a report from Jalopnik about Hyperloop One's first full systems Hyperloop test: In the test, Hyperloop says its vehicle traveled the first portion of a track using magnetic levitation in a vacuum environment, and reached 70 mph. It's a significant leap past the company's test a year ago, which sent a sled down a track for a grand total of two seconds. And while that's not the lighting-fast speed that Hyperloop Ones says its futurist transport system could go, the company says this test -- conducted privately on May 12 -- is only Phase 1. Hyperloop One's in the process of the next phase, now aiming for 250 mph. "By achieving full vacuum, we essentially invented our own sky in a tube, as if you're flying at 200,000 feet in the air," said Shervin Pishevar, co-founder and Executive Chairman of Hyperloop One. "For the first time in over 100 years, a new mode of transportation has been introduced. Hyperloop is real, and it's here now."

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'World's First Robot Lawyer' Now Available In All 50 States
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 01:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's free-strongly-worded-letters department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: A chatbot that provides free legal counsel using AI is now available in all 50 states starting today. This is following its success in New York, Seattle, and the UK, where it was invented by British entrepreneur Joshua Browder. Browder, who calls his invention "the world's first robot lawyer," estimates the bot has helped defeat 375,000 parking tickets in a span of two years. Browder, a junior at Stanford University, tells The Verge via Twitter that his chatbot could potentially experience legal repercussions from the government, but he is more concerned with competing with lawyers. "The legal industry is more than a 200 billion dollar industry, but I am excited to make the law free," says Browder. "Some of the biggest law firms can't be happy!" Browder believes that his chatbot could also save government officials time and money. "Everybody can win," he says, "I think governments waste a huge amount of money employing people to read parking ticket appeals. DoNotPay sends it to them in a clear and easy to read format."

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Google Spared $1.3 Billion Tax Bill With Victory In French Court
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 01:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's digital-economy department:
New submitter Zorro shares a report from Bloomberg: Google won its fight against a 1.12 billion-euro ($1.3 billion) French tax bill after a court rejected claims the search-engine giant abused loopholes to avoid paying its fair share. Google didn't illegally dodge French taxes by routing sales in the country out of Ireland, the Paris administrative court decided Wednesday. Judges ruled that Google's European headquarters in Ireland can't be taxed as if it also has a permanent base in France, as requested by the nation's administration. "Google Ireland isn't taxable in France over the period 2005-2010," the court said in a statement. Google said in a statement: "The French Administrative Court of Paris has confirmed Google abides by French tax law and international standards. We remain committed to France and the growth of its digital economy."

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Mark Zuckerberg Hits the Road To Meet Regular Folks -- With a Few Conditions
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 12:13 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's zuckerberg-will-see-you-now department:
Mark Zuckerberg is trying to understand America, so he's embarked on a journey to meet people like hockey moms and steelworkers who don't typically cross his path. But there are rules to abide by if you are an ordinary person about to meet an extraordinary entrepreneur. From a report: Rule One: You probably won't know Mr. Zuckerberg is coming. Rule Two: If you do know he's coming, keep it to yourself. Rule Three: Be careful what you reveal about the meeting. While the Facebook CEO has built a social network that inspired people around the world to share the most intimate details about their personal lives, his team goes to extraordinary lengths to keep his movements under wraps and control how he is perceived. Midway through a "personal challenge" to travel to 30 states he'd never visited, the 33-year old aims "to talk to more people about how they're living, working and thinking about the future," he wrote in January on his Facebook page. Among those people was Kyle McKasson, manager of the Wilton Candy Kitchen, a century-old shop on the town square in Wilton, Iowa. He was at work one Monday afternoon in June when two men and a woman dressed in jeans and button-down shirts entered the store, which is a regular stop on Iowa's presidential campaign circuit.

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Net Neutrality is Not a Pirates' Fight Anymore
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 12:13 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's perspective department:
Today millions of people are standing up for net neutrality and an open internet. The "Battle for the Net," backed by companies including Amazon, Google, and Netflix, hopes to stop a looming repeal of current net neutrality rules. While the whole debate was kickstarted ten years ago when torrent users couldn't download their favorite TV-shows, it's no longer a pirate's fight today, writes TorrentFreak: Historically, there is a strong link between net neutrality and online piracy. The throttling concerns were first brought to the forefront in 2007 when Comcast started to slow down both legal and unauthorized BitTorrent traffic, in an affort to ease the load on its network. When we uncovered this atypical practice, it ignited the first broad discussion on net neutrality. This became the setup for the FCC's Open Internet Order which was released three years later. For its part, the Open Internet Order formed the foundation of the net neutrality rules the FCC adopted in 2015. The big change compared to the earlier rules was that ISPs can be regulated as carriers under Title II. While pirates may have helped to get the ball rolling, they're no longer a player in the current net neutrality debate. Under the current rules, ISPs are allowed to block any unlawful traffic, including copyright infringing content. In fact, in the net neutrality order the FCC has listed the following rule: "Nothing in this part prohibits reasonable efforts by a provider of broadband Internet access service to address copyright infringement or other unlawful activity." The FCC reasons that copyright infringement hurts the US economy, so Internet providers are free to take appropriate measures against this type of traffic. This includes the voluntary censoring of pirate sites, something the MPAA and RIAA are currently lobbying for. That gives ISPs plenty of leeway. ISPs could still block access to The Pirate Bay and other alleged pirate sites as a voluntary anti-piracy measure, for example. And throttling BitTorrent traffic across the board is also an option, as long as it's framed as reasonable network management. The worrying part is that ISPs themselves can decide what traffic or sites are unlawful. This could potentially lead to overblocking. Currently, there is no indication that any will, but the net neutrality rules do not preventing these companies from doing so.

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Millions of Verizon Customer Records Exposed in Security Lapse
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 10:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Zack Whittaker, reporting for ZDNet: An Israeli technology company has exposed millions of Verizon customer records, ZDNet has learned. As many as 14 million records of subscribers who called the phone giant's customer services in the past six months were found on an unprotected Amazon S3 storage server controlled by an employee of Nice Systems, a Ra'anana, Israel-based company. The data was downloadable by anyone with the easy-to-guess web address. Nice, which counts 85 of the Fortune 100 as customers, plays in two main enterprise software markets: customer engagement and financial crime and compliance including tools that prevent fraud and money laundering. Nice's 2016 revenue was $1.01 billion, up from $926.9 million in the previous year. The financial services sector is Nice's biggest industry in terms of customers, with telecom companies such as Verizon a key vertical. The company has more than 25,000 customers in about 150 countries.

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Symantec Explores Selling Web Certificates Business
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 10:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-development department:
Cybersecurity firm Symantec is considering selling its website certification business, in a deal that could fetch more than $1 billion and extricate it from a feud with Alphabet's Google, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. From a report: Google said in March that it was investigating Symantec's failure to properly validate its certificates, which confirm that websites can be trusted. Symantec has called Google's claims "exaggerated and misleading." Symantec is in talks with a small number of companies and private equity firms about the potential sale, three sources said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential. There is no certainty that a deal will occur, the sources added.

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Apple Sets Up China Data Center To Meet New Cybersecurity Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's when-in-China department:
Apple on Wednesday said it is setting up its first data center in China, in partnership with a local internet services company, to comply with tougher cybersecurity laws introduced last month. From a report: The U.S. technology company said it will build the center in the southern province of Guizhou with data management firm Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry. An Apple spokesman in Shanghai told Reuters the center is part of a planned $1 billion investment into the province. "The addition of this data center will allow us to improve the speed and reliability of our products and services while also complying with newly passed regulations," Apple said in a statement to Reuters.

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Iceberg the Size of Delaware, Among Biggest Ever Recorded, Snaps Off Antarctica
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's troubles-begin department:
A giant iceberg about the size of Delaware that had been under scientists' watch has broken off from an ice shelf on the Antarctica Peninsula and is now adrift in the Weddell Sea. From a report: The 2,200 square-mile, trillion metric-ton section of the Larsen C ice shelf "calved" off sometime between Monday and Wednesday, a team of researchers at Swansea University's Project MIDAS has reported, citing imaging from NASA's Aqua MODIS satellite instrument. Scientists have tracked the crack for more than a decade and they warned in June that the section was "hanging by a thread." Its break, from Antarctica's fourth-largest ice shelf, changes the border shape of the peninsula forever even though the remaining ice shelf will continue to grow. "The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict," said professor Adrian Luckman of Swansea University, lead investigator of the MIDAS project. "It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters."

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After Go, Developers Are Now Building AI To Beat Us at Soccer
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '17 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-coming department:
After Google's AlphaGo artificial intelligence bested our best Go player, South Korea is now setting its sights on making AI that can play soccer. From a report: Hosted by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST), the AI World Cup will see university students across South Korea developing AI programs to compete in a series of online games, reported The Korea Times. The prelims will begin in November. "The football matches will be conducted in a five on five tournament," a KAIST spokesperson told the publication on Tuesday. "Each of the five AI-programmed players in such positions as striker, defender and goalkeeper will compete with their counterparts."

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