By BeauHD from Slashdot's sad-day-for-astronomers department
An anonymous reader writes: The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced that it has lost contact with its "Hitomi" satellite -- a state-of-the-art X-ray observatory, developed in conjunction with NASA, to spy on energetic processes in space including black holes, massive galaxies, and exploding stars. On Sunday, March 27, the Japanese Space Agency announced it had lost contact with the satellite on March 26, just a little more than a month after it was launched on February 17. Now, Members of the U.S. Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), a military organization that identifies and tracks space debris near Earth, said five objects were drifting near the location of Hitomi at around the same time it lost communication with Earth, Nature reports. It's being reported that Hitomi has separated into "multiple pieces" before March 26. Currently, there are about 40 JAXA technicians scouring the skies, trying to locate the expensive observatory.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's virtual-reality-is-here department
In what can be seen as a major milestone in the nascent, but fast-evolving virtual reality technology space, Facebook-owned Oculus on Monday began shipping the commercial version of the Rift. Several technology publications have posted their reviews of the Oculus Rift. The Verge, for instance, says: The high cost of buying and running high-end VR headsets makes them inaccessible to many people, and the Rift in particular is relentlessly focused on gaming. Within these limitations, though, the Rift makes a good case for seated VR, and it lays a solid foundation for what's to come. The headset you can buy today is not Oculus' most ambitious vision for virtual reality -- but it's a vision that Oculus has successfully delivered on. The publication has given the Rift a score of 8 out of 10, noting that the retail price of the Rift, and the accompanying gaming PC, is a tad too expensive. It also found the lack of motion controls a weakness. Cnet writes: You simply must try the Oculus Rift. It's breathtaking. I just wouldn't buy one right now -- and there's no reason you should feel the need to, either (especially with its arch-rival, the HTC Vive, also just days away). The longer you wait to buy, the better it will get. This is just day one for Oculus -- and for the future of virtual reality.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's vulnerable-app,-exposable-data department
An anonymous reader writes about a newly found vulnerability in Truecaller: Security researchers have found a flaw in Truecaller, a popular service that indexes phone numbers and helps users block spammers and telemarketers. An article on Softpedia explains the vulnerability, "When users first install the Android app, they are prompted to enter their phone number, email address, and other personal details. This information is verified by phone call or SMS message. Upon opening the app for the second time, no login screens are shown. In a proof-of-concept code shared with Softpedia, researchers were able to retrieve personal details for other users based on an IMEI code just by interacting with the app's servers. The servers exposed data such as the user's Truecaller account name, his gender, email address, profile image, home address, and whatever else was stored in his profile. Additionally, the IMEI code also allowed the researchers to modify account settings."Read Replies (0)
Why BART Is Falling Apart
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '16 at 07:21 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's please-state-the-value-in-krytrons department
HughPickens.com writes: Matthias Gafni writes in the San Jose Mercury News that the engineers who built BART, the rapid transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area that started operation in 1972, used principles developed for the aerospace industry rather than tried-and-true rail standards. And that's the trouble. "Back when BART was created, (the designers) were absolutely determined to establish a new product, and they intended to export it around the world," says Rod Diridon. "They may have gotten a little ahead of themselves using new technology. Although it worked, it was extremely complex for the time period, and they never did export the equipment because it was so difficult for other countries to install and maintain." The Space Age innovations have made it more challenging for the transit agency to maintain the BART system from the beginning. Plus, the aging system was designed to move 100,000 people per week and now carries 430,000 a day, so the loss of even a single car gets magnified with crowded commutes, delays and bus bridges. For example, rather than stick to the standard rail track width of 4 feet, 8.5 inches, BART engineers debuted a 5-foot, 6-inch width track, a gauge that remains to this day almost exclusive to the system. Industry experts say the unique track width necessitates custom-made wheel sets, brake assemblies and track repair vehicles.
< article continued at Slashdot's please-state-the-value-in-krytrons department
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By manishs from Slashdot's along-the-lines-of-net-neutrality department
An anonymous reader links to an article on Motherboard: The nation's largest internet service providers are undermining US open internet rules, threatening free speech, and disproportionately harming poor people by using a controversial industry practice called "zero-rating," a coalition of public interest groups wrote in a letter to federal regulators on Monday. Companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T use zero-rating, which refers to a variety of practices that exempt certain services from monthly data caps, to undercut "the spirit and the text" of federal rules designed to protect net neutrality, the principle that all content on the internet should be equally accessible, the groups wrote. Zero-rated plans "distort competition, thwart innovation, threaten free speech, and restrict consumer choice -- all harms the rules were meant to prevent," the groups wrote. "These harms tend to fall disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color, who tend to rely on mobile networks as their primary or exclusive means of access to the internet."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's my-eyes-my-eyes department
An anonymous reader writes: As far as I know, I am not particularly sensitive to glare; I've used CRTs in offices full of overhead fluorescent lights, and just ignored the terrible reflections, and I've worked in places where the natural sunlight cleverly funneled in by architects was bounced around by glass walls and mirrors in just the right way to irritate. Still, I never found it much of a problem. Now, though, I work in a field that has me both working outdoors a lot, and traveling by car a fair amount, too. Now that days are getting longer, especially up here in the Pacific Northwest, I know that I'll be squinting and cursing a lot at my phone. My question(s): Are there are any modern smart phones you can recommend with a truly or even passably day-light readable screen? I don't care if it's e-ink (that would be cool), transflective (long promised!) or maybe just a secondary screen with some daylight-readable technology. Barring that, how do you deal with glare on a phone, when you need to use it on a sunny day? Same answer could apply to laptop use, I suppose. Do you build a little glare shield, of the kind that camera operators use? Wear a giant hood of privacy and darkness? I know I'm not alone — I see lots of others squinting and cursing at their cell phones, cupping it with their hands at their eyes, or ducking into scant shade just to see whether the call that's coming is one they need to take, or to read a text. I've tried quite a few phones that have been praised by reviewers for their bright, crisp, daylight-friendly displays, but I think those reviewers probably lived in New York or San Francisco, and were reading in either shadow or fog, because even the brightest Samsungs, Motorolas, and LGs I've seen cannot hold a candle to the summer sun north of Seattle.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's late-to-the-game department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Consumer Reports: Redbox, the movie and game-rental kiosk service, might be getting back into the streaming game a few years after its digital streaming service, Redbox Instant, failed. The new Redbox streaming service could be a pay-per-view option for rentals and purchases like Apple iTunes or Vudu. The trade publication Variety -- which broke the story, citing "multiple sources" familiar with the company -- said that the new service will be called Redbox Digital and that Redbox is close to launching a beta of the service.
Compared to a subscription service, negotiating the rights to pay-per-view titles should be easier for Redbox. And since many Redbox streaming customers already use their site to search for and reserve titles, it would be much more convenient for them to be able to immediately order a digital version. Another potential benefit would be the price of the rentals. The reason why physical Redbox kiosks are popular is because the $1.50 rental price for DVDs, and $2 rental price for Blu-ray discs are relatively cheap. Redbox Digital may gain some attraction if, and only if, there are considerable savings for users, otherwise there would be little reason to choose Redbox over a more established pay-per-view service, such as Amazon Instant, Google Play, or Vudu.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's vacuum-of-space-sucks department
As carried here by the San Francisco Chronicle, The Associated Press reports that Japanese space agency JAXA reports that it has lost contact with its new satellite "Hitomi," deployed last month and designed to explore deep space with X-ray telescopes. The AP story linked quotes Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who surmises that an "energetic event" has sent the craft into a tumble. The agency's release on the failure is terse, but leaves some room for hope:
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) found that communication with the X-ray Astronomy Satellite âoeHitomiâ (ASTRO-H), launched on February 17, 2016 (JST), failed from the start of its operation originally scheduled at 16:40, Saturday March 26 (JST). Up to now, JAXA has not been able to figure out the state of health of the satellite.
While the cause of communication failure is under investigation, JAXA received short signal from the satellite, and is working for recovery.Read Replies (0)