By EditorDavid from Slashdot's robot-pot department
NJ Advance Media reports on "an Israeli and Maryland-based startup that claims to be able to quadruple the yield of traditional cannabis grows" -- using indoor, climate-controlled 40-inch-tall "grow fridges" that are tended by robots.
You see, despite the old cliche of "growing like a weed," cannabis has actually been something of a high-maintenance slacker when it comes to its cultivation... In shade, it provides far less seed and pollen. It's not tolerant of the cold, and does not reproduce well in drought. It's also very susceptible to fungal infections, so too much water leaves it vulnerable to pathogens... For years, the high price fetched by traditionally farmed cannabis and low cost of human labor conspired to make robotic farming uneconomical.
What else is inside the Seedo container besides the plants, gro-bots and soil? Nothing -- which is kind of the whole point: Seedo uses a patented, beyond-surgical grade filtration system that ionizes the air, making it deadly to bacteria, viruses and mold.... At $150,000 per Seedo container, the costs to achieve this are high, but cutting the usual 10 percent to 20 percent loss to disease of a traditionally farmed cannabis crop to disease to less than 5 percent, they rapidly become economical... A traditionally-farmed 1,000 square meter grow operation produces 600 kilograms of cannabis per year. But Levy says 16 Seedo containers (along with a Seedo robot to tend them) can fit into that same space, producing 2.4 tons of dry bud [2,177 kilograms]. And because they can be stacked 5 high, the same robotically farmed footprint can generate up to 12 tons [10,886 kilograms] of dry bud cannabis. "You can make a return on investment very fast," said Levy, whose backers now include include Daniel Birnbaum, the CEO of SodaStream International, acquired by Pepsi late last year for $3.2 billion.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's infinity-and-beyond department
"No Man's Sky is getting another large-scale update, and this one is different," writes GameSpot.
An anonymous reader quotes their report:
A "No Man's Sky VR" update is scheduled for this summer, which will add free support for PlayStation VR and Steam VR. Hello Games boasts that this is the entire game brought into VR rather than a separate mode. According to the announcement, this is the second major pillar to the Beyond expansion that Hello Games previously announced. The first pillar is a major overhaul to its online play, and a third pillar is yet to be announced...
Last year, No Man's Sky issued a large-scale update called Next, which overhauled many of the game's systems. It was such a major update that we named it one of the best expansions of 2018. Hello has subsequently been issuing regular updates, like the underwater Abyss expansion and tons of new biomes in the Visions expansion.
Watch the "official VR reveal trailer" on YouTube.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's job-references department
This week the BBC reported on teenaged "hackers dragged from a world of crime to fight for the other side" at "a fairly ordinary looking cyber-security company" in southwest England. Bruce66423 shared their report:
Bluescreen employs hackers the authorities have deemed worthy of a second chance, who pit their wits against some of the anonymous online criminals they used to see as brothers in arms... Bluescreen IT has a direct link with the police to find hackers in need of direction. These are young men who have been accused of serious crimes, but instead of being taken through the criminal justice system, they've been given a second chance. About 15 people work in the Security Operations Centre, a handful of whom have been referred to the company as hackers who aren't malicious in nature and are deemed capable of reform...
There's a relaxed atmosphere when you walk into the Security Operations Centre, but it's serious work. Three monitors on the wall detail which of Bluescreen's clients are being attacked, and how serious the threat is. The clients, mostly smaller and medium-sized businesses from around the South West, are given codenames like "Black Mamba" or "Green Starfish" -- usually a colour and an animal... Bluescreen sees itself as a place to develop young people, give them a second chance, and be a haven for those with nowhere else to go. "It makes me really proud when they achieve industry-recognised qualifications," said the company's chief operating officer, Richard Cashmore.
A 16-year-old named Jack stole personal information from about 1,000 people. Years later, when he was 19, "the police sent five squad cars, a tech team and a riot van to his home.... Another employee, Cameron, was arrested on his way to school when he was just 14 years old. "Officers from the National Crime Agency had planned the sting so that Cameron would be out of the house, and unable to destroy his hard drives in the event he heard them coming."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sober-or-stationary department
Since 2008, a $65 million program has been designing a sophisticated new "ignition interlock" system that would only allows cars to start if it detects that the driver is sober, the Washington Post reports:
What's different -- perhaps even revolutionary -- is that the built-in ignition interlock would make an instantaneous and precise reading of every driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) level when the driver attempts to start the vehicle. Eventually, the device could become standard equipment, just like air bags. The device would take BAC samples in one of two ways. A breath-based system would gather a whiff of a driver's ambient breath. A touch-based system would analyze the touch of a driver's finger, perhaps from a vehicle's starter button or the steering wheel....
Officials behind the public-private effort to develop the technology -- known as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) -- say the device will be ready for commercial fleets next year. Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles became the first state agency to use it in its fleet last year, and a private company, James River Transportation, is road-testing them in its fleet of Ford Flex crossovers.... . Advocates say that if their work is successful, such a device -- which requires understanding complexities involving the science of biology, spectroscopy, electrical engineering, consumer behavior and even politics -- could save an estimated 10,000 lives a year.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's super-fungus department
A drug-resistant fungus called Candida auris "is quietly spreading across the globe," reports the New York Times:
Over the last five years, it has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, forced a prestigious British medical center to shut down its intensive care unit, and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa. Recently C. auris reached New York , New Jersey and Illinois, leading the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to add it to a list of germs deemed "urgent threats...."
In the United States, two million people contract resistant infections annually, and 23,000 die from them, according to the official CDC estimate. That number was based on 2010 figures; more recent estimates from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine put the death toll at 162,000. Worldwide fatalities from resistant infections are estimated at 700,000.... With bacteria and fungi alike, hospitals and local governments are reluctant to disclose outbreaks for fear of being seen as infection hubs.
Even the CDC, under its agreement with states, is not allowed to make public the location or name of hospitals involved in outbreaks. State governments have in many cases declined to publicly share information beyond acknowledging that they have had cases.... [A] hushed panic is playing out in hospitals around the world. Individual institutions and national, state and local governments have been reluctant to publicize outbreaks of resistant infections, arguing there is no point in scaring patients -- or prospective ones.
The Times reports that C. auris targets people with weakened immune systems (including babies and the elderly) -- and that 587 cases of C. auris have already been reported in the U.S., according to the CDC: 309 cases in New York, 104 in New Jersey, and 144 in Illinois. The CDC adds that half the patients who contract C. auris die within 90 days.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's nice-work-if-you-can-get-it department
An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post:
Griffin Spikoski spends as much as 18 hours a day glued to his computer screen playing the wildly popular, multiplayer video game "Fortnite." His YouTube channel -- where he regularly uploads videos of himself playing the online game -- has nearly 1.2 million subscribers and more than 71 million views; figures that have netted him advertisers, sponsorships and a steady stream of income. Last year, that income totaled nearly $200,000... "It's kind of like my job," Griffin told ABC affiliate WABC-TV, noting he plays about eight hours a day in his Long Island home...
His big break came last year when Spikoski beat a well-known Fortnite player and uploaded a video of the battle to YouTube, quickly resulting in 7.5 million views, according to WABC-TV. It didn't take long, the station reported, for the teenager to make his first $100 from Twitch. Not long after, his father, Chris said, everything changed. "Two months went by and we were like, 'Alright, we're going to need to get an accountant and get a financial adviser,'" he said.
Spikoski's parents told filmmakers that they decided to remove their son from high school as his dedication to gaming deepened... Spikoski's parents said their son had been pushing them to allow him to pursue online schooling. With his success growing, they eventually relented. "It's been his dream to be a gamer, to be in e-sports, just to be in this field since he was a kid," Spikoski said, noting that his son began playing video games at age three. "We don't really see that you need a 9-to-5 job to get by in life and you can actually have fun with a career and enjoy your love and do what you love and make a living out of it," he added.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's time-to-light-the-lights department
Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: While Apple CEO Tim Cook may not be able to force schoolchildren to code, there's no law against Cook and Apple using Sesame Street to make preschoolers want to code. Among the original Apple TV+ shows Cook announced at Apple's March Event was Helpsters, an "incredible new preschool show" about coding from "the peeps at Sesame Workshop and Apple."
In a skit on stage at the Steve Jobs Theater [available on YouTube], a Helpster monster from the new show named "Cody" (get it!) explains to Big Bird, "See, coding fosters collaboration, critical-thinking skills, and is an essential language that every child can learn. By teaching preschoolers about coding, we are giving them the opportunity to change the world."
One site described Cody as "a sociopathic tech recruiter muppet," complaining that "Teaching kids about technology is fine. But this is just creepy." They also objected to the show's targeting of pre-schoolers.
"From a developmental point of view, most experts agree very young children should be working on figuring out how to share their toys, not thinking about how to program them."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's dark-matters department
Long-time Slashdot reader frank249 brings some news from Diana Dragomir, a Hubble Fellow at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research:
Diana Dragomir tweeted that the MOST Telescope "can no longer be powered up. It's had a long life, overshooting its planned one-year lifespan by a factor of 15...!"
The MOST Space Telescope (which stands for Microvariability and Oscillation of Stars) was launched into space in 2003. It was the first Canadian scientific satellite in orbit in 33 years, and it is the first space telescope to be entirely designed and built in Canada. About the size and shape of a large suitcase, the satellite weighs only 54 kilograms and is equipped with an ultra high precision telescope that measures only 15 centimetres in diameter (thus the nickname "humble space telescope").
Despite its diminutive size, it is [was?] ten times more sensitive than the Hubble Space Telescope in detecting the minuscule variations in a star's luminosity caused by vibrations that shake its surface.
Interestingly, when the Most telescope first launched back in 2003 -- it was the same long-time Slashdot reader frank249 who submitted the story.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's lost-in-space department
In December a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket deployed 64 satellites into space. But four months later, more than a dozen "have yet to be identified in space," reports the Verge. "We know that they're up there, and where they are, but it's unclear which satellites belong to which satellite operator on the ground...."
"Many of the satellite operators do not know which of these 19 probes are theirs exactly, and the Air Force can't figure it out either."
For a good portion of these satellites, it's possible that they have experienced some kind of technical problem, preventing the operators from contacting the spacecraft in orbit. But part of the identification issue stems from the SSO-A "SmallSat Express" mission's structure. This was a rocket ride-share, a type of launch that's become popular in the industry. As satellites grow smaller, operators can pack a bunch of these tiny probes together on larger launch vehicles, sending them into space all at once. But with so many satellites going into orbit at the same time, it can be hard for the Air Force's technology to distinguish the satellites from each other. And that, in turn, can make it hard for satellite operators to decipher which satellites are theirs...
Not knowing the exact location of a spacecraft is a major problem for operators. If they can't communicate with their satellite, the company's orbiting hardware becomes, essentially, space junk. It brings up liability and transparency concerns, too. If an unidentified satellite runs into something else in space, it's hard to know who is to blame...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's video-killed-the-video-star department
An anonymous reader quotes the Verge:
As YouTube battles misinformation catastrophes and discovers new ways people are abusing its system, the company is shifting toward more commercial, advertiser-friendly content at a speed its creator community hasn't seen before. The golden age of YouTube -- the YouTube of a million different creators all making enough money to support themselves by creating videos about doing what they love -- is over... By the end of 2016, when algorithm changes were creating headaches for some of the platform's biggest creators, people started announcing they had to take a break from the site they called home. YouTube wasn't what it was between 2011 and 2016... YouTube was exerting more control over what users saw and what videos would make money...
YouTube faced an escalating crisis of radicalization and sweeping conspiracy theories that had been ignored by executives for years. The company's first small efforts to address these serious issues -- promoting content from musicians, late-night shows, and recommending fewer independent creators -- would have huge secondary effects on the middle-tier creators who had once been the heart of the platform during its golden period. It pushed YouTube toward the exact same Hollywood content to which it had once been an alternative.... Even people outside of YouTube saw what was happening. "YouTube is inevitably heading towards being like television, but they never told their creators this," Jamie Cohen, a professor of new media at Molloy College, told USA Today in 2018....
Individual YouTube creators couldn't keep up with the pace YouTube's algorithm set. But traditional, mainstream outlets could: late-night shows began to dominate YouTube, along with music videos from major labels. The platform now looked the way it had when it started, but with the stamp of Hollywood approval.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's job-openings department
An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet:
Chinese companies have leaked a whopping 590 million resumes in the first three months of the year, ZDNet has learned from multiple security researchers. Most of the resume leaks have occurred because of poorly secured MongoDB databases and ElasticSearch servers that have been left exposed online without a password, or have ended up online following unexpected firewall errors.
Over the past few months, and especially over the last few weeks, ZDNet has received several tips about exposed servers that --when investigated-- belonged to Chinese HR-focused companies. From tiny firms exposing a handful of CVs to professional executive head-hunting firms, they've all leaked their customers' details, in one form or another... Counting all, we have 590.497 million resumes that have leaked from Chinese companies over the past three months, a worrying sign that Chinese HR companies are not taking the security of their servers seriously.
The article points out that the resumes include personal information including phone numbers, home addresses, family and marital status, and in some cases, even ID numbers.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's college-admissions department
"A test of UK university defences against cyber-attacks found that in every case hackers were able to obtain 'high-value' data within two hours," writes the BBC.
Bruce66423 shares their report:
The tests were carried out by "ethical hackers" working for Jisc, the agency providing internet services to the UK's universities and research centres. They were able to access personal data, finance systems and research networks....
The simulated attacks, so-called "penetration testing", were carried out on more than 50 universities in the UK, with some being attacked multiple times. A report into their effectiveness, published by Jisc (formerly the Joint Information Systems Committee) and the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), showed a 100% success rate in getting through the cyber-defences. Within two hours, and in some cases one hour, they were able to reach student and staff personal information, override financial systems and access research databases.
The tests were carried out by Jisc's in-house team of ethical hackers, with one of the most effective approaches being so-called "spear phishing"...where an email might appear to be from someone you know or a trusted source but is really a way of concealing an attack, such as downloading "malware".Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's survey-says department
An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg:
Unemployed people derive significant psychological benefits from receiving a fixed amount of financial support from the state, according to a landmark experiment into basic income in Finland that highlights the disadvantages of the country's existing means-tested system.
Initial results of the two-year study had already shown that its 2,000 participants were no more and no less likely to work than their counterparts receiving traditional unemployment benefit. Thursday's set of additional results from the social insurance institution Kela showed that those getting a basic income described their financial situation more positively than respondents in the control group. They also experienced less stress and fewer financial worries than the control group, Kela said in a statement... They had more trust in other people and social institutions, and showed more faith in their ability to have influence over their own lives, in their personal finances and in their prospects of finding employment
Finland is the first country in the world to test universal basic incomes at national level.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's going-against-the-grains department
An anonymous reader writes:
"A bad diet kills more people globally than tobacco," reports Bloomberg, citing a new study
funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and published Wednesday in Lancet. The study argues that poor diets led to 11 million deaths in 2017 -- and that more than half of them were caused by just three main dietary factors: low consumption of whole grains, low consumption of fruits, and high intake of sodium.
In fact, bad diets are responsible for more deaths worldwide than any other cause, the researchers concluded. "We found that improvement of diet could potentially prevent one in every five deaths globally."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's greenhouse-gas-remissions department
An anonymous reader quotes the BBC:
British Columbia-based Carbon Engineering has shown that it can extract CO2 in a cost-effective way. It has now been boosted by $68m in new investment from Chevron, Occidental and coal giant BHP... With its new funding, the company plans to build its first commercial facilities. These industrial-scale direct air capture (DAC) plants could capture up to one million tonnes of CO2 from the air each year....
Carbon Engineering's process is all about sucking in air and exposing it to a chemical solution that concentrates the CO2. Further refinements mean the gas can be purified into a form that can be stored or utilised as a liquid fuel.... Carbon Engineering says the liquid can be used in a variety of engines without modification. "The fuel that we make has no sulphur in it, it has these nice linear chains which means it burns cleaner than traditional fuel," said Carbon Engineering's Dr Jenny McCahill. "It's nice and clear and ready to be used in a truck, car or jet."
CO2 can also be used to flush out the last remaining deposits of oil in wells that are past their prime. The oil industry in the US has been using the gas in this way for decades. It's estimated that using CO2 can deliver an extra 30% of crude from oilfields with the added benefit that the gas is then sequestered permanently in the ground... There is a big worry that with large investments from the fossil fuel industry, the focus of Carbon Engineering's efforts could be turned to producing more oil, not just tackling climate change. Carbon Engineering says that if governments want to invest in its process they are very welcome to do so. If they're not ready to stump up the cash, the company is happy to take funding from the energy industry as time is so short, and the need for the technology is so great.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's fight-identity-thieves department
A new online tool "analyzes publicly disclosed data breaches and gives concrete advice to victims," reported CNET last week. Now the site's creator, data breach expert jimvandyke, is asking Slashdot's readers for feedback:
At BreachClarity.com, just enter the name of any data breach you were in (such as 'Anthem', 'Equifax', 'Yahoo', etc.), and click the bright green 'search' button. Every publicly-reported breach since January 2017 (and noteworthy older ones) are in the database, and eventually every publicly-reported breach will be in the database, thanks to my non-profit partner the IDTheftCenter.org (ITRC). Breach Clarity is now available for free in basic form to consumers, as a very simple UI sitting in front of a comprehensive algorithm of my own design.
The goal of Breach Clarity is to help people by demystifying how any new data breach creates identity-holder risk of identity theft, identity fraud, and other harms. My goal in creating Breach Clarity is to move past the myths and victim-blaming (for instance, my research finds that very few people are actually 'apathetic' or 'lazy' when it comes to security, and it's simply not true that 'everyone's data is all already out there' for any cyber-criminal who wants to commit fraud in another person's name).
Breach Clarity uses dynamic research, technology, and design-thinking to protect people in the face of an onslaught of ongoing data breaches (The ITRC recorded 1,244 publicly reported US ones last year, leading to over $10B in annual identity crimes as reported by my former company Javelin Strategy & Research!)... If you like what you see, please use it and spread the word.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's self-driving-drones department
In what may be his final year of technology predictions, columnist Robert X. Cringely argues aerial delivery drones "are definitely coming just as fast as regulators will allow them, but I don't think they'll be implemented in the way people expect."
As soon as autonomous systems can be shown to be as safe or safer than human pilots, they'll take over most drone piloting duties... Here's the problem with Pizza-to-the-Home: where does the drone land at your house that won't risk hitting a child, pet or vehicle and also won't risk losing the delivery to theft or damage? We can't economically mandate a drone landing tower for every house that's above obstacles and with a guaranteed clear approach.... But we CAN mandate such a landing platform on top of every pizza delivery vehicle.
Using GPS, the drone and car can find each other with the drone landing only when the car is stopped and the approach is clear... [F]or that driver each delivery will take five minutes or less. Pizza is delivered faster and hotter and the driver, instead of making 2-3 deliveries per hour, can make 10-12. This is what we'll shortly see proposed for drone delivery, not just for pizza but for everything else...
Now here's where Internet-style disintermediation comes into play. Such a drone delivery network still costs money to build but that money will be instantly available if the class of goods that can be delivered expands beyond food to anything weighing under, say, 10 pounds. This means prescription drugs and even Amazon Prime or walmart.com packages can arrive on the same car, delivered to that car by multiple drones and drone networks. All it requires is WAAS GPS and a standardized car rooftop landing platform, which I am sure we will shortly see.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hands-on-the-wheel department
Long-time Slashdot reader Rei writes: Friday, the results of a study by the MIT Center for Transport and Logistics on autonomous system driver attentiveness were released, and the results were conclusive: "drivers do not appear to over-trust the system to a degree that results in significant functional vigilance degradation in their supervisory role of system operation".
The study, involving 323,384 miles driven (34,8% on autopilot) and 8682 "tricky situations" identified. Of the "tricky situations", 0% of incidents involved slow driver responses or missed detections; 4,5% rapid/timely responses; 90,6% anticipatory reaction (preventing the situation from occurring); and 4,9% "other". The study suggests that this is the result of two effects: 1) drivers effectively learn the limits of the system through usage; and 2) "tricky situations" are common enough so as to prevent excess trust by the driver in the system — creating the counterintuitive result that the better the systems become, the worse the driver may become.
While the study is limited by the age of the vehicles (under a quarter were even running HW2, vs HW3 which is being released now — and due to the length of the study, most of the miles were accumulated on older software versions), it offers positive conclusions — but also a precaution — about the integration of humans and driver assist systems. In other news, Tesla has announced an April 22 Autonomy Investor Day to showcase the capability of its development versions of the software in city driving, and has started rolling out stoplight detection, no-confirmation automated lane changes and exits, and a limited rollout of advanced summon (navigates through parking lots without a driver).Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's tricky-trends department
An anonymous reader quotes Forbes:
Tesla's stock dropped 8% Thursday on the news that Q1 deliveries fell 31% from the previous quarter. However, being a seasonal business, car companies usually compare their results against the same quarter from the previous year. On that basis, virtually all of the major car companies have said Q1 sales will be flat to 7% lower than last year. In contrast, Tesla's deliveries are up 110% from last year. From the one year perspective, Tesla is the only car company that is growing...
Yesterday's headlines which focused on the 31% decline are factually correct but misleading. Moreover, Tesla said that delays in deliveries to Europe and China caused "a large number of vehicle deliveries to shift to the second quarter. At the end of the first quarter, approximately 10,600 vehicles were in transit to customers globally..." Had Tesla managed the increased deliveries in Europe and China a little better, they might have come close to Wall Street's expectations.
On Friday, Tesla's stock bounced up 2.68%.Read Replies (0)