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Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '14 at 08:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's listen-up department:
samzenpus writes We recently had a chance to sit down with Former Director of JPL, Edward Stone, and ask him about his time as a project scientist for the Voyager program and the future of space exploration. In addition to our questions, we asked him a number of yours. Read below to see what professor Stone had to say.

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Netflix Is Looking To Pay Someone To Watch Netflix All Day
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '14 at 07:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's how-do-you-hire-that-which-has-no-life department:
An anonymous reader writes with news about a dream job for binge-watching couch potatoes in the UK. Ploughing through your new favourite series on Netflix is something you probably enjoy doing after a working day, but what if it was your working day? You see, Netflix has a fancy recommendation engine that suggests movies and shows you might like based on your prior viewing habits. To do that successfully, it needs information from a special group of humans that goes beyond the basics like genre and user rating. "Taggers," as they're known, analyse Netflix content and feed the recommendation engine with more specific descriptors if, for example, a film is set in space or a cult classic. In short, these people get paid to watch TV all day, and Netflix is currently hiring a new tagger in the UK.

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Android Wear Is Here
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '14 at 06:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's come-in-dick-tracy department:
An anonymous reader writes with this breakdown and comparison of the first two Android Wear watches available today. The first two watches built on the Android Wear platform launch today. One is from LG, the G Watch, and the other is from its arch Korean peninsular rival, Samsung, the Gear Live. Should you buy one today? Maybe. It depends on how early you like to adopt. Let's take a quick trip through analysis lane. First, let's talk about Android Wear, because both watches run on the same platform, and both of them have more or less the same software. Android Wear really does two main things, it moves app notifications to the watch's face, and it puts Google Now's voice-powered search capabilities on your wrist. That's about it. But that's pretty powerful.

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The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '14 at 06:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's running-on-time department:
Taco Cowboy writes The subway system in Hong Kong has one of the best uptime, 99.9%, which beats London's tube or NYC's sub hands down. In an average week as many as 10,000 people would be carrying out 2,600 engineering works across the system — from grinding down rough rails to replacing tracks to checking for damages. While human workers might be the one carrying out the work, the one deciding which task is to be worked on, however, isn't a human being at all. Each and every engineering task to be worked on and the scheduling of all those tasks is being handled by an algorithm. Andy Chan of Hong Kong's City University, who designed the AI system, says, "Before AI, they would have a planning session with experts from five or six different areas. It was pretty chaotic. Now they just reveal the plan on a huge screen." Chan's AI program works with a simulated model of the entire system to find the best schedule for necessary engineering works. From its omniscient view it can see chances to combine work and share resources that no human could. However, in order to provide an added layer of security, the schedule generated by the AI is still subject to human approval — Urgent, unexpected repairs can be added manually, and the system would reschedules less important tasks. It also checks the maintenance it plans for compliance with local regulations. Chan's team encoded into machine readable language 200 rules that the engineers must follow when working at night, such as keeping noise below a certain level in residential areas. The main difference between normal software and Hong Kong's AI is that it contains human knowledge that takes years to acquire through experience, says Chan. "We asked the experts what they consider when making a decision, then formulated that into rules – we basically extracted expertise from different areas about engineering works," he says.

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New Zealand ISP's Anti-Geoblocking Service Makes Waves
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '14 at 05:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's open-it-up department:
angry tapir writes New Zealanders and Australians are often blocked from using cheap streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu and instead at the mercy of local content monopolies for popular shows such as Game of Thrones. However a New Zealand ISP Slingshot has caused a stir by making a previously opt-in service called 'Global Mode' a default for its customers. The new service means that people in NZ don't need to bother with VPNs or setting up proxies if they want to sign up to Netflix — they can just visit the site. The service has also caused a stir in Australia where the high price for digital goods, such as movies from the iTunes store, is a constant source of irritation for consumers.

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TSA Prohibits Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '14 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's keeping-something-safe department:
Trachman writes The US Transport Security Administration revealed on Sunday that enhanced security procedures on flights coming to the US now include not allowing uncharged cell phones and other devices onto planes. “During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted on board the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening,” TSA said in a statement.

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How the NEPTUNE Project Wired the Ocean
Posted by News Fetcher on July 07 '14 at 01:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's In-his-house-at-R'lyeh-dead-Cthulhu-waits-for-his-email department:
An anonymous reader writes with a story about a unique 500-mile-long high-speed optical cable project that runs along the Pacific seafloor. "The Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is by far one of the Earth's smallest. It spans just a few hundred kilometers of the Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia coast. But what the Juan de Fuca lacks in size it makes up for in connectivity. It's home to a unique, high-speed optical cabling that has snaked its way across the depths of the Pacific seafloor plate since late 2009. This link is called NEPTUNE—the North-East Pacific Time-Series Underwater Networked Experiment—and, at more than 800 kilometers (about 500 miles), it's about the same length as 40,000 subway cars connected in a single, long train. A team of scientists, researchers, and engineers from the not-for-profit group Oceans Network Canada maintains the network, which cost CAD $111 million to install and $17 million each year to maintain. But know that this isn't your typical undersea cable. For one, NEPTUNE doesn't traverse the ocean's expanse, but instead loops back to its starting point at shore. And though NEPTUNE is designed to facilitate the flow of information through the ocean, it also collects information about the ocean, ocean life, and the ocean floor."

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Free Wi-Fi Supplier, Gowex, Files For Bankruptcy
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '14 at 10:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's creative-accounting department:
PuceBaboon writes "The BBC is reporting that a Spanish firm, Gowex, which provides free Wi-Fi services in major cities world-wide, has filed for bankruptcy, following revelations that financial accounts filed over the past four years were "false". The company supplies services in London, Shanghai, New York and Buenos Aires, as well as Madrid. Other sources report that up to 90% of the company's reported revenue came from "undisclosed related parties" (in other words, from Gowex itself) and that the value of the company's share price was now effectively zero.

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Police Using Dogs To Sniff Out Computer Memory
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '14 at 07:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's smells-like-a-terabyte department:
First time accepted submitter FriendlySolipsist points out a story about Rhode Island Police using a dog to find hidden hard drives. The recent arrival of golden Labrador Thoreau makes Rhode Island the second state in the nation to have a police dog trained to sniff out hard drives, thumb drives and other technological gadgets that could contain child pornography. Thoreau received 22 weeks of training in how to detect devices in exchange for food at the Connecticut State Police Training Academy. Given to the state police by the Connecticut State Police, the dog assisted in its first search warrant in June pinpointing a thumb drive containing child pornography hidden four layers deep in a tin box inside a metal cabinet. That discovery led the police to secure an arrest warrant, Yelle says. “If it has a memory card, he’ll sniff it out,” Detective Adam Houston, Thoreau’s handler, says.

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FDA: We Can't Scale To Regulate Mobile Health Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '14 at 05:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's hard-work-is-hard department:
chicksdaddy writes Mobile health and wellness is one of the fastest growing categories of mobile apps. Already, apps exist that measure your blood pressure and take your pulse, jobs traditionally done by tried and true instruments like blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes. If that sounds to you like the kind of thing the FDA should be vetting, don't hold your breath. A senior advisor to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that the current process for approving medical devices couldn't possibly meet the challenge of policing mobile health and wellness apps and that, in most cases, the agency won't even try. Bakul Patel, and advisor to the FDA, said the Agency couldn't scale to police hundreds of new health and wellness apps released each month to online marketplaces like the iTunes AppStore and Google Play.

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No Shortage In Tech Workers, Advocacy Groups Say
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '14 at 04:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I'll-do-it department:
sabri writes To have a labor shortage or not to have, that's the question. According to the San Jose Mercury News: Last month, three tech advocacy groups launched a labor boycott against Infosys, IBM and the global staffing and consulting company ManpowerGroup, citing a "pattern of excluding U.S. workers from job openings on U.S soil." They say Manpower, for example, last year posted U.S. job openings in India but not in the United States." "It's getting pretty frustrating when you can't compete on salary for a skilled job," said Rich Hajinlian, a veteran computer programmer from the Boston area. "You hear references all the time that these big companies ... can't find skilled workers. I am a skilled worker."

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Oculus Suspends Oculus Rift Dev Kit Sales In China
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '14 at 02:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's one-bad-apple department:
An anonymous reader writes with news about how Oculus is dealing with the reselling of dev kits in China. Bad news for those of you looking to get your hands on a preorder of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. A representative from Oculus recently confirmed that the company has had to stop selling its headsets in China as a result of an undisclosed amount of reselling. Which is to say, some of those preordering the developer edition of the virtual reality headset in China — not the consumer product, which hasn't been officially released in any capacity just yet — aren't actually looking to develop anything on the headsets. Nor are they even interested in getting a first look at the virtual reality capabilities of the $350 development kit. They're scalping, plain and simple, to take advantage of what appears to be a hefty amount of demand for the device.

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Cassini's Space Odyssey To Saturn
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '14 at 01:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's mission-of-the-rings department:
An anonymous reader writes in with this look at the amazingly successful Cassini mission and the discoveries it has made. Scientists says Cassini is helping them understand how our solar system developed. Of the astronomically profound discoveries it's made over a decade of circling, the startling hint this April of a new moon being formed in the rings of Saturn is merely the latest. Indeed, the spacecraft Cassini — which inserted itself into orbit around the giant gas planet in July, 2004 — has transmitted imagery and sensory data back to Earth that has given us a new understanding of our bejewelled neighbour three doors down. "It's one of the most successful (space) missions probably ever," says University of Toronto astrophysicist Hanno Rein, whose own work has been significantly informed by the tiny craft's output.

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Consciousness On-Off Switch Discovered Deep In Brain
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '14 at 12:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's green-light-red-light department:
An anonymous reader writes "One moment you're conscious, the next you're not. For the first time, researchers have switched off consciousness by electrically stimulating a single brain area. Although only tested in one person, the discovery suggests that a single area – the claustrum – might be integral to combining disparate brain activity into a seamless package of thoughts, sensations and emotions. It takes us a step closer to answering a problem that has confounded scientists and philosophers for millennia – namely how our conscious awareness arises. When the team zapped the area with high frequency electrical impulses, the woman lost consciousness. She stopped reading and stared blankly into space, she didn't respond to auditory or visual commands and her breathing slowed. As soon as the stimulation stopped, she immediately regained consciousness with no memory of the event. The same thing happened every time the area was stimulated during two days of experiments.

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A Tour of One of the World's Only Underwater Labs With Fabien Cousteau
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '14 at 11:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's under-the-sea department:
An anonymous reader writes Having completed his 31-day stretch underwater, Fabien Cousteau, grandson of famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, shows off his underwater laboratory to PBS in this video. When asked about his observations' Fabien said' "It's just amazing, we've seen so much new behavior that I've never seen before. Fish sleeping in sponges, a goliath grouper attacking a barracuda, never seen that before, I don't think anyone has ever caught it on film before. Christmas tree worms, spawning and giving off this milky smoke like stuff off. I mean it's just science fiction, it's really amazing down here. And that's why we're down here, my grandfather used to say, in order to film a fish you must become a fish. So we're trying to get as close as we can to becoming fish."

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15-Year-Old Developing a 3D Printer 10x Faster Than Anything On the Market
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '14 at 10:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's greased-lightning department:
New submitter jigmypig writes: One of the main issues with 3D printers today is that they lack in one area; speed. A 15-year-old boy named Thomas Suarez is developing a 3D printer that he says is the most reliable, most advanced, and faster than any 3D printer on the market today. In fact he claims it is 10 times faster than any 3D printer ever created. "There's something that makes me want to keep going and keep innovating," he says, laughing at being asked if he'd be better off outside climbing trees or riding a bike. "I feel that my interests will always lie in technology. Maybe I should go outside more but I just really like this stuff."

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Study: Whales Are Ecosystem "Engineers"
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '14 at 09:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's starting-from-the-top department:
An anonymous reader writes Researchers had previously thought that, being excessively uncommon and migrant, whales didn't have much of an effect on the more extensive marine environment. However, a new study distributed in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment gives whales a role as "engineers" of the oceans. In the study, scientists from the University of Vermont suggest that the 13 types of extraordinary whale have an essential and positive impact on the capacity of seas, on carbon storage, and on the state of fisheries around the globe. "The decline in great whale numbers, estimated to be at least 66% and perhaps as high as 90%, has likely altered the structure and function of the oceans, but recovery is possible and in many cases is already underway," researchers wrote in an article announcing their investigation.

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Newly Spotted Frozen World Orbits In a Binary Star System
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '14 at 08:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's a-little-chilly department:
An anonymous reader writes A newly discovered planet in a binary, or twin, star system located 3,000 light-years from Earth is expanding astronomers' notions of where Earth-like planets can form. At twice the mass of Earth, the planet orbits one of the stars in the binary system at almost exactly the same distance at which Earth orbits the sun. However, because the planet's host star is much dimmer than the sun, the planet is much colder than Earth. "This greatly expands the potential locations to discover habitable planets in the future," said Scott Gaudi, professor of astronomy at Ohio State. "Half the stars in the galaxy are in binary systems. We had no idea if Earth-like planets in Earth-like orbits could even form in these systems."

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New Snowden Leak: of 160000 Intercepted Messages, Only 10% From Official Targets
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '14 at 07:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's that-old-familiar-story department:
An anonymous reader writes in with the latest news about NSA spying from documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post. Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else. Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or "minimized," more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans' privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S. residents."

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When Beliefs and Facts Collide
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '14 at 05:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's what-do-you-think department:
schnell writes A New York Times article discusses a recent Yale study that shows that contrary to popular belief, increased scientific literacy does not correspond to increased belief in accepted scientific findings when it contradicts their religious or political views. The article notes that this is true across the political/religious spectrum and "factual and scientific evidence is often ineffective at reducing misperceptions and can even backfire on issues like weapons of mass destruction, health care reform and vaccines." So what is to be done? The article suggests that "we need to try to break the association between identity and factual beliefs on high-profile issues – for instance, by making clear that you can believe in human-induced climate change and still be a conservative Republican."

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