By msmash from Slashdot's taking-a-bold-step department
The European Union has a target of making all new buildings zero-energy by 2020, but in Norway, carbon neutrality isn't enough. From a report: A consortium in Oslo made up of architects, engineers, environmentalists, and designers is creating energy-positive buildings in a country with some of the coldest and darkest winters on Earth. "If you can make it in Norway, you can make it anywhere," says Peter Bernhard, a consultant with Asplan Viak, one of the Powerhouse alliance members.
Bernhard says Powerhouse began in 2010 with a question: Is it possible to not only eliminate the carbon footprint of buildings, but to also use them as a climate-crisis solution? It was a lofty goal. According to the European Commission, buildings account for 40 percent of energy usage and 36 percent of carbon-dioxide emissions in the EU. But after undertaking several energy-positive projects -- building a new Montessori school, retrofitting four small office buildings, building a few homes, and breaking ground on two new office buildings -- Powerhouse has found the answer to the 2010 question to be an emphatic "Yes." In 2019, the collective's biggest project to date will open to the public: Powerhouse Brattorkaia, in the central Norwegian city of Trondheim.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tough-luck department
Amazon is rethinking its strategy around some items it sells which it calls internally "Can't realize a profit" -- or "CRaP" for short, according to the Wall Street Journal. From the report: Inside Amazon, the items are known as CRaP, short for "Can't Realize a Profit." Think bottled beverages or snack foods [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. The products tend to be priced at $15 or less, are sold directly by Amazon, and are heavy or bulky and therefore costly to ship -- characteristics that make for thin or nonexistent margins. Now, as Amazon focuses more on its bottom line in addition to its rapid growth, it is increasingly taking aim at CRaP products, according to major brand executives and people familiar with the company's thinking.
In recent months, it has been eliminating unprofitable items and pressing manufacturers to change their packaging to better sell online, according to brands that sell on Amazon and consultants who work with them. One example: bottled water from Coca-Cola Co. Amazon used to have a $6.99 six-pack of Smartwater as the default order on some of its Dash buttons, a small device that allows for automatic reordering with a single press. But in August, after working with Coca-Cola to change how it ships and sells the water, Amazon notified Dash customers it was changing that default item to a 24-pack for $37.20.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Google will invest $1 billion in a new campus in New York City, the company said Monday. From a report: The new 1.7 million square foot "Google Hudson Square" campus will include two buildings located at 315 and 345 Hudson Street and an office space situated at nearby 550, Washington Street in Manhattan, Google said in a blog post on Monday. The move will expand Google's presence near the Hudson River in New York City. Earlier this year, the search giant announced it had purchased shopping and office complex Chelsea Market for $2.4 billion. Google said the Hudson Square campus will be the main location for its New York-based global business organization. It said the investments in Chelsea and Hudson Square will create capacity to more than double headcount in New York over the next decade. Google currently houses more than 7,000 employees in New York City in a range of teams including Search, Ads, Maps, YouTube and Cloud. "Our investment in New York is a huge part of our commitment to grow and invest in U.S. facilities, offices and jobs," Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said in the blog post. Unlike Amazon, Google did not pursue tax breaks or other incentives from New York.Read Replies (0)
The Decline of American Peyote
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '18 at 02:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's going-going-gone department
dmoberhaus writes: An investigation into the decline of America's peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus that is critically important to the rituals of the Native American Church, the largest pan-tribal religious organization in the U.S. Motherboard spoke with Dawn Davis, a researcher using satellite data to track the destruction of peyote's habitat, as well as Salvador Johnson, one of only four people who is licensed to harvest and sell peyote in the U.S. by the DEA. "In 2011, Davis traveled to the peyote gardens for the first time and met with Johnson," reports Motherboard. "Davis said that Johnson was following many conservation best practices, such as cycling through the areas where peyote is harvested, but this hadn't slowed the steady decrease in the size and quantity of peyote buttons in his harvests. Today, the biggest threats to peyote continue to be rapid land development, poaching, and rooting by feral pigs -- problems that responsible harvesting by peyoteros can't solve." While there has been an increase in the number of indigenous people growing peyote in greenhouses, this is only a temporary solution to the conservation crisis. Davis is advocating for conservation easements or tax breaks for landowners to encourage the protection of peyote. She also said it will be necessary to push for the DEA to reschedule peyote, which is still considered a Schedule I substance that has "no currently accepted medical use." This makes it exceedingly hard for individuals to become licensed peyoteros.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's perfect-timing department
On Sunday night, a comet that orbits between Jupiter and the sun will make its closest approach to Earth in centuries. According to Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the astronomy department at the University of Maryland, the comet will appear as a bright, fuzzy ball with a greenish-gray tint. "You've got a one-kilometer solid nuclear in the middle, and gas is going out hundreds of thousands of miles," says Tony. The comet glows green because the gases emit light in green wavelengths. The New York Times reports: The ball of gas and dust, sometimes referred to as the "Christmas comet," was named 46P/Wirtanen, after the astronomer Carl Wirtanen, who discovered it in 1948. It orbits the sun once every 5.4 years, passing by Earth approximately every 11 years, but its distance varies and it is rarely this close. As the comet passes by, it will be 30 times farther from Earth than the moon, NASA said. The proximity of 46P/Wirtanen provides an opportunity to research the tail of the comet and see farther into the nucleus.
The comet is visible now but it will shine even brighter on Sunday as it reaches its closest approach, 7.1 million miles from Earth. That may sound really far, but it is among the 10 closest approaches by a comet in 70 years, NASA said. Only a few of those could be seen with the naked eye. Don't worry if you miss the comet on Sunday. It should be just as visible for a week or two because its appearance will change gradually. After it moves on, it won't be this close to Earth again for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Online charts can help pinpoint its location.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pot-calling-the-kettle-black department
Last week, Samsung introduced its latest smartphone, the Galaxy A8s. Not only is it the first phone of theirs with a laser-drilled hole in the display for the front-facing camera sensor, but it is also their first phone to ditch the headphone jack. Slashdot reader TheFakeTimCook shares a report from Mac Rumors that takes a closer look at the move and the hypocrisy behind it: [The A8s] is also Samsung's first smartphone without a headphone jack, much to the amusement of iPhone users, as Samsung has mocked Apple for over two years over its decision to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 in 2016, a trend that has continued through to the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. While on stage unveiling the new Galaxy Note 7 in 2016, for example, Samsung executive Justin Denison made sure to point out that the device came with a headphone jack. "Want to know what else it comes with?" he asked. "An audio jack. I'm just saying," he answered, smirking as the audience laughed. And earlier this year, Samsung mocked the iPhone X's lack of a headphone jack in one of its "Ingenius" ads promoting the Galaxy S9. Samsung isn't the first tech giant to mock Apple's decision to remove the headphone jack, only to follow suit. Google poked fun at the iPhone 7's lack of headphone jack while unveiling its original Pixel smartphone in 2016, and then the Pixel 2 launched without one just a year later.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ahead-of-his-time department
Thelasko quotes a report from Ars Technica: A half century ago, computer history took a giant leap when Douglas Engelbart -- then a mid-career 43-year-old engineer at Stanford Research Institute in the heart of Silicon Valley -- gave what has come to be known as the "mother of all demos." On December 9, 1968 at a computer conference in San Francisco, Engelbart showed off the first inklings of numerous technologies that we all now take for granted: video conferencing, a modern desktop-style user interface, word processing, hypertext, the mouse, collaborative editing, among many others. Even before his famous demonstration, Engelbart outlined his vision of the future more than a half-century ago in his historic 1962 paper, "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework."
To open the 90-minute-long presentation, Engelbart posited a question that almost seems trivial to us in the early 21st century: "If in your office, you as an intellectual worker were supplied with a computer display, backed up by a computer that was alive for you all day, and was instantly responsible -- responsive -- to every action you had, how much value would you derive from that?" By 1968, Engelbart had created what he called the "oN-Line System," or NLS, a proto-Intranet. The ARPANET, the predecessor to the Internet itself, would not be established until late the following year.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's magic-of-YouTube department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: You might guess that a surefire way to make a hit video on YouTube would be to gather a bunch of YouTube megastars, film them riffing on some of the year's most popular YouTube themes and release it as a year-in-review spectacular. You would be wrong. YouTube tested that theory this week, releasing its annual "YouTube Rewind" year-end retrospective. The eight-minute video was a jam-packed montage of YouTube meta-humor, featuring a who's-who of YouTube stars along with conventional celebrities. The video was slickly produced and wholesome, with lots of references to the popular video game Fortnite, shout-outs to popular video formats, and earnest paeans to YouTube's diversity and inclusiveness. It was meant to be a feel-good celebration of a year's worth of YouTube creativity, but the video started a firestorm, and led to a mass-downvoting campaign that became a meme of its own. Within 48 hours, the video had been "disliked" more than four million times. On Thursday, it became the most-disliked video in the history of the website, gathering more than 10 million dislikes and beating out the previous record-holder, the music video for Justin Bieber's "Baby."
< article continued at Slashdot's magic-of-YouTube department
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's re-structured department
Facebook has disbanded its secretive research lab, where the company developed new hardware like its Portal speakers and researched moonshot projects like brain computer interfaces. "Building 8, the division Facebook created in 2016 to house some of its most ambitious projects, has been disbanded and the projects have been redistributed to other groups within the social media company," reports Mashable. From the report: The change, which was first reported by Business Insider, marks the end of the "Building 8" brand, though the group's work will continue on. Now, thanks to BI, we know that behind the scenes Facebook has separated the Portal team into its own group, which oversees Facebook's other "unannounced hardware projects." Meanwhile, Building 8's researchers have been shuffled to Facebook Reality Labs (FRL), another new group at Facebook lead by Facebook's top VR researcher, Michael Abrash. The FRL group was created in May, around the same time Facebook announced a bigger reorganization among its top executives.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to BI that the Building 8 brand was no more, but said it continues to work on the same projects and hasn't laid off any employees as a result of the re-structuring: "Building 8 was the early name of the team building consumer hardware at Facebook. Building 8 is part of Facebook's AR/VR organization. Now that we're shipping, it's the Portal team. And Rafa Camargo is still leading the team; that has not changed. We also unified research looking at longer terms projects under one team, which became Facebook Reality Labs, which is also part of our AR/VR organization. This includes research projects like the Brain Computer Interface."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's coming-back-with-a-vengeance department
An anonymous reader writes: A new variant of the Shamoon malware was discovered on the network of an Italian and UAE oil and gas company. While the damage at the UAE firm is currently unknown, the malware has been confirmed to have destroyed files on about ten percent of the Italian company's PC fleet. Shamoon is one of the most dangerous strains of malware known to date. It was first deployed in two separate incidents that targeted the infrastructure of Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's largest oil producer, in 2012 and 2016. During those incidents, the malware wiped files and replaced them with propaganda images (burning U.S. flag and body of Alan Kurdi). The 2012 attack was devastating in particular, with Shamoon wiping data on over 30,000 computers, crippling the company's activity for weeks. Historically, the malware has been tied to the Iranian regime, but it's unclear if Iranian hackers were behind these latest attacks. This new Shamoon version was revealed to the world when an Italian engineer uploaded the malware on VirusTotal, triggering detections at all major cyber-security firms across the globe.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-together department
"Nearly 200 countries overcame political divisions late on Saturday to agree on rules for implementing a landmark global climate deal," reports Reuters. "After two weeks of talks in the Polish city of Katowice, nations finally reached consensus on a more detailed framework for the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to limit a rise in average world temperatures to 'well below' 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels." From the report: Before the talks started, many expected the deal would not be as robust as needed. The unity which underpinned the Paris talks has fragmented, and U.S. President Donald Trump intends to pull his country - one of the world's biggest emitters - out of the pact. At the 11th hour, ministers managed to break a deadlock between Brazil and other countries over the accounting rules for the monitoring of carbon credits, deferring the bulk of that discussion to next year, but missing an opportunity to send a signal to businesses to speed up their actions. Still, exhausted ministers managed to bridge a series of divides to produce a 156-page rulebook - which is broken down into themes such as how countries will report and monitor their national pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions and update their emissions plans. Not everyone is happy with everything, but the process is still on track and it is something to build on, several ministers said. Some countries and green groups criticized the outcome for failing to urge increased ambitions on emissions cuts sufficiently to curb rising temperatures. Poorer nations vulnerable to climate change also wanted more clarity on how an already agreed $100 billion a year of climate finance by 2020 will be provided and on efforts to build on that amount further from the end of the decade.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's liar-liar-pants-on-fire department
A lawsuit filed Friday is accusing Apple of falsely advertised the screen sizes and pixel counts of the displays in its iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max devices. The two plaintiffs, who filed the suit in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, are seeking class action status. CNET reports: The suit alleges that Apple lied about the screen sizes by counting non-screen areas like the notch and corners. So the new line of iPhones aren't "all screen" as marketed, according to the 55-page complaint. For example, iPhone X's screen size is supposed to be 5.8 inches, but the plaintiffs measured that it's "only about 5.6875 inches." The plaintiffs also allege that the iPhone X series phones have lower screen resolution than advertised. iPhone X is supposed to have a resolution of 2436x1125 pixels, but the product doesn't contain true pixels with red, green and blue subpixels in each pixel, according to the complaint. iPhone X allegedly only has two subpixels per pixel, which is less than advertised, the complaint said. The lawsuit also alleges iPhone 8 Plus has a higher-quality screen than iPhone X.Read Replies (0)