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Who or what piqued your interest in technology?

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[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:47 | Votes:321

posted by n1 on Friday March 06, @07:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-just-business dept.

A consortium of environmental scientists has expressed strong concern about the impact of a controversial Central American canal across Nicaragua.

The path of the Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans will cut through Lake Cocibolca (aka Lake Nicaragua), Central America's main freshwater reservoir and the largest tropical freshwater lake of the Americas; this plan will force the relocation of indigenous populations and impact a fragile ecosystem, including species at risk of extinction, according to Rice University environmental engineer Pedro Alvarez and other members of the consortium.

Alvarez is co-corresponding author of an article that includes 21 co-authors from 18 institutions in the United States and Central and South America who gathered at a multidisciplinary international workshop in Managua, Nicaragua, last November to discuss the project. The paper, titled "Scientists Raise Alarms About Fast Tracking of Transoceanic Canal Through Nicaragua," was published this week by the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology.

posted by paulej72 on Friday March 06, @06:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the Xen-and-the-Art-of-Web-Site-Maintenance dept.

Our VM hosting provider, Linode, needs to update the Xen VM software on the hosts that serve up all of our VMs. Linode is reserving 2 hours of downtime but expects to take less time. Unfortunately we cannot change when this is being done, but at least it is during low demand times. Here is a list of when servers will be going down for maintenance:

  • 2015-03-07 3:00:00 PM UTC - nitrogen: staff slash and tor exit node server
  • 2015-03-07 3:00:00 PM UTC - fluorine: production frontend
  • 2015-03-07 4:00:00 PM UTC - carbon: irc server
  • 2015-03-07 6:00:00 PM UTC - boron: staff services
  • 2015-03-07 6:00:00 PM UTC - lithium: dev server
  • 2015-03-07 7:00:00 PM UTC - neon: production db
  • 2015-03-07 7:00:00 PM UTC - helium: backup prod db
  • 2015-03-08 7:00:00 PM UTC - hydrogen: backup frontend
  • 2015-03-08 9:00:00 PM UTC - beryllium: mail and wiki server

We will be taking time to also upgrade the kernel prior to the downtime so the newest one will be loaded upon restart.

More info is available here:

[For the USAians: downtime starts Saturday 03/07 @ 10 AM EST; 7 AM PST]

posted by n1 on Friday March 06, @05:19AM   Printer-friendly
from the lawyers-already-won dept.

El Reg reports:

Linux kernel developer Christoph Hellwig has sued VMware in Hamburg, Germany, over alleged violations of the GNU General Public License.

Hellwig's suit, which is backed by New York advocacy group the Software Freedom Conservancy, alleges that VMware's proprietary ESXi hypervisor products use portions of the code that Hellwig wrote for the Linux kernel, in violation of the terms of version 2 of the GPL.

"In addition to other ways VMware has not complied with the requirements of the GPL," the Conservancy wrote in a blog post on Wednesday, "Conservancy and Hellwig specifically assert that VMware has combined copyrighted Linux code, licensed under GPLv2, with their own proprietary code called 'vmkernel' and distributed the entire combined work without providing nor offering complete, corresponding source code for that combined work under terms of the GPLv2."

This isn't the first time Hellwig has made such claims. He first accused VMware of violating the GPL in 2006 via the Linux Kernel Mailing List, even threatening to sue. It now seems that the proverbial other shoe has finally dropped.

posted by n1 on Friday March 06, @03:08AM   Printer-friendly
from the sharks-with-lasers dept.

Lockheed Martin’s [NYSE: LMT] 30-kilowatt fiber laser weapon system successfully disabled the engine of a small truck during a recent field test, demonstrating the rapidly evolving precision capability to protect military forces and critical infrastructure.

Known as ATHENA, for Advanced Test High Energy Asset, the ground-based prototype system burned through the engine manifold in a matter of seconds from more than a mile away. The truck was mounted on a test platform with its engine and drive train running to simulate an operationally-relevant test scenario.

The demonstration marked the first field testing of an integrated 30-kilowatt, single-mode fiber laser weapon system prototype. Through a technique called spectral beam combining, multiple fiber laser modules form a single, powerful, high-quality beam that provides greater efficiency and lethality than multiple individual 10-kilowatt lasers used in other systems.

posted by n1 on Friday March 06, @01:18AM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-annoying dept.

While researching ways to discourage “Wildpinkler” – “free pee-ers” – annoyed members of IG St Pauli came across a hydrophobic paint which literally makes water droplets bounce off.

That means that anyone hoping to relieve themselves in unorthodox locations around the neighbourhood must reckon with the risk of a soaking for their shoes and trousers.

The video is in German, but that doesn't stop it from being hilarious.

posted by n1 on Thursday March 05, @11:15PM   Printer-friendly
from the virtual-sickness dept.

Nick Wingfield reports at The New York Times that for the last couple of years, the companies building virtual reality headsets have begged the public for patience as they strive to create virtual environments that don't make people physically sick. “We’re going to hang ourselves out there and be judged,” says John Carmack, chief technology officer of Oculus, describing what he calls a “nightmare scenario” that has worried him and other Oculus executives. “People like the demo, they take it home, and they start throwing up,” says Carmack. "The fear is if a really bad V.R. product comes out, it could send the industry back to the ’90s." In that era, virtual reality headsets flopped, disappointing investors and consumers. “It left a huge, smoking crater in the landscape,” says Carmack, who is considered an important game designer for his work on Doom and Quake. “We’ve had people afraid to touch V.R. for 20 years.”

This time around, the backing for virtual reality is of a different magnitude. Facebook paid $2 billion last year to acquire Oculus. Microsoft is developing its own headset, HoloLens, that mixes elements of virtual reality with augmented reality, a different medium that overlays virtual images on a view of the real world. Google has invested more than $500 million in Magic Leap, a company developing an augmented reality headset. “The challenge is there is so much expectation and anticipation that that could fall away quite quickly if you don’t get the type of traction you had hoped,” says Neil Young

At least one company, Valve, believes it has solved the discomfort problem with headsets. Gabe Newell says Valve has worked hard on its virtual reality technology to eliminate the discomfort, saying that “zero percent of people get motion sick” when they try its system. According to Newell, the reason why no one has gotten sick yet is thanks to Valve’s Lighthouse motion-tracking system, a precise motion-tracking system that is capable of accurately tracking users as they move around a space. In the meantime the next challenge will be convincing media and tech companies to create lots of content to keep users entertained. “Virtual reality has been around for 20 years, and the one thing that has been consistent throughout this is that the technology is not mature enough,” says Brian Blau. “Today there’s the possibility for that to change, but it’s going to take a while for these app developers to get it right.”

posted by n1 on Thursday March 05, @08:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the i've-made-a-lot-of-special-modifications-myself dept.

Breaking News: Harrison Ford hospitalized after plane crash, Harrison family member reports that Harrison Ford will live, having suffered some cuts and bruises.

Actor Harrison Ford was hospitalized Thursday afternoon after a single-engine plane he was piloting crashed onto a Venice golf course shortly after takeoff.

[...] Aerial footage of the minutes after the crash showed the small single-engine vintage World War II trainer plane crashed on the ground at Penmar Golf Club, and one person being treated by paramedics and being transported to a hospital.

More information, including a picture of the plane can be found here.

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 05, @07:19PM   Printer-friendly
from the how-little-we-know dept.

The Los Angeles Times reports on research published in The Astronomical Journal.

Astronomers have discovered a giant planet with four suns just 125 light-years from Earth. The planet is at least 10 times as big as Jupiter and scientists say it probably has no actual surface to stand on. But, if you could fly a spacecraft into its atmosphere and look up, you would see one primary sun, a bright red dot, and another star shining more brightly than Venus does in our night sky. ...

In a paper published in the Astronomical Journal, the researchers describe Ari 30 as a pair of binary systems. A large planet travels around the star known as 30 Ari B, taking about 355 days to complete its orbit. The newly discovered star is locked in a gravitational dance with 30 Ari B from a distance of less than 30 astronomical units away. (One astronomical unit is the distance between the sun and the Earth).

About 1,670 astronomical units away lie another pair of stars in a system known as 30 Ari A. The two binary systems orbit a central mass that lies in between them.

Only one other planet in a quadruple star system has been discovered before, but Roberts said that more may soon be detected.

[Editor's Note: For comparison purposes consider that Neptune orbits the Sun at an average distance of 30.1 astronomical units. See, too, this table of distances from the Sun in AU:]

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 05, @05:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the where-is-the-den-of-forty-thieves? dept.

From an article at :

You head an Internet company. It has a billion users. Your social product alone has over 400 million users and is actually kind of hip. You bring in four billion dollars of revenue a year, a billion of that in mobile. You make a profit! You’re the third biggest search engine. You are Katie Couric’s boss.

And yet…your company is worth less than zero.

That financial version of an Escher-esque contortion is familiar turf to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. The Yahoo market cap is around $44 billion. That valuation includes its ownership of 15.4 percent of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. That’s worth about $38 billion. Yahoo also has a long standing investment in Yahoo Japan, a separate company it co-founded in 1996. It’s worth around $7 billion. Those numbers can fluctuate. But there are days when you add those up and you can reach the odd actuarial conclusion that Yahoo’s core business—which has been looking a lot better since Mayer got there—has negative value.

See also: Parmy Olsen’s story in Forbes, “Finding Alibaba: How Jerry Yang Made The Most Lucrative Bet In Silicon Valley History”

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 05, @04:15PM   Printer-friendly
from the naught-brought-better-bots dept.

Programmers should be lazy people, at least to the extent that it is better to write a piece of code to do an often-performed task, rather than manually doing so repeatedly. The various devs that visit SoylentNews are no different, especially in our IRC channels. To expedite various useful support functions, help keep the site running efficiently, and to provide amusement to citizens of IRC, "bots" are frequently used. We asked crutchy to conduct a review of the bots that are in use, so we would like to thank him for getting us a list to build this article.

Firstly, there is a table of the bots on our IRC bots wiki page and the code for many of them is available for your perusal, and perhaps tweaking for your own use.

Although most of the IRC action is in #soylent, anybody who is curious or wants to help the IRC 'botters' is encouraged to "/join ##" and make your mark there.

Read on for an overview at the multitude of bots already in our arsenal:

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 05, @03:05PM   Printer-friendly
from the year-of-quantum-computing-on-desktop dept.

A solution to one of the key problems holding back the development of quantum computers has been demonstrated by researchers at Google and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Many more problems remain to be solved, but experts in the field say it is an important step toward a fully functional quantum computer. Such a machine could perform calculations that would take a conventional computer millions of years to complete.

The Google and UCSB researchers showed they could program groups of qubits—devices that represent information using fragile quantum physics—to detect certain kinds of error, and to prevent those errors from ruining a calculation. The new advance comes from researchers led by John Martinis, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who last year joined Google to set up a quantum computing research lab (see “Google Launches Effort to Build Its Own Quantum Computer”)


posted by janrinok on Thursday March 05, @01:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-cores-all-the-way-down dept.

From we have this report:

For the first time, employing a sophisticated earthquake-deciphering technique (thus far only used to illuminate the planet's upper shells), a team of scientists from Illinois University in the US and Nanjing University in China have succeeded in exploring the inner core itself.

Their ground-breaking research supports an earlier prediction that deep within the inner core sits yet another even deeper innermost shell, containing iron crystals aligned in a different direction (north-south rather than east-west for the rest of the core).

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 05, @12:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the I'm-sure-that-it-will-be-in-our-interests-/sarcasm dept.

El Reg reports:

A raft of patent applications has presaged a possible legal war in the rapidly expanding domain-name industry.

This year alone, market-leading registrar GoDaddy has applied for no less than eight patents specific to the DNS world, covering everything from searching for a domain name to register, to recommending a specific domain based on user input.

At the same time, market-leading registry Verisign has applied for a wide range of patents, many covering more technical aspects of the domain name system and also covering commercially valuable ideas like enhanced privacy protections (20150058999) and abuse protection (20150047033).

[...] In the past six months, the number of internet top-level domains has more than doubled as 500 dot-words – from .london to .xyz – have been added to the roughly 300 that already existed. That number will grow by another 500 in the next six months.

The result has been a jump in competition in the registry market, and the domain-selling arena (the registrar market).

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 05, @10:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the better-but-not-good dept.

Ars Technica reports:

On Wednesday, US District Judge Lucy Koh granted preliminary approval for a settlement between four top tech companies—Apple, Google, Adobe, and Intel—and their former employees. The employees launched a class action suit against the companies after the Justice Department sued the top tech firms for anti-competitive labor practices in 2010.

The Justice Department had accused Apple, Google, and other top tech firms of agreeing not to approach each others’ engineers with better employment offers. The employees estimated that they collectively lost out on $3 billion in wages because competing companies would not give them better offers.

Employees of Apple, Google, Adobe, and Intel pursued a larger settlement [...]. Originally, lawyers for the two sides agreed to a $324.5 million settlement for the employees. But with 64,000 former employees looking to reclaim lost wages, that amounted to a paltry $5,000 per person. Freelance programmer and representative plaintiff Michael Devine protested the agreement his side’s lawyers agreed to, and Judge Koh agreed with him, calling the settlement "below the range of reasonableness.”

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 05, @09:06AM   Printer-friendly
from the I've-forgotten-what-I-was-going-to-write dept.

ScienceDaily reports:

A study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) reveals for the first time exactly how mutations associated with the most common form of inherited Alzheimer's disease produce the disorder's devastating effects. Appearing in the March 4 issue of Neuron, the paper upends conventional thinking about the effects of Alzheimer's-associated mutations in the presenilin genes and provides an explanation for the failure of drugs designed to block presenilin activity.
"Our study provides new insights into Alzheimer's disease by showing how human mutations that cause the disease lead to neurodegeneration and dementia," says Raymond J. Kelleher III, MD, PhD, of the MGH Department of Neurology and Center for Human Genetic Research, co-senior author of the Neuron paper. "We found that mutations in the presenilin-1 gene promote the hallmark features of the disease by decreasing, rather than increasing, function of the presenilin-1 protein and the gamma-secretase enzyme. In addition to the important therapeutic implications of our findings, we have also generated the first animal model in which an Alzheimer's-disease-causing mutation produces neurodegeneration in the cerebral cortex."

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