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Updated: 2015-05-11

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The First Draft of the SN manifesto is available

The finalists for the 2015 Hugo Awards were announced on April 4, 2015. Who deserves the prize for Best Novel?

  • Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
  • The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
  • Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Orbit UK/Roc Books)
  • The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)
  • I can't read, you insenstive clod!

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:9 | Votes:65

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 27, @04:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the good-luck-with-that dept.

El Reg reports confirms it's binned extended Windows XP support

The [UK government] signed up for Microsoft's OS [...] support service--aka a Custom Support Agreement--last year, but a recent meeting of government Technology Leaders decided enough is enough. A post on the Government Technology Blog says the Leaders "took a collective decision to not extend the support arrangement for 2015".

A support agreement that ended in April was therefore not renewed.

[...] An [undisclosed] number of agencies are still running XP, at least on some machines, leading the government digital service to suggest "We expect most remaining government devices using Windows XP will be able to mitigate any risks, using the CESG guidance."

[...] As we've reported, agencies including the Metropolitan Police, the [National Health Service], and [Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs] are still to finish XP migration projects.

Related: Microsoft Ends Support for Windows XP

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

posted by CoolHand on Wednesday May 27, @02:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the in-soviet-russia-spaceship-rides-you dept.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos has been abolished following the recent failure of a Progress M-27M spacecraft and the $1.8 billion (92 billion rubles) of financial violations committed during 2014. Auditors found "violations included inefficient use of funds, misuse of appropriated funds, and violations in fiscal reporting methods." The agency's budget had already been cut by 35 percent in March. The Moscow Times reports:

Asked why Golikova had singled out Roscosmos if violations are rampant throughout the government, Pavel Luzin, a space industry analyst at Perm State University, said "the government needs to explain the current bad situation with the space industry and space program."

Despite numerous efforts to reform the space industry since a long streak of crashes and high-profile failures began in 2010, Russian rockets continue to explode and officials are at a loss as to how to fix the space industry's problems.

But while corruption in the space industry hinders effective reform, Luzin said the Audit Chamber's report does not necessarily mean that Roscosmos has stolen 92 billion rubles.

"Violations just mean disorder, because the Russian flow of documents is very intricate and it is impossible to keep all of them in order. Sure, some shady deals are possible, and moreover they take place, but it doesn't mean that all of the 92 billion rubles have been stolen. That's impossible," Luzin said.

The space agency will be replaced by a state corporation, also called Roscosmos. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told a talk show that "It will take maybe another two to three years to intensively technically re-equip the rocket and space industry." He warned last week that Russia could lose its 40% share of the global commercial satellite launch market to firms such as SpaceX if reforms do not succeed.

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

posted by CoolHand on Wednesday May 27, @12:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the what-could-have-been dept.

It seems that a great Linux distribution has now been laid to rest. Mandrivia closed its doors today. It is a sad day for me personally as it was one of the first proper user friendly distributions, taking Red Hat's RPM's and building upon them for desktop use there was nothing close at the time. Their Graphical installer was stuff of legends when poor Windows and other Linux distributions were still on console installs, Their Partitioning application had no peers, the Windows equivalent was Partition Magic and it wasn't fit to lick Diskdrake' boots. Okay that's just a personal opinion.

Anyway with great sadness here is the TFA

For decades, Mandriva has been trying to take on Microsoft Windows with a Linux version of a desktop PC. Its claim to fame was a deal in 2007 with the Nigerian government in which it beat out Microsoft to put its flavor of Linux on 17,000 PCs used by Nigerian schoolchildren. It also had some success in Malaysia. But by 2012, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy, a situation that had happened several times since its early days, in 1998.

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

posted by CoolHand on Wednesday May 27, @11:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the spying-at-home dept.

I chair the tech and garden committees at the PTA at my kids' elementary school in Brooklyn, a small, Title 1 (the majority of the families are poor) school with limited resources. A couple months ago the PTA gave money for expensive self-watering planter boxes, flowers, hoses, and other gardening implements to improve the austere, institutional exterior, which resembles a prison. As we discovered this morning, some of the flowers, boxes, and hoses were stolen over Memorial Day weekend.

Since planter boxes must be outside, and the thief must be in the neighborhood to know the boxes are there, it occurred to me that they must be visible from the air and perhaps a camera drone with decent range could be used to recover the stolen property and put a stop to thefts that will surely continue if we merely replace what was lost.

Ideally I imagine flying it from the flat roof of my 4-story apartment building to search in a .5 mile to 1 mile radius, with roughly 30 minutes of flying time and a "go home" feature if it loses contact with the controller or runs too low on battery.

Are there drone aficionados in the SN community who can speak to the feasibility of such a project and/or can recommend models to buy?

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

posted by takyon on Wednesday May 27, @09:20AM   Printer-friendly
from the feeling-vulnerable dept.

For the first time, DNS redirection attacks against small office and home office (SOHO) routers are being delivered via exploit kits. French security researcher Kafeine said an offshoot of the Sweet Orange kit has been finding success in driving traffic from compromised routers to the attackers' infrastructure.The risk to users is substantial he said, ranging from financial loss, to click-fraud, man-in-the-middle attacks and phishing.

Perhaps it's time to demand OpenWrt compatibility? It's without backdoors by design, with continuous bug fixes, IPv6 support and unrestrained configuration capability. Embedded boxes seems to have a poor track record on bugs, transparency and robustness.

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

posted by takyon on Wednesday May 27, @07:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the big-burly-bulky-beefy dept.

Boom times in Silicon Valley call for hard work, and hard work — at least in technology land — means that coders, engineers and venture capitalists are turning to liquid meals with names like Schmoylent, Soylent, Schmilk and People Chow. The protein-packed products that come in powder form are inexpensive and quick and easy to make — just shake with water, or in the case of Schmilk, milk. While athletes and dieters have been drinking their dinner for years, Silicon Valley's workers are now increasingly chugging their meals, too, so they can more quickly get back to their computer work.

Demand for some of the powdered drinks, which typically mix nutrients like magnesium, zinc and vitamins, is so high that some engineers report being put on waiting lists of one to six months to receive their first orders. And the drinks are taking off across techie social circles. Venture capitalists have also poured money into the companies that offer the meal replacements, and investors including Alexis Ohanian, a founder of Reddit, count themselves as fans of the drinks.

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 27, @06:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the lucky-fourteen dept.

Jessica Hannan writes at I4U that Elon Musk pulled his children out of an established school after discovering they weren't receiving the quality of education that catered to their abilities and built his own school with only 14 students whose parents are primarily SpaceX employees. Musk wants to eliminate grades so there's no distinction between students in 1st grade and 3rd and students focus on the important elements of each subject. By integrating the thinking process to include a progressive step-by-step approach, children will be challenged and able to understand result through a systemic pattern. "Let's say you're trying to teach people about how engines work. A more traditional approach would be saying, 'we're going to teach all about screwdrivers and wrenches.' This is a very difficult way to do it." Instead, Musk says it makes more sense to give students an engine and then work to disassemble it. "How are we going to take it apart? You need a screwdriver." When you show "what the screwdriver is for," Musk explains "a very important thing happens" because students then witness the relevancy of task, tool, and solution in a long term application."

According to Hannan, Musk's approach to delete grade level numbers and focus on aptitude may take the pressure off non-linear students and creates a more balanced assessment of ingenuity. Admitting books were "comforting" to him as a child and to reading everything from science fiction to the encyclopedia and philosophers from "morning to night," Musk points out that not everyone will be strong in every subject, or be able to retain regurgitated standardized aptitude facts beyond the test. "It makes more sense to cater the education to match their aptitudes and abilities." So far, Ad Astra "seems to be going pretty well," according to Musk. "The kids really love going to school."

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 27, @03:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the better-pay-to-play dept.

If you're a homeowner and drone enthusiast, your homeowner's insurance probably covers property damage should you crash your craft and damage someone else's property. If you're not a homeowner, the recommendation is to join the Academy of Model Aeronautics since the annual $58 membership includes $2.5 million of general liability protection in case your drone crashes into a car window or hits someone.

Now there's news that Erie Indemnity Company has received approval from the FAA to use drones to assess car accidents:

...two DJI Phantom 2 quadcopters with digital cameras will help human adjusters view accident scenes. They'll also "help with underwriting," or pricing risk, said Erie spokeswoman Leah Knapp.


"Drones will help our claims adjusters get an early look at potential damage without putting themselves in harm's way due to unsafe conditions, such as a steep roof or at the site of a fire or natural disaster," according to [Erie VP Gary Sullivan]. That's when "small unmanned aerial vehicles can provide a safe and effective alternative" and "fully document the results," while speeding claims and settlements.

For now the drones will just assist human adjusters and the plan is to implement them this summer, after some training and testing is completed. Hopefully a lot of training.

[Editor's Comment: Original Source]

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 27, @01:48AM   Printer-friendly
from the the-latest-thing dept.

In the past, upgrading to the next release has been a sore spot for users of Linux Mint. The main release (based on Ubuntu) ironed out this difficulty with Mint 17 LTS (Long-Term Support).

Linux Mint Debian Edition is, as the name indicates, based on Debian and has only had 2 releases. Previously, LMDE 2 "Betsy" suffered from the no-in-place-upgrade problem. Chief developer at Mint, Clement Lefebvre, has written a tutorial describing how you can now update from LMDE 1.

As Silviu Stahie notes at Softpedia

Don't hesitate to connect to the IRC while performing the upgrade. One important note among the warnings: Make sure to disable Romeo prior to upgrading. Cinnamon 2.6 and MATE 1.10 will hit it very soon [but] they're not fully stable yet. If you want to test them, it's better to enable Romeo post-upgrade so they don't interfere with the upgrade.

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

posted by janrinok on Tuesday May 26, @11:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the slip-slidin'-away dept.

Gizmag tells us about how a Japanese company, Coo Space, has developed an innovation in ball bearings that will allow the balls to automagically space themselves out. That will lead to vastly reduced friction which, in turn, will lead to the elimination of the necessity to grease the bearing to reduce the friction. This is potentially a huge development across all forms of industry.

The Autonomous Decentralised Bearing (ADB) puts a small indentation, or groove, into the outer bearing race. As the balls slide over this tiny groove, they slow down ever so slightly, and then speed back up. This does nothing to affect the bearing's regular performance, but if two balls are touching each other as they cross over the groove, the first ball's deceleration puts a tiny brake on the second ball, which separates the two as they go around the races.

It's an incredibly simple and tiny change, but it does a remarkable job.
Without the need for a cage, you can run these bearings un-lubricated, and that's where the real performance benefits come in. Coo Space claims the ADB experiences as little as 10 percent of the friction of a regular ball bearing

Here is a YouTube video of the bearings spacing themselves out within the races.

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

posted by janrinok on Tuesday May 26, @09:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the feast-or-famine dept.

Cable News Network reports

The bottom dropped out over northern Texas and Oklahoma overnight [May 23/24]. Rainfall broke records and river banks, and killed a firefighter early Sunday, as emergency crews scrambled to pull residents from floodwaters.

With more rain falling, the torrents have already pushed Oklahoma City handily past a rain record and rescuers have carried out at least 48 high-water rescues.

By late Saturday, 3.15 inches had drenched the city, bringing the total for the month to 17.61 inches. "It ... shatters the all-time monthly record of 14.66 inches set in June of 1989," said CNN weather producer Sean Morris.

[...] In Wichita Falls, Texas, [...] "Predictions from the National Weather Service indicate that significant flooding along the Wichita River is very likely", the town's emergency management agency said. "The National Weather Service is calling this an 'historic' flood event."

[...] Wichita Falls is having the rainiest May ever recorded there and "could set an all-time record for rainiest month ever recorded there," CNN's Morris said.

[...] In addition to the worst-hit areas, flood watches and warnings reached from the Texas and western Louisiana Gulf coasts up through eastern Kansas and western Missouri.

[...] Despite the heavy rain, western Oklahoma and parts of the Texas Panhandle and central Texas are still facing moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

posted by janrinok on Tuesday May 26, @07:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the for-better-or-for-worse dept.

Charter Communications Inc. plans to buy Time Warner Cable Inc., clinching a deal made necessary by slowing growth in the U.S. cable industry -- and more expensive by last-minute competition from French billionaire Patrick Drahi.

Charter will pay $195.71 a share -- 14 percent above Time Warner Cable's May 22 close -- with options of $100 and $115 in cash and the remainder in its own stock, according to a statement Tuesday. Bright House Networks, a smaller cable company that Charter has previously agreed to buy, will also be merged into the combined entity.

It took Charter and its main shareholder John Malone more than a year to reach a deal with No. 2 Time Warner Cable after their January 2014 bid of $132.50-a-share was rejected as a "low-ball offer" and Comcast Corp. jumped in with a competing offer. Although Charter got another shot when regulatory scrutiny caused the Comcast deal to fall apart in April, talks were disrupted by Drahi's Altice SA, which also approached Time Warner Cable in the past weeks.

"The idea that Time Warner Cable and Charter are merging isn't a surprise, but the price raises some eyebrows," Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson in New York, said May 24 after Bloomberg News reported a deal was near. "Altice undoubtedly contributed to Charter having to pay such a steep price to close the deal."

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission - before the purchase was confirmed]

posted by CoolHand on Tuesday May 26, @05:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the waze-plus dept.

Martin Brinkmann at gHacks reports

Google is rolling out a new traffic information [widget] for the mobile version of Google Maps [...] that integrates traffic information in the navigator.

The feature works in two [...] ways. In the first, traffic information [is] immediately displayed to you once you enter your destination in the app.

The application informs you about traffic jams, construction, or any other obstacles that may slow you down on your way to your destination. In addition to giving reasons, it highlights by how much you [will be] slowed down if you take a particular route.

The information [is] updated while you are following the directions Google Maps provides [...]. You may receive congestion alerts that include a delay estimate so that you know what you are getting yourself into.

Google Maps may suggest alternative routes while you are driving, and each alternative includes explanations [...] why it recommends [that you] take that route.

[...] Google makes no mention whether it is limited to certain geographical locations.

[...] The functionality seems similar to what Waze offers, a company that Google acquired in 2013.

In the comments, Naveed notes that he has already been using the feature but doesn't say for how long nor where he is.[...] and Martin, whose first language is German, uses English better than some guys I've encountered who only speak English.

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

posted by martyb on Tuesday May 26, @03:50PM   Printer-friendly
from the bridging-the-air-gap dept.

As digital devices have multiplied, so has the complexity of coordinating them and moving stuff between them. Tone grew out of the idea that while digital communication methods like email and chat have made it infinitely easier, cheaper, and faster to share things with people across the globe, they've actually made it more complicated to share things with the people standing right next to you. Tone aims to make sharing digital things with nearby people as easy as talking to them.

[…] Tone provides an easy-to-understand broadcast mechanism that behaves like the human voice — it doesn't pass through walls like radio or require pairing or addressing. … Because it's audio based, Tone behaves like speech in interesting ways. The orientation of laptops relative to each other, the acoustic characteristics of the space, the particular speaker volume and mic sensitivity, and even where you're standing will all affect Tone's reliability. Not every nearby machine will always receive every broadcast, just like not everyone will always hear every word someone says. But resending is painless and debugging generally just requires raising the volume.

[…] To get started, first install the Tone extension for Chrome. Then simply open a tab with the URL you want to share, make sure your volume is on, and press the Tone button. Your machine will then emit a short sequence of beeps. Nearby machines receive a clickable notification that will open the same tab. Getting everyone on the same page has never been so easy!"

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

posted by CoolHand on Tuesday May 26, @02:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the return-to-mysticism dept.

Richard Horton writes that a recent symposium on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research discussed one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong with science (PDF), one of our greatest human creations. The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. According to Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, a United Kingdom-based medical journal, the apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world or retrofit hypotheses to fit their data.

Can bad scientific practices be fixed? Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivized to be right. Instead, scientists are incentivized to be productive and innovative. Tony Weidberg says that the particle physics community now invests great effort into intensive checking and rechecking of data prior to publication following several high-profile errors,. By filtering results through independent working groups, physicists are encouraged to criticize. Good criticism is rewarded. The goal is a reliable result, and the incentives for scientists are aligned around this goal. "The good news is that science is beginning to take some of its worst failings very seriously," says Horton. "The bad news is that nobody is ready to take the first step to clean up the system."

[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

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