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Robotics

Bring On the Boring Robots 16

Posted by Soulskill
from the skynet-lulling-us-into-a-false-sense-of-security dept.
malachiorion writes: After a successful 6-month pilot, Savioke's 'butler bots' are heading to hotels around the country. These are not sexy, scary, or even technically impressive machines. But they were useful enough, over the course of their 2,000 or so deliveries, to warrant a redesign, and a larger deployment starting in April. Savioke's CEO had some interesting things to say about the pilot, including the fact that some 95 percent of guests gave the robot a 5-star review, and only the drunks seemed to take issue with it. Plus, as you might expect, everyone seemed to want to take a damn selfie with it. But as small as the stakes might appear, highly specialized bots like this one, which can only do one thing (in this case, bring up to 10 pounds of stuff from the lobby to someone's door) are a better glimpse of our future than any talk of hyper-competent humanoids or similarly versatile machines.
The Courts

First Lawsuits Challenging FCC's New Net Neutrality Rules Arrive 93

Posted by Soulskill
from the early-bird-gets-to-throttle-the-worm's-bandwidth dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A small ISP based in Texas and an industry trade group have become the first to file lawsuits challenging the FCC's recent net neutrality rules. The trade group, USTelecom, argues that the regulations are not "legally sustainable." Alamo Broadband claims it is facing "onerous requirements" by operating under Title II of the Communications Act. Such legal challenges were expected, and are doubtless the first of many — but few expected them to arrive so soon. While some of the new rules were considered "final" once the FCC released them on March 12, others don't go into effect until they're officially published in the Federal Register, which hasn't happened yet.
Windows

Microsoft Releases Windows 10 SDK 39

Posted by Soulskill
from the tools-to-build dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft today launched developer tools for the Windows 10 Technical Preview, including a software development kit (SDK). Developers can use the new tools, currently in preview, to start building universal Windows apps for Microsoft's upcoming operating system. A universal Windows app is Microsoft's verbiage for an app that can run across different form factors, including PCs, tablets, and phones. Developers can publish these apps in the Windows Store, which will be available across all types of Windows 10 devices.
Security

Nobody Is Sure What Should Count As a Cyber Incident 26

Posted by Soulskill
from the playing-by-hundreds-of-different-rulebooks dept.
chicksdaddy writes: Despite a lot of attention to the problem of cyber attacks against the nation's critical infrastructure, The Christian Science Monitor notes that there is still a lot of confusion about what, exactly, constitutes a "cyber incident" in critical infrastructure circles. The result: many incidents in which software failures affect critical infrastructure may go unreported.

Passcode speaks to security experts like Joe Weiss, who claims to have a list of around 400 incidents in which failures in software and electronic communications lead to a failure of confidentiality, integrity or availability (CIA) — the official definition of a cyber incident. Few of them are considered cyber incidents within critical infrastructure circles, however. His list includes some of the most deadly and destructive public sector accidents of the last two decades. Among them: a 2006 emergency shutdown of Unit 3 at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant in Alabama, the 1999 Olympic Gas pipeline rupture and explosion in Bellingham Washington that killed three people and the 2010 Pacific Gas & Electric gas pipe explosion in San Bruno, Calif., that killed eight people and destroyed a suburban neighborhood.

While official reports like this one about the San Bruno pipeline explosion (PDF) duly note the role software failure played in each incident, they fail to characterize them as 'cyber incidents' or note the cyber-physical aspects of the adverse event. Weiss says he has found many other, similar omissions that continue even today. He argues that applying an IT mindset to critical infrastructure results in operators overlooking weaknesses in their systems. "San Bruno wasn't malicious, but it easily could have been," Weiss notes. "It's a nonmalicious event that killed 8 people and destroyed a neighborhood."
Portables (Apple)

Apple Doubles MacBook Pro R/W Performance 102

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
Lucas123 writes Benchmark tests performed on the 2015 MacBook Pro revealed it does have twice the read/write performance as the mid-2014 model. Tests performed with the Blackmagic benchmark tool revealed read/write speeds of more than 1,300MBps/1,400MBps, respectively. So what's changed? The new MacBook Pro does have a faster Intel dual-core i7 2.9GHz processor and 1866MHz LPDDR3) RAM, but the real performance gain is in the latest PCIe M.2 flash module. The 2014 model used a PCIe 2.0 x2 card and the 2015 model uses a PCIe 3.0 x4 (four I/O lanes) card. Twice the lanes, twice the speed. While Apple uses a proprietary flash card made by Samsung, Intel, Micron and SanDisk are all working on similar technology, so it's likely to soon wind up in high-end PCs.
Medicine

First Prototype of a Working Tricorder Unveiled At SXSW 41

Posted by samzenpus
from the scan-me dept.
the_newsbeagle writes The $10 million Tricorder X-prize is getting to the "put up or shut up" stage: The 10 finalists must turn in their working devices on June 1st for consumer testing. At SXSW last week, the finalist team Cloud DX showed off its prototype, which includes a wearable collar, a base station, a blood-testing stick, and a scanning wand. From the article: "The XPrize is partnering with the medical center at the University of California, San Diego on that consumer testing, since it requires recruiting more than 400 people with a variety of medical conditions. Grant Campany, director of the Tricorder XPrize, said he’s looking forward to getting those devices into real patients hands. 'This will be a practical demonstration of what the future of medicine will be like,' said Campany at that same SXSW talk, 'so we can scale it up after competition.'"
Star Wars Prequels

Boeing Patents Star Wars Style Force Field Technology 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up-the-deflector-shield dept.
An anonymous reader was one of many to point out that Boeing doesn't want to rely on a sad devotion to an ancient religion to protect aircraft and conjure up the stolen data tapes, but plans on using force fields instead. "Boeing's new patent may let the force be with you even in real life. The aircraft and defense company has taken a cue from science fiction with its plan to develop a Star Wars style force field that would use energy to deflect any potential damage. Just liking the luminescent shields seen in the film, Boeing's "Method and system for shock wave attenuation via electromagnetic arc" could provide a real-life layer of protection from nearby impacts to targets. The downside: It won't protect from direct hits."
Australia

World's Largest Asteroid Impacts Found In Central Australia 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the call-bruce-willis dept.
schwit1 writes Scientists doing geothermal research in Australia have discovered evidence of what they think is the largest known impact zone from an meteorite on Earth. The zone is thought to be about 250 miles across, and suggests the bolide split in two pieces each about 6 miles across before impact. The uncertainty is that the evidence for this impact is quite tentative: "The exact date of the impacts remains unclear. The surrounding rocks are 300 to 600 million years old, but evidence of the type left by other meteorite strikes is lacking. For example, a large meteorite strike 66 million years ago sent up a plume of ash which is found as a layer of sediment in rocks around the world. The plume is thought to have led to the extinction of a large proportion of the life on the planet, including many dinosaur species. However, a similar layer has not been found in sediments around 300 million years old, Dr Glikson said. 'It's a mystery – we can't find an extinction event that matches these collisions. I have a suspicion the impact could be older than 300 million years,' he said."
Books

Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Michael Ross writes In recent years, JavaScript has enjoyed a dramatic renaissance as it has been transformed from a browser scripting tool primarily used for special effects and form validation on web pages, to a substantial client-side programming language. Similarly, on the server side, after years as the target of criticism, the PHP computer programming language is seeing a revival, partly due to the addition of new capabilities, such as namespaces, traits, generators, closures, and components, among other improvements. PHP enthusiasts and detractors alike can learn more about these changes from the book Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices, authored by Josh Lockhart. Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.
NASA

NASA's Abandoned Launch Facilities 40

Posted by samzenpus
from the lost-in-time dept.
trazom28 writes I ran across an interesting slideshow of NASA's abandoned launch facilities. It's an interesting piece of scientific history. The images are from "photographer Roland Miller's upcoming book, Abandoned in Place. The book is a visual study of the deactivated launch and research facilities that played an essential role in early American space exploration.
Government

Finland To Fly "Open Skies" Surveillance Flight Over Russia 70

Posted by samzenpus
from the fly-the-friendly-skies dept.
jones_supa writes Inspectors from Finland will conduct an observation flight on March 23-27 over the Russian territory within the framework of the Treaty on Open Skies. During the flight that will be conducted along the mutually agreed route, Russian specialists on board of the aircraft will ensure strict compliance with the agreed flight schedule and monitor the use of the equipment stipulated by the treaty. The flight will be conducted on a Swedish SAAB 340 observation aircraft that is not equipped with any weaponry. Both the plane and the equipment installed in it have been examined by the international inspection, including Russian specialists. The treaty on Open Skies is designed to enhance mutual understanding by allowing unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the territories of its 34 current member states.
GNU is Not Unix

RMS Talks Net Neutrality, Patents, and More 144

Posted by samzenpus
from the straight-from-the-man dept.
alphadogg writes "According to Richard Stallman, godfather of the free software movement, Facebook is a "monstrous surveillance engine," tech companies working for patent reform aren't going nearly far enough, and parents must lobby their children's schools to keep data private and provide free software alternatives. The free software guru touched on a host of topics in his keynote Saturday at the LibrePlanet conference, a Free Software Foundation gathering at the Scala Center at MIT.
Mars

The First Billion-Pixel Mosaic of Mars 34

Posted by samzenpus
from the worth-a-billion-words dept.
StartsWithABang writes In 2012, Mars Science Laboratory performed the first robotically-controlled soft landing of a vehicle of such incredible mass: nearly half a tonne. A few months later, the rover, Curiosity, took the first ever billion-pixel mosaic from the Red Planet's surface, with breathtaking views of the terrain and alternate views of what the soils would look like were they here on Earth. Now in its third year on Mars, Curiosity is roving the low slopes of its ultimate destination: Mount Sharp.
Google

"Google Glass Isn't Dead!" Says Google's CEO Eric Schmidt 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'm-getting-better dept.
lord_rob the only on writes "After Google stopped selling its wearable Glass device in January this year, many people speculated that the controversial gadget was on its way out for good. However, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has said that the technology behind Glass is too important to throw away, and that the program has been put under the control of Nest's Tony Fadell to "make it ready for users" in the future.