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Councilmen Introduce Bills Strongly Regulating UAV Use in NYC

SlashDot - 14 hours 50 min ago
SternisheFan passes on this excerpt from an Ars Technica article: On Wednesday Councilman Dan Garodnick introduced a bill to the New York City council seeking to ban all use of drones except those operated by police officers who obtain warrants. A second, parallel bill introduced by councilman Paul Vallone would place more stringent restrictions on drone use but stop short of banning drones for hobbyists and companies altogether. Both bills have been passed to the city's committee on public safety. An all-out ban on drones within the metropolis would be a quite wide-reaching step, especially as the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) seems poised to adopt more permissive rules, with respect to commercial interests in particular. Earlier this year, the FAA formally granted six Hollywood companies exemptions to drone ban rules. A couple of months later, the FAA granted similar exemptions for construction site monitoring and oil rig flare stack inspections. The article explains that Vallone's bill is less restrictive, and rather than propose an outright ban "lists 10 instances where operating a UAV would be illegal, including at night, out of the operator's eyesight, or above 400 ft high. Outside of those conditions, hobbyists and commercial interests would be free to fly drones."

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US Links North Korea To Sony Hacking

SlashDot - 15 hours 32 min ago
schwit1 writes Speaking off the record, senior intelligence officials have told the New York Times, CNN, and other news agencies that North Korea was "centrally involved" in the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment. It is not known how the US government has determined that North Korea is the culprit, though it is known that the NSA has in the past penetrated North Korean computer systems. Previous analysis of the malware that brought down Sony Pictures' network showed that there were marked similarities to the tools used in last year's cyber-attack on South Korean media companies and the 2012 "Shamoon" attack on Saudi Aramco. While there was speculation that the "DarkSeoul" attack in South Korea was somehow connected to the North Korean regime, a firm link was never published.

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What Will Microsoft's "Embrace" of Open Source Actually Achieve?

SlashDot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 13:37
Nerval's Lobster writes Back in the day, Microsoft viewed open source and Linux as a threat and did its best to retaliate with FUD and patent threats. And then a funny thing happened: Whether in the name of pragmatism or simply marketing, Microsoft began a very public transition from a company of open-source haters (at least in top management) to one that's embraced some aspects of open-source computing. Last month, the company blogged that .NET Core will become open-source, adding to its previously open-sourced ASP.NET MVC, Web API, and Web Pages (Razor). There's no doubt that, at least in some respects, Microsoft wants to make a big show of being more open and supportive of interoperability. The company's even gotten involved with the .NET Foundation, an independent organization designed to assist developers with the growing collection of open-source technologies for .NET. But there's only so far Microsoft will go into the realm of open source—whereas once upon a time, the company tried to wreck the movement, now it faces the very real danger of its whole revenue model being undermined by free software. But what's Microsoft's end-goal with open source? What can the company possibly hope to accomplish, given a widespread perception that such a move on its part is the product of either fear, cynicism, or both?

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The Joys and Hype of Hadoop

SlashDot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:52
theodp writes "Investors have poured over $2 billion into businesses built on Hadoop," writes the WSJ's Elizabeth Dwoskin, "including Hortonworks Inc., which went public last week, its rivals Cloudera Inc. and MapR Technologies, and a growing list of tiny startups. Yet companies that have tried to use Hadoop have met with frustration." Dwoskin adds that Hadoop vendors are responding with improvements and additions, but for now, "It can take a lot of work to combine data stored in legacy repositories with the data that's stored in Hadoop. And while Hadoop can be much faster than traditional databases for some purposes, it often isn't fast enough to respond to queries immediately or to work on incoming information in real time. Satisfying requirements for data security and governance also poses a challenge."

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In Breakthrough, US and Cuba To Resume Diplomatic Relations

SlashDot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:10
HughPickens.com writes: Peter Baker reports at the NYT that in a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, the United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century. In addition, the United States will ease restrictions on remittances, travel and banking relations, and Cuba will release 53 Cuban prisoners identified as political prisoners by the United States government. Although the decades-old American embargo on Cuba will remain in place for now, the administration signaled that it would welcome a move by Congress to ease or lift it should lawmakers choose to. "We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America's interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state," said the White House in a written statement. "The United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people."

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Army To Launch Spy Blimp Over Maryland

SlashDot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:27
FarnsworthG writes: A multi-billion-dollar Army project will soon be able to track nearly everything within 340 miles when an 80-yard-long blimp is hoisted into the air over Maryland. Way to be subtle, guys. From the article: "Technically considered aerostats, since they are tethered to mooring stations, these lighter-than-air vehicles will hover at a height of 10,000 feet just off Interstate 95, about 45 miles northeast of Washington, D.C., and about 20 miles from Baltimore. That means they can watch what’s happening from North Carolina to Boston, or an area the size of Texas."

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Backblaze's 6 TB Hard Drive Face-Off

SlashDot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:01
Esra Erimez writes: Backblaze is transitioning from using 4 TB hard drives to 6 TB hard drives in the Storage Pods they will be deploying over the coming months. With over 10,000 hard drives, the choice of which 6TB hard drive to use is critical. They deployed 45 and tested Western Digital (WD60EFRX) and Seagate (STBD6000100) hard drives into two pods that were identical in design and configuration except for the hard drives used.

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New Cargo Ship Is 488 Meters Long

SlashDot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:44
An anonymous reader writes: The BBC reports on the construction of Prelude, a new ship that will be the world's longest vessel. It is 488 meters long and 74 meters wide, built with 260,000 tons of steel and displacing five times as much water as an aircraft carrier. Its purpose is to carry an entire natural gas processing plant as it sits over a series of wells 100 miles off the coast of Australia. Until now, it hasn't been practical to move gas that comes out of the wells with ships. The gas occupies too much volume, so it is generally piped to a facility on shore where it is processed and then shipped off to energy-hungry markets. But the Prelude can purify and chill the gas, turning it into a liquid and reducing its volume by a factor of 600. It will offload this liquid to smaller (but still enormous) carrier ships for transport.

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Sony Leaks Reveal Hollywood Is Trying To Break DNS

SlashDot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:03
schwit1 sends this report from The Verge: Most anti-piracy tools take one of two paths: they either target the server that's sharing the files (pulling videos off YouTube or taking down sites like The Pirate Bay) or they make it harder to find (delisting offshore sites that share infringing content). But leaked documents reveal a frightening line of attack that's currently being considered by the MPAA: What if you simply erased any record that the site was there in the first place? To do that, the MPAA's lawyers would target the Domain Name System that directs traffic across the internet. The tactic was first proposed as part of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2011, but three years after the law failed in Congress, the MPAA has been looking for legal justification for the practice in existing law and working with ISPs like Comcast to examine how a system might work technically. If a takedown notice could blacklist a site from every available DNS provider, the URL would be effectively erased from the internet. No one's ever tried to issue a takedown notice like that, but this latest memo suggests the MPAA is looking into it as a potentially powerful new tool in the fight against piracy.

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A New Law For Superconductors

SlashDot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 07:57
TaleSlinger sends word of a newly-discovered "mathematical relationship — between material thickness, temperature, and electrical resistance — that appears to hold in all superconductors." The work (abstract), led by Yachin Irvy, comes out of MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics. Researchers found that a particular superconductor (niobium nitride) didn't fit earlier models estimating the temperature at which it changes from normal conductivity to superconductivity. So the researchers conducted a series of experiments in which they held constant either thickness or “sheet resistance,” the material’s resistance per unit area, while varying the other parameter; they then measured the ensuing changes in critical temperature. A clear pattern emerged: Thickness times critical temperature equaled a constant — call it A — divided by sheet resistance raised to a particular power — call it B. ... The other niobium nitride papers Ivry consulted bore out his predictions, so he began to expand to other superconductors. Each new material he investigated required him to adjust the formula’s constants — A and B. But the general form of the equation held across results reported for roughly three dozen different superconductors.

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Spacecraft Spots Probable Waves On Titan's Seas

SlashDot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 02:36
sciencehabit writes: It's springtime on Titan, Saturn's giant and frigid moon, and the action on its hydrocarbon seas seems to be heating up. Near the moon's north pole, there is growing evidence for waves on three different seas, scientists reported at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Researchers are also coming up with the first estimates for the volume and composition of the seas. The bodies of water appear to be made mostly of methane, and not mostly ethane as previously thought. And they are deep: Ligeia Mare, the second biggest sea with an area larger than Lake Superior, could contain 55 times Earth's oil reserves.

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Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End

SlashDot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 17:01
An anonymous reader writes: Dr. Dobb's — long time icon of programming magazines — "sunsets" at the end of the year. Editor Andrew Binstock says despite growing traffic numbers, the decline in revenue from ads means there will be no new content posted after 2014 ends. (The site will stay up for at least a year, hopefully longer.) Younger people may not care, but for the hard core old guys, it marks the end of a world where broad knowledge of computers and being willing to create solutions instead of reuse them was valuable. Binstock might disagree; he said, "As our page views show, the need for an independent site with in-depth articles, code, algorithms, and reliable product reviews is still very much present. And I will dearly miss that content. I wish I could point you to another site that does similar work, but alas, I know of none."

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Attorney Yasir Billoo Explains NDA Law (Video)

SlashDot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 16:20
Yasir Billoo, an attorney with Golden & Grimes in Miami, Florida, is licensed to practice law in both Florida and California, and works heavily in the areas of business/commercial law, employment and labor, and civil appeals. Yasir also has a business-oriented blog titled Small Business Law. In this Slashdot video interview hosted by Timothy Lord, Yasir gives what is essentially a primer on the law behind Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and how they differ from Non-Competes. Sooner or later you're going to encounter -- or even write -- an NDA, and you'd better know the law behind what you're doing. Naturally, today's interview isn't specific legal advice about a particular situation. If you want that, you need to hire a lawyer to advise you. But Yasir (a long-time Slashdot reader. BTW) has shared enough knowledge in this interview that it will help you deal with many NDA situations on your own, and how to tell when you really should have a lawyer by your side. (Alternate Video Link )

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Curiosity Detects Mysterious Methane Spikes On Mars

SlashDot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 15:37
astroengine writes: A gas strongly associated with life on Earth has been detected again in the Martian atmosphere, opening a new chapter in a decade-old mystery about the on-again, off-again appearance of methane on Mars. The latest discovery comes from NASA's Curiosity rover, which in addition to analyzing rocks and soil samples, is sniffing the air at its Gale Crater landing site. A year ago, scientists reported that Curiosity had come up empty-handed after an eight-month search for methane in the atmosphere, leaving earlier detections by ground-based telescopes and Mars-orbiting spacecraft an unexplained anomaly. "We thought we had closed the book on methane. It was disappointing to a lot of people that there wasn't significant methane on Mars, but that's where we were," Curiosity scientist Christopher Webster with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told Discovery News.

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Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

SlashDot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 09:58
An anonymous reader writes with this news from the EFF's Deep Links: The public got an early holiday gift today when a federal court agreed with us that six weeks of continually video recording the front yard of someone's home without a search warrant violates the Fourth Amendment. In United States v. Vargas local police in rural Washington suspected Vargas of drug trafficking. In April 2013, police installed a camera on top of a utility pole overlooking his home. Even though police did not have a warrant, they nonetheless pointed the camera at his front door and driveway and began watching every day. A month later, police observed Vargas shoot some beer bottles with a gun and because Vargas was an undocumented immigrant, they had probable cause to believe he was illegally possessing a firearm. They used the video surveillance to obtain a warrant to search his home, which uncovered drugs and guns, leading to a federal indictment against Vargas.

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Godot Engine Reaches 1.0, First Stable Release

SlashDot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 09:16
goruka writes "Godot, the most advanced open source (MIT licensed) game engine, which was open-sourced back in February, has reached 1.0 (stable). It sports an impressive number of features, and it's the only game engine with visual tools (code editor, scripting, debugger, 3D engine, 2D engine, physics, multi-platform deploy, etc) on a scale comparable to commercial offerings. As a plus, the user interface runs natively on Linux. Godot has amassed a healthy user community (through forums, Facebook and IRC) since it went public, and was used to publish commercial games in the Latin American and European markets such as Ultimo Carnaval with publisher Square Enix, and The Mystery Team by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

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Skype Unveils Preview of Live English-To-Spanish Translator

SlashDot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 08:33
mpicpp writes that Microsoft, after demoing the technology back in May, is giving some real-world exposure to its Skype-based translation. The Skype preview program will kick-off with two spoken languages, Spanish and English, and 40+ instant messaging languages will be available to Skype customers who have signed-up via the Skype Translator sign-up page and are using Windows 8.1 on the desktop or device. Skype asked two schools to try Skype Translator – Peterson School in Mexico City, and Stafford Elementary School in Tacoma, USA – playing a game of 'Mystery Skype' in which the children ask questions to determine the location of the other school. One classroom of children speaking Spanish and the other speaking English, Skype Translator removed this language barrier and enabled them to communicate.

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Webcast Funerals Growing More Popular

SlashDot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 01:08
HughPickens.com writes: Lex Berko reports in The Atlantic that although webcasting has been around since the mid-1990s, livestreamed funerals have only begun to go mainstream in the last few years. The National Funeral Directors Association has only this year introduced a new funeral webcasting license that permits funeral homes to legally webcast funerals that include copyrighted music. The webcast service's growing appeal is, by all accounts, a result of the increasing mobility of modern society. Remote participation is often the only option for those who live far away or have other barriers — financial, temporal, health-related — barring them from attending a funeral. "It's not designed to replace folks attending funerals," says Walker Posey. "A lot of folks just don't live where their family grew up and it's difficult to get back and forth." But some funeral directors question if online funerals are helpful to the grieving process and eschew streaming funerals live because they do not want to replace a communal human experience with a solitary digital one. What happens if there's a technical problem with the webcast — will we grieve even more knowing we missed the service in person and online? Does webcasting bode well for the future of death acceptance, or does it only promote of our further alienation from that inevitable moment? "The physical dead body is proof of death, tangible evidence that the person we love is gone, and that we will someday be gone as well," says Caitlin Doughty, a death theorist and mortician. "To have death and mourning transferred online takes away that tangible proof. What is there to show us that death is real?"

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The Pirate Bay Responds To Raid

SlashDot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 16:18
An anonymous reader writes The Pirate Bay's crew have remained awfully quiet on the recent raid in public, but today Mr 10100100000 breaks the silence in order to get a message out to the world. In a nutshell, he says that they couldn't care less, are going to remain on hiatus, and a comeback is possible. In recent days mirrors of The Pirate Bay appeared online and many of these have now started to add new content as well. According to TPB this is a positive development, but people should be wary of scams. Mr 10100100000 says that they would open source the engine of the site, if the code "wouldn't be so s****y". In any case, they recommend people keeping the Kopimi spirit alive, as TPB is much more than some hardware stored in a dusty datacenter.

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The Personal Computer Revolution Behind the Iron Curtain

SlashDot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 15:34
szczys writes Obviously the personal computer revolution was world-wide, but the Eastern Bloc countries had a story of PC evolution all their own. Martin Malý tells first hand of his experiences seeing black market imports, locally built clones of popular western machines, and all kinds of home-built equipment. From the article: "The biggest problem was a lack of modern technologies. There were a lot of skilled and clever people in eastern countries, but they had a lot of problems with the elementary technical things. Manufacturing of electronics parts was divided into diverse countries of Comecon – The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. In reality, it led to an absurd situation: You could buy the eastern copy of Z80 (made in Eastern Germany as U880D), but you couldn’t buy 74LS00 at the same time. Yes, a lot of manufacturers made it, but 'it is out of stock now; try to ask next year.' So 'make a computer' meant 50 percent of electronics skills and 50 percent of unofficial social network and knowledge like 'I know a guy who knows a guy and his neighbor works in a factory, where they maybe have a material for PCBs' at those times."

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