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Updated: 9 hours 16 min ago

Next Texas Energy Boom: Solar

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 7:02am
Layzej writes: The Wall Street Journal reports: "Solar power has gotten so cheap to produce—and so competitively priced in the electricity market—that it is taking hold even in a state that, unlike California, doesn't offer incentives to utilities to buy or build sun-powered generation." Falling cost is one factor driving investment. "Another reason for the boom: Texas recently wrapped up construction of $6.9 billion worth of new transmission lines, many connecting West Texas to the state's large cities. These massive power lines enabled Texas to become, by far, the largest U.S. wind producer. Solar developers plan to move electricity on the same lines, taking advantage of a lull in wind generation during the heat of the day when solar output is at its highest."

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Life With the Dash Button: Good Design For Amazon, Bad For Everyone Else

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 6:13am
vivaoporto writes: A scathing review published on Fast Company describes Amazon's Dash Button, the "Buy Now" button brought into the physical world as "the latest symptom of Amazon's slowly spreading disease", "an unabashed attempt to disconnect customers from the amount of money we're spending." The author's criticism centers on Amazon's lack of focus on customer experience, a core UI that doesn't make sense, limited and expensive product selection and a store UX "no longer designed for your convenient shopping", but rather "designed for their profitable selling."

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Happy Birthday, Linux! An OS At 24

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 5:31am
prisoninmate writes: It has been 24 long years since the first ever release of the Linux project on August 25, 1991, which is the core component of any GNU/Linux distribution. With this occasion we want to remind everyone that Linux is everywhere, even if you don't see it. You use Linux when you search on Google, when you use your phone, when buy metro tickets, actually the whole Internet is powered by Linux. Happy Birthday, Linux!

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Backwards S-Pen Can Permanently Damage Note 5

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 4:52am
tlhIngan writes: Samsung recently released a new version of its popular Galaxy Note series phablet, the Note 5. However, it turns out that there is a huge design flaw in the design of its pen holder (which Samsung calls the S-pen). If you insert it backwards (pointy end out instead of in), it's possible for it get stuck damaging the S-pen detection features. While it may be possible to fix it (Ars Technica was able to, Android Police was not), there's also a chance that your pen is also stuck the wrong way in permanently as the mechanism that holds the pen in grabs the wrong end and doesn't let go.

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Comcast Planning Gigabit Cable For Entire US In 2-3 Years

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 4:14am
An anonymous reader writes: Robert Howald, Comcast's VP of network architecture, said the company is hoping to upgrade its entire cable network within the next two years. The upgraded DOCSIS 3.1 network can support maximum speeds of 10 Gpbs. "Our intent is to scale it through our footprint through 2016," Howald said. "We want to get it across the footprint very quickly... We're shooting for two years."

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Ask Slashdot: New Employee System Access Tracking?

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 3:34am
New submitter mushero writes: We are a fast-growing IT services company with dozens of systems, SaaS tools, dev tools and systems, and more that a new employee might need access to. We struggle to track this, both in terms of what systems a given set of roles will need and then has it been done, as different people manage various systems. And of course the reverse when an employee leaves. Every on-boarding or HR system we've looked at has zero support for this; they are great at getting tax info, your home address, etc. but not for getting you a computer nor access to a myriad of systems. I know in a perfect world it'd all be single-sign-on, but not realistic yet and we have many, many SaaS service that will never integrate. So what have you used for this, how do you track new employee access across dozens of systems, hundreds of employees, new hires every day, etc.?

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Met Office Loses BBC Weather Forecasting Contract

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 1:30am
An anonymous reader writes: UK weather forecasts could be run on computers in New Zealand, as the BBC announced that the UK Met Office lost a forecasting contract it held for almost 100 years. The Guardian reports: "The Met Office has lost the contract it has held for close to a century to provide weather forecasts to the BBC, bringing to an end one of the longest relationships in British media. The broadcaster said it was legally required to open up the contract to outside competition in order to secure the best value for licence fee payers. The meteorological service said it was disappointed by the BBC’s decision to put out to tender the contract, which has been in place since the corporation’s first radio weather bulletin on 14 November 1922. Steve Noyes, operations and customer services director at the Met Office, said: 'Nobody knows Britain’s weather better and, during our long relationship with the BBC, we’ve revolutionised weather communication to make it an integral part of British daily life.'"

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How Poly Bridge's GIF Generator Turned an Indie Game Into a Reddit Sensation

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 11:04pm
An anonymous reader writes: The creator of bridge physics phenomenon Poly Bridge discusses the rise of the bridge physics phenomenon in a new interview this week. Patrick Corrieri of New Zealand's Dry Cactus studio reveals the Reddit hit has sold at least 48,000 copies so far, but that its smartest feature, a GIF generator to capture all your successful crosses and crashes, only came about by accident: "Ultimately it was another independent developer, Zach Barth from Zachotronics, who pushed me to integrate the feature. Not only that, but he also gave me the source code to his GIF encoding routine so I could hit the ground running. That's what is so awesome about the indie dev community: a willingness to share and learn from each other, as growing together is much better than competing with one another."

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Calls For Funding NASA Commercial Crew Grow

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 8:34pm
MarkWhittington writes: As summer starts to give way to fall and the end of the current fiscal year draws nigh, demands that NASA's commercial crew program be fully funded are being heard with greater frequency and urgency. Astronaut Scott Kelly took time off from his year-long sojourn on the International Space Station to entreat Congress to pony up. IO9 was a little more caustic, stating "Dammit, Congress: Just Buy NASA its Own Space Taxi, Already." Monday, Slate became the latest media outlet to take up the cause The situation is depressingly familiar to those who have followed the fortunes of the space program since the Apollo moon landings. When President Obama started the commercial crew program in 2010, NASA estimated that it would take a certain amount of money to get government funded and commercially operated spacecraft running by 2015. Then the space agency would no longer be dependent on Russia for rides to the International Space Station. Congress has decided to allocate less money than NASA feels it needed for commercial crew. This situation is not unusual, as Congress often does this to space projects. However, the politics surrounding the creation of the commercial crew program, which featured the abrupt cancellation of the Constellation space exploration program, has exacerbated the conflict between NASA's will and Congress' won't. President Obama did not consult Congress when he cancelled President Bush's return to the moon program. Congress has displeased ever since.

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Who Makes the Decision To Go Cloud and Who Should?

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 6:03pm
Esther Schindler writes: It's a predictable argument in any IT shop: Should the techies — with their hands on their keyboards — be the people who decide which technology or deployment is right for the company? Or should CIOs and senior management — with their strategic perspective — be the ones to make the call? Ellis Luk got input from plenty of people about management vs. techies making cloud/on-premise decisions... with, of course, a lot of varying in opinion.

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South Africans Revolutionize Concentrated Solar Power With Mini Heliostats

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 4:28pm
Taffykay writes: Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) offers significant benefits, but it's often prohibitively expensive. Paul Gauché from Stellenbosch University in South Africa hopes to change that with Helio 100, a series of 'plonkable' miniature heliostats that require no installation or concrete, and offer solar energy that's cheaper than diesel. The Gaurdian reports: "Helio100 is a pilot project with over 100 heliostats of 2.2 sq meters each, generating 150 Kilowatts (kW) of power in total – enough to power about 10 households. According to Gauché, the array is already cheaper than using diesel, the go-to fuel for most companies and businesses during regular power outages in the country.

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Is a Universal Flu Vaccine On the Horizon?

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 3:43pm
sciencehabit writes: Two groups of researchers have created vaccines that may lead to a universal flu shot that could protect against every type of flu. Every year millions get a flu shot but with thousands of strains that mutate and evolve across seasons, no one shot can protect against them all. Sciencemag reports on the research: "When the teams vaccinated mice, both groups saw full protection against H5N1, a lethal influenza strain distantly related to H1N1. In both studies, mice that did not receive the stem-derived vaccine died, but vaccinated mice all survived. In further experiments, the nanoparticle-anchoring vaccine showed partial protection in ferrets, whereas the other vaccine showed partial protection in monkeys. Two of the six vaccinated ferrets fell ill and died, compared with a 100% mortality rate for the unvaccinated ferrets. None of the monkeys died, but those that were vaccinated had significantly lower fevers than their nonvaccinated companions."

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Robots Are Coming For Our Jobs, Just Not All of Them

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 3:00pm
szczys writes: There was a video published on YouTube about a year ago called Humans Need Not Apply which compared human labor now to horse labor just before industrialization. It's a great thought-exercise, but there are a ton of tasks where it's still science-fiction to think robots are taking over anytime soon. Kristina Panos makes a great argument for which jobs we all want to see taken by robots, others that would be very difficult to make happen, and some that would just creep everyone out.

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Swatch Trademarks "One More Thing..."

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 10:34am
AmiMoJo writes: It's the famous line Steve Jobs often used on stage to introduce unexpected Apple gadgets since 1999. Of course he wasn't the only one to utter it — TV detective Columbo was catching out criminals with the phrase way back in the 1970s and '80s too. Now Swiss watchmaker Swatch has acquired a trademark on the phrase "one more thing".

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Interviews: Dr. Tarek Loubani Answers Your Questions

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 9:51am
Last week you had a chance to ask Dr. Tarek Loubani about his 3D-printable, 30-cent stethoscope project, and other open source, ultra-low cost medical equipment. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.

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A Farewell To Flash

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 9:09am
An anonymous reader writes: The decline of Flash is well and truly underway. Media publishers now have no choice but to start changing the way they bring content to the web. Many of them are not thrilled about the proposition (change is scary), but it will almost certainly be better for all of us in the long run. "By switching their platform to HTML5, companies can improve supportability, development time will decrease and the duplicative efforts of supporting two code bases will be eliminated. It will also result in lower operating costs and a consistent user experience between desktop and mobile web." This is on top of the speed, efficiency, and security benefits for consumers. "A major concern for publishers today is the amount of media consumption that's occurring in mobile environments. They need to prioritize providing the best possible experience on mobile, and the decline of Flash and movement to HTML5 will do just that, as Flash has never worked well on mobile."

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Ashley Madison Hack Claims First Victims

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 8:27am
wired_parrot writes: Toronto police are reporting that 2 unconfirmed suicides have been linked to the data breach. This follows pleas from other users of the site for the hackers to not release the data before it was exposed- an anonymous gay Reddit user from Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is illegal, pleaded for the data to be kept private: "I am about to be killed, tortured, or exiled," he wrote. "And I did nothing." And when The Intercept published a piece condemning the puritanical glee over the data dump, one user who commented on the article said she's been "a long term member" of the site because her spouse's medical condition has affected their intimate life. Her spouse knows she's engaged with other Ashley Madison members, she says, but now fears she will likely lose friends and have to find a new job now that her association with the site is out there. Ashley Madison has now offered a $380,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the hackers who leaked the data. Security researcher Troy Hunt has also posted about the kind of emails he's received from users after the data leak.

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Group Seeks Test For Geoengineering Tool To Fight Climate Change

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 7:45am
An anonymous reader writes: A group of retired engineers and scientists has been meeting for several years to develop techniques to fight climate change. They've now reached the point where they want to actively test a machine that shoots water droplets into the sky in order to supplement existing clouds and increase the planet's albedo. The group is not aiming for full deployment — in fact, it's not even unanimous in support for prevailing theories in climate science. But they all agree that it's important to learn about such technologies before the situation becomes a crisis. "We need to understand whether this approach is even possible and what the risks are, in the event that we find ourselves looking for ways to extend time and mitigate warming damage." If we're eventually forced to deploy large-scale geoengineering projects to combat climate change, it's not a good idea to grab whatever technology is cheapest or most readily available without knowing how well it works. The group is aware of the ethical concerns surrounding such research, but its director notes, "The fact is humanity is already engaged in unplanned climate engineering. We're doing it through coal plant and shipping emissions every day without understanding it very well."

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Judge Rules That Inglewood, California Cannot Copyright Public Videos

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 7:05am
UnknowingFool writes: Recently a judge ruled in California that the city of Inglewood cannot hold copyrights of videos of public city council meetings which they published on their YouTube account and thus cannot sue individuals for copyright infringement for using them. In several YouTube videos, Joseph Teixeira, a resident of Inglewood, California, criticized the mayor, James Butts. Under the account name Dehol Truth, Teixeira took city council meetings posted on their YouTube account and edited them to make pointed criticisms about the mayor. The city responded by registering the videos with copyrights and then suing Teixeira for copyright infringement. Many would say it was a thinly veiled attempt to silence a critic. Teixeira filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that (1) the city cannot claim copyright over public records (videos of public city council meetings) and (2) even if they could, his videos fell under Fair Use. Unsurprisingly, a judge dismissed the city's case, citing California law which bars the city from holding copyrights on most public records. (This case may not be over as Teixeira's pro bono lawyer has not filed for attorney's fees. The ruling can be found here.) What is notable is that the judge dismissed the case with prejudice, so the city cannot refile. Normally judges do not do this unless they feel that the plaintiff's case was so weak that he feels no judge should hear the case ever again. Since the judge agreed with the defendant on the first point, he would not normally need to address Teixeira's Fair Use defense, but he did anyway. Anticipating that the city may appeal his decision, judge ruled that Teixeira's videos substantially met all four factors for Fair Use: There is no evidence Teixeira used the videos for commercial gain and was transformative His work was creative by adding music and commentary to the normally boring council videos Despite the city's claim he used their "entire work", it clear that he only used portions of meetings that lasted as long as four hours editing them down to a max of 15 minutes. Teixeira did not harm the city's market for the videos because the city is barred by state law from recouping more than direct costs of duplication. Even if the city could sell the videos (which they published themselves for free on YouTube), his short videos are not a substitute.

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FBI Informant: Ray Bradbury's Sci-fi Written To Induce Communistic Mass Hysteria

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 6:16am
v3rgEz writes: The FBI followed Ray Bradbury's career very closely, in part because an informant warned them that his writing was not enjoyable fantasy, but rather tantamount to psychological warfare. "The general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria," the informant warned. "Which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would believe could not be won since their morale had seriously been destroyed."

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