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Internet Broadband Through High-altitude Drones

Soulskill posted 9 hours ago | from the internet-of-wings dept.

The Internet 70

mwagner writes: Skynet is coming. But not like in the movie: The future of communications is high-altitude solar-powered drones, flying 13 miles above the ground, running microwave wireless equipment, delivering broadband to the whole planet. The articles predicts this technology will replace satellites, fiber, and copper, and fundamentally change the broadband industry. The author predicts a timescale of roughly 20 years — the same amount of time between Arthur C. Clarke predicting geosynchronous satellites and their reality as a commercial business. "Several important technology milestones need to be reached along the way. The drones that will make up Skynet have a lot more in common with satellites than the flippy-flappy helicopter drone thingies that the popular press is fixated on right now. They're really effing BIG, for one thing. And, like satellites, they go up, and stay up, pretty much indefinitely. For that to happen, we need two things: lighter, higher-capacity wireless gear; and reliable, hyper-efficient solar tech."

Google Leads $542m Funding Round For Augmented Reality Wearables Company

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

Google 26

An anonymous reader writes: After rumors broke last week, Magic Leap has officially closed the deal on a $542 million Series B investment led by Google. The company has been extremely tight-lipped about what they're working on, but some digging reveals it is most likely an augmented reality wearable that uses a lightfield display. "Using our Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal, imagine being able to generate images indistinguishable from real objects and then being able to place those images seamlessly into the real world," the company teases. Having closed an investment round, Magic Leap is now soliciting developers to create for their platform and hiring a huge swath of positions.

Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the we-know-what-you-were-thinking dept.

United Kingdom 457

An anonymous reader writes with this news from the UK, as reported by Ars Technica: A 39-year-old UK man has been convicted of possessing illegal cartoon drawings of young girls exposing themselves in school uniforms and engaging in sex acts. The case is believed to be the UK's first prosecution of illegal manga and anime images. Local media said that Robul Hoque was sentenced last week to nine months' imprisonment, though the sentence is suspended so long as the defendant does not break the law again. Police seized Hoque's computer in 2012 and said they found nearly 400 such images on it, none of which depicted real people but were illegal nonetheless because of their similarity to child pornography. Hoque was initially charged with 20 counts of illegal possession but eventually pled guilty to just 10 counts.

No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the how-about-a-nice-barrett? dept.

Canada 296

ControlsGeek writes The Lee-Enfield .303 rifle is being phased out for use by the Canadian Rangers, a Northern aboriginal branch of the Armed Forces. The rifle has been in service with the Canadian military for 100 years and is still being used by the Rangers for its unfailing reliability in Arctic conditions. If only the hardware that we use in computers could have such a track record. The wheels turn slowly, though, and it's not clear what kind of gun will replace the Enfields.

The Physics of Why Cold Fusion Isn't Real

timothy posted 4 days ago | from the great-thing-about-science-is-falsifiability dept.

Science 345

StartsWithABang writes If you can reach the fabled "breakeven point" of nuclear fusion, you'll have opened up an entire new source of clean, reliable, safe, renewable and abundant energy. You will change the world. At present, fusion is one of those things we can make happen through a variety of methods, but — unless you're the Sun — we don't have a way to ignite and sustain that reaction without needing to input more energy than we can extract in a usable fashion from the fusion that occurs. One alternative approach to the norm is, rather than try and up the energy released in a sustained, hot fusion reaction, to instead lower the energy inputted, and try to make fusion happen under "cold" conditions. If you listen in the right (wrong?) places, you'll hear periodic reports that cold fusion is happening, even though those reports have always crumbled under scrutiny. Here's why, most likely, they always will.

High-Tech Walkers Could Help Japan's Elderly Stay Independent

Soulskill posted 4 days ago | from the imperial-walkers dept.

Japan 34

jfruh writes: You may have heard that Japan will deal with its aging population by relying more on robots. Osaka startup RT Works is showing what that might mean in practice: not humanoid robotic caregivers, but tech-enhanced versions of traditional tools like walkers. RT Works's walker automatically adjusts to help its user deal with hilly terrain, and can call for help if it moves outside a predefined range.

Google Fiber To Launch In Austin, Texas In December

samzenpus posted 5 days ago | from the setting-a-date dept.

Google 88

retroworks writes WSJ blog reports on Austin, the third city to get fiber-optic high speed internet networks laid down by Google (Kansas City and Provo, UT were the first and second). The service averages 1 gigabit per second, about 100X the average US household speed, and costs $70-120 per month (depending on television). Google promotes the roll-outs by holding "rallies" in small neighborhoods. The sign-up process starts in December, focusing on south and southeastern parts of Austin, a Google spokeswoman said Wednesday. It was announced that fiber was coming to Austin back in April.

Tech Workers Oppose Settlement They Reached In Silicon Valley Hiring Case

samzenpus posted about a week ago | from the on-second-thought dept.

Businesses 54

itwbennett writes Tech workers have asked an appeals court not to approve a $324.5 million settlement in Silicon Valley's controversial employee hiring case, according to a document filed Tuesday. This move by the plaintiffs puts them in alignment with an earlier decision by Judge Lucy Koh of the federal district court in San Jose to throw out the settlement on the grounds that it wouldn't pay the workers enough. Attorneys for the defendants — Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel — subsequently appealed Koh's decision.

Facebook and Apple Now Pay For Female Employees To Freeze Their Eggs

Soulskill posted about a week ago | from the putting-the-chill-in-children dept.

Facebook 246

Dave Knott writes: While freezing eggs has become an increasingly popular practice for career-oriented women, the procedure comes at a steep price: Costs typically add up to at least $10,000 for every round, plus $500 or more annually for storage. Now two Silicon Valley giants are offering women a game-changing perk: Apple and Facebook will pay for employees to freeze their eggs. They appear to be the first major employers to offer this coverage for non-medical reasons, both offering to cover costs up to $20,000. Tech firms are hardly alone in offering generous benefits to attract and keep talent, but they appear to be leading the way with egg freezing.

Advocates say they've heard murmurs of large law, consulting, and finance firms helping to cover the costs, although no one is broadcasting this support. Companies may be concerned about the public relations implications of the benefit – in the most cynical light, egg-freezing coverage could be viewed as a ploy to entice women to sell their souls to their employer, sacrificing childbearing years for the promise of promotion. Will the perk pay off for companies? The benefit will likely encourage women to stay with their employer longer, cutting down on recruiting and hiring costs. And practically speaking, when women freeze their eggs early, firms may save on pregnancy costs in the long run. A woman could avoid paying to use a donor egg down the road, for example, or undergoing more intensive fertility treatments when she's ready to have a baby. But the emotional and cultural payoff may be more valuable, helping women be more productive human beings.

"Double Irish" Tax Loophole Used By US Companies To Be Closed

Soulskill posted about a week ago | from the luck-of-the-not-irish dept.

The Almighty Buck 259

An anonymous reader writes: The Irish Finance Minister announced on Tuesday that Ireland will no longer allow companies to register in Ireland unless the companies are also tax resident. This will effectively close off the corporate tax avoidance scheme known as the "Double Irish" used by the likes of Google, Apple, and Facebook to route their earnings through their Irish holdings in order to garner an effective tax rate of, as in Google FY2013, 0.16%. Ireland's new policy will take effect in 2015 for new companies. "For existing companies, there will be provision for a transition period until the end of 2020."

Navy Tests Unpowered Exoskeleton

timothy posted about a week ago | from the not-for-body-surfing dept.

Transportation 79

gurps_npc (621217) writes "CNN has a very interesting article about an unpowered exoskeleton system called Fortis. Unlike the more famous TALOS system, this exoskeleton uses zero electricity, so it does not need batteries or an extension cord. Power requirements have always been the problem with powered exoskeletons, as batteries are heavy. The system is made out of lightweight aluminum and heavy tools connect directly to it. The weight of the tools is supported by the exoskeleton, so your arms, back and legs don't have to carry it. You only need to use muscle to move the tool, not simply carry it. The exoskeleton does not make you stronger. Instead it effectively increases your stamina by relieving fatigue caused by carrying the heavy tool.

Federal Government Removes 7 Americans From No-Fly List

Soulskill posted about a week ago | from the other-319-million-out-of-luck dept.

United States 124

An anonymous reader writes: In response to a district judge ruling that declared the Department of Homeland Security's Traveler Redress Inquiry Program unconstitutional, the federal government has annouced its removal of seven Americans from its no-fly list (PDF). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing a total of 13 people suing to get off that list, and the government has until January of this year to deal with remaining six in that group. "Federal agencies have nominated more than 1.5 million names to terrorist watch lists over the past five years alone. Yet being a terrorist isn't a condition of getting on a roster that, until now, has been virtually impossible to be removed from..." One of the seven removed from the list is Marine Corps veteran and dog trainer Ibraheim Mashal of Illinois. The others had similarly Middle-Eastern-sounding names.

Despite Push From Tech Giants, AP CS Exam Counts Don't Budge Much In Most States

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the can't-argue-with-a-pig dept.

Education 144

theodp (442580) writes "Well, the College Board has posted the 2014 AP Computer Science Test scores. So, before the press rushes out another set of Not-One-Girl-In-Wyoming-Took-an-AP-CS-Exam stories, let's point out that no Wyoming students of either gender took an AP CS exam again in 2014 (.xlsx). At the overall level, the final numbers have changed somewhat (back-of-the-Excel-envelope calculations, no warranty expressed or implied!), but tell pretty much the same story as the preliminary figures — the number of overall AP CS test takers increased, while pass rates decreased despite efforts to cherry pick students with a high likelihood of success. What is kind of surprising is how little the test numbers budged for most states — only 8 states managed to add more than 100 girls to the AP CS test taker rolls — despite the PR push by the tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, and, Facebook. Also worth noting are some big percentage decreases at the top end of the score segments (5 and 4), and still-way-too-wide gaps that exist between the score distributions of the College Board's various ethnic segments (more back of the envelope calcs). If there's a Data Scientist in the house, AP CS exam figures grabbed from the College Board's Excel 2013 and 2014 worksheets can be found here (Google Sheets) together with the (unwalkedthrough) VBA code that was used to collect it. Post your insight (and code/data fixes) in the comments!"

More Details On The 3rd-Party Apps That Led to Snapchat Leaks

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the you-didn't-really-think-they-were-secure-did-you dept.

Bug 97

Yesterday we posted a link to Computerworld's reports that (unnamed) third-party apps were responsible for a massive leak of Snapchat images from the meant-to-be-secure service. An anonymous reader writes with some more details: Ars Technica identifies the culprit as SnapSaved, which was created to allow Snapchat users to access their sent and received images from a browser but which also secretly saved those images on a SnapSaved server hosted by HostGator. Security researcher Adam Caudill warned Snapchat about the vulnerability of their API back in 2012, and although the company has reworked their code multiple times as advised by other security researchers, Caudill concludes that the real culprit is the concept behind Snapchat itself. "Without controlling the endpoint devices themselves, Snapchat can't ensure that its users' photos will truly be deleted. And by offering that deletion as its central selling point, it's lured users into a false sense of privacy."

Ex-NSA Director Keith Alexander's Investments In Tech Firms: "No Conflict"

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the picking-winners dept.

Government 59

Presto Vivace (882157) writes "No conflicts appear to exist" among Keith Alexander's investments, the NSA said. "New financial disclosure documents released this month by the National Security Agency (NSA) show that Keith Alexander, who served as its director from August 2005 until March 2014, had thousands of dollars of investments during his tenure in a handful of technology firms." Don't worry, the NSA assures us that there was no conflict of interest.

AnandTech's Intro To Semiconductor Tech

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the absolutely-fab dept.

Education 21

An anonymous reader writes: Computer hardware site AnandTech has posted a detailed introduction to semiconductor technology. It's deep enough to be insightful for understanding the chips that run your devices and the industry that built them, but also short enough that your eyes won't start bleeding in the process. The article starts by explaining why silicon is so important, and how a board is set up, structurally. Then it walks through transistor design and construction, and the underpinnings of CMOS logic. Finally, the article describes the manufacturing steps, including wafer creation, photolithography, and how metal is added/shaped at the end. They then go into the physics behind improving these components. It's a geeky and informative read.

Why the Trolls Will Always Win

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the emboldened-and-protected-by-anonymity dept.

The Internet 717

maynard writes: Kathy Sierra spent a tech career developing videogames and teaching Java programming in Sun Microsystems masterclasses. Up until 2007, she'd been a well regarded tech specialist who happened to be female. Until the day she opined on her private blog that given the crap-flood of bad comments, maybe forum moderation wasn't a bad idea. This opinion made her a target. A sustained trolling and harassment campaign followed, comprised of death and rape threats, threats against her family, fabricated claims of prostitution, and a false claim that she had issued a DMCA takedown to stifle criticism. All of this culminated in the public release of her private address and Social Security Number, a technique known as Doxxing. And so she fled from the public, her career, and even her home.

It turned out that a man named Andrew Auernheimer was responsible for having harassed Sierra. Known as 'Weev', he admitted it in a 2008 New York Times story on Internet Trolls. There, he spoke to the lengths which he and his cohorts went to discredit and destroy the woman. "Over a candlelit dinner of tuna sashimi, Weev asked if I would attribute his comments to Memphis Two, the handle he used to troll Kathy Sierra, a blogger. Inspired by her touchy response to online commenters, Weev said he "dropped docs" on Sierra, posting a fabricated narrative of her career alongside her real Social Security number and address. This was part of a larger trolling campaign against Sierra, one that culminated in death threats."

Now, seven years later, Kathy Sierra has returned to explain why she left and what recent spates of online harassment against women portend for the future if decent people don't organize. The situation has grown much more serious since she went into hiding all those years ago. It's more than just the threat of Doxxing to incite physical violence by random crazies with a screw loose.
Read on for the rest of maynard's thoughts.

Reverse Engineering the Oculus Rift DK2's Positional Tracking Tech

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the blink-and-you-won't-miss-it dept.

Input Devices 26

An anonymous reader writes The Oculus Rift DK2 VR headset hides under its IR-transparent shell an array of IR LEDs which are picked up by the positional tracker. The data is used to understand where the user's head is in 3D space so that the game engine can update the view accordingly, a critical function for reducing sim sickness and increasing immersion. Unsurprisingly, some endeavoring folks wanted to uncover the magic behind Oculus' tech and began reverse engineering the system. Along the way, they discovered some curious info including a firmware bug which, when fixed, revealed the true view of the positional tracker.

No Nobel For Nick Holonyak Jr, Father of the LED

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the only-the-blue-baby-gets-the-prize dept.

Science 276

szotz writes Nick Holonyak Jr. doesn't want to go gently into that good night. Widely regarded as the father of the LED (for his work on early visible-light devices), he's been making strongly-worded comments about being passed over for the Nobel Prize. His wife said he'd given up on getting it. But, he says, this year's physics award, to inventors of the blue LED, was just plain 'insulting'. The history the LED goes beyond and back further than Holonyak (all the way to the beginning of the 20th century), but a number of his colleagues are disappointed and/or surprised by the snub.

Goodbye, World? 5 Languages That Might Not Be Long For This World

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the glib-claims-are-easy-to-make dept.

Perl 547

Nerval's Lobster writes As developers embrace new programming languages, older languages can go one of two ways: stay in use, despite fading popularity, or die out completely. So which programming languages are slated for history's dustbin of dead tech? Perl is an excellent candidate, especially considering how work on Perl6, framed as a complete revamp of the language, began work in 2000 and is still inching along in development. Ruby, Visual Basic.NET, and Object Pascal also top this list, despite their onetime popularity. Whether the result of development snafus or the industry simply veering in a direction that makes a particular language increasingly obsolete, time comes for all platforms at one point or another. Which programming languages do you think will do the way of the dinosaurs in coming years? With COBOL still around, it's hard to take too seriously the claim that Perl or Ruby is about to die. A prediction market for this kind of thing might yield a far different list.

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