Taco Cowboy writes "Today, a Russian Soyuz rocket shot the first 4 of 12 satellites in a new constellation that are designed to provide affordable, high-speed Internet to people in nearly 180 'under-connected' countries. The orbiters, part of a project dubbed O3b for the 'other 3 billion' people with restricted Internet access, were built by the Franco-Italian company Thales Alenia Space. They will orbit at 8,062 km and will weigh only 650 kilogrammes (1,400 pounds) each. 'There are already geostationary satellites providing this type of services, but at a prohibitive cost for many end-users. Existing satellites generally obit at an altitude of some 36,000 kilometres (22,000 miles) above Earth, weigh in at a hefty four to six tonnes each, and take much longer to bounce a signal back to Earth—about 500 milliseconds to be exact, according to an O3b document. "It is such a long delay that people speaking over a satellite link will shorten conversations, interactive web has an extremely poor experience and many web-based software programmes just won't function." Crucially, they will communicate with Earth four times faster, said the company, and six would be enough to assure permanent coverage. "O3b's prices will be 30 — 50 percent less than traditional satellite services," said the document. ... Launch company Arianespace, which will put the satellites in orbit, said the O3b constellation will combine "the global reach of satellite coverage with the speed of a fiber-optic network." ... The next four satellites will be launched within weeks, according to Arianespace, and a final four "backup" orbiters early next year.'"
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Nerval's Lobster writes "Breaking the exaflops barrier remains a development goal for many who research high-performance computing. Some developers predicted that China's new Tianhe-2 supercomputer would be the first to break through. Indeed, Tianhe-2 did pretty well when it was finally revealed — knocking the U.S.-based Titan off the top of the Top500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers. Yet despite sustained performance of 33 petaflops to 35 petaflops and peaks ranging as high as 55 petaflops, even the world's fastest supercomputer couldn't make it past (or even close to) the big barrier. Now, the HPC market is back to chattering over who'll first build an exascale computer, and how long it might take to bring such a platform online. Bottom line: It will take a really long time, combined with major breakthroughs in chip design, power utilization and programming, according to Nvidia chief scientist Bill Dally, who gave the keynote speech at the 2013 International Supercomputing Conference last week in Leipzig, Germany. In a speech he called 'Future Challenges of Large-scale Computing' (and in a blog post covering similar ground), Dally described some of the incredible performance hurdles that need to be overcome in pursuit of the exaflops barrier."
bshell writes "The Verge has a great photo-essay about Tûranor PlanetSolar, the first boat to circle the globe with solar power. 'The 89,000 kg (nearly 100 ton) ship needs a massive solar array to capture enough energy to push itself through the ocean. An impressive 512 square meters (roughly 5,500 square feet) of photovoltaic cells, to be exact, charge the 8.5 tons of lithium-ion batteries that are stored in the ship's two hulls.' The boat is currently in NYC. Among other remarkable facts, the captain (Gérard d'Aboville) is one of those rare individuals who solo-rowed across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, journeys that took 71 and 134 days, respectively. The piece has a lot of detail about control systems and design."
StonyCreekBare writes "How can an autodidact get past the jobs screening process? I have a long track record of success, despite limited formal education. Despite many accomplishments, published papers, and more, I cannot seem to get past the canned hiring process and actually get before a hiring manager. Traditional hiring processes seem to revolve around the education and degrees one holds, not one's track record and accomplishments. Now as an older tech-worker I seem to encounter a double barrier by being gray-haired as well. All prospective employers seem to see is a gray-haired old guy with no formal degrees. The jobs always seem to go to the younger guys with impressive degrees, despite a total lack of accomplishment. How can an accomplished, if gray-haired, self-educated techie get a foot in the door?"
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier today, Nvidia released its latest graphics card: the Geforce GTX 760. A followup to last month's GTX 770 launch, the new GTX 760 is the fourth 700-series card since the company launched the GTX Titan back in February. Sporting 1,152 CUDA cores, 96 TMUs, 32 ROPS, a 256-bit memory interface that effectively runs at 6 GHz, a base clock of 980 MHz, and a Boost speed of up to 1,033 MHz, the newly-minted GTX 760 is offered at a price point of $250. Benchmark results are available from all the usual suspects: AnandTech, HotHardware, PC Magazine, PCPer, and Tom's Hardware. To make a long story short, Nvidia's new card edges out AMD's equally-priced Radeon HD 7950 Boost Edition, and even goes toe-to-toe with the $300 Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition. Factoring out AMD's incredible Never Settle game bundles, and looking purely at performance, the GTX 670 allows Nvidia to cinch up the mainstream gaming price point." Reader crookedvulture adds, "The $250 card is an updated spin on an existing GPU, so it doesn't raise the bar dramatically. In fact, the GTX 760 achieves rough performance parity with the Radeon HD 7950 Boost, which costs just a little bit more. The situation is similar at around $400, where the contest between the GeForce GTX 770 and Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition is a toss-up overall. These price/performance scatter plots paint the picture clearly. AMD has largely resolved its previous frame latency issues with new drivers, making the battle between GeForce and Radeon more about extras than performance. Nvidia offers software to optimize game settings and record gameplay sessions, while AMD includes download codes for recent games. You really can't go wrong either way."
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Daily News reports that a startup company in Manhattan is putting robotic key copying machines in 7-Eleven stores. The machines can automatically create physical copies of common apartment and office keys. What's more interesting is that they allow users to save digital copies of their keys, which can later be created when the original is lost or the user is locked out of their home."
tripleevenfall sends in a story at Yahoo Finance forecasting the end of Barnes & Noble. Quoting: "The last nationwide book retailer may be writing its final chapter. Barnes & Noble's latest quarterly results show a 7.4% drop in revenues and a $122 million loss for the fourth-quarter of its fiscal year. B&N's disastrous focus on making Nook e-Readers is weighing heavily on the chain's operations. A 17% drop in Nook revenues and stunning $475 million loss for the device division in 2013 are hobbling the company's ability to keep its stores afloat. B&N appears to be cannibalizing itself with branded tablets and cross-platform e-reader applications, which render the stores increasingly irrelevant."
Ouya, the Android-based game console that arose out of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, officially launched today. The $99 device quickly sold out at a number of retailers, including Amazon and GameStop. "According to Ouya, the console currently has more than 170 downloadable games, as well as a built-in software development kit that enables people to create and test titles right from the hardware." Many reviews of the console suggest the controllers are not very good, and there are reports that the Wi-Fi connectivity can be flaky. There's also a lot of commentary about Ouya that clearly came from unrealistic expectations of what a $99 device can provide. Most of the backers from the Kickstarter campaign have received their consoles, but some are still waiting as Ouya tries to sort out shipping problems with DHL.
Today President Obama gave a speech outlining the administration's plan to take on climate change. (Video of the speech available on YouTube, and the White House published an infographic as well.) Most significantly, Obama's plan would have the EPA set limits on carbon pollution from all U.S. power plants, a goal already meeting resistance from Republicans. The plan also sets the goal of funding enough solar- and wind-based energy projects on public lands to power over 6 million homes by 2020. By 2030, it aims to use efficiency standards to reduce carbon pollution by 3 billion metric tons. Obama called for new efforts to deal with extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy. He also pointed out the difficulty in getting emerging industrial economies to be environmentally conscious. To that end, the plan calls for the end of U.S. support for financing coal power plants in foreign countries, unless those plants use carbon capture and sequestration technologies. The speech addressed the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry up to 800,000 gallons of oil per day from Canada into the U.S. Obama indicated that approval for the pipeline would be tied to emissions goals.
astroengine writes "Gliese 667C is a well-studied star lying only 22 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius, but it appears to have been hiding a pretty significant secret. The star has at least six exoplanets in orbit, three of which orbit within the star's "habitable zone" — the region surrounding a star that's not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist on their surfaces. Astronomers already knew that Gliese 667C had three worlds in orbit, one in the star's habitable zone, but the finding of three more exoplanets, two of which are also in the habitable zone is a huge discovery. Finding one small planet in a star's habitable zone is exciting, but finding three is historic. 'The number of potentially habitable planets in our galaxy is much greater if we can expect to find several of them around each low-mass star — instead of looking at ten stars to look for a single potentially habitable planet, we now know we can look at just one star and find several of them,' said Rory Barnes, of the University of Washington, co-author of the study, in an ESO press release Tuesday (June 25)."
An anonymous reader notes that the FTC has sent letters to search engine companies (PDF) telling them to make sure advertisements are clearly distinguishable from search results. "According to both the FTC staff's original search engine guidance and the updated guidance, failing to clearly and prominently distinguish advertising from natural search results could be a deceptive practice. The updated guidance emphasizes the need for visual cues, labels, or other techniques to effectively distinguish advertisements, in order to avoid misleading consumers, and it makes recommendations for ensuring that disclosures commonly used to identify advertising are noticeable and understandable to consumers. The letters note that the principles of the original guidance still apply, even as search and the business of search continue to evolve. The letters observe that social media, mobile apps, voice assistants on mobile devices, and specialized search results that are integrated into general search results offer consumers new ways of getting information. The guidance advises that regardless of the precise form that search takes now or in the future, paid search results and other forms of advertising should be clearly distinguishable from natural search results."
Today's video conversation guest is Alex Heid, whose HackMiami title is Senior Security Researcher. The group started as a non-profit but is now technically a for-profit company that gets work from local businesses and shares it (and the fees it generates) among HackMiami members. You're welcome to join them at one of the regular meetings they hold at Planet Linux Caffe in Coral Gables (which, for those who care, is one of few businesses in the Miami area that accepts Bitcoins) and at other local venues, or at their annual conference, although you have a pretty long wait ahead of you for that; the next one is scheduled for May, 2014. Meanwhile, if you want to start something similar to HackMiami in your area, Alex has some good tips for you, including the idea of checking out -- and listing your group on -- the Hackerspaces Web site.
jfruh writes "COBOL, it's finally becoming clear, isn't going away any time soon; there are far too many business-criticial applications written in it that work perfectly well for that to happen. This reality could be a career boon for IT staff. Need to learn the ins and outs of COBOL? Your employer may well pay for your training. Just getting started in IT? COBOL can provide a niche that gets you a first job."
It's been over 13 years since we did a Q&A with Linux International executive director Jon "maddog" Hall. For decades, maddog has been one of the highest profile advocates for free and open source software. He is currently working on Project Caua which aims "to promote more efficient computing following the thin client/server model, while creating up to two million privately-funded high-tech jobs in Brazil, and another three to four million in the rest of Latin America." He's also gearing up for FISL in Brazil, and helping to plan the FOSS part of Campus Party Europe in London. maddog has graciously agreed to find time to answer some of your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
simonstl writes "The IRS wasn't after just the Tea Party, Progressives, or Medical Marijuana: Open Source Software was a regular on IRS watch lists from 2010 to 2012. Did they think it was a for-profit scam, or did they just not understand the approach?"
itwbennett writes "There's a lot to like about Google Voice, including 'voicemail transcriptions, the ability to send and receive unlimited text messages by phone or website, and recording incoming calls,' says Voice convert Kevin Purdy. But when it comes to app integration, Voice is falling short — even on Android phones: 'Most apps that do neat things with incoming texts, like read them out loud when you're driving, can't work with Voice. Tasker, a crazy, nerdy automation tool that can do things like turn your volume up when you get a text from your wife, can't work with Voice.... Online services that text you to verify or remind you are about 50/50.' Google employee Nikhyl Singhal wrote in a Google+ post that 'Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice.' But what Voice users like Purdy are looking for is some sort of 'assurance that Google Voice can work just like any other text messaging system.'"
First time accepted submitter ozspeed writes "I live in Australia where I've been enjoying the luxury of taking legally purchased music and film and ripping them for my personal enjoyment on my digital media devices; all legal and above board in my country. I'm about to move to the U.S. for a few years and wondered if I would get into trouble if I tried to bring them across the border with me. Any Slashdot been in a similar position, or have a good view of the law on this?" The U.S. has claimed broad data-snooping rights at the border (though some common sense may have broken out, too), but I've never heard of anyone hassled for this reason; have you?
An anonymous reader writes "China's state-run media is calling on the country's wireless carriers to move away from Cisco products. According to reports, using Cisco products allows the U.S. to 'attack China almost at will,' and forms a 'terrible security threat.' Chinese officials are urging the companies' wireless carriers to switch to hardware made by Huawei and ZTE Corp. Citing cybersecurity concerns, the United States has banned the use of equipment from both Huawei and ZTE in its cellular networks. Cisco has not yet been named in documents describing the NSA's global wiretapping operations. Apple, a company named in leaked documents, has slashed iPhone production for the second half of this year on falling overseas sales."
New submitter no bloody nickname writes "The BBC reports that well-known U.S. author Richard Matheson has passed away. He was 87 years old. Mathesons prolific career lasted for more than 60 years and his works include the novels Hell House, The Shrinking Man, A Stir of Echoes, and I am legend. Matheson also wrote for television and cinema. Among the screenplays he wrote were the Spielberg movie Duel as well as multiple episodes of The Twilight Zone. Several of his novels have also been adapted into movies. In the case of I Am Legend this was done not just once but three times. Matheson continued to write books until recently and his most recently published book Generations was released in 2012." Adds reader Dave Knott: "Richard Matheson was a recipient of lifetime achievement recognition in both fantasy (World Fantasy Awards, 1984) and horror (Bram Stoker Awards, 1991), and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010. Matheson passed away on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles."
An anonymous reader writes "After IBM reported disappointing Q1 earnings in March, to nobody's surprise, layoffs (RAs or 'Resource Actions' in IBM parlance) were announced two months later; June 12 seemed to be when most of the pink slips were handed out. While this is hardly a novel occurrence at IBM, this time the RA'd employee water cooler page is now open for everyone's inspection, and Cringely let loose with some predictable I-told-you-so's about financially oriented IBM senior management. Dan Burger at IT Jungle has a more numbers-oriented take on the latest round of layoffs."
DW100 writes "A ruling this morning from the European Court of Justice has said that Google does not have to delete personal data from its search index, in a case that could have huge ramifications for web privacy and the so-called 'right to be forgotten.'" From the article: EU Advocate General Niilo Jääskinen "said Google and other search engines are not subject to privacy requirements under current European data protection law. 'Search engine service providers are not responsible, on the basis of the Data Protection Directive, for personal data appearing on web pages they process,' he said in his official ruling, published by the court. He went on to explain that based on current laws citizens do not have a right to be removed from search indexes within the framework of the Data Protection Directive. 'The Directive does not establish a general "right to be forgotten." Such a right cannot therefore be invoked against search engine service providers on the basis of the Directive,' he said."
rujholla writes "Microsoft has been trying to push Apple's iPad aside in favor of Surface tablets in schools, and now the Windows giant is looking to take on Google when it comes to search for students. Microsoft is including features such as allowing K-12 schools to remove advertisements from search results and enhanced privacy controls. Is this enough to beat the Google search quality edge? Or does that edge even still exist?"
Bruce66423 writes "The Guardian reports that two U.S. senators have written to the NSA telling it to amend its 702 provisions fact sheet (PDF) which, they claim, contains inaccuracies. However they can't actually say HOW they are inaccurate, because they would be compromising classified information. So the U.S. government uses taxpayer money to lie to the people... there's a surprise!" From the letter: "In our judgment, this inaccuracy is significant, as it portrays protections for Americans' privacy as being significantly stronger than they actually are." But they go on to say "We appreciate your attention to this matter. We believe that the U.S. government should have broad authorities to investigate terrorism and espionage, and that it is possible to aggressively pursue terrorists without compromising the constitutional rights of ordinary Americans. Achieving this goal depends not just on secret courts and secret congressional hearings, but on informed public debate as well."
New submitter Optimal Cynic writes "Slashdot likes to argue about intellectual property and patents, and it's clear that both extremes are undesirable. Dr Alex Tabarrok has tackled the question — what is the right level of patent protection? His answer is the Tabarrok Curve, which applies the Laffer Curve methodology to innovation."
cylonlover writes "It wasn't long ago that asteroid mining was only found in the pages of science fiction. Now, with increasing interest in the commercial exploitation of space, companies are springing up to turn asteroids from things that Bruce Willis blows up into raw materials for future travellers and colonists. One such firm is Planetary Resources, which is currently winding up a Kick Starter campaign aimed at raising public awareness about asteroid mining by offering the public access to a space telescope. Gizmag visits the company's Bellevue, Washington headquarters and talks to the President and Chief Engineer, Chris Lewicki." Long, but worth the time.
hypnosec writes "Under new EU regulations ISPs and Telcos serving European customers will have to come clean within 24 hours in case of a security or data breach that leads to theft, loss, or compromise of data. Companies will have to disclose the nature and size of the breach within the first 24 hours. Whenever it's not possible to submit such data, they must provide 'initial information' within the stipulated time and full details within three days. Under the new terms the affected organizations will be required to reveal information such as information that has been compromised and the steps that have been taken or will be taken to resolve the situation. If the breach 'is likely to adversely affect' personal information or privacy, affected businesses and consumers will be notified of the breach."