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Television

Court Upholds Ruling On Dish Network's 'Hopper' 248

Posted by samzenpus
from the hop-away dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling in favor of Dish Network, allowing the company to continue forward with it ad-skipping "Hopper" technology. From the article: 'Last year, Fox Broadcasting Company, with the support of other broadcast networks, sued Dish for its "Hopper" DVR and its "Auto Hop" feature, which automatically skips over commercials. According to the Fox, the Hopper automatically records eight days' worth of prime time programming on the four major networks that subscribers can play back on request. Beginning a few hours after the broadcast, viewers can choose to watch a program without ads. As we observed when the it started, this litigation was yet another in a long and ignominious series of efforts by content owners to use copyright law to control the features of personal electronic devices, and to capture for themselves the value of new technologies no matter who invents them.'"
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Forum Security Breach 108

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
pinkstuff writes "There has been a major security breach of the Ubuntu Forums database. Every user's email address and salted password has been taken. From the forum home page: Unfortunately the attackers have gotten every user's local username, password, and email address from the Ubuntu Forums database. The passwords are not stored in plain text, they are stored as salted hashes. However, if you were using the same password as your Ubuntu Forums one on another service (such as email), you are strongly encouraged to change the password on the other service ASAP. Ubuntu One, Launchpad and other Ubuntu/Canonical services are NOT affected by the breach."
United States

HAARP Ionospheric Research Program Set To Continue 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the tin-foil-hats dept.
cylonlover writes "Reports that the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) had been shut down permanently were apparently a bit premature. According to HAARP program manager James Keeney, the facility is only temporarily off the air while operating contractors are changed. So why does anyone care? Despite being associated with various natural disasters over the past two decades by the conspiracy fringe, HAARP is in reality a facility for studying the ionosphere. Gizmag takes a look at the goings on at HAARP – past, present, and future."
Communications

Door-To-Door Mail Delivery To End Under New Plan 867

Posted by samzenpus
from the through-rain-or-shine-snow-or-sleet-we-deliver-your-mail-to-a-centralized-location dept.
First time accepted submitter Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that under a cost-saving plan by the US Postal Service, millions of Americans accustomed to getting their mail delivered to their doors will have to trek to the curb and residents of new homes will use neighborhood mailbox clusters. 'Converting delivery away from door delivery to either curb line or centralized delivery would enable the Postal Service to provide service to more customers in less time,' says Postal Service spokeswoman Sue Brennan. More than 30 million American homes get door-to-door delivery and another 50 million get their mail dropped at their curbside mailboxes. But the Post Service, which is buckling under massive financial losses, sees savings in centralized mail delivery. Door-to-door delivery costs the Postal Service about $353 per address each year while curbside delivery costs $224, and cluster boxes cost $160 per address. But unions say it's a bad idea to end delivery to doorsteps and will be disruptive for the elderly and disabled. 'It's madness,' says Jim Sauber, chief of staff for the National Association of Letter Carriers. 'The idea that somebody is going to walk down to their mailbox in Buffalo, New York, in the winter snow to get their mail is just crazy.'"
Transportation

NTSB Calls For Wireless Tech To Enable Vehicles To Talk To Each Other 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the KITT-car dept.
Lucas123 writes "In the aftermath of a school bus accident last year, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) this week called for cars, trucks and buses to be equipped with machine-to-machine communications technology that could help vehicles avoid accidents by knowing what other vehicles are doing. In the bus accident, a Mack truck sped through an intersection slamming into the rear of the bus, killing one and injuring more than a dozen others. 'Systems such as connected vehicle technology could have provided an active warning to the school bus driver of the approaching truck as he began to cross the intersection,' the NTSB stated in its report. Among others, Intel is working with National Taiwan University on M2M technology that would allow vehicles the exchange of data, allowing each to know what's going on around them. 'We're even imagining that in the future cars would be able to ask other cars, "Hey, can I cut into your lane?" Then the other car would let you in,' said Jennifer Healey, a research scientist with Intel."
Microsoft

Microsoft Will Allow Indie Self-publishing, Debugging On Retail Xbox One 99

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the interesting-development dept.
tlhIngan writes "Microsoft was the last platform manufacturer to require that all games go through publishers, a much hated policy. Indeed, their approval process was one of the harshest around. But now Microsoft will allow indie developers to self publish, and allow retail Xbox One units to serve as developer consoles. Previously, self-publishing developers were relegated to the 'Xbox Live Indie Arcade' section, as well as developer consoles often costing upwards of $10,000 with special requirements and NDAs. This puts Microsoft's Xbox One more in line with Apple's App Store, including Microsoft's new promise of a 14-day turnaround for approvals. Microsoft's retail debug console system is to work similarly to Apple's — that is, to run pre-release code, the individual consoles used have to be registered with Microsoft."
Portables (Apple)

13-Inch Haswell-Powered MacBook Air With PCIe SSD Tested 224

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the fast-light-reasonably-priced-have-all-three dept.
MojoKid writes "In addition to the anticipated performance gains that Intel's new Haswell CPU architecture might bring to the table for their new MacBook Air, there are additional component-level upgrades that Apple baked in to their latest ultra-light notebook; namely a higher capacity 54 Whr battery and a PCI Express-based Solid State Drive (SSD). Apple still hasn't seen fit to up the ante on the MacBook Air's display, opting instead to stick with the 1440x900 TN panel carried over from the previous generation 13-inch machine, with the 11-inch variant sporting a 1366x768 native res. But in terms of performance, this is Apple's fastest Air yet, with storage throughput in excess of 700MB/sec for reads and 400MB/sec for writes, along with graphics horsepower that rivals entry level discrete GPUs, thanks to Intel's HD Graphic 5000 core in Haswell. Battery life has been improved dramatically as well, with the new Air lasting over 9 hrs on a charge, playing back 1080p video content. Apple also reduced their MSRP by $100 versus last year's model." Not too bad at around $1100. The 54Wh battery looks it improves the portability a bit.
Transportation

The Rise of Linux In In-Vehicle Infotainment 123

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the open-source-oops-hit-a-deer dept.
DeviceGuru writes "The 2014 Toyota Lexus IS reportedly will be the second major automobile to offer in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems based on Linux, following last year's introduction of the Debian-based Cadillac User Experience (CUE) IVI system, which now appears in Cadillac's XTS and SRX models. Cadillac's CUE IVI implementation was developed by GENIVI Alliance members MontaVista and Bosch and uses similar code, but is not listed as GENIVI compliant. Meanwhile, ABI Research projects that Linux will grow to 20 percent IVI market share by 2018, behind Microsoft and market leader QNX."
Power

Bill Gates Is Beginning To Dream the Thorium Dream 327

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bill-just-wants-a-vat-of-molten-salt dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "TerraPower, the Gates-chaired nuclear power company, has garnered the most attention for pursuing traveling wave reactor tech, which runs entirely on spent uranium and would rarely need to be refueled. But Terrapower just quietly announced that it's going to start seriously exploring thorium power, too."
Programming

Ingy döt Net Tells How Acmeism Bridges Gaps in the Software World (Video) 164

Posted by timothy
from the one-for-all-and-all-for-one dept.
Ingy döt Net (yes, that's his name) likes to bridge gaps in the software world. People get religious about their favorite programming languages, he says, but in the end, no matter the language, the methodology or the underlying OS, all programming is about telling computers what to do -- from "add these numbers" to complex text manipulation. Ingy compares a new app or module in the world of Free and Open Source as a gift that the creator has given to others; if that gift can be simultaneously bestowed on users of Perl, Python, and Ruby at the same time, its worth is amplified. So he proposes (and provides a growing set of tools) to make programming language irrelevant, by the sly means of encouraging people to write software using whatever their favorite tools are, but with a leaning toward using only language features which are broadly available to *other* programming languages as well. He's adopted the term Acmeism to describe this approach; Acmeists who follow his lead strive to create software that is broadly re-useable and adaptable, rather than tied only to a single platform.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Fake "Speed Enforced By Drones" Signs On California Freeways 218

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we-only-track-all-your-movements dept.
NF6X writes "CBS station KPIX reports that somebody has been installing counterfeit traffic signs on California bay area freeways, warning motorists of drone-based speed enforcement. They are professionally-made reflective metal signs of comparable style and quality to official traffic signs, and in some cases are even mounted with tamper-resistant hardware. The signs show the familiar silhouette of an MQ-1 Predator drone launching a weapon. According to KPIX, California Highway Patrol denies that they operate any drones, and states that the signs are fake."
Encryption

Anonymous Source Claims Feds Demand Private SSL Keys From Web Services 276

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the world-wide-fool-proof-cage dept.
Lauren Weinstein writes "With further confirmation of the longstanding rumor that the U.S. government (and, we can safely assume, other governments around the world) have been pressuring major Internet firms to provide their 'master' SSL keys for government surveillance purposes, we are rapidly approaching a critical technological crossroad. It is now abundantly clear — as many of us have suspected all along — that governments and surveillance agencies of all stripes — Western, Eastern, democratic, and authoritarian, will pour essentially unlimited funds into efforts to monitor Internet communications." If this is true it means that SSL/TLS to any Internet service could be useless — the authorities could simply man-in-the-middle anyone. Without knowing who has given keys over, or if anyone has given keys over... The NSA does claim encryption poses a problem for them, but honesty isn't their best attribute. The source claims that major providers at least have resisted (assuming it is happening), but that smaller companies may have folded to the pressure.
Science

New Shrew Has Spine of Steel 93

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the loki-shrew-harder-to-find dept.
sciencehabit writes "It's the size of large rat, but it can reportedly withstand the weight of an adult man standing on its back. Meet the hero shrew, a molelike creature that owes its near-mythological status to a remarkable spine, thickened by extensions of bone that interlock like fingers. The structure was thought to be unique among mammals — until now. An international team of researchers in the village of Baleko, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, made a surprising find: a slightly different shrew with a similarly 'heroic' backbone. Today in Biology Letters, they introduce Thor's hero shrew (S. thori), named for mammalogist Thorvald Holmes, but invoking the Norse god of strength. The researchers don't yet know how its strength compares to that of S. somereni. After exploring the shrews' swampy palm forests habitat, the researchers also have a new guess about why the spine evolved: They suggest that the creatures might wedge themselves between the trunk of a palm tree and the base of its leaves, then use the strength and flexion of their muscular spine to force open this crevice, revealing insect larvae—a food source that other animals can't access."
Google

Google Announces Android 4.3, Netflix, New Nexus 7, and Q Successor Chromecast 244

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the side-of-bacon dept.
At a press conference dubbed "Breakfast With Sundar," Google announced two new pieces of hardware and a minor revision to Android. Complete stories and commentary are still coming in, but in the mean time you can skim a liveblog or two First is the new Nexus 7. The hardware is slightly improved (full HD screen, better graphics, etc.). The specs managed to "leak" hours before the event through Best Buy opening preordering too early. On the software side, they've announced a minor revision to Android, 4.3. It features improved Bluetooth support (including Bluetooth 4.0), OpenGL ES 3.0, enhanced internationalization, enhanced DRM, and multi-user support. The multi-user support looks most exciting: now you can share a tablet with more than one person. One of the features Google focused on was restricted profiles: a device owner can create accounts that e.g. cannot make in-app purchases (Junior won't rack up a $3000 bill again). Bad news: Google is implementing stricter DRM for books and video, locking down the entire video stack. The consolation prize is that Netflix will work on more devices and at 1080p. Also demoed were a new version of Chrome that brings the tablet experience closer to the desktop, improved hangouts, and improved maps. Google also appears to be making a push into gaming, emphasizing tablet-only games that integrate into Google+. In addition to gaming, they have secured deals with five major textbook publishers to sell students presumably DRMed electronic textbooks that can be purchased or rented, enhanced with better search and highlighting (because PDF readers don't support those features already). As usual lately, all of the really nice additions to Android are proprietary and tied to Google services, further eroding the open nature of Android. Finally, they announced a tiny $35 dongle named Chromecast that appears to be the successor of the Nexus Q. Running Chrome OS, it connects to any HDMI port, finds your Wi-Fi network, and Just Works (tm) for online video. The online and mobile Youtube and Netflix interfaces will allow you to hit a single button and forward the video to your television as well. Google Music streaming to the television is also supported. The Chromecast looks like a handy little device, hopefully it is turns out it can be reflashed. Of course, when using your browser as a remote, all of the commands go through The Cloud. An SDK and more details on the software side of things are slated for release later today, although conspiciously absent on their supported platforms list is GNU/Linux, listing only Chrome OS and Android. Update: 07/24 18:01 GMT by U L : The Chromecast SDK is out, but with an awfully restrictive license that requires written permission from Google to distribute any cast enabled applications, which appears to make it completely incompatible with Free/Open Source software.
Input Devices

Vendetta Online Becomes the First MMO To Launch Support For the Oculus Rift. 48

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the enter-the-multiverse dept.
Incarnate-VO writes "Many-platform space MMORPG Vendetta Online has added another first, with the official launch of support for the Oculus Rift family of head-mounted VR displays. The VR adds another level of immersion to the twitch-combat space title." A few limitations: Windows only (because the Rift only supports Windows), some effects are disabled, and the developers still want to tweak things like the HUD. But it's a good first step, and supports both the low-res and high definition revisions of the Occulus Rift.
News

Edward Snowden Still Stuck At Airport, May Be Permitted Entry Into Russia Soon 205

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the jump-the-gun dept.
sl4shd0rk writes "Edward Snowden, the enlightening NSA Whistleblower, may have been granted refuge in Russia as reported by Interfax News. He has apparently been given papers (and a change of clothes) by the Russian government to allow him to soon leave the Sheremetyevo airport. The delay in exodus, cited by a Russian official, is apparently due to the 'uniqueness' of the situation being cause for thorough review of Snowden's Asylum request." Reports are conflicting; WaPo and Reuters say Snowden's Asylum application is still in limbo, whereas other sources are claiming only minor details are blocking his exit and he may be allowed to leave as early as tomorrow. What is certain is that he's not leaving today despite early reports claiming he could.
United Kingdom

British Porn-Censoring MP Has Website Defaced With Porn 266

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the dang-teenage-cyberterrorists-or-something dept.
twoheadedboy writes "Claire Perry MP, who has been the main driver of the UK government's plans for default blocking of pornography, has had her website plastered in porn by hackers. But the story only just begins there. Notable blogger Guido Fawkes, otherwise known as Paul Staines, posted on the matter, only to later be accused of sponsoring the hacking himself. During some back and forth over Twitter, it appeared Perry was 'confused,' as she said Fawkes had posted a link to the defaced page, when he had only shown a screenshot of the site. Given the backlash against the government's plans to censor porn and its technical fallacies, the event could be particularly embarrassing for Perry. She is not commenting on the matter, whilst Staines has threatened to sue unless Perry offers a retraction of her claim he had anything to do with the hack." The tweet: 'Apologies to anyone affected by the hacking of my website sponsored by @GuidoFawkes – proves so clearly what we are dealing with.' Someone needs a lesson about hypertext.
IT

NSA Can't Search Its Own Email 165

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the apt-get-install-thinthread dept.
cycoj writes "The NSA says that there is no central method to search its own email. When asked in a Freedom of Information Act request for emails with the National Geographic Channel over a specific time period, the agency, which has been collecting and analyzing the data of hundreds of millions of Internet users, says it can only perform person-per-person searches on its own email."
Security

Long Range RFID Hacking Tool To Be Released At Black Hat 73

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the arduino-powered-passport-collector dept.
msm1267 writes "Next week at the Black Hat Briefings in Las Vegas, a security researcher will release a modified RFID reader that can capture data from 125KHz low frequency RFID badges from up to three feet away. Previous RFID hacking tools must be within centimeters of a victim to work properly; this tool would allow an attacker or pen-tester to store the device inside a backpack and it would silently grab card data from anyone walking close enough to it.The researcher said the tool will be the difference between a practical and impractical attack, and that he's had 100 percent success rates in testing the device. Schematics and code will be released at Black Hat as well." Plus it's built using an Arduino.
Businesses

Apple Profit Falls 22% But iPhone Sales Are Up 251

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the everyone-needs-five-iphones dept.
New submitter marcushoward writes in with news of Apple's quarterly results. From the article: "Apple on Tuesday reported fiscal third-quarter revenues of $35.3 billion and profits of $6.9 billion, or $7.47 per share. The revenue number is basically even with Apple’s results from a year ago, but its profits were off by almost $2 billion. Revenues were mostly in line with Wall Street’s expectations of $35.09 billion and slightly above its earnings per share expectation of around $7.31. Apple itself had predicted revenues between $33.5 billion and $35.5 billion." Compared to this quarter last year, sales of Macs are about even, iPad sales dipped slightly (14.6 million vs 16 million), and iPhone sales are up quite a bit (31 million vs 26 million).
Piracy

MediaNet Sued for Licensing Unlicensed Songs 73

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the industry-pirates dept.
New submitter duSoliel wrote in with news that another musician is complaining about a lack of royalties from streaming music services. This time, however, the musician is going after MediaNet (once known as MusicNet) which acts as an intermediary source for licensing songs to streaming music services that did not manage to gain compulsory licensing from the Copyright Royalty Board. MediaNet has a storied history riddled with lawsuits from the Harry Fox agency among others; a suit brought last year alleged that around a quarter of MediaNet's catalog was improperly licensed, but was settled privately out of court. Now, Aimee Mann is suing them for failure to properly license 120 of her songs, seeking $18 million in damages. From the article: "... she entered into a license agreement in 2003 with MediaNet (then known as MusicNet). The term of the license agreement was scheduled to end in 2006 but had automatic two-year extensions unless terminated by either party. Mann's representative is said to have sent a termination notice in 2005, but nevertheless, 'MediaNet continued after the Termination Date to transmit, perform, reproduce and distribute the Compositions as part of MediaNet's service, despite having no right or license to do so.' ... Besides suing for direct infringement, Mann is also claiming that MediaNet induced its business partners to commit copyright infringement. Mann also says she has not been paid any royalties by the company since Sept. 30, 2005 with the exception of a $20 advance this past March that was returned." The perils of not having sane compulsory licensing for Internet radio?
Security

First Apps Targeting Android Key Vulnerability Found in the Wild 54

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the about-that-vendor-update-speed-problem dept.
wiredmikey writes with this tidbit from Security Week: "Earlier this month, researchers from Bluebox Security uncovered a serious vulnerability in Android that allowed for the modification of apps without affecting the cryptographic signature, making it possible for attackers to turn legitimate apps into Trojans. ... Now, Symantec says it has uncovered the first malicious apps making use of the exploit in the wild. Symantec discovered two mobile applications that were infected by an attacker, which are legitimate applications used to help find and make doctor appointments and distributed on Android marketplaces in China. 'An attacker has taken both of these applications and added code to allow them to remotely control devices, steal sensitive data such as IMEI and phone numbers, send premium SMS messages, and disable a few Chinese mobile security software applications by using root commands, if available,' Symantec explained in a blog post. ... Google has fixed the security hole in Android, but it is now in the control of handset manufacturers to produce and release the updates for mobile devices to patch the flaws."
Bitcoin

SEC Alleges 'Bitcoin Savings & Trust' Is a Ponzi Scheme 176

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-currency-new-fraud dept.
New submitter craighansen writes "The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a lawsuit against a man they allege ran a Ponzi scheme using Bitcoin. According to the complaint (PDF), during 2011-2012, Trendon Shavers, operating under the username pirateat40, collected investments of over 700,000 Bitcoins from at least 66 'investors' (a valuation of $4.5M) with the promise of as much as 7% weekly returns. These 'investors' received about 500,000 Bitcoins in returns, so on average, they're probably much better-off than investors in Madoff's scheme. Nevertheless, with the rising value of Bitcoins, the $4.5M investments would be worth $65M at recent pricing if they had actually been left in Bitcoins, which approximates the 1% per day returns that the scheme promised."
GNOME

The Last GUADEC? 376

Posted by Soulskill
from the indiana-jones-and dept.
An anonymous reader writes "How can we ensure, together, that this will not be the last GUADEC? Last year, during GUADEC, there was that running joke amongst some participants that this was the last GUADEC. It was, of course, a joke. Everybody was expecting to see each other in Brno, in 2013. One year later, most of those who were joking are not coming to GUADEC. For them, the joke became a reality. People are increasingly leaving the desktop computer to use phones, tablets and services in the cloud. The switch is deeper and quicker than anything we imagined. Projects are also leaving GTK+ for QT. Unity abandoned GTK+, Linus Torvald's Subsurface is switching from GTK+ to Qt. If you spot a GNOME desktop in a conference, chances are that you are dealing with a Red Hat employee. That's it. According to Google Trends, interest in GNOME and GTK+ is soon to be extinct."
Software

New Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 Service Packs Roll Out 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the packed-with-services dept.
jones_supa writes "While service packs are out of style for the Windows operating system, Microsoft has pushed out another service pack (SP2) for both Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 products. According to the company, they provide key updates and fixes across servers, services and applications including security, stability, and performance enhancements and better compatibility with Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10, Office 2013, and SharePoint 2013. The updates are available through Windows Update and as separate downloads."
Supercomputing

Supercomputer Becomes Massive Router For Global Radio Telescope 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Astrophysicists at MIT and the Pawsey supercomputing center in Western Australia have discovered a whole new role for supercomputers working on big-data science projects: They've figured out how to turn a supercomputer into a router. (Make that a really, really big router.) The supercomputer in this case is a Cray Cascade system with a top performance of 0.3 petaflops — to be expanded to 1.2 petaflops in 2014 — running on a combination of Intel Ivy Bridge, Haswell and MIC processors. The machine, which is still being installed at the Pawsey Centre in Kensington, Western Australia and isn't scheduled to become operational until later this summer, had to go to work early after researchers switched on the world's most sensitive radio telescope June 9. The Murchison Widefield Array is a 2,000-antenna radio telescope located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia, built with the backing of universities in the U.S., Australia, India and New Zealand. Though it is the most powerful radio telescope in the world right now, it is only one-third of the Square Kilometer Array — a spread of low-frequency antennas that will be spread across a kilometer of territory in Australia and Southern Africa. It will be 50 times as sensitive as any other radio telescope and 10,000 times as quick to survey a patch of sky. By comparison, the Murchison Widefield Array is a tiny little thing stuck out as far in the middle of nowhere as Australian authorities could find to keep it as far away from terrestrial interference as possible. Tiny or not, the MWA can look farther into the past of the universe than any other human instrument to date. What it has found so far is data — lots and lots of data. More than 400 megabytes of data per second come from the array to the Murchison observatory, before being streamed across 500 miles of Australia's National Broadband Network to the Pawsey Centre, which gets rid of most of it as quickly as possible."
AI

Google's Latest Machine Vision Breakthrough 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-now-gauge-your-receptivity-to-ads-by-scanning-your-face dept.
mikejuk writes "Google Research recently released details of a Machine Vision technique which might bring high power visual recognition to simple desktops and even mobile computers. It claims to be able to recognize 100,000 different types of object within a photo in a few minutes — and there isn't a deep neural network mentioned. It is another example of the direct 'engineering' approach to implementing AI catching up with the biologically inspired techniques. This particular advance is based on converting the usual mask-based filters to a simpler ordinal computation and using hashing to avoid having to do the computation most of the time. The result of the change to the basic algorithm is a speed-up of around 20,000 times, which is astounding. The method was tested on 100,000 object detectors using over a million filters on multiple resolution scalings of the target image, which were all computed in less than 20 seconds using nothing but a single, multi-core machine with 20GB of RAM."
Space

DIY Satellite Tracking 30

Posted by Soulskill
from the brought-to-you-by-hillbillies dept.
Travis Goodspeed has authored a blog post detailing his method of tracking low-earth-orbit satellites. Starting with an old Felcom 82B dish made for use on maritime vessels, he added motors to move it around and a webcam-based homemade calibration system. "For handling the radio input and controlling the motors, I have a BeagleBone wired into a USB hub. These are all mounted on the trunk of the assembly inside of the radome, sending data back to a server indoors. ... In order to operate the dish, I wanted both a flashy GUI and concise scripting, but scripting was the higher priority. Toward that end, I constructed the software as a series of daemons that communicate through a PostgreSQL database on a server inside the house. For example, I can run SELECT * FROM sats WHERE el>0 to select the names and positions of all currently tracked satellites that are above the horizon. To begin tracking the International Space Station if it is in view, I run UPDATE target SET name='ISS';. For predicting satellite locations, I wrote a quick daemon using PyEphem that fetches satellite catalog data from CelesTrak. These positions are held in a database, with duplicates filtered out and positions constantly updated. PyEphem is sophisticated enough to predict in any number of formats, so it's easy to track many of the brighter stars as well as planets and deep-space probes, such as Voyagers 1 and 2."

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