whoever57 writes "On Saturday, Oracle Team USA and Team New Zealand will begin racing for the America's Cup in the amazing AC72 boats. However, the Oracle team starts with a significant handicap. It was recently discovered that members of Oracle Team USA made illegal changes to the boats used in the America's Cup Series (which is sailed in the smaller AC45 boats). After a hearing on Friday, the International Jury has decided on the penalty: Team Oracle will have to pay a fine and sail without some team members. More significantly, they lose two points before starting the America's Cup races against Team New Zealand. A tiny amount of weight had been added to the kingpost, in violation of the measurement rules for the class. This was reported to the measurement committee some weeks ago after its discovery by boatbuilders working for America's Cup Regatta Management (ACRM), not members of Oracle Team USA."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Meeks has announced that the core of SUSE's LibreOffice team is moving over to Collabora, which will now be providing commercial LibreOffice support. 'It seems to me that the ability to say "no" to profitable but peripheral business in order to strategically focus the company is a really important management task. In the final analysis I'm convinced that this is the right business decision for SUSE. It will allow Collabora's Productivity division to focus exclusively on driving LibreOffice into Windows, Mac and Consulting markets that are peripheral to SUSE. It will also retain the core of the existing skill base for the benefit of SUSE's customers, and the wider LibreOffice community, of which openSUSE is an important part.'"
kkleiner writes "Boston-based Harvest Automation has made good on its mission to bring robots into the world of agriculture by introducing Harvey, a bot tasked with the rather modest job of moving plants around in nurseries and greenhouses because people aren't keen on doing the laborious work. At a price point of $30k each, two bots would cost the same as three unskilled human laborers who earn about $20k annually not to mention medical bills due to injury. Harvey's job may not be flashy, but considering the potted plant industry is valued at $50 billion, the bot's little impact could translate into significant money."
DeviceGuru writes "SolidRun refreshed its line of tiny 2 x 2 x 2-inch mini-PCs with four new community-backed models based on 1.2GHz multi-core Freescale i.MX6 SoCs. The CuBox-i devices support Android 4.2.2 and Linux, offer HDMI, S/PDIF, IR, eSATA, GbE, USB, WiFi, and Bluetooth interfaces (depending on model). All the models offer 1.2GHz clock speeds, OpenGL/ES 2.0 3D support, and video acceleration for 1080p video, while the two higher-end ones supply more robust GPUs that add OpenCL 1.1 support."
Programmer Steve Losh has written a lengthy explanation of what separates good documentation from bad, and how to go about planning and writing documentation that will actually help people. His overarching point is that documentation should be used to teach, not to dump excessive amounts of unstructured information onto a user. Losh takes many of the common documentation tropes — "read the source," "look at the tests," "read the docstrings" — and makes analogies with learning everyday skills to show how silly they can be. "This is your driving teacher, Ms. Smith. ... If you have any questions about a part of the car while you’re driving, you can ask her and she’ll tell you all about that piece. Here are the keys, good luck!" He has a similar opinion of API strings: "API documentation is like the user’s manual of a car. When something goes wrong and you need to replace a tire it’s a godsend. But if you’re learning to drive it’s not going to help you because people don’t learn by reading alphabetized lists of disconnected information." Losh's advice for wikis is simple and straightforward: "They are bad and terrible. Do not use them."
sciencehabit writes "Ebola, HIV, influenza, MERS. Plenty of animal viruses cause devastating diseases in humans. But nature might have many more in store. In a new study, U.S. researchers estimate that there are more than 320,000 unknown viruses lurking in mammals alone (abstract). Identifying all the viruses in mammals would be a huge boon to scientists and epidemiologists, Daszak says. If an animal virus begins spreading to humans, they could use the new sequences to quickly pinpoint its source. In the lab, they could study the newfound viruses to see which are most likely to jump to humans and then prepare vaccines or drugs, he says. 'It would be the beginning of the end for pandemics.' A complete viral inventory would also carry a hefty price tag: about $6.3 billion, the authors estimate. 'But you have to put that into perspective,' says Daszak, pointing to the 2003 SARS outbreak. That pandemic alone is estimated to have cost between $15 billion and $50 billion in economic losses."
cold fjord sends news that a study by Coverity has found open-source Python code to contain a lower defect density than any other language. "The 2012 Scan Report found an average defect density of .69 for open source software projects that leverage the Coverity Scan service, as compared to the accepted industry standard defect density for good quality software of 1.0. Python's defect density of .005 significantly surpasses this standard, and introduces a new level of quality for open source software. To date, the Coverity Scan service has analyzed nearly 400,000 lines of Python code and identified 996 new defects — 860 of which have been fixed by the Python community."
In August Phil Shapiro wrote an article that asked the question, Can 50 Closed Chicago Schools Become 50 Makerspaces? Now, in September, we have a ruminative interview with him about schools, makerspaces, and how making places where kids (and adults) can make things and generally tinker with tools and get used to the idea of working with their hands to create new things and to repair old ones. For many of us in previous generations, our "makerspace" was our garage or basement, and our mentor was Dad. Today, this doesn't seem to be the case in a lot of homes. Besides, working with others is safer than working alone, and even if we bowl alone there is no good social or biological reason for us to create alone -- especially if we have a congenial makerspace nearby.
An anonymous reader writes "After the airline lost his father's luggage (and presumably was less than helpful in resolving the issue), one man decided to use Twitter's self-serve ad platform to issue a warning to fellow travelers in the New York and UK markets. The tweets have gotten the attention not only of media outlets, but also of fellow airlines. A JetBlue executive even retweeted it. While companies use the platform to target customers, it's interesting to see it being turned around."
Zothecula writes "Skype has been around for ten years now. Once a science fiction dream, the video calling service has 300 million users making two billion minutes of video calls a day. One problem: most of them can't look each other in the eye. Claudia Kuster, a doctoral student at the Computer Graphics Laboratory ETH Zurich, and her team are developing a way to bring eye contact to Skype and similar video services with software that alters the caller's on-screen image to give the illusion that they're looking straight at the camera."
Today Google revealed that the next major version of the Android mobile operating system will be called 'KitKat.' The naming convention has always used sugary snacks in alphabetical order — Jelly Bean (4.1 - 4.3) followed Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), which followed Honeycomb (3.1 - 3.2), which followed Gingerbread (2.3), and so on. Unlike the previous releases, KitKat is named after an actual product, rather than a generic treat. Thus, Google contacted Nestle, who was happy to jump on board and take advantage of the cross-marketing opportunities. According to an article at the BBC, the Android team was originally going to use 'Key Lime Pie,' but they decided it wasn't familiar enough to most people. After finding some KitKat bars in the company fridge, they made the choice to switch. Nestle was on board 'within an hour' of hearing the idea.
minstrelmike writes "Japan is planning to install a two-mile, subterranean ice wall around the Fukushima nuclear plant. 'The ice wall would freeze the ground to a depth of up to 30 meters (100 feet) through a system of pipes carrying a coolant as cold as minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 Fahrenheit). That would block contaminated water from escaping from the facility's immediate surroundings, as well as keep underground water from entering the reactor and turbine buildings, where much of the radioactive water has collected.' The technology they're using has not been used to that extent before, nor for more than a couple years. An underground water expert said, 'the frozen wall won't be ready for another two years, which means contaminated water would continue to leak out.' But at least they have a $470 million plan ready to present to the Olympic committee choosing between Madrid, Istanbul or Tokyo."
hypnosec writes that software developer Michael Koziarski has released a bookmarklet "which he claims has the ability to reveal Mega users' master key. Koziarski went on to claim that Mega has the ability to grab its users' keys and use them to access their files. Dubbed MegaPWN, the tool not only reveals a user's master key, but also gives away a user's RSA private key exponent. 'MEGApwn is a bookmarklet that runs in your web browser and displays your supposedly secret MEGA master key, showing that it is not actually encrypted and can be retrieved by MEGA or anyone else with access to your computer without you knowing,' reads an explanation about the bookmarklet on its official page."
An anonymous reader writes "The Diplomat reports on the 2006 National Medium to Long-term Plan (MLP) for the Development of Science and Technology, China's most ambitious national science and technology plan to date. The MLP consists of sixteen megaprojects — both civilian and military — that serve as 'S&T vanguard programs designed to transform China's science & technology capabilities in areas such as electronics, semiconductors, [and] telecommunications.' Thirteen of the megaprojects are listed in the MLP, while three are classified for national security reasons. The three classified megaprojects are likely the military components of the Shenguang Laser Project (used for thermonuclear weapons), the Beidou 2 Satellite Navigation System, and the Hypersonic Vehicle Technology Project."
First time accepted submitter manu0601 writes "Since the NSA snoops, intercepts and store our e-mails forever, why not use it as a backup service? It just lacks the API to restore files, therefore this guy [YouTube video] called the NSA to ask for a backup restoration. Guess what? It did not work." After all, why should we have to pay twice for services already performed with tax dollars?
nk497 writes "Amazon is bundling ebooks with print copies for the first time, via its Kindle MatchBook programme, admitting that 'bundling print and digital has been one of the most requested features from customers.' The digital copies won't all be free — as with AutoRip, which offers free MP3s for selected CDs and records — but Amazon promises to charge no more than $3 per digital copy. The programme will apply to books bought as far back as Amazon's 1995 launch. So far, only 10,000 books are listed as being part of Kindle MatchBook, but Amazon hopes to add more, telling publishers it 'adds a new revenue stream.'"
damnbunni writes "Frederik Pohl, one of the last Golden Age science fiction authors, passed away on September 2nd of respiratory distress, as reported on his blog. Pohl is perhaps best known for his Heechee Saga novels, beginning with Gateway in 1977, but his work in pulp magazines in the '30s and '40s helped give rise to science fiction fandom."
nbauman writes "According to Gina Kolata in the New York Times, The Institute of Education Sciences in the Department of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, has supported 175 randomized controlled studies, like the studies used in medicine, to find out what works and doesn't work, which are reported in the What Works Clearinghouse. Surprisingly, the choice of instructional materials — textbooks, curriculum guides, homework, quizzes — can affect achievement as much as teachers; poor materials have as much effect as a bad teacher, and good materials can offset a bad teacher's deficiencies. One popular math textbook was superior to 3 competitors. A popular computer-assisted math program had no benefit. Most educators, including principals and superintendents, don't know the data exists. 42% of school districts had never heard of the clearinghouse. Up to 90% of programs that seemed promising in small studies had no effect or made achievement scores worse. For example a program to increase 7th-grade math teachers' understanding of math increased their understanding but had no effect on student achievement. Upward Bound had no effect."
cartechboy writes "Lets just say Elon Musk may need to go battery shopping, like, big-time. Here's some little-understood Tesla math that could turn the global market for cylindrical lithium-ion cells upside down by 2015. It turns out the massive Model S battery takes almost 2,000 times the number of cells a basic laptop does. Assume Tesla just doubles production from its current 21K cars/year to 40K cars/year. (Something it expects to do by 2015). At that point, Tesla would require the *entire* existing global capacity for 18650 commodity cells. That assumes no other growth, no next gen model, nada. What should Elon do? Better get on the horn to Panasonic and Samsung."
MojoKid writes "Low-power parts for hand-held devices may be all the rage right now, but today Intel is taking the wraps off a new high-end desktop processor with the official unveiling of its Ivy Bridge-E microarchitecture. The Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition processor is the flagship product in Intel's initial line-up of Ivy Bridge-E based CPUs. The chip is manufactured using Intel's 22nm process node and features roughly 1.86 billion transistors, with a die size of approximately 257mm square. That's about 410 million fewer transistors and a 41 percent smaller die than Intel's previous gen Sandy Bridge-E CPU. The Ivy Bridge-E microarchitecture features up to 6 active execution cores that can each process two threads simultaneously, for support of a total of 12 threads, and they're designed for Intel's LGA 2011 socket. Intel's Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition processor has a base clock frequency of 3.6GHz with a maximum Turbo frequency of 4GHz. It is easily the fastest desktop processor Intel has released to date when tasked with highly-threaded workloads or when its massive amount of cache comes into play in applications like 3D rendering, ray tracing, and gaming. However, assuming similar clock speeds, Intel's newer Haswell microarchitecture employed in the recently released Core i7-4770K (and other 4th Gen Core processors) offers somewhat better single-core performance."
grrlscientist writes "A recently published study of captive-bred whooping cranes found that young birds learn their migration routes over many years, and migrating alongside older birds improves the migratory efficiency of younger birds." The NPR version of the story is worth a listen, too.
mask.of.sanity writes "Hundreds of thousands of internet-accessible devices manufactured Chinese telco ZTE have been found with default or hardcoded usernames and passwords. The devices were discovered in analysis of the huge dataset from the Internet Census run this year. ZTE topped the charts, accounting for 28 percent of all affected devices worldwide. Only one manufacturer has responded to the researcher's bid to supply the data in efforts to stop production of insecure devices."
theodp writes "Friday saw the launch of Rupert Murdoch's AP Computer Science MOOC. Taught by an AP CS high school teacher, the Java-centric course has students use the DrJava lightweight development environment for the exercises. 'If this MOOC works,' said Amplify CEO Joel Klein, 'we can think of ways to expand and support it.' Only the first week's videos are posted; course content is scheduled to be presented through March, with five weeks thereafter set aside for AP Exam prep. Might as well check it out, you may have helped pay for it — a MOOC-related Amplify job listing notes that 'This position may be funded, in whole or in part, through American Recovery & Reinvestment Act funds.'"
schwit1 writes in with a link to a recent interview with Chris Kraft, founder of Mission Control, discussing the impracticality of the SLS, and why the best and brightest are slowing leaving NASA. From the article: "The problem with the SLS is that it's so big that makes it very expensive. It's very expensive to design, it's very expensive to develop. When they actually begin to develop it, the budget is going to go haywire. They're going to have all kinds of technical and development issues crop up, which will drive the development costs up. Then there are the operating costs of that beast, which will eat NASA alive if they get there. ... You go talk to the guys who were doing Constellation (NASA's now-scuttled plan to return to the moon), and the reason they came to NASA was to go back to the moon. They're all leaving now. The leaders are leaving for a lot of other reasons also, but they're leaving because there's no future that they want to be involved in. And that's unfortunate."
judgecorp writes "Yahoo has closed its news and community services in China, having already closed its email services there. A farewell message on Yahoo's Chinese site doesn't say much, but it seems Yahoo is ceding the territory to Chinese firm Alibaba, in whom it has a stake."
Many submitted, and symbolset emailed me to wake up, sending this bit of interesting news out of Redmond: "Microsoft Corporation and Nokia Corporation today announced that the Boards of Directors for both companies have decided to enter into a transaction whereby Microsoft will purchase substantially all of Nokia's Devices & Services business, license Nokia's patents, and license and use Nokia's mapping services. Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will pay EUR 3.79 billion to purchase substantially all of Nokia's Devices & Services business, and EUR 1.65 billion to license Nokia's patents, for a total transaction price of EUR 5.44 billion in cash. Microsoft will draw upon its overseas cash resources to fund the transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014, subject to approval by Nokia's shareholders, regulatory approvals and other closing conditions." And, yep, Elop is part of the deal (quoting Ballmer): "Stephen Elop will be coming back to Microsoft, and he will lead an expanded Devices team, which includes all of our current Devices and Studios work and most of the teams coming over from Nokia, reporting to me."
eionmac writes "A new London skyscraper dubbed the 'Walkie Talkie' has been blamed for reflecting light which melted parts of a car parked on a nearby street."
mendax writes "The New York Times reports that the Russian government is warning its citizens to not travel to countries that have an extradition treaty with the United States, noting that 'detentions of Russian citizens in various countries, at the request of American law enforcement, have become more frequent.' The article reports the Russian foreign ministry as saying,'Experience shows that the judicial proceedings against those who were in fact kidnapped and taken to the U.S. are of a biased character, based on shaky evidence, and clearly tilted toward conviction.'"