An anonymous reader writes "NVIDIA's next-generation Tegra K1 ARM processor now has open-source support for its Kepler-based graphics. NVIDIA decided to submit a large queue of patches to the open-source, reverse-engineered Nouveau project for supporting their ARM Kepler graphics with the open-source driver. The patches are still experimental but this is the first time NVIDIA has contributed open-source code to Nouveau."
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Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Phillip Swarts reports in the Washington Times that NASA is completing a $350 million rocket-engine testing tower at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi that it doesn't want and will never use. 'Because the Constellation Program was canceled in 2010, the A-3's unique testing capabilities will not be needed and the stand will be mothballed upon completion (PDF),, said NASA's inspector general. The A-3 testing tower will stand 300 feet and be able to withstand 1 million pounds of thrust (PDF). The massive steel structure is designed to test how rocket engines operate at altitudes of up to 100,000 feet by creating a vacuum within the testing chamber to simulate the upper reaches of the atmosphere. Although NASA does not expect to use the tower after construction, it's compelled by legislation from Sen. Roger F. Wicker (R-MS), who says the testing tower will help maintain the research center's place at the forefront of U.S. space exploration. 'Stennis Space Center is the nation's premier rocket engine testing facility,' says Wicker. 'It is a magnet for public and private research investment because of infrastructure projects like the A-3 test stand. In 2010, I authored an amendment to require the completion of that particular project, ensuring the Stennis facility is prepared for ever-changing technologies and demands.' Others disagree, calling the project the 'Tower of Pork' and noting that the unused structure will cost taxpayers $840,000 a year to maintain. 'Current federal spending trends are not sustainable, and if NASA can make a relatively painless contribution to deficit reduction by shutting down an unwanted program, why not let it happen?' says Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union. 'It's not rocket science, at least fiscally.'"
David W. White writes "Years ago ago those of us who used any *nix desktop ('every morning when you wake up, the house is a little different') were seen as willing to embrace change and spend hours tinkering and configuring until we got new desktop versions to work the way we wanted, while there was an opposite perception of desktop users over in the Mac world ('it just works') and the Windows world ('it's a familiar interface'). However, a recent article in Datamation concludes that 'for better or worse, [Linux desktop users] know what they want — a classic desktop — and the figures consistently show that is what they are choosing in far greater numbers than GNOME, KDE, or any other single graphical interface.' Has the profile of the Linux desktop user changed to a more pragmatic one? Or is it just the psychology of user inertia at work, when one considers the revolt against changes in the KDE, GNOME, UNITY and Windows 8 interfaces in recent times?"
swellconvivialguy writes "Fifty-five years ago, nine young Russians died under suspicious circumstances during a winter hiking trip in the Ural mountains. Despite an exhaustive investigation and the recovery of the group's journals and photographs, the deaths remained unexplained, blamed on 'an unknown compelling force.' Now American film and television producer Donnie Eichar believes he has solved the mystery of the Dyatlov Pass Incident. Working in conjunction with scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, CO, Eichar developed a theory that the hikers died because they panicked in the face of infrasound produced by a Kármán vortex street."
chicksdaddy writes "MIT Tech Review has an interesting piece that asks an obvious, but intriguing question: if we're living in an age of cyber warfare, where are all the cyber weapons? Like the dawn of the nuclear age that started with the bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the use of the Stuxnet worm reportedly launched a global cyber arms race involving everyone from Syria to Iran and North Korea. But almost four years after it was first publicly identified, Stuxnet is an anomaly: the first and only cyber weapon known to have been deployed. Experts in securing critical infrastructure including industrial control systems are wondering why. If Stuxnet was the world's cyber 'Little Boy,' where is the 'Fat Man'? Speaking at the recent S4 Conference, Ralph Langner, perhaps the world's top authority on the Stuxnet worm, argues that the mere hacking of critical systems is just a kind of 'hooliganism' that doesn't count as cyber warfare. True cyber weapons capable of inflicting cyber-physical damage require extraordinary expertise. Stuxnet, he notes, made headlines for using four exploits for "zero day" (or previously undiscovered) holes in the Windows operating system. Far more impressive was the metallurgic expertise needed to understand the construction of Iran's centrifuges. Those who created and programmed Stuxnet needed to know the exact amount of pressure or torque needed to damage aluminum rotors within them, sabotaging the country's uranium enrichment operation."
An anonymous reader sends this story from TechDirt: "You may recall the stories from the past couple years about the so-called 'snooper's charter' in the UK — a system to further legalize the government's ability to spy on pretty much all communications. It was setting up basically a total surveillance system, even beyond what we've since learned is already being done today. Thankfully, that plan was killed off by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. However, Prime Minister David Cameron is back to pushing for the snooper's charter — and his reasoning is as stupid as it is unbelievable. Apparently, he thinks it's necessary because the fictional crime dramas he watches on TV show why it's necessary. Cameron said, 'I love watching, as I probably should stop telling people, crime dramas on the television. There's hardly a crime drama where a crime is solved without using the data of a mobile communications device. What we have to explain to people is that... if we don't modernise the practice and the law, over time we will have the communications data to solve these horrible crimes on a shrinking proportion of the total use of devices and that is a real problem for keeping people safe.'"
An anonymous reader sends a post by Finnish electronics hacker Oona Räisänen, who heard a mysterious digital signal in the audio accompanying a YouTube video of a police chase. The chase was being filmed by a helicopter. Räisänen wrote: "The signal sits alone on the left audio channel, so I can completely isolate it. Judging from the spectrogram, the modulation scheme seems to be BFSK, switching the carrier between 1200 and 2200 Hz. I demodulated it by filtering it with a lowpass and highpass sinc in SoX and comparing outputs. Now I had a bitstream at 1200 bps. ... The bitstream consists of packets of 47 bytes each, synchronized by start and stop bits and separated by repetitions of the byte 0x80. Most bits stay constant during the video, but three distinct groups of bytes contain varying data." She guessed that the data was location telemetry from the helicopter, so she analyzed it to extract coordinates. When she plotted them and compared the resulting curve to the route taken by the fleeing car in the video, it was a match.
Stephen Hawking's recent comments about the nature of black holes have bred uncertainty about physics concepts that were relatively well understood. This article from astrophysicist Ethan Siegel explains that yes, black holes still exist, and how a group of three academic papers answered the black hole 'firewall' paradox. Quoting: "... And so what these three papers, in tandem, have done, is demonstrate that there is no firewall and that the resolution to the firewall paradox is that the first assumption, that Hawking radiation is in a pure state, is the one that's flawed. You won't read about this in the popular write-ups because it doesn't have a catchy headline, it's complex, and it's not work by someone that's already very famous for other work. But it's right. Hawking radiation is not in a pure state, and without that pure state, there's no firewall, and no paradox. There is still an incredible amount to learn and understand about black holes, event horizons, and the behavior of quantum systems in strongly curved spacetime, to be sure, and there's lots of very interesting research ahead. These findings arguably raise more questions than they answer, although at least we know that black holes won't fry you when you fall in; it will still be death by spaghettification, not by incineration!"
Lucas123 writes: "UCLA has created a graduate-level program that teaches architects how to design intelligent robotic buildings that are able to change their configuration to adapt to their owners' needs. The design are not limited to homes, of course, and could be used in office buildings or hotels. For example, a hotel could switch out a small bathroom in a guest room for a larger one that comes to the room along the outside façade of the building. Factories could also be transformed based on changing needs. Students in the program are working to come up with a more dynamic building, possibly one that has moving platforms or walls that could adapt the building for manufacturing different sized aircraft or products."
theodp writes: "Apple has recently disclosed a pending patent for Inferring User Mood Based on User and Group Characteristic Data, which has received surprisingly scant attention from the press even though it ups the ante for privacy intrusion. The brainchild of iAd team members, Apple boasts its invention will make it possible to 'charge a higher rate for mood based content delivery' by scrutinizing 'channel characteristics, demographic characteristics, behavioral characteristics, spatial-temporal characteristics, and mood-associated characteristics.' Apple further explains: 'Mood-associated physical characteristics can include heart rate; blood pressure; adrenaline level; perspiration rate; body temperature; vocal expression, e.g. voice level, voice pattern, voice stress, etc.; movement characteristics; facial expression; etc. Mood-associated behavioral characteristics can include sequence of content consumed, e.g. sequence of applications launched, rate at which the user changed applications, etc.; social networking activities, e.g. likes and/or comments on social media; user interface (UI) actions, e.g. rate of clicking, pressure applied to a touch screen, etc.; and/or emotional response to previously served targeted content. Mood-associated spatial-temporal characteristics can include location, date, day, time, and/or day part. The mood-associated characteristics can also include data regarding consumed content, such as music genre, application category, ESRB and/or MPAA rating, consumption time of day, consumption location, subject matter of the content, etc. In some cases, a user terminal can be equipped with hardware and/or software that facilitates the collection of mood-associated characteristic data. For example, a user terminal can include a sensor for detecting a user's heart rate or blood pressure. In another example, a user terminal can include a camera and software that performs facial recognition to detect a user's facial expressions.' Your move, Google!"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Justin George writes at McClatchy that in a 20,000-square-foot warehouse, where visitors are required to trade in a driver's license for a visitor's badge, some of the nation's secrets are torn apart, reduced to sand or demagnetized until they are forever silent. Need to destroy a rugged Toughbook laptop that might have been used in war? E-End will use a high-powered magnetic process known as degaussing to erase its hard drive of any memory. A computer monitor that might have some top-secret images left on it? Crushed and ground into recyclable glass. Laser sights for weapons? Torn into tiny shards of metal. "We make things go away," says Arleen Chafitz, owner and CEO of e-End Secure Data Sanitization and Electronics Recycling, a company with sixteen employees that destroys hard drives, computers, monitors, phones and other sensitive equipment that governments and corporations don't want in the wrong hands. Chafitz say the information technology departments at typical companies might not have the proper tools or training to adequately dispose of data. IT departments focus on fixing and restoring data, they say, while data-wiping companies focus on just the opposite."
colinneagle writes "Amazon CFO Tom Szkutak hinted during the company's earnings conference call [Thursday] that we might see an increase to the company's popular Amazon Prime service. As it stands now, Amazon Prime costs $79 per year and offers users free shipping on millions of items, free book borrowing for select Kindle titles, and last but not least, free streaming to the company's video on-demand service. Going forward, Amazon may increase that pricepoint to either $99 or $119. That's a rather significant price increase, but it's important to keep in mind that the price of Amazon Prime has remained the same ever since Amazon first started the program nine years ago." How many products do you use that haven't increased in price for that long?
An anonymous reader writes "On Saturday 20 July 2013, in the basement of the Guardian's office in Kings Cross, London, watched by two GCHQ technicians, Guardian editors destroyed hard drives and memory cards on which encrypted files leaked by Edward Snowden had been stored. This is the first time footage of the event has been released."
the_newsbeagle writes "Chinese engineers love their superlatives: Biggest dam, fastest train, etc etc. Now they've constructed the deepest underground dark matter detector beneath a mountain in Sichuan province. Such dark matter seekers have to be buried deep to shield them from cosmic rays, because that radiation would be picked up by the detector and could be confused for radiation generated by dark matter. Other dark matter detectors are similarly subterranean: LUX, in the United States, is at the bottom of an abandoned mine in South Dakota, and a European effort called XENON lies below the Gran Sasso mountain. The Chinese researchers hope their PandaX detector will finally reveal the much-hypothesized, never-seen dark matter particles known as WIMPs."