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Businesses

The Fastest-Growing Tech State Is... Minnesota 155

Nerval's Lobster writes: What's the fastest-growing state for technology jobs? You might be tempted to say California or New York, or even North Carolina. But according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it's actually Minnesota, which saw the size of its tech workforce jump 8.36 percent over the past six months, to 37,600 workers. Utah and Nebraska came in second and third on the list of fastest-growing states, with six-month tech-employment gains of 5.75 percent and 5.22 percent, respectively. Michigan and Florida came in fourth and fifth. States with smallish tech-worker populations can enjoy heady growth rates by adding relatively few workers. But not all states saw their tech workforce grow in the first half of 2015. Four states—Pennsylvania, Washington, North Carolina, and Alabama—actually saw their workforce decline by 0.61 percent, 0.63 percent, 2.36 percent, and 3.52 percent, respectively, during the period in question. The declines in Washington and North Carolina may come as a surprise to anyone following those states' tech industries, which are quite robust. In Washington's case, layoffs at Microsoft and other firms over the past few months may have contributed to the slight decline.
NASA

Challenger, Columbia Wreckage On Public Display For First Time 42

An anonymous reader writes: A new exhibit at Kennedy Space Center is letting the public see wreckage from the Challenger and Columbia shuttles after keeping it from view for decades. Two pieces of debris from each lost shuttle and personal reminders of the astronauts killed in the flights will be on display. The AP reports: " NASA's intent is to show how the astronauts lived, rather than how they died. As such, there are no pictures in the 'Forever Remembered' exhibit of Challenger breaking apart in the Florida sky nearly 30 years ago or Columbia debris raining down on Texas 12 years ago. Since the tragic re-entry, Columbia's scorched remains have been stashed in off-limits offices at the space center. But NASA had to pry open the underground tomb housing Challenger's pieces — a pair of abandoned missile silos at neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station — to retrieve the section of fuselage now on display."
Idle

San Francisco's Public Works Agency Tests Paint That Repels Urine 210

monkeyzoo writes: San Francisco is testing an ultra-water-repellant paint on wallls in areas fraught with public urination problems. The paint is designed to repel the urine and soil the offender's pants. "It's supposed to, when people urinate, bounce back and hit them on the pants and get them wet. Hopefully that will discourage them. We will put a sign to give them a heads up," said Mohammad Nuru, director of the San Francisco public works. A Florida company named Ultra-Tech produces the super-hydrophobic oleophobic nano-coating that was also recently used with success on walls in Hamburg, Germany [video] to discourage public urination. Signs posted there warn, "Do not pee here! We pee back!"
Transportation

Study: Push Notifications As Distracting As Taking a Call 60

itwbennett writes: Researchers at Florida State University have found that simply being aware of a missed call or text can have the same damaging effect on task performance as actually using a mobile phone. 'Although these notifications are short in duration, they can prompt task-irrelevant thoughts, or mind-wandering,' the researchers wrote in their paper. In further bad news for chronic multitaskers, a new study by researchers at the University of Connecticut finds that 'students who multitasked while doing homework had to study longer, and those who frequently multitasked in class had lower grades on average than their peers who multitasked less often.'
Music

Grooveshark Co-founder Josh Greenberg Dead At 28 173

alphadogg writes: The tech startup world has been shaken today by news that 28-year-old Josh Greenberg, co-founder of recently defunct music sharing service Grooveshark, was found dead on Sunday in the Florida apartment he shared with his girlfriend. No foul play is suspected, but the local medical examiner is conducting an autopsy, according to the Gainesville Sun. Grooveshark was shut down in April after the company was threatened with legal action and possibly hundreds of millions in damages by several big music labels.
Television

Comcast Launches Streaming Service and Unveils Pricing For 2G Fiber 107

An anonymous reader writes: Comcast has announced the release of its Gigabit Pro service which offers speeds up to 2 gigabits per second. The service is $300 a month (agree to a two year contract and get the early promotional price of $159 per month) with a $500 installation and activation fee. The new service is only available in the Jacksonville, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Florida area. This announcement comes on the heels of the $15-per-month "Comcast Stream" launch. The live TV and streaming video service does not require a cable TV subscription, but live TV channels can only be watched on customer's home internet connections.
Government

The Guardian Looks At Hacking Team's Client List, Internal Communications 35

There are lots of small but interesting news bits to take from the data dump made available by Wikileaks of internal documents from the Italian security firm Hacking Team, such as that a police unit investigating major crimes in Florida, according to some of the leaked emails, was interested in purchasing some of the company's surveillance technology. The Guardian has taken a longer look at the company's business and tactics, and outlines many of their actual and potential clients, in particular their government customers, and skewers Hacking Team's claims "that it does not sell to repressive regimes."

Shades of Blue Coat.
Space

NASA Names Its Astronauts For the First Dragon and CST-100 Flights 38

schwit1 writes with news that NASA has named the four government astronauts that will fly on the first manned demo flights to ISS of SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's CST-100. From Florida Today's report: Bob Behnken, Eric Boe, Doug Hurley and Sunita Williams are veteran test pilots who have flown on the shuttle and the International Space Station. NASA said the four astronauts will train with both companies and have not yet been assigned to flights. Two-person crews will fly the first test flights by each capsule, after they have completed an orbital test flight without people on board. Company proposals anticipate an all-NASA crew flying SpaceX's Dragon test flight, with Boeing's CST-100 carrying a split NASA-Boeing crew. Boeing has not yet identified its astronaut.
Shark

Scientists Look For Patterns In North Carolina Shark Attacks 92

HughPickens.com writes: The Washington Post reports that there have been seven recent shark attacks in North Carolina. Scientists are looking for what might be luring the usually shy sharks so close to shore and among the swimmers they usually avoid. It's an unusual number of attacks for a state that recorded 25 attacks between 2005 and 2014. Even with the recent incidents, researchers emphasize that sharks are a very low-level threat to humans, compared with other forms of wildlife. Bees, for example, are much more dangerous. And swimming itself is hazardous even without sharks around.

George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida's Florida Museum of Natural History, speculates that several environmental factors could be pushing sharks to congregate in the Outer Banks. It is a warm year, and the water has a higher level of salinity because of a low-level drought in the area. Also, a common species of forage fish — menhaden — has been abundant this year and might have attracted more sharks to the area. Burgess also says some fishermen put bait in the water near piers, which could lure the predators closer to shore; two of the encounters took place within 100 yards of a pier. "That's a formula for shark attacks," Burgess says of these conditions, taken together. "Now, does that explain seven attacks in three weeks? No, it doesn't."
Earth

Weather Promising for Sunday Morning SpaceX Launch 49

USA Today reports that the weather looks good for Sunday morning's planned launch at 10:21, Florida time (14:21 GMT) of SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule, loaded with a docking adapter intended for future manned-crew access to the International Space Station. An excerpt: "The forecast calls for a 90% chance of weather good enough to permit SpaceX's 208-foot Falcon 9 rocket to blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during an instantaneous launch window. ... "This is actually pretty cool, because it does play right into our next Crew Dragon program," [Hans] Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president for mission assurance, said of the docking adapter in a separate news briefing. "It's something that we bring up for our own future, and so we're really motivated to bring this up." Related: astroengine points out that as part of this launch, SpaceX will make another attempt at landing the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform off the coast of Florida after sending the Dragon cargo vehicle to the International Space Station. Although SpaceX is hoping to achieve something the rocket industry has never done before (true usability of rocket engines, cutting costs), it's not the only game in town — Blue Origin, ULA and Airbus all have rocket return desires.
Space

SpaceX Applies To Test Internet Service Satellites 50

lpress writes: Elon Musk's SpaceX and Greg Wyler's OneWeb both hope to provide global Internet access using constellations of low-Earth orbit satellites. Neither company plans to be in operation for several years, but Musk's SpaceX is ready to test two satellites. They have applied for permission to launch two satellites that will orbit at 625 km. Time reports: "The application describes two satellites, the first of up to eight trial satellites that are each expected to last up to 12 months. The satellites will likely be built using the $1 billion that SpaceX raised mostly from Google earlier this year. For these first tests, the launch location will likely be Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast rather than Cape Canaveral in Florida, according to the orbital parameters in the application."
Earth

Scientists Discover Sawfish Escape Extinction Through "Virgin Births" 111

An anonymous reader writes: The first known virgin births in smalltooth sawfish have been documented in the wild. Researchers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission used DNA to show that three percent of a Florida sawfish population was created by female-only reproduction. Dr Warren Booth, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Tulsa, who previously discovered an instance of parthenogenesis in snakes, said: "This is basically a very extreme form of inbreeding. Most people think of inbreeding as bad, but it could be helpful in purging deleterious mutations from a population." The findings were published in the journal Current Biology.
Communications

Orange County Public Schools To Monitor Students On Social Media 166

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Orange County, Florida, is undertaking a sweeping effort to snoop on the social media communications of the county's public school students and staff, for the nebulous task of "[ensuring] safe school operations," and say they will use the software (at a license cost of about $13,000 per year) "to conduct routine monitoring for purposes of prevention or early intervention of potential issues where students or staff could be at risk to themselves or to others." The software they're using is from Snaptrends, which offers "location-based social media discovery." According to one of the comments attached to the linked story, there are monthly fees, in addition to the annual licensing cost.
Robotics

Florida Hospital Shows Normal Internet Lag Time Won't Affect Remote Robotic Surgeries 125

Lucas123 writes: Remote robotic surgery performed hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the physician at the controls is possible and safe, according to the Florida Hospital that recently tested Internet lag times for the technology. Roger Smith, CTO at the Florida Hospital Nicholson Center in Celebration, Fla., said the hospital tested the lag time to a partner facility in Ft. Worth, Texas and found it ranged from 30 to 150 milliseconds, which surgeons could not detect as they moved remote robotic laparoscopic instruments. The tests, performed using a surgical simulator called a Mimic, will now be performed as if operating remotely in Denver and then Loma Linda, Calif. The Mimic Simulator system enables virtual procedures performed by a da Vinci robotic surgical system, the most common equipment in use today; it's used for hundreds of thousands of surgeries every year around the world. With a da Vinci system, surgeons today can perform operations yards away from a patient, even in separate but adjoining rooms to the OR. By stretching that distance to tens, hundreds or thousands of miles, the technology could enable patients to receive operations from top surgeons that would otherwise not be possible, including wounded soldiers near a battlefield. The Mimic Simulator was able to first artificially dial up lag times, starting with 200 milliseconds all the way up to 600 milliseconds.
Businesses

Battle To Regulate Ridesharing Moves Through States 328

New submitter jeffengel writes: The push to regulate services like Uber and Lyft has spread through state legislatures nationwide. At least 15 states have passed ridesharing laws in 2015, joining Colorado, California, and Illinois from last year. More could follow, with bills pending in Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, and others. All this activity has led to new clashes with companies, city leaders, and consumers. Ridesharing bills have stalled or been killed off in Texas, Florida, New Mexico, and Mississippi. Meanwhile, Uber has exited Kansas and is threatening to leave New Jersey and Oregon, while Lyft has ceased operations in Houston, Columbus, and Tacoma. How this plays out could affect the companies' expansion plans, as well as the future of transportation systems worldwide.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Prison Messaging System JPay Withdraws Copyright Claims 141

Florida-based JPay has a specialized business model and an audience that is at least in part a (literally) captive one: the company specializes in logistics and communications services involving prisons and prisoners, ranging from payment services to logistics to electronic communications with prisoners. Now, via Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing comes a report from the EFF that the company has back-pedaled on a particularly strange aspect of the terms under which the company provided messaging services for prisoners: namely, JPay's terms of service made exhaustive copyright claims on messages sent by prisoners, claiming rights to "all content, whether it be text, images, or video" send via the service. That language has now been excised, but not in time to prevent at least one bad outcome; from the EFF's description: [Valerie] Buford has been running a social media campaign to overturn her [brother, Leon Benson's] murder conviction. However, after Buford published a videogram that her brother recorded via JPay to Facebook, prison administrators cut off her access to the JPay system, sent Benson to solitary confinement, and stripped away some of his earned "good time." To justify the discipline, prison officials said they were enforcing JPay's intellectual property rights and terms of service.
Image

Woman Alerts Police of Hostage Situation Through Pizza Hut App Screenshot-sm 105

mpicpp writes with this ABC News story about how a Pizza Hut app may have saved a woman's life. "A Florida mother held hostage by her boyfriend used the Pizza Hut app to notify police she needed help, authorities said. Cheryl Treadway, 25, was allegedly being held at knife point in her home by Ethan Nickerson, 26, in Avon Park on Monday, the Highlands County Sheriff's Office told ABC News today. 'She was held hostage by him all day,' Public Information Officer Nell Hays said. Nickerson took away Treadway's phone, police said, but she was eventually able to persuade him to let her order a pizza using her Pizza Hut app. 'She told him, "The kids are hungry. Let's order a pizza. Let's get them some food,"' Hays said, noting that's when Treadway was able to sneak in a written message through the delivery. Along with her order of a small, classic pepperoni pizza, she wrote: 'Please help. Get 911 to me,' according to police. She also wrote: '911hostage help!'"
The Internet

Comcast Brings Fiber To City That It Sued 7 Years Ago To Stop Fiber Rollout 182

An anonymous reader writes with the latest update in Comcast's "if you can't beat them, join them" fiber plan. In April 2008, Comcast sued the Chattanooga Electric Power Board (EPB) to prevent it from building a fiber network to serve residents who were getting slow speeds from the incumbent cable provider. Comcast claimed that EPB illegally subsidized the buildout with ratepayer funds, but it quickly lost in court, and EPB built its fiber network and began offering Internet, TV, and phone service. After EPB launched in 2009, incumbents Comcast and AT&T finally started upgrading their services, EPB officials told Ars when we interviewed them in 2013. But not until this year has Comcast had an Internet offering that can match or beat EPB's $70 gigabit service. Comcast announced its 2Gbps fiber-to-the-home service on April 2, launching first in Atlanta, then in cities in Florida and California, and now in Chattanooga, Tennessee.