London Mayor Boris Johnson Condemns Random Uber Pick-Ups 46

An anonymous reader writes: The mayor of London Boris Johnson has written a column in the Daily Telegraph condemning the way that Uber drivers in the UK capital can effectively circumvent black cabs' legal monopoly on being hailed by random passengers. Whilst supporting the principle of free enterprise, Johnson has no solution to the legal quandary, except to hobble Uber's business model in an absurdly Luddite move, or else level the playing field and condemn the well-outfitted but expensive black cab trade to extinction. Johnson is reluctant to ask such a thing of Parliament, noting that many people there don't 'have apps'.

Space Travel For the 1%: Virgin Galactic's $250,000 Tickets Haunt New Mexico Town 95

The Real Dr John writes: The Guardian has an article about Virgin Galactic's proposed launch site, Spaceport America, which broke ground in southern New Mexico's high desert in 2009 with almost a quarter of a billion dollars from taxpayers, $76m of which came from the two local counties. Truth or Consequences, population 6,000 and home to the Spaceport America Visitor Center, is one of the poorest places in the state. The increased taxes, adopted across impoverished Sierra County, contributed to about $5m as of 2014. Since 2009, state school budgets have been cut and an estimated $26m in necessary repairs to the town's water system has been put on hold. There's no more money to pay for it. The average annual income of residents is just $15,000 per year, one third of residents live below the poverty line, and just 20% over the age of 25 have obtained a bachelor's degree.

What Effect Will VW's Scandal Have On Robocars? 61

pRobotika writes: It's looking bad for Volkswagen, German car manufacturers and possibly even car manufacturers as a whole. But the revelations that VW put software in their cars to deliberately cheat on emissions tests could have even greater repercussions. Robocars' Brad Templeton looks at the effect for manufacturers of autonomous vehicles. From the Robohub article: "There may be more risk from suppliers of technology for robocars. Sensor manufacturers, for instance, may be untruthful about their abilities or, more likely, reliability. While the integrators will be inherently distrustful, as they will take the liability, one can see smaller vendors telling lies if they see it as the only way to get a big sale for their business."

Study Finds Humans Are Worse Than Radiation For Chernobyl Animals 77

derekmead writes: A study published today in Current Biology shows that wildlife in the Chernobyl exclusion zone is actually more abundant than it was before the disaster. According to the authors, led by Portsmouth University professor of environmental science Jim Smith, the recovery is due to the removal of the single biggest pressure on wildlife—humans. "The wildlife at Chernobyl is very likely better than it was before the accident, not because radiation is good for animals, but because human occupation is much worse,” Portsmouth University professor of environmental science Jim Smith says. “We were trying to emphasize that this study is a remarkable illustration of an obvious, but important message,” he said. “It is ordinary human habitation and use (farming, forestry, hunting) of land which does most ecological damage.”

DNA Vaccine Sterilizes Mice, Could Lead To One-Shot Birth Control For Cats, Dogs 97

sciencehabit writes: Animal birth control could soon be just a shot away. A new injection makes male and female mice infertile by tricking their muscles into producing hormone-blocking antibodies. If the approach works in dogs and cats, researchers say, it could be used to neuter and spay pets and to control reproduction in feral animal populations. A similar approach could one day spur the development of long-term birth control options for humans.

What Non-Geeks Hate About the Big Bang Theory 211

v3rgEz writes: It has been said that there is a lot to dislike about the Big Bang Theory, from the typical geek's point of view: It plays in stereotypes of geekdom for cheap laughs, makes non-sensical gags, and has a laugh track in 2015. But what does the rest of America (well, the part of America not making it the number one show on television) think? FCC complaints recently released accuse the show of everything from animal cruelty to subliminal messaging, demanding that the sitcom be ripped from the airwaves lest it ruin America. The full complaints for your reading pleasure.
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: What Is Your Most Awesome Hardware Hack? 155

An anonymous reader writes: Another Slashdotter once asked what kind of things someone can power with an external USB battery. I have a followup along those lines: what kind of modifications have you made to your gadgets to do things that they were never meant to do? Consider old routers, cell phones, monitors, etc. that have absolutely no use or value anymore in their intended form. What can you do with them? Have you ever done something stupid and damaged your electronics?

Linux Kernel Dev Sarah Sharp Quits, Citing 'Brutal' Communications Style 568

JG0LD writes: A prominent Linux kernel developer announced today in a blog post that she would step down from her direct work in the kernel community. “My current work on userspace graphics enabling may require me to send an occasional quirks kernel patch, but I know I will spend at least a day dreading the potential toxic background radiation of interacting with the kernel community before I send anything,” Sharp wrote. Back in July, 2013 Sarah made a push to make the Linux Kernel Development Mailing List a more civil place.

CodeWeavers To Release CrossOver For Android To Run Windows Programs 56

An anonymous reader writes: For the better part of three years there has been talk about running Wine on Android to bring Windows x86 programs to Android phones/tablets, and it's going to become a reality. CodeWeavers is planning to release CrossOver For Android before the end of the year. This will allow native Windows binaries to run on Android, but will be limited to Android-x86 due to struggles in emulating x86 Windows code on ARM. The tech preview will be free and once published the open-source patches will be published for Wine.

On-Chip Liquid Cooling Permits Smaller Devices With No Heatsinks Or Fans 38

An anonymous reader writes: DARPA-funded research into on-chip liquid cooling has resulted in a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) liquid-cooled device that can operate at 24 degrees Celsius, versus 60 degrees Celsius for an equivalent air-cooled device. The cooling fluid resides only nanometers from the heat it must address, and operates so efficiently as to offer potential to stack CPUs and GPUs using copper columns, as well as dispensing with heat-sinks and fan systems. With those components removed, the system can facilitate far more compact designs than are currently feasible.

Twitter Shuts Down JSON API and Names New CEO 95

An anonymous reader writes: This month Twitter is closing down the JSON endpoint API which thousands of third-party software and plugin developers have depended upon for years. The alternative Rest API offers data which is aggregated or limited in other ways, whilst the full-featured share data offered by Gnip (purchased last year by Twitter) can cost developers thousands per month to access — in one case up to £20,000 a month. The general objective seems to be to either drive users back to the core Twitter interface where they can be monetized via the social network's advertising, or to regain lost advertising by converting open source data — currently utilized a lot in scientific research — into premium information, offering the possibility for well-funded organizations to gain reputations as Twitter barometers without ever needing to expose the expensive, accurate share figures. The company also announced today that co-founder Jack Dorsey would be the new CEO.
Hardware Hacking

Sensor Network Makes Life Easier For Japan's Aging Rice Farmers 79

szczys writes: The average age of Japan's rice farmers is 65-70 years old. The work is difficult and even small changes to the way things are done can have a profound impact on these lives. The flooded paddies where the rice is grown must maintain a consistent water level, which means farmers must regularly traverse the terraced fields to check many different paddies. A simple sensor board is changing this, letting farmers check their fields by phone instead of in person.

This might not sound like much, but reducing the number of times someone needs to walk the fields has a big effect on the man-hours spent on each crop. The system, called TechRice, is inexpensive and the nodes recharge batteries from a solar cell. The data is aggregated on the Internet and can be presented as a webpage, a text-message interface, or any other reporting scheme imaginable by utilizing the API of the Open Source software. This is a testament to the power we have as small groups of engineers to improve the world.

Review: The Martian Screenshot-sm 207

I was both pleased and disappointed, as always, when I heard that a book I enjoyed was being made into a movie. Andy Weir's The Martian was the best new book I'd read in years. It was written for nerds, by a nerd — by somebody with an obvious love for NASA, science, and spaceflight. How could it possibly be condensed into the format of a Hollywood blockbuster? Well, director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Drew Goddard figured out how. The Martian is an excellent film, well worth watching. Read on for my review (very minor spoilers only), and feel free to share your own in the comments.

Nissan Creates the Ultimate Distracted Driving Machine 120

jfruh writes: More and more research is suggesting that it isn't safe to text or even talk on our phones hands-free while driving, but one brave car company is pushing full-speed in the other direction. Nissan has created a concept car in which every surface, including the entire dashboard and even the seats, is a display device. The car is the result of "extensive" surveys with the younger generation that came to the conclusion that, according to Nissan, young people "feel that time spent in a car should be time for connecting and sharing experiences with friends."

B612 Foundation Loses Partnership With NASA; Asteroids Not a Significant Risk 163

StartsWithABang writes: Yes, asteroids might be humanity's undoing in the worst-case scenario. It's how the dinosaurs went down, and it could happen to us, too. The B612 foundation has been working to protect us by mapping and then learning to deflect potential threats to our planet, but their proposed mission needed $450 million, a goal they've fallen well short of. As a result, NASA has severed their partnership, which is a good thing for humanity: the risk assessment figures show that worrying about killer asteroids is largely a waste.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached 240

An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times reports that negotiators have finally reached agreement over the Trans-Pacific Partnership from the U.S. and 11 other nations. The TPP has been in development for eight years, and has the potential to dramatically strengthen U.S. economic ties to east Asia. Though the negotiations have been done in secret, the full text of the agreement should be published within a month. Congress (and the legislative houses of the other participating countries) will have 90 days to review it and decide whether to ratify it. The TPP has been criticized in tech circles for how it regards intellectual property and facilitates website blocking, among other issues.

Proponents will also have to answer broader questions about whether it stifles competition, how it treats individuals versus large corporations, as if it creates environmental problems. To give you an idea of how complex it is: "The Office of the United States Trade Representative said the partnership eventually would end more than 18,000 tariffs that the participating countries have placed on United States exports, including autos, machinery, information technology and consumer goods, chemicals and agricultural products ranging from avocados in California to wheat, pork and beef from the Plains states."

Advertising Malware Affects Non-Jailbroken iOS Devices 67

An anonymous reader writes: Malware called YiSpecter is infecting iOS devices belonging to Chinese and Taiwanese users, and is the first piece of malware that successfully targets both jailbroken and non-jailbroken devices, Palo Alto Networks researchers warn. What's more, the techniques it uses for hiding are making it difficult to squash the infection. YiSpecter's malicious apps were signed with three iOS enterprise certificates issued by Apple so that they can be installed as enterprise apps on non-jailbroken iOS devices via in-house distribution. Through this kind of distribution, an iOS app can bypass Apple's strict code review procedures and can invoke iOS private APIs to perform sensitive operations.

Majority of EU Nations Seek Opt-Out From Growing GM Crops 241

schwit1 writes: Nineteen EU member states have requested opt-outs for all or part of their territory from cultivation of a Monsanto genetically-modified crop, which is authorized to be grown in the European Union, the European Commission said on Sunday. Under a law signed in March, individual countries can seek exclusion from any approval request for genetically modified cultivation across the 28-nation EU. The law was introduced to end years of stalemate as genetically modified crops divide opinion in Europe. The requests are for opt-outs from the approval of Monsanto's GM maize MON 810, the only crop commercially cultivated in the European Union, or for pending applications, of which there are eight so far, the Commission said.

Sex, Drugs, and Transportation: How Politicians Tried To Keep Uber Out of Vegas 129 writes: Johana Bhuiyan has written an interesting article about how the Las Vegas taxi industry used every political maneuver in its arsenal to keep Uber and Lyft off the strip. Vegas is one of the most lucrative transportation markets in the country, with some 41.1 million visitors passing through it annually. The city's taxi industry has raked in a whopping $290 million this year to date (PDF). What made Vegas unique — what made it Uber's biggest challenge yet — was the extent to which local governments were willing to protect the incumbents. According to Bhuiyan, in Las Vegas, Uber and its pugnacious CEO Travis Kalanick really did run into the corrupt taxi cartel bogeymen they'd long claimed to be saving us from, and this cartel would prove to be their most formidable opponent. But when push came to shove and the fight turned ugly, the world's fastest-growing company ran right over its entrenched opposition.

3 Scientists Share Nobel For Parastic Disease Breakthroughs 34

The Australian reports that a trio of scientists (hailing from from Japan, China, and Ireland) has been awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work in treating parasitic diseases. Irish scientist William Campbell (currently research fellow emeritus at New Jersey's Drew University), and Japanese biochemist Satoshi Omura, were awarded half of the monetary award for their work in defeating roundworm infections; the drug they developed as a result, Avermectin, has helped drastically lower two devastating diseases -- river blindness and lymphatic filariasis -- and has shown promise in treating other ailments as well. The other half of the prize has been awarded to Chinese researcher Youyou Tu, who discovered a novel antimalarial drug based on her research into traditional herbal medicines. (Also at The Washington Post, CNN, The New York Times, and elsewhere. The awards were live-blogged by The Guardian.)