Taco Cowboy writes "Today, a Russian Soyuz rocket shot the first 4 of 12 satellites in a new constellation that are designed to provide affordable, high-speed Internet to people in nearly 180 'under-connected' countries. The orbiters, part of a project dubbed O3b for the 'other 3 billion' people with restricted Internet access, were built by the Franco-Italian company Thales Alenia Space. They will orbit at 8,062 km and will weigh only 650 kilogrammes (1,400 pounds) each. 'There are already geostationary satellites providing this type of services, but at a prohibitive cost for many end-users. Existing satellites generally obit at an altitude of some 36,000 kilometres (22,000 miles) above Earth, weigh in at a hefty four to six tonnes each, and take much longer to bounce a signal back to Earth—about 500 milliseconds to be exact, according to an O3b document. "It is such a long delay that people speaking over a satellite link will shorten conversations, interactive web has an extremely poor experience and many web-based software programmes just won't function." Crucially, they will communicate with Earth four times faster, said the company, and six would be enough to assure permanent coverage. "O3b's prices will be 30 — 50 percent less than traditional satellite services," said the document. ... Launch company Arianespace, which will put the satellites in orbit, said the O3b constellation will combine "the global reach of satellite coverage with the speed of a fiber-optic network." ... The next four satellites will be launched within weeks, according to Arianespace, and a final four "backup" orbiters early next year.'"
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Nerval's Lobster writes "Breaking the exaflops barrier remains a development goal for many who research high-performance computing. Some developers predicted that China's new Tianhe-2 supercomputer would be the first to break through. Indeed, Tianhe-2 did pretty well when it was finally revealed — knocking the U.S.-based Titan off the top of the Top500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers. Yet despite sustained performance of 33 petaflops to 35 petaflops and peaks ranging as high as 55 petaflops, even the world's fastest supercomputer couldn't make it past (or even close to) the big barrier. Now, the HPC market is back to chattering over who'll first build an exascale computer, and how long it might take to bring such a platform online. Bottom line: It will take a really long time, combined with major breakthroughs in chip design, power utilization and programming, according to Nvidia chief scientist Bill Dally, who gave the keynote speech at the 2013 International Supercomputing Conference last week in Leipzig, Germany. In a speech he called 'Future Challenges of Large-scale Computing' (and in a blog post covering similar ground), Dally described some of the incredible performance hurdles that need to be overcome in pursuit of the exaflops barrier."
bshell writes "The Verge has a great photo-essay about Tûranor PlanetSolar, the first boat to circle the globe with solar power. 'The 89,000 kg (nearly 100 ton) ship needs a massive solar array to capture enough energy to push itself through the ocean. An impressive 512 square meters (roughly 5,500 square feet) of photovoltaic cells, to be exact, charge the 8.5 tons of lithium-ion batteries that are stored in the ship's two hulls.' The boat is currently in NYC. Among other remarkable facts, the captain (Gérard d'Aboville) is one of those rare individuals who solo-rowed across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, journeys that took 71 and 134 days, respectively. The piece has a lot of detail about control systems and design."
StonyCreekBare writes "How can an autodidact get past the jobs screening process? I have a long track record of success, despite limited formal education. Despite many accomplishments, published papers, and more, I cannot seem to get past the canned hiring process and actually get before a hiring manager. Traditional hiring processes seem to revolve around the education and degrees one holds, not one's track record and accomplishments. Now as an older tech-worker I seem to encounter a double barrier by being gray-haired as well. All prospective employers seem to see is a gray-haired old guy with no formal degrees. The jobs always seem to go to the younger guys with impressive degrees, despite a total lack of accomplishment. How can an accomplished, if gray-haired, self-educated techie get a foot in the door?"
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier today, Nvidia released its latest graphics card: the Geforce GTX 760. A followup to last month's GTX 770 launch, the new GTX 760 is the fourth 700-series card since the company launched the GTX Titan back in February. Sporting 1,152 CUDA cores, 96 TMUs, 32 ROPS, a 256-bit memory interface that effectively runs at 6 GHz, a base clock of 980 MHz, and a Boost speed of up to 1,033 MHz, the newly-minted GTX 760 is offered at a price point of $250. Benchmark results are available from all the usual suspects: AnandTech, HotHardware, PC Magazine, PCPer, and Tom's Hardware. To make a long story short, Nvidia's new card edges out AMD's equally-priced Radeon HD 7950 Boost Edition, and even goes toe-to-toe with the $300 Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition. Factoring out AMD's incredible Never Settle game bundles, and looking purely at performance, the GTX 670 allows Nvidia to cinch up the mainstream gaming price point." Reader crookedvulture adds, "The $250 card is an updated spin on an existing GPU, so it doesn't raise the bar dramatically. In fact, the GTX 760 achieves rough performance parity with the Radeon HD 7950 Boost, which costs just a little bit more. The situation is similar at around $400, where the contest between the GeForce GTX 770 and Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition is a toss-up overall. These price/performance scatter plots paint the picture clearly. AMD has largely resolved its previous frame latency issues with new drivers, making the battle between GeForce and Radeon more about extras than performance. Nvidia offers software to optimize game settings and record gameplay sessions, while AMD includes download codes for recent games. You really can't go wrong either way."
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Daily News reports that a startup company in Manhattan is putting robotic key copying machines in 7-Eleven stores. The machines can automatically create physical copies of common apartment and office keys. What's more interesting is that they allow users to save digital copies of their keys, which can later be created when the original is lost or the user is locked out of their home."
tripleevenfall sends in a story at Yahoo Finance forecasting the end of Barnes & Noble. Quoting: "The last nationwide book retailer may be writing its final chapter. Barnes & Noble's latest quarterly results show a 7.4% drop in revenues and a $122 million loss for the fourth-quarter of its fiscal year. B&N's disastrous focus on making Nook e-Readers is weighing heavily on the chain's operations. A 17% drop in Nook revenues and stunning $475 million loss for the device division in 2013 are hobbling the company's ability to keep its stores afloat. B&N appears to be cannibalizing itself with branded tablets and cross-platform e-reader applications, which render the stores increasingly irrelevant."
Ouya, the Android-based game console that arose out of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, officially launched today. The $99 device quickly sold out at a number of retailers, including Amazon and GameStop. "According to Ouya, the console currently has more than 170 downloadable games, as well as a built-in software development kit that enables people to create and test titles right from the hardware." Many reviews of the console suggest the controllers are not very good, and there are reports that the Wi-Fi connectivity can be flaky. There's also a lot of commentary about Ouya that clearly came from unrealistic expectations of what a $99 device can provide. Most of the backers from the Kickstarter campaign have received their consoles, but some are still waiting as Ouya tries to sort out shipping problems with DHL.
Today President Obama gave a speech outlining the administration's plan to take on climate change. (Video of the speech available on YouTube, and the White House published an infographic as well.) Most significantly, Obama's plan would have the EPA set limits on carbon pollution from all U.S. power plants, a goal already meeting resistance from Republicans. The plan also sets the goal of funding enough solar- and wind-based energy projects on public lands to power over 6 million homes by 2020. By 2030, it aims to use efficiency standards to reduce carbon pollution by 3 billion metric tons. Obama called for new efforts to deal with extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy. He also pointed out the difficulty in getting emerging industrial economies to be environmentally conscious. To that end, the plan calls for the end of U.S. support for financing coal power plants in foreign countries, unless those plants use carbon capture and sequestration technologies. The speech addressed the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry up to 800,000 gallons of oil per day from Canada into the U.S. Obama indicated that approval for the pipeline would be tied to emissions goals.
astroengine writes "Gliese 667C is a well-studied star lying only 22 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius, but it appears to have been hiding a pretty significant secret. The star has at least six exoplanets in orbit, three of which orbit within the star's "habitable zone" — the region surrounding a star that's not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist on their surfaces. Astronomers already knew that Gliese 667C had three worlds in orbit, one in the star's habitable zone, but the finding of three more exoplanets, two of which are also in the habitable zone is a huge discovery. Finding one small planet in a star's habitable zone is exciting, but finding three is historic. 'The number of potentially habitable planets in our galaxy is much greater if we can expect to find several of them around each low-mass star — instead of looking at ten stars to look for a single potentially habitable planet, we now know we can look at just one star and find several of them,' said Rory Barnes, of the University of Washington, co-author of the study, in an ESO press release Tuesday (June 25)."
An anonymous reader notes that the FTC has sent letters to search engine companies (PDF) telling them to make sure advertisements are clearly distinguishable from search results. "According to both the FTC staff's original search engine guidance and the updated guidance, failing to clearly and prominently distinguish advertising from natural search results could be a deceptive practice. The updated guidance emphasizes the need for visual cues, labels, or other techniques to effectively distinguish advertisements, in order to avoid misleading consumers, and it makes recommendations for ensuring that disclosures commonly used to identify advertising are noticeable and understandable to consumers. The letters note that the principles of the original guidance still apply, even as search and the business of search continue to evolve. The letters observe that social media, mobile apps, voice assistants on mobile devices, and specialized search results that are integrated into general search results offer consumers new ways of getting information. The guidance advises that regardless of the precise form that search takes now or in the future, paid search results and other forms of advertising should be clearly distinguishable from natural search results."
Today's video conversation guest is Alex Heid, whose HackMiami title is Senior Security Researcher. The group started as a non-profit but is now technically a for-profit company that gets work from local businesses and shares it (and the fees it generates) among HackMiami members. You're welcome to join them at one of the regular meetings they hold at Planet Linux Caffe in Coral Gables (which, for those who care, is one of few businesses in the Miami area that accepts Bitcoins) and at other local venues, or at their annual conference, although you have a pretty long wait ahead of you for that; the next one is scheduled for May, 2014. Meanwhile, if you want to start something similar to HackMiami in your area, Alex has some good tips for you, including the idea of checking out -- and listing your group on -- the Hackerspaces Web site.
jfruh writes "COBOL, it's finally becoming clear, isn't going away any time soon; there are far too many business-criticial applications written in it that work perfectly well for that to happen. This reality could be a career boon for IT staff. Need to learn the ins and outs of COBOL? Your employer may well pay for your training. Just getting started in IT? COBOL can provide a niche that gets you a first job."
It's been over 13 years since we did a Q&A with Linux International executive director Jon "maddog" Hall. For decades, maddog has been one of the highest profile advocates for free and open source software. He is currently working on Project Caua which aims "to promote more efficient computing following the thin client/server model, while creating up to two million privately-funded high-tech jobs in Brazil, and another three to four million in the rest of Latin America." He's also gearing up for FISL in Brazil, and helping to plan the FOSS part of Campus Party Europe in London. maddog has graciously agreed to find time to answer some of your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.