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Mars

Elon Musk Probably Won't Be the First Martian 167 167

pacopico writes: In a new biography on him, Elon Musk goes into gory details on his plans for colonizing Mars. The author of the book subsequently decided to run those plans by Andy Weir, the author of The Martian. Weir's book is famous for its technical acumen around getting to and from The Red Planet. His conclusion is that Musk's technology, which includes the biggest rocket ever built, is feasible — but that Musk will not be the first man on Mars. The interview also hits on the future of NASA and what we need to get to Mars. Good stuff. Weir says, "My estimate is that this will happen in 2050. NASA is saying more like 2035, but I don't have faith in Congress to fund them."
The Military

The US Navy's Warfare Systems Command Just Paid Millions To Stay On Windows XP 192 192

itwbennett writes: The Navy relies on a number of legacy applications and programs that are reliant on legacy Windows products,' said Steven Davis, a spokesman for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego. And that reliance on obsolete technology is costing taxpayers a pretty penny. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which runs the Navy's communications and information networks, signed a $9.1 million contract earlier this month for continued access to security patches for Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003.
The Almighty Buck

Ask Slashdot: Making Donations Count 268 268

An anonymous reader writes: As a recent college graduate I now have a job and enough money to actually buy things and donate to causes. Up until now I really haven't been paying attention to which groups are best to donate and which are scams. For example, Goodwill seems like a great organization until you dig deeper and discover they hire under privileged and disabled people only to exploit the related government handouts instead of doing it to benefit those people. What are some quality organizations to donate to? Who do you donate to and why? I'm looking for improving the poor, supporting constitutional rights, and supporting issues many Slashdotters can agree on such as net neutrality and anything against the media companies. I don't care what political group the money ends up going to. The specific case is more important than some arbitrary label. I'm also in the USA, so foreign recommendations are probably less helpful.
The Courts

Illinois Supreme Court: Comcast Must Identify Anonymous Internet Commenter 233 233

An anonymous reader writes: In 2011, an anonymous person on the internet posted a comment to the Freeport Journal Standard newspaper's website implying that a local political candidate was a pedophile. The candidate, Bill Hadley, took offense to this, and tried to get Comcast to tell him who the commenter was. Comcast refused, so Hadley took it to the courts. The Illinois Supreme Court has now ruled (PDF) that Comcast must divulge the commenter's identity. "Illinois' opinion was based in large part on a pair of earlier, lower-court decisions in the state, which held that the anonymity of someone who makes comments in response to online news stories isn't guaranteed if their opinions are potentially defamatory, according to Don Craven, an attorney for the Illinois Press Association."
Networking

5G Network Speed Defined As 20 Gbps By the International Telecommunication Union 81 81

An anonymous reader writes with a report at Mobipicker (linking to a Korea Times story) that a 12-member committee from the International Telecommunication Union has hashed out a formal definition of the speed requirements for 5G mobile networking; the result has been designated IMT-2020, and it specifies that 5G networks should provide data speeds of up to 20Gbps -- 20 times faster than 4G. From the Korea Times story: The 5G network will also have a capacity to provide more than 100 megabits-per-second average data transmission to over one million Internet of Things devices within 1 square kilometer. Video content services, including ones that use holography technology, will also be available thanks to the expanded data transmit capacity, the ministry said. ... The union also decided to target commercializing the 5G network worldwide by 2020. To do so, it will start receiving applications for technology which can be candidates to become the standard for the new network. Consequently, the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games will be the world's first international event to showcase and demonstrate 5G technology.

Comment: 6 blind men analyze an elephant (Score 1) 75 75

http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/13...

TFA: The results are intriguing—even a relatively simple neural network can be used to over-interpret an image, just like as children we enjoyed watching clouds and interpreting the random shapes. This network was trained mostly on images of animals, so naturally it tends to interpret shapes as animals.

Less intriguing: to consider that similar networks (especially once giving "recommendations" to unquestioning end users) might ascribe e.g. criminal propensity or lack of creditworthiness to the odd proverbial "innocent bystander" by over-amplifying distinctions they "think" to have learned.

The "Bad Blue sky" tank detector https://neil.fraser.name/writi... "might be apocryphal" (just like the Obstinate Lighthouse http://www.snopes.com/military... ;-)) but instructive nonetheless.

Censorship

IMAX Tries To Censor Ars Technica Over SteamVR Comparison 190 190

Cutting_Crew writes: An article published last week at Ars Technica looked at the SteamVR virtual reality headset created by Valve. Contained in the article is a quote from game designer Alex Schwartz, who said in reference to the device, "The jump between a regular game and playing a room scale VR experience is X times 100. It’s like saying, 'I have an IMAX theater in my house.' It’s so much better that we can get away with a cumbersome setup." Now, for that single quoted reference, IMAX has sent a trademark complaint to Ars and demanded that they take the story down. "The company said our story required a retraction because it included a brief reference to IMAX—included without IMAX's permission. 'Any unauthorized use of our trademark is expressly forbidden.'"

If you look at the letter from IMAX (PDF), you'll see they think the reference to IMAX is "misleading to readers." They further request that "all future articles regarding this "room-scale" virtual reality system make no reference to our registered trademark." Apparently, IMAX has never heard of the Streisand Effect.
Update: 06/19 19:26 GMT by S : IMAX has apologized.
Security

Hacks To Be Truly Paranoid About 106 106

snydeq writes: Nothing is safe, thanks to the select few hacks that push the limits of what we thought possible, InfoWorld's Roger Grimes writes in this roundup of hacks that could make even the most sane among us a little bit paranoid. "These extreme hacks rise above the unending morass of everyday, humdrum hacks because of what they target or because they employ previously unknown, unused, or advanced methods. They push the limit of what we security pros previously thought possible, opening our eyes to new threats and systemic vulnerabilities, all while earning the begrudging respect of those who fight malicious hackers."
IT

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Service Providers When You're an IT Pro? 479 479

New submitter username440 writes: So, a lot of us will have been here: You have a problem with your ISP, cable TV, cellphone whatever technology and you need to call the provider. Ugh. Foreign call centers, inane fault-finding flowcharts (yes, I have turned it off and on again) and all the other cruft that you have to wade through to get to someone with the knowledge to determine that YOU in fact also have a degree of knowledge and have a real problem.

Recently I had a problem with my ISP, where the ISP-provided "modem" — it's a router — would lock up at least 3 times per day. I had router logs, many hundreds of Google results for that model and release of hardware showing this as a common problem, and simply wanted the ISP to provide a new router (it's a managed device). I replaced the router with a spare Airport Extreme and the problems disappeared, to be replaced with a warning from the ISP that they could't access my managed device" and the connection is provided contingent to using THIER router. However my point was to prove that their router is at fault.

How do you fare when trying to get through to a service provider that they actually DO know something in the field? How do you cut through the frontline support bull*hit and talk to someone who knows what they are doing? Should there be a codeword for this scenario?
Businesses

Santander To Track Customer Location Via Mobiles and Tablets 130 130

New submitter raburton writes: Santander (one of the biggest banks in Europe) slipped a little note on the corner of my latest statement saying they intend to start collecting "location or other data" from mobiles and tablets that their customers own, from 1st July 2015. There is no link to further information about the policy, or any suggestion you can opt out of it. The stated aim is of course to "prevent and detect fraud", but once they have the data (and they'll probably keep it for a long time) they, or anyone who can gain access to it, can do whatever they like with it. In this day and age I find it hard to take any assurances to the contrary very seriously. Is this kind of policy common practice with banks elsewhere?

Comment: Another ad: Cortana from the morgue, or just Borg? (Score 1) 127 127

As someone astutely observed with respect to the picture of Clippy 2.0:

http://www.heise.de/forum/heis...

I thought we'd all suffered enough advertising on our keyboards since 1995 already?
Thankfully the glorious Model M remains unbreakable and unaffected... ;-)

Crime

Amazon Publishes Opaque Transparency Report 22 22

Mark Wilson writes: Post-Snowden there is great interest in just what involvement the government has with technology firms. There are frequent requests from government agencies for information about users and the likes of Google, Snapchat and even the NSA itself have all released transparency reports that reveal, in broad strokes, the number of requests for data they have received. Amazon is the latest company to release a transparency report — although the term really should be used in the loosest possible sense. The report includes scant details about the number of subpoenas, search warrants, court orders, and national security requests received in the first five months of 2015. The report is so vague as to be virtually meaningless.
AI

Toshiba Introduces a Cortana Keyboard Button For Windows 10 127 127

Ammalgam writes: In what seems like a really pivotal moment for computing, Toshiba have indicated that they will be introducing a new button to their line of keyboards. This key would be dedicated to summoning Microsoft's virtual assistant in Windows 10 — Cortana. A dedicated Cortana key would be one of the more significant changes to the keyboard since the Windows key was added at about the time Windows 95 was introduced, in 1995.
United States

Patriot Act Spy Powers To Expire As Rand Paul Blocks USA Freedom Act Vote 500 500

Saturday, we mentioned that three major spying powers that the U.S. government has exercised under the Patriot Act might be nixed, as the sections of the Act granting authority to use them expires. The Daily Dot reports that Senator (and presidential contender) Rand Paul today used Senate rules to block a bill which would have extended those powers, which means that as of midnight Sunday on the U.S. east coast, sections 206, 207 and 215 of the Patriot Act will have expired. Says the Daily Dot's article, linked by reader blottsie: The reform bill, which the House passed before leaving town for a week-long recess, would end the government's bulk collection of Americans' phone records under the Patriot Act's controversial Section 215 but leaves the other two provisions intact. ... Sunday's procedural meltdown was the second narrow defeat for the USA Freedom Act. In a late-night session on Friday, May 22, the bill fell three votes short of an initial procedural step after [Senate Majority Leader] McConnell lobbied hard against it. The Senate's failure to meet its deadline was a blow to President Obama, who on Friday had warned lawmakers that the country would be vulnerable if the USA Freedom Act did not pass.
Government

The Patriot Act May Be Dead For Good 218 218

HughPickens.com points out Shane Harris's report at The Daily Beast that when powerful spying authorities under the Patriot Act expire at the stroke of midnight Monday, as currently appears likely, they may never return. "Senators have been negotiating over whether to pass a House bill that would renew and tweak existing provisions in the long-controversial law, but if the sunset comes and the provisions are off the books, lawmakers in both chambers would be facing a vote to reinstate controversial surveillance authorities, which is an entirely different political calculation. ... Three major Patriot provisions are on the chopping block: so-called roving wiretaps, which let the government monitor one person's multiple electronic devices; the "lone-wolf" provision, which allows surveillance of someone who's not connected to a known terrorist group; and Section 215, which, among other things, the government uses to collect the records of all landline phone calls in the United States." Obama has been urging Congress to pass the Freedom Act, but not warning that the sky will fall if they don't. That may reflect a calculation on the president's part that the surveillance authorities aren't important enough to lose political capital fighting to keep them. Meanwhile with the Senate not slated to return to Washington until just hours before that deadline, opponents like Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) showing no signs of budging, and the House so far unwilling to bail out the upper chamber, the prospects for an eleventh-hour breakthrough look slim.

The rate at which a disease spreads through a corn field is a precise measurement of the speed of blight.

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