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Submission + - Amazon Proposes Dedicated Airspace For Drones->

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has published two new position papers which lay out its vision for future drone regulation. Under Amazon's plan, altitudes under 200ft would be reserved for basic hobbyist drones and those used for things like videography and inspection. Altitudes between 200ft and 400ft would be designated for "well-equipped vehicles" capable of operating autonomously out of line of sight. They would need sophisticated GPS tracking, a stable data uplink, communications capabilities with other drones, and sensors to avoid collisions. This, of course, is where Amazon would want to operate its drone delivery fleet. From 400ft to 500ft would be a no-fly zone buffer between the drone airspace and integrated airspace. Amazon's plan also makes room for "predefined low-risk areas," where hobbyists and other low-tech drones can fly higher than the 200ft ceiling. "Additionally, it is Amazon's view that air traffic management operations should follow a 'managed by exception' approach. This means operators are always aware of what the fleet is doing, yet they only intervene in significant off-nominal cases."
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Submission + - A Field Study on Technical Debt ->

heidibrayer writes: In their haste to deliver software capabilities, developers sometimes engage in less-than-optimal coding practices. If not addressed, these shortcuts can ultimately yield unexpected rework costs that offset the benefits of rapid delivery. Technical debt conceptualizes the tradeoff between the short-term benefits of rapid delivery and long-term value. Taking shortcuts to expedite the delivery of features in the short term incurs technical debt, analogous to financial debt, that must be paid off later to optimize long-term success. Managing technical debt is an increasingly critical aspect of producing cost-effective, timely, and high-quality software products, especially in projects that apply agile methods. A delicate balance is needed between the desire to release new software features rapidly to satisfy users and the desire to practice sound software engineering that reduces rework. Too often, however, technical debt focuses on coding issues when a broader perspective—one that incorporates software architectural concerns—is needed. This blog post, the first in a series, highlights the findings of a recent field study to assess the state of the practice and current thinking regarding technical debt and guide the development of a technical debt timeline.
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Submission + - Intel And Micron Unveil 3D XPoint Memory, 1000X Speed And Endurance Over Flash->

MojoKid writes: Today at a press conference in San Francisco, Intel and Micron unveiled 3D XPoint (Cross Point) memory technology, a non-volatile memory architecture so disruptive it could very well change the entire landscape of consumer electronics and computer architectures for years to come. Intel and Micron claim that 3D XPoint memory is 1000 times faster than NAND, boasts 1000x the endurance of NAND, and offers 8 — 10 times the density of conventional memory. 3D XPoint isn't electron based, it's material based. The companies aren't diving into specifics yet surrounding the materials used in 3D XPoint, but the physics are fundamentally different than what we're used to. It's 3D stackable and its cross point connect structure allows for dense packing and individual access at the cell level from the top or bottom of a memory array. Better still, Intel alluded to 3D XPoint not being as cost-prohibitive as you might expect. Intel's Rob Crooke explained "You could put the cost somewhere between NAND and DRAM." Products with the new memory are expected to arrive in 2016 and the joint venture is in production with wafers now.
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Submission + - Scientists identify possible new substance with highest melting point

JoshuaZ writes: "Researchers from Brown University have tentatively identified an alloy of hafnium, nitrogen and carbon as having an expected melting point of about 7,460 degrees Fahrenheit (4120 Celsius). This exceeds the previous record breaker tantalum hafnium carbide which melts at 7,128 F (3942 C) and had stood as the record holder for almost a century. However, at this point, the record setter is still hypothetical, based on simulations. The new record has not yet been confirmed by experiment. is the actual article while is a lay summary. If the simulations turn out to be correct, the new alloy may be useful in parts like jet engines, and the door will be opened to using similar simulations to search for substances with even higher melting points or with other exotic properties.

Submission + - Poor Pilot Training Blamed for Virgin Galactic Crash-> 1 1

astroengine writes: SpaceShipTwo co-pilot Michael Alsbury was not properly trained to realize the consequences of unlocking the vehicle’s hinged tail section too soon, a mistake that led to his death and the destruction of the ship during a test flight in California last year. Responsibility for the accident falls to SpaceShipTwo manufacturer Scaled Composites, a Mojave, Calif., company owned by Northrop Grumman Corp, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined at a webcast hearing on Tuesday. Poor oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees commercial spaceflights in the United States, was also a factor in the accident, the NTSB said.
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Submission + - The First Airplane on Mars

braindrainbahrain writes: Undergoing research by NASA, the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars, or Prandtl-M (not-so-coincidentally named after German aeronautical engineer Ludwig Prandtl) program is developing an airfoil with the ultimate goal of flying in the Martian atmosphere. The program has flown 12-ft. span models, the Prandtl-D1 and -D2, in Earth's atmosphere to prove that the flying wing design could overcome adverse yaw effects without including a tail. A larger 25 ft. model will be tested shortly and further tests call for prototypes to be balloon dropped at 85,000 feet and later at 115,000 feet to simulate Martian atmospheric density. If all goes well, it could be deployed from a cubesat container after hitching a ride to Mars with a rover in 2022.

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Submission + - Superhydrophobic nano-wallpaint in San Francisco pisses back on public pissers 2->

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 pisser'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!" Time will tell if this works better than the firehose employed in India.
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Submission + - UK to give 18-year-olds right to delete embarrassing online past->

An anonymous reader writes: People aged 18 and older could soon be allowed to delete embarrassing photographs of themselves from social networks as part of a government-backed scheme.

The iRights campaign will allow young adults to remove incriminating photos of themselves from Twitter and Facebook which could affect them in later life. The move is similar to legislation which came into force in California this year that gave teens rights to delete personal information online.

However, unlike in California, there are currently no plans to introduce a law in the UK forcing technology companies to oblige.

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Submission + - Computer science enrollments match NASDAQ's rises and fall ->

dcblogs writes: In March 2000, the NASDAQ composite index reached a historic high of 5,048, at just about the same time undergrad computer science enrollments hit a peak of nearly 24,000 students at Ph.D.-granting institutions in the U.S. and Canada, according to data collected by the Computing Research Association in its most recent annual Taulbee Survey. By 2005, computer science enrollments had halved, declining to just over 12,000. On July 17, the NASDAQ hit its highest point since 2000, reaching a composite index of 5,210. In 2014, computer science undergrad enrollments reached nearly, 24,000, almost equal to the 2000 high. Remarkably, it has taken nearly 15 years to reach the earlier enrollment peak.
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Submission + - Trillion-Dollar World Trade Deal Aims To Make IT Products Cheaper->

itwbennett writes: A new (tentative) global trade agreement, struck on Friday at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva, eliminates tariffs on more than 200 kinds of IT products, ranging from smartphones, routers, and ink cartridges to video game consoles and telecommunications satellites. A full list of products covered was published by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which called the ITA expansion 'great news for the American workers and businesses that design, manufacture, and export state-of-the-art technology and information products, ranging from MRI machines to semiconductors to video game consoles.' The deal covers $1.3 trillion worth of global trade, about 7 percent of total trade today.
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Submission + - 'Stagefright' Flaw: Compromise Android With Just a Text->

An anonymous reader writes: Up to 950 million Android phones may be vulnerable to a new exploit called "Stagefright," which lets attackers compromise a device through a simple multimedia text — even before the recipient sees it. Researchers from Zimperium zLabs reported the related bugs to Google in April. Google quickly accepted a patch and distributed it to manufacturers, but the researchers say they don't think the manufacturers have yet passed it on to most consumers. "The weaknesses reside in Stagefright, a media playback tool in Android. They are all “remote code execution” bugs, allowing malicious hackers to infiltrate devices and exfiltrate private data. All attackers would need to send out exploits would be mobile phone numbers, Drake noted. From there, they could send an exploit packaged in a Stagefright multimedia message (MMS), which would let them write code to the device and steal data from sections of the phone that can be reached with Stagefright’s permissions. That would allow for recording of audio and video, and snooping on photos stored in SD cards. Bluetooth would also be hackable via Stagefright."
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Submission + - Musk, Woz, Hawking, and Robotics/AI Experts Urge Ban on Autonomous Weapons->

An anonymous reader writes: An open letter published by the Future of Life Institute urges governments to ban offensive autonomous weaponry. The letter is signed by high profile leaders in the science community and tech industry, such as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Steve Wozniak. It's also signed — more importantly — but literally hundreds of expert researchers in robotics and AI. They say, "The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow. Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce."
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