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Transportation

Quadcopter Drone Network Will Transport Supplies For Disaster Relief 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the rise-of-the-machines dept.
kkleiner writes "A startup called Matternet is building a network of quadcopter drones to deliver vital goods to remote areas and emergency supplies to disaster-stricken areas. The installation of solar-powered fueling station and an operating system to allow for communications with local aviation authorities will allow the network to be available around the clock and in the farthest reaches of the world. 'Matternet’s drone network has three key components. First, the drones—custom-built autonomous electric quadcopters with GPS and sensors, capable of carrying a few kilos up to 10 kilometers (and more as the tech advances). Next, the firm will set up a network of solar-powered charging stations where drones autonomously drop off dead batteries and pick up charged ones. A drone battery that can travel 10 km need not limit the drone itself to 10 km — rather, these drones can theoretically travel the whole network by swapping out batteries. The final component will be an operating system to orchestrate the drone web, share information with aviation authorities, and fly missions 24/7/365.'"
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Building an Assistive Reading Device? 134

Posted by timothy
from the start-with-the-C3P0-and-subtract-parts dept.
RulerOf writes "A few years ago, my girlfriend's grandfather was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. Ever since, he has had progressively more trouble with daily activities. While his wife and family are able to help him with most things, at the age of 88 and without many living friends left, he dearly misses the ability to read printed text. He was able to get by for some time with magnifying glasses and other basic aids but now even those do not help. Recently, a local clinic which specializes in treatment for low-sight and blind individuals made him aware of and showed him several assistive reading devices that successfully allowed him to read. He mentioned this to his family members, and when I was told about it, I thought that these devices sounded like they were not much more than a camera attached to an LCD monitor or television with a little bit of special software thrown into the mix." (Read on below for more.)
The Almighty Buck

Zynga To Employees: Surrender Pre-IPO Shares Or You're Fired 554

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-trade-backs dept.
ardmhacha writes "Zynga seem to think they were overly generous handing out stock to early employees. Fearing a 'Google Chef' situation they are leaning on some employees to hand back their unvested stock or face termination. From the article: 'Zynga's demand for the return of shares could expose the company to employment litigation—and, were the practice to catch on and spread, would erode a central pillar of Silicon Valley culture, in which start-ups with limited cash and a risk of failure dangle the possibility of stock riches in order to lure talent.'"
Communications

FEMA, FCC Hope To Forestall Panic Over National Emergency Alert 210

Posted by timothy
from the awaiting-dhs-kickbacks dept.
Ars Technica has a piece on the "first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS)," slated for this Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST. An excerpt: "This national system will look and sound much like the current (and local) emergency warnings often seen on TV or heard on radio, but the scope is larger and it can be put under the direct control of the President. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Weather Service (NWS) will all coordinate the test, but it's FEMA that actually transmits the alert code. Concerned that such a test might alarm people, the agencies are going to extraordinary lengths to provide a heads-up. I first heard about the test in an e-mail newsletter from my city government, which told residents last week, 'Do not be alarmed when an emergency message will take over the airways... this is only a test.' The test will display a warning message on TV screens, though as my city helpfully noted, 'Due to some technical limitations, a visual message indicating that "this is a test" may not pop up on every TV channel, especially where people use cable to receive their television stations.'"
Microsoft

+ - Microsoft wipes family photos off employee phones->

Submitted by
jbrodkin
jbrodkin writes "Microsoft employees who forget their phone passwords will see their devices get wiped, even if they're filled with personal data. "At Microsoft, we have a policy that says if you try to log in on a phone five times incorrectly, we actually wipe the phone," says Microsoft's Brad Anderson. "When that one gets wiped, it doesn't differentiate between what is corporate data and what is personal data." For the sake of its employees and customers, Microsoft is working on a system that can treat the corporate and personal data separately, but is so far coming up short. "I know what the problem is, but I'm not sure how we're going to solve it yet," Anderson says."
Link to Original Source
Idle

+ - House Alarm Blasts Burglars With Pepper Spray-> 1

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula (1870348) writes "This is one home security alarm you won't want to trigger by mistake! Burglar Blaster mounts on a wall inside the home, and once armed, uses an infrared beam to detect when an intruder has entered the house. It then emits a cloud of pepper spray, that will severely inconvenience anyone within 2,000 square feet (186 square meters)."
Link to Original Source
Network

+ - Stock trades to exploit speed of light->

Submitted by SpuriousLogic
SpuriousLogic (1183411) writes "Financial institutions may soon change what they trade or where they do their trading because of the speed of light.

"High-frequency trading" carried out by computers often depends on differing prices of a financial instrument in two geographically-separated markets.

Exactly how far the signals have to go can make a difference in such trades.

Alexander Wissner-Gross told the American Physical Society meeting that financial institutions are looking at ways to exploit the light-speed trick.

Dr Wissner-Gross, of Harvard University, said that the latencies — essentially, the time delay for a signal to wing its way from one global financial centre to another — advantaged some locations for some trades and different locations for others.

There is a vast market for ever-faster fibre-optic cables to try to physically "get there faster" but Dr Wissner-Gross said that the purely technological approach to gaining an advantage was reaching a limit.

Trades now travel at nearly 90% of the ultimate speed limit set by physics, the speed of light in the cables."

Link to Original Source
Television

Antenna Arrays Could Replace Satellite TV Dishes 183

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the yes-have-some dept.
Zothecula writes "There was a time not so very long ago when people who wanted satellite TV or radio required dishes several feet across. Those have since been replaced by today's compact dishes, but now it looks like even those might be on the road to obsolescence. A recent PhD graduate from The Netherlands' University of Twente has designed a microchip that allows for a grid array of almost-flat antennae to receive satellite signals."
Canada

'Officer Bubbles' Sues YouTube Commenters Over Mockery 594 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the Ricky-and-Julian-disapprove dept.
An anonymous reader writes "'Officer Bubbles' — the Toronto Police Constable who was videotaped threatening a G20 protester with arrest for assault over the crime of blowing bubbles at a police officer has had enough of mocking videos and comments on YouTube. He has decided to sue everyone involved (commenters included) for more than a million dollars each. The complaint is detailed in his statement of claim — most of the comments seem fairly tame by internet standards; if this goes anywhere, everyone is going to have to watch what they say pretty carefully. The lawsuit appears to have been successful in intimidating the author of the mocking cartoons into taking them down."

An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it. -- James Michener, "Space"

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