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Comment Re:Probably about 6 months (Score 1) 130 130

For a value of "beta testing" that has already been shown to have missed a number of fairly obvious issues that were picked up within the first day of general release, sure, it's been "tested" for 6 months. Not that Microsoft is special in that regard - it's usually the same as nearly every other instance of early access code releases; the set of users that actually take advantage of the option and install the code don't seem to have a significant overlap with the set of users that actually notice when the code is broken or incomplete, or even take the time to actually test it.

The free upgrade offer is good for a year, so there's no need to rush. The prudent move is probably to at least wait for the "Feature Update" that Microsoft has claimed will be out in a few months time, and possibly even the one after that.

Submission + - Genetically modified rice makes more food, less greenhouse gas->

Applehu Akbar writes: A team of researchers at the Swedish University of AgriculturalSciences has engineered a barley gene into rice, producing a variety that yields 50% more grain while producing 90% less of the powerful greenhouse gas methane. The new rice pulls off this trick by putting more of its energy into top growth. In countries which depend on rice as a staple, this would add up to a really large amount of increased rice and foregone methane.
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Submission + - Hacking a 'Smart' Sniper Rifle->

An anonymous reader writes: It was inevitable: as soon as we heard about the computer-aimed rifles, we knew somebody would find a way to compromise their security. At the upcoming Black Hat security conference, researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger will present their techniques for doing just that. "Their tricks can change variables in the scope’s calculations that make the rifle inexplicably miss its target, permanently disable the scope’s computer, or even prevent the gun from firing." In one demonstration they were able to tweak the rifle's ballistic calculations by making it think a piece of ammunition weighed 72 lbs instead of 0.4 ounces. After changing this value, the gun tries to automatically adjust for the weight, and shoots significantly to the left. Fortunately, they couldn't find a way to make the gun fire without physically pulling the trigger.
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Submission + - Does your company have a gag order on resignations?

An anonymous reader writes: I am a developer at an undisclosed software company. You've heard of it. We have had several developers leave lately, and yesterday, we got a gag order not to talk about whom is leaving. Used to be, they would say, "Bob is leaving the company for personal and private reasons...blah, blah". Now, management says nothing, people just vanish overnight, and you hear about it a week or so later. Is that the new normal? I guess?

Submission + - Hayabusa-2 probe uses 64-bit MIPS CPU to explore the origins of the solar system->

alexvoica writes: After the success of New Horizons flyby of Pluto, another important space mission called Hayabusa-2 is currently on track to reach a rare asteroid called (162173) 1999 JU3. The probe is also programmed to analyze and report on the origin and evolution of the solar system.

Hayabusa-2 is a spacecraft operated by JAXA (the Japanese equivalent of NASA) and features technologies worthy of a Star Trek movie, including ion propulsion engines, upgraded guidance and navigation systems, high-precision antennas, and infrared cameras.

The NEC Corporation of Tokyo built the electronics systems of the 590 kg spacecraft and JAXA successfully launched the probe in December 2014. Many remember NEC for the revolutionary engineering work on the 64-bit MIPS-based chip that powered the Nintendo N64, the first 64-bit games console.

Like the Nintendo N64 console before it, Hayabusa-2 also uses a 64-bit MIPS CPU. However, the Hayabusa-2 engineers opted for an upgraded version called HR5000 fabricated by HIREC using a special, patented radiation-hardened process specifically developed by the Japanese corporation for space use. The HR5000 processor is clocked at 200MHz and includes high-performance MIPS64 features like a fast dual-issue execution unit, a floating point unit (FPU) for math-crunching, and cache memories with error-proof parity check functionality.

You can read more about Hayabusa-2 and the HIREC HR500 chip in this article.

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Submission + - Slashdot Poll: Who has best intuitive grasp of technology?

An anonymous reader writes: Slashdot Poll: Who has best intuitive grasp of technology?

Silent Generation (born ~1925-1942)
Baby Boomers (born ~1942-1963)
Generation X (born ~1964-1983)
Generation Y (born ~1984-1994)
Generation Z (born ~1995-present)

Submission + - US Military Stepping Up Use Of Directed Energy Weapons->

An anonymous reader writes: At a conference on Tuesday, U.S. officials explained that the all branches of the military would be increasing their use of lasers and other directed energy weapons. Lieutenant General William Etter said, "Directed energy brings the dawn of an entirely new era in defense." The Navy's laser deployment test has gone well, and they're working on a new prototype laser in the 100-150 kilowatt range. "[Navy Secretary Ray] Mabus said Iran and other countries were already using lasers to target ships and commercial airliners, and the U.S. military needed to accelerate often cumbersome acquisition processes to ensure that it stayed ahead of potential foes."
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Submission + - Computers Umpire Their First Pro Baseball Game->

An anonymous reader writes: Baseball has long been regarded as a "game of inches." Among the major professional sports it arguably requires the greatest amount of precision — a few extra RPMs can turn a decent fastball into an unhittable one, and a single degree's difference in the arc of a bat can mean change a lazy popup into a home run. As sensor technology has improved, it's been odd to see how pro baseball leagues have made great efforts to keep it away from the sport. Even if you aren't a fan of the game, you're probably familiar with the cultural meme of an umpire blowing a key call, altering the course of the game. Thus, it's significant that for the first time ever, sensors and a computer have called balls and strikes for a professional game. In a minor league game between the San Rafael Pacifics and the Vallejo Admirals, a three-camera system tracked the baseball's exact position as it crossed home plate, and a computer judged whether it was in the strike zone or not. The game went without incident, and it provided valuable data in a real-life example. The pitch-tracking system still has bugs to work out, though. Dan Brooks, founder of a site that tracks ball/strike accuracy for real umpires, said that for the new system to be implemented permanently, fans must be "willing to accept a much smaller amount of inexplicable error in exchange for a larger amount of explicable error."
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Submission + - Tools Coming To Def Con For Hacking RFID Access Doors->

jfruh writes: Next month's Def Con security conference will feature, among other things, new tools that will help you hack into the RFID readers that secure doors in most office buildings. RFID cards have been built with more safeguards against cloning; these new tools will bypass that protection by simply hacking the readers themselves.
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Submission + - NVIDIA Tegra X1 Performance Exceeds Intel Bay Trail SoCs, AMD AM1 APUs->

An anonymous reader writes: A NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV modified to run Ubuntu Linux is providing for interesting data on how NVIDIA's latest "Tegra X1" 64-bit ARM big.LITTLE SoC compares to various Intel/AMD/MIPS systems of varying form factors. Tegra X1 benchmarks on Ubuntu show "stunning performance" with the X1 SoC in this $200 Android TV device beating out low-power Intel Atom/Celeron Bay Trail SoCs, AMD AM1 APUs, and in some workloads is even getting close to an Intel Core i3 "Broadwell" NUC. The Tegra X1 features Maxwell "GM20B" graphics and the total power consumption is less than 10 Watts.
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Submission + - Honeywell Home Controllers Open to Any Hacker Who Can Find Them Online

Trailrunner7 writes: The accumulation of automation and Internet-connected devices in many homes these days has led observers to coin the term smart homes. But as researchers take a closer look at the security of these devices, they’re finding that what these homes really are is naive.

The latest batch vulnerabilities to hit home automation equipment are in the Tuxedo Touch controller made by Honeywell, a device that’s designed to allow users to control home systems such as security, climate control, lighting, and others. The controller, of course, is accessible from the Internet and researcher Maxim Rupp discovered that there are two vulnerabilities in the Tuxedo Touch that could allow an attacker to take arbitrary actions, including unlocking doors or modifying the climate controls in the house.

Submission + - Advertising companies accused of deliberately slowing page-load times for profit->

An anonymous reader writes: An industry insider has told Business Insider [] of his conviction that ad-serving companies deliberately prolong the 'auctioning' process for ad spots when a web-page loads in order to maximise revenue by allowing automated 'late-comers' to participate beyond the 100ms limit placed on the decision-making process. The unnamed source, a principal engineer at a global news company (whose identity and credentials were confirmed by Business Insider), concluded with the comment "My entire team of devs and testers mostly used Adblock when developing sites, just because it was so painful otherwise,". Publishers use 'daisy-chaining' [] to solicit bids from the most profitable placement providers down to the 'B-list' placements, and the longer the process is run, the more likely that the web-page will be shown with profitable advertising in place.
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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 + - Facebook told to allow the use of fake names->

Mark Wilson writes: Facebook comes in for a lot of criticism, but one things that managed to rub a lot of people up the wrong way is its real names policy. For some time the social network has required its users to reveal their real name rather than allowing for the adoption of pseudonyms. This has upset many, including musicians and the drag community.

Now a German watchdog has told Facebook that its ban on fake names is not permitted. The Hamburg Data Protection Authority said that the social network could not force users to replace pseudonyms with real names, nor could it ask to see official identification.

The watchdog's order follows a complaint from a German woman who had her Facebook account closed because she used a fake name. She had opted to use a pseudonym to avoided unwanted contact from business associates, but Facebook demanded to see ID and changed her username accordingly. Hamburg Data Protection Authority said this and similar cases were privacy violations.

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"There is such a fine line between genius and stupidity." - David St. Hubbins, "Spinal Tap"