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Transportation

World's First Commercial Jetpack Arrives Next Year 119 119

An anonymous reader writes: The good news is that soon, you'll finally be able to buy that jetpack you've always wanted. The bad news is that it'll run you about $150,000. The Martin Jetpack will use fans, rather than rockets, to lift humans weighing up to 120kg (~256 lbs). Its makers say it can reach altitudes of up to 1 kilometer, and fly for up to 30 minutes at a time. The jetpack will be sold commercially to emergency services next year, and then a smaller, personal version will hit the market in 2017.
Music

Taylor Swift: Apple's Disdain For Royalties Is 'Shocking, Disappointing' 368 368

Mark Wilson writes to note that Apple Music, yet unlaunched, already faces resistance on several fronts. From the BetaNews article: It's not just smaller, independent labels that are complaining about Apple's refusal to pay artists any royalties during the initial three month free trial period. Taylor Swift has added her voice to the growing number of complainants, writing an open letter to Apple in which she says she will withhold her new album "1989" from the service. In the letter, entitled "To Apple, Love Taylor," the singer says that the company's decision not to make royalty payments is "shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company." Swift is an artist who could afford to shoulder the cost of three months of not being paid by Apple, but she has chosen to make a stand and stick up for those who are less fortunate.
Windows

Windows 10 Will Be Free To Users Who Test It 280 280

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has been making a big push to change its business model for Windows — likely due to the low/no cost updates you can get for competing operating systems. The company surprised everyone when it said legit copies of Windows 7 and 8 would be supplied with free upgrades, but now they're extending that even further: anyone who tests the Windows 10 Technical Preview will get a free upgrade to the full version of Windows 10 when it comes out. In a blog post, Microsoft's Gabe Aul said, "As long as you are running an Insider Preview build and connected with the [Microsoft account] you used to register, you will receive the Windows 10 final release build and remain activated. Once you have successfully installed this build and activated, you will also be able to clean install on that PC from final media if you want to start over fresh."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Kim Jong Un Claims To Have Cured AIDS, Ebola and Cancer 162 162

jones_supa writes: North Korea has created a wonder drug which not only cures AIDS, but also eradicates Ebola and cancer — at least, according to the latest proclamation from the country's news agency. Their announcement says the miracle cure consists of ginseng grown from fertilizer and rare earth elements. The drug's website cites a medical study in Africa where the product was tested on HIV-positive patients. It records that every single participant in the trial noted an improvement, with 56% being completely cured and 44% noting a considerable improvement in their condition. Among other benefits, the North Korean scientists also revealed that the drug is capable of curing a number of cancers, but did not provide details of the medical trials which support this claim. It's also good to remember that the state has previously claimed that Kim Jong Il invented the hamburger.
Education

School Lunch Program Scans Student Thumbprints For 'Tracking Purposes' 141 141

schwit1 writes with news that a school district in Pennsylvania is providing free lunches to schoolchildren as part of an initiative to improve nutrition. Instead of providing the lunches to all students without question, they made the program opt-in. Since not all students get the lunches, they needed a way to track who was getting them. Officials decided the best way to do so would be to invest in biometric software that scans students's thumbprints every time they pick up lunch. The data collected by these scanners goes not just to the school district, but to the federal government as well.
Software

Unicode Consortium Releases Unicode 8.0.0 164 164

An anonymous reader writes: The newest version of the Unicode standard adds 7,716 new characters to the existing 21,499 – that's more than 35% growth! Most of them are Chinese, Japan and Korean ideographs, but among those changes Unicode adds support for new languages like Ik, used in Uganda.
Communications

Online At Last: Comet Lander Philae Wakes Up 62 62

techtech writes with this news from the BBC: The European Space Agency (ESA) says its comet lander, Philae, has woken up and contacted Earth. Philae, the first spacecraft to land on a comet, was dropped on to the surface of Comet 67P by its mothership, Rosetta, last November. It worked for 60 hours before its solar-powered battery ran flat. The comet has since moved nearer to the sun and Philae has enough power to work again, says the BBC's science correspondent Jonathan Amos. An account linked to the probe tweeted the message, "Hello Earth! Can you hear me?" Watch this space for some more links to follow. Update: 06/14 13:39 GMT by T : From the ESA's Rosetta blog: When analysing the status data it became clear that Philae also must have been awake earlier: "We have also received historical data - so far, however, the lander had not been able to contact us earlier," [according to project manager Dr. Stephan Ulamec.] Now the scientists are waiting for the next contact. There are still more than 8000 data packets in Philae’s mass memory which will give the DLR team information on what happened to the lander in the past few days on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
China

Report: Russia and China Crack Encrypted Snowden Files 546 546

New submitter garyisabusyguy writes with word that, according to London's Sunday Times, "Russia and China have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services," and suggests this non-paywalled Reuters version, too. "MI6 has decided that it is too dangerous to operate in Russia or China," writes the submitter. "This removes intelligence capabilities that have existed throughout the Cold War, and which may have helped to prevent a 'hot' nuclear war. Have the actions of Snowden, and, apparently, the use of weak encryption, made the world less safe?"
Microsoft

Sony and Microsoft's Failed Releases Since E3 2014 26 26

SlappingOysters writes: Ahead of E3 2015, which begins next week, Grab It has undertaken an analysis of the games announced at the big E3 press conferences for Sony and Microsoft last year, and reveals — amongst other data — that 60% of Microsoft's announced titles remain unreleased a year later, and 50% of Sony's announced titles remain unreleased. The article then debates whether this is good enough for both companies as they fight for market share.
China

SF86 Data Captured In OPM Hack 173 173

Etherwalk writes: The security clearance process in the United States includes filling out the 127-page SF86 form, which includes things like the citizenships of all your relatives and housemates, foreign contacts and financial interests, foreign travel, psychological and emotional health, illegal drug use, and many other matters. The recent breach by the Chinese Government apparently included that information for all executive employees up to cabinet level. It's pretty much a gold mine for intelligence work and social engineering of any kind.
Democrats

Trade Bill Fails In the House 413 413

schwit1 writes: President Obama suffered a major defeat to his Pacific Rim free trade initiative Friday as House Democrats helped derail a key presidential priority despite his last-minute, personal plea on Capitol Hill. "In a remarkable rejection of a president they have resolutely backed, House Democrats voted to kill assistance to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has stood by for four decades. By doing so, they brought down legislation granting the president trade promotion authority — the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress — before it could even come to a final vote." This was after Silicon Valley heavyweights made a last minute push to pass the bill and the White House got personal with many Democratic lawmakers.
Intel

Intel Skylake & Broxton Graphics Processors To Start Mandating Binary Blobs 193 193

An anonymous reader writes: Intel has often been portrayed as the golden child within the Linux community and by those desiring a fully-free system without tainting their kernel with binary blobs while wanting a fully-supported open-source driver. The Intel Linux graphics driver over the years hasn't required any firmware blobs for acceleration, compared to AMD's open-source driver having many binary-only microcode files and Nouveau also needing blobs — including firmware files that NVIDIA still hasn't released for their latest GPUs. However, beginning with Intel Skylake and Broxton CPUs, their open-source driver will now too require closed-source firmware. The required "GuC" and "DMC" firmware files are for handling the new hardware's display microcontroller and workload scheduling engine. These firmware files are explicitly closed-source licensed and forbid any reverse-engineering. What choices are left for those wanting a fully-free, de-blobbed system while having a usable desktop?
Transportation

Airbus Unveils Its First Stage Reuseability Concept 100 100

schwit1 writes: The competition heats up: Airbus unveiled Friday its prototype design to recover and reuse the engines and avionics of its Ariane rockets. From the article: "The Airbus team concluded that SpaceX's design of returning the full stage to Earth could be simplified by separating the propulsion bay from the rest of the stage, protecting the motor on reentry and, using the winglets and turbofans, return horizontally to a conventional air strip. "We are using an aerodynamic shield so that the motor is not subjected to such high stress on reentry," [technical director Herve] Gilibert said. "We need very little fuel for the turbofans and the performance penalty we pay for the Ariane 6 launcher is far less than the 30 percent or more performance penalty that SpaceX pays for the reusable Falcon 9 first stage." Gee, for decades Arianespace and Boeing and Lockheed Martin and everyone else in the launch industry insisted it made no economic sense to try to recover and reuse the first stage of their rockets. Then SpaceX comes along and makes an effort to do so, without as yet even coming close, and suddenly everyone agrees it is economically essential to do it as well. Isn't competition wonderful?
Government

Leaked TISA Documents Reveal Privacy Threat 145 145

schwit1 writes with some Wikileaks-enabled news at Forbes about the Trade in Services Agreement, a treaty currently under negotiation between the U.S., the European Union and nearly two dozen other parties. Wikileaks' release of 17 documents from the negotiating countries puts some bad light on some of the provisions being considered: From the Forbes report: Under the draft provisions of the latest trade deal to be leaked by Wikileaks, countries could be barred from trying to control where their citizens' personal data is held or whether it's accessible from outside the country. ... These negotiating texts are supposed to remain secret for five years after TISA is finalized and brought into force. Like TTIP and TPP, TISA could be sped through Congress using Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as fast-track authority, which has been passed by the US Senate and may be taken up in the House this month. Under TPA, Congress is barred from making amendments to the trade deals, and most simply give yes-or-no approval.
Businesses

Disney Making Laid-Off US Tech Workers Train Foreign H1-B Replacements 614 614

WheezyJoe writes: The NY Times brings us a story on the Disney Corporation laying off U.S. tech workers and replacing them with immigrants visiting the country under H1-B visas. The twist is that the immigrant workers are not your nice local visiting foreign guy from the university who wants to stick around 'cause he likes the people here... they are employees of foreign-based consulting companies in the business of collecting H1-B visas and "import[ing] workers for large contracts to take over entire in-house technology units." The other twist? The U.S. tech workers are required to train their replacements before vacating their jobs, or risk losing severance benefits (excerpts of the Disney's layoff notice are included in the article).

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