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+ - Most Powerful Geomagnetic Storm of Solar Cycle 24 is Happening->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine writes: The most powerful solar storm of the current solar cycle is currently reverberating around the globe. Initially triggered by the impact of a coronal mass ejection (CME) hitting our planet’s magnetosphere, a relatively mild geomagnetic storm erupted at around 04:30 UT (12:30 a.m. EDT), but it has since ramped-up to an impressive G4-class geomagnetic storm, priming high latitudes for some bright auroral displays.
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Sovereign Immunity (Score 1) 538 538

There is an ancient concept called "sovereign immunity" which holds that rulers (people making laws) are automatically exempt from those laws.

Very ancient concept. What was it, Magna Carta, 1215*, that established that the sovereign was indeed subject to the law? Nowadays, sovereign immunity only applies to the state itself being immune from lawsuit, unless voluntarily waived. I think.

[0] - actually its 800th anniversary was 1 month ago today.

AT&T

AT&T To Match Google Fiber In Kansas City, Charge More If You Want Privacy 227 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the K.C.-and-the-sunshine-bandwidth dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When Google Fiber started bringing gigabit internet to cities around the U.S., we wondered how the incumbent ISPs would respond. Now we know: AT&T has announced they will match Google Fiber's gigabit offerings in Kansas City. Of course, there are some caveats. First, AT&T's rollout may stop as it fights the Obama administration over net neutrality. Not that it would be a nationwide rollout anyway: "AT&T does not plan to offer the ultra-fast Internet lines to every home in the market. Rather, he said the company would calculate where demand is strongest and the investment in stringing new cables promised a decent return."

There are also some interesting pricing concerns. The company plans to charge $70/month for gigabit service, but that's a subsidized price. Subsidized by what, you ask? Your privacy. AT&T says if you want to opt out of letting them track your browsing history, you'll have to pay $29 more per month. They say your information is used to serve targeted advertising, and includes any links you follow and search terms you enter.
Medicine

Low Vaccination Rates At Silicon Valley Daycare Facilities 580 580

Posted by timothy
from the they-like-contagious-ideas dept.
Vaccination rates across the U.S. don't neatly correlate with religiosity or wealth; Wired reports that one conspicuous pocket of low vaccination rates, according to California's state database of daycare records, is a place where you might not expect it: Silicon Valley — specifically, the daycare centers at some large tech companies. A WIRED investigation shows that some children attending day care facilities affiliated with prominent Silicon Valley companies have not been completely vaccinated against preventable infectious diseases. At least, that’s according to a giant database from the California Department of Public Health, which tracks the vaccination rates at day care facilities and preschools in the state. We selected more than 20 large technology and health companies in the Bay Area and researched their day care offerings. Of 12 day care facilities affiliated with tech companies, six—that’s half—have below-average vaccination rates, according to the state’s data. ... And those six have a level of measles vaccination that does not provide the “herd immunity” critical to the spread of the disease. Now, this data has limitations—most critically, it might not be current. But it also suggests an incursion of anti-science, anti-vaccine thinking in one of the smartest regions on Earth.

+ - This Battery Has Lasted 175 Years and No One Knows How->

Submitted by sarahnaomi
sarahnaomi writes: There sits, in the Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford University, a bell that has been ringing, nonstop, for at least 175 years. It's powered by a single battery that was installed in 1840. Researchers would love to know what the battery is made of, but they are afraid that opening the bell would ruin an experiment to see how long it will last.

The bell’s clapper oscillates back and forth constantly and quickly, meaning the Oxford Electric Bell, as it’s called, has rung roughly 10 billion times, according to the university. It's made of what's called a "dry pile," which is one of the first electric batteries. Dry piles were invented by a guy named Giuseppe Zamboni (no relation to the ice resurfacing company) in the early 1800s. They use alternating discs of silver, zinc, sulfur, and other materials to generate low currents of electricity.

Link to Original Source

+ - 'I paid $25 for an Invisible Boyfriend and I Think I Might Be in Love'

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Caitlin Dewey writes in the Washington Post that she's been using a new service called "Invisible Boyfriend" and that she's fallen in love with it. When you sign up for the service, you design a boyfriend (or girlfriend) to your specifications. "You pick his name, his age, his interests and personality traits. You tell the app if you prefer blonds or brunettes, tall guys or short, guys who like theater or guys who watch sports. Then you swipe your credit card — $25 per month, cha-ching! — and the imaginary man of your dreams starts texting you." Invisible boyfriend is actually boyfriends, plural: The service’s texting operation is powered by CrowdSource, a St. Louis-based tech company that manages 200,000 remote, microtask-focused workers. "When I send a text to the Ryan number saved in my phone, the message routes through Invisible Boyfriend, where it’s anonymized and assigned to some Amazon Turk or Fivrr freelancer. He (or she) gets a couple of cents to respond. He never sees my name or number, and he can’t really have anything like an actual conversation with me." Dewey says that the point of Invisible Boyfriend is to deceive the user’s meddling friends and relatives. "I was newly divorced and got tired of everyone asking if I was dating or seeing someone," says co-founder Matthew Homann. "There seems to be this romance culture in our country where people are looked down upon if they aren't in a relationship."

Evidence suggests that people can be conned into loving just about anything. There is no shortage of stories about couples carrying on “relationships” exclusively via Second Life , the game critic Kate Gray recently published an ode to “Dorian,” a character she fell in love with in a video game, and one anthropologist argues that our relationships are increasingly so mediated by tech that they’ve become indistinguishable from Tamagotchis. “The Internet is a disinhibiting medium, where people’s emotional guard is down,” says Mark Griffiths. “It’s the same phenomenon as the stranger on the train, where you find yourself telling your life story to someone you don’t know.” It’s not exactly the stuff of fairytales, concludes Dewey. "But given enough time and texts — a full 100 are included in my monthly package — I’m pretty sure I could fall for him. I mean, er them."

+ - With Tumbling Oil Prices, Who Wins and Who Loses?

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: The price of oil is now under $70 a barrel after OPEC decided it would not cut back production significantly in the months ahead and the latest OPEC move suggests that it isn’t going to reverse course anytime soon.. Now Neil Irwin reports in the NYT that the falling price of oil looks likely to be one of the dominant forces shaping the global economy in 2015. So who wins and who loses? Winner: Global consumers as anybody who drives a car or flies on airplanes gets lower prices for gasoline and jet fuel. Loser: American oil producers — One of the big open questions is just how many of the small, independent producers in the American heartland will still be viable with oil prices in the $60s rather than the $100s. Many have relied on borrowed money, and bankruptcies are possible. Loser: Vladimir Putin — Russia’s economy is already facing its sharpest challenges in years, as Western sanctions imposed after Russian aggression toward Ukraine crimp the nation’s ability to be integrated in the global economy. Russia is a major energy producer, and the falling price of oil compounds the challenge facing its president, Vladimir Putin.

Potential Loser: The environment. As a general rule, the cheaper fossil fuels become, the more challenging it will be for cleaner forms of energy like solar and wind power to be competitive on price. But solar and wind power are sources for electricity, whereas fluctuations in oil prices most directly affect the price of transportation fuels like gasoline and jet fuel. Unless or until more Americans use electric cars, they are largely separate markets, so there’s no reason that cheaper oil should cause a major reduction in investment in renewables. The average pump price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States was $3.12 this week, down from $3.80 in October 2012 and down from $3.70 just four months ago. In the past, cheaper gasoline has two environmentally problematic effects: It leads people to drive thirstier cars and trucks and to drive them more miles. This time may be different. The number of miles Americans drive per capita has declined for nine straight years dropping from roughly 10,100 miles in 2004 to about 9,400 miles in 2013. A change that significant suggests a change in lifestyle—one that would be hard to upend. In addition, the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks sold in the United States has increased markedly over the past decade—in contrast to the 1990s, when new-vehicle fuel economy essentially flat-lined. Today, the average new car sold in this country goes 36 miles on a gallon of gasoline, up from 29.5 mpg in 2004. "Times have changed since the dawn of the last era of cheap oil," says Jeffrey Ball. "Even assuming low oil prices are the new normal, a cleaner energy system probably is too."

+ - A ChillingEffects.org for Domain Names->

Submitted by fsterman
fsterman writes: Domain name seizures used to be a rare occurrence, but US law enforcement has become adept at exploiting a quirk in the Internet's governance structure that allows them to seize a wide range of domains without due process. The rate has been increasing exponentially, with a total of 87 in 2010 to 1,700 in mid-2013. A month ago, nearly 5,000 domains were seized by a corporation using civil proceedings. The types of attacks targeting DNS have been increasing as well, such as when a US embassy had GoDaddy shut down a political protest site.
Link to Original Source

+ - A Programmer's Life 1 1

Submitted by theodp
theodp writes: If you're a programmer who's put a few miles on your life, be sure to check out Stephen Hazel's Bout Steve which may just be the most poignant 'About Me' you'll ever read. Tucked away behind his PianoCheetah piano practice software website, Hazel covers the ups and downs of his journey from being born into a family headed by a manic depressive missionary father to his current life as a (young) grandfather, and he frames it all within the context of an illustrated timeline of family, music, electronics, computers, and software. This is Parenthood for the Slashdot set, kids!
Input Devices

The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made 304 304

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-to-irritate-coworkers dept.
HughPickens.com writes Adi Robertson argues that IBM's Model M keyboard, soon to turn 30 is still the only keyboard worth using for many people. Introduced in 1985 as part of the IBM 3161 terminal, the Model M was initially called the "IBM Enhanced Keyboard." A PC-compatible version appeared the following spring, and it officially became standard with the IBM Personal System / 2 in 1987. The layout of the Model M has been around so long that today it's simply taken for granted, but the keyboard's descendants have jettisoned one of the Model M's most iconic features — "buckling springs," designed to provide auditory and tactile feedback to the keyboard operator. "Model M owners sometimes ruefully post stories of spouses and coworkers who can't stand the incessant chatter. But fans say the springs' resistance and their audible "click" make it clear when a keypress is registered, reducing errors," writes Robertson. "Maybe more importantly, typing on the Model M is a special, tangible experience. Much like on a typewriter, the sharp click gives every letter a physical presence."

According to Robertson, the Model M is an artifact from a time when high-end computing was still the province of industry, not pleasure. But while today's manufacturers have long since abandoned the concept of durability and longevity, refurbished Model Ms are still available from aficionados like Brandon Ermita, a Princeton University IT manager who recovers them from supply depots and recycling centers and sells them through his site, ClickyKeyboards. "For the very few that still appreciate the tactile feel of a typewriter-based computer keyboard and can still appreciate the simplicity of black letters on white keys, one can still seek out and own an original IBM model M keyboard — a little piece of early computing history," says Ermita. As one Reddit user recently commented, "Those bastards are the ORIGINAL gaming keyboards. No matter how much you abuse it, you'll die before it does.""
Education

ACM Blames the PC For Driving Women Away From Computer Science 329 329

Posted by timothy
from the how-you-slice-and-dice-the-factors dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Over at the Communications of the ACM, a new article — Computing's Narrow Focus May Hinder Women's Participation — suggests that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs should shoulder some of the blame for the dearth of women at Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter and other tech companies. From the article: "Valerie Barr, chair of ACM's Council on Women in Computing (ACM-W), believes the retreat [of women from CS programs] was caused partly by the growth of personal computers. 'The students who graduated in 1984 were the last group to start college before there was personal computing. So if you were interested in bioinformatics, or computational economics, or quantitative anthropology, you really needed to be part of the computer science world. After personal computers, that wasn't true any more.'" So, does TIME's 1982 Machine of the Year deserve the bad rap? By the way, the ACM's Annual Report discusses its participation in an alliance which has helped convince Congress that there ought to be a federal law making CS a "core subject" for girls and boys: "Under the guidance of the Education Policy Committee, ACM continued its efforts to reshape the U.S. education system to see real computer science exist and count as a core graduation credit in U.S. high schools. Working with the CSTA, the National Center for Women and Information Technology, NSF, Microsoft, and Google, ACM helped launch a new public/private partnership under the leadership of Code.org to strengthen high school level computing courses, improve teacher training, engage states in bringing computer science into their core curriculum guidelines, and encourage more explicit federal recognition of computer science as a key discipline in STEM discussions.""

+ - What came first, black holes or galaxies?

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang writes: It was one of the most hotly contested questions for decades: we first expected and then found supermassive black holes at the centers of practically all large galaxies. But how did they get there? In particular, you could imagine it happening either way: either there was this top-down scenario, where large-scale structures formed first and fragmented into galaxies, forming black holes at their centers afterwards, or a bottom-up scenario, where small-scale structures dominate at the beginning, and larger ones only form later from the merger of these earlier, little ones. As it turns out, both of these play a role in our Universe, but as far as the question of what came first, black holes or galaxies, only one answer is right.

+ - Hacking Internet Connected Light Bulbs->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: We've been calling it for years — connect everything in your house to the internet, and people will find a way to attack it. This post provides a technical walkthrough of how internet-connected lighting systems are vulnerable to outside attacks. Quoting: "With the Contiki installed Raven network interface we were in a position to monitor and inject network traffic into the LIFX mesh network. The protocol observed appeared to be, in the most part, unencrypted. This allowed us to easily dissect the protocol, craft messages to control the light bulbs and replay arbitrary packet payloads. ... Monitoring packets captured from the mesh network whilst adding new bulbs, we were able to identify the specific packets in which the WiFi network credentials were shared among the bulbs. The on-boarding process consists of the master bulb broadcasting for new bulbs on the network. A new bulb responds to the master and then requests the WiFi details to be transferred. The master bulb then broadcasts the WiFi details, encrypted, across the mesh network. The new bulb is then added to the list of available bulbs in the LIFX smart phone application."
Link to Original Source

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