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Power

Slowing Wind Energy Production Suffers From Lack of Wind 151

HughPickens.com writes: Gregory Meyer reports at the Financial Times that electricity generated by U.S. wind farms fell 6 per cent in the first half of the year, even as the nation expanded wind generation capacity by 9 per cent. The reason was some of the softest air currents in 40 years, cutting power sales from wind farms to utilities. The situation is likely to intensify into the first quarter of 2016 as the El Niño weather phenomenon holds back wind speeds around much of the U.S. "We never anticipated a drop-off in the wind resource as we have witnessed over the past six months," says David Crane. Wind generated 4.4 per cent of US electricity last year, up from 0.4 per cent a decade earlier. But this year U.S. wind plants' "capacity factor" has averaged just a third of their total generating capacity, down from 38 per cent in 2014.

EIA noted that slightly slower wind speeds can reduce output by a disproportionately large amount. "Capacity factors for wind turbines are largely determined by wind resources," says a report from the Energy Information Administration. "Because the output from a turbine varies nonlinearly with wind speed, small decreases in wind speeds can result in much larger changes in output and, in turn, capacity factors." In January of 2015, wind speeds remained 20 to 45 percent below normal on areas of the west coast, but it was especially bad in California, Oregon, and Washington, where those levels dropped to 50 percent below normal during the month of January.

Submission + - Connecting the Unwired World With Balloons, Satellites, Lasers & Drones->

1sockchuck writes: New projects are seeking to connect the unwired world using balloons, drones, lasers and satellites to deliver wireless Internet. There are dueling low-earth orbit satellite initiatives backed by billionaires Elon Musk (SpaceX) and Richard Branson (OneWeb), while Google's Project Loon is using balloons (which sometimes crash) and Facebook is building a solar-powered UAV (Project Aquila). A question for Slashdotters: How will data storage infrastructure evolve in wireless-only access zones? Are local data centers necessary? If so, how are they different than in markets with fiber infrastructure?
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Another Neurodegenerative Disease Linked To A Prion->

MTorrice writes: A new study concludes that a brain protein causes the rare, Parkinson’s-like disease called multiple systems atrophy (MSA) by acting like a prion, the misbehaving type of protein infamously linked to mad cow disease. The researchers say the results are the most definitive demonstration to date that proteins involved in many neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, exhibit prionlike behavior: They can misfold into shapes that then coax others to do the same, leading to protein aggregation that forms neurotoxic clumps. If these other diseases are caused by prionlike proteins, then scientists could develop treatments that slow or stop disease progression by designing molecules that block prion propagation.
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Earth

Earth Home To 3 Trillion Trees, Half As Many As When Human Civilization Arose 215

sciencehabit writes: Earth today supports more than 3 trillion trees—eight times as many as we thought a decade ago. But that number is rapidly shrinking, according to a global tree survey released today (abstract). We are losing 15 billion trees a year to toilet paper, timber, farmland expansion, and other human needs. So even though the total count is large, the decline is "a cause for concern," says Tom Spies, a forest ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Corvallis, Oregon, who was not involved with the work.
Earth

60,000 Antelope Died In 4 Days, and No One Knows Why 176

An anonymous reader writes: The Saiga antelope has been hunted to near extinction. They've been put on the endangered species list, and they play a vital role in the ecosystems around Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan, where their grazing helps get rid of fallen plant matter, which is prevented from decomposing by the cold temperatures. But earlier this year, a huge die-off hit the Saiga antelope herd in Kazakhstan, felling over 120,000 of them in a few short weeks. Scientists say an entire group of 60,000 died within a four-day span. The cause of this die-off is still a mystery. The researchers suspect some sort of bacteria, and early on pointed to Pasteurella strains. But those bacteria don't usually cause this much damage unless something else has weakened the antelope. "There is nothing so special about it. The question is why it developed so rapidly and spread to all the animals," one researcher said. They're looking into environmental factors, but nothing else seems too far out of the ordinary.
Microsoft

FTC: Machinima Took Secret Cash To Shill Xbox One 141

jfruh writes: The Machinima gaming video network took money from a marketing agency hired by Microsoft to pay "influencers" up to $45,000 to promote the Xbox One. Crucially, the video endorsers did not disclose that they'd been paid, which has caused trouble with the FTC. For its part, Machinima notes that this happened in 2013, when the current management was not in charge.

Comment Aggressive outsourcing (Score 1) 444

The Disney scandal earlier this year happens a lot, where it does not get into the mainstream news, I believe.

It's hard to enjoy a work environment, where each year increases the probability you'll be training your internationalized replacement (H1B | offshored | outsourced to a service company), then get a layoff. ...And finding a next gig, that has a decent set of salary and benefits, becomes that much harder.

In the ten years that I have worked from my current company, most of the data center staff have been replaced by IBM service employees. The EDI department has a large fraction of their workforce as offshore personnel. Scans of the internal job openings, that used to show needs for DBAs, programmers, and such, are almost non-existent for those now.

Security

Despite Reports of Hacking, Baby Monitors Remain Woefully Insecure 100

itwbennett writes: Researchers from security firm Rapid7 have found serious vulnerabilities in nine video baby monitors from various manufacturers. Among them: Hidden and hard-coded credentials providing local and remote access over services like SSH or Telnet; unencrypted video streams sent to the user's mobile phone; unencrypted Web and mobile application functions and unprotected API keys and credentials; and other vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to abuse the devices, according to a white paper released Tuesday. Rapid7 reported the issues it found to the affected manufacturers and to US-CERT back in July, but many vulnerabilities remain unpatched.
Programming

You Don't Have To Be Good At Math To Learn To Code 584

HughPickens.com writes: Olga Khazan writes in The Atlantic that learning to program involves a lot of Googling, logic, and trial-and-error—but almost nothing beyond fourth-grade arithmetic. Victoria Fine explains how she taught herself how to code despite hating math. Her secret? Lots and lots of Googling. "Like any good Google query, a successful answer depended on asking the right question. "How do I make a website red" was not nearly as successful a question as "CSS color values HEX red" combined with "CSS background color." I spent a lot of time learning to Google like a pro. I carefully learned the vocabulary of HTML so I knew what I was talking about when I asked the Internet for answers." According to Khazan while it's true that some types of code look a little like equations, you don't really have to solve them, just know where they go and what they do. "In most cases you can see that the hard maths (the physical and geometry) is either done by a computer or has been done by someone else. While the calculations do happen and are essential to the successful running of the program, the programmer does not need to know how they are done." Khazan says that in order to figure out what your program should say, you're going to need some basic logic skills and you'll need to be skilled at copying and pasting things from online repositories and tweaking them slightly. "But humanities majors, fresh off writing reams of term papers, are probably more talented at that than math majors are."
Businesses

Why Do So Many Tech Workers Dislike Their Jobs? 444

Nerval's Lobster writes: So what if you work for a tech company that offers free lunch, in-house gym, and dry cleaning? A new survey suggests that a majority of software engineers, developers, and sysadmins are miserable. Granted, the survey in question only involved 5,000 respondents, so it shouldn't be viewed as comprehensive (it was also conducted by a company that deals in employee engagement), but it's nonetheless insightful into the reasons why a lot of tech pros apparently dislike their jobs. Apparently perks don't matter quite so much if your employees have no sense of mission, don't have a clear sense of how they can get promoted, and don't interact with their co-workers very well. While that should be glaringly obvious, a lot of companies are still fixated on the idea that minor perks will apparently translate into huge morale boosts; but free smoothies in the cafeteria only goes so far.
China

China Preparing To Send Crewed Shenzhou 11 To Tiangong 2 Space Station In 2016 54

MarkWhittington writes: China has not sent people into space since the mission of the Shenzhou 10 to the prototype space station Tiangong 1 in June 2013. Since then the Chinese have accomplished the landing of the Chang'e 3 on the lunar surface. According to a story in Space Daily, the hiatus in Chinese crewed spaceflight is about to end with the launch of the Tiangong-2 prototype space station in 2016 with the subsequent visit by a crew of Chinese astronauts on board the Shenzhou 11. The mission will be a prelude to the construction of a larger Chinese space station, slated to be completed by 2022.

Submission + - Another Huge Reason to Disable UPnP on Your Router->

An anonymous reader writes: CERT/CC reports that attackers using " a specially-crafted web page may be able to silently open ports in a user's firewall or perform other administrative actions on the gateway router". There is PoC code and a video showing a remote attacker adding many UPnP mappings to a firewall in order to gain direct access to the network. The other interesting part is that the PoC code is written entirely in PHP, JavaScript, and HTML meaning there would be no security prompts during the attack.
Link to Original Source
Wikipedia

Wikipedia Blocks Hundreds of Accounts Doing Paid Editing 142

jan_jes writes: After weeks of investigation, Wikipedia has blocked 381 user accounts for "black hat" editing. The reason for the ban is that the accounts were engaged in undisclosed paid advocacy — the practice of accepting or charging money to promote external interests on Wikipedia without revealing their affiliation, in violation of Wikimedia's Terms of Use. In addition to blocking the 381 "sockpuppet" account, the editors deleted 210 articles created by these accounts.

Submission + - 95% Of Websites In 10 New TLDs Are Suspicious

An anonymous reader writes: Much has changed since the early days of the Internet when the Web had only six common top level domains. Back then, what most consumers and businesses encountered were a small number of standard TLDs. However, since 2013, the number of new TLDs has skyrocketed. Blue Coat analyzed hundreds of millions of Web requests from more than 15,000 businesses and 75 million users and revealed new research that shows the TLDs, or “neighborhoods,” most associated with suspicious websites. More than 95 percent of websites in 10 different TLDs are rated as suspicious, with that percentage increasing to 100 percent for the top two highest ranking TLDs, .zip and .review.

Submission + - New keychain vulnerability in OSX - Compromised passwords delivered via SMS->

PES118 writes: We have discovered a critical vulnerability in OSX that allows a malicious party to steal all passwords, certificates and private keys from the OSX keychain without user consent. We disclosed, because we feel that it is the right thing to do, knowing that a vulnerability of this magnitude would have disastrous consequences (you wouldn’t be able to open any third-party file on your computer without the risk of losing all of your sensitive information until Apple issues a patch). But this doesn’t prevent us from going public either.
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