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Technology

Creator of Minecraft Develops Experimental VR Project (roadtovr.com) 63

An anonymous reader writes: Despite his on-again off-again relationship with VR headset maker Oculus, the creator of Minecraft, Markus "Notch" Persson, has developed an experimental virtual reality project that leverages WebVR technology to run directly within a browser using a Rift DK2 headset. Notch contributed $10,000 to Oculus' 2012 Kickstarter, and even traveled from Europe to visit the company in its early days. After Facebook's $2 billion acquisition of Oculus in 2014, his enthusiasm dwindled, saying "I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook." One month before selling his own company to Microsoft for a similar sum, he said he was "officially over being upset about Facebook buying Oculus."
Medicine

US Regulators Find Serious Deficiencies At Theranos Lab (wsj.com) 66

An anonymous reader writes: 2016 has not started well for blood-testing startup Theranos. Already facing allegations of data manipulation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have found problems with Theranos' laboratory in Newark, California, putting the company's relationship with the Medicare program in danger. WSJ reports: "It isn't clear exactly what regulators have faulted Theranos for in their latest inspection, which took several months. Adverse findings would be another regulatory setback for one of Silicon Valley's highest-profile startups, valued at about $9 billion in 2014. Theranos already has stopped collecting tiny samples of blood from patients' fingers for all but one of its tests while it waits for the Food and Drug Administration to review the company's applications for wider use of the proprietary vials called 'nanotainers.' In October, the FDA said it had determined that the nanotainers were an 'uncleared medical device.'"
Youtube

YouTube and the Modern Mad Scientist (hackaday.com) 223

szczys writes: Making change for $1.00 and getting $1.10 back. That's the premise of overunity, free energy, and perpetual motion experiments. Using money as the the analogy is fitting because these concepts are heavily aligned with scams trying to land a payday for their "research". But there is another branch of people working on them: tinkerers who believe they can actually solve the problem. Laws of thermodynamics say otherwise, but this isn't necessarily wasted time. Other breakthroughs are waiting to be discovered as these mad scientists try to remove all efficiency losses from their doomed systems. YouTube can be an interesting place to look for ideas on low-friction, high efficiency fabrication.
Crime

Bank Heists - Another Profession That Technology Is Killing Off 131

HughPickens.com writes: In 1992 there were 847 bank robberies in the UK; by 2011 that had dropped to just 66. Now Lawrence Dobbs writes in the Telegraph about how technology is killing off this age old profession. "The development of more sophisticated alarm systems and CCTV, as well as supporting forensic developments such as DNA analysis and facial recognition software, all serve to assist police," says Jim Dickie, a former detective who spent more than 30 years with the Metropolitan Police. Those who do try are either feckless opportunists or "serial offenders" who have already served time and are easily found on police databases. "Hands-on heists are a dying art, because those who have a background in it are literally dying off."

In 2015 a gang of aging jewel thieves pulled off one last spectacular job. Using a diamond-tipped drill and a 10-ton hydraulic ram, they broke into the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd vault and made off with at least £14million in precious stones, gems, bullion and jewelry in the largest burglary in English history. But the Hatton Garden burglars were caught because they used one of their own cars within view of a security camera. According to David Kelly, it's CCTV which has changed things most. "It's now virtually impossible to travel through any public space in a major metropolitan area without being captured. They're everywhere, the image quality is better, and the ability to store images for longer has increased." Then there are your physical alarm devices: motion sensors, window monitors which detect glass shattering, or devices which trigger when a door is opened. "These devices can now be deployed wirelessly – in an older building, where you might not have wires in place," says Kelly. "There are also tools at the disposal of the private sector, in cooperation with the public sector, which are perhaps not matters of common knowledge, and there's a tactical advantage to our clients in them remaining that way." Add to this the various technologies used to protect or track the loot itself – dye packs hiding inside stacks of banknotes, which explode when they leave a certain range; GPS tracking on security vans and inside cash containers – and you can see why even a hardened criminal might prefer to stay in bed.
Crime

Cyber-Scammers Steal €50 Million From Austrian Airplane Manufacturer (softpedia.com) 39

An anonymous reader writes: FACC Operations GmbH, an Austrian company that produces various airplane parts for companies like Airbus and Boeing, has announced a cyber-incident during which cyber-fraudsters managed to steal around €50 million from their bank accounts. While CEO Fraud attacks manage to steal a few thousand dollars here and there, never has a company lost so much cash liquidity in one incident. Stock price took a tumble immediately.
Businesses

Apple To Launch First European Development Center (thestack.com) 43

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has announced plans to launch its first iOS app development center in Europe. The location will be in Naples, Italy, with the center aiming to teach youngsters how to code. The announcement was made 21 January and explained how the center would provide students (children and young adults) the practical skills and training required for developing iOS apps for "the world's most innovative and vibrant app ecosystem". The center will support teachers and provide a specialized curriculum that will prepare the youths to be a part of Apple's developer community.
Space

The Russian Plan To Use Space Mirrors To Turn Night Into Day (vice.com) 126

merbs writes: Throughout the early 90s, a team of Russian astronomers and engineers were hellbent on literally turning night into day. By shining a giant mirror onto the earth from space, they figured they could bring sunlight to the depths of night, extending the workday, cutting back on lighting costs and allowing laborers to toil longer. If this sounds a bit like the plot of a Bond film, well, it's that too. The difference is that for a second there, the scientists, led by Vladimir Sergeevich Syromyatnikov, one of the most important astronautical engineers in history, actually pulled it off.
Transportation

Opel Dealers Accused of Modyfing the Software of Polluting Cars (deredactie.be) 147

An anonymous reader writes: Belgian public broadcasting station VRT has discovered that GM Opel dealerships in Belgium seem to be updating engine management code when Zafira cars equipped with the 1.6 litre CDTI diesel engine are brought in for service. After the software change, the nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions drop sharply, at the cost of reduced power output. Bern University of Applied Sciences and environmental lobby club DUH previously found this model to pass European emissions standards only when the rear wheels are not rotating. When the rear wheels are made to spin along, NOx emissions increase to several times the limit set by European regulations. General Motors denied using defeat devices as well as the update program that seems to be taking place. However, an anonymous mechanic at an Opel dealership states that GM started pushing updates shortly after the Dieselgate scandal broke.
United States

What's In a Tool? a Case For Made In the USA (hackaday.com) 329

szczys writes: You have the choice of buying a wrench made in the USA and one made in China. Which one should you buy? The question is not a straightforward one. Tools are judged by their ability to do the job repeatedly and without fail. To achieve this, only the best of design and manufacturing will do. But this is a high bar when you factor in price competition which often leads to outsourcing production. Gerrit Coetzee looks at this issue, comparing two instances of the same model of Crescent brand adjustable wrench; one a legacy manufactured in the USA, another outsourced for manufacture in China.
Biotech

Sensors Slip Into the Brain, Then Dissolve When Their Job Is Done (ieee.org) 20

An anonymous reader writes: Silicon-based electronic circuits that operate flawlessly in the body for some number of days--soon weeks--and then harmlessly dissolve: they're what University of Illinois professor John Rogers says is the next frontier of electronics. Today he released news of successful animal tests on such transient electronics designed for use in brain implants, but says they could be used just about anywhere in the body. As these devices move into larger animal and eventually human tests, Rogers says he'll be working on the next generation--devices that intervene to accelerate healing or manage medical conditions, not just monitor them.
Moon

Reusable SpaceX Rocket Has Implications For a Return To the Moon (examiner.com) 51

MarkWhittington writes: While it is unclear what, if any, implications the recent successful landing of the first stage of the Falcon 9 first stage means for the future of space travel, planetary scientist and space commentator Paul Spudis suggested that the feat and the similar one performed earlier by Blue Origin could have some benefit for a return to the moon. In the meantime, a test of the engines in the recovered first stage had mixed results. The engines fired alright, but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reported, "thrust fluctuations" that might have been caused by "debris ingestion."
Government

Belgium's Aging Nuclear Plants Worry Neighbors (phys.org) 319

mdsolar writes with news that Belgium's decision to restart a reactor at its Tihange nuclear power plant and its aging Doel plant have some of its European neighbors uneasy. Phys.org reports: "As the two cooling towers at Belgium's Doel nuclear power belch thick white steam into a wintry sky, people over the border in the Dutch town of Nieuw-Namen are on edge. They are part of a groundswell of concern in the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg over the safety of Belgium's seven aging reactors at Doel and at Tihange, further to the south and east. 'I'm happy Holland, Germany and Luxembourg are reacting because they (officials) don't listen to you and me,' butcher Filip van Vlierberge told AFP at his shop in Nieuw-Namen, where people can see the Doel plant. Benedicte, one of his customers, nodded in agreement. Van Vlierberge said he was particularly uneasy with the Belgian government's decision in December to extend the lives of 40-year-old reactors Doel 1 and Doel 2 until 2025 under a deal to preserve jobs and invest in the transition to cleaner energy."
Microsoft

Microsoft Leaks New HoloLens Details (mashable.com) 71

New submitter moriarty1972 writes: More details about Microsoft's HoloLens have come out. The device will offer roughly five to five and a half hours of battery life when working on Word documents or email, and about two and a half hours when using it for highly intensive computational work involving detailed renderings. Mashable reports: "Microsoft's augmented reality headset called the HoloLens has already won over a number of fans eager to try the device, but details about how it works have been scarce However, a few more bits of information about the HoloLens leaked during a recent event in Tel Aviv, Israel, courtesy of Bruce Harris, a technical evangelist at Microsoft."
Space

SpaceX Successfully Launches Jason-3 Satellite, Rocket Landing Partial Success (theverge.com) 118

An anonymous reader writes: SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket today carrying the Jason-3 ocean monitoring satellite. "Jason-3 data will be used for monitoring global sea level rise, researching human impacts on oceans, aiding prediction of hurricane intensity, and operational marine navigation," NASA said. Unfortunately Space X reports that the attempt to land the Falcon 9 on a drone platform was only a partial success. According to the company twitter page: "First stage on target at droneship but looks like hard landing; broke landing leg." Update: 01/18 04:16 GMT by S : Here's a brief video of the landing attempt (somewhat loud).
Space

The Engineering and Logistics of Building the Giant Magellan Telescope (theconversation.com) 22

New submitter Kenneth Stephen writes: Astronomers have always wanted bigger and better telescopes. Building such telescopes today come with many challenges that require high precision work to resolve. This story describes the design thinking that is being applied to the construction and deployment of the Giant Magellan Telescope. From the article: "One of the challenges of using a large mirror is that it tends to bend under its own weight and the force of wind. The mirror is exposed to wind like a sail on a yacht, but it can only bend by about 100 nanometers before its images become too blurry. The best way to overcome this problem is to make the mirror as stiff as is practical, while also limiting its weight. We accomplish this feat by casting the mirror into a lightweight honeycomb structure. Each mirror has a continuous glass facesheet on top and an almost continuous backsheet, each about one inch thick. Holding the two sheets together is a honeycomb structure consisting of half-inch-thick ribs in a hexagonal pattern. Our honeycomb mirrors are 70 centimeters thick, making them stiff enough to withstand the forces of gravity and wind. But they’re 80 percent hollow and weigh about 16 tons each, light enough that they don’t bend significantly under their own weight."

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