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+ - Rocket Labs picks New Zealand for its launch site

schwit1 writes: The small sat rocket company Rocket Labs has chosen a location in New Zealand as its future launch site.

Rocket Lab's all-black Electron booster offers launch for less than $5 million. The company, whose investors include Lockheed Martin, is targeting clients such as university programs and small start-ups, Beck said, and it already has 30 potential clients.

The company didn't specify how much it was investing in the site, which is due to be completed in the fourth quarter. New Zealand, which has been used in the past by the National Aeronautical and Space Administration, is considered a prime location because rockets launched from that deep in the Southern hemisphere can reach a wide range of Earth orbits. Rocket Lab's remote site on the Kaitorete Spit in the Canterbury region also means it has less air and sea traffic, which translates into more frequent launches and economies of scale, the company said. It also will no longer compete for airspace with the U.S. government.

Rocket Labs will have to actually launch something to really make the competition heat up. This announcement, however, illustrates that in the long run, the United States has some significant disadvantages as a spaceport location.

+ - With Hobbit and LoTR in the can, Trolls no longer welcome in New Zealand->

schwit1 writes: New Zealand has become the latest country to think bad online manners are amenable to legislation.

The country last night passed a controversial bill, the Harmful Digital Communications Bill, in the hope of stemming "cyber-bullying".

The bill creates a regime under which digital communications causing "serious emotional distress" are subject to an escalating regime that starts as "negotiation, mediation or persuasionâ but reaches up to creating the offences of not complying with an order, and "causing harm by posting digital communication".

The most serious offenders would face two years in jail or a maximum fine of NZ$50,000 (US$33,900).

Link to Original Source

+ - What happens when it's suddenly illegal to move money out of your country?

schwit1 writes: Basic Internet services disappear.

Just as individual Greeks are losing access to Apple's iCloud, as the Athens staff of Bloomberg News recently discovered, so companies are finding themselves cut off from services critical to their ongoing operations.

The problem demonstrates a hidden risk in today's otherwise efficient vertical disintegration. Taking for granted the easy flow of money across borders, system designers never foresaw a situation in which companies with adequate funds would find that they couldn't pay foreign vendors.

"Greek companies are not able at this moment to pay for hosting (Amazon), storage (Dropbox), email services (MailChimp) and many other services," says Jon Vlachogiannis, a Bay Area entrepreneur, in an email. Without these services, otherwise viable businesses are in trouble.

Vlachogiannis and other expats are stepping up to pay the bills from California, rescuing companies with astonishingly small amounts.

+ - MOD to release UK's top secret UFO 'X-Files' that 'could prove aliens exist'->

schwit1 writes: The major boost for alien hunters can be exclusively revealed by Express.co.uk on World UFO Day, which campaigners are using to call for the release of all such records globally.

UFO researchers, backed by House of Lords peer, have been fighting for the release of 18 top secret Ministry of Defence (MoD) files about UFO sightings from more than 30 years ago.

The Government faced claims of a cover-up from conspiracy theorists when their release was stalled at the end of 2013.

Link to Original Source

+ - Angler Exploit Kit Evasion Techniques Keep Cryptowall Thriving->

msm1267 writes: Since the Angler Exploit Kit began pushing the latest version of Cryptowall ransomware, the kit has gone to great lengths evade detection from IDS and other security technologies. The latest tactic is an almost-daily change to URL patterns used by the kit in HTTP GET requests for the Angler landing page, requests for a Flash exploit, and requests for the Cryptowall 3.0 payload. Traffic patterns as of yesterday are almost unrecognizable compared to those of as recent as three weeks ago.
Link to Original Source

+ - Teachers granted power to 'confiscate and destroy' unhealthy lunch->

schwit1 writes: The British government is urging school leaders to use their "common law powers" to search student lunches and potentially confiscate any items they deem "unhealthy or inappropriate."

Education minister Lord Nash tells Express, "Schools have common law powers to search pupils, with their consent, for items." There is nothing to prevent schools from having a policy of inspecting lunch boxes for food items that are prohibited under their school food policies.

"A member of staff may confiscate, keep or destroy such items found as a result of the search if it is reasonable to do so in the circumstances." The government's foray into lunch inspections began when Cherry Tree Primary School in Colchester banned a Peperami sausage snack and scotch eggs from a six-year-old girl's lunch. Manchester's Manley Park Primary School seized cereal bars from lunches, according to the Huffington Post.

Link to Original Source

+ - Windows 10 to Share WiFi Credentials by Default?

ewhac writes: Even those of us who reflexively (and correctly) bash Microsoft every chance we get are having trouble wrapping our heads around this one. It seems that the latest build of Windows 10 has a new feature called Wi-Fi Sense which, by default, will share your WiFi connection profiles and credentials with all your Facebook friends, and Skype and Outlook.com contacts.

Wi-Fi Sense is apparently a feature that first appeared on Windows Phone 8.1, and is described by Managing Editor Sam Sabri in this Windows Central article from last year — without irony or sarcasm — as a, "killer feature." The apparent use case for this "killer feature" is to more conveniently share the connection credentials to your own WAP with your friends. If, however, you would prefer your WAP's info to not be shared, you have but to append the string "_optout" to your SSID (no solution is provided for people whose SSIDs are already near the 32-character limit). The WinPhone version of Wi-Fi Sense reportedly does not display the WAP's password to recipients but, since recipients can connect, the password is (probably) stored using a symmetric cipher and, thus, can be easily extracted. Wi-Fi Sense will also automagically click through any ToS page that typically appears on public WiFi access points (thus destroying any remaining illusion of meaningful assent to such so-called contracts).

Wi-Fi Sense can apparently be turned off completely, but its default state appears to be enabled and sharing everything. It is unclear how much, if any, of this "killer feature" will be in the final release of Windows 10.

+ - NASA to waste $150 million on SLS engine that will be used once.

schwit1 writes: NASA's safety panel has noticed that NASA's SLS program either plans to spend $150 million man-rating a rocket engine it will only use once, or will fly a manned mission without man-rating that engine.

The Block 1 SLS is the "basic model", sporting a Delta Cryogenic Second Stage (DCSS), renamed the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion System (ICPS) for SLS. The current plan calls for this [interim] stage to be used on [the unmanned] Exploration Mission -1 (EM-1) and [manned] Exploration Mission -2 (EM-2), prior to moving to the [Exploration Upper Stage] — also to be built by Boeing — that will become the workhorse for SLS.

However, using the [interim upper stage] on a crewed mission will require it to be human rated. It is likely NASA will also need to fly the [Exploration Upper Stage] on an unmanned mission to validate the new stage ahead of human missions. This has been presenting NASA with a headache for some time, although it took the recent ASAP meeting to finally confirm those concerns to the public.

Up until now, no one at NASA would admit that their SLS plans called for flying humans with an upper stage that has not been man-rated. They don't have the funds to man-rate it, and even if they get those funds, man-rating it will likely cause SLS's schedule to slip even more, something NASA fears because they expect the commercial manned ships to be flying sooner and with increasing capability. The contrast — a delayed and unflown and very expensive SLS vs a flying and inexpensive commercial effort — will not do SLS good politically.

However, if they are going to insist (properly I think) that SpaceX and Boeing man-rate their capsules and rockets, then NASA is going to have to man-rate its SLS systems as well. The result: more problems for SLS, contributing to what I believe will be its inevitable cancellation.

Government marches on!

+ - Test Pilot Admits the F-35 Can't Dogfight->

schwit1 writes: A test pilot has some very, very bad news about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The pricey new stealth jet can't turn or climb fast enough to hit an enemy plane during a dogfight or to dodge the enemy's own gunfire, the pilot reported following a day of mock air battles back in January.

And to add insult to injury, the JSF flier discovered he couldn't even comfortably move his head inside the radar-evading jet's cramped cockpit. "The helmet was too large for the space inside the canopy to adequately see behind the aircraft." That allowed the F-16 to sneak up on him.

The test pilot's report is the latest evidence of fundamental problems with the design of the F-35 — which, at a total program cost of more than a trillion dollars, is history's most expensive weapon.

Your tax dollars at work.

Link to Original Source

+ - This Is How Uber Takes Over a City->

schwit1 writes: To conquer America's quirkiest city, the company unleashed its biggest weapon.

Charlie Hales, the mayor of Portland, Ore., was running a zoning hearing last December when he missed a call on his cell from David Plouffe, the campaign mastermind behind Barack Obama's ascent. Although Hales had never met him, Plouffe left a voice mail that had an air of charming familiarity, reminiscing about the 2008 rally when 75,000 Obama supporters thronged Portland's waterfront. "Sure love your city," Plouffe gushed. "I'm now working for Uber and would love to talk."

Over the past year, Uber built one of the largest and most successful lobbying forces in the country, with a presence in almost every statehouse. It has 250 lobbyists and 29 lobbying firms registered in capitols around the nation, at least a third more than Wal-Mart Stores. That doesn't count municipal lobbyists. In Portland, the 28th-largest city in the U.S., 10 people would ultimately register to lobby on Uber's behalf.

Link to Original Source

+ - Audi joins race to the Moon

schwit1 writes: The carmaker Audi has joined one of the teams competing for the Google Lunar X-Prize.

Audi's part in the project will be to supply technical know how though its Audi Concept Design Studio, including the application of its quattro all-wheel drive technology and its experience in lightweight construction, electric mobility, and piloted driving. The company says it will also help in testing, trials, and quality assurance.

The rover, now named the "Audi lunar quattro," is scheduled to launch sometime in 2017 and is aimed at a landing zone north of the lunar equator somewhere near 1972 Apollo 17 mission landing site, through the law prevents the rover from actually visiting it because it's a protected area. "The concept of a privately financed mission to the moon is fascinating," says Luca de Meo, Audi Board Member for Sales and Marketing. "And innovative ideas need supporters that promote them. We want to send a signal with our involvement with the Part-Time Scientists and also motivate other partners to contribute their know-how."

The article may be wrong when it states "the law prevents the rover from actually visiting" the Apollo 17 site. This law was passed by the U.S. Congress, and this Google team and Audi are not based in the U.S. They are not under its jurisdiction.

+ - Black hole awakes after 26 years

schwit1 writes: For the first time since 1989, the black hole in V404 Cygni, a system comprising a black hole and a star, has reawakened, suddenly emitting high energy outbursts beginning on June 15.

First signs of renewed activity in V404 Cygni were spotted by the Burst Alert Telescope on NASA's Swift satellite, detecting a sudden burst of gamma rays, and then triggering observations with its X-ray telescope. Soon after, MAXI (Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image), part of the Japanese Experiment Module on the International Space Station, observed an X-ray flare from the same patch of the sky.

These first detections triggered a massive campaign of observations from ground-based telescopes and from space-based observatories, to monitor V404 Cygni at many different wavelengths across the electromagnetic spectrum.

The outbursts are probably occurring because the black hole is gobbling up material that has fallen into it.

While the 1989 outburst helped astronomers gain their first understand of the behavior of a black hole in a star system, this outburst will help them understand how such systems evolve and change over time.

Comment: House bill would force the Supreme Court to enroll (Score 1) 591 591

https://thehill.com/blogs/floo... Babin’s potential legislation would only let the federal government provide healthcare to the Supreme Court and its staff via ObamaCare exchanges.

“By eliminating their exemption from ObamaCare, they will see firsthand what the American people are forced to live with,” he added.

+ - Apple starts to cull apps that feature the Confederate flag from the App Store->

Mark Wilson writes: Following the Charleston shootings in which nine people were killed, debate has raged about whether it is reasonable to display the Confederate flag. A symbol of the South for some, a racist throwback for far more, the flag has already been ditched by the likes of eBay and WalMart. Now Apple has started to clear the App Store of apps that feature the rebel flag.

Developers have been contacted by Apple with a warning that their apps are being dropped because "because it includes images of the confederate flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways". While this is clearly the case in some instances, the new policy has also affected Civil War games that include the flag for historical reasons.

Link to Original Source

This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.

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