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737 'Tailstrike' Caused By Typo On a Tablet ( 366

An anonymous reader writes: In August of last year, a Boeing 737 operated by Qantas experienced a tailstrike while taking off — the thrust wasn't great enough for the tail to clear the runway, so it clipped the ground. The investigation into the incident (PDF) has finally been completed, and it found the cause of the accident: the co-pilot accidentally entered the wrong plane weight data into the iPad used to make calculations about the takeoff thrust. "First, when working out the plane's takeoff weight on a notepad, the captain forgot to carry the "1," resulting in an erroneous weight of 66,400kg rather than 76,400kg. Second, the co-pilot made a "transposition error" when carrying out the same calculation on the Qantas on-board performance tool (OPT)—an iPad app for calculating takeoff speed, amongst other things. "Transposition error" is an investigatory euphemism for "he accidentally hit 6 on the keyboard rather than 7." This caused the problem: "For a weight of 76,400kg and temperature of 35C, the engine thrust should've been set at 93.1 percent with a takeoff speed of 157 knots; instead, due to the errors, the thrust was set to 88.4 percent and takeoff speed was 146 knots."

Dubai Buys Commercial Jetpacks For Firefighters ( 91

_Sharp'r_ writes: Want to fly a jetpack? Join the fire department in Dubai. In a skyscraper filled city where cops drive Ferraris and Lamborghinis, it was actually cheaper to buy twenty $150K jetpacks (plus two simulators) for fire rescue rather than find 2700 ft ladders. Slashdot has had stories about these coming for five years. A VR-headset based jetpack flight-simulator for the masses would be fun, too, even better if the object were to put out fires in skyscrapers..

Ask Slashdot: Local Navigation Assistance For the Elderly? 161

An anonymous reader writes: I have an older (90+) relative who is experiencing mental decline. He's still fairly functional (you can have a decent conversation with him, and he's amazingly positive for someone in his condition), but his memory of anything recent is terrible. He's in an assisted living center, but he's having serious trouble for example finding his way to the dining hall and back to his room. He has visitors daily and the staff are supportive but 24/7 oversight is not an option. I am looking for a navigation system suitable for use indoors that will help him move around. The distances involved are short, and his schedule is pretty regular so it would be OK to have a schedule of where he usually is at a given time (lounge, dining hall, room) and a big green arrow that always points out which way he should go to get there (so it would need to accommodate doors and hallways etc, not just the straight line direction). Is anyone here aware of such a system? I've thought of trying to write an app for a smartphone but I'm not sure if GPS is really the way to go, seeing as it's indoors. Also, battery life would be an issue — he would have trouble remembering what to do if it stopped working and I'm not sure if he'd remember (or be able) to connect a charger. For the same reason it would need to be pretty bomb-proof — he's not in position to troubleshoot if it fails.

Rookie Dongle Warns Parents When Their Kids Are Driving Too Fast ( 153

An anonymous reader writes: Dongle Apps, a Belgian tech company, has introduced a new system which alerts a car owner if the vehicle's driver is breaking the speed limit. Initially designed for parents and guardians to keep an eye on their young ones behind the wheel, the 'Rookie Dongle', connects to the vehicle's on-board diagnostics (OBD II) port, internal GPS and mobile technologies to push real-time data to the cloud and send notifications to car owners via email or text when the driver is speeding, suddenly accelerates, brakes hard or has high RPM levels.
The Military

F-35 Ejection Seat Fears Ground Lightweight Pilots 179

An anonymous reader writes: Writing for Defense News, Lara Seligman and Aaron Mehta report that "[c]oncerns about increased risk of injury to F-35 pilots during low-speed ejections have prompted the US military services to temporarily restrict pilots who weigh less than 136 pounds from flying the aircraft. During August tests of the ejection seat, built by Martin-Baker, testers discovered an increased risk of neck injury when a lightweight pilot is flying at slower speeds. Until the problem is fixed, the services decided to restrict pilots weighing under 136 pounds from operating the plane, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, F-35 integration office director, told Defense News in a Tuesday interview."

Fukushima: 1,600 Dead From Evacuation Stress 178

seven of five writes: The NYT reports that radiation-related hysteria and mistakes have cost the lives of nearly 1,600 Japanese since the Fukushima disaster. The panic to evacuate, not the radiation itself, led to poor choices such as moving hospital intensive care patients from hospitals to emergency quarters. The government's perception of radiation exposure risk, rather than the actual risk itself, may have caused far more harm than it prevented.

How the Car Industry Has Hidden Its Software Behind the DMCA 126

Lucas123 writes: The DCMA has allowed carmakers to keep third parties from looking at the code in their electronic control modules. The effect has been that independent researchers are wary of probing vehicle code, which may have lead companies like Volkswagen to get away with cheating emissions tests far longer than necessary. In a July letter to the U.S. Copyright Office, the Environmental Protection Agency expressed its own concern of the protection provided by the DMCA to carmakers, saying it's "difficult for anyone other than the vehicle manufacturer to obtain access to the software." Kit Walsh, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the legal uncertainly created by the DMCA "makes it easier for manufacturers to conceal intentional wrongdoing. The EFF has petitioned the U.S. Copyright Office for an exemption to the DMCA for embedded vehicle code so that independent research can be performed on electronic control modules (ECMs), which run a myriad of systems, including emissions. Eben Moglen was right.
Wireless Networking

Massachusetts Boarding School Sued Over Wi-Fi Sickness 588

alphadogg writes: The parents of an anonymous student at the Fay School in Southborough, Mass., allege that the Wi-Fi at the institution is making their child sick, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court earlier this month (PDF). The child, identified only as "G" in court documents, is said to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome. The radio waves emitted by the school's Wi-Fi routers cause G serious discomfort and physical harm, according to the suit. "After being continually denied access to the school in order to test their student's classroom, and having their request that all classrooms in which their child is present have the WiFi network replaced with a hard-wired Ethernet denied, the parents sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act."

MIT and Samsung Researching Solid-State Batteries 60

jones_supa writes: Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Samsung have developed a new approach to one of the three basic components of batteries, the electrolyte. The new findings are based on the idea that a solid electrolyte, rather than liquid, could greatly improve both device lifetime and safety, while also providing a significant boost in power density. The new type of electrolyte would also cope better in cold temperatures. The results are reported in the journal Nature Materials in a paper by MIT postdoc Yan Wang, visiting professor of materials science and engineering Gerbrand Ceder, and five others.

US No-Fly List Uses 'Predictive Judgement' Instead of Hard Evidence 264 writes: The Guardian reports that in a little-noticed filing before an Oregon federal judge, the US Justice Department and the FBI conceded that stopping U.S. and other citizens from traveling on airplanes is a matter of "predictive assessments about potential threats." "By its very nature, identifying individuals who 'may be a threat to civil aviation or national security' is a predictive judgment intended to prevent future acts of terrorism in an uncertain context," Justice Department officials Benjamin C Mizer and Anthony J Coppolino told the court. It is believed to be the government's most direct acknowledgment to date that people are not allowed to fly because of what the government believes they might do and not what they have already done. The ACLU has asked Judge Anna Brown to conduct her own review of the error rate in the government's predictions modeling – a process the ACLU likens to the "pre-crime" of Philip K Dick's science fiction. "It has been nearly five years since plaintiffs on the no-fly list filed this case seeking a fair process by which to clear their names and regain a right that most other Americans take for granted," say ACLU lawyers.

The Obama administration is seeking to block the release of further information about how the predictions are made, as damaging to national security. "If the Government were required to provide full notice of its reasons for placing an individual on the No Fly List and to turn over all evidence (both incriminating and exculpatory) supporting the No Fly determination, the No Fly redress process would place highly sensitive national security information directly in the hands of terrorist organizations and other adversaries," says the assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division, Michael Steinbach.

Uber Lowers Drunk Driving Arrests In San Francisco Dramatically 204

schwit1 writes: According to crime statistics from the San Francisco Police Department there were only two drunken driving arrests last New Year's Eve in San Francisco, the lowest since 2009. This news comes on the heels of a new study revealing that the introduction of UberX reduces drunk driving deaths across California. Temple University's Brad Greenwood and Sunil Wattal published a paper that shows cheap taxi-like options make it easier for people to make the safer decision to call for a ride rather than driving home themselves.

Ecuador Declares State of Emergency Over Volcano 44

An anonymous reader writes: The President of Ecuador declared a state of emergency following growing fears over the increasing activity in the Cotopaxi volcano. Rafael Correa ordered the evacuation of a few hundred people who live near the volcano as a precaution. The first signs of eruption began last Friday when hot ash shot out of the volcano, covering areas up to 30 miles away. The volcano's last major eruptive period occurred in the late 19th century

Google Research Leads To Automated Real-Time Pedestrian Detection 57

An anonymous reader writes with a link to a story about one of the unexciting but vital bits of technology that will need to be even further developed as autonomous cars' presence grows: making sure that those cars don't hit people. Google researchers have recently presented findings about a method that tops previous ones for real-time pedestrian detection using neural nets "that is both extremely fast and extremely accurate." From the article: There are other approaches that provide a real-time solution on the GPU but in doing so, have not achieved accuracy targets (in this real-time approach there was a miss rate of 42% on the Caltech pedestrian detection benchmark). Another approach called the VeryFast method can run at 100 frames per second (compared to the Google team's 15) but the miss rate is even greater. Others that emphasize accuracy, even with GPU acceleration, are up to 195 times slower.

Britain Shuts Off 750,000 Streetlights With No Impact On Crime Or Crashes 307

Flash Modin writes: English cities are hard up for cash as the national government dolls out cuts. And in response, the country's councils — local governing bodies — have slashed costs by turning off an estimated 750,000 streetlights. Fans of the night sky and reduced energy usage are happy, but the move has also sparked a national debate. The Automobile Association claims six people have died as a direct result of dimming the lights. But a new study released Wednesday looked at 14 years of data from 63 local authorities across England and Wales and found that residents' chances of being attacked, robbed, or struck by a car were no worse on the darker streets.
United Kingdom

UK Pilots Want Lithium Battery Powered Devices In the Cabin 69

AmiMoJo writes: The professional association and trade union of UK pilots The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), has asked airlines to require travelers to carry devices that run on lithium-based batteries with them in the passenger cabin instead of in checked luggage. The union hoping to address what it considers a significant potential safety risk, baggage fires going unnoticed in the hold. BALPA explains, "when they short circuit, [they] have a tendency to burst into high intensity fires, which are difficult to extinguish." They further point out, "lithium battery fires have caused at least three cargo aircraft crashes and the UN safety regulator has banned a specific type of lithium battery (lithium metal) from being carried as cargo on passenger aircraft."

Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man -- who has no gills. -- Ambrose Bierce