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XPrize's New Challenge: Turn Air Into Water, Make More Than a Million Dollars (

An anonymous reader shares a CNET report: If you can turn thin air into water, there may be more than $1 million in it for you. XPrize, which creates challenges that pit the brightest minds against one another, is hoping to set off a wave of new innovations in clean water -- and women's safety too. The company announced its Water Abundance XPrize and the Anu & Naveen Jain Women's Safety XPrize on Monday in New Delhi. The first competition will award $1.75 million to any team that can create a device able to produce at least 2,000 liters of water a day from the atmosphere, using completely renewable energy, for at most 2 cents a liter. Teams have up to two years to complete the challenge. India is at the center of the world's water crisis, with access to groundwater depleted in some northern and eastern parts of the country. Water has become so scarce in India that natural arsenic has infiltrated the soil and water in certain regions. While there are systems that can currently extract water from the atmosphere, many of them aren't energy-efficient, or generating enough water. "We know that overuse of groundwater resources are causing the water crisis and it's only getting worse," said Zenia Tata, XPrize's executive director of Global Expansion. The $1 million Women's Safety XPrize calls for an emergency alert system that women can use, even if they don't have access to their phones. The alert would have to be sent automatically and inconspicuously to emergency responders, within 90 seconds, at a cost of $40 or less a year. The device would have to work even in cases where there's no cellphone signal or internet access.

Microsoft Raises UK Cloud, Software Prices 22% After Brexit-Fuelled Pound Drop ( 23

Reader Mickeycaskill writes: Microsoft is to substantially increase its prices for software and cloud services prices offered in British pounds in order to accommodate the sharp drop in the currency against the US dollar in recent weeks. Beginning in January 2017 on-premises enterprise software prices will go up by 13 percent and most enterprise cloud prices will increase by 22 percent, bringing them into line with euro prices. Microsoft said it isn't planning to change its prices for consumer software and cloud services. The value of the pound has fallen by about 18 percent since the EU referendum on 23 June.

Climate Change Could Cross Key Threshold in a Decade, Scientists Say ( 93

The planet could pass a key target on world temperature rise in about a decade, prompting accelerating loss of glaciers, steep declines in water availability, worsening land conflicts and deepening poverty, scientists said this week. But the planet is already two-thirds of the way to that lower and safer goal, and could begin to pass it in about a decade, according to Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre. Reuters reports: With world emissions unlikely to slow quickly enough to hit that target, it will probably be necessary to remove some carbon pollution from the atmosphere to stabilize the planet, scientists said. That could happen by planting forests or by capturing and then pumping underground emissions from power plants. But other changes -- such as reducing food waste and creating more sustainable diets, with less beef and fewer imported greenhouse vegetables -- could also play a big role in meeting the goal, without so many risks, he said.

Internet is Becoming Unreadable Because of a Trend Towards Lighter, Thinner Fonts ( 147

An anonymous reader writes: The internet is becoming unreadable because of a trend towards lighter and thinner fonts, making it difficult for the elderly or visually-impaired to see words clearly, a web expert has found. Where text used to be bold and dark, which contrasted well with predominantly white backgrounds, now many websites are switching to light greys or blues for their type. Award winning blogger Kevin Marks, founder of Microformats and former vice president of web services at BT, decided to look into the trend after becoming concerned that his eyesight was failing because he was increasingly struggling to read on screen text. He found a 'widespread movement' to reduce the contrast between the words and the background, with tech giants Apple, Google and Twitter all altering their typography. True black on white text has a contrast ratio of 21:1 -- the maximum which can be achieved. Most technology companies agree that it is good practice for type to be a minimum of 7:1 so that the visually-impaired can still see text. But Mr Marks, found that even Apple's own typography guidelines, which recommended 7:1 are written in a contrast ratio of 5.5:1.

PayPal Payments and Notifications Are Coming To Facebook Messenger ( 19

PayPal has announced that it's rolling out as an additional payment option within Facebook Messenger, which currently supports payments via debit cards. From a VentureBeat article: PayPal has been pushing to expand its reach into the consumer realm, having struck partnerships with MasterCard, Visa, Vodafone, and Alibaba, among other companies in the past few months alone. With Facebook Messenger on board, this opens PayPal up to a potential one billion users. Facebook first unveiled plans to expand Messenger beyond a messaging app and into a platform last year, letting retailers connect with customers on one of the world's most popular messaging services. Retailers including Everlane and Zulily were among the first partners announced, while big-name brands such as KLM have since signed up to embrace Messenger as a platform.

AT&T's $85B US Bid For Time Warner Sparks Antitrust Fears in Washington ( 76

An anonymous reader writes: The two top members of the Senate's antitrust subcommittee said Sunday that they plan to probe a colossal deal between AT&T and Time Warner. In a statement, Mike Lee, R-Utah., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. -- chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively, of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights -- said AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner "would potentially raise significant antitrust issues" that the panel would "carefully examine." AT&T Chairman and Chief Executive Randall Stephenson announced the $85 billion deal Saturday as "a great fit" that will combine the "world's best premium content with the networks to deliver it to every screen." Among those new properties are HBO, Turner Broadcasting System and Warner Bros., which would give them ownership of Cinemax, CNN and DC Comics, to name a few. Last year, AT&T completed the purchase of DirecTV, the country's largest satellite television provider. In an interview with NBC News, Klobuchar pointed to past mega-media acquisitions -- including the purchase of NBCUniversal by Comcast in 2011 and of Time Warner Cable by Charter Communications -- and said the "sheer volume" of the deal should give regulators pause.Presidential candidate Donald Trump has said that he would not approve of this deal if elected as the President. In the meanwhile, Bernie Sanders have also asked Obama administration to kill this agreement. The Vermont Senator said, "The deal would mean higher prices and fewer choices for the American people,"

Swedish Administrative Court Bans Drones With Cameras ( 75

An anonymous reader writes: The ruling of the Swedish administrative courts forbids anyone to fly a drone equipped with a camera as long as its not "... to document crime or prevent accidents...". They also rule that there is no exception for the ban for commercial use or in journalistic purposes. According to the court the issue with the drones is that is not "controlled locally"

The ban could cause a great problems for the drone industry within Sweden and the UAS Sweden has taken a stand against the ruling because of how it "... strikes against an entire industry that employs thousands of employees."


Women in Computing To Decline To 22% by 2025, Study Warns ( 359

New research warns that at the rate we're going, the number of women in the computing workforce will decline to 22% from 24% by 2025 if nothing is done to encourage more of them to study computer science. From a USA Today report (shared by an anonymous reader): The research from Accenture and nonprofit group Girls Who Code says taking steps now to encourage more women to pursue a computer science education could triple the number of women in computing to 3.9 million in that same timeframe. Women account for 24% of computing jobs today, but could account for 39% by 2025, according to the report, Cracking the Gender Code. And greater numbers of women entering computer science could boost women's cumulative earnings by $299 billion and help the U.S. fill the growing demand for computing talent, said Julie Sweet, Accenture's group chief executive for North America.

Elon Musk's Mars Colony Would Have a Horde of Mining Robots ( 150

An anonymous reader shares an Engadget report: If it wasn't already clear that Elon Musk has considered virtually every aspect of what it would take to colonize Mars, it is now. As part of his Reddit AMA session, the SpaceX founder has revealed that his vision of a permanent colony would entail a huge number of "miner/tunneling droids." The robots would build large volumes of underground pressurized space for industrial activity, leaving geodesic domes (made of carbon fiber and glass) for everyday living. As a resident, you might never see the 'ugly' side of settling the Red Planet. Musk also explained how his colony would get to the point where it can reliably refuel spacecraft all by itself. Dragon capsules would serve as scouts, helping find the "best way" to extract water for fuel reactions. An unmanned Heart of Gold spaceship would then deliver the basics for a propellant plant, while the first crewed mission would finish that plant. After that, SpaceX would double the number of flights between each ideal Earth-Mars rendezvous (every 26 months) until the colony can reliably produce fuel by itself. Oh, and don't worry about today's Falcon 9 rockets being consigned to the history books. Although the main booster for interplanetary travel will "have an easier time of things," Musk believes that the final iteration of Falcon 9 (Block 5) could be used "almost indefinitely" if properly maintained. Production on Block 5 should fly in the next 6 to 8 months.

China Electronics Firm To Recall Some US Products After Hacking Attack ( 63

An anonymous reader writes:Chinese firm Hangzhou Xiongmai said it will recall some of its products sold in the United States after it was identified by security researchers as having made parts for devices that were targeted in a major hacking attack on Friday. Hackers unleashed a complex attack on the Internet through common devices like webcams and digital recorders, and cut access to some of the world's best known websites in a stunning breach of global internet stability. The electronics components firm, which makes parts for surveillance cameras, said in a statement on its official microblog that it would recall some of its earlier products sold in the United States, strengthen password functions and send users a patch for products made before April last year. It said the biggest issue was users not changing default passwords, adding that, overall, its products were well protected from cyber security breaches. It said reports that its products made up the bulk of those targeted in the attack were false. "Security issues are a problem facing all mankind. Since industry giants have experienced them, Xiongmai is not afraid to experience them once, too," the company statement said.
Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.7 Reaches End of Life, Users Urged To Move To Linux 4.8 ( 71

prisoninmate writes: The Linux 4.7 kernel branch officially reached end of life, and it has already been marked as EOL on the website, which means that the Linux kernel 4.7.10 maintenance update is the last one that will be released for this branch. It also means that you need to either update your system to the Linux 4.7.10 kernel release or move to a more recent kernel branch, such as Linux 4.8. In related news, Linux kernel 4.8.4 is now the latest stable and most advanced kernel version, which is already available for users of the Solus and Arch Linux operating systems, and it's coming soon to other GNU/Linux distributions powered by a kernel from the Linux 4.8 series. Users are urged to update their systems as soon as possible.

Slashdot Asks: How Can We Prevent Packet-Flooding DDOS Attacks? ( 269

Just last month Brian Krebs wrote "What appears to be missing is any sense of urgency to address the DDoS threat on a coordinated, global scale," warning that countless ISPs still weren't implementing the BCP38 security standard, which was released "more than a dozen years ago" to filter spoofed traffic. That's one possible solution, but Slashdot reader dgallard suggests the PEIP and Fair Service proposals by Don Cohen: PEIP (Path Enhanced IP) extends the IP protocol to enable determining the router path of packets sent to a target host. Currently, there is no information to indicate which routers a packet traversed on its way to a destination (DDOS target), enabling use of forged source IP addresses to attack the target via packet flooding... Rather than attempting to prevent attack packets, instead PEIP provides a way to rate-limit all packets based on their router path to a destination.
I've also heard people suggest "just unplug everything," but on Friday the Wall Street Journal's Christopher Mim suggested another point of leverage, tweeting "We need laws that allow civil and/or criminal penalties for companies that sell systems this insecure." Is the best solution technical or legislative -- and does it involve hardware or software? Leave your best thoughts in the comments. How can we prevent packet-flooding DDOS attacks?

A New Attack Allows Intercepting Or Blocking Of Every LTE Phone Call And Text ( 71

All LTE networks and devices are vulnerable to a new attack demonstrated at the Ruxon security conference in Melbourne. mask.of.sanity shared this article from The Register: It exploits LTE fall-back mechanisms designed to ensure continuity of phone services in the event of emergency situations that trigger base station overloads... The attacks work through a series of messages sent between malicious base stations spun up by attackers and targeted phones. It results in attackers gaining a man-in-the-middle position from where they can listen to calls or read SMS, or force phones back to 2G GSM networks where only voice and basic data services are available...

[Researcher Wanqiao] Zhang says the attacks are possible because LTE networks allow users to be handed over to underused base stations in the event of natural disasters to ensure connectivity. "You can create a denial of service attack against cellphones by forcing phones into fake networks with no services," Zhang told the conference. "You can make malicious calls and SMS and...eavesdrop on all voice and data traffic."

Open Source

Fedora 25 Beta Linux Distro Now Available For Raspberry Pi ( 48

Slashdot reader BrianFagioli writes: Fedora 25 Beta Workstation is now available for both the Raspberry Pi 2 and Raspberry Pi 3. In addition to the Workstation image, Fedora 25 Beta Server is available too. Owners of ARMv6-powered Pi models, such as the Pi Zero, are out of luck, as the operating system will not be made available for them.
Peter Robinson (from the Fedora release engineering team) writes, "The most asked question Iâ(TM)ve had for a number of years is around support of the Raspberry Pi. Itâ(TM)s also something Iâ(TM)ve been working towards for a very long time on my own time... The kernel supports all the drivers youâ(TM)d expect, like various USB WiFi dongles, etc. You can run whichever desktop you like or Docker/Kubernetes/Ceph/Gluster as a group of devices -- albeit it slowly over a single shared USB bus!"

US Police Consider Flying Drones Armed With Stun Guns ( 141

Slashdot reader Presto Vivace tipped us off to news reports that U.S. police officials are considering the use of flying drones to taser their suspects. From Digital Trends: Talks have recently taken place between police officials and Taser International, a company that makes stun guns and body cameras for use by law enforcement, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. While no decision has yet been made on whether to strap stun guns to remotely controlled quadcopters, Taser spokesman Steve Tuttle said his team were discussing the idea with officials as part of broader talks about "various future concepts."

Tuttle told the Journal that such technology could be deployed in "high-risk scenarios such as terrorist barricades" to incapacitate the suspect rather than kill them outright... However, critics are likely to fear that such a plan would ultimately lead to the police loading up drones with guns and other weapons. Portland police department's Pete Simpson told the Journal that while a Taser drone could be useful in some circumstances, getting the public "to accept an unmanned vehicle that's got some sort of weapon on it might be a hurdle to overcome."

The article points out that there's already a police force in India with flying drones equipped with pepper spray.

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