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Submission + - Self-driving Taxis Will Become the Most Disgusting Spaces on Earth (thetruthaboutcars.com)

schwit1 writes: Animals are universally disgusting and humans are no exception. While we've mastered land, air, and sea, consider the spaces we occupy while we traverse those expanses. Rental cars are returned filled with candy wrappers, spilt soda, and human hair. Uber vehicles are routinely vomited in. The subway is a haven for disease. Airplane interiors experience havoc within the first hour of a flight as the worst of us begin defecating into the seats, too lazy and weak to control ourselves.

Autonomous taxis aren't likely to endure better treatment. Without a driver present, the urge to have drunken sex will be far too strong — and those odds only increase when you add a second occupant to the equation. With nobody watching, we'll leave half-consumed hamburgers and cans of sweetened tea on their floors that will roll around and turn the carpet into a sticky magnet for larger pieces of garbage.

Bloomberg speculates the never-ending process of cleaning other people's filth will cost large firms with autonomous fleets tens of millions of dollars annually. That number swells into the billions when you account for insurance, maintenance, storage, and the accelerated devaluation of such vehicles.

Submission + - Microsoft cuts cord with local utility to buy green

Frosty Piss writes: Microsoft will bypass Puget Sound Energy to secure carbon-free power on wholesale markets under an agreement with state regulators. The agreement calls for Microsoft to pay a $23.6million transition fee to Puget Sound Energy, which the utility will pass on to its Western Washington customers. In 2015, 60 percent of PSE electricity came from coal and natural-gas plants, according to company statistics. State regulators and Puget Sound Energy determined that Microsoft is legally responsible for a share of the Colstrip, Montana coal-fired generating plant costs. Microsoft seeks to secure its power from sources that emit no carbon emissions.

Submission + - A new generation of giant rockets is about to blast off. (latimes.com)

DataDivision writes: A new generation of giant rockets is about to blast off.

It’s been 44 years since the mighty Saturn V last thundered skyward from a launch pad it at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The towering rocket, generating enough power to lift 269,000 pounds into orbit, had been the workhorse of the Apollo moon missions.

Later this year, SpaceX plans to launch its most powerful rocket yet from the same pad. The long-awaited Falcon Heavy is key to the Hawthorne Company’s plans to ramp up its defense business, send tourist around the moon and launch its first uncrewed mission to Mars.

But unlike the Saturn V, the Falcon Heavy will have plenty of competition.

Years in the works and the product of hundreds of millions of dollars of investments, a new generation of huge rockets will soon take to the skies. Their manufacturers range from space start-ups to aerospace giants to the space agencies of the United States, Russia and China.

Submission + - Beneath Helsinki, Finns Prepare for Russian Threat (wsj.com)

schwit1 writes: Russia is planning its biggest military exercise in years, and its neighbor Finland is going underground.

A subterranean city beneath Helsinki forms a crucial line of defense for the capital. Finnish soldiers routinely train here, with a mission to keep Finland’s government running and city residents safe in a network that features more than 124 miles of tunnels, passageways and shelters.

Much of the network has been adapted over recent decades with defense in mind. Blast doors seal entrances. Passageways are adapted so the military—with a regiment dedicated to controlling the tunnels—can contain enemy infiltrators. Utility and subway tunnels provide arteries for communications, water supply and Wi-Fi. There is enough shelter space for all city’s more than 600,000 residents in the event of an attack or disaster.

The subterranean defenses have long been in place, but the Finns are now stepping up preparedness as Russia readies for Zapad 2017, the country’s largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War, in September.

Submission + - Google to Replace SMS One-Time Codes With Mobile Prompts in 2FA Procedure (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Starting next week Google will overhaul its two-step verification (2SV) procedure and replace one-time codes sent via SMS with prompts shown on the user's smartphone. This change in the Google 2SV scheme comes after an increase in SS7 telephony protocol attacks that have allowed hackers to take over people's mobile phone numbers to receive one-time codes via SMS and break into user accounts.

The rollout process for this feature is scheduled to start next week when Google will invite users to try mobile prompts instead of receiving a one-time code via SMS. Users need an Internet-connected smartphone to use this feature. Every time users will try to log in, Google will show a prompt on their phone asking the account owner to approve the login request.

Only users with SMS-based 2SV enabled for their accounts will be invited to this program. Users that utilize security keys will not be invited, as security keys are considered a more secure solution for protecting accounts. Google says it will re-invite users to join the mobile prompt program after six months. iOS users must have the Google Search app installed on their devices to be able to see 2SV login prompts.

Submission + - Scrap dealer finds Apollo-era NASA computers in dead engineer's basement (arstechnica.com)

Joe_NoOne writes: A pair of Apollo-era NASA computers and hundreds of mysterious tape reels have been discovered in a deceased engineer’s basement in Pittsburgh. Most of the tapes are unmarked, but the majority of the rest appear to be instrumentation reels for Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, NASA’s fly-by missions to Jupiter and Saturn. At some point in the early 1970s, an IBM engineer working for NASA at the height of the Space Race took home the computers—and the mysterious tape reels. A scrap dealer, invited to clean out the deceased’s electronics-filled basement, discovered the computers. The devices were clearly labelled “NASA PROPERTY,” so the dealer called NASA to report the find.

"Please tell NASA these items were not stolen," the engineer's heir told the scrap dealer, according to the report. "They belonged to IBM Allegheny Center Pittsburgh, PA 15212. During the 1968-1972 timeframe, IBM was getting rid of the items so [redacted engineer] asked if he could have them and was told he could have them."

Submission + - Indonesian Government Officials Blocks Messaging App Telegram (coconuts.co)

DemonOnIce writes: Coconuts Jakarta has reported that Indonesian Government officials started to block messaging app Telegram, “It’s true (Telegram has been blocked), we are currently preparing an explanation,” said Noor Iza, acting head of public relations at Menkominfo, as quoted by Detik this afternoon.

Noor asked for patience as Menkominfo would soon release a full statement explaining the block.

Indonesian internet users started noticing this afternoon that they were unable to access Telegram through multiple major ISPs, including Telkom and XL.

It is likely that the Indonesian government blocked the apps on the grounds that it was being used to spread information regarding terrorism, treason or radical ideologies, any of which would be a violation of UU ITE.

Submission + - China's Grip on Maps Hinders Self-Driving Car Makers (wsj.com)

schwit1 writes:

Self-driving cars need detailed maps to help them discern their exact location, navigate tricky intersections and avoid fixed objects like buildings. But China limits the amount of mapping that can be done by foreign companies, citing national security concerns.

Global car makers already need to partner with a local company to open factories in China, but some are skeptical they will be able to find a way to operate their autonomous-car software in China because of the mapping restrictions.

Brian McClendon, an industry pioneer who helped created Google Maps and later headed up Uber Technologies Inc.’s self-driving effort, said he doubted U.S. software would ever be adopted for self-driving cars in China.

“We’re going to have a bifurcated market for self-driving—China will do China and the U.S. will do U.S. and the rest of the world will quickly choose and do one or the other,” said Mr. McClendon, now a research professor at the University of Kansas.

I’m reminded a bit of the Soviet Union’s strict controls on fax machines and photocopiers — for all the good that did them — and have to wonder if anyone outside China will trust Beijing-approved technology.

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