James Gosling is probably best known for creating the Java programming language while working at Sun Microsystems. Currently, he is the chief software architect at Liquid Robotics. Among other projects, Liquid Robotics makes the Wave Glider, an autonomous, environmentally powered marine robot. James has agreed to take a little time from the oceangoing robots and answer any questions you have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
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First time accepted submitter oritonic1 writes "Since 1980, several teams have tried (and failed) to build a human-powered helicopter that could win the elusive $250,000 Sikorsky prize. But a Canadian start-up, Aerovelo, has finally taken the crown with Atlas, a human-powered craft that managed to stay at least 10 feet in the air, for 60 seconds, within a 30'x30' area."
jfruh writes "The FCC's Universal Service Fund has a noble goal: using a small fee on all U.S. landlines to subsidize universal phone coverage throughout the country. But a recent report reveals that this early 20th centuryy program's design is wildly at odds with 21st century realities: Its main effect now is that poor people living in urban areas are subsidizing rich people living in the country. The FCC says that it's already enacted reforms to combat some of the worst abuses in the report — like subsidies to rural areas that add up to $24,000 per line — but even the $3,000 per line cap now in place seems absurd."
Razgorov Prikazka writes "The Russian Federal Guard Service (FSO), who are in charge of protecting high level politicians like president Putin (amongst others), are 'upgrading' to electric typewriters for writing sensitive documents. They have found out that computers pose a security risk and this is their answer to it. On first sight this seems like a very pragmatic and cost-efficient thing to do. However, the FSO has its roots in the KGB and those were the ones who placed keystroke loggers on the popular IBM Selectric electric typewriter 40 years ago! So how much safer does this make them?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft's big reorganization has begun. Rumors had persisted for weeks that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was planning a massive, once-in-a-lifetime reorganization of the company he's been running for quite some time. Now the plan is out in the open, and things are going to change in huge ways. Microsoft will coalesce around 'a single strategy as one company,' CEO Steve Ballmer wrote in a really lengthy memo posted on Microsoft's Website, 'not a collection of division strategies.' The company's product portfolio — from Windows and Xbox to enterprise applications — will be regarded and operated upon in a holistic manner. Ballmer wants this 'one company' approach to extend how Microsoft handles its advertising, marketing and consumer-service operations. Ballmer also wants to knock down the walls that have slowly grown between Microsoft's various divisions, at least as far as engineering's concerned. The new 'engineering culture' will apparently facilitate collaboration 'across the company,' with an emphasis on cross-group contributions (and maintaining secrecy, of course, for the giant projects). Read on for much more on how Microsoft is reorganizing all its internal groups, as well as a rundown of who's in and who's out on the executive level."
alphadogg writes "Japan's most famous mountain now has 4G coverage. An LTE network on Mount Fuji went live Thursday, providing download speeds of up to 75Mbps on its peak, mountain trails, and rest huts. NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile operator, will provide access to its subscribers as part of its 'Xi' service. DoCoMo said it will provide the service from Thursday through the end of August, to correspond with the mountain's busy climbing season. Tourists are expected to turn out in record numbers this year because Mount Fuji has been named a World Heritage site by Unesco."
darthcamaro writes "Last week, Rain Forrest Puppy (aka Jeff Forristal) first disclosed the initial public report about an Android Master Key flaw. Code was released earlier this week for attackers to exploit the flaw — but what about users? Google has claimed that it has patched the issue but how do you know if your phone/carrier is safe? Forristal's company now has an app for that. But even if your phone is not patched, don't be too worried that risks are limited if you still to a 'safe' app store like Google Play. 'The only way an Android user can be attacked via this master key flaw is if they download a vulnerable application. "It all comes down to where you get your applications from," Forristal said.'"
dryriver writes "Global personal computer (PC) sales have fallen for the fifth quarter in a row, making it the 'longest duration of decline' in history. Worldwide PC shipments totalled 76 million units in the second quarter, a 10.9% drop from a year earlier, according to research firm Gartner. PC sales have been hurt in recent years by the growing popularity of tablets. Gartner said the introduction of low-cost tablets had further hurt PC sales, especially in emerging economies. 'In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC,' said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement."
colinneagle writes "At the Inside 3D Printing conference in Chicago, Microsoft senior product manager Jesse McGatha discussed why Microsoft recently announced that Windows 8.1 will support 3D printing, even giving a demo of a sample app for printing a design file. But in the presentation it became clear that Microsoft is capitalizing on the recent hype of 3D printing and positioning itself to capitalize on the future consumer markets for 3D printing. However, a Gartner analyst recently warned that 3D printing may not become the household consumer item that some are making it out to be. So, by capitalizing on the buzz, Microsoft may attract makers, innovators, and even enterprise customers that use 3D printing, but avoids any risk if the consumer market fails to reach its potential."
cylonlover writes "For a number of years now, police forces around the world have enlisted officers to pose as kids in online chat rooms, in an attempt to draw out pedophiles and track them down. Researchers at Spain's University of Deusto are now hoping to free those cops up for other duties, and to catch more offenders, via a chatbot that they've created. Its name is Negobot, and it plays the part of a 14 year-old girl." (Read the original source, in Spanish).
itwbennett writes "You can try to train them, you can try to streamline or automate the process, you can demand that all bug reports go through a middleman (i.e., a QA tester) or you can throw up your hands and accept that users will forever submit bug reports that in no way help you solve the problem. Like the stages of grief, you've probably tried or experienced all of these at some point. But have you found any approach that really works for getting useful bug reports from your users?"
tsu doh nimh writes "One of the more time-honored traditions at DEF CON — the massive hacker convention held each year in Las Vegas — is 'Spot-the-Fed,' a playful and mostly harmless contest to out undercover government agents that attend the show each year. But that game might be a bit tougher when the conference rolls around again next month: In an apparent reaction to recent revelations about far-reaching U.S. government surveillance programs, DEF CON organizers are asking feds to just stay away: 'I think it would be best for everyone involved if the feds call a "time-out" and not attend DEF CON this year,' conference organizer Jeff Moss wrote in a short post at Defcon.org. Krebsonsecurity writes that after many years of mutual distrust, the hacker community and the feds buried a lot of their differences in the wake of 911, with the director of NSA even delivering the keynote at last year's conference. But this year? Spot the fed may just turn into hack-the-fed."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Just in case you haven't been keeping up with the latest in five-dimensional digital data storage using femtocell-laser inscription, here's an update: it works. A team of researchers at the University of Southampton have demonstrated a way to record and retrieve as much as 360 terabytes of digital data onto a single disk of quartz glass in a way that can withstand temperatures of up to 1000 C and should keep the data stable and readable for up to a million years. 'It is thrilling to think that we have created the first document which will likely survive the human race,' said Peter Kazansky, professor of physical optoelectronics at the Univ. of Southampton's Optical Research Centre. 'This technology can secure the last evidence of civilization: all we've learnt will not be forgotten.' Leaving aside the question of how many Twitter posts and Facebook updates really need to be preserved longer than the human species, the technology appears to have tremendous potential for low-cost, long-term, high-volume archiving of enormous databanks. The quartz-glass technique relies on lasers pulsing one quadrillion times per second though a modulator that splits each pulse into 256 beams, generating a holographic image that is recorded on self-assembled nanostructures within a disk of fused-quartz glass. The data are stored in a five-dimensional matrix—the size and directional orientation of each nanostructured dot becomes dimensions four and five, in addition to the usual X, Y and Z axes that describe physical location. Files are written in three layers of dots, separated by five micrometers within a disk of quartz glass nicknamed 'Superman memory crystal' by researchers. (Hitachi has also been researching something similar.)"
michaelmalak writes "The annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest finished up last week for 2013, but for the first time since its inception in the 1970s, no U.S. college placed in the top 10. Through 1989, a U.S. college won first place every year, but there hasn't been one in first place since 1997. The U.S. college that has won most frequently throughout the contest's history, Stanford, hasn't won since 1991. The 2013 top 10 consists entirely of colleges from Eastern Europe, East Asia, and India."
vinces99 writes "The basics of how a muscle generates power remain the same: Filaments of myosin tugging on filaments of actin shorten, or contract, the muscle – but the power doesn't just come from what's happening straight up and down the length of the muscle, as has been assumed for 50 years. Instead, new research shows that as muscles bulge, the filaments are drawn apart from each other, the myosin tugs at sharper angles over greater distances, and it's that action that deserves credit for half the change in muscle force scientists have been measuring."