Businesses

Apple's New Spaceship Campus Gets a Name, Lifts Off In April (arstechnica.com) 106

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Apple has been building its giant new "spaceship" campus in the company's hometown of Cupertino, California, since December of 2013, and since then fans have paid obsessive attention to the structure. It gets buzzed by drones constantly, and the most popular YouTube videos of the building in progress have amassed well over half-a-million views apiece. The company announced today that the campus will be open to employees starting in April and that the building and environs now have a name: Apple Park. Apple says that moving the 12,000 employees who will work at the campus will take more than six months, and landscaping and construction on some buildings won't be done until the summer. The new campus mostly replaces the university-style Infinite Loop campus Apple has used since 1993, though Apple has said that it will also be keeping the older buildings. The new campus' cost has been estimated at around $5 billion. Apple will also be naming one space on the new campus after its founder and former CEO -- the Steve Jobs Theater will replace the current Town Hall event space that Apple sometimes uses for company meetings and product announcements, and it will open "later this year." The new space will be much larger (it will seat 1,000, compared to roughly 300 for the Town Hall), and the larger space will presumably allow Apple to launch more of its products on its campus rather than having to rent expensive event space in downtown San Francisco. The company is also moving its Worldwide Developers Conference closer to home this year -- it will return to San Jose after many years at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Technology

Help Is On the Way In the War Against Noisy Leaf Blowers 228

HughPickens.com writes: Perry Stein writes in the Washington Post that the fight against noisy leaf blowers is gaining momentum, in part, because residents are framing it as a public health issue. Two-stroke engine leaf blowers mix fuel with oil and don't undergo a complete combustion, emitting a number of toxins, like carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide, which their operators inevitably inhale. Municipalities throughout the country have moved to ban them. "You find two-stroke engines in poorer countries because they're cheap," says James Fallows citing a 2004 National Institutes of Health study showing that two-stroke engines on two- and three-wheeled vehicles in Delhi, India, account for a significant amount of air pollution. "You don't find them in richer countries because they're so dirty and polluting." In Washington DC leaf blowers can't exceed 70 decibels as measured from 50 feet away. (A normal conversation is typically about 60 decibels.) Haskell Small, a composer and concert pianist who is helping to lead the leaf-blower battle in Wesley Heights, describes the sound as "piercing." "When I try to compose or write a letter, there is no way for me to listen to my inner voice, and the leaf blower blanks out all the harmonic combinations."

But help is on the way. A new generation of leaf blowers is more environmentally friendly as the emergence of battery-powered leaf blowers takes us closer to the Holy Grail of equipment that is both (1) powerful and (2) quiet. Fallows supports the notion of a kind of trade-in program, where loud, old leaf blowers are exchanged for the less offensive kind. Ted Rueter, founder of Noise Free America, facilitated one such scheme. In the heat of his front lawn dispute with his neighbor, he offered a solution. "If you agree to use them, I will buy you two new leaf blowers," Rueter told his neighbor. "The offer was accepted and the noise level in his front yard was restored to a peaceful level," says Lawrence Richards. "When it comes to the balancing act of protecting landscaping jobs while reducing noise and emissions, it helps that someone was willing to pay for progress."
Science

Property Managers Use DNA To Sniff Out Dog Poop Offenders 234

Nerval's Lobster writes "News changes during holidays. It gets thinner and lighter and weirder as the hordes of writers and editors who produce the overwhelming flood of news, updates and infotainments go home to annoy friends and family rather than readers and advertisers. Top points in ridiculousness, however, go to the condo- and apartment-complex managers in Braintree, MA, who were inspired to become amateur zoo-geneticists by resident pet owners who not only refused to clean up after their pets, but challenged the apartment managers to prove it was their pets contributing the increasingly hazardous, unpleasant piles of doggie doo on apartment properties. Rather than put up with a neverending supply of potential EcoBot fuel on marring the landscaping, facilities managers took cheek swabs of all the dogs on the property and sent them to A Knoxville, Tenn. that provided DNA profiles under a program with the dignified name 'PooPrints.' Now, for a fee of only $60 per pooch, residential managers can confirm the provider of a pile of PooPrintable material by comparing the DNA in the dog with the DNA in the pile. 'Now you don't really have to worry about dog poop,' said one fan of the practical application of zoological genetic analysis. 'The grass is now ours again, we don't have to worry about it [poop], and that's a good thing.' Restraint is just as important as innovation, of course, so the building managers made a point of telling the AP reporter who wrote the story that they wouldn't extend the effort to identifying which pooch peed on which bush and when. 'That's a little more difficult. We are not going to tackle that.' Finally, in this holiday season, something to be thankful for." The city of Petah Tikva, Israel started a similar identification program in 2008.
Image

New Modeling Algorithms Bring More Detail to Google Earth's 3-D World Screenshot-sm 64

An anonymous reader writes "Google Earth has featured (some) textured 3D buildings and 3D terrain since 2006. New image-based modeling algorithms that process 45-degree Aerial Images automatically, however, will allow Google Earth to display entire 3D cities with fully texture-mapped, accurately modeled 3 dimensional buildings, roads, trees and landscaping/terrain. This YouTube video released by Google shows how effective the technique is at capturing urban areas in 3D. The resulting 3D cities look almost like a high-altitude view of a fully modeled 3D city in games like Grand Theft Auto."
Earth

Officials Sue Couple Who Removed Their Lawn 819

Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that Orange County officials are locked in a legal battle with a couple accused of violating city ordinances for replacing the grass on their lawn with wood chips and drought-tolerant plants, reducing their water usage from 299,221 gallons in 2007 to 58,348 gallons in 2009. The dispute began two years ago, when Quan and Angelina Ha tore out the grass in their front yard. In drought-plagued Southern California, the couple said, the lush grass had been soaking up tens of thousands of gallons of water — and hundreds of dollars — each year. 'We've got a newborn, so we want to start worrying about her future,' said Quan Ha, an information technology manager for Kelley Blue Book. But city officials told the Has they were violating several city laws that require that 40% of residential yards to be landscaped predominantly with live plants. Last summer, the couple tried to appease the city by building a fence around the yard and planting drought-tolerant greenery — lavender, rosemary, horsetail, and pittosporum, among others. But according to the city, their landscaping still did not comply with city standards. At the end of January, the Has received a letter saying they had been charged with a misdemeanor violation and must appear in court. The couple could face a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for their grass-free, eco-friendly landscaping scheme. 'It's just funny that we pay our taxes to the city and the city is now prosecuting us with our own money,' says Quan Ha."
Books

Which Computer Books For Prisoners? 257

Brian D. writes "I've recently begun working with a group that sends books to prisoners in federal and state prisons. We try to match their requests as well as we can. One request that we consistently have trouble filling is for computer books. This is not for lack of books, but because the prisoners' requests tend to be vague and their computer resources are obviously severely limited. Keep in mind that we send prisoners all types of books — from gardening and landscaping to cooking and sailing — about topics they don't have the resources to experiment with. With basically one shelf devoted to books on computing, what types of books should I tell them we should keep? What are the best types of books to send a prisoner who requests a book on 'computer repair?'"
Editorial

A Recipe for Newspaper Survival in the Internet Age 349

I've spent seven years working as a writer and editor for Slashdot's parent company. During this time I've been to at least a dozen mainstream journalists' and editors' conferences where the most-asked question was, "How do we adapt to the Internet?" You'd think, with all the smart people working for newspapers, that by now most of them would have figured out how to use the Internet effectively enough that it would produce a significant percentage of their profits. But they haven't. In this essay I will tell you why they've failed to adapt, and what they must do if they want to survive in a world where the Internet dominates the news business.
Censorship

Domain-Name Protest Is Protected Speech 177

Lunartik links to this Detroit Free Press report, writing "The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled Friday that Michelle Grosse did not violate the law when she used the name of Lucas Nursery and Landscaping Inc. for a Web site she created to complain about the Canton, MI nursery. 'This is a very important case,' said Paul Levy, staff attorney with the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. 'This is a mainstream circuit court that said using the Internet and the name of the company to criticize a company is perfectly legitimate.'"
Space

Brian Walker (aka Rocket Guy) Fires Back 340

Last week, you asked "Rocket Guy" Brian Walker questions about his quest for a taste of space, which he's carrying out the old-fashioned way: by building a rocket and recovery vehicle in his backyard. He's gotten back to us, despite a heavy schedule including a talk for the American Institute of Aerospace and Astronautics, with answers to the 11 questions we sent over, so read on below before you start sketching your private launch facility.
Linux Business

Architecural Design Software for Unix? 4

josquint asks: "I'm on a building/remodel committee for a local non-profit organization. I've been playing with a few CAD programs for Linux (QCad, etc.) and, like their Windows counterparts, they are geared for the professional. I have no serious problems useing this software, but would much rather use something geared toward the amateur. I've used Windows programs from Punch Software, which are quite good, and have utilites for landscaping, framing, wireing, and so forth, and was wondering if there are any Linux counterparts. Punch's software is good, but it won't run on my box, and I don't want to shell out US$89 for a one-time project. Any suggestions?"

Slashdot Top Deals