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Submission + - Human spaceflight set to return to the Kennedy Space Center in 2017 (blastingnews.com)

MarkWhittington writes: When the space shuttle program ended in 2011, it was considered an end of an era for human space flight, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The Kennedy Space Center was hit especially hard, with layoffs decimating the workforce that used to support shuttle missions. However, things are starting to turn around, with more launches occurring in 2015 than had happened on the space coast since 2003. 2017 will see that return of human spaceflight to the Kennedy Space Center as both Boeing and SpaceX will start testing its commercial crew vehicles in anticipation of operations to and from the International Space Station starting in 2018. For the past five years, human space flight has been outsourced to Russia at great expense.
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Deal With Glare On Cellphones? 135

An anonymous reader writes: As far as I know, I am not particularly sensitive to glare; I've used CRTs in offices full of overhead fluorescent lights, and just ignored the terrible reflections, and I've worked in places where the natural sunlight cleverly funneled in by architects was bounced around by glass walls and mirrors in just the right way to irritate. Still, I never found it much of a problem. Now, though, I work in a field that has me both working outdoors a lot, and traveling by car a fair amount, too. Now that days are getting longer, especially up here in the Pacific Northwest, I know that I'll be squinting and cursing a lot at my phone. My question(s): Are there are any modern smart phones you can recommend with a truly or even passably day-light readable screen? I don't care if it's e-ink (that would be cool), transflective (long promised!) or maybe just a secondary screen with some daylight-readable technology. Barring that, how do you deal with glare on a phone, when you need to use it on a sunny day? Same answer could apply to laptop use, I suppose. Do you build a little glare shield, of the kind that camera operators use? Wear a giant hood of privacy and darkness? I know I'm not alone — I see lots of others squinting and cursing at their cell phones, cupping it with their hands at their eyes, or ducking into scant shade just to see whether the call that's coming is one they need to take, or to read a text. I've tried quite a few phones that have been praised by reviewers for their bright, crisp, daylight-friendly displays, but I think those reviewers probably lived in New York or San Francisco, and were reading in either shadow or fog, because even the brightest Samsungs, Motorolas, and LGs I've seen cannot hold a candle to the summer sun north of Seattle.

Submission + - Microsoft Breaks System File Checker Utility

jones_supa writes: Another lemon hits Windows quality assurance team. The operating system comes with a useful tool called System File Checker (sfc.exe) that can be used to verify the integrity of system files, and if any corrupted files are found, they can be replaced with original copies from a hive. Microsoft has recently acknowledged a bug with SFC in Windows 10 version 1511 (November Update), explaining that the company is already working on a fix that should be released very soon. Currently the error message "Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them." can be a false alarm. When you install Windows, it drops in a certain version of opencl.dll. However hardware drivers may also install their own replacement version of opencl.dll. SFC does not take this into account.
Handhelds

Ubuntu Tablet Now Available For Pre-Order 81

prisoninmate writes: During last month's MWC 2016 event, Canonical had the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet on display at their huge booth, along with the superb Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition smartphone, and the Sony Xperia Z1 and OnePlus One Ubuntu Phones. The company teased users last week with the availability for pre-order of the first ever Ubuntu tablet for March 28, and that day has arrived. Probably the most important aspect of the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet, which interested many users, was the price, and we can tell you now that it costs €289.90 for the Full HD version, and €249.90 for the HD model. It can be pre-ordered now from BQ's online store.
The Military

Slaughter At The Bridge: Uncovering A Colossal Bronze Age Battle (sciencemag.org) 135

schwit1 quotes a report from the American Association for the Advancement of Science via Sciencemag.org: About 3200 years ago, two armies clashed at a river crossing near the Baltic Sea. The confrontation can't be found in any history books -- the written word didn't become common in these parts for another 2000 years -- but this was no skirmish between local clans. Thousands of warriors came together in a brutal struggle, perhaps fought on a single day, using weapons crafted from wood, flint, and bronze, a metal that was then the height of military technology. "If our hypothesis is correct that all of the finds belong to the same event, we're dealing with a conflict of a scale hitherto completely unknown north of the Alps," says dig co-director Thomas Terberger, an archaeologist at the Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage in Hannover. "There's nothing to compare it to." It may even be the earliest direct evidence -- with weapons and warriors together -- of a battle this size anywhere in the ancient world.

Submission + - Ubuntu Tablet Is Now Available for Pre-Order

prisoninmate writes: During last month's MWC 2016 event, Canonical had the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet on display at their huge booth, along with the superb Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition smartphone, and the Sony Xperia Z1 and OnePlus One Ubuntu Phones. The company teased users last week with the availability for pre-order of the first ever Ubuntu tablet for March 28, and that day has arrived. Probably the most important aspect of the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet, which interested many users, was the price, and we can tell you now that it costs €289.90 for the Full HD version, and €249.90 for the HD model. It can be pre-ordered now from BQ's online store.
Earth

Volcano Erupts In Southwest Alaska, Sending Ash 20,000 Feet (google.com) 76

USA Today reports that according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Pavlov Volcano, "about 600 miles southwest of Anchorage, erupted at 4:18 p.m. local time. The agency says the eruption also led to tremors on the ground. ... The USGS has raised the volcano alert level to "Warning" and the aviation warning to 'Red.'" Television station KTUU of Anchorage has a few photos of the emerging ash plume, which has so far risen to about 20,000 feet (hence that aviation warning).
Media

Redbox Plans To Launch New Streaming Service 'Redbox Digital' (consumerreports.org) 62

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Consumer Reports: Redbox, the movie and game-rental kiosk service, might be getting back into the streaming game a few years after its digital streaming service, Redbox Instant, failed. The new Redbox streaming service could be a pay-per-view option for rentals and purchases like Apple iTunes or Vudu. The trade publication Variety -- which broke the story, citing "multiple sources" familiar with the company -- said that the new service will be called Redbox Digital and that Redbox is close to launching a beta of the service. Compared to a subscription service, negotiating the rights to pay-per-view titles should be easier for Redbox. And since many Redbox streaming customers already use their site to search for and reserve titles, it would be much more convenient for them to be able to immediately order a digital version. Another potential benefit would be the price of the rentals. The reason why physical Redbox kiosks are popular is because the $1.50 rental price for DVDs, and $2 rental price for Blu-ray discs are relatively cheap. Redbox Digital may gain some attraction if, and only if, there are considerable savings for users, otherwise there would be little reason to choose Redbox over a more established pay-per-view service, such as Amazon Instant, Google Play, or Vudu.
Space

Japan's Space Agency Loses Contact With New X-Ray Telescope Satellite "Hitomi" 77

As carried here by the San Francisco Chronicle, The Associated Press reports that Japanese space agency JAXA reports that it has lost contact with its new satellite "Hitomi," deployed last month and designed to explore deep space with X-ray telescopes. The AP story linked quotes Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who surmises that an "energetic event" has sent the craft into a tumble. The agency's release on the failure is terse, but leaves some room for hope: The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) found that communication with the X-ray Astronomy Satellite âoeHitomiâ (ASTRO-H), launched on February 17, 2016 (JST), failed from the start of its operation originally scheduled at 16:40, Saturday March 26 (JST). Up to now, JAXA has not been able to figure out the state of health of the satellite. While the cause of communication failure is under investigation, JAXA received short signal from the satellite, and is working for recovery.

Submission + - Why BART is Falling Apart

HughPickens.com writes: Matthias Gafni writes in the San Jose Mercury News that the engineers who built BART, the rapid transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area that started operation in 1972, used principles developed for the aerospace industry rather than tried-and-true rail standards. And that's the trouble. "Back when BART was created, (the designers) were absolutely determined to establish a new product, and they intended to export it around the world," says Rod Diridon. "They may have gotten a little ahead of themselves using new technology. Although it worked, it was extremely complex for the time period, and they never did export the equipment because it was so difficult for other countries to install and maintain." The Space Age innovations have made it more challenging for the transit agency to maintain the BART system from the beginning. Plus, the aging system was designed to move 100,000 people per week and now carries 430,000 a day, so the loss of even a single car gets magnified with crowded commutes, delays and bus bridges. For example, rather than stick to the standard rail track width of 4 feet, 8.5 inches, BART engineers debuted a 5-foot, 6-inch width track, a gauge that remains to this day almost exclusive to the system. Industry experts say the unique track width necessitates custom-made wheel sets, brake assemblies and track repair vehicles.

Another problem is the dearth of readily available replacement parts for BART's one-of-a-kind systems. Maintenance crews often scavenge parts from old, out-of-service cars to avoid lengthy waits for orders to come in; sometimes mechanics are forced to manufacture the equipment themselves. "Imagine a computer produced in 1972," says David Hardt. "No one is supporting that old equipment any longer, but those same microprocessors are what we have controlling our logic systems." Right now BART needs 100 thyristors at a total cost of $100,000. BART engineers said it could take 22 weeks to ship them to the San Francisco Bay Area to replace in BART’s "C" cars, which make up the older cars in the fleet. Right now, the agency has none. Nick Josefowitz says it makes no sense to dwell on design decisions made a half-century ago. "I think we need to use what we have today and build off that, rather than fantasize what could have been done in the past. The BART system was state of the art when it was built, and now it's technologically obsolete and coming to the end of its useful life."

Submission + - Stunning: Ultra-HD View of the Sun; Timelapse Video of 2015 (amateurradio.com)

NW7US writes: This is a stunning timelapse view of the entire year, 2015, of the Sun in action, rotating once every 25 days. SDO's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) captures a shot of the sun every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths. The images shown here are based on a wavelength of 171 angstroms, which is in the extreme ultraviolet range and shows solar material at around 600,000 Kelvin (about 1 million degrees F.) In this wavelength it is easy to see the sun's 25-day rotation.

During the course of the video, the sun subtly increases and decreases in apparent size. This is because the distance between the SDO spacecraft and the sun varies over time. The image is, however, remarkably consistent and stable despite the fact that SDO orbits Earth at 6,876 mph and the Earth orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour.

Scientists study these images to better understand the complex electromagnetic system causing the constant movement on the sun, which can ultimately have an effect closer to Earth, too: Flares and another type of solar explosion called coronal mass ejections can sometimes disrupt technology in space. Moreover, studying our closest star is one way of learning about other stars in the galaxy. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. built, operates, and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

Full story: http://www.amateurradio.com/ul...

Submission + - Slaughter at the bridge: Uncovering a colossal Bronze Age battle (sciencemag.org)

schwit1 writes: About 3200 years ago, two armies clashed at a river crossing near the Baltic Sea. The confrontation can't be found in any history books-the written word didn't become common in these parts for another 2000 years-but this was no skirmish between local clans. Thousands of warriors came together in a brutal struggle, perhaps fought on a single day, using weapons crafted from wood, flint, and bronze, a metal that was then the height of military technology.

"If our hypothesis is correct that all of the finds belong to the same event, we're dealing with a conflict of a scale hitherto completely unknown north of the Alps," says dig co-director Thomas Terberger, an archaeologist at the Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage in Hannover. "There's nothing to compare it to." It may even be the earliest direct evidence-with weapons and warriors together-of a battle this size anywhere in the ancient world.

Democrats

NJ Legislator Proposes Fine For Walking While Phone-Distracted (philly.com) 194

schwit1 writes: A bill proposed this week by Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (D., Camden) would impose a fine of up to $50 and possibly 15 days in jail for pedestrians caught using their cellphones without hands-free devices while walking on public sidewalks and along roadways. If the bill becomes law, 'petextrians' — people who text while walking — would face the same penalties as jaywalkers in New Jersey. From the article: Researchers say distracted walkers are more likely to ignore traffic lights or fail to look both ways before crossing the street. ... Lampitt said she wants that message to hit home in New Jersey for pedestrians and motorists who could easily be distracted while looking at mobile devices. Her bill, however, faces an uncertain future in the Legislature. It has not been posted for a vote and Lampitt acknowledged she might have a tough time getting it passed." Distracted pedestrians surely pose some risks, but they don't budge the needle compared to overbearing officialdom.

Submission + - Finnish Passenger Train Traffic Opens for Competition (yle.fi)

jones_supa writes: Finland's railway network operator VR (Valtion Rautatiet) may see its traditional monopoly on domestic passenger train traffic weakened next year when new legislation will introduce limited competition to the railway sector. Chief Minna Kivimäki from the Ministry of Transport and Communications says that preparations are in their final stages, and that widespread interest among railroad tycoons has already been generated. More than ten different parties have indicated that they would be interested in joining in, many from abroad. The ministry says that the measures to introduce direct competition would concern the country's entire rail network, with the exception of the local Helsinki region transport area. One domestic company that has expressed interest is the Scottish discount bus firm Onnibus, which already runs a successful bus operation in Finland. The terrain of Finland's railway network is unique and a solution has to be created that suits the country's traffic volumes and distribution best. Kivimäki promises that quieter railway routes with fewer passengers won't be forgotten in the partial-privatization process, either.

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