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Submission + - Asl Slashdot: How Hard Is It To Have a Smart Home That's Not 'In The Cloud'? 1

An anonymous reader writes: It's beginning to seem like everything related to home (and much other) automation is basically remote control 'in the cloud' feeding information about you to somebody's advertising system. In principle, this should not be the case, but it is in practice. So how hard is it, really, to do 'home automation' without sending all your data to Google, Samsung, or whoever — just keep it to yourself and share only what you want to share? How hard would it be, for instance, to hack a Nest thermostat so it talks to a home server rather than Google? Or is there something already out there that would do the same thing as a Nest but without 'the cloud' as part of the requirement? Yes, a standard programmable thermostat does 90% of what a Nest does, but there are certain things that it won't do like respond to your comings and goings at odd hours, or be remotely switchable to a different mode (VPN to your own server from your phone and deal with it locally, perhaps?). Fundamentally, is there a way to get the convenience and not expose my entire life and home to unknown actors who by definition (read the terms of service) do not have my best interest in mind?

Submission + - Why Don't Scientists Kill the 'Demon in the Freezer'? 2 writes: Smallpox was one of the most devastating diseases humanity has ever faced, killing more than 300 million people in the 20th century alone. But thanks to the most successful global vaccination campaign in history, the disease was completely eradicated by 1980. By surrounding the last places on earth where smallpox was still occurring — small villages in Asia and Africa — and inoculating everyone in a wide circle around them, D. A. Henderson and the World Health Organization were able to starve the virus of hosts. Smallpox is highly contagious, but it is not spread by insects or animals. When it is gone from the human population, it is gone for good. But Errol Moris writes in the NYT that Henderson didn't really eliminate smallpox. In a handful of laboratories around the world, there are still stocks of smallpox, tucked away in one freezer or another. In 2014 the CDC announced that vials containing the deadly virus had been discovered in a cardboard box in a refrigerator located on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Maryland. How can you say it’s eliminated when it’s still out there, somewhere? The demon in the freezer.

Some scientists say that these residual stocks of smallpox should not be destroyed because some ruthless super-criminal or rogue government might be working on a new smallpox, even more virulent than existing strains of the virus. We may need existing stocks to produce new vaccines to counteract the new viruses. Meanwhile, opponents of retention argue that there’s neither need nor practical reason for keeping the virus around. In a letter to Science magazine published in 1994, the Nobel laureate David Baltimore wrote, “I doubt that we so desperately need to study smallpox that it would be worth the risk inherent in the experimentation.” It all comes down to the question of how best to protect ourselves against ourselves. Is the greater threat to humanity our propensity for error and stupidity, or for dastardly ingenuity?

Comment Re:Important question (Score 1) 47


Your passwords are safe provided you only type them into password fields (as the default iOS keyboard is the only keyboard you can use to type in password text boxes or whatever the technical name for them is).

I use SwiftKey on iOS which was recently acquired by Microsoft so it was only a short amount of time before Google brought out their alternative.

But I am well aware that anything I type can be and is probably used by the developers (Apple make a point of announcing this when installing a third party keyboard).

Comment Algorithms (Score 3, Insightful) 50

I wish social networks would stop trying to prioritise my news feeds and home pages for me. I want every post by every page and person I follow and I want it in chronological order. I want to know that when I scroll back to a certain point I have read everything that has been posted since now and that point in time. I understand advertising and monetising and all that jazz but it really puts me off using social networking sites like Facebook.

Submission + - World's largest commercial aircraft engine fired up for the first time (

schwit1 writes: With a front fan spreading a full 11 ft (3.35 m), the GE9X is a world record holder and generates thrust in the order of 100,000 lb. To accommodate the aeronautical behemoth, the Peebles facility was recently upgraded with a larger air intake, extra fuel tanks to feed the giant engine, and high temperature gear to deal with the hotter, more efficient design.

GE says that the GE9X is currently undergoing its first Full Engine To Test (FETT). This is the next level of the test series, which began in 2011 at the component level, and marks the first test of the complete system, which comes only six months after the engine design was finalized. GE says that this relatively early testing was to ensure that the test data was available as soon as possible for the certification engines, which are scheduled to be installed in GE Aviation’s flying test bed for certification of flight testing in 2018.

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