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Submission + - Pluto Is Emitting X-Rays (digitaltrends.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists have noticed the tiny trans-Neptunium object emitting X-rays, which, if it is confirmed, is both a baffling and exciting discovery. Carey Lisse and Ralph McNutt from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and a team of colleagues detected the X-rays by pointing the Chandra X-Ray Obervatory telescope in Pluto’s direction four different times between February 2014 and August 2015. Seven photons of X-ray light were detected during these observations, confirming the team’s hypothesis that the dwarf planet is detectable on the X-ray spectrum, potentially due to the presence of an atmosphere. Their findings have been published in the scientific journal Icarus. Why is this such a big deal? First of all, it would challenge what scientists have previously believed to be true of Pluto’s nature. Until now, the popular description of the dwarf planet is as a tiny ball of frozen rock slowly meandering around the sun some 3.6-billion miles away. One of the possible explanations for why Pluto is emanating X-rays would be that the high energy particles emitted by the sun are stripping away and reacting with Pluto’s atmosphere, producing the X-rays that are visible to Chandra. There are other potential explanations, such as haze particles in Pluto’s atmosphere scattering the sun’s X-rays are possible, though unlikely given the temperature of the X-rays observed. It is also possible that these X-rays are actually bright auroras produced by the atmosphere, but that would require Pluto to have a magnetic field — something that would have been detected during New Horizon’s flyby, yet no evidence of one was found.

Submission + - UK Court Rules to Extradite Hacktivist Lauri Love to the US (softpedia.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A judge at the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, UK, approved the extradition request from the US government for Lauri Love, a hacktivist who has allegedly participated in the online protest called #OpLastResort, carried out by the Anonymous hacker collective following Aaron Schwartz's suicide.

According to US charges, Love faces 99 years in jail for his alleged crimes, which include hacking the likes of NASA, the FBI, the US Federal Reserve, the US Army, and more. Love's lawyer says the hacker plans to appeal. Love is represented in the legal procedures by Tor Ekland, a famous US lawyer who has represented famous hacker "weev" in his lost case against AT&T iPad hack, and who is also representing Deric Lostutter, the Anonymous hacker who exposed the Steubenville High School rape case.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ask Slashdot: What "rights" did Microsoft claim today? 1

What does the new MS Services Agreement and Privacy Statement REALLY mean?

Feels like ancient history, but do you remember "Where do you want to go today?" According to Wikipedia that was their second global campaign, so on the one hand, the beast knows we want freedom, but on the other hand is the EULA and "Services Agreement and Privacy Statement" and fiendish friends.

Submission + - The Two Minutes It Takes To Read This Will Improve Your Writing Forever (medium.com)

ansiecat writes: I thought to share this excellent piece by an author by the name of Josh Spector, and originally published in medium.com

You’re busy, so I’ll keep this quick.
Following are the simplest tips I can give you to easily—and forever—improve the quality of your writing.

Delete the word “that.”
At least 90% of the times you use the word “that” can be removed from your writing and it will instantly make your sentence stronger.

Example: “You believe that I’m lying, but I’m not.” becomes “You believe I’m lying, but I’m not.”
Delete the words “I think.”

It adds nothing. Remove it to strengthen your point.
Example: “I think this is a good sentence.” becomes “This is a good sentence.”

Avoid words that end in “-ing.”
In most cases, the “-ing” softens your word and adds no value. Your writing will read better if you avoid it.
Example: “The experiences we’re seeking end up being underwhelming and even disappointing.” becomes “The experiences we seek often underwhelm and disappoint.”

continue reading

Submission + - How transparent should companies be when operational technology failures happen? 1

supernova87a writes: Last week, Southwest Airlines had an epic crash of IT systems across their entire business, when "a router failure caused the airlines' systems to crash... and all backups failed, causing flight delays and cancellations nationwide and costing the company probably $10 million in lost bookings alone." Huge numbers of passengers, crew, airplanes were stranded as not only reservations systems, but scheduling, dispatch, and other critical operational systems had to be rebooted over 12 hours. Passenger delays directly attributable to this incident continued to trickle down all the way from Wednesday to Sunday as the airline recovered.

Aside from the technical issues of what happened, what should a public facing company's obligation be to discuss what happened in full detail? Would publicly talking about the sequence of events before and after failure help restore faith in their operations? Perhaps not aiming for Google-levels of admirable disclosure (as in this 18-minute cloud computing outage where a full post-mortem was given) — but should companies aim to discuss more openly what happened? And how they recover from systems failures?

Submission + - SPAM: Class of Large but Very Dim Galaxies Discovered

schwit1 writes: Astronomers have now detected and measured a new class of large but very dim galaxy that previously was not expected to exist.

‘Ultradiffuse’ galaxies came to attention only last year, after Pieter van Dokkum of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and Roberto Abraham of the University of Toronto in Canada built an array of sensitive telephoto lenses named Dragonfly. The astronomers and their colleagues observed the Coma galaxy cluster 101 megaparsecs (330 million light years) away and detected 47 faint smudges.

“They can’t be real,” van Dokkum recalls thinking when he first saw the galaxies on his laptop computer. But their distribution in space matched that of the cluster’s other galaxies, indicating that they were true members. Since then, hundreds more of these galaxies have turned up in the Coma cluster and elsewhere.

Ultradiffuse galaxies are large like the Milky Way — which is much bigger than most — but they glow as dimly as mere dwarf galaxies. It’s as though a city as big as London emitted as little light as Kalamazoo, Michigan.

More significantly, they have now found that these dim galaxies can be as big and as massive as the biggest bright galaxies, suggesting that there are a lot more stars and mass hidden out there and unseen than anyone had previously predicted.

Submission + - Cisco: Potent ransomware is targeting the enterprise at a scary rate (networkworld.com)

coondoggie writes: Enterprise-targeting cyber enemies are deploying vast amounts of potent ransomware to generate revenue and huge profits – nearly $34 million annually according to Cisco’s Mid-Year Cybersecurity Report out this week.
Ransomware, Cisco wrote, has become a particularly effective moneymaker, and enterprise users appear to be the preferred target.

Submission + - SPAM: ULA interns launch record-breaking model rocket

schwit1 writes: A team of ULA interns, working in their spare time, have successfully launched the largest model rocket every built.

On Sunday (July 24), ULA launched the 50-foot-tall (15.24 meters) Future Heavy rocket out of Fort Carson Army Post, breaking the record for “the largest sport rocket launched anywhere in the world,” according to a statement from ULA. The Future Heavy is also notable because it was built entirely by company interns and their mentors. “We like [our interns] to have a very realistic experience,” ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno told Space.com at the Space Symposium meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, last April.

Calling it a “model rocket” really isn’t fair. The thing is big, and really ranks up there with many of the suborbital rockets NASA used to routinely fly out of Wallops Island. That ULA has provided support for this effort again suggests that the leadership of Bruno is reshaping the company into a much more innovative and competitive company.

Submission + - Why Belgium leads in IPv6 adoption (networkworld.com)

netbuzz writes: Every time you read a story devoted to worldwide IPv6 adoption rates, sitting atop the list of highest achievers is Belgium, otherwise better known for chocolate, waffles, beer and diamonds. Google, for example, has worldwide IPv6 adoption at about 12%, Belgium leading at 45%. Why Belgium? Eric Vyncke, co-chair of Belgium’s IPv6 Council, explains a unique set of circumstances involving technology, geography, politics and culture.

Submission + - Kodi developer apologizes, indicates future of Kodi project is uncertain (reddit.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Over on Reddit a former "member of Team Kodi, the group behind Kodi/XBMC" has issued an apology, saying, "To all the Kodi users and members of the community out there: I'm sorry if I was (or ever will be) ever a dick to you." However the ensuing discussion makes it clear that he is not the only Kodi developer that should probably be apologizing, and that the atmosphere among the Kodi development team can be pretty toxic at times. It appears that some of the developers hate other developers, and hate users even more. Further down in the discussion, the OP says,

"Internally, it has gotten so toxic on Team Kodi that I would be surprised if the project lasts another year. Not without something changing. The abuse is to the point that it's not fun for anyone to work on things anymore, let alone attract new developers and team members."

The entire discussion reminds us of how some of the most talented software designers can have serious problems with social skills, to the point that they probably don't even realize how what they say and how they act affects others. But beyond that, it may be the first indication that a much-used piece of software is on its way downhill. Before anyone says it, I will also mention is that Kodi is NOT piracy software as some erroneously believe; there have been a number of unofficial addons written for Kodi that may facilitate piracy in some way but they are neither endorsed by the Kodi developers nor allowed in the official Kodi addon repository. To blame Kodi for these addons would be like blaming Firefox or Chrome for an unofficial addon or extension that may facilitate piracy in some manner.

Submission + - Majority of Americans OK With Warrantless Internet Surveillance (ap.org)

An anonymous reader writes: A new poll conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research gathered opinions on the U.S. government's surveillance of internet communications. The poll found that a majority of Americans, 56%, were in favor of warrantless surveillance. 28% explicitly opposed it. 67% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats supported the warrantless surveillance, while only 40% of Independents supported it. Americans under 30 supported warrantless surveillance much less than older Americans. Further, "The poll finds that for most Americans, safety concerns trump civil liberties at least some of the time. More than half — 54 percent — say it's sometimes necessary for the government to sacrifice freedoms to fight terrorism, while 45 percent think that's not necessary. On a more general level, 42 percent say it's more important for the government to ensure Americans' safety than to protect citizens' rights, while 27 percent think rights are more important and 31 percent rate both equally."

Submission + - Khan Academy Seeks Patent on Education A/B Testing

theodp writes: The Education Revolution will be patented. USPTO records show that Khan Academy is seeking a patent for Systems and Methods for Split Testing Educational Videos. From the patent application: "Systems and methods are provided for comparing different videos pertaining to a topic. Two different versions of an educational video may be compared using split comparison testing. A set of questions may be provided along with each video about the topic taught in the video. Users may view one of the videos and answer the questions. Data about the user responses may be aggregated and used to determine which video more effectively conveys information to the viewer based on the question responses." Now it's up to the USPTO to decide if something like the test and control studies conducted 40+ years ago (pdf) by the PLATO system to measure the effectiveness of different teaching methods would count as prior art. In response to an earlier post on Khan Academy's pending patents on learning computer programming and 'social programming,' Slashdot user Khan Academy said that the nonprofit is using patents for good, so not to worry.

Submission + - Tesla catches fire during quickcharging (www.vg.no)

Flu writes: The owner had parked the car at a quickcharging station in Brokelandsheia, Norway. Shortly after leaving, the car caught fire, and became totally destroyed. Luckily, noone got hurt. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the local police and the charging station is temporarily closed.

Submission + - Copyright Expires on Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf

An anonymous reader writes: HughPickens.com writes

Adolf Hitler's Nazi manifesto Mein Kampf was originally printed in 1925 — eight years before Hitler came to power. After Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945, the Allied forces handed the copyright to the book to the state of Bavaria who refused to allow the book to be reprinted to prevent incitement of hatred. Now BBC reports that under European copyright law, the rights of an author of a literary or artistic work runs for the life of the author and for 70 years after his death — in Hitler's case on 30 April 1945, when he shot himself in his bunker in Berlin, so for the first time in 70 years, Mein Kampf will be available to buy in Germany.

Authorizing the book’s release into the public domain has been a tortuous process. In 2012 it was agreed, after much consultation between Bavarian authorities and representatives of Jewish and Roma communities, that a scholarly edition should be planned in an attempt to demystify the book. Munich's Institute of Contemporary History willpublish the new edition with thousands of academic notes, will aim to show that Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is incoherent and badly written, rather than powerful or seductive. From the original book’s 1,000 pages, the publisher has produced a two-volume book that is twice as long as the original, with 3,700 annotations. Christian Hartmann, one of the team of five historians who spent several years working on the academic edition, described his relief at being able to analyse the text, even if he felt in need of regularly airing his tiny Munich office in order to cope with the task. “It is a real feeling of triumph, to be able to pick over this rubbish and then to debunk it bit by bit."

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