Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
Businesses

What Happens To Summer TV Binges If Hollywood Writers Strike (bloomberg.com) 195

An anonymous reader shares a report: There also should be plenty of new video fare if Hollywood's writers and studios can't agree on a new contract by Monday. The beautiful thing about a contract is everyone knows when it ends. In this case, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents some 350 production companies, and the Writers Guild of America, which comprises 12,000 professionals in two chapters, have had three years to prepare for a standoff. In these situations, show makers typically rush to complete a pile of scripts before the deadline. Jerry Nickelsburg, an economist at the University of California at Los Angeles, calls this stockpiling "the inventory effect." This is precisely what happened the last time writers walked off the job, from November 2007 to February 2008. If the writers do, in fact, go through with the strike they approved on Monday, jokes and soaps will be the first things to take a hit. Late-night talk shows and soap operas are to entertainment writers what delis are to hungry New Yorkers -- a daily frenzy of high-volume production. If the sandwich makers don't show up, everybody gets hungry quickly.
Businesses

It's Official: Apple is Testing Self-Driving Cars 76

Apple has been granted a license for testing autonomous vehicles in California, marking the formal launch of its race with the likes of Uber, Alphabet and Tesla to define the future of driverless transportation. The permit was revealed with Apple's appearance on the list of approved companies on the California automotive regulator's website on Friday morning. From a report: This suggests Apple's ambitions in the auto industry are alive, despite some reported upheaval in the project, code-named "Project Titan." Reports last year centered on changing leadership and shifting focus within the project, which is under the command of veteran Apple executive Bob Mansfield. Still, as Apple looks for its next major growth driver after the iPhone -- and as cars increasingly become computers -- it's easy to see why the company would be interested.
Earth

New Solar-Powered Device Can Pull Water Straight From the Desert Air (sciencemag.org) 202

sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: You can't squeeze blood from a stone, but wringing water from the desert sky is now possible, thanks to a new spongelike device that uses sunlight to suck water vapor from air, even in low humidity. The device can produce nearly 3 liters of water per day, and researchers say future versions will be even better. That means homes in the driest parts of the world could soon have a solar-powered appliance capable of delivering all the water they need, offering relief to billions of people. To find an all-purpose solution, researchers led by Omar Yaghi, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, turned to a family of crystalline powders called metal organic frameworks, or MOFs. Yaghi developed the first MOFs -- porous crystals that form continuous 3D networks -- more than 20 years ago. The networks assemble in a Tinkertoy-like fashion from metal atoms that act as the hubs and sticklike organic compounds that link the hubs together. By choosing different metals and organics, chemists can dial in the properties of each MOF, controlling what gases bind to them, and how strongly they hold on. The system Wang and her students designed consists of a kilogram of dust-sized MOF crystals pressed into a thin sheet of porous copper metal. That sheet is placed between a solar absorber and a condenser plate and positioned inside a chamber. At night the chamber is opened, allowing ambient air to diffuse through the porous MOF and water molecules to stick to its interior surfaces, gathering in groups of eight to form tiny cubic droplets. In the morning, the chamber is closed, and sunlight entering through a window on top of the device then heats up the MOF, which liberates the water droplets and drives them -- as vapor -- toward the cooler condenser. The temperature difference, as well as the high humidity inside the chamber, causes the vapor to condense as liquid water, which drips into a collector. The findings were published in the journal Science.
Transportation

How UPS Trucks Saved Millions of Dollars By Eliminating Left Turns (ndtv.com) 359

Some people probably already know this, but for those who don't: UPS truck drivers don't take left turns, and despite this usually resulting in longer route, they are saving millions of dollars in fuel costs. From a report: The company decided on eliminating left turns (or right turns in left-hand driving countries such as India) wherever possible after it found that drivers have to sit idly in the trucks while waiting to take the left turn to pass through traffic. So, it created an algorithm that eliminated left turns from drivers' routes even if meant a longer journey. This meant that drivers do not have to wait in traffic to take a left turn and can take the right turn at junctions. Of course, the algorithm does not entirely eliminate left turns, but the number of left turns taken by UPS trucks is less than 10 percent of all turns made. Turns out that UPS was right -- the idea really paid off. In 2005, a year after it announced that it will minimize left turns, the company said that the total distance covered by its 96,000 trucks was reduced by 747,000km, and 190,000 litres of fuel had been saved. In 2011, Bob Stoffel, a UPS Senior Vice President, told Fortune that the company had reduced distance traveled by trucks by 20.4 million miles, and reduced CO2 emissions by 20,000 metric tons, by not taking left turns. A recent report by The Independent says that the total reduction in distance traveled by UPS trucks now stands at 45.8 million miles, and there are 1,100 fewer trucks in its fleet because of the algorithm. Even by conservative estimates, that's tens of millions of dollar of savings in fuel costs. Senior VP Bob Stoffel explained how it works on CNN a few years ago.
Google

Google's AI Created Its Own Form of Encryption (engadget.com) 137

An anonymous reader shares an Engadget report: Researchers from the Google Brain deep learning project have already taught AI systems to make trippy works of art, but now they're moving on to something potentially darker: AI-generated, human-independent encryption. According to a new research paper, Googlers Martin Abadi and David G. Andersen have willingly allowed three test subjects -- neural networks named Alice, Bob and Eve -- to pass each other notes using an encryption method they created themselves. As the New Scientist reports, Abadi and Andersen assigned each AI a task: Alice had to send a secret message that only Bob could read, while Eve would try to figure out how to eavesdrop and decode the message herself. The experiment started with a plain-text message that Alice converted into unreadable gibberish, which Bob could decode using cipher key. At first, Alice and Bob were apparently bad at hiding their secrets, but over the course of 15,000 attempts Alice worked out her own encryption strategy and Bob simultaneously figured out how to decrypt it. The message was only 16 bits long, with each bit being a 1 or a 0, so the fact that Eve was only able to guess half of the bits in the message means she was basically just flipping a coin or guessing at random.ArsTechnica has more details.
The Almighty Buck

Dorms For Grownups: a Solution For Lonely Millennials? 412

HughPickens.com writes: Alana Semuels writes in The Atlantic that Millennials want the chance to be alone in their own bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens, but they also want to be social and never lonely.That's why real estate developer Troy Evans is starting construction on a new space in Syracuse called Commonspace that he envisions as a dorm for Millennials. It will feature 21 microunits, each packed with a tiny kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living space into 300-square-feet. The microunits surround shared common areas including a chef's kitchen, a game room, and a TV room. "We're trying to combine an affordable apartment with this community style of living, rather than living by yourself in a one-bedroom in the suburbs," says Evans. The apartments will be fully furnished to appeal to potential residents who don't own much (the units will have very limited storage space). The bedrooms are built into the big windows of the office building—one window per unit—and the rest of the apartment can be traversed in three big leaps. The units will cost between $700 and $900 a month. "If your normal rent is $1,500, we're coming in way under that," says John Talarico. "You can spend that money elsewhere, living, not just sustaining."

Co-living has also gained traction in a Brooklyn apartment building that creates a networking and social community for its residents and where prospective residents answer probing questions like "What are your passions?" and "Tell us your story (Excite us!)." If accepted, tenants live in what the company's promotional materials describe as a "highly curated community of like-minded individuals." Millennials are staying single longer than previous generations have, creating a glut of people still living on their own in apartments, rather than marrying and buying homes. But the generation is also notoriously social, having been raised on the Internet and the constant communication it provides. This is a generation that has grown accustomed to college campuses with climbing walls, infinity pools, and of course, their own bathrooms. Commonspace gives these Milliennials the benefits of living with roommates—they can save money and stay up late watching Gilmore Girls—with the privacy and style an entitled generation might expect. "It's the best of both worlds," says Michelle Kingman. "You have roommates, but they're not roommates."

Submission + - UK Court renders iTunes illegal. (torrentfreak.com)

chinton writes: The UK High Court has ruled that iTunes is illegal because it advertises CD ripping to mp3. In the same ruling, they rendered any backup of copyrighted works illegal as well. Effectively, they have made cp illegal. mv, however, is still legal.

Slashdot Top Deals

Economists can certainly disappoint you. One said that the economy would turn up by the last quarter. Well, I'm down to mine and it hasn't. -- Robert Orben

Working...