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Submission + - Near Default, Federally Backed $2.2 Billion Solar Facility Granted Extra Time (

An anonymous reader writes: On the cusp of defaulting on its deal with Pacific Gas & Electric, last week the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System was granted one year to increase electricity production. If it still fails to deliver, the plant will be forced to shut down.

The 377-megawatt facility — built by Bechtel and owned by BrightSource Energy, NRG Energy and Google — opened in 2014. Built with the help of $1.6 billion in loan guarantees from the Department of Energy, the 3,500-acre facility is the largest solar thermal plant in the world, according to Bechtel.

Submission + - Paris Terrorists Used Burner Phones, Not Encryption, To Evade Detection (

An anonymous reader writes: New details of the Paris attacks carried out last November reveal that it was the consistent use of prepaid burner phones, not encryption, that helped keep the terrorists off the radar of the intelligence services. As an article in The New York Times reports: "the three teams in Paris were comparatively disciplined. They used only new phones that they would then discard, including several activated minutes before the attacks, or phones seized from their victims." The article goes on to give more details of how some phones were used only very briefly in the hours leading up to the attacks. "Everywhere they went, the attackers left behind their throwaway phones, including in Bobigny, at a villa rented in the name of Ibrahim Abdeslam. When the brigade charged with sweeping the location arrived, it found two unused cellphones still inside their boxes." At another location used by one of the terrorists, the police found dozens of unused burner phones "still in their wrappers." As The New York Times says, one of the most striking aspects of the phones is that not a single e-mail or online chat message from the attackers was found on them. But rather than trying to avoid discovery by using encryption — which would in itself have drawn attention to their accounts — they seem to have stopped using the internet as a communication channel altogether, and turned to standard cellular network calls on burner phones.

Submission + - MuckRock launches March Madness — for FOIA (

v3rgEz writes: Looking for a new office pool to get in on, but can't tell a layup from a low post? MuckRock has launched a FOIA bracket that pits 64 agencies against each other in a single-elimination tournament of transparency. The Freedom of Information website is working to get processing manuals for each of the agencies in the tournament, and invites you to pick winners across four divisions, with winners receiving free requests, MuckRock swag, and, of course, bragging rights among transparency aficionados.

Submission + - Google Questions & Unofficial Answers: Why does YouTube seem so biased? (

Lauren Weinstein writes: Why does Google's YouTube seem so biased against ordinary users who upload videos? I've unfairly had my videos blocked, received copyright strikes for my own materials, and even had my account suspended — and it's impossible to reach anyone at YouTube to complain! No, YouTube isn't biased against you — not voluntarily, anyway. But it could definitely be argued that the copyright legal landscape — particularly in the mainstream entertainment industry — is indeed biased against the "little guys," and Google's YouTube must obey the laws as written. What's more, YouTube exists at the "bleeding edge" of the intersection of technology and law, where there's oh so much that goes bump in the night ...

Submission + - Astrophysicists have Detected Category 77 Hurricane Winds near a Black Hole (

TechnoidNash writes: “We’re talking wind speeds of 20 percent the speed of light, which is more than 200 million kilometres an hour. That’s equivalent to a category 77 hurricane,” said Jesse Rogerson, an astrophysicist leading research aimed at better understanding outflows from quasars as part of his PhD thesis in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at York U. These powerful quasar winds, the fastest seen to date, were detected near a supermassive black hole and could give researchers great insight into the development of galaxies. Read more:

Submission + - Retired NASA manager sues Discovery channel over Challenger disaster movie (

schwit1 writes: A retired NASA manager is suing the Discovery Channel for its false portrayal of him in a movie about the Challenger shuttle accident.

The suit says that in the movie’s crucial scene Lovingood is shown testifying falsely that the odds of a shuttle failure were much higher than other NASA engineers calculated. “The clear statement and depiction was that Lovingood lied about the probability of total failure being 1 in 100,000 when NASA’s own engineers said it was 1 in 200,” the lawsuit says. “This movie scene never took place in real life at any hearing. (Lovingood) was never asked to give any testimony as depicted and he did not give testimony to the question shown in the movie in this made up scene.”

“It makes it look like (NASA leadership) ignored a highly risky situation” in deciding to launch Challenger that day, Lovingood’s attorney Steven Heninger of Birmingham said Friday. Heninger said the movie was the network’s “first attempt at a scripted program and they took shortcuts because they were writing for drama.” The testimony in the movie was not in the investigation commission’s records or Feynman’s book “What Do You Care What Other People Think?,” both of which were sources for the film, the suit claims.

Though NASA management did consistently claim the shuttle was safer than it actually was, to falsely portray this specific individual as the person who said those lies when he did not is slander.

Submission + - Teach Calculus to 5-year olds? (

Doofus writes: The Atlantic has an interesting story about opening up what we routinely consider "advanced" areas of mathematics to younger learners.

The goals here are to use complex but easy tasks as introductions to more advanced topics in math, rather than the standard, sequential process of counting, arithmetic, sets, geometry, then eventually algebra and finally calculus.

Examples of activities that fall into the “simple but hard” quadrant: Building a trench with a spoon (a military punishment that involves many small, repetitive tasks, akin to doing 100 two-digit addition problems on a typical worksheet, as Droujkova points out), or memorizing multiplication tables as individual facts rather than patterns.

Far better, she says, to start by creating rich and social mathematical experiences that are complex (allowing them to be taken in many different directions) yet easy (making them conducive to immediate play). Activities that fall into this quadrant: building a house with LEGO blocks, doing origami or snowflake cut-outs, or using a pretend “function box” that transforms objects (and can also be used in combination with a second machine to compose functions, or backwards to invert a function, and so on).

I plan to get my children learning the "advanced" topics as soon as possible. How about you?

Submission + - Four Trillion Security Transactions Reveal Security Highlights

An anonymous reader writes: In 2013, CYREN analyzed more than four trillion security transactions worldwide – averaging 10 to 15 billion transactions per day. There's been a marked increase in mobile malware, with a targeted focus on Android devices (173,000 unique new Android malware variants per month) as well as ransomware campaigns where victims were called to pay "unlocking fees" to regain access to hacked computers. The number of phishing websites increased by 264% in 2013. PayPal was the number one target of phishing campaigns.

Submission + - Microsoft reportedly plans to offer a free version of Windows 8.1 (

An anonymous reader writes: According to reports, to Microsoft plans to announce a free version of Windows 8.1 in a bid to persuade customers to upgrade to the latest version.

Reports claim the new version, called 'Windows 8.1 with Bing', could be given away at a developers' conference in April, a version that would have key Microsoft apps and services.

According to media reports, "Microsoft is currently experimenting with a free version of Windows 8.1 that could boost the number of people using the operating system."

Comment Re:Not true! (Score 5, Informative) 380

The Linux claims are skinny in the Novell case, but they are still alive. Part of Novell's case was that even if SCO owned the copyrights they're still forbidden to sue over them since SCO is contractually prevented from doing so by membership in the UnitedLinux consortium.

Judge Kimball split that bit off from the rest of the case since by the contract the matter is subject to arbitration. The arbitration was stayed by the Bankruptcy Court (it had been scheduled to run in parallel with the jury trial in Utah), but can now go forward.

In fact, the stuff of most interest to Linux users is still to come! The bulk of Novell was about copyrights and SCO-as-fiduciary. Without evidence of infringement, these are directly of interest to Linux users. But the GPL is about to get a hearing. That is of considerable interest!

Comment Nah, not Darl. But there will be noise! (Score 1) 380

Darl is no longer associated with SCO, and he has no axe to grind: his options are worthless and have been for a while.

OTOH, there is the invisible Ralph Yarro, majority stockholder and now priority creditor. And there is also Judge Cahn, the Trustee appointed by the bankruptcy court. Yarro has supplied cash, and Cahn seems to have drunk the kool-aid.

Immediately after the verdict, Cahn announced that SCO will go forward with the IBM case. SCO may not have standing to sue for infringement, but they do have contract claims.

And then there's the UnitedLinux arbiration....

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