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Submission + - California's bullet train is hurtling toward a multibillion-dollar overrun (latimes.com)

schwit1 writes: California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis, obtained by the Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter, just north of Bakersfield, could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion.

The federal document outlines far-reaching management problems: significant delays in environmental planning, lags in processing invoices for federal grants and continuing failures to acquire needed property.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority originally anticipated completing the Central Valley track by this year, but the federal risk analysis estimates that that won’t happen until 2024, placing the project seven years behind schedule.

Submission + - Open Source Codec Encodes Voice Into Only 700 Bits Per Second (rowetel.com)

Bruce Perens writes: David Rowe VK5DGR has been working on ultra-low-bandwidth digital voice codecs for years, and his latest quest has been to come up with a digital codec that would compete well with single-sideband modulation used by ham contesters to score the longest-distance communications using HF radio. A new codec records clear, but not hi-fi, voice in 700 bits per second, that's 88 bytes per second. Connected to an already-existing Open Source digital modem, it might beat SSB.

Obviously there are other uses for recording voice at ultra-low-bandwidth. Many smartphones could record your voice for your entire life using their existing storage. A single IP packet could carry 15 seconds of speech. Ultra-low-bandwidth codecs don't help conventional VoIP, though. The payload size for low-latency voice is only a few bytes, and the packet overhead will be at least 10 times that size.

Submission + - Switzerland Agrees New Data Sharing Pact With the US

Mickeycaskill writes: Switzerland has agreed its own new data transfer agreement with the United States, basing the framework on the deal struck by the European Union (EU) following the invalidation of Safe Harbour.

The previous arrangement was invalidated because of concerns about US mass surveillance but Switzerland says the new Swiss-US Privacy Shield will allow Swiss companies to transfer customer data without the need for additional contractual guarantees.

The Swiss Federal Council, a seven member executive council that is effectively the head of government in Switzerland, claim citizens will benefit from additional protections and the ability to contact an ombudsman about data issues.

Although not part of the EU, Switzerland is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and has several bilateral agreements with the EU that sees it adopt many of the bigger bloc’s policies. The Federal Council says the alignment between the EU and the Swiss transatlantic data sharing partnerships is good news for multinational organisations.

Submission + - Scientists can now grow a beating human heart from stem cells (indy100.com)

schwit1 writes: A team of scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have used adult skin cells to regenerate functional human heart tissue.

The study, published in the journal Circulation Research , detailed that the team took adult skin cells, using a technique called messenger RNA to turn them into pluripotent stem cells, before inducing them to become two different types of cardiac cells.

Submission + - SPAM: Latest intel leak involves Trump's alleged golden showers 3

SonicSpike writes: After CNN reported that President-elect Donald Trump was presented with information from intelligence chiefs about claims that Russia attempted to compromise him, Buzzfeed released a dossier that the two-page synopsis was based on.

It is reported that the the dossier was put together by an ex-British intelligence agent and was to be used as opposition research against Trump. Apparently, a number of reporters and politicians had seen this document before Buzzfeed published it, with the main issue being the difficulty in verifying the claims.

While it is noted that much of what’s included in this dossier is unverified, and perhaps can never be verified, one of the portions included has already been blowing up online immediately after it went live.

There are unverified allegations that Trump hired Russian prostitutes to perform a “golden showers” party on a bed that the Obamas had slept in, because he hated the President and First Lady.

#GoldenShowers is now trending on Twitter as a result

Link to Original Source

Submission + - President Obama Signs Legislation Establishing Information Control Agency

stephenmac7 writes: President Obama has recently signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which "authorizes FY2017 appropriations and sets forth policies regarding the military activities of the Department of Defense (DOD), military construction, and the national security programs of the Department of Energy (DOE)." Perhaps more notably, it establishes a new Department of State agency, the Global Engagement Center, that some claim may be the beginning of an Orwellian propaganda agency. Its task is to “understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation aimed at undermining United States national security interests" and support “the development and dissemination of fact-based narratives and analysis to counter propaganda and disinformation directed at the United States and” its partners and allies. It is also authorized to gather information from intelligence agencies and financially support various groups, apparently of its own choosing, including “civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, or academic institutions.”

Submission + - White House Releases Strategy To Defend Against Killer Asteroids (vice.com)

An anonymous reader writes: On December 30, the White House quietly released its Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy, a 25-page document outlining the United States’ plans in the event that a giant asteroid is found to be on a collision course with Earth. Among the priorities outlined by the strategy are improving Near-Earth Object (NEO) detection, developing methods for deflecting asteroids, and developing interagency emergency procedures in the event of an NEO impact. Given the stakes, it’s clear why NASA and the leading US defense and research agencies came together in January 2016 to form the Detecting and Mitigating the Impact of Earth-bound Near-Earth Objects (DAMIEN) working group to address the issues associated with killer asteroids. The DAMIEN group is behind the White House’s new NEO strategy, and will be responsible for hashing out the specifics of the plan to save Earthlings from killer asteroids going forward. To assist in the search, the DAMIEN report calls for a space-based observatory dedicated to finding NEOs, which will work in cooperation with ground-based observatories. Since a telescope in space isn’t limited by terrestrial weather conditions, it would greatly enhance Spaceguard’s search capacity. The only plans currently underway for a space-based NEO telescope are being carried out by the non-profit B612 foundation whose Sentinel telescope was supposed to launch last December, but has been delayed due to difficulties securing the requisite $450 million in funding required for the project. NASA has also been considering the NEOCam, a space-based telescope that has received provisional funding for “detailed refinement.” Unfortunately, during the latest round of budgeting for NASA’s Discovery program, two other satellites were greenlit instead of NEOCam, but NASA said it would continue the asteroid-hunter’s provisional funding, so there is still hope that NASA may go forward with a space-based NEO observatory in the future, especially in light of the recent White House strategy. In tandem, the report also recommends updating the capabilities of ground-based NEO observatories by endowing them with more powerful planetary radars and improved spectroscopy instruments (this would allow for more accurate determinations of the composition of an asteroid). But detection is only half the battle. In the event that an asteroid is found to be on an impact trajectory with Earth, NASA is also thinking about ways to deflect the killer asteroid. Some pretty far-out ideas have been proposed on this front, ranging from nukes in space to giant sun-powered lasers, but the most likely method is simply ramming into the asteroid to change its course. Finally, should all else fail, the report also considers what to do in an impact scenario.

Submission + - OPEN-SOURCE PARAMETRIC CAD IN YOUR BROWSER (hackaday.com)

mmiscool writes: Until recently, computer-aided design (CAD) software was really only used by engineering companies who could afford to pay thousands of dollars a year per license. The available software, while very powerful, had a very high learning curve and took a lot of training and experience to master. But, with the rise of hobbyist 3D printing, a number of much more simple CAD programs became available.

While these programs certainly helped makers get into 3D modeling, most had serious limitations. Only a few have been truly open-source, and even fewer have been both open-source and parametric. Parametric CAD allows you to create 3D models based on a series of parameters, such as defining a cube by its origin and dimensions. This is in contrast to sculpting style 3D modeling software, which is controlled much more visually. The benefit of parametric modeling is that parameters can be changed later, and the model can be updated on the fly. Features can also be defined mathematically, so that they change in relation to each other.

While still in its infancy, JS.Sketcher is seeking to fill that niche. It is 100% open-source, runs in your browser using only JavaScript, and is fully parametric (with both constraints and editable dimensions). At this time, available features are still pretty limited and simple. You can: extrude/cut, revolve, shell, and do boolean operations with solids. More advanced features aren’t available yet, but hopefully will be added in the future.

Jsketcher is available on git hub
https://github.com/xibyte/jske...
and can be used form the following url.
http://web-cad.org/

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