An anonymous reader writes: Household devices are getting smarter these days: the so-called internet of things is bringing software-controlled thermostats, lighting, and other appliances into the mainstream. Many companies are fighting for a piece of the pie, but Logitech is taking a different approach. They're mostly known for computer peripherals, but they also make multi-function remote controls, and now they're trying to build remotes that will control all of a home's smart devices. "Logitech doesn't want to own the device, it wants to own the app experience. But to do that, it had to build a software overlay and a controller that would convince people to put it in their homes. So it's offering a $100 hub that combines IR, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and RF that will let you use the Logitech Harmony app to control gear that uses those protocols. This means if you have a SmartThings, a Peq or a Lutron hub, the Wi-Fi in the Logitech device will let you control the others' gear from Logitech, which so far seems to have a much nicer interface." They've worked out partnerships with a lot of companies that are big in the home, like Nest, Honeywell, and Philips, all of whom seem to want this extra layer of control for the user.
New submitter ildon writes: Recently, the rights holder of former game publisher Softdisk's game library put the rights to some of their old titles up for sale, including Commander Keen: Keen Dreams, one of the few games in the series not to be published by Apogee. A group of fans created an Indiegogo campaign to purchase those rights. We are just now seeing the fruits of that effort with the full source code of the game being published to GitHub. About a year ago, Tom Hall found the sources to episodes 4-6, but it's not clear what, if any, progress has been made on getting Bethesda to allow that code to be released.
An anonymous reader writes:Linux creator Linus Torvalds is well-known for his strong opinions on many technical things. But when it comes to systemd, the init system that has caused a fair degree of angst in the Linux world, Torvalds is neutral. "When it comes to systemd, you may expect me to have lots of colorful opinions, and I just don't," Torvalds says. "I don't personally mind systemd, and in fact my main desktop and laptop both run it." Torvalds added, "I think many of the 'original ideals' of UNIX are these days more of a mindset issue than necessarily reflecting reality of the situation. There's still value in understanding the traditional UNIX "do one thing and do it well" model where many workflows can be done as a pipeline of simple tools each adding their own value, but let's face it, it's not how complex systems really work, and it's not how major applications have been working or been designed for a long time. It's a useful simplification, and it's still true at some level, but I think it's also clear that it doesn't really describe most of reality."
dcblogs writes: Scotland is not a major high-tech employment center, but it has good universities and entrepreneurial energy. About 70,000 people work in tech out of a total workforce of about 2.5 million, or about 3%. By contrast, financial services accounts for about 15% of employment in Scotland. But passions are high. "Honest, I've never been so scared in my life," said Euan Mackenzie about the prospect of separating from the U.K. He runs a 16-employee start-up, 1partCarbon, in Edinburgh, a platform that builds medical systems. "For tech start-ups, funding will be tougher to find and more expensive, there will be no local banks, access to EU markets and the freedom of movement will be curtailed," said Mackenzie. "As someone who enjoys risk and new opportunities, my company will remain in Scotland and make the best of whichever side prevails on Thursday, but the effect of independence on tech start-ups and the whole Scottish economy will be cataclysmic," he said.
Daniel_Stuckey writes: Friday night in Southern California's Silverado Valley, relief flew in on an old airliner. In this summer of drought and fire, the DC-10, an airplane phased out of passenger service in February, has been spotted from Idaho to Arizona delivering up to 12,000 gallons of fire retardant in a single acrobatic swoop.
The three-engine DC-10 entered service in 1970 as a passenger jet, and the last airplane working in that capacity, operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines, made its final flight on February 24. But some designs defy obsolescence. The DC-10 had already been converted to function as a mid-air refueling airplane for the Air Force, and in 2006, the first fire-fighting DC-10 was unleashed on the Sawtooth fire in San Bernardino County, California.
nerdyalien writes: A few years back, I worked for a large-scale web development project in southeast Asia. Despite formally adopting Agile/Scrum, development was driven based on fear imposed by managers. Scott Hanselman defines Fear-Driven-Development as having three parts. 1) Organizational fear has "worried about making mistakes, breaking the build, or causing bugs that the organization increases focus on making paper, creating excessive process, and effectively standing in the way of writing code." 2) There's also fear of changing code, which comes from a complex, poorly-understood, or unmaintainable codebase. 3) The most common one is fear of losing your job, which can lead to developers checking in barely-functioning code and managers committing to a death march rather than admit failure. My project ran four times its initial estimation, and included horrendous 18-hour/day, 6 day/week crunches with pizza dinners. Is FDD here to stay?
jfruh writes: With a lot of debate over the value of a college education, here's a data point students can use: at one Texas college, students who took an elective COBOL class earned on average $10,000 more a year upon graduation than classmates who hadn't. COBOL, dropped from many curricula years ago as an outdated language, is tenaciously holding on in the industry, as many universities are belatedly starting to realize.
An anonymous reader writes: Fresh research out of the UNC Gillings and JHU Bloomberg schools of public health shows industrial farm workers are carrying livestock-associated, multidrug-resistant staph into local communities for weeks at a time. "Among the [22 people tested], 10 workers carried antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacteria in their noses for up to four days. Another six workers were intermittent carriers of the bacteria. The 10 workers found to carry the bacteria persistently had strains associated with livestock that were resistant to multiple drugs, and one also carried MRSA. Three more of the workers tested positive for strains of S. aureus that were not resistant to antibiotics. So in total, 86 percent of the workers in the study carried the S. aureus bacteria, compared with about one-third of the population at large, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." This problem has grown since its last mention on Slashdot. Unfortunately, massive industrial lobbying continues to neuter government action.
Trailrunner7 writes: In a keynote speech at a security conference in Washington on Tuesday, new NSA Director Mike Rogers emphasized a need to establish behavioral norms for cyber war. "We're still trying to work our way through distinguishing the difference between criminal hacking and an act of war," said Rogers. "If this was easy, we would have figured it out years ago. We have a broad consensus about what constitutes an act of war, what's an act of defense." Rogers went on to explain that we need to better establish standardized terminology and standardized norms like those that exist in the realm of nuclear deterrence. Unfortunately, unlike in traditional national defense, we can not assume that the government will be able to completely protect us against cyber-threats because the threat ecosystem is just too broad.
CowboyRobot writes: We live in an imperfect world where routing-security incidents can still slip past deployed security defenses, and no single routing-security solution can prevent every attacks. Research suggests, however, that the combination of RPKI (Resource Public Key Infrastructure) with prefix filtering could significantly improve routing security; both solutions are based on whitelisting techniques and can reduce the number of autonomous systems that are impacted by prefix hijacks, route leaks, and path-shortening attacks. "People have been aware of BGP’s security issues for almost two decades and have proposed a number of solutions, most of which apply simple and well-understood cryptography or whitelisting techniques. Yet, many of these solutions remain undeployed (or incompletely deployed) in the global Internet, and the vulnerabilities persist. Why is it taking so long to secure BGP?"
New submitter hmcd31 writes: In a new paper for Brookings' series on the future of civilian robotics, University of Washington Law Professor Ryan Calo argues the need for a Federal Robotics Commission. With advancements such as driverless cars and drones taking to the roads and skies, Calo sees a need for a government agency to monitor these changes. His paper details many benefits a robotics commission could bring, from funding to assisting in law and policy issues. The policies developed by this FRC are argued to be particularly important, as their impact in creating an early infrastructure for robotics could create an environment that lets the technology grow even more.
DeviceGuru writes: Following through on an announcement from August, Digia has spun off a subsidiary called The Qt Company to unify Qt's commercial and open source efforts, and debuted a low-cost plan for mobile developers. The Linux-oriented Qt cross-platform development framework has had a tumultuous career, having been passed around Scandinavia over the years from Trolltech to Nokia and then from Nokia to Digia. Yet, Qt keeps rolling along in both commercial and open source community versions, continually adding support for new platforms and technologies, and gaining extensive support from mobile developers. Now Qt is its own company, or at least a wholly owned subsidiary under Digia. Finland-based Digia has largely been involved with the commercial versions of Qt since it acquired the platform from Nokia in 2012, but it has also sponsored the community Qt Project as a relatively separate project. Now, both efforts are being unified under one roof at The Qt Company and the new QT.io website, says Digia. Meanwhile, Digia will focus on its larger enterprise software business.
schwit1 writes NASA has chosen two companies to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and those companies are Boeing and SpaceX. This decision confirms that SpaceX is ready to go and gives the company the opportunity to finish the job, while also giving Boeing the chance to show that it can still compete. After NASA has certified that each company has successfully built its spacecraft, SpaceX and Boeing will each fly two to six missions. The certification process will be step-by-step, similar to the methods used in the cargo contracts, and will involve five milestones. The contracts will be paid incrementally as they meet these milestones. One milestone will be a manned flight to the ISS, with one NASA astronaut on board. Boeing will receive $4.2 billion, while SpaceX will get $2.6 billion. These awards were based on what the companies proposed and requested.
Advocatus Diaboli writes:
According to a report from Gizmodo, "After six years and over one billion dollars in development, the FBI has just announced that its new biometric facial recognition software system is finally complete. Meaning that, starting soon, photos of tens of millions of U.S. citizen's faces will be captured by the national system on a daily basis. The Next Generation Identification (NGI) program will logs all of those faces, and will reference them against its growing database in the event of a crime. It's not just faces, though. Thanks to the shared database dubbed the Interstate Photo System (IPS), everything from tattoos to scars to a person's irises could be enough to secure an ID. What's more, the FBI is estimating that NGI will include as many as 52 million individual faces by next year, collecting identified faces from mug shots and some job applications." Techdirt points out that an assessment of how this system affects privacy was supposed to have preceded the actual rollout. Unfortunately, that assessment is nowhere to be found.
Two recent news items are related. First, at a music festival in Boston last year, face recognition software was tested on festival-goers. Boston police denied involvement, but were seen using the software, and much of the data was carelessly made available online. Second, both Ford and GM are working on bringing face recognition software to cars. It's intended for safety and security — it can act as authentication and to make sure the driver is paying attention to the road.
Lucas123 writes: Micron's newest client flash drive line, the M600, uses its first 16nm process technology and dynamic write acceleration firmware that allows the flash to be programmed as SLC or MLC instead of using overprovisioning or reserving a permanent pool of flash cache to accelerate writes. The ability to dynamically program the flash reduces power use and improves write performance as much as 2.8 times over models without the feature, according to Jon Tanguy, Micron's senior technical marketing engineer. The new lithography process technology also allowed Micron to reduce the price of the flash drive to 45 cents a gigabyte.
derekmead writes: After 40 years, astronomers have likely found a rather strange celestial body known as a Thorne–Zytkow object (TZO), in which a neutron star is absorbed by a red supergiant. Originally predicted in the 1970s, the first non-theoretical TZO was found earlier this year, based on calculations presented in a paper forthcoming in MNRAS.
TZOs were predicted by astronomer Kip Thorne and Anna Zytkow, who wasthen postdoctoral fellow at CalTech. The pair imagined what might happen if a neutron star in a binary system merged with its partner red supergiant. This wouldn't be like two average stars merging. Neutron stars are the ancient remnants of stars that grew too big and exploded. Their cores remain small — about 12.5 miles across — as they shed material out into space. Red supergiants are the largest stars in the galaxy, with radii up to 800 times that of our sun, but they aren't dense.
wabrandsma sends this article from New Scientist:
In an experiment, Alan Winfield and his colleagues programmed a robot to prevent other automatons – acting as proxies for humans – from falling into a hole. This is a simplified version of Isaac Asimov's fictional First Law of Robotics – a robot must not allow a human being to come to harm. At first, the robot was successful in its task. As a human proxy moved towards the hole, the robot rushed in to push it out of the path of danger. But when the team added a second human proxy rolling toward the hole at the same time, the robot was forced to choose. Sometimes, it managed to save one human while letting the other perish; a few times it even managed to save both. But in 14 out of 33 trials, the robot wasted so much time fretting over its decision that both humans fell into the hole. Winfield describes his robot as an "ethical zombie" that has no choice but to behave as it does. Though it may save others according to a programmed code of conduct, it doesn't understand the reasoning behind its actions.