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merbs writes: Harvard has long been home to one of the fiercest advocates for climate engineering. This week, Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences published a research announcement headlined "Adjusting Earth's Thermostat, With Caution." That might read as oxymoronic — intentionally altering the planet's climate has rarely been considered a cautious enterprise — but it fairly accurately reflects the thrust of several new studies published by the Royal Society, all focused on exploring the controversial field of geoengineering.
326 comments | 2 days ago
Zothecula writes Last year's redesign of the long-awaited Martin Jetpack was accompanied by plans to begin commercial sales in 2014, starting with emergency response services and individual sales to follow thereafter. The release date for the first responder Jetpack has since been revised to 2016, a prediction bolstered by the fresh announcement of a partnership between Martin Aircraft Company and US company Avwatch to develop air-based, first responder solutions for the US Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense.
53 comments | 4 days ago
An anonymous reader points out that Google plans to shut down Google Wallet API for third-party digital purchases. "Google has quietly revealed it plans to retire the Google Wallet API for digital goods on March 2, 2015. The company plans to continue supporting the sale of apps on Google Play as well as in-app payments, but users will not be able to purchase any virtual items offered on the Web through Google Wallet. We say "quietly" because there is no official announcement from Google. Furthermore, Google says it has no plans to proactively communicate the change to Google Wallet users; buyers will simply get 404 errors when trying to check out after support is pulled."
105 comments | about two weeks ago
Spy Handler writes Yesterday's announcement that Google will lease Moffett Field from NASA for 60 years drew criticism from a group called Consumer Watchdog, which stated "This is like giving the keys to your car to the guy who has been siphoning gas from your tank. It is unfairly rewarding unethical and wrongful behavior. These Google guys seem to think they can do whatever they want and get away with it – and, sadly, it looks like that is true.”
138 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes: After extended talks on the issue of climate change, the U.S. and China have reached a landmark accord to curb emissions in the near future. The two countries are the top carbon polluters, so their actions are likely to have a major effect on world pollution levels and also set the standard for other countries. The agreement includes China's first-ever commitment to stop the growth of its emissions by 2030. They plan on shifting a big chunk of their energy production to renewables in that time. The U.S. agreed to emit 26-28% less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005. Their efforts could spur greater enthusiasm for a new global climate agreement in 2015. Reader jones_supa adds details of another interesting part of the U.S.-China talks: Technology products look likely to gain more access to international markets as a result of upgrade between the U.S. and China on a 1996 tariff-eliminating trade agreement that President Obama announced Tuesday in Beijing. The agreement is expected to lower prices on a raft of new technology products by eliminating border tariffs — a price impact that's expected to be larger outside the United States, since U.S. tariffs on high-tech goods are generally lower than those overseas. "This is a win-win-win agreement for information and communication technology industries in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China, for businesses and consumers who purchase IT products and for the global economy."
285 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes: The announcement this Thursday of another dubious piece of hardware from Amazon led Dustin Curtis to write an article critical of Amazon's hardware strategy, saying the company just doesn't understand what makes a device good or bad. Curtis says, "With Amazon.com, it can heavily and successfully promote and sell its products, giving it false indicators of success. It's an echo chamber. They make a product, they market the product on Amazon.com, they sell the product to Amazon.com customers, they get a false sense of success, the customer puts the product in a drawer and never uses it, and then Amazon moves on to the next product. Finally, with the Fire Phone, customers have been pushing back.
The media strategy that seems to be driving Jeff Bezos to make mobile consumption devices (with Amazon's media stores and Prime video/music) is flawed. No one makes money selling media for consumption anymore. That market is quickly and brutally dying. The media market is now so efficient that all profit is completely sucked out of the equation by the time you get to the consumption delivery system, to the point that it is barely possible to break even."
112 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes: The Fedora Project has been critical to the development Red Hat Enterprise Linux — RHEL version 7 was largely based off Fedora version 19. Fedora is continuing to evolve with the announcement of Fedora 21 Beta, now available from the Fedora Project website. To make the release ready for Beta testing required addressing 50 beta blocker bugs. If the Fedora Project developers are able to keep up with the final release blocker bugs, then Fedora 21 is expected to be released on December 9th. As a result, support for Fedora 19 is expected to end around the beginning of 2015. Released back in July 2013, Fedora 19 will have been supported for over 540 days by 2015. Previously, the longest a Fedora release was supported was Fedora Core 5 at 469 days. Users of Fedora 19 will be encouraged to upgrade to Fedora 20 or 21 to continue to get critical updates.
56 comments | about three weeks ago
mikejuk writes The announcement on the Google Geo Developers blog has the catchy title No map is an island. It points out that while there are now around 2 million active sites that have Google Maps embedded, they store data independently, The new feature, called attributed save, aims to overcome this problem by creating an integrated experience between the apps you use that have map content and Google Maps, and all it requires is that users sign in. So if you use a map in a specific app you will be able to see locations you entered in other apps.This all sounds great and it makes sense to allow users to take all of the locations that have previously been stored in app silos and put them all together into one big map data pool. The only down side is that the pool is owned by Google and some users might not like the idea of letting Google have access to so much personal geo information. It seems you can have convenience or you can have privacy. It might just be that many users prefer their maps to be islands.
39 comments | about three weeks ago
Bennett Haselton writes: Social networking company Ello has converted itself to a Public Benefit Corporation, bound by a charter saying that they will not now, nor in the future, make money by running advertisements or selling user data. Ello had followed these policies from the outset, but skeptics worried that venture capitalist investors might pressure Ello to change those policies, so this binding commitment was meant to assuage those fears. But is the commitment really legally binding and enforceable down the road? Read on for the rest.
153 comments | about a month ago
rjmarvin (3001897) writes The Worldwide Web Consortium today has elevated the HTML5 specification to 'recommendation' status , giving it the group's highest level of endorsement, which is akin to becoming a standard. The W3C also introduced Application Foundations with the announcement of the HTML5 recommendation to aid developers in writing Web applications, and said the organization is working with patents holders of the H.264 codec to agree on a baseline royalty-free interoperability level commitment.
125 comments | about a month ago
New submitter Shade writes Well over one and a half years in the works, the latest and greatest release of GNU Emacs was made officially available today. Highlights of this release include a built-in web browser, improved multi-monitor and fullscreen support, "electric" indentation enabled by default, support for saving and restoring the state of frames and windows, pixel-based resizing for frames and windows, support for digitally signed ELisp packages, support for menus in text terminals, and much more. Read the official announcement and the full list of changes for more information.
156 comments | about a month ago
TheRealHocusLocus writes: Disaster preppers have a saying, "two is one and one is none," which might also apply to 24x7 base load energy sources that could sustain us beyond the age of fossil fuel. I too was happy to see Skunkworks' Feb 2013 announcement and the recent "we're still making progress" reminder. I was moved by the reaction on Slashdot: a groundswell of "Finally!" and "We're saved!" However, fusion doesn't need to be the only solution, and it's not entirely without drawbacks.
All nuclear reactors will generate waste via activation as the materials of which they are constructed erode and become unstable under high neutron flux. I'm not pointing this out because I think it's a big deal — a few fusion advocates disingenuously tend to sell the process as if it were "100% clean." A low volume of non-recyclable waste from fusion reactors that is walk-away safe in ~100 years is doable. Let's do it. And likewise, the best comparable waste profile for fission is a two-fluid LFTR, a low volume of waste that is walk-away safe in ~300 years. Let's do it.
Why pursue both, with at least the same level of urgency? Because both could carry us indefinitely. LFTR is less complicated in theory and practice. It is closer to market. There is plenty of cross-over: LFTR's materials challenges and heat engine interface — and the necessity for waste management — are the same as they will be for commercial-scale fusion reactors. To get up to speed please see the 2006 fusion lecture by Dr. Robert Bussard on the Wiffle ball 6 plasma containment, likely the precursor to the Skunkworks approach. And see Thorium Remix 2011 which presents the case for LFTR.
218 comments | about a month ago
jrepin notes the release of KDE Plasma 5.1. Quoting the release announcement:
KDE Plasma 5.1 sports a wide variety of improvements, leading to greater stability, better performance and new and improved features. Thanks to the feedback of the community, KDE developers were able to package a large number of fixes and enhancements into this release, among which more complete and higher quality artwork following the new-in-5.0 Breeze style, re-addition of popular features such as the Icon Tasks taskswitcher and improved stability and performance.
Those traveling regularly will enjoy better support for time zones in the panel's clock, while those staying at home a revamped clipboard manager, allowing you to easily get at your past clipboard's content. The Breeze widget style is now also available for Qt4-based applications, leading to greater consistency across applications. The work to support Wayland as display server for Plasma is still ongoing, with improved, but not complete support in 5.1. Changes throughout many default components improve accessibility for visually impaired users by adding support for screenreaders and improved keyboard navigation. Aside from the visual improvements and the work on features, the focus of this release lies also on stability and performance improvements, with over 180 bugs resolved since 5.0 in the shell alone."
60 comments | about a month ago
An anonymous reader writes Buried toward the end of the must-watch keynote by Oculus VR's Chief Scientist, Michael Abrash, was the announcement of a new research division within Oculus which Abrash says is the "first complete, well funded VR research team in close to 20 years." He says that their mission is to advance VR and that the research division will publish its findings and also work with university researchers. The company is now hiring "first-rate programmers, hardware engineers, and researchers of many sorts, including optics, displays, computer vision and tracking, user experience, audio, haptics, and perceptual psychology," to be part of Oculus Research.
16 comments | about a month and a half ago
SchrodingerZ writes: Nine days after Elon Musk hinted about a new project, Tesla Motors has unveiled the P85D Sedan. This is Tesla's latest car design, capable of feats not yet seen in electric vehicles. The four door luxury car is able to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in a mere 3.2 seconds, an acceleration similar to the McLaren F1 super car. While the exterior remains the same build as the standard Model S, the interior will have a second motor in the front of the car to complement the rear motor. The D models will also have a slightly greater range of 275 miles on a single charge, 10 miles more than the 85 and P85 cars. Safety features have also been enhanced, adding "adaptive cruise control and the ability to read speed limit signs, stop itself if a crash is imminent, stay in its lane, and even park itself in a street spot or in your garage." Musk explains at the inaugural event, "this car is nuts. It's like taking off from a carrier deck. It's just bananas." The "D" version is available for the 60kWh, 80kWh, and P85 cars, and are expected to start shipping in December of this year.
283 comments | about a month and a half ago
First time accepted submitter dibdublin writes The Federal Trade Commission announced today that AT&T will pay $105 million for hiding extra charges in cellphone bills. The best part of the news? $80 million of it will go back into the pockets of people bilked by AT&T. The FTC announcement reads in part: "As part of a $105 million settlement with federal and state law enforcement officials, AT&T Mobility LLC will pay $80 million to the Federal Trade Commission to provide refunds to consumers the company unlawfully billed for unauthorized third-party charges, a practice known as mobile cramming. The refunds are part of a multi-agency settlement that also includes $20 million in penalties and fees paid to 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a $5 million penalty to the Federal Communications Commission."
61 comments | about a month and a half ago
swillden writes: There's been a lot of discussion of what, exactly, is meant by the Apple announcement about iOS8 device encryption, and the subsequent announcement by Google that Android L will enable encryption by default. Two security researchers tackled these questions in blog posts:
Matthew Green tackled iOS encryption, concluding that the change really boils down to applying the existing iOS encryption methods to more data. He also reviews the iOS approach, which uses Apple's "Secure Enclave" chip as the basis for the encryption and guesses at how it is that Apple can say it's unable to decrypt the devices. He concludes, with some clarification from a commenter, that Apple really can't (unless you use a weak password which can be brute-forced, and even then it's hard).
Nikolay Elenkov looks into the preview release of Android "L." He finds that not only has Google turned encryption on by default, but appears to have incorporated hardware-based security as well, to make it impossible (or at least much more difficult) to perform brute force password searches off-device.
146 comments | about a month and a half ago
d33tah notes the announcement of Google Code-In 2014 and Google Summer of Code 2015. A call to all students: if you have ever thought it would be cool to write code and see it make a difference in the world, then please keep reading. We are excited to announce the next editions of two programs designed to introduce students to open source software development, Google Summer of Code for university students and Google Code-in for 13-17 year old students.
15 comments | about a month and a half ago
mrspoonsi writes GT Advanced Technologies is filing for bankruptcy. In an announcement on Monday, GT Advanced, which makes sapphire displays that many investors hoped would be in Apple's newest iPhone, said that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In early September, shares of GT Advanced got crushed after the company's sapphire displays were not in the latest version of Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. GT Advanced, however, signed a multi-year agreement with Apple last November to supply the company with sapphire material. That agreement included a $578 million prepayment, which GT Advanced is set to repay Apple over a five-year period starting in 2015.
171 comments | about a month and a half ago
mrspoonsi writes Hewlett-Packard is planning to split itself into two separate businesses, The Wall Street Journal is reporting. Sources tell the WSJ that HP will split its personal-computer and printer segments from its corporate hardware and services business. The announcement could come as early as Monday, the sources said. The company reorganized itself in 2012 under CEO Meg Whitman. That move combined its computer and printer businesses. The PC and computer segment is massive for HP. For the first six months this year, it reported $27.8 billion in revenue. That's about three times the size of HP's next biggest unit, the Enterprise Group, which makes servers, storage, and network hardware. Under the new split, Whitman would be chairman of the computer and printer business, and CEO of a separate Enterprise Group, according to one of the sources. Patricia Russo, who sits on HP's board, would be chairman of the enterprise company. The printer and PC operation would be led by Dion Weisler, a current exec in that division.
118 comments | about a month and a half ago