Google Culture Should Stay Open

Wired News - Sun, 20/08/2017 - 11:00am
A veteran of Google’s communications team argues for preserving the famous Google culture of debate—even after a controversial firing.
Categories: Science

Why the Human Eye Sees a Total Solar Eclipse Better Than a Camera

Space.com - Sun, 20/08/2017 - 10:41am
Here's a look at how the human eye works and why seeing an eclipse in person is so much better than looking at one in pictures.
Categories: Science

1 Day Until the Solar Eclipse! NASA Scientist Explains What Makes Eclipses Spectacular

Space.com - Sun, 20/08/2017 - 10:37am
We're just one day away from the Great American Solar Eclipse, and people across the U.S. are getting ready to see this once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event.
Categories: Science

NASA's Parker Probe Will Explore The Sun's Hellish Atmosphere in 2018

Space.com - Sun, 20/08/2017 - 10:26am
During the total solar eclipse, skywatchers can see the corona: the hellish, mysterious outer atmosphere that NASA plans to probe in 2018.
Categories: Science

NASA's Epic Voyager Mission at 40: Q&A with Lead Scientist Ed Stone

Space.com - Sun, 20/08/2017 - 10:00am
Voyager project scientist Ed Stone discusses the greatest achievements of the epic mission, which lifted off 40 years ago today (Aug. 20).
Categories: Science

Why an Eclipse Is Better Viewed from Earth: An Astronaut's Perspective

Space.com - Sun, 20/08/2017 - 9:51am
During my mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), I shot what I was told was the first astronaut video of a partial eclipse.
Categories: Science

What Happened To Winamp?

Slashdot - Sun, 20/08/2017 - 8:01am
Winamp was released more than 20 years ago, and last week marked the 15th anniversary of the release of Winamp3. An anonymous Slashdot reader tries to explain what finally happened to Winamp: AOL planned to discontinue Winamp in November of 2013, but instead sold it to the Belgian online radio service Radionomy. The last update on Winamp's Twitter account was September of 2015, though it announced that they were looking for a new senior C++ developer. Then in December of 2015 Vivendi Group became that company's majority shareholder, stirring hopes that the company might one day launch a revamped version of the classic mp3 player from 1997. So did they? Radionomy's Winamp page is still showing download links -- though they now lead instead to a forum post which says "code licensed to the previous owner" is being removed or replaced. But that post has been updated five times -- as recently as last October -- with "info about the next Winamp release," each linking to a thread on Winamp's forums which offer tantalizing glimpses into a still-ongoing development process. And last October a Winamp dev posted on Twitter that "a Winamp 5.8 public beta release could be imminent," while the web page at Winamp.com still says "There's more coming soon," with a background image of a llama. "There's no reason that Winamp couldn't be in the position that iTunes is in today if not for a few layers of mismanagement by AOL that started immediately upon acquisition," their first general manager told Ars Technica in 2012. (Winamp's developers had been earning $100,000 a month just from $10 shareware checks before AOL acquired the company in 1999 for $100 million.) In May TechRadar wrote that Winamp "is still a great media player...but it now relies on third-party extensions to add features found as standard in more modern players." I still remember all the visualizations and custom skins -- but does this bring back any memories for anyone else? Leave your thoughts in the comments. And what mp3-playing software are you using today?

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Categories: Science

Here's a Final Weather Update for Solar Eclipse Day (Aug. 21, 2017)

Space.com - Sun, 20/08/2017 - 7:48am
The 2017 solar eclipse is less than 24 hours away. Here are the most up-to-date weather forecasts for regions inside the path of totality.
Categories: Science

After 15 Years, Maine's Laptops-in-Schools Initiative Fails To Raise Test Scores

Slashdot - Sun, 20/08/2017 - 4:09am
For years Maine has been offering laptops to high school students -- but is it doing more harm than good? An anonymous reader writes: One high school student says "We hardly ever use paper," while another student "says he couldn't imagine social studies class without his laptop and Internet connection. 'I don't think I could do it, honestly... I don't want to look at a newspaper. I don't even know where to get a newspaper!'" But then the reporter visits a political science teacher who "learned what a lot of teachers, researchers and policymakers in Maine have come to realize over the past 15 years: You can't just put a computer in a kid's hand and expect it to change learning." "Research has shown that 'one-to-one' programs, meaning one student one computer, implemented the right way, increase student learning in subjects like writing, math and science. Those results have prompted other states, like Utah and Nevada, to look at implementing their own one-to-one programs in recent years. Yet, after a decade and a half, and at a cost of about $12 million annually (around one percent of the state's education budget), Maine has yet to see any measurable increases on statewide standardized test scores." The article notes that Maine de-emphasized teacher training which could've produced better results. One education policy researcher "says this has created a new kind of divide in Maine. Students in larger schools, with more resources, have learned how to use their laptops in more creative ways. But in Maine's higher poverty and more rural schools, many students are still just using programs like PowerPoint and Microsoft Word."

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Categories: Science

Ask Slashdot: What Would You Pay To See Open Sourced?

Slashdot - Sun, 20/08/2017 - 2:04am
jbrase writes: It's in the interest of the open-source community to make open-source development as profitable as possible. One potential means of making money from open source is crowdfunding, [but] proprietary vendors aren't likely to be enthusastic about using their flagship product to try out a relatively untested business model. Crowdfunding the open source release of legacy technologies of historical significance could provide a low-risk way for vendors to experiment with making money by crowdfunding: The product has already turned them a profit. With that, I'd like to ask Slashdot readers, what would you pay to see open sourced? Slashdot reader jonwil left a comment suggesting old games ("where the game is no longer being developed/worked on and where the engine/tech is no longer being used for anything"). But the sky's the limit here, so leave your own best answers in the comments. What would you pay to see open sourced?

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Categories: Science

FBI Warns US Private Sector To Cut Ties With Kaspersky

Slashdot - Sat, 19/08/2017 - 11:59pm
An anonymous reader quotes CyberScoop: The FBI has been briefing private sector companies on intelligence claiming to show that the Moscow-based cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab is an unacceptable threat to national security, current and former senior U.S. officials familiar with the matter tell CyberScoop... The FBI's goal is to have U.S. firms push Kaspersky out of their systems as soon as possible or refrain from using them in new products or other efforts, the current and former officials say. The FBI's counterintelligence section has been giving briefings since beginning of the year on a priority basis, prioritizing companies in the energy sector and those that use industrial control (ICS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. In light of successive cyberattacks against the electric grid in Ukraine, the FBI has focused on this sector due to the critical infrastructure designation assigned to it by the Department of Homeland Security... The U.S. government's actions come as Russia is engaged in its own push to stamp American tech giants like Microsoft out of that country's systems. Meanwhile Bloomberg Businessweek claims to have seen emails which "show that Kaspersky Lab has maintained a much closer working relationship with Russia's main intelligence agency, the FSB, than it has publicly admitted" -- and that Kaspersky Lab "confirmed the emails are authentic." Kaspersky Lab told ZDNet they have not confirmed the emails' authenticity. A representative for Kaspersky Lab says that the company does not have "inappropriate" ties with any government, adding that "the company does regularly work with governments and law enforcement agencies around the world with the sole purpose of fighting cybercrime."

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Categories: Science

Google Warns Webmasters About Insecure HTTP Web Forms

Slashdot - Sat, 19/08/2017 - 10:54pm
In April Chrome began marking HTTP pages as "not secure" in its address bar if the pages had password or credit card fields. They're about to take the next step. An anonymous reader quotes SearchEngineLand: Last night, Google sent email notifications via Google Search Console to site owners that have forms on web pages over HTTP... Google said, "Beginning in October 2017, Chrome will show the 'Not secure' warning in two additional situations: when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode." Google warned in April that "Our plan to label HTTP sites as non-secure is taking place in gradual steps, based on increasingly broad criteria. Since the change in Chrome 56, there has been a 23% reduction in the fraction of navigations to HTTP pages with password or credit card forms on desktop, and we're ready to take the next steps..." "Any type of data that users type into websites should not be accessible to others on the network, so starting in version 62 Chrome will show the 'Not secure' warning when users type data into HTTP sites."

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Categories: Science

Microsoft Avoids Washington State Taxes, Gives Nevada Schoolkid A Surface Laptop

Slashdot - Sat, 19/08/2017 - 9:49pm
theodp writes: The Official Microsoft Blog hopes a letter from a Nevada middle schooler advising Microsoft President Brad Smith to "keep up the good work running that company" will "inspire you like it did us." Penned as part of a math teacher's assignment to write letters to the businesses that they like, Microsoft says the letter prompted Smith to visit the Nevada school to meet 7th-grader Sky Yi in person as part of the company's effort to draw attention to the importance of math and encourage students and teachers who are passionate about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. In an accompanying video of the surprise meeting, Smith presents Yi with a new Surface Laptop that comes with Windows 10 S, a version of the OS that has been streamlined with schools in mind. "Not bad for a little letter," the Microsoft exec says. Speaking of Microsoft, Nevada, and education, Bing Maps coincidentally shows the school Smith visited is just a 43-minute drive from the software giant's Reno-based Americas Operations Center. According to the Seattle Times, routing sales through the Reno software-licensing office helps Microsoft minimize its tax bills (NV doesn't tax business income) to the detriment, some say, of Washington State public schools. Microsoft's state and local taxes will drop to just $30 million for the last year (from an average of $214 milion over the previous 14 years) according to the Seattle Times. "A Microsoft spokesman said the decline in 2017 was caused by the company's deferring taxes on some income to future years and the winding down of the company's smartphone business."

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Categories: Science

Paul Allen Finds Long-Lost World War II Cruiser, the USS Indianapolis

Slashdot - Sat, 19/08/2017 - 8:44pm
An anonymous reader quotes the US Naval Institute News: Seventy-two years after two torpedoes fired from a Japanese submarine sunk cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35), the ship's wreckage was found resting on the seafloor on Saturday -- more than 18,000 feet below the Pacific Ocean's surface. Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist, led a search team, assisted by historians from the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C., to accomplish what past searches had failed to do -- find Indianapolis, considered the last great naval tragedy of World War II. "To be able to honor the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling," said Allen in a statement provided to US Naval Institute News on Saturday... "I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming"... Allen's 13-person expedition team, on the R/V Petrel is in the process of surveying the full site and will conduct a live tour of the wreckage in the next few weeks. They are complying with U.S. law and respecting the sunken ship as a war grave, taking care not to disturb the site. Paul Allen has shared some photos from the discovery on Twitter. The ship had delivered components for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima just four days before it was sunk. Only 317 of its 1,197-man crew survived, making it the worst at-sea disaster in the history of the U.S. Navy.

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Categories: Science

Should Plex Stop Allowing Users To Opt Out of Data Collection?

Slashdot - Sat, 19/08/2017 - 7:34pm
Slashdot reader bigdogpete writes: Many users of Plex got an email that said they were changing their privacy policy which goes into effect on 20 September 2017. While most of the things are pretty standard, users found it odd that they were now not going to allow users to opt-out of data collection. Here is the part from their website explaining the upcoming changes. "In order to understand the usage across the Plex ecosystem and how we need to improve, Plex will continue to collect usage statistics, such as device type, duration, bit rate, media format, resolution, and media type (music, photos, videos, etc.). We will no longer allow the option to opt out of this statistics collection, but we do not sell or share your personally identifiable statistics. Again, we will not collect any information that identifies libraries, files, file names, and/or the specific content stored on your privately hosted Plex Media Servers. The only exception to this is when, and only to the extent, you use Plex with third-party services such as Sonos, Alexa, webhooks, and Last.fm." What do you all think?

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Categories: Science

EFF Honors Chelsea Manning, an IFEX Leader, And TechDirt's Editor

Slashdot - Sat, 19/08/2017 - 6:34pm
An anonymous reader quotes the Electronic Frontier Foundation: Whistleblower and activist Chelsea Manning, Techdirt editor and open internet advocate Mike Masnick, and IFEX executive director and global freedom of expression defender Annie Game are the distinguished winners of the 2017 Pioneer Awards, which recognize leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. This year's honorees -- a whistleblower, an editor, and an international freedom of expression activist -- all have worked tirelessly to protect the public's right to know. The award ceremony will be held the evening of September 14 at Delancey Street's Town Hall Room in San Francisco. The keynote speaker is Emmy-nominated comedy writer Ashley Nicole Black, a correspondent on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee who uses her unique comedic style to take on government surveillance, encryption, and freedom of information. The EFF describes Chelsea Manning as "a network security expert, whistleblower, and former U.S. Army intelligence analyst whose disclosure of classified Iraq war documents exposed human rights abuses and corruption the government kept hidden from the public." Their annoncement also notes that Annie Game has led the IFEX network of 115+ journalism and civil liberties groups around the world for over 10 years, and that Mike Masnick coined the term "The Streisand Effect" -- and is currently being sued by that man who claims he invented email.

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Categories: Science

Oracle Now Wants To Give Java EE to an Open Source Foundation

Slashdot - Sat, 19/08/2017 - 5:34pm
An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: Oracle wants to end its leadership in the development of enterprise Java and is looking for an open source foundation to take on the role. The company said Thursday that the upcoming Java EE (Enterprise Edition) 8 presents an opportunity to rethink how the platform is developed. Although development is done via open source with community participation, the current Oracle-led process is not seen as agile, flexible, or open enough. "We believe that moving Java EE technologies to an open source foundation may be the right next step, to adopt more agile processes, implement more flexible licensing and change the governance process," Oracle said in a statement... Despite its desire to retreat from Java EE leadership, Oracle said it plans to continue participating in the evolution of Java EE technologies. "But we believe a more open process, that is not dependent on a single vendor as platform lead, will encourage greater participation and innovation, and will be in best interests of the community"... Oracle's goals for offloading Java EE would have Oracle not lead the project as it still effectively does with Java SE. Red Hat's senior principal product manager called this "a very positive move," while Eclipse's executive director said that moving Java EE to a vendor-neutral open source foundation "would be great for both the platform and the community," adding "If asked to so, the Eclipse Foundation would be pleased to serve as the host organization."

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Categories: Science

Hacker Helps Family Recover Minivan After Losing One-Of-A-Kind Car Key

Slashdot - Sat, 19/08/2017 - 4:34pm
An anonymous reader writes: A hacker and a mechanic have helped a family regain access to their hybrid car after they've lost their one-of-a-kind car key while on vacation. The car in question is a Toyota Estima minivan, which a Canadian family bought reused and imported from Japan. When they did so, they received only one key, which the father says he lost when he bent down to tie his son's shoelaces. Because it was a hybrid and the on-board computer was synced to the battery recharge cycles, the car owner couldn't simply replace the car key without risking the car battery to overcharge and catch fire. After offering a reward, going viral on Facebook, in Canadian media, and attempting to find the lost keys using crows, the family finally accepted the help of a local hacker who stripped the car apart and reprogrammed the car immobilizer with new car keys. The whole ordeal cost the family two months of their lives and around $3,500.

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Categories: Science

Marcus Hutchins' Code Used In Malware May Have Come From GitHub

Slashdot - Sat, 19/08/2017 - 3:34pm
troublemaker_23 quotes ITWire: A security researcher says code has been discovered that was written by British hacker Marcus Hutchins that was apparently 'borrowed' by the creator of the banking trojan Kronos. The researcher, known as Hasherezade, posted a tweet identifying the code that had been taken from Hutchins' repository on GitHub. Hasherezade also found a 2015 tweet where a then-20-year-old Hutchins first announces he's discovered the hooking engine he wrote for his own blog -- being used in a malware sample. ("This is why we can't have nice things," Hutchins jokes.) Hasherezade analyzed Kronos's code and concluded "the author has a prior knowledge in implementing malware solutions... The level of precision lead us to the hypothesis, that Kronos is the work of a mature developer, rather than an experimenting youngster." Monday on Twitter Hutchins posted that "I'm still on trial, still not allowed to go home, still on house arrest; but now I am allowed online. Will get my computers back soon."

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Categories: Science

How Long Will the 2017 Solar Eclipse Last? Depends Where You Are

Space.com - Sat, 19/08/2017 - 3:32pm
The total phase of the solar eclipse of Aug. 21 will last a maximum of 2 minutes and 40 seconds for observers on the ground. Here's how long it will last at various points along the totality path — and why total solar eclipses are so brief.
Categories: Science