News

Copenhagen's New All-Electric Public Carsharing Programming

Slashdot - 1 hour 3 min ago
dkatana writes: Residents in Copenhagen have a new all-electric, free-floating, carsharing service. DriveNow is launching 400 brand new BMW i3 electric cars in the Danish city. The service is one-way, and metered by the minute. The big news is that residents can sign-up on the spot taking a picture of their drivers' license and a selfie and use their public transport accounts to pay. There will be a car available every 300 meters, the same distance as bus stops. The cost will be 3.50 kroner ($0.52) per minute driven. If members decide to park the car for a few minutes continuing the rental, those stationary minutes are charged at 2.5 kroner ($0.37). The maximum charge per hour is capped at 190 kroner ($28.50). There is no annual fee.

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Congressional Testimony: A Surprising Consensus On Climate

Slashdot - 1 hour 46 min ago
Lasrick writes: Many legislators regularly deny that there is a scientific consensus, or even broad scientific support, for government action to address climate change. Researchers recently assessed the content of congressional testimony related to either global warming or climate change from 1969 to 2007. For each piece of testimony, they recorded several characteristics about how the testimony discussed climate. For instance, noting whether the testimony indicated that global warming or climate change was happening and whether any climate change was attributable (in part) to anthropogenic sources. The results: Testimony to Congress—even under Republican reign—reflects the scientific consensus that humans are changing our planet's climate.

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Connecting the Unwired World With Balloons, Satellites, Lasers & Drones

Slashdot - 2 hours 29 min ago
1sockchuck writes: New projects are seeking to connect the unwired world using balloons, drones, lasers and satellites to deliver wireless Internet. There are dueling low-earth orbit satellite initiatives backed by billionaires Elon Musk (SpaceX) and Richard Branson (OneWeb), while Google's Project Loon is using balloons (which sometimes crash) and Facebook is building a solar-powered UAV (Project Aquila). “The Connectivity Lab team is very focused on the technical challenges of reaching those people who are typically in the more rural, unconnected parts of the world,” Jay Parikh, vice president of engineering at Facebook says. “I think that we need to get them access. My hope is that we are able to deliver a very rich experience to them, including videos, photos and—some day—virtual reality and all of that stuff. But it’s a multi-, multi-, multi-year challenge, and I don’t see any end in sight right now.”

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Easy-To-Clean Membrane Separates Oil From Water

Slashdot - 3 hours 13 min ago
ckwu writes: A steel mesh with a novel self-cleaning coating can separate oil and water, easily lifting oil from an oil-water mixture and leaving the water behind. Unlike existing oil-water separation membranes, if the coated mesh gets contaminated with oil, it can be simply rinsed off with water and reused, without needing to be cleaned with detergents. The team was able to use the mesh to lift crude oil from a crude oil-seawater mixture, showcasing the feasibility of oil-spill cleanup. The membrane could also be used to treat oily wastewater and as a protective barrier in industrial sewer outlets to avoid oil discharge.

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14-Year-Old Boy Placed On Police Register After Sending Naked Picture To Classmate

Slashdot - 3 hours 57 min ago
Ewan Palmer reports: A teenage boy in the UK has had a crime of making and distributing indecent images recorded against him after he sent a naked picture of himself to one of his female classmates. The 14-year-old was not formally arrested after he sent the explicit image to a girl of the same age via Snapchat. The police file against the boy will now remain active for 10 years, meaning any future employer conducting an advanced Criminal Records Bureau check will be aware of the incident. However, it is not clear whether a police file was recorded for the girl who saved and shared the image. Under new legislation, if she had been over 18, the girl could have been convicted under the so called 'revenge porn' law in the UK.

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Completely Paralyzed Man Walks In Robotic Exoskeleton

Slashdot - 4 hours 38 min ago
Zothecula writes: Working with a team of UCLA scientists, a man with protracted and complete paralysis has recovered sufficient voluntary control to take charge of a bionic exoskeleton and take many thousands of steps. Using a non-invasive spinal stimulation system that requires no surgery, this is claimed (abstract) to be the first time that a person with such a comprehensive disability has been able to actively and voluntarily walk with such a device.

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Slowing Wind Energy Production Suffers From Lack of Wind

Slashdot - 5 hours 20 min ago
HughPickens.com writes: Gregory Meyer reports at the Financial Times that electricity generated by U.S. wind farms fell 6 per cent in the first half of the year, even as the nation expanded wind generation capacity by 9 per cent. The reason was some of the softest air currents in 40 years, cutting power sales from wind farms to utilities. The situation is likely to intensify into the first quarter of 2016 as the El Niño weather phenomenon holds back wind speeds around much of the U.S. "We never anticipated a drop-off in the wind resource as we have witnessed over the past six months," says David Crane. Wind generated 4.4 per cent of US electricity last year, up from 0.4 per cent a decade earlier. But this year U.S. wind plants' "capacity factor" has averaged just a third of their total generating capacity, down from 38 per cent in 2014. EIA noted that slightly slower wind speeds can reduce output by a disproportionately large amount. "Capacity factors for wind turbines are largely determined by wind resources," says a report from the Energy Information Administration. "Because the output from a turbine varies nonlinearly with wind speed, small decreases in wind speeds can result in much larger changes in output and, in turn, capacity factors." In January of 2015, wind speeds remained 20 to 45 percent below normal on areas of the west coast, but it was especially bad in California, Oregon, and Washington, where those levels dropped to 50 percent below normal during the month of January.

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How To Build With Delrin and a Laser Cutter

Slashdot - 6 hours 6 min ago
szczys writes: Laser cutters are awesome, but you have to bring your mechanical engineering A-game if you want to build resilient stuff using laser-cut parts. Joshua Vasquez has been building up his bag of tricks using Delrin and a laser cutter to build with techniques like press-fitting, threading, snap-fits, etc. that aren't possible or are non-ideal with the laser-cutting steadfasts of plywood and acrylic. Delrin (PDF) won't shatter like acrylic, and it has more give to it, so even the less precise entry-level lasers can cut joints that will have a snug fit.

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Sultan of Sound, Dr. James Flanagan, Passed Away Aged 89

Slashdot - 6 hours 50 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: A pioneer in the field of acoustics, Dr. James L. Flanagan provided "the technical foundation for speech recognition, teleconferencing, MP3 music files, and the more efficient digital transmission of human conversation." The NYTimes covered his recent passing: "His innovations included preserving the sound of a human voice while crunching it digitally, as well as teaching computers to articulate — converting sound waves into digital pulses. He also helped devise a 'force-feedback' tactile glove, similar to today’s video game accessories, that enabled medical students to simulate hands-on examinations when a live patient or cadaver was not available (or to mimic a game of handball). Dr. Flanagan also played a minor role in the drama surrounding the downfall of President Richard M. Nixon." An older (2005) article from IEEE Spectrum titled "Sultan of Sound" provides background on his work and impact. An interview (1997) discussing his WWII service, research at AT&T Bell Labs & Rutgers University is part of the IEEE oral history series.

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Survey: More Women Are Going Into Programming

Slashdot - 7 hours 33 min ago
itwbennett writes: We've previously discussed the dearth of women in computing. Indeed, according to U.S. Bureau and Labor Statistics estimates, in 2014 four out of five programmers and software developers in the U.S. were men. But according to a survey conducted this spring by the Application Developers Alliance and IDC, that may be changing. The survey of 855 developers worldwide found that women make up 42% of developers with less than 1 year of experience and 30% of those with between 1 and 5 years of experience. Of course, getting women into programming is one thing; keeping them is the next big challenge.

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Brain-Eating Amoeba Scoffs At Chlorine In Water Pipes

Slashdot - 8 hours 16 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: The Naegleria fowleri amoeba typically feeds on bacteria in water and soil. Human digestive systems have no problem killing it, but inhaling water that carries the amoeba gives it the opportunity to work its way into the brain after it sneaks through the nasal mucus. It happens rarely, but 97% of people whose brains start swelling because of this amoeba end up dying. Like most microorganisms, N. fowleri can be neutralized with concentrated chlorine. However, the systems we use to deliver tap water aren't so clean. Researchers found that N. fowleri can easily survive for 24 hours when it's mixed with the types of biofilm that tend to reside in water pipes. Increasing chlorine levels isn't a good option, since its reaction with these biofilms can generate carcinogens.

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Earth Home To 3 Trillion Trees, Half As Many As When Human Civilization Arose

Slashdot - 8 hours 58 min ago
sciencehabit writes: Earth today supports more than 3 trillion trees—eight times as many as we thought a decade ago. But that number is rapidly shrinking, according to a global tree survey released today (abstract). We are losing 15 billion trees a year to toilet paper, timber, farmland expansion, and other human needs. So even though the total count is large, the decline is "a cause for concern," says Tom Spies, a forest ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Corvallis, Oregon, who was not involved with the work.

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Municipal ISP Makes 10Gbps Available To All Residents

Slashdot - 9 hours 40 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Five years ago, the city of Salisbury, North Carolina began a project to roll out fiber across its territory. They decided to do so because the private ISPs in the area weren't willing to invest more in the local infrastructure. Now, Salisbury has announced that it's ready to make 10 Gbps internet available to all of the city's residents. While they don't expect many homeowners to have a use for the $400/month 10 Gbps plan, they expect to have some business customers. "This is really geared toward attracting businesses that need this type of bandwidth and have it anywhere they want in the city." Normal residents can get 50 Mbps upstream and downstream for $45/month. A similar service was rolled out for a rural section of Vermont in June. Hopefully these cities will serve as blueprints for other locations that aren't able to get a decent fiber system from private ISPs.

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The Speakularity, Where Everything You Say Is Transcribed and Searchable

Slashdot - 10 hours 24 min ago
An anonymous reader sends an article from Nautilus about the possible future of speech recognition software. Today, hundreds of millions of people are walking around with devices that can not only record sound, but also do a decent job of turning spoken word into searchable text. The article makes the case that the recording and transcription of normal conversation will become commonplace, sooner or later. Not only would this potentially make a lot more interesting discussion available beyond earshot, but it could also facilitate information retrieval on a personal level. The article makes an analogy with email — right now, if you communicated with somebody through email a decade ago, you don't have to remember the specifics — as long as you didn't delete it or switch email providers, you can just search and look at exactly what was said. Of course, the power of such technology comes with trade-offs — not only would we be worried about the obvious privacy issues, but many people may feel restricted by always "performing" for the microphones. Some researchers also worry that if we have technology to remember for us, we'll put much less effort into remembering things ourselves.

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WWII Bomb Shelter Becomes Hi-Tech Salad Farm

Slashdot - 11 hours 7 min ago
asjk points out a story of how a World War II bomb shelter, situated 33 meters beneath the streets of London, has been turned into a high-tech hydroponic farm. "The growing system uses energy-efficient LEDs instead of sun, no pesticides, needs 70 percent less water than growing plants in open fields, and less energy than a greenhouse." The computer-controlled environment is designed to shorten the growth cycle of plants like coriander and radishes. They're currently only using about a quarter of the gear necessary to fill up the shelter, but they can produce 5,000-20,000 kilograms of food per year, depending on what they raise. Co-founder Steven Dring said, "We've got to utilize the spaces we've got. There's a finite amount of land and we can grow salads and herbs — which start losing flavor and quality as soon as you cut them — in warehouses and rooftops in cities near the people who will eat them. Use the rural land for things like carrots, potatoes and livestock."

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Police Body Camera Business All About the Video Evidence Storage

Slashdot - 11 hours 49 min ago
Lucas123 writes: Body cameras are the fastest growing segment of the police video camera business. The two largest police body camera manufacturers today — Taser and VieVu — say they've shipped devices to 41% of the nation's 18,000 police departments. But, the hardware is only the basis for the real business: video evidence storage. Last year, Taser's gross profit margins on hardware were 15.6%; the gross margins for video storage were 51%, according to Glenn Mattson, who follows Taser as an equity analyst for Ladenburg Thalmann. "There's no contest. They don't care about making money on the cameras," Mattson said. As of the first quarter of this year, more than a petabyte of police video has been uploaded to Taser's Evidence.com service. Just one of VieVu's clients, the Oakland PD, has uploaded more than a million police videos. The cost of storage, however, is so high that police departments have been forced to determine strict retention policies, that in some cases may effect the long-term handling of evidence. In Birmingham, Ala., for example, where they've deployed 300 cameras and hope to double that this year, the the video cameras themselves cost about $180,000, but the department's total outlay for a five-year contract including cloud storage with Taser will be $889,000.

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60,000 Antelope Died In 4 Days, and No One Knows Why

Slashdot - 12 hours 31 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: The Saiga antelope has been hunted to near extinction. They've been put on the endangered species list, and they play a vital role in the ecosystems around Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan, where their grazing helps get rid of fallen plant matter, which is prevented from decomposing by the cold temperatures. But earlier this year, a huge die-off hit the Saiga antelope herd in Kazakhstan, felling over 120,000 of them in a few short weeks. Scientists say an entire group of 60,000 died within a four-day span. The cause of this die-off is still a mystery. The researchers suspect some sort of bacteria, and early on pointed to Pasteurella strains. But those bacteria don't usually cause this much damage unless something else has weakened the antelope. "There is nothing so special about it. The question is why it developed so rapidly and spread to all the animals," one researcher said. They're looking into environmental factors, but nothing else seems too far out of the ordinary.

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FTC: Machinima Took Secret Cash To Shill Xbox One

Slashdot - 13 hours 14 min ago
jfruh writes: The Machinima gaming video network took money from a marketing agency hired by Microsoft to pay "influencers" up to $45,000 to promote the Xbox One. Crucially, the video endorsers did not disclose that they'd been paid, which has caused trouble with the FTC. For its part, Machinima notes that this happened in 2013, when the current management was not in charge.

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Government Still Hasn't Notified Individuals Whose Personal Data Was Hacked

Slashdot - 13 hours 56 min ago
schwit1 writes: Months after the federal government admitted publicly that the personal data of more than 20 million government employees had been hacked they still have not sent notifications to those millions. The agency whose data was hacked, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), said the Defense Department will begin "later this month" to notify employees and contractors across the government that their personal information was accessed by hackers. OPM said notifications would continue over several weeks and "will be sent directly to impacted individuals." OPM also announced that it hired a contractor to help protect the identities and credit ratings of employees whose data was hacked. In a statement, OPM said it had awarded a contract initially worth more than $133 million to a company called Identity Theft Guard Solutions LLC, doing business as ID experts, for identity theft protections for the 21.5 million victims of the security data breach. The contractor will provide credit and identity monitoring services for three years, as well as identity theft insurance, to affected individuals and dependent children aged under 18, the agency said.

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New Russian Laboratory To Study Mammoth Cloning

Slashdot - 16 hours 2 sec ago
An anonymous reader writes: While plans to clone a woolly mammoth are not new, a lab used in a joint effort by Russia and South Korea is. The new facility is devoted to studying extinct animal DNA in the hope of creating clones from the remains of animals found in the permafrost. IBtimes reports: "The Sakha facility has the world's largest collection of frozen ancient animal carcasses and remains, with more than 2,000 samples in its possession, including some that are tens of thousands years old, such as a mammoth discovered on the island of Maly Lyakhovsky; experts believe it may be more than 28,000 years old."

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