The Internet

FCC Proposes To Extend So-Called "Obamaphone" Program To Broadband 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the internet-to-the-people dept.
jfruh writes: The FCC's Lifeline program subsidizes phone service for very poor Americans; it gained notoriety under the label "Obamaphone," even though the program started under Reagan and was extended to cell phones under Clinton. Now the FCC is proposing that the program, which is funded by a fee on telecom providers, be extended to broadband, on the logic that high-speed internet is as necessary today as telephone service was a generation ago.
Businesses

GoPro's Next Adventure: Virtual Reality and Drones 27

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new dept.
stowie writes: Rumors have been swirling for some time that GoPro was developing a drone. Well, now it's official. Speaking at the Code Conference, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman announced the company's plans to come out with a quadcopter in the first half of 2016. Woodman said "the quad is in some ways the ultimate GoPro accessory," adding that the company is testing software that will wirelessly sync up GoPro footage to the cloud. In a deal announced with Google, GoPro is also offering a virtual reality system using 16 cameras and Google software.
Medicine

Live Anthrax Shipped Accidentally To S Korea and US Labs 46

Posted by samzenpus
from the bad-package dept.
New submitter hamsterz1 writes: U.S. Officials say that the military mistakenly sent live anthrax to laboratories in nine states and an air base in South Korea, after apparently failing to properly inactivate the bacteria. Four lab workers in the United States and up to 22 overseas have been given precautionary medical treatment. The CDC is investigating the incident and Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren says, "Out of an abundance of caution, [the Defence Department] has stopped the shipment of this material from its labs pending completion of the investigation."
Security

Why Detecting Drones Is a Tough Gig 155

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-see-something-it's-too-late dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a link to some interesting commentary at Help Net Security from Drone Lab CEO Zain Naboulsi about a security issue of a (so far) unusual kind: detecting drones whose masters are bent on malice. That's relevant after the recent drone flight close enough to the White House to spook the Secret Service, and that wasn't the first -- even if no malice was involved. Drones at their most dangerous in that context are small, quiet, and flying through busy, populated spaces, which makes even detecting them tough, never mind defeating them. From the article, which briefly describes pros and cons of various detection methods: Audio detection does NOT work in urban environments - period. Most microphones only listen well at 25 to 50 feet so, because of the ambient noise in the area, any audio detection method would be rendered useless at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It is also too simple for an operator to change the sound signature of a drone by buying different propellers or making other modifications. It doesn't take much to defeat the many weaknesses of audio detection.
Communications

Murder Accusations Hang Over Silk Road Boss Ulbricht's Sentencing 69

Posted by timothy
from the prison-break-blockbuster-in-the-works dept.
Patrick O'Neill writes: Ross Ulbricht has never been tried for murder but tomorrow, when the convicted Silk Road creator is sentenced to prison, murder will be on the mind of the judge. Despite never filing murder for hire charges, New York federal prosecutors have repeatedly pushed for harsh sentencing because of, they told the judge, Ulbricht solicited multiple murders. The judge herself recently referred to Ulbricht's "commission of murders-for-hire" in a letter about the sentencing, painting an even grimmer picture of Ulbricht's sentencing prospects.
Android

Android M To Embrace USB Type-C and MIDI 74

Posted by timothy
from the loving-arms-of-a-robot dept.
jones_supa writes: USB Type-C connection is showing up in more and more devices, and Google is rolling support for the interface in its Android M operating system. The most significant additions relate to the USB Power Delivery spec. Charging will now work in both directions. That effectively means that Type-C devices can be used as external batteries for other devices. Android M is also finally introducing a feature that musicmakers have been long asking for: MIDI support. This builds on some of the audio features Google introduced in Android 5, including reduction in latency, multichannel audio stream mixing, and support for USB microphones, amplifiers, speakers, and other accessories. As others have written, music and media creation apps are much more prevalent in iOS than they are in Android, and Google hopes turning that around.
Space

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Urges America To Challenge China To a Space Race 228

Posted by timothy
from the autocorrect-says-neil-degrease-tyson dept.
An anonymous reader writes: According to a Tuesday story in the UK edition of the International Business Times, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the celebrity astrophysicist and media personality, advocates a space race between the United States and China. The idea is that such a race would spur innovation and cause industry to grow. The Apollo race to the moon caused a similar explosive period of scientific research and engineering development. You might prefer the Sydney Morning Herald piece on which the IB Times article is based.
Stats

A Tool For Analyzing H-1B Visa Applications Reveals Tech Salary Secrets 105

Posted by timothy
from the sifting-and-stacking dept.
Tekla Perry writes: The golden age of engineers is not over,' says a French software engineer who developed a tool for mining U.S. Department of Labor visa application data, but, he says, salaries appear to be leveling off. Indeed, salary inflation for software engineers and other technical professionals at Google and Facebook has slowed dramatically, according to his database, and Airbnb and Dropbox pay is down a little, though Netflix pay is through the roof. The data also shows that some large companies appear to be playing games with titles to deflate salaries, and Microsoft is finally offering technology professionals comparable salaries to Apple and Google. There's a lot more to be discovered in this interactive database, and researchers are getting ready to mine it.
Power

How Tesla Batteries Will Force Home Wiring To Go Low Voltage 481

Posted by timothy
from the avoiding-another-conversion dept.
CIStud writes with a story at CEPro suggesting that solar power and home batteries like Tesla's PowerWall "will force the reinvention of home wiring from primarily AC high voltage to DC home-run low voltage to reduce power conversion loss," writing "To avoid the 20% to 40% power loss when converting from DC to AC, home wiring will have to convert to home-run low-voltage, and eventually eliminate the need for high-voltage 110V electrical wiring." As a former full-time Airstream dweller, I can attest to the importance of DC appliances when dealing with batteries.
Technology

New Technique To Develop Single-Molecule Diode 32

Posted by timothy
from the micro-management dept.
William Robinson writes: Under the direction of Latha Venkataraman, associate professor of applied physics at Columbia Engineering, researchers have designed a new technique to create a single-molecule diode, that has rectification ratio as high as 250, and 'ON' current as high as 0.1 microamps. The idea of creating a single-molecule diode was suggested by Arieh Aviram and Mark Ratner who theorized in 1974, which has been the 'holy grail' of molecular electronics ever since its inception to achieve further miniaturization, because single molecule represent the limit of miniaturization.
Android

The Tricky Road Ahead For Android Gets Even Trickier 321

Posted by samzenpus
from the careful-around-the-bends dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Farhad Manjoo writes in the NYT that with over one billion devices sold in 2014 Android is the most popular operating system in the world by far, but that doesn't mean it's a financial success for Google. Apple vacuumed up nearly 90 percent of the profits in the smartphone business which prompts a troubling question for Android and for Google: How will the search company — or anyone else, for that matter — ever make much money from Android. First the good news: The fact that Google does not charge for Android, and that few phone manufacturers are extracting much of a profit from Android devices, means that much of the globe now enjoys decent smartphones and online services for low prices. But while Google makes most of its revenue from advertising, Android has so far been an ad dud compared with Apple's iOS, whose users tend to have more money and spend a lot more time on their phones (and are, thus, more valuable to advertisers). Because Google pays billions to Apple to make its search engine the default search provider for iOS devices, the company collects much more from ads placed on Apple devices than from ads on Android devices.

The final threat for Google's Android may be the most pernicious: What if a significant number of the people who adopted Android as their first smartphone move on to something else as they become power users? In Apple's last two earnings calls, Tim Cook reported that the "majority" of those who switched to iPhone had owned a smartphone running Android. Apple has not specified the rate of switching, but a survey found that 16 percent of people who bought the latest iPhones previously owned Android devices; in China, that rate was 29 percent. For Google, this may not be terrible news in the short run. If Google already makes more from ads on iOS than Android, growth in iOS might actually be good for Google's bottom line. Still, in the long run, the rise of Android switching sets up a terrible path for Google — losing the high-end of the smartphone market to the iPhone, while the low end is under greater threat from noncooperative Android players like Cyanogen which has a chance to snag as many as 1 billion handsets. Android has always been a tricky strategy concludes Manjoo; now, after finding huge success, it seems only to be getting even trickier.
Hardware

Computer Chips Made of Wood Promise Greener Electronics 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-not-easy-being-green dept.
alphadogg writes: Researchers in the U.S. and China have developed semiconductor chips that are almost entirely made out of a wood-derived material. In addition to being biodegradable, the cost of production is much less than conventional semiconductors. According to the NetworkWorld report: "The researchers used a cellulose material for the substrate of the chip, which is the part that supports the active semiconductor layer. Taken from cellulose, a naturally abundant substance used to make paper, cellulose nanofibril (CNF) is a flexible, transparent and sturdy material with suitable electrical properties. That makes CNF better than alternative chip designs using natural materials such as paper and silk, they argue in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications."
Android

GM To Offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto API In Most 2016 Vehicles 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget-the-undercoat dept.
Lucas123 writes: GM today announced it will offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mirroring APIs on 14 of its 2016 vehicles. GM's announcement follows one earlier this week by Hyundai, which said it would offer Android Auto in its Sonata Sedan this year. Some of GM's Chevrolet vehicles — such as the Malibu, Camaro and Silverado truck — use a seven-inch MyLink infotainment system; those systems will be compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the beginning of 2016. Those models offering the smartphone mirroring apps include the all-new 2016 Cruze compact, which will debut on June 24. Other GM vehicles use an eight-inch version of MyLink that will only be compatible with Apple CarPlay at the beginning of the new model year. While development and testing is not yet complete, Android Auto compatibility may be available on the eight-inch version of MyLink later in the 2016 model year, GM said.
Technology

Making the World's Largest Panoramic Photo 96

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-ready-to-crop dept.
Iddo Genuth writes: In order to create the largest panoramic picture ever taken (using commercially available gear), a team of international photographers led by Italian photographer Filippo Blengini had to climb to an altitude of 3500 metres, wait for two weeks in a temperature of minus 10 degrees Celsius, look for a sunny, bright day, and then spend 35 hours shooting. During this time they shot over 70,000 images, which were combined in to the giant 365 Gigapxiel panorama using a special robotic head with a long 400mm telephoto lens (and a 2x Extender).

But the work didn't end up in the snowy Alps — when the team got back they had with them no less than 46TB of images which they needed to process in order to create one giant interactive image, 365 Gigapixels in size. This processing required some very powerful hardware and took over two months to complete, but the result is a look at the Mont Blanc (the tallest mountain in the Alps and the highest peak in Europe outside of the Caucasus range raising 4,810 meters or 15,781 feet above sea level) — like it has never been seen before.
Power

California Is Giving Away Free Solar Panels To Its Poorest Residents 267

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-get-a-panel-and-you-get-a-panel-and-you-get.... dept.
MikeChino writes: Oakland-based non-profit GRID Alternatives is giving away 1,600 free solar panels to California's poorest residents by the year 2016. The initiative was introduced by Senator Kevin de León and launched with funds gathered under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GCRF), the state's cap-and-trade program. SFGate reports: "Kianté London used the program to put panels on his three-bedroom North Richmond home, which he shares with two sons and a daughter. 'It helps me and my family a great deal to have low-cost energy, because these energy prices are really expensive,' said London, 46, whose solar array was installed this week. 'And I wanted to do my part. It’s clean, green energy.' London had wanted a solar array for years, but couldn’t afford it on his income as a merchant seaman — roughly $70,000 per year. Even leasing programs offered by such companies as SolarCity and Sunrun were too expensive, he said. The new program, in contrast, paid the entire up-front cost of his array."
The Military

The Marshall Islands, Nuclear Testing, and the NPT 58

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-booms dept.
Lasrick writes: Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a former senior policy adviser to the Energy Department's secretary and deputy assistant secretary for national security and the environment, details the horrific consequences of nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands and explains the lawsuits the Marshallese have filed against the nuclear weapons states. The lawsuits hope to close the huge loophole those states carved for themselves with the vague wording of Article VI of the NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty), wording that allows those states to delay, seemingly indefinitely, implementing the disarmament they agreed to when they signed the treaty.
Microsoft

Microsoft Edge To Support Dolby Audio 103

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-together dept.
jones_supa writes: Microsoft has revealed that its new Edge web browser will come with support for Dolby Audio in order to offer high-class audio when visiting websites. "It allows websites to match the compelling visuals of H.264 video with equally compelling multi-channel audio. It works well with AVC/H.264 video and also with our previously announced HLS and MPEG DASH Type 1 streaming features, which both support integrated playback of an HLS or DASH manifest," Microsoft explains in a blog post. Windows 10 will also ship with a Dolby Digital Plus codec.
Science

Prospects and Limits For the LHC's Capabilities To Test String Theory 146

Posted by samzenpus
from the proving-it-maybe dept.
StartsWithABang writes: The Large Hadron Collider has just been upgraded, and is now making the highest energy collisions of any human-made machine ever. But even at 13 TeV, what are the prospects for testing String Theory, considering that the string energy scale should be up at around 10^19 GeV or so? Surprisingly, there are a number of phenomenological consequences that should emerge, and looking at what we've seen so far, they may disfavor String Theory after all.
Space

SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches 61

Posted by Soulskill
from the low-earth-orbit-needs-more-lasers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Air Force has given private rocket company SpaceX clearance to launch military satellites into orbit. This disrupts the lock that Boeing and Lockheed Martin have had on military launches for almost a decade. SpaceX will get its first opportunity to bid for such launches in June, when the Air Force posts a contract to launch GPS satellites.
Transportation

Volvo Self-Parking Car Hits People Because Owner Didn't Pay For Extra Feature 382

Posted by Soulskill
from the problem-exists-between-keyboard-and-car dept.
schwit1 writes: A video that recently went viral shows a demonstration of a Volvo XC60's self-parking feature. It reverses itself, waits, and then confidently drives into a group of people at a non-negligible speed. (Two were hit, and while both were bruised, they were otherwise OK.) The situation was presumed to have resulted from a malfunction with the car — but the car might not have had the ability to recognize a human at all. A Volvo representative said the car was not equipped with the "Pedestrian detection" feature. That feature is sold as a separate package.