Education

BBC Reveals Its New Microcomputer Design 26 26

The BBC has revealed the final design for its Micro Bit computer, a programmable board the size of a credit card they hope will inspire the same love of technology that the BBC Micro did in 1981. The Micro Bit includes an array of LEDs, buttons, and a motion sensor. It can be powered via USB, or by an addon pack with AA batteries. It's not intended as a competitor to devices like the Raspberry Pi or the Arduino — it is intended to complement them while remaining simple for educational purposes. In October, the BBC will begin distributing the Micro Bit to students in grade 7. They expect to give away about a million of them. Afterward, the device will go on sale, and its specs will be open sourced.
Space

A Real-Time Map of All the Objects In Earth's Orbit 25 25

rastos1 writes: It started as a passion project in April for 18-year-old James Yoder, an alum of FIRST Robotics, the high school robotics competition. He wanted to learn more about 3D graphics programming and WebGL, a JavaScript API. It's stuffin.space, a real-time, 3D-visualized map of all objects looping around Earth, from satellites to orbital trash. In total, stuffin.space tracks 150,000 objects. Type in a satellite name to scope out its altitude, figure out its age, group satellites by type, and so on.
Security

Crypto Experts Blast Gov't Backdoors For Encryption 83 83

loid_void writes with a link to a New York Times report about some of the world's best-known cryptography experts, who have prepared a report which concludes that there is no viable technical solution which "would allow the American and British governments to gain "exceptional access" to encrypted communications without putting the world's most confidential data and critical infrastructure in danger." From the article: [T]he government’s plans could affect the technology used to lock financial institutions and medical data, and poke a hole in mobile devices and the countless other critical systems — including pipelines, nuclear facilities, the power grid — that are moving online rapidly. ... “The problems now are much worse than they were in 1997,” said Peter G. Neumann, a co-author of both the 1997 report and the new paper, who is a computer security pioneer at SRI International, the Silicon Valley research laboratory. “There are more vulnerabilities than ever, more ways to exploit them than ever, and now the government wants to dumb everything down further.” The authors include Neumann, Harold Abelson, Susan Landau, and Bruce Schneier.
Government

Eric Holder Says DoJ Could Strike Deal With Snowden; Current AG Takes Hard Line 142 142

cold fjord writes with the report at Yahoo that Former Attorney General Eric Holder said today that a "possibility exists" for the Justice Department to cut a deal with ... Edward Snowden that would allow him to return to the United States ... Holder said "we are in a different place as a result of the Snowden disclosures" and that "his actions spurred a necessary debate" that prompted President Obama and Congress to change policies ... "I certainly think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with. I think the possibility exists." A representative of current Attorney General Loretta Lynch, though, said that there has been no change in the government's position ("This is an ongoing case so I am not going to get into specific details but I can say our position regarding bringing Edward Snowden back to the United States to face charges has not changed."), Holder's musings aside. As the article points out, too, "any suggestion of leniency toward Snowden would likely run into strong political opposition in Congress as well as fierce resistance from hard-liners in the intelligence community."
Programming

Even the "Idea Person" Should Learn How To Code 181 181

theodp writes: "A few months ago," writes Steph Rhee, "I was at a dinner with a dozen students and a 60-year-old entrepreneur who made himself a fortune on Wall Street. At the time, I was a junior at Yale and the only person at the table studying a computer-related major. We went around saying what our big dreams were. When I said that I'm studying computer science because I want to be a software engineer and hope to start my own company one day, he said, 'Why waste so many years learning how to code? Why not just pay someone else to build your idea?'" But Rhee isn't buying into the idea of the look-Ma-no-tech-skills "idea person." "We must not neglect the merits of technical skills in the conception of the 'idea person,'" she argues. "What the 60-year old entrepreneur and others of his generation — the people in control of the education we receive — don't realize is this: for college students dreaming of becoming unicorns in Silicon Valley, being an 'idea person' is not liberating at all. Being able to design and develop is liberating because that lets you make stuff. This should be a part of what we see in the 'idea person' today and what it means to be 'right' when designing an undergraduate curriculum."
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Find Jobs That Offer Working From Home? 279 279

jez9999 writes: I'm a software developer in the UK, and I've found that it's very rare (maybe 5% of the time) to find an employer that will even consider any working from home, let alone for the majority of the time. I see it as a win-win; you're able to work in the home environment you are most productive in, and you can use the time you would've been commuting to work a bit longer for the employer. Not only that, but you're not adding to road congestion either. Skype, etc. make communication with coworkers a snap these days. So how do you go about finding homeworking jobs? Is it better to demand it from the get-go, or wait a few months and then ask for it? Is it more common than 5% of jobs in the US (in which case I guess it's a cultural thing the UK needs to catch up with)?
Firefox

Mozilla's Plans For Firefox: More Partnerships, Better Add-ons, Faster Updates 169 169

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla is reexamining and revamping the way it builds, communicates, and decides features for its browser. In short, big changes are coming to Firefox. Dave Camp, Firefox's director of engineering, sent out two lengthy emails, just three minutes apart: Three Pillars and Revisiting how we build Firefox. Both offer a lot more detail into what Mozilla is hoping to achieve.
United States

Prototype Wave Energy Device Passes Grid-Connected Pilot Test 50 50

coondoggie writes: A prototype wave energy device advanced with backing from the Energy Department and U.S. Navy has passed its first grid-connected open-sea pilot testing. According to the DOE, the device, called Azura, was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy's Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. This pilot testing is now giving U.S. researchers the opportunity to evaluate the long-term performance of the nation’s first grid-connected 20-kilowatt wave energy converter (WEC) device to be independently tested by a third party—the University of Hawaii—in the open ocean, the DOE said.
Earth

Philips Is Revolutionizing Urban Farming With New GrowWise Indoor Farm 254 254

Kristine Lofgren writes: With arable land dwindling and the cost — both economically and environmentally — of growing and transporting food increasing, it's time to redefine farming. So Philips is creating a revolution with their new GrowWise indoor farm, which uses customized 'light recipes' in high-tech cells to grow plants that don't need pesticides or chlorine washes, and use a fraction of the water that traditional farming requires. The system can churn out 900 pots of basil a year in just one square meter of floor space, and bees keep things humming year-round for farming that is truly local, even in the middle of a city.
Open Source

What Goes Into a Decision To Take Software From Proprietary To Open Source 43 43

Lemeowski writes: It's not often that you get to glimpse behind the curtain and see what led a proprietary software company to open source its software. Last year, the networking software company Midokura made a strategic decision to open source its network virtualization platform MidoNet, to address fragmentation in the networking industry. In this interview, Midokura CEO and CTO Dan Mihai Dumitriu explains the company's decision to give away fours years of engineering to the open source community, how it changed the way its engineers worked, and the lessons learned along the way. Among the challenges was helping engineers overcome the culture change of broadcasting their work to a broader community.
United Kingdom

More Supermassive Black Holes Than We Thought! 84 84

LeadSongDog writes: The Royal Astronomical Society reports five supermassive black holes (SMBHs) that were previously hidden by dust and gas have been uncovered. The discovery suggests there may be millions more supermassive black holes in the universe than were previously thought. George Lansbury, a postgraduate student in the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, at Durham University, said: “For a long time we have known about supermassive black holes that are not obscured by dust and gas, but we suspected that many more were hidden from our view. Thanks to NuSTAR for the first time we have been able to clearly see these hidden monsters that are predicted to be there, but have previously been elusive because of their ‘buried’ state. Although we have only detected five of these hidden supermassive black holes, when we extrapolate our results across the whole Universe then the predicted numbers are huge and in agreement with what we would expect to see.”
United States

Japanese and US Piloted Robots To Brawl For National Pride 107 107

jfruh writes: Japan may have just lost the Women's World Cup to the U.S., but the country is hoping for a comeback in another competition: a battle between giant robots. Suidobashi Heavy Industry has agreed to a challenge from Boston-based MegaBots that would involve titanic armored robots developed by each startup, the first of its kind involving piloted machines that are roughly 4 meters tall. "We can't let another country win this," Kogoro Kurata, who is CEO of Suidobashi, said in a video posted to YouTube. "Giant robots are Japanese culture."
United States

Proposed Regulation Could Keep 3D-printed Gun Blueprints Offline For Good 396 396

SonicSpike sends a report on a proposed update to the International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) regulations which could shut down the sharing of files for 3D printed gun parts over the internet. "Hidden within the proposal, which restricts what gear, technology, and info can and cannot be exported out of the U.S., is a ban on posting schematics for 3D printed gun parts online." This follows a lawsuit from Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed back in May fighting the federal government's command to remove blueprints for the "Liberator" 3D-printed gun from their website. A senior official at the U.S. State Department said, "By putting up a digital file, that constitutes an export of the data. If it's an executable digital file, any foreign interests can get a hold of it."
Businesses

Researchers Study "Harbingers of Failure," Consumers Who Habitually Pick Losers 293 293

AmiMoJo writes: Is your favorite TV show always getting cancelled? Did you love Crystal Pepsi? Were you an early adopter of the Zune? If you answered yes to these questions, researchers say you might be a "Harbinger of Failure." In a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, researchers identified a group of consumers whose preferences can predict products that will fail. “Certain customers systematically purchase new products that prove unsuccessful,” wrote the study authors. “Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that a product will fail.”
China

Chinese Zoo Animals Monitored For Earthquake Prediction 29 29

An anonymous reader writes: Seismologists in Nanjing have set up seven observation centers at zoos and animal parks in the region to see if animals can predict when an earthquake may strike. At least three kinds of animals in the earthquake stations should corroborate each other when bizarre behavior occurs, said Zhao Bing, head of Nanjing earthquake monitoring. Discovery reports: "According to one English-language Chinese news outlet, 'At Banqiao ecological park the behavior of around 200 pigs, 2,000 chickens, and fish in a 15-hectare pond are closely monitored to detect signals of an earthquake. Breeders here create daily reports regarding animal behavior for Nanjing's seismological departments.' The news report noted that the park relies 'mainly on employees closely watching the animals' for seismological significance."
EU

Greece Rejects EU Terms 1265 1265

New submitter Thammuz writes: With almost all ballots counted, Greeks voted overwhelmingly "No" on Sunday in a bailout referendum, defying warnings from the EU that rejecting new austerity terms would set their country on a path out of the euro. Figures published by the interior ministry showed nearly 62% of those whose ballots had been counted voting "No", against 38% voting "Yes". "Today we celebrate the victory of democracy, but tomorrow all together we continue and complete a national effort for exiting this crisis," Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a televised address.
Shark

Scientists Look For Patterns In North Carolina Shark Attacks 92 92

HughPickens.com writes: The Washington Post reports that there have been seven recent shark attacks in North Carolina. Scientists are looking for what might be luring the usually shy sharks so close to shore and among the swimmers they usually avoid. It's an unusual number of attacks for a state that recorded 25 attacks between 2005 and 2014. Even with the recent incidents, researchers emphasize that sharks are a very low-level threat to humans, compared with other forms of wildlife. Bees, for example, are much more dangerous. And swimming itself is hazardous even without sharks around.

George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida's Florida Museum of Natural History, speculates that several environmental factors could be pushing sharks to congregate in the Outer Banks. It is a warm year, and the water has a higher level of salinity because of a low-level drought in the area. Also, a common species of forage fish — menhaden — has been abundant this year and might have attracted more sharks to the area. Burgess also says some fishermen put bait in the water near piers, which could lure the predators closer to shore; two of the encounters took place within 100 yards of a pier. "That's a formula for shark attacks," Burgess says of these conditions, taken together. "Now, does that explain seven attacks in three weeks? No, it doesn't."
United Kingdom

Theresa May Named UK's Internet Villain of the Year 58 58

An anonymous reader writes with news that Theresa May, the UK's Secretary of State for the Home Department, has been named the UK internet industry's villain of the year. She won this dubious honor for pushing the UK's controversial "snooper's charter" legislation, which would require ISPs to retain massive amounts of data regarding their subscribers for no less than a year. May championed the legislation without consulting the internet industry.

Conversely, "The MPs Tom Watson and David Davis were jointly named internet hero for their legal action against the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act. 'Surveillance has dominated both the hero and villain shortlists for number of years, and it was felt Davis and Watson were some of the best informed politicians on the subject,' the ISPA said."
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Snafu Causes Miners To Generate Invalid Blocks 178 178

An anonymous reader writes: A notice at bitcoin.org warns users of the cryptocurrency that many miners are currently generating invalid blocks. The cause seems to be out-of-date software, and software that assumed blocks were valid instead of checking them. They explain further "For several months, an increasing amount of mining hash rate has been signaling its intent to begin enforcing BIP66 strict DER signatures. As part of the BIP66 rules, once 950 of the last 1,000 blocks were version 3 (v3) blocks, all upgraded miners would reject version 2 (v2) blocks. Early morning UTC on 4 July 2015, the 950/1000 (95%) threshold was reached. Shortly thereafter, a small miner (part of the non-upgraded 5%) mined an invalid block--as was an expected occurrence. Unfortunately, it turned out that roughly half the network hash rate was mining without fully validating blocks (called SPV mining), and built new blocks on top of that invalid block. Note that the roughly 50% of the network that was SPV mining had explicitly indicated that they would enforce the BIP66 rules. By not doing so, several large miners have lost over $50,000 dollars worth of mining income so far."
DRM

Microsoft Edge, HTML5, and DRM 140 140

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft is building its new browser, Edge, with the intention of avoiding many of the flaws that plagued Internet Explorer over its long and tumultuous life. Part of this involves moving away from plug-ins, and Edge will not support ActiveX. Instead, they're focusing on interoperable media, and that means non-plug-in video players that meet HTML5 specs. Of course, not all video players want to disseminate their content for free, which means: DRM. Microsoft's Edge team has published a new post explaining how they'll be handling support for DRM and "premium media" in the new browser.

They say, "Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge support DASH, MSE, EME and CENC natively, and other major browsers ship implementations of MSE and CENC compliant EME. This support allows developers to build plug-in free web video apps that runs across a huge range of platforms and devices, with each MSE/EME implementation built on top of a different media pipeline and DRM provider. In the days when DRM systems used proprietary file formats and encryption methods, this variation in DRM providers by browser would have presented a significant issue. With the development and use of Common Encryption (CENC), the problem is substantially reduced because the files are compressed in standard formats and encrypted using global industry standards. The service provider issues the keys and licenses necessary to consume the content in a given browser, but the website code, content and encryption keys are common across all of them, regardless of which DRM is in use."