Firefox

Mozilla's Plans For Firefox: More Partnerships, Better Add-ons, Faster Updates 58 58

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.
Technology

Extreme Reduction Gearing Device Offers an Amazing Gear Ratio 72 72

ErnieKey writes: The 3D printed extreme reduction gearing device, created by long-time puzzle maker M. Oskar van Deventer, may leave you puzzled for its obvious applications, but the coaxial cranking mechanism offers potential in a variety of real-world applications with multi-colored gears that move in opposite directions at a ratio of 11,373,076 : 1. This 3D printed reduction gearing device is compact and multi-colored, and looks deceivingly simple at first glance. Developed through a complex algorithm, it could possibly offer potential as parts for machines like 3D printers, aerospace and automotive components, as well as perhaps robotics and a variety of motors.
The Internet

How Bad User Interfaces Can Ruin Lives 172 172

Lauren Weinstein writes: A couple of months ago, in "Seeking Anecdotes Regarding 'Older' Persons' Use of Web Services," I asked for stories and comments regarding experiences that older users have had with modern Web systems, with an emphasis on possible problems and frustrations. I purposely did not define "older" — with the result that responses arrived from users (or regarding users) self-identifying as ages ranging from their 30s to well into their 90s (suggesting that "older" is largely a point of view rather than an absolute). Before I began the survey I had some preconceived notions of how the results would appear. Some of these were proven correct, but overall the responses also contained many surprises, often both depressing and tragic in scope. The frustration of caregivers in these contexts was palpable. They'd teach an older user how to use a key service like Web-based mail to communicate with their loved ones, only to discover that a sudden UI change caused them to give up in frustration and not want to try again. When the caregiver isn't local the situation is even worse. While remote access software has proven a great boon in such situations, they're often too complex for the user to set up or fix by themselves when something goes wrong, remaining cut off until the caregiver is back in their physical presence.
United States

Prototype Wave Energy Device Passes Grid-Connected Pilot Test 36 36

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.
Supercomputing

Supercomputing Cluster Immersed In Oil Yields Extreme Efficiency 49 49

1sockchuck writes: A new supercomputing cluster immersed in tanks of dielectric fluid has posted extreme efficiency ratings. The Vienna Scientific Cluster 3 combines several efficiency techniques to create a system that is stingy in its use of power, cooling and water. VSC3 recorded a PUE (Power Usage Efficiency) of 1.02, putting it in the realm of data centers run by Google and Facebook. The system avoids the use of chiillers and air handlers, and doesn't require any water to cool the fluid in the cooling tanks. Limiting use of water is a growing priority for data center operators, as cooling towers can use large volumes of water resources. The VSC3 system packs 600 teraflops of computing power into 1,000 square feet of floor space.
Businesses

"We Screwed Up," Says Reddit CEO In Formal Apology 373 373

An anonymous reader writes: After moderators locked up some of Reddit's most popular pages in protest against the dismissal of Victoria Taylor, and an online petition asking the company to fire CEO Ellen Pao reached more than 175,000 signatures over the weekend, Pao has issued an apology. The statement reads in part: "We screwed up. Not just on July 2, but also over the past several years. We haven't communicated well, and we have surprised moderators and the community with big changes. We have apologized and made promises to you, the moderators and the community, over many years, but time and again, we haven't delivered on them. When you've had feedback or requests, we haven't always been responsive. The mods and the community have lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of reddit. Today, we acknowledge this long history of mistakes. We are grateful for all you do for reddit, and the buck stops with me."
Robotics

The DARPA Robotics Challenge Was a Bust; Let's Try Again 33 33

malachiorion writes: The DARPA Robotics Challenge, the biggest and most well-funded international robotics competition in years, was a failure. After years of grueling work on the part of brilliant roboticists around the world, and millions in funding from the Pentagon, the finals came and went with little to no coverage from the mainstream media. The only takeaway, for those who aren't extremely dialed into robotics, is that a ton of robots fell down in funny ways. There were winners, but considering how downgraded the tasks were, compared to the ones initially announced in 2012, it was closer to the first DARPA Grand Challenge, where none of the robot cars finished, than the Urban Challenge, which kicked off the race to build deployable driverless cars. So just as DARPA regrouped after that first fizzle of a race, here's my argument for Popular Science: It's time to do it again, and make falling, and getting up, mandatory.
Transportation

Google's Waze Jumps Into the Ride-Sharing Business 72 72

An anonymous reader writes: Waze, the online mapping company owned by Google, is testing a ride-sharing service in Israel called RideWith. The service will allow commuters to pay drivers for rides to and from work. This is a hard limit — drivers can give no more than two rides per day. If the restriction remains after the initial test, it could be a simple way to avoid pseudo-professional drivers, and all the taxi-related legal problems that go with them (see: Uber). "RideWith calculates a cost based on the anticipated fuel consumption and 'depreciation' based on mileage, and the driver is free to accept or decline the ride accordingly." One can't help but speculate about future involvement with Google's autonomous car project.
Windows

First Windows 10 RTM Candidate Appears 161 161

Mark Wilson reports that the first RTM candidate for Windows 10 has been spotted: build 10176. Leaks and sources have suggested the company intends to finalize the operating system later this week, perhaps as early as July 9th. This would give Microsoft almost three weeks to distribute it to retailers and devicemakers before the July 29th launch date. "While the RTM process has been a significant milestone for previous releases of Windows, it’s more of a minor one for Windows 10. Microsoft is moving Windows 10 to a 'Windows as a service' model that means the operating system is regularly updated."
United States

Proposed Regulation Could Keep 3D-printed Gun Blueprints Offline For Good 369 369

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."
Security

Hacking Team Hacked, Attackers Grab 400GB of Internal Data 90 90

Several readers sent word that notorious surveillance company Hacking Team has itself been hacked. Attackers made off with 400GB worth of emails, documents, and source code. The company is known for providing interception tools to government and law enforcement agencies. According to the leaked files, Hacking Team has customers in Egypt, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Lebanon, Mongolia, Russia, Germany, Sudan, and the United States — to name a few. It has been labeled an enemy of the internet by Reporters Without Borders. "Clients have had their passwords exposed as well, as several documents related to contracts and configurations have been circulating online." Nobody knows yet who perpetrated the hack.
Facebook

Brazilian Evangelicals Set Up a "Sin Free" Version of Facebook 253 253

An anonymous reader writes: With $16,000 and the help of the Mayor of Ferraz de Vasconcelos, the town he lives in, Atilla Barros and three other Evangelical Christians created Facegloria, a "sin-free" version of Facebook. Swearing is banned, along with about 600 other words, as well as any violent or erotic content, and depictions of homosexual activity. 100,000 users have signed up the first month. "In two years we hope to get to 10 million users in Brazil. In a month we have had 100,000 and in two we are expecting a big increase thanks to a mobile phone app," Barros says. Acir dos Santos, the mayor, adds: "Our network is global. We have bought the Faceglory domain in English and in all possible languages. We want to take on Facebook and Twitter here and everywhere."
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: If You Could Assemble a "FrankenOS" What Parts Would You Use? 422 422

rnws writes: While commenting about log-structured file systems in relation to flash SSDs, I referenced Digital's Spiralog [pdf], released for OpenVMS in 1996. This got me thinking about how VMS to this day has some of, if not the best storage clustering (still) in use today. Many operating systems have come and gone over the years, particularly from the minicomputer era, and each usually had something unique it did really well. If you could stitch together your ideal OS, then which "body parts" would you use from today and reanimate from the past? I'd probably start with VMS's storage system, MPE's print handling, OS/2's Workplace Shell, AS/400's hardware abstraction and GNU's Bash shell. What would you choose?
AI

Dartmouth Contests Showcase Computer-Generated Creativity 50 50

An anonymous reader writes: A series of contests at Dartmouth College will pit humans versus machines. Both will produce literature, poetry and music which will then be judged by humans who will try and determine which selections were computer made. "Historically, often when we have advances in artificial intelligence, people will always say, 'Well, a computer couldn't paint a sunset,' or 'a computer couldn't write a beautiful love sonnet,' but could they? That's the question," said Dan Rockmore, director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth.
Technology

Wired Looks Back At 'Mondo 2000' 43 43

destinyland writes: On a day when America looks back on those who came before, Wired is remembering a pioneering technology magazine named Mondo 2000 — and sharing video of its editors' legendary appearance on a mid-90s PBS series, "The Internet Cafe". When its host questioned them about cyberpunk, they turned the interview into an ironic media stunt by providing a live, sneering cyberpunk model named Malice (wearing a fake neural implant on his head), as the words "real cyberpunk" jokingly flashed on the bottom of the screen. "At a time when few people outside academia had access to the internet, Mondo 2000 was many a wannabe hacker's introduction to the online world," Wired remembers fondly, even acknowledging that they'd "borrowed" their own magazine's design motif from Mondo 2000, in those early years before ISPs started popularizing consumer internet access.
Technology

Seahorse Tails Could Inspire New Generation of Robots 15 15

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at Clemson University have studied the makeup of seahorse tails and rendered its mechanics using 3D-printing in an effort to provide flexibility to stiff robots. Unlike most creatures, seahorse's tail is made of square prisms. Michael Porter, assistant professor in mechanical engineering at Clemson University said, "Almost all animal tails have circular or oval cross-sections—but not the seahorse's. We wondered why. We found that the squared-shaped tails are better when both grasping and armor functions are needed."
The Military

Army Exoskeleton Prototype Helps Soldiers Learn To Shoot 85 85

An anonymous reader writes: Infantrymen live by their shooting skills, but becoming an expert marksman can take a long time. U.S. Army researchers are working on a way to improve these skills with the help of the MAXFAS, an arm exoskeleton that uses arm braces to correct involuntary arm shakes. Designed At the U.S. Army Research Laboratory by Dan Baechle, the MAXFAS has been shown to improve aim even after users have taken it off. "Soldiers need to be able to aim and shoot accurately and quickly in the chaos of the battlefield," Baechle said. "Training with MAXFAS could improve Soldiers' accuracy, and reduce current time and ammunition requirements in basic training."
ISS

Russian Progress Cargo Ship Docks With Space Station 47 47

An anonymous reader writes: An unmanned Russian cargo ship has successfully docked with the International Space Station. The successful launch, rendezvous and docking came after two resupply failures. A Progress launched in April spun out of control and a week ago, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket disintegrated, destroying a supply ship loaded with supplies and equipment. "Crew reports, 'feels like Christmas in July,'" the International Space Station tweeted.
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 176 176

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."