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Networking

Virgin Media To Base a Public Wi-Fi Net On Paying Customers' Routers 112

An anonymous reader writes with a story that Virgin Media "announced this month its plans to roll out a free public WiFi network this autumn, using subscribers' personal routers and existing infrastructure to distribute the service across UK cities." And while regular customers' routers are to be the basis of the new network, the publicly viewable overlay would operate over "a completely separate connection," and the company claims subscribers' performance will not be hindered. Why, then, would customers bother to pay? For one thing, because the free version is slow: 0.5Mbps, vs. 10Mbps for Virgin's customers.
United Kingdom

Met Office Loses BBC Weather Forecasting Contract 119

An anonymous reader writes: UK weather forecasts could be run on computers in New Zealand, as the BBC announced that the UK Met Office lost a forecasting contract it held for almost 100 years. The Guardian reports: "The Met Office has lost the contract it has held for close to a century to provide weather forecasts to the BBC, bringing to an end one of the longest relationships in British media. The broadcaster said it was legally required to open up the contract to outside competition in order to secure the best value for licence fee payers. The meteorological service said it was disappointed by the BBC’s decision to put out to tender the contract, which has been in place since the corporation’s first radio weather bulletin on 14 November 1922. Steve Noyes, operations and customer services director at the Met Office, said: 'Nobody knows Britain’s weather better and, during our long relationship with the BBC, we’ve revolutionised weather communication to make it an integral part of British daily life.'"
NASA

Calls For Funding NASA Commercial Crew Grow 71

MarkWhittington writes: As summer starts to give way to fall and the end of the current fiscal year draws nigh, demands that NASA's commercial crew program be fully funded are being heard with greater frequency and urgency. Astronaut Scott Kelly took time off from his year-long sojourn on the International Space Station to entreat Congress to pony up. IO9 was a little more caustic, stating "Dammit, Congress: Just Buy NASA its Own Space Taxi, Already." Monday, Slate became the latest media outlet to take up the cause

The situation is depressingly familiar to those who have followed the fortunes of the space program since the Apollo moon landings. When President Obama started the commercial crew program in 2010, NASA estimated that it would take a certain amount of money to get government funded and commercially operated spacecraft running by 2015. Then the space agency would no longer be dependent on Russia for rides to the International Space Station.

Congress has decided to allocate less money than NASA feels it needed for commercial crew. This situation is not unusual, as Congress often does this to space projects. However, the politics surrounding the creation of the commercial crew program, which featured the abrupt cancellation of the Constellation space exploration program, has exacerbated the conflict between NASA's will and Congress' won't. President Obama did not consult Congress when he cancelled President Bush's return to the moon program. Congress has displeased ever since.
Media

A Farewell To Flash 200

An anonymous reader writes: The decline of Flash is well and truly underway. Media publishers now have no choice but to start changing the way they bring content to the web. Many of them are not thrilled about the proposition (change is scary), but it will almost certainly be better for all of us in the long run. "By switching their platform to HTML5, companies can improve supportability, development time will decrease and the duplicative efforts of supporting two code bases will be eliminated. It will also result in lower operating costs and a consistent user experience between desktop and mobile web." This is on top of the speed, efficiency, and security benefits for consumers. "A major concern for publishers today is the amount of media consumption that's occurring in mobile environments. They need to prioritize providing the best possible experience on mobile, and the decline of Flash and movement to HTML5 will do just that, as Flash has never worked well on mobile."
Software

Ask Slashdot: Maintaining Continuity In Your Creative Works? 95

imac.usr writes: I recently rewatched the Stonecutters episode of The Simpsons and laughed as always at the scene where Homer pulls into his parking space — right next to his house. It's such a great little comic moment. This time, though, it occurred to me that someone probably wrote in to complain that the power plant was normally in a completely different part of town, no doubt adding "I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder." And that got me to wondering: how do creators of serial media — books, web comics, TV shows, even movie serials — record their various continuities? Is there a story bible with the information, or a database of people/places/things, or even something scribbled on a 3x5 card. I know Slashdot is full of artists who must deal with this issue on a regular basis, so I'd be interested in hearing any perspectives on how (or even if) you manage it.
Technology

MIT 3D Prints With Glass 43

An anonymous reader writes: MIT's Mediated Matter Group has published a paper and a video about their new technique for 3D printing with glass. The top part of their printer is a kiln that heats the glass to temperatures of approximately 1900 degrees Fahrenheit, causing it to melt. The molten glass is then passed through an alumina-zircon-silica nozzle, which moves just like an extruder on normal 3D printers. "The frame of the printer is constructed out of 80/20 aluminum stock and square steel tube. They used three independent stepper motors and a lead screw gantry system and drivers which were controlled via an Arduino and a RAMPS 1.4 Arduino shield." The device's makers say, "The tunability enabled by geometrical and optical variation driven by form, transparency and color variation can drive; limit or control light transmission, reflection and refraction, and therefore carries significant implications for all things glass."
Businesses

Do Old Programmers Need To Keep Leaping Through New Hoops? 242

Nerval's Lobster writes: In recent years, it seems as if tech has evolved into an industry that lionizes the young. Despite all the press about 21-year-old rock-star developers and 30-year-old CEOs, though, is there still a significant market for older programmers and developers, especially those with specialized knowledge? The answer is "yes," of course, and sites like Dice suggest that older tech pros should take steps such as setting up social media accounts and spending a lot of time on Github if they want to attract interest from companies and recruiters. But do they really need to go through all of that? If you have twenty, thirty, or even forty years of solid tech work under your belt, is it worth jumping through all sorts of new hoops? Or is there a better way to keep working — provided you don't already have a job, that is, or move up to management, or get out of the game entirely in order to try something startling and new.
The Internet

Former Russian Troll Wins Lawsuit Against Propaganda "Factory" 49

An anonymous reader writes: Lyudmila Savchuk, a former Russian internet "troll" has been awarded one rouble ($0.01) in damages after she sued her ex-employer claiming it was a propaganda "factory". A Russian court ordered the secretive agency to pay her symbolic damages. Savchuk claims that she and her co-workers at Internet Research were paid to flood websites with pro-Putin commentary. The BBC reports: "Ms Savchuk said she was happy with the result because she had succeeded in exposing the work of Russia's internet 'trolls'. Russian media quoted a spokesman for Internet Research denying the accusations. The Kremlin says it has no links to Internet Research's operations. Since leaving the agency, Ms Savchuk has been organizing a public movement against online trolling."
Piracy

Two Arrests In Denmark For Spreading Information About Popcorn Time 244

An anonymous reader writes: You may recall Popcorn Time, the software that integrated torrents with a streaming media player. It fell afoul of the law quite quickly, but survived and stabilized. Now, out of Denmark comes news that two men operating websites related to Popcorn Time have been arrested, and their sites have been shut down. It's notable because the sites were informational resources, explaining how to use the software. They did not link to any copyright-infringing material, they were not involved with development of Popcorn Time or any of its forks, and they didn't host the software. "Both men stand accused of distributing knowledge and guides on how to obtain illegal content online and are reported to have confessed."
The Internet

Another Wave of Publications Shut Down Online Comments 226

AmiMoJo writes: The debate about comment sections on news sites is often as divisive as the comments themselves. Recently outlets such as The Verge and The Daily Dot have closed their comments sections because they've become too hard to manage. And they're far from alone. Moderating comments is a full-time job (or several full-time jobs) at many news organisations. Nicholas White, editor at The Daily Dot, noted that "in our experience, our community hasn't evolved in our comments. It's evolved in our social media accounts. To have comments, you have to be very active, and if you're not incredibly active, what ends up happening is a mob can shout down all the other people on your site. In an environment that isn't heavily curated it becomes about silencing voices and not about opening up voices."

Riese, co-founder and editor-in-chief of LGBT site Autostraddle, adds, "I completely understand why The Daily Dot wouldn't want to have comments — or in fact why most websites wouldn't want to have comments. I think 75% of the time they're more trouble than they're worth, and for us it's still a lot of work to keep up on. Not all of our users are necessarily on Facebook or are out as gay on Facebook, or are comfortable talking about queer stuff on Facebook. We keep comments on the site which is a safe space for people to exchange ideas — and that's a big factor for us."
Earth

New Tool Allows Scientists To Annotate Media Coverage of Climate Change 185

Layzej writes: Have you ever been skeptical of a climate change story presented by a major media outlet? A new tool holds journalists to account for the veracity of their stories. "Using the Climate Feedback tool, scientists have started to diligently add detailed annotations to online content and have those notes appear alongside the story as it originally appeared. If you're the writer, then it's a bit like getting your homework handed back to you with the margins littered with corrections and red pen. Or smiley faces and gold stars if you've been good." The project has already prompted The Telegraph to publish major corrections to their story that suggested the Earth is headed for a "'mini ice age' within 15 years." The article has been modified in such a way that there is no more statement supporting the original message of an "imminent mini ice age."
Graphics

Intel Skylake Gen9 Series Graphics Architecture Unveiled 29

MojoKid writes: Intel's Skylake is here and the new architecture comprises Intel's 6th generation Core line of CPUs. In recent testing it was confirmed that Intel's Skylake-based Core i7-6700K is the company's fastest quad-core desktop processor to date. However, one thing Intel kept a tight lid on was the underlying technology of the Gen9 Intel HD Graphics engine on board Skylake, that is until now. An overview of the changes Intel made specific to Intel Gen9 graphics, notes the following among other tweaks: Available L3 cache capacity has been increased to 768 Kbytes per slice (512 Kbytes for application data). Sizes of both L3 and LLC request queues have been increased. This improves latency hiding to achieve better effective bandwidth against the architecture peak theoretical. Gen9 EDRAM now acts as a memory-side cache between LLC and DRAM. Also, the EDRAM memory controller has moved into the system agent, adjacent to the display controller, to support power efficient and low latency display refresh. Gen9 has also been designed to enable products with 1, 2, or 3 slices, each with 24 EUs per slice and 8 EUs per subslice. Finally, Gen9 adds new power gating and clock domains for more efficient dynamic power management. This can particularly improve low power media playback modes.
Graphics

The Agonizingly Slow Decline of Adobe's Flash Player 220

harrymcc writes: Security and performance issues with Adobe's Flash Player have led to countless calls for its abandonment. But a significant percentage of major sites still use it--and many of those companies aren't eager to explain why. Over at Fast Company, Jared Newman investigates why Flash won't disappear from the web anytime soon. From the article: Despite the pressure from tech circles, the sites I spoke with said they simply weren’t able to start moving away from Flash until recently, when better technology become available. And even now, it’s going to take time for them to finish building the necessary tools. "Originally, Flash was necessary to solve a couple problems," says Adam Denenberg, chief technical officer for streaming music service iHeartRadio. "Streaming was difficult, especially for live stations, and there were no real http-supported streaming protocols that offered the flexibility of what was required a few years back."
Businesses

How 'Rock Star' Became a Business Buzzword 80

HughPickens.com writes: Carina Chocano writes in the NYT that once, a long time ago, a rock star was a free-spirited, convention-flouting artist/rebel/hero/Dionysian fertility god who fronted a world-famous band, sold millions of records and headlined stadium concerts where people were trampled in frenzies of cultlike fervor. Now 'rock star'' has made a complete about-face and in its new incarnation, it is more likely to refer to a programmer, salesperson, social-media strategist, business-to-business telemarketer, recruiter, management consultant or celebrity pastry chef than to a person in a band. The term has become shorthand for a virtuosity so exalted it borders on genius — only for some repetitive, detail-oriented task. According to Chocano, posting a listing for a job for which only ''rock stars'' need apply casts an H.R. manager as a kind of corporate Svengali; "That nobody is looking for a front-end developer who is addicted to heroin or who bites the heads off doves in conference rooms goes without saying. Pretty much anyone can be a ''rock star'' these days — except actual rock stars, who are encouraged to think of themselves as brands."
Mars

Donald Trump Thinks Going To Mars Would Be "Wonderful" But There Is a Catch 442

MarkWhittington writes: Donald Trump, the mercurial real estate tycoon and media personality who, much to the surprise of one and all, has become the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president opened his mind just a little about his attitude toward space exploration, according to a story in Forbes. In an answer to a question put to him about sending humans to Mars, the current focus at NASA, Trump said, "Honestly, I think it's wonderful; I want to rebuild our infrastructure first, ok? I think it's wonderful." In other words, dreams of going to Mars must take a back seat to more Earthly concerns. It is not an answer many space exploration supporters want to hear.
Democrats

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Is Now Chairing Lessig's Presidential Bid 119

Funksaw sends a followup to Tuesday's news that Lawrence Lessig is pondering a presidential campaign: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is now chairing the committee for Lessig's campaign. Wales said, "Larry's run for President is different. He's crowdfunding his campaign instead of seeking out rich donors. He's showing people that we can change the rigged political system. ... The Internet community came together to fight back against SOPA and we were successful. Now we’re behind Lessig to fight for citizen equality." Lessig's goal is to raise a million dollars by September 7, and they're already at roughly $300,000. Relatedly, Newsweek had a brief interview with Lessig over his potential campaign, and Eric Posner wrote an insightful piece about it at Slate.
Twitter

Lawsuit Over Two-Word Tweet Moves Forward 220

An anonymous reader writes: A defamation suit filed by a former Minnesota high school student has gotten approval from a federal judge to proceed. The suit was filed in response to a suspension issued by the school after Reid Sagehorn published a two-word comment on Twitter. In 2014, there existed a Twitter ostensibly about confessions from students at Sagehorn's high school. That account asked if Sagehorn had made out with a particular female teacher, and Sagehorn jokingly replied, "Actually yes." Not long after, he was suspended for five days, and that suspension was later extended to the rest of the month. The school administration convinced his parents to withdraw him from the school and send him to a different one. The town's police chief even spoke about it to the media, saying the comment was likely a felony. Sagehorn filed the lawsuit seeking damages and an expungement of the disciplinary actions.
Television

HBO, Netflix, and Amazon Targeting Kids 46

An anonymous reader writes: The latest high-profile show to join one of the major streaming services probably isn't one you watch: Sesame Street. However, it's a clear signal for a growing trend: these services desperately want to corner the market on kid's shows. Netflix has gotten tons of praise for its original series, and it's been quietly putting that production power behind new shows aimed at children. They've also made deals with Disney and Dreamworks to get movies onto the service as quickly as possible. Amazon has been debuting series after series as well, with six pilots for new children's shows landing last month alone. "The battle for kids, at bottom, is about keeping their parents around even when a favorite show about a murderous politician is on hiatus. Streaming services are far easier to cancel and resubscribe than cable-TV ... so the goal is to make that decision harder." Now that HBO is starting to commit to streaming, it's faced with the same problems. By deriving their funding through subscriptions, these companies can avoid the flak YouTube and Hulu are getting for targeting kids with advertisements.
The Courts

Time Runs Out On Sweden's Sexual Assault Charges Against Julian Assange 226

As the Guardian and many other sources report, the clock has run out on the three 2010 charges of sexual assault on which Swedish authorities had hoped try Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has been waiting out those charges since 2012 in London, inside the Ecuadorian embassy, claiming that he feared extradition to the U.S. in connection to this Wikileaks work if he were first extradicted to Sweden. He was recently rebuffed after suggesting that he'd be interested in living in France as a political refugee. The linked Guardian story notes that the expiry of the Swedish prosecutors' time doesn't mean that Assange is no longer under scrutiny, as does CNN.
The Internet

Russian Government Threatening To Block Reddit Over Cannabis 141

An anonymous reader writes: The Russian Government is threatening to block the social linking site Reddit across its country if they do not comply with removing a thread dedicated to growing cannabis. According to a post on VK.com, Roskomnadzor the Russian FCC, has asked Reddit administrator to read their emails and their social media posts stating that they want /r/trees brought down which had posted an article about growing narcotic plants. Recently, Reddit changed its rules to allow illegal discussions on its site but they say that they would continue to block things such as copyrighted material.