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.
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.
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."
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."
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)?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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."
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."
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.”
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."