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Government

FAA Expects 600,000 Commercial Drones In The Air Within A Year (npr.org) 6

The drone industry is expected to expand dramatically in the coming months and years with the passing of a new rule (PDF) that makes it easier to become a commercial drone operator. The Federal Aviation Administration predicts there to be roughly 600,000 drones to be used commercially within the next year. NPR reports: "For context, the FAA says that 20,000 drones are currently registered for commercial use. What's expected to produce a 30-fold increase in a matter of months is a new rule that went into effect today and makes it easier to become a commercial drone operator. Broadly, the new rules change the process of becoming a commercial drone pilot: Instead of having to acquire a traditional pilot's license and getting a special case-by-case permission from the regulators, drone operators now need to pass a new certification test and abide by various flying restrictions (and, well, be older than 16). The rest of the drone safety rules still apply: No flights beyond line-of-sight, over people, at night, above 400 feet in the air or faster than 100 miles an hour. Drones also can't be heavier than 55 pounds, and all unmanned aircraft have to be registered. Businesses, however, may get special wavers to skip some of the restrictions if they can prove they can do so safely. The drone association expects the industry will create more than 100,000 jobs and generate more than $82 billion for the economy in the first 10 years of being integrated into the national airspace. The FAA is also working on new rules that eventually will allow drone flights over people and beyond line of sight."
AT&T

US Appeals Court Dismisses AT&T Data Throttling Lawsuit (reuters.com) 7

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A federal appeals court in California on Monday dismissed a U.S. government lawsuit that accused ATT Inc of deception for reducing internet speeds for customers with unlimited mobile data plans once their use exceeded certain levels. The company, however, could still face a fine from the Federal Communications Commission regarding the slowdowns, also called "data throttling." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said it ordered a lower court to dismiss the data-throttling lawsuit, which was filed in 2014 by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC sued ATT on the grounds that the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier failed to inform consumers it would slow the speeds of heavy data users on unlimited plans. In some cases, data speeds were slowed by nearly 90 percent, the lawsuit said. The FTC said the practice was deceptive and, as a result, barred under the Federal Trade Commission Act. ATT argued that there was an exception for common carriers, and the appeals court agreed.
Facebook

Facebook Is Telling the World It's Not a Media Company, But It Might Be Too Late (businessinsider.com) 25

Let's get some facts straight. The vast majority of people now get their news from social media. Facebook has become one of the largest platforms for media companies. Not only does it send people to publications, it also offers outlets Instant Articles platform, essentially acting as a publisher. But when CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked on Monday if Facebook is a media company, he took some time thinking about it, and said "no." From a Business Insider article: Zuckerberg went on to explain how Facebook is a technology company that gives media companies tools and a platform, not a media company itself. This isn't the first time we've heard him spout a similar rhetoric recently, because it has been a particularly thorny year for Facebook and the news business. Zuckerberg maintains that it isn't a media company because it doesn't create content. Sure, Facebook isn't making journalism (what many people think of when they hear "media company") but it is hosting, distributing, and monetizing content just like a media company. And even what Zuckerberg said -- "When you think about a media company, you know, people are producing content, people are editing content, and that's not us" -- has been more or less true this year depending on how you define producing and editing.
Transportation

65-Year-Old Woman Shoots Down Drone Over Her Virginia Property With One Shot (arstechnica.com) 224

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: Jennifer Youngman, a 65-year-old woman living in rural northern Virginia shot down a drone flying over her property with a single shotgun blast. Ars Technica reports: "Youngman told Ars that she had just returned from church one Sunday morning and was cleaning her two shotguns -- .410 and a .20 gauge -- on her porch. She had a clear view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and neighbor Robert Duvall's property (yes, the same Robert Duvall from The Godfather). Youngman had seen two men set up a card table on what she described as a 'turnaround place' on a country road adjacent to her house. 'I go on minding my business, working on my .410 shotgun and the next thing I know I hear bzzzzz,' she said. 'This thing is going down through the field, and they're buzzing like you would scaring the cows.' Youngman explained that she grew up hunting and fishing in Virginia, and she was well-practiced at skeet and deer shooting. 'This drone disappeared over the trees and I was cleaning away, there must have been a five- or six-minute lapse, and I heard the bzzzzz,' she said, noting that she specifically used 7.5 birdshot. 'I loaded my shotgun and took the safety off, and this thing came flying over my trees. I don't know if they lost command or if they didn't have good command, but the wind had picked up. It came over my airspace, 25 or 30 feet above my trees, and hovered for a second. I blasted it to smithereens.'" Ars goes on to explain that aerial trespassing isn't currently recognized under American law. "The Supreme Court ruled in a case known as United States v. Causby that a farmer in North Carolina could assert property rights up to 83 feet in the air. There is a case still pending on whether or not Kentucky drone pilot, David Boggs, was trespassing when he flew his drone over somebody else's property. "Broggs asked the court to rule that there was no trespassing and that he is therefor entitled to damages of $1,500 for the destroyed drone."
Communications

Verizon Switches On LTE Advanced In 461 Cities -- Is Your Phone Compatible? (betanews.com) 19

An anonymous reader writes: Today, the carrier announces that its LTE is getting much faster. In 461 cities across the USA, it switches on the speedier 'LTE Advanced' (LTE-A). Best of all, many existing devices are compatible.
The company said in a blog post:"Verizon LTE Advanced uses software that combines multiple channels to speed mobile data over the network more quickly than ever before. The result is 50 percent faster peak speeds in cities nationwide for Verizon customers using one of the 39 LTE Advanced-capable phones and tablets already on Verizon's network -- including top-selling Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7 smartphones, Moto Droids and Apple iPhones. As new devices from Apple, Samsung, LG and other manufacturers are introduced, they will be LTE Advanced-capable right out of the box."
Communications

T-Mobile is Making Its 'Unlimited' Data Plan Even More Confusing (theverge.com) 44

When T-Mobile announced "One" plan, little did the company know that people wouldn't like seeing their "unlimited" data plan offer video streaming max out at 480p resolution. The company is making some tweaks to that plan, only to make things more confusing to people. It will now begin selling "HD day passes" for $3 per day, allowing customers to stream in 1080p for 24 hours. The Verge reports: That's simple enough, but here's where it gets really weird: T-Mobile is also offering a plan called T-Mobile One Plus, which, among other benefits, offers unlimited HD day passes. So by subscribing to the plan, you can stream 1080p video all you want every single day -- but only if you go and activate the HD day pass again every single day. Presumably, T-Mobile is hoping you'll forget to activate those passes, or else it would have just lifted the 480p quality limit without this bizarre constraint. Making this even more confusing, T-Mobile originally announced plans to offer an "HD add-on" for the One plan that offered unlimited HD streaming without constraints. That's no longer going to be an option, however, so if you want HD video streaming, you're stuck re-enabling it every day. A T-Mobile rep framed the change as "giving customers more" for the same price, which is true (both cost $25 extra per month), but the new plan also involves the strange new reactivation hurdle.
Education

Now Arriving On the New York Subway: Free E-Books, Timed For Your Commute (betanews.com) 36

Brian Fagioli, writing for BetaNews:Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of New York has announced a new promotion called "Subway Reads," which leverages the free Wi-Fi connectivity provided at the NYC subway. This initiative will help straphangers get some relief from the other nonsense by enabling them to bury themselves in a free Penguin Random House e-book short or excerpt. "As part of 'Subway Reads', Penguin Random House created a special platform to offer subway customers free access to five full-length e-shorts, including High Heat, a Jack Reacher novella by Lee Child; F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic short story, The Diamond As Big As The Ritz; 3 Truths and A Lie, a short story by Lisa Gardner; The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe; and At the Reunion Buffet by Alexander McCall Smith," says the New York State Government.Sounds like a good thing. What's your thought?
Government

FBI Says Foreign Hackers Breached State Election Systems (theguardian.com) 125

The FBI has uncovered evidence that foreign hackers breached two state election databases in recent weeks, and it has warned election officials across the country to some measures to step up the security of their computer systems. The Guardian reports: The FBI warning did not identify the two states targeted by cyber intruders, but Yahoo News said sources familiar with the document said it referred to Arizona and Illinois, whose voter registration systems were penetrated. Citing a state election board official, Yahoo News said the Illinois voter registration system was shut down for 10 days in late July after hackers downloaded personal data on up to 200,000 voters. The Arizona attack was more limited and involved introducing malicious software into the voter registration system, Yahoo News quoted a state official as saying. No data was removed in that attack, the official said. US intelligence officials have become increasingly worried that hackers sponsored by Russia or other countries may attempt to disrupt the November presidential election.
NASA

Isolated NASA Team Ends Year-Long Mars Simulation In Hawaii (bbc.com) 169

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the BBC: A team of six people have completed a Mars simulation in Hawaii, where they lived in near isolation for a year. Since August 29th, 2015, the group lived in close quarters in a dome, without fresh air, fresh food or privacy... Having survived their year in isolation, the crew members said they were confident a mission to Mars could succeed. "I can give you my personal impression which is that a mission to Mars in the close future is realistic," Cyprien Verseux, a crew member from France, told journalists. "I think the technological and psychological obstacles can be overcome."

The team consisted of a French astro-biologist, a German physicist and four Americans -- a pilot, an architect, a journalist and a soil scientist... the six had to live with limited resources, wear a space-suit when outside the dome, and work to avoid personal conflicts. They each had a small sleeping cot and a desk inside their rooms. Provisions included powdered cheese and canned tuna.

Music

What Jonathan Coulton Learned From The Technology Industry (geekwire.com) 86

In a new article on GeekWire, Jonathan Coulton explains why he left a comfortable software development job in 2005 to launch a career as an online singer-songwriter. But he also describes the things he learned from the tech industry. "These guys were doing this thing they wanted to do, this thing they felt competent doing. They didn't chase after things, and they worked hard, but it was a business they created because they enjoyed it. They tried to minimize the things they didn't want to do. It wasn't about getting rich; it was about getting satisfied...

"I wanted to a set a good example to my children. I wanted to be the person I wanted to be, someone willing to take chances -- a person who didn't live with enormous regrets..." Within the first year, he had not replaced his software salary, but had enough success to cover his babysitter and to keep food on the table.

When he was younger -- in the pre-internet days -- "It was very unclear how to become a musician," Coulton explains. But somehow rolling his own career path eventually led to a life which includes everything from guest appearances on radio shows to an annual cruise with his fans (this year featuring Aimee Mann, Wil Wheaton, and Redshirts author John Scalzi).
Businesses

How G.E. Is Transforming Into An IoT Start-Up (nytimes.com) 108

Slashdot reader mspohr shares an article about "General Electric 're-inventing' itself as a software start-up." Jeffrey R. Immelt, the CEO of America's largest manufacturer, describes how he realized that data collected from their machines -- like turbines, engines, and medical-imaging equipment -- could be as valuable as the machines themselves. Now G.E. is hiring software engineers and data scientists from Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to try to transform the company into a "124-year-old startup" to take advantage of the Internet of Things and offer futuristic new services like predictive maintenance.

The Times calls it "the next battlefield as companies fight to develop the dominant software layer that connects the machines," adding that by 2020 there will be 100 times as much data flowing from G.E.'s machines. Now G.E. Digital is using the open source PaaS, Cloud Foundry, to develop Predix, a cloud-based operating system for industrial applications like monitoring and adjusting equipment in the field, whether it's an oil-field rig or a wind-farm turbine. To help transform the company into a digital powerhouse, they're building a 1,400-employee complex in San Ramon, California "designed to suit the free-range working ways of software developers: open-plan floors, bench seating, whiteboards, couches for impromptu meetings, balconies overlooking the grounds and kitchen areas with snacks." And they've also launched the Industrial Dojo program "to accelerate the ability for developers to contribute code that enables the Industrial Internet".
Television

Welcome To 1986: Inside 'Halt And Catch Fire's' High-Tech Time Machine (fastcompany.com) 74

The third season of AMC's technology drama "Halt and Catch Fire" painstakingly recreated Silicon Valley and San Francisco in 1986. Long-time Slashdot reader harrymcc shares his first-person report: The new episodes...are rich with carefully-researched plot points, dialogue, and sets full of vintage technology (including a startup equipped with real Commodore 64s and a recreated IBM mainframe). I visited the soundstage in Atlanta where the producers have recreated Northern California in the 1980s, and spoke with the show's creators and stars about the loving attention they devote to getting things right.
Harry argues that the show "is in part about how we got from the past to the present," and writes that he saw several 5 1/4-inch floppy disks "including Memorex, 3M, and BASF FlexyDisk," plus "a manual for Frogger for the Atari 2600, a copy of a spreadsheet program known as MicroPro CalcStar...and countless other little pieces of history."
Databases

100 Arrested In New York Thanks To Better Face-Recognition Technology (arstechnica.com) 85

New York doubled the number of "measurement points" used by their facial recognitation technology this year, leading to 100 arrests for fraud and identity theft, plus another 900 open cases. An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In all, since New York implemented facial recognition technology in 2010, more than 14,000 people have been hampered trying to get multiple licenses. The newly upgraded system increases the measurement points of a driver's license picture from 64 to 128.

The DMV said this vastly improves its chances of matching new photographs with one already in a database of 16 million photos... "Facial recognition plays a critical role in keeping our communities safer by cracking down on individuals who break the law," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement. "New York is leading the nation with this technology, and the results from our use of this enhanced technology are proof positive that its use is vital in making our roads safer and holding fraudsters accountable."

At least 39 US states use some form of facial recognition software, and New York says their new system also "removes high-risk drivers from the road," stressing that new licenses will no longer be issued until a photo clears their database.
Bitcoin

Kim Dotcom Will Revive Megaupload, Linking File Transfers To Bitcoin Microtransactions (fortune.com) 70

Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike quotes an article from Fortune: The controversial entrepreneur Kim Dotcom said last month that he was preparing to relaunch Megaupload, the file-sharing site that U.S. and New Zealand authorities dramatically shut down in 2012, with bitcoins being involved in some way... This system will be called Bitcache, and Dotcom claimed its launch would send the bitcoin price soaring way above its current $575 value.

The launch of Megaupload 2.0 will take place on January 20, 2017, he said, urging people to "buy bitcoin while cheap, like right now, trust me..." Crucially, Dotcom said the Bitcache system would overcome bitcoin's scaling problems. "It eliminates all blockchain limitations," he claimed.

Every file transfer taking place over Megaupload "will be linked to a tiny Bitcoin micro transaction," Dotcom posted on Twitter. His extradition trial begins Monday, and he's asking the court to allow live-streaming of the trial "because of global interest in my case." Meanwhile, the FBI apparently let the registration lapse on the Megaupload domain, which they seized in 2012, and Ars Technica reports that the site is now full of porn ads.
EU

EU Copyright Reform Proposes Search Engines Pay For Snippets (thestack.com) 171

An anonymous Slashdot reader reports that the European Commission "is planning reforms that would allow media outlets to request payment from search engines such as Google, for publishing snippets of their content in search results." The Stack reports: The working paper recommends the introduction of an EU law that covers the rights to digital reproduction of news publications. This would essentially make news publishers a new category of rights holders under copyright law, thereby ensuring that "the creative and economic contribution of news publishers is recognized and incentivized in EU law, as it is today the case for other creative sectors."

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