Space

Poor Pilot Training Blamed For Virgin Galactic Crash

astroengine writes: SpaceShipTwo co-pilot Michael Alsbury was not properly trained to realize the consequences of unlocking the vehicle's hinged tail section too soon, a mistake that led to his death and the destruction of the ship during a test flight in California last year. Responsibility for the accident falls to SpaceShipTwo manufacturer Scaled Composites, a Mojave, Calif., company owned by Northrop Grumman Corp, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined at a webcast hearing on Tuesday (PDF). Poor oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees commercial spaceflights in the United States, was also a factor in the accident, the NTSB said.
Programming

.NET 4.6 Optimizer Bug Causes Methods To Get Wrong Parameters 109 109

tobiasly writes: A serious bug in the just-released .NET 4.6 runtime causes the JIT compiler to generate incorrectly-optimized code which results in methods getting called with different parameters than what were passed in. Nick Craver of Stack Exchange has an excellent write-up of the technical details and temporary workarounds; Microsoft has acknowledged the problem and submitted an as-yet unreleased patch.

This problem is compounded by Microsoft's policy of replacing the existing .NET runtime, as opposed to the side-by-side runtimes which were possible until .NET 2.0. This means that even if your project targets .NET 4.5, it will get the 4.6 runtime if it was installed on that machine. Since it's not possible to install the just-released Visual Studio 2015 without .NET 4.6, this means developers must make the difficult choice between using the latest tools or risking crippling bugs such as this one.
Software

Why Your Software Project Is Failing 89 89

An anonymous reader writes: At OSCON this year, Red Hat's Tom Callaway gave a talk entitled "This is Why You Fail: The Avoidable Mistakes Open Source Projects STILL Make." In 2009, Callaway was starting to work on the Chromium project—and to say it wasn't a pleasant experience was the biggest understatement Callaway made in his talk. Callaway said he likes challenges, but he felt buried by the project, and reached a point where he thought he should just quit his work. (Callaway said it's important to note that Chromium's code is not bad code; it's just a lot of code and a lot of code that Google didn't write.) This was making Callaway really frustrated, and people wanted to know what was upsetting him. Callaway wanted to be able to better explain his frustration, so he crafted this list which he called his "Points of Fail."
Android

OnePlus Announces OnePlus 2 'Flagship Killer' Android Phone With OxygenOS 113 113

MojoKid writes: The OnePlus 2 was officially unveiled [Monday] evening and it has been announced that the smartphone will start at an competitively low $329, unlocked and contract free. The entry level price nets you a 5.5" 1080p display, a cooler-running 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 SoC paired with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 13MP rear camera (with OIS, laser focusing and two-tone flash), 5MP selfie camera, and dual nano SIM slots. If you don't mind handing over an extra $60, you'll receive 4GB of RAM to back the processor and 64GB of internal storage. Besides beefing up the internal specs, OnePlus has also paid some attention to the exterior of the device, giving it a nice aluminum frame and a textured backplate. There are a number of optional materials that you can choose from including wood and Kevlar. Reader dkatana links to InformationWeek's coverage, which puts a bit more emphasis on what the phone doesn't come with: NFC. Apparently, people just don't use it as much as anticipated.
Technology

Currently Quantum Computers Might Be Where Rockets Were At the Time of Goddard 95 95

schwit1 writes: If quantum computing is at the Goddard level that would be a good thing for quantum computing. This means that the major fundamental breakthrough that would put them over the top was in hand and merely a lot of investment, engineering and scaling was needed. The goal of being able to solve NP-hard or NP-Complete problems with quantum computers is similar to being able to travel to the moon, mars or deeper into space with rockets. Conventional flight could not achieve those goals because of the lack of atmosphere in space. Current computing seems like they are very limited in being able to tackle NP-hard and NP Complete problems. Although clever work in advanced mathematics and approximations can give answers that are close on a case by case basis.
NASA

Voyager's Golden Record For Aliens Now Available On SoundCloud 51 51

An anonymous reader writes: For years you've been able to listen to the sounds recorded on the golden records carried by the twin Voyager spacecraft online but NASA just made it a bit easier. The orginization just uploaded the recordings to SoundCloud. Now you can listen to a continuous stream of clips instead of clicking back and forth to hear the different tracks.
NASA

German Scientists Confirm NASA's Controversial EM Drive 430 430

MarkWhittington writes: Hacked Magazine reported that a group of German scientists believe that they have confirmed that the EM Drive, the propulsion device that uses microwaves rather than rocket fuel, provides thrust. The experimental results are being presented at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics' Propulsion and Energy Forum in Orlando by Martin Tajmar, a professor and chair for Space Systems at the Dresden University of Technology. Tajmar has an interest in exotic propulsion methods, including one concept using "negative matter."
Education

Computer Science Enrollments Match NASDAQ's Rises and Fall 67 67

dcblogs writes: In March 2000, the NASDAQ composite index reached a historic high of 5,048, at just about the same time undergrad computer science enrollments hit a peak of nearly 24,000 students at PhD-granting institutions in the U.S. and Canada, according to data collected by the Computing Research Association in its most recent annual Taulbee Survey. By 2005, computer science enrollments had halved, declining to just over 12,000. On July 17, the NASDAQ hit its highest point since 2000, reaching a composite index of 5,210. In 2014, computer science undergrad enrollments reached nearly, 24,000, almost equal to the 2000 high. Remarkably, it has taken nearly 15 years to reach the earlier enrollment peak.
Google

Google Is Dropping Its Google+ Requirement Across All Products Including YouTube 164 164

An anonymous reader writes: After years of plugging Google+ into all of its services, today Google announced that your Google+ profile will no longer be your identity in all its products. The company says it will take a few months for all the changes to happen, but the first product to be uncoupled will be YouTube. Bradley Horowitz, Google's vice president of streams, photos, and sharing, says the changes are a response to user feedback: "We've also heard that it doesn't make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use."
Debian

Debian Drops SPARC Platform Support 145 145

jones_supa writes: SPARC isn't exactly a highly-used architecture anymore, so the Debian operating system is dropping support for the platform, according to Joerg Jaspert last week in the "debian-sparc" mailing list. He noted that this does not block a later comeback as "sparc64." Following that announcement, a new post today tells us that SPARC support was just removed from the unstable, experimental and jessie-updates channels.
AI

Musk, Woz, Hawking, and Robotics/AI Experts Urge Ban On Autonomous Weapons 278 278

An anonymous reader writes: An open letter published by the Future of Life Institute urges governments to ban offensive autonomous weaponry. The letter is signed by high profile leaders in the science community and tech industry, such as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Noam Chomsky, and Frank Wilczek. It's also signed — more importantly — by literally hundreds of expert researchers in robotics and AI. They say, "The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow. Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce."
Businesses

LinkedIn (Temporarily) Backs Down After Uproar At Contact Export Removal 41 41

Mark Wilson writes: LinkedIn caused a storm a couple of days ago when it removed the option to instantly download contacts. Many users of the professional social network were more than a little irked to discover that while contact exporting was still available, a wait of up to three days had been put in place. Unsurprisingly, users revolted, having been particularly upset by the fact the change was implemented with no warning or announcement. But the company has managed to turn things around by quickly backtracking on its decision after listening to a stream of complaints on Twitter.
Security

A Plea For Websites To Stop Blocking Password Managers 353 353

An anonymous reader writes: Password managers aren't a security panacea, but experts widely agree that it's better to use one than to have weak (but easy-to-remember) passwords. Just this week, they were listed as a tool non-experts don't use as much as experts do. I use one, and a pet peeve of mine is when a website specifically (or through bad design) interferes with the copying and pasting of a password. Thus, I appreciated this rant about it in Wired: "It's unacceptable that in an age where our lives are increasingly being played out online, and are sometimes only protected by a password, some sites deliberately stop their users from being as secure as possible, for no really justifiable reason."
Transportation

Fiat Chrysler Hit With Record $105 Million Fine Over Botched Recalls 82 82

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has levied a record fine against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to punish them for failing to adequately recall and fix defective cars. (If Fiat sounds familiar, it's the same company that issued a 1.4 million-vehicle recall on Friday over a remote hack.) The NHTSA's $105 million fine is half-again as much as the next biggest fine (given to Honda last year over faulty airbags). Fiat Chrysler "admitted to violating federal rules requiring timely recalls and notifications to vehicle owners, dealers and regulators." The company will be forced to buy back hundreds of thousands of vehicles (at the owners' discretion, of course) that have problems with the suspension that could lead to a loss of control. A million more Jeep owners will be given a chance to trade in their vehicle at a higher rate than market value because of rear-mounted gas tanks that are prone to catching fire.
Advertising

Google Studies How Bad Interstitials Are On Mobile 246 246

An anonymous reader writes: A Google study of their own Google+ site and app found that 69% of visitors abandoned the page when presented with the app interstitial. Google said it was getting rid of them and asked others to do the same. TechCrunch reports: "It's worth noting that Google's study was small scale, since the company was only looking at how an interstitial promoting the Google+ social service native app performed (and we don't know how many people it surveyed). It may very well be the case that visitors really didn't want the Google+ app specifically — and that Google+ itself is skewing the data. (Sadly Google is not offering comparative stats with, say, the Gmail app interstitial, so we can but speculate.)"
Google

Gmail Messages Can Now Self-Destruct 195 195

New submitter Amarjeet Singh writes: Dmail is a Chrome extension developed by the people behind Delicious, the social bookmarking app/extension. This extension allows you to set a self-destruct timer on your emails. You can use Dmail to send emails from Gmail as usual, but you will now have a button which can set an self destruct timer of an hour, a day or a week. Dmail claims it will also unlock a feature that won't allow forwarding, meaning only the person you sent your message to will be able to see it.
Printer

Tortoise Gets a new 3D Printed Shell After Forest Fire 54 54

ErnieKey writes: Fred, a Red-Footed Tortoise in Santos, São Paulo, Brazil, was unfortunately caught up in a recent forest fire that deteriorated the majority of his shell. He needed a new shell in order to survive, so veterinarians in Santos teamed up with a dentist and a graphical designer to create a new 3D printed shell for Fred that was ultimately surgically placed on the tortoise. From the 3dPrint story: "Fred unfortunately came down with a terrible case of pneumonia post-surgery, which prevented him from eating for about a month and a half, but in the end survived and is now doing very well with his new 3D printed shell. The shell, which was printed with the same PLA material that is found on most desktop 3D printers, has been holding up very well, although researchers are not exactly sure how long it will hold up for or if Fred will be able to be released into the wild."
Windows

Windows 10's Automatic Updates For NVidia Drivers Causing Trouble 311 311

Mark Wilson writes: One of the features that has been removed from Windows 10 — at least for home users — is the ability to pick and choose when updates are installed. Microsoft has taken Windows Update out of the hands of users so the process is, for the most part, completely automated. In theory, this sounds great — no more worrying about having the latest patches installed, no more concerns that a machine that hasn't been updated will cause problems for others — but an issue with NVidia drivers shows that there is potential for things to go wrong. Irate owners of NVidia graphics cards have taken to support forums to complain that automatically-installed drivers installed have broken their computers.
Businesses

How Amazon Could Drive Blended Reality Into The Living Room 16 16

An anonymous reader writes: Here's an interesting story on TechCrunch joining the dots on Amazon's interest in computer vision and its connected speaker-plus-virtual assistant in-home device, the Amazon Echo. The author speculates that if Amazon adds a camera to the Echo the device could be used for augmented reality-powered virtual try-ons of products such as clothes, streaming the results to the user's phone or TV. From the article: "The product development process for Microsoft's Kinect sensor took around four to five years from conception to shipping a consumer product. The computer vision field has clearly gained from a lot of research since then, and Woodford reckons Amazon could ship an Echo sensor in an even shorter timeframe — say, in the next two years — provided the business was entirely behind the idea and doing everything it could to get such a product to market."
United States

Modernizing the Copyright Office 49 49

An anonymous reader writes: Joshua Simmons has written a new article discussing the growing consensus that it is time to modernize the Copyright Office. It reviews the developments that led to the last major revision of the Copyright Act; discusses Congress's focus since 1976 on narrower copyright bills, rather than a wholesale revision of U.S. copyright law, and the developments that have led to the review hearings; and considers the growing focus on Copyright Office modernization.