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Cellphones

Former Apple CEO Creates an iPhone Competitor 122

An anonymous reader links to Fast Company's profile of Obi Worldphone, one-time Apple CEO John Sculley's venture into smartphones. The company's first two products (both reasonably spec'd, moderately priced Android phones) are expected to launch in October. And though the phones are obviously running a different operating system than Apple's, Sculley says that Obi is a similarly design-obsessed company: "The hardest part of the design was not coming up with cool-looking designs," Sculley says. "It was sweating the details over in the Chinese factories, who just were not accustomed to having this quality of finish, all of these little details that make a beautiful design. We had teams over in China, working for months on the floor every day. We intend to continue that process and have budgeted accordingly." Obi is also trying to set itself apart from the low-price pack by cutting deals for premium parts. "Instead of going directly to the Chinese factories, we went to the key component vendors, because we know that ecosystem and have the relationships," Sculley says. "We went to Sony. It’s struggling and losing money on its smartphone business, but they make the best camera modules in the world."
Programming

Deep Learning Pioneer On the Next Generation of Hardware For Neural Networks 44

An anonymous reader writes: While many recognize Yann LeCun as the father of convolutional neural networks, the momentum of which has ignited artificial intelligence at companies like Google, Facebook and beyond, LeCun has not been strictly rooted in algorithms. Like others who have developed completely new approaches to computing, he has an extensive background in hardware, specifically chip design and this recognition of specialization of hardware, movement of data around complex problems, and ultimately core performance, has proven handy. He talks in depth this week about why FPGAs are coming onto the scene as companies like Google and Facebook seek a move away from "proprietary hardware" and look to "programmable devices" to do things like, oh, say, pick out a single face of one's choosing from an 800,000 strong population in under five seconds.
Moon

You Can Now Be "Buried" On the Moon 72

Dave Knott writes: Space burials are longer the stuff of science fiction (and wealthy science fiction TV show creators.) The cremated remains of more than 450 people have been shot into orbit. Yet, despite the promise of space being a unique "resting place," almost every tiny vial of remains ever sent there has come back down to Earth or burned up upon re-entry. This wouldn't have happened had the ashes landed on Earth's moon — a fact that hasn't been lost on the companies pioneering this futuristic funeral technology. The San Francisco-based company Elysium Space officially launched its 'lunar memorial' service earlier this month, and will soon be sending the remains of a U.S. Army Infantry Soldier's mother upwards as part of its first ever moon burial.

The company's website further explains how the lunar burials will work: "You receive a kit containing a custom ash capsule to collect a cremated remains sample. After we receive the ash capsule back from you, we place your capsule in the Elysium memorial spacecraft. The latter is eventually integrated to the Astrobotic lander during the designated integration event. From here, the lander is integrated onto the launch vehicle. On launch day, the remains are carried to the moon where the lander will be deployed to its dedicated location, preserving our memorial spacecraft for eternity." Because Elysium can only send a small portion of cremated remains to the moon (less than a gram), participants aren't actually paying to have their loved ones literally buried on the moon. However, this has not deterred the company from launching the service, charging $11,950 per "burial".
Space

NASA Mulls Missions To Neptune and Uranus, Using the Space Launch System 77

MarkWhittington writes: According to a story in Astronomy Magazine, NASA is contemplating sending flagship sized space probes to the so-called "ice giants" of Uranus and Neptune. These probes would orbit the two outer planets, similar to how Galileo orbited Jupiter and how Cassini currently orbits Saturn. The only time NASA has previously had a close encounter with either of these worlds was when Voyager 2 flew by Uranus in 1986 and then Neptune in 1989. Each of these missions would happen after the Europa Clipper, a flagship-class mission scheduled for the mid-2020s.
Science

Stephen Hawking Presents Theory On Getting Information Out of a Black Hole 166

An anonymous reader writes: Physicist Stephen Hawking claims to have figured out a way for information to leave a black hole. He presented his theory today at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Scientists have struggled with the black hole information paradox for years, and Hawking thinks this new theory could be a solution. He said, "I propose that the information is stored not in the interior of the black hole as one might expect, but in its boundary, the event horizon." Put in layman's terms, "this jumbled return of information was like burning an encyclopedia: You wouldn't technically lose any information if you kept all of the ashes in one place, but you'd have a hard time looking up the capital of Minnesota." Information can leave the black hole via Hawking radiation, though it will be functionally useless. Hawking worked with Cambridge's Malcolm Perry and Harvard's Andrew Stromberg on this theory.
Hardware

Video The IoT, the MinnowBoard, and How They Fit Into the Universe (Video) 25

The IoT is becoming more pervasive partly because processor costs are dropping. So are bandwidth costs, even if your ISP isn't sharing those savings with you. Today's interviewee, Mark Skarpness, is "the Director of Embedded Software in the Open Source Technology Center at Intel Corporation," which is an amazing mouthful of a title. What it means is that he works to extend Intel's reach into Open Source communities, and is also aware of how hardware and software price drops -- and bandwidth price drops at the "wholesale" level -- mean that if you add a dash of IPV6, even lowly flip-flops might have their own IPs one day.

This video interview is a little less than six minutes long, while the text transcript covers a 17 minute conversation between Mark Skarpness and Slashdot's Timothy Lord. The video can be considered a "meet Mark" thing, and watching it will surely give you the idea that yes, this guy knows his stuff, but for more info about the spread of the IoT and how the Open Hardware MinnowBoard fits into the panoply of developer tools for IoT work, you'll have to read the transcript.
Windows

Windows 95 Turns 20 282

Etherwalk writes: Windows 95 turns 20 tomorrow, August 24, 2015. Users looking to upgrade from Windows 3.1 should be warned that some reviewers on the Amazon purchase page have been receiving 3.5" high-density floppy disk versions instead of a modern 150 kbps CD-ROM disk. Do you remember first seeing or installing Windows 95? Do you have any systems still running it?
Technology

Another Step In Quantum Computing: A Functional Interconnect 43

New submitter Gennerik writes: According to a recent article in the MIT Technology Review, a team of international physicists have been able to create a quantum computing interconnect. The interconnect, which is used to connect separate silicon photonic chips, has the important feature of preserving entanglement. This marks a vital step in creating quantum computers that don't have to work in isolation. According to the article, the trick that The trick that [University of Bristol Researcher Mark Thomson] and pals have perfected is to convert the path-entanglement into a different kind of entanglement, in this case involving polarization. They do this by allowing the path-entangled photons to interfere with newly created photons in a way that causes them to become polarized. This also entangles the newly created photons, which pass into the optical fiber and travel to the second silicon photonic chip.
Biotech

New Genes May Arise From Junk DNA 110

An anonymous reader writes: Junk DNA (or noncoding DNA) is a term for section of a DNA strand that doesn't actually do much. Huge tracts of the human genome consist of junk DNA, and researchers are now finding that it may be more useful than previously thought. "For most of the last 40 years, scientists thought that [gene duplication] was the primary way new genes were born — they simply arose from copies of existing genes. The old version went on doing its job, and the new copy became free to evolve novel functions. Certain genes, however, seem to defy that origin story. They have no known relatives, and they bear no resemblance to any other gene. ... But in the past few years, a once-heretical explanation has quickly gained momentum — that many of these orphans arose out of so-called junk DNA."
Internet Explorer

Microsoft Patches Remote Code Execution Hole for Internet Explorer 56

mask.of.sanity writes: Microsoft has released an out-of-band patch for Internet Explorer versions seven to 11 that closes a dangerous remote code execution flaw allowing attackers to commandeer machines. From their advisory: "An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user. If the current user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. Systems where Internet Explorer is used frequently, such as workstations or terminal servers, are at the most risk from this vulnerability." The attack could assist in watering hole and malvertising campaigns. The Windows 10 Edge browser is not impacted.
Crime

US No-Fly List Uses 'Predictive Judgement' Instead of Hard Evidence 264

HughPickens.com writes: The Guardian reports that in a little-noticed filing before an Oregon federal judge, the US Justice Department and the FBI conceded that stopping U.S. and other citizens from traveling on airplanes is a matter of "predictive assessments about potential threats." "By its very nature, identifying individuals who 'may be a threat to civil aviation or national security' is a predictive judgment intended to prevent future acts of terrorism in an uncertain context," Justice Department officials Benjamin C Mizer and Anthony J Coppolino told the court. It is believed to be the government's most direct acknowledgment to date that people are not allowed to fly because of what the government believes they might do and not what they have already done. The ACLU has asked Judge Anna Brown to conduct her own review of the error rate in the government's predictions modeling – a process the ACLU likens to the "pre-crime" of Philip K Dick's science fiction. "It has been nearly five years since plaintiffs on the no-fly list filed this case seeking a fair process by which to clear their names and regain a right that most other Americans take for granted," say ACLU lawyers.

The Obama administration is seeking to block the release of further information about how the predictions are made, as damaging to national security. "If the Government were required to provide full notice of its reasons for placing an individual on the No Fly List and to turn over all evidence (both incriminating and exculpatory) supporting the No Fly determination, the No Fly redress process would place highly sensitive national security information directly in the hands of terrorist organizations and other adversaries," says the assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division, Michael Steinbach.
Power

Interviews: Ask Engineer and L5 Society Cofounder Keith Henson a Question 111

Keith Henson is an electrical engineer and writer on space engineering, space law, cryonics, and evolutionary psychology. He co-founded the L5 society in 1975, which sought to promote space colonization. In addition to being an outspoken critic and target of the Church of Scientology, Keith has recently been working on the design of an orbiting power satellite (video here). The proposed satellite would collect solar energy, send it to Earth via microwaves, and Henson has a plan on how to launch it cheaply. Keith has agreed to give us some of his time and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Programming

Rupert Murdoch Won't Be Teaching Your Children To Code After All 57

theodp writes: Plans for Rupert Murdoch & Co. to teach your children to code just hit a bump in the road. Murdoch's News Corp. last week announced it plans to exit the education business as it announced a $371 million write-down of the investment in its Amplify education unit, which aimed to reinvent education via digital tools, tablets and curriculum reinforced with snazzy graphics. The news may help to explain why Amplify MOOC, the entity that offered online AP Computer Science A to high school students, was re-dubbed Edhesive ("online education that sticks") a couple of months ago. Tech-backed Code.org, whose $1+ million "Gold Supporters" include the James and Kathryn Murdoch-led Quadrivium Foundation, announced a partnership with Edhesive to bring CS to schools in June, around the same time Edhesive LLC was formed.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How To "Prove" a Work Is Public Domain? 212

New submitter eporue writes: YouTube claims that I haven't been able to prove that I have commercial rights to this video of Superman. They are asking me to submit documentation saying "We need to verify that you are authorized to commercially use all of the visual and audio elements in your video. Please confirm your material is in the public domain." I submitted a link to the Wikipedia page of the Superman cartoons from the 40s where it explains that the copyright expired, and to the Archive page from where I got it. And still is not enough to "prove" that I have the commercial rights. So, how do you "prove" public domain status ?
Education

Is There an Ed-Tech Critic In the House? 61

theodp writes: Educational technology has been stuck for awhile, laments Hack Education's Audrey Watters in And So, Without Ed-Tech Criticism... (an accompanying 1984 photo of Watters making a LOGO turtle draw a square looks little different than President Obama 'learning to code' 30+ years later by making a Disney Princess draw a square). "We might consider why we're still at the point of having to make a case for ed-tech criticism," writes Watters. "It's particularly necessary as we see funding flood into ed-tech, as we see policies about testing dictate the rationale for adopting devices, as we see the technology industry shape a conversation about 'code' — a conversation that focuses on money and prestige but not on thinking, learning. Computer criticism can — and must — be about analysis and action."
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.
Science

A Fermilab First: Detecting Oscillating Neutrinos 43

An announcement at last week's American Physical Society's Division of Particles and Fields conference revealed that Fermilab's NOvA experiment has for the first time observed oscillating neutrinos, which have long been predicted but -- as a case even more special than observing neutrinos in general, not an easy task -- never before detected. The research team fired trillions of of muon neutrinos from an accelerator at the Fermilab, outside Chicago. The neutrinos travel 500 miles through Earth's crust to a detector at Ash River, Minnesota. There, scientists were able to filter through millions of cosmic ray strikes and hone in on neutrino interactions. The arriving neutrinos featured some electron neutrinos, suggesting they had oscillated along their path through Earth. "Basically, it shows that we know what we're doing," said Patricia Vahle, associate professor of physics at the College of William & Mary.
Privacy

4th Circuit Holds That Obtaining Extended Cell-Site Records Requires a Warrant 37

schwit1 writes: In the new opinion, the Fourth Circuit (Judge Davis joined by Judge Thacker, with Judge Motz dissenting) holds that ordering a cell provider to hand over "extended" records is a Fourth Amendment search because "society recognizes an individual's privacy interest in her movements over an extended time period." The Fourth Circuit relies primarily on the "mosaic theory" arguments of the D.C. Circuit's opinion in United States v. Maynard and the concurring opinions when that case reached the Supreme Court under the name of United States v. Jones.