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SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch and Historic Landing Aborted

Slashdot - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 14:55
An anonymous reader writes With only 29 seconds in the countdown, SpaceX had to abort the launch due to a last-minute problem with actuator drift, affecting the motors that control the second stage's rocket thrust. "SpaceX had to scrub Tuesday's attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station and make a historic rocket landing. The landing experiment would have involved putting the first stage of the two-stage rocket on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean, about 200 miles off the coast of Florida. Such a feat has never been done before. A successful maneuver would have marked a significant step toward making rockets more reusable and driving down the cost of spaceflight."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Sony Thinks You'll Pay $1200 For a Digital Walkman

Slashdot - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 14:12
An anonymous reader writes: The Walkman is one of the most recognizable pieces of technology from the 1980s. Unfortunately for Sony, it didn't survive the switch to digital, and they discontinued it in 2010. Last year, they quietly reintroduced the Walkman brand as a "high-resolution audio player," supporting lossless codecs and better audio-related hardware. At $300, it seemed a bit pricey. But now, at the Consumer Electronics Show, Sony has loudly introduced its high-end digital Walkman, and somehow decided to price it at an astronomical $1,200. What will all that money get you? 128GB of onboard storage and a microSD slot to go with it. There's a large touchscreen, and the device runs Android — but it uses version 4.2 Jelly Bean, which came out in 2012. It also supports Bluetooth and NFC. Sony claims the device has 33 hours of battery life when playing FLAC files, and 60 hours when playing MP3s. They appear to be targeting audiophiles — their press release includes phrasing about how pedestrian MP3 encoding will "compromise the purity of the original signal."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

CodeSOD: Jack and the Beanstalk

The Daily WTF - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 12:00

Once upon a time, in a far off kingdom named 1996, there was a developer named Jack. Jack worked for a poor company that could barely afford to buy grain with which to bake objects; they had to make do with Delphi forms, pinching and scraping what they could into an application. Instead of methods, they were stuck with button events, from which they milked database tables.

One day, Jack came to realize that the button events were growing old, and soon, no more good could be wrung from them. Sadly, he knew it was time to retire his old Delphi code. But what could he live on?

"I will help you," said Jack's neighbor, another developer. "Take these magic variables and plant them in the soil, and soon you will have a beautiful garden of maintainable code instead of the dried-up old husk you milk." And so Jack planted the variables and went to sleep.

When he woke up, he found an amazing sight:

TForm1.Button131Click(Sender: TObject); var Row1Type1Count, Row2Type1Count, Row3Type1Count, Row4Type1Count, Row5Type1Count, Row1Type2Count, Row2Type2Count, Row3Type2Count, Row4Type2Count, Row5Type2Count, Row1Type3Count, Row2Type3Count, Row3Type3Count, Row4Type3Count, Row5Type3Count, NoOfItemsRow1, NoOfItemsRow2, NoOfItemsRow3, NoOfItemsRow4, NoOfItemsRow5, NoOfItemsRow6, NoOfItemsRow7, NoOfItemsRow8, NoOfItemsRow9, NoOfItemsRow10, NoOfItemsRow11, NoOfItemsRow12, NoOfItemsRow13, NoOfItemsRow14, NoOfItemsRow15, WT_ItemsRow1, WT_ItemsRow2, WT_ItemsRow3, WT_ItemsRow4, WT_ItemsRow5, WT_ItemsRow6, WT_ItemsRow7, WT_ItemsRow8, WT_ItemsRow9, WT_ItemsRow10, WT_ItemsRow11, WT_ItemsRow12, WT_ItemsRow13, WT_ItemsRow14, WT_ItemsRow15 , Position: integer; NofBagParcelRow1, NofBagParcelRow2, NofBagParcelRow3, NofBagParcelRow4, NofBagParcelRow5, NofBagParcelRow6, NofBagParcelRow7, NofBagParcelRow8, NofBagParcelRow9, NofBagParcelRow10, NofBagParcelRow11, NofBagParcelRow12, NofBagParcelRow13, NofBagParcelRow14, NofBagParcelRow15: integer; 2 WtofBagParcelRow1, WtofBagParcelRow2, WtofBagParcelRow3, WtofBagParcelRow4, WtofBagParcelRow5, WtofBagParcelRow6, WtofBagParcelRow7, WtofBagParcelRow8, WtofBagParcelRow9, WtofBagParcelRow10, WtofBagParcelRow11, WtofBagParcelRow12, WtofBagParcelRow13, WtofBagParcelRow14, WtofBagParcelRow15: Double; WtofItemAndBagRow1, WtofItemAndBagRow2, WtofItemAndBagRow3, WtofItemAndBagRow4, WtofItemAndBagRow5, WtofItemAndBagRow6, WtofItemAndBagRow7, WtofItemAndBagRow8, WtofItemAndBagRow9, WtofItemAndBagRow10, WtofItemAndBagRow11, WtofItemAndBagRow12, WtofItemAndBagRow13, WtofItemAndBagRow14, WtofItemAndBagRow15: Double; begin ...

That's right: The tiny method had grown until it was 700 lines long! Not only that, but it had attracted friends: 60,000 lines in total, all squished into a few button events.

And so Jack went off in search of an axe with which to prune his massive garden...

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Categories: Fun/Other

Should We Be Content With Our Paltry Space Program?

Slashdot - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 11:12
StartsWithABang writes: At its peak — the mid-1960s — the U.S. government spent somewhere around 20% of its non-military discretionary spending on NASA and space science/exploration. Today? That number is down to 3%, the lowest it's ever been. In an enraging talk at the annual American Astronomical Society meeting, John M. Logsdon argued that astronomers, astrophysicists and space scientists should be happy, as a community, that we still get as much funding as we do. Professional scientists do not — and should not — take this lying down.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

The Downside of Connected Healthcare: Cyberchondria

Slashdot - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 08:12
MollsEisley writes: Like hypochondria, cyberchondria is simply a more elegant way of saying "it's all in your head" — only in this case the people self-diagnosing are using tenuous data gleaned from the Internet and our ever-connected gadgets to support their hypotheses. Virtually everyone who has put the Microsoft Band through its paces has come away with the claim that its heart rate monitor is simply bad. ... The Moto 360’s heart rate monitor doesn’t fare much better, and in only the most perfect, motionless conditions will it provide anything close to an accurate reading. These are horribly inaccurate health tools, yet they are used as bullet points for would-be buyers to cling to. ... Even WebMD—the service that has given so many cyberchondriacs the fuel to continue guessing—has a note on every single one of its countless pages that states the site “does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.” And yet, that’s the one and only thing most people use WebMD for.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Extreme Heat Knocks Out Internet In Australia

Slashdot - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 06:15
An anonymous reader writes with news that bad weather caused internet connectivity problems for users in Perth, Western Australia on Monday. But it wasn't raging storms or lightning that caused this outage — it was extreme heat. Monday was the 6th hottest day on record for Perth, peaking around 44.4 C (111.9 F). Thousands of iiNet customers across Australia found themselves offline for about six and a half hours after the company shut down some of its systems at its Perth data center at about 4.30pm AEDST because of record breaking-temperatures. ... "[W]e shut down our servers as a precautionary measure," an iiNet spokesman said late Monday night. "Although redundancy plans ensured over 98 per cent of customers remained unaffected, some customers experienced issues reconnecting to the internet." ... Users in Western Australia, NSW, Victoria and South Australia took to Twitter, Facebook and broadband forum Whirlpool to post their frustrations to the country's second largest DSL internet service provider.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Beware Headlines Saying Chocolate Is Good For You

Slashdot - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 04:20
BarbaraHudson writes: Many news organizations ran stories last fall extolling certain health benefits of chocolate. But it turns out the studies that the articles were based on didn't go quite so far. The CBC is running a pair of stories debunking chocolate's benefits to the average consumer: "Scientists have zeroed in on a family of fragile molecules known as cocoa flavanols. Research suggests they can relax blood vessels, improve blood flow and, as Small found in his study, even increase activity in a part of the brain involved with age related memory loss. But those flavanols largely disappear once the cocoa bean is heated, fermented and processed into chocolate. In other words, making chocolate destroys the very ingredient that is supposed to make it healthy. That’s why Small’s memory study used a highly concentrated powder prepared exclusively for research by Mars Inc., the chocolate company, which also partially funded the study. ... There are lots of foods that contain potentially healthy flavanols, along with other bioactive compounds in complex combinations. So the question is: Would academic scientists in publicly funded institutions be so interested in the cocoa bean if the chocolate industry wasn't supporting so much of the research?"

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Categories: Tech/Science News

European Researchers Develop More Accurate Full-Body Polygraph

Slashdot - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 02:25
jfruh writes: Despite their widespread use in industry and law enforcement, traditional lie-detector polygraphs give accurate results only about 60% of the time, barely better than the 55% accuracy people can get just by following their gut instincts. Now researchers in the UK and the Netherlands are trying to improve that. They claim a full-body polygraph based on motion-capture suits used for movie special effects can detect lies with 75% accuracy.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Hubble Takes Amazing New Images of Andromeda, Pillars of Creation

Slashdot - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 01:45
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in April, 1990. In 1995, it presented us with one of its most iconic images: a close-up of gas pillars in the Eagle Nebula, dubbed the "Pillars of Creation." Now, as HST approaches its 25th anniversary, astronomers have re-shot the pillars at a much higher resolution. Here are direct images links: visible light, comparison with old image, near-infrared light. "The infrared view transforms the pillars into eerie, wispy silhouettes seen against a background of myriad stars. That's because the infrared light penetrates much of the gas and dust, except for the densest regions of the pillars. Newborn stars can be seen hidden away inside the pillars." That's not the only new image from Hubble today: NASA has also released the most high definition view of the Andromeda Galaxy that we've ever seen. Here's a web-friendly image, but that doesn't really do it justice. The full image is 69,536 px by 22,230 px. To see Andromeda in all its glory, visit the ESA's dedicated, zoomable site that contains all the image data. At the highest zoom levels, you can make out a mind-blowing number of individual stars. Andromeda is over 2 million light-years distant.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Why We're Not Going To See Sub-orbital Airliners

Slashdot - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 01:03
glowend writes: Sci-fi author Charlie Stross has an article about sub-orbital flight, and why we'll never see it as a common mode of transportation. Quoting: "Yes, we can save some fuel by travelling above the atmosphere and cutting air resistance, but it's not a free lunch: you expend energy getting up to altitude and speed, and the fuel burn for going faster rises nonlinearly with speed. Concorde, flying trans-Atlantic at Mach 2.0, burned about the same amount of fuel as a Boeing 747 of similar vintage flying trans-Atlantic at Mach 0.85 ... while carrying less than a quarter as many passengers. Rockets aren't a magic technology. Neither are hybrid hypersonic air-breathing gadgets like Reaction Engines' Sabre engine. It's going to be a wee bit expensive." Stross also makes a more general proposition that's particularly interesting to me: "One of the failure modes of extrapolative SF is to assume that just because something is technologically feasible, it will happen. ... Someone has to want it enough to pay for it—and it will be competing with other, possibly more attractive options."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Dish Introduces $20-a-Month Streaming-TV Service

Slashdot - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 00:20
wyattstorch516 writes "Dish Networks has unveiled Sling TV, its streaming service for customers who don't want to subscribe to Cable or Satellite. From the article: "For $20 a month — yes, twenty dollars — you get access to a lineup of cable networks that includes TNT, TBS, CNN, Food Network, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, the Disney Channel, ESPN, and ESPN2. ESPN is obviously a huge get for Dish and could earn Sling TV plenty of customers all on its own. ESPN just ended another year as TV's leading cable network, and now you won't need a traditional cable package to watch it. For sports fanatics, that could prove enticing. But Dish has hinted that there may be limits on watching ESPN on mobile thanks to red tape from existing deals between the network and Verizon."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Intel Unveils 5th Gen Core Series Broadwell-U CPUs and Cherry Trail Atom

Slashdot - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 23:37
MojoKid writes Intel has officially taken the wraps off its 5th generation Core Series notebook processor, code named Broadwell-U. This new SoC is a "tick" in Intel's tick-tock plan, which means it's mostly a die shrink of the existing Haswell architecture, at least on the CPU side. On the GPU side, there's a bevy of improvements and advances, and the video decoder block has been beefed up with dual bit stream decoders in its high-end (GT3) hardware. Other feature improvements and capabilities are expected, though Intel has been quiet on exactly what they have tweaked and changed to date. Intel is claiming that the architecture will boost battery life by 1.5 hours, speed video conversions, and offer a whopping 22% improvement to 3D performance — a gain on par with what we saw when moving from Ivy Bridge to Haswell. Intel also took the wraps off their next gen Atom CPU, code named Cherry Trail. This is essentially a 14nm Bay Trail die shrink that's been on the roadmap for a while. As with Haswell-Broadwell, the Bay Trail-Cherry Trail shift is aimed at improving CPU power consumption and overall SoC power characteristics, though again, we'll see an updated GPU baked in as well.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Who's Responsible When Your Semi-Autonomous Shopping Bot Purchases Drugs Online?

Slashdot - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 22:55
Nerval's Lobster writes Who's responsible when a bot breaks the law? A collective of Swiss artists faced that very question when they coded the Random Darknet Shopper, an online shopping bot, to purchase random items from a marketplace located on the Deep Web, an area of the World Wide Web not indexed by search engines. While many of the 16,000 items for sale on this marketplace are legal, quite a few are not; and when the bot used its $100-per-week-in-Bitcoin to purchase a handful of illegal pills and a fake Hungarian passport, the artists found themselves in one of those conundrums unique to the 21st century: Is one liable when a bunch of semi-autonomous code goes off and does something bad? In a short piece in The Guardian, the artists seemed prepared to face the legal consequences of their software's actions, but nothing had happened yet—even though the gallery displaying the items is reportedly next door to a police station. In addition to the drugs and passport, the bot ordered a box set of The Lord of the Rings, a Louis Vuitton handbag, a couple of cartons of Chesterfield Blue cigarettes, sneakers, knockoff jeans, and much more.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

FCC Revamps Customer Complaint System

Slashdot - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 22:12
blottsie writes The FCC has heard your complaints, and it's finally going to make it easier to file more complaints. The Federal Communications Commission on Monday announced the launch of its Consumer Help Center, which according to a press release will feature a "streamlined, user-friendly complaint filing system," the "ability for consumers to monitor complaints, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," and "faster delivery of complaints to service providers, enabling them to respond to consumers sooner."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

How Long Will It Take Streaming To Dominate the Music Business?

Slashdot - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 21:51
journovampire writes with this story about the booming music streaming business. "Streaming is on course to make more money for the U.S. music business than downloads and physical sales combined within the next three years. The U.S. appears poised for streaming to become its most valuable music format in either 2016 or 2017, according to MBW forecasts – so long as you include SoundExchange royalties generated by digital radio platforms like Pandora alongside subscription and ad-supported platforms like Spotify. But in the other three biggest recorded music markets in the world – France, Germany and Japan – the public appears more hesitant to allow streaming to take over."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Inside Amsterdam's Efforts To Become a Smart City

Slashdot - Mon, 01/05/2015 - 21:30
First time accepted submitter MollsEisley writes Throughout Amsterdam there are "Living Labs," or communities that act as petri dishes for ideas and initiatives to be tested before scaling them across the city. In IJburg, Amsterdam's youngest neighborhood, projects like free Wi-Fi and a new Fiber network, personalized television and transportation services, and a coworking space allow residents to experiment and test city projects to improve healthcare, environment, and energy programs in the city.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

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