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New Amazon Delivery Drone Prototype Adds Wings and Rear Propeller

Soylent New - 30 November 2015 - 11:27pm

Amazon has released video of its new Amazon Prime Air delivery drone prototype. The video, narrated by former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, depicts an octocopter rising vertically to 400 feet before switching on the rear propeller. Amazon claims that it has a range of up to 15 miles. From the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post:

The video shows the drone switching into "landing mode" and descending onto a "delivery zone" in the customer's backyard. The drone releases the package onto what looks like a sheet of plastic with an Amazon logo. The larger the yard and the less tree cover, the easier the landing will be.

[...] Amazon says its drone has "sophisticated 'sense and avoid' technology," which will be essential for those backyard landings. Everyone from big tech companies such as Amazon to start-ups is developing this technology, so that drones can identify obstacles and automatically avoid them. For example, with sense and avoid, a drone would realize a dog had strayed into its landing zone, and not land until the coast was clear. Because this prototype has nine propellers it will still function even if multiple motors fail.

One section of the video, which Amazon notes is actual flight footage, shows the drone flying between 55-58 mph. That speed will come in handy if Amazon is going to deliver on its promise of getting packages to customers in 30 minutes.

Amazon isn't saying how much this prototype weighs, only that its drones weigh less than 55 pounds. And it's not sharing the prototype's wingspan. If you look at the photo below and remember that blue box is actually a shoe box, it's obvious the drone is far larger than the consumer drones we see most frequently, such as the DJI Phantom and Parrot Bebop.

News, or ploy to increase "Cyber Monday" and Christmas season sales?

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Sony Unlocks PlayStation 4's Previously Reserved Seventh CPU Core For Devs

/. - 30 November 2015 - 10:02pm
MojoKid writes: Toward the beginning of the year, it was revealed that Microsoft was going to "unlock" the seventh core on the Xbox One's processor, enabling developers to eke just a bit more performance out of the console and offer more flexibility at resource utilization. It appears that Microsoft's move would inevitably be followed by Sony, as reports are now coming in that this will be made available on the PlayStation 4 as well. This subtle change was highlighted in the latest changelog for the FMOD sound engine which is labeled as a "LowLevel API." While the unlocked core could take on FMOD duties if developers want it to, it's now not going to be tied to any single purpose. Developers could make use of this core, for example, to boost AI performance, or any other process that has a heavy computation requirement. It could also be used to simply help ease overall system load.

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Swan Song for the V8 Engine?

Soylent New - 30 November 2015 - 9:52pm

Contrast this excerpt from the infamous letter from Clyde Barrow to Henry Ford: http://www.snopes.com/business/consumer/barrow.asp "...For sustained speed and freedom from trouble the Ford has got every other car skinned, and even if my business hasen't[sic] been strickly[sic] legal it don't hurt anything to tell you what a fine car you got in the V8."

With this:

http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/police-blotter/troopers-ask-for-help-finding-xbox-game-thieves-20151125 "...The thieves were seen fleeing the store in a gray Toyota Prius."

Something just feels wrong when thieves use a Prius as their getaway car!

[What is the strangest getaway vehicle you have ever heard of? -Ed.]

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HTTP/2.0 Opens Every New Connection It Makes With the Word 'PRISM'

/. - 30 November 2015 - 8:25pm
An anonymous reader writes: British programmer and writer John Graham-Cumming has spotted what appears to be a 'code-protest' in the next generation of the hypertext protocol. Each new connection forged by the HTTP/2.0 protocol spells out the word 'PRISM' obliquely, though the word itself is obscured to the casual observer by coded returns and line-breaks. Work on the hidden message in HTTP/2.0 seems to date back to nine days after the Snowden revelations broke, with the final commit completed by July of 2013. In July 2013 one of the protocol's architects appealed to the development group to reconsider design principles in the light of the revelations about the NSA's worldwide surveillance program.

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How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce

Soylent New - 30 November 2015 - 7:54pm

Bloomberg Businessweek has published a story on efforts by Walmart to track and spy on employees after management felt threatened by a union-backed protest group, the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart):

In the autumn of 2012, when Walmart first heard about the possibility of a strike on Black Friday, executives mobilized with the efficiency that had built a retail empire. Walmart has a system for almost everything: When there's an emergency or a big event, it creates a Delta team. The one formed that September included representatives from global security, labor relations, and media relations. For Walmart, the stakes were enormous. The billions in sales typical of a Walmart Black Friday were threatened. The company's public image, especially in big cities where its power and size were controversial, could be harmed. But more than all that: Any attempt to organize its 1 million hourly workers at its more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. was an existential danger. Operating free of unions was as essential to Walmart's business as its rock-bottom prices.

[...] Internally, however, Walmart considered the [OUR Walmart] group enough of a threat that it hired an intelligence-gathering service from Lockheed Martin, contacted the FBI, staffed up its labor hotline, ranked stores by labor activity, and kept eyes on employees (and activists) prominent in the group. During that time, about 100 workers were actively involved in recruiting for OUR Walmart, but employees (or associates, as they're called at Walmart) across the company were watched; the briefest conversations were reported to the "home office," as Walmart calls its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

The details of Walmart's efforts during the first year it confronted OUR Walmart are described in more than 1,000 pages of e-mails, reports, playbooks, charts, and graphs, as well as testimony from its head of labor relations at the time. The documents were produced in discovery ahead of a National Labor Relations Board hearing into OUR Walmart's allegations of retaliation against employees who joined protests in June 2013. The testimony was given in January 2015, during the hearing. OUR Walmart, which split from the UFCW in September, provided the documents to Bloomberg Businessweek after the judge concluded the case in mid-October. A decision may come in early 2016.

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Russian Moon Landing May Take As Many As Six Launches

/. - 30 November 2015 - 7:41pm
MarkWhittington writes: Russia has made no secret of its desire to land cosmonauts on the lunar surface sometime in the late 2020s. As the United States, at least for the current administration, has decided to bypass the moon in favor of Mars, Russia could move to wipe out the humiliation it suffered at the hands of NASA when it lost the 1960s race to the moon with the landing of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969. However, a story in TASS suggests that a Russian moon landing effort would be complex, requiring up to six launches of its Angara rocket.

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US Marshals Jump Into 'Cyber Monday' Mania

/. - 30 November 2015 - 6:58pm
coondoggie writes: "Cyber Monday is generally thought to be the start of the online holiday shopping season. We would like to encourage shoppers who are already online in search of bargains to consider stopping by our auction website to bid on forfeited assets," said Jason Wojdylo, Chief Inspector of the U.S. Marshals Service Asset Forfeiture Division in a statement. These online auctions are designed to generate proceeds from ill-gotten gains to give back to victims, he stated. One auction includes a wine collection of approximately 2,800 bottles seized from once prominent wine dealer Rudy Kurniawan, who is serving a 10-year federal prison sentence following his conviction of selling millions of dollars of counterfeit wine.

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AT&T Will Raise Cost of Old Unlimited Data Plans By $5 In February

/. - 30 November 2015 - 6:15pm
An anonymous reader writes: AT&T customers trying to hold on to their old unlimited-data plans will have to pay a little more starting in February. AT&T's legacy plans for unlimited data will soon be $35 a month, instead of the current $30, on top of normal monthly bill costs. The Verge reports: "This is the first price hike AT&T has levied on grandfathered unlimited customers in seven years; the plan in question was discontinued in 2010 and as such is no longer offered to new customers. The $35 unlimited data feature is in addition to the costs associated with your voice and texting plan(s)."

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Conservationists Fear Decline of Hong Kong's Pink Dolphin

Soylent New - 30 November 2015 - 6:10pm

The Chinese white dolphin, also known as the pink dolphin, has long been a popular tourist attraction in Hong Kong. However, Samuel Hung, chairman of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society believes that over fishing, pollution, and water traffic are driving the animals away.

Hung reports that only 60 dolphins now remain in the area, compared to 158 in 2003. Disruption of dolphin habitats by the ongoing construction of a 50km bridge to Macau, combined with future plans for construction of a third runway at Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok airport, could make the dolphins even more scarce.

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VTech Hack Gets Worse: Chat Logs, Kids' Photos Taken In Breach

/. - 30 November 2015 - 5:33pm
An anonymous reader writes: The VTech hack just got a little worse. Reports say that in addition to the 4.8 million records with parents' names, home addresses, passwords and the identities of 227k kids, the hackers also have hundreds of gigabytes worth of pictures and chat logs belonging to children. ZDNet reports: "Tens of thousands of pictures — many blank or duplicates — were thought to have been taken from from Kid Connect, an app that allows parents to use a smartphone app to talk to their children through a VTech tablet. Motherboard was able to verify a portion of the images, and the chat logs, which date as far back as late-2014. Details about the intrusion are not fully known yet. The hacker, who for now remains nameless, told Motherboard that the Hong Kong-based company 'left other sensitive data exposed on its servers.'"

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Researchers Create Sodium Battery In Industry Standard "18650" Format

/. - 30 November 2015 - 4:51pm
Zothecula sends word that French team has developed a battery using sodium ions in the usual "18650" format. Gizmag reports: "A team of researchers in France has taken a major step towards powering our devices with rechargeable batteries based on an element that is far more abundant and cheaper than lithium. For the first time ever, a battery has been developed using sodium ions in the industry standard "18650" format used in laptop batteries, LED flashlights and the Tesla Model S, among other products."

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Swallow the Doctor: The Present and Future of Robots Inside Us

/. - 30 November 2015 - 4:18pm
szczys writes: Feynman predicted that we would some day "swallow the doctor" and to some extent that is already happening. There are cameras in pill-form that the patient swallows to monitor the digestive track, and pacemakers are now inserted via catheter rather than major surgery. The question is, where are we going with robots we can put inside our bodies. Intuitively it seems far away, but there is already an open source platform for capsule robots. Medical devices are where the money is at when it comes to hardware development. We can expect to see a lot of work in the coming years to make the man-machine hybrid something that is much more organic, sprinkled with small tablets of robot.

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Distillation Using Light Instead of Heat

Soylent New - 30 November 2015 - 4:01pm

Distillation involves heating a liquid until it boils, then condensing and collecting the vapors that come off the liquid. When distilling ethanol, the process is fundamentally limited such that the maximum concentration of alcohol is around 95-percent. A new method has been developed whereby gold-silica nanoparticles are added to the liquid and it is illuminated from above. The photons are either absorbed by the nanoparticles and the particles heat up, or they scatter and strike other nanoparticles. This causes local heating near the liquid surface, which drives off the volatile, such as ethanol. With this method, ethanol concentrations can reach 99-percent.

And could light be used to distil hooch? 'We've joked about this in the lab,' says Halas. 'But rather than moonshine it would of course have to be called sunshine!'

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Young Climate Activists Sue Obama Over Climate Change Inaction

/. - 30 November 2015 - 3:35pm
EmagGeek writes A recent lawsuit against Obama alleges he has a legal duty to act against climate change, and young climate activists, including 15-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh, are taking him to task on it. CNN reports: "Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh became a climate change activist at age 6 when he saw an environmental documentary. He asked his mom to find a way for him to speak at a rally. Now 15, the long-haired, hip-hop-savvy Coloradan is one of 21 young activists joining climate scientist James Hansen in suing the Obama administration for failing to ditch fossil fuels. 'It's basically a bunch of kids saying you're not doing your job,' he told me here at the U.N. COP21 climate change summit in Paris. 'You're failing, you know. F-minus. We're holding you accountable for your lack of action.'"

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Book Review: Security Operations Center

/. - 30 November 2015 - 2:52pm
benrothke writes: Large enterprises have numerous information security challenges. Aside from the external threats; there's the onslaught of security data from disparate systems, platforms and applications. Getting a handle on the security output from numerous point solutions (anti-virus, routers/switches, firewalls, IDS/IPS, ERP, access control, identity management, single sign on and others), often generating tens of millions of messages and alerts daily is not a trivial endeavor. As attacks becoming more frequent and sophisticated and with regulatory compliance issues placing an increasing burden, there needs to be a better way to manage all of this. Getting the raw hardware, software and people to create a SOC is not that difficult. The challenge, and it's a big challenge, is integrating those 3 components to ensure that a formal SOC can operate effectively. In Security Operations Center: Building, Operating, and Maintaining your SOC, authors Joseph Muniz, Gary McIntyre and Nadhem AlFardan have written an indispensable reference on the topic. The authors have significant SOC development experience, and provide the reader with a detailed plan on all the steps involved in creating a SOC. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.

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Interviews: Stack Overflow Co-Founder Jeff Atwood Answers Your Questions

/. - 30 November 2015 - 2:09pm
A few weeks ago you had a chance to ask author, entrepreneur, and software developer Jeff Atwood about founding Stack Overflow and the Stack Exchange Network, as well as his new endeavor, the Discourse open-source discussion platform. Below you will find his answers to your questions.

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Confession Of A C0dez Kid

Soylent New - 30 November 2015 - 1:51pm

What seems like a long time period at age thirteen seems significantly shorter when you're over double that age. With that in mind, the entire "hacker phenomenon" should be viewed as an extreme bit of ephemera, the result of a naive convergence between technology and what can be stereotyped as 1980's teenage angst and rebellion. The "hacker kid" made famous in every 1980's movie became (in a matter that Jean Baudrillard would be proud of) not only a reflection of ourselves, but an ideal we aspired to as well... and was really only a viable archetype for less than ten years. This should be kept in mind by any third-party who's attempting to put this scene in some sort of historical perspective. While there might be "hackers" in some sense even in the new millennium, this file specifically relates experiences of those of us who saw John Hughes movies at an actual movie theater back in the 80's. ("Hackers" generally meaning self-described phone phreaks and those who obtained unauthorized access to corporate computer networks, not just people good with computers).

These ramblings were inspired by my recent discovery of some old BBS buffers and text files I had booted up on my old Apple IIe while recently visiting my parents' house. Luckily (or unluckily) for you, I have a near-photographic memory of all of these events. (Too bad my post-high school years are rather hazy...) ;)

This surely has thousands of corollaries from around the country. My question is: where are you all now?

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IoT Home Alarm System Can Be Easily Hacked and Spoofed

/. - 30 November 2015 - 1:16pm
An anonymous reader writes: In the never-ending series of hackable, improperly protected IoT devices, today we hear about an IoT smart home alarm system that works over IP. Made by RSI Videofied, the W Panel features no encryption, no integrity protection, no sequence numbers for packets, and a predictable authentication system. Security researchers who investigated the devices say, "The RSI Videofied system has a level of security that is worthless. It looks like they tried something and used a common algorithm – AES – but messed it up so badly that they may as well have stuck with plaintext."

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Hardware For a Cheap Linux Desktop

/. - 30 November 2015 - 12:34pm
An anonymous reader writes: Outside of the limelight of Intel's Core "Skylake" processors is the cheapest model, a $60 Intel Pentium G4400 dual-core processor that runs at 3.3Gz and has built-in HD Graphics 510. Ubuntu Linux results for this CPU show the cut-down Skylake graphics are the worst aspect of this budget processor while the CPU performance is okay if speed isn't a big factor and your workloads don't mind the lack of AVX support. To pair with the cheap Skylake Pentium processors are more Intel H110-powered motherboards appearing, with some also retailing for under $60 while being basic yet functional as a severely cutdown version of the Intel Z170 chipset. If pursuing this route for a budget Linux PC, it's possible to build a socketed Skylake system for less than $200. Those of you who have recently build, or are planning out a new budget Linux machine, what internals do you recommend?

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Rikers Inmates Learn How To Code Without Internet Access

/. - 30 November 2015 - 11:53am
An anonymous reader sends the story of another prison where inmates are learning the basics of programming, despite having no access to the vast educational resources on the internet. Instructors from Columbia University have held a lengthy class at New York's Rikers Island prison to teach the basics of Python. Similar projects have been attempted in California and Oklahoma. The goal wasn’t to turn the students into professional-grade programmers in just a few classes, [Instructor Dennis] Tenen emphasizes, but to introduce them to the basics of programming and reasoning about algorithms and code. "It’s really to give people a taste, to get people excited about coding, in hopes that when they come out, they continue," says Tenen. ...Having an explicit goal—building the Twitter bot—helped the class focus its limited time quickly on learning to do concrete tasks, instead of getting bogged down in abstract discussions of syntax and algorithms.

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