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What USB Has Replaced (And What it Hasn't) (arstechnica.co.uk) 24

An anonymous reader writes with a story at Ars Technica about the evolution thus far of USB as an enabling technology: Like all technology, USB has evolved over time. Despite being a 'Universal' Serial Bus, in its 18-or-so years on the market it has spawned multiple versions with different connection speeds and many, many types of cables. A casual search around the shelves by my desk shows that I've got at least 12 varieties, and that's not even counting serial and PS/2 adapters. What have you replaced with USB?
The Military

Air Force Hires Civilian Drone Pilots For Combat Patrols (latimes.com) 48

schwit1 writes: For the first time, civilian pilots and crews now operate what the Air Force calls "combat air patrols," daily round-the-clock flights above areas of military operations to provide video and collect other sensitive intelligence. Civilians are not allowed to pinpoint targets with lasers or fire missiles. They operate only Reapers that provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, known as ISR, said Air Force Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command.

Peter Thiel: We Need a New Atomic Age 201

HughPickens.com writes: Peter Thiel writes in the NYT that what's especially strange about the failed push for renewables is that we already had a practical plan back in the 1960s to become fully carbon-free without any need of wind or solar: nuclear power. "But after years of cost overruns, technical challenges and the bizarre coincidence of an accident at Three Mile Island and the 1979 release of the Hollywood horror movie "The China Syndrome," about a hundred proposed reactors were canceled," says Thiel. "If we had kept building, our power grid could have been carbon-free years ago. Instead, we went in reverse."

According to Thiel, a new generation of American nuclear scientists has produced designs for better reactors. Crucially, these new designs may finally overcome the most fundamental obstacle to the success of nuclear power: high cost. Designs using molten salt, alternative fuels and small modular reactors have all attracted interest not just from academics but also from entrepreneurs and venture capitalists like me ready to put money behind nuclear power. However, none of these new designs can benefit the real world without a path to regulatory approval, and today's regulations are tailored for traditional reactors, making it almost impossible to commercialize new ones. "Both the right's fear of government and the left's fear of technology have jointly stunted our nuclear energy policy," concludes Thiel. "supporting nuclear power with more than words is the litmus test for seriousness about climate change. Like Nixon's going to China, this is something only Mr. Obama can do. If this president clears the path for a new atomic age, American scientists are ready to build it."

Parts of Falcon 9 Launcher Wash Ashore In England 15

RockDoctor writes with news as reported by the BBC that parts of a Falcon 9 launcher have washed ashore on the Scilly Islands off the SW coast of Britain. Early impressions are that the pieces are from the failed Falcon 9 ISS launch which exploded after take-off in June. That's not the only possibility, though; according to the article, However Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said many experts believed, due to the size and markings which have now been revealed, it was from a different mission. "All the geeks have been getting together and looking at fine details, and we're pretty sure it's a launch from September 2014 that successfully sent a cargo mission to the space station. "It didn't look like an exploded rocket to me, it looked like a fairly normal piece of space junk when the lower stage of a rocket falls from a hundred miles up and hits the ocean. Large sections can remain in tact and it's really quite normal," he said.
Christmas Cheer

Finnish IT Retailer Reveals Most Returned Products 93

jones_supa writes: The largest computer gear retailer in Finland, Verkkokauppa.com, has unveiled top 20 lists of most returned and most serviced equipment in 2015 (Google translation). To offer an alternative to Black Friday, the company is going with a theme called "Sustainable Christmas". They want to guide shoppers to make good choices, as product returns always create extra burden for the distribution chain. Is there anything that catches your eye in the lists, or something else that you would like to warn about?
United Kingdom

Celebrating ARM's 25th Anniversary With the Visual ARM1 (visual6502.org) 34

In a slow-burn series of posts going back to 2010, the Visual6502.org has presented diagrams and commentary on "ancient microchips," mosly based on painstaking microphotography after just-as-painstaking depackaging and cleaning of the actual chips.Today, reader trebonian writes an excerpt from their latest entry, in honor of the 25th anniversary of ARM Ltd., UK, which is somewhat different: To celebrate and honor their amazing work, we present the Visual ARM1, created in collaboration with some of ARM's founding engineers.

Designed by Sophie Wilson and Steve Furber before there was an ARM Ltd., the Acorn RISC Machine was the first of a line of processors that power our cell phones and tablets today. Unlike our projects based on microscope images, the Visual ARM was created from a resurrected .cif chip layout file, used under our license agreement with ARM. We also photographed one of the few ARM1 chips at very high resolution, and our photograph is featured at the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge.

Credit goes to ARM founding engineers John Biggs for inspiring the project, discovering the tape, and recovering a usable .cif file, Lee Smith for spotting the variable record format used to encode the file (an artifact of the VMS on Acorn's VAX that at first appeared to be widespread corruption of the file), to Cambridge University Computing Services for reading the Exabyte tape, and to ARM founder Dave Howard for help unraveling the VLSI CIF dialect. Our chip simulation and visualization was developed by Barry Silverman, Brian Silverman, Ed Spittles, and Greg James.

The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Is There a Bookmark Manager That Actually Manages Bookmarks? 88

hackwrench writes: Most reviews of so-called bookmark managers focus on the fact that they can share bookmarks across browsers and devices and whether or not they can make your bookmarks public or not. Sometimes they mention that you can annotate bookmarks. Little is said about real management features like making certain bookmarks exclusive to one or a set of browsers or devices, checking for dead links and maybe even looking them up on archive.org. I'm sure this isn't an exhaustive list of features that would be good to have. What bookmarks managers do you use and why, and what features would you like to see in a bookmark manager?

LinkedIn's Own CSS Abused For Clickjacking Attacks 12

An anonymous reader writes: LinkedIn has fixed a security bug that allowed attackers to use its own CSS code for clickjacking attacks. Basically attackers can create blog posts and load CSS classes from LinkedIn's own stylesheets. If a reader lands on that blog post, then a malicious link can be shown for the entire area of the page. Not something "unique" since this type of method is quite well-known, but you don't generally expect to find these kind of attacks on LinkedIn's own platform. (Here's a link to the LinkedIn security blog. Sorry for not linking to the particular blog — LinkedIn has a weird URL policy. It's the first one.)

The First Online Purchase Was a Sting CD (Or Possibly Weed) (fastcompany.com) 48

tedlistens writes: On August 11, 1994, 21-year-old Dan Kohn, founder of a pioneering, online commerce site, made his first web sale. His customer, a friend of his in Philadelphia, spent $12.48, plus shipping costs on Sting's CD "Ten Summoner's Tales," in a transaction protected by PGP encryption. "Even if the N.S.A. was listening in, they couldn't get his credit card number," Kohn told a New York Times reporter in an article about NetMarket the following day. According to a new short video about the history of online shopping, there were a few precedents, including a weed deal between grad students on the ARPANET and a 74-year-old British grandmother who in 1984 used a Videotex—essentially a TV connected to telephone lines—to order margarine, eggs, and cornflakes.

LSD Microdosing Gaining Popularity For Silicon Valley Professionals (rollingstone.com) 386

An anonymous reader writes: Rolling Stone reports that an unusual new trend is popping up around the offices of Silicon Valley companies: taking tiny doses of LSD or other psychedelic drugs to increase productivity. "A microdose is about a tenth of the normal dose – around 10 micrograms of LSD, or 0.2-0.5 grams of mushrooms." According to the article, the average user is a 20-something looking to improve their creativity and problem-solving skills. Some users report that the LSD alleviates other problems, like anxiety or cluster headaches. That said, it's important to note that such benefits are not supported by scientific research — yet.
United Kingdom

UK Prisons To Crack Down On Inmate Internet and Mobile Phone Use (thestack.com) 67

An anonymous reader writes: UK prisons will roll out enhanced internet and mobile phone blocking technologies, according to new measures announced yesterday by Chancellor George Osborne in the Autumn Statement. The step, which seeks to stop inmate access to the internet and calls made from mobile devices, will involve part of a £1.3bn investment from the Ministry of Justice to improve the country's Prison Service. Through this strategy, the government hopes to drive "safety improvements" by denying calls and data used on illicit mobile devices. The latest development in blocking technologies promises to be better (paywalled) than earlier systems, which inmates have been able to get around.

London's Deputy Mayor On Ditching Diesel 179

dkatana writes: During an interview in Barcelona last week, at the Smart Cities Congress, London's Deputy Mayor Matthew Pencharz said that he doesn't believe diesel cars belong in cities. He said, "I don't believe that for the urban setting, for light vehicles, diesel is the right thing," He added, "I don't think it is the right thing if you are an urban driver, stopping-starting in traffic all day, not going very far, not zipping along at 50 mph on the motorway. [I think] diesel is not the right technology." He also blamed the European Commission for being too lenient with emission standards and conformity factors. "The conformity factors the Commission [has recently approved] are not as good as we would like, clearly, because we are going to have the same problem again," he said. "The VW scandal has focused attention on a problem we hardly knew about, and it has raised to the top the public policy of failure of dieselization across the European Union, and the UK too, combined with the spectacular failure of the Euro engine standards," he said. "[The scandal] has focused our minds on the fact that we need to accelerate the way out of diesel."

Apple Looks To Introduce OLED Displays In iPhone Models From 2018 (thestack.com) 201

An anonymous reader writes: Apple is expected to integrate organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display technology in its iPhone handsets from 2018. The Cupertino-based giant will jump from liquid crystal display (LCD), which has been used in iPhones since 2007, to OLED – turning to suppliers like LG Displays, according to Japanese reports. The switch follows the steps of other smartphone makers such as Samsung and LG, which have both already integrated OLED technology in their mobile device ranges.
Operating Systems

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Will Ship With Linux Kernel 4.4 LTS 99

prisoninmate writes: The current daily build of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) remains based on the Linux 4.2 kernel packages of the stable Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) operating system, while the latest and most advanced Linux 4.3 kernel is tracked on the master-next branch of the upcoming operating system. In the meantime, the Ubuntu Kernel Team announced plans for moving to Linux kernel 4.4 for the final release of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system.

Software Freedom Conservancy Asks For Supporters 34

paroneayea writes: Software Freedom Conservancy is asking people to join as supporters to save both their basic work and GPL enforcement. Conservancy is the steward of projects like Samba, Wine, BusyBox, QEMU, Inkscape, Selenium, and many more. Conservancy also does much work around GPL enforcement and needs 2,500 members to join in order to save copyleft compliance work. They list some of the past year's successes, too, including fighting for and successfully earning "an exemption from the Library of Congress in the DMCA review process to legally permit circumvention of encryption on Smart TVs, ensuring that you are free to hack on the devices that you legally own."

Tesla's NOx Problem: Model X Delay Explained? (dailykanban.com) 41

An anonymous reader writes: It may not have come as a surprise that the NOx emissions violations discovered in some of Volkswagen's diesel engines have led to similar findings in cars from several other manufacturers. However, Daily Kanban's Edward Niedermeyer has discovered that a seemingly unlikely car maker has also received a Notice of Violation for NOx emissions: a thermal oxidizer used in Tesla's Fremont, CA plant produces far more of the reactive gases than the permit allows. According to Niedermeyer, the device is located at the paint shop destined for the Model X production and this environmental problem could well be the leading cause for the delay.

Pressure From Uber Forces London Taxis To Finally Accept Cards (thestack.com) 111

An anonymous reader writes: Following a public consultation that compared the service unfavorably with Uber, London's 21,000 black cabs will finally accept card payment from October of 2016, with a possible option to pay via PayPal. London Mayor Boris Johnson continues to support and defend the legendarily expensive and iconic taxi service, saying 'This move will boost business for cabbies and bring the trade into the 21st century by enabling quicker and more convenient journeys for customers'. Most Londoners feel that the move should have been made in the 1980s, and the consultation report indicates that Uber's increasing share of London fares has forced the innovation.

AMD's Crimson Radeon Driver For Linux Barely Changes Anything (phoronix.com) 94

An anonymous reader writes: AMD Windows customers were greeted this week to the new "Crimson" Radeon Software that brought many bug fixes, performance improvements, and brand new control panel. While AMD also released this Crimson driver for Linux, it really doesn't change much. The control panel is unchanged except for replacing "Catalyst" strings with "Radeon" and there's been no performance changes but just some isolated slowdowns. The Crimson Linux release notes only mention two changes: a fix for glxgears stuttering and mouse cursor corruption.

Google Scours 1.2 Million URLs To Conform With EU's "Right To Be Forgotten" Law (engadget.com) 66

An anonymous reader writes: According to a Google report the company has evaluated 1,234,092 URLs from 348,085 requests since the EU's May 2014 "right to be forgotten" ruling, and has removed 42% of those URLs. Engadget reports: "To show how it comes to its decisions, the company shared some of the requests it received and its decisions. For example: a private citizen that was convicted of a serious crime, but had that conviction overturned during appeal, had search results about the crime removed. Meanwhile a high ranking public official in Hungary failed to get the results squelched of a decades-old criminal conviction. Of course, that doesn't mean the system is perfect and the company has already been accused of making mistakes."

How Sports Commentaries Can Speed Up AI Development (thestack.com) 39

An anonymous reader writes: In an effort to shorten the annotation phase prior to neural network learning, Indian researchers are using commentaries intended for human viewers to help machines understand the meaning of action in cricket. The researchers suggest that closed-caption movie commentaries, as well as other types of usefully descriptive pre-existing commentaries could continue to prove helpful in teaching artificial intelligence the meaning of what it is seeing on screen.