China

China's Island-Building In Pictures 17 17

An anonymous reader writes: The South China Sea is just small enough to have high strategic value for military operations and just large enough to make territorial claims difficult. For over a year now, the world has been aware that China is using its vast resources to try and change that. Instead of fighting for claims on existing islands or arguing about how far their sovereignty should extend, they simply decided to build new islands. "The islands are too small to support large military units but will enable sustained Chinese air and sea patrols of the area. The United States has reported spotting Chinese mobile artillery vehicles in the region, and the islands could allow China to exercise more control over fishing in the region." The NY Times has a fascinating piece showing clear satellite imagery of the new islands, illustrating how a fleet a dredgers have dumped enormous amounts of sand on top of existing reefs. "Several reefs have been destroyed outright to serve as a foundation for new islands, and the process also causes extensive damage to the surrounding marine ecosystem." We can also see clear evidence of airstrips, cement plants, and other structures as the islands become capable of supporting them.
The Almighty Buck

Will Autonomous Cars Be the Insurance Industry's Napster Moment? 87 87

An anonymous reader writes: Most of us are looking forward to the advent of autonomous vehicles. Not only will they free up a lot of time previously spent staring at the bumper of the car in front of you, they'll also presumably make commuting a lot safer. While that's great news for the 30,000+ people who die in traffic accidents every year in the U.S. alone, it may not be great news for insurance companies. Granted, they'll have to pay out a lot less money with the lower number of claims, but premiums will necessarily drop as well and the overall amount of money within the car insurance system will dwindle.

Analysts are warning these companies that their business is going to shrink. It will be interesting to see if they adapt to the change, or cling desperately to an outdated business model like the entertainment industry did. "One opportunity for the industry could be selling more coverage to carmakers and other companies developing the automated features for cars. ... When the technology fails, manufacturers could get stuck with big liabilities that they will want to cover by buying more insurance. There's also a potential for cars to get hacked as they become more networked."
Transportation

Munich Planning Highway System For Cyclists 64 64

An anonymous reader writes: The German city of Munich has been looking for solutions to its traffic problem. Rush hour traffic is a parking lot, and public transit is near capacity. They think their best bet is to encourage (and enable) more people to hop on their bikes. Munich is now planning a Radschnellverbindungen — a highway system just for cyclists. Long bike routes will connect the city with universities, employment centers, and other cities. The paths themselves would be as free from disruption as possible — avoiding intersections and traffic lights are key to a swift commute. They'll doubtless take lessons from Copenhagen's bike skyway: "Cykelslangen (pronounced soo-cool-klag-en) adds just 721 feet of length to the city's 220 miles of bicycle paths, but it relieves congestion by taking riders over instead of through a waterfront shopping area."
Networking

$340 Audiophile Ethernet Cable Tested 170 170

An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica has posted a series of articles attempting to verify whether there's any difference between a $340 "audiophile" Ethernet cable and a $2.50 generic one. In addition to doing a quick teardown, they took the cables to Las Vegas and asked a bunch of test subjects to evaluate the cables in a blind test. Surprise, surprise: the expensive cables weren't any better. The subjects weren't even asked to say which one was better, just whether they could tell there was a difference. But for the sake of completeness, Ars also passed the cables through a battery of electrical tests. The expensive cable met specs — barely, in some cases — while the cheap one didn't. The cheap one passed data, but with a ton of noise. "And listeners still failed to hear any difference."
Cellphones

Samsung Wants To Bring Back the Flip Phone With Bendable Screens 48 48

redletterdave writes: A new patent filed last April but published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this month suggests Samsung might be working on a smartphone that can bend in half like a flip phone. The biggest problem, according to the patent, is all the strain that accumulates by continually folding the display, or keeping the display folded for a long period of time, which can result in deformations and imperfections, Samsung notes. But Samsung's patent also describes how the phone could keep track of how long it's been in the folded and unfolded states, so as to alert the user of any strain that needs to be relieved. This could help extend the lifetime of the phone and its display.
Mozilla

Mozilla CEO: Windows 10 Strips User Choice For Browsers and Other Software 267 267

puddingebola writes: Mozilla CEO Chris Beard has sent an open letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella complaining about the default settings in Windows 10. Users who upgrade to 10 will have their default browser automatically changed to the new Edge browser. Beard said, "We appreciate that it’s still technically possible to preserve people’s previous settings and defaults, but the design of the whole upgrade experience and the default settings APIs have been changed to make this less obvious and more difficult. It now takes more than twice the number of mouse clicks, scrolling through content and some technical sophistication for people to reassert the choices they had previously made in earlier versions of Windows. It’s confusing, hard to navigate and easy to get lost. ... We strongly urge you to reconsider your business tactic here and again respect people’s right to choice and control of their online experience by making it easier, more obvious and intuitive for people to maintain the choices they have already made through the upgrade experience.
Google

Google Rejects French Order For 'Right To Be Forgotten' 254 254

Last month, French data protection agency CNIL ordered Google to comply with the European "right to be forgotten" order by delisting certain search results not just on the European versions of Google's search engine, but on all versions. Google has now publicly rejected that demand. CNIL has promised a response, and it's likely the case will go before local courts. Google says, This is a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web. While the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally. Moreover, there are innumerable examples around the world where content that is declared illegal under the laws of one country, would be deemed legal in others: Thailand criminalizes some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalizes some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be "gay propaganda." If the CNIL's proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world's least free place.
Robotics

A Robot That Can Walk and Jump On Water 29 29

Taco Cowboy writes: Researchers from Seoul University and Harvard have constructed tiny robots that can walk across the surface of standing water, and even jump into the air. The robots were designed to imitate the way pond-skimmer insects take advantage of surface tension to maneuver on top of still bodies of water. After studying the insects, the researchers found their legs started with a small amount of movement before gradually accelerating downward into a jump. The insects also sweep their legs inward during the jump to maximize the amount of time they stay in contact with the surface (abstract). "Using these principles, the researchers developed an ultra light robot made out of nickel titanium with a 2 centimeter long body inspired by origami. Its 5 centimeter long wire legs are curved at the tips like a real water strider's and coated with a material that repels water." Pictures of the robots are available here and here, as well as this animated gif.
Earth

Google Straps Aclima Sensors To Street View Cars To Map Air Pollution 47 47

Eloking writes: Google and a San Francisco-based Aclima have equipped Google's Street View cars with environmental sensors in order to map urban air quality. The project aims to create high resolution maps of air quality across cities by measuring carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, Volatile Organic Compounds, and other pollutants. “We have a profound opportunity to understand how cities live and breathe in an entirely new way by integrating Aclima’s mobile sensing platform with Google Maps and Street View cars,” said Davida Herzl, co-founder and CEO of Aclima. “With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities, environmental health is becoming increasingly important to quality of life. Today we’re announcing the success of our integration test with Google, which lays the foundation for generating high resolution maps of air quality in cities.”
United Kingdom

Cameron Tells Pornography Websites To Block Access By Children Or Face Closure 318 318

An anonymous reader writes: Prime Minister David Cameron says that if online pornographers don't voluntarily install effective age-restricted controls on their websites he'll introduce legislation that will close them down altogether. A recent Childline poll found nearly 10% of 12-13-year-olds were worried they were addicted to pornography and 18% had seen shocking or upsetting images. The minister for internet safety and security, Joanna Shields, said: “As a result of our work with industry, more than 90% of UK consumers are offered the choice to easily configure their internet service through family-friendly filters – something we take great pride in having achieved. It’s a gold standard that surpasses those of other countries. “Whilst great progress has been made, we remain acutely aware of the risks and dangers that young people face online. This is why we are committed to taking action to protect children from harmful content. Companies delivering adult content in the UK must take steps to make sure these sites are behind age verification controls.”
Japan

Japanese Scientists Fire the Most Powerful Laser On the Planet 113 113

Sepa Blackforesta writes: Scientist from University of Osaka claim have fired the world's most powerful laser. The beam was intact for 2-petawatt, pulse lasted just one picosecond. While it produced a huge amount of power, the energy required for the beam itself is equivalent to that needed to power a microwave for two seconds. An associate professor of electrical engineering at Osaka University Junji Kawanaka says “With heated competition in the world to improve the performance of lasers, our goal now is to increase our output to 10 petawatts.”
Robotics

Robots Must Be Designed To Be Compassionate, Says SoftBank CEO 105 105

An anonymous reader writes: At the SoftBank World conference in Tokyo, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has made a case for robots to be developed so as to form empathic and emotional relationships with people. "I'm sure that most people would rather have the warm-hearted person as a friendSomeday robots will be more intelligent than human beings, and [such robots] must also be pure, nice, and compassionate toward people," SoftBank's Aldebaran tech group will make its empathic "Pepper" robot available for companies to rent in Japan from October at a rate of $442 per month.
Television

Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May Making Show For Amazon 191 191

mrspoonsi writes: Amazon has announced that former Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will be reuniting to create “an all-new car show” that will be exclusively on Amazon Prime. The first season will be made available worldwide in 2016 and will be produced executive producer Andy Wilman. The BBC reports: "The move follows their departure from the hit BBC Two show earlier this year. Clarkson's contract was not renewed following an 'unprovoked physical attack' on a Top Gear producer. His co-hosts then followed him in leaving the show. They will now make the unnamed new programme with former Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman, who also quit the BBC following the 'fracas.' In a statement from Amazon, Clarkson said: 'I feel like I've climbed out of a biplane and into a spaceship.'"
Google

Google's Project Loon Balloons May Cover Sri Lanka With Internet Access 34 34

Zothecula writes: Sri Lanka is set to become the first country with universal Internet access after signing a memorandum of understanding with Google to use the company's Project Loon balloons. Officials say there is not a timetable for when the balloons will be covering the 25,000 square mile nation, but this is a crucial first step. The Foreign minister noted that "from this event onwards advertisements or headlines saying “Matara covered” or “Jaffna covered” will become a part of history." And concluded his speech saying that he was "proud to declare that we are at the cusp of a reclaiming our heritage of being connected to each other and connected to the world. In a few months we will truly be able to say: Sri Lanka, Covered."
Microsoft

The Weird History of the Microsoft Windows Start Button 240 240

Gamoid writes: Windows 3.1 was so complicated that even a Boeing propulsion scientist couldn't figure out how to open a word processor. A behavioral scientist, who once worked with BF Skinner at Harvard, was brought in to Microsoft to figure out what was going wrong — and he came up with the Start button, for which he holds the patent today. It's a weird and cool look at how simple ideas aren't obvious.
Google

The New Google Glass Is All Business 44 44

An anonymous reader writes: Google scrapped an early version of its smart glasses in January, but has developed another model just for businesses. The company hopes to get this newest version of Glass in the hands of healthcare, manufacturing and energy industry professionals by this fall. Recode reports: "The new model can fold up like a traditional pair of glasses and is more rugged for outdoor use. However, unlike most other smart glasses, it still sports a small screen to the upper right of the user's vision, rather than displaying an image in the center of one's view like the ODG R7 or Microsoft HoloLens."
Transportation

Hacker's Device Can Intercept OnStar's Mobile App and Unlock, Start GM Cars 40 40

Lucas123 writes: Security researcher Samy Kamkar posted a video today demonstrating a device he created that he calls OwnStar that can intercept communications between GM's RemoteLink mobile app and the OnStar cloud service in order to unlock and start an OnStar equipped car. Kamkar said that after a user opens the OnStar Remote Link app on his or her mobile phone "near the OwnStar device," OwnStar intercepts the communication and sends "data packets to the mobile device to acquire additional credentials. The OwnStar device then notifies the attacker about the new vehicle that the hacker has access to for an indefinite period of time, including its location, make and model. And at that point, the hacker can use the Remote Link app to control the vehicle. Kamkar said GM is aware of the security hole and is working on a fix.
Displays

Ask Slashdot: Best Wireless PC-to-TV Solution? 154 154

jez9999 writes: I have a slightly unusual requirement. I don't want to use some console like an Xbox, Steam Machine, etc. I just have a desktop PC which I use for most of the stuff I do (gaming, video, work, etc.), and it's upstairs. From time to time, I'd like to use it downstairs. Is there a wireless solution that will let me take control of the PC from downstairs, using the TV (HDMI) as the screen, and the TV's speakers to replace my desktop speakers? Ideally there would be a wireless transmitter in the PC, and a downstairs wireless receiver box into which I could plug the keyboard, mouse, and of course, the TV via an HDMI cable. Obviously Bluetooth wireless peripherals won't do for this as there's no line of sight between downstairs and the upstairs PC, and besides, I prefer wired peripherals anyway which I can actually plug in to something (no battery recharging needed).
Transportation

Indian Ocean Debris Believed To Come From Missing Flight MH370 84 84

McGruber writes that air crash investigators, though maintaining that it is "too early to tell" with certainty, have 'a high degree of confidence' that a piece of wreckage found on the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion is from a Boeing 777 — the same model as the doomed MH370 which disappeared in March 2014. Investigators will need to examine closely the wreckage to link it to MH370, but MH370 was the only Boeing 777 ever lost over water.
Windows

A Naysayer's Take On Windows 10: Potential Privacy Mess, and Worse 466 466

Lauren Weinstein writes: I had originally been considering accepting Microsoft's offer of a free upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10. After all, reports have suggested that it's a much more usable system than Windows 8/8.1 — but of course in keeping with the 'every other MS release of Windows is a dog' history, that's a pretty low bar. However, it appears that MS has significantly botched their deployment of Windows 10. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised, even though hope springs eternal. Since there are so many issues involved, and MS is very aggressively pushing this upgrade, I'm going to run through key points here quickly, and reference other sites' pages that can give you more information right now. But here's my executive summary: You may want to think twice, or three times, or many more times, about whether or not you wish to accept the Windows 10 free upgrade on your existing Windows 7 or 8/8.1 system. Now that we're into the first week of widespread availability for the new version, if you're a Windows user and upgrader, has your experience been good, horrible, or someplace between?