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NASA

SpaceX Executive Calls For $22-25 Billion NASA Budget 114

Posted by timothy
from the only-tax-dollars-after-all dept.
MarkWhittington (1084047) writes "While participating in a panel called "The US Space Enterprise Partnership" at the NewSpace Conference that was held by the Space Frontier Foundation on Saturday, SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell opined that NASA's budget should be raised to $22-25 billion, according to a tweet by Space Policy Online's Marcia Smith. The theory is that a lot of political rancor has taken place in the aerospace community because of the space agency's limited budget. If the budget were to be increased to pay for everything on the space wish list, the rancor will cease.

The statement represents something of a departure of the usual mutual antagonism that exists between some in the commercial space community and some at NASA. Indeed Space Politics' Jeff Foust added a tweet, "Thought: a panel at a Space Frontier Foundation conf is talking about how to increase NASA budget. Imagine that in late 90s." The Space Frontier Foundation has been a leading voice for commercializing space, sometimes at the expense of NASA programs."
Books

Apple Acquires "Pandora For Books" Booklamp For $15 Million 26

Posted by timothy
from the we-know-why-you're-reading-it dept.
Nate the greatest (2261802) writes with news made public Friday that Apple has acquired a little known ebook company called Booklamp, a small Idaho-based ebook startup which is best known for the Book Genome Project. First shown off to the world in 2008, this project was conceived by Booklamp founder and CEO Aaron Stanton as a way of analyzing a book's pacing, dialog, perspective, genre, and other details in order to identify a book's unique DNA. Booklamp has been using the tech to sell various services to publishers, tech companies, and the like, but Booklamps's existing contracts were apparently cancelled earlier this year.

According to one industry insider the deal happened in April, but Apple managed to keep the news under wraps until just last night. No one knows for sure how Apple will use booklamp but there is speculation that Apple could launch an ebook subscription service similar to the week-old Kindle Unlimited, or they could just use Booklamp to drive ebook recommendations in what some are speculating is the world's second largest ebookstore.
Education

AP Computer Science Test Takers Up 8,000; Pass Rate Down 6.8% 119

Posted by timothy
from the everything-that-rises dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Code.org reports that preliminary data on students who took the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Exam in 2014 show an increase of 8,276 students over 2013 and represent what the College Board called "the first real indication of progress in AP CS enrollment for women and underserved minorities in years." Girls made up 20% of the 39,393 total test takers, compared to 18.7% of the 31,117 test takers in 2013. Black or African American students saw their share increase by 0.19%, from 3.56% to 3.75% (low, but good enough to crush Twitter). Code.org credits the increased enrollment to its celebrity-studded CS promo film starring Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg ("I even made a personal bet (reflected in my contractual commitment to Code.org donors) that our video could help improve the seemingly immovable diversity numbers in computer science," Code.org founder Hadi Partovi notes). However, some of the increase is likely attributable to the other efforts of Code.org's donors. Microsoft ramped up its TEALS AP CS program in 2013-2014, and — more significantly — Google helped boost AP CS study not only through its CS4HS program, but also by funding the College Board's AP STEM Access program, which offered $5 million to schools and teachers to encourage minority and female students to enroll in AP STEM courses. This summer, explains the College Board, "All AP STEM teachers in the participating schools (not just the new AP STEM teachers), who increase diversity in their class, receive a [$100] DonorsChoose.org gift card for each student in the course who receives a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP Exam." The bad news for AP CS teachers anticipating Google "Excellence Funding" bounties (for increasing course enrollment and completion "by at least five underrepresented students") is that AP CS pass rates decreased to 60.8% in 2014 (from 67.6% in 2013), according to Total Registration. Using these figures and a back-of-the-envelope calculation, while enrollment saw a 26.6% increase over last year, the total number of students passing increased by 13.9%."
Transportation

Man Booted From Southwest Flight and Threatened With Arrest After Critical Tweet 885

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-some-good-costumer-service-work-there-lou dept.
CanHasDIY writes The old saying goes, "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." A man learned the consequences Sunday, after Tweeting about his experience with a rude Southwest gate attendant: "A Minnesota man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent. Duff Watson said he was flying from Denver to Minneapolis on Sunday and tried to board in a spot for frequent flyer privileges he held and take his sons, ages 6 and 9, with him, even though they had a later spot to board the plane. The agent told him that he would have to wait if he wanted to board with his children. Watson replied that he had boarded early with them before and then sent out a tweet that read 'RUDEST AGENT IN DENVER. KIMBERLY S. GATE C39. NOT HAPPY @SWA.' Watson told TV broadcaster KARE in Minneapolis on Wednesday that after he boarded, an announcement came over the plane asking his family to exit the aircraft. Once at the gate, the agent said that unless the tweet was deleted, police would be called and the family would not be allowed back onboard." He gave into the threat, deleted the Tweet, and was allowed to board a later flight. Southwest, as one could have predicted, offered a boilerplate "apology" and vouchers.
Space

SpaceX Releases Video of Falcon Rocket's Splashdown 49

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the future-actually-happening dept.
First time accepted submitter cowdung (702933) writes In spite of Elon Musk's characterization of the landing as a KABOOM event. Judging by this video SpaceX has managed to land the first stage rocket booster nicely on the ocean after their Orbcomm launch on July 14th. It seems we're one step closer to a landing on dry land. Both this and the previous landing seem to have gone well. Hopefully the next landing test camera has something to deice the camera lens.
Wikipedia

Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17 667

Posted by samzenpus
from the writing-history dept.
An anonymous reader writes A political battle has broken out on Wikipedia over an entry relating to the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, with the Russian government reportedly removing sections which accuse it of providing 'terrorists' with missiles that were used to down the civilian airliner. A Twitter bot which monitors edits made to the online encyclopedia from Russian government IP addresses spotted that changes are being made to a page relating to the crash. All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) changed a Russian language version of a page listing civil aviation accidents to say that "The plane was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers." That edit replaced text – written just an hour earlier – which said MH17 had been shot down "by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation."
The Military

Russia Prepares For Internet War Over Malaysian Jet 503

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-going-to-be-a-long-night dept.
An anonymous reader writes The investigation of a Malaysian passenger jet shot down over Ukrainian rebel held territory is heating up. U.S. and U.K. news organizations are studiously trying to spread the blame, Russian ITAR, which, just earlier today was celebrating the downing of a large aircraft by rebel missiles in Torez (Google cache) is reporting that the rebels do not have access to the missiles needed for such attacks. The rebel commander who earlier today reported the downing of the aircraft has also issued a correction to earlier reports that they had captured BUK air defense systems with Russian sources now stating that the rebels do not posses such air defenses. The Ukrainian president has been attempting to frame the incident as a "terrorist attack". President Obama made contact with Vladimir Putin and has been instead treating it as an accident, calling it a "terrible tragedy" and saying that the priority is investigating whether U.S. citizens were involved. With control of the black box and its own internet propaganda army Russia may be in a good position to win the propaganda war.
News

Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine 752

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the can't-we-all-get-along dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Russian newswire service Interfax is reporting that a Malaysian passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down with a Buk ground-to-air missile over Ukraine near the Russian border. The Associated Press cites an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister as the source. First reports are that it was mistaken for a Ukrainian AN-26. Malaysia airlines confirms they lost contact with the plane (last known position), but there's no confirmation it was shot down (yet). The Ukrainian government accused Russia of shooting down a fighter jet in Ukrainian airspace last night. Reports indicate there are no survivors.
Businesses

Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer 401

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-comcastic dept.
RevWaldo writes: The Verge and other sources report on how AOL's Ryan Block ultimately succeeded in cancelling his Comcast account over the phone, but not before the customer service representative pressed him for eight solid minutes (audio) to explain his reasoning for leaving "the number one provider of TV and internet service in the country" in a manner that would cause a character in Glengarry Glen Ross to blush. Comcast has now issued an apology.
Twitter

Bot Tweets Anonymous Wikipedia Edits From Capitol Hill 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the noting-the-changes dept.
mpicpp writes about a new Twitter bot that reports all of the anonymous Wikipedia edits being made from the US Senate and House of Representatives. Ed Summers, an open source Web developer, recently saw a friend tweet about Parliament WikiEdits, a UK Twitter "bot" that watched for anonymous Wikipedia edits coming from within the British Parliament's internal networks. Summers was immediately inspired to do the same thing for the US Congress. "The simplicity of combining Wikipedia and Twitter in this way immediately struck me as a potentially useful transparency tool," Summers wrote in his personal blog. "So using my experience on a previous side project [Wikistream, a Web application that watches Wikipedia editing activity], I quickly put together a short program that listens to all major language Wikipedias for anonymous edits from Congressional IP address ranges and tweets them." The stream for the bot, @congressedits, went live a day later, and it now provides real-time tweets when anonymous edits of Wikipedia pages are made. Summers also posted the code to GitHub so that others interested in creating similar Twitter bots can riff on his work.
Input Devices

Take a Picture Just By Thinking About It, Using Google Glass With MindRDR App 41

Posted by timothy
from the what's-on-your-mind-and-your-ears dept.
rtoz (2530056) writes A London based company, This Place, is launching a new app "MindRDR" for providing one more way for controlling Google Glass. It will allow the users to control the Google Glass with their thoughts. This MindRDR application bridges the Neurosky EEG biosensor and Google Glass. It allows users to take photos and share them on Twitter and Facebook by simply using brainwaves alone. This Place has put the code of this app on GitHub for others to use it and expand on it.
Security

'Rosetta Flash' Attack Leverages JSONP Callbacks To Steal Credentials 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the clever-exploits dept.
New submitter newfurniturey writes: A new Flash and JSONP attack combination has been revealed to the public today. It has been dubbed the "Rosetta Flash" attack. JSONP callback functions normally return a JSON blob wrapped in a user-specified callback function, which the browser will then execute as JavaScript. Nothing out of the ordinary here. However, the new attack has leveraged a method of crafting a Flash file to contain a restricted character set that's usable within JSONP callbacks (i.e. in a URL). By combining the two, the attack demonstrates it's possible to use a JSONP URL with the contents of the crafted Flash file as the callback function. When set as the data of a standard HTML object tag, the SWF file executes on the targeted site, bypassing all Same-Origin policies in place. Services such as Google, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr and eBay were found vulnerable to this attack. Several of these services fixed the vulnerability with a patch prior to the public release, and Tumblr patched within hours of the release.
Social Networks

Human Language Is Biased Towards Happiness, Say Computational Linguists 86

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the didn't-analyze-slashdot dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes The idea that people tend to use positive words more often the negative ones is now known as the Pollyanna hypothesis, after a 1913 novel by Eleanor Porter about a girl who tries to find something to be glad about in every situation. But although widely known, attempts to confirm the hypothesis have all been relatively small studies and so have never been thought conclusive.

Now a group of researchers at Computational Story Lab at the University of Vermont have repeated this work on a corpus of 100,000 words from 24 languages representing different cultures around the world. They first measured the frequency of words in each language and then paid native speakers to rate how they felt about each word on a scale ranging from the most negative or sad to the most positive or happy. The results reveal that all the languages show a clear bias towards positive words with Spanish topping the list, followed by Portuguese and then English. Chinese props up the rankings as the least happy. They go on to use these findings as a 'lens' through which to evaluate how the emotional polarity changes in novels in various languages and have set up a website where anybody can explore novels in this way. The finding that human language has universal positive bias could have a significant impact on the relatively new science of sentiment analysis on social media sites such as Twitter. If there is a strong bias towards positive language in the first place, and this changes from one language to another, then that is obviously an important factor to take into account.
Facebook

The Bursting Social Media Advertising Bubble 254

Posted by samzenpus
from the cost-of-a-tweet dept.
schwit1 writes One of the great "paradigms" of the New Normal tech bubble that supposedly differentiated it from dot com bubble 1.0 was that this time it was different, at least when it came to advertising revenues. The mantra went that unlike traditional web-based banner advertising which has been in secular decline over the past decade, social media ad spending — which the bulk of new tech company stalwarts swear is the source of virtually unlimited upside growth — was far more engaging, and generated far greater returns and better results for those spending billions in ad bucks on the new "social-networked" generation. Sadly, this time was not different after all, and this "paradigm" has also turned out to be one big pipe dream. According to the WSJ, citing Gallup, "62% of the more than 18,000 U.S. consumers it polled said social media had no influence on their buying decisions. Another 30% said it had some influence. U.S. companies spent $5.1 billion on social-media advertising in 2013, but Gallup says "consumers are highly adept at tuning out brand-related Facebook and Twitter content."
Science

Fabien Cousteau Takes Plunge To Beat Grandfather's Underwater Record 84

Posted by samzenpus
from the under-the-sea dept.
An anonymous reader writes Fabien Cousteau, grandson of famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, plans to spend 31 days underwater off the coast of Key Largo, Florida. He has already spent 3 weeks in an underwater laboratory called the Aquarius, and hopes to break his grandfather's record of 30 days in an undersea habitat. "There are a lot of challenges physically and psychologically," said Cousteau, 46, who grew up on his grandfather's ships, Calypso and Alcyone. Cousteau added: "We'll be able to do Twitter chats, we'll be able to do Skype sessions, we'll be able to do Facebook posts and Instagram posts and all these things that we take for granted on land, but up until now it was impossible to do from down below."
Media

Mozilla Is Working On a Firefox OS-powered Streaming Stick 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the casting-video-is-finally-arriving dept.
SmartAboutThings writes: Mozilla took the world by surprise when it announced that it was developing a Firefox operating system that would be used for mobile phones, particularly in developing markets. Such devices have already arrived, but they aren't the only targets for the new operating. According to a report from GigaOM, Mozilla is currently working on a secretive project to develop a Chromecast-like media streaming stick powered by Firefox-OS. Mozilla's Christian Heilmann shared a picture of a prototype.
Security

Google Forks OpenSSL, Announces BoringSSL 128

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-want-something-done-right dept.
An anonymous reader writes Two months after OpenBSD's LibReSSL was announced, Adam Langley introduces Google's own fork of OpenSSL, called BoringSSL. "[As] Android, Chrome and other products have started to need some subset of these [OpenSSL] patches, things have grown very complex. The effort involved in keeping all these patches (and there are more than 70 at the moment) straight across multiple code bases is getting to be too much. So we're switching models to one where we import changes from OpenSSL rather than rebasing on top of them. The result of that will start to appear in the Chromium repository soon and, over time, we hope to use it in Android and internally too." First reactions are generally positive. Theo de Raadt comments, "Choice is good!!."
Education

Girls Take All In $50 Million Google Learn-to-Code Initiative 548

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-good-coders-more-good-software dept.
theodp writes: On Thursday, Google announced a $50 million initiative to inspire girls to code called Made with Code. As part of the initiative, Google said it will also be "rewarding teachers who support girls who take CS courses on Codecademy or Khan Academy." The rewards are similar to earlier coding and STEM programs run by Code.org and Google that offered lower funding or no funding at all to teachers if participation by female students was deemed unacceptable to the sponsoring organizations. The announcement is all the more intriguing in light of a Google job posting seeking a K-12 Computer Science Education Outreach Program Manager to "work closely with external leaders and company executives to influence activities that drive toward collaborative efforts to achieve major 'moonshots' in education on a global scale." Perhaps towards that end, Google recently hired the Executive Director of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), who was coincidentally also a Code.org Advisory Board member. And Code.org — itself a Made With Code grantee — recently managed to lure away the ACM's Director of Public Policy to be its COO. So, are these kinds of private-public K-12 CS education initiatives (and associated NSF studies) a good idea? Some of the nation's leading CS educators sure seem to think so (video).
Businesses

Mt. Gox CEO Returns To Twitter, Enrages Burned Investors 281

Posted by samzenpus
from the poking-the-bear dept.
An anonymous reader writes Mark Karpeles doesn't seem to understand how much anger and trouble the $400 million Mt. Gox fiasco caused his customers. According to Wired: "After a long absence, the Mt Gox CEO has returned to Twitter with a bizarre string of tone-deaf tweets that were either written by a Turing test chat bot, or by a man completely oblivious to the economic chaos he has wrought. His first message after losing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bitcoins? 'What would we do without busybox?'—a reference to a slimmed-down Linux operating system used on devices such as routers. He's also Tweeted about a noodle dish called yakisoba and Japanese transportation systems." Andreas Antonopoulos, the CSO with Blockchain says, "He continues to be oblivious about his own failure and the pain he has caused others. He is confirming that he is a self-absorbed narcissist with an inflated sense of self-confidence who has no remorse."
Social Networks

Emotional Contagion Spread Through Facebook 127

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-opinions-are-my-opinions dept.
Daniel_Stuckey sends this quote from Motherboard: It hopefully doesn't come as a surprise that your friends shape who you are. But we tend to think of that on a micro level: If your close circle of friends tends to have tattoos, wear polo shirts, or say "chill" a lot, it's quite possible that you'll emulate them over time — and they'll emulate you too. But what happens on a macro scale, when your friend circle doesn't just include the dozen people you actually hang out with regularly, but also the hundreds or thousands of acquaintances you have online? All of those feeds may seem filled with frivolities from random people (and they are!) but that steady stream of life updates — photos, rants, slang — are probably shaping you more than you think. A massive Facebook study recently published in PNAS found solid evidence of so-called emotional contagion—emotional states spreading socially, like a virus made of emoji—on the social network.

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