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NASA

EmDrive: NASA Eagleworks' Peer-Reviwed Paper Is On Its Way (ibtimes.co.uk) 161

An anonymous reader quotes a report from International Business Times UK: An independent scientist has confirmed that the paper by scientists at the NASA Eagleworks Laboratories on achieving thrust using highly controversial space propulsion technology EmDrive has passed peer review, and will soon be published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Dr Jose Rodal posted on the NASA Spaceflight forum -- in a now-deleted comment -- that the new paper will be entitled "Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio Frequency Cavity in Vacuum" and is authored by "Harold White, Paul March, Lawrence, Vera, Sylvester, Brady and Bailey." Rodal also revealed that the paper will be published in the AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power, a prominent journal published by the AIAA, which is one of the world's largest technical societies dedicated to aerospace innovations. Although Eagleworks engineer Paul March has posted several updates on the ongoing research to the NASA Spaceflight forum showing that repeated tests conducted on the EmDrive in a vacuum successfully yielded thrust results that could not be explained by external interference, those in the international scientific community who doubt the feasibility of the technology have long believed real results of thrust by Eagleworks would never see the light of day.
Android

Google To Drop Nexus Brand Name, Move Away From Stock Android (theverge.com) 124

tripleevenfall quotes a report from The Verge: Google's newest smartphones won't be Nexus devices after all. According to Android Central, Google is dropping the Nexus branding with its two upcoming, HTC-made smartphones. Instead, the company is expected to market the devices under a different name and to lean heavily on the Google brand in the process. This shift is more than just symbolic. The report states Google will load the devices with a special version of Android Nougat, as opposed to the standard "vanilla" version of the operating system that's shipped on past and current Nexus devices. Android Police reported earlier this month that Google may remove the Nexus branding from its upcoming smartphones and replace it with a "G" logo. It's too early to tell which direction Google is taking with its upcoming Android Nougat smartphones. Google has spent years marketing the Nexus brand as a hardware entity, while Google has reserved its own name for software services.
Space

SpaceX Finds a Customer For Its First Reused Rocket (arstechnica.com) 80

What do you do after you successfully land a rocket on a floating barge in the Atlantic? You reuse it. SpaceX has been on the hunt for someone to reuse some of its first-stage Falcon boosters, and now SpaceX has finally found a customer. Ars Technica reports: "The Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES said Tuesday that it intends to launch a geostationary satellite, SES 10, on a reusable rocket in the fourth quarter of this year. SpaceX has not yet specified how much it will charge for launch services on one of its flown boosters, but industry officials anticipate about a 30 percent discount on SpaceX's regular price of $62 million for a Falcon 9 launch. The company has not shared how much it is spending to refurbish and reuse a Falcon 9 stage, nor has it offered much public information about the extent to which the vehicle's engines have had to be tested and prepared for a second flight." "Having been the first commercial satellite operator to launch with SpaceX back in 2013, we are excited to once again be the first customer on SpaceX's first ever mission using a flight-proven rocket," said Martin Halliwell, Chief Technology Officer at SES. "We believe reusable rockets will open up a new era of spaceflight and make access to space more efficient in terms of cost and manifest management."
Encryption

FBI Director Says Prolific Default Encryption Hurting Government Spying Efforts (go.com) 312

SonicSpike quotes a report from ABC News: FBI Director James Comey warned again Tuesday about the bureau's inability to access digital devices because of encryption and said investigators were collecting information about the challenge in preparation for an "adult conversation" next year. Widespread encryption built into smartphones is "making more and more of the room that we are charged to investigate dark," Comey said in a cybersecurity symposium. The remarks reiterated points that Comey has made repeatedly in the last two years, before Congress and in other settings, about the growing collision between electronic privacy and national security. "The conversation we've been trying to have about this has dipped below public consciousness now, and that's fine," Comey said at a symposium organized by Symantec, a technology company. "Because what we want to do is collect information this year so that next year we can have an adult conversation in this country." The American people, he said, have a reasonable expectation of privacy in private spaces -- including houses, cars and electronic devices. But that right is not absolute when law enforcement has probable cause to believe that there's evidence of a crime in one of those places, including a laptop or smartphone. "With good reason, the people of the United States -- through judges and law enforcement -- can invade our private spaces," Comey said, adding that that "bargain" has been at the center of the country since its inception. He said it's not the role of the FBI or tech companies to tell the American people how to live and govern themselves. "We need to understand in the FBI how is this exactly affecting our work, and then share that with folks," Comey said, conceding the American people might ultimately decide that its privacy was more important than "that portion of the room being dark." Comey made his remarks to the 2016 Symantec Government Symposium. The Daily Dot has another take on Comey's remarks, which you can read here.
Communications

Study: 33% of Facebook Users Want Less News In Their Feed (businessinsider.com) 87

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Business Insider: According to a survey of 526 random Facebook users conducted by Spot.IM, 33% of Facebook users in the U.S. want to see fewer news articles in their feeds. The survey comes at a time when Facebook is desperately trying to improve the quality of publisher articles that gain traction on its platform. Here are some important takeaways from the study: Older people are likelier to want less news in their Facebook feeds. While 33% of all respondents indicated there was too much news and shared links in their Facebook feeds, the majority of this group was individuals aged 30 or older. Those 30-44 (37%), 45-59 (36%), and 60+ (36%) said they want less news in their feeds. Young Facebook users enjoy consuming news on social media. While middle-aged and older Facebook users don't like seeing news in their feeds, those aged 18-29 were much more interested and excited to see even more news articles on Facebook. 32% of respondents in this group wanted to see more news, while just 21% wanted less. This is an encouraging sign for publishers who want to reach a new generation of news consumers. The majority of people don't care about how much news they see on Facebook. Overall, 51% of all surveyed said they simply don't care if more or less news shows up in their Facebook feeds. A study conducted in June by Columbia University says that 59% of people don't even read the articles they share.
Software

Companies Are Developing More Apps With Fewer Developers (fortune.com) 152

Fortune reports that the "yawning gap in tech skills" has resulted in a surprising shift in supply and demand in the software industry. And in many companies now, a growing trend of developer jobs being given to non-developers can be seen. From the article: That's because a relatively new technology, known as low-code or no-code platforms, is now doing a big chunk of the work that high-priced human talent used to do. Low-code platforms are designed so that people with little or no coding or software engineering background -- known in the business as "citizen developers" -- can create apps, both for use in-house and for clients. Not surprisingly, the low-code platform industry, made up of about 40 small companies (so far), is growing like crazy. A recent Forrester Research report put its total revenues at about $1.7 billion in 2015, a figure that's projected to balloon to $15 billion in the next four years. Low-code-platform providers, notes Forrester, are typically seeing sales increases in excess of 50% a year.The report cites QuickBase, a company whose low-code platforms are used by half of the Fortune 500 companies, as an example. Its CEO Allison Mnookin says that almost any employee can now do most or all of the same work that developers used to do. Mnookin adds that there's a big advantage in this. "Opening an app's development to the non-techies who need the app removes misunderstandings between the IT department and other employees about what the end user needs."
Cloud

Google's Close To Beating Amazon, Microsoft For a Major Cloud Client: Sources (cnbc.com) 58

An anonymous reader shares a CNBC report: Google's aggressive push into cloud computing, where it trails Amazon.com and Microsoft, has put the internet giant in the lead position to land a marquee client: PayPal. While Google is the front-runner, according to people familiar with the matter, PayPal is evaluating the other leading providers and hasn't made any final decisions. PayPal is unlikely to move its technology infrastructure in the fourth quarter, the peak period for online commerce, said the sources, who asked not to be named because the talks are confidential. Under the leadership of VMware co-founder Diane Greene, Google is out to prove that it's a legitimate player in the rapidly expanding cloud infrastructure market.
IT

Not Using Smartphones Can Improve Productivity By 26%, Says Study (business-standard.com) 129

Smartphones do a plethora of things for us. But if you stopped using them, you might actually start seeing improvements in the work you do. From a Business-Standard report: The study, commissioned by Kaspersky Lab, showed that employees' performance improved 26 percent when their smartphones were taken away. The experiment tested the behaviour of 95 persons between 19 and 56 years of age in laboratories at the universities of Wurzburg and Nottingham-Trent. The experiment unearthed a correlation between productivity levels and the distance between participants and their smartphones. "Instead of expecting permanent access to their smartphones, employee productivity might be boosted if they have dedicated 'smartphone-free' time. One way of doing this is to enforce rules such as no phones in the normal work environment," says Altaf Halde, managing director, South Asia at Kaspersky Lab.
EU

Apple Ordered To Pay Up To $14.5 Billion in EU Tax Crackdown, Cook Refutes EU's Conclusion (bloomberg.com) 483

Apple has been ordered to pay a record sum of 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) plus interest after the European Commission said Ireland illegally slashed the iPhone maker's tax bill, in a crackdown on fiscal loopholes that also risks inflaming tensions with the United States Treasury. According to the European Union regulator, Apple benefited from selective tax treatment that gave it an unfair advantage over other businesses. In the meanwhile, Apple has refuted such accusations, saying that EU's conclusion has "no basis in fact or law." EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, "If my effective tax rate would be 0.05 percent falling to 0.005 percent -- I would have felt that maybe I should have a second look at my tax bill." Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "Over the years, we received guidance from Irish tax authorities on how to comply correctly with Irish tax law -- the same kind of guidance available to any company doing business there. In Ireland and in every country where we operate, Apple follows the law and we pay all the taxes we owe."
Programming

C Programming Language Hits a 15-Year Low On The TIOBE Index (businessinsider.com) 211

Gamoid writes: The venerable C programming language hit a 15-year low on the TIOBE Index, perhaps because more mobile- and web-friendly languages like Swift and Go are starting to eat its lunch. "The C programming language has a score of 11.303%, which is its lowest score ever since we started the TIOBE index back in 2001," writes Paul Jansen, manager of TIOBE Index. With that said, C is still the second most popular programming language in the world, behind only Java. Also worth noting as mentioned by Matt Weinberger via Business Insider, "C doesn't currently have a major corporate sponsor; Oracle makes a lot of money from Java; Apple pushes both Swift and Objective-C for building iPhone apps. But no big tech company is getting on stage and pushing C as the future of development. So C's problems could be marketing as much as anything."
EU

European Commission To Issue Apple An Irish Tax Bill of $1.1 Billion, Says Report (reuters.com) 199

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The European Commission will rule against Ireland's tax dealings with Apple on Tuesday, two source familiar with the decision told Reuters, one of whom said Dublin would be told to recoup over 1 billion euros in back taxes. The European Commission accused Ireland in 2014 of dodging international tax rules by letting Apple shelter profits worth tens of billions of dollars from tax collectors in return for maintaining jobs. Apple and Ireland rejected the accusation; both have said they will appeal any adverse ruling. The source said the Commission will recommend a figure in back taxes that it expects to be collected, but it will be up to Irish authorities to calculate exactly what is owed. A bill in excess of 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) would be far more than the 30 million euros each the European Commission previously ordered Dutch authorities to recover from U.S. coffee chain Starbucks and Luxembourg from Fiat Chrysler for their tax deals. When it opened the Apple investigation in 2014, the Commission told the Irish government that tax rulings it agreed in 1991 and 2007 with the iPhone maker amounted to state aid and might have broken EU laws. The Commission said the rulings were "reverse engineered" to ensure that Apple had a minimal Irish bill and that minutes of meetings between Apple representatives and Irish tax officials showed the company's tax treatment had been "motivated by employment considerations."
AT&T

US Appeals Court Dismisses AT&T Data Throttling Lawsuit (reuters.com) 26

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A federal appeals court in California on Monday dismissed a U.S. government lawsuit that accused ATT Inc of deception for reducing internet speeds for customers with unlimited mobile data plans once their use exceeded certain levels. The company, however, could still face a fine from the Federal Communications Commission regarding the slowdowns, also called "data throttling." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said it ordered a lower court to dismiss the data-throttling lawsuit, which was filed in 2014 by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC sued ATT on the grounds that the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier failed to inform consumers it would slow the speeds of heavy data users on unlimited plans. In some cases, data speeds were slowed by nearly 90 percent, the lawsuit said. The FTC said the practice was deceptive and, as a result, barred under the Federal Trade Commission Act. ATT argued that there was an exception for common carriers, and the appeals court agreed.
Facebook

Facebook Is Telling the World It's Not a Media Company, But It Might Be Too Late (businessinsider.com) 47

Let's get some facts straight. The vast majority of people now get their news from social media. Facebook has become one of the largest platforms for media companies. Not only does it send people to publications, it also offers outlets Instant Articles platform, essentially acting as a publisher. But when CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked on Monday if Facebook is a media company, he took some time thinking about it, and said "no." From a Business Insider article: Zuckerberg went on to explain how Facebook is a technology company that gives media companies tools and a platform, not a media company itself. This isn't the first time we've heard him spout a similar rhetoric recently, because it has been a particularly thorny year for Facebook and the news business. Zuckerberg maintains that it isn't a media company because it doesn't create content. Sure, Facebook isn't making journalism (what many people think of when they hear "media company") but it is hosting, distributing, and monetizing content just like a media company. And even what Zuckerberg said -- "When you think about a media company, you know, people are producing content, people are editing content, and that's not us" -- has been more or less true this year depending on how you define producing and editing.
Transportation

65-Year-Old Woman Shoots Down Drone Over Her Virginia Property With One Shot (arstechnica.com) 611

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: Jennifer Youngman, a 65-year-old woman living in rural northern Virginia shot down a drone flying over her property with a single shotgun blast. Ars Technica reports: "Youngman told Ars that she had just returned from church one Sunday morning and was cleaning her two shotguns -- .410 and a .20 gauge -- on her porch. She had a clear view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and neighbor Robert Duvall's property (yes, the same Robert Duvall from The Godfather). Youngman had seen two men set up a card table on what she described as a 'turnaround place' on a country road adjacent to her house. 'I go on minding my business, working on my .410 shotgun and the next thing I know I hear bzzzzz,' she said. 'This thing is going down through the field, and they're buzzing like you would scaring the cows.' Youngman explained that she grew up hunting and fishing in Virginia, and she was well-practiced at skeet and deer shooting. 'This drone disappeared over the trees and I was cleaning away, there must have been a five- or six-minute lapse, and I heard the bzzzzz,' she said, noting that she specifically used 7.5 birdshot. 'I loaded my shotgun and took the safety off, and this thing came flying over my trees. I don't know if they lost command or if they didn't have good command, but the wind had picked up. It came over my airspace, 25 or 30 feet above my trees, and hovered for a second. I blasted it to smithereens.'" Ars goes on to explain that aerial trespassing isn't currently recognized under American law. "The Supreme Court ruled in a case known as United States v. Causby that a farmer in North Carolina could assert property rights up to 83 feet in the air. There is a case still pending on whether or not Kentucky drone pilot, David Boggs, was trespassing when he flew his drone over somebody else's property. "Broggs asked the court to rule that there was no trespassing and that he is therefor entitled to damages of $1,500 for the destroyed drone."
Security

Cyber Security Should Be Expanded To Departments Other Than IT: CII-KPMG (www.bgr.in) 38

An anonymous reader shares a BGR report: Cyber threats today are no longer restricted to a company's communications and IT domains, calling for more than just technical controls to avert attacks and protect the business from future risks and breaches, a new report said. According to the joint report of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and KPMG, cyber security today embraces multiple units of an organization like human resource, supply chain, administration and infrastructure. It, therefore, requires governance at the highest levels. "It is vital to keep pace with the changing regulatory and technology landscape to safeguard and advance business objectives. Working backwards by identifying and understanding future risks, predicting risks and acting ahead of competition, can make a company more robust," said Richard Rekhy, Chief Executive Officer, KPMG, India.
Music

What Jonathan Coulton Learned From The Technology Industry (geekwire.com) 88

In a new article on GeekWire, Jonathan Coulton explains why he left a comfortable software development job in 2005 to launch a career as an online singer-songwriter. But he also describes the things he learned from the tech industry. "These guys were doing this thing they wanted to do, this thing they felt competent doing. They didn't chase after things, and they worked hard, but it was a business they created because they enjoyed it. They tried to minimize the things they didn't want to do. It wasn't about getting rich; it was about getting satisfied...

"I wanted to a set a good example to my children. I wanted to be the person I wanted to be, someone willing to take chances -- a person who didn't live with enormous regrets..." Within the first year, he had not replaced his software salary, but had enough success to cover his babysitter and to keep food on the table.

When he was younger -- in the pre-internet days -- "It was very unclear how to become a musician," Coulton explains. But somehow rolling his own career path eventually led to a life which includes everything from guest appearances on radio shows to an annual cruise with his fans (this year featuring Aimee Mann, Wil Wheaton, and Redshirts author John Scalzi).
Businesses

How G.E. Is Transforming Into An IoT Start-Up (nytimes.com) 112

Slashdot reader mspohr shares an article about "General Electric 're-inventing' itself as a software start-up." Jeffrey R. Immelt, the CEO of America's largest manufacturer, describes how he realized that data collected from their machines -- like turbines, engines, and medical-imaging equipment -- could be as valuable as the machines themselves. Now G.E. is hiring software engineers and data scientists from Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to try to transform the company into a "124-year-old startup" to take advantage of the Internet of Things and offer futuristic new services like predictive maintenance.

The Times calls it "the next battlefield as companies fight to develop the dominant software layer that connects the machines," adding that by 2020 there will be 100 times as much data flowing from G.E.'s machines. Now G.E. Digital is using the open source PaaS, Cloud Foundry, to develop Predix, a cloud-based operating system for industrial applications like monitoring and adjusting equipment in the field, whether it's an oil-field rig or a wind-farm turbine. To help transform the company into a digital powerhouse, they're building a 1,400-employee complex in San Ramon, California "designed to suit the free-range working ways of software developers: open-plan floors, bench seating, whiteboards, couches for impromptu meetings, balconies overlooking the grounds and kitchen areas with snacks." And they've also launched the Industrial Dojo program "to accelerate the ability for developers to contribute code that enables the Industrial Internet".
Robotics

Recent College Grads Aim To Land A Robot On The Moon (thehindu.com) 59

Sunday the Indian Space Research Organization successfully test-launched a scramjet rocket, propelled by "an air-breathing propulsion system which uses hydrogen as fuel and oxygen from the atmosphere air as the oxidizer" rather than carrying a tank of liquid oxygen. "if the need for liquid oxygen is taken away, the space craft can be much lighter, hence cheaper to launch," notes one newspaper, adding that India is only the fourth country to flight-test a scramjet engine after the U.S., Russia and the European Space Agency.

But in addition, 15 former ISRO scientists are now helping Team Indus, one of the 16 teams remaining in Google's $30 million Lunar XPRIZE competition, who will use ISRO's polar satellite launch vehicle to send their spacecraft to the moon. GillBates0 writes: An official designated as "Skywalker", said that such space missions used to be limited to extremely elite people and PhDs in the past. That stereotype is now breaking. "I was just a college student a couple of years ago and now I am working on an actual space mission, how cool is that," said Karan Vaish, 23, who is helping the team to design the lunar rover. Eighty per cent of the team is reported to be less than five years out of college.
Transportation

Domino's Will Deliver Pizza By Drone and By Robot (roboticstrends.com) 76

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes CNN Money's report that "pizzas will soon be dropping from the heavens": Domino's demonstrated its ability to deliver food via a drone Thursday in New Zealand and plans to test actual deliveries to customers next month. "It doesn't add up to deliver a two kilogram package in a two-ton vehicle," said Scott Bush, a general manager for Domino's Pizza Enterprises, which is independent of the U.S. chain and operates in seven countries. "In Auckland, we have such massive traffic congestion it just makes sense to take to the airways."

A Domino's customer who requests a drone delivery will receive a notification when their delivery is approaching. After going outside and hitting a button on their smartphone, the drone will lower the food via a tether. Once the package is released, the drone pulls the tether back up and flies back to the Domino's store.

Robotics Trends has video from the flight, and reports that Domino's is also testing a pizza-delivering robot. Their Domino's Robotics Unit "has four wheels, is less than three feet tall, and has a heated compartment that can hold up to 10 pizzas. It can deliver pizzas within a 12.5-mile radius before needing to be recharged."

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