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Updated: 1 hour 41 min ago

Learning Simple Robot Programming With a 'Non-Threatening' Robot Ball (Video)

2 hours 17 min ago
Gobot, it says here, "is a framework for robotics, physical computing, and the Internet of Things, written in the Go programming language." And in today's video, interviewee Adrian Zankich (AKA "Serious Programming Guy at The Hybrid Group") says that an unadorned robot ball -- in this case the Sphero -- is about the least threatening robot you can possibly use to teach entry-level robot programming. Start with Go language? Cylon.js? Use whichever you prefer, Adrian says. Mix and match. It's all fun, and they're both great ways to get into programming for robotics and Internet of Things applications. Open source? You bet. Here's the Hybrid Group's gobot GitHub repository for your perusing pleasure. This (and more) is all in the video, which Tim Lord shot at the recent Solid Conference, where there was a rather high background noise level (but thankfully not high enough to make Adrian hard to understand). And besides the video, there's even more material in the transcript.

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A Real-Time Map of All the Objects In Earth's Orbit

3 hours 6 min ago
rastos1 writes: It started as a passion project in April for 18-year-old James Yoder, an alum of FIRST Robotics, the high school robotics competition. He wanted to learn more about 3D graphics programming and WebGL, a JavaScript API. It's stuffin.space, a real-time, 3D-visualized map of all objects looping around Earth, from satellites to orbital trash. In total, stuffin.space tracks 150,000 objects. Type in a satellite name to scope out its altitude, figure out its age, group satellites by type, and so on.

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Running a Town Over Twitter

3 hours 49 min ago
dkatana writes: You may call Jun an ancient town — it was founded by Romans 2,200 years ago. But Jun's mayor is known worldwide for using the latest technology to run the city. Back in 1999, when he was deputy mayor, the town declared internet a basic universal right for its citizens. And now political parties run "virtual" campaigns without printing posters. But the most impressive accomplishment of Jun's mayor is running the entire town administration and public services using Twitter. He has more followers (350 k) than the mayor of NY. A third of the 3,800 residents have Twitter accounts, and they use the platform to interact with the city administration at all levels.

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NVIDIA Hopes To Sell More Chips By Bringing AI Programming To the Masses

4 hours 32 min ago
jfruh writes: Artificial intelligence typically requires heavy computing power, which can only help manufacturers of specialized chip manufacturers like NVIDIA. That's why the company is pushing its Digits software, which helps users design and experiment with neural networks. Version 2 of digits moves out of the command line and comes with a GUI interface in an attempt to move interest beyond the current academic market; it also makes programming for multichip configurations possible.

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The Mob's IT Department

5 hours 14 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: An article at Bloomberg relates the story of two IT professionals who reluctantly teamed up with an organized criminal network in building a sophisticated drug smuggling operation. "[The criminals were] clever, recruiting Van De Moere and Maertens the way a spymaster develops a double agent. By the time they understood what they were involved in, they were already implicated." The pair were threatened, and afraid to go to the police. They were asked to help with deploying malware and building "pwnies" — small computers capable of intercepting network traffic that could be disguised as power strips and routers. In 2012, authorities lucked into some evidence that led them to investigate the operation. "Technicians found a bunch of surveillance devices on [the network of large shipping company MSC]. There were two pwnies and a number of Wi-Fi keyloggers—small devices installed in USB ports of computers to record keystrokes—that the hackers were using as backups to the pwnies. MSC hired a private investigator, who called PricewaterhouseCoopers' digital forensics team, which learned that computer hackers were intercepting network traffic to steal PIN codes and hijack MSC's containers."

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Siemens Sends Do-Not-Fly Order For Pipistrel's All-Electric Channel Crossing

5 hours 32 min ago
An anonymous reader links to Flyer's coverage of a squabble that seems to feature the aircraft giant Airbus aiming bad sportsmanship in the form of corporate pull against much smaller light aircraft maker Pipistrel, thereby "squashing the ambitions of light aircraft maker Pipistrel to be the first to fly an electric aircraft across the English Channel." Though Pipistrel acquired the flight permissions it anticipated needing in connection with its announced ambition to cross the channel, they've been grounded by allegedly underhanded means: Siemens, which supplies the electric motor used in the craft which was to make the journey, contacted Pipistrel to prohibit over-water flight with that motor (partly German). U.S. Pipistrel dealer Michael Coates believes he knows why (as quoted by Flyer): "Airbus managed to flex their muscle with Siemens who are supplying motors to Pipistrel and have the Pipistrel motor agreement immediately terminated," he said. "The Airbus E-Fan project does not use Siemens motors but it does have Siemens stickers over the side of their aircraft.

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Two-Pounder From Lenovo Might Be Too Light For Comfort

5 hours 57 min ago
MojoKid writes: With the advent of solid state storage and faster, lower-powered processors that require less complex cooling solutions, the average mainstream notebook is rather svelte. Recently, however, Lenovo announced their LaVie Z and LaVie Z 360 ultrabooks and at 1.87 and 2.04 pounds respectively, they're almost ridiculously light. Further, with Core i7 mobile processors and fast SSDs on board, these machines perform impressively well in the benchmarks and real world usage. If you actually pick one up though, both models are so light they feel almost empty, like there's nothing inside. Lenovo achieved this in part by utilizing a magnesium--lithium composite material for the casing of the machines. Though they're incredibly light, the feeling is almost too light, such that they tend to feel a little cheap or flimsy. With a tablet, you come to expect a super thin and light experience and when holding them in one hand, the light weight is an advantage. However, banging on a full-up notebook keyboard deck is a different ball of wax.

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'Severe Bug' To Be Patched In OpenSSL

6 hours 38 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: The Register reports that upcoming OpenSSL versions 1.0.2d and 1.0.1p are claimed to fix a single security defect classified as "high" severity. It is not yet known what this mysterious vulnerability is — that would give the game away to attackers hoping to exploit the hole before the patch is released to the public. Some OpenSSL's examples of "high severity" vulnerabilities are a server denial-of-service, a significant leak of server memory, and remote code execution. If you are a system administrator, get ready to patch your systems this week. The defect does not affect the 1.0.0 or 0.9.8 versions of the library.

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Switzerland Begins Trials of Expensive Postal Drones

7 hours 36 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Swiss Post has beat Amazon, Alibaba and other researchers into drone-based delivery by launching practical drops using a Matternet four-rotored drone this month. However the company says that five years of testing and negotiation with regulators lie ahead before it will be able to offer a commercial drone-based delivery service. Like Google's Project Wing, the Matternet drone in question is mooted as a potential lifeline in post-disaster situations, but from a business point of view the release notes its potential for 'express delivery of goods' — a further indicator that the future of postal drone delivery may be an exclusive and expensive one.

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Crypto Experts Blast Gov't Backdoors For Encryption

8 hours 17 min ago
loid_void writes with a link to a New York Times report about some of the world's best-known cryptography experts, who have prepared a report which concludes that there is no viable technical solution which "would allow the American and British governments to gain "exceptional access" to encrypted communications without putting the world's most confidential data and critical infrastructure in danger." From the article: [T]he government’s plans could affect the technology used to lock financial institutions and medical data, and poke a hole in mobile devices and the countless other critical systems — including pipelines, nuclear facilities, the power grid — that are moving online rapidly. ... “The problems now are much worse than they were in 1997,” said Peter G. Neumann, a co-author of both the 1997 report and the new paper, who is a computer security pioneer at SRI International, the Silicon Valley research laboratory. “There are more vulnerabilities than ever, more ways to exploit them than ever, and now the government wants to dumb everything down further.” The authors include Neumann, Harold Abelson, Susan Landau, and Bruce Schneier.

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The IT Containers That Went To War

9 hours 2 min ago
1sockchuck writes: Parachuting a container full of IT gear into a war zone is challenging enough. In the mountains of Afghanistan, helicopters had to deliver modular data centers in three minutes or less, lest the choppers be targeted by Taliban rockets. UK vendor Cannon recently spoke with DataCenterDynamics, sharing some of the extreme challenges and lessons learned from deploying portable data centers for military units in deserts and mountains. The same lessons (except, hopefully, with a lower chance of being shot) would apply in lots of other extreme enviroments, too.

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Eric Holder Says DoJ Could Strike Deal With Snowden; Current AG Takes Hard Line

9 hours 43 min ago
cold fjord writes with the report at Yahoo that Former Attorney General Eric Holder said today that a "possibility exists" for the Justice Department to cut a deal with ... Edward Snowden that would allow him to return to the United States ... Holder said "we are in a different place as a result of the Snowden disclosures" and that "his actions spurred a necessary debate" that prompted President Obama and Congress to change policies ... "I certainly think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with. I think the possibility exists." A representative of current Attorney General Loretta Lynch, though, said that there has been no change in the government's position ("This is an ongoing case so I am not going to get into specific details but I can say our position regarding bringing Edward Snowden back to the United States to face charges has not changed."), Holder's musings aside. As the article points out, too, "any suggestion of leniency toward Snowden would likely run into strong political opposition in Congress as well as fierce resistance from hard-liners in the intelligence community."

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Hacking Team Scrambling To Limit Damage Brought On By Explosive Data Leak

10 hours 25 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Who hacked Hacking Team, the Milan-based company selling intrusion and surveillance software to governments, law enforcement agencies and (as it turns out) companies? A hacker who goes by "Phineas Fisher" claims it was him (her? them?). In the meantime, Hacking Team is scrambling to minimize the damage this hack and data leak is doing to the company. They sent out emails to all its customers, requesting them to shut down all deployments of its Remote Control System software ("Galileo") — even though it seems they could do that themselves, as the customer software apparently has secret backdoors. Perhaps they chose the first route because they hoped to keep that fact hidden from the customers? And because every copy of Hacking Team's Galileo software is secretly watermarked, the leaked information could allow researchers to link a certain backdoor to a specific customer.

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Scientists Show Human Aging Rates Vary Widely

11 hours 27 min ago
HughPickens.com writes: Ever notice at your high school reunions how some classmates look ten years older than everybody else — and some look ten years younger. Now BBC reports that a study of people born within a year of each other has uncovered a huge gulf in the speed at which human bodies bodies age. The report tracked traits such as weight, kidney function and gum health and found that some of the 38-year-olds in the study were aging so badly that their "biological age" was on the cusp of retirement. "They look rough, they look lacking in vitality," says Prof Terrie Moffitt. The study says some people had almost stopped aging during the period of the study, while others were gaining nearly three years of biological age for every twelve months that passed. "Any area of life where we currently use chronological age is faulty, if we knew more about biological age we could be more fair and egalitarian," says Moffitt. The researchers studied aging in 954 young humans, the Dunedin Study birth cohort, tracking multiple biomarkers across three time points spanning their third and fourth decades of life. They developed and validated two methods by which aging can be measured in young adults, one cross-sectional and one longitudinal. According to Moffit the science of healthspan extension may be focused on the wrong end of the lifespan; rather than only studying old humans, geroscience should also study the young. "Eventually if we really want to slow the process of ageing to prevent the onset of disease we're going to have to intervene with young people."

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Judge Dismisses Second Conviction of Ex-Goldman Sachs Coder

11 hours 50 min ago
itwbennett writes: Back in May, former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov was convicted by a jury for stealing 32MB of code for Goldman's high-frequency trading system, code that Aleynikov maintained he copied for intellectual pursuits and was, in fact, open-source. On Monday, Judge Daniel P. Conviser of New York's State Supreme Court dismissed the conviction, saying that Aleynikov acted wrongfully by taking the code, but his actions did not meet the standard under the law in which he was charged. "The evidence did not prove he intended to appropriate all or a major portion of the code's economic value," Conviser wrote.

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Even the "Idea Person" Should Learn How To Code

12 hours 36 min ago
theodp writes: "A few months ago," writes Steph Rhee, "I was at a dinner with a dozen students and a 60-year-old entrepreneur who made himself a fortune on Wall Street. At the time, I was a junior at Yale and the only person at the table studying a computer-related major. We went around saying what our big dreams were. When I said that I'm studying computer science because I want to be a software engineer and hope to start my own company one day, he said, 'Why waste so many years learning how to code? Why not just pay someone else to build your idea?'" But Rhee isn't buying into the idea of the look-Ma-no-tech-skills "idea person." "We must not neglect the merits of technical skills in the conception of the 'idea person,'" she argues. "What the 60-year old entrepreneur and others of his generation — the people in control of the education we receive — don't realize is this: for college students dreaming of becoming unicorns in Silicon Valley, being an 'idea person' is not liberating at all. Being able to design and develop is liberating because that lets you make stuff. This should be a part of what we see in the 'idea person' today and what it means to be 'right' when designing an undergraduate curriculum."

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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Find Jobs That Offer Working From Home?

14 hours 29 min ago
jez9999 writes: I'm a software developer in the UK, and I've found that it's very rare (maybe 5% of the time) to find an employer that will even consider any working from home, let alone for the majority of the time. I see it as a win-win; you're able to work in the home environment you are most productive in, and you can use the time you would've been commuting to work a bit longer for the employer. Not only that, but you're not adding to road congestion either. Skype, etc. make communication with coworkers a snap these days. So how do you go about finding homeworking jobs? Is it better to demand it from the get-go, or wait a few months and then ask for it? Is it more common than 5% of jobs in the US (in which case I guess it's a cultural thing the UK needs to catch up with)?

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Mozilla's Plans For Firefox: More Partnerships, Better Add-ons, Faster Updates

17 hours 1 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla is reexamining and revamping the way it builds, communicates, and decides features for its browser. In short, big changes are coming to Firefox. Dave Camp, Firefox's director of engineering, sent out two lengthy emails, just three minutes apart: Three Pillars and Revisiting how we build Firefox. Both offer a lot more detail into what Mozilla is hoping to achieve.

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Extreme Reduction Gearing Device Offers an Amazing Gear Ratio

19 hours 31 min ago
ErnieKey writes: The 3D printed extreme reduction gearing device, created by long-time puzzle maker M. Oskar van Deventer, may leave you puzzled for its obvious applications, but the coaxial cranking mechanism offers potential in a variety of real-world applications with multi-colored gears that move in opposite directions at a ratio of 11,373,076 : 1. This 3D printed reduction gearing device is compact and multi-colored, and looks deceivingly simple at first glance. Developed through a complex algorithm, it could possibly offer potential as parts for machines like 3D printers, aerospace and automotive components, as well as perhaps robotics and a variety of motors.

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Click-Fraud Trojan Politely Updates Flash On Compromised Computers

Mon, 07/06/2015 - 22:07
jfruh writes: Kotver is in many ways a typical clickfraud trojan: it hijacks the user's browser process to create false clicks on banner ads, defrauding advertisers and ad networks. But one aspect of it is unusual: it updates the victim's installation of Flash to the most recent version, ensuring that similar malware can't get in.

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