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Modular Hive Homes Win Mars Base Design Competition

Aug 20

In June, we discussed news that JPL and MakerBot were teaming up to host a competition for designing a futuristic Mars base. The competition is now over, and the top three designs have been chosen. First place went to Noah Hornberger, who designed a base with hexagonal rooms and shielding made of depleted uranium. Second place went to a martian pyramid with an aquaponics system on top, mirror-based solar collectors, central water storage, and compartmentalized living spaces. The third place award went to Chris Starr for his Mars Acropolis, which was styled upon the ancient Greek Acropolis. It has a water tower at the top of the structure, a series of greenhouses at the bottom, and living quarters in between. The full list of 227 entries is browse-able on Thingiverse.

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Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board

Aug 20

jones_supa writes: After leaving his position as CEO of Microsoft a year ago, Steve Ballmer has still held a position as a member of the board of directors for the company. Now, he is leaving the board, explaining why in a letter to fresh Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “I have become very busy,” Ballmer explains. “I see a combination of Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking up a lot of time.” Despite his departure, the former-CEO is still invested in the company’s success, and he spent most of the letter encouraging Nadella and giving advice. Nadella shot back a supportive, equally optimistic response, promising that Microsoft will thrive in “the mobile-first, cloud-first world.”

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At Home with Tim O’Reilly (Videos 1 and 2 of 6)

Aug 20

Wikipedia says Tim O’Reilly “is the founder of O’Reilly Media (formerly O’Reilly & Associates) and a supporter of the free software and open source movements.” And so he is. O’Reilly Media is also the company from which Make magazine and the assorted Maker Faires sprang, before spinning off into an ongoing presence of their own. (This year’s Solid conference, as well as the confluence of hardware and software at OSCON demonstrate O’Reilly’s ongoing interest in the world of makers, though.) O’Reilly has been a powerful force in technical book publishing, popularized the term Web 2.0, and has been at least a godfather to the open source movement. He’s also an interesting person in general, even more so when he’s hanging out at home than when he’s on stage at a conference or doing a formal interview. That’s why we were glad Timothy Lord was able to get hold of Tim O’Reilly via Hangout while he was in a relaxed mood in a no-pressure environment, happy to give detailed responses based on your questions, from small (everyday technology) to big (the Internet as “global brain”). We’ve run a few two-part videos, but this is the first time we’ve split one video into six parts — with two running today, two tomorrow, and two Thursday. But then, how many people do we interview who have had as much of an effect on the nature of information transmission — as opposed to just publishing — as Tim O’Reilly? We don’t know for sure, but there’s a good chance that O’Reilly books are owned by more Slashdot readers than books from any other publisher. That alone makes Tim O’Reilly worth listening to for nearly an hour, total. (Alternate Video Links: Video 1 ~ Video 2; transcript below covers both videos.)

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German Intelligence Spying On Allies, Recorded Kerry, Clinton, and Kofi Annan

Aug 20

cold fjord writes: According to Foreign Policy, “The revelation that Germany spies on Turkey, a NATO member, should dispel any notion that spying on allies violates the unwritten rules of international espionage. … For nearly a year, the extent of NSA surveillance on German leaders … has drawn stern rebuke from the German political and media establishment. … Merkel went so far as to publicly oust the CIA station chief in Berlin. ‘Spying among friends is not at all acceptable,’ Merkel said. … [C]alls made by Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were accidentally recorded. … ‘It’s a kind of delightful revelation given the fact that the Germans have been on their high horse.’ Christian Whiton, a former … State Department senior advisor, added that the report on German spying is a perfect example of why rifts over intelligence among allies should be handled quietly and privately.” The Wall Street Journal adds, “Cem Özdemir, the head of the Green party and a leading German politician of Turkish descent, told Spiegel Online it would be ‘irresponsible’ for German spies not to target Turkey given its location as a transit country for Islamic State militants from Europe.” Further details at Spiegel Online and The Wall Street Journal.”

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Google’s Driverless Cars Capable of Exceeding Speed Limit

Aug 20

mrspoonsi sends a report about how Google’s autonomous vehicles handle speed limits. It’s easy to assume that driverless cars will simply be programmed never to exceed a posted speed limit, but Google has found that such behavior can actually be less safe than speeding a bit. Thus, they’ve allowed their cars to exceed the speed limit by up to 10 miles per hour. In July, the U.K. government announced that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads from January next year. In addition, ministers ordered a review of the U.K.’s road regulations to provide appropriate guidelines. This will cover the need for self-drive vehicles to comply with safety and traffic laws, and involve changes to the Highway Code, which applies to England, Scotland and Wales. Commenting on Google self-drive cars’ ability to exceed the speed limit, a Department for Transport spokesman said: “There are no plans to change speed limits, which will still apply to driverless cars.” In a separate development on Monday, the White House said it wanted all cars and light trucks to be equipped with technology that could prevent collisions.

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FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

Aug 20

New submitter ErnieKey writes: Farming has been stuck in a bit of a rut, when compared to other industries. Businesses across the globe have been innovating for decades, while farming has been using techniques that have been handed down from centuries ago. The FarmBot Foundation is creating a machine, similar to that of a CNC mill and/or 3D printer, which is capable of being run by sophisticated software and equipped with any tools you can imagine, including seed injectors, plows, burners, robotic arms (for harvesting), cutters, shredders, tillers, discers, watering nozzles, sensors and more. The goal? To increase food production by automating as much of it as possible.

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Phoenix Introduces Draft Ordinance To Criminalize Certain Drone Uses

Aug 20

Fubar writes: Two city council members from Phoenix, AZ are introducing “draft language” for public discussion that would make it illegal to use a drone to film people without their knowledge. The council members are worred about privacy of people in their own yards, even including the requirement that law enforcement obtain a warrant for drone surveillance. A violation of the ordinance would be a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries up to a $2,500 fine and six months in jail.

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Introducing Slashdot’s New Build Section

Aug 20

Along with the rest of the mix that makes this site work, Slashdot has nearly two decades now of spotting and showing off interesting projects, inventions, technologies, and hobbies. Some of them are strictly personal, some are frankly commercial, and some are the fruits of ambitious organizations (or tiny teams) motivated by curiosity and passion (or even politics, or just plain fun). As outlined earlier, we’ve been gathering a lot of these into our new Build section; read on to learn a bit more about what that includes. (And watch out later today for the first part of our conversation with technology-inspiring Rennaisance Man Tim O’Reilly, and later in the week for answers to the questions you asked Bunnie Huang.)

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New HP Laptop Would Mean Windows at Chromebook Prices

Aug 20

New submitter nrjperera (2669521) submits news of a new laptop from HP that’s in Chromebook (or, a few years ago, “netbook”) territory, price-wise, but loaded with Windows 8.1 instead. Microsoft has teamed up with HP to make an affordable Windows laptop to beat Google Chromebooks at their own game. German website Mobile Geeks have found some leaked information about this upcoming HP laptop dubbed Stream 14, including its specifications. According to the leaked data sheet the HP Stream 14 laptop will share similar specs to HP’s cheap Chromebook. It will be shipped with an AMD A4 Micro processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of flash storage and a display with 1,366 x 768 screen resolution. Microsoft will likely offer 100GB of OneDrive cloud storage with the device to balance the limited storage option.

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C++14 Is Set In Stone

Aug 20

jones_supa (887896) writes “Apart from minor editorial tweaks, the ISO C++14 standard can be considered completed. Implementations are already shipping by major suppliers. C++14 is mostly an incremental update over C++11 with some new features like function return type deduction, variable templates, binary literals, generic lambdas, and so on. The official C++14 specification release will arrive later in the year, but for now Wikipedia serves as a good overview of the feature set.”

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