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Posts from May, 2014

Proposed SpaceX Spaceport Passes Its Final Federal Environmental Review

May 31

An anonymous reader writes “The proposed SpaceX spaceport in Brownsville, Texas, has passed its final federal environmental review. ‘The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which had raised concerns about possible impact on habitat for some endangered species, ultimately concluded that “the project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed or proposed to be listed species nor adversely modify piping plover critical habitat”. But wildlife officials don’t expect the project to be harmless: Two individual cats, either from the endangered ocelot or jaguarondi species, could be lost as a result of the project in spite of efforts to avoid just that with measures such as posting warning signs along the road leading to the launch site. And federal wildlife officials also anticipate that more than 7 miles of beachfront used by nesting sea turtles could be disturbed by security patrols, though driving is already permitted on the beach.'”

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Amazon Wants To Run Your High-Performance Databases

May 31

jfruh (300774) writes “Amazon is pushing hard to be as ubiquitous in the world of cloud computing as it is in bookselling. The company’s latest pitch is that even your highest-performing databases will run more efficiently on Amazon Web Services cloud servers than on your own hardware. Farming out your most important and potentially sensitive computing work to one of the most opaque tech companies out there: what could possibly go wrong?”

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Happy 95th Anniversary, Relativity

May 31

StartsWithABang (3485481) writes “It’s hard to believe, but there are people alive today who remember a world where Newtonian gravity was the accepted theory of gravitation governing our Universe. 95 years ago today, the 1919 solar eclipse provided the data that would provide the test of the three key options for how light would respond to the presence of a gravitational field: would it not bend at all? Would it bend according to Newton’s predictions if you took the “mass” of a photon to be E/c^2? Or would it bend according to the predictions of Einstein’s wacky new idea? Celebrate the 95th anniversary of relativity’s confirmation by reliving the story.”

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How MIT and Caltech’s Coding Breakthrough Could Accelerate Mobile Network Speeds

May 31

colinneagle (2544914) writes “What if you could transmit data without link layer flow control bogging down throughput with retransmission requests, and also optimize the size of the transmission for network efficiency and application latency constraints? In a Network World post, blogger Steve Patterson breaks down a recent breakthrough in stateless transmission using Random Linear Network Coding, or RLNC, which led to a joint venture between researchers at MIT, Caltech, and the University of Aalborg in Denmark called Code On Technologies. The RLNC-encoded transmission improved video quality because packet loss in the RLNC case did not require the retransmission of lost packets. The RLNC-encoded video was downloaded five times faster than the native video stream time, and the RLNC-encoded video streamed fast enough to be rendered without interruption. In over-simplified terms, each RLNC encoded packet sent is encoded using the immediately earlier sequenced packet and randomly generated coefficients, using a linear algebra function. The combined packet length is no longer than either of the two packets from which it is composed. When a packet is lost, the missing packet can be mathematically derived from a later-sequenced packet that includes earlier-sequenced packets and the coefficients used to encode the packet.”

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YouTube Releases the Google Video Quality Report

May 31

mpicpp (3454017) writes “YouTube has released a tool that can show you how your video-streaming quality compares to your neighbor’s. ‘The Google Video Quality Report is available to people in the U.S. and Canada, where it launched in January. It compares your streaming video quality to three standards: HD Verified, when your provider can deliver HD video consistently at a resolution of at least 720p without buffering or interruptions; Standard Definition, for consistent video streaming at 360p; and Lower Definition, for videos that regularly play at less than 360p or often are interrupted.”

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Scott Adams’s Plan For Building Giant Energy-Generating Pyramids

May 31

LoLobey (1932986) writes “Scott Adams has proposed a pyramid project to save the world via energy generation and tourism. Basically build giant pyramids, miles wide and high, in the desert to generate power via chimney effect and photo voltaics with added features for tourism (he’s planning ahead for when robots take over all the work and we’ll need something to do). He’s had a few “Big Ideas” lately (canals, ice bergs, ion energy).”

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Wikia and Sony Playing Licensing Mind Tricks

May 30

TuringTest (533084) writes “Popular culture website Wikia originally hosted its user-contributed content under a free, sharealike Commercial Commons license (CC-BY-SA). At least as soon as 2003, some specific wikis decided to use the non-commercial CC-BY-NC license instead: hey, this license supposedly protects the authors, and anyone is free to choose how they want to license their work anyway, right? However, in late 2012 Wikia added to its License terms of service a retroactive clause for all its non-commercial content, granting Wikia an exclusive right to use this content in commercial contexts, effectively making all CC-BY-NC content dual-licensed. And today, Wikia is publicizing a partnership with Sony to display Wikia content on Smart TVs, a clear commercial use. A similar event happened at TV Tropes when the site owners single-handedly changed the site’s copyright notice from ShareAlike to the incompatible NonCommercial, without notifying nor requesting consent from its contributors. Is this the ultimate fate of all wikis? Do Creative Commons licenses hold any weight for community websites?”

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Valve’s Steam Machines Delayed, Won’t Be Coming In 2014

May 30

sfcrazy (1542989) writes “Valve has announced that its Steam Machines won’t be available in the market anytime in 2014. The company delayed the release due to ongoing work on the Steam Controller. Valve’s Eric Hope explains on Steam Forums why the work on controller is causing the delay: ‘We’re now using wireless prototype controllers to conduct live playtests, with everyone from industry professionals to die-hard gamers to casual gamers. It’s generating a ton of useful feedback, and it means we’ll be able to make the controller a lot better. Of course, it’s also keeping us pretty busy making all those improvements. Realistically, we’re now looking at a release window of 2015, not 2014.'”

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Report: Verizon Claimed Public Utility Status To Get Government Perks

May 30

An anonymous reader writes “Research for the Public Utility Law Project (PULP) has been released which details ‘how Verizon deliberately moves back and forth between regulatory regimes, classifying its infrastructure either like a heavily regulated telephone network or a deregulated information service depending on its needs. The chicanery has allowed Verizon to raise telephone rates, all the while missing commitments for high-speed internet deployment’ (PDF). In short, Verizon pushed for the government to give it common carrier privileges under Title II in order to build out its fiber network with tax-payer money. Result: increased service rates on telephone users to subsidize Verizon’s ‘infrastructure investment.’ When it comes to regulations on Verizon’s fiber network, however, Verizon has been pushing the government to classify its services as that of information only — i.e., beyond Title II. Verizon has made about $4.4 billion in additional revenue in New York City alone, ‘money that’s funneled directly from a Title II service to an array of services that currently lie beyond Title II’s reach.’ And it’s all legal. An attorney at advocacy group Public Knowledge said it best: ‘To expect that you can come in and use public infrastructure and funds to build a network and then be free of any regulation is absurd….When Verizon itself is describing these activities as a Title II common carrier, how can the FCC look at broadband internet and continue acting as though it’s not a telecommunication network?'”

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Shrinking Waves May Save Antarctic Sea Ice

May 30

sciencehabit (1205606) writes “It’s a nagging thorn in the side of climatologists: Even though the world is warming, the average area of the sea ice around Antarctica is increasing. Climate models haven’t explained this seeming contradiction to anyone’s satisfaction—and climate change deniers tout that failure early and often. But a new paper suggests a possible explanation: Variability in the heights of ocean waves pounding into the sea ice may help control its advance and retreat.”

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