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Robotics

The DARPA Robotics Challenge Was a Bust; Let's Try Again 4 4

malachiorion writes: The DARPA Robotics Challenge, the biggest and most well-funded international robotics competition in years, was a failure. After years of grueling work on the part of brilliant roboticists around the world, and millions in funding from the Pentagon, the finals came and went with little to no coverage from the mainstream media. The only takeaway, for those who aren't extremely dialed into robotics, is that a ton of robots fell down in funny ways. There were winners, but considering how downgraded the tasks were, compared to the ones initially announced in 2012, it was closer to the first DARPA Grand Challenge, where none of the robot cars finished, than the Urban Challenge, which kicked off the race to build deployable driverless cars. So just as DARPA regrouped after that first fizzle of a race, here's my argument for Popular Science: It's time to do it again, and make falling, and getting up, mandatory.
Businesses

Software Devs Leaving Greece For Good, Finance Minister Resigns 99 99

New submitter TheHawke writes with this story from ZDNet about the exodus of software developers from Greece. "In the last three years, almost 80 percent of my friends, mostly developers, left Greece," software developer Panagiotis Kefalidis told ZDNet. "When I left for North America, my mother was not happy, but... it is what it is." It's not just the software developers quitting either. The Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis also resigned. A portion of his resignation announcement reads: "Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today."
United States

Japanese and US Piloted Robots To Brawl For National Pride 58 58

jfruh writes: Japan may have just lost the Women's World Cup to the U.S., but the country is hoping for a comeback in another competition: a battle between giant robots. Suidobashi Heavy Industry has agreed to a challenge from Boston-based MegaBots that would involve titanic armored robots developed by each startup, the first of its kind involving piloted machines that are roughly 4 meters tall. "We can't let another country win this," Kogoro Kurata, who is CEO of Suidobashi, said in a video posted to YouTube. "Giant robots are Japanese culture."
Transportation

Google's Waze Jumps Into the Ride-Sharing Business 45 45

An anonymous reader writes: Waze, the online mapping company owned by Google, is testing a ride-sharing service in Israel called RideWith. The service will allow commuters to pay drivers for rides to and from work. This is a hard limit — drivers can give no more than two rides per day. If the restriction remains after the initial test, it could be a simple way to avoid pseudo-professional drivers, and all the taxi-related legal problems that go with them (see: Uber). "RideWith calculates a cost based on the anticipated fuel consumption and 'depreciation' based on mileage, and the driver is free to accept or decline the ride accordingly." One can't help but speculate about future involvement with Google's autonomous car project.
Medicine

Ask Slashdot: Have You Tried a Standing Desk? 217 217

An anonymous reader writes: Evidence is piling up that sitting down all day is really bad for you. I work primarily from home, and as I grow older, I'm starting to worry about long term consequences to riding a desk full-time. We talked about this a few years ago, but the science has come a long way since then, and so have the options for standing desks. My questions: do you use a standing desk? What kind of setup do you have? There are a lot of options, and a lot of manufacturers. Further studies have questioned the wisdom of standing all day, so I've been thinking about a standing/sitting combo, and just switching every so often. If you do this, do you have time limits or a particular frequency with which you change from sitting to standing?

I'm also curious about under-desk treadmills — I could manage slowly walking during parts of my work, and the health benefits are easy to measure. Also, any ergonomic tips? A lot of places seem to recommend: forearms parallel to the ground, top of monitor at eye level, and a pad for under your feet. Has your experience been the same? Those of you who have gone all-out on a motorized setup, was it worth the cost? The desks are dropping in price, but I can still see myself dropping upward of $1k on this, easily.
Censorship

Chilling Effect of the Wassenaar Arrangement On Exploit Research 23 23

Bismillah writes: Security researchers are confused as to how the export control and licensing controls covering exploits affect their work. The upcoming Wassenaar restrictions were expected to discourage publication of such research, and now it's already started to happen. Grant Wilcox, writing his dissertation for the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, was forced to take a better-safe-than-sorry approach when it came time to release the vulnerabilities he found in Microsoft's EMET 5.1. "No legal consultation on the matter took place, but Wilcox noted that exploit vendors such as Vupen had started to restrict sales of their products and services because of new export control and licensing provisions under the Wassenaar Arrangement. ... Wilcox investigated the export control regulations but was unable to clarify whether it applied to his academic work. The university did not take part. He said the provisions defining which type of exploits and software are and aren't controlled were written in ambiguous language and appeared to contradict each other."
Windows

First Windows 10 RTM Candidate Appears 99 99

Mark Wilson reports that the first RTM candidate for Windows 10 has been spotted: build 10176. Leaks and sources have suggested the company intends to finalize the operating system later this week, perhaps as early as July 9th. This would give Microsoft almost three weeks to distribute it to retailers and devicemakers before the July 29th launch date. "While the RTM process has been a significant milestone for previous releases of Windows, it’s more of a minor one for Windows 10. Microsoft is moving Windows 10 to a 'Windows as a service' model that means the operating system is regularly updated."
United States

Proposed Regulation Could Keep 3D-printed Gun Blueprints Offline For Good 271 271

SonicSpike sends a report on a proposed update to the International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) regulations which could shut down the sharing of files for 3D printed gun parts over the internet. "Hidden within the proposal, which restricts what gear, technology, and info can and cannot be exported out of the U.S., is a ban on posting schematics for 3D printed gun parts online." This follows a lawsuit from Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed back in May fighting the federal government's command to remove blueprints for the "Liberator" 3D-printed gun from their website. A senior official at the U.S. State Department said, "By putting up a digital file, that constitutes an export of the data. If it's an executable digital file, any foreign interests can get a hold of it."
Space

Pluto Probe Back To Normal, Cause of Snafu Found 60 60

Tablizer writes: NASA has provided an update to the problem with the New Horizons probe that will fly by Pluto next week. "The investigation into the anomaly that caused New Horizons to enter "safe mode" on July 4 has concluded that no hardware or software fault occurred on the spacecraft. The underlying cause of the incident was a hard-to-detect timing flaw in the spacecraft command sequence that occurred during an operation to prepare for the close flyby. No similar operations are planned for the remainder of the Pluto encounter.
Security

Hacking Team Hacked, Attackers Grab 400GB of Internal Data 79 79

Several readers sent word that notorious surveillance company Hacking Team has itself been hacked. Attackers made off with 400GB worth of emails, documents, and source code. The company is known for providing interception tools to government and law enforcement agencies. According to the leaked files, Hacking Team has customers in Egypt, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Lebanon, Mongolia, Russia, Germany, Sudan, and the United States — to name a few. It has been labeled an enemy of the internet by Reporters Without Borders. "Clients have had their passwords exposed as well, as several documents related to contracts and configurations have been circulating online." Nobody knows yet who perpetrated the hack.
Businesses

Silicon Valley Is Filling Up With Ex-Obama Staffers 152 152

HughPickens.com writes: Edward-Isaac Dovere reports in Politico that the fastest-growing chapter of the Obama alumni association is in Silicon Valley. For the people who helped get Obama elected and worked for him once he did, there's something about San Francisco and its environs that just feels right: the emphasis on youth and trying things that might fail, chasing that feeling of working for the underdog, and even using that word "disrupting" to describe what they do. "A lot of people who moved out here were present at the creation of the Obama '08 campaign," says Tommy Vietor. "There's a piece of them that wants to replicate that." Vietor left the White House two years ago, and he and his business partner, former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, founded a communications strategy firm with a focus on speechwriting for tech and other start-ups. "If you're writing for a CEO out here, they're more likely to be your peer than your grandfather," says Vietor. "They're young, they're cool, they get it."

Other former Obama staffers who have come to Silicon Valley include former campaign manager and White House adviser David Plouffe at Uber, Kyle O'Connor at Nest, Semonti Stephens at Twitter; Mike Masserman, at Lyft; Brandon Lepow at Facebook; Nicole Isaac, at LinkedIn; Liz Jarvis-Shean at Civis; Jim Green and Vivek Kundra at Salesforce, Alex McPhillips at Google; Gillian Bergeron, at NextDoor; Natalie Foster at the Institute for the Future; Catherine Bracy at Code for America; Hallie Montoya Tansey at Target Labs. Nick Papas, John Baldo, Courtney O'Donnell and Clark Stevens at AirBnB, and Jessica Santillo at Uber.

There are so many former Obama staffers in the Bay Area that a recent visit by former White House senior adviser David Axelrod served as a reunion of sorts, with more than a dozen campaign and White House veterans gathering over lunch to discuss life after the administration. Obama himself rarely misses an opportunity to come to San Francisco. He says he loves the energy there, loves the people and according to Dovere, the city's ultra-liberal leanings mean he was greeted as a rock star even during the dark days before last year's midterms. Obama's even become friendly with Elon Musk. "There should be a welcome booth at the SFO airport," says Jon Carson, the former Organizing for Action executive director now at SolarCity.
Businesses

Researchers Study "Harbingers of Failure," Consumers Who Habitually Pick Losers 240 240

AmiMoJo writes: Is your favorite TV show always getting cancelled? Did you love Crystal Pepsi? Were you an early adopter of the Zune? If you answered yes to these questions, researchers say you might be a "Harbinger of Failure." In a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, researchers identified a group of consumers whose preferences can predict products that will fail. “Certain customers systematically purchase new products that prove unsuccessful,” wrote the study authors. “Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that a product will fail.”
China

Chinese Zoo Animals Monitored For Earthquake Prediction 29 29

An anonymous reader writes: Seismologists in Nanjing have set up seven observation centers at zoos and animal parks in the region to see if animals can predict when an earthquake may strike. At least three kinds of animals in the earthquake stations should corroborate each other when bizarre behavior occurs, said Zhao Bing, head of Nanjing earthquake monitoring. Discovery reports: "According to one English-language Chinese news outlet, 'At Banqiao ecological park the behavior of around 200 pigs, 2,000 chickens, and fish in a 15-hectare pond are closely monitored to detect signals of an earthquake. Breeders here create daily reports regarding animal behavior for Nanjing's seismological departments.' The news report noted that the park relies 'mainly on employees closely watching the animals' for seismological significance."
Facebook

Brazilian Evangelicals Set Up a "Sin Free" Version of Facebook 220 220

An anonymous reader writes: With $16,000 and the help of the Mayor of Ferraz de Vasconcelos, the town he lives in, Atilla Barros and three other Evangelical Christians created Facegloria, a "sin-free" version of Facebook. Swearing is banned, along with about 600 other words, as well as any violent or erotic content, and depictions of homosexual activity. 100,000 users have signed up the first month. "In two years we hope to get to 10 million users in Brazil. In a month we have had 100,000 and in two we are expecting a big increase thanks to a mobile phone app," Barros says. Acir dos Santos, the mayor, adds: "Our network is global. We have bought the Faceglory domain in English and in all possible languages. We want to take on Facebook and Twitter here and everywhere."
Programming

Linux 4.2-rc1 Is One of the Largest Kernel Releases of Recent Times 94 94

An anonymous reader writes: Linus Torvalds ended the Linux 4.2 kernel merge window today by releasing Linux 4.2-rc1. He quickly wrote, "I thought this release would be one of the biggest ones ever, but it turns out that it will depend on how you count." By most metrics, Linux 4.2 is shaping up to be a very large release. Linux 4.2 is bringing plenty of new features including the new 'AMDGPU' kernel graphics driver, Intel Broxton support, NCQ TRIM improvements, F2FS file-system encryption, new ARM CPU/board support, Renesas R8/300 arch support, and many other additions.