Science & Tech News

California Has Become the First State To Get Over 5% of Its Power From Solar

Slashdot Updates - 5 hours 12 min ago
Lucas123 writes: While the rest of the nation's solar power generation hovers around 1%, California clocked in with a record 5% of power coming from utility-grade (1MW or more) solar power sources, according to a report from Mercom Capital Group and the Energy Information Administration. That's three times the next closest state, Arizona. At the same time, 22 states have yet to deploy even one utility-grade solar power plant, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association. Meanwhile, the rest of the world saw a 14% uptick in solar power installations in 2014 for a total of 54.5GW of capacity, and that figure is expected to grow even faster in 2015. While China still leads the world in new solar capacity, Japan and the U.S. come in as a close second and third, respectively. In the U.S. distributed solar and utility-grade solar installations are soaring as the solar investment tax credit (ITC) is set to expire next year. The U.S. is expected to deploy 8.5GW of new solar capacity in 2015, according to Mercom Capital Group.

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Angry Boss Phishing Emails Prompt Fraudulent Wire Transfers

Slashdot Updates - 6 hours 48 min ago
chicksdaddy writes: Lots of studies have shown that assertiveness works in the professional sphere as well as the personal one. It turns out to work pretty well in the cyber criminal sphere, also. Websense Labs has posted a blog warning of a new round of spear phishing attacks that rely on e-mail messages posing as urgent communications from senior officers to lower level employees. The messages demand that the employees wire funds to a destination account provided in the message. According to Websense, these attacks are low tech. The fraudsters register "typo squatting" domains that look like the target company's domain, but are subtly different. They then set up e-mails at the typo squatted domain designed to mirror legitimate executive email accounts. Like many phishing scams, these attacks rely on the similarities of the domains and often extensive knowledge of key players within the company, creating e-mails that are highly convincing to recipients. The key element of their attack is – simply – "obeisance," Websense notes. "When the CEO or CFO tells you to do something, you do it." The messages were brief and urgent, included (phony) threads involving other company executives and demanded updates on the progress of the transfer, making the request seem more authentic. Rather than ask the executive for clarification (or scrutinize the FROM line), the employees found it easier to just wire the money to the specified account, Websense reports. Websense notes the similarities between the technique used in the latest phishing attack and the grain trading firm Scoular in June, 2014. That company was tricked into wiring some $17 million to a bank in China, with employees believing they were acting on the wishes of executives who had communicated through e-mail.

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UK IP Chief Wants ISPs To Police Piracy Proactively

Slashdot Updates - 8 hours 16 min ago
An anonymous reader sends this report from TorrentFreak: The UK's top IP advisor has published recommendations on how Internet service providers should deal with online piracy. Among other things, he suggested that Internet services should search for and filter infringing content proactively. According to the report, ISPs have a moral obligation to do more against online piracy. Mike Weatherley, a Conservative MP and Intellectual Property Adviser to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, has pushed various copyright related topics onto the political agenda since early last year. Previously Weatherley suggested that search engines should blacklist pirate sites, kids should be educated on copyright ethics, and that persistent file-sharers should be thrown in jail.

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World's Largest Aircraft Seeks Investors To Begin Operation

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 9:06pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Airlander 10 is significantly larger than a 747. It's an airship that incorporates elements of blimps, planes, and hovercraft. Buoyed by a vast volume of helium, it's capable of cruising at a speed of 80 knots. It was built as a military venture, intended to be used for surveillance tasks. But as the war in Afghanistan wound down, government officials found they had no use for the airship. They ended up selling it back to the company who made it for $300,000 — after paying them $90 million to build it. Now, a small group of investors are trying to get it operational, in part to show people how safe the technology can be, and to hopefully spur construction of more airships. They say the Airlander 10 is capable of surviving a missile strike, but visions of the Hindenburg still loom large in our cultural memory.

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The End of College? Not So Fast

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 8:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: The advent of MOOCs, Khan Academy, and the hundreds of other learning sites that have popped up caused many people to predict the decline of expensive, four-year universities. But Donald Heller writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education that most of the people making these claims don't have a good understanding of how actual students are interacting with online classes. He points out that it's a lot easier for a 40-year-old who's in a stable life position, and who has already experienced college-level education to work through an MOOC with ease. But things change when you're asking 18- to 20-year-olds to give up the structure and built-in motivation of a physical university to instead sit at their computer for hours at a time. (The extremely low pass rate for free online courses provides some evidence for this.) Heller also warns that prematurely hailing MOOCs as a replacement for colleges will only encourage governments and organizations to stop investing in institutions of higher learning, which could have dire consequences for education worldwide.

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NSA Worried About Recruitment, Post-Snowden

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 6:02pm
An anonymous reader writes: The NSA employs tens of thousands of people, and they're constantly recruiting more. They're looking for 1,600 new workers this year alone. Now that their reputation has taken a major hit with the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden, they aren't sure they'll be able to meet that goal. Not only that, but the NSA has to compete with other companies, and they Snowden leaks made many of them more competitive: "Ever since the Snowden leaks, cybersecurity has been hot in Silicon Valley. In part that's because the industry no longer trusts the government as much as it once did. Companies want to develop their own security, and they're willing to pay top dollar to get the same people the NSA is trying to recruit." If academia's relationship with the NSA continues to cool, the agency could find itself struggling within a few years.

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Why More 'Star Wars' Actors Don't Become Stars

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 4:20pm
HughPickens.com writes: When you become an actor, landing a role in a movie as big as Star Wars may seem like a dream come true. But Tatiana Siegel and Borys Kit report at The Hollywood Reporter that six movies in, the Star Wars franchise has only spawned one megastar: Harrison Ford, unusual for a series of this magnitude. Neither Ewan McGregor nor Liam Neeson was helped by the franchise and the list of acting careers that never took off is even longer, from original stars Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher to Jake Lloyd (young Anakin Skywalker) and most notably Hayden Christensen, whose star was on the rise when he nabbed 2002's Attack of the Clones. Even Natalie Portman, who already had a hot career before Episodes I-III, admitted she struggled after the exposure. "Everyone thought I was a horrible actress," says Portman. "I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me." So what's the problem? "When you sign up for this, you're signing your life away, and you're keeping yourself from any other franchises out there," says an agent whose client is one of the stars of Episode VII. "They will not let you be in another franchise. They're going to be cranking out a new movie every year. These actors never get to read the script before signing on. They don't even know which [subsequent] one they are in. And then they become known for that role, and it's hard to see them in [another] kind of movie." Still, agents keep pursuing roles in the upcoming films even though newcomers can only command a meager $65,000 to $125,000 for Episode VII. "It secures all involved a place in film history," says agent Sarah Fargo, "and guarantees a huge global audience, enhancing an actor's marketability."

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We're In a Golden Age of Star Trek Webseries Right Now

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 3:59pm
New submitter DakotaSmith writes: io9 has an article explaining why We're Living In The Golden Age Of Star Trek Webseries Right Now. If you're a true geek, you probably already know about Star Trek Continues and Star Trek: Phase II. (If you're a true geek and you don't know about them, run — do not walk, run — to watch "Lolani." Your brain— and more importantly, your heart — will love you for the rest of your life.) But there's more to it than that. A lot more. How about the years'-long wait for Act IV of Starship Exeter : "The Tressaurian Intersection"? Or Yorktown: "A Time to Heal" — an attempt to resurrect an aborted fan film from 1978 starring George Takei? For fans of old-school Star Trek (the ones who pre-date "Trekker" and wear "Trekkie" as a badge of honor), not since 1969 has there been a better time to watch Star Trek: The Original Series. (Oh, and there's plenty content out there for you "Trekkers" and NextGen-era fans. It all varies in quality, but it doesn't take much effort to find them. This is truly a Golden Age. Recognize it and enjoy it while it lasts.)

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Google Unveils the Chromebit: an HDMI Chromebook Dongle

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 3:39pm
An anonymous reader writes: Today Google unveiled a new device: the Chromebit. It's a small compute stick that contains the Rockchip 3288 processor, 2GB RAM, and 16GB of storage — much like a low-end Chromebook. It connects to a TV or monitor through an HDMI port. (It also has a USB port for power and plugging in peripherals.) Google says the Chromebit is their solution for turning any display into a computer, and it will cost under $100. Google also announced a couple of new Chromebooks as well. Haier and Hisense models will cost $150, and an ASUS model with a rotating display will cost $250.

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Mario 64 Remake Receives a DMCA Complaint From Nintendo

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 3:18pm
jones_supa writes: Well, we saw this one coming. Just a couple of days after computer science student Erik Roystan Ross released a free recreation of the first level of Nintendo's 1996 Super Mario 64, Nintendo filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint. It was sent to the content distribution network CloudFlare and the complaint asked to immediately disable public access to the page hosting the remade game. CloudFlare forwarded the complaint to the person hosting Ross' game, after which the hosting provider (a friend of Ross) had to take the game down. Nintendo also sent Ross takedown notices for his downloadable desktop versions of the Bob-Omb Battlefield. Nintendo is famously protective of its copyright, taking issue even with "Let's Play" videos posted on YouTube and threatening to shut down live-streamed Super Smash Bros tournaments."

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12-gram songbird flies for days non-stop over Atlantic

New Scientist - Breaking news - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 3:01pm
The blackpoll warbler migrates up to 2770 kilometres south from North America every year in an epic oceanic three-day flight







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Werewolf plant waits for the light of the full moon

New Scientist - Breaking news - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 3:01pm
A conifer relative that only produces a nectar-like liquid when the moon is full is the first plant ever to sync its pollination to the lunar cycle







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Report: Facebook Tracks Visitors Who Have Opted Out, Violating EU Law

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 2:58pm
itwbennett writes: In a technical analysis (PDF) of Facebook's tracking practices, researchers found that Facebook tracks everyone who visits its site, including people who don't have an account, and even continues to track users and non-users who have opted out of targeted ads. The problem with these practices is that the cookies are placed without consent, which under EU law is only allowed if there is a strict necessity to do so. Facebook disputes the report: "We have explained in detail the inaccuracies in the earlier draft report (after it was published) directly to the Belgian DPA, who we understand commissioned it, and have offered to meet with them to explain why it is incorrect, but they have declined to meet or engage with us."

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Thousand-Year-Old Eye Salve Kills MRSA

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 2:37pm
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists at the University of Nottingham used a recipe from an ancient medical text to successfully kill golden staph bacteria, also known as MRSA, the superbug commonly found in hospitals. Bald's Leechbook calls for leeks, garlic, brass, wine and other ingredients to create an eye salve for curing an infected eyelash. The salve has been found to be effective in killing the MRSA at least as well any modern remedy.

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SCOTUS: GPS Trackers Are a Form of Search and Seizure

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 2:15pm
schwit1 writes: If the government puts a GPS tracker on you, your car, or any of your personal effects, it counts as a search—and is therefore protected by the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court clarified and affirmed that law on Monday, when it ruled on Torrey Dale Grady v. North Carolina (PDF), before sending the case back to that state's high court. The Court's short but unanimous opinion helps make sense of how the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, interacts with the expanding technological powers of the U.S. government. "The only theory we discern [...] is that the State's system of nonconsensual satellite-based monitoring does not entail a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. That theory is inconsistent with this Court's precedents."

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Microsoft Announces Surface 3 Tablet

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 1:32pm
An anonymous reader writes: Today Microsoft announced the latest device in their line of Windows tablets: the Surface 3. The tablet runs a full version of Windows (the troublesome "RT" line has been deprecated), and aims to compete with Apple's iPad. The Surface 3 has a 10.8" screen running at 1920x1280 (note the 3:2 ratio). It's 8.7mm thick and weighs 622 grams (1.27 lbs). They're somewhat vague about the battery life, but they say it will last up to 10 hours "based on video playback." They've also made it possible to charge the device with a standard micro-USB charger. The base device with 64GB storage, 2GB RAM, and Wi-Fi will cost $500, and it'll scale up with more storage, more ram, and 4G LTE connectivity. (It maxes out at 4GB RAM, so any heavy-duty gaming is probably out of the question.) The keyboard is still a separate $130 accessory as well.

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AI interns: Software already taking jobs from humans

New Scientist - Breaking news - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 1:00pm
People have talked about robots taking our jobs for ages. Problem is, they already have – we just didn't notice







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Massive Power Outage Paralyzes Turkey

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 12:50pm
wiredmikey writes: A massive power outage caused chaos and shut down public transport across Turkey on Tuesday, with the government refusing to rule out that the electricity system had been the victim of an attack. The nationwide power cut, the worst in 15 years, began shortly after 10:30 am (0730 GMT) in Istanbul, the state-run Anatolia news agency quoted the Turkey Electricity Transmission Company (TEIAS) as saying. Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said the authorities were investigating whether the power outage was due to a technical failure or cyber-attack. "It is too early to say now if it is because of a technical reason, a manipulation, a faultplay, an operational mistake, or a cyber (attack). We are looking into it... We cannot say they are excluded possibilities."

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Fire ants kill and eat baby caimans as they hatch

New Scientist - Breaking news - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 12:00pm
Tiny insects can overcome young crocodilians in Argentina – and the invasive ants could be an even bigger threat to turtles, birds and deer in the US







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I believe: Your personal guidebook to reality

New Scientist - Breaking news - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 11:00am
Belief is central to science as well as religion – but we rarely stop to think how bizarre it is. Find out what your core values are really built on (full text available to subscribers)







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