Technology archive for 2016-06-16

Earth Breaks Heat Record Again, but Not by as Much as Before

(3 years ago)
Federal scientists say Earth sizzled to its 13th straight month of record heat in May, but it wasn't quite as much an over-the-top scorcher as previous months

CO2 Levels Likely To Stay Above 400PPM For The Rest of Our Lives, Study Shows

(3 years ago)
An anonymous reader writes: A new study from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere are likely to remain above 400 parts per million (ppm) for many years. Specifically, scientists forecasted that levels would not dip below 400pm in "our lifetimes." The CO2 concentrations of "about 450ppm or lower are likely to maintain warming below 2 degrees Celsius over the 21st century relative to pre-industrial levels." However, lead author on the paper Richard Betts said we could pass that number in 20 years or less. In an article on The Guardian, he said even if we reduce emissions immediately, we might be able to delay reaching 450ppm but "it is still looking like a challenge to stay below 450ppm." El Nino has played a significant role in climbing carbon dioxide levels, but it's likely we'll see higher CO2 levels than the last large El Nino storm during 1997 and 1998 because "manmade emissions" have risen by 25 percent since that storm, according to The Guardian. Met Office experts predicted in November 2015 that in May 2016 "mean concentrations of atmospheric CO2" would hit 407.57ppm -- the actual figure was 407.7ppm. The NOAA reported during 2015 that the "annual growth rate" of CO2 in the atmosphere rose by 3.05ppm. NOAA lead scientist Pieter Tans said, "Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years. It's explosive compared to the natural processes."[..]

Microsoft is Working On Software For The Legal Marijuana Industry

(3 years ago)
An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: Microsoft has announced today that it will partner with Los Angeles-based startup Kind on a system for tracking the legal growing and sale of marijuana. Microsoft will work with the startup on software services for governments tracking legal weed, with Microsoft powering the software through its Azure cloud computing service. "The goal of this relationship is to leverage each company's resources to provide State, County, and Municipalities with purpose built solutions for track and trace ('seed to sale' in the cannabis industry) technology," Kind said in a statement. As reported in The New York Times, this is a pretty significant venture for a corporation publicly journeying into the controversial industry. Growing and selling marijuana is still illegal under the federal government. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Cable Companies Pledge Industry-Wide Commitment But Want Control Over UI

(3 years ago)
The FCC proposed rules to force pay-TV providers to make video programming -- and the right to record video -- available to the makers of third-party apps and devices. Under this model, third-party app and equipment makers would be able to create their own interfaces through which cable TV subscribers could access their programming. On Thursday, cable companies noted that they still cannot fully comply with FCC's attempt to open up the set-top box market, but have resigned themselves to accepting some form of regulation. From an Ars Technica report: Cable companies still aren't giving up on the apps approach, but now they say they would agree to rules that make it mandatory for large operators to build apps providing access to all the video customers subscribe to on a wide range of devices. Pay-TV companies with at least 1 million subscribers would have to follow the mandate. Industry representatives told the FCC that they are open to the commission "enforcing an industry-wide commitment to develop and deploy video 'apps' that all large MVPDs [multichannel video programming distributors] would build to open HTML5 Web standards," they said in an ex parte filing released today. The filing describes meetings with FCC officials involving the cable industry's top lobbyist, National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) CEO Michael Powell, representatives of Comcast and AT&T/DirecTV, and reps from cable networks Vme TV, Revolt TV, and TV One.[..]

Volkswagen Bets Big On Electric Cars, Plans 30 Models By 2025

(3 years ago)
An anonymous reader writes: German automaker Volkswagen plans to deliver 30 electric plug-in models by 2025. The new plan comes in the wake of a devastating emissions scandal that cast doubt on the future of its once-beloved diesel cars. It also exposes the immense challenges that the company will face internally. Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller suggested that Volkswagen Group, whose brands include Audi and Porsche, will "significantly" reduce the number of models it makes and will slash almost $9 billion in spending annually to bolster the bottom line. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Family of U.S. student killed in Paris attacks sues social media companies

(3 years ago)
(Reuters) - The family of a California design student killed in November's attacks in Paris sued Twitter Inc, Google and Facebook Inc, claiming the social media companies provide "material support" to the militant group Islamic State.

The Average Cost of a Data Breach Is Now $4 Million

(3 years ago)
Reader Orome1 writes: The average data breach cost has grown to $4 million, representing a 29 percent increase since 2013, according to a report by Ponemon Institute. Cybersecurity incidents continue to grow in both volume and sophistication, with 64 percent more security incidents reported in 2015 than in 2014. As these threats become more complex, the cost to companies continues to rise. In fact, companies lose $158 per compromised record. Breaches in highly regulated industries like healthcare were even more costly, reaching $355 per record -- a full $100 more than in 2013. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Zuckerberg's philanthropy project makes first major investment

(3 years ago)
(Reuters) - Facebook Inc founder Mark Zuckerberg's philanthropy venture has made its first major investment, leading a funding round in a startup that trains and recruits software developers in Africa.

Alibaba targets $1 trillion in transaction volumes by 2020

(3 years ago)
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is aiming to double its annual transaction volume to over $1 trillion within four years, the firm's chief executive said on Wednesday.

Airbnb gets $1 billion debt facility from U.S. banks: source

(3 years ago)
(Reuters) - Apartment-sharing startup Airbnb Inc has secured a $1 billion debt facility from some big U.S. banks to aid its new services and finance its expansion plans, a source close to the company said.

Municipal Fiber Network Will Let Customers Switch ISPs In Seconds

(3 years ago)
An anonymous reader shares an Ars Technica report: Most cities and towns that build their own broadband networks do so to solve a single problem: that residents and businesses aren't being adequately served by private cable companies and telcos. But there's more than one way to create a network and offer service, and the city of Ammon, Idaho, is deploying a model that's worth examining. Ammon has built an open access network that lets multiple private ISPs offer service to customers over city-owned fiber. The wholesale model in itself isn't unprecedented, but Ammon has also built a system in which residents will be able to sign up for an ISP -- or switch ISPs if they are dissatisfied -- almost instantly, just by visiting a city-operated website and without changing any equipment. Ammon has completed a pilot project involving 12 homes and is getting ready for construction to another 200 homes. Eventually, the city wants to wire up all of its 4,500 homes and apartment buildings, city Technology Director Bruce Patterson told Ars. Ammon has already deployed fiber to businesses in the city, and it did so without raising everybody's taxes. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Arizona-based Space Data Corporation sues Google alleging Project Loon infringes on two of its patents and uses trade secrets shared under NDA in 2007 (Russell Brandom/The Verge)

(3 years ago)
Russell Brandom / The Verge:Arizona-based Space Data Corporation sues Google alleging Project Loon infringes on two of its patents and uses trade secrets shared under NDA in 2007  —  When Google first announced its plan for a balloon-based Wi-Fi system called Project Loon, it was unlike anything most of the world had ever heard.

FBI's face-recognition system searches 411 million photos

(3 years ago)
The FBI has a sprawling face-recognition program that can search more than 411.9 million images of faces, including driver's license, visa and passport databases, according the Government Accountability Office.

38 Community Colleges Launch Entire Degree Programs With Open Educational Resources

(3 years ago)
Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, writing for The Washington Post: A community college reform group has selected a handful of schools in Virginia and Maryland to develop degree programs using open-source materials in place of textbooks, an initiative that could save students as much as $1,300 a year (could be paywalled; alternate source). Such open educational resources -- created using open licenses that let students download or print materials for free -- have gained popularity as the price of print textbooks have skyrocketed, but courses that use the materials remain a novelty in higher education. Achieving the Dream, an education advocacy groups based in Silver Spring, Md., aims to change that by offering $9.8 million in grants to support the development of open-source degree programs at 38 colleges in 13 states. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Coursera Commits 'Cultural Vandalism' As Old Platform Shuts

(3 years ago)
Reader mikejuk writes: Coursera has announced that 30 June is the date when it will shut down the servers hosting courses that were the first, free, offerings on its platform. The new model isn't just a revised interface, it is also a new monetization model, and presumably the decision to throw out all the original free content, by shutting the platform, is motivated by greedy commercialism. You could say that the golden age of the MOOC (a course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people) is over with the early enthusiastic pioneers doing it because they were passionate about their subject and teaching it being replaced by a bunch of "lets teach a course because it's good for my career and ego" with subjects being selected by what will sell.Closing down the old platform is an unnecessary destruction of irreplaceable content. Coursera needs to rethink this policy that goes against everything it originally stood for. The courses affected are from the early days of the MOOC that are likely to be important in the history of their subject. The most relevant for us, but far from the only one, is Geoffrey Hinton's Neural Networks for Machine Learning which gave a "deep" insight into the way he thinks and how neural networks work. Something has to be done to preserve this important record -- they don't have to turn off the servers just because they have a new platform.Dhawal Shah, founder of Class Central has written about ways one can[..]

Pirate Bay Co-Founder Must Pay Record Labels $395,000

(3 years ago)
Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde has run into another setback. The Helsinki District Court has ordered him to pay $395,000 to record labels including Sony, Universal, Warner and EMI, after the music of 60 of their artists has been shared illegally through The Pirate Bay. From a TorrentFreak report:Sunde did not appear in Helsinki to defend himself so the Court handed down a default judgment. He is now ordered to pay the full amount plus costs of around $62,000 (55,000 euros) to the local branch of IFPI. He also faces a fine of one million euros if the content continues to be shared via The Pirate Bay but how he is supposed to do anything about that isn't clear. Sunde and Pirate Bay co-founders Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm owe large sums of money to copyright holders following adverse decisions in cases dating back years. None of those judgments have been satisfied and there's no reason to believe this one will be any different. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Lucasfilm's ILMxLAB and Magic Leap partner to produce mixed-reality Star Wars content (Peter Rubin/Wired)

(3 years ago)
Peter Rubin / Wired:Lucasfilm's ILMxLAB and Magic Leap partner to produce mixed-reality Star Wars content  —  You're used to C-3PO being diplomatic and prissy, wringing his droid hands over any and every little setback.  You're used to him sticking close to R2-D2.  What you're probably not used to, though …

Apple confirms iPad can be used as a hub for HomeKit (Chris Davies/SlashGear)

(3 years ago)
Chris Davies / SlashGear:Apple confirms iPad can be used as a hub for HomeKit  —  Apple's update for HomeKit may make the Apple TV even more important, with its addition of remote access to control things from afar, but it turns out you don't actually need the set-top box.  In an ideal setup - and certainly …
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