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New Horizons Returns Best Images of Pluto's Moons Hydra and Nix

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 17:05
An anonymous reader writes: Over the weekend, the New Horizons probe sent back more data from Pluto, including two of the best images we'll get of its small moons Nix and Hydra. Nix measures about 42km long by 36km wide, and has a large reddish spot on it. The resolution allows us to see features about 3km across. Hydra is slightly bigger, and the pictures were taken with a different instrument, so resolution is a bit better. "Although the overall surface color of Nix is neutral grey in the image, the newfound region has a distinct red tint. Hints of a bull's-eye pattern lead scientists to speculate that the reddish region is a crater. ... Meanwhile, the sharpest image yet received from New Horizons of Pluto's satellite Hydra shows that its irregular shape resembles the state of Michigan. ...Although the overall surface color of Nix is neutral grey in the image, the newfound region has a distinct red tint. Hints of a bull's-eye pattern lead scientists to speculate that the reddish region is a crater." Images have been taken of Styx and Kerberos, the most recently discovered moons of Pluto, but they won't be transmitted back for a while, yet. NASA has also released an image of a mountain range inside Pluto's heart-shaped region.

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Scientists Arm Cells With Tiny Lasers

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 16:23
sciencehabit writes: Scientists have implanted tiny lasers within living cells. A team of physicists and biologists have coaxed a cell to envelop a tiny plastic sphere that acts like a resonant cavity—thus placing a whole laser within a cell (abstract). The spheres are seasoned with a fluorescent dye, so that a zap with one color of light makes them radiate at another color. The light then resonates in the sphere, triggering laser action and amplifying itself. So although demonstrated only in cultured cells, the technique might someday be used to track the movement of individual cells, say, within cancerous tumors.

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CanSat Helps Students Make & Launch Sub-Orbital 'Satellites' (Video)

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 15:42
The Magnitude (motto: "Powered by Curiosity") "Can-sized satellites" aren't technically satellites because they're launched on rockets that typically can't get much higher than 10,000 feet, or as payloads on weather balloons that can hit 100,000+ feet but (obviously) can't go beyond the Earth's atmosphere. But could they be satellites? Sure. Get a rocket with enough punch to put them in orbit and off you go -- something Magnitude Co-founder and CEO Ted Tagami hopes to see happening in his local school district by 2020. Meanwhile, they'll sell you assembled CanSat packages or help you build your own (or anything in between), depending on your schools resources and aspirations. Have a question or an idea? Talk to Ted. He'd love to hear from you. Use the Magnitude Web form or send email to hello at magnitude dot io. Either way works.

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A Month With a Ubuntu Phone

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 14:53
When the first Ubuntu phone came out, reviews were quick to criticize it for its lackluster hardware and unusual take on common mobile software interactions. It's been out for a while, now, and Alastair Stevenson has written about his experiences using it for an entire month. While he doesn't recommend it for phone users who aren't tech savvy, he does say that he began to like it better than Android after adjusting to how Ubuntu does things. From the article: [T]he Ubuntu OS has a completely reworked user interface that replaces the traditional home screen with a new system of "scopes." The scope system does away with the traditional mobile interface where applications are stored and accessed from a central series of homescreens. ... Adding to Ubuntu’s otherworldly, unique feel, the OS is also significantly more touch- and gesture-focused than iOS and Android. We found nearly all the key features and menus on the Meizu MX4 are accessed using gesture controls, not with screen shortcuts. ... Finally, there's my biggest criticism – Ubuntu phone is not smart enough yet. While the app selection is impressive for a prototype, in its infancy Ubuntu phone doesn't have enough data feeding into it, as key services are missing."

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California Legislation May Allow First Responders To Take Out Drones

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 14:11
Required Snark writes: During the recent North Fire that burned vehicles on I-15 in California, firefighters had to suspend aerial operations because of the presence of drone aircraft, according to CNN. Quoting: "Five such 'unmanned aircraft systems' prevented California firefighters from dispatching helicopters with water buckets for up to 20 minutes over a wildfire that roared Friday onto a Los Angeles area freeway that leads to Las Vegas. Helicopters couldn't drop water because five drones hovered over the blaze, creating hazards in smoky winds for a deadly midair disaster, officials said." In response, state officials have introduced legislation that would allow first responders to disable drones in emergency situations. A second bill would allow jail time and fines for drone users that interfere with firefighting efforts. "Senate Bill 168, introduced by Gatto and Sen. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado, would grant 'immunity to any emergency responder who damages an unmanned aircraft in the course of firefighting, air ambulance, or search-and-rescue operations.' Los Angeles County fire Inspector David Dantic declined to comment on the specific legislation, but said his agency's aircraft cannot operate safely if a drone is in the same airspace."

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Google+ Photos To Shut Down August 1

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 13:28
An anonymous reader writes: Now that Google Photos exists separately from Google+, the company is shutting down the Google+ version of Photos starting on August 1. The Android version will be the first to go, followed shortly thereafter by the iOS and web versions. Fortune calls the old Photos app "a relic of the times when the search giant thought its social network Google Plus could become a huge hit."

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Comet Lander Falls Silent; Scientists Fear It Has Moved

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 12:45
vivaoporto writes: European scientists say the Philae comet lander fell silent on Monday, raising fears that it has moved again on its new home millions of miles from Earth. Over the last few weeks, Rosetta has been flying along the terminator plane of the comet in order to find the best location to communicate with Philae. However, over the weekend of 10-11 July, the star trackers struggled to lock on to stars at the closer distances. No contact has been made with Philae since 9 July. The data acquired at that time are being investigated by the lander team to try to better understand Philae's situation. One possible explanation being discussed at DLR's Lander Control Center is that the position of Philae may have shifted slightly, perhaps by changing its orientation with respect to the surface in its current location. The lander is likely situated on uneven terrain, and even a slight change in its position – perhaps triggered by gas emission from the comet – could mean that its antenna position has also now changed with respect to its surroundings. This could have a knock-on effect as to the best position Rosetta needs to be in to establish a connection with the lander. The current status of Philae remains uncertain and is a topic of on-going discussion and analysis. But in the meantime, further commands are being prepared and tested to allow Philae to re-commence operations. The lander team wants to try to activate a command block that is still stored in Philae's computer and which was already successfully performed after the lander's unplanned flight across to the surface to its final location. "Although the mission will now focus its scientific priority on the orbiter, Rosetta will continue attempting – up to and past perihelion – to obtain Philae science packets once a stable link has been acquired," adds Patrick Martin, Rosetta mission manager.

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Ask Slashdot: Do You Use a Smartphone At Work, Contrary to Policy?

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 12:02
Jason McNew writes: I have been in IT since the late '90s, and began a graduate degree in Cyber Security with Penn State two years ago. I have always been interested in how and why users break policies, despite being trained carefully. I have observed the same phenomena even in highly secure government facilities — I watched people take iPhones into highly sensitive government facilities on several occasions. That led me to wonder to what extent the same problem exists in the private sector: Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) are a huge threat to both security and intellectual property. This question has become the subject of a pilot study I am doing for grad school. So, do you use a smart phone or other PED during work hours, even though you are not supposed to? Please let me know, and I will provide the results in a subsequent submission to Slashdot.

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Dieter Moebius, Electronic Music Pioneer, Dead at 71

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 11:39
New submitter Lawrence Bottorff writes: Dieter Moebius, who is credited as a founder of the late-sixties Berlin 'Krautrock' scene, has died at age 71. Krautrock, of course, was hardly rock music, but the protoplasm of a uniquely German avant-garde industrial ambient electronica. Probably his best-known work was with Brian Eno on their famous Cluster collaboration albums. Many believe Cluster (Moebius, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Conny Plank) cemented Eno's path on his laconic, melancholic, New-Age-free ambient sound back in the mid- to late-seventies.

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U. Michigan Opens a Test City For Driverless Cars

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 11:20
An anonymous reader writes: The University of Michigan has opened Mcity, the world's first controlled environment specifically designed to test the potential of connected and automated vehicle technologies that will lead the way to mass-market driverless cars. Mcity is a 32-acre simulated urban and suburban environment that includes a network of roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, streetlights, building facades, sidewalks and construction obstacles. The types of technologies that will be tested at the facility include connected technologies – vehicles talking to other vehicles or to the infrastructure, commonly known as V2V or V2I – and various levels of automation all the way up to fully autonomous, or driverless vehicles.

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Free Tools For Detecting Hacking Team Malware In Your Systems

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 10:41
An anonymous reader writes: Worried that you might have been targeted with Hacking Team spyware, but don't know how to find out for sure? IT security firm Rook Security has released Milano, a free automated tool meant to detect the Hacking Team malware on a computer system. Facebook has also offered a way to discover if your Mac(s) have been compromised by Hacking Team malware: they have provided a specific query pack for its open source OS analysis tool osquery.

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Gmail Spam Filter Changes Bite Linus Torvalds

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 10:21
An anonymous reader points out The Register's story that recent changes to the spam filters that Google uses to pare down junk in gmail evidently are a bit overzealous. Linus Torvalds, who famously likes to manage by email, and whose email flow includes a lot of mailing lists, isn't happy with it. Ironically perhaps, it was only last week that the Gmail team blogged that its spam filter's rate of false positives is down to less than 0.05 per cent. In his post, Torvalds said his own experience belies that claim, and that around 30 per cent of the mail in his spam box turned out not to be spam. "It's actually at the point where I'm noticing missing messages in the email conversations I see, because Gmail has been marking emails in the middle of the conversation as spam. Things that people replied to and that contained patches and problem descriptions," Torvalds wrote.

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LibreOffice Ported To Run On Wayland

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 10:00
An anonymous reader writes: LibreOffice has lost its X11 dependency on Linux and can now run smoothly under Wayland. LibreOffice has been ported to Wayland by adding GTK3 tool-kit support to the office suite over the past few months. LibreOffice on Wayland is now in good enough shape that the tracker bug has been closed and it should work as well as X11 except for a few remaining bugs. LibreOffice 5.0 will be released next month with this support and other changes outlined by the 5.0 release notes.

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