Tech Today w/ Ken May

Featured entries

Rolls-Royce expects remote-controlled cargo ships by 2020

Posted by kenmay on June - 27 - 2016

Rolls-Royce isn’t limiting its robotic transportation plans to luxury cars . The British transportation firm has outlined a strategy for deploying remote-controlled and autonomous cargo vessels. It’s working on virtual decks where land-based crews could control every aspect of a ship, complete with VR camera views and monitoring drones to spot issues that no human ever could. Accordingly, Rolls is designing boats where humans wouldn’t have to come aboard. In theory, one human would steer several boats — crew shortages would disappear overnight. The move to crew-free ships promises more than a few advantages, Rolls says. You wouldn’t need a bridge or living quarters, so you’d have much more room for the goods you’re hauling. They’d be safer and more efficient, too, since you’d cut out many human errors (not to mention the direct risks from rough weather and pirates) and streamline operations. Robotic ships might cut the number of available jobs, but they would let distant crews handle more complex tasks without being overwhelmed. Some of Rolls’ concepts are more Star Trek than real life at the moment (its imagery includes interactive holograms), but this isn’t just a theoretical exercise. One ship, the Stril Luna, already has a smart Unified Bridge system in place for coordinating all its equipment. The aim is to launch the first remote-controlled cargo ships by 2020, and to have autonomous boats on the water within two decades. All told, civilians might only have to head out to sea for pleasure cruises . Via: Daily Mail Source: Rolls-Royce

A New ‘Quake’ Episode Appears 20 Years Later

Posted by kenmay on June - 27 - 2016

An anonymous reader quotes this report from Motherboard: The months leading up to this year’s phenomenal reboot of Doom were stuffed with all kinds of fun developments surrounding the original series, whether it was mods that let you play as Duke Nukem or whole new levels from famed designer John Romero. There’s now a new Quake game in the works, and already it appears to be enjoying a similar renaissance. Yesterday MachineGames, the studio behind Wolfenstein: The New Order, released an entirely new episode for the original Quake in celebration of its 20-year anniversary, and you can play it entirely for free. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Long-time Slashdot reader itwbennett writes: Lenovo is advising users to upgrade to version 3.3.003 of Lenovo Solution Center (LSC), which includes fixes for two high-severity vulnerabilities in the tool. [The tool] allows users to check their system’s virus and firewall status, update their Lenovo software, perform backups, check battery health, get registration and warranty information and run hardware tests. The CVE-2016-5249 vulnerability allows an attacker who already has control of a limited account on a PC to execute malicious code via the privileged LocalSystem account. And the CVE-2016-5248 vulnerability allows any local user to send a command to LSC.Services.SystemService in order to kill any other process on the system, privileged or not. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Two hours or so of WWDC keynoting and Tim Cook didn’t mention a new file system once? (credit: Andrew Cunningham) This article was originally published on Adam Leventhal’s blog in multiple parts . Apple announced a new file system that will make its way into all of its OS variants ( macOS , tvOS , iOS , watchOS ) in the coming years. Media coverage to this point has been mostly breathless elongations of Apple’s developer documentation . With a dearth of detail I decided to attend the presentation and Q&A with the APFS team at WWDC. Dominic Giampaolo and Eric Tamura, two members of the APFS team, gave an overview to a packed room ; along with other members of the team, they patiently answered questions later in the day. With those data points and some first-hand usage I wanted to provide an overview and analysis both as a user of Apple-ecosystem products and as a long-time operating system and file system developer. The overview is divided into several sections. I’d encourage you to jump around to topics of interest or skip right to the conclusion (or to the tweet summary ). Highest praise goes to encryption; ire to data integrity. Read 48 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Axiom Plans A New Private-Sector Outpost in Space

Posted by kenmay on June - 26 - 2016

A seed-funded company named Axiom wants to build a private-sector outpost in orbit by launching a new module for the International Space Station, according to an article on Space News. Once on the station, Axiom Space would use it for commercial purposes, ranging from research to tourism. [Former space station manager] Suffredini said that it would also be available for use by NASA when the company is not using it, helping the process of transitioning research done on the International Space Station to future private stations. Research hardware elsewhere in the station could eventually be moved to this module to allow its continued use after the station’s retirement. Slashdot reader MarkWhittington shares an article from Blasting News: In the meantime, Nanoracks, a company that is already handling some of the logistics for the ISS, is proposing a commercial airlock for the ISS. The development of commercial space stations, as well as commercial spacecraft such as the SpaceX Dragon and the Boeing Starliner, constitutes NASA’s long-term strategy of handing off low-Earth orbit to the private sector while it concentrates on deep space exploration. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

After Death, Hundreds of Genes Spring Back to Life

Posted by kenmay on June - 26 - 2016

Two surprising studies reveal new information about what genes do after death. Slashdot reader gurps_npc writes: You think your body stops after death, but up to two days later certain genes may turn on and start doing stuff for another two days before they give up the ghost. We are all zombies for up to four days after death. Gizmodo reports that in fact “hundreds” of genes apparently spring back to life. “[P]revious work on human cadavers demonstrated that some genes remain active after death, but we had no idea as to the extent of this strange phenomenon.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Beware this new Los Angeles attraction if you’re afraid of heights. I know I am because nope. Read more…

The IRS has abandoned a system of PIN numbers used when filing tax returns online after they detected “automated attacks taking place at an increasing frequency, ” adding that only “a small number” of taxpayers were affected. An anonymous reader quotes the highlights from Engadget: The IRS chose not to kill the tool back in February, since most commercial tax software products use it… If you’ll recall, identity thieves used malware to steal taxpayers’ info from other websites, which was then used to generate 100, 000 PINs, back in February… This time, the IRS detected “automated attacks taking place at an increasing frequency” thanks to the additional defenses it added after that initial hack… the agency determined that it would be safer to give up on a verification method that’s scheduled for the chopping block anyway. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Since the Uber and Lyft ride-sharing apps stopped service in Austin, drunk driving has increased, riders are hunting for alternatives, and the police are conducting undercover sting operations against unauthorized ride-sharing drivers. With Chicago also considering new restrictions on ride-sharing apps, Slashdot reader MarkWhittington shares this report from Austin: With thousands of drivers and tens of thousands of riders who once depended on ride-sharing services in a lurch, a group called Arcade City has tried to fill the void with a person-to-person site to link up drivers and riders who then negotiate a fare. Of course, according to a story on KVUE, the Austin city government, and the police are on the case. The Austin Police Department has diverted detectives and resources to conduct sting operations on ride-sharing drivers who attempt to operate without official sanction. Undercover operatives will arrange for a ride with an Arcade City driver and then bust them, impounding their vehicle and imposing a fine. “The first Friday and Saturday after Uber was gone, we were joking that it was like the zombie apocalypse of drunk people, ” one former ride-sharing driver told Vocative.com. Earlier this month the site compared this year’s drunk driving arrests to last years — and discovered that in the three weeks since Uber and Lyft left Austin, 7.5% more people have been arrested for drunk driving. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Four crops grown in simulated Martian soil are safe to eat

Posted by kenmay on June - 25 - 2016

We’re still not sure if we can Mark Watney our way through a Martian mission , because soil on the red planet contains heavy metals toxic to humans, including lead and arsenic. A team of scientists from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, however, found out that radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes grown in Martian soil are safe to eat after years of research. The scientists have been growing different types of plants in soil that NASA developed to simulate what’s found on the red planet since 2013. While they haven’t exactly eaten any of them yet — and team leader Wieger Wamelink admits radishes are still best grown on Earth — they confirmed that these four can grow on Mars without absorbing dangerous levels of heavy metals. The researchers’ work isn’t done yet, especially since NASA and various private space corporations have already begun planning manned missions. They’re also growing six other crops, including potatoes, which still have to be tested for heavy metal content. The currently running a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for their project. first #potato flower on Mars soil simulant, to feed the human #Martians , including #Whatney https://t.co/EZK76clZHr pic.twitter.com/qQoRAlzy5u — Wieger Wamelink (@wamelink_wieger) May 16, 2016 Harvest of green beans on #Mars and # moon soil simulants pic.twitter.com/lNUJZlPQ50 — Wieger Wamelink (@wamelink_wieger) May 31, 2016 #peas on #Mars and #moon soil simulant at @WageningenUR . On the moon you will be a bit hungry, sorry about that. pic.twitter.com/qAlht1esZS — Wieger Wamelink (@wamelink_wieger) June 20, 2016 #cress on #Mars and #moon soil simulant at @WageningenUR . they looked and smelled tasty. pic.twitter.com/TvNKwfnTuk — Wieger Wamelink (@wamelink_wieger) June 20, 2016 Source: The Guardian , Physorg , Wageningen University