Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for April 13th, 2017

An anonymous reader writes: Allegro MicroSystems LLC is suing a former IT employee for sabotaging its database using a “time bomb” that deleted crucial financial data in the first week of the new fiscal year. According to court documents, after resigning from his job, a former sysadmin kept one of two laptops. On January 31, Patel entered the grounds of the Allegro headquarters in Worcester, Massachusetts, just enough to be in range of the factory’s Wi-Fi network. Allegro says that Patel used the second business-use laptop to connect to the company’s network using the credentials of another employee. While connected to the factory’s network on January 31, Allegro claims Patel, who was one of the two people in charge of Oracle programming, uploaded a “time bomb” to the company’s Oracle finance module. The code was designed to execute a few months later, on April 1, 2016, the first week of the new fiscal year, and was meant to “copy certain headers or pointers to data into a separate database table and then to purge those headers from the finance module, thereby rendering the data in the module worthless.” The company says that “defendant Patel knew that his sabotage of the finance module on the first week of the new fiscal year had the maximum potential to cause Allegro to suffer damages because it would prevent Allegro from completing the prior year’s fiscal year-end accounting reconciliation and financial reports.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Scientists are increasingly confident that an ocean below the icy surface of Enceladus could support life. (credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA) The prospects for life existing in our Solar System beyond Earth, and finding it within a decade or two, improved with two scientific findings announced Thursday by NASA. The space agency confirmed the presence of hydrogen in plumes emanating from Saturn’s small moon Enceladus, and it also reported that plumes are very likely to exist on Jupiter’s moon Europa. Both of these findings are significant. It means not only that most of the ingredients required for life must exist in the oceans of Enceladus but also that a pair of probes being planned to explore Europa will have a much better chance of finding any life there. In something of an understatement, NASA’s Jim Green, who oversees the agency’s planetary exploration plans, said, “This is a very exciting time to be exploring the Solar System.” The findings buttress a recent focus by NASA on bulking up a program to explore these ocean worlds in the outer Solar System, including Enceladus, Europa and Saturn’s methane-covered moon Titan. This has been a principal aim, in particular, for Texas Republican John Culberson, who serves as chairman of the House subcommittee over NASA’s budget. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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These (Real) New Moisture Harvesters Belong on Tatooine

Posted by kenmay on April - 13 - 2017

Luke Skywalker’s home planet isn’t the only place in need of moisture farms to harvest water. Here on Earth, with our deserts and droughts, we’ve got tons of folks in need of fresh, drinkable H20. Read more…

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Three years ago, Kevin Bates created a Tetris -playing business card to showcase his engineering skills to potential employers. But his creation quickly went viral on the internet, and everyone reminiscing about their beloved childhood Game Boy clamored for their own. After testing the waters with the equally tiny… Read more…

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Pirate Bay Founder: ‘I Have Given Up’

Posted by kenmay on April - 13 - 2017

The future of illegal torrent websites doesn’t look good. As torrent websites continue to disappear, the founder of The Pirate Bay believes the trend is the just the beginning. From an article: While it might look like torrenters are are still fighting this battle, Sunde claims that the reality is more definitive: “We have already lost.” Take the net neutrality law in Europe. It’s terrible, but people are happy and go like “it could be worse.” That is absolutely not the right attitude. Facebook brings the internet to Africa and poor countries, but they’re only giving limited access to their own services and make money off of poor people. Well, I have given up the idea that we can win this fight for the internet. The situation is not going to be any different, because apparently that is something people are not interested in fixing. Or we can’t get people to care enough. Maybe it’s a mixture, but this is kind of the situation we are in, so its useless to do anything about it. We have become somehow the Black Knight from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. We have maybe half of our head left and we are still fighting, we still think we have a chance of winning this battle. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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 Microsoft just sent out invites to members of the media for its big reveal of Xbox Project Scorpio, the upgraded console that will be the “first true 4K console for gamers” according to the company. We’ve long expected E3’s press event to be the big consumer debut for Scorpio, but Microsoft spelled out that it will indeed be the star of the show in a blog post on… Read More

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Brian Fagioli, writing for BetaNews: Ubuntu 17.04 “Zesty Zapus” is available for download. No, this is not an Alpha or Beta, but an official stable version of the Linux-based operating system. Unfortunately, the release is a bit tainted — it uses Unity as the official desktop environment, which Canonical has announced will be killed. Not to mention, there has been some controversy regarding some comments by Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth. Just yesterday, the CEO of Canonical announced she is leaving the position. With all of the aforementioned controversy and chaos, it is understandably hard to get too excited for “Zesty Zapus, ” especially as this is not a long term support version. With that said, if you are an existing Ubuntu user that likes Unity, this is certainly a worthwhile upgrade if you are OK with the shorter support. Unity may no longer have a future, but version 7 will continue to be supported — for a while, at least. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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California will start charging electric vehicle fees in 2020

Posted by kenmay on April - 13 - 2017

While some states are still offering incentives for electric vehicle buyers, California will soon become the biggest state to start charging fees for EV ownership. California is estimated to account for about half of the country’s EV sales, so the state is keen on recuperating some of the money it won’t be making from gasoline taxes. The fees will take effect starting with 2020 model year plug-in vehicles, Autoblog reports . Those vehicles will have one-time $100 registration fee upfront, followed by and annual registration fee that varies based on the market value of the vehicle. On the low end, the fees are $25 for a vehicle valued at less than $5, 000, but anyone with a $60, 000-plus plug-in vehicle will be paying $175 per year to keep their tags up to date. On the other hand, California has the highest gas prices in the country , and even on the high end, those registration fees will end up costing less than three or four tanks of gas. Internal combustion fans won’t be getting a break either: California’s gas tax will hit 30 cents per gallon by November 2017. All told, California’s EV fees are expected to generate $52 billion over 10 years, which will be put back into the state’s budget for infrastructure repairs. Elsewhere in the US, EV fees have already caught on. According to the Sierra Club , 10 states plus Washington, DC already have similar fees while eight others are currently considering similar legislation. Via: Autoblog Source: California Senate

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A ‘brand new’ Google Earth will arrive April 18th

Posted by kenmay on April - 13 - 2017

Google just sent out invites for a pre-Earth Day event in New York City next week. In keeping with the obvious theme, the search giant is promising to take the lid off of a “brand new experience” for Google Earth. While Google doesn’t offer many details aside from the time, date and location — April 18th, 8:30 AM ET at New York’s Whitney Museum of Art — the Earth team did launch a virtual reality version of the planet-visualizing app onto Steam late last year. The app was only available for HTC Vive headsets at the time, but the team promised to add support for additional platforms in the near future. So we’d be surprised if next week’s event didn’t come with an update for Google Daydream , which would make it much more affordable as a VR educational tool. Google has also been developing its stand-alone virtual tours and augmented reality museum experiences for years now and could be incorporating more of those “on-the-ground” kinds of VR experiences directly into its incredibly detailed whole-Earth model.

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A Yelp bot will deliver your sushi in San Francisco

Posted by kenmay on April - 13 - 2017

While Amazon continues refining its delivery-by-UAV dream, Yelp is gearing up to test a grounded method to autonomously transport take out. The company is partnering with Marble to use their wheeled drone, which is designed to carry perishable cargo, to try out unmanned food delivery for its Seamless-like Yelp Eat24 service. Naturally, it’s starting the drone delivery trials on the streets of San Francisco. Specifically, they’re sending Marble’s robots on trips around SF’s Mission and Potrero Hill districts, so lucky Eat24 patrons might get the option to have their grub delivered via the boxy drones — and their humans. Handlers will “chaperone” the autonomous bots to make sure their initial forays into the world go smoothly. The robots use NVIDIA’s TX1 Jetson supercomputers to digest environmental data coming from a suite of cameras, LiDAR, and ultrasonic sensors, the same sensors used by autonomous cars. As they expand delivery to more neighborhoods, Marble and Eat24 will use their drones to map the city’s sidewalks and develop optimized routes. Someday, these robots could progress to truly unmanned courier jobs — and then, folks living above ground level will learn a cruel truth about the limits of our wheeled autonomous robo-coolers and their inability to defeat stairs. Via: TechCrunch Source: Marble

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