Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for July 14th, 2017

Enlarge / Server administrator kaiju hates user password reset requests. (credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment America (CC) ) Back in May , Microsoft announced that Windows Server would be joining the Windows Insider Program. Late last night, the first preview release of Windows Server was published. The biggest areas of improvement in the new build are around virtualization and containers. The preview allows exposing more of the underlying hardware capabilities to virtual machines, with support for virtualized non-volatile memory and virtualized power/battery status. For both containers and virtual machines, networking capabilities have been enhanced to enable a wider range of virtual network capabilities with greater performance. The focus on containerization has also seen the Nano Server deployment of Windows Server change. Presently, Nano Server is still a full operating system, but with the Redstone 3 release of Windows later this year, that’s going to change. It’s going to be a strictly container-only deployment. Upgrading and maintaining Nano Server will be done through updating the container image. This has enabled Microsoft to strip down the Nano Server installation. It no longer requires, for example, the Windows servicing stack. Because it’s upgraded simply by replacing the image, Nano Server no longer needs to use Windows Update itself. The result is a 70 percent reduction in the image’s footprint. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Nothing celebrates an anniversary like getting people to cough up extraordinary amounts of money, which is why Sotheby’s has something special planned for the 48th anniversary of the first moon landing. On July 20, the auction house will be holding a space exploration-themed auction with one-of-a-kind items up for sale. The most interesting item of the collection is a lunar sample return bag (complete with lunar dust), used by Neil Armstrong to bring back the first moon rocks. Sotheby’s says, “Nearly all of the equipment from that historic mission is housed in the US national collection at the Smithsonian. This is the only such artifact available for private ownership.” It’s estimated to sell for between $2 million and $4 million. Many of these items come from the personal collections of the astronauts themselves, so there are some unexpected items up for grabs. Sure, there are the usual autographed photos and books , but there are also flight plans and charts , signed by astronauts, a small U.S. flag flown on Apollo 13 and a spacesuit thermal cover made for Gus Grissom . There’s also hardware for sale: If you’ve ever wanted to own the computer processor of a Space Shuttle orbiter , this is your chance. It’d be easy to make fun of this auction, but honestly there’s a lot of really cool stuff in here for space enthusiasts. As for me, I have my eye on an autographed matted and framed photo of the Apollo 11 crew. Anyone have an extra $7, 000 I can borrow? Source: Sotheby’s

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While the waters of the North Atlantic and South Pacific tend to have what hard corals need to survive, the North Pacific doesn’t, and it has been thought that deep-sea coral reefs were a near impossibility in that part of the ocean. But researchers at Florida State University and Texas A&M University have discovered a few reefs in the North Pacific that don’t seem to be following the rules. Their findings were recently published in Scientific Reports . One factor that prevents reef formation is the aragonite saturation horizon, which refers to the ocean depth where levels of the mineral aragonite drop off. Hard corals need aragonite to form their skeletons, so when there isn’t a lot of it around, coral reefs tend not to form. Additionally, coral skeletons are more prone to dissolve in the North Pacific compared to other areas. “Even if the corals could overcome low aragonite saturation and build up robust skeletons, there are areas on the reefs that are just exposed skeleton, and those should be dissolving, ” Amy Baco-Taylor, an author of the study, said in a statement , “Even if the species could survive in the area, we shouldn’t be finding an accumulation of reef.” But they did find reef accumulation, six of them in fact, near the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and Emperor Seamount Chain despite everything we know about coral reefs saying they shouldn’t exist. Most of them exist below the aragonite saturation horizon and in areas with high dissolving rates. The researchers found a couple of factors that might contribute to the reef formation. For one, the aragonite saturation horizon does get deeper along the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, but the depth of the discovered reefs doesn’t seem to follow the aragonite levels, suggesting that’s not the main contributor to the growth. They also measured higher levels of chlorophyll — meaning more food and, therefore, more energy to help overcome low aragonite levels — and ocean currents that might boost reef formation. But those don’t fully explain the reefs’ existence. “Neither the chlorophyll nor the currents explain the unusual depth distributions of the reefs, why they actually get shallower moving to the northwest along the seamounts. There’s still a mystery as to why these reefs are here, ” said Baco-Taylor. Overall, how these reefs were able to form and survive isn’t yet understood, but figuring it out will be important in light of ongoing climate change -induced reef loss . “If more of these reefs are there, that would run counter to what ocean acidification and carbonate chemistry dictates, ” said Baco-Taylor, “It leaves us with some big questions: Is there something that we’re not understanding? How is this possible?” Source: Scientific Reports

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Disney’s ‘Star Wars’ theme park is taking shape

Posted by kenmay on July - 14 - 2017

Universal Studios Japan recently released the first trailer for its in-construction Super Nintendo World attraction, and now Disney has gone one better by building an actual physical model showing off its upcoming Star Wars Land (unofficial title). Due to open in 2019 at both Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida, the new area “will transport guests to a never-before-seen planet” — which just happens to look like every weathered, forgettable world characters from the films briefly touch down on to get a ship part or intel or what have you. There should be plenty to do at the “remote trading port” once you’ve filled your boots with expensive merchandise and your bellies with Yoda burgers. Ride specifics are pretty hazy, but Disney has revealed that visitors will control the Millennium Falcon on a secret mission as part of one signature attraction, while the other main draw will drop guests “in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.” Star Tours, a Star Wars -inspired flight simulator, and several other attractions were up and running at various Disney parks long before the company waved a check in front of George Lucas he couldn’t pass up. Now Disney owns the rights to the extremely popular franchise, it makes sense to create a more elaborate live experience for fans to visit — especially after the shot-in-the-arm that was the last two movies. Though a few years off completion, anyone visiting Disney World in the future will be able to kill two film-inspired birds with one stone, diving into the mind of James Cameron through the new World Of Avatar experience. Via: TechCrunch Source: Disney

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NASA A pair of Apollo-era NASA computers and hundreds of mysterious tape reels have been discovered in a deceased engineer’s basement in Pittsburgh, according to a NASA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Most of the tapes are unmarked, but the majority of the rest appear to be instrumentation reels for Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 , NASA’s fly-by missions to Jupiter and Saturn. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Samsung made a giant 34-foot LED TV for movie theaters

Posted by kenmay on July - 14 - 2017

So you just spent $120, 000 on a 120-inch 4K HDR screen and think you’ve got the biggest, baddest TV around? Nope! Samsung has unveiled the Cinema LED Screen that’s an epic 10.3 meters (33.8 feet, or 406 inches). It runs at full 4K (4, 096 x 2, 160) resolution, features an (unnamed) HDR and peaks out at 146 fL of brighntess, “ten times greater than that offered by standard projector technologies, ” Samsung said in a news release. The set offers a “distortion-free” presentation with deep blacks, accurate whites and bright colors “at a nearly infinite contrast ratio, ” Samsung says. While it didn’t say so, the extra brightness might improve 3D films, which normally look dim with projection systems due to the polarized glasses. To complement the image quality, Samsung worked with JBL by Harman on the sound tech. That system features speakers around the screen, proprietary audio processing tech, and “Sculpted Surround Sound” from JBL to provide dramatic and faithful audio. Samsung Electronics unveiled the model at the Lotte Cinema in Korea, saying it’s the “first ever commercial Cinema LED Screen” it has installed. The average cinema screen size is around 50 feet, but the 33.8-foot Cinema Screen would be a good fit in smallish multiplex rooms. Samsung says it adapts to a wider range of dark and ambient lighting situations, making it work well for corporate events, sports viewing and gaming competitions. For films, it would certainly offer a very different experience than a projector, but might feel too much like you’re watching TV in public for some cinephiles. Samsung is obviously one of the few companies out there, perhaps along with LG, that could even create such a giant LED screen. The model was certified by the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), meaning it can showcase films in theaters with unaltered color spectrum accuracy. As for the price, unless you’ve got an 80-foot yacht parked in the harbor, it’s probably best not to ask. Source: Samsung

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Last week, SoundCloud announced it is cutting about 40 percent of its staff and closing two offices. Now, a report from TechCrunch claims “the layoffs only saved the company enough money to have runway ‘until Q4’ — which begins in just 80 days.” From the report: That seems to conflict with the statement Ljung released alongside the layoffs, which noted that, “With more focus and a need to think about the long term, comes tough decisions.” The company never mentioned how short its cash would still last. We reached out to Ljung and SoundCloud for this story and PR responded to the request reiterating Ljung blog post. After being presented with the leaked information from the all-hands, SoundCloud PR admitted that, “We are fully funded into Q4, ” though it says it’s in talks with potential investors. But further funding would require faith in SoundCloud that its own staff lacks. When asked about morale of the remaining team, one employee who asked to remain anonymous told TechCrunch “it’s pretty shitty. Pretty somber. I know people who didn’t get the axe are actually quitting. The people saved from this are jumping ship. The morale is really low.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Enlarge / A bitcoin token stands in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. (credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images ) AlphaBay, one of the largest Tor-hidden drug websites that sprung up in the wake of Silk Road, has been shuttered for good after a series of law enforcement raids and arrests. The site mysteriously went dark earlier this month. Some users on Reddit suspected an “exit scam,” in which AlphaBay’s founders had shuttered the site and absconded with piles of bitcoins. According to the Wall Street Journal , which reported the news on Thursday, police in the United States, Canada, and Thailand collaborated to arrest Alexandre Cazes, who allegedly was the head of the online operation. The Canadian citizen was arrested on July 5 in Thailand, the same day that two raids on residences in Quebec, Canada, were executed. On Wednesday, Cazes was found dead, hanged in his Thai jail cell. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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