Yup, Google Docs went down, but it’s coming back

If you've had trouble loading Google Docs this afternoon, you're not alone. The company said that an outage has been "affecting a significant subset of users" who were unable to access it since about 3:48 PM ET. As of 4:55 PM ET the status had been updated to say "Google Docs service has already been restored for some users, and we expect a resolution for all users in the near future, " and at 5:10, that " The problem with Google Docs should be resolved." So, yeah, get up and stretch before getting back to work, study or your obsessive spreadsheet of fantasy sports stats, but don't go too far -- things should be back to normal in about the time it takes for your browser to refresh. We're actively investigating an issue with Docs not loading. Thanks for your patience as we look into it. — Google Docs (@googledocs) November 15, 2017 Docs is back up for most users, and we expect a full resolution for all users shortly. Sorry for this disruption and thanks again for your patience with us. — Google Docs (@googledocs) November 15, 2017 Source: Google Docs - Service Details

Boeing 757 Testing Shows Airplanes Vulnerable To Hacking, DHS Says

schwit1 shares a report from Aviation Today: A team of government, industry and academic officials successfully demonstrated that a commercial aircraft could be remotely hacked in a non-laboratory setting last year, a DHS official said Wednesday at the 2017 CyberSat Summit in Tysons Corner, Virginia. "We got the airplane on Sept. 19, 2016. Two days later, I was successful in accomplishing a remote, non-cooperative, penetration. [Which] means I didn't have anybody touching the airplane, I didn't have an insider threat. I stood off using typical stuff that could get through security and we were able to establish a presence on the systems of the aircraft." Hickey said the details of the hack and the work his team are doing are classified, but said they accessed the aircraft's systems through radio frequency communications, adding that, based on the RF configuration of most aircraft, "you can come to grips pretty quickly where we went" on the aircraft. Patching avionics subsystem on every aircraft when a vulnerability is discovered is cost prohibitive, Hickey said. The cost to change one line of code on a piece of avionics equipment is $1 million, and it takes a year to implement. For Southwest Airlines, whose fleet is based on Boeing's 737, it would "bankrupt" them. Hickey said newer models of 737s and other aircraft, like Boeing's 787 and the Airbus Group A350, have been designed with security in mind, but that legacy aircraft, which make up more than 90% of the commercial planes in the sky, don't have these protections. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Cool interactive map of Rome’s landmarks and related literary musings

Walks in Rome is an interactive map project that updates and modernizies a famous 1870 guidebook of Rome by August Hare. (more…)

Astronomers find an Earth-size world just 11 light years away

Enlarge / Artist’s impression of the planet Ross 128 b. (credit: ESO) Astronomers have discovered a planet 35 percent more massive than Earth in orbit around a red dwarf star just 11 light years from the Sun. The planet, Ross 128 b, likely exists at the edge of the small, relatively faint star's habitable zone even though it is 20 times closer to its star than the Earth is to the Sun. The study  in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics finds the best estimate for its surface temperature is between -60° and 20° C. This is not the closest Earth-size world that could potentially harbor liquid water on its surface—that title is held by Proxima Centauri b, which is less than 4.3 light years away from Earth, and located in the star system closest to the Sun. Even so, due to a variety of factors Ross 128 b is tied for fourth on a list of potentially most habitable exoplanets, with an Earth Similarity Index value of 0.86. In the new research, astronomers discuss another reason to believe that life might be more likely to exist on Ross 128 b. That's because its parent star, Ross 128, is a relatively quiet red dwarf star, producing fewer stellar flares than most other, similar-sized stars such as Proxima Centauri. Such flares may well sterilize any life that might develop on such a world. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

iOS 11.2 is going to support faster 7.5W Qi wireless charging

 The iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X all support wireless charging using the Qi standard. It means that iPhones are now compatible with hundreds of chargers out there. But iPhone Qi charging is currently limited to 5W, or the slowest wireless charging speed. Apple is currently working on iOS 11.2 — this update is going to support 7.5W charging. Wireless charging is nice if you… Read More

Verizon is finally killing Compuserve Forums

Compuserve's sprawling, paleolithic forums were acquired along with Compuserve itself by AOL in 1998, and their fossil remains were augmented, year after year, decade after decade, by die-hard users who continued to participate there. (more…)

Bitcoin Gold, the Latest Bitcoin Fork, Explained

Timothy B. Lee via Ars Technica explains Bitcoin Gold: A new cryptocurrency called Bitcoin Gold is now live on the Internet. It aims to correct what its backers see as a serious flaw in the design of the original Bitcoin. There are hundreds of cryptocurrencies on the Internet, and many of them are derived from Bitcoin in one way or another. But Bitcoin Gold -- like Bitcoin Cash, another Bitcoin spinoff that was created in August -- is different in two important ways. Bitcoin Gold is branding itself as a version of Bitcoin rather than merely new platforms derived from Bitcoin's source code. It has also chosen to retain Bitcoin's transaction history, which means that, if you owned bitcoins before the fork, you now own an equal amount of "gold" bitcoins. While Bitcoin Cash was designed to resolve Bitcoin's capacity crunch with larger blocks, Bitcoin Gold aims to tackle another of Bitcoin's perceived flaws: the increasing centralization of the mining industry that verifies and secures Bitcoin transactions. The original vision for Bitcoin was that anyone would be able to participate in Bitcoin mining with their personal PCs, earning a bit of extra cash as they helped to support the network. But as Bitcoin became more valuable, people discovered that Bitcoin mining could be done much more efficiently with custom-built application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). As a result, Bitcoin mining became a specialized and highly concentrated industry. The leading companies in this new industry wield a disproportionate amount of power over the Bitcoin network. Bitcoin Gold aims to dethrone these mining companies by introducing an alternative mining algorithm that's much less susceptible to ASIC-based optimization. In theory, that will allow ordinary Bitcoin Gold users to earn extra cash with their spare computing cycles, just as people could do in the early days of Bitcoin. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A US freeway may get self-driving car lanes thanks to Foxconn

Wisconsin highway planners are studying the possibility of placing driverless vehicle lanes on I-94 to serve Foxconn 's mega factory in Racine County. The Taiwanese company -- supplier to tech firms including Apple, Microsoft, and Nintendo -- reportedly made the suggestion at a meeting with regional officials, according to USA Today 's Journal Sentinel . Foxconn's $10 billion midwest facility will span 20 million square feet and could create up to 13, 000 jobs. That's an awful lot of humans commuting back and forth from work, and that's before you take into account the goods getting hauled in. But, seeing as the I-94 highway is getting a bump from six to eight lanes anyway, regional officials figured they were prepared for the uptick in traffic. Foxconn, it seems, has other ideas in mind. While companies like Uber and Waymo are trialing self-driving vehicles on roads across the US, there's also been talk of dedicated lanes for robocars (and trucks ). Last year, VC firm Madrona Ventures floated the idea for replacing the I-5 freeway between Seattle and Vancouver with an "autonomous vehicle" corridor. But, Foxconn's desire to yield regular car lanes to driverless vehicles could be a way off yet. A spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation told the Journal Sentinel that the proposal is just one of many "on the table." One possibility, according to Tim Sheehy (president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce), is driverless lanes between the Foxconn plant and Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport. Via: Journal Sentinel

Study Finds SpaceX Investment Saved NASA Hundreds of Millions

schwit1 shares a report from Popular Mechanics: When a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft connected with the International Space Station on May 25, 2012, it made history as the first privately-built spacecraft to reach the ISS. The Dragon was the result of a decision 6 years prior -- in 2006, NASA made an "unprecedented" investment in SpaceX technology. A new financial analysis shows that the investment has paid off, and the government found one of the true bargains of the 21st century when it invested in SpaceX. A new research paper by Edgar Zapata, who works at Kennedy Space Center, looks closely at the finances of SpaceX and NASA. "There were indications that commercial space transportation would be a viable option from as far back as the 1980s, " Zapata writes. "When the first components of the ISS were sent into orbit 1998, NASA was focused on "ambitious, large single stage-to-orbit launchers with large price tags to match." For future commercial crew missions sending astronauts into space, Zapata estimates that it will cost $405 million for a SpaceX Dragon crew deployment of 4 and $654 million for a Boeing Starliner, which is scheduled for its first flight in 2019. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but Zapata estimates that its only 37 to 39 percent of what it would have cost the government. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Firefox’s major Quantum upgrade now rolling out to everyone

Firefox is fast now. (credit: Mozilla) Mozilla is working on a major overhaul of its Firefox browser, and with the general release of Firefox 57 today, has reached a major milestone. The version of the browser coming out today has a sleek new interface and, under the hood, major performance enhancements, with Mozilla claiming that it's as much as twice as fast as it was a year ago. Not only should it be faster to load and render pages, but its user interface should remain quick and responsive even under heavy load with hundreds of tabs. Collectively, the performance work being done to modernize Firefox is called Project Quantum . We took a closer look at Quantum back when Firefox 57 hit the developer channel in September , but the short version is, Mozilla is rebuilding core parts of the browser, such as how it handles CSS stylesheets, how it draws pages on screen, and how it uses the GPU. This work is being motivated by a few things. First, the Web has changed since many parts of Firefox were initially designed and developed; pages are more dynamic in structure, and applications are richer and more graphically intensive, JavaScript is more complex and difficult to debug. Second, computers now have many cores and simultaneous threads, giving them much greater scope to work in parallel. And security remains a pressing concern, prompting the use of new techniques to protect against exploitation. Some of the rebuilt portions are even using Mozilla's new Rust programming language, which is designed to offer improved security compared to C++. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments