Businesses

Calif. DMV Back-Pedals On Commercial-Plate Mandate For Ride-Share Drivers

Posted by timothy
from the can-your-neighbor-lend-you-a-cup-of-transportation dept.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that In an abrupt U-turn, the California Department of Motor Vehicles late Friday retracted its finding that drivers for ride-hailing services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar must obtain commercial license plates. That determination — based on a 1935 state law — ignited a firestorm of criticism from the San Francisco startups and their supporters as stifling innovation. Commercial licenses are cumbersome to obtain, meaning they could impede the companies’ growth, which relies on getting new drivers, many of whom work just part time, into service quickly. And commercial registration probably would have necessitated that drivers get commercial insurance, which is significantly more expensive than personal auto insurance. Republican Assembly members threatened legislation over the “nonsensical” interpretation if the DMV didn’t reconsider its stance before Feb. 17. Now the department says it will do just that. That doesn't mean drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft can expect to be left alone by the DMV, though, which according to the article "will meet with regulators and the industry to work through the issue."
Graphics

Ask Slashdot: GPU of Choice For OpenCL On Linux? 16

Posted by timothy
from the discriminating-tastes dept.
Bram Stolk writes So, I am running GNU/Linux on a modern Haswell CPU, with an old Radeon HD5xxx from 2009. I'm pretty happy with the open source Gallium driver for 3D acceleration. But now I want to do some GPGPU development using OpenCL on this box, and the old GPU will no longer cut it. What do my fellow technophiles from Slashdot recommend as a replacement GPU? Go NVIDIA, go AMD, or just use the integrated Intel GPU instead? Bonus points for open sourced solutions. Performance not really important, but OpenCL driver maturity is.
Mars

NASA Considers Autonomous Martian Helicopter To Augment Future Rovers 10

Posted by timothy
from the imperial-probe-droid dept.
SternisheFan (2529412) writes with this story at the Verge about an approach being considered by NASA to overcome some of the difficulties in moving a wheeled or multi-legged ground vehicle around the surface of Mars, which has proven to be a difficult task. Rover teams still have a tough time with the Martian surface even though they're flush with terrestrial data. The alien surface is uneven, and ridges and valleys make navigating the terrain difficult. The newest solution proposed by JPL is the Mars Helicopter, an autonomous drone that could 'triple the distances that Mars rovers can drive in a Martian day,' according to NASA. The helicopter would fly ahead of a rover when its view is blocked and send Earth-bound engineers the right data to plan the rover's route.
Space

Europe and China Will Team Up For a Robotic Space Mission 28

Posted by timothy
from the actually-the-robots-are-pulling-the-strings dept.
Taco Cowboy writes with this excerpt from Space.com: On Monday (Jan. 19), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the European Space Agency (ESA) issued a call for proposals for a robotic space mission that the two organizations will develop jointly. "The goal of the present Call is to define a scientific space mission to be implemented by ESA and CAS as a cooperative endeavor between the European and Chinese scientific communities," ESA officials wrote in a statement Monday. "The mission selected as an outcome of the present Joint Call will follow a collaborative approach through all the phases: study, definition, implementation, operations and scientific exploitation." The call envisions a low-budget mission, saying that ESA and CAS are each prepared to contribute about 53 million euros (U.S. $61.5 million at current exchange rates). The spacecraft must weigh less than 661 lbs. (300 kilograms) at launch and be designed to operate for at least two to three years, ESA officials wrote in the call for proposals. All proposals are due by March 16, and the peer-review process will start in April. Mission selection is expected to occur in late 2015, followed by six years of development, with a launch in 2021.
Earth

Doomsday Clock Moved Two Minutes Forward, To 23:57 131

Posted by timothy
from the but-who's-counting dept.
An anonymous reader writes As reported by CNN and Time, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved their famed Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight. Now at 23:57, this clock attempts to personify humanity's closeness to a global catastrophe (as caused by either climate change or nuclear war). According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, this change is due to a lack of action regarding climate issues, the continued existence of nuclear weapon stockpiles, and the increased animosity that now exists between the United States and Russia.
Social Networks

Twitter Moves To Curb Instagram Links 77

Posted by timothy
from the breaking-the-habit dept.
Hammeh writes According to a report on Mashable, Twitter have sent out messages to some of their high profile users prompting them to share images using Twitter's own service rather than Instagram links. The news comes 2 years since Instagram pulled support for Twitter cards and has been part of the continuing battle between the two social networks. With Instagram now having overtaken Twitter in terms of users, this may be a move to try and use high profile users to show off Twitter's own image and content tools.
Internet Explorer

In Addition To Project Spartan, Windows 10 Will Include Internet Explorer 91

Posted by timothy
from the ultra-backwards-compatible dept.
An anonymous reader writes After unveiling its new Project Spartan browser for Windows 10, Microsoft is now offering more details. The company confirmed that Windows 10 will also include Internet Explorer for enterprise sites, though it didn't say how exactly this will work. Spartan comes with a new rendering engine, which doesn't rely on the versioned document modes the company has historically used. It also provides compatibility with the millions of existing enterprise websites specifically designed for Internet Explorer by loading the IE11 engine when needed. In this way, the browser uses the new rendering engine for modern websites and the old one for legacy purposes.
Encryption

OpenSSL 1.0.2 Released 69

Posted by timothy
from the early-days dept.
kthreadd writes The OpenSSL project has released its second feature release of the OpenSSL 1.0 series, version 1.0.2 which is ABI compatible with the 1.0.0 and 1.0.1 series. Major new features in this release include Suite B support for TLS 1.2 and DTLS 1.2 and support for DTLS 1.2. selection. Other major changes include TLS automatic EC curve selection, an API to set TLS supported signature algorithms and curves, the SSL_CONF configuration API, support for TLS Brainpool, support for ALPN and support for CMS support for RSA-PSS, RSA-OAEP, ECDH and X9.42 DH.
United States

Bomb Threats Via Twitter Partly Shut Down Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport 95

Posted by timothy
from the don't-expect-luggage-to-arrive dept.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that "Credible" bomb threats were made Saturday against two flights bound for Atlanta, an airport spokesman said. The flights landed safely after being escorted into Atlanta by military fighter jets. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport spokesman Reese McCrainie told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at 3 p.m. that both flights — Delta 1156 and Southwest 2492 — had landed and were sitting on a taxiway waiting to be swept by the Atlanta police Bomb Squad. ... Witnesses reported seeing multiple emergency vehicles on the tarmac, and the Federal Aviation Administration said just before 3 p.m. that departing flights were experiencing gate holds and delays of up to 30 minutes due to a bomb threat. USA Today says that the flights were on their way to Atlanta from, respectively, Portland, Oregon and Milwaukee, and adds that "NORAD Media Relations Specialist Preston Schlachter confirmed that two F-16 jets launched from McIntire Air Force Base in South Carolina as a precautionary measure."
Bug

NVIDIA Responds To GTX 970 Memory Bug 123

Posted by timothy
from the can't-remeber-why-you'upset dept.
Vigile writes Over the past week or so, owners of the GeForce GTX 970 have found several instances where the GPU was unable or unwilling to address memory capacities over 3.5GB despite having 4GB of on-board frame buffer. Specific benchmarks were written to demonstrate the issue and users even found ways to configure games to utilize more than 3.5GB of memory using DSR and high levels of MSAA. While the GTX 980 can access 4GB of its memory, the GTX 970 appeared to be less likely to do so and would see a dramatic performance hit when it did. NVIDIA responded today saying that the GTX 970 has "fewer crossbar resources to the memory system" as a result of disabled groups of cores called SMMs. NVIDIA states that "to optimally manage memory traffic in this configuration, we segment graphics memory into a 3.5GB section and a 0.5GB section" and that the GPU has "higher priority" to the larger pool. The question that remains is should this affect gamers' view of the GTX 970? If performance metrics already take the different memory configuration into account, then I don't see the GTX 970 declining in popularity.
Media

UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice? 262

Posted by timothy
from the is-your-nose-on-the-glass? dept.
An anonymous reader writes Details have emerged on the new UHD Blu-ray spec and players set to start shipping this summer. UHD promises resolutions 4X greater than Blu-ray 1080p as well as much higher data rates, enhanced color space and more audio options. But, will consumers care, and will they be willing to upgrade their HDTV's, AV Receivers, and Blu-ray players to adopt a new format whose benefits may only be realized on ultra large displays or close viewing distances? The article makes the interesting point that UHD isn't synonymous with 4K, even if both handily beat the resolution of most household displays.
Communications

WhatsApp vs. WhatsApp Plus Fight Gets Ugly For Users 163

Posted by timothy
from the for-your-convenience-we-have-disabled-convenience dept.
BarbaraHudson writes WhatsApp is locking out users for 24 hours who use WhatsApp Plus to access the service. The company claims they brought in the temporary ban to make users aware that they are not using the correct version and their privacy could be comprised using the unofficial WhatsApp Plus. "Starting today, we are taking aggressive action against unauthorized apps and alerting the people who use them." Is this a more aggressive rerun of "This site best viewed with Internet Explorer"?
Transportation

Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes 263

Posted by timothy
from the here's-your-spec-sheet dept.
mrspoonsi writes The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is adding crash imminent braking and dynamic braking support to its list of recommended advanced safety features for new cars. The former uses sensors to activate the brakes if a crash is imminent and the driver already hasn't. Dynamic braking support, on the other hand, increases stopping power if you haven't put enough pressure on the brake pedal. Like lane-departure and front collision warning systems, these features are available on some models already — this move gives them high-profile attention, though. And for good reason: As the NHSTA tells it, a third of 2013's police-reported car accidents were the rear-end crashes and a "large number" of the drivers either didn't apply the brakes at all (what?!) or fully before impact.
Businesses

Smartphones, Tablets and EBay Send SkyMall To Chapter 11 63

Posted by timothy
from the not-to-mention-deal-extreme-and-amazon dept.
alphadogg writes SkyMall, the quirky airline catalog, looks as though it may be grounded before long. Parent company Xhibit has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and seeks to sell its assets. In an SEC filing, Xhibit explains that it has fallen victim to an "intensely competitive" direct marketing retail industry that now includes the likes of eBay and Amazon.com. Smartphones and tablets are largely to blame for SkyMall's downfall, according to the SEC filing. "Historically, the SkyMall catalog was the sole in-flight option for potential purchasers of products to review while traveling. With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog."
Security

Made-In-Nigeria Smart Cards To Extend Financial Services To the Poor 39

Posted by timothy
from the all-you-need-is-this-card dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "A new factory producing smart cards opened in Lagos this week, promising to open up access to financial services to many poor Africans and other inhabitants of the Global South. The cards can be used by people without traditional bank accounts to access the worldwide credit card and smart phone infrastructure." From the article: Preliminary estimates indicate that there are currently about 150 million active SIM cards, 110 million biometric ID cards and 15 million credit and debit cards in Nigeria, [Nigerian president Goodluck] Jonathan said. As more financial-inclusion schemes, requiring more bank cards, are rolled out and different Nigerian states implement ID projects, the numbers of smart cards in use are expected to experience double-digit growth, he said.
Privacy

China Cuts Off Some VPNs 186

Posted by timothy
from the we-see-what-you-did-there dept.
jaa101 writes The Register (UK) and the Global Times (China) report that foreign VPN services are unavailable in China. A quote sourced to "one of the founders of an overseas website which monitors the Internet in China" claimed 'The Great Firewall is blocking the VPN on the protocol level. It means that the firewall does not need to identify each VPN provider and block its IP addresses. Rather, it can spot VPN traffic during transit and block it.' An upgrade of the Great Firewall of China is blamed and China appears to be backing the need for the move to maintain cyberspace sovereignty.
Google

Google Just Made It Easier To Run Linux On Your Chromebook 160

Posted by timothy
from the danger-in-keeping-that-little-fulcrum-in-place dept.
TechCurmudgeon writes A story in PCWorld's "World beyond Windows" column outlines coming improvements in Chrome OS that will enable easily running Linux directly from a USB stick: "Have you ever installed a full desktop Linux system on your Chromebook? It isn't all [that] hard, but it is a bit more complex than it should be. New features in the latest version of Chrome OS will make dipping into an alternative operating system easier. For example, you'll be able to easily boot a full Linux system from a USB drive and use it without any additional hassle!"
Security

Ask Slashdot: Best Anti-Virus Software In 2015? Free Or Paid? 435

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-would-you-put-on-your-grandma's-computer dept.
CryoKeen writes: I got a new laptop recently after trading in my old laptop for store credit. While I was waiting to check out, the sales guy just handed me some random antivirus software (Trend Micro) that was included with the purchase. I don't think he or I realized at the time that the CD/DVD he gave me would not work because my new laptop does not have a CD/DVD player.

Anyway, it got me wondering whether I should use it or not. Would I be better off downloading something like Avast or Malwarebytes? Is there one piece of antivirus software that's significantly better than the others? Are any of the paid options worthwhile, or should I just stick to the free versions? What security software would you recommend in addition to anti-virus?
Security

'Never Miss Another Delivery' - if You Have a TrackPIN (Video) 82

Posted by Roblimo
from the let-me-in-let-me-in-by-the-hair-on-my-chinny-chin-chin dept.
The company is called TrackPIN, as is the product. Its creator, Mark Hall, showed it off at CES. Timothy pointed his camcorder at Mark as he explained how his product would let you get package deliveries safely when you aren't home by giving the UPS or FedEx (or other) delivery person access to your garage, as well as letting in selected people like your maid, your plumber, and possibly an aquarium cleaner. Each one can have a private, one-time PIN number that will actuate your garage door opener through the (~$250) TrackPIN keypad and tell your smartphone or other net-connected device that your garage was just opened, and by whom. You might even call this, "One small step for package delivery; a giant leap forward for the Internet of Things." Except those of us who don't have garages (not to mention electric garage door openers) may want to skip today's video; the TrackPIN isn't meant for the likes of us. (Alternate Video Link)
Verizon

Verizon About To End Construction of Its Fiber Network 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the you're-stuck-with-comcast dept.
WheezyJoe writes: If you've been holding out hope that FiOS would rescue you from your local cable monopoly, it's probably time to give up. Making good on their statements five years ago, Verizon announced this week it is nearing "the end" of its fiber construction and is reducing wireline capital expenditures while spending more on wireless.

The expense of replacing old copper lines with fiber has allegedly led Verizon to stop building in new regions and to complete wiring up the areas where it had already begun. The fiber network was profitable, but nowhere near as profitable as their wireless network. So, if Verizon hasn't started in your neighborhood by now, they never will, and you'd best ignore all those ads for FiOS.