Tech News courtesy of Ars Technica
- FAA chief to impatient drone industry: “Sorry we’re so slow”
- Boaty McBoatface beaten by Sir David Attenborough in UK science ship naming
- Review: HP’s EliteBook Folio G1 is the MacBook as it could’ve been
- Because failure is an option SpaceX can do stuff like land rockets on a boat
- SpaceX sticks its “very hot and fast” rocket landing [Updated]
- Antimalware software works, hackers still trying to exploit 6-year-old bugs
- Why Nintendo NX’s rumored shift from discs to cartridges is actually smart
- FDA flexes regulatory muscles, says vaping, e-cigs now under its control
- Piracy site for academic journals playing game of domain-name Whac-A-Mole
- Strange X-ray sources are shooting ions at us at 20 percent of light speed
FAA administrator Michael Huerta told attendees at this week's drone conference that the FAA is forming an advisory committee led by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich to help prioritize drone rulemaking work. (credit: Sean Gallagher)
NEW ORLEANS—Former Cisco CEO John Chambers delivered a keynote on Tuesday at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) XPONENTIAL conference, slamming the Obama administration for moving too slowly on adjusting regulations governing commercial and private drones.
Chambers said that Obama doesn't "get" drones and that the US is potentially being left behind in a market that he claimed could drive trillions of dollars in economic impact. His remarks drew loud applause from the audience of attendees—many of whom represented companies eager to cash in on drones as either vendors or customers.
Federal Aviation Administration administrator Michael Huerta responded on Wednesday with a talk about the FAA's progress on drone regulations before the same audience that Huerta had previously called "a lion's den" in his last appearance at AUVSI's flagship conference four years ago. But, he joked, "We're getting to know each other so well that UAS conventions are getting to be like family reunions."
The boat that was in the running to be called Boaty McBoatface has been officially named the RRS Sir David Attenborough.
3 more images in gallery
The UK's new £200 million polar research ship will not be called Boaty McBoatface. The decision was announced early on Friday morning by the UK science minister, Jo Johnson.
Instead, the new ship will be called the RRS (Royal Research Ship) Sir David Attenborough—a name that also picked up a few votes in the same poll that saw Boaty McBoatface come out way on top.
Showing at least a little bit of political savvy, Jo Johnson didn't completely discard the people's choice: RRS Sir David Attenborough will be outfitted with a number of remotely operated underwater vehicles (see gallery above), and one of those will be called Boaty McBoatface. Hopefully they'll paint a dorky face on the front of its torpedo-like frame.
Apple’s laptop designs used to feel like they were a few years ahead of the curve. When the company introduced things like the aluminum unibody MacBook Pros or both the first- and second-generation MacBook Air designs and even the 15- and 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros, they were impressive because none of the PC makers were doing anything quite like them.
That’s not so much the case in 2016, in part because designs like the MacBook Air and Pro have stood still as the PC OEMs have dramatically improved their own mid- to high-end offerings. You no longer need to buy a Mac to get good build quality, a nice-looking display, respectable battery life, or a non-terrible trackpad. And thanks in part to Windows 10, PCs are offering biometric authentication options and voice assistants that OS X and the Mac don’t have, even if the Mac is still much better at sharing data and interacting with the iPhone.
Apple’s latest laptop design is the MacBook, which is an impressively thin-and-light laptop that makes some key compromises in its pursuit of said thin-and-lightness. HP’s business-focused EliteBook Folio G1 isn’t the first MacBook-alike from the PC OEMs, but it might be the Windows laptop that best marries the virtues of the MacBook to the extra expandability and flexibility of a traditional Ultrabook. It’s on the expensive side, but it’s also the most impressive high-end laptop this side of Dell’s XPS 13.
The Falcon 9 rocket sliced a dazzling arc through the early morning Florida sky on Friday. (credit: SpaceX)
NASA’s legendary flight director Gene Kranz entitled his memoir Failure is Not an Option, referring to his days in mission control from the Mercury missions through the Apollo program. That mindset helped Kranz and teams of engineers at Johnson Space Center heroically return the crew of Apollo 13 safely home. But there is a belief among some that, since the heady Apollo days, such an attitude has made NASA’s managers too timid and too risk averse.
More than a decade ago, even before the failure of his first Falcon 1 rocket, Elon Musk had already made it clear he did not adhere to this belief. During an interview for a 2005 article in Fast Company, the founder of SpaceX gave what has become one of his most enduring quotes: "There's a silly notion that failure's not an option at NASA,” Musk said. “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough."
That attitude was on full display early Friday morning when a Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral along the Florida coast, beneath a black sky full of stars. As the rocket thundered upward, back on Earth, a few hundred miles out in the Atlantic Ocean, a barge about the size of a football field waited to catch it. But this would be no easy grab.
The SpaceX webcast for the JCSat launch should begin at about 1am ET.
Update: Despite the low odds of success the Falcon 9 rocket stuck its landing on an automated drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. Rockets landing at sea are now a thing, apparently.
Original story: Late tonight SpaceX will attempt to launch its first rocket since the triumphant landing of its Falcon 9 first stage a month ago. The launch window opens at 1:21am ET (6:21am BST) and will last for two hours. The primary payload for tonight's launch is a Japanese broadcast satellite.
The company will again attempt to land its first stage on the automated drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean. However this attempt will prove more dynamically challenging than the April landing. That mission carried a Dragon spacecraft, which was destined for the International Space Station about 400km above Earth. Tonight the Falcon 9 rocket must deliver the Japanese satellite into orbit 36,000km above the planet's surface.
Microsoft has released the latest edition of its twice-annual Security Intelligence Report, its survey of the security landscape and threats around the world. The survey has a ton of data about what malware is infecting people, which parts of the world are seeing increased attacks, and more.
For the first time, this report includes data that Microsoft has collected from its cloud operations. Azure Active Directory, handling logins for corporate Office 365 customers, has some 550 million users across 8.24 million customers and handles 1.3 billion logins a day. The Microsoft Account system used for consumer products handles more than 13 billion logins per day.
This generates a ton of data, and Microsoft uses this data in machine learning systems to build models of what normal user behavior looks like and detect anomalies. Capabilities like this are used in the new Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, and today's SIR gives some quantification to them.
We're not sure that Nintendo NX will go with this EXACT advertising campaign, but, hey, why not? This week's chip-based game rumors would have to fall into place, at any rate. (credit: FunnyShirts.org)
When Nintendo finally stopped producing cartridges for home consoles in 2001, the games industry breathed a sigh of relief. Finally! Nintendo was waking up to a modern era, one in which plummeting media prices and rising memory capacities made old cartridges look obsolete.
Now, Nintendo is in a peculiar position—one in which it may not only return to chip-based media for its upcoming "NX" home system's software, but also one in which doing so may look like a good move.
The savvy reporters at British media-reporting site Screen Critics were first to notice a major financial report from Macronix, a Japanese company that has provided memory-related chips to consoles as far back as the N64. Macronix had already commented on serving as a chip supplier of some sort for Nintendo NX in January of this year, but in speaking about its current fiscal year (which, for Japanese companies, ends in March 2017), the company spoke about higher expectations for its "NOR Flash" business linked to the launch of the new Nintendo hardware.
(credit: Flickr/ecig click)
The US Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it has extended its authority and will now regulate electronic cigarettes, hookah tobacco, cigars, and other tobacco products under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
The regulatory move, first proposed in 2014, is largely aimed at protecting kids from tobacco and nicotine products. The result is that e-cigs and the other products will now be subject to the same federal regulations as regular cigarettes. These regulations include some relatively uncontroversial rules such as a ban on selling e-cigs to minors (which some states have already done), requiring a photo ID to buy e-cigs, not selling e-cigs out of vending machines, and a ban on free e-cig samples.
But the regulations also require that e-cigarette manufactures register with the agency and put any new devices through a pre-market regulatory approval process. By “new,” the FDA means any novel devices put on the market after February 15, 2007. Devices released before then will be grandfathered into the regulations. However, in the relatively young e-cig market, the vast majority of current products were introduced after 2007 and will be subject to the approval process.
Alexandra Elbakyan won't let her Sci-Hub pirate site of academic journals die— despite publisher Elsevier's lawsuit. (credit: Courtesy of Alexandra Elbakyan)
We reported a few weeks ago on a popular pirate site for science journals whose oversees admin was being sued by one of the world's leading academic publishers, Elsevier. Elsevier is the same New York publisher that the late Aaron Swartz had noted in his "Guerilla Open Access Manifesto" that told academics and researchers they had a "duty" to free the knowledge they were privileged to read behind Elsevier's paywall.
Because of the lawsuit, which Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan has refused to participate in, she's been engaged in a game of domain-name Whac-A-Mole in response to Elsevier winning court orders demanding the shuttering of the popular site's domain name. The site allows anybody, not just academics, to access tens of millions of scholastic research articles for free.
When Ars interviewed Elbakyan and learned that she had a similar philosophy to Swartz, she had already altered the site's domain from sci-hub.org to sci-hub.io and changed others because of a court order blocking the .org domain. Now that domain, registered with Chinese registrar Now.cn, has also been killed. That has forced the site to move to sci-hub.bz and sci-hub.cc. This cat-and-mouse domain game is reminiscent of the decade-long game the admins of The Pirate Bay have been playing. When one domain gets lost to a court order, the site springs up on another.
Artist's impression of a ULX, which could be either a black hole or a neutron star in this image. Coming "toward us" is the outflow of gas, moving at relativistic speed. (credit: ESA–C. Carreau)
Researchers are gaining ground in the struggle to understand the mysterious objects known as UltraLuminous X-ray sources (ULXs). These objects, named for their extreme brightness at X-ray wavelengths, are thought to be dense, compact objects like black holes or neutron stars. Their luminosity (which extends to other wavelengths) arises as they actively draw matter from an orbiting companion.
“We think these ‘ultra-luminous X-ray sources’ are somewhat special binary systems, sucking up gas at a much higher rate than an ordinary X-ray binary,” said Ciro Pinto, a research associate from the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, UK, and author of a recent study. “Some host highly magnetised neutron stars, while others might conceal the long-sought-after intermediate-mass black holes, which have masses around 1000 times the mass of the Sun. But in the majority of cases, the reason for their extreme behaviour is still unclear.”
It’s been difficult to study them in detail because we've lacked the sensitivity needed to identify the emission lines and/or absorption lines created by specific elements. When light passes through material such as gas, certain wavelengths are absorbed by elements in the gas, leaving a blank line in the light source’s spectrum. Emission lines are light emitted by the element itself.