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Businesses

Comcast To Charge $30 For Unlimited Data Over 300GB Cap 15

For some time, Comcast has been testing 300 GB monthly data caps in certain markets. An anonymous reader notes a policy change unveiled today that gives customers in those markets the ability to switch back to unlimited data for $30 extra. Previously (and currently, for customers who don't pay the extra $30), Comcast would charge $10 per 50GB above the cap. "Comcast's intent on this front has been clear for some time. Comcast lobbyist and VP David Cohen last year strongly suggested that usage caps would be arriving for all Comcast customers sooner or later. The idea of charging users a premium to avoid arbitrary usage restrictions has been a pipe dream of incumbent ISP executives for a decade." The new policy goes into effect on October 1.
Firefox

Video Mozilla Project Working on Immersive Displays (Video) 8

Yes, it's 3-D, and works with the Firefox browser. But that's not all. The MozVR virtual reality system is not just for Firefox, and it can incorporate infrared and other sensors to give a more complete picture than can be derived from visible light alone. In theory, the user's (client) computer needs no special hardware beyond a decent GPU and an Oculus Rift headset. Everything else lives on a server.

Is this the future of consumer displays? Even if not, the development is fun to watch, which you can start doing at mozvr.com -- and if you're serious about learning about this project you may want to read our interview transcript in addition to watching the video, because the transcript contains additional information.
Media

Mozilla, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Others Form 'Alliance For Open Media' 46

BrianFagioli tips news that Mozilla, Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Intel, Amazon, and Netflix are teaming up to create the Alliance for Open Media, "an open-source project that will develop next-generation media formats, codecs and technologies in the public interest." Several of these companies have been working on this problem alone: Mozilla started Daala, Google has VP9 and VP10, and Cisco just recently announced Thor. Amazon and Netflix, of course, are major suppliers of online video streaming, so they have a vested interested in royalty-free codecs. They're inviting others to join them — the more technology and patents they get on their side, the less likely they'll run into the issues that Microsoft's VC-1 and Google's VP8 struggled with. "The Alliance will operate under W3C patent rules and release code under an Apache 2.0 license. This means all Alliance participants are waiving royalties both for the codec implementation and for any patents on the codec itself."
Earth

Citi Report: Slowing Global Warming Could Save Tens of Trillions of Dollars 157

Layzej writes with news carried by The Guardian about a report published by the Global Perspectives & Solutions division of Citibank (America's third-largest bank) examining the costs and benefits of a low-carbon future. The report examined two hypothetical futures: one "business as usual," and the other (the "Action" scenario) which includes an aggressive move to reduce energy use and carbon emission. From the article: "One of the most interesting findings in the report is that the investment costs for the two scenarios are almost identical. In fact, because of savings due to reduced fuel costs and increased energy efficiency, the Action scenario is actually a bit cheaper than the Inaction scenario. Coupled with the fact the total spend is similar under both action and inaction, yet the potential liabilities of inaction are enormous, it is hard to argue against a path of action." But there will be winners and losers, says the report: "The biggest loser stands to be the coal industry, where we estimate cumulative spend under our Action scenario could be $11.6 trillion less than in our Inaction scenario over the next quarter century, with renewables, wind and nuclear (as well as energy efficiency) the main beneficiaries."
Open Source

LILO Bootloader Development To End 118

An anonymous reader writes: For any longtime Linux users, you probably remember the LILO bootloader from Linux distributions of many years ago. This bootloader has been in development since the 90's but development is finally ending. A homepage message reads, "I plan to finish development of LILO at 12/2015 because of some limitations (e.g. with BTFS, GPT, RAID). If someone want to develop this nice software further, please let me know ..."
United States

US Weighs Sanctioning Russia As Well As China In Cyber Attacks 67

New submitter lvbees7 writes with news that U.S. officials have warned that the government may impose sanctions against Russia and China following cyber attacks to commercial targets. According to the Reuters story: The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no final decision had been made on imposing sanctions, which could strain relations with Russia further and, if they came soon, cast a pall over a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September. The Washington Post first reported the Obama administration was considering sanctioning Chinese targets, possibly within the next few weeks, and said that individuals and firms from other nations could also be targeted. It did not mention Russia.
Security

Six UK Teens Arrested For Being "Customers" of Lizard Squad's DDoS Service 71

An anonymous reader writes: UK officials have arrested six teenagers suspected of utilizing Lizard Squad's website attack tool called "Lizzard Stresser". Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for the infamous Christmas Day Xbox Live and PlayStation Network attacks. The teenagers "are suspected of maliciously deploying Lizard Stresser, having bought the tool using alternative payment services such as Bitcoin in a bid to remain anonymous," an NCA spokesperson wrote in an official statement on the case. "Organizations believed to have been targeted by the suspects include a leading national newspaper, a school, gaming companies, and a number of online retailers."
Earth

Nearly Every Seabird May Be Eating Plastic By 2050 132

sciencehabit writes: According to a new study almost every ocean-foraging species of birds may be eating plastic by 2050. In the five large ocean areas known as "garbage patches," each square kilometer of surface water holds almost 600,000 pieces of debris. Sciencemag reports: "By 2050, about 99.8% of the species studied will have eaten plastic, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Consuming plastic can cause myriad problems, Wilcox says. For example, some types of plastics absorb and concentrate environmental pollutants, he notes. After ingestion, those chemicals can be released into the birds’ digestive tracts, along with chemicals in the plastics that keep them soft and pliable. But plastic bits aren’t always pliable enough to get through a gull’s gut. Most birds have trouble passing large bits of plastic, and they build up in the stomach, sometimes taking up so much room that the birds can’t consume enough food to stay healthy."
AI

How Artificial Intelligence Can Fight Air Pollution In China 49

An anonymous reader writes: IBM is testing a new way to help fix Beijing's air pollution problem with artificial intelligence. Like many other cities across the country, the capital is surrounded by many coal burning factories. However, the air quality on a day-to-day basis can vary because of a number of reasons like industrial activity, traffic congestion, and the weather. IBM is testing a computer system capable of learning to predict the severity of air pollution several days in advance using large quantities of data from several different models. "We have built a prototype system which is able to generate high-resolution air quality forecasts, 72 hours ahead of time," says Xiaowei Shen, director of IBM Research China. "Our researchers are currently expanding the capability of the system to provide medium- and long-term (up to 10 days ahead) as well as pollutant source tracking, 'what-if' scenario analysis, and decision support on emission reduction actions."
Earth

3 Category 4 Hurricanes Develop In the Pacific At Once For the First Time 273

Kristine Lofgren writes: For the first time in recorded history, three Category 4 hurricanes were seen in the Pacific Ocean at the same time. Climatologists have been warning that climate change may produce more extreme weather situations, and this may be a peek at the future to come. Eric Blake, a specialist with the National Hurricane Center summed it up with a tweet: "Historic central/eastern Pacific outbreak- 3 major hurricanes at once for the first time on record!"
Books

Book Review: Effective Python: 59 Specific Ways To Write Better Python 66

MassDosage writes: If you are familiar with the "Effective" style of books then you probably already know how this book is structured. If not here's a quick primer: the book consists of a number of small sections each of which focus on a specific problem, issue or idea and these are discussed in a "here's the best way to do X" manner. These sections are grouped into related chapters but can be read in pretty much any order and generally don't depend on each other (and when they do this will be called out in the text). The idea is that you can read the book from cover to cover if you want but you can also just dip in and out and read only the sections that are of interest to you. This also means that you can use the book as a reference in future when you inevitably forget the details or want to double check something. Read below for the rest of Mass Dosage's review.
Government

Cities Wasting Millions of Taxpayer's Money In Failed IoT Pilots 145

dkatana writes: Two years ago at the Smart Cities Expo World Congress, Antoni Vives, then Barcelona's second deputy mayor, said he refused to have more technology pilots in the city: "I hate pilots, if anyone of you [technology companies] comes to me selling a pilot, just get away, I don't want to see you." He added, "I am fed up with the streets full of devices. It is a waste of time, a waste of money, and doesn't deliver anything; it is just for the sake of selling something to the press and it does not work."

Barcelona is already a leading city in the use of IoT and, according to Fortune, "The most wired city in the world". Over the past 10 years, the city has experienced a surge in the number of sensors, data collection devices and automation and has become "a showcase for the smart metropolis of the future". Over the past few years technology companies have sold pilot programs costing millions of dollars to cities all over the world, claiming it will enhance their "Smart City" rating. Unfortunately, after the initial buzz, many of those pilots never get beyond the evaluation stage and are abandoned because the cities cannot afford them in the first place.
The Almighty Buck

Ask Slashdot: What Would You Do If You Were Suddenly Wealthy? 762

An anonymous reader writes: There are a few articles floating around today about comments from Markus Persson, aka "Notch," the creator of Minecraft. He sold his game studio to Microsoft last year for $2.5 billion, but he seems to be having a hard time adjusting to his newfound fame and wealth. He wrote, "The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance. ... Found a great girl, but she's afraid of me and my life style and went with a normal person instead. I would Musk and try to save the world, but that just exposes me to the same type of a$#@%&*s that made me sell minecraft again." While he later suggests he was just having a bad day, he does seem to be dealing with some isolation issues. Granted, it can be hard to feel sorry for a billionaire, but I've wondered at times how I'd handle sudden wealth like that, and I long ago decided it would make the human relationships I'm accustomed to rather difficult. So, how would you deal with Notch's problem? It seems like one the tech industry should at least be aware of, given the focus on startup culture.
Government

Where the Tech Industry's Political Donations Are Going 128

An anonymous reader writes: Early estimates suggest the 2016 U.S. presidential election will result in $5-10 billion in spending by candidates and organizations — much more than ever before. To support this, they need lots of contributions, and the tech industry is becoming a significant player. (Not as much as the financial industry, of course, but tech's influence is growing.) Re/Code breaks down which candidates are getting the most money from the tech sector so far. Right now, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has gotten the most tech money by far — more than the rest of the field combined, thanks in large part to Larry Ellison. Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, is a distant second, followed closely by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) are the only other candidates with significant tech contributions so far. Carly Fiorina, a tech industry veteran, has only managed about $13,000 in donations.
Earth

"McKinley" Since 1917, Alaska's Highest Peak Is Redesignated "Denali" 378

NPR reports that the Alaskan mountain which has for nearly a century been known officially as Mt. McKinley will revert to the name under which it's been known for a much longer time: Denali. President Obama is to "make a public announcement of the name change in Anchorage Monday, during a three-day visit to Alaska." Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's secretarial order of August 28th declares the name change to be immediately effective, and directs the United States Board on Geographic Names "to immediately implement this name change, including changing the mountain's name in the Board's Geographic Names Information System and notifying all interested parties of the name change."
Movies

Brain Cancer Claims Horror Maestro Wes Craven At 76 35

New submitter JamesA writes: Wes Craven, the famed writer-director of horror films known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream movies, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76. Though he's far less known as a novelist than for his various horror film jobs (writer, director, producer, actor ...), Craven also wrote a few books; I can't vouch for "Coming of Rage," but "Fountain Society" is pretty solid speculative fiction. Wikipedia notes that Craven also "designed the Halloween 2008 logo for Google, and was the second celebrity personality to take over the YouTube homepage on Halloween."
The Military

F-35 To Face Off Against A-10 In CAS Test 457

An anonymous reader writes: Lara Seligman from Defense News reports that the capabilities of the Joint Strike Fighter are to be evaluated for close-air support (CAS) missions. She writes, "To gauge the joint strike fighter's ability to perform in a close-air support role, the Pentagon's top weapons tester has declared the sleek new fighter jet must face off against the lumbering A-10. The Pentagon's Office of Operational Test and Evaluation plans to pit the full-up F-35 against the legacy A-10 Warthog and potentially other fighter jets to evaluate the next-generation aircraft's ability to protect soldiers on the ground."
The Internet

CenturyLink Takes $3B In Subsidies For Building Out Rural Broadband 197

New submitter club77er writes with a link to a DSL Reports article outlining some hefty subsidies (about $3 billion, all told) that CenturyLink has signed up to receive, in exchange for expanding its coverage to areas considered underserved: According to the CenturyLink announcement, the telco will take $500 million a year for six years from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s Connect America Fund (CAF). In exchange, it will expand broadband to approximately 1.2 million rural households and businesses in 33 states. While the FCC now defines broadband as 25 Mbps down, these subsidies require that the deployed services be able to provide speeds of at least 10 Mbps down.
Education

NSF Makes It Rain: $722K Award To Evaluate Microsoft-Backed TEALS 60

theodp writes: Microsoft has $92 billion in cash parked offshore, so it's kind of surprising to see a $722K National Science Foundation award is going towards validating the efficacy of Microsoft TEALS, the pet program of CEO Satya Nadella that sends volunteer software engineers with no teaching experience into high schools to teach kids and their teachers computer science. Among its Program Changes for 2015, TEALS said it "explicitly commits to provide a core set of curriculum materials that are complete, organized, and adaptable," which should help improve the outcome of the Developing Computer Science Pedagogical Content Knowledge through On-the-Job Learning NSF study schools are being asked to participate in. Meanwhile, CSTUY, a volunteer organization led by experienced CS teachers (including Slashdot user zamansky), finds itself turning to Kickstarter for $25K to fund Saturday Hacking Sessions. So, as Microsoft-backed Code.org — which has also attracted NSF award money to validate its CS program — is fond of saying: What's wrong with this picture? (To be fair to TEALS: it may have Microsoft backing, but it's not strictly a Microsoft effort, and also started out as a pure volunteer effort, as founder Kevin Wang explained earlier this year.)
Censorship

Assange Says Harrods Assisting Metro Police in 'Round-the-Clock Vigil' 260

The Daily Mail reports that Julian Assange seems to have yet another foe (or at least friend of a foe) watching persistently while he stays put in the Ecuadorean embassy in London: Harrod's Department Store. The Metro Police, according to Assange, have developed a relationship with the store, and are using that relationship to facilitate their full-time observation of his roosting place in the embassy. When the founder of Wikileaks says, "We have obtained documents from Harrods [saying that] police have people stationed 24 hours a day in some of the opposing buildings Harrods controls," it seems likely that those documents actually exist.