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Software

MIT Simplifies Design Process For 3D Printing 2

An anonymous reader writes: New software out of MIT and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel takes CAD files and automatically builds visual models that users can alter with simple, visual sliders. It works by computing myriad design variations before a user asks for them. When the CAD file is loaded, the software runs through a host of size variations on various properties of the object, evaluating whether the changes would work in a 3D printer, and doing the necessary math to plan tool routes. When a user moves one of the sliders, it switches the design along these pre-computer values. "The system automatically weeds out all the parameter values that lead to unprintable or unstable designs, so the sliders are restricted to valid designs. Moving one of the sliders — changing the height of the shoe's heel, say, or the width of the mug's base — sweeps through visual depictions of the associated geometries."

There are two big drawbacks: first, it requires a lot of up-front processing power to compute the variations on an object. Second, resolution for changes is fixed if you want quick results — changing the design for a pair of 3D-printed shoes from size 8 to size 9 might be instantaneous, but asking for a shoe that's a quarter of a millimeter longer than a size 8 would take several minutes to process. But for scrolling through the pre-computed design changes, the software can present "in real time what would take hours to calculate with a CAD program," and without the requisite experience with CAD.
Power

Solar Windows Could Help Power Buildings 24

Lucas123 writes: Several companies are now beginning to roll out translucent photovoltaic films or solar cells embedded in windows that can supplement a significant amount of energy in the buildings where they're used. SolarWindow Technologies, for example, is preparing to launch a transparent product made with organic PVs, while another company, Solaria, is cutting solar cells into thin strips and embedding them in windows. Both companies admit their products can't produce the 20% efficiency ratings of today's best rooftop solar panels, but they say that's not their objective. Instead, the companies are looking to take advantage of millions of skyscraper windows that today are simply unused real estate for renewable energy. One company is aiming at supplementing 20% to 30% of a skyscrapers power requirements. Meanwhile, universities are also jumping into the solar window arena. Oxford University has spun off a PV window company that produces semi-transparent solar cells made of semi-transparent perovskite oxide that has achieved a 20% solar energy efficiency.
The Almighty Buck

$415 Million Settlement Approved In Tech Worker Anti-Poaching Case 46

An anonymous reader writes: Adobe, Apple, Google, and Intel have been embroiled in a high-profile court case accusing them of creating anti-poaching agreements in an attempt to keep tech industry salaries under control. Now, Judge Lucy Koh has ruled that the $415 million settlement against the tech giants is fair, and will stand. Koh also cut in half the amount awarded to the attorneys in the case. The lawsuit was a class-action originally joined by about 64,000 workers. Other companies were involved with the case, and reached settlements earlier, and a few members of the class action may opt out of any settlement. But the remaining members will only get something in the vicinity of $6,000 apiece for the damage done to their earnings.
Privacy

Some Uber Ride Data Publicly Accessible Through Google 20

itwbennett writes: On Thursday, ZDNet reported that Uber ride data had leaked into Google search results. Zach Minors confirms in this article that a "site-specific Google search for trip.uber.com produced dozens of links to Uber rides that have been completed and cancelled, in countries around the world including the U.S., England, Russia, France and Mexico. Each link leads to a Web site with a map showing the ride's route, with the pickup and destination tagged with markers. A card on the page also shows the first name of the rider and driver, along the driver's photo, make and model of the car, and license plate number." However, what appeared to be a privacy red flag was not a "data leak," according to an Uber spokeswoman: "We have found that all these links have been deliberately shared publicly by riders. Protection of user data is critically important to us and we are always looking for ways to make it even more secure."
Medicine

Pentagon Halts Work at Labs For Dangerous Pathogens After Anthrax Scare 32

An anonymous reader writes: The Pentagon announced yesterday it is issuing a moratorium on work at nine different biodefense labs after live anthrax was discovered outside containment at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The facility was discovered to have been shipping live anthrax specimens — instead of dead ones — to other labs. Work can only begin again after the shuttered facilities are certain to be clean of anthrax and assured of safe conduct. "The review calls for the military labs to ensure that personnel are properly trained on lab safety procedures and that necessary maintenance is conducted on biosafety level 3 lab facilities that work with some of the most dangerous pathogens. It calls for validating record-keeping and inventories of the military's 'Critical Reagents Program' — including 'ensuring that all materials associated with the CRP are properly accounted for.'"
Programming

An Idea For Software's Industrial Revolution 166

An anonymous reader writes: Tech company Code Valley makes the bold claim that a software industrial revolution may be imminent (PDF). They propose shifting developers from the coding domain (current software development practice) to a "design-domain," where the emphasis is no longer on writing code, but on decentralized design – code becomes simply a by-product of this collaboration. In this design-domain, software programs are designed (and built) by a peer-to-peer supply chain of software vendors, each owned and managed by a software engineer. They envisage a global supply-chain of these software experts capable of reliably delivering immensely complex software.
Crime

Science Teacher Arrested After Crashing Drone At US Open 134

An anonymous reader writes: We all had that science teacher growing up — the one who took his classroom experiments a little too far. The one with the potato cannon. The one who made you wonder how he didn't get into trouble in his spare time. Well, it's finally happened for one science teacher from New York City. The 26-year-old man was arrested last night after he crashed a drone into some empty seats at the U.S. Open. He was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless operation of a drone, and operating a drone in a New York City public park outside a prescribed area for doing so. Nobody was injured, but the drone did fly through the arena while a pair of tennis players were in the middle of a match. The game was briefly interrupted when the drone crashed.
NASA

NASA To 'Lasso' a Comet To Hitchhike Across the Solar System 75

evilviper writes: Traveling around space can require a lot of fuel, to help fight the fuel bill NASA has a spacecraft concept that would hitch a free ride on one of the many comets and asteroids traveling across our solar system. Comet Hitchhiker, developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, would feature a reusable tether system to replace the need for propellant for entering orbit and landing on objects.

The spacecraft would first cast an extendable tether toward the object and attach itself using a harpoon attached to the tether. Next, it would reel out the tether while applying a brake that harvests energy while the spacecraft accelerates. This allows Comet Hitchhiker to accelerate and slowly match the speed of its ride, and keeping that slight tension on the line harvests energy that is stored on-board for later use, reeling itself down to the surface of the comet or asteroid. A comet hitchhiker spacecraft can obtain up to ~10 km/s of delta-V by using a carbon nanotube (CNT) tether, reaching the current orbital distance of Pluto (32.6 AU) in just 5.6 years.
Networking

For Future Wearable Devices, the Network Could Be You 19

angry tapir writes: Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have found a way for wearable devices to communicate through a person's body instead of the air around it. Their work could lead to devices that last longer on smaller batteries and don't give away secrets as easily as today's systems do. From the Computerworld story: "A team led by Professor Patrick Mercier of the university's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has discovered a way to use the body itself as the medium for data transmission. It uses magnetic fields and shows path loss that's 10 million times lower than what happens with Bluetooth. This could make the magnetic networks much more efficient, so devices don't have to work as hard to communicate and can have smaller batteries -- or get longer useful lives with the same size batteries. The team hasn't actually tested the system's energy use yet. They envision the technology being used for networks of health sensors that monitor many parts of the body."
Math

Ada Lovelace and Her Legacy 105

nightcats writes: Nature has an extensive piece on the legacy of the "enchantress of abstraction," the extraordinary Victorian-era computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Her monograph on the Babbage machine was described by Babbage himself as a creation of "that Enchantress who has thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it with a force that few masculine intellects (in our own country at least) could have exerted over it." Ada's remarkable merging of intellect and intuition — her capacity to analyze and capture the conceptual and functional foundations of the Babbage machine — is summarized with a historical context which reveals the precocious modernity of her scientific mind. "By 1841 Lovelace was developing a concept of 'Poetical Science', in which scientific logic would be driven by imagination, 'the Discovering faculty, pre-eminently. It is that which penetrates into the unseen worlds around us, the worlds of science.' She saw mathematics metaphysically, as 'the language of the unseen relations between things;' but added that to apply it, 'we must be able to fully appreciate, to feel, to seize, the unseen, the unconscious.' She also saw that Babbage's mathematics needed more imaginative presentation."
Transportation

Pioneer Looks To Laserdisc Tech For Low-Cost LIDAR 49

itwbennett writes: Pioneer is developing a 3D LIDAR (light detection and ranging) sensor for use in autonomous vehicles that could be a fraction of the cost of current systems (the company envisions a price point under $83). Key to this is technology related to optical pickups once used in laserdisc players, which Pioneer made for 30 years. From the ITWorld story: "The system would detect objects dozens of meters ahead, measure their distance and width and identify them based on their shape. Pioneer, which makes GPS navigation systems, is working on getting the LIDAR to automatically produce high-precision digital maps while using a minimum of data compared to the amount used for standard maps for car navigation."
Transportation

Copenhagen's New All-Electric Public Carsharing Programming 79

dkatana writes: Residents in Copenhagen have a new all-electric, free-floating, carsharing service. DriveNow is launching 400 brand new BMW i3 electric cars in the Danish city. The service is one-way, and metered by the minute. The big news is that residents can sign-up on the spot taking a picture of their drivers' license and a selfie and use their public transport accounts to pay. There will be a car available every 300 meters, the same distance as bus stops. The cost will be 3.50 kroner ($0.52) per minute driven. If members decide to park the car for a few minutes continuing the rental, those stationary minutes are charged at 2.5 kroner ($0.37). The maximum charge per hour is capped at 190 kroner ($28.50). There is no annual fee.
The Internet

Connecting the Unwired World With Balloons, Satellites, Lasers & Drones 14

1sockchuck writes: New projects are seeking to connect the unwired world using balloons, drones, lasers and satellites to deliver wireless Internet. There are dueling low-earth orbit satellite initiatives backed by billionaires Elon Musk (SpaceX) and Richard Branson (OneWeb), while Google's Project Loon is using balloons (which sometimes crash) and Facebook is building a solar-powered UAV (Project Aquila). “The Connectivity Lab team is very focused on the technical challenges of reaching those people who are typically in the more rural, unconnected parts of the world,” Jay Parikh, vice president of engineering at Facebook says. “I think that we need to get them access. My hope is that we are able to deliver a very rich experience to them, including videos, photos and—some day—virtual reality and all of that stuff. But it’s a multi-, multi-, multi-year challenge, and I don’t see any end in sight right now.”
Earth

Easy-To-Clean Membrane Separates Oil From Water 36

ckwu writes: A steel mesh with a novel self-cleaning coating can separate oil and water, easily lifting oil from an oil-water mixture and leaving the water behind. Unlike existing oil-water separation membranes, if the coated mesh gets contaminated with oil, it can be simply rinsed off with water and reused, without needing to be cleaned with detergents. The team was able to use the mesh to lift crude oil from a crude oil-seawater mixture, showcasing the feasibility of oil-spill cleanup. The membrane could also be used to treat oily wastewater and as a protective barrier in industrial sewer outlets to avoid oil discharge.
United Kingdom

14-Year-Old Boy Placed On Police Register After Sending Naked Picture To Classmate 233

Ewan Palmer reports: A teenage boy in the UK has had a crime of making and distributing indecent images recorded against him after he sent a naked picture of himself to one of his female classmates. The 14-year-old was not formally arrested after he sent the explicit image to a girl of the same age via Snapchat. The police file against the boy will now remain active for 10 years, meaning any future employer conducting an advanced Criminal Records Bureau check will be aware of the incident. However, it is not clear whether a police file was recorded for the girl who saved and shared the image. Under new legislation, if she had been over 18, the girl could have been convicted under the so called 'revenge porn' law in the UK.
Medicine

Completely Paralyzed Man Walks In Robotic Exoskeleton 23

Zothecula writes: Working with a team of UCLA scientists, a man with protracted and complete paralysis has recovered sufficient voluntary control to take charge of a bionic exoskeleton and take many thousands of steps. Using a non-invasive spinal stimulation system that requires no surgery, this is claimed (abstract) to be the first time that a person with such a comprehensive disability has been able to actively and voluntarily walk with such a device.
Communications

Municipal ISP Makes 10Gbps Available To All Residents 158

An anonymous reader writes: Five years ago, the city of Salisbury, North Carolina began a project to roll out fiber across its territory. They decided to do so because the private ISPs in the area weren't willing to invest more in the local infrastructure. Now, Salisbury has announced that it's ready to make 10 Gbps internet available to all of the city's residents. While they don't expect many homeowners to have a use for the $400/month 10 Gbps plan, they expect to have some business customers. "This is really geared toward attracting businesses that need this type of bandwidth and have it anywhere they want in the city." Normal residents can get 50 Mbps upstream and downstream for $45/month. A similar service was rolled out for a rural section of Vermont in June. Hopefully these cities will serve as blueprints for other locations that aren't able to get a decent fiber system from private ISPs.
Communications

The Speakularity, Where Everything You Say Is Transcribed and Searchable 73

An anonymous reader sends an article from Nautilus about the possible future of speech recognition software. Today, hundreds of millions of people are walking around with devices that can not only record sound, but also do a decent job of turning spoken word into searchable text. The article makes the case that the recording and transcription of normal conversation will become commonplace, sooner or later. Not only would this potentially make a lot more interesting discussion available beyond earshot, but it could also facilitate information retrieval on a personal level.

The article makes an analogy with email — right now, if you communicated with somebody through email a decade ago, you don't have to remember the specifics — as long as you didn't delete it or switch email providers, you can just search and look at exactly what was said. Of course, the power of such technology comes with trade-offs — not only would we be worried about the obvious privacy issues, but many people may feel restricted by always "performing" for the microphones. Some researchers also worry that if we have technology to remember for us, we'll put much less effort into remembering things ourselves.
United Kingdom

WWII Bomb Shelter Becomes Hi-Tech Salad Farm 116

asjk points out a story of how a World War II bomb shelter, situated 33 meters beneath the streets of London, has been turned into a high-tech hydroponic farm. "The growing system uses energy-efficient LEDs instead of sun, no pesticides, needs 70 percent less water than growing plants in open fields, and less energy than a greenhouse." The computer-controlled environment is designed to shorten the growth cycle of plants like coriander and radishes. They're currently only using about a quarter of the gear necessary to fill up the shelter, but they can produce 5,000-20,000 kilograms of food per year, depending on what they raise. Co-founder Steven Dring said, "We've got to utilize the spaces we've got. There's a finite amount of land and we can grow salads and herbs — which start losing flavor and quality as soon as you cut them — in warehouses and rooftops in cities near the people who will eat them. Use the rural land for things like carrots, potatoes and livestock."
Security

Despite Reports of Hacking, Baby Monitors Remain Woefully Insecure 107

itwbennett writes: Researchers from security firm Rapid7 have found serious vulnerabilities in nine video baby monitors from various manufacturers. Among them: Hidden and hard-coded credentials providing local and remote access over services like SSH or Telnet; unencrypted video streams sent to the user's mobile phone; unencrypted Web and mobile application functions and unprotected API keys and credentials; and other vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to abuse the devices, according to a white paper released Tuesday. Rapid7 reported the issues it found to the affected manufacturers and to US-CERT back in July, but many vulnerabilities remain unpatched.