New Reality Show's Prize? 10 Days on the International Space Station
A planned reality show will seek to give the winner of its on-air competition "the greatest prize ever given out on Earth" — a 10-day stay on the International Space Station...
The production company's press release said that the team is "now looking for global brand and primary distribution partners." Space Hero is planning to open the application process for the show in the first half of 2021 before broadcasting begins in 2022, a spokesperson said via email Friday... Space Hero, which is headed by a former News Corp executive named Marty Pompadur, said it is working with Texas-based startup Axiom Space to coordinate the trip into orbit.
Axiom was co-founded and led by Michael Suffredini, who led NASA's International Space Station Program from 2005 to 2015. The company plans to serve as a go-between for NASA, launch providers such as SpaceX and Boeing, and any private-sector individuals interested in booking rides to space for tourism, entertainment or other business purposes. Axiom has also said it can provide all the training necessary to prepare individuals for a trip to the ISS...
Private citizens have visited the space station before: A company called Space Adventures previously organized eight trips to the International Space Station for ultra-wealthy travelers between 2001 and 2009 using Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Allowing tourists and other private citizens to make use of the space station — via SpaceX's or Boeing's new spacecraft — is part of NASA's goal of commercializing outer space.
CNN notes that Axiom is also handling the training and coordination for
that Tom Cruise movie that's going to be filmed in space.
'At This Point, 5G is a Bad Joke'
An anonymous reader shared
this skeptical opinion piece from Computerworld:
Let's start with the name itself. There is no single "5G." There are, in fact, three different varieties, with very different kinds of performance... But, what most people want, what most people lust for is 1Gbps speeds with less than 10 milliseconds of latency... [T]o get that kind of speed you must have mmWave 5G — and it comes with a lot of caveats.
First, it has a range, at best, of 150 meters. If you're driving, that means, until 5G base stations are everywhere, you're going to be losing your high-speed signal a lot. Practically speaking, for the next few years, if you're on the move, you're not going to be seeing high-speed 5G. And, even if you are in range of a 5G base station, anything — and I mean anything — can block its high-frequency signal. Window glass, for instance, can stop it dead. So, you could have a 5G transceiver literally on your street corner and not be able to get a good signal. How bad is this? NTT DoCoMo, Japan's top mobile phone service provider, is working on a new kind of window glass, just so their mmWave 5G will work. I don't know about you, but I don't want to shell out a few grand to replace my windows just to get my phone to work.
Let's say, though, that you've got a 5G phone and you're sure you can get 5G service — what kind of performance can you really expect? According to Washington Post tech columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler, you can expect to see a "diddly squat" 5G performance... ["roughly the same as on 4G LTE," while some places "actually have been slower."] It wasn't just him, since he lives in that technology backwater known as the San Francisco bay area. He checked with several national firms tracking 5G performance. They found that all three major U.S. telecom networks' 5G isn't that much faster than 4G. Indeed, OpenSignal reports that U.S. 5G users saw an average speed of 33.4Mbps. Better than 4G, yes, but not "Wow! This is great!" speeds most people seem to be dreaming of. It's also, I might add, much worse than any other country using 5G, with the exception of the United Kingdom.
Oracle's Plan to Keep Java Developers from Leaving for Rust and Kotlin
Oracle has released version 15 of Java, the language created 25 years ago by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems, which Oracle snapped up in 2009 for about $7.4bn to gain what it said was the "most important software Oracle has ever acquired". Java 15, or Oracle Java Development Kit (JDK) 15, brings the Edwards-Curve digital signature algorithm, hidden classes, and former preview features that have been finalized, including text blocks, and the Z Garbage Collector, while the sealed-classes feature arrives and pattern matching and records emerge as a second preview...
As part of Java's 25th anniversary, Oracle commissioned analyst firm Omdia to assess its six-month release strategy for Java and whether it would be enough to keep millions of Java developers away from memory-safe alternatives such as Kotlin, the language Google has endorsed for Android development, and Rust, a system programming language that was created at Mozilla. "In Omdia's opinion, the work Oracle began a few years ago in moving to a six-month update cycle and introducing a new level of modularity, puts the vendor in good stead with its constituency of approximately 12 million developers," Oracle said in its report on Omdia's analysis.
"However, Oracle and the Java programming language need an ongoing series of innovative, must-have, and 'delightful' features that make the language even more user friendly and cloud capable. These will keep existing Java developers happy while steering potential Java developers away from newer languages like Rust and Kotlin."
Should Employers Cut Your Salary If You Change Cities?
Stripe is paying employees $20,000 if they relocate from expensive cities such as San Francisco, Seattle and New York, where the company has offices. But workers who make the move will have to take a 10% pay cut.
"Twitter Inc. and ServiceNow Inc.
have all considered similar measures," reports Bloomberg. And Forbes notes that other companies
are also grappling with similar policies:
According to Bloomberg, "employees who worked at VMware's Palo Alto, California, headquarters and go to Denver, for example, must accept an 18% salary reduction. Leaving Silicon Valley for Los Angeles or San Diego means relinquishing 8% of their annual pay." Rich Lang, VMware's senior vice president of human resources, offered a positive alternative. When a person relocates and works remotely, they "could get a raise if they chose to move to a larger or more expensive city..."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg forewarned his personnel, saying those who flee to lower-cost cities "may have their compensation adjusted based on their new locations." The chief executive added, "We'll adjust salary to your location at that point. There'll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this."
Microsoft Submits Linux Kernel Patches to Make Linux Run as Root Partition on Hyper-V
"Microsoft has submitted a series of patches to Linux kernel developers," reports ZDNet, "
requesting that Linux run as the root partition on the Hyper-V, its hypervisor software for running Windows and non-Windows instances on hardware."
Microsoft "wants to create a complete virtualization stack with Linux and Microsoft Hypervisor", according to Microsoft principle software engineer Wei Liu. Liu has proposed an RFC or request for comment that for now merely implements what are only the "absolutely necessary components to get things running... There will be a subsequent patch series to provide a device node (/dev/mshv) such that userspace programs can create and run virtual machines. We've also ported Cloud Hypervisor over and have been able to boot a Linux guest with Virtio devices since late July." Cloud Hypervisor is an experimental open-source hypervisor implementation from Intel written in the Rust programming language. It's a virtual-machine monitor that runs on top of KVM, the Kernel-based Virtual Machine hypervisor in the Linux kernel that's designed for cloud workloads...
Liu points out three more changes beyond amendments to the Hyper-V Top-Level Functional Specification. For example, Microsoft wants Linux to set up existing Hyper-V facilities differently. It also wants Linux kernel developers to change the kernel's behavior when accessing hardware memory in a way that affects driver access to the GPU and CPU that's being managed by an operating system memory manager. It's this issue that Microsoft engineers are least confident about and are asking for Linux developer support, according to Liu....
As Microsoft's executive VP of the cloud and enterprise group, Scott Guthrie, told ZDNet last year, Microsoft's shift to Linux and open source started over a decade ago when it open-sourced ASP.NET. "We recognized open source is something that every developer can benefit from. It's not nice, it's essential. It's not just code, it's community," explained Guthrie.
European Spacecraft Flying Past Venus Will Now Look for Signs of Life
"Earlier this week, scientists announced the
discovery of phosphine on Venus, a potential signature of life. Now, in an amazing coincidence, a European and Japanese spacecraft
is about to fly past the planet — and could confirm the discovery," writes Forbes. Slashdot reader
Iwastheone shares their report:
BepiColombo, launched in 2018, is on its way to enter orbit around Mercury, the innermost planet of the Solar System. But to achieve that it plans to use two flybys of Venus to slow itself down, one on October 15, 2020, and another on August 10, 2021. The teams running the spacecraft already had plans to observe Venus during the flyby. But now, based on this detection of phosphine from telescopes on Earth, they are now planning to use both of these flybys to look for phosphine using an instrument on the spacecraft...
As this first flyby is only weeks away, however, the observation campaign of the spacecraft is already set in stone, making the chance of a discovery slim. More promising is the second flyby next year, which will not only give the team more time to prepare, but also approach just 550 kilometers from Venus...
If a detection can be made, it would provide independent verification of the presence of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus. And for future missions planning to visit the planet, which alongside Rocket Lab's mission includes potential spacecraft from NASA, India, Russia, and Europe, that could be vital information.
Where's the Yelp For Open-source Tools?
Esther Schindler (Slashdot reader #16,185), shares some thoughts from long-time tech reporter Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols:
We'd like an easy way to judge open-source programs. It can be done. But easily? That's another matter... Plenty of people have created systems to collect, judge, and evaluate open-source projects, including information about a project's popularity, reliability, and activity. But each of those review sites — and their methodologies — have flaws.
The article looks at a variety of attempts, including
freshmeat.net; Eric Raymond's
attempt to revive Freecode; GitHub's star (which Docker's co-founder calls
a "bullshit metric"); Synopsys's
Black Duck Open Hub (formerly Ohloh); and even
Google Trends. But it wraps up by pointing out that Brian Profitt, Red Hat's Open Source Program Office (OSPO) manager, is working with others on "
Project CHAOSS," a new Linux Foundation project to make it easy to evaluate open-source projects.
This pulled together Grimoirelab and similar programs, such as Augur and Red Hat's own Prospector... Its metrics include what kinds of contributions are being made; when the contributions are made; and who's making the contributions. All of which are vital to understanding the overall health of a project.
CHAOSS is still a work in progress. Its official release is scheduled for February 2021... Ultimately, this data will be available to all, from end users to the project leads. "In fact, I hope this happens a lot, because we can refine our models more quickly," says Profitt.
US Spy Plane Impersonates A Malaysian Aircraft
Popular Mechanics reports:
A U.S. Air Force aircraft electronically impersonated a Malaysian plane while flying over the South China Sea this week. The RC-135W Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft flew off China's Hainan island on Tuesday, coming within 55 miles of the Chinese mainland.
The caper was outed on Twitter by a think tank operated by the Chinese government, which provided enough details for independent verification. The plane's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Mode-S number, a 24-bit identifier assigned to all aircraft and broadcast by onboard transponder, was AE01CE. The Mode S system provides big-picture situational awareness and improves aviation safety. At some point, the plane's Mode-S number suddenly changed, from AE01CE to 750548. That's the ICAO number for an unknown Malaysian aircraft...
The RC-135W Rivet Joint is a converted Boeing 707 jetliner designed to collect electronic intelligence for later analysis... It's not clear why the RC-135W flew where it did. The flight probably coincided with Chinese military exercises, likely air or naval, or even a missile test. It's also worth pointing out that China's nuclear ballistic missile submarine force is based at Yulin on Hainan Island.
It's also not clear why the RC-135W engaged in the deception. Steffan Watkins, a Canadian open source intelligence researcher, tells Popular Mechanics. "If the reconnaissance is happening outside sovereign airspace, there is no pressing need to engage in that sort of deception. It's perfectly legal, and done in plain sight off the coast of Russia, Syria, and Crimea all the time — literally, every day there are RC-135s off the coast of Russia, with their transponders on, and broadcasting exactly who they are. I can't explain the difference with China. Why the difference in emissions posture and obfuscation....?"
The announcement is likely a warning to the Pentagon that the Chinese military sees through the deception, and that it's watching the watchers.
Thieves' Guild: a BBS Game With the Best 1990s Pixel Graphics You've Never Seen
"The sky is clear, the breeze is strong. A perfect day to make the long sea voyage to Mythyn," writes BBS history blogger Josh Renaud. "You prepare your galley, hire a crew of sailors, and cast off. But
a few hours into your trip, the dreaded words appear: 'Thou seest rippling waters...'"
He's describing the beginning of a 27-year-old game that he'd been searching for since 2013. Slashdot reader
Kirkman14 why the game is so special — and so rare:
Thieves' Guild is a BBS door game for the Atari ST that came out in 1993. [A "door" connected the software running the dial-up Bulletin Board system to an external application.] What made Thieves' Guild unique was its graphical front-end client, which features dozens of eye-popping pixel art vignettes, along with simple animated sprites, sampled speech, and sound effects.
As a BBS door game (strike 1) for the Atari ST (strike 2), not many people played this game or saw its front-end in the 90s. But it's worth re-discovering.
The game was created by Paul Witte and Herb Flower who teamed up again in the early 2000s to produce the MMORPG "Linkrealms."
The Pascal source code for several versions of Thieves' Guild, including an unreleased 1995 port for PC BBSes, has been rescued and published on GitHub.
Russian Announces Plan to Independently Explore Venus
has announced an intention to independently explore Venus a day after scientists said there was a gas that could be present in the planet's clouds due to single-cell microbes," reports Euronews:
The head of Russia's space corporation Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, told reporters that they would initiate a national project as "we believe that Venus is a Russian planet," according to the TASS news agency. In a statement, Roscosmos noted that the first missions to explore Venus were carried out by the Soviet Union. "The enormous gap between the Soviet Union and its competitors in the investigation of Venus contributed to the fact that the United States called Venus a Soviet planet," Roscosmos said.
The Russians claim to have extensive material that suggests that some objects on the Venusian surface have changed places or could be alive, although these are hypotheses that have yet to be confirmed.
The national project would be in addition to the "Venera-D" project that the Russians are working on with the US' National Aeronautics and Space Administration... Roscosmos said they would study the soil and atmosphere of the planet as well as the "evolutionary processes of Venus, which allegedly suffered a climatic catastrophe associated with the greenhouse effect."
Microsoft Warns Workaround Preventing Lenovo ThinkPad BSOD Increases Risk
An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet:
Microsoft has finally published a support document detailing its workaround for the August 2020 Patch Tuesday update for Windows 10 version 2004 that caused blue screens of deaths (BSODs) on newer Lenovo ThinkPads and broke Windows Hello biometric login... It's the same as Lenovo's earlier workaround but comes with a stern security warning from Microsoft.
Microsoft also explains how Lenovo Vantage violates Microsoft's security controls in Windows.
Users might bypass the BSOD screen, but they are endangering their computers by implementing the workaround, according to Microsoft. The workaround also affects some of Microsoft's latest security features for Windows 10, such as Hypervisor Code Integrity for shielding the OS from malicious drivers, as well as Windows Defender Credential Guard. "This workaround may make a computer or a network more vulnerable to attack by malicious users or by malicious software such as viruses. We do not recommend this workaround but are providing this information so that you can implement this workaround at your own discretion. Use this workaround at your own risk," Microsoft states....
The good news for affected ThinkPad users is that Microsoft and Lenovo are working together on a fix. However, Microsoft hasn't said when that will be available.
At Least 10 Amazon Employees Took Bribes from Sellers, Indictment Alleges
CBS News reports:
Six people allegedly conspired to bribe Amazon employees and contractors in order to gain a competitive advantage on the retailer's marketplace, federal prosecutors announced Friday.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, those charged posed as consultants and worked with third-party sellers whose products had previously been removed from Amazon Marketplace get the items back on the platform. The six then paid a total of more than $100,000 in bribes to least 10 Amazon employees in exchange for their restoring the banned products or services, the indictment alleges. The products included household goods, consumer electronics and dietary supplements, prosecutors said.
"The ultimate victim from this criminal conduct is the buying public, who get inferior or even dangerous goods that should have been removed from the marketplace," U.S. Attorney Brian Moran said in a statement. "As the world moves increasingly to online commerce, we must ensure that the marketplace is not corrupted with unfair advantages obtained by bribes and kickbacks...."
The six accused face up to five years in prison for commercial bribery and up to 20 years for wire fraud.
One of the six actually worked for Amazon at the beginning of the scheme, according to the article, which notes that their tactics included temporarily suspending the accounts of competitors.
One FBI agent in Seattle tells CBS, "What's equally concerning is that, not only did they attempt to increase sales of their own products, but they sought to damage and discredit their competitors."
Picture-In-Picture Mode On iOS 14 No Longer Working With YouTube's Mobile Website Unless You Pay For Premium
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MacRumors:
Apple in iOS 14 added Picture in Picture to the iPhone, a feature designed to let you watch a video in a small screen on your device while you continue to do other things on the phone. The YouTube app doesn't support Picture in Picture, but up until yesterday there was a functional workaround that allowed videos from YouTube.com to be watched in Safari in Picture in Picture mode. As of today, that workaround is gone, and it's not clear if it's a bug or a deliberate removal. Attempting to use Picture in Picture on a video on the mobile YouTube website simply doesn't work. Tapping the Picture in Picture button when in full screen mode pops the video out for a second, but it immediately pops back into the website, so it can't be used as a Picture in Picture window. [...] Picture in Picture appears to work on the mobile YouTube website in Safari for those who are YouTube Premium subscribers, which suggests that the restriction is intentional and not a bug.
DC Universe Streaming Service Will Become Universe Infinite Comics Platform
DC Universe, which started out as a streaming service for original DC superhero content,
will in January become DC Universe Infinite, a supersized subscription service for DC Comics. CNET reports:
The service launches on Jan. 21 for $7.99 per month, or $74.99 for a year-long subscription. DC says that subscribers will be able to read 24,000 comic book titles at launch, along with digital-first titles and access to exclusive fan events. Recently released titles featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and other DC mainstays will make their way onto the platform in digital format six months after the physical copies arrive in stores. Those who subscribe during the initial preorder run will receive a $10 voucher to the DC Shop on Feb. 1 -- and make that $25 if you lock in a year-long subscription.
The move comes as DC nestles in with HBO, with original DC programming making a home on the HBO Max streaming service. A third season of the Harley Quinn animated series starring Kaley Cuoco was just announced for the platform earlier today, with all seasons of the show now sitting as an HBO exclusive. [...] To that end, DC is extending its offer for DC Universe subscribers to add HBO Max membership for $4.99 per month. Fans can jump on that deal through the end of October.
NASA To Film an Estee Lauder Ad In Space As the ISS Opens For Business
NASA is preparing to oversee the largest
push of business activity aboard the ISS. "Later this month, up to 10 bottles of a new Estee Lauder (EL) skincare serum will launch to the space station," reports CNN. "NASA astronauts are expected to film the items in the microgravity environment of the ISS and the company
will be able to use that footage in ad campaigns or other promotional material." The details of those plans were
first reported by New Scientist magazine. From the report:
The Estee Lauder partnership will continue NASA's years-long push to encourage private-sector spending on space projects as the space agency looks to stretch its budget beyond the ISS and focus on taking astronauts back into deep space. Those efforts include allowing the space station to be used for marketing and entertainment purposes. The Estee Lauder products, a new formula of the company's "Advanced Night Repair" skin serum, are expected to launch aboard a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft, tucked alongside 8,000 pounds of other cargo, experiments and supplies. NASA astronauts will be tasked with capturing "imagery and video" of the product. The astronauts themselves, however, won't be appearing in any cosmetics ads: The space agency's ethics policies strictly bar astronauts from appearing in marketing campaigns.