the_newsbeagle writes "Millionaire adventurer Chris Welsh, the driving force behind Virgin Oceanic, wants to name his sub "Scarlett" after Scarlett Johansson—that's how sexy this vehicle is. Welsh plans to pilot the experimental, cutting-edge sub to the bottom of the Mariana Trench sometime this year, in what would be only the second human descent to the deepest spot in the world's oceans (the first trip down was in 1960). This inside account of the Virgin Oceanic mission describes a team fueled by ego, science, and derring-do, and explains how their high-tech sub could usher in a new kind of marine exploration. The article also tells the story of an adventure on the high seas last summer, when Welsh & co visited the trench to test some robotic deep-sea landers... and ran smack into a typhoon."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
New submitter dcraid writes with a quote from El Reg: "Microsoft's cloudy platform, Windows Azure, is experiencing a major outage: at the time of writing, its service management system had been down for about seven hours worldwide. A customer described the problem to The Register as an 'admin nightmare' and said they couldn't understand how such an important system could go down. 'This should never happen,' said our source. 'The system should be redundant and outages should be confined to some data centres only.'" The Azure service dashboard has regular updates on the situation. According to their update feed the situation should have been resolved a few hours ago but has instead gotten worse: "We continue to work through the issues that are blocking the restoration of service management for some customers in North Central US, South Central US and North Europe sub-regions. Further updates will be published to keep you apprised of the situation. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes our customers." To be fair, other cloud providers have had similar issues before.
WrongSizeGlass writes "Ars is reporting that the 'inventor' of the concept of 'providing individual online presences for each of a plurality of members of a group of members,' claims that four million Facebook business account holders, including at least three major presidential candidates, are guilty of infringing his patent. He's suing Facebook for infringing on his patent as well as the three candidates. A Patent Office examiner rejected the patent claims, but the rejections have been appealed."
MrSeb writes with this news from Extreme Tech: "In a move that will shock and disgust bleeding-edge technophiles everywhere, Asus has announced at Mobile World Congress 2012 that its new Transformer Pads — the high-end Infinity Series — will use the recently-announced dual-core Qualcomm S4 SoC. The critically acclaimed Transformer Prime, the Infinity Series' predecessor which was released at the end of 2011, used the quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3. Why the sudden about-face? Well, the fact that quad-core processors don't really have a use case in mobile devices is one reason — but it doesn't hurt that the Krait cores in the S4 are significantly faster than the four Cortex-A9 cores in the Tegra 3, too. The S4 is also the first 28nm SoC, while Tegra 3 is still on 40nm, which means a smaller and cheaper package, and lower power consumption to boot. The S4 is also the first SoC with built-in LTE, which was probably a rather nice sweetener for Asus." The Snapdragon S4 "Krait" CPU is still a bit shrouded in mystery as far as hard specs (Qualcomm has never been one to release docs), but it appears to be similar to the Cortex-A15 in performance; how they stand up to Intel's new Medfield designs remains to be seen.
suraj.sun writes with an excerpt from an article over at Ars Technica: "Los Alfaques, a bucolic campground near the Spanish town of Tarragona, isn't happy with Google. That's because searches for 'camping Alfaques' bring up horrific images of charred human flesh — not good for business when you're trying to sell people on the idea of relaxation. The campground believes it has the right to demand that Google stop showing 'negative' links, even though the links aren't mistakes at all. Are such lawsuits an aberration, or the future of Europe's Internet experience in the wake of its new 'right to be forgotten' proposals? Legal scholars like Jeffrey Rosen remain skeptical that such a right won't lead to all sorts of problems for free expression. But in Spain, the debate continues. Last week, Los Alfaques lost its case — but only because it needed to sue (U.S.-based) Google directly. Mario Gianni, the owner of Los Alfaques, is currently deciding whether such a suit is worth pursuing."
pigrabbitbear writes "These days you can crowd-map just about anything, from Hurricane Irene to what you eat for breakfast, as long as you either have a phone or a basic internet hook-up. One of the largest and most used platforms for crowd-sourced mapping is Ushahidi (Swahili for 'witness'), an open-sourced platform has been used for tracking and mobilizing movement around more serious topics. Ushahidi was used in developing Syria Tracker, a crowd-sourcing of reported deaths in the conflict in Syria. Now the Ushahidi platform is putting technology hubs in Africa on the map. The map, simply named Tech Hubs in Africa, was launched by Bongohive, a self described non-profit technology and innovation hub located in Lasaka, Zambia for one purpose: To have likeminded organizations across Africa — notorious for low levels of tech infrastructure — begin plotting the locations of tech hubs available around the continent right now."
quantr writes "Facebook is being accused of snooping on its users' text messages, but the social network says the accusations are inaccurate and misleading. The company is among a wide-ranging group of Web entities, including Flickr and YouTube, that are using smartphone apps to access text message data and other personal information, according to a Sunday Times report (behind a paywall). The newspaper said Facebook 'admitted' to reading users' text messages during a test of its own messaging service. The report also says information such as user location, contacts list, and browser history are often accessed and sometimes transmitted to third-party companies, including advertisers."
Hugh Pickens writes "AP reports that last week during a question-and-answer session at the company's annual shareholders' meeting CEO Tim Cook said he believes Apple has more money than it needs and his next challenge is to figure out whether Apple should break from the cash-hoarding ways of his predecessor, the late Steve Jobs, and dip into its $98 billion bank account to pay shareholders a dividend this year. 'Frankly speaking, it's more than we need to run the company.' The question of how to handle Apple's cash stockpile is a touchy one, partly because company co-founder Jobs had steadfastly brushed aside suggestions that the company restore its quarterly dividend which Jobs suspended in 1995 when it was in such deep trouble that it needed to hold on to every cent to keep from going bankrupt. Marketwatch analyst Mark Hulbert writes that a compelling case can be made that a huge cash hoard actually represents grave danger for Apple. That's because too much cash often burns a hole in managers' pockets, and they end up doing a poor job of investing that cash—engaging instead in foolish pursuits like empire building. Hulbert adds that a good strategy for ensuring that Apple remains a hungry, growth-oriented entrepreneurial company might be for it to distribute much of its cash to shareholders."
chicksdaddy writes "Tech-enabled filtering and blocking of Web sites and Internet addresses that are deemed hostile to repressive regimes has been a major political and human rights issue in the last year, as popular protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria erupted. Now it looks as if Pakistan's government is looking for a way to strengthen its hand against online content it considers undesirable. According to a request for proposals from the National ICT (Information and Communications and Technologies) R&D Fund, the Pakistani government is struggling to keep a lid on growing Internet and Web use and is looking for a way to filter out undesirable Web sites. The 'indigenous' filtering system would be 'deployed at IP backbones in major cities, i.e., Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad,' the RFP reads (PDF). It would be 'centrally managed by a small and efficient team stationed at POPs of backbone providers,' and must be capable of supporting 100Gbps interfaces and filtering Web traffic against a block list of up to 50 million URLs without latency of more than 1 millisecond."
ESRB writes "North Korea is apparently able to produce high-quality counterfeits of U.S. dollars — specifically $100 and $50 bills. It's suspected that they possess similar printing technologies as the U.S. and buy ink from the same Swedish firm. 'Since the superdollars were first detected about a decade ago, the regime has been pocketing an estimated $15 to $25 million a year from them. (Other estimates are much higher — up to several hundred million dollars' worth.)' The article also advocates a move to all-digital payment/transfers by pointing out both forms are only representations of value and noting it would cripple criminal operations such as drug cartels, human traffickers, and so forth."
Julie188 writes "Last summer the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to spend millions to reinvent the toilet. That investment has born fruit with teams from around the world coming up with many different ways to turn human waste into energy."
OverTheGeicoE writes "The Electronic Privacy Information Center has been examining the White House's proposed budget for Department of Homeland Security for 2013, and they point out that it doesn't include any money for additional airport body scanners for TSA. Did the recent scandal involving TSA workers targeting women for scans make the White House realize that TSA is a national embarrassment? Does the executive branch finally understand the questionable safety and effectiveness of these devices? Or does DHS just think it has enough scanners once TSA installs the 250 new scanners in this year's budget?"
itwbennett writes "In response to Microsoft's claim that Google circumvented Internet Explorer privacy protections (following the discovery that Google also worked around Safari's privacy settings), Google on Monday said that IE's privacy protection, called P3P, is impractical to comply with."
theodp writes "'As a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm,' boasts the billionaire-backed NewSchools Venture Fund, 'we raise philanthropic capital from both individual and institutional investors, and then use those funds to support education entrepreneurs who are transforming public education.' One recipient of the NewSchools' largesse is The Noble Network of Charter Schools, which received a $5,300,000 NewSchools 'investment', as well as a $1,425,000 grant from NewSchools donor Bill Gates. One way that Noble Street College Prep has been transforming education, reports the Chicago Tribune, is by making students pay the price — literally — for breaking the smallest of rules (sample infractions). Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended Noble after a FOIA filing revealed the charter collected almost $190,000 in discipline 'fees' — not 'fines' — last year from its mostly low-income students, saying the ironically exempt-from-most-district-rules charter school gets 'incredible' results and parents don't have to send their children there. Beyond the Noble case, some are asking a bigger question: Should billionaires rule our schools?"