dcblogs writes "Michigan lawmakers just approved a right-to-work law in an effort to dismantle union power, but unions are already becoming irrelevant. The problem with unions is they can't protect jobs. They can't stop a company from moving jobs overseas, closing offices, or replacing workers with machines. Indeed, improvements in automation is making the nation attractive again for manufacturing, according to U.S. intelligence Global Trends 2030 report. The trends are clear. Amazon spent $775 million this year to acquire a company, Kiva Systems that makes robots used in warehouses. Automation will replace warehouse workers, assembly-line and even retail workers. In time, Google's driverless cars will replace drivers in the trucking industry. Unions sometimes get blamed for creating uncompetitive environments and pushing jobs overseas. But the tech industry, which isn't unionized, is a counterpoint. Tech has been steadily moving jobs overseas to lower costs."
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CowboyRobot writes "Byte magazine gives a run-down of the current state of Internet access on airplanes. 'All of the services function in basically the same way. They provide connectivity to the public Internet via a Wi-Fi hotspot accessible from the cabin of the aircraft. This in-cabin network may also be used to provide in-flight entertainment services ranging from television network feeds to movies and canned TV shows available from an on-board media server connected to the network. In the U.S., the Internet connectivity is available when the aircraft is above 10,000 feet and is turned off during take-offs and landings. Gogo, the current market leader, provides connectivity to aircraft via a network of 250 dedicated cell towers that it has built nationwide. Fundamentally, it offers the same type of connectivity you would expect to see on a standard 3G-capable phone. The connection is limited in speed to just over 3 Mbps — and all users on the plane share this one connection.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Last year, when we discussed news that The Hobbit would be filmed at 48 frames per second, instead of the standard 24, many were skeptical that format would take hold. Now that the film has been released, an article at Slate concedes that it's a bit awkward and takes a while to get used to, but ends up being to the benefit of the film and the entire industry as well. 'The 48 fps version of The Hobbit is weird, that's true. It's distracting as hell, yes yes yes. Yet it's also something that you've never seen before, and is, in its way, amazing. Taken all together, and without the prejudice of film-buffery, Jackson's experiment is not a flop. It's a strange, unsettling success. ... It does not mark the imposition from on high of a newer, better standard — one frame rate to rule them all (and in the darkness bind them). It's more like a shift away from standards altogether. With the digital projection systems now in place, filmmakers can choose the frame rate that makes most sense for them, from one project to the next.'"
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "Hotmail and Yahoo Mail are apparently sharing a secret blacklist of domain names such that any mention of these domains will cause a message to be bounced back to the sender as spam. I found out about this because — surprise! — some of my new proxy site domains ended up on the blacklist. Hotmail and Yahoo are stonewalling, but here's what I've dug up so far — and why you should care." Read on for much more on how Bennett figured out what's going on, and why it's a hard problem to solve.
New submitter Nerdolicious writes "Ars Technica reports that Voltage Pictures, the studio behind the infamous Hurt Locker debacle, has requested subscriber information for thousands of TekSavvy customers in relation to alleged copyright infringements. In their official blog, TekSavvy clarifies the situation and provides further reassurance that they will not release any private customer information without a court order. They have also posted the legal documents containing both the official notice and list of films that are the subjects of the alleged infringements. However, several questions remain to be answered: will Canadian courts be amicable to these tactics after changes to copyright law were made specifically to prevent the predatory legal entanglement of Canadian citizens? Will the studio actually attempt to pursue the situation beyond the proliferation of threatening extortion letters? How would the already-clogged courts react to what amounts to denial-of-service attack on the judicial system?"
dsinc sends this quote from an AP report about the U.S. Air Force's X-37B spaceplane: "The Air Force launched the unmanned spacecraft Tuesday hidden on top of an Atlas V rocket. It's the second flight for this original X-37B spaceplane. It circled the planet for seven months in 2010. A second X-37B spacecraft spent more than a year in orbit. These high-tech mystery machines — 29 feet long — are about one-quarter the size of NASA's old space shuttles and can land automatically on a runway. The two previous touchdowns occurred in Southern California; this one might end on NASA's three-mile-long runway once reserved for the space agency's shuttles. The military isn't saying much, if anything, about this new secret mission. In fact, launch commentary ended 17 minutes into the flight. But one scientific observer, Harvard University's Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, speculates the spaceplane is carrying sensors designed for spying and likely is serving as a testbed for future satellites."
Today we're doing a live interview from 18:30 GMT until 20:30 GMT with long time contributor Luke Leighton of Rhombus Tech. An advocate of Free Software, he's been round the loop that many are now also exploring: looking for mass-volume Factories in China and ARM processor manufacturers that are truly friendly toward Free Software (clue: there aren't any). He's currently working on the first card for the EOMA-68 modular computer card specification based around the Allwinner A10, helping the KDE Plasma Active Team with their upcoming Vivaldi Tablet, and even working to build devices around a new embedded processor with the goal of gaining the FSF's Hardware Endorsement. Ask him anything. (It's no secret that he's a Slashdot reader, so expect answers from lkcl.)
Nerval's Lobster writes "Fortune magazine managed to score an exclusive interview with Google CEO Larry Page. While he doesn't reveal a whole lot about the company's future plans—CEOs are great at offering fuzzy generalities, if nothing else—he manages to reveal just a bit about the ongoing competition with Apple, the evolution of search, and monetizing mobile devices. Google's rivalry with Apple has descended into massive lawsuits, but Page doesn't exactly channel Genghis Khan when it comes to his own feelings on the issue. 'I think it would be nice if everybody would get along better and the users didn't suffer as a result of other people's activities,' he told the magazine. 'We try pretty hard to make our products be available as widely as we can. That's our philosophy. I think sometimes we're allowed to do that. Sometimes we're not.'"
jfruh writes "In the world of high-frequency stock trading, every millisecond is money. That's why many firms are getting information and sending big orders not through modern fiber-optic networks, but using line-of-site microwave repeaters, a technology that's over 50 years old. Because electromagnetic radiation passes more quickly through air than glass, and takes a more direct route, the older technology is seeing something of a renaissance."
A couple of weeks ago you had a chance to ask Canonical Ltd. and the Ubuntu Foundation founder, Mark Shuttleworth, anything about software and vacationing in space. Below you'll find his answers to your questions. Make sure to look for our live discussion tomorrow with free software advocate and CTO of Rhombus Tech, Luke Leighton. The interview will start at 1:30 EST.
Hugh Pickens writes "Defense Tech reports that several F-16 engines weighing 3,700 pounds each have been stolen from a base in a central part of the country. Israeli officials played down the loss, saying the engines were old or retired and likely stolen for scrap. U.S. security and aviation experts contacted were not so dismissive of the missing engines and said that some countries would see value in having them and taking them apart. 'They're still more modern than anything in the Iranian air force inventory, and they would even be helpful to China in their jet engine development,' says Richard Aboulafia, noting that modern technology engine design remains 'a black art' and that competitors would love the opportunity to study them. This is not the first time jet engines have gone missing. In June 2011, Israel reported the loss of eight F-15 and F-16 fighter engines from a base at Tel Nof near Jerusalem when investigators found the engines had been taken away on large trucks, prompting speculation that the thieves had help from inside the base. In 2009, two F-5 engines were stolen from an airbase in Malaysia, tracked to Argentina and ultimately located in Uruguay."
New submitter mrvan writes "Guido van Rossum, the proclaimed Python Benevolent Dictator For Life, has left Google to work for Dropbox. In their announcement, Dropbox says they relied heavily on Python from the beginning, citing a mix of simplicity, flexibility, and elegance, and are excited to have GvR on the team. While this is, without a doubt, good news for Dropbox, the big question is what this will mean for Python (and for Google)."
Bob9113 writes "Ars Technica reports that Derek Khanna is getting axed over his memo detailing the conflict between laissez-faire-oriented free market ideals and the regulatory monopoly that is copyright. 'The Republican Study Committee, a caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives, has told staffer Derek Khanna that he will be out of a job when Congress re-convenes in January. The incoming chairman of the RSC, Steve Scalise (R-LA) was approached by several Republican members of Congress who were upset about a memo Khanna wrote advocating reform of copyright law. They asked that Khanna not be retained, and Scalise agreed to their request.'"
Having the ability to create a 20 liter cloud of slime and tie themselves in knots, hagfish have always been one of my favorite deep-sea denizens. Being a living slime dispenser has not won the species many fans however, with the notable exceptions of Mike Rowe and Dr. Egon Spengler. All that is about to change thanks to the work of a research team at Canada’s University of Guelph. They've found that hagfish slime might be used to make new plastics and even super-strong fabrics. From the article: "A research team at Canada’s University of Guelph managed to harvest the slime from the fish, dissolve it in liquid, and then reassemble its structure by spinning it like silk. It’s an important first step in being able to process the hagfish slime into a useable material, according to Atsuko Negishi, a research assistant and lead author on the paper in this week’s journal Biomacromolecules. 'We’re trying to understand how they make these threads and how we can learn from that to make protein-based fibers that have excellent mechanical properties,' Negishi said. 'The first step is can we harvest the threads. It turns out that is doable.'"
curtwoodward writes "Advanced battery maker A123 Systems was supposed to be one of the marquee names of the U.S. cleantech manufacturing scene — it won hundreds of millions in federal grants, had operations around the globe, and supplied the luxury Fisker electric car. In 2009, as the economy sputtered, A123 registered the country's biggest IPO. Today, it's in bankruptcy court, with possible buyers submitting bids for its parts and pieces. How'd A123 fall so far, so fast? As losses mounted, its reliance on just two big customers came back to haunt the company — and a series of screwups at a Michigan plant delivered the final blow."