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Government

Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales 150

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-in-my-town dept.
An anonymous reader writes As many expected, Michigan Governor Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill that bans Tesla Motors from selling cars directly to buyers online in the state. When asked what Tesla's next step will be, Diarmuid O'Connell, vice president of business development, said it was unclear if the company would file a lawsuit. "We do take at their word the representations from the governor that he supports a robust debate in the upcoming session," O'Connell said. "We've entered an era where you can buy products and services with much greater value than a car by going online."
Microsoft

Microsoft, Ask.com, Oracle Latest To Be Sued Over No-Poach Deal 43

Posted by timothy
from the all-in-the-same-gang-but-mostly-west-coast dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes Oracle, Microsoft and Ask.com are facing suits alleging that they conspired to restrict hiring of staff. The suits appear to refer to a memo that names a large number of companies that allegedly had special arrangements with Google to prevent poaching of staff and was filed as an exhibit on May 17, 2013 in another class action suit over hiring practices. The former employees filing lawsuits against Microsoft, Ask.com and Oracle have asked that the cases be assigned to Judge Koh as there were similarities with the case against Google, Apple and others — and it maybe doesn't hurt that Judge Koh thought the $324.5 million settlement in that case was too low.
The Internet

Internet Broadband Through High-altitude Drones 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the internet-of-wings dept.
mwagner writes: Skynet is coming. But not like in the movie: The future of communications is high-altitude solar-powered drones, flying 13 miles above the ground, running microwave wireless equipment, delivering broadband to the whole planet. The articles predicts this technology will replace satellites, fiber, and copper, and fundamentally change the broadband industry. The author predicts a timescale of roughly 20 years — the same amount of time between Arthur C. Clarke predicting geosynchronous satellites and their reality as a commercial business. "Several important technology milestones need to be reached along the way. The drones that will make up Skynet have a lot more in common with satellites than the flippy-flappy helicopter drone thingies that the popular press is fixated on right now. They're really effing BIG, for one thing. And, like satellites, they go up, and stay up, pretty much indefinitely. For that to happen, we need two things: lighter, higher-capacity wireless gear; and reliable, hyper-efficient solar tech."
Google

Google Leads $542m Funding Round For Augmented Reality Wearables Company 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After rumors broke last week, Magic Leap has officially closed the deal on a $542 million Series B investment led by Google. The company has been extremely tight-lipped about what they're working on, but some digging reveals it is most likely an augmented reality wearable that uses a lightfield display. "Using our Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal, imagine being able to generate images indistinguishable from real objects and then being able to place those images seamlessly into the real world," the company teases. Having closed an investment round, Magic Leap is now soliciting developers to create for their platform and hiring a huge swath of positions.
United Kingdom

Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK 466

Posted by timothy
from the we-know-what-you-were-thinking dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from the UK, as reported by Ars Technica: A 39-year-old UK man has been convicted of possessing illegal cartoon drawings of young girls exposing themselves in school uniforms and engaging in sex acts. The case is believed to be the UK's first prosecution of illegal manga and anime images. Local media said that Robul Hoque was sentenced last week to nine months' imprisonment, though the sentence is suspended so long as the defendant does not break the law again. Police seized Hoque's computer in 2012 and said they found nearly 400 such images on it, none of which depicted real people but were illegal nonetheless because of their similarity to child pornography. Hoque was initially charged with 20 counts of illegal possession but eventually pled guilty to just 10 counts.
Canada

No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade 317

Posted by timothy
from the how-about-a-nice-barrett? dept.
ControlsGeek writes The Lee-Enfield .303 rifle is being phased out for use by the Canadian Rangers, a Northern aboriginal branch of the Armed Forces. The rifle has been in service with the Canadian military for 100 years and is still being used by the Rangers for its unfailing reliability in Arctic conditions. If only the hardware that we use in computers could have such a track record. The wheels turn slowly, though, and it's not clear what kind of gun will replace the Enfields.
Science

The Physics of Why Cold Fusion Isn't Real 345

Posted by timothy
from the great-thing-about-science-is-falsifiability dept.
StartsWithABang writes If you can reach the fabled "breakeven point" of nuclear fusion, you'll have opened up an entire new source of clean, reliable, safe, renewable and abundant energy. You will change the world. At present, fusion is one of those things we can make happen through a variety of methods, but — unless you're the Sun — we don't have a way to ignite and sustain that reaction without needing to input more energy than we can extract in a usable fashion from the fusion that occurs. One alternative approach to the norm is, rather than try and up the energy released in a sustained, hot fusion reaction, to instead lower the energy inputted, and try to make fusion happen under "cold" conditions. If you listen in the right (wrong?) places, you'll hear periodic reports that cold fusion is happening, even though those reports have always crumbled under scrutiny. Here's why, most likely, they always will.
Japan

High-Tech Walkers Could Help Japan's Elderly Stay Independent 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the imperial-walkers dept.
jfruh writes: You may have heard that Japan will deal with its aging population by relying more on robots. Osaka startup RT Works is showing what that might mean in practice: not humanoid robotic caregivers, but tech-enhanced versions of traditional tools like walkers. RT Works's walker automatically adjusts to help its user deal with hilly terrain, and can call for help if it moves outside a predefined range.
Google

Google Fiber To Launch In Austin, Texas In December 88

Posted by samzenpus
from the setting-a-date dept.
retroworks writes WSJ blog reports on Austin, the third city to get fiber-optic high speed internet networks laid down by Google (Kansas City and Provo, UT were the first and second). The service averages 1 gigabit per second, about 100X the average US household speed, and costs $70-120 per month (depending on television). Google promotes the roll-outs by holding "rallies" in small neighborhoods. The sign-up process starts in December, focusing on south and southeastern parts of Austin, a Google spokeswoman said Wednesday. It was announced that fiber was coming to Austin back in April.
Businesses

Tech Workers Oppose Settlement They Reached In Silicon Valley Hiring Case 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-second-thought dept.
itwbennett writes Tech workers have asked an appeals court not to approve a $324.5 million settlement in Silicon Valley's controversial employee hiring case, according to a document filed Tuesday. This move by the plaintiffs puts them in alignment with an earlier decision by Judge Lucy Koh of the federal district court in San Jose to throw out the settlement on the grounds that it wouldn't pay the workers enough. Attorneys for the defendants — Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel — subsequently appealed Koh's decision.
Facebook

Facebook and Apple Now Pay For Female Employees To Freeze Their Eggs 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the putting-the-chill-in-children dept.
Dave Knott writes: While freezing eggs has become an increasingly popular practice for career-oriented women, the procedure comes at a steep price: Costs typically add up to at least $10,000 for every round, plus $500 or more annually for storage. Now two Silicon Valley giants are offering women a game-changing perk: Apple and Facebook will pay for employees to freeze their eggs. They appear to be the first major employers to offer this coverage for non-medical reasons, both offering to cover costs up to $20,000. Tech firms are hardly alone in offering generous benefits to attract and keep talent, but they appear to be leading the way with egg freezing.

Advocates say they've heard murmurs of large law, consulting, and finance firms helping to cover the costs, although no one is broadcasting this support. Companies may be concerned about the public relations implications of the benefit – in the most cynical light, egg-freezing coverage could be viewed as a ploy to entice women to sell their souls to their employer, sacrificing childbearing years for the promise of promotion. Will the perk pay off for companies? The benefit will likely encourage women to stay with their employer longer, cutting down on recruiting and hiring costs. And practically speaking, when women freeze their eggs early, firms may save on pregnancy costs in the long run. A woman could avoid paying to use a donor egg down the road, for example, or undergoing more intensive fertility treatments when she's ready to have a baby. But the emotional and cultural payoff may be more valuable, helping women be more productive human beings.
The Almighty Buck

"Double Irish" Tax Loophole Used By US Companies To Be Closed 259

Posted by Soulskill
from the luck-of-the-not-irish dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Irish Finance Minister announced on Tuesday that Ireland will no longer allow companies to register in Ireland unless the companies are also tax resident. This will effectively close off the corporate tax avoidance scheme known as the "Double Irish" used by the likes of Google, Apple, and Facebook to route their earnings through their Irish holdings in order to garner an effective tax rate of, as in Google FY2013, 0.16%. Ireland's new policy will take effect in 2015 for new companies. "For existing companies, there will be provision for a transition period until the end of 2020."
Transportation

Navy Tests Unpowered Exoskeleton 79

Posted by timothy
from the not-for-body-surfing dept.
gurps_npc (621217) writes "CNN has a very interesting article about an unpowered exoskeleton system called Fortis. Unlike the more famous TALOS system, this exoskeleton uses zero electricity, so it does not need batteries or an extension cord. Power requirements have always been the problem with powered exoskeletons, as batteries are heavy. The system is made out of lightweight aluminum and heavy tools connect directly to it. The weight of the tools is supported by the exoskeleton, so your arms, back and legs don't have to carry it. You only need to use muscle to move the tool, not simply carry it. The exoskeleton does not make you stronger. Instead it effectively increases your stamina by relieving fatigue caused by carrying the heavy tool.
United States

Federal Government Removes 7 Americans From No-Fly List 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the other-319-million-out-of-luck dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In response to a district judge ruling that declared the Department of Homeland Security's Traveler Redress Inquiry Program unconstitutional, the federal government has annouced its removal of seven Americans from its no-fly list (PDF). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing a total of 13 people suing to get off that list, and the government has until January of this year to deal with remaining six in that group. "Federal agencies have nominated more than 1.5 million names to terrorist watch lists over the past five years alone. Yet being a terrorist isn't a condition of getting on a roster that, until now, has been virtually impossible to be removed from..." One of the seven removed from the list is Marine Corps veteran and dog trainer Ibraheim Mashal of Illinois. The others had similarly Middle-Eastern-sounding names.
Education

Despite Push From Tech Giants, AP CS Exam Counts Don't Budge Much In Most States 144

Posted by timothy
from the can't-argue-with-a-pig dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Well, the College Board has posted the 2014 AP Computer Science Test scores. So, before the press rushes out another set of Not-One-Girl-In-Wyoming-Took-an-AP-CS-Exam stories, let's point out that no Wyoming students of either gender took an AP CS exam again in 2014 (.xlsx). At the overall level, the final numbers have changed somewhat (back-of-the-Excel-envelope calculations, no warranty expressed or implied!), but tell pretty much the same story as the preliminary figures — the number of overall AP CS test takers increased, while pass rates decreased despite efforts to cherry pick students with a high likelihood of success. What is kind of surprising is how little the test numbers budged for most states — only 8 states managed to add more than 100 girls to the AP CS test taker rolls — despite the PR push by the tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, and, Facebook. Also worth noting are some big percentage decreases at the top end of the score segments (5 and 4), and still-way-too-wide gaps that exist between the score distributions of the College Board's various ethnic segments (more back of the envelope calcs). If there's a Data Scientist in the house, AP CS exam figures grabbed from the College Board's Excel 2013 and 2014 worksheets can be found here (Google Sheets) together with the (unwalkedthrough) VBA code that was used to collect it. Post your insight (and code/data fixes) in the comments!"

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