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Earth

All Belgians To Be Given Iodine Pills In Case Of Nuclear Accident (phys.org) 58

mdsolar quotes a report from Phys.Org: Belgium is to provide iodine pills to its entire population of around 11 million people to protect against radioactivity in case of a nuclear accident, the health minister was quoted as saying Thursday. The move comes as Belgium faces growing pressure from neighboring Germany to shutter two ageing nuclear power plants near their border due to concerns over their safety. Iodine pills, which help reduce radiation build-up in the human thyroid gland, had previously only been given to people living within 20 kilometres (14 miles) of the Tihange and Doel nuclear plants. Health Minister Maggie De Block was quoted by La Libre Belgique newspaper as telling parliament that the range had now been expanded to 100 kilometers, effectively covering the whole country. The health ministry did not immediately respond to AFP when asked to comment. The head of Belgium's French-speaking Green party, Jean-Marc Nollet, backed the measures but added that "just because everyone will get these pills doesn't mean there is no longer any nuclear risk," La Libre reported. Belgium's creaking nuclear plants have been causing safety concerns for some time after a series of problems ranging from leaks to cracks and an unsolved sabotage incident. Yesterday, a nuclear plant in Germany was reportedly infected with a computer virus.
Encryption

Top Security Experts Say Anti-Encryption Bill Authors Are 'Woefully Ignorant' (dailydot.com) 56

blottsie writes from a report on the Daily Dot: In a Wall Street Journal editorial titled "Encryption Without Tears," Sens. Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein pushed back on widespread condemnation of their Compliance with Court Orders Act, which would require tech companies to provide authorities with user data in an "intelligible" format if served with a warrant. But security experts Bruce Schneir, Matthew Green, and others say the lawmakers entirely misunderstand the issue. "On a weekly basis we see gigabytes of that information dumped to the Internet," Green told the Daily Dot. "This is the whole problem that encryption is intended to solve." He added: "You can't hold out the current flaws in the Internet as a justification for why the Internet shouldn't be made secure." "These criticisms of Burr and Feinstein's analogy emphasize an important point about digital security: The differences between the levels of encryption protecting certain types of data -- purchase records on Amazon's servers versus photos on an iPhone, for example -- lead to different levels of risk," writes Eric Geller of the Daily Dot.
The Military

North Korea Launches Two Midrange Missiles, Both Tests Fail (cnn.com) 48

An anonymous reader writes: According to South Korean Defense Ministry officials, North Korea fired two midrange Musudan missiles Thursday, and both missiles appear to have failed. The military cannot confirm exactly when the missile exploded but said it "crashed shortly after it was launched," a Defense Ministry official said. U.S. military officials said the missiles traveled an estimated 200 meters from the launchpad. This past weekend, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submarine off the east cost of the Korean peninsula. It only traveled about 30 km, well short of the 300 km range that would be considered a successful test. A little more than a week prior to that launch, North Korea failed to launch an intermediate-range missile on the 104th anniversary of the birthday of the country's 'eternal president,' Kim II Sung.
Google

Google CEO Predicts AI-Fueled Future (usatoday.com) 94

Google CEO Sundar Pichai says the next big evolution for technology is AI. "Looking to the future, the next big step will be for the very concept of the 'device' to fade away," Pichai wrote in Google's annual founders' letter. USA Today writes: His vision: Over time, computers, whatever shape they take, a mobile device in your hand or a mini computer on your wrist, "will be an intelligent assistant helping you through your day." This marks the first time anyone other than founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have penned the annual letter outlining Google's mission. "For us, technology is not about the devices or the products we build. Those aren't the end-goals," Pichai wrote in the letter posted Thursday. "Technology is a democratizing force, empowering people through information. Google is an information company. It was when it was founded, and it is today."
Crime

Child Porn Suspect Jailed Indefinitely For Refusing To Decrypt Hard Drives (arstechnica.com) 677

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A Philadelphia man suspected of possessing child pornography has been in jail for seven months and counting after being found in contempt of a court order demanding that he decrypt two password-protected hard drives. The suspect, a former Philadelphia Police Department sergeant, has not been charged with any child porn crimes. Instead, he remains indefinitely imprisoned in Philadelphia's Federal Detention Center for refusing to unlock two drives encrypted with Apple's FileVault software in a case that once again highlights the extent to which the authorities are going to crack encrypted devices. The man is to remain jailed "until such time that he fully complies" with the decryption order. The government successfully cited a 1789 law known as the All Writs Act to compel (PDF) the suspect to decrypt two hard drives it believes contain child pornography. The All Writs Act was the same law the Justice Department asserted in its legal battle with Apple.
Businesses

Dyson Launches New 'Supersonic' Hair Dryer To Revolutionize Hair Care (nbcnews.com) 211

An anonymous reader writes: Dyson has a launched a hair dryer with a design language similar to that of its bladeless fans. The $399 hair dryer is four years in the making, involving 103 engineers, over 1,000 miles of test hair, and a $71 million investment -- the Dyson Supersonic is being touted as "the hairdryer rethought" by its inventor Sir James Dyson. "We realized that hair dryers can cause extreme heat damage to hair," said Dyson in a press release. "So I challenged Dyson engineers to really understand the science of hair and develop our version of a hair dryer, which we think solves these problems." The hair dryer can be reserved online and will be sold exclusively at Sephora for $399 this fall.
HP

With Carly Fiorina As Running Mate, Cruz's H-1B Stance Now In Question (computerworld.com) 316

dcblogs quotes a report from Computerworld: In 2013, Sen. Ted Cruz emerged as one of the Senate's top H-1B visa supporters, and argued for a 500% visa cap increase. But during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Cruz had a conversion. Cruz's presidential platform proposed a $110,000 minimum wage for visa workers, among other restrictions, as a way of ending their use as low-cost labor. The move marked a complete turnabout on the H-1B issue. Cruz's decision Wednesday to add former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate if he wins the nomination, may make his newly found H-1B beliefs a hard sell. At HP, Fiorina was a prominent supporter of the offshore outsourcing model, said Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Howard University. "To pump up profits, she was an early adopter of the practice, which given HP's status as a leading Silicon Valley firm, pushed other firms to adopt offshoring," said Hira. As offshoring gained, Fiorina played a leading role in defending globalization. To make her point, in 2004, Fiorina said: "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore," reported the San Francisco Chronicle.
Robotics

Chinese Security Robot Draws Dalek, Terminator Comparisons (abc.net.au) 107

An anonymous reader writes: China's first "intelligent security robot," which reportedly includes an "electrically charged riot control tool" and an SOS button for people to notify police, has been compared to the killer Dalek from Doctor Who after being shown off at a tech fair. Intelligence agency whistleblower Edward Snowden shared the news on Twitter with the caption: "Surely this will end well." The robot, unveiled at the 12th Chongqing Hi-Tech Fair, is 1.49 metres tall, weighs 78 kilograms, has a claimed top speed of 18 kilometres per hour and an operating duration of eight hours between charges, according to a report by People's Daily Online. Dubbed AnBot, it was built by the National Defence University in China and has "sensors that mimic the human brain, eyes and ears." The report said AnBot represented breakthroughs in "key technologies including low-cost autonomous navigation and intelligent video analysis" and would play an important role in anti-terrorism and anti-riot operations. AnBot has an SOS button for people to use to notify police of a problem, but it is unclear what criteria AnBot uses to assess threats autonomously.
Education

Top Silicon Valley Execs and Others Urge Congress To Fund K-12 Computer Science Education (techcrunch.com) 125

An anonymous reader shares a TechCrunch report:Some of the biggest names in tech and corporate America, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, have teamed up with governors and educators to ask Congress to provide $250 million in federal funding to school districts in order to give every single K-12 student in the nation an opportunity to learn how to code. On the legislative side, these tech CEOs are joined by governors from both sides, including California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R). Earlier this year, President Barack Obama called for more than $4 billion in funding for states, and $100 million for districts in order to bring computer science curricula to every single K-12 student in the country. What this group of CEOs, governors and educators is asking for today is different. They're saying that this issue can be addressed without growing the federal budget. The petition reads:Not only does computer science provide every student foundational knowledge, it also leads to the highest-paying, fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. economy. There are currently over 500,000 open computing jobs, in every sector, from manufacturing to banking, from agriculture to healthcare, but only 50,000 computer science graduates a year. Whether a student aspires to be a software engineer, or if she just wants a well-rounded education in today's changing world, access to computer science in school is an economic imperative for our nation to remain competitive. And with the growing threat of cyber warfare, this is even a critical matter of national security. Despite this growing need, targeted federal funding to carry out these efforts in classrooms is virtually non-existent. This bipartisan issue can be addressed without growing the federal budget.
Japan

Mitsubishi: We've Been Cheating On Fuel Tests For 25 years (cnn.com) 194

An anonymous reader cites an article on CNN:The situation at Mitsubishi Motors just went from bad to much, much worse. The Japanese automaker admitted Tuesday that it had falsified fuel efficiency tests for the past quarter century (warning: annoying autoplay videos, alternate source), the latest revelation in a scandal that has rocked the company. The automaker said last week that it had used improper fuel economy tests on hundreds of thousands of vehicles, including some sold to Nissan. Cars with inflated fuel efficiency ratings were sold only in Japan. Mitsubishi said it would ask lawyers from outside the company to investigate the tests.
Facebook

Facebook Is Building A Standalone Camera App To Encourage Its 1.6 Billion Users To Share More (theverge.com) 57

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Facebook engineers in London are working on a standalone camera app with a big live-streaming component. Similar to Snapchat, the app would open straight into a camera to foster immediate capturing and posting of photos and videos, as well as letting users stream via Facebook Live. With billions of smartphones in the world and near-ubiquitous high-speed data connections, Facebook sees a huge opportunity to get its 1.6 billion users sharing more than ever before. A camera app may help the company do that, and better compete with Snapchat at the same time. Facebook has recently rolled out a major live video update allowing anyone to post live streams of themselves to their timeline. Previously, only celebrities and public figures were allowed to use the feature. With this new Facebook Live update and standalone camera app reportedly in the works, the only thing holding Mark Zuckerberg back with his plan to triple the size of his social network is affordable internet.
Businesses

Software Audits: How High-Tech Software Vendors Play Hardball (infoworld.com) 160

snydeq writes: InfoWorld's Dan Tynan offers an inside look at how high-tech software vendors such as Adobe, Oracle, and IBM play hardball over software licensing, pushing customers to "true up" to the tune of billions of dollars per year -- and using the threat of audits as a sales tool to close lucrative deals. "When it comes to software audits, the code of omerta prevails," Tynan writes. "It's not a question of whether your organizations' software licenses will get audited. It's only a question of when, how often, and how painful the audits will be. The shakedown is such a sure thing that nearly every customer we contacted asked us to keep their names out of this story, lest it make their employers a target for future audits."
Python

Interview With Python Creator Guido Van Rossum (techrocket.com) 221

The online programming school Tech Rocket just published a new interview with Guido van Rossum, the creator of Python. "Looking back I don't think I ever really doubted Python, and I always had fun," he tells the site. "I had a lot of doubts about myself, but Python's ever-increasing success, and encouragement from people to whom I looked up (even Larry Wall!), made me forget that."

He describes what it's like being Python's Benevolent Dictator for Life, and says that the most astonishing thing he's seen built with Python is "probaby the Dropbox server. Two million lines of code and counting, and it serves hundreds of millions of users." And he leaves aspiring programmers with this advice. "Don't do something you don't enjoy just because it looks lucrative -- that's where the competition will be fiercest, and because you don't enjoy it, you'll lose out to others who are more motivated."
Programming

Slashdot Asks: Have You Experienced Ageism? (observer.com) 554

Friday the Huffington Post wrote that "Ageism runs rampant through Silicon Valley, where older workers are frequently overlooked for jobs." They ran tips from the man who recruited Tim Cook for Apple, who pointed out that it's difficult and expensive to recruit new talent, urging businesses to "stop seeing workforce diversity as a good deed; it's good business." And earlier this month The Observer ran an article by Dan Lyons, a writer for HBO's "Silicon Valley," who shared his perspective on ageism from his time at HubSpot. Their CEO actively cultivated an age imbalance, bragging that he was "trying to build a culture specifically to attract and retain Gen Y'ers," because, "in the tech world, gray hair and experience are really overrated."

Meanwhile, Slashdot reader OffTheLip writes: Information technology is a young business in comparison to many other industries but one of the few where older workers are not valued for their institutional knowledge... As a recently retired techie I experienced this firsthand, both as an older worker, and earlier in my career [as] one who didn't see the value in older workers. As Lyons states, older workers are good business.
What are your thoughts? And have you experienced ageism?
Google

40% of Silicon Valley's Profits (But Not Sales) Came from Apple (siliconvalley.com) 147

An anonymous reader writes:The San Jose Mercury News reports that last year 40% of Silicon Valley's profits came from one company -- Apple. "The iPhone maker accounted for 28 percent of the Bay Area tech industry's $833 billion in 2015 sales," while "Its profits were a jaw-dropping 40 percent of the region's $133 billion total." Meanwhile, Google's parent company Alphabet racked up $75 billion in sales, representing nearly 57% of the total for all Silicon Valley internet companies, followed by eBay and PayPal.

But while sales grew, internet-company profits fell by 29% as more companies focused on growth. "Profits are nice, sure, but becoming profitable isn't the top priority around here, particularly for younger firms," wrote the newspaper, noting that investors are paying 18 times Facebook's annual sales for its stock. In fact, 29% of Silicon Valley's top companies didn't have sales growth in 2015 (an increase from 17% the previous year), and five of the top 10 companies saw a drop in sales in 2015 (including Intel). "The numbers are telling the story," one analyst tells the newspaper. "There is growth, but it is slowing."

The Mercury News adds that "The question for those with the biggest sales drops is how much time do they have left if the trend continues..."

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