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    - NASA Struggles to Fix Failure of Hubble Space Telescope's 1980s Computer
    The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low-earth orbit in 1990 with an even older computer. Over the next 13 years it received upgrades and repairs from astronauts on five different visits from America's Space Shuttle. But now in 2021, "NASA continues to work on resolving an issue with the payload computer on the Hubble Space Telescope," reports SciTechDaily — though "The telescope itself and science instruments remain in good health." The operations team will be running tests and collecting more information on the system to further isolate the problem. The science instruments will remain in a safe mode state until the issue is resolved... The computer halted on Sunday, June 13. An attempt to restart the computer failed on Monday, June 14. Initial indications pointed to a degrading computer memory module as the source of the computer halt. When the operations team attempted to switch to a back-up memory module, however, the command to initiate the backup module failed to complete. Another attempt was conducted on both modules Thursday evening to obtain more diagnostic information while again trying to bring those memory modules online. However, those attempts were not successful.

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    - The US Navy's Plans for a Railgun Are Finally Dead
    Anyone who's played Quake remembers the railgun weapon. The U.S. Navy spent $500 million trying to build a real one, according to Popular Mechanics, "using electricity and magnetism instead of gunpowder and chemical energy to accelerate a projectile down a pair of rails." But now they've apparently given up: The service is ending funding for the railgun without having sent a single weapon to sea, while pushing technology derived from the program into existing weapons. The weapon is a victim of a change in the Navy's direction toward faster, longer-range weapons that are capable of striking ships and land targets in a major war. The Navy's budget request includes no funding for the railgun in 2022, The Drive reports... Railguns are theoretically safer than conventional guns, since they reduce the amount of volatile powder a ship stores deep within its bowels in the ammunition magazine. The projectiles are also faster. But despite those advantages, there are reasons why the Navy is canning the railgun, which has been in development since 2005. For one, there are currently only three ships the Navy could conceivably fit the railgun to... The railgun concept itself is also out of step with the Navy's reorientation toward great power conflict, particularly a possible war with China or Russia. As an offensive weapon, the railgun's range of 50 to 100 miles is relatively short, placing a railgun-equipped ship within range of longer-range weapons, including China's DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile. And while the railgun also has defensive potential since it can shoot down incoming aircraft, missiles, and drones, the Navy already has plenty of existing missiles and guns to deal with those threats.

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    - Chinese Startup Unitree Begins Selling a Headless Robot Dog for $2,700
    Long-time Slashdot reader cusco shares an interesting report from IEEE Spectrum: In 2017, we first wrote about the Chinese startup Unitree Robotics, which had the goal of "making legged robots as popular and affordable as smartphones and drones." Relative to the cost of other quadrupedal robots (like Boston Dynamics' $74,000 Spot), Unitree's quadrupeds are very affordable, with their A1 costing under $10,000 when it became available in 2020. This hasn't quite reached the point of consumer electronics that Unitree is aiming for, but they've just gotten a lot closer: now available is the Unitree Go1, a totally decent looking small size quadruped that can be yours for an astonishingly low $2700. Speedy, good looking gait, robust, and a nifty combination of autonomous human-following and obstacle avoidance... There are three versions of the Go1: the $2700 base model Go1 Air, the $3500 Go1, and the $8500 Go1 Edu... The top of the line Edu model offers higher end computing, 2kg more payload (up to 5kg), as well as foot-force sensors, lidar, and a hardware extension interface and API access... Battery life is a big question — the video seems to suggest that the Go1 is capable of a three-kilometer, 20-minute jog, and then some grocery shopping and a picnic, all while doing obstacle avoidance and person following and with an occasional payload. Unitree later provided the reporter more detailed specs: The battery life of the robot while jogging is about 1 hour It weighs 12kg The Super Sensory System includes five wide-angle stereo depth cameras, hypersonic distance sensors, and an integrated processing system It's running at 16 core CPU and a 1.5 tflop GPU

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    - Twitter Accused of 'Deliberately' Defying Indian Government's New Social Media Rules
    Twitter has "deliberately" defied and failed to comply with India's new social media rules, according to the country's technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Reuters reports that the rules, which became effective in late May, make social media companies "more accountable to legal requests for swift removal of posts and sharing details on the originators of messages. The rules also require big social media companies to set up grievance redressal mechanisms and appoint new executives to coordinate with law enforcement." A senior government official told Reuters that Twitter may no longer be eligible to seek liability exemptions as an intermediary or the host of user content in India due to its failure to comply with new IT rules. "There are numerous queries arising as to whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbour provision," Prasad tweeted. "However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines that came into effect from the 26th of May." Twitter, Prasad added, had chosen the "path of deliberate defiance when it comes to the Intermediary Guidelines." Twitter did not respond to a request for comment though it said on Monday it was keeping India's technology ministry apprised of the steps it was taking. "An interim Chief Compliance Officer has been retained and details will be shared with the Ministry directly soon," it said. "Twitter continues to make every effort to comply with the new guidelines. New Delhi-based digital advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation said it was only up to courts, and not the government, to decide whether companies such as Twitter remained intermediaries for alleged non-compliance such as appointment of executives.

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    - Firefox Begins Testing Sponsors on Some Users' Default Home Page/New Tab Pages
    Earlier this year a new support page appeared at support.Mozilla.org describing sponsored shortcuts (or sponsored tiles), "an experimental feature currently being tested by a small percentage of Firefox users in a limited number of markets." Mozilla works with advertising partners to place sponsored tiles on the Firefox default home page (or New Tab page) that would be useful to Firefox users. Mozilla is paid when users click on sponsored tiles.... [W]e only work with advertising partners that meet our privacy standards for Firefox. When you click on a sponsored tile, Firefox sends anonymized technical data to our partner through a Mozilla-owned proxy service. The code for this proxy service is available on GitHub for interested technical audiences. This data does not include any personally identifying information and is only shared when you click on a Sponsored shortcut.... You can disable a specific Sponsored tile... You can also disable Sponsored shortcuts altogether. Describing the as-yet-experimental feature, Engadget wrote a story headlined "Don't freak out: Firefox is testing advertisements in new tabs." These are just the tests, still mainly aimed at fresh installs of the Firefox web browser and always to beta users, before the rollout of sponsored tiles. It does sound like adverts are in the pipe, but it depends on the reaction to Mozilla's initial tests. Mozilla's Jonathan Nightingale says that, last time around, the reaction wasn't as positive as his company hoped. "It didn't go over well," he states. Further, he insists that Firefox won't become "a mess of logos sold to the highest bidder; without user control, without user benefit." Long-time Slashdot reader angryargus says they spotted the feature when they noticed an Ebay advertisement, but appreciated the ability to opt out, and suggested the feature is "an annoying tradeoff off using a browser that's not as directly funded by a search engine."

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    - Chinese Astronauts Reach New Space Station For Three-Month Mission
    For the next three months, three Chinese astronauts will live on a cylinder-shaped module measuring 16.6 metres by 4.2 metres (54 feet by 13.7 feet) while carrying out further construction work for China's orbiting space station. It's the first time in five years China has sent humans into space, reports NBC News. : Shenzhou-12, or "Divine Vessel," is one of 11 planned missions to complete construction of China's 70-ton Tiangong or Harmony of the Heavens space station that is set to be up and running by next year... China has long been frozen out of the International Space Station, or ISS, a project launched 20 years ago that has served as the ultimate expression of post-Cold War reconciliation between Russia and the United States. American concerns over the Chinese space program's secrecy and connections to its military were largely responsible for that. But the aging ISS that hosted astronauts from the U.S., Russia and a number of other countries is set to be decommissioned after 2024. As broader U.S.-Russia relations deteriorate, Moscow has hinted that it may withdraw from ISS cooperation in 2025, meaning China could be the only country with a functioning space station. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, also signed an agreement in March with the Chinese National Space Administration to build a base on or around the Moon, which they will call the International Scientific Lunar Station. "All the firsts that the U.S. and the USSR did in the Cold War, China is just ticking them off," said Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "Now they're at the point where they're starting to think, 'OK, we're not just copying the West anymore, we're going to start doing our own thing'. And that's going to be very interesting to watch."

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    - California Defies Expectations of Doom, Promises Massive Tax Rebate
    As California approaches the biggest state tax rebate in U.S. history, Bloomberg News co-founder Matthew A. Winkler questions its reputation as a state doomed by over-regulation and high taxes. In fact, California "has no peers among developed economies for expanding GDP, creating jobs, raising household income, manufacturing growth, investment in innovation, producing clean energy and unprecedented wealth through its stocks and bonds." By adding 1.3 million people to its non-farm payrolls since April last year — equal to the entire workforce of Nevada — California easily surpassed also-rans Texas and New York. At the same time, California household income increased $164 billion, almost as much as Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania combined, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. No wonder California's operating budget surplus, fueled by its surging economy and capital gains taxes, swelled to a record $75 billion... While pundits have long insisted California policies are bad for business, reality belies them. In a sign of investor demand, the weight of California companies in the benchmark S&P 500 Index increased 3 percentage points since a year ago, the most among all states, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Faith in California credit was similarly superlative, with the weight of corporate bonds sold by companies based in the state rising the most among all states, to 12.5 percentage points from 11.7 percentage points, according to the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate Bond Index. Translation: Investors had the greatest confidence in California companies during the pandemic. The most trusted measure of economic strength says California is the world-beater among democracies. The state's gross domestic product increased 21% during the past five years, dwarfing No. 2 New York (14%) and No. 3 Texas (12%), according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The gains added $530 billion to the Golden State, 30% more than the increase for New York and Texas combined and equivalent to the entire economy of Sweden. Among the five largest economies, California outperforms the U.S., Japan and Germany with a growth rate exceeded only by China... Corporate California also is the undisputed leader in renewable energy, with 26 companies worth $897 billion, or 36% of the U.S. industry, having reported 10% or more of their revenues derived from clean technology. No state comes close to matching the 21% of electricity derived from solar energy. Shares of these firms appreciated 282% during the past 12 months and 1,003%, 1,140% and 9,330% over two, five and 10 years, respectively, with no comparable rivals anywhere in the world, according to BloombergNEF. The same companies also increased their workforce 35% since 2019, almost tripling the rate for the rest U.S. overall and four times the global rate... California companies invested 16% of their revenues in R&D, or their future, when the rest of the U.S. put aside just 1%... Much has been made of the state reporting its first yearly loss in population, or 182,000 last year. Had it not been for the Trump administration preventing new visas, depriving as many as 150,000 people from moving to California from other countries annually, the 2020 outcome would have been more favorable.

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    - Some Texans Surprised Their Smart Thermostats Are Being Raised Remotely
    Slashdot reader quonset writes: With the heat wave gripping Texas, and in an effort to prevent another collapse of the power grid as happened in February during cold weather, Texas is, for the third day in a row, asking residents to conserve electricity. Some people in the Houston area have come home to find the temperatures in their homes are still warm (in the high 70s to low 80s) despite their air conditioning running all day! A local Texas reporter tells the tale: The family's smart thermostat was installed a few years ago as part of a new home security package. Many smart thermostats can be enrolled in a program called "Smart Savers Texas." It's operated by a company called EnergyHub. The agreement states that in exchange for an entry into sweepstakes, electric customers allow them to control their thermostats during periods of high energy demand. EnergyHub's list of its clients include TXU Energy, CenterPoint and ERCOT. They spoke to one Texas resident who obviously wasn't even aware of what he'd agreed to when the smart thermostat was installed. As soon as he found out, he immediately unenrolled from the program, complaining "If somebody else can manipulate this, I'm not for it."

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    - Will Data Centers Exacerbate Our Droughts?
    A data center can easily use up to 1.25 million gallons of water each day — and "More data centers are being built every day by some of America's largest technology companies," reports NBC News, "including Amazon, Microsoft and Google and used by millions of customers." Almost 40 percent of them are in the United States, and Amazon, Google and Microsoft account for more than half of the total. The U.S. also has at least 1,800 "colocation" data centers, warehouses filled with a variety of smaller companies' server hardware that share the same cooling system, electricity and security, according to Data Center Map. They are typically smaller than hyperscale data centers but, research has shown, more resource intensive as they maintain a variety of computer systems operating at different levels of efficiency. Many data center operators are drawn to water-starved regions in the West, in part due to the availability of solar and wind energy. Researchers at Virginia Tech estimate that one-fifth of data centers draw water from moderately to highly stressed watersheds, mostly in the Western United States, according to a paper published in April... The growth in the industry shows no signs of slowing. The research company Gartner predicts that spending on global data center infrastructure will reach $200 billion this year, an increase of 6 percent from 2020, followed by 3-4 percent annually over the next three years. This growth comes at a time of record temperatures and drought in the United States, particularly in the West. "The typical data center uses about 3-5 million gallons of water per day — the same amount of water as a city of 30,000-50,000 people," said Venkatesh Uddameri, professor and director of the Water Resources Center at Texas Tech University. Although these data centers have become much more energy and water efficient over the last decade, and don't use as much water as other industries such as agriculture, this level of water use can still create potential competition with local communities over the water supply in areas where water is scarce, he added... Sergio Loureiro, vice president of core operations for Microsoft, said that the company has pledged to be "water positive" by 2030, which means it plans to replenish more water than it consumes globally. This includes reducing the company's water use and investing in community replenishment and conservation projects near where it builds facilities. Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

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    - How a Murderer's Lies Were Exposed by His Cellphone and a Smartwatch
    "Modern technology makes it so much harder to commit a crime of passion and get away with it," writes long-time Slashdot reader knaapie, summarizing a story from the Guardian: A Greek pilot claiming he and his wife were robbed, and his wife strangled by the assailants, has now admitted that he himself killed his wife. Police were already suspicious of him and found evidence from phones and the watch of the deceased that implicated him. In staging the scene of a crime, the suspect even tied up his own hands and those of his dead wife — and strangled their dog. And he'd insisted on his version of the story for five weeks, according to the Guardian. But then... A pulse monitor on the watch showed his wife was dead at a time before he claimed the raid had taken place, while a fitness app on his phone proved he was moving around the house at the time he said he had been blindfolded and tied up. In both cases, the findings conflicted with the timeline of events the professional pilot had previously given. A memory card removed at 1.20am from the security camera of the couple's home, several hours before 4.30am when he claimed the thieves had broken in, provided further evidence.

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    - Google Funds Linux Kernel Development in Rust
    "Google said Thursday it's funding a project to increase Linux security by writing parts of the operating system's core in the Rust programming language, a modernization effort that could bolster the security of the internet and smartphones," reports CNET: If the project succeeds, it'll be possible to add new elements written in Rust into the heart of Linux, called the kernel. Such a change would mark a major technological and cultural shift for an open-source software project that's become foundational to Google's Android and Chrome operating systems as well as vast swaths of the internet. Miguel Ojeda, who's written software used by the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator and worked on programming language security, is being contracted to write software in Rust for the Linux kernel. Google is paying for the contract, which is being extended through the Internet Security Research Group, a nonprofit that's also made it easier to secure website communications through the Let's Encrypt effort. Adding Rust modules to the Linux kernel would improve security by closing some avenues for hackers can use to attack phones, computers or servers. Since it was launched in 1991, Linux has been written solely in the powerful but old C programming language. The language was developed in 1972 and is more vulnerable to hacks than contemporary programming languages... Google credits the Linux community programmers who began the Rust for Linux project. "The community had already done and continues to do great work toward adding Rust support to the Linux kernel build system," Google said in a blog post... [Rust] has been the most loved programming language for five years running in Stack Overflow's annual developer survey. "Rust represents the best alternative to C and C++ currently available," Microsoft's security team concluded in 2019. The team said Rust would have prevented memory problems at fault in 70% of its significant security issues. And because Rust's checks happen while software is being built, the safety doesn't come at the expense of performance when the software is running. The goal of the Linux on Rust project isn't to replace all of Linux's C code but rather to improve selective and new parts.

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    - Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Now Also Elevated to Microsoft's Chairman
    Microsoft Satya Nadella elevated as Microsoft chairman Satya Nadella "has been elevated as chairman of Microsoft, a recognition of how dramatically he has transformed the world's largest software maker as chief executive over the past seven years," reports the Times of India: He will continue to also hold the CEO position. This makes it the first time since 2000, when co-founder Bill Gates stepped down as CEO, that the same person is holding both positions, demonstrating the company's confidence in Nadella's ability to take it into the future. In February 2014, when Nadella was appointed CEO, Microsoft's flagship Windows business was weakening, and the company was struggling with its failures in the mobile phone and internet search markets. Nadella, who grew up in Hyderabad and joined Microsoft in the U.S. in 1992, refocused the company around cloud computing and artificial intelligence, and instilled a greater sense of ownership among employees — moves that paid off handsomely. The company's share price has risen nearly 600% since 2014. And since the fourth quarter of 2018, Microsoft has frequently been the most valued publicly listed company in the world, with Apple the only other contender for that spot... In December, in a filing to the U.S. stock market regulator SEC, the board heaped praise on Nadella for the way he navigated the company through the pandemic, and the manner in which he had transformed the company's culture... The board, the filing said, had asked Nadella to create additional focus on the culture of the organisation for fiscal year 2020 and is very pleased with the results that were achieved. "Based on poll data, 95% of employees feel proud to work at Microsoft. The board credits Mr Nadella for his tremendous progress driving cultural change across the organisation," it said.

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    - Peleton Patches Vulnerability In Camera That Allowed Spying on Riders
    McAfee has discovered a vulnerability "that allows hackers to access Peloton's bike screen," reports CNN, "and potentially spy on riders using its microphone and camera." "However, the threat most likely affects only the $2,495 bike used in public spaces, such as in hotels or gyms, because the hacker needs to physically access the screen using a USB drive containing a malicious code." According to McAfee's Advanced Threat Research team, a hacker can discreetly control the stationary bike's screen remotely and interfere with its operating system. That means hackers could, for example, install apps that look like Netflix or Spotify and steal the users' log-in information. Perhaps more alarmingly, the cybersecurity team was able spy on users via the camera and microphone, which is normally used for video chats with other users. "As a result, an unsuspecting gym-goer taking the Peloton Bike+ for a spin could be in danger of having their personal data compromised and their workout unknowingly watched," the report said. It also warned the hacker could configure this spyware at any point, including during the supply chain or delivery process, without the owner knowing... Peloton released a mandatory software update that fixes the issue to users earlier this month. The security risk doesn't affect the lower-priced Peloton Bike because it uses a different type of touchscreen.... This report marks the second security concern for Peloton in two months. In May, the fitness firm released a security update that sealed a leak that was revealing personal account information, such as a user's age, city and weight.

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    - Linux Foundation Honors Authors of 30 Linux Success Stories By Letting Them Name a Penguin
    The nonprofit Linux Foundation "asked the open source community: How has Linux impacted your life? Needless to say, responses poured in from across the globe sharing memories, sentiments and important moments that changed your lives forever." Their web site now features a selection of stories from America, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, the Philippines, Bosnia & Herzegovina and China. And each story's author received a special honor... We are grateful you took the time to tell us your stories. We're thrilled to share 30 of the responses we received, randomly selected from all submissions. As a thank you to these 30 folks for sharing their stories, and in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Linux, 30 penguins were adopted from the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds in their honor, and each of our submitters got to name their adopted penguin. One Kuwait-based developer had written "when I was able to use it instead of Windows, it made me happier because I didn't have to restart it every couple of days for instability." And a story from Nepal says "Linux enabled me to become a software engineer. I would not have been able to afford Microsoft Windows... I had the opportunity to interact with various people from great communities and learn from their contributions. So I am very much thankful to Linus and each and every member of the free and open source community for helping me become a better programmer and a better person."

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    - Robotic AI-Powered Ship Tries Retracing Mayflower's Voyage, Has to Turn Back
    Check out this video footage of the sleek Mayflower 400 slicing through the water, hoping to retrace the historic 1620 journey of the famous ship which carried pilgrims to America. Unfortunately, unlike the real Mayflower, this robotic 21st-century doppelganger "had to turn back Friday to fix a mechanical problem," reports the Associated Press: Nonprofit marine research organization ProMare, which worked with IBM to build the autonomous ship, said it made the decision to return to base "to investigate and fix a minor mechanical issue" but hopes to be back on the trans-Atlantic journey as soon as possible. With no humans on board the ship, there's no one to make repairs while it's at sea. Piloted by artificial intelligence technology, the 50-foot (15-meter) Mayflower Autonomous Ship began its trip early Tuesday, departing from Plymouth, England, and spending some time off the Isles of Scilly before it headed for deeper waters. It was supposed to take up to three weeks to reach Provincetown on Cape Cod before making its way to Plymouth, Massachusetts. If successful, it would be the largest autonomous vessel to cross the Atlantic.

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