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Updated: 1 hour 28 min ago

How California's Carbon Market Actually Works

Fri, 15/08/2014 - 20:52
Lasrick writes: Almost 10 years ago, California's legislature passed Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. AB 32 set the most ambitious legally binding climate policy in the United States, requiring that California's greenhouse gas emissions return to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The centerpiece of the state's efforts — in rhetorical terms, if not practical ones — is a comprehensive carbon market, which California's leaders promote as a model policy for controlling carbon pollution. Over the course of the past 18 months, however, California quietly changed its approach to a critical rule affecting the carbon market's integrity. Under the new rule, utilities are rewarded for swapping contracts on the Western electricity grid, without actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Now that the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants, many are looking to the Golden State for best climate policy practices. On that score, California's experience offers cautionary insights into the challenges of using carbon markets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Launches Nov. 13th

Fri, 15/08/2014 - 14:51
An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday at Gamescom, Blizzard announced the release date for the latest expansion to World of Warcraft, titled Warlords of Draenor. The expansion will launch on Thursday, November 13th. The launch date is 10 days prior to the game's 10th anniversary, and both will be celebrated by a lengthy incursion event in-game. Blizzard also released the cinematic trailer for Warlords of Draenor.

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Web Trolls Winning As Incivility Increases

Fri, 15/08/2014 - 14:30
mdsolar sends this story from the NY Times: The Internet may be losing the war against trolls. At the very least, it isn't winning. And unless social networks, media sites and governments come up with some innovative way of defeating online troublemakers, the digital world will never be free of the trolls' collective sway. That's the dismal judgment of the handful of scholars who study the broad category of online incivility known as trolling, a problem whose scope is not clear, but whose victims keep mounting. "As long as the Internet keeps operating according to a click-based economy, trolls will maybe not win, but they will always be present," said Whitney Phillips, a lecturer at Humboldt State University and the author of This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, a forthcoming book about her years of studying bad behavior online. "The faster that the whole media system goes, the more trolls have a foothold to stand on. They are perfectly calibrated to exploit the way media is disseminated these days."

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The Billion-Dollar Website

Fri, 15/08/2014 - 13:47
stoborrobots writes: The Government Accountability Office has investigated the cost blowouts associated with how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) handled the Healthcare.gov project. It has released a 60-page report entitled Healthcare.gov: Ineffective Planning and Oversight Practices Underscore the Need for Improved Contract Management, with a 5 page summary. The key takeaway messages are: CMS undertook the development of Healthcare.gov and its related systems without effective planning or oversight practices... [The task] was a complex effort with compressed time frames. To be expedient, CMS issued task orders ... when key technical requirements were unknown... CMS identified major performance issues ... but took only limited steps to hold the contractor accountable.CMS awarded a new contract to another firm [and the new contract's cost has doubled] due to changes such as new requirements and other enhancements...

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DARPA Contemplates Vast Ocean Network

Fri, 15/08/2014 - 11:35
coondoggie writes Probably one of the last and perhaps unforgiving areas of the world not truly "wired" is above and below the ocean. Researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) want to explore the possibility of seriously changing that notion and develop what it calls "a system-of-systems architecture and critical components to support networked maritime operations, to include undersea, surface, and above surface domains."

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Correcting Killer Architecture

Fri, 15/08/2014 - 10:34
minstrelmike writes In Leeds, England, architects are adding a plethora of baffles and other structures to prevent the channeling of winds from a skyscraper that have pushed baby carriages into the street and caused one pedestrian death by blowing over a truck. Other architectural mistakes listed in the article include death ray buildings that can melt car bumpers and landscape ponds that blind tenants.

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How Drones Entered the FBI's Spying Toolkit

Fri, 15/08/2014 - 05:26
Jason Koebler writes The FBI has had an eager eye on surveillance drones since first experimenting with remote control airplanes in 1995. But budget cuts nearly ended the Bureau's unmanned machinations in 2010, and it took a dedicated push aimed at making drones "a tool the FBI cannot do without" to cement their place in the FBI's surveillance toolkit. The near termination—and subsequent expansion—of the FBI's drone program over the past four years is chronicled in hundreds of heavily-redacted pages released under a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington over the past several months.

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Berlin Bans Car Service Uber

Fri, 15/08/2014 - 03:07
An anonymous reader is just one of many who have pointed out that things don't look good for Uber in Berlin. Berlin has banned car service Uber, which allows users to summon a ride on their smartphone, for not offering drivers and vehicles licensed to carry passengers, or full insurance cover, the German capital said. The ban takes immediate effect and Uber risks fines of up to 25,000 euros each time it violates the city's Public Transport Act, Berlin authorities said in a statement. Uber said on Thursday it would appeal against the decision, accusing Berlin of denying its people choice and mobility. "As a new entrant we are bringing much-needed competition to a market that hasn't changed in years. Competition is good for everyone and it raises the bar and ultimately it's the consumer who wins," said Fabien Nestmann, German General Manager at Uber. Undaunted by the setback in Berlin, Uber has launched uberTAXI in Hong Kong.

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Can Our Computers Continue To Get Smaller and More Powerful?

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 21:45
aarondubrow (1866212) writes In a [note, paywalled] review article in this week's issue of the journal Nature (described in a National Science Foundation press release), Igor Markov of the University of Michigan/Google reviews limiting factors in the development of computing systems to help determine what is achievable, in principle and in practice, using today's and emerging technologies. "Understanding these important limits," says Markov, "will help us to bet on the right new techniques and technologies." Ars Technica does a great job of expanding on the various limitations that Markov describes, and the ways in which engineering can push back against them.

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Where are the Flying Cars? (Video; Part Two of Two)

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 21:05
Yesterday we ran Part One of this two-part video. This is part two. To recap yesterday's text introduction: Detroit recently hosted the North American Science Fiction Convention, drawing thousands of SF fans to see and hear a variety of talks on all sorts of topics. One of the biggest panels featured a discussion on perhaps the greatest technological disappointment of the past fifty years: Where are our d@%& flying cars? Panelists included author and database consultant Jonathan Stars, expert in Aeronautical Management and 20-year veteran of the Air Force Douglas Johnson, author and founder of the Artemis Project Ian Randal Strock, novelist Cindy A. Matthews, Fermilab physicist Bill Higgins, general manager of a nanotechnology company Dr. Charles Dezelah, and astrobiology expert Dr. Nicolle Zellner. As it turns out, the reality of situation is far less enticing than the dream -- but new technologies offer a glimmer of hope. (Alternate Video Link)

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Google Expands Safe Browsing To Block Unwanted Downloads

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 20:22
An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced it is expanding its Safe Browsing service to protect users against malware that makes unexpected changes to your computer. Google says it will show a warning in Chrome whenever an attempt is made to trick you into downloading and installing such software. In the case of malware, PUA stands for Potentially Unwanted Application, which is also sometimes called Potentially Unwanted Program or PUP. In short, the broad terms encompass any downloads that the user does not want, typically because they display popups, show ads, install toolbars in the default browser, change the homepage or the search engine, run several processes in the background that slow down the PC, and so on."

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Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 18:58
New submitter fpodoo writes "We are going to launch a new version of Odoo, the open source business apps suite. Once a year we release a new version and all the documentation has to be rewritten, as the software evolves a lot. It's a huge effort (~1000 pages, 250 apps) and it feels like we are building on quicksand. I am wondering if it would be better to invest all our efforts in R&D on improving the user experience and building tools in the product to better help the user. Do you know any complex software that succeeded in avoiding documentation by having significantly improved usability? As a customer, how would you feel with a very simple product (much simpler than the competition but still a bit complex) that has no documentation?"

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Microsoft Black Tuesday Patches Bring Blue Screens of Death

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 18:16
snydeq (1272828) writes "Two of Microsoft's kernel-mode driver updates — which often cause problems — are triggering a BSOD error message on some Windows systems, InfoWorld reports. 'Details at this point are sparse, but it looks like three different patches from this week's Black Tuesday crop are causing Blue Screens with a Stop 0x50 error on some systems. If you're hitting a BSOD, you can help diagnose the problem (and perhaps prod Microsoft to find a solution) by adding your voice to the Microsoft Answers Forum thread on the subject.'"

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Interviews: Ask Bjarne Stroustrup About Programming and C++

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 17:35
In addition to being the creator of C++, Bjarne Stroustrup is a Managing Director in the technology division of Morgan Stanley, a Visiting Professor in Computer Science at Columbia University, and a Distinguished Research Professor in Computer Science at Texas A&M University. Bjarne has written a number of books and was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He will be doing a live Google + Q & A within the C++ community on August 20th, 2014 at 12:30pm EST, but has agreed to answer your questions first. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

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How to Maintain Lab Safety While Making Viruses Deadlier

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 16:56
Lasrick (2629253) writes "A scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison published an article in June revealing that he had taken genes from the deadly human 1918 Spanish Flu and inserted them into the H5N1 avian flu to make a new virus—one which was both far deadlier and far more capable of spreading than the original avian strain. In July it was revealed that the same scientist was conducting another study in which he genetically altered the 2009 strain of flu to enable it to evade immune responses, 'effectively making the human population defenseless against re-emergence.' In the U.S. alone, biosafety incidents involving pathogens happen more than twice per week. These 'gain-of-function' experiments are accidents waiting to happen, with the possibility of starting deadly pandemics that could kill millions. It isn't as if it hasn't happened before: in 2009, a group of Chinese scientists created a viral strain of flu virus that escaped the lab and created a pandemic, killing thousands of people. 'Against this backdrop, the growing use of gain-of-function approaches for research requires more careful examination. And the potential consequences keep getting more catastrophic.' This article explores the history of lab-created pandemics and outlines recommendations for a safer approach to this type of research."

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Telegram Not Dead STOP Alive, Evolving In Japan STOP

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 13:09
itwbennett writes Japan is one of the last countries in the world where telegrams are still widely used. A combination of traditional manners, market liberalization and innovation has kept alive this age-old form of messaging. Companies affiliated with the country's three mobile carriers, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and SoftBank, offer telegrams, which are sent via modern server networks instead of the dedicated electrical wires of the past (Morse telegraphy hasn't been used since 1962), and then printed out with modern printers instead of tape glued on paper. But customers are still charged according to the length of the message, which is delivered within three hours. A basic NTT telegram up to 25 characters long can be sent for ¥440 ($4.30) when ordered online.

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Gartner: Internet of Things Has Reached Hype Peak

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 08:09
Brandon Butler writes In the annual battle of the buzzwords, the Internet of Things has won. Each year the research firm Gartner puts out a Hype Cycle of emerging technologies, a sort of report card for various trends and buzzwords. This year, IoT tops the list. On another note, somewhat surprising is that Gartner says the "cloud computing" is not just hype anymore, but becoming a mainstream technology.

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Murder Suspect Asked Siri Where To Hide a Dead Body

Thu, 14/08/2014 - 03:50
An anonymous reader writes A Florida man currently on trial for murder reportedly attempted to use Siri to garner ideas about where to bury the body of his dead roommate. According to police allegations, a University of Florida student named Pedro Bravo murdered his roommate via strangulation in late September of 2012 over a dispute involving Bravo's ex- girlfriend. According to a detective working the case, Bravo subsequently fired up Siri on his iPhone and asked it "I need to hide my roommate."

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California May Waive Environmental Rules For Tesla

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 22:36
cartechboy writes: We all know Tesla is working on its Gigafactory, and it has yet to announce officially where it will be. But the automaker did announce a shortlist of possible locations, and California wasn't on it. The state has quickly been trying to lure Tesla to get back into contention. Now the state may waive environmental rules which would normally make construction of such a large manufacturing facility more difficult. Apparently, Governor Jerry Brown's office is currently negotiating an incentive package for Tesla that would waive certain parts of the nearly half-century-old California Environmental Quality Act. Not only that, but state officials are reportedly considering letting Tesla begin construction and perform damage mitigation later, along with limiting lawsuits that could slow down the project. Let's not forget some massive tax breaks, to the tune of $500 million. Is California stepping out of bounds here?

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Why the Public Library Beats Amazon

Wed, 13/08/2014 - 21:55
Nate the greatest writes: The launch of Kindle Unlimited last month has many questioning the value of public libraries, with one pundit on Forbes even going so far as to proclaim that the U.K. could save money by shuttering all its libraries and replacing them with Kindle Unlimited subscriptions. Luckily for libraries, they're safe for now because they still beat Kindle Unlimited and its competitors in at least one category: content you want to read. As several reviewers have noted, Kindle Unlimited is stocked almost entirely with indie titles, with a handful of major titles thrown in. Even Scribd and Oyster only have ebooks from two of the five major U.S. publishers, while U.S. public libraries can offer titles from all five. They might be expensive and you might have to get on a waiting list, but as the Wall Street Journal points out, public libraries are safe because they can still offer a better selection. That is true, but I think the WSJ missed a key point: public libraries beat Amazon because they offer services Amazon cannot, including in-person tech support, internet access, and other basic assistance. The fact of the matter is, you can't use KU, Scribd, or Oyster if you don't know how to use your device, and your local public library is the best place to learn.

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