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Drones Could 3D-Map Scores of Hectares of Land In Just a Few Hours

Slashdot - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 15:22
sciencehabit writes: Unmanned drones aren't just for warfare. In recent years, they've been used to map wildlife and monitor crop growth. But current software can't always handle the vast volume of images they gather. Now, researchers have developed an algorithm that will allow drones to 3D-map scores of hectares of land in less than a day — an advance that is important for cost-effective farming, disaster relief, and surveillance operations. Their computer program directly projects the points from each photo onto a 3D space without knowing the exact shape of the land or the camera positions. As a result, the tie points don't necessarily match up, which means the same corn plant can have two projections on the model. When that happens, the algorithm automatically takes the middle point between the two projections as the more accurate location and adjusts the camera position accordingly, one image at a time. Because the algorithm tweaks far fewer things at each step, the shortcut drastically speeds up calculations. Once the software has adjusted the camera positions for all the photos, the software repeats the entire process — starting from projecting the points to the 3D space — to correct for any errors.

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Dangerous Vulnerability Fixed In Wget

Slashdot - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 15:01
jones_supa writes: A critical flaw has been found and patched in the open source Wget file retrieval utility that is widely used on UNIX systems. The vulnerability is publicly identified as CVE-2014-4877. "It was found that wget was susceptible to a symlink attack which could create arbitrary files, directories or symbolic links and set their permissions when retrieving a directory recursively through FTP," developer Vasyl Kaigorodov writes in Red Hat Bugzilla. A malicious FTP server can stomp over your entire filesystem, tweets HD Moore, chief research officer at Rapid 7, who is the original reporter of the bug.

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HP's 3D-scanning 'Sprout' PC is unlike anything else the company has made

Engadget - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 15:00
The best way to describe Sprout, an ambitious new desktop from HP, is that it's unlike any PC the company has ever made. The second-best way: It's an all-in-one computer with a touch mat that acts as a second screen, and an overhead projector/camera...

Reddit's new crowdfunding site draws on your fellow fans for help

Engadget - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 14:34
The Reddit community already has a knack for rallying people around common causes, whether they're charities, fan shirts or getting soldiers decent toilet paper. Wouldn't it make sense to create a crowdfunding site that harnesses that energy?...

Windows 10 Gets a Package Manager For the Command Line

Slashdot - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 14:21
aojensen writes: ExtremeTech reports that the most recent build of Windows 10 Technical Preview shows that Windows is finally getting a package manager. The package manager is built for the PowerShell command line based on OneGet. OneGet is a command line utility for PowerShell very similar to classic Linux utilities such as apt-get and yum, which enable administrators and power users comfortable with the command line to install software packages without the need for a graphical installer. ExtremeTech emphasizes that "you can open up PowerShell and use OneGet to install thousands of applications with commands such as Find-Package VLC and Install-Package Firefox." It's a missing feature Linux advocates have long used to argue against Windows in terms of automation and scale. The package manage is open to any software repository and is based on the Chocolatey format for defining package repositories."

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HP reveals Sprout: The strange 3D-scanning, multi-display all-in-one PC

Engadget - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 14:06
We've seen some strange devices here at Engadget, but honestly, we've never seen anything quite like Sprout. It's a unique machine that combines an all-in-one Windows 8 PC with a set of 3D scanning cameras, a giant tactile touchpad and a...

HP wants to be a 3D printing giant with new 'Multi Jet Fusion' tech

Engadget - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 14:02
HP has just revealed a lot more information about the 3D printing technology it teased dramatically a few months ago. It's called "Multi Jet Fusion," and the company thinks it can "change entire industries." The original goal was to make 3D printers...

Dabbling in the future of payment: A week with Apple Pay and Google Wallet

Engadget - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 14:00
On Monday last week, Apple finally launched Apple Pay, the company's mobile-payment system that only works with the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and the latest iPads. (Though you can't use iPads for in-store payments.) Even though mobile payments have been...

Keen Home wants smart devices that help prevent basement flooding

Engadget - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 13:47
The promise of a smart home, ultimately, is to introduce savings of some sorts be it with time, effort or money. Keen Home is targeting the latter with its Smart Vent which monitors things like outside air temperature as well as the climate in your...

Skilled Foreign Workers Treated as Indentured Servants

Slashdot - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 13:40
theodp writes: A year-long investigation by NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit and The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) raises questions about the H-1B visa program. In a five-part story that includes a mini-graphic novel called Techsploitation, CIR describes how the system rewards job brokers who steal wages and entrap Indian tech workers in the U.S., including the awarding of half a billion dollars in Federal tech contracts to those with labor violations. "Shackling workers to their jobs," CIR found after interviewing workers and reviewing government agency and court documents, "is such an entrenched business practice that it has even spread to U.S. nationals. This bullying persists at the bottom of a complex system that supplies workers to some of America's richest and most successful companies, such as Cisco Systems Inc., Verizon and Apple Inc." In a presumably unrelated move, the U.S. changed its H-1B record retention policy last week, declaring that records used for labor certification, whether in paper or electronic, "are temporary records and subject to destruction" after five years under the new policy. "There was no explanation for the change, and it is perplexing to researchers," reports Computerworld. "The records under threat are called Labor Condition Applications (LCA), which identify the H-1B employer, worksite, the prevailing wage, and the wage paid to the worker." Lindsay Lowell, director of policy studies at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University, added: "It undermines our ability to evaluate what the government does and, in today's world, retaining electronic records like the LCA is next to costless [a full year's LCA data is less than 1 GB]." President Obama, by the way, is expected to use his executive authority to expand the H-1B program after the midterm elections.

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Startup wants to raise $1.8 million to build giant fighting robots

Engadget - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 13:00
The folks at MegaBots Inc. dream of making humongous machines: 15-foot-tall, 15,000-pound piloted robots to be exact. And they don't want to build them for rescue missions or military use -- nope, these robots are designed to duke it out in an arena...

Verizon Launches Tech News Site That Bans Stories On US Spying

Slashdot - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 12:57
blottsie writes: The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called SugarString.com. The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game. There's just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.

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Londoners can now give to charity by paying for travel with a contactless card

Engadget - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 12:40
More Londoners than ever are using contactless payments to get around the capital, and now, a new initiative called "Penny for London" is asking commuters to add charitable donations to their daily routine, too. The idea is that every time you use a...

Verizon's new tech site won't cover anything that makes its owner look bad

Engadget - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 12:31
It's a great time for technology journalism, with hundreds of sites all working very hard to bring you exhaustive coverage of their specialist field. Verizon, however, clearly doesn't feel that it's getting enough attention, which is why it's...

Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

Slashdot - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 12:15
HughPickens.com writes: The Independent reports that Pope Francis, speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, has declared that the theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real. "When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so," said Francis. "He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment." Francis explained that both scientific theories were not incompatible with the existence of a creator – arguing instead that they "require it." "Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve." Experts say the Pope's comments put an end to the "pseudo theories" of creationism and intelligent design that some argue were encouraged by his predecessor, Benedict XVI who spoke out against taking Darwin too far.

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Smart microwave suggests meals based on your cooking habits

Engadget - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 12:00
It's not hard to find microwave-friendly recipes, but it's another matter to both find the right recipes and cook them properly. However, SectorQube may just take care of all of those challenges at once if its crowdfunded MAID (Make All Incredible...

A group of retailers can't support Apple Pay due to contract with rival tech

Engadget - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 11:14
When CVS and Rite-Aid shut off their NFC-based payments to prevent customers from using Apple Pay, we heard it was because they're part of a large group developing rival technology CurrentC. Now, The New York Times has shed more light on the issue,...

​Security researcher uses radio frequencies to smuggle data out of isolated network

Engadget - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 10:13
Think your completely isolated, internet-disconnected "air gap" computer network is secure from wireless infiltration? Think again -- security researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel have found a way to lift data from closed networks using...

Manuel Noriega's case against Activision dismissed by California judge

Engadget - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 09:47
Apparently Mayor Giuliani's defense worked: Former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega's case against Activision for including his likeness in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 has been dismissed by a California judge. As Kotaku spotted, Activision issued a press...

Getting Lost In the Scientific Woods Is Good For You

Slashdot - Wed, 29/10/2014 - 09:18
StartsWithABang writes: Wandering into the woods unprepared and without a plan sounds like a terrible idea. But if you're interested in scientific exploration at the frontiers, confronting the unknown with whatever you happen to have at your disposal, you have to take that risk. You have to be willing to take those steps. And you have to be okay with putting your best ideas out there — for all to see — knowing full well that you might get the entire thing wrong. Sometimes, that's indeed what happens. Some of the most revered and famous scientific minds in history confronted the great mysteries of nature, and came away having done nothing but set us back many years by leading the field down a blind alley. But other times, the greatest leaps forward in our understanding occur as a result. The article shares some notable examples, and explains why this is vital for scientific progress.

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