Mars Rover Is Frozen In Place Following Software Error Slashdotby BeauHD on mars at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at January 24, 2020, 8:05 am)

Iwastheone writes: NASA reports that Curiosity has suffered a system failure that left the robot unaware of its position and attitude on the red planet. Until it recovers, Curiosity is frozen in place. Mars is far enough away that we can't directly control Curiosity in real-time -- the rover gets batches of commands and then carries them out. That means it needs to have precise awareness of the state of all its joints, as well as environmental details like the location of nearby obstacles and the slope of the ground. This vital information ensures the rover doesn't bump anything with its arm or clip large rocks as it rolls along. Curiosity stores all this attitude data in memory, but something went wrong during operations several days ago. As the rover was carrying out its orders, it suddenly lost track of its orientation. The attitude data didn't add up, so Curiosity froze in place to avoid damaging itself. While the rover is physically stuck in place, it's still in communication with the team here on Earth. Since everything else is working on the rover, NASA was able to develop a set of instructions that should get the rover moving again. When transmitted, the data will inform Curiosity of its attitude and confirm its current state. This should allow the rover to recover and keep performing its safety checks. However, NASA also hopes to gather data on what caused the issue in the first place. The hope is they can avoid another freeze-up in the future.

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Comic for January 23, 2020 Dilbert Daily Strip(cached at January 24, 2020, 7:01 am)

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What the Hell Happened To Mint? Slashdotby BeauHD on money at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at January 24, 2020, 4:35 am)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fast Company: Intuit's Mint personal-finance service wants me to know it's sorry. Again. "We're sorry!" its investments page bleats when I try to view my mutual funds' performance. "Our graphs require the latest version of Adobe Flash player." That site has spent years apologizing to me for needing Adobe's vulnerability-riddled plug-in: since I long ago booted Flash from my browser, since Adobe said in 2017 that it would drop Flash by the end of 2020, since Intuit told me in 2018 that Mint would wean itself from Flash "in the coming months." But that's in keeping with this fossilized financial tool. Mint still provides a valuable service for free in aggregating transaction data from multiple financial institutions to clarify where your money comes and goes -- and in the bargain suggests hopefully-better financial products from advertisers -- but this app exhibits severe symptoms of neglect. It's as if Mint, with 13 million-plus registered users, were a resource-constrained startup instead of a property of Intuit, the Microsoft of personal finance. But more than a decade after the firm behind TurboTax and QuickBooks (and, until 2016, Quicken) bought Mint for $170 million, neatly taking a competitor off the map, this once-groundbreaking app might as well be streaked with cobwebs. The report goes on to note the "updates" category of Mint's blog "reveals no new features since April 2019's revised financial-advice interfaces in the mobile apps it introduced soon after the acquisition." "It could be doing much more," says Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint. He points in particular to the lack of integration between Mint and TurboTax, saying, "I had a dream that TurboTax would take you about five minutes." Another explanation for why the personal-finance service has gone neglected is the success of TurboTax, which generates roughly 10 to 20 times the revenue of Mint. Fast Company also notes that Mint "benefits from a lack of serious competition," as Quicken requires an annual subscription and remains desktop-bound, and the free Personal Capital web app is more geared toward investment management.

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Trend Micro Set Up a Fake Tech Company and Honeypot To Study Cyber Criminals Slashdotby BeauHD on security at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at January 24, 2020, 3:09 am)

DesScorp writes: In an effort to better understand the latest threats to IT systems, antivirus and security company Trend Micro created a fake tech company, complete with AI-generated photos of fake employees, in order to build a honeypot environment that looked like an actual, working tech factory environment. "Malicious hackers are targeting factories and industrial environments with a wide variety of malware and cyberattacks including ransomware, cryptocurrency miners -- and in some cases they're actively looking to shut down or disrupt systems," reports ZDNet. "All of these incidents were spotted by researchers at cybersecurity company Trend Micro who built a honeypot that mimicked the environment of a real factory. The fake factory featured some common cybersecurity vulnerabilities to make it appealing for hackers to discover and target." The report adds: "To help make the honeypot as convincing as possible, researchers linked the desktops, networks and servers to a false company they called MeTech and created a website detailing how the manufacturer served clients in high-tech sectors including defense and aerospace -- popular targets for hacking. The website even featured images and bios of people who supposedly worked for the false brand, with headshots generated by artificial intelligence in an effort to make the honeypot look as much like a legitimate company as possible." Trend Micro even leaked details of system vulnerabilities in things like Virtual Network Computing (VNC) access to further lure criminals in. The fake company was attacked by everyone from ransomware actors to cryptocurrency miners, to hackers that did "recon" to look for possible industrial espionage data.

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'Unauthorized Bread': A Tale of Jailbreaking Refugees Versus IoT Appliances Slashdotby BeauHD on books at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at January 24, 2020, 2:35 am)

Science fiction writer, journalist and longtime Slashdot reader, Cory Doctorow, a.k.a. mouthbeef, writes: My novella "Unauthorized Bread" -- originally published last year in Radicalized from Tor Books -- has just been published on Ars Technica: it's an epic tale of jailbreaking refugees versus the disobedient IoT appliances they're forced to use, and it's being turned into a TV show by The Intercept's parent company and a graphic novel by First Second with help from Jennifer Doyle. Making the story open access was in honor of the book being shortlisted for Canada Reads, Canada's national book award. The story builds on the work I've done with EFF to legalize jailbreaking, including our lawsuit to overturn parts of the DMCA. The story is part of a lineage with a long history of /. interest, starting with my 2002 Salon story 0wnz0red, and it only seemed fitting that I let you know about it!

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Oregon Supreme Court Approves Measure To Limit Self-Checkout Lanes Slashdotby BeauHD on robot at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at January 24, 2020, 2:05 am)

nickwinlund77 shares a report from Corvallis Gazette-Times: A petition to limit each grocery store to two self-checkout kiosks can move forward to signature gathering for a state ballot measure. On Friday, the Oregon Supreme Court certified the attorney general's description of the proposed measure. Backers need 112,020 signatures to get to voters' ballots in November. Filed in July, Initiative Petition 41 is backed by the Oregon AFL-CIO, a coalition of labor groups representing about 300,000 Oregon workers. "We have been consistently concerned about the impacts of technology and automation on the livelihoods of working people, especially when they have no voice in how technology is used in their workplaces," Graham Trainor, president of the Oregon AFL-CIO, said in a statement. "You can see expansion of self-checkout machines in stores across the country and in Oregon." He said jobs are lost as a result. The AFL-CIO contends self-checkout kiosks make customers feel socially isolated, particularly elderly people, and that the kiosks let stores rely more on part-time workers and leaves workers "feeling devalued." They also claim self-checkout stands make it easier for minors to buy alcohol and for people to steal from stores. The measure would give the state Bureau of Labor and Industries enforcement power and let it issue penalties for stores that provide too many self-service stations. "Today's customer wants convenience and less hassle when shopping," said Joe Gilliam, president of the Northwest Grocery Association, an industry group. "This is evident in the growth of online shopping for local pick-up and home delivery. This measure is tone deaf to what the public is demanding in the marketplace." He said that self-checkout lets customers check out more quickly and privately. He said presuming that self-checkout machines would replace workers is "simply untrue."

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Germany Rejected Nuclear Power -- and Deadly Emissions Spiked Slashdotby BeauHD on power at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at January 24, 2020, 1:05 am)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: On New Year's Eve, while the rest of the world was preparing to ring in a new decade, employees of the German energy company EnBW were getting ready to pull the plug on one of the country's few remaining nuclear power plants. The license to operate the two reactors at the Philippsburg nuclear facility expired at midnight after 35 years of providing carbon-free power to Germans living along the country's southwestern border. The Philippsburg plant was the eleventh nuclear facility decommissioned in Germany over the last decade. The country's remaining six nuclear plants will go dark by 2022. To uncover the hidden costs of denuclearizing Germany, economists used machine learning to analyze reams of data gathered between 2011 and 2017. The researchers, based at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, and Carnegie Mellon University, found that nuclear power was mostly replaced with power from coal plants, which led to the release of an additional 36 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, or about a 5 percent increase in emissions. More distressingly, the researchers estimated that burning more coal led to local increases in particle pollution and sulfur dioxide and likely killed an additional 1,100 people per year from respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses. "Altogether, the researchers calculated that the increased carbon emissions and deaths caused by local air pollution amounted to a social cost of about $12 billion per year," the report says. "The study found that this dwarfs the cost of keeping nuclear power plants online by billions of dollars, even when the risks of a meltdown and the cost of nuclear waste storage are considered."

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Sonos CEO Apologizes For Confusion, Says Legacy Products Will Work 'As Long As Possi Slashdotby BeauHD on music at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at January 24, 2020, 12:35 am)

On Tuesday, Sonos announced that come May 2020, a number of its older products will no longer receive software updates. Naturally, this frustrated many longtime customers, prompting Sonos CEO Patrick Spence to issue a statement to try to clear up the confusion. The Verge reports: "We heard you," is how Spence begins the letter to customers. "We did not get this right from the start." Spence apologizes for any confusion and reiterates that the so-called legacy products will "continue to work as they do today." "Many of you have invested heavily in your Sonos systems, and we intend to honor that investment for as long as possible." Similarly, Spence pledges that Sonos will deliver bug fixes and security patches to legacy products "for as long as possible" -- without any hard timeline. Most interesting, he says "if we run into something core to the experience that can't be addressed, we'll work to offer an alternative solution and let you know about any changes you'll see in your experience." The letter from Sonos' CEO doesn't retract anything that the company announced earlier this week; Spence is just trying to be as clear as possible about what's happening come May. Spence again confirms that Sonos is planning a way for customers to fork any legacy devices they might own off of their main Sonos system with more modern speakers. (Sonos architected its system so that all devices share the same software. Once one product is no longer eligible for updates, the whole setup stops receiving them. This workaround is designed to avoid that problem.)

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Apple Lawsuit Tests If An Employee Can Plan Rival Startup While On Payroll Slashdotby BeauHD on court at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at January 24, 2020, 12:05 am)

Attorneys for a former Apple executive will try to convince a skeptical judge that employees can plan a competing venture while still in a job. Reuters reports: Apple filed the lawsuit in Santa Clara County Superior Court against Gerard Williams III, who left the company last year after more than nine years as chief architect for the custom processors that power iPhones and iPads to start Nuvia Inc, which is designing chips for servers. Judge Mark H. Pierce last week issued a tentative ruling allowing the case to proceed but barring Apple from seeking punitive damages. Apple sued Williams in August, alleging that he breached an intellectual property agreement and a duty of loyalty to the company by planning his new startup while on company time at Apple, spending hours on the phone with colleagues who eventually joined the venture. Apple is not suing Nuvia itself or any of Williams' co-founders and it did not allege any intellectual property or trade secret theft. According to a copy of Williams' agreement that Apple attached to its complaint, the contract required that Williams "will not plan or engage in any other employment" that competes with Apple or is directly related to the company. In a filing in November, Williams argued that Apple's contract was unenforceable because California law allows employees to make some preparations to compete while still in their current job.

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Iguanas falling from trees in Florida BBC News | Science/Nature | UK Edition(cached at January 24, 2020, 12:00 am)

As temperatures drop in Florida more and more iguanas are plummeting to the ground.