Elon Musk Promises Longer, Curved Tunnel For Future Hyperloop Contests

Shortly after the 2019 Hyperloop Pod competition ended, Elon Musk announced on Twitter that next year's Hyperloop competition will be held in a six mile curved vacuum tunnel. Previously, the competition was held in a straight three-quarters of a mile test tunnel which is located at SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Engadget reports: The Hyperloop competition is a student engineering challenge where teams are invited to design and build a prototype vehicle to travel in the potential Hyperloop network. The vehicles must be self-propelled and achieve maximum possible speeds without crashing. At this year's competition, in which a team from Technical University of Munich (TUM) reached a top speed of 288 miles per hour before damage occurred and an emergency stop had to be performed, Musk mentioned the possibility of expanding the competition to include tunneling as well. "We'll consider a tunneling competition," Musk said at a Q&A about the competition, TechCrunch reports. "I think a tunneling thing would be pretty exciting. Because as I just articulated the primary challenge is how do you tunnel effectively, especially how do you put in the reinforcing segments and get the dirt out effectively -- it's harder than it seems." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2019-07-23 03:15:01 preview's
Canned Laughter Makes Jokes Seem Funnier, Study Finds

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: In research that will ensure the sitcoms of the future are as painful as those broadcast today, scientists have found that canned laughter makes bad jokes seem funnier. The impact of overlaid laughter emerged from a study with autistic and "neurotypical" people, all of whom agreed to endure 40 jokes that were read aloud with recorded laughter following the punchline. All of the volunteers found the jokes funnier when they were accompanied by the sound of others laughing, with the biggest gains produced by recordings of spontaneous laughter rather than more deliberate and controlled laughing, the study found. For the study, PhD student Qing Cai and others trawled the internet for what they describe as "weak" jokes and compiled a list for the comedian Ben van der Velde to read out to those taking part in the study. To get a baseline score for how funny the jokes were, each was assessed without any backing laughter by 20 students who rated them on a scale from one (not funny) to seven (hilarious). The scores ranged from 1.5 to 3.75. Armed with the list and their baseline funny ratings, the scientists asked 72 adults, of whom 24 had an autism diagnosis, to rate the jokes on the same seven-point scale. This time, the jokes were told with either posed or spontaneous canned laughter following the punchline. Writing in the journal Current Biology, the researchers described how any kind of canned laughter had boosted the average scores the jokes had received. Both neurotypical and autistic people reacted more to spontaneous laughter than controlled laughter. And while canned laughter appeared to improve some jokes more than others, controlled laughter raised ratings by an average of about 10%, compared with 15% to 20% for spontaneous laughter. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2019-07-22 23:45:01 preview's
Hackers Stole 7.5TB of Secret Data From Russia's Intelligence Agency

Hackers have reportedly stolen about 7.5 terabytes of data from a major Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) contractor, thus exposing the secret projects the agency was working on to de-anonymize Tor browsing, scrape data from social media, and cut off Russia's internet from the rest of the world. Fossbytes reports: Russia's FSB is the successor agency to the infamous KGB and is similar to the FBI and MI5; a major part of their work includes electronic surveillance in the country and overseas as well. The attack on FSB took place on July 13 when a hacking group that goes by the name 0v1ru$ breached SyTech, a major FSB contractor that works on several internet projects. The hackers defaced SyTech's homepage and left a smiling Yoba Face and other pictures to indicate the breach. 0v1ru$ passed on the stolen data to the larger hacking group Digital Revolution, which in turn shared the files with various media outlets and posted on Twitter. BBC Russia outlines the project data that was stolen and lists the major ones, including Nautilus, a project to scrap data on social media platforms; Nautilus-S, a project to de-anonymize Tor users by creating exit nodes that are controlled by the Russian government; and Nadezhda, a project attempting to create a "sovereign internet" that is isolated from the rest of the internet. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2019-07-22 22:15:01 preview's
SUSE Names Melissa Di Donato New CEO

Melissa Di Donato, SAP's former COO, has been named SUSE's new CEO. ZDNet reports: London-based Di Donato is a well-known technology leader. In particular, she has a proven track record in sales and business operations. Besides being SAP's COO, she was also the company's chief revenue officer. In SAP's latest quarter, SAP saw an increase of 11% year-over-year revenues. Much of that came from the cloud -- where SAP saw 40% year-over-year growth. SAP's cloud is built on SUSE's Linux servers and OpenStack cloud. Di Donato succeeds Nils Brauckmann. While officially Brauckmann is retiring, there seems to be more to the story. On LinkedIn, Brauckmann wrote: "I care very deeply for the SUSE business and its employees, and this difficult decision is based entirely on personal reasons. I am pleased to be handing over the reins to such a talented and accomplished leader as Melissa Di Donato." In his SUSE statement, Brauckman added: "She is a proven and dynamic change agent, and many of her achievements have occurred in subscription businesses that exist in high-growth cloud environments." In April, then-CEO Nils Brauchmann said his company would soon be the largest independent Linux company. This comes after Brauckmann delivered eight years of continuous expansion during his tenure, including record-breaking revenues in FY18, reports ZDNet. "Under Di Donato's leadership, SUSE will continue to focus on growth and expansion. What that means is she's expected to advance SUSE's core business and emerging technologies, both organically and through add-on acquisitions." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2019-07-22 19:30:01 preview's
Apple In Advanced Talks To Buy Intel's Smartphone-Modem Chip Business

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple is in advanced talks to buy Intel's smartphone-modem chip business (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), "a move that would jump-start the iPhone maker's push to take control of developing the critical components powering its devices." From the report: A deal, covering a portfolio of patents and staff valued at $1 billion or more, could be reached in the next week, the people said -- assuming the talks don't fall apart. Though the purchase price is a rounding error for companies valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars, the transaction would be important strategically and financially. It would give Apple access to engineering work and talent behind Intel's yearslong push to develop modem chips for the crucial next generation of wireless technology known as 5G, potentially saving years of development work. For Intel's part, a deal would allow the company to shed a business that had been weighing on its bottom line: The smartphone operation had been losing about $1 billion annually, a person familiar with its performance has said, and has generally failed to live up to expectations. Though it would exit the smartphone business, Intel plans to continue to work on 5G technology for other connected devices. Earlier this year, it was reported that Apple began discussing plans to acquire parts of Intel's smartphone modem chip business last summer, around the time former Intel Chief Executive Brian Krzanich resigned. "Mr. Krzanich championed the modem business and touted 5G technology as a big future revenue stream," reports The Wall Street Journal. "When Bob Swan was named to that job in January, analysts said the odds of a deal rose because his focus on cleaning up Intel would require addressing the losses in the modem business." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2019-07-22 18:45:01 preview's
'Avengers' Surpasses 'Avatar' as Highest-Grossing Film of All Time

Disney's presentation of Marvel's "Avengers: Endgame" has officially surpassed "Avatar" to become the world's highest-grossing film of all time, several months after the film obliterated opening weekend records. From a report: The feat underscores Disney's position as the king of the box office. Disney has had the top grossing movie every year since 2012 and been the top grossing studio since 2016. Disney has reported an estimated $2,790.2 million in revenue through Sunday for "Avengers: Endgame," per Comscore. James Cameron's 2009 science fiction film "Avatar" had previously held the top spot of the highest grossing global release of all time with $2,789.7 million. Disney's success can largely be attributed to the three franchises that it has cultivated or acquired over the past few years: Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2019-07-22 17:30:01 preview's
Did Marvel Just Save Comic-Con?

From the details of Phase 4 to the future of *Star Trek*, our culture team weighs in.
2019-07-22 16:45:01 preview's
European Commission Rules That UK Dwelling EU Citizens Can Still Hold .Eu Domains After Brexit

What Brexit really means for the UK -- whenever it may end up happening -- still remains to be seen. But a new ruling by the European Commission means that even after leaving Europe, UK citizens will still be able to hold .eu top-level domains after leaving the European Union. From a report: The ruling is a reversal of a decision taken earlier in the year that EU citizens living in the UK post-Brexit would not be able to own such domains. It comes as the Commission becomes increasingly concerned about the "uncertainties surrounding the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement", and what the implications of this could be. With the new decision, it will not matter where an EU citizen lives after Brexit. The only requirement to owning a .eu domain is being an EU citizen; it is possible to living in the EU, in the UK, or anywhere else. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2019-07-22 15:30:02 preview's
With 'Lion King' and 'Avengers,' Disney Rules the Box Office

The studio's films are making bank in a lackluster year.
2019-07-22 15:15:01 preview's
DRAM Prices To Slide More Than 40% in 2019 Because Chip Makers Can't Forecast

The laws of botched supply and demand forecasting are coming home to roost for the semiconductor industry in 2019 with DRAM average sales price set to fall 42.1 per cent. From a report: The latest ladle of doom and gloom was poured onto the sector this morning by Gartner, days after IC Insights delivered its dark prognosis for chip makers. "A weaker pricing environment for memory and some other chip types combined with the US-China trade dispute and lower growth in major applications, including smartphones, servers and PCs is driving the global semiconductor market to its lowest growth level since 2009," said Gartner analyst Ben Lee. [...] The upshot of this is that global semiconductor revenues are expected to drop 9.6 per cent year-on-year to $475bn. This is down 3.4 per cent on Gartner's earlier forecast and likely could be revised again before the end of 2019 is upon us. Given the volumes of DRAM swilling around the supply chain that have forced down price, oversupply is on track to spill into the first and second quarters of the next calendar year. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2019-07-22 14:45:01