Oggi e' 26.01.2020
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  • Former US Regulator and Accenture Exploring Digital Currency for US Central Banks
    A former chair of America's Commodity Futures Trading Commission is working with Accenture to explore what Computerworld calls "a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency" -- a cash-backed stablecoin, issued and controlled by America's central bank, where one token represents one dollar. Long-time Slashdot reader Lucas123 writes: A cryptocurrency based on a blockchain ledger would be a cheaper, faster and more inclusive global financial system than today's analog-based reserve currency that can take two or more days to clear, according to their Digital Dollar Project. The race to integrate cryptocurrency into global banking is speeding up as public sector projects are already driving interest in fiat-backed digital tokens by central and regional banks around the globe but primarily in Europe and Asia. Accenture already has "experience working with central banks on digital currency and related initiatives," Computerworld points out, and quotes the former CFTC chair as saying that "The digital 21st century is underserved by an analogue reserve currency. "A digital dollar would help future-proof the greenback and allow individuals and global enterprises to make payments in dollars irrespective of space and time."

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  • Some Vendors Are Already Releasing Chipsets That Support 6 GHz Wifi
    Long-time Slashdot reader gabebear writes: The FCC hasn't officially cleared 6 GHz for WiFi, but chipsets that support 6 GHz are starting to be released. 6 GHz opens up a several times more bandwidth than what is currently available with WiFi, although it doesn't penetrate walls as well as 2.4 GHz. Celeno has their press release and Broadcom has their press release. Still no news from Intel or Qualcomm on chipsets that support 6 GHz.

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  • JetBrains to Reimagine IntelliJ as Text Editor, Add Machine Learning
    From a report: JetBrains has added further destinations to the IntelliJ-based roadmap it sketched out last year, promising more localization, machine learning and Git integration amongst a range of other goodies for the Java IDE... The Prague-based firm's CTO Dimitry Jemerov said users had long asked to be able to use its IDEs for "general purpose text editing". While this is possible to some degree currently, in some situations it created a temporary project file, leading to disk clutter and "other inconveniences". However, recent performance improvements mean "the possibility of using our IDEs as lightweight text editors has become more plausible, so we're now building a dedicated mode for editing non-project files. In this mode, the IDE will work more like a simple text editor." This will be faster, he promised, but the feature set will be very limited and "you'll be able to easily switch to the full project mode if you need to use features such as refactoring or debugging... Other upcoming features include more machine learning. Jemerov said this was already being used to improve code completion, but would now be rolled out for other completion features. "We're teaching ML completion to make better use of the context for ranking completion suggestions and to generate completion variants that go beyond a single identifier (full-line completion)". That might take a while, he said, but was a "major area where we are investing our efforts."

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  • Robert Cringely Attempts an Air-Launching Space Startup
    "How does a 67-year-old hack with three minor children recover from going blind, losing his home and business in a horrible fire (like 2,000 others, we are still fighting with insurance companies), while appeasing an angry crowd of Kickstarter supporters armed with pitchforks and shovels?" That crowd still wants long-time tech pundit Robert X. Cringely to deliver on his Kickstarter-funded project to create custom Minecraft servers. So in a new blog post this week, Cringely writes that "I went looking for venture money to recapitalize MineServer and I simultaneously started a satellite launch company to fund my eventual retirement. I am not making this up..." He's now found a Beverly Hills patron who wants to be a co-investor in the Minecraft servers, but "I will have to earn the matching money on my own, which is what I have been trying to do with my other startup, Eldorado Space." Eldorado will later this year begin launching into low earth orbit CubeSats up to 12 kilograms in weight. Doing a space startup may seem like the stupidest, highest-risk way to go about restarting a career, but I thought it would be fun and it has been. Fortunately, we found a visionary billionaire to be our seed investor. We will shortly close our Series A round with most of that money already committed... [F]or Eldorado, we (which means my co-founder Tomas Svitek -- a real rocket scientist who used to report directly to Jeff Bezos at Blue Origin -- seven engineers and me) pledged to invent nothing and to avoid liquid fuels if possible. We took 50-year-old ammonium perchlorate composite propellant (the same solid fuel used in the Space Shuttle's strap-on boosters) and improved it using modern materials, processes, and some common sense. NO 3D printing! The result is a cheaper rocket that can sit on the shelf for years then be launched as-needed within hours... [W]e've offered to launch on FOUR hours notice and then launch again every TWO hours after that until they tell us to stop. So if Bond villain Ernst Blofeld, for example, figured out a way to take down the GPS system, we could replace the whole constellation in less than a day, then do it all over again as often as needed. That would probably deter Dr. Evil from even trying his trick in the first place.... Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit drops its rocket horizontally from a Boeing 747 flying at 35,000 feet going Mach 0.7. We "toss" our rocket while flying in a 45-degree climb at 78,000 feet going Mach 2.2, which is much more exciting. You can see the curvature of the Earth. Launching higher, faster, and at the proper angle lets us use a smaller cheaper rocket on a smaller cheaper aircraft for a lower launch price. Virgin charges $12 million per launch while we charge $1 million for up to 12U into any orbit.... "But how do you protect your business if you aren't inventing anything? Where is your intellectual property? Where is your defensive moat?" There's actually plenty of clever IP inside Eldorado, but what mainly keeps another startup from just copying our work is the required fleet of Mach 2.2+ launch aircraft. We bought all of them, you see... all of them on the planet.

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  • Ask Slashdot: How Can You Refresh Your Linux and Sysadmin Skills?
    Slashdot reader PrimeGoat has used Linux for 20 years, "10 of which were during my career as a Linux sysadmin..." "However, there's more to being a sysadmin than just knowing how to use Linux." There are best practices that evolve, new methods of doing things and new software that constantly comes out and evolves. This is where my challenge comes. In 2012 I stopped my career as a Linux sysadmin... There's a lot of stuff that I missed out on. I'm wondering what I should do to refresh my skills and to catch up on what I've missed? An obvious solution would be to get a job as a sysadmin again, but this probably isn't going to happen, as I'm changing my trajectory. I'm currently training to become a fullstack web developer, but still have a need to update my sysadmin skills and keep them fresh... Any suggestions on what actions to take on my own to catch up and keep fresh? Leave your thoughts in the comments. What's the best way to refresh both your Linux and sysadmin skills?

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  • Attention Mars Explorers: Besides Low-Gravity, There's Also Radiation
    The director of astrobiology at Columbia University saw something this week that he just had to respond to: Elon Musk "talking about sending 1 million people to Mars by 2050, using no less than three Starship launches per day (with a stash of 1,000 of these massive spacecraft on call)." Iwastheone shared this article from Scientific American: The martian radiation environment is a problem for human explorers that cannot be overstated... For reasons unclear to me, this tends to get pushed aside compared to other questions to do with Mars's atmosphere (akin to sitting 30km [18.6 miles] above Earth with no oxygen), temperatures, natural resources (water), nasty surface chemistry (perchlorates), and lower surface gravitational acceleration (1/3rd that on Earth). But we actually have rather good data on the radiation situation on Mars (and in transit to Mars) from the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) that has been riding along with the Curiosity rover since its launch from Earth. The bottom line is that the extremely thin atmosphere on Mars, and the absence of a strong global magnetic field, result in a complex and potent particle radiation environment. There are lower energy solar wind particles (like protons and helium nuclei) and much higher energy cosmic ray particles crashing into Mars all the time. The cosmic rays, for example, also generate substantial secondary radiation -- crunching into martian regolith to a depth of several meters before hitting an atomic nucleus in the soil and producing gamma-rays and neutron radation... [I]f we consider just the dose on Mars, the rate of exposure averaged over one Earth year is just over 20 times that of the maximum allowed for a Department of Energy radiation worker in the US (based off of annual exposure).... [Y]ou'd need to put a few meters of regolith above you, or live in some deep caves and lava tubes to dodge the worst of the radiation. And then there are risks not to do with cancer that we're only just beginning to learn about. Specifically, there is evidence that neurological function is particularly sensitive to radiation exposure, and there is the question of our essential microbiome and how it copes with long-term, persistent radiation damage. Finally, as Hassler et al. discuss, the "flavor" (for want of a better word) of the radiation environment on Mars is simply unlike that on Earth, not just measured by extremes but by its make up, comprising different components than on Earth's surface. To put all of this another way: in the worst case scenario (which may or may not be a realistic extrapolation) there's a chance you'd end up dead or stupid on Mars. Or both.

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  • Boeing's New 777X, the World's Largest Twin-Engine Jet, Completes Maiden Flight
    Today Boeing's new 777X aircraft completed its maiden flight, reports CNBC: The plane is the largest twin-engine jet ever built and has a wingspan so wide — more than 235 feet — it features folding wingtips that reduce that width by more than 20 feet so the plane can fit into various airport taxiways and gates. The 777X-9 is slightly longer than Boeing's most iconic plane: the hump-backed 747, which is fading away as airlines opt for twin-engine aircraft that require less fuel... The 777X, which lists for $422.2 million although airlines usually receive discounts, can fit up to 426 passengers in a two-class configuration. Boeing had 344 firm orders for the 777X at the end of the third quarter, according to a company filing, and Emirates is its biggest single customer. By allowing more passengers on a single flight, the plane's wide-body design achieves a smaller carbon footprint, Forbes reports. And an expected shortage of trained pilots might also help convince airlines to use the new plane. The decision may also be driven by future airport and airspace congestion. With passenger numbers expected to double over the next 20 years, it will be a real challenge for infrastructure to keep up. Fewer planes required to fly all those people would be an advantage... More planes flying requires more pilots trained to fly them and an over-reliance of narrow-bodies exacerbates the problem. The 777X can be flown by current generation 777-trained pilots, Boeing says. It's a claim that will no doubt undergo more serious scrutiny by regulators following the 737 MAX tragedies — as will the whole aircraft — but that may be in Boeing's favor, helping to restore confidence.

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