Mr D from 63 writes: Today, a new "cloud tax" takes effect in the city of Chicago, targeting online databases and streaming entertainment services. Residents who stream movies and music from companies like Netflix and Spotify will now need to pay an additional 9% tax. This also applies to Chicago businesses that pay to use databases online. Chicago expects to collect $12 million a year as a result of the new tax ruling. From the 24/7 Wall St. story: "Also worth noting is that the city’s tax ruling in both cases avoids the issue of whether there is a close-enough connection (nexus, in legalese) to require providers like Netflix or others to collect either tax. International law firm ReedSmith weighs in on this point as well: '[O]nce the Department begins to audit and assess customers located within the city, many of those customers are likely to demand that providers collect the tax going forward. As a result, many providers will likely feel the need to register to collect the taxes, despite lacking nexus, and despite having strong arguments against the Department’s expansive interpretation of its taxing ordinances.'"
StartsWithABang writes: When we talk about humans existing on worlds other than Earth, the first choice of a planet to do so on is usually Mars, a world that may have been extremely Earth-like for the first billion years of our Solar System or so. Perhaps, with enough ingenuity and resources, we could terraform it to be more like Earth is today. But the most Earth-like conditions in the Solar System don't occur on the surface of Mars, but rather in the high altitudes of Venus' atmosphere, some 50-65 km up. Despite its harsh conditions, this may be the best location for the first human colonies, for a myriad of good, scientific reasons. NASA proposed something similar last year and released a report on the subject.
An anonymous reader writes: As part of Asteroid Day a 360-degree video rendering the night sky with the population of near-earth asteroids included has been created by 'Astronogamer' Scott Manley. The video shows how the Earth flies through a cloud of asteroids on its journey around the sun, and yet we've only discovered about 1% of the near earth asteroid population.
New submitter Tokolosh writes: Both Cisco and OpenDNS announced today that the former is to acquire the latter. From the Cisco announcement: "To build on Cisco's advanced threat protection capabilities, we plan to continue to innovate a cloud delivered Security platform integrating OpenDNS' key capabilities to accelerate that work. Over time, we will look to unite our cloud-delivered solutions, enhancing Cisco's advanced threat protection capabilities across the full attack continuum—before, during and after an attack." With Cisco well-embedded with the US security apparatus (NSA, CIA, FBI, etc.) is it time to seek out alternatives to OpenDNS?
jfruh writes: For many, the idea of storing sensitive financial and other data in the cloud seems insane, especially considering the regulatory aspects that mandate how that data is protected. But more and more organizations are doing so as cloud providers start presenting offerings that fulfill regulatory needs — and people realize that information is more likely to be accidentally emailed out to the wrong address than hacked.
mikejuk writes: Amazon announced Echo, a wireless speaker with a built-in, voice-controlled, personal assistant called Alexa last year. Now it appears Alexa will no longer be tied exclusively to Echo. Amazon has announced that the Alexa Voice Service (AVS), the cloud-based service behind Echo, is being made available for free to third party hardware makers who want to integrate Alexa into their devices. To propel developers and hardware manufacturers interest in voice technology and their adoption of Alexa, Amazon has also announced a $100 Million Alexa Fund, open to anyone, startups to established brands, with an innovative idea for using voice technology.
An anonymous reader writes: VentureBeat notes that Google has begun testing an unannounced service to host and edit source code repositories as part of its cloud platform. It's called Cloud Source Repositories, and it's currently being beta-tested. "Google is taking a gradual approach with the new service: It can serve as a 'remote' for Git repositories sitting elsewhere on the Internet or locally. Still, over time the new tool could help Google become more of an all-in-one destination for building and deploying applications."
Mark Wilson writes: After a few weeks in preview, Microsoft Office is now available for Android smartphones. Despite Microsoft's mobile-first, cloud-first philosophy, it has actually taken some time to bring the world's most popular office suite to Android phones — it joins the tablet version of the suite that was released last year. Just like the tablet editions, the phone versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint won't cost you a penny, allowing for the viewing and editing of a range of files when on the move. There is a cloud focus with support for not only OneDrive, but also Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box, and Microsoft says it has made changes based on the feedback received during the preview period.
bromoseltzer writes: I use cloud storage to hold many gigs of personal files that I'd just as soon were not targets for casual data mining. (Google: I'm thinking of you.) I want to access them from Linux, Windows, and Android devices. I have been using encfs, which does the job for Linux fairly well (despite some well-known issues), but Windows and Android don't seem to have working clients. I really want to map a file system of encrypted files and encrypted names to a local unencrypted filesystem — the way encfs works. What solutions do Slashdot readers recommend? Ideal would be a competitive cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive that provides trustworthy encryption with suitable clients. Is there anything like that?
darthcamaro writes: The great schism in the container world is now at an end. Today, Docker and CoreOS, announced along with Amazon Web Services, Apcera, Cisco, EMC, Fujitsu, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, the Linux Foundation, Mesosphere, Microsoft, Pivotal, Rancher Labs, Red Hat and VMware the Open Container Project, as a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project. The new effort will focus specifically on libcontainer — providing a baseline for a container runtime. "By participating with Docker and all the other folks in the OCP, we're getting the best of all worlds," Alex Polvi, CEO of CoreOS told eWEEK. "We're getting the contributions from Docker with the format and runtime that underpin container usage, and then we're also getting the shared standard and vendor neutrality aspects that we've designed with app container."
An anonymous reader points out that a computer science research team from the University of Alabama has put together a new architecture called "Aura," which lets people make use of excess computing power from various smart devices scattered throughout their homes. Ragib Hasan, the team's leader, says this scheme could be integrated with smartphones, letting you offload CPU-intensive tasks to your home devices. He also anticipates the ability to sell off excess capacity — like how people with solar panels can sometimes sell the excess energy they harvest. Alternately, they could be allocated to a distributed computing project of the homeowner's choice, like Seti@home. Of course, several obstacles need to be solved before a system like Aura can be used — smart devices run on a variety of operating systems and often communicate only through a narrow set of protocols. Any unifying effort would also need careful thought about security and privacy matters.
An anonymous reader writes: Last week, The Guardian got its hands on documents indicating NASA would be working with Verizon to monitor civilian and commercial drones around the U.S. using phone network towers. Now, NASA has confirmed its plans for a drone traffic control system, saying that it wants to help "define" this new generation of aviation. They are testing ways of communicating with drones in flight, both for providing helpful information to drones and collecting information about them. For example, the ATC system could send real-time weather updates to the drones, and inform them of no-fly zones. It could also monitor a drone's battery life and compare its flight path to surrounding terrain. NASA has gathered over 100 organizations to contribute to this project, and they're looking for more. "One of the biggest challenges to integrating UAS into the national airspace beyond line of sight is developing a system that enables the aircraft to see and be seen by other aircraft." This is where the involvement of Verizon and other telecoms is important. NASA is holding a convention next month to develop the idea further.
An anonymous reader writes: Jaguar Land Rover is developing a system that identifies potholes and other obstructions in the road and shares them via the cloud with highway authorities, and, potentially, other drivers with access to the report network. The project's research director Dr. Mike Bell says that such a network could help autonomous vehicles avoid potholes without crossing lanes or endangering other drivers. The team is also working on a stereo-camera system capable of identifying possible obstructions in the road. Dr. Bell says "there is a huge opportunity to turn the information from these vehicle sensors into 'big data' and share it for the benefit of other road users. This could help prevent billions of pounds of vehicle damage and make road repairs more effective."
kooky45 writes: On July 14th 2015, Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 2003. If your company is anything like mine then they're in a panic to update Windowns 2003 systems that have been ignored for years. But what will happen to Windows 2003 systems still in use after the cut-off date? Company Security warns us that the world will end, but they said the same thing when Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP -- and yet we survived. Did you experience an increase in successful attacks against XP shortly after its support ended, or expect to see one against Windows 2003 this time round?
Patrick O'Neill writes: Citing significant sales hits taken by big American firms like Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, Salesforce, Qualcomm, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard, a new report says losses by U.S. tech companies as a result of NSA spying and Snowden's whistleblowing "will likely far exceed" $35 billion. Previously, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation put the estimate lower when it predicted the losses would be felt mostly in the cloud industry. The consequences are being felt more widely and deeply than previously thought, however, so the number keeps rising.
An anonymous reader writes with a report that Google yesterday announced at its I/O conference a photo-storage site known as Google Photos. Says the article: The new service is completely separate from Google+, something Google users have been requesting for eons. Google is declaring that Google Photos lets you backup and store "unlimited, high-quality photos and videos, for free." It's a bit creepy to see all the photos that Google still has on tap, including many that I've since deleted on my phone.
stowie writes: Rumors have been swirling for some time that GoPro was developing a drone. Well, now it's official. Speaking at the Code Conference, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman announced the company's plans to come out with a quadcopter in the first half of 2016. Woodman said "the quad is in some ways the ultimate GoPro accessory," adding that the company is testing software that will wirelessly sync up GoPro footage to the cloud. In a deal announced with Google, GoPro is also offering a virtual reality system using 16 cameras and Google software.
jones_supa writes: A huge batch of work-in-progress assets for Star Citizen have leaked to the public. An unknown person, likely connected with Cloud Imperium Games in some way, provided a link to the 48 gigabytes of content. The link has now been taken down, but as we know, it's hard to remove material from Internet after once put there. Being a CryEngine game, it has been suggested that it might be possible to view some of the assets using CryEngine development tools. Leaks are always quite the conundrum with the opportunities they present to curious fans and competitor companies, but can also be very depressing for the developers and publisher of the game.