Tesla Motors announced today it has completely repaid the $465 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy the company received in 2010. The funds were generated by Tesla through a recent sale of their stock, worth close to a billion dollars. The stock price had risen sharply after the company reported its first profitable quarter (and the stock still sits roughly 50% higher than before their earnings release). Today's payment of $451.8 million finished off both the loan's principal and its interest, nine years before the final payment was due. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said, 'I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate. I hope we did you proud.'
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psykocrime writes "The crazy kids at Fogbeam Labs have a new blog post positing that there is a trend towards advanced projects in NLP, Information Retrieval, Big Data and the Semantic Web moving to the Apache Software Foundation. Considering that Apache UIMA is a key component of IBM Watson, is it wrong to believe that the organization behind Hadoop, OpenNLP, Jena, Stanbol, Mahout and Lucene will ultimately be the home of a real 'Star Trek Computer'? Quoting: 'When we talk about how the Star Trek computer had “access to all the data in the known Universe”, what we really mean is that it had access to something like the Semantic Web and the Linked Data cloud. Jena provides a programmatic environment for RDF, RDFS and OWL, SPARQL and includes a rule-based inference engine. ... In addition to supporting the natural language interface with the system, OpenNLP is a powerful library for extracting meaning (semantics) from unstructured data - specifically textual data in an unstructured (or semi structured) format. An example of unstructured data would be the blog post, an article in the New York Times, or a Wikipedia article. OpenNLP combined with Jena and other technologies, allows “The computer” to “read” the Web, extracting meaningful data and saving valid assertions for later use.'" Speaking of the Star Trek computer, I'm continually disappointed that neither Siri nor Google Now can talk to me in Majel Barrett's voice.
An anonymous reader writes "Edwin Vargas, a detective with the New York City Police Department, was arrested on Tuesday for computer hacking crimes. According to the complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court, between March 2011 and October 2012, Vargas, an NYPD detective assigned to a precinct in the Bronx, hired an e-mail hacking service to obtain log-in credentials, such as the password and username, for certain e-mail accounts. In total, he purchased access to at least 43 personal e-mail accounts belonging to 30 different individuals, including at least 19 who are affiliated with the NYPD."
AndyKrish writes "A BBC story reports that scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University found Vitamin C kills drug resistant tuberculosis (abstract). Though results are preliminary — the lead investigator of the study said, 'We have only been able to demonstrate this in a test tube, and we don't know if it will work in humans and in animals' — this is an exciting development in the fight against drug-resistant TB."
Aguazul2 writes "The German software giant SAP has announced it plans to recruit hundreds of people with autism within the next few years. The project has already started in India and Ireland where a total of 11 people with autism are employed by the company. The program to take on software testers, programmers and data management workers will spread across Germany, Canada and the U.S. this year. People with autism have a neural development disorder that often undermines their ability to communicate and interact socially [...] but in the world of computers the tendencies they often display such as an obsession for detail and an ability to analyze long sets of data very accurately can translate into highly useful and marketable skills."
astroengine writes "The mother of all cosmic collisions has been spotted between two galaxies containing a total of 400 billion stars, igniting the birth of 2,000 new stars per year! This incredible event was first spotted by the recently-retired Herschel infrared space observatory (abstract), a mission managed by the European Space Agency. This violent discovery isn't just awesome to look at, it could also help explain how massive, red elliptical galaxies evolved in the early universe."
FuzzNugget writes "A contributor at ScienceBlogs.com has compiled and published a shockingly long list of systematic attacks on scientific research committed by the Canadian government since the conservatives came to power in 2006. This anti-scientific scourge includes muzzling scientists, shutting down research centers, industry deregulation and re-purposing the National Research Council to align with business interests instead of doing real science. It will be another two years before Canadians have the chance to go to the polls, but how much more damage will be done in the meantime?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "MariaDB is a fork of the MySQL source code, split off in the wake of concerns over what Oracle would do with MySQL licensing. In addition to its role as a 'drop-in replacement' for MySQL, MariaDB also includes some new features that (some claim) make it better than MySQL. Jeff Cogswell compares MySQL and MariaDB and suggests (in his opinion) that there's 'more than enough reason to ditch MySQL and switch over to MariaDB and stay there.' Why? While he breaks down MariaDB's new features and thinks many of them aren't that fantastic, and while MariaDB's performance isn't that much better than that of MySQL ('MariaDB's performance appears a bit better on multi-core machines, but I strongly suspect that one could tweak MySQL to match'), the questions over Oracle and MySQL licensing give him pause. 'MariaDB shows every indication that it will be around for quite awhile, while you can't really say the same of Oracle's MySQL,' he writes. 'Free-and-open MySQL competes with Oracle's proprietary and extremely competitive tools. That alone is grounds for concern — will Oracle do something to impede MySQL's development?'"
1sockchuck writes "Robotics are beginning to be integrated into data center management, creating the potential for a fully automated, robot-driven data center. What might a robot-controlled 'lights-out' data center look like? The racks will be taller, as robotics systems can reach higher to manage servers. Robotic equipment would be mounted on rails that allow them to find and move hardware. Early examples of this are seen in tape libraries, but the concepts could be applied to other data center equipment. Amazon and Google are said to be among those looking at ways to create a fully automated data center. AOL says it has already built an unmanned data center. Data Center Knowledge looks at the challenges and opportunities in robot-controlled data centers, including how staff roles would evolve."
DavidGilbert99 writes "Eric Schmidt hasn't changed his stance on Google's tax policies in the UK but has said that even if the tax legislation changes in the UK it will continue to invest in the country because 'we love the UK.' Gushing about its relationship with the UK, Schmidt said: 'Google will invest in the UK no matter what you guys do, because the UK is just too important for us. The citizens are too important for us and in our view we provide too much good.'" (Beware the auto-playing video advertisements). This after writing an Op-Ed lamenting the complexity of international taxes.
Via the H comes a report that the Simon Phipps, current President of the Open Source Initiative, thinks that the VP8 patent Cross-license agreeement Google brokered with the MPEG-LA is incompatible with the Open Source definition. The primary problems are that the license is not sub-licensable and only covers certain uses, leading to conflict with OSD clauses five, six, and seven. Phipps concludes: "As a consequence, I suggest the license is flawed when considered in relation to open source projects and is likely to be negatively received by many communities that value software freedom. Doubtless a case can be made that the patent license is optional, but I suspect the community issues may remain. Once again we're left with our fingers crossed. Google's making the right noises, but this draft agreement seems like a particularly unworkable approach for free and open source software. Its failure to allow sublicensing seems like a major flaw. Even if this doesn't result in a requirement for all end-users to sign the agreement, the discrepancies between this document and the OSD leave it disruptive to open source adoption of VP8."
beaverdownunder writes "I recently attended a 'hackathon' that was really just another pitching contest, and out of frustration am tempted to organize an event myself that is better suited to developers and far less entrepreneur-centric than some of the latest offerings. What I'd like to know from the /. community is, what would you like to see in a hackathon? What are some good hackathons you've attended that weren't just thinly-veiled pitch-development workshops? I have an idea around assigning attendees to quasi-random teams based on their skill sets, then giving them 48 hours to complete a serious coding / engineering challenge (probably in the not-for-profit space) — but maybe you've got some better ideas?"
First time accepted submitter fezzzz writes "Anonymous performed a data dump of hundreds of whistle blowers' private details in an attempt to show their unhappiness with the SAPS (South African Police Service) for the Marikana shooting. In so doing, the identities of nearly 16,000 South Africans who lodged a complaint with police on their website, provided tip-offs, or reported crimes are now publicly available." Reader krunster also submitted a slightly more in depth article on the breach.
gbrumfiel writes "Last week, Google and NASA announced a partnership to buy a new quantum computer from Canadian firm D-Wave Systems. But NPR news reports that many scientists are still questioning whether new machine really is quantum. Long-time critic and computer scientist Scott Aaronson has a long post detailing the current state of affairs. At issue is whether the 512 quantum bits at the processor's core are 'entangled' together. Measuring that entanglement directly destroys it, so D-Wave has had a hard time convincing skeptics. As with all things quantum mechanical, the devil is in the details. Still it may not matter: D-Wave's machine appears to be far faster at solving certain kinds of problems (PDF), regardless of how it works."
jrepin writes "The GNU Hurd is the GNU project's replacement for the Unix kernel. It is a collection of servers that run on the Mach microkernel to implement file systems, network protocols, file access control, and other features that are implemented by the Unix kernel or similar kernels (such as Linux). The Debian GNU/Hurd team announces the release of Debian GNU/Hurd 2013. This is a snapshot of Debian 'sid' at the time of the Debian 'wheezy' release (May 2013), so it is mostly based on the same sources. Debian GNU/Hurd is currently available for the i386 architecture with more than 10,000 software packages available (more than 75% of the Debian archive)."