Study suggests vapers are 1.3 times more likely to develop lung disease

As debate continues around how e-cigarettes should be legislated, vaping companies promote their products as less health-damaging than smoking regular cigarettes. However, a new three-year study from UC San Francisco shows that vaping is associated w…

Source: Engadget – Study suggests vapers are 1.3 times more likely to develop lung disease

More Small Tests Are Happening For Universal Basic Incomes

DevNull127 writes: A video report from NBC News profiles “Springboard to Opportunities,” an advocacy group for affordable housing residents that’s now also testing $1,000-a-month payments (privately-funded) for 20 women in Mississsippi chosen at random. One senior-living aid making $10.31 an hour says the grants represent “a little freedom”. She’s using the money to pay down debt — and to visit the father in Pennsylvania who she hasn’t seen in 20 years.

Meanwhile, CBS MoneyWatch checked in on one of the 14 people picked to receive $1,000 a month for an entire year in the “Freedom Dividend Pilot Program” of U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang. “Sure, there’s going to be outliers that take advantage of any situation,” says Chad Dzizek. “But most people are just trying to get by. Having extra money in hand would only help move that process along. And I don’t see myself slacking off anymore. If anything, I’m going to be more aggressive in tackling my goals because it’s that much more available.”

That article adds that Yang, a former tech entrepreneur, “sees this as a way to reduce poverty and income inequality, especially as computers increasingly replace people in the workplace.” Although the program has already run into at least one hitch.

Following the program’s announcement in September, the former chairman of the Federal Elections Commission told CBS News that the program appears to violate “personal use” campaign finance laws since the funds come from Yang’s campaign and not his own pocket. Others, however, have argued that the program could be classified as an advertisement for the campaign. The Yang campaign declined to comment.

Business Insider also has an update on the Basic Income plan of Michael Tubbs, the 28-year-old mayor of Stockton, California, where 125 people making less than $46,000 a year are now being given $500 a month. “In October, Stockton released the first set of data about how the program was faring. Most participants, initial results showed, were using their stipends to buy groceries and pay their bills.

“Tubbs told Business Insider that these preliminary findings gave him even more confidence that basic income would benefit his city — and could even serve as a national solution to income inequality… Stockton’s basic-income experiment is designed to last for 18 months, so there are still about eight to go. If the pilot is successful, Tubbs said, the city will consider expanding the program.”

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Source: Slashdot – More Small Tests Are Happening For Universal Basic Incomes

Senators ask credit agencies why they don't report FBI data requests

Tech companies have long disclosed the number of national security letters (NSLs) they get from authorities, but the credit reporting agencies that often dictate your financial future have been silent — and Congress wants answers. Senators Elizabet…

Source: Engadget – Senators ask credit agencies why they don’t report FBI data requests

Bank Employee Steals Cash, Then Posts Pics of It On Facebook and Instagram

“If you’re systematically stealing money from a bank vault, it may not be a good idea to post the evidence on your social media pages,” reports CNN:

A bank employee in Charlotte, North Carolina, allegedly stole $88,000 from the bank’s vault, according to a release from the United States Attorney’s Office Western District of North Carolina. And he wasn’t bashful about advertising to his social media followers the life of luxury he was funding…. Henderson’s numerous Facebook and Instagram photos depict him posing with stacks of cash, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office says he used the money to make a $20,000 down payment on a new Mercedes-Benz….

According to details from the indictment contained in the release, Henderson allegedly took bank customers’ cash deposits out of the bank vault for months. Many of those times, he deposited money into an ATM near the bank where he worked, according to the release. “I make it look easy but this shyt really a PROCESS,” he wrote in one Facebook post, part of a string in which he talked about building his “brand.” That post, showed him him holding a stack of money and smoking a cigarette.

Henderson is now facing up to 30 years in prison.

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Source: Slashdot – Bank Employee Steals Cash, Then Posts Pics of It On Facebook and Instagram

Feds Break Up Illegal Streaming Network That Dwarfs Netflix and Hulu Libraries

Two of the minds behind the nation’s largest pirate streaming services, iStreamItAll and Jetflicks, have pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement charges, federal officials said Friday. Now we all can rest easier knowing there are a few less bad actors getting one over on multi-billion-dollar giants like…

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Source: Gizmodo – Feds Break Up Illegal Streaming Network That Dwarfs Netflix and Hulu Libraries

'Red Dead Redemption 2' photo and story modes come to PS4

This weekend’s Red Dead Redemption 2 update isn’t just about running a moonshine business — it’s also about bringing more parity between PC and console players. PS4 players now have access to the Photo Mode and Story Mode features that premiered fi…

Source: Engadget – ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ photo and story modes come to PS4

Will Tesla's Rooftop Solar Panels Revolutionize the Power Industry?

Long-time Slashdot reader 140Mandak262Jamuna brings news of a triumph for a Tesla power project in South Australia: about 900 residential rooftop solar panels, coupled with storage batteries, “all linked up to central control, to form what they are calling a ‘Virtual Power Plant.'”

Nothing virtual about it, distributed power plant would have been a better name. That project, designed to link 50,000 homes and their solar panels, is just 2% complete. About 1000 homes. That 2% complete project had enough juice and control to step in, detect the frequency drop, increase power from the batteries and save the day.

But does this have implications for the future? “The opportunity for Virtual Power Plants to reach a large scale will benefit all energy users through added competition to deliver services at reducing prices,” says the executive general manager of emerging markets and services for the Australian Energy Market Operator (in the linked-to article above from Teslarati).

The original submission from 140Mandak262Jamuna argues this could be a game-changer for renewable energy:

This is unprecedented. The electric utilities have been government-sanctioned monopolies for over a century, protected from competition… The battery bank will stabilize the grid so well, there will be no surge pricing for peaker power plants…

At present the Return-on-Investment comparison between solar/wind storage versus gas turbine power plants include the surge pricing benefit in favor of the gas power plants. It will be gone.

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Source: Slashdot – Will Tesla’s Rooftop Solar Panels Revolutionize the Power Industry?

Raspberry Pi Foundation Sells Its 30,000,000th Raspberry Pi

McGruber writes: In a reply to a Twitter post, Raspberry Pi Foundation’s CEO Eben Upton announced that they have sold their thirty-millionth Raspberry Pi.

“We don’t get sales returns from our licensees until month end,” Upton acknowledged in a later tweet, but “at the end of November, we were at 29.8Mu, with a monthly run rate of 500-600ku…”

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Source: Slashdot – Raspberry Pi Foundation Sells Its 30,000,000th Raspberry Pi

TiVo's iPhone app finally streams shows using cellular data

Believe it or not, TiVo has required that iOS users stream recordings on WiFi for the past seven years. Yes, despite the rise of fast and (theoretically) unlimited mobile data, you couldn’t catch up on shows during your commute. Reason has prevaile…

Source: Engadget – TiVo’s iPhone app finally streams shows using cellular data

Building Your Own Open Source, Privacy-Protecting Voice Assistant With A Raspberry Pi

PC Magazine’s “tech nerd” Whitson Gordon writes that “Once you start using a smart speaker to set reminders, play the news, or turn the lights on, it’s hard to go back.”

But if you want the convenience of voice control without the data-collecting tech giant behind the scenes, an open-source project called Mycroft is a great alternative. And you can run it right on a Raspberry Pi.

Mycroft is a free, open-source voice assistant designed to run on Linux-based devices… Mycroft has been around for quite a few years, but it’s recently gained a bit more notoriety thanks to privacy concerns surrounding data collection at Amazon and Google. Unlike those assistants, Mycroft only collects data if you opt in during setup. And for the users who do opt in, Mycroft promises never to sell your data to advertisers or third parties — instead, it only uses it to help developers improve the product. Mycroft even uses the privacy-focused DuckDuckGo as its search engine instead of Google when you ask for information.

Mycroft makes its own smart speaker called the Mark I, though it’s currently sold out with a new Mark II (video here) on the way. However, since the project is open-source, you can install Mycroft on just about any Linux machine, including the Raspberry Pi (thanks to a pre-made build called Picroft). Using Mycroft on the Pi is free, but you can also subscribe to a $1.99-per-month plan to help support its development — you’ll even get a few goodies, like other voices that sound more lifelike than the default robotic voice.

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Source: Slashdot – Building Your Own Open Source, Privacy-Protecting Voice Assistant With A Raspberry Pi

Even J.J. Abrams Can't Get Disney to Release 'Unspecial' Versions of the Star Wars Movies

The white whale of any Star Wars fan—besides my dream Ahsoka Tano video game—is an unmodified release of the original Star Wars trilogy. Forget the special editions, forget the even-specialier editions. Many of us, from film buffs to preservationists to shameless, Prequel-hating nerds, want to see the films as they…

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Source: io9 – Even J.J. Abrams Can’t Get Disney to Release ‘Unspecial’ Versions of the Star Wars Movies

UN Climate Summit Continues Spinning Its Wheels Into the Weekend, and Protestors Aren't Having It

The UN’s climate summit in Madrid—dubbed COP25 in UN jargon—continued into the weekend as countries remained deadlocked on divisive environmental issues, chief of which is how to handle a part of the Paris Agreement known as Article 6 that’s focused on carbon markets. After overrunning its initial deadline Friday, the…

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Source: Gizmodo – UN Climate Summit Continues Spinning Its Wheels Into the Weekend, and Protestors Aren’t Having It

House panel asks Apple, Google if app makers must reveal foreign ties

The US is growing increasingly suspicious of foreign-made apps. House national security subcommittee chairman Rep. Stephen Lynch has sent letters to Apple and Google asking whether or not they require app developers to disclose “potential overseas a…

Source: Engadget – House panel asks Apple, Google if app makers must reveal foreign ties

America Considers Declassifying Military Information on US, Chinese, and Russian Space Programs

Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike quotes Defense News:

The U.S. Air Force’s top civilian and a key member of Congress agreed Saturday on the need to declassify a large amount of information about America’s military space programs to both intimidate foes and encourage support among the public. “Declassifying some of what is currently held in secure vaults would be a good idea,” Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett said during a panel at the Reagan National Defense Forum. “You would have to be careful about what we declassify, but there is much more classified than what needs to be.”

Fellow panelist Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., said he met with the secretary earlier in the week to discuss that very issue, calling the information on space programs “overwhelmingly classified.” For Rogers, that overclassification is one of the reasons it’s been so difficult for him and others to build support both in the public and with other members of Congress for a Space Force, a sixth branch of the military under the Air Force uniquely focused on space as a war-fighting domain…. “I don’t think that can happen until we see significant declassification of what we’re doing in space and what China and Russia are doing, and how space is in their day-to-day lives.”

Barrett also argued that America’s way of life “is more dependent on space than any other nation’s. And our capability in space was predominantly built at a time when we thought space was a benign environment.”

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Source: Slashdot – America Considers Declassifying Military Information on US, Chinese, and Russian Space Programs

Google Reveals Its Top Searches of the Year And, Yes, It's Mostly Memes

The Game of Thrones Starbucks cup debacle. Watching Notre Dame go up in flames. The moment the world fell in love with Baby Yoda. Going through Google’s top searches of the year feels like flipping through a scrapbook of the internet’s collective obsessions. Released this week, the company’s annual “Year in Search”…

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Source: Gizmodo – Google Reveals Its Top Searches of the Year And, Yes, It’s Mostly Memes

HBO Max Is Moving Forward With Another Try at Adapting Snow Crash

If you ask any random fan off the street how to get into cyberpunk or science fiction influenced by cyberpunk, there’s a solid chance they’re going to tell you to read Snow Crash. Neal Stephenson’s 1992 classic is a massively influential cyber dystopian work that prefigured a lot of what modern cyberpunk pastiche…

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Source: Gizmodo – HBO Max Is Moving Forward With Another Try at Adapting Snow Crash

Physicists Use Bubbling Quantum Vacuum To Hopscotch Heat Across Empty Space

Long-time Slashdot reader fahrbot-bot quotes Live Science:

When you touch a hot surface, you’re feeling movement. If you press your hand against a mug of tea, warmth spreads through your fingers. That’s the sensation of billions of atoms banging together. Tiny vibrations carry thermal energy from the water to the mug and then into your skin as one molecule knocks into the next, sending it careening into a third — and so on down the line.

Heat can also cross space as waves of radiation, but without radiation, it needs stuff to pass through — molecules to bang into other molecules. Vacuums have no ‘stuff’ in them, so they tend to trap heat. In Earth’s orbit, for example, one of the biggest engineering challenges is figuring out how to cool down a rocket ship.

But now, researchers have shown that, on microscopic scales, this isn’t really true. In a new paper published Dec. 11 in the journal Nature, physicists showed that little vibrations of heat can cross hundreds of nanometers of empty space. Their experiment exploited an uncanny feature of the quantum vacuum: It isn’t really empty at all.

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Source: Slashdot – Physicists Use Bubbling Quantum Vacuum To Hopscotch Heat Across Empty Space

'Fortnite' adds lightsabers following Star Wars event

If you wanted to attend Fortnite’s Star Wars event but missed out, you’re probably experiencing a twinge of regret right now. The event included an expected Rise of Skywalker clip and a virtual appearance by director J.J. Abrams, but it also gave p…

Source: Engadget – ‘Fortnite’ adds lightsabers following Star Wars event

Remembering Rene Auberjonois, 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' Actor

Last weekend saw the death of Rene Auberjonois at age 79,
writes Variety.

schwit1 quotes their report: Auberjonois was a prolific television actor, appearing as Paul Lewiston in 71 episodes of ‘Boston Legal’ and as Clayton Runnymede Endicott III in ABC’s long-running sitcom ‘Benson.’ He played Odo in ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,’ and carried that role into video games, voicing the same role in ‘Harbinger’ and ‘The Fallen.’ He appeared in the movie ‘MASH’ as Father Mulcahy in the first of several collaborations with Robert Altman. Other film credits include Roy Balgey in 1976’s ‘King Kong’ and Reverend Oliver in ‘The Patriot,’ as well as parts in ‘McCabe & Mrs. Miller,’ ‘Eyes of Laura Mars’ and ‘Walker.’

He also played the French chef in Disney’s The Little Mermaid — a role which Rene reenacted live at the end of this video where he discussed his friendship with William Shatner.

And this week ET shared footage of Rene thoughtfully reflecting after filming the last episode of Deep Space Nine.

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Source: Slashdot – Remembering Rene Auberjonois, ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ Actor