Topic ask

NASA building robot-controlled drone traffic network

in ask on (#2SDW)
story imageWith Google and Amazon unveiling their new drones, NASA has called for private partners to join its ambitious plan to create a low-altitude air traffic network over the US – that will be run without human traffic controllers – within 10 years.
In a tender published on Wednesday, the agency’s Silicon Valley-based Ames Research Center encouraged “public, private, and academic organizations to collaborate with NASA to conduct Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) and UAS Traffic Management (UTM) research and development with the collective goal of safely enabling these operations at lower altitudes by UTM system.”

The studies will focus on mapping out corridors and no-fly areas (like airfields) creating a collision detection system, and programming an algorithm that will allow drones to safely fly in hazardous conditions such as rain, and strong wind, which is a particular danger for such light objects.

Monday poll: preference for science articles

in ask on (#2RYJ)
Hoping we'll do two short polls again this week. Here's the first one:

We're doing lots of articles focusing on computer science, hardware, gadgets, software, but there's room for growth in the sciences. But which ones?

This is a borda poll, so number the fields in your preference, where 1 is the scientific field you'd be most likely to click on, and 10 is the field you'd be least likely. We'll see which fields float to the top, and you'll likely see more articles from those fields in the future (unless you choose numerology, in which case I'm outta here). I've got 250+ feeds in my RSS reader now. Let's see whose articles are going to make it into the fabric of Pipedot!

The poll is on the right side of the home page. Happy clicking!

The experiment with feeding Soylent articles: your comments!

in ask on (#2QM4)
Well, unless you were holed up with Dick Cheney in the underground security bunker, you probably noticed Pipedot flipped the switch on a new feature that feeds articles from other sites. The idea is, as I understand it, anyone running Pipecode can eventually have a whole series of these feeds, and automatically populate their site with articles.

That led to a rash of new articles here, all of the Soylent comments, and a bit of anger over at Soylent despite NCommander having generously and magnanimously offered the feed of articles to Pipedot.

Nonetheless, this mirthful article suggestion poked up in the Pipe today:
Pipedot caught willfully plagiarizing Soylent News! As noted on and and in particular, , the majority of content being posted on is taken without permission from

Given that the copyright of comments on is not transferred from the people that posted them, this ongoing action constitutes wilful, mass copyright infringement.

You are hereby given notice on behalf of John Doe and Jane Doe * 4,000 under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1998, as amended, Section 512(c)(3)(A) that:- ...
Glad nerds haven't lost their sense of humor. So, what did you think of the feature? Your comments here about the feed, the pipe, and the future direction of Pipedot.

Monday poll: which tech news sites do you frequently visit?

in ask on (#24E4)
There's an awful lot of sites out there offering you the latest in science, technology, gadgets, distros, and more. It's impossible to list them all here, but here's a representative sample of the big guns (plus Usenet!). Tick off any that you visit on a somewhat regular basis, and list others that you enjoy. This will help the editors and submitters better monitor those sites for interesting stories worth posting and discussing here.

The poll is here.

New poll: where are you reading Pipedot?

in ask on (#3ZK)
Thought we'd do another, short poll in mid-week, and I was curious which time zones we're all in. I am noticing a lot of comments come at about the same time in the 24 hour cycle, and I'm wondering if a lot of us are clustered in the same time zone.

This is in no way intended to infringe on your privacy. You anonymous cowards are welcome to remain anonymous and keep me guessing. And so is everyone else! But it does help give a sense of how early you have to get up around here in order to post an article 'first thing in the morning.'

Cast your vote here.

Monday Poll: Which tech company's acquisition was the smartest?

in ask on (#3YQ)
There's been a rash of big companies buying small companies to fill out their portfolios, retain customers, provide new services, shift their focus, or for who-knows-what-reason. Apple's multi-billion dollar purchase of the Beats headphone company is the one that's made the biggest splash, but Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp has been both praised and denigrated.

Thinking value-for-money here, which purchase do you think was the best strategic move? Cast your ballot here.

Is Hold Security on the level?

in ask on (#3TM)
Hold Security: the security company responsible for the disclosure that some Russian hackers have collected 1.2 billion email/password combinations. When the news came out, Hold Security promised to check their database on an individual level rather than just publishing the passwords. They posted a form by which one could enter a name and email address, and told visitors to wait to hear from them.

Days later, emails were sent out that looked something like this:
Dear <Name you entered>,

This is a message from Hold Security regarding your recent Hold Identity enquiry.

We can confirm that your online credentials have been compromised. However, don’t panic just yet. It is possible that the compromised password(s) associated with this email address are not critical, for example, a password might be very old or assigned to you by default by a service provider.

If you would like to know which one of your passwords has been compromised, follow the link to our website and enter your ticket number, which can be found in the subject field of this email. You can submit up to 15 passwords that will be encrypted using a very secure algorithm and sent to us for running a comparison check in our database. Please note that if you try to send us your passwords unencrypted, we will not respond and disregard your enquiry completely.

Once we check our database, we will let you know which, if any, of your (encrypted) passwords have been breached.

Thank you for your interest in our Hold Identity service and taking the time to submit your enquiry.
The email link leads to a form which invites the user to enter up to 15 of their passwords, plus their ticket number, in complete violation of all IT training and quite possibly sanity itself. It may very well be that this is the only way that the database can be logically searched, however. (Though I'm intensely wary of anything that claims to do real encryption via Javascript.)

Yeah, Betteridge's law of headlines would say "No" to this - but Brian Krebs seems to think they're real. Anyone got any experience with these people?

Monday poll: what window manager or environments do you use in the course of a month?

in ask on (#3SZ)
This isn't a poll about your favorite environment. Because most of us use different machine or desktops/window managers in life, or like to switch from time to time, this poll asks you to list all the environments you use in an entire month. That includes your work machine, your laptop, the wife's Mac, and grandma's home Unix workstation. Whatever you come across in a month, tick the box! Expecting to see Windows at the top here, but let's see what else rises to the surface!

Monday poll: what's your next purchase?

in ask on (#3RZ)
The Monday poll asks: what's your next purchase going to be? Answer carefully, because the Corporate Advertising Consortium that secretly runs Pipedot will be paying attention and the next time you visit this site it will be plastered with banner ads for whatever you choose.

Oh wait, Pipedot is community-run and free of banner ads. In that case, have fun.

Monday poll: If you're looking for programming work in 5-10 years, you'd better learn:

in ask on (#3R9)
Our Monday poll is up, and it involves choice of programming languages in order to stay hire-able in a moving market.

Look 5-10 years into the future and give us the advice you'd give your son/daughter headed to an expensive university to learn computer programming. That doesn't mean: what language do you need to learn to get that job? It means: what languages (plural!) would not only facilitate employment but also provide a balanced understanding of systems and processes and even perhaps set the stage for learning and understanding other things? You might recommend Ruby for example, knowing full well that Ruby won't exist in 2019 but its likely successor will require a programmer to understand its origins in Ruby choices, for example.

This is an Approval Count poll, so you can - and should! - choose all or any of the languages you'd recommend. Obviously this list couldn't have been exhaustive, so if I've missed your favorite, add it into the comments.