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Display this news only Moons Can Have Their Own Moons and They Could Be Called Moonmoons
10/11/18English
Slashdot Two astronomers have asked a question for the ages: Can moons have moons? The delightful, if theoretical, answer is: Yes -- yes, they can. Sarah Laskow, writing for Atlas Obscura: As Gizmodo reports, this particular scientific inquiry began with a question from Juna Kollmeier's son. Kollemeier, who works at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, recruited Sean Raymond, of the University of Bordeaux, to help her answer the question. In a paper posted on arXiv [PDF], they lay out their case that moons can have moons. The conditions have to be right -- the primary moon has to be big enough and far away enough from the planet it's orbiting for the smaller, secondary moon to survive. But, even given these caveats, they found that moons in our very own solar system could theoretically have their own smaller moons. Two of Saturn's moons and one of Jupiter's are candidates. So is our favorite moon -- the Earth's moon.

[...] One of the great challenges of talking about recursive places is deciding what call them. The prefix "sub-" can do a lot of work here: We can islands within islands "subislands," and in the arXiv paper, Kollmeier and Raymond call a moon's moon a "submoon." But there are other options. New Scientist notes that "moonmoon" has been put forth as a name for a moon's moon. For those of us who are less than fluent in meme culture: This is a reference to Moon Moon, sometimes described as the internet's derpiest wolf. Moon Moon was born in 2013, from a werewolf name generator, and soon started frolicking across Tumblr and all other places memes can be found.


Display this news only Apache OpenOffice, the Schrodinger's Application: No One Knows If It's Dead or Alive, No One Really Wants To Look Inside
10/11/18English
Slashdot British IT news outlet The Register looks at the myriad of challenges Apache OpenOffice faces today. From the report: Last year Brett Porter, then chairman of the Apache Software Foundation, contemplated whether a proposed official blog post on the state of Apache OpenOffice (AOO) might discourage people from downloading the software due to lack of activity in the project. No such post from the software's developers surfaced. The languid pace of development at AOO, though, has been an issue since 2011 after Oracle (then patron of the project) got into a fork-fight with The Document Foundation, which created LibreOffice from the OpenOffice codebase, and asked developers backing the split to resign.

Back in 2015, Red Hat developer Christian Schaller called OpenOffice "all but dead." Assertions to that effect have continued since, alongside claims to the contrary. Almost a year ago, Jim Jagielski, a member of the Apache OpenOffice Project Management Committee, insisted things were going well and claimed there was renewed interest in the project. For all the concern about AOO, no issues have been raised recently before the Apache Foundation board to suggest ongoing difficulties. The project is due to provide an update this month, according to a spokesperson for the foundation.


Display this news only Hubble Telescope Hit By Mechanical Failure
10/08/18English
Slashdot The Hubble Space Telescope is operating with only essential functions after it lost one of the gyroscopes needed to point the spacecraft. From a report: The observatory, described as one of the most important scientific instruments ever created, was placed in "safe mode" over the weekend, while scientists try to fix the problem. Hubble had been operating with four of its six gyroscopes when one of them failed on Friday. The telescope was launched in 1990. After the gyro failure at the weekend, controllers tried to switch on a different one, but that was found to be malfunctioning. That leaves Hubble with only two fully functional gyros. At any given time, Hubble needs three of its gyroscopes to work for optimal efficiency.

Display this news only Microsoft Open Sources Parts of Minecraft's Java Code
10/07/18English
Slashdot Four years after Microsoft acquired Minecraft developer Mojang, the company has decided to open source some of Minecraft's Java code. According to Kotaku, Microsoft and Mojang released two parts of Minecraft's Java code in library form, so that "anyone can pick them up and use them in their own game," says Lead Engineer Nathan Adams. From the report: For now, there's just the two libraries: "Brigadier," a "command parser and dispatcher"; and "DataFixerUpper," designed for "incremental building, merging and optimization of data transformations ... [to convert] the game data for Minecraft: Java Edition between different versions of the game." While the news doesn't mean much for players, it will be a boon for interested programmers and developers, keen to see the guts of Minecraft. The plan is to open source more components in the future, though no time frame is specified. For now, if you want to check out Brigadier or DataFixerUpper, both can be found on Mojang's GitHub page.

Display this news only An Open Source Resistance Takes Shape as Tech Giants Race To Map the World
10/01/18English
Slashdot Shadma Shaikh, reporting for FactorDaily: Chetan Gowda, 27, was speaking to a room full of students in IIIT Hyderabad for a workshop on OpenStreetMap for beginners organized by Swecha, a non-profit organization to support free software movement last month. There were close to 40 students in the room. Beginners often ask him: Why use open source maps when we already have Google Maps? For Gowda, it was the fact that Google Maps is a global, commercial product and did not capture local detail. Like the old banyan tree that was a major landmark in his hometown Hassan or public benches just outside the town where pedestrians could stop to catch a break or fire catchment areas in Bellandur lake in Bengaluru, India.

"It was fascinating to add little but important details of my town to open maps," says Gowda who was introduced in 2013 to OSM or OpenStreetMap, a global community of mappers formed as a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world in 2004. Since then he has been an active contributor to OpenStreetMap and has conducted many workshops in colleges and institutes to induct more people in the community. Gowda has made 8500 edits in the OpenStreetMap, mainly covering areas in Bengaluru, Hassan and Hyderabad. Gowda and a few other contributors from India are part of a tiny yet growing resistance movement which doesn't want giant corporations to own all the mapping data. For the average consumer, this may not seem like a big deal. But mapping is big business.

The market opportunity for suppliers of mapping to the autonomous car industry is going to be worth over $24 billion by 2050, according to one estimate [PDF]. And that's just one industry. A study commissioned by Google in 2015 estimated that industries that run on top of the Global Positioning Satellite Systems and mapping generate nearly $73 billion in annual revenue. Worldwide, that industry is was estimated to generate $150- $270 billion in revenues. Although new research isn't available, with growing smartphone usage and the birth of companies such as Uber and many others it is safe to assume that the industry has only grown bigger. All the more reason why map data can't be held by only a few companies.
With Google Maps beginning to charge small and medium-sized businesses and indie developers more for access to its platform, many have started to explore and switch to open source alternatives of Maps, and commercial services such as Here Maps.

Further reading: What OpenStreetMap Can Be, and Ten Years of Google Maps, From Slashdot to Ground Truth.

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