Tag Archives: Long

Visa: Back On Track For The Long Term
June 30, 2018 6:25 pm|Comments (0)

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Fire Forces Evacuation Of Famous Camp And Village As Wildfire Season Sets In For A Long Stay
June 3, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

A 30,000 acre wildfire is now burning through the Philmont Scout Ranch shown here outside Cimarron, New Mexico. Both Philmont and the village have been evacuated. The fire comes after one of the driest winters in memory for northern New Mexico. (AP Photo/Mike Dreyfuss)

We saw the first sign of the looming catastrophe that is now bearing down on a beloved small town nestled where the plains meet the Rockies months ago here in the nearby Sangre de Cristo mountains.

As of Sunday, Cimarron, New Mexico is a ghost town with mandatory evacuations in place thanks to the 30,000 acre wildfire sending plumes of choking smoke into skies that have been clear and blue for much of this spring so far. Ash falls on the deserted streets rather than the much-needed rain that might have prevented the wildfire, which sparked to life early Thursday in the forest to the west of town.

But really, we knew it would have taken biblical April and May showers to prevent this from happening. Instead, we’ve had weeks of winds. Nerve-wracking, moisture-sucking gusts whipping down the mountains and across the already crispy plains.

The signs conditions were ripe for an epic fire began to mount in January. The first avalanche safety training of the season, scheduled to take place near the roof of New Mexico at Taos Ski Valley was cancelled due to a severe lack of snow. As in almost none. There was little threat of even lackadaisical snowball  fights this winter, let alone avalanches.

Another month went by and few flurries flew, leading to the cancellation of the second training session.

By February, USDA SNOTEL snowpack reporting stations in the Sangres are typically measuring multiple feet of snow at various spots between 10,000 and 13,000 feet of elevation. This year, most of those stations were returning error messages by mid-February due to a dearth of anything to measure. Rather than piles of snow, only whisps of dry grass and parched pine trees surrounded the automated stations.

Now, as the summer season starts, the state of New Mexico consists of millions of acres of that same dry grass and wood. One of the driest winters in living memory has transformed the Land of Enchantment into a tinderbox. For weeks now we’ve simply been waiting for the spark we knew was inevitable.

Two weeks ago, rafting a popular section of the Rio Grande Gorge near Taos required a few hours to float just a few miles due to the river’s extremely low flow. A bathtub ring-like stain along the huge volcanic boulders lining the riverbed revealed the despairing disparity compared to last spring when nearly ten times as much water was flowing through the canyon.

Further downriver, the Rio Grande is already running dry south of Albuquerque. This is not nearly normal this early in the year.

So yea, we knew this was coming. It was just a question of exactly when and where.

But really, the signs this was coming have been etched on the wall for much longer. Not with words, necessarily, but instead with a more clear and succinct symbol: a hockey stick. Not a real hockey stick, and not really a symbol either, but a real representation of a very real reality. This is the hockey stick I’m talking about.

IPCC/Penn State

The famed “hockey stick” diagram showing the dramatic rise of global temperatures on average in recent years.

The hockey stick tells us the world is getting warmer. It tells us the southwest is getting drier. It has made climate cycles more erratic and extreme. So, this has been a long time coming. No. Actually, it’s been in process for a while now, but things are about to intensify again.

Maybe it’s not again. After all, the hockey stick blade has been growing ever longer in recent years; only the aim of its slapshot changes.

Now, we suppose, it is our turn to be the target. The signs have been visible here for months.

Today the Ute Park Fire is bearing down on Cimarron, home to heaps of Old West history, one of the world’s most famous haunted hotels and the Philmont Scout Camp where millions of memories have been made. Our heads are filled involuntarily with visions of tragedy burned into multiple California landscapes over the past 12 months.

Our distaste of population density like that seen on the coasts may save us from the epic amounts of damage seen in places like Santa Rosa last year, but it won’t be any less devastating.

Wildfire is no longer just a season here; it is a new way of life in the high desert. We are living not on the razor’s edge, but on the ever-lengthening blade of a hockey stick.

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At Uber, Troubling Signs Were Rampant Long Before a Fatal Self-Driving Crash
March 24, 2018 6:13 pm|Comments (0)

For more than a year prior to a fatal crash in Arizona, Uber’s self-driving cars failed more often, and more dramatically, than competitors’ autonomous vehicles. At the same time, Uber reduced some safety precautions, and was sometimes misleading in its description of its program and its failures. And regulators in Arizona, the locus of Uber’s testing, have taken little action to protect residents despite those worrying signals.

It is not yet clear whether Uber’s system was at fault or not in the latest crash, but Uber has now halted all testing of its autonomous vehicles, with no clear timeline for reactivation.

The New York Times reported yesterday that, in October of last year, Uber altered its testing program by putting only one safety monitor in each autonomous car rather than two, over the safety concerns of some employees. That move came despite evidence of deep problems with Uber’s autonomous vehicle efforts, dating back as far as December of 2016. That’s when Uber vehicles were seen running red lights in San Francisco. The company first blamed one of its human safety drivers, before it was uncovered in February that the problem was actually with the autonomous system itself.

Evidence quickly emerged that this was not a freak occurrence. In March of 2017, Recode obtained internal documents showing that human drivers had to take over from Uber’s system very frequently relative to the same numbers for other self-driving efforts. Then, the same month, a self-driving Uber flipped on its side in Arizona, though Tempe police found the Uber was not at fault.

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These public troubles seemed to reflect internal problems. The leadership of Uber’s self-driving car unit has frequently been described as troubled, with high levels of engineer attrition. Meanwhile, Google spinoff Waymo alleged in an explosive lawsuit that Uber had stolen technology from it by way of former Waymo executive Anthony Levandowski, who was fired from Uber in May of last year.

Finally, just a few days before this week’s fatal crash, an Uber vehicle in self-driving mode crashed into another vehicle in Pittsburgh. Fault in that crash had not been determined as of recent reporting.

San Francisco regulators put a quick stop to Uber’s testing there in the wake of the red-light incident. But even after sustained warning signs, Arizona officials took no such action, and reiterated this week that there were no plans to change the state’s hands-off regulatory approach.

Many observers believe that the future of Uber hinges on the success of its autonomous driving program. The company regularly posts quarterly losses with few historical parallels, even as regulators and critics argue with growing vehemence that the company is exploiting and underpaying its drivers.

Autonomous vehicles were intended to square that financial circle by taking driver pay out of the equation. The company, according to the Times, had planned to launch a self-driving car service in Arizona by December. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has canceled a planned April visit to Phoenix to check in on the program’s progress, though the company claims that change is unrelated to the crash. The company’s bigger plans could also now wind up delayed – including not only progress on the road to autonomous driving, but towards its hotly anticipated initial public offering.

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Prosecutors say Long Island woman tried to use bitcoin to aid Islamic State
December 15, 2017 12:43 am|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – A suburban New York hospital technician accused of using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to launder money meant for the militant group Islamic State was arrested on charges of money laundering in support of a foreign terrorist organization and bank fraud, prosecutors said Thursday.

Federal prosecutors in New York’s Suffolk County claimed in court papers that Zoobia Shahnaz, 27, used fraudulent credit cards and loans to accumulate $ 85,000, which she attempted to transfer to the radical group Islamic State before attempting to go to Syria to join it.

Prosecutors said that after traveling to Jordan to work with the Syrian American Medical Society, Shahnaz returned to the United States and applied for six credit cards, which she used to buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The resident of the hamlet of Brentwood in Islip on Long Island appeared before a federal judge late on Thursday and was ordered detained, prosecutors said.

Shahnaz’ lawyer, Steve Zissou, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.

After borrowing about $ 85,000 with fraudulently obtained credit cards and loans and withdrawing another $ 22,000 from bank accounts in her own name, Shahnaz sent funds to recipients in Pakistan, China and Turkey, prosecutors said.

Some of that money came in the form of $ 63,000 in bitcoin and other crypto-currencies purchased with the credit cards, prosecutors said.

Arraignment and detention documents released on Thursday showed that Shahnaz, a U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, was arrested on Wednesday.

Prosecutors said that in July Shahnaz obtained a Pakistani passport and booked a flight to Pakistan with a layover in Istanbul with the intention of going to Syria. She was stopped by law enforcement investigators at John F. Kennedy airport and questioned about her trip and the financial transactions, prosecutors said.

She had $ 9,500 in cash with her, just under the limit of $ 10,000 that a person can take out of the country without declaring it to immigration and customs officials, they said.

Subsequent searches of Shahnaz’ electronic devices showed numerous searches for Islamic State-related material, including travel checklists.

She faces three charges of money laundering, including money laundering in support of a foreign terrorist organization, and is also charged with bank fraud. She faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the money laundering charges and up to 30 years for the bank fraud charge.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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Sennheiser Takes the Long View When it Comes to Superior Sound
December 13, 2016 12:10 pm|Comments (0)

Sennheiser has been at the apogee of the audio business for decades. When I was growing up, a pair of Sennheiser headphones was the aspiration of any knowledgeable audiophile. I recently had a chance to sit down with brothers Andreas and Daniel Sennheiser. They are the company’s co-CEOs; their grandfather founded the company 72 years ago.


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Hands on with the iPhone 7: Apple has come a long way
September 7, 2016 11:55 pm|Comments (0)

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SAN FRANCISCO — I’m not gonna lie to you: the new iPhone 7, which Apple unveiled on Wednesday in San Francisco, feels exquisite and offers the faintest hint of nostalgia.

The highly-polished Jet Black exterior (there are other case options, like the matte Black), is eerily reminiscent of the very first iPhone case: black, incredibly shiny and smooth.

On the other hand, the phone, which I had just a bit of time with in the Apple Product demo room, is also thinner and cooler to the touch than that first, plastic-bodied device was. It’s also many light-years ahead of it on the technology front. Read more…

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The Long Search for Elusive Ripples in Spacetime
February 9, 2016 5:20 am|Comments (0)

The Long Search for Elusive Ripples in Spacetime

If Advanced LIGO still can’t find gravitational waves, something is wrong in astrophysics.

The post The Long Search for Elusive Ripples in Spacetime appeared first on WIRED.



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