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New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance On Biofuels - Fri Jan 30 13:19:34 2015

HughPickens.com writes The NYT reports on a new study from a prominent environmental think tank that concludes turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand. They add that continuing to pursue this strategy is likely to use up vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world's growing population. "I would say that many of the claims for biofuels have been dramatically exaggerated," says Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, a global research organization based in Washington that is publishing the report. "There are other, more effective routes to get to a low-carbon world." The report follows several years of rising concern among scientists about biofuel policies in the United States and Europe, and is the strongest call yet by the World Resources Institute, known for nonpartisan analysis of environmental issues, to urge governments to reconsider those policies.

Timothy D. Searchinger says recent science has challenged some of the assumptions underpinning many of the pro-biofuel policies that have often failed to consider the opportunity cost of using land to produce plants for biofuel. According to Searchinger, if forests or grasses were grown instead of biofuels, that would pull carbon dioxide out of the air, storing it in tree trunks and soils and offsetting emissions more effectively than biofuels would do. What is more, as costs for wind and solar power have plummeted over the past decade, and the new report points out that for a given amount of land, solar panels are at least 50 times more efficient than biofuels at capturing the energy of sunlight in a useful form. "It's true that our first-generation biofuels have not lived up to their promise," says Jason Hill said. "We've found they do not offer the environmental benefits they were purported to have, and they have a substantial negative impact on the food system."



The Gap Between What The Public Thinks And What Scientists Know - Fri Jan 30 10:39:28 2015

First time accepted submitter burtosis writes Despite similar views about the overall place of science in America, the general public and scientists often see science-related issues through a different lens, according to a new pair of surveys by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). From FiveThirtyEight: "The surveys found broad support for government to spend money on science, but that doesn't mean the public supports the conclusions that scientists draw. The biggest gap between scientists and the public came on issues that may elicit fear: the safety of genetically modified (or GMO) foods (37 percent of the public said GMOs were safe, compared to 88 percent of scientists) and the use of pesticides in agriculture (28 percent of the public said foods grown with pesticides were safe to eat, versus 68 percent of scientists). There was also disagreement over the cause of climate change (50 percent of the public said it is mostly due to human activity, compared to 87 percent of scientists). Here’s a full list, via Pew Research Center, of the scientific issues the survey asked about."


UK Broadcaster Sky To Launch Mobile Service - Fri Jan 30 08:03:01 2015

An anonymous reader sends word that the British pay-TV company, Sky, will launch mobile services next year UK pay-TV firm Sky is launching a mobile phone service next year in partnership with O2's Spanish parent Telefonica. Sky will use Telefonica UK's wireless network, enabling the satellite broadcaster to offer mobile voice and data services for the first time. It takes Sky into the battle for "quad play", adding mobile to its existing services of internet, landline and TV. Offering all four services is seen as the next big UK growth area for telecoms firms and broadcasters.


Microsoft Launches Outlook For Android and iOS - Fri Jan 30 06:38:06 2015

An anonymous reader writes Microsoft today launched Outlook for Android and iOS. The former is available (in preview) for download now on Google Play and the latter will arrive on Apple's App Store later today. The pitch is simple: Outlook will let you manage your work and personal email on your phone and tablet as efficiently as you do on your computer. The app also offers calendar features, attachment integration (with OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and iCloud), along with customizable swipes and actions so you can tailor it to how you specifically use email.


FDA Wants To Release Millions of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes In Florida - Fri Jan 30 05:34:07 2015

MikeChino writes In an attempt to curb outbreaks of two devastating tropical diseases in the Florida Keys, the FDA is proposing the release of millions of genetically modified mosquitoes into the area. Scientists have bred male mosquitoes with virus gene fragments, so when they mate with the females that bite and spread illness, their offspring will die. This can reduce the mosquito population dramatically, halting the spread of diseases like dengue fever.


Alibaba Face Off With Chinese Regulator Over Fake Products - Fri Jan 30 03:15:35 2015

hackingbear writes China's State Administration of Industry and Commerce on Wednesday issued a scathing report against one of the country's biggest stars, accusing e-commerce giant Alibaba of failing to do enough to prevent fake goods from being sold on its websites. SAIC said Alibaba allowed "illegal advertising" that misled consumers with false claims about low prices and other details. It claims some Alibaba employees took bribes and the company failed to deal effectively with fraud. Alibaba fired back with charges of bias and misconduct by accusing the SAIC official in charge of Internet monitoring, Liu Hongliang, of unspecified "procedural misconduct" and warned it will file a formal complaint. Such public defiance is almost unheard of in China. Apparently, Alibaba has long attained the too big to fail status.


Microsoft To Invest In Rogue Android Startup Cyanogen - Fri Jan 30 00:58:01 2015

An anonymous reader writes The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft plans to be a minority investor in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing for mobile startup Cyanogen Inc.. Neither company is commenting on the plan but last week during a talk in San Francisco, Cyanogen's CEO said the company's goal was to "take Android away from Google." According to Bloomberg: "The talks illustrate how Microsoft is trying to get its applications and services on rival operating systems, which has been a tenet of Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella. Microsoft has in the past complained that Google Inc., which manages Android, has blocked its programs from the operating system."


LibreOffice Gets a Streamlined Makeover With 4.4 Release - Fri Jan 30 00:14:41 2015

TechCurmudgeon sends word that LibreOffice 4.4 has been released. "The Document foundation announced availability of the latest version of LibreOffice on Thursday, which it says is the most beautiful version of the open source productivity suite yet. LibreOffice 4.4 also fixes some compatibility issues with files that are saved in Microsoft's OOXML formats. LibreOffice 4.4 has got a lot of UX and design love," Jan "Kendy" Holesovsky, who leads the design team for Libreoffice, said in a statement. LibreOffice 4.4 is currently available for Windows."


D-Link Routers Vulnerable To DNS Hijacking - Thu Jan 29 23:31:25 2015

An anonymous reader writes At least one and likely more D-Link routers as well as those of other manufacturers using the same firmware are vulnerable to remote changing of DNS settings and, effectively, traffic hijacking, a Bulgarian security researcher has discovered. Todor Donev, a member of the Ethical Hacker research team, says that the vulnerability is found in the ZynOS firmware of the device, D-Link's DSL-2740R ADSL modem/wireless router. The firmware in question is implemented in many networking equipment manufactured by D-Link, TP-Link Technologies and ZTE.


Spire Plans To Use Tiny Satellites For More Accurate Weather Forecasts - Thu Jan 29 23:08:48 2015

Zothecula writes Weather forecasting is a notoriously inexact science. According to San Francisco-based tech startup Spire, this is partially because there are currently less than 20 satellites responsible for gathering all of the world's weather data – what's more, some of the older ones are using outdated technology. Spire's solution? Establish a linked network of over 100 shoebox-sized CubeSats, that will use GPS technology to gather 100 times the amount of weather data than is currently possible. The first 20 of those satellites are scheduled to launch later this year.


FSF-Endorsed Libreboot X200 Laptop Comes With Intel's AMT Removed - Thu Jan 29 22:47:55 2015

gnujoshua (540710) writes "The Free Software Foundation has announced its endorsement of the Libreboot X200, a refurbished Lenovo ThinkPad X200 sold by Gluglug. The laptop ships with 100% free software and firmware, including the FSF's endorsed Trisquel GNU/Linux and Libreboot. One of the biggest challenges overcome in achieving FSF's Respects Your Freedom certification was the complete removal of Intel's ME and AMT firmware. The AMT is a controversial proprietary backdoor technology that allows remote access to a machine even when it is powered off. Quoting from the press release: "The ME and its extension, AMT, are serious security issues on modern Intel hardware and one of the main obstacles preventing most Intel based systems from being liberated by users. On most systems, it is extremely difficult to remove, and nearly impossible to replace. Libreboot X200 is the first system where it has actually been removed, permanently," said Gluglug Founder and CEO, Francis Rowe."


'Anonymized' Credit Card Data Not So Anonymous, MIT Study Shows - Thu Jan 29 22:23:43 2015

schwit1 writes Scientists showed they can identify you with more than 90 percent accuracy by looking at just four purchases, three if the price is included — and this is after companies "anonymized" the transaction records, saying they wiped away names and other personal details. The study out of MIT, published Thursday in the journal Science, examined three months of credit card records for 1.1 million people. "We are showing that the privacy we are told that we have isn't real," study co-author Alex "Sandy" Pentland of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in an email.


VP Anthony Moschella Shows Off Makerbot's Latest Printers and Materials (Video) - Thu Jan 29 21:41:26 2015

You may have read a few weeks ago about the new materials that MakerBot has introduced for its 3-D printers; earlier this month, I got a chance to see some of them in person, and have them explained by MakerBot VP of Product Anthony Moschella in a cramped demo closet — please excuse the lighting — at the company's booth at CES. Moschella had some things to say about materials, timelines, and what MakerBot is doing to try to salvage its open-source cred, despite being a very willing part of a corporate conspiracy to sell boxes of Martha Stewart-branded extruder filament — as well as a few unremarkable things that the company's ever-vigilant PR overseer decreed Moschella couldn't answer on the record for reasons like agreements between MakerBot parent Stratasys and their suppliers. The good news for owners of recent MakerBot models: they'll be upgradeable to use the new and interesting materials with a part swap, rather than a whole-machine swap (it takes a "smart extruder" rather than the current, dumber one). And the pretty good news for fans of open source, besides that the current generation of MakerBots are all Linux-based computers themselves, is that MakerBot's open API provides a broad path for 3-D makers to interact with the printers. (The bad news is that there's no move afoot to return the machines' guts to open source hardware, like the early generations of MakerBots, but STL files at least don't care whether you ship them to an FSF-approved printer to be made manifest.)


US Air Force Selects Boeing 747-8 To Replace Air Force One - Thu Jan 29 20:59:51 2015

Tyketto writes Following up on a previous story about its replacement, the US Air Force has selected the Boeing 747-8 to replace the aging Presidential fleet of two VC-25s, which are converted B747-200s. With the only other suitable aircraft being the Airbus A380, the USAF cited Boeing's 50-year history of building presidential aircraft as their reason to skip competition and opt directly for the aircraft, which due to dwindling sales and prospects, may be the last 747s to be produced.


Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access? - Thu Jan 29 19:55:29 2015

New submitter rsanford, apropos today's FCC announcement about what is officially consided "broadband" speed by that agency, asks In the early and middle 90's I recall spending countless hours on IRC 'Trout-slapping' people in #hottub and engaging in channel wars. The people from Europe were always complaining about how slow their internet was and there was no choice. This was odd to me, who at the time had 3 local ISPs to choose from, all offering the fastest modem connections at the time, while living in rural America 60 miles away from the nearest city with 1,000 or more people. Was that the reality back then? If so, what changed, and when?


Mozilla Dusts Off Old Servers, Lights Up Tor Relays - Thu Jan 29 19:14:29 2015

TechCurmudgeon writes According to The Register, "Mozilla has given the Tor network a capacity kick with the launch of 14 relays that will help distribute user traffic. Engineers working under the Foundation's Polaris Project inked in November pulled Mozilla's spare and decommissioned hardware out of the cupboard for dedicated use in the Tor network. It included a pair of Juniper EX4200 switches and three HP SL170zG6 (48GB ram, 2*Xeon L5640, 2*1Gbps NIC) servers, along with a dedicated existing IP transit provider (2 X 10Gbps). French Mozilla engineer Arzhel Younsi (@xionoxfr) said its network was designed to fall no lower than half of its network capacity in the event of maintenance or failure. The Polaris initiative was a effort of Mozilla, the Tor Project and the Centre for Democracy and Technology to help build more privacy controls into technology."


FCC Officially Approves Change In the Definition of Broadband - Thu Jan 29 18:32:08 2015

halfEvilTech writes As part of its 2015 Broadband Progress Report, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to change the definition of broadband by raising the minimum download speeds needed from 4Mbps to 25Mbps, and the minimum upload speed from 1Mbps to 3Mbps, which effectively triples the number of US households without broadband access. Currently, 6.3 percent of US households don't have access to broadband under the previous 4Mpbs/1Mbps threshold, while another 13.1 percent don't have access to broadband under the new 25Mbps downstream threshold.


Former NATO Nuclear Bunker Now an 'Airless' Unmanned Data Center - Thu Jan 29 17:38:50 2015

An anonymous reader writes A German company has converted a 1960s nuclear bunker 100 miles from network hub Frankfurt into a state-of-the-art underground data center with very few operators and very little oxygen. IT Vision Technology (ITVT) CEO Jochen Klipfel says: 'We developed a solution that reduces the oxygen content in the air, so that even matches go outIt took us two years'. ITVT have the European Air Force among its customers, so security is an even higher priority than in the average DC build; the refurbished bunker has walls 11 feet thick and the central complex is buried twenty feet under the earth.


Dell 2015 XPS 13: Smallest 13" Notebook With Broadwell-U, QHD+ Display Reviewed - Thu Jan 29 17:05:53 2015

MojoKid writes Dell's 2015 XPS 13 notebook made a splash out at CES this year with its near bezel-less 13-inch QHD+ (3200X1800) display and Intel's new 5th Gen Core series Broadwell-U processor. At 2.8 pounds, the 2015 XPS 13 isn't the absolute lightest 13-inch ultrabook book out there but it's lighter than a 13-inch MacBook Air and only a few ounces heavier than Lenovo's Core M-powered Yoga 3 Pro. The machine's Z dimensions are thin, at .33" up front to .6" at its back edge. However, its 11.98" width almost defies the laws of physics, squeezing a 13.3" (diagonal) display into an 11.98-inch frame making it what is essentially the smallest 13-inch ultrabook to hit the market yet. Performance-wise, this review shows its benchmarks numbers are strong and Intel's Broadwell-U seems to be an appreciable upgrade versus the previous generation architecture, along with lower power consumption.


Canada Upholds Net Neutrality Rules In Wireless TV Case - Thu Jan 29 16:18:01 2015

An anonymous reader writes Canada's telecom regulator has issued a major new decision with implications for net neutrality, ruling that Bell and Videotron violated the Telecommunications Act by granting their own wireless television services an undue preference by exempting them from data charges. Michael Geist examines the decision, noting that the Commission grounded the decision in net neutrality concerns, stating the Bell and Videotron services "may end up inhibiting the introduction and growth of other mobile TV services accessed over the Internet, which reduces innovation and consumer choice."


Proposed Disk Array With 99.999% Availablity For 4 Years, Sans Maintenance - Thu Jan 29 15:35:16 2015

Thorfinn.au writes with this paper from four researchers (Jehan-François Pâris, Ahmed Amer, Darrell D. E. Long, and Thomas Schwarz, S. J.), with an interesting approach to long-term, fault-tolerant storage: As the prices of magnetic storage continue to decrease, the cost of replacing failed disks becomes increasingly dominated by the cost of the service call itself. We propose to eliminate these calls by building disk arrays that contain enough spare disks to operate without any human intervention during their whole lifetime. To evaluate the feasibility of this approach, we have simulated the behaviour of two-dimensional disk arrays with N parity disks and N(N – 1)/2 data disks under realistic failure and repair assumptions. Our conclusion is that having N(N + 1)/2 spare disks is more than enough to achieve a 99.999 percent probability of not losing data over four years. We observe that the same objectives cannot be reached with RAID level 6 organizations and would require RAID stripes that could tolerate triple disk failures.


The Quantum Experiment That Simulates a Time Machine - Thu Jan 29 14:53:01 2015

KentuckyFC writes One of the extraordinary features of quantum mechanics is that one quantum system can simulate the behaviour of another that might otherwise be difficult to create. That's exactly what a group of physicists in Australia have done in creating a quantum system that simulates a quantum time machine. Back in the early 90s, physicists showed that a quantum particle could enter a region of spacetime that loops back on itself, known as a closed timelike curve, without creating grandfather-type paradoxes in which time travellers kill their grandfathers thereby ensuring they could never have existed to travel back in time in the first place. Nobody has ever built a quantum closed time-like curve but now they don't have to. The Australian team have simulated its behaviour by allowing two entangled photons to interfere with each other in a way that recreates the behaviour of a single photon interacting with an older version of itself. The results are in perfect agreement with predictions from the 1990s--there are no grandfather-type paradoxes. Interestingly, the results are entirely compatible with relativity, suggesting that this type of experiment might be an interesting way of reconciling it with quantum mechanics.


Georgia Institute of Technology Researchers Bridge the Airgap - Thu Jan 29 14:09:59 2015

An anonymous reader writes Hacked has a piece about Georgia Institute of Technology researchers keylogging from a distance using the electromagnetic radiation of CPUs. They can reportedly do this from up to 6 meters away. In this video, using two Ubuntu laptops, they demonstrate that keystrokes are easily interpreted with the software they have developed. In their white paper they talk about the need for more research in this area so that hardware and software manufacturers will be able to develop more secure devices. For now, Farraday cages don't seem as crazy as they used to, or do they?


Why ATM Bombs May Be Coming Soon To the United States - Thu Jan 29 13:17:56 2015

HughPickens.com writes Nick Summers has an interesting article at Bloomberg about the epidemic of 90 ATM bombings that has hit Britain since 2013. ATM machines are vulnerable because the strongbox inside an ATM has two essential holes: a small slot in front that spits out bills to customers and a big door in back through which employees load reams of cash in large cassettes. "Criminals have learned to see this simple enclosure as a physics problem," writes Summers. "Gas is pumped in, and when it's detonated, the weakest part—the large hinged door—is forced open. After an ATM blast, thieves force their way into the bank itself, where the now gaping rear of the cash machine is either exposed in the lobby or inside a trivially secured room. Set off with skill, the shock wave leaves the money neatly stacked, sometimes with a whiff of the distinctive acetylene odor of garlic." The rise in gas attacks has created a market opportunity for the companies that construct ATM components. Several manufacturers now make various anti-gas-attack modules: Some absorb shock waves, some detect gas and render it harmless, and some emit sound, fog, or dye to discourage thieves in the act.

As far as anyone knows, there has never been a gas attack on an American ATM. The leading theory points to the country's primitive ATM cards. Along with Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, and not many other countries, the U.S. doesn't require its plastic to contain an encryption chip, so stealing cards remains an effective, nonviolent way to get at the cash in an ATM. Encryption chip requirements are coming to the U.S. later this year, though. And given the gas raid's many advantages, it may be only a matter of time until the back of an American ATM comes rocketing off.



The Big Bang By Balloon - Thu Jan 29 10:36:31 2015

StartsWithABang writes If you want to map the entire sky — whether you're looking in the visible, ultraviolet, infrared or microwave, your best bet is to go to space. Only high above the Earth's atmosphere can you map out the entire sky, with your vision unobscured by anything terrestrial. But that costs millions of dollars for the launch alone! What if you've got new technology you want to test? What if you still want to defeat most of the atmosphere? (Which you need to do, for most wavelengths of light.) And what if you want to make observations on large angular scales, something by-and-large impossible from the ground in microwave wavelengths? You launch a balloon! The Spider telescope has just completed its data-taking operations, and is poised to take the next step — beyond Planck and BICEP2 — in understanding the polarization of the cosmic microwave background.


Drone Maker Enforces No-Fly Zone Over DC, Hijacking Malware Demonstrated - Thu Jan 29 08:19:25 2015

An anonymous reader writes A recent incident at the White House showed that small aerial vehicles (drones) present a specific security problem. Rahul Sasi, a security engineer at Citrix R&D, created MalDrone, the first backdoor malware for the AR drone ARM Linux system to target Parrot AR Drones, but says it can be modified to target others as well. The malware can be silently installed on a drone, and be used to control the drone remotely and to conduct remote surveillance. Meanwhile, the Chinese company that created the drone that crashed on the White House grounds has announced a software update for its "Phantom" series that will prohibit flight within 25 kilometers of the capital.


Brain Implants Get Brainier - Thu Jan 29 05:41:23 2015

the_newsbeagle writes "Did my head just beep?" wonders a woman who just received a brain implant to treat her intractable epilepsy. We're entering a cyborg age of medicine, with implanted stimulators that send pulses of electricity into the brain or nervous system to prevent seizures or block pain. The first generation of devices sent out pulses in a constant and invariable rhythm, but device-makers are now inventing smart stimulators that monitor the body for signs of trouble and fire when necessary.


One-in-five Developers Now Works On IoT Projects - Thu Jan 29 03:12:01 2015

dcblogs writes Evans Data Corp., which provides research and intelligence for the software development industry, said that of the estimated 19 million developers worldwide, 19% are now doing IoT-related work. A year ago, the first year IoT-specific data was collected, that figure was 17%. But when developers were asked whether they plan to work in IoT development over the next year, 44% of the respondents said they are planning to do so, said Michael Rasalan, director of research at Evans.


Spider Spins Electrically Charged Silk - Thu Jan 29 01:25:38 2015

sciencehabit writes In their quest to make ultrastrong yet ultrasmall fibers, the polymer industry may soon take a lesson from Uloborus spiders. Uloborids are cribellate spiders, meaning that instead of spinning wet, sticky webs to catch their prey, they produce a fluffy, charged, wool-like silk. A paper published online today in Biology Letters details the process for the first time. It all starts with the silk-producing cribellar gland. In contrast with other spiders, whose silk comes out of the gland intact, scientists were surprised to discover that uloborids' silk is in a liquid state when it surfaces. As the spider yanks the silk from the duct, it solidifies into nanoscale filaments. This "violent hackling" has the effect of stretching and freezing the fibers into shape. It may even be responsible for increasing their strength, because filaments on the nanoscale become stronger as they are stretched. In order to endow the fibers with an electrostatic charge, the spider pulls them over a comblike plate located on its hind legs. The technique is not unlike the so-called hackling of flax stems over a metal brush in order to soften and prepare them for thread-spinning, but in the spider's case it also gives them a charge. The electrostatic fibers are thought to attract prey to the web in the same way a towel pulled from the dryer is able to attract stray socks.


Amazon Takes On Microsoft, Google With WorkMail For Businesses - Thu Jan 29 00:37:02 2015

alphadogg writes Amazon Web Services today launched a new product to its expansive service catalog in the cloud: WorkMail is a hosted email platform for enterprises that could wind up as a replacement for Microsoft and Google messaging systems. The service is expected to cost $4 per user per month for a 50GB email inbox. It's integrated with many of AWS's other cloud services too, including its Zocalo file synchronization and sharing platform. The combination will allow IT shops to set up a hosted email platform and link it to a file sharing system.


Snowden Documents: CSE Tracks Millions of Downloads Daily - Wed Jan 28 23:53:01 2015

Advocatus Diaboli writes Canada's electronic spy agency sifts through millions of videos and documents downloaded online every day by people around the world, as part of a sweeping bid to find extremist plots and suspects, CBC News has learned. Details of the Communications Security Establishment project dubbed 'Levitation' are revealed in a document obtained by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and recently released to CBC News. Under Levitation, analysts with the electronic eavesdropping service can access information on about 10 to 15 million uploads and downloads of files from free websites each day, the document says.


Scientists Discover How To Track Natural Errors In DNA Replication - Wed Jan 28 23:10:38 2015

BarbaraHudson writes Researchers figured out how to label and keep track of new pieces of DNA, and learned to follow the enzyme responsible for copying those pieces. Their research focused on enzymes called polymerases. These enzymes create small regions in DNA that act as scaffolds for the copied DNA. Scientists assumed that the body deletes the scaffolds containing errors, or mutations, and the standard computer models supported this theory. However, the actual research showed that about 1.5 percent of those erroneous scaffolds are left over, trapped within the DNA. After running models, scientists now believe they can track how DNA replicates and find the most likely areas where these scaffolds with errors turn up. The erroneous scaffolds usually appear close to genetic switches, those regions that turn on when genes activate. The mutations damage the switch, which results in genetic disease, as well as increasing the likelihood of cancer.


Adobe's Latest Zero-Day Exploit Repurposed, Targeting Adult Websites - Wed Jan 28 22:28:01 2015

MojoKid writes Adobe issued a patch for bug CVE-2015-0311, one that exposes a user's browser to become vulnerable to code injection, and the now infamous Angler EK (Exploit Kit). To fall victim to this kind of attack, all someone needs to do is visit a website with compromised Flash files, at which point the attacker can inject code and utilize Angler EK, which has proven to be an extremely popular tool over the past year. This particular version of Angler EK is different, however. For starters, it makes use of obfuscated JavaScript and attempts to detect virtual machines and anti-virus products. Its target audience is also rather specific: porn watchers. According to FireEye, which has researched the CVE-2015-0311 vulnerability extensively, this exploit has reached people via banner ads on popular adult websites. It was also noted that even a top 1000 website was affected, so it's not as though victims are surfing to the murkiest depths of the web to come in contact with it.


Scientists 3D-Printing Cartilage For Medical Implants - Wed Jan 28 21:42:29 2015

Molly McHugh writes Scientists and physicians at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have discovered a way to use MakerBot's 3D-printing technologies to create cartilage and repair tissue damage in the trachea. From the article: "Researchers found that it’s possible to use the MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer to print what’s called 'scaffolding,' made up of PLA, a bioplastic commonly used in in surgical implant devices. The team customized the printer so that living cells could be printed onto the scaffolding. The 3D-printed mixture of healthy cells found in cartilage, and collagen, eventually grew into the shape of a trachea that could be implanted into a patient."


Anonymous No More: Your Coding Style Can Give You Away - Wed Jan 28 20:58:01 2015

itwbennett writes Researchers from Drexel University, the University of Maryland, the University of Goettingen, and Princeton have developed a "code stylometry" that uses natural language processing and machine learning to determine the authors of source code based on coding style. To test how well their code stylometry works, the researchers gathered publicly available data from Google's Code Jam, an annual programming competition that attracts a wide range of programmers, from students to professionals to hobbyists. Looking at data from 250 coders over multiple years, averaging 630 lines of code per author their code stylometry achieved 95% accuracy in identifying the author of anonymous code. Using a dataset with fewer programmers (30) but more lines of code per person (1,900), the identification accuracy rate reached 97%.


Book Review: Designing and Building a Security Operations Center - Wed Jan 28 20:14:15 2015

benrothke writes Many organizations are overwhelmed by the onslaught of security data from disparate systems, platforms and applications. They have numerous point solutions (anti-virus, firewalls, IDS/IPS, ERP, access control, IdM, single sign-on, etc.) that can create millions of daily log messages. In addition to directed attacks becoming more frequent and sophisticated, there are regulatory compliance issues that place increasing burden on security, systems and network administrators. This creates a large amount of information and log data without a formal mechanism to deal with it. This has led to many organizations creating a security operations center (SOC). A SOC in its most basic form is the centralized team that deals with information security incidents and related issues. In Designing and Building a Security Operations Center, author David Nathans provides the basics on how that can be done. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review


The American App Economy Is Now "Bigger Than Hollywood" - Wed Jan 28 19:31:35 2015

Lemeowski writes Technology business analyst Horace Deidu found an interesting nugget while closely examining an Apple press release from earlier this year: "The iOS App Store distributed $10 billion to developers in 2014, which, Deidu points out, is just about as much as Hollywood earned off U.S. box office revenues the same year." That means the American app industry is poised to eclipse the American film industry. Additionally, Apple says its App Store has created 627,000 jobs, which Deidu contrasts with the 374,000 jobs Hollywood creates


Nobel Laureate and Laser Inventor Charles Townes Passes - Wed Jan 28 19:00:08 2015

An anonymous reader writes Charles Hard Townes, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for invention of the laser and subsequently pioneered the use of lasers in astronomy, died early Tuesday in Oakland. He was 99. "Charlie was a cornerstone of the Space Sciences Laboratory for almost 50 years,” said Stuart Bale, director of the lab and a UC Berkeley professor of physics. “He trained a great number of excellent students in experimental astrophysics and pioneered a program to develop interferometry at short wavelengths. He was a truly inspiring man and a nice guy. We’ll miss him.”


Graphene: Reversible Method of Magnetic Doping Paves Way For Semiconductor Use - Wed Jan 28 18:18:04 2015

concertina226 writes: A team of physicists at University of California, Riverside have discovered how to induce magnetism in graphene in a way that still preserves the material's electronic properties, which paves the way for graphene to be used as a semiconductor.

The researchers grew a sheet of yttrium iron garnet using laser molecular beam epitaxy in a laboratory (abstract). Magnetic substances like iron are known to disrupt graphene's electrical conduction properties, but yttrium iron garnet works well as it is an electric insulator.

When a graphene sheet was placed on top of an atomically smooth sheet of yttrium iron garnet, the graphene borrowed the magnetic properties from the yttrium iron garnet and became magnetized without the need for doping.



New Micro-Ring Resonator Creates Quantum Entanglement On a Silicon Chip - Wed Jan 28 17:35:33 2015

Zothecula writes: The quantum entanglement of particles, such as photons, is a prerequisite for the new and future technologies of quantum computing, telecommunications, and cyber security. Real-world applications that take advantage of this technology, however, will not be fully realized until devices that produce such quantum states leave the realms of the laboratory and are made both small and energy efficient enough to be embedded in electronic equipment. In this vein, European scientists (abstract) have created and installed a tiny "ring-resonator" on a microchip that is claimed to produce copious numbers of entangled photons while using very little power to do so.


Why Screen Lockers On X11 Cannot Be Secure - Wed Jan 28 16:53:01 2015

jones_supa writes: One thing we all remember from Windows NT is the security feature requiring the user to press CTRL-ALT-DEL to unlock the workstation (this can still be enabled with a policy setting). The motivation was to make it impossible for other programs to mimic a lock screen, as they couldn't react to the special key combination. Martin Gräßlin from the KDE team takes a look at the lock screen security on X11. On a protocol level, X11 doesn't know anything of screen lockers. Also the X server doesn't know that the screen is locked as it doesn't understand the concept. This means the screen locker can only use the core functionality available to emulate screen locking. That in turn also means that any other client can do the same and prevent the screen locker from working (for example opening a context menu on any window prevents the screen locker from activating). That's quite a bummer: any process connected to the X server can block the screen locker, and even more it could fake your screen locker.


Justice Department: Default Encryption Has Created a 'Zone of Lawlessness' - Wed Jan 28 16:10:44 2015

Jason Koebler writes: Leslie Caldwell, an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, said Tuesday that the department is "very concerned" by the Google's and Apple's decision to automatically encrypt all data on Android and iOS devices.

"We understand the value of encryption and the importance of security," she said. "But we're very concerned they not lead to the creation of what I would call a 'zone of lawlessness,' where there's evidence that we could have lawful access through a court order that we're prohibited from getting because of a company's technological choices.



We May Have Jupiter To Thank For the Nitrogen In Earth's Atmosphere - Wed Jan 28 15:56:54 2015

An anonymous reader writes: Nitrogen makes up about 78% of the Earth's atmosphere. It's also the 4th most abundant element in the human body. But where did all the nitrogen on Earth come from? Scientists aren't sure, but they have a new theory. Back when the solar system was just a protoplanetary disk, the ice orbiting the early Sun included ammonia, which has a nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms. But there needed to be a way for the nitrogen to get to the developing Earth. That's where Jupiter comes in. During its theorized Grand Tack, where it plunged into the inner solar system and then retreated outward again, it created shock waves in the dust and ice cloud surrounding the sun. These shock waves caused gentle heating of the ammonia ice, which allowed it to melt and react with chromium-bearing metal to form a mineral called carlsbergite. New research (abstract) suggests this mineral was then present when the Earth's accretion happened, supplying much of the nitrogen we would eventually need for life.


The iPad Is 5 Years Old This Week, But You Still Don't Need One - Wed Jan 28 15:34:15 2015

HughPickens.com writes: Five years ago, Steve Jobs introduced the iPad and insisted that it would do many things better than either a laptop or a smartphone. Will Oremus writes at Future Tense that by most standards, the iPad has been a success, and the tablet has indeed emerged as a third category of computing device. But there's another way of looking at the iPad. According to Oremus, Jobs was right to leave out the productivity features and go big on the simple tactile pleasure of holding the Internet in your hands.

But for all its popularity and appeal, the iPad never has quite cleared the bar Jobs set for it, which was to be "far better" at some key tasks than a laptop or a smartphone. The iPad may have been "far better" when it was first released, but smartphones have come a long way. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and their Android equivalents are now convenient enough for most mobile computing tasks that there's no need to carry around a tablet as well. That helps explain why iPad sales have plateaued, rather than continuing to ascend to the stratospheric levels of the iPhone. "The iPad remains an impressive machine. But it also remains a luxury item rather than a necessity," concludes Oremus. "Again, by most standards, it is a major success. Just not by the high standards that Jobs himself set for it five years ago."



Facebook Censoring Images of the Prophet Muhammad In Turkey - Wed Jan 28 14:50:11 2015

An anonymous reader writes: Immediately following the Charlie Hebdo attack, Mark Zuckerberg said, "... this is what we all need to reject — a group of extremists trying to silence the voices and opinions of everyone else around the world. I won't let that happen on Facebook. I'm committed to building a service where you can speak freely without fear of violence." Now, Facebook has begun censoring images of the prophet Muhammad in Turkey. According to the Washington post, "It's an illustration, perhaps, of how extremely complicated and nuanced issues of online speech really are. It's also conclusive proof of what many tech critics said of Zuckerberg's free-speech declaration at the time: Sweeping promises are all well and good, but Facebook's record doesn't entirely back it up." To be fair to Zuckerberg and Facebook, the company must obey the law of any country in which it operates. But it stands in stark contrast to the principles espoused by its founder.


Security-Focused BlackPhone Was Vulnerable To Simple Text Message Bug - Wed Jan 28 14:07:47 2015

mask.of.sanity sends this report from El Reg: The maker of BlackPhone – a mobile marketed as offering unusually high levels of security – has patched a critical vulnerability that allows hackers to run malicious code on the handsets. Attackers need little more than a phone number to send a message that can compromise the devices via the Silent Text application.

The impact of the flaw is troubling because BlackPhone attracts what hackers see as high-value victims: those willing to invest AU$765 (£415, $630) in a phone that claims to put security above form and features may well have valuable calls and texts to hide from eavesdroppers.



Comcast Pays Overdue Fees, Offers Freebies For TWC Merger Approval - Wed Jan 28 13:25:15 2015

WheezyJoe writes: In seeking more support for its mega-merger with Time-Warner Cable, Comcast has been going across the country giving local governments a chance to ask for favors in exchange for approving a franchise transfer. In Minneapolis, this turned up an unpaid bill of $40,000 in overdue franchise fees, so Comcast will have to pay the city money it already owed in order to get the franchise transfer. Comcast will also throw in $50,000 worth of free service and equipment.

"Thirty Minneapolis city buildings will get free basic cable for the next seven years as part of a package of concessions (PDF) the city wrung out of Comcast in exchange for blessing its proposed merger with fellow cable giant Time Warner," Minnesota Public Radio reported. The article notes that getting any kind of refund out of a cable company is not easy.

Part of the deal with Minneapolis involves the spinoff of a new cable company called GreatLand Connections that will serve 2.5 million customers in the Midwest and Southeast, including Minnesota. After the deal, Comcast's franchises in those areas would be transferred to GreatLand. Such goodwill concessions may seem impressive as Comcast seeks to foster goodwill, but one wonders how Comcast/Time Warner will behave after the merger.



How One Small Company Blocked 15.1 Million Robocalls Last Year - Wed Jan 28 12:53:01 2015

TechCurmudgeon sends this excerpt from an article at Wired: Aaron Foss won a $25,000 cash prize from the Federal Trade Commission for figuring out how eliminate all those annoying robocalls that dial into your phone from a world of sleazy marketers. ... Using a little telephone hackery, Foss found a way of blocking spammers while still allowing the emergency alert service and other legitimate entities to call in bulk. Basically, he re-routed all calls through a service that would check them against a whitelist of legitimate operations and a blacklist of spammers, and this little trick was so effective, he soon parlayed it into a modest business. Last year, his service, called Nomorobo, blocked 15.1 million robocalls.


How One Small Company Blocked 15.1 Million Robocalls Last Year - Wed Jan 28 10:13:01 2015

TechCurmudgeon sends this excerpt from an article at Wired: Aaron Foss won a $25,000 cash prize from the Federal Trade Commission for figuring out how eliminate all those annoying robocalls that dial into your phone from a world of sleazy marketers. ... Using a little telephone hackery, Foss found a way of blocking spammers while still allowing the emergency alert service and other legitimate entities to call in bulk. Basically, he re-routed all calls through a service that would check them against a whitelist of legitimate operations and a blacklist of spammers, and this little trick was so effective, he soon parlayed it into a modest business. Last year, his service, called Nomorobo, blocked 15.1 million robocalls .


Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever - Wed Jan 28 08:48:01 2015

jmcbain writes: Yesterday, Apple reported its financial results for the quarter ending December 27, 2014. The company posted $18 billion in profit (on $74 billion in revenue), the largest quarterly profit by any company, ever. The previous record was $16 billion by Russia's Gazprom (the largest natural gas extractor in the world) in 2011. Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones last quarter, along with 5.5 million Macs and 21.4 million iPads.


Embedded Linux Conference Headlined By Drones - Wed Jan 28 07:21:13 2015

DeviceGuru writes: The Linux Foundation has released the full agenda for its annual North American Embedded Linux Conference + Android Builders Summit, which takes place Mar. 23-25 in San Jose, Calif. The ELC, which this year is titled Drones, Things, and Automobiles, increasingly reflects new opportunities for Linux in areas such as drones, robots, automotive computers, IoT gizmos, 3D sensing, modular phones, and much more. For those worried that ELC is skimping on the basics as it explores the more colorful sides of Linux, worry not, as there are still plenty of sessions on booting, trace analysis, NAND support, PHY frameworks, power management, defragmenting, systemd, device tree, and toolchain.


Computer Chess Created In 487 Bytes, Breaks 32-Year-Old Record - Wed Jan 28 06:18:07 2015

An anonymous reader writes: The record for smallest computer implementation of chess on any platform was held by 1K ZX Chess, which saw a release back in 1983 for the Sinclair ZX81. It uses just 672 bytes of memory, and includes most chess rules as well as a computer component to play against. The 32-year-old record has been beaten this week by the demoscene group Red Sector Inc. They have implemented a fully-playable version of chess called BootChess in just 487 bytes (readme file including source code).


FCC Prohibits Blocking of Personal Wi-Fi Hotspots - Wed Jan 28 05:13:18 2015

alphadogg writes: The FCC on Tuesday warned that it will no longer tolerate hotels, convention centers or others intentionally interfering with personal Wi-Fi hotspots. This issue grabbed headlines last fall when Marriott International was fined $600,000 for blocking customer Wi-Fi hotspots, presumably to encourage the guests to pay for pricey Internet access from the hotel.


Latest Windows 10 Preview Build Brings Slew of Enhancements - Wed Jan 28 04:09:37 2015

Deathspawner writes: Following its huge Windows 10 event last Wednesday, Microsoft released a brand-new preview build to the public, versioned 9926. We were told that it'd give us Cortana, Microsoft's AI assistant, as well as a revamped Start menu and updated notifications pane. But as it turns out, that's not even close to summing up all that's new with this build. In fact, 9926 is easily the most substantial update rolled out so far in the beta program, with some UI elements and integral Windows features seeing their first overhaul in multiple generations.


Engineers Develop 'Ultrarope' For World's Highest Elevator - Wed Jan 28 03:15:28 2015

HughPickens.com writes: Halfway up the Shard, London's tallest skyscraper, you are asked to step out of the elevator at the transfer floor, or "sky lobby," a necessary inconvenience in order to reach the upper half of the building, and a symptom of the limits of elevators today. To ascend a mile-high (1.6km) tower using the same technology could necessitate changing elevators as many as 10 times. Elevators traveling distances of more than 500m [1,640 ft] have not been feasible because the weight of the steel cables themselves becomes so great. Now, after nine years of rigorous testing, Kone has released Ultrarope — a material composed of carbon-fiber covered in a friction-proof coating that weighs a seventh of the steel cables, making elevators of up to 1km (0.6 miles) in height feasible to build.

Kone's creation was chosen to be installed in what's destined to become the world's tallest building, the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. When completed in 2020, the tower will stand a full kilometer in height, and will boast the world's tallest elevator at 660m (2,165ft). A 1km-tall tower may seem staggering, but is this the build-able limit? Most probably not, according to Dr. Sang Dae Kim. "With Kingdom Tower we now have a design that reaches around 1 km in height. Later on, someone will push for 1 mile, and then 2 km," says Kim. He adds that, technically speaking, 2 km might be possible at the current time. Anything higher would require new materials and building techniques.



Ask Slashdot: What Makes a Great Software Developer? - Wed Jan 28 01:05:27 2015

Nerval's Lobster writes: What does it take to become a great — or even just a good — software developer? According to developer Michael O. Church's posting on Quora (later posted on LifeHacker), it's a long list: great developers are unafraid to learn on the job, manage their careers aggressively, know the politics of software development (which he refers to as 'CS666'), avoid long days when feasible, and can tell fads from technologies that actually endure... and those are just a few of his points. Over at Salsita Software's corporate blog, meanwhile, CEO and founder Matthew Gertner boils it all down to a single point: experienced programmers and developers know when to slow down. What do you think separates the great developers from the not-so-fantastic ones?


Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox - Wed Jan 28 00:23:01 2015

An anonymous reader writes: A new study confirms the potential hazard of nearby gamma-ray bursts. It quantifies the probability of an event near Earth, and more generally in the Milky Way and other galaxies over time: "[Evolved] life as it exists on Earth could not take place in almost any galaxy that formed earlier than about five billion years after the Big Bang." This could explain the Fermi's paradox, or why we don't see billion-year-old civilizations all around us.


Inside the Largest Virtual Psychology Lab In the World - Tue Jan 27 23:41:23 2015

bearhuntz writes: Riot Games has been using League of Legends as a psychology lab to run scientific experiments and reduce toxic player behavior for a while now. This article explains some of the experiments they're doing, and what the results have been. "For example, one product is a restricted chat mode that limits the number of messages abusive players can type per match. It’s a temporary punishment that has led to a noticeable improvement in player behavior afterward —on average, individuals who went through a period of restricted chat saw 20 percent fewer abuse reports filed by other players. The restricted chat approach also proved 4 percent more effective at improving player behavior than the usual punishment method of temporarily banning toxic players. Even the smallest improvements in player behavior can make a huge difference in an online game that attracts 67 million players every month."


YouTube Ditches Flash For HTML5 Video By Default - Tue Jan 27 23:00:00 2015

An anonymous reader writes: YouTube today announced it has finally stopped using Adobe Flash by default. The site now uses its HTML5 video player by default in Google's Chrome, Microsoft's IE11, Apple's Safari 8, and in beta versions of Mozilla's Firefox browser. At the same time, YouTube is now also defaulting to its HTML5 player on the web. In fact, the company is deprecating the "old style" Flash object embeds and its Flash API, pointing users to the iFrame API instead, since the latter can adapt depending on the device and browser you're using.


Lizard Squad Hits Malaysia Airlines Website - Tue Jan 27 22:18:01 2015

An anonymous reader writes: Lizard Squad, the hacking collaborative that went after the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, and the North Korean internet last year, has now targeted Malaysia Airlines with an attack. Bloomberg links to images of the hacks (including the rather heartless 404 jab on its home page) and columnist Adam Minter wonders why Malaysia Airlines, which has had so much bad press in the past 12 months, was worthy of Lizard Squad's ire. In apparent answer, @LizardMafia (the org's reputed Twitter handle) messaged Mr. Minter this morning: "More to come soon. Side Note: We're still organizing the @MAS email dump, stay tuned for that."


Kepler Discovers Solar System's Ancient 'Twin' - Tue Jan 27 21:33:49 2015

astroengine writes: Astronomers have found a star system that bears a striking resemblance to our inner solar system. It's a sun-like star that plays host to a system of five small exoplanets — from the size of Mercury to the size of Venus. But there's something very alien about this compact 'solar system'; it formed when the universe was only 20 percent the age it is now, making it the most ancient star system playing host to terrestrial sized worlds discovered to date.


New Google Fiber Cities Announced - Tue Jan 27 20:50:13 2015

New submitter plate_o_shrimp sends word that Google has announced the next group of cities set to receive gigabit fiber infrastructure. They're concentrating on cities around four metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham. "We’ve been working closely with city leaders over the past year on a joint planning process to get their communities ready for Google Fiber—and now the really hard work begins. Our next step is to work with cities to create a detailed map of where we can put our thousands of miles of fiber, using existing infrastructure such as utility poles and underground conduit, and making sure to avoid things like gas and water lines. Then a team of surveyors and engineers will hit the streets to fill in missing details. Once we’re done designing the network (which we expect to wrap up in a few months), we’ll start construction." Google also said they're currently looking into Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and San Jose.


Serious Network Function Vulnerability Found In Glibc - Tue Jan 27 20:06:43 2015

An anonymous reader writes: A very serious security problem has been found and patched in the GNU C Library (Glibc). A heap-based buffer overflow was found in __nss_hostname_digits_dots() function, which is used by the gethostbyname() and gethostbyname2() function calls. A remote attacker able to make an application call to either of these functions could use this flaw to execute arbitrary code with the permissions of the user running the program. The vulnerability is easy to trigger as gethostbyname() can be called remotely for applications that do any kind of DNS resolving within the code. Qualys, who discovered the vulnerability (nicknamed "Ghost") during a code audit, wrote a mailing list entry with more details, including in-depth analysis and exploit vectors.


Game Hack-A-Thon Attracts Teams At 500+ Sites Worldwide - Tue Jan 27 19:23:23 2015

BarbaraHudson writes: Video game enthusiasts around the world participated in the Global Game Jam this past weekend. The event is a worldwide 48-hour hack-a-thon dedicated to inspiring creativity and building a working game from scratch in one weekend. Sponsored by companies like Intel, Microsoft, and Facebook, it's the largest event of its kind.

All games entered for GGJ are released under a Creative Commons share, alter, no sell license. You can browse through the games and download their source files on the official website, and a couple of publications did quick hands-on playthroughs.

"Although the club is focused on game development, not everyone participating was a computer programmer. Artists and graphic designers were present to help create characters and models for the games. The goal of Global Game Jam is to a stir up a global creative buzz in games while at the same time exploring the process of development."



Opera Founder Is Back, WIth a Feature-Heavy, Chromium-Based Browser - Tue Jan 27 18:38:37 2015

New submitter cdysthe writes Almost two years ago, the Norwegian browser firm Opera ripped out the guts of its product and adopted the more standard WebKit and Chromium technologies, essentially making it more like rivals Chrome and Safari. But it wasn't just Opera's innards that changed; the browser also became more streamlined and perhaps less geeky. Many Opera fans were deeply displeased at the loss of what they saw as key differentiating functionality. So now Jon von Tetzchner, the man who founded Opera and who would probably never have allowed those drastic feature changes, is back to serve this hard core with a new browser called Vivaldi. The project's front page links to downloads of a technical preview, available for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. Firefox users who likewise prefer a browser with more rather than fewer features (but otherwise want to stick with Firefox) might also consider SeaMonkey, which bundles not just a browser but email, newsgroup client and feed reader, HTML editor, IRC chat and web development tools.


FCC Fines Verizon For Failing To Investigate Rural Phone Problems - Tue Jan 27 17:25:28 2015

WheezyJoe writes Verizon agreed to a $5 million settlement after admitting that it failed to investigate whether its rural customers were able to receive long distance and wireless phone calls. The settlement is related to the FCC's efforts to address what is known as the rural call completion problem. Over an eight-month period during 2013, low call answer rates in 39 rural areas should have triggered an investigation, the FCC said. The FCC asked Verizon what steps it took, and Verizon said in April 2014 that it investigated or fixed problems in 13 of the 39 areas, but did nothing in the other 26.

"Rural call completion problems have significant and immediate public interest ramifications," the FCC said in its order on the Verizon settlement today. "They cause rural businesses to lose customers, impede medical professionals from reaching patients in rural areas, cut families off from their relatives, and create the potential for dangerous delays in public safety communications." Verizon has been accused of letting its copper landline network decay while it shifts its focus to fiber and cellular service. The FCC is working a plan to protect customers as old copper networks are retired.



Valve's Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Greece's Finance Minister - Tue Jan 27 16:41:35 2015

eldavojohn writes A turnover in the Greek government resulted from recent snap elections placing SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) in power — just shy of an outright majority by two seats. Atheist, and youngest Prime Minister in Greek history since 1865, Alexis Tsipras has been appointed the new prime minister and begun taking immediate drastic steps against the recent austerity laws put in place by prior administrations. One such step has been to appoint Valve's economist Yanis Varoufakis to position of Finance Minister of Greece. For the past three years Varoufakis has been working at Steam to analyze and improve the Steam Market but now has the opportunity to improve one of the most troubled economies in the world.


"Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms - Tue Jan 27 16:30:36 2015

mi (197448) writes You heard the scare-mongering, you heard the governors and mayors closing public transit and declaring driving on public roada a crime. But it turned out to have been a mistake. Boston may have been hit somewhat, but further South — NYC and Philadelphia — the snowfall was rather underwhelming. Promised "2-3 feet" snow, NYC got only a few inches. Is this an example of "better safe than sorry", or is government's overreach justified by questionable weather models exceeding the threshold of honest mistake?


White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap - Tue Jan 27 16:03:49 2015

HughPickens.com writes The Washington Post reports that the intrusion by a recreational drone onto the White House lawn has exposed a security gap at the compound that the Secret Service has spent years studying but has so far been unable to fix. Commercial technology is available that can use a combination of sensitive radar and acoustic trackers to detect small drones, though coming up with an effective way to stop them has been more elusive. "To do something about the problem, you have to find it, you have to track it, you have to identify it and you have to decide what to do with it," says Frederick F. Roggero. "But especially in an urban environment, it would be tough to detect and tough to defeat kinetically without shooting it down and causing collateral damage." Most recreational drones, like the one that crashed Monday, weigh only a few pounds and lack the power to do much harm. Larger models that can carry payloads of up to 30 pounds are available on the market and are expected to become more common. The FAA imposes strict safety regulations on drones flown by government agencies or anyone who operates them for commercial purposes. In contrast, hardly any rules apply to people who fly drones as a hobby, other than FAA guidelines that advise them to keep the aircraft below 400 feet and five miles from an airport. "With the discovery of an unauthorized drone on the White House lawn, the eagle has crash-landed in Washington," says Senator Charles Schumer. "There is no stronger sign that clear FAA guidelines for drones are needed."


Proposed Space Telescope Uses Huge Opaque Disk To Surpass Hubble - Tue Jan 27 15:20:46 2015

Required Snark writes NASA has funded a study of a geo-sychrounous orbit telescope that uses a half-mile diameter opaque disk to provide images with 1000 times the resolution of the Hubble. It uses diffraction at the edge of the disk to focus light, resulting in a very high quality image. It's named the Aragoscope, after the scientist Francois Arago, who first noticed how a disk effects light waves. "When deployed the Aragoscope will consist of an opaque disk a half mile in diameter parked in geostationary orbit behind which is an orbiting telescope keeping station some tens to hundreds of miles behind that collects the light at the focal point and rectifies it into a high-resolution image. 'The opaque disk of the Aragoscope works in a similar way to a basic lens,' says CU-Boulder doctoral student and team member Anthony Harness. 'The light diffracted around the edge of the circular disk travels the same path length to the center and comes into focus as an image.' He added that, since image resolution increases with telescope diameter, being able to launch such a large, yet lightweight disk would allow astronomers to achieve higher-resolution images than with smaller, traditional space telescopes."


Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015 - Tue Jan 27 14:39:25 2015

An anonymous reader writes that yesterday Uber announced a cap on surge pricing during the mammoth snow storm hitting the northeast this week; there will still be surge pricing, but it will be capped at 2.8 times the usual fares. The cap comes after an agreement struck between Uber and the New York City Attorney General’s office in January 2014 that required Uber to limit prices during “abnormal disruptions of the market”, including emergencies and natural disasters. Uber also announced a national policy for its price limits during those emergencies. ... While Uber plans to limit dynamic pricing during this storm, the company has had a bad history with emergency situations and surge pricing. In late 2012, Uber received criticism for raising fares during Hurricane Sandy. (The agreement with the NY AG came in part as a result of Hurricane Sandy backlash.)


Researchers Tie Regin Malware To NSA, Five Eyes Intel Agencies - Tue Jan 27 13:58:01 2015

Trailrunner7 writes Researchers at Kaspersky Lab have discovered shared code and functionality between the Regin malware platform and a similar platform described in a newly disclosed set of Edward Snowden documents 10 days ago by Germany's Der Spiegel. The link, found in a keylogger called QWERTY allegedly used by the so-called Five Eyes, leads them to conclude that the developers of each platform are either the same, or work closely together. "Considering the extreme complexity of the Regin platform and little chance that it can be duplicated by somebody without having access to its source codes, we conclude the QWERTY malware developers and the Regin developers are the same or working together," wrote Kaspersky Lab researchers Costin Raiu and Igor Soumenkov today in a published report. (Here is the Spiegel article.)


DEA Cameras Tracking Hundreds of Millions of Car Journeys Across the US - Tue Jan 27 13:14:19 2015

itwbennett writes: A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program set up in 2008 to keep tabs on cars close to the U.S.-Mexican border has been gradually expanded nationwide and is regularly used by other law enforcement agencies in their hunt for suspects. The extent of the system, which is said to contain hundreds of millions of records on motorists and their journeys, was disclosed in documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.


Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet - Tue Jan 27 10:25:40 2015

An anonymous reader writes: Internet connections remain illegal for Cuban households, but many of the country's citizens still want to tap into the power of networked information exchange. A group of tech-savvy young Cubans has set up a network comprising thousands of computers to serve as their own miniature version of the internet. They use chat rooms, play games, and connect to organize real-life activities. Cuban law enforcement seems willing to tolerate it (so far), but the network polices itself so as not to draw undue attention.

One of the engineers who helped build the network said, "We aren't anonymous because the country has to know that this type of network exists. They have to protect the country and they know that 9,000 users can be put to any purpose. We don't mess with anybody. All we want to do is play games, share healthy ideas. We don't try to influence the government or what's happening in Cuba ... We do the right thing and they let us keep at it."



EFF Unveils Plan For Ending Mass Surveillance - Tue Jan 27 07:28:08 2015

An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a detailed, global strategy for ridding ourselves of mass surveillance. They stress that this must be an international effort — while citizens of many countries can vote against politicians who support surveillance, there are also many countries where the citizens have to resort to other methods. The central part of the EFF's plan is: encryption, encryption, encryption. They say we need to build new secure communications tools, pressure existing tech companies to make their products secure against everyone, and get ordinary internet-goers to recognize that encryption is a fundamental part of communication in the surveillance age.

They also advocate fighting for transparency and against overreach on a national level. "[T]he more people worldwide understand the threat and the more they understand how to protect themselves—and just as importantly, what they should expect in the way of support from companies and governments—the more we can agitate for the changes we need online to fend off the dragnet collection of data." The EFF references a document created to apply the principles of human rights to communications surveillance, which they say are "our way of making sure that the global norm for human rights in the context of communication surveillance isn't the warped viewpoint of NSA and its four closest allies, but that of 50 years of human rights standards showing mass surveillance to be unnecessary and disproportionate."



Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away! - Tue Jan 27 05:32:03 2015

Freshly Exhumed writes: Growing income inequality was one of the top four issues at the 2015 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, ranking alongside European adoption of quantitative easing and geopolitical concerns. Felix Salmon, senior editor at Fusion, said there was a consensus that global inequality is getting worse, fueling overriding pessimism at the gathering. The result, he said, could be that the next big revolution will be in regulation rather than innovation. With growing inequality and the civil unrest from Ferguson and the Occupy protests fresh in people's mind, the world's super rich are already preparing for the consequences. At a packed session, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. "I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway," he said. Looking at studies like NASA's HANDY and by KPMG, the UK Government Office of Science, and others, Dr Nafeez Ahmed, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, warns that the convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a "perfect storm" within about fifteen years.


Why Coding Is Not the New Literacy - Tue Jan 27 03:31:23 2015

An anonymous reader writes: There has been a furious effort over the past few years to bring the teaching of programming into the core academic curricula. Enthusiasts have been quick to take up the motto: "Coding is the new literacy!" But long-time developer Chris Granger argues that this is not the case: "When we say that coding is the new literacy, we're arguing that wielding a pencil and paper is the old one. Coding, like writing, is a mechanical act. All we've done is upgrade the storage medium. ... Reading and writing gave us external and distributable storage. Coding gives us external and distributable computation. It allows us to offload the thinking we have to do in order to execute some process. To achieve this, it seems like all we need is to show people how to give the computer instructions, but that's teaching people how to put words on the page. We need the equivalent of composition, the skill that allows us to think about how things are computed."

He further suggests that if anything, the "new" literacy should be modeling — the ability to create a representation of a system that can be explored or used. "Defining a system or process requires breaking it down into pieces and defining those, which can then be broken down further. It is a process that helps acknowledge and remove ambiguity and it is the most important aspect of teaching people to model. In breaking parts down we can take something overwhelmingly complex and frame it in terms that we understand and actions we know how to do."