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Why You Should Choose Boring Technology - Tue Mar 31 02:24:04 2015

An anonymous reader writes Dan McKinley, a long-time Etsy engineer who now works at online payment processor Stripe, argues that the boring technology option is usually your best choice for a new project. He says, "Let's say every company gets about three innovation tokens. You can spend these however you want, but the supply is fixed for a long while. You might get a few more after you achieve a certain level of stability and maturity, but the general tendency is to overestimate the contents of your wallet. Clearly this model is approximate, but I think it helps. If you choose to write your website in NodeJS, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to use MongoDB, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to use service discovery tech that's existed for a year or less, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to write your own database, oh god, you're in trouble. ... The nice thing about boringness (so constrained) is that the capabilities of these things are well understood. But more importantly, their failure modes are well understood."


IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI - Tue Mar 31 00:19:10 2015

Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Dice, there's a breakdown of which tech jobs have the greatest return on investment, with regard to high starting salaries and growth potential relative to how much you need to spend on degrees and certifications. Which jobs top this particular calculation? No shockers here: DBAs, software engineers, programmers, and Web developers all head up the list, with salaries that tick into six-figure territory. How about those with the worst ROI? Graphic designers, sysadmins, tech support, and software QA testers often present a less-than-great combination of relatively little money and room for advancement, even if you possess a four-year degree or higher, unless you're one of the lucky few.


Amazon Launches 'Home Services' For Repair, Installation, and Other Work - Mon Mar 30 23:36:22 2015

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has quietly rolled out a new business called "Home Services," which aims to be a middleman between customers and all sorts of contracted services. It includes things like appliance repair, home cleaning, installation/assembly of products in your car or home, tutoring (academic and musical), and even performance art. Amazon makes money on this by taking a cut of the total price — between 10 and 20 percent. Since everything is geolocated, they have many more options available in big cities than in small rural communities. One of Amazon's goals is to help standardize the price for various services, so there aren't any surprises when the bill comes due.


Poverty May Affect the Growth of Children's Brains - Mon Mar 30 22:55:20 2015

sciencehabit writes: Stark and rising inequality plagues many countries, including the United States, and politicians, economists, and — fortunately — scientists, are debating its causes and solutions. But inequality's effects may go beyond simple access to opportunity: a new study finds that family differences in income and education are directly correlated with brain size in developing children and adolescents. The findings could have important policy implications and provide new arguments for early antipoverty interventions, researchers say.


Oops: World Leaders' Personal Data Mistakenly Released By Autofill Error - Mon Mar 30 22:22:02 2015

mpicpp writes in with this story about a mistake that saw personal details of world leaders accidentally disclosed by the Australian immigration department. "With a single key stroke, the personal information of President Obama and 30 other world leaders was mistakenly released by an official with Australia's immigration office. Passport numbers, dates of birth, and other personal information of the heads of state attending a G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, were inadvertently emailed to one of the organizers of January's Asian Cup football tournament, according to The Guardian. The U.K. newspaper obtained the information as a result of an Australia Freedom of Information request. Aside from President Obama, leaders whose data were released include Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The sender forgot to check the auto-fill function in the email 'To' field in Microsoft Outlook before hitting send, the BBC reports."


Hand-Drawn and Inkjet Printed Circuits for the Masses (Video) - Mon Mar 30 21:27:52 2015




Silk Road Investigators Charged With Stealing Bitcoin - Mon Mar 30 20:46:17 2015

itwbennett writes Two former U.S. government agents face charges related to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin while assisting with an investigation of the Silk Road underground online marketplace, with one accused of using a fake online persona to extort money from operators of the site. Facing charges of wire fraud and money laundering are Carl Force, 46, of Baltimore, a former special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and Shaun Bridges, 32, of Laurel, Maryland, a former special agent with the U.S. Secret Service. Both served on the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force, which investigated illegal activity on the Silk Road website, the Department of Justice said Monday in a press release.


Robots4Us: DARPA's Response To Mounting Robophobia - Mon Mar 30 20:13:01 2015

malachiorion writes DARPA knows that people are afraid of robots. Even Steve Wozniak has joined the growing chorus of household names (Musk, Hawking, Gates) who are terrified of bots and AI. And the agency's response--a video contest for kids--is equal parts silly and insightful. It's called Robots4Us, and it asks high schoolers to describe their hopes for a robot-assisted future. Five winners will be flown to the DARPA Robotics Competition Finals this June, where they'll participate in a day-after discussion with experts in the field. But this isn't quite as useless as it sounds. As DRC program manager Gill Pratt points out, it's kids who will be impacted by the major changes to come, moreso than people his age.


China's Foreign Ministry: China Did Not Attack Github, We Are the Major Victims - Mon Mar 30 19:28:01 2015

An anonymous reader writes At the Regular Press Conference on March 30, China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying responded on the charge of DDoS attack over Github. She said: "It is quite odd that every time a website in the US or any other country is under attack, there will be speculation that Chinese hackers are behind it. I'd like to remind you that China is one of the major victims of cyber attacks. We have been underlining that China hopes to work with the international community to speed up the making of international rules and jointly keep the cyber space peaceful, secure, open and cooperative. It is hoped that all parties can work in concert to address hacker attacks in a positive and constructive manner."


Book Review: Future Crimes - Mon Mar 30 18:44:30 2015

benrothke writes Technology is neutral and amoral. It's the implementers and users who define its use. In Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It, author Marc Goodman spends nearly 400 pages describing the dark side of technology, and those who use it for nefarious purposes. He provides a fascinating overview of how every major technology can be used to benefit society, and how it can also be exploited by those on the other side. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.


Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You - Mon Mar 30 18:03:01 2015

tsu doh nimh writes If you're an American and haven't yet created an account at irs.gov, you may want to take care of that before tax fraudsters create an account in your name and steal your personal and tax data in the process. Brian Krebs shows how easy it is for scammers to register an account in your name and view you current and past W2s and tax filings with the IRS, and tells the story of a New York man who — after receiving notice from the agency that someone had filed a phony return in his name — tried to get a copy of his transcript and found someone had already registered his SSN to an email address that wasn't his. Apparently, having a credit freeze prevents thieves from doing this, because the IRS relies on easily-guessed knowledge-based authentication questions from Equifax.


Apple Extends Its Trade-In Program - Mon Mar 30 17:17:26 2015

Mark Wilson writes "Earlier in the month it was reveal that Apple was about to start offering gift cards as part of a trade-in program for people buying new a new iPhone. The updated program has now gone live so you can take your old Apple device, or non-Apple smartphone to an Apple store, or mail it in to receive credit. The credit can be used in store or online against the purchase of a new Apple device, and this program expansion is the latest move from Apple to try to tempt users away from other platforms. You can check online to see how much you can expect to receive for your existing phone and decide whether it's worth your while. Hint: it might not be.


How Malvertising Abuses Real-Time Bidding On Ad Networks - Mon Mar 30 16:34:11 2015

msm1267 writes Dark corners of the Internet harbor trouble. They're supposed to. But what about when Yahoo, CNN.com, TMZ and other busy destination sites heave disaster upon visitors? That's the challenge posed by malvertising, the latest hacker Golden Goose used in cybercrime operations and even in some targeted attacks. Hackers are thriving in this arena because they have found an unwittingly complicit partner in the sundry ad networks to move malicious ads through legitimate processes. Adding gasoline to the raging fire is the abuse of real-time ad bidding, a revolution in the way online ads are sold. RTB enables better ad targeting for advertisers and less unsold inventory for publishers. Hackers can also hitch a ride with RTB and target malicious ads on any site they wish, much the way a legitimate advertiser would use the same system.


Attempted Breach of NSA HQ Checkpoint; One Shot Dead - Mon Mar 30 16:13:06 2015

seven of five writes One man is dead and another severely injured after a shootout at one of the main gates of the National Security Agency located at Fort Meade, Maryland. Two men dressed as women attempted to 'penetrate' the entry point with their vehicle when a shootout occurred, officials said. The FBI said they do not believe the incident is related to terrorism.


Apple's Tim Cook Calls Out "Religious Freedom" Laws As Discriminatory - Mon Mar 30 15:52:04 2015

An anonymous reader writes It will come as no surprise that Apple's CEO Tim Cook doesn't agree with so-called religious freedom laws. Cook says, "[they] rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear," and has penned an op-ed piece for The Washington Post which reads in part: "A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law. Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas' marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law. These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality."


Future Firefighters May Be Guided By "Robots On Reins" - Mon Mar 30 15:10:25 2015

Zothecula writes When firefighters need to enter smoke-filled buildings to conduct search or rescue, they frequently suffer from low visibility and often need to feel their way along walls or follow ropes reeled out by the lead firefighter. With a limited supply of oxygen carried by each firefighter, being slowed by the inability to see can severely limit their capacity to carry out duties in these environments. Now researchers from King's College London and Sheffield Hallam University have developed a prototype robot assistant for firefighters that can help guide them through even the thickest smoke.


India Mandates Use of Open Source Software In Government - Mon Mar 30 14:27:15 2015

jrepin writes The Indian government announced a policy yesterday that makes it mandatory to use open-source software in building apps and services, in an effort to "ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs." The new policy (PDF) states that all government organizations must include a requirement for their software suppliers to consider open-source options when implementing e-governance applications and systems. The move will bring the Indian government in line with other countries including the US, UK and Germany that opt for open-source software over proprietary tools.


If You Want To Buy an Apple Watch In-Store, You'll Need a Reservation - Mon Mar 30 13:43:55 2015

An anonymous reader writes "Good news for those of you thinking of buying an Apple watch but were concerned the experience wouldn't feel exclusive enough. According to MacRumors there will be no walk-in sales the first few weeks of launch. Instead, you'll have to call the store and make reservations. From the article: "Apple will begin offering online pre-sales of the Apple Watch starting on April 10th, with the first deliveries occurring on April 24th, the official Apple Watch launch date. During those two weeks, customers will be able to have hands-on 'try-on' appointments at Apple retail stores in order to help make up their mind. However, according to training documents that MacRumors has received, Apple is not allowing any walk-in retail purchases for the Apple Watch at launch. Instead customers must make an online 'Product Reservation' to hold a specific Apple Watch model at a retail store. This new 'Product Reservation' system is used instead of Apple's 'Personal Pickup' system for Apple Watches. Apple's retail training documents indicate that 'If a customer walks in and wants to purchase a watch, offer the option to try on a watch. Then help them place an order online or through the Apple Store app.'"


Chinese Scientists Plan Solar Power Station In Space - Mon Mar 30 13:01:15 2015

knwny points out this lofty proposed power plan in China. "The battle to dispel smog, cut greenhouse gases and solve the energy crisis is moving to space. If news reports are to be believed, Chinese scientists are mulling the construction of a solar power station in a geosynchronous orbit 36,000 kilometres above ground. The electricity generated would be converted to microwaves or lasers and transmitted to a collector on Earth. If realized, it will surpass the scale of the Apollo project and the International Space Station and be the largest-ever space project."


Secret Service Plans New Fence, Full Scale White House Replica, But No Moat - Mon Mar 30 12:17:28 2015

HughPickens.com writes The NYT reports that the Secret Service is recruiting some of its best athletes to serve as pretend fence jumpers at a rural training ground outside Washington in a program to develop a new fence around the White House that will keep intruders out without looking like a prison. Secret Service officials acknowledge that they cannot make the fence foolproof; that would require an aesthetically unacceptable and politically incorrect barrier. Prison or Soviet-style design is out, and so is anything that could hurt visitors, like sharp edges or protuberances. Instead, the goal is to deter climbers or at least delay them so that officers and attack dogs have a few more seconds to apprehend them. In addition, there might be alterations to the White House grounds but no moat, as recently suggested by Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee. "When I hear moat, I think medieval times," says William Callahan, assistant director for the office of protective operation at the Secret Service.

The Times also reports that the Secret Service wants to spend $8 million to build a detailed replica of the White House in Beltsville, Maryland to aid in training officers and agents to protect the real thing. "Right now, we train on a parking lot, basically," says Joseph P. Clancy, the director of the Secret Service. "We put up a makeshift fence and walk off the distance between the fence at the White House and the actual house itself. We don't have the bushes, we don't have the fountains, we don't get a realistic look at the White House." The proposed replica would provide what Clancy describes as a "more realistic environment, conducive to scenario-based training exercises," for instructing those who must protect the president's home. It would mimic the facade of the White House residence, the East and West Wings, guard booths, and the surrounding grounds and roads. The request comes six months after an intruder scaled a wrought-iron fence around the White House and ran through an unlocked front door of the residence and into the East Room before officers tackled him.



At the Track With Formula E, the First e-Racing Series - Mon Mar 30 09:16:39 2015

An anonymous reader writes Ars is running a story about the new all-electric racing car series first visit to the U.S.. "The pit lane we're standing in is unusual, and not only because it's a temporary setup placed in the shadow of American Airlines Arena (home of the NBA's Miami Heat). Garages are set up on both sides rather than being limited to one. A few things also appear to be missing. To start, a familiar smell from the usual mix of burning hydrocarbons is absent. And it's remarkably quiet. The occasional impact wrench bursts out in a mechanical staccato, generators drone here and there, but there are no V8s burbling, no V6s screaming....Welcome to Formula E, the world's first fully electric racing series. Miami is playing host to the first of two US rounds—the next being held in Long Beach, CA, on April 4—and it's the fifth race in this ePrix's inaugural season. Given we've got a bit of a thing about racing at Cars Technica, as well as an obvious interest in electric vehicles, we had to be on the ground in Miami to experience this for ourselves."


Europol Chief Warns About Computer Encryption - Mon Mar 30 06:08:01 2015

An anonymous reader writes The law enforcement lobbying campaign against encryption continues. Today it's Europols director Rob Wainwright who is trying to make a case against encryption. "It's become perhaps the biggest problem for the police and the security service authorities in dealing with the threats from terrorism," he explained. "It's changed the very nature of counter-terrorist work from one that has been traditionally reliant on having good monitoring capability of communications to one that essentially doesn't provide that anymore." This is the same man who told the European Parliament that Europol is not going to investigate the alleged NSA hacking of the SWIFT (international bank transfer) system. The excuse he gave was not that Europol didn't know about it, because it did. Very much so. It was that there had been no formal complaint from any member state.


FCC Chairman: Net Rules Will Withstand Court Challenge - Mon Mar 30 03:09:24 2015

An anonymous reader writes with this story about FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's confidence that the net neutrality rules the agency passed last month will stand up to upcoming challenges in court."Now that the FCC is the subject of several lawsuits, and its leader, Chairman Tom Wheeler, was dragged in front of Congress repeatedly to answer the same battery of inanity, it's worth checking in to see how the agency is feeling. Is it confident that its recent vote to reclassify broadband under Title II of the Telecommunications Act will hold? Yes, unsurprisingly. Recently, Wheeler gave a speech at Ohio State University, laying out his larger philosophy regarding the open Internet. His second to last paragraph is worth reading: "One final prediction: the FCC's new rules will be upheld by the courts. The DC Circuit sent the previous Open Internet Order back to us and basically said, 'You're trying to impose common carrier-like regulation without stepping up and saying, "these are common carriers.'" We have addressed that issue, which is the underlying issue in all of the debates we've had so far. That gives me great confidence going forward that we will prevail.""


NASA Denies New Space Station Partnership With Russia - Mon Mar 30 00:31:21 2015

schwit1 writes NASA officials today denied they were negotiating a partnership with Russia to build a space station replacement for ISS, as suggested yesterday by the head of Russia's space program. Maybe the misunderstanding comes from NASA head Charles Bolden, who is currently in Russia. Bolden probably said some nice feel-good things to the Russians, things like "We want to keep working together," and "We will support your plans for your future space station." None of this was meant as a commitment, but the Russians might have taken them more seriously than Bolden realized.


Chrome OS Receives Extreme Makeover With Material Design and Google Now - Sun Mar 29 23:28:01 2015

MojoKid writes Late last week, Google quietly began inviting people to opt into the beta channel for ChromeOS to help the company "shape the future" of the OS. Some betas can be riskier than others, but Google says that opting into this one is just a "little risk", one that will pay off handsomely for those who crave new features. New in this version is Chrome Launcher 2.0, which gives you quick access to a number of common features, including the apps you use most often (examples are Hangouts, Calculator, and Files). Some apps have also received a fresh coat of paint, such as the file manager. Google notes that this is just the start, so there will be more updates rolling out to the beta OS as time goes on. Other key features available in this beta include the ability to extract pass protected Zip archives, as well as a perk for travelers. ChromeOS will now automatically detect your new timezone, and then update the time and date accordingly.


Nation's Biggest Nuclear Firm Makes a Play For Carbon Credit Cash - Sun Mar 29 22:22:54 2015

tomhath writes with this story that make shake up the nuclear industry. "The biggest player in the beleaguered nuclear power industry wants a place alongside solar, wind and hydroelectric power collecting extra money for producing carbon-free electricity. Exelon Corp., operator of the largest fleet of U.S. nuclear plants, says it could have to close three of them if Illinois rejects the company's pitch to let it recoup more from consumers since the plants do not produce greenhouse gases. Exelon and other around-the-clock plants sometimes take losses when wind turbines produce too much electricity for the system. Under the system, electric suppliers would have to buy credits from carbon-free energy producers. Exelon says the plan would benefit nuclear plants, hydroelectric dams, and other solar and wind projects."


NSA: We Mulled Ending Phone Program Before Edward Snowden Leaks - Sun Mar 29 21:08:01 2015

Mark Wilson writes Edward Snowden is heralded as both a hero and villain. A privacy vigilante and a traitor. It just depends who you ask. The revelations he made about the NSA's surveillance programs have completely changed the face of online security, and changed the way everyone looks at the internet and privacy. But just before the whistle was blown, it seems that the NSA was considering bringing its telephone data collection program to an end. Intelligence officials were, behind the scenes, questioning whether the benefits of gathering counter-terrorism information justified the colossal costs involved. Then Snowden went public and essentially forced the agency's hand.


Supermario 64 Coming To a Browser Near You! - Sun Mar 29 20:02:13 2015

Billly Gates writes "Since Unity has been given a liberal license and free for non commercial developers it has become popular. A computer science student Erik Roystan Ross used the tool to remake SuperMario 64 with a modern Unity 5 engine. There is a video here and if you want to play the link is here. You will need Firefox or Chrome which has HTML 5 for gamepad support if you do not want to use the keyboard. "I currently do not have any plans to develop this any further or to resolve any bugs, unless they're horrendously game-breaking and horrendously simple to fix," says Ross.


Experts: Aim of 2 Degrees Climate Goal Insufficient - Sun Mar 29 18:58:20 2015

An anonymous reader points out that a long held goal of keeping the Earth's average temperature from rising above 2 degrees Celsius might not be good enough. "A long-held benchmark for limiting global warming is 'utterly inadequate,' a leading U.N. climate scientist declared. Keeping the Earth's average temperature from rising past 2 degrees Celsius – a cap established by studies in the early 1970s – is far too loose a goal, Petra Tschakert, a professor at Penn State University and a lead author of an assessment report for the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, said in a commentary published in the journal Climate Change Responses. Already, with an average increase of just 0.8 degrees Celsius, she wrote, 'negative impacts' are 'widespread across the globe.' Tschakert called for lowering the warming target to 1.5 degrees Celsius."


Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Near Launching Presidential Bid - Sun Mar 29 17:52:09 2015

Rambo Tribble writes "Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina announced on Fox News Sunday that she stood a 'higher than 90 percent' chance of running as a presidential candidate in 2016. Fiorina's tenure at HP was marked by controversy over her leadership, and it is unclear what level of name recognition she enjoys. Her only previous political experience appears to be a failed U.S. Senate seat effort in 2010, as the Republican candidate challenging sitting Democrat Barbara Boxer, in California. Fiorina lost by 10%.


SeaWorld and Others Discover That a Hashtag Can Become a Bashtag - Sun Mar 29 16:39:50 2015

HughPickens.com writes Alison Griswold writes that in an effort to improve its tanking image, SeaWorld launched a new advertising campaign this week to educate the public about its "leadership in the care of killer whales" and other work to protect whales in captivity and in the wild. As part of that head-on initiative, someone at SeaWorld decided to invite Twitter users to pose their questions to the company directly using the hashtag #AskSeaWorld. That was not a good idea as twitter users bashed Sea World relentlessly.. "As easy as it is to make fun of SeaWorld here, the real question is why any company still thinks hosting an open Twitter forum could be good for public relations," writes Griswold. "So maybe SeaWorld's social and PR folks just really have no idea what they're doing. Even so, you'd think they'd have learned from the corporate failures before them."

Let's review some of the times this has backfired, starting with the infamous McDonald's #McDStories Twitter campaign of January 2012. Rather than prompting customers to share their heart-warming McDonald's anecdotes, the hashtag gave critics a highly visible forum to share their top McDonald's horror stories. MacDonalds pulled the campaign within two hours but they discovered that crowd-sourced campaigns are hard to control. Three years later the #McDStories hashtag is still gathering comments. "Twitter Q&As are a terrible idea.," concludes Griswold. "A well-meaning hashtag gives critics an easy way to assemble and voice their complaints in a public forum. Why companies still try them is a great mystery. Maybe they'll all finally learn from SeaWorld and give this one horrible PR trick up for good."



Festo Reveals New Robotic Ants and Butterflies - Sun Mar 29 15:36:00 2015

mikejuk writes "Every year around this time of year Festo builds some amazing robot or other — last year it was a kangaroo. What could it possibly do to top previous amazing devices? What about some even more amazing robotic insects. BionicANT is designed not only look good but to demonstrate swarm intelligence. The robot not only looks like an ant, but it works like one. The design makes use of piezo bending transducers rather than servos to move. As well as being able to move its six legs, it also has a piezo-activated pair of pincers. The second insect robot is a butterfly — eMotion. For flying machines these are incredibly lightweight at 32 grams. The bodies are laser sintered and the wings use carbon fiber rods. Two miniature servo motors are attached to the body and each wing. The electronics has a microcontroller, an inertial sensor consisting of gyro, accelerometer and compass and two radio modules. Flying time is around 3 or 4 minutes."


Arduino Dispute Reaches Out To Distributors - Sun Mar 29 14:42:21 2015

szczys writes Two companies are claiming ownership of the Arduino Trademark. The most recent development in this sad state of affairs is a letter from Arduino SRL to long-time Distributors of Arduino products. SRL is claiming they are the real Arduino, but there are some tasty tidbits including a Q/A section with some peculiar answers. From the article: "In short, Arduino LLC has been working on developing the Arduino platform, software, and community while Smart Projects / Arduino SRL was the major official producer of the hardware for most boards. Both are claiming to 'be' Arduino, and going after each other in court. So it’s not strange that Arduino SRL would like to try to keep its hold on the distribution channels."


SpaceX's New Combustion Technologies - Sun Mar 29 13:27:35 2015

An anonymous reader shares this story that takes a look at some of the advances SpaceX is working on. "Getting a small group of human beings to Mars and back is no easy task, we learned at the recent GPU Technology Conference in San Jose hosted graphics chip and accelerator maker Nvidia. One of the problems with such a mission is that you need a very large and efficient rocket engine to get the amount of material into orbit for the mission, explained Adam Lichtl, who is director of research at SpaceX and who with a team of a few dozen programmers is try to crack the particularly difficult task of better simulating the combustion inside of a rocket engine. You need a large engine to shorten the trip to Mars, too....Not only do you need a lot of stuff to get to Mars and sustain a colony there, but you also need a way to generate fuel on Mars to come back to Earth. All of these factors affect the design of the rocket engine....As if these were not problems enough, there is another really big issue. The computational fluid dynamics, or CFD, software that is used to simulate the movement of fluids and gases and their ignition inside of all kinds of engines is particularly bad at assisting in rocket engine design. 'Methane is a fairly simple hydrocarbon that is perfectly good as a fuel,' Lichtl said. 'The challenge here is to design an engine that works efficiently with such a compound. But rocket engine CFD is hard. Really hard.'"


Why the Final Moments Inside a Cockpit Are Heard But Not Seen - Sun Mar 29 12:34:11 2015

jones_supa writes: There's no video footage from inside the cockpit of the Germanwings flight that left 150 people dead — nor is such footage recorded from any other commercial airline crash in recent years. Unlike many other vehicles operating with heightened safety concerns, airline cockpits don't come with video surveillance. The reason, in part, is that airline pilots and their unions have argued vigorously against what they see as an invasion of privacy that would not improve aviation safety. The long debate on whether airplane cockpits in the U.S. should be equipped with cameras dates back at least 15 years, when the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) first pushed regulators to require video monitoring following what the agency called "several accidents involving a lack of information regarding crewmember actions and the flight deck environment." The latest NTSB recommendation for a cockpit image system (PDF) came in January 2015. Should video streams captured inside the plane become a standard part of aviation safety measures?


Material Made From Crustaceans Could Combat Battlefield Blood Loss - Sun Mar 29 09:23:01 2015

MTorrice writes: A foam composed of a polymer derived from crustacean shells may prevent more soldiers from falling victim to the most prolific killer on the battlefield: blood loss. Pressure is one of the best tools that medics have to fight bleeding, but they can't use it on severe wounds near organs. Here, compression could do more harm than good. First responders have no way to effectively dam blood flows from these non-compressible injuries, which account for the majority of hemorrhagic deaths. The new foam could help stop bleeding in these types of injuries. It relies on chitosan, a biopolymer that comes from processed crustacean shells. By modifying the chitosan, the developers gave the material the ability to anchor blood cells into gel-like networks, essentially forming blood clots. The researchers dispersed the modified chitosan in water to create a fluid they could spray directly onto noncompressible wounds.


Australian Government Outlines Website-Blocking Scheme - Sun Mar 29 06:23:01 2015

angry tapir writes: The Australian government has revealed its (previously mooted) proposed legislation that will allow copyright holders to apply for court orders that will force ISPs to block access to pirate websites. It forms part of a broader Australian crackdown on online copyright infringement, which also includes a warning notice scheme for alleged infringers. They're not the only ones getting on board with website blocking — a judge in Spain ruled that local ISPs must block access to The Pirate Bay.


Graphene Light Bulbs Coming To Stores Soon - Sun Mar 29 03:10:27 2015

An anonymous reader writes: A light bulb made from graphene — said by its UK developers to be the first commercially viable consumer product using the super-strong carbon — is to go on sale later this year. The dimmable LED bulb with a graphene-coated filament was designed at Manchester University, where the material was discovered in 2004. It is said to cut energy use by 10% and last longer owing to its conductivity. It is expected to be priced lower than current LED bulbs, which cost about £15 (~$22) each.


Measuring How Much "Standby Mode" Electricity For Game Consoles Will Cost You - Sun Mar 29 00:10:20 2015

An anonymous reader writes: Modern game consoles have a "standby" mode, which you can use if you want the console to instantly turn on while not drawing full power the whole time it's idle. But manufacturers are vague about how much power it takes to keep the consoles in this standby state. After a recent press release claiming $250 million worth of electricity was used to power Xbox Ones in standby mode in the past year, Ars Technica decided to run some tests to figure out exactly how much power is being drawn. Their conclusions: the PS4 draws about 10 Watts, $10-11 in extra electricity charges annually. The Xbox One draws 12.9W, costing users $13-$14 in extra electricity charges annually. The Wii U draws 13.3W, costing users $14-$15 in extra electricity charges annually. These aren't trivial amounts, but they're a lot less than simply leaving the console running and shutting off the TV when you aren't using it: "Leaving your PS4 sitting on the menu like this all year would waste over $142 in electricity costs."


Russia Wants To Work With NASA On a New Space Station - Sat Mar 28 23:08:01 2015

HughPickens.com writes with news that Russian officials are talking about working with NASA to build a new space station as a replacement for the ISS after its operations end in 2024. Igor Komarov, head of the Russian Federal Space Agency, was unambiguous in his support for such a partnership. He added, "It will be an open project. It will feature not only the current members of the ISS." NASA, while careful not to discourage future cooperation, was not so enthusiastic. They said, "We are pleased Roscomos wants to continue full use of the International Space Station through 2024 -- a priority of ours -- and expressed interest in continuing international cooperation for human space exploration beyond that. The United States is planning to lead a human mission to Mars in the 2030s, and we have advanced that effort farther than at any point in NASA's history. We welcome international support for this ambitious undertaking." They reiterated that there are no formal agreements in place as of yet. These comments come as three crew members arrive at the ISS, two of whom will be up there for an entire year.


Citizen Scientists Develop Eye Drops That Provide Night Vision - Sat Mar 28 22:01:35 2015

rtoz writes: A group of scientists in California have successfully created eye drops that temporarily enable night vision. They use mixture of insulin and a chemical known as Chlorin e6 (Ce6) to enable the user to view objects clearly in darkness up to 50 meters away. Ce6 is found in some deep-sea fish and often used to treat night blindness. The solution starts to work within an hour of being applied to the user's eyes, and lasts for several hours afterward. The test subject's eyesight returned to normal the next day. The organization Science for the Masses has released a paper detailing the experiment on their website.


Europe Agrees On Regulatory Drone Framework - Sat Mar 28 20:55:53 2015

Hallie Siegel writes: Not a week goes by where some aspect of drone regulation fails to make the news. But for any regulated industry where technology is advancing faster than new rules can be agreed upon, it will undoubtedly cause a few headaches. This week closes with a very positive announcement from European stakeholders on the future of drones. During a two-day conference in Riga, the European aviation community found broad agreement on the main principles to guide a regulatory framework to allow drone operations throughout Europe from 2016 onward.


Best Buy Kills Off Future Shop - Sat Mar 28 19:53:01 2015

Lirodon writes: Future Shop, a Canadian electronics chain that was bought by Best Buy in 2001, but continued to operate in parallel with the newly-opened Canadian locations of the U.S. retailer, is no more. Today, the company abruptly announced the closure of the Future Shop chain, and the permanent closure of 66 of its remaining 131 locations. The remaining 65 Future Shop locations (specifically, those that weren't within driving, or even walking distance of a Best Buy to begin with) will be converted to Best Buy stores over the next few days.

This is just the latest step in Best Buy's efforts to downsize its Canadian operations and focus on online retail. The new, downsized chain will consist of 136 Best Buy stores (and 56 of the small Best Buy Mobile stores) in Canada. Still, it's sad to see such an iconic brand killed off like this.



Commercial Flamethrower Successfully Crowdfunded - Sat Mar 28 18:47:24 2015

ColdWetDog writes: You've always wanted one, of course. Zombies, the occasional alien infestation. The neighbor's smelly roses. You just need to be prepared for things. You can get freeze dried food, AR15's, enough ammo to start a small police action (at least here in the U.S. -- YMMV), but it has been difficult to get a modern, portable flamethrower until now. CNET has a brief explanation on the XM42, which doubled its Indiegogo funding target in just a few days.


Another Patent Pool Forms For HEVC - Sat Mar 28 17:40:58 2015

An anonymous reader writes: A new patent pool, dubbed HEVC Advance, has formed for the HEVC video codec. This pool offers separate licensing from the existing MPEG LA HEVC patent pool. In an article for CNET, Stephen Shankland writes, "HEVC Advance promises a 'transparent' licensing process, but so far it isn't sharing details except to say it's got 500 patents it describes as essential for using HEVC, that it plans to unveil its license in the third quarter, and that expected licensors include General Electric, Technicolor, Dolby, Philips and Mitsubishi Electric. The group's statement suggested that some patent holders weren't satisfied with the money they'd make through MPEG LA's license. One of HEVC Advance's goals is 'delivering a balanced business model that supports HEVC commercialization.' ... HEVC Advance and MPEG LA aren't detailing what led to two patent pools, an outcome that undermines MPEG LA's attempt to offer a convenient 'one-stop shop' for companies needing a license." Perhaps this will lead to increased adoption of royalty-free video codecs such as VP9. Monty Montgomery of Xiph has some further commentary.


Ikea Refugee Shelter Entering Production - Sat Mar 28 16:45:53 2015

jones_supa writes: Ikea's line of flatpack refugee shelters are going into production, the Swedish furniture maker announced this week. The lightweight Better Shelter was developed under a partnership between the Ikea Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and beta tested among refugee families in Ethiopia, Iraq, and Lebanon. Each unit takes about four hours to assemble and is designed to last for three years — far longer than conventional refugee shelters, which typically last about six months. The product is an important tool in the prolonged refugee crisis that has unfolded across the Middle East. The war in Syria has spurred nearly 4 million people to leave their homes. The UNHCR has agreed to buy 10,000 of the shelters, and will begin providing them to refugee families this summer.


Startups Increasingly Targeted With Hacks - Sat Mar 28 15:40:01 2015

ubrgeek writes: Slack, makers of the popular communications software, announced yesterday that they'd suffered a server breach. This follows shortly after a similar compromise of Twitch.tv, and is indicative of a growing problem facing start-up tech companies. As the NY Times reports, "Breaches are becoming a kind of rite of passage for fledgling tech companies. If they gain enough momentum with users, chances are they will also become a target for hackers looking to steal, and monetize, the vast personal information they store on users, like email addresses and passwords."


Prison Inmate Emails His Own Release Instructions To the Prison - Sat Mar 28 14:36:02 2015

Bruce66423 writes: A fraudster used a mobile phone while inside a UK prison to email the prison a notice for him to be released. The prison staff then released him. The domain was registered in the name of the police officer investigating him, and its address was the court building. The inmate was in prison for fraud — he was originally convicted after calling several banks and getting them to send him upwards of £1.8 million.


European Commission Will Increase Use of Open Source Software - Sat Mar 28 13:31:51 2015

jrepin writes: The European Commission has updated its strategy for internal use of Open Source Software. The Commission, which is already using open source for many of its key ICT services and software solutions, will further increase the role of this type of software internally. The renewed strategy puts a special emphasis on procurement, contribution to open source software projects, and providing more of the software developed within the Commission as open source.


IBM and OpenPower Could Mean a Fight With Intel For Chinese Server Market - Sat Mar 28 12:35:08 2015

itwbennett writes With AMD's fade out from the server market and the rapid decline of RISC systems, Intel has stood atop the server market all by itself. But now IBM, through its OpenPOWER Foundation, could give Intel and its server OEMs a real fight in China, which is a massive server market. As the investor group Motley Fool notes, OpenPOWER is a threat to Intel in the Chinese server market because the government has been actively pushing homegrown solutions over foreign technology, and many of the Foundation members, like Tyan, are from China.


Taxpayer Subsidies To ULA To End - Sat Mar 28 10:58:21 2015

schwit1 writes Because it has concluded that they make it impossible to have a fair competition for contracts, the Air Force has decided to phase out taxpayer subsidies to the United Launch Alliance (ULA). The specific amounts of these subsidies have been effectively buried by the Air Force in many different contracts, so we the taxpayers really don't know how much the are. Nonetheless, this decision, combined with the military report released yesterday that criticized the Air Force's over-bearing and restrictive certification process with SpaceX indicates that the political pressure is now pushing them hard to open up bidding to multiple companies, which in turn will help lower cost and save the taxpayer money.


UK Licensing Site Requires MSIE Emulation, But Won't Work With MSIE - Sat Mar 28 08:30:58 2015

Anne Thwacks writes The British Government web site for applying for for a licence to be a security guard requires a plugin providing Internet Explorer emulation on Firefox to login and apply for a licence. It won't work with Firefox without the add-on, but it also wont work with Internet Explorer! (I tried Win XP and Win7 Professional). The error message says "You have more than one browser window open on the same internet connection," (I didn't) and "to avoid this problem, close your browser and reopen it." I did. No change.

I tried three different computers, with three different OSes. Still no change. I contacted their tech support and they said "Yes ... a lot of users complain about this. We have known about it since September, and are working on a fix! Meanwhile, we have instructions on how to use the "Fire IE" plugin to get round the problem." Eventually, I got this to work on Win7pro. (The plugin will not work on Linux). The instructions require a very old version of the plugin, and a bit of trial and error is needed to get it to work with the current one. How can a government department concerned with security not get this sort of thing right?"



New Screenshots Detail Spartan Web Browser For Windows 10 Smartphones - Sat Mar 28 05:50:52 2015

MojoKid writes One of the most anticipated new features in Windows 10 is the Spartan web browser, which will replace the long-serving Internet Explorer. We've seen Spartan in action on the desktop/notebook front, but we're now getting a closer look at Spartan in action on the mobile side thanks to some newly leaked screenshots. Perhaps the biggest change with Spartan is the repositioning of the address bar from the bottom of the screen to the top (which is also in line with other mobile browsers like Safari and Chrome). The refresh button has also been moved from its right-hand position within the address bar to a new location to the left of the address bar. Reading Lists also make an appearance in this latest build of Spartan along with Microsoft's implementation of "Hubs" on Windows 10 for mobile devices.


Iowa's Governor Terry Brandstad Thinks He Doesn't Use E-mail - Sat Mar 28 02:59:46 2015

Earthquake Retrofit writes The Washington Post reports the governor of Iowa denying he uses e-mail, but court documents expose his confusion. From the article: "Branstad's apparent confusion over smartphones, apps and e-mail is ironic because he has tried to portray himself as technologically savvy. His Instagram account has pictures of him taking selfies and using Skype... 2010 campaign ads show him tapping away on an iPad. 'Want a brighter future? We've got an app for that.' Earlier this month, the governor's office announced that it had even opened an account on Meerkat, the live video streaming app." Perhaps he's distancing himself from e-mail because it's a Hillary thing.


Notel Media Player Helps North Koreans Skirt Censorship - Sat Mar 28 00:33:01 2015

An anonymous reader writes A small portable media device, costing roughly $50, is allowing North Koreans to access and view foreign media despite tight government censorship, according to a Reuters report. The 'Notel', a mashup of notebook and television, is being described as a symbol of change in the repressed society. Used to watch DVDs and shared content from USB sticks and SD cards, the media player can be easily concealed and transported among families and friends. According to correspondents in the region, as many as half of all urban North Korean households have a notel and are swapping a broad range of banned media such as soaps and TV dramas from South Korea and China, Hollywood blockbusters, and news clips — all of which is strictly forbidden by Pyongyang law.


Ellen Pao Loses Silicon Valley Gender Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins - Fri Mar 27 23:38:01 2015

vivaoporto writes As reported by the New York Times, USA Today and other publications, a jury of six men and six women rejected current Reddit Inc CEO Ellen Pao's claims against her former employer, the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Ms. Pao's suit, that allegged employment discrimination based on gender, workplace retaliation and failure to take reasonable steps to prevent gender discrimination, asked $16 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages. The jury decided, after more than two days of deliberation and more than four weeks of testimony, that her formed employer neither discriminated against the former junior partner for her gender, nor fired the complainant because of a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against the firm in 2012. She alleged that Kleiner Perkins had promoted male partners over equally qualified women at the firm, including herself, and then retaliated against her for raising concerns about the firm's gender dynamics by failing to promote her and finally firing her after seven years at the firm after she filed her 2012 lawsuit.


Dark Matter Is Even More of a Mystery That Expected - Fri Mar 27 22:42:15 2015

schwit1 writes: Using the Hubble and Chandra space telescopes astronomers have discovered that dark matter is not only invisible to direct observation, it is invisible to itself! Quoting: "As two galactic clusters collide, the stars, gas and dark matter interact in different ways. The clouds of gas suffer drag, slow down and often stop, whereas the stars zip past one another, unless they collide — which is rare. On studying what happens to dark matter during these collisions, the researchers realized that, like stars, the colliding clouds of dark matter have little effect on one another. Thought to be spread evenly throughout each cluster, it seems logical to assume that the clouds of dark matter would have a strong interaction — much like the colliding clouds of gas as the colliding dark matter particles should come into very close proximity. But rather than creating drag, the dark matter clouds slide through one another seamlessly." The data here is on the very edge of reality, built on too many assumptions. We know that something undetected as yet is influencing the motions of galaxies, but what exactly it is remains completely unknown. These results only make the mystery more mysterious.


Toshiba Announces 3D Flash With 48 Layers - Fri Mar 27 21:55:39 2015

Lucas123 writes: Admitting it has bumped up against a 15 nanometer process wall, Toshiba announced it's focusing its efforts on three dimensional NAND using its Bit Cost Scalable technology (PDF) in order to increase capacity. It has dedicated a Japanese fab plant to it and developed 48-level 3D NAND, which bumps density up 33% over previous 3D NAND flash. The new 3D NAND will be able to store 128Gb of data per chip (16GB). Samsung has been mass producing 32-layer, triple-level cell (TLC) 3D NAND since last October and has incorporated it into some of its least expensive SSDs. Yesterday, Micron and Intel announced their own 32-layer 3D TLC NAND, which they claimed will lead to 10TB SSDs. While Toshiba's 3D NAND is multi-level cell (meaning it stores two bits per transistor versus three), the company does plan on developing a TLC version. Toshiba said it's not abandoning 15nm floating gate flash, but it will focus those efforts on lower capacity applications.


Hoax-Detecting Software Spots Fake Papers - Fri Mar 27 21:12:27 2015

sciencehabit writes: In 2005, three computer science Ph.D. students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a program to generate nonsensical computer science research papers. The goal was "to expose the lack of peer review at low-quality conferences that essentially scam researchers with publication and conference fees." The program — dubbed SCIgen — soon found users across the globe, and before long its automatically generated creations were being accepted by scientific conferences and published in purportedly peer-reviewed journals. But SCIgen may have finally met its match. Academic publisher Springer this week is releasing SciDetect, an open-source program to automatically detect automatically generated papers. SCIgen uses a "context-free grammar" to create word salad that looks like reasonable text from a distance but is easily spotted as nonsense by a human reader.


Google Loses Ruling In Safari Tracking Case - Fri Mar 27 20:37:59 2015

mpicpp sends this report from CNET: The floodgates are now open for UK users to sue Google over privacy violations tied to tracking cookies. In a landmark ruling, the UK's Court of Appeal has dismissed Google's request to prevent British Web users from suing the company over tracking cookies and privacy violations. The decision was announced Friday, according to the BBC. In spite of default privacy settings and user preferences — including an opt-out of consent to be tracked by cookies — Google's tracking cookies gathered information on Safari browser users for nine months in 2011 and 2012.


Amazon Requires Non-Compete Agreements.. For Warehouse Workers - Fri Mar 27 19:53:11 2015

Rick Zeman writes: Amazon, perhaps historically only second to Newegg in the IT nerdling's online shopping heart, has not only subjected their warehouse employees to appalling working conditions, but they're also making them sign a non-compete agreement for the privilege. Here's an excerpt from the agreement: "During employment and for 18 months after the Separation Date, Employee will not, directly or indirectly, whether on Employee's own behalf or on behalf of any other entity (for example, as an employee, agent, partner, or consultant), engage in or support the development, manufacture, marketing, or sale of any product or service that competes or is intended to compete with any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon (or intended to be sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future)."


Behind the Scenes At a Quantum Dot Factory - Fri Mar 27 19:10:20 2015

Tekla Perry writes: In a nondescript office complex in Milpitas, Calif., Nanosys is making enough quantum dots to populate 6 million 60-inch television screens annually. "The process goes on in what looks like a microbrewery. In about half a dozen large metal tanks ... Nanosys combines cadmium and selenium and adjusts the temperature, concentration, and catalysts added to force these precursors to combine into stable crystals of cadmium selenide. Then, by readjusting the conditions, the system stops the formation of crystals and triggers the beginning of crystal growth. A computer controls the process according to a programmed “recipe;” staff members monitor the growth of the crystals by shining light on them and measuring the wavelength of the fluorescence; the smallest crystals don’t fluoresce at all, then, as the crystals get larger, the wavelength changes. Nanosys stops the process when the fluoresced light hits the target wavelength, which varies depending on what particular display industry standard that the batch of film is designed to meet."


Ask Slashdot: What Makes Some Code Particularly Good? - Fri Mar 27 18:27:17 2015

itwbennett writes: When developers talk about what makes some source code particularly 'good,' a handful of qualities tend to get mentioned frequently (functional, readable, testable). What would you add to this list?


Rebuilding the PDP-8 With a Raspberry Pi - Fri Mar 27 17:44:48 2015

braindrainbahrain writes: Hacker Oscarv wanted a PDP-8 mini computer. But buying a real PDP-8 was horribly expensive and out of the question. So Oscarv did the next best thing: he used a Raspberry Pi as the computing engine and interfaced it to a replica PDP-8 front panel, complete with boatloads of fully functional switches and LEDs.


Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up - Fri Mar 27 17:01:02 2015

HughPickens.com writes: Jad Mouawad And Christopher Drew write in the NY Times that although airplane cockpits are supposed to be the last line of defense from outside aggressors, airlines have fewer options if the threat comes from within. One of the major safety protocols that actually made planes safer in the past 15 years was that the cockpits were turned into fortresses. Unfortunately, that exact advantage was exploited by the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane on Tuesday to crash it intentionally. "It is shocking to me that there was not a second person present in the cockpit," says Mark Rosenker, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Access to the cockpit is strictly regulated in the United States. Passengers are not allowed to congregate near the cockpit door, and whenever the door is open, no one is allowed in the forward bathroom and flight attendants usually block aisle access, sometimes using a food cart. The Federal Aviation Administration mandates that a flight attendant must sit in the cockpit when either pilot steps into the passenger area; European regulations do not have a similar two-person rule, but they're now talking about creating one.

The Germanwings accident also points to potential shortcomings in how pilots are screened for mental problems, a recurring concern for an industry that demands focus and discipline in an increasingly technical job, often in stressful situations. In 2012, a well-regarded pilot with JetBlue, one of the airline's earliest employees, was physically restrained by passengers on a flight from New York to Las Vegas after displaying erratic behavior. In that case, the co-pilot locked the pilot out of the cabin and made an emergency landing in Amarillo, Tex. "Aircraft-assisted pilot suicides," as the Federal Aviation Administration calls them, are rare. They include the November 2013 crash of a Mozambique Airlines plane bound for Luanda, Angola, which bears an eerie resemblance to the Germanwings plane's demise. When the flight's co-pilot left to use the lavatory, the captain locked him out of the cockpit and manually steered the aircraft earthward. The crash of Egypt Airlines Flight 990 off Nantucket, Mass., in 1999, which killed all 217 people on board, was also caused by deliberate action, a National Transportation Safety Board investigation concluded. Experts on suicide say that the psychology of those who combine suicide with mass murder may differ in significant ways from those who limit themselves to taking their own lives.



US Air Force Overstepped In SpaceX Certification - Fri Mar 27 16:15:53 2015

Rambo Tribble writes: An internal review commissioned by Air Force Secretary Deborah James has concluded that Air Force personnel tasked with evaluating SpaceX's certification treated it as a design review, going so far as to dictate organizational changes in the company. This was judged contrary to the intention of promoting a competitive environment. The report, prepared by former Air Force Chief of Staff General Larry Welch, concluded, "The result to date has been ... the worst of all worlds, pressing the Falcon 9 commercially oriented approach into a comfortable government mold that eliminates or significantly reduces the expected benefits to the government of the commercial approach. Both teams need to adjust."


Github Under JS-Based "Greatfire" DDoS Attack, Allegedly From Chinese Government - Fri Mar 27 15:32:42 2015

An anonymous reader writes: During the past two days, popular code hosting site GitHub has been under a DDoS attack, which has led to intermittent service interruptions. As blogger Anthr@X reports from traceroute lists, the attack originated from MITM-modified JavaScript files for the Chinese company Baidu's user tracking code, changing the unencrypted content as it passed through the great firewall of China to request the URLs github.com/greatfire/ and github.com/cn-nytimes/. The Chinese government's dislike of widespread VPN usage may have caused it to arrange the attack, where only people accessing Baidu's services from outside the firewall would contribute to the DDoS. This wouldn't have been the first time China arranged this kind of "protest."


Quebec Plans To Require Website Blocking, Studies New Internet Access Tax - Fri Mar 27 14:50:47 2015

An anonymous reader writes: Michael Geist reports that the Government of Quebec released its budget (PDF) yesterday featuring two Internet-related measures that are sure to attract attention and possible litigation. First, it is moving forward with plans to study a new tax on residential Internet services in order to provide support for the cultural sector. Second, the government says it will be introducing a new law requiring ISPs to block access to online gambling sites. The list of blocked sites will be developed by Loto-Quebec, a government agency. The government views this as a revenue enhancing measure because it wants to channel gamblers to its own Espacejeux, the government's own online gaming site.


How Professional Russian Trolls Operate - Fri Mar 27 14:18:02 2015

New submitter SecState writes: Hundreds of full-time, well-paid trolls operate thousands of fake accounts to fill social media sites and comments threads with pro-Kremlin propaganda. A St. Petersburg blogger spent two months working 12-hour shifts in a "troll factory," targeting forums of Russian municipal websites. In an interview, he describes how he worked in teams with two other trolls to create false "debates" about Russian and international politics, with pro-Putin views always scoring the winning point. Of course, with the U.S. government invoking "state secrets" to dismiss a defamation case against the supposedly independent advocacy group United Against a Nuclear Iran, Americans also need to be asking how far is too far when it comes to masked government propaganda.


Facebook Successfully Tests Laser Internet Drones - Fri Mar 27 13:25:05 2015

rtoz writes: At its F8 conference in San Francisco, Facebook announced the first hardware it plans to use to beam the Internet down to billions of people around the world. Codenamed "Aquila," the solar-powered drone has a wingspan comparable to a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a small car. It will be powered by solar panels on its wings, and it will be able to stay at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet for months at a time. Facebook says it'll begin test flights this summer, with a broader rollout over the next several years. The drones were tested over the UK recently, and everything worked as expected.


Broadband ISP Betrayal Forces Homeowner To Sell New House - Fri Mar 27 12:52:20 2015

New submitter knightsirius writes: A Washington homeowner is having to sell his new house after being refused internet service from Comcast and CenturyLink despite receiving confirmation from both that the location was able to receive broadband service. The whole process took months and involved false assurances and bureaucratic convolutions. The national broadband map database frequently cited by Comcast as proof of sufficient competition lists 10 options at his location, including a gigabit municipal fiber network, but he cannot subscribe to it due to Washington state direct sale restrictions.


Big Vulnerability In Hotel Wi-Fi Router Puts Guests At Risk - Fri Mar 27 12:10:15 2015

An anonymous reader writes Guests at hundreds of hotels around the world are susceptible to serious hacks because of routers that many hotel chains depend on for their Wi-Fi networks. Researchers have discovered a vulnerability in the systems, which would allow an attacker to distribute malware to guests, monitor and record data sent over the network, and even possibly gain access to the hotel's reservation and keycard systems. The vulnerability, which was discovered by Justin W. Clarke of the security firm Cylance, gives attackers read-write access to the root file system of the ANTlabs devices. The discovery of the vulnerable systems was particularly interesting to them in light of an active hotel hacking campaign uncovered last year by researchers at Kaspersky Lab. In that campaign, which Kaspersky dubbed DarkHotel.


Amazon Announces Unlimited Cloud Storage Plans - Fri Mar 27 09:41:25 2015

An anonymous reader sends word that Amazon is now offering unlimited cloud storage plans to compete with Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. "Last year, Amazon gave a boost to its Prime members when it launched a free, unlimited photo storage for them on Cloud Drive. Today, the company is expanding that service as a paid offering to cover other kinds of content, and to users outside of its loyalty program. Unlimited Cloud Storage will let users get either unlimited photo storage or "unlimited everything" — covering all kinds of media from videos and music through to PDF documents — respectively for $11.99 or $59.99 per year."


Ordnance Survey Releases Mapping Tools - Fri Mar 27 07:13:01 2015

rHBa writes The BBC reports that the UK mapping organization Ordnance Survey has added 4 new products to its open data portfolio: OS Local, Names, Rivers and Roads. Perhaps the most interesting of the free data sets is OS Local which provides a base map to identify "hotspots" such as property pricing, insurance risk, and crime. The OS are not creating a new Google Maps-style service of their own but rather are providing their data for use by other third-party apps and online tools. They expect developers and designers to use the data to enhance their own products and improve the information people can access via the web.


Robobug: Scientists Clad Bacterium With Graphene To Make a Working Cytobot - Fri Mar 27 04:31:36 2015

Zothecula writes By cladding a living cell with graphene quantum dots, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) claim to have created a nanoscale biomicrorobot (or cytobot) that responds electrically to changes in its environment. This work promises to lay the foundations for future generations of bio-derived nanobots, biomicrorobotic-mechanisms, and micromechanical actuation for a wide range of applications. "UIC researchers created an electromechanical device — a humidity sensor — on a bacterial spore. They call it NERD, for Nano-Electro-Robotic Device. The report is online at Scientific Reports, a Nature open access journal."