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Updated: 51 min 46 sec ago

Design, Hardware, Software Error Doomed Japanese Hitomi Spacecraft

1 hour 21 min ago
Reader Required Snark writes: The Japanese space agency JAXA said its recently launched X-Ray observation satellite Hitomi has been destroyed. After a successful launch on February 17, contact with the satellite was lost on March 28. Off the 10-year expected life span, only three days of observations were collected. Preliminary inquiry points to multiple failures in design, hardware and software. After the launch it was discovered that the star tracker stabilization didn't work in a low magnetic flux area over the South Atlantic. When the backup gyroscopic spin stabilization took control, the spin increased instead of stopping. An internal magnetic limit feature in the gyroscope failed, causing the spin get worse. Finally, a thruster based control started, but because of a software failure the spin increased further. The solar panels broke off, leaving the satellite without a long-term power supply. It seems that untested software had been uploaded for thrust control just before the breakup. This is a major loss for astronomical research. Two previous attempts by Japan to launch a high-resolution X-ray calorimeter had also failed, and the next planned sensor of this type is not scheduled until 2028 by the ESA. Just building a replacement unit would take 3 to 5 years and cost $50 million, without the cost of a satellite or launch.

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Yahoo's Marissa Mayer In Line For $55M Severance If Fired Within A Year Of Sale

2 hours 21 min ago
whoever57 writes: A Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing on Friday revealed that Yahoo's board has agreed to a $55 million severance package for Marissa Mayer if she loses her job within a year of a sale. That's a lot of money for a chief executive who hasn't been able to keep Yahoo's stock from falling. In 2015, the value of Yahoo's stock fell by 33%. Worth noting: most of the money from the severance package is composed of restricted stock units and options -- there's only $3 million in cold hard cash. Also, Yahoo revealed Mayer received a significant pay cut last year. Her "reported pay" was $36 million, but her "realized pay" is closer to $14 million.

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Berkeley Researchers Examine Five Worst-Case Security Nightmares

3 hours 21 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Berkeley researchers have gamed out five worst-case security scenarios at their Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, calling it "a disciplined, imaginative approach to modeling what cybersecurity could mean in the future...to provoke a discussion about what the cybersecurity research and policy communities need to do now in order to be better positioned..." Two of the scenarios are set in 2020 -- one called "The New Normal" imagining a world were users assume their personal information can no longer be kept safe, and another involving the privacy and security implications in a world where hackers lurk undetected on a now-ubiquitous Internet of Things. "Our goal is to identify emerging issues that will become more important..." they write in an executive summary, including "issues on the table today that may become less salient or critical; and new issues that researchers and decision-makers a few years from now will have wished people in the research and policy communities had noticed -- and begun to act on -- earlier. Scenario #2 imagines a super-intelligent A.I. which can predict and even manipulate the behavior of individuals, and scenario #3 involves criminals exploiting valuable data sets -- and data scientists -- after an economic collapse.

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Slack To Disable Thousands of Logins Leaked on GitHub

4 hours 21 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Thursday one technology site reported that thousands of developers building bots for the team-collaboration tool Slack were exposing their login credentials in public GitHub repositories and tickets. "The irony is that a lot of these bots are mostly fun 'weekend projects', reported Detectify. "We saw examples of fit bots, reminding you to stretch throughout the day, quote bots, quoting both Jurassic Park...and Don Quixote...." Slack responded that they're now actively searching for publicly-posted login credentials, "and when we find any, we revoke the tokens and notify both the users who created them, as well as the owners of affected teams." Detectify notes the lapse in security had occurred at a wide variety of sites, including "Forbes 500 companies, payment providers, multiple internet service providers and health care providers... University classes at some of the world's best-known schools. Newspapers sharing their bots as part of stories. The list goes on and on..."

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Bison To Become First National Mammal Of The US

6 hours 50 min ago
mdsolar quotes a report from Washington Post: North America used to be teeming with bison. But in one century, their numbers plummeted from tens of millions to just a few dozen in the wild after hunters nearly wiped out the continent's largest mammals. Now, the bison is about to become the first national mammal of the United States. The National Bison Legacy Act, which designates the bison as the official mammal of the United States, passed the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Thursday. The legislation now heads to President Obama's desk to be signed into law. At a time of political gridlock and partisan bickering, lawmakers agree on an official national mammal. The bison, which will join the bald eagle as a national symbol, represents the country's first successful foray into wildlife conservation. Lobbying for the official mammal designation was a coalition of conservationists; ranchers, for whom bison are business; and tribal groups, such as the InterTribal Buffalo Council, which wants to "restore bison to Indian nations in a manner that is compatible with their spiritual and cultural beliefs and practices."

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Wireless Carriers To Adopt New Real-Time Text Protocol By December 2017

9 hours 50 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: The FCC is ready to adopt a proposal that'll bring a new protocol to wireless networks to help people with disabilities communicate. It's called real-time text (RTT) and will be a replacement for the aging teletypewriter devices that let users transmit text conversations over traditional phone lines. According to the FCC's statement, RTT will "allow Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech disabled or deaf-blind to use the same wireless communications devices as their friends, relatives and colleagues, and more seamlessly integrate into tomorrow's communications networks." The big differentiator for RTT over current, commonly-used text-based messaging systems is that RTT messages are sent immediately as they're typed. The RTT technology will let text users communicate with people on voice-based phones and vice versa; it can also work easily in your standard smartphone, eliminating the need for specialized equipment. The proposal calls for RTT to roll out over wireless networks run by "larger carriers" by December of 2017.

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Developer Installs Windows 95 On An Apple Watch

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 10:36pm
An anonymous reader writes: Developer Nick Lee has successfully installed Windows 95 on his Apple Watch. It works, but it runs very slow. For example, it takes about an hour for the OS to boot up. In a blog post, Lee points out the Apple Watch features specs capable of running the old OS. To get Windows 95 running on the Apple Watch, Lee had to modify Apple's development software in "rather unorthodox ways" that allowed him to turn the OS into a Watch app, which also emulates an environment for the OS to run on, he tells The Verge. To deal with the fact that Apple Watch's screen is always turning itself off when not in use, he set up a motorized tube that constantly turns the Watch's crown, preventing it from falling asleep. In addition, Lee altered the Watch's software to let Windows 95 track a single fingertip, hence the constant swiping in his video.

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White House Releases Report On How To Spur Smart-Gun Technology

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 9:24pm
Lucas123 writes: A report commissioned by the White House involving the Defense, Justice and Homeland Security Departments has begun a process to define, for the first time, the requirements that manufacturers would need to meet for federal, state, and municipal law enforcement agencies to consider purchasing firearms with "smart" safety technology. They've committed to completing that process by October, and will also identify agencies interested in taking part in a pilot program to develop the smart gun technology. The DoD will help manufacturers test smart guns under "real-world conditions" at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland. Manufacturers would be eligible to win cash prizes through that program as well. In addition to spurring the adoption of smart gun technology, the report stated that the Social Security Administration has published a proposed rule that would require individuals prohibited from buying a gun due to mental health issues to be included in a background check system.

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US Steel Says China Is Using Cyber Stealth To Steal Its Secrets

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 8:41pm
An anonymous reader writes: U.S. Steel Corp. filed a trade complaint with the International Trade Commission: "The Chinese industry has formed a cartel that sets purchase and sale prices, and controls production and export volumes to target export markets. The Chinese industry has used its government to steal U.S. Steel's closely guarded trade secrets and uses those trade secrets to produce advanced steel products it could not make on its own." The steelmaker based in Pittsburgh argues its Chinese rivals must be investigated and that they will "use every tool available to fight for fair trade." The ITC has 30 days to review the complaint and determine whether or not it's worth investigating. In the meantime, China's Commerce Ministry said the complaints "have no factual basis," urging the ITC to reject U.S. Steel's case. The investigation will likely take a while if the ITC decides to proceed with an investigation, as they'll be dealing with three separate issues: price fixing, false labeling to avoid duties, and theft of trade secrets.

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Devuan Releases Beta of Systemd-Free 'Debian Fork' Base System

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 7:57pm
jaromil writes: Devuan beta is released today, following up the Debian fork declaration and progress made during the past two years. Devuan now provides an alternative upgrade path to Debian, and switching is easy from both Wheezy and Jessie. From The Register: "Devuan came into being after a rebellion by a self-described 'Veteran Unix Admin collective' argued that Debian had betrayed its roots and was becoming too desktop-oriented. The item to which they objected most vigorously was the inclusion of the systemd bootloader. The rebels therefore decided to fork Debian and 'preserve Init freedom.' The group renamed itself and its distribution 'Devuan' and got work, promising a fork that looked, felt, and quacked like Debian in all regards other than imposing systemd as the default Init option."

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Billionaire Investor Carl Icahn Sells Entire Stake In Apple

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 7:13pm
An anonymous reader writes: Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn said he has sold his entire stake in Apple, citing the risk of China's influence on the stock. The report comes after Apple announced its first earnings decline in more than a decade, where Apple's revenue is dropping 26% year-over-year. Icahn is concerned with the barriers to trade that China's authoritarian regime might put in place. Icahn said he wasn't concerned with interference so much with the country's "relationship" with Apple. "The thing that I'm worried about here in China doesn't affect the whole market. I'm not talking about China's economic status right now. I'm talking about, could the thing with Apple escalate a little bit? And if that does, what does that mean to Apple's profits during the interim?" Icahn acquired a stake in the company almost three years ago, calling the investment a "no brainer." What caused him to sell his 45.8 million Apple shares (priced at $240 a share) was China's economic slowdown and worries about how China could become more prohibitive in doing business.

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Google Files Patent For Injecting A Device Directly Into Your Eyeball

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 6:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: It's no secret Google and their parent company Alphabet are interested in developing smart contact lenses for monitoring diabetes. Well, Google-parent Alphabet has filed a patent which takes their development to another level. The patent specifically covers a method for "injecting a fluid into a lens capsule of an eye, wherein a natural lens of the eye has been removed from the lens capsule." It's powered by "radio frequency energy" received by a small antenna inside. The gadget even has its own data storage. Forbes reports, it is designed to help the focusing of light onto the retina, resulting in the correction of poor vision. Samsung is one of the most recent companies to receive a patent for smart contact lenses. Their lenses are for experimenting with new methods of delivering augmented reality interfaces and data.

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Cable Industry Threatens To Sue If FCC Tries To Bring Competition To Cable Set Top Boxes

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 5:50pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Techdirt: Back in February the FCC voted on a new plan to open up the traditional cable box to competition. According to a fact sheet being circulated by the agency (pdf), under the FCC's plan you'd still pay your cable company for the exact same content, cable operators would simply have to design systems -- using standards and copy protection of their choice -- that delivered this content to third-party hardware. The FCC's goal is cheaper, better hardware and a shift away from the insular gatekeeper model the cable box has long protected. Given this would obliterate a $21 billion captive market in set top box rental fees -- and likely direct consumers to more third-party streaming services -- the cable industry has been engaged in an utterly adorable new hissy fit. And now, the industry is also threatening a lawsuit. Former FCC boss turned top cable lobbyist Michael Powell is arguing that the FCC has once again overstepped its regulatory authority: "An agency of limited jurisdiction has to act properly within that jurisdiction," Powell said, making it abundantly clear the NCTA does not believe the FCC has not done so in this case. He said that the statute empowers the FCC to create competition in navigation devices, not new services. "Every problem does not empower an FCC-directed solution. The agency is not an agency with unbridled plenary power to roam around markets and decide to go fix inconveniences everywhere they find them irrespective of the bounds of their authority."

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Rovi Acquires DVR Company TiVo For $1.1 Billion

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 5:20pm
Major Blud writes: TiVo, maker of one of the first consumer DVR's, has been purchased by IP powerhouse Rovi (formerly known as Macrovision) for $1.1 Billion. The combined company will go by the TiVo name. According to USA Today, "Shares of Rovi (ROVI) were up 3.7% to $17.99 in premarket trading. TiVo (TIVO) shares closed Thursday up 2% to $9.42." The combined company will reportedly hold more than 6,000 patents related to TV and video technology. Both Robi and TiVo represent a $3 billion entertainment technology company, with saving synergies of $100 million expected over the first year, the companies said.

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Intel Cuts Atom Chips, Basically Giving Up On Smartphone and Tablet Market

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 4:50pm
Intel, the marquee PC chipmaker, has long struggled to get a foothold in the smartphone market. The company, which was late in joining the mobile platform, is still playing catchup with Qualcomm and MediaTek. And it appears it's finally giving up on this ambition. The company is "immediately canceling" Atom chips, code-named Sofia and Broxton, for mobile devices, reports PCWorld, citing a company's spokesperson. The publication reports:Intel's mobile chip roadmap now has a giant hole after the cancellation of the chips. Intel's existing smartphone and tablet-only chips are aging and due for upgrades, and no major replacements are in sight. Sofia is already shipping, and Broxton was due to ship this year but had been delayed. Intel is also discontinuing its Atom X5 line of tablet chips code-named Cherry Trail, which is being replaced by Pentium and Celeron chips code-named Apollo Lake, aimed more at hybrids than pure tablets. Many PC makers are already choosing Intel's Skylake Core M processors over Cherry Trail for hybrids and PC-like tablets.The announcement comes days after its CEO outlined the company's future vision, and a week after the chipmaker let go 12,000 people.

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One US Oil Field a Key Culprit In Global Ethane Gas Increase

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 4:10pm
An anonymous reader writes: According to scientists, a single U.S. shale oil field is responsible for much of the past decade's increase in global atmospheric levels of ethane, a gas that can damage air quality and impact climate. The Bakken Formation, an oil and gas field in North Dakota and Montana is spewing nearly 2% of the globe's ethane. That translates to about 250,000 tons each year. "Two percent might not sound like a lot, but the emissions we observed in this single region are 10 to 100 times larger than reported in inventories. They directly impact air quality across North America. And they're sufficient to explain much of the global shift in ethane concentrations," said Eric Kort, U-M assistant professor of climate and space sciences and engineering.The Washington Post has more details (paywalled; alternatively you can read this Gizmodo report)

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FBI Bought $1M iPhone 5C Hack, But Doesn't Know How It Works

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 3:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: The FBI has no idea how the hack used in unlocking the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5C works, but it paid a sum less than $1m for the mechanism, according to a report. Reuters, citing several U.S. government sources, note that the government intelligence agency didn't pay a value over $1.3m for purchasing the hack from professional hackers, as previously reported by many outlets. The technique can also be used as many times as needed without further payments, the report adds. The FBI director, James Comey, said last week that the agency paid more to get into the iPhone 5C than he will make in the remaining seven years and four months he has in his job, suggesting the hack cost more than $1.3m, based on his annual salary.

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Slashdot Asks: What's Your View On Benchmark Apps?

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 2:48pm
There's no doubt that benchmark apps help you evaluate different aspects of a product, but do they paint a complete picture? Should we utterly rely on benchmark apps to assess the performance and quality of a product or service? Vlad Savov of The Verge makes an interesting point. He notes that DxOMark (a hugely popular benchmark app for testing a camera) rating of HTC 10's camera sensor is equal to that of Samsung's Galaxy S7, however, in real life shooting, the Galaxy S7's shooter offers a far superior result. "I've used both extensively and I can tell you that's simply not the case -- the S7 is outstanding whereas the 10 is merely good." He offers another example: If a laptop or a phone does well in a web-browsing battery benchmark, that only gives an indication that it would probably fare decently when handling bigger workloads too. But not always. My good friend Anand Shimpi, formerly of AnandTech, once articulated this very well by pointing out how the MacBook Pro had better battery life than the MacBook Air -- which was hailed as the endurance champ -- when the use changed to consistently heavy workloads. The Pro was more efficient in that scenario, but most battery tests aren't sophisticated or dynamic enough to account for that nuance. It takes a person running multiple tests, analyzing the data, and adding context and understanding to achieve the highest degree of certainty. The problem is -- more often than not -- gadget reviewers treat these values as the most important signal when judging a product, which in turn, also influences several readers' opinion. What's your take on this?

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Categories: Geek News

Slashdot Asks: What's Your View On Benchmark Tools?

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 2:48pm
There's no doubt that benchmark tools help you evaluate different aspects of a product, but do they paint a complete picture? Should we utterly rely on benchmark tools to assess the performance and quality of a product or service? Vlad Savov of The Verge makes an interesting point. He notes that DxOMark (a hugely popular benchmark tool for testing a camera) rating of HTC 10's camera sensor is equal to that of Samsung's Galaxy S7, however, in real life shooting, the Galaxy S7's shooter offers a far superior result. "I've used both extensively and I can tell you that's simply not the case -- the S7 is outstanding whereas the 10 is merely good." He offers another example: If a laptop or a phone does well in a web-browsing battery benchmark, that only gives an indication that it would probably fare decently when handling bigger workloads too. But not always. My good friend Anand Shimpi, formerly of AnandTech, once articulated this very well by pointing out how the MacBook Pro had better battery life than the MacBook Air -- which was hailed as the endurance champ -- when the use changed to consistently heavy workloads. The Pro was more efficient in that scenario, but most battery tests aren't sophisticated or dynamic enough to account for that nuance. It takes a person running multiple tests, analyzing the data, and adding context and understanding to achieve the highest degree of certainty. The problem is -- more often than not -- gadget reviewers treat these values as the most important signal when judging a product, which in turn, also influences several readers' opinion. What's your take on this?

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Weasel Apparently Shuts Down World's Most Powerful Particle Collider

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 2:07pm
New reader mjnhbg1088 cites an article on NPR: A small mammal has sabotaged the world's most powerful scientific instrument. The Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile superconducting machine designed to smash protons together at close to the speed of light, went offline overnight. Engineers investigating the mishap found the charred remains of a furry creature near a gnawed-through power cable. "We had electrical problems, and we are pretty sure this was caused by a small animal," says Arnaud Marsollier, head of press for CERN, the organization that runs the $7 billion particle collider in Switzerland. Although they had not conducted a thorough analysis of the remains, Marsollier says they believe the creature was "a weasel, probably." The shutdown comes as the LHC was preparing to collect new data on the Higgs Boson, a fundamental particle it discovered in 2012. The Higgs is believed to endow other particles with mass, and it is considered to be a cornerstone of the modern theory of particle physics. CERN says the creature may have been a marten.

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