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Updated: 18 min 19 sec ago

Buzz Aldrin Publishes Moon Expenses Form

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 11:28pm
An anonymous reader writes: Proving once again that the government has a form for everything, Buzz Aldrin has unveiled his Apollo 11 documentation on social media over the past few days, including a travel voucher detailing his expenses on his trip to the moon. The papers listed him as having been on a "work trip" from his home in Houston, Texas that had taken him to the moon and then back again with a total expenses claim of just $33.31. The report notes : "Government meals and quarters [were] furnished for all of the above dates."

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India Blocks Over 800 Adult Websites

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 9:00pm
William Robinson writes: The government of India has blocked over 800 adult websites through a secret order. “Free and open access to porn websites has been brought under check,” N.N. Kaul, a spokesman at the department of telecommunications said. “We don’t want them to become a social nuisance.” The ban has provoked debates in the country about extreme and unwarranted moral policing by the government. The action came after the Supreme Court of India had refused to ban porn sites in India.

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Lessons From Your Toughest Software Bugs

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 7:17pm
Nerval's Lobster writes: Most programmers experience some tough bugs in their careers, but only occasionally do they encounter something truly memorable. In developer David Bolton's new posting, he discusses the bugs that he still remembers years later. One messed up the figures for a day's worth of oil trading by $800 million. ('The code was correct, but the exception happened because a new financial instrument being traded had a zero value for "number of days," and nobody had told us,' he writes.) Another program kept shutting down because a professor working on the project decided to sneak in and do a little DIY coding. While care and testing can sometimes allow you to snuff out serious bugs before they occur, some truly spectacular ones occasionally end up in the release... despite your best efforts.

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Counterterrorism Expert: It's Time To Give Companies Offensive Cybercapabilities

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 6:35pm
itwbennett writes: Juan Zarate, the former deputy national security advisor for counterterrorism during President George W. Bush's administration says the U.S. government should should consider allowing businesses to develop 'tailored hack-back capabilities,' deputizing them to strike back against cyberattackers. The government could issue cyberwarrants, giving a private company license 'to protect its system, to go and destroy data that's been stolen or maybe even something more aggressive,' Zarate said Monday at a forum on economic and cyberespionage hosted by think tank the Hudson Institute.

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Obama Unveils Major Climate Change Proposal

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 5:52pm
An anonymous reader writes: Two years in the making, President Obama formally unveiled his plan to cut power plant emissions today, calling it the "single most important step that America has ever made in the fight against global climate change." The "Clean Power Plan" includes the first ever EPA standards on carbon pollution from power plants. CNN reports: "Under the plan, the administration will require states to meet specific carbon emission reduction standards, based on their individual energy consumption. The plan also includes an incentive program for states to get a head start on meeting standards on early deployment of renewable energy and low-income energy efficiency."

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FirefoxOS-Based Matchstick Project Ends; All Money To Be Refunded

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 5:09pm
Kohenkatz writes: Matchstick, a project built on FirefoxOS that aimed to compete with Google's Chromecast, which was initially funded on Kickstarter, is shutting down and will be refunding all pledges. In a post to Kickstarter backers today, they announced that this decision was due to the difficulty of implementing the DRM components that are necessary for access to a lot of paid content. Rather than drag out the project on an unknown schedule, they have decided to end the project.

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Microsoft Creates a Quantum Computer-Proof Version of TLS Encryption Protocol

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 4:25pm
holy_calamity writes: When (or if) quantum computers become practical they will make existing forms of encryption useless. But now researchers at Microsoft say they have made a quantum-proof version of the TLS encryption protocol we could use to keep online data secure in the quantum computing era. It is based on a mathematical problem very difficult for both conventional and quantum computers to crack. That tougher math means data moved about 20 percent slower in comparisons with conventional TLS, but Microsoft says the design could be practical if properly tuned up for use in the real world.

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Privacy Alert: Your Laptop Or Phone Battery Could Track You Online

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 3:42pm
Mark Wilson writes: Is the battery in your smartphone being used to track your online activities? It might seem unlikely, but it's not quite as farfetched as you might first think. This is not a case of malware or hacking, but a built-in component of the HTML5 specification. Originally designed to help reduce power consumption, the Battery Status API makes it possible for websites and apps to monitor the battery level of laptops, tablets, and phones. A paper published by a team of security researchers suggests that this represents a huge privacy risk. Using little more than the amount of power remaining in your battery, it is possible for people to be identified and tracked online. As reported by The Guardian, a paper entitled The Leaking Battery by Belgian and French privacy and security experts say that the API can be used in device fingerprinting.

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EFF Coalition Announces New 'Do Not Track' Standard For Web Browsing

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 3:00pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation, privacy company Disconnect, and several other organizations are publishing a new DNT standard. Partners in the coalition include: publishing site Medium, analytics service Mixpanel, AdBlock, and private search engine DuckDuckGo. Thought it's still a voluntary policy, the EFF hopes the new proposed standard will provide users better privacy online. "We are greatly pleased that so many important Web services are committed to this powerful new implementation of Do Not Track, giving their users a clear opt-out from stealthy online tracking and the exploitation of their reading history," said EFF Chief Computer Scientist Peter Eckersley. "These companies understand that clear and fair practices around analytics and advertising are essential not only for privacy but for the future of online commerce."

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Apple Testing Service That Allows Siri to Answer Calls and Transcribe Voicemail

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 2:18pm
An anonymous reader writes: Apple is reportedly testing a new feature which would allow Siri to answer your calls and then transcribe the voicemails as text messages. The iCloud service would then send users the text of that transcribed voicemail. Apple employees are testing a voicemail service currently and a public release isn't expected until sometime in 2016 in iOS10.

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Soylent 2.0 Comes Bottled and Ready To Drink

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 1:35pm
An anonymous reader writes: Soylent has announced today their latest product, Soylent 2.0. It comes premixed and ready to drink in recyclable bottles. Each bottle is one fifth of a scientifically balanced daily meal plan, will last up to a year unrefrigerated, and will cost you $2.42. A Soylent blog post reads in part: "Not only are its ingredients vegan, Soylent 2.0 reaches an unprecedented level of environmental sustainability with half of its fat energy coming from farm-free, algae sources. This next generation agricultural technology has the potential to reduce the ecological impact of food production by orders of magnitude, signifying a major step towards a future of abundance, a world where optimal nutrition is the new normal."

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Clinton Plan To Power Every US Home With Renewables By 2027 Is Achievable

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 12:52pm
Lucas123 writes: As part of her campaign pledge, Hillary Clinton has said she would make it a priority in her first term to increase the number of solar panels by 500M and U.S. installed solar capacity from 21 gigawatts (GW) today to 140GW by the end of 2020. Her plan, is to increase solar, wind and other renewables so that they'd provide 33% of America's electricity by 2027, enough to power every home. While the plan may sound overly ambitious, experts say, it's not. Today, renewables provide about 15% of America's power. Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM Research, said the Clinton's renewable energy goal is doable, but with caveats. In order to achieve the goal, current programs, such as federal tax breaks for solar installations (set to expire next year), must continue and future initiatives, such as Obama's Clean Power Plan that will begin in 2018, must not be curtailed. Considering that if elected, Clinton wouldn't take office until 2017, the her campaign goals could be more bravado than reality. Clinton, however, is not alone. While most candidates have yet to announce their clean energy plans, Clinton's Democratic contender, Martin O'Malley, also came out with strong support for the end of fossil fuel use and a full clean energy economy by 2050, and creating a national goal of doubling energy efficiency within 15 years.

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Leading the Computer Revolution In a Totalitarian State

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 12:09pm
szczys writes: How do you enter the information age when computers, and the components that go into them, are embargoed by other countries and imports of any value are restricted by your own? This and a myriad of other barriers didn't stop Voja Antonic from building his own computers and teaching others how to do so during the 70s, 80s, 90s, and beyond. He managed to get a TRS-80 into Yugoslavia by having a friend cut the cables between the two boards and send them separately to avoid getting caught in customs. He bootstrapped his own personal computer and published the plans in the country's first computer magazine. It was built by over 8000 people. Check out these stories and his experience of living in the Eastern Bloc and through the war in '90s, all while continuing to build and promote computers in what is now Serbia.

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Researchers Create Mac "Firmworm" That Spreads Via Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapters

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 11:27am
BIOS4breakfast writes: Wired reports that later this week at BlackHat and Defcon, Trammell Hudson will show the Thunderstrike 2 update to his Thunderstrike attack on Mac firmware (previously covered on Slashdot). Trammell teamed up with Xeno Kovah and Corey Kallenberg from LegbaCore, who have previously shown numerous exploits for PC firmware. They found multiple vulnerabilities that were already publicly disclosed were still present in Mac firmware. This allows a remote attacker to break into the Mac over the network, and infect its firmware. The infected firmware can then infect Apple Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapters' PCI Option ROM. And then those adapters can infect the firmware of any Mac they are plugged into — hence creating the self-propagating Thunderstrike 2 "firmworm." Unlike worms like Stuxnet, it never exists on the filesystem, it only ever lives in firmware (which no one ever checks.) A video showing the proof of concept attack is posted on YouTube.

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Inside the Failure of Google+

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 10:44am
An anonymous reader writes: An article at Mashable walks through the rise and fall of Google+, from the company's worries of being displaced by Facebook to their eventual realization that Google services don't need social hooks. There are quotes from a number of employees and insiders, who mostly agree that the company didn't have the agility to build something so different from their previous services. "Most Google projects started small and grew organically in scale and importance. Buzz, the immediate predecessor to Plus, had barely a dozen people on staff. Plus, by comparison, had upwards of 1,000, sucked up from divisions across the company." Despite early data indicating users just weren't interested in Google+, management pushed for success as the only option. One employee said, "The belief was that we were always just one weird feature away from the thing taking off." Despite a strong feature set, there was no acknowledgment that to beat Facebook, you had to overcome the fact that everybody was already on Facebook.

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Pictures of a Comet From 9 Meters Away

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 10:02am
An anonymous reader writes: Back in November, the European Space Agency triumphantly put a lander on the surface of a comet and then tragically lost contact with it when it failed to anchor and couldn't harvest enough energy to stay operational. In June, the lander awoke and for a short time was able to send more data back. Now the ESA has published a bunch of pictures and scientific papers about the data gleaned from Philae's short windows of activity, including images of its descent to the surface. Phil Plait summarizes and analyzes the release. The most impressive image is from a mere 9 meters over the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. An animated gif shows the lander's descent near the surface through a handful of pictures. Two shots of the same area from the Rosetta probe show where Philae bounced off the surface, ejecting an estimated 180kg of material in the process. It's a fascinating, close-up look at a very distant and unusual world.

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The Web We Have To Save

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 9:19am
An anonymous reader writes: Hossein Derakhshan endured a six-year prison term in Iran for doing something most of us would take for granted: running a blog. He has a unique perspective — he was heavily involved in internet culture, becoming known as Iran's "blogfather," before suddenly being completely shut off from the online world in 2008. Seven months ago, he was released. When he got settled, he took up his old work of blogging, but was surprised by how much the web has changed in just a few years. Now he decries our reliance on monolithic social streams that prioritize image and meme sharing over the thing that makes the web the web: links. "The hyperlink represented the open, interconnected spirit of the world wide web—a vision that started with its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee. The hyperlink was a way to abandon centralization—all the links, lines and hierarchies—and replace them with something more distributed, a system of nodes and networks. Blogs gave form to that spirit of decentralization: They were windows into lives you'd rarely know much about; bridges that connected different lives to each other and thereby changed them. ... Since I got out of jail, though, I've realized how much the hyperlink has been devalued, almost made obsolete."

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Tiny Black Holes Could Trigger Collapse of Universe—Except That They Don't

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 8:37am
sciencehabit writes: If you like classic two-for-one monster movies such as King Kong vs. Godzilla, then a new paper combining two bêtes noires of pseudoscientific scaremongers—mini black holes and the collapse of the vacuum—may appeal to you. Physicists working with the world's biggest atom-smasher—Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—have had to reassure the public that, even if they can make them, mini black holes, infinitesimal version of the ones that form when jumbo stars implode, won't consume the planet. They've also had to dispel fears that blasting out a particle called the Higgs boson will cause the vacuum of empty space to collapse. Now, however, three theorists calculate that in a chain reaction, a mini black hole could trigger such collapse after all.

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Nokia's HERE Maps Sold For $3.2 Billion To Audi, BMW and Daimler

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 7:54am
vivaoporto writes: Nokia announced an agreement to sell its HERE digital mapping and location services business to a consortium of leading automotive companies, comprising AUDI AG, BMW Group and Daimler AG (Mercedes brand owner). The transaction values HERE at €2.8 billion ($3.2 billion) with a normalized level of working capital, and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Once the mapping unit is sold, Nokia will consist of two businesses: Nokia Networks and Nokia Technologies. The first will continue to provide broadband services and infrastructure while the second will work on "advanced technology development and licensing." Reader jppiiroinen notes that Nokia originally acquired digital mapping provider Navteq in 2007 for $8.1 billion. Once it merged with Nokia, it became the foundation of Nokia's HERE unit.

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CollegeBoard: Analyses of CS Study Benefits Shouldn't Be Interpreted As Causal

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 7:12am
theodp writes: Code.org, backed by some of tech's wealthiest individuals and their companies, is this close to getting computer science declared a 'core subject' in K-12 public schools. So, when the non-profit recently asked CollegeBoard for more evidence that learning computer science is linked to improved learning in other subjects, it must have been disheartened by the study results. "The purpose of this brief note," wrote the CollegeBoard, "is to document some exploratory analyses linking participation in AP Computer Science to subsequent performance in SAT Mathematics and AP Calculus and Statistics. None of these analyses should be interpreted as causal. Although there appears to be a relationship between AP CS participation and subsequent outcomes, it is highly likely that this is the result of one or more omitted and confounding characteristics of students that are not able to be controlled for given this research design."

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