By EditorDavid from Slashdot's before-the-black-box department
This week the BBC told the remarkable story of the man who invented the "black box" flight recorders -- and of all the resistance he enountered along the way.
dryriver shared this summary:
In 1934, a passenger plane name Miss Hobart crashed into the sea off the coast of Australia. Among those killed was Anglican missionairy Rev Hubert Warren, whose last gift to his 8 year old son David had been a crystal radio set.
Young David Warren spent hours a day tinkering with the radio, eventually learning enough electronics engineering to build his own radios and sell them to other people. David Warren later grew to be a Rocket Scientist working for Australia's Aeronautical Research Laboratories. In 1953, the department loaned him to an expert panel trying to solve a costly and distressing mystery: why did the British de Havilland Comet, the world's first commercial jet airliner and the great hope of the new Jet Age, keep crashing? David Warren was confronted with a daunting problem -- how to determine from heavily deformed crashed plane fragments what had happened to the plane while it was in the air... Warren had an interesting idea -- what if every plane in the sky had a mini recorder in the cockpit...?
Warren's superior did not approve of the idea and told him to stick to chemicals and fuels.
When Warren got a new boss, the new boss was more sympathetic, but told him to do the R&D for it in complete secrecy. Since it wasn't a government-approved venture or a war-winning weapon, it couldn't be seen to take up lab time or money. "If I find you talking to anyone, including me, about this matter, I will have to sack you." When Warren first floated the idea of a cockpit recorder publicly, the pilots' union responded with fury, branding the recorder a snooping device, and insisted "no plane would take off in Australia with Big Brother listening."
Undeterred, Warren took to his garage and invented the first "Black Box" flight recorder.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's giant-leaps-for-mankind department
It's exactly one half century from that moment in time when men first walked on the moon, writes NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
"Today, on the golden anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, NASA looks back with heartfelt gratitude for the Apollo generation's trailblazing courage as we -- the Artemis generation -- prepare to take humanity's next giant leap to Mars."
The lethargic lull of scientific fatalism afflicted portions of America then as it sometimes does today. There is nothing inevitable about scientific discovery nor is there a predetermined path of cutting-edge innovation. Long hours of arduous study and experimentation are required merely to glimpse a flicker of enlightenment that can lead to greater heights of human achievement...
The Apollo program hastened ground-breaking technological advancements that continue to bestow benefits to modern civilization today. Flame resistant textiles, water purification systems, cordless tools, more effective dialysis machines and improvements to food preservation and medicine are just some of the innovative wonders generated during that era. Furthermore, NASA's utilization of integrated circuits on silicon chips aboard the lunar module's computer unit helped jumpstart the budding computer industry into the massive enterprise it is today. Perhaps the most enduring legacy of the Apollo missions was their ability to inspire young Americans across the country to join science, technology, engineering and math related fields of study...
After more than 50 years, the benefits of human space exploration to humanity are clear. By proud example, the Apollo program taught us we cannot venture aimlessly into the uncharted territory of future discovery merely hoping to happen upon greater advancement. Technological progress is a deliberate choice made by investing in missions that will expand our limits of understanding and capability...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's don't-bug-me department
"Everyone knows security needs to be baked into the development lifecycle, but that doesn't mean it is," writes ZDNet, reporting on a new survey they say showed that "long-standing friction between security and development teams remain."
The results came from GitLab's "2019 Global Developer Report: DevSecOps" survey of over 4,000 software professionals.
Nearly half of security pros surveyed, 49%, said they struggle to get developers to make remediation of vulnerabilities a priority. Worse still, 68% of security professionals feel fewer than half of developers can spot security vulnerabilities later in the life cycle. Roughly half of security professionals said they most often found bugs after code is merged in a test environment.
At the same time, nearly 70% of developers said that while they are expected to write secure code, they get little guidance or help. One disgruntled programmer said, "It's a mess, no standardization, most of my work has never had a security scan." Another problem is it seems many companies don't take security seriously enough. Nearly 44% of those surveyed reported that they're not judged on their security vulnerabilities.
ZDNet also cites Linus Torvalds' remarks on the Linux kernel mailing list in 2017, complaining about how security people celebrate when code is hardened against an invalid access. "[F]rom a developer standpoint, things really are not done. Not even close. From a developer standpoint, the bad access was just a symptom, and it needs to be reported, and debugged, and fixed, so that the bug actually gets corrected. So from a developer standpoint, the end point of hardening is just the starting point, and when you think you're done, we're really only getting started."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's stopping-at-Starbucks department
An anonymous reader quotes the Atlantic:
Suze Orman wants young people to stop "peeing" away millions of dollars on coffee. Last month, the personal-finance celebrity ignited a controversy on social media when a video she starred in for CNBC targeted a familiar villain: kids these days and their silly $5 lattes. Because brewing coffee at home is less expensive, Orman argued, purchasing it elsewhere is tantamount to flushing money away, which makes it a worthy symbol of Millennials' squandered resources...
In the face of coffee shaming, young people usually point to things like student loans and housing prices as the true source of the generation's instability, not their $100-a-month cold-brew habits... Orman and her compatriots now receive widespread pushback when denigrating coffee aficionados, a change that reflects the shifting intergenerational tensions that are frequently a feature of the post-Great Recession personal-finance genre. The industry posits that many of the sweeping generational trends affecting Americans' personal stability -- student-loan debt, housing insecurity, the precarity of the gig economy -- are actually the fault of modernity's encouragement of undisciplined individual largesse. In reality, those phenomena are largely the province of Baby Boomers, whose policies set future generations on a much tougher road than their own. With every passing year, it becomes harder to sell the idea that the problems are simply with each American as a person, instead of with the system they live in. "There's a reason for this blame-the-victim talk" in personal-finance advice, the journalist Helaine Olen wrote recently. "It lets society off the hook. Instead of getting angry at the economics of our second gilded age, many end up furious with themselves."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's vulnerable-voting department
"Microsoft on Wednesday announced that it would give away software designed to improve the security of American voting machines," reports NBC News.
Microsoft also said its AccountGuard service has already spotted 781 cyberattacks by foreign adversaries targeting political organizations -- 95% of which were located in the U.S.
The company said it was rolling out the free, open-source software product called ElectionGuard, which it said uses encryption to "enable a new era of secure, verifiable voting." The company is working with election machine vendors and local governments to deploy the system in a pilot program for the 2020 election. The system uses an encrypted tracking code to allow a voter to verify that his or her vote has been recorded and has not been tampered with, Microsoft said in a blog post...
Edward Perez, an election security expert with the independent Open Source Election Technology Institute, said Microsoft's move signals that voting systems, long a technology backwater, are finally receiving attention from the county's leading technical minds. "We think that it's good when a technology provider as significant as Microsoft is stepping into something as nationally important as election security," Perez told NBC News. "ElectionGuard does provide verification and it can help to detect attacks. It's important to note that detection is different from prevention."
Microsoft also said its notified nearly 10,000 customers that they've been targeted or compromised by nation-state cyberattacks, according to the article -- mostly from Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
"While many of these attacks are unrelated to the democratic process," Microsoft said in a blog post, "this data demonstrates the significant extent to which nation-states continue to rely on cyberattacks as a tool to gain intelligence, influence geopolitics, or achieve other objectives."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Mario-where-are-you department
It was the best-selling game of June, with IGN calling it "the most accessible game design tool ever created, and that core is just one part of a greater whole..."
Since its launch three weeks ago, fans have already built over 2 million custom stages, NPR notes -- but the real news is that Super Mario Maker 2 finally represents a shift in Nintendo's attitude towards its fan community:
It's Nintendo's reliance on the creative spirit of these dedicated players that makes the Super Mario Maker series such a quietly radical property within the Nintendo canon... By loosening its grip on a beloved property and tossing the keys to the player community, Nintendo feeds into the fan-obsessive tendencies they've previously refused. With the Super Mario Maker series, Nintendo acknowledges the history of competitive speedrunning, tournament play, and even the masochistic fan games that have made their games visible and interesting in an entirely different way. It's the rare Nintendo game that is depending on those players, creators, and spectators to keep it alive. Super Mario Maker 2 has only been out for a few weeks, but already we've seen how the game's deceptively complex course editor has led to the community making some astounding levels...
Nintendo has always been old-school in the way they rely on offline experiences, downplaying the kind of online communities that other developers prioritize. Ironically, it is that indifference that has made fan communities formed around Nintendo games feel singular and special -- they're smaller, more intimate, and regulated by the players themselves. With the Super Mario Maker franchise, Nintendo finally acknowledges the power and influence of its most obsessive fans -- by creating something that couldn't thrive without them.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's it's-only-a-dark-matter-wound department
sciencehabit shared this article from Science magazine:
Dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up most of the mass of the universe, has proved notoriously hard to detect. But scientists have now proposed a surprising new sensor: human flesh. The idea boils down to this: If a certain type of dark matter particle existed, it would occasionally kill people, passing through them like a bullet. Because no one has died from unexplained gunshot-like wounds, this type of dark matter does not exist, according to a new study... [It's title? "Death by Dark Matter."]
This experiment doesn't rule out heavy macro dark matter altogether, says Robert Scherrer, a co-author and theoretical physicist at Vanderbilt University. It merely eliminates a certain range of them. Heavier macro dark matter would not occur frequently enough to measure, notes Katherine Freese, a theoretical physicist at the University of Michigan, and other forms wouldn't kill people. "There is probably still room for very heavy dark matter," says Paolo Gorla, a particle physicist at Italy's underground Gran Sasso National Laboratory, who is not involved with the study.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's peekaboo-I-see-you department
A contractor for Russia's intelligence agency suffered a breach, revealing projects they were pursuing -- including one to deanonymize Tor traffic.
An anonymous reader shared this report from ZDNet:
The breach took place last weekend, on July 13, when a group of hackers going by the name of 0v1ru$ hacked into SyTech's Active Directory server from where they gained access to the company's entire IT network, including a JIRA instance. Hackers stole 7.5TB of data from the contractor's network, and they defaced the company's website with a "yoba face," an emoji popular with Russian users that stands for "trolling..." Per the different reports in Russian media, the files indicate that SyTech had worked since 2009 on a multitude of projects.
In February ZDNet reported that Russia disconnected itself from the rest of the internet in a test -- and suggests today that it was a real-world test of one of these leaked "secret projects" from the Russian intelligence agency. But the other projects include:
Nautilus-S - a project for deanonymizing Tor traffic with the help of rogue Tor servers. Nautilus - a project for collecting data about social media users (such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn). Reward - a project to covertly penetrate P2P networks, like the one used for torrents. Mentor - a project to monitor and search email communications on the servers of Russian companies. Tax-3 - a project for the creation of a closed intranet to store the information of highly-sensitive state figures, judges, and local administration officials, separate from the rest of the state's IT networks.
ZDNet also reports that the Tor-deanonymizing project, started in 2012, "appears to have been tested in the real world," citing a 2014 paper which found 18 malicious Tor exit nodes located in Russia.
Each of those hostile Russian exit nodes used version 0.2.2.37 of Tor -- the same one described in these leaked files.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's streaming-sandworms department
An anonymous reader quotes Android Authority:
Studios like Disney and NBCUniversal are making preparations to launch their own streaming services, and they are planning to take back their back catalog of films and TV series with them. That's also what's happening with WarnerMedia, the AT&T-owned entertainment group that operates, among many other things, HBO, Warner Bros, and CNN. Recently, the conglomerate announced its own upcoming dedicated streaming service, HBO Max... Unconfirmed reports from Hollywood trade news outlets claim that HBO Max will cost between $16 and $17 a month. The service will be ad-free, although some reports have indicated that WarnerMedia might launch an ad-supported version of HBO Max at some point after the official launch in 2020. If that happens, it's likely the cost to sign up will be much less...
While HBO Max will have quite a lot for subscribers to watch from WarnerMedia's library of content, it will have its own range of original TV shows and movies that will be found exclusively on the streaming service. They will be known as Max Originals. Here's what has been announced for HBO Max so far, which includes a couple of spin-offs from current and upcoming Warner Bros. series:
Dune: The Sisterhood: Based on the classic Dune sci-fi novels by Frank Herbert, this 10-part series will focus on the Bene Gesserit group of women in this universe. Denis Villeneuve, who is directing the upcoming feature film adaptation of Dune, will also direct the pilot episode of the series.
Gremlins -- The Animated Series: The mischievous and destructive creatures from the two Gremlins feature films will return as an animated series on HBO Max...
A beta version of the service may launch before the end of 2019, according to Deadline.
The studio's announcement also promised that HBO Max woud also include previously-announced HBO programs, including:
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I'll-be-seeing-you department
"Fight For the Future, a tech-focused nonprofit, on Thursday released its Ban Facial Recognition map, logging the states and cities using surveillance technology," reports CNET -- noting that "surveillance technology" in this case includes Amazon's Ring doorbell security cameras.
A CNET investigation earlier this year highlighted the close ties between Ring and police departments across the US, many of which offer free or discounted Ring doorbells using taxpayer money. The cameras have helped police create an easily accessible surveillance network in neighborhoods and allowed law enforcement to request videos through an app. The arrangement has critics worried about the erosion of privacy. Until the release of Fight for the Future's map, there was no comprehensive directory of all the police departments that had partnered with Ring. Now you can find them by going on the map and toggling it to "Police (Local)." It lists more than 40 cities where police have partnered with Amazon for Ring doorbells....
The map is far from complete. Police departments aren't always up front about the technology that they're using. On the interactive map, Fight for the Future asked visitors to send it any new entries to add to the map.... The map also has filters for airports, stores and stadiums that are using facial recognition, as well as states that provide driver's license photos to the FBI's database of faces... .
Fight for the Future's map also features a filter for regions where facial recognition use by government is banned. For now, that's only in San Francisco; Somerville, Massachusetts; and Oakland, California.
The group's deputy director told CNET that the map's goal is allowing people "to turn their ambient anxiety into effective action by pushing at the local and state level to ban this dangerous tech.
"No amount of regulation will fix the threat posed by facial recognition," he added. "It must be banned."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's cutting-calories department
The New York Times reports positive results from the first major clinical study of caloric restriction (funded by America's National Institutes of Health) in which 143 healthy volunteers ate (on average) 300 calories less each day:
They lost weight and body fat. Their cholesterol levels improved, their blood pressure fell slightly, and they had better blood sugar control and less inflammation. At the same time, a control group of 75 healthy people who did not practice caloric restriction saw no improvements in any of these markers. Some of the benefits in the calorie restricted group stemmed from the fact that they lost a large amount of weight, on average about 16 pounds over the two years of the study. But the extent to which their metabolic health got better was greater than would have been expected from weight loss alone, suggesting that caloric restriction might have some unique biological effects on disease pathways in the body, said William Kraus, the lead author of the study and a professor of medicine and cardiology at Duke University.
"We weren't surprised that there were changes," he said. "But the magnitude was rather astounding. In a disease population, there aren't five drugs in combination that would cause this aggregate of an improvement...." The researchers looked at measures of quality of life and discovered that the calorie-restricted group reported better sleep, increased energy and improved mood.... One question the study could not answer was whether caloric restriction could extend life span in humans the way that it can in other animals... But ultimately, caloric restriction did have a beneficial impact on a wide range of risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, two conditions that cause death and disability for millions of Americans, especially as they get older.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I-am-the-walrus-operator department
An anonymous reader quotes LWN:
Python 3.8 is feature complete at this point, which makes it a good time to see what will be part of it when the final release is made. That is currently scheduled for October, so users don't have that long to wait to start using those new features.
The headline feature for Python 3.8 is also its most contentious. The process for deciding on Python Enhancement Proposal (PEP) 572 ("Assignment Expressions") was a rather bumpy ride that eventually resulted in a new governance model for the language. That model meant that a new steering council would replace longtime benevolent dictator for life (BDFL) Guido van Rossum for decision-making, after Van Rossum stepped down in part due to the "PEP 572 mess".
Out of that came a new operator, however, that is often called the "walrus operator" due to its visual appearance. Using ":=" in an if or while statement allows assigning a value to a variable while testing it... It is a feature that many other languages have, but Python has, of course, gone without it for nearly 30 years at this point. In the end, it is actually a fairly small change for all of the uproar it caused.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's cautious-cryptocurrencies department
An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica:
David Marcus, the head of Facebook's new Calibra payments division, appeared before two hostile congressional committees this week with a simple message: Facebook knows policymakers are concerned about Libra, and Facebook won't move forward with the project until their concerns are addressed. While he didn't say so explicitly, Marcus' comments at hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday represented a dramatic shift in Facebook's conception of Libra.
In Facebook's original vision, Libra would be an open and largely decentralized network, akin to Bitcoin. The core network would be beyond the reach of regulators. Regulatory compliance would be the responsibility of exchanges, wallets, and other services that are the "on ramps and off ramps" to the Libra ecosystem. Facebook now seems to recognize its original vision was a non-starter with regulators. So this week Marcus sketched out a new vision for Libra -- one in which the Libra Association will shoulder significant responsibility for ensuring compliance with laws relating to money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes...
[T]here's a pretty fundamental tradeoff between network openness and effective enforcement of regulations governing payment networks. If the Libra Association doesn't have a way to enforce compliance by wallet providers, criminals are likely to flock to wallet services that don't strictly enforce the rules -- or to download open source wallet software and use non-custodial accounts. But if the Libra Association does have a mechanism for forcing compliance, that inherently raises the bar for entering the market and makes the Libra network look more like conventional financial networks -- with all the red tape that entails. This could be particularly harmful for marginalized people in developing countries, since developers in those markets will have the fewest resources to jump through regulatory hoops.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-gen-aircraft department
Ampair, a Los Angeles clean tech company in my neck of the woods, is set to begin accepting orders for a hybrid electric aircraft at the EAA AirVenture airshow in Wisconsin next week. Dubbed the EEL, the aircraft is in fact a retrofit of a Cessna 337, an aircraft that has a forward-mounted prop engine that pulls and a rear-mounted prop engine that pushes. Ampair's retrofit will replace one of those internal combustion engines with an electric motor powered by batteries. ZDNet reports: Ampair believes hybrid power may be a stopgap, providing fuel savings while still retaining many of the benefits of an internal combustion drivetrain. "The Ampaire Electric EEL is the first step in bringing lower emissions, lower-operating costs, and quieter operations to general aviation through electrification," according to the company's CEO Kevin Noertker. "The original Cessna 337 provided great utility, and this hybrid electric conversion retains those advantages while reducing fuel cost and maintenance by about 50 percent." The EEL is now undergoing a 30 month test program, which began in June. One of the tests will be demonstrating reliable single-engine climbs on each powerplant. Ampair expects the aircraft to be certified by 2021. Ampair's EEL aircraft will seat four or six passengers. The company says the aircraft cost will be competitive with comparable piston twins.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rest-in-peace department
Patrick Winston, a beloved professor and computer scientist at MIT, died on July 19 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He was 76. MIT News reports: A professor at MIT for almost 50 years, Winston was director of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory from 1972 to 1997 before it merged with the Laboratory for Computer Science to become MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). A devoted teacher and cherished colleague, Winston led CSAIL's Genesis Group, which focused on developing AI systems that have human-like intelligence, including the ability to tell, perceive, and comprehend stories. He believed that such work could help illuminate aspects of human intelligence that scientists don't yet understand. He was renowned for his accessible and informative lectures, and gave a hugely popular talk every year during the Independent Activities Period called "How to Speak." Winston's dedication to teaching earned him many accolades over the years, including the Baker Award, the Eta Kappa Nu Teaching Award, and the Graduate Student Council Teaching Award.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-a-shame department
dryriver writes: The line "sharks with fricking lasers" was once popular on Slashdot. It sounds like a joke, but a never-made James Bond movie co-written back in the day by Sean Connery was actually going to feature robotic sharks carrying stolen NATO nukes in order to attack New York. Bond was going to stop the sharks inside the New York sewer system, waterski out of the sewers, paraglide up to the Statue of Liberty's head, then fight a Bond villain inside said head, with the villain's "blood trickling out of the Statue of Liberty's eye like tears" at the end of the fight. All this was going to happen without the consent of Cubby Broccoli, the official producer of the Bond movies. Why did the movie never get made? The producers of competing Bond movies were fighting in court over who has what rights to the franchise and characters. In the end, "Bond fights robot sharks with nukes" was scrapped, and "Never Say Never," a remake of "Thunderball," was made instead. This featured stolen nukes as well, but unfortunately no robot sharks or other "Austin Powers" style silliness.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nickel-and-dimed-into-oblivion department
Last week, the California Senate's Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee held a hearing and passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), which promises to make it harder for companies to claim workers are independent contractors and increase the operating expenses of Uber, Lyft, and other on-demand companies that already find themselves unable to turn a profit. Motherboard reports: Written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzelez (D-San Diego), AB5 codifies the California Supreme Court's unanimous May 2018 ruling in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles where an "ABC test" was introduced to determine whether a worker was an employee or an independent contractor. Individuals with sufficient control over how and when they did their work are independent contractors, while workers without much control are employees. While AB5 easily passed in the Assembly this May, 53-11, it has a long and ugly fight ahead of as it must pass multiple votes in the Senate then be signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. Each step of the way is an opportunity for companies like Uber and Lyft to intervene and extract concessions.
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