By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
The Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Scroll Lock LEDs on a keyboard can be used to exfiltrate data from a secure air-gapped system, academics from an Israeli university have proved. From a report: The attack, which they named CTRL-ALT-LED, is nothing that regular users should worry about but is a danger for highly secure environments such as government networks that store top-secret documents or enterprise networks dedicated to storing non-public proprietary information. he attack requires some pre-requisites, such as the malicious actor finding a way to infect an air-gapped system with malware beforehand. CTRL-ALT-LED is only an exfiltration method. But once these prerequisites are met, the malware running on a system can make the LEDs of an USB-connected keyboard blink at rapid speeds, using a custom transmission protocol and modulation scheme to encode the transmitted data. A nearby attacker can record these tiny light flickers, which they can decode at a later point, using the same modulation scheme used to encode it.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
First, there was the meatless burger. Soon we may have fishless fish. From a report: Impossible Foods, the California company behind the meatless Impossible Whopper now available at Burger King, is joining a crowded field of food companies developing alternatives to traditional seafood with plant-based recipes or laboratory techniques that allow scientists to grow fish from cells. So far, much of Impossible's work has focused on the biochemistry of fish flavor, which can be reproduced using heme, the same protein undergirding its meat formula [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], according to Pat Brown, the company's chief executive. Last month, Impossible's 124-person research and development team, which the company plans to increase to around 200 by the end of next year, produced an anchovy-flavored broth made from plants, he said. "It was being used to make paella," Mr. Brown said. "But you could use it to make Caesar dressing or something like that."
The fishless-fish project is part of Impossible's grand ambitions to devise tasty replacements for every animal-based food on the market by 2035. Whether that aim is achievable, either scientifically or financially, remains to be seen. But for now, Mr. Brown said, he's confident Impossible's plant-based beef recipe can be reconfigured to simulate a new source of protein. It's unclear whether consumers -- even those who eat meatless burgers -- will embrace fish alternatives. Those faux-beef products owe their success partly to the enthusiasm of so-called flexitarians, people who want to reduce their meat consumption without fully converting to vegetarianism, but flexitarians are not necessarily motivated by a desire to save the planet.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-in-a-name department
Meet ploonets: planets of moonish origin. In other star systems, some moons could escape their planets and start orbiting their stars instead, new simulations suggest. Scientists have dubbed such liberated worlds "ploonets," and say that current telescopes may be able to find the wayward objects. From a report: Astronomers think that exomoons -- moons orbiting planets that orbit stars other than the sun -- should be common, but efforts to find them have turned up empty so far. Astrophysicist Mario Sucerquia of the University of Antioquia in MedellÃn, Colombia and colleagues simulated what would happen to those moons if they orbited hot Jupiters, gas giants that lie scorchingly close to their stars. Many astronomers think that hot Jupiters weren't born so close, but instead migrated toward their star from a more distant orbit.
As the gas giant migrates, the combined gravitational forces of the planet and the star would inject extra energy into the moon's orbit, pushing the moon farther and farther from its planet until eventually it escapes, the researchers report June 29 [PDF] at arXiv.org. "This process should happen in every planetary system composed of a giant planet in a very close-in orbit," Sucerquia says. "So ploonets should be very frequent." Some ploonets may be indistinguishable from ordinary planets. Others, whose orbits keep them close to their planet, could reveal their presence by changing the timing of when their neighbor planet crosses, or transits, in front of the star.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's broken-promises department
The Foxconn factory in Wisconsin will only create 1,500 jobs when it starts production next May, Gov. Tony Evers said yesterday. From a report: That's the same number Foxconn has been saying since it shifted plans for the factory a few months ago, and far short of the 13,000 jobs that were promised when President Trump broke ground a year ago. Evers has been negotiating with Foxconn since he replaced former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, and he says he now has "clarity: on Foxconn's plans. 1,500 jobs is short of the 1,800 jobs required for Foxconn to get the next set of tax credits under its $4 billion deal with the state. Foxconn already missed its first jobs target under that contract, hiring only 156 employees instead of the required 260 last year. Instead, Foxconn has bought a series of empty buildings for "innovation centers" around the state as part of a promised "AI 8K+5G ecosystem" (although it's never specified what that ecosystem actually is). Timeline: Wisconsin's $4.1 Billion Foxconn Boondoggle; Foxconn Is Reconsidering Plan For Wisconsin Factory; Foxconn Says It Will Build Wisconsin Factory After All; Foxconn is Confusing the Hell Out of Wisconsin; and One Year After Trump's Foxconn Groundbreaking, There is Almost Nothing To Show For It.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-inevitable department
After years of its on and off interest in smartphones, Google today produces some of the best phones on the planet. The Pixel 3 and the 3 XL take better pictures than most smartphones -- certainly any phone that predates them. But the whole idea of Google making handsets -- being also the company that maintains Android and has relationship with hundreds of OEM partners that themselves make and sell Android handsets -- has also been peculiar. Additionally, Google itself has an alarmingly long track record of losing interest in things, including hardware projects -- and especially when they finally appear to have courted a large following.
Richard Windsor, director of research firm Radio Free Mobile, adds: While the wires are already speculating on the form factor of the Google Pixel 4 due to be launched in Q4, I am wondering whether this will be the last smartphone that Google makes. Ever since it wasted $12.5bn of shareholder's money on Motorola Mobility in 2012, Google has had a bad condition of what I refer to as engineering disease (see here and here and here). I diagnose engineering disease as a condition where engineers often get so excited about whether they can develop something that they forget to ask whether they should develop that something. Engineering disease almost always ends in financial disaster and I calculate that Google's hardware business has done nothing but burn cash since the day it was created. Worst of all, I can find no logical rhyme or reason why Google needs to make hardware other than a foolhardy attempt to take on Apple.
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By msmash from Slashdot's times,-they-are-changin' department
As Walt Disney, AT&T's WarnerMedia and Apple prepare to enter the crowded streaming-entertainment market, they are racing to stand out with eye-catching shows that cost as much for a season as a big-budget movie [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From a report: These new services are hoping their planned television epics will capture the cultural conversation, like "Game of Thrones" did. They are also hoping to convince subscribers that their offerings are worth paying for in a market dominated by Netflix, HBO and Hulu. The competition is prompting newcomers to shell out between $8 million and $15 million an episode, significantly more than what the average TV show used to cost. For a single season, after including marketing and other expenses, the total can easily exceed $150 million -- or roughly what it costs to put a new "Spider-Man" movie in theaters nationwide.
When Netflix began making "House of Cards" in 2013 at $4.5 million an episode, it looked like a costly bet. Now, Disney has built intergalactic-desert landscapes for the "Star Wars" spinoff "The Mandalorian," whose cost for an episode approaches $15 million, according to people familiar with the matter. Amazon.com spent $250 million just for the rights to develop a "Lord of the Rings" series. Apple signed up "Aquaman" star Jason Momoa for its fantasy series "See," while Showtime has the videogame adaptation "Halo" and Warner Bros. prepares Frank Herbert's "Dune." With massive casts, exotic filming locations and copious special effects, budgets have ballooned to amounts once considered unfathomable for a TV show. One driving factor, executives say, is that high-profile TV shows are offered up next to theatrical films available to stream on the same service, so original programming can't risk looking like B-material next to the movies.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's food-for-thoughts department
An anonymous reader shares a report: In America, the freedom of movement comes with an asterisk: the obligation to drive. This truism has been echoed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has pronounced car ownership a "virtual necessity." The Court's pronouncement is telling. Yes, in a sense, America is car-dependent by choice -- but it is also car-dependent by law. As I detail in a forthcoming journal article, over the course of several generations lawmakers rewrote the rules of American life to conform to the interests of Big Oil, the auto barons, and the car-loving 1 percenters of the Roaring Twenties. They gave legal force to a mind-set -- let's call it automobile supremacy -- that kills 40,000 Americans a year and seriously injures more than 4 million more. Include all those harmed by emissions and climate change, and the damage is even greater. As a teenager growing up in the shadow of Detroit, I had no reason to feel this was unjust, much less encouraged by law. It is both.
It's no secret that American public policy throughout the 20th century endorsed the car -- for instance, by building a massive network of urban and interstate highways at public expense. Less well understood is how the legal framework governing American life enforces dependency on the automobile. To begin with, mundane road regulations embed automobile supremacy into federal, state, and local law. But inequities in traffic regulation are only the beginning. Land-use law, criminal law, torts, insurance, vehicle safety regulations, even the tax code -- all these sources of law provide rewards to cooperate with what has become the dominant transport mode, and punishment for those who defy it.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Natural historian, English broadcaster and 93-year-old national treasure David Attenborough has spoken. Whether you like his chosen topic of climate change or not, the naturalist has an effortless and coercive way with words. From a report: Speaking to a Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee meeting in London on Tuesday morning, local time, Attenborough gave evidence on the radical action required to tackle the climate crisis. "We cannot be radical enough in dealing with the issues that face us at the moment," he said, the full talk detailed by The Guardian. "The question is: what is practically possible? How can we take the electorate with us in dealing with these things?" The UK has committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But that target, according to Attenborough, "is not the way of focusing on the problem." Attenborough did acknowledge the lively efforts young people had put in to "recognising that their world is the future."
"The most encouraging thing that I see, of course, is that the electors of tomorrow are already making themselves and their voices very, very clear," he said. "And that is a source of great comfort in a way, but also the justification, the reality, that these young people are recognising that their world is the future." Attenborough compared our attitudes toward climate change with the transformation of slavery. "There was a time in the 19th century when it was perfectly acceptable for civilised human beings to think that it was morally acceptable to actually own another human being for a slave. And somehow or other, in the space of 20 or 30 years, the public perception of that totally transformed."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's about-time department
Nintendo has confirmed the much-rumored Nintendo Switch Lite, revealing that the new slimmed down console -- available in gray, yellow, and turquoise -- will launch on September 20 for $199.99. From a report: The device, which first came to light last year, is $100 less expensive than its predecessor and, as such, it does lack a number of key features compared to its bigger brother. For example, the Nintendo Switch Lite only offers a single "handheld" game-play mode, compared to the additional "TV" and "tabletop" modes of the Nintendo Switch. While this raises questions about the use of "switch" in the device's name given that it doesn't actually switch between modes, it also means that compatible games are limited to those that support handheld mode in the Nintendo Switch Library. However, gamers will be able to buy separate Joy-Con controllers (and a device to charge them) to use wirelessly with other games that don't support handheld mode.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's medical-benefits department
nightcats writes: A German capitalist wants to promote everything from psychological research, applied clinical uses of psychedelics, and even peace in the Mideast, with the help of lab-grown magic mushrooms. "Today, with a net worth of roughly $400 million accrued through various enterprises, [Christian] Angermayer is one of the driving forces behind the movement to turn long-shunned psychoactive substances, like the psilocybin derived from so-called magic mushrooms, into approved medications for depression and other mental illnesses," reports Scientific American.
The strangest and most daring idea mentioned in the Scientific American piece by Meghana Keshavan relates to a bizarre project for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Angermayer, interested in expanding his web of psychedelics holdings, recently asked [Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a nonprofit focused on research and education around the substances] if he might invest in his nonprofit, MAPS -- particularly its efforts to legalize therapeutic use of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy," reports Scientific American. "Doblin demurred. MAPS is purely donation-based, and unlike Compass, intends to stay that way."
"But their talk shifted to one of the highest priority projects at the nonprofit: An exploration of psychedelics in conflict remediation. Along with researchers at Imperial College London, MAPS plans on bringing Israelis and Palestinians together to take ayahuasca and, working with negotiation experts, sift through their respective traumas. The idea is that finding common ground in their spiritual and mystical experiences might help coax political reconciliation between the warring factions."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: In a study published in Nature on July 3, researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used an algorithm called Word2Vec sift through scientific papers for connections humans had missed. Their algorithm then spit out predictions for possible thermoelectric materials, which convert heat to energy and are used in many heating and cooling applications. The algorithm didn't know the definition of thermoelectric, though. It received no training in materials science. Using only word associations, the algorithm was able to provide candidates for future thermoelectric materials, some of which may be better than those we currently use.
To train the algorithm, the researchers assessed the language in 3.3 million abstracts related to material science, ending up with a vocabulary of about 500,000 words. They fed the abstracts to Word2vec, which used machine learning to analyze relationships between words. Using just the words found in scientific abstracts, the algorithm was able to understand concepts such as the periodic table and the chemical structure of molecules. The algorithm linked words that were found close together, creating vectors of related words that helped define concepts. In some cases, words were linked to thermoelectric concepts but had never been written about as thermoelectric in any abstract they surveyed. This gap in knowledge is hard to catch with a human eye, but easy for an algorithm to spot. After showing its capacity to predict future materials, researchers took their work back in time, virtually. They scrapped recent data and tested the algorithm on old papers, seeing if it could predict scientific discoveries before they happened. Once again, the algorithm worked. "In one experiment, researchers analyzed only papers published before 2009 and were able to predict one of the best modern-day thermoelectric materials four years before it was discovered in 2012," the report adds.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's read-the-fine-print department
T-Mobile U.S. is trying to force customers into arbitration in order to avoid a class-action lawsuit that accuses the phone carrier of violating federal law by selling its customers' real-time location data to third parties. Ars Technica reports: T-Mobile yesterday filed a motion to compel arbitration in U.S. District Court in Maryland, saying that customers agreed to terms and conditions that require disputes to be handled in arbitration instead of courts. The two plaintiffs named in the lawsuit did not opt out of the arbitration agreement, T-Mobile wrote. "As T-Mobile customers, each Plaintiff accepted T-Mobile's Terms and Conditions ('T&Cs')," T-Mobile wrote in a memorandum of law. "In so doing, they agreed to arbitrate on an individual basis any dispute related to T-Mobile's services and to waive their right to participate in a class action unless they timely opted out of the arbitration procedure outlined in the T&Cs. Neither Plaintiff elected to opt out. Accordingly, Plaintiffs have brought their grievances to the wrong forum and their claims should be dismissed in favor of arbitration." T-Mobile's terms and conditions say, "Thanks for choosing T-Mobile. Please read these Terms & Conditions ('T&Cs'), which contain important information about your relationship with T-Mobile, including mandatory arbitration of disputes between us, instead of class actions or jury trials. You will become bound by these provisions once you accept these T&Cs." Customers can opt out of arbitration by calling 1-866-323-4405 or online at www.T-Mobiledisputeresolution.com, but action must be taken within 30 days of activating a new phone line. The customers who opted out of T-Mobile arbitration could file a similar lawsuit, but that would result in a much smaller pool of customers who could seek damages.
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