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Are the NIST Standard Elliptic Curves Back-doored?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 05:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's nsa-versus-nist department:
IamTheRealMike writes "In the wake of Bruce Schneier's statements that he no longer trusts the constants selected for elliptic curve cryptography, people have started trying to reproduce the process that led to those constants being selected ... and found it cannot be done. As background, the most basic standard elliptic curves used for digital signatures and other cryptography are called the SEC random curves (SEC is 'Standards for Efficient Cryptography'), a good example being secp256r1. The random numbers in these curve parameters were supposed to be selected via a "verifiably random" process (output of SHA1 on some seed), which is a reasonable way to obtain a nothing up my sleeve number if the input to the hash function is trustworthy, like a small counter or the digits of PI. Unfortunately it turns out the actual inputs used were opaque 256 bit numbers, chosen ad-hoc with no justifications provided. Worse, the curve parameters for SEC were generated by head of elliptic curve research at the NSA — opening the possibility that they were found via a brute force search for a publicly unknown class of weak curves. Although no attack against the selected values are currently known, it's common practice to never use unexplainable magic numbers in cryptography standards, especially when those numbers are being chosen by intelligence agencies. Now that the world received strong confirmation that the much more obscure and less widely used standard Dual_EC_DRBG was in fact an NSA undercover operation, NIST re-opened the confirmed-bad standards for public comment. Unless NIST/the NSA can explain why the random curve seed values are trustworthy, it might be time to re-evaluate all NIST based elliptic curve crypto in general."

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Space Food From Space Farms
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 04:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'll-have-a-space-burger-with-space-fries-please department:
Modern Farmer magazine has an article about NASA's efforts into growing food in space, a slow, difficult process that's nonetheless necessary if humanity is to have any significant presence away from Earth's surface. Quoting:
"This December, NASA plans to launch a set of Kevlar pillow-packs, filled with a material akin to kitty litter, functioning as planters for six romaine lettuce plants. The burgundy-hued lettuce (NASA favors the 'Outredgeous' strain) will be grown under bright-pink LED lights, ready to harvest after just 28 days. NASA has a long history of testing plant growth in space, but the goals have been largely academic. Experiments have included figuring out the effects of zero-gravity on plant growth, testing quick-grow sprouts on shuttle missions and assessing the viability of different kinds of artificial light. But [the Vegetable Production System] is NASA's first attempt to grow produce that could actually sustain space travelers. Naturally, the dream is to create a regenerative growth system, so food could be continually grown on the space station — or, potentially, on moon colonies or Mars. ... Plant size is a vital calculation in determining what to grow on the space station, where every square foot is carefully allotted. Harvest time is also of extreme importance; the program wants to maximize growth cycles within each crew’s (on average) six-month stay."

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The Tech Behind Man of Steel's Metropolis
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 01:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-childhood-has-been-replaced-with-a-very-small-shell-script department:
angry tapir writes "Much of the urban vistas of Man of Steel, Cars 2 and the horrible remake of Total Recall were not modelled by hand. Instead they relied on a product called CityEngine, which is more typically associated with local government bodies' urban planning and urban design. The software procedurally generates cities using scripts written in a Python-like language. The next version of CityEngine, coming out next month, will incorporate an SDK so third-party developers can use parameter-defined procedural generation of urban environments in their own applications. CityEngine's product manager talks about the upcoming version, how it's being used at the moment, and plans to incorporate augmented reality in it."

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PS Vita TV's Killer App: Remote Play
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 10:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-your-gadgets-have-subgadgets department:
jfruh writes "When Sony announced the PS Vita TV yesterday, most observers saw it as competition for the Apple TV and Roku, or maybe the Ouya. But gaming writer Peter Smith views it differently; he thinks that remote play, including the ability to stream games from the upcoming PlayStation 4 console, will be the Vita TV's killer-app. In that sense, it isn't so much a low-cost replacement for casual gamers as an add-on to the high-end PS4. '[W]hen you're in the middle of a game and someone wants to watch TV, you can just grab a Vita and keep on playing. (This is similar to the popular "tablet play" feature of Nintendo's Wii U, without the Wii U's limitation of having to stay in close proximity to the base console.) ... For any Playstation 4 household with more than one TV I think the PS Vita TV will become a 'must-have' accessory; it's almost like getting a second PS4 for $100.'"

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How To Turn Your Pile of Code Into an Open Source Project
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 08:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's learn-how-to-swear-at-people-on-mailing-lists department:
Esther Schindler writes "You've written some code, you think it would be useful to the world, and you'd like to give back to the open source world. But how do you do it? Andy Lester provides a checksheet for developers for how to release an open source project and get it noticed. For instance: Before you release the project to the wild, write some documentation, create a mailing list, create an issue tracker, and so on. 'Users require releases of your software. It’s a disservice to your users to point at the Git repo and say “Just pull from the master branch and install it.” Users don’t want to have to use version control just to get a release of the code. Create a proper tarball (.tar.gz) that is easily downloadable by anyone. Announce each release. Your announcements should not assume that the reader is familiar with your project.' You think he's missing anything?"

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Google's Encryption Plan To Stifle NSA's Dragnet Will Raise the Stakes
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 06:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's or-at-least-get-the-public-relations-departments-some-more-work department:
CWmike writes "Google's strategy for making surveillance of user Internet activity more difficult for U.S. and foreign governments — started last year, but accelerated in June following the NSA leaks — is as much about economics as data encryption, experts say. Eric Grosse, vice president for security engineering at Google, told The Washington Post: 'It's an arms race.' The crux of the issue with Google making the NSA dragnet harder (knowing if the government wants in, it will get in) is that the NSA evaluates the tactic it uses by weighing the cost with the value of the information obtained. However, the agency does evaluate the tactic it uses by weighing the cost with the value of the information obtained. 'The NSA has turned the fabric of the Internet into a vast surveillance platform, but they are not magical,' Bruce Schneier, a renowned security technologist and cryptographer, wrote in The Guardian. 'They're limited by the same economic realities as the rest of us, and our best defense is to make surveillance of us as expensive as possible.' The NSA's capabilities for cracking encryption are not known outside the agency. However, the most secure part of an encryption system remains the 'mathematics of cryptography,' Schneier said. The greater weaknesses, and the ones mostly likely to be exploited by governments in general, are the systems at the start and end of the data flow. 'I worry a lot more about poorly designed cryptographic products, software bugs, bad passwords, companies that collaborate with the NSA to leak all or part of the keys, and insecure computers and networks.' Is this about citizen's rights, or a business decision (some might say an existential issue) for Google? Does it matter, and will it make a difference?"

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Bomb Defuse Simulator 2013: a Head-Tracking Tech Demo
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's baby-steps-to-a-holodeck department:
New submitter Johnny G. Mills writes "During a gamejam (an event to quickly develop and build an interesting game), two members of Sassybot Studio used a projector, Microsoft Kinect, and two moving boxes to create a simulator for defusing a bomb. They used me as a test subject, and thought Slashdot would enjoy this convergence of tech and gaming. 'The wires generated in Bomb Defuse Simulator 2013 are created procedurally to provide the player with a random challenge each time the game is played. ... The controls in the game are split up into physical input and Xbox controller input. With physical input the player moves around the bomb to see what is happening. This is literally done by walking around the real environment ... In our case we projected onto cardboard boxes to prove the concept. In theory this concept can be applied to larger and more unconventional objects. Doing so will challenge the game designer with utilizing the real space in order to create a game in virtual space.'"

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Intel's Haswell Chips Pushing Windows RT Into Oblivion
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hardware-killed-the-software-star department:
SmartAboutThings sends this excerpt from Technology Personalized:
"Intel has started shipping the fourth generation Haswell chips for tablets, which brings power-efficient processors and hence much better battery life to Windows tablets. According to IDG, Intel has now started shipping new low-power, fourth-generation Core i3 processors, including one that draws as little as 4.5 watts of power in specific usage scenarios. These new Haswell processors could go into fanless tablets and laptop-tablet hybrids, bringing longer battery life to the devices. This is a great news for Windows lovers, who have had to sacrifice performance for battery life (and vice versa) until now. Now, with almost 50% better battery life as promised by Intel for Windows tablets, the OEMs have no real need to come out with Windows RT based tablets and hybrids anymore."

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Evidence of 100,000-Year-Old Life Found In Antarctic Subglacial Lake
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's too-bad-they-were-just-looking-for-jimmy-hoffa department:
Researchers taking advantage of retreating ice shelves in Antarctica have discovered evidence of life that's been sealed away for nearly 100,000 years. Lake Hodgson on the Antarctic Peninsula, once covered by over 400 meters of ice, is now obscured only by a thin layer three to four meters thick. Scientists carefully drilled through the ice and took samples (abstract) from the layers of mud at the bottom (as much as 93 meters below the lake's surface). "The top few centimetres of the core contained current and recent organisms which inhabit the lake but once the core reached 3.2 m deep the microbes found most likely date back nearly 100,000 years. ... Some of the life discovered was in the form of Fossil DNA showing that many different types of bacteria live there, including a range of extremophiles which are species adapted to the most extreme environments. These use a variety of chemical methods to sustain life both with and without oxygen. One DNA sequence was related to the most ancient organisms known on Earth and parts of the DNA in twenty three percent has not been previously described."

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Wireless Charging Start-Up Claims 30-Foot Radius
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's balance-of-power department:
Lucas123 writes "At Disrupt this week, Ossia Inc. demonstrated for the first time its wireless charging technology that founder Hatem Zeine said has a 30-foot radius and, like WiFi, can charge through walls and 'around corners.' The technology, still in prototype phase, uses the same spectrum as other wireless standards, such as WiFi and Bluetooth. The Cota wireless charging system includes a charger and a receiver — either a dongle device or chip-tech integrated into a product, such as a smartphone or battery. While it has yet to be miniaturized, Zeine said the wireless technology will eventually be small enough to fit into a AAA battery or any portable electronic device. While the technology has wider industrial implications, as a consumer product, a charging unit will likely sell for around $100, he said."

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Seagate's Shingled Magnetic Recording Tech Boosts HDD Capacities to 5TB and Up
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's that'll-hold-a-lot-of-torrented-uhhh-linux-ISOs department:
crookedvulture writes "Seagate has begun shipping hard drives based on a new technology dubbed Shingled Magnetic Recording. SMR, as it's called, preserves the perpendicular bit orientation of current HDDs but changes the way that tracks are organized. Instead of laying out the tracks individually, SMR stacks them on top of each other in a staggered fashion that resembles the shingles on a roof. Although this overlap enables higher bit densities, it comes with a penalty. Rewrites compromise the data on the following track, which must be read and rewritten, which in turn compromises the data on the following track, and so on. SMR distributes the layered tracks in narrow bands to mitigate the performance penalty associated with rewrites. The makeup of those bands will vary based on the drive's intended application. We should see the first examples of SMR next year, when Seagate intends to introduce a 5TB drive with 1.25TB per platter. Traditional hard drives top out at 4TB and 1TB per platter right now."

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How Car Dealership Lobbyists Successfully Banned Tesla Motors From Texas
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's don't-mess-with-texas-unless-you-can-float-some-benjamins department:
Funksaw writes "In a political op-ed on his blog, long time Slashdot reader and contributor Brian Boyko (the guy who did that animated Windows 8 video) — now a candidate for state representative — explains how lobbyists from car dealerships successfully banned Tesla Motors from selling cars in Texas. From the article: 'Tesla Motors doesn't just present a case study of why a lack of campaign finance reform blocks meaningful reform on the issues that Democrats care about, like climate change and health care. A lack of campaign finance reform blocks reforms on both the Left and the Right. Here's the big elephant in the room I'd like to point out to all the "elephants" in the room: With a Republican-controlled legislature, a Republican executive, and many conservatives in our judiciary, why the hell don't we have free markets in Texas? Isn't it the very core of economic-conservative theory that the invisible hand of the free market determines who gets what resources? Doesn't the free market have the ability to direct resources to where they can most efficiently be used? I'm not saying the conservatives are right in these assumptions; but I am saying that our broken campaign finance system makes a mockery of them.'"

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Intel, Red Hat Working On Enabling Wayland Support In GNOME
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-wonder-which-one-is-the-sidekick department:
sfcrazy writes "After shooting down Canonical's Mir, Intel and Red Hat teams have increased collaboration on the development of Wayland. Developers at Intel and Red Hat are working together to 'merge and stabilize the patches to enable Wayland support in GNOME,' as Christian Schaller writes on his blog. The teams are also looking into improving the stack further. Weston won't be used anymore, so GNOME Shell will become the Wayland compositor. It must be noted that Canonical earlier committed to supporting and embracing Wayland. Despite that promise, the company silently stopped contribution, and it was later learned that they were secretly working on their own display server, Mir. Intel's management recently rejected patches for Mir, leaving its maintainance to Canonical. Before Intel's rejection, GNOME and KDE also refused to adopt Mir. Intel's message is clear to Canonical: if you promise to contribute, then do so."

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Is It Time to Replace Your First HDTV? (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 11:15 AM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's newer-is-not-always-better department:
Millions of Americans bought their first HDTVs between four and seven years ago, because that's when prices for 40" - 50" sets started dropping below $700. Those sets are obviously between four and seven years old now. Are new ones so much more wonderful that it's time to get a new HDTV? Not necessarily. Alfred Poor, long-time display technology expert and senior editor for aNewDomain, has some insight here, which he shares with us in today's video. There's obviously a lot more to discuss about TV technology advances (such as 3d) that we didn't get to today, so look forward to another discussion on this topic in two or three weeks.

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Apple Unveils iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's only-24-letters-left-to-choose-from department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Apple unveiled the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S today, which will replace the company's current iPhone 5. Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives took to a stage in California to introduce both devices. The cheaper iPhone 5C features a plastic casing available in a variety of colors (green, blue, reddish-pink, yellow, white); Apple seems to have done its best to make the device look high quality, with the backing and sides molded of a single piece of plastic; on the hardware side of things, the iPhone 5C comes with a 4-inch Retina display, A6 processor, and 8-megapixel camera. The other new Apple design, the iPhone 5S, is the company's next-generation 'hero' device. While the iPhone 5 was a radical new design, the 5S is an iterative upgrade; on the outside, it looks pretty much the same as its predecessor (the new iPhone features a new color, gold, in addition to the 'traditional' black or white aluminum body). The iPhone 5S has an A7 chip built on 64-bit architecture (capable of running 32-bit and 64-bit apps), which is pretty speedy, to put it mildly. There's also the M7 'motion co-processor' which boosts the actions of the accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope—in theory, opening the door to more refined motion-related apps, such as ones devoted to exercise."
The iPhone 5S also has a sensor built into the home button that will allow you to unlock the device with your fingerprint. Both new phone will be available for purchase on Friday, Sept. 20th. Apple announced that iOS 7 will be rolling out on Wednesday, Sept. 18th.

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Ask Slashdot: How Best To Synchronize Projects Between Shared Drive and PCs?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's phrase-your-answer-in-the-form-of-a-cookie department:
Koookiemonster writes "Our company has many projects, each one with a folder on a Samba drive (Z:). Our problem is syncing only the programmers' current projects (~30 at any time) between Z: and their C:Projects-folder on five Windows 7 laptops. If we sync the whole Z:-drive, our projects folders would be filled with too many subfolders, making it difficult to navigate. The folders contain OpenPCS projects (PLC) and related files (Word, Excel, PDF documents); a common project folder is 50 MB. Is there any easy to use, low-budget sync software with scripting, so that we could e.g. only sync folders that exist locally?" (Read more details, below, of what Koookiemonster is looking for.)

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New X Prize Quest: Sensors To Probe Oceanic Acid Levels
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's deeper-and-deeper department:
cold fjord notes that the X Prize Foundation has opened up a new mission: to quantify the acidification of the world's oceans, excerpting from a description on Nature's blog of the project's focus: "Scientists who study ocean acidification must confront a fundamental problem: It is hard to measure exactly how much the ocean's pH is changing. Today's sensors don't work well at depth or over long periods of time, and they are too expensive to deploy widely. That is where the US$2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X Prize comes in. The 22-month competition will award two $1 million prizes, one to the best low-cost sensor and one to the most accurate. The competition's organizers decided to award two prizes because the two goals present different engineering challenges. ... As carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere, ocean water takes up some of the gas and becomes more acidic. This can harm shell-building marine life like coral, whose calcium carbonate skeletons dissolve in the increasingly acidic water. All of this research is bedeviled by the simple lack of technology to monitor ocean pH in real time across the world."

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AMD Reveals Roadmap For ARM and X86 SoCs
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's chips-are-ready department:
DeviceGuru writes "On the eve of the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, AMD unveiled what it calls an ambidextrous embedded roadmap, based on a series of new system-on-chip (SoC) and accelerated processing unit (APU) products built from both ARM and x86 CPU cores. Planned for launch in 2014 are an ARM Cortex A57-based 'Hierofalcon' SoC, a 'Bald Eagle' APU using a new 'Streamroller' x86 CPU, a multi-core x86 'Steppe Eagle' APU, and an 'Adelaar' discrete Embedded Radion GPU. 'There are different customer needs in different segments of this market, from low-power to high-performance, Linux to Windows, and x86 to ARM,' commented Arun Iyengar, VP and general manager, of the AMD Embedded Solutions division."

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British TV Show 'Blackout' Triggers Online LOLs
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-you-can-read-this-message-the-internet-is-down department:
judgecorp writes "Britain's Channel 4 screened Blackout, a drama about a cyber-attack which crashes the national power grid. The show was silly enough, with a strong message about the dangers of lighting candles in such a situation, but the Twitter responses were even better. The show terrified some viewers who apparently didn't realise that their TV screen was powered by the grid."

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Syrian Gov't Agrees To Russian Chem-Weapon Turnover Plan
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's put-some-dampers-on-those-sabers department:
CNN reports that at least for now we may be able to set aside the question of whether and under what authority the U.S. should intervene militarily in Syria, a question that's dominated the news for the last few weeks. From the report:

"Facing the threat of a U.S. military strike, the country's leaders Tuesday reportedly accepted a Russian proposal to turn over its chemical weapons. ... The development, reported by Syrian state television and Russia's Interfax news agency, came a day after the idea bubbled up in the wake of what appeared to be a gaffe by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. It quickly changed the debate in Washington from 'Should the U.S. attack?' to 'Is there a diplomatic way out of this mess?' Syrian Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Tuesday his country had agreed to the Russian proposal after what Interfax quoted him as calling 'a very fruitful round of talks' with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday. Details of such a transfer have yet to be worked out, such as where the arms would go, who would safeguard them and how the world could be sure Syria had handed over its entire stockpile of chemical weapons."

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