By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hot-ideas department
Kant (Slashdot reader #67,320) shared this story from the photovoltaics news site PV Magazine:
Scientists at Rice University in Texas have developed a device which converts heat into light by squeezing it into a smaller bandgap. The 'hyperbolic thermal emitter' could be combined with a PV system to convert energy otherwise wasted as heat -- a development the researchers say could drastically increase efficiency...
"Any hot surface emits light as thermal radiation," said Gururaj Naik, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice. "The problem is that thermal radiation is broadband while the conversion of light to electricity is efficient only if the emission is in a narrow band." The team worked to create a device that could squeeze the photons emitted as heat into a narrower band that could be absorbed by a solar cell...
The next step for the research will be to combine the 'hyperbolic thermal emitter' device with a solar cell. "By squeezing all the wasted thermal energy into a small spectral region we can turn it into electricity very efficiently," said Naik, "the theoretical prediction is that we can get 80% efficiency."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's abiding-by-the-law department
The Guardian learned that the suspected mass shooter at an El Paso, Texas Walmart "is believed to also have posted a white nationalist rant on 8chan" -- then interviewed the CEO of the company hosting it.
If the connection between the 21-year-old suspect in Saturday's massacre and the 8chan document is confirmed -- and law enforcement sources told NBC News that they are "reasonably confident" that they are linked -- then the El Paso attack will mark the third mass shooting in less than six months that was announced in advance on the message board... Throughout the day on Saturday, 8chan users discussed the massacre and the suspect, with many referring to the alleged shooter as "our guy" and praising the number of people killed...
"If I could wave a magic wand and make all of the bad things that are on the internet go away -- and I personally would put the Daily Stormer and 8chan in that category of bad things -- I would wave that magic wand tomorrow," [Cloudflare CEO Matthew] Prince said. "It would be the easiest thing in the world and it would feel incredibly good for us to kick 8chan off our network, but I think it would step away from the obligation that we have and cause that community to still exist and be more lawless over time."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's downtime department
"Facebook still can't avoid widespread outages, it seems," writes Engadget:
Numerous reports have surfaced of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp being unavailable to various degrees on the morning of August 4th. The failure doesn't appear to have been as dramatic as it was in July, when image services were out for several hours (we had at least some success visiting them ourselves). Still, it likely wasn't what you were hoping for if you wanted to catch up on your social feeds on a lazy Sunday morning.
UPI has more information:
Some Instagram users could not log into their accounts while Facebook users globally could not use sharing features, upload photos and comment, The Mirror reported. Others received messages stating that the site needed maintenance and would be up again soon.
The Express said that the outage monitoring website Down Detector logged more than 7,000 reports issues on Facebook. Down Detector said that Facebook started having problems about 9:30 a.m., Eastern time. About 34 percent of the complaints said they faced "total blackout." Another 33 percent of the complainants said there were issues with its newsfeed while 32 percent said they could not log in.
CNet.com reported that users across the United States, Canada, Australia and parts of Asia claimed that had lack of access Sunday morningRead Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's pwning-passwords department
Slashdot reader Artem S. Tashkinov writes: Mathy Vanhoef and Eyal Ronen have recently disclosed two new additional bugs impacting WPA3. The security researched duo found the new bugs in the security recommendations the WiFi Alliance created for equipment vendors in order to mitigate the initial Dragonblood attacks [found by the same two security researchers]. "Just like the original Dragonblood vulnerabilities from April, these two new ones allow attackers to leak information from WPA3 cryptographic operations and brute-force a WiFi network's password," reports ZDNet.
More from ZDNet:
"[The] Wi-Fi standard is now being updated with proper defenses, which might lead to WPA3.1," Vanhoef said. "Although this update is not backwards-compatible with current deployments of WPA3, it does prevent most of our attacks," the researchers said.
But besides just disclosing the two new Dragonblood vulnerabilities, the two researchers also took the chance to criticize the WiFi Alliance again for its closed standards development process that doesn't allow for the open-source community to contribute and prevent big vulnerabilities from making it into the standard in the first place.
"This demonstrates that implementing Dragonfly and WPA3 without side-channel leaks is surprisingly hard," the researchers said. "It also, once again, shows that privately creating security recommendations and standards is at best irresponsible and at worst inept."
While these type of feedback might be ignored when coming from other researchers, it means more when it comes from Vanhoef. The Belgian researchers is the one who discovered the KRACK attack that broke the WPA2 WiFi authentication standard and forced the WiFi Alliance to develop the WPA3 standard, which it launched in June 2018.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's skipping-the-Chunnel department
PolygamousRanchKid quotes CNN: French inventor Franky Zapata has successfully crossed the Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard for the first time, after a failed attempt last month. Zapata took off from Sangatte, northern France early on Sunday morning and landed in St. Margarets Bay, near Dover in England. The journey took just over 20 minutes, according to Reuters news agency...
In an interview after he completed his journey across the Channel, Zapata said that for his next challenge he was working on a flying car and had signed contracts, but for now he "was tired" and "wants a vacation," he told BFMTV. The inventor captured the world's imagination when he took to the skies above Paris at Bastille Day parade in July with the board that can reach an altitude of nearly 500 feet — with the potential to go much higher -- and a speed of 87mph.
Zapata has worked with the US and French militaries, with the French investing $1.4 million to pay for tests of the board. French special forces are interested in the flying board for several uses, including as a possible assault device, said Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's OMG-hackers department
An anonymous reader quotes The Verge:
Cybersecurity stock images are predictable at this point: a hooded man with a shadowy face in front of a keyboard or a mysterious person in front of binary code. A design firm called OpenIDEO thinks these images can be better, so it's hosting a contest to entice visual creators to make images that are eye-catching, informative, and clear.
"Cybersecurity," which could mean data breaches, hacks, or policy changes, is a difficult concept to visually represent, so OpenIDEO is going to reward creators for their work. The group, in association with a private organization called the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, issued an open call late last month for cybersecurity-related image submissions with plans to award $7,000 to up to five people.
The contest rules specify they're not looking for "Overused, stereotypical, fear-inducing images of cybersecurity. These create personal misperceptions and aversions, and may lead to a series of repercussions regarding public understanding of cybersecurity and data safety." And there's even a helpful collection of images providing examples of "What we're not looking for."
The deadline for submissions in August 16th, and all finalists must agree to using a Creative Commons license. "We believe that this type of licensing helps ensure your work reaches the widest possible audience..."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's countdown-to-countdowns department
schwit1 quotes Space News: SpaceX plans to build facilities at the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A for launches and, eventually, landings of its next-generation launch vehicle, according to a newly released report.
An environment assessment prepared by SpaceX, and released by NASA Aug. 1, discusses plans to develop additional facilities at LC-39A, which currently hosts Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches, for use by the company's Starship vehicle and its Super Heavy booster.
The plans outlined in the document call for the construction of a new launch mount at the complex near the existing one used by the Falcon 9 and Heavy. The modifications to the pad would also include a tank farm for the methane fuel used by the Raptor engines that power Starship and Super Heavy.
The Super Heavy booster would land at a ship in the ocean downrange from the launch site, although the report noted that SpaceX may later have the booster return to land. The Starship upper stage would initially land at the company's existing Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, but the company plans to build a pad near the new launch mount at LC-39A for to support Starship landings at a future date.
The facilities will be able to support up to 24 Starship/Super Heavy launches a year.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's cutting-for-countdowns department
McGruber quotes UPI:
NASA has cut down trees on more than 385 acres of Kennedy Space Center in Florida to allow a better view of launch pads where human spaceflight is set to return after a lull of many years.
The last astronauts to launch into space from the site were aboard space shuttle Atlantis in 2011. Since then, trees have grown so thick that the view from the press site a few miles away is totally obstructed. [Last week] when the media arrived for a SpaceX launch, they noticed a change: a clear view of launch pads.
"It looks like it did during the Apollo days, which is a great thing," said photographer Julian Leek, 65, a freelancer who has worked for such outlets as Ladies' Home Journal and the Miami Herald over the years. "Back then you could see the pads and the concrete, and now it's a gorgeous view again. Over the years, the vegetation has been growing and growing," Leek said.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's artificially-intelligent-teachers department
Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: MIT Technology Review's Karen Hao reports on China's grand experiment in AI education that could reshape how the world learns. "While academics have puzzled over best practices, China hasn't waited around," Hao writes. "It's the world's biggest experiment on AI in education, and no one can predict the outcome."
Profiled is Squirrel AI ("We Strive to Provide Every Student an AI Super Teacher!"), which has opened 2,000 learning centers in 200 cities and registered over a million students -- equal to New York City's entire public school system... Hao notes that the earliest efforts to "replicate" teachers date back to the 1970s, when computers first started being used in education. So, will AI-powered learning systems like Squirrel's deliver on the promise of PLATO's circa-1975 computer-assisted instruction?
From the article:
Squirrel's innovation is in its granularity and scale. For every course it offers, its engineering team works with a group of master teachers to subdivide the subject into the smallest possible conceptual pieces. Middle school math, for example, is broken into over 10,000 atomic elements, or "knowledge points," such as rational numbers, the properties of a triangle, and the Pythagorean theorem. The goal is to diagnose a student's gaps in understanding as precisely as possible. By comparison, a textbook might divide the same subject into 3,000 points; ALEKS, an adaptive learning platform developed by US-based McGraw-Hill, which inspired Squirrel's, divides it into roughly 1,000.
Once the knowledge points are set, they are paired with video lectures, notes, worked examples, and practice problems. Their relationships -- how they build on each other and overlap -- are encoded in a "knowledge graph," also based on the master teachers' experience.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's oops department
An anonymous reader writes: "The voter information of more than 14.3 million Chileans, which accounts to nearly 80% of the country's entire population, was left exposed and leaking on the internet inside an Elasticsearch database," reports ZDNet. "The database contained names, home addresses, gender, age, and tax ID numbers (RUT, or Rol Único Tributario) for 14,308,151 individuals...including many high-profile Chilean officials."
A spokesperson for the Chile Electoral Service said the data appears to have been scraped without authorization from its website, from a section that allows users to update their voting data. Chile now joins countries as the US, Mexico, Turkey, and the Philippines, whose voter information was gathered in bulk and then published online in one big pile, easy to access for any crooks.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's night-the-lights-went-out department
"A ransomware attack late last week left the Georgia Department of Public Safety and Georgia State Patrol computers offline," reports a local news station.
Lt. Stephanie Stallings, GSP spokesperson, said a message popped up on an employee's computer, prompting preventative measures to shut all server networks down. The servers have been offline since [July 26th]. The Georgia State Patrol's tech division, the Georgia Tech Authority, which handles network and serves, is now checking every device in all 52 state patrol post locations across the state to see if more devices are affected.... The state said Georgia Tech Authority is downloading new protective software on all devices, which are purposely offline until further notice.
Stallings said it's still business as usual. Staff and officers are doing their jobs in the traditional way using paper that they used in the days before having laptops in patrol cars...
News4Jax found there were 184 million ransomware attacks worldwide in 2018
ZDNet reports the attack has crippled laptops installed in police cars across the state. And long-time Slashdot reader McFortner shares their own story:
When I went in to get a copy of an accident report this Friday, the officer at the Henry County, GA, police department told me that at least 7 counties in the Atlanta area were hit at the same time and they had no way of knowing when their computers would be back up. They suggest to anybody needing a report to call them first to see if by any chance the system is back up and the report is finished and can be picked up.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's do-you-hear-what-I-hear department
"Amazon Alexa users can now choose whether human reviewers listen to recordings of their exchanges with the AI assistant," reports VentureBeat, citing an Amazon spokesperson.
To ensure people don't listen to voice recordings collected following each exchange with Alexa, go to Settings, tap the Alexa Privacy link, then choose Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa. Users can also delete their voice recordings via the Alexa app or Amazon website.
The news follows Amazon's introduction of an "Alexa, delete what I said today" voice command in May...
Earlier this week, Google and Apple both pledged to suspend some of their voice data review by people.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's don't-click-here department
A while back some "bored developers and designers" started uploading their ideas for the worst volume control interface in the world. But now Slashdot reader dryriver asks a more serious question:
You follow a news story on CNN or BBC or FoxNews or Reuters. The frontpage of the news site changes so frequently that you wish there was a "News Timeline" UI element at the top of the page, letting you scrub back and forward in time (by hours, days, weeks, years) so you can see previous states of the frontpage and get a better sense of how the story developed over time. How many major news websites have this scrubbable Timeline UI element? Currently none do.
Or you go on Youtube. Hundreds of millions of videos for you to browse. Except that there are only 3 basic UI elements you can use -- keyword search, automated recommendations panel on the right, or a sortable list of a specific channel's uploaded videos.
- There is no visual network or node-diagram UI that would let you browse videos by association.
- There is no browsing by category (e.g. sports > soccer > amateurs > kids ) or by alphabetic order.
- There is no master index or master list of videos -- like a phonebook -- that you can call up to find videos you haven't come across yet.
And yet these UI elements are not very difficult to put in the user's hands at all. Why do websites with tens of millions of daily visitors and massive web development resources do so little to allow more sophisticated browsing for those users who desire it?
"Is there a cogent reason to restrict website navigation to 'simple, limited and dumb'," asks the original submission, "or do these websites simply not care enough or bother enough to put more sophisticated UIs into place?" Share your own thoughts in the comments.
Why do popular web sites have bad UI navigation?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's secret-code department
Schneier has also added the words "This story is wrong" to his original blog post. "The only source for that post was a Forbes essay by Kalev Leetaru, which links to a previous Forbes essay by him, which links to a video presentation from a Facebook developers conference." But that Forbes contributor has also responded, saying that he'd first asked Facebook three times about when they'd deploy the backdoor in WhatsApp -- and never received a response.
Asked again on July 25th the company's plans for "moderating end to end encrypted conversations such as WhatsApp by using on device algorithms," a company spokesperson did not dispute the statement, instead pointing to Zuckerberg's blog post calling for precisely such filtering in its end-to-end encrypted products including WhatsApp [apparently this blog post], but declined to comment when asked for more detail about precisely when such an integration might happen... [T]here are myriad unanswered questions, with the company declining to answer any of the questions posed to it regarding why it is investing in building a technology that appears to serve little purpose outside filtering end-to-end encrypted communications and which so precisely matches Zuckerberg's call. Moreover, beyond its F8 presentation, given Zuckerberg's call for filtering of its end-to-end encrypted products, how does the company plan on accomplishing this apparent contradiction with the very meaning of end-to-end encryption?
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's got-milky-way? department
An anonymous reader quotes the Atlantic:
The sight of a cookie had never made me grimace until this one showed up in my email inbox. DoubleTree by Hilton, the hotel chain, was announcing that it would soon send a little oven and a batch of cookie dough to the International Space Station so that astronauts could, for the first time, bake chocolate-chip cookies in space. The cookies, which the hotel gives guests for free when they check in, are "the perfect food to make the cosmos a more welcoming place," DoubleTree said. Call me a grump, but the endeavor felt gimmicky, the latest in a long line of attempts to promote a company's product, from Tang to KFC sandwiches, against the dreamy backdrop of outer space...
Charles Bourland, a retired NASA scientist, says the agency never tried to develop a space-friendly oven, because it was just too risky. Bourland spent 30 years developing food for astronauts, starting with the Apollo program, before retiring in 1999. "If something catches on fire and starts burning, you're going to have to have some way of overcoming that," Bourland says. "You can't just open the window and let the smoke out." But as I spoke with astronauts and others in the space community, my skepticism about the space cookies softened. Bourland says that many astronauts he worked with liked cooking. And that they missed doing it in space...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's digging-a-hole-to-China department
"Elon Musk wants to drill holes in China," reports TechCrunch:
Musk is due to speak at an AI conference, called the World Artificial Intelligence Conference, taking place in Shanghai on August 29-31. Replying to a tweet about the event he announced: "Will also be launching The Boring Company China on this trip."
Another Twitter user chipped into the conversation to ask whether the company would also do underwater tunnels -- to which Musk replied simply "yes"...
Another design that The Boring Company has proposed -- for an ambitious Loop system from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore -- is still on the drawing board, having attracted major safety concerns by failing to meet several key national safety standards, including lacking sufficient emergency exits and not taking note of the latest engineering practices. So perhaps, in looking to expand The Boring Company by taking his spade to the Far East, Musk is hoping for a more accommodating set of building standards to drive an electric truck through.
This week the CEO of the Monorail System in Las Vegas also complained to city planning officials that The Boring Company's proposed route there for three underground tunnels "intersects our existing system route, and it appears the presented tunnel alignment interferes with our existing columns...and creates significant concern regarding both vertical and lateral loads."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's where-to-put-your-doorbell-cams department
An anonymous reader quotes the Associated Press:
The two contract delivery drivers working for Amazon had a clear-cut assignment: They were supposed to bring packages from a warehouse south of Seattle to a post office for shipping, or sometimes drive to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to pick up items that were being returned to the company. Instead, the FBI said in a search warrant affidavit unsealed last month, they routinely stole the items and sold them at pawn shops.
A police detective last summer noticed that one of the drivers had dozens of pawn shop transactions, and thus began an investigation that uncovered a theft ring that sold millions of dollars' worth of stolen goods on Amazon.com in the past six years, the FBI said... Amazon told investigators that Zghair stole about $100,000 worth of property, including gaming systems, sporting goods and computer products -- items he sold to one of the pawn shops for less than $20,000, the agent wrote...
Detectives staked out the pawn shops, Innovation Best in Kent and Thrift-Electro in Renton, and observed that they appeared to be paying shoplifters and drug users cash for new items from Home Depot, Lowes and Fred Meyer department stores. Unlike typical pawn shops, they didn't make sales; instead, the products were moved to a warehouse and to Amazon "fulfillment centers," from where they were shipped when they were sold on Amazon's website by sellers using the handles "Bestforyouall" or "Freeshipforyou," the affidavit said.
Police say the pawn shops had received 48,000 items over the past six years -- for which they'd paid $4.1 million -- including razors, electric toothbrushes, and allergy medicine.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's in-the-chips department
An anonymous reader quotes TechRadar:
AMD's Ryzen 3000 series processors, spearheaded by the Ryzen 7 3700X, have led what looks like an unprecedented assault on Intel's CPUs, at least going by the figures from one component retailer. The latest stats from German retailer Mindfactory (as highlighted on Reddit) for the month of July show that AMD sold an incredible 79% of all processor units, compared to 21% for Intel.
AMD's top-selling chip was the Ryzen 7 3700X, and get this: sales of that one single processor weren't far off equaling the sales of Intel's entire CPU range (at around the 80% mark of what Intel flogged). In June, AMD's overall market share was 68% at Mindfactory, so the increase to 79% represents a big jump, and the highest proportion of sales achieved by the company this year by a long way.
To put this in a plainer fashion, for every single processor sold by Intel, AMD sold four.
Ryzen 3rd-gen offerings have seemingly sold up a storm in the first couple weeks on shelves, and then slowed down, although that slippage is likely due to stock shortages rather than falling demand (the new flagship Ryzen 9 3900X chip is vanishingly thin on the ground, for example, and is therefore being flogged for extortionate prices on eBay in predictable fashion)... [W]e can throw in as many caveats as we like, but the plain truth (at least from this source) is that AMD's doing better than ever, and grabbing a truly startling proportion of CPU market share -- even with apparent stock issues providing some headwind.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's trolls-collecting-tolls department
In July, members of the federal Senate Judiciary Committee chose to move forward with a bill targeting copyright abuse with a more streamlined way to collect damages, but critics say that it could still allow big online players to push smaller ones around -- and even into bankruptcy.
Known as the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (or CASE) Act, the bill was reintroduced in the House and Senate this spring by a roster of bipartisan lawmakers, with endorsements from such groups as the Copyright Alliance and the Graphic Artists' Guild. Under the bill, the U.S. Copyright Office would establish a new 'small claims-style' system for seeking damages, overseen by a three-person Copyright Claims Board. Owners of digital content who see that content used without permission would be able to file a claim for damages up to $15,000 for each work infringed, and $30,000 in total, if they registered their content with the Copyright Office, or half those amounts if they did not.
"Easy $5,000 copyright infringement tickets won't fix copyright law," argues the EFF, in an article shared by long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike:
The bill would supercharge a "copyright troll" industry dedicated to filing as many "small claims" on as many Internet users as possible in order to make money through the bill's statutory damages provisions. Every single person who uses the Internet and regularly interacts with copyrighted works (that's everyone) should contact their Senators to oppose this bill...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's firewalls-don't-work department
"Firewalls can be notoriously and fiendishly difficult to configure correctly, and often present a target-rich environment for successful attacks," writes long-time Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein.
"The thing is, firewall vulnerabilities are not headline news -- they're an old story, and better solutions to providing network security already exist."
In particular, Google's "BeyondCorp" approach is something that every enterprise involved in computing should make itself familiar with. Right now! BeyondCorp techniques are how Google protects its own internal networks and systems from attack, with enormous success.
In a nutshell, BeyondCorp is a set of practices that effectively puts "zero trust" in the networks themselves, moving access control and other authentication elements to individual devices and users. This eliminates traditional firewalls (and in nearly all instances, VPNs) because there is no longer any need for such devices or systems that, once breached, give an attacker access to internal goodies.
If Capital One had been following BeyondCorp principles, there'd likely be 100+ million fewer potentially panicky people today.Read Replies (0)