By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department
dryriver writes: The BBC reports on a 50ft long and only 120kg heavy blimp-like UAV aircraft that is designed to fly at 70,000 feet, is entirely solar powered, uses variable-buoyancy for propulsion, and can essentially stay airborne in a self-powered way until it experiences mechanical or electrical failure. The Phoenix varies its buoyancy continuously using a helium-filled fuselage that also has an interior air sack that works a bit like a lung. It can inhale air and compress it on demand, making the aircraft temporarily heavier than air, and expel the inhaled air through a nozzle at the back of the aircraft, making the aircraft lighter than air again, creating some extra forward propulsion in the process.
The Phoenix -- which is a simple, cheap-to-build aircraft that its designers describe as "almost a disposable aircraft" -- could one day act as a satellite replacement flying at 70,000 feet. It may also be used for surveillance purposes or to release micro-satellites into earth orbit. The Phoenix has already completed short test-flights of 120m inside the hangar it was built in. This YouTube video shows just how gently the Phoenix rises into the air, hovers in place, and lands again. Unlike drones that need to land, refuel and then take to the skies again, the Phoenix may stay in the air for very long periods of time, landing only for periodic maintenance of its electrical and mechanical components.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hidden-adware department
A total of 50 malicious apps have managed to bypass Google's security checks and land on the Google Play store, leading to millions of installs on Android devices. ZDNet reports: Now, the cybersecurity team from Avast have found a further 50 apps relating to lifestyle services which masquerade as legitimate software but are actually adware, and these malicious apps have been downloaded a total of 30 million times. On Tuesday, Avast published a report on the discovery, in which the apps are linked to each other through third-party libraries that "bypass the background service restrictions present in newer Android versions."
"Although the bypassing itself is not explicitly forbidden on the Play Store, Avast detects it as Android:Agent-SEB [PUP], because apps using these libraries waste the user's battery and make the device slower," the researchers say. "The applications use the libraries to continuously display more and more ads to the user, going against Play Store rules." Each app displays full-blown ads to users, and in some cases, will also attempt to lure viewers to install additional adware-laden applications. The malicious apps include Pro Piczoo, Photo Blur Studio, Mov-tracker, Magic Cut Out, and Pro Photo Eraser. Installation rates range from one million to one thousand.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's smart-regulation department
In an interview at the TIME 100 Summit in New York, Apple CEO Tim Cook said more government regulation on the tech industry is needed in order to protect privacy. "We all have to be intellectually honest, and we have to admit that what we're doing isn't working," said Cook. "Technology needs to be regulated. There are now too many examples where the no rails have resulted in a great damage to society." Time Magazine reports: In the interview, Cook suggested that U.S. regulators could look to Europe's passage of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. "GDPR isn't ideal," said Cook. "But GDPR is a step in the right direction." In light of recent data breaches and foreign election influence through social media, Cook's view is that the tech industry has no other responsible option but to accept more government oversight, a position he outlined in a recent TIME Ideas piece.
"I'm hopeful," Cook said at the Summit. "We are advocating strongly for regulation -- I do not see another path." Cook also explained Apple's stance on transparency and money in politics. "We focus on policies, not politics," Cook said. "Apple doesn't have a PAC...I refuse to have one because it shouldn't exist." [...] "I try not to get wrapped up in a pretzel about who we upset," Cook said. "At the end of the day we'll be judged more on 'did we stand up for what we believed in,' not necessarily, 'do they agree with it.'"Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's invisibility-cloak department
A group of engineers from the University of KU Leuven in Belgium have come up with a solution to make users invisible to one specific algorithm. "In a paper shared last week on the preprint server arXiv, these students show how simple printed patterns can fool an AI system that's designed to recognize people in images," reports The Verge. From the report: If you print off one of the students' specially designed patches and hang it around your neck, from an AI's point of view, you may as well have slipped under an invisibility cloak. As the researchers write: "We believe that, if we combine this technique with a sophisticated clothing simulation, we can design a T-shirt print that can make a person virtually invisible for automatic surveillance cameras."
In the case of this recent research -- which we spotted via Google researcher David Ha -- some caveats do apply. Most importantly, the adversarial patch developed by the students can only fool one specific algorithm named YOLOv2. It doesn't work against even off-the-shelf computer vision systems developed by Google or other tech companies, and, of course, it doesn't work if a person is looking at the image.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
ASUS was not the only company targeted by supply-chain attacksduring the ShadowHammer hacking operation as discovered by Kaspersky, with at least six other organizations having been infiltrated by the attackers. From a report: As further found out by Kaspersky's security researchers, ASUS' supply chain was successfully compromised by trojanizing one of the company's notebook software updaters named ASUS Live Updater which eventually was downloaded and installed on the computers of tens of thousands of customers according to experts' estimations. The tampered with binaries were signed using a legitimate certificate which helped the attackers avoid breaking the digital signature and having the malicious updater flagged.
Among the similarities, they discovered that the ASUS samples and the newly found ones were both using very similar algorithms to calculate API function hashes, while the IPHLPAPI.dll was heavily used within all malware samples for various reasons. As in the ASUS case, the samples were using digitally signed binaries from three other Asian vendors: Electronics Extreme, authors of the zombie survival game called Infestation: Survivor Stories. Innovative Extremist, a company that provides Web and IT infrastructure services but also used to work in game development. Zepetto, the South Korean company that developed the video game Point Blank. Besides these three Asian gaming companies, Kaspersky was also able to find three other organizations which were successfully compromised, "another video gaming company, a conglomerate holding company and a pharmaceutical company, all in South Korea."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's major-bets department
Masayoshi Son, the billionaire founder of SoftBank Group, made a huge personal bet on bitcoin just as prices for the digital currency peaked, losing more than $130 million when he sold out, WSJ (paywalled) reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. From the report (alternative source): Mr. Son, who launched the world's biggest venture-capital fund on the strength of his long-term investing acumen, made the investment at the recommendation of a well-known bitcoin booster, whose investment firm SoftBank bought in 2017, the people said. The investment came at the peak of the bitcoin frenzy in late 2017 after the digital currency had already risen more than 10 fold that year. The exact size of the bet couldn't be determined, but bitcoin peaked at nearly $20,000 in mid December 2017 and Mr. Son sold in early 2018 after bitcoin had plummeted, the people said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's aggressive-expansion department
MojoKid writes: NVIDIA has launched a new family of more budget friendly Turing graphics chips for gaming laptops, called the GeForce GTX 1650, GeForce GTX 1660, and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. The new GPUs will power roughly 80 different OEM mainstream gaming notebook designs, starting in the $799 price range. Compared to a 4-year-old gaming laptop with a GeForce GTX 960M, NVIDIA says that a modern counterpart equipped with a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti can deliver 4x the performance in today's battle royale-style games like Apex Legends, Fortnite, and PUBG. As for the GeForce GTX 1650, NVIDIA is promising a 2.5x performance advantage compared to the GTX 950M and a 1.7x advantage compared to the previous generation GTX 1050. Gamers should expect consistent 60 fps performance in the above-mentioned gaming titles at 1080p, though the company didn't specifically mention GTX 1660 vs 1060 performance comparisons. According to NVIDIA, every major OEM will be releasing GeForce GTX 16 Series laptops, including well-known brands like ASUS, Dell/Alienware, Acer, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo (among others).Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-forward department
Intel debuted six new 9th-gen mobile H-series Core chips on Tuesday -- with its fastest, the Core i9-9980HK, soaring to a new high-water mark: 8 cores, 16 threads, and a whopping 5GHz clock speed, after boost. From a report: After launching its 9th-generation Core chips for desktop PCs last October, Intel has now brought that same capability to notebooks. Intel executives said systems based upon the 9th-gen chips are expected to debut shortly. All the chips are based on the "Coffee Lake Refresh" (Coffee Lake-R) architecture, and all are fabricated on a 14nm process. Last year's 8th-gen mobile Core chips topped out at 4.8GHz, and offered only 6 cores.
Though theoretically anyone can benefit from the increased performance, Intel is aiming at two particular segments: professional content creators and gamers. Intel said it expects its 9th-gen Core i9-9980HK (8 cores/16 threads, 2.4GHz/5GHz turbo) to deliver up to 18 percent higher frames per second in games and 28 percent faster 4K video editing than the 8th-gen Core i9-8950HK (6 cores/12 threads, 2.9GHz/4.8GHz turbo). When performing general office tasks and web browsing, the chips can run in a low-power mode, with an "aspirational goal" of ten hours of battery life, or just an hour while gaming, executives said. Price, performance, and power are the old battlefronts, though. Further reading: All the Desktop and Mobile 45W CPUs Announced (AnandTech).Read Replies (0)