By EditorDavid from Slashdot's aliens-unharmed department
"The mysterious 11-day closure of a New Mexico solar observatory stemmed from an FBI investigation of a janitor suspected of using the facility's wireless internet service to send and receive child pornography, federal court documents showed..."
An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post:
In July, FBI agents investigating child sexual exploitation traced the location of several IP addresses linked to child pornography activity to the observatory, according to a 39-page search warrant application. During an interview with federal authorities on Aug. 21, the facility's chief observer said he had found, on a number of occasions, the same laptop hidden and running in various seldom-used offices around the observatory. He described the contents of the laptop as "not good," according to court documents. A federal agent immediately went to the observatory, located deep within Lincoln National Forest, and took the laptop into evidence...
Aside from continuing to "feverishly" search the facility, the documents state that the janitor said, "it was only a matter of time before the facility 'got hit,'" and that he "believed there was a serial killer in the area, and that he was fearful that the killer might enter the facility and execute someone." In response to the janitor's behavior, the management of the observatory, without input from the FBI, shut it down and evacuated its personnel. The facility's cleaning contract with the janitor's parents was also terminated.
The warrant application specified that the janitor "has a key to the building and unlimited access to the building, and is familiar with which offices are used only a handful of times a year."
It also says that the janitor was the only person in the facility at the time of the alleged downloads.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's taste-of-the-past department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Computer historians have staged a re-enactment of World War Two code-cracking at Bletchley Park. A replica code-breaking computer called a Bombe was used to decipher a message scrambled by an Enigma machine. Held at the National Museum of Computing (TNMOC), the event honored Polish help with wartime code-cracking. Enigma machines were used extensively by the German army and navy during World War Two. This prompted a massive effort by the Allies to crack the complex method they employed to scramble messages. That effort was co-ordinated via Bletchley Park and resulted in the creation of the Bombe, said Paul Kellar who helps to keep a replica machine running at the museum. Renowned mathematician Alan Turing was instrumental in the creation of the original Bombe.
For its re-enactment, TNMOC recruited a team of 12 and used a replica Bombe that, until recently, had been on display at the Bletchley Park museum next door. The electro-mechanical Bombe was designed to discover which settings the German Enigma operators used to scramble their messages. As with World War Two messages, the TNMOC team began with a hint or educated guess about the content of the message, known as a "crib," which was used to set up the Bombe. The machine then cranked through the millions of possible combinations until it came to a "good stop," said Mr Kellar. This indicated that the Bombe had found key portions of the settings used to turn readable German into gobbledygook. After that, said Mr Kellar, it was just a matter of time before the 12-strong team cracked the message.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sign-of-the-times department
Mallory Locklear reporting via Engadget: The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has released music industry revenue statistics for the first half of 2018 in the U.S., and on average, revenue growth has slowed. While overall revenue was up 10 percent compared to the same time last year, clocking in at $4.6 billion, that rate is only around half of the increase observed between the first halves of 2016 and 2017. Streaming revenue growth slowed as well, though it was still up 28 percent compared to last year. Notably, streaming accounted for the vast majority of revenue so far this year, with 75 percent of overall revenue coming from streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal.
The numbers also show that more people continue to join paid subscription services, with subscription rates growing by about one million per month. But while streaming revenue is still on an upward trend, the news isn't so good for digital downloads and CD sales. Digital downloads have only made up 12 percent of overall revenue so far this year, down from 19 percent last year, and CD sales saw a whopping 41 percent drop in revenue. To compare, during the same time last year, CD sales were only down three percent from the year before. Vinyl revenue, however, is up 13 percent.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's could-this-happen department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Building walls on the seafloor could prevent glaciers from melting and sea levels rising due to global warming, scientists say. Barriers of sand and rock positioned at the base of glaciers would stop ice sheets sliding and collapsing, and prevent warm water from eroding the ice from beneath, according to research published this week in the Cryosphere journal, from the European Geosciences Union. The audacious idea centers on the construction of "extremely simple structures, merely piles of aggregate on the ocean floor, although more advanced structures could certainly be explored in the future," said the report's authors, Michael Wolovick, a researcher at the department of geosciences at Princeton University, and John Moore, professor of climate change at the University of Lapland in Finland.
Using computer models to gauge the probable impact of walls on erosion of the Thwaites glacier in Antarctica, one of the world's largest, Wolovick and Moore hoped to test the efficiency of "a locally targeted intervention." They claimed the simplest designs would allow direct comparison with existing engineering projects. "The easiest design that we considered would be comparable to the largest civil engineering projects that humanity has ever attempted," they said. "An ice sheet intervention today would be at the edge of human capabilities." For example, building four isolated walls would require between 0.1 and 1.5 cubic km of material. "That is comparable to the 0.1 km3 that was used to create Palm Jumeirah in Dubai ($12 billion)...(and) the 0.3 km3 that was used to create Hong Kong International Airport ($20 billion)," the report said. The authors say there's only a 30% probability of success due to the harsh environment, but did mention that the scientific community could work on a plan that was both achievable and had a high probability of success.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's downward-spiral department
Telltale Games, the video game developer behind The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Batman: The Enemy Within, laid off a large number of its staff today. According to The Verge, "the company will retain a small team of 25." From the report: "Today Telltale Games made the difficult decision to begin a majority studio closure following a year marked by insurmountable challenges," the company said in a statement. "A majority of the company's employees were dismissed earlier this morning." The remaining employees will stay on "to fulfill the company's obligations to its board and partners," according to Telltale. Staff were informed of the layoffs today and were given roughly 30 minutes to leave the building, according to one source.
Telltale had previously announced a second season of The Wolf Among Us and a game based off of Netflix's wildly popular show Stranger Things. The company has not yet commented on the status of those projects, though the outcome seems dire. On Twitter, one former lead writer wrote, "I'm so sad we won't be able to show you all Wolf." The layoffs come a few months after revelations that Telltale was a studio mired in toxic management that included employees being subjected to constant overwork. Once an industry darling that worked on iconic brands like Game of Thrones and Minecraft, Telltale quickly spiraled.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's information-era department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Days after the Trump administration instituted a controversial travel ban in January 2017, Google employees discussed how they could tweak the company's search-related functions (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source) to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies, according to internal company emails. The email traffic, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, shows that employees proposed ways to "leverage" search functions and take steps to counter what they considered to be "islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms 'Islam', 'Muslim', 'Iran', etc." and "prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms `Mexico', `Hispanic', `Latino', etc." The email chain, while sprinkled with cautionary notes about engaging in political activity, suggests employees considered ways to harness the company's vast influence on the internet in response to the travel ban. Google said none of the ideas discussed were implemented. "These emails were just a brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented," a company spokeswoman said in a statement. "Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology -- not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump's executive order on immigration. Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Magic Leap, a US-based startup valued at north of $6 billion and which counts Google, Alibaba, Warner Bros, AT&T, and several top Silicon Valley venture capital firms as its investors, is pushing to land a contract with the U.S. Army to build augmented-reality devices for soldiers to use on combat missions, Bloomberg reported Friday, citing government documents and interviews with people familiar with the process. From the report: The contract, which could eventually lead to the military purchasing over 100,000 headsets as part of a program whose total cost could exceed $500 million, is intended to "increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy," according to an Army description of the program. A large government contract could alter the course of the highest-profile startup working on augmented reality, at a time when prospects to produce a consumer device remain uncertain. Building tools to make soldiers more deadly is a far cry from the nascent consumer market for augmented reality. But the army's program has also drawn interest from Microsoft, whose HoloLens is Magic Leap's main rival. The commercial-grade versions of both devices still face significant technological hurdles, and its not clear the companies can fulfil the army's technical requirements. If recent history is any guide, a large military contract is also sure to be controversial within the companies. Last month, Magic Leap unveiled its much-hyped AR device to the press and select developers.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
Google bosses have forced employees to delete a confidential memo circulating inside the company that revealed explosive details about a plan to launch a censored search engine in China, The Intercept has learned. From the report: The memo, authored by a Google engineer who was asked to work on the project, disclosed that the search system, code-named Dragonfly, would require users to log in to perform searches, track their location -- and share the resulting history with a Chinese partner who would have "unilateral access" to the data. The memo was shared earlier this month among a group of Google employees who have been organizing internal protests over the censored search system, which has been designed to remove content that China's authoritarian Communist Party regime views as sensitive, such as information about democracy, human rights and peaceful protest. According to three sources familiar with the incident, Google leadership discovered the memo and were furious that secret details about the China censorship were being passed between employees who were not supposed to have any knowledge about it. Subsequently, Google human resources personnel emailed employees who were believed to have accessed or saved copies of the memo and ordered them to immediately delete it from their computers. Emails demanding deletion of the memo contained âoepixel trackersâ that notified human resource managers when their messages had been read, recipients determined.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Tekla S. Perry, writing for IEEE Spectrum: David Patterson -- University of California professor, Google engineer, and RISC pioneer -- says there's no better time than now to be a computer architect. That's because Moore's Law really is over, he says : "We are now a factor of 15 behind where we should be if Moore's Law were still operative. We are in the post -- Moore's Law era." This means, Patterson told engineers attending the 2018 @Scale Conference held in San Jose last week, that "we're at the end of the performance scaling that we are used to. When performance doubled every 18 months, people would throw out their desktop computers that were working fine because a friend's new computer was so much faster." But last year, he said, "single program performance only grew 3 percent, so it's doubling every 20 years. If you are just sitting there waiting for chips to get faster, you are going to have to wait a long time."Read Replies (0)