By BeauHD from Slashdot's record-breaking department
Researchers using Hubble space telescope data have spotted Icarus (aka MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1), a blue supergiant whose light was emitted when it was 9 billion light years away from Earth -- over 100 times farther than the previous record-setter. According to Engadget, "They captured the star thanks to a rare, ideal gravitational lensing effect where the star's light was magnified not only by the gravity of an in-between galaxy cluster 5 billion light years from Earth, but by a star inside that cluster." From the report: Observers had been keeping close watch on the cluster since 2014, when they'd detected a supernova that turned out to be present in a galaxy 9 billion light years away. They realized Icarus was present in April 2016, when a point of light near the supernova seemed to change brightness. Don't get too attached to this new discovery. With this kind of distance, Icarus has long-since turned into a neutron star or black hole. The findings are still advancing science in ways you might not expect, however. As the Guardian noted, the Icarus study ruled out a theory that dark matter consists of black holes. If that had been the case, they would have brightened Icarus even more. And if nothing else, this proves that humanity can detect more than just the largest and brightest celestial objects at these kinds of distances.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department
In a just-released white paper, the Army describes how it's working to make a battlefield network of machines and humans a reality. The Next Web reports: "Most of such intelligent things will not be too dissimilar from the systems we see on today's battlefield, such as unattended ground sensors, guided missiles (especially the fire-and-forget variety) and of course the unmanned aerial systems (UAVs)," reads the paper. "They will likely include physical robots ranging from very small size (such as an insect-scale mobile sensors) to large vehicle that can carry troops and supplies. Some will fly, others will crawl or walk or ride."
The paper was authored by the Army's chief of the Network Science Division of the Army Research Laboratory, Dr. Alexander Kott. It outlines the need to develop systems to augment both machines and people in the real world with artificially intelligent agents to defend the network: "In addition to physical intelligent things, the battlefield -- or at least the cyber domain of the battlefield -- will be populated with disembodied, cyber robots. These will reside within various computers and networks, and will move and acts in the cyberspace."
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's when-it-rains-it-pours department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Krebs on Security: Panerabread.com, the website for the American chain of bakery-cafe fast casual restaurants by the same name, leaked millions of customer records -- including names, email and physical addresses, birthdays and the last four digits of the customer's credit card number -- for at least eight months before it was yanked offline earlier today, KrebsOnSecurity has learned. The data available in plain text from Panera's site appeared to include records for any customer who has signed up for an account to order food online via panerabread.com. The St. Louis-based company, which has more than 2,100 retail locations in the United States and Canada, allows customers to order food online for pickup in stores or for delivery.
Another data point exposed in these records included the customer's Panera loyalty card number, which could potentially be abused by scammers to spend prepaid accounts or to otherwise siphon value from Panera customer loyalty accounts. It is not clear yet exactly how many Panera customer records may have been exposed by the company's leaky Web site, but incremental customer numbers indexed by the site suggest that number may be higher than seven million. It's also unclear whether any Panera customer account passwords may have been impacted. In a written statement, Panera said it had fixed the problem within less than two hours of being notified by KrebsOnSecurity. But Panera did not explain why it appears to have taken the company eight months to fix the issue after initially acknowledging it privately with [security researcher Dylan Houlihan, who originally notified Panera about customer data leaking from its website back on August 2, 2017].Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's good-and-bad-news department
According to an email from Elon Musk, Tesla has increased its production of its mass-market electric Model 3 to over 2,000 units per week. "It's an impressive ramp up of production, but it still falls short of Musk's goal of 2,500 Model 3s per week by the end of the first quarter of 2018," reports The Verge. From the report: In the companywide email (which was obtained by Jalopnik, Electrek, and Autonocast host Ed Niedermeyer), Musk sounds a celebratory note on the 2,000-vehicle per week benchmark, while ignoring the larger issue of missed deadlines: "It has been extremely difficult to pass the 2,000 cars per week rate for Model 3, but we are finally there. If things go as planned today, we will comfortably exceed that number over a seven-day period! Moreover, the whole Tesla production system is now on a firm foundation for that output, which means we should be able to exceed a combined Model S, X, and 3 production rate of 4,000 vehicles per week and climbing rapidly. This is already double the pace of 2017! By the end of this year, I believe we will be producing vehicles at least four times faster than last year." With Q1 now behind us, we can expect to see Tesla report its official production numbers to investors sometime this week.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's privacy-matters department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed: The gay hookup app Grindr, which has more than 3.6 million daily active users across the world, has been providing its users' HIV status to two other companies, BuzzFeed News has learned. The two companies -- Apptimize and Localytics, which help optimize apps -- receive some of the information that Grindr users choose to include in their profiles, including their HIV status and "last tested date." Because the HIV information is sent together with users' GPS data, phone ID, and email, it could identify specific users and their HIV status, according to Antoine Pultier, a researcher at the Norwegian nonprofit SINTEF, which first identified the issue.
Grindr was founded in 2009 and has been increasingly branding itself as the go-to app for healthy hookups and gay cultural content. In December, the company launched an online magazine dedicated to cultural issues in the queer community. The app offers free ads for HIV-testing sites, and last week, it debuted an optional feature that would remind users to get tested for HIV every three to six months. But the new analysis, confirmed by cybersecurity experts who analyzed SINTEF's data and independently verified by BuzzFeed News, calls into question how seriously the company takes its users' privacy. SINTEF's analysis also showed that Grindr was sharing its users' precise GPS position, "tribe" (meaning what gay subculture they identify with), sexuality, relationship status, ethnicity, and phone ID to other third-party advertising companies. And this information, unlike the HIV data, was sometimes shared via "plain text," which can be easily hacked.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's price-sensitive department
According to a report from The Economic Times, Google is developing a new mid-range Pixel smartphone. "The paper claims that 'Google's top brass shared details of its consumer products expansion plans in trade meetings held in Malaysia, the UK, and the U.S. last month." The story cites "four senior industry executives" that were present at the talks. Ars Technica reports: The Economic Times pegs "around July-August" for the launch date of this mid-range device, which the publication says will have a focus on "price-sensitive markets such as India." The phone would be part of Google Hardware's first push into India, which would involve bringing the Pixelbook, Google Home, and Google Home Mini to the country. The Indian paper did not say if the phone would launch in other countries, but it did say the phone would be launched in addition to the regular Pixel 3 flagship, which the report says is still due around October. It's good to hear Google is considering expanding the Pixel line to more countries (even if it's just one more country) as distribution is currently one of Google Hardware's biggest weak points. The Pixel 2 XL is only available in eight countries; by comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S9 is sold in 110 countries. If Google really wants to compete in the smartphone market, it will have to do a lot better than selling in eight countries.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ones-and-zeros department
dryriver writes: Anyone who has built a PC in recent years knows how confusing the letters and numbers that trail modern CPU and GPU names can be because they do not necessarily tell you how fast one electronic part is compared to another electronic part. A Zoomdaahl Core C-5 7780 is not necessarily faster than a Boomberg ElectronRipper V-6 6220 -- the number at the end, unlike a GFLOPS or TFLOPS number for example, tells you very little about the real-world performance of the part. It is not easy to create one unified, standardized performance benchmark that could change this. One part may be great for 3D gaming, a competing part may smoke the first part in a database server application, and a third part may compress 4K HEVC video 11% faster. So creating something like, say, a Standardized Real-World Application Performance Score (SRWAPS) and putting that score next to the part name, letters, or series number will probably never happen. A lot of competing companies would have to agree to a particular type of benchmark, make sure all benchmarking is done fairly and accurately, and so on and so forth. But how are the average consumers just trying to buy the right home laptop or gaming PC for their kids supposed to cope with the "letters and numbers salad" that follows CPU, GPU and other computer part names? If you are computer literate, you can dive right into the different performance benchmarks for a certain part on a typical tech site that benchmarks parts. But what if you are "Computer Buyer Joe" or "Jane Average" and you just want to glean quickly which two products -- two budget priced laptops listed on Amazon.com for example -- have the better performance overall? Is there no way to create some kind of rough numeric indicator of real-world performance and put it into a product's specs for quick comparison?Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's like-clockwork department
Longtime Slashdot reader lalleglad writes: SpaceX today launched a Falcon 9 with its 14th Resupply Services mission. I saw it went well, and I hope it will also attach to the International Space Station (ISS) in good order. Incidentally, it carries the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM), which is an European Space Agency (ESA) project to investigate Earth-to-space lighting and thunder. Let's hope that it will enable better weather movement understanding, and for us plain people, better weather forecasts! "The Falcon 9 rocket, whose first stage launched ISS supplies last August, fired nine Merlin main engines again to roar from Launch Complex 40 at 4:30 p.m.," reports Florida Today. "Ten minutes later, the unmanned Dragon capsule, which launched to the ISS two years earlier, floated free of the rocket's upper stage to start a two-day journey back to the orbiting research complex. It was the second time a recycled Falcon 9 and Dragon had launched together, and the 11th time in just over a year that SpaceX had re-launched a used -- or what the company prefers to call 'flight proven' -- rocket." CNBC notes that the CRS-14 launch was the company's seventh successful mission this year. You can watch the recorded livestream of the launch here.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's add-fuel-to-the-fire department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Vox: Facebook's fake news problems extend far beyond Russian trolls interfering in U.S. elections. Overseas, false stories have turned into tools of political warfare -- most notably in Myanmar, where government forces have carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya, the country's Muslim minority group. In an interview with Vox's Ezra Klein, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed Facebook's role in fueling and inciting anti-Muslim and anti-Rohingya sentiment. "The Myanmar issues have, I think, gotten a lot of focus inside the company," Zuckerberg said. "And they're real issues and we take this really seriously."
He recalled one incident where Facebook detected that people were trying to spread "sensational messages" through Facebook Messenger to incite violence on both sides of the conflict. He acknowledged that in such instances, it's clear that people are using Facebook "to incite real-world harm." But in this case, at least, the messages were detected and stopped from going through. "This is certainly something that we're paying a lot of attention to," Zuckerberg continued. "It's a real issue, and we want to make sure that all of the tools that we're bringing to bear on eliminating hate speech, inciting violence, and basically protecting the integrity of civil discussions that we're doing in places like Myanmar, as well as places like the U.S. that do get a disproportionate amount of the attention."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department
The Tor Project has announced that it's winding down its privacy-focused Tor Messenger chat program, nearly three years after its beta debut. From a report: Tor, an acronym of "The Onion Router," is better known for its privacy-focused browser that directs traffic through a volunteer-run network of relays to prevent any untoward eavesdropping on users' online activity. Indeed, the Tor Browser is often used by activists, whistleblowers, and anyone wishing to remain anonymous, and major companies -- such as Facebook -- have embraced Tor over the years. The people behind the anonymity network started working on Tor Messenger in early 2014, launched it in alpha a year later, before rolling out the beta version in October 2015, where it has remained since -- though there have been more than 10 separate beta releases. [...] In terms of why Tor Messenger is being sunsetted, well, there are a number of reasons. Arguably the most important of the reasons is that uptake wasn't quite where Tor wanted it to be at to justify working on it, while it also realized that it wasn't the perfect private messaging client due to its metadata problem.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's next-up department
Apple is planning to use homegrown custom-built processors in its Mac line of computers, ditching Intel, the processors by which powers Apple's current line of computers, Bloomberg reported on Monday. The company could make the switch to its own chips as early as 2020, the report said. From the report: The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple's devices -- including Macs, iPhones, and iPads -- work more similarly and seamlessly together, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The project, which executives have approved, will likely result in a multi-step transition. The shift would be a blow to Intel, whose partnership helped revive Apple's Mac success and linked the chipmaker to one of the leading brands in electronics. Apple provides Intel with about 5 percent of its annual revenue, according to Bloomberg supply chain analysis. Intel shares dropped as much as 9.2 percent, the biggest intraday drop in more than two years, on the news.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
A large crack, stretching several miles, made a sudden appearance recently in south-western Kenya. The tear emerged after heavy rains caused havoc in the nation last month, which also saw neighborhood get flooded and major highways closing off. The downpour also exposed a fault line that geologists now say is evidence that the African continent will split into two over the next tens of millions of years. From a report: The Earth is an ever-changing planet, even though in some respects change might be almost unnoticeable to us. Plate tectonics is a good example of this. But every now and again something dramatic happens and leads to renewed questions about the African continent splitting in two. The Earth's lithosphere (formed by the crust and the upper part of the mantle) is broken up into a number of tectonic plates. These plates are not static, but move relative to each other at varying speeds, "gliding" over a viscous asthenosphere. [...] The East African Rift Valley stretches over 3,000km from the Gulf of Aden in the north towards Zimbabwe in the south, splitting the African plate into two unequal parts: the Somali and Nubian plates. Activity along the eastern branch of the rift valley, running along Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, became evident when the large crack suddenly appeared in south-western Kenya. When the lithosphere is subject to a horizontal extensional force it will stretch, becoming thinner. Eventually, it will rupture, leading to the formation of a rift valley. This process is accompanied by surface manifestations along the rift valley in the form of volcanism and seismic activity. Rifts are the initial stage of a continental break-up and, if successful, can lead to the formation of a new ocean basin.Read Replies (0)