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Is Cyber Arms Control a Lost Cause?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '15 at 08:51 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's gentlemen-do-not-read-each-other's-mail department:
Nicola Hahn writes In light of a classified document regarding state-sponsored cyber ops, the editorial board at the New York Times has suggested that the most constructive approach to reducing the spread of cyber threats would be to "accelerate international efforts to negotiate limits on the cyberarms race, akin to the arms-control treaties of the Cold War."

While such advice is by all means well-intentioned there are significant differences between nuclear weapons and malware that would make treaty verification problematic. Not to mention that the history of the Cold War itself illustrates that certain countries viewed arms control treaties as an opportunity to secretly race ahead with their own covert weapons programs. Rather than take on the Sisyphean task of trying to limit the development of offensive cyber technology, why not shift national priorities towards creating robust, fault-tolerant, systems that render offensive tools ineffective?


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GSM/GPS Tracking Device Found On Activist's Car At Circumvention Tech Festival
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '15 at 08:51 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-can't-catch-a-break-with-you-people department:
vivaoporto writes A GSM/GPS tracking device was found this March 4 on an activist's car attending the Circumvention Tech Festival in Valencia, Spain, a festival that proposes to gather "the community fighting censorship and surveillance for a week of conferences, workshops, hackathons, and social gatherings, featuring many of the Internet Freedom community's flagship events." They are now asking for the internet tech community for help in order to identify the device. Below verbatim is the plea for help published on the Tor Project website. The fine article also contains pictures of the device.

"On March 4th, 2015, we found a tracking device inside of the wheel well of a car belonging to an attendee of the Circumvention Tech Festival in Valencia, Spain. This was reported in the local media.

If you have information about this device — please send information to jacob at appelbaum dot net using gpg.

The device was magnetically mounted inside of the left wheel well of the car. The battery is attached by cable to the tracking device. The battery was magnetically mounted to the frame of the car. The tracking device was similarly magnetically mounted. The device itself has an external magnetically mounted GPS antenna. It has a very simple free hanging GSM antenna. The device included a Movistar SIM card for GSM network access. The entire device was wrapped in black tape."


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Hands-On With the Vivaldi Browser
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '15 at 08:51 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's does-not-consume-all-available-memory department:
justthinkit writes: Vivaldi is billing itself as the power user's browser, and Ars went hands-on with it today. They say, "Vivaldi has so many great features, but it can be a little frustrating because it is still very much a technical preview. It's been largely stable during testing (most of the bugs we encountered using the first release are gone in the second), but it's still missing some key features." It appears to have the cred, with Vivaldi's CEO being Jon S. von Tetzchner, the co-founder and former CEO of Opera. Does the thinking behind Vivaldi appeal to you? Do you plan to switch when it's more feature-complete?

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NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Becomes First To Orbit a Dwarf Planet
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '15 at 08:51 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's still-working-on-orbiting-an-elf-planet department:
The Grim Reefer writes with news that at 7:39 AM EST (12:39 UTC) today, NASA's Dawn spacecraft was captured by the gravity of dwarf planet Ceres.
Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California received a signal from the spacecraft at 5:36 a.m. PST (8:36 a.m. EST) that Dawn was healthy and thrusting with its ion engine, the indicator Dawn had entered orbit as planned. "Since its discovery in 1801, Ceres was known as a planet, then an asteroid and later a dwarf planet," said Marc Rayman, Dawn chief engineer and mission director at JPL. "Now, after a journey of 3.1 billion miles (4.9 billion kilometers) and 7.5 years, Dawn calls Ceres home." In addition to being the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet, Dawn also has the distinction of being the first mission to orbit two extraterrestrial targets. From 2011 to 2012, the spacecraft explored the giant asteroid Vesta, delivering new insights and thousands of images from that distant world. Ceres and Vesta are the two most massive residents of our solar system's main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Further details available from the Planetary Society.

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Inside Bratislava's Low-Cost, Open Source Bike Share Solution
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '15 at 08:51 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's trusting-people-not-to-be-jerks department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Bike Kitchen started WhiteBikes in Bratislava after a failed attempt by the city to finance a similar program. At first users shared donated bikes with the same lock code. They needed a system that would work somewhat automatically without the need for manual rentals (e.g. somebody giving out bicycles). From there, smsBikeShare was born. Users registered with a mobile phone number and could send basic SMS commands (RENT, RETURN, FREE, WHERE, etc.). The system used an inexpensive SMS gateway API and a local message-back number to receive and respond to messages. Shared bicycles have a coded U-lock with a four-digit number, and upon renting a bike, users receive a code to unlock the bicycle and another to reset it to once they are done. Send a message, receive the answer, unlock the bike, reset the lock, and you're off pedaling.

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Come and Take It, Texas Gun Enthusiasts (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '15 at 08:51 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's a-lower-receiver-can-be-an-entire-gun-under-the-law department:
In Texas, guns are a common sight:gun-racks are visible in the back of many pick-ups, and pistols, cannons, and rifles are part of the state's iconography. Out-of-sight guns are common, too: The state has had legal (though highly regulated) concealed carry for handguns since 1995, though -- contrary to some people's guess, and with some exceptions -- open carry of handguns is not generally legal. One thing that's definitely not a common sight, though, is a group of people manufacturing guns just outside the south gates of the Texas capitol building. But that's just what you would have encountered a few weeks ago, when an organization called CATI (Come and Take It) Texas set up a tent that served as a tech demo as much as an act of social provocation. CATI had on hand one of the same Ghost Gunner CNC mills that FedEx now balks at shipping, and spent hours showing all comers how a "gun" (in the eyes of regulators, at least) can be quickly shaped from a piece of aluminum the ATF classifies as just a piece of aluminum. They came prepared to operate off-grid, and CATI Texas president Murdoch Pizgatti showed for my camera that the Ghost Gunner works just fine operating from a few big batteries -- no mains power required. (They ran the mill at a slower speed, though, to conserve juice.)

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The Abandoned Google Project Memorial Page
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '15 at 08:51 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's Hello!-Wave-Lively,-Reader! department:

< article continued at Slashdot >

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'Chappie': What It Takes To Render a Robot
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '15 at 08:51 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-the-cycles-you-can-muster department:
Nerval's Lobster writes: The visual-effects supervisor on the new film Chappie, Image Engine's Chris Harvey, talked with Dice about what it took to render the titular robot. Director Neil Blomkamp thought Chappie needed to look realistic, like something you might honestly expect to see patrolling the streets a decade or two from now. Image Engine took the concept artwork created by Blomkamp and WETA and rendered it in three dimensions, refining the mechanics so the animated Chappie would move realistically for a six-foot-tall, gun-toting robot. As the movie progresses, Chappie begins to take damage from bullets, flames, and thrown debris; if that wasn't enough, he also ends up covered in graffiti. That sort of wear-and-tear complicated things for the effects team; WETA had to produce three physical Chappie "skeletons" and a multitude of body panels representing the increasing levels of damage, and Image Engine needed to make sure every inch of the digital Chappie was rendered accurately to match. The movie itself might be scoring mediocre reviews, but at least the robot looks good.

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Laser Takes Out Truck Engine From a Mile Away
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '15 at 08:51 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-it-needs-is-an-orbital-targeting-platform-and-we-can-make-popcorn department:
MutualFun (1730480) writes Aerospace company Lockheed Martin has used a laser to obliterate the engine of a small truck from more than a mile away. (Finally, Star Wars is making a comeback!) The company says, "The demonstration marked the first field testing of an integrated 30-kilowatt, single-mode fiber laser weapon system prototype. Through a technique called spectral beam combining, multiple fiber laser modules form a single, powerful, high-quality beam that provides greater efficiency and lethality than multiple individual 10-kilowatt lasers used in other systems."

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uTorrent Quietly Installs Cryptocurrency Miner
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '15 at 08:50 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-cpu-is-our-cpu department:
New submitter Eloking sends news that uTorrent, a popular BitTorrent client, is silently installing cryptocurrency mining software for many users.
[uTorrent] brings in revenue through in-app advertising and also presents users with “offers” to try out third-party software when installed or updated. These offers are usually not placed on users’ machines without consent, but this week many users began complaining about a “rogue” offer being silently installed. The complaints mention the Epic Scale tool, a piece of software that generates revenue through cryptocurrency mining. To do so, it uses the host computer’s CPU cycles. ... The sudden increase in complaints over the past two days suggests that something went wrong with the install and update process. Several users specifically say that they were vigilant, but instead of a popup asking for permission the Epic Scale offer was added silently.

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New Paint Based On Titanium Nanoparticles Creates Self-Cleaning Surfaces
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '15 at 08:50 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's only-comes-in-hot-pink department:
hypnosec writes: Scientists have created a paint that provides self-cleaning surfaces and can maintain them even after being wiped, scratched, or scuffed. The paint, composed of titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles, is delivered as a suspension in ethanol containing the chemical perfluorooctyltriethoxysilane (abstract). Once the coating is applied to a surface, the ethanol must evaporate for 180 seconds before it is ready for use. Depending on the surface, the coating can be sprayed, dipped, or painted.

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French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '15 at 12:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's bad-times department:
mdsolar writes with bad news for France and its nuclear industry. "France's nuclear industry is in turmoil after the country's main reactor manufacturer, Areva, reported a loss for 2014 of 4.8 billion euros ($5.3 billion) — more than its entire market value. The government of France, the world's most nuclear dependent country, has a 29% stake in Areva, which is among the biggest global nuclear technology companies. The loss puts its future — and that of France as a leader in nuclear technology — at risk. Energy and Environment Minister Segolene Royal said Wednesday she asked Areva and utility giant Electricite de France to work together on finding solutions, amid reports of a possible merger or other link-up. The government said in a statement that it's working closely with Areva to restructure and secure financing, and would 'take its responsibility as a shareholder' in future decisions about its direction. Areva reported Wednesday 1 billion euros in losses on three major nuclear projects in Finland and France, among other hits. Areva has lost money for years, in part linked to delays on those projects and to a global pullback from nuclear energy since the 2011 Fukushima accident."

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FTC Targets Group That Made Billions of Robocalls
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '15 at 10:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's don't-call-me-bro department:
coondoggie writes Given the amount of time the FTC and others have put into curing the robocall problem, it is disheartening to hear that a group of companies for almost a year have been making billions of illegal robocalls. The Federal Trade Commission and 10 state attorneys general today said they have settled charges against a Florida-based cruise line company and seven other companies that averaged 12 million to 15 million illegal sales calls a day between October 2011 through July 2012, according to the joint complaint filed by the FTC and the states.

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NASA Ames Reproduces the Building Blocks of Life In Laboratory
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '15 at 09:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's build-it-yourself department:
hypnosec writes "Scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center have reproduced non-biologically the three basic components of life found in both DNA and RNA — uracil, cytosine, and thymine. For their experiment scientists deposited an ice sample containing pyrimidine — a ring-shaped molecule made up of carbon and nitrogen — on a cold substrate in a chamber with space-like conditions such as very high vacuum, extremely low temperatures, and irradiated the sample with high-energy ultraviolet photons from a hydrogen lamp. Researchers discovered that such an arrangement produces these essential ingredients of life. "We have demonstrated for the first time that we can make uracil, cytosine, and thymine, all three components of RNA and DNA, non-biologically in a laboratory under conditions found in space," said Michel Nuevo, research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California. "We are showing that these laboratory processes, which simulate conditions in outer space, can make several fundamental building blocks used by living organisms on Earth."

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Would You Need a License To Drive a Self-Driving Car?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '15 at 07:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's easy-driver department:
agent elevator writes Not as strange a question as it seems, writes Mark Harris at IEEE Spectrum : "Self-driving cars promise a future where you can watch television, sip cocktails, or snooze all the way home. But what happens when something goes wrong? Today's drivers have not been taught how to cope with runaway acceleration, unexpected braking, or a car that wants to steer into a wall." The California DMV is considering something that would be similar to requirements for robocar test-driver training." Hallie Siegel points out this article arguing that we need to be careful about how many rules we make for self-driving cars before they become common. Governments and lawmakers across the world are debating how to best regulate autonomous cars, both for testing, and for operation. Robocar expert Brad Templeton argues that that there is a danger that regulations might be drafted long before the shape of the first commercial deployments of the technology take place.

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Massive Exoplanet Evolved In Extreme 4-Star System
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '15 at 05:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's four-is-better-than-one department:
astroengine writes "For only the second time, an exoplanet living with an expansive family of four stars has been revealed. The exoplanet, which is a huge gaseous world 10 times the mass of Jupiter, was previously known to occupy a 3-star system, but a fourth star (a red dwarf) has now been found, revealing quadruple star systems possessing planets are more common than we thought. "About four percent of solar-type stars are in quadruple systems, which is up from previous estimates because observational techniques are steadily improving," said co-author Andrei Tokovinin of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The whole 4-star family is collectively known as 30 Ari, located some 136 light-years from Earth — in our interstellar backyard. The exoplanet orbits the primary star of the system once every 335 days. The primary star has a new-found binary partner (which the exoplanet does not orbit) and this pair are locked in an orbital dance with a secondary binary, separated by a distance of 1,670 astronomical unit (AU), where 1 AU is the average distance between the Earth and sun.

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White House Threatens Veto Over EPA "Secret Science" Bills
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '15 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-sir-I-don't-like-it department:
sciencehabit writes The U.S. House of Representatives could vote as early as this week to approve two controversial, Republican-backed bills that would change how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses science and scientific advice to inform its policies. Many Democrats, scientific organizations, and environmental groups are pushing back, calling the bills thinly veiled attempts to weaken future regulations and favor industry. White House advisers announced that they will recommend that President Barack Obama veto the bills if they reach his desk in their current form.

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Paul Allen Helps Find Sunken Japanese WWII Battleship Musashi Off Philippines
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '15 at 03:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's davy-jones'-locker department:
mpicpp writes with news about the discovery of a sunken Japanese battleship by Paul Allen and a team of researchers. Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen and his research team have found a massive Japanese World War II battleship off the Philippines near where it sank more than 70 years ago, his representatives said Wednesday. The apparent discovery of the wreckage of the Musashi, one of the largest battleships in history, comes as the world marks the 70th anniversary of the war's end. Allen and the team aboard his superyacht M/Y Octopus found the ship on Sunday, more than eight years after their search began, Allen's publicity agency Edelman said in a statement. Detailed images captured by a high-definition camera mounted on the underwater probe confirmed the wreckage as that of the Musashi, it said. Japanese experts said they were eager to study the images to try to confirm the ship's identity. Allen's team found the battleship in the Sibuyan Sea, using an autonomous underwater vehicle in its third dive after narrowing down the search area using detailed undersea topographical data and other locator devices, the statement said. "The Musashi is truly an engineering marvel and as an engineer at heart, I have a deep appreciation for the technology and effort that went into its construction," Allen said.

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New Wolfenstein Game Announced: The Old Blood
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '15 at 02:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's mein-leben department:
jones_supa writes Last year, Wolfenstein: The New Order was well received, and showed that old school shooters still can do extremely well in the current market and actually be a lot of fun. Now, Bethesda Softworks is already announcing a standalone prequel to The New Order, called Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. It's back to the roots for B.J. Blazkowicz, and you embark on a perilous journey "deep within Bavaria", with the goal of infiltrating the Castle Wolfenstein. Just like last years' game, The Old Blood has been developed by Swedish company MachineGames on the same platform including id Tech 5 engine. The release date is May 5th and the game will be available for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

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SpaceX's Challenge Against Blue Origins' Patent Fails To Take Off
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '15 at 02:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's take-them-to-court department:
speedplane writes As was previously discussed on Slashdot, back in September SpaceX challenged a patent owned by Blue Origin. The technology concerned landing rockets at sea. Yesterday, the judges in the case issued their opinion stating that they are unable to initiate review of the patent on the grounds brought by SpaceX. Although at first glance this would appear to be a Blue Origin win, looking closer, the judges explained that Blue Origin's patent lacks sufficient disclosure, effectively stating that the patent is invalid, but not on the specific grounds brought by SpaceX: "Because claim 14 lacks adequate structural support for some of the means-plus-function limitations, it is not amenable to construction. And without ascertaining the breadth of claim 14, we cannot undertake the necessary factual inquiry for evaluating obviousness with respect to differences between the claimed subject matter and the prior art." If SpaceX wants to move forward against Blue Origin, this opinion bodes well for them, but they will need to take their case in front of a different court.

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