Security

Ed Felten: California Must Lead On Cybersecurity 13

Posted by timothy
from the so-goes-the-nation dept.
An anonymous reader writes In a Sacramento Bee op-ed, (in)famous computer security researcher Ed Felten responds to the State of the Union cybersecurity proposal. He doesn't mince words: "The odds of clearing Congress: low. The odds of materially improving security: even lower. "What he suggests as an alternative, though, is a surprise. "California," he writes, "could blaze a trail for effective cybersecurity policy." He calls for the state government to protect critical infrastructure and sensitive data, relying on outside auditors and experts. It's an interesting idea. Even if it doesn't go anywhere, at least it's some fresh thinking in this area of backward policy. From Felten's essay: Critical infrastructure increasingly relies on industrial automation systems. And those systems are often vulnerable – they keep a default password, for instance, or are accessible from the public Internet. These are not subtle or sophisticated errors. Fixing them requires basic due diligence, not rocket science. Requiring the state’s critical infrastructure providers to undergo regular security audits would be straightforward and inexpensive – especially relative to the enormous risks. Areas of sensitive data are also low-hanging cyber fruit. In health care, education and finance, California already imposes security and privacy requirements that go beyond federal law. Those legal mandates, though, are mostly enforced through after-the-fact penalties. Much like critical infrastructure, sectors that rely upon sensitive data would benefit from periodic outside auditing. Of any state government's, California's policies also have the chance to help (or harm) the most people: nearly 39 million people, according to a 2014 U.S. Census estimate.
Government

SpaceX, US Air Force Settle Spy Sat Dispute 21

Posted by timothy
from the show-elon-what-you're-wearing dept.
hypnosec writes The US Air Force and private space flight company SpaceX have settled their dispute involving the military's expendable rocket program, thereby paving the way for SpaceX to join the spy satellite launch program known as Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). The settlement opens doors for SpaceX to compete with United Launch Alliance (ULA) for launch of spy satellites. ULA is a joint Boeing-Lockheed venture – the only private player to have received clearance for launching black ops satellites.
Graphics

DirectX 12 Lies Dormant Within Microsoft's Recent Windows 10 Update 40

Posted by timothy
from the until-activated-by-a-trigger-word dept.
MojoKid writes After last Wednesday's Windows 10 event, early adopters and IT types were probably anxious for Microsoft to release the next preview build. Fortunately, it didn't take long as it came out on Friday, and it's safe to say that it introduced even more than many were anticipating (but still no Spartan browser). However, in case you missed it, DirectX 12 is actually enabled in this Windows 10 release, though unfortunately we'll need to wait for graphics drivers and apps that support it, to take advantage of DX 12 features and performance enhancements.
Communications

A Call That Made History, 100 Years Ago Today 32

Posted by timothy
from the bet-he-was-slammed-for-texting-too dept.
alphadogg writes These days, making a call across the U.S. is so easy that people often don't even know they're talking coast to coast. But 100 years ago Sunday, it took a hackathon, a new technology and an international exposition to make it happen. The first commercial transcontinental phone line opened on Jan. 25, 1915, with a call from New York to the site of San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Alexander Graham Bell made the call to his assistant, Thomas Watson. Just 39 years earlier, Bell had talked to Watson on the first ever phone call, in Boston, just after Bell had patented the telephone.
Earth

Fish Found Living Half a Mile Under Antarctic Ice 48

Posted by timothy
from the we're-going-to-need-a-lot-more-line dept.
BarbaraHudson (3785311) writes "Researchers were startled to find fish, crustaceans and jellyfish investigating a submersible camera after drilling through nearly 2,500 feet (740 meters) of Antarctic ice. The swimmers are in one of the world's most extreme ecosystems, hidden beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, roughly 530 miles (850 kilometers) from the open ocean. "This is the closest we can get to something like Europa," said Slawek Tulaczyk, a glaciologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a chief scientist on the drilling project. More pictures here."
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated? 214

Posted by timothy
from the let's-make-a-wager dept.
An anonymous reader writes In the recent Slashdot discussion on the D programming language, I was surprised to see criticisms of Pascal that were based on old information and outdated implementations. While I'm sure that, for example, Brian Kernighan's criticisms of Pascal were valid in 1981, things have moved on since then. Current Object Pascal largely addresses Kernighan's critique and also includes language features such as anonymous methods, reflection and attributes, class helpers, generics and more (see also Marco Cantu's recent Object Pascal presentation). Cross-platform development is fairly straightforward with Pascal. Delphi targets Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. Free Pascal targets many operating systems and architectures and Lazarus provides a Delphi-like IDE for Free Pascal. So what do you think? Is Pascal underrated?
Government

Fark's Drew Curtis Running For Governor of Kentucky 81

Posted by timothy
from the dark-horse dept.
New submitter AlCapwn writes [Fark founder] Drew Curtis announced on Friday that he will be running for governor of Kentucky. "We have a theory that we're about to see a huge change in how elections and politics work. Across the country, we have seen regular citizens stepping up and challenging the status quo built by political parties and career politicians. They have been getting closer and closer to victory and, here in Kentucky, we believe we have a chance to win and break the political party stronghold for good."
Books

Why We Still Can't Really Put Anything In the Public Domain 65

Posted by timothy
from the here-are-nice-things-no-wait dept.
Press2ToContinue writes While you can make a public domain dedication or (more recently) use the Creative Commons CC0 tool to do so, there's no clear way within the law to actually declare something in the public domain. Instead, the public domain declarations are really more of a promise not to make use of the exclusionary rights provided under copyright. On the "public domain day" of Copyright Week, Public Knowledge has pointed out that it's time that it became much easier to put things into the public domain. Specifically, the PK post highlights that thanks to the way copyright termination works, even someone who puts their works into the public domain could pull them back out of the public domain after 35 years.
Businesses

Calif. DMV Back-Pedals On Commercial-Plate Mandate For Ride-Share Drivers 153

Posted by timothy
from the can-your-neighbor-lend-you-a-cup-of-transportation dept.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that In an abrupt U-turn, the California Department of Motor Vehicles late Friday retracted its finding that drivers for ride-hailing services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar must obtain commercial license plates. That determination — based on a 1935 state law — ignited a firestorm of criticism from the San Francisco startups and their supporters as stifling innovation. Commercial licenses are cumbersome to obtain, meaning they could impede the companies’ growth, which relies on getting new drivers, many of whom work just part time, into service quickly. And commercial registration probably would have necessitated that drivers get commercial insurance, which is significantly more expensive than personal auto insurance. Republican Assembly members threatened legislation over the “nonsensical” interpretation if the DMV didn’t reconsider its stance before Feb. 17. Now the department says it will do just that. That doesn't mean drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft can expect to be left alone by the DMV, though, which according to the article "will meet with regulators and the industry to work through the issue."
Graphics

Ask Slashdot: GPU of Choice For OpenCL On Linux? 87

Posted by timothy
from the discriminating-tastes dept.
Bram Stolk writes So, I am running GNU/Linux on a modern Haswell CPU, with an old Radeon HD5xxx from 2009. I'm pretty happy with the open source Gallium driver for 3D acceleration. But now I want to do some GPGPU development using OpenCL on this box, and the old GPU will no longer cut it. What do my fellow technophiles from Slashdot recommend as a replacement GPU? Go NVIDIA, go AMD, or just use the integrated Intel GPU instead? Bonus points for open sourced solutions. Performance not really important, but OpenCL driver maturity is.
Mars

NASA Considers Autonomous Martian Helicopter To Augment Future Rovers 68

Posted by timothy
from the imperial-probe-droid dept.
SternisheFan (2529412) writes with this story at the Verge about an approach being considered by NASA to overcome some of the difficulties in moving a wheeled or multi-legged ground vehicle around the surface of Mars, which has proven to be a difficult task. Rover teams still have a tough time with the Martian surface even though they're flush with terrestrial data. The alien surface is uneven, and ridges and valleys make navigating the terrain difficult. The newest solution proposed by JPL is the Mars Helicopter, an autonomous drone that could 'triple the distances that Mars rovers can drive in a Martian day,' according to NASA. The helicopter would fly ahead of a rover when its view is blocked and send Earth-bound engineers the right data to plan the rover's route.
Education

Brought To You By the Letter R: Microsoft Acquiring Revolution Analytics 72

Posted by timothy
from the interesting-choice-of-letter dept.
theodp writes Maybe Bill Gates' Summer Reading this year will include The Art of R Programming. Pushing further into Big Data, Microsoft on Friday announced it's buying Revolution Analytics, the top commercial provider of software and services for the open-source R programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics. "By leveraging Revolution Analytics technology and services," blogged Microsoft's Joseph Sirosh, "we will empower enterprises, R developers and data scientists to more easily and cost effectively build applications and analytics solutions at scale." Revolution Analytics' David Smith added, "Now, Microsoft might seem like a strange bedfellow for an open-source company [RedHat:Linux as Revolution Analytics:R], but the company continues to make great strides in the open-source arena recently." Now that it has Microsoft's blessing, is it finally time for AP Statistics to switch its computational vehicle to R?
It's funny.  Laugh.

Americans Support Mandatory Labeling of Food That Contains DNA 272

Posted by timothy
from the pure-sugar-all-the-time dept.
HughPickens.com writes Jennifer Abel writes at the LA Times that according to a recent survey (PDF), over 80% of Americans says they support "mandatory labels on foods containing DNA," roughly the same number that support the mandatory labeling of GMO foods "produced with genetic engineering." Ilya Somin, writing about the survey at the Washington Post, suggested that a mandatory label for foods containing DNA might sound like this: "WARNING: This product contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The Surgeon General has determined that DNA is linked to a variety of diseases in both animals and humans. In some configurations, it is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children."

The report echoes a well-known joke/prank wherein people discuss the dangers of the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide" also known as hydrogen oxide and hydrogen hydroxide. Search online for information about dihydrogen monoxide, and you'll find a long list of scary-sounding and absolutely true warnings about it: the nuclear power industry uses enormous quantities of it every year. Dihydrogen monoxide is used in the production of many highly toxic pesticides, and chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Conventions. Dihydrogen monoxide is found in all tumors removed from cancer patients, and is guaranteed fatal to humans in large quantities and even small quantities can kill you, if it enters your respiratory system. In 2006, in Louisville, Kentucky, David Karem, executive director of the Waterfront Development Corporation, a public body that operates Waterfront Park, wished to deter bathers from using a large public fountain. "Counting on a lack of understanding about water's chemical makeup," he arranged for signs reading: "DANGER! – WATER CONTAINS HIGH LEVELS OF HYDROGEN – KEEP OUT" to be posted on the fountain at public expense.
Space

Europe and China Will Team Up For a Robotic Space Mission 37

Posted by timothy
from the actually-the-robots-are-pulling-the-strings dept.
Taco Cowboy writes with this excerpt from Space.com: On Monday (Jan. 19), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the European Space Agency (ESA) issued a call for proposals for a robotic space mission that the two organizations will develop jointly. "The goal of the present Call is to define a scientific space mission to be implemented by ESA and CAS as a cooperative endeavor between the European and Chinese scientific communities," ESA officials wrote in a statement Monday. "The mission selected as an outcome of the present Joint Call will follow a collaborative approach through all the phases: study, definition, implementation, operations and scientific exploitation." The call envisions a low-budget mission, saying that ESA and CAS are each prepared to contribute about 53 million euros (U.S. $61.5 million at current exchange rates). The spacecraft must weigh less than 661 lbs. (300 kilograms) at launch and be designed to operate for at least two to three years, ESA officials wrote in the call for proposals. All proposals are due by March 16, and the peer-review process will start in April. Mission selection is expected to occur in late 2015, followed by six years of development, with a launch in 2021.
Earth

Doomsday Clock Moved Two Minutes Forward, To 23:57 181

Posted by timothy
from the but-who's-counting dept.
An anonymous reader writes As reported by CNN and Time, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved their famed Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight. Now at 23:57, this clock attempts to personify humanity's closeness to a global catastrophe (as caused by either climate change or nuclear war). According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, this change is due to a lack of action regarding climate issues, the continued existence of nuclear weapon stockpiles, and the increased animosity that now exists between the United States and Russia.