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Government

US Mounted 231 Offensive Cyber-operations In 2011, Runs Worldwide Botnet 367

Posted by Soulskill
from the distributed-denial-of-espionage-attack dept.
An anonymous reader sends this news from the Washington Post: "U.S. intelligence services carried out 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011, the leading edge of a clandestine campaign that embraces the Internet as a theater of spying, sabotage and war, according to top-secret documents [from Edward Snowden]. Additionally, under an extensive effort code-named GENIE, U.S. computer specialists break into foreign networks so that they can be put under surreptitious U.S. control. Budget documents say the $652 million project has placed 'covert implants,' sophisticated malware transmitted from far away, in computers, routers and firewalls on tens of thousands of machines every year, with plans to expand those numbers into the millions. ... The implants that [an NSA group called Tailored Access Operations (TAO)] creates are intended to persist through software and equipment upgrades, to copy stored data, 'harvest' communications and tunnel into other connected networks. This year TAO is working on implants that “can identify select voice conversations of interest within a target network and exfiltrate select cuts,” or excerpts, according to one budget document. In some cases, a single compromised device opens the door to hundreds or thousands of others."
Medicine

Changing a Single Gene Allows Mice To Live 20 Percent Longer 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the mice-suddenly-take-interest-in-shuffleboard dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A research team at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has been experimenting with changing mouse genes and seeing how it impacts their life. In a surprising discovery, when targeting just one gene change it was found they could extend the life of a mouse by 20 percent. The gene the researchers focused on is called mTOR and is associated with metabolism. By lowering its expression (to about 25 percent of what is normal) in a batch of mice they did indeed live longer (abstract). They also displayed better memory, balance, muscle strength, and posture as they aged. However, the health of their bones deteriorated more quickly and their immune system was weakened, suggesting that extra time alive wouldn’t really be worth it in terms of overall health. Lead researcher Toren Finkel said, 'While the high extension in lifespan is noteworthy, this study reinforces an important facet of aging; it is not uniform. Rather, similar to circadian rhythms, an animal might have several organ-specific aging clocks that generally work together to govern the aging of the whole organism.'"
AMD

AMD Next-Gen Kaveri APU Shipments Slip To 2014 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the better-late-than-slow-and-power-hungry dept.
MojoKid writes "The story around AMD's upcoming Kaveri continues to evolve, but it's increasingly clear that AMD's 3rd generation APU won't be available for retail purchase this year. If you recall, AMD initially promised that Kaveri would be available during 2013 and even published roadmaps earlier in May that show the chip shipping in the beginning of the fourth quarter. What the company is saying now is that while Kaveri will ship to manufacturers in late 2013, it won't actually hit shelves until 2014. The reason Kaveri was late taping out, according to sources, was that AMD kept the chip back to put some additional polish on its performance. Unlike Piledriver, which we knew would be a minor tweak to the core Bulldozer architecture, Steamroller, Kaveri's core architecture, is the first serious overhaul to that hardware. That means it's AMD's first chance to really fix things. Piledriver delivered improved clock speeds and power consumption, but CPU efficiency barely budged compared to 'Dozer. Steamroller needs to deliver on that front."
Toys

U.S. Gov't Still Fighting the Man Behind Buckyballs; Guess Who's Winning? 555

Posted by Soulskill
from the interfering-with-natural-selection dept.
usacoder writes with news of Craig Zucker, former CEO of the company behind Buckyballs, the popular neodymium magnet toys that were banned by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in July 2012. Zucker ran a brief campaign to drum up opposition to the government's ban, but it didn't turn out to be enough. Unfortunately for Zucker, the story didn't end there. Despite the magnets being labeled as not for kids, the Commission filed a motion to find him personally liable for the costs of a product recall, estimated at around $57 million. "Given the fact that Buckyballs have now long been off the market, the attempt to go after Mr. Zucker personally raises the question of retaliation for his public campaign against the commission. Mr. Zucker won't speculate about the commission's motives. 'It's very selective and very aggressive,' he says. ... Mr. Zucker says his treatment at the hands of the commission should alarm fellow entrepreneurs: 'This is the beginning. It starts with this case. If you play out what happens to me, then the next thing you'll have is personal-injury lawyers saying "you conducted the actions of the company, you were the company."'"
Games

Mechwarrior Online Developer Redefines Community Warfare 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the expectations-are-the-mind-killers dept.
New submitter MeatoBurrito writes "The latest iteration of Mechwarrior was crowdfunded (without Kickstarter) as a free-to-play first-person mech simulator. However, despite promises to the founders, the game has been shifted to a third-person arcade shooter and now the community is rioting. This followed a series of other unpopular decisions; the developers decided to sell an item for real money that had a significant impact on gameplay, crossing the line separating cosmetic/convenience items and 'pay-to-win.' Then they added a confusing game mechanic to limit its use, which had the unfortunate side effect of making some strategies completely useless. From the article: 'PGI’s community practices showcase a fundamental misunderstanding of both freemium development and community management. The developer has never had to deal with such a large player base before, and it has never had to deal with the strains of continuous development before. Rather, PGI seems to be handling Mechwarrior Online in much the same way they might a AAA game: by keeping quiet and only discussing its work in vague terms. ... Mechwarrior Online’s road to launch is a cautionary consumer tale, fraught with anger and betrayal. It shows how a company can take a fan base dedicated to an old IP and completely alienate it through lack of communication, unpopular features, and oathbreaking. It shows how players need to be cautious of supporting a project based solely on the IP backing it.'"
Science

Particle Physicists Facing Insane Competition For Work 226

Posted by Soulskill
from the poor-rewards-for-slave-labor dept.
Jim_Austin writes "Teams of hundreds of young scientists — including many grad students and postdocs — staffed the Large Hadron Collider and helped make one of the most important scientific discoveries in recent decades. Now they must compete for just a handful of jobs. Quoting: 'The numbers make the problem clear. In 2007, the year before CERN first powered up the LHC, the lab produced 142 master's and Ph.D. theses, according to the lab's document server. Last year it produced 327. (Fermilab chipped in 54.) The two largest particle detectors fed by the LHC, the A Toroidal LHC Apparatus (ATLAS) and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS)—which both independently spotted the Higgs—boast teams of 3000 and 2700 physicists. By themselves, the CMS and ATLAS teams minted at least 174 Ph.D.s last year. That abundance seems unlikely to vanish anytime soon, as last year ATLAS had 1000 grad students and CMS had 900. In contrast, the INSPIRE Web site, a database for particle physics, currently lists 124 postdocs worldwide in experimental high-energy physics, the sort of work LHC grads have trained for. The situation is equally difficult for postdocs trying to make the jump to a junior faculty position or a permanent job at a national lab. The Snowmass Young Physicists survey received responses from 956 early-career researchers, including 343 postdocs. But INSPIRE currently lists just 152 "junior" positions, including 61 in North America.'"
Programming

Code For America: 'The Peace Corps For Geeks' 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the with-moderately-less-malaria dept.
rjmarvin writes "Cities are taking coding to the streets through projects like Code for America and CityNext, working with governments on multiple levels to better serve constituents with mobile and cloud technologies. The 'Peace Corps for geeks' is using technology to make everyday life in cities run more smoothly, providing a way to 'connect technologists and designers with their government to solve important problems and reimagine how government could work.'"
Space

First Asteroid Discovered At Uranus's Leading Trojan Point 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the set-course-for-the-tilted-planet dept.
LeadSongDog writes "Space.com is reporting on a 60km comet-like body in Lagrangian orbit around the Sun, locked to Uranus's leading Trojan Point. This means a distant, but fairly accessible supply of water-ice, hence: reaction mass, hydrogen and oxygen for robotic miners if we can just get them there with an energy source. 'The sun and Earth have two Trojan points, one leading ahead of Earth, known as the L-4 point of the system, and one trailing behind, its L-5 point. The sun and other planets have Lagrangian points also, with asteroids seen at those the sun shares with Jupiter, Neptune and Mars. Scientists thought the Trojan points of Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun, were too unstable to host asteroids."
The Almighty Buck

The Cognitive Cost of Poverty 459

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-work-for-bandwidth dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It's a common trope that most poor people are poor because they're lazy or just inherently bad with money. But a new study (abstract) makes a fascinating find: being poor actually reduces your cognitive capabilities when thinking about money. 'In a series of experiments run by researchers at Princeton, Harvard, and the University of Warwick, low-income people who were primed to think about financial problems performed poorly on a series of cognition tests, saddled with a mental load that was the equivalent of losing an entire night's sleep. Put another way, the condition of poverty imposed a mental burden akin to losing 13 IQ points, or comparable to the cognitive difference that's been observed between chronic alcoholics and normal adults.' This makes the difficulty in climbing out of poverty much easier to understand. The researchers also demonstrated causality by showing that thinking about a very small expense led to no impairment, while thinking about a very large expense did. They confirmed this by looking at a group of farmers in India who tend to receive most of their income at one time — immediately following their harvest. Shortly before that payment, when the farmers had very little money, their scores dropped as well."
Government

Feds Seek Prison For Man Who Taught How To Beat a Polygraph 374

Posted by Soulskill
from the results-unreliable-except-when-we-rely-on-them dept.
George Maschke writes "In a case with serious First Amendment implications, McClatchy reports that federal prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence for Chad Dixon of Indiana, who committed the crime of teaching people how to pass or beat a lie detector test. Some of his students passed polygraphs and went on to be hired by federal agencies. A pleading filed by prosecutors all but admits that polygraph tests can be beaten. The feds have also raided and seized business records from Doug Williams, who has taught many more people how to pass or beat a polygraph over the past 30 years. Williams has not been criminally charged. I'm a co-founder of AntiPolygraph.org (we suggest using Tor to access the site) a non-profit, public interest website dedicated to exposing and ending waste, fraud, and abuse associated with the use of lie detectors. We offer a free e-book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (1 mb PDF) that explains how to pass a polygraph (whether or not one is telling the truth). We make this information available not to help liars beat the system, but to provide truthful people with a means of protecting themselves against the high risk of a false positive outcome. As McClatchy reported last week, I received suspicious e-mails earlier this year that seemed like an attempted entrapment. Rather than trying to criminalize teaching people how to pass a polygraph, isn't it time our government re-evaluated its reliance on the pseudoscience of polygraphy?"
The Military

Syria: a Defining Moment For Chemical Weapons? 454

Posted by Soulskill
from the every-use-of-weapons-is-a-defining-moment-for-the-targets dept.
Lasrick writes "Oliver Meier describes the long-term significance (even beyond the incredible human suffering) of Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons on August 21, and outlines six major steps for response. Quoting: 'The attack in August is a historic event with wider implications. Its impact on the role of chemical weapons in international security in general will depend primarily on the responses. Looking beyond the current crisis, failure to respond to the attacks could undermine the taboo against chemical weapons. ... First, a unified response by the international community is essential. The strength of international norms depends primarily on great-power support. So far, such a unified response is sorely lacking. Judgments about how to react to the use of chemical weapons appear to be tainted by preferences about the shape of a post-war Syria. This has already damaged the international chemical weapons legal regime.'"
Education

For Education, Why TI-83 > iPad 340

Posted by timothy
from the depends-how-prussian-you-want-to-get dept.
theodp writes "Writing in The Atlantic, Phil Nichols makes a convincing case for why educational technologies should be more like graphing calculators and less like iPads. Just messing around with TI-BASIC on a TI-83 Plus, Nichols recalls, 'helped me cultivate many of the overt and discrete habits of mind necessary for autonomous, self-directed learning.' So, with all those fancy iPads at their schools, today's kids must really be programming up a storm, right? Wrong. Nichols, who's currently pursuing a PhD in education, laments, 'The iPad is among the recent panaceas being peddled to schools, but like those that came before, its ostensibly subversive shell houses a fairly conventional approach to learning. Where Texas Instruments graphing calculators include a programming framework accessible even to amateurs, writing code for an iPad is restricted to those who purchase an Apple developer account, create programs that align with Apple standards, and submit their finished products for Apple's approval prior to distribution.'"
The Internet

Dotless Domain Names Prohibited, ICANN Tells Google 132

Posted by timothy
from the use-unicode's-invisible-dot-instead dept.
New submitter gwstuff writes "Last year, Google filed applications for about 100 top level domains. These included .app, .cloud and .lol, but perhaps most prominently .search, which they had requested to operate as a 'dotless' domain. [Friday], ICANN gave their verdict on the idea that would make this URL valid : NO. Here is the formal announcement, and a related Slashdot story from last year. So that's that. But it may still be granted the rights for the remaining 100. Is prime dot-com real estate going to become a thing of the past?"
United Kingdom

BT Prepares To Pull Plug On Dial-Up 120

Posted by timothy
from the for-soothing-modem-noise-press-1 dept.
judgecorp writes "BT has proudly announced it will switch off its dial-up service on 1 September. But it turns out it isn't the end of the line for dial-up modems in the UK. BT charges £17.25 per month for dial-up, and broadband is only £10, so anyone who can switch across probably has by now. There are areas where broadband is not available, and BT reckons it still has 1000 dial-up customers who can't move to ADSL. For them, BT recommends a switch to Plusnet — an ISP which offers cheaper dial-up prices and is owned by .... BT."

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