CWmike writes "Google's strategy for making surveillance of user Internet activity more difficult for U.S. and foreign governments — started last year, but accelerated in June following the NSA leaks — is as much about economics as data encryption, experts say. Eric Grosse, vice president for security engineering at Google, told The Washington Post: 'It's an arms race.' The crux of the issue with Google making the NSA dragnet harder (knowing if the government wants in, it will get in) is that the NSA evaluates the tactic it uses by weighing the cost with the value of the information obtained. However, the agency does evaluate the tactic it uses by weighing the cost with the value of the information obtained. 'The NSA has turned the fabric of the Internet into a vast surveillance platform, but they are not magical,' Bruce Schneier, a renowned security technologist and cryptographer, wrote in The Guardian. 'They're limited by the same economic realities as the rest of us, and our best defense is to make surveillance of us as expensive as possible.' The NSA's capabilities for cracking encryption are not known outside the agency. However, the most secure part of an encryption system remains the 'mathematics of cryptography,' Schneier said. The greater weaknesses, and the ones mostly likely to be exploited by governments in general, are the systems at the start and end of the data flow. 'I worry a lot more about poorly designed cryptographic products, software bugs, bad passwords, companies that collaborate with the NSA to leak all or part of the keys, and insecure computers and networks.' Is this about citizen's rights, or a business decision (some might say an existential issue) for Google? Does it matter, and will it make a difference?"
New submitter Johnny G. Mills writes "During a gamejam (an event to quickly develop and build an interesting game), two members of Sassybot Studio used a projector, Microsoft Kinect, and two moving boxes to create a simulator for defusing a bomb. They used me as a test subject, and thought Slashdot would enjoy this convergence of tech and gaming. 'The wires generated in Bomb Defuse Simulator 2013 are created procedurally to provide the player with a random challenge each time the game is played. ... The controls in the game are split up into physical input and Xbox controller input. With physical input the player moves around the bomb to see what is happening. This is literally done by walking around the real environment ... In our case we projected onto cardboard boxes to prove the concept. In theory this concept can be applied to larger and more unconventional objects. Doing so will challenge the game designer with utilizing the real space in order to create a game in virtual space.'"
SmartAboutThings sends this excerpt from Technology Personalized: "Intel has started shipping the fourth generation Haswell chips for tablets, which brings power-efficient processors and hence much better battery life to Windows tablets. According to IDG, Intel has now started shipping new low-power, fourth-generation Core i3 processors, including one that draws as little as 4.5 watts of power in specific usage scenarios. These new Haswell processors could go into fanless tablets and laptop-tablet hybrids, bringing longer battery life to the devices. This is a great news for Windows lovers, who have had to sacrifice performance for battery life (and vice versa) until now. Now, with almost 50% better battery life as promised by Intel for Windows tablets, the OEMs have no real need to come out with Windows RT based tablets and hybrids anymore."
Researchers taking advantage of retreating ice shelves in Antarctica have discovered evidence of life that's been sealed away for nearly 100,000 years. Lake Hodgson on the Antarctic Peninsula, once covered by over 400 meters of ice, is now obscured only by a thin layer three to four meters thick. Scientists carefully drilled through the ice and took samples (abstract) from the layers of mud at the bottom (as much as 93 meters below the lake's surface). "The top few centimetres of the core contained current and recent organisms which inhabit the lake but once the core reached 3.2 m deep the microbes found most likely date back nearly 100,000 years. ... Some of the life discovered was in the form of Fossil DNA showing that many different types of bacteria live there, including a range of extremophiles which are species adapted to the most extreme environments. These use a variety of chemical methods to sustain life both with and without oxygen. One DNA sequence was related to the most ancient organisms known on Earth and parts of the DNA in twenty three percent has not been previously described."
Lucas123 writes "At Disrupt this week, Ossia Inc. demonstrated for the first time its wireless charging technology that founder Hatem Zeine said has a 30-foot radius and, like WiFi, can charge through walls and 'around corners.' The technology, still in prototype phase, uses the same spectrum as other wireless standards, such as WiFi and Bluetooth. The Cota wireless charging system includes a charger and a receiver — either a dongle device or chip-tech integrated into a product, such as a smartphone or battery. While it has yet to be miniaturized, Zeine said the wireless technology will eventually be small enough to fit into a AAA battery or any portable electronic device. While the technology has wider industrial implications, as a consumer product, a charging unit will likely sell for around $100, he said."
crookedvulture writes "Seagate has begun shipping hard drives based on a new technology dubbed Shingled Magnetic Recording. SMR, as it's called, preserves the perpendicular bit orientation of current HDDs but changes the way that tracks are organized. Instead of laying out the tracks individually, SMR stacks them on top of each other in a staggered fashion that resembles the shingles on a roof. Although this overlap enables higher bit densities, it comes with a penalty. Rewrites compromise the data on the following track, which must be read and rewritten, which in turn compromises the data on the following track, and so on. SMR distributes the layered tracks in narrow bands to mitigate the performance penalty associated with rewrites. The makeup of those bands will vary based on the drive's intended application. We should see the first examples of SMR next year, when Seagate intends to introduce a 5TB drive with 1.25TB per platter. Traditional hard drives top out at 4TB and 1TB per platter right now."
Funksaw writes "In a political op-ed on his blog, long time Slashdot reader and contributor Brian Boyko (the guy who did that animated Windows 8 video) — now a candidate for state representative — explains how lobbyists from car dealerships successfully banned Tesla Motors from selling cars in Texas. From the article: 'Tesla Motors doesn't just present a case study of why a lack of campaign finance reform blocks meaningful reform on the issues that Democrats care about, like climate change and health care. A lack of campaign finance reform blocks reforms on both the Left and the Right. Here's the big elephant in the room I'd like to point out to all the "elephants" in the room: With a Republican-controlled legislature, a Republican executive, and many conservatives in our judiciary, why the hell don't we have free markets in Texas? Isn't it the very core of economic-conservative theory that the invisible hand of the free market determines who gets what resources? Doesn't the free market have the ability to direct resources to where they can most efficiently be used? I'm not saying the conservatives are right in these assumptions; but I am saying that our broken campaign finance system makes a mockery of them.'"
sfcrazy writes "After shooting down Canonical's Mir, Intel and Red Hat teams have increased collaboration on the development of Wayland. Developers at Intel and Red Hat are working together to 'merge and stabilize the patches to enable Wayland support in GNOME,' as Christian Schaller writes on his blog. The teams are also looking into improving the stack further. Weston won't be used anymore, so GNOME Shell will become the Wayland compositor. It must be noted that Canonical earlier committed to supporting and embracing Wayland. Despite that promise, the company silently stopped contribution, and it was later learned that they were secretly working on their own display server, Mir. Intel's management recently rejected patches for Mir, leaving its maintainance to Canonical. Before Intel's rejection, GNOME and KDE also refused to adopt Mir. Intel's message is clear to Canonical: if you promise to contribute, then do so."
Millions of Americans bought their first HDTVs between four and seven years ago, because that's when prices for 40" - 50" sets started dropping below $700. Those sets are obviously between four and seven years old now. Are new ones so much more wonderful that it's time to get a new HDTV? Not necessarily. Alfred Poor, long-time display technology expert and senior editor for aNewDomain, has some insight here, which he shares with us in today's video. There's obviously a lot more to discuss about TV technology advances (such as 3d) that we didn't get to today, so look forward to another discussion on this topic in two or three weeks.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Apple unveiled the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S today, which will replace the company's current iPhone 5. Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives took to a stage in California to introduce both devices. The cheaper iPhone 5C features a plastic casing available in a variety of colors (green, blue, reddish-pink, yellow, white); Apple seems to have done its best to make the device look high quality, with the backing and sides molded of a single piece of plastic; on the hardware side of things, the iPhone 5C comes with a 4-inch Retina display, A6 processor, and 8-megapixel camera. The other new Apple design, the iPhone 5S, is the company's next-generation 'hero' device. While the iPhone 5 was a radical new design, the 5S is an iterative upgrade; on the outside, it looks pretty much the same as its predecessor (the new iPhone features a new color, gold, in addition to the 'traditional' black or white aluminum body). The iPhone 5S has an A7 chip built on 64-bit architecture (capable of running 32-bit and 64-bit apps), which is pretty speedy, to put it mildly. There's also the M7 'motion co-processor' which boosts the actions of the accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope—in theory, opening the door to more refined motion-related apps, such as ones devoted to exercise." The iPhone 5S also has a sensor built into the home button that will allow you to unlock the device with your fingerprint. Both new phone will be available for purchase on Friday, Sept. 20th. Apple announced that iOS 7 will be rolling out on Wednesday, Sept. 18th.
Koookiemonster writes "Our company has many projects, each one with a folder on a Samba drive (Z:\). Our problem is syncing only the programmers' current projects (~30 at any time) between Z:\ and their C:\Projects\-folder on five Windows 7 laptops. If we sync the whole Z:\-drive, our projects folders would be filled with too many subfolders, making it difficult to navigate. The folders contain OpenPCS projects (PLC) and related files (Word, Excel, PDF documents); a common project folder is 50 MB. Is there any easy to use, low-budget sync software with scripting, so that we could e.g. only sync folders that exist locally?" (Read more details, below, of what Koookiemonster is looking for.)
cold fjord notes that the X Prize Foundation has opened up a new mission: to quantify the acidification of the world's oceans, excerpting from a description on Nature's blog of the project's focus: "Scientists who study ocean acidification must confront a fundamental problem: It is hard to measure exactly how much the ocean's pH is changing. Today's sensors don't work well at depth or over long periods of time, and they are too expensive to deploy widely. That is where the US$2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X Prize comes in. The 22-month competition will award two $1 million prizes, one to the best low-cost sensor and one to the most accurate. The competition's organizers decided to award two prizes because the two goals present different engineering challenges. ... As carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere, ocean water takes up some of the gas and becomes more acidic. This can harm shell-building marine life like coral, whose calcium carbonate skeletons dissolve in the increasingly acidic water. All of this research is bedeviled by the simple lack of technology to monitor ocean pH in real time across the world."
DeviceGuru writes "On the eve of the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, AMD unveiled what it calls an ambidextrous embedded roadmap, based on a series of new system-on-chip (SoC) and accelerated processing unit (APU) products built from both ARM and x86 CPU cores. Planned for launch in 2014 are an ARM Cortex A57-based 'Hierofalcon' SoC, a 'Bald Eagle' APU using a new 'Streamroller' x86 CPU, a multi-core x86 'Steppe Eagle' APU, and an 'Adelaar' discrete Embedded Radion GPU. 'There are different customer needs in different segments of this market, from low-power to high-performance, Linux to Windows, and x86 to ARM,' commented Arun Iyengar, VP and general manager, of the AMD Embedded Solutions division." Update: 09/10 16:54 GMT by T : As Slash DataCenter notes, this roadmap includes an SoC aimed specifically at datacenters.
judgecorp writes "Britain's Channel 4 screened Blackout, a drama about a cyber-attack which crashes the national power grid. The show was silly enough, with a strong message about the dangers of lighting candles in such a situation, but the Twitter responses were even better. The show terrified some viewers who apparently didn't realise that their TV screen was powered by the grid."
CNN reports that at least for now we may be able to set aside the question of whether and under what authority the U.S. should intervene militarily in Syria, a question that's dominated the news for the last few weeks. From the report: "Facing the threat of a U.S. military strike, the country's leaders Tuesday reportedly accepted a Russian proposal to turn over its chemical weapons. ... The development, reported by Syrian state television and Russia's Interfax news agency, came a day after the idea bubbled up in the wake of what appeared to be a gaffe by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. It quickly changed the debate in Washington from 'Should the U.S. attack?' to 'Is there a diplomatic way out of this mess?' Syrian Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Tuesday his country had agreed to the Russian proposal after what Interfax quoted him as calling 'a very fruitful round of talks' with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday. Details of such a transfer have yet to be worked out, such as where the arms would go, who would safeguard them and how the world could be sure Syria had handed over its entire stockpile of chemical weapons."
onehitwonder writes "Newly released documents reveal how the government uses border crossings to seize and examine travelers' electronic devices instead of obtaining a search warrant to take them, according to The New York Times' Susan Stellin. The documents reveal what had been a mostly secretive process that allows the government to create a travel alert for a person (regardless of whether they're a suspect in an investigation), then detain that individual at a border crossing and confiscate or copy any electronic devices that person is carrying. The documents come courtesy of David House, a fund-raiser for the legal defense of Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Pfc. Bradley Manning." A post at the ACLU blog (besides being free of NYT paywall headaches) gives more details, and provides handy links the documents themselves.
hypnosec writes "Linus Torvalds, in response to a petition on Change.org to remove RdRand from /dev/random, has lambasted the petitioner by called him ignorant for not understanding the code in the Linux Kernel. Kyle Condon from the UK raised a petition on Change.org to get Linus to remove RdRand from /dev/random in a bid 'to improve the overall security of the linux kernel.' In his response, Torvalds asked Condon and the supporters of the petition to gain an understanding of Linux drivers and cryptography, and then 'come back here and admit to the world that you were wrong.' Torvalds stressed that kernel maintainers knew what they were doing and the petitioner didn't. Torvalds, in a similar outburst just yesterday, hoped that 'ARM SoC hardware designers all die in some incredibly painful accident.' This came in response to a message from Kevin Hilman when he noted that there were quite a few conflicts in the ARM SoC pull request for Linux 3.12 which were a result of the platform changes conflicting with driver changes going in to the V4L tree."
Barence writes "The wild man of antivirus software, John McAfee, has been forced to deny reports of his own death. Internet reports circulating last night claimed the hard-living security software entrepreneur had died after one too many drink and drugs sessions. However, McAfee has taken to his Twitter account in the past few hours to assure everyone that he's still alive, and hasn't mislaid his sense of humour.'"I felt great when I went to bed last night. I had such great plans,' tweeted McAfee, alongside a link to a report — now hastily withdrawn — that claimed he had died from an overdose."
mspohr writes "Cory Doctorow has an interesting idea published in today's Guardian on how to approach the problem of NSA 'gag orders' which prevent web sites, etc. from telling anyone that they have been compromised. His idea is to set up a 'dead man' switch where a site would publish a statement that 'We have not been contacted by the government' ... until, of course, they were contacted and compromised. The statement would then disappear since it would no longer be true. He points out a few problems... Not making the statement could be considered a violation of disclosure... but, can the government force you to lie and state that you haven't been contacted when you actually have?" Rsync.net has been doing this for years; rather than the statement disappearing in case of an NSL being issued, it simply would stop updating. Indeed, their canary text also points out the same possible flaws: "This scheme is not infallible. Although signing the declaration makes it impossible for a third party to produce arbitrary declarations, it does not prevent them from using force to coerce rsync.net to produce false declarations. The news clip in the signed message serves to demonstrate that that update could not have been created prior to that date. It shows that a series of these updates were not created in advance and posted on this page."
Via El Reg comes news that Carl Icahn has, after a brief battle with Michael Dell for control over the company, thrown in the towel. From the article: "Icahn said in an open letter to shareholders that he still thought that Big Mike's $13.88 per share offer for the firm undervalued it, but had decided that it would be 'almost impossible' to win the battle at the shareholder vote on Thursday. 'I realize that some stockholders will be disappointed that we do not fight on,' he wrote. 'However, over the last decade, mainly through "activism," we have enhanced stockholder value in many companies by billions of dollars. We did not accomplish this by waging battles that we thought we would lose.'"
crabel writes "According to WHO, 127 millions of pre-school children worldwide suffer from vitamin A deficiency, causing some 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness every year. This deficiency is responsible for 600,000 deaths among children under the age of 5. Golden Rice might be a solution to this problem. The only problem? It's GMO. In an interview inventor Potrykus, now close to 80 years old, answers questions about the current state of approval, which might happen in the next couple of months."
New submitter mwissel writes "The German Federal Police ('Bundespolizei') had sent out an helicopter in late August to fly over the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt and take photos from only 60 meters height — reportedly to search for spy antennae and other espionage related equipment on the building rooftops. A government spokesmen more or less confirmed the purpose of the flight, and it is said that Merkel's chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, gave the order. This is remarkable, because Pofalla so far stood out with a very U.S.-friendly attitude in the debate around NSA surveillance programs. There was, of course, no word about any findings. It also remains unclear whether this was just plain provocation or a PR-stunt for the upcoming federal elections in Germany on September 22nd."