cartechboy writes "And you thought stealing cars was hard today? You're facing locks, kill switches, LoJacks, OnStar, and more. But there's worse on the way: Engineers at Japan's Tottori University have developed a prototype theft-prevention system that uses brain waves to identify drivers. That's right: The system samples your brain waves, stores them--and actually shuts down the car if the driver's EEG signals don't match what's on file. It also busts drunk and sleepy drivers, because their brain waves differ from those when you're fully awake and totally sober. One non-Tron downside: If you want to drive, you have to wear a scary-looking set of sensors on your skull so the car can constantly reads your brainwaves."
Lucas123 writes "On the news that Linus Torvalds's SSD went belly up while he was coding the 3.12 kernel, Computerworld took a closer look at SSDs and their failure rates. While Torvalds didn't specify the SSD manufacturer in his blog, he did write in a 2008 blog that he'd purchased an 80GB Intel SSD — likely the X25, which has become something of an industry standard for SSD reliability. While they may have no mechanical parts, making them preferable for mobile use, there are many factors that go into an SSD being reliable. For example, a NAND die, the SSD controller, capacitors, or other passive components can — and do — slowly wear out or fail entirely. As an investigation into SSD reliability performed by Tom's Hardware noted: 'We know that SSDs still fail.... All it takes is 10 minutes of flipping through customer reviews on Newegg's listings.' Yet, according to IHS, client SSD annual failure rates under warranty tend to be around 1.5%, while HDDs are near 5%. So SSDs not only outperform, but on average outlast spinning disks."
snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Bill Snyder writes of Verizon's diabolical plan to to charge websites for carrying their packets — a strategy that, if it wins out, will be the end of the Internet as we know it. 'Think of all the things that tick you off about cable TV. Along with brainless programming and crummy customer service, the very worst aspect of it is forced bundling. ... Now, imagine that the Internet worked that way. You'd hate it, of course. But that's the direction that Verizon, with the support of many wired and wireless carriers, would like to push the Web. That's not hypothetical. The country's No. 1 carrier is fighting in court to end the Federal Communications Commission's policy of Net neutrality, a move that would open the gates to a whole new — and wholly bad — economic model on the Web.'"
awarrenfells writes "While Dell Inc. is announcing its desire to go private, Twitter seems to be heading in the opposite direction with its recent tweet that it seeks to go public. From the article: 'Twitter has announced that it has filed for its IPO. Since Twitter was able to submit confidentially, this indicated that it had annual revenue of less than $1 billion in its most recent fiscal year. The JOBS Act allows for “emerging growth” companies with less than $1 billion in annual gross revenue to file in secret. Goldman Sachs is believed to be the lead underwriter for the deal, and Twitter will reportedly list on the NYSE.'"
McGruber writes "During Wednesday's TechCrunch Disrupt conference, Marissa Meyer was asked what would happen if Yahoo simply declined to cooperate with the NSA. She replied 'Releasing classified information is treason. It generally lands you incarcerated.' Meyer also revealed that the 2007 lawsuit against the Patriot Act had been filed by Yahoo: 'I'm proud to be part of an organization that from the very beginning in 2007, with the NSA and FISA and PRISM, has been skeptical and has scrutinized those requests. In 2007 Yahoo filed a lawsuit against the new Patriot Act, parts of PRISM and FISA, we were the key plaintiff. A lot of people have wondered about that case and who it was. It was us ... we lost. The thing is, we lost and if you don't comply it's treason.'"
alphadogg writes "Harvard University's August Sanders Theater will play host tonight to a glittering collection of scientific luminaries, in a ceremony dedicated to recognizing some of the most important research of the year. And it will probably involve stuff like green hair, dead salmon brains, and monkey butts. Yes, it's time again for the annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, where the weirdest and least useful scientific discoveries of the year are paraded before the public in a festival of bizarre nerd pageantry." Slashdot programmer David Hand will be in the crowd, too, triggering a flood of justified envy. Update: 09/13 14:23 GMT by S : Here are the winners.
hypnosec writes "PRISM-Proof Security Considerations, a draft proposal to make it harder for governments to implement and carry out surveillance activities like PRISM, has been floated by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The draft highlights security concerns as a result of government sponsored PRISM-like projects and the security controls that may be put into place to mitigate the risks of interception capabilities. Authored by Phillip Hallam-Baker of the Comodo Group the draft is however very sparse on details on how the Internet can be PRISM-proofed."
GameboyRMH writes "A gear mechanism has been discovered [paywalled original paper here, for those with access] for the first time in nature in the nymph of the Issus, a small plant-hopping insect common in Europe. It uses the gears to synchronize the movement and power of its hind legs, forcing the legs to propel it in a straight line when jumping, which would otherwise be impossible for the insect if it had to control the timing and force of its leg muscles independently."
First time accepted submitter someSnarkyBastard writes "It has already been widely reported that the NSA has subverted several major encryption standards but I have not seen any mention of how this affects the FIPS 140-2 standard. Can we still trust these cyphers? They have been cleared for use by the US Government for Top-Secret clearance documents; surely the government wouldn't backdoor itself right?...Right?"
colinneagle writes with an interesting excerpt from Senate testimony offered yesterday, on the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, from Stewart Baker. Baker formerly served as DHS Assistant Secretary and NSA General Counsel, and gave his opinion on the source of the real problems within the TSA, opining: "Unlike border officials, though, TSA ended up taking more time to inspect everyone, treating all travelers as potential terrorists, and subjecting many to whole-body imaging and enhanced pat-downs. We can't blame TSA for this wrong turn, though. Privacy lobbies persuaded Congress that TSA couldn't be trusted with data about the travelers it was screening. With no information about travelers, TSA had no choice but to treat them all alike, sending us down a long blind alley that has inconvenienced billions."
astroengine writes "After a 35-year, 11-billion mile journey, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft left the solar system to become the first human-made object to reach interstellar space, new evidence from a team of scientists shows. 'It's kind of like landing on the moon. It's a milestone in history. Like all science, it's exploration. It's new knowledge,' long-time Voyager scientist Donald Gurnett, with the University of Iowa, told Discovery News. The first signs that the spacecraft had left the solar system's heliopause was a sudden drop in solar particles and a corresponding increase in cosmic rays in 2012, but this evidence alone wasn't conclusive. Through indirect means, scientist analyzing oscillations along the probe's 10-meter (33-foot) antennas were able to deduce that Voyager was traveling through a less dense medium — i.e. interstellar space." You can watch NASA's briefing on the probe's progress here.
Tech journalist Ron Miller (not a relative) wrote a piece titled Apple has a lot in common with The Rolling Stones, based on the song It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (But I Like It). In the article, Ron writes: "Much like the Rolling Stones, Apple has to get up on stage again and again and figure out a way to blow the audience away – and it’s not always easy." In fact, Apple's latest iPhone announcement seems to have been greeted with a massive "ho hum" instead of the frenzied interest some of their earlier product announcements have created. In today's video, Ron tells us why he thinks this is, and ruminates briefly about the future of Apple and what kinds of products might help people get excited about Apple again.
MojoKid writes "News from Intel (and Google) today includes an announcement that more Chromebooks are on their way to market packing Intel's Haswell processors. The new chips are designed to consume less power, thus preserving battery life for an all-day charge, while still offering better overall performance. Google notes that there are schools in over 20% of school districts across the country that now use Chromebooks, and with prices for some of the machines dipping as low as $199, deploying fleets of these machines in academia is an attractive option. What's interesting is the alignment between Intel and Google now, which should cause folks in Redmond to smart a bit, as yet another major competitor to the Windows operating system seems to clearly be coming into focus. Intel-Google partners including Acer, ASUS, HP, and Toshiba will be rolling out Chromebooks based on Haswell soon, and they'll collectively be sporting more variety of form factors."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "There is an interesting read at the Atlantic where Laura Dimon writes that mass psychogenic illness, historically known as "mass hysteria"—is making a comeback and it appears that social media is a new vector for its spread. Mass hysteria such as the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693, the most widely recognized episode of mass hysteria in history, which ultimately saw the hanging deaths of 20 women, spreads through sight and sound, and historically, one person would have to be in the same room as somebody exhibiting symptoms to be at risk of 'catching' the illness. 'Not anymore,' says Robert Bartholomew, a sociologist who has studied over 600 cases of mass hysteria dating back to 1566, noting that social media — 'extensions of our eyes and ears' — speeds and extends the reach of mass hysteria. 'Epidemic hysterias that in earlier periods were self-limited in geography now have free and wide access to the globe in seconds,' says Bartholomew. 'It's a belief, that's the power here, and the technology just amplifies the belief, and helps it spread more readily.' In a recent case, nearly 20 students at a Western New York Junior-Senior High school began experiencing involuntary jerks and tics. Some believe that the Le Roy outbreak was a direct result of videos posted to YouTube by Lori Brownell, a girl with severe tics in Corinth, New York, 250 miles east of Le Roy. The story took off quickly, not just on the local and national news but on Facebook and autism blogs and sites devoted to mental health and environmental issues. Bartholomew warns that there is 'potential for a far greater or global episode, unless we quickly understand how social media is, for the first time, acting as the primary vector or agent of spread for conversion disorder.'"
awarrenfells writes "After a shareholder vote, Michael Dell is expected to buy out and take Dell Inc. private. This move comes in the wake of plans to move Dell into position as an enterprise computing provider, but some analysts state this move may have come too late, much of the target market being taken by IBM and HP already." Nerval's Lobster provides some more details at Slash Cloud: "[T]he final buyout price was $13.75 a share, which includes a 13-cent-a-share “special dividend.” All told, that puts the deal’s price at $24.9 billion. In order to reach this point, Dell and Silver Lake had to fend off activist investor Carl Icahn and investment firm Southeastern Asset Management, which made their own combined play for a restructured capitalization. In a series of public letters, Icahn argued that Dell’s privatization proposal undervalued the company, and—at least until the beginning of September—made it very clear that he was willing to fight things out in court. By convincing the shareholders that his plan is the best route forward, Dell avoids what could have devolved into a very protracted and messy battle. Michael Dell wants to focus the majority of the company’s efforts on services, essentially remaking it into a tech firm more along the lines of IBM."
wiredmikey writes "Vodafone Germany said on Thursday that an attacker with insider knowledge had stolen the personal data of two million of its customers from a server located in Germany. 'This criminal attack appears to have been executed by an individual working inside Vodafone,' the company said in a statement provided to SecurityWeek. 'An individual has been identified by the police and their assets have been seized.' The company said the attack was discovered on September 5, but said authorities had requested that the breach remained under wraps while an investigation was conducted. The data accessed by the attacker includes customer names, addresses, gender, birth dates, bank account numbers and bank sort codes, the telecommunications giant said. Vodafone said credit card numbers, passwords, PINs, and mobile phone numbers were not exposed, and no personal call information or browsing data was accessed."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Apple's iPhone 5S features a fingerprint scanner embedded in the home button. Of course, fingerprint-scanning technology isn't new: Bloomberg Terminals feature a built-in fingerprint reader to authenticate users, for example, and various manufacturers have experimented with laptops and smartphones that require a thumb to login. But the technology has thus far failed to become ubiquitous in the consumer realm, and it remains to be seen whether the new iPhone — which is all but guaranteed to sell millions of units — can popularize something that consumers don't seem to want. Security experts seem to be adopting a wait-and-see attitude with regard to Apple's newest trick. 'I'd caution right away, let's see how it tests and what people come up with to break it,' Brent Kennedy, an analyst with the U.S. Computer Emergency and Readiness Team, told Forbes. 'I wouldn't rely on it solely, just as I wouldn't with any new technology right off the bat.' And over at Wired, technologist Bruce Schneier is suggesting that biometric authentication could be hacked like anything else. 'I'm sure that someone with a good enough copy of your fingerprint and some rudimentary materials engineering capability — or maybe just a good enough printer — can authenticate his way into your iPhone,' he wrote. 'But, honestly, if some bad guy has your iPhone and your fingerprint, you've probably got bigger problems to worry about.'"
mdsolar writes "Recent satellite imagery suggests that North Korea has restarted a small nuclear reactor, allowing the secretive nation to potentially bolster its stockpile of plutonium for weapons, a U.S. research institute said Thursday. The North had said five months ago that it would restart key operations at its Yongbyon nuclear facility 'without delay.' The report from the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies indicates that it is quietly going ahead with that pledge — and facing few apparent problems in firing up a reactor mothballed for six years. Commercial satellite images from Aug. 31 show two plumes of white steam rising from a turbine building adjacent to the reactor. That steam is an essential byproduct of the reactor's operation, and its venting suggests the 'electrical generating system is about to come online,' the report said."
New submitter ComradeF writes "Matt Kruse, author of the Social Fixer for Facebook browser extension, warns users of the dangers of building a community on a platform that can and will shut you down on a whim: 'It's gone. Years of work and almost 340,000 fans, wiped out. Erased. I have never been given any details about what "community standards" I was apparently violating (because I wasn't). This is a case of Facebook choosing to shut down someone's business just because they want to, not because they were doing anything wrong. This is extremely frustrating and disappointing to me, and should be to others as well.' The administrators and moderators of his Page found that their personal Facebook accounts have been silenced for 12 hours, as well." I've recently installed Social Fixer, and find it tremendously useful; this news just inspired me to donate a few bucks to Kruse — cheaper than what Mark Zuckerberg would like to hear my complaint.
crookedvulture writes "Bay Trail has its first convertible design win. Intel's newest SoC will be available in Asus' Transformer Book T100, which combines a 10.1" Windows 8.1 tablet with a keyboard dock that includes a gesture-friendly touchpad and USB 3.0 connectivity. The tablet is powered by an Atom Z3740 processor with quad cores clocked at up to 1.8GHz—600MHz slower than the Z3770 chip benchmarked by the press. The screen has a relatively low 1366x768 resolution, but at least the IPS panel delivers wide viewing angles. Asus clearly intends the T100 to be an entry level device; the 32GB version is slated to sell for just $349, and the 64GB one will cost only 50 bucks more. Those prices include the keyboard dock and a copy of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013. They also bring Windows 8 convertibles down to truly budget territory, completing the collision between tablets and netbooks."
Ellie K writes "After 500 years, Britain announced plans to fully privatize Royal Mail today. Shares of stock (common equity) will be offered to the public 'in coming weeks', according to Reuters. 10% of shares will be given to current Royal Mail employees, Deal size is estimated at $US 3 to 4.7 billion. Goldman Sachs and UBS were chosen as lead advisers." That doesn't mean you'll be able to buy a piece tomorrow, though; as the BBC's report notes, "The plans have provoked strong opposition from unions. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is currently balloting members on strike action. Ballot papers are due to go out on 20 September to 125,000 Royal Mail workers. The earliest possible strike date would be 10 October. Plans to privatise the 250-year-old postal service have been on successive governments' agendas since the early 1990s."
First time accepted submitter noahfecks writes "After the Linux 3.11 kernel was codenamed 'Linux for Workgroups' in memory of Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.11, Linus Torvalds is using 'Suicidal Squirrel' as the Linux 3.12 kernel codename." Seems only fitting. (The list of kernel names should reflect this soon.)
An anonymous reader writes "Financial markets experienced a series of computer glitches recently that brought operations to a halt. According to a researcher at the University of Miami, mobs of ultrafast robots, which trade and operate at speeds beyond human capability, may be responsible for these "flash freezes". From the article: '"Even though each trading algorithm/robot is out to gain a profit at the expense of any other, and hence act as a predator, any algorithm which is trading has a market impact and hence can become noticeable to other algorithms," said Neil Johnson, a professor of physics at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami (UM) and lead author of the new study. "So although they are all predators, some can then become the prey of other algorithms depending on the conditions. Just like animal predators can also fall prey to each other." When there's a normal combination of prey and predators, he says, everything is in balance. But once predators are introduced that are too fast, they create extreme events.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times reports, 'For eight decades, Manson Whitlock kept the 20th century's ambient music going: the ffft of the roller, the ding of the bell, the decisive zhoop ... bang of the carriage return, the companionable clack of the keys. From the early 1930s until shortly before his death last month at 96, Mr. Whitlock, at his shop in New Haven, cared for the instruments, acoustic and electric, on which that music was played. Mr. Whitlock was often described as America's oldest typewriter repairman. He was inarguably one of the country's longest-serving. Over time he fixed more than 300,000 machines, tending manuals lovingly, electrics grudgingly and computers never. "I don't even know what a computer is," Mr. Whitlock told The Yale Daily News, the student paper, in 2010. "I've heard about them a lot, but I don't own one, and I don't want one to own me."'"
First time accepted submitter DigitalKhaos23 writes "Snowden is a candidate for the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, which honors people or organizations for their work in the defense of human rights and freedom of thought. The article adds: 'Edward Snowden risked his life to confirm what we had long suspected regarding mass online surveillance, a major scandal of our times. He revealed details of violations of EU data protection law and fundamental rights.'"