Nerval's Lobster writes "Former NSA technology boss Prescott Winter has a word for the kind of security he sees even at large, technologically sophisticated companies: Appalling. Companies large enough to afford good security remain vulnerable to hackers, malware and criminals because they tend to throw technological solutions at potential areas of risk rather than focusing on specific and immediate threats, Winter said during his keynote speech Oct. 1 at the Splunk Worldwide User's Conference in Las Vegas. 'As we look at the situation in the security arena we see an awful lot of big companies – Fortune 100-level companies – with, to be perfectly candid, appalling security. They have fundamentally no idea what they're doing,' Winter said, according to a story in U.K. tech-news site Computing. During almost 28 years at the National Security Agency (NSA), Winter established the spy agency's Technology Directorate and served as the agency's first CTO. He also held positions as the NSA's CIO, its deputy chief of Defensive Information Operations and, oddly, as chief of Customer Response. He is currently managing director of Chertoff Group, the strategic management and security consultancy established by Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security under Pres. George W. Bush and co-author of the USA Patriot Act."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "CNET reports that Grand Theft Auto Online, the biggest entertainment release of the year with more than $1 billion in annual sales, is having some trouble getting the gamers online. The title, which launched on game consoles Tuesday morning, is experiencing server issues that have locked out some gamers and made it difficult for those who have gotten in to play the game. Fifteen million people purchased the game when it was released last week — and any number of them could play online when that 'perk' becomes available on October 1. 'At a conservative estimate I would expect about two million players to log on to GTA Online within the first 24 hours,' says Keza MacDonald, UK games editor for IGN.com, the video game and entertainment site. 'Rockstar has never done an online game of this scale before, so they are totally unproven in terms of their network infrastructure.' Rockstar, the game's creator, said that it was doing all it could to buy and access servers to accommodate what was expected to be massive demand for its online title. Meanwhile Twitter is abuzz with complaints from gamers who say they can't get into the service."
Iddo Genuth writes "If you love to go on camping trips and want to charge your mobile phone, tablet or even camera there is a new solution on the way which can do that anywhere day or night and all you need to do is light a little fire and have a few drops of water. The FlameStower efficiently captures excess heat from a gas burner or campfire to charge almost any USB-powered device: cell phones, GPS units and even cameras by using the thermal deferential between the fire and water and the whole thing is already collecting money on Kickstarter (and if you are really handy you can even make a DIY version yourself)."
cagraham writes "Agriculture giant Monsanto has purchased the weather analytics firm Climate Corporation for over $930 Millionl. Climate Corp, a firm founded by ex-Google data scientists and software engineers, specializes in hyper-local weather prediction which they use to recommend risk-management and crop-insurance policies for farmers. Monsanto likely wants to use this technology to boost their big data farming systems, and help better market their genetically engineered crop seeds. This news comes the same day that Monsanto posted increased Q4 losses of $0.47 per share."
jcatcw writes "A recent study shows that a single random up-vote, randomly chosen, created a herding behavior in ratings that resulted in a 25% increase in the ratings but the negative manipulation had no effect. An intuitive explanation for this asymmetry is that we tend to go along with the positive opinions of others, but we tend to be skeptical of the negative opinions of others, and so we go in and correct what we think is an injustice. The third major result was that these effects varied by topic. So in business and society, culture, politics, we found substantial susceptibility to positive herding, whereas in general news, economics, IT, we found no such herding effects in the positive or negative direction."
dryriver writes "A team of dentists has created a toothbrush they say can clean teeth thoroughly in less than six seconds. Manufacturer Blizzident uses the same scans dentists use to fit braces and an extremely precise 3D printer to create a brush for each individual customer. Each brush contains about 400 soft bristles and requires the wearer to grind their teeth in order to clean. Its makers say it eliminates brushing errors that people typically make, but experts say more research is needed. The technology comes at a price — a customer's first brush, which will last for a year, costs 299 euros ($405; £250). Subsequent brushes are cheaper, and old ones can be reconditioned for less than 100 euros, the company says. 'Because you are brushing all your teeth at the same time, you are brushing extremely quickly,' the company says. 'You brush all the difficult-to-reach and interdental regions without even having to think about it.'"
GregLaden writes "Last week Popular Science shut down comments on their web pages citing the damage being done to the public perception of science as their reason. Earlier research suggested this might be a good idea because trollish, negative comments can color the perception by readers of a news story. However, some have taken Popular Science's move to be anti-science, implying that science itself is positively affected by web and blog comments, as though these comments contributed to the science being done itself. Here, I take exception to this and suggest that while comments are important in relation to the public perception of science (which itself is important) blog and web commentary never, or only rarely, influences the process of scientific inquiry itself."
ananyo writes "A series of Martian craters assumed to have been formed by meteorites may actually be extinct volcanoes so massive that, when they were active billions of years ago, they could have buried Mars in ash. The craters pepper the surface of Arabia Terra, a geologically ancient region of northern Mars. They appear as several huge circular pits that resemble Earth's calderas, in which magma beneath a volcano drains after a volcanic eruption, causing the ground above the magma chamber to collapse. Using data from several satellites orbiting Mars, researchers mapped Eden patera in detail. In a report in Nature today (abstract), they describe three separate calderas within the depression, along with possible signs of a lake of solidified lava and a volcanic vent where lava could have oozed out."
barlevg writes "The Washington Post reports that NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander testified before the Senate about an experimental NSA program to track location data from cell phones in 2011, but abandoned it because it lacked 'the operational value' it needed. It was not made clear what 'operation value' they were seeking. Alexander said, 'the data collected were never available for intelligence analysis purposes.' He added, 'This may be something that is a future requirement for the country, but it is not right now because when we identify a number we can give that to the FBI, [who can a warrant for the data it needs]. That’s the reason we stopped in 2011.''"
coondoggie writes "Call it a modern day love story: Boy meets girl; they 'like' each other; they privately sext naked pics of each other to celebrate; girl loses interest, breaks it off; guy responds by posting previously private pics to Internet site specializing in revenge; girl has little recourse, suffers much humiliation, ridicule. There is a lot of pressure to change the outcome of such wretched stories, which seem to be pervasive these days. Some relief is on the way the way, at least in California, where this week the governor signed one of the nation's first laws making so-called 'revenge porn' illegal. Specifically, the bill prevents people from electronically distributing or posting naked pictures of ex-romantic partners after a break-up with the intent to shame the person publicly."
KentuckyFC writes "Last month, NASA declared that Earth's most distant probe had finally left the Solar System. But the announcement may now turn out to be premature. It was prompted by a dramatic increase in the density of plasma in the region of space the spacecraft is now in. However, there has been no change in the local magnetic field, which is what astrophysicists would expect if Voyager had entered interstellar space. Instead, space scientists think the probe may be caught inside a magnetic portal known as an interstellar flux transfer event. This occurs when the magnetic fields from two different objects briefly become connected through a tube-like magnetic structure. This process happens between the Earth and Sun's magnetic field about every eight minutes, so similar events are expected between the Sun's field and the interstellar field. This magnetic tube would allow particles in from outside the Solar System, increasing the density of plasma, while maintaining the same magnetic field. If so, Voyager 1 hasn't yet left the Solar System after all."
Lucas123 writes "After beginning as an art project 3 years ago in Manhattan to thwart government online spying and offer a physical depiction of our digitally-connected society, a trend of embedding USB thumb drives in walls has caught on and spread to every continent but Antarctica. Dead Drops, as the anonymous P2P files sharing network is called, now has more than 1,200 locations worldwide and has morphed as participants have become more creative in not only where they place the drives, but how they share files, including creating WiFi locations. The thumb drives, which range in size from a few megabytes to 60GB, have allowed people to share music, video, personal photos, poetry, political discourse, or artwork anonymously. Dead Drops creator, German artist Aram Bartholl, said the project is a way to 'un-cloud' file sharing."
mdsolar tips this story at the NY Times: "Every month, Hiroko Watabe, 74, returns for a few hours to her abandoned house near the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant to engage in her own small act of defiance against fate. She dons a surgical mask, hangs two radiation-measuring devices around her neck and crouches down to pull weeds. She is desperate to keep her small yard clean to prove she has not given up on her home, which she and her family evacuated two years ago after a 9.0 earthquake and a tsunami devastated the plant five miles away. Not all her neighbors are willing to take the risk; chest-high weeds now block the doorways of their once-tidy homes. 'In my heart, I know we can never live here again,' said Ms. Watabe, who drove here with her husband from Koriyama, the city an hour away where they have lived since the disaster. 'But doing this gives us a purpose. We are saying that this is still our home.' While the continuing environmental disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has grabbed world headlines — with hundreds of tons of contaminated water flowing into the Pacific Ocean daily — a human crisis has been quietly unfolding. Two and a half years after the plant belched plumes of radioactive materials over northeast Japan, the almost 83,000 nuclear refugees evacuated from the worst-hit areas are still unable to go home."
Phopojijo writes "OpenGL and DirectX have been the dominant real-time graphics APIs for decades. Both are catalogs of functions which convert geometry into images using predetermined mathematical algorithms (scanline rendering, triangles, etc.). Software rendering engines calculate colour values directly from the fundamental math. Reliance on OpenGL and DirectX could diminish when GPUs are utilized as general 'large batches of math' solvers which software rendering engines offload to. Developers would then be able to choose their algorithms for best suits their project, even native to web browsers with the upcoming WebCL."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Valve has announced SteamOS, Steam Machines, and a Steam controller — the components necessary for it to create a viable living-room gaming experience. Valve's strategy with these releases seems pretty clear: create a platform based on openness (SteamOS is a Linux-based operating system), in contrast to the closed systems pushed by console rivals such as Sony and Microsoft. If Valve chooses to release Half-Life 3 in conjunction with its Steam Machines' rollout, it could help create further buzz for the system, given the years' worth of pent-up demand for the next chapter in the popular FPS saga. But can Valve's moves allow it to actually compete against Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony on equal terms? What do you think?"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "John Reed at Foreign Policy reports that the Pentagon awarded 94 contracts Monday evening on its annual end-of-the-fiscal-year spending spree, spending more than five billion dollars on everything from robot submarines to Finnish hand grenades and a radar base mounted on an offshore oil platform. To put things in perspective, the Pentagon gave out only 14 contracts on September 3, the first workday of the month. Some of the more interesting purchases from Monday's dollar-dump include the $2.5 billion award the Defense Logistics Agency gave to aircraft engine-maker Pratt & Whitney for 'various weapons system spare parts' used by the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, $65 million for military helmets from BAE Systems, $24 million for 'traveling wave tubes' to amplify radio signals from Thales, $17 million for liquid nitrogen, $15 million for helium and $19 million on cots. The Air Force, traditionally DOD's biggest spender, was relatively restrained; it dished out only 17 contracts including $49 million to help France buy 16 MQ-9 Reaper drones, $64 million to Lockheed for help operating spy satellites that are equipped with infrared cameras, and $9 million to URS Corp. for maintenance work on the Air National Guard's fleet of RC-26B spyplanes that help domestic law enforcement agencies catch drug dealers. The air service also spent $9 million on a new gym at the Air Force Academy that includes areas for CrossFit training, space for the academy's Triathlon Club and a 'television studio.' It just goes to show, says Reed, that 'even when the federal government is shutdown and the military has temporarily lost half its civilian workforce, the Pentagon can spend money like almost no one else.'"
ckwu writes "Researchers in Japan and Taiwan have demonstrated the first working flash memory device made using proteins as scaffolding to build a 3-D nanoparticle structure. Compared to current fabrication techniques, using proteins to arrange nanoparticles could enable the design of smaller memory devices and more complex, multilayer electronics. According to the researchers, their mulitlayer flash memory had twice the capacity of a conventionally made single-layer device."
New submitter u38cg writes Ross William Ulbricht, known as 'Dread Pirate Roberts,' was arrested in San Francisco yesterday and has been charged with one count each of narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy, according to a court filing. Silk Road has been shut down and some $3.6m in Bitcoin (26,000 Btc) seized. The question is — how?" onyxruby submitted a link to the criminal complaint (PDF; coral cache might work better). The court filing indicates that they seized the actual servers and recovered their contents, making numerous references to the private messaging system. Also according to the court filing, the Silk Road was used to sell ~$1.2 billion in illicit goods since being founded in 2011.
rjmarvin writes "Now that Ballmer is on his way out, flak for Microsoft's middling stock prices and lagging mobile innovation is starting to land on Bill Gates himself. Three of the company's top 20 investors are lobbying the Board of Directors, pressing Gates to step down as chairman. The stockholders believe his presence would handcuff the next CEO's ability to re-make the company with new strategies and sweeping changes. They also think Gates wields a disproportionate amount of power relative to his financial stake and day-to-day activity within the company. No word yet from Gates or the board on this internal strife."
guttentag writes "The author of The Hunt for Red October and many military and espionage novels which inspired a number of movies video games died last night in a Baltimore Hospital. The news was first reported by Publishers Weekly's Twitter account this morning and confirmed by New York Times Book Reporter Julie Bosman's Twitter account."
Rambo Tribble writes "Frontiers in Plant Science has published research which suggests that angiosperms' origins are a lot older than we have thought; 100 million years older, in fact. This puts the roots of these plants in the Triassic, not the Cretaceous, as previously thought."
jones_supa writes "Things are starting to look even better for the status of open specifications for AMD Radeon HD hardware. AMD's Alex Deucher announced via his personal blog that programming guides and register specifications on the 3D engines for the Evergreen, Northern Islands, Southern Islands, and Sea Islands GPUs are now in the NDA-free public domain. These parts represent the 3D engines on the Radeon HD 5000 through Radeon HD 8000 series graphics processors."
angry tapir writes "A Japanese start-up says it has finessed a technology that could finally make consumer-grade fuel cells a reality. If successful, the company, Aquafairy, would create a business where many much larger companies have failed. Prototypes of the company's hydrogen fuel cell technology are on show this week at the Ceatec exhibition in Japan where the company's president, Mike Aizawa, said he hopes the first products will be on sale next year."
An anonymous reader writes "Major newspapers in Germany (FAZ, Die Welt, SZ, ...) and the Huffington Post report that the author Ilja Trojanow has been prevented from boarding a plane from Salvador da Bahia to the U.S. where he was invited to attend a conference. He had ESTA documents showing that his visit was approved as part of the Visa Waiver Program and was last year given a visa to teach at the university of Saint Louis. Trojanow was one of the initiators of an open letter (Google translation to English) urging Chancellor Merkel to take actions against NSA surveillance in Germany."
theodp writes "Following up on a WSJ story, data visualization author Stephen Few illustrates why using lines or bars may be sweeter than pie when it comes to teaching kids fractions. 'Although the metaphor is easy to grasp (the slices add up to an entire pie),' explains Few, 'we know that visual perception does a poor job of comparing the sizes of slices, which is essential for learning to compare fractions. Learning that one-fifth is larger than one-sixth, which is counter-intuitive in the beginning, becomes further complicated when the individual slices of two pies — one divided into five slices and other into six — look roughly the same. Might it make more sense to use two lines divided into sections instead, which are quite easy to compare when placed near one another?' So, is the Tootsie Roll the new pie?"
An anonymous reader writes "Ubuntu 13.10 is due for release later this month, and the Ubuntu developers were planning to replace the native X Server with Mir/XMir as Canonical's next-generation Ubuntu display server. However, they have now decided Mir will not be the Ubuntu 13.10 default on the desktop over the XMir X11 compatibility layer suffering multi-monitor issues and other problems. Canonical still says they will use Mir for Ubuntu Touch 13.10 images and remain committed to the Mir project."
CowboyRobot sends this excerpt from Dr. Dobb's: "Ten years of surveys show an influx of younger developers, more women, and personality profiles at odds with traditional stereotypes. Software development is an art and a science that is not attainable for just anyone. It takes a special type of person to write code. Developers are detail-oriented, very literal, and intelligent. Logic is paramount, and they share a passion for their craft that rises above the desire to make more money. They are also typically married, middle-aged, have children, and most likely a mortgage. In one of a series of surveys that we've performed every six months since 2001 (interviewing each time more than 1400 developers worldwide), we find the typical developer is a married, middle-aged male, who has two to three children. Males have dominated the profession for as long we've been tracking this; and during that time, they have accounted for anywhere from 84% to 94% of the workforce. The number of male developers is currently close to the low, at 86%, which might indicate more females are taking up programming."
An anonymous reader writes "The launch of a national health exchange site was marred by overloaded servers in several states around the country. In a White House press conference, President Obama said that by 7 a.m., there were over a million users, and he likened the capacity problems to the glitches that Apple experienced after discovering bugs in their rlease of iOS 7. 'I don't remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads, or threatening to shut down company if they didn't,' the president argued." Meanwhile, a number government websites went blank as a result of the shutdown, instead of simply lying dormant until personnel could return. The National Science Foundation, NASA, the FCC, and the Library of Congress are a few examples.
darthcamaro writes "In March of this year, we saw the first ever 100 Gigabit DDoS attack, which was possible due to a DNS Reflection Amplification attack. Now word is out that a new 100 Gigabit attack has struck using raw bandwidth, without any DNS Reflection. 'The most outstanding thing about this attack is that it did not use any amplification, which means that they had 100 Gigabits of available bandwidth on their own,' Incapsula co-founder Marc Gaffan said. 'The attack lasted nine hours, and that type of bandwidth is not cheap or readily available.'"