alphadogg writes "Next-generation firewall maker Palo Alto Networks today announced its first acquisition, an intriguing buyout of a stealthy Mountain View start-up called Morta Security whose founders hail from the NSA. The price of the purchase was not disclosed. Morta that has been in stealth mode since 2012 and describes its founders as 'executives and engineers from the National Security Agency.' CEO Raj Shahsays he worked in the Air Force Reserve supporting the NSA. 'We have deep experience in protecting our national infrastructure,' he says. (Curious to see if more startups will start marketing their NSA heritage...)"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
schwit1 writes with news that the FBI has altered their declared primary function from "law enforcement" to "national security." From the article: "Following the 9/11 attacks, the FBI picked up scores of new responsibilities related to terrorism and counterintelligence while maintaining a finite amount of resources. What's not in question is that government agencies tend to benefit in numerous ways when considered critical to national security as opposed to law enforcement. 'If you tie yourself to national security, you get funding and you get exemptions on disclosure cases,' said McClanahan. 'You get all the wonderful arguments about how if you don't get your way, buildings will blow up and the country will be less safe.'"
JabrTheHut writes "An Australian team is seeking funding for bringing an interesting idea to market: cylinder engines without piston rings. The idea is to use small grooves that create a pressure wave that acts as a seal for the piston, eliminating the piston ring and the associated friction. Engines would then run cooler, could be more energy efficient, and might even burn fuel more efficiently, at least according to the article. Mind you, they haven't even built a working prototype yet. If it works I'd love to fit this into an older car."
KentuckyFC writes "General relativity is mathematically challenging and yet widely appreciated by the public. This state of affairs is almost entirely the result of one the most famous analogies in science: that the warping of spacetime to produce gravity is like the deformation of a rubber sheet by a central mass. Now physicists have tested this idea theoretically and experimentally and say it doesn't hold water. It turns out that a marble rolling on deformed rubber sheet does not follow the same trajectory as a planet orbiting a star and that the marble's equations of motion lead to a strangely twisted version of Kepler's third law of planetary motion. And experiments with a real marble rolling on a spandex sheet show that the mass of the sheet itself creates a distortion that further complicates matters. Indeed, the physicists say that a rubber sheet deformed by a central mass can never produce the same motion of planet orbiting a star in spacetime. So the analogy is fundamentally flawed. Shame!"
An anonymous reader writes "At CES 2014 in Las Vegas today, Mozilla announced its plans for Firefox OS this year. Having launched Firefox OS for smartphones in 2013, the company has now partnered with Panasonic to bring its operating system to TVs, and also detailed the progress that has been made around the tablet and desktop versions."
astroengine writes "Speaking at the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington D.C., astronomers have announced the discovery of an Earth-mass exoplanet that has a thick, puffed-up atmosphere making it 60% bigger than Earth. The exoplanet's mass is the first to be derived using transit timing variation (TTV) data from NASA's Kepler space telescope. 'Rather than looking for a wobbling star, we essentially look for a wobbling planet,' said co-investigator David Nesvorny, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). 'Kepler saw two planets transiting in front of the same star over and over again. By measuring the times at which these transits occurred very carefully, we were able to discover that the two planets are locked in an intricate dance of tiny wobbles giving away their masses.' With this information, astronomers are now trying to understand how such a planet (with a very compact orbit around its star) evolved. The leading idea is that it might have been a Neptune-like gas giant that had the bulk of its atmosphere ripped away by stellar radiation."
Emmett has a good rep as a video game music composer, and he's worked on a number of Star Trek-related projects, including the recently-released audio book, How to Speak Klingon: Essential Phrases for the Intergalactic Traveler. Emmett freely admits that he has no experience with RPG games. The closest he's come was running a major D&D meetup some years back. But he has experience and contacts developed from many years working online not only within the Star Trek community but (years ago) on Slashdot and as editor for Linux.com. And, he says, when he was a teenager he ran comic book stores. So is Emmett suited to run an RPG company? Possibly. He's actively looking for games to publish. Sales aren't going to start for six months or so, so there is no website for Arrakeen Tactical quite yet. Until there is one, you can contact Emmett about his game venture by emailing angelaATclockworkjetpack.com.
Nerval's Lobster writes "If you're a small-to-midsize tech company, CES isn't exactly the best place to get noticed. Every January, thousands of developers and startup executives flood Vegas with dreams of a big score. But they're not headed to the poker and blackjack tables in pursuit of that filthy lucre—instead, many of them have dropped thousands of dollars on a booth at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), arguably the highest-profile technology conference of the year. (In addition to the tens of thousands of dollars it costs to reserve a space on the convention-hall floor, that money goes to demo units, flying employees to Vegas, and much, much more.) If they haven't managed to secure a spot in one of the Convention Center's massive halls, they've set up a demonstration area in a suite at some hotel on the Strip. And if they're too under-capitalized or unprepared for a hotel, they're lurking in the Convention Center parking lot. Seriously. It's a little insane. But in a certain way, you can't blame the startups: at some point, someone told them that CES is the best way to get their company noticed, even if it means blowing the equivalent of three employees' yearly salaries. On paper, the get-a-booth strategy makes sense—aside from SXSW, CES hosts possibly the greatest concentration of tech journalists in a relatively small space. What many first-timers don't realize (until it's too late) is that startups have a hard time standing out amidst the chaos: there are too many companies at too many booths attempting to sell (at top volume) too many variations of the same core ideas. If that wasn't bad enough, a fair portion of those companies are trying to draw attention with flashing screens, giveaways, music pumping at top volume, and other gimmicks. (Hey, it's Vegas.) So not only does your Nike FuelBand knockoff need to compete against a hundred other 'smart bracelets' on display, but you somehow need to make yourself visible despite the plus-size Elvis impersonator belting out 'Don't Be Cruel' in front of that chip-vendor's booth a few steps away. That's just the sort of quixotic endeavor that would drive even the most stalwart startup founder to drinking before 9 A.M."
rbrandis writes "The eruption of a 'supervolcano' hundreds of times more powerful than conventional volcanoes – with the potential to wipe out civilization as we know it – is more likely than previously thought, a study has found. An analysis of the molten rock within the dormant supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park in the United States has revealed that an eruption is possible without any external trigger, scientists said."
Rambo Tribble writes "In what is being touted as a milestone, Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 fighter jets have flown with 3-D printed parts. The announcement came from defense company BAE Systems, and it depicts the program as a model for cost-saving. From the article: 'The parts include protective covers for cockpit radios and guards for power take-off shafts. It is hoped the technology could cut the RAF's maintenance and service bill by over £1.2m over the next four years.'"
jones_supa writes "A year after purchasing the Linksys home networking division from Cisco, Belkin today brought back the design of what it called 'the best-selling router of all time' but with the latest wireless technology. We are talking about the classic WRT54G, the router in blue/black livery, first released in December 2002. Back in July 2003, a Slashdot post noted that Linksys had 'caved to community pressure' after speculation that it was violating the GPL free software license, and it released open source code for the WRT54G. The router received a cult following and today the model number of the refreshed model will be WRT1900AC. The radio is updated to support 802.11ac (with four antennas), the CPU is a more powerful 1.2GHz dual core, and there are ports for eSATA and USB mass storage devices. Linksys is also providing early hardware along with SDKs and APIs to the developers of OpenWRT, with plans to have support available when the router becomes commercially available. The WRT1900AC is also the first Linksys router to include a Network Map feature designed to provide a simpler way of managing settings of each device connected to the network. Announced at Consumer Electronics Show, the device is planned to be available this spring for an MSRP of $299.99."
DeviceGuru writes "Google announced an initiative with Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai, and Nvidia aimed at fostering and standardizing Android in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems. The Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) is dedicated to a common platform that will drive innovation, and make technology in the car safer and more intuitive for everyone, says the group. The OAA is further committed to bringing the Android platform to cars starting in 2014. In its FAQ, the OAA suggests that this is not a full-blown Android in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system, but rather a standardized integration stack between automotive systems and mobile Android devices. However, the OAA FAQ also discloses broader ambitions for 2015 and beyond: 'We're also developing new Android platform features that will enable the car itself to become a connected Android device.'"
A while ago you had the chance to ask inventor Alan Adler about making the perfect cup of coffee and throwing things really far. Below you'll find his best coffee brewing tips and the answers to those questions.
theodp writes "High school junior Charles Dawson's New Year resolution is to write a new program in different language each week. It's an ambitious project for someone of any age, and while it won't give him an in-depth appreciation of programming language differences, it'll certainly give him greater insight into the strengths of certain languages than would perusing the Hello World Wikipedia article. Lots of claims are made about the comparative productivity of programming languages, but have there been any landmark studies that measure the efficacy of a programming language's productivity claims in a 'clinical trial' of sorts? Would head-to-head tests against other languages be a better way of sorting out Popularity vs Productivity vs Performance claims, or is relying on more nebulous claims of superiority the best we can do?"
judgecorp writes "Typo Products, which makes a physical keyboard for the iPhone 5 and 5S is being sued by BlackBerry. The firm — co-founded by media personality Ryan Seacrest — provides an iPhone case which includes a physical keyboard, whose keys are sculpted very like those of a classic BlackBerry phone. 'From the beginning, BlackBerry has always focused on offering an exceptional typing experience that combines a great design with ergonomic excellence. We are flattered by the desire to graft our keyboard onto other smartphones, but we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation for using our intellectual property and our technological innovations,' said Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry’s General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that the Midwestern United States is shivering through the region's lowest temperatures in twenty years as forecasters warn that life-threatening cold is heading eastward as a polar vortex of freezing Arctic weather sweeps across the United States. 'The coldest temperatures in almost two decades will spread into the northern and central U.S. today behind an arctic cold front,' says the National Weather Service. 'Combined with gusty winds, these temperatures will result in life-threatening wind chill values as low as 60 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit/minus 51 degrees Celsius).' The coldest temperature reported in the lower 48 states on Sunday was minus 40 F (-40 C) in the towns of Babbitt and Embarrass, Minnesota. Meteorologists warn that the wind-chill factor could make it feel twice as cold, causing frostbite to exposed parts of the body within minutes. Eleven people have already died in weather-related incidents in the past week, including a 71-year-old woman with Alzheimer's who wandered from her home in upstate New York and was found frozen to death only 100m away. Polar vortexes occur seasonally at the North Pole, and their formation resembles that of hurricanes in more tropical regions: fast-moving winds build up around a calm center. Unlike a hurricane, these are frigid polar winds, circling the Arctic at more than 100 miles per hour. The spinning winds typically trap this cold air in the Arctic. But the problem comes when the polar vortex weakens or splits apart, essentially flinging these cold wind patterns out of the Arctic and into our backyards. 'All the ingredients are there for a near-record or historic cold outbreak,' says meteorologist Ryan Maue. 'If you're under 40, you've not seen this stuff before.'"
sfcrazy writes "Nvidia just announced Tegra K1, its first 192-core processor. NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang made the announcement at CES 2014. He also said that Android will be the most important platform for gaming consoles. 'Why wouldn't you want to be open, connected to your TV and have access to your photos, music, gaming. It's just a matter of time before Android disrupts game consoles,' said Huang." Nvidia's marketing department created a crop circle to promote the chip after CEO Jen Hsun Huang declared that it was so advanced that "it's practically built by aliens."
An anonymous reader writes "Co3 Systems announced that Bruce Schneier has officially joined the company in the role of its first CTO. Schneier joins Co3 after spending seven years as BT's Chief Security Technology Officer and the previous seven years as CTO of Counterpane Security. Schneier's formal engagement with Co3 Systems began early last year when he joined the company's Advisory Board. His intersections with the Co3 team date much farther back to when he and Co3's CEO John Bruce worked together at Counterpane."
Nerval's Lobster writes "There may be a giant ring of dark matter invisibly encircling the Earth, increasing its mass and pulling much harder on orbiting satellites than anything invisible should pull, according to preliminary research from a scientist specializing the physics of GPS signaling and satellite engineering. The dark-matter belt around the Earth could represent the beginning of a radically new understanding of how dark matter works and how it affects the human universe, or it could be something perfectly valid but less exciting despite having been written up by New Scientist and spreading to the rest of the geek universe on the basis of a single oral presentation of preliminary research at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December. The presentation came from telecom- and GPS satellite expert Ben Harris, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Texas- Arlington, who based his conclusion on nine months' worth of data that could indicate Earth's gravity was pulling harder on its ring of geostationary GPS satellites than the accepted mass of the Earth would normally allow. Since planets can't gain weight over the holidays like the rest of us, Harris' conclusion was that something else was adding to the mass and gravitational power of Earth – something that would have to be pretty massive but almost completely undetectable, which would sound crazy if predominant theories about the composition of the universe didn't assume 80 percent of it was made up of invisible dark matter. Harris calculated that the increase in gravity could have come from dark matter, but would have had to be an unexpectedly thick collection of it – one ringing the earth in a band 120 miles thick and 45,000 miles wide. Making elaborate claims in oral presentations, without nailing down all the variables that could keep a set of results from being twisted into something more interesting than the truth is a red flag for any scientific presentation, let alone one making audacious claims about the way dark matter behaves or weight of the Earth, according to an exasperated counterargument from Matthew R. Francis, who earned a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy from Rutgers in 2005, held visiting and assistant professorships at several Northeastern universities and whose science writing has appeared in Ars Technica, The New Yorker, Nautilus, BBC Future and others including his own science blog at Galileo's Pendulum."
hypnosec writes "Researchers have developed a 'narrative authentication' system that could put an end to the need of remembering complex passwords to logging onto computer systems. The new system has been developed by Carson Brown and his colleagues over at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. The main idea behind the system is to log a user's activities on the system or any other device that he/she may be using and then ask questions about them when they login next time. Users can interact with the logging software and add their own events in the real world like wedding dates, holidays, travel dates, etc."
MojoKid writes "Over the past few years, short game writing 'jams' have become a popular way to bring developers together in a conference with a single overarching theme. These competitions are typically 24-48 hours long and involve a great deal of caffeine, frantic coding, and creative design. The 28th Ludum Dare conference held from December 13 — 16 of this past year was one such game jam — but in this case, it had an unusual participant: Angelina. Angelina is a computer AI designed by Mike Cook of Goldsmiths, London University. His long-term goal is to discover whether an AI can complete tasks that are generally perceived as creative. The long-term goal is to create an AI that can 'design meaningful, intelligent and enjoyable games completely autonomously.' Angelina's entry into Ludum Dare, dubbed 'To That Sect'" is a simple 3D title that looks like it hails from the Wolfenstein era. Angelina's initial game is simple, but in reality Angelina is an AI that can understand the use of metaphor and build thematically appropriate content, which is pretty impressive. As future versions of the AI improve, the end result could be an artificial intelligence that 'understands' human storytelling in a way no species on Earth can match."
sciencehabit writes "In a cosmic coup, astronomers have found a celestial beacon known as a pulsar in orbit with not one, but two other stars. The first-of-its-kind trio could soon be used to put Einstein's theory of gravity, or general relativity, to an unprecedented test. 'It's a wonderful laboratory that nature has given us,' says Paulo Freire, a radio astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, who was not involved in the work. 'It's almost made to order.'"