Ars Technica reports on an interesting and sensible-sounding approach to password policy that I'd like to see adopted just about everywhere I have a password (which, these days, is quite a few). An excerpt: "For instance, a user who picks "test123@#" might be required to change the password in three days under the system proposed by Lance James, the head of the cyber intelligence group at Deloitte & Touche. The three-day limit is based on calculations showing it would take about 4.5 days to find the password using offline cracking techniques. Had the same user chosen "t3st123@##$x" (all passwords in this post don't include the beginning and ending quotation marks), the system wouldn't require a change for three months."
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As reported by Tech Times, research conducted aboard the ISS has shown that Earth bacteria could survive the rigors of travel to Mars better than might be expected. "Research into bacterial colonization on the red planet was not part of the plan to terraform the alien world ahead of human occupation. Instead, three teams investigated how to prevent microbes from Earth from hitching a ride to the red planet aboard spacecraft. It is nearly impossible to remove all biological contaminants from equipment headed to other planets. By better understanding what organisms can survive in space or on the surfaces of other worlds, mission planners can learn which forms of microscopic life to concentrate on during the sanitation process. 'If you are able to reduce the numbers to acceptable levels, a proxy for cleanliness, the assumption is that the life forms will not survive under harsh space conditions,' Kasthuri Venkateswaran of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-author of all three papers, said."
wiredmikey (1824622) writes "As Europe powered up its most ambitious ever cybersecurity exercise this month, doubts were being raised over whether the continent's patchwork of online police was right for the job. The exercise, called Cyber Europe 2014, involved 200 organizations and 400 cybersecurity professionals from both the European Union and beyond. Yet some critics argued that herding together normally secretive national security agencies and demanding that they spend the rest of 2014 sharing information amounted to wishful thinking. Others questioned whether the law enforcement agencies taking part in the drill should be involved in safeguarding online security, in the wake of American whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations of online spying by western governments. Eurostat figures show that, by January 2012, only 26 percent of EU enterprises had a formally defined information technology security plan in place. One industry insider said the view in Brussels is that EU cybersecurity was "like teenage sex: everyone says they are doing it but not that many actually are.""
An anonymous reader writes with a snippet from ExtremeTech: "After being continuously inhabited for more than 13 years, it is finally possible to log into Ustream and watch the Earth spinning on its axis in glorious HD. This video feed [embedded at ExtremeTech] comes from from four high-definition cameras, delivered by last month's SpaceX CRS-3 resupply mission, that are attached to the outside of the International Space Station. You can open up the Ustream page at any time, and as long as it isn't night time aboard the ISS, you'll be treated to a beautiful view of the Earth from around 250 miles (400 km) up."
First time accepted submitter bdrasin (17319) writes "I've had a series of interviews with a late-term startup (approx. 300 employees) and I think there is a good chance they will make me an offer. The technology is great, my skills and interests are a good fit for the position, I think the company has a promising future, and I like they team. Frankly I'm damn excited about it, more so than for any job in my career. However, I'm worried about what could euphemistically be called 'cultural' issues. I'm a few years over 40, with a wife and kids, and all of the engineers at the company seem to be at least 10 years younger than I am. Being at the company's office gives me a distinct old guy at the club feeling. I don't think the overall number of hours the team works is more than I could handle, but the team does a lot of young-single-guy-at-a-startup group activities (rent-a-limo-and-go-clubbing night, weekends in Tahoe, Burning Man, in-office happy hour) that I wouldn't want or be able to participate in; I need to be home with my family for dinner most nights and weekends and so on. I'm wondering if anyone else has had the experience of working at a startup with, or as, an older programmer, and how it worked out?"
InformationWeek reports that check-in app Foursquare is splitting into two pieces. One of them -- the part that will retain the Foursquare name -- is actually losing the original check-in functionality, in favor of local reviews and recommendations; a second app called Swarm will get the who's-where-right-now part of the Foursquare functionality. From the article: "Foursquare isn't the first company to unbundle its features into new apps. Last month, Facebook announced that it will separate in-app messaging from its official iOS and Android apps and require users to download Messenger to chat with friends. Users will have two weeks to download Messenger before the service in the main Facebook app disappears, the company said. ... Foursquare's changes also aim to capitalize on a mobile app trend: Taking online friendships offline to meet up in person. Most recently, Facebook announced its opt-in Nearby Friends feature, which will display your friends' locations on a map and track, store, and share your location with others."
mikejuk (1801200) writes "Linus Torvalds, the 'man who invented Linux' is the 2014 recipient of the IEEE Computer Society's Computer Pioneer Award, '[f]or pioneering development of the Linux kernel using the open-source approach.' According to Wikipedia, Torvalds had wanted to call the kernel he developed Freax (a combination of 'free,' 'freak,' and the letter X to indicate that it is a Unix-like system), but his friend Ari Lemmke, who administered the FTP server it was first hosted for download, named Torvalds' directory linux. In some ways Git can be seen as his more important contribution — but as it dates from 2005 it is outside the remit of the IEEE Computer Pioneer award."
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "First there was 'global warming.' Then many researchers suggested 'climate change' was a better term. Now, White House science adviser John Holdren is renewing his call for a new nomenclature to describe the end result of dumping vast quantities of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into Earth's atmosphere: 'global climate disruption.'"
theodp (442580) writes "Thankfully, no one's gone full-Charles-Bronson yet, but the NY Times reports that victims of smartphone theft are using GPS to take the law into their own hands, paying visits to thieves' homes and demanding the return of their stolen phones. "The emergence of this kind of do-it-yourself justice," writes Ian Lovett, "has stirred worries among law enforcement officials that people are putting themselves in danger, taking disproportionate risks for the sake of an easily replaced item." And while hitting "Find My iPhone" can take you to a thief's doorstep, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith urges resisting the impulse to do so. "It's just a phone," he said. "it's not worth losing your life over. Let police officers take care of it. We have backup, guns, radio, jackets — all that stuff civilians don't have.""
GottaBeMobile offers a better explanation than many other reports of a recent Google upgrade (some users would say more of a lateral move) that makes offline document creation and editing a first-class option for users of Google's office apps, but removes editing capabilities from Google Drive per se. Instead of creating or editing documents directly through Drive, users will instead be able to do this (including offline) with a dedicated app called Docs and Sheets. The article explains a few ways in which the new configuration is confusing, including this one: "Splitting out the editing functionality from Google Drive into the new Apps certainly seems odd given that fundamentally there are no new or different editing features offered in the new Google Docs and Google Sheets standalone Apps. Some users won’t appreciate having to download the new stand alone Apps to replace previous functionality, especially limited functionality."
From Motherboard comes this description of what may turn out to be the newest entry on the periodic table, newly synthesized element 117, created by researchers at the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research of Darmstadt, Germany, and described in results published this week in Physical Review Letters. From the article: "Element 117 has been temporarily given the very literal name ununseptium (one-one-seven in Latin), and will only honored with a real name once the the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and Chemistry (IUPAPC) confirms its synthesis at the GSI accelerator. Ununseptium is 40 percent heavier than lead, making it on par with the heaviest atoms ever observed. ... Its properties seem to confirm that the existence of the so-called “island of stability”—a theory suggesting that the half-lives of superheavy isotopes will lengthen as their atomic numbers increase further away from uranium. Any element with an atomic number greater than 103 is considered superheavy (or in the 'transactinide class,' if you prefer the scientific jargon). Transactinides can only be observed artificially in a laboratory, and synthesizing them is no easy task." Note: that "real name" process isn't a mere formality; just a few years ago, another attempt to synthesize a 117th element looked promising enough to be declared done, but could not be confirmed with the IUPAPC's tests.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Reuters reports that last week's computer glitch at a California air traffic control center that led officials to halt takeoffs at Los Angeles International Airport was caused by a U-2 spy plane still in use by the US military, passing through air space monitored by the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center that appears to have overloaded ERAM, a computer system at the center. According to NBC News, computers at the center began operations to prevent the U-2 from colliding with other aircraft, even though the U-2 was flying at an altitude of 60,000 feet and other airplanes passing through the region's air space were miles below. FAA technical specialists resolved the specific issue that triggered the problem on Wednesday, and the FAA has put in place mitigation measures as engineers complete development of software changes," said the agency in a statement. "The FAA will fully analyze the event to resolve any underlying issues that contributed to the incident and prevent a reoccurrence." The U.S. Air Force is still flying U-2s, but plans to retire them within the next few years. The U-2 was slated for retirement in 2006 in favor of the unmanned Global Hawk Block 30 system, before the Air Force pulled an about-face two years ago and declared the Global Hawk too expensive and insufficient for the needs of combatant commanders."
New submitter postglock (917809) writes "Swype is a popular third-party keyboard for Android phones (and also available for Windows phones and other platforms). It's currently the second-most-popular paid keyboard in Google Play (behind SwiftKey), and the 17th highest of all paid apps. Recently, users have discovered that it's been accessing location data extremely frequently, making almost 4000 requests per day, or 2.5 requests per minute. The developers claim that this is to facilitate implementation of 'regional dialects,' but cannot explain why such frequent polling is required, or why this still occurs if the regional function is disabled. Some custom ROMs such as Cyanogenmod can block this tracking, but most users would be unaware that such tracking is even occurring." Readers in the linked thread don't all seem to see the same thing; if you are a Swype user, do you see thousands of location requests, none, or something in between?
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "For normal matter — things like protons, neutrons and electrons — there's a fundamental limit to the number of particles you can fit into a given region of space thanks to the Pauli exclusion principle. But photons aren't subject to that limit; in theory, you could cram an infinite number of them into the same exact state. In principle, then, couldn't you create a laser (or lasing cavity) with an infinite amount of energy inside? Perhaps, but there are some big challenges to be overcome!"
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "For those of us living in or around large cities — and that's most of us — we're completely divorced from dark, clear night skies as part of our routine experience. But even though our skies may typically rate a seven or higher on the Bortle Dark Sky Scale, that doesn't mean that significantly darker skies aren't accessible. Here's how to install an interactive light pollution map for yourself, and find the darkest skies near you no matter where you are! (North American-centric, but resources are provided for those elsewhere in the world.)"