The NY Times reports China has once again stepped up its efforts to control the internet, passing a new set of rules by which internet users and ISPs must abide. In addition to requiring that users provide their real names to internet providers, the government says those providers are now more responsible for deleting or blocking posts that aren't agreeable to the Chinese authorities. Quoting: "The new regulations, issued by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, allow Internet users to continue to adopt pseudonyms for their online postings, but only if they first provide their real names to service providers, a measure that could chill some of the vibrant discourse on the country’s Twitter-like microblogs. The authorities periodically detain and even jail Internet users for politically sensitive comments, such as calls for a multiparty democracy or allegations of impropriety by local officials. In recent weeks, Internet users in China have exposed a series of sexual and financial scandals that have led to the resignations or dismissals of at least 10 local officials. International news media have also published a series of reports in recent months on the accumulation of wealth by the family members of China’s leaders, and some Web sites carrying such reports ... have been assiduously blocked, while Internet comments about them have been swiftly deleted. The regulations issued Friday build on a series of similar administrative guidelines and municipal rules issued over the past year. China’s mostly private Internet service providers have been slow to comply with them, fearing the reactions of their customers. The Standing Committee’s decision has much greater legal force, and puts far more pressure on Chinese Internet providers to comply more quickly and more comprehensively, Internet specialists said."
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cylonlover writes "NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) ion engine has set a new world record by clocking 43,000 hours of continuous operation at NASA's Glenn Research Center's Electric Propulsion Laboratory. The seven-kilowatt thruster is intended to propel future NASA deep space probes on missions where chemical rockets aren't a practical option. The NEXT is one of NASA's latest generation of engines. With a power output of seven kilowatts, it's over twice as powerful as the ones used aboard the unmanned Dawn space probe, yet it is simpler in design, lighter and more efficient, and is also designed for very high endurance. Its current record of 43,000 hours is the equivalent of nearly five years of continuous operation while consuming only 770 kg (1697.5 lbs) of xenon propellant. The NEXT engine (PDF) would provide 30 million newton-seconds of total impulse to a spacecraft. What this means in simple terms is that the NEXT engine can make a spacecraft go (eventually) very far and very fast."
The next generation of Russian spacecraft will be ready for test flights by 2017, according to Energia President Vitaly Lopota. 'We have completed the technical design project taking into account the fact that the new spaceship is to fly to the Moon, among other places,' he said. Federal Space Agency Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin says the new ship would be built by 2018 and would be able to conduct missions to the International Space Station and the Moon.
It looks like the long and winding road of the John McAfee saga is going to continue for at least a little longer. McAfee posted a detailed blog post about how he was able to elude Belizean authorities and sneak out of the country. From the article: "'It's visually interesting and it is mostly a happy story — in line with most Christmas stories,' he wrote. The former software executive describes an operation that was heavy in advance planning and trickery. He says he planted a lookalike ('my double — a man I have known for over 30 years and who years ago legally changed his name to John McAfee') and had him picked up by authorities in the northern Belize-Mexico border, while he and a group of friends and reporters loaded up a truck and headed in the opposite direction, to a southern town called Punta Gorda. With the news that he'd been arrested broadcasting on a local news station, McAfee figured that checkpoint security would relax."
A British plan to blast a path through more than two miles of ice to reach an Antarctic lake has been suspended because of technical problems. From the article: "In a move that clears the way for U.S. and Russian teams to take the lead, Professor Martin Siegert said technical problems and a lack of fuel had forced the closure on Christmas Day of the 7-million-pound ($11 million) project, which was looking for life forms and climate change clues in the lake-bed sediment. 'This is of course, hugely frustrating for us, but we have learned a lot this year,' said Siegert of the University of Bristol, principal investigator for the mission, which was headed by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). 'By the end, the equipment was working well, and much of it has now been fully field-tested,' he said on the BAS website."
dotarray writes "One Colorado family received more than they'd bargained for this Christmas when they gave five-year-old Braydon Giles a pre-owned Nintendo 3DS that apparently still contained 'graphic images' from a previous owner. From the article: 'Refurbishing is an art, as well as a craft. The whole point is to make a gadget feel pristine, even when it used to be owned by a cult leader, a scout leader or an exhibitionist. Sadly, someone in a Colorado GameStop stopped refurbishing before the job was complete. So much so that 5-year-old Braydon Giles opened his Xmas gift — a Nintendo 3DS — and discovered images of naked people doing less than pristine things. As Channel 9 News tells it, Braydon showed the 3DS to his brother Bryton. He wanted his help to remove these weird pictures. '"
jomama717 writes "Another chapter in the fascinating life of Srinivasa Ramanujan appears to be complete: 'While on his death bed, the brilliant Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan cryptically wrote down functions he said came to him in dreams, with a hunch about how they behaved. Now 100 years later, researchers say they've proved he was right. "We've solved the problems from his last mysterious letters. For people who work in this area of math, the problem has been open for 90 years," Emory University mathematician Ken Ono said. Ramanujan, a self-taught mathematician born in a rural village in South India, spent so much time thinking about math that he flunked out of college in India twice, Ono said.'"
Orome1 writes "PandaLabs outlined its picks for the most unique viruses of the past year. Rather than a ranking of the most widespread viruses, or those that have caused most infections, these viruses are ones that deserve mention for standing out from the more than 24 million new strains of malware that emerged."
dryriver writes "Advertising things at the right place is proving to be a cash cow, as electronic ads earn about $23mn each year for an empty building at One Times Square – the iconic tourist destination in the New York City. A 25-story Manhattan office building that has long been empty keeps on bringing in millions to its owner as a billboard. Michael Phillips, CEO of Atlanta-based Jamestown Properties, bought One Times Square through a fund in 1997 for $117 million, as the Wall Street Journal reports. More than 100mn pedestrians pass through the square each year, which is 90% more than 16 years ago, says the Times Square Alliance, a non-profit business improvement organization. And this is what makes a price tag for having a company's name placed on the building the highest in the world, even above such crowded tourist destinations as Piccadilly Circus in London. Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. pays $3.6mn a year for a Dunkin' Donuts digital sign on the One Times Square building, with Anheuser-Busch InBev paying another $3.4mn a year for its advertisement. Sony and News America pay $4mn a year for a shared sign."
An anonymous reader writes "A new trojan for Android has been discovered that can help carry out Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. The malware is also capable of receiving commands from criminals as well as sending text messages for spamming purposes. The threat, detected as "Android.DDoS.1.origin" by Russian security firm Doctor Web, likely spreads via social engineering tricks. The malware disguises itself as a legitimate app from Google, according to the firm."
coop0030 writes "Wired has an article up about how Adafruit, the kit-based electronics retailer and promoter of hobbyist engineering, is aiming to teach electronics to a younger demographic. So young that they're enlisting the help of puppets. Their new online show, titled Circuit Playground, will teach the essentials of electronics and circuitry to children through kid-friendly dolls with names like Cappy the Capacitor and Hans the 555 Timer Chip. Limor 'Ladyada' Fried, Adafruit's founder and chief engineer (and 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year), will host the episodes, with her team assisting with onscreen and puppeteering duties. Episodes will premiere this March, and Fried holds hope for them to help inspire the next generation of designers and builders."
antdude writes "The National Purchase Diary (NPD) Group Blog reports that 'Internet Connected TVs Are Used To Watch TV, And That's About All — The Internet connected high definition television (HDTV) screen has so far failed to break beyond the bounds of its TV-centric heritage, with little use for the big screen beyond the obligatory video services. But the connection is being used to provide access to a far wider variety of alternative sources for video content. The latest NPD Connected Intelligence Application & Convergence report highlights that nearly six out of ten consumers who own a connected HDTV are accessing Over-the-Top video services through the device.' (Seen on DSL reports.)" Wired's headline on a story based on the same information puts things more bluntly: "No One Uses Smart TV Internet Because It Sucks."
hypnosec writes "A new version of GNU C Library (glibc) has been released and with this new version comes support for the upcoming 64-bit ARM architecture a.k.a. AArch64. Version 2.17 of glibc not only includes support for ARM, it also comes with better support for cross-compilation and testing; optimized versions of memcpy, memset, and memcmp for System z10 and zEnterprise z196; and optimized version of string functions, on top of some quite a few other performance improvements, states the mailing list release announcement. Glibc v 2.17 can be used with a minimum Linux kernel version 2.6.16."
L3sPau1 writes "A zero-day exploit has been found in the Nvidia Display Driver Service on Windows machines. An attacker with local access can use the exploit to gain root privileges on a Windows machine. Windows domains with relaxed firewall rules or file sharing enabled can also pull off the exploit, which was posted to Pastebin by researcher Peter Winter-Smith."
theodp writes "After recent Slashdot discussions on Google's quest to unseat Microsoft Office in business and whether Google Docs and MS-Word are an even matchup, let's complete the trilogy by bringing up the inconvenient truth that numerous Google job postings state that candidates with Microsoft Office expertise are 'preferred' to those lacking these skills. 'For example,' notes GeekWire, 'when hiring an executive compensation analyst to support Google's board, the company will give preference to candidates who are 'proficient with Microsoft Excel."' Parents and kids at schools that have gone or are going Google are reassured that, 'it is more important to teach technology skills than specific programs' and that 'Google itself uses Google Apps to run its multi-billion dollar company.' Which, for the most part, is true. Just don't count on getting certain Google jobs with that attitude, kids!"