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Peter Thiel: We Need a New Atomic Age 33

HughPickens.com writes: Peter Thiel writes in the NYT that what's especially strange about the failed push for renewables is that we already had a practical plan back in the 1960s to become fully carbon-free without any need of wind or solar: nuclear power. "But after years of cost overruns, technical challenges and the bizarre coincidence of an accident at Three Mile Island and the 1979 release of the Hollywood horror movie "The China Syndrome," about a hundred proposed reactors were canceled," says Thiel. "If we had kept building, our power grid could have been carbon-free years ago. Instead, we went in reverse."

According to Thiel, a new generation of American nuclear scientists has produced designs for better reactors. Crucially, these new designs may finally overcome the most fundamental obstacle to the success of nuclear power: high cost. Designs using molten salt, alternative fuels and small modular reactors have all attracted interest not just from academics but also from entrepreneurs and venture capitalists like me ready to put money behind nuclear power. However, none of these new designs can benefit the real world without a path to regulatory approval, and today's regulations are tailored for traditional reactors, making it almost impossible to commercialize new ones. "Both the right's fear of government and the left's fear of technology have jointly stunted our nuclear energy policy," concludes Thiel. "supporting nuclear power with more than words is the litmus test for seriousness about climate change. Like Nixon's going to China, this is something only Mr. Obama can do. If this president clears the path for a new atomic age, American scientists are ready to build it."

Parts of Falcon 9 Launcher Wash Ashore In England 11

RockDoctor writes with news as reported by the BBC that parts of a Falcon 9 launcher have washed ashore on the Scilly Islands off the SW coast of Britain. Early impressions are that the pieces are from the failed Falcon 9 ISS launch which exploded after take-off in June. That's not the only possibility, though; according to the article, However Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said many experts believed, due to the size and markings which have now been revealed, it was from a different mission. "All the geeks have been getting together and looking at fine details, and we're pretty sure it's a launch from September 2014 that successfully sent a cargo mission to the space station. "It didn't look like an exploded rocket to me, it looked like a fairly normal piece of space junk when the lower stage of a rocket falls from a hundred miles up and hits the ocean. Large sections can remain in tact and it's really quite normal," he said.

C.H.I.P. vs Pi Zero: Which Sub-$10 Computer Is Better? (makezine.com) 45

Make Magazine weighs in on a issue that's suddenly relevant in a world where less thn $10 can buy a new, (nominally) complete computer. Which one makes most sense? Both the $9 C.H.I.P and the newest, stripped-down Raspberry Pi model have plusses and minuses, but to make either one actually useful takes some additional hardware; at their low prices, it's not surprising that neither one comes with so much as a case. The two make different trade-offs, despite being just a few dollars apart in ticket price. C.H.I.P. comes with built-in storage that rPi lacks, for instance, but the newest Pi, like it's forebears, has built in HDMI output. Make's upshot? The cost of owning either a C.H.I.P. or a Pi is a bit more money than the retail cost of the boards. Peripherals such as a power cable, keyboard, mouse, and monitor are necessary to accomplish any computer task on either of the devices. But it turns out the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero costs significantly more to operate than the Next Thing Co. C.H.I.P.

Hacker Cracks Lumia Bootloader, Offers Tool For Root Access and Custom ROMs (hothardware.com) 37

MojoKid writes: Microsoft and Nokia have worked hard making Lumia smartphones difficult to break into at a low-level, but software hacker Heathcliff has just proven that it's not impossible. He's just released a solid-looking tool called Windows Phone Internals, and it can do everything from unlocking the bootloader to replacing the phone's ROM. WP Internals is a completely free download, though Heathcliff welcomes donations by those who've found the tool useful. According to the "Getting Started" section of the tool, supported models include Lumia 520, 521, 525, 620, 625, 720, 820, 920, 925, 928, 1020, and 1320. If your model is not on the list, the developer has said that he hopes to add more models in the near future.
Christmas Cheer

Finnish IT Retailer Reveals Most Returned Products 67

jones_supa writes: The largest computer gear retailer in Finland, Verkkokauppa.com, has unveiled top 20 lists of most returned and most serviced equipment in 2015 (Google translation). To offer an alternative to Black Friday, the company is going with a theme called "Sustainable Christmas". They want to guide shoppers to make good choices, as product returns always create extra burden for the distribution chain. Is there anything that catches your eye in the lists, or something else that you would like to warn about?

Poll I'd like my data center to be powered by ... 150

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Celebrating ARM's 25th Anniversary With the Visual ARM1 (visual6502.org) 31

In a slow-burn series of posts going back to 2010, the Visual6502.org has presented diagrams and commentary on "ancient microchips," mosly based on painstaking microphotography after just-as-painstaking depackaging and cleaning of the actual chips.Today, reader trebonian writes an excerpt from their latest entry, in honor of the 25th anniversary of ARM Ltd., UK, which is somewhat different: To celebrate and honor their amazing work, we present the Visual ARM1, created in collaboration with some of ARM's founding engineers.

Designed by Sophie Wilson and Steve Furber before there was an ARM Ltd., the Acorn RISC Machine was the first of a line of processors that power our cell phones and tablets today. Unlike our projects based on microscope images, the Visual ARM was created from a resurrected .cif chip layout file, used under our license agreement with ARM. We also photographed one of the few ARM1 chips at very high resolution, and our photograph is featured at the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge.

Credit goes to ARM founding engineers John Biggs for inspiring the project, discovering the tape, and recovering a usable .cif file, Lee Smith for spotting the variable record format used to encode the file (an artifact of the VMS on Acorn's VAX that at first appeared to be widespread corruption of the file), to Cambridge University Computing Services for reading the Exabyte tape, and to ARM founder Dave Howard for help unraveling the VLSI CIF dialect. Our chip simulation and visualization was developed by Barry Silverman, Brian Silverman, Ed Spittles, and Greg James.


France Using Emergency Powers To Prevent Climate Change Protests (theguardian.com) 164

Bruce66423 writes: Following the Paris massacre, the French government declared a state of emergency. One of the regulations this introduced was control of large scale gatherings, and one of the events that is being caught up in this is planned protests to do with the Climate Change conference in Paris next month. This has resulted in some activists being put under house arrest — yet other gathering, such as commercial street markets — are being allowed to go ahead. Funny that; anyone would think that the government is using the opportunity to suppress dissent.
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Is There a Bookmark Manager That Actually Manages Bookmarks? 81

hackwrench writes: Most reviews of so-called bookmark managers focus on the fact that they can share bookmarks across browsers and devices and whether or not they can make your bookmarks public or not. Sometimes they mention that you can annotate bookmarks. Little is said about real management features like making certain bookmarks exclusive to one or a set of browsers or devices, checking for dead links and maybe even looking them up on archive.org. I'm sure this isn't an exhaustive list of features that would be good to have. What bookmarks managers do you use and why, and what features would you like to see in a bookmark manager?

Privacy Vulnerability Exposes VPN Users' Real IP Addresses (thestack.com) 62

An anonymous reader writes: A major security flaw which reveals VPN users' real IP addresses has been discovered by Perfect Privacy (PP). The researchers suggest that the problem affects all VPN protocols, including IPSec, PPTP and OpenVPN. The technique involves a port-forwarding tactic whereby a hacker using the same VPN as its victim can forward traffic through a certain port, which exposes the unsuspecting user's IP address. This issue persists even if the victim has disabled port forwarding. PP discovered that five out of nine prominent VPN providers that offer port forwarding were vulnerable to the attack.

NSA To End Bulk Phone Surveillance By Sunday (reuters.com) 106

An anonymous reader writes: The White House announced today that the NSA will be shutting down the program responsible for the bulk collection of phone records by the end of tomorrow. The program will be immediately replace with a new, scaled back version as enumerated by the USA Freedom Act. "Under the Freedom Act, the NSA and law enforcement agencies can no longer collect telephone calling records in bulk in an effort to sniff out suspicious activity. Such records, known as "metadata," reveal which numbers Americans are calling and what time they place those calls, but not the content of the conversations. Instead analysts must now get a court order to ask telecommunications companies ... to enable monitoring of call records of specific people or groups for up to six months."

LinkedIn's Own CSS Abused For Clickjacking Attacks 10

An anonymous reader writes: LinkedIn has fixed a security bug that allowed attackers to use its own CSS code for clickjacking attacks. Basically attackers can create blog posts and load CSS classes from LinkedIn's own stylesheets. If a reader lands on that blog post, then a malicious link can be shown for the entire area of the page. Not something "unique" since this type of method is quite well-known, but you don't generally expect to find these kind of attacks on LinkedIn's own platform. (Here's a link to the LinkedIn security blog. Sorry for not linking to the particular blog — LinkedIn has a weird URL policy. It's the first one.)
The Almighty Buck

'No Such Thing As a Free Gift' Casts a Critical Eye At Gates Foundation (theintercept.com) 127

theodp writes: The Intercept's Michael Massing takes a look at "How the Gates Foundation Reflects the Good and the Bad of 'Hacker Philanthropy." He writes, "Despite its impact, few book-length assessments of the foundation's work have appeared. Now Linsey McGoey, a sociologist at the University of Essex, is seeking to fill the gap. 'Just how efficient is Gates's philanthropic spending?' she asks in No Such Thing as a Free Gift. 'Are the billions he has spent on U.S. primary and secondary schools improving education outcomes? Are global health grants directed at the largest health killers? Is the Gates Foundation improving access to affordable medicines, or are patent rights taking priority over human rights?' As the title of her book suggests, McGoey answers all of these questions in the negative. The good the foundation has done, she believes, is far outweighed by the harm." Massing adds, "Bill and Melinda Gates answer to no electorate, board, or shareholders; they are accountable mainly to themselves. What's more, the many millions of dollars the foundation has bestowed on nonprofits and news organizations has led to a natural reluctance on their part to criticize it. There's even a name for it: the 'Bill Chill' effect."

The First Online Purchase Was a Sting CD (Or Possibly Weed) (fastcompany.com) 47

tedlistens writes: On August 11, 1994, 21-year-old Dan Kohn, founder of a pioneering, online commerce site, made his first web sale. His customer, a friend of his in Philadelphia, spent $12.48, plus shipping costs on Sting's CD "Ten Summoner's Tales," in a transaction protected by PGP encryption. "Even if the N.S.A. was listening in, they couldn't get his credit card number," Kohn told a New York Times reporter in an article about NetMarket the following day. According to a new short video about the history of online shopping, there were a few precedents, including a weed deal between grad students on the ARPANET and a 74-year-old British grandmother who in 1984 used a Videotex—essentially a TV connected to telephone lines—to order margarine, eggs, and cornflakes.

VTech Hack Exposes Data On 4.8 Million Adults, 200,000 Kids (vice.com) 62

New submitter lorenzofb writes: A hacker broke into the site of the popular toy company VTech and was able to easily get 4.8 million credentials, and 227k kids' identities using SQL injection. The company didn't find out about the breach until Motherboard told them. According to Have I Been Pwned, this is the fourth largest consumer data breach ever. "[Security specialist Troy Hunt] said that VTech doesn't use SSL web encryption anywhere, and transmits data such as passwords completely unprotected. ... Hunt also found that the company's websites "leak extensive data" from their databases and APIs—so much that an attacker could get a lot of data about the parents or kids just by taking advantage of these flaws."

Swedish Court: ISPs Can't Be Forced To Ban the Pirate Bay (thelocal.se) 47

An anonymous reader writes: After years of rulings against The Pirate Bay around Europe, a Swedish court has now ruled that the country's ISPs can't be forced to block access to the torrent indexer. The case centers around copyright holders and an ISP called Bredbandsbolaget. The ISP refused to comply with demands that music pirates be cut off from internet access. When rightsholders couldn't get traction that way, they added Bredbandsbolaget to their list of targets. The court found that the ISP does not "participate" in copyright infringement carried out by its subscribers, and is thus not liable for any damages incurred.