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Crime

Did Alcatraz Escapees Survive? Computer Program Says They Might Have 81

Posted by timothy
from the like-to-think-so dept.
In June of 1962, three prisoners escaped the penitentary on Alcatraz, in an elaborate plot that was dramatized in a Clint Eastwood movie. A question that has long puzzled the public is whether these men ever made it to shore; the many factors that made Alcatraz a secure prison include sharks, cold water, and contrary currents. Still, some artifacts from the attempt, and perhaps the appeal of stories about survival against high odds, have led many people to believe that the men actually landed safely and faded into society. coondoggie writes This week Dutch scientists from Delft University of Technology presented findings from a computer modeling program they were working on, unrelated to the mystery, that demonstrated the escapees could have survived the journey. "In hindsight, the best time to launch a boat from Alcatraz was [11:30 am], one and a half hours later than has generally been assumed. A rubber boat leaving Alcatraz at [11:30 am] would most likely have landed just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The model also shows that debris in that scenario would be likely to wash up at Angel Island, exactly where one of the paddles and some personal belongings were found.
Businesses

Is Enterprise IT More Difficult To Manage Now Than Ever? 238

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-off-my-virtualized-lawn dept.
colinneagle writes: Who's old enough to remember when the best technology was found at work, while at home we got by with clunky home computers and pokey dial-up modems? Those days are gone, and they don't look like they're ever coming back.

Instead, today's IT department is scrambling to deliver technology offerings that won't get laughed at — or, just as bad, ignored — by a modern workforce raised on slick smartphones and consumer services powered by data centers far more powerful than the one their company uses. And those services work better and faster than the programs they offer, partly because consumers don't have to worry about all the constraints that IT does, from security and privacy to, you know, actually being profitable. Plus, while IT still has to maintain all the old desktop apps, it also needs to make sure mobile users can do whatever they need to from anywhere at any time.

And that's just the users. IT's issues with corporate peers and leaders may be even rockier. Between shadow IT and other Software-as-a-Service, estimates say that 1 in 5 technology operations dollars are now being spent outside the IT department, and many think that figure is actually much higher. New digital initiatives are increasingly being driven by marketing and other business functions, not by IT. Today's CMOs often outrank the CIO, whose role may be constrained to keeping the infrastructure running at the lowest possible cost instead of bringing strategic value to the organization. Hardly a recipe for success and influence.
United States

Report: Big Issues Remain Before Drones Can Safely Access National Airspace 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the drone-free-zone dept.
coondoggie writes The story sounds familiar – while the use of unmanned [aerial vehicles], sometimes illegally, is increasing, there are myriad challenges to ultimately allow them safe access to national airspace. The watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office issued a report on the integration of unmanned aerial systems, as it calls them, in US national airspace (NAS) today ahead of a congressional hearing on the topic. As it has noted in past reports, the GAO said the main issues continue to include the ability for drones to avoid other aircraft in the sky; what backup network is available and how should the system behave if it loses its communications link.
Businesses

Cisco Slaps Arista Networks With Suit For "Brazen" Patent Infringement 96

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-your-own-work dept.
alphadogg writes Cisco has filed two lawsuits against data center switch competitor Arista Networks for allegedly violating its intellectual property. One suit is for patent infringement, which charges Arista with violating 14 Cisco patents for 12 features in the Arista EOS operating system. The second suit is for extensive copying of Cisco's user manuals and command line structures, right down to the grammatical errors within them. "This is not an accident but a strategy," says a source familiar with the matter. "It was a deliberate, brazen and blatant intellectual property violation in order to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace. Arista's shortcutting to get to market and win share."
IT

Big IT Vendors Mostly Mum On Commercial Drone Plans 22

Posted by Soulskill
from the playing-possum dept.
alphadogg writes: Word that the Federal Aviation Administration might take a very hard line on commercial drone use has those with designs on such activity nervous. But as for big enterprise IT vendors, it's really hard to tell what they think because they're keeping any plans in this field very hush-hush. More consumer oriented companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google are active, but companies like IBM and HP are quiet, while Microsoft affirms it has nothing doing. A former FAA lawyer says sitting on the sidelines even during this unsure regulatory period is probably not a great idea. "I have a hard time believing they don't have some sort of programs in place," attorney Mark Dombroff says.
United States

US Intelligence Unit Launches $50k Speech Recognition Competition 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the unseen-mechanized-ear dept.
coondoggie writes The $50,000 challenge comes from researchers at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The competition, known as Automatic Speech recognition in Reverberant Environments (ASpIRE), hopes to get the industry, universities or other researchers to build automatic speech recognition technology that can handle a variety of acoustic environments and recording scenarios on natural conversational speech.
Bitcoin

US Marshals Auctioning $20M Worth of Silk Road's Bitcoins 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-bitjamins dept.
coondoggie writes: The U.S. Marshals office says it will auction off almost 50,000 bitcoins (about $20 million worth) seized from alleged Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht. The auction, which is the second sale of Silk Road's bitcoin collection, will take place during a 6-hour period on Dec. 4 from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. EST. Bids will be accepted by email from pre-registered bidders only, the U.S. Marshals office said. In June more than $17 million in bitcoins seized from the Silk Road take-down were auctioned off.
Google

Google Quadruples A.M. Turing Award To $1M 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the sweeten-the-pot dept.
alphadogg writes The Association for Computing Machinery has announced that its annual A.M. Turing Award, sometimes called the Nobel Prize in Computing, will now come with a $1M award courtesy of Google. Previously, the award came with a $250K prize funded by Google and Intel. The award, which goes to "an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community," is generally doled out in February or March. This past March, the winner was Microsoft Research principal Leslie Lambert. The ACM says the bigger prize should raise the award's visibility.
IOS

US Gov't Issues Alert About iOS "Masque Attack" Threat 98

Posted by timothy
from the that'll-teach-'em dept.
alphadogg writes Three days after security company FireEye warned of an iPhone/iPad threat dubbed "Masque Attack", the U.S. government has issued a warning of its own about this new risk by malicious third-party apps to Apple iOS devices. US-CERT warned: "This attack works by luring users to install an app from a source other than the iOS App Store or their organizations' provisioning system. In order for the attack to succeed, a user must install an untrusted app, such as one delivered through a phishing link." Revelations of Masque came on the heels of a related exploit (that also threatens Macs) called WireLurker.
NASA

NASA Pondering $1.5 Million Stratospheric Airship Competition 47

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-boldly-go-where-skydivers-have-gone-before dept.
coondoggie writes: NASA this week said it was contemplating a public competition to build airships capable of reaching the stratosphere where they could remain for a period of time gathering astronomical data or watching environmental changes on the ground. Airship Challenge's goals (PDF) include: a minimum altitude of 20km, maintained for 20 hours; successful return of payload data as well as cargo up to 20kg; and a demonstration of the airship's scalability for longer/larger missions.
Security

Website Peeps Into 73,000 Unsecured Security Cameras Via Default Passwords 321

Posted by Soulskill
from the security-through-insecurity dept.
colinneagle writes: After coming across a Russian website that streams video from unsecured video cameras that employ default usernames and passwords (the site claims it's doing it to raise awareness of privacy risks), a blogger used the information available to try to contact the people who were unwittingly streamed on the site. It didn't go well. The owner of a pizza restaurant, for example, cursed her out over the phone and accused her of "hacking" the cameras herself. And whoever (finally) answered the phone at a military building whose cameras were streaming on the site told her to "call the Pentagon."

The most common location of the cameras was the U.S., but many others were accessed from South Korea, China, Mexico, the UK, Italy, and France, among others. Some are from businesses, and some are from personal residences. Particularly alarming was the number of camera feeds of sleeping babies, which people often set up to protect them, but, being unaware of the risks, don't change the username or password from the default options that came with the cameras.

It's not the first time this kind of issue has come to light. In September 2013, the FTC cracked down on TRENDnet after its unsecured cameras were found to be accessible online. But the Russian site accesses cameras from several manufacturers, raising some new questions — why are strong passwords not required for these cameras? And, once this becomes mandatory, what can be done about the millions of unsecured cameras that remain live in peoples' homes?
Robotics

Pacific Northwest Lab's Sensor-Packed Fish Gauges Hydropower Facilities 28

Posted by samzenpus
from the release-the-swimbot dept.
coondoggie writes Sometimes it takes a fish to do a man's job. Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a sensor-laden, synthetic Sensor Fish that can be used to swim into hydropower facilities like dams to evaluate structures and other environmental systems. Using Sensor Fish, PNNL researchers say they can measure the various forces juvenile salmon experience as they pass through dams. The Sensor Fish initially was designed to evaluate dams equipped with a common type of turbine along the Columbia River, the Kaplan turbine. The pressure change, they found, is akin to traveling from sea level to the top of Mount Everest in blink of an eye.
Microsoft

OEM Windows 7 License Sales End This Friday 242

Posted by timothy
from the new-old-stock-will-persist-a-while dept.
colinneagle writes This Friday is Halloween, but if you try to buy a PC with Windows 7 pre-loaded after that, you're going to get a rock instead of a treat. Microsoft will stop selling Windows 7 licenses to OEMs after this Friday and you will only be able to buy a machine with Windows 8.1. The good news is that business/enterprise customers will still be able to order PCs 'downgraded' to Windows 7 Professional. Microsoft has not set an end date for when it will cut off Windows 7 Professional to OEMs, but it will likely be a while. This all fits in with typical Microsoft timing. Microsoft usually pulls OEM supply of an OS a year after it removes it from retail. Microsoft cut off the retail supply of Windows 7 in October of last year, although some retailers still have some remaining stock left. If the analytics from Steam are any indicator, Windows 8 is slowly working its way into the American public, but mostly as a Windows XP replacement. Windows 7, both 32-bit and 64-bit, account for 59% of their user base. Windows 8 and 8.1 account for 28%, while XP has dwindled to 4%.
The Internet

Secretive Funding Fuels Ongoing Net Neutrality Astroturfing Controversy 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
alphadogg writes: The contentious debate about net neutrality in the U.S. has sparked controversy over a lack of funding transparency for advocacy groups and think tanks, which critics say subverts the political process. News stories from a handful of publications in recent months have accused some think tanks and advocacy groups of "astroturfing" — quietly shilling for large broadband carriers. In a handful of cases, those criticisms appear to have some merit, although the term is so overused by people looking to discredit political opponents that it has nearly lost its original meaning. An IDG News Service investigation found that major groups opposing U.S. Federal Communications Commission reclassification and regulation of broadband as a public utility tend to be less transparent about their funding than the other side. Still, some big-name advocates of strong net neutrality rules also have limited transparency mechanisms in place.
Sony

How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor 296

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-in-the-day dept.
smaxp writes In 2007, Sony's supply chain lessons, the network effect from the shift to Intel architecture, and a better OS X for developers combined to renew the Mac's growth. The network effects of the Microsoft Wintel ecosystem that Rappaport explained 20 years ago in the Harvard Business Review are no longer a big advantage. By turning itself into a premium PC company with a proprietary OS, Apple has taken the best of PC ecosystem, but avoided taking on the disadvantages.
Microsoft

Microsoft Exec Opens Up About Research Lab Closure, Layoffs 55

Posted by samzenpus
from the story-behind-the-story dept.
alphadogg writes It's been a bit over a month since Microsoft shuttered its Microsoft Research lab in Silicon Valley as part of the company's broader restructuring that will include 18,000 layoffs. This week, Harry Shum, Microsoft EVP of Technology & Research, posted what he termed an "open letter to the academic research community" on the company's research blog. In the post, Shum is suitably contrite about the painful job cut decisions that were made in closing the lab, which opened in 2001. He also stresses that Microsoft will continue to invest in and value "fundamental research".
Businesses

Cisco Exec: Turnover In Engineering No Problem 148

Posted by timothy
from the depends-which-coworkers-are-worth-their-wages dept.
alphadogg (971356) writes The engineering reorganization currently underway at network giant Cisco Systems is intended to streamline product development and delivery to customers. That it is prompting some high profile departures is an expected byproduct of any realignment of this size, which affects 25,000 employees, says Cisco Executive Vice President Pankaj Patel, who is conducting the transformation. "People leave for personal business reasons," Patel said in an interview with Network World this week. "Similar transformations" among Cisco peers and customers "see personnel change of 30% to 50%."
Displays

Startup's Open Source Device Promises Gamers "Surround Sound For Your Eyes" 43

Posted by timothy
from the you-are-in-a-warm-green-room dept.
alphadogg (971356) writes A startup called Antumbra run by 5 college students is looking to throw a little soothing light on this situation: People who hunker down in front of their computers until the wee hours, until it feels like their eyes might fall out. Antumbra's open-source-based Glow, which launches in a limited beta of 100 $35 units on Thursday, is a small (1.5" x 1.5"x 0.5") doohickey that attaches to the back of your computer monitor via USB port and is designed to enhance your work or gaming experience — and lessen eye strain — by spreading the colors from your screen onto the wall behind it in real time. The idea is to reduce the contrast in colors between the computer screen and the background area. The the idea might not be new, and people have been home-brewing their own content-driven lighting like this for a while, but this is the first I've seen that looks like a simple add-on.
Privacy

Dubai Police To Use Google Glass For Facial Recognition 122

Posted by samzenpus
from the watching-you-better dept.
cold fjord sends word about what the Dubai police plan on doing with their Google Glass. Police officers in Dubai will soon be able to identify suspects wanted for crimes just by looking at them. Using Google Glass and a custom-developed facial recognition software, Dubai police will be able to capture photos of people around them and search their faces in a database of people wanted for crimes ... When a match is made in the database, the Glass device will receive a notification. .... What's particularly interesting about the project is that facial recognition technology is banned by the Google Glass developer policy. ... The section of the policy that addresses such technology seems to disqualify the Dubai police force's plan for Glass."
Security

DARPA Delving Into the Black Art of Super Secure Software Obfuscation 124

Posted by samzenpus
from the lock-it-down dept.
coondoggie writes Given enough computer power, desire, brains, and luck, the security of most systems can be broken. But there are cryptographic and algorithmic security techniques, ideas and concepts out there that add a level of algorithmic mystification that could be built into programs that would make them close to unbreakable. That's what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants for a new program called "Safeware." From DARPA: “The goal of the SafeWare research effort is to drive fundamental advances in the theory of program obfuscation and to develop highly efficient and widely applicable program obfuscation methods with mathematically proven security properties.”

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