Travis Goodspeed has authored a blog post detailing his method of tracking low-earth-orbit satellites. Starting with an old Felcom 82B dish made for use on maritime vessels, he added motors to move it around and a webcam-based homemade calibration system. "For handling the radio input and controlling the motors, I have a BeagleBone wired into a USB hub. These are all mounted on the trunk of the assembly inside of the radome, sending data back to a server indoors. ... In order to operate the dish, I wanted both a flashy GUI and concise scripting, but scripting was the higher priority. Toward that end, I constructed the software as a series of daemons that communicate through a PostgreSQL database on a server inside the house. For example, I can run SELECT * FROM sats WHERE el>0 to select the names and positions of all currently tracked satellites that are above the horizon. To begin tracking the International Space Station if it is in view, I run UPDATE target SET name='ISS';. For predicting satellite locations, I wrote a quick daemon using PyEphem that fetches satellite catalog data from CelesTrak. These positions are held in a database, with duplicates filtered out and positions constantly updated. PyEphem is sophisticated enough to predict in any number of formats, so it's easy to track many of the brighter stars as well as planets and deep-space probes, such as Voyagers 1 and 2."
Check out SlashCloud for the latest in cloud computing.
twoheadedboy writes "A Chinese hacker group is the chief suspect of spear phishing attacks against the Falun Dafa spiritual group and military organizations in the Philippines. Data handed to TechWeek by AlienVault Labs showed how zero-day malware, designed to pilfer Outlook email account logins, was just one strand of the attacks, which are ongoing. Other malware sought to steal passwords for other accounts, dodging many commercial AV products, whilst remote access tools indicate this is a serious surveillance operation. Chinese authorities have neither confirmed nor denied the claims. But it marks another case of Internet-led surveillance with China's name attached to it, following numerous reports of mass Chinese hacking, which has already allegedly hit massive firms like Facebook and Google."
coolnumbr12 writes "A 2009 study (PDF) by the McAfee estimated that hacking costs the global economy $1 trillion. It turns out that number was a massive exaggeration by McAfee, a software security branch of Intel that works closely with the U.S. government at the local, state and federal level. A new estimate by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (and underwritten by McAfee) suggests the number is closer to closer to $300 billion (PDF), but even that much is uncertain. One of McAfee's clients, the Department of Defense, has used the $1 trillion estimate to argue for an expansion of cybersecurity, including 13 new teams dedicated to cyberwarfare. Despite the new data, Reuters said McAfee is still trying to exaggerate the numbers." The $1 trillion study has seen other criticism as well, so the new data is a step in the right direction.
An anonymous reader writes "Atari declared bankruptcy earlier this year, and part of that process involves selling off its property in order to pay as many entities holding its debt as possible. The latest round includes a $30 million claim from Atari's parent company in France, and a $261 million claim from another subsidiary of that parent company. The $30 million debt is secured (in other words, they get priority on whatever's left in the U.S. Atari's coffers), but the $261 million debt is not, so they'll have to wait in line with everybody else." The article also lists some interesting sell-offs. The old Accolade brand got sold for $50,000, the Battlezone Franchise was sold to Rebellion Interactive for $566,500, and Wargaming World Limited purchased the Total Annihilation and Masters of Orion franchises. Stardock Systems, creators of Sins of a Solar Empire, picked up the rights to the Star Control franchise, which they intend to reboot. (Those who played it will recall that StarCon2 was the Best Game Ever. And it's been remade after the creators released the source code.)
cold fjord writes "I wish it was always this easy. Business Insider reports, 'Iodized salt is so ubiquitous that we barely notice it. Few people know why it even exists. Iodine deficiency remains the world's leading cause of preventable mental retardation. According to a new study (abstract), its introduction in America in 1924 had an effect so profound that it raised the country's IQ. A new NBER working paper from James Feyrer, Dimitra Politi, and David N. Weil finds that the population in iodine-deficient areas saw IQs rise by a full standard deviation, which is 15 points, after iodized salt was introduced.... The mental impacts were unknown, the program was started to fight goiter, so these effects were an extremely fortunate, unintended side effect.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The hacking group known as the Syrian Electronic Army have hacked into Viber, defacing its support website, and posting what they claim is evidence of surveillance by the free phone-messaging app. The Syrian Electronic Army posted a message claiming the 'Israeli-based Viber is spying and tracking you' alongside what appeared to be a screenshot of an internal Viber database containing users' phone numbers, device UDIDs, IP address, operating system, and Viber version information." Viber is saying the attack was minor: "...the hack only allowed access to two minor systems, a customer support panel and a support administration system. According to the company's official response, 'no sensitive user data was exposed and Viber's databases were not "hacked."' Apparently, an employee simply fell victim to a phishing attack.
MojoKid writes "Intel unveiled a number of new data center initiatives this week as part of its broad product strategy to redefine some of its market goals. Santa Clara has begun focusing on finding ways to expand the utility of its low power Atom servers, including the upcoming Avoton Atom products, which are based on the 22nm Bay Trail architecture. Intel isn't just pushing Avoton as as low-power solution that'll compete with products from ARM and AMD, but as the linchpin of a system for software defined networking and software defined storage capabilities. In a typical network, a switch is programmed to send arriving traffic to a particular location. Both the control plane (where traffic goes) and the data plane (the hardware responsible for actually moving the bits) are implemented in hardware and duplicated in every switch. Software defined networking replaces this by using software to manage traffic and monitoring it from a central controller. Intel is moving towards such a model and talking it up as an option because it moves control away from specialized hardware baked into expensive routers made by people that aren't Intel, and towards centralized technology Intel can bake into the CPU itself."
New submitter Ajay Anand writes with news that Eolas's web patents are really dead (the infamous browser plugin patent that forced Internet Explorer to change how it activated plugins). After Eolas sued a number of companies, last fall a jury found the patents invalid; Eolas naturally mounted an appeal. But a panel of judges simply affirmed the jury decision (PDF). A quiet ending to a decade of patent trolling.
New submitter rogue_archivist writes "I'm an archivist at a mid-sized university archives, trying to develop a policy for archiving computer files ('born-digital records' in archival parlance). Currently old floppy disks, CDs, and the occasional hard drive are added to our network storage. Then the physical media is separated from archival paper documents and placed into storage. My question for all you slashdotters out there is: should these disks be imaged and then the physical copies discarded? Is there any benefit for keeping around physical copies of storage media long since rendered obsolete?"
New submitter Jah-Wren Ryel writes "It's been just over a month since the NSA's dragnet surveillance program was leaked to the public. Tomorrow, Congress is voting on an amendment that would block funding for NSA programs that collect the call records of innocent Americans. A win tomorrow may start a chain reaction — but it won't happen unless we speak up. We have one day to convince Congress to act." The EFF is urging U.S. citizens to call their representatives, noting that there is no time for email to be effective (find your representative). You can read the amendment on the EFF site, quoting the EFF: "Reps. Justin Amash, John Conyers, Jr., Thomas Massie, Mick Mulvaney, and Jared Polis are proposing an amendment that would curtail funding for the implementation of orders under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act unless the order is explicitly limited in scope. ... Even as the Amash/Conyers Amendment is gaining momentum, some are rallying around a decoy amendment that would do nothing to rein in domestic surveillance. That amendment, championed by Rep. Nugent, would not alter in any way the government's use of Section 215 to obtain bulk communications records on millions of Americans. EFF is urging Representatives to oppose the Nugent Amendment."
Via Ars comes news that the OpenGL 4.4 and OpenCL 2.0 were released yesterday. OpenGL 4.4 features a few new extensions, perhaps most importantly a few to ease porting applications from Direct3D. New bindless shaders have access to the entire virtual address space of the card, and new sparse textures allow streaming tiles of textures too large for the graphics card memory. Finally, the ARB has announced the first set of conformance tests since OpenGL 2.0, so going forward anything calling itself OpenGL must pass certification. The OpenCL 2.0 spec is still provisional, but now features a memory model that is a subset of C11, allowing sharing of complex data between the host and GPU and avoiding the overhead of copying data to and from the GPU (which can often make using OpenCL a losing proposition). There is also a new spec for an intermediate language: "'SPIR' stands for Standard Portable Intermediate Representation and is a portable non-source representation for OpenCL 1.2 device programs. It enables application developers to avoid shipping kernel source and to manage the proliferation of devices and drivers from multiple vendors. OpenCL SPIR will enable consumption of code from third party compiler front-ends for alternative languages, such as C++, and is based on LLVM 3.2. Khronos has contributed open source patches for Clang 3.2 to enable SPIR code generation." For full details see Khronos's OpenGL 4.4 announcement, and their OpenCL 2.0 announcement. Update: 07/23 20:17 GMT by U L : edxwelch notes that Anandtech published notes and slides from the SIGGRAPH announcement.
hypnosec writes "Adapteva has started shipping its $99 Parallella parallel processing single-board supercomputer to initial Kickstarter backers. Parallella is powered by Adapteva's 16-core and 64-core Epiphany multicore processors that are meant for parallel computing unlike other commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) devices like Raspberry Pi that don't support parallel computing natively. The first model to be shipped has the following specifications: a Zynq-7020 dual-core ARM A9 CPU complemented with Epiphany Multicore Accelerator (16 or 64 cores), 1GB RAM, MicroSD Card, two USB 2.0 ports, optional four expansion connectors, Ethernet, and an HDMI port." They are also releasing documentation, examples, and an SDK (brief overview, it's Free Software too). And the device runs GNU/Linux for the non-parallel parts (Ubuntu is the suggested distribution).
garymortimer tips more news about the rise of our robotic overlords. DARPA is now investigating military drone submarines as launch platforms for UAVs. Quoting John Keller at Military & Aerospace Electronics: "The Hydra program will develop and demonstrate an unmanned undersea system with a new kind of unmanned-vehicle delivery system that inserts UAVs and UUVs stealthily into operational environments to respond quickly to situations around the world without putting U.S. military personnel at risk. The Hydra large UUV is to use modular payloads inside a standardized enclosure to deploy a mix of UAVs and UUVs, depending on the military situation. Hydra will integrate existing and emerging technologies in new ways to create an alternate means of delivering a variety of payloads close to where they're needed, DARPA officials say."
Imagine a short (audio) squawk, less than one second long, as a secure authentication method for cell phones or other mobile devices. A company called illiri has developed (and has a patent pending on) a method to do exactly that. The company is so new that its website has only been up for a month, and this interview is their first real public announcement of what they're up to. They envision data sent as sound as a way to facilitate social media, mobile payments (initially with Bitcoin), gaming, and secure logins. Couldn't it also be used for "rebel" communications, possibly by a group of insurgents who want to overthrow the Iranian theocracy? Or even by dissidents in Russia, the country our interviewee, illiri co-founder Vadim Sokolovsky, escaped from? (And yes, "escaped" is his word.) And, considering the way illiri hopes to profit from their work, should they think about open sourcing their work and making their money with services based on their software, along with selling private servers that run it, much the way Sourcefire does in its industry niche? Their APIs are already open, so moving entirely to open source is not a great mental leap for illiri's management. In any case: Is their idea worthwhile? Are there already ways to achieve the same results? Is illliri's way enough better than existing mobile device security systems that it's worth exploring? And would it be better, not just for the world in general, but as a way to help illiri's founders make a living if their software was open source? (Transcript included)
An anonymous reader writes "Still the most popular open source office suite, Apache OpenOffice 4 has been released, with many new enhancements and a new sidebar, based on IBM Symphony's implementation but with many improvements. The code still has comments in German but as long as real new features keep coming and can be shared with other office suites no one is complaining." The sidebar mentioned brings frequently used controls down and beside the actual area of a word-processing doc, say, which makes some sense given how wide many displays have become. This release comes with some major improvements to graphics handling, too; anti-aliasing makes for smoother bitmaps. In conjunction with this release, SourceForge (also under the Slashdot Media umbrella) has announced the launch of an extensions collection for OO. Extensions mean that Open Office can gain capabilities from outside contributors, rather than being wrapped up in large, all-or-nothing updates. You can download the latest version of Apache OpenOffice here.