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Medicine

Can Living In Total Darkness For 5 Days "Reset" the Visual System? 3

the_newsbeagle writes: That's what one neuroscientist is aiming to find out. He wants to put patients with a type of amblyopia, the vision problem commonly called lazy eye, into the dark for 5 days. His hypothesis: When they emerge, their brains' visual cortices will be temporarily "plastic" and changeable, and may begin to process the visual signals from their bad eyes correctly. Before he could do this study, though, he had to do a test run to figure out logistics. So he himself lived in a pitch black room for 5 days. One finding: Eating ravioli in the dark is hard.
China

China Preparing To Send Crewed Shenzhou 11 To Tiangong 2 Space Station In 2016 15

MarkWhittington writes: China has not sent people into space since the mission of the Shenzhou 10 to the prototype space station Tiangong 1 in June 2013. Since then the Chinese have accomplished the landing of the Chang'e 3 on the lunar surface. According to a story in Space Daily, the hiatus in Chinese crewed spaceflight is about to end with the launch of the Tiangong-2 prototype space station in 2016 with the subsequent visit by a crew of Chinese astronauts on board the Shenzhou 11. The mission will be a prelude to the construction of a larger Chinese space station, slated to be completed by 2022.
Medicine

Hacking Medical Mannequins 21

An anonymous reader writes: A team of researchers at the University of South Alabama is investigating potential breaches of medical devices used in training, taking the mannequin iStan as its prime target in its scenario-based research. Identifying the network security solution and network protocol as the vulnerable components, the team was able to carry out brute force attacks against the router PIN, and denial of service (DDoS) attacks, using open source tools such as BackTrack.
Google

Google Changes Logo 73

An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday, Google announced a logo change that many on Slashdot have probably already encountered. The logo, according to the technology supergiant, was updated to reflect the fact that people "interact with Google products across many different platforms, apps and devices—sometimes all in a single day." This differentiates from the past when people only used a desktop PC to access Google's services.
Cellphones

Sony Unveils Smartphone With 4K Screen 55

An anonymous reader writes: Sony has taken the wraps off its new Xperia Z5 Premium smartphone, which has a 5.5" display that operates at 4k resolution. "The company acknowledged that there was still a limited amount of professional content available in 4K — which provides about four times the number of pixels as 1080p high definition video. But it said the Z5 Premium would upscale videos streamed from YouTube and Netflix to take advantage of the display." Sony's answer to the obvious battery concerns raised by such a pixel-dense (808 ppi) screen was to use a 3,430 mAh battery and memory-on-display technology. The video upscaling can also be turned off to decrease battery drain.
Media

Poll Flash is closer to dead today, and I ... 122

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Music

Canadian Music Industry Faces Competition Complaint Over Public Domain Records 24

An anonymous reader writes: A Canadian record label specializing in public domain releases has filed a complaint with the Competition Tribunal over alleged anti-competitive conduct by Universal, Sony, and host of other music industry leaders. The complaint tells a fascinating behind-the-scenes tale, with the recording industry doing everything in its powers — including posting false reviews, pressuring distributors, and lobbying for changes to the law — to stop the sale of competing public domain records.
Networking

New FCC Rules Could Ban WiFi Router Firmware Modification 150

An anonymous reader writes: Hackaday reports that the FCC is introducing new rules which ban firmware modifications for the radio systems in WiFi routers and other wireless devices operating in the 5 GHz range. The vast majority of routers are manufactured as System on Chip devices, with the radio module and CPU integrated in a single package. The new rules have the potential to effectively ban the installation of proven Open Source firmware on any WiFi router.

ThinkPenguin, the EFF, FSF, Software Freedom Law Center, Software Freedom Conservancy, OpenWRT, LibreCMC, Qualcomm, and others have created the SaveWiFi campaign, providing instructions on how to submit a formal complaint to the FCC regarding this proposed rule. The comment period is closing on September 8, 2015. Leave a comment for the FCC.
Transportation

Self-Driving Golf Carts May Pave the Way For Autonomous Cars 44

itwbennett writes: Researchers from MIT and Singaporean universities are experimenting with self-driving golf carts that use less (and relatively cheap) gear than self-driving vehicles while relying on computation-efficient algorithms. In addition to a webcam, each cart is equipped with four single-beam LIDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors from German maker Sick that have a field of view of about 270 degrees. Two of the sensors were mounted in the cart's front and used for determining its position and obstacle detection. The other two were cheaper, shorter-range sensors and were mounted on the back corners of the cart to scan for obstacles behind and on either side of it. The cost of the sensors was still high (on the order of $30,000) but that's less than solutions used in more sophisticated robotic vehicles. (Google has used $80,000 Velodyne LIDARs on its earlier self-driving cars.) A YouTube video shows the carts traveling the winding paths of a public garden in Singapore at a leisurely 24 kilometers per hour — slow enough for the computers to process all the obstacles (mainly pedestrians and animals). The researchers envision the self-driving vehicles being used in a shared transportation system, as rental bicycles are used in many cities.
Math

Machine Learning Could Solve Economists' Math Problem 124

An anonymous reader writes: Noah Smith argues that the field of economics frequently uses math in an unhealthy way. He says many economists don't use math as a tool to describe reality, but rather as an abstract foundation for whatever theory they've come up with. A possible solution to this, he says, is machine learning: "In other words, econ is now a rogue branch of applied math. Developed without access to good data, it evolved different scientific values and conventions. But this is changing fast, as information technology and the computer revolution have furnished economists with mountains of data. As a result, empirical analysis is coming to dominate econ. ... [Two economists pushing this change] stated that machine learning techniques emphasized causality less than traditional economic statistical techniques, or what's usually known as econometrics. In other words, machine learning is more about forecasting than about understanding the effects of policy. That would make the techniques less interesting to many economists, who are usually more concerned about giving policy recommendations than in making forecasts."
Wikipedia

Wikipedia Blocks Hundreds of Accounts Doing Paid Editing 101

jan_jes writes: After weeks of investigation, Wikipedia has blocked 381 user accounts for "black hat" editing. The reason for the ban is that the accounts were engaged in undisclosed paid advocacy — the practice of accepting or charging money to promote external interests on Wikipedia without revealing their affiliation, in violation of Wikimedia's Terms of Use. In addition to blocking the 381 "sockpuppet" account, the editors deleted 210 articles created by these accounts.
ISS

Soyuz Heads To Space Station With New Crew 25

An anonymous reader writes: Last night, a Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to deliver three astronauts to the International Space Station. Russia's Sergey Volkov, Denmark's Andreas Mogensen, and Kazakhstan's Aidyn Aimbetov reached orbit without incident, and they'll dock with the ISS in the wee hours of Friday morning. Mogensen and Aimbetov will only stay until 11 September, at which point they and Expedition 44 commander Gennady Padalka will undock and return to Earth. (Here's a neat time-lapse of changing a Soyuz craft's parking space at the ISS.) Padalka was in charge for the current expedition, but he'll be passing command of Expedition 45 to NASA's Scott Kelly. Kelly and Oleg Kornienko will soon reach the halfway point of their one-year mission at the space station. It's worth noting that this was the 500th rocket launch from the Gagarin launchpad at Baikonur.
Security

Shifu Banking Trojan Has an Antivirus Feature To Keep Other Malware At Bay 53

An anonymous reader writes: Shifu is a banking trojan that's currently attacking 14 Japanese banks. Once it has infected a victim's machine, it will install a special module that keeps other banking-related trojans at bay. If this module sees suspicious, malware-looking content (unsigned executables) from unsecure HTTP connections, it tries to stop them. If it fails, it renames them to "infected.exx" and sends them to its C&C server. If the file is designed to autorun, Shifu will spoof an operating system "Out of memory" message.
Transportation

How Autonomous Cars' Safety Features Clash With Normal Driving 335

An anonymous reader writes: Google's autonomous cars have a very good safety record so far — the accidents they've been involved in weren't the software's fault. But that doesn't mean the cars are blending seamlessly into traffic. A NY Times article explains how doing the safest thing sometimes means doing something entirely unexpected to real, human drivers — which itself can lead to dangerous situations. "One Google car, in a test in 2009, couldn't get through a four-way stop because its sensors kept waiting for other (human) drivers to stop completely and let it go. The human drivers kept inching forward, looking for the advantage — paralyzing Google's robot." There are also situations in which the software's behavior may be so incomprehensible to human passengers that they end up turning it off. "In one maneuver, it swerved sharply in a residential neighborhood to avoid a car that was poorly parked, so much so that the Google sensors couldn't tell if it might pull into traffic."
Encryption

Browser Makers To End RC4 Support In Early 2016 38

msm1267 writes: Google, Microsoft and Mozilla today announced they've settled on an early 2016 timeframe to permanently deprecate the shaky RC4 encryption algorithm in their respective browsers. Mozilla said Firefox's shut-off date will coincide with the release of Firefox 44 on Jan. 26. Google and Microsoft said that Chrome and Internet Explorer 11 (and Microsoft Edge) respectively will also do so in the January-February timeframe. Attacks against RC4 are growing increasingly practical, rendering the algorithm more untrustworthy by the day.
Communications

Ashley Madison Source Code Shows Evidence They Created Bots To Message Men 272

An anonymous reader writes: Gizmodo's Annalee Newitz looked through the source code contained in the recent Ashley Madison data dump and found evidence that the company created tens of thousands of bot accounts designed to spur their male users into action by sending them messages. "The code tells the story of a company trying to weave the illusion that women on the site were plentiful and eager." The evidence suggests bots sent over 20 million messages on the website, and chatted with people over 11 million times. The vast majority of fake accounts — 70,529 to 43 — pretended to be female, and the users targeted were almost entirely men. Comments left in the code indicate some of the issues Ashley Madison's engineers had to solve: "randomizing start time so engagers don't all pop up at the same time" and "for every single state that has guest males, we want to have a chat engager." The AI was unsophisticated, though one type of bot would try to convince men to pay and then pass them to a real person.