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Businesses

Startups: the Crazy Ones, the Misfits, the Rebels ... the Dumb

Posted by timothy
from the pets-dot-com dept.
An anonymous reader writes Many companies emerged in 2014 offering new ways to help people connect, get stuff done, or find that special someone. Slack, for example, offers a chatty alternative to work email. Or Yonomi might actually make an Internet connected home feasible. But other new startups, looking for that new and original thing, peddled products that were gimmicky, legally unsound, or just not super useful. On the other hand, sometimes things that seem gimmicky get revised down the road; Kozmo.com is my favorite example — the business model might not have been perfect, but the underlying idea wasn't so bad. Sometimes there's a large not-being-the-first-mover advantage.
Government

North Korean Defector Spills Details On the Country's Elite Hacking Force 29

Posted by timothy
from the can't-hack-in-here-this-is-the-hacking-room dept.
mattydread23 writes Business Insider interviewed Jang Se-yul, a North Korean defector who trained in the country's Mirim University alongside some of the hackers who make up its elite Bureau 121 hacking squad. He explains how they train: 'They take six 90-minute classes every day, learning different coding languages and operating systems, from C to Linux. Jang says a lot of time was spent dissecting Microsoft programs, like the Windows operating system, and how to attack the overall computer IT systems of enemy countries like the U.S. or South Korea.' He also explains that these hackers are among the elite in North Korea, and even though they have unfiltered information about the outside world that their countrymen lack, most of them would never dream of leaving. (See also this story from earlier this month about the life of North Korea's elite hackers.)
The Military

DARPA Wants Help Building a Drone That Flies Like a Hawk 17

Posted by timothy
from the why-not-spiders-like-in-minority-report dept.
DillyTonto writes DARPA has put out a call for ideas on how to build a fast, autonomous, maneuverable UAV that can fly up to 45 mph, navigate without assistance from humans or GPS into and through buildings that are a labyrinth of stairwells, small rooms, narrow hallways and terrorists. DARPA wants this drone to fly like the bird in this awesome hawk POV video that shows it shooting through gaps narrow enough it has to tuck its wings to get through. If you can watch the video without thinking of the forest moon of Endor, there may be some movies you should watch over the holidays.
Science

300 Million Year Old Fossil Fish Likely Had Color Vision 22

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-it-with dept.
westlake writes Nature is reporting the discovery of mineralized rods and cones in a 300 million year old fossil fish found in Kansas. The soft tissues of the eye and brain decay rapidly after death, within 64 days and 11 days, respectively, and are almost never preserved in the fossil record — making this is the first discovery of fossil rods and cones in general and the first evidence for color vision in a fossilized vertebrate eye.
Crime

Russian Hackers Stole Millions From Banks, ATMs 33

Posted by timothy
from the where-the-money-is dept.
An anonymous reader writes Tens of millions of dollars, credit cards and intellectual property stolen by a new group of cyber criminals. Group-IB and Fox-IT, in a joint research effort, released a report about the Anunak hackers group. This group has been involved in targeted attacks and espionage since 2013. Anunak targets banks and payments systems in Russia and CIS countries. In Europe, USA and Latin America criminals were mainly focusing on retail networks as well as mass media resources. Anunak is unique in the fact that it aims to target banks and e-payment systems. The goal is to get into bank networks and gain access to secured payment systems. As a result, the money is stolen not from the customers, but from the bank itself. If they manage to infect governmental networks, they use the infrastructure for espionage.
Books

App Gives You Free Ebooks of Your Paperbacks When You Take a "Shelfie" 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the show-us-the-pages dept.
Peter Hudson writes Alan Henry writes on LifeHacker: "Paper books are awesome, but sometimes there's no beating the portability of an ebook on your phone or tablet. If you have a physical book you'd love to read on the go, BitLit may be able to get you an ebook version for free—all you need to do is take a photo of your book case: a 'shelfie.'" CNET notes that it's not quite as useful as it sounds: "As you might expect from a startup in the e-book space, BitLit currently offers a very limited selection -- only about 75,000 books, so the likelihood of a match is pretty slim. Browsing the library, I recognized very few mainstream authors."
Cellphones

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Review 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
MojoKid writes Differentiation is difficult in the smartphone market these days. Larger screens, faster processors, additional sensors and higher resolution cameras, all are nice upgrades but are only iterative, especially when you consider the deluge of products that come to market. True innovation is coming along with less frequency and Samsung, more so perhaps than some other players, is guilty of punching out so many different phone models that it's hard not to gloss over new releases. However, the new Samsung Galaxy Note Edge may offer something truly useful and innovative with its supplementary 160 pixel curved edge display. The Note Edge is based on the same internal platform as the Galaxy Note 4, and features a 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 SoC with Adreno 420 graphics and 3GB of RAM. What makes the Galaxy Note Edge so different from virtually all other smartphones on the market is its curved edge display and what Samsung calls its "revolving UI" that offers app shortcuts, status updates, data feeds and features all on its own, but integrated with the rest of the UI on the primary display. You can cycle through various "edge panels" as Samsung calls them, like shortcuts to your favorite apps, a Twitter ticker, news feeds, and a tools panel for quick access to the alarm clock, stop-watch, a flashlight app, audio recorder and even a digital ruler. The Galaxy Note Edge may not be for everyone, but Samsung actually took curved display technology and built something useful out of it."
Science

Scientists Say the Future Looks Bleak For Our Bones 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-bones-about-it dept.
HughPickens.com writes Nicholas St. Fluer reports at The Atlantic that according to researchers, our convenient, sedentary way of life is making our bones weak foretelling a future with increasing fractures, breaks, and osteoporosis. For thousands of years, hunter-gatherers trekked on strenuous ventures for food with dense skeletons supporting their movements and a new study pinpoints the origin of weaker bones at the beginning of the Holocene epoch roughly 12,000 years ago, when humans began adopting agriculture. "Modern human skeletons have shifted quite recently towards lighter—more fragile, if you like—bodies. It started when we adopted agriculture. Our diets changed. Our levels of activity changed," says Habiba Chirchir. A second study attributes joint bone weakness to different levels of physical activity in ancient human societies, also related to hunting versus farming.

The team scanned circular cross-sections of seven bones in the upper and lower limb joints in chimpanzees, Bornean orangutans and baboons. They also scanned the same bones in modern and early modern humans as well as Neanderthals, Paranthropus robustus, Australopithecus africanus and other Australopithecines. They then measured the amount of white bone in the scans against the total area to find the trabecular bone density. Crunching the numbers confirmed their visual suspicions. Modern humans had 50 to 75 percent less dense trabecular bone than chimpanzees, and some hominins had bones that were twice as dense compared to those in modern humans. Both studies have implications for modern human health and the importance of physical activity to bone strength. "The lightly-built skeleton of modern humans has a direct and important impact on bone strength and stiffness," says Tim Ryan. That's because lightness can translate to weakness—more broken bones and a higher incidence of osteoporosis and age-related bone loss. The researchers warn that with the deskbound lives that many people lead today, our bones may have become even more brittle than ever before. "We are not challenging our bones with enough loading," says Colin Shaw, "predisposing us to have weaker bones so that, as we age, situations arise where bones are breaking when, previously, they would not have."
Sony

Did North Korea Really Attack Sony? 219

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Many security experts remain skeptical of North Korea's involvement in the recent Sony hacks. Schneier writes: "Clues in the hackers' attack code seem to point in all directions at once. The FBI points to reused code from previous attacks associated with North Korea, as well as similarities in the networks used to launch the attacks. Korean language in the code also suggests a Korean origin, though not necessarily a North Korean one, since North Koreans use a unique dialect. However you read it, this sort of evidence is circumstantial at best. It's easy to fake, and it's even easier to interpret it incorrectly. In general, it's a situation that rapidly devolves into storytelling, where analysts pick bits and pieces of the "evidence" to suit the narrative they already have worked out in their heads.""
Google

Google Motion Denied In Lawsuit Against Mississippi Attorney General 18

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-a-deep-breath dept.
An anonymous reader points out that a judge has called a time-out on a case between Google and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. "A federal judge has denied Google's motion to block enforcement of a subpoena issued by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood that seeks information from Google about parts of its operations, including information about advertising for imported prescription drugs. Federal court records also show U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate put Google's response to the subpoena on hold until after the new year. Wingate scheduled a Feb. 13 hearing for further discussions on Google's motion. He asked attorneys for both sides to file new briefs in January."
Open Source

Subsurface 4.3 Released 35

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
jones_supa writes "The Subsurface development team proudly announces release 4.3 of the open source divelog and dive planning program, available for all major desktop operating systems. This is the software originally founded by Linus Torvalds, and the development seems to be continuing in great pace. Subsurface now supports flexible filtering of the dive list based on criteria like tags, people or gear. Dive characteristics can now also be copied and pasted to other dives. The dive profile now offers an easy to understand tissue saturation graph that shows tissue saturation at any point during the dive. As another new feature in the dive profile, one can turn on an improved visualization of the gas combinations used during a dive. The dive computer and file format support have also gotten large improvements."
United Kingdom

UK Man Arrested Over "Offensive" Tweet 286

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-your-mouth dept.
mooterSkooter writes A 19-year-old Uk man has been arrested over an "offensive" tweet about an accident in which six people died. From the article: "The tweet, which has since been deleted along with the account that posted it, joked about the tragedy, in which the driver lost control of the vehicle and drove on the pavement, hitting Christmas shoppers 'like pinballs.' The tweet said: 'So a bin lorry has apparently driven in 100 people in Glasgow eh, probably the most trash it's picked up in one day.'"
The Internet

US Internet Offers 10Gbps Fiber In Minneapolis 98

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
An anonymous reader writes Christmas came early in Minneapolis! U.S. Internet has announced that they are now offering 10 Gbps service to all of their existing fiber customers. Their prior top tier service was 1 Gbps. The article also goes on to state that they're actively working on rolling out 40 Gbps and 100 Gbps fiber service as well."
Games

Should Video Games Be In the Olympics? 206

Posted by Soulskill
from the triathlon-should-be-swimming-cycling-and-zerging dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The BBC is running a story about e-sports and competitive video game. It's based on comments from Rob Pardo, formerly of Blizzard Entertainment, who says there's a good argument for having e-sports in the Olympics. He says video games are well positioned to be a spectator sport — an opinion supported by Amazon's purchase of Twitch.tv for almost a billion dollars. The main obstacle, says Pardo, is getting people to accept video games as a legitimate sport. "If you want to define sport as something that takes a lot of physical exertion, then it's hard to argue that videogames should be a sport, but at the same time, when I'm looking at things that are already in the Olympics, I start questioning the definition." The article notes, "Take chess, for instance. Supporters of the game have long called for its inclusion the Games, but the IOC has been reluctant, considering it a 'mind sport' and therefore not welcome in the Games." So, should the Games expand to include "mind sports" and video games?
Sony

Sony To Release the Interview Online Today; Apple Won't Play Ball 207

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-it-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports: "Sony Pictures is to distribute its film The Interview online, after a cyber-attack and a row over its release. The film will be offered on a dedicated website — seetheinterview.com — as well as via Google and Microsoft services." Notably absent among the services to provide The Interview is Apple. The New York Times reports: "According to people briefed on the matter, Sony had in recent days asked the White House for help in lining up a single technology partner — Apple, which operates iTunes — but the tech company was not interested, at least not on a speedy time table. An Apple spokesman declined to comment. "
Google

The History of the NORAD/Microsoft and Google Santa Trackers 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the NSA-only-has-santa-metadata dept.
theodp writes: Marketing Land's Danny Sullivan has a pretty epic post on How Google Became A Santa Tracker Tradition To Rival NORAD, and wonders if future generations will think of Santa tracking as synonymous with Google, just as past ones have felt about NORAD. Until it split with Google in 2012 (for unknown reasons) and hooked up with Microsoft, Sullivan explains, NORAD had really been the only place to go for a serious, dependable Santa tracking service. "There's a big part of me that wishes Google had gotten out of Santa tracking when it split from NORAD," says Sullivan of the divorce. "The NORAD Santa tracker brings back memories from my childhood; it brings back memories of me being a father with young kids checking in on Santa's progress. In contrast, Google feels to me like an upstart interloper messing with my nostalgic memories. But maybe Google's a welcome alternative to others. It's not uncommon to see the occasional complaint about a NORAD "Santa Cam" video showing Santa being accompanied by fighter jets. Some might prefer a Santa tracker that's not connected to a military organization. Of course, some might not feel one connected to a giant company is necessarily preferable. Part of me is also sad that when I go to NORAD's own site, I get a big Internet Explorer icon in the top right corner, which effectively opens up an ad for Microsoft. I guess I feel it's too blatant. Of course, complaining about the commercialization of something Christmas-related, I suppose, is kind of useless." Sullivan adds, "Overall, I'm thankful to the many people who are involved with both operations [NORAD Tracks Santa and Google Santa Tracker], who work hard to make children smile on Christmas Eve.""
DRM

How Laws Restricting Tech Actually Expose Us To Greater Harm 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the defective-by-design dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Cory Doctorow has an article in Wired explaining why crafting laws to restrict software is going to hurt us in the long run. The reason? Because we're on an irreversible trajectory toward integrating technology with our cars and houses, bodies and brains. If we don't control the software, then at some point, we won't control parts of our homes and our selves. Doctorow writes, "Any law or regulation that undermines computers' utility or security also ripples through all the systems that have been colonized by the general-purpose computer. And therein lies the potential for untold trouble and mischief.

Code always has flaws, and those flaws are easy for bad guys to find. But if your computer has deliberately been designed with a blind spot, the bad guys will use it to evade detection by you and your antivirus software. That's why a 3-D printer with anti-gun-printing code isn't a 3-D printer that won't print guns—the bad guys will quickly find a way around that. It's a 3-D printer that is vulnerable to hacking by malware creeps who can use your printer's 'security' against you: from bricking your printer to screwing up your prints to introducing subtle structural flaws to simply hijacking the operating system and using it to stage attacks on your whole network."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Human Eye's Oscillation Rate Determines Smooth Frame Rate 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the subtle-yet-obvious dept.
jones_supa writes: It should be safe to conclude that humans can see frame rates greater than 24 fps. The next question is: why do movies at 48 fps look "video-y," and why do movies at 24 fps look "dreamy" and "cinematic." Why are games more realistic at 60 fps than 30 fps? Simon Cooke from Microsoft (Xbox) Advanced Technology Group has an interesting theory to explain this all. Your eyes oscillate a tiny amount, ranging from 70 to 103 Hz (on average 83.68 Hz). So here's the hypothesis: The ocular microtremors wiggle the retina, allowing it to sample at approximately 2x the resolution of the sensors. Showing someone pictures that vary at less than half the rate of the oscillation means we're no longer receiving a signal that changes fast enough to allow the supersampling operation to happen. So we're throwing away a lot of perceived-motion data, and a lot of detail as well. Some of the detail can be restored with temporal antialiasing and simulating real noise, but ideally Cooke suggests going with a high enough frame rate (over 43 fps) and if possible, a high resolution.
Crime

Study: Police Body-Cams Reduce Unacceptable Use of Force 337

Posted by Soulskill
from the big-brother-watching-big-brother dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Incidents like the Michael Brown case have recently put police body-worn cameras into the public consciousness, but they're not a new idea to criminology experts. In fact, researchers at Cambridge began a study in 2012 using law enforcement in Rialto, California as a test bed. Their results are now in: "The experiment showed that evidence capture is just one output of body-worn video, and the technology is perhaps most effective at actually preventing escalation during police-public interactions: whether that's abusive behavior towards police or unnecessary use-of-force by police." The simple knowledge that both parties are being watched puts a damper on violence. "During the 12-month Rialto experiment, use-of-force by officers wearing cameras fell by 59% and reports against officers dropped by 87% against the previous year's figures." This was enough for the city of Rialto to decide it wants to move forward with body-worn cameras; hopefully the study will encourage other police departments as well.
Hardware Hacking

Many DDR3 Modules Vulnerable To Bit Rot By a Simple Program 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the flipping-bits-for-fun-and-profit dept.
New submitter Pelam writes: Researchers from Carnegie Mellon and Intel report that a large percentage of tested regular DDR3 modules flip bits in adjacent rows (PDF) when a voltage in a certain control line is forced to fluctuate. The program that triggers this is dead simple — just two memory reads with special relative offset and some cache control instructions in a tight loop. The researchers don't delve deeply into applications of this, but hint at possible security exploits. For example a rather theoretical attack on JVM sandbox using random bit flips (PDF) has been demonstrated before.

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