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Submission + - How close are we, really, to nuclear fusion?

StartsWithABang writes: The ultimate dream when it comes to clean, green, safe, abundant energy is nuclear fusion. The same process that powers the core of the Sun could also power everything on Earth millions of times over, if only we could figure out how to reach that breakeven point. Right now, we have three different candidates for doing so: inertial confinement, magnetic confinement, and magnetized target fusion. Recent advances have all three looking promising in various ways, making one wonder why we don't spend more resources towards achieving the holy grail of energy.

Submission + - Ashley Madison CEO Steps Down // Reporter Finds Clues To Hacker's Identity

Dave Knott writes: Following the recent hacks on the infidelity website Ashley Madison, Noel Biderman has stepped down as CEO of both AshleyMadison.com and its parent company. Avid Life Media Inc., the company that owns the site and many others, announced Biderman's move in a short press release on Friday: "Noel Biderman, in mutual agreement with the company, is stepping down as chief executive officer of Avid Life Media Inc. (ALM) and is no longer with the company. Until the appointment of a new CEO, the company will be led by the existing senior management team." Before the data hack, the company was planning an IPO in London that would have taken in as much as $200 million US from investors. According to regulatory filings, the company had $115 million in revenue last year, more than four times the amount it obtained in 2009.

Meanwhile, in related news, Brian Krebs (the reporter who first uncovered the hack) says that he has uncovered clues to the possible identity of the hacker. Krebs says that he noticed that the Twitter account operated by a known hacker recently posted a link to Ashley Madison's stolen proprietary source code before it was made public. Intrigued by the poster's apparent access, he examined the account's posting history and noticed a predilection for the music of Australian hard rock band AC/DC. This jibes with the behaviour of the hacker(s), who had displayed threatening messages on the computers of Ashley Madison employees, accompanied by AC/DC song Thunderstruck. In a series of tweets, the owner of the account, one Thadeus Zu, appears to deny that he was behind the hack, and indeed makes several suggestions that the account itself isn't even run by one person, but is instead an amalgam of like-minded digital vigilantes.

Submission + - Federal Court Overturns Ruling that NSA Metadata Collection was Illegal->

captnjohnny1618 writes: *Sigh* NPR is reporting that an appeals court has overturned the decision that the NSA's bulk data collection was illegal.


A three judge panel for a U.S. appeals court has thrown out a lower-court decision that sought to stop the NSA from continuing to collect metadata on phone calls made by Americans.
>br> The lower court ruling had found that the practice was unconstitutional.

They go on to clarify that due to the recent passage of new laws governing how metadata is collected, this is less of a significant point than it would have otherwise been:

In some ways, this decision is much less important now that Congress has passed a law that changes the way meta-data is collected by the government. If you remember, after a fierce battle, both houses of Congress voted in favor of a law that lets phone companies keep that database, but still allows the government to query it for specific data.

Still seems like a fairly significant decision to me: in one case a government agency was willfully and directly violating the rights of the Americans (and international citizens as well) and now it's just going to get shrugged off?

One step forward and two back...

Link to Original Source

Submission + - How NASA Defended Its Assembly Facility From Hurricane Katrina->

An anonymous reader writes: Tomorrow marks the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's arrival in New Orleans. Though that time was filled with tragedy, there were survival stories, and a new article tells for the first time how NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility weathered the storm. Michoud was their key fuel tank production location, and if it had been lost, it would have derailed the space program. A 17-foot levee and a building with four water pumps capable of moving 62,000 gallons per minute stood between the storm and catastrophe for NASA's launch capabilities. "Water was merely the primary concern of the first 24 hours; Hurricane Katrina left its mark on the facilities even if Michoud was the rare speck of land to escape flooding. Roofs were lost to strong winds, one building even blew out entirely. External Tank 122 took some damage." Members of the "ride out" team spent much of the next month at Michoud, working long days to inspect and repair issues caused by the water. They maintained the facility well enough that it became a base for members of the military doing search and rescue operations. Amazingly, they did it all without any injuries to the team, and NASA didn't miss a single tank shipment.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Facebook's new milestone: one billion users on Monday->

jan_jes writes: Facebook is used by one billion people in a single day (on Monday). In October 2012, Facebook said it had one billion monthly users. Within 4 years, a big milestone touched by Facebook. “On Monday, 1 in 7 people on Earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family." Facebook is testing a breaking news app as Twitter. And recently they have launched their solar powered drone, new laser, and many new tools.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Could Alien Life Spread 'Like a Virus' to the Stars?->

astroengine writes: As astronomical techniques become more advanced, a team of astrophysicists think they will be able to not only detect the signatures of alien life in exoplanetary atmospheres, but also track its relentless spread throughout the galaxy. The research, headed by Henry Lin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), assumes that this feat may be possible in a generation or so and that the hypothesis of panspermia may act as the delivery system for alien biology to hop from one star system to another.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Learn FPGAs with a $25 board and Open Source Tools->

An anonymous reader writes: Hackaday has a 3 part tutorial with videos of using open source tools with a cheap ($25) FPGA board. The board isn't very powerful, but this could be the "gateway drug" to FPGAs for people who don't want to spend hundreds of dollars and install 100s of megabytes of software and license keys just to get their feet wet. The videos are particularly good--like watching them over their shoulder. As far as I know, this is the only totally open source FPGA toolchain out there.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Annuo App Tracks Sexual Consent

PvtVoid writes: In what has to be one of the creepiest developments ever, Annuo is an app for iPhone, Windows Phone, and Android which allows partners to register sexual consent. From the app's description on Google Play:

1) Register with Annuo or sign-in with Facebook.
2) You input the name of your prospective partner
3) You and your partner may record consent with your voices or sign off on consent
4) You may get a reward offer for getting consent
5) A history of your encounters, partners, and contracts are stored on our database, you can see them on your phone.

Never mind that this probably has no legal bearing, since consent can be withdrawn at any time, but, really, what could possibly be the downside of signing up for an app that keeps track of every time you have sex, and with whom?

Submission + - Kansas Secretary of State Blocks Release of Voting Machine Tapes->

PvtVoid writes: Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson has filed a lawsuit under Kansas' open records law to force the state to release paper tape records from voting machines, to be used as data in her research on statistical anomalies in voting patterns in the state.

Clarkson, a certified quality engineer with a Ph.D. in statistics, has analyzed election returns in Kansas and elsewhere over several elections that indicate “a statistically significant” pattern where the percentage of Republican votes increase the larger the size of the precinct. The pattern could be voter fraud or a demographic trend that has not been picked up by extensive polling. Secretary of State Kris Kobach argued that the records sought by Clarkson are not subject to the Kansas open records act, and that their disclosure is prohibited by Kansas statute.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - What Will Become of the World's First Open Source GPU?->

An anonymous reader writes: There are several open source hardware and microprocessor projects, but to date, there have not been efforts to create an open source GPU. However, at the Hot Chips conference this week, a team of researchers revealed their plans for MIAOW, a unique take on open source hardware that leverages a subset of AMD’s Southern Islands ISA that is used for AMD’s own GPU and can run OpenCL codes at what appears to be an impressive performance point that is comparable to existing single-precision GPU results.

As an open source project, it is reasonable to think that once it is further refined, some clever startup might decide to take the chip into full production. However, as one might imagine, there are likely going to be some serious IP infringement issues to address. Since the entire scope of the project is based on a pared-down variant of the AMD ISA for its own GPUs, the team will either need to work within AMD’s confines to continue pushing such a project or the effort, no matter how well proven it is in FPGA prototyping or actual silicon, could be a series of lawsuits waiting to happen.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Big question of the day: Leonard Nimoy or not? ->

coondoggie writes: The National Archives Unwritten Records Blog has an interesting item today for fans of actor Leonard Nimoy.
It seems that in the course of researching a film Clear Skies, Clean Air (from 1971) research request, the blogger Audrey Amidon thought the narrator of the film sounded familiar – that of Nimoy who most of the world knew as Star Trek's Mr. Spock.
Nimoy, who passed away earlier this year, amongst his myriad talents was a well-known voice-over actor. But the film and subsequent research turned up no record of the film’s narrator.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Jail for a copy of the Anarchists Cookbook?->

Submission + - Google Building Custom Hardware Based of FPGAs to Power Massive Neural Networks->

An anonymous reader writes: According to deep learning pioneer (inventor of convolutional neural networks), NYU professor and Facebook Research lead in AI. Yann LeCun, there is a new wave of hardware coming to companies like FB, Google, and Microsoft. The approach, based on field programmable gate arrays, could upend the healthy GPU and CPU business--but add new capabilities, going beyond neural nets (which can find a single person out of a crowd of 800,000 in under 5 seconds).

LeCun provides the context for where GPUs end at the training phase of the deep learning and neural network cycle and shows where other hardware limitations are. The assumption here is that if Google is doing, chances are so is Facebook, along with several other companies that sit on the bleeding edge of neural networks at scale. Although little has helped us come close to understanding the $16.7 billion investment Intel made in purchasing Altera, statements like these do tend to switch on little lightbulbs. LeCun says that when it comes to the Google and Facebook scale, there is a wariness of using proprietary hardware. “They will actually use their own or use something that is programmable,” he noted, which pushes the FPGA door open a slight bit wider.

Link to Original Source

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