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Submission + - Ultralight Convertibles Approaching Desktop-Like Performance (

MojoKid writes: Laptops with fully articulating hinges are starting to show up from more vendors than just Lenovo, though the company certainly got some mileage out of their Yoga brand of machines. Now it appears HP is getting in on the action as well, with the new HP Spectre X360 that's powered Intel's new Core i5-5200U Broadwell-based processor with integrated Intel HD 5500 series graphics, along with 8GB of DDR3-1600 memory, a 256GB Solid State Drive (a Samsung M.2 PCIe SSD), 802.11ac WiFi, and a 13.3" Full HD (1920x1080) multi-touch screen. The Spectre X360 has a geared and spring-assisted hinges. The hinges swing open easily, and then offer more resistance as the screen is moved into an upright position, or swung around into tent, stand, or tablet modes. What's also interesting about this new breed of convertibles, beyond just its ability to contort into tablet mode and various other angles, is that performance for these ultralight platforms is scaling up nicely, with faster, low-power processors and M.2 PCIe Solid State Drives offering up a very responsive experience and under 10 second boot times. It has gotten to the point that 3 pound and under notebooks feel every bit as nimble as desktop machines, at least for mainstream productivity and media consumption usage models.

Submission + - Wasp virus turns ladybugs into zombie babysitters (

sciencehabit writes: The green-eyed wasp Dinocampus coccinellae turns ladybugs into zombie babysitters. Three weeks after a wasp lays its egg inside the hapless beetle, a wasp larva bursts from her belly and weaves itself a cocoon between her legs. The ladybug doesn’t die, but becomes paralyzed, involuntarily twitching her spotted red carapace to ward off predators until the adult wasp emerges a week later. How D. coccinellae enslaves its host at just the right time had been a mystery, but now researchers believe the insect has an accomplice: a newly identified virus that attacks the beetle’s brain. The findings raise questions about whether other parasites also use viruses as neurological weapons.

Submission + - The Dark Web Still Thrives After Silk Road writes: Russell Berman writes at The Atlantic that the government may have won its case against Silk Road's Ross Ulbricht, but the high-profile trial gave a lot of publicity to the dark web, and both the number of sites and the volume of people using them have increased since Silk Road was shuttered. “Just as on the rest of the internet, users on the dark net are very quick to move on to new things and move away from those products and websites that seem stale and old,” says Adam Benson. The cat-and-mouse game between users of the dark web and law enforcement appears to be shifting as well. Newer dark sites (two major ones are Agora and Evolution) are likely to protect their servers by basing them in countries "hostile to U.S. law enforcement," says Nicholas Weaver. "The markets will keep moving overseas, but law enforcement will keep going after the dealers," Weaver says, referring to the people who actually ship and deliver the drugs sold online.

Evolution Marketplace is a much different animal than Silk Road, according to Dan Palumbo. Evolution sells "weapons, stolen credit cards, and more nefarious items that were forbidden on both versions of Silk Road. Silk Road sold a lot of dangerous things, but operators drew the line at their version of ‘victimless crimes,’ i.e. no child pornography, weapons, or identity theft. Now, four of the top five DarkNet Marketplaces sell weapons while three of the top five sell stolen financial data." This is a darker DarkNet and it speaks to the challenge facing law enforcement as they knock one set of bad actors offline, another comes along with bigger and bolder intentions.

Submission + - The hacker who killed crowdsourcing (

Steven Levy writes: In the 2011 DARPA Challenge, $50K would go to the first team to piece together a bunch of shredded documents. One of the favorites was the team led by guy who'd headed the victory of a previous challenge, Manuel Cebrian. Like the last time, he was using a crowdsource approach, which he figured would give him a huge advantage. But when his system was attacked by sabotage by people posing as participants, it never recovered. Years later, he recruited an expert to help him piece it together Today, Mark Harris not only got the inside story from the Cebrian, his team and the expert, but found the hacker. He concludes that crowdsourcing will almost always lose in such cases.

The Prickly Partnership Between Uber and Google 77 writes Google, with billions of dollars in the bank and house-by-house maps of most of the planet, seemed like the perfect partner for Uber, the hugely popular ride-hailing service. But Mike Isaac writes in the NYT that just two years after Google's venture capital arm poured more than $250 million into Uber there are signs that the companies are more likely to be ferocious competitors than allies. Uber recently announced plans to develop self-driving cars, a longtime pet project at Google. Travis Kalanick, Uber's CEO, has publicly discussed what he sees as the inevitability of autonomous taxis, saying they could offer cheaper rides and a true alternative to vehicle ownership. "The Uber experience is expensive because it's not just the car but the other dude in the car," Kalanick said at a technology conference in 2014, referring to the expense of paying human drivers. "When there's no other dude in the car, the cost [of taking an Uber] gets cheaper than owning a vehicle." Uber is also adding engineers who are experts on mapping technology. And the company, based in San Francisco, has been in talks with Google's advertising archrival, Facebook, to find ways to work together.

Not to be outdone, Google has been experimenting with a ride-sharing app similar to Uber's and both companies have long toyed with the idea of offering same-day delivery of items like groceries and other staples. Last month Google announced it would start presenting data from third party applications inside Google Now, a service that displays useful information prominently on the screen of Android smartphones. Google said it had struck deals to draw data from such apps as Pandora, AirBnb, Zillow, and the ride-sharing service Lyft. The company most obviously missing from that list? Google's old and possibly former friend, Uber. According to Isaac, for young companies, even one as well funded as Uber, dancing with giants is a part of doing business — even if there is always a risk of getting squashed. "There are some hard lessons about the dangers of cooperation that are strongly in the memories of these companies," says John Morgan. "Something that makes partnering harder, even when it might make economic sense to do so."

Submission + - Sends Personal Data to Dozens of Tracking Websites (

An anonymous reader writes: From the AP: that–the flagship site of the Affordable Care Act, is quietly sending personal health information to a number of third party websites. The information being sent includes one's zip code, income level, smoking status, pregnancy status and more.


mpicpp writes: Uber is set to begin providing cities with its transit data, according to a blog post from the company released earlier today. Boston will be the first city to get Uber’s data, which is anonymized trip-level data by ZIP Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA) – the U.S. Census’ geographical representation of zip codes.

This isn’t the first time Uber has shared its data, but it is the first time it is doing so as part of a broader effort to work with municipal governments where it operates. Notably, despite the flowery and positive language surrounding the program in the company’s blog post, Uber is currently in a fight with New York City over sharing the exact same data. In fact, New York suspended nearly all of Uber’s bases last week and is demanding data be turned over. Uber is also the only car service in New York that opposes proposed measure to require this kind of transit data from car services.

No details were provided in the blog post on the specifics of the deal between Uber and Boston, which could explain its opposition in NYC, if the company plans to make money from data sharing. We have reached out to the city to find out what, if anything the deal will cost local taxpayers.

Boston recently voted to recognize Uber’s services, but the company has had a contentious relationship with most local regulators where it operates. That relationship is poised to get worse before it gets better, with a handful of municipalities currently considering regulatory reactions to the service. Popular outrage over Uber’s practice of price gouging consumers with its so-called “surge pricing” have also made it a target for regulatory scrutiny.

Uber has recently hired several new faces to focus on issues ranging from user privacy, to improving the public image of the company. The data sharing initiative is just the latest in these efforts.

Newly elected Mayor Marty Walsh had this to say in a statement – “We are using data to change the way we deliver services and we welcome the opportunity to add to our resources. This will help us reach our transportation goals, improve the quality of our neighborhoods and allow us to think smarter, finding more innovative and creative solutions to some of our most pressing challenges.”

Submission + - Bernie Sanders offers amendment declaring human caused global warming to be real (

MarkWhittington writes: As deliberations for the Keystone XL pipeline continue in the Senate, the new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has allowed any amendments any senator might offer to be considered and voted on. Taking full advantage of that indulgence, the independent senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders has proposed one of the strangest amendments ever to make its way to the United States Senate. The amendment will state that it is the opinion of the Senate that human-caused global warming is real, according to a Tuesday story in the Hill.

Did North Korea Really Attack Sony? 282

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.""

Submission + - Many DDR3 modules vulnerable to bit rot by a simple program (

Pelam writes: Researchers from Carnegie Mellon and Intel report that a large percentage of tested regular DDR3 modules flip bits in adjacent rows when a voltage in a certain control line is forced to fluctuate. The program that triggers this is dead simple, just 2 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 has been demonstrated before.

Submission + - Cooling canals at Turkey Point nuclear power plant still too hot (

mdsolar writes: Florida Power & Light needs millions more gallons of freshwater to manage cooling canals that keep two nuclear reactors at Turkey Point from overheating, company officials said in an emergency request to the South Florida Water Management District.

The hot canals do not pose a safety risk, federal regulators have said, but they have forced the utility to dial back operations over the scorching summer.

So with the heat showing no sign of easing, could brownouts be far off?

“We have record electricity demand and what we’re doing is taking proactive action to make sure we can effectively manage the situation in an environmentally responsible way while maintaining reliability for our customers,” said FPL spokesman Michael Waldron.

To cool the canals, the Water Management District on Thursday authorized pumping up to 100 million gallons of water a day from a nearby canal system, but only if it doesn’t take too much water stored for Everglades restoration. The canals carry freshwater to Biscayne Bay and tamp down salinity, which can fuel algae blooms and harm marine life.

The 100 million gallons would be in addition to 14 million gallons a day from the Floridan aquifer that water managers approved in June, after high temperatures threatened to shut down the reactors.


Chinese Hackers Infiltrate Firms Using Malware-Laden Handheld Scanners 93

wiredmikey (1824622) writes China-based threat actors are using sophisticated malware installed on handheld scanners to target shipping and logistics organizations from all over the world. According to security firm TrapX, the attack begins at a Chinese company that provides hardware and software for handheld scanners used by shipping and logistics firms worldwide to inventory the items they're handling. The Chinese manufacturer installs the malware on the Windows XP operating systems embedded in the devices.

Experts determined that the threat group targets servers storing corporate financial data, customer data and other sensitive information. A second payload downloaded by the malware then establishes a sophisticated C&C on the company's finance servers, enabling the attackers to exfiltrate the information they're after. The malware used by the Zombie Zero attackers is highly sophisticated and polymorphic, the researchers said. In one attack they observed, 16 of the 48 scanners used by the victim were infected, and the malware managed to penetrate the targeted organization's defenses and gain access to servers on the corporate network. Interestingly, the C&C is located at the Lanxiang Vocational School, an educational institution said to be involved in the Operation Aurora attacks against Google, and which is physically located only one block away from the scanner manufacturer, TrapX said.

Submission + - White House responds to petition to allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consu (

devloop writes: White House posts an official response to this petition, already with nearly 140,000 votes in favor, to allow direct sales to consumers in all 50 states. "We believe in the goal of improving consumer choice for American families, including more vehicles that provide savings at the pump for consumers. However, we understand that pre-empting current state laws on direct-to-consumer auto sales would require an act of Congress."

Submission + - WSJ: Facebook to Advertisers: More Data Coming

psybre writes: A Wall Street Journal article details Facebook's plans for sharing their information with advertisers. The company has been gathering user's browsing habits. While used in the past only for security reasons, they intend to provide this information to advertisers soon. An industry analyst was quoted that, "By bringing in data about their users' browsing habits and app usage, they are creating an even more complete profile of each person."

"Survey says..." -- Richard Dawson, weenie, on "Family Feud"