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FTDI Driver Breaks Hardware Again (eevblog.com) 268

janoc writes: It seems that the infamous FTDI driver that got famous by intentionally bricking counterfeit chips [NOTE: that driver was later removed] has got a new update that injects garbage data ('NON GENUINE DEVICE FOUND!') into the serial data. This was apparently going on for a while, but only now is the driver being pushed as an automatic update through Windows Update, thus many more people stand to be affected by this.

Let's hope that nobody dies in an industrial accident when a tech connects their cheap USB-to-serial cable to a piece of machinery and the controller misinterprets the garbage data.


What Spotlighting Harassment In Astronomy Means 432

StartsWithABang writes: Geoff Marcy. Tim Slater. Christian Ott. And a great many more who are just waiting to be publicly exposed for what they've done (and in many cases, are still doing). Does it mean that astronomy has a harassment problem? Of course it does, but that's not the real story. The real story is that, for the first time, an entire academic field is recognizing a widespread problem, taking steps to change its policies, and is beginning to support the victims, rather than the senior, more famous, more prestigious perpetrators. Astronomy is the just start; hopefully physics, computer science, engineering, philosophy and economics are next.

New WiFi HaLow Protocol May Bring Old Security Issues With It 65

Trailrunner7 writes: Perhaps because smart lightbulbs that refuse firmware updates and refrigerators with blue screens of death aren't enough fun on their own, a new WiFi protocol designed specifically for IoT devices and appliances is on the horizon, bringing with it all of the potential security challenges you've come to know and love in WiFi classic. The new protocol is based on the 802.11ah standard from the IEEE and is being billed as Wi-Fi HaLow by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Wi-Fi HaLow differs from the wireless signal that most current devices uses in a couple of key ways. First, it's designed as a low-powered protocol and will operate in the range below one gigahertz. Second, the protocol will have a much longer range than traditional Wi-Fi, a feature that will make it attractive for use in applications such as connecting traffic lights and cameras in smart cities. But, as with any new protocol or system, Wi-Fi HaLow will carry with it new security considerations to face. And one of the main challenges will be securing all of the various implementations of the protocol.
The Almighty Buck

Why Do Americans Work So Much? 729

HughPickens.com writes Rebecca Rosen has an interesting essay at The Atlantic on economist John Maynard Keynes' prediction in 1930 that with increased productivity, over the next 100 years the economy would become so productive that people would barely need to work at all. For a while, it looked like Keynes was right: In 1930 the average workweek was 47 hours. By 1970 it had fallen to slightly less than 39. But then something changed. Instead of continuing to decline, the duration of the workweek stayed put; it's hovered just below 40 hours for nearly five decades. According to Rosen there would be no mystery in this if Keynes had been wrong about the economy's increasing productivity, which he thought would lead to a standard of living "between four and eight times as high as it is today." Keynes got that right: Technology has made the economy massively more productive. Now a new paper Benjamin Friedman says that "the U.S. economy is right on track to reach Keynes's eight-fold multiple" by 2029—100 years after the last data Keynes would have had. But according to Friedman, the key reason that Keynes prediction failed to come true is that Keynes failed to allow for the changing distribution of wealth.

Forbes Asks Readers To Disable Adblock, Serves Up Malvertising (engadget.com) 406

Deathlizard writes with a report at Engadget that when this year's "Forbes 30 Under 30" list came out , "it featured a prominent security researcher. Other researchers were pleased to see one of their own getting positive attention, and visited the site in droves to view the list. On arrival, like a growing number of websites, Forbes asked readers to turn off ad blockers in order to view the article. After doing so, visitors were immediately served with pop-under malware, primed to infect their computers, and likely silently steal passwords, personal data and banking information."

Drupal Update Process Flawed By Multiple Bugs (softpedia.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes: The Drupal CMS, a favorite with large enterprises, has a few bugs in its update process, affecting both the Drupal core update and its modules. The biggest flaw of the three discovered by IOActive researchers allows an attacker to take over the sites via poisoned updates. What's worse is that Drupal's team had known of this issue since 2012, but only recently reopened discussions on fixing the problem.

Java Named Top Programming Language of 2015 (dice.com) 358

Nerval's Lobster writes: What was the most popular programming language of 2015? According to the people behind the TIOBE Index, Java took that coveted spot, winning out over C, Python, PHP, and other languages. "At first sight, it might seem surprising that an old language like Java wins this award," read TIOBE's note accompanying the list. "Especially if you take into consideration that Java won the same award exactly 10 years ago." Yet Java remains essential not only for businesses, it continued, but also consumer-centric markets such as mobile development (i.e., Google Android). That being said, even big languages can tumble. (Dice link) Objective-C tumbled from third place to 18th in the past 12 months, thanks to Apple's decision to replace it with Swift. In 2016, TIOBE expects that "Java, PHP (with the new 7 release), JavaScript and Swift will be the top 10 winners for 2016. Scala might gain a permanent top 20 position, whereas Rust, Clojure, Julia and TypeScript will also move up considerably in the chart." What has been your most-used (or best-loved) programming language of the last 12 months?

Uber In Retreat Across Europe 460

HughPickens.com writes: Mark Scott reports at the NY Times that Uber is rapidly expanding its ride-hailing operations across the globe but some of Uber's fiercest opposition has come in Europe, where the culture clash between the remorseless competition of the US tech industry and the locals' respect for tradition and deference to established interests is especially stark. In Frankfort, Uber shut its office after just 18 months of operation spurred in part by drivers like Hasan Kurt, the owner of a local licensed taxi business, who had refused to work with the American service. Uber antagonized local taxi operators by prioritizing its low-cost service, and then could not persuade enough licensed drivers to sign up, even after it offered to pay for licenses and help with other regulatory costs that totaled as much as $400 for new drivers. "It's not part of the German culture to do something like" what Uber did says Kurt. "We don't like it, the government doesn't like it, and our customers don't like it."

Uber also pulled out of Hamburg and Düsseldorf after less than two years of operating in each of those German cities. In Amsterdam, Uber recently stopped offering UberPop, in Paris and Madrid, Uber has been confronted by often violent opposition from existing taxi operators, while in London, local regulators are mulling changes that could significantly hamper Uber's ambitions there. Uber's aggressive tactics have turned off potential customers like Andreas Müller who tried the company's Frankfurt service after first using Uber on a business trip in Chicago. Müller said he liked the convenience of paying through his smartphone, but soon turned against the company after reading that it had continued operating in violation of court orders and did not directly employ its drivers, who are independent contractors. "That might work in the U.S., but that's not how things are done here in Germany," says Müller. "Everyone must respect the rules."

New Outlook Bug Doesn't Require Users To Interact With Emails To Be Compromised (softpedia.com) 102

An anonymous reader writes: A new bug in Outlook allows attackers only to send you an email, and without clicking or downloading attachments, a user's computer can be compromised. The bug [PDF] is because Outlook allows Flash objects to be previewed without a sandbox. Flash files are demon spawns and attackers can put exploits in malicious files, which when previewed or viewed inside an Outlook application will automatically execute their payload.
The Courts

"Most Hated Man In America" Martin Shkreli Arrested On Suspicion of Fraud (ibtimes.co.uk) 245

Ewan Palmer writes that everyone's least favorite medication price gouger, Martin Shkreli, has run into some legal problems. According to the article "Pharmaceutical start-up owner Martin Shkreli, dubbed the most hated man in the US over his controversial plans to significantly raise the price of life-saving drugs, has been arrested on suspicion of fraud. Shkreli, 32, who received widespread criticism for hiking up the price of Daraprim from $13 to $750 per pill in September, is being questioned over allegations involving stock from a company he founded in 2011. According to Bloomberg, Shkreli is accused of illegally taking stock from biotechnology Retrophin Inc to pay off debts from unrelated business dealings."

Japan Defends Scientific Value of New Plan To Kill 333 Minke Whales (sciencemag.org) 214

sciencehabit writes with news that Japan plans on killing 333 minke whales this year as part of their whale research program in the Antarctic Ocean. "We did our best to try to meet the criteria established by the ICJ and we have decided to implement our research plan because we are confident we have completed our scientific homework," Joji Morishita, the nation's representative to the International Whaling Commission said. Science reports: "Japan has resumed its controversial lethal research whaling because it wants to determine how many minke whales can be harvested sustainably while studying the environment, Joji Morishita, the nation's representative to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), told a press conference today. 'We'd like to find out how the marine ecosystem of the Antarctic Ocean is actually shifting or changing and not just look at whales but [also at] krill and the oceanographic situation,' Morishita said.

Japan's whaling fleet last week departed for the southern seas for the first time since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered the nation to halt its research whaling in March 2014. The court ruled that Japan's JARPA II program, which sought to take some 850 minke whales, 50 fin whales, and 50 humpback whales, was not for the purposes of scientific research as stipulated in the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. The convention allows countries to kill whales for research."
Data Storage

Western Digital Announces World's First 10TB Helium-Filled Hard Drive (techgage.com) 145

Deathspawner writes: Western Digital today announced a new, helium-filled enterprise HDD that allows for 10TB capacities without using the SMR method, sticking to industry standard PMR. SMR, or Shingled Magnetic Recording drives, can not typically be used natively by the OS or disk controllers, and instead often require extra software and/or firmware updates. This makes their broad adoption limited, since the drives are not drop-in replacements for the far more ubiquitous Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR). WD's latest enterprise drive, sold as the HGST Ultrastar He10, uses the PMR storage method, and as such is a full drop-in replacement for any standard hard drive.
United Kingdom

Mother Blames Wi-Fi Allergy For Daughter's Suicide (telegraph.co.uk) 503

An anonymous reader sends news that a UK woman named Debra Fry has begun a campaign to raise awareness for "electro-hypersensitivity" (EHS) after the suicide of her daughter, Jenny, earlier this year. Fry says her daughter was allergic to Wi-Fi, and blames Jenny's school for not removing wireless routers and other networking equipment. A 2005 report from the World Health Organization said, "EHS has no clear diagnostic criteria and there is no scientific basis to link EHS symptoms to EMF exposure. Further, EHS is not a medical diagnosis, nor is it clear that it represents a single medical problem." School officials were firm in declining to remove the equipment without solid evidence supporting Fry's claims. A public health official said, "The overall scientific evidence does not support the suggestion that such exposure causes acute symptoms or that some people are able to detect radiofrequency fields. Nevertheless effective treatments need to be found for these symptoms."

Why Some People Think Total Nonsense Is Really Deep (washingtonpost.com) 411

Earthquake Retrofit writes: The Washington Post has a story about Gordon Pennycook, a doctorate student at the University of Waterloo who studies why some people are more easily duped than others. "Wholeness quiets infinite phenomena" was one of many randomly generated sentences Pennycook, along with a team of researchers at the University of Waterloo, used in a new, four-part study (PDF) put together to gauge how receptive people are to nonsense.

Those more receptive to bull**** are less reflective, lower in cognitive ability (i.e., verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy), are more prone to ontological confusions [beliefs in things for which there is no empirical evidence (i.e. that prayers have the ability to heal)] and conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine.


After Twenty Years of Flash, Adobe Kills the Name (thestack.com) 125

An anonymous reader writes: From January 2016, Adobe Flash will be renamed to 'Adobe Animate CC', killing one of the most unfortunate names in web security as the company pushes the product further and further to HTML5 output. Adobe's release about the update, which will form part of the annual Creative Cloud upgrade, states that a third of all material output from the program is now HTML5. The transitional HTML5 Adobe animation program Edge Animate will be replaced by the renamed Flash product.

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