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DALER: a Bio-Inspired Robot That Can Both Fly and Walk 14

Posted by timothy
from the sounds-like-the-perfect-babysitting-tool dept.
An anonymous reader writes The issue of how to use one robot across multiple terrains is an ongoing question in robotics research. In a paper published in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics today, a team from LIS, EPFL and NCCR Robotics propose a new kind of flying robot that can also walk. Called the DALER (Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot), the robot uses adaptive morphology inspired by the common vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus, meaning that the wings have been actuated using a foldable skeleton mechanism covered with a soft fabric so that they can be used both as wings and as legs (whegs).

+ - Bitcoin gets its first TV ads

Submitted by MRothenberg
MRothenberg (607591) writes "Bitcoin's not just for libertarians and drug dealers any more! Electronic payment service BitPay this week launched a campaign aimed at making Bitcoin transactions more appealing to mainstream business owners — the first time Bitcoin has been featured in a TV spot. Conceived by Felton Interactive Group, the two new ads promote Bitcoin and BitPay as a secure alternative to traditional credit-card transactions."

+ - US army could waive combat training for hackers

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "New U.S. Army cyber warriors could be spared the rigors of combat training to help the Pentagon attract badly needed recruits from the ponytail wearing Google generation, a top American general has suggested. Lt Gen Brown, commander of the US Army Combined Arms Centre at Fort Leavenworth, said: 'We need to give serious consideration to how the US Army could combine the technical expertise of the "Google" generation with its more traditional military skills. In order to gain an intellectual advantage over adversaries in cyberspace, we will need to tap into a talent pool that may not fit the stereotypical soldier profile. Our goal is to recruit the best talent possible.'""

+ - Mark Shuttleworth Says Open-Source is More Secure Because of Diversity->

Submitted by darthcamaro
darthcamaro (735685) writes "2014 was seen by some as a tough year for open-source, given the Heartbleed and Shellshock vulnerabilities that impacted millions of users and systems. Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu Linux (and former space tourist) has a different view. 2014 was a great year for him, as he marked the 10th anniversary of Ubuntu — and in terms of security he knows exactly why the open-source model is superior.

"The great thing about open source is that it's so dynamic and has so much innovation, that we have much more diversity in our ecosystem than there has ever been in the proprietary ecosystem," Shuttleworth said. "You'll never stop security issues from occurring in either open source or proprietary software but you deal with issues faster in open source."


Link to Original Source

+ - Windows 8.1 Vulnerability Revealed in Google Database After Timeout

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Google's security research database has after a 90 day timeout automatically undisclosed a Windows 8.1 vulnerability which Microsoft hasn't yet patched. By design the system call NtApphelpCacheControl() in ahcache.sys allows application compatibility data to be cached for quick reuse when new processes are created. A normal user can query the cache but cannot add new cached entries as the operation is restricted to administrators. This is checked in the function AhcVerifyAdminContext(). Long story short, the aforementioned function has a vulnerability where it doesn't correctly check the impersonation token of the caller to determine if the user is an administrator. It hasn't been fully verified if Windows 7 is vulnerable. For a passer-by it is also hard to tell whether Microsoft has even reviewed the issue reported by the Google researcher. The database has already one worried comment saying that automatically revealing a vulnerability just like that might be a bad idea."

+ - More Than 100,000 WordPress Sites Has Infected By SoakSoak Virus->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes " On Sunday, mysterious Russia named SoakSoak Virus has infected more than 100,000 WordPress sites, transforming them into attack platforms. Google has already developed the index 11000 sites to avoid further damage. SoakSoak is almost deliberated a prevalent considering the damage that it has done so far."
Link to Original Source

+ - 13 Things We Learned About Programmers In 2014->

Submitted by itwbennett
itwbennett (1594911) writes "It seems these days like anyone and everyone can call themselves a programmer. But true software engineers remain a somewhat mysterious and exotic breed of tech worker. Here's a sampling of things we learned about them in 2014: Programmers from state schools get the best ROI on college, Alan Turing is the most important programmer of all time, and while Clojure programmers are the happiest, Java programmers earn the most."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:I'm so sad... :( (Score 1) 97

by WhiteDragon (#48690827) Attached to: My laptop lasts on battery for ...

None of the batteries in any of my laptops work anymore.... I have zero choices to vote for!

I'm in the same boat. I have two old Dell Inspirons and the battery has failed in both. I just run them off of power, and hibernate/suspend-to-disk when done working (which I have configured to happen automatically when I shut the lid). It's not as nice as having a working battery, but it's useable. I could buy new batteries, but last I checked, the official Dell ones are several hundred dollars, and third-party knockoff ones are almost a hundred. That's not worth it for my 10 year old laptops that I got for free.

Comment: SMB, eh? (Score 1) 177

by KagatoLNX (#48640117) Attached to: Hackers Used Nasty "SMB Worm" Attack Toolkit Against Sony

<troll>Ah, Windows... the gift that keeps on giving.</troll>

Seriously, though... this is pretty ugly. It checks back every five minutes for each machine. You would think that Sony IT would notice that network traffic (or, say, the fact that all of their Windows desktops started listening on port 443). The moral of this story is run an IDS, scan your network, and pay attention to it all! :(

Comment: Re:Why program in Python (Score 1) 277

by KagatoLNX (#48518583) Attached to: Which Programming Language Pays the Best? Probably Python

A few notes:

Python's newer abstract base classes allow you to make types that specify the presence of abstract methods and properties and you can use isinstance(thing, base_class) to achieve something similar (and thereby making handling types more familiar to foreigners)

With respect to Java and call stacks; Java has no easy way to dispatch to a function by name. You either need to make a class hierarchy so that you can use virtual call dispatch; or you need an if-tree (which is ugly but underappreciated). I've seen a few Java brains melt when I give them something like:

        cast_spell[spell_type](spell_data, casting_context)

Of course, I could just make a base class for spells and grow a giant, sparse API; but the benefit of playing the default-implementation / function overriding game is suboptimal. At the end of the day, the class hierarchy is just a data structure to determine how different "types" of functions get dispatched. As it happens, it spreads things out in a way that makes them hard to visualize. It often forces me to shadow unrelated sections of other APIs that grow on the same base-class.

In short, it's a crappy data structure for the purpose and it makes a pain out of gathering the knowledge to know how that dispatch happens. Sure, the code is "type-correct", but that doesn't say very much about being logically correct. As it happens, type errors are easy errors--but figuring out how the class hierarchy isn't serving your logical needs is *not* an easy error.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not fundamentally opposed to a good type system. First-class functions in Haskell or the like could handle this with type-safety. However, our industry just isn't ready for all of the pipes, beards, and sweaters. So, given the choice between Python and Java, I pick the one that give me methods for dynamic dispatch that don't abuse an already incredibly limited inheritance mechanism. I'll take the language that allows extensible, generic function application instead of getting it as a side-effect of their implementation of an already stunted type-system.

Comment: It's because humans suck at judging risk. (Score 1) 523

by Robotech_Master (#48423313) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

Gregory Benford had a great column about this, all the way back in 2000. It also involved a nuclear powered satellite.

It's human nature to react more extremely to new things, especially if they seem "unnatural." This might have been a survival instinct in bygone days, when the hominid who noticed that bush was out of place could take another path and avoid getting eaten by the sabertooth tiger behind it. But like so many such instincts, it translates poorly into the technological era.

Lend money to a bad debtor and he will hate you.