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+ - R2-D2 Will Feature in Star Wars Episode VII->

Submitted by DevotedDomains
DevotedDomains writes: The Wrap has officially confirmed that R2-D2 will feature in Star Wars Episode VII! This is the first bit of confirmed news for the highly anticipated 7th installment in the Star Wars saga in quite some time.

A deal has been closed to ensure that R2-D2 will continue his run of appearing in every single movie in the Star Wars saga.

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+ - The flying toaster screen saver... takes off

Submitted by PuceBaboon
PuceBaboon writes: Remember that flying-toaster screen saver from way back when? Well, those peculiar people over at have added to their repertoire of non/minimally aerodynamic flying objects with the successful test flight of the real thing. Of course, it wouldn't be any sort of project at all if the toaster didn't actually toast bread, but just how do you power a 700W/110v toaster, mid-flight? Check out the video to see the solution (as well as their fixes for the non-functional elevons and other problems they faced along the way).

+ - Urinal Dynamics: a tactical guide and summary.->

Submitted by antdude
antdude writes: Boing Boing shared an over one minute YouTube video showing "Urinal Dynamics: a tactical summary — We illustrate the importance of good technique when using a urinal and offer some advice. Through high-speed video footage of a simulated male urine stream we show that reduced splash can be achieved by aiming at a vertical surface, moving closer to the urinal and by decreasing the impact angle."

Splash Lab has more videos and text details.

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+ - Bitcoin protocol vulnerability could lead to a collapse

Submitted by stanga
stanga writes: Cornell researchers unveiled an attack on the Bitcoin mining protocol that enables selfish mining pools to earn more than their fair share. In a technical report the authors explain this attack can be performed by a pool of any size. Rational miners will join this pool to increase their benefits, creating a snowball effect that may end up with a pool commanding a majority of the system's mining power. Such a pool would be able to single-handedly control the blockchain, violating the decentralized nature of the increasingly successful Bitcoin.

The authors propose a patch to the protocol that would protect the system from selfish mining pools smaller than 25% of the system. They also show that Bitcoin can never be safe from selfish mining pools larger than 33% of the network, whereas it was previously believed that only groups larger than 50% of the network were a threat to the system.

The question is — can the miners operating today adopt the suggested fix and dismantle too-large pools before a selfish mining pool arises?

+ - One in five stars has an Earth-sized planet in its habitable zone->

Submitted by cunniff
cunniff writes: Remarkable statistics from the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii — 22% (+/- 8%) of stars have an Earth-sized planet in its habitable zone. From the press release, UC Berkley graduate student Erik Petigura says, "What this means is, when you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star with an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone is probably only 12 light years away and can be seen with the naked eye. That is amazing,"

This, of course, raises the Fermi paradox again — if alien life is common, why haven't we seen it yet? This study will be used to spark further investigation, including proposals for space telescopes which might be able to image nearby Earth-sized planets.

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+ - Microsoft to Broaden its Base of Bug Bounty Submitters->

Submitted by Gunkerty Jeb
Gunkerty Jeb writes: Having found some initial success with its first foray into the bug bounty world, Microsoft is expanding the program to open up payments of up to $100,000 to incident response teams and forensics experts who come across active attacks in the wild that include new techniques that bypass exploit mitigations in place on the newest version of Windows.
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+ - Withhold Passwords From Your Employer, Go to Jail?->

Submitted by ericgoldman
ericgoldman writes: Terry Childs was a network engineer in San Francisco, and he was the only employee with passwords to the network. After he was fired, he withheld the passwords from his former employer, preventing his employer from controlling its own network. Recently, a California appeals court upheld his conviction for violating California's computer crime law, including a 4 year jail sentence and $1.5 million of restitution. The ruling provides a good cautionary tale for anyone who thinks they can gain leverage over their employer or increase job security by controlling key passwords.
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+ - How a Market-driven Society is Unable to Fix the Climate-> 3

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: This is an excellent, thoughtful piece by Ted Trainer on how the very core to a market-oriented, consumer society is unable to tackle the problem of climate change. The numbers here are pretty staggering. Here's an excerpt: 'These kinds of figures show that major global problems cannot be solved unless the wealthiest countries face up to enormous reductions in per-capita resource use. However, these countries are obsessed with raising levels of production and consumption as fast as possible, and without any upper limit. The supreme, never-questioned goal is continuous economic growth. But for the world’s population to achieve Australian living standards by 2050, given an annual economic growth rate of 3 percent, total world production and consumption would have to be more than 30 times as great in 2050 as they are now.'
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+ - Airlines Taunted by Amazon and Alec Baldwin

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon once loaded an airplane with Kindles — all of them turned on — to prove the devices posed no threat to an airplane's communication system during take-offs and landings, according to the Washington Post, which also notes an Amazon employee ultimately chaired the FAA technical committee investigating the issue. "We've been fighting for our customers on this issue for years," one Amazon executive announced in a press release, " adding that to celebrate the FAA's new change in policy, they're offering a 15% discount today on most Kindles. The Post notes that "it's still eyebrow-raising that a company with the most commercial interest in the outcome of a panel's report would directly oversee the scientific content of that report." But the biggest winner is probably Alec Baldwin, who two years ago appeared on Saturday Night Live as a pilot who argued that the policy was "just a cruel joke perpetrated by the airline industry... and we would’ve gotten away with it, but Alec Baldwin was just too smart for us.!

+ - Silicon Valley could be heading for a new stock collapse.->

Submitted by billcarson
billcarson writes: Even though for most of us the recession is far from over, analysts are worried the technology sector might be heading for its next bubble. Technology stocks are at records highs at the moment. Companies that have no sound business plan have no difficulty in raising capital to fund their crazy dreams. Even Yahoo is again buying companies without real profit (Tumblr). Andreessen Horowitz, a major venture capitalist in Silicon Valley is already pulling up the ladder. Might this be an indicator for more woe to come?
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+ - An intro to hardware-assisted virtualisation features on modern CPUs->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Ever wondered how VT-x, VT-d, SR-IOV and other hardware virtualisation features work on modern CPUs? Anchor's sysadmins did, so they went and found out, then wrote it up.

It assumes a reasonable level of understanding at the OS-to-hardware level, but it otherwise understandable and clear enough to follow and get the benefits.

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"The Amiga is the only personal computer where you can run a multitasking operating system and get realtime performance, out of the box." -- Peter da Silva