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Mars

Opportunity Rover Reaches Martian Day 4,000 of Its 90-Day Mission

Posted by Soulskill
from the awesome-engineers-doing-awesome-work dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Let's take a moment to appreciate the incredible engineering, scientific, and planning skill that went into the construction and deployment of the Opportunity rover. It landed on Mars with the goal of surviving 90 sols (Martian days), and it has just logged its 4,000th sol of harvesting valuable data and sending it back to us. The Planetary Society blog has posted a detailed update on Opportunity's status, and its team's plans for the future. The rover's hardware, though incredibly resilient, is wearing down. They reformatted its flash drive to block off a corrupted sector, and that solved some software problems that had cropped up. They're currently trying to figure out why the rover unexpectedly rebooted itself. Those events are incredibly dangerous to the rover's survival, so their highest priority right now is diagnosing that issue.

Fortunately, weather on Mars is good where the rover is, and it's still able to harvest upwards of 500 Watt-hours of energy from its solar panels. Opportunity recently completed a marathon on Mars and took an impressive picture of the Spirit of St. Louis crater, and the rover will soon be on its way to enormous clay deposits that could provide valuable information about where we can look for water when we eventually put people on Mars. As always, you can look through Opportunity's images at the official website.
Portables

Ask Slashdot: Most Chromebook-Like Unofficial ChromeOS Experience? 26

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-company-to-pay-for-it-wink-wink dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I am interested in Chromebooks, for the reasons that Google successfully pushes them: my carry-around laptops serve mostly as terminals, rather than CPU-heavy workhorses, and for the most part the whole reason I'm on my computer is to do something that requires a network connection anyhow. My email is Gmail, and without particularly endorsing any one element, I've moved a lot of things to online services like DropBox. (Some offline capabilities are nice, but since actual Chromebooks have been slowly gaining offline stuff, and theoretically will gain a lot more of that, soon, I no longer worry much about a machine being "useless" if the upstream connection happens to be broken or absent. It would just be useless in the same way my conventional desktop machine would be.) I have some decent but not high-end laptops (Core i3, 2GB-4GB of RAM) that I'd enjoy repurposing as Chromebooks without pedigree: they'd fall somewhat short of the high-end Pixel, but at no out-of-pocket expense for me unless I spring for some cheap SSDs, which I might.

So: how would you go about making a Chromebook-like laptop? Yes, I could just install any Linux distro, and then restrain myself from installing most apps other than a browser and a few utilities, but that's not quite the same; ChromeOS is nicely polished, and very pared down; it also seems to do well with low-memory systems (lots of the current models have just 2GB, which brings many Linux distros to a disk-swapping crawl), and starts up nicely quick.

It looks like the most "authentic" thing would be to dive into building Chromium OS (which looks like a fun hobby), but I'd like to find something more like Cr OS — only Cr OS hasn't been updated in quite a while. Perhaps some other browser-centric pared-down Linux would work as well. How would you build a system? And should I go ahead and order some low-end 16GB SSDs, which I now see from online vendors for less than $25?

+ - Report: Microsoft Considering Salesforce Acquisition->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that Microsoft is considering making a bid for CRM and cloud software company Salesforce, after hearing that Salesforce was entertaining an offer from another company. No talks are underway, but Salesforce has started working with investment banks to figure out how it wants to respond to such offers. Salesforce has a market value of about $50 billion, so any sort of acquisition would be a huge business deal.
Link to Original Source

+ - Google Can't Ignore The Android Update Problem Any Longer->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: An editorial at Tom's Hardware makes the case that Google's Android fragmentation problem has gotten too big to ignore any longer. Android 5.0 Lollipop and its successor 5.1 have seen very low adoption rates — 9.0% and 0.7% respectively. Almost 40% of users are still on KitKat. 6% lag far behind on Gingerbread and Froyo. The article points out that even Microsoft is now making efforts to both streamline Windows upgrades and adapt Android (and iOS) apps to run on Windows. If Google doesn't adapt, "it risks having users (slowly but surely) switch to more secure platforms that do give them updates in a timely manner. And if users want those platforms, OEMs will have no choice but to switch to them too, leaving Google with less and less Android adoption." The author also says OEMs and carriers can no longer be trusted to handle operating system updates, because they've proven themselves quite incapable of doing so in a reasonable manner.
Link to Original Source
Twitter

Twitter Stops Users From Playing DOS Games Inside Tweets 25

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-fun-allowed dept.
jones_supa writes: Twitter has killed off an interesting trend of playing DOS games in tweets. Last week, users discovered they could use the new "Twitter Cards" embedding feature to bundle full DOS games within tweets. Running DOSBox inside the web browser is possible thanks to an Emscripten port of DOSBox called Em-DOSBox. The games were pulled from Internet Archive's collection of 2,600 classic titles, many of which still lack proper republishing agreements with the copyright holder. So, is embedding games within Twitter Cards, against the social network's terms of service? Either way, Twitter has now blocked such activity, likely after seeing the various news reports and a stream of Street Fighter II, Wolfenstein 3D and Zool cheering up people's timelines.

+ - Opportunity Rover Reaches Martian Day 4,000 of Its 90-Day Mission->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Let's take a moment to appreciate the incredible engineering, scientific, and planning skill that went into the construction and deployment of the Opportunity rover. It landed on Mars with the goal of surviving 90 sols (Martian days), and it has just logged its 4,000th sol of harvesting valuable data and sending it back to us. The Planetary Society blog has posted a detailed update on Opportunity's status, and its team's plans for the future. The rover's hardware, though incredibly resilient, is wearing down. They reformatted its flash drive to block off a corrupted sector, and that solved some software problems that had cropped up. They're currently trying to figure out why the rover unexpectedly rebooted itself. Those events are incredibly dangerous to the rover's survival, so their highest priority right now is diagnosing that issue. Fortunately, weather on Mars is good where the rover is, and it's still able to harvest upwards of 500 Watt-hours of energy from its solar panels. Opportunity recently took an impressive picture of the Spirit of St. Louis crater, and the rover will soon be on its way to enormous clay deposits that could provide valuable information about where we can look for water when we eventually put people on Mars. As always, you can look through Opportunity's images at the official website.
Link to Original Source

+ - French parliament approves new surveillance rules->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: The French parliament has approved a controversial law strengthening the intelligence services, with the aim of preventing Islamist attacks.
The law on intelligence-gathering, adopted by 438 votes to 86, was drafted after three days of attacks in Paris in January, in which 17 people died.
The Socialist government says the law is needed to take account of changes in communications technology.
But critics say it is a dangerous extension of mass surveillance.
They argue that it gives too much power to the state and threatens the independence of the digital economy.

Main provisions of the new law:

Define the purposes for which secret intelligence-gathering may be used

Set up a supervisory body, the National Commission for Control of Intelligence Techniques (CNCTR), with wider rules of operation

Authorise new methods, such as the bulk collection of metadata via internet providers

Link to Original Source
Microsoft

Microsoft: No More 'Patch Tuesday' For Windows 10 Home Users 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-more-patchy-coverage dept.
citpyrc writes: According to the Register, Microsoft is making some changes to how it rolls out updates in Windows 10. Home users will receive updates as they come out, rather than queueing them all up on "patch Tuesday." Business users will have the option to set their own update cycle, so they can see if any of the patches accidentally break anything for home users before trying them out. There will also be an optional peer-to-peer updating mechanism for Windows 10. Microsoft announced a service called Advanced Threat Analytics, which employs various machine learning techniques to identify malware on a network. As a premium service, top-dollar customers can pay for Microsoft to monitor black-hat forums and alert the company if any of its employees' identities are stolen.

+ - Coinbase Accused Of Spying On A Dark Net Security Researcher

Submitted by blottsie
blottsie writes: Bitcoin was supposed to be a currency beyond the control of financial institutions and, through strong cryptography, allow individuals to spend their money without being spied on. That utopian dream may be over.

Coinbase, one of the largest bitcoin wallet hosts, stands accused of monitoring donations to security researcher Gwern Branwen.

+ - GOG Announces Open Beta For New Game Platform->

Submitted by Donaithnen
Donaithnen writes: Like many geeks I'm against the idea of DRM in general and have championed GOG.com's DRM-free approach to selling games online. Yet like many geeks I've also often succumbed to the temptation of Steam because of the convenience of tracking, installing, and playing my PC game purchases through the launcher, the compulsion of collecting achievements, and the OCD-ness of (and occasional dismay from) tracking the total playtime for my favorite games. Now GOG has announced the open beta for GOG Galaxy, an entirely optional launcher to allow those who want (and only those who want) to have all the same features when playing GOG games.
Link to Original Source
Space

Extreme Exoplanet Volcanism Possibly Detected On 55 Cancri E 27

Posted by Soulskill
from the fun-place-to-visit-but-i-wouldn't-want-to-live-there dept.
astroengine writes: Using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have revealed wild atmospheric changes on a well studied exoplanet — changes that they suspect are driven by extreme volcanic activity. Over a period of two years, the team, led by University of Cambridge researchers, noted a three-fold change in temperature on the surface of 55 Cancri e. The super-Earth planet orbits a sun-like star 40 light-years away in the constellation of Cancer. It is twice the size of Earth and 8-times our planet's mass. 55 Cancri e is well-known to exoplanet hunters as the "diamond planet" — a world thought to be carbon-rich, possibly covered in hydrocarbons. But this new finding, published in the arXiv pre-print service, has added a new dimension to the planet's weird nature. "This is the first time we've seen such drastic changes in light emitted from an exoplanet, which is particularly remarkable for a super-Earth," said co-author Nikku Madhusudhan, of Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy, in a press release. "No signature of thermal emissions or surface activity has ever been detected for any other super-Earth to date."

+ - Most Chromebook-Like Unofficial ChromeOS experience?

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: I am interested in Chromebooks, for the reasons that Google successfully pushes them: my carry-around laptops serve mostly as terminals, rather than CPU-heavy workhorses, and for the most part the whole reason I'm on my computer is to do something that requires a network connection anyhow. My email is Gmail, and without particularly endorsing any one element, I've moved a lot of things to online services like DropBox. (Some offline capabilities are nice, but since actual Chromebooks have been slowly gaining offline stuff, and theoretically will gain a lot more of that, soon, I no longer worry much about a machine being "useless" if the upstream connection happens to be broken or absent. It would just be useless in the same way my conventional desktop machine would be,) I have some decent but not high-end laptops (Core i3, 2GB-4GB of RAM) that I'd enjoy repurposing as Chromebooks without pedigree: they'd fall somewhat short of the high-end Pixel, but at no out-of-pocket expense for me unless I spring for some cheap SSDs, which I might.

So: how would you go about making a Chromebook-like laptop? Yes, I could just install any Linux distro, and then restrain myself from installing most apps other than a browser and a few utilities, but that's not quite the same; ChromeOS is nicely polished, and very pared down; it also seems to do well with low-memory systems (lots of the current models have just 2GB, which brings many Linux distros to a disk-swapping crawl), and starts up nicely quick.

It looks like the most "authentic" thing would be to dive into building Chromium OS (which looks like a fun hobby), but I'd like to find something more like Cr OS — only Cr OS hasn't been updated in quite a while. Perhaps some other browser-centric pared-down Linux would work as well. How would you build a system? And should I go ahead and order some low-end 16GB SSDs, which I now see from online vendors for less than $25?

+ - Bitcoin's Predecessors, Online Game Currencies, and What We Can Learn From Them

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Thomas Kim has an interesting paper at PLOS one that analyzes virtual currencies in online games that have been voluntarily managed by individuals since 1990s to study whether the recent price patterns and transaction costs of Bitcoin represent a general characteristic of decentralized virtual currencies. Kim's conclusions:

We find that more mature game currencies have a price volatility of one-third of that of Bitcoin, at a level similar to that of small size equities or gold. The decentralized structure of Bitcoin does not seem to be the cause of the recent price instability, as game currencies are also managed by non-government entities. We observe a similar price instability from the game currencies that are launched around the time when Bitcoin gained much of its current public attention (around the year 2011). The contrast between mature and newly introduced virtual currencies indicates that the Bitcoin price may stabilize over time.

The transaction costs of virtual currencies are sometimes lower than that of real currencies. With more competition among virtual currency exchanges, the transaction costs may drop further making virtual currencies a lower cost alternative to real currency transactions. Economists agree that a properly functioning currency should include a method of transaction, a unit of account, and store value (Yermack [3]). Bitcoin may meet the criteria if it can combine its low transaction costs with more stable prices.

However, there are a few caveats for our projection. Bitcoin is the first virtual currency that is attempting to substitute the role of real currencies. Until this point, other virtual currencies, like game currencies, remain as auxiliary currencies that aid in transactions that real currencies cannot easily do, such as transactions within an online game. Game currencies currently have considerable trading volume, but their role is tied to the gaming industry. It is difficult to estimate how widespread Bitcoin will be. Also, our analysis does not justify that virtual currencies should have greater value. A large volume of Bitcoin trading in these days is speculative trading, betting on the possible appreciation of Bitcoin prices. Speculative trades are necessary to discover the reasonable exchange rates of Bitcoin, but it is unknown when the market will reach the equilibrium. As we demonstrate from the comparison of exchanges with varying degrees of competition, various regulations imposed on Bitcoin exchanges may be a dragging factor in the price discovery process.

+ - Researcher: drug Infusion Pump is the 'least secure IP device' he's ever seen->

Submitted by chicksdaddy
chicksdaddy writes: This is a bad month for the medical equipment maker Hospira. First, security researcher Billy Rios finds a raft of serious and remotely exploitable holes in the company's MedNet software, prompting a vulnerability alert from ICS CERT. Now, one month later, ICS CERT is again warning of a "10 out of 10" critical vulnerability, this time in Hospira's LifeCare PCA drug infusion pump.(https://web.nvd.nist.gov/view/vuln/detail?vulnId=CVE-2015-3459)

The problem? According to this report by Security Ledger (https://securityledger.com/2015/05/researcher-drug-pump-the-least-secure-ip-device-ive-ever-seen/) the main problem was an almost total lack of security controls on the device. According to independent researcher Jeremy Williams, the PCA pump listens on Telnet port 23. Connecting to the device via Telnet, he was brought immediately to a root shell account that gave him total, administrator level access to the pump without authentication. “The only thing I needed to get in was an interest in the pump,” he said.

Richards found other examples of loose security on the PCA 3: a FTP server that could be accessed without authentication and an embedded web server that runs Common Gateway Interface (CGI). That could allow an attacker to tamper with the pump’s operation using fairly simple scripts.

Also: The PCA pump stores wireless keys used to connect to the local (medical device) wireless network in plain text on the device. That means anyone with physical access to the Pump (which has an ethernet port) could gain access to the local medical device network and other devices on it.
The problems prompted Richards to call the PCA 3 pump “the least secure IP enabled device” he has ever worked with. (http://hextechsecurity.com/?p=123)

Hospira did not responded to requests for comment prior to publication.

Link to Original Source
Security

USBKill Transforms a Thumb Drive Into an "Anti-Forensic" Device 196

Posted by timothy
from the content-scrambling-system dept.
Orome1 writes with a snippet from a report at net-security.org; a hacker going by Hephaestos has shared with the world a Python script that, when put on an USB thumb drive, turns the device in an effective kill switch for the computer to which it's plugged in. USBkill, as the programmer dubbed it, "waits for a change on your USB ports, then immediately kills your computer." The device would be useful "in case the police comes busting in, or steals your laptop from you when you are at a public library," Hephaestos explained.

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