SternisheFan writes "The Christian Science Monitor: Pete Spotts reports:
New observations of a bridge of tenuous hydrogen gas stretching between two nearby galaxies may help solve a longstanding puzzle: Billions of years after star formation peaked in the universe, what continues to fuel the formation of new stars in spiral galaxies like the Milky Way.
Newly published radiotelescope observations of this segment of what researchers have dubbed the “cosmic web” reveal that about half of the neutral hydrogen gas in the bridge is contained in rotating clumps the size of dwarf galaxies. Neutral hydrogen – atoms with one proton and one electron – represents the raw material for new stars.
“If this gas is being accreted by the galaxies, then we need to understand how they're doing that. That information could, in principle, help us understand how galaxies like Andromeda, like our own Milky Way, can acquire gas to form new stars,” says Spencer Wolfe, a PhD candidate in astronomy at West Virginia University and the lead scientist on the project.
Over the past decade, astronomers have come to appreciate the potential of gas between galaxies to provide fresh fuel for making stars in spiral galaxies.
Star formation in the universe appears to have peaked some 10 billion to 11 billion years ago. Stellar birthrates these days are less than 10 percent of what they were then, notes Robert Braun, an astronomer at the Australia Telescope National Facility in Epping, New South Wales.
Left to their own devices, galaxies have on average about 1 billion to 2 billion years worth of gas in the cosmic tank, a condition that has existed throughout most of the universe's history, Dr. Braun writes in an e-mail. Many of them, therefore, should have stopped forming stars billions of years ago. Moreover, the total mass of stars in the universe today is about five times higher than the amount of neutral hydrogen available 12 billion years ago, suggesting that the universe's larger inventory of ionized hydrogen kept star formation going in some way.
Researchers have identified other mechanisms for the galactic equivalent of in-flight refueling. For instance, gas gets recycled for a time through successive generations of stars. Collisions, mergers, and even near-misses between galaxies can trigger bursts of star formation. But filaments of ionized hydrogen appear to be the only features persistent enough to keep galaxies stocked with stars over billions of years of cosmic history. Somehow, within those filaments, enough of the ionized gas condenses into the neutral form to serve as new stellar nurseries.
The filament or bridge Mr. Wolfe and his team studied appears between the Milky Way's nearest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, and the Triangulum Galaxy. Andromeda is some 2.5 million light-years from Earth, while the Triangulum is roughly 3 million light-years away.
The presence of neutral hydrogen in the bridge was first reported in 2004 and confirmed in follow-up observations published last year. But it's fiendishly difficult to detect. One way neutral hydrogen betrays its presence is via radio waves, with a tell-tale signal at about the same frequency that a typical cell-phone uses. But the clumps are so wispy that their radio emissions were too faint for detailed studies with the radio telescopes used in the early work."Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "PCMag's David Poeter reports:
Two highly anticipated gaming hardware products have emerged in recent months and like the Oculus Rift before it, the Android-powered Ouya game console has passed iFixit's repairability test with flying colors.
The teardown site recently got its hands on one of the retail-ready consoles Ouya plans to release on June 4, giving the system a 9 out of 10 on its repairability scale. That's the same score afforded to Oculus VR's virtual reality headset last month—the major difference being that the Oculus Rift examined by iFixit was a prototype, not the final version.
"The small cube (and its controller) came apart with little difficulty. Those with long-haired pets will appreciate that it takes about five minutes to pop open and clean out the heatsink and fan," iFixit said of the Ouya it tore down.
Inside the console, iFixit wasn't expecting to find "ten-core processors and eight bajillion gigs of RAM." Instead, the Ouya sports an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage with expansion options—described by the teardown site as "price-appropriate tech specs" given the system's low, low $99 price tag.
The Ouya supports both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. Ports on the back side of the console include Micro-USB, Ethernet, HDMI, USB 2.0, and a plug for the power cord. The package sent to iFixit also included one Bluetooth-enabled game controller, which the site also took apart.
Interestingly, one side of the Ouya has an engraved list of people who invested $10,000 or more to the Kickstarter-funded project. That homage is called "The Angel List" and it will be included in the first production run of Ouya consoles, iFixit said.
The site described the layout of components inside the Ouya as "very clean and simple" with the "motherboard, I/O ports, and fan ... tucked into the console as a single assembly." The system actually has five metal weights inside weighing nearly two ounces to serve as a counterweight to the weight of the cables poking out of its back, adding crucial stability to the console, according to iFixit.
The teardown site was also happy to find that the Ouya's "standard, off-the-shelf" fan is easily removable, meaning it's easy to replace as well.
Pulling out the motherboard assembly was as easy as simply pulling it out of the opened-up console, a process that "requires about 10 seconds and two fingers, meaning Mickey Mouse could do it with six fingers to spare," iFixit noted.
So what makes the Ouya tick? Here are the main integrated circuits iFixit found on the front and back of the motherboard:
Two Samsung K4B4G1646B 4 Gigabit DD3 SDRAM modules (for 1 GB total)
SMSC LAN9500A Hi-Speed USB 2.0 to 10/100 Ethernet Controller
Texas Instruments TPS659110 Integrated Power Management Unit
AzureWave AW-NH660 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth 4.0 module, based on Broadcom BCM4330
Nvidia T33-P-A3 Tegra 3 Multi-Core CPU
Kingston KE4CN3K6A 8 GB eMMC (eMMC integrates a NAND flash memory and a controller chip in a single package)
The Ouya's controller features 15 buttons, two analog sticks, and a capacitive touchpad, according to iFixit. It's also relatively easy to disassemble and is controlled by a single chipset, a "Broadcom BCM20730 Bluetooth 3.0 transceiver [which] features an integrated ARM Cortex M3 processor capable of reading all of the button and joystick inputs and sending them off into the ether (or really, back to the Ouya console)," the site reported.
iFixit's teardown of the Ouya: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Ouya+Teardown/14224/1"Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "Ars reports:
Attacks exploiting a previously unknown and currently unpatched vulnerability in Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser have spread to at least nine other websites, including those run by a big European company operating in the aerospace, defense, and security industries as well as non-profit groups and institutes, security researchers said.
The revelation, from a blog post published Sunday by security firm AlienVault, means an attack campaign that surreptitiously installed malware on the computers of federal government workers involved in nuclear weapons research was broader and more ambitious than previously thought. Earlier reports identified only a website belonging to the US Department of Labor as redirecting to servers that exploited the zero-day remote-code vulnerability in IE version 8.
A separate blog post from security firm CrowdStrike said its researchers unearthed evidence suggesting that the campaign began in mid-March. Their analysis of logs from the malicious infrastructure used in the attacks revealed the IP addresses of visitors to the compromised sites. The logs showed addresses from 37 different countries, with 71 percent of them in the US, 11 percent in South/Southeast Asia, and 10 percent in Europe. CrowdStrike's data showed IP addresses before exploit code was run against the visitors' machines. Not all those visitors were likely compromised since the exploit code worked only against people using IE8.
CrowdStrike researchers seemed to concur with their counterparts from Invincea, who—as Ars reported on Friday—said the attacks at least in part targeted people working on sensitive government programs. Malicious links embedded in the Department of Labor website focused on webpages that dealt with illnesses suffered by employees and contractors developing atomic weapons for the Department of Energy. But they went on to say the campaign could be much broader.
"The specific Department of Labor website that was compromised provides information on a compensation program for energy workers who were exposed to uranium," CrowdStrike said. "Likely targets of interest for this site include energy-related US government entities, energy companies, and possibly companies in the extractive sector. Based on the other compromised sites other targeted entities are likely to include those interested in labor, international health and political issues, as well as entities in the defense sector."
Such "watering hole" attacks—which plant malware exploits on websites that are frequented by specific groups or people—have become a common technique in targeted attacks. Once compromised by the IE zero-day, computers are infected with a version of Poison Ivy, a backdoor tool that has been widely used in past espionage campaigns. The command-and-control servers used to communicate with infected machines show signs that they were set up by a Chinese hacking crew known as DeepPanda.
Microsoft confirmed the remote code-execution vulnerability on Friday night. Versions 6, 7, 9, and 10 of the browser are immune to these attacks, so anyone who can upgrade to one of the latest two versions should do so immediately or switch to a different browser. For anyone who absolutely can not move away from IE 8, company researchers recommend the following precautions:
Set Internet and local intranet security zone settings to "High" to block ActiveX
Controls and Active Scripting in these zones
This will help prevent exploitation but may affect usability; therefore, trusted sites should be added to the Internet Explorer Trusted Sites zone to minimize disruption.
Configure Internet Explorer to prompt before running Active Scripting or to disable Active Scripting in the Internet and local intranet security zones
This will help prevent exploitation but can affect usability, so trusted sites should be added to the Internet Explorer Trusted Sites zone to minimize disruption.
Users can also install EMET—short for Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit—which adds a variety of exploit mitigations and security defenses and is especially useful for users of older versions of Windows, such as XP.
Technical details about the "use after free" bug are available here from Rapid7. The security firm has already folded attack code exploiting the vulnerability into the Metasploit framework used by security professionals and hackers. Researchers at FireEye have also delved into the exploit circulating online. They found it uses "return oriented programming," a technique used to defeat data-execution prevention and other exploit mitigations. The FireEye researchers said they also verified the exploit works against IE8 on Windows 7.
Microsoft's advisory on Friday said researchers were still investigating the vulnerability. When the inquiry concludes, they will decide whether to release an unscheduled update or provide a fix as part of the company's regular patching cycle.
Story updated to add details from FireEye in second-to-last paragraph"Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "ArsTechnica Aurich Lawson reports:
Lawyers who lied and obfuscated for years face disbarment and a $82,000 fine.
US District Judge Otis Wright has no love for the lawyers who set up the copyright-trolling operation that came to be known as Prenda Law. But Wright at least acknowledges their smarts in his long-awaited order, released today. Wright's order is a scathing 11-page document, suggesting Prenda masterminds John Steele and Paul Hansmeier should be handed over for criminal investigation. In the first page though, there's almost some admiration expressed for the sheer dark intelligence of their scheme. The copyright-trolling scheme that has reached its apex with Prenda is so complete, so mathematical.
"Plaintiffs have outmaneuvered the legal system," Wright begins. He goes on:
"They've discovered the nexus of antiquated copyright laws, paralyzing paralyzing social stigma, and unaffordable defense costs. And they exploit this anomaly by accusing individuals of illegally downloading a single pornographic video. Then they offer to settle—for a sum calculated to be just below the cost of a bare-bones defense. For these individuals, resistance is futile; most reluctantly pay rather than have their names associated with illegally downloading porn. So now, copyright laws originally designed to compensate starving artists allow, starving attorneys in this electronic-media era to plunder the citizenry."
And yes, if reading "resistance is futile" rattles something in your brain—Wright's order is thoroughly peppered with Star Trek references.
The plaintiffs have a right to assert their intellectual property rights, "so long as they do it right," Wright acknowledges. That's not what happened here, though. Prenda lawyers used "the same boilerplate complaints against dozens of defendants," without telling the judge. Instead, defense lawyers like Morgan Pietz flagged the dozens of related cases. "It was when the Court realized Plaintiffs engaged their cloak of shell companies and fraud that the court went to battlestations," stated Wright."Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "Paul Frederic of ReadWrite.com blogs:
Last September, when Apple debuted its new Lightning connector to replace the company's venerable 30-pin connector, I predicted that the move might cause surprising problems. My post attracted a lot of attention and garnered a whopping 135 comments. Many of those commenters agreed that Apple's move — while perhaps necessary, would have significant complications for the company. But many others said I was crazy to doubt Apple in any way, shape or form.
(See also iPhone 5's New Lightning Connector Is A Bigger Problem Than Apple Thinks.)
Well, according to an article by Nick Wingfield and Brian X. Chen in Sunday's New York Times, the move has indeed given Apple's rivals an edge in the push toward wireless accessories (Accessories No Longer Tethered To Apple).
In my original post, I warned that the peripheral market's commitment to the iPhone's 30-pin connector was a big competitive advantage for Apple, because being the one device that could attach directly to external speakers, clocks, stands and chargers added an extra helping of utility for its devices. I said that the new Lightning connector threatened to eliminate that advantage, and that could hurt Apple:
"The availability of all those peripherals, in turn, has helped make the iPhone even more popular. iPhone buyers know that no other phone comes close to enjoying the choices and support that the iPhone has — in cars, in hotel rooms, at airports and everywhere else. By carrying an iPhone instead of a competing phone, they have a much better chance of being able to buy and use supporting infrastructure — which can make a big difference in the overall experience. The iPhone 5’s new Lightning connector threatens all that, and not just for iPhone 5 users."
Sunday's Times' article seems to confirm that prediction:
"Apple’s iron grip on the digital accessories in hotel rooms, store shelves and living rooms is starting to slip — potentially risking the royalties it earns from accessory makers and, more significant, giving Apple customers more freedom to switch to rival products."
"Jeremy Horwitz, editor in chief of iLounge, a Web site devoted to Apple accessories, said Apple’s aggressive control over accessories for its products drove many makers to more open means of connecting devices, which helped feed the success of mobile devices made by other companies."
"Fewer people who buy sound systems that work only with Apple devices, in theory, could mean fewer obstacles for those interested in switching to competing phones and tablets in the future."
To be fair, though, there has been an industry-wide movement toward wireless connections to peripherals, and Apple devices are fully capable of supporting this trend. It's just that the wireless world is pretty much a level playing field, while Apple used to utterly dominate hard-wired connections. You can't blame all of that on the Lightning connector, but as the Times pointed out:
"'Even before Apple shifted from the 30-pin connector to Lightning, the market had started shifting,' said Rory Dooley, senior vice president for music at Logitech. 'Lightning came in and accelerated some of the change.'"
As for me, I couldn't get my speaker docks to work with my iPhone 5, so I ended up using a "spare" Apple TV device to let me control the speakers using Airplay. Works for me, but probably not a cost-effective solution for most people."Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "Microsoft IE 8 Hit by Zero Day Flaw
New zero day flaw in IE8 is identified as being the root cause of attack against the U.S. government.
By Sean Michael Kerner | May 06, 2013
Microsoft's security teams are scrambling in the light of a new zero day attack against its Internet Explorer Web browser that has already hit the U.S. Department of Labor.
Microsoft issued an advisory late Friday, warning of a critical flaw in IE 8 that could lead to a remote code execution attack. The flaw only impacts IE 8, according to Microsoft and does not affect IE 6, 7, 9 or 10.
"In the latest watering hole attack against Department of Labor (DoL), our research indicates a new IE zero-day is used in this watering hole attack, although some other vendors claim they are using known vulnerabilities," Fireeye researcher Yichong Lin wrote in a blog post last week.
As it turns out, Lin and Fireeye were right. Microsoft credited the security firm with helping to alert them to the flaw.
"The vulnerability exists in the way that Internet Explorer accesses an object in memory that has been deleted or has not been properly allocated," Microsoft warns in its advisory. "The vulnerability may corrupt memory in a way that could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user within Internet Explorer."
Watering Hole Attack
The attack involves a so-called watering hole scenario in which a user visits a site and is then unknowingly redirected to download malware.
According to Symante's advisory on the issue, the new IE 8 zero day is similar in nature to a vulnerability that Microsoft patched with the MS13-008 update in January of this year. That update was also a zero-day flaw that was identified by Fireeye as a watering hole attack risk. The MS13-008 patch was an out-of-band update and was not issued as part of the normal Patch Tuesday update cycle.
Microsoft's regularly scheduled Patch Tuesday update is next week, though it's not clear at this point if the new zero day will be part of that update.
"On completion of this investigation, Microsoft will take the appropriate action to protect our customers, which may include providing a solution through our monthly security update release process, or an out-of-cycle security update, depending on customer needs," Microsoft stated in its advisory.
In addition to the new zero day, Microsoft has yet to patcha pair of flaws first reported during the Pwn2own hacking challenge in March of this year.
Mitigations against the new zero day include upgrading to newer versions of IE, including IE 9 or 10. Multiple IPS vendors have also released new rules to help detect the attack.
Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy for Tripwire, warned that in regard to the Department of Labor attack, however, it's very difficult to defend against an unknown vulnerability exploited through a third party.
"The attackers clearly knew that this vulnerability existed in IE8, and that IE8 is the most widely used browser in general," Erlin said. "Did they also know that it’s the most widely used at the Department of Labor or was that just a ‘lucky’ accident?"
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eSecurity Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter"Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "Jarret Liotta
for National Geographic News
Published May 3, 2013
An iconic piece of American history took a nosedive when the 100th-anniversary issue of an annual aviation bible known as Jane's All the World's Aircraft displaced the Wright brothers as the first fathers of flight.
The new name in town is Gustave Whitehead, a German-born inventor many have long believed took to the air more than two years before Orville and Wilbur even left the ground at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903.
But while new research from an Australian aviation expert convinced Jane's editors it was time to update the books, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.—home to the original Wright Flyer—remains skeptical about Whitehead's work, which it views as mostly myth. The Aeronautics Division's senior curator—author and Wright expert Dr. Tom Crouch—believes Jane's was "hoodwinked."
Still, longtime Whitehead supporters are elated about the latest development. Many think the Smithsonian's indebtedness to the Wrights' legacy—which it even holds in contract with the brothers' heirs—prevents the institution from acknowledging the indisputable facts of Whitehead's pioneering work."Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "Smart grid technology has been implemented in many places, but Florida’s new deployment is the first full-scale system.
By Kevin Bullis on May 2, 2013
Why It Matters
Conventional power grids can’t handle big storms or large-scale renewable energy.
Smart power: Andrew Brown, an engineer at Florida Power & Light, monitors equipment in one of the utility’s smart grid diagnostic centers.
The first comprehensive and large scale smart grid is now operating. The $800 million project, built in Florida, has made power outages shorter and less frequent, and helped some customers save money, according to the utility that operates it.
Smart grids should be far more resilient than conventional grids, which is important for surviving storms, and make it easier to install more intermittent sources of energy like solar power (see “China Tests a Small Smart Electric Grid” and “On the Smart Grid, a Watt Saved Is a Watt Earned”). The Recovery Act of 2009 gave a vital boost to the development of smart grid technology, and the Florida grid was built with $200 million from the U.S. Department of Energy made available through the Recovery Act.
Dozens of utilities are building smart grids—or at least installing some smart grid components, but no one had put together all of the pieces at a large scale. Florida Power & Light’s project incorporates a wide variety of devices for monitoring and controlling every aspect of the grid, not just, say, smart meters in people’s homes.
“What is different is the breadth of what FPL’s done,” says Eric Dresselhuys, executive vice president of global development at Silver Spring Networks, a company that’s setting up smart grids around the world, and installed the network infrastructure for Florida Power & Light (see “Headed into an IPO, Smart Grid Company Struggles for Profit”).
Many utilities are installing smart meters—Pacific Gas & Electric in California has installed twice as many as FPL, for example. But while these are important, the flexibility and resilience that the smart grid promises depends on networking those together with thousands of sensors at key points in the grid— substations, transformers, local distribution lines, and high voltage transmission lines. (A project in Houston is similar in scope, but involves half as many customers, and covers somewhat less of the grid.)
In FPL’s system, devices at all of these places are networked—data jumps from device to device until it reaches a router that sends it back to the utility—and that makes it possible to sense problems before they cause an outage, and to limit the extent and duration of outages that still occur (see “The Challenges of Big Data on the Smart Grid”). The project involved 4.5 million smart meters and over 10,000 other devices on the grid.
The project was completed just last week, so data about the impact of the whole system isn’t available yet. But parts of the smart grid have been operating for a year or more, and there are examples of improved operation. Customers can track their energy usage by the hour using a website that organizes data from smart meters. This helped one customer identify a problem with his air conditioner, says Brian Olnick, vice president of smart grid solutions at Florida Power & Light, when he saw a jump in electricity consumption compared to the previous year in similar weather.
The meters have also cut the duration of power outages. Often power outages are caused by problems within a home, like a tripped circuit breaker. Instead of dispatching a crew to investigate, which could take hours, it is possible to resolve the issue remotely. That happened 42,000 times last year, reducing the duration of outages by about two hours in each case, Olnick says.
The utility also installed sensors that can continually monitor gases produced by transformers to “determine whether the transformer is healthy, is becoming sick, or is about to experience an outage,” says Mark Hura, global smart grid commercial leader at GE, which makes the sensor.
Ordinarily, utilities only check large transformers once every six months or less, he says. The process involves taking an oil sample and sending it to the lab. In one case this year, the new sensor system identified an ailing transformer in time to prevent a power outage that could have affected 45,000 people. Similar devices allowed the utility to identify 400 ailing neighborhood-level transformers before they failed.
Smart grid technology is having an impact elsewhere. After Hurricane Sandy, sensors helped utility workers in some areas restore power faster than in others. One problem smart grids address is nested power outages—when smaller problems are masked by an outage that hits a large area. In a conventional system, after utility workers fix the larger problem, it can take hours for them to realize that a downed line has cut off power to a small area. With the smart grid, utility workers can ping sensors at smart meters or power lines before they leave an area, identifying these smaller outages.
And smart grid devices are helping utilities identify problems that could otherwise go misdiagnosed for years. In Chicago, for example, new voltage monitors indicated that a neighborhood was getting the wrong voltage, a problem that could wear out appliances. The fix took a few minutes.
As more renewable energy is installed, the smart grid will make it easier for utilities to keep the lights on. Without local sensors, it’s difficult for them to know how much power is coming from solar panels—or how much backup they need to have available in case clouds roll in and that power drops.
But whether the nearly $1 billion investment in smart grid infrastructure will pay for itself remains to be seen. The DOE is preparing reports on the impact of the technology to be published this year and next. Smart grid technology is also raising questions about security, since the networks could offer hackers new targets (see “Hacking the Smart Grid”)."Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "ArsTechnica's Jon Brodkin reports:
There are plenty of Arduino-based robots in the world, but actually building one is a bit tough if you're not familiar with Arduino programming. But a company called ArcBotics has created an Arduino-based robot called "Sparki" that can be used—and programmed—by anyone. You don't have to assemble it yourself; the little plastic robot will be ready to go out of the box with an included remote control. To let users create additional functionality, ArcBotics is preparing programming samples and tutorials for controlling the robot's sensors and actuators.
Sparki is a Kickstarter project (of course), one that has raised nearly $14,000 toward its minimum goal of $60,000, with 29 days left. The robot will be sold for $99 when it's available, and Kickstarter pledges of $99 or more will reserve you a robot with an estimated delivery of October 2013. The robot designs will be released publicly for those who want to build their own.
ArcBotics previously used Kickstarter to raise money for its "Hexy the Hexapod" robot kit, aimed at more advanced users. ArcBotics' stretch goals for Sparki of $100,000, $200,000, and $300,000 would allow it to build an Android app to control Sparki via Bluetooth, a wireless data radio for communicating with other Sparki robots, and a drag-and-drop block programming environment, respectively.
Sparki is mostly geared toward education, with a suggested age of 11 and up. But there's nothing stopping adults from using Sparki as an easy introduction to Arduino programming. "To write your own programs, just plug it in via USB, install the custom-enhanced Arduino software and try any of the dozens of example programs," ArcBotics wrote. "We have programs for every sensor and actuator on Sparki."
Sparki uses an ATMega32 processor and a custom bootloader to run Arduino functionality. It has a distance sensor to calculate the distance to walls and objects, an accelerometer, light-sensing phototransistors to seek out light or dark, edge detection sensors, infrared transmitters and receivers, a serial port for connection to an Arduino or Raspberry Pi, motors, a buzzer for making sounds, Bluetooth, a 128x64 LCD screen, and a marker holder that allows it to draw. Sparki is powered by 4 AA batteries.
Programming tutorials will start with "edge avoidance, line following, maze solving, wall avoidance, room navigation, object retrieval, follow/hide from light sources, shape drawing, computer input (make a keyboard/mouse using sensors), and games with other Sparkis." Users can also learn more advanced concepts like PID (proportional-integral-derivative) loops, path-finding algorithms, signal filtering, and heuristics."Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "Timothy Koppe of DesignTrends.com reports:
If you use the Internet-and lets be honest, we live in a wired (or wireless!) world-then you should have a great deal of interest in how your online privacy is managed. One thing most users don't think about (I know I didn't for a while) is, despite whatever draconian methods we might take to protect our online lives, how well does the company that owns those services protect our privacy?
Thanks to the information collected from the Electronic Frontier Foundation now we have an answer. According to the EFF's most recent report card, Google has ranked as one of the companies when it comes to how hard they try to protect the privacy of their users.
According to the report, Google received starts in the following categories:
— Requiring a warrant to release user content
— Publishing transparency reports
— Publishing law enforcement guidelines
— Fighting for user privacy rights in court
— Fighting for user privacy rights in Congress
The only category that Google didn't receive a star in was telling users about government data requests.
By comparison, Apple Inc. received one of the EFF's worse marks, receiving stars in no category except fighting for user rights in Congress-which, frankly, isn't that hard to do with all the lobbying that goes on in the current Congress.
Despite its high grades, Google was not the top of the class, with Twitter and Sonic.net receiving stars in every category. Apple can feel thankful it won't be alone in study hall-Verizon and MySpace, received stars at all."Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "The LATimes Salvador Rodriguez reports:
It was 20 years ago today that the World Wide Web was opened to all, setting off one of the biggest transformations in technology and altering the way we communicate. To celebrate the occasion, the creator has brought the world's first website back to life.
Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist, launched the world's first website in the early 1990s. The site only included text and instructions on how to use the World Wide Web, an Internet network that was designed for universities to share research.
On April 30, 1993, the website was updated with a statement announcing that the source code for the World Wide Web would be available for everyone, turning "www" into a ubiquitous line for accessing the Internet.
The website eventually went offline. But on Tuesday, CERN, the organization behind the World Wide Web, restored the site to commemorate the anniversary. Users can check out the first website by heading to http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html.
The website is receiving a ton of traffic and appears to be having issues loading. But a blog post explaining the restoration says clicking on the URL will show a copy of the website from 1992, which looks the same as the site did when it was opened to all 20 years ago. CERN said it will continue looking through its files in hopes of finding an even earlier version of the site.
The restored website, which can be seen in the picture above, is nothing but text, but its significance cannot be denied.
By the end of 1993, there were more than 500 websites. By 2013, an estimated 630 million websites exist on the World Wide Web, according to CERN.
"The fact that they called their technology the World Wide Web hints at the fact that they knew they had something special, something big," CERN said in a blog post."Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "Scientific American reports:
What is the “final frontier”? Star Trek fans will tell you it’s space. Filmmaker/aquanaut James Cameron will tell you it’s the ocean’s depths. IBM, however, is thinking much smaller.
The company’s research division on Wednesday released a stop-motion movie whose main character is a stick figure only a few atoms in size. “A Boy and His Atom” is the story, not surprisingly, of a character named Atom who befriends a single atom and proceeds to play with his new friend by dancing, playing catch and bouncing on a trampoline. It may not be an Oscar-winning script, but the performance does mark a breakthrough in scientists’ ability to capture, position and shape individual atoms with precision using temperature, pressure and vibrations.
This ability to manipulate individual atoms has big implications for the future of computing and communications. Engineers have managed to shrink certain components within today’s magnetic disk drives down to a few dozen nanometers. “We’re interested in exploring data movement and storage at the atomic scale,” the stuff of quantum computing, Heinrich says. Whereas a classic computer uses bits—a zero or a one—to store information, a quantum computer lets you—in principle at least—have a zero and a one at the same time in a quantum bit (or a qubit).” If you can do both of these at the same time, you can calculate answers faster than any computer using classic bits,” he says, adding that his lab’s mission is to determine whether atoms can someday be harnessed for computation and data storage.
YouTube video of the movie "A Boy and his Atom": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSCX78-8-q0&list=PLaFe0BJiho2pbiULC7W4UpxFGArH7oD7i&index=1
The making of the world's smallest movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSCX78-8-q0&list=PLaFe0BJiho2pbiULC7W4UpxFGArH7oD7i"Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "RT.com reports:
NASA released spectacular new images of a hurricane swirling at Saturn’s north pole captured by Cassini spacecraft. The storm 20 times the size of Hurricane Sandy has puzzled scientists, and may give an insight into how terrestrial hurricanes are formed.
Cassini had to wait for almost 7 years to take a closer view of the mysterious swirling pattern on the north pole of the gas giant in favorable light conditions. Known as the hexagon, the weather pattern fits two Earths in diameter, and has been found to be housing a vortex strikingly similar to a terrestrial hurricane, NASA reports.
Saturn hurricane’s eye, is however, 2,000 kilometers wide, spins four times faster than hurricane-force winds on Earth, and, as scientists believe, has been “stuck” at the planet’s pole for years.
But ultimately, there’re no oceans of water on Saturn to feed the enormous storm, which has set off scientists thinking of some alternative theory how hurricanes are formed and sustained.
“We did a double take when we saw this vortex because it looks so much like a hurricane on Earth,” said Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member at the California Institute of Technology, US.
“But there it is at Saturn, on a much larger scale, and it is somehow getting by on the small amounts of water vapor in Saturn’s hydrogen atmosphere,” Ingersoll said, adding that scientists will be studying the formation to gain insight into terrestrial hurricanes.
NASA Cassini Solstice mission: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/
Saturn Hurricane Movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75RnmfKNiP8"Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "ArsTechnica reports: While the whole country is relieved that this past week’s Boston Marathon bombing ordeal and subsequent lockdown of the city is finally over, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis told the Washington Post that the department’s facial recognition system “did not identify” the two bombing suspects.
“The technology came up empty even though both Tsarnaevs’ images exist in official databases: Dzhokhar had a Massachusetts driver’s license; the brothers had legally immigrated; and Tamerlan had been the subject of some FBI investigation,” the Post reported on Saturday.
Facial recognition systems can have limited utility when a grainy, low-resolution image captured at a distance from a cellphone camera or surveillance video is compared with a known, high-quality image. Meanwhile, the FBI is expected to release a large-scale facial recognition apparatus “next year for members of the Western Identification Network, a consortium of police agencies in California and eight other Western states,” according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Still, video surveillance did prove extremely useful in pinpointing the suspects"Link to Original Source
SternisheFan writes "From ArsTechnica:
The shuttered file-sharing site Megaupload has accused the United States government of trying to change criminal court procedures to make it easier to prosecute the firm for copyright infringement. In addition to naming CEO Kim Dotcom as a defendant in the criminal case, the US government also named Megaupload, a corporation based in Hong Kong, as a separate defendant.
Megaupload has argued that US law doesn't allow criminal prosecution of corporations based entirely overseas. Federal rules require notice of an indictment to be sent to a corporation's last known US address. But Megaupload has never had a US address, the firm argues, so it can't be prosecuted.
Judge Liam O'Grady rejected that argument in October, reasoning that the government may be able to satisfy the notice requirement by serving papers on Kim Dotcom after he has been extradited to the United States.
On Thursday, Megaupload pressed its case again by pointing to a letter that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer wrote to the chair of the Advisory Committee on the Criminal Rules, which is part of the judicial branch. The government's attempts to change the criminal rules are an implicit admission that Megaupload is actually correct on the law, the company argues."Link to Original Source