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Submission + - Cameron tells pornography websites to block access by children or face closure->

An anonymous reader writes: David Cameron is to give pornography websites one last chance to produce an effective voluntary scheme for age-restricted controls on their sites or he will introduce legislation that could see them shut down.

At the election the then culture secretary, Sajid Javid, said the party would act to ensure under-18s were locked out of adult content and the Conservative election Facebook page in April promised legislation to achieve this.

It followed a Childline poll that found nearly one in 10 12-13-year-olds were worried they were addicted to pornography and 18% had seen shocking or upsetting images.

In a consultation to be launched in the autumn, the government will seek views on how best to introduce measures to further restrict under-18s’ access to pornographic websites.

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Submission + - Gene Hackers Resurrect Ancient Virus, Create Powerful Gene Therapy Vector->

giulioprisco writes: Scientists have resurrected an ancient virus, and found that the virus is highly effective at delivering gene therapies to the liver, muscle, and retina. This discovery could potentially be used to design gene therapies that are safer and more potent, and have a wider reach, than therapies currently available.
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Submission + - Germany won't prosecute NSA, but bloggers->

tmk writes: After countless evidence the on German top government officials German Federal Prosecutor General Harald Range has declined to investigate any wrongdoings of the secret services of allied nations like NSA or the British GCHQ. But after plans of the German secret service "Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz" to gain some cyper spy capabilities like the NSA were revealed by the blog, Hange started an official investigation against the bloggers and their sources. The charge: treason.
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Submission + - Getting intense color without the use of toxic dyes->

Taco Cowboy writes: Some of the brightest and most colourful materials in nature – such as peacock feathers, butterfly wings and opals – get their colour not from pigments, but from their internal structure alone

Brightly-coloured, iridescent films, made from the same wood pulp that is used to make paper, could potentially substitute traditional toxic pigments in the textile and security industries. The films use the same principle as can be seen in some of the most vivid colours in nature, resulting in colours which do not fade, even after a century

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have recreated a similar structure in the lab, resulting in brightly-coloured films which could be used for textile or security applications

Cellulose is made up of long chains of sugar molecules, and is the most abundant biomass material in nature. It can be found in the cells of every plant and is the main compound that gives cell walls their strength

In plants such as Pollia condensata, striking iridescent and metallic colours are the result of cellulose fibres arranged in spiral stacks, which reflect light at specific wavelengths

The researchers used wood pulp, the same material that is used for producing paper, as their starting material. To make the films, the researchers extracted cellulose nanocrystals from the wood pulp. When suspended in water, the rod-like nanocrystals spontaneously assemble into nanostructured layers that selectively reflect light of a specific colour

The colour reflected depends on the dimensions of the layers. By varying humidity conditions during the film fabrication, the researchers were able to change the reflected colour and capture the different phases of the colour formation

“Nature is a great source of inspiration: we can use biocompatible, cheap and abundant materials for making materials that have applications in everyday life,” said Dr Silvia Vignolini from Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry, who led the research. “The materials that we produce can be used as substitutes for toxic dyes and colorants in fabric, security labelling and also cosmetics”

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Submission + - Robot which can walk and jump on water->

Taco Cowboy writes: Look at this pix:

this pix

and this vid:

Researchers from Seoul University and Harvard University built an insect-sized robot that mimics the way that the insect water striders, jump on the surface of a body of water after studying how the pond-skimmer insects push off the water’s surface without sinking

It isn’t difficult to make robots jump. Spring-bots do it. Robo-Cheetas do it. Even educated Robo-Fleas do it. But building a robot that can jump on the surface of the water is far more complicated

In general, you can’t jump without first pushing off of a surface. When that surface is water, pushing off usually means pushing down—or sinking fast

The team collected water striders from a local pond, and used high-speed cameras to record the insects jumping on water in buckets in the laboratory. They noticed that the insects don’t simply push down on the water. It generates a small amount of movement initially, and then gradually accelerate their legs so as not to break the surface tension tension force of water
The striders also sweep their legs inward before each jump, to maximize the amount of time they touch the surface, which boost the overall force of their pushes

Using a theoretical model of a flexible cylinder floating on liquid, they found the maximum force exerted by the insect's legs is always just below below the maximum force that water surface tension can withstand

Using these principles, the researchers developed an ultra light robot made out of nickel titanium with a 2 centimeter long body inspired by origami. Its 5 centimeter long wire legs are curved at the tips like a real water strider's and coated with a material that repels water. To recreate the same controlled acceleration in the robot as in the real insect, they used a mechanism called a torque reversal catapult (TRC), inspired by a flea's jumping leg to launch the robot from the surface of the water up to 14.2 centimeters in the air, which is similar to water striders. At the moment, the strider-bot can only jump once, and can’t land upright. But it's still quite impressive>br>
Je-sung Koh, co-lead author of the study, and his team were driven by the mere challenge of successfully building a robot that can jump on water, he said that they would like to build upon this design to develop a robot that can not only jump on the water, but that could also swim and perform other complex tasks. A future strider-bot might be used in swarms for environmental monitoring on rivers or oceans, for search and rescue in disaster areas, or even military surveillance

This isn’t the first robot to mimic the water strider’s movements.

The first robot that was able to jump on water was built in 2012 by engineers at Harbin Institute of Technology in China. However, unlike the new tiny strider-bot, the older robot is six inches long and about 1,000 times as heavy. The older jumping robot also has a different design. It uses six paddle-like feet made out of water repellant nickel foam, which allows it to balance and float on the water, as well as hop 14 centimeters high and 14 inches forward

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have already made a small robot that can walk on water. And three years ago, scientists at the University of Waterloo designed a robot that could leap 5.5 inches in the air and 14 inches forward from the water's surface. But previous robots weren’t quite as faithful to the water striders that they were modeled after; the Waterloo robot used wide paddles for its jumps and weighed about a thousand times more than a water strider. Today’s robo-insect is only seven times heavier (68 milligram) than a strider and replicates its long, thin legs

The results suggest an understanding of the hydrodynamic phenomena used by semi aquatic arthropods during water jumping and prescribe a method for reproducing these capabilities in artificial systems

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Submission + - Undergraduates Discover Densest Ultracompact Dwarf Galaxies->

Applehu Akbar writes: This discovery, using imaging data from several large telescopes, identifies two new ultracompact dwarf galaxies (UCD), M59-UCD3 and M85-HCC1.

UCDs are small galaxies that have stellar densities of, in the case of M85-HCC1, up a million times higher than Earth's stellar neighborhood. That would mean stars averaging one twentieth of a light year apart. In such a place our own Oort cloud would contain other stars.

Furthermore, these galaxies are considerably older than our own and contain an abundance of heavy elements.

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How Developers Can Fight Creeping Mediocrity 132 132

Nerval's Lobster writes: As the Slashdot community well knows, chasing features has never worked out for any software company. "Once management decides that's where the company is going to live, it's pretty simple to start counting down to the moment that company will eventually die," software engineer Zachary Forrest y Salazar writes in a new posting. But how does any developer overcome the management and deadlines that drive a lot of development straight into mediocrity, if not outright ruination? He suggests a damn-the-torpedoes approach: "It's taking the code into your own hands, building or applying tools to help you ship faster, and prototyping ideas," whether or not you really have the internal support. But given the management issues and bureaucracy confronting many companies, is this approach feasible?

Comment MRAM? (Score 5, Interesting) 170 170

This '3D Xpoint memory' sounds very much like MRAM as described by the following article

Last year (2014) Samsung reportedly was collaborating with 15 partners in developing similar spintronic MRAM memory technology

Hynix and Toshiba also partnered to develop their own version of MRAM

In less than 5 years we might get to enjoy the fruits of the labor of the thousands of researchers who have been working very hard to make the spintronic dream come true, and I for one, wish to take this chance to thank them for their hard works!


.NET 4.6 Optimizer Bug Causes Methods To Get Wrong Parameters 147 147

tobiasly writes: A serious bug in the just-released .NET 4.6 runtime causes the JIT compiler to generate incorrectly-optimized code which results in methods getting called with different parameters than what were passed in. Nick Craver of Stack Exchange has an excellent write-up of the technical details and temporary workarounds; Microsoft has acknowledged the problem and submitted an as-yet unreleased patch.

This problem is compounded by Microsoft's policy of replacing the existing .NET runtime, as opposed to the side-by-side runtimes which were possible until .NET 2.0. This means that even if your project targets .NET 4.5, it will get the 4.6 runtime if it was installed on that machine. Since it's not possible to install the just-released Visual Studio 2015 without .NET 4.6, this means developers must make the difficult choice between using the latest tools or risking crippling bugs such as this one.

Submission + - EU new VAT regulation ends up helping Amazon->

Taco Cowboy writes: Last year the EU passed a new legislation which was supposed to punish entities such as Amazon (which has its EU base in Belgium and thus not paying appropriate taxes in other EU countries) but ironically the same legislation which comes into effect 1st Jan of this year ends up helping Amazon

Microbusinsses (small shops dotted around the EU countries) simply couldn't cope with the complication of having to comply with each and every kind of VAT regulation in each and every EU country (plus local version of VATs)

Most of the microbusinesses may end up shutting their digital businesses, and those who hang on, opted to sell their wares on sites such as E-Bay or Amazon — the very entities the new EU regulation tried to punish

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Submission + - Cold War, NSA, GCHQ and Encryption->

Taco Cowboy writes: In the 1980s, the historian James Bamford was researching his book The Puzzle Palace about the US National Security Agency (NSA) and came across references to the "Boris project" in papers written by William F Friedman, the founding father of code-breaking in America. The "Boris project' details a secret agreement between Boris Hagelin, the founder of Crypto AG, a Switzerland company which sold Enigma-like machines to nations and spy agencies around the world, and NSA

Upon learning of Mr. Bamford's discovery the NSA promptly had the papers locked up in a vault

In 1995, journalist Scott Shane, then at the Baltimore Sun, found indications of contacts between the company and the NSA in the 1970s, but the company said claims of a deal were "pure invention"

The new revelations of a deal do not come from a whistleblower or leaked reports, but are buried within 52,000 pages of documents declassified by the NSA itself this April and investigated by the BBC

The relationship was based on a deep personal friendship between Hagelin and Friedman, forged during the War. The central document is a once top-secret 22-page report of a 1955 visit by Friedman to Zug in Switzerland, where Crypto AG was based

Some elements of the memo have been redacted — or blacked out — by the NSA. But within the released material, are two versions of the same memo, as well as a draft

Each of the versions has different parts redacted. By placing them side by side and cross referencing with other documents, it is possible to learn many — but not all — details. The different versions of the report make clear Friedman — described as special assistant to the director of NSA — went with a proposal agreed not just by US, but also British intelligence

Friedman offered Hagelin time to think his proposal over, but Hagelin accepted on the spot

The relationship, initially referred to as a "gentleman's agreement", included Hagelin keeping the NSA and GCHQ informed about the technical specifications of different machines and which countries were buying which ones. The provision of technical details "is a revelation of the first order," says Paul Reuvers, an engineer who runs the Crypto Museum website

"That's extremely valuable. It is something you would not normally do because the integrity and secrecy of your own customer is mandatory in this business"

The key to breaking mechanical encryption machines — such as Enigma or those produced by Hagelin — is to understand in detail how they work and how they are used. This knowledge can allow smart code breakers to look for weaknesses and use a combination of maths and computing to work through permutations to find a solution. In one document, Hagelin hints to Friedman he is going to be able "to supply certain customers" with a specific machine which, Friedman notes, is of course "easier to solve than the new models"

Previous reports of the deal suggested it may have involved some kind of backdoor in the machines, which would provide the NSA with the keys. But there is no evidence for this in the documents (although some parts remain redacted)

Rather, it seems the detailed knowledge of the machines and their operations may have allowed code-breakers to cut the time needed to decrypt messages from the impossible to the possible

The relationship also involved not selling machines such as the CX-52, a more advanced version of the C-52 — to certain countries. "The reason that CX-52 is so terrifying is because it can be customised," says Prof Richard Aldrich, of the University of Warwick. "So it's a bit like defeating Enigma and then moving to the next country and then you've got to defeat Enigma again and again and again"

Some countries — including Egypt and India — were not told of the more advanced models and so bought those easier for the US and UK to break

In some cases, customers appear to have been deceived. One memo indicates Crypto AG was providing different customers with encryption machines of different strengths at the behest of Nato and that "the different brochures are distinguishable only by 'secret marks' printed thereon"

Historian Stephen Budiansky says: "There was a certain degree of deception going on of the customers who were buying [machines] and thinking they were getting something the same as what Hagelin was selling everywhere when in fact it was a watered-down version"

Among the customers of Hagelin listed are Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, India, Jordan and others in the developing world

In the summer of 1958, army officers apparently sympathetic to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew the regime in Iraq. Historian David Easter, of King's College, London, says intelligence from decrypted Egyptian communications was vital in Britain being able to rapidly deploy troops to neighbouring Jordan to forestall a potential follow-up coup against a British ally

The 1955 deal also appears to have involved the NSA itself writing "brochures", instruction manuals for the CX-52, to ensure "proper use". One interpretation is these were written so certain countries could use the machines securely — but in others, they were set up so the number of possible permutations was small enough for the NSA to crack

In a statement, a GCHQ spokesman said the agency "does not comment on its operational activities and neither confirms nor denies the accuracy of the specific inferences that have been drawn from the document you are discussing"

The NSA also declined to comment on the specific conclusions

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HP R&D Starts Enforcing a Business Casual Dress Code 471 471

An anonymous reader writes: HP was once known as a research and technology giant, a company founded in a garage by a pair of engineers and dominated by researchers. Whilst a part of that lives on in Agilent any hope for the rest of the company has now died with the announcement that HP R&D will have to dress in business "smart casual" with T-shirts, baseball caps, short skirts, low cut dresses and sportswear all being banned.
Open Source

Battle For Wesnoth Seeks New Developers 58 58

jones_supa writes: Twelve years ago, David White sat down over a weekend and created the small pet project that we know today as the open source strategy game The Battle For Wesnoth. At the time, Dave was the sole programmer, working alongside Francisco Muñoz, who produced the first graphics. As more and more people contributed, the game grew from a tiny personal project into an extensive one, encompassing hundreds of contributors. Today however, the ship is sinking. The project is asking for help to keep things rolling. Especially requested are C++, Python, and gameplay (WML) programmers. Any willing volunteers should have good communication skills and preferably be experienced with working alongside fellow members of a large project. More details can be found at the project website.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?