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Yahoo Denies Ad-blocking Users Access To Email ( 324

JoeyRox writes: Yahoo is running an A/B test that blocks access to Yahoo email if the site detects that the user is running an Ad Blocker. Yahoo says that this a trial rather than a new policy, effecting only a "small number" of users. Those lucky users are greeted with a message that reads "Please disable Ad Blocker to continue using Yahoo Mail." Regarding the legality of the move, "Yahoo is well within its rights to do so," said Ansel Halliburton an attorney at Kronenberger Rosenfeld who specializes in Internet law.

737 'Tailstrike' Caused By Typo On a Tablet ( 366

An anonymous reader writes: In August of last year, a Boeing 737 operated by Qantas experienced a tailstrike while taking off — the thrust wasn't great enough for the tail to clear the runway, so it clipped the ground. The investigation into the incident (PDF) has finally been completed, and it found the cause of the accident: the co-pilot accidentally entered the wrong plane weight data into the iPad used to make calculations about the takeoff thrust. "First, when working out the plane's takeoff weight on a notepad, the captain forgot to carry the "1," resulting in an erroneous weight of 66,400kg rather than 76,400kg. Second, the co-pilot made a "transposition error" when carrying out the same calculation on the Qantas on-board performance tool (OPT)—an iPad app for calculating takeoff speed, amongst other things. "Transposition error" is an investigatory euphemism for "he accidentally hit 6 on the keyboard rather than 7." This caused the problem: "For a weight of 76,400kg and temperature of 35C, the engine thrust should've been set at 93.1 percent with a takeoff speed of 157 knots; instead, due to the errors, the thrust was set to 88.4 percent and takeoff speed was 146 knots."

Robots Teach Each Other New Tricks ( 27

schwit1 writes with this story from the MIT Technology Review about a robot at Brown University who was taught to perform a task from another robot at Cornell. According to the article: "the ability to acquire and then share knowledge is a central component of human culture and civilization. A small milestone in the exchange of robot knowledge has now been demonstrated by two bots working in different academic research labs. Researchers at Cornell University previously devised an online game, called TellMeDave, through which volunteers can help train a robot to perform a task and associate different actions with commands given in everyday language. By guiding the robot through a task, a volunteer trains a machine-learning algorithm so the robot can perform the task again. And this learned behavior is stored in a central repository called RoboBrain that's accessible by other robots (see 'The World's First Knowledge Engine for Robots')."

Engineers Create the Blackest Material Yet ( 176

schwit1 writes: Researchers have created the least reflective material ever made, using as inspiration the scales on the all-white cyphochilus beetle. The result was an extremely tiny nanoparticle rod resting on an equally tiny nanoparticle sphere (30 nm diameter) which was able to absorb approximately 98 to 99 percent of the light in the spectrum between 400 and 1,400nm, which meant it was able to absorb approximately 26 percent more light than any other known material — and it does so from all angles and polarizations.

Bank's Severance Deal Requires IT Workers To Be Available For Two Years ( 602

dcblogs points out this story at Computerworld about a severance agreement that requires laid-off IT employees to be available to help out for two years. The article reads in part: "SunTrust Banks in Atlanta is laying off about 100 IT workers as it moves work offshore. But this layoff is unusual for what it is asking of the soon-to-be displaced workers: The bank's severance agreement requires terminated employees to remain available for two years to provide help if needed, including in-person assistance, and to do so without compensation. Many of the affected IT employees, who are now training their replacements, have years of experience and provide the highest levels of technical support. The proof of their ability may be in the severance requirement, which gives the bank a way to tap their expertise long after their departure. The bank's severance includes a 'continuing cooperation' clause for a period of two years, where the employee agrees to 'make myself reasonably available' to SunTrust 'regarding matters in which I have been involved in the course of my employment with SunTrust and/or about which I have knowledge as a result of my employment at SunTrust.'"

Office 2016 Proving Unstable With Apple's El Capitan 138

An anonymous reader writes: Users of Microsoft Office on the Mac are reporting widespread instabilities and conflicts after upgrading to the latest version of the Apple desktop operating system, El Capitan. The first indications that El Capitan and Office 2016 were not working well together came in a now epic thread at Microsoft Community. Many users have surmised that new restrictions in file permissions in El Capitan caused the problems initially, though nearly all agree that Office's Outlook email client is the critical point of failure in the current round of application crashes and loss of functionality.

New Russian Laboratory To Study Mammoth Cloning 45

An anonymous reader writes: While plans to clone a woolly mammoth are not new, a lab used in a joint effort by Russia and South Korea is. The new facility is devoted to studying extinct animal DNA in the hope of creating clones from the remains of animals found in the permafrost. IBtimes reports: "The Sakha facility has the world's largest collection of frozen ancient animal carcasses and remains, with more than 2,000 samples in its possession, including some that are tens of thousands years old, such as a mammoth discovered on the island of Maly Lyakhovsky; experts believe it may be more than 28,000 years old."

EPFL's CleanSpace One Satellite Will "Eat" Space Junk 53

Zothecula writes: Working with Geneva's University of Applied Science and Signal Processing 5 Laboratory, Swiss research institute EPFL has announced details of a plan to capture its tiny SwissCube satellites by using a new spacecraft outfitted with a conical net. Called "CleanSpace One" the team hopes that their "Pac-Man" solution will capture the old satellite. Gizmag reports: "...SwissCube's spinning action will make it more difficult to image, as its surfaces will alternately be brilliantly sunlit or hidden in shadow. That's why CleanSpace One's computer vision system will be running algorithms that account for variables such as the angle of the sun, the dimensions of the target, the speed at which that target is moving, and the rate at which CleanSpace One itself is spinning. High dynamic range cameras will also allow it to simultaneously expose for both bright and dark surfaces."

Microwave Comms Betwen Population Centers Could Be Key To Easing Internet Bottlenecks 221

itwbennett writes: Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Duke University recently looked at the main causes of Internet latency and what it would take to achieve speed-of-light performance. The first part of the paper, titled Towards a Speed of Light Internet, is devoted to finding out where the slowdowns are coming from. They found that the bulk of the delay comes from the latency of the underlying infrastructure, which works in a multiplicative way by affecting each step in the request. The second part of the paper proposes what turns out to be a relatively cheap and potentially doable solution to bring Internet speeds close to the speed of light for the vast majority of us. The authors propose creating a network that would connect major population centers using microwave networks.

Feds Say It's Time To Cut Back On Fluoride In Drinking Water 314

An anonymous reader writes: Federal health officials Monday changed the recommended amount of fluoride in drinking water for the first time since 1962, cutting by almost half the maximum amount of fluoride that should be added to drinking supplies. The Department of Health and Human Services recommended 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water instead of the long-standing range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams. The change is recommended because now Americans have access to more sources of fluoride, such as toothpaste and mouth rinses, than they did when fluoridation was first introduced in the United States,' Dr. Boris Lushniak, the deputy surgeon general, told reporters during a conference call.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

ESA Rebukes EFF's Request To Exempt Abandoned Games From Some DMCA Rules 153

eldavojohn writes It's 2015 and the EFF is still submitting requests to alter or exempt certain applications of the draconian DMCA. One such request concerns abandoned games that utilized or required online servers for matchmaking or play (PDF warning) and the attempts taken to archive those games. A given example is Madden '09, which had its servers shut down a mere one and a half years after release. Another is Gamespy and the EA & Nintendo titles that were not migrated to other servers. I'm sure everyone can come up with a once cherished game that required online play that is now abandoned and lost to the ages. While the EFF is asking for exemptions for museums and archivists, the ESA appears to take the stance that it's hacking and all hacking is bad. In prior comments (PDF warning), the ESA has called reverse engineering a proprietary game protocol "a classic wolf in sheep's clothing" as if allowing this evil hacking will loose Sodom & Gomorrah upon the industry. Fellow gamers, these years now that feel like the golden age of online gaming will be the dark ages of games as historians of the future try to recreate what online play was like now for many titles.

Festo Reveals New Robotic Ants and Butterflies 19

mikejuk writes "Every year around this time of year Festo builds some amazing robot or other — last year it was a kangaroo. What could it possibly do to top previous amazing devices? What about some even more amazing robotic insects. BionicANT is designed not only look good but to demonstrate swarm intelligence. The robot not only looks like an ant, but it works like one. The design makes use of piezo bending transducers rather than servos to move. As well as being able to move its six legs, it also has a piezo-activated pair of pincers. The second insect robot is a butterfly — eMotion. For flying machines these are incredibly lightweight at 32 grams. The bodies are laser sintered and the wings use carbon fiber rods. Two miniature servo motors are attached to the body and each wing. The electronics has a microcontroller, an inertial sensor consisting of gyro, accelerometer and compass and two radio modules. Flying time is around 3 or 4 minutes."

Generate Memorizable Passphrases That Even the NSA Can't Guess 267 writes Micah Lee writes at The Intercept that coming up with a good passphrase by just thinking of one is incredibly hard, and if your adversary really is capable of one trillion guesses per second, you'll probably do a bad job of it. It turns out humans are a species of patterns, and they are incapable of doing anything in a truly random fashion. But there is a method for generating passphrases that are both impossible for even the most powerful attackers to guess, yet very possible for humans to memorize. First, grab a copy of the Diceware word list, which contains 7,776 English words — 37 pages for those of you printing at home. You'll notice that next to each word is a five-digit number, with each digit being between 1 and 6. Now grab some six-sided dice (yes, actual real physical dice), and roll them several times, writing down the numbers that you get. You'll need a total of five dice rolls to come up with each word in your passphrase. Using Diceware, you end up with passphrases that look like "cap liz donna demon self", "bang vivo thread duct knob train", and "brig alert rope welsh foss rang orb". If you want a stronger passphrase you can use more words; if a weaker passphrase is ok for your purpose you can use less words. If you choose two words for your passphrase, there are 60,466,176 different potential passphrases. A five-word passphrase would be cracked in just under six months and a six-word passphrase would take 3,505 years, on average, at a trillion guesses a second.

After you've generated your passphrase, the next step is to commit it to memory.You should write your new passphrase down on a piece of paper and carry it with you for as long as you need. Each time you need to type it, try typing it from memory first, but look at the paper if you need to. Assuming you type it a couple times a day, it shouldn't take more than two or three days before you no longer need the paper, at which point you should destroy it. "Simple, random passphrases, in other words, are just as good at protecting the next whistleblowing spy as they are at securing your laptop," concludes Lee. "It's a shame that we live in a world where ordinary citizens need that level of protection, but as long as we do, the Diceware system makes it possible to get CIA-level protection without going through black ops training."

Researchers Nearly Double the Size of Worker Ants 99

sciencehabit writes: Researchers have nearly doubled the size of a handful of Florida ants by chemically modifying their DNA, rather than by changing its encoded information. The work may help explain how the insects—despite their high degree of genetic similarity—grow into the different varieties of workers needed in a colony.

Xeroxed Gene May Have Paved the Way For Large Human Brain 93

sciencehabit writes Last week, researchers expanded the size of the mouse brain by giving rodents a piece of human DNA. Now another team has topped that feat, pinpointing a human gene that not only grows the mouse brain but also gives it the distinctive folds found in primate brains. The work suggests that scientists are finally beginning to unravel some of the evolutionary steps that boosted the cognitive powers of our species. "This study represents a major milestone in our understanding of the developmental emergence of human uniqueness," says Victor Borrell Franco, a neurobiologist at the Institute of Neurosciences in Alicante, Spain, who was not involved with the work.

You don't have to know how the computer works, just how to work the computer.