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Comment Botnet takeover (Score 1) 67

The news article claimed that researchers had control over the botnet, but the research paper implies otherwise, simply that the control network was rendered inaccessible.

Did Conficker have something to prevent a takeover, such as using a public key signature to verify update code?

If they were able to inject a popup window informing the user of the infection, surely disinfection rates would have been much higher. The research paper says that millions of users bought phony security software via Conficker, so they'd likely respond to a popup invitation.

Comment Publication dated to 1911 - anyone got earlier? (Score 1) 177

Here's a copy published in 1911 (words only, but it makes it clear that this song well predates the 1935 date the copyright claimants are pegging their millions on).

Title: The Elementary Worker and His Work
Author: Alice Jacobs, et al
Year: 1911

Submission + - Solar activity predicted to fall 60% in 2030s

sycodon writes: A new model of the Sun's solar cycle is producing unprecedentedly accurate predictions of irregularities within the Sun's 11-year heartbeat. The model draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the Sun, one close to the surface and one deep within its convection zone. Predictions from the model suggest that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the 'mini ice age' that began in 1645.

Submission + - New Letters Added to the Genetic Alphabet->

An anonymous reader writes: Now, after decades of work, Benner’s team has synthesized artificially enhanced DNA that functions much like ordinary DNA, if not better. In two papers published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society last month, the researchers have shown that two synthetic nucleotides called P and Z fit seamlessly into DNA’s helical structure, maintaining the natural shape of DNA. Moreover, DNA sequences incorporating these letters can evolve just like traditional DNA, a first for an expanded genetic alphabet.

The new nucleotides even outperform their natural counterparts. When challenged to evolve a segment that selectively binds to cancer cells, DNA sequences using P and Z did better than those without.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Here's a Real-Time Map of All the Objects in Earth's Orbit->

rastos1 writes: It started as a passion project in April for 18-year-old James Yoder, an alum of FIRST Robotics, the high school robotics competition. He wanted to learn more about 3D graphics programming and WebGL, a JavaScript API. It’s, a real-time, 3D-visualized map of all objects looping around Earth, from satellites to orbital trash. In total, tracks 150,000 objects. Type in a satellite name to scope out its altitude, figure out its age, group satellites by type, and so on.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Airbus chating on competition in cross-channel e-flight challenge

An anonymous reader writes: Aerospace giant Airbus has been accused of 'bad sportsmanship' after squashing the ambitions of light aircraft maker Pipistrel to be the first to fly an electric aircraft across the English Channel.
After Pipistrel acquired flight permissions, the German electronics company Siemens which supplies the electric motor used in the Pipistrel Alpha Electro contacted Pipistrel to say they could not use the motor over water (partly German).

Comment Re:it could... (Score 2) 148

Stepper motors have a minimum step, based on the construction of the motor, though many designs permit some fractional stepping. A "regular" electric motor doesn't move in steps, but become imprecise when the amount of force applied is small in relation to internal friction forces.

It's also a function of the machining tolerance of the parts and of the design, including issues of gear backlash - the dead zone that results from a change of direction, where all the looseness of fit in one direction is released and then taken up in the other direction.

Comment Re:what is interesting is not that it won (Score 2) 591

What the majority decided is that this was essentially a drafting error. If legal documents and public law drafts could be compiled and executed or analyzed like C code, I'm certain that there'd be loads of errors that could be caught before signing. Imagine shipping a program without ever being able to run it, even once. [Obligatory Microsoft joke to be inserted here.] [Hi Ho.]

This comes up all the time in contract drafting, where initial language gets tightened up and someone has to do a global search for "exchange" and change it to "Exchange" to refer to the defined term. A single misspelled word can prevent that global search from working properly, and a later correction to the misspelling can cover up the error.

I'd love to see all the edits to the ACA with "track changes" turned on.

Comment Low voltage DC for distribution is silly (Score 1) 597

Low-voltage DC needs 10x more copper for the same power, and extending power runs to "home run" makes the wires even longer. Unless you pay for that extra copper, wiring losses will eat your savings. The big issue with ACDC conversion is that the AC is 60/50 Hz, which means energy storage of 8-10ms x wattage for efficient conversion is required. Better efficiency and lower wiring costs would come from using higher voltage DC and/or higher frequency AC. Aviation, submarines, spacecraft, trains and some industrial tools use 400 Hz AC - which allows for smaller transformers and motors. DCDC converters essentially have internal oscillators to perform the voltage conversion, and can choose an even higher frequency to minimize energy storage time. The reason we're still using 60/50 Hz is because it's the way things always were, just like train gauges are a good match to two horses side-to-side, and perhaps because 60/50Hz hum is less annoying than 400Hz hum - but hum just means that you're losing power to the environment, so it's power efficient to eliminate that anyway.

That being said, when retrofitting incandescent lighting systems with lower-power lighting, it could make sense to use existing wiring at a lower voltage AND LOWER POWER LEVEL. That way the power/voltage conversion could be grouped together in one or a few places so that higher-efficiency converters can be used, but still kept close to the points of use to minimize wiring loss. Unfortunately, the retrofit market is going for power conversion in individual lighting fixtures so one fixture at a time can be changed out.

Comment Re:Let me get this straight... (Score 1) 294

Plain old walking isn't very safe (>6000 deaths per year average [includes bicyclists]), and much less safe than passengers on a train (7 deaths per year average).
Of course, it's because of those other forms of transportation that walking isn't safe.

Comment The public wants that false sense of security (Score 1) 294

That false sense of security is just what the public wants. The TSA is doing exactly that for airplanes.

Seriously, consider the recent derailment that has triggered this announcement. They already know the train was accelerating into the curve, and travelling faster than any permanent speed limit would allow. A GPS-based system (including accelerometers to assist the GPS when going through tunnels) would have been able to advise the engineer that the train was travelling at nearly twice the permanent posted speed, perhaps with a loud, audible warning that could alert an engineer that may have been distracted by idiots throwing rocks at the train, (with a time-limited shut-off to handle the case when the GPS is showing the wrong speed or location). It could even, be allowed to stop acceleration and apply brakes if not overridden within a few seconds of its warning by an alert engineer. It could even have a little video camera in it, and store the last 30 minutes of movement. It could even be made as an Android or iPhone app with no hardware development (save the USB-connection to slow the train), so it could be deployed in a matter of months instead of decades, at a cost that wouldn't need an Act of Congress to fund.

But sure, go ahead and give the public what it wants.

Comment Re:How about speed arrestors, instead? (Score 2) 294

So, yes, it's important that safety overrides be designed with a lick or two of sense - such as a override that automatically resets after a limited time, and/or only permits very low-speed operations, and an override that permits operation only if the doors are open less than a few millimeters, and only operates until the next stop. Was that too hard?

Comment Re:30 years ago.... (Score 1) 294

Yes, all that may be true, but enforcing permanent speed limits via a self-contained system would have prevented several major accidents and could have been implemented in minimum time and money so it could actually have been deployed. All that fancy-ass consideration has driven up the price and delayed the implementation of anything at all except the sharp wits of a tired old train engineer, who probably doesn't know how worn the wheels are and only remembers a few of the thousands of regulations that some desk jockey put in place without knowing how it was going to affect train operations.

Here's prime example of the perfect being the enemy of the good, and you're failing to see it in front your face. Trains are crashing, dude.

"Once they go up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department." -- Werner von Braun