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How Dinosaurs Shrank and Became Birds 90

An anonymous reader writes: Discoveries have shown that bird-specific features like feathers began to emerge long before the evolution of birds, indicating that birds simply adapted a number of pre-existing features to a new use. And recent research suggests that a few simple changes — among them the adoption of a more babylike skull shape into adulthood — likely played essential roles in the final push to bird-hood. Not only are birds much smaller than their dinosaur ancestors, they closely resemble dinosaur embryos. Adaptations such as these may have paved the way for modern birds' distinguishing features, namely their ability to fly and their remarkably agile beaks. The work demonstrates how huge evolutionary changes can result from a series of small evolutionary steps.

Intel Adopts USB-C Connector For 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3, Supports USB 3.1, DP 1.2 179

MojoKid writes: The high speed Thunderbolt interface standard, which is used for everything from hyper-fast external storage solutions to external graphics cards, has been slow to take off. You can blame the high-priced Thunderbolt peripherals and the uber-expensive cables (at least when compared to your garden-variety USB cables). For most people, USB 3.0 is "good enough" and making a huge investment into the Thunderbolt ecosystem has been reserved for those in the professional video editing arena. However, Intel is looking to change all of that with Thunderbolt 3. Thunderbolt 3 once again doubles the maximum bandwidth, this time jumping from 20Gbps to a whopping 40Gbps. While that is impressive in its own right, the truly big news is that Thunderbolt 3 is moving away from the Mini DisplayPort connector and is instead adopting the USB-C connector. As a result Thunderbolt will also support USB 3.1 (which is currently spec'd at 10Gbps) and can optionally provide up to 100W of power (in compliance with the USB Power Delivery spec) to charge devices via USB-C (like the recently introduced 12-inch Apple MacBook).

US Airport Screeners Missed 95% of Weapons, Explosives In Undercover Tests 357

An anonymous reader writes: An internal investigation by the TSA found that 95% of agents testing airport checkpoints were able to bring weapons through. In one case, an alarm sounded, but during the pat down, the screener failed to detect a fake plastic explosive taped to the undercover agent's back. ABC reports: "Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was apparently so frustrated by the findings he sought a detailed briefing on them last week at TSA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, according to sources. U.S. officials insisted changes have already been made at airports to address vulnerabilities identified by the latest tests. 'Upon learning the initial findings of the Office of Inspector General's report, Secretary Johnson immediately directed TSA to implement a series of actions, several of which are now in place, to address the issues raised in the report,' the DHS said in a written statement to ABC News."

Comment Of course... (Score 1) 288

..the Universe had no beginning. Before the Universe was created (has created itself?) there was no time and after it ends, there won't be any time either. If it collapses into a super-mega singularity, time will stop forever inside and since there is no outside point of reference, will seem to be stuck like that forever, even when it ends :-)

(disclaimer: watched too much Star Trek at young age and Big Bang Theory now, no formal physics degree ;-) )

Why Aren't We Using SSH For Everything? 203

An anonymous reader writes: A post at Medium asks why, in this age of surveillance and privacy-related bogeymen, we aren't making greater use of SSH for our secure computing needs?

"SSH is one of the most accessible secure protocols ever, second only to HTTPS of course. Let's see what we have so far: Binary protocol, mandatory encryption, key pinning, multiplexing, compression (yes, it does that too). Aren't these the key features for why we invented HTTP/2?

Admittedly, SSH is missing some pieces. It's lacking a notion of virtual hosts, or being able to serve different endpoints on different hostnames from a single IP address. On the other hand, SSH does have several cool features over HTTP/2 though, like built-in client authentication which removes the need for registration and remembering extra passwords."
The Almighty Buck

To Fight Currency Mismatches, Steam Adding Region Locking to PC Games 160

will_die writes Because of recent currency devaluation Steam has now added region locking for games sold in Russia and CIS. Brazil and local area and Indonesia and local area are also being locked. If you purchase a game from one of those regions you cannot gift it to somone outside of the area. So someone from Russia can gift a game to someone to Georgia [Note: This Georgia, rather than this one, that is.] but not to someone in the USA. You want to see the prices in the Russia store and compare them to the Steam Christmas Sale which should be starting in a few hours.

PC Cooling Specialist Zalman Goes Bankrupt Due To Fraud 208

An anonymous reader writes Zalman's parent company Moneual's CEO Harold Park, and vice presidents Scott Park and Won Duck-yeok, have apparently spent the last five years producing fraudulent documentation relating to the sales performance of Zalman. These documents inflated sales figures and export data for Zalman's products. The reason? Bank loans. By increasing sales and exports Park and his associates were able to secure bank loans totaling $2.98 billion. Someone has finally realized what has been going on, though, triggering Zalman's shares to be suspended on the stock market and the company filing for bankruptcy protection. The questions now turn to how this practice was allowed to continue unnoticed for so long and how the banks will go about getting their near $3 billion back.

Ask Slashdot: Can You Say Something Nice About Systemd? 928

ewhac writes: "I'm probably going to deeply deeply regret this, but every time a story appears here mentioning systemd, a 700-comment thread of back-and-forth bickering breaks out which is about as informative as an old Bud Light commercial, and I don't really learn anything new about the subject. My gut reaction to systemd is (currently) a negative one, and it's very easy to find screeds decrying systemd on the net. However, said screeds haven't been enough to prevent its adoption by several distros, which leads me to suspect that maybe there's something worthwhile there that I haven't discovered yet. So I thought it might be instructive to turn the question around and ask the membership about what makes systemd good. However, before you stab at the "Post" button, there are some rules...

Bias Disclosure: I currently dislike systemd because — without diving very deeply into the documentation, mind — it looks and feels like a poorly-described, gigantic mess I know nothing about that seeks to replace other poorly-described, smaller messes which I know a little bit about. So you will be arguing in that environment."

Nice Things About systemd Rules:
  1. Post each new Nice Thing as a new post, not as a reply to another post. This will let visitors skim the base level of comments for things that interest them, rather than have to dive through a fractally expanding tree of comments looking for things to support/oppose. It will also make it easier to follow the next rule:
  2. Avoid duplication; read the entire base-level of comments before adding a new Nice Thing. Someone may already have mentioned your Nice Thing. Add your support/opposition to that Nice Thing there, rather than as a new post.
  3. Only one concrete Nice Thing about systemd per base-level post. Keep the post focused on a single Nice Thing systemd does. If you know of multiple distinct things, write multiple distinct posts.
  4. Describe the Nice Thing in some detail. Don't assume, for example, that merely saying "Supports Linux cgroups" will be immediately persuasive.
  5. Describe how the Nice Thing is better than existing, less controversial solutions. systemd is allegedly better at some things than sysvinit or upstart or inetd. Why? Why is the Nice Thing possible in systemd, and impossible (or extremely difficult) with anything else? (In some cases, the Nice Thing will be a completely new thing that's never existed before; describe why it's good thing.)

We will assume out of the gate that systemd boots your system faster than ${SOMETHING_ELSE}, so no points for bringing that up. Bonus points are awarded for:

  • Personal Experience. "I actually did this," counts for way more than, "The docs claim you can do this."
  • Working Examples. Corollary to the above — if you did a Nice Thing with systemd, consider also posting the code/script/service file you wrote to accomplish it.
  • Links to Supporting Documentation. If you leveraged a Nice Thing, furnish a link to the docs you used that describe the Nice Thing and its usage.

NVIDIA Begins Requiring Signed GPU Firmware Images 192

An anonymous reader writes: In a blow to those working on open-source drivers, soft-mods for enhancing graphics cards, and the Chinese knock-offs of graphics cards, NVIDIA has begun signing and validating GPU firmware images. With the latest-generation Maxwell GPUs, not all engine functionality is being exposed unless the hardware detects the firmware image was signed by NVIDIA. This is a setback to the open-source Nouveau Linux graphics driver but they're working towards a solution where NVIDIA can provide signed, closed-source firmware images to the driver project for redistribution. Initially the lack of a signed firmware image will prevent some thermal-related bits from being programmed but with future hardware the list of requirements is expected to rise.

The Raid-Proof Hosting Technology Behind 'The Pirate Bay' 144 writes Ernesto reports at TorrentFreak that despite its massive presence the Pirate Bay doesn't have a giant server park but operates from the cloud, on virtual machines that can be quickly moved if needed. The site uses 21 "virtual machines" (VMs) hosted at different providers, up four machines from two years ago, in part due to the steady increase in traffic. Eight of the VMs are used for serving the web pages, searches take up another six machines, and the site's database currently runs on two VMs. The remaining five virtual machines are used for load balancing, statistics, the proxy site on port 80, torrent storage and for the controller. In total the VMs use 182 GB of RAM and 94 CPU cores. The total storage capacity is 620 GB. One interesting aspect of The Pirate Bay is that all virtual machines are hosted with commercial cloud hosting providers, who have no clue that The Pirate Bay is among their customers. "Moving to the cloud lets TPB move from country to country, crossing borders seamlessly without downtime. All the servers don't even have to be hosted with the same provider, or even on the same continent." All traffic goes through the load balancer, which masks what the other VMs are doing. This also means that none of the IP-addresses of the cloud hosting providers are publicly linked to TPB. For now, the most vulnerable spot appears to be the site's domain. Just last year TPB burnt through five separate domain names due to takedown threats from registrars. But then again, this doesn't appear to be much of a concern for TPB as the operators have dozens of alternative domain names standing by.
The Military

How Governments Are Getting Around the UN's Ban On Blinding Laser Weapons 180

Lasrick writes Despite the UN's 1995 Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons, the world is moving closer to laser weapons in both military and law enforcement situations that can cause temporary and even permanent blindness. Military-funded research in this area continues to be conducted by the Optical Radiation Bioeffects and Safety program, and already "dazzlers" have been in use in Afghanistan. Domestic versions of these weapons are intended for use by law enforcement agencies and in theory cause motion-sickness type illness but not blindness. "But something bright enough to dazzle at 300 meters can cause permanent eye damage at 50 meters, and these devices can be set to deliver a narrow (and more intense) beam."

Site of 1976 "Atomic Man" Accident To Be Cleaned 299

mdsolar writes with news about the cleanup of the site that exposed Harold McCluskey to the highest dose of radiation from americium ever recorded. Workers are finally preparing to enter one of the most dangerous rooms in the world — the site of a 1976 blast in the United States that exposed a technician to a massive dose of radiation and led to his nickname: the "Atomic Man." Harold McCluskey, then 64, was working in the room at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation when a chemical reaction caused a glass glove box to explode. He was exposed to the highest dose of radiation from the chemical element americium ever recorded — 500 times the occupational standard. Hanford, located in central Washington state, made plutonium for nuclear weapons for decades. The room was used to recover radioactive americium, a byproduct of plutonium. Covered with blood, McCluskey was dragged from the room and put into an ambulance headed for the decontamination center. Because he was too hot to handle, he was removed by remote control and transported to a steel-and-concrete isolation tank. During the next five months, doctors laboriously extracted tiny bits of glass and razor-sharp pieces of metal embedded in his skin. Nurses scrubbed him down three times a day and shaved every inch of his body every day. The radioactive bathwater and thousands of towels became nuclear waste.
The Courts

Plaintiff In Tech Hiring Suit Asks Judge To Reject Settlement 215

An anonymous reader writes with news that Michael Devine, one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing tech firms including Apple and Google of conspiring to keep salaries low, has asked the court to reject a $324 million settlement. "Apple has more than $150 billion in the bank, eclipsing the combined cash reserves of Israel and Britain. Google, Intel and Adobe have a total of about $80 billion stored up for a rainy day. Against such tremendous cash hoards, $324 million is chump change. But that is what the four technology companies have agreed to pay to settle a class action brought by their own employees. The suit, which was on track to go to trial in San Jose, Calif., at the end of May, promised weeks if not months of damaging revelations about how Silicon Valley executives conspired to suppress wages and limit competition. Details of the settlement are still under wraps. 'The class wants a chance at real justice,' he wrote. 'We want our day in court.' He noted that the settlement amount was about one-tenth of the estimated $3 billion lost in compensation by the 64,000 class members. In a successful trial, antitrust laws would triple that sum. 'As an analogy,' Mr. Devine wrote, 'if a shoplifter is caught on video stealing a $400 iPad from the Apple Store, would a fair and just resolution be for the shoplifter to pay Apple $40, keep the iPad, and walk away with no record or admission of wrongdoing? Of course not.' 'If the other class members join me in opposition, I believe we will be successful in convincing the court to give us our due process,' Mr. Devine said in an interview on Sunday. He has set up a website, Tech Worker Justice, and is looking for legal representation. Any challenge will take many months. The other three class representatives could not be reached for comment over the weekend."
Businesses Ends Free Dynamic DNS 242

First time accepted submitter mkitchin (1285710) writes in with news about Dyn ending its free DNS service. "For the last 15 years, all of us at Dyn have taken pride in offering a free version of our Dynamic DNS Pro product. What was originally a product built for a small group of users has blossomed into an exciting technology used around the world. That is why with mixed emotions we announced the end of that free hostname program today, officially turning down on May 7th."
The Military

Iran Builds Mock-up of Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carrier 298

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "The NYT reports that US intelligence analysts studying satellite photos of Iranian military installations say that Iran is building a mock-up of an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with the same distinctive shape and style of the Navy's Nimitz-class carriers, as well as the Nimitz's number 68 neatly painted in white near the bow. Mock aircraft can be seen on the flight deck. The mock-up, which American officials described as more like a barge than a warship, has no nuclear propulsion system and is only about two-thirds the length of a typical 1,100-foot-long Navy carrier. Intelligence officials do not believe that Iran is capable of building an actual aircraft carrier. "Based on our observations, this is not a functioning aircraft carrier; it's a large barge built to look like an aircraft carrier," says Cmdr. Jason Salata. "We're not sure what Iran hopes to gain by building this. If it is a big propaganda piece, to what end?" Navy intelligence analysts surmise that the vessel, which Fifth Fleet wags have nicknamed the Target Barge, is something that Iran could tow to sea, anchor and blow up — while filming the whole thing to make a propaganda point, if, say, the talks with the Western powers over Iran's nuclear program go south. "It is not surprising that Iranian military forces might use a variety of tactics — including military deception tactics — to strategically communicate and possibly demonstrate their resolve in the region," said an American official who has closely followed the construction of the mock-up. The story has set off chatter about how weird and dumb Iran is for building this giant toy boat but according to Marcy Wheeler if you compare Iran's barge with America's troubled F-35 program you end up with an even bigger propaganda prop. "I'm not all that sure what distinguishes the F-35 except the cost: Surely Iran hasn't spent the equivalent of a trillion dollars — which is what we'll spend on the F-35 when it's all said and done — to build its fake boat," writes Wheeler. "So which country is crazier: Iran, for building a fake boat, or the US for funding a never-ending jet program?""

"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge." -- Bakunin [ed. note - I would say: The urge to destroy may sometimes be a creative urge.]