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A Remarkable Number of People Think 'The Martian' Is Based On a True Story ( 364

MarkWhittington writes: The Martian is a smash hit movie that made $100 million worldwide during its first weekend. The science and engineering depicted was, with certain notable exceptions, near perfect. The cinematography and special effects were so well done that one could almost imagine that Ridley Scott sent Matt Damon and a film crew to Mars to shoot the movie. In fact, perhaps the film was a little too good. Buzzfeed took a stroll through social media and discovered that many people think that The Martian is based on a true story.
The Internet

Google's Effort To Speed Up the Mobile Web ( 94

An anonymous reader writes: Google has officially taken the wraps off its AMP project — Accelerated Mobile Pages — which aims to speed up the delivery of web content to mobile devices. They say, "We began to experiment with an idea: could we develop a restricted subset of the things we'd use from HTML, that's both fast and expressive, so that documents would always load and render with reliable performance?" That subset is now encapsulated in AMP, their proof-of-concept. They've posted the code to GitHub and they're asking for help from the open source community to flesh it out. Their conclusions are familiar to the Slashdot crowd: "One thing we realized early on is that many performance issues are caused by the integration of multiple JavaScript libraries, tools, embeds, etc. into a page. This isn't saying that JavaScript immediately leads to bad performance, but once arbitrary JavaScript is in play, most bets are off because anything could happen at any time and it is hard to make any type of performance guarantee. With this in mind we made the tough decision that AMP HTML documents would not include any author-written JavaScript, nor any third-party scripts." They're seeing speed boosts anywhere from 15-85%, but they're also looking at pre-rendering options to make some content capable of loading instantaneously. Their FAQ has a few more details.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached 278

An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times reports that negotiators have finally reached agreement over the Trans-Pacific Partnership from the U.S. and 11 other nations. The TPP has been in development for eight years, and has the potential to dramatically strengthen U.S. economic ties to east Asia. Though the negotiations have been done in secret, the full text of the agreement should be published within a month. Congress (and the legislative houses of the other participating countries) will have 90 days to review it and decide whether to ratify it. The TPP has been criticized in tech circles for how it regards intellectual property and facilitates website blocking, among other issues.

Proponents will also have to answer broader questions about whether it stifles competition, how it treats individuals versus large corporations, as if it creates environmental problems. To give you an idea of how complex it is: "The Office of the United States Trade Representative said the partnership eventually would end more than 18,000 tariffs that the participating countries have placed on United States exports, including autos, machinery, information technology and consumer goods, chemicals and agricultural products ranging from avocados in California to wheat, pork and beef from the Plains states."

First of 2 Australian NBN Satellites Launched Successfully 58

New submitter aduxorth writes: Sky Muster, the first of the two satellites that will comprise Australia's NBN's Long-Term Satellite Service, has been successfully launched from Guiana Space Centre in South America. The two geostationary satellites will offer a total capacity of 135 gigabits per second, with 25/5Mbps wholesale speeds available to end users. The second satellite is expected to launch next year. Testing of this satellite will start soon and will continue until services are launched early next year.
Hardware Hacking

Apple Bans iFixit Repair App From App Store After Apple TV Teardown 366

alphadogg writes: iFixit, the fix-it-yourself advocate for users of Apple, Google and other gear, has had its repair manual app banned from Apple's App Store after it conducted an unauthorized teardown of Apple TV and Siri remote. iFixit blogged "we're a teardown and repair company; teardowns are in our DNA -- and nothing makes us happier than figuring out what makes these gadgets tick. We weighed the risks, blithely tossed those risks over our shoulder, and tore down the Apple TV anyway." iFixit does still have Windows and Android apps, and has no immediate plans to rewrite its Apple app to attempt being reinstated.

Treefinder Revokes Software License For Users In Immigrant-Friendly Nations 578

dotancohen writes: The author of bioinformatics software Treefinder is revoking the license to his software for researchers working in eight European countries because he says those countries allow too many immigrants to cross their borders, effective 1 October. The author states, "Immigration to my country harms me, it harms my family, it harms my people. Whoever invites or welcomes immigrants to Europe and Germany is my enemy."
United States

Raytheon Wins US Civilian Cyber Contract Worth $1 Billion 62

Tokolosh writes: Raytheon is a company well-known in military-industrial and political circles, but not so much for software, networking and cybersecurity. That has not stopped the DHS awarding it a $1 billion, five year contract to help more than 100 civilian agencies manage their computer security. Raytheon said DHS selected it to be the prime contractor and systems integrator for the agency's Network Security Deployment (NSD) division, and its National Cybersecurity Protection System (NCPS). The contract runs for five years, but some orders could be extended for up to an additional 24 months, it said. Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services, said the company had invested over $3.5 billion in recent years to expand its cybersecurity capabilities. He said cybersecurity incidents had increased an average of 66 percent a year worldwide between 2009 and 2014. As you might expect, Raytheon spends heavily on political contributions and lobbying.
Social Networks

Selfies Kill More People Than Shark Attacks 160 writes: The Independent reports that so far this year more people have died while trying to take a 'selfie' than from shark attacks. So far, 12 people have lost their life while trying to take a photo of themselves but the number of people who have died as a result of a shark attack was only eight. Some recent selfie-fatalities: A 66-year-old tourist from Japan recently died after falling down some stairs while trying to take a photo at the Taj Mahal in India, a Mississippi woman was gored to death by a bison while visiting Yellowstone National Park, and in August a man trying to take a selfie was gored to death during a running of the bulls in Villaseca de la Sagra, Spain. Some groups have been trying to get on top of the wave. In June Disney banned selfie sticks in its amusement parks. And foreseeing the selfie crisis in a very specific way, New York State passed a bill in June 2014 to prohibit people from having their photo taken (or taking it themselves) while "hugging, patting or otherwise touching tigers."

Facebook Dislike Hype Exploited In Phishing Campaign 54

An anonymous reader writes: A new Facebook scam is quickly spreading across the social network which plays on the announcement of the highly-anticipated 'Dislike' button. A new scamming campaign is now exploiting impatient Facebook users anxiously awaiting the dislike button addition, by tricking them into believing that they can click on a link to gain early access to the feature. Once the unsuspecting victim selects a link, they are led to a malicious website, which enables access to their private Facebook accounts and allows the hackers to share further scam links on their behalf.

Delete, Dump and Destroy: Canada's Government Data Severely Compromised 85

sandbagger writes: Stories about government data and historical records being deleted, burned — even tossed into Dumpsters — have become so common in recent years that many Canadians may feel inured to them. But such accounts are only the tip of a rapidly melting iceberg. A months-long Maclean's investigation, which includes interviews with dozens of academics, scientists, statisticians, economists and librarians, has found that the federal government's 'austerity' program, which resulted in staff cuts and library closures (16 libraries since 2012) — as well as arbitrary changes to policy, when it comes to data — has led to a systematic erosion of government records far deeper than most realize, with the data and data-gathering capability we do have severely compromised as a result.

Microsoft Has Built a Linux Distro 282

jbernardo writes: Microsoft has built a Linux distro, and is using it for their Azure data centers. From their blog post: "It is a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux." Apparently, the existing SDN (Software Defined Network) implementations didn't fit Microsoft's plans for the ACS (Azure Cloud Switch), so they decided to roll their own infrastructure. No explanation why they settled on Linux, though — could it be that there is no Windows variant that would fit the bill? In other news, Lucifer has been heard complaining of the sudden cold.

What's In Your Hand? This Malware Knows 68

An anonymous reader writes with the story that ESET researchers have uncovered spyware targeting online poker players, called Odlanor, which works by sending screenshots of a player's game (along with that player's in-game identity) to the attacker; the attacker can then search for the player with that ID, and enjoy an unfair advantage. (Also at The Inquirer.) From the ESET report: In newer versions of the malware, general-purpose data-stealing functionality was added by running a version of NirSoft WebBrowserPassView, embedded in the Oldanor trojan. This tool, detected by ESET as Win32/PSWTool.WebBrowserPassView.B, is a legitimate, albeit potentially unsafe application, capable of extracting passwords from various web browsers. ... The trojan communicates with its C&C, the address of which is hardcoded in the binary, via HTTP. Part of the exfiltrated information, such as the malware version and information identifying the computer, are sent in the URL parameters. The rest of the collected information, including an archive with any screenshots or stolen passwords, is sent in the POST request data.

iPad Mini-Style Specs, On the Cheap, In Android-Based ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 87

MojoKid writes: The ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 is a well-designed Android tablet based on an Intel X86 platform that boasts better specs than the iPad mini 3 in many areas and is also less expensive. As configured, the ZenPad S 8.0 Z580CA has an MSRP of $299, which is $99 less than the 16GB iPad mini 3, and $199 less than 64GB model. However, it's based on a quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and modern amenities like 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a USB Type-C port and a 2048X1536 IPS display. A 2GB RAM and 32GB variant can be found for $199 as well. In the benchmarks, the ZenPad S 8.0 handles pretty well, offering middle-of-the-pack performance in both standard CPU tests as well as gaming, in addition to running the latest version of Android Lollipop.
United Kingdom

UK Labour Party's Support For Homeopathy Grows 414

An anonymous reader writes: The UK's Labour Party is currently led by Jeremy Corbyn, who has shown support for homeopathy in the past. So has Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. (So-called 'shadow' posts in the UK government essentially comprise an alternative Cabinet with positions held by party members in opposition to the party in power.) Now, homeopathy seems to have additional support from the newly-appointed shadow health minister, Heidi Alexander. "I know lots of people who know about benefits of homeopathy. Whether it's the right use of public money is another thing altogether. I'm open to hearing the argument as to why people may think it appropriate."

Rupert Murdoch Buys National Geographic Magazine 286

dywolf writes: In a move that has inspired "dread" among the publication's journalists, as well as long time readers, Rupert Murdoch has just bought a controlling interest in all of National Geographic's media properties. The move turns the long time non-profit into a for-profit media corporation in the process. Some commenters have pointed to Murdoch's previous collaboration with the National Geographic Society, the NatGeo TV channel, as well other once respected publications he has bought such as the Wall Street Journal, as an example of what to expect, and to explain their apprehension at the deal. This raises a question for reader KatchooNJ: As many of you likely know, Rupert Murdoch has famously not been quiet about his denial of climate change. National Geographic gives grants to scientists... so, is anything going to now change with the focus of National Geographic's organization?

You've been Berkeley'ed!