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Security

Hacking a 'Smart' Sniper Rifle 59 59

An anonymous reader writes: It was inevitable: as soon as we heard about computer-aimed rifles, we knew somebody would find a way to compromise their security. At the upcoming Black Hat security conference, researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger will present their techniques for doing just that. "Their tricks can change variables in the scope's calculations that make the rifle inexplicably miss its target, permanently disable the scope's computer, or even prevent the gun from firing." In one demonstration they were able to tweak the rifle's ballistic calculations by making it think a piece of ammunition weighed 72 lbs instead of 0.4 ounces. After changing this value, the gun tried to automatically adjust for the weight, and shot significantly to the left. Fortunately, they couldn't find a way to make the gun fire without physically pulling the trigger.

Submission + - UEDashboard: New Research Prototype to Detect Unusual Events in SVN Repositories->

babaloes writes: We introduce UEDashboard, a tool which automatically detects unusual events in a commit history based on metrics and smells, and surfaces them in an event feed. Our preliminary evaluation with a team of professional software developers showed that our conceptualization of unusual correlates with developers’ perceptions of task difficulty, and that UEDashboard could be useful in supporting development meetings and for pre-commit warnings.
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The Military

US Military Stepping Up Use of Directed Energy Weapons 80 80

An anonymous reader writes: At a conference on Tuesday, U.S. officials explained that all branches of the military would be increasing their use of lasers and other directed energy weapons. Lieutenant General William Etter said, "Directed energy brings the dawn of an entirely new era in defense." The Navy's laser deployment test has gone well, and they're working on a new prototype laser in the 100-150 kilowatt range. "[Navy Secretary Ray] Mabus said Iran and other countries were already using lasers to target ships and commercial airliners, and the U.S. military needed to accelerate often cumbersome acquisition processes to ensure that it stayed ahead of potential foes."
Patents

MPEG LA Announces Call For DASH Patents 60 60

An anonymous reader writes: The MPEG LA has announced a call for patents essential to the Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (or DASH) standard. According to the MPEG LA's press release, "Market adoption of DASH technology standards has increased to the point where the market would benefit from the availability of a convenient nondiscriminatory, nonexclusive worldwide one-stop patent pool license." The newly formed MPEG-DASH patent pool's licensing program will allegedly offer the market "efficient access to this important technology."
AI

A Computer Umpires Its First Pro Baseball Game 65 65

An anonymous reader writes: Baseball has long been regarded as a "game of inches." Among the major professional sports it arguably requires the greatest amount of precision — a few extra RPMs can turn a decent curveball into an unhittable one, and a single degree's difference in the arc of a bat swing can change a lazy popup into a home run. As sensor technology has improved, it's been odd to see how pro baseball leagues have made great efforts to keep it away from the sport. Even if you aren't a fan of the game, you're probably familiar with the cultural meme of an umpire blowing a key call and altering the course of the game.

Thus, it's significant that for the first time ever, sensors and a computer have called balls and strikes for a professional game. In a minor league game between the San Rafael Pacifics and the Vallejo Admirals, a three-camera system tracked the baseball's exact position as it crossed home plate, and a computer judged whether it was in the strike zone or not. The game went without incident, and it provided valuable data in a real-life example. The pitch-tracking system still has bugs to work out, though. Dan Brooks, founder of a site that tracks ball/strike accuracy for real umpires, said that for the new system to be implemented permanently, fans must be "willing to accept a much smaller amount of inexplicable error in exchange for a larger amount of explicable error."

Submission + - North Korea Tightens Ban On 'Songs Of Resistance'->

An anonymous reader writes: In an attempt to root out elements that can lead to potential political instabilities in the country, North Korea is stepping up music censorship and scrapping all cassette tapes and CDs that contain state-banned songs even if homegrown. Kim Jong-Un is believed to have issued such orders out of concern that certain songs could instill people with criticism or resistance against the leadership. The local propaganda departments are going to people's homes to comb through music records. Some women have gotten so angry that they've stormed into the local propaganda offices complaining that they incinerated their goods without even telling them.
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Submission + - Tools Coming To Def Con For Hacking RFID Access Doors->

jfruh writes: Next month's Def Con security conference will feature, among other things, new tools that will help you hack into the RFID readers that secure doors in most office buildings. RFID cards have been built with more safeguards against cloning; these new tools will bypass that protection by simply hacking the readers themselves.
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Submission + - Advertising companies accused of deliberately slowing page-load times for profit->

An anonymous reader writes: An industry insider has told Business Insider [http://www.businessinsider.com/conspiracy-web-pages-load-slowly-because-they-make-more-money-that-way-2015-7] of his conviction that ad-serving companies deliberately prolong the 'auctioning' process for ad spots when a web-page loads in order to maximise revenue by allowing automated 'late-comers' to participate beyond the 100ms limit placed on the decision-making process. The unnamed source, a principal engineer at a global news company (whose identity and credentials were confirmed by Business Insider), concluded with the comment "My entire team of devs and testers mostly used Adblock when developing sites, just because it was so painful otherwise,". Publishers use 'daisy-chaining' [http://www.masternewmedia.org/online-advertising-management-ad-network-defaulting-and-daisy-chaining-for-ad-revenue-optimization/#ixzz2bKLfDIU9] to solicit bids from the most profitable placement providers down to the 'B-list' placements, and the longer the process is run, the more likely that the web-page will be shown with profitable advertising in place.
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Government

Two Years Later, White House Responds To 'Pardon Edward Snowden' Petition 577 577

An anonymous reader writes: In June of 2013, a petition was posted to Whitehouse.gov demanding that Edward Snowden receive a full pardon for his leaks about the NSA and U.S. surveillance practices. The petition swiftly passed 100,000 signatures — the point at which the White House said it would officially respond to such petitions. For two years, the administration was silent, but now they've finally responded. In short: No, Edward Snowden won't be receiving a pardon.

Lisa Monaco, the President's Advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said, "Mr. Snowden's dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it. If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he's running away from the consequences of his actions."

Submission + - Rematch--Newegg beats patent troll over SSL and RC4 encryption->

codguy writes: After a previous failed attempt (http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/11/26/1927254/jury-finds-newegg-infringed-patent-owes-23-million) to fight patent troll TQP Development in late 2013, Newegg has now beaten this troll in a rematch (http://blog.newegg.com/newegg-vs-patent-trolls-when-we-win-you-win/). From the article:

"Newegg went against a company that claimed its patent covered SSL and RC4 encryption, a common encryption system used by many retailers and websites. This particular patent troll has gone against over 100 other companies, and brought in $45 million in settlements before going after Newegg."

This follows on Intuit's recent success in defending itself against this claim (http://yro.slashdot.org/story/14/06/26/1353216/intuit-beats-ssl-patent-troll-that-defeated-newegg).

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Programming

.NET 4.6 Optimizer Bug Causes Methods To Get Wrong Parameters 144 144

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 + - The First Airplane on Mars

braindrainbahrain writes: Undergoing research by NASA, the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars, or Prandtl-M (not-so-coincidentally named after German aeronautical engineer Ludwig Prandtl) program is developing an airfoil with the ultimate goal of flying in the Martian atmosphere. The program has flown 12-ft. span models, the Prandtl-D1 and -D2, in Earth's atmosphere to prove that the flying wing design could overcome adverse yaw effects without including a tail. A larger 25 ft. model will be tested shortly and further tests call for prototypes to be balloon dropped at 85,000 feet and later at 115,000 feet to simulate Martian atmospheric density. If all goes well, it could be deployed from a cubesat container after hitching a ride to Mars with a rover in 2022.

Alternate, non-pay walled source: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ar...

Submission + - .NET 4.6 optimizer bug causes methods to get wrong parameters

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.

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