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Microsoft Blames Layoffs For Drop In Female Employees ( 164

itwbennett writes: This year, women made up 26.8 percent of Microsoft's total workforce, down from 29 percent in 2014, the company reported Monday. In a blog post discussing the numbers, Gwen Houston, Microsoft's general manager of diversity and inclusion, pointed the finger at the thousands of layoffs the company made to restructure its phone hardware business: 'The workforce reductions resulting from the restructure of our phone hardware business ... impacted factory and production facilities outside the U.S. that produce handsets and hardware, and a higher percentage of those jobs were held by women,' she said.

Submission + - FSF: "Microsoft's Software is Malware"

vivaoporto writes: In a sharp article the Free Software Foundation (FSF) pushes forward the argument that Microsoft software is, in fact, malware.

According to their definition, malware is "software designed to function in ways that mistreat or harm the user", not including accidental errors. The article discriminate between the following types of behaviour and gives examples of instances where it applies to Microsoft software:

* Back doors
* Sabotage
* Surveillance
* Jails — systems that impose censorship on application programs.
* Tyrants — systems that reject any operating system not “authorized” by the manufacturer.

Examples include instances of forced updates over explicit user denial, the ability to remote deletion of apps, informing NSA of unfixed bugs, among others.

it concludes with the statement that, "if you do want to clean your computer of malware, the first software to delete is Windows".

Submission + - New Desalination Method Shocks The Salts Out Of Water (

MTorrice writes: As more and more people live in areas affected by drought or contaminated water, desalination is becoming an important way to meet global drinking water needs. So scientists continue to develop ever simpler and less expensive desalination methods.

Current technologies, for example, frequently rely on membranes to filter out ions. These membranes eventually get clogged and must be replaced, increasing costs.

A new method for water desalination separates salt water into briny and fresh streams with the help of an electric shock wave.

Submission + - Scientists Produce Graphene 100 Times Cheaper Than Ever Before (

Zothecula writes: Since first being synthesized by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov at the University of Manchester in 2004, there has been an extensive effort to exploit the extraordinary properties of graphene. However the cost of graphene in comparison to more traditional electronic materials has meant that its uptake in electronic manufacturing has been slow. Now researchers at the University of Glasgow have discovered a way to create large sheets of graphene using the same type of cheap copper used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries.

File Says NSA Found Way To Replace Email Program ( 93

schwit1 writes: Newly disclosed documents show that the NSA had found a way to create the functional equivalent of programs that had been shut down. The shift has permitted the agency to continue analyzing social links revealed by Americans' email patterns, but without collecting the data in bulk from American telecommunications companies — and with less oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The disclosure comes as a sister program that collects Americans' phone records in bulk is set to end this month. Under a law enacted in June, known as the USA Freedom Act, the program will be replaced with a system in which the NSA can still gain access to the data to hunt for associates of terrorism suspects, but the bulk logs will stay in the hands of phone companies.

The newly disclosed information about the email records program is contained in a report by the NSA's inspector general that was obtained through a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. One passage lists four reasons the NSA decided to end the email program and purge previously collected data. Three were redacted, but the fourth was uncensored. It said that "other authorities can satisfy certain foreign intelligence requirements" that the bulk email records program "had been designed to meet."

Submission + - Intel Warns Excessive U.S. Drone Regulation Could Drive Development Overseas (

An anonymous reader writes: In a statement to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Intel’s senior VP Joshua Walden has warned that the slow and cautious pace of drone regulation in the U.S. could drive development out of the country, stating that 'a federal government approach that is overly prescriptive will deter the private sector’s ability to invent and compete in the marketplace'. Walden also stated that Intel is 'being welcomed by foreign countries eager for investment in this new technology area.'

Submission + - Comcast Xfinity Wi-Fi Discloses Customer Names and Addresses (

itwbennett writes: Despite assurances that only business listings and not customer names and home addresses would appear in the public search results when someone searches for an Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspot, that is exactly what's happened when the service was initiated 2 years ago — and is still happening now, writes CSO's Steve Ragan. And that isn't the only security issue with the service. Another level of exposure centers on accountability. Ken Smith, senior security architect with K Logix in Brookline, Ma., discovered that Comcast is relying on the device’s MAC address as a key component of authentication.

Inside the Mission To Europa ( 106

An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica details the political and engineering battles being waged to make it possible for NASA to land a probe on Jupiter's moon Europa. They have new information about mission plans; it sounds ambitious, to say the least. "First, the bad news. Adding a lander to the Clipper will require additional technical work and necessitate a launch delay until late 2023. At that time, the massive Space Launch System rocket NASA is developing could deliver it to Jupiter in 4.6 years. Once there, the lander would separate from the Clipper, parking in a low-radiation orbit.

The Clipper would then proceed to reconnoiter Europa, diving into the harsh radiation environment to observe the moon and then zipping back out into cleaner space to relay its data back to Earth. Over a three-year period, the Clipper would image 95 percent of the world at about 50 meters per pixel and three percent at a very high resolution of 0.5 meters per pixel. With this data, scientists could find a suitable landing site. ...The JPL engineers have concluded the best way to deliver the lander to Europa's jagged surface is by way of a sky crane mechanism, like the one successfully used in the last stage of Curiosity's descent to the surface of Mars. With four steerable engines and an autonomous system to avoid hazards, the lander would be lowered to the moon's surface by an umbilical cord."

Submission + - Microsoft's plan to port Android apps to Windows proves too complex (

An anonymous reader writes: The Astoria project at Microsoft failed because a breakthrough was needed to overcome the complexity of the software development challenge. Microsoft tried to automate mapping the Android UI into the Windows 10 UI and to map Google services within the app such as maps, payments and notifications into Microsoft equivalents. Automated conversion of a UI from one platform to another has never been successfully demonstrated.

When I first saw Microsoft's Android bridge at Build 15, I thought it was achievable. But project Astoria as it is called is much too complex. Drawing on my architectural knowledge of the underlying Microsoft/Lumia hardware that is very similar to Android phones.I concluded that in the context of partitioning the device or running a VM Microsoft would succeed. But Microsoft tried something much more ambitious.


Microsoft To Provide New Encryption Algorithm For the Healthcare Sector 85

An anonymous reader writes: The healthcare sector gets a hand from Microsoft, who will release a new encryption algorithm which will allow developers to handle genomic data in encrypted format, without the need of decryption, and by doing so, minimizing security risks. The new algorithm is dubbed SEAL (Simple Encrypted Arithmetic Library) and is based on homomorphic encryption, which allows mathematical operations to be run on encrypted data, yielding the same results as if it would run on the cleartext version. Microsoft will create a new tool and offer it as a free download. They've also published the theoretical research. For now, the algorithm can handle only genomic data.

World's First "Porous Liquid" Could Be Used For CO2 Sequestration ( 91

Zothecula sends word that scientists have developed the world's first "porous" liquid that can potentially be used to capture carbon emissions. Gizmag reports: "The Italians have a colorful expression – to make a hole in water – to describe an effort with no hope of succeeding. Researchers at Queen's University Belfast (QUB), however, have seemingly managed the impossible, creating a class of liquids that feature permanent holes at the molecular level. The properties of the new materials are still largely unknown, but what has been gleaned so far suggests they could be used for more convenient carbon capturing or as a molecular sieve to quickly separate different gases."

Submission + - French terrorists used PS4 encryption, couldn't be monitored (

crankyspice writes: American law enforcement is blaming encrypted communications, specifically that found in Sony PlayStation 4 devices, for an inability to continue to monitor 'chatter' leading up to the attacks in Paris. Harbinger of arenewed push for an ability to provide decryption upon government demand?

Submission + - Intel Launches 72-Core Knight's Landing Xeon Phi Supercomputer Chip (

MojoKid writes: Intel announced a new version of their Xeon Phi line-up today, otherwise known as Knight's Landing. Whatever you want to call it, the pre-production chip is a 72-core coprocessor solution manufactured on a 22nm process with 3D Tri-Gate transistors. The family of coprocessors is built around Intel's MIC (Many Integrated Core) architecture which itself is part of a larger PCI-E add-in card solution for supercomputing applications. Knight's Landing succeeds the current version of Xeon Phi, codenamed Knight's Corner, which has up to 61 cores. The new Knight's Landing chip ups the ante with double-precision performance exceeding 3 teraflops and over 8 teraflops of single-precision performance. It also has 16GB of on-package MCDRAM memory, which Intel says is five times more power efficient as GDDR5 and three times as dense.

Submission + - Self-Encrypting Drives Hardly Any Better Than Software-Based Encryption (

itwbennett writes: The main security benefit of Self-Encrypting Drives SEDs is that the encryption key is not stored in the OS memory, but on the disk itself, which makes it less exposed to theft. However, some attacks that work against software-based encryption products also affect SEDs, including evil maid attacks and those that bypass Windows authentication. Proving this point, Daniel Boteanu and Kevvie Fowler from KPMG Canada demonstrated three data recovery methods against laptops using Self-Encrypting Drives (SEDs) at the Black Hat Europe security conference in Amsterdam Thursday.

Submission + - LA's Smart LED Street Lights Boost Wireless Connectivity (

An anonymous reader writes: Los Angeles will become the world’s first city to introduce a smart street lighting system, featuring connected LEDs and fully-integrated 4G LTE wireless technology. In a collaboration between Dutch tech and wellbeing firm Philips and Swedish telco Ericsson, the SmartPole project aims to deliver LA citizens high quality public lighting which is energy efficient and improves network performance in urban areas. By the close of this week, a total of 24 SmartPoles will be installed across the Hollywood area. The city plans to place 100 poles over the coming year, with a further 500 to follow.

Every little picofarad has a nanohenry all its own. -- Don Vonada