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+ - Reverse Engineering the Nike+ FuelBand's Communications Protocol->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Security researcher Simone Margaritelli has reverse engineered the Bluetooth low-energy communications protocol for his Nike+ FuelBand SE, a wrist-worn activity tracker. He learned some disturbing fact: "The authentication system is vulnerable, anyone could connect to your device. The protocol supports direct reading and writing of the device memory, up to 65K of contents. The protocol supports commands that are not supposed to be implemented in a production release (bootloader mode, device self test, etc)." His post explains in detail how he managed this, and how Nike put effort into creating an authentication system, but then completely undermined it by using a hard-coded token. Margaritelli even provides a command list for the device, which can do things like grab an event log, upload a bitmap for the screen, and even reset the device."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Let's have a War on Corn! (Re:Obama oops...) (Score 3, Interesting) 215

by mi (#48939185) Attached to: New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance On Biofuels

President Obama Announces Major Initiative to Spur Biofuels Industry and Enhance America's Energy Security

That's Big Government for you. Instead of various people acting as they see fit — some making mistakes and some not — we have a government, that's big enough to make a mistake for all of us at once...

Competing ideas? To each his own? Personal responsibility? No way, no how — citizen, the Science is Settled[TM] and you are blocking our progress towards the Common Good[TM].

Fat is bad for you — all of you! Until it is not. Except it still is...

Biofuels is about to become the latest example of this. As our benevolent and omniscient overlords in Washington jump from one trend to another, the whole country is supposed to rejig, retool, and reorient itself each time: from "low-fat" to "low-sugar", from growing biofuels to drilling oil. Because they "know" better — and they are 100% confident in that settled "knowledge" of theirs. Until it changes to the exact opposite like some kind of quantum particle — and only the confidence remains.

How about we — the subjects — make our own choices, huh? Leaving only the courts, police and military to you, our beloved government class? Yes, we — some of us — will be making the same mistakes. But, at least, they will be neither coercing nor outright forcing the others to repeat them.

+ - Computers are evil in early education-> 2

Submitted by nbauman
nbauman (624611) writes "Middle school students who got computers did worse in school. They wasted their time on games, social media, and entertainment (just like adults), according to Susan Pinker in the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01... Computers only help when they're used by good, trained teachers. Infants who interact with parents do better in school. Screen time reduces interaction with parents.

In the early 2000s, economists tracked the academic progress of nearly one million disadvantaged middle-school students against the dates they were given networked computers. They assessed math and reading skills for 5 years.

“Students who gain access to a home computer between the 5th and 8th grades tend to witness a persistent decline in reading and math scores,” they wrote. The Internet was also linked to lower grades in younger children.

Weaker students (boys, African-Americans) were affected more than others. When their computers arrived, their reading scores fell off a cliff.

Technology has a role in education — but only when it’s perfectly suited to the task, and only when it's deployed as a tool by a terrific, highly trained teacher."

Link to Original Source

+ - New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance on Biofuels

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "The NYT reports on a new study from a prominent environmental think tank that concludes that turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand and that continuing to pursue this strategy is likely to use up vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world’s growing population. “I would say that many of the claims for biofuels have been dramatically exaggerated,” says Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, a global research organization based in Washington that is publishing the report. “There are other, more effective routes to get to a low-carbon world.” The report follows several years of rising concern among scientists about biofuel policies in the United States and Europe, and is the strongest call yet by the World Resources Institute, known for nonpartisan analysis of environmental issues, to urge governments to reconsider those policies.

Timothy D. Searchinger says that recent science has challenged some of the assumptions underpinning many of the pro-biofuel policies that have often failed to consider the opportunity cost of using land to produce plants for biofuel. According to Searchinger if forests or grasses were grown instead of biofuels, that would pull carbon dioxide out of the air, storing it in tree trunks and soils and offsetting emissions more effectively than biofuels would do. What is more, as costs for wind and solar power have plummeted over the past decade, and the new report points out that for a given amount of land, solar panels are at least 50 times more efficient than biofuels at capturing the energy of sunlight in a useful form. “It’s true that our first-generation biofuels have not lived up to their promise,” says Jason Hill said. “We’ve found they do not offer the environmental benefits they were purported to have, and they have a substantial negative impact on the food system.”"

+ - Mozilla dusts off old servers, lights up Tor relays->

Submitted by TechCurmudgeon
TechCurmudgeon (3904121) writes "According to The Register:

Mozilla has given the Tor network a capacity kick with the launch of 14 relays that will help distribute user traffic. Engineers working under the Foundation's Polaris Project inked in November pulled Mozilla's spare and decommissioned hardware out of the cupboard for dedicated use in the Tor network. It included a pair of Juniper EX4200 switches and three HP SL170zG6 (48GB ram, 2*Xeon L5640, 2*1Gbps NIC) servers, along with a dedicated existing IP transit provider (2 X 10Gbps). French Mozilla engineer Arzhel Younsi (@xionoxfr) said its network was designed to fall no lower than half of its network capacity in the event of maintenance or failure.

The Polaris initiative was a effort of Mozilla, the Tor Project and the Centre for Democracy and Technology to help build more privacy controls into technology."

Link to Original Source

+ - A mattrass adjusts ambiance, starts coffeemaker, when you wake-up-> 1

Submitted by mi
mi (197448) writes "A smart mattress-cover will turn off lights when you go to sleep, get coffee ready when you’re waking up. Luna’s new device fits around the mattress like a cover, and monitors whether those sleeping on it are asleep. When it senses that they are, it can power down lights or change heating settings. And when it detects that they’re waking back up, it can start brewing coffee or turn the lights back on.

And while you’re asleep, it will track the room temperature and how much sleep you get, creating the perfect conditions. The bed has “dual zone temperature”, which means that it can monitor differnet sides of the bed separately.

The only disturbing piece about it comes at the very end of the article:

Data is stored on the smart mattress cover itself, and then sent to Luna for storage and analysis.

"

Link to Original Source

Comment: Why not a gradually-degrading array instead? (Score 1) 255

by mi (#48932489) Attached to: Proposed Disk Array With 99.999% Availablity For 4 Years, Sans Maintenance

Our conclusion is that having N(N + 1)/2 spare disks is more than enough to achieve a 99.999 percent probability of not losing data over four years.

Instead of keeping the spares inside as just that — spares — can it not start using all of them (in a sufficiently redundant configuration) and gradually lose capacity as physical disks fail?

Yes, it would require coordination with the driver and filesystem, but there is nothing insurmountable in that...

Comment: Re:Praise the non-violent (Score 1) 368

by mi (#48932309) Attached to: Why ATM Bombs May Be Coming Soon To the United States

It *is* nonviolent.

Sure. It is also "quiet" and "stealthy" — and a bunch of other things. Which is the best term to use in this context? That depends on the subtle connotations of each one, does not it? I am willing to believe, TFA's use was an honest mistake — the article makes no (other) suggestions, bank-robbing (violent or otherwise) may be a just thing. But...

Are the Somali pirates just that — pirates — or are they hard-working folks laboring in a harsh environment, risking their lives directing foreign aid to their impoverished country and the people, who need it most?

See also "Hezbollization".

Comment: Praise the non-violent (Score 1) 368

by mi (#48931371) Attached to: Why ATM Bombs May Be Coming Soon To the United States

stealing cards remains an effective, nonviolent way to get at the cash in an ATM.

Wow, that makes it sound like the card-thieves are nice folks — see, they are "nonviolent". Almost like the "unarmed" we read so much about recently.

What a way to turn a phrase and alter connotations — pick a nice-sounding synonym of many. Khmm, "quiet"? Neah... "Stealthy"? No... "Nonviolent" — yeah, that's it!!

Comment: Re:jessh (Score 1) 397

by mi (#48928931) Attached to: "Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

Yes, they're quite "free" to quite their jobs

Yes, indeed, they are free to quit their jobs — without having to give up on their house, country, and friends — if their assessment of the risk of coming to work is so drastically at odds with that of their employer.

you are "free" to move to Somalia if you're unhappy with having a functioning government.

Oh, no you don't. That cliche is too worn-out and too oft-refuted to still be usable. Libertarians have no problem with a functioning government. We just want to (drastically) cut its functions, thank you very much.

Comment: Re:jessh (Score 1) 397

by mi (#48928909) Attached to: "Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

The families and friends of those fatalities would likely invite you to shove your entire Ayn Rand library up your arse.

Had you actually read the link on how the Statistical Value of Life is calculated, you would not have had all that angry adrenalin in your blood. For it is computed based on our own willingness to pay for extra safety.

For example, if having some hypothetical contraption in your car is convincingly known to lower your risk of death by 5% and the implement costs $10K, then the people, who are unwilling to pay extra, value their lives at below $200K.

Or they consider themselves exceptionally less prone to accidents — which is why actuaries use multiple such datapoints to arrive at the number.

Is it not "heartless" to even attempt to attach a $-figure to a human life? Hardly... Because the lost monies could've helped save lives too. Ever heard of charitable donations? A wounded fighter having one package of Celox available, for example, increases his chances of survival by 60% — according to Ukrainian volunteers trying to procure as much of the wonderful stuff as they can get donations for. $20 is what one package costs...

+ - FCC calls blocking of personal Wi-Fi hotspots "disturbing trend"->

Submitted by alphadogg
alphadogg (971356) writes "The FCC on Tuesday warned http://transition.fcc.gov/Dail... that it will no longer tolerate hotels, convention centers or others intentionally interfering with personal Wi-Fi hotspots. This issue grabbed headlines last fall when Marriott International was fined $600K for blocking customer Wi-Fi hotspots, presumably to encourage the guests to pay for pricey Internet access from the hotel."
Link to Original Source

+ - Engineers Develop 'Ultrarope" For World's Highest Elevator 1

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Halfway up the Shard, London’s tallest skyscraper, you are asked to step out of the elevator at the transfer floor or “sky lobby,” a necessary inconvenience in order to reach the upper half of the building, and a symptom of the limits of elevators today. To ascend a mile-high (1.6km) tower using the same technology could necessitate changing elevators as many as 10 times because elevators traveling distances of more than 500m [1,640 ft] have not been feasible because the weight of the steel cables themselves becomes so great. Now BBC reports that after nine years of rigorous testing, Kone has released Ultrarope — a material composed of carbon-fiber covered in a friction-proof coating that weighs a seventh of the steel cables, making elevators of up to 1km (0.6 miles) in height feasible to build. Kone's creation was chosen to be installed in what's destined to become the world's tallest building, the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. When completed in 2020, the tower will stand a full kilometer in height, and will boast the world's tallest elevator at 660m (2,165ft). A 1km-tall tower may seem staggering, but is this the buildable limit? Most probably not, according to Dr Sang Dae Kim. “With Kingdom Tower we now have a design that reaches around 1 km in height. Later on, someone will push for 1 mile, and then 2 km,” says Kim adding that, technically speaking, a 2 km might be possible at the current time. “At this point in time we can build a tower that is 1 km, maybe 2 km. Any higher than that and we will have to do a lot of homework.”"

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