writes "A recently declassified NSA house magazine, CryptoLog, reveals some interesting attitudes between the redactions. What is the NSA take on cryptography?
The article of interest is a report of a trip to the 1992 EuroCrypt conference by an NSA cryptographer whose name is redacted.We all get a little bored having to sit though presentations that are off topic, boring or even down right silly but we generally don't write our opinions down. In this case the criticisms are cutting and they reveal a lot about the attitude of the NSA cryptographers. You need to keep in mind as you read that this is intended for the NSA crypto community and as such the writer would have felt at home with what was being written.
Take for example:
Three of the last four sessions were of no value whatever, and indeed there was almost nothing at Eurocrypt to interest us (this is good news!). The scholarship was actually extremely good; it’s just that the directions which external cryptologic researchers have taken are remarkably far from our own lines of interest.
It seems that back in 1992 academic cryptographers were working on things that the NSA didn't consider of any importance. Could things be the same now?
The gulf between the two camps couldn't be better expressed than:
The conference again offered an interesting view into the thought processes of the world’s leading “cryptologists.” It is indeed remarkable how far the Agency has strayed from the True Path.
The ironic comment is clearly suggesting that the NSA is on the "true path" whatever that might be.
Clearly the gap between the NSA and the academic crypto community is probably as wide today with the different approaches to the problem being driven by what each wants to achieve. It is worth reading the rest of the article."Link to Original Source
writes "The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) is tiny and only has 302 neurons. These have been completely mapped and one of the founders of the OpenWorm project, Timothy Busbice, has taken the connectome and implemented an object oriented neuron program. The neurons communicate by sending UDP packets across the network. The software works with sensors and effectors provided by a simple LEGO robot. The sensors are sampled every 100ms. For example, the sonar sensor on the robot is wired as the worm's nose. If anything comes within 20cm of the "nose" then UDP packets are sent to the sensory neurons in the network. The motor neurons are wired up to the left and right motors of the robot.
It is claimed that the robot behaved in ways that are similar to observed C. elegans. Stimulation of the nose stopped forward motion. Touching the anterior and posterior touch sensors made the robot move forward and back accordingly. Stimulating the food sensor made the robot move forward.
The key point is that there was no programming or learning involved to create the behaviors. The connectome of the worm was mapped and implemented as a software system and the behaviors emerge.
Is the robot a C. elegans in a different body or is it something quite new?
Is it alive?
These are questions for philosophers, but it does suggest that the ghost in the machine is just the machine. The important question is does it scale?"Link to Original Source
writes "After the Raspberry Pi B was upgraded to the B+ it was inevitable that the model A would follow. We were even promised something "special" by Eben Upton in a recent interview. Despite trying to keep it secret, Element 14, a major Raspberry Pi retailer has published some details by way of a web page getting ready to sell you a new model A+ (the page has now been removed).
The board layout looks very different and it is much smaller than the model A or B+. Judging from the photograph, the A+ board just encompasses the four standard mounting holes which makes it approximately 56x65mm — the model B+ is 56x85mm.
The key improvements are the new 40-pin GPIO socket, which makes the model A+ fully compatible with the HAT expansion standard. This means that any new HAT expansion cards should now work with the A+. It also specifically has a connector for the, as yet unannounced, Raspberry Pi touch screen. This was partially demoed in a recent interview and marked as "coming soon".
The other welcome change is the micro SD port, but the new A+ still has only a single USB 2 connector. There is also no word on what the device's power consumption is, but it has to be lower than the model B+ because it is basically the same design minus the Ethernet chip.
The model A+ is good news, except of course for all those Raspberry Pi case makers who will now have to redesign their model A cases.
No price as yet, but it would be a big surprise if it wasn't $25"Link to Original Source
writes "The announcement on the Google Geo Developers blog has the catchy title No map is an island. It points out that while there are now around 2 million active sites that have Google Maps embedded they store data independently, The new feature, called attributed save, aims to overcome this problem by creating an integrated experience between the apps you use that have map content and Google Maps and all it requires is that users sign in. So if you use a map in a specific app you will be able to see locations you entered in other apps.This all sounds great and it makes sense to allow users to take all of the locations that have previously been stored in app silos and put them all together into one big map data pool. The only down side is that the pool is owned by Google and some users might not like the idea of letting Google have access to so much personal geo information. It seems you can have convenience or you can have privacy.
It might just be that many users prefer their maps to be islands."Link to Original Source
This month's Dart TIOBE index shows an amazing increase in interest — yes its a hockey stick. After showing only small pulses of interest since its introduction in late 2011, Dart has suddenly entered the top 20 languages at number 17 after a rapid and sustained spike starting at the end of July 2014. To give you some idea of where this places the language, its TIOBE ranking is better than F# and close to Ruby. From nothing much to being as popular as Ruby means you probably need to take notice of Dart in the future.
Of course there are all of the usual caveats about the TIOBE index, but no matter what you think is being measured, something clearly started happened at the end of July and it is still happening. It is so unusual that the thought that someone might be gaming the TIOBE index does occur."Link to Original Source
writes "We have all heard the stories about how Amazon treats workers in its fullfilment centers. Well now it seems it wants to do the right thing — and replace all of them by robots.
The Amazon Picking Challenge at ICRA (IEEE Robotics and Automation) 2015 is about getting a robot to perform the picking task. All the robot has to do is pick a list of items from the automated shelves that Amazon uses and place the items into another automated tray ready for delivery. The prizes are $20,000 for the winner, $5000 for second place and $1000 for third place. In addition each team can be awarded up to $6000 to get them and their robot to the conference so that they can participate in the challenge. Amazon is even offering to try to act as matchmaker between robot companies and teams not having the robot hardware they need. A Baxter Research Robot will be made available at the contest.
A robot picker sounds like it could be removing humans from a job that would be much better suited to robots — but then of course, the humans wouldn't have jobs.
We talk a lot in the abstract about the effect that robots have on employment and are very smug about the idea that robots grow the overall job market by creating new jobs in other areas, but here we have a crystal clear situation. The people doing the picking aren't going to be getting jobs that have been created by the robots. The robots will simply take their jobs."Link to Original Source
writes "When Google Labs closed there was an outcry. How could an organization just pull the rug from under so many projects?
At least Google announced what it was doing. Mozilla, it seems since there is no official record, just quietly tiptoes away — leaving the lights on since the Mozilla Labs Website is still accessible. It is accessible but when you start to explore the website you notice it is moribund with the last blog post being December 2013 with the penultimate one being September 2013.
The fact that it is gone is confirmed by recent blog posts and by the redeployment of the people who used to run it. The projects that survived have been moved to their own websites. It isn't clear what has happened to the Hatchery -the incubator that invited new ideas from all and sundry.
One of the big advantages of open source is the ease with which a project can be started. One of the big disadvantages of open source is the ease with which projects can be allowed to die — often without any clear cut time of death. It seems Mozilla applies this to groups and initiatives as much as projects. This isn't good."Link to Original Source
writes "Google is becoming as well known for neural networks as the other kind. The annual ImageNet large-scale visual recognition challenge, ILSRVC, is the a testing ground for all manner of computer vision techniques, but recently it has been dominated by convolutional neural networks which are trained to recognize objects simply by being shown lots of examples in photographs.
In 2012 there was a big jump in accuracy when a deep convolutional net designed by Alex Krizhevsky, Ilya Sutskever and Geoffrey E. Hinton proved for the first time that neural networks really did work if you had enough data and enough computing power. This is the neural network that Google has used in its photo search algorithm and, of course, the team they hired to implement it.
This year's competition also brought a jump in performance. Google's GoogLeNet,, yes Goog-le-net, named in honour of LeNet created by Yan LeCun, won the classification and detection challenge while doubling the quality over last year's results. This year the GoogLeNet scored 44% mean average precision compared to the best last year of 23%.
In simple recognition tasks neural nets are as good as humans so a more difficult task has now become the focus of attention. Not only do the nets have to recognize photo of a single object — dog, cat etc., they now have to recognize multiple objects in a photo, a dog with a hat on say, and localize the objects by drawing bounding boxes. This is much harder and tens of thousands of CPU cores were used to train GoogLeNet.
Once nets can recognize individual object and where they are they are well on the road to scene analysis and description — a long-time goal of computer vision systems. A robot with GoogLeNet could with the right higher level software see what was about them."Link to Original Source
writes "Yes it's a vacuum cleaner! But you knew it would be. The real question is why has it taken so long to make a sophisticated robot to do the menial job of cleaning the floor. The typical Roomba style robot vac runs around at random bumping into things and getting tangled in anything it can find. It is an endearing little machine and once you have owned one the idea of not having one is unthinkable but... it is still a little dim, even for the menial job of cleaning the floor.
Enter the Dyson 360 Eye which was launched last week. This is an upmarket cleaner. Not only does it have a radial root cyclone suction machine it also has, as it's name suggests, 360 degree vision.
A 360 degree panoramic lens lets an infrared sensor see all around. The sensors work in conjunction with a video camera to place objects in the scene. As it moves around it builds a model that is accurate to 5mm. It uses SLAM — Simultaneous Localization And Mapping — which is one mark of an advanced robot. In short — this Dyson knows where it is.
And what is the advantage of this?
Simple — the robot doesn't bump into things and it can clean systematically, which is much more satisfying for a human observer at the very least.
Add to this radial root cyclone suction, tank track to avoid slipping or getting stuck and an iOS and Android app to control it and you have a very desirable floor cleaning robot — but is it overkill? At more than $1000 it will be available early next year and you can pre-order now even if you only want it to hack. See it in action in the video."Link to Original Source
writes "Here's a new idea.
You might have heard of aids that keep a driver from falling asleep by detecting how alert they are but what about the same idea applied to programmers. In this case the object isn't to stop a crash, well it sort of is, but a bug.
Microsoft Researcher Andrew Begel, together with academic and industry colleagues have been trying to detect when developers are struggling as they work, in order to prevent bugs before they are introduced into code. A paper presented at the 36th International Conference on Software Engineering, reports on a study conducted with 15 professional programmers to see how well an eye-tracker, an electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor, and an electroencephalography (EEG) sensor could be used to predict whether developers would find a task difficult. Difficult tasks are potential bug generators and finding a task difficult is the programming equivalent of going to sleep at the wheel.
Going beyond this initial investigation researchers now need to decide how to support developers who are finding their work difficult. What isn’t known yet is how developers will react if their actions are approaching bug-potential levels and an intervention is deemed necessary. Presumably the nature of the intervention also has to be worked out. So next time you sit down at your coding station consider that in the future they may be wanting to wire you up just to make sure you aren't a source of bugs. And what could possibly be the intervention?"Link to Original Source
writes "The constant war to jailbreak and patch iOS has taken another step in favor of the jailbreakers. Georgia Tech researchers have found a way to jailbreak the current version of iOS. What the Georgia Tech team has discovered is a way to break in by a multi-step attack. After analysing the patches put in place to stop previous attacks, the team worked out a sequence that would jailbreak any modern iPhone. The team stresses the importance of patching all of the threats, and not just closing one vulnerability and assuming that it renders others unusable as an attack method.
It is claimed that the hack works with any iOS 7.1.2 using device including the iPhone 5s.
It is worth noting that the The Device Freedom Prize (https://isios7jailbrokenyet.com/) for an open source jailbreak of iOS7 is still unclaimed and stands at just over $30,000.
The details are to be revealed at the forthcoming Black Hat USA (August 6 & 7 Las Vegas) in a session titled Exploiting Unpatched iOS Vulnerabilities for Fun and Profit:"Link to Original Source
writes "After seven days the Jibo project has over $1.1 million. What is surprising is that Jibo isn't a complex piece of hardware that will do the dishes and pick up clothes. It doesn't move around at all. It just sits and interacts with the family using a camera, microphones and a voice. It is a social robot, the speciality of the founder, MIT's, Cynthia Breazeal. The idea is that this robot will be your friend, take photos, remind you of appointments, order takeaway and tell the kids a story. If you watch the promo video then you can't help but think that this is all too polished and the real thing will fall flat on its face when delivered. If it does work then worry about the hundreds of kids needing psychiatric counselling — shades of Robbie in I, Robot. Even if it is hopelessly hyped — there is a development system and I want one. It is the early days of the home computer all over again."Link to Original Source
writes "The Raspberry Pi foundation has just announced the Raspberry Pi B+ and the short version is — better and the same price.
With over 2 million sold the news of a RPi upgrade is big news. The basic specs haven't changed much, same BC2835 and 512MB of RAM and the $35 price tag. There are now four USB ports which means you don't need a hub to work with a mouse, keyboard and WiFi dongle. The GPIO has been expanded to 40 pins but don't worry you can plug your old boards and cables into the lefthand part of the connector and its backward compatible. As well as some additional general purpose lines there are two designated for use with I2C EEPROM. When the Pi boots it will look for custom EEPROMs on these lines and optionally use them to load Linux drivers or setup expansion boards. What this means is that expansion boards can now include identity chips that when the board is connected configures the Pi to make use of them — no more manual customization.
The change to a micro SD socket is nice, unless you happen to have lots of spare full size SD cards around. It is also claimed that the power requirements have dropped by half to one watt which brings the model B into the same power consumption area as the model A. This probably still isn't low enough for some applications and the forums are no doubt going to be in full flow working out how to reduce the power even further.
There are some other minor changes, comp video is now available on the audio jack and the audio quality has been improved. But one big step for Raspberry Pi is that it now has four holes for mounting in standard enclosures — this really lets the Pi go anywhere.
http://www.raspberrypi.org/int..."Link to Original Source
writes "Due to its importance in the history of computing the UK's Computer Conservation Society embarked on a 4-year project to build a replica of EDSAC. The main challenge facing the team of volunteers who are working on the rebuild is the lack of documentation. There are almost no original design documents remaining so the rebuild volunteers have to scrutinize photographs to puzzle out which bits go where.
However, three years into the project a set of 19 detailed circuit diagrams have come to light and been handed to the EDSAC team by John Loker a former engineer in the University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory.
"I started work as an engineer in the Maths Lab in 1959 just after EDSAC had been decommissioned. In a corridor there was a lot of stuff piled up ready to be thrown away, but amongst it I spotted a roll of circuit diagrams for EDSAC. I'm a collector, so I couldn't resist the urge to rescue them. "
In the main the documents confirm that the team has been correct in most of its re-engineering assumptions, but the drawings have thrown up a few surprises. The most significant discrepancy between the original and the reconstruction that the papers reveal is in the "initial orders" (boot ROM in modern terminology). In the absence of fuller information, the reconstruction team had considered and rejected one possibility which was in fact the one that was used by the original engineers. That will now be rectified in the reconstruction which is due for completion in later 2015."Link to Original Source
writes "Udacity has announced a new credential designed to appeal to employers and those wanting to embark on a high-tech career. The program will launch with nanodegrees for entry-level Front-End Web Developers, Back-End Web Developers, and Mobile iOS Developers.
In his announcement of this new initiative, which continues the career-readiness theme that distinguishes Udacity from other MOOC providers, Sebastian Thrun describes a nanodegree as delivering:
"a new kind of compact, hands-on, and flexible online curriculum. They are designed to help you effectively learn the most in-demand skills, when you need them, so that you can land your dream job."
The cost of a nanodegree is expected to be about $200 per month and one is expected to take between 6-12 month to complete with a time commitment of 10 hours per week. Scholarships are expected to be available for "underrepresented students""Link to Original Source