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Krebs on Microsoft Suspending "Patch Tuesday" Emails and Blaming Canada 130

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
tsu doh nimh writes In a move that may wind up helping spammers, Microsoft is blaming a new Canadian anti-spam law for the company's recent decision to stop sending regular emails about security updates for its Windows operating system and other Microsoft software. Some anti-spam experts who worked very closely on Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) say they are baffled by Microsoft's response to a law which has been almost a decade in the making. Indeed, an exception in the law says it does not apply to commercial electronic messages that solely provide "warranty information, product recall information or safety or security information about a product, goods or a service that the person to whom the message is sent uses, has used or has purchased." Several people have observed that Microsoft likely is using the law as a convenient excuse for dumping an expensive delivery channel.

California Legalizes Bitcoin 162

Posted by timothy
from the finally-time-to-cash-in-your-scrip dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "California governor Jerry Brown has signed a law repealing Section 107 of California's Corporations Code, which prohibited companies or individuals from issuing money other than U.S. dollars. Before the law was repealed, not only bitcoin but everything from Amazon Coin to Starbucks Stars were techinically illegal; the law was generally not enforced."

Researchers Claim Wind Turbine Energy Payback In Less Than a Year 441

Posted by timothy
from the answer-is-blowin'-in dept.
mdsolar (1045926) writes "Researchers have carried out an environmental lifecycle assessment of 2-megawatt wind turbines mooted for a large wind farm in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. They conclude that in terms of cumulative energy payback, or the time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation, a wind turbine with a working life of 20 years will offer a net benefit within five to eight months of being brought online." Watts Up With That? has a more skeptical take on the calculations.

New Permission System Could Make Android Much Less Secure 249

Posted by Soulskill
from the this-app-is-requesting-permission-to-shock-you-with-a-tazer dept.
capedgirardeau writes: An update to the Google Play store now groups app permissions into collections of related permissions, making them much less fine grained and potentially misleading for users. For example, the SMS permissions group would allow an app access to both reading and sending SMS messages. The problem is that once an app has access to the group of permissions, it can make use of any of the allowed actions at any time without ever informing the user. As Google explains: "It's a good idea to review permissions groups before downloading an app. Once you've allowed an app to access a permissions group, the app may use any of the individual permissions that are part of that group. You won't need to manually approve individual permissions updates that belong to a permissions group you've already accepted."

Virtual DVDs, Revisited 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-virtual-laserdiscs dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: "In March I asked why Netflix doesn't offer their rental DVD service in 'virtual DVD' form -- where you can 'check out' a fixed number of 'virtual DVDs' per month, just as you would with their physical DVDs by mail, but by accessing the 'virtual DVDs' in streaming format so that you could watch them on a phone or a tablet or a laptop without a DVD drive. My argument was that this is an interesting, non-trivial question, because it seems Netflix and (by proxy) the studios are leaving cash on the table by not offering this as an option to DVD-challenged users. I thought some commenters' responses raised questions that were worth delving into further." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

Data Center With a Brain: Google Using Machine Learning In Server Farms 26

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the skynet-online dept.
1sockchuck (826398) writes "Google has begun using machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze the oceans of data it collects about its server farms and recommend ways to improve them. Google data center executive Joe Kava said the use of neural networks will allow Google to reach new frontiers in efficiency in its server farms, moving beyond what its engineers can see and analyze. Google's data centers aren't yet ready to drive themselves. But the new tools have been able to predict Google's data center performance with 99.96 percent accuracy."

Do Embedded Systems Need a Time To Die? 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the upgrade-or-perish dept.
chicksdaddy writes: "Dan Geer, the CISO of In-Q-Tel, has proposed giving embedded devices such as industrial control and SCADA systems a scheduled end-of-life in order to manage a future in which hundreds of billions of them will populate every corner of our personal, professional and lived environments. Individually, these devices may not be particularly valuable. But, together, IoT systems are tremendously powerful and capable of causing tremendous social disruption. 'Is all the technologic dependency, and the data that fuels it, making us more resilient or more fragile?' he wondered. Geer noted the appearance of malware like TheMoon, which spreads between vulnerable home routers, as one example of how a population of vulnerable, unpatchable embedded devices might be cobbled into a force of mass disruption. Geer proposes a novel solution: embedded systems that do not have a means of being (securely) managed and updated remotely should be configured with some kind of 'end of life,' past which they will cease to operate. Allowing embedded systems to 'die' will remove a population of remote and insecure devices from the Internet ecosystem and prevent those devices from falling into the hands of cyber criminals or other malicious actors, Geer argued."

Really, Why Are Smartphones Still Tied To Contracts? 482

Posted by timothy
from the be-the-change-you-want-to-see-in-the-world dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: "It's not trivial to explain why cell phone companies find it profitable to sell phones at a deep up-front discount and make it back over a two-year contract. Why don't other companies sell similarly-priced goods the same way? (And why, for that matter, has T-Mobile found it more profitable to do the opposite, selling the phone and the service separately?) I'm trying to come up with an explanation that makes realistic and consistent assumptions about the stupidity of the buying public, and still makes sense." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

Comment: Re:This is newsworthy??? (Score 1) 77

by synaptik (#46874963) Attached to: After a Long wait, GNU Screen Gets Refreshed
If by 'screen sharing' you mean VNC or RDP: that is often acceptable within a single LAN. But when VPN'ing in from home, the latency can be tiresome. With a character-based interface, there is of course still latency, but it is much less tiresome because the stream is a tiny trickle compared to the graphical modes.

Comment: Re:This is newsworthy??? (Score 2) 77

by synaptik (#46870989) Attached to: After a Long wait, GNU Screen Gets Refreshed
Terminal multiplexers such as screen and tmux still have their place. Not only do they allow you to organize your terminals by task, but they are also detachable from your console. This allows you to (example) start a build at the office, where your machine physically resides, then later from home SSH into your work machine and reattach to the tmux / screen session.

Comment: Re:Life itself is a Von Neumann machine... (Score 1) 608

by synaptik (#46844077) Attached to: Are Habitable Exoplanets Bad News For Humanity?

The problem with living crew is that-- as you mentioned-- they would evolve enough over time that they would lose interest in their original purpose. "Screw those embryonic proto-xenohumans, we xenohumans need to look out for 'Number One'."

Remember, the 'xeno-humans' would be as much our descendants as the embryos, just more removed. It's entirely possible to have far more massive populations in space than on the ground.

Hell, at some point intellectual curiosity would probably ensure the 'rebirth' of ground based humans. It'd just be after there's 10B or so space-humans in the system. As a bonus, that gives a goodly amount of time to conduct some terraforming on the target planet to improve it's suitability.

I know both groups would be evolutionary cousins. My point was: 1. A generational ship is much more expensive than a 'spore' ship containing frozen embryos.
2. If you're going to bother with a living crew, then you lose all the economy of the frozen embryos, and so why even bother with the embryos?
3. The living crew will diverge into a different, possibly-incompatible species over time, and thus their motivations may no longer be aligned with the original goal of the mission.

So: embryos w/ ship-mother, or living crew. But not both.
Finally: I assumed that we would choose our target planet well before launching, so no terraforming necessary. (But: wildlife & environmental hazards unknown.) The spore-ship would be analogous to tree pollen, floating on the wind; either it lands in a viable place, or it doesn't.)

Comment: Re:Life itself is a Von Neumann machine... (Score 1) 608

by synaptik (#46843801) Attached to: Are Habitable Exoplanets Bad News For Humanity?
Since we are talking about the distant future, I was envisioning an automated craft that acted as vessel, womb, mother, and teacher. Craft would resume gestational development once it reached orbit. Wouldn't bother landing until the children had decanted, and had been taught sufficient survival skills. Then land, and let them apply their textbook learnin's as best as they can, do-or-die.

The problem with living crew is that-- as you mentioned-- they would evolve enough over time that they would lose interest in their original purpose. "Screw those embryonic proto-xenohumans, we xenohumans need to look out for 'Number One'."

Our policy is, when in doubt, do the right thing. -- Roy L. Ash, ex-president, Litton Industries