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+ - Tiredness enhances the brain's creativity

Submitted by monkeyzoo
monkeyzoo writes: Research has found that people perform better on creative tasks when they are a bit tired than when they are fully awake. One study published in Thinking and Reason divided people into two groups (night owls and morning people) according to their answers to a questionnaire and then asked them to solve two types of problems: "analytical" math-based problems and "insight" problems that require creative thinking. Both groups of subjects did consistently better on the insight problems during their sleepier time of day. The explanation offered is that creative problem solving requires seeing things from a new point of view, and during your most productive hours of the day, your ability to focus and block out distracting thoughts is higher. When you are a bit groggy, the brain is more prone to random, passing thoughts, and these can lead to a breakthrough in solving a challenging problem.

+ - Mystery of the coldest spot in the CMB solved

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang writes: The cosmic microwave background is a thing of beauty, as not only does its uniform, cold temperature reveal a hot, dense past that began with the hot Big Bang, but its fluctuations reveal a pattern of overdensities and underdensities in the very early stages of the Universe. It’s fluctuations just like these that give rise to the stars, galaxies, groups and clusters that exist today, as well as the voids in the vast cosmic web. But effects at the surface of last scattering are not the only ones that affect the CMB’s temperature; if we want to make sure we’ve got an accurate map of what the Universe was born with, we have to take everything into account, including the effects of matter as it gravitationally grows and shrinks. As we do exactly this, we find ourselves discovering the causes behind the biggest anomalies in the sky, and it turns out that the standard cosmological model can explain it all.

+ - Bodyprint turns your smartphone's touchscreen display into a biometric scanner

Submitted by jan_jes
jan_jes writes: Recent mobile phones integrate fingerprint scanners to authenticate users biometrically and replace passwords, making authentication more convenient for users. Researchers at Yahoo Labs have created a new technology called ‘Bodyprint’ that turns your smartphone’s touchscreen display into a biometric scanner. It allows the touch sensor to scan users body parts such as ears, fingers, fists, and palms by pressing them against the display. Bodyprint implements the four-eye principle for locking sensitive documents; accessing the document requires the presence of the people involved, it may 2 or more. Another application is "it authenticates the user
by their ear for an incoming call".

+ - Tesla to announce home battery-based energy storage->

Submitted by Okian Warrior
Okian Warrior writes: Billionaire Elon Musk will announce next week that Tesla will begin offering battery-based energy storage for residential and commercial customers.

The batteries power up overnight when energy companies typically charge less for electricity, then are used during the day to power a home.

In a pilot project, Tesla has already begun offering home batteries to SolarCity (SCTY) customers, a solar power company for which Musk serves as chairman. Currently 330 U.S. households are running on Tesla's batteries in California.

The batteries start at about $13,000, though California's Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PCG) offers customers a 50% rebate. The batteries are three-feet high by 2.5-feet wide, and need to be installed at least a foot and a half off the ground. They can be controlled with a Web app and a smartphone app.

Link to Original Source

+ - Privileged malware coming to a CPU near you?->

Submitted by ArmoredDragon
ArmoredDragon writes: For the past few years, Intel has been developing a new technology called Software Guard Extensions. The gist of it is that software can be protected from snooping or manipulation from untrusted higher privileged processes, or even from processes running outside of a VM. This sounds good in principle because it could protect your trusted software from malware, especially for cloud environments where IT security is paramount. The problem however is that it is very much a double edged sword. Malware, such as that found in a botnet, could easily hide itself from any kind of scanning software, or even a white-hat hacker trying to debug it. Or even worse, entities like the NSA could potentially issue an NSL to give themselves authority to create trusted applications that are allowed to spy on protected processes, while everybody who isn't whitelisted by Intel would be placed at a major disadvantage if they ever wanted to audit such software.
Link to Original Source

+ - Teachers Might Profit From Watching This Teen Game Developer Learn ->

Submitted by Xconomy'sBT
Xconomy'sBT writes: As I interviewed this teenager who first got hooked on first-person-shooter games when he was 12, I saw lessons for teachers and educational technology companies. The pursuit of fun led Harrison Yuan to teach himself computer programming and earn $thousands on the game design site ROBLOX. He's 18 now, and headed for UCLA soon to study engineering.
Link to Original Source

+ - Pirate Bay Blockade Censors CloudFlare Customers-> 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: The blockade of the Pirate Bay by UK ISPs is causing trouble for CloudFlare customers. Several websites have been inadvertently blocked by Sky because a Pirate Bay proxy is hosted behind the same IP-addresses. In a response, CloudFlare threatened to disconnect the proxy site from its network.

Like any form of censorship web blockades can sometime lead to overblocking, targeting perfectly legitimate websites by mistake.

This is also happening in the UK where Sky’s blocking technology is inadvertently blocking sites that have nothing to do with piracy.

Link to Original Source

+ - Microsoft Opens Vulnerability Bounty Program for Spartan Browser

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa writes: As it did in the past when it tried to make Internet Explorer more secure, Microsoft has launched a new bug bounty program for Spartan browser, the default application of Windows 10 for surfing the information highway. A typical remote code execution flaw can bring between $1,500 and $15,000, and for the top payment you also need to provide a functioning exploit. The company says that it could pay even more than that, if you convince the jury on the entry quality and complexity. Sandbox escape vulnerabilities with Enhanced Protected Mode enabled, important or higher severity vulnerabilities in Spartan or its engine, and ASLR info disclosure vulnerabilities are also eligible. If you want to accept the challenge, Microsoft provides more information on how to participate.

Engadget: Portland unbans UberX->

From feed by feedfeeder
Citing violations of its hired transportation rules, the city of Portland, OR sued Uber last December and temporarily halted the ridesharing company's operations within city limits. Now, after months of haggling with civic and community leaders, Uber...
Link to Original Source

+ - Microsoft continues earning money from Linux -- increases patent licensing agree-> 1

Submitted by BrianFagioli
BrianFagioli writes: Many people — let's call them 'haters' — like to make fun of Microsoft's mobile market share with Windows Phone. True, the platform is a failure in this regard, but many users of the OS like it. Quite frankly, besides the lack of apps, Windows Phone is a rather smart and well-designed operating system.

If you choose to laugh at Microsoft over its mobile presence, feel free, but please know that Microsoft is laughing too; all the way to the bank. What you may not know is, Microsoft makes money from Android handset sales thanks to its patent portfolio. In fact, it also collects money from Chromebooks too. In other words, Microsoft is profiting from Linux, since both operating systems are based on the kernel. Today, Microsoft increases its number of patent licensing agreements, by making a deal with Qisda Corp.

Link to Original Source

+ - Buggy Win 95 code almost wrecked Stuxnet campaign->

Submitted by mask.of.sanity
mask.of.sanity writes: Super-worm Stuxnet could have blown its cover and failed its sabotage mission due to a bug that allowed it to spread to ancient Windows boxes, malware analysts say. Stuxnet was on the brink of failure thanks to buggy code allowing it to spread to PCs running older and unsupported versions of Windows, and probably causing them to crash as a result. Those blue screens of death would have raised suspicions at the Natanz nuclear lab.
Link to Original Source

+ - Cops leaned me over 18th floor balcony to get my password->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: If you want access to encrypted data on a drug dealer's digital device, you might try to break the crypto—or you might just try to break the man.

According to testimony from a police corruption trial currently roiling the city of Philadelphia, officers from an undercover drug squad took the latter route back in November 2007. After arresting their suspect, Michael Cascioli, in the hallway outside his 18th floor apartment, the officers took Cascioli back inside. Although they lacked a search warrant, the cops searched Cascioli's rooms anyway. According to a federal indictment (PDF), the officers "repeatedly assaulted and threatened [Cascioli] during the search to obtain information about the location of money, drugs, and drug suppliers."

Link to Original Source

+ - Bees prefer nectar laced with Neonicotinoids->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy writes: Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine

Neonicotinoids kill insect by overwhelming and short-circuting the insects' central nervous system (See )

Shell and Bayer started the development of Neonicotinoids back in the 1980's and 1990's

Since this new group of pesticide came to the market the bee population have been seriously devastated in regions where the pesticide are been widely used

In 2008 neonicotinoids came under increasing scrutiny over their environmental impacts starting in Germany

In 2012, studies have shown that neonicotinoid uses are linked to crash of bee population (See )

New studies, however, have discovered that bees prefer nectars that are laced with neonicotinoids, over nectars that are free of any trace of neonicotinoids (See )

According to researchers at Newcastle University the bees may "get a buzz" from the nicotine-like chemicals in the same way smokers crave cigarettes

BBC also covers this case (See )

Link to Original Source

+ - Random generator parodies vapid startup websites->

Submitted by alphadogg
alphadogg writes: A pair of Georgia Tech computer science students have created a Random Startup Website Generator that spits out a different jargon-laden startup website every time you click on the URL. Mike Bradley and Tiffany Zhang's random startup website generator "serves as a parody of startups that have websites full of vague praise and little information about their actual business, often because they have little to show in that regard."
Link to Original Source

We cannot command nature except by obeying her. -- Sir Francis Bacon