Nerval's Lobster writes "This week, Egypt caught three men in the process of severing an undersea fiber-optic cable. But Telecom Egypt executive manager Mohammed el-Nawawi told the private TV network CBC that the reason for the region's slowdowns was not the alleged saboteurs — it was damage previously caused by a ship. On March 22, cable provider Seacom reported a cut in its Mediterranean cable connecting Southern and Eastern Africa, the Middle East and Asia to Europe; it later suggested that the most likely cause of the incident was a ship anchor, and that traffic was being routed around the cut, through other providers. But repairs to the cable took longer than expected, with the Seacom CEO announcing March 23 that the physical capability to connect additional capacity to services in Europe was "neither adequate nor stable enough," and that it was competing with other providers. The repairs continued through March 27, after faults were found on the restoration system; that same day, Seacom denied that the outage could have been the work of the Egyptian divers, but said that the true cause won't be known for weeks. 'We think it is unlikely that the damage to our system was caused by sabotage,' the CEO wrote in a statement. 'The reasons for this are the specific location, distance from shore, much greater depth, the presence of a large anchored vessel on the fault site which appears to be the cause of the damage and other characteristics of the event.'"
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skade88 writes "The New York Times is reporting that the United States has started flying B-2 stealth bomber runs over South Korea as a show of force to North Korea. The bombers flew 6,500 miles to bomb a South Korean island with mock explosives. Earlier this month the U.S. Military ran mock B-52 bombing runs over the same South Korean island. The U.S. military says it shows that it can execute precision bombing runs at will with little notice needed. The U.S. also reaffirmed their commitment to protecting its allies in the region. The North Koreans have been making threats to turn South Korea into a sea of fire. North Korea has also made threats claiming they will nuke the United States' mainland."
SternisheFan points out that there is a great new panorama made from shots from the Curiosity Rover. "Sweep your gaze around Gale Crater on Mars, where NASA's Curiosity rover is currently exploring, with this 4-billion-pixel panorama stitched together from 295 images. ...The entire image stretches 90,000 by 45,000 pixels and uses pictures taken by the rover's two MastCams. The best way to enjoy it is to go into fullscreen mode and slowly soak up the scenery — from the distant high edges of the crater to the enormous and looming Mount Sharp, the rover's eventual destination."
yyzmcleod writes "Building on the work of last year's bionic creation, the Smart Bird, Festo announced that it will literally launch its latest creation, the BionicOpter, at Hannover Messe in April. With a wingspan of 63 cm and weighing in at 175 grams, the robotic dragonfly mimics all forms of flight as its natural counterpart, including hover, glide and maneuvering in all directions. This is made possible, the company says, by the BionicOpter's ability to move each of its four wings independently, as well as control their amplitude, frequency and angle of attack. Including its actuated head and body, the robot exhibits 13 degrees of freedom, which allows it to rapidly accelerate, decelerate, turn and fly backwards."
Hot on the heels of the Gtk+ 3.8 release comes GNOME 3.8. There are a few general UI improvements, but the highlight for many is the new Classic mode that replaces fallback. Instead of using code based on the old GNOME panel, Classic emulates the feel of GNOME 2 through Shell extensions (just like Linux Mint's Cinnamon interface). From the release notes: "Classic mode is a new feature for those people who prefer a more traditional desktop experience. Built entirely from GNOME 3 technologies, it adds a number of features such as an application menu, a places menu and a window switcher along the bottom of the screen. Each of these features can be used individually or in combination with other GNOME extensions."
Via the EFF comes news that, during a case involving the use of a Stingray device, the DOJ revealed that it was standard practice to use the devices without explicitly requesting permission in warrants. "When Rigmaiden filed a motion to suppress the Stingray evidence as a warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the government responded that this order was a search warrant that authorized the government to use the Stingray. Together with the ACLU of Northern California and the ACLU, we filed an amicus brief in support of Rigmaiden, noting that this 'order' wasn't a search warrant because it was directed towards Verizon, made no mention of an IMSI catcher or Stingray and didn't authorize the government — rather than Verizon — to do anything. Plus to the extent it captured loads of information from other people not suspected of criminal activity it was a 'general warrant,' the precise evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent. ... The emails make clear that U.S. Attorneys in the Northern California were using Stingrays but not informing magistrates of what exactly they were doing. And once the judges got wind of what was actually going on, they were none too pleased:"
msm1267 writes with an excerpt From Threat Post: "While the big traffic numbers and the spat between Spamhaus and illicit webhost Cyberbunker are grabbing big headlines, the underlying and percolating issue at play here has to do with the open DNS resolvers being used to DDoS the spam-fighters from Switzerland. Open resolvers do not authenticate a packet-sender's IP address before a DNS reply is sent back. Therefore, an attacker that is able to spoof a victim's IP address can have a DNS request bombard the victim with a 100-to-1 ratio of traffic coming back to them versus what was requested. DNS amplification attacks such as these have been used lately by hacktivists, extortionists and blacklisted webhosts to great success." Running an open DNS resolver isn't itself always a problem, but it looks like people are enabling neither source address verification nor rate limiting.
sfcrazy writes "Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In the pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor, or developer of Open Source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time they intend to expand the set of Google's patents covered by the pledge to other technologies." This is in addition to the Open Invention Network, and their general work toward reforming the patent system. The patents covered in the OPN will be free to use in Free/Open Source software for the life of the patent, even if Google should transfer ownership to another party. Read the text of the pledge. It appears that interaction with non-copyleft licenses (MIT/BSD/Apache) is a bit weird: if you create a non-free fork it appears you are no longer covered under the pledge.
ananyo writes "Nature has published an investigation into the real costs of publishing research after delving into the secretive, murky world of science publishing. Few publishers (open access or otherwise-including Nature Publishing Group) would reveal their profit margins, but they've pieced together a picture of how much it really costs to publish a paper by talking to analysts and insiders. Quoting from the piece: '"The costs of research publishing can be much lower than people think," agrees Peter Binfield, co-founder of one of the newest open-access journals, PeerJ, and formerly a publisher at PLoS. But publishers of subscription journals insist that such views are misguided — born of a failure to appreciate the value they add to the papers they publish, and to the research community as a whole. They say that their commercial operations are in fact quite efficient, so that if a switch to open-access publishing led scientists to drive down fees by choosing cheaper journals, it would undermine important values such as editorial quality.' There's also a comment piece by three open access advocates setting out what they think needs to happen next to push forward the movement as well as a piece arguing that 'Objections to the Creative Commons attribution license are straw men raised by parties who want open access to be as closed as possible.'"
Garner Products (which doesn't use that motto as far as we know), at a security conference. While most exhibitors were busily preserving or encrypting data one way or another, Garner was not only destroying data but delighting in it. And yes, they've really been doing this since 1959; they started out degaussing broadcast cartridges so broadcasters could re-use them without worrying about old cue tones creeping into new recordings. Now, you might ask, "Instead of spending $9,000 or more to render hard drives useless, couldn't you just use a $24 sledge hammer? And have the fun of destroying something physical as a free bonus?" Yes, you could. You'd get healthy exercise as well, and if you only wanted to destroy the data on the hard drives, so what? New drives are cheap these days. But some government agencies and financial institutions require degaussing before the physical destruction (and Garner has machines that do physical destruction, too -- which is how they deal with SSDs). Garner Products President Ron Stofan says in the interview that their destruction process is more certain than shooting a hard drive with a .45. But neither he nor Tim demonstrated a shooting vs. degaussing test for us, so we remain skeptical.
adeelarshad82 writes "After being tweaked and polished for months with the help of feedback from pro gamers and enthusiasts alike, Razer's Project Fiona has finally come of age. Re-named as Razer Edge Pro, this gaming tablet is way more than a mere plaything. Razer Edge Pro is a beast which packs a dual-core Intel Core i7-3517U Ivy Bridge processor with 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE graphics card with 2GB of dedicated memory. All this in a small 7 by 11 by 0.8 inches wide frame which weighs only 2.14 pounds. Comparing the Razer Edge to anything else is tough, considering that it doesn't necessarily have a true competitor. However in a series of performance comparisons with other powerful tablets and ultraportable gaming laptops, Razer Edge performed better than the tablets but wasn't at par with ultraportable gaming laptops. For instance when comparing scores from 3DMark 11, the Edge Pro scored 2,503 points at entry settings and 504 points in extreme mode putting it ahead of both competing tablets, the Microsoft Surface Pro (1,055 Entry, 206 Extreme) and Samsung ATIV SmartPC (1,044 Entry, couldn't run at Extreme mode), but behind the gaming-focused laptops, like the the Maingear Pulse 11 (3,868 Entry, 724 Extreme) and the Razer Blade (3,458 Entry, 716 Extreme). What's baffling is that with all accessories incuded (gamepad dock and the console dock) the final price of the tablet is a cool $1,870, which most expensive than not only the two tablets tested but also the two gaming gaming laptops compared. It remains to be seen whether the Razer Edge Pro is something special or just on the edge of it."
A while ago you had the chance to ask James Randi, the founder of The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), about exposing hucksters, frauds, and fakers. Below you'll find his answers to your questions. In addition to his writings below, Randi was nice enough to sit down and talk to us about his life and his foundation. Keep an eye out for those videos coming soon.
RougeFemme writes "This is a fascinating story about a man who sold shares in himself, primarily to fund his start-up ideas. He ran into the same issues that companies run into when taking on corporate funding — except that in his case, the decisions made by his shareholders bled over into his personal life. This incuded his relationship with his now ex-girlfriend, who became a shareholder activist over the issue of whether or not he should have a vasectomy. The experiment continues." The perils of selling yourself to your friends.
Professor_Quail writes "Following a successful 2012 fundraising campaign, the FreeBSD Foundation is soliciting the submission of project proposals for funded development grants. Proposals may be related to any of the major subsystems or infrastructure within the FreeBSD operating system, and will be evaluated based on desirability, technical merit, and cost-effectiveness. The proposal process is open to all developers (including non-FreeBSD committers), and the deadline for submitting a proposal is April 26th, 2013." The foundation is currently funding a few other projects, including UEFI booting support.
netbuzz writes "A federal judge in Texas, presiding over a district notorious for favoring patent trolls, has summarily dismissed all claims relating to a case brought by Uniloc USA against Rackspace for [Linux] allegedly infringing upon [Uniloc's] patents. Red Hat defended Rackspace in the matter and issued a press release saying: 'In dismissing the case, Chief Judge Leonard Davis found that Uniloc's claim was unpatentable under Supreme Court case law that prohibits the patenting of mathematical algorithms. This is the first reported instance in which the Eastern District of Texas has granted an early motion to dismiss finding a patent invalid because it claimed unpatentable subject matter.'" You can't patent floating point math after all.
moon_unit2 writes "Tech Review has a story about a garage in Ingolstadt, Germany, where the cars park themselves. The garage is an experiment set up by Audi to explore ways that autonomous technology might practically be introduced; most of the sensor technology is built into the garage and relayed to the cars rather than inside the cars themselves. It seems that carmakers see the technology progressing in a slightly different way to Google, with its fleet of self-driving Prius. From the piece: 'It's actually going to take a while before you get a really, fully autonomous car,' says Annie Lien, a senior engineer at the Electronics Research Lab, a shared facility for Audi, Volkswagen, and other Volkswagen Group brands in Belmont, California, near Silicon Valley. 'People are surprised when I tell them that you're not going to get a car that drives you from A to B, or door to door, in the next 10 years.'"
Yesterday, Sony gave a presentation explaining a bit about the new PS4 hardware, the development environment (Windows 7 based IDE), and the changes to the Dual Shock controller. From the article: "The system is also set up to run graphics and computational code synchronously, without suspending one to run the other. Norden says that Sony has worked to carefully balance the two processors to provide maximum graphics power of 1.843 teraFLOPS at an 800Mhz clock speed while still leaving enough room for computational tasks. The GPU will also be able to run arbitrary code, allowing developers to run hundreds or thousands of parallelized tasks with full access to the system's 8GB of unified memory. ... The DualShock 4 controller that's standard on the PS4 eliminates one feature that was seldom used on the PS3 —the analog face buttons..." The trackpad will support two touch points, the rumble motors can be controlled more finely, and the analog sticks were tweaked for "reduced dead zone and better feeling tension that grips your thumbs."
curtwoodward writes "Venture capitalists like to project the image of wise kingmaker, financial alchemists who have a unique gift for spotting the Next Big Thing. They do not like having anyone see data about their performance, which has been generally lackluster over the past decade. This can be a problem, however, when VCs cash big checks from investors at public pension funds — taking taxpayer money sometimes comes with public disclosure. That's the crux of a court fight happening in California, where the state's massive university system is resisting attempts by the Reuters news organization to decode a complex shell game intended to hide the return data of two giants of Silicon Valley: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital."
damitr writes "With a lot of fanfare the Indian Government had launched a $35 tablet named Aakash (The Sky). Despite skepticism, the government went ahead with the project. But delays in production and deployment of the tablet have left the project in risk of failure. The manufacturer has been unable to supply the required 100,000 units, and a deadline of March 31 has been set. The new minister Pallam Raju says: 'Aakash is only a tablet... there are other such devices as well. While work will continue to develop it and increase its productivity, manufacturing is obviously a problem.'" For what it's worth, they did manage to ship 17,000 of them. It looks like meeting the deadline is impossible and the $35 tablet is dead.
angry tapir writes "When Oracle purchased Sun, many in the open source community were bleak about the future of MySQL. According to MySQL co-creator Michael "Monty" Widenius, these fears have been proven by Oracle's attitude to MySQL and its community. In the wake of the Sun takeover, Monty forked MySQL to create MariaDB, which has picked up momentum (being included by default in Fedora, Open SUSE and, most recently, Slackware). I recently interviewed Monty about what he learned from the MySQL experience and the current state of MariaDB."
Zothecula writes "Given that scientists are already looking to sea sponges as an inspiration for body armor, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that foam is also being considered ... not just any foam, though. Unlike regular foam, specially-designed nanofoams could someday not only be used in body armor, but also to protect buildings from explosions."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "BBC reports that the Brazilian Association of Supermarkets, representing 2,800 members, says it will no longer sell meat from cattle raised in the rainforest, a step they hope will cut down on the illegal use of rainforest where huge swathes have been turned into land for pasture and soy plantations. Public Prosecutor Daniel Cesar Azeredo Avelino says consumers will benefit from the deal. 'The agreement foresees a series of specific actions to inform the consumer about the origin of the meat both through the internet and at the supermarkets,' says Azeredo. 'We hope that the big chains will quickly take action.' The supermarkets' pledge comes as part of an initiative by the Public Prosecutor's Office to deprive the meat producers of outlets and an internet campaign aimed at informing Brazilian consumers of the ethics of boycotting meat from Amazonian sources is also planned. Brazil's Greenpeace advocacy group says the growth of the cattle industry in the Amazon is the single biggest cause of deforestation. For decades now, Brazilian authorities have battled illegal logging and other activities that continue to reduce the rainforest and in January the Brazilian government announced it plans to prepare an inventory of the trees in the Amazon rainforest. The Forestry Ministry said the census would take four years to complete and would provide detailed data on tree species, soils and biodiversity in the world's largest rainforest. The last such exhaustive survey was conducted more than three decades ago but didn't help stop deforestation."
judgecorp writes "British Airways' Ungrounded project proposes to shut 100 Silicon Valley 'gamechangers' in a trans-Atlantic plane and ask them to solve the world's tech skills crisis during a 12-hour flight to London. On arrival, the passengers will head into a conference where they will present their ideas to, among others, the UN. From the article: 'Ungrounded, as the project is called, will bring 100 “innovators” (Silicon Valley CEOs, thinkers and venture capitalists) on a private BA flight from San Francisco to London. During the flight, they will take part in a “global hack” run by Ideo, a design firm which has made mice for Microsoft and Apple.'"
HungWeiLo writes "A California man who believes the literal interpretation of the Bible is real is offering $10,000 to anyone who can successfully debunk claims made in the book of Genesis in front of a judge. Joseph Mastropaolo, the man behind this challenge, is to put $10,000 of his own money into an escrow account. His debate opponent would be asked to do the same. They would then jointly agree on a judge based on a list of possible candidates. Mastropaolo said that any evidence presented in the trial must be 'scientific, objective, valid, reliable and calibrated.' For his part, Mastropaolo has a Ph.D. in kinesiology and writes for the Creation Hall of Fame website, which is helping to organize the minitrial. It's also not the first such trial he's tried to arrange. A previous effort, known as the 'Life Science Prize,' proposed a similar scenario. Mastropaolo includes a list of possible circuit court judges to oversee the trial and a list of those he challenged to take part on the evolutionary side of the debate."