cold fjord writes with news that the NY Times website was disrupted by hackers Tuesday afternoon. "In an interview, Mr. Frons said the attack was carried out by a group known as 'the Syrian Electronic Army, or someone trying very hard to be them.' The group attacked the company’s domain name registrar, Melbourne IT. The Web site first went down after 3 p.m.; once service was restored, the hackers quickly disrupted the site again." The Times wasn't the only site to be attacked: "Earlier today, a Twitter account allegedly belonging to the Syrian Electronic Army, a pro-Syrian-regime hacker collective, claimed to have taken over The New York Times website, Huffington Post UK's website and Twitter.com, by hacking into each of the site's registry accounts." The group was definitely able to change contact info for Twitter's domain. The Wall Street Journal notes that this is the same group that targeted media organizations a few months back. "When the SEA hacked the Twitter account of the Associated Press earlier this year, it posted a false headline to the account that said the White House had been attacked. The hoax caused U.S. stock markets to briefly lose $200 billion in value."
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CWmike writes "Windows app developers are taking Microsoft to task for the company's decision to withhold Windows 8.1 until mid-October. Traditionally, Microsoft offers an RTM to developers several weeks before the code reaches the general public. On Tuesday, however, Microsoft confirmed that although Windows 8.1 has reached RTM, subscribers to MSDN will not get the final code until the public does on Oct. 17, saying it was not finished. Antoine Leblond, a Microsoft spokesman, said in a blog post, 'In the past, the release to manufacturing milestone traditionally meant that the software was ready for broader customer use. However, it's clear that times have changed.' Developers raged against the decision in comments on another Microsoft blog post, one that told programmers to write and test their apps against Windows 8.1 Preview, the public sneak peak that debuted two months ago. One commenter, 'brianjsw,' said, 'In the real world, developers must have access to the RTM bits before [general availability]. The fact that Microsoft no longer seems to understand this truly frightens me.'"
sciencehabit writes "The XPrize Foundation has scrapped its high-profile $10 million genomics challenge set for next month after attracting only two competitors to the sequencing contest. The Archon Genomics XPRIZE began with much fanfare 7 years ago with the aim of boosting medical genomics by offering a $10 million award to the first team to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days for no more than $10,000 each. After complaints about the tight deadline and unclear judging criteria, the foundation revised the rules in October 2011: The objective was to sequence the genomes of 100 centenarians with high accuracy and 98% completeness within 30 days for $1000 or less. Interest was tepid, however, and only two of the eight contenders in the original contest registered by the 31 May deadline — the company Ion Torrent, and George Church's lab at Harvard University."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Linux vendors Red Hat and SUSE are pushing to make sure Linux-based virtual machines are an important part of datacenter-based hybrid clouds. The two are taking significantly different tacks toward the same destination, however. SUSE is using the visibility and cloud hype of VMware by extending its partnership with the virtualization provider to promote its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for VMware as an alternative operating system for virtual machines running on VMware's vCloud Hybrid Service. Red Hat is happy to include VMware in its plans, but isn't limiting itself either to VMware-based clouds or, in fact, the idea that a Linux vendor has to tag along with a cloud- or virtualization developer to find its place in mixed infrastructures. 'We do not buy into the premise that a private or a hybrid platform based on one vendor's technologies and products is the answer,' wrote Bryan Che, general manager of Red Hat's Cloud Business Unit. More than 25 percent of customers want clouds or datacenter infrastructures using virtualization products from more than one vendor, according to a buyers' guide published in August by market researcher IDC."
New submitter the eric conspiracy sends this quote from NBC: "An outbreak of measles tied to a Texas megachurch where ministers have questioned vaccination has sickened at least 21 people, including a 4-month-old infant — and it's expected to spread further, state and federal health officials said. 'There's likely a lot more susceptible people,' said Dr. Jane Seward, the deputy director for the viral diseases division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ... All of the cases are linked to the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas, where a visitor who'd traveled to Indonesia became infected with measles – and then returned to the U.S., spreading it to the largely unvaccinated church community, said Russell Jones, the Texas state epidemiologist. ... Terri Pearsons, a senior pastor of Eagle Mountain International said she has had concerns about possible ties between early childhood vaccines and autism. In the wake of the measles outbreak, however, Pearsons has urged followers to get vaccinated and the church has held several vaccination clinics. ... 'In this community, these cases so far are all in people who refused vaccination for themselves and their children,' [Steward] added. The disease that once killed 500 people a year in the U.S. and hospitalized 48,000 had been considered virtually eradicated after a vaccine introduced in 1963. Cases now show up typically when an unvaccinated person contracts the disease abroad and spreads it upon return to the U.S."
An anonymous reader writes "Kickstarter's helped start all sorts of indie games, but few as unusual as Lacuna Passage, an adventure game set on Mars with a vast open world that's been painstakingly recreated from NASA satellite data. You're able to explore twenty five square miles of the Red Planet in all its barren glory as you attempt to solve the mystery of the first, vanished, manned mission to mars. A new piece today on the making of the game — which is being made by an elementary school teacher and a team of a dozen volunteers — looks at how it came about, and why their quest for authenticity led to even urine analysis being included in the gameplay."
Lucas123 writes "Nissan today said it will begin demonstrating autonomous vehicle technology on its all-electric Leaf this year, and plans to begin selling multiple models of self-driving cars by 2020. Nissan said it's already building an autonomous drive proving ground in Japan. Its goal is availability across the model range within two vehicle generations. The car company, which is among several others and Google in developing autonomous driving tech, is currently working with top universities, including MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Oxford and The University of Tokyo, to develop its self-drive technology."
Kelly Beatty has a unique perspective on the world of astronomy: Beatty's been on the staff of Sky & Telescope magazine for nearly 40 years as a writer and editor, including a stint heading "Night Sky" magazine. He's also written what's been called "the definitive guide for the armchair astronomer," and teaches astronomy to people of all ages. (He even has an asteroid named after him.) Besides being fascinated with the objects we can see in Earth's skies, Beatty takes the skies themselves seriously: his Twitter handle is NightSkyGuy for a reason. We talked a few weeks ago, in dark-skied rural Maine, about his involvement with the International Dark-Sky Association, and why you should care about ubiquitous light pollution, even if you don't have a deep interest in star-gazing. (And it's not just to be courteous to your neighbors.)
the_newsbeagle writes "This DARPA-funded smartphone app is designed to monitor veterans for signs of depression and PTSD. It screens for signals of psychological distress in a number of ways; for example, the app looks for signs of social isolation (reduced number of phone calls and texts), physical isolation (the phone isn't leaving the house), and sleep disruption (the phone is used in the middle of the night). Interestingly, the company that invented the app was testing it in Boston at the time of the Boston marathon bombing, and reports that the app picked up signals of distress in the days after the attack."
An anonymous reader writes "Opening a fascinating set of ethical and legal issues, researchers at UW Seattle have demonstrated the first device to allow direct communication between two humans' brains. Effectively, they allowed a subject to play a video game with another subject's fingers. For now, the communication is uni-directional, though they intend to extend it to bi-directional. EEG sensors are attached to a subject's motor cortex to detect 'motor imagery' — imagined hand movement, in this case. That activity is translated and sent over a computer network where it triggers a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator (TMS) located over Subject 2's motor cortex. Effectively, Subject 1 imagines moving their hand, and Subject 2's hand moved."
An anonymous reader writes "New Tesla owner and Executive DIrector of Cloud Computing at Dell, George Reese, brings the Tesla Model S REST API authentication into question. 'The authentication protocol in the Tesla REST API is flawed. Worse, it's flawed in a way that makes no sense. Tesla ignored most conventions around API authentication and wrote their own. As much as I talk about the downsides to OAuth (a standard for authenticating consumers of REST APIs—Twitter uses it), this scenario is one that screams for its use.' While not likely to compromise the safety of the vehicle, he does go on to say, 'I can target a site that provides value-added services to Tesla owners and force them to use a lot more electricity than is necessary and shorten their battery lives dramatically. I can also honk their horns, flash their lights, and open and close the sunroof. While none of this is catastrophic, it can certainly be surprising and distracting while someone is driving.'"
ananyo writes "The association between science and morality is so ingrained that merely thinking about it can trigger more moral behavior, according to a study by researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara. The researchers hypothesized that there is a deep-seated perception of science as a moral pursuit — its emphasis on truth-seeking, impartiality and rationality privileges collective well-being above all else. The researchers conducted four separate studies to test this. In the first, participants read a vignette of a date-rape and were asked to rate the 'wrongness' of the offense before answering a questionnaire measuring their belief in science. Those reporting greater belief in science condemned the act more harshly. In the other three, participants primed with science-related words were more altruistic."
cartechboy writes "Two Ph.D. students from MIT have created a keyboard accessory, the Pavlov Poke, that shocks you every time you go onto Facebook. The project comes as a result of the students finding the waste over 50 hours a week combined on the social network (instead of working on their dissertations) So the pair created an Arduino-based keyboard hand-rest that shocks computer users who spend too much time checking the social network. The hack is 'intended to generate discussion' — not actually turn into a business." Inventor Robert Morris describes it as "something of a joke," but I'm sure there's a market out there.
Jim Jagielski is likely best known as one of the developers and co-founders of the Apache Software Foundation, where he has previously served as both Chairman and President. He also is a director of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and now serves as President of the Outercurve Foundation. Formerly known as the CodePlex Foundation, the Outercurve Foundation is "a not-for-profit foundation created as a forum in which open source communities and the software development community can come together with the shared goal of increasing participation in open source community projects." Jim has agreed to answer your questions in real-time about his new position and the Outercurve Foundation itself on Wednesday, August 28th from 12-2pm ET (16:00-18:00 GMT). Check back tomorrow and hear what he has to say.
New submitter wkaan writes "Last financial year, we had an underspend at work, and it was suggested and agreed that we should give some cash away — $20k to be exact — to open source projects. Four projects were selected. A management catch was that it could not appear to be a donation and it had to be for something we had notionally received in the current financial year. At that time it was early June, our financial year finishes at the end of June. The four projects were emailed using the most relevant looking contact address on their website. Often this was 'Finance' or 'Donations' contact. What do you know, none of the projects that were contacted could work out a way to accept our money. We were unable to give a cent of the twenty grand away, not even a cent. All somebody needed to do was invoice us for something (perhaps 'support' or whatever) and they'd have received $5000. Of the projects contacted, two never replied to our mail — perhaps they thought it a scam? The other two contacted couldn't work out what to invoice and just went away. Is open source too rich to need the money? Have you got a funny donation story? Better still, do you have a way this can be streamlined when we have our next underspend? The goal was not to have a funny (sad) story, but to support the projects that support our business." For those of you with open source projects for which would you would like to take donations but sometimes cannot, what complications get in the way?
Lemeowski writes "Game studios go to great lengths to protect their IP. But board game designer Daniel Solis doesn't subscribe to that philosophy. He has spent the past ten years blogging his game design process, posting all of his concepts and prototypes on his blog. Daniel shares four things he's learned after designing games in public, saying paranoia about your ideas being stolen "is just an excuse not to do the work." His article provides a solid gut check for game designers and other creatives who may let pride give them weird expectations."
rtobyr writes "The Recorder is reporting that Nuance and partner Mofo (law firm Morrison Foerster) have lost a suit over patent infringement involving Optical Character Recognition against Russian competitor ABBYY Software House: 'Nuance had accused ABBYY Software House of infringing three of its patents and mirroring its packaging. Both companies market software that uses optical character recognition technology, or OCR, to convert scanned images of text so they can be searched and edited digitally. Represented by a team of lawyers from Morrison & Foerster and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Nuance argued that ABBYY's FineReader was little more than a copy of its signature product OmniPage. The Burlington, Mass.-based company also sued Lexmark International Inc. for its use of ABBYY's products and sought more than $100 million in total damages from the two companies. Nuance did not prevail on any claims in Nuance Communications v. ABBYY Software House, 08-0912. MoFo partner Michael Jacobs, who is co-lead counsel for Nuance with fellow MoFo partner James Bennett, declined to comment.'" Update: 08/27 18:43 GMT by T : Sorry for the paywalled link; here's a better one. Update: 08/28 16:02 GMT by T : rtobyr adds: “Sorry about the paywalled link. They must have paywalled it after I submitted the story. It was not paywalled at the time of submission.”
coastal984 writes "Yahoo! launched their latest redesign over the past couple of weeks, revamping their utilitarian Yahoo! Sports section with a new-age, modernized look, which features a much darker, graphical background, and light, larger text. Only problem is, the sports buffs that frequented Yahoo! Sports loved the basic, easy to read and comprehend presentation that the old site used (Which was a predominately plain white background, and smaller, dark text. Thousands of users took to Yahoo's uservoice page to express their discontent, begging for the old design back."
jamie writes "In a story on Thursday, Slashdot and its readers had a little fun at the expense of Al Gore, who was quoted as saying that the hurricane severity scale was going to go to 6. A correction was made the next day. The author of the piece that Slashdot linked now writes 'I retract the balance of my criticism.' Turns out Gore was misquoted. Luckily for Gore, this is the first time he's been ridiculed for something he didn't actually say. Well, except for Love Story, Love Canal, farm chores, and everyone's favorite, inventing the internet. (The original Slashdot story is here and its central link now includes the Washington Post's correction.)" From Ezra Klein's update on his earlier piece: "I'm out-of-town and so away from my tape recorder. So I asked Gore's staff about the line and they have Gore saying: 'The scientists are now adding category six to the hurricane ... some are proposing we add category 6 to the hurricane scale that used to be 1-5.' That doesn't offend my memory of the discussion and it's entirely possible I missed Gore's qualifying sentence while trying to keep up. If so, that's my fault, and I apologize."
An anonymous reader writes "The Associated Press reports that 'U.S. forces are now ready to act on any order by President Barack Obama to strike Syria, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday. The U.S. Navy has four destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea positioned within range of targets inside Syria, as well as U.S. warplanes in the region, Hagel said in an interview with BBC television during his visit to the southeast Asian nation of Brunei. Hagel also predicted that U.S. intelligence agencies would soon conclude that last week's deadly attack on civilians in a Damascus suburb was a chemical attack by Bashar Assad's government.'" The New York Times has an informative map of the sites of the chemical attacks.
An anonymous reader writes "The X.Org Foundation, which drives the X.Org Server projects, Mesa, and Wayland open-source programs, had its tax-exempt status revoked by the IRS. It turns out the X.Org Foundation had put in quite a lot of work to become a non-profit organization, with guidance from the Software Freedom Law Center. They got in trouble after failing to routinely file their taxes on time. There's also been a host of other X.Org accounting errors in recent years. There was also the recent news of the IRS going after open-source projects, too."
cold fjord writes "The Washington Post reports, 'Before American fugitive Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow in June — an arrival that Russian officials have said caught them by surprise — he spent several days living at the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong, a Moscow newspaper reported Monday. The article in Kommersant, based on accounts from several unnamed sources, did not state clearly when Snowden decided to seek Russian help in leaving Hong Kong, where he was in hiding in order to evade arrest by U.S. authorities on charges that he leaked top-secret documents about U.S. surveillance programs. ... he celebrated his 30th birthday at the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong, the paper said — though several days earlier he had had an anticipatory birthday pizza with his lawyers at a private house. ... The article implies that Snowden's decision to seek Russian help came after he was joined in Hong Kong by Sarah Harrison, a WikiLeaks staffer who became his adviser and later flew to Moscow with him. Harrison, the article suggests, had a role in the making the plans. ' More at the South China Morning Post."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Tom Worstall writes in Forbes that the only way to get around the entrenched culture that has made Microsoft a graveyard for the kind of big ideas that have inspired companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon is to split the company up so as to remove conflicts between new and old products. With Ballmer's departure, instead of finding someone new to run the company, bring in experts to handle the legal side and find suitable CEOs for the new companies. 'The underlying problem for Microsoft is that the computing market has rapidly left behind the company's basic strategy of controlling the machines that people use with operating-system software,' says Erik Sherman. 'The combination of mobile devices that broke Microsoft's grip on the client end, and cloud computing that didn't necessarily need the company in data centers, shattered this form of control.' Anyone can see how easily you could split off the gaming folks, business division, retail stores, and hardware division says John Dvorak. Each entity would have agreements in place for long-term supply of software and services. 'This sort of shake up would ferret out all the empire builders and allow for new and more creative structures to emerge. And since everyone will have to be in a semi-startup mode, the dead wood will be eliminated by actual hard work.'"
sfcrazy writes "You may be familiar with the story that a ChromeCast update disabled the playback of local content, but Google has confirmed that it will allow every kind of content. Google Statement: 'We're excited to bring more content to Chromecast and would like to support all types of apps, including those for local content. It's still early days for the Google Cast SDK, which we just released in developer preview for early development and testing only. We expect that the SDK will continue to change before we launch out of developer preview, and want to provide a great experience for users and developers before making the SDK and additional apps more broadly available.' So no need to fear!"
slew writes "Apparently none of the 24K+ students who sat for the 2013 Liberia University entrance exam got a passing mark, and fewer than a hundred managed to pass either the english (pass level 70%) or math (pass level 50%) sections required to qualify to be part of the normal class of 2k-3k students admitted every year... Historically, the pass rate has been about 20-30% and in recent years, the test has been in multiple-guess format to facilitate grading. The mathematics exam generally focuses on arithmetic, geometry, algebra, analytical geometry and elementary statistic and probability; while the English exam generally focuses on grammar, sentence completion, reading comprehension and logical reasoning. However, as a testament to the over-hang of a civil war, university over-crowding, corruption, social promotion, the admission criteria was apparently temporarily dropped to 40% math and 50% English to allow the provisional admission of about 1.6K students. And people are calling foul."