New HyperThreading Flaw Affects Intel 6th And 7th Generation Skylake and Kaby Lake-Based Processors ( 128

MojoKid writes: A new flaw has been discovered that impacts Intel 6th and 7th Generation Skylake and Kaby Lake-based processors that support HyperThreading. The issue affects all OS types and is detailed by Intel errata documentation and points out that under complex micro-architectural conditions, short loops of less than 64 instructions that use AH, BH, CH or DH registers, as well as their corresponding wider register (e.g. RAX, EAX or AX for AH), may cause unpredictable system behavior, including crashes and potential data loss. The OCaml toolchain community first began investigating processors with these malfunctions back in January and found reports stemming back to at least the first half of 2016.

The OCaml team was able pinpoint the issue to Skylake's HyperThreading implementation and notified Intel. While Intel reportedly did not respond directly, it has issued some microcode fixes since then. That's not the end of the story, however, as the microcode fixes need to be implemented into BIOS/UEFI updates as well and it is not clear at this time if all major vendors have included these changes in their latest revisions.


US Spy Satellite Buzzes ISS ( 121

The spy satellite that SpaceX launched about six weeks ago appears to have buzzed the International Space Station in early June. The fly-by was made by a dedicated group of ground-based observers who continued to track the satellite after it reach outer space. Ars Technica reports: One of the amateur satellite watchers, Ted Molczan, estimated the pass on June 3 to be 4.4km directly above the station. Another, Marco Langbroek, pegged the distance at 6.4km. "I am inclined to believe that the close conjunctions between USA 276 and ISS are intentional, but this remains unproven and far from certain," Molczan later wrote. One expert in satellite launches and tracking, Jonathan McDowell, said of the satellite's close approach to the station, "It is not normal." While it remains possible that the near-miss was a coincidence due to the satellite being launched into similar orbit, that would represent "gross incompetence" on the part of the National Reconnaissance Office, he said. Like the astronaut, McDowell downplayed the likelihood of a coincidence. Another option is that of a deliberate close flyby, perhaps to test or calibrate an onboard sensor to observe something or some kind of activity on the International Space Station. "The deliberate explanation seems more likely, except that I would have expected the satellite to maneuver after the encounter," McDowell said. "But it seems to have stayed in the same orbit."

Switzerland Votes To Abandon Nuclear Power In Favor of Renewables ( 383

Slashdot reader bsolar writes: Swiss voters approved a new energy strategy proposed by the government. Under this new policy no new nuclear power plant will be built and the five existing nuclear power plants will continue operating and will be shut down at the end of their operating life (expected to last about 20-30 years). The plan is to offset the missing nuclear energy production by renewables and lower energy consumption.
Though one-third of the country's power comes from nuclear energy, the BBC reports that more than 58% of the voters "backed the move towards greener power sources." One Swiss news site notes that "regions where the country's five nuclear reactors are situated rejected the reform with clear majorities."

Draft Horses Are Helping Upgrade Cell Towers In Wisconsin ( 96

Companies that provide cell phone service are constantly racing to provide the most reliable signal. In Wisconsin, one of the providers has turned to a surprising option to get the job done: draft horses. From a report on NPR: The horses are helping U.S. Cellular upgrade equipment on about 200 cell towers in Wisconsin, some of which are served by hard-to-navigate access roads. "We call them roads. They're more of a path," says Brandi Vandenberg, the company's regional planning manager for engineering. "So when you don't have a firm structure to travel on, any type of inclement weather can make it a challenge." Wisconsin's deep snow and heavy rains can make the access roads all but impassable for trucks. Vandenberg says with construction planned at so many tower sites, the company has a tight timetable for delivering equipment and scheduling technicians to install it. Jason Agathen, a driver for CH Coakley, the logistics company hired to coordinate the tower upgrades, knows how tricky the access roads can be. Agathen has delivered thousands of pounds of electronics gear to the cell tower sites. One trip, he says, involved snow so deep it blew the transmission on an ATV. So the company hired farmer Jason Julian of Medford, Wisc., and his draft horses to keep the tower upgrades on track.

ISPs Could Take Down Large Parts of Bitcoin Ecosystem If They Wanted To ( 72

An anonymous reader writes: A rogue ISP could take down large parts of the Bitcoin ecosystem, according to new research that will be presented in two weeks at the 38th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in San Jose, USA. According to the researchers, there are two types of attack scenarios that could be leveraged via BGP hijacks to cripple the Bitcoin ecosystem: hijacking mining proceeds, causing double-spending errors, and delaying transactions. These two (partition and delay) attacks are possible because most of the entire Bitcoin ecosystem isn't as decentralized as most people think, and it still runs on a small number of ISPs. For example, 13 ISPs host 30% of the entire Bitcoin network, 39 ISPs host 50% of the whole Bitcoin mining power, and 3 ISPs handle 60% of all Bitcoin traffic. Currently, researchers found that around 100 Bitcoin nodes are the victims of BGP hijacks each month.

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Handle Interruptions At Work? 224

This question was inspired by this anonymous submission: Analysis of programming sessions and surveys note that programmers take 10-15 minutes to resume editing code after being interrupted. Computer scientists and researchers from University of Zurich and ABB Inc. have designed the 'FlowLight' system which automatically determines a worker's interruptibility using a combination of keyboard/mouse usage, calendar information, and login state, and makes interruptibility visible to other employees using a red/yellow/green LED indicator placed near the desk... Knowledge workers in various locations found that interruptions were significantly reduced by 46%. [PDF]
NBC reports these researchers "also tested a more advanced version that uses biometric sensors to detect heart rate variability, pupil dilation, eye blinks or even brainwave activity," and of course one of the researchers tells the New Yorker that a commercial version "is 'in the works.'" But it'd be interesting to hear from Slashdot's readers about their own solutions -- and how interruptions affect their own productivity at work. So share your best answers in the comments. How do you feel about interrupt

Debian Update: Stretch Frozen, Bug-Squashing Parties Planned ( 55

"Debian project leader Mehdi Dogguy has written a status update concerning the work going on for the first two months of 2017," reports Phoronix. An anonymous reader quotes their report: So far this year Debian 9.0 Stretch has entered its freeze, bug squashing parties are getting underway for Stretch, the DebConf Committee is now an official team within Debian, a broad Debian Project roadmap is in the early stages of talk, and more.
Bug-Squashing Parties have been scheduled this week in Germany and Brazil, with at least two more happening in May in Paris and Zurich, and for current Debian contributors, "Debian is willing to reimburse up to $100 (or equivalent in your local currency) for your travel and accommodation expenses for participating in Bug Squashing Parties..." writes Dogguy, adding "If there are no Bug Squashing Parties next to your city, can you organize one?"

Scientists Blast Antimatter Atoms With a Laser For The First Time ( 115

For the first time, researchers from Indiana University were able to blast antimatter atoms with a laser to measure the light emitted from the anti-atoms. The researchers hope to answer one of the big mysteries of our universe: Why, in the early universe, did antimatter lose out to regular old matter? NPR reports: "The first time I heard about antimatter was on Star Trek, when I was a kid," says Jeffrey Hangst, a physicist at Aarhus University in Denmark. "I was intrigued by what it was and then kind of shocked to learn that it was a real thing in physics." He founded a research group called ALPHA at CERN, Europe's premier particle physics laboratory near Geneva, that is devoted to studying antimatter. That's a tricky thing to do because antimatter isn't like the regular matter you see around you every day. At the subatomic level, antimatter is pretty much the complete opposite -- instead of having a negative charge, for example, its electrons have a positive charge. And whenever antimatter comes into contact with regular matter, they both disappear in a flash of light. In the journal Nature, his team reports that they've now used the special laser to probe this antimatter. So far, what they see is that their anti-hydrogen atoms respond to the laser in the same way that regular hydrogen does. That's what the various theories out there would predict -- still, Hangst says, it's important to check. "We're kind of really overjoyed to finally be able to say we have done this," he says. "For us, it's a really big deal." From the journal Nature: "Researchers at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory outside Geneva, trained an ultraviolet laser on antihydrogen, the antimatter counterpart of hydrogen. They measured the frequency of light needed to jolt a positron -- an antielectron -- from its lowest energy level to the next level up, and found no discrepancy with the corresponding energy transition in ordinary hydrogen."

Proud Cyborg Athletes Compete In The World's First Cybathlon ( 19

IEEE Spectrum reports: Last Saturday, in a sold-out stadium in Zurich, Switzerland, the world's first cyborg Olympics showed the world a new science-fiction version of sports. At the Cybathlon, people with disabilities used robotic technology to turn themselves into cyborg athletes. They competed for gold and glory in six different events... [B]y skillfully controlling advanced technologies, amputees navigated race courses using powered prosthetic legs and arms. Paraplegics raced in robotic exoskeletons, bikes, and motorized wheelchairs, and even used their brain waves to race in the virtual world...
the_newsbeagle writes: While the competitors struggled with mundane tasks like climbing stairs, those exertions underlined the point: "Like the XPrize Foundation, the Cybathlon's organizers wanted to harness the motivating power of competition to spur technology development...they hoped to encourage inventors to make devices that can eventually provide winning moves beyond the arena."

None of Your Pixelated or Blurred Information Will Stay Safe On The Internet ( 139

The University of Texas at Austin and Cornell University are saying blurred or pixelated images are not as safe as they may seem. As machine learning technology improves, the methods used to hide sensitive information become less secure. Quartz reports: Using simple deep learning tools, the three-person team was able to identify obfuscated faces and numbers with alarming accuracy. On an industry standard dataset where humans had 0.19% chance of identifying a face, the algorithm had 71% accuracy (or 83% if allowed to guess five times). The algorithm doesn't produce a deblurred image -- it simply identifies what it sees in the obscured photo, based on information it already knows. The approach works with blurred and pixelated images, as well as P3, a type of JPEG encryption pitched as a secure way to hide information. The attack uses Torch (an open-source deep learning library), Torch templates for neural networks, and standard open-source data. To build the attacks that identified faces in YouTube videos, researchers took publicly-available pictures and blurred the faces with YouTube's video tool. They then fed the algorithm both sets of images, so it could learn how to correlate blur patterns to the unobscured faces. When given different images of the same people, the algorithm could determine their identity with 57% accuracy, or 85% percent when given five chances. The report mentions Max Planck Institute's work on identifying people in blurred Facebook photos. The difference between the two research is that UT and Cornell's research is much more simple, and "shows how weak these privacy methods really are."

Google Tests A Software That Judges Hollywood's Portrayal of Women 321

Slashdot reader theodp writes: Aside from it being hosted in a town without a movie theater, the 2016 Bentonville Film Festival was also unusual in that it required all entrants to submit "film scripts and downloadable versions of the film" for judgment by "the team at Google and USC", apparently part of a larger Google-funded research project with USC Engineering "to develop a computer science tool that could quickly and efficiently assess how women are represented in films"...

Fest reports noted that representatives of Google and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy appeared in a "Reel vs. Real Diversity" panel presentation at the fest, where the importance of diversity and science to President Obama were discussed, and the lack of qualified people to fill 500,000 U.S. tech jobs was blamed in part on how STEM careers have been presented in film and television... In a 2015 report on a Google-sponsored USC Viterbi School of Engineering MacGyver-themed event to promote women in engineering, USC reported that President Obama was kept briefed on efforts to challenge media's stereotypical portrayals of women. As for its own track record, Google recently updated its Diversity page, boasting that "21% of new hires in 2015 were women in tech, compared to 19% of our current population"....
The Internet

The World's First Web Site Celebrates 25 Years Online ( 136

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Twenty-five years ago, the first public website went live. It was a helpful guide to this new thing called the World Wide Web. The minimalist design featured black text with blue links on a white background. It's still online today if you'd like to click around and check out the frequently asked questions or geek out over the technical protocols.
Its original URL was, where CERN is now also offering a line-mode browser simulator and more information about the birth of the web. CNN is also hosting screenshots of nine web "pioneers", including the Darwin Awards site, the original Yahoo, and the San Francisco FogCam, which claims to be the oldest webcam still in operation.

What are some of the first web sites that you remember reading? (Any greybeards remember when the Internet Movie Database was just a Usenet newsgroup where readers collaborated on a giant home-made list of movie credits?)

Popular BitTorrent Search Engine Site Mysteriously Disappears ( 118

monkeyzoo writes: Softpedia reports that, the internet's biggest BitTorrent meta-search engine, has mysteriously and suddenly shut down. Visitors of the website see a simple message that reads, "Torrentz was a free, fast and powerful meta-search engine combining results from dozens of search engines." Trying to run a search, or clicking any link on the site changes that message to "Torrentz will always love you. Farewell." The main .EU domain, as well as all backup domains (.ME, .CH, and .IN), have the same message. The reason for the disappearance is mysterious, but there is speculation that admins decided to pull the plug on their own and avoid any future legal problems in the wake of increasing legal pressure on The Pirate Bay and the arrests related to KickassTorrents. It also cannot be ruled out that the site was hacked.

Pod Planes Could Change Travel Forever ( 298

Max_W writes: Every year we hear about people dying in plane crashes. This does not have to continue as there is a new revolutionary pod plane design [in the works via the Clip-Air project]. A passenger pod is not heavy because it does not contain fuel, engines, avionics, etc., so in case of an accident it can be ejected and land on parachutes. The obstacle to this new invention is that the whole obsolete airport and airline infrastructure must be rebuilt. So what? Shall we continue to get killed because it is easier to produce aircraft with a design from 1950s? The Clip-Air project is created by Switzerland's Federal Polytechnic Institute and consists of the flying component, which includes airframe, cockpit and engines, and the capsules, which are a number of detachable pods that can act as cabin or cargo hold, depending on the chosen configuration. What's particularly noteworthy about them is that they can allow passengers to board capsules well before a flight, and at a location besides an airport, such as a local bus station. As with any concept, many years of research and tests will be needed to validate the concept and turn it into a reality. Claudio Leonardi, manager of the Clip-Air project, and his team are preparing to build a small-scale Clip-Air prototype. They have already initiated some contacts with the aerospace industry.

CO2 Levels Likely To Stay Above 400PPM For The Rest of Our Lives, Study Shows ( 331

An anonymous reader writes: A new study from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere are likely to remain above 400 parts per million (ppm) for many years. Specifically, scientists forecasted that levels would not dip below 400pm in "our lifetimes." The CO2 concentrations of "about 450ppm or lower are likely to maintain warming below 2 degrees Celsius over the 21st century relative to pre-industrial levels." However, lead author on the paper Richard Betts said we could pass that number in 20 years or less. In an article on The Guardian, he said even if we reduce emissions immediately, we might be able to delay reaching 450ppm but "it is still looking like a challenge to stay below 450ppm." El Nino has played a significant role in climbing carbon dioxide levels, but it's likely we'll see higher CO2 levels than the last large El Nino storm during 1997 and 1998 because "manmade emissions" have risen by 25 percent since that storm, according to The Guardian. Met Office experts predicted in November 2015 that in May 2016 "mean concentrations of atmospheric CO2" would hit 407.57ppm -- the actual figure was 407.7ppm. The NOAA reported during 2015 that the "annual growth rate" of CO2 in the atmosphere rose by 3.05ppm. NOAA lead scientist Pieter Tans said, "Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years. It's explosive compared to the natural processes."

CERN Releases 300TB of Large Hadron Collider Data Into Open Access ( 60

An anonymous reader writes: The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, has released 300 terabytes of collider data to the public. "Once we've exhausted our exploration of the data, we see no reason not to make them available publicly," said Kati Lassila-Perini, a physicist who works on the Compact Muon Solenoid detector. "The benefits are numerous, from inspiring high school students to the training of the particle physicists of tomorrow. And personally, as CMS's data preservation coordinator, this is a crucial part of ensuring the long-term availability of our research data," she said in a news release accompanying the data. Much of the data is from 2011, and much of it is from protons colliding at 7 TeV (teraelectronvolts). The 300 terabytes of data includes both raw data from the detectors and "derived" datasets. CERN is providing tools to work with the data which is handy.

First Bionic Fingertip Implant Delivers Sensational Results ( 26

Zothecula writes: Dennis Aabo Sorensen may be missing a hand, but he nonetheless recently felt rough and smooth textures using a fingertip on that arm. The fingertip was electronic, and was surgically hard-wired to nerves in his upper arm. He is reportedly the first person in the world to recognize texture using a bionic fingertip connected to electrodes that were surgically implanted above his stump. The device was created by scientists from the Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and Italy's Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna research institute. While it was wired to Sorensen, a machine moved it across rough and smooth plastic surfaces. Sensors in the fingertip generated electrical signals as they deformed in response to the topography of those surfaces, and transmitted those signals to the nerves in a series of electrical spikes -- this was reportedly an imitation of the "language of the nervous system." He was able to differentiate between the two surfaces with an accuracy of 96 percent.
The Military

Israel Thwarts Attempt To Smuggle Commercial Drones Into Gaza 312

An anonymous reader writes: The Jerusalem Post reports that the Shin Bet intelligence agency recently foiled an attempt to smuggle commercial multicopter drones into Gaza, Israel authorities announced on Sunday. The inspectors stopped an Israeli truck carrying toys at the Kerem Shalom Crossing, where drones of various types and sizes carrying high quality cameras were found. Additional attempts to smuggle commercial drones were intercepted by the Shin Bet in recent weeks. The drones were earmarked for use by Hamas group in Gaza. Close inspection of released images reveal what seems to be a Syma X5 FPV quadcopter. Those toy-grade multirrotors have a onboard wifi camera. Once you've downloaded the streaming app to your phone you are able to connect the on board camera to your phone and use it to give you FPV footage.
The Courts

1st Circuit Injunction Re: TSA's New Mandatory AIT Search Rule Fully Briefed ( 122

saizai writes: I just filed my reply to the TSA's opposition to an emergency motion for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order (PI/TRO) against the TSA's new policy that arbitrarily mandates some people to go through electronic strip search ("AIT"). Case website here (will be kept updated). Court order expected soon, though impossible to know for sure.

I've also released 3 FOIA docs (see 2015-12-30 update), which I submitted as exhibits:


Smallest Color Picture Ever Printed Fits Inside a Human Hair ( 52

Zothecula sends news about the tiniest color picture ever printed. Gizmag reports: "Scientists have created a picture that only fleas could truly appreciate. That's because the inkjet-printed image takes up an area no larger than the cross-section of a human hair. The picture of a few clownfish in their sea anemone home measures just 80 micrometers x 115 micrometers for a total area of 0.0092 square mm. Researchers from ETH Zurich University and the startup Scrona have been named the new holders of the Guinness World Record for the world's smallest inkjet color image, which they created using '3D Nanodrip' printing technology created at ETH Zurich."

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