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Submission + - How Chris Christie Could Use the NSA Playbook to Defend Himself over Bridgegate

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Conor Friedersdorf has written a tongue-in-cheek article in The Atlantic advising New Jersey Governor Chris Christie how he can use the NSA playbook to successfully defend himself of the charges that a senior member of his staff was involved in shutting down George Washington Bridge traffic, a stunt meant to punish the mayor of an affected town for opposing his reelection. Christie's NSA-inspired explanation would include the following points: There are almost 9 million people in New Jersey, and only one was targeted for retribution, an impressively tiny error rate lower than .001 percent; The bridge closure was vital to national security because [redacted]; Since the George Washington Bridge is a potential terrorist target, everything that may or may not have happened near it is a state secret; Going after a political rival is wrong but it's important to put this event in context; Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich was the only target of non-compliant behavior. No other Fort Lee resident was ever targeted for retribution, and any delays that any Fort Lee resident experienced were totally inadvertent and incidental; Finally a panel will be formed to figure out how to restore the public's faith in Chris Christie. "To some readers, these talking points may seem absurd or deliberately misleading," concludes Friedersdorf, "but there isn't any denying that so far they're working okay for the NSA."

Submission + - Mars One studying how to maintain communications with Mars 24/7 (

braindrainbahrain writes: Mars One, the low credibility effort to colonize Mars, is at least funding some interesting concept studies for their alleged plan to colonize the red planet. One of the most interesting is the effort to maintain uninterrupted communications with Mars. This is not as trivial as it may sound, as any satellite in Martian orbit will still have to deal with occultations between Mars and Earth due to the Sun. Surrey Satellite Technology will be performing the study.

Submission + - Samsung, Apple Agree to try Mediation in Patent Disputes (LA Times) (

An anonymous reader writes: The smartphone and tablet rivals will work with a mediator in an effort to settle their patent disputes in advance of a second trial on the issues scheduled for this spring, according to Bloomberg News. The agreement, filed in federal court in San Jose today, was in response to U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh’s request in November that both sides submit a settlement discussion proposal before trial. Senior legal executives at the companies met Jan. 6 to discuss “settlement opportunities,” according to the proposal. The companies agreed to retain a mediator “who has experience mediating high profile disputes,” according to the filing, which doesn’t name the person. The chief executive officers and three to four company lawyers, but no outside lawyers, will attend the mediation before Feb. 19, according to the filing.

Submission + - New class of "hypervelocity stars" discovered escaping the galaxy (

Science_afficionado writes: Astronomers have discovered a surprising new class of “hypervelocity stars” that are moving at more than a million miles per hour, fast enough to escape the gravitational grasp of the Milky Way galaxy. The 20 hyper stars are about the same size as the sun and, other than their extreme speed, have the same composition as the stars in the galactic disk. The big surprise is that they don't seem to come from the galaxy's center. The generally accepted mechanism for producing hypervelocity stars relies on the extreme gravitational field of the supermassive black hole that resides in the galaxy's core. So the discovery means that astrophysicists must come up with an entirely new method for speeding stars to hypervelocities.

Submission + - IBM patents encryption technique to run unencyrpted VMs and programs ( 1

WillAffleckUW writes: Infoworld reports IBM has a patent on an encryption method that, if implemented, allows you to process encrypted data without having to decrypt it first.

Called "fully homomorphic encryption," this encryption method patent may result in software products in the near future.

Normally, encrypted data must be decrypted entirely before any math or programming operations can be run. Homomorphic encryption (HE), however, lets you perform math directly on the encrypted data and have the results show in the underlying data.

From a security viewpoint, there is no need to decrypt any data and expose it to attack.Supposedly, programs (or entire VMs) could run while encrypted and exchange encrypted data between themselves while running.

Bruce Schneier in 2009 pointed out this is not a new technique: "Visions of a fully homomorphic cryptosystem have been dancing in cryptographers' heads for thirty years."

Schneier pointed out this technique could take longer to tun, but IBM claims that Victor Shoup and Shai Halevi of tT. J. Watson Research Center, claim to have taken Gentry's original breakthroughs and implemented them practically, with a released open source, GPL-licensed C++ library to perform HE, mostly meant for researchers working on HE.

"Hopefully in time we will be able to provide higher-level routines," writes Halevi.

Bob Gourley of writes, "I have seen nothing in any of the research that makes me think a solution can be put in place that cannot be defeated by bad guys. And if that can’t be done then the solution will not solve any problems, it will just add processing overhead."

Since the implemented may not be that efficient, IBM has public challenges for its HE schemes, allowing successful attacks on the Gentry-Halevi implementation of HE to be examined in detail.

Submission + - Quantum Mechanics Forbids the Expansion of Spacetime at Scales Smaller than 60m (

KentuckyFC writes: In the late 1990s, astronomers discovered that not only is the universe expanding but the rate of expansion is increasing. In other words, every galaxy in the cosmos is accelerating away from us. Since then, cosmologists have been intensely interested in studying the effect in more detail. Now one astrophysicist has calculated that quantum mechanics places important limits on how the expansion can be observed. The conclusion comes from a simple thought experiment. Imagine two quantum particles in an accelerating universe like the one we live in. As the universe expands, the separation between these particles increases, an effect that is measurable by their redshift (which is how astronomers measure the movement of distant galaxies). However, quantum mechanics naturally introduces some uncertainty into the position of both particles which can swamp any distance changes caused by cosmic acceleration. And the critical distance at which this uncertainty becomes important is 60 metres. That means there is no measurement, even in principle, that could unambiguously reveal cosmic expansion on scales smaller than 60 metres or so. And there is no sense in which a region of space can be said to expand on these smaller scales. That's interesting because it is the first theory to predict a natural boundary between the quantum and cosmic scales and also predict the scale at which this happens.

Submission + - A Beautiful Mind and Broken Body for Silicon Valley (

pacopico writes: About 30 years ago, a young Marine and math savant named Ramona Pierson was out for a run when she got hit by a drunk driver and had her body shattered. As Businessweek reports, Pierson ended up in coma for 18 months, came out blind and emaciated and was sent to live in an old folks home. Her remarkable story takes off from there to include bike racing through Russia, a PhD in neuroscience, a stint fixing Seattle's public schools and now Declara, a social network run by Pierson and funded by billioniare Peter Thiel, who put the original money into Facebook. One of the more original start-up tales to have ever come out of Silicon Valley or really anywhere.

Submission + - Undiscovered Country of HFT: FPGA JIT Ethernet packet assembly

michaelmalak writes: In a technique that reminds me of the just-in-time torpedo engineering of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, a company called Argon Design has "developed a high performance trading system" that puts an FPGA — and FPGA-based trading algorithms — right in the Ethernet switch. And it isn't just to cut down on switch/computer latency — they actually start assembling and sending out the start of an Ethernet packet simultaneously with receiving and decoding incoming price quotation Ethernet packets, and decide on the fly what to put in the outgoing buy/sell Ethernet packet. They call these techniques "inline parsing" and "pre-emption."

Submission + - 'Lightsaber Molecules' Discovered (

An anonymous reader writes: Harvard and MIT Scientists have reportedly discovered a new form of matter termed 'photonic molecules.' By passing lasers through a chamber with pumped-in rubidium molecules, the researchers have coerced photons into behaving like mass-y particles, including interacting with each other.

"It's not an in-apt analogy to compare this to light sabers", Lukin, one of the researchers states, "When these photons interact with each other they're pushing against and deflect each other. The physics of what's happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies."

Sensationalism or really breakthrough science?

Submission + - The Big Hangup at Burning Man Are Cell Phones

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: L. J. Williamson writes in the LA Times that with no running water, no plumbing, and no electrical outlets Burning Man isn't the kind of place to expect full bars on your smartphone and for many of the participants that's a big part of its charm. "If you want to partake in the true Burning Man experience, you should leave your phone at home," says Mark Hansen. In past years, the closest cellular towers, designed to serve the nearby towns of Empire (population 206) and Gerlach (population 217), would quickly get overwhelmed each August when Black Rock City (population 50,000 or so) rose from the featureless playa. Although Burning Man attracts a sizable Silicon Valley contingent including tech giants like Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin — the feeling of being "unplugged" has become an integral part of the Burning Man experience. But another part of the event is an intrepid, DIY ethos, and in that spirit, David Burgess, co-creator of OpenBTS, an open-source cellular network software, brought a homemade in 2008, an "almost comical" setup that created a working cellular network that routed a few hundred calls over a 48-hour period. In each subsequent year, Burgess has improved the system's reach and expects to have about three-quarters of this year's event covered. Burning Man proved an ideal test bed for development of Burgess' system, which he has since made available for use in other areas without cellular networks. "People who have a lot of experience in international aid say Burning Man is a very good simulation of a well-organized refugee camp," says Burgess. "Because there's no infrastructure, it forces us to contend with a lot of problems that our rural customers have to contend with in very remote places."

Submission + - The World Fair of 2014 according to Asimov (from 1964) ( 2

Esther Schindler writes: If you ever needed evidence that Isaac Asimov was a genius at extrapolating future technology from limited data, you'll enjoy this 1964 article in which he predicts what we'll see at the 2014 world's fair. For instance:

Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence. The I.B.M. exhibit at the present fair has no robots but it is dedicated to computers, which are shown in all their amazing complexity, notably in the task of translating Russian into English. If machines are that smart today, what may not be in the works 50 years hence? It will be such computers, much miniaturized, that will serve as the "brains" of robots. In fact, the I.B.M. building at the 2014 World's Fair may have, as one of its prime exhibits, a robot housemaid*large, clumsy, slow- moving but capable of general picking-up, arranging, cleaning and manipulation of various appliances. It will undoubtedly amuse the fairgoers to scatter debris over the floor in order to see the robot lumberingly remove it and classify it into "throw away" and "set aside." (Robots for gardening work will also have made their appearance.)

General Electric at the 2014 World's Fair will be showing 3-D movies of its "Robot of the Future," neat and streamlined, its cleaning appliances built in and performing all tasks briskly. (There will be a three-hour wait in line to see the film, for some things never change.)

It's really fun (and sometimes sigh-inducing) to see where he was accurate and where he wasn't. And, of course, the whole notion that we'd have a world's fair is among the inaccurate predictions.

Submission + - Tencent's WeChat dubbed threat to national security by security researchers (

hypnosec writes: Mobile apps security researchers have claimed that WeChat, a messaging app developed by Tencent, is a threat to national security as China could be potentially spying on Indian citizens as well as all users across the globe. According to Jiten Jain and Abhay Agarwal, who presented their findings at The Hackers Conference in New Delhi, India, the free messaging app doesn't employ the best of encryption and security technologies, which leaves personal information of its users vulnerable to theft. To prove their point the researchers went onto demonstrate the ease with which the messages sent using WeChat can be decrypted and logged, indirectly indicating that service providers as well foreign governments could be doing the same thing for spying and surveillance purposes.

Submission + - Using Pulsars As GPS - A Space Navigation System Fit For A Starship? (

cold fjord writes: Science Codex reports, "CSIRO scientists have written software that could guide spacecraft to Alpha Centauri, ... Dr George Hobbs (CSIRO) and his colleagues study pulsars — small spinning stars that deliver regular 'blips' or 'pulses' of radio waves and, sometimes, X-rays. Usually the astronomers are interested in measuring, very precisely, when the pulsar pulses arrive in the solar system. Slight deviations from the expected arrival times can give clues about the behaviour of a pulsar itself, ... "But we can also work backwards," said Dr Hobbs. "We can use information from pulsars to very precisely determine the position of our telescopes." "If the telescopes were on board a spacecraft, then we could get the position of the spacecraft." Observations of at least four pulsars, every seven days, would be required. ... A paper (paywalled) describing in detail how the system would work has been accepted for publication by the journal Advances in Space Research." Related story.

Comment Re:Add DNS for "legitimate" sites (Score 2) 122

My post certainly wasn't meant to recommend that it should be attempted! It was intended to reply to the OP's comment that:

If mainstream media sites get (automatically) blocked then perhaps the backlash might force TPTB into either removing the requirement to block or require the ISPs to use a blocking mechanism with less potential for collateral damage.

Blocking "mainstream media sites" would upset journalists more and get far more publicity. TPTB probably care more about their own sites being available and not having to pay more staff to do the work by hand. Either way, this will probably be fixed within the week.

Answering your actual question: perhaps, but I seriously doubt the torrent site will care much either way since they can no doubt get away with blaming Sky or the content industry for the blocks anyway. The cynical view is that they'd get far more self-promotion that way too...

Comment Re:Add DNS for "legitimate" sites (Score 2) 122

If they were aiming for truly evil exploitation of automated blocking, they wouldn't block any of those. They'd get the DVLA tax disc renewal site blocked instead and, given the automatic fines now, you'd easily upset a twelfth of Sky's userbase who'd need to switch back to manual methods. Alternatively, you'd aim to block HMRC in late January and block the rare people doing tax-returns at the last minute...

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