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Submission + - Hacker Teaches iPhone Forensics to Police

Ponca City, We love you writes: "The Mercury News reports that former hacker Jonathan Zdziarski has been tapped by law-enforcement agencies nationwide to teach them just how much information is stored in iPhones — and how to get it. "These devices are people's companions today," says Zdziarski. "They're not mobile phones anymore. They organize people's lives. And if you're doing something criminal, something about it is probably going to go through that phone." For example, every time an iPhone user closes out of the built-in mapping application, the phone snaps a screenshot and stores it. Savvy law-enforcement agents armed with search warrants can use those snapshots to see if a suspect is lying about whereabouts during a crime. Even people who don't take pictures or leave GPS coordinates behind often unwittingly leave other trails. "Like the keyboard cache," says Zdziarski, author of "iPhone Forensics" published by O'Reilly Media. "The iPhone logs everything that you type in to learn autocorrect" so that it can correct a user's typing mistakes. Apple doesn't store that cache very securely, so someone with know-how could recover months of typing in the order in which it was typed, even if the e-mail or text it was part of has long since been deleted. "It may look like everything's gone," says Sam Brothers, a cell-phone forensic researcher. "But for anybody who's got a clue, retrieving that information is easy.""

Submission + - Battlefield 2 Video Game - Modern Combat Review (amazon.com)

cynrowley writes: Great arcade-style fast paced action game. Just be prepared for some odd graphic issues while you play.

The gameplay involves a squad of soldiers moving through a well laid out cityscape. You can see the dirt on the window panes, the signs along the road, the icicles on the rooflines. You play in various weather conditions and deal with fire, smoke, and other environmental distractions.

It's amazing that we have gotten so "spoiled" that we take all of that for granted, and can complain about small anomalies. For example, we found it greatly amusing that when you shoot a jeep, it blows into a million tiny shards and vanishes completely. We also laughed when you shot an enemy soldier and apparently your bullets are "bone-dissolving" because they collapse like a jello-creature.

Still, that hardly takes away from the real gameplay. Your squad each has different weapons and capabilities, and in an ability I found REALLY cool, you can instant-teleport from one to the other as long as you can establish a sight-line. It was like having cosmic vampiric abilities. Also, to add to replayability, there are a ton of special medals and bonus points you can get, for things like achieving the longest hot-swap, doing long jeep jumps, and destroying all of the road signs.

There is some strategy involved here. You can't just run down the road blasting and expect to survive. You have to take cover, move along carefully and take your shot when it's clear. That being said, you don't have the squad level of command that some other games feature. You can't get an overhead view and set your guys up in formation, planning things out at a "manager" level. Your guys have reasonably good AI and act as best they can. If you want one of them to do something in particular, you have to "take them over".

The soundtrack is reasonably good — it gives a underlying 'movie feel' to the game without really intruding on gameplay. The soldier chatter that goes on is on one hand done reasonably well, but on the other hand it gets tiresome after a while. I'd almost like the ability to toggle between 'chatty' comrades at the beginning of the game down to 'pensive and quiet' ones near the end of the game.

This game of course has an online component to it. It's funny how some people feel online is the "only way" to play a game — while thousands of other people don't have online connections and honestly don't want them. I've played a ton of online XBox games, but also love playing solo. In any case, if you WANT to play online, you have to make sure your net connection as tuned as possible. The game supports 24 simultaneous players so as you can imagine the potential for lag is incredible. Find players that have top notch connections and make sure yours is as high speed as possible as well.

The Internet

Submission + - GoDaddy up for sale (reuters.com)

Rambo Tribble writes: Reuters reports that GoDaddy, the world's largest domain name registrar, has put itself up for sale. The sale is expected to amount in the neighborhood of $1 billion.

Submission + - Child abuse verdict held back by MS Word glitch? (publico.pt)

An anonymous reader writes: Last week several defendants including one high-profile TV presenter were sentenced in Portugal to jail sentences in what has been known as the Casa Pia scandal. The judges delivered on Set3 a summary of the 2000 page verdict, which would be disclosed in full only 3 days later. The disclosure of the full verdict has been postponed from Set8 to an yet-to-be-announced date, allegedly because the full document was written in several MS Word files which, when merged together, retained "computer related annotations which should not be present in any legal document". Microsoft specialists were called in to help the judges sort out the "text formatting glitch", while the defendants and their lawyers eagerly waits to access the full text of the verdict.

Submission + - Use for Wisdom Teeth: Making Stem Cells

An anonymous reader writes: For most people, wisdom teeth are not much more than an annoyance that eventually needs to be removed. However, a new study appearing in the September 17 Journal of Biological Chemistry shows that wisdom teeth contain a valuable reservoir of tissue for the creation of stem cells; thus, everyone might be carrying around his or her own personal stem-cell repository should he or she ever need some. Groundbreaking research back in 2006 revealed that inducing the activity of four genes in adult cells could "reprogram" them back into a stem-cell-like state; biologically, these induced-pluripotent stem cells are virtually identical to embryonic stem cells, opening up a new potential avenue for stem-cell therapy whereby patients could be treated with their own stem cells.

Submission + - Judge allows subpoenas for Internet users (skunkpost.com)

crimeandpunishment writes: A federal judge has ruled that the company holding a movie copyright can subpoena the names of people who are accused of illegally downloading and distributing the film. The judge ruled that courts have maintained that once people convey subscriber information to their Internet service providers, they no longer have an expectation of privacy.

Submission + - DLL hole now affects EXE files

Jazzbunny writes: It turns out that the DLL vulnerability (Binary Planting) under Windows was only the tip of the iceberg. DLL libraries aren't the only things that are seem to be vulnerable; EXE files also appear to be affected and the DLL workarounds proposed by Microsoft do not help.

In a security advisory for the recently updated Safari browser, security service provider ACROS explains the problem. Attackers first save an HTML file and a manipulated file called explorer.exe on a drive. When the victim opens the HTML file with Safari, nothing happens initially, but the file does contain a link to a URI that starts with "file://", which causes Windows to try to start Windows Explorer (explorer.exe). Unfortunately, Windows loads the explorer.exe within the containing folder (the network share) and executes it.

For further details, see ACROS' Binary Planting Goes EXE.

Submission + - Boeing Hummingbird drone crashes in Belize (suasnews.com)

garymortimer writes: Still not reported elsewhere, Flight International reports another crash of the Boeing Hummingbird helicopter UAV.

The Hummingbird A160 is in development, but test flights already demonstrate successively greater endurance, higher altitudes, more extensive autonomy, and greater payload. The program has ambitious goals of a 2,500-mile (4,000 km) range, 24-hour endurance, and 30,000 ft (9,100 m) altitude. Flights are largely autonomous, with the aircraft making its own decisions about how to fly itself so as to meet certain objectives, rather than relying on real-time human control. Maximum speeds are over 140 knots. The aircraft is 35 ft (11 m) from nose to tail and has a rotor diameter of 36 ft (11 m).[2] Until recently it was powered by modified Subaru automotive engines, but newer versions fly with the Pratt & Whitney PW207D turboshaft.

Submission + - India's $35 Android 7-in Tablet to Hit in Jan '11 (tomshardware.com) 2

indogiree writes: Link: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/india-android-tablet-35-indiapad,11255.html

"Engadget reports that India has just awarded the manufacturing contract to HCL Technologies. The first shipment will supposedly only contain the 7-inch model and is set to arrive on January 10. It's unclear if the $35 price has stuck or whether India's been successful in plans to eventually drive the price down to $10 with the help of large orders and government subsidies."

Additional Info: http://nexus404.com/Blog/2010/09/11/sakshat-tablet-from-india-gets-a-release-date-the-cheap-tablet-from-india-will-be-officially-out-by-january-10-2011/

"HCL Technologies plans to initially produce 100,000 units. Among the key features of this India-based tablet include 2GB of RAM, web-conferencing, PDF reader unzip, WiFi, camera and USB connectivity.

The Sakshat tablet will be available in an array of screen sizes. It will come out in 5, 7 and 9 screen sizes."

Desktops (Apple)

Submission + - "Objective-C for Absolute Beginners" review (jbhannah.net)

jbhannah writes: "I'm pretty much right in the target audience for "Objective-C for Absolute Beginners: iPhone, iPad, and Mac Programming Made Easy" (Apress, 2010) although I do have a fair amount of programming experience in numerous other languages (including other C-like languages), but then it does have a very wide audience: it can be very useful if you're new to any one of

* Programming
* Object-oriented programming
* Objective-C or programming on a Mac
* iOS/Mac OS X/Cocoa programming

then you'll find at the very least a few chapters to be of use. If you're new to programming entirely, start at the very beginning and work through all of the Alice examples, which are written very effectively as an introduction to the process of how computer programs are put together and run and as a primer to understanding objects. If you've done some programming but never used Xcode and are new to Objective-C, or if you're new to object-oriented programming but have a solid understanding of things such as loops, data types, and pseudocode, then you can skip the Alice examples. One thing, though, that most people reading this book should make sure to go over, is the explanation in the first few chapters of the development process for an app, with an emphasis on the importance of getting the design right; the idea being that just anyone can throw an app together, make sure it works well enough, and put it on the app store, but the apps that do well are the ones which look good AND work well. Several different ways of doing design mockups are suggested, none of which in particular I can recommend over the others: try the ones that interest you, and figure out for yourself which you prefer.

The pattern followed for the first four chapters is, roughly, “writing” a program in Alice to understand the flow of the program, and then writing it in Objective-C using Xcode to gain an understanding of the more trivial aspects of programming, and to become familiar with the Xcode interface and utilities such as the debugger; and for those who have never done any programming, this is a very good way to begin to wrap one's head around what are basic but often confusing concepts to beginning programmers. Those who have done some programming and understand the basic concepts will find these chapters to be a good review, and will also appreciate the primer in using Xcode and the Objective-C language. The fifth chapter is a very standard, but thorough explanation of how object-oriented programming works, and a brief example of how it's used in Objective-C; if you worked your way through the first four chapters, or if you skipped them because you already are familiar with the concepts and C-like syntax (e.g. if you already have a fair amount of experience with C, C++, or Java), you should definitely read chapter 5.

Chapter 6 feels almost like the beginning of a whole new book: it takes you back through the history of Xcode and Objective-C, and starts you off with a second “Hello World” app before jumping more deeply into object-oriented programming in chapter 7. These chapters are probably where experienced C/C++/Java programmers who are new to Cocoa (such as myself) would want to start (the Xcode interface is intuitive enough for someone who has spent most of their programming life in Emacs to be able to, if not necessarily like it, at least figure out how things work). From there you learn all of the core concepts of Objective-C in depth: objects, methods, instance variables and properties, and the Cocoa classes and data types that are used in every iOS/OS X program. Each chapter has interesting and well-written code examples with which to follow along, and exercises at the end of each chapter which let you more practically apply the concepts introduced within the chapter (rather than simply regurgitating them).

Even though the subtitle is “iPhone, iPad, and Mac Programming Made Easy,” the Interface Builder isn't even introduced until chapter 10. Chapters 11 and 12 are dedicated to memory and pointers, and the Xcode debugger, and can be skipped or skimmed if you already have an understanding of pointers from C or C++, or experience with GDB or debugging in Eclipse, Visual Studio, or another IDE, respectively. Chapter 14 is an interesting look at how to use the various services and protocols provided by Cocoa, doing so with a CoreLocation example.

Chapter 13, however, is something that I have found to be a gem and a rarity especially among beginning programming books: how to save data. Core Data, once understood, is very intuitive and useful; but almost every other introductory programming book barely even says so much as how to write raw data into and read back from plain text files. Chapter 13 of this book not only teaches how to use Core Data for storage of information, but also how to save and retain preferences—both things which are are often overlooked in other beginning Objective-C books. The problem with overlooking preferences and Core Data is that just about every app idea conceived by the sort of people who buy these books, who do so to learn how to turn their own app ideas into working programs, requires storing data and preferences; books that leave out those components leave the developer to their own devices to either slog through the documentation or Google results for tutorials, or buying extra books trying to find one that explains how to store data and preferences.

The book is not without its typos, but there are screenshots of much of the code for at least the first few chapters, and any others can be considered as an exercise in debugging and understanding the syntax. The authors have also made available an online forum for discussion of the book, answers to the exercises, and for people learning from the book to get help from each other. (I haven't used this forum myself, but I've found Google and various online communities of forums, mailing lists, and IRC chat rooms to be some of the best sources of help to turn to, and learning how to use any and all of these resources is critical for any beginning programmer.) Some extra proofreading and technical reviewing would not have been a bad idea, but it's nothing that an observant reader wouldn't be able to get past. Overall I give Objective-C for Absolute Beginners a 9 out of 10, knocking off the one point for want of better proofreading, but otherwise it's an excellent introduction to the world of Cocoa development for Mac OS X and iOS."


Mars Global Surveyor Died from Single Bad Command 141

wattsup writes "The LA Times reports that a single wrong command sent to the wrong computer address caused a cascade of events that led to the loss of the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft last November. The command was an orientation instruction for the spacecraft's main communications antenna. The mistake caused a problem with the positioning of the solar power panels, which in turned caused one of the batteries to overheat, shutting down the solar power system and draining the batteries some 12 hours later. 'The review panel found the management team followed existing procedures in dealing with the problem, but those procedures were inadequate to catch the errors that occurred. The review also said the spacecraft's onboard fault-protection system failed to respond correctly to the errors. Instead of protecting the spacecraft, the programmed response made it worse.'"

Cassini Probes the Hexagon On Saturn 280

Riding with Robots sends us to a NASA page with photos of a little-understood hexagonal shape surrounding Saturn's north pole. "This is a very strange feature, lying in a precise geometric fashion with six nearly equally straight sides," said Kevin Baines, member of Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team. "We've never seen anything like this on any other planet." This structure was discovered by the Voyager probes over 20 years ago (here's an 18-year-old note on the mystery). The fact that it's still in place means it is stable and long-lived. Scientists have no idea what causes the hexagon. It's nearly big enough to fit four earths inside — comfortably larger than Jupiter's Great Red Spot. The article has an animation of clouds moving within the hexagon captured in infrared light.

Submission + - New teeny tiny RFID chips

paltemalte writes: "Hitachi has just come out with a new crop of RFID tags, measuring only 0.05 x 0.05 millimeters. Compare that with the previously smallest chips at 0.4 x 0.4 millimeters. The new chips width is slightly smaller than the width of a human hair. These new chips could put an end to shoplifting forever, but they could also be used by a government or other entity to 'dust' crowds or areas, easily tagging anyone present without their knowledge or consent. Think easy tracking of dissenters or demonstrators. Will someone come up with a surefire way of neutralizing chips that may be on your body or in your clothing?"

Submission + - Microsoft's Love Letter to IBM

Andy Updegrove writes: "Microsoft decided to escalate the OOXML/ODF air wars yesterday by sending IBM a "valentine," posted as an open letter at the Microsoft Interoperability Web page. In that letter, Microsoft recalls its passive role during the adoption by ISO/IEC of ODF forcefully accuses IBM of waging a global, hypocritical campaign to thwart the approval of OOXML in JTC 1. The action is hardly surprising, and from a strategic point of view even overdue. Till now, Microsoft has taken the position that many of the comments offered in JTC1 during the contradictions phase will prove to be neutral, or even positive, but soon they will become public. If they turn out to be strongly negative, Microsoft will need to revert to a Plan B, such as a plot by IBM "to limit customer choice," which is exactly what Microsoft appears to have decided to do."

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The means-and-ends moralists, or non-doers, always end up on their ends without any means. -- Saul Alinsky