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Comment Just when you thought M$ weren't Borg after all (Score 1) 259

...turns out they are ;-} (reminiscent of the Gates icon /. used to have): 'The company has built a "biological computation" unit that says its ultimate aim is to make cells into living computers. As such, they could be programmed and reprogrammed to treat any diseases'

Global Majority Backs a Ban On 'Dark Net,' Poll Says (reuters.com) 222

Alastair Sharp reports for Reuters: Seven in 10 people say the 'dark net' -- an anonymous online home to both criminals and activists fearful of government surveillance -- should be shut down, according to a global Ipsos poll released on Tuesday. The findings, from a poll of at least 1,000 people in each of 24 countries, come as policymakers and technology companies argue over whether digital privacy should be curbed to help regulators and law enforcement more easily thwart hackers and other digital threats.

Bill Introduced To Require ID When Purchasing "Burner Phones" (house.gov) 556

insitus quotes a report from Speier.House.Gov: Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) introduced the Closing the Pre-Paid Mobile Device Security Gap Act of 2016, which would require people to present identification when purchasing "burner phones" and other pre-paid mobile devices, as well as requiring merchants to keep records of those purchases. "Burner phones" are pre-paid phones that terrorists, human traffickers, and narcotics dealers often use to avoid scrutiny by law enforcement because they can be purchased without identification and record-keeping requirements. This bill would close that legal gap. "This bill would close one of the most significant gaps in our ability to track and prevent acts of terror, drug trafficking, and modern-day slavery," said Speier. "The 'burner phone' loophole is an egregious gap in our legal framework that allows actors like the 9/11 hijackers and the Times Square bomber to evade law enforcement while they plot to take innocent lives. The Paris attackers also used 'burner phones.' As we've seen so vividly over the past few days, we cannot afford to take those kinds of risks. It's time to close this 'burner phone' loophole for good."

Petya Ransomware Uses DOS-Level Lock Screen, Prevents OS Boot Up (softpedia.com) 155

An anonymous reader writes: A new type of ransomware was discovered that crashes your PC into a BSOD, restarts your computer, and then prevents your OS from starting by altering the hard drive's master boot record (MBR). This keeps the user locked in a DOS screen that doubles as the ransomware's ransom note. The ransomware's name is Petya, and was currently seen only targeting HR departments in Germany.

Scientist Claims There's Even More Evidence of Planet Nine's Existence (theverge.com) 141

An anonymous reader cites an article on The Verge: More evidence is pointing toward a mysterious Neptune-sized planet lurking at the outer edges of our Solar System. One of the scientists who claimed in January to have found strong evidence for a ninth planet -- temporarily named 'Planet Nine' -- now says there are even more clues that support the world's existence. Mike Brown, a planetary astronomer at Caltech University, originally concluded that Planet Nine most likely exists after studying the behaviors of six objects in the Kuiper Belt -- the large cloud of icy bodies that orbit the Sun beyond Neptune. Now Brown is claiming that another Kuiper Belt object supports his theory. The object shares some of the same behavior as the other six Kuiper Belt bodies, suggesting it has also been pushed by a large planet that is between 200 and 1,200 times the distance from the Sun to Earth.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Final Beta Released 69

prisoninmate writes: Canonical pushed the first-ever public Beta ISO images of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), which the company calls "Final Beta" builds, and it looks like they ship with Linux kernel 4.4.6 LTS, the ability to move the Unity Launcher to the bottom of the screen, though, the option remains hidden, for now, the LibreOffice 5.1.1 office suite, GNOME Software as the default package manager, and GNOME Calendar as default calendar app, which supports Google Calendars as well. Official flavors like Ubuntu Studio, Kubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu GNOME, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, and Unbuntu Kylin had also participate in the Beta 2 release. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and its official flavors are currently scheduled for release on April 21, 2016. (Xenial is kind of a cool word, too.)

6 Tiny Robotic Ants, Weighing 3.5 Oz. In Total, Pull a 3900-lb. Car (nytimes.com) 130

Reader schwit1 writes about MicroTug, a team of six microrobots that weigh just 3.5 ounces (99 grams), and can move a car: Researchers at Standford University's Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Lab have developed six miniature robots that have the pulling-power to move objects 2,000 times of their own body weight. The tiny robots and their inter-coordination are based on that of ants. The microrobot uses a special kind of glue on its feet that make them serve as sticky gecko toes. "Their new demonstration is the functional equivalent of a team of six humans moving a weight equivalent to that of an Eiffel Tower and three Statues of Liberty," said David Christensen, a graduate student who is one of the authors of "Let's All Pull Together: Principles for Sharing Large Loads in Microrobot Teams paper. Researchers' fascination with gecko adhesive is nothing new. In 2010, Stanford mechanical engineer Mark Cutkosky developed a Stickybot that could climb walls. A similar robot that could roll up on smooth as well rough surfaces was demonstrated by a group of researchers in Canada in 2011.

Obama: Government Can't Let Smartphones Be 'Black Boxes' (bloomberg.com) 546

JoeyRox writes: President Obama said Friday that smartphones -- like the iPhone the FBI is trying to force Apple to help it hack -- can't be allowed to be "black boxes," inaccessible to the government. He believes technology companies should work with the government on encryption rather than leaving the issue for Congress to decide. He went on to say, "If your argument is strong encryption no matter what, and we can and should create black boxes, that I think does not strike the kind of balance we have lived with for 200, 300 years, and it's fetishizing our phones above every other value." Obama's appearance on Friday at the event known as SXSW, the first by a sitting president, comes as the FBI tries to force Apple to help investigators access an iPhone used by one of the assailants in December's deadly San Bernardino, California, terror attack. "The question we now have to ask is, if technologically it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system, where the encryption is so strong there's no key, there's no door at all, then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot?" Obama said. "If in fact you can't crack that at all, government can't get in, then everybody's walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket." He said compromise is possible and the technology industry must help design it.
United States

This Was America's Warmest Winter On Record (slate.com) 446

hondo77 writes: On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its official assessment of December, January, and February's temperatures across the United States, and the results are striking: Not a single state in the U.S. had a cooler than average winter. (NOAA treats Alaska and Hawaii separately, due to shorter weather data records there -- though both states were significantly warmer than normal this winter. Weather records for the contiguous United States go back to 1895.) NOAA blames the recent warm weather on a record-strength El Nino "and other climate patterns," most notably, global warming. As a whole, this winter in the lower 48 was about 4.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th century average: a sharp contrast to the previous back-to-back frigid polar vortex winters, especially in the Northeast.
Red Hat Software

Red Hat And FCC CIOs On the Future Of Tech (enterprisersproject.com) 25

StewBeans writes: At Evanta's recent CIO Executive Summit in Washington, D.C., two Enterprisers took the stage to discuss how CIOs can influence the future of business at the "tipping point" of technology and innovation today. David Bray, CIO of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, began the talk: "2013 was the year there was the same number of network devices on the face of the planet as there were humans -- seven billion network devices on the face of the planet, seven billion humans. Now 2015, just two years later, we're at 14 billion network devices on the face of the planet." This set the stage for a conversation on the future of technology that touched on everything from Moore's Law to the consumerization of technology, global connectivity, and mass personalization. Bray and co-presenter Lee Congdon, CIO of Red Hat, shared their predictions and insights into how all businesses will need to evolve and adapt to a future in which they have less control.

Video Gamers From the '90s Have Turned Out Mostly OK (arstechnica.com) 239

A study reported on by Ars Technica indicates that video games, much ballyhooed (alleged) source of mental, physical and psycho-social ills for the kids who spent a lot of time playing them, don't seem to have had quite as big a negative effect on those kids as the moral panic of the past few decades would have you believe. Instead, There didn't seem to be an association between the number of games the children reported owning and an increase in risk for conduct disorder. When examining depression among shoot-em-up players, there was evidence for increased risk before the researchers controlled for all the confounding factors, but not afterwards. Of course, there's a lot of data to go around in the several studies referred to here, and the upshot seems to both less exciting and less simple than "Video games are good, not bad!"

Elon Musk's Next Great Idea? Electric Air Travel (bgr.com) 346

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from BGR: Elon Musk is changing the world one idea at a time. First, with Tesla, the man so many people call the real life Tony Stark has done an incredible job of bringing electric vehicles to the mainstream. Second, Musk has been doing an impressive job over at SpaceX in the realm of space travel. And third, Musk's effective rough draft of a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop is being contemplated and conceptualized in a very real way by some extremely smart people. So where does Musk go from here? Why, Mars of course. Recently, Musk said that he plans to unveil SpaceX's Mars roadmap next September. But on another front, Musk has also been thinking about developing an electric airplane capable of taking off and landing vertically. While answering a few questions during a Q&A session at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Award Ceremony last week, Musk was asked what his 'next great idea' was. The answer? Electric-powered air travel.

NASA Announces That Pluto Has Icebergs Floating On Glaciers of Nitrogen Ice (blastingnews.com) 50

MarkWhittington writes: The most recent finding from New Horizons show that icebergs have broken off from the hills surrounding the Sputnik Planum, a glacier of nitrogen ice, and are floating slowly across its surface, eventually to cluster together in places like the Challenger Colles, informally named after the crew of the space shuttle Challenger, which was lost just over 30 years ago. The feature is an especially high concentration of icebergs, measuring 37 by 22 miles. The icebergs float on the nitrogen ice plain because water ice is less dense than nitrogen ice.

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