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Transportation

Why Robot Trucks Could Be Headed To Afghanistan (And Everywhere Else) 135

malachiorion writes "I'm surprised I haven't seen more coverage of Lockheed Martin's autonomous truck convoy demonstration — they sent a group of robotified vehicles through urban and rural environments at Fort Hood, without teleoperation or human intervention. It's an interesting milestone, and sort of a tragic one, since troops could have used robotic vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan. What's fascinating, though, is that Lockheed is hoping to get into Afghanistan just before the U.S. withdraws, to help ferry gear. Plus, they have their sights set on what would be the defense contractor's first real commercial product—kits that turn tractor trailers into autonomous vehicles. Here's my post for Popular Science."
Censorship

Major Internet Censorship Bill Passes In Turkey 104

First time accepted submitter maratumba writes to explain a bill in Turkey that extends what are already hefty Internet curbs in place under a controversial 2007 law that Earned Turkey equal ranking with China as the world's biggest web censor according to a Google Transparency report published in December. The text notably permits a government agency, the Telecommunications Communications Presidency (TIB), to block Access to websites without court authorization if they are deemed to violate privacy or with content Seen as 'insulting.' Erdogan, Turkey's all-powerful leader since 2003, is openly suspicious of the Internet, branding Twitter a 'menace' for being Utilized in organisation of mass nationwide protests in June in which six people died and thousands were injured."
The Military

Military Electronics That Shatter Into Dust On Command 221

First time accepted submitter MAE Keller writes "Two U.S. companies are joining a military research program to develop sensitive electronic components able to self-destruct on command to keep them out of the hands of potential adversaries who would attempt to counterfeit them for their own use. From the article: 'Last Friday DARPA awarded a $2.1 million contract to PARC, and a $3.5 million contract to IBM for the VAPR program, which seeks to develop transient electronics that can physically disappear in a controlled, triggerable manner.'"
Networking

The Standards Wars and the Sausage Factory 234

Esther Schindler writes "We all know how important tech standards are. But the making of them is sometimes a particularly ugly process. Years, millions of dollars, and endless arguments are spent arguing about standards. The reason for our fights aren't any different from those that drove Edison and Westinghouse: It's all about who benefits – and profits – from a standard. As just one example, Steven Vaughan-Nichols details the steps it took to approve a networking standard that everyone, everyone knew was needed: 'Take, for example, the long hard road for the now-universal IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi standard. There was nothing new about the multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) and channel-bonding techniques when companies start moving from 802.11g to 802.11n in 2003. Yet it wasn't until 2009 that the standard became official.'"
Space

New Type of Star Can Emerge From Inside Black Holes, Say Cosmologists 193

KentuckyFC writes "Black holes form when a large star runs out of fuel and collapses under its own weight. Since there is no known force that can stop this collapse, astrophysicists have always assumed that it forms a singularity, a region of space that is infinitely dense. Now cosmologists think quantum gravity might prevent this complete collapse after all. They say that the same force that stops an electron spiraling into a nucleus might also cause the collapsing star to 'bounce' at scales of around 10^-14cm. They're calling this new state a 'Planck star' and say its lifetime would match that of the black hole itself as it evaporates. That raises the possibility that the shrinking event horizon would eventually meet the expanding Planck star, which emerges with a sudden blast of gamma rays. That radiation would allow any information trapped in the black hole to escape, solving the infamous information paradox. If they're right, these gamma rays may already have been detected by space-based telescopes meaning that the evidence is already there for any enterprising astronomer to tease apart."
Communications

QuakeNet: Government-Sponsored Attacks On IRC Networks 197

Barryke writes "Like FreeNode, it seems more and more legitimate businesses or non-profit organizations are being targeted by government subsidiaries in attempts to disrupt and spy on their users. IRC network QuakeNet has posted a press release condemning these efforts. Quoting: 'These attacks are performed without informing the networks and are targeted at users associated with politically motivated movements such as "Anonymous." While QuakeNet does not condone or endorse and actively forbids any illegal activity on its servers we encourage discussion on all topics including political and social commentary. It is apparent now that engaging in such topics with an opinion contrary to that of the intelligence agencies is sufficient to make people a target for monitoring, coercion and denial of access to communications platforms. The released documents depict GCHQ operatives engaging in social engineering of IRC users to entrap themselves by encouraging the target to leak details about their location as well as wholesale attacks on the IRC servers hosting the network. These attacks bring down the IRC network entirely affecting every user on the network as well as the company hosting the server.' One of those tactics applied by governments is the DDOS, which (perhaps not so) coincidentally, is what their suspects are accused of. Is this irony or hypocritical?"
Government

How Edward Snowden's Actions Have Impacted Defense Contractors 180

An anonymous reader writes "A new study sheds light on the attitudes of a very exclusive group of IT and security managers — those employed by U.S. defense contractors — at a time when national cybersecurity is under scrutiny. Most indicated that the Edward Snowden incident has changed their companies' cybersecurity practices: their employees now receive more cybersecurity awareness training, some have re-evaluated employee data access privileges, others have implemented stricter hiring practices. While defense contractors seem to have better security practices in place and are more transparent than many companies in the private sector, they are finding the current cyber threat onslaught just as difficult to deal with."
Sony

Sony Selling Off VAIO Computer Business 204

Kensai7 writes "Confirming reports from earlier in the week, Sony has announced plans to sell off its VAIO computer division to a Japanese investment fund. Japan Industrial Partners (JIP) will take control of the operation for an undisclosed fee, and Sony will 'cease planning, design and development of PC products.' For a variety of reasons 'including the drastic changes in the global PC industry,' Sony says 'the optimal solution is to concentrate its mobile product lineup on smartphones and tablets and to transfer its PC business to a new company.'" I have some nostalgia for the tiny old VAIO laptops; I wish more companies incorporated the swiveling camera that they came with.
United States

Fracking Is Draining Water From Areas In US Suffering Major Shortages 268

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "RT reports that some of the most drought-ravaged areas of the US are also heavily targeted for oil and gas development using hydraulic fracturing — a practice that exacerbates water shortages with half of the oil and gas wells fracked across America since 2011 located in places suffering through drought. Taken together, all the wells surveyed from January 2011 to May 2013 consumed 97 billion gallons of water, pumped under high pressure to crack rocks containing oil or natural gas. Up to 10 million gallons can go into a single well. 'Hydraulic fracturing is increasing competitive pressures for water in some of the country's most water-stressed and drought-ridden regions,' says Mindy Lubber. 'Barring stiffer water-use regulations and improved on-the-ground practices, the industry's water needs in many regions are on a collision course with other water users, especially agriculture and municipal water use.' Nearly half (47%) of oil and gas wells recently hydraulically fractured in the U.S. and Canada are in regions with high or extremely high water stress. Amanda Brock, head of a water-treatment firm in Houston, says oil companies in California are already exploring ways to frack using the briny, undrinkable water found in the state's oil fields. While fracking consumes far less water than agriculture or residential uses, the impact can be huge on particular communities and is 'exacerbating already existing water problems,' says Monika Freyman. Hydraulic fracking is the 'latest party to come to the table,' says Freyman. The demands for the water are 'taking regions by surprise,' she says. More work needs to be done to better manage water use, given competing demand."
Privacy

New Zealand Spy Agency Deleted Evidence About Its Illegal Spying On Kim Dotcom 222

An anonymous reader writes "The latest news in this: GCSB appears to have deleted key evidence in the case in a ham-fisted attempt to cover up its illegal activities. Even more ridiculous, GCSB is trying to cover this up by claiming that the material had 'aged off' — implying that it was deleted automatically. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key claims that they had to delete the information under the law. Of course, there are a few problems with that. The first is that under New Zealand law, like most countries these days, parties have an obligation to preserve documents likely to be necessary in a legal case. But, even more damning is that there's video of John Key in the New Zealand Parliament trying to defend against an earlier claim that GCSB had deleted some evidence by insisting that GCSB does not delete anything ever:"
Math

Second World War Code-cracking Computing Hero Colossus Turns 70 110

DW100 writes "The Colossus computer that helped the Allies crack messages sent by the Nazis during the Second World War has celebrated its 70th birthday. The machine was a pioneering feat of engineering, able to read 5,000 characters a second to help the team at Bletchley Park crack the German's Lorenz code in rapid time. This helped the Allies gather vital information on the Nazi's plans, and is credited with helping end the war effort early, saving millions of lives."
Open Source

Build an Open-Source Electric Car In About One Hour 188

First time accepted submitter joe5 writes "Like what Elon Musk has done and want to go all Etsy and build your own electric car? That's apparently now possible now thanks to the OSVehicle Tabby — dubbed the first "Open source vehicle" (memo: it may be cool, but it ain't the first). The OSV guys are taking pre-orders for the Tabby starter kit, with both the two-seater or four-seater configurations going for €500. Then you click to add options. (Note: seats is an "option" so that's the level of luxury you are dealing with here.) When the transaction's complete, OSV sends the parts to your home and you can download the plans and start building. Since the Tabby is open source, OSVehicle will also look to a community of owners and tinkerers for suggestions and recommendations."
Networking

Utah Bill Would Prevent Regional Fiber Networks From Growing 111

symbolset writes "On the heels of the smackdown received by cable lobbyists in Kansas, Ars reports out of Utah that the cable companies aren't giving up hopes of preventing competition through legislation. The bill, called Interlocal Entity Service Prohibition, would prevent a regional fiber consortium from building infrastructure outside the boundaries of its member cities and towns — a direct attack on Google's work in Provo and the UTOPIA network. Utah is the third state to be involved in the Google Fiber rollout of gigabit fiber to the home."
Verizon

Is Verizon Already Slowing Netflix Down? 298

hondo77 points out a blog post by Dave Raphael, who noticed some odd discrepancies between two different Verizon broadband connections he has access to. His personal residential plan and his company's business plan both went through the same Verizon routers, but his residential plan is getting unusably slow speeds to places like AWS. He suggests that Verizon is already waging a war on high-bandwidth services like Netflix after the recent court decision against net neutrality. His discussion with a Verizon service representative seems to confirm this, though it's uncertain whether such an employee would have access to that information.
Privacy

Why the Latest FISA Release By Google Et Al. Means Squat 131

Nerval's Lobster writes "Google, Yahoo, and other tech firms are offering some updated statistics about government requests for data. There's just one problem: under revised guidelines issued by the federal government, those companies can still only report a range, rather than a definitive number, for those requests. If that wasn't fuzzy enough, the range can only be reported after a six-month lag. Between January and June 2013, Google received between 0-999 FISA 'non-content' requests on 0-999 user accounts; it also fielded between 0-999 'content' requests for between 9000 and 9999 user accounts.Yahoo actually received a larger number of FISA queries than Google: for the first six months of 2013, the federal government made between 0-999 requests on between 30,000 and 30,999 user accounts hosted by the company. ... These companies have little choice but to advocate this new information release as a huge step forward for transparency. Unfortunately, restricting government data requests to a broad range isn't very helpful: for example, a range (rather than a single numerical value) makes it difficult to determine trends, such as whether government requests are gradually increasing over the long term."

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