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Submission + - SETI has observed a "strong" signal that may originate from a Sun-like star (arstechnica.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: The RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, Russia has detected a strong signal around 11 GHz (which is very unlikely to be naturally-caused) coming from HD164595, a star nearly identical in mass to the Sun and located about 95 light years from Earth. The system is known to have at least one planet.

If the signal were isotropic, it would seem to indicate a Kardashev Type II civilization.

While it is too early to draw any conclusions, the discovery will be discussed at an upcoming SETI committee meeting on September 27th.

Submission + - BleachBit stifles investigation of Hillary Clinton

ahziem writes: The IT team for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used the open source cleaning software BleachBit to wipe systems "so even God couldn’t read them," according to South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy on Fox News. His comments on the "drastic cyber-measure" were in response to the question of whether emails on her private Microsoft Exchange Server were simply about "yoga and wedding plans."

Perhaps Clinton's team used an open source application because, unlike proprietary applications, it can be audited, like for backdoors. In response to the Edward Snowden leaks in 2013, privacy expert Bruce Schneier advised, "Closed-source software is easier for the NSA to backdoor than open-source software," in an article in which he stated he also uses BleachBit. Ironically, Schneier was writing to a non-governmental audience.

Submission + - 20% of Scientific Papers On Genes Contain Conversion Errors Caused by Excel (winbeta.org)

An anonymous reader writes: A new report from scientists Mark Ziemann, Yotam Eren, and Assam El-Osta says that 20% of scientific papers on genes contain gene name conversion errors caused by Excel. In the scientific article, titled “Gene name errors are widespread in the scientific literature,” article’s abstract section, the scientists explain: “The spreadsheet software Microsoft Excel, when used with default settings, is known to convert gene names to dates and floating-point numbers. A programmatic scan of leading genomics journals reveals that approximately one-fifth of papers with supplementary Excel gene lists contain erroneous gene name conversions.” It’s easy to see why Excel might have problems with certain gene names when you see the “gene symbols” that the scientists use as examples: “For example, gene symbols such as SEPT2 (Septin 2) and MARCH1 [Membrane-Associated Ring Finger (C3HC4) 1, E3 Ubiquitin Protein Ligase] are converted by default to ‘2-Sep’ and ‘1-Mar’, respectively. Furthermore, RIKEN identifiers were described to be automatically converted to floating point numbers (i.e. from accession ‘2310009E13’ to ‘2.31E+13’). Since that report, we have uncovered further instances where gene symbols were converted to dates in supplementary data of recently published papers (e.g. ‘SEPT2’ converted to ‘2006/09/02’). This suggests that gene name errors continue to be a problem in supplementary files accompanying articles. Inadvertent gene symbol conversion is problematic because these supplementary files are an important resource in the genomics community that are frequently reused. Our aim here is to raise awareness of the problem.”

Submission + - Bill Gates's Net Worth Hits $90 Billion (bloomberg.com)

schwit1 writes: The net worth of the world’s richest person Bill Gates hit $90 billion on Friday, fueled by gains in public holdings including Canadian National Railway Company and Ecolab Inc. Gates’s fortune is now $13.5 billion bigger than that of the world’s second-wealthiest person, Spanish retail mogul Amancio Ortega, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. At $90 billion, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder’s net worth is equal to 0.5 percent of U.S. GDP.

Submission + - This Chinese Router Is Depressingly Insecure and Downright Evil (softpedia.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A Wi-Fi router manufactured and sold only in China can easily run for the title of "most insecure router ever made." The BHU router, whose name translates to "Tiger Will Power," has a long list of security problems that include: four authentication bypass flaws (of which one is just hilarious); a built in backdoor root account that gets created on every boot-up sequence; the fact that it opens the SSH port for external connections after every boot (somebody has to use that root backdoor account right?); a built-in proxy server that re-routes all traffic; an ad injection system that adds adverts to all the sites you visit; and a backup JS file embedded in the router firmware if the ad script fails to load from its server. For techies, there's a looong technical write-up, which gets funnier and scarier at the same time as you read through it.

Submission + - 2016 Hugo Award Winners Announced

Dave Knott writes: The recipients of the 2016 Hugo awards have been announced. Presented annually since 1955, the Hugos are (along with the Nebulas) one of science fiction's two most prestigious awards. They are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention ("Worldcon"), the most recent of which, MidAmeriCon II was held this past weekend in Kansas City. Notable winners include:

Best Novel: The Fifth Season , by N.K. Jemisin
Best Novella: Binti , by Nnedi Okorafor
Best Novelette: "Folding Beijing", by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu
Best Short Story: "Cat Pictures Please", by Naomi Kritzer
Best Graphic Story: The Sandman: Overture , written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H. Williams III
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: The Martian , screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott
Best Dramatic Presentation, ShortForm: Jessica Jones: "AKA Smile", written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer

As in the previous two years, the 2016 Hugos were subject to considerable controversy, as highly-politicized factions within science fiction fandom attempted to influence the awards via a concerted campaign that influenced the nomination process. Those actions once again proved unsuccessful, as the nominees put forth by these activists failed to win in any of the major awards categories.

Comment User friendly (Score 4, Interesting) 315

If I may, and even if I mayn't, I'm going to rant about the same thing I always rant about in these stories: usability. Desktop Linux is a great operating system for those who have put in the many hours needed to understand its quirks. It's a great operating system for people who never so much as install a new sound driver. For the remaining 80% of users it's a usability nightmare. The wide range of distro's running the Gnome and KDE mean many common interactions differ between computers. And the Linux/Unix ideology of each program doing one thing (and doing it well) means which programs a user will have is unpredictable.

This, in turn, means it's all but impossible to provide a simple, straightforward instruction to a user for how to do something with her machine. Even something that should be dead simple. As soon as a user has to modify a config file or open a command prompt that's a huge roadblock. And no I'm not saying "be like Windows". That implication is a cop-out.It's not about doing things the way Windows does them, it's about making it "just work", and when it doesn't offering highly intuitive graphical interfaces for changing the way it works.

The Linux development community has made huge strides in this direction, but more is needed. Write drivers that interface with Gnome and KDE environments and provide GUI's for every setting. If a driver doesn't gave a Gnome and KDE GUI that covers 99.99% of use cases it's not finished. Make it so a user never, ever has to open a command prompt. Stick to the top three or fewer interfaces, and make them rock solid. No more installing interfaces to install interfaces to install decompressers to compile drivers. Do this and you shall see the year of Linux on the desktop.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Email Workflow and Hillary's Woes 3

Tablizer writes: Political blame issues aside, how could a work environment like the State Department monitor and ensure "wrong stuff" does not end up in regular office emails? It seems they should have a monitoring team in place to monitor all emails and outgoing documents. There may be urgent situations that could result in them not having enough time to vet something before it's released, but at least they'd know about it as soon as possible afterwards in order to mitigate the damage, investigate the cause, and "educate" the perpetrator(s), perhaps issuing formal reprimands. Bad habits wouldn't be allowed to fester. Has any slashdotter seen a similar setup at their shop?

Submission + - Internet Voting Leaves Out a Cornerstone of Democracy: The Secret Ballot

Presto Vivace writes: Maintaining the secrecy of ballots returned via the Internet is “technologically impossible,” according to a new report.

That’s according to a new report from Verified Voting, a group that advocates for transparency and accuracy in elections. ... A cornerstone of democracy, the secret ballot guards against voter coercion. But “because of current technical challenges and the unique challenge of running public elections, it is impossible to maintain the separation of voters’ identities from their votes when Internet voting is used,” concludes the report, which was written in collaboration with the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the anticorruption advocacy group Common Cause.

Submission + - #ARKidsCanCode: Play the Governor's Promotional K-12 CS Video, Win a Prize!

theodp writes: Never underestimate the power of marketing in creating a national K-12 CS crisis, suggested the National Science Foundation as it gave props to tech-backed Code.org for "its amazing marketing prowess, its Hour of Code, and its success in attracting major funding, [which] has completely changed the national conversation [on K-12 CS]." Which may explain the motivation behind the Arkansas Dept. of Education's #ARKidsCanCode Computer Science Enrollment Contest. "Arkansas will honor schools for their outstanding effort to promote computer science education this coming school year," begins the announcement for the contest, which calls for schools to compete for a to-be-determined "technology prize package" by earning points for, among other things, playing the Governor’s #ARKidsCanCode video (a video called Join the Movement. Learn to Code. is featured on Gov. Asa Hutchinson's YouTube channel) during a school wide opening assembly or over a school wide video system or hosting a Code.org Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week. "An [sic] subsequent commissioner’s memo will be posted in late November with information on the specific drawing date/location, technology prize package, and how properly to submit documentation to the Arkansas Department of Education," adds the memo. The White House praised the leadership of Arkansas as it announced President Obama's proposed $4.2B CS for All initiative in January. Arkansas, which declared a high school CS education state of emergency in early 2015, was awarded a $1 million NSF grant last August to train Arkansas HS computing teachers. Hutchinson teamed up with other governors earlier this year to launch GovsForCS, a partnership that works with Code.org to increase access to K-12 CS classes.

Comment Re:Getting closer and closer to AR HUDs. (Score 1) 43

Guns and surgery? That's all you see? We've already talked about superimposing, for example, instructions for repairing a car over the car itself. A gun for "shooting" wildlife for the sport without the harm. Ikea has a virtual kitchen, so not too much longer and we'll have VR recipes showing timers for various items, the size you need to cut things to, and outlining the spices you need for quick selection from your spice rack. Intel's showcased technology will make it safe to bring games into the real world. If the headset knows where the road is it can keep you off of it.

The possibilities are endless.

Comment die die die (Score 1) 137

I'm happy to hear the company is being sold but I really have to wonder about this. I was sure some pretty heavy hitters were financing Gawker for the sake of getting their narratives pushed. Maybe the Gawker name just became too toxic? We'll know if some other media company rises from obscurity to start shitting out the same kind of bias written by the same people.

Submission + - Startup Aims to Commercialize a Brain Implant to Improve Memory (ieee.org)

the_newsbeagle writes: Neuroscientist Ted Berger has achieved some remarkable feats in his work on an implanted brain prosthetic to boost memory. Working with rats, he recorded the electrical signals associated with a specific memory from one animal's brain, then inserted that signal—and thus the memory—into another animal's brain. Working with monkeys, the implanted device enhanced the animals' recall in difficult memory tasks.

Still, it's startling to learn that a startup is ready to commercialize Berger's work, and is trying to build a memory prosthetic for humans suffering from Alzheimer's, brain injuries, and stroke. The new company, named Kernel, will fund human trials and develop electrodes that can record from and stimulate more brain cells.

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