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Submission + - Sweden Takes On the Economics of Disposability

jenningsthecat writes: The Swedish government is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to encouraging the repair of stuff that would otherwise be thrown away, according to both The Guardian and Fast Company

The country's Social Democrat and Green party coalition have submitted proposals to Parliament that would reduce the VAT on bicycle, clothing, and shoe repairs from 25% to 12%. Also proposed is an income tax deduction equalling half the labour cost of repairing household appliances. According to The Guardian, "the incentives are part of a shift in government focus from reducing carbon emissions produced domestically to reducing emissions tied to goods produced elsewhere." Per Bolund, Sweden's Minister for Financial Markets and Consumer Affairs, is quoted as saying "the policy also tied in with international trends around reduced consumption and crafts, such as the “maker movement” and the sharing economy, both of which have strong followings in Sweden.

Submission + - Sad reality: It's cheaper to get hacked than build strong IT defenses (

schwit1 writes: A study by the RAND Corporation, published in the Journal of Cybersecurity, looked at the frequency and cost of IT security failures in US businesses and found that the cost of a break-in is much lower than thought – typically around $200,000 per case. With top-shelf security systems costing a lot more than that, not beefing up security looks in some ways like a smart business decision.

"I've spent my life in security and everyone expects firms to invest more and more," the report's author Sasha Romanosky told The Reg. "But maybe firms are making rational investments and we shouldn't begrudge firms for taking these actions. We all do the same thing, we minimize our costs."

Submission + - 26th First Annual Ig Nobel Awards Awarded (

tomhath writes: The Journal of Improbable Research has held it's 26th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony and announced these winners:

REPRODUCTION PRIZE [EGYPT] — The late Ahmed Shafik, for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for conducting similar tests with human males.

ECONOMICS PRIZE [NEW ZEALAND, UK] — Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective.

PHYSICS PRIZE [HUNGARY, SPAIN, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND] — Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas, Susanne Åkesson, Péter Malik, and Hansruedi Wildermuth, for discovering why white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof horses, and for discovering why dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones.

CHEMISTRY PRIZE [GERMANY] — Volkswagen, for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.

MEDICINE PRIZE [GERMANY] — Christoph Helmchen, Carina Palzer, Thomas Münte, Silke Anders, and Andreas Sprenger, for discovering that if you have an itch on the left side of your body, you can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of your body (and vice versa).

PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [BELGIUM, THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY, CANADA, USA] — Evelyne Debey, Maarten De Schryver, Gordon Logan, Kristina Suchotzki, and Bruno Verschuere, for asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers.

PEACE PRIZE [CANADA, USA] — Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called "On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit".

BIOLOGY PRIZE [UK] — Awarded jointly to: Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird; and to Thomas Thwaites, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats.

LITERATURE PRIZE [SWEDEN] — Fredrik Sjöberg, for his three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead.

PERCEPTION PRIZE [JAPAN] — Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.

Submission + - Twitter Data Will Be Used To Predict Hate Crime In Los Angeles

Mickeycaskill writes: Cardiff University has been granted $800,000 by the US Department of Justice to develop a system to detect real-time predictions of hate crime using Twitter data.

In a cross Atlantic partnership, researchers from Cardiff University’s Social Data Science Lab will be using Los Angeles as a test area for they study on how social media can be used to create predictive policing models to tackle hate crime.

Over the next three years, the team of researchers will pour over Twitter data and cross-reference it with reported hate crimes in the LA area to spot trends that facilitate the creation of markers or signatures which could identify if, where and when a potential hate crime could take place, allowing law engagement to pre-emptively intervene.

The US Bureau of Justice Statistic noted that in 2012 293,800 incidents of no-nfatal violent and property hate crime occurred in the US, while in the UK data shows there were 52,528 hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales between 2014 and 2015.

Submission + - How Iran Is Building Its Censorship-Friendly Domestic Internet (

mirandakatz writes: In 2011, Iran announced its intent to strength its control over information through a "halal Internet"—a network cleansed of immorality and disconnected from the global Internet. Last month, Hassan Rouhani's administration announced that the first phase of the project was complete. So what exactly is a "halal," national internet, and where does censorship come into play? At Backchannel, Collin Anderson offers up a deep dive into the complex politics of the Iranian internet.

Submission + - Twitter Shares Jump More Than 20% On Report Of Takeover Talks

Dave Knott writes: Twitter Inc has initiated talks with several technology companies to explore selling itself, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday, as the social media company grapples with its slowest revenue growth since going public in 2013. CNBC reported earlier on Friday, citing anonymous sources, that Twitter is in talks with companies that include Alphabet's Google and, and may receive a formal bid soon. Twitter shares rose the most since its stock market debut in 2013, up 21 per cent to $22.59, giving the company a market capitalization of close to $16 billion.

Submission + - Asian Anti-trust Action Against Apple

BarbaraHudson writes: Reuters is reporting that Japanese regulators are considering an anti-trust action against both Apple and the Telecom carriers. Apple dodged Reuter's query with a non sequitur pointing out how much Apple contributes to the Japanese economy.

In a report published last month, Japan's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said that NTT Docomo, KDDI Corp and Softbank Group were refusing to sell older surplus iPhone models to third party retailers, thereby hobbling smaller competitors.

Apple was not named in that report, but two senior government sources told Reuters that regulators were also focusing on Apple's supply agreements with all three carriers.

Under those deals, surplus stock of older iPhones is kept out of the market and sent to overseas markets, such as Hong Kong, according to industry sources.

When asked about the antitrust concerns, Apple forwarded a link to a webpage published at the time of the Aug. 2 FTC report that says it has created or supports 715,000 jobs in Japan with Japanese-based developers raking in more than $9 billion in revenue from Apple apps since 2008. It did not comment further.

Submission + - iOS 10 Backup Passwords 2500 Times Easier to Crack Than in iOS 9

Trailrunner7 writes: Apple seems to have made a curious security choice in iOS 10, one that enables attackers to brute force the password for a user’s local backup 2,500 times faster than was possible on iOS 9.

Researchers at Elcomsoft, a Russian security company, discovered the issue, which is related to the choice of hashing algorithm in iOS 10. In the newest version of the iPhone operating system, Apple uses SHA256 to hash the password for the user’s local backup, which is stored on a computer paired with the phone. In previous versions, Apple used PBKDF2 for this job and ran the password through the algorithm 10,000 times, making password cracking quite difficult.

But iOS 10 uses just one iteration of SHA256 to hash the local backup password, something that the Elcomsoft researchers said made brute-forcing the password far easier. They found that using just a CPU rather than an optimized GPU implementation, they could try as many as six million passwords per second in iOS 10. By comparison, the same setup could try just 2,400 passwords per second against iOS 9.

Submission + - Controversial canal could stop thousands of sinkholes around Dead Sea (

sciencehabit writes: On the edge of the Dead Sea, the ground is caving in. Trucks and small buildings in Israel and Jordan have fallen into pits, beaches and plantations have closed, and roads been rerouted to avoid the more than 5500 sinkholes that pockmark the region. Now, by building a physical model of the Dead Sea in a laboratory, scientists have figured out what's causing the sinkholes in the first place, and whether a proposed controversial canal can stop them.

Submission + - Research finds normal matter distribution determines galaxy rotation (

Burz writes: "Galaxy rotation curves have traditionally been explained via an ad hoc hypothesis: that galaxies are surrounded by dark matter," said David Merritt, professor of physics and astronomy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the research. "The relation discovered by McGaugh et al. is a serious, and possibly fatal, challenge to this hypothesis, since it shows that rotation curves are precisely determined by the distribution of the normal matter alone. Nothing in the standard cosmological model predicts this, and it is almost impossible to imagine how that model could be modified to explain it, without discarding the dark matter hypothesis completely."

The researchers plotted the radial acceleration observed in rotation curves published by a host of astronomers over the last 30 years against the acceleration predicted from the observed distribution of ordinary matter now in the Spitzer Photometry & Accurate Rotation Curves database McGaugh's team created. The two measurements showed a single, extremely tight correlation, even when dark matter is supposed to dominate the gravity.

Submission + - Cisco Blames Router Bug On Cosmic Radiation, Reeks Of Weak Sauce Excuses (

MojoKid writes: A bug that afflicts Cisco's ASR 9000 Series routers is making a bit of a stir in the IT community recently. While big iron networking appliance bug reports for hardware issues are not uncommon, it's Cisco's explanation of a specific malady that's causing some consternation in data center circles. Cisco Bug CSCuz62750 is described as causing "partial data traffic loss", with data loss sometimes even occurring after a CRC (Cyclical Redundancy Check). The kicker here, however, is that Cisco says that it has observed the software errors on an operational network and that it could possibly be triggered by "cosmic radiation" causing SEU soft errors in its line cards, code named "Juggernaut." This of course sounds like the high tech equivalent of "the dog ate my homework." Though cosmic radiation effects on electronics are a real phenomenon, if your machine is the only one machine in a data center routinely suffering from cosmic radiation-induced issues, while the rest of the data center appliances hum along happily without a blip, you know there's going to be a whole lot of finger-pointing going on with IT managers, CTOs and CIOs in more than a few conference rooms.

Submission + - Is Jawbone Going Down For The Count?

BarbaraHudson writes: The battle between Fitbit and Jawbone may be coming to an end. Business Insider is reporting that wearable fitness maker Jawbone's financial problems, which have dogged the company off and on for more than a year, has almost no inventory left, and the agency handling customer service has dumped them over unpaid bills. Clicking on any of the products for sale on their site says they're sold out.

Jawbone's Facebook page is littered with complaints from customers saying they have been unable to get in touch with a customer service representative to help with defective products. The Jawbone Facebook account has been responding to these issues, blaming a backup of complaints for the delays. A Jawbone spokesperson said the complaints were because of Jawbone's customer service restructuring.

Another person close to Jawbone told Business Insider that there is almost no inventory left and the company is running out of options to generate revenue.

The speculation among some Jawbone employees now is that the company might sell to a private equity firm if it can't raise more money, the person close to the company said.

Jawbone also declined to explain why its inventory has sold out. A spokesperson said, "they have sold through what they have to sell." The company said it was not because it couldn't pay vendors though. It would not provide any estimate on when products would be available for sale on its site again, but did say it planned to make more products.

Submission + - Senate Panel Authorizes Money For Mission To Mars (

An anonymous reader writes: With a new president on the horizon, a key Senate committee moved Wednesday to protect long-standing priorities of the nation’s space program from the potential upheaval of an incoming administration. Members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed a bipartisan bill authorizing $19.5 billion to continue work on a Mars mission and efforts to send astronauts on private rockets to the International Space Station from U.S. soil — regardless of shifting political winds. Under the Senate bill, NASA would have an official goal of sending a crewed mission to Mars within the next 25 years, the first time a trip to the Red Planet would be mandated by law. The legislation would authorize money for different NASA components, including $4.5 billion for exploration, nearly $5 billion for space operations and $5.4 billion for science. Beyond money, the measure would: Direct NASA to continue working on the Space Launch System and Orion multi-purpose vehicle that are the linchpins of a planned mission to send astronauts to Mars by the 2030s. The bill includes specific milestones for an unmanned exploration mission by 2018 and a crewed exploration mission by 2021. Require development of an advanced space suit to protect astronauts on a Mars mission. Continue development of the Commercial Crew Program designed to send astronauts to the space station — no later than 2018 — on private rockets launched from U.S. soil. Expand the full use and life of the space station through 2024 while laying the foundation for use through 2028. Allow greater opportunities for aerospace companies to conduct business in Low Earth Orbit. Improve monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of the medical effects astronauts experience from spending time in deep space.

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