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Submission + - Rudolph The Reindeer Could Really Have A Red Nose, Say Scientists (

cold fjord writes: The Telegraph reports, "The story of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer may be based on scientific fact ... Researchers in Sweden have used thermal imaging cameras to capture the heat coming from reindeer as they graze. They found that while most of the animals are well insulated by their fur, their noses glow bright orange in the images due to the large amounts of heat they release. This is because reindeer have a high concentration of blood vessels in their nose and lips to help keep them warm and sensitive when rummaging through snow as they search for food. Professor Ronald Kröger, a zoologist at Lund University in Sweden, said that in some cases these even led to the animals mule, or snout, taking on a reddish colour in cold weather. ... They found that the reindeer's noses glow bright orange when viewed with infrared light. This is because they have 25 per cent more blood vessels there compared to human noses. Professor Kröger has been using thermal cameras to study the body heat given off by animals in an attempt to understand their physiology in ways not visible to the human eye. He said: “Dogs are the exact opposite to reindeer. Nobody knows why their noses are cold and why they have evolved that way.” " — More reindeer info at ABC NewNet5 and The Week . USDA recently issued a 12 hour movement permit for reindeer. About the most famous reindeer of all.

Submission + - U.S. Mobile Internet Traffic Nearly Doubled This Year (

An anonymous reader writes: Two big shifts happened in the American cellphone industry over the past year: Cellular networks got faster, and smartphone screens got bigger. In the United States, consumers used an average of 1.2 gigabytes a month over cellular networks this year, up from 690 megabytes a month in 2012, according to Chetan Sharma, a consultant for wireless carriers, who published a new report on industry trends on Monday. Worldwide, the average consumption was 240 megabytes a month this year, up from 140 megabytes last year, he said.

Submission + - Samsung Galaxy S4 Security Vulnurability (

olsmeister writes: The Samsung KNOX enterprise security system (presumably a play on Ft Knox, the location of the United States Bullion Depository) contains a security vulnurability that could put both personal and business data at risk. This is according to a discovery by a Ph.D. student at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. This is the security system used in Samsung's flagship Galaxy S4 phone, which Samsung hopes will allow it to compete with BlackBerry in government and enterprise applications. The flaw could allow attackers to access secure data, as well as load malicious applications.

Comment Re:NSA Key (Score 1) 464

Remember the Windows "NSA Key" flip a few years ago. You think Microsoft DIDN'T add a key for the NSA now?

I suspect that, if Microsoft had covertly added a key to Windows on behalf of the NSA - or any other government agency, for that matter - it would not have been labelled as _NSAKEY. Suffice to say, if the NSA had subverted the security of Windows (which no longer seems entirely unreasonable), they would have done so in a rather more subtle manner.

The Wikipedia article provides more information on the issue.

Submission + - Avoid SSDs for important files, says data recovery firm ( 2

nk497 writes: If your data's important to you, store it on a mechanical hard disk rather than an SSD. That’s the advice of Phil Bridge, managing director of data recovery specialist Kroll Ontrack, who said that while recovering lost data from solid-state media is possible, the process can be time-consuming — and therefore expensive. "With spinning media you’ve got pretty well established sets of standards," Bridge explained. "With solid-state, it’s almost as if every drive that comes in has a different structure and different technology."

Submission + - Google Patents Fooling Friends with Snooping, Chatbots

theodp writes: Google takes Scroogling to new heights with its just-patented Automated Generation of Suggestions for Personalized Reactions in a Social Network, which not only data mines "e-mail systems, SMS/MMS systems, micro blogging systems, social networks or other systems" to get the buzz on your social circle, but also uses the data it collects to make like ELIZA and formulate appropriate responses for you to send as if they were your own (e.g., 'Happy Birthday, Mom!). Wouldn't Turing be so proud! From the patent: "In a third example, a friend, David, sends Alice public or private message of a particular but regularly encountered message type (e.g., 'how are you doing?' a common way to greet someone in the United States). The suggestion generation module suggest a good set of reactions to David, for example, based on the professional profile of David from the social network indicating that David has changed employers. The suggestion generation module generates a reply message such as 'Hey David, I am fine, You were in ABC corp. for 3 years and you recently moved to XYZ corp., how do you feel about the difference, enjoying your new workplace?' The content of this suggestion are based on 1) prior conversations between Alice and David, 2) previous messages sent by Alice to other friends and 3) messages (sent by other connections in Alice's friend circle to David) which are either publicly or privately accessible to Alice, or some combination of these. Thus, the suggestion generation module generates messages that are personalized based upon both the sender and recipient using information that is accessible (public or private) to the sender." Looks like Facebook may not be the only one strip-mining human society!

Submission + - Stuxnet's "Secret Twin" Was Even More Damaging and Better Hidden

schnell writes: Cyberdefense analyst Ralph Langner reports the results of a lengthy investigation into Stuxnet in Foreign Affairs, revealing that the Stuxnet we know was only the later and more obvious part of a sophisticated cyber attack on Iran's nuclear enrichment program. Two years before the release of the better-known Stuxnet variant, an original version was launched with a more subtle and stealthy mission — wearing down centrifuges gradually through improper overuse. While it couldn't spread itself as easily as the later Stuxnet, it was deliberately designed to degrade centrifuges slowly and remain invisible. The author also speculates that the discovery of the later Stuxnet version was actually beneficial to the US, since if another country was outed first as having engaged in cyberwarfare, it would seem a "Pearl Harbor" that made the US look weak in terms of its cyberwar capabilities.

Submission + - Mathematicians Team Up to Close the Prime Gap

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: On May 13, an obscure mathematician garnered worldwide attention and accolades from the mathematics community for settling a long-standing open question about prime numbers. Yitang Zhang showed that even though primes get increasingly rare as you go further out along the number line, you will never stop finding pairs of primes separated by at most 70 million. His finding was the first time anyone had managed to put a finite bound on the gaps between prime numbers, representing a major leap toward proving the centuries-old twin primes conjecture, which posits that there are infinitely many pairs of primes separated by only two (such as 11 and 13). Now Erica Klarreich reports at Quanta Magazine that there is nothing magical about 70 million — it served Zhang’s purposes and simplified his proof but other mathematicians quickly realized that it should be possible to push this separation bound quite a bit lower. By the end of May, mathematicians had uncovered simple tweaks to Zhang’s argument that brought the bound below 60 million. Then Terence Tao, a winner of the Fields Medal, mathematics’ highest honor, created a “Polymath project,” an open, online collaboration to improve the bound that attracted dozens of participants and by July 27, the team had succeeded in reducing the proven bound on prime gaps from 70 million to 4,680. Now James Maynard has upped the ante by presenting an independent proof that pushes the gap down to 600. A new Polymath project is in the planning stages, to try to combine the collaboration’s techniques with Maynard’s approach to push this bound even lower. Zhang’s work and, to a lesser degree, Maynard’s fits the archetype of the solitary mathematical genius, working for years in the proverbial garret until he is ready to dazzle the world with a great discovery. The Polymath project couldn’t be more different — fast and furious, massively collaborative, fueled by the instant gratification of setting a new world record. “It’s important to have people who are willing to work in isolation and buck the conventional wisdom,” says Tao. Polymath, by contrast, is “entirely groupthink.” Not every math problem would lend itself to such collaboration, but this one did.

Submission + - Warning at SC13 that supercomputing will plateau without a disruptive technology (

dcblogs writes: At this year's supercomputing conference, SC13, there is worry that supercomputing faces a performance plateau unless a disruptive processing tech emerges. "We have reached the end of the technological era" of CMOS, said William Gropp, chairman of the SC13 conference and a computer science professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gropp likened the supercomputer development terrain today to the advent of CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor), the foundation of today's standard semiconductor technology. The arrival of CMOS was disruptive, but it fostered an expansive age of computing. The problem is "we don't have a technology that is ready to be adopted as a replacement for CMOS," said Gropp. "We don't have anything at the level of maturity that allows you to bet your company on." Peter Beckman, a top computer scientist at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, and head of an international exascale software effort, said large supercomputer system prices have topped off at about $100 million "so performance gains are not going to come from getting more expensive machines, because these are already incredibly expensive and powerful. So unless the technology really has some breakthroughs, we are imagining a slowing down."

Submission + - Ubuntu Wants to Enable SSD TRIM by Default (

jones_supa writes: During the first day of the latest virtual Ubuntu Developer Summit, Canonical developers finally plotted out the enabling of TRIM/DISCARD support by default for solid-state drives on Ubuntu 14.04. Ubuntu developers aren't looking to enable discard at the file-system level since it can slow down delete operations, so instead they're wanting to have their own cron job that routinely runs fstrim for TRIMing the system. In the past there has been talk about the TRIM implementation being unoptimized in the kernel. Around when Linux 3.0 was released, OpenSUSE noted that the kernel performs TRIM to a single range, instead of vectorized list of TRIM ranges, which is what the specification calls for. In some scenarios this results to lowered performance.

Submission + - Critical flaws found in Aussie traffic systems ahead of G20 Summit (

mask.of.sanity writes: Two critical networks managing traffic systems of a major Australian capital city contain gaping holes that render it vulnerable to attack.

The flaws were found during penetration tests by the government a year ahead of the G20 Summit, the most significant gathering of world leaders ever held in Australia.

The tests found the agencies messed up security zoning, didn't remove staff logins as they resigned, and had inconsistent patching.

Submission + - US police department gives in on Cryptolocker ransom demand; shells out £4 (

hypnosec writes: Swansea Massachusetts police department, in a bid to get back all the data locked away by the Cryptolocker, shelled out $750 to buy two bitcoins and pay the ransom demand by criminals. According to a report on The Herald News, several “several images and word documents,” were locked by Cryptolocker. The department followed the instructions provided by cybercriminals and bought two bitcoins on November 10 worth £470 and sent them to the demanded address. Once the cybercriminals received the two BTC, they sent out the unlock codes.

Submission + - And Now For Something Completely Different: Monty Python Reunion Planned (

cold fjord writes: The Telegraph reports, "The original members of Monty Python will reunite more than 30 years after the comedy troupe last worked together. John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Michael Palin will officially announce their reformation at a London press conference on Thursday. The five surviving members have reportedly been in months of secret talks about getting the Flying Circus back on the road. The reunion comes after several failed attempts to reform by the group. However, according to The Sun, the surviving members realised “it was now or never”, and had decided to embark upon “a fully-fledged reunion”. " — Related Telegraph stories: commentary, "best of", and a pan.

Submission + - The Real World Always Outpaces Sci-Fi, And Fast (

jfruh writes: In the dystopian future of 'Escape From New York,' soldier of fortune Snake Plissken must rescue a presidential speech — of which only one copy exists, on cassette tape. In the high-tech world of 'Minority Report,' Tom Cruise manipulates UI elements by moving his hands in the air — but he has to wear gloves to do so, an accessory Kinect users have never needed. Considering how much efforts sci-fi writers put into imagining the future, it's amazing how often the tech in their stories is quickly surpassed by real life.

Submission + - How to kick Microsoft out of your organisation (

An anonymous reader writes: The story behind Munich City Council's decision to ditch Microsoft Windows and Office in favour of open source software. The project leader talks about why the shift was primarily about freedom, in this case freeing itself from being tied into Microsoft's infrastructure and having control over the software it uses. He talks about how the council managed to keep on track such a large project, affecting 15,000 people and spanning nine years. He also warns against organisations justifying the shift to open source software on the grounds that it will save money, arguing this approach is always likely to fail.

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