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Submission + - Steve Wozniak chimes in on the Apple/FBI debate (networkworld.com)

An anonymous reader writes: At this point, it seems that there's truly no end in sight for Apple's ongoing legal battle with the FBI. While the FBI and the DOJ have made it clear that they want Apple to create a new version of iOS designed to bypass iOS security mechanisms, Apple has made it clear that it's not even going to entertain the idea. Quite the opposite, Apple CEO Tim Cook even categorized the FBI's request as akin to asking Apple to create the software equivalent of cancer.

Recently, Steve Wozniak was asked for his thoughts on the Apple/FBI saga while engaging in a question and answer discussion on Reddit.

When asked point blank what his thoughts were on the topic, Woz responded in part:

"So, I come from the side of personal liberties. But there are also other problems. Twice in my life I wrote things that could have been viruses. I threw away every bit of source code. I just got a chill inside. These are dangerous, dangerous things, and if some code gets written in an Apple product that lets people in, bad people are going to find their way to it, very likely."

Submission + - How does one store keyfiles securely, but still accessible in case of emergency? 2

castionsosa writes: With various utilities like borgbackup, NetBackup, zbackup, and others, one uses a keyfile on the client as the way to encrypt and decrypt data. Similar with PGP, GnuPG, and other OpenPGP utilities for the private keys. However, there is a balance between security (keeping the keyfile in as few places as possible) and recoverability (keeping many copies of it). Go too far one way, and one will be unable to restore after a disaster. Go far the other way, and the encryption can wind up compromised.

I have looked at a few methods. PaperBack (which allows one to print a binary file, then scan it) gives mixed results, and if there is any non-trivial misalignment, it won't retrieve. Printing a uuencoded version out is doable, but there would be issues for scanning, or worse retyping. There is obviously media storage (USB flash drive, CD-ROM), but flash isn't an archival grade medium, and optical drives are getting rarer as time goes on. Of course, stashing a keyfile in the cloud isn't a wise idea, because once one loses physical control of the medium the file is stored on, one can't be sure where it can end up, and encrypting it just means another key (be it a passphrase or another keyfile) is stored somewhere else. I settled upon having a physical folder in a few locations which contains a USB flash drive, CD-R, and a printed copy, but I'm sure there is a better way to do this.

Has anyone else run into this, either for personal recoverability of encrypted data, or for a company? Any suggestions for striking a balance between being able to access keyfiles after disasters of various sizes (ransomware, fire, tornado, hurricane) while keeping them out of the wrong hands?

Submission + - SPAM: Goodyear Reveals Levitating Spherical Tires for driverless cars 1

An anonymous reader writes: Goodyear has unveiled a ‘visionary’ tire design which suspends spherical orbs through a magnetic levitation system. The new ‘Eagle-360’ concept tires are designed with driverless cars in mind, and would allow for a smoother driving experience and offer greater manoeuvrability, making it easier to move quickly in any direction and to park in tight spaces. Other features include sensor connectivity, to provide real-time information on tire pressure and tread wear, and a tailored 3D-printed tread which adapts to the driver’s habits and changing weather conditions – stiffening in dry conditions and softening when wet.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - NASA Will Intentionally Burn Unmanned Orbiting Craft In Space (phys.org)

An anonymous reader writes: NASA said it will test the effects of a large fire in space by setting off a blaze inside an orbiting unmanned space craft. NASA has set off tiny controlled fires in space in the past, but never tested how large flames react inside a space capsule in space. The goal is to measure the size of the flames, how quickly they spread, the heat output, and how much gas is emitted. The results of this experiment, dubbed Saffire-1, will determine how much fire resistance is needed in the ultra-light material used in the spacecraft and the astronaut's gear. It will also help NASA build better fire detection and suppression systems for their spaceships, and study how microgravity and limited amounts of oxygen affect the size of the flames.

Submission + - Is it time Microsoft's Skype put encryption back in the hands of users? (windowsitpro.com)

v3rgEz writes: As Facebook, Google, and Apple have all taken major steps towards locking down and better encrypting user communications, there's a notable exception to the trend: Microsoft's Skype. Initially supporting end-to-end encryption, protocol changes left users vulnerable to government interception, including bulk collection by the NSA. Is it time Microsoft rethought how Skype encryption is handled?

Submission + - Windows 10 Upgrade Reportedly Starting Automatically On Windows 7 PCs (softpedia.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Many users have confirmed in the comment section of a popular reddit post that "Windows 7 computers are being reported as automatically starting the Windows 10 upgrade without permission." It's no secret that Microsoft wants users to upgrade to their new OS. Earlier in the year, Windows 10 was set as a 'recommended update' so when you install new security or bug patches, the new OS is selected by default as well. Terry Myerson, head of the OS group at Microsoft, warned users about the possibility of the OS automatically installing. "Depending upon your Windows Update settings, this may cause the upgrade process to automatically initiate on your device. Before the upgrade changes the OS of your device, you will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue," he said. Whether or not the recent outcry is caused from users forgetting to deselect the Windows 10 upgrade in the update list or Microsoft is truly updating Windows 7 PCs without users' permission, the good news is that you have 30 days to downgrade to the previous version of the OS.

Submission + - TP-Link Blocks Open Source Router Firmware To Comply with FCC Rules

An anonymous reader writes: TP-Link writes in a statement, "The FCC requires all manufacturers to prevent user from having any direct ability to change RF parameters (frequency limits, output power, country codes, etc.) In order to keep our products compliant with these implemented regulations, TP-LINK is distributing devices that feature country-specific firmware. Devices sold in the United States will have firmware and wireless settings that ensure compliance with local laws and regulations related to transmission power. As a result of these necessary changes, users are not able to flash the current generation of open-source, third-party firmware. We are excited to see the creative ways members of the open-source community update the new firmware to meet their needs. However, TP-LINK does not offer any guarantees or technical support for customers attempting to flash any third-party firmware to their devices."

Submission + - Doom Multiplayer Expected To Be A Gloriously Bloody Railgun Slug To The Senses (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: The latest installment in the Doom franchise is due to launch on May 13th. While beta testers await the closed multiplayer round, which will run from March 31st through April 3rd, Bethesda has just offered a taste of what to expect with a new trailer. The multiplayer beta is a rush to the senses and offers the usual brutal gameplay reminiscent of previous Doom titles but with a huge boost in graphics fidelity and special effects. However, the somewhat colorful palette and character models remind us a little of the Unreal engine, mixed in with a dash of Halo. One of the more interesting features highlighted in the trailer, is the ability to transform from an ordinary soldier into ravenous demon. How'd you like to rip the limbs off your opponents with ease or devour their noggins as if you were biting the head off a chocolate bunny? Have at it in the Doom multiplayer.

Submission + - Hotel Experience With Android Lightswitches (dreamwidth.org)

jones_supa writes: The hotel in which Matthew Garrett was staying at, had decided that light switches are unfashionable and replaced them with a series of Android tablets. In his tour to the system, one was quickly met with a glitch message "UK_bathroom isn't responding". Anyway, two of the tablets had convenient-looking Ethernet cables plugged into the wall, so MacGyver began hacking. He managed to borrow a couple of USB Ethernet adapters, set up a transparent bridge and then stuck his laptop between the tablet and the wall. Tcpdump showed traffic, and Wireshark revealed that it was Modbus over TCP. Modbus is a pretty trivial protocol, and does not implement authentication. The Pymodbus tool could be used to control lights, turn the TV on/off and even close and open the curtains. Then he noticed something. His room number was 714. The IP address he was communicating with was 172.16.207.14. They wouldn't, would they? Indeed, he could access the control systems on every floor and query other rooms to figure out whether the lights were on or not, which strongly implies that he could control them as well.

Submission + - A Timely Fix for a Grand Theory of Nature (quantamagazine.org)

An anonymous reader writes: In 2011, the ecologist Ryan Chisholm was looking at tree census data from 12 different forests around the world. More than 4,000 species of trees grew in these places, their numbers rising and falling over the years. The pictures the numbers painted were of ecosystems where a species’ fortunes could change nearly overnight, on an ecological timescale. For instance, a small, glossy-leaved tree called Inga marginata had 400 individuals in a Panamanian forest plot in 2005; by 2010 it had nearly doubled its numbers.

In all 12 forests, however, one detail was particularly notable. The speed and magnitude of the changes didn’t look anything like what would have been predicted by one of the leading theories in theoretical ecology. Models based on that idea, called neutral theory, have shown that the distribution of species over the landscape can be explained using surprisingly simple inputs. But here the theory was breaking down. “You look at how big these fluctuations are,” Chisholm said. “And they’re just enormous. They’re so much bigger than what neutral theory would predict. Orders of magnitude bigger.”

When Chisholm gave a talk at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, where he was a postdoc, he learned that other people had noticed the same thing. Whatever its successes, neutral theory did not model change well at all — even its estimates of how long it would take a species to go extinct could be tens to hundreds of times longer than the reality. A flurry of papers from various groups since then, including one by Chisholm and collaborators appearing yesterday in Ecology, look to answer the question: Can neutral theory be adapted so that it shows changes over time? And is it possible to link a beautifully simple model more closely with the complex messiness of biology without damaging the model?

Submission + - SPAM: Microsoft announces plans for SQL Server for Linux

Gocho writes: Today we announce our plans to bring SQL Server to Linux as well. This will enable SQL Server to deliver a consistent data platform across Windows Server and Linux, as well as on-premises and cloud. We are bringing the core relational database capabilities to preview today, and are targeting availability in mid-2017. SQL Server on Linux will provide customers with even more flexibility in their data solution. One with mission-critical performance, industry-leading TCO, best-in-class security, and hybrid cloud innovations – like Stretch Database which lets customers access their data on-premises and in the cloud whenever they want at low cost – all built in.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Windows is Dying (at least, the revenue) (computerworld.com) 1

phantomfive writes: For years, Windows was the cash cow for Microsoft, the crown jewel. Now, it accounts for less than 10% of Microsoft's revenue. Microsoft's cloud service is the biggest segment of revenue, prompting CEO Nadella to say, "The enterprise cloud opportunity is larger than any market we've ever participated in." This could explain why Microsoft has been porting software to Android.

Submission + - Sweeping changes at Microsoft Studios kill Lionhead Studios and Fable (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: Microsoft has announced sweeping changes at Microsoft Studios, affecting development teams in the UK and Denmark. In sad news for gamers, development of Fable Legends has been brought to an end. The Fable series is one that has suffered numerous setbacks and delays over the years, but this is the biggest blow yet.

More than this, the team behind Fable — Lionhead Studios — is at risk of closure, and Microsoft is in talk with employees about this. General Manager of Microsoft Studios Europe, Hanno Lemke also announced that Press Play Studios in Denmark will close, leading to the end of development on Project Knoxville.

Submission + - What is the most amazing code you've written?

sapped writes: We often hear about atrocious code highlighted on sites like The Daily WTF. Today I would like to hear from the other side of the spectrum. What's the most inspired code you've written?

Tell us which language you used and what made the code stand out for you? Was it a clever hack in the language or was it the circumstances surrounding the coding itself?

For me, it was a piece of ABAP code needed to quickly transfer data from one SAP system to another. It was a pretty technical challenge to handle the contents of any selected table.

Submission + - Google challenge results in astoundingly efficient inverters

AmiMoJo writes: A few summers ago, Google and IEEE announced a one million dollar prize to build the most efficient and compact DC to AC inverter. It was called the Little Box Challenge, with the goal of a 2kW inverter with a power density greater than 50 Watts per cubic inch. Typical solar inverters have a density of about 5 W/cubic inch. Now the results are in, with the winners hitting 143 W/cubic inch using GaN transistors, and two other teams meeting Google's goal.

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