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Submission + - Caterpillars Munch Plastic Bags. An Insect Solution to the Problem of Landills. (sciencemag.org)

Yergle143 writes: We live in an age of plastic. Finding uses at every level of human enterprise and industry, our plastic polymer refuse will be the unmistakable signature of our civilization. The chemically inert nature of plastics is the feature that makes recycling difficult. Someday enriched deposits of Prell bottles and Saran Wrap may decorate a geologic layer that defines us as clearly as the calcium carbonate exoskeleton of extinct bivalves. As reported in the Journal Current Biology a serendipitous discovery may form the basis for a biological remedy to our plastic waste problem. While purging empty bee hives of an infestation by the larvae of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonell) who dine on beeswax, researchers at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain, found that caterpillars that had been placed in a an ordinary plastic grocery bag were able to rapidly eat their way out. They report that these voracious wax worms, due to the action of their own suite of enzymes or that of their microflora, can breakdown polyethylene to polyethylene glycol, a substance found in antifreeze and one that is easily metabolized. While other reports on the bioremediation of polyethylene plastics have appeared, the wax worm seems to exhibit a special processivity for this intractable polymeric material. Is our age of plastic at wax?

Submission + - NASA Launching Super Pressure Balloon - Wanaka, New Zealand (nzherald.co.nz)

rupert.applin writes: The NZ Herald is reporting the launch of another super pressure balloon from Wanaka Airport in New Zealand.

"A stadium-sized balloon launch conducted by Nasa is going ahead in Wanaka after seven failed attempts.

Nasa will be conducting a super-pressure balloon test flight from Wanaka on a planned 100-day journey.

After launch the balloon will ascend to an altitude of 33.5 kilometres where the stratospheric winds will propel it at speeds of at least 100 knots through the heating and cooling of the day-night cycle on a weeks-long journey around the Southern Hemisphere, said Debbie Fairbrother, Nasa's Balloon Programme Office chief."

Submission + - Leaked NSA hacking tools will be weaponized for years to come (cyberscoop.com)

Patrick O'Neill writes: Over 200,000 machines have been infected with NSA tools leaked by the ShadowBrokers. Security researchers, seeing as many as 25,000 new infections per day, say the “reliable and easy to use” tools will be workable in the wild for the next decade. There's precedent to back this up: The most exploited vulnerability in both 2015 and 2016 was the software flaw, first discovered in 2010, that allowed the famous Stuxnet virus to spread.

Submission + - Quick Tutorial: Deleting Your Data Using Google's "My Activity" (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: Since posting "The Google Page That Google Haters Don’t Want You to Know About" last week, I’ve received a bunch of messages from readers asking for help using Google’s “My Activity” page to control, inspect, and/or delete their data on Google. The My Activity portal is quite comprehensive and can be used in many different ways, but to get you started I’ll briefly outline how to use My Activity to delete activity data.

Submission + - A caterpillar may lead to a "plastic pollution" solution. (bbc.com)

FatdogHaiku writes: Researchers at Cambridge University have discovered that the larvae of the moth, which eats wax in bee hives, can also degrade plastic.

They think microbes in the caterpillar — as well as the insect itself — might play a role in breaking down plastic. If the chemical process can be identified, it could lead to a solution to managing plastic waste in the environment.

Submission + - How Online Shopping Makes Suckers of Us All (theatlantic.com)

Thelasko writes: Will you pay more for those shoes before 7 p.m.? Would the price tag be different if you lived in the suburbs? Standard prices and simple discounts are giving way to far more exotic strategies, designed to extract every last dollar from the consumer.

Submission + - NSA's DoublePulsar Kernel Exploit A 'Bloodbath' (threatpost.com)

msm1267 writes: A little more than two weeks after the latest ShadowBrokers leak of NSA hacking tools, experts are certain that the DoublePulsar post-exploitation Windows kernel attack will have similar staying power to the Conficker bug, and that pen-testers will be finding servers exposed to the flaws patched in MS17-010 for years to come.

MS17-010 was released in March and it closes a number of holes in Windows SMB Server exploited by the NSA. Exploits such as EternalBlue, EternalChampion, EternalSynergy and EternalRomance that are part of the Fuzzbunch exploit platform all drop DoublePulsar onto compromised hosts. DoublePulsar is a sophisticated memory-based kernel payload that hooks onto x86 and 64-bit systems and allows an attacker to execute any raw shellcode payload they wish.

“This is a full ring0 payload that gives you full control over the system and you can do what you want to it,” said Sean Dillon, senior security analyst at RiskSense. Dillon was the first to reverse-engineer a DoublePulsar payload, and published his analysis last Friday.

“This is going to be on networks for years to come. The last major vulnerability of this class was MS08-067, and it’s still found in a lot of places,” Dillon said. “I find it everywhere. This is the most critical Windows patch since that vulnerability.”

Dan Tentler, founder and CEO of Phobos Group, said internet-net wide scans he’s running have found about 3.1 percent of vulnerable machines are already infected (between 62,000 and 65,000 so far), and that percentage is likely to go up as scans continue.

“This is easily describable as a bloodbath,” Tentler said.

Submission + - Lyrebird claims it can recreate anyone's voice based on just a 1 minute sample

Artem Tashkinov writes: Today a Canadian artificial intelligence startup named Lyrebird unveiled its voice imitation deep learning algorithm that can mimic a person's voice and have it read any text with a given emotion, based on the analysis of just a few dozen seconds of audio recording. The website features samples using the recreated voices of Donald Trump, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. A similar technology was created by Adobe around a year ago but it requires over 20 minutes of recorded speech. The company sets to open its APIs to public, while the computing for the task will be performed in the cloud.

Submission + - Ontario launches Universal Basic Income Pilot (www.cbc.ca)

epiphani writes: The Ontario Government will pilot universal basic income in a $50M program supporting 4,000 households over a 3 year period. While Slashdot has vigorously debated universal basic income in the past, and even Elon Musk has predicted it's necessity, experts continue to debate and gather data on the approach in the face of increasing automation. Ontario's plan will study three communities over three years, with participants receiving up to $17,000 annually if single, and $24,000 for families.

Submission + - Once-Flush Startups Struggle to Stay Alive as Investors Get Pickier (wsj.com)

An anonymous reader writes: From The Wall Street Journal: "Eighteen months ago, Beepi Inc. was rapidly expanding its online used-car business to 16 U.S. cities where people could buy cut-rate vehicles adorned with giant shiny bows. Beepi doesn’t exist anymore. After burning through more than $120 million in capital, the startup failed to raise more cash and shut down in February. Its roughly 270 employees cleared out of the cavernous Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, leaving behind the ping-pong table and putting green. Beepi’s rapid demise offers a glimpse into the changing fortunes of Silicon Valley startups, many of which have struggled to adjust since a two-year investment frenzy came to an end. In 2014 and 2015, mutual funds, hedge funds and other investors pumped billions into companies that they now see as overvalued, and unlikely to pull off an initial public offering. As venture capitalists became more discerning, investment in U.S. tech startups plummeted by 30% in dollar terms last year from a year earlier."

Submission + - Computer pioneer Harry Huskey dies aged 101 (bbc.co.uk)

Big Hairy Ian writes: Engineer Harry Huskey, who helped build many of the first ever computers, has died aged 101.
Dr Huskey was a key member of the team that built the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (Eniac) which first ran in February 1946.
Eniac is widely considered to be one of the first electronic, general purpose, programmable computers.
Dr Huskey also helped complete work on the Ace — the Automatic Computing Engine — designed by Alan Turing.

Submission + - Will the high-tech cities of the future be utterly lonely? (theweek.com)

BoRegardless writes: The question here is whether what seems to be tech inspired loneliness as imagined by Slashdotters will occur or will people accommodate themselves to the future that is already starting to happen. The article notes " almost two-thirds of 16- to 24-year-old Brits said they feel lonely at least some of the time, while almost a third are lonely often or all the time."
Has the smartphone made personal interactions better or worse. Do Slashdotters who are intimately involved with tech think we move on and change over time to increase personal relationships or not?

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