retroworks writes: USA General David Perkins, commander of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), led a symposium (taped address https://www.youtube.com/watch?...) where he alluded to a recent use by an unnamed "close ally" of a $3.4M dollar Patriot Missile to shoot down a $200 consumer drone. While the drone was successfully destroyed, the general presented it as a clear example of "overkill" and unsustainable military cost-benefit economics. Andrew Liptak of The Verge observes "The situation showed: whoever was flying the drone now knows that they can easily undermine this unnamed ally with the missiles. All they need to do is buy more cheap drones and fly them, running up the operational costs of that military."
retroworks writes: Reuters News reports that Samsung's SDI facility in Wuqing, Tianjin, China — the takeback facility responsible for recycling, among other things, the recalled Samsung Note 7 smartphones — has itself burst into flames. Nineteen fire trucks and 110 firefighters reportedly showed up to put out the blaze. The fire burst out in the area dedicated to managing scrap batteries and phones.
The same SDI subcontractor is set to start supplying lithium batteries for Samsung's upcoming flagship smartphone Galaxy S8 in the first quarter of this year. The S8 replaces the Galaxy Note 7 mode, which suffered a global recall last year due to battery defects. Electronics recycling factories are generally suffering increasing incidents of fire, as lithium batteries become exposed to oxygen during the recycling process.
retroworks writes: NYT has an interesting blow-by-blow story on two India Tech Center employees who informed on their call center fraud operation, which targeted Americans (especially recent immigrants) with fraudulent IRS calls and other scams. The building was surrounded by police, phone lines cut. Eventually 630 of the employees were released, and charges were brought against 70 managers and executives of the call center.
The article concludes that while the number of such scam calls fell by 95% following the raid, that even if 400 such centers were raided, that the business was too easy and too lucrative to successfully destroy.
retroworks writes: WikiLeaks said Monday that its founder Julian Assange’s internet link was severed by a “state party” and that “appropriate contingency plans” were activated.
The website’s announcement came hours after it published three cryptic tweets. The messages referenced Ecuador, Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth Office. Each tweet was matched with a string of numbers. Rumors on Reddit and Twitter said that the numbers triggered a so-called “dead man’s switch,” which could be enacted in case Assange did die. Gizmodo reported that such switches do exist,
retroworks writes: Several scientific journals reported (early 2016) on technological proposals to take the Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti species of mosquito the way of the dodo bird and passenger pigeon. As fear over the spread of the Zika virus spreads (Florida, Singapore), more business journals are exploring private sector investments to eradicate the species of mosquito entirely — an investment itch begging to be scratched. But will business be content with eradication of just "cockroach of mosquitos"? The headline on today's WSJ article begs the question "Why Not Kill Them All?" http://www.wsj.com/articles/mo...
Most articles seem to find extinction of the indoors attacking, dengue fever and malaria spreading Aedes aegypti a tantalizing prospect (MIT Review title "Humanitarian Cause" — https://www.technologyreview.c...). BBC weighed the approach more carefully, noting that mosquitoes make rain forests uninhabitable (and consequences of human populations in rain forests are usually disastrous). Investment channeling into the eradication of not just the most deadly species of the animal, but all 12 species of human — biting mosquitoes in the world, responsible for 500,000 deaths per year. Will capitalism would make the itch of mosquito bites forgotten... Forever?
retroworks writes: Interpol reports that a Nigerian behind thousands of online scams around the world has been arrested in the southern oil city of Port Harcourt. The 40-year-old man, known only as "Mike" is alleged to head a network of 40 individuals behind global scams worth more than $60m (£45m). His operations involved using malware to take over systems to compromise emails, as well as romance scams. Nigeria's anti-fraud agency was also involved in the arrest.
"In one case, a target was conned into paying out $15.4 m (£11m)," Interpol said in a statement. "Mike" also allegedly ran a money laundering network in China, Europe and the US. The network compromised email accounts of small to medium-sized businesses around the world. They would then send fake messages to buyers with instructions to make a payment to a bank account under their control.
retroworks writes: Steve Wilhite made the controversial declaration during an interview with the New York Times in the run up to the Webby Awards where he will accept a lifetime achievement award. He said he was proud of his creation but remained annoyed that most people failed to get its name right. "The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations," he said. "They are wrong. It is a soft 'G,' pronounced 'jif.' End of story."
retroworks writes: While it doesn't demonstrate time travel to be possible, per se, University of Queensland, Australia, physicists have shown how the concept can work via photons. Actual time travel would require a very fast revolution of a black hole, or "wormhole", according to the review. The abstract for the paper "Experimental simulation of closed timelike curves" http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2... states:
"Closed timelike curves are among the most controversial features of modern physics. As legitimate solutions to Einstein’s field equations, they allow for time travel, which instinctively seems paradoxical. However, in the quantum regime these paradoxes can be resolved, leaving closed timelike curves consistent with relativity. The study of these systems therefore provides valuable insight into nonlinearities and the emergence of causal structures in quantum mechanics—essential for any formulation of a quantum theory of gravity. Here we experimentally simulate the nonlinear behaviour of a qubit interacting unitarily with an older version of itself, addressing some of the fascinating effects that arise in systems traversing a closed timelike curve. These include perfect discrimination of non-orthogonal states and, most intriguingly, the ability to distinguish nominally equivalent ways of preparing pure quantum states. Finally, we examine the dependence of these effects on the initial qubit state, the form of the unitary interaction and the influence of decoherence."
retroworks writes: Motherboard has a fascinating story on the current state of 1980s Cocaine Kingpin Pablo Escobar's private Colombian menagerie of exotic African pet hippos. Since Escobar was killed in 1993, his palace has gone "feral". Colombia appointed some "zookeepers" but they have been unable to keep the pet hippos from replicating. Scientists and activists are divided on whether to kill off, contain, or embrace South America's newest pachyderm.
"“This is all speculative business right now. We have a lot of historic ecological analogs for things that originally came from Africa and were eventually found in the New World—like the extinct American lion, or relatives of elephants—but hippos are just not in that portfolio,” Douglas McCauley, a biology professor and hippo researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told me."
retroworks writes: Science Magazine, NPR and WSJ http://www.wsj.com/articles/ro... carry stories on Bioengineering lab at Harvard University which has engineered "robotic stingrays" out of heart cells taken from rats. The "bio robots" are controlled with light (or laser) signals. Let the obligs begin.
retroworks writes: Wall Street Journal (may be paywalled), CBS and Marketwatch all lead the morning with stories about the newest method of stealing (late model) cars. No need for hacking off the ignition switch and touching the wires to create a spark (controversial during broadcasts in 1970s television crime criticized for "teaching people to steal cars"). Thieves now use the laptop to access the automobile's computer system, and voila.
"Police and car insurers say thieves are using laptop computers to hack into late-model cars’ electronic ignitions to steal the vehicles, raising alarms about the auto industry’s greater use of computer controls."
"The discovery follows a recent incident in Houston in which a pair of car thieves were caught on camera using a laptop to start a 2010 Jeep Wrangler and steal it from the owner’s driveway. Police say the same method may have been used in the theft of four other late-model Wranglers and Cherokees in the city. None of the vehicles has been recovered."
The article concludes with the example filmed of a break in in Houston.
The thief, says the NICB’s Mr. Morris, likely used the laptop to manipulate the car’s computer to recognize a signal sent from an electronic key the thief then used to turn on the ignition. The computer reads the signal and allows the key to turn.
“We have no idea how many cars have been broken into using this method,” Mr. Morris said. “We think it is minuscule in the overall car thefts but it does show these hackers will do anything to stay one step ahead.”
No details on modifying the program to run on Android or IPhone — there's not yet "an app for that".
retroworks writes: The anti-LGBT and anti-soldier "Westboro Baptist Church" has gained notoriety for ugly posters and shouting at military funerals, claiming that individual deaths are evidence that God hates something as much as they do. The WBC has announced it intends to protest at funerals of "gays" murdered in Orlando, and as always, freedom of speech laws will allow their protest.
A group of volunteers from Orlando Shakespeare Theater have crafted a rather passive way of dealing with the WBC protests. The article in SFGATE shows how shoulder-born "wings" with white sheets (rather than contrarian protest signs) will be worn to muffle the noise of WBC protests without increasing noise and distracting from the funerals. (Does anyone on/. sell sound-proof white fabric?)
retroworks writes: Apple has refused to comply with a court order asking it to unlock the device owned by San Bernadino killers, dividing opinion over whether the firm should be compelled to do so. Mr McAfee sai his team would take on the task "free of charge". Insightful that going to the OEM is a bad precedent, and private contractors should be the first resource? Or is McAfee inserting himself in the debate for other reasons? McAfee makes a powerful case that FBI lacked the will to hire people to do the dirty work, needlessly pushing OEMs into a quagmire.
retroworks writes: Bloomberg columnist Adam Minter takes on Apple's "Error 53 Code" and the precedents being challenged by the Right To Repair movement. Apple claims that bricking the phone if it's repaired by a non-Apple certified repair shop protects you from tampering with, say, the fingerprint scanner. But the column documents how the number of "certified" repair shops is under attack. If you can't open it, do you really own it?