smi.james.th writes: The Register has a scoop today reporting on some work from the researchers at Kaspersky Labs: "America's National Security Agency (NSA) has infected hard disk firmware with spyware in a campaign valued as highly as Stuxnet and dating back at least 14 years, and possibly up to two decades." This hardware- (firmware-?) level attack conceptually allows the NSA access to basically any computer on the planet.
In a traditional laser, the laser beam is shaped inside a box with two mirrors – the curvature of these mirrors determines the size and shape of the beam. If a researcher, company or manufacturer requires a different beam, they either have to replace one of the mirrors in the laser or manipulate the beam once it comes out of the laser using a spatial light modulator. Lasers [are expensive], and altering them is a lengthy and costly exercise. ... The CSIR team, which is part of the National Laser Centre, has shown it is possible to alter the beam from inside the laser by replacing one of the mirrors with a computer interface. The research was published in scientific journal Nature Communications last month.
smi.james.th writes: Towards the end of last week I found out about Tormail, and it seemed like just the thing I wanted — I'm a long-time GMail user (since before it was open to the public) but the recent exploits of Google (shutting down Google Reader, their pushing of Google+ everywhere, etc.) and the facts revealed by Snowden suggested to me that it was time to stop trusting cloud providers and take a bit more of an interest in privacy and anonymity. So I signed up and emailed many of my contacts to say that @tormail.org was my new address... only to have the site go down almost before I could read any responses. Today on/. I read about the operation by the FBI affecting many Tor sites, Tormail one of them. Just my luck. Is there a reliable, secure alternative for email for a person like me? I'd prefer not to have to host it myself, I don't really think I have the skills, but if there's a package that's simple and reliable then that would be first prize. Basically anything to get my life out of Google's (and the FBI's) hands...
smi.james.th writes: A laboratory grown kidney has successfully been transplanted into rats by scientists at Massachusets General Hospital, and is producing urine. Prof. Martin Birchall is quoted by the article as saying that "being able to do this for people needing an organ transplant could revolutionise medicine."
smi.james.th writes: Several sites report that Australian researcher David Harrich and his team have potentially discovered a way to stop HIV becoming AIDS and ultimately cure the disease. From the article: "What we've actually done is taken a normal virus protein that the virus needs to grow, and we've changed this protein, so that instead of assisting the virus, it actually impedes virus replication and does it quite strongly." This could potentially hail one of modern medicine's greatest victories.
smi.james.th writes: Here on Slashdot, the concept that older models of business need to be updated to keep with the times is often mentioned. A friend of mine owns a DVD rental store, and he often listens to potential customers walk out, saying that they'd rather download the movie, and not because his prices are unreasonable. With the local telco on a project to boost internet speeds, my friend feels as though the end is near for his livelihood. So, Slashdotters, I put it to you: What can a DVD store owner do to make his store more relevant? What services would you pay for at a DVD store?
smi.james.th writes: I've recently become involved with an old family friend, a bachelor who during his life hoarded a lot of stuff, and it looks as though he might not be able to take care of himself any more. There's a strong possibility that he'll take up residence in a care home or with someone else, and my family have offered to help him deal with his house. The challenge is, he has many old appliances in varying states of not working, things like a fridge, a microwave, a kettle, some power tools and other things of varying sizes, mostly from the late 70s and 80s, including a very old computer with a CRT monitor which also doesn't work. My question is, how does one go about getting rid of all of this stuff? Would doing so pose some environmental risk? There's no point to selling it because it doesn't work. Can it be recycled? What sort of firm would take it away?
smi.james.th writes: The NYTimes has a piece today which says: "Grade-school students in a northeastern Brazilian city are using uniforms embedded with computer chips that alert parents if they are cutting classes, the city’s education secretary, Coriolano Moraes, said Thursday." Personally I don't find this too inspiring. Mr Orwell certainly has warned the world about this.
smi.james.th writes: Make magazine has an interesting piece on a concept for Wi-Fi enabled smart rubbish bins, which are also coincidentally bomb-proof. From the article: "The gadget: bomb-proof recycle bins with dual-screen LCDs. The info on the screens: Stuff only business folk would enjoy, like London stock exchange numbers and content from The Economist. The total cost to install: About $47,000 for 25 smart bins. The future: London wants to install 75 more of these high-tech trash cans by before the 2012 London Olympics.."
smi.james.th writes: Make magazine has a piece on an invention by Steve Hoefer, a DIY ultrasonic glove. From the article: "Using it is super intuitive: with your hand extended, the servos vibrate as you get closer to an object, like a wall, and alert you to stop or change route. The closer the object, the greater pressure Tacit puts on your wrist." This sounds like a great invention, it's a cool toy but it may have applications for e.g. the visually impaired as well.
smi.james.th writes: There's an article on The Huffington Post that describes the treatment of a man named Timothy Ray Brown for leukemia using a transplant of stem cells back in 2007. From the article: 'His doctors recently published a report in the journal Blood affirming that the results of extensive testing "strongly suggest that cure of HIV infection has been achieved." ' The article unfortunately does not describe how the treatment affected Brown's leukemia, but if the findings turn out to be true, 'they can certainly provide hope for the more than 33 million people living with HIV worldwide.' As far as I'm aware, this is the first time in history that an HIV-positive person has been cured of the virus, so hopefully soon enough, that cure can be available to more people around the globe.
smi.james.th writes: At IEEE Spectrum there is an interesting article about Bill Buzbee, a software developer that has built his own webserver, the scale of which achievement becomes unusual when you learn that he has done it by "wire-wrapping together some two hundred 74-series TTL chips." He calls his hand-made CPU Magic-1 and claims it has comparable performance with an Intel 8086.