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Submission + - A close call of 0.8 light years

t4ng* writes: A group of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile and South Africa have determined that 70,000 years ago a recently discovered dim star is likely to have passed through the solar system’s distant cloud of comets, the Oort Cloud. No other star is known to have ever approached our solar system this close – five times closer than the current closest star, Proxima Centauri.

What was happening on Earth 70,000 years ago? For one thing, Homo Sapiens were almost completely wiped out by the effects of super volcano Toba.

Submission + - Business is Booming in the 'Zero-Day' Game

HonorPoncaCityDotCom writes: Want to be a millionaire? Forget about writing the next killer Andriod app as Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger write in the NY Times that all over the world, from South Africa to South Korea, business is booming in “zero days,” the coding flaws in software like Microsoft Windows that can give a buyer unfettered access to a computer. The average attack persists for almost a year — 312 days — before it is detected, according to Symantec, the maker of antivirus software. Until then it can be exploited or “weaponized” by both criminals and governments to spy on, steal from or attack their target. Ten years ago, hackers would hand knowledge of such flaws to Microsoft and Google free in exchange for a T-shirt but increasingly the market for 0-day exploits, has begun to migrate into the commercial space (PDF) as the market for information about computer vulnerabilities has turned into a gold rush. Companies like Vupen charge customers an annual $100,000 subscription fee to shop through its catalog, and then charges per sale. to countries who want to use the flaws in pursuit of the kind of success that the United States and Israel achieved three summers ago when they attacked Iran’s nuclear enrichment program with a computer worm that became known as “Stuxnet.” Israel, Britain, Russia, India and Brazil are some of the biggest spenders but North Korea is also in the market, as are some Middle Eastern intelligence services. "If someone comes to you with a bug that could affect millions of devices and says, ‘You would be the only one to have this if you pay my fee,’ there will always be someone inclined to pay it," says Howard Schmidt, a former White House cybersecurity coordinator. “Unfortunately, dancing with the devil in cyberspace has been pretty common.”

Submission + - What Medical Tests Should Teach Us about the NSA Surveillance Program

Davak writes: In many ways finding the small amount of terrorists within the United States is like screening a population of people for a rare disease. A physician explains why collecting excessive data is actually dangerous. Each time a test is run, the number of people incorrectly identified quickly dwarfs the correct matches. Just like in medicine, being incorrectly labelled has serious consequences.

Submission + - Whistleblowing IT Director Fired by FL State Attorney

An anonymous reader writes: Ben Kruidbos, the IT director for the Florida State Attorney's Office who'd spoken up when important cellphone evidence he'd extracted from Trayvon Martin's cellphone was withheld by the state from the defense, was fired by messenger at 7:30 PM, after closing arguments in the Zimmerman case. He was told that he could not be "trusted to set foot in this office," and that he was being fired for incompetence. Kruidbos had received a merit pay raise earlier this year. The firing letter also blames him for consulting a lawyer, an obvious sign of evil.

Submission + - Hanford nuclear waste vitrification plant "too dangerous" (yahoo.com)

Noryungi writes: Scientific American reports, in a chilling story, that the Hanford, Washington, nuclear waste vitrification treatment plant is off to a bad start. Bad planning, multiple sources of radioactive waste, leaking containment pools are just the beginning. It's never a good sign when that type of article includes the word "spontaneous criticality", if you follow my drift...
Youtube

Submission + - Skydiver Baumgartner sets YouTube live view record (bbc.co.uk)

another random user writes: Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner smashed a number of records with his "edge of space" stunt — including for live streaming.

More than eight million people flocked to their devices to watch the 43-year-old break the speed of sound live on Google's YouTube site. It is the largest number of concurrent live streams in the website's history, Google UK confirmed to the BBC.

Microsoft

Submission + - Why Visual Basic 6 Still Thrives

theodp writes: Microsoft recently extended 'It Just Works' compatibility for Visual Basic 6 applications through the full lifetime of Windows 8, so VB6 apps will have at least 24 years of supported lifetime (VB6 shipped in '98). So why has VB6, "the un-killable cockroach" in the Windows ecosystem, managed to thrive? 'Cockroaches are successful because they're simple,' explains David S. Platt. 'They do what they need to do for their ecological niche and no more. Visual Basic 6 did what its creators intended for its market niche: enable very rapid development of limited programs by programmers of lesser experience.' But when Microsoft proudly trotted out VB.NET, the 'full-fledged language' designed to turn VB6 'bus drivers' into 'fighter pilots', they got a surprise. 'Almost all Visual Basic 6 programmers were content with what Visual Basic 6 did,' explains Platt. 'They were happy to be bus drivers: to leave the office at 5 p.m. (or 4:30 p.m. on a really nice day) instead of working until midnight; to play with their families on weekends instead of trudging back to the office; to sleep with their spouses instead of pulling another coding all-nighter and eating cold pizza for breakfast. They didn’t lament the lack of operator overloading or polymorphism in Visual Basic 6, so they didn’t say much.'
Privacy

Submission + - 30,000 Electronic Surveillance Orders Issued Per Year In US (ssrn.com)

SmartAboutThings writes: "Have you ever had the feeling that somebody is watching you? For some, it might be just the paranoia talking, but in reality, should we be concerned? According to the paper recently published by US Magistrate Judge Stephan Smith entitled “Gagged, Sealed & Delivered” we should be very worried. In the essay, he makes the unsettling presumption that federal judges are apparently issuing 30,000 secret electronic surveillance orders each year."
Privacy

Submission + - 30,000 Electronic Surveillance Orders Issued Per Year In US (ssrn.com)

SmartAboutThings writes: "Have you ever had the feeling that somebody is watching you? For some, it might be just the paranoia talking, but in reality, should we be concerned? According to the paper recently published by US Magistrate Judge Stephan Smith entitled “Gagged, Sealed & Delivered” we should be very worried. In the essay, he makes the unsettling presumption that federal judges are apparently issuing 30,000 secret electronic surveillance orders each year."

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