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Submission + - Pentagon office planning 'Avatar' fighters and drone swarms (washingtonpost.com)

schwit1 writes: High over Alaska last summer, the Pentagon experimented with new, secret prototypes: Micro-drones that can be launched from the flare dispensers of moving F-16s and F/A-18 fighter jets. Canisters containing the tiny aircraft descended from the jets on parachutes before breaking open, allowing wings on each drone to swing out and catch the wind. Inch-wide propellers on the back provided propulsion as they found one another and created a swarm.

Submission + - Easychromium is a bash script for compiling Chromium from source on OS X 3

An anonymous reader writes: Hi Slashdot, easychromium is the first publicly available method for downloading and building the Chromium browser from source on OS X. Previous options for installing Chromium on OSX involve installing a binary from homebrew cask or from freesmug.

Only one of these alternatives offers a checksum for the code, and even then it's not signed. And one of them distributes via sourceforge, recently criticized for putting adware into open source projects (the recent change in management and elimination of the DevShare program happened mid-development). I wanted a cleaner install path that could give users confidence in their browser, and couldn't find one online, so I built a script.

After extensive testing and collaboration on the Chromium-dev list, I released v2 of the script. For my first project with bash and compiling source it was a real journey to get this accomplished, and I'm grateful for the help and encouragement I've received. I hope you enjoy and welcome any feedback for improvement!

Submission + - KeRanger Mac Ransomware Is Actually Based on a Linux Ransomware, not Windows

An anonymous reader writes: It appears that the KeRanger ransomware that's been tormenting Mac users for the past days is actually based on a ransomware variant that targets Linux servers, and not on a ransomware family coming from Windows.

That particular Linux ransomware, is also based on an open-source ransomware called Hidden Tear, that was uploaded to GitHub by a Turkish security researcher. So obviously, the conclusion is that GitHub is to blame for the KeRanger Mac ransomware.

Submission + - Biological Supercomputing Breakthru

wermske writes: Utilizing nanotechnology and protein power, an international team of researchers announced they have created a biological computer that can solve complex, combinatorial problems far faster and more energy-efficiently than conventional electrical computers. The findings, models, and proof-of-concept have been published at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Submission + - President of Brazil Lashes Out at NSA Espionage Programs in Speech to UN

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: The Guardian reports that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff launched a blistering attack on US espionage at the UN general assembly, accusing the NSA of violating international law by its indiscriminate collection of personal information of Brazilian citizens and economic espionage targeted on the country's strategic industries. "Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately. Corporate information – often of high economic and even strategic value – was at the center of espionage activity," said Rousseff. "Brazilian diplomatic missions, among them the permanent mission to the UN and the office of the president of the republic itself, had their communications intercepted." Rousseff's angry speech was a direct challenge to President Barack Obama, who was waiting in the wings to deliver his own address to the UN general assembly, and represented the most serious diplomatic fallout to date from the revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Washington's efforts to smooth over Brazilian outrage over NSA espionage have so far been rebuffed by Rousseff, who has proposed that Brazil build its own internet infrastructure. "Friendly governments and societies that seek to build a true strategic partnership, as in our case, cannot allow recurring illegal actions to take place as if they were normal. They are unacceptable."

Submission + - Senate Intelligence Committee To Hold Hearing On NSA On Thursday (mcclatchydc.com)

cold fjord writes: McClatchy reports, "The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold its first public hearing Thursday related to NSA’s once secret collection of telephone and internet data since the existence of the program was disclosed last June. The committee previously discussed the matter behind closed doors after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details about the agency's programs to the media. This time, committee members will talk publicly about proposed reforms ... Since Snowden’s leaks to the media, the Obama administration has declassified documents that detailed NSA violations, including the collection of tens of thousands of emails of Americans in a program designed to target foreigners. In response, the secret court that oversees NSA surveillance programs, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, ruled the program unconstitutional, forcing the NSA to change its practices. Administration officials have downplayed the violations although some members of Congress have said they demonstrate NSA has needs more aggressive oversight."

Submission + - Facebook Autofill Wants to Store User's Credit Card Info

cagraham writes: Facebook has teamed up with payment processors PayPal, Braintree, and Stripe, in an attempt to simplify mobile payments. The system allows Facebook members (who have turned over their credit and billing info) to click a "Autofill with Facebook" button when checking-out on a mobile app. Facebook will then verify the details, and securely transfer a user's info over to the payment processing company. The move is likely aimed at gathering more data on user behavior, which can be used to increase the prices Facebook charges for mobile ads. Whether or not the feature takes off however, will depend almost entirely on how willing users are to trust Facebook with their credit card data.

Submission + - India To Build 4GW Solar Plant (thinkprogress.org)

Greg Hullender writes: "Indian utilities plan to use 23,000 acres of land to build the largest solar power plant in the world, at 4 gigawatts of power, bringing prices and production of solar energy closer to competitiveness with coal."

This would be a solar plant on the scale of a nuclear power plant. First phase (1GW) by 2016, selling the power for ~9-cents-US/KWH. No indication of any technical breakthrough; the plan appears to be simply to benefit from economy of scale. That and the fact that coal is rather expensive in India.

Submission + - Linus Torvalds Admits He's Been Asked to Insert NSA Backdoor (eweek.com)

darthcamaro writes: At the Linuxcon conference in New Orleans today, Linus Torvalds joined fellow kernel developers in answering a barrage of questions about Linux development. One question he was asked was whether a government agency had ever asked about inserting a back-door into Linux.

Torvalds responded "no" while shaking his head "yes," as the audience broke into spontaneous laughter.

Torvalds also admitted that while he as a full life outside of Linux he couldn't imagine his life without it.

While Torvalds has a full life outside Linux, it is at the core of his existence, he said. "I don't see any project coming along being more interesting to me than Linux," Torvalds said. "I couldn't imagine filling the void in my life if I didn't have Linux." /blockquote.

Submission + - NSA Monitoring Inter-Bank Transfer and Credit Card Transactions

Jeremiah Cornelius writes: NSA surveillance of private financial activity is a big story in Europe, co-authored by Laura Poitras, the filmmaker who was first contacted by Edward Snowden for the release of his information. "Classified documents show that the intelligence agency has several means of accessing the internal data traffic of SWIFT, used by more than 8,000 banks worldwide for their international transactions. The NSA specifically targets other institutes on an individual basis. A document from the year 2011 clearly designates the SWIFT computer network as a "target." Late last week, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs said that the Americans should "immediately and precisely tell us what has happened, and put all the cards on the table." If it's true "that they share information with other agencies for purposes other than those outlined in the agreement we will have to consider ending the agreement."" NSA also has in-depth knowledge of the internal processes of credit card companies like Visa and MasterCard — as well the Internet currency Bitcoin.

Submission + - Can You Solder?

theodp writes: Over at EE Times, Max Maxfield is horrified to learn that some new electronics engineers cannot solder. "What do they teach electronics students at college these days?" Maxfield asks. "Isn't soldering one of the core skills one is expected to know? In my day — when dinosaurs roamed the Earth — all the students on my university course already knew how to solder before they'd even set foot on the campus." So, throw down your breadboard crutches, kids — Maxfield advises you get with the soldering program (or book), pronto!

Submission + - Feds aren't 'knowingly' weakening encryption, says U.S. official (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: A U.S. official Tuesday defended the government's encryption efforts in response to disclosures that the National Security Agency (NSA) has the ability to crack encryption protections. Patrick Gallagher, undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology and director of NIST, said that the leaks "would appear to attack our integrity." Gallagher, speaking at an Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit here, said that NIST's role "is to support a technical understanding of the strongest, most secure computer security, including encryption that we can. We are not deliberately, knowingly, working to undermine or weaken encryption technologies," said Gallagher.

Submission + - The NSA's next move: silencing university professors? (theguardian.com) 2

wabrandsma writes: From the Guardian:

A Johns Hopkins computer science professor blogs on the NSA and is asked to take it down.

A professor in the computer science department at Johns Hopkins, a leading American university, had written a post on his blog, hosted on the university's servers, focused on his area of expertise, which is cryptography. The post was highly critical of the government, specifically the National Security Agency, whose reckless behavior in attacking online security astonished him.

On Monday, he gets a note from the acting dean of the engineering school asking him to take the post down and stop using the NSA logo as clip art in his posts. The email also informs him that if he resists he will need a lawyer.

Why would an academic dean cave under pressure and send the takedown request without careful review, which would have easily discovered, for example, that the classified documents to which the blog post linked were widely available in the public domain?

Submission + - Spider Silk Turned Into Electrical Wire Lead To 'Green' Electronics

ewolfson writes: Florida State University scientists have crafted microscopic wires out of spider silk that can conduct electricity.

The goal is to create new electronics that are as tough as they are eco-friendly. Spider silk is supposedly as strong as steel and as "impenetrable as Kevlar" — but now it can also conduct electricity. To give the spider silk this effect, the scientists coated each silk thread with carbon nanotubes.

The results are super strong conductors that are also fully biodegradable.

Submission + - "Oddball" asteroid is really a comet (networkworld.com)

coondoggie writes: An international team of scientist s today said a the third largest near-Earth object-believed for 30 years to be an asteroid, is actually a comet. Using the Spitzer Space Telescope operated by the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the team — led by Michael Mommert of Northern Arizona University and Joshua Emery, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at the University of Tennessee — looked at images of the rocky object known as 3552 Don Quixote taken in 2009 when it was in orbit closest to the Sun and found it had a coma and a faint tail.

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