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US Telco Fined $3 Million in Domain Renewal Blunder

Slashdot - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 19:30
Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: Sorenson Communications, a Utah-based telecommunications provider, received a whopping $3 million fine from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week for failing to renew a crucial domain name used by a part of the local 911 emergency service. The affected service was the Video Relay System (VRS), a video calling service that telecommunication firms must provide to deaf people and others people with vocal disabilities so they can make video calls to 911 services and use sign language to notify operators of an emergency or crime. According to the FCC, on June 6, Sorenson failed to notice that the domain name on which the VRS 911 service ran had expired, leading to the entire system collapsing shortly after. Utah residents with disabilities were unable to reach 911 operators for almost three days, the FCC discovered. Sorensen noticed its blunder and renewed the domain three days later, on June 8.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

Goldman Sachs Explores a New World: Trading Bitcoin

Slashdot - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 18:45
Several readers share a report: Goldman Sachs is weighing a new trading operation dedicated to bitcoin and other digital currencies, the first blue-chip Wall Street firm preparing to deal directly in this burgeoning yet controversial market (Editor's note: the link from WSJ, which originally reported this development, could be paywalled; alternative source), according to people familiar with the matter. Goldman's effort is in its early stages and may not proceed, the people said. The firm's interest, though, could boost bitcoin's standing among investors and fuel the debate around digital currencies, which were initially viewed as havens for illicit activity but are pushing further into the mainstream investment world. China in recent weeks has banned exchanges that trade bitcoin, fearing the virtual currency could provide an avenue for capital flight. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co Chief Executive James Dimon, whose bank is the largest dealer in global currencies, last month called bitcoin a "fraud" and said he would fire any employee who traded it. Yet Japan's government has embraced bitcoin, creating regulations to legitimize its trading. India and Sweden have mused about creating their own virtual currencies, and the U.S. Federal Reserve has studied bitcoin and the technology underpinning it.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

We're Not Living in a Computer Simulation, New Research Shows

Slashdot - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 18:01
A reader shares a report: A team of theoretical physicists from Oxford University in the UK has shown that life and reality cannot be merely simulations generated by a massive extraterrestrial computer. The finding -- an unexpectedly definite one -- arose from the discovery of a novel link between gravitational anomalies and computational complexity. In a paper published in the journal Science Advances, Zohar Ringel and Dmitry Kovrizhi show that constructing a computer simulation of a particular quantum phenomenon that occurs in metals is impossible -- not just practically, but in principle. The pair initially set out to see whether it was possible to use a technique known as quantum Monte Carlo to study the quantum Hall effect -- a phenomenon in physical systems that exhibit strong magnetic fields and very low temperatures, and manifests as an energy current that runs across the temperature gradient. The phenomenon indicates an anomaly in the underlying space-time geometry. [...] They discovered that the complexity of the simulation increased exponentially with the number of particles being simulated. If the complexity grew linearly with the number of particles being simulated, then doubling the number of partices would mean doubling the computing power required. If, however, the complexity grows on an exponential scale -- where the amount of computing power has to double every time a single particle is added -- then the task quickly becomes impossible.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Navy Returns to Compasses and Pencils To Help Avoid Collisions at Sea

Slashdot - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 17:27
An anonymous reader shares a report: Urgent new orders went out earlier this month for United States Navy warships that have been plagued by deadly mishaps this year. More sleep and no more 100-hour workweeks for sailors. Ships steaming in crowded waters like those near Singapore and Tokyo will now broadcast their positions as do other vessels. And ships whose crews lack basic seamanship certification will probably stay in port until the problems are fixed.[...] The orders issued recently by the Navy's top officer for ships worldwide, Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, drew on the lessons that commanders gleaned from a 24-hour fleetwide suspension of operations last month to examine basic seamanship, teamwork and other fundamental safety and operational standards. Collectively, current and former officers said, the new rules mark several significant cultural shifts for the Navy's tradition-bound fleets. At least for the moment, safety and maintenance are on par with operational security, and commanders are requiring sailors to use old-fashioned compasses, pencils and paper to help track potential hazards (alternative source), as well as reducing a captain's discretion to define what rules the watch team follows if the captain is not on the ship's bridge. "Rowden is stomping his foot and saying, 'We've got to get back to basics,'" said Vice Adm.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Google Scraps Controversial Policy That Gave Free Access To Paywalled Articles Through Search

Slashdot - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 16:45
For years, Google has provided a nifty trick to get around subscriptions for newspapers and magazines. But the company is now doing away with it. From a report: Google is ending its controversial First Click Free (FCF) policy that publishers loathed because it required them to allow Google search results access to news articles hidden behind a paywall. The company is replacing the decade-old FCF with Flexible Sampling, which allows publishers instead to decide how many (if any) articles they want to allow potential subscribers to access. Google says it's also working on a suite of new tools to help publishers reach new audiences and grow revenue. Via FCF, users could access an article for free but would be prompted to log-in or subscribe if they clicked anywhere else on the page. Publishers were required to allow three free articles per day which Google indexed so that they appeared in searches for a particular topic or keyword. Opting out of the FCF feature was detrimental because it demoted a publisher's ranking on Google Search and Google News.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Code is Too Hard To Think About

Slashdot - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 16:05
From a longform piece on The Atlantic: What made programming so difficult was that it required you to think like a computer. The strangeness of it was in some sense more vivid in the early days of computing, when code took the form of literal ones and zeros. Anyone looking over a programmer's shoulder as they pored over line after line like "100001010011" and "000010011110" would have seen just how alienated the programmer was from the actual problems they were trying to solve; it would have been impossible to tell whether they were trying to calculate artillery trajectories or simulate a game of tic-tac-toe. The introduction of programming languages like Fortran and C, which resemble English, and tools, known as "integrated development environments," or IDEs, that help correct simple mistakes (like Microsoft Word's grammar checker but for code), obscured, though did little to actually change, this basic alienation -- the fact that the programmer didn't work on a problem directly, but rather spent their days writing out instructions for a machine. "The problem is that software engineers don't understand the problem they're trying to solve, and don't care to," says Leveson, the MIT software-safety expert. The reason is that they're too wrapped up in getting their code to work. "Software engineers like to provide all kinds of tools and stuff for coding errors," she says, referring to IDEs. "The serious problems that have happened with software have to do with requirements, not coding errors." When you're writing code that controls a car's throttle, for instance, what's important is the rules about when and how and by how much to open it. But these systems have become so complicated that hardly anyone can keep them straight in their head. "There's 100 million lines of code in cars now," Leveson says. "You just cannot anticipate all these things."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Las Vegas Shooting Leaves at Least 50 Dead, More Than 200 Wounded

Slashdot - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 14:10
Readers share a report: At least 50 people are dead and more than 200 wounded after a shooting late Sunday at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). Police said they were first alerted to reports of an incident at 10:08 p.m. and then determined there was a shooter on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino who was targeting the nearby Route 91 Harvest Festival. Joseph Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said in a briefing that officers responded and shot dead the suspect. He said the suspect was a local resident but declined to identify him, citing the ongoing investigation. Police are also trying to locate a female companion, who they named as Marilou Danley, who was traveling with the suspect.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

How Cisco Fixed An Undocumented SSH Support Tunnel In Umbrella

Slashdot - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 13:30
"Vulnerability due to always-on SSH Tunnel -- RESOLVED" reads a Cisco service update. An anonymous reader writes: Described by a recent security blog post, Cisco hid a SSH backdoor in its Cisco Umbrella product, which they were using for support. Affected organizations can install version 2.1.0 of their virtual appliance which has the backdoor removed. Cisco has described Umbrella as "the first Secure Internet Gateway in the cloud," though the now-closed tunnel "auto-initiated from the customer's appliance to Cisco's SSH Hubs in the Umbrella datacenters." Cisco adds that it "did not require explicit customer approval before establishment." Access to the terminating server required valid keys and was provided only to privileged support personnel within the Cisco Umbrella network space. Customers could prevent this tunnel from getting established by blocking the relevant firewall ports. However, in the case of customers who allowed establishment of the tunnel, an attacker who obtained access to the internal Cisco terminating server could use the SSH tunnel as a backdoor to obtain full control of the VA device at the customer's premises... It is our policy that any undocumented methods of entry into your network devices be considered a vulnerability due to the potential risk of an attacker leveraging this tunnel to gain access to your network. While Cisco has NO indications that our remote support SSH hubs have ever been compromised, Cisco has made significant changes to the behavior of the remote support tunnel capability to further secure the feature... To address this vulnerability, the Umbrella Virtual Appliance version 2.1.0 now requires explicit customer approval before an SSH tunnel from the VA to the Cisco terminating server can be established... . For additional security, customer is required to provide tunnel configuration parameters out-of-band to the Cisco support personnel before tunnel establishment.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

CodeSOD: Dashboard Confessional

The Daily WTF - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 12:30

Three years ago, this XKCD comic captured a lot of the problems we have with gathering requirements:

Our users have no idea which kinds of problems are hard and which kinds are easy. This isn’t just for advanced machine learning classification projects- I’ve had users who assumed changing the color of an element on a page was hard (it wasn’t), to users who assumed wiring up our in-house ERP to a purchased ERP was the simplest thing ever (it wasn’t).

Which brings us to Christopher Shankland’s contribution. He works for a game company, and while that often means doing game development, it often means doing tooling and platform management for the design team, like providing fancy dashboards for the designers to review how users play the game so that they can tweak the play.

That lead to this conversation:

Game Designer: I want to see how players progress through the game missions
Christopher: Great. I’ll add a funnel chart to our dashboard app, which can query data from the database!
Game Designer: Also, I need to change the order the missions display in all the time…
Christopher: Okay, that’ll require a data change every time you want to flip the order…
Game Designer: Fine, but I shouldn’t have to ask anyone else to do it…
Christopher: Um… I’d have to bolt a UI onto the database, it’s not really meant-
Game Designer: That sounds time consuming. I need this data YESTERDAY.
Christopher: I could-
Game Designer: YESTERDAY. GIVE ME DATA. NOW.

So Christopher hacked together a solution. Between fighting with the designer’s fluid and every changing demands, the fact that what the designer wanted didn’t mesh well with how the dashboard system assumed analytics would be run, the demand that it be done in the dashboard system anyway, and the unnecessary time pressure, Christopher didn’t do his best work. He sends us this code, as penance. It’s long, it’s convoluted, and it uses lots of string concatenation to generate SQL statements.

As Chris rounded out his message to us: “This is why I drink.”

-- Create syntax for 'chart_first_map_daily' DROP PROCEDURE IF EXISTS `chart_first_map_daily`; DELIMITER ;; CREATE DEFINER=`megaforce_stats`@`%` PROCEDURE `chart_first_map_daily`(IN timeline INT) BEGIN SET SESSION group_concat_max_len = 1000000; DROP TABLE IF EXISTS `megaforce_stats`.`chart_first_map_daily`; CREATE TABLE `megaforce_stats`.`chart_first_map_daily` ( `absolute_order` INT(11) UNSIGNED NOT NULL, `date` DATE NOT NULL, `task_id` INT(11) UNSIGNED NOT NULL, `number_completed` INT(11) UNSIGNED NOT NULL DEFAULT 0, `new_user_completion_percentage` FLOAT(23) NOT NULL DEFAULT 0, `segment` VARCHAR(32) DEFAULT "Unknown", PRIMARY KEY (`date`, `task_id`, `segment`) ) ENGINE=InnoDB AUTO_INCREMENT=0 DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8; SET @last_date = date_sub(curdate(), INTERVAL 1 DAY); SET @timeline = timeline; SET @first_date = date_sub(@last_date, INTERVAL @timeline DAY); SET @first_campaign_id = (SELECT `id` FROM `megaforce_game`.`campaigns` WHERE NOT EXISTS (SELECT * FROM `megaforce_game`.`campaign_dependencies` WHERE `unlocked_campaign_id` = `megaforce_game`.`campaigns`.`id`) AND `active` = 1 AND `type_id` NOT IN (2,3,4)); -- Create a helper table for ordering DROP TABLE IF EXISTS `megaforce_stats`.`absolute_task_ordering`; CREATE TABLE `megaforce_stats`.`absolute_task_ordering` ( `task_id` INT(11) UNSIGNED NOT NULL, `absolute_order` INT(11) UNSIGNED NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT, PRIMARY KEY (`absolute_order`) ) ENGINE=InnoDB DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8; SET @current_mission_id = -1; SET @sort_order = 2; SELECT IF(COUNT(`id`) > 0, `id`, -1) INTO @current_mission_id FROM `megaforce_game`.`missions` WHERE NOT EXISTS ( SELECT * FROM `megaforce_game`.`mission_dependencies` WHERE `unlocked_mission_id` = `megaforce_game`.`missions`.`id` ) AND active = 1 AND campaign_id = @first_campaign_id AND type_id = 1; WHILE @current_mission_id > 0 DO INSERT INTO `megaforce_stats`.`absolute_task_ordering` (`task_id`) SELECT `id` FROM `megaforce_game`.`tasks` WHERE `mission_id` = @current_mission_id AND `active` = 1 ORDER BY `order`; INSERT INTO `megaforce_stats`.`chart_first_map_daily` ( `absolute_order`,`date`,`task_id`, `number_completed`,`new_user_completion_percentage`, `segment` ) SELECT `task_info`.`absolute_order`, `sessions`.`date`, `task_info`.`task_id`, `task_info`.`number_completed`, `task_info`.`number_completed` / `sessions`.`new_users`, -1 FROM ( SELECT `date`, SUM(`new_users`) AS `new_users` FROM `megaforce_stats`.`sessions_daily` WHERE DATE(`date`) > @first_date AND DATE(`date`) <= @last_date GROUP BY `date` ) AS `sessions` LEFT JOIN ( SELECT `absolute_order`, DATE(`date_completed`) AS `date`, COUNT(DISTINCT(`user_name`)) AS `number_completed`, `megaforce_game`.`tasks`.`id` AS `task_id` FROM `megaforce_game`.`track_completed_tasks` JOIN `megaforce_stats`.`accounts_real` ON `user_name` = `userName` JOIN `megaforce_game`.`tasks` ON `megaforce_game`.`tasks`.`id` = `megaforce_game`.`track_completed_tasks`.`task_id` JOIN `megaforce_stats`.`absolute_task_ordering` ON `megaforce_stats`.`absolute_task_ordering`.`task_id` = `megaforce_game`.`tasks`.`id` WHERE DATE(`date_completed`) = DATE(`date_created`) AND `mission_id` = @current_mission_id AND `active` = 1 GROUP BY DATE(`date_completed`), `megaforce_game`.`tasks`.`id` ORDER BY `order` ) AS `task_info` ON `task_info`.`date` = `sessions`.`date`; -- Create our CREATE TABLE statement SET @mission_chart_table_name = CONCAT("chart_first_map_daily_", @current_mission_id); SELECT GROUP_CONCAT(`id` SEPARATOR "_completion` INT(11) UNSIGNED NOT NULL, `task_") INTO @mission_chart_task_columns FROM `megaforce_game`.`tasks` WHERE `mission_id` = @current_mission_id AND `active` = 1 ORDER BY `order`; SET @drop_mission_chart = CONCAT("DROP TABLE IF EXISTS `megaforce_stats`.`", @mission_chart_table_name, "`"); PREPARE stmt FROM @drop_mission_chart; EXECUTE stmt; DEALLOCATE PREPARE stmt; SET @create_mission_chart = CONCAT(" CREATE TABLE `megaforce_stats`.`", @mission_chart_table_name, "` ( `date` DATE NOT NULL, `task_", @mission_chart_task_columns, "_completion` INT(11) UNSIGNED NOT NULL, `segment` VARCHAR(32) DEFAULT 'Unknown', PRIMARY KEY (`date`,`segment`) ) ENGINE = InnoDB DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8 "); PREPARE stmt FROM @create_mission_chart; EXECUTE stmt; DEALLOCATE PREPARE stmt; SELECT GROUP_CONCAT(`id` SEPARATOR "_completion`.`number_completed` / `sessions`.`new_users` * 100, `task_") INTO @task_list FROM `megaforce_game`.`tasks` WHERE `mission_id` = @current_mission_id AND `active` = 1 ORDER BY `order`; SELECT GROUP_CONCAT( CONCAT(`id`, " GROUP BY DATE(`date_completed`), `segment`) AS `task_", `id`, "_completion` ON `task_", `id`, "_completion`.`segment` = `sessions`.`segment` AND `task_", `id`) SEPARATOR "_completion`.`date` = `sessions`.`date` LEFT JOIN ( SELECT DATE(`date_completed`) AS `date`, COUNT(*) AS `number_completed`, `segment` FROM `megaforce_game`.`track_completed_tasks` JOIN `megaforce_stats`.`accounts_real` ON `track_completed_tasks`.`user_name` = `accounts_real`.`userName` WHERE DATE(`date_created`) = DATE(`date_completed`) AND `task_id` = " ) INTO @task_join_tables FROM `megaforce_game`.`tasks` WHERE `mission_id` = @current_mission_id AND `active` = 1 ORDER BY `order`; SET @insert_mission_chart = CONCAT(" INSERT INTO `megaforce_stats`.`", @mission_chart_table_name, "` SELECT `sessions`.`date`,`task_", @task_list, "_completion`.`number_completed` / `sessions`.`new_users` * 100, `sessions`.`segment` FROM ( SELECT `date`, `new_users`, `segment` FROM `megaforce_stats`.`sessions_daily` WHERE DATE(`date`) > @first_date AND DATE(`date`) <= @last_date GROUP BY `date`, `segment` ) AS `sessions` LEFT JOIN ( SELECT DATE(`date_completed`) AS `date`, COUNT(*) AS `number_completed`, `segment` FROM `megaforce_game`.`track_completed_tasks` JOIN `megaforce_stats`.`accounts_real` ON `track_completed_tasks`.`user_name` = `accounts_real`.`userName` WHERE DATE(`date_created`) = DATE(`date_completed`) AND `task_id` = ", @task_join_tables, "_completion`.`date` = `sessions`.`date` "); PREPARE stmt FROM @insert_mission_chart; EXECUTE stmt; DEALLOCATE PREPARE stmt; SELECT GROUP_CONCAT( CONCAT(`id`, " GROUP BY DATE(`date_completed`)) AS `task_", `id`, "_completion` ON `task_", `id`) SEPARATOR "_completion`.`date` = `sessions`.`date` LEFT JOIN ( SELECT DATE(`date_completed`) AS `date`, COUNT(*) AS `number_completed` FROM `megaforce_game`.`track_completed_tasks` JOIN `megaforce_stats`.`accounts_real` ON `track_completed_tasks`.`user_name` = `accounts_real`.`userName` WHERE DATE(`date_created`) = DATE(`date_completed`) AND `task_id` = " ) INTO @task_join_tables FROM `megaforce_game`.`tasks` WHERE `mission_id` = @current_mission_id AND `active` = 1 ORDER BY `order`; SET @insert_mission_chart = CONCAT(" INSERT INTO `megaforce_stats`.`", @mission_chart_table_name, "` SELECT `sessions`.`date`,`task_", @task_list, "_completion`.`number_completed` / `sessions`.`new_users` * 100, -1 FROM ( SELECT `date`, SUM(`new_users`) AS `new_users` FROM `megaforce_stats`.`sessions_daily` WHERE DATE(`date`) > @first_date AND DATE(`date`) <= @last_date GROUP BY `date` ) AS `sessions` LEFT JOIN ( SELECT DATE(`date_completed`) AS `date`, COUNT(*) AS `number_completed` FROM `megaforce_game`.`track_completed_tasks` JOIN `megaforce_stats`.`accounts_real` ON `track_completed_tasks`.`user_name` = `accounts_real`.`userName` WHERE DATE(`date_created`) = DATE(`date_completed`) AND `task_id` = ", @task_join_tables, "_completion`.`date` = `sessions`.`date` "); PREPARE stmt FROM @insert_mission_chart; EXECUTE stmt; DEALLOCATE PREPARE stmt; -- Dynamically create our charts (multiple data by mission) DELETE FROM `megaforce_stats`.`gecko_chart_sql` WHERE `sql_key` = CONCAT("CHART_FIRST_MAP_DAILY_", @current_mission_id); DELETE FROM `megaforce_stats`.`gecko_chart_info` WHERE `sql_key` = CONCAT("CHART_FIRST_MAP_DAILY_", @current_mission_id); INSERT INTO `megaforce_stats`.`gecko_chart_sql` (`sql_key`,`sql_query`,`data_field`,`segment_field`) VALUES (CONCAT("CHART_FIRST_MAP_DAILY_", @current_mission_id), CONCAT("SELECT * FROM `megaforce_stats`.`", @mission_chart_table_name, "`"), "date", "segment"); INSERT INTO `megaforce_stats`.`gecko_chart_info` (`sql_key`,`data_field`,`title`,`category`,`sort_order`,`type`,`data_name`,`chart_type`) VALUES (CONCAT("CHART_FIRST_MAP_DAILY_", @current_mission_id), "", CONCAT("Mission ", @current_mission_id, " Task Completion"), 10, @sort_order, "spline", "", "hc_line_multiple_segments_date"); SET @sort_order = @sort_order + 1; SELECT IF(COUNT(`unlocked_mission_id`) > 0, `unlocked_mission_id`, -1) INTO @current_mission_id FROM `megaforce_game`.`mission_dependencies` WHERE `required_mission_id` = @current_mission_id; END WHILE; END;; DELIMITER ; hljs.initHighlightingOnLoad(); [Advertisement] Application Release Automation for DevOps – integrating with best of breed development tools. Free for teams with up to 5 users. Download and learn more today!
Categories: Fun/Other

Will London Monetize Wifi Tracking Data From Its Tube Passengers?

Slashdot - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 09:34
New questions are arising about how much privacy you'll have on London's underground trains. "For a month at the end of last year, Wi-fi signals were used to track passenger journeys across the network," writes Gizmodo. "The idea is that as we travel across the Tube network, Wi-fi beacons in stations would detect the unique ID -- the MAC address -- of our phones, tablets and other devices -- even if we're not connected to the Tube's wifi network." The only way to opt-out is to turn off your phone's Wi-Fi. An anonymous reader writes: London is struggling with the transport network capacity so the ability to learn commuters' travel patterns is compelling... Now it emerged that TfL, the operator of London Subway system, is planning to use the system to monetize passengers' data. TfL is also not ruling out sharing the data with third-parties in future. More information shows that the privacy protection could not be as good as TfL maintains, with reversible hashing and options of giving data to law enforcement. A privacy engineering expert points out additional issues in pseudonymisation scheme and communication inconsistencies. Final deployment has been initially scheduled to start in end of 2017. "Once the tools are in place, there will inevitably be a temptation to make use of them," warns Engadget, raising the possibility of the data's use for advertising -- or even the availability to law enforcement of location data for every passenger.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

Russian Defense Company Demos A One-Person Flying Car

Slashdot - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 06:34
An anonymous reader quotes Futurism: Russian defense company Kalashnikov has revealed their single-person flying car... As reported by Popular Mechanics, its body consists of a simple metal frame with a set of eight rotors used to lift it off the ground. A pair of joysticks are used to control the craft, while a set batteries found beneath the rider's seat provide the necessary power... Using electricity makes it lighter than a craft that relies on gasoline or a diesel engine, but as noted by DefenseNews, the batteries probably only enable it to fly for about 30 minutes before it needs to land. There's video footage on YouTube of the flying craft lifting off.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

Ask Slashdot: What's The Best Open Source Hardware to Tinker With?

Slashdot - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 03:34
This question comes from an anonymous Slashdot reader who just got an Arduino and started tinkering with electronics: I'm quite amazed at the quality of the hardware, software, and the available tutorials and (mostly free) literature. A very exciting and inexpensive way to get a basic understanding of electronics and the art of microcontroller programming. Now that I'm infected with the idea of Open Source hardware, I'm wondering if the Slashdot community could suggest a few more things to get for a beginner in electronics with experience in programming and a basic understanding of machine learning methods. I was looking at the OpenBCI project [Open Brain Computer Interface], which seems like an interesting piece of hardware, but because of the steep price tag and the lack of reviews or blog posts on the internet, I decided to look for something else. Leave your best answers in the comments. What's the best open source hardware to tinker with?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

Bold Eagles: Angry Birds Are Ripping $80,000 Drones Out of the Sky

Slashdot - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 01:34
schwit1 found this story in the Wall Street Journal: Daniel Parfitt thought he'd found the perfect drone for a two-day mapping job in a remote patch of the Australian Outback. The roughly $80,000 machine had a wingspan of 7 feet and resembled a stealth bomber. There was just one problem. His machine raised the hackles of one prominent local resident: a wedge-tailed eagle. Swooping down from above, the eagle used its talons to punch a hole in the carbon fiber and Kevlar fuselage of Mr. Parfitt's drone, which lost control and plummeted to the ground... "It ended up being a pile of splinters"... These highly territorial raptors, which eat kangaroos, have no interest in yielding their apex-predator status to the increasing number of drones flying around the bush. They've even been known to harass the occasional human in a hang glider... Camouflage techniques, like putting fake eyes on the drones, don't appear to be fully effective, and some pilots have even considered arming drones with pepper spray or noise devices to ward off eagles. One mining survey superintendent said he's now lost 12 different drones to eagle attacks, costing his employer $210,000. Another drone was actually attacked by nine different eagles, and its pilot estimates eagles are now attacking 20% of all drone flights in rural Australia.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

Laser Light Forges Graphene Into the Third Dimension

Slashdot - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 00:34
Big Hairy Ian quotes New Atlas: The wonder material graphene gets many of its handy quirks from the fact that it exists in two dimensions, as a sheet of carbon only one atom thick. But to actually make use of it in practical applications, it usually needs to be converted into a 3D form. Now, researchers have developed a new and relatively simple way to do just that, using lasers to 'forge' a three-dimensional pyramid out of graphene... By focusing a laser onto a fine point on a 2D graphene lattice, the graphene at that spot is irradiated and bulges outwards. A variety of three-dimensional shapes can be made by writing patterns with the laser spot, with the height of the shape controlled by adjusting the irradiation dose at each particular point. The team illustrated that technique by deforming a sheet of graphene into a 3D pyramid, standing 60 nm high. That sounds pretty tiny, but it's 200 times taller than the graphene sheet itself. "The beauty of the technique is that it's fast and easy to use," says one of the researchers. "It doesn't require any additional chemicals or processing."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

Google Plans Upgrade of Two-Factor Authentication For Politicians and CEOs

Slashdot - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 23:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Verge: Google plans on upgrading its two-factor authentication tool with an improved, physical security measure aimed at protecting high-profile users from politically motivated cyberattacks, according to a report from Bloomberg. The new service, to be called Advanced Protection Program and potentially slated to launch next month, will trade out the standard authentication process for services like Gmail and Google Drive with physical USB security keys. The service would also restrict the types of third-party apps and services that could connect to a user's Google account. The changes are not likely to affect standard Google account owners, as Bloomberg reports that Google "plans to market the product to corporate executives, politicians and others with heightened security concerns."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

Donate Your Noise To Xiph/Mozilla's Deep-Learning Noise Suppression Project

Slashdot - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 22:34
Mozilla-backed researchers are working on a real-time noise suppression algorithm using a neural network -- and they want your noise! Long-time Slashdot reader jmv writes: The Mozilla Research RRNoise project combines classic signal processing with deep learning, but it's small and fast. No expensive GPUs required -- it runs easily on a Raspberry Pi. The result is easier to tune and sounds better than traditional noise suppression systems (been there!). And you can help! From the site: Click on this link to let us record one minute of noise from where you are... We're interested in noise from any environment where you might communicate using voice. That can be your office, your car, on the street, or anywhere you might use your phone or computer. They claim it already sounds better than traditional noise suppression systems, and even though the code isn't optmized yet, "it already runs about 60x faster than real-time on an x86 CPU."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

Donate You Noise To Xiph/Mozilla's Deep-Learning Noise Suppression Project

Slashdot - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 22:34
Mozilla-backed researchers are working on a real-time noise suppression algorithm using a neural network -- and they want your noise! Long-time Slashdot reader jmv writes: The Mozilla Research RRNoise project combines classic signal processing with deep learning, but it's small and fast. No expensive GPUs required -- it runs easily on a Raspberry Pi. The result is easier to tune and sounds better than traditional noise suppression systems (been there!). And you can help! From the site: Click on this link to let us record one minute of noise from where you are... We're interested in noise from any environment where you might communicate using voice. That can be your office, your car, on the street, or anywhere you might use your phone or computer. They claim it already sounds better than traditional noise suppression systems, and even though the code isn't optmized yet, "it already runs about 60x faster than real-time on an x86 CPU."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech/Science News

ICANN Delays KSK Rollover Because of Lazy ISPs, Technical Faults

Slashdot - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 21:32
ICANN had planned to change the master key used to sign secure Domain Name System records next week for the first time in history. But now an anonymous reader writes:Inattentive ISPs and technical faults have led the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to delay the KSK Rollover for next year. ICANN was supposed to remove the root encryption KSK key from core DNS servers on October 11 and allow a new one to take effect. The key is used for the DNSSEC protocol. According to ICANN, between 6% to 8% of ISPs did not install the new KSK key to replace the one issued in 2010. The organization says that if it had gone forward with the original KSK Rollover plan, over 60 million Internet users would have been unable to make DNS requests. For the vast majority, ICANN blames lazy ISPs, which failed to update their existing keys. ICANN also believes that many ISPs may not be aware they had not installed the latest KSK. ICANN also distributed software to automatically pull down and install the new KSK. Some ISPs opted to use this software, which apparently had some bugs and failed to download and install the new KSK, in some situations. Because of this, ICANN announced this week it would delay the KSK Rollover final step — of removing and revoking the original KSK key -- to the first quarter of 2018. ICANN has not decided yet on a precise date.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Meet The Next Major Operating System: Amazon's Alexa

Slashdot - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 20:28
ZDNet's editor-in-chief warns that Amazon has ambitious plans for its new Echo Plus: Amazon is making an explicit play to be the home hub because it can automatically discover and set up lights, locks, plugs, and switches without the need for additional hubs or apps. And the Alexa 'routines' feature will be able to tie all of this together by allowing you to automate a series of actions with a single voice command: saying "Alexa, good night," and having it turn off the lights, lock the door, and turn off the TV, for example. A platform that other apps and devices can connect into? This starts to sound a lot like an operating system for the home to me. It's not just the home, either; Amazon announced a deal to make Alexa available in BMW and Mini vehicles from the middle of next year, allowing drivers to use the digital assistant to get directions, play music or control smart home devices while travelling, without having to use a separate app. Travellers will also have access to Alexa skills from third-party developers like Starbucks, allowing them to order their coffee while driving and thus skip the line. Back in January, Amazon and Ford said they were working together to allow voice commands to turn on the engine, lock or unlock the doors as well as play music and use other skills... It's still early days but I think Alexa has a good shot at becoming one of the standard interfaces, certainly for consumers -- an operating system for the home, if not more, if the automotive tie-ups take off too. All of this will make Amazon a serious force to be reckoned with. Windows has the desktop, and Android and iOS can fight it out for the smartphone, but right now Alexa has a lock on the smart home.

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Russia Suspected In GPS-Spoofing Attacks On Ships

Slashdot - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 19:24
How did a 37-ton tanker suddenly vanish from GPS off the coast of Russia? AmiMoJo shares a report from Wired: The ship's systems located it 25 to 30 miles away -- at Gelendzhik airport... The Atria wasn't the only ship affected by the problem... At the time, Atria's AIS system showed around 20 to 25 large boats were also marooned at Gelendzhik airport. Worried about the situation, captain Le Meur radioed the ships. The responses all confirmed the same thing: something, or someone, was meddling with the their GPS... After trawling through AIS data from recent years, evidence of spoofing becomes clear. GPS data has placed ships at three different airports and there have been other interesting anomalies. "We would find very large oil tankers who could travel at the maximum speed at 15 knots," said a former director for Marine Transportation Systems at the U.S. Coast Guard. "Their AIS, which is powered by GPS, would be saying they had sped up to 60 to 65 knots for an hour and then suddenly stopped. They had done that several times"... "It looks like a sophisticated attack, by somebody who knew what they were doing and were just testing the system..." says Lukasz Bonenberg from the University of Nottingham's Geospatial Institute. "You basically need to have atomic level clocks." The U.S. Maritime Administration confirms 20 ships have been affected -- all traveling in the Black Sea -- though a U.S. Coast Guard representative "refused to comment on the incident, saying any GPS disruption that warranted further investigation would be passed onto the Department of Defence." But the captain of the 37-ton tanker already has his own suspicions. "It looks like the Russians define an area where they don't want the GPS to apply."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

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