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posted by martyb on Wednesday September 17, @02:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the saving-silent-solyut-seven dept.

In no way is this news or a scoop, but who can resist the tale of plucky cosmonauts calmly relaying such nuggets from a dead-in-the-water space station as:

Savinikh: "We're trying to turn on the light now. Command issued. No reaction, not even one little diode. If only something would light up..."

and

Savinikh: “I’ve gotten the Rodnik schematics. Pump connected. The valves aren’t opening. There’s an icicle sticking out of the air pipe.”

Yep — all the makings of a sci-fi straight to TV movie… icicles hanging out of air pipes indeed!

However, it is not. It is the tale of two cosmonauts sent to try to recover the dead in low earth orbit Salyut 7 back in 1985. The included cosmonaut to earth communication transcripts would be comedy genius had they been scripted, if only as a parody of calm professionalism in a seemingly absurd predicament.

Over to Ars Technica for the piece: http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/09/the-little-known-soviet-mission-to-rescue-a-dead-space-station/

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 17, @12:54PM   Printer-friendly
from the handy-for-carrying-brides-across-thresholds dept.

There's an article over at Singularity Hub that the US Navy will test and evaluate Lockheed Martin’s FORTIS exoskeletons.

This is sourced from a press release from last month which states that Lockheed Martin:

has received a contract through the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) for the U.S. Navy to evaluate and test two FORTIS exoskeletons

The FORTIS exoskeleton is unpowered and :

transfers loads through the exoskeleton to the ground in standing or kneeling positions and allows operators to use heavy tools as if they were weightless

There are also articles over at gizmag, RT and wired which go into more detail on this exoskeleton programme.

With the unpowered FORTIS, together with Daewoo's powered exoskeleton trials, it looks like the practical civilian use of exoskeletons in heavy industry is a possibility in the near future.

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 17, @11:41AM   Printer-friendly
from the looking-suspiciously-at-my-printer dept.

Printers have been used as an attack vector in the past. This is a new take.

Apparently, the Canon Pixma printers that sport a web interface for their users convenience are so convenient that they forget to ask for a username and password to access it. Besides more benign settings, status reports and diagnostic functions, it is possible to perform a firmware update through this interface as well as change the DNS and proxy settings.

"So what" you ask?

Well... Someone on your network can access the web-interface and change the firmware (or print test-pages en masse), but even if you don't have guests and your Pixma is thought to be not exposed to the outside world via your router, it is possible to launch a cross-site request forgery attack (CSRF) through your browser, change the DNS and/or proxy settings and initiate a firmware update to make the router download a malicious payload.

Michael Jordon demonstrates one such not-so-malicious firmware and goes into further detail in his blog. There's also a video for the TL;DR fans that just want to see his payload.

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 17, @10:37AM   Printer-friendly
from the stacked-deck dept.

Techdirt reports

After having the court documents unsealed and the gag order lifted, Yahoo is finally free to talk about that one time when the government wanted to fine it $250,000 a day (!!) for refusing to comply with a FISA court order to turn over data on its customers. Two of the lawyers (Mark Zwillinger and Jacob Sommer) who represented Yahoo in that court battle, have written a post detailing the behind-the-scenes activity.

First off, they note that it's kind of amazing they're even able to discuss it at this point.

Having toiled in secret until recently, and having originally been told we would need to wait 25 years to tell anyone of our experience, it is refreshing to be able to write about the case in detail.

That's the normal declassification schedule, which at this point would still be nearly 18 years away. Fortunately, Ed Snowden's leaks have led to an accelerated schedule for many documents related to the NSA's surveillance programs, as well as fewer judges being sympathetic to FOIA stonewalling and exemption abuse.

We've talked several times about how the government makes it nearly impossible to sue it for abusing civil liberties with its classified surveillance programs. It routinely claims that complainants have no standing, ignoring the fact that leaked documents have given us many details on what the NSA does and doesn't collect. But in Yahoo's case, it went against its own favorite lawsuit-dismissal ploy.

First, the government's prior position on standing may be a bit of a surprise. In more recent cases, like Clapper, it has argued that only the provider has standing to challenge surveillance orders under the FISA Amendments Act, not individual users who may have been caught up in the surveillance. But, in this fight, the government argued that Yahoo had no standing to challenge a directive on the basis of the Fourth Amendment rights of its users.

[...]

The government filed ex parte documents in support of its surveillance program, many of which Yahoo had no access to during the legal struggle. Not only did the government force Yahoo to respond on its own schedule, but it kept the company in the dark about its justifications and other aspects of its programs. Yahoo couldn't ask for these documents in discovery, nor did it even know these existed.

[...]

When it comes to the nation's security, apparently no legal deck can be stacked high enough. The government forces those who challenge its secret programs to wage courtroom battles with only the barest minimum of information. And, should it decide the defendant isn't moving fast enough, it can pursue exorbitant (and admittedly coercive) fines until it gets the cooperation it's seeking.

Related: US Government Threatened Yahoo with $250K Daily Fine

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 17, @09:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the payware dept.

El Reg reports

Attachmate, the software shop that headhunted Novell and SUSE Linux, is itself being bought out by Micro Focus International.

The mainframe and COBOL specialist is acquiring Attachmate Group from its parent company Wizard in a deal calculated at $2.3bn before costs.

[...]

Attachmate gives MicroFocus access to SUSE and Novell, business units bought by the company in 2010 for $2.2bn. Novell owned SUSE Linux, which it had bought in 2003 for $210m. Under Attachmate, the two were broken apart.

putting 882 patents in its Linux portfolio up for sale to a consortium backed by Microsoft.

SUSE is chief steward of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server while Novell has been re-shaped to sell end-point management and collaboration software.

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 17, @08:13AM   Printer-friendly
from the gotta-play-by-the-rules-and-thems-the-rules dept.

AP reports that a federal appeals court has overturned a civilian's conviction for possessing and distributing child pornography because he was found out by a military investigator who used a high-powered software program in 2010 to search computers throughout the state of Washington. When the program picked up two child porn images and a video, the agent contacted the FBI, which tracked down the suspect's name and address. The naval office then got in touch with local police, who obtained a search warrant. The Department of Homeland Security later got a federal search warrant, and the suspect was charged in federal court.

When the search was challenged, the government argued that the search was justified because there are military bases in the greater Seattle area, and it's a crime for military members to distribute child pornography. Those actions, the three-judge panel said, violated the Posse Comitatus Act, the 1878 law that prohibits the U.S. military from taking part in civilian law enforcement activities. The ruling said the search was so sweeping, it shows "a profound lack of regard for the important limitations on the role of the military in our civilian society." It noted "abundant evidence" that the Navy frequently hacks into civilian computers to search for evidence of child pornography and turn it over to the police if the computer owner has no relation to the military. "This is, literally, the militarization of the police," says defense attorney Erik Levin. "They have enough funding that they can go out and stray from the core mission of national security and get into local law enforcement."

posted by n1 on Wednesday September 17, @06:39AM   Printer-friendly
from the secret-ingredients dept.

Analysis of wild collected food (fungi in this study) found that a single packet contained three species that had previously not been formally named in science.

Accurate diagnosis of the components of our food and a standard lexicon for clear communication is essential for regulating global food trade and identifying food frauds. Reliable identification of wild collected foods can be particularly difficult, especially when they originate in under-documented regions or belong to poorly known groups such as Fungi. Porcini, one of the most widely traded wild edible mushrooms in the world, are large and conspicuous and they are used as a food both on their own and in processed food products. China is a major exporter of porcini, most of it ending up in Europe. We used DNA-sequencing to identify three species of mushroom contained within a commercial packet of dried Chinese porcini purchased in London. Surprisingly, all three have never been formally described by science and required new scientific names. This demonstrates the ubiquity of unknown fungal diversity even in widely traded commercial food products from one of the most charismatic and least overlooked groups of mushrooms. Our rapid analysis and description makes it possible to reliably identify these species, allowing their harvest to be monitored and their presence tracked in the food chain.

posted by n1 on Wednesday September 17, @04:29AM   Printer-friendly
from the premium-licensing dept.

ZDNet reports:

The latest in what is becoming an impressively long list of Italian cities to make the transition is the City of Udine, a town of 100,000 people in the north east of Italy. The municipality recently announced that by the end of 2014 it will start a process which, over the coming years, will make OpenOffice the default personal productivity suite on each of its 900 computers.

The move, the city says, will allow it to save roughly €400 on the cost of software licensing for each machine, a total of €360,000. The migration will start with 80 new computers that, according to the 2014 budget document, have to be bought by December.

posted by n1 on Wednesday September 17, @02:54AM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-about-to-get-cold dept.

September 16th marked the first day that many states and cities across the United States begin switching back to "winter gasoline". Due to EPA regulations in warmer months to limit ozone and pollution, there are stricter requirements for gasoline everywhere, and requirements in bigger cities where tens of thousands of vehicles drive everyday are even more stringent. Even smaller communities switch to summer gasoline, but a version that isn't quite the same as what's used in larger cities.

posted by n1 on Wednesday September 17, @12:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the was-not-paying-attention-to-begin-with dept.

A small study into electronic device usage during lectures found that there was minimal difference in scores between those who were distracted while listening to the lecture and those who weren't when there was a quiz afterwards.

Results. The sample was comprised of 26 students. Of these, 17 were distracted in some form (either checking email, sending email, checking Facebook, or sending texts). The overall mean score on the test was 9.85 (9.53 for distracted students and 10.44 for non-distracted students). There were no significant differences in test scores between distracted and non-distracted students (p = 0.652). Gender and types of distractions were not significantly associated with test scores (p > 0.05). All students believed that they understood all the important points from the lecture.

Conclusions. Every class member felt that they acquired the important learning points during the lecture. Those who were distracted by electronic devices during the lecture performed similarly to those who were not. However, results should be interpreted with caution as this study was a small quasi-experimental design and further research should examine the influence of different types of distraction on different types of learning.

posted by n1 on Tuesday September 16, @11:14PM   Printer-friendly
from the dead-tree-media-decay dept.

Julie Balise blogs at the San Francisco Gate:

Macworld executive editor Dan Miller tweeted on Wednesday that the magazine's print edition is "going away," but its website will continue with a "reduced editorial staff."

Miller said he will remain with the company for a month to help with the transition.

Jason Snell, editorial director for Macworld, also announced his departure via Twitter:

A personal announcement: I'm leaving Macworld after 17 years. http://t.co/gozwnjN0z5
--- Jason Snell (@jsnell) September 10, 2014

On his personal website, Snell wrote that his time with Macworld was "a great ride."

"Unfortunately, many of my colleagues lost their jobs today," he wrote. "If there's anything I can do to help them, I will. I have had time to plan for this day, but they haven't. You probably know some of them. Please join with me in giving them sympathy and support."

The San Francisco-based magazine was launched in 1984, the same year Apple introduced the Macintosh.

The cuts were part of a major reorganization at IDG Communications, according to Folio Magazine. A new U.S. Media group was created. The company did not tell Folio Magazine how many employees were let go.

The Boston Globe's report notes that November's will be the last dead-tree issue and that Boston-based International Data Group has previously gone through similar moves with their other properties, Computerworld and PCWorld.

posted by n1 on Tuesday September 16, @09:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the corporate-espionage-in-the-digital-age dept.

Samsung have accused LG employees of vandalising their washing machines ahead of an electronics show in Berlin. LG has said that the damage to two machines was inadvertent as the door had "weak hinges".

Samsung Electronics has accused the head of rival LG Electronics' home appliances business of damaging Samsung washing machines at retail stores in Germany and asked Seoul prosecutors to investigate.

Samsung, in a statement on Sunday, said it asked the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office to investigate LG employees who the company says were seen deliberately destroying several of its premium washing machines on display at two stores earlier this month ahead of the IFA electronics show in Berlin.

"It is very unfortunate that Samsung had to request that a high-ranking executive be investigated by the nation's legal authorities, but this was inevitable, as we concluded that we had to get to the bottom of this incident," Samsung said.

posted by n1 on Tuesday September 16, @08:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the plan-for-world-peace-to-follow dept.

Reuters reports that plans for a major rewriting of international tax rules have been unveiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that could eliminate structures that have allowed companies like Google and Amazon to shave billions of dollars off their tax bills. For more than 50 years, the OECD’s work on international taxation has been focused on ensuring companies are not taxed twice on the same profits hampering trade and limit global growth. But companies have been using such treaties to ensure profits are not taxed anywhere. A Reuters investigation last year found that three quarters of the 50 biggest U.S. technology companies channelled revenues from European sales into low tax jurisdictions like Ireland and Switzerland, rather than reporting them nationally. For example, search giant Google takes advantage of tax treaties to channel more than $8 billion in untaxed profits out of Europe and Asia each year and into a subsidiary that is tax resident in Bermuda, which has no income tax. “We are putting an end to double non-taxation,” says OECD head of tax Pascal Saint-Amans.

For the recommendations to actually become binding countries will have to encode them in their domestic laws or amend their bilateral tax treaties. The OECD says that it plans to hold an international conference on amending the network of existing tax treaties. Sol Picciotto, an emeritus professor at Lancaster University in Britain, says the recommendations are at least five to 10 years from becoming law, and that the jury is still out on whether they will accomplish their stated goals. “These are just tweaks,” says Picciotto. “They’re trying to repair an old motorcar, but what they need is a new engine.”

posted by n1 on Tuesday September 16, @06:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the why-wont-it-go-viral? dept.

An article recently published in Nature's Scientific Reviews describes a new method to reverse-engineer network growth processes. Some examples of application include the discovery of growth processes for a small brain, social networks and a protein interactions network.

The algorithm uses a technique inspired by natural selection to evolve theories on how networks grow.

Here's also a blog post about it from one of the authors.

posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday September 16, @05:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.

Phys.org reported on recent hoaxes where gamers seeking retaliation against an opponent make a fake emergency call to get a SWAT team sent over.

Authorities are increasingly concerned about a hoax in which video game players lash out at online opponents by making fake 911 calls that send SWAT teams to their homes.

The practice, known as "swatting," originally targeted celebrities. Experts say it's now becoming more popular with gamers seeking retaliation. It offers anonymity and a way to watch the hoax unfold live over game-streaming systems.

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