GlobalFoundries Inc. has agreed to acquire International Business Machines Corp.'s microelectronics division. Under the terms of the agreement, GlobalFoundries will become "the exclusive server processor semiconductor technology provider [to IBM] for 22 nanometer (nm), 14nm and 10nm semiconductors for the next 10 years."
The largest contract chip maker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, quadrupled its capital spending in the last five years from $2.5 billion to $10 billion. If you are a company like IBM you have to look at those numbers and ask yourself, does it make sense to take a loss in chip making when you could just buy them from someone else?
IBM's answer as of today is no, it doesn't.
By divesting themselves of their semiconductor manufacturing business, IBM is cutting loose a business that is losing them money, but it is also a necessary step to enable the consolidation of manufacturing rather than a dissolution of the business entirely. Though in better shape than IBM's business, GlobalFoundries has their own struggles with technology and volume, so taking on IBM's business will allow the two businesses to be consolidated and ideally a larger, stronger semiconductor manufacturer to emerge.
Overall then, the deal sees GlobalFoundries taking on everything related to semiconductor manufacturing from IBM except for IBM's semiconductor R&D division, which IBM will hold on to.
GlobalFoundries spun out of AMD in 2009. IBM had been negotiating the transfer of its chipmaking division for some time, and has already sold off its PC and x86 server businesses to Lenovo. IBM has attempted to bolster its Power chips by licensing the architecture through the ARM-like OpenPower Consortium. Earlier this month, IBM announced Power8 servers that would incorporate Nvidia GPU acceleration.
GreatFire.org, a group that monitors censorship by the Chinese government’s national firewall system (often referred to as the “Great Firewall”), reports that China is using the system as part of a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack on users of Apple’s iCloud service within the country. The attacks come as Apple begins the official rollout of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus on the Chinese mainland.
The attack, which uses a fake certificate and Domain Name Service address for the iCloud service, is affecting users nationwide in China. The GreatFire.org team speculates that the attack is an effort to help the government circumvent the improved security features of the new phones by compromising their iCloud credentials and allowing the government to gain access to cloud-stored content such as phone backups.
Chinese iCloud users attempting to log in with Firefox and Chrome browsers would have been alerted to the fraudulent certificate. However, those using Mac OS X’s built-in iCloud login or another browser may not have been aware of the rerouting, and their iCloud credentials would have been immediately compromised. Using two-step verification would prevent the hijacking of compromised accounts.
Isaac Asimov was one of the great sci-fi writers of the 20th century. So naturally, at the dawn of the space age, the military wanted to tap his brain. In 1959 he was approached by ARPA (now known as DARPA) to "think outside of the box" about how ideas are formed. His brief work for the organization has never before been published.
Asimov took a few meetings with ARPA and Allied Research Associates in Boston, but ultimately decided against long term involvement with the organizations. Asimov was apparently afraid that any access to classified military material would limit his freedom of expression. And rightly so, since it would have no doubt hampered his ability to publish fiction freely. However, Asimov did produce a single paper for the organization that has never been published until today.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is taking Shakespeare's phrase "let's kill all the lawyers" to a different level. On Monday, he sued many of the attorneys who represented a New Yorker named Paul Ceglia, the man who claimed Zuckerberg promised him half of Facebook back when Zuckerberg was an 18-year-old Harvard University student.
"The lawyers representing Ceglia knew or should have known that the lawsuit was a fraud—it was brought by a convicted felon with a history of fraudulent scams, and it was based on an implausible story and obviously forged documents. In fact, Defendants’ own co-counsel discovered the fraud, informed the other lawyers, and withdrew. Despite all this, Defendants vigorously pursued the case in state and federal courts and in the media," Facebook said in a New York Supreme Court suit [PDF].
Ceglia faces trial next year on accusations that his lawsuit—in which he claimed half ownership of Facebook—was a fraud. He has pleaded not guilty and faces a maximum 40-year prison term if convicted.
Krebsonsecurity reports that new court documents released this week by the U.S. government in its case against "Dread Pirate Roberts" suggest that the feds may have some explaining to do.
Last month, the U.S. government released court records claiming that FBI investigators were able to divine the location of the hidden Silk Road servers because the community’s login page employed an anti-abuse CAPTCHA service that pulled content from the open Internet — thus leaking the site’s true Internet address.
But lawyers for alleged Silk Road captain Ross W. Ulbricht (a.k.a. the “Dread Pirate Roberts”) asked the court to compel prosecutors to prove their version of events. And indeed, discovery documents reluctantly released by the government this week appear to poke serious holes in the FBI's story.
The FBI claims that it found the Silk Road server by examining plain text Internet traffic to and from the Silk Road CAPTCHA, and that it visited the address using a regular browser and received the CAPTCHA page. But Weaver says the traffic logs from the Silk Road server (PDF) that also were released by the government this week tell a different story.
"The server logs which the FBI provides as evidence show that, no, what happened is the FBI didn’t see a leakage coming from that IP," he said. "What happened is they contacted that IP directly and got a PHPMyAdmin configuration page." See this PDF file for a look at that PHPMyAdmin page. Here is the PHPMyAdmin server configuration.
Bruce Schneier reckons FBI's story is a botched parallel construction on hints from NSA.
The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon. Others at SN have also voiced similar opinions so I thought this might be an interesting read for our members.
The voters who put Barack Obama in office expected some big changes. From the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping to Guantanamo Bay to the Patriot Act, candidate Obama was a defender of civil liberties and privacy, promising a dramatically different approach from his predecessor.
But six years into his administration, the Obama version of national security looks almost indistinguishable from the one he inherited. Guantanamo Bay remains open. The NSA has, if anything, become more aggressive in monitoring Americans. Drone strikes have escalated. Most recently it was reported that the same president who won a Nobel Prize in part for promoting nuclear disarmament is spending up to $1 trillion modernizing and revitalizing America’s nuclear weapons.
On Friday, a Monterey County woman was charged with wiretapping a police officer and possessing "illegal interception devices”, according to the Northern California District Attorney’s office. The District Attorney said that Kristin Nyunt, age 40, allegedly intercepted communications made by a police officer on his mobile phone.
Nyunt is the ex-wife of former Pacific Grove Police Commander John Nyunt, and she has already been sentenced to eight years and four months in prison after pleading guilty in July to five counts of identity theft, two counts of computer network fraud, one count of residential burglary, and two counts of forgery.
In the latest charges [PDF], the District Attorney accused Nyunt of using illegal spyware including MobiStealth, StealthGenie, and mSpy to intercept "sensitive law enforcement communication” in real time. Nyunt allegedly placed the spyware on a police officer’s phone surreptitiously, although court documents do not detail how or why.
How is a genius different from a really smart person - an interesting perspective from present and past members of Mensa.
The most intelligent two percent of people in the world qualify for membership in Mensa, an exclusive international society open only to people who score at or above the 98th percentile on an IQ or other standardized intelligence test. Mensa’s mission remains the same as when it was founded in Oxford, England, in 1946: To identify and nurture human intelligence for humanity’s benefit, to foster research in the nature of intelligence, and to provide social and other opportunities for its members.
Nautilus spoke with five present and former members of the society: Richard Hunter, a retired finance director at a drinks distributor; journalist Jack Williams; Bikram Rana, a director at a business consulting firm; LaRae Bakerink, a business consultant; and clinical hypnotist John Sheehan.
Together, they reflect on the meaning of genius, whether it can be measured, and what IQ has to do with it.
Science Daily brings us a story of an element that would put any celebrity to shame—wild molecular interactions in a new hydrogen mixture:
Hydrogen—the most abundant element in the cosmos—responds to extremes of pressure and temperature differently. Under ambient conditions hydrogen is a gaseous two-atom molecule. As confinement pressure increases, the molecules adopt different states of matter—like when water ice melts to liquid and then heats to steam. Thus far, at extreme pressures hydrogen has four known solid phases. Now scientists, including Carnegie's Alexander Goncharov, have combined hydrogen with its heavier sibling deuterium—which has an added neutron in its nucleus—and created a novel, disordered, "Phase IV"-material where the molecules interact differently than have been observed before. The new results, published in the October 21, issue of Physical Review Letters, could be valuable for controlling superconducting and thermoelectric properties of novel hydrogen- bearing materials.
The story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Institution.
Despite all we know even the simplest of elements have demonstrated far more interesting workings every time we look at them.
Last weekend there were local elections in the Czech Republic, and the local Pirate Party [had] dozens of candidates on the ballots.
The Pirates campaigned with a program that advocates more Government transparency, more involvement for citizens, less copyright monopolies and the use of free software.
This message was received well by the public as 21 Pirate Party representatives were voted into regional parliaments. In addition, several other Pirates gained seats through the lists of other local parties.
One of the biggest victories was booked in Mariánské lázně where the Pirates came out as the biggest party with 21% of the total vote. [Google translation fails] This means that the Czech town may soon have its first Pirate mayor.
Wired reports of another secretive database of phone records which has gone largely unnoticed and without scrutiny:
The database, which affects unknown numbers of people, contains phone records that at least five police agencies in southeast Virginia have been collecting since 2012 and sharing with one another with little oversight. Some of the data appears to have been obtained by police from telecoms using only a subpoena, rather than a court order or probable-cause warrant. Other information in the database comes from mobile phones seized from suspects during an arrest.
The five cities participating in the program, [...], are Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Suffolk, according to the memorandum of understanding that established the database. The effort is being led in part by the Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Task Force, which is responsible for a “telephone analysis room” in the city of Hampton, where the database is maintained.
The unusual and secretive database contains telecom customer subscriber information; records about individual phone calls, such as the numbers dialed, the time the calls were made and their duration; as well as the contents of seized mobile devices. The information is collected and shared among police agencies to enhance analysis and law enforcement intelligence. ...
All over the U.S., local police agencies are collecting vast stockpiles of private information from people—some of it from people who have not been convicted of crimes but were merely stopped by police.
As an example of the amount of data being collected, in the first-ever transparency reports released by major telecoms earlier this year, AT&T revealed that between January and June, it received nearly 80,000 criminal subpoenas for customer records from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, while Verizon disclosed that it had received over 72,000 subpoenas from law enforcement during the same period.
IMHO, USofA is beyond just a police state, is becoming a secret police state (I grew in one, I see the signs).
As Boston Globe put it: vote all you want, the secret government won’t change.
Mashable reports on the latest medical breakthrough from a government-funded lab in North Carolina. The lab has already grown tissue for 30 human organs, including kidneys, hearts, bladders, urethras and even vaginas. Now scientists have added another vital organ to the list: the penis.
The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem has successfully engineered the first six lab-grown human penises, the scientists revealed over the weekend — and they're just waiting for FDA approval to move forward with what they call "in-man" testing.
In the meantime, the engineered penises are being put through their paces in the lab — courtesy of machines that squash, twist and stretch the organs, and pump them full of fluid to test their erections.
El Reg reports:
The National Security Agency (NSA) has, since 2004, sent spies into private companies in a bid to compromise networks from within, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Agents sent in by the NSA targeted global communications firms under a highly classified 'core secrets' program dubbed Sentry Eagle, previously known only to a handful of officials.
The documents published by Snowden mouthpiece The Intercept indicate operatives in the core secrets program worked in concert with companies to weaken encryption and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to break security mechanisms.
Draft documents published online detailing Sentry Eagle explain that the program used the "full capabilities" of signals intelligence (SIGINT), computer exploitation, defence and network warfare to ensure the protection of US cyberspace.
The document listed facts ranging from unclassified to top secret necessitating "extraordinary protection", and demonstrated the chasm between unclassified information the NSA saw fit for public consumption and that appearing at times too sensitive for the eyes of allies.
 All content is behind scripts.
Christopher Ingraham writes in the Washington Post that many countries are taking a close look at what's happening in Colorado and Washington state to learn lessons that can be applied to their own situations and so far, the news coming out of Colorado and Washington is overwhelmingly positive. Dire consequences predicted by reform opponents have failed to materialize. If anything, societal and economic indicators are moving in a positive direction post-legalization. Colorado marijuana tax revenues for fiscal year 2014-2015 are on track to surpass projections.
Lisa Sanchez, a program manager at México Unido Contra la Delincuencia, a Mexican non-profit devoted to promoting "security, legality and justice", underscored how legalization efforts in the U.S. are having powerful ripple effects across the globe: events in Colorado and Washington have "created political space for Latin American countries to have a real debate [about drug policy]". She noted that motivations for reform in Latin America are somewhat different than U.S. motivations - one main driver is a need to address the epidemic of violence on those countries that is fuelled directly by prohibitionist drug war policies. Mexico's president has given signs he's open to changes in that country's marijuana laws to help combat cartel violence. Sandeep Chawla, former deputy director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, notes that one of the main obstacles to meaningful reform is layers of entrenched drug control bureaucracies at the international and national levels - just in the U.S., think of the DEA, ONDCP and NIDA, among others - for whom a relaxation of drug control laws represents an undermining of their reason for existence: "if you create a bureaucracy to solve a particular problem, when the problem is solved that bureaucracy is out of a job".
The Borowitz Report reveals:
In interviews conducted across the nation, leading anti-science activists expressed their concern that the American people, wracked with anxiety over the possible spread of the virus, might desperately look to science to save the day.
Additionally, he worries about a "slippery slope" situation, "in which a belief in science leads to a belief in math, which in turn fosters a dangerous dependence on facts."