Some bitcoin enthusiasts have used their cryptocurrency to travel around the world. Others have spent it on a trip to space. But the very earliest user of bitcoin (after its inventor Satoshi Nakamoto himself) has now spent his crypto coins on the most ambitious mission yet: to visit the future.
Hal Finney, the renowned cryptographer, coder, and bitcoin pioneer, died Thursday morning at the age of 58 after five years battling ALS. He will be remembered for a remarkable career that included working as the number-two developer on the groundbreaking encryption software PGP in the early 1990s, creating one of the first “remailers” that presaged the anonymity software Tor, and—more than a decade later—becoming one of the first programmers to work on bitcoin’s open source code; in 2008, he received the very first bitcoin transaction from Satoshi Nakamoto.
Now Finney has become an early adopter of a far more science fictional technology: human cryopreservation, the process of freezing human bodies so that they can be revived decades or even centuries later.
Research into second hand emissions from cigarettes and e-cigarettes (Abstract) has found that while there is a tenfold decrease in overall exposure to carcinogenic particulate matter from e-cigarettes compared to cigarettes, there were increased levels of certain toxic metals. The researchers noted that more of this came from the device itself as opposed to the liquid used in the device.
In recent years, electronic cigarettes have gained increasing popularity as alternatives to normal (tobacco-containing) cigarettes. In the present study, particles generated by e-cigarettes and normal cigarettes have been analyzed and the degree of exposure to different chemical agents and their emission rates were quantified. Despite the 10-fold decrease in the total exposure to particulate elements in e-cigarettes compared to normal cigarettes, specific metals (e.g. Ni and Ag) still displayed a higher emission rate from e-cigarettes. Further analysis indicated that the contribution of e-liquid to the emission of these metals is rather minimal, implying that they likely originate from other components of the e-cigarette device or other indoor sources. Organic species had lower emission rates during e-cigarette consumption compared to normal cigarettes. Of particular note was the non-detectable emission of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from e-cigarettes, while substantial emission of these species was observed from normal cigarettes. Overall, with the exception of Ni, Zn, and Ag, the consumption of e-cigarettes resulted in a remarkable decrease in secondhand exposure to all metals and organic compounds. Implementing quality control protocols on the manufacture of e-cigarettes would further minimize the emission of metals from these devices and improve their safety and associated health effects.
WCSC reported that a South Carolina High School student was arrested and suspended after writing about killing a dinosaur using a gun in a class assignment. Attorney David Aylor, who is representing 16-year-old Alex Stone, said his client's arrest over a creative writing assignment was "completely absurd," and is seeking to appeal the suspension. "Students were asked to write about themselves and a creative Facebook status update – just days into the new school year – and my client was arrested and suspended after a school assignment."
Stone said he and his classmates were told in class to write a few sentences about themselves, and a "status" as if it was a Facebook page. Stone said in his "status" he wrote a fictional story that involved the words "gun" and "take care of business."
"I killed my neighbor's pet dinosaur, and, then, in the next status I said I bought the gun to take care of the business"
“I could understand if they made him rewrite it because he did have ‘gun’ in it. But a pet dinosaur?” said his mother Karen Gray. “I mean first of all, we don’t have dinosaurs anymore. Second of all, he’s not even old enough to buy a gun.”
Additional coverage here.
The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.
The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies. Planning documents for ICREACH, as the search engine is called, cite the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration as key participants.
This story comes via The Intercept.
The Helmholtz equation models "the propagation of electronic waves" that involves using a sparse matrix to help minimize the amount of calculation a computer has to do in order to figure out the paths and interferences of waves, in this case from a Wi-Fi router. The whole process is similar to how scattered granular material, like rice or salt, will form complex patterns on top of a speaker depending on where the sound waves are hitting the surfaces.
Longtime employee and CTO of RedHat is leaving the company.
“We want to thank Brian for his years of service and numerous contributions to Red Hat’s business. We wish him well in his future endeavors,” said Jim Whitehurst, President and CEO of Red Hat.
Stevens' eyes may have been wandering elsewhere because of conflicts with Red Hat's president of products and technologies Paul Cormier. Cormier will be taking over the office of the CTO for the time being.
His future? It's unclear but it's possible he's moving to greener pastures, "a major California-based technology company."
Commence wild speculation! What does this mean for RedHat and GNU/Linux? Anything?
The Car Connection reports that back in May Google unveiled the prototype of its first autonomous car built in-house but there were a few features that the new model lacked — for example, a steering wheel and brake pedal. Now, California's DMV has told Google to return those accouterments to their traditional locations so that riders can take "immediate physical control" of the car, if necessary. That and other autonomous vehicle regulations kick in on September 15.
"This isn't a huge setback for Google," writes Richard Reed. "After all, the prototypes aren't nearly ready for primetime, they're just being used for tests. Though the control-less models have worked fine on closed tracks, with no accidents to date, they'll eventually be navigating real streets in real traffic, so they'll need to be up to code. In fact, the DMV may tighten up things a bit further next month, when it issues regulations concerning test vehicles on public roads." In the long run, though, we'd expect the DMV to loosen some of these restrictions. It will undoubtedly take years for regulators and the public to begin trusting autonomous cars — and even then, it's likely that automakers will keep some kind of manual override system in place. After all, given the safety records of autonomous cars — records that will certainly improve with the rollout of vehicle-to-vehicle technology — we're hopeful that motorists will (almost) never need to use them.
El Reg reports that Twitter is giving all users access to its analytics platform. Until now stats had only been made available to advertisers and verified accounts in a limited rollout, which started in July.
The dashboard allows users to view impressions on tweets over the course of 28 day spans and compare impressions on individual tweets with those in the past. Users can also view and rank tweets based on number of engagements and engagement rate (the number of impressions that result in a retweet, reply, follow or favorite).
Other options include the ability to analyze follower activity and keep track of how a user's promoted tweets are faring. The dashboard also tracks replies and click rates for links in tweets. All of the dashboard data can be exported for spreadsheet use.
Researchers have found that after being on an unhealthy diet, rats became indifferent in their food choices and had lost their natural preference for novelty in food.
A diet of junk food not only makes rats fat, but also reduces their appetite for novel foods, a preference that normally drives them to seek a balanced diet, reports a study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology.
The study helps to explain how excessive consumption of junk food can change behavior, weaken self-control and lead to overeating and obesity.
The team of researchers, led by Professor Margaret Morris, Head of Pharmacology from the School of Medical Sciences, UNSW Australia, taught young male rats to associate each of two different sound cues with a particular flavor of sugar water – cherry and grape.
Healthy rats, raised on a healthy diet, stopped responding to cues linked to a flavor in which they have recently overindulged. This inborn mechanism, widespread in animals, protects against overeating and promotes a healthy, balanced diet.
But after 2 weeks on a diet that included daily access to cafeteria foods, including pie, dumplings, cookies, and cake – with 150% more calories – the rats' weight increased by 10% and their behavior changed dramatically. They became indifferent in their food choices and no longer avoided the sound advertising the overfamiliar taste. This indicated that they had lost their natural preference for novelty. The change even lasted for some time after the rats returned to a healthy diet.
Mozilla continues to push its web-based Firefox OS phone with the first model in India available this week. Intex Technologies is selling the handset, dubbed the Cloud FX, for 1,999 rupees ($33.03 US) through Snapdeal.com.
The Cloud FX is powered by a 1 GHz chip and comes with a meager 128 MB of memory and 256 MB of internal storage, although the latter can be expanded up to 4 GB. The phone supports a dual-SIM configuration and has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios. Don't expect speedy mobile broadband though: This handset uses 2G networks to connect to the web. Buyers will also be limited by the display, which is a 3.5-inch screen with 320 x 480 resolution. Images are captured with a 2 megapixel camera.
In the 2001 action movie Ocean’s Eleven, criminals use an electromagnetic weapon to black out a portion of Las Vegas. Very futuristic, you may say, but the threat is real and growing.
The problem is growing because the technology available to attackers has improved even as the technology being attacked has become more vulnerable. Our infrastructure increasingly depends on closely integrated, high-speed electronic systems operating at low internal voltages. That means they can be laid low by short, sharp pulses high in voltage but low in energy—output that can now be generated by a machine the size of a suitcase, batteries included.
Electromagnetic (EM) attacks are not only possible—they are happening. One may be under way as you read this. Even so, you would probably never hear of it: These stories are typically hushed up, for the sake of security or the victims’ reputation. Occasionally, though, an incident comes to light.
The linked story goes on to examine the differences between wideband and narrowband attacks at different radio frequencies, the mechanism that is used to conduct an attack, and what is required to defend against such an attack. The article is both well written and understandable.
[Ed's Comment: The type of GPS attack detailed in the linked Article is actually 'conventional' electronic warfare from a mobile ground installation and not from a suitcase. However, as TFA illustrates well, the threat remains present and IT systems are vulnerable.]
Ars is reporting someone at the DOJ said they have the Lois Lerner emails in off-site backup tapes.
Unnamed Department of Justice attorneys admitted to an attorney from the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch that backups exist of the e-mail messages of former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner. In a press release on the organization’s website, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said that the DOJ official claimed that accessing the specific e-mails in response to a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch against the IRS would be too difficult, as they were retained in an offsite backup for disaster recovery.
Then the Whitehouse promptly denied this.
An unnamed White House official told The Hill that no new backups had been discovered. "The administration official said that the inspector general is examining whether any data can be recovered from the previously recycled back-up tapes and suggested that could be the cause of the confusion between the government and Judicial Watch," The Hill's Bernie Becker reported.
Isn't government corruption theater fun?
Mike Masnick over at techdirt has an informative editorial up about Keurig's coffee maker DRM being cracked by its competitors.
... it appears that Keurig competitors have already figured out ways to crack the DRM. TreeHouse Foods very quickly announced that it would be able to break the DRM. Meanwhile, Mother Parkers' RealCup has just announced that its pods are compatible with Keurig's DRM. It's a little unclear from the press release if Mothers Parkers cracked the DRM or came to a deal with Green Mountain, though it sure sounds like it was internal work ...
Being both coffee and tech related, it had to be submitted.
According to the Washington Post the federal court system's PACER electronic database of court records had deleted a ton of old cases. Charles Hall, a spokesperson for the Administrative Office, told The Post via e-mail that the change was made on Aug. 11 in preparation for an overhaul of the the PACER architecture, including the implementation of the next generation of the Judiciary's Case Management and Electronic Case Files System.
"However, as a result of the changes the locally developed legacy case management systems of some courts were no longer compatible with PACER, he says. Since PACER works as a sort of distributed network of different archives rather than one centralized database, that's a major problem.
However, Hall says, the dockets and documents no longer available through the system could still be obtained directly from the relevant court and "all open cases, as well as any new filings, will continue to be available on PACER."
Techdirt has coverage on efforts being made by parties interested in restoring and preserving digital access to these records.
[Ed's Note: Although TFA is saying 'deleted' it is more accurate to say that some documents will not be stored on PACER. There is more in the article regarding an alternative effort to archive the documents in question, as referred to in the TFS.]