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What should be the Book Club picks for April+?

  • Oryx and Crake - Book #1 of the MaddAddam trilogy - Margaret Atwood
  • Beggars in Spain - Book #1 of the Sleepless trilogy - Nancy Kress
  • Too Far - Rich Shapiro
  • Revolt in 2100 - (short stories collection) - Robert A. Heinlein
  • Morlock the Maker Short Stories - (pre-Blood of Ambrose?) - James Enge
  • Downbelow Station - C. J. Cherryh
  • Hammerfall - C. J. Cherryh
  • Sundiver - David Brin

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:17 | Votes:55

posted by janrinok on Thursday May 23, @01:08PM   Printer-friendly
from the need-smaller-antennae dept.

The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, programmed a small fleet of miniature robotic cars to drive on a multi-lane track and observed how the traffic flow changed when one of the cars stopped.

When the cars were not driving cooperatively, any cars behind the stopped car had to stop or slow down and wait for a gap in the traffic, as would typically happen on a real road. A queue quickly formed behind the stopped car and overall traffic flow was slowed.

However, when the cars were communicating with each other and driving cooperatively, as soon as one car stopped in the inner lane, it sent a signal to all the other cars. Cars in the outer lane that were in immediate proximity of the stopped car slowed down slightly so that cars in the inner lane were able to quickly pass the stopped car without having to stop or slow down significantly.

Additionally, when a human-controlled driver was put on the 'road' with the autonomous cars and moved around the track in an aggressive manner, the other cars were able to give way to avoid the aggressive driver, improving safety.

The results, to be presented today at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Montréal, will be useful for studying how autonomous cars can communicate with each other, and with cars controlled by human drivers, on real roads in the future.


[Editors Comment: The submitter is linked professionally to the last of the listed sources. Additional source material, including the original paper from Cambridge University as primary source, is also listed.]

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday May 23, @11:34AM   Printer-friendly
from the see-no-evil-speak-no-evil dept.

Submitted via IRC for AnonymousLuser

Credit Union Sues Fintech Giant Fiserv Over Security Claims

In late April 2019, Fiserv was sued by Bessemer System Federal Credit Union, a comparatively tiny financial institution with just $38 million in assets. Bessemer said it was moved by that story to launch its own investigation into Fiserv’s systems, and it found a startlingly simple flaw: Firsev’s platform would let anyone reset the online banking password for a customer just by knowing their account number and the last four digits of their Social Security number.

[...] Bessemer further alleges Fiserv’s systems had no checks in place to prevent automated attacks that might let thieves rapidly guess the last four digits of the customer’s SSN — such as limiting the number of times a user can submit a login request, or imposing a waiting period after a certain number of failed login attempts.

[...] Bessemer says instead of fixing these security problems and providing the requested assurances that information was being adequately safeguarded, Fiserv issued it a “notice of claims,” alleging the credit union’s security review of its own online banking system gave rise to civil and criminal claims.

The credit union says Fiserv demanded it not disclose information relating to the security review to any third parties, “including Fiserv’s other clients (who presumably were affected with the same security problems at their financial institutions) as well as media sources.”

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday May 23, @09:57AM   Printer-friendly
from the mechanical-buzzing dept.

Submitted via IRC for AnonymousLuser

Scientists create a four-winged robot insect that flies with grace

It's difficult to make an insect-like flying robot -- realistic four-winged bots are typically too heavy, while lighter two-winged models tend to fly erratically. USC researchers have edged one step closer to the dream machine, however. They've created Bee+, a four-winged bot [...] that flies with more of the agility and poise of real insects while weighing just over 0.003oz. The trick was to drop earlier bimorph actuators, cantilevers made of two layers of piezoelectric material with a passive layer in between, with unimorphs that only have one piezoelectric layer. The four actuators combined weigh half as much as bimorphs would at just under 0.002oz, reducing the wing loading and significantly improving control.

There's still much, much more work to be done before there are robotic insects in service. Bee+ flies tethered, since that saves the team from factoring a battery into the design. Size is also a concern. While the robot is only slightly larger than a penny, it's still much larger and heavier than most real insects.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday May 23, @08:20AM   Printer-friendly
from the so-many-leaks-so-little-time dept.

Instagram Website Leaked Phone Numbers and Emails for Months, Researcher Says:

Instagram's website leaked user contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses, over a period of at least four months, a researcher says.

The source code for some Instagram user profiles included the account holder's contact information whenever it loaded in a web browser, says David Stier, a data scientist and business consultant, who notified Instagram shortly after he discovered the problem earlier this year. The contact information wasn't displayed on the account holder's profiles on the desktop version of the Instagram website, although it was used by the photo-sharing site's app for communication. It isn't clear why the information was included in the website's source code.

The exposure appeared to include contact information for thousands of accounts, which belonged to private individuals -- some of whom were minors -- along with businesses and brands, Stier said. Including the information in the source code could let hackers scrape the data from the Instagram website, allowing them to assemble a virtual phone book that lists the contact details of thousands of Instagram users.

Pictures, or it didn't happen! Oh, wait./

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday May 23, @06:43AM   Printer-friendly
from the let's-do-the-starlink-agaaaain dept.

On May 20th, SpaceX tweeted: "Now targeting May 23 for launch of Starlink from Pad 40 in Florida".

According to Spaceflightnow:

May 23/24 Falcon 9 • Starlink 1
Launch time: 0230-0400 GMT on 24th (10:30 p.m.-12:00 a.m. EDT on 23rd/24th)

Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch 60 satellites for SpaceX's Starlink broadband network. Scrubbed on May 15 and May 16.

The launch will be Live-Streamed on YouTube:

Scheduled for May 23, 2019

SpaceX is targeting Thursday, May 23 for the launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. SpaceX's Starlink is a next-generation satellite network capable of connecting the globe, especially reaching those who are not yet connected, with reliable and affordable broadband internet services.

The launch window opens at 10:30 p.m. EDT on May 23, or 2:30 UTC on May 24, and closes at 12:00 a.m. on May 24, or 4:00 UTC. A backup launch window opens on Friday, May 24 at 10:30 p.m. EDT, or 2:30 UTC on May 25, and closes at 12:00 a.m. on May 25, or 4:00 UTC. Falcon 9's first stage for this mission previously supported the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission in September 2018 and the Iridium-8 mission in January 2019. Following stage separation, SpaceX will attempt to land Falcon 9's first stage on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Approximately one hour and two minutes after liftoff, the Starlink satellites will begin deployment at an altitude of 440km. They will then use onboard propulsion to reach an operational altitude of 550km.

Previous coverage:
SpaceX to Launch 60 Starlink Satellites at Once, and More,
SpaceX to Launch 60 Starlink Satellites: Postponed 1 Day Due to Upper Altitude Winds
SpaceX *was* going to Try Starlink Launch Again Today; Mission Scrubbed.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 23, @05:06AM   Printer-friendly
from the here's-hoping-the-fat-lady-has-laryngitis dept.


Netflix changed how we watch TV, but it didn't really change what we watch...

Netflix has achieved its incredible growth by taking distribution away from cable companies. Instead of watching The Office on cable, people now watch The Office on Netflix.

This edge isn't sustainable.
Disney's cable business has stagnated over the past seven years. But in about 175 days, Disney is set to launch its own streaming service called Disney+.

It's going to charge $6.99/month—around $6 cheaper than Netflix.

And it's pulling all its content off of Netflix.

This is a big deal.

No more Bunk'd on Netflix? Nooooooooooooooo...

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 23, @03:29AM   Printer-friendly
from the Kilroy-was-here dept.

The Mars 2020 rover will touch down on the red planet in February 2021 in the 45 Kilometer wide Jezero Crater. But if you want, it can take a little piece of you with it, your name.

NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names to fly aboard the life-hunting Mars 2020 rover, which is scheduled to launch next summer and touch down on the Red Planet in February 2021.

Its quick, its easy, and its free.

Getting your name (way) out there is easy; just fill out the short form here by Sept. 30. You'll get a Mars "boarding pass" for your minimal trouble.

This isn't a new idea for NASA, they did the same thing on the Mars Insight Lander, which landed in November of last year with more than two million people's names onboard.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) mission team members in Pasadena, California will

use an electron beam to etch submitted names onto a microchip, in lines of text that are less than 0.1% as wide as a human hair. About 1 million names can be squeezed onto a single chip, NASA officials said.

And, on the subject of names, the rover will be getting a new one soon enough.

NASA plans to hold a student naming competition, as the agency has done with Red Planet rovers in the past. For example, then-sixth-grader Clara Ma submitted the moniker "Curiosity" for Mars 2020's predecessor, which has been exploring the Red Planet's Gale Crater since 2012.

If you are keeping track, 313,586,649 frequent flyer miles (504,668,791 km) award points will be awarded on the flight from Cape Canaveral to Jezero Crater.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 23, @01:50AM   Printer-friendly
from the dept.

Now we know why SpaceX is suing the US government

SpaceX's rivals just blew the cover off the rocket company's secretive lawsuit against the US government. Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman (NOC) and United Launch Alliance all received Air Force contracts in October in response to the government's request for Launch Service Agreement proposals, or LSAs, which are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. SpaceX did not receive an LSA contract. Those awards are at the heart of SpaceX's new lawsuit, and they want to be involved in the proceedings to protect their interests, according to documents filed Tuesday and Wednesday.

[...] The Air Force developed the LSA to help awardees develop massive new rockets that could one day be capable of launching national security payloads for the military. ULA was promised up to $967 million for its forthcoming Vulcan Centaur rocket. Northrop Grumman, which is building a launch vehicle called OmegA, will receive up to $792 million. And Blue Origin will get $500 million for its New Glenn rocket. The awards, however, do not guarantee that the new rockets will one day win military launch contracts, which are extremely lucrative and coveted in the space industry.

[...] SpaceX, like the other companies, is also developing a new launch vehicle: It's called Starship and Super Heavy, a rocket and spaceship system that Musk has described as the technology that will allow humans to colonize Mars. Theoretically, the rocket could be used to help launch heavy military payloads into orbit as well.

The redacted SpaceX complaint posted Wednesday states that the company's proposal asked for money to support all three of [its] rockets — the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, which are already operational, and Starship. But officials determined that including Starship would render "the entire SpaceX portfolio the 'highest risk'" of all the options. SpaceX called that claim "unreasonable," according to the complaint. "The Agency wrongly awarded LSAs to a portfolio of three unproven rockets based on unstated metrics, unequal treatment under the procurement criteria, and opaque industrial planning," SpaceX alleged.

Also at Space News, CNBC, and Reuters.

Previously: The Military Chooses Which Rockets It Wants Built for the Next Decade
Blue Origin Urges U.S. Air Force to Delay Launch Provider Decision

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 23, @12:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the insert-picure-of-big-haired-guy-saying-it-was-aliens.jpg dept.

We recently had reports of some 'wonkiness' on the site.

Reports started appearing in our #Soylent channel on IRC about 90 minutes ago. For example, the Main Page would load, but parts of the page (such as the slashboxes on the left-hand side) were missing.

I borked my first attempt, but on the second try successfully restarted apache and slashd on both of our front-end servers: hydrogen and fluorine.

All seems to be working correctly now. If this is not the case for you, you may need to clear the browser cache on your system and/or do a hard reload of the page (e.g. Ctrl+F5). If things are still not right, please reply in the comments and/or pop into channel #dev on IRC and let us know.

I'm not sure what precipitated the behavior; I'll leave that to TheMightyBuzzard or one of the sysadmin folk to investigate. I'm sure they'll fill us in on whatever root cause was found.

OTOH, one cannot entirely rule out a spurious gamma ray that flipped a key bit in memory that caused an avalanche of untrapped events.

You can now return to your usual, spirited discussions.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 23, @12:10AM   Printer-friendly
from the Ruh-Roh! dept.

The US has hit China where it hurts by going after its telecom champion Huawei, but Beijing's control of the global supply of rare earths used in smartphones and electric cars gives it a powerful weapon in their escalating tech war.

A seemingly routine visit by President Xi Jinping to a Chinese rare earths company this week is being widely read as an obvious threat that Beijing is standing ready for action.
However, analysts say China appears apprehensive to target the minerals just yet, possibly fearful of shooting itself in the foot by hastening a global search for alternative supplies of the commodities.

Better buy your new devices now...

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday May 22, @10:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the bad-news-pandas dept.

Reports from multiple places in Japan that several species of bamboo have been found blossoming since late last year. From Japan-Forward:

While some species of bamboo produce blossoms as often as once every three years, many of them flower at extremely long intervals, between 40 to 80 years. In the case of madake 真竹 Phyllostachys bambusoides, pictured at the top of this article, they only flower once every 130 years!

Perhaps even more surprising than the long intervals at which they flower is the fact that all plants of the same stock of bamboo will bloom at the same time, and then die, no matter where they are in the world.
2019 may turn out to be one of those years where major groupings of bamboo stock populations wither and die.

Reports of bamboo blossoms from central to southern Japan have been coming in:

I had never heard of bamboo blossoming before, assuming that it only spread through new shoots running underground. As always, Wikipedia has more info.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday May 22, @08:55PM   Printer-friendly
from the Medical-Tourism-to-the-Rescue? dept.

A pulmonary thromboendarterectomy can tie up an operating room for most of a day. In the U.S., the procedure can cost more than $200,000. Shetty did it for about $10,000 and turned a profit. A cardiac surgeon by training, Shetty is the founder and chairman of Narayana Health, a chain of 23 hospitals across India that may be the cheapest full-service health-care provider in the world. To American eyes, Narayana's prices look as if they must be missing at least one zero, even as outcomes for patients meet or exceed international benchmarks. Surgery for head and neck cancers starts at $700. Endoscopy is $14; a lung transplant, $7,000. Even a heart transplant will set a patient back only about $11,000. Narayana is dirt cheap even by Indian standards, with the investment bank Jefferies estimating that it can profitably offer some major surgeries for as little as half what domestic rivals charge.

[...] Shetty's philosophy of thrift is everywhere. The surgical gowns are procured from a local company for about a third of the cost of international suppliers. The tubes that carry blood to heart-and-lung machines are sterilized and reused after each surgery; in the West, they're thrown away. The machines themselves, along with devices such as CT and MRI scanners, are used well past their warranties, kept running by a team of in-house mechanics. The operating rooms, pieces of real estate so expensive that many hospitals bill for their use by the minute, are also part of the assembly line. Whereas preparing a U.S. surgical theater for the next patient can take 30 minutes or more, Narayana has gotten the process down to less than 15, in part by keeping turnaround teams with fresh instruments, drapes, and other supplies on immediate standby, ready to roll the moment a room is available. Even patients' families are part of the upskilling model.

[...] It's all a far cry from the high-touch treatment Westerners expect, but Shetty is adamant that none of the practices compromise safety. Sterilizing and reusing clamps and tubing is permitted under the standards of the Joint Commission, a U.S.-based body that vets and accredits hospitals worldwide, including Narayana's cardiac hub. Involving properly instructed family members in the simplest care tasks isn't unheard of in Europe and North America, and some studies suggest it may improve patients' prospects. (Unlike busy nurses, relatives have just one person to focus on.)

The data appear to back Shetty up. In part because its huge volumes help surgeons quickly develop proficiency, the chain's mortality rates are comparable to or lower than those in the developed world, at least for some procedures. About 1.4 percent of Narayana patients die within 30 days following a heart bypass, according to the Commonwealth Fund, which studies public health, compared with 1.9 percent in the U.S. Narayana also outperforms Western systems in results for valve replacements and heart-attack treatment, the group found.

[...] Per capita, central-government spending on health care in India is lower than in any other major economy.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 22, @07:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the counting-101 dept.

Are koalas dying out in Australia or not? According to the latest news, the answer is: maybe! A hormone based program has been started to reduce the numbers of koalas .....

"In one area of woodland in the central hills, 13 koalas per hectare have been recorded and we are now seeing severe impacts due to over-browsing," Natural Resources Adelaide regional director Brenton Grear said.

"Optimal koala densities to prevent over-browsing of their habitat and ensure the long-term welfare of the koalas is around one per hectare." Mr Grear said there was considerable evidence of over-browsing of preferred food trees, with severe defoliation, dead or dying trees. "In effect, one of the greatest threats to the koala population in parts of the Mt Lofty Ranges is the koala population itself," he said.

The fertility program involves capturing individual animals to administer a hormone implant in a process that takes less than 10 minutes.

.... while the Australian Koala Foundation believes koalas are now 'functionally extinct'.

Koala bears have been declared "functionally extinct," the Australian Koala Foundation [AKF] reports.

The New York Post reports that the fluffy marsupial is down to just 80,000 wild species members, meaning there aren't enough breeding adults left to support another generation of the pouched mammals.

The tree-dwelling species has been ravaged by the effects of rising temperatures and heatwaves, which have caused widespread deforestation and fatal dehydration in koalas, according to the AKF.

Only 41 of the koala's 128 known habitats in federal environments have any of the animals left.

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 22, @05:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the never-trust-someone-else dept.

19.4 percent of the Docker store's top 1000 containers have no root password, potentially exposing users' systems to attacks under certain conditions.

Last week, a similar flaw was found impacting the official Alpine Linux Docker image, when Talos researchers discovered that all images since v3.3 were shipping with a root account with a null password. The vulnerability meant attackers who infiltrated systems via another entry point, or users with shell (remote) access, could elevate their privileges to root within the container.

Over the weekend, security expert Jerry Gamblin built a script that checked the top 1000 docker containers from the Docker store to determine if they were impacted by the same misconfiguration.

After tweaking the script to correct for duplicates, Gamblin found that 194 of the 1000 containers he analysed had blank passwords, including images from the UK government, HashiCorp, Microsoft, Monsanto and Mesosphere.


[Editors Comment: The submitter is employed by the first source. Alternative sources have been found for this story to verify its content.]

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 22, @03:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the I'll-not-wait-around-to-watch dept.

Following their encounters with the outer planets in the 1970s and 1980s, Pioneers 10 and 11 and Voyagers 1 and 2 are now on escape trajectories out of the solar system. Although they will cease to operate long before encountering any stars (the Pioneers already have), it is nonetheless interesting to ask which stars they will pass closest to in the next few million years. We answer this here using the accurate 3D positions and 3D velocities of 7.2 million stars in the second Gaia data release (GDR2, Gaia Collaboration 2018), supplemented with radial velocities for 222,000 additional stars obtained from Simbad.3

We adopt the same method we used for tracing the possible origin (and future encounters) of the interstellar object 'Oumuamua (Bailer-Jones et al. 2018a). We determine the asymptotic trajectories of the four spacecraft by starting from their ephemerides from JPL's Horizons system,4 propagating them numerically to the year 2900, and then extrapolating to the asymptote. Using a linear motion approximation we then identify those stars which approach within 15 pc of each spacecraft (~4500 stars in each case). Finally, we integrate the orbits of these stars and the spacecraft through a Galactic potential and identify close encounters. Statistics of the encounter time, separation, and velocity are obtained by resampling the covariance of the stellar data and integrating the orbits of the resulting samples. The uncertainties on the asymptotic spacecraft trajectories are negligible compared to those of the stars, and are therefore neglected.

Meanwhile, Fox gives us the following:

....the next star that Voyager 1 will pass will be Earth's nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri, in 16,700 years. However, this encounter will be unremarkable, as the craft's closest approach will be 1.1 parsecs (pc) from the star, which equates to 3.59 light-years — very, very far away. In fact, Voyager 1 is currently 1.3 pc (4.24 light-years) from the star, so this encounter won't be much closer than the craft's current location is. (Earth's sun is 1.29 pc, or 4.24 light-years, away from Proxima Centauri.)

Voyager 2 and Pioneer 11's next close encounters will also be with Proxima Centauri, while Pioneer 10's next flyby will be with the star Ross 248, a small star 10.3 light-years from Earth in the constellation Andromeda.

Original Submission