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posted by n1 on Monday July 24, @07:37AM   Printer-friendly
from the robot-wars dept.

After nearly two decades of war against technologically unsophisticated foes, the Army Research Lab is reorienting to counter China and Russia.

The Army Research Lab is turning more of its attention to fighting land wars against far more technologically sophisticated adversaries than it has in the past several decades. In the coming months, the Lab will fund new programs related to highly (but not fully) autonomous drones and robots that can withstand adversary electronic warfare operations. The Lab will also fund new efforts to develop battlefield communications and sensing networks that perform well against foes with advanced electronic warfare capabilities, according to Philip Perconti, who became the director of the Lab in June.

After nearly two decades of war against determined but technologically unsophisticated foes in the Middle East, U.S. Army tech has, in some ways, fallen behind that of competing states, according to a May report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies on U.S. Army modernization.

For instance, Russia has invested heavily in anti-access / area denial technologies meant to keep U.S. forces out of certain areas. "There are regions in Donbass where no electromagnetic communications—including radio, cell phone, and television—work," says the CSIS report. "Electronic warfare is the single largest killer of Ukrainian systems by jamming either the controller or GPS signals."

Source: DefenseOne.com


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Monday July 24, @05:40AM   Printer-friendly
from the who-watches-the-watchers dept.

Last August, after being alerted by GitHub's security team that the certificate authority WoSign had errantly issued a certificate for a GitHub domain to someone other than GitHub, Google began an investigation in collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation and a group of security professionals into the company's certificate issuance practices. The investigation uncovered a pattern of bad practices at WoSign and its subsidiary StartCom dating back to the spring of 2015. As a result, Google moved last October to begin distrusting new certificates issued by the two companies, stating "Google has determined that two CAs, WoSign and StartCom, have not maintained the high standards expected of CAs and will no longer be trusted by Google Chrome."

WoSign (based in Shenzen, China) and StartCom (based in Eliat, Israel) are among the few low-cost certificate providers who've offered wildcard certificates. StartCom's StartSSL offers free Class 1 certificates, and $60-per-year wildcard certificates—allowing the use of a single certificate on multiple subdomains with a single confirmation. This made the service wildly popular. But bugs in WoSign's software allowed a number of misregistrations of certificates. One bug allowed someone with control of a subdomain to claim control of the whole root domain for certificates. The investigation also found that WoSign was backdating the SSL certificates it issued to get around the deadline set for certificate authorities to stop issuing SHA-1 SSL certificates by January 1, 2016. WoSign continued to issue the less secure SHA-1 SSL certificates well into 2016.

Source: Google drops the boom on WoSign, StartCom certs for good

Previously:
Heads Roll as Qihoo 360 Moves to End Wosign, Startcom Certificate Row
Game Over for WoSign and StartCom Certificate Authorities?


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday July 24, @03:39AM   Printer-friendly
from the not-no-but-... dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Ligatures in programming fonts — a misguided trend I was hoping would collapse under its own illogic. But several readers have already sent me this new argument in favor.

Let me save you some time:

Ligatures in programming fonts are a terrible idea.

And not because I’m a purist or a grump. (Some days, but not today.) Programming code has special semantic considerations. Ligatures in programming fonts are likely to either misrepresent the meaning of the code, or cause miscues among readers. So in the end, even if they’re cute, the risk of error isn’t worth it.

There are good reasons we have Unicode and this is NOT one of them.

Source: http://tinyletter.com/mbutterick/letters/q-ligatures-in-programming-fonts-a-hell-no


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday July 24, @01:46AM   Printer-friendly
from the just-carry-a-lightbulb dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

The most common moth in the west is called the miller, and it is the adult of the army cutworm. Researchers are just now starting to understand the intricate relationship between this supposed-pest and bears, but that relationship is very important.

Each summer, moths of the army cutworm fly into tall mountain rocky slides, where they burrow away from the intense mountain sunlight into dark crevices. Hundreds of thousands of them. These moths come from farmland many miles away to these high, remote mountain slopes in Yellowstone.

At these places of slide rock and sunshine, both grizzly and black bears gather each year, climbing high above timberline to feed on the moths. The bears will dig through the slide rock and eat the moths that they uncover. It is estimated that some 40,000 moths per day can end up in the stomach of a hungry bear.

It's amazing how many calories you can get out of a single Mothra.

Source: https://www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/bears-eat-moths-in-august


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday July 23, @11:56PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-know-what-you-make dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

This week the British papers revelled in news about how much the BBC's on-air stars get paid, though the salaries of their counterparts in commercial TV remain under wraps. In Norway, there are no such secrets. Anyone can find out how much anyone else is paid - and it rarely causes problems.

In the past, your salary was published in a book. A list of everyone's income, assets and the tax they had paid, could be found on a shelf in the public library. These days, the information is online, just a few keystrokes away. The change happened in 2001, and it had an instant impact.

"It became pure entertainment for many," says Tom Staavi, a former economics editor at the national daily, VG.

"At one stage you would automatically be told what your Facebook friends had earned, simply by logging on to Facebook. It was getting ridiculous."

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-40669239


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday July 23, @10:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the a-sound-conclusion dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Slower boat speeds reduce risks to manatees. Or do they? Not exactly, according to research conducted at Florida Atlantic University. In fact, the very laws enacted to slow down boats in manatee habitats may actually be doing more harm than good. However, an innovative alerting device is proving to deliver a better solution.

About 100 manatees are killed each year by boats, making it the leading cause of death for this species. Not only are they hit frequently, they are hit repeatedly and have the scars to prove it. It is often thought that's because these gentle giants move too slowly to get out of harm's way or perhaps they are not smart enough to know better.

Not true according to Edmund Gerstein, Ph.D., director of marine mammal research in FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and his wife Laura, who have spent the last 20 years researching manatees to get to the root of this problem and to dispel these myths. What they have discovered is that manatees have difficulty hearing and locating low frequency sounds like the humming of an idling engine or a slow moving boat. Shallow and murky waters further exacerbate this problem and make boats both acoustically and visually invisible to unwary manatees.

"The idea of slowing down boats to protect manatees might make us feel better, but it has direct acoustic consequences in shallow water that place manatees at greater risk of collisions," said Edmund Gerstein. "While a slow speed zone may reduce the chance of death during a collision, they have not mitigated the number of collisions that kill and may have actually increased the number of non-fatal injuries."

Slowing down boats makes it more difficult for manatees to detect and locate approaching boats, while increasing the transect times or how long it takes for boats to actually pass through manatee habitats. When manatees are unable to reliably detect approaching boats, increasing time of exposure increases the risk of collisions.

"The increase in multiple propeller and boat scar patterns we are seeing on surviving animals is consistent with the implementation of slow speed zones in their habitats," said Edmund Gerstein. "Today, we have living manatees that have been hit dozens of times some with as much as 50 different scar patterns from boat encounters."

-- submitted from IRC


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday July 23, @08:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the save-the-nap dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Is the typical Spanish daily schedule about to change forever? For decades, campaigners in the country have complained that the average Spaniard's habit of keeping extremely late hours and taking delightfully long lunch breaks was making everyday life harder for citizens. This week, change could finally be on the way, as 110 professional bodies in Catalonia have signed up to a plan to change the region's daily timetable by 2025, shortening the classic three-hour lunch break so that employees can finish work earlier in the evening.

Such a change would radically reshape ordinary people's lives—and controversially, it could drive a wedge between Catalonia and the rest of Spain, where the national government supports similar changes (and has adopted a shorter break for public offices) but hasn't yet fixed a timetable for action.

You could call the plan an end to national harmony, a blessed release for hard-pressed workers, or an attack on the Spanish way of life. Whatever you do, however, don't call it the end of the siesta.

-- submitted from IRC


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday July 23, @06:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the what-about-swearing? dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Every time we open our mouths, we unwittingly reveal our personalities.

If you overheard a conversation on a bus, do you think you could tell from the words that were used and the topics discussed, the personality of the people who were chatting? What about if I showed you a short story? Could you glean something about the character of the author from their language?

We're often reminded "choose your words carefully" – well it turns out the words themselves may reveal far more than what we're actually trying to say. There's mounting evidence that our personality is written, quite literally, in the language that we use, from the tweets we send to our choice of email address.

Not all findings are particularly surprising. Those who score highly on extroversion really are a lot louder and chattier than their more introverted peers. They also tend to speak more quickly. Female extroverts, but not males, are more likely to have group chats, while introvert men (but not women) spend more time talking to themselves.

But introverts and extroverts also use language very differently. A few years ago, a group of researchers led by Camiel Beukeboom at VU University, Amsterdam, asked a group of 40 volunteers to look at photos of different social situations and describe out loud what was going on. They found that extroverts' language tended to be more abstract and "loose", while introverts spoke in more concrete terms. In other words, introverts tend to be a lot more specific.

Extroverts say: "This article is excellent"

Introverts say: "This article is very informative"

In line with this, other research has found that introverts tend to use more articles (the/a) – which, by definition, refer to individual objects or events. They also tend to be more cautious in their language: that is, they use more hedging (perhaps, maybe), and more quantifiable terms, such as referring to specific numbers.

Extroverts say: "Let's get some food"

Introverts say: "Perhaps we could go for a sandwich"

All of this makes psychological sense. Most extroverts enjoy the fast life, being more likely to drink, sleep around and take risks than introverts; every time they open their mouths, too, extroverts are prepared to take greater risks with the accuracy, spontaneity and reach of what they say.

-- submitted from IRC


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday July 23, @04:26PM   Printer-friendly
from the don't-stop-learning dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

One in three cases of dementia could be prevented if more people looked after their brain health throughout life, according to an international study in the Lancet.

It lists nine key risk factors including lack of education, hearing loss, smoking and physical inactivity.

The study is being presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in London.

By 2050, 131 million people could be living with dementia globally.

There are estimated to be 47 million people with the condition at the moment.

These risk factors - which are described as potentially modifiable - add up to 35%. The other 65% of dementia risk is thought to be potentially non-modifiable.

Source: Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care

-- submitted from IRC


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday July 23, @02:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the voice-of-reason? dept.

A President Trump thought bubble about the U.S. and Russia collaborating on cybersecurity matters has been dismissed by National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers:

National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers on Saturday rebuffed the prospect for a U.S.-Russia cyber unit, a proposal which has been greeted with incredulity by several senior U.S. lawmakers and which President Donald Trump himself appeared to back down from after initially indicating interest.

U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election by hacking Democrats' emails and distributing online propaganda to help Trump win the election over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

[...] Asked whether it was a good idea to set up a cyber security cell with the Russians, Rogers told the annual Aspen Security Forum: "I'm not a policy guy here. .... I would argue now is probably not the best time to be doing this."

But there's more:

In unusually passionate and stark terms, the head of the nation's top spy agency made clear on Saturday in Colorado that he will stand up to anyone -- even the president of the United States -- who asks him to use the U.S. intelligence community as a political prop. "We are not about particular viewpoints. We are not about particular parties. We just can't work that way," National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers said at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado.

[...] Although Rogers has refused to publicly discuss his private conversations with Trump, he has previously vowed to keep politics out of his agency's work. But his remarks today at the annual gathering of senior officials, reporters and others tied to the U.S. intelligence community were noteworthy in their intensity and passion. Punctuating each word -- one by one -- the U.S. Navy admiral said, "I will not violate the oath that I have taken in the 36 years as a commission officer." Rogers' face hardened and his voice cracked as he added: "I won't do that."


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday July 23, @12:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the trial-by-fire dept.

Lyft will begin offering "autonomous" rides (with a test driver in the front seat) to some ride-hailing customers by the end of the year. The program is expected to launch in Boston first:

Silicon Valley's steady march toward self-driving cars took another step forward Friday as the ride-hailing company Lyft said its customers will be able to summon a driverless vehicle on some roads by the end of the year.

The autonomy program, which is expected to launch in Boston before eventually spreading to other cities, could ultimately involve hundreds of thousands of vehicles, said company officials. Depending on the precise conditions of a trip — including the route, traffic, weather and time of day — riders who opt into the trial may be automatically picked up in a self-driving car built by one of a number of manufacturers working with Lyft, rather than a human driver. "You're going to see it. You're going to see these vehicles on the street," said Taggart Matthiesen, Lyft's senior director of product.

As with other companies that have been publicly testing self-driving cars, Lyft riders who participate in the program will be accompanied by test drivers sitting in the front seats of the vehicles.

Lyft announcement. Also at TechCrunch, Reuters, and Bloomberg.

[Ed. addition: I can personally vouch for all 14 of the suggestions given in Boston Driving Tips. If you are intending to drive in Boston, don't trust your past experience — this short article should be mandatory reading.]


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday July 23, @10:53AM   Printer-friendly

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-22/japan-pictures-likely-show-melted-fukushima-fuel-for-first-time

New images show what is likely to be melted nuclear fuel hanging from inside one of Japan's wrecked Fukushima reactors, a potential milestone in the cleanup of one of the worst atomic disasters in history.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., Japan's biggest utility, released images on Friday showing a hardened black, grey and orange substance that dripped from the bottom of the No. 3 reactor pressure vessel at Fukushima, which is likely to contain melted fuel, according to Takahiro Kimoto, an official at the company. The company sent a Toshiba-designed robot, which can swim and resembles a submarine, to explore the inside of the reactor for the first time on July 19.

"Never before have we taken such clear pictures of what could be melted fuel," Kimoto said at a press briefing that began at 9 p.m. Friday in Tokyo, noting that it would take time to analyze and confirm whether it is actually fuel. "We believe that the fuel melted and mixed with the metal directly underneath it. And it is highly likely that we have filmed that on Friday."


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday July 23, @09:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the smack-him-with-your-gloves dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

The evidence for repealing net neutrality rules isn't good enough, Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.) told Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai yesterday [Wednesday, July 19].

Pai claims that the rules issued in 2015 are reducing investment in broadband networks, but Markey pointed out during a Senate hearing that ISPs have not reported any dramatic problems to their investors.

Markey said:

Publicly traded companies are required by law to provide investors accurate financial information, including reporting any risks or financial burdens. However, I have found no publicly traded ISP that has reported to its investors by law that Title II has negatively impacted investment in their networks. Many, in fact, have increased deployment and investment.

(Title II of the Communications Act authorizes the FCC to regulate common carriers and was used by the FCC to impose net neutrality rules.)

Markey's point is one that we've made before. ISPs are quick to tell the FCC and the public that Title II is harming network investment, but they have presented a much rosier view when talking to investors. Publicly traded companies are required to give investors accurate financial information, including a description of risk factors involved in investing in the company.

Yesterday, Pai appeared in front of the Senate Commerce Committee, which is considering President Trump's nomination of Pai for another five-year term on the FCC. The Senate is also considering the nominations of Republican Brendan Carr and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel.

Markey asked Pai what problem he is trying to fix by repealing net neutrality rules. Pai responded, "One of the concerns we have raised is these regulations might be dampening infrastructure investment."

"They might be, but there's no evidence of it," Markey fired back.

-- submitted from IRC


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday July 23, @07:10AM   Printer-friendly
from the running-more-miles-to-burn-off-calories dept.

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/06/new-robotic-exosuit-could-push-the-limits-of-human-performance/

What if you could improve your average running pace from 9:14 minutes/mile to 8:49 minutes/mile without weeks of training?

Researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University have demonstrated that a tethered soft exosuit can reduce the metabolic cost of running on a treadmill by 5.4 percent, bringing those dreams of high performance closer to reality.

"Homo sapiens has evolved to become very good at distance running, but our results show that further improvements to this already extremely efficient system are possible," says corresponding author Philippe Malcolm, former postdoctoral research fellow at the Wyss Institute and SEAS, and now assistant professor at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, where he continues to collaborate on this work. The study [DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aan6708] [DX] appears today in Science Robotics.

[...] "Our goal is to develop a portable system with a high power-to-weight ratio so that the benefit of using the suit greatly offsets the cost of wearing it. We believe this technology could augment the performance of recreational athletes and/or help with recovery after injury," adds Lee.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday July 23, @05:19AM   Printer-friendly
from the Beep!-Beep!-Like-a-Sheep! dept.

The mundane explanation for an apparent signal detection in the vicinity of Ross 128 is backed by an analysis of the Arecibo Observatory's data:

A strange radio signal that seemed to emanate from a small nearby star probably came from Earth-orbiting satellites, astronomers say. Late last week, researchers announced that, on May 12, the 1,000-foot-wide (305 meters) Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico detected a bizarre radio signal in the vicinity of Ross 128, a red dwarf star that lies just 11 light-years from Earth.

[...] "The best explanation is that the signals are transmissions from one or more geostationary satellites," Abel Mendez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico, wrote in a statement today (July 21). (Geostationary satellites circle Earth at an altitude of about 22,300 miles, or 35,800 kilometers.)

"This explains why the signals were within the satellite's frequencies and only appeared and persisted in Ross 128; the star is close to the celestial equator, where many geostationary satellites are placed," Mendez added. "This fact, though, does not yet explain the strong dispersion-like features of the signals (diagonal lines in the figure); however, it is possible that multiple reflections caused these distortions, but we will need more time to explore this and other possibilities."

There is no news signal in this submission.

Also at CNET and The Verge.

Previously: Strange Signals From the Nearby Red Dwarf Star Ross 128


Original Submission