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posted by janrinok on Thursday August 22, @12:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the can-you-here-me-now? dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow3196

We have spotted 8 more mysterious repeating radio bursts from space

Weird blasts from space called fast radio bursts are some of the most mysterious phenomena in the universe, and now astronomers have spotted eight new and particularly unusual ones, including one that may be the closest we've ever seen.

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are flashes of radio waves that come from distant space and last just a few milliseconds. Many hypotheses have been put forward about what may be causing them, but none of them is a perfect fit.

What makes that even more difficult is that there seem to be two types of FRBs: bursts that happen just once, and bursts that repeat many times from the same spot in space. Up until now, we had only detected two so-called repeaters, but the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) has found eight more.

Finding repeaters is important because they are much easier to study than bursts that only occur once. "Repeaters are nice because you can follow them up and observe the source for a long time and see if there are any changes, which can give us clues about what the emission mechanism could be," says CHIME team member Shriharsh Tendulkar at McGill University in Montreal.

That's why the first repeater, FRB 121102, was also the first FRB that we tracked back to its home galaxy. Most of the ideas we have to explain repeaters are based on FRB 121102, but these new ones seem to be different. Their radio waves do not show signs of being scrambled by a turbulent environment like the first repeater. Also, FRB 121102 sits in the same spot as another source of radio waves that glows constantly, whereas none of the newly discovered repeating signals do.

"This demonstrates that there is a vast diversity even in what the repeaters are," says Tendulkar. "Maybe some of them are older, some of them have stronger magnetic fields, they're in different environments." It has been suggested that repeaters and non-repeaters may have different origins, but maybe there are a multitude of ways to produce FRBs instead of just two.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday August 21, @10:56PM   Printer-friendly
from the ymmv dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow3196

I installed five flavours of Linux on my new laptop: One month on, here's what I've learned

It's been a month since I wrote about getting a new HP Pavilion 14 laptop and loading Linux on it. My experience with it so far has been extremely good – it has done exactly what I wanted, I haven't had any trouble with it, I have used it, traveled with it, updated all of the various Linux distributions I loaded on it, and even added another distribution to it.

First, I broke one of my own basic rules – never travel with only a new and untested laptop. I left for a three-week-plus vacation in the US the day after my previous posting. I used the laptop pretty much every day during the trip. and never had a problem of any kind. It was fast and reliable, suspend/resume on closing/opening the lid worked perfectly.  Battery life is extremely good – I've never actually managed to run the batteries completely out, but I can certainly say that they are good for 6-8 hours depending on your use.


I kept it up to date as I was traveling (to be honest, that also breaks one of my personal rules – don't risk updates on your only laptop while traveling). That means openSUSE Tumbleweed got hundreds of updates; Debian, Fedora and Manjaro got a fair number as well, and I updated Linux Mint from 19.2 Beta to the final 19.2 release, all without problems.

I also decided to install Ubuntu 19.04 on it one evening when I had a bit of extra time. That turned out to be just as easy as the other distributions I had already installed – download the ISO, dump it to a USB stick and then boot that and run the installer. As with the other distributions it didn't recognize the Realtek Wi-Fi card, but I was able to correct that the same way, and using the same downloads, as I had already done with Linux Mint and Debian. The one small problem that I ran into I already knew about, that Ubuntu and Linux Mint have a directory name conflict in the EFI boot directory. I avoided that by creating a tiny EFI partition specifically for the Ubuntu installation.

[...] While I was traveling I was asked by several friends who keep up with my blog if I regretted having wiped Windows 10 from this laptop unnecessarily (see the comments on my previous post for details). My answer was a very clear 'no', there was not a single situation where I needed or wanted to boot Windows, and I was happy to have the additional disk space.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday August 21, @09:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the uber-and-lyft-drivers dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow3196

What's driving more women to drink?

Not only is the gap shrinking between men and women who drink, but ISU researchers found variations in the amount and frequency women drink based on age, race, education, marital status and other factors. Susan Stewart, professor of sociology, says the research compared the experiences of women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s to see how life changes and events influence drinking.

Overall, 52 percent of women reported drinking around seven days in the last month and averaged just over two drinks a day. Stewart; Gloria Jones Johnson, University Professor of sociology; and Cassandra Dorius, assistant professor of human development and family studies, analyzed data from The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. The survey follows thousands of people starting as teens and into adulthood.

While women still drink less than men, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there is little evidence to explain their increase in consumption. Stress, social acceptance of alcohol and life changes are often cited as potential factors, but Stewart says this is largely anecdotal. By comparing alcohol consumption across social categories, the researchers want to provide a greater understanding of why women drink as well as dispel some myths.

"Some of our findings really break down stereotypes, such as alcohol use is highest among poor women and underrepresented women," Stewart said. "We found that not to be true. White women and women with more education and financial means have much higher rates of alcohol consumption."


Alcohol is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Approximately 88,000 people die every year from alcohol-related causes, which is more than opioid overdoses (60,000) and motor vehicle crashes (34,000). ISU researchers point to the physical, mental and emotional health issues associated with alcohol use as important reasons for this work.

"After decades of steady increases, women's life expectancy has leveled off in the last five years partly as a result of increased alcohol consumption," Dorius said. "As the main caretakers of children, aging parents and extended family members, women's alcohol use can have lasting effects on the family."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday August 21, @07:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the more-power-to,-well,-Power dept.

Submitted via IRC for FatPhil

It has been a long time coming, and it might have been better if this had been done a decade ago. But with a big injection of open source spirit from its acquisition of Red Hat, IBM is finally taking the next step and open sourcing the instruction set architecture of its Power family of processors.

Big Blue is also moving the OpenPower Foundation, which it formed with Google, Mellanox Technologies, Nvidia, and Tyan to help create an ecosystem around the Power architecture six years ago this month, under the administrative control of the Linux Foundation. [...]

In any event, if you have ever wanted to create your own Power processor and was lamenting how expensive it might be to license the technology from IBM, now is your chance.

IBM’s long journey to opening up the Power architecture began a long time ago, starting with the creation of the PowerPC Alliance between Apple, IBM, and Motorola back in 1991, just as Big Blue was starting to get serious about the Power architecture for RS/6000 Unix systems – Unix was all the rage then, and Sun Microsystems and Hewlett Packard were circling IBM’s proprietary mainframes and minicomputers like starving wolves, with a very lean and hungry Oracle snarling nearby. Behind the scenes, IBM was preparing to move its proprietary AS/400 enterprise systems to a common hardware platform with the RS/6000, a credible Windows Servers was years away (and would very briefly run on Power iron), and a young Linus Torvalds had just created the first Linux kernel (which would eventually be the key to keeping Power iron alive in HPC centers in particular and in some enterprise datacenters).

The history is long and complex, but suffice it to say that Motorola and IBM both had their challenges bringing server-class processors to market and the move to 64-bits was particularly difficult. Interestingly, it was IBM’s AS/400 processor team in Rochester, Minnesota which saved the day by creating a very good 64-bit PowerPC chip that also had a double-pumped vector processor embedded in it, and it is this processor, not the ones designed by the AIX people down in Austin, that is the very kernel of all Power chips and systems that have followed since. Eventually Sun Microsystems went up on the rocks with its UltraSparc-III systems, and Hewlett Packard and Intel created Itanium, which had its own litany of woes, and this left the door wide open for IBM to be a spoiler in the early 2000s. And it was just then, back in 2001, when IBM got its first dual-core chip and its first processor to clock above 1 GHz out the door – that would be the Power4 “GigaProcessor” – and IBM brought the hammer down in Unix, delivering twice the bang for the buck as Sun and HP did in Unix, eating market share like crazy.

At the same time all of this was going on, the Motorola 68000 series of chips, which were at the heart of Apple PCs as well as myriad kinds and untold millions of embedded controllers. Arm may rule in controllers today, but back then its was Motorola 68Ks, and the kind of unified processor architecture spanning from embedded devices to datacenter gear was first done – and actually realized – with the PowerPC architecture.

Of course, since then, the Unix market has been largely replaced by X86 systems running Linux and Windows Server, and Sparc from Sun and PA-RISC from HP, and Itanium from Intel are all dead. Motorola has ceded the embedded controller market to Arm, and IBM has been trying to breathe some life into Power, first through the in 2004 and the OpenPower Foundation in 2013. With each move, IBM has opened up its technology a little more and broadened its appeal. It is a question as to whether this will be enough, with an ascending AMD providing an alternative to Intel processors and the Arm collective fielding many good processors, all using Arm licenses and many adding their own special tweaks to the Arm designs while not violating the Arm architecture.

No one is saying that the OpenPower Foundation will have an easy time growing its ecosystem, despite the many architectural advantages that Power holds over other ISAs, but it now has an easier time than a more closed architecture has. It doesn’t hurt that the Power ISA is being given away royalty free, either.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday August 21, @06:17PM   Printer-friendly
from the stay-safe dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow2718

The attackers who previously breached and abused the website of free multimedia editor VSDC to distribute the Win32.Bolik.2 banking Trojan have now switched their tactics.

While previously they hacked legitimate websites to hijack download links infected with malware, the hackers are now creating website clones to deliver banking Trojans onto unsuspecting victims' computers. This allows them to focus on adding capabilities to their malicious tools instead of wasting time by trying to infiltrate the servers and websites of legitimate businesses.

More to the point, they are actively distributing the bank Win32.Bolik.2 banking Trojan via the nord-vpn[.]club website, an almost perfect clone of the official site used by the popular NordVPN VPN service. The cloned website also has a valid SSL certificate issued by open certificate authority Let’s Encrypt on August 3, with an expiration date of November 1.

"Win32.Bolik.2 trojan is an improved version of Win32.Bolik.1 and has qualities of a multicomponent polymorphic file virus," state the Doctor Web researchers who spotted the campaign.

"Using this malware, hackers can perform web injections, traffic intercepts, keylogging and steal information from different bank-client systems."

The operators behind this malicious campaign have launched their attacks on August 8, they are focusing on English-speaking targets and, according to the researchers, thousands have already visited the nord-vpn[.]club website in search of a download link for the NordVPN client.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday August 21, @04:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the not-a-damp-squib dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow3196

Researchers have developed a battery-free underwater communication system that uses near-zero power to transmit sensor data. The system could be used to monitor sea temperatures to study climate change and track marine life over long periods -- and even sample waters on distant planets.

To investigate the vastly unexplored oceans covering most our planet, researchers aim to build a submerged network of interconnected sensors that send data to the surface -- an underwater "internet of things." But how to supply constant power to scores of sensors designed to stay for long durations in the ocean's deep?

MIT researchers have an answer: a battery-free underwater communication system that uses near-zero power to transmit sensor data. The system could be used to monitor sea temperatures to study climate change and track marine life over long periods -- and even sample waters on distant planets. They are presenting the system at the SIGCOMM conference this week, in a paper that has won the conference's "best paper" award.

The system makes use of two key phenomena. One, called the "piezoelectric effect," occurs when vibrations in certain materials generate an electrical charge. The other is "backscatter," a communication technique commonly used for RFID tags, that transmits data by reflecting modulated wireless signals off a tag and back to a reader.

In the researchers' system, a transmitter sends acoustic waves through water toward a piezoelectric sensor that has stored data. When the wave hits the sensor, the material vibrates and stores the resulting electrical charge. Then the sensor uses the stored energy to reflect a wave back to a receiver -- or it doesn't reflect one at all. Alternating between reflection in that way corresponds to the bits in the transmitted data: For a reflected wave, the receiver decodes a 1; for no reflected wave, the receiver decodes a 0.

"Once you have a way to transmit 1s and 0s, you can send any information," says co-author Fadel Adib, an assistant professor in the MIT Media Lab and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and founding director of the Signal Kinetics Research Group. "Basically, we can communicate with underwater sensors based solely on the incoming sound signals whose energy we are harvesting."

The researchers demonstrated their Piezo-Acoustic Backscatter System in an MIT pool, using it to collect water temperature and pressure measurements. The system was able to transmit 3 kilobytes per second of accurate data from two sensors simultaneously at a distance of 10 meters between sensor and receiver.

[...] Next, the researchers aim to demonstrate that the system can work at farther distances and communicate with more sensors simultaneously. They're also hoping to test if the system can transmit sound and low-resolution images.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday August 21, @03:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the review-the-diffs dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow3196

iOS 12.4 Jailbreak Released After Apple Unpatches Older Bug

iOS security researcher Pwn20wnd released a public jailbreak for the latest stable iOS version after Apple reintroduced a vulnerability patched in iOS 12.3, previously exploited to jailbreak iOS 12.2.

Besides the newly available jailbreak for Apple latest iOS version, this should also be considered as a critical vulnerability reintroduced in Apple's mobile operating system that could open the doors to potential attackers targeting the company's huge iOS user base.

Security researcher Stefan Esser also warned iOS users in a tweet that once iOS 12.4 is exploitable by those who want to jailbreak it, anyone else could also do it, even via iOS apps released through Apple's App Store.

I hope people are aware that with a public jailbreak being available for the latest iOS 12.4 people must be very careful what Apps they download from the Apple AppStore. Any such app could have a copy of the jailbreak in it.

— Stefan Esser (@i0n1c) August 19, 2019

The vulnerability reintroduced by Apple is a use after free tracked as CVE-2019-8605 and discovered by Google Project Zero's Ned Williamson and patched by Apple with the iOS 12.3 release from May 13.

This security flaw made it possible for maliciously crafted apps to execute arbitrary code using system privileges on iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPod touch 6th generation.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday August 21, @01:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the you-were-warned dept.

Mission to Jupiter's Icy Moon Confirmed

An icy ocean world in our solar system that could tell us more about the potential for life on other worlds is coming into focus with confirmation of the Europa Clipper mission's next phase. The decision allows the mission to progress to completion of final design, followed by the construction and testing of the entire spacecraft and science payload.

[...] The mission will conduct an in-depth exploration of Jupiter's moon Europa and investigate whether the icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life, honing our insights into astrobiology. To develop this mission in the most cost-effective fashion, NASA is targeting to have the Europa Clipper spacecraft complete and ready for launch as early as 2023. The agency baseline commitment, however, supports a launch readiness date by 2025.

Also at Ars Technica, The Register, CNN, and CNET.

Related: Amino Acids Could Exist Just Centimeters Under Europa's Surface
Impact of the Midterm Elections May be Felt at NASA
White House Budget Request Would Move Launches from SLS to Commercial Providers

Original Submission   Alternate Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday August 21, @11:19AM   Printer-friendly
from the anarchy-and-chaos dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow3196

A cyberattack could wreak destruction comparable to a nuclear weapon

People around the world may be worried about nuclear tensions rising, but I think they're missing the fact that a major cyberattack could be just as damaging—and hackers are already laying the groundwork.

With the U.S. and Russia pulling out of a key nuclear weapons pact—and beginning to develop new nuclear weapons—plus Iran tensions and North Korea again test-launching missiles, the global threat to civilization is high. Some fear a new nuclear arms race.

That threat is serious—but another could be as serious, and is less visible to the public. So far, most of the well-known hacking incidents, even those with foreign government backing, have done little more than steal data. Unfortunately, there are signs that hackers have placed malicious software inside U.S. power and water systems, where it's lying in wait, ready to be triggered. The U.S. military has also reportedly penetrated the computers that control Russian electrical systems.

As someone who studies cybersecurity and information warfare, I'm concerned that a cyberattack with widespread impact, an intrusion in one area that spreads to others or a combination of lots of smaller attacks, could cause significant damage, including mass injury and death rivaling the death toll of a nuclear weapon.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday August 21, @09:47AM   Printer-friendly
from the met-his-endian dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

RIP Danny Cohen: The computer scientist who gave world endianness meets his end aged 81

The computer scientist who created the first visual flight simulator, gave us the compsci concept of endianness and whose pioneering work blazed a trail for modern VOIP services has died at the age of 81.

Dr Danny Cohen worked on one of the first ever computer-based flight simulations in the early 1970s, an era where most think of computing as something that was still reliant on punch cards instead of advanced graphics processing and display technologies.

In addition, Cohen gave us the compsci notion of endianness and developed some of the first clustered computing deployments – paving the way for modern cloud technology.

The flight simulator created by the Israeli-born mathematician is very basic by modern standards but wouldn't be bested by generally available software until the advent of home gaming consoles more than a decade later.

What made his flight sim achievements even more remarkable was that it wasn't until after he developed the simulator that Cohen learned to fly in real life, as he told Wired in a 2012 interview.

Cohen also carried out some early work on what he described as "digital voice teleconferencing" in 1978, as this Youtube video published from an account seemingly in Cohen's name sets out.

[...] The Internet Hall of Fame inducted him into their ranks in 2012, recognising him as a pioneer.

[...] Danny Cohen, computer scientist. 9 December 1937 – 12 August 2019.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday August 21, @08:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the creeping-around-the-back-door dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow2718

Webmin, the open source web-based interface for managing Linux and UNIX systems, contained a remote code execution vulnerability for more than a year and it's believed to be an intentional backdoor.

The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2019-15107, was disclosed at the recent DEFCON hacker conference, and Webmin developers were not notified of its existence before the details were made public.

The flaw is related to a feature designed for changing expired passwords and it allows a remote, unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary commands with root privileges.

The security hole impacts Webmin 1.882 through 1.921, but most versions are not vulnerable in their default configuration as the affected feature is not enabled by default. Version 1.890 is affected in the default configuration. The issue has been addressed with the release of Webmin 1.930 and Usermin version 1.780.

[...] A Shodan search shows over 215,000 internet-exposed Webmin instances, mostly located in the United States, France and Germany. However, there are roughly 15,000 results for searches of version 1.890, which is vulnerable in the default configuration.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday August 21, @06:43AM   Printer-friendly
from the from-butterfly-to-caterpillar dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow2718

A Nigerian national that was on Forbes' list of the most promising entrepreneurs in Africa stands accused of business email compromise fraud that stole $11 million from one victim alone.

Obinwanne Okeke is the founder of Invictus Group, involved in construction, agriculture, oil and gas, telecoms and real estate, according. In 2016, Forbes added him to its "Africa's 30 under 30" young business owners.

Fast forward three years later, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issues an arrest warrant in Okeke's name for alleged conspiracies to commit computer and wire fraud.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday August 21, @05:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the exoplanets-galore dept.

For the last decade, astronomers on Earth have thought of Beta Pictoris b as a lonely exoplanet orbiting within a huge, dusty disk around the star Beta Pictoris. The planet, a super-Jupiter about 13 times as massive as our Jupiter, has been the only known planet in the young planetary system approximately 63 light-years from Earth for the last 11 years. That was, until today. 

New research, published in the journal Nature Astronomy on Monday, reveals a second planet in the Beta Pictoris system, Beta Pictoris c. The discovery of the planet, another super-Jupiter with approximately nine times the mass of Jupiter, throws a cosmic spanner in our current understanding of the well-studied but largely mysterious Beta Pictoris system. The system is somewhat famous in astronomy circles because of it's just 23 million years old and surrounded by a disk of rock and ice, allowing researchers a way to study how planetary systems form and how they shape these disks.

Beta Pictoris c was discovered by the same team responsible for discovering Beta Pictoris b over a decade ago, led by French astronomer Anne-Marie Lagrange who has been studying the system for more than 30 years. This time, the hunt was a little more indirect.

[...] A specialized instrument installed at Chile's La Silla Observatory, the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), provided 15 years of data to help pinpoint the new planet. The team says Beta Pictoris c lies approximately 2.7 AU from its star. For comparison, that puts it in about the same position as the solar system's asteroid belt.

If the signal they have detected is another planet it would mark the first time a multi-planet system has been found using direct imaging and indirect detection methods. Lagrange says the discovery shows planetary systems may be incredibly massive, with this one now featuring approximately 20 times the mass of Jupiter in just two worlds. And if there are other smaller planets in the system, the massive Beta Pictoris c is likely influencing their orbits, too.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday August 21, @03:39AM   Printer-friendly
from the If-you-miss-it,-you-will-be-a-Neo-not-see dept.

Warner Brothers has just announced plans to make a fourth installment in the iconic world of The Matrix.

Lana Wachowski—the co-creator of the record-breaking and genre-defining world of "The Matrix"—is set to write, direct and produce an all-new film, returning audiences to the reality-bending universe. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss will star in the film, reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity, respectively. Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures will produce and globally distribute the film. The announcement was made today by Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

There are almost no details yet on the film which will follow nearly twenty years after the first three films "The Matrix", "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions" beyond the fact that filming is set to begin in early 2020.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday August 21, @02:02AM   Printer-friendly

Tesla pitches a solar rental program to boost its renewable energy business

Tesla is pitching customers on a new rental offering for solar power as a way to revive the flagging fortunes of its renewable energy business.

Once among the largest installers of renewables in the country through SolarCity, Tesla has seen its share of the market decline significantly since its acquisition of SolarCity three years ago. In the second quarter Tesla deployed only 29 megawatts of new solar installations, while the number one and two providers of consumer solar, SunRun and Vivint Solar installed 103 megawatts and 56 megawatts respectively.

[...] Unlike SunRun and Vivint, which both used partnerships with homebuilders and retailers like Home Depot, BJ's Wholesale, Costco and Sam's Club to acquire customers, Tesla ended door-to-door marketing and abandoned its partnership with Home Depot. The company began relying almost entirely on direct sales to power its solar business and eschewed the no-money-down lease model, which SolarCity had used so effectively.

Under the new system, Telsa is offering customers the option to rent solar systems for anywhere from $65 for a small installation to $195 for its largest installation. Customers only need to pay a fully refundable $100 charge.

Walmart sues Tesla over solar panel fires at seven stores

Walmart is suing Elon Musk's electric vehicle and clean energy company after Tesla solar panels atop seven of the retailer's stores allegedly caught fire, according a court filing.

The Walmart suit alleges breach of contract, gross negligence and failure to live up to industry standards. Walmart is asking Tesla to remove solar panels from more than 240 Walmart locations where they have been installed, and to pay damages related to all the fires Walmart says that Tesla caused.

The Walmart suit, filed in the state of New York, alleges that: "As of November 2018, no fewer than seven Walmart stores had experienced fires due to Tesla's solar systems - including the four fires described above and three others that had occurred earlier." The filing details evacuations, damaged property and inventory.

Also at Reuters.

Original Submission