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Comments:54 | Votes:158

posted by martyb on Tuesday December 12, @09:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the To-the-Moon,-Alice!-To-the-Moon! dept.

No more sending humans to an asteroid. We're going back to the Moon:

The policy calls for the NASA administrator to "lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities." The effort will more effectively organize government, private industry, and international efforts toward returning humans on the Moon, and will lay the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of Mars.

"The directive I am signing today will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery," said President Trump. "It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints -- we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond."

The policy grew from a unanimous recommendation by the new National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, after its first meeting Oct. 5. In addition to the direction to plan for human return to the Moon, the policy also ends NASA's existing effort to send humans to an asteroid. The president revived the National Space Council in July to advise and help implement his space policy with exploration as a national priority.

President's remarks and White House release.

Presidential Memorandum on Reinvigorating America's Human Space Exploration Program

Also at Reuters and New Scientist.

Previously: Should We Skip Mars for Now and Go to the Moon Again?
How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently
NASA Eyeing Mini Space Station in Lunar Orbit as Stepping Stone to Mars
NASA and Roscosmos Sign Joint Statement on the Development of a Lunar Space Station
Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 12, @08:01PM   Printer-friendly
from the driving-your-education-forward dept.

Lyft will offer its drivers access to tuition discounts and financial aid, starting with online courses offered by Guild Education:

Lyft is unveiling a new education program for drivers, offering access to discounted GED and college courses online. The move is an interesting experiment in the gig economy, where a growing class of workers receive zero benefits from a boss and yet competition for their time is fierce.

[...] Lyft drivers will receive tuition discounts ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent and, according to the company, the average driver working with Guild to earn a degree can save up to $4,220 per year. Drivers can take English as a second language and GED courses, as well as earn an associates, bachelor's or master's degree online in subjects including IT, nursing, social work, occupational therapy and business.

Lyft would not disclose how much the program will cost the company. According to a Lyft survey of drivers to be published next month, 47 percent do not have a college degree. Gabe Cohen, general manager for Lyft in Denver, says internal surveys show that drivers want to earn degrees. This move serves that goal, as well as the startup's business interests. "It is important that drivers feel loyalty to Lyft," Cohen says.

[...] David Weil, dean at Brandeis University's Heller School of Social Policy and Management, is not impressed. Weil, who was in charge of investigating companies that misclassify workers under the Obama administration, describes the move by Lyft as strategic, but not generous. Lyft and Uber are fighting in courts against claims that drivers are employees entitled to benefits like paid sick leave and health care. "The ride-hailing companies can't erase the fact that their business models are having drivers do all sorts of things an employee would do," Weil says. To offer training is "really nice" but it doesn't mean Lyft should "be rewarded by having the other responsibilities removed," he says.

From Lyft's blog post:

Dallas driver Muhammed Chan learned by speaking with passengers from all walks of life that "there is serious demand for cyber security experts in my city." As part of our pilot program earlier this year, Muhammed received support to access financial aid and scholarships through Guild, and began a cybersecurity program earlier this month.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 12, @06:27PM   Printer-friendly
from the SLAM-is-a-bad-name-for-a-self-driving-project dept.

Apple Executive Reveals More of Its Self-Driving Technology

Apple received a permit from the California DMV to test self-driving vehicles in April, and CEO Tim Cook confirmed his interest in such technology in June.

The scale and scope of any car project at Apple remains unclear. [Ruslan] Salakhutdinov didn't say how the projects he discussed Friday fit into any wider effort in automated driving, and a company spokesman declined to elaborate.

Salakhutdinov showed data from one project previously disclosed in a research paper posted online last month. It trained software to identify pedestrians and cyclists using 3-D scanners called lidars used on most autonomous vehicles.

Other projects Salakhutdinov discussed don't appear to have been previously disclosed. One created software that identifies cars, pedestrians, and the driveable parts of the road in images from a camera or multiple cameras mounted on a vehicle.

Salakhutdinov showed images demonstrating how the system performed well even when raindrops spattered the lens, and could infer the position of pedestrians on the sidewalk when they were partially screened by parked cars. He cited that last result as an example of recent improvements in machine learning for some tasks. "If you asked me five years ago, I would be very skeptical of saying 'Yes you could do that,'" he said.

Another project Salakhutdinov discussed involved giving software moving through the world a kind of sense of direction, a technique called SLAM, for simultaneous localization and mapping. SLAM is used on robots and autonomous vehicles, and also has applications in map building and augmented reality. A fourth project used data collected by sensor-laden cars to generate rich 3-D maps with features like traffic lights and road markings. Most prototype autonomous vehicles need detailed digital maps in order to operate. Salakhutdinov also mentioned work on making decisions in dynamic situations, a topic illustrated on his slides with a diagram of a car plotting a path around a pedestrian.

Also at The Verge.

Previously: Apple's Tim Cook Confirms Self-Driving Car Plans

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 12, @04:54PM   Printer-friendly
from the their-genes-should-have-worked-out-more dept.

Tasmanian tigers were suffering from poor genetic diversity prior to being hunted to extinction by humans:

Australian scientists sequenced the genome of the native marsupial, also known as the thylacine. It showed the species, alive until 1936, would have struggled to survive even without human contact. The research also provides further insights into the marsupial's unique appearance.

"Even if we hadn't hunted it to extinction, our analysis showed that the thylacine was in very poor [genetic] health," said lead researcher Dr Andrew Pask, from the University of Melbourne. "The population today would be very susceptible to diseases, and would not be very healthy."

He said problems with genetic diversity could be traced back as far as 70,000 years ago, when the population is thought to have suffered due to a climatic event.

The researchers sequenced the genome from a 106-year-old specimen held by Museums Victoria. They said their study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, is one of the most complete genetic blueprints of an extinct species.

Genome of the Tasmanian tiger provides insights into the evolution and demography of an extinct marsupial carnivore (open, DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0417-y) (DX)

Related: Huge Population and Lack of Genetic Diversity Killed Off the Passenger Pigeon

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday December 12, @03:50PM   Printer-friendly
from the too-big-to-fail dept.

Explosion in Baumgarten (Austria) gas transit plant, russian gas delivery halted for Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia. Italy declares energy crisis. Gas price in Europe jumps ~20%. Crude oil futures rise too.

* (far away video)

UPDATE from:

Police have cordoned off the area. Some victims suffering burns have been airlifted out by helicopter, Austrian ORF news reports.

One unconfirmed report spoke of 60 hurt.

"I heard a huge explosion and thought at first it was a plane crash," photographer Thomas Hulik, who lives in a nearby village in Slovakia, told AFP news agency. "Then I saw an immense ball of flame."

Gas Connect said the incident should have no effect on gas deliveries to Austria but those to Italy and Croatia might be reduced.

Meanwhile, Russia's Gazprom Export said it was working to redirect gas flows.

It said it was "doing everything possible to secure uninterrupted gas supplies" to customers in the region.

Spot prices rose sharply across Europe after the incident.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 12, @03:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the both-Q-sharp-and-R-flat dept.

Microsoft's Q# quantum programming language out now in preview

Microsoft today launched a preview version of a new programming language for quantum computing called Q#. The industry giant also launched a quantum simulator that developers can use to test and debug their quantum algorithms.

The language and simulator were announced in September. The then-unnamed language was intended to bring traditional programming concepts—functions, variables, and branches, along with a syntax-highlighted development environment complete with quantum debugger—to quantum computing, a field that has hitherto built algorithms from wiring up logic gates. Microsoft's hope is that this selection of tools, along with the training material and documentation, will open up quantum computing to more than just physicists.

I'll hold out for QuBasic.

Previously: Microsoft is Developing a Quantum Computing Programming Language

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 12, @01:48PM   Printer-friendly
from the clever-marketing-ploy? dept.

The first DVD screener of the Oscar season has been released, and it's for a film that may not have seen the light of day otherwise:

Today the first leak of the new screener season started to populate various pirate sites, Louis C.K.'s "I Love You, Daddy." It was released by the infamous "Hive-CM8" group which also made headlines in previous years.

"I Love You, Daddy" was carefully chosen, according to a message posted in the release notes. Last month distributor The Orchard chose to cancel the film from its schedule after Louis C.K. was accused of sexual misconduct. With uncertainty surrounding the film's release, "Hive-CM8" decided to get it out.

"We decided to let this one title go out this month, since it never made it to the cinema, and nobody knows if it ever will go to retail at all," Hive-CM8 write in their NFO.

"Either way their is no perfect time to release it anyway, but we think it would be a waste to let a great Louis C.K. go unwatched and nobody can even see or buy it," they add.

Nominees for the 75th Golden Globe Awards were announced on December 11. Nominees for the 90th Academy Awards will be announced on January 23, 2018.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday December 12, @12:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the spread-the-word dept.

[Ed note: Some important context for this submission appears in this c|net article: Internet sites to protest Trump Admin's net neutrality plan

A group of activists and websites including Imgur, Mozilla, Pinterest, Reddit, GitHub, Etsy, BitTorrent and Pornhub are planning a campaign Tuesday to draw attention to an upcoming FCC vote that could radically reshape the way the internet works.

[...] Tuesday's campaign is the latest effort by activists to dissuade the FCC from repealing Obama-era rules that effectively classified internet service providers as utilities. The classification, known as Title II, forced companies like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast to treat all internet traffic equally. Last week, protesters marched outside Verizon stores around the US.

Earlier, a handful of tech trailblazers -- including Vint Cerf, a founding figure of the internet Steve Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple; and Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web -- posted an open letter on Tumblr criticizing the proposed repeal of net neutrality.

"The FCC's rushed and technically incorrect proposed order to abolish net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create," the letter said. "It should be stopped."

Imagine if all sites defaulted to, say, dial-up or ISDN speeds unless they paid extra for full-speed internet. The large, incumbent sites on the net could easily absorb such costs. Smaller, new, or niche sites (such as SoylentNews) could not afford to pay for faster access. If this is not what you want, then contact the FCC and/or your elected representatives and let your view be heard.]

takyon writes:

Ajit Pai jokes with Verizon exec about him being a "puppet" FCC chair

On Thursday night in Washington, DC, net neutrality advocates gathered outside the annual Federal Communications Commission Chairman's Dinner to protest Chairman Ajit Pai's impending rollback of net neutrality rules.

Inside the dinner (also known as the "telecom prom") at the Washington Hilton, Pai entertained the audience with jokes about him being a puppet installed by Verizon to lead the FCC.

Pai was a Verizon associate general counsel from 2001 to 2003, and next week he will lead an FCC vote to eliminate net neutrality rules—just as Verizon and other ISPs have asked him to.

At the dinner, Pai played a satirical video that showed him planning his ascension to the FCC chairmanship with a Verizon executive in 2003. The Verizon executive was apparently Kathleen Grillo, a senior VP and deputy general counsel in the company's public policy and government affairs division.

The speech was apparently not supposed to be public, but Gizmodo obtained footage of Pai's remarks and the skit. You can watch it here.

The vote is currently scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 14. The FCC and Federal Trade Commission announced that they will work together to punish ISPs that don't keep their promises (assuming they make any).

Previously: Washington DC Braces for Net Neutrality Protests Later This Month
FCC Plans December Vote to Kill Net Neutrality Rules
FCC Will Reveal Vote to Repeal Net Neutrality This Week
Comcast Hints at Plans for Paid Fast Lanes after Net Neutrality Repeal
More than a Million Pro-Repeal Net Neutrality Comments were Likely Faked

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 12, @10:42AM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-ok-it's-turned-off dept.

Hundreds of HP laptop models dating back to 2012 are affected by a potential vulnerability that could allow attackers to log keystrokes:

Hidden software that can record every letter typed on a computer keyboard has been discovered pre-installed on hundreds of HP laptop models. Security researcher Michael Myng found the keylogging code in software drivers preinstalled on HP laptops to make the keyboard work.

HP said more than 460 models of laptop were affected by the "potential security vulnerability". It has issued a software patch for its customers to remove the keylogger. The issue affects laptops in the EliteBook, ProBook, Pavilion and Envy ranges, among others. HP has issued a full list of affected devices, dating back to 2012. In a statement, the company said: "HP uses Synaptics' touchpads in some of its mobile PCs and has worked with Synaptics to provide fixes to their error for impacted HP systems, available via the security bulletin on"

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 12, @09:08AM   Printer-friendly
from the closing-the-barn-door dept.

A few months ago, a handful of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs protected by AACS 2.0 DRM were cracked. In October, Russian company Arusoft released a tool called DeUHD that was capable of decrypting dozens more titles. Now a list of 72 AACS 2.0 keys has been leaked, covering titles not previously broken (fixed) by DeUHD:

The keys in question are confirmed to work and allow people to rip UHD Blu-ray discs of movies with freely available software such as MakeMKV. They are also different from the DeUHD list, so there are more people who know how to get them.

The full list of leaked keys includes movies such as Deadpool, Hancock, Passengers, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and The Martian. Some movies have multiple keys, likely as a result of different disc releases.

The leaked keys are also relevant for another reason. Ten years ago, a hacker leaked the AACS cryptographic key "09 F9" online which prompted the MPAA and AACS LA to issue DMCA takedown requests to sites where it surfaced.

This escalated into a censorship debate when Digg started removing articles that referenced the leak, triggering a massive backlash.

Thus fas[sic] the response to the AACS 2.0 leaks has been pretty tame, but it's still early days. A user who posted the leaked keys on MyCe has already removed them due to possible copyright problems, so it's definitely still a touchy subject.

Ultra HD Blu-ray stores H.265 video on optical discs with capacities of 50, 66, or 100 GB. The original Blu-ray discs stored H.264 video on 25 and 50 GB discs.

Previously: Apparent Copy of an Ultra HD Blu-Ray Disc Appears Online [Updated]
More "Cracked" Ultra HD Blu-ray Releases Appear Online
Russian Company Claims to have Cracked 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray DRM

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 12, @07:34AM   Printer-friendly
from the tilting-at-windmills dept.

The new FBI Director Christopher Wray has been repeating the broken rhetoric of the Crypto Wars:

In recent testimony before Congress, the director of the FBI has again highlighted what the government sees as the problem of easy-to-use, on-by-default, strong encryption.

In prepared remarks from last Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that encryption presents a "significant challenge to conducting lawful court-ordered access," he said, again using the longstanding government moniker "Going Dark."

The statement was just one portion of his testimony about the agency's priorities for the coming year.

The FBI and its parent agency, the Department of Justice, have recently stepped up public rhetoric about the so-called dangers of "Going Dark." In recent months, both Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein have given numerous public statements about this issue.

Remember to use encryption irresponsibly, and stay salty, my FBI friends.

Previously: FBI Chief Calls for National Talk Over Encryption vs. Safety
Federal Court Rules That the FBI Does Not Have to Disclose Name of iPhone Hacking Vendor
PureVPN Logs Helped FBI Net Alleged Cyberstalker
FBI Failed to Access 7,000 Encrypted Mobile Devices
Great, Now There's "Responsible Encryption"
FBI Bemoans Phone Encryption After Texas Shooting, but Refuses Apple's Help
DOJ: Strong Encryption That We Don't Have Access to is "Unreasonable"

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Tuesday December 12, @06:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the gentle-zapping dept.

Submitted via IRC for Fnord666

In a study published recently in Angewandte Chemie [DOI: 10.1002/anie.201709271] [DX], researchers demonstrated that an imaging technique called scanning electrochemical microscopy could become a very useful medical tool. Rather than having to use additional chemicals like dyes or fluorescent markers to get a good look at tissue, this method uses electrochemical probes to detect natural biomolecules around the tissue.

In this study, the researchers used soft microelectrodes that were brushed gently across tissue samples. While it moved across them, it measured the electrical current produced by certain chemicals in the tissues to get an idea of the physical structure of that tissue as well as its composition.


Original Submission

posted by takyon on Tuesday December 12, @03:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the fuzzy-illogic dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow8317

Research presented this week at the Black Hat Europe 2017 security conference has revealed that several popular interpreted programming languages are affected by severe vulnerabilities that expose apps built on these languages to attacks.

The author of this research is IOActive Senior Security Consultant Fernando Arnaboldi. The expert says he used an automated software testing technique named fuzzing to identify vulnerabilities in the interpreters of five of today's most popular programming languages: JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby.

[...] The researcher released XDiFF as an open source project on GitHub. A more detailed presentation of the testing procedure and all the vulnerabilities is available in Arnaboldi's research paper named "Exposing Hidden Exploitable Behaviors in Programming Languages Using Differential Fuzzing."


Original Submission

posted by takyon on Tuesday December 12, @01:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the 535-101 dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow8317

All 535 members of Congress, and how much money they got from ISPs

In March, we published a story that showed contributions from the ISP industry to members of Congress who voted to repeal a landmark FCC privacy rule, opening the door to the sale of customer data. It was one of our most popular stories of the year, and many of you asked why we only published contributions to some members of Congress. Incidentally, every one of the 265 members who voted for the measure in March were Republicans. And many of those same members endorse the effort to end net neutrality.

But it's fair to want to see monetary influence across all of Congress. While it is clear that alignment with the ISPs is currently drawn along party lines, the industry's attempt to gain favor with lawmakers is not partisan. Entrenched telecommunications companies liberally spread money and attention to everyone who holds office. Sometimes that influence comes in the form of lavish parties with Olympic athletes and lobbyists, but consistently it comes in the form of contributions to campaigns.

It's impossible to quantify the overall influence of this powerful industry, but we can chart some of it.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) leads the Senate with $2,554,784. Following him are Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) ($1,692,749), Roy Blunt (R-MO) ($1,283,416), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ($1,119,163), Bill Nelson (D-FL) ($1,028,790), and Senate Minority Leader Charles E Schumer (D-NY) ($984,757).

In the House, Representative Greg Walden (R-OR02) received $1,605,986, followed by Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI06) ($1,590,125), Steny H Hoyer (D-MD05) ($1,429,710), Joe Barton (R-TX06) ($1,262,757), John M Shimkus (R-IL15) ($1,044,204), and James E Clyburn (D-SC06) ($1,030,550).

In the Senate, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) took the least from the telecom industry at just $40,219. In the House, Representative Warren Davidson (R-OH08) took just $15 (muffins? flowers? bus fare?) and the next guy up the list took $1,040.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Monday December 11, @11:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the series-of-scaffolds dept.

Bacteria breakthrough marks new era in cellular design and biofuel production

Scientists at the universities of Kent and Bristol have built a miniature scaffold inside bacteria that can be used to bolster cellular productivity, with implications for the next generation of biofuel production.

Because there is a growing need for agricultural or renewable production of biofuels and other commodity chemicals to move away from fossil fuels, scientists have long sought to enhance the internal organisation of bacteria and improve the efficiency of the cells for making nutrients, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

The research team, led by Professor Martin Warren at Kent's School of Biosciences, working with professors Dek Woolfson and Paul Verkade at Bristol, found they could make nano-tubes that generated a scaffold inside bacteria.

With as many as a thousand tubes fitting into each cell, the tubular scaffold can be used to increase the bacteria's efficiency to make commodities and provide the foundation for a new era of cellular protein engineering.

The researchers designed protein molecules and developed techniques to allow E. coli to make long tubes that contain a coupling device to which other specific components can be attached. A production line of enzymes could then be arranged along the tubes, generating efficient internal factories for the coordinated production of important chemicals.

Engineered synthetic scaffolds for organizing proteins within the bacterial cytoplasm (DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.2535) (DX)

Original Submission