2018-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2018-05-22 22:25:53 UTC
2018-05-23 01:23:37 UTC
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For the past several months, the FBI has been claiming that encryption has prevented the agency from accessing around 7,000 mobile devices connected to various crimes.
On Tuesday, the FBI told PCMag that a programming error resulted in a "significant overcounting" of the encrypted devices. "The FBI is currently conducting an in-depth review of how this over-counting previously occurred," the agency said in a statement.
The news was first reported by The Washington Post, which said the correct number is probably between 1,000 and 2,000 devices. One internal estimate from the FBI puts the figure at 1,200, but the agency plans to launch an audit to get the full number, The Post said, citing unnamed sources.
The mistake seriously undercuts one of the FBI's central arguments in the ongoing encryption debate. For years now, the agency has been pushing for what critics call a "backdoor" into smartphone products that'll let federal agents easily unlock mobile devices tied to crimes. Without such access, some investigations may grind to halt, the agency claims.
[...] How did the FBI make the mistake? According to the agency, starting in April 2016, it began using a new "collection methodology" with how it counted the encrypted devices. But only recently did the FBI become aware of flaws in the methodology, it said, without elaborating.
US officials have issued a health alert after a US government employee stationed in southern China reported "abnormal sensations of sound and pressure" that indicated a mild brain injury.
The official, assigned to the city of Guangzhou, reported a range of physical symptoms from late 2017 through to April 2018, and was sent back to the United States for assessment, the State Department said. The US Embassy in Beijing learned on May 18 that the clinical findings of the evaluation matched that of a "mild traumatic brain injury," an embassy spokeswoman told CNN.
The alert will raise comparisons with a series of unexplained incidents in Cuba that led to the withdrawal of most US personnel from the embassy in Havana. The cause of those incidents, reported in late 2016 and early 2017, still remains a mystery.
[...] The State Department said in its Wednesday statement that anyone who experienced "unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena" while in China should move away from the source of the noise.
Related: US Embassy Employees in Cuba Possibly Subjected to 'Acoustic Attack'
U.S. State Department Pulls Employees From Cuba, Issues Travel Warning Due to "Sonic Attacks"
A 'Sonic Attack' on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It
Cuban Embassy Victims Experiencing Neurological Symptoms
Computer Scientists May Have Solved the Mystery Behind the 'Sonic Attacks' in Cuban Embassy
Chinese telecom giant ZTE said its major operations had "ceased" following last month's US ban on American sales of critical technology to the company.
[...] The Shenzhen, China-based company has been spending an estimated 80 million to 100 million yuan in daily operational expenses, while most of its 75,000 employees sit idle, sources told the news outlet. ZTE had been working to get the denial order overturned and had pegged its hopes on broader bilateral trade talks between the US and China. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump sent a surprising tweet on ZTE that called for the Commerce Department to find "a way to get back into business, fast."
However, the House Appropriations Committee unanimously approved an amendment to a bill that would uphold sanctions against the company, delivering a sharp rebuke to Trump.
The popular slacker's cartoon, Rocko's Modern Life, will return for a special. From Wikipedia:
After being in space for around 20 years, Rocko and his friends attempt to conform to an even more modern life in O-Town, where coffee shops are on every corner, food trucks offer multi-layered tacos [and] touch-screen O-Phones are being upgraded on a near-constant basis
Rocko's Modern Life may also be returning as a series. A friend noted that it would make a very transition to an adult cartoon after its numerous inuendo. Who could forget the milking machine incident?
Very interesting article at the IEEE ACM by David Chisnall.
In the wake of the recent Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, it's worth spending some time looking at root causes. Both of these vulnerabilities involved processors speculatively executing instructions past some kind of access check and allowing the attacker to observe the results via a side channel. The features that led to these vulnerabilities, along with several others, were added to let C programmers continue to believe they were programming in a low-level language, when this hasn't been the case for decades.
The team at Disney Research never fails to deliver fascinating (if not always particularly useful) experiments. Take Stickman. The robot is essentially one long limb, capable of some cool acrobatic maneuvers.
The system, detailed in a new paper from DR titled "Towards a Human Scale Acrobatic Robotic," has two degrees of freedom and a pendulum it uses to launch itself in the air after swinging on a rope. The relatively simple robot tucks and folds, somersaulting in the air before landing on the padding below.
Those aerials are executed courtesy of a built-in laser range finder and six axis inertial measurement unit (a combination gyroscope/accelerometer), which calculate its position in-flight and adjust its positioning accordingly.
Not long after its March launch last year, it was revealed that a GPU exploit in the Nintendo Switch could be used to run unofficial software, like pirated games and homebrew ROMs. Since then, the Switch's hacking community has grown, and the discovery of a new 'unpatchable' exploit last month has only made the console more attractive to pirates and homebrew fans.
Nintendo isn't taking the assault on its walled garden lightly, however, and is taking steps to crack down and dissuade users from taking advantage of the security holes.
The Japanese company has begun banning hacked consoles from its online services, sending error notifications when users attempt to log in. According to the message, "The use of online services on this console is currently restricted by Nintendo," and users will need to "Contact Customer Support via the Nintendo Support Website".
Also at Nintendo Life.
Previously: Nintendo Switch Homebrew Mode Coming Soon Due to NVIDIA Tegra X1 Exploit
Hacking Group Fail0verflow Shows Linux Running on the Nintendo Switch
The "Unpatchable" Exploit That Makes Every Current Nintendo Switch Hackable [Updated]
Bird is a scooter-sharing company that launched in 2017 and has been dubbed the "Uber of scooters." Its goal is to alleviate congestion and allow people an easy way to travel quickly for short distances of just a few miles. Riders can locate and unlock scooters using the company's smartphone app, and after paying the $1 unlocking fee are charged 15 cents per minute during use.
Birds are available in a growing number of American cities including Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Scottsdale, Arizona; Washington D.C.; and Atlanta. The scooters are all battery-powered and dockless, so they can be picked up or dropped off anywhere. But when night falls, what most riders don't realize is that the scooters themselves are charged by a contract workforce. These people are known as "Bird hunters" or "chargers," and they're growing exponentially in number.
[...] Hoarding in particular has become a problem in these crowded markets. Bird and other companies will pay a $20 reward for missing scooters, so some chargers simply keep the scooters in their garage until they're reported missing by riders or the bounty goes up to $20, then claim the finder's fees. Bird theoretically polices this behavior, and Brandon says he's gotten a warning call from the company for hoarding, but the bad behavior has become commonplace and punishment is unevenly enforced.
Each scooter can also only be captured by one charger. In saturated markets, the race to quickly grab as many scooters as possible is fierce. "One time I pulled up to pick up a scooter, I got there maybe 10 seconds before the other guy did," said one charger in San Diego. "He started yelling at me. He picked up a Bird scooter and started beating my car. I got the hell out of there."
[...] As the charging community grows, some Bird hunters have sought to reduce their competition in nefarious ways. Several Facebook groups for chargers in different cities have cropped up. For one of them, in order to join, you're asked to share a screenshot of your settings screen containing your login name, telephone number, and email. Rogue Bird hunters attempt to use this information to shut down your account or charge under your name with updated billing information.
From the Perl NOC:
It's with sad hearts that we are announcing that search.cpan.org will be retired on the 25th of June 2018.
Graham Barr originally wrote the site nearly 20 years ago -- it first went live in early 1999 -- and it quickly became an invaluable resource for Perl developers around the world.
The ability to search CPAN (Comprehensive Perl Archive Network) and read Perl module documentation online helped spark many developers interest in Perl and helped to build the Perl community.
[...] In recent years maintenance has become a burden. Most of the site is running 2005 era Perl code. Luckily, there is now a viable alternative: MetaCPAN.org. The MetaCPAN team has been getting ready for the transition and is nearly ready to take over.
[...] chief executive of Ariane Group, Alain Charmeau, gave an interview to the German publication Der Spiegel. The interview was published in German, but a credible translation can be found here. During the interview, Charmeau expressed frustration with SpaceX and attributed its success to subsidized launches for the US government. [...] Even as Charmeau decries what he calls subsidies for SpaceX from the US government, he admits that Ariane cannot exist without guaranteed contracts purchased by European governments. To make the Ariane 6 vehicle viable, Charmeau said Ariane needs five launches in total for 2021 and eight guaranteed launches for 2022.
[...] Charmeau said the Ariane rocket does not launch often enough to justify the investment into reusability. (It would need about 30 launches a year to justify these costs, he said). And then Charmeau said something telling about why reusability doesn't make sense to a government-backed rocket company—jobs. "Let us say we had ten guaranteed launches per year in Europe and we had a rocket which we can use ten times—we would build exactly one rocket per year," he said. "That makes no sense. I cannot tell my teams: 'Goodbye, see you next year!'" This seems a moment of real irony. Whereas earlier in the interview Charmeau accuses the US government of subsidizing SpaceX, a few minutes later he says the Ariane Group can't make a reusable rocket because it would be too efficient.
OneSpace Technology Co., a Beijing-based aerospace company, has successfully launched a suborbital rocket. This was the first flight for China's commercial launch sector.
[...] The mission was designated OS-X0 as it was the first test launch of OneSpace's OS-X rocket. During the flight, the launch vehicle reached an altitude of 127,106 feet (38.74 kilometers) and had a top speed of more than 5.7 times the speed of sound. This was confirmed by Shu Chang, the company's founder and CEO.
[...] OneSpace is not the only Chinese private company developing launch vehicles. Last year, Link Space, another Beijing-based startup, presented the design of its New Line 1 reusable rocket. That company is targeting 2020 for the first orbital flight of its booster.
Although the Space Launch System's promoters are focusing on the vehicle's payload capacity to trans-Lunar injection orbit, NASA now claims that the SLS Block 1's payload to LEO may be greater than the 70 metric tons originally estimated. This comes as the SLS project has been negatively compared to SpaceX's Falcon Heavy:
While a comparison between NASA's SLS Block 1 and SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is often made, the gulf between the two has actually widened. As the Block 1 design has matured, the agency has refined the vehicle's capabilities by a significant amount. Though NASA prefers to position SLS as a deep-space rocket, [Spaceflight Insider] sought a clarification of the vehicle's capabilities to a more common destination for rockets: low-Earth-orbit (LEO).
NASA replied: "Now that the SLS design has matured and the program has more data as a result of progress with hardware manufacturing and testing, our current analysis shows the Block 1 configuration of SLS can deliver an estimated mass of 95 metric tons (209,439 pounds) to low-Earth orbit based on a 200 by 200-kilometer orbit with a 28.5 degree inclination, which is a commonly used orbit in the industry for estimating performance."
The Scientist has an opinion piece that insufficient evidence of peer review is happening in scholarly publishing. In it, the author writes a call for publishing of anonymized peer reviews.
Scientific rigor demands that claims be substantiated by evidence. If I claim that gene A regulates gene B and provide no evidence, my claim will be dismissed. It must be dismissed. Yet, if a journal claims to conduct peer review and provides no evidence of it, the claim is rarely dismissed.
However, given the specialized nature of some disciplines and the small number of researchers, it is likely that the anonymity would not last for long. How do Soylentils weigh in on the opinion piece?
[Ed's Comment: The link is unreliable, but patience tends to get through eventually]
The Hill reports that the FCC will take public comments on Sinclair-Tribune merger until July 12th of this year. Sinclair stations currently reach 40% of US households and with the merger that would increase to 72%.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will take new comments from the public on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s $3.9 billion bid for Tribune Media.
The agency is reopening its review of the merger for public comments after the two companies proposed to sell off some local stations in an effort to bring the deal in line with media ownership restrictions.
The public will have until July 12 to weigh in on the docket.
Also at Reuters: FCC seeks new comments on proposed Sinclair Tribune merger.
Earlier on SN: Sinclair Broadcast Group to Buy Indebted Tribune Media for $3.9 Billion (2017)
When the Apple Watch launched in 2015, it wasn't exactly clear who, or what, it was for. It was a phone accessory meant to curtail some of the notification anxiety the phones themselves had created by paring your digital life down to only the most essential disturbances. For many consumers, though, there wasn't a clear reason to keep wearing the watch after the initial sheen had worn off—unless they were fitness freaks, or overly concerned about their heart health. But a growing group of users have found them indispensable.
You might've noticed that the person who took your order at the bar, brought you the shoes you wanted to try on, or perhaps even patted you down at the airport security line, is sporting an Apple Watch, which starts at $329 for the newest Series 3 watch. And there's a pretty simple explanation: Many service-industry jobs where employees have to be on their feet all day don't allow workers to check their phones while they're on the clock. But that rule doesn't necessarily apply to a piece of unobtrusive jewelry that happens to let you text your friends and check the weather.
Quartz spoke with airline attendants, bartenders, waiters, baristas, shop owners, and (very politely) TSA employees who all said the same thing: The Apple Watch keeps them in touch when they can't be on their phones at work. Apple has increasingly been pushing the watch as a health device, and seems to have moved away from marketing it as one that offers more basic utility, as Apple continues do with the iPhone. But given that roughly 23% of the US labor force works in wholesale or retail operations, perhaps it's a market Apple should reconsider.
Related: Apple Watch Leads the Dying Smartwatch Market
FDA Approves First Medical Device Accessory for the Apple Watch
AliveCor Sensor for Apple Watch Could Detect Dangerous Levels of Potassium in the Blood
Apple Building its Own MicroLED Displays for Eventual Use in Apple Watch and Other Products
The US president, who has not used email while in office, has one iPhone capable only of making calls and another that is used as his Twitter phone, with access to a series of news sites and the social network, according to White House officials talking to Politico.
While his call-capable iPhone is issued by White House staff and is swapped out “through routine support operations” to check for hacking and other security concerns, Trump has resisted attempts to do similar for as long as five months with his Twitter phone, saying it was “too inconvenient”.
A US president has the power to override White House policy and disregard advice, but given that the devices and systems they use are prime targets for foreign intelligence agencies, doing so can pose significant US national security risks.
Documents obtained by the ACLU of Northern California have shed new light on Rekognition, Amazon's little-known facial recognition project. Rekognition is currently used by police in Orlando and Oregon's Washington County, often using nondisclosure agreements to avoid public disclosure. The result is a powerful real-time facial recognition system that can tap into police body cameras and municipal surveillance systems.
According to further reporting by The Washington Post, the Washington County Sheriff pays between $6 and $12 a month for access to Rekognition, which allows the department to scan mug shot photos against real-time footage.
The most significant concerns are raised by the Orlando project, which is capable of running real-time facial recognition on a network of cameras throughout the city. The project was described by Rekognition project director Ranju Das at a recent AWS conference in Seoul. "This is an immediate response use case," Das told the crowd. "There are cameras all over the city [of Orlando]. Authorized cameras are streaming the data to Kinesis video stream.... We analyze that data in real time and search against the collection of faces that they have. Maybe they want to know if the mayor of the city is in a place, or there are persons of interest they want to track."
The price is not a typo. It was described as a "giveaway".