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Funding Goal
For period:
   2017-01-01 to 2017-06-30.
Base Goal: $3000.00
Progress So Far: $3000.00
Stretch Goal: $2000.00
Progress So Far:
Approximately: $561.01

Covers the period:
2017-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2017-06-23 18:50:26 UTC
(SPIDs: [586..713])
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2017-06-27 14:52:26 UTC

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posted by mrpg on Thursday June 29, @07:17AM   Printer-friendly
from the USS-ASIMOV dept.

US lawmakers have drafted legislation proposing the formation of a new branch of the military called the Space Corps. This new space-orientated military service would join the five other branches of the United States Armed Forces and is intended to manage national security in space.

Last week, the House Armed Service Committee, led by Republican Chairman Mike Rogers and Ranking Member Democrat Jim Cooper, introduced the new legislation claiming that the current national security space systems in the United States are not capable of protecting the country's space assets.

"Not only are there developments by adversaries," says Mr Rogers and Mr Cooper in the committee release, "but we are imposing upon the national security space enterprise a crippling organizational and management structure and an acquisition system that has led to delays and cost-overruns."

Although the proposal establishes the US Space Corps as its own separate military service, it would still be operated from within the Department of the Air Force, in much the same way the US Marine Corps operates from within the Department of the Navy.

Will the space lasers make a 'pew, pew!' sound?

Also: Congressman Proposes A Military 'Space Corps'

As a point of discussion, how does this proposal fit in with the Outer Space Treaty of 1967? Wikipedia summarizes:

The Outer Space Treaty represents the basic legal framework of international space law. Among its principles, it bars states party to the treaty from placing weapons of mass destruction in orbit of Earth, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body, or otherwise stationing them in outer space. It exclusively limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes and expressly prohibits their use for testing weapons of any kind, conducting military maneuvers, or establishing military bases, installations, and fortifications (Article IV). However, the Treaty does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons in orbit and thus some highly destructive attack strategies such as kinetic bombardment are still potentially allowable. The treaty also states that the exploration of outer space shall be done to benefit all countries and that space shall be free for exploration and use by all the States.

The full text of the treaty is available at NASA.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday June 29, @05:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the protein-is-good dept.

One of the challenges to aquaculture is that reproduction, as an energy intensive endeavor, makes fish grow more slowly. To solve this problem, Prof. Berta Levavi-Sivan at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem identified tiny molecules named Neurokinin B (NKB) and Neurokinin F (NKF) that are secreted by the brains of fish and play a crucial role in their reproduction. Prof. Levavi-Sivan, a specialist in aquaculture at the Hebrew University's Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, then developed molecules that neutralize the effect of NKB and NKF. The molecules inhibited fish reproduction and consequently led to increased growth rates.

These inhibitors can now be included in fish feed to ensure better growth rates. For example, young tilapia fed the inhibitors in their food supply for two months gained 25% more weight versus fish that did not receive the supplement. So far, NKB has been found in 20 different species of fish, indicating that this discovery could be effective in a wide variety of species.

Piscine growth hormone.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday June 29, @04:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the think-of-the-debris dept.

India launched a communication satellite using its most powerful rocket on Monday, improving its prospects of winning a bigger share of the more than $300 billion global space industry and its hopes of a manned mission.

The 13-story high rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk III, or "Fat Boy," lifted off from the Sriharikota space center in southern India at 5:28 p.m. in clear blue skies.

At 6,914 lbs. the GSAT-19 satellite is the heaviest India has attempted to put in orbit, the space agency said.

The United States, Russia, China, Japan, and European Space Agency have the capability to launch satellites weighing more than three tonnes.

The launch was a couple weeks ago now, but it's welcome news. Perhaps a second iteration of the Space Race would get humanity into the wider solar system to stay.

Also: GLSV Mark III rocket conducts 'all-up' launch with GSAT-19 satellite

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday June 29, @02:48AM   Printer-friendly
from the job-growth-in-3...2...1... dept.

Today, private spaceflight venture Blue Origin announced its plans to manufacture the company's new rocket engine, the BE-4, at a state-of-the-art facility in Huntsville, Alabama. It's an interesting move for the company, which has been mostly developing the engine at its headquarters in Kent, Washington, and testing the hardware in Texas. But the benefits for Blue Origin are both practical and political.

On the surface, it's a seemingly innocuous decision meant to capitalize on Huntsville's decades-long history of rocket development. The city is home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, where the Saturn V rocket was developed and where NASA's future massive deep-space rocket, the Space Launch System, will also be worked on. Plus, many private space contractors are based in Huntsville, making spaceflight a key part of the city's economy and a huge jobs creator. It's why Huntsville has been nicknamed Rocket City.

"Alabama is a great state for aerospace manufacturing and we are proud to produce America's next rocket engine right here in Rocket City," Robert Meyerson, president of Blue Origin, said in a statement.

[...] Of course, Blue Origin probably also had some nice economic incentives to move to the state that factored into the decision. And the company will definitely have a good support system there. Blue Origin's move to Huntsville is supposed to generate 342 jobs at the new facility, located in Cummings Research Park, with salaries averaging $75,000. And given the city's history, Blue Origin should have no problem finding aerospace experts in the area. Phil Larson, a former science advisor to the Obama administration and a former SpaceX spokesperson, pointed out that SpaceX, in part, moved to Los Angeles because it had the largest concentration of aerospace engineers in the country at the time. "Alabama has that same sort of strong technical work force," he tells The Verge.

Source: The Verge

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday June 29, @01:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the good-luck dept.

The Nokia 6 will be available in early July:

HMD Global — the Finnish company that owns the rights to manufacture Nokia-branded smartphones — announced earlier this year that it would be releasing new midrange Nokia Android phones in the United States. We now have more information on the first Nokia phone to hit Stateside: the Nokia 6, which will be available in early July for $229.

The Nokia 6 is the largest of the three Android phones HMD Global announced at Mobile World Congress, featuring a 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage (expandable by microSD). On the software side of things, the 6 runs Android Nougat in its purest, unadulterated form — that means no bundled apps or overlaid skins. Plus, while the specs are decidedly average, the Nokia 6 does stand out with a metal unibody design built out of a single block of aluminum, which adds a premium touch to the otherwise midrange device.

Amazon is subsidizing the Nokia 6 by slapping ads on the lock screen.

Also at Engadget and CNET.

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Thursday June 29, @12:43AM   Printer-friendly
from the you've-got-a-point-there dept.

[Update: It looks like the slashd daemon which was scheduled for 2017-06-29_00:10:00 failed to run again. We are investigating.]

We ran into a problem with the process which hands out moderation points each night.

We received a couple reports that people had no mod points. A query of our DB showed that fully 80% of our users had the full complement of 5 mod points. That seemed strange — we have a daemon that runs every night and that, among many other things, replenishes your supply each morning at 00:10 UTC. Apparently that process fell over and went toes up. Complicating matters, if you had mod points left over from the prior day, those were still available to you.

I put out the call to the devs as I tried to sleuth out what was going on. Many thanks to mrpg who played guinea pig and offered a fresh perspective as we tried to isolate the issue. With the information that was gathered, TheMightyBuzzard and paulej72 quickly figured out what happened. Further, rather than wait for tonight's process to run, TheMightyBuzzard manually updated the DB and handed out mod points to everyone.

(Debugging was complicated by the fact that there was another issue that was clogging up the logs which made it doubly hard to determine what happened. Debugging efforts are continuing on that matter.)

We anticipate things should be back to normal tomorrow. We'll check in on this story first thing in the morning so if you run into any issues with this, please post a reply with details.

P.S. I remember in the early days of this site when more than 12 hours of continuous up-time was an accomplishment. It's a credit to the staff here that we are now at a state where a system issue is a rare event, rather than an everyday occurrence.

-- martyb

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday June 28, @11:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the are-you-a-net-gain-or-a-net-drain? dept.

Many jobs have spillover effects on the rest of society. For instance, the value of new treatments discovered by biomedical researchers is far greater than what they or their employers get paid, so they have positive spillovers. Other jobs have negative spillovers, such as those that generate pollution.

A forthcoming paper, by economists at UPenn and Yale,1 reports a survey of the economic literature on these spillover benefits for the 11 highest-earning professions.

There's very little literature, so all these estimates are very, very uncertain, and should be not be taken literally. But it's interesting reading.

Here are the bottom lines – see more detail on the estimates below. (Note that we already discussed an older version of this paper, but the estimates have been updated since then.)

(Emphasis in original retained.)

At the top, researchers who generate +$950,440 in positive externalities; at the bottom, financiers who generate -$104,000 in negative externalities. In a glaring omission, telephone sanitisers were not listed.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday June 28, @10:10PM   Printer-friendly
from the buy-or-bye-bye dept.

Hacking vending machines has been around a long time—remember those globe candy machines? One method of absconding with the goods from this type of vending machine relied on Scotch tape or already-chewed gum. The tape or gum was stuck to the coin destined for the candy machine. If everything went right, the coin would stay in place, and several pieces of candy or gum could be had by carefully rocking the crank back and forth.

As vending machines become more intricate so have the hacks, except for the "brute-force" approach. That's where someone—usually an irate customer deprived of their purchase—violently rocks the machine until what they are after drops out of the screw mechanism and can be jimmied out of the swinging door near the bottom.

Needless to say, that approach tends to draw attention to the perpetrator—not a good thing in highly-secured buildings. Besides, today's vending machines are likely to be bolted to the floor or each other and are much more sophisticated—possibly containing machine intelligence, and belonging to the Internet of Things (IoT).

Hacking this kind of vending machine obviously requires a more refined approach. The type security professionals working for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) might conjure up, according to journalists Jason Leopold and David Mack, who first broke the story A Bunch Of CIA Contractors Got Fired For Stealing Snacks From Vending Machines. In their BuzzFeed post, the two writers state, "Several CIA contractors were kicked out of the Agency for stealing more than $3,000 in snacks from vending machines according to official documents... ."

Source: TechRepublic

Read the full Office of Inspector General report from October 2013. on Document Cloud.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday June 28, @08:37PM   Printer-friendly
from the seeing-clearly dept.

Caltech has created a camera without a lens:

Traditional cameras—even those on the thinnest of cell phones—cannot be truly flat due to their optics: lenses that require a certain shape and size in order to function. At Caltech, engineers have developed a new camera design that replaces the lenses with an ultra-thin optical phased array (OPA). The OPA does computationally what lenses do using large pieces of glass: it manipulates incoming light to capture an image.

[...] "Here, like most other things in life, timing is everything. With our new system, you can selectively look in a desired direction and at a very small part of the picture in front of you at any given time, by controlling the timing with femto-second—quadrillionth of a second—precision," says Ali Hajimiri, Bren Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech, and the principal investigator of a paper describing the new camera. The paper was presented at the Optical Society of America's (OSA) Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) and published online by the OSA in the OSA Technical Digest in March 2017.

"We've created a single thin layer of integrated silicon photonics that emulates the lens and sensor of a digital camera, reducing the thickness and cost of digital cameras. It can mimic a regular lens, but can switch from a fish-eye to a telephoto lens instantaneously—with just a simple adjustment in the way the array receives light," Hajimiri says.

Does this have implications for astronomy?

"The applications are endless," says graduate student Behrooz Abiri (MS '12), coauthor of the OSA paper. "Even in today's smartphones, the camera is the component that limits how thin your phone can get. Once scaled up, this technology can make lenses and thick cameras obsolete. It may even have implications for astronomy by enabling ultra-light, ultra-thin enormous flat telescopes on the ground or in space."


Paper: An 8x8 Heterodyne Lens-less OPA Camera

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday June 28, @07:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the firefandom-edition dept.
posted by takyon on Wednesday June 28, @05:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the two-rockets-of-hate dept.

Although "offensive cyber" seems to have a different definition to my re-collection, Britain's Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, gave a speech at Cyber 2017 outlining how the Ministry of Defence is tackling today's cyber threats:

A stronger password here, a Windows update there, and we would have stood an even better chance of warding off the Parliamentary and Wannacry attacks. So my second point is that the MOD has a key role to play in contributing to a culture of resilience. That's why we set up the Defence Cyber Partnership Programme (DCPP) to ensure that companies with whom we have defence contracts are properly protecting themselves and meeting a host of cyber security standards.

Strengthening our deterrence

But there's a third way in which we can protect our national infrastructure, and that's by strengthening our deterrence. So we're using our rising budget to invest our £178bn in full spectrum capability, from carriers to Ajax armoured vehicles, fifth generation F35 to the latest UAVs, signalling to potential cyber strikers that the price of an online attack could invite a response from any domain, air, land, sea or cyber space. And when it comes to the latter, we're making sure that offensive cyber is now an integral part of our arsenal. We now have the skills to expose cyber criminals, to them hunt down and to prosecute them, to respond in kind to any assault at a time of our choosing.

Our National Offensive Cyber Planning allows us to integrate cyber into all our military operations. And I can confirm that we are now using offensive cyber routinely in the war against Daesh, not only in Iraq but also in the campaign to liberate Raqqa and other towns on the Euphrates. Offensive cyber there is already beginning to have a major effect on degrading Daesh's capabilities.

Unfortunately, the Vault7 leaks show that at least one nation-state believes it is able to imitate attacks from other nation-states:

What was once conspiracy is now fact, as it appears the CIA has essentially developed their own NSA without the oversight. Under the Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), over 5,000 hackers have produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other "weaponized" malware targeting everything from anti-virus software to commonly used consumer devices. This includes malware which makes it look like it was planted by a foreign government or hacker. This includes Russia, essentially proving the CIA has the ability to plant evidence to make it look like Russian hackers were the culprits. This potentially disrupts and discredits the entire Russia hacking narrative being pushed by the media.

So, under Britain's official foreign policy, when a country has sustained attacks or just a flaky infrastructure, that's sufficient justification to bomb a random country rather than attack the wrong computers. After Iraq was bombed for having Weapons of Mass Distraction and bombed again due to Saudi Arabian terrorists, will North Korea get bombed due to NHS failure?

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday June 28, @04:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the permanent-fix dept.

Dr. Lowe, from In The Pipeline, writes about the development of a vaccine for heroin:

At first thought, that might seem like a weird idea. Drugs of abuse, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine et al. are small molecules, and as such are too small to set off immune responses on their own. But a strategy could be to attach them to some larger protein that can raise antibodies – if those antibodies recognize the drug-labeled part of the protein conjugate, they may well retain activity against the drug molecule in its free state.

[...] It's been a long road. The first morphine immunoconjugate was described in 1970, and a morphine vaccine was tested in rabbits in 1975. But very little progress in the field occurred over the next twenty years or so, partly because methadone treatment for heroin addiction had become widely used. It's interesting to note, though, that vaccine development work against amphetamine seems to have followed a roughly similar path

[...] It would seem that we really are getting close to human clinical trials for some of these, which will be quite interesting. A drug-abuse vaccine is not going to be magic, though. Because of the specificity of the immune response, someone who's been vaccinated against heroin would almost certainly still respond to morphine, and most definitely would to compounds like fentanyl or oxycodone [...] But vaccines could, at the same time, provide the extra help needed for people to finally break free of a particular drug, and addicts who are really trying to quit need all the help that they can get.

I'd say that last part is the key. One of the big issues in drug addiction is (in the end) a philosophical argument about free will (which would explain why it never gets resolved!) Is drug addiction a disease, a choice, a behavior, a biochemical problem. . .the arguments go on forever, complicated by the way that different people attach different meanings to those terms.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday June 28, @02:40PM   Printer-friendly
from the miner-victory? dept.

First it was unveiled, now it has launched. AMD has launched the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition at $999 for the air-cooled version and $1499 for liquid-cooled. The High Bandwidth Memory 2.0 included has been confirmed to be two stacks of 8-layer 8 GB HBM:

After what appears to be a very unusual false start, AMD has now formally launched their new Radeon Vega Frontier Edition card. First announced back in mid-May, the unusual card, which AMD is all but going out of their way to dissuade their usual consumer base from buying, will be available today for $999. Meanwhile its liquid cooled counterpart, which was also announced at the time, will be available later on in Q3 for $1499.

Interestingly, both of these official prices are some $200-$300 below the prices first listed by SabrePC two weeks ago in the false start. To date AMD hasn't commented on what happened there, however it's worth noting that SabrePC is as of press time still listing the cards for their previous prices, with both cards reporting as being in-stock.

[...] Feeding the GPU is AMD's previously announced dual stack HBM2 configuration, which is now confirmed to be a pair of 8 layer, 8GB "8-Hi" stacks. AMD has the Vega FE's memory clocked at just under 1.9Gbps, which gives the card a total memory bandwidth of 483GB/sec. And for anyone paying close attention to AMD's naming scheme here, they are officially calling this "HBC" memory – a callback to Vega's High Bandwidth Cache design.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday June 28, @01:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the tried-and-tested dept.

Recently launched and not yet operational, the HMS Queen Elizabeth's computers are running Windows XP.

The ship's officers defend this, claiming that the ship is secure, but the phrasing of their comments suggests that they really don't have a clue:
"It's not the system itself, of course, that's vulnerable, it's the security that surrounds it.
So the security is vulnerable?

"I want to reassure you about Queen Elizabeth, the security around its computer system is properly protected and we don't have any vulnerability on that particular score."

Apparently, where you buy your computers makes Windows XP more secure:
"The ship is well designed and there has been a very, very stringent procurement train that has ensured we are less susceptible to cyber than most."

He added: "We are a very sanitised procurement train. I would say, compared to the NHS buying computers off the shelf, we are probably better than that. If you think more Nasa and less NHS you are probably in the right place."

Didn't they learn from recent events how even air-gapped computers can be compromised?

Also covered at The Register, The Times, and The Guardian.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday June 28, @11:34AM   Printer-friendly
from the not-just-for-breakfast-anymore dept.

A ransomware attack hit computers across the world on Tuesday, taking out servers at Russia's biggest oil company, disrupting operations at Ukrainian banks, and shutting down computers at multinational shipping and advertising firms.

Cyber security experts said those behind the attack appeared to have exploited the same type of hacking tool used in the WannaCry ransomware attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers in May before a British researcher created a kill-switch.

"It's like WannaCry all over again," said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer with Helsinki-based cyber security firm F-Secure.

He said he expected the outbreak to spread in the Americas as workers turned on vulnerable machines, allowing the virus to attack. "This could hit the U.S.A. pretty bad," he said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it was monitoring reports of cyber attacks around the world and coordinating with other countries.

The first reports of organizations being hit emerged from Russia and Ukraine, but the impact quickly spread westwards to computers in Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Britain.

Many recent outages/attacks have a pattern and a UK power grid outage is anticipated.

Previous WannaCrypt coverage.

Original Submission #1   Original Submission #2