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2018-01-22 15:16:33 UTC
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Just a quick heads up to the SN community. As we previously announced, Linode is migrating customers to a new data center. We already did the first stage of migration with most of the production servers two weeks ago. Now we're working our way through the remainder of the servers. As of this writing, we've migrated both webservers, both DB servers, our development server, and the fallback load balancer.
Tonight at approximately midnight EDT, we're going to migrate beryllium, which hosts our IRC server, wiki, and mail server, and boron, which is our redundant KDC/internal DNS server. During this process, IRC and email from SoylentNews will be unavailable. The site itself will stay up during this process.
After this migration, we'll only have our primary load balancer to migrate, which we will likely do over the weekend. Thank you all for your understanding.
As Floridians in the path of Hurricane Irma rushed to evacuate last week, Tesla pushed out a software update that made it a bit easier for certain Model S and Model X owners to get out of the state.
Tesla sometimes sells cars with more hardware battery capacity than is initially available for use by customers, offering the additional capacity as a subsequent software update. For example, Tesla has sold Model S cars rated 60D—the 60 stands for 60kWh of energy storage—that actually have 75kWh batteries. Owners of these vehicles can pay Tesla $9,000 to unlock the extra 15kWh of storage capacity.
But last week, Tesla decided to temporarily make this extra capacity available even to Floridians who hadn't paid for the upgrade to ensure they had enough range to get out of Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma. A Tesla spokesperson confirmed the change to Electrek. The extra 15kWh should give the vehicles an additional 30 to 40 miles of range.
Pay to unlock the full potential of your battery.
Intel is discontinuing its current 802.11ad "WiGig" products by the end of the year, but will continue to work on using WiGig for untethered wireless VR headsets:
Intel is formally initiating the EOL program for the Wireless Gigabit 11000 and Tri Band Wireless-AC 18260 controllers, the Wireless Gigabit Antenna-M M100041 antenna and the Wireless Gigabit Sink W13100 sink today (September 8). Intel is asking its partners to place their final orders on its WiGig-supporting network cards, antenna and sink by September 29, 2017. The final shipments will be made by December 29, 2017.
[...] The WiGig short range communication standard enables compatible devices to communicate at up to 7–8 Gb/s data rates and with minimal latencies, using the 60 GHz spectrum at distances of up to ten meters. WiGig cannot replace Wi-Fi or Bluetooth because 60 GHz signals cannot penetrate walls, but it can enable devices like wireless docking stations, wireless AR/VR head-mounted displays, wireless storage devices, wireless displays, and others that are in direct line of sight. Intel's current-generation WiGig products were designed primarily for notebook dockings. A number of PC makers released laptops featuring Intel's Tri Band Wireless-AC 18260/17265 controllers and supporting docks featuring Intel's Wireless Gigabit Sink W13100. These WiGig-enabled solutions were primarily targeted at their B2B customers in business and enterprise segments.
However, WiGig has never seen any adoption in mass-market laptops, displays and other devices. The vast majority of advanced notebooks these days come with either USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports supporting up to 10 or 40 Gb/s data transfer rates (respectively), DisplayPort 1.2 and other protocols, thus providing far better performance and functionality than WiGig, albeit at the cost of a tethered connection.
[...] What is interesting is that Intel is not disclosing whether they have plans to introduce any new WiGig products for laptops or tablets, byt they say they will be continuing their 802.11ad work with a focus on VR headsets. Earlier this year HTC and Intel already demonstrated a wireless HTC Vive operating using the WiGig technology, but didn't reveal whether it used its off-the-shelf WiGig silicon or custom yet-unannounced solutions for the project.
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow8963
A Polish academic is accusing Google of trying to patent technology he invented and that he purposely released into the public domain so companies like Google couldn't trap it inside restrictive licenses.
The technology's name is Asymmetric Numeral Systems (ANS) [1, 2], a family of entropy coding methods that Polish assistant professor Jarosław (Jarek) Duda developed between 2006 and 2013.
Over the years, due to its many advantages, variations of Duda's ANS technology — tANS and rANS — have been adopted in several data compression systems, such as Apple's LZFSE compressor, Facebook's Zstandard compressor, and Google's Draco 3D compressor.
Further, ANS is also currently considered for the coding phase of AV1, an upcoming open video coding format.
[...] In a patent application complaint he filed in the US and with WIPO officials, Duda specifically mentions that he published all ANS research in the public domain to "protect its use from becoming a legal minefield."
Duda also points out that Google was well aware of his work, and he even helped Google's staff implement ANS for video file compression.
The researcher now claims that Google is trying to patent some of the same concepts he shared with the company's engineers.
"The content of this patent application is a direct natural modification of a textbook way for encoding transform coefficients that represent image blocks in video/image compression," the researcher says. "This approach is well known."
[...] Google did not reply to a request for comment. The article will be updated with any official statement if the company decides to provide context for its patent application.
The mystery remains surrounding Google's decision to patent something that is in the public domain since 2014.
Kelp was dubbed "the new kale" a few years back by chefs, nutritionists and foodies who embraced its oceanic flavors and purported health benefits. Now seaweed is the star ingredient in "Selkie," a beer at the Portsmouth Brewery on New Hampshire's seacoast. Its named after a mesmerizing, mythological water creature that — as the story goes — can shed its skin to take human form on land.
[...] Enter Michael Chambers, a marine aquaculture specialist at the University of New Hampshire. "Next thing we knew Matt and Joanne were out at the farm collecting sugar kelp," Chambers says.
UNH's program maintains a floating aquaculture operation in Portsmouth that's used for research and training on how to grow sustainable seafood. "Right now we're growing sugar kelp, steelhead trout and blue mussels — all in the same floating structure," Chambers says. "The fish are in net pens inside the frame, and along the perimeter outside of the frame we have the sugar kelp and mussels growing — so it's almost like a biological curtain."
The fish eat and then excrete nutrients that are absorbed by the kelp and mussels, he continues, "so it has a cleaning effect on the environment we're growing them in. Plus, we're growing three different types of seafood."
Collecting sugar kelp was "one of the more interesting days of work," Gallagher says. "Most of the time, as a brewer, you're stuck down in the cellar doing your brewer things." He and Francis brought 60 pounds of sugar kelp back to the brewery. They rinsed away epiphytes, including tiny crustaceans that grow on the surface of sea plants. Then into the boil it went.
Is the craft beer industry running out of things to put in beer?
Last week, a history researcher and television writer named Nicholas Gibbs published a long article in the Times Literary Supplement about how he'd cracked the code on the mysterious Voynich Manuscript. Unfortunately, say experts, his analysis was a mix of stuff we already knew and stuff he couldn't possibly prove.
As soon as Gibbs' article hit the Internet, news about it spread rapidly through social media (we covered it at Ars too), arousing the skepticism of cipher geeks and scholars alike. As Harvard's Houghton Library curator of early modern books John Overholt put it on Twitter, "We're not buying this Voynich thing, right?" Medievalist Kate Wiles, an editor at History Today, replied, "I've yet to see a medievalist who does. Personally I object to his interpretation of abbreviations."
The weirdly-illustrated 15th century book has been the subject of speculation and conspiracy theories since its discovery in 1912. In his article, Gibbs claimed that he'd figured out the Voynich Manuscript was a women's health manual whose odd script was actually just a bunch of Latin abbreviations. He provided two lines of translation from the text to "prove" his point.
However, this isn't sitting well with people who actually read medieval Latin. Medieval Academy of America director Lisa Fagin Davis told The Atlantic's Sarah Zhang, "They're not grammatically correct. It doesn't result in Latin that makes sense." She added, "Frankly I'm a little surprised the TLS published it...If they had simply sent to it to the Beinecke Library, they would have rebutted it in a heartbeat."
Previously: Voynich Manuscript Partially Decoded
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1937
A team of Oxford and Cambridge researchers is the latest to join a chorus of voices sounding the alarm on a new attack vector named Intra-Library Collusion (ILC) that could make identifying Android malware much harder in the upcoming future.
The research team has described the ILC attack vector in a research paper released last month and named "Intra-Library Collusion: A Potential Privacy Nightmare on Smartphones."
An ILC attack relies on threat actors using libraries to deliver malicious code, instead of standalone Android apps packed with all the malicious commands.
Apps usually require permissions for all the operations they need to perform. An ILC attack relies on spreading the malicious actions across several apps that use the same library(ies).
Each app gets different permissions, and malicious code packed in one app could use shared code from other apps — with higher privileges — to carry out malicious operations.
The advantage — for malware authors — is that investigators analyzing a compromised devices would see the breadth of malicious activities, but would exclude certain apps as the infection's source because they do not possess all the permissions needed to execute the attack.
Energy from offshore wind in the UK will be cheaper than electricity from new nuclear power for the first time.
The cost of subsidies for new offshore wind farms has halved since the last 2015 auction for clean energy projects
Two firms said they were willing to build offshore wind farms for a subsidy of £57.50 per megawatt hour for 2022-23.
This compares with the new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant securing subsidies of £92.50 per megawatt hour.
Nuclear firms said the UK still needed a mix of low-carbon energy, especially for when wind power was not available.
Both nuclear and wind receive subsidies, but for the first time wind is coming to market with less, so providing the same electricity with less cost to the public than nuclear.
A trio of security researcher superstars -- including a one-time legendary teen hacker known as "Mafiaboy" who brought down some of the most popular sites on the internet, and a medical researcher who exposed a security hole that led to the recall of a half-million pacemakers -- are joining an HP Security Advisory Board aimed at making advances in the war against hackers.
HP announced the new panel of white hat security superstars at the start of its Reinvent worldwide partner conference Monday as part of its ongoing effort to deliver what it calls the most secure PCs and printers on the market. The members of the new board are chartered with providing "strategic input to HP's leadership team and security experts.
The three security superstars, who will receive honorariums for their service, include:
Michael Calce, who received the moniker "Mafiaboy" when as a 15-year-old in 2000 he shut down eBay, Yahoo and ETrade and others with a series of attacks. Calce – the chairman of the HP Security Advisory Board -- is now a white hat hacker who does penetration testing for companies.
Justine Bone, CEO of MedSec, whose firm exposed a security hole that led to the recall just last month by the U.S Food and Drug Administration of 496,000 pacemakers from Abbott, which has issued a firmware update. Bone is a controversial figure given her decision to proactively expose medical threats.
Robert Masse, who has been helping businesses stop security breaches as a strategic consultant for 20 years. Masse – who owned his own security consulting business – has agreed to donate his honorarium to charity and is participating separately from his duties as a partner for Deloitte Canada.
[...] The board is not a symbolic gesture but rather a real-world panel to help HP create more secure products, said Calce. "There is no smoke and mirrors here," he said. "The members I assembled are to offer the best advice and input that we possibly can for HP to really develop the most secure products that will impact the world and negate what is going on in terms of hacking worldwide."
Will this HP Security Advisory Board reinvent corporate computer security?
A 10th century Viking unearthed in the 1880s was like a figure from Richard Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries: an elite warrior buried with a sword, an ax, a spear, arrows, a knife, two shields, and a pair of warhorses. [...] a new study published today in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology finds that the warrior was a woman—the first high-status female Viking warrior to be identified. Excavators first uncovered the battle-ready body among several thousand Viking graves near the Swedish town of Birka, but for 130 years, most assumed it was a man—known only by the grave identifier, Bj 581. [...] Now, the warrior's DNA proves her sex, suggesting a surprising degree of gender balance in the Vikings' violent social order.
Her name was Lagertha.
Reference: Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson, et. al., A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23308
New Horizons' highest-resolution camera, the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), has imaged details as small as 600 feet (183 meters) in diameter on Pluto's surface; however, on MU69, it will be able to resolve details down to a diameter of 230 feet (70 meters).
"We're planning to fly closer to MU69 than to Pluto to get even higher resolution imagery and other datasets. The science should be spectacular," emphasized mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado.
[...] Observations of the KBO conducted in July when it passed in front of a star suggest that it could be a binary system composed of two objects or a single object with two lobes.
The International Astronomical Union has announced names for 14 features (such as craters, valleys, and mountain ranges) on Pluto:
These include Tombaugh Regio for the "heart" feature on Pluto's surface, Sputnik Planitia for the icy plain on the left side of the heart, Burney crater for a crater west of the heart, Voyager Terra for a region northwest of the heart, and several more.
[...] "The approved designations honor many people and space missions who paved the way for the historic exploration of Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the farthest worlds ever explored," Stern said.
Anu Garg at A Word A Day posted this story of an upcoming mayoral election in the small town of Völklingen, Germany (near the French border, south of Belgium), wherein one of the candidates gave a spectacularly bad answer to a question in a recent debate.
Representative Uwe Faust of the political party Die Partei jokingly asked, “According to the building code, paragraph 126, each owner is obliged to label his property with the number given by the municipality. I find it alarming that in Völklingen many house numbers are displayed in Arabic numerals. How would you like to take action against this creeping foreigner infiltration?”
To which Otfried Best, running with the far-right NPD party, fell for the joke, replying, "You just wait until I am mayor. I will change that. Then there will be normal numbers."
Mr. Best apparently does not know what Arabic numerals are.
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1937
A vulnerability affecting the Apache Struts 2 open-source development framework was reportedly used to breach U.S. credit reporting agency Equifax and gain access to customer data.
Equifax revealed last week that hackers had access to its systems between mid-May and late July. The incident affects roughly 143 million U.S. consumers, along with some individuals in the U.K. and Canada.
The compromised information includes names, social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and, in some cases, driver's license numbers. The credit card numbers of roughly 209,000 consumers in the United States and dispute documents belonging to 182,000 people may have also been stolen by the attackers.
Equifax only said that "criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files." However, financial services firm Baird claimed the targeted software was Apache Struts, a framework used by many top organizations to create web applications.
"Our understanding is that data entered (and retained) through consumer portals/interactions (consumers inquiring about their credit reports, disputes, etc.) and data around it was breached via the Apache Struts flaw," Baird said in a report.
Some jumped to conclude that it was the recently patched and disclosed CVE-2017-9805, a remote code execution vulnerability that exists when the REST plugin is used with the XStream handler for XML payloads. This flaw was reported to Apache Struts developers in mid-July and it was addressed on September 5 with the release of Struts 2.5.13.
The security hole is now being exploited in the wild, but there had been no evidence of exploitation before the patch was released.
It may sound too good to be true, but TU Delft PhD student Ming Ma has found a way to produce alcohol out of thin air. Or to be more precise, he has found how to effectively and precisely control the process of electroreduction of CO2 to produce a wide range of useful products, including alcohol. Being able to use CO2 as such a resource may be pivotal in tackling climate change. His PhD defence will take place on September 14th.
[...] For mitigating atmospheric CO2 concentration, carbon capture and utilization (CCU) could be a feasible alternative strategy to carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). The electrochemical reduction of CO2 to fuels and value-added chemicals has attracted considerable attention as a promising solution. In this process, the captured CO2 is used as a resource and converted into carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4), ethylene (C2H4), and even liquid products such as formic acid (HCOOH), methanol (CH3OH) and ethanol (C2H5OH).
The high energy density hydrocarbons can be directly and conveniently utilized as fuels within the current energy infrastructure. In addition, the production of CO is very interesting since it can be used as feedstock in the Fischer–Tropsch process, a well-developed technology that has been widely used in industry to convert syngas (CO and hydrogen (H2)) into valuable chemicals such as methanol and synthetic fuels (such as diesel fuel). The figure attached describes these three processes and the way electroreduction of CO2 could potentially close the carbon cycle.
Beer, from air. Others use barley as an intermediary.
Publication: Aula TU Delft, PhD defence Ming Ma, Selective Electrocatalytic CO2 Conversion on Metal Surfaces.
Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956
How private are your medical records? You'd think they'd be pretty damn private, considering Congress specifically passed a law regulating the disclosure of these sensitive records. Some states feel the same way, extending even greater privacy protections to things like prescription records.
[...] Seems pretty locked down, but as Leslie Francis and John Francis point out at the Oxford University Press blog, federal law enforcement agencies have undone both Congressional protections and state protections.
Utah's requirement for a warrant conflicts with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which permits the DEA to issue administrative subpoenas for information relating to individuals suspected of violations of the CSA. According to a US Department of Justice report, administrative subpoenas may be issued by the agency without judicial oversight and without the showing of probable cause that would be required for a warrant.
When states provide more protections to residents than the federal government's willing to grant, it's often the state laws that lose, especially when controlled substances are involved. Such is the case here, at least so far. The DEA demanded the release of patient info/prescription records without a warrant, something forbidden by Utah law. The state objected to the DEA's records demand. The DEA responded by flexing its considerable federal muscle.
The DEA countered with the Supremacy Clause: valid federal laws are superior to conflicting state laws.
The court ended up agreeing with the DEA: patient info and prescription records aren't afforded additional privacy protections, no matter what HIPAA/state laws have to say about the matter.
The New York Daily News reports Len Wein has died at the age of 69:
Legendary comic book writer and editor Len Wein has died.
He was 69.
Wein helped revive the "X-Men" franchise in 1975 with artist Dave Cockrum, creating characters including Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus and Thunderbird.
A year earlier, in "The Incredible Hulk" #180, he debuted Wolverine, who eventually joined the "X-Men" team in later years.
In the late '80s, Wein left Marvel for DC Comics, where he worked as a writer and later an editor.
His work included "Batman" and "Green Lantern," as well as editing Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbons' "Watchmen" and "Swamp Thing," also by Moore.
I was surprised to learn just how tremendously prolific he actually was. Wikipedia has a thorough rundown of his life and works.
"The detection of thousands of extrasolar planets by the transit method naturally raises the question of whether potential extrasolar observers could detect the transits of the Solar System planets," they wrote in a paper published [open, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx2077] [DX] last month in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
[...] The transit method only works if a planet is aligned in a way that it crosses the star. In the Solar System, the terrestrial planets – Mercury, Mars, Earth and Venus – are more likely to be spotted in this way than the gas and ice giants – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Up to three planets in various combinations can be seen at any one time, the researchers found. The next step is to find which boundaries are located in the best positions to observe more than one of the terrestrial planets crossing the Sun, and count up the number of exoplanets inside these "transit zones."
Katja Poppenhaeger, co‑author of the study and assistant professor at Queen's University Belfast, estimated that "a randomly positioned observer would have roughly a 1 in 40 chance of observing at least one planet. The probability of detecting at least two planets would be about ten times lower, and to detect three would be a further ten times smaller than this." A full sweep shows there are currently 68 known exoplanets that are in a good spot to catch a planet transiting the Sun. From this list, nine of them are temperate and have sizes similar to Earth, but none are considered to be habitable. That doesn't mean the chances of aliens potentially spying on Earth are completely zero. The researchers estimate that there are ten other unconfirmed exoplanets that have more favorable conditions of sustaining life, and are within the transit zones.