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What should be the Book Club pick for December 2018?

  • Snow Crash - by Neal Stephenson
  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) - by Dennis Taylor
  • Dawn (Xenogenesis #1) - by Octavia Butler
  • The Metropolitan Man (Fan Fiction) - by Alexander Wales
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow (Non-Fiction) - by Daniel Kahneman
  • Superforecasting (Non-Fiction) - by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner
  • Makers (Fiction) - by Cory Doctorow
  • Rip Foster in Ride the Gray Planet - by Harold L. Goodwin

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:26 | Votes:53

posted by cmn32480 on Monday November 13 2017, @11:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the Detroit-on-another-deathwatch-and-still-doesn't-know-it dept.

The BBC and many other sources report:

The US car industry will be wrecked if President Trump relaxes emissions standards, California's governor says.

Jerry Brown said China would dominate car manufacture because it was heavily promoting the electric vehicles that would dominate the future.

He said huge investment was needed on electric vehicles, along with federal rules to encourage their purchase.

He said President Trump and US car-makers were "half asleep" and hadn't understood the scale of the challenge.

He told BBC Radio 4's Costing the Earth: "There will be a serious threat to the US auto industry.

Unlike many in Silicon Valley, Gov. Brown seems to want the USA car industry to survive this Chinese nationally supported onslaught.

While not specifically mentioned in the article, China is working on cars at all price points, not just early adopters that can afford a Tesla or other luxury car. The Chinese stuff may be junk now (think about the batteries in Chinese "hoverboards") but it won't be for long, they learn fast. Here's a little minivan that's headed to production,

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Monday November 13 2017, @10:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the go-back-to-doing-it-the-old-fashioned-way dept.

Connected sex toys recorded intimate sessions without consent

Days ago, a Redditor discovered that their Lovense remote control app was unknowingly recording audio of a six-minute intimate session between the user and their significant other. It happened while they used the app to control the Lovense vibrator it's paired with, and it saved the recording to a local file buried in the phone's media storage. Another commenter, claiming to be a Lovense representative, said these recordings are the result of a "minor software bug."

Lovense: "Use teledildonics to improve your sex life!"

Previously: Vibrator Maker Pays $3.75 Million Settlement Over Data Collection
Pornhub's Newest Videos Can Reach Out and Touch You
Sex Toys Are Just as Poorly-Secured as the Rest of the Internet of Broken Things

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Monday November 13 2017, @08:27PM   Printer-friendly
from the spending-these-dollars-makes-sense dept.

In-depth study: Commercial cargo program a bargain for NASA

It has generally been assumed that NASA will save money by spurring the development of services by US companies to supply the International Space Station, but such conclusions have largely been based on estimates. Now, a rigorous new review authored by a NASA analyst, and published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, offers a clear answer to this question.

According to the new research paper by Edgar Zapata, who works at Kennedy Space Center, the supply services offered by SpaceX and Orbital ATK have cost NASA two to three times less than if the space agency had continued to fly the space shuttle. For his analysis, Zapata attempted to make an "apples to apples" comparison between the commercial vehicles, through June 2017, and the space shuttle.

Specifically, the analysis of development and operational expenses, as well as vehicle failures, found that SpaceX had cost NASA about $89,000 per kg of cargo delivered to the space station. By the same methodology, he found Orbital ATK had cost $135,000 per kg. Had the shuttle continued to fly, and deliver cargo via its Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, it would have cost $272,000 per kg.

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posted by cmn32480 on Monday November 13 2017, @06:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the what's-old-is-still-old-but-they-are-making-more dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

National Audio Co. is the only company in the U.S. that produces cassette tape. Now, as cassette tapes enjoy a resurgence in popularity, National Audio has less than a year's supply left of the stuff, The Wall Street Journal reports.

For the last 15 years, National Audio's co-owner and president Steve Stepp has been clinging to his company's dwindling supply of music-quality magnetic tape. In 2014, National Audio's South Korean supplier stopped making the material, so Stepp bought out their remaining stock before they shuttered — and has been left with a shrinking stockpile ever since.

Although the demand for tape has increased in recent years, the quality and supply has not; National Audio has long relied on outdated gear that Stepp jokes is "the finest equipment the 1960s has to offer." That's why the company — which makes cassettes for everyone from indie bands to Metallica — is planning to build the U.S.'s first high-grade tape manufacturing line in decades.

Crap! Where am I going to store my TRS-80 programs now?


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday November 13 2017, @05:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the losing-money-each-ride-but-will-make-it-up-in-volume dept.

Uber board strikes agreement to pave way for SoftBank investment

Uber Technologies Inc's warring board members have struck a peace deal that allows a multibillion-dollar investment by SoftBank Group Corp to proceed, and which would resolve a legal battle between former Chief Executive Travis Kalanick and a prominent shareholder.

Venture capital firm Benchmark, an early investor with a board seat in the ride-services company, and Kalanick have reached an agreement over terms of the SoftBank investment, which could be worth up to $10 billion, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The Uber board first agreed more than a month ago to bring in SoftBank as an investor and board member, but negotiations have been slowed by ongoing fighting between Benchmark and Kalanick. The agreement struck on Sunday removed the final obstacle to allowing SoftBank to proceed with an offer to buy to[sic] stock.

Also at TechCrunch.

Related: Softbank to Invest $50 Billion in the US
SoftBank's $80-100 Billion "Vision Fund" Takes Shape
SoftBank May Sell 25% of ARM to Vision Fund; Chairman Meets With Saudi King
SoftBank Acquires Boston Dynamics and Schaft From Google
Travis Kalanick Appoints Two New Uber Board Members in "Power Play"
Saudi Arabia Planning $500 Billion Megacity and Business Zone

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday November 13 2017, @03:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the taking-off-your-hat dept.

It's time to upgrade my phone. I'm paying $80 a year on Page Plus (Verizon) with a Window 6.x phone (before tiles, has a start menu). I'm trying to find a phone which will keep my data safe and that seems far more difficult and expensive than it should, so I'm asking you, my fellow purple people eaters Soylentils, to aid me in my mundane quest. My primary use will be GPS/navigation, listening to podcasts, and making phone calls. A secondary use is managing email from multiple accounts. I do require the Google Voice app as I have a couple phone numbers from two side businesses. I'd like to be able to toggle between a VPN connection and a normal connection, but that's not a requirement. I prefer longer battery life. My Win phone can go over a week without charging if I all I do on it is make phone calls. I'm going to be living on a college campus so WiFi will normally be available. I don't want to be buying a new phone every couple years. I've had the Win phone for perhaps 6 years.

IPhones have been in the news for being difficult for state-actors to hack into, but app permissions and data can't be faked nor do I know of any OSS movement on the iOS platform. I assume Androids can be instantly cracked by state-actors, but they have some end-user programs to help prevent apps from spying on you. I'd like it if my address book, location, and media was secure from data mining apps. Do I really need to make the choice between data privacy and state privacy? Though since companies have no issue selling data to the state, is my only choice data privacy?

My ideal choice would be a pocket sized piece of hardware that runs Debian, makes phone calls, lets me install standard Linux programs, and doesn't cost more than a laptop. Though if I can connect a screen and keyboard to it and do Python/Java/C++ development then perhaps I'll pay high-end laptop prices. I've seen failed attempts at creating such a device but no successful ones.

Help me dear readers, you're not my only hope.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday November 13 2017, @02:06PM   Printer-friendly
from the cleaning-up dept.

Claiming a shortage of workers for the hospitality industry, Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club has requested and obtained permission to hire 70 foreign workers. The claim of a shortage of available workers is disputed:

'"We currently have 5,136 qualified candidates in Palm Beach County for various hospitality positions listed in the Employ Florida state jobs database," CareerSource spokesman Tom Veenstra said Friday.'

70 is a slight increase over last year, when 64 foreign workers were hired.

"Making America Great Again" by hiring foreigners? Perhaps what is required is higher pay, not foreigners.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Monday November 13 2017, @12:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the tech-industry-siesta dept.

Internet Giants Support SESTA

Tech companies are cheering on a bill that guts internet protections

In a unanimous vote, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (or SESTA), clearing the way for a full vote by the House and Senate. As Congress wrestles over tax reform and the debt ceiling, it's still unclear when SESTA will reach a larger vote, and it still faces stern opposition from tech policy organizations and even some anti-trafficking groups. But with more than 30 senators already signed on, the bill seems primed to pass whenever it reaches the floor.

The biggest twist has come from the industry itself. After weeks of debate, a string of tech companies and industry groups have come around to supporting SESTA, leaving critics with few allies and narrowing options. It's an unusual stance for the tech industry to take on a bill that some say would strike at some of the internet's most fundamental protections. But as Google and Facebook face mounting pressure for regulation, SESTA increasingly seems like a workable compromise, giving prosecutors a new tool while fending off more onerous regulation. For anyone dealing with user-generated content, the result could be a dangerous new source of legal risk, one that only the largest companies are fully equipped to handle.

Also at EFF and Marketplace. Wikipedia.

SESTA Could Destroy Wikipedia

Wikipedia Warns That SESTA Could Destroy Wikipedia

For many people supporting SESTA, the discussion seems to start and end with "sex trafficking is bad, this bill says it targets sex trafficking and therefore it's good" (and maybe with a touch of "if it hurts big internet companies, that's fine, they deserve it.") But, the impact of SESTA goes way beyond that (not to mention it doesn't actually do anything to stop sex trafficking and could make the problem worse). It's good to see Wikimedia speak up -- and hopefully someone in Congress will finally start to understand why SESTA is such a bad bill.

[Update: With thanks to lgsoynews, Here is the link to the text of the bill: and, another link, from the EFF, with some IMPORTANT context in the beginning (missing from the official link) : (pdf)


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by martyb on Monday November 13 2017, @11:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the I-prefer-the-Age-of-Aquarius dept.

Bob Lutz, former General Motors Vice Chair, opines:

It saddens me to say it, but we are approaching the end of the automotive era.

The auto industry is on an accelerating change curve. For hundreds of years, the horse was the prime mover of humans and for the past 120 years it has been the automobile.

Now we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile because travel will be in standardized modules.

The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command. You will call for it, it will arrive at your location, you'll get in, input your destination and go to the freeway.
The vehicles, however, will no longer be driven by humans because in 15 to 20 years — at the latest — human-driven vehicles will be legislated off the highways.

The tipping point will come when 20 to 30 percent of vehicles are fully autonomous. Countries will look at the accident statistics and figure out that human drivers are causing 99.9 percent of the accidents.

Is he right? Is the age of the automobile coming to an end?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday November 13 2017, @09:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the good-fast-and-cheap? dept.

A small team of researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio has released their source code for a drop-in malloc replacement and published a paper, FreeGuard: A Faster Secure Heap Allocator (warning for PDF), describing it in detail. It utilizes a novel memory layout, reduces a large number of mmap calls, borrows the "freelist" idea from performance-oriented allocators, and introduces a range of additional security capabilities, all with only a very small performance hit. The paper makes frequent comparisons to the Linux and OpenBSD allocators.

In spite of years of improvements to software security, heap-related attacks still remain a severe threat. One reason is that many existing memory allocators fall short in a variety of aspects. For instance, performance-oriented allocators are designed with very limited countermeasures against attacks, but secure allocators generally suffer from significant performance overhead, e.g., running up to 10× slower. This paper, therefore, introduces FreeGuard, a secure memory allocator that prevents or reduces a wide range of heap-related attacks, such as heap overflows, heap over-reads, use-after-frees, as well as double and invalid frees. FreeGuard has similar performance to the default Linux allocator, with less than 2% overhead on average, but provides significant improvement to security guarantees. FreeGuard also addresses multiple implementation issues of existing secure allocators, such as the issue of scalability. Experimental results demonstrate that FreeGuard is very effective in defending against a variety of heap-related attacks.

The code itself is dual licensed GPL and proprietary.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday November 13 2017, @07:06AM   Printer-friendly
from the glam-shots dept.

ALMA's image of red giant star gives a surprising glimpse of the sun's future

A team of astronomers led by Wouter Vlemmings, Chalmers University of Technology, have used the [Atacama Large Millimeter Array] to make the sharpest observations yet of a star with the same starting mass as the Sun. The new images show for the first time details on the surface of the red giant W Hydrae, 320 light years distant in the constellation of Hydra, the Water Snake. W Hydrae is an example of an AGB (asymptotic giant branch) star. Such stars are cool, bright, old and lose mass via stellar winds. The name derives from their position on the famous Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, which classifies stars according to their brightness and temperature.

[...] Alma's images provide the clearest view yet of the surface of a red giant with a similar mass to the Sun. Earlier sharp images have shown details on much more massive, red supergiant stars like Betelgeuse and Antares. The observations have also surprised the scientists. The presence of an unexpectedly compact and bright spot provides evidence that the star has surprisingly hot gas in a layer above the star's surface: a chromosphere. "Our measurements of the bright spot suggest there are powerful shock waves in the star's atmosphere that reach higher temperatures than are predicted by current theoretical models for AGB stars," says Theo Khouri, astronomer at Chalmers and member of the team. An alternative possibility is at least as surprising: that the star was undergoing a giant flare when the observations were made.

Other best-ever images of stars. W Hydrae is the 7th brightest star in the night sky.

The shock-heated atmosphere of an asymptotic giant branch star resolved by ALMA (DOI: 10.1038/s41550-017-0288-9) (DX)

Previously: Very Large Telescope Interferometer Captures Best Ever Image of Another Star (Antares)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday November 13 2017, @04:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the converged-gnu/linux-teased-part-2 dept.

El Reg reports

Ubuntu--all of it--running Eclipse on a phone, and a DeX dock

Video Samsung's shown a little more of its plans to run fully-fledged Linux desktops on its 8-series Galaxy smartmobes.

Samsung teased the idea of Linux on its flagship phones in October 2017, promising that Linux would run in your hand or, if you use its DeX dock, in full desktop mode on a monitor. Now it's released [a video] to show off its idea.

Described as a "Concept Demo", the vid has a couple of interesting moments.

The first comes at the 12 second mark, after the "Linux on Galaxy" app has been run. At this point we see Ubuntu 16 listed, along with a plus sign to add other OSes to the app. This appears to make good on Samsung's promise that you'll be able to have multiple OSes in your Galaxy.

Not long after the app boots, an Ubuntu desktop duly appears and runs Eclipse [the FOSS integrated development environment].

In its original announcement of Linux on Galaxy, Samsung said it was aimed at developers wanting Linux wherever they may roam, on the off-chance they feel like doing a spot of coding on a very small screen. At 1:09 in the video below, the company puts some meat on those bones by suggesting Linux on a smartphone means developers can "use classic IDE desktop IDE for native ARM development."

Which sounds a bit more like it as The Register can imagine developers using a handset to test an app and tweaking it on the run, popping a phone in and out of a dock when a proper look at the code is required

Samsung's still not saying when Linux on Galaxy will debut, but at least now we know it's more than[sic] advanced than mere announcementware. The company's still offering the chance to sign up for more info about the tool, here.

Previous: Samsung to Give Linux Desktop Experience to Smartphone Users

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Monday November 13 2017, @02:24AM   Printer-friendly
from the flame-on dept.

According to The Missoulian (archive):

Several of Missoula's top federal fire scientists have been denied permission to attend the International Fire Congress later this month, leading conference organizers to suspect censorship of climate-related research.

"Anyone who has anything related to climate-change research — right away was rejected," said Timothy Ingalsbee of the Association for Fire Ecology, a nonprofit group putting on the gathering. Ingalsbee noted that was his personal opinion, and that the AFE [Association for Fire Ecology] is concerned that a federal travel restriction policy may be more to blame.

The Missoulian also said (archive):

The scientists no longer attending include Matt Jolly, who was to present new work on "Climate-induced variations in global severe weather fire conditions," Karin Riley on "Fuel treatment effects at the landscape level: burn probabilities, flame lengths and fire suppression costs," Mike Battaglia on "Adaptive silviculture for climate change: Preparing dry mixed conifer forests for a more frequent fire regime," and Dave Calkin, who was working on ways to manage the human response to wildfire.

takyon: Also at Scientific American (thanks to another Anonymous Coward).

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday November 13 2017, @12:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the standardizing-the-bugs dept.

Submitted via IRC for soycow1984

Recent academic work focused on weak cryptographic protections in the implementation of the IEEE P1735 standard has been escalated to an alert published Friday by the Department of Homeland Security.

DHS' US-CERT warned the IEEE P1735 standard for encrypting electronic-design intellectual property and the management of access rights for such IP is flawed.

"In the most egregious cases, enable attack vectors that allow recovery of the entire underlying plaintext IP," US-CERT said in its alert, citing researchers that found the flaw. "Implementations of IEEE P1735 may be weak to cryptographic attacks that allow an attacker to obtain plaintext intellectual property without the key, among other impacts."

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) P1735 standard flaw was first reported by a team of University of Florida researchers. In September, the researchers released a paper titled Standardizing Bad Cryptographic Practice (PDF).

In all, seven CVE IDs are assigned to the flaw and document the weakness in the P1735 standard.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday November 12 2017, @10:10PM   Printer-friendly
from the Nu-Skin dept.

'Butterfly child' given life-saving skin

A child has been given a new genetically modified skin that covers 80% of his body, in a series of lifesaving operations. Hassan, who lives in Germany, has a genetic disease - junctional epidermolysis bullosa - that leaves his skin as fragile as a butterfly's wings. A piece of his skin was taken, its DNA was repaired in the laboratory and the modified skin grafted back on. After nearly two years, the new skin appears completely normal.

[...] Normally, the different layers of the skin are held together by "anchoring proteins". But the junctional epidermolysis bullosa means Hassan's DNA lacks the instructions for sticking his epidermis (the surface layer) to the dermis (the next one down). There is no cure, and about four in 10 patients do not even reach adolescence.

[...] [A] team of biologists specialising in gene therapy were brought in from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, in Italy - and the parents gave approval for them to try an experimental therapy.

In September 2015, a 4 sq cm (0.6 sq inches) patch of skin was taken from an area where the epidermis was still intact. The biopsy was then infected with a customised virus. Viruses are good at getting inside cells, and this one contained the missing instructions for binding the layers of skin together.

The now genetically modified skin cells were grown to make skin grafts totalling 0.85 sq m (9 sq ft). It took three operations over that winter to cover 80% of the child's body in the new skin. Hassan's father said his son had spent months covered in so many bandages he had looked like a mummy. But 21 months later, the skin is functioning normally with no sign of blistering. You can even pinch the once incredibly fragile skin, with no sign of damage.

[...] An analysis of the structure of Hassan's skin, detailed in the journal Nature [DOI: 10.1038/nature24487] [DX], has discovered a group of long-lived stem cells are that constantly renewing his genetically modified skin.

Also at NYT and The Washington Post (archive).

Original Submission