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2019-01-01 00:00:00 ..
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posted by Snow on Wednesday January 09 2019, @10:58PM   Printer-friendly
from the i-woudn't-want-to-the-that-it-guy dept.

El Chapo Trial: How a Colombian I.T. Guy Helped U.S. Authorities Take Down the Kingpin

In February 2010, an undercover F.B.I. agent met in a Manhattan hotel with a Colombian info-tech expert who had been the target of a sensitive investigation. The I.T. specialist, Cristian Rodriguez, had recently developed an extraordinary product: an encrypted communications system for Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo.

Posing as a Russian mobster, the undercover agent told Mr. Rodriguez he was interested in acquiring a similar system. He wanted a way — or so he said — to talk with his associates without law enforcement listening in.

So began a remarkable clandestine operation that in a little more than a year allowed the F.B.I. to crack Mr. Guzmán's covert network and ultimately capture as many as 200 digital phone calls of him chatting with his underlings, planning ton-sized drug deals and even discussing illicit payoffs to Mexican officials. The hours of Mr. Guzmán speaking openly about the innermost details of his empire not only represented the most damaging evidence introduced so far at his drug trial in New York, but were also one of the most extensive wiretaps of a criminal defendant since the Mafia boss John Gotti was secretly recorded in the Ravenite Social Club.

[...] In a daring move that placed his life in danger, the I.T. consultant eventually gave the F.B.I. his system's secret encryption keys in 2011 after he had moved the network's servers from Canada to the Netherlands during what he told the cartel's leaders was a routine upgrade.

Previously: Sean Penn Interview Reportedly Led to Capture of Mexican Drug Lord

Original Submission

posted by Snow on Wednesday January 09 2019, @09:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the prenups-are-very-high-IQ dept.

"Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie are divorcing after 25 years of marriage, the Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner has announced, potentially leading to the costliest divorce settlement in history with $137 billion at stake."

The richest man in the world, currently worth about $137 billion, according to Bloomberg, made the divorce announcement on Wednesday on his Twitter.

[...]The split could lead [to] the costliest divorce is[sic] history, even if the couple doesn’t divide the money equally. There are no reports indicating the couple has a prenuptial agreement, meaning the wealth accumulated during their marriage would have to be split evenly.

Also covered by CBC, CNN, and CNBC among other news outlets.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday January 09 2019, @06:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the if-you-don't-like-it-you-can-keep-it dept.

Samsung is facing a battle with end users concerning its agreements with software companies to set some preinstalled software on Samsung mobile phones to be undeletable. Users have found that applications like Facebook can't be uninstalled, which has caused some distress given the recent data breaches and lack of respect Facebook has shown towards its users in the past decade. Some users have sworn off getting another Samsung phone if apps can't be uninstalled. The argument that users can just hack the phone to get root access, and then force remove the apps does not hold with non-technical users and anyone who can't risk bricking their device. Samsung has refused to comment on this, and specifically will not provide details about agreements it has with software vendors to force their applications to always be installed on Samsung phones. By comparison, the iPhone does not ever come with pre-installed third party applications.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday January 09 2019, @04:15PM   Printer-friendly
from the rising dept.

Dr. Lisa Su, the president and CEO of AMD, will be joined by various guests to discuss new computing tech and its applications—from solving world issues to shaping the future of video games, virtual reality, and more. Read on for a rundown of when and where to watch the keynote live.

AMD will hold its CES 2019 keynote on Wednesday, January 9 at 9am PT/12pm ET/5pm UK (Thursday, January 10 at 4am AET). The event will be streamed live from the Venetian in Las Vegas, and viewable here on IGN.

AMD YouTube stream. Also at AnandTech, Tom's Hardware, and Wccftech.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday January 09 2019, @02:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the starving-programmers dept.

Bruce Schneier thinks the problem of finding software vulnerabilities seems well-suited for machine-learning (ML) systems:

Going through code line by line is just the sort of tedious problem that computers excel at, if we can only teach them what a vulnerability looks like. There are challenges with that, of course, but there is already a healthy amount of academic literature on the topic -- and research is continuing. There's every reason to expect ML systems to get better at this as time goes on, and some reason to expect them to eventually become very good at it.

Finding vulnerabilities can benefit both attackers and defenders, but it's not a fair fight. When an attacker's ML system finds a vulnerability in software, the attacker can use it to compromise systems. When a defender's ML system finds the same vulnerability, he or she can try to patch the system or program network defenses to watch for and block code that tries to exploit it.

But when the same system is in the hands of a software developer who uses it to find the vulnerability before the software is ever released, the developer fixes it so it can never be used in the first place. The ML system will probably be part of his or her software design tools and will automatically find and fix vulnerabilities while the code is still in development.

Original Submission

posted by The Mighty Buzzard on Wednesday January 09 2019, @12:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the better-late-than-never dept.

While shutting down terminal windows to the SN servers this morning, one of them had the create table syntax for the comments table still on screen. I gave it a read through just because it was there and noticed that there wasn't an index for the opid (top level comment id for speeding up entire thread pulling) column. So I got some before numbers, added one, and ran some After tests. Heavily commented stories show a 50-150% pages-per-second speed increase in threaded views. Low hanging fruit FTW.

posted by takyon on Wednesday January 09 2019, @09:35AM   Printer-friendly
from the marketing-rEvolution dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984

AT&T misleads customers by updating phones with fake 5G icon

AT&T has updated three smartphones from Samsung and LG to make them show 5G connectivity logos, even though none of them are capable of connecting to 5G networks.

Now, when the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, LG V30, or LG V40 are connected to portions of AT&T's LTE network that have received some speed-boosting updates, they'll show an icon that says "5G E" instead of "LTE."

That "E" in the "5G" logo is supposed to tip you off that this isn't real 5G — just some marketing nonsense. But there's no way of knowing that just from looking at the logo. The "E" is smaller than the rest of the icon. And even if you do learn that "5G E" stands for "5G Evolution," it isn't immediately clear what that means.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday January 09 2019, @07:52AM   Printer-friendly
from the five-fingers-make-a-fist dept.

Linux reaches the big five (point) oh

Linux fans will be relieved to know that while 2019 should feature a gentler, softer and less sweary Torvalds, the man's ability to make arbitrary decisions remains undiminished. The reason version 4.21 became 5.0 is because "I ran out of fingers and toes to count on."

As Torvalds observed, there are a ton of changes in the new kernel with toys aplenty. Raspberry Pi fans get touchscreen support and there is the usual array of GPU and CPU enhancements, including some early support for Nvidia's Turing GPUs, which will be of interest to those following CES 2019.

AMD has also seen some love in the form of tweaks to the handling of CPU microcode as well as the arrival of FreeSync, which synchronises the refresh rate of a compatible display to the frame rate of a similarly equipped Radeon card.

Not to be left out, work has continued on Intel's Icelake graphics and, of course, ongoing mitigation for Spectre V2 and its ilk. NXP PowerPC processor received mitigation this time around while Linux's networking subsystem has been tweaked to at least partially deal with the performance hit introduced in 2018 as a result of handling the Meltdown issue.

You know you want to - crank up the theme song!

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday January 09 2019, @06:07AM   Printer-friendly
from the double-double-toil-and-trouble-fire-burn-and-caldron-bubble dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984

Cryptocurrency trading portal Coinbase delisted today the Ethereum Classic (ETC) currency after detecting a series of double-spend attacks over the last three days.

In layman terms, double-spend attacks are when a malicious actor gains the majority computational power inside a blockchain, which they then use to enforce unauthorized transactions over legitimate ones.

According to a security alert published today by Coinbase security engineer Mark Nesbitt, this is exactly what's been happening on the Ethereum Classic blockchain for the past three days, since January 5.

[...] The ETC cryptocurrency was created in August 2016, shortly after the infamous DAO hack, and was one of the first forks of the more established Ether (ETH).

[...] Update, January 8, 06:00 AM ET: Bitfly, a fellow cryptocurrency trading platform, has also confirmed Coinbase's report. So did the Ethereum Classic team, which was immediately criticized for not spotting the attack on its own network in the first place. Coinbase, too, was criticized, but for failing to reveal the double-spend attacks on Saturday when they first happened, leaving ETC users at risk for three days, for no good reason. Coinbase also updated its original report with details on another 12 double-spend attacks, bringing the total of stolen funds to 219,500 ETC (~$1.1 million).


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday January 09 2019, @04:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the need-moah-faster-computes dept.


it's 2019. I'm at CES, and VR is an idea gathering dust for all the wrong reasons, lost in a sea of strange peripherals and pipe dreams. Self-contained VR devices, like Oculus Quest and the newly announced HTC Vive Cosmos, are en route, but it feels too little, too late. VR has lost the attention of mainstream audiences.

In 2019, VR is a sideshow in a theme park, a marketing stunt, a slide in a PR powerpoint presentation, a niche hobby for people locked in rooms with a ton of money to spend, and -- worse -- no one seems to know what direction we're headed in, or even what virtual reality should be.

TFA cites motion sickness as a continuing issue, one of the same reasons VR didn't catch on 20 years ago. What will it take for VR to finally realize the potential everyone keeps believing it has?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday January 09 2019, @02:53AM   Printer-friendly

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984

If you’re a GitHub user, but you don’t pay, this is a good week. Historically, GitHub always offered free accounts but the caveat was that your code had to be public. To get private repositories, you had to pay. Starting tomorrow, that limitation is gone. Free GitHub users now get unlimited private projects with up to three collaborators.

The amount of collaborators is really the only limitation here and there’s no change to how the service handles public repositories, which can still have unlimited collaborators.

This feels like a sign of goodwill on behalf of Microsoft, which closed its acquisition of GitHub last October, with former Xamarin CEO Nat Friedman taking over as GitHub’s CEO. Some developers were rather nervous about the acquisition (though it feels like most have come to terms with it). It’s also a fair guess to assume that GitHub’s model for monetizing the service is a bit different from Microsoft’s. Microsoft doesn’t need to try to get money from small teams — that’s not where the bulk of its revenue comes from. Instead, the company is mostly interested in getting large enterprises to use the service.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday January 09 2019, @01:16AM   Printer-friendly
from the make-hay-while-the-sun-shines dept.

Scientists affiliated with the RIPE (Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency) Project at the University of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service report that they have been able to increase photosynthetic efficiency in genetically engineered tobacco plants by 40% over normal tobacco plants.
They did this by working around a well known problem in many types of plants. Instead of only taking in CO2, the main enzyme involved, rubisco, also can bind oxygen. This not only doesn't produce the usual carbohydrate that is the base of the food chain, it creates toxic side products that the plants have to spend energy to break down into safe forms.
The key thing they show is that they can do this not in the laboratory, but in ordinary fields here in Central Illinois. Tobacco is a common "lab rat" plant, so it's not about the tobacco industry. Many of our biggest crops (so called C3 plants) waste energy this way. If they can do it for tobacco, they probably can do this for other plants as well.


Original Science Paper (may be paywalled):

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday January 08 2019, @11:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the einstein-dismisses-india-scientists dept.


Some academics at the annual Indian Science Congress dismissed the findings of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.

Hindu mythology and religion-based theories have increasingly become part of the Indian Science Congress agenda.

But experts said remarks at this year's summit were especially ludicrous.

[...] The head of a southern Indian university cited an old Hindu text as proof that stem cell research was discovered in India thousands of years ago.

G Nageshwar Rao, vice chancellor of Andhra University, also said a demon king from the Hindu religious epic, Ramayana, had 24 types of aircraft and a network of landing strips in modern day Sri Lanka.

Another scientist from a university in the southern state of Tamil Nadu told conference attendees that Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein were both wrong and that gravitational waves should be renamed "Narendra Modi Waves" [Narendra Modi is the current Prime Minister of India].

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday January 08 2019, @10:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the seeing-the-future dept.

CES 2019 Quick Bytes: Consumer 10nm is Coming with Intel's Ice Lake

We've been on Intel's case for years to tell us when its 10nm parts are coming to the mass market. Technically Intel already shipped its first 10nm processor, Cannon Lake, but this was low volume and limited to specific geographic markets. This time Intel is promising that its first volume consumer processor on 10nm will be Ice Lake. It should be noted that Intel hasn't put a date on Ice Lake launching, but has promised 10nm on shelves by the end of 2019. It has several products that could qualify for that, but Ice Lake is the likely suspect.

At Intel's Architecture Day in December, we saw chips designated as 'Ice Lake-U', built for 15W TDPs with four cores using the new Sunny Cove microarchitecture and Gen11 graphics. Intel went into some details about this part, which we can share with you today.

The 15W processor is a quad core part supporting two threads per core, and will have 64 EUs of Gen11 graphics. 64 EUs will be the standard 'GT2' mainstream configuration for this generation, up from 24 EUs today. In order to drive that many execution units, Intel stated that they need 50-60 GB/s of memory bandwidth, which will come from LPDDR4X memory. In order for those numbers to line up, they will need LPDDR4X-3200 at a minimum, which gives 51.2 GB/s. [...] For connectivity, the chips will support Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) if the laptop manufacturer uses the correct interface module, but the support for Wi-Fi 6 is in the chip. The processor also supports native Thunderbolt 3 over USB Type-C, marking the first Intel chip with native TB3 support.

CES 2019 Quick Bytes: Intel's 10nm Hybrid x86 Foveros Chip is Called Lakefield

The reason this chip exists is because one of Intel's customers requested a processor with integrated graphics that can idle at 2 milliwatts. After a few years of engineering, Intel is finally there. There's also another trick at play here.

The chip uses a combination of Intel's high power and low power cores. Inside the new chip, which Intel announced at CES is called Lakefield, is one of its high-powered Core architecture Sunny Cove cores, and four low-powered Tremont Atom cores. This is the first Intel chip, or consumer chip at least, to use both core designs at once. This is fairly common for Arm chips in smartphones, but we have not seen it yet in the PC space. We have a block diagram showing cache layouts and things, and at the first showing, Intel's Jim Keller said that the company were having fun with the technology with designing things that could become future parts.

Intel is also announcing an "AI" focused chip that will compete with Nvidia's similar GPU products:

Intel has just announced a brand new class of AI processor: the Intel Nervana NNP-1. This is one of the first truly powerful AI processors that Intel has promised to produce. All previous AI chips the company made were in the mWatt of power, this one is going to be in the "hundreds of watts" of power. While no specific details were given in the demo, it was inferred that the technology will take advantage of Intel's DL Boost technology to offer a CPU based competitor to GPUs.

See also: Intel's Keynote at CES 2019: 10nm, Ice Lake, Lakefield, Snow Ridge, Cascade Lake
Intel's New 9th Gen Desktop CPUs: i3-9350KF, i5-9400F, i5-9400, i5-9600KF, i7-9700KF, i9-9900KF

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday January 08 2019, @08:25PM   Printer-friendly
from the scoping-things-out dept.

Submitted via IRC for takyon

New BGU System Produces High-Res Images at Low Cost

An article in the December issue of the journal Optica demonstrated that nanosatellites the size of milk cartons arranged in a spherical (annular) configuration were able to capture images that match the resolution of the full-frame, lens-based or concave mirror systems used on today's telescopes.

BGU Ph.D. candidate Angika Bulbul, working under the supervision of Prof. Joseph Rosen of BGU's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, explains the groundbreaking nature of this study, saying it proves that by using a partial aperture, even a high-resolution image can be generated. This reduces the cost of traditionally large telescopic lenses.

"We found that you don't need the entire telescope lens to obtain the right images. Even by using a partial aperture area of a lens, as low as 0.43%, we managed to obtain a similar image resolution to the full aperture area of mirror or lens-based imaging system. The huge cost, time and material needed for gigantic traditional optical space telescopes with large curved mirrors can be slashed," she said.

Original Submission