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During the COVID-19 lockdowns, on average, the time you spend in front of a computer has

  • Increased greatly
  • Increased somewhat
  • Not changed
  • Decreased somewhat
  • Decreased greatly
  • It's complicated (explain)
  • I don't have a computer you insensitive clod

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:42 | Votes:155

posted by martyb on Saturday August 01, @09:47PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the how-long-would-it-take-to-flap-its-wings? dept.

[From ESO (European Southern Observatory).]

Stunning Space Butterfly Captured by ESO Telescope:

Resembling a butterfly with its symmetrical structure, beautiful colours, and intricate patterns, this striking bubble of gas — known as NGC 2899 — appears to float and flutter across the sky in this new picture from ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). This object has never before been imaged in such striking detail, with even the faint outer edges of the planetary nebula glowing over the background stars.

NGC 2899's vast swathes of gas extend up to a maximum of two light-years from its centre, glowing brightly in front of the stars of the Milky Way as the gas reaches temperatures upwards of ten thousand degrees. The high temperatures are due to the large amount of radiation from the nebula's parent star, which causes the hydrogen gas in the nebula to glow in a reddish halo around the oxygen gas, in blue.

This object, located between 3000 and 6500 light-years away in the Southern constellation of Vela (The Sails), has two central stars, which are believed to give it its nearly symmetric appearance. After one star reached the end of its life and cast off its outer layers, the other star now interferes with the flow of gas, forming the two-lobed shape seen here. Only about 10–20% of planetary nebulae [1] display this type of bipolar shape.

Astronomers were able to capture this highly detailed image of NGC 2899 using the FORS instrument installed on UT1 (Antu), one of the four 8.2-metre telescopes that make up ESO's VLT in Chile. Standing for FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph, this high-resolution instrument was one of the first to be installed on ESO's VLT and is behind numerous beautiful images and discoveries from ESO. FORS has contributed to observations of light from a gravitational wave source, has researched the first known interstellar asteroid, and has been used to study in depth the physics behind the formation of complex planetary nebulae.

[...] [1] Unlike what their common name suggests, planetary nebulae have nothing to do with planets. The first astronomers to observe them merely described them as planet-like in appearance. They are instead formed when ancient stars with up to 6 times the mass of our Sun reach the end of their lives, collapse, and blow off expanding shells of gas, rich in heavy elements. Intense ultraviolet radiation energises and lights up these moving shells, causing them to shine brightly for thousands of years until they ultimately disperse slowly through space, making planetary nebulae relatively short-lived phenomena on astronomical timescales.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Saturday August 01, @07:29PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the chip-shot dept.

Is Your Chip Card Secure? Much Depends on Where You Bank:

Traditional payment cards encode cardholder account data in plain text on a magnetic stripe, which can be read and recorded by skimming devices or malicious software surreptitiously installed in payment terminals. That data can then be encoded onto anything else with a magnetic stripe and used to place fraudulent transactions.

Newer, chip-based cards employ a technology known as EMV that encrypts the account data stored in the chip.

[...] Virtually all chip-based cards still have much of the same data that’s stored in the chip encoded on a magnetic stripe on the back of the card.

[...] But there are important differences between the cardholder data stored on EMV chips versus magnetic stripes. One of those is a component in the chip known as an integrated circuit card verification value or “iCVV” for short — also known as a “dynamic CVV.”

The iCVV differs from the card verification value (CVV) stored on the physical magnetic stripe, and protects against the copying of magnetic-stripe data from the chip and the use of that data to create counterfeit magnetic stripe cards.

[...] However, for EMV’s security protections to work, the back-end systems deployed by card-issuing financial institutions are supposed to check that when a chip card is dipped into a chip reader, only the iCVV is presented; and conversely, that only the CVV is presented when the card is swiped. If somehow these do not align for a given transaction type, the financial institution is supposed to decline the transaction.

The trouble is that not all financial institutions have properly set up their systems this way. Unsurprisingly, thieves have known about this weakness for years. In 2017, I wrote about the increasing prevalence of “shimmers,” high-tech card skimming devices made to intercept data from chip card transactions.

More recently, researchers at Cyber R&D Labs published a paper detailing how they tested 11 chip card implementations from 10 different banks in Europe and the U.S. The researchers found they could harvest data from four of them and create cloned magnetic stripe cards that were successfully used to place transactions.

There are now strong indications the same method detailed by Cyber R&D Labs is being used by point-of-sale (POS) malware to capture EMV transaction data that can then be resold and used to fabricate magnetic stripe copies of chip-based cards.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Saturday August 01, @05:08PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the don't-look-at-the-elephant-in-the-room^W-library dept.

Internet Archive Tells Court its Digital Library is Protected Under Fair Use

The Internet Archive has filed its answer and affirmative defenses in response to a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by a group of publishers. Among other things, IA believes that its work is protected under the doctrine of fair use and the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA.

[...] The statement spends time explaining the process of CDL – Controlled Digital Lending – noting that the Internet Archive provides a digital alternative to traditional libraries carrying physical books. As such, it "poses no new harm to authors or the publishing industry."

[...] "The Internet Archive has made careful efforts to ensure its uses are lawful. The Internet Archive's CDL program is sheltered by the fair use doctrine, buttressed by traditional library protections. Specifically, the project serves the public interest in preservation, access and research—all classic fair use purposes," IA's answer reads.

"As for its effect on the market for the works in question, the books have already been bought and paid for by the libraries that own them. The public derives tremendous benefit from the program, and rights holders will gain nothing if the public is deprived of this resource."

Internet Archive's Answer and Affirmative Defenses (PDF).

Previously: Internet Archive Suspends E-Book Lending "Waiting Lists" During U.S. National Emergency
Authors Fume as Online Library "Lends" Unlimited Free Books
Publishers Sue the Internet Archive Over its Open Library, Declare it a Pirate Site
Internet Archive Ends "Emergency Library" Early to Appease Publishers
EFF and California Law Firm Durie Tangri Defending Internet Archive from Publisher Lawsuit

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 01, @02:47PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the any-correlation-with-Wooly-Bear-Caterpillars? dept.

North Atlantic climate far more predictable following major scientific breakthrough:

A team of scientists led by UK Met Office has achieved a scientific breakthrough allowing the longer-term prediction of North Atlantic pressure patterns, the key driving force behind winter weather in Europe and eastern North America.

[...] Published in Nature, the study analyzed six decades of climate model data and suggests decadal variations in North Atlantic atmospheric pressure patterns (known as the North Atlantic Oscillation) are highly predictable, enabling advanced warning of whether winters in the coming decade are likely to be stormy, warm and wet or calm, cold and dry.

However, the study revealed that this predictable signal is much smaller than it should be in current climate models. Hence 100 times more ensemble members are required to extract it, and additional steps are needed to balance the effects of winds and greenhouse gasses. The team showed that, by taking these deficiencies into account, skillful predictions of extreme European winter decades are possible.

Journal Reference:
D. M. Smith, A. A. Scaife, R. Eade, et al. North Atlantic climate far more predictable than models imply, Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2525-0)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 01, @12:26PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

One Mystery of Stonehenge’s Origins Has Finally Been Solved:

For more than four centuries, archaeologists and geologists have sought to determine the geographical origins of the stones used to build Stonehenge thousands of years ago. Pinning down the source of the large blocks known as sarsens that form the bulk of the monument has proved especially elusive. Now researchers have resolved the mystery: 50 of the 52 extant sarsens at Stonehenge came from the West Woods site in the English county of Wiltshire, located 25 kilometers to the north of Stonehenge. The findings were published on Wednesday in Science Advances.

[...] The team’s breakthrough came unexpectedly in 2018, when a sample core that had been drilled from one of Stonehenge’s sarsens during a 1958 restoration project was returned to England after it spent 60 years in a private collection. The researchers were granted permission to destroy part of the core for a more detailed analysis. [...] Using two types of mass spectrometry, the team determined the levels of 22 trace elements in the core and compared them with the levels in sarsen samples from 20 different sites dotting southern England. The chemical signature of the core exactly matched that of one of the sites—West Woods, which encompasses about six square kilometers.

The finding “looks to be fairly convincing and fairly conclusive,” says Joshua Pollard, an archaeologist at the University of Southampton in England, who was not involved in the new research. “It’s a major achievement.” Located just south of the River Kennet, West Woods has often been overlooked in archaeological research, he adds.

[...] Future research will seek to uncover the route that the builders of Stonehenge used to transport the stones.

Journal Reference:
David J. Nash, T. Jake R. Ciborowski, J. Stewart Ullyott, et al. Origins of the sarsen megaliths at Stonehenge [open], Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc0133)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 01, @10:05AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the elections-are-coming-up-soon-vs-PGP dept.

Bill Aimed at Ending 'Warrant-Proof' Encryption Introduced in House:

Referred to as the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, the bill aims to put a stop to criminals using “warrant-proof encryption and other technological advances” to hide their activity from authorities, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO), who introduced the bill, said.

“It is time tech companies stand with criminal investigators and the public to make clear they are committed to rooting out perpetrators who use their services to commit horrific crimes. As the digital world advances, so must our legislative solutions to investigate crimes that hit hardest the most vulnerable in our society,” Rep. Wagner commented.

Law enforcement agencies have long argued that strong encryption hinders their ability to conduct successful investigations in certain cases, often asking for backdoors that would provide them fast access to data of interest, but tech companies have opposed these requests, arguing that backdoors would introduce serious security and privacy risks.

The legislation would require tech companies to provide authorities with access to encrypted user data, while also stating that the Attorney General would report on which companies can comply. Furthermore, the government would offer compensation to companies that comply with the legislation.

(2020-07-07) US Senate Panel OK's EARN IT Act
(2020-06-27) Senators Introduce "Balanced" Bill That Aims to End Warrant-Proof Encryption
(2020-06-11) Plundering of Crypto Keys From Ultrasecure SGX Sends Intel Scrambling Again
(2020-06-06) Zoom Says Free Users Won't Get End-to-End Encryption so FBI and Police Can Access Calls
(2020-05-19) AG Barr Seeks 'Legislative Solution' to Make Companies Unlock Phones
(2020-05-19) FBI Successfully Broke Into a Gunman's iPhone, but Still Very Angry at Apple

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 01, @07:41AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the free-as-in-beer dept.

Google One now offers free phone backups up to 15GB on Android and iOS – TechCrunch:

Google One, Google’s subscription program for buying additional storage and live support, is getting an update today that will bring free phone backups for Android and iOS devices to anybody who installs the app — even if they don’t have a paid membership. The catch: While the feature is free, the backups count against your free Google storage allowance of 15GB. If you need more you need — you guessed it — a Google One membership to buy more storage or delete data you no longer need. Paid memberships start at $1.99/month for 100GB.

Last year, paid members already got access to this feature on Android, which stores your texts, contacts, apps, photos and videos in Google’s cloud. The “free” backups are now available to Android users. iOS users will get access to it once the Google One app rolls out on iOS in the near future.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 01, @05:16AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the we-can-do-better dept.

Nautilus has an interesting rundown on how scientific fraud happens and what could possibly be done to correct it written in comic book form. It's a fun little read and oh so true.

The book that it is based on, Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth, is worth reading as well.

Stuart Ritchie is a Lecturer in the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at King's College London. His new book, Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth, explains the ideas in this comic, by Zach Weinersmith, in more detail, telling shocking stories of scientific error and misconduct. It also proposes an abundance of ideas for how to rescue science from its current malaise.

How many Soylentils here are in academia? Have you felt the pressure of "publish or perish"?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 01, @02:53AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the little-by-slow dept.

Intel facing class-action lawsuit over 7nm delay

Intel's revenue was up 20 percent in its Q2 2020 earnings report, but its 7nm processors have been delayed by at least six months because production has fallen a year behind. The subsequent decline in share price resulted in AMD's stock jumping above its rival's for the first time in around 15 years.

On Friday, the Hagens Berman law firm put out a call to Intel investors who suffered significant losses to contact the company for a possible class-action suit. It also seeks people who may be able to assist in its investigation of possible securities fraud.

"Beginning at the Company's 2019 annual investor conference, Intel continuously represented that it would start shipping its first 7nm chips in 2021. The news was well-received since the Company claimed the 7nm chip would deliver double the area efficiency of its 10nm chips. Moreover, in the wake of severe delays derailing its 10nm chips, Intel assuaged concerns by stating, "We've made time-to-market the priority," and repeatedly affirmed the 7nm chip's timetable," states Hagens Berman.

Also at Guru3D.

Previously: Intel Delays "7nm" Products by 6 Months
Intel Engineering Chief Out After 7nm Product Delays

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Saturday August 01, @12:44AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the do-you-have-update-for-my-boothole? dept.

Red Hat and CentOS systems aren’t booting due to BootHole patches:

Early this morning, an urgent bug showed up at Red Hat's bugzilla bug tracker—a user discovered that the RHSA_2020:3216 grub2 security update and RHSA-2020:3218 kernel security update rendered an RHEL 8.2 system unbootable.

[...] The patches were intended to close a newly discovered vulnerability in the GRUB2 boot manager called BootHole.

[...] Unfortunately, Red Hat's patch to GRUB2 and the kernel, once applied, are leaving patched systems unbootable. The issue is confirmed to affect RHEL 7.8 and RHEL 8.2, and it may affect RHEL 8.1 and 7.9 as well. RHEL-derivative distribution CentOS is also affected.

Red Hat is currently advising users not to apply the GRUB2 security patches (RHSA-2020:3216 or RHSA-2020:3217) until these issues have been resolved.

Ubuntu and Debian are also apparently affected.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday July 31, @10:35PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the self-stirring dept.

Challenging a central dogma of chemistry: Energy flow in chemical reactions:

The findings violate a central dogma of chemistry, that molecular diffusion and chemical reaction are unrelated. To observe that molecules are energized by chemical reaction is "new and unknown," said Granick. "When one substance transforms to another by breaking and forming bonds, this actually makes the molecules move more rapidly. It's as if the chemical reactions stir themselves naturally."

"Currently, Nature does an excellent job of producing molecular machines but in the natural world scientists have not understood well enough how to design this property," said Wang. "Beyond curiosity to understand the world, we hope that practically this can become useful in guiding thinking about transducing chemical energy for molecular motion in liquids, for nanorobotics, precision medicine and greener material synthesis."

The unexpected ripples generated by chemical reactions, especially when catalyzed (accelerated by substances not themselves consumed), propagate long-range. For chemists and physicists, this work challenges the textbook view that molecular motion and chemical reaction are decoupled, and that reactions affect only the nearby vicinity. For engineers, this work shows a powerful new approach to design nanomotors at the truly molecular level.

[...] Wang remarked with enthusiasm: "Now, we're like a baby taking her first steps and there's so much exciting opportunity to grow this baby."

[...] Granick concluded: "The field of active materials, quite new and growing fast, is enriched by this discovery that chemical reactions behave as nanoswimmers made of individual molecules that stir up the reaction soup. The concept of active materials has shown its value in challenging a central dogma of chemistry."

Journal Reference:
Huan Wang, Myeonggon Park, Ruoyu Dong, et al. Boosted molecular mobility during common chemical reactions [$], Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.aba8425)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday July 31, @08:26PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the bad-vendor-no-cookie dept.

If you own one of these 45 Netgear devices, replace it: Kit maker won't patch vulnerable gear despite live proof-of-concept code:

Netgear has quietly decided not to patch more than 40 home routers to plug a remote code execution vulnerability – despite security researchers having published proof-of-concept exploit code.

The vuln was revealed publicly in June by Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) following six months spent chivvying Netgear behind the scenes to take it seriously.

Keen-eyed Reg readers, however, noticed that Netgear quietly declared 45 of the affected products as "outside the security support period" – meaning those items won't be updated to protect them against the vuln.

America's Carnegie-Mellon University summarised the vuln in a note from its Software Engineering Institute: "Multiple Netgear devices contain a stack buffer overflow in the httpd web server's handling of upgrade_check.cgi, which may allow for unauthenticated remote code execution with root privileges."

[...] With today's revelation that 45 largely consumer and SME-grade items will never be patched, Netgear faces questions over its commitment to older product lines. Such questions have begun to be addressed in Britain by calls from government agencies for new laws forcing manufacturers to reveal devices' design lifespans at the point of purchase.

Brian Gorenc, Trend Micro's senior director of vulnerability research and head of ZDI, told The Register in a statement: "Consumers should always ensure their devices are still supported by their manufacturers. They should also check the available support before purchasing a device. Unfortunately, there are too many examples of vendors abandoning devices that are still in wide use – sometimes even when they are still available to purchase. We hope vendors clearly communicate their support and lifecycle policies so that consumers can make educated choices."

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday July 31, @06:17PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the not-nominal dept.

Mars-bound spaceship experiencing technical issues: NASA:

Mars 2020, the spaceship carrying NASA's new rover Perseverance to the Red Planet, is experiencing technical difficulties and is running on essential systems only, the agency said Thursday.

"Data indicate the spacecraft had entered a state known as safe mode, likely because a part of the spacecraft was a little colder than expected while Mars 2020 was in Earth's shadow," NASA said.

The spaceship has left Earth's shadow and the temperatures are now normal.

[...] Matt Wallace, the mission's deputy project manager, said that the fact that the spaceship had entered safe mode was not overly concerning.

"That's perfectly fine, the spacecraft is happy there," he said. "The team is working through that telemetry, they're going to look through the rest of the spacecraft health. "So far, everything I've seen looks good, so we'll know more in a little bit."

Perseverance, Ingenuity begin seven month journey to Mars
Atlas 5 launches Mars 2020 mission

Mars 2020 Rover to Include a Mars Helicopter
Mars Helicopter Enters Final Testing
Mars Mission Readies Tiny Chopper for Red Planet Flight
NASA Reveals the New Wavy Martian Wheels it Thinks Can Crush the Red Planet
Three Missions to Mars Happening this Month

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday July 31, @04:08PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the feed-me! dept.

Bacteria live despite burial in seafloor mud for 100 million years:

You know those videos where people open (or even eat?) military rations from World War II? It's shocking to see just how well-preserved these "foods" can be after all those decades. In a way, Yuki Morono and his team of researchers at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology flipped that experience around by giving modern food to some old organisms. But their case involved bringing up ancient mud from the seafloor and adding some food to see if anything was alive in there.

There were, in fact, bacteria in the mud, which likely doesn't sound surprising. But given the environment and the age of this stuff—100 million years—it's actually pretty remarkable.

[...] The thing is, the researchers don't think this is just modern bacteria that have made their way deep into the mud. In fact, they shouldn't be able to move at all in that mud. The average space between particles in the clay should be considerably smaller than the size of a bacterium. The presence of microbes in the oldest sediments represent communities that are about as old as the sediment itself, the researchers conclude.

[...] This leads to an extraordinary claim: "Our results suggest that microbial communities widely distributed in organic-poor abyssal sediment consist mainly of aerobes that retain their metabolic potential under extremely low-energy conditions for up to 101.5 [million years]."

[...] So if the researchers are right about what they've found, it's a testament to the fact that life is nothing if not persistent. By slowing down to live within extremely limited means, these bacterial communities may have survived for a simply incredible length of time.

Also At:
100 million-year-old life forms found on the ocean floor

Journal Reference:
Yuki Morono, Motoo Ito, Tatsuhiko Hoshino, et al. Aerobic microbial life persists in oxic marine sediment as old as 101.5 million years [open], Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17330-1)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday July 31, @01:59PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the ruh-roh! dept.

Cartoons Were Right? Bending a Rifle's Barrel Backward Will Actually Redirect a Bullet:

In an experiment you should never, ever try at home, the experimenters at YouTube's DemolitionRanch found that if you were strong enough to bend the barrel of a rifle back on itself (a clever maneuver Bugs Bunny often pulled on Elmer Fudd) the bullet would actually follow the curved path.

[...] For DemolitionRanch's latest firearms experiment, it goes one step beyond what The Mythbusters tested[*] and bent the barrel of an automatic rifle almost 180 degrees backward so that it points back at someone unfortunate enough to be holding the weapon. [...] They built a remote rig to safely test what would happen.

[...] when the rifle was fired remotely, the bullet exited the barrel at its business end


Video on YouTube

Original Submission