Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.
Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!
New submitter gadfium writes: "Python 3.4 has been released. It adds new library features, bug fixes, and security improvements. It includes: at standardized implementation of enumeration types, a statistics module, improvements to object finalization, a more secure and interchangeable hash algorithm for strings and binary data, asynchronous I/O support, and an installer for the pip package manager."
An anonymous reader writes "In yet another example of the judicial branch of the government becoming more critical of federal mass acquisition of personal data, federal magistrate judge John Facciola in D.C. 'denied a government warrant request to search an unnamed user's @mac.com e-mail address, citing the request as being overbroad.' The judge further noted (PDF), 'While it is evident from closely reading the Application and its attachments what the government is really after, it is equally evident that the government is using language that has the potential to confuse the provider—in this case Apple—which must determine what information must be given to the government. This Court should not be placed in the position of compelling Apple to divine what the government actually seeks. Until this Application is clarified, it will be denied.'"
wiredmikey writes "Security researchers from ESET have uncovered a widespread attack campaign that has infected more than 25,000 Linux and UNIX servers around the world. The servers are being hijacked by a backdoor Trojan as part of a campaign the researchers are calling 'Operation Windigo.' Once infected, victimized systems are leveraged to steal credentials, redirected web traffic to malicious sites and send as many as 35 million spam messages a day. 'Windigo has been gathering strength, largely unnoticed by the security community, for more than two and a half years and currently has 10,000 servers under its control,' said Pierre-Marc Bureau, security intelligence program manager at ESET, in a statement.
There are many misconceptions around Linux security, and attacks are not something only Windows users need to worry about. The main threats facing Linux systems aren't zero-day vulnerabilities or malware, but things such as Trojanized applications, PHP backdoors, and malicious login attempts over SSH. ESET recommends webmasters and system administrators check their systems to see if they are compromised, and has published a detailed report presenting the findings and instructions on how to remove the malicious code if it is present."
minty3 writes "Planetary scientists believe they have observed waves rippling on one of Titan's seas. The findings, presented on March 17 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, describes how the Cassini spacecraft captured images of sunlight glinting off the Punga Mare (abstract), suggesting they are not reflective sunlight but waves." The Planetary Society recently posted a nice breakdown of the basics about Titan's lakes: "To flow with liquid, those river valleys must have been filled with methane that came from higher elevations; it had to rain methane on Titan. Rainfall runs off, and then what? It must pool somewhere. What we learned from the Cassini orbiter at Saturn is that there are lakes on Titan. ... Rainfall, river runoff, lakes, evaporation into clouds, rainfall again. Cassini has seen clouds make storms on Titan. We have seen the whole cycle -- it's just like Earth's water cycle, but with a completely different substance [methane], and much, much colder."
jones_supa writes "More great news for Linux gamers: following the footsteps of Steam, GOG.com is preparing delivery of Linux games. They expect to start doing so this autumn. The officially supported distributions will be Ubuntu and Mint. Right now, they are performing testing on various configurations, training up their teams on Linux-speak, and generally preparing for the rollout of at least 100 titles — DRM-free, as usual. This will update some of the catalog's existing games with a Linux port and bring new ones to the collection. Further information on specific games is yet not known, but GOG invites fans and customers to their community wishlist for discussion."
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today officially launched Firefox 28 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Additions include VP9 video decoding, Web notifications on OS X, and volume controls for HTML5 video and audio. Firefox 28 has been released over on Firefox.com and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. The full release notes are available. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play (Android release notes)." Mozilla also announced tools to bring the Unity game engine to WebGL and asm.js.
An anonymous reader sends this news from the Washington Post: "The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording '100 percent' of a foreign country's telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden. ... The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009. Its RETRO tool, short for “retrospective retrieval,” and related projects reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011. Planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere."
It goes up, it goes down, it goes upside down and keeps on flying. We're talking about Curtis Youngblood's latest quadcopter prototype, but as his website says, "Curtis has been flying and competing with RC Helicopters since the early 1980s and is a Multi-time World Champion and Multi-time 3D Champion." This lucky dog has managed to turn his hobby into a business; he makes and sells radio controlled helicopters -- not the $60 ones from Harbor Freight, but sophisticated aerial beasts that can carry still and video cameras and could easily be used as short-range drones, except that these are hobbyists' toys -- for hobbyists who can afford to spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars, anyway. There are plenty of quadcopter kits on the market for lots less than Youngblood's creations, along with build-it-yourself guides. But these won't fly upside down. For that, you need variable-pitch rotors and sophisticated control systems. "But what about 3-D printing?" you ask. Of *course* you can use a 3-D printer to make a quadcopter. That was an inevitable development. Here are open source instructions for building one. Enjoy the ride!
mrspoonsi tips news that Google has announced 'Android Wear,' their effort to bring the Android mobile operating system to wearable devices. Android Wear provides an interface to control other devices through a smartwatch, adds support for Google Now's voice commands, and lets wearables integrate with various apps. Google has made a developer preview available for download immediately. Google's Motorola division concurrently announced a smartwatch that's powered by Android Wear called the Moto 360. LG announced one as well.
bi$hop (878253) writes "The Consumerist is proud to present the first round match-ups for this year’s Worst Company in America tournament!
There are several returning competitors, including previous champs EA and Comcast, three-time runner-up (and sort of winner from when it acquired Countrywide) Bank of America, the perennially hated Ticketmaster and PayPal (with their respective corporate counterparts LiveNation and eBay). There are also some new names on the list, like Koch Industries and lawsuit-happy seed company Monsanto. There’s also SeaWorld making a splash on WCIA 2014, presumably because people have been watching that Blackfish documentary.
Voting will begin tomorrow, March 19..."
ananyo writes "John Ioannidis, the epidemiologist who published an infamous paper entitled 'Why most published research findings are false', has co-founded an institute dedicated to combating sloppy medical studies. The new institute is to focus on irreproducibility, waste in science and publication bias. The institute, called the Meta-Research Innovation Centre or METRICS, will, the Economist reports, 'create a "journal watch" to monitor scientific publishers' work and to shame laggards into better behaviour. And they will spread the message to policymakers, governments and other interested parties, in an effort to stop them making decisions on the basis of flaky studies. All this in the name of the centre's nerdishly valiant mission statement: "Identifying and minimising persistent threats to medical-research quality."'"
First time accepted submitter lars_doucet writes "I am a 15-year Flash veteran and nobody hates to say this more than me: Flash is dying, and the killer is Adobe. Where to now? HTML5 doesn't help me with native targets, and Unity is proprietary just like Flash was — 'don't worry, we'll be around forever! And so sorry about that neglected bug report — we're busy.' I'm putting my bets on OpenFL, a Haxe-based, fully open-source implementation of the Flash API that might just please both Flash refugees and longtime Flash haters alike. My article discusses my experiences with it and gives a brief overview for newcomers. In short: I can keep making Flash games if I want, but with the same codebase I can also natively target Win/Mac/Linux desktops, mobile, and more, without having to mess with Adobe AIR or other virtual machines."
cartechboy writes "Well, since we have license plate readers tracking drivers, and GPS breaking down we're you're headed — its probably time for someone to know what mood you're in when you're driving. (Quick hint: often not a good one). Researchers at Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have prototyped a dashboard camera that tracks facial movements and expressions to read a person's emotions while behind the wheel. The team has partnered with PSA Peugeot Citroën to create a version for actual cars to determine when drivers are angry — and have high potential for road rage. One challenge for the technology has been the wide range of expressions drivers have when they're pissed. Some people smile, for example. (Maybe as they raise their middle finger.) The engineers are working on future revs to be able to tell when drivers are fatigued or even just distracted." The detection part sounds interesting; coupled with remote kill-switches that some government agencies want, and ever deeper fly-by-wire technologies, it's sounds downright dystopian, though.
Trailrunner7 writes "In a letter sent to President Obama and members of Congress, former members and staff of the Church Committee on Intelligence said that the revelations of the NSA activities have caused 'a crisis of public confidence' and encouraged the formation of a new committee to undertake 'significant and public reexamination of intelligence community practices.' In the letter sent Monday to Obama and Congress, several former advisers to and members of the Church committee, including the former chief counsel, said that the current situation involving the NSA bears striking resemblances to the one in 1975 and that the scope of what the NSA is doing today is orders of magnitude larger than what was happening nearly 40 years ago.
'The need for another thorough, independent, and public congressional investigation of intelligence activity practices that affect the rights of Americans is apparent. There is a crisis of public confidence. Misleading statements by agency officials to Congress, the courts, and the public have undermined public trust in the intelligence community and in the capacity for the branches of government to provide meaningful oversight,' the letter says."
yakatz writes "Microsoft announced that OneNote, including the full desktop program, will be free for anyone who wants to use the program. A version of the program for Mac also appeared in the app store yesterday. This means that a native edition of OneNote is available for most platforms (including iPad, iPhone and Android, but not Linux or Blackberry). Microsoft will continue to offer a paid version of OneNote with 'business-oriented' features (including SharePoint support, version history and Outlook integration). The partial rebranding of OneNote also includes some new tools like a program specifically designed to make it easier to take a picture of a whiteboard.
Is this a signal that Microsoft decided that they need to compete with Apple by making their productivity applications free?" (Over at WineHQ, they're looking for a maintainer for their page on OneNote. Anyone running it on a Free operating system? What are your favorite alternatives that are "libre" free, rather than only gratis?)
colinneagle writes "In a blog post, Andy Patrizio laments the trend — made more common in the mobile world — of companies pushing software updates ahead without the ability to roll back to previous versions in the event that the user simply doesn't like it. iOS 7.1, for example, has reportedly been killing some users' battery power, and users of the iTunes library app TuneUp will remember how the much-maligned version 3.0 effectively killed the company behind it (new owners have since taken over TuneUp and plans to bring back the older version).
The ability to undo a problematic install should be mandatory, but in too many instances it is not. That's because software developers are always operating under the assumption that the latest version is the greatest version, when it may not be. This is especially true in the smartphone and tablet world. There is no rollback to be had for anything in the iOS and Android worlds. Until the day comes when software developers start releasing perfectly functioning, error-free code, we need the ability to go backwards with all software."
First time accepted submitter fabrica64 writes "The Brazilian government has today started blocking mobile phones not sold in Brazil (Portuguese-language original), i.e. not having paid sales taxes here. The blocking is based on IMEI, and if you come to Brazil for the World Cup in June and think of buying a Brazilian SIM card to call locally at lower rates, then it won't work because your mobile's IMEI will be blacklisted as not sold in Brazil. This is not a joke, it's true!"
crazyeyes (1091733) writes "Last week, Tencent removed at least 40 WeChat public pages, allegedly at the behest of the Chinese government. Of course, this isn't the first time WeChat has censored its pages for the Chinese government. Early in January 2013, they censored and banned words or Chinese characters that referred to the Southern Weekly, which had then called for "certain reforms and greater respect for constitutional rights".
This may sound like hyperbole, but this incident could well be the beginning of the end for WeChat as an international text and voice messaging service. The Chinese people may have no other decent options, but those of us outside the Great Firewall of China have a lot more choices. Better choices even.
For our part, we are uninstalling our WeChat messengers, partly because there are better (and less annoying) instant messengers, and partly because we don't care for censorship. Join us in uninstalling WeChat, if you don't care for censorship either. China can keep their Instant Messenger of Much Insecurity. Original article at http://www.techarp.com/showart..."
Link to Original Source
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from The Examiner: "The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) confirmed March 16 the arrest of a group of Russians in the Zaporizhzhia (Zaporozhye) region of Ukraine. The men were armed with firearms, explosives and unspecified 'special technical means'. This follows the March 14 arrest ... of several Russians dressed black uniforms with no insignia, armed with AKS-74 assault rifles and in possession of numerous ID cards under various names. One of which was an ID card of Military Intelligence Directorate of the Russian armed forces; commonly known as 'Spetsnaz'. ... Spetsnaz commandos operating in eastern Ukraine would have the missions encompassing general ground reconnaissance of Ukrainian army units ... missions they may perform preparatory to a Russian invasion would be planting explosives at key communications choke points to hinder movement of Ukrainian forces; seizing control of roads, rail heads, bridges and ports for use by arriving Russian combat troops; and possibly capturing or assassinating Ukrainian generals or politicians in key positions ... Spetsnaz also infiltrate themselves into local populations ... Once in place they begin 'stirring the pot' of ethnic and political strife with the goal of creating violent clashes usually involving firearms and destabilizing local authority." The submitter adds links to more at Forbes, The Daily Beast, and The New Republic.
Nerval's Lobster writes "In early March, Lit Motors founder Danny Kim hit the road to meet investors. The Portland native needed to keep the momentum growing for his small firm, which builds the two-wheeled C-1. His modest lab, located in San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood, could accommodate another 12 employees—but he needed the money to fund them, and to build a manufacturing facility that could turn his prototype ideas into a reality. Like Elon Musk and other manufacturing savants, Kim is someone who enjoys the challenge of building things—whether it's eyeglasses, chairs, or motor vehicles from scratch. He's spent the past five years re-thinking modern transportation, and using those insights to design prototypes of two-wheeled, motor-driven vehicles that can self-balance with a dancer's grace, thanks to an integrated software platform and a patented gyroscopic system. In a wide-ranging conversation with Slashdot, Kim discussed his plans for manufacturing the C-1, as well as the challenges in convincing consumers to try out a new kind of vehicle. "Seventy-two percent of commuters drive alone, so it just made sense to cut the car in half," he said, explaining the decision to go with two wheels instead of four. 'You have to think about this two-wheeled car as a robot because of its stability. It purely uses our AI/stability algorithm so it can balance and you don't have to. We had to develop our own firmware for our own dynamic system. It is code heavy.'"
Many Americans are probably rubbing their temples and wandering around with a bit of a post-St. Patrick's day hangover. Reader theodp writes with a sobering statistical consequence of traditional heavy-drinking holidays: "Keep in mind that this time of year has traditionally been very good to those awaiting organ transplants, including the late Steve Jobs, as Walter Isaacson explained in Jobs: 'By late February 2009 Jobs had secured a place on the Tennessee list (as well as the one in California), and the nervous waiting began. He was declining rapidly by the first week in March, and the waiting time was projected to be twenty-one days. 'It was dreadful,' Powell recalled. 'It didn't look like we would make it in time.' Every day became more excruciating. He moved up to third on the list by mid-March, then second, and finally first. But then days went by. The awful reality was that upcoming events like St. Patrick's Day and March Madness (Memphis was in the 2009 tournament and was a regional site) offered a greater likelihood of getting a donor because the drinking causes a spike in car accidents. Indeed, on the weekend of March 21, 2009, a young man in his mid-twenties was killed in a car crash, and his organs were made available.'"
concertina226 writes "There's less than a month to go before Samsung launches its new flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone worldwide on 11 April, and the new device has still not gone into mass production due to camera module manufacturing problems. The 16 megapixel camera module consists of six plastic pieces, one more piece than in the existing 13 megapixel camera modules in the Galaxy S4. The problem that Samsung is having is that even though the number of plastic pieces has gone up, the thickness of each piece has remained the same, so in order to fit the new camera module into the Galaxy S5, the lens makers will likely have to develop new technology to make thinner lenses. Not only that, joining six pieces together instead of five for the 13 megapixel camera modules increases the risk of optical faults surfacing at the lens manufacturers' plants dramatically."
An anonymous reader writes "Future biotechnology could be used to trick a prisoner's mind into thinking they have served a 1,000 year sentence, a group of scientists have claimed.
Philosopher Rebecca Roache is in charge of a team of scholars focused upon the ways futuristic technologies might transform punishment. Dr Roache claims the prison sentence of serious criminals could be made worse by extending their lives.
Speaking to Aeon magazine, Dr Roache said drugs could be developed to distort prisoners' minds into thinking time was passing more slowly."
Link to Original Source
sciencehabit writes "The cancer gene BRCA1, which keeps tumors in the breast and ovaries at bay by producing proteins that repair damaged DNA, may also regulate brain size. Mice carrying a mutated copy of the gene have 10-fold fewer neurons and had other brain abnormalities, a new study (abstract) suggests. Such dramatic effects on brain size and function are unlikely in human carriers of BRCA1 mutations, the authors of the study note, but they propose the findings could shed light on the gene's role in brain evolution."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "After a parting of ways with the New York Times after calling 50 out of 50 states right in the 2012 elections, Nate Silver has relaunched FiveThirtyEight as a website dedicated to data journalism under the auspices of ESPN. Silver has expanded his staff from two full-time journalists to 20 and instead of focusing on politics exclusively FiveThirtyEight's coverage will span five major subject areas — politics, economics, science, life and sports. According to Silver, his team has a broad set of skills and experience in methods that fall under the rubric of data journalism including statistical analysis, data visualization, computer programming and data-literate reporting. 'One of our roles will be to critique incautious uses of statistics when they arise elsewhere in news coverage. At other times, we'll explore ways that consumers can use data to their advantage and level the playing field against corporations and governments.' The site has launched with a variety of stories including 'Many Signs Pointed to Crimea Independence Vote — But Polls Didn't,' 'Building a Bracket Is Hard This Year, But We'll Help You Play the Odds,' 'Toilet Seat Covers: To Use or Not to Use,' and 'Three Rules to Make Sure Economic Data Aren't Bunk.'
The story that caught my eye was 'This Winter Wasn't the Coldest, But It Was One of the Most Miserable' with some good data visualization that showed that although average temperature may not have set records in the Northeast Corridor this winter, the intensity of the cold when it did hit was impressive. According to Matt Lanza although most statistics cite the winter of 1978-79 as the coldest in U.S. history, the winter of 2013-14 brought a rare combination of miseries that many of us hadn't seen in years, and some had never seen. It was colder than usual, it was extremely cold more often than usual, and it snowed more than usual in more places than usual. Traditionally, big snow winters occur in a couple regions. The East Coast might have great snows, while the Midwest is quiet. Snowfall this winter didn't discriminate; it blanketed just about everybody (outside the dry West and icier Mid-South). Look how many cities had not just a little more, but way more, than their normal snowfall."
An anonymous reader writes "I have been programming in some fashion, for the last 18 years. I got my first job programming 15 years ago and have advanced my career programming, leading programmers and bringing my technical skill sets into operations and other areas of the business where problems can be solved with logical solutions. I learned to program on the Internet in the 90s.. scouring information where ever I could and reading the code others wrote. I learned to program in a very simple fashion, write a script and work your way to the desired outcome in a straight forward logical way. If I needed to save or reuse code, I created include files with functions. I could program my way through any problem, with limited bugs, but I never learned to use a framework or write modular, DRY code. Flash forward to today, there are hundreds of frameworks and thousands of online tutorials, but I just can't seem to take the tutorials and grasp the concepts and utilize them in a practical manner. Am I just too old and too set in my ways to learn something new? Does anyone have any recommendations for tutorials or books that could help a 'hacker' like me? Also, I originally learned to program in Perl, but moved onto C and eventually PHP and Python."
chicksdaddy writes "The Security Ledger has picked up on an opinion piece by noted cyber terrorism and Stuxnet expert Ralph Langner (@langnergroup) who argues in a blog post that critical infrastructure owners should consider implementing what he calls 'analog hard stops' to cyber attacks. Langner cautions against the wholesale embrace of digital systems by stating the obvious: that 'every digital system has a vulnerability,' and that it's nearly impossible to rule out the possibility that potentially harmful vulnerabilities won't be discovered during the design and testing phase of a digital ICS product. ... For example, many nuclear power plants still rely on what is considered 'outdated' analog reactor protection systems. While that is a concern (maintaining those systems and finding engineers to operate them is increasingly difficult), the analog protection systems have one big advantage over their digital successors: they are immune against cyber attacks.
Rather than bowing to the inevitability of the digital revolution, the U.S. Government (and others) could offer support for (or at least openness to) analog components as a backstop to advanced cyber attacks could create the financial incentive for aging systems to be maintained and the engineering talent to run them to be nurtured, Langner suggests." Or maybe you could isolate control systems from the Internet.