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HughPickens.com writes Cade Metz writes that last week Parisa Tabriz, head of Google's Chrome security team, helped arrange an early screening of Michael Mann's Blackhat in San Francisco for 200-odd security specialists from Google, Facebook, Apple, Tesla, Twitter, Square, Cisco, and other parts of Silicon Valley's close-knit security community, and their response to the film was shockingly positive. "Judging from the screening Q&A—and the pointed ways this audience reacted during the screening—you could certainly argue Blackhat is the best hacking movie ever made," writes Metz. "Many info-sec specialists will tell you how much they like Sneakers—the 1992 film with Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Ackroyd, Ben Kingsley, and River Phoenix—but few films have so closely hewed to info-sec reality as Mann's new movie, fashioned in his characteristic pseudo-documentary style." "Unlike others, this is a film about a real person, not a stereotype—a real guy with real problems thrust into a real situation," says Mark Abene. "The technology—and the disasters—in the film were real, or at least plausible.
Director Michael Mann worked closely with Kevin Poulsen in researching, writing, and shooting the film. Like Hemsworth's character, Poulsen spent time in prison for his hacking exploits, and Mann says his input was invaluable. "It's the first crime-thriller to hinge so heavily on hacking without becoming silly." says Poulson. "We put a lot of work into finding plausible ways that malware and hosting arrangements and all these other things could be used to advance the plot and all of that I think turned out pretty nice." I'm a fan of Michael Mann, and the previews I've seen of Blackhat make it look at least like a passable thriller. For anyone who's seen the film already, what did you think?
98 comments | about two weeks ago
jones_supa writes: The redstone mechanics in Minecraft can be pushed surprisingly far to create rather advanced digital circuits. Thanks to a user nicknamed Koala_Steamed, there now exists a text editor inside the game (YouTube demonstration). It comes with a 5 x 10 character matrix in which each character uses a starburst (16-segment) display. There are 7.357 x 10^92 different combinations the screen can show, all of which can be controlled from a single line. The scale of the workings used to make this piece of logic, using only redstone, is dauntingly huge.
114 comments | about three weeks ago
BarbaraHudson sends this excerpt from The Province:
While exploring the effects of the protein-degrading enzyme Granzyme B on blood vessels during heart attacks, professor David Granville and other researchers at the University of British Columbia couldn't help noticing that mice engineered to lack the enzyme had beautiful skin at the end of the experiment, while normal mice showed signs of age. The discovery pushed Granville's research in an unexpected new direction.
The researchers built a mechanized rodent tanning salon and exposed mice engineered to lack the enzyme and normal mice to UV light three times a week for 20 weeks, enough to cause redness, but not to burn. At the end of the experiment, the engineered mice still had smooth, unblemished skin, while the normal mice were deeply wrinkled.
Granzyme B breaks down proteins and interferes with the organization and the integrity of collagen, dismantling the scaffolding — or extra-cellular matrix — that cells bind to. This causes structural weakness, leading to wrinkles. Sunlight appears to increase levels of the enzyme and accelerate its damaging effects.
175 comments | about a month and a half ago
An anonymous reader writes: Oren Etzioni has been an artificial intelligence researcher for over 20 years, and he's currently CEO of the Allen Institute for AI. When he heard the dire warnings recently from both Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, he decided it's time to have an intelligent discussion about AI. He says, "The popular dystopian vision of AI is wrong for one simple reason: it equates intelligence with autonomy. That is, it assumes a smart computer will create its own goals, and have its own will, and will use its faster processing abilities and deep databases to beat humans at their own game. ... To say that AI will start doing what it wants for its own purposes is like saying a calculator will start making its own calculations." Etzioni adds, "If unjustified fears lead us to constrain AI, we could lose out on advances that could greatly benefit humanity — and even save lives. Allowing fear to guide us is not intelligent."
417 comments | about 2 months ago
An anonymous reader writes: VKontakte is a Russian social network, more popular there than even Facebook. Its founder, Pavel Durov, was a celebrity for his entrepreneurial skills, much like Mark Zuckerberg elsewhere. But as Russia has cracked down on internet freedoms, 30-year-old Durov had to relinquish control of the social network. He eventually fled the country when the government pressured him to release data on Ukrainian protest leaders. He's now a sort of roving hacker, showing up where he's welcome and not staying too long. "Mr. Durov, known for his subversive wit and an all-black wardrobe that evokes Neo from the Matrix movies, is now a little-seen nomad, moving from country to country every few weeks with a small band of computer programmers. One day he is in Paris, another in Singapore." Durov said, "I'm very happy right now without any property anywhere. I consider myself a legal citizen of the world."
130 comments | about 2 months ago
HughPickens.com writes Jim Edwards writes at Business Insider that Google is so large and has such a massive need for talent that if you have the right skills, Google is really enthusiastic to hear from you — especially if you know how to use MatLab, a fourth-generation programming language that allows matrix manipulations, plotting of functions and data, implementation of algorithms, creation of user interfaces, and interfacing with programs written in other languages, including C, C++, Java, Fortran and Python. The key is that data is produced visually or graphically, rather than in a spreadsheet. According to Jonathan Rosenberg , Google's former senior vice president for product management, being a master of statistics is probably your best way into Google right now and if you want to work at Google, make sure you can use MatLab. Big data — how to create it, manipulate it, and put it to good use — is one of those areas in which Google is really enthusiastic about. The sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. When every business has free and ubiquitous data, the ability to understand it and extract value from it becomes the complimentary scarce factor. It leads to intelligence, and the intelligent business is the successful business, regardless of its size. Rosenberg says that "my quote about statistics that I didn't use but often do is, 'Data is the sword of the 21st century, those who wield it the samurai.'"
205 comments | about 3 months ago
An anonymous reader writes Google has been testing its autonomous vehicles on U.S. roads for a while now. In fact, they're required to, by law. "California's regulations stipulate autonomous vehicles must be tested under "controlled conditions" that mimic real-world driving as closely as possible. Usually, that has meant a private test track or temporarily closed public road." It's easy enough to test a few prototypes, but whenever autonomous cars start being produced by manufacturers, it'll become a lot more complicated. Now, Google is lobbying to change that law to allow testing via computer simulation. Safety director Ron Medford said, "Computer simulations are actually more valuable, as they allow manufacturers to test their software under far more conditions and stresses than could possibly be achieved on a test track." Google spokeswoman Katelin Jabbari said, "In a few hours, we can test thousands upon thousands of scenarios which in terms of driving all over again might take decades." Shee adds that simulator data can also easily provide information on how human behavior creeps into driving. "It's not just about the physics of avoiding a crash. It's also about the emotional expectation of passengers and other drivers." For example, when one of Google's computer-controlled cars is cut off, the software brakes harder than it needs to, because this makes the passengers feel safer. Critics say relying heavily on simulation data is flawed because it doesn't take into account how other cars react to the computer's driving.
173 comments | about 5 months ago
The synthesis of ammonia is one of the globe's most significant industrial applications of chemistry. PhysOrg reports the publication in the August issue of Science (sadly, article is paywalled) the description of a low-energy process to syntheize ammonia for fertilizer using just air, water, and sunlight, by zapping with electricity water bubbling through a matrix of iron oxide, and sodium and potassium hyroxide. Electricity isn't free, though — "Low energy" in this case means two-thirds the energy cost of the long-in-use Haber-Bosch process. Researcher Stuart Licht is getting some of the energy to run this reaction from a high-efficiency solar cell he's created, which creates hydrogen as a byproduct. Along with the elimination of the need to produce hydrogen from natural gas, the overall emissions are reduced quite significantly. The whole process also takes place at milder conditions, not requiring 450C and 200 times atmospheric pressure as the Haber-Bosch process does. ... But even with Licht's method, [University of Bristol electrochemistry professor David] Fermin points out that we are far away from being able to replicate nature's efficiency at converting nitrogen from the air to useful chemicals, which is done by nitrogen-fixing bacteria. "What is truly remarkable is that nature does it incredibly efficiently at low-temperature," Fermin added. And yet, if something more efficient can replace the Haber-Bosch process, it would lower the energy input of the production of one of the worlds most important chemicals and lead to a notable reduction in global CO2 emissions.
117 comments | about 6 months ago
Benz145 (1869518) writes "The hotly anticipated Oculus Rift DK2 has begun arriving at doorsteps. The DK2s enhancements include optical positional tracking and a higher resolution panel, up from 1280×800 to 1920×1080 (1080p) and moved to a pentile-matrix OLED panel for display duties. This means higher levels of resolvable detail and a much reduced screen door effect. The panel features low persistence of vision, a technology pioneered by Valve that aims to cut motion artefacts by only displaying the latest, most correct display information relative to the user's movements – as users of the DK1 will attest, its LCD panel was heavily prone to smearing, things are now much improved with the DK2."
54 comments | about 6 months ago
An anonymous reader writes "What got you into hacking? This is a question that Jennifer Steffen, IOActive CEO, often asks hackers she meets on conferences around the world. More often than not, the answer is movies: War Games, Hackers, The Matrix, and so on. But today, it is the real life hacking that is inspiring the movies of tomorrow. 'Hackers are doing epic stuff,' she says, and they are now inspiring movies and comics. So, what got you started? And what makes a good hacker today?"
153 comments | about 8 months ago
SonicSpike (242293) points out this article about a mask that can foil surveillance cameras and provide fuel for nightmares. "If the world starts looking like a scene from Matrix 3 where everyone has Agent Smith's face, you can thank Leo Selvaggio. His rubber mask aimed at foiling surveillance cameras features his visage, and if he has his way, plenty of people will be sporting the Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic in public. It's one of three products made by the Chicago-based artist's URME Surveillance, a venture dedicated to 'protecting the public from surveillance and creating a safe space to explore our digital identities.' 'Our world is becoming increasingly surveilled. For example, Chicago has over 25,000 cameras networked to a single facial recognition hub,' reads the URME (pronounced U R Me) site. 'We don't believe you should be tracked just because you want to walk outside and you shouldn't have to hide either. Instead, use one of our products to present an alternative identity when in public.'"
196 comments | about 9 months ago
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of Dreamworks Animation, speaking at the Milken Global Conference in California, opined that the future pricing model for movie downloads will revolve around screen size. In his view, larger screens will incur larger download prices. As he says, 'It will reinvent the enterprise of movies.' Unclear is how physical dimensions, rather than just resolution matrix, will be determined. Will we soon be saying 'hello' to screen spoofing?" Can you fake the physical dimensions reported in the EDID block when the connection is using HDCP? Aside from the implication that this would mean more DRM (and seems pretty unworkable, but with the rise of locked bootloaders on even x86 hardware...), the prices he predicts seem alright: "A movie screen will be $15. A 75-inch TV will be $4. A smartphone will be $1.99."
347 comments | about 9 months ago
mikejuk (1801200) writes "The Matrix Reloaded started something when 'The Merovingian' wore a number of very flashy ties. The problem was that we thought we knew how many ways you can tie a tie. The number of ways had been enumerated in 2001 and the answer was that there were exactly 85 different ways but the enumeration didn't include the Matrix way of doing it. So how many "Merovingian" knots are there? The question is answered in a new paper, More ties than we thought [PDf], by Dan Hirsch, Meredith L. Patterson, Anders Sandberg and Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson. The methodology is based on the original enumeration and an interesting application of language theory. The idea is to create a programming language for tying ties and then work out how many programs there are. For single depth tucks there are 177,147 different sequences and hence knots. Of these there are 2046 winding patterns that take up to 11 moves, the same as the The Merovingian knot and other popular knots, and so these are probably practical with a normal length necktie."
51 comments | about 10 months ago
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jake Simpson reports at The Atlantic that Mathematician Tim Chartier, a Davidson College professor who specializes in ranking methods, teaches a math-heavy form of bracketology — the science of predicting the annual NCAA college basketball tournament at Davidson College in North Carolina. Chartier's academic research is in ranking methods where he looks at things like the page-ranking algorithms of Google. 'In 2009, my collaborator Amy Langville said: "You know what? ESPN has this huge online bracket tournament. Let's create brackets with our ranking methods, just to see if it's creating meaningful information."' Chartier's formula, an evolving code-based matrix that ranks each of the 68 tournament teams, has helped several Davidson students score in the 96th percentile (or higher) in ESPN's bracket challenge and this year, Chartier's goal is to help someone win the $1 billion prize offered by Warren Buffett to anyone who correctly predicts all 63 games of the men's tournament.
Chartier uses two methods. One is the Colley Method, named after astrophysicist Wesley Colley who developed a method used by the BCS for college football (PDF). His basketball method only counts wins and losses, not margin of victory. The other method is the Massey method created by sports statistician Kenneth Massey (PDF), which does integrate scores. Chartier has not been banned from any office pools — at least none that he knows of. But as a result of coming pretty darn close to filling out a perfect bracket just by crunching the numbers, brackets have become a labor of love. 'Now that the brackets are actually out, I've had students in and out of my office all week, sharing new ideas,' says Chartier. 'For me, that's more fun than filling out a bracket. They will all be filling out brackets, so it's like I'm doing parallel processing. I know what might work, but watching them figure out the odds, is a thrill.'"
76 comments | about 10 months ago
ananyo writes "From a few fragments out of a collection of 23-century-old Chinese bamboo strips, historians have pieced together what they say is the world's oldest example of a multiplication table in base 10. Each strip is about 7 to 12 millimeters wide and half a meter long, and has a vertical line of ancient Chinese calligraphy painted on it in black ink. The bamboo pieces constitute 65 ancient texts and are thought to be among the most important artifacts from the Warring States period before the unification of China. But 21 bamboo strips contained only numbers and, on closer inspection, turned out to be a multiplication table. As in a modern multiplication table, the entries at the intersection of each row and column in the matrix provide the results of multiplying the corresponding numbers. The table can also help users to multiply any whole or half integer between 0.5 and 99.5. The researchers suspect that officials used the multiplication table to calculate surface area of land, yields of crops and the amounts of taxes owed."
86 comments | 1 year,24 days
Tutter writes with news that Smellovision is being joined in reality by Tasteovision. "Possible applications in healthcare and gaming — it works by using electrodes on your tongue to stimulate salty, sweet, bitter and sour. It can produce the taste of virtual foods or drinks, allowing you to enjoy the taste without the calories (or chewing...). They are also good reasons to do this, for example, a diabetic can now taste sweets without actually affecting their blood sugar levels. Quote: 'The team is also working on a spin-off called a digital lollipop that will give the effect of a continuous sugar hit – but without sugar. For taste messaging they have developed TOIP — Taste Over Internet Protocol. This is a data format that makes it easy to transmit information on how to recreate the different tastes via the electrode. ... It is early days. The four major taste components, plus the fifth, the savoury 'umami' tang, are only a part of what we call flavor. Smell and texture are important, too — and the team now wants to work on adding those effects.' A video on youtube shows what it can do."
47 comments | about a year ago
New submitter chrisjz writes "What happens when you combine a virtual reality headset and a brainwave reading device? Here's a simulation showing off what's possible with current technology, using the Emotiv EPOC to read a person's brainwaves for movement in a virtual environment. Along with the Oculus Rift, a VR headset, and the Razer Hydra for hand tracking, this demonstrates another alternative to using omni-directional treadmills or full body tracking for movement and interaction in virtual reality. Consumer level brain computer interfaces are still primitive these days, but it doesn't seem too far off that we'll have virtual reality similar to what William Gibson envisioned in his novels or movies such as The Matrix has shown us."
35 comments | about a year ago
benrothke writes "David Mitchell Smith wrote in the Gartner report Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing last year that while clearly maturing and beyond the peak of inflated expectations, cloud computing continues to be one of the most hyped subjects in IT. The report is far from perfect, but it is accurate in the sense that while cloud computing is indeed ready for prime time, the hype with it ensures that too many firms will be using it with too much hype, and not enough reality and detailed requirements. While there have been many books written about the various aspects of cloud computing, Testing Cloud Services: How to Test SaaS, PaaS & IaaS is the first that enables the reader to successfully make the transition from hype to actuality from a testing and scalability perspective." Read on for the rest of Ben's review.
45 comments | about a year ago
rueger writes "I can remember trading up from a daisy-wheel printer to dot matrix, and can remember when Jerry Pournelle used to say 'Buy the most expensive HP printer you can afford.' Mine was a 4P. Times have changed, though, and I'm looking for trustworthy advice before buying a couple of new printers. Specifically, a B&W Laser with sheet feed scanner, and a color inkjet with a solid flatbed scanner for copying music. We want solid, reliable machines that will give a few years of small office service, that have reasonably cheap consumables, and that will "just work" with Windows and Linux. Network ready of course. Let me expand. These days there seems to be no market leader in printers — they tend to be cheap disposable items. Part of the reason is that it is hard to find any real user reviews of these machines — most of the comments on Best Buy or other sites are full of fanboy enthusiasm, or extreme negativity — nothing that can be relied on. Between those, and the sock puppets, and the astroturfing, there's nothing I'd trust. I do trust Slashdot, though, for things like this. People here are able to offer realistic advice and experience that can usually tell the story. So, I ask: who's making good printers these days?"
381 comments | about a year ago
Zothecula writes "In three years, if you happen to be 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) beneath the surface of the ocean, keep an eye out for the Cyclops. No, not the hairy giant, but the 5-passenger submersible. Once it's commercially available in 2016, it should be 'the only privately owned deep-water manned submersible available for contracts.' 'That 7-inch-thick hull will be made of carbon fiber, in which individual strips of pre-impregnated fiber are individually placed within the carbon fiber matrix. Developed by Boeing, this technique is said to offer finer production control than the more traditional filament winding process, and should allow the Cyclops to withstand the 4,300 psi (300 bar) of water pressure it will encounter at its maximum diving depth – the earlier-mentioned 3,000 meters.' As for why it's called the Cyclops, just check out its one-big-eye-like 180-degree borosilicate glass observation dome."
66 comments | about a year and a half ago