ewhac writes "The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the MythBusters accidentally sent a cannon ball hurtling in to Dublin this afternoon, punching through a home, bouncing across a six-lane road, and ultimately coming to a rest inside a now-demolished Toyota minivan. Amazingly, there were no injuries. The ball was fired from a home-made cannon at the Alameda County Sheriff's Department bomb range, and was intended to strike a water target. Instead the ball missed the water, punched through a cinder-block wall, and skipped off the hill behind. Prior to today, the MythBusters had been shooting episodes at the bomb range for over seven years without major incident. It is not clear whether Savage/Hyneman or Belleci/Imahara/Byron were conducting the experiment." Link to Original Source top
ewhac writes "Easter Sunday saw the release of the nominations for the 2011 Hugo Awards. Among the many distinguished names was Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd, nominated for the 2011 award for Best Fan Artist. The 2011 Hugos will be presented at WorldCon 2011 in Reno in August this year. (Be sure to fill out and return your ballot!)" Link to Original Source top
ewhac writes "Back in June, the American Civil Liberties Union published an article describing Facebook's complete lack of meaningful security on your and your friends' information. The article went virtually unnoticed. Now, a developer has written a Facebook "Quiz" based on the original article that graphically illustrates all the information a Facebook app can get its grubby little hands on by recursively sweeping through your friends list, pulling all their info and posts, and showing it to you. What's more, apps can get at your information even if you never run the app yourself. Facebook apps run with the access privileges of the user running it, so anything your friend can see, the app they're running can see, too. It is unclear whether the developer of the Facebook app did so "officially" for the ACLU." Link to Original Source top
ewhac writes "The vice president of mechandising and operations for Fry's Electronics, Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, was arrested last Friday on charges of embezzlement to the tune of at least $65 million. Sales representatives are normally independent contractors, to preserve impartiality during negotiations. According to IRS allegations, Siddiqui convinced Fry's management he should be sole sales representative. He then struck side deals with major vendors (not named in the complaint) starting in 2005 where, in exchange for placing large orders and keeping their products on the shelves, the vendors would pay enormous kickbacks to a shell corporation set up by Siddiqui, called PC International. Siddiqui used the money to lead an extravagant lifestyle, racking up nearly $18 million in casino gambling losses. He is currently held on $300,000 bond." Link to Original Source top
ewhac writes "Scenemusic.net, a/k/a Nectarine.fr, a site continuously streaming demoscene-related music for over eight years, was destroyed today by an online vandal. Scenemusic.net's collection was one of the most comprehensive on the net, with tunes going back over 20 years to the Commodore-64 days. Still recovering from a similar attack barely a month ago, Scenemusic.net had been reassembled and was staggering back to its feet when today's attack maliciously and completely destroyed the database. Left without a usable backup, the site's administrator Christophe has sadly decided to throw in the towel, and has recommended to PayPal subscribers helping to defray bandwidth costs to cancel their subscriptions.
Editorial Remarks: We may idly speculate about Christophe's security and administrative acumen, but this remains a sad loss for the net, not merely for the destroyed resource, but for the ever-decreasing ability for hobbyists and enthusiasts to operate an Internet presence without being completely overrun by anonymous, and in many cases automated, sociopaths." Link to Original Source top
ewhac writes "A rather important user on my home wireless network — my sweetie — regularly experiences drop-outs on the network lasting from a few seconds to three minutes, which cause timeouts and are nearly fatal to her computer usage. Before I blame the problem on her machine, I would like to conclusively prove or disprove the culpability of the wireless network environment. What diagnostic tools are available? Are there ways of measuring the resilience of a WiFi interface to noise/interference? Assuming it's neighbors with competing WAPs, how can I measure the degree of interference they may be causing? How can I correlate RF noise with a network hang?
More detail: My sweetie extensively surfs the net from a Win-XP laptop (and before you accuse the machine of being infected with something, she's very dilligent at keeping it clean and up to date). She virtually lives off this machine, so I can't run dedicated diagnostic tools on it for more than a couple hours. I thought I'd solved the problem by upgrading the WAP from an old Linksys WAP54G to a Netgear WG302v2, but it only marginally reduced the problem. These drop-out issues are not observed on any of the hard-wired computers. The LAN switch is Linksys, and the NAT gateway to the Internet is a dedicated FreeBSD box, so I don't suspect any issues there. So I'd like to test the wireless network and find out what, if anything, is causing the hiccups. I'm aware of passive monitoring tools like kismet, but ultimately I need to diagnose the connection to her machine, ideally in a minimally invasive way." top
ewhac writes "One of the most famous live television gaffes in recent history was the 2004 SuperBowl halftime "wardrobe malfunction," which briefly exposed a mortified Janet Jackson's breast to an international audience. Bowing to coordinated pressure from socially conservative groups, the FCC fined CBS $550K for the mishap — the $27,500 maximum fine multiplied by CBS's 20 owned-and-operated stations. Today, the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals threw the fine out, saying that the FCC had deviated from its 30-year history on previous such matters, and had, "acted arbitrarily and capriciously," when levying the fine." Link to Original Source top
ewhac writes "What Apple giveth, AT&T stealeth right back. A Salon article reads the fine print and crunches the numbers, and finds that the $200 handset price drop is more than eaten up by AT&T's $10/month price hike for unlimited data access over the mandatory two-year contract period. There has been no announcement of new carriers, so AT&T presumably remains the exclusive service provider for iPhone. Also, this rebalancing of the carrier subsidy may give Apple a fiscal incentive to quash 'jailbreak' hacks more vigorously." Link to Original Source top
ewhac writes "The California State Supreme Court today struck down the state's law banning same-sex marriages. In a 4-3 decision, the court said that "domestic partnerships" were not a complete substitute for marriage. This may pave the way for California to become the second state in the Union to officially sanction same-sex marriages." Link to Original Source top
ewhac writes "After basically bringing down the wrath of every civil libertarian in the country, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White has conceded that he erred and exceeded Constitutional authority when ordering the Wikileaks domain to be erased, and has dissolved the injunction. He also rejected a motion to have the disputed documents purged from the Wikileaks site. White left open the possibility for Julius Baer & Co's suit to continue forward, but suggested that the bank may want to investigate other ways to redress its grievances." Link to Original Source top
ewhac writes "Having just recently taken a new job, I find myself confronted with an enormous pile of existing, unfamiliar code written for a (somewhat) unfamiliar platform, and an implicit understanding that I'll grok it all Real Soon Now. Simply firing up an editor and reading through it has proven unequal to the task. What sorts of tools exist for effectively analyzing and understanding a large code base? (You should not assume the development or target platform is Windows.)
I'm familiar with cscope, but it doesn't really seem to analyze program structure, per se. It's just a very fancy 'grep' package with a rudimentary understanding of C syntax. As such, I've only put minimal effort in to it. A new-ish tool called ncc looks very interesting, as it appears to be based on an actual C/C++ parser, but the UI is klunky, and there doesn't appear to be any facility for integrating/communicating with an editor." top
ewhac writes "The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that computer security researchers throughout the University of California system managed to crack the security on every voting machine they tested that has been approved for use in the state. The researchers are unwilling to say how vulnerable the machines are, as the tests were conducted in an environment highly advantageous to the testers. They had complete access to the devices' source code and unlimited time to try and crack the machines. No malicious code was found in any of the machines, but Matt Bishop, who led the team from UC Davis, was surprised by the weakness of the security measures employed. The tests were ordered by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who has until Friday of next week to decide whether to decertify any of the machines for use in the upcoming Presidential primary election." top
ewhac writes "An explosion at the Mojave Air and Space Port has killed two people and critically injured four others, according to the Associated Press. Details are sketchy at the moment. Nitrous oxide is reported to be involved, but it is not yet known if a motor test was involved. The Mojave Air and Space Port, located in the high desert near Edwards Air Force Base, is owned by Scaled Composites LLC, the builders of SpaceShipOne." top
ewhac writes "While nearly everyone was going crazy over the iPhone, the computing community lost a luminary on Friday. Jim Butterfield, an early columnist and author for hobbyist computing in the 1970's and 80's, passed away peacefully in his sleep at 1:30 AM on 29 June. He was 71. Jim had been battling cancer since at least December of last year, when he announced he was beginning chemotherapy. Jim was a frequent contributor to periodicals such as The Transactor, COMPUTE!, and TPUG; and was the author of several books on introductory programming. Jim's clear and incisive writing helped introduce a generation of newcomers to the joys and wonders of computers and computer programming. No small fraction of today's engineers owe their livlihoods to Jim's writing and enthusiasm, this chronicler included. He will be missed." top
ewhac writes "Karen Lodrick was entering her sixth month of hell dealing with the repercussions of having her identity stolen and used to loot her accounts. But while she was waiting for a beverage, there standing in line was the woman who appeared on Wells Fargo security video emptying her accounts. What followed was a 45 minute chase through San Francisco streets that ended with the thief being taken into custody by police." top
ewhac writes "It is common tradition in Western culture to not speak ill of the dead. Many will doubtless find themselves sorely tested to uphold this tradition when learning of the death of Jack Valenti, the former head of the RIAA. He was 85. Valenti, a decorated World War II veteran, abolished the restrictive Hays censorship code in favor of the motion picture ratings system which he was instrumental in designing. No stranger to controversy, he was also at loggerheads with the burgeoning high-tech community, having compared the video recorder to the Boston Strangler, and successfully lobbied Washington for the NET Act and the DMCA. Valenti died from complications of a stroke suffered in March. He had been hospitalized for several weeks at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center before passing away today." top
ewhac writes "The Associated Press is reporting that Google has struck a deal to acquire DoubleClick for $3.1 billion in cash. DoubleClick, one of the oldest advertising companies on the Web, has been long criticized for its questionable practices of using browser cookies to quietly track the browsing habits of users. It is unclear how this acquisition meshes with Google's mantra of, "Don't be evil."" top
ewhac writes "Apparently a Jeff Bridges film is now a credible threat to the Republic. Reports are emerging from Hollywood that the Department of Homeland Security has classified the film TRON as "sensitive" and ordered Disney studios to surrender all its copies. Concern reportedly surrounds the live action scenes shot at the Shiva nuclear fusion research facility, which apparently after 25 years are now considered to reveal sensitive details about nuclear technology." top
ewhac writes "iSuppli has just published the results of their tear-down of the Sony PS3. According to their estimates, Sony is losing $241 per unit for the PS3 with the 20Gig hard disk, and $306 for the 60Gig version. By contrast, the 20Gig Xbox 360 of today costs $75 less than it's $500 price tag. Even given the high BOM of the Sony, however, iSuppli describes the PS3 as a sophisticated, cutting-edge design. Other choice details include the 400 Watt power supply, and the three custom ASICs, each with over 1200 pins."