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Updated: 10 min 31 sec ago

Join the Hunt For the Government's Oldest Computer

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 7:54pm
v3rgEz writes: As the saying goes, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' If a machine is doing its job, reliably and without error, then common sense dictates that you just shouldn't mess with it. This is doubly true for computers and quadruply true for government computers. This lends itself to an obvious question: what's the government computer most in need of an upgrade? MuckRock has launched a new FOIA project to find out, and has already started receiving some interesting results.

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Why You May Not Like Ted Cruz's Face, According To Science

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 7:03pm
An anonymous reader writes: Ted Cruz pitches himself as an overcomer, an underdog, an outsider who beats the odds. While the Republic candidate has won four states in this nomination race so far, a neurologist says he still faces a big obstacle with voters: his own face. In an interview with Quartz, George Washington University's Richard E. Cytowic said the unusual movements of Cruz's face may make him seem less sincere to the human brain than other candidates. "The normal way a face moves is what's called the Duchenne smile, named after the 19th century French neurologist. So the mouth goes up, the eyes narrow and the eyes crinkle at the outside, forming crows feet," said Cytowic, a professor of neurology. "Cruz doesn't give a Duchenne smile. His mouth goes in a tight line across or else it curves down in an anti-Duchenne smile. So he doesn't come across as sincere at all." Visceral reactions probably drive a lot more of politics than anyone likes to admit; seeming trustworthy isn't the same as being trustworthy, but it sure helps win people over.

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Another Windows 10 Update Causing Problems

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 6:01pm
New submitter sexconker writes: The recently-released cumulative update for Windows 10 (KB3140743) is reportedly causing problems. Symptoms include crashes, BSODs, and the inability to boot, even in safe mode. The Windows 10 subreddit has many threads detailing the inability to boot. The only fix seems to be booting to a recovery ISO, uninstalling the update / rolling back, and hoping you don't get hit again. W10Privacy 2 claims to be able to (among other things) give Windows 10 users control over the automatic updates.

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NASA's New Horizons Shows Methane Ice-Capped Mountains On Pluto

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 4:59pm
Last week, it was ice canyons; now, as an anonymous reader writes: The latest images to come from NASA's New Horizons space probe's encounter with Pluto last July 2015 is of a methane snow-capped mountain range around that dwarf planet's equator located in the region known to scientists as Cthulhu. Cthulhu starts from the west of Sputnik Planum, a great nitrogen ice plain, and stretches 1,850 miles long and 450 miles wide, half way around Pluto's equator, making it slightly larger than the state of Alaska. Cthulhu appears to be a dark surface on all of the images returned by New Horizons. Scientists theorize that the darkness is caused by thorins, molecules that result when methane is exposed to sunlight. Cthulhu is a complex region, containing both smooth and heavily cratered plains and the mountain range already mentioned.

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New Ransomware-as-a-Service Speaks To Victims

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 4:08pm
itwbennett writes: Cerber, a new file-encrypting ransom ware, has a couple of interesting features. First, according to cyber intelligence outfit SenseCy, it is available for sale 'as a service' on a private Russian-language forum, which makes it 'available to low-level criminals who might not have the coding skills or resources to create their own ransom ware,' writes Lucian Constantin. Second, one of the 3 files it drops on a victim's desktop is a VBS (Visual Basic Scripting) file containing text-to-speech code that converts text into an audio message. 'When the above script is executed, your computer will speak a message stating that your computer's files were encrypted and will repeat itself numerous times,' said Lawrence Abrams, administrator of the technical support forum BleepingComputer.com, in a blog post.

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SpaceX's Latest Launch Successful, But Ends With a "Hard Landing"

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 3:09pm
Eloking writes with this news from The Verge: SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket into space this afternoon, but — as expected — failed to land the vehicle on a drone ship at sea afterward. CEO Elon Musk said the rocket 'landed hard' on the drone ship. The mission requirements made a successful landing unlikely. This was SpaceX's fourth attempt to land the Falcon 9 post-launch on an autonomous drone ship floating in the ocean. All of the previous sea landings failed too, though the third attempt came very close. The company had low hopes of a successful landing from the start of this mission, since the rocket had to send a heavy satellite into a high orbit. That requires a lot of fuel for the launch itself, so there wasn't much fuel left for the rocket's return to Earth and powered landing.

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Paperless Statements Not Always Best Choice, Says New Report

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 2:20pm
HughPickens.com writes: Ann Carrns reports at the NYT that despite a push by financial institutions to switch customers to digital statements from paper, the traditional hard-copy version may work better for some people, in particuar particular, older, less educated and lower-income consumers who may lack fast Internet connections at home. According to a new report from the National Consumer Law Center, even consumers who know the Internet may simply prefer paper, because statement notifications can easily be overlooked in a deluge of email. Also unlike paper statements, which can be neatly collected and filed away, going paperless on multiple accounts will mean having that information scattered under different user names and passwords. You may also be surprised to learn you have to pay for copies of some older statements. "If you have a system for organizing your paper statements, you should think about how that's going to translate online," says Jim Bruene. Finally you may not be able to go back as far with paperless statements. At Verizon, cellphone customers get up to 12 months of past statements. Customers can also request older statements dating back seven years for $5 per copy. Under federal law, banks must obtain consent from consumers to deliver statements electronically. But banks are sometimes aggressive in encouraging customers to opt out of receiving paper statements. Last summer, holders of some Chase credit cards received pop-up ads when they logged into their accounts online, asking them to switch to electronic statements. The notice said "Action Required," even though no action was necessary if cardholders simply wanted to continue receiving paper statements. The screen showed buttons for "accept" and "manage my preferences," but not for "decline."

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Wayland Isn't Ready For the Fedora 24 Desktop

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 1:24pm
An anonymous reader writes: There was much hope that Fedora 24 would be the first major Linux distribution using Wayland by default in place of an X.Org Server, that didn't pan out with Fedora 24 Workstation developers deciding not to use Wayland by default but it will remain a log-in time option. Fedora Wayland has made a lot of progress but functionality like on-screen keyboard, accessibility, remote displays, USB display hot-plugging, and other functionality is incomplete for the Fedora 24 timeline. At least there are many other Fedora 24 features that made it for this next release due out in June. Wayland will turn eight years old this year.

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WordPress Plugin Comes With a Backdoor, Steals Admin Credentials In Cleartext

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 10:44am
An anonymous reader writes that a WordPress plugin for managing custom post types has apparently been forcibly taken over by an Indian developer who has added a backdoor to the code which lets him install files on infected sites. "This backdoor also allows him to download files which add his own admin account to the site, and even alter core WordPress files so every time a user logs in, edits his profile, or a new user account is created, the user's password is collected (in cleartext) and sent to his server. WordPress hasn't moved in to ban the plugin just yet, despite user complaints.

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Eavesdropping On 3D Printers Allows Reverse Engineering of Designs

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 8:06am
Zothecula writes: 3D printers have opened up all kinds of possibilities when it comes to turning digital blueprints into real word objects, but might they also enable new ways to pilfer intellectual property? Amid all that mechanical whirring, these machines emit acoustic signals that give away the motion of the nozzle, new research has found. And by discreetly recording these sounds, scientists say it is possible for sneaky characters to deduce design details and reverse engineer printed objects at a later date.

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Server Snafu Makes Microsoft Beg For CA Audit Data From Its Partners

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 5:33am
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft, just like Google, Apple, and Mozilla, is part of the CA/BForum, an organization of web browser vendors and certification authorities (CAs). As a browser vendor, Microsoft maintains a list of authorized CAs and their respective root certificates. According to a message on the CA/BForum, there was an error on the server that was running a CRM application that managed this list of trusted certificates and the adjacent details regarding each certificate and CA. The data is lost forever and Microsoft is now asking CAs to resend their most recent audits. Currently a lot of certs are broken in Edge and IE. Microsoft says that it lost audit data for 147 root certificates, which resulted in many SSL/TLS certificates showing errors inside the company's products.

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Mozilla Jumps On IoT Bandwagon

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 3:20am
mikejuk writes: Mozilla has been clarifying some of its plans to convert the Firefox OS project into four IoT based projects. At a casual glance, this seems like a naive move that is doomed to failure. Project Link is a 'user agent' for the smart home, that helps the end user set preferences for device interaction, and automates those connections for the user in a secure environment. Next, Project Sensor Web will be a pilot project for crowdsourcing a pm2.5 sensor network. Project Smart Home is focused on bridging the gap in IoT smart home providers between completely boxed solutions like Apple HomeKit, and completely DIY solutions like Raspberry Pi. Finally, Project Vaani is a voice interface for IoT access, which Mozilla credits as the 'most natural way to interact with connected devices.' With Firefox losing market share and projects like Firefox OS, Thunderbird, Shumway, and Persona closing down, perhaps Mozilla should try and find its way back to core concerns. All four of the projects need significant AI expertise and a powerful cloud computing resource neither of which Mozilla is likely to be able to afford.

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BMW To Compete With Google To Build Software For Self-Driving Cars

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 1:28am
SmartAboutThings writes: Google is about to get some serious competition in the self-driving car race from none other than BMW, one of the most prominent names in the car industry. Speaking to Reuters, BMW's Head of Research and Development, Klaus Frohlich, said the following while present at the Geneva Motor Show: "For me it is a core competence to have the most intelligent car. Our task is to preserve our business model without surrendering it to an internet player. Otherwise we will end up as the Foxconn for a company like Apple, delivering only the metal bodies for them." BMW believes its competitors in the future will include internet taxi service Uber and sales website TrueCar. As the company is approaching its 100th birthday, the company is now on a quest to build the "ultimate driving machine." The company is preparing for a world in which its customers will be mere passengers, and the cars will do the driving themselves.

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Oculus Founder: Rift Will Come To Mac If Apple "Ever Releases a Good Computer"

Sat, 05/03/2016 - 12:40am
An anonymous reader writes: It's been almost a year now since Oculus announced that the consumer version of the Rift virtual-reality headset would only support Windows PCs at launch -- a turnaround from development kits that worked fine on Mac and Linux boxes. Now, according to Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey, it "is up to Apple" to change that state of affairs. Specifically, "if they ever release a good computer, we will do it," he told Shacknews recently. Basically, Luckey continued, even the highest-end Mac you can buy would not provide an enjoyable experience on the final Rift hardware, which is significantly more powerful than early development kits. "It just boils down to the fact that Apple doesn't prioritize high-end GPUs," he said. "You can buy a $6,000 Mac Pro with the top-of-the-line AMD FirePro D700, and it still doesn't match our recommended specs."

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Scientists Have Created Batteries Using Carbon Dioxide From Atmosphere

Fri, 04/03/2016 - 11:55pm
An anonymous reader writes: While climate change talks progress on how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, an interdisciplinary team of scientists have worked out a way to reduce carbon dioxide already existing in the atmosphere. The focus is on the batteries used by electric automobiles. Researchers have found out that the graphite electrodes in the lithium-ion batteries could be replaced with carbon electrodes sourced from atmospheric carbon dioxide. The experiment started with the use of a solar-thermal electrochemical process (STEP) to convert carbon dioxide into carbon. STEP uses solar energy as the source of the thermal and electrical energy required for the dissolution of the atmospheric carbon dioxide to its constituent elements -- carbon and oxygen. The team then used the carbon generated to create carbon nanotubes/nanofibers. They then incorporated these carbon nanotubes into lithium-ion batteries by using them as the positive electrode or anode. While the carbon is used in the manufacture of carbon nanotubes, the oxygen is channeled back to the generator to boost the combustion efficiency of the generator. The increased efficiency will balance the electricity consumption of STEP. In the end, the fossil fuel electrical power plant could have zero net carbon dioxide emissions.

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