Iceland election could propel radical Pirate party into power [Published articles]

Cranberries crush bacteria's communication networks [Published articles]

Fruit or bacteria-fighting power pills?

They might not be as fashionable among the hipster set as kale but cranberries' health properties are undisputed. Long known as a remedy for urinary tract infections, they have in recent years also been shown to benefit our gut, heart, immune system and brain. And now, a new study has revealed that these berries might just be able to succeed where conventional antibiotics are struggling: stop bacterial infections from spreading by disrupting the pathogens' communication networks.

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Category: Science

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Librarians, beware: Lobbyists will use Pallante removal to justify anti-consumer copyright office outside LoC [Published articles]

Maria Pallante, just removed as register of copyrights, won’t serve as a senior advisor to Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

She instead has submitted a letter of resignation from LoC, effective October 29.

Meanwhile copyright hawks are using the ouster as ammunition in their push for an industry-friendly replacement of the U.S. Copyright Office outside the the Library of Congress. From the Hollywood Reporter:

“This is just an example of why the Copyright Office needs to be its own agency,” says Dina LaPolt, an independent lawyer who represents performers and songwriters. “You have a fundamental disconnect between the Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights: The Librarian wants works to be as accessible as possible, and the Register needs to make sure they’re not always accessible unless the copyright holder approves.”

At least some legislators agree. In a statement released Tuesday, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said: “The resignation of Maria Pallante as U.S. Register of Copyrights underscores the long-standing challenges associated with housing the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress.”

The American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and pro-library groups such as EveryLibrary should prepare for a worst-case scenario and start a proactive email campaign to keep the copyright office within LoC, not just press for a pro-library permanent successor to Maria Pallante.

EveryLibrary normally focuses on matters such as helping local library supporters fight for adequate library funding. But perhaps the battle over the fate of the U.S. Copyright Office could be an exception, given the impact that anti-library interpretations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other copyright decisions can have on the availability and prices of content for libraries as well as consumers directly. Yes, libraries should be fair to publishers—I think “pro library” can mean “in favor of fair and balanced copyright law.” It’s just that I fear the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.

Meanwhile, pre-election, library supporters and those of former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders should remind front-runner Hillary Clinton that the copyright office has often exemplified D.C. at its worst. She has received a fortune from Hollywood campaign donors. At the same time she has called for pro-consumer reforms in such areas as orphan works. So there is hope. Will she take a stand on copyright office matters? Now is the time to approach her with a friendly reminder of the obvious. Joan and Joe Public again and again have lost out to Washington insiders on copyright matters. Significantly the U.S. Constitution says copyright exists to “promote the promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” as opposed to profit optimization for special interests.

Within the ebook world, the Copyright Office has refused to allow legal cracking of DRM for noninfringing purposes even though many legal scholars believe that DRM is a threat to fair use. DRM is also a threat to book culture. It destroys the concept of ownership and complicates the passing of personal libraries on to children and grandchildren.

Not to mention the accessibility issues. DRM, by making ebooks harder to enjoy than without it or with gentler measures such as watermarking, is ironically a threat to the book industry’s prosperity. The Copyright Offices over the years has aggravated the mess that Congress created by creating an anti-DRM circumvention clause. It should be far more generous with exemptions than at the moment.

Just one example of the office’s pro-industry bias

The DRM outrages are just one example of how often industry has prevailed at the Copyright Office. Recently the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a Freedom of Information request to find out why the Copyright Office was so eager to take the side of Hollywood and the cable industries in the cable-box battle. Google and other companies would like to offer competing set-top boxes, a pro-consumer move supported by President Obama. Why should Hollywood “control your TV“? But this proposed change in regulations from the Federal Communications Commission has been put on the back burner and replaced by a less ambitious vision. And you can thank the Copyright Office in part.

“For months,” wrote the Eff’s Ernesto Falcon, based on the 310 pages of correspondence revealed by the FOIA request, “the Motion Picture Association of America and its allies, representing major TV and movie studios, aggressively lobbied the Copyright Office to take sides in the set-top box debate. Meanwhile, it appears that the Office made no attempt to seek other views, whether from independent manufacturers, technologists, or consumers. In fact, Copyright Office officials only spoke to competitive manufacturers after the Office’s opinion letter to the FCC and Congress was already written.” Here’s more from EFF:

After the FCC announced its intention to break up the set-top box monopoly in February of this year, MPAA quickly called on the Copyright Office to meet on the matter. The documents indicate that the first meeting the Copyright Office held on the set-top box issue was not with the FCC but rather the MPAA. Although both the FCC and MPAA reached out to the Copyright Office in late March, Copyright Office officials met with MPAA on April 11 while postponing and meeting with the FCC a week later. Throughout the spring and summer of this year, the Copyright Office alternated between meetings with the FCC, MPAA, and other major content companies such as Comcast and Viacom. On May 31, just hours after holding a conference call with MPAA, the general counsel of Copyright Office emailed her counterpart at the FCC saying “the proposed rule may in fact implicate some rather serious copyright concerns.”

Allies in Congress also reached out to the Copyright Office during the summer. On June 17, a staffer for Congressman Ted Deutch wrote to the Copyright Office, offering to write a formal request for the Office’s opinion on the set-top rules. The premise of the email was that the Congressman was told that Maria Pallante, who was then the head of the Copyright Office, had “expressed a willingness to weigh in on the set top box issue” but would need a Member of Congress to ask first. While the Copyright Office staff indicated internally that they do not invite such requests and were confused by the email, they ultimately did weigh in against the set-top box proposal on August 3rd in response to a formal request sent in mid-July by four Members of Congress including Congressman Deutch.

It seems that despite holding itself out as a neutral expert agency on copyright matters, the Copyright Office regularly engaged in discussions with only one set of parties as it formed its opinion. Not once did the agency reach out to the copyright scholars who explained to the FCC that no copyright interests were harmed by the set-top box proposal. Nor did the agency rethink its position when these same parties made clear that what they want is for the FCC to create new legal rights for them that have nothing to do with copyright law. The Copyright Office did eventually meet with a group of companies who are seeking to build competitive set-top boxes that consumers can buy, but that meeting happened on August 2, just one day before the Office issued its public statement. And that statement gives short shrift to the technology companies’ concerns.

When the U.S. Copyright Office waded into the debate, it could have brought an end to the misleading handwringing over copyright. Instead, it did the opposite by echoing the MPAA and cable companies, claiming that if cable operators were required to allow customers to use the devices of their choice to view the programs they pay for, the studios’ copyrights would somehow be violated. They even went so far as to say the current copyright law landscape is insufficient and therefore the FCC must do more to protect rightsholders.

If this is happening in the set-top top area, what has been going on with e-book related ones? I’d love to see EFF file an Freedom of Information request, if it has not done so already, for so-far-not-public correspondence between the Copyright Office and others on the issue of allowing ebook-lovers to crack DRM for such noninfringing purposes. Just what’s been going on? In a related vein, I’m curious if pro-industry bias of the kind associated with the set-top box correspondence explains why Librarian of Congress Hayden locked Pallante out of her email even while offering her a job as a senior advisor? Did Dr. Hayden want to make certain all the email was preserved at minimal cost, for the purposes of both internal inquiries and the servicing of FOIA requests from pro-library and pro-consumer interests?

Unlikely, but I still hope Maria Pallante will reconsider her resignation

Just the same, I’d still be thrilled if Maria Pallante reconsidered her resignation since she could serve as a bridge between Dr. Hayden and the copyright community as part of national digital library efforts. Part of this could be a national digital library endowment. Within the area of text, it’s pretty sad to see her and many other well-meaning people on both sides fighting over crumbs—the average U.S. household spends only around $100 a year on recreational reading. Instead the copyright interests and librarians and others should focus on increasing the amount of money for books and libraries. Just ten Americans are together worth half a trillion dollars. Libraries would be natural recipients of money from the Gates Giving Pledge. Among other activities a national digital library endowment could not only promote reading and libraries, but also individual titles by way of well-placed spots on TV and elsewhere—for example, a thriller novel advertised on a program appealing to the same audience (“get the library ebook or go to your library to read…”). Not just libraries but also publishers and bookstores would benefit through the exposure. People who couldn’t immediately check out the library book due to high demand could still buy or rent it. A win for all.

Detail: One other argument for the U.S. Copyright Office to remain within LoC is that the library needs easy access to everything copyrighted. This will be both easier and harder in the born-digital era. More content can easily be stored, but at the same time the greater volume of submissions may be a challenge. I wonder if an independent copyright agency would care as much about the needs of the world’s biggest library.

Image credit: Here.

Qualcomm To Buy NXP Semiconductors in $47 Billion Deal [Published articles]

Qualcomm, the largest maker of mobile-phone chips, will acquire NXP Semiconductors NV in a transaction valued at $47 billion, aiming to speed an expansion into new industries and reduce its dependence on the smartphone market. Bloomberg reports: San Diego-based Qualcomm agreed to pay $110 a share in cash for NXP, the biggest supplier of chips used in the automotive industry, or 11 percent more than Wednesday's close, the companies said in a statement Thursday. The deal will be funded with cash on hand as well as new debt. Chief Executive Officer Steve Mollenkopf is betting the deal, the largest in the chip industry's history, will accelerate his company's entry into the burgeoning market for electronics in cars. Eindhoven, Netherlands-based NXP is strong in that sector following its acquisition last year of Freescale Semiconductor Ltd. "It's no secret that we've been looking around," Mollenkopf said in an interview. "If you look at our growth strategy it's to grow into adjacent markets at the time that they are being disrupted by the technology of mobile."

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AT&T requires police to hide Hemisphere phone spying [Published articles]

AT&T built a powerful phone surveillance tool for police, called Hemisphere. Every day, AT&T adds four billion call records to Hemisphere, making it one of the largest known reservoirs of communications metadata that the government uses to spy on us. Law enforcement officials kept Hemisphere “under the radar” for many years—hidden from courts, legislators, and the general public—until the New York Times exposed the program in 2013. EFF sued federal and state law enforcement officials to obtain records about Hemisphere, in part to better understand how and why police kept such a massive spying database secret for so long.

New documents published by The Daily Beast earlier this week reveal that AT&T required this corrosive secrecy. Specifically, the contract AT&T prepared for police seeking access to Hemisphere provides:

[T]he Government agency agrees not to use the data as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceedings unless there is no other available and admissible probative evidence. The Government Agency shall make every effort to insure that information provided by the Contractor is non-attributable to AT&T if the data is provided to a third-party.

In other words, the first rule of Hemisphere is: you do not talk about Hemisphere. We knew this is the government’s rule. Now we know this is AT&T’s rule, too.

What do police do with the Hemisphere evidence that they cannot talk about? According to a Hemisphere training document, police must “wall off” that evidence, and then recreate it with a traditional subpoena. Police call this “parallel construction.” EFF calls it “evidence laundering.”

The harms of secrecy

This secrecy—imposed by AT&T—is highly disturbing for many reasons. Three deserve emphasis.

First, this secrecy hides Hemisphere from democratic oversight. Hemisphere enables police to map our intimate social relationships by data-mining massive amounts of our call records, usually without a warrant. Yet because of Hemisphere’s secrecy, judges cannot rule on whether the program violates the Fourth Amendment. Legislators cannot oversee the program and enact appropriate legislation. Voters cannot hold their elected officials accountable. Everyone is in the dark, except for a small number of law enforcement and corporate executives, who unilaterally decided to impose this highly intrusive program on the rest of us.

Second, this secrecy deprives criminal defendants of their constitutional right to a fair trial. Under Brady v. Maryland, police must disclose favorable evidence to the defense. When police hide their sources of evidence, the accused cannot challenge the quality or veracity of the government’s investigation, or seek out favorable information still in the government’s possession. Moreover, hiding evidence from individuals who are prosecuted as a result of such surveillance is antithetical to our fundamental right to an open criminal justice system.

Third, the new revelation clarifies AT&T’s role in the Hemisphere program. AT&T suggests that all it is doing is passively responding to lawful government demands for information about its customers. In fact, AT&T actively imposes secrecy on police who wish to use AT&T’s Hemisphere program. AT&T’s motives for imposing this secrecy are not presently known. Perhaps AT&T is seeking to avoid public scrutiny of its Hemisphere business model, which earns millions of dollars from police officials in exchange for access to private phone records that AT&T retains for many years longer than its competitors do.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time that police and corporations worked together to hide from the public their deployment of highly invasive spying tools. For example, corporate nondisclosure agreements contributed to years of secrecy about police use of cell site simulators, often called “Stingrays,” which masquerade as cell phone towers and thus force all phones in the area to disclose sensitive information to the police.

Next steps

We must fully expose Hemisphere to the light of public scrutiny. EFF has used public records laws to uncover many Hemisphere records, and we will add any other documents we obtain to our public library of Hemisphere records.

Looking forward, we must stop the police and their corporate suppliers from unilaterally and secretly deploying new surveillance technologies in the first place. Rather, the decision whether to adopt these sensitive tools should be made by elected officials, at open meetings, following ample opportunity for the general public to study the matter and have their voices heard. EFF supports a national campaign to enact laws requiring this process. In many cases, an informed citizenry and their elected officials will say “no” to new spying tools. In other cases, elected officials will impose necessary privacy safeguards.

AT&T and the police tried to keep Hemisphere secret. They failed. The time has come to end the Hemisphere program. As a matter of constitutional law and basic privacy principles, the police should not be allowed, without case-by-case judicial oversight, to scrutinize our social relationships with a database of trillions of phone records.

Related Cases: 

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The Couple Who Cosplays Together Stays Together on This Week's Behind the Mask [Published articles]

Last week, we introduced you to Behind the Mask, our video series exploring the lives of people who take cosplay very seriously. The second video is here, and it’s all about Becka Noel and Dhareza Maramis, professional cosplayers who met through cosplay and have been engaged for over four years—because they can’t stop cosplaying.


Isaac Asimov on How to Be Prolific [Published articles]

Running containers without Docker [Published articles]

Adam Savage Built a Perfect Replica of The Fifth Element's Zorg ZF-1 Blaster [Published articles]

The Fifth Element is one of those movies you can’t help but watch all the way through whenever it’s on TV. There are just too many wonderful moments to miss, but clearly Adam Savage’s favorite was the reveal of the Zorg ZF-1 blaster. Why else would he spend over 10 years building a replica of his own?


Comcast sues Nashville over law that helps Google Fiber [Published articles]

The Google Fiber team isn't having a good week. Comcast has filed a lawsuit against Nashville in a bid to overturn a city law, One Touch Make Ready, that was primarily designed to help speed Google's fiber optic rollout. Much as with an AT&T la...

Elastic brings order to its product line with Elastic Stack [Published articles]

Woman with reflection of search button in her glasses. For the last several years, Elastic has offered a range of analytics and visualization tools to go with its open source search engine. Today, it announced it was pulling those pieces together into an integrated stack. The new product known as Elastic Stack includes all of the company’s products: Elasticsearch, Kibana, Logstash and Beats. It’s available for download or as part of… Read More

IoT Botnet: Finding and Compromising Vulnerable Devices (October 21 and 24, 2016) [Published articles]

Attackers were able to compromise IoT devices by searching for IP addresses associated with them and exploiting unchanged default passwords or using services like SSH and telnet.......

My 1981 Custom BMW [Published articles]

Godzilla: Resurgence's VFX Reel Shows the Hard Work of Annihilating Tokyo [Published articles]

Below the surface, the Godzilla films have always served as a commentary on everything from jingoism to the perils of nuclear weapons. But most of us only watch the movies the wanton destruction of entire cities, which is even more satisfying with the advent of modern computer-generated visual effects.


A Brief History of Every TV Version of Knight Rider, Ever [Published articles]

With today’s news that car-a-holic director Justin Lin is spearheading a “digital reboot” of classic 1980s NBC action show Knight Rider, we got to thinking: exactly how many versions of Knight Rider have hit the airwaves so far? The answer is “way more than you realized.”


Debian Security Advisory: nginx security update [Published articles]

Google Express expands, now reaches 90 percent of U.S. [Published articles]

google-express-bags Only a month after Google expanded its home delivery service, Google Express, across a wide part of the Northeastern U.S., the company is today bringing its Amazon competitor to a number of new states in both the Southeast and Northwest. As of today, Google Express is launching in portions of Alabama, Kentucky, Utah, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho,… Read More

Bank of America is building an AI helper for its mobile apps [Published articles]

If you've ever wanted to get financial advice from a computer, then you're going to love what Bank of America is working on. The company has announced that it's developing Erica, a "virtual assistant" designed to help customers better manage their fi...

New York's free gigabit WiFi kiosks are coming to the UK [Published articles]

BT celebrated the 80th birthday of London's iconic red phone boxes earlier this month, and while some of these are being updated for the digital age, there are still countless antiquated payphones across the country needing a new lease of life. Today...

How to dispute a DMCA strike on YouTube [Published articles]

Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 9.15.21 PM

YouTube has a policy to remove the channel of anyone that receives three complaints of copyright infringement that go uncontested. Bad people use this rule to blackmail innocent YouTubers who don't know how to contest a complaint.

Ethan of H3H3 explains how to respond to a bogus copyright infringement strike on YouTube.


OpenSSL SSL3_AL_WARNING undefined alert remote DoS [Published articles]

Britain's latest ballistic missile sub named as construction begins [Published articles]

Digital composite rendering of the future HMS Dreadnought

As work begins on Britain's next generation of nuclear ballistic missile submarines, the first in her class has been given an historic name. According to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, the Queen today gave the royal assent for the largest-ever Royal Navy submarine to be christened HMS Dreadnought – the ninth such vessel in over 450 years. The date of the naming was chosen to mark Trafalgar Day and the 56th anniversary of the launching of the first British nuclear submarine, also named Dreadnought.

.. Continue Reading Britain's latest ballistic missile sub named as construction begins

Category: Military

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Metamaterial "Lego" creates simple, energy efficient 3D acoustic holograms from any speaker [Published articles]

This simple way of creating incredibly rich, intricate soundscapes is made from an array of 3D ...

A group of engineers from Duke University have developed a way to create acoustic "holograms" that promise to be as magical as visual holograms seemed when they first appeared – all by placing an array of 3D-printed acoustic building blocks in front of a sound wave.

.. Continue Reading Metamaterial "Lego" creates simple, energy efficient 3D acoustic holograms from any speaker

Category: Science

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Must Go Faster... [Published articles]

Tardigrades Can Survive Almost Anything, and Now We Know How [Published articles]

Ingo Juergensmann: Automatically update TLSA records on new Letsencrypt Certs [Published articles]

I've been using DNSSEC for some quite time now and it is working quite well. When LetsEncrypt went public beta I jumped on the train and migrated many services to LE-based TLS. However there was still one small problem with LE certs: 

When there is a new cert, all of the old TLSA resource records are not valid anymore and might give problems to strict DNSSEC checking clients. It took some while until my pain was big enough to finally fix it by some scripts.

There are at least two scripts involved:

This script does all of my DNSSEC handling. You can just do a " enable-dnssec domain.tld" and everything is configured so that you only need to copy the appropriate keys into the webinterface of your DNS registry.

No parameter given.

MODE can be one of the following:
enable-dnssec : perform all steps to enable DNSSEC for your domain
edit-zone     : safely edit your zone after enabling DNSSEC
create-dnskey : create new dnskey only
load-dnskey   : loads new dnskeys and signs the zone with them
show-ds       : shows DS records of zone
zoneadd-ds    : adds DS records to the zone file
show-dnskey   : extract DNSKEY record that needs to uploaded to your registrar
update-tlsa   : update TLSA records with new TLSA hash, needs old and new TLSA hashes as additional parameters

For updating zone-files just do a " edit-zone domain.tld" to add new records and such and the script will take care e.g. of increasing the serial of the zone file. I find this very convenient, so I often use this script for non-DNSSEC-enabled domains as well.

However you can spot the command line option "update-tlsa". This option needs the old and the new TLSA hashes beside the domain.tld parameter. However, this option is used from the second script: 

This is a quite simple Bash script that parses the domains.txt from script, looking up the old TLSA hash in the zone files (structured in TLD/domain.tld directories), compare the old with the new hash (by invoking and if there is a difference in hashes, call with the proper parameters: 

set -e
for i in `cat /etc/ | awk '{print $1}'` ; do
        domain=`echo $i | awk 'BEGIN {FS="."} ; {print $(NF-1)"."$NF}'`
        #echo -n "Domain: $domain"
        TLD=`echo $i | awk 'BEGIN {FS="."}; {print $NF}'`
        #echo ", TLD: $TLD"
        OLDTLSA=`grep -i "in.*tlsa" /etc/bind/${TLD}/${domain} | grep ${i} | head -n 1 | awk '{print $NF}'`
        if [ -n "${OLDTLSA}" ] ; then
                #echo "--> ${OLDTLSA}"
                # Usage: cert.pem host[:port] usage selector mtype
                NEWTLSA=`/path/to/ $LEPATH/certs/${i}/fullchain.pem ${i} 3 1 1 | awk '{print $NF}'`
                #echo "==> $NEWTLSA"
                if [ "${OLDTLSA}" != "${NEWTLSA}" ] ; then
                        /path/to/ update-tlsa ${domain} ${OLDTLSA} ${NEWTLSA} > /dev/null
                        echo "TLSA RR update for ${i}"

So, quite simple and obviously a quick hack. For sure someone else can write a cleaner and more sophisticated implementation to do the same stuff, but at least it works for meTM. Use it on your own risk and do whatever you want with these scripts (licensed under public domain).

You can invoke right after your crontab call for In a more sophisticated way it should be fairly easy to invoke these scripts from post hooks as well.
Please find the files attached to this page (remove the .txt extension after saving, of course).


Attachment Size 812 bytes 3.88 KB

Astronomers unveil incredibly detailed new Milky Way map [Published articles]

Wealth of people in their 30s has 'halved in a decade' - BBC News [Published articles]

Lenovo’s Yoga Book is a fascinating attempt to reinvent the hybrid tablet [Published articles]

Lenovo Yoga Book No mainstream electronics manufacture is making more interesting, innovative and downright bizarre products than Lenovo. Between its contorting efforts under the Yoga banner and the modular handsets being produced by Motorola, the Chinese company is taking the sort of form factor risks we rarely see outside of hardware startups. Nowhere is this better embodied than in the $499 Yoga Book. If… Read More

Tape sticks to almost any surface, repels any liquid [Published articles]

The superomniphobic tape can be applied to a wide variety of materials, including those with irregular ...

There are already processes that allow materials to become superomniphobic (repellant to liquids including oils), by altering their surfaces in such a way that a thin layer of air gets trapped between the material and any liquid that's placed upon it. Typically, however, these technologies require the surfaces in question to be treated by trained personnel using specialized equipment. Wouldn't it be easier if there was just a superomniphobic tape one could apply? Well, now there is.

.. Continue Reading Tape sticks to almost any surface, repels any liquid

Category: Materials

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Update Regarding DDoS Event Against Dyn Managed DNS on Oct 21 [Published articles]

Linux Kernel Vulnerability [Published articles]

Original release date: October 21, 2016

US-CERT is aware of a Linux kernel vulnerability known as Dirty COW (CVE-2016-5195). Exploitation of this vulnerability may allow an attacker to take control of an affected system.

US-CERT recommends that users and administrators review the Red Hat CVE Database, the Canoical Ubuntu CVE Tracker, and CERT Vulnerability Note VU#243144 for additional details, and refer to their Linux or Unix-based OS vendors for appropriate patches.

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

US investigating Friday's internet blackout as 'criminal act' [Published articles]

This morning, several sites were shut down due to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Dyn, a large domain name server. Sites affected include Twitter, Spotify, the New York Times, Reddit, Yelp, Box, Pinterest, Paypal and potentially a lo...

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter views Schiaparelli landing site [Published articles]

UK Government Proposes Minimum 10Mbps Broadband For Poor [Published articles]

An anonymous reader writes: The UK's Local Government Association (LGA) is proposing a social tariff to ensure that minimum broadband access of at least 10 Mbps is available to all UK citizens at an affordable price. Last November, Parliament announced that it would begin work on a Universal Service Obligation (USO), which would grant all citizens the right to request broadband service with a minimum 10Mbps. At the time, Prime Minister David Cameron said, "Access to the Internet shouldn't be a luxury; it should be a right -- absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain." Research by Ofcom in 2014 showed "marked relationships between socio-economic deprivation and [poor] broadband availability in cities". Similar results have been found in rural areas, which means that the demand for increasing broadband service to a minimum level may be high among people with lower incomes.

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Roland Sands takes BMW's retro bike waaaaaay back to the 1930s with the R NineT Classic [Published articles]

Immune system discovery likened to finding a new continent [Published articles]

In this image of the immune system attacking a virus, the Y-shaped stalks on the cells ...

Thanks to the hard work of explorers and cartographers through the centuries, we've now identified all of our planet's landmasses. But when it comes to the landscape inside the human body, new findings still await and they can bring the same thrill that the discovery of a new continent once brought to adventurers. That's how one researcher describes work that's been done in identifying the way cells send up flags to the body's immune system – a discovery that could have a significant impact on how we develop vaccines or treat autoimmune diseases.

.. Continue Reading Immune system discovery likened to finding a new continent

Category: Biology

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The Sequel to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is Coming to Radio! [Published articles]

Marquis de Carabas

Radio 4 is producing “How the Marquis Got his Coat Back”, the follow-up to Gaiman’s 1996 novel/BBC series Neverwhere. The novella was originally published in George R.R. Martin’s Rogues anthology, and features the fantastic Marquis de Carabas’ attempts to retrieve his beloved coat, amongst other adventures. The cast of this new radio drama is The most interesting thing here is that the casts from both the ‘90s BBC television series and the 2012 radio production will combine to form a giant mega cast! The Marquis will once again be played by Paterson Joseph, while Richard Mayhew and Old Bailey will be played by two veterans of the radio production, James McAvoy and Bernard Crimmins.

And as if all that isn’t enough, Neil Gaiman is also making an appearance! He’ll play The Boatman, who ferries The Marquis across Mortlake, the River of the Dead.

McAvoy enthused about his return to London Below, saying, “It’s just a privilege professionally… it’s just fun to go back into that world where so much is unknown and anything is possible.”

And Neil Gaiman is excited to revisit the character, saying, “The Marquis is probably the most fun character I’ve ever written. He is always unpredictable, he is conniving, he is unreliable. He is… especially in Neverwhere, we see him from the outside. So I thought, it would be fun to see him from the inside. It would be fun to watch what happens when we’re actually following the Marquis on a usual day! I mean, a usual day for him seems to involve the threat of him losing his life, several old enmities coming back, brainwashing and some unwanted family relationships. Plus, having to wear a poncho.”

You can head over to Radio Times for a special “first listen” preview of the drama and to read more about the production. “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” will be on Radio 4 on 4 November, and available at BBC iPlayer thereafter.

"Self-control" can be switched off with electromagnetic brain stimulation [Published articles]


University of Zurich researchers used transcranial magnetic stimulation, a noninvasive method of inhibiting activity in parts of the brain, to "turn off" people's ability to control their impulses. They focused on the temporoparietal junction, an area of the brain thought to play an important role in moral decisions, empathy, and other social interactions. They hope their research could help inform our understanding of addiction and self-discipline. From Scientific American:

In their study, subjects underwent 40 seconds of disruptive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)—in which a magnetic coil placed near the skull produced small electric currents in the brain that inhibited activity of the posterior TPJ—then spent 30 minutes completing a task. To rule out a placebo effect, a control group received TMS in a different area of the brain. In one task, subjects made a choice between a reward (ranging between 75 and 155 Swiss francs) for themselves or one that was shared equally between themselves and another person, who ranged from their closest confidante to a stranger on the street. In another task subjects were offered an immediate reward of between zero and 160 Swiss francs or a guarantee of 160 Swiss francs after waiting three to 18 months. In a final task, subjects were instructed to take the perspective of an avatar and indicate the number of red dots on a ball that the avatar would see.

Subjects with an inhibited TPJ were less likely to share the money and were more likely to take the money up front rather than delay gratification and wait for a larger prize. They were also less able take on the perspective of the avatar, which makes sense, says Christian Ruff, a co-author of the paper and an economist at the University of Zurich. “The function of perspective-taking is essential to both of these tasks,” he says, in terms of both “thinking how someone else would feel if you give them money and also how you yourself in the future would feel with that money.”

The findings suggest that the TPJ plays an important role in perspective-taking, which (co-author Christian) Ruff describes as “a very basic social mechanism” that is essential not only for helping us figure out what other people may be thinking and feeling during social interactions but also in self-control, as we weigh the needs and desires of our current self against the needs and desires of our imagined future self.

Facial recognition technology is taking over US, says privacy group [Published articles]

Is the growing use of facial recognition systems by US law enforcement getting out of hand?

Color Blind, Molly Gambardella, pencil sculpture, 2016 [Published articles]

Average day at a IT help desk [Published articles]

NASA Cassini scientist compliments the ring planets in Elite, game creator replies with an offer to adjust his in game rank to allow him to visit Saturn [Published articles]

TIL the longest study of humans ever conducted, the 75 years long Harvard Grant Study, found that professional success in life comes from having done chores as a kid [Published articles]

Interactive clothing via dynamic projection mapping [Published articles]


Technically, cloth is a "deforming non-rigid surface," so projecting a stable image onto clothes is a big technological challenge. To solve it, Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory combined two new techniques that allow stable projection of an image onto clothes even as they move. (more…)

Mario theme performed with trumpet and handgun [Published articles]


Charlie Cook performs cover versions of songs with a gunslinging twist.

Explore the galaxy in 3D with data from the Gaia satellite [Published articles]


Gaia is an interactive 3D map of the galaxy, coded by Charley Hoey and sourced from the eponymous mapping satellite's data: click, drag and scroll/pinch to change the viewpoint. It took a long time to load even on my desktop PC, but the results speak overwhelmingly for themselves.

The Gaia satellite by the European Space Agency is currently orbiting 1.5 million kilometers beyond the moon, twirling through the heavens and dutifully marking down the positions of every point of light it sees. I've processed the program's first batch of data to determine the 3D position of about 2 million stars. Click and drag to orbit, or scroll/pinch to zoom in and out, zoom all the way in to see our sun, just one star among millions. WebVR enabled!

Hoey explains in "torrenting the galaxy" what it took to model two million stars in the browser. Here's an official ESA image made from the same dataset; as beautiful as it is, the enormity of the data it represents seems absent.


Tragedy Strikes the Pumpkin Spice Away Team [Published articles]

Star Trek Pumpkins

Rage of the Nerd posted this tragedy to Instagram, saying, “I tried to make jack-o-lanterns for Command, Science, and Engineering, but one of them was a little….accident prone.”

RIP, Redshirt Pumpkin.

Spreading the DDoS Disease and Selling the Cure [Published articles]

Earlier this month a hacker released the source code for Mirai, a malware strain that was used to launch a historically large 620 Gbps denial-of-service attack against this site in September. That attack came in apparent retribution for a story here which directly preceded the arrest of two Israeli men for allegedly running an online attack for hire service called vDOS. Turns out, the site where the Mirai source code was leaked had some very interesting things in common with the place vDOS called home.

The domain name where the Mirai source code was originally placed for download — santasbigcandycane[dot]cx — is registered at the same domain name registrar that was used to register the now-defunct DDoS-for-hire service vdos-s[dot]com.

Normally, this would not be remarkable, since most domain registrars have thousands or millions of domains in their stable. But in this case it is interesting mainly because the registrar used by both domains — a company called namecentral.comhas apparently been used to register just 38 domains since its inception by its current owner in 2012, according to a historic WHOIS records gathered by (for the full list see this PDF).

What’s more, a cursory look at the other domains registered via since then reveals a number of other DDoS-for-hire services, also known as “booter” or “stresser” services.

It’s extremely odd that someone would take on the considerable cost and trouble of creating a domain name registrar just to register a few dozen domains. It costs $3,500 to apply to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for a new registrar authority. The annual fee for being an ICANN-approved registrar is $4,000, and then there’s a $800 quarterly fee for smaller registrars. In short, domain name registrars generally need to register many thousands of new domains each year just to turn a profit.

Many of the remaining three dozen or so domains registered via Namecentral over the past few years are tied to vDOS. Before vDOS was taken offline it was massively hacked, and a copy of the user and attack database was shared with KrebsOnSecurity. From those records it was easy to tell which third-party booter services were using vDOS’s application programming interface (API), a software function that allowed them to essentially resell access to vDOS with their own white-labeled stresser.

And a number of those vDOS resellers were registered through Namecentral, including 83144692[dot].com — a DDoS-for-hire service marketed at Chinese customers. Another Namecentral domain — — also was a vDOS reseller.

Other DDoS-for-hire domains registered through Namecentral include xboot[dot]net, xr8edstresser[dot]com, snowstresser[dot]com, ezstress[dot]com, exilestress[dot]com, diamondstresser[dot]net, dd0s[dot]pw, rebelsecurity[dot]net, and beststressers[dot]com.


Namecentral’s current owner is a 19-year-old California man by the name of Jesse Wu. Responding to questions emailed from KrebsOnSecurity, Wu said Namecentral’s policy on abuse was inspired by Cloudflare, the DDoS protection company that guards Namecentral and most of the above-mentioned DDoS-for-hire sites from attacks of the very kind they sell.

“I’m not sure (since registrations are automated) but I’m going to guess that the reason you’re interested in us is because some stories you’ve written in the past had domains registered on our service or otherwise used one of our services,” Wu wrote.

“We have a policy inspired by Cloudflare’s similar policy that we ourselves will remain content-neutral and in the support of an open Internet, we will almost never remove a registration or stop providing services, and furthermore we’ll take any effort to ensure that registrations cannot be influenced by anyone besides the actual registrant making a change themselves – even if such website makes us uncomfortable,” Wu said. “However, as a US based company, we are held to US laws, and so if we receive a valid court issued order to stop providing services to a client, or to turn over/disable a domain, we would happily comply with such order.”

Wu’s message continued:

“As of this email, we have never received such an order, we have never been contacted by any law enforcement agency, and we have never even received a legitimate, credible abuse report. We realize this policy might make us popular with ‘dangerous’ websites but even then, if we denied them services, simply not providing them services would not make such website stop existing, they would just have to find some other service provider/registrar or change domains more often. Our services themselves cannot be used for anything harmful – a domain is just a string of letters, and the rest of our services involve website/ddos protection/ecommerce security services designed to protect websites.”

Taking a page from Cloudflare, indeed. I’ve long taken Cloudflare to task for granting DDoS protection for countless DDoS-for-hire services, to no avail. I’ve maintained that Cloudflare has a blatant conflict of interest here, and that the DDoS-for-hire industry would quickly blast itself into oblivion because the proprietors of these attack services like nothing more than to turn their attack cannons on each other. Cloudflare has steadfastly maintained that picking and choosing who gets to use their network is a slippery slope that it will not venture toward.

Although Mr. Wu says he had nothing to do with the domains registered through Namecentral, public records filed elsewhere raise serious unanswered questions about that claim.

In my Sept. 8 story, Israeli Online Attack Service Earned $600,000 in Two Years, I explained that the hacked vDOS database indicated the service was run by two 18-year-old Israeli men. At some point, vDOS decided to protect all customer logins to the service with an extended validation (EV) SSL certificate. And for that, it needed to show it was tied to an actual corporate entity.

My investigation into those responsible for supporting vDOS began after I took a closer look at the SSL certificate that vDOS-S[dot]com used to encrypt customer logins. On May 12, 2015, issued an EV SSL certificate for vDOS, according to this record.

As we can see, whoever registered that EV cert did so using the business name VS NETWORK SERVICES LTD, and giving an address in the United Kingdom of 217 Blossomfield Rd., Solihull, West Midlands.

Who owns VS NETWORK SERVICES LTD? According this record from Companies House UK — an official ledger of corporations located in the United Kingdom — the director of the company was listed as one Thomas McGonagall. 

Records from Companies House UK on the firm responsible for registering vDOS's SSL certificate.

Records from Companies House UK on the firm responsible for registering vDOS’s SSL certificate.

This individual gave the same West Midlands address, stating that he was appointed to VS Network Services on May 12, 2015, and that his birthday was in May 1988. A search in Companies House for Thomas McGonagall shows that a person by that same name and address also was listed that very same day as a director for a company called REBELSECURITY LTD.

If we go back even further into the corporate history of this mysterious Mr. McGonagall we find that he was appointed director of NAMECENTRAL LTD on August 18, 2014. Mr. McGonagall’s birthday is listed as December 1995 in this record, and his address is given as 29 Wigorn Road, 29 Wigorn Road, Smethwick, West Midlands, United Kingdom, B67 5HL. Also on that same day, he was appointed to run EZSTRESS LTD, a company at the same Smethwick, West Midlands address.

Strangely enough, those company names correspond to other domains registered through Namecentral around the same time the companies were created, including rebelsecurity[dot]net, ezstress[dot]net.

Asked to explain the odd apparent corporate connections between Namecentral, vDOS, EZStress and Rebelsecurity, Wu chalked that up to an imposter or potential phishing attack.

“I’m not sure who that is, and we are not affiliated with Namecentral Ltd.,” he wrote. “I looked it up though and it seems like it is either closed or has never been active. From what you described it could be possible someone set up shell companies to try and get/resell EV certs (and someone’s failed attempt to set up a phishing site for us – thanks for the heads up).”

Interestingly, among the three dozen or so domains registered through is “,” a site that until recently included nearly identical content as Namecentral’s home page and appears to be aimed at selling EV certs. was responding as of early-October, but it is no longer online.

I also asked Wu why he chose to become a domain registrar when it appeared he had very few domains to justify the substantial annual costs of maintaining a registrar business.

“Like most other registrars, we register domains only as a value added service,” he replied via email. “We have more domains than that (not willing to say exactly how many) but primarily we make our money on our website/ddos protection/ecommerce protection.”

Now we were getting somewhere. Turns out, Wu isn’t really in the domain registrar business — not for the money, anyway. The real money, as his response suggests, is in selling DDoS protection against the very DDoS-for-hire services he is courting with his domain registration service.

Asked to reconcile his claim for having a 100 percent hands-off, automated domain registration system with the fact that Namecentral’s home page says the company doesn’t actually have a way to accept automated domain name registrations (like most normal domain registrars), Wu again had an answer.

“Our site says we only take referred registrations, meaning that at the moment we’re asking that another prior customer referred you to open a new account for our services, including if you’d like a reseller account,” he wrote.


I was willing to entertain the notion that perhaps Mr. Wu was in fact the target of a rather elaborate scam of some sort. That is, until I stumbled upon another company that was registered in the U.K. to Mr. McGonagall.

That other company —SIMPLIFYNT LTD — was registered by Mr. McGonagall on October 29, 2014. Turns out, almost the exact same information included in the original Web site registration records for Jesse Wu’s purchase of was used for the domain, which also was registered on Oct. 29, 2014. I initially missed this domain because it was not registered through Namecentral. If someone had phished Mr. Wu in this case, they had been very quick to the punch indeed.

In the domain registration records, Jesse Wu gave his email address as That domain is no longer online, but a cached copy of it at shows that it was once a Web development business. That cached page lists yet another contact email address:

I ordered a reverse WHOIS lookup from on all historic Web site registration records that included the domain “” anywhere in the records. The search returned 15 other domains, including several more apparent DDoS-for-hire domains such as,, and

Among the oldest and most innocuous of those 15 domains was, a fan site for a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) called Maple Story. Another historic record lookup ordered from shows that was originally registered in 2009 to a “Denny Ng.” As it happens, Denny Ng is listed as the co-owner of the $1.6 million Walnut, Calif. home where Jesse until very recently lived with his mom Cindy Wu (Jesse is now a student at the University of California, San Diego).


Another domain of interest that was secured via Namecentral is Registered by 19-year-old Christopher J. “CJ” Sculti Jr., Datawagon also bills itself as a DDoS mitigation firm. It appears Mr. Sculti built his DDoS protection empire out of his parents’ $2.6 million home in Rye, NY. He’s now a student at Clemson University, according to his Facebook page.

CJ Sculti Jr.'s Facebook profile photo. Sculti is on pictured on the right.

CJ Sculti Jr.’s Facebook profile photo. Sculti is on pictured on the right.

As I noted in my story DDoS Mitigation Firm Has a History of Hijacks, Sculti earned his 15 minutes of fame in 2015 when he lost a cybersquatting suit with Dominos Pizza after registering the domain (another domain registered via Namecentral).

Around that time, Sculti contacted KrebsOnSecurity via Skype, asking if I’d be interested in writing about this cybersquatting dispute with Dominos. In that conversation, Sculti — apropos of nothing — admits to having just scanned the Internet for routers that were known to be protected by little more than the factory-default usernames and passwords.

Sculti goes on to brag that his scan revealed a quarter-million routers that were vulnerable, and that he then proceeded to upload some kind software to each vulnerable system. Here’s a snippet of that chat conversation, which is virtually one-sided.

July 7, 2015:

21:37 CJ

21:37 CJ
vulnerable routers are a HUGE issue

21:37 CJ
a few months ago

21:37 CJ
I scanned the internet with a few sets of defualt logins

21:37 CJ
for telnet

21:37 CJ
and I was able to upload and execute a binary

21:38 CJ
on 250k devices

21:38 CJ
most of which were routers

21:38 Brian Krebs

21:38 CJ

21:38 CJ
i’m surprised no one has looked into that yet

21:38 CJ

21:39 CJ
it’s a huge issue lol

21:39 CJ
that’s tons of bandwidth

21:39 CJ
that could be potentially used

21:39 CJ
in the wrong way

21:39 CJ

Tons of bandwidth, indeed. The very next time I heard from Sculti was the same day I published the above-mentioned story about Datawagon’s relationship to BackConnect Inc., a company that admitted to hijacking 256 Internet addresses from vDOS’s hosting provider in Bulgaria — allegedly to defend itself against a monster attack allegedly launched by vDOS’s proprietors.

Sculti took issue with how he was portrayed in that report, and after a few terse words were exchanged, I blocked his Skype account from further communicating with mine. Less than an hour after that exchange, my Skype inbox was flooded with thousands of bogus contact requests from hacked or auto-created Skype accounts.

Less than six hours after that conversation, my site came under the biggest DDoS attack the Internet had ever witnessed at the time, an attack that experts have since traced back to a large botnet of IoT devices infected with Mirai.

As I wrote in the story that apparently incurred Sculti’s ire, Datawagon — like BackConnect — also has a history of hijacking broad swaths of Internet address space that do not belong to it. That listing came not long after Datawagon announced that it was the rightful owner of some 256 Internet addresses ( that had long been dormant.

The Web address currently does not respond to browser requests, but it previously routed to a page listing the core members of a hacker group calling itself the Money Team. Other sites also previously tied to that Internet address include numerous DDoS-for-hire services, such as nazistresser[dot]biz, exostress[dot]in, scriptkiddie[dot]eu, packeting[dot]eu, leet[dot]hu, booter[dot]in, vivostresser[dot]com, shockingbooter[dot]com and xboot[dot]info, among others.

Datawagon has earned a reputation on hacker forums as a “bulletproof” hosting provider — one that will essentially ignore abuse complaints from other providers and turn a blind eye to malicious activity perpetrated by its customers. In the screenshot below — taken from a thread on Hackforums where Datawagon was suggested as a reliable bulletproof hoster — the company is mentioned in the same vein as HostSailor, another bulletproof provider that has been the source of much badness (as well as legal threats against this author).


In yet another Hackforums discussion thread from June 2016 titled “VPS [virtual private servers] that allow DDoS scripts,” one user recommends Datawagon. “I use They allow anything.”

Last year, Sculti formed a company in Florida along with a self-avowed spammer. Perhaps unsurprisingly, anti-spam group Spamhaus soon listed virtually all of Datawagon’s Internet address space as sources of spam.

Are either Mr. Wu or Mr. Sculti behind the Mirai botnet attacks? I cannot say. But I’d be willing to bet money that one or both of them knows who is. In any case, it would appear that both men may have hit upon a very lucrative business model. More to come.

I work with NASA's Cassini spacecraft mission at Saturn. From the bottom of my heart: thank you, Elite:Dangerous! [Published articles]

(originally posted this in /r/oculus, and someone suggested to post here instead.)

After over 10 years of working with NASA's Cassini spacecraft mission at Saturn and wondering what it would be like to be there, I can't express how rewarding and mind-blowing it was to actually get to fly above the rings of a Saturn-like planet in my own Virtual Reality spacecraft!

I've worked closely with the images from the Cassini mission and I can tell you Elite did such a wonderful job capturing the scale, shadows, beautiful colors and intricate patterns of a ringed planet. Skimming over the ring plane, diving through the ring gaps, marveling at the massive amount of simulated ring particles while the enormous planet body engulfs my field of view; I can't get enough of it! Not only that, but it looks like a lot of the icy moons in Elite are modeled after the moons of Saturn and Jupiter. The approach and takeoff vistas from moons leave me grinning every time, too.

In case you haven't seen the photos from this mission, check out a few of these websites for comparison to Elite:

Now if i can just get my Federation rank up, I want to make the pilgrimage to Sol and see how well they actually modeled Saturn proper and its moons.

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Ubuntu unveils live kernel patches [Published articles]

DistroWatch is reporting that Canonical is rolling out live kernel patches for Ubuntu LTS. The new feature will allow users and sysadmins to update kernels with security patches without rebooting. The live update feature is available for free for each user for up to three machines.

submitted by /u/daemonpenguin to /r/linux
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Kim Stanley Robinson Has Some Tips For Anyone Hoping to Colonize Mars [Published articles]

The Martian movie

So you wanna colonize Mars, huh kid?

Author Kim Stanley Robinson has got some words for you. Mind you, he should know quite a bit about it–he wrote an entire trilogy about the Red Planet.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Robinson explained that while seeing more people (like Elon Musk and President Obama) getting serious about Mars-travel was heartwarming, the plans outlined so far were a bit too old school for what would truly be required:

Mars will never be a single-person or single-company effort. It will be multi-national and take lots of money and lots of years.

Musk’s plan is sort of the 1920s science-fiction cliché of the boy who builds a rocket to the moon in his backyard, combined with the Wernher von Braun plan, as described in the Disney TV programs of the 1950s. A fun, new story.

He went on to describe a more ideal scenario–one in which the participants would be selected the way astronauts traditionally have been in the past, rather than having deep pockets. Robinson went into more detail about who would be involved with the project, even what the colonists would wear:

Indoors, people would wear what they wanted for comfort. Outside, they’d be in special Mars suits that are not like spacesuits. They would resemble diving drysuits in some respects. Getting in and out of the clothing and the shelters would be a big effort, and keeping the dust out of the shelters would be really hard but necessary.

He also pointed out that the group would have to live underground to reduce their radiation exposure and risk of cancer. But Robinson also stressed that he believed that the moon would likely overtake Mars as a more viable option for occupation once people really started putting their heads together and realizing how long colonization would take. The decades of development required at the outset would probably make the moon a more attractive prospect in the short term.

For more of Robinson’s musing on the subject, head over to Bloomberg for the full interview.

This 800-year-old Icelandic hymn sung in a train station is utterly haunting [Published articles]

Animation about solar sailing to the nearest star [Published articles]

In this wonderful animation, billionaire Russian physicist and investor Yuri Milner explains his effort to launch tiny probes, powered by 12 foot solar sails, on an interstellar mission to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, within two decades. Cosmologist Stephen Hawking and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are on the board of Milner's group, called Breakthrough Initiatives. The project builds on decades of work by scientists Carl Sagan, Louis Friedman, and Bruce Murray who pioneered solar sail technology through the Planetary Society, the fantastic citizen-funded space advocacy and research organization they co-founded in 1980. Indeed, Friedman is an advisor to Milner's Starshot effort.

For more on solar sailing, check out the Planetary Society's LightSail project and their blog post earlier this year about Milner's far out project.

LeEco takes on Apple, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Samsung, Oculus, Tesla and Uber in US debut [Published articles]

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-3-31-48-pm LeEco is not a household name in the States. You don’t see their products in Walmart or Best Buy. Chances are you don’t know anyone that uses LeEco’s movie streaming service or a LeEco smartphone. LeEco hopes to change that. Today at an odd and overblown event, the company burst into the North American market with a bevy of services and products that’s set to take… Read More

Laura Benanti's baffling Melania trump-splains things to Stephen Colbert [Published articles]


Melania Trump's re-emergence, after her bout with plagiarism, finally allowed Stephen Colbert to bring back the fantastic Laura Benanti. Bennati's impersonation of Mrs. Trump is as wonderful as last Saturday's SNL masterpiece.

You'll want to watch to the end, Mrs. Trump's exit is spectacular.

Check Out Our First, Tantalizing Look at Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2! [Published articles]


James Gunn has released a brief-but-wonderful tease for Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 on Facebook! He must love us. Click through for the whole clip.

And as if that wasn’t enough, here’s the new poster!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 poster


[via Facebook!]

ESA Lander's Signal Cut Out Just Before It Was Supposed To Land on Mars [Published articles]

An anonymous reader shares an ArsTechnica report: On Wednesday, the European Space Agency sought to become the second entity to successfully land a spacecraft on Mars with its Schiaparelli lander. And everything seemed to be going swimmingly right up until the point that Schiaparelli was to touch down. The European scientists had been tracking the descent of Schiaparelli through an array of radio telescopes near Pune, India and were able to record the moment when the vehicle exited a plasma blackout. The scientists also received a signal that indicated parachute deployment. But during the critical final moments, when nine hydrazine-powered thrusters were supposed to fire to arrest Schiaparelli's descent, the signal disappeared. At that point, the European Space Agency's webcast went silent for several minutes before one of the flight directors could be heard to say, "We expected the signal to continue, but clearly it did not. We don't want to jump to conclusions."

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Hard work and lower standards raise our national high school graduation rate [Published articles]


Nationally the High School graduation rate has been on the rise. NPR reports the rise is due to a combination of hard work that benefits students, and some states simply lowering standards so they earn passing grades.

Via NPR:

While the graduation rate continues to climb, the improvement comes at a time when the scores of high school students on the test known as the "Nation's Report Card," are essentially flat, and average scores on the ACT and SAT are down.

As we've reported, the rising graduation rate reflects genuine progress, such as closing high schools termed "dropout factories," but also questionable strategies by states and localities to increase their numbers.

"For many students, a high school diploma is not a passport to opportunity, it's a ticket to nowhere," says Michael Cohen, president of Achieve, a national nonprofit that's long advocated for higher standards and graduation requirements.

Cohen points out that roughly half of states now offer multiple diplomas. Some of those credentials are rigorous, some aren't. "You don't know how many students who were in that graduation rate actually completed a rigorous course of study. We're not transparent about that. We're concealing a problem."

In many places, the high school graduation exam is also a low bar, Cohen says, while some states have dropped it altogether.

Just last month, in a major school funding ruling, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher excoriated his state for watered down graduation standards that, he says, have already resulted "in unready children being sent to high school, handed degrees, and left, if they can scrape together the money, to buy basic skills at a community college."

It's difficult to know which states earned this uptick in graduation rates through high standards and hard work and which states achieved it through shortcuts and lowered expectations. In some cases, it's all of the above.

T-Mobile agrees to pay FCC $48m over misleading data plans [Published articles]

T-Mobile has championed itself as a provider of "unlimited" wireless data -- but its plans have historically also come with a wide variety of caveats, be they throttling video data or slowing you down when you hit a data cap. The FCC has decided that...

This version of Queen's We Will Rock You is best [Published articles]


Here's a version of We Will Rock You that actually rocks instead of sounding like a stadium full of drunk teenagers. It's from a 1970s BBC session, according to the liner notes. Right on!

Does Your Resume Need Leveling Up? [Published articles]

D&D Resume

Imgur-er rabbihimself has some advice for sprucing up the old resume that will give you the edge in a Cleric-driven marketplace. Just be careful not to refer to work experience as XP, that will be a tip-off during the interview.

Satellite Images Show Haiti Stripped Bare by Hurricane Matthew [Published articles]

It’s been almost two weeks since Hurricane Matthew ravaged Haiti, killing hundreds and setting the stage for disease and starvation. New photos taken from space reveal the extent of the damage and the disturbing amount of vegetation lost in the storm.


Rich people can afford to buy more sleep than poor people [Published articles]


In Rich do not rise early: spatio-temporal patterns in the mobility networks of different socio-economic classes, a group of transportation engineers analyze an open data-set about the commutes of people in the Colombian cities of Medellín and Manizales, concluding that the rich and the poor commute the furthest distances, but that the rich have much shorter commutes, thanks to private transport and superior routing, which translates to substantially more sleep for the wealthy. (more…)

Watch live as two spacecraft make it to Mars [Published articles]

esa-lander1 Two spacecraft are making their final approaches to mars as part of the European Space Agency and Russian Federal Space Agency’s joint ExoMars mission, including an orbiting craft designed to detect trace amounts of gas in the atmosphere, and a landing craft that will attempt to touch down on the surface of the Red Planet. The arrival of both space craft at Mars will be broadcast live by… Read More

China’s longest human spaceflight mission begins on the Chinese space station [Published articles]

The Long March 7 rocket carrying the Tiangong-2 module blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China's Gansu Province, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (Chinatopix via AP) Two taikonauts (Chinese astronauts) have docked to the Chinese space station, Tiangong-2, kicking off the nation’s longest human spaceflight mission to date. Watch LIVE: #Shenzhou11 and #Tiangong2 set for orbital docking #Today at 19:30UTC cc: @Astroguyz — Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) October 18, 2016 Over the course of 30 days,… Read More

Vudu offers ad-supported movies 'on us' [Published articles]

For years, Walmart-owned Vudu has had a reputation for its high picture quality and ties to Ultraviolet digital copies. Now, the video on-demand store is trying something new: free movies. There is a catch, however, as the free flicks will contain ad...

Americans Work 25% More Than Europeans, Study Finds [Published articles]

Americans are addicted to their jobs. U.S. workers not only put in more hours than workers do almost anywhere else. They're also increasingly retiring later and taking fewer vacation days, reports Bloomberg. From the article: A new study tries to measure precisely how much more Americans work than Europeans do overall. The answer: The average person in Europe works 19 percent less than the average person in the U.S. That's about 258 fewer hours per year, or about an hour less each weekday. Another way to look at it: U.S. workers put in almost 25 percent more hours than Europeans. Hours worked vary a lot by country, according to the unpublished working paper by economists Alexander Bick of Arizona State University, Bettina Bruggemann of McMaster University in Ontario, and Nicola Fuchs-Schundeln of Goethe University Frankfurt. Swiss work habits are most similar to Americans', while Italians are the least likely to be at work, putting in 29 percent fewer hours per year than Americans do.

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Google open sources the code that powers its domain registry [Published articles]

DUBLIN, IRELAND - APRIL 19: (FRANCE OUT) A general view the Google European headquarters, on April 19, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty Images) Google today released Nomulus, the Java-based registry platform that powers Google’s own .google and .foo top level domains (TLDs). Google says it started working on the technology behind Nomulus after the company applied to operate a number of generic TLDs itself back in 2012. Until then, domain names were mostly restricted to the .com’s, .net’s and various country-level… Read More

The Answer to Why Humans Are So Central in Star Trek [Published articles]

Star Trek First Contact, Dixon Hill, Picard, Lily

Don’t you ever wonder why so many Federation starships in Star Trek suffer weirdly-timed meltdowns? Sure, it’s television, but shouldn’t there be a real reason for all the shenanigans? For all that really weird engineering?

There is. And that reason is simple–humans are ridiculous. And wonderful. But also ridiculous.

It started as a harmless headcanon on Tumblr by prokopetz:

Star Trek Tumblr headcanon

Which was magnified by a perfect shout-out to Back to the Future:

Star Trek Tumblr headcanon

Then roachpatrol swooped in to explain why no one else wants the Chief Engineer spot on the Enterprise:

Star Trek Tumblr headcanon

underscorex helpfully provided some context, pointing out humanity’s greatest strength/weakness:

Star Trek Tumblr headcanon

Then the Vulcans explained to the Klingons why humans are given a weird free pass to run things:

Star Trek Tumblr headcanon

To help elucidate the point, dragon-in-a-fez brought evidence from both Deep Space 9 and the USS Pegasus:

Star Trek Tumblr headcanon

The sheer horror of MacGuyver was expounded upon:

Star Trek Tumblr headcanon

And Captain Picard’s flawless (read: incredibly flawed but beautiful) plan in First Contact was put into perspective:

Star Trek Tumblr headcanon

And there you have it. The reason why everything works the way it does on Star Trek. Because we’re constantly plugging warp cores into each other just to go have a fight with our alternate universe counterparts. It’s not our fault–it’s how humans get things done. We go where no sane person has gone before!

[Via Imgur]