We’re looking at cyberbullying the wrong way [Published articles]

Bad egg A bully is a bully and a troll is a troll, no matter where you go online. For as long as online mass communication has existed, online bullying has existed. To effectively address the issue of cyberbullying, one must not only question the environments that yield such behaviors, but examine how and why the behavior exists in the first place. Read More

Google's self-driving car is the victim in a serious crash [Published articles]

Google's self-driving cars don't have a flawless safety record, but it's clearer than ever that careless human drivers remain the greater threat. A commercial van running a red light struck one of Google's autonomous Lexus SUVs as it crossed a Mount...

Accenture Patents a Blockchain-Editing Tool [Published articles]

A blockchain "produces a permanent ledger of transactions with which no one can tamper," reports TechWeekEurope. "Until now." Slashdot reader Mickeycaskill quotes their report: One of the core principles of Blockchain technology has potentially been undermined by the creation of an editing tool. The company responsible however, Accenture, says edits would only be carried out "under extraordinary circumstances to resolve human errors, accommodate legal and regulatory requirements, and address mischief and other issues, while preserving key cryptographic features..." Accenture's move to create an editing system will no doubt be viewed by some technology observers as a betrayal of what blockchain technology is all about. But the company insisted it is needed, especially in the financial services industry... "The prototype represents a significant breakthrough for enterprise uses of blockchain technology particularly in banking, insurance and capital markets," said Accenture. They're envisioning "permissioned" blockchain systems, "managed by designated administrators under agreed governance rules," while acknowledging that cyptocurrency remains a different environment where "immutable" record-keeping would still be essential.

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Darth Vader in the original trilogy was physically played by David Prowse who was a Minotaur in the 1972 episode of Doctor Who ; 'The Time Monster'. Spencer Wilding will physically portray the same character in 'Rogue One' and was the Minotaur in 2011's 'The God Complex'. [Published articles]

Spacial genetic multiplicity?

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US Cities Want Transparency in Law Enforcement Surveillance Tech Use (September 21, 2016) [Published articles]

Eleven US cities will introduce legislation requiring greater transparency of law enforcement agencies' use of surveillance technologies.......

KrebsonSecurity Targeted in Massive DDoS Attack (September 22, 2016) [Published articles]

Earlier this week, KrebsonSecurity.......

Sad Reality: It's Cheaper To Get Hacked Than Build Strong IT Defenses [Published articles]

It's no secret that more companies are getting hacked now than ever. The government is getting hacked, major corporate companies are getting hacked, and even news outlets are getting hacked. This raises the obvious question: why aren't people investing more in bolstering their security? The answer is, as a report on The Register points out, money. Despite losing a significant sum of money on a data breach, it is still in a company's best interest to not spend on upgrading their security infrastructure. From the report: A study by the RAND Corporation, published in the Journal of Cybersecurity, looked at the frequency and cost of IT security failures in US businesses and found that the cost of a break-in is much lower than thought -- typically around $200,000 per case. With top-shelf security systems costing a lot more than that, not beefing up security looks in some ways like a smart business decision. "I've spent my life in security and everyone expects firms to invest more and more," the report's author Sasha Romanosky told The Reg. "But maybe firms are making rational investments and we shouldn't begrudge firms for taking these actions. We all do the same thing, we minimize our costs." Romanosky analyzed 12,000 incident reports and found that typically they only account for 0.4 per cent of a company's annual revenues. That compares to billing fraud, which averages at 5 per cent, or retail shrinkage (ie, shoplifting and insider theft), which accounts for 1.3 per cent of revenues. As for reputational damage, Romanosky found that it was almost impossible to quantify. He spoke to many executives and none of them could give a reliable metric for how to measure the PR cost of a public failure of IT security systems.

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Why the Silencing of KrebsOnSecurity Opens a Troubling Chapter For the Internet [Published articles]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: For the better part of a day, KrebsOnSecurity, arguably the world's most intrepid source of security news, has been silenced, presumably by a handful of individuals who didn't like a recent series of exposes reporter Brian Krebs wrote. The incident, and the record-breaking data assault that brought it on, open a troubling new chapter in the short history of the Internet. The crippling distributed denial-of-service attacks started shortly after Krebs published stories stemming from the hack of a DDoS-for-hire service known as vDOS. The first article analyzed leaked data that identified some of the previously anonymous people closely tied to vDOS. It documented how they took in more than $600,000 in two years by knocking other sites offline. A few days later, Krebs ran a follow-up piece detailing the arrests of two men who allegedly ran the service. A third post in the series is here. On Thursday morning, exactly two weeks after Krebs published his first post, he reported that a sustained attack was bombarding his site with as much as 620 gigabits per second of junk data. That staggering amount of data is among the biggest ever recorded. Krebs was able to stay online thanks to the generosity of Akamai, a network provider that supplied DDoS mitigation services to him for free. The attack showed no signs of waning as the day wore on. Some indications suggest it may have grown stronger. At 4 pm, Akamai gave Krebs two hours' notice that it would no longer assume the considerable cost of defending KrebsOnSecurity. Krebs opted to shut down the site to prevent collateral damage hitting his service provider and its customers. The assault against KrebsOnSecurity represents a much greater threat for at least two reasons. First, it's twice the size. Second and more significant, unlike the Spamhaus attacks, the staggering volume of bandwidth doesn't rely on misconfigured domain name system servers which, in the big picture, can be remedied with relative ease. The attackers used Internet-of-things devices since they're always-connected and easy to "remotely commandeer by people who turn them into digital cannons that spray the internet with shrapnel." "The biggest threats as far as I'm concerned in terms of censorship come from these ginormous weapons these guys are building," Krebs said. "The idea that tools that used to be exclusively in the hands of nation states are now in the hands of individual actors, it's kind of like the specter of a James Bond movie." While Krebs could retain a DDoS mitigation service, it would cost him between $100,000 and $200,000 per year for the type of protection he needs, which is more than he can afford. What's especially troubling is that this attack can happen to many other websites, not just KrebsOnSecurity.

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Revise and Resubmit [Published articles]

Author : R. S. Alexander v1: Derek Taylor was sipping coffee in a Los Angeles restaurant when a recruiter from XygmaCorp walked past his table, accidentally brushing against his shoulder. 57,143 down votes Top-rated comment: “Wait, this is happening in a world with drinkable water in the midddle of the freakin desert? Where’s the world […]

Our Atmosphere Is Leaking Oxygen and Scientists Don't Know Why [Published articles]

The Earth's atmosphere has been leaking oxygen and scientists don't know why. Researchers discovered that over the past 800,000 years, atmospheric oxygen levels have dropped by 0.7 percent. How exactly did they discover the leak? By observing ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, which contain trapped air bubbles representing snapshots of our atmosphere over the past million-odd years. Gizmodo reports: By examining the ratio of oxygen to nitrogen isotopes within these cores, the researchers were able to pull out a trend: oxygen levels have fallen by 0.7 percent over the past 800,000 years, meaning sinks are roughly 2 percent larger than sources. Writing today in Science, the researchers offer a few possible explanations. For one, erosion rates appear to have sped up in recent geologic history, causing more fresh sediment to be exposed and oxidized by the atmosphere, causing more oxygen to be consumed. Long-term climate change could also be responsible. Recent human-induced warming aside, our planet's average temperature had been declining a bit over the past few million years. [Princeton University geologist Daniel Stolper] added that there could be other explanations, too, and figuring out which is correct could prove quite challenging. But learning what controls the knobs in our planet's oxygen cycle is worth the effort. It could help us understand what makes a planet habitable at all -- something scientists are rather keen on, given recent exoplanet discoveries. Stolper's analysis excluded one very unusual part of the record: the last 200 years of industrial human society. "We are consuming O2 at a rate a factor of a thousand times faster than before," Stolper said. "Humankind has completely short-circuited the cycle by burning tons of carbon."

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A Pair of Space Rovers Embark on an Unexpectedly Wild Mission in Charming Short Planet Unknown [Published articles]

Tasked with finding a planet capable of sustaining life, a pair of robots ramble around unexplored terrain, conducting experiments. All is routine on their latest sojourn in Planet Unknown ... until their environment takes an unexpected turn. Good thing they’ve got each other to see the mission through.


Chromium is no longer supported for Chromecast [Published articles]

Just look at this lego banana-mecha being piloted by a dude in a banana suit [Published articles]


Just look at it. (Thanks, Sandro)

Senate panel authorizes money for Mars mission, shuttle replacement [Published articles]

3D photo of Martian moon, Phobos [Published articles]

Image: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

I was looking at photos of the Phobos monolith and I came across this 3D anaglyph of Phobos taken by the European Space Agency's Mars Express space probe. If you have a pair of red-blue 3D glasses, take a gander. It's incredible!

Mars Express HRSC (High Resolution Stereo Camera) image of Phobos taken on 9 January 2011 at a distance of 100 km with a resolution of 8.1 m/pixel. Use red-blue glasses to fully appreciate this image.

Phobos is approximately 27 × 22 × 18 km and orbits Mars at a distance of 6000 km above the planet’s surface, or 9400 km from the centre of the planet.

Nathan Fillion Is Totally Fine With Just One Season of Firefly [Published articles]

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Firefly fan that hasn’t vocally wished there were more episodes of Captain Mal and his goddamned heroes trekking about the ‘verse than the show’s sole, abbreviated season. But at this point, even Nathan Fillion has entered the “acceptance” stage of the five stages of grief.


A Digital Rumor Should Never Lead to a Police Raid [Published articles]


Law Enforcement, Courts Need to Better Understand IP Addresses, Stop Misuse

If police raided a home based only on an anonymous phone call claiming residents broke the law, it would be clearly unconstitutional.

Yet EFF has found that police and courts are regularly conducting and approving raids based on the similar type of unreliable digital evidence: Internet Protocol (IP) address information.

In a whitepaper released today, EFF challenges law enforcement and courts’ reliance on IP addresses, without more, to identify the location of crimes and the individuals responsible. While IP addresses can be a useful piece of an investigation, authorities need to properly evaluate the information, and more importantly, corroborate it, before IP address information can be used to support police raids, arrests, and other dangerous police operations.

IP address information was designed to route traffic on the Internet, not serve as an identifier for other purposes. As the paper explains, IP addresses information isn't the same as physical addresses or license plates that can pinpoint an exact location or identify a particular person. Put simply: there is no uniform way to systematically map physical locations based on IP addresses or create a phone book to lookup users of particular IP addresses.

Law enforcement’s over-reliance on the technology is a product of police and courts not understanding the limitations of both IP addresses and the tools used to link the IP address with a person or a physical location. And the police too often compound that problem by relying on metaphors in warrant applications that liken IP addresses to physical addresses or license plates, signaling far more confidence in the information than it merits.

Recent events demonstrate the problem: A story in Fusion documents how residents of a farm in the geographic center of America are subjected to countless police raids and criminal suspicion, even though they’ve done nothing wrong. A story in Seattle’s newspaper The Stranger described how police raided the home and computers of a Seattle privacy activist operating a Tor exit relay because they mistakenly believed the home contained child pornography. And these are just two stories that found their way into the media. 

These ill-informed raids jeopardize public safety and violate individuals’ privacy rights. They also waste police time and resources chasing people who are innocent of the crimes being investigated. 

The whitepaper calls on police and courts to recalibrate their assumptions about IP address information, especially when it is used to identify a particular location to be searched or individual to be arrested. EFF suggests that IP address information be treated, in the words of the Supreme Court, as more like “casual rumor circulating in the underworld,” or an unreliable informant. The Constitution requires further investigation and corroboration of rumors and anonymous tips before police can rely upon them to establish probable cause authorizing warrants to search homes or arrest individuals. The same should be true of IP address information.

The paper also explains why the technology’s limitations can make it unreliable and how the Supreme Court’s rules around unreliable information provided by anonymous informants should apply to IP address information in warrant applications. The paper concludes with two lists of questions to ask and concrete steps to take: one for police and one for judges.  The goal is to better protect the public so that the misuse of IP address information doesn’t lead to a miscarriage of justice. 

We hope the whitepaper can serve as a resource for law enforcement and courts while also triggering a broader conversation about IP address information’s use in criminal investigations. In the coming months, EFF hopes to discuss these concerns with law enforcement and courts with the goal of preventing unwarranted privacy invasions and violations of the Fourth Amendment. We also hope that our discussions will result in better law enforcement investigations that do not waste scarce police resources. If you are a law enforcement agency or court interested in this issue, please contact info@eff.org.

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The CW goes after cord cutters with its own free, cross-platform streaming service [Published articles]

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-1-19-33-pm As the number of cord cutters in the U.S. continues to grow, The CW is doubling down on its own, subscription-free, over-the-top streaming service, which will now become the only way to watch in-season episodes of the network’s shows. The service will also expand across platforms, including support for Roku, Chromecast, AirPlay, Apple TV, Xbox, and Amazon Fire TV, in addition to… Read More

Science AMA Series: We are Brent, Michael, and Seth and yesterday we published our analysis of the En-Gedi Sea Scrolls. We created a technology that virtually unwrapped and read an ancient scroll - Ask us anything! [Published articles]

Hi reddit!

Our team has completed a digital analysis of the extremely fragile En-Gedi scroll — the oldest Pentateuchal scroll in Hebrew outside of the Dead Sea Scrolls — revealing the ink-based writing hidden on its untouchable, disintegrating sheets, without ever opening it. While prior research has successfully identified text within ancient artifacts, the En-Gedi manuscript represents the first severely damaged, animal skin-based scroll to be virtually unrolled and non-invasively read line by line.

The series of digitization techniques we employed demonstrates that it is possible to “see” ink-based text within an extremely fragile scroll while avoiding the need for physical handling. The traditional approach of unrolling a scroll and pressing it flat in order to duplicate text is not an option for splintering manuscripts like the En-Gedi scroll, which has been burned and crushed into lumps of charcoal.

We began by performing a volumetric scan of the scroll using X-ray microtomography, followed by segmentation, which digitally creates a “page” containing the writing. We pieced together over 100 such scanned segments of the scroll by hand. Further manipulation of the digitized scroll involved using texturing and flattening techniques, and finally, virtual unwrapping to unveil the text written on its pages.

At last, we were able to “see” the text on five complete wraps of the En-Gedi scroll, and the resulting image is one of two distinct columns of Hebrew writing that contain legible and countable lines, words, letters, and spacing. Further analysis revealed the scroll’s writings to be the book of Leviticus, which makes it the earliest copy of a Pentateuchal book ever found in a synagogue’s Holy Ark. This virtual unlocking of the En-Gedi scroll paves the way for further scholarly analysis of this and other text buried in delicate, damaged materials.

Our research was published yesterday in Science Advances, the open-access journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Here is our article: “From damage to discovery via virtual unwrapping: Reading the scroll from En-Gedi”

Brent Seales, professor and chairman in the department of computer science at the University of Kentucky

Michael Segal, the Otsuki Professor of Biblical Studies and head of the School of Philosophy and Religions at Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Seth Parker is the Project Manager on the Scrolls Project, directly overseeing software development by the team's 8 student developers. He's also a big fan of Whit Stillman and Ross McElwee.

We’ll be back at 11 am EST (8 am PST, 4 pm UC) to answer your questions, ask us anything!

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Earthlings get a chance to own NASA's Golden Records [Published articles]

Back in the 70's, famed astronomer Carl Sagan and a team of scientists and artists put together a collection of golden phonograph records, which were sent to space aboard Voyager 1 and 2. They contain greetings in 55 languages, a plethora of animal s...

Hubble Finds Planet Orbiting Pair of Stars [Published articles]

How We Got Here: DNA Points to a Single Migration From Africa [Published articles]

Analysis of chronic fatigue syndrome study casts doubt on published results [Published articles]

Stop Piracy? Legal Alternatives Beat Legal Threats, Research Shows [Published articles]

An anonymous reader writes: Threatening file-sharers with high fines or even prison sentences is not the best way to stop piracy. New research published by UK researchers shows that perceived risk has no effect on people's file-sharing habits. Instead, the entertainment industries should focus on improving the legal options, so these can compete with file-sharing. Unauthorized file-sharing (UFS) is best predicted by the supposed benefits of piracy. As such, the researchers note that better legal alternatives are the best way to stop piracy. The results are based on a psychological study among hundreds of music and ebook consumers. They were subjected to a set of questions regarding their file-sharing habits, perceived risk, industry trust, and online anonymity. By analyzing the data the researchers found that the perceived benefit of piracy, such as quality, flexibility of use and cost are the real driver of piracy. An increase in legal risk was not directly associated with any statistically significant decrease in self-reported file-sharing.

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Rear impressions could make for a comfier bike seat [Published articles]

Someone's distinctive butt signature, on display at Interbike in Las Vegas

Everybody's butt is unique. It would only seem logical, then, that an "off-the-rack" bicycle saddle isn't going to deliver an optimum fit. That's where Meld enters the picture. It's a made-to-fit saddle that's manufactured using a posterior impression that the buyer creates and sends in.

.. Continue Reading Rear impressions could make for a comfier bike seat

Category: Bicycles

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H.G. Wells Invented Everything You Love [Published articles]

Art by David A. Johnson

H.G. Wells is considered one of the fathers of science fiction, and if you look at a brief timeline you’ll see why he’s so extraordinary:

  • 1895: The Time Machine
  • 1896: The Island of Doctor Moreau
  • 1897: The Invisible Man
  • 1898: The War of the Worlds
  • 1901: The First Men in the Moon

So basically for four consecutive years Wells got out of bed on New Year’s Day and said, “What ho! I think I’ll invent a new subgenre of scientific fiction!” And then he took some time off, only to return with a story about a moon landing. If it wasn’t for that gap at the turn of the century, he probably would have invented cyberpunk, too.

To put this amazing streak in some perspective, Wells was born into a very poor family that fell into real poverty during his adolescence. He suffered through a series of Dickensian apprenticeships before he was able to basically study his way up Britain’s social caste system, working at several pupil-teacher positions before winning a scholarship to the Normal School of Science in London and studying biology under Thomas Henry Huxley. After finally earning a B.S. in zoology he became a full-time teacher (A.A. Milne was one of his students) and then began writing the speculative fiction that made him famous. But even that wasn’t enough for him.

Take away H.G. Wells’ role as a founder of science fiction, and what’s left? Allow me to paraphrase Tony Stark: Feminist. Socialist. Pacifist. Non-Monogamist. Utopian. Campaigner against racism, anti-Semitism, and fascism. After World War I, he mostly abandoned writing science fiction in favor of realistic social critiques, and spent the last decades of his life as a lecturer and educator, trying to convince people, even as World War II was unfolding, that humanity deserved a better future.

Oh, and he popularized wargaming! He wrote a book called Floor Games in 1911, in which he developed a theory and methodology for playing children’s games with miniatures and props. Wells followed that up in 1913 with Little Wars, which was designed for “boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books.” Why would a pacifist develop a wargame? He explains his reasoning in the rulebook, which was quoted at length in a recent New York Times article about gaming:

“You have only to play at Little Wars three or four times to realize just what a blundering thing Great War must be. Great War is at present, I am convinced, not only the most expensive game in the universe, but it is a game out of all proportion. Not only are the masses of men and material and suffering and inconvenience too monstrously big for reason, but—the available heads we have for it, are too small. That, I think, is the most pacific realization conceivable, and Little War brings you to it as nothing else but Great War can do.”

Little Wars popularized the idea of games based in miniatures and strategy with a non-military audience. It led in turn to the development of other role-playing games, and influenced Gary Gygax’s work on Chainmail as well as his later work with Dave Arneson on Dungeons & Dragons, as Gygax writes in the forward to the 2004 edition of the game.

So, having either invented or hugely influenced five different subgenres of science fiction, H.G. Wells also created the modern roleplaying game, and it’s safe to assume that he’s responsible for a huge amount of your cultural life! As an extra birthday tribute, we invite you to listen as H.G. Wells teases his “little namesake,” Orson Welles:

This article was originally published September 21, 2013.

Old school speech synthesizers perform Monty Python's "Argument" sketch [Published articles]



John Cleese is played by the Intex Talker, Michael Palin is played by the Dectalk Express ("Perfect Paul modified to sound more like Stephen Hawking"), and the video was made by Per Kristian Risvik, who is an evil genius. I could watch the entirety of the Python oeuvre conducted like this, and in so doing perhaps put behind me John Cleese's shameful support for Brexit. (via Kottke)

Free trade lowers prices -- but not on things poor people need (and it pushes up housing prices) [Published articles]


Part of the economic argument for free trade deals is that they benefit workers by producing cheaper goods -- even if you lose your manufacturing job, you can buy stuff a lot cheaper with the next job you get. (more…)

Astronomers Solve Mystery of Enormous Space Blob [Published articles]

It’s a happy day when astronomers figure out what’s up with an enormous space blob—and the answer doesn’t imply the immediate destruction of humanity.


Lickspittle consigliere: how the super-rich abuse their wealth managers as loyalty tests [Published articles]


Sociologist Brooke Harrington got her Trust and Estate Planning certification in order to study the super-secretive world of the wealth managers who are in charge of hiding the $21 trillion controlled by the world's super-rich from tax authorities, feckless descendants, religious leaders, tax justice activists, kidnappers and extortionists. (more…)

Grace Potter rocks out with NASA in new video on the women of America's space program [Published articles]


Share this inspiring video with every kid or teen you know who dreams of space. John Streeter of NASA Television has sent us some wonderful NASA TV videos over the years. I love this new one with Vermont-born rock and roll star Grace Potter, about some of the amazing women in the history of the American space program. I hope it inspires a little girl out there to become an astronaut.


North Korea Has Accidentally Enabled Outside Access to its Propaganda Websites [Published articles]

What It Costs to Run Let's Encrypt [Published articles]

Kindergarteners Today Get Little Time To Play, and It's Stunting Their Development [Published articles]

Christopher Brown Associate professor, University of Texas at Austin, writes:Researchers have demonstrated that five-year-olds are spending more time engaged in teacher-led academic learning activities than play-based learning opportunities that facilitate child-initiated investigations and foster social development among peers.During his research and investigation, Brown found that a typical kindergarten classroom sees kids and one teacher with them almost the entire school day. During this period, they engage in about 15 different academic activities, which include "decoding word drills, practicing sight words, reading to themselves and then to a buddy, counting up to 100 by ones, fives and tens, practicing simple addition, counting money, completing science activities about living things, and writing in journals on multiple occasions." Recess did not occur until the last hour of the day, and only lasted for about 15 minutes. He adds:For children between the ages of five and six, this is a tremendous amount of work. Teachers too are under pressure to cover the material. When I asked the teacher, who I interviewed for the short film, why she covered so much material in a few hours, she stated, "There's pressure on me and the kids to perform at a higher level academically." So even though the teacher admitted that the workload on kindergartners was an awful lot, she also said she was unable to do anything about changing it.

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MIT 'radio' uses wireless signals to identify emotions [Published articles]

You can lie to your partner, your best friends and even your mom, but you can't lie to EQ-Radio. It's a device out of MIT"s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) that can tell how you truly feel by bouncing wireless signals off you...

Static Website Generators [Published articles]

Valve pulls games after studio plans to sue critical players [Published articles]

If you ran a game studio and faced a slew of very negative (and sometimes threatening) user reviews, what would you do? Strive to improve your work? Rig the reviews? Ignore the haters? Digital Homicide decided that it would be better to sue the revie...

The Making of Lemmings [Published articles]

HP pre-programmed failure date of unofficial/ non-HP ink cartridges in its printers [Published articles]

The Ham Radio Parity Act Unanimously Passed By US House [Published articles]

This week the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed "The Ham Radio Parity Act" -- a huge victory for grass-roots advocates of amateur radio. Slashdot reader bobbied reports: This will allow for the reasonable accommodation of amateur radio antennas in many places where they are currently prohibited by homeowner associations or private land use restrictions... If this bill passes the Senate, we will be one step closer to allowing amateur radio operators, who provide emergency communications services, the right to erect reasonable antenna structures in places where they cannot do so now. The national ham radio association is now urging supporters to contact their Senators through a special web page. "This is not just a feel-good bill," said representative Joe Courtney, remembering how Hurricane Sandy brought down the power grid, and "we saw all the advanced communications we take for granted...completely fall by the wayside."

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Canada to Study a Mysterious Curling ‘Frankenbroom' [Published articles]

Everything is Metal With This Awesome Cover of The Lego Movie Song [Published articles]

Tegan and Sara’s Oscar-nominated track from The Lego Movie is cute, bubbly, and very upbeat. At least it was.


Pluto Is Emitting X-Rays [Published articles]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Scientists have noticed the tiny trans-Neptunium object emitting X-rays, which, if it is confirmed, is both a baffling and exciting discovery. Carey Lisse and Ralph McNutt from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and a team of colleagues detected the X-rays by pointing the Chandra X-Ray Obervatory telescope in Pluto's direction four different times between February 2014 and August 2015. Seven photons of X-ray light were detected during these observations, confirming the team's hypothesis that the dwarf planet is detectable on the X-ray spectrum, potentially due to the presence of an atmosphere. Their findings have been published in the scientific journal Icarus. Why is this such a big deal? First of all, it would challenge what scientists have previously believed to be true of Pluto's nature. Until now, the popular description of the dwarf planet is as a tiny ball of frozen rock slowly meandering around the sun some 3.6-billion miles away. One of the possible explanations for why Pluto is emanating X-rays would be that the high energy particles emitted by the sun are stripping away and reacting with Pluto's atmosphere, producing the X-rays that are visible to Chandra. There are other potential explanations, such as haze particles in Pluto's atmosphere scattering the sun's X-rays are possible, though unlikely given the temperature of the X-rays observed. It is also possible that these X-rays are actually bright auroras produced by the atmosphere, but that would require Pluto to have a magnetic field -- something that would have been detected during New Horizon's flyby, yet no evidence of one was found.

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Futurama's Zapp Brannigan reads things Donald Trump has said [Published articles]


Intergalactic blowhard Zapp Brannigan reading Trump quotations sounds slightly less ridiculous that Trump saying them. Billy West has a hilarious series of videos where he reads actual Trump statements in Brannigan's voice.


Build Your Own Starfleet With These Customized 3D-Printed Star Trek Ships [Published articles]

In Star Trek Online, aspiring captains can take the helm of one of more than 400 different ships that can be further personalized with custom color schemes, materials, shields, and capabilities. And now thanks to Eucl3D, a 3D printing company, those ships can be brought into the real world.


NASA Just Successfully Launched a Spacecraft to an Asteroid [Published articles]

NASA’s asteroid-skimming spacecraft just blasted off into space without a hitch, completing the first step in a seven-year journey that will eventually bring us back several spoonfuls worth of dirt from an asteroid.


Darkwing Duck and DuckTales Are in Separate Universes and This Is Not Okay [Published articles]

Darkwing Duck creator Tad Stones revealed that the terror that flaps in the night doesn’t flap anywhere near Duckberg, because Darkwing and DuckTales exist in two separate universes. Excuse me for a moment, my own universe is collapsing.


Archaeologists Discover Perfectly Preserved 168-Year-Old Ship in the Arctic Ocean [Published articles]

An arctic research mission claims that it’s discovered the HMS Terror, one of two Franklin Expedition ships that sunk during a doomed attempt to traverse the Northwest Passage. Incredibly, the 168-year-old wreck would probably not have been found if it weren’t for information provided by an indigenous crew member.


Science AMA Series: We are a team of scientists and therapists from the University of Marburg in Germany researching chronic pain. We are developing a new treatment for Fibromyalgia and other types of chronic pain. AUA! [Published articles]

Hi Reddit,

We're a team of scientists at the University of Marburg: Department of Medical Psychology which specializes in Chronic Pain. Our research is focused on making people pain free again. We have developed SET, a treatment that combines a medical device with behavioral therapy. Our research shows that patients are different - heterogeneous - and that chronic pain (pain lasting over three months without a clear medical reason) patients typically have a depreciated autonomic nervous system (ANS). More importantly, the ANS can be trained using a combination of individualized cardiac-gated electro stimulation administered through the finger and operant therapy focused on rewarding good behaviors and eliminating pain behaviors. With the SET training, a large percentage of our patients become pain free. Although most of our research has been focused on Fibromyalgia, it is also applicable to other chronic pain conditions. See more information

I'm Prof. Dr. Kati Thieme, a full professor at the University of Marburg in the Medical School, Department of Medicinal Psychology.

If you suffer from chronic pain, or would somehow like to get involved and would like to help us out, please fill out this short survey. It only takes a few minutes, and would be a great help! Thanks!

Answering your questions today will be:

Prof. Dr. Kati Thieme, PhD - Department Head, founding Scientist, Psychotherapist

Johanna Berwanger, MA - Psychologist

Ulrika Evermann, MA - Psychologist

Robert Malinowski, MA - Physicist

Dr. jur. Marc Mathys - Scientist

Tina Meller, MA - Psychologist

We’ll be back at 1 pm EST (10 am PST, 6 pm UTC) to answer your questions, ask us anything!

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Dr. Carla D. Hayden has been sworn in as Librarian of Congress. She is the first trained librarian to hold the position since 1974, the first ever African American, & the first ever woman. Known for fighting PATRIOT Act & keeping Baltimore's libraries open during riots [Published articles]

Snorting a Brain Chemical Could Replace Sleep [Published articles]

Zabbix 3.2.0 released [Published articles]

Zabbix, a true open source monitoring solution, has version 3.2 out. It comes with a large amount of new features and improvements related (but not limited) to problem correlation, event tags and visualization of problems.

A few selected improvements:

  • that is huge: event tags! It absolutely changes the way of problem processing, notifications and presentation in the UI.
  • event correlation. Global and problem-level correlation rules adds a new layer of abstraction and flexibility. It helps to migrate from expensive proprietary solutions made by big vendors without losing any functionality.
  • nested host groups. They help to organize devices and user permissions by classes, geography, application, anything. Also the UI allows filtering by a group including all sub-groups.
  • new high-performance view of problems. The view is optimized for NOC guys helping manage problems of various types with great level of filtering options available. And that's where the event tags com handy.
  • ability to manually close problems. Enough said.
  • easier trigger hysteresis
  • VMWare monitoring improvements
  • monitoring of fast growing (say, 1GB per second) log files
  • and much more

In addition to all that event tags allow creation of service-oriented monitoring platform where each problem has any number of useful associated tags related to environment (production, staging, testing,...), datacenter name, service, business impact, etc.

Release notes

List of improvements

Download RPM/DEB/appliances

Docker images

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SpaceX Will Start Launching Rockets Again in November [Published articles]

Two weeks ago, a SpaceX rocket inexplicably burst into flames , taking its satellite payload up in smoke. Now the space company has given a date for when we can expect to see its rockets back in the air.


Markov Chains Explained Visually [Published articles]

Xiaomi Can Silently Install Any App On Your Android Phone Using A Backdoor [Published articles]

Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer many refer to as the "Apple of China," can silently install any app on your device, according to a Computer Science student and security enthusiast from the Netherlands. Thijs Broenink started investigating a mysterious pre-installed app, dubbed AnalyticsCore.apk, that constantly runs in the background and reappears even if you try and delete it. The Hacker News reports: After asking about the purpose of the AnalyticsCore app on the company's support forum and getting no response, Thijs Broenink reverse engineered the code and found that the app checks for a new update from the company's official server every 24 hours. While making these requests, the app sends device identification information with it, including the phone's IMEI, Model, MAC address, Nonce, Package name as well as signature. If there is an updated app available on the server with the filename "Analytics.apk," it will automatically get downloaded and installed in the background without user interaction. Broenink found that there is no validation at all to check which APK is getting installed to a user's phone, which means there is a way for hackers to exploit this loophole. This also means Xiaomi can remotely and silently install any application on your device just by renaming it to "Analytics.apk" and hosting it on the server. Ironically, the device connects and receives updates over HTTP connection, exposing the whole process to Man-in-the-Middle attacks."

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Watch the Excellent Trailer for RZA's Live Scoring of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin [Published articles]

Music and film fans in Austin and Los Angeles are getting a real treat in the next few weeks. Legendary music guru RZA is performing a live, hip-hop score to the classic kung fu film The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, and the trailer is here.


UNH will spend $1M of librarian's bequest on a football scoreboard [Published articles]

9-14 Morin

Robert Morin worked for 50 years as a cataloger at the University of New Hampshire library (he was also a UNH alum); he was thrifty, ate microwave dinners and drove a 1992 Plymouth, and saved $4M, which he gave to the university as an unrestricted gift, and so the university is giving $100K to the library he worked in and $1M to the football team to pay for a new scoreboard. (more…)

GitHub gets built-in project management tools and support for formal reviews [Published articles]

We Finally Know What This Big Red Splotch on Pluto's Moon Is [Published articles]

Almost as soon as Pluto’s moon Charon came into view, we had a question: what’s that big red splotch on top of it? Now, we finally have an answer.


Someone Is Learning How To Take Down the Internet, Warns Bruce Schneier [Published articles]

Some of the major companies that provide the basic infrastructure that makes the internet work have seen an increase in DDoS attacks against them, says Bruce Schneier. He adds that these attacks are of much larger scale -- including the duration -- than the ones we have seen previously. These attacks, he adds, are also designed to test what all defense measures a company has got -- and they ensure that the company uses every they have got, leaving them with no choice but to demonstrate their defense capabilities to the attacker. He hasn't specifically shared details about the organizations that are under attack, but what little he has elaborated should give us a chill. From his blog post: [...] This all is consistent with what Verisign is reporting. Verisign is the registrar for many popular top-level Internet domains, like .com and .net. If it goes down, there's a global blackout of all websites and e-mail addresses in the most common top-level domains. Every quarter, Verisign publishes (PDF) a DDoS trends report. While its publication doesn't have the level of detail I heard from the companies I spoke with, the trends are the same: "in Q2 2016, attacks continued to become more frequent, persistent, and complex." There's more. One company told me about a variety of probing attacks in addition to the DDoS attacks: testing the ability to manipulate internet addresses and routes, seeing how long it takes the defenders to respond, and so on. Someone is extensively testing the core defensive capabilities of the companies that provide critical Internet services. Who would do this? It doesn't seem like something an activist, criminal, or researcher would do. Profiling core infrastructure is common practice in espionage and intelligence gathering. It's not normal for companies to do that. Furthermore, the size and scale of these probes -- and especially their persistence -- points to state actors. It feels like a nation's military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar. It reminds me of the US's Cold War program of flying high-altitude planes over the Soviet Union to force their air-defense systems to turn on, to map their capabilities.

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The EU tried to craft a sane 21st century copyright and failed miserably [Published articles]

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The European Commission's "Copyright Modernisation" effort has wrapped up, and it's terrible. (more…)

A powerful attacker is systematically calibrating an internet-killing tool [Published articles]

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Someone -- possibly the government of China -- has launched a series of probing attacks on the internet's most critical infrastructure, using carefully titrated doses of denial-of-service to precisely calibrate a tool for shutting down the whole net. (more…)

The Amazing Place the Rosetta Spacecraft Is Going To Die [Published articles]

YouTube Gets Its Own Social Network With Launch of YouTube Community [Published articles]

The earlier reports were right when they said YouTube was working on launching its own social networking service for content creators. Instead of the "YouTube Backstage" branding, YouTube has decided to call their social networking service "YouTube Community," which allows content creators to use text, GIFs, and images to better engage viewers. Given the controversy surrounding YouTube in regard to demonetizing videos that are not deemed "friendly to advertisers," many YouTube creators have been or are thinking about leaving the site and joining competing services. These new tools are designed to help keep creators from departing to competing platforms. TechCrunch reports: YouTube has been testing the new service over the past several months with a handful of creators in order to gain feedback. It's launching the service into public beta with this group of early testers, and will make it available to a wider group of creators in the "month's ahead," it says. Access to this expanded feature set is made available to the creators and their viewers by way of a new "Community" tab on their channels. From here, creators can share things like text posts, images, GIFs and other content, which the audience can thumbs up and down, like the videos themselves, as well as comment on. Viewers will see these posts in their "Subscriptions" feed in the YouTube mobile application, and can also choose to receive push notifications on these posts from their favorite creators, YouTube says." Only time will tell whether or not this new move will be better received than YouTube's Google+ integration...

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Johnny Cash - One Piece At A Time [Country] [Published articles]

Gaia space telescope plots a billion stars [Published articles]

The Correct Way to Validate Email Addresses [Published articles]

John Goerzen: Two Boys, An Airplane, Plus Hundreds of Old Computers [Published articles]

“Was there anything you didn’t like about our trip?”

Jacob’s answer: “That we had to leave so soon!”

That’s always a good sign.

When I first heard about the Vintage Computer Festival Midwest, I almost immediately got the notion that I wanted to go. Besides the TRS-80 CoCo II up in my attic, I also have fond memories of an old IBM PC with CGA monitor, a 25MHz 486, an Alpha also in my attic, and a lot of other computers along the way. I didn’t really think my boys would be interested.

But I mentioned it to them, and they just lit up. They remembered the Youtube videos I’d shown them of old line printers and punch card readers, and thought it would be great fun. I thought it could be a great educational experience for them too — and it was.

It also turned into a trip that combined being a proud dad with so many of my other interests. Quite a fun time.


(Jacob modeling his new t-shirt)

Captain Jacob

Chicago being not all that close to Kansas, I planned to fly us there. If you’re flying yourself, solid flight planning is always important. I had already planned out my flight using electronic tools, but I always carry paper maps with me in the cockpit for backup. I got them out and the boys and I planned out the flight the old-fashioned way.

Here’s Oliver using a scale ruler (with markings for miles corresponding to the scale of the map) and Jacob doing calculating for us. We measured the entire route and came to within one mile of the computer’s calculation for each segment — those boys are precise!


We figured out how much fuel we’d use, where we’d make fuel stops, etc.

The day of our flight, we made it as far as Davenport, Iowa when a chance of bad weather en route to Chicago convinced me to land there and drive the rest of the way. The boys saw that as part of the exciting adventure!

Jacob is always interested in maps, and had kept wanting to use my map whenever we flew. So I dug an old Android tablet out of the attic, put Avare on it (which has aviation maps), and let him use that. He was always checking it while flying, sometimes saying this over his headset: “DING. Attention all passengers, this is Captain Jacob speaking. We are now 45 miles from St. Joseph. Our altitude is 6514 feet. Our speed is 115 knots. We will be on the ground shortly. Thank you. DING”

Here he is at the Davenport airport, still busy looking at his maps:


Every little airport we stopped at featured adults smiling at the boys. People enjoyed watching a dad and his kids flying somewhere together.

Oliver kept busy too. He loves to help me on my pre-flight inspections. He will report every little thing to me – a scratch, a fleck of paint missing on a wheel cover, etc. He takes it seriously. Both boys love to help get the plane ready or put it away.

The Computers

Jacob quickly gravitated towards a few interesting things. He sat for about half an hour watching this old Commodore plotter do its thing (click for video):


His other favorite thing was the phones. Several people had brought complete analog PBXs with them. They used them to demonstrate various old phone-related hardware; one had several BBSs running with actual modems, another had old answering machines and home-security devices. Jacob learned a lot about phones, including how to operate a rotary-dial phone, which he’d never used before!


Oliver was drawn more to the old computers. He was fascinated by the IBM PC XT, which I explained was just about like a model I used to get to use sometimes. They learned about floppy disks and how computers store information.


He hadn’t used joysticks much, and found Pong (“this is a soccer game!”) interesting. Somebody has also replaced the guts of a TRS-80 with a Raspberry Pi running a SNES emulator. This had thoroughly confused me for a little while, and excited Oliver.

Jacob enjoyed an old TRS-80, which, through a modern Ethernet interface and a little computation help in AWS, provided an interface to Wikipedia. Jacob figured out the text-mode interface quickly. Here he is reading up on trains.


I had no idea that Commodore made a lot of adding machines and calculators before they got into the home computer business. There was a vast table with that older Commodore hardware, too much to get on a single photo. But some of the adding machines had their covers off, so the boys got to see all the little gears and wheels and learn how an adding machine can do its printing.


And then we get to my favorite: the big iron. Here is a VAX — a working VAX. When you have a computer that huge, it’s easier for the kids to understand just what something is.


When we encountered the table from the Glenside Color Computer Club, featuring the good old CoCo IIs like what I used as a kid (and have up in my attic), I pointed out to the boys that “we have a computer just like this that can do these things” — and they responded “wow!” I think they are eager to try out floppy disks and disk BASIC now.

Some of my favorites were the old Unix systems, which are a direct ancestor to what I’ve been working with for decades now. Here’s AT&T System V release 3 running on its original hardware:


And there were a couple of Sun workstations there, making me nostalgic for my college days. If memory serves, this one is actually running on m68k in the pre-Sparc days:


Returning home

After all the excitement of the weekend, both boys zonked out for awhile on the flight back home. Here’s Jacob, sleeping with his maps still up.


As we were nearly home, we hit a pocket of turbulence, the kind that feels as if the plane is dropping a bit (it’s perfectly normal and safe; you’ve probably felt that on commercial flights too). I was a bit concerned about Oliver; he is known to get motion sick in cars (and even planes sometimes). But what did I hear from Oliver?

“Whee! That was fun! It felt like a roller coaster! Do it again, dad!”

The full African Children's Choir performance at Disneyland that moved Belle to tears and went viral [Published articles]

Upcoming Galaxy Map Could Radically Transform How We See the Milky Way [Published articles]