Feed aggregator

Satellite Captures Glowing Plants From Space

/. - 59 min 45 sec ago
sciencehabit writes About 1% of the light that strikes plants is re-emitted as a faint, fluorescent glow—a measure of photosynthetic activity. Today, scientists released a map of this glow as measured by the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, a NASA satellite launched in July with the goal of mapping the net amount of carbon in the atmosphere. The map reveals that tropical rainforests near the equator are actively sucking up carbon, while the Corn Belt in the eastern United States, near the end of its growing season, is also a sink. Higher resolution fluorescence mapping could one day be used to help assess crop yields and how they respond to drought and heat in a changing climate.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Cloud Cities on Venus?

Soylent New - 2 hours 9 min ago

IEEE Spectrum has an article on the NASA High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) mission proposals.

Quoting Chris Jones, from the Space Mission Analysis Branch of NASA’s Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate:

“The vast majority of people, when they hear the idea of going to Venus and exploring, think of the surface, where it’s hot enough to melt lead and the pressure is the same as if you were almost a mile underneath the ocean,” Jones says. “I think that not many people have gone and looked at the relatively much more hospitable atmosphere and how you might tackle operating there for a while.”
...
Put all of these numbers together and as long as you don’t worry about having something under your feet, Jones points out, the upper atmosphere of Venus is “probably the most Earth-like environment that’s out there.”

The article covers the details of the proposed mission, and links to a YouTube animation of the concept: "A way to explore Venus".

Also covered at Geek.com and Extreme Tech.

Read more of this story at SoylentNews.

Investigation: Apple Failing To Protect Chinese Factory Workers

/. - 3 hours 5 min ago
mrspoonsi writes with the findings of an investigation into working conditions at a factory that makes Apple products. Poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories which make Apple products has been discovered by an undercover BBC Panorama investigation. Filming on an iPhone 6 production line showed Apple's promises to protect workers were routinely broken. It found standards on workers' hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were being breached at the Pegatron factories. Apple said it strongly disagreed with the programme's conclusions. Exhausted workers were filmed falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts at the Pegatron factories on the outskirts of Shanghai. One undercover reporter, working in a factory making parts for Apple computers, had to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for a day off. Another reporter, whose longest shift was 16 hours, said: "Every time I got back to the dormitories, I wouldn't want to move. Even if I was hungry I wouldn't want to get up to eat. I just wanted to lie down and rest. I was unable to sleep at night because of the stress."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








ICANN Compromised via "Spear-Phishing" Attack

Soylent New - 3 hours 39 min ago

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), one of the core entities for Internet governance and operations, announced that it had been compromied in late November via a "Spear-Phishing" attack.

They state that the compromised credentials were used to access more sensitive systems. Specifically, they mention:

The attacker obtained administrative access to all files in the CZDS [Centralized Zone Data System]. This included copies of the zone files in the system, as well as information entered by users such as name, postal address, email address, fax and telephone numbers, username, and password. Although the passwords were stored as salted cryptographic hashes, we have deactivated all CZDS passwords as a precaution. Users may request a new password at czds.icann.org. We suggest that CZDS users take appropriate steps to protect any other online accounts for which they might have used the same username and/or password. ICANN is providing notices to the CZDS users whose personal information may have been compromised.

They also identified unauthorized access to (ostensibly innocuous parts of) the ICANN GAC [Governmental Advisory Committee] Wiki as well as user-level accounts on the ICANN Blog and the ICANN WHOIS information portal.

While they're not terribly specific about how the attack happened aside from mentioning that the "email credentials of several ICANN staff members" were compromised, it doesn't take much imagination to figure out where it probably went from there. The impact seems rather minimal, but given the level of control that ICANN has over DNS, it does make one wonder how close we came to a major incident.

Read more of this story at SoylentNews.

Critical Git Security Vulnerability Announced

/. - 3 hours 48 min ago
An anonymous reader writes Github has announced a security vulnerability and has encourage users to update their Git clients as soon as possible. The blog post reads in part: "A critical Git security vulnerability has been announced today, affecting all versions of the official Git client and all related software that interacts with Git repositories, including GitHub for Windows and GitHub for Mac. Because this is a client-side only vulnerability, github.com and GitHub Enterprise are not directly affected. The vulnerability concerns Git and Git-compatible clients that access Git repositories in a case-insensitive or case-normalizing filesystem. An attacker can craft a malicious Git tree that will cause Git to overwrite its own .git/config file when cloning or checking out a repository, leading to arbitrary command execution in the client machine. Git clients running on OS X (HFS+) or any version of Microsoft Windows (NTFS, FAT) are exploitable through this vulnerability. Linux clients are not affected if they run in a case-sensitive filesystem....Updated versions of GitHub for Windows and GitHub for Mac are available for immediate download, and both contain the security fix on the Desktop application itself and on the bundled version of the Git command-line client."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Marissa Mayer's Reinvention of Yahoo! Stumbles

/. - 4 hours 31 min ago
schnell writes The New York Times Magazine has an in-depth profile of Marissa Mayer's time at the helm of Yahoo!, detailing her bold plans to reinvent the company and spark a Jobs-ian turnaround through building great new products. But some investors are saying that her product focus (to the point of micromanaging) hasn't generated results, and that the company should give up on trying to create the next iPod, merge with AOL to cut costs and focus on the unglamorous core business that it has. Is it time for Yahoo! to "grow up" and set its sights lower?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Ars Reviews Skype Translator

/. - 5 hours 14 min ago
Esra Erimez writes Peter Bright doesn't speak a word of Spanish but with Skype Translator he was able to have a spoken conversation with a Spanish speaker as if he was in an episode of Star Trek. He spoke English. A moment later, an English language transcription would appear, along with a Spanish translation. Then a Spanish voice would read that translation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








In Breakthrough, US and Cuba to Resume Diplomatic Relations

Soylent New - 5 hours 20 min ago

Peter Baker reports at the NYT that in a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, the United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century. In addition, the United States will ease restrictions on remittances, travel and banking relations, and Cuba will release 53 Cuban prisoners identified as political prisoners by the United States government.

Although the decades-old American embargo on Cuba will remain in place for now, the administration signaled that it would welcome a move by Congress to ease or lift it should lawmakers choose to. “We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse.

We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state,” said the White House in a written statement. "The United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people."

Read more of this story at SoylentNews.

Extracting Data From the Microsoft Band

/. - 5 hours 31 min ago
An anonymous reader writes The Microsoft Band, introduced last month, hosts a slew of amazing sensors, but like so many wearable computing devices, users are unable to access their own data. A Brown University professor decompiles the app, finds that the data is transmitted to the Microsoft "cloud", and explains how to intercept the traffic to retrieve the raw minute-by-minute data captured by the Band.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








"Team America" Gets Post-Hack Yanking At Alamo Drafthouse, Too

/. - 6 hours 13 min ago
Slate reports that even old movies are enough to trigger a pretty strong knee jerk: Team America, World Police , selected as a tongue-in-cheek replacement by Dallas's Alamo Drafthouse Theater for the Sony-yanked The Interview after that film drew too much heat following the recent Sony hack, has also been pulled. The theater's tweet, as reprinted by Slate: "due to circumstances beyond our control,” their Dec. 27 Team America screening has also been canceled." If only I had a copy, I'd like to host a viewing party here in Austin for The Interview, which I want to see now more than ever. (And it would be a fitting venue.)

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








TechDirt Lists Companies That Want To Charge You Thousands For Negative Reviews

Soylent New - 6 hours 59 min ago

Tim Cushing lists this under the self-inflicted-reputation-wounds-are-surprisingly-pricey dept.

Geek gadget also-ran KlearGear gained internet infamy thanks to the following paragraph tucked away on its "Terms of Sale and Use" page:

In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.

Tacked onto this absurd redefining of "fair and honest feedback" was a $3,500 fee. This was [leveled] at a couple who complained about the non-delivery of products it had paid for. This went to court, and the couple was awarded over $300,000 in a default [judgment] when KlearGear no-showed.

For the most part, this would seem to be a cautionary tale--something other companies would take into consideration when crafting their own terms of service. But some companies are still apparently willing to dance with the Devil Streisand by including onerous fees tied to the phrase "fair and honest feedback." Not only will the enforcement of this clause likely result in large amounts of public shaming, but in some states, this may actually be illegal.

In the interest of discouraging future KlearGears from dragging their customers' credit ratings through the mud in response to bad reviews, we present a list of companies that still maintain similar clauses on their websites, along with dollar amounts demanded if this clause is violated.

Read more of this story at SoylentNews.

Grinch Vulnerability Could Put a Hole In Your Linux Stocking

/. - 7 hours 10 min ago
itwbennett writes In a blog post Tuesday, security service provider Alert Logic warned of a Linux vulnerability, named grinch after the well-known Dr. Seuss character, that could provide attackers with unfettered root access. The fundamental flaw resides in the Linux authorization system, which can inadvertently allow privilege escalation, granting a user full administrative access. Alert Logic warned that Grinch could be as severe as the Shellshock flaw that roiled the Internet in September.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Ask Slashdot: What Can I Really Do With a Smart Watch?

/. - 7 hours 51 min ago
kwelch007 writes I commonly work in a clean-room (CR.) As such, I commonly need access to my smart-phone for various reasons while inside the CR...but, I commonly keep it in my front pocket INSIDE my clean-suit. Therefore, to get my phone out of my pocket, I have to leave the room, get my phone out of my pocket, and because I have a one track mind, commonly leave it sitting on a table or something in the CR, so I then have to either have someone bring it to me, or suit back up and go get it myself...a real pain. I have been looking in to getting a 'Smart Watch' (I'm preferential to Android, but I know Apple has similar smart-watches.) I would use a smart-watch as a convenient, easy to transport and access method to access basic communications (email alerts, text, weather maps, etc.) The problem I'm finding while researching these devices is, I'm not finding many apps. Sure, they can look like a nice digital watch, but I can spend $10 for that...not the several hundred or whatever to buy a smart-watch. What are some apps I can get? (don't care about platform, don't care if they're free) I just want to know what's the best out there, and what it can do? I couldn't care less about it being a watch...we have these things called clocks all over the place. I need various sorts of data access. I don't care if it has to pair with my smart-phone using Bluetooth or whatever, and it won't have to be a 100% solution...it would be more of a convenience that is worth the several hundred dollars to me. My phone will never be more than 5 feet away, it's just inconvenient to physically access it. Further, I am also a developer...what is the best platform to develop for these wearable devices on, and why? Maybe I could make my own apps? Is it worth waiting for the next generation of smart-watches?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Australia Moves Toward New Restrictions On Technology Export and Publication

/. - 8 hours 30 min ago
An anonymous reader writes Australia is starting a public consultation process for new legislation that further restricts the publication and export of technology on national security grounds. The public consultation starts now (a few days before Christmas) and it is due by Jan 30th while a lot of Australians are on holidays. I don't have the legal expertise to dissect the proposed legislation, but I'd like some more public scrutiny on it. I find particularly disturbing the phrase "The Bill includes defences that reverse the onus of proof which limit the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty" contained in this document, also available on the consultation web site.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








The Swedish Troll Hunters

Soylent New - 8 hours 39 min ago

The MIT Technology Review has an article up on Swedish journalists and researchers who expose internet trolls.

Back at the Troll Hunter office, a whiteboard organized Aschberg’s agenda. Dossiers on other trolls were tacked up in two rows: a pair of teens who anonymously slander their high school classmates on Instagram, a politician who runs a racist website, a male law student who stole the identity of a young woman to entice another man into an online relationship. In a sign of the issue’s resonance in Sweden, a pithy neologism has been coined to encompass all these forms of online nastiness: näthat (“Net hate”). Troll Hunter, which has become a minor hit for its brash tackling of näthat, is currently filming its second season.

This article covers the television show Trolljägarna (Troll Hunter), and the activities of a group of volunteer researchers called Researchgruppen (Research Group) in tracking and exposing internet trolls and touches on the privacy issues and potential backlash from other groups of this kind of work.

Read more of this story at SoylentNews.

India Successfully Test Fires Its Heaviest Rocket

/. - 9 hours 12 min ago
vasanth (908280) writes India on Thursday moved forward in rocket technology with the successful flight testing of its heaviest next generation rocket and the crew module . The 630-tonne three-stage rocket, Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III, carried active solid boosters, liquid core stage and a passive cryo stage and a crew module to test its re-entry characteristics. This rocket is capable of doubling the capacity of payloads India can carry into space and it can deposit up to four tonne class of communication satellites into space. India also plans to use this rocket for ferrying Indian astronauts into space. For India, ISRO (the Indian space agency) perfecting the cryogenic engine technology is crucial as India can save precious foreign exchange by launching heavy duty communication satellites by itself.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Cause and Effect: How a Revolutionary New Statistical Test Can Tease Them Apart

/. - 9 hours 51 min ago
KentuckyFC writes Statisticians have long thought it impossible to tell cause and effect apart using observational data. The problem is to take two sets of measurements that are correlated, say X and Y, and to find out if X caused Y or Y caused X. That's straightforward with a controlled experiment in which one variable can be held constant to see how this influences the other. Take for example, a correlation between wind speed and the rotation speed of a wind turbine. Observational data gives no clue about cause and effect but an experiment that holds the wind speed constant while measuring the speed of the turbine, and vice versa, would soon give an answer. But in the last couple of years, statisticians have developed a technique that can tease apart cause and effect from the observational data alone. It is based on the idea that any set of measurements always contain noise. However, the noise in the cause variable can influence the effect but not the other way round. So the noise in the effect dataset is always more complex than the noise in the cause dataset. The new statistical test, known as the additive noise model, is designed to find this asymmetry. Now statisticians have tested the model on 88 sets of cause-and-effect data, ranging from altitude and temperature measurements at German weather stations to the correlation between rent and apartment size in student accommodation.The results suggest that the additive noise model can tease apart cause and effect correctly in up to 80 per cent of the cases (provided there are no confounding factors or selection effects). That's a useful new trick in a statistician's armoury, particularly in areas of science where controlled experiments are expensive, unethical or practically impossible.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Will Ripple Eclipse Bitcoin?

/. - 10 hours 36 min ago
First time accepted submitter groggy.android writes This year's biggest news about Bitcoin may well turn out not to be the repeat of its surge in value last year against the dollar and other state currencies but its impending eclipse by another independent but corporate-backed digital currency. Popularly known as Ripple, XRP shot up in value last year along with other cryptocurrencies that took advantage of the hype around Bitcoin. However, among the top cryptocurrencies listed in Coinmarketcap.com, a site that monitors trading across different cryptocurrency exchanges, Ripple is the only one that not only regained its value after the collapse in the price of Bitcoin but has more than doubled from its peak last year. In September it displaced Litecoin to become the second most valuable cryptocurrency. Even more surpising, a Ripple fork, Stellar, is one of the two other cryptocurrencies in the Coinmarketcap top ten that have risen sharply in value during the last few weeks. What makes Ripple different from Bitcoin? Strictly speaking, Ripple isn't the name of the digital currency but of the decentralized payment network and protocol created and maintained by the eponymous Ripple Labs. Users of the Ripple system are able to transact in both cryptocurrency and regular fiat currency like the dollar without passing through a central exchange. XRP is the name of the native unit of exchange used in the Ripple network to facilitate conversion between different currency types.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








72 Years Late, Captain Claudius gets Recognition

Soylent New - 10 hours 40 min ago

NatGeo reports:

When Herbert G. Claudius's family would ask him if he'd ever sunk an enemy submarine during his decades in the U.S. Navy, Claudius would say that he thought he did once. He'd seen oil and debris after a fierce battle he'd led against a German U-boat in the Gulf of Mexico in 1942.

The Navy didn't agree, and since a passenger ship, the Robert E Lee, had been sunk by the submarine (U-166) just 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the U.S. mainland, they removed Claudius from command and sent him back to anti-sub-warfare school.

The sub, and the Lee remained lost until found by sonar in 2001 by oil exploration crews. They were located at 5000 feet down, about 10 times the sub's crush depth.

This past summer, the wrecks were finally visited by researchers using a deep sea Remotely Operated Vehicle. The discovery was briefly covered by CNN. The ROV's cameras clearly showed depth charge damage on the forward hull. (See pictures on NatGeo link and video at CNN link).

Finally on Tuesday, Claudius was posthumously vindicated at the Pentagon, as the U.S. Secretary of the Navy announced that his ship had indeed fired the depth charges that sank German U-boat U-166. He was awarded a Legion of Merit with a Combat "V", which recognizes heroism in battle.

Read more of this story at SoylentNews.

After 40 Years As a Double Amputee, Man Gains Two Bionic Arms

/. - 11 hours 24 min ago
MojoKid writes Les Baugh, a Colorado man who lost both arms in an electrical accident 40 years ago, is looking forward to being able to insert change into a soda machine and retrieving the beverage himself. But thanks to the wonders of science and technology — and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) — he'll regain some of those functions while making history as the first bilateral shoulder-level amputee to wear and simultaneously control two Modular Prosthetic Limbs (MPLs). "It's a relatively new surgical procedure that reassigns nerves that once controlled the arm and the hand," explained Johns Hopkins Trauma Surgeon Albert Chi, M.D. "By reassigning existing nerves, we can make it possible for people who have had upper-arm amputations to control their prosthetic devices by merely thinking about the action they want to perform."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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