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Scientists Twist Radio Beams To Send Data At 32 Gigabits Per Second

/. - 3 hours 1 min ago
concertina226 writes Scientists from three international universities have succeeded in twisting radio beams in order to transfer data at the speed of 32 gigabits per second, which is 30 times faster than 4G LTE wireless technology in use today. The researchers, led by Alan Willner, an electrical engineering professor with the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, successfully demonstrated data transmission rates of 32 gigabits per second across 2.5m of free space in a basement laboratory.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

German Village Expanding Self-Built Broadband Network

Soylent New - 3 hours 2 min ago

The Local Germany reports:

Shunned by government and big telecom companies, [Sollwitt, a village of 123 homes] in rural northwest Germany is set to expand the super-fast internet network they built to a second village.

[...]The project is the latest effort of Burgerbreitbandnetz, the Citizen's Broadband Internet Company, a small group of locals who took it upon themselves to build a super high-speed internet network in the village of Lowenstedt when Germany's major telecommunications companies turned them away. The group hopes to connect 59 villages in the county by 2021.

"Their answer was no," said Ute-Gabriel Boucsein, head of the village internet startup. "They say the region where we live [in Schleswig-Holstein] is too far away and there aren't enough people."

For the big telecom companies, that meant there wasn't enough money to be made. But for the villagers, it was a matter of survival.

"In 2010, the villages had problems selling land," said Boucsein. "People want to buy, but they ask how fast, how good the internet is and when it's not so good the people don't buy." Not only do new people not move in, but the young people leave, says dairy farmer Holger Jensen. "Then, when the older people start to die, the village shrinks."

[...]For €999, villagers could become shareholders in the company and provide the money needed to get financing to build the fibre-optic infrastructure. The Burgerbreitbandnetz team needs 68 percent of households in the village to sign up. As of this afternoon the company had signed up 72 percent of the homes in Sollwitt.

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Middle-School Dropout Codes Clever Chat Program to Foil NSA Spying

Soylent New - 17 September 2014 - 10:45pm

Wired has a story about Ricochet, a new custom IM client by John Brookes which lets users communicate over tor hidden services. From the article:

Brooks, who is just 22 and a self-taught coder who dropped out of school at 13, was always concerned about privacy and civil liberties. Four years ago he began work on a program for encrypted instant messaging that uses Tor hidden services for the protected transmission of communications. The program, which he dubbed Ricochet, began as a hobby. But by the time he finished, he had a full-fledged desktop client that was easy to use, offered anonymity and encryption, and even resolved the issue of metadata—the “to” and “from” headers and IP addresses spy agencies use to identify and track communications—long before the public was aware that the NSA was routinely collecting metadata in bulk for its spy programs. The only problem Brooks had with the program was that few people were interested in using it. Although he’d made Ricochet’s code open source, Brooks never had it formally audited for security and did nothing to promote it, so few people even knew about it.

The article goes on to explain how Ricochet got into the spotlight:

Enter Invisible.im, a group formed by Australian security journalist Patrick Gray. Last July, Gray announced that he was working with HD Moore, developer of the Metasploit Framework tool used by security researchers to pen-test systems, and with another respected security professional who goes by his hacker handle The Grugq, to craft a secure, open-source encrypted chat program cobbled together from parts of existing anonymity and messaging systems—such as Prosody, Pidgin and Tor. They wanted a system that was highly secure, user friendly and metadata-free. Gray says his primary motivation was to protect the anonymity of sources who contact journalists.

“At the moment, when sources contact a journalist, they’re going to leave a metadata trail, whether it’s a phone call record or instant message or email record [regardless of whether or not the content of their communication is encrypted],” he says. “And that data is currently accessible to authorities without a warrant.”

When Brooks wrote to say he’d already designed a chat program that eliminated metadata, Gray and his group took a look at the code and quickly dropped their plan to develop their own tool, in favor of working with Brooks to develop his.

“He writes incredible code,” Gray says, “and really thinks like a hacker, even though he doesn’t have a security background.”

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Tinba Trojan Targets Major US Banks

/. - 17 September 2014 - 10:04pm
An anonymous reader writes Tinba, the tiny (20 KB) banking malware with man-in-the-browser and network traffic sniffing capabilities, is back. After initially being made to target users of a small number of banks, that list has been amplified and now includes 26 financial institutions mostly in the US and Canada, but some in Australia and Europe as well. Tinba has been modified over the years, in an attempt to bypass new security protections set up by banks, and its source code has been leaked on underground forums a few months ago. In this new campaign, the Trojan gets delivered to users via the Rig exploit kit, which uses Flash and Silverlight exploits. The victims get saddled with the malware when they unknowingly visit a website hosting the exploit kit."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Los Angeles Schools Halve Email Retention after Scandal

Soylent New - 17 September 2014 - 8:41pm

Techdirt reports

In a set of strange coincidences not unlike those surrounding the IRS/Lois Lerner email disappearance, the Los Angeles Unified school board has decided it will only retain internal emails for one year going forward.

The Los Angeles Unified school board voted Tuesday to buy a Microsoft email archiving service programmed to automatically destroy staff emails after one year.

Why only one year? According to the Chief Information Officer of the school district, the one year limit is mandated by district policy(PDF) -- which is handy, but likely not the real reason. (Keeping all those bytes is considered "too expensive.") After all, if this policy was already in force, why the vote on retention limits?

More likely, this decision was prompted by recent events -- namely the publication of emails more than a year old.

The decision comes less than three weeks after KPCC published two-year-old internal emails that raised questions about whether Superintendent John Deasy's meetings and discussions with Apple and textbook publisher Pearson influenced the school district's historic $500 million technology contract.

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Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives

/. - 17 September 2014 - 8:13pm
An anonymous reader writes I use email to communicate with my folks overseas. Their ISP only allows dial-up access to their email account (there is no option of changing ISP), that can receive messages no larger than 1MB nor hold more than 15MB (no hope of changing that either). They are computer-illiterate, click on everything they receive, and take delight on sending their information to any Nigerian prince that contacts them, "just in case this one is true". Needless to say, their PC is always full of viruses and spyware. In my next yearly visit, instead of just cleaning it up, I'd like to gift them with some "hardened" PC to use for email only that would hopefully last the year before someone has to fix it. So far, these are the things I have in mind: Some kind of linux distro, or maybe even mac. Most viruses over there are windows only and propagate via Autorun.inf or by email attachments, not having Windows could prevent both. Some desktop environment that hides anything unrelated to connecting to the net and accessing their account (dial-up software, email client, web browser, exchanging files between their hard disk/email attachments and USB drives). By "hide", I just want the rest to be out of the way, but not entirely removed, so that if necessary, I can guide them over the phone. For this, Ubuntu's Unity seems like a particularly bad solution, but a Gnome desktop with non-removable desktop shortcuts (is this possible?) for the file manager, browser, email client and dial-up program could work. An android system is unlikely to work (they have no wifi, and they were utterly confused with Android's UI). This could be a life saver: some kind of extension to the email client that executes commands on specially formatted emails (e.g., signed with my private key), so that I can do some basic diagnostics or install extra software if I have to. This las point is important: they currently rely on acquaintances who may not be competent (they can't evaluate that) if something happens between my visits. They, most likely, wont know how to deal with anything non-windows, so all tech support would fall on me. (This is the reason I haven't moved them from windows yet.)Another very useful extension would be something to automatically re-assemble attachments split into several emails, to overcome the 1MB message limit. Does any of that exist? If I have to build that system myself (or parts of it), do you have other suggestions? For the inevitable and completely reasonable suggestion of getting someone competent for tech support: I've tried that too. The competent ones don't last beyond the third visit.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Airbnb To Start Collecting Hotel Tax On Rentals In San Francisco

/. - 17 September 2014 - 7:30pm
An anonymous reader writes Airbnb announced that it will begin collecting a 14% occupancy tax on behalf of its San Francisco hosts October 1. "This is the culmination of a long process that began earlier this year when we announced our intent to help collect and remit occupancy taxes in San Francisco," wrote Airbnb public policy leader David Owen. The company already collects taxes in Portland, and has discussed the possibility of collecting taxes in New York.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

ULA and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Announce Rocket Engine Partnership

/. - 17 September 2014 - 6:47pm
An anonymous reader writes During an event at the National Press Club, Bezos announced an agreement with Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, to continue development of a new rocket engine for ULA's Atlas and Delta rocket lines. From the article: "Called BE-4, the engine has been in the works at Blue Origin for three years and is currently in testing at the company's West Texas facilities. ULA, founded in 2006, has supplied rockets to the US Department of Defense and NASA and will now co-fund the BE-4 project to accelerate its completion. The agreement is for a four-year development process with testing slated for 2016 and flight in 2019."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Japanese Stem Cell Trials

Soylent New - 17 September 2014 - 6:40pm

There's an article in Nature on the recent stem cell trial in Japan, where a Japanese woman in her 70s:

with visual impairment had become the first person to receive a therapy derived from stem cells known as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

This references an earlier Nature article on the treatment with more details on this procedure, but this article mainly focuses on the background and broader implications, and the problems faced by researchers in other countries.

A lot rides on this trial. If the procedure proves safe, it could soften the stance of regulatory bodies in other nations towards human trials of iPS cells, and it could pave the way for treatments for other conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. It could also cement Japan, recently plagued by a stem-cell scandal, as a frontrunner in iPS-cell research.

(The recent stem cell scandal is also covered in Nature)

Read more of this story at SoylentNews.

New Comment Limits Set

Soylent New - 17 September 2014 - 6:20pm

An issue was brought to our attention by user Tanuki64 where we were limiting the amount of comments a user could post per day. A code review showed that the daily limit was 10 for ACs, 2 for users with negative karma, 25 for users with less than 25 karma, and 50 for users with more karma than that.

We believed that these limits were hurting the community and the values have been increased requiring a slash reboot that gave some of you 503 errors earlier. The limits are now 150 for ACs, 25 for negative karma, 150 for users under 10 karma, and 999 for users with 10 and higher karma. These limits may seem a bit high, but we chose these values to make sure people using our Tor address would be able to post even if they all seem to come from one IP address.

As always comments are welcome, whether positive or negative.

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Are Matt's Robot Hexapods Creepy or Cute? (Video)

/. - 17 September 2014 - 6:03pm
University of Arizona grad student Matt Bunting doesn't come across as a mad scientist. That's a very good thing, because his robot hexapod creations are easy to imagine crawling across the USA in large hordes, devouring everything in their path and using all the electricity they come across to feed their Queen Hexapod, a 3-D printer mounted on a hexapod chassis that turns everything fed to it into more robots. Luckily, the real life Matt is an affable (self-described) "Roboticist, Electrical Engineer, Musician, and Rock Crawler" who freely admits that at this time his robotic creations have no practical application whatsoever. This is probably true, except for the fact that they can liven up a music video like mad, as you can see on YouTube in Pedals Music Video (featuring REAL robots) . Our little video is a lot simpler, of course. In it, we interview Matt and he tells us what he's up to with his robots, and gives some 'how to get started with robotics' advice for budding young engineers. (Alternate Video Link)

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Use of Forced Labor "Systemic" In Malaysian IT Manufacturing

/. - 17 September 2014 - 5:18pm
itwbennett (1594911) writes "The use of forced labor is so prevalent in the Malaysian electronics manufacturing industry that there is hardly a major brand name that isn't touched by the illegal practice, according to a report funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and undertaken by Verité, a nonprofit organization focused on labor issues. The two-year study surveyed more than 500 migrant workers at around 200 companies in Malaysia's IT manufacturing sector and found one in three were working under conditions of forced labor."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ancient Earth was like a Wet Sunday Night in Iceland

Soylent New - 17 September 2014 - 5:09pm

John Leyden at the Register provides Was Earth once covered in HELLFIRE? No – more like a wet Sunday night in Iceland
Geoboffins DEBUNK long-held scientific belief

Early Earth may have been less like the hellish realm of molten magma previously suspected but also distinct from the sort of environment found in modern-day Iceland, according to research by geologists.

The Earth had already formed oceans, continents and an active crustal plates by the time it was 500 million years old, scientists reckon. This view of the Hadean, Earth’s first geologic eon, has been refined by a fresh study comparing zircon crystals that formed during this time around four billion years ago with those formed in Iceland and zircon found in other contemporary environments. study concluded that although the early Earth was not covered in an ocean of molten magma, as thought as recently as 30 years ago, it wasn't quite like modern Iceland either, puncturing a favoured analogy among modern geologists.

It's always interesting how our views of the past are redefined by painstaking research. I wonder how the flat-earthers feel about this.

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eBay Redirect Attack Puts Buyers' Credentials At Risk

/. - 17 September 2014 - 4:35pm
mrspoonsi points out this BBC story about an eBay breach that was directing users to a spoof site. "eBay has been compromised so that people who clicked on some of its links were automatically diverted to a site designed to steal their credentials. The spoof site had been set up to look like the online marketplace's welcome page. The firm was alerted to the hack on Wednesday night but removed the listings only after a follow-up call from the BBC more than 12 hours later. One security expert said he was surprised by the length of time taken. 'EBay is a large company and it should have a 24/7 response team to deal with this — and this case is unambiguously bad,' said Dr Steven Murdoch from University College London's Information Security Research Group. The security researcher was able to analyze the listing involved before eBay removed it. He said that the technique used was known as a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How Flickr Is Courting the Next Generation of Photographers

/. - 17 September 2014 - 3:52pm
First time accepted submitter Molly McHugh writes Flickr Vice President Bernardo Hernandez explains how the beloved photo platform is targeting a new generation that's addicted to smartphones. “10 or 15 years ago it was expensive and complicated to explore the world of photography,” Hernandez said. "Very few people could afford that—[it is] no surprise the best photographers 20 years ago were older people. We believe all of that is changing with the mobile [photography] revolution."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Indian Mars Orbiter to Enter Orbit Soon

Soylent New - 17 September 2014 - 3:47pm

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Mars Orbiter is currently receiving commands ahead of entering mars orbit, which is scheduled for September the 24th.

ISRO have a press pack (pdf) available, which gives a brief background to the Mars Orbiter Mission (also called "Mangalyaan", which translates to "Mars-Craft") and the expected schedule of operations.

Regardless of the scientific outcomes this is a massive achievement:

One of the main objectives of the first Indian mission to Mars is to develop the technologies required for design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission.

All built in 15 months for $75 Million (over 500 movies have had similar, or larger, budgets). It will arrive in orbit three days after Nasa's MAVEN.

Originally spotted via an article in Nature. there's also a good summary of the mission from the Hindustani times.

Read more of this story at SoylentNews.

Obama Presses Leaders To Speed Ebola Response

/. - 17 September 2014 - 3:10pm
mdsolar writes with the latest plan from the U.S. government to fight the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and a call for more help from other nations by the President. President Obama on Tuesday challenged world powers to accelerate the global response to the Ebola outbreak that is ravaging West Africa, warning that unless health care workers, medical equipment and treatment centers were swiftly deployed, the disease could take hundreds of thousands of lives. "This epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better," Mr. Obama said here at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he met with doctors who had just returned from West Africa. The world, he said, "has the responsibility to act, to step up and to do more. The United States intends to do more." Even as the president announced a major American deployment to Liberia and Senegal of medicine, equipment and 3,000 military personnel, global health officials said that time was running out and that they had weeks, not months, to act. They said that although the American contribution was on a scale large enough to make a difference, a coordinated assault in Africa from other Western powers was essential to bringing the virus under control.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

/. - 17 September 2014 - 2:28pm
cartechboy writes How low can battery costs go, and how fast? That's the question automakers are dealing with when it comes to the future of electric cars. Tesla is betting big on electric and has already proven many skeptics wrong with its Model S sedan. The company is making even bolder claims with its upcoming Model 3 stating it'll have about 200 miles of range and a base price of $35,000. That's a nice goal, but is it possible. Battery skeptic Menahem Anderman wrote a new report suggesting that the pace of cost reduction for electric car batteries won't be as swift as Tesla's CEO Elon Musk suggests. This leads Anderman to predict the actual price of the upcoming Model 3 will be in the range of $50,000-$80,000.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Two Cosmonauts Find Icicle Hanging from an Air Pipe

Soylent New - 17 September 2014 - 2:13pm

In no way is this news or a scoop, but who can resist the tale of plucky cosmonauts calmly relaying such nuggets from a dead-in-the-water space station as:

Savinikh: "We're trying to turn on the light now. Command issued. No reaction, not even one little diode. If only something would light up..."


Savinikh: “I’ve gotten the Rodnik schematics. Pump connected. The valves aren’t opening. There’s an icicle sticking out of the air pipe.”

Yep — all the makings of a sci-fi straight to TV movie… icicles hanging out of air pipes indeed!

However, it is not. It is the tale of two cosmonauts sent to try to recover the dead in low earth orbit Salyut 7 back in 1985. The included cosmonaut to earth communication transcripts would be comedy genius had they been scripted, if only as a parody of calm professionalism in a seemingly absurd predicament.

Over to Ars Technica for the piece: http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/09/the-little-known-soviet-mission-to-rescue-a-dead-space-station/

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Wave Power Fails To Live Up To Promise

/. - 17 September 2014 - 1:46pm
the_newsbeagle writes: One of the leading companies developing wave power devices, Ocean Power Technologies, has dramatically scaled down its ambitions. The company had planned to install the world's first commercial-scale wave farms off the coast of Australia and Oregon, but has now announced that it's ending those projects. Instead it will focus on developing next-gen devices. Apparently the economics of wave power just don't make sense yet.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.