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Councilmen Introduce Bills Strongly Regulating UAV Use in NYC

Slashdot - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 14:47
SternisheFan passes on this excerpt from an Ars Technica article: On Wednesday Councilman Dan Garodnick introduced a bill to the New York City council seeking to ban all use of drones except those operated by police officers who obtain warrants. A second, parallel bill introduced by councilman Paul Vallone would place more stringent restrictions on drone use but stop short of banning drones for hobbyists and companies altogether. Both bills have been passed to the city's committee on public safety. An all-out ban on drones within the metropolis would be a quite wide-reaching step, especially as the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) seems poised to adopt more permissive rules, with respect to commercial interests in particular. Earlier this year, the FAA formally granted six Hollywood companies exemptions to drone ban rules. A couple of months later, the FAA granted similar exemptions for construction site monitoring and oil rig flare stack inspections. The article explains that Vallone's bill is less restrictive, and rather than propose an outright ban "lists 10 instances where operating a UAV would be illegal, including at night, out of the operator's eyesight, or above 400 ft high. Outside of those conditions, hobbyists and commercial interests would be free to fly drones."

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US Links North Korea To Sony Hacking

Slashdot - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 14:05
schwit1 writes Speaking off the record, senior intelligence officials have told the New York Times, CNN, and other news agencies that North Korea was "centrally involved" in the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment. It is not known how the US government has determined that North Korea is the culprit, though it is known that the NSA has in the past penetrated North Korean computer systems. Previous analysis of the malware that brought down Sony Pictures' network showed that there were marked similarities to the tools used in last year's cyber-attack on South Korean media companies and the 2012 "Shamoon" attack on Saudi Aramco. While there was speculation that the "DarkSeoul" attack in South Korea was somehow connected to the North Korean regime, a firm link was never published.

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Startup Helps You Build Your Very Own Picosatellite On a Budget

Slashdot - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 11:31
Zothecula writes A Glasgow-based startup is reducing the cost of access to space by offering "satellite kits" that make it easier for space enthusiasts, high schools and universities alike to build a small but functional satellite for as little as US$6,000 and then, thanks to its very small size, to launch for significantly less than the popular CubeSats.

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RFID-Blocking Blazer and Jeans Could Stop Wireless Identity Theft

Slashdot - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 09:01
An anonymous reader writes A pair of trousers and blazer have been developed by San Francisco-based clothing company Betabrand and anti-virus group Norton that are able to prevent identity theft by blocking wireless signals. The READY Active Jeans and the Work-It Blazer contain RFID-blocking fabric within the pockets' lining designed to prevent hacking through radio frequency identification (RFID) signals emitted from e-passports and contactless payment card chips. According to the clothing brand, this form of hacking is an increasing threat, with "more than 10 million identities digitally pick pocketed every year [and] 70% of all credit cards vulnerable to such attacks by 2015."

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Terrestrial Gamma Ray Bursts Very Common

Slashdot - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 06:28
Rambo Tribble writes It was long thought that gamma ray bursts were the exclusive province of deep space sources. More recently it was found that storms could produce such emissions, but such occurrences were thought rare. Now, data from NASA's Fermi satellite suggest such events happen over a thousand times a day. Per Prof. Joseph Dwyer, from the University of New Hampshire, "These are big, monster bursts of gamma rays, and one would think these must be monster storms producing them. But that's not the case. Even boring-looking, garden-variety, little storms can produce these."

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Over 9,000 PCs In Australia Infected By TorrentLocker Ransomware

Slashdot - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 04:04
First time accepted submitter River Tam writes Cybercriminals behind the TorrenLocker malware may have earned as much as $585,000 over several months from 39,000 PC infections worldwide, of which over 9,000 were from Australia. If you're a Windows user in Australia who's had their files encrypted by hackers after visiting a bogus Australia Post website, chances are you were infected by TorrentLocker and may have contributed to the tens of thousands of dollars likely to have come from Australia due to this digital shakedown racket.

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Over 9,000 PCs In Australia Infected By TorrentLocker Ransomware

Slashdot - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 04:04
First time accepted submitter River Tam writes Cybercriminals behind the TorrenLocker malware may have earned as much as $585,000 over several months from 39,000 PC infections worldwide, of which over 9,000 were from Australia. If you're a Windows user in Australia who's had their files encrypted by hackers after visiting a bogus Australia Post website, chances are you were infected by TorrentLocker and may have contributed to the tens of thousands of dollars likely to have come from Australia due to this digital shakedown racket.

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Google Proposes To Warn People About Non-SSL Web Sites

Slashdot - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 02:11
mrspoonsi writes The proposal was made by the Google developers working on the search firm's Chrome browser. The proposal to mark HTTP connections as non-secure was made in a message posted to the Chrome development website by Google engineers working on the firm's browser. If implemented, the developers wrote, the change would mean that a warning would pop-up when people visited a site that used only HTTP to notify them that such a connection "provides no data security". Currently only about 33% of websites use HTTPS, according to statistics gathered by the Trustworthy Internet Movement which monitors the way sites use more secure browsing technologies. In addition, since September Google has prioritised HTTPS sites in its search rankings.

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Startup Magic Leap Hires Sci-Fi Writer Neal Stephenson As Chief Futurist

Slashdot - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 01:36
First time accepted submitter giulioprisco writes Magic Leap, a secretive Florida augmented reality startup that raised $542 million in October, hired renowned science fiction writer Neal Stephenson as its "Chief Futurist." Stephenson offers hints at the company's technology and philosophy: "Magic Leap is bringing physics, biology, code, and design together to build a system that is going to blow doors open for people who create things." According to the Magic Leap website, their Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal technology permits generating images indistinguishable from real objects.

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Navy Develops a Shark Drone For Surveillance

Slashdot - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 00:51
An anonymous reader writes The Navy is testing a new underwater drone called GhostSwimmer, which is designed to a href="https://www.yahoo.com/tech/navy-develops-ghostswimmer-drone-that-looks-like-105375377914.html">look like a shark and conduct surveillance work. It is being adapted by the chief of naval operations' Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC) project, Silent NEMO, in Norfolk, Va.. GhostSwimmer is 5 feet long and weighs almost 100 pounds. It can operate in water depths from 10 inches to 300 feet, and is designed to operate autonomously for long periods of time, according to the Navy.

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Google Strikes Deal With Verizon To Reduce Patent Troll Suits

Slashdot - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 00:05
mpicpp writes Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. struck a long-term patent cross-license agreement to reduce the risk of future patent lawsuits, the latest in a string of deals that signal a slowdown after years of aggressive patent wars. The deal effectively bars the companies from suing each other over any of the thousands of patents the companies currently own or acquire in the next five years. It also protects the companies if either sells a patent to another company, and that company attempts a lawsuit. "This cross license allows both companies to focus on delivering great products and services to consumers around the world," said Kirk Dailey, Google's head of patent transactions.

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Top Five Theaters Won't Show "The Interview" Sony Cancels Release

Slashdot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 23:23
tobiasly writes The country's top five theater chains — Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment — have decided not to play Sony's The Interview. This comes after the group which carried off a massive breach of its networks threatened to carry out "9/11-style attacks" on theaters that showed the film. Update: Sony has announced that it has cancelled the planned December 25 theatrical release.

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NASA Tests Feasibility of 3D Printing on the Moon and Other Planets

Slashdot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 22:40
ErnieKey writes A major application of 3d printing that could revolutionize space travel would be using 3d printers to create structures on non-terrestrial bodies like the moon, other planets, and even asteroids. Researchers from NASA's Kennedy Space Center have been working to develop solutions to materials issues, and recently presented initial findings on the potential for using in-situ materials like basalt for 3D printing. Their innovative method is based on only using in-situ supplies, and not materials that need to be brought into space.

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Book Review: Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress

Slashdot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 21:58
MassDosage writes "At the the risk of exposing my age I remember building my first website using a rudimentary Unix text editor (Joe) and carefully handcrafting the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) while directly logged on to the web server it was being served from. Back then Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) weren't even a glint in the eyes of their creators. A lot has changed and there's now a world of fancy WYSIWYG web page editors to choose from as well as Content Management Systems that allow you to create websites without looking at the underlying code at all. While this is all very useful and allows less technical people to create websites I still feel that having at least some knowledge of how everything works under the hood is empowering — especially in situations where you want to go beyond the limits placed on you by a certain tool. This is where Build Your Own Website: A comic guide to HTML, CSS and Wordpress comes into the picture. Its aim is to enable people new to web development to learn the subject by teaching the fundamentals of HTML and CSS first and only then describing how to use a Content Management System (CMS) — in this case Wordpress. While Wordpress might not be everyone's kettle of fish it's a good choice as an example of a modern CMS that is easily accessible and very popular. The concepts presented are simple enough that it should be easy enough for a reader to apply them to a different CMS should they want to. Read below for The rest of MassDosage's review.

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Research Highlights How AI Sees and How It Knows What It's Looking At

Slashdot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 21:16
anguyen8 writes Deep neural networks (DNNs) trained with Deep Learning have recently produced mind-blowing results in a variety of pattern-recognition tasks, most notably speech recognition, language translation, and recognizing objects in images, where they now perform at near-human levels. But do they see the same way we do? Nope. Researchers recently found that it is easy to produce images that are completely unrecognizable to humans, but that DNNs classify with near-certainty as everyday objects. For example, DNNs look at TV static and declare with 99.99% confidence it is a school bus. An evolutionary algorithm produced the synthetic images by generating pictures and selecting for those that a DNN believed to be an object (i.e. "survival of the school-bus-iest"). The resulting computer-generated images look like modern, abstract art. The pictures also help reveal what DNNs learn to care about when recognizing objects (e.g. a school bus is alternating yellow and black lines, but does not need to have a windshield or wheels), shedding light into the inner workings of these DNN black boxes.

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Manufacturer's Backdoor Found On Popular Chinese Android Smartphone

Slashdot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 20:55
Trailrunner7 writes that researchers at Palo Alto Networks have found a backdoor in Android devices sold by Coolpad. "A popular Android smartphone sold primarily in China and Taiwan but also available worldwide, contains a backdoor from the manufacturer that is being used to push pop-up advertisements and install apps without users' consent. The Coolpad devices, however, are ripe for much more malicious abuse, researchers at Palo Alto Networks said today, especially after the discovery of a vulnerability in the backend management interface that exposed the backdoor's control system. Ryan Olson, intelligence director at Palo Alto, said the CoolReaper backdoor not only connects to a number of command and control servers, but is also capable of downloading, installing and activating any Android application without the user's permission. It also sends phony over-the-air updates to devices that instead install applications without notifying the user. The backdoor can also be used to dial phone numbers, send SMS and MMS messages, and upload device and usage information to Coolpad."

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What Will Microsoft's "Embrace" of Open Source Actually Achieve?

Slashdot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 20:37
Nerval's Lobster writes Back in the day, Microsoft viewed open source and Linux as a threat and did its best to retaliate with FUD and patent threats. And then a funny thing happened: Whether in the name of pragmatism or simply marketing, Microsoft began a very public transition from a company of open-source haters (at least in top management) to one that's embraced some aspects of open-source computing. Last month, the company blogged that .NET Core will become open-source, adding to its previously open-sourced ASP.NET MVC, Web API, and Web Pages (Razor). There's no doubt that, at least in some respects, Microsoft wants to make a big show of being more open and supportive of interoperability. The company's even gotten involved with the .NET Foundation, an independent organization designed to assist developers with the growing collection of open-source technologies for .NET. But there's only so far Microsoft will go into the realm of open source—whereas once upon a time, the company tried to wreck the movement, now it faces the very real danger of its whole revenue model being undermined by free software. But what's Microsoft's end-goal with open source? What can the company possibly hope to accomplish, given a widespread perception that such a move on its part is the product of either fear, cynicism, or both?

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The Joys and Hype of Hadoop

Slashdot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 19:52
theodp writes "Investors have poured over $2 billion into businesses built on Hadoop," writes the WSJ's Elizabeth Dwoskin, "including Hortonworks Inc., which went public last week, its rivals Cloudera Inc. and MapR Technologies, and a growing list of tiny startups. Yet companies that have tried to use Hadoop have met with frustration." Dwoskin adds that Hadoop vendors are responding with improvements and additions, but for now, "It can take a lot of work to combine data stored in legacy repositories with the data that's stored in Hadoop. And while Hadoop can be much faster than traditional databases for some purposes, it often isn't fast enough to respond to queries immediately or to work on incoming information in real time. Satisfying requirements for data security and governance also poses a challenge."

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In Breakthrough, US and Cuba To Resume Diplomatic Relations

Slashdot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 19:10
HughPickens.com writes: 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."

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Army To Launch Spy Blimp Over Maryland

Slashdot - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 18:27
FarnsworthG writes: A multi-billion-dollar Army project will soon be able to track nearly everything within 340 miles when an 80-yard-long blimp is hoisted into the air over Maryland. Way to be subtle, guys. From the article: "Technically considered aerostats, since they are tethered to mooring stations, these lighter-than-air vehicles will hover at a height of 10,000 feet just off Interstate 95, about 45 miles northeast of Washington, D.C., and about 20 miles from Baltimore. That means they can watch what’s happening from North Carolina to Boston, or an area the size of Texas."

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