Robotics

Robots In 2020: Lending a Helping Hand To Humans (And Each Other) 37

Posted by timothy
from the never-show-them-weakness dept.
Lashdots writes: In the next five years, robots won't kill us (or drive our cars). But they will get better at helping us do routine tasks—and at helping each other too. Those are some of the predictions Fast Company gleaned from some of the robotics firms on its "most innovative" list, including Anki Robotics, robot-based genetic testing startup Counsyl, and Lockheed Martin, which has demonstrated a pair of unmanned aerial vehicles that work together to fight fires. I'm just waiting for drones that will simultaneously cut my lawn and deter burglars.
Security

CareerBuilder Cyberattack Delivers Malware Straight To Employers 41

Posted by timothy
from the where-it-hurts dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Security threat researchers Proofpoint have uncovered an email-based phishing attack which infected businesses with malware via the CareerBuilder online job search website. The attack involved the hacker browsing job adverts across the platform and uploading malicious files during the application process, titling the documents "resume.doc" and "cv.doc." Once the CV was submitted, an automatic email notification was sent to the business advertising the position, along with the uploaded document. In this case, Proofpoint found that as a business opens the automatic email from CareerBuilder to view the attached file the document plays on a known Word vulnerability to sneak a malicious code onto the victim's computer. According to the threat research group, the manual attack technique although time-consuming has a higher success rate than automated tools as the email attachments are more likely to be opened by the receiver.
Security

Researcher Bypasses Google Password Alert For Second Time 30

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-watch-everything-you-lose-perspective dept.
Trailrunner7 writes with this excerpt: A security researcher has developed a method–actually two methods–for defeating the new Chrome Password Alert extension that Google released earlier this week.

The Password Alert extension is designed to warn users when they're about to enter their Google passwords into a fraudulent site. The extension is meant as a defense against phishing attacks, which remain a serious threat to consumers despite more than a decade of research and warnings about the way the attacks work.

Just a day after Google released the extension, Paul Moore, a security consultant in the U.K., developed a method for bypassing the extension. The technique involved using Javascript to look on a given page for the warning screen that Password Alert shows users. The method Moore developed then simply blocks the screen, according to a report on Ars Technica. In an email, Moore said it took him about two minutes to develop that bypass, which Google fixed in short order.

However, Moore then began looking more closely at the code for the extension, and Chrome itself, and discovered another way to get around the extension. He said this one likely will be more difficult to repair.

"The second exploit will prove quite difficult (if not near impossible) to resolve, as it leverages a race condition in Chrome which I doubt any single extension can remedy. The extension works by detecting each key press and comparing it against a stored, hashed version. When you've entered the correct password, Password Alert throws a warning advising the user to change their password," Moore said.
Graphics

My High School CS Homework Is the Centerfold 472

Posted by timothy
from the awfully-thin-skin dept.
theodp writes: To paraphrase the J. Geils Band, Maddie Zug's high school computer science homework is the centerfold. In a Washington Post op-ed, Zug, a student at the top-ranked Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, argues that a centerfold does not belong in the classroom. "I first saw a picture of Playboy magazine's Miss November 1972 a year ago as a junior at TJ," Zug explains. "My artificial intelligence teacher told our class to search Google for Lena Soderberg (not the full image, though!) and use her picture to test our latest coding assignment...Soderberg has a history with computer science. In the 1970s, male programmers at the University of Southern California needed to test their image-processing algorithm. They scanned what they had handy: the centerfold of a Playboy magazine. Before long, the image became a convention in industry and academia." (Wikipedia has a nice background, too.)
AT&T

AT&T Bills Elderly Customer $24,298.93 For Landline Dial-Up Service 205

Posted by timothy
from the but-it-says-in-the-fine-print dept.
McGruber writes: 83-year-old Woodland Hills, California resident Ron Dorff usually pays $51 a month to AT&T for a landline, which he uses to access the Internet via an old-school, low-speed AOL dial-up subscription.... but then, in March, AT&T sent him a bill for $8,596.57. He called AT&T and their service rep couldn't make heads or tails of the bill, so she said she'd send a technician to his house. None came, so Dorff figured that everything was ok.

Dorff's next monthly bill was for $15,687.64, bringing his total outstanding debt to AT&T, including late fees, to $24,298.93. If he didn't pay by May 8, AT&T warned, his bill would rise to at least $24,786.16. Droff then called David Lazarus, business columnist for the LA Times, who got in touch with AT&T, who wasted little time in deciding it would waive the more than $24,000 in charges.

AT&T spokeshole Georgia Taylor claims Dorff's modem somehow had started dialing a long-distance number when it accessed AOL, and the per-minute charges went into orbit as he stayed connected for hours.

AT&T declined to answer the LA Times questions about why AT&T didn't spot the problem itself and proactively take steps to fix things? AT&T also declined to elaborate on whether AT&T's billing system is capable of spotting unusual charges and, if so, why it doesn't routinely do so.
Bug

Long Uptime Makes Boeing 787 Lose Electrical Power 211

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-tried-turning-off-and-then-on-again? dept.
jones_supa writes: A dangerous software glitch has been found in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. If the plane is left turned on for 248 days, it will enter a failsafe mode that will lead to the plane losing all of its power, according to a new directive from the US Federal Aviation Administration. If the bug is triggered, all the Generator Control Units will shut off, leaving the plane without power, and the control of the plane will be lost. Boeing is working on a software upgrade that will address the problems, the FAA says. The company is said to have found the problem during laboratory testing of the plane, and thankfully there are no reports of it being triggered on the field.
Communications

The Pioneer Who Invented the Weather Forecast 33

Posted by timothy
from the kept-it-hidden-in-his-conestoga dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Peter Moore has a fascinating article on BBC about how Admiral Robert FitzRoy, the man who invented the weather forecast in the 1860s faced skepticism and even mockery in his time but whose vision of a public forecasting service, funded by government for the benefit of all, is fundamental to our way of life. Chiefly remembered today as Charles Darwin's taciturn captain on HMS Beagle, during the famous circumnavigation in the 1830s, in his lifetime FitzRoy found celebrity from his pioneering daily weather predictions, which he called by a new name of his own invention — "forecasts". There was no such thing as a weather forecast in 1854 when FitzRoy established what would later be called the Met Office. With no forecasts, fishermen, farmers and others who worked in the open had to rely on weather wisdom — the appearance of clouds or the behavior of animals — to tell them what was coming as the belief persisted among many that weather was completely chaotic. But FitzRoy was troubled by the massive loss of life at sea around the coasts of Victorian Britain where from 1855 to 1860, 7,402 ships were wrecked off the coasts with a total of 7,201 lost lives. With the telegraph network expanding quickly, FitzRoy was able to start gathering real-time weather data from the coasts at his London office. If he thought a storm was imminent, he could telegraph a port where a drum was raised in the harbor. It was, he said, "a race to warn the outpost before the gale reaches them".

For FitzRoy the forecasts were a by-product of his storm warnings. As he was analyzing atmospheric data anyway, he reasoned that he might as well forward his conclusions — fine, fair, rainy or stormy — on to the newspapers for publication. "Prophecies and predictions they are not," he wrote, "the term forecast is strictly applicable to such an opinion as is the result of scientific combination and calculation." The forecasts soon became a quirk of this brave new Victorian society. FitzRoy's forecasts had a particular appeal for the horseracing classes who used the predictions to help them pick their outfits or lay their bets.

But FitzRoy soon faced serious difficulties. Some politicians complained about the cost of the telegraphing back and forth. The response to FitzRoy's work was the beginning of an attitude that we reserve for our weather forecasters today. The papers enjoyed nothing more than conflating the role of the forecaster with that of God and the scientific community were skeptical of his methods. While the majority of fishermen were supportive, others begrudged a day's lost catch to a mistaken signal. FitzRoy retired from his west London home to Norwood, south of the capital, for a period of rest but he struggled to recover and on 30 April 1865 FitzRoy cut his throat at his residence, Lyndhurst-house, Norwood, on Sunday morning. "In time, the revolutionary nature of FitzRoy's work would be recognised," says Moore. "FitzRoy's vision of a weather-prediction service funded by government for the benefit of its citizens would not die. In 1871, the United States would start issuing its own weather "probabilities", and by the end of the decade what was now being called the Met Office would resume its own forecasts in Britain."
Graphics

Square Enix Witch Chapter Real-Time CG DX12 Demo Impresses At Microsoft BUILD 79

Posted by timothy
from the killer-graphics dept.
MojoKid writes: Computer generated graphics have come a long way in the past several years and are starting to blur the line between animation and real actors. One of the more difficult tasks for CG artists is to recreate human emotions, especially crying, though you wouldn't know it after watching a tech demo that Square Enix showed off at the Microsoft BUILD Developer Conference. The real-time tech demo is called Witch Chapter 0 [cry] and is part of a research project that studies various next generation technologies. For this particular demo, Square Enix put a lot of research into real-time CG technology utilizing DirectX 12 in collaboration with Microsoft and NVIDIA, the company said. It's an ongoing project that will help form Square Enix's Luminous Studio engine for future games. The short demo shows some pretty impressive graphics, with an amazing level of detail. As the camera zooms in, you can clearly see imperfections in the skin, along with glistening effects from areas where the face is wet with either tears or water
Stats

Humans Dominating Poker Super Computer 85

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-it's-a-ringer dept.
New submitter IoTdude writes: The Claudico super computer uses an algorithm to account for gargantuan amounts of complexity by representing the number of possible Heads-Up No-limit Texas Hold'em decisions. Claudico also updates its strategy as it goes along, but its basic approach to the game involves getting into every hand by calling bets. And it's not working out so far. Halfway through the competition, the four human pros had a cumulative lead of 626,892 chips. Though much could change in the week remaining, a lead of around 600,000 chips is considered statistically significant.
Windows

Android and iOS App Porting Will Not Be Available At Windows 10 Launch 51

Posted by timothy
from the all-things-in-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Arguably the biggest news out of Microsoft's Build 2015 conference was that developers will be able to bring Web apps, Windows desktop apps (Win32), as well as Android and iOS mobile apps to the Windows Store. Yet each of these work differently, and there are a lot of nuances, so we talked to Todd Brix, general manager of Windows apps and store, to get some more detail. First and foremost, upon Windows 10's launch, developers will only be able to bring Web apps to the Windows Store. The Win32, Android, and iOS app toolkits will not be ready in time. That said, with Microsoft's Windows as a service strategy, they will arrive as part of later updates
The Courts

Judge Tosses United Airlines Lawsuit Over 'Hidden City' Tickets 123

Posted by timothy
from the you-had-to-go-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes: United Airlines lost a legal round in its effort to stop a website that helps people find 'hidden city' ticket pairs. The airline, along with online travel site Orbitz, sued New York-based Skiplagged.com and its founder, Aktarer Zaman, in November seeking an injunction to stop the site from sending users to Orbitz to purchase United tickets. A federal judge ruled Thursday that Illinois isn't the proper venue for the carrier's claims.
Microsoft

Microsoft Releases Visual Studio Code Preview For Linux, OS X, and Windows 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the of-proof-and-pudding dept.
ClockEndGooner writes: Microsoft is still extending its efforts into cross platform development with the release of a preview edition of Visual Studio Code, "a lightweight cross-platform code editor for writing modern web and cloud applications that will run on OS X, Linux and Windows." Derived from its Monaco editor for Visual Studio Online, the initial release includes rich code assistance and navigation for JavaScript, TypeScript, Node.js, ASP.NET 5, C# and many others.
GNU is Not Unix

Debian GNU/Hurd 2015 Released 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
An anonymous reader sends this announcement from the debian-hurd mailing list: It is with huge pleasure that the Debian GNU/Hurd team announces the release of Debian GNU/Hurd 2015. This is a snapshot of Debian "sid" at the time of the stable Debian "jessie" release (April 2015), so it is mostly based on the same sources. It is not an official Debian release, but it is an official Debian GNU/Hurd port release. The installation ISO images can be downloaded from Debian Ports in the usual three Debian flavors: NETINST, CD, or DVD. Besides the friendly Debian installer, a pre-installed disk image is also available there, making it even easier to try Debian GNU/Hurd. The easiest way to run it is inside a VM such as qemu.
NASA

New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive 418

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-argue dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Last year, NASA's advanced propulsion research wing made headlines by announcing the successful test of a physics-defying electromagnetic drive, or EM drive. Now, this futuristic engine, which could in theory propel objects to near-relativistic speeds, has been shown to work inside a space-like vacuum. NASA Eagleworks made the announcement quite unassumingly via NASASpaceFlight.com. The EM drive is controversial in that it appears to violate conventional physics and the law of conservation of momentum; the engine, invented by British scientist Roger Sawyer, converts electric power to thrust without the need for any propellant by bouncing microwaves within a closed container. So, with no expulsion of propellant, there’s nothing to balance the change in the spacecraft’s momentum during acceleration.
Earth

Climatologist Speaks On the Effects of Geoengineering 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the make-it-rain-bad-coffee-in-seattle dept.
Lasrick writes: In this interview with Rutgers University climatologist Alan Robock, he discusses geoengineering and nuclear winter. Robock believes that geoengineering is not the solution to global warming because of its many risks and unknowns. He notes that some of the technology that would be required to implement geoengineering has not been developed and that many socio-political questions would have to be resolved before it could be put into practice. To start with, the world would have to reach agreement on a target temperature and on what entity should do the implementing. Robock's biggest fear with regard to geoengineering is that disputes over these questions could escalate into nuclear war which in turn could cause nuclear winter, producing global famine among other effects. Fascinating, wide-ranging interview with one of the world's top climatologists.
Open Source

OpenBSD 5.7 Released 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Right on schedule, OpenBSD 5.7 was released today, May 1, 2015. The theme of the 5.7 release is "Source Fish." There are some big changes in OpenBSD 5.7. The nginx httpd server was removed from base in favor of an internally developed httpd server in 5.7. BIND (named) was retired from base in 5.7 in favor of nsd(8) (authoritative DNS) and unbound(8) (recursive resolver). Packages will exist for BIND and nginx. This version includes a new control utility, rcctl(8), for managing daemons/services, USB 3 support and more. See a detailed log of changes between the 5.6 and 5.7 releases for more information. If you already have an OpenBSD 5.6 system, and do not want to reinstall, upgrade instructions and advice can be found in the Upgrade Guide. You can order the 5.7 CD set from the new OpenBSD Store and support the project.
Security

Chinese Security Vendor Qihoo 360 Caught Cheating In Anti-virus Tests 62

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-in-the-virus-jar dept.
Bismillah writes: China's allegedly largest security vendor Qihoo 360 has fessed up to supplying custom versions of its AV for testing according to an investigation by Virus Bulletin, AV-Comparatives and AV-Test. "On requesting an explanation from Qihoo 360 for their actions (PDF), the firm confirmed that some settings had been adjusted for testing, including enabling detection of types of files such as keygens and cracked software, and directing cloud lookups to servers located closer to the test labs. After several requests for specific information on the use of thirdparty engines, it was eventually confirmed that the engine configuration submitted for testing differed from that available by default to users."
Mozilla

Mozilla Begins To Move Towards HTTPS-Only Web 308

Posted by Soulskill
from the driving-web-privacy dept.
jones_supa writes: Mozilla is officially beginning to phase out non-secure HTTP to prefer HTTPS instead. After a robust discussion on the mailing list, the company will boldly start removing capabilities of the non-secure web. There are two broad elements of this plan: setting a date after which all new features will be available only to secure websites, and gradually phasing out access to browser features for non-secure websites, especially regarding features that pose risks to users' security and privacy. This plan still allows for usage of the "http" URI scheme for legacy content. With HSTS and the upgrade-insecure-requests CSP attribute, the "http" scheme can be automatically translated to "https" by the browser, and thus run securely. The goal of this effort is also to send a message to the web developer community that they need to be secure. Mozilla expects to make some proposals to the W3C WebAppSec Working Group soon.
Power

Tesla Announces Home Battery System 499

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-plans-for-a-1.21-gigawatt-model dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Early this morning, Elon Musk finally revealed Tesla's plans for the home: battery systems designed to store up to 10 kWh of power. The company is leveraging the battery technology they've developed for their electric cars to enable more people to switch to renewable power for their homes. There will be two models of the battery. The 10 kWh version will cost $3,500, and the 7 kWh version will cost $3,000. They can deliver power at a continuous rate of 2kW, with peaks up to 3 kW. Crucially, the batteries will be warrantied for 10 years. Musk thinks the market for home batteries will expand to at least two billion, eventually. But even a much smaller uptake for now will validate the creation of Tesla's "gigafactory."

"The gigafactory is the recipient of the largest incentive package ever given by Nevada at $1.3 billion, which followed a hotly contested tax incentive bidding war between various states to land the Tesla battery plant. For the investment to pay off, Tesla needs to convince hundreds of thousands of consumers per year to buy its cars and battery products, with the gigafactory serving as a cornerstone to the company's sales strategy. ... An early gigafactory rendering released by Tesla stated that the plant will have an annual battery pack output of 50 gigawatt hours — the bulk of which will go toward batteries for cars with most of the remainder to be allocated for stationary batteries, according to figures mentioned by Tesla's chief technology JB Straubel last year. The gigafactory's sheer scope makes other battery products a possibility as well."
United States

US Switches Air Traffic Control To New Computer System 159

Posted by samzenpus
from the upgrade-complete dept.
coondoggie writes: The Federal Aviation Administration this week said it had completed the momentous replacement of the 40-year-old main computer systems that control air traffic in the US. Known as En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM), the system is expected to increase air traffic flow, improve automated navigation and strengthen aircraft conflict detection services, with the end result being increased safety and less flight congestion. The FAA said the Lockheed Martin-developed ERAM systems “uses nearly two million lines of computer code to process critical data for controllers, including aircraft identity, altitude, speed, and flight path. The system almost doubles the number of flights that can be tracked and displayed to controllers.”