Mysterious Secret Russian Satellite May Be A Weapon

by evilviper@pipedot.org in space on 2014-11-19 08:36 (#2V4G)

As news of the Virgin Galactic crash, Antares explosion and Rosetta exploration filled science pages, another space drama has quietly unfurled. In May, Russia launched a rocket to add several satellites to its existing constellation. In the process, it deployed what was first believed to be a piece of space debris but has now become a matter of great speculation.

Russia did not declare its orbit, and now the U.S. military, space experts and amateur sleuths have been closely tracking its movements, each of which has been deliberate and precise. The unidentified satellite — called Object 2014-28E — recently navigated toward other Russian space objects, its voyage culminating in its recent hookup with the remains of the rocket stage that originally launched it.

There are whispers it could be the return of the ‘satellite killer’. The Soviet anti-satellite weaponry program called “Istrebitel Sputnikov” in the 1960s was believed to be permanently retired by the Soviet Union's collapse.

Scientists Determined to Clone Woolly Mammoths

by evilviper@pipedot.org in science on 2014-11-19 08:31 (#2V4F)

story imageGet ready for Pleistocene Park

South Korea's Sooam Biotech Research Foundation (which has been cloning dogs for years) is partnering with Russian researchers to clone a woolly mammoth, if only they can find suitable cells.

Russian and South Korean scientists who recovered a well-preserved frozen woolly mammoth from Siberia's permafrost last year raised hopes that researchers could find an intact cell nucleus that contained the full set of DNA instructions for making a mammoth. If that could be done, the nucleus could be inserted into an elephant egg, sparked into cell division, and then implanted into a surrogate mother elephant. The result? A clone that should be virtually identical to the long-dead mammoth.

Carbon dating of the mammoth's flesh determined that she lived about 40,000 years ago. (Earlier estimates suggested the remains were just 10,000 years old.) Growth rings in the tusk suggested she was in her late 50s when she died.

Ask Pipedot: small office collaboration/messaging

by zafiro17@pipedot.org in ask on 2014-11-17 13:35 (#2V33)

Here's the situation: you've got a small office of 8-20 employees who work in a consulting business and whose main products/deliverables are reports, spreadsheets, occasional CAD drawings, Gantt charts, project plans, and the like. Not only do they produce those things, they receive reports for which they produce comments/observations. Much of what they produce is collaborative or iterative (ie, not necessarily 'live editing' of spreadsheets, but several people must all contribute to a doc over the space of a week or so). To do so, they need efficient means of communication, discussion, versioning, etc.

Needs: document repository, shared editing of many types of documents, a messaging system for internal office communication, "sharing" system that permits clients to upload or download large files, a managed-content "front page" web site, an internal intranet, shared calendars, contacts lists, some sort of system to produce and maintain office policies and procedures, and otherwise manage internal communications and office admin. Some considerations for discussion, so I'm intentionally not specifying: (1) ideally, systems are usable by different OSes. Obviously there are going to be problems ensuring total OS independence. (2) ideally, the system doesn't require full-time online presence. Should a consultant wind up in a basement office with no internet, he won't be totally lost (again, not perfect). Note: no obligation for Free/Open Source software, although they are preferred. The goal here is an office that communicates and collaborates efficiently.

Ten years ago, you'd be sitting in a cube farm, using Microsoft Office and a shared drive and emailing documents back and forth. Later they'd have added Sharepoint. These days, there's been a ton of innovation in these areas, and there's consensus that collaboration-by-email is not fun. And there are lots of new approaches to these age-old problems.

So, how would you do it?

Google Glass future clouded as some early believers lose faith

by tanuki64@pipedot.org in hardware on 2014-11-17 09:22 (#2V2X)

story imageReuters is reporting a drop in usage of Google Glass. Turns out:
After two years of popping up at high-profile events sporting Google Glass, the gadget that transforms eyeglasses into spy-movie worthy technology, Google co-founder Sergey Brin sauntered bare-faced into a Silicon Valley red-carpet event on Sunday.
Google Glass may be losing its mojo as users struggle to accept obviously creepy spy aspects of the new technology. A quick Google search turns up things like:
  1. TechCrunch: MPAA Bans Google Glass And Other Wearable Cameras From Movie Theaters
  2. Mew York Post: The revolt against Google ‘Glassholes’
  3. Gizmodo: Is Google Glass Dying?
That's an inauspicious start to a new technology, and certainly the price tag doesn't help either: the test version of Google Glass comes with a $1,500 price tag. Says Reuters:
While Glass may find some specialized, even lucrative, uses in the workplace, its prospects of becoming a consumer hit in the near future are slim, many developers say.

Of 16 Glass app makers contacted by Reuters, nine said that they had stopped work on their projects or abandoned them, mostly because of the lack of customers or limitations of the device. Three more have switched to developing for business, leaving behind consumer projects.
[Author note: My personal experience? Google Glass is a difficult market even for business developers. As freelancing software developer I asked several of my customers what they think about possible Google Glass solutions. I pointed out some ideas how Google Glass could be used to benefit their business. Though the ideas were generally well received, they usually were answered with: Sounds very good, perhaps in the future. We are watching Google Glass. We thought about it ourselves, but don't think that at this point the necessary investments will pay off.

My advice to Google? Cut the price. For $150 I'd take the risk. Many nerd developers would. Google Glass needs a better reputation and a few killer apps. Only Google has the money and interest to improve the reputation of Google Glass. To find a killer app, it needs an as large as possible developer base. One does not get the latter with a $1500 product with a questionable future.]

[edited 2014-11-17 15:01 GMT: inauspicious, not auspicious]

New BeagleBoard-X15 announced

by axsdenied@pipedot.org in hardware on 2014-11-13 13:20 (#2V1H)

Following closely on the new Raspberry Pi A+ announcement from yesterday, the new BeagleBoard-X15 has been announced:
http://linuxgizmos.com/beagleboard-x15-features-dual-core-cortex-a15-sitara/

The device has decent specs: 2x 1.5GHz Cortex-A15, 2GB RAM, 4GB eMMC, eSATA port, 2xGigBit Ethernet, 3xUSB 3.0 ports, 1xHDMI.

From the site:
The original BeagleBoard pretty much single-handedly started the trend of open-spec Linux SBCs supported by hacking communities. It helped inspire the Raspberry Pi and dozens of other hacker boards. It had appeared that the BeagleBoard line would continue to fade into legacy as BeagleBoard.org focused on the BeagleBone, but the brand has come roaring back to life.

eLinux.org says it is hosting the official wiki for the device, and will offer more details in the coming weeks. The X15 is in beta and will ship from BeagleBoard.org and its hardware partners in late February, says ELinux.
No price has been announced yet.

Microsoft vulnerability allows remote code execution via a malformed SSL packet

by Anonymous Coward in security on 2014-11-13 13:18 (#2V1G)

Microsoft has quietly patched a serious SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) bug that allows remote code to be executed on any system configured to accept SSL transactions. That is to say, essentially, every Windows system ever made.

The bug is being discussed on Pastebin, where it is being alleged that Microsoft has seriously understated the seriousness of this bug, potentially in an effort to downplay its use as a potential zero day. The same folks are making threats about what will happen if Microsoft doesn't get around to producing patches for legacy systems as well, given how prevalent SSL technology is in today's web browsing environment.

Philae lander: touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

by zafiro17@pipedot.org in space on 2014-11-12 18:26 (#2V0N)

story imageWe live in amazing times. Ten years after the mission was conceived and set into motion, European scientists have landed a spacecraft on the surface of a comet. Despite the fear stemming from the unknown consistency of the comet's surface, which could have ranged from powdery to tarry frozen to anything in between, Philae sank only 4cm into the surface, which indicates perhaps a slight coating of dust.
Over the coming months as Philae piggybacks on the comet and Rosetta maintains orbit, the data they send back could be key to unlocking answers about the formation of the Solar System, the origins of water on Planet Earth and perhaps even life itself.

Rosetta selfie with Comet 67P in background
The challenge for the flight team operating Rosetta from back on Earth was to land Philae on a rotating, duck-shaped comet travelling through space at 18km/s (40,000mph).
The BBC has tons of coverage of the event. Amazing, simply amazing. If you checked my productivity and web-browsing habits today, you'd discover I checked into the BBC's live coverage this morning and was glued to it for the rest of the day. I wasn't around when we landed on the moon, but this is an even more impressive, technical feat. Congrats to everyone who made this happen!

ISPs caught stripping STARTTLS from email

by bryan@pipedot.org in security on 2014-11-12 02:34 (#2V0A)

Those evil ISPs are at it again:
Recently, Verizon was caught tampering with its customer's web requests to inject a tracking super-cookie. Another network-tampering threat to user safety has come to light from other providers: email encryption downgrade attacks. In recent months, researchers have reported ISPs in the US and Thailand intercepting their customers' data to strip a security flag—called STARTTLS—from email traffic. The STARTTLS flag is an essential security and privacy protection used by an email server to request encryption when talking to another server or client.1

By stripping out this flag, these ISPs prevent the email servers from successfully encrypting their conversation, and by default the servers will proceed to send email unencrypted. Some firewalls, including Cisco's PIX/ASA firewall do this in order to monitor for spam originating from within their network and prevent it from being sent. Unfortunately, this causes collateral damage: the sending server will proceed to transmit plaintext email over the public Internet, where it is subject to eavesdropping and interception.
Although I wouldn't trust the content of your non-PGP email to ever be secure, this could potentially lead to your email account password being transmitted in-the-clear, depending on how your email client and server are configured.

GamerGate, two months on: a story of change in the industry

by vanderhoth@pipedot.org in games on 2014-11-11 20:45 (#2TZT)

story imageTwo months after the story first broke, GamerGate continues to roll on and make headlines, and though it remains a polarized issue, here is an update posted with hopes it will be informative, not inflammatory. After all, many would argue gamergate isn't about gaming, it's about censorship in the media and on the 'Net. If that's the case, it affects and impacts all of us.

Here's and update on what's happened over the past few weeks.

1) Operation Disrespectful Nod has successfully convinced many advertizers to pull out of media publications such as Gamasutra, Polygon, Kotaku and parent Gawker Media.

2) Users have generated lots of new material, from blog posts and youtube videos to memes and articles by smaller publications. They demonstrate the diversity in members for the movement, feminist, anti-feminist, conservatives, liberals, male, female, black, white, LGBT and everything in between. This is a community that isn't going to go down easy. At a minimum, check out GamerGate in 60 seconds, The Evidence and History of GamerGate, The Monsters of GG, or NotYourShield - We Are Gamers.

3) A couple publications have now updated their code of ethic policies including: The Escapist and IGN.

4) New Gaming sites are being established, such as Good Gamers and Niche Gamer.

5) New MetaCritic tool (MyMetaCritic) is under development. It's called MyMediaCritic, and it will provide a place for readers and consumers to rate the different online media outlets, journalists, and youtubers. Their initial alpha release will focus on the Games industry; once the alpha is successful, they plan on growing into other industries as well.

6) Finally, The David Pakman Show has started reporting on the controversy and has published a series of informative interviews with both pro and anti GamerGate supporters. Good stuff, as he makes it clear he is in neither camp, just trying to get to the bottom of the issue. Otherwise, the pro- and anti-camps are pretty well established. Brianna Wu received threats, and alleges they were from GamerGate supporters. As for Arthur Chu, well judge for yourself.1Liana Kerzner (Canadian tech and gaming blogger), Matthew Rappard (from The Fine Young Capitalists), and Fredrick "Hot Wheels" Brennan (the Admin of 8Chan.co) are considered neutral reporters of the situation; and John Bain (AKA Total Biscuit), Milo Yiannopoulos (recently banned, then reinstated on Twitter), and Jennie Bharaj are considered to be supporters. David Pakman hasn't had an easy time conducting the interviews: many prominent people opposed to GamerGate refused to be recorded, and some went as far as to accuse him of leading a hate mob. Check out this tweet from Nov 1, for example: “Overnight, received many emails saying if I don't apologize for neutrality on GamerGate, I'm guilty of leading a hate mob against women”

7) When GamerGate supporters started questioning IGF judging practice one IGF judge had a “meltdown” on twitter and quit. IGF released an apology shortly after, after being hounded on twitter for "throwing the judge under the bus" for discussing the judging process and other judges started expressing displeasure and threatening to pull out of judging in protest.

There's a silver lining in the cloud of bitterness and vitriol, and it's clear this scandal is leading to important change. For one, Women, Action, and Media (WAM) has partnered with Twitter in the development of a new anti-harassment tool. Though it allows Twitter to censor harassment – especially against women – it too has caused controversy, as it is already being abused to falsely report GamerGate supporters in an effort to silence the protest.

Is this thing done? No way. Next thing we'll be hearing is Anita Sarkeesian lobbying for broader social media tools that allow for further censorship without accountability... oh wait ...

1 Hey ... he was good on Jeopardy, at least!

Obama speaks out on Network Neutrality

by bsdguy@pipedot.org in internet on 2014-11-11 20:15 (#2TZR)

President Barack Obama has spoken out on the topic of Net Neutrality, and
he advocates for an Internet that is free and open. That's a bold move in this political environment!

It would seem that the President is interested in keeping a free and open internet without sweetheart deals. Now if only the FCC listens to the President and the many other Americans who have commented on this matter. Now, what about the other big, Internet-heavy nations that enjoy the benefits of being connected. Who will be the next to speak up? And does Obama's opinion mean the debate will swing in the direction of consumer benefit, or will the corporations have their say?
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