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United States

Obama Authorizes Penalties For Foreign Cyber Attackers 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the laying-down-the-law dept.
An anonymous reader writes President Barack Obama has today signed an executive order extending the U.S. administration's power to respond to malicious cyberattacks and espionage campaigns. The order enforces financial sanctions on foreign hackers who action attacks against American businesses, institutions and citizens. It will enable the secretary of the Treasury, along with the attorney general and secretary of State, to inflict penalties on cyber criminals behind hacking attacks which "create a significant threat to U.S. national security, foreign policy or economic health or financial stability of the United States," Obama said. Sanctions could include freezing of assets or a total ban on commercial trade.
News

Ask Slashdot: Identifying a Stolen Car Using Police Camera Databases? 50

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-happens-sometimes-people-just-explode dept.
Dear Slashdot: First, some background. I have been "between schools" for some time, but have recently entered a training program that could at least potentially turn into a lucrative career. The work involves investigating, torture testing, and sometimes bypassing various automotive sub-systems, primarily car ignition, security and other embedded systems, for clients who are often surprised just how fragile these systems can be. The pay is minimal while I'm something more like an intern than a full-time employee, but that's OK -- I figure these skills will stand me in good stead. Now, my problem, and a question: One of the vehicles which I would very much like to play with is unavailable to me and my coworkers for the simple reason that it was stolen before we'd even taken possession of it. Normally, my employer might just write off the loss, but for various reasons would really like to locate this car in particular -- perhaps mostly a point of pride, but partly because future contracts from the same client might hinge on locating it rather than looking incompetent. I know that Ars Technica recently showed that it was possible to obtain a great deal of information about scanned registration-plate data using FOIA and other legal means; what I want to know is whether anyone can recommend particular tools or methods for locating stolen cars with such data that doesn't rely on going through the police or insurance companies, saving embarrassment and hassle. I know enough that I could probably file a FOIA *request* (most likely, my supervisor already has, actually) but not sure what we will be able to do with the raw data returned, or if there are sources for data other than "$Plate + GeoCoords." Plates obviously can be changed, too; are there publicly available sources for whole-car images that could be efficiently scanned? Best, of course, would be images with at least some rough sorting applied, so things could be sorted both by geography (we'd focus on our own area, Southern Caifornia, so start with, because we have reason to believe it was stolen in this area) and at least by vehicle type or color. And of course, this is probably asking too much, since I imagine it will be a near-impossible task to get this kind of data; we'd also welcome the magic of crowd-sourcing, so if you spot a tan Chevy Maibu with New Mexico plates (K88-283), there's probably some nice incentives in it for you.
News

Rare Ideopathic Encephaly Tied to Higher IQ, Not Lower 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the consume-mass-quantities dept.
Timothy writes Cranial deformation is commonly linked to brain dysfunction; it is one of the most common serious conditions affecting fetal growth. Multiple factors are involved, but in nearly every case on record the result is debilitating; stillbirth or neonatal death are common. A mutation, though, has been observed among members of a New Jersey family which represents a rare case of heritable encephaly tied not to dysfunction, but to higher-than-average intelligence, and with no evident negative health consequences.

Donald R. DeCicco (not his real name) and his wife Prymaat of Paramus, both French-born naturalized U.S. citizens, were born with unremarkable physical characteristics, apart from a specific constellation of physical abnormalities affecting maxillofacial and brain development. In both of their cases, brain development appears to be ordinary, but with all brain lobes occupying a volume that is both larger and narrower than typical. All medical tests (and the couple's success as educated, productive members of society) make it clear that their condition has not prevented ordinary life, and may even have enhanced it; a series of MRI and PET scans conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers indicated that their above-average cerebella are at least as active and neuron-rich as are more run-of-the-mill subjects' brains, and tests of memory, cognition, and reasoning place both DeCicco and Clorhone in the top percentile of American rest subjects. A daughter, Connie, shares both their unusual skeletal growth pattern, and is similarly highly intelligent; perhaps this form of heritable encephaly should be thought of as akin to Marfan syndrome, for its pairing of both high intelligence and a characteristic bone-growth pattern. At least one researcher quoted in the linked article believes that less extreme forms of the same anomaly can be observed in some historical and contemporary figures, citing as examples both Vladimir Putin and actor Richard Belzer as bearing some tendency toward the same characteristic shape.

First described by a family physician and described in the Journal of the Society of the Federal Health Professionals,the condition has been labeled Sandler's Syndrome.
News

Parents Sue School After Pod Daughter Is Banned From Prom 25

Posted by samzenpus
from the pods-are-people-too dept.
With the prom season only a few months away kids and parents alike are starting to make plans for the big day. However, one girl's alien replacement might not get a chance to experience that special day if a school district has its way. Even though Darcy Swope's pod duplicate is virtually identical to her, the Santa Mira school district has decided she is not welcome to prom. School officials acknowledge the duplicate attended school and did Darcy's homework for an unknown period of time but say she isn't really a student and therefore doesn't belong at the dance. Darcy's parents disagree with the decision and have filed suit against the school, Her dad says, "We miss Darcy every day, but the thing that consumed her and is now pretending to be my daughter is almost the same and deserves to be treated the same." "She may not have that sparkle in her eye or the vocabulary as our flesh and blood daughter, but she has never missed curfew and has a thirst to learn. It would be a shame if Darcy II didn't get a chance to experience this important part of being human, even if she isn't one," adds her mother.
News

V'Ger Source Code Released 48

Posted by samzenpus
from the build-your-own dept.
One of the biggest hurdles to interstellar domination has always been the prohibitive cost of proprietary software for ships or super-weapons. That is all about to change thanks to a surprise move by a mysterious alien race of living machines who have released V'ger's source code. While you'll still need a way to generate a "twelfth-power energy field," this opens the door to many would-be conquerors and ultimate weapon enthusiasts. The release has been praised in terms of increased security and reduced costs by most, but some worry that cheaper, more secure super weapons aren't what the universe needs at this time. Federation spokesperson Lieutenant Ilia disagrees saying: "This is in the carbon units best interest. Many worlds have been infested, You will listen to me."
News

Leak Reveals Government Conspiracy, Atrocity 37

Posted by samzenpus
from the half-of-writing-history-is-hiding-the-truth dept.
First time accepted submitter Sigmon writes An unauthorized wave recently broadcast on the Cortex has revealed not only the existence of a previously unknown settlement on a far away border world called Miranda but also that the entire population of settlers was inadvertently wiped out by a top-secret Alliance program. Miranda was purportedly used as a testing ground for G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate, or simply "Pax" — a chemical agent designed to calm the population and weed out aggression. It seems the test did not go as planned. Also, reporters have been dispatched to the location of a battle not far from Miranda's location where the Alliance fleet has apparently suffered significant losses. It is unknown if the two events are related at this time. When contacted for comment on these events, government officials were very tight-lipped, however one official responded with a confusing statement about "Damming a river."
News

Madman: Proximity To Black Hole "Not a Big Deal" 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the old-bob-approved dept.
Conventional wisdom says you want to stay as far away from a black hole as you can, but according to one scientist turned madman being close to or even inside one is "not a big deal". Former lead scientist and current overlord of the Cygnus Dr. Hans Reinhardt says he's spent the last 20 years studying the black hole within sight of his ship and is unconcerned. His napkin written manifesto reads in part: "....In addition we have to remember that the main backer of this mission is a company best known for children's movies and theme parks. I find it highly unlikely that they would put us in a situation where we would be in danger of imploding. The black hole is not a big deal. I theorize that a trip through would result in nothing more than a musical montage with fever-like lens effects and eventual plot resolution." According to Reinhardt new visitors trapped by his null gravity field should remain calm, still, and never question his authority. "Once you've been fitted with the mandatory Cygnus crew goggles, you'll see things my way," He says.
News

Invaders Demand Flu Shots 52

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-your-medicine dept.
An Anonymous Coward writes in with this bit from the Intercontinental Radio News Network describing an ongoing situation near Grovers Mill, New Jersey. What was originally thought to be a large meteor crash near the Wilmuth farm has turned out to be the beginning of a Martian invasion. Local officials have had limited contact with the invaders at this point, but their actions so far have the experts scratching their heads. "I expected to be disintegrated or turned into a pile of goo by their advance weaponry but all they did was ask where they could get cold medicine," says a first responder. Initial reports indicate that the aliens have gathered all the vitamin C and antihistamine tablets from the downtown area and have now surrounded the local hospital in their strange ships and are demanding flu shots. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman says that the agency theorizes the red Martian dust makes the cold and flu season almost unbearable and hopes that the aliens will leave soon after their treatments. He adds: "While alien invaders are terrifying we can take heart in the fact that our flu shot campaign has performed beyond all expectations this year by reaching Mars. We consider their demands our success."
News

Wastelanders Decry Lack of Change In Punishment Wheel 36

Posted by samzenpus
from the bust-a-deal dept.
If you've spent time in the wasteland you've no doubt gone to Bartertown. Famous for its functioning walls, the oasis gives traders a chance to watch people battle to the death in a giant cage and deal busters spin The Wheel to learn their fate. While most wanderers enjoy watching the bloodsport many are now complaining that The Wheel is starting to feel old. "It's been around so long I think everyone has seen every option many times. You never know what's going to happen when someone is trying to smash someone else with a giant hammer, but The Wheel is getting predictable. It's worked so well that nobody has bothered to come up with new options," says one purveyor of slightly irradiated meat. His voice is just one in a growing chorus of dissatisfied wanderers. Another long-time resident adds: "I know it may not seems like a big deal, but part of the fun of living out here is the excitement. If the punishment to my eventual crime can't be fresh or creative I don't know what we're trying to build. These are not the values of the Bartertown I grew up in."
Wikipedia

If You Thought Studying History Was Bad, This Math Professor Is Making It Harder 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the when-reference-books-become-religion dept.
Raven writes: New research out of Streeling University aims to make planning for the future much easier. The work, led by professor Seldon, tries to set probabilistic values on future events, and then weigh those probabilities against each other to figure out what combination of events is most likely to happen. Describing it under the unlikely moniker "psychohistory," Seldon seems to think planning even 10,000 years into the future might be possible. (Seldon also seems to be a bit of a doomsayer, so this is likely exaggerated.) Nevertheless, it'll be another tool for government planners to consider when developing new colonies.
United Kingdom

Man-Shaped Robots Harass Britain Once Again 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the typical-government-IT-project dept.
NotRicky writes: The UK's terrible string of luck with violent robots continues. The man-shaped metal monstrosities that have plagued the country at seemingly random times throughout history rose up once more yesterday. No one yet knows their source, or what phenomenon — natural or man-made — keeps drawing them to that area of the world. While initial reports indicated trillions of dollars worth of damage and countless lives lost, the re-establishment of communications paints a much more hopeful picture. The British government remains quiet about the situation, politely refusing foreign aid and letting one of their intelligence agencies direct efforts to restore order. Reporters and camera crews are having difficulty documenting the situation — it's not clear whether this is due to interference from the government or simply the chaotic nature of the robot uprising. A medical professional on the scene was quoted as saying, "It's simple, really — even the flattened brick you call a computer can undelete, can't it?"
Piracy

UK IP Chief Wants ISPs To Police Piracy Proactively 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the he-believes-in-intellectual-property dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from TorrentFreak: The UK's top IP advisor has published recommendations on how Internet service providers should deal with online piracy. Among other things, he suggested that Internet services should search for and filter infringing content proactively. According to the report, ISPs have a moral obligation to do more against online piracy. Mike Weatherley, a Conservative MP and Intellectual Property Adviser to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, has pushed various copyright related topics onto the political agenda since early last year. Previously Weatherley suggested that search engines should blacklist pirate sites, kids should be educated on copyright ethics, and that persistent file-sharers should be thrown in jail.
Education

The End of College? Not So Fast 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the beer-companies-and-loan-companies-won't-allow-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The advent of MOOCs, Khan Academy, and the hundreds of other learning sites that have popped up caused many people to predict the decline of expensive, four-year universities. But Donald Heller writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education that most of the people making these claims don't have a good understanding of how actual students are interacting with online classes. He points out that it's a lot easier for a 40-year-old who's in a stable life position, and who has already experienced college-level education to work through an MOOC with ease. But things change when you're asking 18- to 20-year-olds to give up the structure and built-in motivation of a physical university to instead sit at their computer for hours at a time. (The extremely low pass rate for free online courses provides some evidence for this.) Heller also warns that prematurely hailing MOOCs as a replacement for colleges will only encourage governments and organizations to stop investing in institutions of higher learning, which could have dire consequences for education worldwide.
Encryption

NSA Worried About Recruitment, Post-Snowden 234

Posted by Soulskill
from the should-have-thought-of-that-before-being-jerks dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The NSA employs tens of thousands of people, and they're constantly recruiting more. They're looking for 1,600 new workers this year alone. Now that their reputation has taken a major hit with the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden, they aren't sure they'll be able to meet that goal. Not only that, but the NSA has to compete with other companies, and they Snowden leaks made many of them more competitive: "Ever since the Snowden leaks, cybersecurity has been hot in Silicon Valley. In part that's because the industry no longer trusts the government as much as it once did. Companies want to develop their own security, and they're willing to pay top dollar to get the same people the NSA is trying to recruit." If academia's relationship with the NSA continues to cool, the agency could find itself struggling within a few years.
Sci-Fi

We're In a Golden Age of Star Trek Webseries Right Now 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the living-long-and-prospering dept.
New submitter DakotaSmith writes: io9 has an article explaining why We're Living In The Golden Age Of Star Trek Webseries Right Now. If you're a true geek, you probably already know about Star Trek Continues and Star Trek: Phase II. (If you're a true geek and you don't know about them, run — do not walk, run — to watch "Lolani." Your brain— and more importantly, your heart — will love you for the rest of your life.)

But there's more to it than that. A lot more. How about the years'-long wait for Act IV of Starship Exeter : "The Tressaurian Intersection"? Or Yorktown: "A Time to Heal" — an attempt to resurrect an aborted fan film from 1978 starring George Takei? For fans of old-school Star Trek (the ones who pre-date "Trekker" and wear "Trekkie" as a badge of honor), not since 1969 has there been a better time to watch Star Trek: The Original Series.

(Oh, and there's plenty content out there for you "Trekkers" and NextGen-era fans. It all varies in quality, but it doesn't take much effort to find them. This is truly a Golden Age. Recognize it and enjoy it while it lasts.)
The Courts

SCOTUS: GPS Trackers Are a Form of Search and Seizure 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the may-the-fourth-amendment-be-with-you dept.
schwit1 writes: If the government puts a GPS tracker on you, your car, or any of your personal effects, it counts as a search—and is therefore protected by the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court clarified and affirmed that law on Monday, when it ruled on Torrey Dale Grady v. North Carolina (PDF), before sending the case back to that state's high court. The Court's short but unanimous opinion helps make sense of how the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, interacts with the expanding technological powers of the U.S. government. "The only theory we discern [...] is that the State's system of nonconsensual satellite-based monitoring does not entail a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. That theory is inconsistent with this Court's precedents."
Power

Massive Power Outage Paralyzes Turkey 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the taken-for-granted-until-it's-gone dept.
wiredmikey writes: A massive power outage caused chaos and shut down public transport across Turkey on Tuesday, with the government refusing to rule out that the electricity system had been the victim of an attack. The nationwide power cut, the worst in 15 years, began shortly after 10:30 am (0730 GMT) in Istanbul, the state-run Anatolia news agency quoted the Turkey Electricity Transmission Company (TEIAS) as saying. Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said the authorities were investigating whether the power outage was due to a technical failure or cyber-attack. "It is too early to say now if it is because of a technical reason, a manipulation, a faultplay, an operational mistake, or a cyber (attack). We are looking into it... We cannot say they are excluded possibilities."
Canada

Amazon Tests Delivery Drones At Secret Canada Site After US Frustration 204

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-the-national-dronehockey-league dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from The Guardian: Amazon is testing its drone delivery service at a secret site in Canada, following repeated warnings by the e-commerce giant that it would go outside the U.S. to bypass what it sees as the U.S. federal government's lethargic approach to the new technology. The largest internet retailer in the world is keeping the location of its new test site closely guarded. What can be revealed is that the company's formidable team of roboticists, software engineers, aeronautics experts and pioneers in remote sensing – including a former NASA astronaut and the designer of the wingtip of the Boeing 787 – are now operating in British Columbia. The end goal is to utilize what Amazon sees as a slice of virgin airspace – above 200ft, where most buildings end, and below 500ft, where general aviation begins. Into that aerial slice the company plans to pour highly autonomous drones of less than 55lbs, flying through corridors 10 miles or longer at 50mph and carrying payloads of up to 5lbs that account for 86% of all the company's packages.
Firefox

Firefox 37 Released 151

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
Today Mozilla began rolling out Firefox version 37.0 to release channel users. This update mostly focuses on behind-the-scenes changes. Security improvements include opportunistic encryption where servers support it and improved protection against site impersonation. They also disabled insecure TLS version fallback and added a security panel within the developer tools. One of the things end users will see is the Heartbeat feedback collection system. It will pop up a small rating widget to a random selection of users every day. After a user rates Firefox, an "engagement" page may open in the background, with links to social media pages and a donation page. Here are the release notes and full changelist.
Books

Book Review: Drush For Developers, 2nd Edition 29

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Michael Ross writes As with any content management system, building a website using Drupal typically requires extensive use of its administrative interface, as one navigates through its menus, fills out its forms, and reads the admin pages and notifications — or barely skims them, as they have likely been seen by the site builder countless times before. With the aim of avoiding this tedium, speeding up the process, and making it more programmatic, members of the Drupal community created a "shell" program, Drush, which allows one to perform most of these tasks on the command line. At this time, there is only one current print book that covers this tool, Drush for Developers, Second Edition, which is ostensibly an update of its predecessor, Drush User's Guide. Read below for the rest of Michael's review.