An anonymous reader writes "InfoWorld reached out to three security researchers who participate in Google's vulnerability reporting program, through which the company now offers as much as $20,000 for bug reports. They provided some insightful perspectives on what Google (and other companies, such as Mozilla) are doing right in paying bounties on bugs, as well as where there's some room for improvement."
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mikejuk writes with this excerpt from I Programmer: "A movie that features science and technology is always welcome, but is it not often we have one that focuses on computer science. Travelling Salesman is just such a rare movie. As you can guess from its name, it is about the Travelling Salesman problem, more precisely about the P=NP question. Written and directed by Timothy Lanzone, and produced by Fretboard Pictures, it should premiere on June 16. As the blurb to the movie trailer says: 'Travelling Salesman is an intellectual thriller about four of the world's smartest mathematicians hired by the U.S. government to solve the most elusive problem in computer science history — P vs. NP. The four have jointly created a "system" which could be the next major advancement for humanity or the downfall of society.'"
Sabbetus writes "Seattle based Bitcoin startup CoinLab secured a $500,000 investment from various investors such as Silicon Valley firm Draper Associates and angel investor Geoff Entress. CoinLab is an emerging umbrella group for cultivating and launching innovative Bitcoin projects. CEO Vessenes said 'if there is a currency that can trade around the world, it's semi-anonymous, it's instant, it's not controlled by government or bank, what's the total value of that currency? The answer to that is, if it works, it's gotta be in the billions. It just has to be for all the reasons you might want to send money around the world.' This type of talk is common from Bitcoin enthusiasts but apparently seasoned investors are starting to agree. Forbes explains the details of their business plan but in short it has to do with tapping the GPU mining potential of gamers, more specifically gamers of free-to-play games. This would add a new revenue stream for online game companies that are trying to provide free games profitably."
FhnuZoag writes "A backdoor has been found in Canadian based RuggedCom's 'Rugged Operating System', providing easy access to anyone with the devices's MAC address — something often publically displayed. Rugged OS is being used in a wide range of applications, including traffic control, power generation, and even U.S. Navy bases. The backdoor was first found over a year ago, and RuggedCom have so far refused to patch out the exploit." The exploit is trivial: each device has a permanent "factory" user, and an automatically generated password derived from the MAC.
DesScorp writes "James Lovelock, the scientist that came up with the 'Gaia Theory' and a prominent herald of climate change, once predicted utter disaster for the planet from climate change, writing 'before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.' Now Lovelock is walking back his rhetoric, admitting that he and other prominent global warming advocates were being alarmists. In a new interview with MSNBC he says: '"The problem is we don't know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books — mine included — because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn't happened," Lovelock said. "The climate is doing its usual tricks. There's nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now," he said. "The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising — carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that," he added.' Lovelock still believes the climate is changing, but at a much, much slower pace."
Sci-Fi author Charlie Stross was recently put in the position of offering his thoughts to book publisher Macmillan on why eBook DRM is a terrible thing — not just for consumers, but for publishers, too. He makes a strong case that the removal of DRM, while not an immediate financial boon, will strongly benefit publishers in years to come through increased goodwill from users, greater leverage against Amazon's near-monopoly on distribution, and better platform interoperability. "Within 5 years we will be seeing a radically different electronic landscape. Unlocking the readers' book collections will force Amazon and B&N and their future competitors to support migration (if they want to compete for each others' customers). So hopefully it will promote the transition from the near-monopoly we had before the agency model, via the oligopoly we have today, to a truly competitive retail market that also supports midlist sales." Users have been railing against DRM for years, but it appears the publishers are finally starting to listen.
New submitter sethopia writes "Brooklyn Law School's Incubator and Policy Clinic (BLIP) hosted its first 'Legal Hackathon.' Instead of hacking computer code, attendees — mostly lawyers, law students, coders, and entrepreneurs — used the hacking ethos to devise technologically sophisticated solutions to legal problems. These included attempts to crowdsource mayoral candidacies in New York City and hacking model privacy policies for ISPs."
nicholast writes "The New Yorker has a story by Ken Auletta about the connections between Stanford and Silicon Valley. The piece explains how important the university is to tech companies and venture capital firms, but it also questions whether Stanford has become too focused on wealth. 'It's an atmosphere that can be toxic to the mission of the university as a place of refuge, contemplation, and investigation for its own sake,' says one professor. The piece also explains Stanford's conflicted thoughts about distance education, which could transform the university or prove to be a threat to it."
New submitter wave9x writes "The United States Department of Agriculture confirmed today that the nation's fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, sometimes referred to as 'mad cow disease' was found in a dairy cow in California. The animal has been euthanized and the carcass is being being held under State authority at a rendering facility in California and will be destroyed."
redletterdave writes "Chinese scientists have cloned a genetically modified sheep containing a 'good' type of fat found naturally in nuts, seeds, fish and leafy greens that helps reduce the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. The gene, which is linked to the production of polyunsaturated fatty acids, was inserted into a donor cell taken from the ear of a Chinese Merino sheep. The cell was then inserted into an unfertilized egg and implanted into the womb of a surrogate sheep. With any luck, this process could be replicated in the future to clone more animals for safe and healthy consumption."
benfrog writes "In a blog post, Mark Shuttleworth announced some changes for Ubuntu 12.10 (due in October), including the code name (Quantal Quetzal — no, really) and a theme update. He said, 'That will kick off with a project on typography to make sure we are expressing ourselves with crystal clarity – making the most of Ubuntu’s Light and Medium font weights for a start. And a project on iconography, with the University of Reading, to refine the look of apps and interfaces throughout the platform. It’s amazing how quaint the early releases of Ubuntu look compared to the current style. And we’re only just getting started! In our artistic explorations we want to embrace tessellation as an expression of the part-digital, part-organic nature of Ubuntu.' Some other more meaningful announcements include a focus on the cloud in the server version and the lack of a transition from Upstart to systemd."
sycodon writes with news of research into how nearby supernovae affected the development of life on Earth. "[Professor Henrik Svensmark] found that the changing frequency of nearby supernovae seems to have strongly shaped the conditions for life on Earth. Whenever the Sun and its planets have visited regions of enhanced star formation in the Milky Way Galaxy, where exploding stars are most common, life has prospered. Prof. Svensmark remarks in the paper, "The biosphere seems to contain a reflection of the sky, in that the evolution of life mirrors the evolution of the Galaxy.' ... The data also support the idea of a long-term link between cosmic rays and climate, with these climatic changes underlying the biological effects. And compared with the temperature variations seen on short timescales as a consequence of the Sun's influence on the influx of cosmic rays, the heating and cooling of the Earth due to cosmic rays varying with the prevailing supernova rate have been far larger.""
Taco Cowboy writes "Arctic methane release is a well recorded phenomenon. Methane stored in both permafrost (which is melting) and methane hydrates (methane trapped in marine reservoirs) are vulnerable to being released into the atmosphere as the planet warms. However, researchers who are trying to map atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations on a global basis have discovered that the amount of methane emissions in the Arctic region do not total up. Further research revealed that significant amounts of methane releases came from the Arctic ocean (abstract) — as much as 2 milligrams of the gas is released per square meter of ocean, each day — presumably by marine bacteria surviving in low-nutrient environments."
MrSeb writes "Firefox 12 has been officially released, with only one major new feature: A silent, background updater. Now you will have to approve the Firefox Software Updater when you first install Firefox, but after that the browser will update silently — just like Chrome. In other news, the Find feature now reliably centers the page on any matches — hooray!" Here are the release notes, the list of bug fixes, and the download page.
New submitter microcars writes "Harvard recently sent a memo to faculty saying, 'We write to communicate an untenable situation facing the Harvard Library. Many large journal publishers have made the scholarly communication environment fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive. This situation is exacerbated by efforts of certain publishers (called "providers") to acquire, bundle, and increase the pricing on journals.' The memo goes on to describe the situation in more detail and suggests options to faculty and students for the future that includes submitting articles to open-access journals. If Harvard paves the way with this, how long until other academic bodies follow suit and cut off companies such as Elsevier?"