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Effective: 2016-June to 2016-December

Updated: 2016-10-10

Updated by: NCommander

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On what medium do you read most?

  • Paper
  • eBook reader
  • Phone or tablet
  • Traditional computer's screen
  • Tea leaves
  • My medium reads me
  • Other (please specify)

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:69 | Votes:363

posted by martyb on Friday October 21, @04:12AM   Printer-friendly
from the hot-stuff dept.

This reactor is going out with a bang:

On Friday, Sept. 30, at 9:25 p.m. EDT, scientists and engineers at MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center made a leap forward in the pursuit of clean energy. The team set a new world record for plasma pressure in the Institute's Alcator C-Mod tokamak nuclear fusion reactor. Plasma pressure is the key ingredient to producing energy from nuclear fusion, and MIT's new result achieves over 2 atmospheres of pressure for the first time.

[...] During the 23 years Alcator C-Mod has been in operation at MIT, it has repeatedly advanced the record for plasma pressure in a magnetic confinement device. The previous record of 1.77 atmospheres was set in 2005 (also at Alcator C-Mod). While setting the new record of 2.05 atmospheres, a 15 percent improvement, the temperature inside Alcator C-Mod reached over 35 million degrees Celsius, or approximately twice as hot as the center of the sun. The plasma produced 300 trillion fusion reactions per second and had a central magnetic field strength of 5.7 tesla. It carried 1.4 million amps of electrical current and was heated with over 4 million watts of power. The reaction occurred in a volume of approximately 1 cubic meter (not much larger than a coat closet) and the plasma lasted for two full seconds.

[...] While Alcator C-Mod's contributions to the advancement of fusion energy have been significant, it is a science research facility. In 2012 the DOE decided to cease funding to Alcator due to budget pressures from the construction of ITER. Following that decision, the U.S. Congress restored funding to Alcator C-Mod for a three-year period, which ended on Sept. 30. [...] Scientists, students, and faculty from the Alcator C-Mod team will discuss fusion, the pressure record, Alcator C-Mod, and the high-field approach at an Ask Me Anything Session on Reddit on Thursday, Oct. 20, at 1 p.m. EDT.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday October 21, @02:36AM   Printer-friendly
from the Oompa-Loompa-Reunion dept.

"After helping build the "Harry Potter" franchise and rebooting it with "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," producer David Heyman and Warner Bros. are re-teaming to revive another classic character.

Sources tell Variety that Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to the "Willy Wonka" IP from the Roald Dahl Estate and is planning a new movie centered around the eccentric character.

Heyman will produce with Michael Siegel, who is the manager of the Dahl Estate. Kevin McCormick is exec producing. "The Secret Life of Pets" scribe Simon Rich is penning the script. Courtenay Valenti is overseeing the project for the studio.

Sources reveal that the film will not be an original tale, but a standalone movie focused on Wonka and his early adventures. It's unknown who from the original book series, other than Wonka, will be involved in the project. If the reboot is a hit, it seems likely that characters like Charlie could be seen in future installments of a possible franchise."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday October 21, @12:58AM   Printer-friendly
from the that-wasn't-the-plan dept.

A novel approach has found a way to take information leaked by recent Intel processors and use that to bypass Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR). A story at Ars Technica, reports on research that allows attackers to bypass ASLR:

Researchers have devised a technique that bypasses a key security protection built into just about every operating system. If left unfixed, this could make malware attacks much more potent.

[...] Abu-Ghazaleh and two colleagues from the State University of New York at Binghamton demonstrated the technique on a computer running a recent version of Linux on top of a Haswell processor from Intel. By exploiting a flaw in the part of the CPU known as the branch predictor, a small application developed by the researchers was able to identify the memory locations where specific chunks of code spawned by other software would be loaded. In computer security parlance, the branch predictor contains a "side channel" that discloses the memory locations.

[...] A table in the predictor called the "branch target buffer" stores certain locations known as branch addresses. Modern CPUs rely on the branch predictor to speed up operations by anticipating the addresses where soon-to-be-executed instructions are located. They speculate whether a branch is taken or not and, if taken, what address it goes to. The buffers store addresses from previous branches to facilitate the prediction. The new technique exploits collisions in the branch target buffer table to figure out the addresses where specific code chunks are located.

[...] On Tuesday, the researchers presented the bypass at the IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture in Taipei, Taiwan. Their accompanying paper, titled "Jump Over ASLR: Attacking the Branch Predictor to Bypass ASLR [PDF]," proposes several hardware and software approaches for mitigating attacks.

It seems to me that any technique that conditionally provides improved execution speed can potentially become subject to a side-channel attack. If so, is the ultimate solution one where each instruction is restricted to running no faster than in its worse-case? Or that every instruction takes a fixed number of clock ticks? What about higher-level software routines that take different amounts of time dependent on their inputs? Is there a general solution to this class of side-channel leakage or are we stuck with a perpetual game of cat-and-mouse?

Also at:

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by martyb on Thursday October 20, @11:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the lucky-devils dept.

The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) reports that University of Tasmania researchers have identified four Tasmanian devils which recovered, in the wild, from devil facial tumour disease, the transmissible facial cancers that are prevalent in the species. Another two recovered, but were afflicted again later.

Tasmanian Devils are Developing Resistance to Transmissible Cancer

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday October 20, @09:48PM   Printer-friendly
from the No-steering-wheel?-No-brakes?-No-problem! dept.

The AP via U.S. News & World Report reported last month that California's Department of Motor Vehicles has proposed regulations that would allow fully autonomous cars, without a human driver, steering wheel or control pedals. On Wednesday the state's government held a workshop to hear public comment on the proposal. In January, Google had stated that it would not offer such cars in California if the state required a human driver to be present. According to KCRA-TV,

DMV hopes to have a finalized draft of regulations in the coming months. There will then be a 45-day public comment period before the draft is approved.

additional coverage:

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday October 20, @08:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the professional-educators dept.

The Epoch Times reports

The family of [13-year-old Columbus, Georgia] student Montravious Thomas claim that behavioral specialist, Bryant Mosley, physically attacked the young student on his first day at AIM/Edgewood Student Services Center on Sept. 12.

[The family's attorney] Renee Tucker, [said that the boy], who was the only student in the classroom, wanted to leave the classroom to call his mother from the main office to pick him up. As Thomas tried to leave the classroom, Mosley slammed him to the floor. When he tried to leave again, he was slammed to the floor again. It's not clear how [many] times this occurred.

Tucker said that assistant principal Eddie Powell reportedly witnessed the incident and a school resources officer observed Thomas limping after the alleged attack.

Thomas was allegedly told that school officials would call an ambulance, but changed their minds. Once classes were dismissed, Mosley carried an injured Thomas to an idle school bus without notifying his family of the events that had transpired.

[...] Since the alleged incident, Thomas has undergone four surgeries. Doctors at Egleston Children's Hospital informed the family on Oct. 16 that [Thomas'] nerve damage was so severe, his right leg would have to be amputated.

U.S. Uncut further reports

The boy's mother was forced to be absent from [work] while [caring] for son and ultimately lost [her job].

Inside sources have reported that the school is in possession of a videotape of the confrontation and the boy's attorney has submitted an open records request to gain possession of the footage in addition to 50 documents related to the incident. They plan to sue the school for $5 million.

[..] Mosley works for Mentoring and Behavioral Services, which claims to conduct "holistic behavior approaches" to student discipline. Mosley is no longer working with the school district, though it has not been confirmed at this time whether this was a result of his confrontation with the student.


posted by martyb on Thursday October 20, @06:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the how-did-they-model-the-removal? dept.

Microsoft has decided to drop the UML (Unified Modeling Language) designer tools from Visual Studio 15, reports Paul Krill at IT World. MS sales and support teams confirmed that few customers were actually using the feature.

"Removing a feature is always a hard decision, but we want to ensure that our resources are invested in features that deliver the most customer value," said Microsoft's Jean-Marc Prieur, senior program manager for Visual Studio.

I've almost never had occasion to use UML professionally other than a few hand drawn designs on scrap paper that were thrown away. I did have a coworker who had a tool that generated UML from code that was sometimes helpful when he explained his work in review sessions. In school UML appeared to be a nightmare that was used for modelling everything but software, yet academics talked about UML one day becoming executable and replacing code.

Do you use UML? Are you going to miss this feature in Visual Studio?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday October 20, @04:56PM   Printer-friendly
from the counting-accounts-counts dept.

Business Insider reports that a compromise of Yahoo! that had been acknowledged to affect "at least 500 million" accounts may have affected significantly more. Citing an unnamed "former Yahoo executive familiar with its security practices," the story says that the company's "main user database, or UDB" which stores the details for users of several of the company's services, was compromised. If the entire database were copied, information on one to three billion accounts could have been stolen.

Amid Fallout from Hack and Spying, Yahoo! Disables Email Forwarding
In Yahoo Breach, Hackers May Seek Intelligence, Not Riches
500 Million Yahoo Accounts Hacked

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday October 20, @03:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the circular-reasoning dept.

As soon as SRI explained how their new Abacus transmission worked, we were absolutely sure that it was cool enough to share. In a nutshell, here's why: It's the first new rotary transmission design since Harmonic Drive introduced its revolutionary gear system in the 1960s*, and it might give harmonic gears a literal run for their money.

Harmonic gears are great, but they're also super duper expensive, because they require all kinds of precision machining. Alexander Kernbaum, a senior research engineer at SRI International, has come up with an entirely new rotary transmission called the Abacus drive, and it's a beautiful piece of clever engineering that offers all kinds of substantial advantages:

The Abacus drive (named because it has components that look like the beads of an abacus) is what's called a pure rolling transmission: there are no parts that rub or slide against each other (like gear teeth), only parts rolling against other parts. Rubbing and sliding result in wasted energy, and in fact, conventional transmissions are typically only 50 percent efficient. Kernbaum says that Abacus has an efficiency "in the high 90s," a massive improvement.

[Video]: SRI Abacus Rotary Transmission [Javascript required]

* Harmonic drive gears are based on an ingenious mechanism known as a strain wave gear, which was invented in 1955 by a prolific engineer named C. Walton Musser (his other numerous inventions include the recoilless rifle and the ejection seat).

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Thursday October 20, @01:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the his-remix-is-on-our-list dept.

Start with legendary singer/songwriter/producer John Oates (of Hall & Oates) and then add in a two-hour collaboration to write a new song with eight people — on stage in front of a live audience. Then release the song's stems royalty-free into the public domain and encourage anyone to remix it.

Billboard has a nice writeup on the original composition: John Oates Presents Berklee College of Music Collaboration Project 'Smoke and Mirrors':

As half of one of the greatest duos in pop history, John Oates is certainly no stranger to collaboration when it comes to songwriting and recording. But despite his half-century's worth of experience in the music industry, he says he's never been in involved in anything like new song "Smoke & Mirrors" before, whose studio video Billboard is premiering today.

"It was totally unique," he says of the endeavor. "We wrote a song in two hours with eight people. It was a very unique, cool thing to do."

The eight people he refers to are students of the Berklee College of Music, where Oates served as the Herb Alpert Visitng[sic] Professor for a 2015-16 residency. During his second year at the school, the "She's Gone" singer-songwriter devised (along with music business/management associate professor Stephanie Kellar) to work with that group on a new song, which they would write together in the space of a two-hour session, in front of a live audience.

"We had a long table set up, and we had teams of two people working on each facet of the composition," Oates explains. "And I was kind of the ring master, you know, I bounced around." Different pairs of students (collectively referred to as "WritersBloc") were assigned different responsibilities -- track, lyrics, topline melody -- while their professor helped out as needed, and a studio audience observed. "It was just this sense of 'Let's see what we can do, let's see if we can create a song from scratch, in this kind of collaborative environment,'" Oates says.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer recalls being taken aback by how well the project came together. "To be honest from you, I was shocked from the very beginning that it was actually working," he admits. "It could have gone south really quickly... but everyone seemed to be able to relate." Oates explains that once the song's groove was in place, everything fell in step from there. "They came up with a certain feel, a certain tempo, which then began to dictate how the rest of the writers were going to attack the song and bring it to the next level."

Having the song's title in place also helped move the process along. "We had the title "Smoke and Mirrors," and [I said], 'That's a cool, evocative title, but it could go in any direction you want. It could literally be about smoke and mirrors, or it could be a metaphor for a relationship for whatever,'" Oates recalls. "And in the end, it did turn into a metaphor for an emotional relationship... once we locked into that, it really moved quickly."

Writing the song was only the beginning; now John Oates invites anyone to remix it:


posted by CoolHand on Thursday October 20, @11:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the hardware-over-software dept.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) says wind-powered electricity generation's "intermittency" had nothing to do with the blackouts following South Australia's catastrophic storms in late September.

In its ongoing investigation of what caused the "system black" event on 28 September, the AEMO says the storm caused a loss of 445 MW of wind output (out of a total loss of 900 MW), rather than the 315 MW of its original estimate.

However, AEMO's updated preliminary report (PDF) makes it clear that the political assertions made about wind energy were false.

"The most well known characteristic of wind power, variation of output with wind strength (often termed 'intermittency'), was not a material factor in the events of 28 September 2016", the report states on page 21.

Only 20 MW of wind power disconnected due to excessive wind speed. Instead, most loss of wind output was down to how the wind farms' control systems were configured – in particular, the settings for "voltage ride-through" events, which the report notes are proprietary settings in the control software.

For more information on the storm, see coverage by CNN, The Guardian , The Conversation and ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

"Bad Bespoke Software." Software shouldn't have spokes. That's the problem right there.

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Thursday October 20, @10:18AM   Printer-friendly
from the should-really-be-in-space-or-undersea dept.

When Apple finishes its new $5 billion headquarters in Cupertino, California, the technorati will ooh and ahh over its otherworldly architecture, patting themselves on the back for yet another example of "innovation." Countless employees, tech bloggers, and design fanatics are already lauding the "futuristic" building and its many "groundbreaking" features. But few are aware that Apple's monumental project is already outdated, mimicking a half-century of stagnant suburban corporate campuses that isolated themselves—by design—from the communities their products were supposed to impact.

In the 1940s and '50s, when American corporations first flirted with a move to the 'burbs, CEOs realized that horizontal architecture immersed in a park-like buffer lent big business a sheen of wholesome goodness. The exodus was triggered, in part, by inroads the labor movement was making among blue-collar employees in cities. At the same time, the increasing diversity of urban populations meant it was getting harder and harder to maintain an all-white workforce. One by one, major companies headed out of town for greener pastures, luring desired employees into their gilded cages with the types of office perks familiar to any Googler.

Rockstar coders don't do suburbs?

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Thursday October 20, @08:41AM   Printer-friendly
from the i-toe-tally-get-it-now dept.

It has long been known that the thickness of the epidermis varies around the body. For example, skin is thicker on the soles but thinner on the ears. However, the mechanism for maintaining the relative thickness of the outer skin, or epidermis, has been largely unknown.

Now, the research group, led by Professor Tomomi Nemoto of the university's Research Institute for Electronic Science, has established a new method for three-dimensional, real-time observation of the deep structure of the skin in living mice using advanced microscopy technology.
The team's analysis revealed for the first time that in thicker skin, basal cells divide obliquely with high frequency, whereas for basal cells in thin skin -- such as the back and ears -- divisions in the basement membrane were mostly parallel. By analyzing divisional direction three-dimensionally, correlations were found between the thickness of the epidermis and the frequency of oblique division with regard to the basement membrane.

In case you always wondered.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday October 20, @07:08AM   Printer-friendly
from the where's-a-muckraker-when-you-need-one? dept.

Okay, so, I wasn't going to submit these here because I've really had quite enough of politics for the year but it seems the mainstream media are having an absolute blackout on anything critical of Hillary, to the point of CNN has both coincidentally lost a sitting congressman's satellite feed immediately after mentioning wikileaks and tried to tell their viewers that even reading the wikileaks emails is illegal.

These two videos by Project Veritas Action, apparently with more to come, are the result of a year or so of actual investigative journalism and deserve coverage somewhere though. I don't personally care at all if you like Hillary or not but it's always better to know the truth than to stick your head in the sand, so here they are.

The first part in the series is titled Clinton Campaign and DNC Incite Violence at Trump Rallies. It basically shows precisely what it says it does. Hidden cameras capture Scott Foval of Americans United for Change not so much admitting as bragging that they have operatives in numerous major cities that are actually trained in how best to incite violence at Trump rallies.

The second part of the series is again aptly titled Mass Voter Fraud. In this video Scott Foval is again captured going into minute detail on how not only go commit mass voter fraud but how to get away with it.

Scott Foval and Robert Creamer (also in the videos) are currently unemployed as a result of these videos. Whether Mrs. Clinton should be as well, that's for you to decide.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday October 20, @05:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the mandatory-opt-in dept.

It is illegal today to use DNA testing for employment, but as science advances its understanding of genes that correlate to certain desirable traits -- such as leadership and intelligence -- business may want this information.

People seeking leadership roles in business, or even those in search of funding for a start-up, may volunteer their DNA test results to demonstrate that they have the right aptitude, leadership capabilities and intelligence for the job.

This may sound farfetched, but it's possible based on the direction of the science, according to Gartner analysts David Furlonger and Stephen Smith, who presented their research at the firm's Symposium IT/xpo here. This research is called "maverick" in Gartner parlance, meaning it has a somewhat low probability and is still years out, but its potential is nonetheless worrisome to the authors.

Businesses could also weed out people with diabetes, heart defects, and any other congenital defects that can lead to absenteeism.

Original Submission

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