the unofficial Slashdot digest

35,000 Walrus Come Ashore In Alaska

Posted by samzenpus in News • View
the eric conspiracy writes "Lack of sea ice in the Arctic has forced record numbers of walrus to come ashore in Alaska. The walrus, looking for a place to rest have come ashore in Point Lay Alaska. The walrus normally rest on floating ice. "We are witnessing a slow-motion catastrophe in the Arctic," Lou Leonard, vice president for climate change at the World Wildlife Fund, said in a statement that was reported by CNN. "As this ice dwindles, the Arctic will experience some of the most dramatic changes our generation has ever witnessed. This loss will impact the annual migration of wildlife through the region, threaten the long-term health of walrus and polar bear populations, and change the lives of those who rely on the Arctic ecosystem for their way of life."

Nothing new here ...

By jamesl • Score: 3 • Thread

Mass haulouts of Pacific walrus and stampede deaths are not new, not due to low ice cover

Large haulouts of walruses -- such as the one making news at Point Lay, Alaska on the Chukchi Sea (and which happened before back in 2009) -- are not a new phenomenon for this region over the last 45 years and thus cannot be due to low sea ice levels. Nor are deaths by stampede within these herds (composed primarily of females and their young) unusual, as a brief search of the literature reveals.

Includes references, links and copies of contemporary reports.

Laying the Groundwork For Data-Driven Science

Posted by samzenpus in News • View
aarondubrow writes The ability to collect and analyze massive amounts of data is transforming science, industry and everyday life. But what we've seen so far is likely just the tip of the iceberg. As part of an effort to improve the nation's capacity in data science, NSF today announced $31 million in new funding to support 17 innovative projects under the Data Infrastructure Building Blocks (DIBBs) program, including data infrastructure for education, ecology and geophysics. "Each project tests a critical component in a future data ecosystem in conjunction with a research community of users," said said Irene Qualters, division director for Advanced Cyberinfrastructure at NSF. "This assures that solutions will be applied and use-inspired."

Leaked Docs Reveal List of 30 Countries Hacked On Orders of FBI Informant Sabu

Posted by samzenpus in News • View
blottsie writes A Federal Bureau of Investigation informant targeted more than two dozen countries in a series of high-profile cyberattacks in 2012. The names of many of those countries have remained secret, under seal by a court order—until now. A cache of leaked IRC chat logs and other documents obtained by the Daily Dot reveals the 30 countries—including U.S. partners, such as the United Kingdom and Australia—tied to cyberattacks carried out under the direction of Hector Xavier Monsegur, better known as Sabu, who served as an FBI informant at the time of the attacks.

FBI hidden agenda

By lucm • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

They can spin this any way they want, but the only explanation that makes sense is that they were hoping that this operation would at some point lead them to Assange (who had prior contacts with Sabu). Shame on them.

What, wait?!

By jd • Score: 3 • Thread

You mean to tell me that the US doesn't even trust the other Five Eyes nations' spy agencies to be able to do this?*

*Yes, I know, to get round legal restrictions, it was very normal for the US to spy on the citizens of the other four and to exchange that data for information collected on US citizens by other members of Five Eyes. However, we now know all the agencies DO spy on their own citizens, routinely. So the US can ask GCHQ to wiretap British citizens in Britain, it doesn't need to spy on Britain itself. This behaviour suggests wheels within wheels.

You mean to tell me that the US isn't all caught up in the US-UK "Special Relationship" stuff?**

**Most Americans were unaware there even was one and get horribly confused when the British talk about it.

Verizon Wireless Caves To FCC Pressure, Says It Won't Throttle 4G Users

Posted by samzenpus in YRO • View
MetalliQaZ writes Verizon Wireless was scheduled to begin throttling certain LTE users today as part of an expanded "network optimization" program, but has decided not to follow through with the controversial plan after criticism from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler. All major carriers throttle certain users when cell sites get too congested, but Wheeler and consumer advocates objected to how carriers choose which customers to throttle. The fact that Verizon was throttling only unlimited data users showed that it was trying to boost its profits rather than implementing a reasonable network management strategy, Wheeler said.

Throttle, indeed

By Wootery • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Verizon confirms new 'strangulation' policy.

Damnit Wheeler

By Yakasha • Score: 3 • Thread
I want to hate you! Stop being so fucking reasonable!

Study: Compound Found In Beer Boosts Brain Function

Posted by samzenpus in Science • View
An anonymous reader writes Researchers have found that a chemical found in hops may actually improve memory. Unfortunately, a person would need to drink 3,520 pints of beer a day to get a high enough dose of the chemical to boost their brain power. A daunting task for even the most enthusiastic Oktoberfest participant. From the article: "Researchers at Oregon State University discovered that doses of xanthohumol, a flavonoid found in hops, improved memory and thinking in a lucky group of mice. Flavonoids are a class of compounds present in plants, known to have numerous health benefits. Last year, researchers discovered that a flavonoid found in celery and artichokes could potentially fight pancreatic cancer. The researchers treated the mice with dietary supplements of xanthohumol over the course of eight weeks. Their goal was to determine if xanthohumol could affect palmitoylation, a naturally occurring process in animals (including humans) that's associated with memory degradation. The mice then went through a series of tests—including the popular Morris water maze—to gauge whether or not the treatments had improved their spatial memory and cognitive flexibility. For the younger mice in the group, it worked. But on the older mice, unfortunately, the xanthohumol didn't seem to have any effect."

Obligatory XKCD reference

By fwarren • Score: 3 • Thread

The Balmer peek

Re:Obligatory XKCD reference

By nitehawk214 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

I think you want the Balmer Peak. Nobody wants to peek at Balmer.

Might I vary on this meme...

By Mister Liberty • Score: 3 • Thread

Compound found in brain improves beer function.

Challenge accepted

By calmdude • Score: 3 • Thread
One down, 3519 to go...

Thank you Captain Obvious!

By hyades1 • Score: 3 • Thread

It is said that we only make real use of about a tenth of our brain. And it has long been well known that alcohol kills brain cells.

Darwinian natural selection takes care of the rest. The weak brain cells die off, and in due time are flushed from the body. As more and more beer is consumed, more and more weak brain cells die, until the subject is left with a relatively small number of powerful, high-functioning brain cells operating in a cruft-free environment.

And thus, genius is born.

DARPA Technology Could Uncover Counterfeit Microchips

Posted by samzenpus in Technology • View
coondoggie writes The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said this week one of its contractors, working on one of the agency's anti-counterfeit projects has developed and deployed what it calls an Advanced Scanning Optical Microscope that can scan integrated circuits by using an extremely narrow infrared laser beam, to probe microelectronic circuits at nanometer levels, revealing information about chip construction as well as the function of circuits at the transistor level.

This tool needs to hit the market asap.

By Grog6 • Score: 3 • Thread

I have had numerous problems with counterfeit transistors and Zener diodes.

How can you profitably screen thousands of rectifier diodes for their zener point, then grind off the original markings, and mold on new partnumbers??

At $0.003 each?

At least the transistors failed spectacularly. :)

Define "counterfeit"

By retroworks • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Most of the accused "counterfeit" chips I've read about aren't "counterfeit" at all. They are used, secondary market, chips harvested from used boards. The "infamous Guiyu" of China e-waste fame is a hub where workers cut out individual microprocessors and chips from boards and repurpose them. The general term in the industry is "gray market"... gray because it's not purely black market, and because of the difficulty in distinguishing what the illegality is when a Chinese factory has substituted a working used part for an OEM part.

Counterfeiting? Or...?

By blackiner • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
I am no engineer or scientist, but are these precise enough to be used to extract hw encryption keys? Because if so, I think I can guess the real purpose for developing these.

Will Windows 10 Finally Address OS Decay?

Posted by samzenpus in Technology • View
colinneagle (2544914) writes The real question on my mind is whether Windows 10 will finally address a problem that has plagued pretty much every Windows OS since at least 95: the decay of the system over time. As you add and remove apps, as Windows writes more and more temporary and junk files, over time, a system just slows down. I'm sure many of you have had the experience of taking a five-year-old PC, wiping it clean, putting the exact same OS on as it had before, and the PC is reborn, running several times faster than it did before the wipe. It's the same hardware, same OS, but yet it's so fast. This slow degeneration is caused by daily use, apps, device drive congestion (one of the tell-tale signs of a device driver problem is a PC that takes forever to shut down) and also hardware failure. If a disk develops bad sectors, it has to work around them. Even if you try aggressively to maintain your system, eventually it will slow, and very few people aggressively maintain their system. So I wonder if Microsoft has found a solution to this. Windows 8 was supposed to have some good features for maintaining the OS and preventing slowdown. I wouldn't know; like most people, I avoided Windows 8 like the plague. It would be the most welcomed feature of Windows 10 if I never had to do another backup, disk wipe, and reinstall."

Re: Here's the solution

By tom229 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
make uninstall Also compiling from source should rarely be necessary. Most modern distributions will include a ports like system that will allow you to compile source into a fake root, use the information gathered to build a package, and then install the package with your package manager. This ensures everything is cleaned up properly upon package removal. Of course even building a package for the software is probably unnecessary as it's very likely someone has already done it for you. Linux' package management is vastly superior to both Windows and osx (don't you just drag a folder into the garbage can? Give me a break). You just have to know what you're doing.

Re: Here's the solution

By mjwx • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

This means that a WinSxS folder that is 6GB costs around .90 Cents, and uses slightly more than 1 Percent of the drive.

I think you just don't understand what WinSxS is, how it works, and what the problem is that it is designed to address, suggest you start reading a bit more.

The reason the old Sxs assemblies need to be kept, is that installed software may require the usage of an old assembly.

Just because an update has superceded a certain library version, does not mean that all applications that still rely on it should be broken.

When you've got a 19 GB Win SxS folder on a 40 GB HDD (which is plenty for a server and expensive on Tier 0 SSD's) it's a serious issue. 19 GB is not ridiculous, it's not even usual for a 2 yr old server that's been updated regularly. 19 GB across 250 virtual servers is a serious waste of space. Even 6 GB is a massive costs in infrastructure. Not every update needs to keep dozens of updates. Fortunately Microsoft has addressed this problem (as of April this year, so relatively quick in Microsoft time) so that the WinSxS folder can be cleaned up.


By mlts • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The ironic thing is that third party companies have been able to repackage Windows programs so only one file is needed to run it. Not an installer... just an executable that provides a virtual environment for the program, and redirects all file and Registry changes to a specific directory in the user's homedir. A couple examples: VMWare ThinApp or Evalaze.

Yes, it takes a bit to create a clean system (VMs are perfect for this with snapshots), pop a "before" run, install the software, then click that it is done. The result is a single file that takes every single change the installer did, and puts it in a sandbox/partition.

If third party companies can do this, why can't MS extend their virtual redirects (which are used with some legacy applications to redirect stuff that would be stored in Program Files to the user's homedir) to include everything the program does? Container functionality is a core part of some other operating systems (RedHat 7), so why not Windows? That way, uninstallation of a program is just tossing the file it is in.

Sandboxes are not new either. I use sandboxie to ensure that what is in my web browser stays in my web browser and doesn't get out. This isn't a 100% solution since an undocumented MS API call would allow a program to "leak" out, but it is usable.

The problem I have with this...

By roc97007 • Score: 3 • Thread that for Microsoft to create an OS that doesn't slow and become wonky over time removes one of the primary reasons to upgrade to a new version of Windows. Already Microsoft is dealing with Old Windows That Won't Go Away (XP, and now Win7). It is in their best interest for the OS to degrade over time. I can't imagine this obvious cash cow going away. And if so, what replaces it? MSFT tried floating OS as subscription before, and it didn't fly. Unlike the x-box, some phones and their competitor's platforms, Microsoft sells OS's and applications, not hardware. So an OS you can buy once and use forever (or for the life of the hardware) just isn't part of their business model.

So.... what, then?

This is a serious question. I'm a user of MSFT products. Until certain apps get ported to Linux, I'm likely to continue to be a user of MSFT products. But the OS to me has never been the app. It's a program loader and resource manager in which I run the apps that I actually use. I have no interest in new versions of the OS, as long as it'll still run my programs. I was one of the people who didn't leave XP until forced. And I won't leave Win7 until forced. I don't look forward to OS upgrades, I want to get work done. It seems to me that this frame of mind directly contradicts Microsoft's business model of endless costly upgrades. How are endless non-costly upgrades going to work for them? (It certainly works for me, but I don't really believe it yet.)

Re:LOL. You expect MS to fix the problem ...

By Jeremi • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Registry bloat is not a problem, it's clueless users who cannot maintain their system.

In other words, it's a problem. A solution that requires all users to have technical knowledge isn't a solution, it's a fantasy.

Factory IoT Saves Intel $9 Million

Posted by samzenpus in News • View
jfruh writes Want a good way to sell someone a new technology? Prove to them that you believe in it enough to use it yourself. Intel has been trying to get customers to buy into the concept of the "Internet of Things," in which tiny distributed networked sensors would improve manufacturing processes. To prove its point, they implemented such a system in one of their Malaysian factories, and claimed $9 million in savings.

Re:The Internet of Things, aka

By Mr D from 63 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
This is just simple equipment monitoring with networked devices.This has been done for decades. Just a PR puff to get some brand names out.


By sandytaru • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
I RTFA. They didn't go into specifics, but it seems to have been cheap WiFi point communications coupled with thermal sensors. So if a machine was running hotter than expected, they could stop that line and fix the problem before it broke completely and took that line down for a few days. So the "savings" could be what the cost of that line going down previously had been. Or something.

umm. details?

By supernova87a • Score: 3 • Thread
"...CPU tester modules in a semiconductor manufacturing line at the plant were retrofitted with sensors. They then sent data to Mitsubishi Electric C Controller gateway devices powered by Intel Atom chips. After some filtering, the data were then processed using software from Revolution Analytics. Putting the data results into practice resulted in a reduction in component failures, increased equipment uptime and productivity, according to Intel....."

Could someone who actually knows something about what they did write the fucking article please? I have no idea what was improved using this technique by reading these sentences which are the only concrete part of the entire story linked.

Internet of Stupidity

By PopeRatzo • Score: 3 • Thread

This story has pretty much nothing to do with the "Internet of Things" they are trying to sell us.

I seriously doubt that any of the WiFi sensors in Intel's machinery required an account with a third party company which then collected data on how Intel used their machines.

We already have an Internet of Things. It's called, "things".

uh huh...

By Charliemopps • Score: 3 • Thread

I've been through these sales pitches before.
Ok Intel, how much did it COST to install?
Did you factor in that you sent in all of your Intel experts for free? And that you'll charge me $200 per hour just to ask them what kind of outlet to plug this into?
What was the volume of that plant? Is it producing $10million in product? Or $300 million? Scale matters.

$9 million in savings in a large production plants is shit. They have single machines that cost more than that. To take a gamble on a large change like this, the savings need to be insane. Cut my costs in half and it might be worth the risk. Saving $9 million when my costs average $300 million and, yes... that's nice... but its not worth the risk of new tech.

The "Man In the Moon" Was Created By Mega Volcano

Posted by samzenpus in Science • View
astroengine writes Whenever you look up at the near side of the moon, you see a face looking back at you. This is the "Man in the Moon" and it has inspired many questions about how it could have formed. There has been some debate as to how this vast feature — called Oceanus Procellarum, which measures around 1,800 miles wide — was created. But after using gravity data from NASA's twin GRAIL spacecraft, researchers have found compelling evidence that it was formed in the wake of a mega volcanic eruption and not the location of a massive asteroid strike.


By Meshach • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
WIkipedia has an article where they trace it out: Man in the Moon

Not the clearest picture ever but you can see what they are talking about.

Boeing Told To Replace Cockpit Screens Affected By Wi-Fi

Posted by samzenpus in Technology • View
Rambo Tribble writes The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered Boeing to replace Honeywell-built cockpit screens that could be affected by wi-fi transmissions. Additionally, the FAA has expressed concerns that other frequencies, such as used by air surveillance and weather radar, could disrupt the displays. The systems involved report airspeed, altitude, heading and pitch and roll to the crew, and the agency stated that a failure could cause a crash. Meanwhile, the order is said to affect over 1,300 aircraft, and some airlines are balking, since the problem has never been seen in operation, that the order presents "a high, and unnecessary, financial burden on operators".

Faraday Cage / Tempest

By RedLeg • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Seriously, at this point we are worried about EMI to individual avionics components / systems in the cockpit from wi-fi in the cabin?

First, I would hope that the avionics themselves were shielded and tested before deployment and use. I mean, we don't want the altimeter interfering with the artificial horizon, do we? (stupid, simple, but real example)

Second, the whole cockpit and supporting avionics and other fight critical systems are in an enclosed conductive vessel, ie the cockpit and support area. It's a Faraday cage within a larger Faraday cage (the aircraft), so Coulomb's law should apply and mitigate this theoretical threat. Wi-Fi (bluetooth and the rest) should not reach the cockpit and instruments from the cabin unless the cockpit door is open. We all know how often that happens these days....

Polite language: red herring

Otherwise: I call BullShite


Boeing didn't contribute enough campaign donations

By AlienSexist • Score: 3 • Thread
They didn't pay their protection monies. Besides the Aircraft Mechanics Association Union needs work to do.

We've heard this before.

By BarbaraHudson • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

some airlines are balking, since the problem has never been seen in operation, that the order presents "a high, and unnecessary, financial burden on operators".

Several years before 9/11, pilots were asking that the cockpits be made more secure by installing a $200 lock on the pilot's side of the door giving access to the cockpit. Airlines complained that it would be too expensive. So, thanks to the airlines being too cheap to do something that made sense, more than 3,000 people died, and we now have the TSA going where no man has gone before.

Almost completely unrelated...

By lsommerer • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The LED lightbulbs in my house cause interference with my iPhone. It only happens when the phone is too close to the bulbs (less than 2 feet as I recall). I know this isn't really surprising. The thing that struck me as odd was that the interference pattern showed up on photos as well as on the screen. Great Value bulbs caused more interference than G.E. bulbs.


By tlhIngan • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

(Is it really a crash risk? That I don't know.)

Potentially as one of the faults is "Display stops working". Whether that means it goes blank, or stops updating (i.e., frozen) is unclear.

Now, it's one reason why there is redundancy - if one display crashes, the PFD (primary flight display, i.e., flight instruments) can be reverted to the other screen (normally showing navigational information). If THAT doesn't work the PFD can be shown on the central displays (usually showing engine and other information), again, two of each.

And the co-pilot has another pair of displays as well that get their information from a redundant system, so 6 displays in total, which can get their information from two different independent sources.

Oh yeah, there's also basic backup instruments too.

Is it a problem? Yes. Is it fatal? Well, you have to be pretty damn unlucky to get all displays to lock up and the backup instruments as well. So a small chance, especially if the crew is inexperienced.

Obama Administration Argues For Backdoors In Personal Electronics

Posted by samzenpus in Management • View
mi writes Attorney General Eric Holder called it is "worrisome" that tech companies are providing default encryption on consumer electronics, adding that locking authorities out of being able to access the contents of devices puts children at risk. “It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy,” Holder said at a conference on child sexual abuse, according to a text of his prepared remarks. “When a child is in danger, law enforcement needs to be able to take every legally available step to quickly find and protect the child and to stop those that abuse children. It is worrisome to see companies thwarting our ability to do so.”

Re:Update to Godwin's law?

By Wootery • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Not to mention, the Constitution is really more of a guideline, anyway.

I mean, it must be, right?

Re:Update to Godwin's law?

By epyT-R • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Actually there is plenty liberal about them. here's more to your list..

1. Liberal with taking and spending other people's money, taking out massive loans in their name and leaving them and their children with the debt.
2. Liberal with oppressive law, secret watch/black/flight lists, civil rights abridgement (from patriot act to itsonus/dear colleague witchhunts)
3. Liberal with oppressive policies that favor some groups over others based on irrelevant attributes.

Of course, they ruined the word 'liberal.' The correct term for them is 'leftist.' Their goal is to centralize power in the government and force people to keel to their course, and they pander to and inflate single issue social interests to maintain voter interest. They take rights from all, then give back bits and pieces as privilege to some based on those arbitrary attributes they say aren't supposed to matter. The neo-cons counter them just enough to ensure that powerful business interests get their markets guaranteed, though in reality there's plenty of bi partisan lobby donating.

I am plenty safe, thanks. I'd like my freedom and liberty back please.

Re:Update to Godwin's law?

By jae471 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
"Think of the children" Godwin's itself. It's not Reductio ad Hitlerum if Hitler *actually* said it: The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.

Re:Update to Godwin's law?

By Jason Levine • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Of course, if an argument can be made that terrorists will be stopped or children will be protected by doing so, anything goes."



- Your "Friendly" National Government

What if

By sjames • Score: 3 • Thread

What if the information on my phone could be abused to abduct children? What if Chester Molester figures out the back door? Why doesn't the DOJ care about the safety of children?

Japan's Shinkansen Bullet Trains Celebrate 50th Anniversary

Posted by samzenpus in Technology • View
AmiMoJo writes Japan's Shinkansen bullet-train has marked its 50th anniversary. The first Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka debuted on October 1st, 1964, ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Since then, the Shinkansen has run about 2 billion kilometers, or the equivalent of 50,000 times around the earth. It has carried about 5.6 billion passengers. The latest series to enter operation, the E5, operates at 320km/h.


By NoImNotNineVolt • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Shinkansen is awesome. Amazingly smooth, unbelievably fast. I had the pleasure of riding one between Tokyo and Kyoto earlier this year. According to my phone's GPS, I topped out at 173mph (278km/h). It's amazing to me that they've been running for a half century already, while in the States we're nowhere near this level of rail technology, even today.

Also, hai means yes in Japanese. You hear it very frequently there. If someone's on their cell phone, oftentimes all you hear is "Hai! Hai, hai, hai. Hai!" What an agreeble culture!

The average speed has slowed down in Canada

By EmperorOfCanada • Score: 4 • Thread
The average speed of a train in Canada has slowed significantly down from where they were in the 1930's. My family recently took a few trips to a location that is 2.5 hours of driving and the scheduled time for the train is a bit over 3 hours. Each time it is usually around the 4 hour mark and sometimes has exceeded 6. Plus major rail lines are being ripped up and turned into walking trails and the runs are far less frequent on the remaining ones. The areas with the removed train services have sunk into economic stagnation.

You might be thinking that we have a marvellous road system or something but, nope, our potholes have potholes (pictures available) and our most productive fishing and farming areas have a tortuous routes to get to major markets.

This is fairly typical of most of Canada with the exception of a tiny corridor running by the Ottawa area (our federal capital).

Let's put things back into perspective

By remi2402 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Not to sound too pedantic, Shinkansen started out far from 320km/h. In fact, the original "bullet trains" back in 1965 were limited to 210km/h (about 130mph y'all non metric folks). The mighty Penn RR had GG1s pulling trains from NYC to DC at 100mph around the same time. Back in (my beloved old) Europe, SNCF class BB 9200 electric locomotives were pulling 200 km/h (120mph) trains in 1967 on part of the way from Paris to Toulouse; in Germany, Class 110 were pulling express trains at speeds similar to that of the GG1s.

Now, if anything should be remembered from JR of yesteryear was their bet against air and road traffic. It truly was against all odds that JR executives fought for proper rail infrastructure. For a completely new standard-gauge network, that did not exist. Unlike other countries, Japan's high speed standard-gauge network was built from scratch, with connections to the narrow-gauge network being done in the late 90's. This high-speed network has since then been upgraded to 320km/h operations over the past decades. Regardless of top speed, this is what Shinkansen should be remembered for: 20/20 hindsight.

As a Frenchman proud the national TGV network, I tip my hat off the Japanese engineers and executives who envisioned and built the Shinkansen.

iOS Trojan Targets Hong Kong Protestors

Posted by samzenpus in Apple • View
First time accepted submitter Kexel writes Security researchers have claimed to discover the first Apple iOS Trojan attack in a move to thwart the communications of pro-democracy Hong Kong activists. From the article: "The malicious software, known as Xsser, is capable of stealing text messages, photos, call logs, passwords and other data from Apple mobile devices, researchers with Lacoon Mobile Security said on Tuesday. They uncovered the spyware while investigating similar malware for Google Inc's Android operating system last week that also targeted Hong Kong protesters. Anonymous attackers spread the Android spyware via WhatsApp, sending malicious links to download the program, according to Lacoon. It is unclear how iOS devices get infected with Xsser, which is not disguised as an app."

Attention Slashdot Editors

By rabtech • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Is this a story about iOS malware? Then you should require the answer to this question:


The only *interesting* iOS malware story is one that does not require jailbreak. I'm not aware of any; there may be some that use known or unknown exploits, but in this case the malware requires the user to have a jailbroken phone. That's not news or "stuff that matters".

Slashdot Readers

Wow, that was quick.

By baudilus • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Sounds to me like that had this ready to go, even before the protests. I'd imagine that the percentage of jailbroken iOS devices in China markedly outstrips those in the western world, given the political climate and sandboxed internet there. It seems that the government was both aware of the devices and had the gun cocked and ready to fire.

Re:iOS Attack Vector?

By tlhIngan • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

So, the question begging to be asked is whether jailbreaking phones in China by the owner is a common occurrence or if the phones are sold "pre-jailbroken" by a larger agency and able to download and install these hacks at will?

Probably a mix of both, because the #1 reason to jailbreak these days seems to be... pirating software. I mean, the iOS 7.12 jailbreak was done by a bunch of Chinese people to promote... their Chinese app store. Which happens to conveniently be filled with pirated apps. (It was one of the things that led to the original iOS7 exploit to be questioned).

So effectively the users jailbreak to get "free apps" from the Chinese app store that also happens to install malware along with it.

I'm guessing the Chinese store must have a lot of pirated apps, because piracy on iOS is just at a lower level - at least on Android there are entire "daily packs" that contain new and freshly updated paid apps on your favorite torrent site (which can be RSS fed to your torrent client). iOS apps ... not so much. Maybe a fraction and not as convenient to get.

It is called IOS 8.0.1

By • Score: 3, Funny • Thread

IOS 8.0.1 will disrupt cellular communications on an iPhone without the need to root the phone.

It's not a bug, it is a feature.


By koan • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

"Cross-Platform attacks that target both iOS and Android devices are rare, and indicate that this may be conducted by a very large organization or nation state. The fact that this attack is being used against protesters and is being executed by Chinese-speaking attackers suggests it’s first iOS trojan linked to Chinese government cyber activity."

Earth Gets Another Quasi-Moon

Posted by samzenpus in Science • View
The Bad Astronomer writes Astronomers have found a new asteroid, 2014 OL339, that is a quasi-moon of the Earth. Discovered accidentally earlier this year, the 150-meter asteroid has an orbit that is more elliptical than Earth's, but has a period of almost exactly one year. It isn't bound to Earth like a real moon, but displays apparent motion as if it did, making it one of several known quasi-moons.

That's no Moon

By wisnoskij • Score: 3 • Thread
Obligatory quote.

Hmmm ...

By gstoddart • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

2014 OL339 is awkward. It sounds like it needs a proper name.

How about Quasimoondo?

Capture it

By Spy Handler • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

1. bring it into true earth orbit
2. ???
3. Profit!

Re:This sounds familar...

By gstoddart • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Sort of. ;-)

The quasi-moons are more moon-like than planet like, because the quasi-moons orbit planets and quasi-planets orbit the sun, so in that regard they're almost entirely different, except for how they're not. =)

If the quasi-moon orbited the sun it would be quasi-planet, but then it's too small, so then it just becomes another piece of space debris with an orbit around the sun. And then it's probably an asteroid. Unless it's a really big asteroid, then it's kind of like a planet. Or possibly a quasi-planet.

It's all very complicated. :-P

Re:This sounds familar...

By radtea • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Is a quasi-moon like a quasi -planet (i.e., Pluto)?

Nope. Pluto's designation is based on it's size, mostly. The category "planet", like all categories, is made by humans to conveniently describe the universe to ourselves, and the precise boundaries are constrained (but not determined) by how the universe actually is and how we actually are. Within those constraints we can put the boundary where we like, and in the case of planets, smaller bodies that don't dominate their gravitational neighbourhood have been deemed to fall outside the human-created category we use the word "planet" to label.

Quasi-moons are bodies in solar orbits that have interacted with their quasi-primary such that they are "station keeping" with it. A body like this one will wander around in the general vicinity of Earth as both Earth and quasi-moon travel around the sun together. So from the perspective of an observer on Earth, the quasi-moon executes periodic but non-orbital motion: it wanders in a closed configuration that does not describe a path that goes around the Earth.

This is, like many such distinctions, fairly arbitrary: the sun's gravity at the orbit of the Moon is a good deal stronger than the Earth's gravity at the orbit of the Moon, so one could describe the Moon as being in orbit about the sun, with it's orbit perturbed into a wobble by the nearby Earth. That is, from an outside observer's perspective, the Moon's motion is never retrograde with respect to it's mutual orbit with Earth around the sun.

Consider the view:

O o .

where the O is the sun, the o is the Earth and the . is the Moon. In the configuration shown (with the Moon on the outer wobble of its orbit about the Sun) it is moving faster than average (imagine the Earth and Moon both rotation clockwise around the Sun, and the Moon moving clock-wise around the Earth, so when in the image above it is moving "down" on the page).

But in the situation that obtains two weeks later:

O . o

where the Moon on the inner wobble of its orbit about the Sun, it is still moving "down" on the page relative to the Sun even though it is moving "up" on the page from the perspective of an observer on Earth.

Another way to see this is to consider that the Moon executes a wobble like this once a month, traveling 2*pi*0.25 million miles (lunar orbit is about 250 thousand miles), but at the same time moves 2*pi*96/12 million miles in its orbit around the Sun (which is 96 million miles from Earth), and since 96/12 > 0.25 it should be clear that the Moon's orbital velocity around the Sun is higher than it's orbital velocity around the Earth. Ergo: no retrograde motion for the Moon!

All of this is a very long-winded way of saying: how we classify Moons vs quasi-moons is useful, but--as with all the ways we as knowing subjects classify the objectively real universe we live in--somewhat arbitrary. We could--but don't, so far as I know--have a name for the class of moon-like objects that have orbital velocities around their primary that are greater than their orbital velocity around their primary's primary (most Earth-orbiting satellites fall into this category.) Instead, we have a name for objects that don't execute motions relative to their (quasi-)primary that look like a loop around it from the perspective of an observer on the primary's surface.

Back To Faxes: Doctors Can't Exchange Digital Medical Records

Posted by Soulskill in Management • View
nbauman writes: Doctors with one medical records system can't exchange information with systems made by other vendors, including those at their own hospitals, according to the New York Times. One ophthalmologist spent half a million dollars on a system, but still needs to send faxes to get the information where it needs to go. The largest vendor is Epic Systems, Madison, WI, which holds almost half the medical records in the U.S. A report from RAND described Epic as a "closed" platform that made it "challenging and costly" for hospitals to interconnect.

The situation is bad for patients and costly for medical works: if doctors can't exchange records, they'll face a 1% Medicare penalty, and UC Davis alone has a staff of 22 dedicated to communication. On top of that, Epic charges a fee to send data to some non-Epic systems. Congress has held hearings on the matter, and Epic has hired a lobbyist. Epic's founder, billionaire computer science major Judith Faulkner, said that Epic was one of the first to establish code and standards for secure interchange, which included user authentication provisions and a legally binding contract. She said the federal government, which gave $24 billion in incentive payments to doctors for computerization, should have done that. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology said that it was a "top priority" and just recently wrote a 10-year vision statement and agenda for it.

Judith Faulkner

By Trailer Trash • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Ah, yes, Judith Faulkner:

A major donor to the Democratic Party has received favorable treatment from the Obama administration, including a choice appointment to a federal advisory committee, and lavish praise from the president himself.

Yet health information technology vendor Epic Systems Corp. opposes a key administration position on health IT. Its founder, Judith Faulkner, has spoken out on numerous occasions against “interoperability” in electronic medical records technology.

So why was Faulkner appointed to a 13-member panel charged with recommending how $19 billion in stimulus money be spent? One can’t help but notice that Faulkner and other epic employees have given nearly $300,000 to Democrats since 2006.

Read the rest of it.

Health Data Exchange Format?

By Ronin Developer • Score: 3 • Thread

I have read a fair number of the comments posted here. And, the prevailing consensus is that there really isn't a standard when it comes to sharing health data and medical records between EMR systems.

Somebody mentioned HIPAA EDI in a previous post - those standards, however, are for passing information between entities for claims and not medical records. Why are the records themselves not specified in a publicly published format?

When I worked in the public safety software business, we were involved in many data sharing initiatives across the country. Many states had established their own platforms (Ohio and Wisconsin were pretty far along). But, on the federal level, they introduced GJXDM followed by the more comprehensive NIEM (National Information Exchange Model). The states moved towards this standard. While fairly big and deep, it make it fairly easy for NIEM compliant system to share data with one another. And, while the states built their own "free" records management systems, LE wanted their preferred vendors and the platforms with all the bells and whistles to support NIEM. So, we did.

Outside of this arena, we have HR-XML (for use by Human resources and NOT free). But, if you want to play in that game, you join the group and write systems compliant with it. At least there IS a standard.

What is criminal, in my mind, is that health care systems do not have a standard for describing this information. Nor, do they have a secure infrastructure for passing EMR data even if they did. It should have explicitly detailed as a provision in the ACA (aka Obamacare) so that healthcare providers and insurance carriers to interoperate. EMR vendors and insurance carriers should be REQUIRED and their software certified to comply with data interchange standards (which, may need to be formulated).

EPIC is in a position to set the standard. But, they won't because it means other vendors can get in the pool. So, somebody with really deep pockets and altruistic mindset needs to fund the development of a public standard, set the certification standards, and make it happen.

Simple Solution

By PPH • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Change the penalty terms.

if doctors can't exchange records, they'll face a 1% Medicare penalty,

Make that read "If records produced by a medical record system cannot be read by another system, the vendors of the producing and reading systems will face a 1% Medicare penalty".

We could probably get that change legislated by slipping it in a farm subsidy bill someplace.

10 Year Vision Statement

By PPH • Score: 3 • Thread

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology said that it was a "top priority" and just recently wrote a 10-year vision statement and agenda for it.

Sorry. Vision isn't covered by the ACA.

The data input side of EMR is just as bad.

By fhage • Score: 3 • Thread
My wife's a NP in a busy clinic and reports the expensive, commercial software they purchased:
  1. Has no keyboard navigation. Each box on a form must be selected by the mouse.
  2. Has no spell checking or medical or pharmaceutical dictionary.
  3. Has no way to add custom form templates or common phrases. Staff must retype the same thing over and over and over.
  4. Is very slow to respond; everything is done from underpowered PC's running a RDP client logged into overloaded servers in another state.
  5. The entiire system, spanning many offices sometimes becomes totally inaccessible.
  6. On failure, there is no Plan B. Staff resorts to scribbling notes on random scraps of paper and uses those to fill in forms when the system is working again.

In addition, The IT support staff told her that the vendors "super secure" remote access software would only run on a Windows PC. When she's on-call she has to update patient records. Their plan is BYOD, of course. So... she took her old, crappy Vista Netbook in. All they set up was the RDP client, defaulting to their server on the public internet. She clicks the link, Remote Client starts, 2 user/passwords and she gets a 800x600 Windows desktop. It's got a solitary icon which starts the native application. Yup... Super secure. Scrolling, mousing, cursoring and clicking to get to the form elements take more than half her time charting. It was painful to watch.

She prefers to use her Mac laptop, so I set up a Mac RDP client to use their URL and she was able to login. I watched her for a few minutes and noticed that all the controls and text were low contrast and used tiny, fuzzy fonts in the tiny 800x600 window.

I asked her; "Why do you have it configured to be so small with tiny fonts?" "That's the way it's always been. Everyone complains about it at work". Sigh.

I show her how she can expand the desktop by increasing the size of the client window and full-screen the app window to expose more of the forms. "Wow! we didn't know you could do that. That will really help! Critical stuff is always hiding off screen" Control Panel is available so I select a high contrast theme and larger, default fonts. "Wow, now I'll be able to read what's on the charts from my exam stool." Their clinic had lots of training and "experts" on site to help them learn and use the system in the first weeks, so there's no excuse for the poor default configuration they gave them.

I don't understand what has happened to the software industry. We seem to have forgotten the basics and now make the people serve the tools.