A New Spin On 3D Printing Can Produce an Object In Seconds
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
A 3D model is sliced up into hundreds of 2D horizontal layers and slowly built up, one layer at a time. This layer-by-layer process can take hours or even days, but what if we could print the entire model at once? A new technique demonstrated by researchers from Switzerland's Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne (EPFL) -- and further detailed in this Nature article -- does just that and can print an entire model in seconds. The new technique builds a model by hardening a photosensitive resin with a laser, not unlike existing stereolithography (SLA) printers. The big difference here is the application of tomographic techniques, the same used in x-rays and ultrasounds, that allows for rotational printing. Laser light is modulated with a DLP chip (just like in old rear-projection HDTVs) and is blasted into a container full of resin. The laser covers the entire build volume, and the container of resin actually rotates while it's being exposed to the light. The laser projects the model at different rotational perspectives, which is synced up with the spinning resin, and a whole 3D model can be produced in seconds.
The EPFL writes, "The system is currently capable of making two-centimeter structures with a precision of 80 micrometers, about the same as the diameter of a strand of hair. But as the team develops new devices, they should be able to build much bigger objects, potentially up to 15 centimeters." In this first public demonstration, the build volume is 16mm x 16mm x 20mm, making it one of the smallest 3D printers on earth. An 80 um resolution is also nothing to write home about and can be bested by ~$500 consumer SLA printers. It is very fast, though, and the technique is just getting started. The researchers have set up a spin-off company called "Readily 3D" to develop and market the technology.
HQ Trivia, the Once-Popular Mobile Game, Is Shutting Down
CNN Business has learned that the once-popular live mobile trivia game "HQ Trivia"
is shutting down. From the report:
When HQ launched in 2017, its first game HQ Trivia quickly attracted millions of people across the world who stopped whatever they were doing twice a day to play the game on their smartphones. The company was profiled by The New York Times and its original host Scott Rogowsky became a household name, appearing on programs like NBC's "Today" show. But over the next year, the game's popularity faded and its parent company was hit with a series of setbacks. The company grappled with internal turmoil, including the death of HQ cofounder Colin Kroll, who died in December 2018 from a drug overdose.
CEO Rus Yusupov said in a company-wide email on Friday that "lead investors are no longer willing to fund the company, and so effective today, HQ will cease operations and move to dissolution." In the email, which was obtained by CNN Business, Yusupov also disclosed that the company had hired a banker "to help find additional investors and partners to support the expansion of the company." He said the company had "received an offer from an established business" and was expected to close the deal on Saturday, but the potential acquisition fell through.
EU Judge Raises Prospect of Increasing Multibillion Fine Against Google
Alphabet's appeal against a multibillion-dollar fine for alleged anticompetitive behavior by its Google unit risks backfiring after a European Union court
floated the prospect of increasing the fine
(Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), rather than scrapping it. The Wall Street Journal reports:
In a surprise twist Friday at the end of a three-day hearing, one of five judges on the panel said the EU's General Court has the power to increase the $2.6 billion fine, levied in 2017, if it finds that the sum was insufficient to deter the company from further anticompetitive behavior. "The fine of ~$2.6 billion was described as eye-catching, but it is a small amount of cash in your hands," Judge Colm Mac Eochaidh said in court. "Did that level of fine deter you from repeating your behavior?" he asked Google's counsel. Increasing a fine has only one precedent in the court's history, according to Mr. Mac Eochaidh, when German chemicals giant BASF SE was ordered to pay ~$58,000 in 2007 on top of an initial ~$38 million fine for participating in a chemicals cartel.
Christopher Thomas, a counsel for Google, dismissed the idea that the fine was warranted and said the company takes the entire antitrust process "with extreme seriousness." Google disputes the findings of the commission that it had willingly or negligently squeezed competitors out of its shopping searches. The prospect of raising the fine was described as theoretical by the panel's presiding judge. Still, it sent Google lawyers scrambling for arguments, with one sitting on the floor outside the courtroom frantically researching how to contest such a move. If Google loses the case, it has the right to appeal to the bloc's highest court, the European Court of Justice.
Signal Is Finally Bringing Its Secure Messaging To the Masses
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired:
[Cryptographer and coder known as Moxie Marlinspike] has always talked about making encrypted communications easy enough for anyone to use. The difference, today, is that Signal is finally reaching that mass audience it was always been intended for -- not just the privacy diehards, activists, and cybersecurity nerds that formed its core user base for years -- thanks in part to a concerted effort to make the app more accessible and appealing to the mainstream. That new phase in Signal's evolution began two years ago this month. That's when WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton, a few months removed from leaving the app he built amid post-acquisition clashes with Facebook management, injected $50 million into Marlinspike's end-to-end encrypted messaging project. Acton also joined the newly created Signal Foundation as executive chairman. The pairing up made sense; WhatsApp had used Signal's open source protocol to encrypt all WhatsApp communications end-to-end by default, and Acton had grown disaffected with what he saw as Facebook's attempts to erode WhatsApp's privacy.
Since then, Marlinspike's nonprofit has put Acton's millions -- and his experience building an app with billions of users -- to work. After years of scraping by with just three overworked full-time staffers, the Signal Foundation now has 20 employees. For years a bare-bones texting and calling app, Signal has increasingly become a fully featured, mainstream communications platform. With its new coding muscle, it has rolled out features at a breakneck speed: In just the last three months, Signal has added support for iPad, ephemeral images and video designed to disappear after a single viewing, downloadable customizable "stickers," and emoji reactions. More significantly, it announced plans to roll out a new system for group messaging, and an experimental method for storing encrypted contacts in the cloud. Many of those features might sound trivial. They certainly aren't the sort that appealed to Signal's earliest core users. Instead, they're what Acton calls "enrichment features." They're designed to attract normal people who want a messaging app as multifunctional as WhatsApp, iMessage, or Facebook Messenger but still value Signal's widely trusted security and the fact that it collects virtually no user data. Wired explains how adding simple-sounding enhancements can require significant feats of security engineering to fit within Signal's privacy constraints. Adding downloadable customizable stickers, for example, "required designing a system where every sticker 'pack' is encrypted with a 'pack key,'" reports Wired. "That key is itself encrypted and shared from one user to another when someone wants to install new stickers on their phone, so that Signal's server can never see decrypted stickers or even identify the Signal user who created or sent them."
For Signal's new group messaging, Signal partnered with Microsoft Research to invent a novel form of "anonymous credentials" that let a server gatekeep who belongs in a group, but without ever learning the members' identities.
Jaguar To Cut I-Pace Output On Battery Shortage
Thelasko shares a report from Automotive News Europe:
Jaguar Land Rover is pausing production of the Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV due to battery supply issues from LG Chem's Poland plant. JLR said it has adjusted production schedules of the model due to temporary supplier scheduling issues. "We are working with the supplier to resolve this and minimize impact on customer orders," JLR said. JLR did not name the supplier [A source familiar with the matter told Automotive News Europe that the battery supplier is LG Chem]. It also did not say when the production pause would start. The I-Pace is a rival to the Tesla Model X, featuring a large 90kWh battery and a range of about 377 km (234 miles). According to The Times newspaper, production of the I-Pace will stop for a week starting on Monday, Feb. 17.
Tesla Owner Says Remotely Disabled Autopilot Features Have Been Restored
restored the Autopilot driver assistance features it remotely disabled on a Model S, just days after the story was
first reported by Jalopnik. The owner in question, who
Jalopnik refers to as Alec, said he was contacted by a Tesla customer experience rep who "apologized for my troubles, told me that Tesla has restored all missed options" and "cited a miscommunication" as the reason why the company pulled the Autopilot features in the first place. The Verge reports:
Alec had purchased the used 2017 Model S in December from a third-party dealer that acquired the car from Tesla at auction in November. The original owner had equipped the car with the (now-retired) "Enhanced Autopilot" version of Tesla's driver assistance package and the company's "Full Self-Driving" package, which promises increased autonomy over the years. Three days after Tesla sold the car to the dealer, Tesla performed a "remote audit" that flagged those features for removal, according to Jalopnik. Even then, the features were never removed, and the dealer posted the car for sale with both Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving featured on the car's Monroney sticker -- meaning Alec paid for a car with those features.
But when Alec took the car to a Tesla service center a few weeks after his purchase, he was told that the features were removed. Tesla has removed features from used cars in the past, but typically does so before the car is sold off to a third-party dealer or a new owner. Since Tesla pulled these features both after it sold the car to the dealer, and after that dealer sold it to Alec, it caused some fear that the company was setting a precedent for yanking features on a whim.
Facebook Says Political Candidates Can Use Paid Memes
Facebook said Friday that political candidates, campaigns and groups
can use paid branded content across its platforms, a clarification prompted by a move from Michael Bloomberg's campaign to pay top Instagram influencers to post memes on its behalf. Axios reports:
Its policy didn't explicitly state that it was OK for candidates to use branded content posts, but after hearing from various campaigns about the issue, Facebook moved to clarify its stance. Facebook has agreed that branded content should be allowed to be used by candidates, as long as the candidates are authorized and the creators disclose paid partnerships through branded content tools, according to a spokesperson.
Facebook previously prohibited political candidates and campaigns from running branded content by default because it wanted to avoid any risk that such actions could be viewed as accounts giving monetary contributions to campaigns. It's tweaking its approach now -- only in the U.S. -- because it believes that this is no longer a concern, given that it doesn't provide payments as a feature of its branded content tools. If a campaign were to buy ads to boost its branded content, then it would be subject to Facebook's advertising policies. That paid promotion would then need to be included in Facebook public, searchable political ad library for seven years.
A Radio Frequency Exposure Test Finds an iPhone 11 Pro Exceeds the FCC's Limit
An anonymous reader quotes a report from IEEE Spectrum:
A test by Penumbra Brands to measure how much radiofrequency energy an iPhone 11 Pro gives off found that the phone emits more than twice the amount allowable by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. The FCC measures exposure to RF energy as the amount of wireless power a person absorbs for each kilogram of their body. The agency calls this the specific absorption rate, or SAR. For a cellphone, the FCC's threshold of safe exposure is 1.6 watts per kilogram. Penumbra's test found that an iPhone 11 Pro emitted 3.8 W/kg.
Ryan McCaughey, Penumbra's chief technology officer, said the test was a follow up to an investigation conducted by the Chicago Tribune last year. The Tribune tested several generations of Apple, Samsung, and Motorola phones, and found that many exceeded the FCC's limit. Penumbra used RF Exposure Labs, an independent, accredited SAR testing lab for the tests (The Tribune also used the San Diego-based lab for its investigation). Penumbra was conducting the test, which also included testing an iPhone 7, to study its Alara phone cases, which the company says are designed to reduce RF exposure in a person. It's worth noting that when the FCC conducted a follow-up investigation they did not find evidence that any of the phones exceed SAR limits. "That said, while the Tribune and Penumbra both used off-the-shelf phones, the FCC largely tested phones supplied by the manufacturers, including Apple," adds IEEE Spectrum.
Joel Moskowitz, a researcher at UC Berkeley, says that could be because there's a systematic problem with RF Exposure Lab's testing methods, or Apple rigged the software in the provided test phones to ensure they didn't put out enough power to exceed the SAR limit. Either way, both McCaughey and Moskowitz agree that the FCC's RF exposure testing is woefully out of date, as the limits reflect what the FCC deemed safe 25 years ago.
Online-only Platforms Are Going Offline With Permanent Spaces
An anonymous reader shares a report:
The retailpocalypse started in 2010. It followed the 2008 global recession, with the parallel birth and rise of social media adding fuel to the growth of online shopping. Suburban and rural malls sat empty, underutilized or poorly maintained as the most affected brands lost their customer base in the squeezed middle class. Meanwhile, online retailers thrived without the overhead costs of a physical space. Nearly a decade later, the online-only platforms that disrupted retail are choosing to pay rent as an additional, unnecessary expense. There are items available for purchase in each space, but the stores' ultimate goal is to offer a tangible experience offline to their users or consumers.
Hunker describes itself as an editorial website to help "first-timers improve their homes -- with inspiring tours, practical solutions and design advice for real people." Shopify is an all-in-one commerce platform where users can start and run an online business, facilitating 820,000 online stores since June 2019. Depop calls itself "the creative community's marketplace" and projects that its existing user base will increase threefold over the next three years, from 5 million to 15 million users. In the last two years, each company has added a physical space that isn't exactly a store and isn't really an office, though they definitely borrow aspects of each. Hunker's space, known as Hunker House, is a three-story loft in the Abbot-Kinney neighborhood of Venice, CA. Shopify opened a 1,600 square foot location in downtown Los Angeles' The Row, and Depop's two community spots are in Little Italy, Manhattan, and Silver Lake, LA.
Inside the Pentagon's Secret UFO Program
Newly leaked documents show that the
Department of Defense funded a study concerning UFOs, contradicting recent statements by the Pentagon. From a report:
In 2017, The New York Times revealed the existence of $22 million dollar UFO investigation program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or AATIP. A twist came two months ago, however, when Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough told John Greenewald -- curator of the Black Vault, the largest civilian archive of declassified government documents -- that AATIP had nothing to do with UFOs. Greenewald also wrote that the Pentagon told him that another program, the Advanced Aerospace Weapons System Application Program or AAWSAP, was the name of the contract that the government gave out to produce reports under AATIP. In a new Popular Mechanics article, journalist Tim McMillan acquired documents from Bigelow Aerospace's exotic science division, Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies, or BAASS, indicating that the organization did explore strange phenomena under the auspices of the AATIP program.
One BAASS report, leaked to McMillan by an unnamed source, previously appeared on a list of products produced under the AATIP contract "for DIA to publish" that was obtained via FOIA laws. The report was cited incorrectly on that list, but Popular Mechanics tracked down its author, who confirmed its authenticity. The report investigated "exotic" propulsion via injuries sustained by people who experienced "exposure to anomalous vehicles." The text mentions UFOs several times. "What can not be overly emphasized, is that when one looks at the literature of anomalous cases, including UFO claims from the most reliable sources, the extent and degree of acute high but not necessarily chronic low-level injuries are consistent across patients who are injured, compared to witnesses in the far-field, who are not," the report states. Notably, the report's author -- Christopher "Kit" Green -- told Popular Mechanics that he was not contracted by BAASS except to produce this report and that it provides zero evidence for extraterrestrial or non-human technologies.
Navy Confirms It Has a Secret Classified Video of an Infamous UFO Incident, Says Releasing It Would Threaten National Security.
YouTube Says it Paid the Music Industry More Than $3 Billion Last Year
YouTube says it paid the music industry
more than $3 billion last year. "YouTube offers twin engines for revenue with advertising and subscribers, paying out more than $3 billion to the music industry last year from ads and subscriptions," YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki
wrote in a blog post Friday. From a report:
The latest figure hints at how much of the Alphabet-owned company's ad revenue goes back to music industry and creators. The data has been largely unknown to investors who have wondered how much money the company is actually pocketing at the end of the day.
US Cyber Command, DHS, and FBI Expose New North Korean Malware
US Cyber Command, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations have exposed today a new North Korean hacking operation. Authorities have published security advisories
detailing six new malware families that are currently being used by North Korean hackers. From a report:
According to the Twitter account of the Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF), a subordinate unit of US Cyber Command, the malware is being distributed via a North Korean phishing campaign. US Cyber Command believes the malware is used to provide North Korean hackers with remote access to infected systems in order to steal funds that are later transfered back to North Korea, as a way to avoid economical sanctions. The North Korean government has a long history of using hackers to steal funds from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges in order to evade economic sanctions and raise funds for its nuclear weapons and missile programs. In September 2019, the US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on the Pyongyang regime for the use of this exact tactic.
An Anonymous Group Claims it Took DNA From Global Elites -- And is Auctioning It Off
An anonymous organization called the Earnest Project is
offering the chance to own DNA samples of a handful of world leaders and celebrities. The group claims it has surreptitiously collected items discarded by attendees of the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that may contain their DNA. President Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Elton John all attended the conference. From a report:
The group has compiled these artifacts -- napkins, paper coffee cups, a glass parfait jar, cigarette butts, and other items -- in an online catalog it calls the "Davos Collection." Each has an estimated dollar value: A strand of human hair is listed at $1,200 to $3,000. A used breakfast fork has an estimated worth up to $36,500. And a wine glass is valued at up to $65,000. None of the items are identified with names, but it's assumed they come from the leaders or celebrities at the forum. The Earnest Project is planning to auction off the items to raise awareness about "surveillance capitalism," the practice of monetizing people's personal data. They fear that our genetic data could eventually end up in the hands of tech companies like Facebook and Google, which already harvest a lot of personal data.
"By collecting and selling vital and sensitive data harvested from the most powerful people on the planet, we hope to encourage a visceral reaction against surveillance capitalism among the elite," the Earnest Project told OneZero in an email. "We're all constantly depositing our DNA around us and on discarded items. Once you start paying attention, it's really quite easy to collect a target's DNA." Now that genetic testing is getting cheaper and companies are developing hand-held DNA sequencing devices, it's no longer a far-off possibility that someone could take your DNA, get it analyzed, and use it against you for blackmail, extortion, or discrimination. The Earnest Project had planned to hold the auction in New York on February 20 but is postponing the sale due to "unresolved legal issues," according to a statement emailed to OneZero.
Plastic Surgery Images and Invoices Leak From Unsecured Database
Thousands of images, videos and records
pertaining to plastic surgery patients were left on an unsecured database where they could be viewed by anyone with the right IP address, researchers said Friday. From a report:
The data included about 900,000 records, which researchers say could belong to thousands of different patients. The data was generated at clinics around the world using software made by French imaging company NextMotion. Images in the database included before-and-after photos of cosmetic procedures. Those photos often contained nudity, the researchers said. Other records included images of invoices that contained information that would identify a patient. The database is now secured. Researchers Noam Rotem and Ran Locar found the exposed database. They published their research with vpnMonitor, a security website. Rotem said he sees exposed health care databases all too often as part of his web-mapping project, which looks for exposed data. "The state of privacy protection, especially in health care, is really abysmal," Rotem said.
'Pale Blue Dot' Revisited
shares a report:
For the 30th anniversary of one of the most iconic views from the Voyager mission, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is publishing a new version of the image known as the "Pale Blue Dot." The updated image uses modern image-processing software and techniques while respecting the intent of those who planned the image. Like the original, the new color view shows Planet Earth as a single, bright blue pixel in the vastness of space. Rays of sunlight scattered within the camera optics stretch across the scene, one of which happens to have intersected dramatically with Earth.
The view was obtained on Feb. 14, 1990, just minutes before Voyager 1's cameras were intentionally powered off to conserve power and because the probe -- along with its sibling, Voyager 2 -- would not make close flybys of any other objects during their lifetimes. Shutting down instruments and other systems on the two Voyager spacecraft has been a gradual and ongoing process that has helped enable their longevity. This celebrated Voyager 1 view was part of a series of 60 images designed to produce what the mission called the "Family Portrait of the Solar System." This sequence of camera-pointing commands returned images of six of the solar system's planets, as well as the Sun. The Pale Blue Dot view was created using the color images Voyager took of Earth. Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco
shared the story behind the idea of Pale Blue Dot picture on Neil deGrasse Tyson's video podcast "Star Talk" last year. It's fascinating -- watch from 51:05 seconds and hang around for 13 minutes. Also the famous video where
Carl Sagan describes the Pale Blue Dot. An
interview he did on the subject later.
Popular Preprint Servers Face Closure Because of Money Troubles
The rise of preprint repositories has helped scientists worldwide to share results and get feedback quickly. But several platforms that serve researchers in emerging economies are
struggling to raise money to stay afloat. One, which hosts research from Indonesia, has decided to close because of this funding shortfall. From a report:
INA-Rxiv, which was set up in 2017, was one of the first repositories to host studies from a particular region. Previous platforms served specific disciplines: for example, arXiv, the original preprint repository, hosts physical-sciences research, and bioRxiv is a popular repository for biology studies. Other region or language-specific repositories followed, including ArabiXiv, which hosts Arabic-language research; AfricArxiv and IndiaRxiv. Managers of these repositories say they increase exposure for research from the regions, and facilitate collaborations. INA-Rxiv, ArabiXiv, AfricArxiv and IndiaRxiv are run by volunteers around the world, but the servers are hosted online by the non-profit Center for Open Science (COS), based in Charlottesville, Virginia. The centre's platform hosts 26 repositories, including more than a dozen that are discipline-specific. In December 2018, the COS informed repository managers that from 2020, it would be introducing fees, charged to repository managers, to cover maintenance costs. The charges, which were finalized last December, start at about US$1,000 a year, and increase as repositories' annual submissions grow. The costs can be significant, particularly for repositories run by volunteers in emerging economies.
Data from Spotify Suggest That Listeners Are Gloomiest in February
Around the world, the
most popular tunes this month will be depressing ones
[Editor's note: the link may be paywalled.]. From a report:
Residents of the northern hemisphere might think that their moods are worst in January. Christmas is over, the nights are long and summer is a distant prospect. Newspapers often claim that "Blue Monday," in the third week of January, is the most depressing day. To create a quantitative measure of seasonal misery, The Economist has analysed music consumption. Our calculations use data from Spotify, which offers 50m tracks to 270m users in over 70 countries, mostly in Europe and the Americas. The firm has an algorithm that classifies a song's "valence," or how happy it sounds, on a scale from 0 to 100. The algorithm is trained on ratings of positivity by musical experts, and gives Aretha Franklin's soaring "Respect" a score of 97; Radiohead's gloomy "Creep" gets just 10.
Since 2017 Spotify has also published daily tables of the 200 most-streamed songs, both worldwide and in each country. We gathered data for 30 countries around the globe, including 46,000 unique tracks with 330bn streams, to identify the annual nadir of musical mood. Drum roll, please. The global top 200 songs are gloomiest in February, when their valence is 4% lower than the annual average. In July, the perkiest month, the mood is 3% higher. The most joyful spike comes at Christmas. Strikingly, this February slump occurs in some countries near the equator, such as Singapore, and far south of it, such as Australia -- even though their musical tastes differ. A few Latin American countries lack such a dip, perhaps because the algorithm sees Latin music as mostly happy. The icy north shows the biggest seasonal swings. Finland's mood in July is 11% happier than usual. Overall, on days when a country gets one more hour of sunlight than its annual average, the valence of its streams increases by 0.6%. In contrast, wet days bring particularly downcast tunes.
UK Police Deny Responsibility For Poster Urging Parents To Report Kids For Using Kali Linux
The UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) has publicly said it has nothing to do with a
misleading poster designed to put fear into the hearts of parents and urge them to call the police if their children are using Kali Linux. From a report:
The poster, made public by Twitter user @G_IW, has reportedly been distributed by local authorities on behalf of the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit (WMROCU). It appears the creators of the poster are aiming to inform parents of what dubious software to look out for if they suspect their children are up to no good on the computer. While a good and reasonable intention, the disinformation on the poster, as described by @G_IW, is "staggering." Virtual machines, the Tor Browser, Kali Linux, WiFi Pineapple, Discord, and Metasploit are all deemed terrible finds and the poster urges parents to call the cops "so we can give advice and engage them into positive diversions."
Sony Is Struggling With PlayStation 5 Price Due To Costly Parts
Scarce components have
pushed the manufacturing costs for Sony's next PlayStation to around $450 per unit, forcing a difficult price-setting decision in its battle with Microsoft,
Bloomberg reported Friday, citing sources. From the report:
The Japanese conglomerate is preparing to gradually replace the six-year-old PS4 console, releasing its PlayStation 5 the same holiday season its archrival debuts the upcoming Xbox Series X. Sony typically finalizes a console's price in February of the release year, followed by mass production in the spring. With the PS5, the company is taking a wait-and-see approach, said the people, asking not to be named because the details are private. The PS4, released in 2013 at a retail price of $399, was estimated by IHS Markit to cost $381 to manufacture. With the $450 unit cost and a similar gross margin, the PlayStation 5's retail price would have to be at least $470. That would be a hard sell to consumers, considering Sony's most expensive machine now is the $399.99 PS4 Pro and is often discounted, according to Macquarie Capital analyst Damian Thong.
The 40th Root KSK Ceremony Rescheduled
The 40th Root Key Signing Key Ceremony, originally scheduled for 12 February 2020 at 2100 UTC in El Segundo, California, is being postponed. "During routine administrative maintenance of our Key Management Facility on 11 February, we identified an equipment malfunction that will prevent us from successfully conducting the ceremony as originally scheduled. The issue disables access to one of the secure safes that contains material for the ceremony," ICANN's Kim Davies wrote.
Developer Finds USB Chargers Have as Much Processing Power as the Apollo 11 Guidance Computers
An anonymous reader shares a report:
It comes as no surprise that the guidance computers aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft were impossibly primitive compared to the pocket computers we all carry around 50 years later. But on his website, an Apple developer analyzed the tech specs even further and found that even something as simple as a modern USB charger is packed with more processing power. Forrest Heller, a software developer who formerly worked on Occipital's Structure 3D scanner accessory for mobile devices, but who now works for Apple, broke down the numbers when it comes to the processing power, memory, and storage capacity of Google's 18W Pixel charger, Huawei's 40W SuperCharge, the Anker PowerPort Atom PD 2 charger, and the Apollo 11 guidance computer, also referred to as the AGC. It's not easy to directly compare those modern devices with the 50-year-old AGC, which was custom developed by NASA for controlling and automating the guidance and navigation systems aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft.
In a time when computers were the size of giant rooms, the AGC was contained in a box just a few feet in length because it was one of the first computers to be made with integrated circuits. Instead of plopping in an off the shelf processor, NASA's engineers designed and built the AGC with somewhere around 5,600 electronic gates that were capable of performing nearly 40,000 simple mathematical calculations every second. While we measure processor speeds in gigahertz these days, the AGC chugged along at 1.024 MHz. By comparison, the Anker PowerPort Atom PD 2 USB-C charger includes a Cypress CYPD4225 processor running at 48 MHz with the twice the RAM of the AGC, and almost twice the storage space for software instructions.
Nevada Democrats To Use iPads Loaded With Google Forms To Track Caucus
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET:
Nevada's Democratic Party said Thursday it plans to use iPads loaded with survey app Google Forms to calculate voting results in next week's caucuses. The system is an effort to avoid a repeat of the Iowa caucus chaos. The app will be loaded onto 2,000 iPads purchased by the party and distributed to precinct chairs, according to a memo signed by party Executive Director Alana Mounce seen by the Associated Press Thursday. Google's app will calculate and submit results electronically, while a second step will rely on submissions also being made by phone. Nevada's caucuses will be held on Feb. 22.
Ohio Man Arrested For Running Bitcoin Mixing Service That Laundered $300 Million
U.S. authorities have
arrested Larry Harmon of Akron, Ohio, for running a "Bitcoin mixer" service on the dark web that helped criminals disguise the origin of Bitcoin transactions. Harmon is "accused in a
three-count indictment (PDF) for operating Helix, an online website located on the dark web," reports ZDNet. It is the first case the DOJ has brought against a Bitcoin mixer. From the report:
Helix functioned as a Bitcoin mixer (Bitcoin tumbler), a type of service that takes funds from a user, split the sum into small parts, and using thousands of transactions, sends and reassembles the original funds at a new Bitcoin address, in an effort to hide the original funds under a cloud of micro-transactions. "The sole purpose of Harmon's operation was to conceal criminal transactions from law enforcement on the Darknet, and because of our growing expertise in this area, he could not make good on that promise," Don Fort, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation, said today in a DOJ press release. "Working in tandem with other sites, he sought to be the 'go-to' money launderer on the Darknet, but our investigators once again played the role of criminal disrupters, unraveling the interlinked web from one tentacle to another," Fort said.
According to DOJ documents, Harmon ran Helix as a secondary project attached to his primary service called Grams, a search engine that aggregated listings from multiple dark web drugs-related marketplaces. Grams allowed users to search for drugs and find the cheapest offers in their areas. Helix was provided as a way for potential buyers to hide their identity when buying products. The DOJ says Harmon operated Helix since 2014 and helped launder more than 350,000 bitcoins, valued at around $300 million at the time of their transactions -- valued $3.5 billion today. Investigators say that as the service grew, Harmon also partnered with other dark web services. According to the indictment, Harmon joined forces with AlphaBay, the biggest dark web marketplace for illegal products at the time, with AlphaBay recommending Helix to its users as a safe Bitcoin tumbling option.
Scientists Observe Potentially Hazardous Asteroid Buzz Past Earth With Its Own Moon
Meghan Bartels writes via Space.com:
One of Earth's premier instruments for studying nearby asteroids is back to work after being rattled by earthquakes, and its first new observations show that a newly discovered space rock is actually two separate asteroids. The instrument is the planetary radar system at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The observatory was closed for most of January, after a series of earthquakes hit the island beginning on Dec. 28, 2019. The observatory reopened on Jan. 29. Meanwhile, on Jan. 27, scientists using a telescope on Mauna Loa in Hawaii spotted an asteroid that astronomers hadn't seen before. The team dubbed the newfound space rock 2020 BX12 based on a formula recognizing its discovery date.
Because of the size of 2020 BX12 and the way its orbit approaches that of Earth, it is designated a potentially hazardous asteroid. However, the space rock has already come as close to Earth as it will during this pass (2.7 million miles or 4.3 million kilometers); astronomers have calculated the asteroid's close approaches with Earth for the next century, and all will be at a greater distance than this one was. [...] Based on the observations, the scientists discovered that 2020 BX12 is a binary asteroid, with a smaller rock orbiting the larger rock. About 15% of larger asteroids turn out, on closer inspection, to be binary, according to NASA. The larger rock is likely at least 540 feet (165 meters) across, and the smaller one is about 230 feet (70 m) wide, according to the observations gathered by Arecibo. When the instrument observed the two space rocks on Feb. 5, they appeared to be separated by about 1,200 feet (360 m).