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Understanding the Antikythera Mechanism ( 72

szczys writes: We attribute great thinking to ancient Greece. This is exemplified by the Antikythera Mechanism. Fragments of the mechanism were found in a shipwreck first discovered in 1900 and visited by researchers several times over the next century. It is believed to be a method of tracking the calendar and is the first known example of what are now common-yet-complicated engineering mechanisms like the differential gear. A few working reproductions have been produced and make it clear that whomever designed this had an advanced understanding of complex gear ratios and their ability to track the passage of time and celestial bodies. Last year research by two scientists suggested that the device might be much older than previously thought.

Sabotage Blacks Out Millions In Crimea 140 writes: In a preview of what the U.S. may one day face with cyberattacks on the U.S. power grid, Ivan Nechepurenko reports at the NY Times that power lines in southern Ukraine that supply Crimea have been knocked down by saboteurs, leaving millions without electricity. Four local power plants, including two nuclear ones, scaled back production because they had no means to distribute electricity. More than 1.6 million people still lacked power on Monday morning, Russia's Energy Ministry said in a statement. Local power plants in Crimea, as well as backup generators, were being used to provide power to hospitals, schools and other vital facilities. The Crimean authorities declared Monday a day off for non-government workers and declared a state of emergency, which can last as long as one month.

It was not immediately clear who destroyed the main electric pylons on Friday and Sunday, but the blasted-away stump of at least one tower near the demonstrators was wrapped in the distinctive blue Crimean Tatar flag with a yellow trident in the upper left-hand corner. Tatar activists blockaded the site, saying they would prevent repairs until Russia released political prisoners and allowed international organizations to monitor human rights in Crimea. The activists claim that the 300,000-member minority has faced systematic repression since Russia annexed the peninsula in March 2014. In the meantime Russia is building an "energy bridge" to Crimea that officials hope will supply most of the peninsula's need and its first phase will begin operating by the end of this year.

Defending the power grid in the United States is challenging from an organizational point of view. There are about 3,200 utilities, all of which operate a portion of the electricity grid, but most of these individual networks are interconnected. The latest version of The Department of Defense's Cyber Strategy has as its third strategic goal, "Be prepared to defend the U.S. homeland and U.S. vital interests from disruptive or destructive cyberattacks of significant consequence."

Australian State Bans Possession of Blueprints For 3D Printing Firearms ( 300

angry tapir writes: Possessing files that can be used to 3D print firearms will soon be illegal in the Australian state of New South Wales after new legislation, passed last week by state parliament, comes into effect. Possessing files for 3D printing guns will be punishable by up to 14 years in prison. The provisions "are targeted at criminals who think they can steal or modify firearms or manufacture firearms from 3D blueprints," NSW's justice minister, Troy Grant, said when introducing the bill in the state's lower house on 27 October. "Those who think they can skirt the law will find themselves facing some of the toughest penalties for firearms offences in this country," Grant said.

Intel Broadwell-E, Apollo Lake, and Kaby Lake Details Emerge In Leaked Roadmap 112

bigwophh writes: In Q4 2016, Intel will release a follow up to its Skylake processors named Kaby Lake, which will mark yet another 14nm release that's a bit odd, for a couple of reasons. The big one is the fact that this chip mayn not have appeared had Intel's schedule kept on track. Originally, Cannonlake was set to succeed Skylake, but Cannonlake will instead launch in 2017. That makes Kaby Lake neither a tick nor tock in Intel's release cadence. When released, Kaby Lake will add native USB 3.1 and HDCP 2.2 support. It's uncertain whether these chips will fit into current Z170-based motherboards, but considering the fact that there's also a brand-new chipset on the way, we're not too confident of it. However, the so-called Intel 200 series chipsets will be backwards-compatible with Skylake. It also appears that Intel will be releasing Apollo Lake as early as the late spring, which will replace Braswell, the lowest-powered chips Intel's lineup destined for smartphones.
XBox (Games)

Ask Slashdot: Xbox One Or PlayStation 4? 368

An anonymous reader writes: I'm looking at getting the kids a new gaming console for Christmas this year. I'm stuck trying to decide between getting an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4. I'm really wary on the PlayStation because of the 5 PS2s with broken optical drives sitting in my garage; none lasted more than two years. On the other hand, I'm also wary of buying a Microsoft product; I'm a Linux user for life after getting tired of their crappy operating system. I've also considered getting a gaming PC, whether Linux or Windows, but it's more expensive and game reviews show most are not as good as a dedicated game console. The kids want Fallout 4, and I want Star Wars Battlefront and any version of Gran Turismo. We currently have a Nintendo Wii and a crappy gaming PC with some Steam games. So, which gaming console should I get that will last a long time?

TrueCrypt Safer Than Previously Thought ( 42

An anonymous reader writes: Back in September, members of Google's Project Zero team found a pair of flaws in the TrueCrypt disk encryption software that could lead to a system compromise. Their discovery raised concerns that TrueCrypt was unsuitable for use in securing sensitive data. However, the Fraunhofer Institute went ahead with a full audit of TrueCrypt's code, and they found it to be more secure than most people think. They correctly point out that for an attacker to exploit the earlier vulnerabilities (and a couple more vulnerabilities they found themselves), the attacker would already need to have "far-reaching access to the system," with which they could do far worse things than exploit an obscure vulnerability.

The auditors say, "It does not seem apparent to many people that TrueCrypt is inherently not suitable to protect encrypted data against attackers who can repeatedly access the running system. This is because when a TrueCrypt volume is mounted its data is generally accessible through the file system, and with repeated access one can install key loggers etc. to get hold of the key material in many situations. Only when unmounted, and no key is kept in memory, can a TrueCrypt volume really be secure." For other uses, the software "does what it's designed for," despite its code flaws. Their detailed, 77-page report (PDF) goes into further detail.


600,000 Arris Cable Modems Have 'Backdoors In Backdoors,' Researcher Claims ( 76

An anonymous reader writes: A security researcher using Shodan to probe Arris cable modems for vulnerabilities has found that 600,000 of the company's modems not only have a backdoor, but that the backdoor itself has an extra backdoor. Brazilian vulnerability tester Bernardo Rodrigues posted that he found undocumented libraries in three models, initially leading to a backdoor that uses an admin password disclosed back in 2009. Brazilian researcher Bernardo Rodrigues notes that the secondary backdoor has a password derived in part from the final five digits from the modem's serial number. However, the default 'root' password for the affected models remains 'arris.'
Hardware Hacking

Hands-On With the Voltera V-One PCB Printer ( 37

szczys writes: Eric Evenchick was one of the first backers of the Voltera V-One PCB Printer and just received the 6th device shipped so far. He ran it through its paces and published a review that gives it a positive rating. The hardware uses conductive ink to print traces on FR4 substrate. The board is then flipped upside down and the traces baked on the machine to make them robust. Next the printer dispenses solder paste and the same heating method is used to reflow after components are placed by hand.

French ITER Fusion Project To Take At Least 6 Years Longer Than Planned ( 193

sciencehabit writes: The multibillion dollar ITER fusion project under construction in France will take at least an additional 6 years to complete, compared with the current schedule, a meeting of the governing council was told this week. ITER management has also asked the seven international partners which are backing the project for additional funding to finish the job. Under recent estimates, ITER was expected to cost some $13 billion and not begin operations until 2019. The new start date would be 2025.
Input Devices

Silent Ear and Tongue-Tracking Tech Can Control Wearables ( 10

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists at Georgia Tech are developing silent speech systems that can enable fast and hands-free communication with wearable devices, controlled by the user's tongue and ears. As seen with open source project Eyedrivomatic, the researchers want to apply the technology to provide a device control solution for people who are disabled. They suggest it could also be used by those working in a loud environment in need of a quiet way to communicate with their wearable devices. The prototype involves a combination of tongue control with earphone-like pieces each installed with proximity sensors to map the changing shape of the ear canal. Every word manipulates the canal in a different way, allowing for accurate recognition.

NASA Selects Universities To Develop Humanoid Robot Astronauts ( 21

MarkWhittington writes: NASA announced that it is sending copies of its R5 Valkyrie humanoid robot to two universities for software upgrades and other research and development. The effort is part of a continuing project to develop cybernetic astronauts that will assist human astronauts in exploring other worlds. The idea is that robot astronauts would initially scout potentially hazardous environments, say on Mars, and then actively collaborate with their human counterparts in exploration. NASA is paying each university chosen $250,000 per year for two years to perform the R&D. The university researchers will have access to NASA expertise and facilities to perform the upgrades. Spoiler alert: the robots are both going to Greater Boston, to teams at MIT and Northeastern University respectively.

AMD Launches Radeon R9 380X, Fastest GPU Under $250 ( 110

MojoKid writes: Although AMD's mid-range GPU line-up has been relatively strong for a while now, the company is launching the new Radeon R9 380X today with the goal of taking down competing graphics cards like NVIDIA's popular GeForce GTX 960. The Radeon R9 380X has a fully-functional AMD Tonga GPU with all 32 compute units / 2048 shader processors enabled. AMD's reference specifications call for 970MHz+ engine clock with 4GB of 1425MHz GDDR5 memory (5.7 Gbps effective). Typical board power is 190W and cards require a pair of supplemental 6-pin power feeds. The vast majority of the Radeon R9 380X cards that will hit the market, however, will likely be custom models that are factory overlcocked and look nothing like AMD's reference design. The Radeon R9 380X, or more specifically the factory overclocked Sapphire Nitro R9 380X tested, performed significantly better than AMD's Radeon R9 285 or NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 960 across the board. The 380X, however, could not catch more powerful and more expensive cards like the GeForce GTX 970. Regardless, the Radeon R9 380X is easily the fastest graphics card on the market right now, under $250.

MIT Helping NASA Build Valkyrie Robots For Space Missions ( 35

An anonymous reader writes: NASA announced that MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is one of just two institutions that will receive "R5," a six-foot, 290-pound humanoid robot also known as "Valkyrie" that will serve on future space missions to Mars and beyond. A group led by CSAIL principal investigator Russ Tedrake will develop algorithms for the robot as part of NASA's upcoming Space Robotics Challenge, which aims to create more dexterous autonomous robots that can help or even take the place of humans "extreme space" missions. While R5 was initially designed to complete disaster-relief maneuvers, its main goal is now to prove itself worthy of even trickier terrain — deep space exploration.

How Cisco Is Trying To Prove It Can Keep NSA Spies Out of Its Gear ( 130

itwbennett writes: A now infamous photo [leaked by Edward Snowden] showed NSA employees around a box labeled Cisco during a so-called 'interdiction' operation, one of the spy agency's most productive programs,' writes Jeremy Kirk. 'Once that genie is out of the bottle, it's a hell of job to put it back in,' said Steve Durbin, managing director of the Information Security Forum in London. Yet that's just what Cisco is trying to do, and early next year, the company plans to open a facility in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina where customers can test and inspect source code in a secure environment. But, considering that a Cisco router might have 30 million lines of code, proving a product hasn't been tampered with by spy agencies is like trying 'to prove the non-existence of god,' says Joe Skorupa, a networking and communications analyst with Gartner.
United Kingdom

UK's Coal Plants To Be Phased Out Within 10 Years ( 109

AmiMoJo writes: The UK's remaining coal-fired power stations will be shut by 2025, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has announced. They will mostly be replaced with gas. Currently, coal provides 28% of the UK's electricity. Japanese/European nuclear plants built in the UK are also expected to contribute. The big question is how to ensure gas plants are built to replace it. Only one large plant is under construction today. Another, which secured a subsidy last year, is struggling to find investors. The government cut renewable energy subsidies earlier this year, which led to questions about the government's commitment to tackle climate change.
Hardware Hacking

Adding Eye Control To Wheelchairs for Quadriplegics ( 15

szczys writes: The inventor of the Eyedriveomatic has ALS. This prevents him from controlling his electric wheelchair, but it didn't prevent him from teaming up with two other people (one also a quadriplegic) to design a way around the limitation. Eyegaze hardware is what lets people speak through a computer using only their eyes. Eyedrivomatic is an open source project that uses common materials to connect the Eyegaze to the joystick of the wheelchair without altering the chair (which is rented equipment in most cases). A 3D-printed gimbal is strapped over the existing joystick, but does not prevent it from still being used normally by caregivers. The gimbal's servo motors actuate the joystick with commands from the Eyegaze.

The Next Gold Rush Will Be 5,000 Feet Under the Sea, With Robot Drones ( 129

merbs writes: In Papua New Guinea, one well-financed, first-mover company is about to pioneer deep sea mining. And that will mean dispatching a fleet of giant remote-operated robotic miners 5,000 feet below the surface to harvest the riches scattered across ocean floor. These mammoth underwater vehicles look like they've been hauled off the set of a sci-fi film—think Avatar meets The Abyss. And they'll be dredging up copper, gold, and other valuable minerals, far beneath the gaze of human eyes.
Data Storage

Tape Disintegration Threatens Historical Records, But Chemistry Can Help ( 76

An anonymous reader writes: Modern storage methods are designed with longevity in mind. But we haven't always had the scientific knowledge or the foresight to do so. From the late 60s to the late 80s, much of the world's cultural history was recorded on magnetic tapes. Several decades on, those tapes are disintegrating, and we're faced with the permanent loss of that data. "The Cultural Heritage Index estimates that there are 46 million magnetic tapes in museums and archives in the U.S. alone—and about 40 percent of them are of unknown quality. (The remaining 60 percent are known to be either already disintegrated or in good enough condition to be played.)" Fortunately, researchers have worked out a method to determine which copies are recoverable. They "combined a laptop-sized infrared spectrometer with an algorithm that uses multivariate statistics to pick up patterns of all the absorption peaks." Here's the abstract from their research paper. "As the tapes go through the breakdown reaction, the chemical changes give off tiny signals in the form of compounds, which can be seen with infrared light—and when the patterns of reactions are analyzed with the model, it can predict which tapes are playable."

Daimler Builds Massive Industrial Energy Storage Systems From Used EV Batteries ( 73

Lucas123 writes: German carmaker Daimler AG is building large battery storage systems for industrial use from the used lithium-ion batteries of its all-electric and hybrid vehicles. The first of Daimler's "2nd use battery storage units" will consist of 1,000 smart electric drive vehicle batteries and have a 13MWh of capacity. It is expected to be connected to the electrical grid in Lünen, Germany early next year. All of Daimler's battery storage units are currently planned to be greater than a megawatt in capacity, meaning they'll only be for commercial, not residential use, but the company said it does expect those batteries to be cost competitive with the ones Tesla announced earlier this year.

Google's Chromebit Micro-Computer Launches ( 60

An anonymous reader writes: Back in March, Google announced the Chromebit, a small computer crammed into an HDMI stick that runs Chrome OS. The device, built by Asus, has now launched for $85. It weighs 75 grams, runs on a Rockchip ARM processor, and includes a USB port. It has 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM, and connects via 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. According to Tech Crunch, the Chromebit is not particularly fast, but it's usable for basic tasks. "As long as the work only involves web apps (or maybe a remote connection to a more fully-featured machine), the Chromebit is up for the job and can turn any screen into a usable desktop."