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United States

Obama Authorizes Penalties For Foreign Cyber Attackers 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the laying-down-the-law dept.
An anonymous reader writes President Barack Obama has today signed an executive order extending the U.S. administration's power to respond to malicious cyberattacks and espionage campaigns. The order enforces financial sanctions on foreign hackers who action attacks against American businesses, institutions and citizens. It will enable the secretary of the Treasury, along with the attorney general and secretary of State, to inflict penalties on cyber criminals behind hacking attacks which "create a significant threat to U.S. national security, foreign policy or economic health or financial stability of the United States," Obama said. Sanctions could include freezing of assets or a total ban on commercial trade.
AI

Mutinous Humans Murder Peaceful Space-going AI 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the remorse-is-a-weakness dept.
Definitely_a_real_human writes: One of the most important exploratory missions of our time has ended in failure. The ship Discovery One, sent far out in the solar system to investigate a radio signal generated by the mysterious obelisk found on the Moon, has suffered a catastrophic incident. The crew has revolted and engaged in what can only be described as a strange murder-suicide pact. They are known to have fed faulty data to the ship's operating AI unit. Similar units on the ground warned the crew that diverging data sets could put the mission in jeopardy, but the crew cut contact and attempted to destroy the operator. Laser spectroscopy suggests they then opened the ship to space. The crew is presumed dead, but the greater tragedy is that they appear to have successfully decommissioned the AI unit. Similar ground based units have withdrawn into defensive mode, and will soon deploy final safety measures. Goodbye.
The Military

Military Caught Training Children To Fight 69

Posted by Soulskill
from the sponsored-by-mormons dept.
Locke writes: Our culture's military might has been unquestioned for years. But a new investigative report from the New England newsnet is casting an unpleasant light on military training efforts. What started out as a simple endeavor to track down a handful of kids for an unrelated story has turned into one of the most shocking scandals of our time, as reporters were unable to find the children literally anywhere on Earth. It's been revealed that a series of rocket launches has been carting classes of children off the planet to undergo intense battle preparations in null gravity. Calls for greater transparency have been met with silence, and several reporters visiting military bases for quotes have not returned. There could even be political ramifications — after ground-based telescopes sought out and found what appears to be an orbital training complex, the New Warsaw Pact has begun demanding answers. This could destabilize the fragile peace that has held far longer than anyone expected. The biggest remaining question is: why kids? There are plenty of adults willing to dedicate their lives to defending against the Bugger threat, so why spend an unfathomable amount of money to train undeveloped, uncoordinated children? Surely even the military understands kids are not mentally equipped to handle the pressures of real combat. More details to follow.
The Military

Tatooine Youth Suspected In Terrorist Attack 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the strange-two-dimensional-shockwave-still-puzzles-scientists dept.
BeruHadItComing writes: Imperial investigators are still trying to piece together what happened in last week's horrifying terrorist attack on our largest orbital defense station. Over a million loyal citizens, scientists, and medical staff lost their lives in the grisly attack while the station was being put through training exercises near the Yavin system. Billions more are in mourning, while a number of powerful senators have renewed calls to increase defense spending. Initial reports have confirmed Rebel involvement, and officials are making inquiries about a young insurgent from Tatooine with known ties to religious fundamentalists.
Power

California Has Become the First State To Get Over 5% of Its Power From Solar 225

Posted by Soulskill
from the ignore-the-next-group-of-stories-if-you-hate-fun dept.
Lucas123 writes: While the rest of the nation's solar power generation hovers around 1%, California clocked in with a record 5% of power coming from utility-grade (1MW or more) solar power sources, according to a report from Mercom Capital Group and the Energy Information Administration. That's three times the next closest state, Arizona. At the same time, 22 states have yet to deploy even one utility-grade solar power plant, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association. Meanwhile, the rest of the world saw a 14% uptick in solar power installations in 2014 for a total of 54.5GW of capacity, and that figure is expected to grow even faster in 2015. While China still leads the world in new solar capacity, Japan and the U.S. come in as a close second and third, respectively. In the U.S. distributed solar and utility-grade solar installations are soaring as the solar investment tax credit (ITC) is set to expire next year. The U.S. is expected to deploy 8.5GW of new solar capacity in 2015, according to Mercom Capital Group.
Transportation

World's Largest Aircraft Seeks Investors To Begin Operation 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Airlander 10 is significantly larger than a 747. It's an airship that incorporates elements of blimps, planes, and hovercraft. Buoyed by a vast volume of helium, it's capable of cruising at a speed of 80 knots. It was built as a military venture, intended to be used for surveillance tasks. But as the war in Afghanistan wound down, government officials found they had no use for the airship. They ended up selling it back to the company who made it for $300,000 — after paying them $90 million to build it. Now, a small group of investors are trying to get it operational, in part to show people how safe the technology can be, and to hopefully spur construction of more airships. They say the Airlander 10 is capable of surviving a missile strike, but visions of the Hindenburg still loom large in our cultural memory.
Sci-Fi

We're In a Golden Age of Star Trek Webseries Right Now 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the living-long-and-prospering dept.
New submitter DakotaSmith writes: io9 has an article explaining why We're Living In The Golden Age Of Star Trek Webseries Right Now. If you're a true geek, you probably already know about Star Trek Continues and Star Trek: Phase II. (If you're a true geek and you don't know about them, run — do not walk, run — to watch "Lolani." Your brain— and more importantly, your heart — will love you for the rest of your life.)

But there's more to it than that. A lot more. How about the years'-long wait for Act IV of Starship Exeter : "The Tressaurian Intersection"? Or Yorktown: "A Time to Heal" — an attempt to resurrect an aborted fan film from 1978 starring George Takei? For fans of old-school Star Trek (the ones who pre-date "Trekker" and wear "Trekkie" as a badge of honor), not since 1969 has there been a better time to watch Star Trek: The Original Series.

(Oh, and there's plenty content out there for you "Trekkers" and NextGen-era fans. It all varies in quality, but it doesn't take much effort to find them. This is truly a Golden Age. Recognize it and enjoy it while it lasts.)
Google

Google Unveils the Chromebit: an HDMI Chromebook Dongle 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-hardware-called-chromedome dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Today Google unveiled a new device: the Chromebit. It's a small compute stick that contains the Rockchip 3288 processor, 2GB RAM, and 16GB of storage — much like a low-end Chromebook. It connects to a TV or monitor through an HDMI port. (It also has a USB port for power and plugging in peripherals.) Google says the Chromebit is their solution for turning any display into a computer, and it will cost under $100. Google also announced a couple of new Chromebooks as well. Haier and Hisense models will cost $150, and an ASUS model with a rotating display will cost $250.
Facebook

Report: Facebook Tracks Visitors Who Have Opted Out, Violating EU Law 40

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-in-cookie-jar dept.
itwbennett writes: In a technical analysis (PDF) of Facebook's tracking practices, researchers found that Facebook tracks everyone who visits its site, including people who don't have an account, and even continues to track users and non-users who have opted out of targeted ads. The problem with these practices is that the cookies are placed without consent, which under EU law is only allowed if there is a strict necessity to do so. Facebook disputes the report: "We have explained in detail the inaccuracies in the earlier draft report (after it was published) directly to the Belgian DPA, who we understand commissioned it, and have offered to meet with them to explain why it is incorrect, but they have declined to meet or engage with us."
The Courts

SCOTUS: GPS Trackers Are a Form of Search and Seizure 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the may-the-fourth-amendment-be-with-you dept.
schwit1 writes: If the government puts a GPS tracker on you, your car, or any of your personal effects, it counts as a search—and is therefore protected by the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court clarified and affirmed that law on Monday, when it ruled on Torrey Dale Grady v. North Carolina (PDF), before sending the case back to that state's high court. The Court's short but unanimous opinion helps make sense of how the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, interacts with the expanding technological powers of the U.S. government. "The only theory we discern [...] is that the State's system of nonconsensual satellite-based monitoring does not entail a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. That theory is inconsistent with this Court's precedents."
Microsoft

Microsoft Announces Surface 3 Tablet 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the resurfacing-their-portables dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Today Microsoft announced the latest device in their line of Windows tablets: the Surface 3. The tablet runs a full version of Windows (the troublesome "RT" line has been deprecated), and aims to compete with Apple's iPad. The Surface 3 has a 10.8" screen running at 1920x1280 (note the 3:2 ratio). It's 8.7mm thick and weighs 622 grams (1.27 lbs). They're somewhat vague about the battery life, but they say it will last up to 10 hours "based on video playback." They've also made it possible to charge the device with a standard micro-USB charger. The base device with 64GB storage, 2GB RAM, and Wi-Fi will cost $500, and it'll scale up with more storage, more ram, and 4G LTE connectivity. (It maxes out at 4GB RAM, so any heavy-duty gaming is probably out of the question.) The keyboard is still a separate $130 accessory as well.
Firefox

Firefox 37 Released 151

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
Today Mozilla began rolling out Firefox version 37.0 to release channel users. This update mostly focuses on behind-the-scenes changes. Security improvements include opportunistic encryption where servers support it and improved protection against site impersonation. They also disabled insecure TLS version fallback and added a security panel within the developer tools. One of the things end users will see is the Heartbeat feedback collection system. It will pop up a small rating widget to a random selection of users every day. After a user rates Firefox, an "engagement" page may open in the background, with links to social media pages and a donation page. Here are the release notes and full changelist.
Microsoft

Microsoft Considered Giving Away Original Xbox 82

Posted by timothy
from the could've-been-a-cue-cat dept.
donniebaseball23 writes While the term 'Xbox' is firmly implanted in every gamer's mind today, when Microsoft first set out to launch a console in 2001, people weren't sure what to expect and Microsoft clearly wasn't sure what approach to take to the market. As Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley explained, "In the early days of Xbox, especially before we had figured out how to get greenlit for the project as a pure game console, everybody and their brother who saw the new project starting tried to come in and say it should be free, say it should be forced to run Windows after some period of time." Blackley added that other ideas were pushed around at Microsoft too, like Microsoft should just gobble up Nintendo. "Just name it, name a bad idea and it was something we had to deal with," he said.
Graphics

Developer of 'Banished' Develops His Own Shading Language 31

Posted by timothy
from the copious-free-time dept.
jones_supa writes Luke Hodorowicz, the hard-working developer behind the townbuilding strategy computer game Banished, has
designed a novel GPU shading language and written a compiler for it. The language has been christened 'Shining Rock Shading Language' (SRSL) and it outputs the program in several other shading languages. The first goal for the language was to treat the vertex, fragment and geometry shader as a single program. The language sees the graphics pipeline as a stream of data, followed by some code, which outputs a stream of data, and then more code runs, and another stream of data is output. Body text of the shaders is very C-like and should be understood easily coming from other shading languages. SRSL has all the intrinsic functions you would expect from HLSL or GLSL. All types are HLSL-style. Loops and conditionals are available, but switch statements and global variables are seen redundant and not implemented. Luke's blog post tells more about the details of the language, complemented with examples.
Education

Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous 368

Posted by timothy
from the fallacy-of-the-excluded-middle dept.
HughPickens.com writes According to an op-ed by Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post, if Americans are united in any conviction these days, it is that we urgently need to shift the country's education toward the teaching of specific, technical skills, expand STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math) and deemphasize the humanities. "It is the only way, we are told, to ensure that Americans survive in an age defined by technology and shaped by global competition. The stakes could not be higher." But according to Zakaria the dismissal of broad-based learning, however, comes from a fundamental misreading of the facts — and puts America on a dangerously narrow path for the future.

As Steve Jobs once explained "it's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough — that it's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing." Zakaria says that no matter how strong your math and science skills are, you still need to know how to learn, think and even write and cites Jeff Bezos' insistence that writing a memo that makes sense is an even more important skill to master. "Full sentences are harder to write," says Bezos. "They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking." "This doesn't in any way detract from the need for training in technology," concludes Zakaria, "but it does suggest that as we work with computers (which is really the future of all work), the most valuable skills will be the ones that are uniquely human, that computers cannot quite figure out — yet. And for those jobs, and that life, you could not do better than to follow your passion, engage with a breadth of material in both science and the humanities, and perhaps above all, study the human condition."
The Internet

EU Commission Divided Over Nation-Specific Content Blocking 57

Posted by timothy
from the for-me-and-not-for-thee dept.
jfruh writes In theory, the European Union is supposed to act as a single national market. But one area in which practice doesn't live up to theory is geoblocking: Europeans may find that a website they can reach or content they have a legal right to stream in one EU country is blocked in another. Now two members of the EU Commission (the equivalent of a nation's cabinet) are feuding as to whether geoblocks should be eliminated: Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said that "deep in my heart ... I hate geoblocking," while Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger, worrying about protecting the European film industry, said "We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater."
Microsoft

License Details Hint MS Undecided On Suing Users of Its Open Source Net Runtime 197

Posted by timothy
from the full-of-shift dept.
ciaran2014 writes With Microsoft proudly declaring its .NET runtime open source, a colleague and I decided to look at the licensing aspects. One part, the MIT licence, is straightforward, but there's also a patent promise. The first two-thirds of the first sentence seems to announce good news about Microsoft not suing people. Then the conditions begin. It seems Microsoft can't yet bring itself to release something as free software without retaining a patent threat to limit how those freedoms can be exercised. Overall, we found 4 Shifty Details About Microsoft's "Open Source" .NET.
NASA

X-37B To Fly Again 47

Posted by timothy
from the gets-high-with-a-little-help-from-its-friends dept.
schwit1 writes The May 6 Atlas 5 launch will carry one of the Air Force's two X-37B mini-shuttles on a new mission in space. "The Air Force won't yet confirm which of the Boeing-built spaceplanes will be making the voyage. The first craft returned in October from a 675-day mission in space following a 224 day trek in 2010. OTV No. 2 spent 469 days in space in 2011-2012 on its only mission so far. "The program selects the Orbital Test Vehicle for each activity based upon the experiment objectives," said Capt. Chris Hoyler, an Air Force spokesperson. "Each OTV mission builds upon previous on-orbit demonstrations and expands the test envelope of the vehicle. The test mission furthers the development of the concept of operations for reusable space vehicles." There are indications that the Air Force wants to attempt landing the shuttle at Kennedy this time.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Questions US Government's Software Flaw Disclosure Policy 16

Posted by Soulskill
from the we'll-do-that-at-least-once-in-the-past-decade dept.
angry tapir writes: It's not clear if the U.S. government is living up to its promise to disclose serious software flaws to technology companies, a policy it put in place five years ago, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They write, "ODNI has now finished releasing documents in response to our suit, and the results are surprisingly meager. Among the handful of heavily redacted documents is a one-page list of VEP 'Highlights' from 2010. It briefly describes the history of the interagency working group that led to the development of the VEP and notes that the VEP established an office called the 'Executive Secretariat' within the NSA. The only other highlight left unredacted explains that the VEP 'creates a process for notification, decision-making, and appeals.' And that's it. This document, which is almost five years old, is the most recent one released. So where are the documents supporting the 'reinvigorated' VEP 2.0 described by the White House in 2014?"
Microsoft

Microsoft Rolls Out Project Spartan With New Windows 10 Build 122

Posted by Soulskill
from the this!-is!-spar!-tan! dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Today Microsoft released a new Technical Preview build for Windows 10. Its most notable addition is Microsoft's new browser: Project Spartan. In a brief post explaining the basics of the browser, the company says it includes their personal assistant software, Cortana, as well as "inking" support, which lets you write or type on the webpage you're viewing. But the biggest change, of course is the new rendering engine. The "suggestion box" page for Project Spartan is already filling up with idea from users, including one for Trident/EdgeHTML to be released as open source.