China

China Just Made a Major Breakthrough In Nuclear Fusion Research (techienews.co.uk) 72

New submitter TechnoidNash writes: China announced last week a major breakthrough in the realm of nuclear fusion research. The Chinese Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), was able to heat hydrogen gas to a temperature of near 50 million degrees Celsius for an unprecedented 102 seconds. While this is nowhere near the hottest temperature that has ever been achieved in nuclear fusion research (that distinction belongs to the Large Hadron Collider which reached 4 trillion degrees Celsius), it is the longest amount of time one has been maintained.
AI

Wolves Howl In Different 'Dialects,' Machine Learning Finds (vice.com) 28

derekmead writes: Differentiating wolf howls with human ears can prove tricky, so researchers have turned to computer algorithms to suss out if different wolf species howl differently. They think that understanding wolf howls could help improve wolf conservation and management programs. In a study published in the journal Behavioural Processes, a group of international researchers describe using machine learning for the first time to analyze 2,000 wolf howls gathered from both wild and domesticated wolves and their subspecies from around the world.
Oracle

Java Installer Flaw Shows Why You Should Clear Your Downloads Folder (csoonline.com) 39

itwbennett writes: On Friday, Oracle published a security advisory recommending that users delete all the Java installers they might have laying around on their computers and use new ones for versions 6u113, 7u97, 8u73 or later. The reason: Older versions of the Java installer were vulnerable to binary planting in the Downloads folder. 'Though considered relatively complex to exploit, this vulnerability may result, if successfully exploited, in a complete compromise of the unsuspecting user's system,' said Eric Maurice, Oracle's software security assurance director, in a blog post.
Businesses

How the Cloud Has Changed (Since Last You Looked) 35

snydeq writes: InfoWorld's Peter Wayner takes a look at the new services and pricing models that are making cloud computing more powerful, complex, and cheaper than it was a few short years ago. 'We get more, but using it isn't always as simple as it could be. Sure, you still end up on root on some box that's probably running Linux, but getting the right performance out of that machine is more complex,' Wayner writes. "But the real fun comes when you try to figure out how to pay for your planned cloud deployment because there are more options than ever. ... In some cases, the cost engineering can be more complex than the software engineering."
Earth

Carbon Dioxide From the Air Converted Into Methanol (gizmag.com) 91

Zothecula writes: The danger posed by rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide has seen many schemes proposed to remove a proportion it from the air. Rather than simply capture this greenhouse gas and bury it in the ground, though, many experiments have managed to transform CO2 into useful things like carbon nanofibers or even fuels, such as diesel. Unfortunately, the over-arching problem with many of these conversions is the particularly high operating temperatures that require counterproductive amounts of energy to produce relatively low yields of fuel. Now researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) claim to have devised a way to take CO2 directly from the air and convert it into methanol using much lower temperatures and in a correspondingly simpler way.
Social Networks

Instagram Launches Account Switching On iOS and Android (google.com) 22

Today, Instagram announced that users will be able to switch between up to five different accounts when using the app on iOS and Android. This new feature will be available later this week, when users download version 7.15 of the app. According to a blog post from the company, "Go to your profile settings to add an additional account. From there, tap your username at the top of your profile to switch between accounts. Once you have multiple accounts added, you'll see your profile photo appear in places throughout the app so you can always tell which one you're using at the moment."
Businesses

Sen. Blumenthal Demands Lifting of IT 'Gag' Order (computerworld.com) 134

dcblogs writes: U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the layoff and replacement of IT workers by foreign workers at a state energy utility. But he is also demanding that the utility, Eversource Energy, drop a particularly restrictive non-disparagement clause that laid off employees had to sign to receive their severance. This clause bars discussion "that would tend to disparage or discredit" the utility. [emphasis added] He wants the employees, who had to train foreign replacements, to be able to state "honestly what happened to them."
Piracy

Anti-Piracy Group BREIN Demands Torrents Time Cease and Desist 62

An anonymous reader writes: Not even a week has gone by since Torrents Time appeared on the scene, and the site has already been served with a cease-and-desist letter. Anti-piracy group BREIN, based in the Netherlands, has deemed the streaming tool an "illegal application" and demands the administrators "cease and desist the distribution of Torrents Time immediately."
Open Source

GitHub Open Sources Their Internal Testing Tool (thenewstack.io) 42

destinyland writes: Last week GitHub released a new open source tool called Scientist, a Ruby-based library they've been using in-house for several years. "It's the most terrifying moment when you flip the switch," GitHub engineer Jesse Toth told one technology reporter, who notes that the tool is targeted at developers transitioning from a legacy system. "Scientist was born when GitHub engineers needed to rewrite the permissions code — one of the most critical systems in the GitHub application." The tool measures execution duration and other metrics for both test and production code during runtime, and Toth reports that they're now also developing new versions in Node.js, C#, and .Net..
Businesses

The Hyperloop Industrial Complex 183

Jason Koebler writes: Two and a half years after Elon Musk pitched the technology, actually traveling on a hyperloop is still theoretical, but its effect on business is not. There is a very real, bonafide industry of people whose job description is, broadly speaking "make the hyperloop into a tangible thing." The SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Design Weekend at Texas A&M University earlier this weekend was the coming out party for people in that industry.
Security

Researcher Finds Tens of Software Products Vulnerable To Simple Bug (softpedia.com) 123

An anonymous reader writes: There's a German security researcher that is arduously testing the installers of tens of software products to see which of them are vulnerable to basic DLL hijacking. Surprisingly, many companies are ignoring his reports. Until now, only Oracle seems to have addressed this problem in Java and VirtualBox. Here's a short (probably incomplete) list of applications that he found vulnerable to this attack: Firefox, Google Chrome, Adobe Reader, 7Zip, WinRAR, OpenOffice, VLC Media Player, Nmap, Python, TrueCrypt, and Apple iTunes. Mr. Kanthak also seems to have paid special attention to antivirus software installers. Here are some of the security products he discovered vulnerable to DLL hijacking: ZoneAlarm, Emsisoft Anti-Malware, Trend Micro, ESET NOD32, Avira, Panda Security, McAfee Security, Microsoft Security Essentials, Bitdefender, Rapid7's ScanNowUPnP, Kaspersky, and F-Secure.
GNU is Not Unix

Talos Secure Workstation Is Free-Software Centric — and $3100 [Updated] 97

jones_supa writes: These days, the motivation to use open source software for many people is to avoid backdoors placed by intelligence organizations and to avoid software that has hidden privacy-intruding characteristics. For the operating system and userspace software, open choices are already available. The last remaining island has been the firmware included in various ROM chips in a computer. Libreboot has introduced an open BIOS, but it is not available for newer systems featuring the Intel ME or AMD PSP management features. Talos' Secure Workstation fills this need, providing a modern system with 8-core POWER8 CPU, 132 GB RAM, and open firmware. The product is currently in a pre-release phase where Raptor Engineering is trying to understand if it's possible to do a production run of the machine. If you are interested, it's worth visiting the official website. Adds an anonymous reader about the new system, which rings in at a steep $3100: "While the engineers found solace in the POWER8 architecture with being more open than AMD/Intel CPUs, they still are searching for a graphics card that is open enough to receive the FSF Respect Your Freedom certification." Update: 02/08 18:44 GMT by T : See also Linux hacker and IBM employee Stewart Smith's talk from the just-completed linux.conf.au on, in which he walks through "all of the firmware components and what they do, including the boot sequence from power being applied up to booting an operating system." Update: 02/08 23:30 GMT by T :FSF Licensing & Compliance Manager Joshua Gay wrote to correct the headline originally appeared with this story, which said that the Talos workstation described was "FSF Certified"; that claim was an error I introduced. "The FSF has not certified this hardware," says Gay, "nor is it currently reviewing the hardware for FSF certification." Sorry for the confusion.
Crime

Metel Hackers Roll Back ATM Transactions, Steal Millions (threatpost.com) 64

msm1267 writes: Researchers from Kaspersky Lab's Global Research & Analysis Team today unveiled details on two new criminal operations that have borrowed heavily from targeted nation-state attacks, and also shared an update on a resurgent Carbanak gang, which last year, it was reported, had allegedly stolen upwards of $1 billion from more than 100 financial companies. The heaviest hitter among the newly discovered gangs is an ongoing campaign, mostly confined to Russia, known as Metel. This gang targets machines that have access to money transactions, such as call center and support machines, and once they are compromised, the attackers use that access to automate the rollback of ATM transactions. As the attackers empty ATM after ATM—Metel was found inside 30 organizations—the balances on the stolen accounts remained untouched.
Data Storage

NAND Flash Density Surpasses HDDs', But Price Is Still a Sticking Point (computerworld.com) 163

Lucas123 writes: With the introduction of 3D or stacked NAND flash memory, non-volatile memory has for the first time surpassed that of hard disk drives in density. This year, Micron revealed it had demonstrated areal densities in its laboratories of up to 2.77 terabits per square inch (Tbpsi) for its 3D NAND. That compares with the densest HDDs of about 1.3Tbpsi. While NAND flash may have surpassed hard drives in density, it doesn't mean the medium has reached price parity with HDDs — nor will it anytime soon. One roadblock to price parity is the cost of revamping existing or building new 3D NAND fabrication plant, which far exceeds that of hard drive manufacturing facilities, according to market research firm Coughlin Associates. HDD makers are also preparing to launch even denser products using technologies such as heat assisted magnetic recording.

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