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Updated: 5 min 54 sec ago

Report: US Military Is Wasting Millions On Satellite Comms

7/20/2015 12:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: Fast information exchange is the key to a powerful military, and satellites have been an incredible boon to the commanders of modern fighting forces. But a new report from the Government Accountability Office says the U.S. military is vastly overpaying for its satellite communications, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. They say the Department of Defense "has become increasingly reliant on commercial SATCOM to support ongoing U.S. military operations." You see, every part of the DoD is required to go through the Defense Information Systems Agency when procuring SATCOM equipment. The problem is that this process is incredibly slow, and fraught with red tape. Because of this, many in the military skip DISA and go straight to commercial providers — at a steep markup. The GAO estimates that this cost taxpayers around $45 million extra in a single year.

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Apple Watch Still Waiting On App Developers

7/20/2015 11:46am
An anonymous reader writes: It's been almost three months since the Apple Watch launched, and the tiny device hasn't taken people's wrists by storm. That's not to say it's a failure — experts estimate Apple has sold between three and five million of them, and we may get more detailed sales information during their earnings call, tomorrow. But many major app developers are still missing from the Watch's catalog, and Apple doesn't have a good way of roping them into the new section of its ecosystem. "I don't know if we could get it all in there in a way that feels good and works well," said a Facebook executive. "Why would you look at a small picture when you can look at a large one on your phone?" said Snapchat's CEO. The app rush that hit phones and tablets is dampened for the Watch. For now, all Apple can do is improve their development toolkit and hope coders can figure out useful new wrist-based interactions.

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GCC 5.2 Released

7/20/2015 11:05am
AmiMoJo writes: The release of GCC 5.2 brings lots of bug fixes and a number of new features. The change list is extensive, featuring improvements to the C compiler, support for new languages like OpenACC, improvements for embedded systems, updates to the standard library and more.

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Stephen Hawking and Russian Billionaire Start $100 Million Search For Aliens

7/20/2015 10:22am
An anonymous reader writes: Stephen Hawking is joining forces with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner to start a $100 million effort to search the skies for signs of alien life. The initiative is called Breakthrough Listen, which will pay for large amounts of access to the Green Bank Telescope and the Parkes Telescope to scan the skies for signals over the next 10 years. They say the search will be 50 times more sensitive than previous attempts, cover 10 times more of the sky, and scan a greater portion of the radio spectrum 100x faster. They add, "All data will be open to the public. This will likely constitute the largest amount of scientific data ever made available to the public. The Breakthrough Listen team will use and develop the most powerful software for sifting and searching this flood of data. All software will be open source." The project is also supported by Frank Drake, Ann Druyan, and Lord Martin Rees.

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Affair Site Hackers Threaten Release of All User Data Unless It Closes

7/20/2015 9:39am
heretic108 writes: According to KrebsOnSecurity, the infamous Ashley Madison affairs hookup website has been hacked by a group calling itself The Impact Team. This group is demanding the immediate and permanent shutdown of Ashley Madison, as well as similar sites Cougar Life and Established Man, owned by the same company: Avid Life Media. If the sites aren't shut down, the hackers are threatening to publicly release personal data for 37 million users. ALM has confirmed that a hack took place, and the hackers posted snippets of account data, as well as bank and salary information from the company itself.

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AMD Catalyst Linux Driver Performs Wildly Different Based On Program's Name

7/20/2015 8:57am
An anonymous reader writes: In past years the AMD Catalyst Linux driver has yielded better performance if naming the executable "doom3.x86" or "compiz" (among other choices), but these days this application profile concept is made more absurd with more games coming to Linux but AMD not maintaining well their Linux application profile database. The latest example is by getting ~40% better performance by renaming Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on Linux. If renaming the "csgo_linux" binary to "hl2_linux" for Half-Life 2 within Steam, the frame-rates suddenly increase across the board, this is with the latest Catalyst 15.7 Linux driver while CS:GO has been on Linux for nearly one year. Should driver developers re-evaluate their optimization practices for Linux?

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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo's Re-entry Tech: the Feather

7/20/2015 8:14am
Dutch Gun writes: When most people think about rocket science, they think of the challenge of getting a spacecraft into space. However, the problem of safely re-entering the atmosphere is a daunting challenge as well. Virgin Galactic introduces us to the concept of "the feather," their term for the combination of fixed-wing and capsule based solutions both used by spaceships in the past, and explain how they believe this hybrid approach to be a superior solution. SpaceShipTwo folds its wings in the initial decent, acting a bit like a badminton shuttlecock, when a capsule decent has the most advantages. In the latter part of the decent, the wings are extended, giving the vehicle the advantages of a glider-like landing.

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Your Body, the Battery: Powering Gadgets From Human "Biofuel"

7/20/2015 7:28am
An anonymous reader writes: This article takes a look at the future of electronic devices powered by the human body. From the electric voltage in mammal ears called the endocochlear potential, to body heat, and muscle motion, there are a number of exciting new areas of energy research being explored. Ars reports: "Staying alive guzzles energy. In order to keep us ticking, our bodies need to burn between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day, which is conveniently enough to power a modestly used smart phone. So if just a fraction of that energy could be siphoned, our bodies could in theory be used to run any number of electronic devices, from medical implants to electronic contact lenses—all without a battery in sight. Recently, researchers have taken important strides toward unlocking this electric potential."

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New Molecular Transistor Can Control Single Electrons

7/20/2015 5:31am
Eloking writes: An international team of scientists has been able to create a microscopic transistor made up of one single molecule and a number of atoms. Gizmag reports: "Researchers from Germany, Japan and the United States have managed to create a tiny, reliable transistor assembled from a single molecule and a dozen additional atoms. The transistor reportedly operates so precisely that it can control the flow of single electrons, paving the way for the next generation of nanomaterials and miniaturized electronics." The team that conducted the research included teams from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the NTT Basic Research Laboratories in Japan.

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Hacking Team and Boeing Subsidiary Envisioned Drones Deploying Spyware

7/20/2015 2:08am
Advocatus Diaboli writes: Email conversations posted on WikiLeaks reveal that Boeing and Hacking Team want drones to carry devices that inject spyware into target computers through WiFi networks. The Intercept reports: "The plan is described in internal emails from the Italian company Hacking Team, which makes off-the-shelf software that can remotely infect a suspect's computer or smartphone, accessing files and recording calls, chats, emails and more. A hacker attacked the Milan-based firm earlier this month and released hundreds of gigabytes of company information online. Among the emails is a recap of a meeting in June of this year, which gives a "roadmap" of projects that Hacking Team's engineers have underway. On the list: Develop a way to infect computers via drone. One engineer is assigned the task of developing a "mini" infection device, which could be "ruggedized" and "transportable by drone (!)" the write-up notes enthusiastically in Italian. The request appears to have originated with a query from the Washington-based Insitu, which makes a range of unmanned systems, including the small ScanEagle surveillance drone, which has long been used by the militaries of the U.S. and other countries. Insitu also markets its drones for law enforcement."

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Class Action Filed Against Sling Media

7/19/2015 10:58pm
New submitter DewDude writes: In case you missed it; Sling Media has been forcing advertisements into video streams from Slingbox devices unless you pay for a client application, which is only an option for Apple, Android, and Windows 8 devices. The issue will now head to the courts, as two plaintiffs have filed a class action suit against Sling Media, claiming the company participated in 'bait-and-switch' tactics by charging users for the hardware, then monetizing the streaming of content. The suit notes that Sling does not own the rights to the programming into which they are inserting advertisements.

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Class Action Against Sling Media Filed

7/19/2015 10:58pm
New submitter DewDude writes: In case you missed it; Sling Media has been forcing advertisements in to video streams from Slingbox devices unless you pay for a client application; which is only an option for Apple, Android, and Windows 8 devices. Well, it appears as the issue will now head to the courts as two plaintiffs have filed a class action suit against Sling Media, which claims they participated in 'bait-and-switch' tactics by charging users for the hardware, then monetizing the streaming of that content. The suit also makes the point that Sling does not own the rights to the programming they are inserting advertisements in.

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Windows 10 Will Have Screen Recording Tool

7/19/2015 8:30pm
Mark Wilson writes: Windows 10 has not even been released yet, but that's a perfect reason to start unearthing a few secrets. Over the coming weeks and months there will undoubtedly be an endless stream of tips, tricks, and tweaks to try out, but how's this for starters? Windows 10 has a secret screen recording tool that can be used to capture on-screen activity as a video file. Taking a static screenshot is very simple. You can either hit the Print Screen key, use the Snipping Tool, or turn to one of the countless screen capture tools out there — many of which are free. When it comes to capturing video, however, it's something of a different story. Before you splash out on a dedicated tool such as Camtasia, you might want to try out Windows 10's hidden tool. It's designed for gamers really, but anyone can use it. The Game bar is a toolbar which Microsoft meant for gamers to use to capture screenshots of their high scores, as well as video footage of their gaming skills. Despite the name, it is not limited to use within games

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Is Advertising Morally Justifiable? The Importance of Protecting Our Attention

7/19/2015 7:20pm
theodp writes: With Is Advertising Morally Justifiable?, philosopher Thomas Wells is out to change the way you think about Google and its ilk. Wells says: "Advertising is a natural resource extraction industry, like a fishery. Its business is the harvest and sale of human attention. We are the fish and we are not consulted. Two problems result from this. The solution to both requires legal recognition of the property rights of human beings over our attention. First, advertising imposes costs on individuals without permission or compensation. It extracts our precious attention and emits toxic by-products, such as the sale of our personal information to dodgy third parties. Second, you may have noticed that the world's fisheries are not in great shape. They are a standard example for explaining the theoretical concept of a tragedy of the commons, where rational maximising behaviour by individual harvesters leads to the unsustainable overexploitation of a resource. Expensively trained human attention is the fuel of twenty-first century capitalism. We are allowing a single industry to slash and burn vast amounts of this productive resource in search of a quick buck."

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US Wins Math Olympiad For First Time In 21 Years

7/19/2015 6:16pm
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. won the International Mathematical Olympiad for the first time in 21 years. Gender diversity is brought up in this NPR article because the eight team members on the U.S. team were all male, but they made a point to mention that of the top 12 people participating in the U.S. Math Olympiad, 2 are female, which is better than last year when there were no females in the top 12. "I will say that it's not really a super-great spectator sport, in the sense that if you are watching them, it will look like they are thinking," Po-Shen Loh, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and head coach for Team USA says. "Although I will assure you that inside their heads, if you could spectate, that would be quite a sport."

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Company Aims To Launch Spacecraft On Beams of Microwaves

7/19/2015 5:10pm
MarkWhittington writes: The quest for cheap access to space, to make space travel as inexpensive as air travel, has eluded engineers, government policy makers, and business entrepreneurs from before the beginning of the space age. It has become axiomatic, almost to the point of being a cliché, that the true space age will not begin until launch costs come down significantly. Forbes reported about a company called Escape Dynamics that has a unique approach to the problem. The company proposes to launch payloads into low Earth orbit on beams of microwaves.

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Internet Dating Scams Target Older American Women

7/19/2015 4:03pm
HughPickens.com writes: The NYT reports: "Janet N. Cook, a church secretary in Virginia, had been a widow for a decade when she joined an Internet dating site and was quickly overcome by a rush of emails, phone calls and plans for a face-to-face visit. "I'm not stupid, but I was totally naïve," says Cook, now 76, who was swept off her feet by a man who called himself Kelvin Wells and described himself as a middle-aged German businessman looking for someone "confident" and "outspoken" to travel with him to places like Italy, his "dream destination." But very soon he began describing various troubles, including being hospitalized in Ghana, where he had gone on business, and asked Cook to bail him out. In all, she sent him nearly $300,000, as he apparently followed a well-honed script that online criminals use to bilk members of dating sites out of tens of millions of dollars a year." According to the Times internet scammers are targeting women in their 50s and 60s, often retired and living alone, who say that the email and phone wooing forms a bond that may not be physical but that is intense and enveloping. Between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2014, nearly 6,000 people registered complaints of such confidence fraud with losses of $82.3 million, according to the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center. Older people are ideal targets because they often have accumulated savings over a lifetime, own their homes and are susceptible to being deceived by someone intent on fraud. The digital version of the romance con is now sufficiently widespread that AARP's Fraud Watch Network has urged online dating sites to institute more safeguards to protect against such fraud. The AARP network recommends that dating site members use Google's "search by image" to see if the suitor's picture appears on other sites with different names. If an email from "a potential suitor seems suspicious, cut and paste it into Google and see if the words pop up on any romance scam sites," the network advised. The website romancescams.org lists red flags to look for to identify such predators, who urgently appeal to victims for money to cover financial setbacks like unexpected fines, money lost to robbery or unpaid wages. Most victims say they are embarrassed to admit what happened, and they fear that revealing it will bring derision from their family and friends, who will question their judgment and even their ability to handle their own financial affairs."It makes me sound so stupid, but he would be calling me in the evening and at night. It felt so real. We had plans to go to the Bahamas and to Bermuda together," says Louise Brown. "When I found out it was a scam, I felt so betrayed. I kept it secret from my family for two years, but it's an awful thing to carry around. But later I sent him a message and said I forgave him."

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Berkeley Breathed Revives Bloom County Comic Strip After 25 Years

7/19/2015 3:57pm
cold fjord writes: Just as it was needed then, it is needed now (more than ever). NPR reports, "Fans of the well-loved comic strip Bloom County are celebrating ... cartoonist Berkeley Breathed issued the first panels of his satirical strip in decades. Breathed won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on Bloom County back in 1987; two years later, he quit producing it. ... It's unclear whether Breathed will syndicate his new work in newspapers; he recently recalled how an editorial dispute with a publisher had a direct role in his decision to quit cartooning in 2008. His Facebook postings, Breathed said earlier this month, are "nicely out of reach of nervous newspaper editors, the PC humor police now rampant across the web ... and ISIS." When Bloom County went idle in 1989, it was one of several clever and inventive comic strips, such as Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side, that were beloved by fans and yet were also comparatively short-lived. Today, devoted fans are treating its return as a small miracle." — The Washington Post adds, ""Honestly, I was unprepared for it," Breathed tells me of the public outpouring. "It calls for a bit of introspection about how characters can work with readers and how they're now absent as a unifying element with a society. "There is no media that will allow a Charlie Brown or a Snoopy to become a universal and shared joy each morning at the same moment across the country," Breathed continues. 'Maybe the rather marked response to my character's return is a reflection of that loss. A last gasp of a passing era.'"

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Bitcoin Exempt From VAT Says European Court of Justice

7/19/2015 2:52pm
An anonymous reader writes: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) proposes that Bitcoin should be exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT). This news has been positively received by the Bitcoin community in the EU, as member states are not likely going to apply VAT to purchases and sales of Bitcoin. A clear cut argument brought up by Advocate General Juliane Kokott, was that VAT is commonly applied to goods and services which have an end consumer. Bitcoin is neither a good, nor a service and has no end consumer, as Bitcoins are eternally transferable just like normal currency. Bitcoin exchanges such as Coinbase, Kraken, Bitstamp, and Bitfinex will all benefit from this ruling, which may lead to other countries across the globe to follow a similar approach.

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Emotionally Aware Apps That Respond To Feelings Are On the Horizon

7/19/2015 1:47pm
bigwophh writes: Machine learning has helped a multitude of different technologies become a reality, including emotion-detection. Most examples to date have been rather simple, such as being able to detect a smile or a frown. But with today's super-fast computers, and even mobile devices, we're now able to detect emotion with far greater accuracy and nuance. Facial recognition expert Rana el Kaliouby recently gave a talk at TED to highlight just how accurate emotion-detection has become, and depending on your perspective, the result is either amazing, or downright scary. To accurately detect someone's emotion, Rana's software detects eight different factors, which include frowning, showing disgust, engaged, and raised eyebrows, among other things. Through research with this software, a couple of interesting factoids are revealed. In the United States, women are 40% more likely to smile than men. But the technology is ultimately destined for software that will detect the user's emotion and react accordingly.

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