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Drone Believed To Have Hit British Airways Flight 'May Have Been a Plastic Bag'

4/22/2016 12:00pm
Reader schwit1 writes: The drone that reportedly hit a British Airways jet earlier this week may have actually been a plastic bag, a minister has said. Transport minister Robert Goodwill admitted authorities had not yet confirmed whether what struck the Airbus A320 was a remote-controlled device. The collision on Sunday night is believed to have been at around 1,700 ft near Richmond Park in south west London, over four times higher than the legal height limit. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating, alongside the Metropolitan Police. But following his comments today, Mr Goodwill also dismissed calls for tighter rules on drone use to protect against terror threats insisting current rules governing drone use were strong enough.From a Quartz report: Motherboard's Jason Koebler dove into the data the FAA released last August dove into the data the FAA released last August, and found that, among other things, "a 'large vulture,' a 'fast moving gray object,' a 'mini blimp,' a 'red UAS or balloon,' and 'a UFO' were all classified as drones in the FAA's report." This led him to decide that, when it comes to verifiable sightings -- even from trained pilots -- "drones are the new UFOs."

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Core Windows Utility Can Be Used To Bypass Whitelisting

4/22/2016 11:20am
Reader msm1267 writes: A core Windows command-line utility, Regsvr32, used to register DLLs to the Windows Registry can be abused to run remote code from the Internet, bypassing whitelisting protections such as Microsoft's AppLocker. A researcher who requested anonymity found and recently privately disclosed the issue to Microsoft. It's unknown whether Microsoft will patch this issue with a security bulletin, or in a future release. Regsvr32, also known as Microsoft Register Server, is a Microsoft-signed binary that runs as default on Windows. The researcher's proof-of-concept allows him to download and run JavaScript or VBScript from a URL provided via the command line. "There's really no patch for this; it's not an exploit. It's just using the tool in an unorthodox manner. It's a bypass, an evasion tactic," the researcher said.The Register reports: "It's built-in remote code execution without admin rights and which bypasses Windows whitelisting. I'd say it's pretty bad," said Alex Ionescu, a Windows and ARM kernel guru. The trick -- Smith didn't want to call it an exploit -- is neat because it does not touch the Registry, does not need administrator rights, can be wrapped up in an encrypted HTTP session, and should leave no trace on disk as it's a pure to-memory download. No patch exists for this, although regsvr32 can be firewalled off from the internet. Microsoft was not available for immediate comment.

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Microsoft, Google Agree To Stop Complaining To Regulators About Each Other

4/22/2016 10:40am
An anonymous reader shares an article on Recode: Microsoft and Google say they have recently reached an agreement under which they will drop pending regulatory complaints against one another across the globe. The two have also agreed that they will try to work among themselves to settle any future issues before running to regulators. "Microsoft has agreed to withdraw its regulatory complaints against Google, reflecting our changing legal priorities," a Microsoft representative said in a statement to Re/code. âoeWe will continue to focus on competing vigorously for business and for customers." Google, meanwhile, offered up a similar statement, affirming that it too will withdraw any regulatory complaints it has made. âoeOur companies compete vigorously, but we want to do so on the merits of our products, not in legal proceedings."Also from the report, "The timing is interesting, coming just as European regulators charge that Google is abusing its position in the Android market. However, both sides say the deal was in the works for some time."

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UK Intel Agencies Have Been Spying on Millions of People 'Of No Security Interest' Since 1990s

4/22/2016 10:00am
The UK's intelligence agencies such as MI5, MI6, and GCHQ have been collecting personal information from citizens who are "unlikely to be of intelligence or security interest" since the 1990s, a thousand pages of documents published on Thursday revealed. The documents were published as a result of a lawsuit filed by Privacy International, a UK-based registered charity that defends and promotes the right to privacy across the world. According to the documents, GCHQ and others have been collecting bulk personal data sets since 1998 under the provisions of section 94 of the Telecommunications Act 1984. J.M. Porup, reports for Ars Technica: These records can be "anything from your private medical records, your correspondence with your doctor or lawyer, even what petitions you have signed, your financial data, and commercial activities," Privacy International legal officer Millie Graham Wood said in a statement. "The information revealed by this disclosure shows the staggering extent to which the intelligence agencies hoover up our data." Nor, it seems, are BPDs only being used to investigate terrorism and serious crime; they can and are used to protect Britain's "economic well-being" -- including preventing pirate copies of Harry Potter books from leaking before their release date. The so-called "Bulk Personal Datasets," or BPDs are so powerful, in fact, that the normally toothless UK parliament watchdog that oversees intelligence gathering, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), recommended in February that "Class Bulk Personal Dataset warrants are removed from the new legislation." These data sets are so large and collect so much information so indiscriminately that they even include information on dead people.

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Pro-Clinton Super PAC Caught Spending $1 Million On Social Media Trolls

4/22/2016 9:03am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from US Uncut: A Super PAC headed by a longtime Clinton operative is spending $1 million to hire online trolls to "correct" Bernie Sanders' supporters on social media. Correct The Record (CTR), which is operated by Clinton attack dog and new owner of Blue Nation Review David Brock, launched a new initiative this week called "Barrier Breakers 2016" for the purpose of debating supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders -- or "Bernie Bros," as they're referred to in Correct the Record's press official release -- on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms. The "Barrier Breakers" will also publicly thank Hillary Clinton's superdelegates and fans for supporting her campaign. The paid trolls are professional communicators, coming from public relations and media backgrounds. "The task force staff's backgrounds are as diverse as the community they will be engaging with and include former reporters, bloggers, public affairs specialists, designers, Ready for Hillary alumni, and Hillary super fans who have led groups similar to those with which the task force will organize," CTR stated.

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Turns Out That Snaps Are Not Secure In Ubuntu With X11

4/22/2016 6:00am
prisoninmate quotes a report from Softpedia: According to Matthew Garrett, a renowned CoreOS security developer, and Linux kernel contributor, Canonical's new snap package format is not secure at all when it is used under X.Org Server (X Window System), which, for now, it is still the default display server of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system. The fact of the matter is that X11's old design is well-known for being insecure, and Matthew Garrett took the time to demonstrate this by writing a simple snap package that can steal data from any other X11 software, in this case anything you type on the Mozilla Firefox web browser. As more developers will provide snaps for their apps, Canonical needs to do something about the security of snaps in Ubuntu when using X11 or switch to the Mir display server. In the meantime, the security of snaps remains unaffected for the Ubuntu Server operating system, which is usually used without a display server. Canonical has officially released Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, which is now available to download for those interested.

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Photos Show The Lingering Radioactivity At Chernobyl And Fukushima

4/22/2016 3:01am
mdsolar quotes a report from Mashable: In areas of Russia and Japan that have been decontaminated by the government, allowing for people to move back, life has tried to continue but evidence of radiation remains. Greg McNevin, a photographer working with the environmental group Greenpeace, set out to visualize the radiation that persists in many of these areas. The resulting project juxtaposes radiation data onto long exposure photographs from the affected regions. Using a programmable LED rod that when connected to a Geiger counter (a device that measures ambient radiation) translates the analog signal into a light display, McNevin walked through long exposure photographs he was taking of affected areas, showcasing the live radiation data his counter was reading.

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NASA Gives Solar Ionic Propulsion A Monster Boost

4/22/2016 12:31am
coondoggie quotes a report from Network World: NASA this week took a giant step toward using solar electric power for future space missions by awarding a $67 million contract to Aerojet Rocketdyne to develop an advanced electric propulsion system. Network World writes, "Specifically, Aerojet Rocketdyne will develop and deliver an integrated electric propulsion system -- known as the Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) -- consisting of a thruster, power processing unit (PPU), low-pressure xenon flow controller, and electrical harness. Such a system would deploy large solar arrays that can be used to convert sunlight into electrical power that ionizes atoms of xenon which is the propellant for the spacecraftâ(TM)s thrusters. In addition, such a power plant could potentially increase spaceflight fuel efficiency by 10 times over current chemical propulsion technology and more than double thrust capability compared to current electric propulsion systems, NASA said." NASA's plan is to use this propulsion system on its future Asteroid Redirect Mission, as well as on its mission to Mars.

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Hearing Aid Business Under Pressure From Consumer Electronics

4/21/2016 9:59pm
HughPickens.com writes: There's good news for aging Americans who may have damaged their hearing by attending one too many rock concerts when they were young. Andrew Pollack writes at the NYT that the consumer electronics industry is encroaching on the hearing aid business, offering products that are far less expensive and available without the involvement of audiologists or other professionals. The new devices are forcing a re-examination of the entire system for providing hearing aids, which critics say is too costly and cumbersome, hindering access to devices vital for the growing legions of older Americans. "The audiology profession is obviously scared, for good reason, right now," says Abram Bailey. Hearing aids cost an average of nearly $2,400 each, or close to $5,000 a pair, according to a White House advisory group, and Medicare does not pay for them, nor do most insurers. By contrast, the consumer devices are not regulated and sell for a few hundred dollars apiece, at most. Hearing aid manufacturers say that diagnosing and treating hearing loss is too complex for consumers to do using consumer devices, without the aid of a professional. But sound amplifiers have been around for years and they are growing in sophistication, taking advantage of signal processing chips developed for phones, Bluetooth headsets and computers. The devices include the Smart Listening System from Soundhawk, which sells at $400 for a single ear; the Bean from Etymotic Research, at $300; the CS50+ from Sound World Solutions at $350; and the Crystal Ear from NeutronicEar, at $545. "To me it was a reasonable investment to experiment with," says Ira Dolich, 81, who bought the Soundhawk device, which he can adjust by himself using his smartphone. "I've been pretty pleased with it," he said.

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A New AMD Licensing Deal Could Create More x86 Rivals For Intel

4/21/2016 9:15pm
angry tapir quotes a report from PCWorld: AMD has announced a plan to license the design of its top-of-the-line server processor to a newly formed Chinese company, creating a brand-new rival for Intel. AMD is licensing its x86 processor and system-on-chip technology to a company called THATIC (Tianjin Haiguang Advanced Technology Investment Co. Ltd.), a joint venture between AMD and a consortium of public and private Chinese companies. AMD is providing all the technology needed for THATIC to make a server chip, including the CPUs, interconnects and controllers. THATIC will be able to make variants of the x86 chips for different types of servers. AMD is much smaller than Intel, and licensing offers it an easy way to expand the installed base of AMD technology. The resource-strapped company will also generate licensing revenue in the process, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

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Elon Musk Plans To Solve Traffic Congestion With Self-Driving Buses

4/21/2016 8:33pm
An anonymous reader writes: Elon Musk believes self-driving buses are the answer to solving traffic congestion and mass transit in densely populated cities. Musk has teased the idea while at a transportation conference in Norway, according to Bloomberg. "We have an idea for something which is not exactly a bus but would solve the density problem for inner city situations." he said. "Autonomous vehicles are key... I don't want to talk too much about it. I have to be careful what I say." Elon Musk released the Model X last year with semi-autonomous Autopilot mode, and most recently, announced the "budget-friendly" Model 3 with similar autonomous functionality. There's no question autonomous vehicles are the future. "I very much agree with solving the high-density transport problem," Musk said in Norway. "There's a new type of car or vehicle that would be great for that and that'll actually take people to their final destination and not just the bus stop." The Hyperloop is another example of Elon's vision to revolutionize transportation.

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Google Search Will Soon Include Live TV Listings

4/21/2016 7:49pm
An anonymous reader writes: Google announced users will soon see live TV listings within their search results. Fortune writes, "Pretty soon, you will be able to Google the name of a television show or movie and see live air times for that content within the search results." The announcement was made at the National Association of Broadcasters conference. "What we're seeing is that more and more, viewers are turning to their phones to find out what to watch, where to watch it and when it's available -- in fact, searches for TV shows and films on mobile have grown more than 55% in the past year alone," Google said in a blog post announcing the new feature. Google Search users will have the option of clicking an "edit provider" link that will allow them to enter their specific cable provider when they search for the name of a TV show or movie. There's no specific date for when the feature will be launching, just that it will be launching "soon."

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Solar Impulse 2 Takes Off From Hawaii To California With No Fuel

4/21/2016 7:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: After stalling on the island of Oahu for almost 10 months, the Solar Impulse 2 continues its journey to fly across the world with no fuel. Today, it took off from Hawaii to California piloted by Swiss explorer and psychiatrist Bertrand Piccard. Since the plane travels at about the same speed as a car, it'll take 62 hours to complete the flight across the Pacific to the San Francisco Bay area, some 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) away. The pilots and team call this test "the moment of truth," as they've experienced weather delays slowing down the progress. It was originally scheduled to land in Abu Dhabi, where it started its journey in March 2015, by the end of last summer. The plane had to be grounded for nine months while the batteries were being fixed. Now the Solar Impulse 2 has new batteries, a new cooling system that can be manually operated by the pilot, and $20 million in fresh funding to keep the mission up and running, according to CNN.

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RIP Prince, A Legendary Musician With A Complicated Internet History

4/21/2016 6:23pm
alphadogg writes: Reflecting on the popular musician's uneasy relationship with the Internet and social media upon the 57-year-old surprising death. In 2010, Prince "famously shuttered his LotusFlow3r.com website," proclaiming that "The Internet is completely over... All these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you." In 2014, The Guardian ran a story titled "Prince quits the Internet," after the singer deleted his social media accounts. He filed a lawsuit against his fans, which was later dropped, for sharing bootlegged copies of his music online. He even banned fans from taking smartphone photos at his concerts in 2013. Prince did seem to open up to the Internet to some degree in the past couple years. Prince's HTNRUN album was posted on Jay Z's Tidal music site last year. In Silicon Valley, Prince is being remembered as a social innovator and a passionate advocate for Black youth," inspiring YesWeCode, Van Jones' initiative to teach 100,000 low-income kids to write code, and hackathons across the country to expose kids in underserved communities to computer science. Bob Brown from Networkworld writes, "News of Prince's death Thursday briefly crashed the TMZ news site. From there, fans flocked to the Internet and social media to mourn this music star who did his darnedest to stay off the grid." RIP Prince.

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FBI Paid More Than $1 Million For San Bernardino 'Hack'

4/21/2016 5:43pm
An anonymous reader writes: FBI Director James Comey has indicated the bureau paid more than $1 million for the method used to hack into the iPhone 5c belonging to one of the San Bernadino shooters. How did he allude to it? He said the FBI paid more money than he would make in the time left as FBI director. He makes just under $200,000 a year based on public files and has over seven years left on his term. "How much did you pay for this software?" Comey was asked. "A lot," he said. "More -- let's see. More than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months, for sure," Comey said. "And so it's a -- but it was in my view, worth it, because it's a tool that helps us with a 5c running iOS 9, which is a bit of a corner case, increasingly as the devices develop and move on to the 6 and 6s and whatnot and iOS's change, but I think it's very, very important that we get into that device." Comey said.

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Is the $400 Billion F-35's 'Brain' Broken?

4/21/2016 5:00pm
Zachary Cohen, reporting for CNN News: Almost 2,500 of the world's most advanced warplanes, with a total price tag of $400 billion, and they may not have a "brain" in the bunch? That's the fear of federal watchdogs who say problems with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's complex logistics software system could lead to a grounding of the entire fleet, not to mention future cost increases and schedule delays. Documenting risks to the F-35's Autonomic Logistics Information System, which Department of Defense officials have described as the "brains" of the fifth-generation fighter, an April 14 Government Accountability Office report says a failure "could take the entire fleet offline," (PDF) in part, due to the lack of a backup system. The report also outlines concerns related to the lack of testing done to ensure the software will work properly by the time the Air Force plans to declare its version of the aircraft ready for deployment this August and the Navy reaches that milestone in 2018. The Marine Corps declared the first squadron of its F-35 variant ready for combat in July 2015, with the intention of upgrading and resolving the software issues before its first planned deployment in 2017.

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Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Available To Download; Mozilla To Offer 0-Day Firefox Releases Via Snaps

4/21/2016 4:13pm
Reader prisoninmate writes: The latest, and hopefully, the greatest version of Ubuntu is now available to download. On the sidelines, Mozilla today announced the availability of future releases of its popular Firefox web browser in the snap package format for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. Earlier today, Canonical unleashed the final release of the highly anticipated Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, bringing users a great set of new features and improvements. Also today, it looks like Canonical has renewed its partnership with Mozilla to offer Firefox as the default web browser on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and upcoming releases of the Linux kernel-based operating systems. As part of the new partnership, Mozilla is committed to distributing future versions of Firefox as a snap package. Having Firefox distributed in the snap format means that you'll have 0-day releases in Ubuntu 16.04. Yes, just like Windows and Mac OS X, users are enjoying their 0-day releases of Mozilla Firefox and don't have to wait for package maintainers of a particular GNU/Linux distribution to update the software in the main repositories. For Mozilla, having Firefox as a snap package means that they'll be able to continually optimize it for Ubuntu.

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VC, Entrepreneur Says Basic Income Would Work Even If 90% People 'Smoked Pot' and Didn't Work

4/21/2016 3:33pm
An anonymous reader cites a story on TI: The chief complaint people lodge at universal basic income -- a form of income distribution that gives people money to cover basic needs regardless of whether they work or not -- is that it'll make them lazy. Sam Altman doesn't buy it. In a recent episode of the Freakonomics podcast, entitled "Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income?" Altman argued basic income could support huge amounts of productivity loss and still carry the economy on its shoulders. "Maybe 90% of people will go smoke pot and play video games, but if 10% of the people go create incredible new products and services and new wealth, that's still a huge net-win," Altman says. "And the American puritanical ideal that hard work for its own sake is valuable -- period -- and that you can't question that, I think that's just wrong." [...] The complaint Altman addressed on the Freakonomics podcast is a common one. Study after study, however, has shown that giving people extra money makes them feel financially secure. That security ends up leading to empowerment, not de-motivation.

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China Plans To Reach Mars by 2020 and Eventually Build a Moon Base

4/21/2016 2:50pm
Rebecca Harrington, writing for Tech Insider: China has plans to orbit the moon, land people on it, and eventually settle a moon colony. But that's just part of the nation's vision for space exploration: China intends to get a spacecraft to Mars by 2020. "Our long-term goal is to explore, land, and settle [on the moon]," Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's moon and Mars missions, told the BBC. "We want a manned lunar landing to stay for longer periods and establish a research base." Weiren didn't specify when the country plans to accomplish these goals, but he did say they will "check out" the far side of the moon before attempting to land astronauts there. This mission already has concrete plans. He also said China wants to reach Mars by 2020, and implied that the country has finally settled on a mission to send a rover to the Red Planet. "We will orbit Mars, land and deploy a rover -- all in one mission," Weiren told the BBC.

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Slashdot Asks: Is the Golden Era of Video-Game Console Sales Over?

4/21/2016 2:04pm
Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it has stopped producing Xbox 360, a gaming console it launched in 2005. According to estimations, the company sold more than 85 million Xbox 360 units worldwide. Quartz has an insightful story today, in which it compares the shipment numbers of Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, the current generation consoles, to conclude that the "golden era" of video-game console sales is over. According to estimations, citing data provided by Nintendo, CNET, GameSpot, and Giant Bomb, the crown for the most popular gaming console goes to the Sony PlayStation 2 (2000) with 155.1 million inventories shipped. Sony PlayStation (1994) saw the movement of 102.49 million units, whereas 101.63 million Nintendo Wii inventories were dispatched. In comparison, Sony has sold 35.9 million units of PlayStation 4 so far, and Microsoft has sold roughly 10 million Xbox One units. From Quartz's report: It does seem, to some degree, that the golden age of home video-game consoles may be over. The previous generation of consoles was the last generation that didn't have to contend for users' time with mobile games. And you could make a strong case that a large portion of the casual gaming audience that Nintendo attracted for the Wii was almost entirely wiped out by mobile gaming. After all, the Wii was released in 2006 -- a year before the iPhone launched. Nintendo's next console, the Wii U, has been the company's worst-selling of all time. The average consumer may now feel more inclined to just pick up their phone and play Candy Crush or Temple Run than to get up and swing a controller around. The home console's saving grace could well be virtual reality. Just about every major tech and video-games company is working on a VR headset -- apart from Nintendo, it seems -- and early reviews of Facebook's Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive headsets have reduced non-gamers to tears. None of the top 10 most popular games consoles of all time have been released in the last 10 years, and VR may well be what turns the slowing console market back around.What's your take on this?

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