posted 2 days ago on slashdot
colinneagle points out this article about how the Marines are using a Microsoft Kinect to build maps. A military contractor has come up with something that has the U.S. Marine Corps interested. The Augmented Reality Sand Table is currently being developed by the Army Research Laboratory and was on display at the Modern Day Marine Expo that recently took place on Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. The set-up is simple: a table-sized sandbox is rigged with a Microsoft Kinect video game motion sensor and an off-the-shelf projector. Using existing software, the sensor detects features in the sand and projects a realistic topographical map that corresponds to the layout, which can change in real time as observers move the sand around in the box. The setup can also project maps from Google Earth or other mapping and GPS systems, enabling units to visualize the exact terrain they'll be covering for exercises or operations. Eventually, they hope to add visual cues to help troops shape the sandbox to match the topography of a specified map. Eventually, the designers of the sandbox hope to involve remote bases or even international partners in conducting joint training and operations exercises. Future possibilities include large-scale models that could project over a gymnasium floor for a battalion briefing, and a smartphone version that could use a pocket-sized projector to turn any patch of dirt into an operational 3-D map.

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HughPickens.com writes Reuters reports that your medical information including names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes and billing information is worth 10 times more than your credit card number on the black market. Fraudsters use this data to create fake IDs to buy medical equipment or drugs that can be resold, or they combine a patient number with a false provider number and file made-up claims with insurers, according to experts who have investigated cyber attacks on healthcare organizations. Medical identity theft is often not immediately identified by a patient or their provider, giving criminals years to milk such credentials. That makes medical data more valuable than credit cards, which tend to be quickly canceled by banks once fraud is detected. Stolen health credentials can go for $10 each, about 10 or 20 times the value of a US credit card number says Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at PhishLabs, a cyber crime protection company. He obtained the data by monitoring underground exchanges where hackers sell the information. Plus "healthcare providers and hospitals are just some of the easiest networks to break into," says Jeff Horne. "When I've looked at hospitals, and when I've talked to other people inside of a breach, they are using very old legacy systems — Windows systems that are 10 plus years old that have not seen a patch."

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An anonymous reader writes "An evolutionary race between rival elements within the genomes of primates drove the evolution of complex regulatory networks that orchestrate the activity of genes in every cell of our bodies, reveals new research. The race was between mobile DNA sequences known as 'retrotransposons' (jumping genes) and the genes that have evolved to control them. Scientists at the University of California Santa Cruz, identified genes in humans that make repressor proteins to shut down specific jumping genes. "We have basically the same 20,000 protein-coding genes as a frog, yet our genome is much more complicated, with more layers of gene regulation. This study helps explain how that came about," said Sofie Salama, a research associate at the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute who led the study."

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An anonymous reader writes Lenovo has announced that it will be closing the acquisition deal of IBM's x86 server business on October 1. The closing purchase price is lower than the $2.3 billion announced in January because of a change in the valuation of inventory and deferred revenue liability, Lenovo said. Roughly $1.8 billion will be paid in cash and the remainder in stock. Lenovo says it had "big plans" for the enterprise market. "We will compete vigorously across every sector, using our manufacturing scale, and operational excellence to repeat the success we have had with PCs," the company added.

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cold fjord writes The Woodrow Wilson School reports, "If scientists want the public to trust their research suggestions, they may want to appear a bit 'warmer,' according to a new review published by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The review, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), shows that while Americans view scientists as competent, they are not entirely trusted. This may be because they are not perceived to be friendly or warm. In particular, Americans seem wary of researchers seeking grant funding and do not trust scientists pushing persuasive agendas. Instead, the public leans toward impartiality. 'Scientists have earned the respect of Americans but not necessarily their trust,' said lead author Susan Fiske, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology and professor of public affairs. 'But this gap can be filled by showing concern for humanity and the environment. Rather than persuading, scientists may better serve citizens by discussing, teaching and sharing information to convey trustworthy intentions.'"

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First time accepted submitter chasm22 writes EU Regulators are apparently set to accuse Apple and the Irish government of entering into several sweetheart deals that left Apple with lower taxes than what it legally owed. If the ruling is upheld, Apple could owe billions in back taxes. Interestingly, it seems that the Irish government would actually get the extra money and suffer little for its part in the scheme.

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Bismillah writes Google security researcher Michael 'lcamtuf' Zalewski says he's discovered a new remote code execution vulnerability in the Bash parser (CVE-2014-6278) that is essentially equivalent to the original Shellshock bug, and trival to exploit. "The first one likely permits remote code execution, but the attack would require a degree of expertise to carry out," Zalewski said. "The second one is essentially equivalent to the original flaw, trivially allowing remote code execution even on systems that deployed the fix for the initial bug," he added.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
drkim writes Kano Computing is a startup that plays in the learn-to-code space by adding a step-by-step, hand-holding layer atop the Raspberry Pi to make learning about computational thinking child's play. Kano has now shipped all the hardware kits in its first batch of crowdfunded orders and pre-orders. That's around 18,000 kits in all, co-founder Alex Klein confirmed to TechCrunch. The lion's share of the first batch of Kano kits — almost 13,000 kits — were ordered via its Kickstarter campaign last year, with a further 5,000 pre-orders taken via its website. The kits cost $99 (plus shipping) to crowdfunder backers, or around $160 (plus shipping) if pre-ordered on the Kano website. The company plans to focus on selling mainly via its own web channel from here on in, according to Alex.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes with this interesting story about what it's like to work at “Store Number 1,” the CIA's Starbucks. The new supervisor thought his idea was innocent enough. He wanted the baristas to write the names of customers on their cups to speed up lines and ease confusion, just like other Starbucks do around the world. But these aren't just any customers. They are regulars at the CIA Starbucks. "They could use the alias 'Polly-O string cheese' for all I care," said a food services supervisor at the Central Intelligence Agency, asking that his identity remain unpublished for security reasons. "But giving any name at all was making people — you know, the undercover agents — feel very uncomfortable. It just didn't work for this location."

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Jason Clenfield writes in Businessweek that tax returns show that a former video game champion and pachinko gambler who goes by the name CIS traded 1.7 trillion yen ($15 Billion) worth of Japanese equities in 2013 — about half of 1 percent of the value of all the share transactions done by individuals on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The 35-year-old day trader whose name means death in classical Japanese says he made 6 billion yen ($54 Million), after taxes, betting on Japanese stocks last year. The nickname is a holdover from his gaming days, when he used to crush foes in virtual wrestling rings and online fantasy worlds. "Games taught me to think fast and stay calm." CIS says he barely got his degree in mechanical engineering, having devoted most of college to the fantasy role-playing game Ultima Online. Holed up in his bedroom, he spent days on end roaming the game's virtual universe, stockpiling weapons, treasure and food. He calls this an early exercise in building and protecting assets. Wicked keyboard skills were a must. He memorized more than 100 key-stroke shortcuts — control-A to guzzle a healing potion or shift-S to draw a sword, for example — and he could dance between them without taking his eyes off the screen. "Some people can do it, some can't," he says with a shrug. But the game taught a bigger lesson: when to cut and run. "I was a pretty confident player, but just like in the real world, the more opponents you have, the worse your chances are," he says. "You lose nothing by running." That's how he now plays the stock market. CIS says he bets wrong four out of 10 times. The trick is to sell the losers fast while letting the winners ride. "Self-control is so important. You have to conserve your assets. That's what insulates you from the downturns and gives you the ammunition to make money."

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
MojoKid writes Over the past couple of years, drones have become popular enough to the point where a new release doesn't excite most people. But Nixie is different. It's a drone that you wear, like a bracelet. Whenever you need to let it soar, you give it a command to unwrap, power it up, and let it go. From the consumer standpoint, the most popular use for drones is to capture some amazing footage. But what if you want to be in that footage? That's where Nixie comes in. After "setting your camera free", the drone soars around you, keeping you in its frame.Nixie is powered by Intel's Edison kit, which is both small enough and affordable enough to fit inside such a small device.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes PBS' It's OK to be Smart made this interesting video showing us what is and isn't physically realistic or possible in the space battles we've watched on TV and the movies. From the article: "You're probably aware that most sci-fi space battles aren't realistic. The original Star Wars' Death Star scene was based on a World War II movie, for example. But have you wondered what it would really be like to duke it out in the void? PBS is more than happy to explain in its latest It's Okay To Be Smart video. As you'll see below, Newtonian physics would dictate battles that are more like Asteroids than the latest summer blockbuster. You'd need to thrust every time you wanted to change direction, and projectiles would trump lasers (which can't focus at long distances); you wouldn't hear any sound, either."

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
The Atlantic is running an article about how "smart" devices are starting to see everyday use in many people's home. The authors say this will fundamentally change the concept of what it means to own and control your possessions. Using smartphones as an example, they extrapolate this out to a future where many household items are dependent on software. Quoting: These phones come with all kinds of restrictions on their possible physical capabilities. You may not take them apart. Depending on the plan, not all software can be downloaded onto them, not every device can be tethered to them, and not every cell phone network can be tapped. "Owning" a phone is much more complex than owning a plunger. And if the big tech players building the wearable future, the Internet of things, self-driving cars, and anything else that links physical stuff to the network get their way, our relationship to ownership is about to undergo a wild transformation. They also suggest that planned obsolescence will become much more common. For example, take watches: a quality dumbwatch can last decades, but a smartwatch will be obsolete in a few years.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes "More than 30 people may be dead in a volcanic eruption in central Japan, the nation's second natural disaster in the past month. Nagano prefecture posted on its website that about 30 people had heart and lung failure, the customary way for Japanese authorities to describe a body until police doctors can examine it. At least four of the victims were being brought down from Mount Ontake on Sunday afternoon, one day after the volcano erupted."

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
New submitter jchevali writes: The BBC reports that mobile phone use on European flights is soon to be allowed. This follows official safety agency findings that their use on the aircraft really poses no risk. Details on the implementation and the timeline for changes will depend on each individual airline.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
StartsWithABang writes: The next great leap in human spaceflight is a manned mission to a world within our Solar System: most likely Mars. But if something went wrong along the journey — at launch, close to Earth, or en route — whether biological or mechanical, would there be any way to return to Earth? This article is a fun (and sobering) look at what the limits of physics and technology allow at present. If you're interested in a hard sci-fi, near-future look at how a catastrophic Mars mission might go, you should read an excellent novel called The Martian by Andy Weir.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes You may or may not remember this, but before the advent of reliable search engines, web listings used to be a popular way to organize the web. Yahoo had one of the more popular hierarchical website directories around. On Friday, as part of its on-going streamlining process, Yahoo announced that their 20-year-old web directory will be no more: "While we are still committed to connecting users with the information they're passionate about, our business has evolved and at the end of 2014 (December 31), we will retire the Yahoo Directory."

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes: "Ferris Jabr reports in Outside Magazine that every year, more than 500 Americans are struck by lightning. Roughly 90 percent of them will survive, but those survivors will be instantly, fundamentally altered in ways that still leave scientists scratching their heads. For example, Michael Utley was a successful stockbroker who often went skiing and windsurfing before he was struck by lightning. Today, at 62, he lives on disability insurance. "I don't work. I can't work. My memory's fried, and I don't have energy like I used to. I aged 30 years in a second." Lightning also dramatically altered Utley's personality. "It made me a mean, ornery son of a b****." Utley created a website devoted to educating people about preventing lightning injury and started regularly speaking at schools and doing guest spots on televised weather reports. Mary Ann Cooper, professor emerita at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is one of the few medical doctors who have attempted to investigate how lightning alters the brain's circuitry. According to Cooper, the evidence suggests lightning injuries are, for the most part, injuries to the brain, the nervous system, and the muscles. Lightning can ravage or kill cells, but it can also leave a trail of much subtler damage and Cooper and other researchers speculate that chronic issues are the result of lightning scrambling each individual survivor's unique internal circuitry (PDF). "Those who attempt to return to work often find they are unable to carry out their former functions and after a few weeks, when coworkers get weary of 'covering' for them, they either are put on disability (if they are lucky) or fired," she writes.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
Rambo Tribble writes: Researchers at the University of Rochester have developed a remarkably effective visual cloak using a relatively simple arrangement of optical lenses. The method is unique in that it uses off-the-shelf components and provides cloaking through the visible spectrum. Also, it works in 3-D. As one researcher put it, "This is the first device that we know of that can do three-dimensional, continuously multidirectional cloaking, which works for transmitting rays in the visible spectrum." Bonus: The article includes instructions to build your own.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
timothy writes: Kevin Bates showed off his tiny ("credit card sized") homebrewed game-playing rig at OSCON this summer. Not content with merely wallet sized, he's now squeezed enough display — three of them, lacking a curved display to wrap around the wrist — input sensors, and processing power (Atmega 328p) to play Tetris on a tiny, multi-segmented bracelet (video). Sure, there's been Tetris on watches before, but from large-budget companies, not — at least not that I've ever seen — from hackers. Bates' post gives some more technical details, too.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes "The Z-80 microprocessor has been around since 1976, and it was used in many computers at the beginning of the PC revolution. (For example, the TRS-80, Commodore 128, and ZX Spectrum.) Ken Shirriff has been working on reverse engineering the Z-80, and one of the things he noticed is that the data pins coming out of the chip are in seemingly random order: 4, 3, 5, 6, 2, 7, 0, 1. (And a +5V pin is stuck in the middle.) After careful study, he's come up with an explanation for this seemingly odd design. "The motivation behind splitting the data bus is to allow the chip to perform activities in parallel. For instance an instruction can be read from the data pins into the instruction logic at the same time that data is being copied between the ALU and registers. [B]ecause the Z-80 splits the data bus into multiple segments, only four data lines run to the lower right corner of the chip. And because the Z-80 was very tight for space, running additional lines would be undesirable. Next, the BIT instructions use instruction bits 3, 4, and 5 to select a particular bit. This was motivated by the instruction structure the Z-80 inherited from the 8080. Finally, the Z-80's ALU requires direct access to instruction bits 3, 4, and 5 to select the particular data bit. Putting these factors together, data pins 3, 4, and 5 are constrained to be in the lower right corner of the chip next to the ALU. This forces the data pins to be out of sequence, and that's why the Z-80 has out-of-order data pins."

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Over the past several days, we've been hearing reports about some amount of users noticing that their brand new iPhone 6 Plus is bending in their pockets. The pictures and videos shown so far have kicked off an investigation, and Consumer Reports has done one of the more scientific tests so far. They found that the iPhone 6 Plus takes 90 pounds of pressure before it permanently deforms. The normal iPhone 6 took even less: 70 lbs. They tested other phones as well: HTC One (M8): 70 lbs, LG G3: 130 lbs, iPhone 5: 130 lbs, Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 150 lbs. The Verge also did a report on how Apple torture-tests its devices before shipping them. Apple's standard is about 55 lbs of pressure, though it does so thousands of times before looking for bends. One analysis suggests that Apple's testing procedure only puts pressure on the middle of the phone, which doesn't sufficiently evaluate the weakened area where holes have been created for volume buttons. Consumer Reports' test presses on the middle of the device as well.

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An anonymous reader writes: In a blow to those working on open-source drivers, soft-mods for enhancing graphics cards, and the Chinese knock-offs of graphics cards, NVIDIA has begun signing and validating GPU firmware images. With the latest-generation Maxwell GPUs, not all engine functionality is being exposed unless the hardware detects the firmware image was signed by NVIDIA. This is a setback to the open-source Nouveau Linux graphics driver but they're working towards a solution where NVIDIA can provide signed, closed-source firmware images to the driver project for redistribution. Initially the lack of a signed firmware image will prevent some thermal-related bits from being programmed but with future hardware the list of requirements is expected to rise.

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SchrodingerZ writes: In November of this year, the 42nd Expedition to the International Space Station will launch, and the crew has decided to embrace their infamous number. NASA has released an image of the crew mimicking the movie poster for The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, a film released in 2005, based on a book with the same name by Douglas Adams. Commander Butch Wilmore stands in the center as protagonist Arthur Dent, flight engineer Elena Serova as hitchhiker Ford Prefect, flight engineer Alexander Samokutyayev as antagonist Humma Kavula, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti as Trillian, and flight engineers Terry Virts and Anton Shkaplerov as two-headed galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox. The robotic "Robonaut 2" also stands in the picture as Marvin the depressed android. Cristoforetti, ecstatic to be part of this mission stated, "Enjoy, don't panic and always know where your towel is!" Wilmore, Serova and Samokutyayev blasted off September 25th for Expedition 41, the rest of Expedition 42 will launch November 23rd.

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An anonymous reader writes: Japan's second highest volcano, Mount Ontake, erupted on Saturday, sending thick clouds of ash into the air. More than 250 hikers were in the area, and the ash and rocks left seven unconscious, eight injured, and all of them stranded. In video footage from the mountain, you can see the thick clouds overtaking hikers, blocking out the sun and coating them with ash. There have been no reports of lava flows, but flights in the area were forced to divert their routes. (Another video shows the ash clouds from the sky.)

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