SternisheFan sends this excerpt from a JPL news release: "NASA's Cassini spacecraft has obtained the highest-resolution movie yet of a unique six-sided jet stream, known as the hexagon, around Saturn's north pole. This is the first hexagon movie of its kind (GIF), using color filters, and the first to show a complete view of the top of Saturn down to about 70 degrees latitude. Spanning about 20,000 miles (30,000 kilometers) across, the hexagon is a wavy jet stream of 200-mile-per-hour winds (about 322 kilometers per hour) with a massive, rotating storm at the center. There is no weather feature exactly, consistently like this anywhere else in the solar system. 'The hexagon is just a current of air, and weather features out there that share similarities to this are notoriously turbulent and unstable,' said Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. 'A hurricane on Earth typically lasts a week, but this has been here for decades — and who knows — maybe centuries.'"
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Taco Cowboy writes "NASA's WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) satellite was looking at a distant galaxy, some 3.8 billion light-years away, and saw something rather unusual. At first they thought that they saw a galaxy was forming new stars at a furious rate, but upon closer checking, they found that they were seeing two supermassive black holes spiraling closer and closer to each other. The dance of this black hole duo started out slowly, with the objects circling each other at a distance of about a few thousand light-years. As the black holes continued to spiral in toward each other, they were separated by just a few light-years. Supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies typically shoot out pencil-straight jets, but in this case, the jet showed a zig-zag pattern. According to the scientists, a second massive black hole could, in essence, be pushing its weight around to change the shape of the other black hole's jet. Visible-light spectral data from the Gemini South telescope in Chile showed similar signs of abnormalities, thought to be the result of one black hole causing disk material surrounding the other black hole to clump. Together, these and other signs point to what is probably a fairly close-knit set of circling black holes, though the scientists can't say for sure how much distance separates them."
An anonymous reader writes "D-Link has released firmware patches for a number of its older routers sporting a critical authentication security bypass vulnerability discovered in October. The flaw was discovered and its exploitability proved with a PoC by Tactical Network Solutions' security researcher Craig Heffner. D-Link confirmed the existence of the problem a few weeks later."
Charliemopps writes "For 20 years the password for the U.S. nuclear arsenal was '00000000.' Kennedy instituted a security system on all nuclear warheads to prevent them from being armed by someone unauthorized. It was called PAL, and promised to secure the entire US arsenal around the world. Unfortunately for Kennedy (and I guess, the whole world) U.S. military leadership was more concerned about delaying a launch than securing Armageddon. They technically obeyed the order but then set the password to 8 Zeros, or '00000000'."
An anonymous reader writes "Intel's open-source Linux graphics driver is now running neck-and-neck with the Windows 8.1 driver for OpenGL performance between the competing platforms when using the latest drivers for each platform. The NVIDIA driver has long been able to run at similar speeds between Windows and Linux given the common code-base, but the Intel Linux driver is completely separate from their Windows driver due to being open-source and complying with the Linux DRM and Mesa infrastructure. The Intel Linux driver is still trailing the Windows OpenGL driver in supporting OpenGL4."
hypnosec writes "Bitcoin miners are being integrated with third party potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) that come bundled with legitimate applications. These miners surreptitiously carry out Bitcoin mining operations on the user's system consuming valuable CPU time without explicitly asking for user's consent. Malwarebytes, the company which found evidence of these miners, first came across such an instance of a Bitcoin miner when one of the users of its software requested for assistance on November 22 through a forum post. The user revealed that 'jh1d.exe' was taking up over 50 percent of the CPU resource and even after manual deletion the executable was re-appearing. Malwarebytes dug deeper into this and found traces of a miner 'jhProtominer,' a popular mining software that runs via the command line". However, it seems that the company behind the application has a specific clause 3 in EULA that talks about mathematical calculations similar to Bitcoin mining operation. This means that the company behind the software can and will install Bitcoin miners and use system resources to perform operations as required to mine Bitcoins and keep the rewards for themselves."
Bennett Haselton has in years previous made some canny suggestions for tech-oriented holiday gifts; you can look forward to another one. Today, though, Bennett writes about one cool toy in particular: a kit to make your own creepy robot: "For over 20 years, Dutch inventor Theo Jansen has been building truck-sized sculptures that crab-walk eerily across the beach, using only the power of the wind to turn fan blades that power the gears and crankshafts and enable the walking motion. This kit allows you to assemble your own working model that 'walks' sideways across your desktop." Read on for the rest.
theodp writes " I hope my father dies soon," Dilbert creator Scott Adams wrote Saturday in a frustrated, angry, and poignant blog post. 'My father, age 86, is on the final approach to the long dirt nap (to use his own phrase). His mind is 98% gone, and all he has left is hours or possibly months of hideous unpleasantness in a hospital bed. I'll spare you the details, but it's as close to a living Hell as you can get. If my dad were a cat, we would have put him to sleep long ago. And not once would we have looked back and thought too soon. Because it's not too soon. It's far too late. His smallish estate pays about $8,000 per month to keep him in this state of perpetual suffering. Rarely has money been so poorly spent. I'd like to proactively end his suffering and let him go out with some dignity. But my government says I can't make that decision. Neither can his doctors. So, for all practical purposes, the government is torturing my father until he dies.' Adams also had harsh words for those who would oppose assisted suicide, 'I don't want anyone to misconstrue this post as satire or exaggeration. So I'll reiterate. If you have acted, or plan to act, in a way that keeps doctor-assisted suicide illegal, I see you as an accomplice in torturing my father, and perhaps me as well someday. I want you to die a painful death, and soon. And I'd be happy to tell you the same thing to your face.' His father passed a few hours after Adams wrote his screed. Challenged later by the SF Chronicle's Debra J. Saunders, an opponent of assisted suicide, Adams stood firm on his earlier words. So, can Adams succeed in convincing the U.S. where Dr. Jack failed?"
An anonymous reader writes "DragonFlyBSD 3.6 was released [Monday] with the big new features being dports, Intel and AMD Radeon KMS kernel graphics drivers, major SMP improvements, and improved language support. Dports is the new package management system based upon the FreeBSD Ports collection and replaces pkgsrc as the default; over 20k packages are available via dports. Major SMP scaling improvements come via reducing lock contention within the kernel and other multi-core enhancements. The Intel and Radeon graphics drivers on DragonFlyBSD were ported from the FreeBSD kernel, which in turn were ported from the upstream Linux kernel."
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at Fraunhofer FKIE, Germany have presented a paper on covert acoustical communications between laptop computers. In their paper 'On Covert Acoustical Mesh Networks in Air', they describe how acoustical communication can be used to secretly bridge air gaps between computers and connect computers and networks that are thought to be completely isolated from each other. By using ad-hoc routing protocols, they are able to build up a complete mesh network of infected computers that leaks data over multiple hops. A multi-hop acoustical keylogger is also presented where keystrokes are forwarded to an attacker over multiple hops between different office rooms. The fundamental part of the communication system is a piece of software that has originally been developed for acoustic underwater communications. The researchers also provide different countermeasures against malicious participation in a covert acoustical network. The limitations of air gaps have been discussed recently in the context of a highly advanced malware, although reports on this so-called badBIOS malware could not yet be confirmed."
jones_supa writes "Kdenlive's project leader Jean-Baptiste Mardelle, who always used to let people know if he was going to be away for a couple of days, seems to have just disappeared. His last e-mail and blog post were in early July and they didn't suggest any problems. While there's many Kdenlive fans out there for the KDE-focused open-source video editor, it seems new development efforts around the project have ceased. Also the Kdenlive Git repository hasn't seen any new commits (aside from the automated l10n daemon script) since early July. There has been also people in KDE forums and Kdenlive developers' mailing list pondering about the status of the project, being left none the wiser."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Joseph Stromberg writes at the Smithsonian that one afternoon in October 2005, neuroscientist James Fallon was sifting through thousands of PET scans to find anatomical patterns in the brain that correlated with psychopathic tendencies in the real world. 'Out of serendipity, I was also doing a study on Alzheimer's and as part of that, had brain scans from me and everyone in my family right on my desk,' writes Fallon. 'I got to the bottom of the stack, and saw this scan that was obviously pathological.' When he looked up the code, he was greeted by an unsettling revelation: the psychopathic brain pictured in the scan was his own. When he underwent a series of genetic tests, he got more bad news. 'I had all these high-risk alleles for aggression, violence and low empathy,' he says, such as a variant of the MAO-A gene that has been linked with aggressive behavior. It wasn't entirely a shock to Fallon, as he'd always been aware that he was someone especially motivated by power and manipulating others. Additionally, his family line included seven alleged murderers, including Lizzie Borden, infamously accused of killing her father and stepmother in 1892. Many of us would hide this discovery and never tell a soul, out of fear or embarrassment of being labeled a psychopath. Perhaps because boldness and disinhibition are noted psychopathic tendencies, Fallon has gone in the opposite direction, telling the world about his finding in a TED Talk, an NPR interview and now a new book published last month, The Psychopath Inside. 'Since finding all this out and looking into it, I've made an effort to try to change my behavior,' says Fallon. 'I've more consciously been doing things that are considered "the right thing to do," and thinking more about other people's feelings.'"
linuxwrangler writes "San Francisco Bay Area commuters awoke this morning to the news that BART, the major regional transit system which carries hundreds of thousands of daily riders, was entirely shut down due to a computer failure. Commuters stood stranded at stations and traffic backed up as residents took to the roads. The system has returned to service and BART says the outage resulted from a botched software upgrade."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Help Net Security: "Stuxnet, the malware that rocket the security world and the first recorded cyber weapon, has an older and more complex 'sibling' that was also aimed at disrupting the functioning of Iran's uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, but whose modus operandi was different. The claim was made by well-known German control system security expert and consultant Ralph Langner, who has been analyzing Stuxnet since the moment its existence was first discovered. He pointed out that in order to known how to secure industrial control systems, we need to know what actually happened, and in order to do that, we need to understand all the layers of the attack (IT, ICS, and physical), and be acquainted with the actual situation of all these layers as they were at the time of the attack."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "No man is an island, but evolutionarily, each person functions like one for the HIV virus. That's according to Thomas Leitner, a researcher working on a project aimed at creating technology for tracking HIV through a population. The technology, which is being studied at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, may allow people to identify who infected them with the virus, a development that could have major implications in criminal proceedings. "If you're familiar with Darwin's finches, you have a population of birds on one island and they keep moving and evolving as they spread to other islands so that each population is a little different," Leitner said. "With HIV, it's the same. Every person infected with HIV has a slightly different form of the virus. It's the ultimate chameleon because it evolves this way.""
An anonymous reader writes "Plans to start up the EU's first global satellite navigation system (GNSS) built under civilian control, entirely independent of other navigation systems and yet interoperable with them, were approved by MEPs on Wednesday. Both parts of this global system — Galileo and EGNOS — will offer citizens a European alternative to America's GPS or Russia's Glonass signals. The Galileo system could be used in areas such as road safety, fee collection, traffic and parking management, fleet management, emergency call, goods tracking and tracing, online booking, safety of shipping, digital tachographs, animal transport, agricultural planning and environmental protection to drive growth and make citizens' lives easier."
puddingebola writes "Toyota has announced plans for a fuel cell powered car at the Tokyo Motor show. From the article, 'Satoshi Ogiso, the Toyota Motor Corp. executive in charge of fuel cells, said Wednesday the vehicle is not just for leasing to officials and celebrities but will be an everyday car for ordinary consumers, widely available at dealers. "Development is going very smoothly," he told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the Tokyo Motor Show. The car will go on sale in Japan in 2015 and within a year later in Europe and U.S."'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Brad Lendon reports at CNN that 29 satellites, the most ever launched at one time, will be aboard a single Minotaur I rocket scheduled to lift off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Tuesday night at 7:30 pm. The main payload will be the Air Force's Space Test Program Satellite-3, plus 28 tiny satellites called CubeSats about 4 inches on each side, weighing about 3 pounds and with a volume of about a quart. The cubesats will include Ho`oponopono-2 from the University of Hawaii to continue a long-existing radar calibration service for the 80 plus C-band radar tracking stations distributed around the world. It will also have CAPE-2 from the Cajun Advanced Picosatellite Experiment, to give students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette the opportunity to research, design, develop, and maintain a low earth orbiting satellite, and SwampSat from the University of Florida to advance the TRL (Technology Readiness Level) of CMGs (Control Moment Gyroscopes) appropriate for smallsats. Among the CubeSats is the TJ3Sat, the first satellite made by high-schoolers to go into space, built by the students of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. It will give students and other amateur radio users the opportunity to send and receive data from the satellite. Approved text strings will be transmitted to the satellite, and the resulting voice interpretation will be relayed back to Earth over an amateur radio frequency using the onboard Stensat radio. Orbital says the 29 satellites should achieve orbit in a little less than 12½ minutes after the rocket ignites. NASA says the launch may be visible from northern Florida to southern Canada and as far west as Indiana. Live coverage of the launch is available via UStream beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST on launch day."
jones_supa writes "During the first day of the latest virtual Ubuntu Developer Summit, Canonical developers finally plotted out the enabling of TRIM/DISCARD support by default for solid-state drives on Ubuntu 14.04. Ubuntu developers aren't looking to enable discard at the file-system level since it can slow down delete operations, so instead they're wanting to have their own cron job that routinely runs fstrim for TRIMing the system. In the past there has been talk about the TRIM implementation being unoptimized in the kernel. Around when Linux 3.0 was released, OpenSUSE noted that the kernel performs TRIM to a single range, instead of vectorized list of TRIM ranges, which is what the specification calls for. In some scenarios this results in lowered performance."