Articles, Page 18 of 204
Every year, language purists must cringe at the new words added to the official English language. In previous years, words like “doh” from the Simpsons were given legimate status. This year, the Oxford English Dictionary has blessed off on roughly 400 new words to include video game parlance like “woot” (although many would claim it should be w00t spelled with zeroes).
Speaking of words, the University of Calgary in Canada performed a study on those rather keen to words – Scrabble players. Their experiment aimed to explore how the brain performs it’s pattern matching against words to determine whether they are real or not.
For those of you living under a rock that don’t know what a flash mob is, watch the embedded video that laughably makes the argument AT&T’s phone network is faster *cough* bullshit *cough*. Anyway, what seemed to have started as a social phenomena for amusement (see Improv Everywhere for example) has taken a turn for the worst. Borrowing on the youthful adage, “they can’t arrest all of us,” social forums are inspiring flash mobs to stir up riots, vandalism and theft. A recent flash mob in Maryland cleaned out a 7-Eleven in under a minute. Philadelphia imposed a 9:00pm curfew on teenagers in the wake of violence seemingly attached to flash mob behavior. What measures should authorities have to quell mob behavior?
The [R ]everse [E ]ngineers [D ]ream (RED) crew has released the source code to the SpyEye version 1.3.45 malware to the Internet masses. Normally known for created Warez cracks, RED obtained the code and patched it to eliminate the hardware matching logic used by the builder to tie the malware kit to a purchaser. Typically, a buyer paid $10K for a copy of the trojan but with this edition in the wild, many miscreants will be able to fork the malware’s techniques for their own nefarious purposes. The original SpyEye authors are already purported to have released version 1.3.48 with additional security measures. The malware is typically used for harvesting banking information and credentials for criminals to siphon money from victim’s accounts.
Generally speaking, large swaths of Americans believe the rich should be taxed more to make up for the government’s budget deficit. This is the general sentiment despite America’s rich already being in the highest income tax bracket owing 35% of their earnings to Uncle Sam. Interestingly, the rich tend not to actually pay nearly that much and often pay less [percentage] than the middle class. Warren Buffet recently weighed in on the matter wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times lambasting Congress for letting the rich get away with so much. He wrote that despite paying a seemingly astronomical $6,938,744 in taxes himself, that only equates to 17% – nearly 20% less than his bracket requires. Buffet goes on to out the true tax rates the super wealthy pay thanks to creative accounting and the ability to afford protective financial services.
The current retirement plan for active duty military is a pretty sweet deal with the ability to begin drawing a pension check as early as 37 years old for the rest of your life. If various congressmen have their way, however, that may soon change with a transition to a more corporate 401k type system. Proposals are in place to raise the number of years served required for vesting, requiring buy-in (401k~ish system), changing the minimum age to begin receiving payments, etc. These actions are being considered seriously primarily due to the pending $400 billion reduction to the defense budget. The proposed alteration is expected to reduce the defense budget by $254 billion over the next 20 years. Mitigations are also being planned to grandfather elements of the military into the old plan along with offering fractions of the older plan to those with enough years in their boots.
DARPA, the advanced research nerds of the military are set to push the envelope again with the second flight of their FALCON HTV-2. The first one flew in April of 2010 and while successful in many of its experiments, it did crash into the ocean after engaging its safety mechanisms due to a detected fault. The second flight, scheduled for 10 August 2011, features many improvements over the first and is expected to validate hypersonic technology flying at 13,000 miles per hour (roughly Mach 20).
In the dark hours on 6 August, an American CH-47 Chinook went down in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. The crash hails as the single largest loss of American life during offensive operations to date. All told, 30 passengers and crew died including Navy Seals, Aghan commandos, US Air Force personnel, a dog handler, a civilian interpreter and the crew. Confirmations have come from DoD that 17 of the Seals were from the famed Team 6 responsible for bin Laden’s death, though they weren’t necessarily the same Seals. Although the Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for downing the Chinook with an RPG, an official investigation is underway to determine if that was indeed the actual cause.
While the latest Christian flame war has been proceeding on ON I was contacted several times by the same scam group attempting to hack my computer. It was the usual heavy south Asian accent informing me that my computer was severely infested with viruses and was infecting many others in my vicinity. The transparency of this scam does not seem to have dawned on them yet, and they seem to have no way of crossing off a number after it has been called. It appears that everyone in the scam call center is going through the same list.
Two decades ago, the coolest thing you could do with a printer was make long banners. A decade later, printing photographs at home became easy. The current bleeding edge of printing involves 3D manufacturing and even electronics. University of Southampton engineers have taken 3D manufacturing printing to yet another level by printing a complete UAV that can be assembled in minutes and flown over 100mph. The method is called laser sintering where various pieces of nylon plastic can be cut and fused together through a laser printer. The end vehicle is over 2m in size and took only a week to design and “print”.
Dmitri Alperovitch, Vice President of McAfee’s Threat Research division, released a whitepaper detailing the activity of an intrusion set known as Shady RAT (pdf) spanning half a decade across the globe. McAfee researchers were able to obtain five years of implant activity logs from a C2 server whereupon they could analyze actions against 70+ global targets. Without pointing the finger at China, the origin was implied between the lines. Despite including government and defense contractors, the Shady RAT activity spanned such a broad reach of industry as to reveal the foreign actors intent to literally collect everything. Dmitri highlighted the targets even included anti-doping agencies and the Olympic Committee coincidentally during the last Summer Olympics, further evidencing the usage of the same intrusion tools for all susceptible targets.
I received en email from Energy Nation earlier this week urging me to take action against the new Environmental Protection Agency ozone standards. Doing a quick search shows they aren’t the only ones upset at the proposed legislation – and it’s possible they’re justifiably concerned. My point, though, isn’t to get into that. Instead, I want to gripe about their approach.
CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) regulations have regulated the fuel consumption of American vehicles since 1975. In 2009, President Obama had raised the bar on automotive manufacturers to achieve an average of 35.5mpg across their product lines by 2016. His latest announcement brings that requirement even higher. Beginning in 2017, each model year will be required to achieve a 5% increase over prior years until reaching a peak of 54.5mpg by 2025. Environmentalists were pushing for a 60mpg requirement while manufacturers countered their top selling pick-up trucks would need a longer development cycle to reach that goal. Ultimately, the 54.5mpg concession is predicted to cut America’s current oil dependency in half.
AptiQuant is a company that gives pyschometric assessments to employers about their applicants. They recently combed through their data for over 100K of their users to break down browser choice by measured IQ. It was found that users bound to IE6-9 were scraping IQs in the 80s (which rates as dullness and is barely above borderline deficiency). Middle of the road IQs were using Firefox, Chrome and Safari while the geniuses utilized Opera or Camino.
There are those who believe the key to time travel is being able to exceed the speed of light. Unfortunately for them, Professor Shengwang Du from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has proven such a feat is impossible.
“The results add to our understanding of how a single photon moves. They also confirm the upper bound on how fast information travels with light,” said Prof Du. “By showing that single photons cannot travel faster than the speed of light, our results bring a closure to the debate on the true speed of information carried by a single photon. Our findings will also likely have potential applications by giving scientists a better picture on the transmission of quantum information.”