Articles, Page 23 of 207

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01 Jun 11
Question

Does the OpenOffice Debacle Reveal Danger in Open Source

Roughly two years ago, database giant Oracle purchased Sun and inherited a number of open source projects widely used across the community. Many folks within the community were immediately afraid of what would happen to open source projects like MySQL, Solaris, VirtualBox, OpenOffice and Java. Although Oracle did kill OpenSolaris, the others remained free and continued their development. There were, however, friction points between Oracle and the OpenOffice development community to the point the project was forked into LibreOffice. Apparently, the name OpenOffice will be lost because Oracle wouldn’t give the name back until they realized nobody cared about their stale unforked codebase.

01 Jun 11
Newspaper

Productivity Lost

iD Software released the source code to it’s popular ’90s game Doom back in 1997 and the first person shooter has been ported to numerous platforms ever since. Now you can play at work with nothing more than your web browser thanks to a javascript port. I think I already wasted a good 30 minutes playing at a whopping 9fps killing old-school demons and monsters. Good times.

31 May 11
Newspaper

Raised Stakes in State Sponsored Cyber Activity

The stakes are always changing in the state sponsored CNO (computer network operations) field. China has recently admitted to having built a dedicated military unit known as the Blue Army for defensive operations. A retired PLA general spoke to their skills by allusion, “It is just like ping-pong. We have more people playing it, so we are very good at it.” Despite the claims on defense, it is generally assumed to be related to their offensive operations which continue to be less and less clandestine (pdf). Symantec research indicates that nearly 30% of malware cases originate from within China

27 May 11
Newspaper

Obama & Congress Extends Patriot Act

The Patriot Act has certainly stirred the pot of controversy since it’s passing nearly a decade ago under the Bush Administration. From the Department of Justice (pdf):

Since its passage following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Patriot Act has played a key part – and often the leading role – in a number of successful operations to protect innocent Americans from the deadly plans of terrorists dedicated to destroying America and our way of life. While the results have been important, in passing the Patriot Act, Congress provided for only modest, incremental changes in the law. Congress simply took existing legal principles and retrofitted them to preserve the lives and liberty of the American people from the challenges posed by a global terrorist network.

27 May 11
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Electrons Are Spherical

Imperial College London scientists have recently unveiled the most accurate measurements taken of a single electron. Their analysis showed the electron is within 0.000000000000000000000000001 cm of being perfectly round. The measurements required precise ytterbium fluoride laser work to analyze the electron for wobble and movement.

Personally, my first thought was, “annnnnd this is important why?” but the article indicates understanding the exact shape of an electron is useful in the study of anti-matter when dealing with positrons.

26 May 11
Newspaper

Chinese Military Video Game Targets Americans

We’ve covered a topic like this before where the Medal of Honor video game let you play Taliban forces shooting Americans. Now there’s a new entry into the fray that elevates the question politically. Just recently the Chinese military has released a game called Glorious Revolution much like America’s Army for their soldiers to train in virtual tactics. The target of choice – America.

In the previous OmniNerd discussion, LordDilly commented that it was it’s just a way to differentiate one team from the other. While that makes pretty good sense where a commercial game is concerned it makes you wonder whether a state sponsored training application chose a target of convenience or is intentionally making a political statement.

20 May 11
Newspaper

Robots Learning to Communicate

The highly annoying C3-PO was fluent in more than 6 million forms of communication. Some Australian researchers are developing techniques for robots to learn language from each other. Very much like humans pointing and grunting, the robots are imaginatively “lost” and come up with a random term to describe their surroundings. When they encounter one another, they exchange their terms and indications of where they think that term belongs. As the robots continue to interact, they develop a correlation for one another’s assigned names for similar locations.

19 May 11
Newspaper

May 21st End Of The World?

Have you seen any of the May 21st Judgement Day advertisements lately? They’re the work of folks following Harold Camping who uses a little numerology to deduce that a five month cataclysm begins this Saturday. Of course, Harold’s been wrong before having predicted we would all be wiped out about seventeen years ago. Oops. Despite previous mistakes in his predictions, he has enough followers to report $18 million in donations to the IRS. Needless to say, as the date has drawn nearer, they’ve been posting billboards and driving end-of-the-world-vans around trying to convince everyone of their impending demise. Break out your barbecues on Friday for some apocalyptic tailgating!

19 May 11
Newspaper

CDC Releases Zombie Apocalypse Plan

Our wives have long complained the male obsession with zombie apocalypse plans were frivolous. Well, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has on it’s official .gov site a preparedness plan for preventing your death from a zombie outbreak. From the CDC:

If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine).

13 May 11
Newspaper

Side Channel Attack Against HFT

My opinion on Wall Street’s implementation of HFT is no secret to OmniNerds. A proof of concept hack has been demonstrated against HFT systems that is being dubbed a side-channel attack. The principle is very simple, and similar in practice to DoS, where an attacker introduces minor latencies into the network – not enough to disrupt it – to delay a trade’s execution by milliseconds. That creates a large enough window to squeeze in a competitive trade or one that negatively influences the value against which the delayed trade made its execution decision. It would be a virtually impossible vector to detect as the very essence of HFT is to be faster than the other guy making the injected trade seem like just another HFT system at play. Furthermore, the delays are so inconsequential and dispersed that efforts to actually detect them probably costs more than the affected loss. But to the criminal, those random pay-offs are easily worth it.

12 May 11
Cup

I Hate Wall Street Traders F*$&ing The Economy

So I’ve ranted and raved before about the idiocy of Wall Street’s activities creating false prices for oil. The specific take away is with regards to market making where “the purchasing whims of a single entity can have global impact on a product’s price – even when its not ‘real’ demand” and that single entity’s activity is exacerbated by market bandwagoning. Nearly three years ago today, strategists described the situation of 2008’s oil run up quite succinctly, “The guys who screwed up the mortgage markets are bringing their awesome skill sets to bear on physical commodity markets.”

12 May 11
Newspaper

Mythbusters: Self Propelled Sailboat

Last night, the Mythbusters tested the myth of propelling a sailboat with an on-board fan. At first, the myth seemed busted when the scale model sat still thanks to Newton’s Third Law. But, as is usual Mythbuster style, the team decided to ramp up the test to show that it didn’t matter how big the fan was, the boat would remain still – but it didn’t. Using a model plane engine followed by a model plane ducted fan jet, the Mythbusters were able to get their scaled contraptions moving (albeit inefficiently). This test was finally confirmed using a swamp boat with the fan turned backwards. On a windless day, blowing the 60+mph wind into their sail resulted in forward motion of about 3mph.

09 May 11
Newspaper

Military's Super Double Secret Squirrel Helicopter

During the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, one of the military’s helicopters was lost. While that normally wouldn’t be of much interest, speculators looking at the wreckage photographs have noticed it was something unusual. Aviation experts believe it was a heavily modified Blackhawk UH-60. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, “had this particular helicopter not crashed, we still would have no idea of its existence.” Many elements of its appearance bear similarity to technology found on the RAH-66 Comanche. First unveiled in 1995, the Comanche was canceled in 2004 to divert funds towards the National Guard and Reserve forces. The vehicle featured a number of technological breakthroughs with regards to making a stealth helicopter. Considering also the raid was a coordinated effort between the Navy SEALs and the CIA, helicopter technologies from the mythical CIA black helicopters may also have been at play.1

07 May 11
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Hydraulic Fracturing in Marcellus Shale: Energy Boom or Environmental Bust?

Open a newspaper in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, West Virginia and part of Virgina and you will likely find an article on the hydraulic fracturing that is used to drill these wells. Politicians see this as a new ‘Boom’, while environmental groups are calling for a moratorium on drilling. This article will explore the hydraulic fracturing process, the reason for the excitement over the Marcellus Shale region, the dangers involved, and the public reaction to the process.

06 May 11
Newspaper

Malware Expanding Its Horizons

The focus of malware authors used to be almost solely restricted to the Windows domain as the number of Microsoft systems vastly dwarfed any of its competitors. However, as the popularity of alternative platforms grows, the criminal return on targeting them increases. Only a few days ago, a kit emerged for miscreants to automatically develop malware binaries that take advantage of OS X users similar to the Zeus kit. Another attack against OS X machines came in the form of the highly polished Mac Defender trojan which portrays itself as a security tool finding all sorts of non-existent malware on a system in order to fool users into purchasing it (and giving away their credit card information). Lastly, a new botnet was discovered written in Java seemingly to make cross-platform ownership a reality.

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