VnutZ's Articles, Page 8 of 82

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07 Oct 15
Newspaper

Fantastic Fraud Opportunity

EMV – EuroPay, MasterCard, Visa – chip enabled credit cards offer an increase in security for cardholders over traditional magnetic stripe cards. Although they’ve been utilized overseas for years, the transition in the United States has lagged. As a matter of fact, the United States was supposed to have fully switched by 1 October 2015. Obviously, for anyone that’s tried, generally speaking American POS (point of sale) terminals generally are not supporting the new technology yet.

So how does this present a fantastic fraud opportunity? Basically it’s a matter of taking advantage of the weaker investigative element – the merchant. Before, when a cardholder claimed fraudulent charges, it’s generally been the credit card company responsible for the liability. But with the imposed deadline of 1 October 2015 putting the onus on merchants to utilize EMV chipped cards. Therefore, if a cardholder claimed fraudulent purchases are made, the credit companies will take the money from the merchants – thus … they don’t care. So go buy that big screen TV and kicking home theater audio system from a store far away from where you live. Just make sure to leave your cell phone at home, that there are magnetic stripe only POS terminals present, and no video cameras. Then claim your card was compromised. Enjoy.

07 Oct 15
Newspaper

US Airstrike Kills Doctors Without Borders

The United States conducted an airstrike with an AC-130 into Afghanistan as part of a joint campaign to retake Kunduz from the Taliban that killed 22 non-combatants. Army General Campbell indicated the Afghan forces under fire from the Taliban requested US air support against the hospital. At the same time, he admits America’s own rules of engagement may not have been followed explicitly in the incident which led to the deaths of many volunteers in Doctors Without Borders. Although President Obama has apologized for the killing, the aid organization has sought to invoke Article 90 of the Geneva Convention for an investigation of war crimes against the United States.

07 Oct 15
Newspaper

Neutrinos FTW

Takaaki Kajita and Arthur McDonald share the honor of 2015’s Physic’s Nobel Prize for their work regarding neutrinos “flipping”. Neutrinos come in three forms – electron, muon, and tau – each of which is so tiny they literally pass through all matter without interacting with it. To put that into perspective, according to a high energy physicist at the DoE, if you had a block of lead one light year in length, it would only stop half of the neutrinos flying through it! Returning to the Nobel Prize, the physicists’ work at the underground detector under Mount Kamioka and the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory revealed evidence the neutrinos were changing themselves between each of the three different neutrino types. This basically revealed why neutrinos were not behaving according to the calculations – they kept changing in energy and mass – and therefore quantum particle physics continues to defy the standard model.

07 Oct 15
Question

Can You Shoot Down A Drone On Your Property?

Private drone use is skyrocketing and the regulations surrounding their use is both limited and not widely known. While people are finding creative uses for drones in the form of photography and video, some of those applications are bordering on disruptive to others. They are certainly a safety problem with regards to airliners as FAA reports indicate the number of near strikes are rapidly increasing. (This YouTube video shows a drone strike against an aircraft winglet during a landing approach).

02 Oct 15
Newspaper

Mars Rover Cannot Investigate Recurring Slope Lineae

Recurring Slope Lineae (paywall) or RSL, are an indicator of previous or current liquid flows on Mars. Researchers are able to track the changes in RSL in Martian craters thanks to the Mars Global Surveyor. Obviously, the sites are of interest to send the rovers into for research into possible Martian biology. Buuuuut, by agreed upon international space agency conventions, that’s impossible because the only device that was “cleaned” to sterile standards was Viking, more than 40 years ago. Essentially, when Opportunity and Spirit were sent to Mars, it was decided that Martian life was so unlikely that it wasn’t worth the extra money to fully sterilize the spacecraft. Now, the concern is that exposing the possible biologics to Earth contaminants could potentially kill the very thing mankind has looked for.

01 Oct 15
Newspaper

Russian Military Action in Syria

Things in Syria are about to get a whole lot more saucy. Shortly after Putin declared Russia would become involved in Syria, military aircraft began conducting strikes. The key difference is that Russia has declared any force opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a terrorist element. Thus, Russian military forces are free to engage, in conjunction with Syrian forces, basically any rebel force whether ISIS or not. It will only be a matter of time before forces supported by the United States are destroyed by Russians.

29 Sep 15
Newspaper

Quantum Computer reaches 1000 Qubits

D-Wave released their first quantum computer in 2007 with only 16 qubits. While it looks like their projected 2008 machine missed its deadline by eight years, D-Wave just broke the 1000 qubit barrier in a machine upgrade delivered to Google. These past years have revealed a lot about the potential of quantum computers to include achieving huge performance gains without increasing the electrical power demand. The challenge, according to D-Wave, has been in how to build and integrate more qubits into the processor which are achieved through small superconducting loops. Working in tandem, the quantum computer tests specialized algorithms to reveal the most probable outcome of simultaneous chances.

23 Sep 15
Newspaper

VW Emissions Scandal

Volkswagen was caught redhanded falsifying emissions data for its diesel engines. In a nutshell, the vehicles determined a running condition that was likely to be occurring during an emissions test and altered the engine parameters in order to pass. Once back on the road, the vehicles resumed normal operation which essentially emitted 40% more pollutants (far exceeding the tested amount). Presently, the company is facing billions in fines while having to recall over half a million vehicles.

An interesting thing to ponder is that these emissions standards are only present in the United States. Although cheating the test is unethical, the diesel engines are certainly efficient and have powered VWs driven responsibly to more than 800 miles per tank. Are the standards in the United States simply too strict for their own good?

17 Sep 15
Newspaper

Student Arrested Over Clock

This particular story is rapidly filling up social media sites, generally in support and defense of young Ahmed. In summary, Ahmed Mohamed is a teenager that taught himself to build a clock using a micro controller and various electronic components. Proud of his work, Ahmed takes the clock to school to impress his teacher who quickly decides its a bomb and has Ahmed arrested.

On the one hand, do we prefer our educators erring massively on the side of caution with presumed apologies (none in this case have been offered) to follow? This would clearly be quite the media story had it actually been a bomb.

09 Sep 15
Cup

Interesting Space Observation

I was just browsing the Internet and came across this interesting story about discovering alien civilizations based on nuclear space holocaust. The Drake Equation gives an estimate on the probable number of alien civilizations throughout the universe. Extrapolating a bit on that, one could infer that nuclear technologies would be harnessed by some subset of those civilizations. Furthermore, either nuclear space disasters or interstellar nuclear wars might leave trace evidence that is detectable from Earth allowing us to identify their location.

09 Sep 15
Newspaper

Lexus Hoverboard

Lexus has gone and brought the hoverboard from Back to the Future II closer to reality. Their board weighs in at 25 pounds and features liquid nitrogen chilled superconducting blocks allowing for ten minutes of hover shenanigans. But how does it work? The superconductors allow the board to exploit the Meissner-Ochsenfeld effect to “push away” magnetic fields while also taking advantage of flux-pinning “lock” the board into a stable position. Basically, this is the same technology as the quantum locking demonstration from nearly half a decade ago. Just like the demonstration, the Lexus hoverboard can only work on a specially built track.

09 Sep 15
Newspaper

Reviving Ancient Viruses

Scientists are planning to reanimate a 30,000 year old virus from Siberia. The logic behind this move is that climate change is warming up areas where long forgotten or unknown diseases have been encased in the permafrost. As humans expand into Siberia for oil and resources, we should be prepared in advance for the illnesses that may come with the territory. This didn’t work out so well in the X-Files when the Russians stumbled upon the “Purity” (aka black oil) virus.

02 Sep 15
Newspaper

Developments in Spintronics

Modern digital electronics owe their simplicity to measuring an electron’s charge to determine either a 0 or 1 state. But that comes at a cost in terms of speed and power consumption. Spintronics is a similar manner of determining binary state but it uses the up or down spin of an electron as a discriminator. The technology has already been used in magnetic hard drives as a manner of using alternate physical materials, using less power, and measuring the state faster all as a means of increasing data density and throughput speeds. Now, the technology is under evaluation for use in MRAM and even CPU caches where it is hoped to achieve power efficiency savings upwards of 80%.

02 Sep 15
Newspaper

Cross Referencing Exposed Government Data

Almost two months ago, the Office of Personnel Management had its servers breached by Chinese hackers which subsequently exposed the personal information for nearly every government employee. The data is obviously a goldmine for nation state counter-intelligence units to cross reference against other collected data in a search for spies. The latest twist to the story is now leveraging the enormous Ashley Madison site leak in order to correlate government employees for blackmail opportunities. Employees were obviously infuriated by the lax security and the vastness of the breach. Perhaps more insultingly, OPM is offering identity protection through CSID – but a quick WHOIS query against CSID shows they’re hosted with Rackspace which has a data mirroring policy across it’s datacenters that includes China.

02 Sep 15
Question

Where is the Factory Diesel Wrangler

Rumors of a factory diesel engine for the Jeep Wrangler have been circulating since 2008, 2013, and early 2015. They’ve been available in overseas markets forever but have long been denied to American buyers. It’s shame, too, because the 3.0L eco-diesel is a potent powerplant that has already proven itself to meet US emissions standards so it’s lack of availability is simply a marketing decision slap in the face of the brand’s enthusiast base. In the meantime, owning a “diesel Jeep Wrangler in America” will continue to be limited to a small niche.

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