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2020-04-02 17:02:53 UTC
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US air safety bods call it 'potentially catastrophic' if reboot directive not implemented
[...] The US Federal Aviation Administration has ordered Boeing 787 operators to switch their aircraft off and on every 51 days to prevent what it called "several potentially catastrophic failure scenarios" – including the crashing of onboard network switches.
The airworthiness directive[*], due to be enforced from later this month, orders airlines to power-cycle their B787s before the aircraft reaches the specified days of continuous power-on operation.
The power cycling is needed to prevent stale data from populating the aircraft's systems, a problem that has occurred on different 787 systems in the past.
[*] The link in the article from The Register was copied correctly, and points to https://ad.easa.europa.eu/ad/US-2020-06-14. The actual FAA Airworthiness Directive appears to be: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/03/23/2020-06092/airworthiness-directives-the-boeing-company-airplanes.
At least I can take comfort that software in aircraft is probably more reliable than software in automobiles.
(2019-07-25) Airbus A350 Software Bug Forces Airlines to Turn Planes Off and On Every 149 Hours
(2015-05-02) 787 Software Bug Can Shut Down Planes' Generators.
To protect governments as well as people's rights from coronavirus, we need to use tech as a scalpel, not a sledgehammer.
[...] Governments around the world are struggling to deal with the public health and economic challenges of coronavirus. While many have pointed to how authoritarian regimes exacerbated the pandemic, we've so far paid dangerously little attention to coronavirus's challenge to democracy.
In a democracy, citizens need to be able to vote, politicians to deliberate, and people to move about, meet, and act collectively. Democratic politics is a mixture of mass involvement and endless meetings. All this is hard when people can be infected with a potentially deadly virus if someone simply coughs nearby. The obvious answer might seem to be to move democracy to the internet, but some parts of democracy translate badly to an online world, while others are already being undermined by emergency powers (for example, Hungary's parliament just passed a law that allows the prime minister to rule by decree) and by the rise of digital surveillance.
[...] Democratic politics also happens in the streets, at political rallies, public meetings, and demonstrations. It is hard to see how such mass gatherings will return any time soon if they continue to be dangerous, or even banned, on grounds of public health.
[...] state efforts to fight the virus by tracking citizens might undermine democracy by concentrating power in the hands of an unaccountable authority. This might even happen from the bottom up. Citizens in fear of contagion might start liking the idea of ubiquitous and decentralized surveillance as a service, as evidenced by the popularity of coronavirus symptom-tracking apps in the UK and elsewhere.
[...] Some pundits argue that information technology is the answer to democracy's problems. There would be no risk of catching coronavirus if physical democracy became virtual.
[...] online voting systems, such as Voatz, which was used in the 2018 midterms in West Virginia, have critical security vulnerabilities. As cryptographer Matt Blaze says, many experts believe internet voting is a bad idea.
Online voting may one day provide the illusion of democracy while actually destroying it.
[...] In an email dated March 28, SpaceX told employees that all access to Zoom had been disabled with immediate effect.
"We understand that many of us were using this tool for conferences and meeting support," SpaceX said in the message. "Please use email, text or phone as alternate means of communication."
[...] NASA, one of SpaceX's biggest customers, also prohibits its employees from using Zoom, said Stephanie Schierholz, a spokeswoman for the U.S. space agency.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Boston office on Monday issued a warning about Zoom, telling users not to make meetings on the site public or share links widely after it received two reports of unidentified individuals invading school sessions, a phenomenon known as "zoombombing."
Also consider that one way to claim to have "end to end encryption" is to simply re-define the term. Zoom Meetings Aren't End-to-End Encrypted, Despite Misleading Marketing:
Zoom, the video conferencing service whose use has spiked amid the Covid-19 pandemic, claims to implement end-to-end encryption, widely understood as the most private form of internet communication, protecting conversations from all outside parties. In fact, Zoom is using its own definition of the term, one that lets Zoom itself access unencrypted video and audio from meetings.
With millions of people around the world working from home in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, business is booming for Zoom, bringing more attention on the company and its privacy practices, including a policy, later updated, that seemed to give the company permission to mine messages and files shared during meetings for the purpose of ad targeting.
Still, Zoom offers reliability, ease of use, and at least one very important security assurance: As long as you make sure everyone in a Zoom meeting connects using "computer audio" instead of calling in on a phone, the meeting is secured with end-to-end encryption, at least according to Zoom's website, its security white paper, and the user interface within the app. But despite this misleading marketing, the service actually does not support end-to-end encryption for video and audio content, at least as the term is commonly understood.
[...] Matthew Green, a cryptographer and computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University, points out that group video conferencing is difficult to encrypt end to end. That's because the service provider needs to detect who is talking to act like a switchboard, which allows it to only send a high-resolution videostream from the person who is talking at the moment, or who a user selects to the rest of the group, and to send low-resolution videostreams of other participants. This type of optimization is much easier if the service provider can see everything because it's unencrypted.
[...] "They're a little bit fuzzy about what's end-to-end encrypted," Green said of Zoom. "I think they're doing this in a slightly dishonest way. It would be nice if they just came clean."
The only feature of Zoom that does appear to be end-to-end encrypted is in-meeting text chat.
Be aware, too, of the potential for "zoombombing"; here is a selection of articles: 'Zoombombing': When Video Conferences Go Wrong, A Zoom Meeting For Women Of Color Was Hijacked By Trolls Shouting The N-Word , and Beware of 'ZoomBombing': screensharing filth to video calls.
(2020-03-28) Now That Everyone's Using Zoom, Here Are Some Privacy Risks You Need to Watch Out For
(2020-03-27) School Quits Video Calls After Naked Man â€˜Guessedâ€™ the Meeting Link
(2020-03-14) Student Privacy Laws Still Apply if Coronavirus Just Closed Your School
[...] We believe that ACM can help support research, discovery and learning during this time of crisis by opening the ACM Digital Library to all. For the next three months, there will be no fees assessed for accessing or downloading work published by ACM. We hope this will help researchers, practitioners and students maintain access to our publications as well as increasing visibility and awareness of ACM's journals, proceedings and magazines. Please be sure to inform your colleagues that the ACM DL is now open, and will continue that way through June 30, 2020.
[*] ACM is the Association for Computing Machinery
[...] a US-based international learned society for computing. It was founded in 1947, and is the world's largest scientific and educational computing society. The ACM is a non-profit professional membership group, claiming nearly 100,000 student and professional members as of 2019. Its headquarters are in New York City.
The ACM is an umbrella organization for academic and scholarly interests in computer science. Its motto is "Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession".
Their home page is located at http://acm.org/
According to a report from Reuters, Samsung Display will cease production of traditional LCD displays by the end of the year. The move comes as the company is apparently turning its full efforts away from traditional liquid crystal displays and towards the company's portfolio of quantum dot technology. Building off of the Reuters report, ZDNet is reporting that Samsung is dropping LCD production entirely – including its quantum dot-enhanced "QLED" LCDs – and that their retooled efforts will focus on QD-enhanced OLED displays. A decision with big ramifications for the traditional LCD market, this means that by the end of the year, the LCD market will be losing one of its bigger (and best-known) manufacturers.
As recently as last year, Samsung Display had two LCD production facilities in South Korea and another two LCD plants in China. Back in October, 2019, the company halted production [in] one of the South Korean factories, and now plans to suspend production of LCDs at the remaining three facilities due to the low profitability and oversupply of traditional LCDs.
Two of the big announcements out of CES this year were both mobile related: Intel and AMD announced they would be launching new gaming laptop processors into the market in the first half of this year. 45 W parts, also known as H-series in the business, provide the basis for productivity and gaming notebooks that use additional graphics to give some oomph. These systems span from thin and light with GPU requirements, through 'luggables' that are just about portable, all the way up to desktop replacement designs. Intel's newest 10th Gen H-Series are based on the Comet Lake family, the fifth iteration of Intel's 14nm Skylake designs, and they're going all the way up to 5.3 GHz*.
The new CPU list from Intel starts with the Core i9-10980HK at the top, with eight cores, sixteen threads, and all the focus is on that 5.3 GHz turbo frequency.
*This CPU can hit this frequency on two cores. However this has some specific requirements: the system needs to be within its secondary power limits, and Intel's Thermal Velocity Boost also needs to be turned on. The latter of which means that there has to be additional thermal headroom in the system, and that OEMs have designed for this and enabled it within the system. This allows the CPU to go from 5.1 GHz to 5.3 GHz. Every Intel Thermal Velocity Boost enabled CPU requires specific OEM support in order to get those extra two bins on the single core frequency.
The base frequency of this chip is 2.4 GHz, and it has a regular 45 W TDP (sustained power), which can be run in cTDP up mode for 65 W. Two other plus points on this chip is that it is unlocked, for when an OEM provides more thermal headroom, and it supports DDR4-2933, which is an upgrade over the previous generation. Intel's recommended PL2 (turbo power) for the Core i9 is 135 W, and Intel says the recommended 'Tau' is set to 56 seconds for the i9, and 28 seconds for all the other CPUs. OEMs don't often adhere to these values for notebooks, but they are provided as a guide. It does mean that in order to hit 5.3 GHz, the Core i9 is by default allowed to take 135 W across two cores, or 67.5 W per core. Even at 60W per core, you're looking at 50A of current per core... in a laptop.
Hot, or not?
A new law in Washington state restricting the use of facial-recognition technology is drawing praise from Microsoft but criticism from civil liberties advocates. The law requires state and local governments to get a warrant before using the tech in many instances and provides more public reporting of its use. In January of each year, judges who issue warrants for the use of technology must report the existence of the warrant, details about what it covers, which governmental entities requested it and the public spaces under surveillance.
Microsoft, which is headquartered in Washington state and makes facial-recognition technology, praised the law as a "significant breakthrough" in a polarized debate. Microsoft President Brad Smith said he viewed the bill's approach as both "necessary and pragmatic" to protect the public while respecting their rights.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington disagreed, saying the law allows the government to use racially biased facial recognition technology.
"We will continue to push for a moratorium to give historically targeted and marginalized communities, such as black and indigenous communities, an opportunity to decide not just how face-surveillance technology should be used, but if it should be used at all," said Jennifer Lee, ACLU of Washington technology and liberty project manager, in a statement.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
A Microsoft-funded investigation led by former US Attorney General Eric Holder determined that AnyVision's technology doesn't power mass surveillance in the West Bank. Nevertheless, Microsoft said it's divested itself of the AnyVision holding and won't be a minority stakeholder in any other facial recognition firms because it can't adequately oversee the companies that way.
[...] Last year, Microsoft hired Holder to investigate whether AnyVision violated Microsoft's ethics. An October report by NBC News said facial recognition technology created by AnyVision had been used in a secret military effort to conduct surveillance of Palestinians in the West Bank; AnyVision rejected the report's claim.
With this week marking the launch of AMD's Ryzen Mobile 4000 APUs and Intel's Comet Lake-H mobile CPUs, this week is essentially the kick-off point for the next generation of laptops. OEMs and vendors across the spectrum are gearing up to roll out new and updated laptops based on the latest silicon, as they set themselves up for the next year or so of laptop sales.
Not one to be left out, NVIDIA is also using this week's launches to roll out some new laptop graphics adapters, which partners will be pairing with those new Ryzen and Core processors. The company is also unveiling a rather important set of additions to their laptop technology portfolio, introducing new features to better manage laptop TDP allocations, and for the first time, the ability to have G-Sync in an Optimus-enabled laptop. Overall while this week is primarily focused on AMD and Intel, NVIDIA is making sure that they are giving partners (and consumers) something new for this generation of laptops.
First and foremost, NVIDIA is launching two new mobile graphics adapters this morning. The GeForce RTX 2080 Super and RTX 2070 Super, both of which were launched on the desktop last summer, are now coming to laptops. Like their desktop counterparts, the new adapters are based on NVIDIA's existing TU104 silicon, so there aren't any new GPUs to speak of today, but their launch gives OEMs additional options for dGPUs for their high-end gaming laptops.
As has been the case for NVIDIA throughout this generation, while the company doesn't have distinct, mobile-labeled SKUs, the new laptop parts do have their own set of specifications. Specifically, while the mobile parts have the same CUDA core counts and memory support as their desktop brethren, they have different clockspeed and TDP profiles, owing to the limitations of the laptop form factor. All told, the new Super parts are designed for 80W+ laptops, with the flagship RTX 2080 Super approved for 150W (or more) designs, as vendors get the option to push the adapter just about as hard as they think they can get away with in the luggable desktops we commonly see in the broader market for ultra high powered laptops.
For the second time in two years, the Marriott hotel empire has suffered a major data breach. This time, approximately 5.2 million guests have been affected.
The attack was carried out via third-party software that Marriott's hotel properties use to provide guest services, according to an online notice that Marriott posted on Tuesday. The cybercriminals were able to obtain the login credentials for this system used by two employees at a franchise property; from there, they were able to access a raft of guest information.
The stolen bounty includes everything cybercrooks would need to mount convincing spear-phishing campaigns: Full contact details (names, mailing addresses, email addresses and phone numbers); other personal data like company, gender and birthdays; Marriott's "Bonvoy" loyalty program account numbers and points balances (but not passwords or PINs); linked airline loyalty programs and numbers; and Marriott preferences such as stay/room preferences and language preferences.
Marriott said that the unauthorized access likely started in mid-January and continued for about a month and a half. Upon the hack's discovery at the end of February, the hotel chain disabled the compromised logins and started an investigation. It began notifying affected guests this week.
No payment card information, passport information, national IDs or driver's license numbers were caught up in the breach, according to the notice.
Marriott International said Tuesday that names, mailing addresses, loyalty account numbers and other personal information of an estimated 5.2 million guests may've been exposed in a data breach. This is the second major security incident to hit the hotel group in less than two years.
Marriott said it spotted that an "unexpected amount" of guest information may've been accessed at the end of February using the login credentials of two employees at a franchise property. The hotel group said information exposed may include names, addresses, emails, phone numbers and birthdays as well as loyalty account details and information like room preferences.
Marriott said the investigation is ongoing but that it doesn't believe credit card numbers, passport information or driver's license numbers were exposed.
[...] The company is sending emails to guests impacted by this latest breach and offering a year of free personal information monitoring.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
The efficient, low-water process could also help produce ethanol for hand sanitiser, which is in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an article published this week in the Journal of Cleaner Production, University of Sydney agronomist Associate Professor Daniel Tan with international and Australian colleagues have analysed the potential to produce bioethanol (biofuel) from the agave plant, a high-sugar succulent widely grown in Mexico to make the alcoholic drink tequila.
The agave plant is now being grown as a biofuel source on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland by MSF Sugar, and it promises some significant advantages over existing sources of bioethanol such as sugarcane and corn, Associate Professor Tan said.
"Agave is an environmentally friendly crop that we can grow to produce ethanol-based fuels and healthcare products," said Associate Professor Tan from the Sydney Institute of Agriculture.
"It can grow in semi-arid areas without irrigation; and it does not compete with food crops or put demands on limited water and fertiliser supplies. Agave is heat and drought tolerant and can survive Australia's hot summers."
-- submitted from IRC
Xiaoyu Yan, Kendall R. Corbin, Rachel A. Burton, Daniel K.Y. Tan. Agave: A promising feedstock for biofuels in the water-energy-food-environment (WEFE) nexus. Journal of Cleaner Production, 2020; 261: 121283 DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.121283
For almost a decade, the Internet Archive, an online library best known for its Internet Wayback Machine, has let users "borrow" scanned digital copies of books held in its warehouse. Until recently, users could only check out as many copies as the organization had physical copies. But last week, The Internet Archive announced it was eliminating that restriction, allowing an unlimited number of users to check out a book simultaneously. The Internet Archive calls this the National Emergency Library.
Initial media coverage of the service was strongly positive. The New Yorker declared it a "gift to readers everywhere." But as word of the new service spread, it triggered a backlash from authors and publishers.
"As a reminder, there is no author bailout, booksellers bailout, or publisher bailout," author Alexander Chee tweeted on Friday. "The Internet Archive's 'emergency' copyrights grab endangers many already in terrible danger."
"It is a tarted-up piracy site," wrote author James Gleick.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Normally, it takes pricey equipment and expertise to create an accurate 3D reconstruction of someone's face that's realistic and doesn't look creepy. Now, Carnegie Mellon University researchers have pulled off the feat using video recorded on an ordinary smartphone.
Using a smartphone to shoot a continuous video of the front and sides of the face generates a dense cloud of data. A two-step process developed by CMU's Robotics Institute uses that data, with some help from deep learning algorithms, to build a digital reconstruction of the face. The team's experiments show that their method can achieve sub-millimeter accuracy, outperforming other camera-based processes.
A digital face might be used to build an avatar for gaming or for virtual or augmented reality, and could also be used in animation, biometric identification and even medical procedures. An accurate 3D rendering of the face might also be useful in building customized surgical masks or respirators.
"Building a 3D reconstruction of the face has been an open problem in computer vision and graphics because people are very sensitive to the look of facial features," said Simon Lucey, an associate research professor in the Robotics Institute. "Even slight anomalies in the reconstructions can make the end result look unrealistic."
Laser scanners, structured light and multicamera studio setups can produce highly accurate scans of the face, but these specialized sensors are prohibitively expensive for most applications. CMU's newly developed method, however, requires only a smartphone.
[...] In addition to face reconstructions, the CMU team's methods might also be employed to capture the geometry of almost any object, Lucey said. Digital reconstructions of those objects can then be incorporated into animations or perhaps transmitted across the internet to sites where the objects could be duplicated with 3D printers.
Shubham Agrawal, Anuj Pahuja, Simon Lucey. High Accuracy Face Geometry Capture using a Smartphone Video, arxiv (PDF)
-- submitted from IRC
SpaceX has released the first edition of a Payload User's Guide for its Starship launch system, which consists of a Super Heavy first stage and the Starship upper stage. The six-page guide provides some basic information for potential customers to judge whether a launch vehicle meets their needs for getting payloads into space.
The new guide is notable because it details the lift capabilities of Starship in reusable mode, during which both the first and second stages reserve enough fuel to return to Earth. In this configuration, the rocket can deliver more than 100 metric tons to low-Earth orbit and 21 tons to geostationary transfer orbit.
The killer application, however, is the potential to refuel Starship in low-Earth orbit with other Starships, enabling transportation deeper into the Solar System for 100 tons or more. "The maximum mass-to-orbit assumes parking orbit propellant transfer, allowing for a substantial increase in payload mass," the document states. SpaceX has yet to demonstrate this technology—which has never been done on a large scale in orbit—but the company's engineers have been working on it for several years and partnered with NASA last summer.
The user's guide also provides information about the size of the payload fairing in the cargo configuration of the vehicle, with a width of 8 meters and an extended volume capable of encompassing payloads as long as 22 meters. This would be, by far, the largest usable payload volume for any rocket that exists today or is in development. For human flights of up to 100 people, according to the document, "The crew configuration of Starship includes private cabins, large common areas, centralized storage, solar storm shelters, and a viewing gallery."
Fluid dynamics is one of the most challenging areas of physics. Even with powerful computers and the use of simplifying assumptions, accurate simulations of fluid flow can be notoriously difficult to obtain. Researchers often need to predict the behavior of fluids in real-world applications, such as oil flowing through a pipeline. To make the problem easier, it has been common practice to assume that at the interface between the fluid and the solid boundary -- in this case, the pipe wall -- the fluid flows without slipping. However, the evidence to support this shortcut has been lacking. More recent research has shown the slippage can occur under certain circumstances, but the physical mechanism has remained mysterious.
Now, to more rigorously understand the origin of flow slippage, researchers at The University of Tokyo created an advanced mathematical model that includes the possibility of dissolved gas turning into bubbles on the pipe's inner surface.
"The no-slip boundary condition of liquid flow is one of the most fundamental assumptions in fluid dynamics," explains first author Yuji Kurotani. "However, there is no rigorous physical foundation for this condition, which ignores the effects of gas bubbles."
Yuji Kurotani, Hajime Tanaka, Yuji Kurotani et al. A novel physical mechanism of liquid flow slippage on a solid surface [open], Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz0504)
Ars Technica reports FCC requires anti-robocall tech after "voluntary" plan didn't work out:
The Federal Communications Commission [(FCC)] voted unanimously to finalize the anti-robocall order on March 31, 2020, complying with instructions the commission received from Congress. The order "requires all originating and terminating voice service providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN in the Internet Protocol (IP) portions of their networks by June 30, 2021, a deadline that is consistent with Congress's direction in the recently-enacted TRACED Act," the FCC said. As we wrote earlier, the FCC plans a one-year deadline extension for small phone providers. The FCC also voted to seek public comment on how "to promote caller ID authentication on voice networks that do not rely on IP technology," meaning older landline networks.
How much will this really help? Won't spammers just set up a series of offshore matryoshka doll shell companies and let the authorities play "cat and mouse" with their spam du jour tactics? Could it be this really and truly can block spam calls and thereby help the consumer?