Reader Required Snark writes: The Japanese space agency JAXA said its recently launched X-Ray observation satellite Hitomi has been destroyed. After a successful launch on February 17, contact with the satellite was lost on March 28. Off the 10-year expected life span, only three days of observations were collected. Preliminary inquiry points to multiple failures in design, hardware and software. After the launch it was discovered that the star tracker stabilization didn't work in a low magnetic flux area over the South Atlantic. When the backup gyroscopic spin stabilization took control, the spin increased instead of stopping. An internal magnetic limit feature in the gyroscope failed, causing the spin get worse. Finally, a thruster based control started, but because of a software failure the spin increased further. The solar panels broke off, leaving the satellite without a long-term power supply. It seems that untested software had been uploaded for thrust control just before the breakup. This is a major loss for astronomical research. Two previous attempts by Japan to launch a high-resolution X-ray calorimeter had also failed, and the next planned sensor of this type is not scheduled until 2028 by the ESA. Just building a replacement unit would take 3 to 5 years and cost $50 million, without the cost of a satellite or launch.
An anonymous reader writes: Developer Nick Lee has successfully installed Windows 95 on his Apple Watch. It works, but it runs very slow. For example, it takes about an hour for the OS to boot up. In a blog post, Lee points out the Apple Watch features specs capable of running the old OS. To get Windows 95 running on the Apple Watch, Lee had to modify Apple's development software in "rather unorthodox ways" that allowed him to turn the OS into a Watch app, which also emulates an environment for the OS to run on, he tells The Verge. To deal with the fact that Apple Watch's screen is always turning itself off when not in use, he set up a motorized tube that constantly turns the Watch's crown, preventing it from falling asleep. In addition, Lee altered the Watch's software to let Windows 95 track a single fingertip, hence the constant swiping in his video.
Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard: Earlier this week, it emerged that a section of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the UK's signal intelligence agency, had disclosed a serious vulnerability in Firefox to Mozilla. Now, GCHQ has said it helped fix nearly two dozen individual vulnerabilities in the past few months, including in highly popular pieces of software like iOS. "So far in 2016 GCHQ/CESG has disclosed more than 20 vulnerabilities across a number of software products," a GCHQ spokesperson told Motherboard in an email. CESG, or the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance, is the information security wing of GCHQ. Those issues include a kernel vulnerability in OS X El Captain v10.11.4, the latest version, that would allow arbitrary code execution, and two in iOS 9.3, one of which would have done largely the same thing, and the other could have let an application launch a denial of service attack.
An anonymous user writes: Microsoft has unveiled a new product called Microsoft Flow, which is designed to better connect diverse services so that you could, if you were so inclined, put all your tweets into a spreadsheet or get an SMS alert when you receive an email. That example may be a solution in search of a problem, but there are other more useful possibilities. Flow could be set up so that any email from your boss triggers an SMS notification to your phone, for example. Or you could make sure any updated work documents get deposited in your team's SharePoint. To be sure, Microsoft is not first to this app-integration party. Many people already use If This Then That (IFTTT) or Zapier, which claims more than 500 app integrations, to knit their services together.Some IFTTT users must be breathing a sigh of relief.
An anonymous reader cites an article on The Intercept (edited and condensed): The Supreme Court on Thursday approved changes that would make it easier for the FBI to hack into computers, many of them belonging to victims of cybercrime. The changes, which will take immediate effect in December unless Congress adopts competing legislation, would allow the FBI go hunting for anyone browsing the Internet anonymously in the U.S. with a single warrant. Previously, under the federal rules on criminal procedures, a magistrate judge couldn't approve a warrant request to search a computer remotely if the investigator didn't know where the computer was -- because it might be outside his or her jurisdiction. The rule change would allow a magistrate judge to issue a warrant to search or seize an electronic device if the target is using anonymity software like Tor."Unbelievable," said Edward Snowden. "FBI sneaks radical expansion of power through courts, avoiding public debate." Ahmed Ghappour, a visiting professor at University of California Hastings Law School, has described it as "possibly the broadest expansion of extraterritorial surveillance power since the FBI's inception."
An anonymous reader writes: The first router to feature IFTTT support is Google OnHub. IFTTT is an abbreviation of "If This Then That," a free web-based service that can allow users to create "recipes," which are triggered based on changes to other web services such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, etc. OnHub's smart features can now connect to the 300-plus programs and apps supported by IFTTT. Google provides some examples in its blog post. For example, you can automatically prioritize Wi-Fi to your Chromecast when it connects to your OnHub network after you plug it in to start binge watching your favorite TV show, or to your Nest Cam when it senses motion or sound after you've exhausted yourself from said binge watching and passed-out on your couch. There's a friendly little video Google put together to explain the feature in detail.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Microsoft has announced a big change for how the Cortana search box in Windows 10 will work going forward: all searches will be powered by Bing and all links will open with the Edge browser. This is a server-side change going into effect today. Once it takes effect on your Windows 10 computer, Cortana will no longer be able to serve up results from third-party search providers, like Google or Yahoo, nor take you to a third-party browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Ryan Gavin, Microsoft's general manager of search and Cortana, said in a Windows blog post announcing the change, "Unfortunately, as Windows 10 has grown in adoption and usage, we have seen some software programs circumvent the design of Windows 10 and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana. The result is a compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable. The continuity of these types of task completion scenarios is disrupted if Cortana can't depend on Bing as the search provider and Microsoft Edge as the browser. The only way we can confidently deliver this personalized, end-to-end search experience is through the integration of Cortana, Microsoft Edge and Bing -- all designed to do more for you."
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World discussing Nvidia's project called DAVE2, where their engineering team built a self-driving car with one camera, one Drive-PX embedded computer and only 72 hours of training data: Neural networks and image recognition applications such as self-driving cars have exploded recently for two reasons. First, Graphical Processing Units (GPU) used to render graphics in mobile phones became powerful and inexpensive. GPUs densely packed onto board-level supercomputers are very good at solving massively parallel neural network problems and are inexpensive enough for every AI researcher and software developer to buy. Second, large, labeled image datasets have become available to train massively parallel neural networks implemented on GPUs to see and perceive the world of objects captured by cameras. The Nvidia team trained a convolutional neural network (CNN) to map raw pixels from a single front-facing camera directly to steering commands. Nvidia's breakthrough is the autonomous vehicle automatically taught itself by watching how a human drove, the internal representations of the processing steps of seeing the road ahead and steering the autonomous vehicle without explicitly training it to detect features such as roads and lanes.
Reader alphadogg writes: Open source's march toward preeminence in business software continued over the past year, according to a survey released by open source management provider Black Duck Software and venture capital firm North Bridge. Roughly two-thirds of respondents to the survey -- which was administered online and drew 1,300 respondents -- said that their companies encouraged developers to contribute to open-source projects, and a similar proportion said that they were actively engaged in doing so already. That's a 5% increase from the previous year's survey.
An anonymous reader points us to a link on Quartz: On April 28, 2003, Apple started up a revolution. Enter the iTunes Music Store, unveiled with a proud flourish by a beaming Steve Jobs. It was a digital jukebox, a music distribution game-changer, a record store to end all record stores -- and it did, in fact, kill off a great number of those. [...] For 13 years -- 15 if you count the two years the program was just a file-storing service -- users have grumbled loudly about iTunes' unwieldy interface, its bloated features, its inability to simply get better. [...] Instead of trying to streamline the service over the years, Apple has opted to stuff an overwhelming number of new features -- movies, television shows, podcasts, mobile apps, and most recently, Apple Music -- into it.The report mentions the following issues with iTunes: space-sucking size, slowness, ugliness, bloatware, lack of online or social integration, a wonky back-end, music isn't even its priority. Marco Arment, who is best known for co-founding Tumblr, and creating Instapaper app, noted some development-end issues with iTunes in 2015. He wrote: [...] The iTunes Store back-end is a toxic hellstew of unreliability. Everything that touches the iTunes Store has a spotty record for me and almost every Mac owner I know. And the iTunes app itself is the toxic hellstew. iTunes has an impossible combination of tasks on its plate that cannot be done well. iTunes is the definition of cruft and technical debt. It was an early version of iTunes that demonstrated the first software bugs to Grace Hopper in 1946. Probably not coincidentally, some of iTunes' least reliable features are reliant on the iTunes Store back-end, including Genius from forever ago, iTunes Match more recently, and now, Apple Music.
An anonymous reader shares an article on Fortune Magazine: The popular Steam computer game network has started accepting bitcoin in a move aimed at making it easier for players in countries like Brazil and China to make payments. Bitcoin transactions will be integrated into game shopping from Steam, which is owned by Valve Software and claims over 100 million users worldwide. Users will be able to use any bitcoin wallet to scan and pay for games or other items without revealing sensitive financial information via software from Bitpay.
Reader wiredmikey writes: Security researchers at Cisco have come across a piece of software that installed backdoors on 12 million computers around the world. Researchers determined that the application, installed with administrator rights, was capable not only of downloading and installing other tools, such as a known scareware called System Healer, but also of harvesting personal information. The software, which exhibits adware and spyware capabilities, was developed by a French online advertising company called Tuto4PC. The "features" have led Cisco Talos to classify the Tuto4PC software as a "full backdoor capable of a multitude of undesirable functions on the victim machine." Tuto4PC said its network consisted of nearly 12 million PCs in 2014, which could explain why Cisco's systems detected the backdoor on 12 million devices. An analysis of a sample set revealed infections in the United States, Australia, Japan, Spain, the UK, France and New Zealand.Tuto4PC has received flak from many over the years, including French regulators.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A Philadelphia man suspected of possessing child pornography has been in jail for seven months and counting after being found in contempt of a court order demanding that he decrypt two password-protected hard drives. The suspect, a former Philadelphia Police Department sergeant, has not been charged with any child porn crimes. Instead, he remains indefinitely imprisoned in Philadelphia's Federal Detention Center for refusing to unlock two drives encrypted with Apple's FileVault software in a case that once again highlights the extent to which the authorities are going to crack encrypted devices. The man is to remain jailed "until such time that he fully complies" with the decryption order. The government successfully cited a 1789 law known as the All Writs Act to compel (PDF) the suspect to decrypt two hard drives it believes contain child pornography. The All Writs Act was the same law the Justice Department asserted in its legal battle with Apple.
Patrick O'Neill writes: Matt Edman is a cybersecurity expert who worked as a part-time employee at Tor Project, the nonprofit that builds Tor software and maintains the network, almost a decade ago. Since then, he's developed potent malware used by law enforcement to unmask Tor users. It's been wielded in multiple investigations by federal law-enforcement and U.S. intelligence agencies in several high-profile cases. The Tor Project has confirmed this report in a statement after being contacted by the Daily Dot, "It has come to out attention that Matt Edman, who worked with the Tor Project until 2009, subsequently was employed by a defense contractor working for the FBI to develop anti-Tor malware." Maybe Tor users will now be less likely to anonymously check Facebook each month...
archatheist shares a Reuters report: A nuclear power plant in Germany has been found to be infected with computer viruses, but they appear not to have posed a threat to the facility's operations because it is isolated from the Internet, the station's operator said on Tuesday. The Gundremmingen plant, located about 120 km (75 miles) northwest of Munich, is run by the German utility RWE. The viruses, which include "W32.Ramnit" and "Conficker", were discovered at Gundremmingen's B unit in a computer system retrofitted in 2008 with data visualization software associated with equipment for moving nuclear fuel rods, RWE said.
Nintendo has announced that its next gaming platform -- codenamed NX -- will launch worldwide in March 2017. "For our dedicated video game platform, Nintendo is currently developing a gaming platform codenamed 'NX' with a brand-new concept," the gaming console company said while announcing its annual results. PCWorld reports:Nintendo is placing big bets on NX. The company will continue to offer games for smartphone devices, a strategy it has started executing on, but its core business focus will be on what it describes as its "software-led hardware-software integrated business." [...] For the fiscal year ended March 31, the company sold 6.8 million units of the portable Nintendo 3DS hardware and over 48.5 million units of 3DS software. Global sales of the Wii U hardware and software were 3.26 million and 27.4 million units respectively.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fusion: Researchers at the University of California-Santa Barbara recently discovered a Waze vulnerability that allowed them to create thousands of "ghost drivers" that can monitor the drivers around them -- an exploit that could be used to track Waze users in real-time. Here's how the exploit works. Waze's servers communicate with phones using an SSL encrypted connection, a security precaution meant to ensure that Waze's computers are really talking to a Waze app on someone's smartphone. Zhao and his graduate students discovered they could intercept that communication by getting the phone to accept their own computer as a go-between in the connection. Once in between the phone and the Waze servers, they could reverse-engineer the Waze protocol, learning the language that the Waze app uses to talk to Waze's back-end app servers. With that knowledge in hand, the team was able to write a program that issued commands directly to Waze servers, allowing the researchers to populate the Waze system with thousands of "ghost cars" -- cars that could cause a fake traffic jam or, because Waze is a social app where drivers broadcast their locations, monitor all the drivers around them. You can read the full paper detailing the researchers' findings here. Is there a solution to not being tracked? Yes. If you're a Waze user, you can set the app to invisible mode. However, Waze turns off invisible mode every time you restart the app so beware.
An anonymous reader shares a TechCrunch report:Some of the biggest names in tech and corporate America, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, have teamed up with governors and educators to ask Congress to provide $250 million in federal funding to school districts in order to give every single K-12 student in the nation an opportunity to learn how to code. On the legislative side, these tech CEOs are joined by governors from both sides, including California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R). Earlier this year, President Barack Obama called for more than $4 billion in funding for states, and $100 million for districts in order to bring computer science curricula to every single K-12 student in the country. What this group of CEOs, governors and educators is asking for today is different. They're saying that this issue can be addressed without growing the federal budget. The petition reads:Not only does computer science provide every student foundational knowledge, it also leads to the highest-paying, fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. economy. There are currently over 500,000 open computing jobs, in every sector, from manufacturing to banking, from agriculture to healthcare, but only 50,000 computer science graduates a year. Whether a student aspires to be a software engineer, or if she just wants a well-rounded education in today's changing world, access to computer science in school is an economic imperative for our nation to remain competitive. And with the growing threat of cyber warfare, this is even a critical matter of national security. Despite this growing need, targeted federal funding to carry out these efforts in classrooms is virtually non-existent. This bipartisan issue can be addressed without growing the federal budget.
An anonymous reader writes: Google has updated Gmail for Android with a very notable feature: support for Microsoft Exchange. You can download the latest version of the app from Google Play (if you don't see it, don't worry: Google says the gradual rollout may take three or more days). The company had actually released this feature a few months ago, but at the time, it was only available for Nexus devices. With the new update, Google is making the feature available to a wider audience. "Exchange support was previously only available on our Nexus devices, but as of today, Exchange support covers mail, contacts, and calendar data in Android across all devices," a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat.