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What Does Scientific Literacy Really Mean?

Wired - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 18:01

What is scientific literacy and how do you measure it?

The post What Does Scientific Literacy Really Mean? appeared first on WIRED.

A Wildly Detailed 100-Year Plan for Getting Humans to Mars

Wired - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 17:55

The Integrated Space Plan is now a lot simpler, and still every bit as futuristic.

The post A Wildly Detailed 100-Year Plan for Getting Humans to Mars appeared first on WIRED.

Netflix Hit With House of Cards Spoof Over Parental Leave

Wired - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 17:42

A women's advocacy group is calling for Netflix to give paid parental leave to all of its employees. Its latest effort? A House of Cards spoof.

The post Netflix Hit With House of Cards Spoof Over Parental Leave appeared first on WIRED.

Zac Efron’s New Movie Spawns the Saddest Club Night Ever

Wired - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 17:42

The promotional tour for "We Are Your Friends" brought Efron and his costars to nightclubs around the country.

The post Zac Efron’s New Movie Spawns the Saddest Club Night Ever appeared first on WIRED.

Appeals court overturns judge who would have stopped NSA data collection

Ars Technica - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 17:34

The first major judicial ruling slamming the NSA's bulk collection of phone records has been overturned. In 2013, US District Judge Richard Leon ruled the program was likely unconstitutional, but held off on shutting it down until an appeals court could weigh in.

That's finally happened, and the appeals ruling (PDF) shows the three-judge panel didn't see things the same way as Leon.

The case is still relevant despite the fact that the new USA Freedom Act passed in June. The law prevents the NSA from running its own database, instead forcing the agency to get phone records from the telcos. But because the government's database was allowed a 180 day period for an "orderly transition," telephone records are still being collected, for now.

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Former Apple CEO John Sculley launches two Android phones

Ars Technica - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 17:12

ars.AD.queue.push(["xrailTop", {sz:"300x251", kws:["bottom"], collapse: true}]);A startup co-founded by former Apple CEO John Sculley has launched two Android phones targeted at mid-range customers in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Sculley was CEO of Apple from 1983 to 1993, famously leaving Pepsi-Cola after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs asked him, "do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or do you want to come with me and change the world?"

Sculley's new company, Obi Worldphone, launched its SF1 and SJ1.5 phones (named after San Francisco and San Jose even though they're targeted at developing markets outside the US) "to address the market need between high-design smartphones at high prices and generic smartphones at low prices," the company's announcement on Wednesday said.

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Gunnar Wolf: 180

Planet Debian - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 17:09

180 degrees — people say their life has changed by 180° whenever something alters their priorities, their viewpoints, their targets in life.

In our case, it's been 180 days. 183 by today, really. The six most amazing months in my life.

We are still the same people, with similar viewpoints and targets. Our priorities have clearly shifted.

But our understanding of the world, and our sources of enjoyment, and our outlook for the future... Are worlds apart. Not 180°, think more of a quantic transposition.

Fake EFF site serving espionage malware was likely active for 3+ weeks

Ars Technica - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 16:42

A spear-phishing campaign some researchers say is linked to the Russian government masqueraded as the Electronic Frontier Foundation in an attempt to infect targets with malware that collects passwords and other sensitive data.

The targeted e-mails, which link to the fraudulent domain electronicfrontierfoundation.org, appear to be part of a larger campaign known as Pawn Storm. Last October, researchers at security firm Trend Micro brought the campaign to light and said it was targeting US military, embassy, and defense contractor personnel, dissidents of the Russian government, and international media organizations. Last month, Trend Micro said the espionage malware campaign entered a new phase by exploiting what then was a zero-day vulnerability in Oracle's widely used Java browser plugin. Separate security firm FireEye has said the group behind the attacks has ties to Russia's government and has been active since at least 2007.

EFF staff technologist Cooper Quintin wrote in a blog post published Thursday that the round of attacks involving the electronicfrontierfoundation.org site may have the ability to infect Mac and Linux machines, as well as the normal Windows fare. On Windows, the campaign downloads a payload known as Sednit that ultimately installs a keylogger and other malicious modules. Its use of the same path names, Java payloads, and Java exploits found in last month's campaign mean it's almost certainly the work of the same Pawn Storm actors that struck last month. Quintin wrote:

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Would warming stop after greenhouse gas emissions end? Not quite

Ars Technica - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 16:36

The latest IPCC report estimated our remaining “carbon budget” that would give us a chance of reaching the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius this century. That estimate was created using a simpler class of climate model that can crank out long or repeated simulations without tying up a supercomputer for a week. A new study using one of the most complex models, however, suggests that the simpler models get a key issue wrong: they overestimate how much carbon we can emit if we actually want to stay below 2 degrees Celsius over the centuries that follow.

A recent study used one of those simpler models (technically known as “Earth System Models of Intermediate Complexity," or EMICs) to look at how long it takes us to reap the benefits of cutting emissions. Rather than the oft-repeated estimate that there is a delay of about 40 years, the researchers found that the peak in temperature came just 10 years after emitting a simulated pulse of CO2. However, they only modeled about a hundred years.

ETH Zürich’s Thomas Frölicher and David Paynter of NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory turned to a more complex model and a much longer timeframe to investigate a related question: what happens long after we stop emitting greenhouse gases?

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Ashley Madison CEO Resigns in Wake of Hack, News of Affairs

Wired - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 16:35

Ashley Madison CEO steps down after emails leaked by hackers expose that he may have engaged in affairs.

The post Ashley Madison CEO Resigns in Wake of Hack, News of Affairs appeared first on WIRED.

Friday's security updates

LWN.net - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 16:25

Arch Linux has updated firefox (multiple vulnerabilities).

CentOS has updated firefox (C5; C6; C7: multiple vulnerabilities) and thunderbird (C5; C6; C7: multiple vulnerabilities).

Debian-LTS has updated openjdk-6 (multiple vulnerabilities) and zendframework (XML external entity attack).

Fedora has updated maradns (F21; F22: denial of service), openssh (F21: multiple vulnerabilities), php-guzzle-Guzzle (F21; F22: XML external entity attack), php-twig (F22: code execution), php-ZendFramework2 (F21; F22: XML external entity attack), rt (F21; F22: cross-site scripting), and rubygem-rack (F21: denial of service).

Mageia has updated drupal (M4,5: multiple vulnerabilities), python-django, python-django14 (M4,5: multiple vulnerabilities), subversion (M4,5: multiple vulnerabilities), thunderbird (M4,5: multiple vulnerabilities), and vlc (M4,5: code execution).

Oracle has updated firefox (O5; O6; O7: multiple vulnerabilities).

Red Hat has updated firefox (RHEL5,6,7: multiple vulnerabilities).

SUSE has updated MozillaFirefox, mozilla-nss (SLE11: multiple vulnerabilities).

Ubuntu has updated cups-filters (15.04: unintended printer access) and firefox (12.04, 14.04, 15.04: multiple vulnerabilities).

Devs can now emulate in-car experience with Android Auto Desktop Head Unit

Ars Technica - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 16:04

One of our chief complaints about Android Auto when we reviewed it last month was the lack of third-party apps. OK, perhaps this isn't particularly surprising since the infotainment platform is only just starting to trickle into car showrooms, but our poking around under Android Auto's hood suggested a lot more functionality waiting to be unlocked.

Yesterday, Google announced the Android Auto Desktop Head Unit, or DHU, so that developers can emulate the in-car experience on their workstations.

DHU allows Android Auto developers to test their apps without having to shuttle off to the car to try it out. Until now that might have been the preserve of OEM developers, whose workstations come equipped with naked infotainment systems and car instrument clusters as well as the usual monitors and keyboards. Apps need to be compiled and run from an Android phone running at least Lollipop and Android Auto.

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CEO of Ashley Madison parent company quits

Ars Technica - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 15:51

The CEO of Ashley Madison's parent company has left for unexplained reasons, less than a week after gigabytes' worth of his private e-mail were published online by hackers who rooted the company's network.

Avid Life Media CEO Noel Biderman's decision to step down was in mutual agreement with remaining company executives, company officials said in a brief statement. The departure comes as some of the leaked e-mails raised ethical questions about the company's business practices and about Biderman's personal conduct. Ashley Madison's tag line was: "Life is short. Have an affair."

"This change is in the best interest of the company and allows us to continue to provide support to our members and dedicated employees," company officials wrote. "We are steadfast in our commitment to our customer base."

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Verizon did kill wireless contracts, but only for new customers

Ars Technica - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 15:39

Verizon Wireless' announcement three weeks ago that it's no longer offering contracts and device subsidies was missing one caveat: customers who are still on contracts can continue to renew them and get new phones under the traditional subsidy model.

"Yes, Verizon customers can keep and renew their two-year contract, and take advantage of any subsidized devices we offer as part of that contract," Verizon said in a clarification it issued Wednesday. "A good example: you’ve been waiting to buy a soon-to-be-launched smartphone on Verizon’s network. Yes, you can renew your current contract once that cool new handset launches—and take advantage of subsidized contract pricing."

Contract customers can also keep their current monthly price and buy a new device on an installment plan that spreads the cost over 24 months, interest free. The installment plan is the standard option for new customers.

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AT&T grudgingly accepts $428 million in annual government funding

Ars Technica - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 15:06

AT&T has struck a deal with the US government to get nearly $428 million per year to bring 10Mbps Internet service to parts of rural America after protesting that it shouldn't have to provide speeds that fast.

The money comes from the Connect America Fund, which draws from surcharges on Americans' phone bills to pay for rural Internet service. AT&T accepted the money even though it argued last year that rural customers don't need Internet service better than the old standard of 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream. The FCC ignored AT&T's protests in December, raising the Connect America Fund download standard to 10Mbps while leaving the 1Mbps requirement unchanged.

Eight months later, AT&T is now willing to provide at least 10Mbps/1Mbps service to 1.1 million rural homes and businesses in 18 states in exchange for "$427,706,650 in annual, ongoing support from the Connect America Fund," yesterday's FCC announcement said. The FCC said this will bring broadband to 2.2 million customers, apparently assuming an average of two people for each home and business.

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The Overlooked Architecture That’s Hip Again in New Orleans

Wired - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 15:00

The shotgun house, a relic of 19th century living, is 'popping up like daisies all over town' as architects mix nostalgia with smart design.

The post The Overlooked Architecture That’s Hip Again in New Orleans appeared first on WIRED.

What’s Inside Caladryl Will Not Make You Hallucinate

Wired - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 15:00

Itch-relieving action for the summer starts with this eponymous pink stuff, a cocktail of zinc oxide and a little iron oxide.

The post What’s Inside Caladryl Will Not Make You Hallucinate appeared first on WIRED.

Valve/HTC Vive VR headset only doing a “limited” launch in 2015

Ars Technica - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 14:40

While Valve and HTC are technically keeping their promise to release the extremely compelling Vive headset in 2015, it seems most consumers won't be able to get their hands on a unit until early next year. In a press release, Valve said that "later this year, HTC will offer the first commercial Vive units via a limited quantity of community and developer systems, with larger quantities shipping in calendar Q1 2016."

The specific wording of that statement is a bit confusing. Valve has been taking applications for free developer units since April—the company says it received more than 10,000 inquiries for those kits and knows of over 80 VR games currently being made for the Vive. We've reached out to find out what members of the "community" will be eligible to purchase those limited quantities of 2015 headsets as well and will let you know if we hear back.

For now, though, it seems that Valve and HTC are simply doing a token launch in 2015 so they can continue to claim the Vive as "the first complete VR system heading to consumers," as they put it (Samsung's Gear VR isn't complete without an integrated handheld motion controller, we suppose). For most intents and purposes, however, those early adopting consumers will mostly be seeing the Vive alongside the Oculus Rift and Sony's Project Morpheus, both of which are planned for an early 2016 launch.

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100 psychology experiments repeated, less than half successful

Ars Technica - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 14:29

Since November 2011, the Center for Open Science has been involved in an ambitious project: to repeat 100 psychology experiments and see whether the results are the same the second time round. The first wave of results will be released in tomorrow’s edition of Science, reporting that fewer than half of the original experiments were successfully replicated.

The studies in question were from social and cognitive psychology, meaning that they don’t have immediate significance for therapeutic or medical treatments. However, the project and its results have huge implications in general for science, scientists, and the public. The key takeaway is that a single study on its own is never going to be the last word, said study coordinator and psychology professor Brian Nosek.

“The reality of science is we're going to get lots of different competing pieces of information as we study difficult problems,” he said in a public statement. “We're studying them because we don't understand them, and so we need to put in a lot of energy in order to figure out what's going on. It's murky for a long time before answers emerge.”

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Absurd Creature of the Week: Um, This Leech Feeds on Hippo Rectums

Wired - Fri, 28/08/2015 - 14:00

The year was 2003, and Mark Siddall was in South Africa a-hunting the elusive hippo rectum leech.

The post Absurd Creature of the Week: Um, This Leech Feeds on Hippo Rectums appeared first on WIRED.

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