In comments that appeared to condone the hacking of sensitive US correspondence, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Wednesday said he hoped Russia locates missing e-mails sent by Hillary Clinton when she was US secretary of state.
"Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing," Trump said during a news conference. "I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let's see if that happens. That'll be nice."
At the same event, Trump also said, "I'm not gonna tell Putin what to do. Why should I tell Putin what to do?... It's not even about Russia or China or whoever it is that's doing the hacking. It's about the things they said in those e-mails. They were terrible things." A video of the entire news conference is here.
If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area tonight, July 27, join Ars editor Annalee Newitz and writer Tiffany Kelly for the filming of our fourth episode of Ars Technica Live, a monthly interview series with fascinating people who work at the intersection of tech, science, and culture. Our guest next week is science fiction author Hannu Rajaniemi, who will discuss how we imagine the future of technology. Doors open at 7pm, and the discussion starts at 7:30.
Filmed before a live audience at Oakland's legendary Longitude tiki bar, each episode of Ars Live is a speculative, informal conversation between Ars Technica hosts and an invited guest. The audience, drawn from Ars Technica’s readers, is also invited to join the conversation and ask questions. These aren’t soundbyte setups; they are deep cuts from the frontiers of research and creativity.
Doors open at 7pm, and the live filming is from 7:30 to 8:00pm (be sure to get there early if you want a seat). Then you can stick around for informal discussion at the bar, along with delicious tiki drinks and snacks. Can't make it out to Oakland? Never fear! Episodes will be posted to Ars Technica the week after the live events.
An iOS app called Summer of Darkness was released earlier this summer, just in time for the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. What few people remember is that Shelley wrote Frankenstein during a terrifying summer in the Swiss Alps, after a massive volcanic eruption at Mount Tambora in Indonesia caused weather across the globe to turn grim and cold. Many Europeans believed this disaster-induced climate change meant the world was ending. Summer of Darkness recreates this historical moment with daily updates from the writings of four famous authors who traveled together that summer.
Shelley spent the apocalyptic months between May and September touring the Swiss Alps. She was joined by a group of literary friends, including poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, who would soon become her husband, as well as writer John Polidari. Spurred by a writing challenge from Byron and the terrible weather, the group wrote ghost stories. Two of those stories, Shelley's Frankenstein and Polidari's Vampyr, gave birth to new genres of popular fiction. Meanwhile, Byron and Percy wrote poetry together in a blaze of productivity kindled by their new friendship.
Summer of Darkness offers a fascinating look at the lives of these writers, as well as the events that inspired their creativity that year. The app was built by designer Andrew Sempere and author Anindita Basu Sempere, an American couple who have been living in Switzerland for many years, surrounded by the same landscapes that Shelley and her friends saw two centuries ago. As you read snippets of letters, poems, memoirs, and stories by the group, the app provides beautifully rendered maps to show where exactly each person was as the summer unfolded. Brief flashes of rain and lightning illuminate the screen behind the text, providing a delightful but non-invasive hint of atmosphere. You receive updates to unlock material as the summer unfolds in real time, and if you download the app now you can consume all the past updates in one glorious binge. New updates continue into September.
The Tor Project said Wednesday that its internal investigation has been completed into allegations of sexual misconduct allegedly perpetrated by one of its most prominent staffers, who has since left the organization.
In a statement, Executive Director Shari Steele wrote that the inquiry concluded that "many people inside and outside the Tor Project have reported incidents of being humiliated, intimidated, bullied, and frightened" by Jacob Appelbaum, a now-ex-member of Tor’s "Core Team," adding, "and several experienced unwanted sexually aggressive behavior from him."
The Tor Project is the Massachusetts-based nonprofit that maintains Tor, the well-known open source online anonymity tool.
As Verizon plans a fiber expansion in Boston, CEO Lowell McAdam yesterday said the company is talking to other cities about potentially building fiber networks.
Verizon stopped expanding its FiOS fiber-to-the-home Internet, TV, and phone service several years ago, making it a surprise when in April the telco announced plans to replace its copper network in Boston with fiber. In an earnings call yesterday (see transcript), McAdam said, "We are talking to other cities about similar partnerships."
Verizon's fiber expansion plans are as much about improving backhaul to its more profitable mobile network as they are about bringing wired Internet to people's homes. "We will create a single fiber-optic network platform capable of supporting wireless and wireline technologies and multiple products," McAdam said.
Debian-LTS has updated libgd2 (denial of service).
Mageia has updated apache (HTTP redirect), harfbuzz (multiple vulnerabilities), libgd (three vulnerabilities), libidn (multiple vulnerabilities), libupnp (unauthenticated access), libxml2 (multiple vulnerabilities), mariadb (multiple vulnerabilities), mupdf (denial of service), php/xmlrpc-epi/timezone (multiple vulnerabilities), sudo (race condition), tomcat/apache-commons-fileupload (denial of service), and virtualbox (allows local users to affect availability).
Features of how DNA, RNA, and proteins are built and metabolized are common to every living thing we've looked at, suggesting they were inherited through common descent. While life may have arisen more than once, it appears that only one lineage has survived down to the present day.
If you could trace living lineages back far enough, you'd arrive at an organism that's the ancestor to every living thing: the last universal common ancestor, or LUCA. This idea has naturally led to a lot of speculation about what LUCA might have looked like. In the latest effort to offer some informed opinion, scientists have performed a clever genomic analysis to identify some of the genes that were probably in LUCA. Those genes, in turn, allow us to infer something about how LUCA lived and what environments it inhabited.Building trees
Various analyses have indicated that organisms with complex cells (eukaryotes) are a relatively recent development on Earth—assuming you're willing to call something over two billion years old "recent." Two other lineages, bacteria and archaea, go back much further. LUCA sits at the point where bacteria and archaea started to diverge. So if you can identify genes that have been inherited by both of these lineages, they probably were present in LUCA's genome as well.
The second day of TUG 2016 was again full of interesting talks spanning from user experiences to highly technical details about astrological chart drawing, and graphical user interfaces to TikZ to the invited talk by Robert Bringhurst on the Palatino family of fonts.
With all these interesting things there is only one thing to compain – I cannot get out of the dark basement and enjoy the city…
After a evening full of sake and a good night’s sleep we were ready to dive into the second day of TUG.Kaveh Bazargan – A graphical user interface for TikZ
The opening speaker of Day 2 was Kaveh. He first gave us a quick run-down on what he is doing for business and what challenges publishers are facing in these times. After that he introduced us to his new development of a command line graphical user interface for TikZ. I wrote command line on purpose, because the editing operations are short commands issued on a kind of command line, which will give an immediate graphical feedback. Basic of the technique is a simplified TikZ-like meta language that is not only easy to write, but also easy to parse.
While the amount of supported commands and features of TikZ is still quite small, I think the basic idea is a good one, and there is a good potential in it.Matthew Skala – Astrological charts with horoscop and starfont
Next up was Matthew who introduced us to the involved task of typesetting astrological charts. He included comparisons with various commercial and open source solutions, where Matthew of course, but me too, felt that his charts came of quite well!
As an extra bonus we got some charts of famous singers, as well as the TUG 2016 horoscope.David Tulett – Development of an e-textbook using LaTeX and PStricks
David reported on his project to develop an e-textbook on decision modeling (lots of math!) using LaTeX and PStricks. His e-book is of course a PDF. There were a lot of very welcoming feedback – free (CC-BY-NC-ND) textbooks for sciences are rare and we need more of them.Christian Gagné – An Emacs-based writing workflow inspired by TeX and WEB, targeting the Web
Christian’s talk turned around editing and publishing using org-mode of Emacs and the various levels of macros one can use in this setup. He finished with a largely incomprehensible vision of a future equational logic based notation mode. I have used equational logic in my day-in-day-out job, and I am not completely convinced that this is a good approach for typesetting and publishing – but who knows, I am looking forward to a more logic-based approach!Barbara Beeton, Frank Mittelbach – In memoriam: Sebastian Rahtz (1955-2016)
Frank recalled Sebastian’s many contribution to a huge variety of fields, and recalled our much missed colleague with many photos and anecdotes.Jim Hefferon – A LaTeX reference manual
Jim reported about the current state of a LaTeX reference manual, which tries to provide a documentation orthogonally to the many introduction and user guides available, by providing a straight down-to-earth reference manual with all the technical bells and whistles necessary.
As I had to write myself a reference manual for a computer language, it was very interested to see how they dealt with many of the same problems I am facing.Arthur Reutenauer, Mojca Miklavec – Hyphenation past and future: hyph-utf8 and patgen
Arthur reports about the current statue of the hyphenation pattern project, and in particular the license and usage hell they recently came into with large cooperations simply grabbing the patterns without proper attribution.
In a second part he gave a rough sketch of his shot at a reimplementation of patgen. Unfortunately he wrote in rather unreadable hand-writing on a flip-chart, which made only the first line audience to actually see what he was writing.Federico Garcia-De Castro – TeXcel?
As an artist organizing large festivals Federico has to fight with financial planning and reports. He seemed not content with the abilities of the usual suspects, so he developed a way to do Excel like book-keeping in TeX. Nice idea, I hope I can use that system for the next conference I have to organize!Jennifer Claudio – A brief reflection on TeX and end-user needs
Last speaker in the morning session was Jennifer who gave us a new and end-user’s view onto the TeX environment, and the respective needs. These kind of talks are a very much welcomed contrast to technical talks and hopefully all of us developers take home some of her suggestions.Sungmin Kim, Jaeyoung Choi, Geunho Jeong – MFCONFIG: Metafont plug-in module for the Freetype rasterizer
Jaeyoung reported about an impressive project to make Metafont fonts available to fontconfig and thus windowing systems. He also explained their development of a new font format Stemfont, which is a Metafont-like system that can work also for CJK fonts, and which they envisage to be built into all kind of mobile devices.Michael Sharpe – New font offerings — Cochineal, Nimbus15 and LibertinusT1Math
Michael reports about his last font projects. The first two being extensions of the half-made half-butchered rereleased URW fonts, as well as his first (?) math font project.
I talked to him over lunch one day, and asked him how many man-days he need for these fonts, and his answer was speaking a lot: For the really messed up new URW fonts, like Cochineal, he guessed about 5 man-months of work, while other fonts only needed a few days. I think we all can be deeply thankful to all the work he is investing into all these font projects.Robert Bringhurst – The evolution of the Palatino tribe
The second invited talk was Robert Bringhurst, famous for his wide contributions to typpography, book culture in general, as well as poetry. He gave a quick historic overview on the development of the Palatino tribe of fonts, with lots of beautiful photos.
I was really looking forward to Robert’s talk, and my expectations were extremely high. And unfortunately I must say I was quite disappointed. Maybe it is his style of presentation, but the feeling he transfered to me (the audience?) was that he was going through a necessary medical check, not much enjoying the presentation. Also, the content itself was not really full of his own ideas or thoughts, but a rather superficial listing of historical facts.
Of course, a person like Robert Bringhurst is so full of anecdotes and background knowledge still was a great pleasure to listen and lots of things to learn, I only hoped for a bit more enthusiasm.TUG Annual General Meeting
The afternoon session finished with the TUG Annual General Meeting, reports will be sent out soon to all TUG members.Herbert Schulz – Optional workshop: TeXShop tips & tricks
After the AGM, Herbert from MacTeX and TeXShop gave an on-the-spot workshop on TeXShop. Since I am not a Mac user, I skipped on that.
Another late afternoon program consisted of an excursion to Eliot’s bookshop, where many of us stacked up on great books. This time again I skipped and took a nap.
In the evening we had a rather interesting informal dinner in the food court of some building, where only two shops were open and all of us lined up in front of the Japanese Curry shop, and then gulped down from plastic boxes. Hmm, not my style I have to say, not even for informal dinner. But at least I could meet up with a colleague from Debian and get some gpg key signing done. And of course, talking to all kind of people around.
The last step for me was in the pub opposite the hotel, with beer and whiskey/scotch selected by specialists in the field.
In April, when SpaceX announced an ambitious mission to land an uncrewed Dragon spacecraft on Mars by 2018, one of the biggest questions was how much the private rocket company would spend on this venture. Now we have a ballpark estimate: $300 million.
During a meeting of NASA's Advisory Council Tuesday, one of the agency's deputy associate administrators, Jim Reuter, provided an overview of NASA’s agreement with SpaceX, SpaceNews reports. NASA estimated that it would spend about $32 million on the mission, with SpaceX spending about 10 times as much.
The agency and the company have a Space Act agreement that bars the transfer of funds, but the agreement will allow NASA to assist SpaceX with some technical advice. NASA can also gather critical information about the Martian atmosphere and get tips on how to slow a large spacecraft descending toward the planet's surface. It's also likely that NASA, with its assets in orbit around Mars, will help facilitate communication between the Red Dragon and Earth.
A bug in the Telegram Messager app logged anything its users pasted into their chats in its syslog on macOS, even if they had opted for the end-to-end encrypted "secret" mode.
The vulnerability was spotted earlier this month by Russian infosec operative Kirill Firsov, who directly and publicly challenged Telegram's flamboyant founder and chief Pavel Durov about the app's latest security flaw.
— Kirill Firsov (@k_firsov) July 23, 2016
In an angry reply, Durov admitted that the vuln existed, but insisted it "applies only to texts that were copy-pasted from clipboard, and such texts are open to all other Mac apps anyway."
A Florida judge has decided in favor of a bitcoin vendor charged with violating local money-laundering laws, because, she found, the cryptocurrency is not money as defined under state law.
“The Florida Legislature may choose to adopt statutes regulating virtual currency in the future,” Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler wrote in her Monday opinion. “At this time, however, attempting to fit the sale of bitcoin into a statutory scheme regulating money services businesses is like fitting a square peg in a round hole.”
According to her eight-page opinion, a Miami police detective began investigating local bitcoin sales in the area in 2013 after learning more about it from a local and federal task force led by the Secret Service. Detective Ricardo Arias then started looking at postings on localbitcoins.com, a website where people can arrange in-person bitcoin sales for cash, often anonymously. One vendor, “Michelhack,” offered 24-hour availability and only wanted to meet in public places, which Arias thought might be suspicious.
US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the Eastern District of Texas hears more patent cases than any other federal judge. Last year, he installed a set of controversial rules for those cases, leading to rare public criticism. Changes to Gilstrap's order (Word file), dated last week, suggest some of those rules have been withdrawn.
Section 101 of the US patent laws is what the Supreme Court has deemed bans overly abstract patents. Since the high court decided Alice v. CLS Bank in 2014, Section 101 has become more important, since courts have been reading it as banning many software patents that recite basic processes.
Last year, the patent rules for Gilstrap's court held that defendants seeking to file a motion under Section 101 "may do so only upon a grant of leave from the Court after a showing of good cause, which shall be presented through the letter briefing process."
While Nintendo tried to temper expectations and the impact of augmented reality game Pokémon Go ahead of its financial results, its latest quarterly earnings still make for surprisingly bad reading. Compared to the same quarter last year, Nintendo saw net sales drop 31 percent from ¥90 billion (£651 million, $853 million) to ¥62 billion (£448 million, $587 million) with an operating loss of ¥5.1 billion (£37 million, $48 million).
While the company blames "foreign exchange rates" and "significant yen appreciation" for the loss, the reality is that hardware and software were down across the board, and software growth has been minimal. Nintendo sold 220,000 Wii U consoles, a 53 percent decrease year-on-year, bringing the total number of consoles sold to just over 13 million. Wii U software sales rose a mere three percent to 4.7 million units.
Meanwhile, 3DS hardware sales dropped seven percent to 940,000 units, but software fared a little better, rising seven percent to 8.5 million units off the back of games like Kirby: Planet Robobot and Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright/Conquest. Even Amiibo sales, which have been a bright spot for the company of late, remained flat due to "a lack of new titles that are compatible with Amiibo." Sales of downloadable games and content were also down year-on-year.
The well-timed leak of e-mails from the Democratic National Committee, following a long-running breach of the DNC's network, is a masterful piece of information warfare. The leak may only be the beginning of an effort to shape the US presidential election, or it may be a backup plan triggered by the exposure of the long-running breach. But the hacking of the DNC and the direct targeting of Hillary Clinton are only parts of a much larger operation by Russia-based hackers who have breached a number of US government networks.
Evidence collected by the security firm CrowdStrike and forensic work by Fidelis point to the breach being caused by two "threat groups" associated with Russian intelligence organizations. A pair of reports published in June by SecureWorks suggests that the same threat groups conducted phishing campaigns against the e-mail addresses of the DNC. The same attackers targeted the addresses of Clinton campaign staffers, political consultants, journalists, and current and former members of the military, among others.
At a minimum, this suggests that the DNC breach was part of a larger intelligence collection operation. The leaked data from the DNC breach, however, may have been intended to create chaos and uncertainty around the election. But why would the Russian government open that can of worms? It's possible that this fits into a larger Russian strategy aimed at splintering NATO and countering what Russia has seen over the past decade as encroachment by the West on Russia's national interests.