I've posted the first chapter (MP3) of Wil Wheaton's reading of my book Information Doesn't Want to Be Free (which sports introductions by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer!), which is available as a $15 DRM-free audiobook, sweetened by samples from Amanda Palmer and Dresden Dolls' "Coin-Operated Boy." Read the rest
Birds perform incredible feats of migration, crossing entire continents on their journeys between favorable nesting and feeding grounds. For most species, this behavior appears to be hard-wired in, driven by instinctual urges. But a recent study suggests that at least some birds aren't purely creatures of instinct—they can perform migratory feats in order to get away from dangerous weather, as well.
The study came as a bit of an accident. A team of researchers had tagged golden-winged warblers, which migrate between South America and the eastern US. After having completed a 5,000-mile journey from Columbia, five males settled down into breeding areas in eastern Tennessee, one for just a single day. Then, they rapidly left, heading back to the Gulf Coast along routes that mimic their fall migration.
The researchers term this trip an evacuation. The cause? A massive storm system that produced over 80 tornadoes and killed 35 people, which swept through the region shortly thereafter. (The storm was so severer that the authors write, "We did not conduct surveys on any of the study sites on April 29, 2014 because we performed our own evacuation migration and waited out the storm in Caryville, Tennessee, USA.") This happened in late April; all five birds returned to the region and returned to breeding activities by early May.
Legendary file-sharing site The Pirate Bay may have finally been forced offline, but that doesn’t mean that the less-than-legal file-sharing scene has slowed down—the shady BitTorrent hydra has many more heads to take The Pirate Bay’s place. In fact, if the folks at torrent site Isohunt have their way, there will very soon be many, many more heads: the site has released an open sourced "copy" of The Pirate Bay called "Open Bay" that anyone with access to a Web server can install and run.
The Open Bay project maintainers have set up a GitHub repository for the Open Bay application and written instructions covering how to get your very own Open Bay site up and running—complete with example configuration files. To make it work, you need at minimum a Web server running Apache or Nginx and PHP (either with mod_php or PHP-FPM or whatever other PHP method you prefer); since we’ve got one of those in our closet, we decided to take a crack at installing the application to see how it works.
I was hoping that Open Bay would be a full-featured Bittorrent site wherein I could both search for and also add torrents; I’d planned on setting everything up and then offering out a complete set of Linux ISO torrent links to prove that it worked. However, it’s important to be clear at the outset that Open Bay’s primary purpose is to be a copy of The Pirate Bay.
Sources at Reuters claim that the next major version of Android, which it calls "Android M," will support being used as an in-car infotainment OS. The outlet says the OS would be built right into the car's hardware and would have the full suite of standard infotainment features.
The project sounds a lot like the Android-based infotainment system Harman was building along with Google's help. Harman is one of the world's largest infotainment system suppliers and was building the system for General Motors. The Reuters report never mentioned the Harman product, so it's unclear if the two projects are related. Harman's CEO indicated that GM would have exclusive rights to the newest version of their OS, so it may be a separate project or something based on this Google-developed OS.
The move also sounds similar to Android Auto, Google's currently announced car interface, but Android Auto isn't an operating system. Like Apple's CarPlay, it requires a smartphone plugged into a compatible vehicle, and then it takes over the car infotainment screen. Both projects require an underlying OS to function and can't access car functions like the radio, cameras, or air conditioning. So for your in-car Android options you have Android Auto, this new Android M-based OS, and the Harman project, which may or may not be based on Google's official Android M infotainment system.
The Sony hacking scandal has, inadvertently, claimed another victim. After Sony's The Interview was pulled from released amid bomb threats aimed at cinemas planning to air the North Korea-mocking comedy, film studio New Regency has cancelled its planned movie adaptation of acclaimed graphic novel Pyongyang, by cartoonist Guy Delisle.
The film was set to be directed by Pirates of the Caribbean'sGore Verbinski, with a script by Steve Conrad. Steve Carell was set to headline, coming off a particularly strong reception to his dramatic turn in Foxcatcher.
Delisle's comic was a gripping memoir of his time working in the communist state, where he was sent to oversee animation work. At times a whimsical look at a culture alien to westerners, at others a chilling insight into daily life in the oppressive nation, its original publication came about only through a loophole in the confidentiality contract the artist had to sign to even enter the country. The film version was to skew darker, set to be "a paranoid thriller", with production due to start in March 2015.
A cyber espionage campaign targeting activist groups in Syria is likely the work of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to a report published on Thursday by CitizenLab, a research group at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.
The attacks have targeted a group of Syrian activists, Raqqah Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RSS), that focuses on documenting human rights abuses in the Northern Syrian city of Ar Raqqah, which is currently occupied by ISIS, according to the analysis. The attacks used a tailored e-mail message to direct targeted users to an infected slide show, purportedly showing locations of ISIS forces and US airstrikes, but in reality, compromising the victim’s computer.
The attack does not result in remote access to a victim’s computer, but does result in a malicious program sending out occasional e-mail messages with data about the victim’s system and location, including the Internet protocol (IP) address, CitizenLab said in its analysis.
At the president's end-of-year speech on Friday afternoon, Barak Obama acknowledged the FBI's report claiming that North Korea was behind the November hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment and confirmed that the US would lay blame on the isolated nation for Sony's hack. The president promised a “proportional response,” but he did not give more details as to what that response would look like. “They caused a lot of damage, and we will respond,” Obama told the press. “It will be proportional, and it will be at the time and place that we choose; it's not something I'm going to announce at a press conference.”
The president continued, calling for the US government to help private interests shore up their security practices, although he was vague on details for that plan as well. “Part of the problem is you've got weak states that can engage in this kind of attack, you've got non-state actors, that's part of the reason we need to work with congress and get an actual bill passed to [help companies] prevent these attacks from taking place.”
When asked whether he thought Sony did the right thing in pulling the movie The Interview from theaters, the president spoke remarkably candidly. “Sony is a corporation, it suffered significant damage... I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having said all that ,yes, I think they made a mistake.”
The scent of fresh evergreen is one of the hallmarks of the holiday season – but why cut down a living tree just for a few weeks of festivities? Faux Christmas trees offer a more sustainable alternative, however they don’t bristle with the bouquet of pine needles. Fortunately, the folks at Juniper Ridge have found a way to fit a tree’s worth of fragrance in a tiny bottle with their Christmas Fir Cabin Spray. Juniper Ridge’s wildcrafted spray is sustainably sourced from Fir, Cedar, and Pine trees in the forests of Mt. Hood, and it smells exactly like a living Christmas tree – so you can conjure up holiday cheer at home while letting the trees live on in the wild.
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Have you considered using your printer as a crafting tool? Whether you’re scrambling for some last-minute holiday decor ideas, or are looking for some unique, crafty gifts to make, your printer can actually be of a lot more use than just printing out instructions. You can use it to print on napkins, fabric, waxed paper, or even tissues, and those items can then be used to create a variety of different items. Check out the full-sized infographic after the jump for some cool crafting ideas that you can try out this weekend.
Read the rest of INFOGRAPHIC: 7 cool crafts to make with your home printer
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New research from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena shows that California’s drought is so bad it will take 11 trillion gallons to recover. That number is hard to fathom, but to give you an idea, it’s: twice as much as the Colorado River’s annual flow; 1.5 times the volume of Lake Mead, the country’s biggest reservoir; and more water than California’s 38 million residents use for domestic and municipal reasons. NASA’s figure includes a startling 4 trillion gallons of water lost by the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers every year since 2011—with water levels now 11 trillion gallons below normal levels.
cartechboy writes: Remember 18 months ago when Tesla promised it was going to launch battery-swap stations? Well, it's finally happening, sort of. It seems Tesla's about to announce a battery-swap pilot program that will launch next week. The swap site will be located across the street from a Tesla Supercharger site in Harris Ranch, California — 184 miles south of San Francisco and about 200 miles north of Los Angeles. The pilot program will involve an unspecified number of Model S electric-car owners, who will be invited to take part in the test. For now, the battery-swap service will be offered by appointment only, at a cost of roughly a tank of gas in a premium sedan. Tesla's using words to describe this pilot program like "exploratory work" and "intended to test technology and assess demand" for a swapping service. While originally pitched that the battery swap would take less time than it would to take to refill the gas tank of a comparable luxury sedan, the company says now that "for this specific iteration" the swap process will take "approximately 3 minutes" — though it adds Tesla has "the ability to improve that time with future iterations." Is this test going to show that battery swapping is or isn't a realistic initiative?
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Rambo Tribble writes: Scientists from the University of Leeds have proposed that brighter ships' wakes, created by reducing their component bubbles' sizes, could moderately increase the reflectivity of our oceans, which would have a cooling effect on the climate. The technology is touted as being available and simple, but there could be side effects, like wetter conditions in some regions. Still, compared to many speculative geoengineering projects, "The one advantage about this technology — of trying to generate these tiny 'micro-bubbles' — is that the technology does already exist," according to Leeds' Prof Piers Forster.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Environmental groups had sought to have coal ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants, regulated as hazardous waste.
Tunisia launched the Arab uprisings four years ago when it ousted a dictator. Sunday's presidential election heralds the country's steady-but-not-yet-guaranteed progress.
Weeks after he announced a grand jury's decision not to indict a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in Michael Brown's death, prosecutor Robert McCulloch explains some of his own decisions in the case.
Jeff Williams, the tech giant's vice president for operations, told British-based employees that Apple has done more than any other company to ensure fair and safe working conditions.
The Olympic gold medal winner gets no jail time for second conviction for drunk driving. He'll be able to train for Rio with his 18-month supervised probation.
A number of people — The Verge included — have called on Sony to release The Interview online, be it streaming à la Netflix / Hulu or for sale on a service like iTunes / Google Play. In an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton says that while Sony "has every desire" to release the film, online isn't the immediate option:
There are a number of options open to us, and we have considered those and are considering those. As it stands right now, while there have been a number of suggestions... there has not been one major VOD distributor [or] one major e-commerce site that has stepped forward and said they're willing to distribute this movie for us... Again we don't have that direct interface with the...
You've been able to yell voice commands at Android smartphones and Android Wear smartwatches for some time now, but soon you'll be able to do the same to a Chromebook computer. A new feature available to Chromebooks running early release software lets users say "Ok Google" to activate voice commands and searches on the laptop, just like on many Android smartphones. Voice commands can be used to perform web searches, get itineraries, check the weather, and more. The Chromebook will always listen for the voice command so long as the screen is on and the display is unlocked.
The feature was first described by Google employee François Beaufort on Google+. It is currently only available on the Chrome Dev channel, and users need to enable a...
Internet TV may have just gotten the break it needed. The Federal Communications Commission officially proposed a rule change today that would give any company that wants to carry television shows the ability to license them from cable and broadcast networks. That's a big deal, because networks aren't required to negotiate with most companies in the same way that they negotiate with cable and satellite providers. If this proposal goes into effect, any company that wants to offer TV shows over the internet will have the same negotiating powers to do so as a traditional TV provider would, meaning that internet TV providers could finally get off the ground.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler announced his intention to propose this back in October,...
NASA took the first major step in re-establishing its manned space program two weeks ago when the Orion spacecraft made its initial test flight. Today, the space agency released this 10-minute video that shows the craft's reentry from the moment it began to burn through the Earth's atmosphere to its eventual splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
Along the way, the video shows a number of things happening. First, the craft encounters friction from the atmosphere as it descends at 20,000 mph, creating a plasma trail of ionized gas behind it:
Once Orion's reaction control system gets the ship on the correct path toward its landing target, the various parachutes begin to deploy. Before that, though, the forward bay cover is...
If you ask President Obama, Sony made a "mistake" by canceling The Interview's release — but that doesn't mean the movie is gone for good. CNN has just run a quick teaser of Fareed Zakaria's interview with Sony Pictures CEO Lynton (emphasis ours):
"When it came to the crucial moment when the threat came out from what was called the [Guardians of Peace] at the time threatening audiences who would go to movie theaters the movie theater came to us one by one over a very short period of time we were completely surprised by it and announced that they would not carry the movie. At that time we had no alternative not to proceed with the theatrical release on December 25th. We have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered and we...
If you're a Nine Inch Nails fan and want to get your hands on nearly every bit of music Trent Reznor has ever performed, look no further: NIN fan site / archive Reflecting in the Chrome has just released a 527GB Torrent file that has essentially every single NIN concert that has been recorded, from the Pretty Hate Machine days through the present. That isn't everything the band has done, but a quick perusal of the archive shows that it is incredibly comprehensive.
The site's founder Ryan J. has been searching out and organizing the shows for a good six years and now feels the collection is complete enough to put out there. Nearly everything is sourced from an audience recording, which means the audio quality isn't going to match that of...
You're sitting outside a Starbucks when a man walks up to you carrying a video camera. He sits next to you, training his camera on your face, saying nothing. You ask why he's filming and he says, simply, "Why not?"
What do you do?
Spoiler alert: This piece discusses many details of the series and its finale.
The world’s first blockbuster podcast, Serial, released its final episode yesterday. You can be forgiven for missing it, because not a lot of people were talking about it. That’s because its long-speculated dramatic conclusion ended up lacking in both drama and conclusion. Its thoroughly unsatisfying denouement highlighted everything I have come to dislike about this show, which I feel is a failure as both a journalistic enterprise and true crime narrative.
Together with many millions of listeners, I followed along intently as radio producer Sarah Koenig crafted a story around the investigation of Hae Min Lee's murder and the conviction of Adnan Syed on the hit podcast Serial, which just released the last episode of its first season yesterday.
"A group of ethnic North Koreans residing in Japan known as the Chongryon are critical to North Korea’s cyber and intelligence programs, and help generate hard currency for the regime. " Read the rest
Too many Oklahomans and Nebraskans are buying weed in Colorado and bringing it back home, and it has made the attorney generals in those states sad. They want Uncle Sam to take Colorado's legal weed away and give it back to the black market so that the drug cartels, corrupt government officials, and the prison industry can go back to business as usual. Read the rest
Muckrock filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI for documents related to Gamergate. The request was refused. Read the rest
Samy Kamkar has a proof-of-concept attack through which he plugs a small USB stick into an unlocked Mac OS X machine and then quickly and thoroughly compromises the machine, giving him total, stealthy control over the system in seconds, even reprogramming the built-in firewall to blind it to its actions. Read the rest
Okay, faithful ProfHacker readers, that’s a wrap for 2014! We’ll see you in the new year. We hope that you have a good winter break!
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