Mars

NASA Is Building a Virtual Mars For VR Viewing (unrealengine.com) 23

An anonymous reader writes: NASA will release a free virtual reality program this year that will simulate exploring the surface of Mars. "Players will be able to walk on the Red Planet as well as drive the Mars Rover..." reads the official announcement at UnrealEngine.com. The Mars 2030 Experience will be available on Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and Samsung Gear VR, and will also "expand" to Sony PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, with additional versions for Android and iOS devices, and it will even be streamed on Twitch. NASA plans to reveal more details at this year's South by Southwest conference in March.
China

Malware Targets Skype Users, Records Conversations (softpedia.com) 34

An anonymous reader writes: A new backdoor trojan is making the rounds, coming equipped with features that allow it to steal files, take screengrabs, and record Skype conversations. Currently detected targeting US organizations, researchers linked it to previous malware developed by a Chinese cyber-espionage group called Admin@338. Besides recording Skype conversations, the malware can also steal Office documents, and includes a complicated installation procedure that allows it to avoid antivirus software installed on the machine.
Government

North Korea Accused of Testing an ICBM With Missile Launch Into Space (examiner.com) 204

MarkWhittington writes: Reuters reported that North Korea launched a long-range missile that is said to have placed a satellite into space. The launch happened much to the consternation of North Korea's neighbors, South Korea and Japan, as well as the United States. Pyongyang claimed that the missile launch was part of that country's peaceful space program. But, other countries are pretty sure that the launch was a test of an ICBM capable of placing a nuclear weapon on any target in the world, particularly the United States.
Android

Report: Google Will Go In Big For VR Hardware This Year 43

The Financial Times reports that Google isn't going to let the VR hardware wars fall to the likes of Samsung and Oculus; instead, it's working on a (cardboard-free) VR headset of its own, to be released in conjunction with Android VR software intended not only to make Android more VR friendly in general but specifically to help developers reduce nausea-inducing lag. The report doesn't quite come out of the blue, considering that Google has shipped more than 5 million of its own Cardboard viewer already, and has several projects dealing with VR infrastructure, either directly (like Jump) or indrectly (like Project Tango). Google (or Alphabet) has proven itself a hardware behemoth, not just the "search giant" it's so often called in news stories, and of late seems to be more interested in making its footprint in hardware a bit firmer.
Transportation

Elon Musk's Next Great Idea? Electric Air Travel (bgr.com) 231

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from BGR: Elon Musk is changing the world one idea at a time. First, with Tesla, the man so many people call the real life Tony Stark has done an incredible job of bringing electric vehicles to the mainstream. Second, Musk has been doing an impressive job over at SpaceX in the realm of space travel. And third, Musk's effective rough draft of a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop is being contemplated and conceptualized in a very real way by some extremely smart people. So where does Musk go from here? Why, Mars of course. Recently, Musk said that he plans to unveil SpaceX's Mars roadmap next September. But on another front, Musk has also been thinking about developing an electric airplane capable of taking off and landing vertically. While answering a few questions during a Q&A session at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Award Ceremony last week, Musk was asked what his 'next great idea' was. The answer? Electric-powered air travel.
Firefox

Firefox Adopts a 6-8 Week Variable Release Schedule (mozilla.org) 201

AmiMoJo writes: Four years ago Mozilla moved to a fixed-schedule release model, otherwise known as the Train Model, in which we released Firefox every six weeks to get features and updates to users faster. Now Mozilla is moving to a variable 6-8 week cycle, with the same number of releases per year but some flexibility to 'respond to emerging user and market needs' and allow time for holidays. The new release schedule looks like this:
  • 2016-01-26 – Firefox 44
  • 2016-03-08 – Firefox 45, ESR 45 (6 weeks cycle)
  • 2016-04-19 – Firefox 46 (6 weeks cycle)
  • 2016-06-07 – Firefox 47 (7 weeks cycle)
  • 2016-08-02 – Firefox 48 (8 weeks cycle)
  • 2016-09-13 – Firefox 49 (6 weeks cycle)
  • 2016-11-08 – Firefox 50 (8 weeks cycle)
  • 2016-12-13 – Firefox 50.0.1 (5 week cycle, release for critical fixes as needed)
  • 2017-01-24 – Firefox 51 (6 weeks from prior release)

Power

Ask Slashdot: Surge Protection For International Travel? 113

New submitter gaiageek writes: As someone who has lost a laptop power supply (and thus use of the laptop) due to a late-night power surge while traveling in a developing country, I'm acutely aware of the need for surge protection when traveling abroad. While practically all laptop and phone power adapters these days are voltage auto-sensing 100V-240V compatible, most so-called "travel" surge protectors are restricted to either 110V or 220V. Given the space and weight constraints of carry-on only travel, I'd like to avoid having to carry two separate surge protectors knowing I may go from Central America (110V) to Southeast Asia (220V). Strangely, laptop specific surge protectors typically are 100V-240V compatible, but this doesn't provide protection for a phone or tablet that requires the original power supply (can't be charged from a notebook USB port).

Is there really no solution out there short using a 110V-240V notebook surge protector with an adapter to go from a "cloverleaf" notebook plug to a 5-15R (standard US) plug receptacle?
Social Networks

Facebook Knocks "Six Degrees of Separation" Down a Few Notches (i-programmer.info) 83

mikejuk writes: Six degrees of separation is the, already well established, idea that any individual is connected to any other via six network nodes. New research has discovered that the average between Facebook users is just three and a half: "We know that people are more connected today than ever before. Over the past five years, the global Facebook community has more than doubled in size. Today we're announcing that during that same time period, the degrees of separation between a typical pair of Facebook users has continued to decrease to 3.57 degrees, down from 3.74 degrees in 2011. This is a significant reflection of how closely connected the world has become." This may all be true and Facebook makes us better connected, but it leaves the question of the quality of the connections open. Are Facebook friends anything like real friends?
Businesses

Startup Uses Sensor Networks To Debug Science Experiments (xconomy.com) 18

gthuang88 writes: Environmental factors like temperature, humidity, or lighting often derail life science experiments. Now Elemental Machines, a startup from the founders of Misfit Wearables, is trying to help scientists debug experiments using distributed sensors and machine-learning software to detect anomalies. The product is in beta testing with academic labs and biotech companies. The goal is to help speed up things like biology research and drug development. Wiring up experiments is part of a broader effort to create "smart labs" that automate some of the scientific process.
Technology

World's Smallest Optical Switch Uses a Single Atom (gizmag.com) 37

Zothecula writes: The rapid and on-going development of micro-miniature optical electronic devices is helping to usher in a new era of photonic computers and light-based memories that promise super-fast processor speeds and ultra-secure communications. However, as these components are shrunk ever further, fundamental limits to their dimensions are dictated by the wavelength of light itself. Now researchers at ETH Zurich claim to have overcome this limitation by creating both the world's smallest optical switch using a single atom, and accompanying circuitry that appears to break the rules by being smaller than the wavelength of the light that passes through it.
Facebook

Study Finds Sleep Deprivation Increases Compulsive Facebook Usage (thestack.com) 49

An anonymous reader writes: A study at UC Irvine has taken a reverse approach to the customary interest in the relationship between technology and tiredness, finding that people who make themselves tired through excessive use of social media such as Facebook are considerably more likely to continue compulsive use of it and deepen their exhaustion. Lead researcher Gloria Mark says "If you're being distracted, what do you do? You go to Facebook. It's lightweight, it's easy, and you're tired."
Windows

Windows 10 Gets Core Console Host Enhancements (nivot.org) 231

x0n writes: As of Windows 10 TH2 (10.0.1058), the core console subsystem has support for a large number of ANSI and VT100 escape sequences. This is likely to prepare for full Open SSH server/client integration, which is already underway over on github. It looks like xterm is finally coming to Windows. OpenSSH was previously announced (last year) by the very forward-looking PowerShell team. The linked article provides some context, and explains that the console host isn't the same as either cmd.exe or powershell.exe, but there is a lot of overlap in functionality.
Displays

Unreal Engine Will Soon Allow Developers To Build Games Inside of VR (roadtovr.com) 34

An anonymous reader writes: Epic Games, the creators of Unreal Engine, has been a longstanding supporter of VR. They were on board way back when Oculus sparked the VR industry in 2012 with a Kickstarter that would snowball into a rekindling of consumer virtual reality. Having been one of the first major game engines to support VR headsets like the Rift, the company has been aggressively positioning Unreal Engine as the go-to tool for VR developers. Now they're taking a massive next step, showing the first look at bringing developers themselves inside of virtual reality to craft games with the full set of UE4 tools at their fingertips. That means that developers can place and manipulate objects from right within a world in progress; the video demo in the linked story is impressive.
Bitcoin

Ask Slashdot: Time To Get Into Crypto-currency? If So, Which? 259

Qbertino writes: With the ever-looming cyberpunk future in close proximity, I'm starting to wonder if it isn't time to get myself familiar with crypto currency as a means of trade. Bitcoin is all the hype, but the blockchain has flaws, in that it isn't as anonymous as one would hope for — you can track past transactions. Rumors of Bitcoin showing cracks are popping up and also there are quite a few alternatives out there. So I have some questions: Is getting into dealing with crypto currency worthwhile already? Is Bitcoin the way to go, or will it falter under wide use / become easily trackable once NSA and the likes adapt their systems to doing exactly that? What digital currency has the technical and mind-share potential to supersede bitcoin? Are there feasible cryptocurrencies that have the upsides of Bitcoin (such as a mathematical limit to their amount) but are fully anonymous in transactions? What do the economists and digi-currency nerds here have to contribute on that? What are your experiences with handling and holding cryptocurrency? And does Bitcoin own the market or is it still flexible enough for an technology upgrade?
Microsoft

Even With Telemetry Disabled, Windows 10 Talks To Dozens of Microsoft Servers (voat.co) 528

An esteemed reader writes: Curious about the various telemetry and personal information being collected by Windows 10, one user installed Windows 10 Enterprise and disabled all of the telemetry and reporting options. Then he configured his router to log all the connections that happened anyway. Even after opting out wherever possible, his firewall captured Windows making around 4,000 connection attempts to 93 different IP addresses during an 8 hour period, with most of those IPs controlled by Microsoft. Even the enterprise version of Windows 10 is checking in with Redmond when you tell it not to — and it's doing so frequently.
Twitter

Twitter Tackles Terrorists In Targeted Takedown (betanews.com) 98

Mark Wilson writes: Having previously battled trolls, Twitter has now turned its attention to terrorists and their supporters. The site has closed down more than 125,000 accounts associated with terrorism since the middle of 2015, it announced in a statement. Although a full breakdown of figures is not provided, Twitter says most of these accounts were related to ISIS. Having increased the size of its account review team, the site has reduced the time it takes to investigate accounts that are reported, and has also started to investigate 'accounts similar to those reported'.
Botnet

Online Museum Displays Decades of Malware (thestack.com) 39

An anonymous reader writes: archive.org has launched a Museum of Malware, which devotes itself to a historical look at DOS-based viruses of the 1980s and 1990s, and gives viewers the opportunity to run the viruses in a DOS game emulator, and to download 'neutered' versions of the code. With an estimated 50,000 DOS-based viruses in existence by the year 2000, the Malware Museum's 65 examples should be seen as representative of an annoying, but more innocent era of digital vandalism.
Security

Avast SafeZone Browser Lets Attackers Access Your Filesystem (softpedia.com) 35

An anonymous reader writes: Just two days after Comodo's Chromodo browser was publicly shamed by Google Project Zero security researcher Tavis Ormandy, it's now Avast's turn to be publicly scorned for failing to provide a "secure" browser for its users. Called SafeZone, and also known as Avastium, Avast's custom browser is offered as a bundled download for all who purchase or upgrade to a paid version of Avast Antivirus 2016. This poor excuse of a browser was allowing attackers to access files on the user's filesystem just by clicking on malicious links. The browser wouldn't even have to be opened, and the malicious link could be clicked in "any" browser.
Desktops (Apple)

Scareware Signed With Apple Cert Targets OS X Machines (threatpost.com) 39

msm1267 writes: A unique scareware campaign targeting Mac OS X machines has been discovered, and it's likely the developer behind the malware has been at it a while since the installer that drops the scareware is signed with a legitimate Apple developer certificate.

"Sadly, this particular developer certificate (assigned to a Maksim Noskov) has been used for probably two years in similar attacks," said Johannes Ullrich, dean of research of the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center, which on Thursday publicly disclosed the campaign. "So far, it apparently hasn't been revoked by Apple."

Cellphones

Foxconn Set To Acquire Sharp Corporation For $5.6 Billion (appleinsider.com) 45

Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics contract manufacturing/assembly company, is reported to be finalizing a deal to acquire Sharp Corporation for $5.6 billion, with the beleaguered company having finally rejected a proposed government rescue package in favor of the deal. Foxconn, formerly known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd, was brought to media attention in 2010, when the company installed suicide nets to stop the high number of employee suicides at company dorms. Although it seems out of the ordinary that one of the world's few producers of LCD panels is negotiating with Foxconn, the deal is expected to go through, making it one of the biggest foreign takeovers of a Japanese company.

Slashdot Top Deals