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MINI VAN DE GRAAFF IS A SHOCKING DESK TOY

 

continue https://hackaday.com/2018/12/10/mini-van-de-graaff-is-a-shocking-desk-toy/

 

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Feds have paid undercover informants in migrant caravan

The Department of Homeland Security is gathering intelligence from paid undercover informants inside the migrant caravan that is now reaching the California-Mexico border as well as monitoring the text messages of migrants, according to two DHS officials.

The 4,000 migrants, mainly from Honduras, have used WhatsApp text message groups as a way to organize and communicate along their journey to the California border, and DHS personnel have joined those groups to gather that information.

The intelligence gathering techniques are combined with reports from DHS personnel working in Mexico with the government there in an effort to keep tabs on the caravan’s size, movements and any potential security threats.

continue : Feds have paid undercover informants in migrant caravan

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Election fraud scheme on L.A. got homeless to sign fake names for cigarettes and cash

A forged signature swapped for $1 — or sometimes a cigarette.

The crude exchange played out hundreds of times on L.A.’s skid row during the 2016 election cycle and again this year, prosecutors said Tuesday as they announced criminal charges against nine people accused in a fraud scheme.

Using cash and cigarettes as lures, the defendants approached homeless people on skid row and asked them to forge signatures on state ballot measure petitions and voter registration forms, the district attorney’s office said. The defendants — some of whom were scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday — face several criminal charges, including circulating a petition with fake names, voter fraud and registering a fictitious person.

The charges, which were filed three weeks ago but made public Tuesday, followed a Los Angeles Police Department crackdown on suspected election fraud on skid row earlier in the year.

“They paid individuals to sign the names,” Officer Deon Joseph, the senior lead officer on skid row,told The Times in September. “That’s an assault on our democracy.”

State officials said petition signature scams aren’t widespread in California, but Joseph said they do pop up from time to time on skid row. People hired to help qualify initiatives for the ballot are often paid per signature collected, typically $1 to $2, but officials said a recent slew of proposed ballot initiatives had pushed the rate as high as $6 a signature. It is illegal for the collectors, however, to pay people for signatures.

Source: Election fraud scheme on L.A.’s skid row got homeless to sign fake names for cigarettes and cash, D.A. says

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US ‘missionary’ shot dead with arrows by tribe as he landed to convert them to Christianity

 

AN American tourist was killed by a tribe on a remote Indian island as soon as he set foot on their home.

North Sentinel Island, off-bounds to visitors, is home to the Sentinelese, who killed John Allen Chau, after he was illegally ferried there by fishermen, officials said.

 

John Allen Chou was last seen alive on November 16 by the fishermen who took him to the island
The island is located in India’s remote Andaman and Nicobar chain.

The Sentinelese are a community of hunter-gatherers who live there isolated from the outside world.

“A murder case has been registered,” one of the officials told Reuters.

Because contact with the tribe is forbidden John’s killers cannot be prosecuted despite taking a life.

He described himself on Instagram as a “Wilderness EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), “PADI Advanced Open Water Diver”, “Outbound Collective Explorer” and a “Snakebite Survivor”

A police statement described him as ‘some kind of paramedic’

The local Director General of Police Dependra Pathak told TNM:”His body has not yet been retrieved because we have to strategise keeping in mind the nuances and sensitivity of other cultures.

“We are working on that, and are in contact with anthropologists and tribal welfare experts.

“We will figure out some strategy.”

Source: First pic of US ‘missionary’ shot dead with arrows by tribe as he landed on remote island to convert them to Christianity

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China busts £5m scam run by fraudsters recycling USED condoms

The bust saw 17 people arrested across Henan, Hebei, and Zhejiang.

Cangnan police chief Zheng Xidan said: “We found the workshops where the suspects made those condoms in rural areas in Henan and Hebei. They were very simple and crude.

“The hygienic conditions in those villages were very bad. We saw the condoms they were making – they blended the condoms with silicone oil in a bucket.

“It was totally below official manufacturing standards.”

 The fakes were even sold in forged Durex boxes

The fakes were even sold in forged Durex boxes

The fakes were sold wholesale to retailers for 11p per pack – a fraction of the £16 sticker price for real ones.

They were found to contain fungi, thin patches, and even holes.

Play Video

First Dates sees awkward moment when Freddie admits he’s allergic to condoms

Cangnan police swooped after a tip-off that a local businesman was flogging condoms for far below the market value.

In February, cops in Yuncheng, a city in Shanxi province, seized 2million fake Durex and Okamoto condoms.

More than 10 similar cases had been heard by courts in Henan alone since 2014, according to mainland media reports, and those found guilty have been sentenced to up to four years in jail.


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NHS ‘Use A Condom’ campaign video tells viewers what it’s like to have an STI


Source: China busts £5m scam run by fraudsters recycling USED condoms

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Comet’s historic flyby may be visible for the holidays

Just in time for the holidays, our inner solar system is about to receive a visitor that may add a green glow to December’s night sky.

46P/Wirtanen, a three-quarter-mile-wide periodic comet that comes our way roughly every 5.4 years, will make its closest approach to Earth on Dec. 16. Categorized as a “hyperactive” comet, it belongs to a small family of comets that appear to emit more water than they should for the size of their nucleus.

Despite a distance of 7.2 million miles, or 30 times the distance from the Earth to the moon, Comet Wirtanen will be the 10th closest comet to graze Earth since 1950. It could also, just maybe, become the brightest of the lot.

Source: Comet’s historic flyby may be visible for the holidays

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Passcodes are protected by Fifth Amendment, says court

There was an underage driver at the wheel, driving on a Florida highway. Police say he was speeding.

When he crashed, one of the passengers in his car died. At the hospital, a blood test showed that the minor had a .086 blood-alcohol content: slightly over the legal limit of .08% for non-commercial drivers.

According to court documents, police found two iPhones in the car: one that belonged to a surviving passenger and one that allegedly belonged to the driver. The passenger told police that the friends had been drinking vodka earlier in the day and that she’d been talking with the driver on her iPhone.

The police wanted the driver’s phone, so they got a warrant to search it for data, photos, text messages, and more. They also sought an order compelling the minor to hand over the passcode for the iPhone and for an iTunes account associated with it.

And this is where we get into the evolving world of the Fifth Amendment and compelled passcode disclosure. Last Wednesday, 24 October, the Florida Court of Appeal quashed a juvenile court’s order for the defendant – identified only by his initials, G.A.Q.L., since he’s a minor – to disclose his passcodes.

Source: Passcodes are protected by Fifth Amendment, says court

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Racist note at Kansas State University turns out to be a hoax

A flier at a Kansas State University apartment complex bearing the very racist statement “Beware [N-words] Live Here!!! Knock at Your Own Risk” has turned out to be a hoax.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the Kansas State Police Department wrote “Upon questioning, the person who reported the incident admitted to creating and posting the note to their own door. The matter will be addressed in accordance with applicable disciplinary procedures.”

This makes two such incidents in as many years the school. Last fall, a student scribbled N-word graffiti all over his own car and later claimed (admitted) it was just “a Halloween prank that got out of hand.”

The latest incident, as you’d expect, drew immediate denunciations:

The Kansas State Housing and Dining Services account also tweeted out “K-State HDS does not and will never tolerate racism in its communities. The matter will be investigated.”

Well, it was investigated — and it turned out to be bogus.

Last year’s hoax had some rather material ramifications … but not for the culprit. The incident led to “stepped up patrols” by campus police along with development of a multicultural center and creation of two university “diversity” positions.

Hoaxer Dauntarius Williams was let off the hook for filing a false police report.

Source: Racist note at Kansas State University turns out to be a hoax – The College Fix

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Tim Berners-Lee Launches Open Source Project Solid To Start A “New Internet”

Due to the continuous torrent of data breaches and scandals like Cambridge Analytica, Tim Berners-Lee is devastated. To fight the powerful forces of the Internet, world wide web inventor has worked on a project called “Solid.”

In collaboration with MIT, the open-source project is build to make web decentralized, snatch power from big players like Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. Solid offers tools to create social applications which follow the existing W3C standards. In simple words, you will have a tremendous amount of control over your data.

With Solid, you create this data “pods” (personal online data stores) that can be hosted wherever you want. When an app will ask for your data, Solid will authenticate and give access to the specific pod.

“Solid is guided by the principle of “personal empowerment through data” which we believe is fundamental to the success of the next era of the web. We believe data should empower each of us. With Solid, you will have far more personal agency over data – you decide which apps can access it,” Tim Berner’s wrote in a blog post.

According to Tim, Solid will restore the balance on the web “by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way.”

continue https://fossbytes.com/tim-berners-lee-open-source-project-solid-new-internet/

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30 spies dead after Iran cracked CIA comms network with, er, Google search

Shutterstock image of a google search bar

Iran apparently infiltrated the communications network of CIA agents who allowed their secret websites, used to exchange messages with informants, to be crawled by Google.

A report from Yahoo! News this week claims that a 2009 breach of the US spy bods’ communications channels came after the Iranian government infiltrated a series of websites the CIA had used to talk to its sources in places like Iran and China.

Zach Dorfman, one of the journos behind the Yahoo! report, previously detailed the CIA’s “botched” communications system, from the point of view of China, over the summer for Foreign Policy.

“We’re still dealing with the fallout,” one former national security official was quoted as saying this month. “Dozens of people around the world were killed because of this.”

Web scraping is a two-edged sword

The communications leak was believed to have stemmed from a simple Google search. Suspecting the US had agents and sources within its nuclear program, Iran began to hunt for the mole. After a double agent showed Iran’s government one of the sites, they were then able to use Google to identify other sites the intel agency was using, and began to intercept their communications.

Source: 30 spies dead after Iran cracked CIA comms network with, er, Google search – new claim

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New FAA Rules for Drones Go Into Effect

 

The 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act bring a new regime for recreational flyers
Photo: iStockphoto

Last week saw the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act become law, and the new legislation has quite a few implications for people who fly small drones or model aircraft as a hobby. Before diving into the latest changes, it’s worth reviewing how the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has regulated such things in the past.

Way back in 1981, the FAA issued an “Advisory Circular” that provided guidance for people flying model aircraft. Most modelers considered those guidelines reasonable enough, but if you didn’t conform to them, it was no big deal—they weren’t rules, just recommendations. So, for example, if you flew a model sailplane and caught a thermal that took it more than 400 feet off the ground, the FAA really couldn’t object that you were in violation of its advice to keep lower.

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 clarified the picture somewhat, because it included Section 336: Special rule for model aircraft. That section essentially said that the FAA may not regulate model aircraft. It did, however, restrict the definition of model aircraft to something that was flown purely for recreational purposes and was kept within the line of sight of the operator. It further restricted the FAA’s hands-off posture to models that weigh less than 55 pounds, aren’t being flown near an airport, and are “operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization.” That last clause has been interpreted various ways, but clearly reflects the interest of organizations like the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

A key part of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 was the distinction it made between model airplanes and helicopters being flown for fun and other small unmanned aircraft being operated for commercial purposes. The latter category, that law made clear, was subject to FAA regulation. A 2014 “interpretation” issued by the FAA also expressed the position that flying “within the line of sight” meant the operator was looking at the aircraft, not using video goggles to fly by FPV, or first-person view, by which the pilot controls the model using video from an onboard camera.

continue https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/new-faa-rules-for-drones-go-into-effect

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Popular browsers made to cough up browsing history

Anonymous Coward, in commenting on a report from The Register about vulnerabilities that expose people’s browsing histories, pithily sums up potential repercussions like so:

Sweetheart, whats this ‘saucyferrets.com’ site I found in your browsing history?

If you value your privacy and your ferret predilections, be advised that in August, security researchers from Stanford University and UC San Diego presented, during the 2018 USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies (WOOT), four new, privacy-demolishing attack methods to get at people’s browsing histories.

The novel attacks fit into two classic categories – visited-link attacks and cache-based attacks – and exploit new, modern browser features such as the CSS Paint application programming interface (API) and the JavaScript bytecode cache: two examples of evolving web code that don’t take privacy into account when handling cross-origin URL data, the researchers say.

So-called history sniffing vulnerabilities are as old as dirt, and browser code has addressed them in the past. Here’s a paper written on the issue back in 2000, and here’s a Firefox bug reported that same year about how CSS page disclosure could let others see what pages you’ve visited.

Old or not, common web browsers – Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, and Brave – are all, to greater or lesser degree, affected by the new methods of sniffing, the researchers say.

Even most of the security-focused browsers they evaluated – they looked at ChromeZero, Brave, FuzzyFox and DeterFox – coughed up browsing histories in the face of two of their attacks. The Tor Browser alone stood fast against all four attacks: not surprising, since it doesn’t actually store users’ browser histories.

continue https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2018/11/02/popular-browsers-made-to-cough-up-browsing-history/

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Why DARPA Is Betting a Million Bucks on an “Impossible” Space Drive

emDrive

GETTY IMAGESLUISMMOLINA

The law of conservation of momentum says that a rocket (or anything else) can’t accelerate forward without some form of exhaust ejected backward. But in 1998, a British engineer named Roger Shawyer announced the seemingly impossible—he had built a closed system that could generate thrust.

Twenty years later and many scientists still call the Shawyer’s EmDrive impossible, but that hasn’t stopped DARPA, the Defense Department agency that funds potential technological breakthroughs of all kinds, from putting serious money behind it.

An Irritating Anomaly

image
EmDrive concept

SPR LIMITED

Here’s how the EmDrive works. Imagine you have a truncated cone—a tube wider at one end than the other—made of copper. Seal it, then fill it with microwaves. Like other electromagnetic radiation, microwaves exert a tiny amount of pressure. But because of the shape of this device, they would exert slightly more force on one end than the other. So, even though it’s a closed system, the cone would experience a net thrust and, if you had enough microwaves, it would gradually accelerate.

Build it to a large enough scale and you could revolutionize propulsion.

But all of this should be theoretically impossible, hence the skepticism hurled by respectable physicists and SGU, a skeptic website that compared the idea behind the EmDrive to someone trying to move a car forward by pushing on the dashboard.

continue https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/a24219132/darpa-emdrive/

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BASE Jumping Into an Airplane Looks as Crazy as it Sounds

 

After 100 test flights and an abandoned first attempt, the Soul Flyers made history when Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet leapt from the top of the 4,158 metre Jungfrau summit in the Swiss Alps into a small airplane.

The Pilatus Porter light aircraft was flown by Philippe Bouvier and navigated by project coordinator, Yves “Jetman” Rossy. With 3,200 metres of vertical freefall, the team had 2 minutes and 45 seconds to attempt the stunt.

In this extended cut of the daring feat completed last year, we get to see more footage of the jump and lead up to the exciting moment both BASE jumpers made it safely into the plane before jumping back out for a victory freefall.

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High Detail 3D Printing With An Airbrush Nozzle

On a fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer, the nozzle size dictates how small a detail you can print. Put simply, you can’t print features smaller than your nozzle for the same reason you’d have trouble signing a check with a paint roller. If the detail is smaller than the diameter of your tool, you’re just going to obliterate it. Those who’ve been around the block a few times with their desktop 3D printer may have seen this come up in practice when their slicer refused to print lines which were thinner than the installed nozzle (0.4mm on the vast majority of printers).

Smaller nozzles exist for those looking to improve their printer’s detail on small objects, but [René Jurack] wasn’t happy with just putting a finer nozzle on a stock E3D-style hotend. In his opinion it’s still a hotend and arrangement intended for 0.4mm printing, and doesn’t quite fully realize the potential of a smaller diameter nozzle. After some experimentation, he thinks he’s found the solution by using airbrush nozzles.

Source: High Detail 3D Printing With An Airbrush Nozzle

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Voice Phishing Scams Are Getting More Clever

Most of us have been trained to be wary of clicking on links and attachments that arrive in emails unexpected, but it’s easy to forget scam artists are constantly dreaming up innovations that put a new shine on old-fashioned telephone-based phishing scams. Think you’re too smart to fall for one? Think again: Even technology experts are getting taken in by some of the more recent schemes (or very nearly).

Matt Haughey is the creator of the community Weblog MetaFilter and a writer at Slack. Haughey banks at a small Portland credit union, and last week he got a call on his mobile phone from an 800-number that matched the number his credit union uses.

Actually, he got three calls from the same number in rapid succession. He ignored the first two, letting them both go to voicemail. But he picked up on the third call, thinking it must be something urgent and important. After all, his credit union had rarely ever called him.

Haughey said he was greeted by a female voice who explained that the credit union had blocked two phony-looking charges in Ohio made to his debit/ATM card. She proceeded to then read him the last four digits of the card that was currently in his wallet. It checked out.

Haughey told the lady that he would need a replacement card immediately because he was about to travel out of state to California. Without missing a beat, the caller said he could keep his card and that the credit union would simply block any future charges that weren’t made in either Oregon or California.

continue https://krebsonsecurity.com/2018/10/voice-phishing-scams-are-getting-more-clever/

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13-year-olds given mastectomies at California clinic

How old does one have to be to consent to a mastectomy? Only 13, it appears. An article in JAMA Pediatrics on “Chest Dysphoria in Transmasculine Minors and Young Adults” at a US clinic was based on a survey which included 2 girls (transmale) who were 13 years old and had both breasts removed and 5 who were only 14.

According to the authors, who are based at the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, “All postsurgical participants (68 of 68; 100%) affirmed the statement, ‘It was a good decision to undergo chest reconstruction.’”

Since the girls were overwhelmingly positive about their operation, the authors contend that “Professional guidelines and clinical practice should recommend patients for chest surgery based on individual need rather than chronologic age.”

However, it’s unclear whether the girls (transmales) had enough time for a mature evaluation of their life-changing decision. For nearly all the 68 participants in the survey, only two years had passed. To affirm that there were “very low rates of regret” among minors seems a bit premature. For instance, a study of women who had a single or double mastectomy found that they were quite unrealistic about life after surgery. “Patients generally thought mastectomy would be worse than it was, and they thought reconstruction would be better than it was,” said the lead author.

continue https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/13-year-olds-given-mastectomies-at-california-clinic/12816#When:13:36:00Z

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New MacBooks will disconnect microphone when lid is closed

Apple unveiled new Macs and iPads on Tuesday and has pushed out security updates for macOS (Mojave, High Sierra, Sierra), iOS, watchOS, tvOS, Safari, iTunes, and iCloud for Windows.

Among the various vulnerabilities fixed is an ICMP packet-handling vulnerability in the XNU kernel that could be exploited remotely to achieve code execution on, extract data from, or crash macOS powered devices (as demonstrated in the following video):

Closed MacBooks disable microphone

During the Apple event that presented the new devices to the world, Apple has also revealed that all new Mac portables (MacBooks) that have the T2 security chip built in automatically disable the microphone when the lid of the device is closed.

Source: Apple releases security updates, says new MacBooks will disconnect microphone when lid is closed – Help Net Security

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Sweden to launch helpline for those who beat their partners

The helpline has been influenced by a successful scheme in the UK. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
A new domestic violence helpline is launching in Sweden. But it’s not the victims who they want to get in touch, it’s the perpetrators.
The helpline, which will be launched next January, will take calls from people who subject their partners or children to violent attacks,  or who are worried they might do so in future, and give them advice on how to stop it happening.
“Every year about 30,000 victims ring the Swedish National Women’s Helpline, but there is no obvious way of getting into contact with those perpetrating the violence,” Christina Ericson, who is leading the project at the County Administrative Board of Stockholm, told Swedish state broadcaster SVT.
The pilot project is a joint venture between the county administrations of Skåne and Stockholm, and has inspired by the Respect Helpline for perpetrators of domestic violence launched in the UK in 2006.

Source: Sweden to launch helpline for those who beat their partners

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Brain implants used to treat Parkinson’s can be hacked and used to control people, scientists warn

Brain implants used to treat Parkinson’s disease could be hacked by cyber attackers and used to control people, scientists have claimed.

A report by the Oxford Functional Neurosurgery Group and cyber security company Kaspersky claims that people’s memories could be exploited by hackers and has called on cyber security companies, manufacturers and healthcare companies to develop new technology to stop them.

Source: Brain implants used to treat Parkinson’s can be hacked and used to control people, scientists warn

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Jon Stewart: Trump’s Winning War With Media by Using Their ‘Own Narcissism’ Against Them

Comedian and Daily Show legend Jon Stewart pointed out a chink in a journalists’ armor against President Donald Trump’s anti-media rhetoric: He has exploited the media’s “own narcissism,” forcing them to “change the conversation” to focus on what he wants to talk about.

Stewart began his point by noting that corporate media outlets have focused so much on the Trump phenomenon  because “you gotta’ make money to. You got bills to pay, man, you got electric bills, you got food.”

CNN International host Christiane Amanpour, who was interviewing Stewart along with fellow star comedian Dave Chappelle, pushed back on that statement and said that journalists have a different motivation.

Source: Jon Stewart: Trump’s Winning War With Media by Using Their ‘Own Narcissism’ Against Them

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Winamp is Back With Version 5.8 Beta, Now Officially Available for Download

In 2013, AOL announced that it’ll shutdown the popular Winamp media player and associated web services (Nullsoft brand) on December 20, 2013 and Winamp will no longer be available for download on the official website past December 20, 2013.

More details can be read at following article:

[End of an Era] Winamp is Shutting Down on December 20, 2013

Winamp was one of the most popular, most downloaded and widely used media players available for Windows operating system. In good ol’ days of Windows XP, almost all Windows users were aware of this small media player and used to install it in their computers to listen their favorite songs. It was one of the best media players and became famous due to its clean and minimal UI, lightweight program and very light on system resources.

Winamp_Skin_VLC_Media_Player.png

Everyone was disappointed by the announcement but then in 2014 a good news arrived on Internet that another company “Radionomy” bought Nullsoft brand (which included Winamp and SHOUTcast).

Radionomy relaunched the Winamp website and made Winamp available for download again to public. The last stable version of Winamp which was available for download on official Winamp website was version 5.66.

continue https://www.askvg.com/download-winamp-media-player/

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Top 10 Free Websites for Quality Copyright Free Photographs

Maybe you’re an aspiring photographer looking for inspiration. Perhaps an up-and-coming entrepreneur trying to find stock photography to add to your website. Whatever your profession, it’s never a bad idea to have some stock photography websites at your disposal.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best stock photography websites online to ensure that you have access to millions of free stock images instantly.

These stock image sites go great with these free clip art download sites, which you may find useful when you need something other than photographs.

How “Free” Is a Free Photograph?

Some websites allow you to download pictures for private use (e.g. background wallpapers) yet disallow images to be used commercially. This includes instances as business cards, websites, or posters. The websites below are protected under Creative Commons CC0.

“The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.” — CreativeCommons.org

The following websites either support, or are fully composed of, CC0 images available in the public domain. The owners of these images have allowed users to modify, edit, and use their images without copyright backlash.

continue https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/top-5-websites-for-free-stock-photographs/

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Web inventor Berners-Lee creates a new privacy first way of dealing with the internet

We live our lives on the internet. That’s because when Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, he made it easy for everyone to use it and share information. Fast forward 28-years, and your personal information is controlled largely by major companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Enough already. Berners-Lee wants to put our data back in our hands.

Berners-Lee wants to do this with a new open-source project: Solid. He’s not the first. People are sick of having their personal data locked in the hands of giant corporations. Adding insult to injury, as one privacy-scandal and security-hole follows another–AppleFacebook, and Google in just the last few weeks–it’s clear you can’t trust them to protect your data.

What to do? Well, with a lot of work you can protect your data. But, those methods leave the fundamental problem of your data resting in untrustworthy third-party hands. Berners-Lee who “was devastated” by recent privacy abuses, decided enough was enough.

continue https://www.zdnet.com/article/web-inventor-berners-lee-creates-a-new-privacy-first-way-of-dealing-with-the-internet

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Scientists Discover Bizarre Way to Build a House Out of Human Urine

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Of all the ambitious ideas that might deliver us from the wrath of the changing climate, turning human urine into liquid gold seems like a long shot. But according to scientists in South Africa, it turns out that the ubiquitous fluid contains a key ingredient that might help us in a variety of ways — including, oddly, a way to rebuild our cities once rising tides engulf coastal communities.

On Wednesday, a team at the University of Cape Town revealed that human urine can be manipulated into solid, brick-like forms they call “bio-bricks.” Unlike regular kiln-fired bricks, bio-bricks don’t require high heat, and producing them doesn’t spew out thousands of kilograms of greenhouse gases of carbon dioxide.

Water quality engineering lecturer Dyllon Randall, Ph.D., discovered urine’s potential after he began placing makeshift urinals around the university in an attempt to make fertilizer. The urinals contain builder’s lime, which reacts with the phosphorus in urine to produce fertilizer.

But even after the fertilizer was extracted, Randall soon realized that there was still some fluid left over. This, to use his words, was his “liquid gold.”

continue https://www.inverse.com/article/50238-sustainable-bio-bricks-made-of-human-urine

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Some Texans say voting machines are flipping selections to the other party

The secretary of state’s office said Friday that there have been reported issues with Hart eSlate voting machines, which are used in around 30 percent of counties statewide.

 

Some Texas voters are complaining that machines flipped their straight-ticket selections to the other party in key races during early voting, especially the much-watched Senate battle between Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke.

The secretary of state’s office said Friday that there have been reported issues with Hart eSlate voting machines, which are used in around 30 percent of counties statewide and feature a wheel for selecting candidates and buttons to move from screen to screen. But it says they are caused by voters themselves and often occur when they complete and submit ballots too quickly.

“The Hart eSlate machines are not malfunctioning, the problems being reported are a result of user error — usually voters hitting a button or using the selection wheel before the screen is finished rendering,” said Sam Taylor, spokesman for the office of Secretary of State Rolando Pablos, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

The machines are used in around 80 counties, including the state’s largest, Harris, which is home to Houston, as well as Travis, which includes Austin, and Tarrant, encompassing Fort Worth. Early voting in Texas began Monday and has featured strong turnout and long lines. It runs through Nov. 2, ahead of Election Day on Nov. 6.

The Texas Hart eSlate machines do not provide receipts or other forms of paper trail to voters, but those casting ballots do see a screen that shows their choices before final submission — and can go back and make changes. Complaints about flipped votes have cropped up elsewhere in past election cycles. Similar machines are used in parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia, according to Verified Voting, a nonprofit group focused on ensuring the accuracy of elections.

In a statement to supporters Friday, Cruz cited “multiple reports” of race selections changing and added “once you select the Republican party ticket, please be patient and do not select ‘next’ until the ballot has populated all of the selections.”

An advisory to county clerks and elections administrators issued Tuesday by Keith Ingram, the secretary of state’s office’s director of elections, said, “We have heard from a number of people voting on Hart eSlate machines that when they voted straight ticket, it appeared to them that the machine had changed one or more of their selections to a candidate from a different party.”

The Texas Democratic Party called the issue “a malfunction” and said it was causing Democrats to inadvertently vote for Cruz. It also accused the secretary of state’s office of not doing enough to warn voters of potential issues.

Source: Some Texans say voting machines are flipping selections to the other party

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Can You Trust Your Browser With Credit Card Information?

You’re shopping online; you find the perfect item, proceed to checkout, and pay. Your browser remembers your username. It might even remember your password, based on what you’ve entered in the past.

But then it asks whether you want it to save your credit card information. Can you trust your browser with keeping that secure? Should you avoid Autofill altogether? And how can your browser keep your financial data safe when you’re visiting websites?

What Exactly Is Autofill?

Can You Trust Your Browser With Credit Card Information? HMV password save

We trust our browsers with a huge amount of data, mostly because we feel we have to. You must have confidence that your browsing history, for instance, won’t be leaked en masse. Yet many of us are wary of the private information collected and used for advertising.

Nonetheless, we become complacent and let Autofill (a feature in web browsers like Google Chrome) and Autocomplete do the hard work for us.

No one likes filling in forms, and so Autofill will add in your email, phone number, and address for you if you want. You have to have this function turned on, of course—we’ll come back to this later on because you’ll need to know how toggle settings. Most mainstream browsers do this, notably Google Chrome, Safari, and Microsoft Edge, which boast the lion’s share of the market.

You can also use Autocomplete on Opera and Mozilla Firefox, both of which are especially well-known for their focus on maintaining your privacy.

You might think this is all done through cookies stored automatically, but implementation is more complex than that. It’s not simply a case of storing information: it’s also about presenting it in the appropriate fields.

There’s a section devoted to Autofill on your browser, so you can add in your credit or debit card information and rely on that in future. On Chrome, all you need to do is visit chrome://settings/autofill and enter payment methods.

But wait. Before you do that, you should know the dangers…

Should You Use Autofill for Payment Methods?

Can You Trust Your Browser With Credit Card Information? Chrome Autofill

The problem with using Autofill for credit card information isn’t about trusting your browser. It’s about hackers gaining access to this through phishing sites.

Phishing is simply a fraudulent means of obtaining personal information. Websites set up by cybercriminals may have text boxes for basic information which we regularly give upanyway. Despite the value of personal data, we often submit our names and email addresses. They don’t feel like a valuable commodity anymore because we use them to sign up for social networks, online shops, and newsletters.

Here’s How Much Your Identity Could Be Worth on the Dark Web Here’s How Much Your Identity Could Be Worth on the Dark WebIt’s uncomfortable to think of yourself as a commodity, but all of your personal details, from name and address to bank account details, are worth something to online criminals. How much are you worth?READ MORE

If you’ve got Autofill turned on, these text boxes will be automatically filled in. But some phishing sites have hidden elements. These won’t be seen by users, but dig into a page’s script, and malicious code reveals secret intents. These trick your Autofill function into adding private data which you’ve not approved of on the site but have within your browser.

Not all browsers do this. Chrome and Firefox only add credit card details into boxes you specifically click on. If a form element isn’t visible, then you don’t click in the box, so Autofill doesn’t relinquish any further data.

That’s not the only concern, though. Your main worry should be: what happens if someone else gets access to your browser?

This is possible in a couple of notable ways. The first is simple. Someone uses the same device. You probably trust the people you share a computer with, but junked or recycled hardware can be a serious security threat. Ideally, you’ll clean all data from any devices you’re passing on.

Beware These 8 Security Issues When Recycling Hardware Beware These 8 Security Issues When Recycling HardwareRecycling old hardware is a good idea, but you don’t want to give away personal data. Consider these security concerns before getting rid of your hardware, and see what you can do about them.READ MORE

Another means is, once more, through phishing. Take Vega Stealer for example. This malware was spread through an email campaign primarily targeted at the marketing and PR sector. Vega Stealer’s main purpose was to collect details stored within Chrome and Firefox, i.e. cookies and credentials stored for Autofill.

Essentially, you store data locally, but that doesn’t mean a third-party can’t access it.

Can You Trust Your Browser to Transmit Data?

Can You Trust Your Browser With Credit Card Information? Card Chrome save

If you can’t entirely trust your browser to Autocomplete your financial details, how can you trust it with payment details at all?

Browsers recognize that they have a duty of care. If they don’t look after users, those disgruntled customers will switch to one of their competitors.

Data sent between your device and a site’s server should be encrypted. This means private information is rendered unreadable to anyone without the correct decryption key, i.e. your password. Check a site is secure by looking at the URL; if it reads “HTTPS”, that extra “S” stands for “Secure”.

How Web Browsing Is Becoming Even More Secure How Web Browsing Is Becoming Even More SecureWe have SSL certificates to thank for our security and privacy. But recent breaches and flaws may have dented your trust in the cryptographic protocol. Fortunately, SSL is adapting, being upgraded – here’s how.READ MORE

You could also use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which acts as a tunnel between two destinations. Picture a tunnel between your PC and the website you’re using. No other parties can look at what’s going through that tunnel unless they’re at either end-point. VPNs even protect your data when your device is connected to a public network.

As VPNs go, we highly recommend ExpressVPN (save up to 49% off using this link) and CyberGhost.

VPNs are typically a regular expense, but Opera has one already built-in. It’s not turned on by default, so you’ll need to go to the browser settings, then Privacy and security > Enable VPN.

Sadly, other browsers don’t boast this same feature. This is partly because VPNs stop the collection of cookies, which many consider enhance your online experience—though, as Vega Stealer demonstrates, they can also be exploited.

And let’s not forget that you don’t have a choice but to trust your browser to some degree. If you shop online, you must have confidence that your browser takes the necessary security measures. Otherwise, you’re reduced to solely visiting bricks-and-mortar stores.

How Do You Turn Off Autofill?

The process is different depending on the browser you use. Still, it’s typically very easy to do. On Chrome, for example, click on the vertical ellipsis in the top right-hand corner then go on Settings. Or take a shortcut by going to chrome://settings/autofill.

From there, you can turn Autofill off completely, or just instruct Chrome not to collect payment methods. Our look at Autofill’s privacy implications explains how to disable this feature in all mainstream browsers.

Source: Can You Trust Your Browser With Credit Card Information?

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How To Run SpeedTest From The Linux Terminal

How To Run SpeedTest From The Linux Terminal

Introducing Speedtest-cli: it’s a command-line utility that lets you run Speedtest from the Linux terminal. It does everything that the Speedtest website does but with Linux command arguments. To install this software, you’ll need the latest version of the Python programming language.

Install Speedtest-cli

Speedtest-Cli is installable via many different Linux distribution’s software sources. It is also available via the source code or the Python Package tool.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install speedtest-cli

Debian

sudo apt-get install speedtest-cli

Arch Linux

Arch users looking to install Speedtest-cli will need to first enable the “Community” software repository in /etc/pacman.conf. To activate, launch a terminal and open pacman.conf with Nano.

sudo nano /etc/pacman.conf

Scroll down and find “Community.” Remove all instances of # from in front of “Community,” and the lines underneath it as well. After removing the # symbols, press Ctrl + O to save the edits, and exit Nano with Ctrl + X.

Re-sync your Pacman to enable the Community repo.

sudo pacman -Syy

With the Community rep now up and running on your Arch Linux PC, install the speedtest-cli utility.

sudo pacman -S speedtest-cli

Fedora

sudo dnf install speedtest-cli -y

OpenSUSE

sudo zypper install speedtest-cli

Generic Linuxes Via Python PIP

If you can’t get the Speedtest-cli utility, you’ll be able to get it going with Python and PIP. To start the installation, open up a terminal window and ensure you have the latest version of both Python and Pip. When you’ve determined you have the newest version of Python and Pip working on your Linux PC, install Speedtest-cli with the following command.

Note: do not try to use sudo during the installation, as it will mess up your Python development environment.

pip install speedtest-cli

Generic Linuxes via building from source

Going the Python Pip route on generic Linux distributions is usually the easiest way to get it going if your Linux distribution doesn’t care the software. However, if PIP doesn’t work, there’s another solution: building from source.

Before installing Speedtest-cli via the Github source code, install the Python programming language, as well as the Git tool. Then, use the git clone command to grab the code.

git clone https://github.com/sivel/speedtest-cli.git

Move your terminal into the speedtest-cli code folder and update the contents’ permissions.

sudo chmod +x *

Run the installation tool to get Speedtest-cli working on your Linux PC.

python setup.py install

Use Speedtest-Cli

To run a basic internet speed test with the Speedtest-cli tool, launch a terminal, and run speedtest-cli in it. What follows is a basic test of your ping, upload, and download speed. The results of your internet test will show up in text form when the process is complete.

speedtest-cli

If you’re new to using the terminal and wish internet test results were easier to read, add the simple modifier to speedtest-clicommands.

speedtest-cli  --simple

Download-only Test

Want to figure out your download speed but don’t feel like running a full internet speed test? Try running the speedtest-cli command with the no-upload modifier.

speedtest-cli --no-upload

Combine no-upload with the simple modifier for an easy to read experience.

speedtest-cli --no-upload --simple

Upload-only Test

Running speedtest-cli with the no-download command will allow the user to do an “upload only” test.

speedtest-cli --no-download

For best results, run with the simple modifier.

speedtest-cli --no-download --simple

View Graphical Results

When you run an internet speed test on Speedtest.net, you have the option of viewing your network results in a PNG image. If you want a picture result of speed tests you run with speedtest-cli in the terminal, add the share modifier.

speedtest-cli --share --simple

Speedtest With Bytes

Each internet test you run with the speedtest-cli command is measured in bits. It’s the universal standard for measuring speed on the internet. If this doesn’t sit right with you, consider using the bytes modifier in your tests.

speedtest-cli --bytes

Export SpeedTest To CSV

Do you run speed tests a lot? Want to keep track of your data? Consider running the speedtest-cli command with the csvmodifier. Using this feature prints out test results in the “csv” text format which is easily pasteable in spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel or Libre Office Calc.

speedtest-cli --csv

Other Speedtest-cli Features

In this tutorial, we go over many different useful features that you can use with speedtest-cli. Though, there are many other useful features that we haven’t covered.

To access the other Speedtest command-line features, run the following command in a terminal window.

speedtest-cli --help

Alternatively, save the help page to a text file with:

speedtest-cli --help >> ~/Documents/speedtest-cli-commands.txt
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Source: How To Run SpeedTest From The Linux Terminal

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Japanese temples aim to attract younger visitors with disco balls and planetarium shows

Buddhist temples in western Japan are becoming unlikely sites for entertainment, putting on 1970s and ’80s disco music and planetarium shows to attract young people and regain their status as places for community gatherings.

On a recent weeknight a huge glitter ball spun while emitting a bright white light on the ceiling of Kosenji temple in central Fukuoka.

Together with a pair of glitter balls on the floor flashing red, blue and purple lights, a discolike atmosphere was created inside the otherwise solemn main hall. It was an innovative effort by chief priest Koji Jo, 55, to get people in his community thinking of temples as part of secular life.

“Things have changed from the days when people would attend temple schools to learn writing. People don’t come to temples unless there is a funeral or other memorial service,” Jo said.

Source: As fewer people visit, Japanese temples aim to attract younger visitors with disco balls and planetarium shows | The Japan Times

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The military’s obsession with energy drinks is contributing to PTSD, study finds

Getting adequate sleep is increasingly rare among the active duty military population, as frequent deviations from the body’s natural circadian rhythms due to a demanding operational tempo pit personnel in an ongoing struggle against the ever-persistent sandman.

To combat the sleep deprivation unique to this demographic, service members often turn to energy drinks, a prominent component of combat deployments that has become as paramount to mission success as any piece of protective gear or weaponry.

The prevalence of energy drink use in these settings is extraordinary. The life blood is virtually everywhere — and tends to cost nothing — resulting in an environment in which nearly half of deployed troops down at least one readily available crack can per day.

But while consuming these drinks may not hurt service members in their wallets, excessive use may very well be contributing to long-term mental and physical ailments, a recent study in the Military Medicine journal observed.

The authors of the study surveyed over 600 male infantry soldiers during a post-deployment period after the brigade combat team returned from a 12-month combat deployment to Afghanistan. Questions were designed to examine the association of energy drink use with sleep deprivation or insomnia, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, aggressive behaviors and fatigue.

Source: The military’s obsession with energy drinks is contributing to PTSD, study finds

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Cow Cuddling Is The New Wellness Trend Now And It Costs $300 For A 90-Minute Session

Ever thought of snuggling up with a 1,000 lb farm animal to help with your mental health? No? Neither have I. But, if the sound of that intrigues you, you’re in luck. Because as it turns out, ‘cow cuddling’ might be the hottest new wellness trend. It’ll set you back a few bills, but could it be worth it?

Photo: Buure TV screengrab

According to PubMed, there is proof that humans can decrease their stress levels by interacting with animals. How one may choose to go about that is their own preference. While this concept, in particular, might sound a little strange, the new therapy trend falls in line with other programs we’ve seen in the past. Remember goat yoga? Or cat yoga? What about bunny yoga? While yoga with a cow might be a little tricky, cuddling with them might be the next best thing.

Mountain Horse Farm in upstate New York has a program offering the ‘Horse & Cow Experience’ where individuals can spend time connecting with the large barnyard animals. You can interact with them however you want to by petting, brushing or playing. If you’re not in the mood to play with the animals, you can simply cuddle with them. “Cows have a body temperature that is slightly higher than humans and their heart rate is lower than ours. Cuddling up with a cow, feeling that lower heart rate and higher body temperature, is very relaxing,” Mountain Horse Farm wrote on their website.

Source: Cow Cuddling Is The New Wellness Trend Now And It Costs $300 For A 90-Minute Session

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Tennessee doctor borrowed $300K from a patient, then diagnosed her with dementia

Dr. Suellen Lee, of Columbia, borrowed money from a longtime patient, then diagnosed that patient with dementia with no testing or second opinion.

A Tennessee doctor has retired her medical license after it was discovered that she borrowed a hefty loan from a longtime patient, then diagnosed the woman with dementia when she asked for her money back, according to state discipline records.

But the doctor now insists she was “set up” by a vindictive patient, and said she only agreed to retire after state attorneys presented her with an unwinnable legal case.

“It was all lies and I was told that if I fought it would be extremely costly to me,” said Dr. Suellen Lee on Tuesday. “And there would still be no benefit. There was no chance of reversal.”

Lee, 79, an internal medicine specialist in Columbia, retired her license last month in a peculiar case before the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, which is responsible for disciplining doctors throughout the state. Government attorneys said Lee borrowed $300,000 from a patient when her medical clinic fell on hard times, and when the patient later requested repayment, Lee diagnosed her with dementia in an apparent effort to escape the debt.

Source: Tennessee doctor borrowed $300K from a patient, then diagnosed her with dementia

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In Groundbreaking Decision, Feds Say Hacking DRM to Fix Your Electronics Is Legal

The new exemptions are a major win for the right to repair movement and give consumers wide latitude to legally repair the devices they own.

The Librarian of Congress and US Copyright Office just proposed new rules that will give consumers and independent repair experts wide latitude to legally hack embedded software on their devices in order to repair or maintain them. This exemption to copyright law will apply to smartphones, tractors, cars, smart home appliances, and many other devices.

The move is a landmark win for the “right to repair” movement; essentially, the federal government has ruled that consumers and repair professionals have the right to legally hack the firmware of “lawfully acquired” devices for the “maintenance” and “repair” of that device. Previously, it was legal to hack tractor firmware for the purposes of repair; it is now legal to hack many consumer electronics.

Specifically, it allows breaking digital rights management (DRM) and embedded software locks for “the maintenance of a device or system … in order to make it work in accordance with its original specifications” or for “the repair of a device or system … to a state of working in accordance with its original specifications.”

continue: In Groundbreaking Decision, Feds Say Hacking DRM to Fix Your Electronics Is Legal

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I Bought Used Voting Machines on eBay for $100 Apiece. What I Found Was Alarming

Opinion: The fact that voter information is left on devices, unencrypted, that are then sold on the open market is malpractice.

IN 2016, I bought two voting machines online for less than $100 apiece. I didn’t even have to search the dark web. I found them on eBay.

Surely, I thought, these machines would have strict guidelines for lifecycle control like other sensitive equipment, like medical devices. I was wrong. I was able to purchase a pair of direct-recording electronic voting machines and have them delivered to my home in just a few days. I did this again just a few months ago. Alarmingly, they are still available to buy online.

If getting voting machines delivered to my door was shockingly easy, getting inside them proved to be simpler still. The tamper-proof screws didn’t work, all the computing equipment was still intact, and the hard drives had not been wiped. The information I found on the drives, including candidates, precincts, and the number of votes cast on the machine, were not encrypted. Worse, the “Property Of” government labels were still attached, meaning someone had sold government property filled with voter information and location data online, at a low cost, with no consequences. It would be the equivalent of buying a surplus police car with the logos still on it.

continue: I Bought Used Voting Machines on eBay for $100 Apiece. What I Found Was Alarming

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An anonymous 4chan post could help solve a 25-year-old math mystery

An anime math problem

A 4chan poster may have solved part of a very tricky math problem that mathematicians have been working on for at least 25 years. The user was just trying to figure out the most efficient way to watch episodes of a nonlinear anime series, but the result has generated considerable interest from mathematicians around the world who have no way to identify the anonymous user.

Yesterday, Robin Houston, a computer scientist and mathematician tweeted about the bizarre intersection of 4chan and mathematics, inadvertently setting off a wave of public interest in the story. Within hours of his tweet, his phone was vibrating constantly. “It started to go mad,” he says. “My phone started going crazy.”

The 4chan part of this saga began on September 17th, 2011, when a poster posed a question: if you wanted to watch 14 episodes of the anime The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya in every possible order, what’s the shortest string of episodes you’d need to watch?

There are 14 episodes in the first season of Haruhi, a 2006 anime based on a series of Japanese light novels. The episodes, which feature time travel and are otherwise chronologically challenging for the viewer, originally aired in a nonlinear order. When the series went to DVD, the episodes were rearranged, and it’s become something of an obsession for fans to rewatch the series over and over again, going through as many chronologies as possible.

An anonymous poster figured out one possible way to solve to the 4chan problem, satisfying the more mathematically inclined Haruhi fans. But in the process, they also helped puzzle out an issue that mathematicians have been working on since 1993. The anonymously authored proof (which was recently reposted on a Fandom wiki) is currently the most elegant solution to part of a mathematical problem involving something called superpermutations. It’s an enigma that goes well beyond anime.

In mathematics, a permutation is the order of a set of numbers. In anime terms, one permutation of Haruhi would be watching all 14 episodes in the order that they aired. But what if you’re a Haruhi superfan and watching the season once isn’t enough for you? In that case, you might be interested in a superpermutation, or all of the possible permutations of a set strung together. Think of it as the ultimate Haruhi marathon.

The branch of math that deals with permutations and superpermutations is called combinatorics. It doesn’t require years of study to be good at it, either. “It’s more accessible to amateur and casual mathematicians,” Houston says.

The poster’s anonymity doesn’t invalidate the solution for the mathematicians. “What’s beautiful about mathematics is that it’s a proof that starts with your hypothesis and leads to your conclusion,” Jay Pantone, a mathematician at Marquette University says. “You have to convince a skeptical reader that you’re correct. That doesn’t rely on your identity being known.”

continue: An anonymous 4chan post could help solve a 25-year-old math mystery

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Five Eyes Want to ‘Name and Shame’ by Exercising Absolute Power Over the Internet

It’s becoming all too clear where the global censorship effort is headed. With tech giants now a willing dongle to government, the infrastructure is in place to decide what is ‘foreign interference’ and who will be taken down next. Now, a legal framework to scale it out to the masses is being planned.

As seen earlier today in The Sydney Morning HeraldAustralia, Canada, New Zealand, Britain and the United States, also known as the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence partners, want more access and authority to target Internet users that “sow discord, manipulate public discourse, bias the development of policy, or disrupt markets.” The article continues:

“Foreign interference threatens a nation’s sovereignty, values and national interests — it can limit or shape the polity’s ability to make independent judgements, erode public confidence in our political and government institutions, and interfere with private-sector decision making,” a joint communiqué read.

“While senior digital industry representatives did not accept our invitation to participate in discussions on pressing issues regarding the illicit use of online spaces, we reiterated the need for digital industry to take more responsibility for content promulgated and communicated through their platforms and applications.”

Source: Five Eyes Want to ‘Name and Shame’ by Exercising Absolute Power Over the Internet

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You should not drink human blood. It will not keep you young.

A recent study inspired headlines and tweets the likes of “drinking young people’s blood could help you live longer and prevent age-related diseases.” We at Popular Science would rather you not do that. Here are several arguments against drinking human blood.

Drinking human blood can make you very sick

For starters, a lot of blood you’ll encounter on the street carries some kind of pathogen. Drinking infected blood is a great way to get your very own infection. And unlike animals who’ve evolved to live on blood, humans can actually wind up with iron overdoses if they overindulge.

There are people feel compelled to drink the blood of others, and even follow rules to make sure they’re doing it safely and consensually. Some of the people who do this feel they have a genuine medical condition that is improved through the drinking of blood, but it’s important that you discuss these symptoms and feelings with your physician. And you definitely shouldn’t just take a shot of the first blood you’re offered.

Source: You should not drink human blood. It will not keep you young.

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Hacking Police Body Cameras

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What Is “Five Eyes” Surveillance? VPN Users, Beware!

If you’ve ever used a VPN, or are concerned about online privacy, you’ve probably stumbled across references to “Five Eyes,” “Nine Eyes,” and “14 Eyes.”

But what exactly do these surveillance alliances do? And can they affect the security of your VPN service?

What Is Five Eyes?

Five Eyes is a nickname for the United Kingdom–United States of America Agreement(UKUSA).

Despite the official name, UKUSA agreement consists of five countries. They are the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The deal has its origins in a World War II intelligence-sharing agreement between Britain and America.

Five Eyes has given birth to many of the most notable privacy scandals in recent years, including PRISM, XKeyscore, and Tempora.

Today, its powers are scarily wide-ranging. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the five governments can force any “communications service provider” (including ISPs, social media platforms, email providers, cell phone networks, and more) to:

  • Insert malware on its users’ devices.
  • Ignore existing laws in pursuit of Five Eyes directives.
  • Interfere with people’s user experience.
  • Provide governments with new product designs in advance.
  • Provide user information as requested in secret warrants.

What Is Nine Eyes?

Nine Eyes is another intelligence sharing agreement. It’s grown out of the original Five Eyes alliance. It includes all the Five Eyes members, plus Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Norway.

Its powers and dedication to information sharing is broadly the same as the Five Eyes agreement.

What Is 14 Eyes?

The 14 Eyes agreement adds a further five countries to the list: Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Sweden.

Interestingly, both France and Germany have been close to becoming full Five Eyes members in 2009 and 2013 respectively. The two agreements both fell through for various reasons.

Lastly, it’s important to mention Israel and Singapore. Israel reportedly enjoys observer status with the main Five Eyes group, while Singapore has partnered with the group but is not an official member.

What Does This Mean for VPNs?

Given the sweeping powers granted by the three agreements, what impact does it have on your VPN service?

It’s all a question of jurisdiction. When talking about a VPN provider’s jurisdiction, there are three things to consider:

  • Local laws: Some countries outright ban VPN usage.
  • Company location: The state in which the VPN provider is registered and has its physical offices.
  • Server location: VPN providers typically offer servers in many different countries.

From a surveillance perspective, the two things you need to worry about are the company location and the company servers.

A VPN provider with either a physical address, or servers in the countries listed, could be compelled to hand over any information it has, including connection logs and browser traffic. The country might even monitor a VPN server’s inbound and outbound traffic. Worse still, the governments can forbid the provider from even notifying the affected customers; you lose the chance to respond to the invasion of privacy.

And, of course, due to the very nature of the agreements, once your information has been acquired by one country, it’s in the system. Ultimately, it could be shared with the other countries if they request it.

If security is your main priority, you shouldn’t use a VPN that’s domiciled in one of the Five, Nine, or 14 Eyes countries. Nor should you connect to servers in one of those countries using a VPN provider from a non-14 Eyes member.

If you really need to use a VPN provider from one of the Five, Nine, or 14 Eyes member countries (for example, due to a unique feature), make sure you select one that explicitly does not keep logs. However, not even that can adequately protect you.

For example, you don’t need to look any further than the once-popular US-based email provider, Lavabit.

When the FBI found out Edward Snowden had used the service, it requested the company’s logs. The company did not keep logs, so the FBI instead issued a subpoena for the SSL keys. The keys would have given the FBI access to metadata and unencrypted content for all Lavabit users.

To its credit, rather than hand over the information, Lavabit opted to shut down. You cannot be so confident that your VPN provider would be equally willing to fall on its sword.

Source: What Is “Five Eyes” Surveillance? VPN Users, Beware!

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LibreOffice Getting Started Guide Available to Download

 

Want to learn to use free office software LibreOffice? A new downloadable guide is on hand to help. The LibreOffice documentation team has announced a new

Source: LibreOffice Getting Started Guide Available to Download – OMG! Ubuntu!

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