Month: October 2011

Computer Scientist Cracks Mysterious ‘Copiale Cipher’

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 The manuscript seems straight out of fiction: a strange, handwritten message in abstract symbols and Roman letters meticulously covering 105 yellowing pages hidden in the depths of an academic archive.

Now, more than three centuries after it was devised, the 75,000-character Copiale Cipher finally has been broken.

The mysterious cryptogram, bound in gold and green brocade paper, reveals the rituals and political leanings of an 18th-century secret society in Germany. The rituals detailed in the document indicate the society had a fascination with eye surgery and ophthalmology, though it seems members of the society were not eye doctors.

“This opens up a window for people who study the history of ideas and the history of secret societies,” said computer scientist Kevin Knight of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, part of the international team that finally cracked the cipher. “Historians believe that secret societies have had a role in revolutions, but all that is yet to be worked out, and a big part of the reason is because so many documents are enciphered.”READ MORE

Hacking Beyond Limit-‘China-based servers in Japan cyber attacks’

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TOKYO A virus that infected computers at Japanese overseas diplomatic missions had been designed to send data to servers in China, a report said on Friday.

The virus — Backdoor Agent MOF — has been found to have infected computers at around 10 embassies and consulates, and at least two of the servers designated as the recipients of stolen information were in China, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

The virus is capable of transmitting user IDs and other information to terminals outside and operating software by bypassing authorised users, the daily said.

The domain of the servers was the same as that used for earlier cyber attacks on Google and tens of other companies, the Yomiuri said, quoting unnamed sources.

A “backdoor” virus opens a route into a computer’s system to allow access by a remote hacker, who could use it to steal data.

The Yomiuri earlier this week reported Japan had found viruses in computers at overseas diplomatic missions including those in France, the Netherlands, Myanmar, the US, Canada, China and South Korea. MORE

Can Apple make more stuff in the USA?

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One of the more topical discussions in Steve Jobs’ biography addresses Apple’s tendency to “employ” a disproportionately large number of workers in China. And that strategy has been fodder for debates on national news networks like CNN because of stubbornly high levels of unemployment in the U.S.

Let’s start with some recent statements by luminaries as politically diverse as Jim Hoffa, International Brotherhood of Teamsters President, Donald Trump, and CNN’s Piers Morgan.

Here’s what Hoffa said in a segment entitled “Fixing the Jobs Crisis” with CNN’s Candy Crowley on September 4. “Instead of investing here, everything they (Apple) do is in China…I think the president should challenge the patriotism of these American corporations.”

Piers Morgan made a similar statement this week to Donald Trump, who has been an advocate of making things in the U.S.

“More people were working for Apple in China than in America,” Morgan said when talking about Steve Jobs’ reign at Apple. Trump also had plenty to say about manufacturing things overseas, such as: “You must stop our jobs from leaving this country. We must start manufacturing our goods.”

Could Apple tap more U.S.-based chip manufacturers like this Globalfoundries plant in New York? Could Apple tap more U.S.-based chip manufacturers like this Globalfoundries plant in New York? Read the rest of this entry »

High-tech ‘fertility chip’ measures sperm count, motility

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If you’d like a better understanding of what it takes for sperm to be considered fertile, go grab your measuring spoons and look at the quarter teaspoon. Roughly that amount of ejaculate should boast anywhere between 20 million and 150 million sperm. Anything less than 20 million and fertility just might be an issue.

 

The simple fertility chip includes fluid channels and electrodes.

(Credit: University of Twente)

 

So Loes Segerink, a researcher at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, hasdeveloped a “fertility chip” that can accurately count one’s sperm concentration as well as measure its mobility (when discussing sperm the synonym “motility” is often used). What’s more, the test can be taken at home, with the ejaculate being, ahem,collected in a more private environment.

While simple home tests are already commercially available, the concentration readings are, well, simple, and indicate only whether sperm concentration is above or below that 20 million mark. But one man’s sperm concentration of 19 million is certainly more fertile than another man’s count of 1 million.

Segerink, who will be defending her doctoral dissertation in November, says the sperm flows past a liquid-filled channel on the chip beneath electrode “bridges.” When cells pass beneath these bridges, a brief fluctuation in electrical resistance occurs. By counting these events, the chip is counting sperm.

To test whether her chip was reading any particles at all, not just sperm, Segerink added tiny microspheres of liquid. The system was selective enough to distinguish sperm from these spheres, as well as to distinguish white blood cells from other bodies.

Actual sperm motility is also an important component of fertility. The chip not only counts sperm, but sorts motile sperm from its dormant brethren, and then tallies up the groups. (Segerink did not report on what percentage of sperm must be motile to be considered fertile.)

To develop this chip, Segerink worked with the BIOS Lab-on-a-Chip research group and collaborated with various companies boasting unusual names, including PigGenetics, Lionix, and Blue4Green. She’s now working toward starting a company through which she can continue refining the chip and its read-out device for market use.SRC : Cnet _ Read More

Made in China: Country’s new supercomputer uses homegrown chips

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China is stepping up its semiconductor manufacturing efforts and using domestic chips for its latest supercomputer. It’s going to be interesting to see how fast China can close in on U.S. supercomputer processor makers Intel, AMD, and Nvidia.

The New York Times reported that a supercomputer called Sunway BlueLight MPP, was installed in September at the National Supercomputer Center in Jinan, China. The details emerged at a technical meeting. The real catch is that China used 8,700 ShenWei SW1600 chips.

Those semiconductors are homegrown and indicate that China is aiming to be a major chip player. The New York Times story was mostly sourced to Jack Dongarra, a computer scientist at the University of Tennessee, but Chinese sites reported on the technical meeting. Dongarra helps manage the list of Top 500 supercomputers. China’s previous supercomputers used Intel and Nvidia chips.READ MORE

Steve Jobs Book Quotes: Genius or Insanity?

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Steve Jobs was a man of contradictions. In Steve Jobs, a biography by Walter Isaacson, his groundbreaking ideas and spectacular technological breakthroughs run like a torrent through the book.

But at the same time, on almost every page are examples of his spectacular arrogance, odd habits, belligerent interactions and emotional breakdowns.

After reading the book, we gathered some of the memorable quotes from its author, Steve Jobs and those around him that illustrate his complex personality.

Let’s use these quotes as a jumping-off point to a discussion: What do you think? Was Steve Jobs a genius or was he insane? Or both? Or neither? MORE

New Social Network Combines Twitter, Blogging and Reddit

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What happens if you combine Twitter-like sharing, the depth of blogging and the voting mechanics of Reddit? You might get Chime.in, UberMedia’s take on social networking.

Chime.in, which makes its public debut Tuesday, shares some similarities to Twitter’s interface, but UberMedia CEO Bill Gross argues that his social network tackles completely different problems than Twitter or Facebook. Unlike Twitter, which describes itself as an “information network,” Gross describes Chime.in as an “interest network.”

Like other social networks, Chime.in lets users share content with others. It has a newsfeed, profile pages and a system for following other users. The social network doesn’t have status updates, though. Instead it has “chimes,” which are a cross between a Facebook status update and a blog post.

Users are allowed to write short articles on Chime.in — up to 4,000 characters. A chime displays a headline, the first few sentences of a chime, a piece of multimedia (an image, a video, etc.), a profile picture, interest tags and options for liking, commenting and sharing. Chimes included threaded comments that include a Reddit-style up or downvote system for surfacing the best comments to the top of a chime.MORE

Wireless Insulin Pumps Exposed to Hacker Attacks

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The lack of encryption in insulin pumps can put lives at risk

A famous security researcher proved that the embedded insulin pumps on which many diabetics rely can be accessed remotely and reprogrammed to inject a lethal dose.

According to Threat Post, Barnaby Jack, a security researcher at McAfee, demonstrated the proof of concept at the Hacker Halted conference that recently took place in Miami.
It’s not the first time when someone uncovers the weaknesses that lie in such medical equipment, as not long ago, Jerome Radcliffe made a similar demonstration. At the time, Radcliffe remotely connected to the pump and changed the dosage and all he needed to do that was to possess the unique id of the device.

Barnaby managed to get even past that, proving that with the use of a modified antenna, an attacker can take control of the implantable insulin pump and deliver a fatal blow to its owner. He practically showed that by tuning in to the right frequency, anyone within 300 feet of the apparatus can cause serious damage.more

Hackers Use Social Engineering to Obtain Facebook Security Tokens

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Fake Facebook verification window

The Anti-CSRF tokens generated by Facebook and other websites that want to keep their customers protected are being targeted by cybercriminals who can use them to temporarilytake over an account.

Symantec researchers did a little digging on the matter and found a few cunning plots in which attackers try to dupe users into providing the highly desired codes.

Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) is an attack in which basically the victim’s active session is borrowed by the cyber masterminds to perform illegal operations. Once the security token is obtained, the attacker can do whatever he wants as the website’s server detects him as being legitimate.more

Top IT skills wanted for 2012

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By Toni Bowers

Takeaway: A new Computerworld survey indicates the nine IT skills that will be in demand in 2012.

Nearly 29 percent of the 353 IT executives who were polled in Computerworld’s annual Forecast survey said they plan to increase IT staffing through next summer. (That’s up from 23% in the 2010 survey and 20% in the 2009 survey.)

Here are the skills that the IT executives say they will be hiring for: READ MORE