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16 Jan 08:03

A critical flaw (possibly a deliberate backdoor) allows for decryption of Whatsapp messages -- UPDATED

by Cory Doctorow

"That means that a government could order Facebook to stealthily decrypt Whatsapp traffic, despite the company's claims that it can't do this under any circumstances." enough said, hm?

Update: Be sure to read the followup discussion, which explains Facebook's point of view, that this is a deliberate compromise, and not a defect, that makes the app more usable for a wide variety of users, while putting them to little additional risk (namely, that Facebook might change its mind; or be forced to spy on its users; or suffer a security breach or internal rogue employee).

When Facebook implemented Open Whisper Systems' end-to-end encrypted messaging protocol for Whatsapp, they introduced a critical flaw that exposes more than a billion users to stealthy decryption of their private messages: in Facebook's implementation, the company can force Whatsapp installations to silently generate new cryptographic keys (without any way for the user to know about this unless a deep settings checkbox had been ticked), which gives the company the ability to decrypt user messages, including messages that have already been sent in the past.. (more…)

19 Dec 06:37

A decaying relic of a time long ago

by Patrick

That is beautiful :)

One of the scenes I found most interesting in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the sight of an Imperial star destroyer rusting into oblivion on Jakku. I imagined other relics of the fallen Empire scattered and forgotten on planets throughout the galaxy. Austrian builder sanellukovic does a fantastic job expanding this element of the story with his depiction of a derelict Imperial shuttle.

...after the empire...

The builder has taken the UCS Imperial Shuttle design and turned it into an ugly, rusting pile of junk – and I mean that in high admiration. A lot of builders (including myself) would have felt just fine breaking the shuttle apart, scattering it across a landscape scene and calling it good. This builder, however, went so much further, creating a scene so full of character I wish it had been in the movie. Note the busted windshield, rust patterns and jungle overgrowth. The ship’s layout is spot-on, particularly the crumpled wings and the way the dorsal stabilizer leans forward as if it was just barely holding together.

Detail Picture

The jungle looks wonderful too and adds a nice sense of mystery and abandonment to the creation. How exciting it would be to stumble upon this during a trek through the woods!

07 Dec 09:29



That sounds annoyingly true right now...

Of course, "Number of times I've gotten to make a decision twice to know for sure how it would have turned out" is still at 0.
05 Dec 08:12

This strain wave gearing makes a spectacularly cool Great Ball Contraption [Video]

by Nick

I could stare at that for hours :P

Japanese builder akiyuki applies the concept of strain wave gearing to Great Ball Contraptions, a popular LEGO fan convention theme in which hundreds of balls are passed through complex machinery. From both an engineering and a visual standpoint, the module is mesmerizing to watch. See the module in action in the following 2 minute video.

A fascinating read detailing the design process and engineering challenges faced by the builder can be found on akiyuki’s blog.

19 Oct 10:23

Airportraits: composite photos of all the daily takeoffs from the world's airports

by Cory Doctorow

Cool :o


Artist Mike Kelley creates "Airportraits" of the world's airports by photographing all the planes that take off on a given day, then compositing them together into a kind of time-lapse of a day's worth of flights, which presents an instantly comprehensible way of comparing the different services; they're available as stunning prints. (via Kottke) (more…)

19 Oct 08:39

A first look at Star Control: Origins gameplay—prequel due for release in 2H17 [Updated]

by Lee Hutchinson

A new Star Control. Why didn't I know of this before?

Enlarge / A system view, with navigation between planets, and a fleet status? This is looking very Star Control to me! (credit: Stardock)

All right, *campers*, there’s some new news lurking on the horizon for Star Control fans eager to find a new *happy town*. This morning, Stardock founder Brad Wardell announced the official name of the company’s upcoming Star Control prequel: Star Control: Origins. Wardell has also offered up the first public gameplay video:

(video link)

Today’s announcement also gives us a tentative release date and an early price: the game will be coming to Windows and consoles, and the PC release will be in the second half of 2017. For $35 (£30), players can join the studio’s “Founder’s Program” and get access to the closed beta and some additional developer goodies.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

13 Oct 15:59

"Russia's Trump" says America must elect Donald Trump or prepare for nuclear war

by Xeni Jardin

Does somebody actually still pay attention to what Vladimir Zhirinovski says? :D

Vladimir Zhirinovsky Oct. 11, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

An ultra-right Russian politician aligned with Vladimir Putin says American voters should elect Donald Trump for president, or prepare for nuclear war. Vladimir Zhirinovsky likes to compare himself to Trump, and is a similarly unrestrained blowhard.

"Americans voting for a president on Nov. 8 must realize that they are voting for peace on Planet Earth if they vote for Trump,” he said. “But if they vote for Hillary it's war. It will be a short movie. There will be Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere."


11 Oct 06:33

Windows patches start getting cumulative for 7, 8, 2008, and 2012

by Peter Bright

Aaaand that sounds like my WUpdate is going to be turned off. Ain't that safe?

In August, Microsoft announced that it was going to change the patching model used by Windows 7 and 8.1—as well as Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2—to something close to that of Windows 10.

In a break from Microsoft's older operating systems, Windows 10's monthly updates incorporate both security and non-security fixes into a single monolithic update. These updates combine not only each month's new fixes, but also the fixes from previous months. A similar system is being offered to those older operating systems. The patch on October 11 is the first time this new system is being used.

The patch system for the legacy operating systems has complexities that Windows 10's patching lacks. There will be three series of updates in total. Two of these updates will be a monthly roll-up that combines security and non-security fixes, as well as a monthly security update that contains only that month's security fixes without any previous ones. They will be released on the second Tuesday of each month, known as "Patch Tuesday." The third update will be a preview of the next month—which combines the current month's cumulative update with the next month's non-security fixes—and will be published on the third Tuesday of each month. This will give users the ability to test the non-security portion of each month's patch before it's rolled out.

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29 Sep 07:31

Musk’s Mars moment: Audacity, madness, brilliance—or maybe all three

by Eric Berger

Enlarge / What the view of Mars might look like from inside the Interplanetary Transport System. (credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk finally did it. Fourteen years after founding SpaceX, and nine months after promising to reveal details about his plans to colonize Mars, the tech mogul made good on that promise Tuesday afternoon in Guadalajara, Mexico. Over the course of a 90-minute speech Musk, always a dreamer, shared his biggest and most ambitious dream with the world—how to colonize Mars and make humanity a multiplanetary species.

And what mighty ambitions they are. The Interplanetary Transport System he unveiled could carry 100 people at a time to Mars. Contrast that to the Apollo program, which carried just two astronauts at a time to the surface of the nearby Moon, and only for brief sojourns. Moreover, Musk’s rocket that would lift all of those people and propellant into orbit would be nearly four times as powerful as the mighty Saturn V booster. Musk envisions a self-sustaining Mars colony with at least a million residents by the end of the century.

Beyond this, what really stood out about Musk’s speech on Tuesday was the naked baring of his soul. Considering his mannerisms, passion, and the utter seriousness of his convictions, it felt at times like the man's entire life had led him to that particular stage. It took courage to make the speech, to propose the greatest space adventure of all time. His ideas, his architecture for getting it done—they’re all out there now for anyone to criticize, second guess, and doubt.

Read 36 remaining paragraphs | Comments

16 Sep 05:25

Facebook login adds real-name policy, auto-updated friends list to Oculus

by Sam Machkovech

I personally lost all interest in Oculus Rift the moment fecesbook bought the company. Sounds like I chose wisely.

This week saw the latest Oculus Rift software runtime begin to roll out to PC users, and the 1.8 version includes one new feature in particular: official Facebook integration. The software update is rolling out in waves, so Oculus owners may not yet have this live on their PCs, but once it rolls out, users are told that "Oculus is better with Facebook friends" and are given the option of logging in to a Facebook account.

To confirm, this is wholly optional, and the service will still operate normally should users not opt in. And in some ways, this change brings Facebook up to speed with other major online gaming platforms such as Steam, Xbox Live, and PlayStation Network, which all support Facebook-specific features like searching for friends and posting updates.

However, Oculus' tie-in to Facebook is different from the others in more aggressively tying FB to a gaming service, according to the Facebook-in-Oculus terms posted to the headset's official Reddit forum. For starters, should you log in to Facebook via the Oculus Rift's PC app, your username will change to your real name. If for any reason you'd rather your Oculus username continue to be your favorite gaming handle, whether for privacy's sake or just because you like the sound of it, you'll have to avoid the login.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

02 Sep 05:16


by Joey deVilla

most used language in programming

01 Sep 05:19

Turns out the signal astronomers saw was “strong” because it came from Earth

by Eric Berger

Surprised? Hopefully not.. :p

Ars was among the first news outlets to report on discussions among astronomers about observations of an intriguing "signal" that may have originated from a distant, Sun-like star. We cautioned readers that, because the signal was measured at 11Ghz, there was a "significant chance" it was of terrestrial origin, likely due to some military activity.

Well, it apparently was. First, astronomers with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence downplayed the possibility of an alien civilization. "There are many other plausible explanations for this claimed transmission, including terrestrial interference," Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer with SETI, wrote.

Now the Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences has concurred, releasing a statement on the detection of a radio signal at the RATAN-600 radio astronomy observatory in southern Russia. "Subsequent processing and analysis of the signal revealed its most probable terrestrial origin," the Russian scientists said. (Maybe it was really Steve Martin and his hair dryer?)

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

29 Aug 04:35

Bone is possibly one of the best fantasy series ever told

by Wink

Bone is awesome - even when translated into Finnish


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Bone: Coda (25th Anniversary Special)
by Jeff Smith
Cartoon Books
2016, 136 pages, 6.4 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches (softcover)
$13 Buy a copy on Amazon

If you haven’t read Jeff Smith’s Bone series, just stop. Stop reading right now, mid sentence, and go pick up his masterpiece. It’s wonderful. Quite possibly one of the greatest fantasy stories ever told. Once you’ve read that and fallen in love with Smith’s humor and characters, then you can appreciate this follow-up that gives you a reason to revisit the Bone Brothers.

If you aren’t familiar with the Bone series, this coda won’t interest you. It’s a companion piece that includes interviews of Smith, an oral history by comic historian Stephen Weiner, and early illustrations of the Bone characters. I found it compelling to hear that Bone was a story that almost wasn’t. But through determination, some luck, and careful maneuvering, Smith was able to get the comic off the ground. It’s great inspiration for any independent artist out there.

But the best part about this book is that there’s a new Bone story to be had! The brothers and Bartleby are still in route back to Boneville, when in true Bone fashion things go awry. It’s not a long story, or a deep one, but it’s a reminder about everything that was so great about this series. It’s a little heartbreaking that Smith makes a point to define coda as “the concluding passage of a piece or movement, typically forming an addition to the base structure.” Hopefully we’ll see more from this world, but for now this is a pretty good sendoff. If you’re a completest, you’re going to need to pick this up. – JP LeRoux

August 26, 2016

18 Aug 06:08

UC Davis Chancellor spent $400K+ to scrub her online reputation after pepper-spray incident

by Cory Doctorow


Back in April, we learned that UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi had hired a sleazy "reputation-management" company to scrub her reputation and that of the university after the 2011 incident in which university police lieutenant John Pike hosed down peaceful protesters with pepper spray, jetting chemical irritant directly into their open mouths and eyes. (more…)

18 Aug 06:04

The surprising spryness of fighters in 15th C armor

by Cory Doctorow

Neat :o

animation (1)

Paris's Musée national du Moyen Âge teamed up with The University of Geneva to make this video demonstrating the fighting techniques available to people in 15th century armor, which are much more fluid and athletic that I had presumed -- turns out you can really move in those tin cans. (via We Make Money Not Art)

16 Aug 06:20

Windows 7, 8.1 moving to Windows 10’s cumulative update model

by Peter Bright

So it's another way of pushing that cursed telemetry crap, CEIP and whatnot so one can't opt out?

(credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is switching Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to a cumulative update model similar to the one used by Windows 10. The company is moving away from the individual hotfix approach it has used thus far for those operating systems.

One of the major differences between Windows 7 and 8.1 on the one hand and Windows 10 on the other is what happens when you run Windows Update. Microsoft's two older operating systems usually need to fetch a handful of individual patches each month. If a system hasn't been patched for a few months, this can require dozens of individual fixes to be retrieved. In the case of a clean installation, that number can reach the hundreds.

Windows 10, on the other hand, has perhaps one or two updates released each month. A single cumulative update incorporates not just all of the newest security and reliability fixes, but all the older fixes from previous months, too. If a system isn't updated for a few months or has had its operating system freshly reinstalled, the scenario of having hundreds of individual fixes never occurs. Windows 10 just grabs the latest cumulative update and, with that one package, is more or less up-to-date.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

11 Aug 05:09

Aviation's war on moisture turns ten today

by Cory Doctorow


Ten years ago, British domestic security claimed to have caught a terrorist cell that had planned to blow up airplanes with a gel they'd carry on in a Gatorade bottle and detonate with an Ipod. (more…)

09 Aug 05:47

Making a real Star Wars Speeder Bike

by David Pescovitz

Neat! :D


Vintage Works built this fantastic motorcycle that is exactly like a Star Wars Speeder Bike. Only it doesn't fly. Sadly.






01 Aug 07:12

It’s now or never: Free Windows 10 upgrade ends in just a few hours

by Peter Bright

My main question is: have they finally stopped pushing 3035583 now that the free downgrade period is over?

It's better, we promise.

If you use Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and want to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, there are just a few more hours left to grab your copy. The offer expires today, July 29. At the time of writing, less than 19 hours still remain.

If you're eligible, you should upgrade. In almost every regard, Windows 10 is a better operating system than Windows 7 or 8.1 (unless you use Media Center, in which case you're trapped on old operating systems forever). If you want to get the free upgrade but can't upgrade right now because of timing or compatibility concerns, your best option is to install Windows 10 onto an empty hard drive using your existing Windows 7 or 8.1 key. Activate that installation and magic will occur: your key will become Windows 10 "enabled," and you should be able to use it to perform the upgrade at a later date. Similar results can likely be achieved by installing into a virtual machine rather than an empty hard disk.

The cut-off doesn't apply to those who use assistive technology such as screen-readers; those Windows users will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 whenever they feel like it, though Microsoft apparently has yet to fully explain how this will work.

Read on Ars Technica | Comments

29 Jul 03:55

RIP, MAD Magazines's Jack Davis

by Cory Doctorow

He was one of my favourite artists in MAD


Davis had been with MAD since its first run in 1952, and his illustrations helped define the look of satirical art for generations. (more…)

09 Jun 04:11

A scene of Hotline Miami, recreated in LEGO

by Clinton

Hotline Miami was awesome

Hotline Miami LEGO are two things which shouldn’t mix. One is an ultra-violent top down murder fest of a game, and the other is a made-for-kids interlocking bricks system. Luckily, Nannan Zhang does both properties justice with this little scene from the games.

Hotline Miami

Aside from the great colours used to imitate the game and the textured brick pieces being used as carpet details, what I really love is the fact that (as far as I can tell) only LEGO pieces were used. The Chima headpiece acting as a Tony Mask works particularly well. It all comes together so well and makes me want to play the games again.

27 May 07:01

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Kill All Humans? A Flowchart


Makes sense

Hovertext: Once you realize there is no hope, you can relax and just enjoy the progress in machine learning.

New comic!
Today's News:
19 May 06:28

Windows 7 now has a Service Pack 2 (but don’t call it that)

by Peter Bright

This also includes the GWX-adware and CEIP packets, I would assume. I'll take the tedious route instead, if I ever need to do a fresh W7 install.

This should become a thing of the past. (credit: Microsoft)

Anyone who's installed Windows 7 any time in the last, oh, five years or so probably didn't enjoy the experience very much. Service Pack 1 for the operating system was released in 2011, meaning that a fresh install has five years of individual patches to download and install. Typically, this means multiple trips to Windows Update and multiple reboots in order to get the system fully up-to-date, and it is a process that is at best tedious, typically leading one to wonder why, at the very least, it cannot pull down all the updates at once and apply them with just a single reboot.

The answer to that particular question will, unfortunately, remain a mystery, but Microsoft did today announce a change that will greatly reduce the pain of this process. The company has published a "convenience rollup" for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (and Windows Server 2008 R2), which in a single package contains all the updates, both security and non-security, released since the Service Pack, up through April 2016. Installing the rollup will perform five years of patching in one shot.

In other words, it performs a very similar role to what Windows 7 Service Pack 2 would have done, if only Windows 7 Service Pack 2 were to exist. It's not quite the same as a Service Pack—it still requires Service Pack 1 to be installed, and the system will still report that it is running Service Pack 1—but for most intents and purposes, that won't matter. Microsoft will also support injecting this rollup into Windows 7 Service Pack 1 system images and install media.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

18 May 08:02

Comic for 2016.05.18

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
02 May 07:27

When you notice a tiny bug

by CommitStrip

A "Casey and Andy" reference, perhaps? :p It should be!


18 Apr 05:20

Stunning LEGO Nebulon-B Medical Frigate

by Rod

The Nebulon-B Frigates are for some weird reason one of my favourite capital ships.

Morten_Svendsen has built a massive and highly-detailed model of the famous Nebulon-B Medical Frigate, first seen in The Empire Strikes Back. Morten’s dedication to getting the angles, details, and textures just right in comparison with the model used for shooting the movies is frankly astonishing…
 Nebulon_2_full_front perspective
The overall shaping and coloring are simply spot-on, but the little touches are what sets this creation apart. Check out the medical bay window featuring the famous scene of Luke, Leia, and the droids watching the Falcon depart to begin the search for Han Solo…

 photo Nebulon_window_zpsc7vqh9dh.jpg

As you might expect from a builder displaying such attention to detail, this isn’t a model that can only be viewed from one angle. Morten has focused an equal amount of love on the engines at the ship’s rear…
And he’s made sure there’s an accurate scale representation of the Millenium Falcon docked in the right place…
According to Morten’s post on Eurobricks detailing his construction process, the model is built from thousands of bricks taken from a selection of over 500 different types! Brilliant stuff — a new benchmark for Star Wars LEGO scale modelling.

18 Apr 05:15

Slay demons with a 20 pound LEGO Doom BFG 9000

by Nick

Lego BFG 9000? Wonderful :D

Doom returns to popularity in gaming with a new installment to the series next month. What better time than now for YouTube LEGO builder ZaziNombies to build one of gaming’s most infamous weapons, the BFG 9000 (“Big F***ing Gun”) from Doom (1993), in 1:1 scale. Weighing over 20 pounds and built from over 5000 LEGO pieces, ZaziNombies’s detailed replica of the BFG more than lives up to the name. See it hauled around, discussed, and shown from the first person perspective in this three minute video.

15 Apr 06:47

Worshipping the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not a real religion, court rules

by David Kravets

I personally don't see the difference between one the level of trueness between one religion and another...

(credit: aaditya sood)

Inmate Stephen Cavanaugh

A Nebraska inmate who has professed his allegiance to the divine Flying Spaghetti Monster lost his bid demanding that prison officials accommodate his Pastafarianism faith.

A federal judge dismissed the suit (PDF) Tuesday brought by Stephen Cavanaugh, who is serving a 4- to 8-year term on assault and weapons charges at the Nebraska State Penitentiary. US District Judge John Gerrard ruled that "FSMism" isn't a religion like the ones protected under the Constitution.

"The Court finds that FSMism is not a 'religion' within the meaning of the relevant federal statutes and constitutional jurisprudence. It is, rather, a parody, intended to advance an argument about science, the evolution of life, and the place of religion in public education. Those are important issues, and FSMism contains a serious argument—but that does not mean that the trappings of the satire used to make that argument are entitled to protection as a 'religion,'" the judge ruled. (PDF)

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07 Apr 06:38

First Windows 10 preview with bash support is out now

by Peter Bright

I still don't intend to touch w10, no matter what :|

It's bash, and it's on Windows. (credit: Microsoft)

The first Windows 10 Insider Preview build that includes support for native Linux bash on Windows is now out. This was some of the biggest news to come out of Build last week, as Microsoft works to make Windows even more attractive to developers.

The full install process is described on Microsoft's blog post, but the important part is that in order to use the Windows Subsystem for Linux, the system will have to be put into developer mode through the Settings app (instead of its default sideloading mode). Then the feature will need to be added from Windows Features, and finally the runtime environment will have to be fetched from the store. This process is a little convoluted, but it underscores that Microsoft is positioning the Linux support as a developer feature, not meant for production deployments yet.

The new build looks to be the most significant update since the release of the November Update last year. In addition to the Windows Subsystem for Linux, a bunch of other changes are included. Cortana is smarter, able to sync phone status and notifications between Windows and Android phones and Windows on the PC. She can also help you find your phone by making it ring when you've lost it, and if you look up directions on your PC, she can beam them to your phone for you.

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29 Mar 07:12

The latest innovation from the media

by CommitStrip

Pretty much, yes :p