Japan

JAXA Successfully Tests Its D-SEND Low-Noise Supersonic Aircraft 23 23

AmiMoJo writes: JAXA, the Japanese space agency, has successfully tested its low sonic boom demonstration aircraft D-SEND#2. The unmanned aircraft is floated up to 30,000m by balloon and released, falling back to earth and breaking the sound barrier in the process. The sonic boom created is measured on the ground. The project aims to halve the noise created by sonic booms, paving the way for future supersonic aircraft.
Communications

In Korea, Smartphones Use Multipath TCP To Reach 1 Gbps 32 32

An anonymous reader writes: Korean users are among the most bandwidth-hungry smartphone users. During the MPTCP WG meeting at IETF'93, SungHoon Seo announced that KT had deployed since mid June a commercial service that allows smartphone users to reach 1 Gbps. This is not yet 5G, but the first large scale commercial deployment of Multipath TCP by a mobile operator to combine fast LTE and fast WiFi to reach up to 1 Gbps. This service is offered on the Samsung Galaxy S6 whose Linux kernel includes the open-source Multipath TCP implementation and SOCKSv5 proxies managed by the network operator. Several thousands of users are already actively using this optional service.
Android

GasBuddy Has a New Privacy Policy (Spoiler: Not As Customer Friendly) 82 82

An anonymous reader writes: GasBuddy has been a popular iOS and Android app for the last 5 years used to find the cheapest place to get gas. According to the Google Play store, there are over 10 million installs (in additions to the installs from Apple and Amazon's appstores). Now that they have a large enough number of users, GasBuddy has updated their privacy policy to allow them to collect more information. Some highlights of the privacy policy changes include: only 10 days for new terms to take effect (previously users were given 30 days to review the changes); collection of "signal strength related to Wifi or Bluetooth functionality, temperature, battery level, and similar technical data"; and [a warning that the company] will not honor a web browser's "do not track" setting.
Communications

Questioning the Dispute Over Key Escrow 62 62

Nicola Hahn writes: The topic of key escrow encryption has once again taken center stage as former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff has spoken out against key escrow both at this year's Aspen Security Forum and in an op-ed published recently by the Washington Post. However, the debate over cryptographic back doors has a glaring blind spot. As the trove of leaks from Hacking Team highlights, most back doors are implemented using zero-day exploits. Keep in mind that the Snowden documents reveal cooperation across the tech industry, on behalf of the NSA, to make products that were "exploitable." Hence, there are people who suggest the whole discussion over key escrow includes an element of theater. Is it, among other things, a public relations gambit, in the wake of the PRISM scandal, intended to cast Silicon Valley companies as defenders of privacy?
Privacy

Tor Project Pilots Exit Nodes In Libraries 29 29

An anonymous reader writes: The Tor Project has announced a new initiative to open exit relays in public libraries. "This is an idea whose time has come; libraries are our most democratic public spaces, protecting our intellectual freedom, privacy, and unfettered access to information, and Tor Project creates software that allows all people to have these rights on the internet." They point out that this is both an excellent way to educate people on the value of private internet browsing while also being a practical way to expand the Tor network. A test for this initiative is underway at the Kilton Library in Lebanon, New Hampshire, which already has a computing environment full of GNU/Linux machines.
Networking

Critical BIND Denial-of-Service Flaw Could Take Down DNS Servers 46 46

alphadogg writes: Attackers could exploit a new vulnerability in BIND, the most popular Domain Name System (DNS) server software, to disrupt the Internet for many users. The vulnerability affects all versions of BIND 9, from BIND 9.1.0 to BIND 9.10.2-P2, and can be exploited to crash DNS servers that are powered by the software. The vulnerability announced and patched by the Internet Systems Consortium is critical because it can be used to crash both authoritative and recursive DNS servers with a single packet.
China

China's Island-Building In Pictures 101 101

An anonymous reader writes: The South China Sea is just small enough to have high strategic value for military operations and just large enough to make territorial claims difficult. For over a year now, the world has been aware that China is using its vast resources to try and change that. Instead of fighting for claims on existing islands or arguing about how far their sovereignty should extend, they simply decided to build new islands. "The islands are too small to support large military units but will enable sustained Chinese air and sea patrols of the area. The United States has reported spotting Chinese mobile artillery vehicles in the region, and the islands could allow China to exercise more control over fishing in the region." The NY Times has a fascinating piece showing clear satellite imagery of the new islands, illustrating how a fleet a dredgers have dumped enormous amounts of sand on top of existing reefs. "Several reefs have been destroyed outright to serve as a foundation for new islands, and the process also causes extensive damage to the surrounding marine ecosystem." We can also see clear evidence of airstrips, cement plants, and other structures as the islands become capable of supporting them.
The Almighty Buck

Will Autonomous Cars Be the Insurance Industry's Napster Moment? 194 194

An anonymous reader writes: Most of us are looking forward to the advent of autonomous vehicles. Not only will they free up a lot of time previously spent staring at the bumper of the car in front of you, they'll also presumably make commuting a lot safer. While that's great news for the 30,000+ people who die in traffic accidents every year in the U.S. alone, it may not be great news for insurance companies. Granted, they'll have to pay out a lot less money with the lower number of claims, but premiums will necessarily drop as well and the overall amount of money within the car insurance system will dwindle.

Analysts are warning these companies that their business is going to shrink. It will be interesting to see if they adapt to the change, or cling desperately to an outdated business model like the entertainment industry did. "One opportunity for the industry could be selling more coverage to carmakers and other companies developing the automated features for cars. ... When the technology fails, manufacturers could get stuck with big liabilities that they will want to cover by buying more insurance. There's also a potential for cars to get hacked as they become more networked."
Transportation

Munich Planning Highway System For Cyclists 114 114

An anonymous reader writes: The German city of Munich has been looking for solutions to its traffic problem. Rush hour traffic is a parking lot, and public transit is near capacity. They think their best bet is to encourage (and enable) more people to hop on their bikes. Munich is now planning a Radschnellverbindungen — a highway system just for cyclists. Long bike routes will connect the city with universities, employment centers, and other cities. The paths themselves would be as free from disruption as possible — avoiding intersections and traffic lights are key to a swift commute. They'll doubtless take lessons from Copenhagen's bike skyway: "Cykelslangen (pronounced soo-cool-klag-en) adds just 721 feet of length to the city's 220 miles of bicycle paths, but it relieves congestion by taking riders over instead of through a waterfront shopping area."
Networking

$340 Audiophile Ethernet Cable Tested 308 308

An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica has posted a series of articles attempting to verify whether there's any difference between a $340 "audiophile" Ethernet cable and a $2.50 generic one. In addition to doing a quick teardown, they took the cables to Las Vegas and asked a bunch of test subjects to evaluate the cables in a blind test. Surprise, surprise: the expensive cables weren't any better. The subjects weren't even asked to say which one was better, just whether they could tell there was a difference. But for the sake of completeness, Ars also passed the cables through a battery of electrical tests. The expensive cable met specs — barely, in some cases — while the cheap one didn't. The cheap one passed data, but with a ton of noise. "And listeners still failed to hear any difference."
Cellphones

Samsung Wants To Bring Back the Flip Phone With Bendable Screens 56 56

redletterdave writes: A new patent filed last April but published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this month suggests Samsung might be working on a smartphone that can bend in half like a flip phone. The biggest problem, according to the patent, is all the strain that accumulates by continually folding the display, or keeping the display folded for a long period of time, which can result in deformations and imperfections, Samsung notes. But Samsung's patent also describes how the phone could keep track of how long it's been in the folded and unfolded states, so as to alert the user of any strain that needs to be relieved. This could help extend the lifetime of the phone and its display.
Mozilla

Mozilla CEO: Windows 10 Strips User Choice For Browsers and Other Software 331 331

puddingebola writes: Mozilla CEO Chris Beard has sent an open letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella complaining about the default settings in Windows 10. Users who upgrade to 10 will have their default browser automatically changed to the new Edge browser. Beard said, "We appreciate that it’s still technically possible to preserve people’s previous settings and defaults, but the design of the whole upgrade experience and the default settings APIs have been changed to make this less obvious and more difficult. It now takes more than twice the number of mouse clicks, scrolling through content and some technical sophistication for people to reassert the choices they had previously made in earlier versions of Windows. It’s confusing, hard to navigate and easy to get lost. ... We strongly urge you to reconsider your business tactic here and again respect people’s right to choice and control of their online experience by making it easier, more obvious and intuitive for people to maintain the choices they have already made through the upgrade experience.
Google

Google Rejects French Order For 'Right To Be Forgotten' 287 287

Last month, French data protection agency CNIL ordered Google to comply with the European "right to be forgotten" order by delisting certain search results not just on the European versions of Google's search engine, but on all versions. Google has now publicly rejected that demand. CNIL has promised a response, and it's likely the case will go before local courts. Google says, This is a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web. While the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally. Moreover, there are innumerable examples around the world where content that is declared illegal under the laws of one country, would be deemed legal in others: Thailand criminalizes some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalizes some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be "gay propaganda." If the CNIL's proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world's least free place.
Robotics

A Robot That Can Walk and Jump On Water 36 36

Taco Cowboy writes: Researchers from Seoul University and Harvard have constructed tiny robots that can walk across the surface of standing water, and even jump into the air. The robots were designed to imitate the way pond-skimmer insects take advantage of surface tension to maneuver on top of still bodies of water. After studying the insects, the researchers found their legs started with a small amount of movement before gradually accelerating downward into a jump. The insects also sweep their legs inward during the jump to maximize the amount of time they stay in contact with the surface (abstract). "Using these principles, the researchers developed an ultra light robot made out of nickel titanium with a 2 centimeter long body inspired by origami. Its 5 centimeter long wire legs are curved at the tips like a real water strider's and coated with a material that repels water." Pictures of the robots are available here and here, as well as this animated gif.
Earth

Google Straps Aclima Sensors To Street View Cars To Map Air Pollution 59 59

Eloking writes: Google and a San Francisco-based Aclima have equipped Google's Street View cars with environmental sensors in order to map urban air quality. The project aims to create high resolution maps of air quality across cities by measuring carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, Volatile Organic Compounds, and other pollutants. “We have a profound opportunity to understand how cities live and breathe in an entirely new way by integrating Aclima’s mobile sensing platform with Google Maps and Street View cars,” said Davida Herzl, co-founder and CEO of Aclima. “With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities, environmental health is becoming increasingly important to quality of life. Today we’re announcing the success of our integration test with Google, which lays the foundation for generating high resolution maps of air quality in cities.”
United Kingdom

Cameron Tells Pornography Websites To Block Access By Children Or Face Closure 357 357

An anonymous reader writes: Prime Minister David Cameron says that if online pornographers don't voluntarily install effective age-restricted controls on their websites he'll introduce legislation that will close them down altogether. A recent Childline poll found nearly 10% of 12-13-year-olds were worried they were addicted to pornography and 18% had seen shocking or upsetting images. The minister for internet safety and security, Joanna Shields, said: “As a result of our work with industry, more than 90% of UK consumers are offered the choice to easily configure their internet service through family-friendly filters – something we take great pride in having achieved. It’s a gold standard that surpasses those of other countries. “Whilst great progress has been made, we remain acutely aware of the risks and dangers that young people face online. This is why we are committed to taking action to protect children from harmful content. Companies delivering adult content in the UK must take steps to make sure these sites are behind age verification controls.”
Japan

Japanese Scientists Fire the Most Powerful Laser On the Planet 113 113

Sepa Blackforesta writes: Scientist from University of Osaka claim have fired the world's most powerful laser. The beam was intact for 2-petawatt, pulse lasted just one picosecond. While it produced a huge amount of power, the energy required for the beam itself is equivalent to that needed to power a microwave for two seconds. An associate professor of electrical engineering at Osaka University Junji Kawanaka says “With heated competition in the world to improve the performance of lasers, our goal now is to increase our output to 10 petawatts.”
Robotics

Robots Must Be Designed To Be Compassionate, Says SoftBank CEO 107 107

An anonymous reader writes: At the SoftBank World conference in Tokyo, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has made a case for robots to be developed so as to form empathic and emotional relationships with people. "I'm sure that most people would rather have the warm-hearted person as a friendSomeday robots will be more intelligent than human beings, and [such robots] must also be pure, nice, and compassionate toward people," SoftBank's Aldebaran tech group will make its empathic "Pepper" robot available for companies to rent in Japan from October at a rate of $442 per month.
Television

Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May Making Show For Amazon 198 198

mrspoonsi writes: Amazon has announced that former Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will be reuniting to create “an all-new car show” that will be exclusively on Amazon Prime. The first season will be made available worldwide in 2016 and will be produced executive producer Andy Wilman. The BBC reports: "The move follows their departure from the hit BBC Two show earlier this year. Clarkson's contract was not renewed following an 'unprovoked physical attack' on a Top Gear producer. His co-hosts then followed him in leaving the show. They will now make the unnamed new programme with former Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman, who also quit the BBC following the 'fracas.' In a statement from Amazon, Clarkson said: 'I feel like I've climbed out of a biplane and into a spaceship.'"
Google

Google's Project Loon Balloons May Cover Sri Lanka With Internet Access 34 34

Zothecula writes: Sri Lanka is set to become the first country with universal Internet access after signing a memorandum of understanding with Google to use the company's Project Loon balloons. Officials say there is not a timetable for when the balloons will be covering the 25,000 square mile nation, but this is a crucial first step. The Foreign minister noted that "from this event onwards advertisements or headlines saying “Matara covered” or “Jaffna covered” will become a part of history." And concluded his speech saying that he was "proud to declare that we are at the cusp of a reclaiming our heritage of being connected to each other and connected to the world. In a few months we will truly be able to say: Sri Lanka, Covered."