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Ransomware scum build weapon from JavaScript

Posted on June 20th, 2016 at 10:59 by John Sinteur in category: News


New ransomware written entirely in JavaScript has appeared encrypting users files for a US$250 (£172, A$336) ransom and installing a password-stealing application.

Researchers @jameswt_mht and @benkow_ found the ransomware they dubbed RAA.

Bleeping Computer malware man Lawrence Abrams described the ransomware noting it is shipped as a JS file and uses the CryptoJS library for AES encryption.

“RAA is currently being distributed via emails as attachments that pretend to be doc files and have names like mgJaXnwanxlS_doc_.js,” Abrams says.

“When the JS file is opened it will encrypt the computer and then demand a ransom of about US$250 USD to get the files back.

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  1. It’s much easier now to clone a cheap hard drive or SSD and keep it somewhere safe. It’s not a perfect plan but it works. If you install an SSD, you’ll need to clone the hard drive. Save the hard drive for emergencies.

  2. @Will – that assumes your files are static. For business users, critical changes are being made every minute. True, you will get non changed files, but damage will still be done.

A rare, risky mission is underway to rescue sick scientists from the South Pole

Posted on June 19th, 2016 at 23:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


But evacuation efforts such as this are exceedingly uncommon — only two have been undertaken in the 60 years since the South Pole research station opened. The brutal cold and total darkness that blankets Antarctica during the austral winter make flights in and out of the station all but impossible. In 1999, a doctor who discovered a cancerous lump in her right breast treated herself — even performing her own biopsy and administering her own chemotherapy — for almost six months until the weather thawed enough for a rescue plane to arrive.

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Badge of Dishonor: Top Oakland Police Department Officials Looked Away as East Bay Cops Sexually Exploited and Trafficked a Teenager

Posted on June 19th, 2016 at 23:28 by John Sinteur in category: News


The scandal is unprecedented: According to multiple sources close to the department and the city of Oakland, and documents obtained by the Express, at least fourteen Oakland police officers, three Richmond police, four Alameda County sheriff’s deputies, and a federal officer took advantage of the teenager. (The Express is not publishing her real name because she was a minor when her abuse began.)

Three Oakland police officers committed statutory rape of Guap when she was under-age. By the state’s legal definition, they engaged in human trafficking. The victim says every law-enforcement agent who had sex with her knew she was a sex worker.

Guap, now eighteen years old, said she sometimes slept with cops as a form of protection from arrest or prosecution. Experts in human trafficking told the Express this amounts to coercion.

So what, besides the badges, separates the police from the pimps in Oakland?  Answer: Pimps are black and stimulate the local economy. Police are white and spend their money in Concord.

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Apple takes stance against Trump by withholding financial & tech aid from upcoming GOP convention

Posted on June 19th, 2016 at 13:48 by John Sinteur in category: News


According to a report from Politico, Apple has told Republican leaders that it will not be providing support in any way, including financial, for the party’s upcoming convention. The report says that Apple’s reasoning for this decision is Donald Trump and the comments he has made regarding immigrants, minorities, and women.

Citing two sources “familiar with the iPhone maker’s plans,” Apple will not be donating money or technology to the GOP event like it has done in the past. On the other hand, Microsoft and Google have both said that they will provide technology and/or cash to the GOP convention, which will be held next month in July.

In 2008, Apple provided roughly $140,000 in technology devices to the Democratic and Republican events, while it sat out in 2012 due to the Democrats not accepting corporate donations.

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  1. Thus the headline “stance against trump”. The rest is business as usual…


Posted on June 18th, 2016 at 10:48 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. I bet you there is a city called Belgium in the USA.

A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering: What is Differential Privacy?

Posted on June 17th, 2016 at 17:35 by John Sinteur in category: News


Yesterday at the WWDC keynote, Apple announced a series of new security and privacy features, including one feature that’s drawn a bit of attention — and confusion. Specifically, Apple announced that they will be using a technique called “Differential Privacy” (henceforth: DP) to improve the privacy of their data collection practices.
The reaction to this by most people has been a big “???”, since few people have even heard of Differential Privacy, let alone understand what it means. Unfortunately Apple isn’t known for being terribly open when it comes to sharing the secret sauce that drives their platform, so we’ll just have to hope that at some point they decide to publish more. What we know so far comes from Apple’s iOS 10 Preview guide:

Starting with iOS 10, Apple is using Differential Privacy technology to help discover the usage patterns of a large number of users without compromising individual privacy. To obscure an individual’s identity, Differential Privacy adds mathematical noise to a small sample of the individual’s usage pattern. As more people share the same pattern, general patterns begin to emerge, which can inform and enhance the user experience. In iOS 10, this technology will help improve QuickType and emoji suggestions, Spotlight deep link suggestions and Lookup Hints in Notes.

To make a long story short, it sounds like Apple is going to be collecting a lot more data from your phone. They’re mainly doing this to make their services better, not to collect individual users’ usage habits. To guarantee this, Apple intends to apply sophisticated statistical techniques to ensure that this aggregate data — the statistical functions it computes over all your information — don’t leak your individual contributions. In principle this sounds pretty good. But of course, the devil is always in the details.


Unfortunately these attacks tend to stifle the release of data and information sharing. Differential privacy provides some hope. As we have learned, it is inherently flexible, which means it can easily be adapted to environments with differing privacy requirements. This flexibility does come at a cost: as we have seen, having very tiny privacy budgets (ε) can make some queries all but useless. However, as more people understand the concepts and more products get built on top of this paradigm we expect to see more sharing of data into the public domain without privacy concerns.

The more philosophical question is how private is private enough? Clearly, there is some tunability between how useful a differentially private query is and how ‘private’ it is. The aforementioned tradeoff between utility and privacy is unfortunately ‘left to the reader’. The literature does provide some rules of thumb for setting ε, with suggestions like 0.01, or ln2, etc. – however these have scant theoretical support. Perhaps most importantly, there are few, if any, precedents. At the end of the day it is the data curator’s job (or his lawyer) to decide on ‘private enough’. The lack of a clear framework to relate ε to privacy levels coupled with the difficulty of explaining it to the layperson has meant that differential privacy has largely remained confined to academia. However, as more people learn about it and more tools begin to emerge (PINQ, Airavat) this is starting to change. Clearly in this world of massive data sets and smart data scientists and hackers, data privacy needs to keep pace. We are very hopeful that these techniques are the next step.


An example: suppose that I never use the poop emoji, and never ever type the word “banana” on my iDevice. But suppose also that most other iDevice users simple love the poop emoji and can’t stop talking about bananas. Now, when Apple uses this statistical data to provide *me* with emoji and typing suggestions, because they went out of their way not to know *me*, they’ll suggest I use poop emojis, and wil suggest “banana” when I start to type “ba”.

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March 1992

Posted on June 16th, 2016 at 23:45 by John Sinteur in category: News


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  1. Mykolas on June 17th, 2016 at 16:48:

    ** STOP: 0x00000019


    Dll Base DateStmp – Name

    8010000 2e53f55 – sloppy.exe
    8011000 2e53f55 – programming.exe
    fe11000 2e40535 – now_msspyware.exe

    Restart and set the recovery options to delete windows and install real linux

Take that, FBI: Apple goes all in on encryption

Posted on June 16th, 2016 at 18:26 by John Sinteur in category: News


Many of the features announced at WWDC expand security of user data, something Apple has been keen to promote as “protecting user privacy”. Safeguards include running artificial intelligence on the device itself, rather thanin the cloud, and using a technology called “differential privacy,” which anonymizes data Apple does collect from its customers.

Those features focus on protecting data in transit, yet APFS is more like a bank vault on a device that secures information even if someone gains physical access to their computer, phone, tablet, watch or Apple TV.

Apple declined to comment on the new feature.

ACLU staff technologist Daniel Kahn Gillmor said that the expansion of AFPS is likely to have been prioritised after Apple’s spat with the FBI. “Protecting the privacy of user data is one of the critical tasks of modern computing hardware and software. If Apple didn’t offer powerful encryption features for their filesystems, they’d be remiss.”

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Posted on June 16th, 2016 at 13:18 by John Sinteur in category: News


A bill that sought to punish chronic absenteeism in Colombia’s Congress failed to make it through the first debate because too many lawmakers were absent and the session was canceled.

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Posted on June 16th, 2016 at 0:02 by John Sinteur in category: News

My next car… well, I’ll probably be able to buy one old enough. But the next one after that… I may have to stop driving…







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Choose your country or region – Apple

Posted on June 15th, 2016 at 17:58 by John Sinteur in category: News


(scroll down to Europe)

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Ducks Go Quack

Posted on June 15th, 2016 at 16:45 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Fierce controversy over pastor’s remarks about Orlando attack – CBS News

Posted on June 15th, 2016 at 16:24 by John Sinteur in category: News


A Sacramento Baptist preacher’s sermon praising the attack on an Orlando nightclub that left 50 people dead has the local LGBT community outraged, reports CBS Sacramento.

Recordings of the sermon by Pastor Roger Jimenez surfaced on the Verity Baptist Church’s YouTube account.

“Are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?” he said in the sermon. “Um — no — I think that’s great! I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida is a little safer tonight.”

The remarks were delivered on Sunday morning, hours after the attack.

“We don’t need to do anything to help. As far as I’m concerned, Orlando is a little bit safer tonight,” he said.

Sandrea Nelson, the Pride director of the Davis-Phoenix coalition, was left in shock after hearing Jimenez’s sermon. He says in all his years growing up Baptist and attending church, no pastor ever spoke of inequality.

“He’s not a man of God. He is not a man teaching a true religion,” he said.

Ah, the No True Scotsman Fallacy. I’m sorry Sandrea, but yes he is, and that’s the problem.

Oh, anybody want to bet the Pastor is in the closet?

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  1. I wouldn’t let him buy a gun. He sound’s like an extremist.

The Trembling Giant

Posted on June 15th, 2016 at 10:00 by John Sinteur in category: News


When we do our work poorly, we are replaced with our betters. When we do our work well, the thing we have built grows larger, faster, more powerful, more entrenched, more hungry. Sometimes I lie awake in a cold sweat, unable to decide if we are still building it, or if it has begun using us to build itself

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Again? Again.

Posted on June 14th, 2016 at 17:38 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. I’ve always called Florida <a href="http://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?&id=OIP.M38dd24b44d99bb08c39e00a51e9c3235H0&w=300&h=150&c=0&pid=1.9&rs=0&p=0&r=0&quot; "The Handgun State" – you can put all the oranges on it you like, it’s still lurking there in the background…

  2. @Sue – agree, but it is also the rest of f__ing country and the complacent citizenry that simply will not say enough is enough with the NRA and corrupting influence of its lobbyists (..and all the other f__ing corrupting lobbyists). F_ck, everyone knows where the problems lie, yet nothing gets done in the poisoned polarized environment that is the social fabric of the U.S. today.

India says no to Google Street View, citing security concerns: Digital Photography Review

Posted on June 14th, 2016 at 14:53 by John Sinteur in category: News


Indian officials have told the BBC that the country has rejected Google’s plans to image its towns and cities as part of its expanding Street View service. Citing security concerns around ‘sensitive defense installations,’ officials point out that planning for the 2008 Mumbai attacks was believed to have involved photographic reconnaissance. As such, the country believes, Street View could compromise national security.



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Donald Trump: Americans Who Don’t Report Their Suspicious Neighbors Should Be ‘Brought To Justice’

Posted on June 14th, 2016 at 9:58 by John Sinteur in category: News


Donald Trump on Monday proposed punishing Americans if they don’t turn in their friends and neighbors for behaving suspiciously.

“In San Bernardino, people knew what was going on, they knew exactly, but they used the excuse of racial profiling for not reporting it,” Trump said during a speech in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting.


“We need to make sure every single person involved in this plan, including anyone who knew something, but didn’t tell us, is brought to justice,” Trump said in New Hampshire. “These people need to have consequences, big consequences.”

Informing on neighbors… a hallmark of regimes like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union under Stalin. At some point it’s not something you can dismiss any more by just saying “Godwin’s Law”…

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  1. Yep Donald, you know your history well. Why not just come out and say you will start a People’s Liberation Army (PLA), cause it worked so well in China (…as a repressive tool).

  2. His wife may actually be tried as an accomplice. We would be better off if she had reported him instead of helping him (and wives have reported their husbands before). People even reported suspicious behavior of some of the 9/11 terrorists, but it didn’t do much good.

    I don’t know where we draw the line. The issue gets polarized when Trump says it, but I think the authorities have also asked for reports of suspicious behavior. Does that make them Nazis?

    Obama is the head of the government. He could limit sales of weapons to suspected terrorists with an executive order. I don’t think it would be over-ridden, but it wouldn’t be a campaign issue then.

  3. but it wouldn’t be a campaign issue then.

    HAHAHAHA.. oh wait, you’re serious..

  4. Yeah, ha-ha. You’re right. Hillary doesn’t have any campaign issues, she hasn’t taken a stand on anything yet. The smart strategy is just to attack Trump.

REPORT: Orlando shooter was a regular at the gay nightclub he attacked, used multiple gay dating apps

Posted on June 14th, 2016 at 8:06 by John Sinteur in category: News


A photo of Omar Mateen taken from his MySpace page.

The man police say killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning had visited the club at least a dozen times before carrying out his attack, a witness told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday.

The suspected shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, may have also used several different gay dating apps, according to reports from MSNBC and the Los Angeles Times.

And a former classmate of Mateen’s told The Palm Beach Post he believed Mateen was gay, and that Mateen once asked him out romantically.

Three additional witnesses confirmed that they had seen Mateen at the gay nightclub more than once before.

It’s pretty much a given these day – any time you see somebody religious with a rabid anti-gay thing, it’s just a matter of time before it’s discovered he had wide stance himself.

All this talk about gun laws and jihadi terrorists, it’s not just one thing, and let’s just “religion” to the mix. If you start telling people they’re going to hell just for who they are, don’t be surprised some of them will go insane. Just read about Reaction Formation.

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  1. Maybe I’m slow following the news but I was surprised to see an… NYPD shirt?

  2. A heterosexually-married gay muslim democrat who was also a racist, homophobic, wife-beating, legal gun owning self-proclaimed ISIS member who dreamed of being in the NYPD. You can’t make this up…

  3. @John — you forgot – “and poster boy of the NRA!” Hell, if Omar can get assault weapons, anyone can! But more to the point:

    Mateen demonstrated again just how potent the mix of ISIS and National Rifle Association ideology is. America is the perfect setting for “lone wolf” ISIS followers because they have access to the weapons they need to do their worst. Despite having been investigated twice in recent years by the F.B.I. for possible ties to terrorism, Mateen was able to walk into a Florida gun dealership recently, and acquire a “long gun” and a pistol. This, by any reasonable standard, is madness.

    The AR-15 assault rifle used by Mateen was also the weapon used by the San Bernardino shooters. The former N.R.A. president, David Keene, once described the weapons as the “gun liberals love to hate.” It is in fact the rifle that illustrates why lax American gun laws make American lives cheap. The laws are an aberration.

    President Barack Obama described the shooting as “an act of terror and an act of hate.” He made clear his disapproval of gun laws. He called for solidarity. He said nothing about ISIS, or the way the Islamic State’s hold on territory in Syria and Iraq reinforces the charismatic potency of its ideological appeal, disseminated from that base through the internet.

    He also said this: “To actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

    Yes, to have actively done nothing in Syria over more than five years of war — so allowing part of the country to become an ISIS stronghold, contributing to a massive refugee crisis in Europe, acquiescing to slaughter and displacement on a devastating scale, undermining America’s word in the world, and granting open season for President Vladimir Putin to strut his stuff — amounts to the greatest foreign policy failure of the Obama administration.

    It has made the world far more dangerous. I hope for the best but fear the victory of the politics of anger in America and Europe. Richard Cohen in NYT 13 June 2016

Stanford commencement

Posted on June 13th, 2016 at 23:17 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Not The Onion: Morocco Bans Sharing Newspapers To Protect Publisher Business Models

Posted on June 13th, 2016 at 20:31 by John Sinteur in category: News


It’s no surprise that traditional newspaper publishing is a struggling business. That’s been the case for a long time, leading to a variety of silly proposals to try to prop up their failing businesses. There’s been talk of changing copyright law to ban linking to or paraphrasing newspaper articles online. There’s been a lot of focus on somehow harming search engines, as if they’re the problem that newspapers face. There have been proposals to create a special version of the hot news doctrine to stop search engines from linking to stories. And, of course, over in the EU there’s been a years-long push to “tax” links, which was so broad in Spain that Google News shut down in that country. That law, designed to protect newspapers, actually harmed them.

However, I don’t think any proposal we’ve seen is crazier than what’s happening in Morocco, where apparently newspaper publishers are lashing out at anything they can think to blame in response to decreasing revenue — including people in cafes sharing newspapers with others. And thus, a compliant government has now banned the practice.

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  1. Ah…I guess they can’t make newspapers explode into flames after reading as that would eliminate their future utility as fish wrappings and toilet paper.

We own you

Posted on June 13th, 2016 at 16:44 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Microsoft to buy LinkedIn for $26.2B in cash, makes big move into enterprise social media

Posted on June 13th, 2016 at 15:59 by John Sinteur in category: News


Huge news today in the world of M&A in enterprise and social networking services: Microsoft has announced that it is acquiring LinkedIn, the social network for professionals with some 433 million users, for $26 billion, or $196 per share, in cash. The transaction has already been approved by both boards, but it must still get regulatory and other approvals.

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  1. I hope the happy couple will be blissful in their declining years together.

  2. Note to all: Delete all Linked-In accounts. It is a small step from Windows10 direct hook up to your Linked-In profile. Privacy? Ha ha hah hah hah, you got to be kidding, Privacy? How can MS make money considering privacy. Google can’t, what makes MS any different.

Here Are All The People Applauding The Orlando Gay Club Shooter

Posted on June 13th, 2016 at 15:28 by John Sinteur in category: News


While information is still coming in, political debates about guns, religion, and sexual orientation have already cropped up. The shooter is alleged to be Muslim, and many Trump supporters are using this attack to vindicate their point. Others are trying to argue that the shooter was a Democrat, and saying that liberals are to blame for this. And other still — and most shockingly — are trivializing the attack because of the sexual orientation of the victims:


No, I’m not going to quote any. These people are mentally ill.

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  1. I’m concerned about the continuation of these attitudes though, for whatever stupid reason they give.

    It’s time for all of us to stand in solidarity with the victims of this atrocity.

  2. I am shocked at the intolerance. ….Oh wait, this is the mindset of “I am right and everyone else is wrong” is the rule and all disputes are solved with violence. Intolerance has no political boundaries, except, it seems, the boundaries set by religion. HHmmm.. religion and intolerance…seem to go hand in hand.

Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans

Posted on June 13th, 2016 at 15:24 by John Sinteur in category: News


Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

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What Exactly Would It Mean to Have Trump’s Finger on the Nuclear Button?

Posted on June 13th, 2016 at 13:50 by John Sinteur in category: News


As with his predecessors, Trump’s power over the life and death of entire nations would be practically unbounded. Today, the nuclear deluge he could command would consist of thousands of weapons, each 10 or 20 times more deadly than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Nearly 2,000 U.S. strategic nuclear weapons aimed primarily at Russia and China (at a ratio of roughly 2 to 1), with additional dozens aimed at each of several other nations—North Korea, Iran and Syria—would be at a President Trump’s disposal from his first minutes in office. The city of Moscow alone lies in the bore sights of more than 100 U.S. nuclear warheads.

There are no restraints that can prevent a willful president from unleashing this hell.

If he gave the command, his executing commanders would have no legal or procedural grounds to defy it no matter how inappropriate it might seem. As long as the president can establish his or her true identity by his or her personal presence in the Pentagon’s nuclear war room or its alternates (places like Site R at Fort Richie near Camp David), or by phone or other means of communications linking him or her to these war rooms using a special identification card (colloquially known as “the biscuit” containing “the nuclear codes”) in his or her possession (or, alternatively, kept inside the “nuclear briefcase” carried by his or her military aide who shadows the president everywhere he or she works, travels and plays), a presidential nuclear decision is lawful (putting international humanitarian law aside). It must be obeyed as long as it is constitutional—i.e., the president as commander in chief believes he or she is acting to protect and defend the nation against an actual or imminent attack.

But within these broad constraints there is no wiggle room for evasion or defiance of the president’s orders. That’s true even if the national security adviser, the secretary of defense (who along with the president makes up the “national command authority”) and other top appointees and advisers disagree with the president’s decision. It does not matter whether the United States has already come under attack by nuclear or non-nuclear weapons. It does not even matter if the commander in chief simply orders the use of nuclear weapons on an ordinary day for reasons unknown to all but him or her. Under the president’s open-ended mandate to decide when the national interest is threatened, ordering up a nuclear strike is his or her prerogative, and obeying the order is incumbent upon the military servants of civilian authority.

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  1. In the immortal words of Tom Lehrer – So long mom, I’m off to drop the bomb. So, don’t wait up for me. I’ll be right back when the war is over, an hour and a half from now!

  2. “We’ll all go together when we go…!”

Revealed: Cambodia’s vast medieval cities hidden beneath the jungle

Posted on June 13th, 2016 at 9:53 by John Sinteur in category: News


Archaeologists in Cambodia have found multiple, previously undocumented medieval cities not far from the ancient temple city of Angkor Wat, the Guardian can reveal, in groundbreaking discoveries that promise to upend key assumptions about south-east Asia’s history.

The Australian archaeologist Dr Damian Evans, whose findings will be published in the Journal of Archaeological Science on Monday, will announce that cutting-edge airborne laser scanning technology has revealed multiple cities between 900 and 1,400 years old beneath the tropical forest floor, some of which rival the size of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

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Filthy, nasty hobbitses get the precious all dirty

Posted on June 12th, 2016 at 14:57 by John Sinteur in category: News

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‘Thought Leader’ gives talk that will inspire your thoughts

Posted on June 12th, 2016 at 14:42 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. My lovely but gullible BiL gets caught by these guys a lot 🙂

Hypervisor wiretap feature can leak data from the cloud

Posted on June 12th, 2016 at 9:59 by John Sinteur in category: News


The technique, dubbed TeLeScope, has been developed for research purposes and proves that a third-party can eavesdrop on communications encrypted with the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol between an end-user and a virtualised instance of a server.

The attack makes it possible for a malicious cloud provider, or one pressured into giving access to three-letter agencies, to recover the TLS keys used to encrypt every communication session between virtualised servers and customers. CIOs who are outsourcing their virtualised infrastructure to a third-party vendor should assume that all of the information flowing between the business and its customers has been decrypted and read for an undetermined amount of time.

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Apple has just become an energy company, looks to sell excess electricity into the grid and maybe more

Posted on June 11th, 2016 at 17:12 by John Sinteur in category: News


Apple has quietly created an energy subsidiary, ‘Apple Energy’ LLC, registered in Delaware but run from its Cupertino headquarters. The company was seemingly formed to allow it to sell excess electricity generated by its solar farms in Cupertino and Nevada, with plans to sell electricity across the whole of the US.

I would have called the company “iLectricity” – and I guess that explains why they don’t hire me…



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