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December, 2018

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Best streaming movies of 2018: The lazy moviegoer’s guide – CNET

Those trailers looked so enticing, but if you never made it out to the cineplex, here’s your home list. …read more

Source:: CNet

FCC To Suspend Most Operations Thursday if the Partial Government Shutdown Continues

The Federal Communications Commission will suspend most operations in the middle of the day January 3 if the partial government shutdown continues, the agency has announced [PDF]. In a statement, it said: In the event of a continued partial lapse in federal government funding, the Federal Communications Commission will suspend most operations in the middle of the day on Thursday, January 3. At that time, employees will have up to four hours to complete an orderly shutdown of operations. However, work required for the protection of life and property will continue, as will any work related to spectrum auctions, which is funded by auction proceeds. In addition, the Office of the Inspector General will continue operations until further notice. The Commission on Wednesday will release a Public Notice detailing the effects the suspension of operations will have, including on electronic filing and database systems, filing deadlines, regulatory and application fee payments, transaction shot clocks, and more. The Public Notice will be available on the Commission’s website, www.fcc.gov.

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Source:: Slashdot

35C3: A Deep Dive into DOS Viruses and Pranks

Oh, the hijinks that the early days of the PC revolution allowed. Back in the days when a 20MB hard drive was a big deal and MS-DOS 3.1 ruled over every plain beige PC-clone cobbled together by enthusiasts like myself, it was great fun to “set up” someone else’s machine to do something unexpected. This generally amounted to finding an unattended PC — the rooms of the residence hall where I lived in my undergrad days were a target-rich environment in this regard — and throwing something annoying in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file. Hilarity ensued when the mark next booted the machine and was greeted with something like an inverted display or a faked hard drive formatting. Control-G was good to me too.

So it was with a sense of great nostalgia that I watched [Ben Cartwright-Cox]’s recent 35C3 talk on the anatomy and physiology of viruses from the DOS days. Fair warning to the seasoned reader that a sense of temporal distortion is inevitable while watching someone who was born almost a decade after the last meaningful release of MS-DOS discuss its inner workings with such ease. After a great overview of the DOS API elements that were key to getting anything done back then, malware or regular programs alike, he dives into his efforts to mine an archive of old DOS viruses, the payloads of most of which were harmless pranks. He built some tools to find viruses that triggered based on the system date, and used an x86 emulator he designed to test every day between 1980 and 2005. He found about 10,000 malware samples and explored their payloads, everything from well-wishes for the New Year to a bizarre foreshadowing of the Navy Seal Copypasta meme.

We found [Ben]’s talk a real treat, and it’s good to see someone from the current generation take such a deep dive into the ways many of us cut our teeth in the computing world.

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Source:: Hackaday

The lazy moviegoer’s guide to the best streaming movies of 2018 – CNET

Those trailers looked so enticing, but if you never made it out to the cineplex, here’s your home list. …read more

Source:: CNet

Threatlist: Dark Web Markets See an Evolution in Q3

Vulnerabilities, stolen credentials and an evolution of marketplaces mark the Dark Web in Q3. …read more

Source:: Threatpost

Google is Working on a Fix For Laggy Tablet Mode on Chrome OS Devices

An anonymous reader shares a report: Chrome OS was originally a laptop platform, but slowly it’s being reworked for tablet form factors. However, as that goes on, there have been some hiccups. Most recently, many have noted the poor performance of tablet mode especially on Chrome OS products like the Pixel Slate, but it seems a fix for that lag is incoming. If you tuned into any hands-on or review coverage of Google’s Pixel Slate, you’re likely familiar with the performance issues many have described. In tablet mode, Chrome OS has a lot of issues with lag. This is especially evident in the multitasking screen, and it seems that is the first thing Google is looking at to fix these problems. ChromeUnboxed notes a recent bug tracker which reveals how Google plans to start fixing Chrome OS tablet mode lag in the multitasking screen. Somewhat hilariously, it seems a big reason for the poor frame rates in the animations on this screen actually comes down to how the OS renders the rounded corners on this screen.

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Source:: Slashdot

NASA New Horizons to photograph Ultima Thule in historic New Year’s flyby – CNET

As 2019 nears, the spacecraft is hurtling toward the mysterious space rock Ultima Thule. …read more

Source:: CNet

China Gets on the Bandwagon To Provide Global Satellite Internet

Over the weekend, China launched a satellite into low-earth orbit, the first step of a plan to provide global satellite internet to people who still don’t have reliable access. From a report: Nearly 3.8 billion people are unconnected to the internet, and women and rural poor are particularly affected. The satellite, called Hongyun-1, took off at China’s national launching site Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Saturday (Dec. 22). Hongyun-1, or “rainbow cloud,” is the first of 156 satellites of the same name developed by state-owned spacecraft maker China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC). CASIC intends to launch all the Hongyun satellites by around 2022 to form a constellation that will improve internet access in remote parts of China, and eventually in developing countries, a plan first announced in 2016. Most of the satellites will operate 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) above the earth, far lower than satellites are typically placed. The project is “moving the internet currently on the ground into the sky,” said Hou Xiufeng, a spokesperson for CASIC, “It’s China’s first true low-orbit communication satellite… The launch will greatly boost commercial space.”

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Source:: Slashdot

The Art of Vacuum Tube Fabrication

Vacuum tubes fueled a technological revolution. They made the amplification of signals a reality for transatlantic telephone cables (and transcontinental ones too), they performed logic for early computers, and they delivered that warm fuzzy sound for high fidelity audio. But they were labor intensive to produce, and fragile, so semiconductors came along and replaced tubes in almost every application. But of course tubes are still with us and some tube applications are still critical — you’ll find them used in high-power RF and there are even satellites that depend on klystrons. So there are still experts in tube fabrication around, and Charles Alexanian is one of them. His newly-published talk at the 2018 Hackaday Supercon (found below) is a whirlwind tour of what goes into building a vacuum tube.

The process of building your own vacuum tube isn’t hard, but it’s not a walk in the park. The difficulty comes in the sheer number of processes, and the tricks of the trade found at every step. Charles’ methaphor is that if you build one tube at a time each step is like learning to ride a bicycle again, but if you build many you get into the swing of it and things go a lot better. His talk is a brief overview of everything, but if you want to drill down he also wrote an excellent article that goes further in depth.

In the working components of each tube are the precision parts: the grid (or grids). For the tube to function well these must be accurately produced which can be done with photolithography, but Charles usually uses a winding process involving a lathe. After winding, the grid is stretched to straighten the nickel wire, then cut to length. Other components such as the plate are stamped using an arbor press and simple forms he fabricates for the purpose.


Tube being tested for leaks

Two glass components are used, the dome itself, and feedthrough stems that have a wire for each lead passing through a glass disc. The components are spot welded to the inside portion of the feedthrough stem, then the glass is fused together, again using a lathe. It heads over to a pumping station to evacuate the air from the tube, and is finally tested for leaks using a handheld Tesla coil (see, we knew those weren’t just toys).

Charles proposed his Supercon appearance as a chance to fabricate tubes on-site. We loved the idea, but the amount of gear needed is somewhat prohibitive (annealing ovens, vacuum cabinets, torches for sealing, and the need for 220v, plus space for it all). That’s too bad since we were really hoping to see the Jolly Wrencher in …read more

Source:: Hackaday

Severn Bridge, a Main Route Between England and Wales, Shuts as Drone Flown From Tower

A main route between England and Wales was closed after a man climbed a bridge and flew a drone from the top. An anonymous reader shares a report: Traffic was stopped on the M48 — the older of two Severn crossings — because of “concern for welfare,” police said. The man, in his 20s, came down voluntarily from the 47m (154ft) bridge tower and was arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance. Highways England said it was deeply concerned and that “a person has put their life at serious risk”. “The incident was quickly spotted on our security cameras and reported to police and thankfully there was no injury or worse on this occasion,” it said. “Appropriate security is in place on the bridge, we are liaising with Avon and Somerset Police and will be undertaking investigations to determine if any damage was caused during the incident.” Police said: “Officers attended the M48 Severn Bridge at 08:10 this morning after concerns were raised for a man who appeared to have climbed one of the towers and was flying a drone off it.”

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