Tech Today w/ Ken May

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One of the concerns that keeps many companies from adopting software-as-a-service for e-mail and other collaboration services has been the issue of who has control over the security of the content. Today at the RSA Conference, Microsoft is announcing changes to its Office 365 service that will allay some of those concerns, giving customers greater visibility into the security of their applications and control over what happens with them. At the same time, it will potentially be harder for government agencies and law enforcement to secretly subpoena the contents of an organization’s e-mail. In an interview with Ars, Microsoft’s general manager for Office 365 Julia White outlined the three new features, which are being announced in a blog post from Office 365 team Corporate Vice President Rajesh Jha today . Office 365 will now include a “Customer Lockbox” feature that puts customer organizations in control of when Microsoft employees can gain access to their data, requiring explicit permission from a customer before systems can be accessed to perform any sort of service on their Office 365 services. The capability will be turned on by the end of 2015 for e-mail and for SharePoint by the end of the first quarter of 2016. “We have automated everything we can to prevent the need for our people having to touch customer data,” White told Ars. “It’s almost zero—there are very rare instances when a Microsoft engineer has to log in to a customers’ services. Now we’re going to, in those rare instances, make customer approval mandatory to do so.” That would also apply to law enforcement requests for access, White acknowledged. “When the customer opts into the Lockbox, all requests would go into that process. So it’s a customer assurance of transparency. We want to systematically look at what kind of control and transparency customers want and provide it to them,” White said. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

sciencehabit writes: What are the oldest fossils on Earth? For a long time, a 3.46-billion-year-old rock from Western Australia seemed to hold the record. A 1993 Science paper (abstract) suggested that the Apex chert contained tiny, wormy structures that could have been fossilized cell walls of some of the world’s first cyanobacteria. But now there is more evidence that these structures have nothing to do with life. The elongated filaments were instead created by minerals forming in hydrothermal systems, researchers report (abstract). After the minerals were formed, carbon glommed on to the edges, leaving behind an organic signature that looked suspiciously like cell walls. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

We’ve found Kermit the Frog in real life and it’s a species of glassfrog just recently discovered called Hyalinobatrachium dianae in Costa Rica. It’s bright green just like Kermit, has big white adorable eyeballs just like Kermit and the males have a very unique mating call… just like Kermit, I guess? Anyway, the resemblance is uncanny. Read more…

You can now download your entire Google search history to your computer. Sound neat? That’s what I thought at first. And then I realized there were dangerous things in my search history—things way worse than my taste in porn. Read more…

These 3D Printed Organs Beat Just Like Your Heart

Posted by kenmay on April - 21 - 2015

The rhythmic beating of these clumps is mesmeric—but it could be life-saving, too. These are tiny 3D printed versions of hearts and lungs, which work just like the real thing. Read more…

In 2010, divers rescued some amazingly old alcohol from a shipwreck off the coast of Finland. They’ve already published some detailed tasting notes about the beer —but now they’ve carried out an in-depth analysis of the champagne. Read more…

Now That’s A Large USB Drive

Posted by kenmay on April - 21 - 2015

Large in physical size, not in storage capacity. Computer enthusiast Christopher Parish modified a vintage “DEC RL02” drive—as big as a decent PC case—from the 70s so it can connect to modern PCs via USB. Technically this might be the largest and the heaviest USB storage device in the world. Read more…

New Dark Web Market Is Selling Zero-Day Exploits

Posted by kenmay on April - 21 - 2015

Sparrowvsrevolution writes Over the last month, a marketplace calling itself TheRealDeal Market has emerged on the dark web, with a focus on sales of hackers’ zero-day attack methods. Like the Silk Road and its online black market successors like Agora and the recently defunct Evolution, TheRealDeal runs as a Tor hidden service and uses bitcoin to hide the identities of its buyers, sellers, and administrators. But while some other sites have sold only basic, low-level hacking tools and stolen financial details, TheRealDeal’s creators say they’re looking to broker premium hacker data like zero-days, source code, and hacking services, often offered on an exclusive, one-time sale basis. Currently an iCloud exploit is being offered for sale on the site with a price tag of $17, 000 in bitcoin, claiming to be a new method of hacking Apple iCloud accounts. “Any account can be accessed with a malicious request from a proxy account, ” reads the description. “Please arrange a demonstration using my service listing to hack an account of your choice.” Others include a technique to hack WordPress’ multisite configuration, an exploit against Android’s Webview stock browser, and an Internet Explorer attack that claims to work on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, available for around $8, 000 in bitcoin. None of these zero days have yet been proven to be real, but an escrow system on the site using bitcoin’s multisignature transaction feature is designed to prevent scammers from selling fake exploits. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New PCIe SSDs Load Games, Apps As Fast As Old SATA Drives

Posted by kenmay on April - 21 - 2015

crookedvulture writes Slashdot has covered a bunch of new PCI Express SSDs over the past month, and for good reason. The latest crop offers much higher sequential and random I/O rates than predecessors based on old-school Serial ATA interfaces. They’re also compatible with new protocols, like NVM Express, which reduce overhead and improve scaling under demanding loads. As one might expect, these new PCIe drives destroy the competition in targeted benchmarks, hitting top speeds several times faster than even the best SATA SSDs can muster. The thing is, PCIe SSDs don’t load games or common application data any faster than current incumbents—or even consumer-grade SSDs from five years ago. That’s very different from the initial transition from mechanical to solid-state storage, where load times improved noticeably for just about everything. Servers and workstations can no doubt take advantage of the extra oomph that PCIe SSDs provide, but desktop users may struggle to find scenarios where PCIe SSDs offer palpable performance improvements over even budget-oriented SATA drives. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Try performing in atmospheric Norse slam poetry competition

Posted by kenmay on April - 21 - 2015

MadameBerry has made us a neat toy: EDDA , An atmospheric slam poetry battle based on a collection of Old Norse poetry . Alongside warm firelight in a great hall, you choose how to complete phrases in response to your challenger, with the aim of besting four different types of poets. Read the rest