Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for December 3, 2019

in rsslog •  3 months ago 

U. of Miami gets an upgraded supercomputer; A proposal to implement account names on the Bitcoin blockchain; Australian police implement the world's first system for detecting drivers using cell phones; Security researchers claim that Telcos are exposing to risk while updating from SMS to RCS; and a Steem essay describing a word-count implementation in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript


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  1. The University of Miami just invested $3.7 million in a new campus-wide supercomputer, and it's a case study in how higher education is changing in the age of big data - This article covers information from the University of Miami's Nicholas Tsinoremas and IBM's David Turek. After a $3.7 million upgrade, the U. of Miami's supercomputer, TRITON, is now 8-10 times more powerful than it used to be. The school is seeing increased demand for supercomputing in subjects ranging from hard-sciences to humanities and business analytics. In general, says Turek, supercomputers can speed the solutions of mathematically defined problems from months to days, so the return on investment (ROI) for a supercomputing is best understood in terms of increased productivity.

  2. Does Bitcoin Need Accounts? One Developer Thinks So, and He Figured Out How - In a gambit to enhance usability while preserving privacy and autonomy, developer José Femenías Cañuelo has proposed a layer 2 Bitcoin protocol called, Easypaysy. The protocol is described in a whitepaper on December 1. The proposal makes use of multi-key signatures where a transaction is encrypted with an "identity key" and a "value key". The identity key must be kept online, but as a security measure, Femenías says that users may want to keep the value key in cold storage. The technique assigns account IDs based upon the first block and transaction numbers where it appears, along with a checksum. This string can be converted into a pneumonic using the BIP39 protocol. For example, the pneumonic account: btc@cancel-mind.exhibit/motion would convert to btc@543847.636/577, where the account was created in block 543847 and transaction 636. The proposal also includes 4 different payment types, providing various levels of privacy, interactivity, and transaction fees.

  3. World-first mobile phone detection cameras rolled out in Australia - On Sunday, December 1, New South Wales (NSW), Australia, deployed the world's first camera system that automatically detects when drivers are using their cell phones. According to Michael Corby, the goal of the system is to change the culture around the use of cell phones when driving. It is currently legal to make or receive calls while driving in NSW, but only with a hands-free device. After snapping a photo, the images will be verified by human moderators. For the first three months of operation, the system will issue warning letters. After that, identified drivers will receive fines of A$344 or A$457 in school zones. The agency has received a significant volume of complaints expressing the concern that this system flips the presumption of innocence against the defendants. h/t Bruce Schneier

  4. SMS Replacement is Exposing Users to Text, Call Interception Thanks to Sloppy Telecos - As the Rich Communication Services (RCS) standard emerges as a replacement for the short message service (SMS), researchers from Security Research Labs (SRLabs) are reporting that large telcos have implemented the new protocol in a way that leaves their users exposed to security issues like location leaks, spoofed phone numbers, and even text message and call interception. The findings will be presented at the December Black Hat Europe conference by researchers, Luca Melette and Sina Yazdanmehr. The article says that the standard itself is secure, but it leaves many implementation details undefined, so carriers often implement it in dangerous ways. Karsten Nohl is quoted as saying, "Everybody seems to get it wrong right now, but in different ways," and, "All of these mistakes from the 90s are being reinvented, reintroduced". h/t OS news

  5. STEEM Javascript Programming: Building a simple wordcounter with HTML, CSS, and Javascript - In this post, @zoneboy provides code in HTML, CSS, and Javascript to implement a simple word counter. The post goes on to describe the operation of the code, and to provide a link to Codepen where we can see it in operation. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @zoneboy.)


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