The NewsDemon Blog
June 14th, 2013
In a world where privacy is fast becoming an illusion, pay attention to Benjamin Franklin’s famous warning that “three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”
Last week, leaks revealed that the Web sites most people use every day are sharing users’ private information with the government. Companies participating in the National Security Agency’s program, code-named PRISM, include Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. During the 1990s, a “cypherpunk” movement predicted that ubiquitous, user-friendly cryptographic software would make it impossible for governments to spy on ordinary users’ private communications.
Consumers have overwhelmingly chosen convenience and usability. Mainstream communications tools are more user-friendly than their cryptographically secure competitors and have features that would be difficult to implement in an NSA-proof fashion.
However, nowadays, its easier today to encrypt your internet connection and secure your identity than ever before.
NewsDemon.com Newsgroups currently offers SlickVPN service which works with a variety of protocols and devices that allows users to encrypt their internet connection and use an IP address from countries and citiers around the world. This allows the user to circumvent any prying eyes that may be trying to listen in.
The SlickVPN service anonymizes your geographic location and passes all your information through an encrypted tunnel.
There is no reason to believe that the NSA, or anyone else, can crack strong encryption VPN services that have been studied and vetted. If you want to protect your identity online, its more important than ever to use a VPN service to secure your identity.
NewsDemon.com Newsgroup members can include VPN as part of their membership in their admin control panel. For non-members, SlickVPN pricing is available on their website. Or get USENET and VPN access both for one low price from Newsdemon
July 10th, 2012
In what is perhaps the biggest discovery in the physical sciences in years, scientists at CERN say that they likely have discovered the Higgs boson particle, considered by many a major key to furthering our understanding of the universe as reported on USENET Newsgroups.
Two teams worked separately in arriving at their results, discovering what may be a new subatomic particle. The researchers expressed optimism that the new discovery is, in fact, the Higgs boson particle that could explain how particles obtain their mass. “As a layman, I think I would say, ‘we have it,’” Rolf-Dieter Heuer of CERN said at a press conference announcing the findings, “but as a scientist I have to say, ‘what do we have?’”
Further research is needed to better understand the results and what they mean, but the research teams described their results as ‘five sigma’, which puts the chance that their results were simply an abnormality at extremely minute to say the least. The science world erupted in excitement at the announcement with many evaluating what the new discovery could mean for our understanding of the physical universe.
“This is indeed a new particle,” said Joe Incandela, a spokesman for one of the research teams. “We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found. The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks.”
Sometimes called the ‘God particle’, the Higgs boson is named after Peter Higgs, one of the scientists who theorized of its existence in the 1960s. He was on hand for the announcement in Geneva.
The possible discovery of the Higgs boson has generated a renewed interest in the field as media outlets from around the world reported and discussed the new findings. ‘Higgs’ was even trending on Twitter on the day of the announcement. The new findings will surely generate plenty of discussion in Usenet newsgroups and other forums designated for the discussion of such scientific discoveries.
June 8th, 2012
The World Science Festival recently took place in New York City, and one of the discussions centered around the invention of the Internet. While most recognize the contributions of Vinton Cerf, who was on hand at the event, and others in creating the Internet, one rather obscure name was mentioned by one of the panelists for the role he played in conceptualizing the Internet as far back as 1934: Paul Otlet.
One of the panel members at the event, Alex Wright, took note of Otlet’s ideas about the potential of communication technology that would incorporate several of the modern technologies of his time. Otlet considered the potential of technologies like radio waves, telephones, and television, and how they may one day connect people to information from all over the world.
Otlet imagined calling a large database by telephone, where the requested information would be transmitted by an individual working at the database (or library, as you might call it) to a screen in the user’s home. What’s more, his vision included dividing the screen into several sections to allow multiple documents to be viewed at the same time, which is very similar to the use of tabs on a typical browser today.
He even imagined a loud speaker to accompany the images if audio was required in addition to the image displayed on the screen. Otlet imagined cinema, phonograph, television, radio, and telephone combining to become ‘the new book’ that allowed easier and more direct sharing of the world’s knowledge and information.
His vision is remarkably similar to today’s reality of the Internet. Most in need of information consult the Internet before they consult books, and cinema, music, text, and other mediums combine to create a vast information sharing network that connects people to other cultures, knowledge, and ideas. Perhaps nowhere is this vision better represented than in the Usenet newsgroups, where ideas, information, and files are shared and discussed among users from countries and cultures all over the globe.
March 27th, 2012
According to USENET newsgroups, IBM’s Watson supercomputer is gathering a working resume that any oncologist would envy. In its latest project, the supercomputer will be used to to assist Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center physicians in diagnosing and treating patients.
When Big Blue debuted its lively computer on Jeopardy! last year, we knew it was only a matter of time before its abilities were used in the real world. And that starts with the hospital, apparently.
Watson can understand natural English and also process about 1 million books per second. With this enormous power, he was able to beat two of the all-time top players on Jeopardy!
Cancer treatment has become a lot more complicated over the last several years, and new methods of treatment are being invented all the time. Most physicians can’t keep up with everything, and it can take years for new treatments to become currrent. On top of that, few patients (Sloan Kettering says only about 15 percent) make it to specialized cancer centers in the first place.
With intelligent databases — and the computers to help sift through them — the hope is that technology can help disperse the most advanced knowledge available, without the patient skipping from specialist to specialist.
March 21st, 2012
Mining personal data to discover what people care about has become big business for companies such as Facebook and Google. Now a project from Microsoft Research is trying to bring that kind of data mining back home to help people explore their own piles of personal digital data according to Microsoft USENET newsgroups.
Software called Lifebrowser processes photos, e-mails, Web browsing and search history, calendar events, and other documents stored on a person’s computer and identifies landmark events. Its timeline interface can explore, search, and discover those landmarks as a kind of memory aid.
Lifebrowser’s interactive timeline looks like a less polished version of Facebook’s recently introduced Timeline feature. However, as USENET posts point out, the design predates Facebook’s and doesn’t rely on a user to manually curate it. Photos, e-mails, and other documents and data points appear in chronological order, but Lifebrowser’s timeline only shows those judged to be associated with “landmark” events by artificial intelligence algorithms. A user can slide a “volume control” to change how significant data has to be if it is to appear on the timeline. A search feature can pull up landmark events on a certain topic.
Behind the scenes, Lifebrowser uses several machine-learning techniques to sift through personal data and determine what is important to its owner. When judging photos, Lifebrowser looks at properties of an image file for clues, including whether the file name was modified or the flash had fired. It even examines the contents of a photo using machine-vision algorithms to learn how many people were captured in the image and whether it was taken inside or outdoors. The “session” of photos taken at one time is also considered as a group, for cues such as how long an event was and how frequently photos were taken.
Lifebrowser looks for clues about whether a file is especially significant, and asks for extra hints if it’s unsure. A screen saver prompts a user to inform Lifebrowser if certain photos are of “landmark” events or not, and a simple dialogue does the same for calendar invitations. Over time, the system learns what’s important to you, and adapts.
The technology is fairly new and its still to be seen whether or not it will also pull up posts and topics pulled from USENET newsgroups over time.
December 12th, 2011
If confirmed next week, this will be the biggest news in the history of physics since the birth of the Theory of Relativity: USENET newsgroups report that CERN scientists may have already found evidence of the existence of the elusive Higgs boson. THE FORCE, Luke!
Newsgroups cite that a respected scientist from the Cern particle physics laboratory has reported that he expects to see “the first glimpse” of the Higgs boson next week.
That would be tomorrow, when two Large Hadron Collider teams would reveal the results of their research, highlighting ten candidates that show evidence of Higgs. Those ten candidates were found from the remains of about 350 trillion collisions using the ATLAS and CMS detectors.
What’s the Higgs boson?
According to most physicists, there’s a Higgs field that is everywhere. The elusive Higgs particle would be the carrier of that field, interacting with all the other particles, “sort of the way a Jedi knight in Star Wars is the carrier of the “force”, as National Geographic eloquently put it when the Large Hadron Collider was being built. Or like Obi Wan said, “the Force surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”
Why is it important?
The Higgs boson is a pivotal part of the standard model of particle physics but nobody has ever found evidence of its existence. It’s one of the main reasons of why the Large Hadron Collider was built. Other than time travel and opening portals to alternate dimensions, that is.
The discovery of this particle is fundamental to our understanding of how the Universe works. So important that—according to the former theoretical physics lead at CERN, John Ellis—”we’ve been living with Higgs theory now for almost 50 years… it’s become our Holy Grail.” Ellis said the excitement among all scientist at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland is very high. That may not sound impressive, given that Switzerland is the most boring country on Earth after Belgium, but if they call it the God Particle, you know it has to be important.
When would we get a photo of the God particle?
Not yet. Tomorrow’s data will not be confirmed until they are able to produce repeated evidence in future experiments. Scientists expect this to happen around next summer.
As Sergio Bertolucci—director of research at CERN—puts it: “It’s too early to say…I think we may get indications that are not consistent with its non-existence [but] we are on a good path to the discovery.”
February 14th, 2011
According to the latest technology newsgroup postings, humankind has stored more than 295 billion gigabytes (or 295 exabytes) of data since 1986, according to a new report based on research by scientists at the University of Southern California. And it comes out to 295 exabytes- at least as of 2007.
In other words, the amount of data the world stored by 2007 is equal to 1.2 billion average hard drives.
The data doesn’t just take PCs into account, though. A total of 60 technologies, from DVDs to paper adverts and books, were included in the research. To provide a sense of scale, Dr Martin Hilbert of the University of Southern California, has been reported to state in cyber world newsgroups: ‘If we were to take all that information and store it in books, we could cover the entire area of the US or China in 13 layers of books.
The same information stored digitally on CDs would create a stack of discs that would reach beyond the moon, according to the researchers.
The researchers say humankind sent 1.9 zettabytes (1,000 exabytes) of information in 2007 through broadcast technology such as televisions and GPS, equivalent to every person in the world receiving 174 newspapers every day. For two-way communications, cell phones for instance, the 2007 total is 65 exabytes, about equal to every person on Earth relaying six newspapers worth of information per day.
The authors say we can consider 2002 the dawn of the digital age, when digital storage of information pulled ahead of analog storage. By 2007, nearly 94 percent of the world’s memory was in digital form.
To put those numbers in perspective, a zettabyte is 1,000 exabytes. An exabyte is 1,000 petabytes. A petabyte is 1,000 terabytes. A terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes. And you should know what a gigabyte is. Even with an Unlimited USENET account with constant downloading, you’d be waiting a long, long time to complete that amount of data.
Even if you did, the figure will only have increased since the ’07 cut-off date, given that the researchers reckon the storage capacity of the world’s computers doubles every month.
And you thought you were killing it with your 2 terabyte hard drive.
September 27th, 2010
Accessing USENET newsgroups on the go may quickly become better and faster. The Federal Communications Commission has voted unanimously to allow unused airwaves in the broadcast TV spectrum to be used for unlicensed mobile broadband operations, creating a Super Wi-Fi. The decision will enable both greater bandwidth and longer range than present-day Wi-Fi signals.
The unlicensed airspace, which sits between TV channels on the spectrum and is called “white space,” uses a lower frequency than traditional Wi-Fi, which means it can travel both farther and faster, and can penetrate walls. White space technology’s capabilities have led some to dub it “Super Wi-Fi” or “Wi-Fi on steroids,” in the words of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
By unlocking the white spaces that exist between digital TV channels, namely 50MHz and 700MHz frequencies, it enables Wi-Fi to perform better.
“Unlocking this valuable spectrum will open the doors for new industries to arise, create American jobs, and fuel new investment and innovation,” the FCC said.
Upon FCC’s approval, Genachowski celebrated the possibilities of Super Wi-Fi.
“Super Wi-Fi is what it sounds like: Wi-Fi, but with longer range, faster speeds, and more reliable connections,” he said. “We can also expect, as we’ve seen now with Wi-Fi, enhanced performance from the mobile devices using licensed spectrum that we’ve come to rely on so heavily.”
Super Wi-Fi is expected to generate speeds that are 15 times faster than current Wi-Fi technologies, allowing for mobile devices, such as the upcoming tablets and laptops to access and use it to access these networks for optimal USENET and online access.
September 8th, 2010
Amateur astronomer newsgroups and other space related newsgroups are abuzz with the recent finding from NASA scientists that said one of two small asteroids passed between the Earth and the moon on Wednesday.
The first one passed by early Wednesday morning. The second rock, estimated to be 20 by 46 feet long, is on the same course and is scheduled to pass late Wednesday afternoon.
On our side to help us from these dangers of the Universe, Asteroid hunters at the CfA monitor and research what these asteroids may or may not do,
According to their calculations, the asteroids will not clash with Earth but they will pass our planet at a relatively close distance. The asteroids will be visible from amateur telescopes.
The first one, 2010 RX 30, is at least 30 meters long. Its closest pass: about 154,000 miles. That’s 40 percent closer than the Moon. The second asteroid, 2010 RF 12, is about 20 meters long; it will miss us by a mere 49,000 miles. That’s about 80 percent closer than the Moon.
Once every 10 years, one of those 10-meter asteroids sails into the atmosphere. Most of them burn up – but every now and then, a space rock comes swooping down and burns up through our atmosphere without causing any significant damage.
The second asteroid pass won’t be visible to the naked eye. However, as it has been reported on USENET, it can be seen through an amateur telescope.
It’s unknown exactly how much damage such objects would do if they did hit Earth. On space newsgroups, published reports of simulations showing that a 30 to 50 meter asteroid could cause substantial damage to Earth’s surface by depositing energy several kilometers up in the atmosphere, and causing a jet of expanding gas to plunge to the ground.
A large meteorite exploded above Siberia a hundred years ago – and flattened 80 million trees. The last time a really big asteroid hit the Earth was about 700 B.C. in what’s now Estonia.
August 30th, 2010
An asteroid or a comet may be on their way to destroy Earth. In seconds the cataclysmic explosion could devour our entire planet.
Luckily, a group of unsung heroes is on the case to find out if and when such an occurrence can happen here on our planet. No, it’s not Superman, Wonder Woman or any other member of the Super Friends.
The “Hall of Justice” that harbor these heroes are not hovering above the earth in a space station. Rather, these less than selomly heard from group of researchers, scientists and others share a small space at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).
Here, they monitor, research and determine if the leads and information they receive from other astronomers and other researchers pose a threat to our planet.
Having to calculate a great many variables, this research team lead by Timothy B. Spahr (director of the Minor Planet Center) are the call center for suspicious objects found throughout the Universe.
It’s reported that this team has taken the task for years now to compile and evaluate whether such an occurrence is even possible on a variety of space related newsgroups.
Credited on newsgroups from such reports such as the Juno asteroid and as well as a solar system, they use the information gathered to definitively determine what these objects may be and how they can affect us.
No other country in the world has a group with as many resources or size to this matter as the one found at the CfA. They’re seen as the authority throughout the world that can determine whether or not our existence is in immediate peril from runaway space objects flinging towards us.
As of now, the CfA has marked us as safe from all that they’ve found for now. But their job is not done. Many objects speeding close to the speed of light are not always seen dashing across the vastness of our universe. These objects have the possibility of coming around through our galaxy at any moment.
It’s the job of these superheroes, alongside other gastronomists and scientists, to keep looking up and looking out before it’s lights out for us.
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