Freetronics is Australia's answer to a lot of electronic tinkerers' needs, selling items like Arduino compatible boards, cables, and specialized tools. Founder Jonathan Oxer is a (serious) electronics hobbyist himself; he talked with Slashdot last year about making ArduSats, which were then launched to the International Space Station. Now, Oxer has written an excellent guide for hobbyists who might get the chance to travel to Shenzhen, where so many of the world's electronic bits and bobs are made. As travel writing goes, it's fascinating for the sheer novelty of the place. If you actually have the chance to go, some of the advice here might save you money and time. For those of you who have been to Shenzhen, what else should visitors know?
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An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Help-Net Security (based on the linked Trend Micro report): "Every country's cybercriminal underground market has distinct characteristics, and with 500 million national mobile Internet users and the number continuously rising, the Chinese underground market is awash with cyber crooks buying and selling services and devices aimed at taking advantage of them. Trend Micro's senior threat researchers Lion Gu has been scouring forums, online shops and QQ chats to give us a sense of what is actually going on on this burgeoning mobile underground. Mobile apps that stealthily subscribe users to premium services are, naturally, very popular with cyber crooks in China as in the rest of the world. Premium service numbers can also be bought on underground markets. Network carriers usually assign premium service numbers to qualified service providers, but obviously some of them are not [averse to] selling them on to criminals."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Emily Sohn reports at Discovery Magazine that high levels of air pollution in Beijing, where levels of pollution have spiked above 750 micrograms per cubic meter, have caused a run on face masks as people look for ways to protect themselves from the smog. The capital is on its sixth day of an 'orange' smog alert — the second-highest on the scale — with the air tasting gritty and visibility down to a few hundred meters. But experts say that under the hazards they're facing, the masks are unlikely to help much. In fact, images of masked citizens navigating the streets of Beijing highlight the false confidence that people put in face masks in all sorts of situations, including flu outbreaks and operating rooms. For a step up in protection, consumers can buy a category of mask known technically as N95 respirators, which are generally available at hardware stores. N95 facemasks are often used in industrial workplace situations to protect against things like lead dust and welding fumes, and they are certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to trap 95 percent of particles sent through them in testing situations. But in order to work N95 respirators need to be professionally fitted to each person's individual face (PDF) to make sure there is a tight seal with no leaks. If they truly fit right, they are uncomfortable to wear."
astroengine writes "The world's oldest cheese has been found on the necks and chests of perfectly preserved mummies buried in China's desert sand. Dating back as early as 1615 B.C., the lumps of yellowish organic material have provided direct evidence for the oldest known dairy fermentation method. The individuals were likely buried with the cheese so they could savor it in the afterlife. Although cheese-making is known from sites in northern Europe as early as the 6th millennium B.C. and was common in Egypt and Mesopotamia in 3rd millennium B.C., until now no remains of ancient cheeses had been found."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Dropbox has renewed access to the Chinese market for the first time in four years. But why? The Chinese government first blocked access to Dropbox in 2010, most likely to prevent people within China from sharing data via the cloud. Now Dropbox is back online in China, albeit at slower speeds. Despite repeated queries from Slashdot, however, Dropbox has declined to comment on why China may have dropped the in-country restrictions to its services. "We still have nothing to share," the company responded after the third email. Dropbox isn't the only foreign cloud service available on the Chinese market (although Google Drive remains blocked): in late 2013, Amazon announced it would open an Amazon Web Services (AWS) region in the country; at the time, the Amazon Web Services Blog alluded to the "legal and regulatory requirements" that this new AWS region will obey. So questions remain: Did Dropbox know it would regain entry to the Chinese market? If so, did it need to agree to certain conditions before the Chinese government would "flip the switch," as it were?"
An anonymous reader writes "Mark Shuttleworth just had a conference call with the press where he announced Canonical has partnered with BQ in Europe and Meizu in China to manufacture Ubuntu phones that will ship in 2014. By the time devices ship, the hope is to have ports of the top 50 Android and iOS apps available on Ubuntu." Mark Shuttleworth notes "The mobile industry has long been looking for a viable alternative to those that reign today. Ubuntu puts the control back into the hands of our partners and presents an exciting platform for consumers, delivering an experience which departs from the tired app icon grid of Android and iOS and provides a fluid, content-rich experience for all."
cold fjord writes with news that Red Flag Software, makers of China's Red Hat derivative Red Flag Linux, has halted operations. From the article: "Once the world's second-largest Linux distributor, Red Flag Software has shuttered reportedly due to mismanagement and after owing employees months in unpaid wages. China's state-funded answer to global software giants like Microsoft ... filed for liquidation over the weekend and terminated all employee contracts. Set up in late-1999 amid the dot-com boom, Red Flag was touted as an alternative to Windows ... It thrived in the early days, inking deals with partners such as Oracle and Dell which products were certified to support and shipped with Red Flag Software. The Beijing-based vendor was primarily funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Software Research, and later received additional funding from state-owned Shanghai NewMargin Venture Capital and the Ministry of Information Industry's VC arm ... 'A lack of brand awareness and sustained investments, coupled with the rise of rivals including Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SuSE Linux Enterprise, led to its downfall,' Eric Peng, Beijing-based research manager with IDC, said ... Peng noted that, during its hey days, Red Flag had enjoyed high adoption among government agencies, state-owned organizations, and schools.""
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Arshad Mohammed reports on Reuters from Jakarta that US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Indonesians that man-made climate change could threaten their entire way of life, deriding those who doubted the existence of 'perhaps the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction' and describing those who do not accept that human activity causes global warming as 'shoddy scientists' and 'extreme ideologues'. 'Because of climate change, it's no secret that today Indonesia is ... one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth. It's not an exaggeration to say that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk,' said Kerry. 'In a sense, climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.' In Beijing on Friday, Kerry announced that China and the United States had agreed to intensify information-sharing and policy discussions on their plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions after 2020. At home, Kerry faces a politically tricky decision on whether to allow the Keystone XL pipeline after a State Department report played down the impact the Keystone pipeline would have on climate change. However Kerry showed little patience for skeptics in his speech. 'We just don't have time to let a few loud interest groups hijack the climate conversation,' said Kerry. 'I'm talking about big companies that like it the way it is, that don't want to change, and spend a lot of money to keep you and me and everybody from doing what we know we need to do.'"
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from The Verge: "The South Korean government has decided to route sensitive data away from networks operated by Huawei, amid longstanding fears from the U.S. that the Chinese company's infrastructure could be used to spy on communications. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the U.S. had been urging its South Korean allies to route government communications away from Huawei networks, claiming that the infrastructure could be used to spy on communications with American military bases there. As a result, Huawei equipment will not be used at any American military base in South Korea. The Obama administration denies playing a role in the decision, and South Korean officials have not commented. The Journal reports that the White House made a point of keeping the talks private because it didn't want to be seen as meddling in its ally's business affairs."
wiredmikey writes "Security researchers from FireEye have discovered a new IE 10 Zero-Day exploit (CVE-2014-0322) being used in a watering hole attack on the US Veterans of Foreign Wars' website. According to FireEye, attackers compromised the VFW website and added an iframe to the site's HTML code that loads the attacker's page in the background. When the malicious code is loaded in the browser, it runs a Flash object that orchestrates the remainder of the exploit. Dubbed 'Operation SnowMan' by FireEye, the attack targets IE 10 with Adobe Flash. According to a recently-released report from CrowdStrike Strategic Web Compromises (SWC), where attackers infect strategic Websites as part of a watering hole attack to target a specific group of users, were a favorite attack method for groups operating out of Russia and China. FireEye believes the attackers behind the campaign, thought to be operating out of China, are associated with two previously identified campaigns: Operation DeputyDog and Operation Ephemeral Hydra. 'A possible objective in the SnowMan attack is targeting military service members to steal military intelligence,' FireEye said."
Despite being declared officially lost, the Chinese moon rover may yet have some life left. Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "CNN reports that reports of Jade Rabbit's demise may have been premature as signs are emerging that China's first lunar rover may be up and running again. Following technical malfunctions Xinhua says that the lunar rover had lost communication with mission control but on Thursday the state news agency said that the rover was "fully awake" and had returned to its normal signal-receiving status. "Jade Rabbit has fully resurrected and is able to receive signals, but still suffers a mechanical control abnormality," says China's lunar program spokesman Pei Zhaoyu. "The rover entered hibernation while in an abnormal state. We were worried it wouldn't be able to make it through the extreme cold of the lunar night. But it came back alive. The rover stands a chance of being saved as it is still alive." The lunar rover's end seemed near when it signed off at the end of January with a poignant message: "Goodnight humanity." Yutu, as the device is known in Mandarin, had been out of action for two weeks following a technical malfunction, and media around the world filed its obituary late on Wednesday after a short statement on Chinese state media alerted the world to its apparent terminal failings. Should Jade Rabbit make a full recovery, it would cap another success for space exploration, which has seen NASA's Opportunity Mars rover, currently exploring the red planet, far outlast its expected lifespan."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft has censored Chinese-language results for Bing users in the United States as well as mainland China, according to an article in The Guardian. But this isn't the first time that Bing's run into significant controversy over the 'sanitizing' of Chinese-language search results outside of mainland China. In November 2009, Microsoft came under fire from free-speech advocates after New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof accused the company of 'craven kowtowing' to the mainland Chinese government by sanitizing its Chinese-language search results for users around the world. Just as with The Guardian and other news outlets this week, Microsoft insisted at the time that a 'bug' was to blame for the sanitized search results. 'The bug identified in the web image search was indeed fixed,' a Microsoft spokesperson told me in December 2009, after I presented them with a series of screenshots suggesting that the pro-Chinese-government filter remained in effect even after Kristof's column. 'Please also note that Microsoft 'recognize[s] that we can continue to improve our relevancy and comprehensiveness in these web results and we will.' Time will tell whether anything's different this time around."
An anonymous reader writes "'Jade Rabbit,' the first lunar rover successfully deployed by China, has now been officially declared 'lost.' The rover encountered problems on January 25th, just over a month into its planned three-month mission. 'The rover's mechanical problems are likely related to critical components that must be protected during the cold lunar night. When temperatures plunge, the rover's mast is designed to fold down to protect delicate instruments, which can then be kept warm by a radioactive heat source. Yutu also needs to angle a solar panel towards the point where the sun will rise to maintain power levels. A mechanical fault in these systems could leave the rover fatally exposed to the dark and bitter cold.'"
kc123 sends this report from The Guardian: "Microsoft's search engine Bing appears to be censoring information for Chinese language users in the U.S. in the same way it filters results in mainland China. Searches first conducted by anti-censorship campaigners at FreeWeibo, a tool that allows uncensored search of Chinese blogs, found that Bing returns radically different results in the U.S. for English and Chinese language searches on a series of controversial terms. These include Dalai Lama, June 4 incident (how the Chinese refer to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989), Falun Gong and FreeGate, a popular internet workaround for government censorship."
itwbennett writes "It all started with a parade through Pyongyang on April 15, 2012, held to commemorate the birthday of the country's founder, Kim Il Sung. At this parade, one thing had analysts buzzing: six mobile launchers carrying KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missiles. Bloggers in China quickly noted the similarities between the trucks and those used by the Chinese military, right down to the shape of the windows and the grille pattern. It's the stuff of spy thrillers. A few seconds of video, literature, a couple of memoirs and Google Earth helped locate a secret North Korean military plant — and using none of the classified tools of the intelligence trade."
First time accepted submitter maratumba writes to explain a bill in Turkey that extends what are already hefty Internet curbs in place under a controversial 2007 law that Earned Turkey equal ranking with China as the world's biggest web censor according to a Google Transparency report published in December. The text notably permits a government agency, the Telecommunications Communications Presidency (TIB), to block Access to websites without court authorization if they are deemed to violate privacy or with content Seen as 'insulting.' Erdogan, Turkey's all-powerful leader since 2003, is openly suspicious of the Internet, branding Twitter a 'menace' for being Utilized in organisation of mass nationwide protests in June in which six people died and thousands were injured."
the_newsbeagle writes "Chinese engineers love their superlatives: Biggest dam, fastest train, etc etc. Now they've constructed the deepest underground dark matter detector beneath a mountain in Sichuan province. Such dark matter seekers have to be buried deep to shield them from cosmic rays, because that radiation would be picked up by the detector and could be confused for radiation generated by dark matter. Other dark matter detectors are similarly subterranean: LUX, in the United States, is at the bottom of an abandoned mine in South Dakota, and a European effort called XENON lies below the Gran Sasso mountain. The Chinese researchers hope their PandaX detector will finally reveal the much-hypothesized, never-seen dark matter particles known as WIMPs."
cold fjord writes: "NDTV reports, 'Israel plans to do what only the world's biggest countries have so far managed to do: land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon ... only Russia, the U.S. and China have soft landed on the moon, and India hard landed its tri-colour using the moon impact probe in 2008 ... The washing machine-sized spacecraft that weighs 121 kilograms is being readied by a not-for-profit venture called SpaceIL. ... The Israeli lunar probe had its genesis after the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize was announced as a competition which challenged non-state-owned space agencies to land on the moon, send back photos, and move 500 meters on the surface of the moon. About two dozen global teams are racing to win the prize- SpaceIL reckons it's in pole position. ... ex-NASA engineer Yonatan Winetraub and two of his friends conceived of the spacecraft in 2010 ... then used a Facebook page to promote the dream. Today, the dream has matured into a $36 million mission with 20 full time employees and 250 volunteers. ... Around 40,000 school students have been associated with this project.' Further details are available here."
gallifreyan99 writes "The real revolution in drugs isn't Silk Road—it's the open web. Thanks to the net, almost anyone with a basic handle on chemistry can design, manufacture and sell their own narcotics, and in most cases the cops are utterly unable to stop them. This piece is kind of crazy: the writer actually creates a new powerful-but-legal stimulant based on a banned substance, and gets a Chinese lab to manufacture it."
_0x783czar writes "Google today announced that they will be selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for the sum of $2.91 billion USD. Google says the move should allow the company to receive the attention and focus it deserves in order to thrive. From the announcement: '[T]he smartphone market is super competitive, and to thrive it helps to be all-in when it comes to making mobile devices. It's why we believe that Motorola will be better served by Lenovo — which has a rapidly growing smartphone business and is the largest (and fastest-growing) PC manufacturer in the world. This move will enable Google to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem, for the benefit of smartphone users everywhere.' Google was quick to add that this does not signal a move away from their other hardware projects. Additionally Google will 'retain the vast majority of Motorola's patents,' which they hope to continue using to stabilize the Android ecosystem. The deal has yet to be approved by either the U.S. or China."