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Monster asteroid linked to Japan ‘fireball’ incident could be doomed to hit Earth, scientists warn

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Humanity could face extinction if the doomsday space rock smashed into our planet (Image: Getty)

A fireball that exploded in the sky over Japan could be linked to a huge asteroid that’s destined to smash into our planet.

That’s the warning from scientists who have been trying to work out the origins of a tiny, ping-pong ball-sized object which went kaboom as it burned up in Earth’s atmosphere in 2017.

The tiny meteor posed absolutely no threat to humanity as it lit up the sky over Kyoto Airport.

But Japanese astronomers have claimed it actually broke off a monstrous space rock called 2003 YT1 that’s more than a mile wide.

This object is so huge that is has it’s own moon. For comparison’s sake, it’s believed the asteroid which killed the dinosaurs was between seven and 50 miles in diameter.

It has a 6% chance of hitting Earth at some point in the next 10 million years.

In a paper published on Arxiv, astronomers said their analysis has ‘identified a likely parent [of the Kyoto fireball], the binary near-Earth asteroid (164121) 2003 YT1.

If humanity was still around to witness a cataclysmic impact from this apocalypse asteroid, we could face extinction or, at the very least, endure death and carnage on a global scale.

The impact would cause a fireball which would wipe out everything within a radius of hundreds of miles, throwing so much dust into the air that crops would fail around the world and mass starvation would threaten our species’ future.

Writing about an impact from a similarly sized object in a post on Quora, mathematician and space expert Robert Walker wrote: ‘it would produce a crater 46 kilometres in diameter.

‘The firestorm including debris thrown up and landing and starting up new fires would extend to 600 km from the impact point.

‘There would be regional earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunami (if it hit the sea). Skies darker than the darkest cloud cover from the dust thrown up into the upper atmosphere, global temperature drops 8 degrees celsius for a week and moderate global effects for months. No summer that year.

‘Plant growth is disrupted for years and there are some global crop failures and some regional extinctions. We get hit by one of these roughly every half million years on average.’



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Here we go again – more than two dozen Android apps caught stealing your data

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  • Sketchy Android apps that spy on users and steal data have been a nagging presence inside Google’s Play Store for a while now, despite the search giant’s best efforts to rid its app marketplace of bad actors.
  • It’s basically led to a giant game of whack-a-mole, with the latest apps to be clobbered by Google and pulled from the app store being a batch of 25 malicious apps discovered by a French cybersecurity firm.
  • The apps could have stolen users’ Facebook credentials, and they racked up more than 2 million downloads.

Consider this your umpteenth reminder that for as much as Google keeps improving or promising it’s improved the company’s proprietary app marketplace, sketchy app developers will never stop coming and never stop trying to sneak into the Google Play Store — past all the company’s defenses — to put its apps into the mix and awaiting your download. Which we saw yet another example of in recent days, with the revelation that Google has booted another batch of Android apps from the store, this time 25 apps caught in a position to steal users’ Facebook login data.

Evina, a French cybersecurity firm, disclosed this news in recent weeks, with its report that a single threat group developed the batch of apps that were made to look like everything from wallpaper and flashlight apps to mobile games. However, all the apps had the same goal, as Evina explains in its report of the fraud.

“When an application is launched on your phone, the malware queries the application name,” the company explains. “If it is a Facebook application, the malware will launch a browser that loads Facebook at the same time. The browser is displayed in the foreground which makes you think that the application launched it. When you enter your credentials into this browser, the malware executes javascript to retrieve them. The malware then sends your account information to a server.”

The apps included:

android apps

One thing to note is that when Google pulled the apps from the Play Store after Evina shared its findings, the search giant also disables the apps on the user’s end — in addition to notifying the user via the Play Store’s Play Protect service.

According to Evina, it informed Google about the apps in late May. Google investigated and took action in June, though some of the apps have been live in the Play Store since at least 2019. Cumulatively, according to the French firm, these apps garnered more than 2 million downloads.

There have been a smattering of instances like this one in recent months, such as the malware-laden group of two dozen apps (including calendar, weather, and camera functionality) that Google had to kick out of the Play Store back in February after they were found to request all sorts of potentially nefarious permissions (but not before racking up about 382 million downloads).

One of the apps, as we noted in an earlier post about this incident, was called Weather Forecast and was apparently “caught collecting user data and sending it to a server in China.”



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UK loses out on lucrative EU satellite contracts because Brexit

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Sentinel-1, the first in the family of Copernicus satellites, is used to monitor many aspects of our environment (ESA)

The UK has missed out on a potentially lucrative contract to build satellites for the EU’s Copernicus Earth programme.

The programme is one of two big space projects happening in Europe and aims to map all elements of planet Earth – from atmospheric conditions to ocean and land monitoring.

And now the European Space Agency’s industrial policy committee has given contracts for six new satellites to various firms in Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

In total, the contracts are worth more than 2.5 billion euros and the UK space industry was very much hoping to get a piece of the pie. Especially considering the UK is the fourth largest contributor to the European Space Agency.

Airbus Defence and Space Germany will lead the development with a contract value of €300 million.

‘While UK organisations will play important roles in five out of the six Copernicus High Priority Candidate missions, we are disappointed overall with the contract proposals and abstained on the vote to approve them,’ a spokesperson for the UK Space Agency (UKSA) said.

‘We are committed to working closely with ESA to ensure our investments deliver industrial returns that align with our national ambitions for space.’

The reason for the snub? Part of it is due to Brexit.

Undated handout photo issued by the ESA of representatives from the agency's member states gathered for a ministerial council. The UK Space Agency has committed ??374 million a year to the European space programme. PA Photo. Issue date: Thursday November 28, 2019. The funding will contribute towards international space initiatives to address climate change, deliver high-speed mobile technology and return the first samples from Mars. See PA story SCIENCE ESA. Photo credit should read: Stephane Corvaja/ESA/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Representatives from the ESA’s member states (Stephane Corvaja/ESA)

Although Britain is a member of the ESA and can contribute to the R&D elements of Sentinel (the missions that make up Copernicus) we can’t participate in the manufacturing because that’s funded by EU member states. Which the UK is no longer a part of.

The government is currently trying to negotiate ‘third country’ membership of Copernicus to try and become an industry partner of the missions – but the future is uncertain.

And Copernicus is only one of the EU’s big space projects – the other is called Galileo and is a navigation network of satellites that will rival the USA’s Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system.

The European Space Agency's ExoMars rover is being prepared to leave Airbus in Stevenage. The ExoMars 2020 rover Rosalind Franklin is Europe?s first planetary rover it will search for signs of past or present life on Mars. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 27, 2019. See PA story SCIENCE Mars. Photo credit should read: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

The European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover was built at Airbus in Stevenage. (Aaron Chown/PA Wire)

Speaking to the BBC, the ESA’s director of Earth observation, Josef Aschbacher, said there was no bias in awarding the contracts.

‘We can only evaluate what we get in terms of offers,’ he said.

‘If industry shies away from some work packages or activities located in the UK, there is nothing we can do on our side. We have to take what comes to our table.’

The UK space industry is no slouch, it helped build the ESA’s Solar Orbiter space probe which is tasked with getting ridiculously close to the sun in order to better understand our parent star.



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Binary vs. Source Packages: Which Should You Use?

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Regardless of the package manager you use, there are two broad ways of installing programs on Linux. You either use a pre-built package, or you compile the program yourself. These days, the former usually wins out by default, but there are times when you may want to consider compiling from the source coude.

What Are Binary Packages?

deb package format

Installing programs on Linux is usually quite different from the traditional way of installing software on Windows. Rather than downloading an installer off a vendor’s website, the files come from a repository of programs that is usually tailored to your Linux distribution. You access this repository using a Linux package manager or a Linux app store.

The files that make up the programs in these repositories come in an archive format. This bundles everything into a single file for easy access and distribution. Debian, for example, uses the DEB format to store and distribute programs. These bundles are called binary packages.

You need a special program to extract these files and install them onto your computer, typically your package manager or app store. These tools also perform other useful functions, such as keeping track of what files you have installed, and managing software updates.

Where Do Packages Come From?

All software consists of lines of text known as source code, written in specific programming languages, such as C or C++. You generally can’t just bundle this source code into an archive and call it a package. These lines need to be translated into a language your computer can understand and execute.

This process is called compiling, the end result creating binaries that your computer can run. The difference between packages and software is that software binaries are stored together inside a package, along with other things such as configuration files.

What Is Installing “From Source”?

emacs makefile

Installing a program “from source” means installing a program without using a package manager. You compile the source code and copy the binaries to your computer instead.

Most of the time, you can download a project’s source code from hosting services such as GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket. Larger programs might even host source code on a personal website. The code will usually be zipped up in an archive format (also known as a source package).

A special set of tools help automate the building process. On Linux desktops, this often comes in the form of a command line program called make. Source code written in different languages need specific compilers and commands to change them into binaries. The make program automates this process.

For this automation to work, programs provide make with a makefile that tells it what to do and compile. These days, it’s usually automatically generated by special software such as CMake. This is where you come in. From here, you can specify exactly what features you want compiled into your software.

Building “From Source” Example

For example, the command below generates a configuration file for the Calligra Office Suite using CMake. The file created tells the make program to only compile the Writer component of Calligra.

cmake -DPRODUCTSET=WORDS -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=$HOME/kde/inst5 $HOME/kde/src/calligra

Having done this, all a person has to do is run the make tool to compile and copy the results onto their computer. This is done in the following way:

make
make install

While this is the general pattern for compiling programs, there are many other ways to install source packages. Gentoo Linux, for example, has a built-in way of handling this, making the process much faster and easier. But building binary packages takes a few more steps than just the above commands.

Benefits of Using Binary Packages

If you’re using Linux, someone more than likely pre-compiled the software you have installed. This has become much more common than using source packages. But why?

Binary Versions are Easier to Manage

deb package format

Binary packages contain much more than just compiled installation files. They also store information that makes it easy for your package manager to keep track of all your programs. For example, DEB files (the package format for Debian and Debian derivatives) also contain important information such as what other software the program needs to run, and its current version.

This makes packages much easier to install, as you don’t need to worry about what other files you need to successfully make a program run. Your package manager can read that information from the package itself and downloads all the necessary dependencies automatically.

When installing programs from source, unless you compile the code into a binary package of its own, you will be in charge of managing that software. You will need to keep in mind what other programs you need to make it work, and install them yourself.

Binary Versions Have Improved Stability

The people who maintain repositories for your package manager tend to test binaries for problems and do their best to fix those that appear. This can lead to improved stability of programs, something a person who installed from source might miss out on.

Plus packages usually must adhere to a strict set of rules to help ensure they will run on your system. Both Debian and Ubuntu have a policy manual for example, as do many other Linux distributions.

Some programs also rely on different versions of the same software dependency to run. Package repositories do their best to resolve these conflicts so you don’t have to worry about this.

Benefits of Compiling Source Packages

Installing programs from source isn’t something that everyone needs to do, as it’s generally easier to maintain your PC if you stick with binary packages. Even so, there are still some advantages to using this slightly more involved way of installing programs.

Source Code Offers Latest Software

One disadvantage of making programs more reliable is that it takes time to improve and fix. As a result, this can lead to you using older versions of software. For people who want the latest and greatest, they might even prefer a bit of instability in exchange for it.

While there are Linux operating systems which cater for this need without compiling programs, they do have a few drawbacks. For example, software that doesn’t frequently release set package versions is harder to keep up to date in a repository, than installing from source.

This is because binary packages are usually made from official releases of programs. As such, changes between these versions are usually not taken into account. By compiling your own software from source, you can benefit immediately from these changes.

It’s also possible that your Linux operating system doesn’t have the software you want pre-made for you. If that’s the case, installing it from source is your only option.

You Can Pick and Choose

ffmpeg features

Another benefit to using source packages is that you gain more control over the programs that you install. When installing from a binary repository, you’re restricted in the ways you can customize your packages.

For example, look at FFmpeg, the command-line-based audio and video converter. By default, it comes with a huge number of features, some of which you might never even touch. For instance, JACK audio support is available in FFmpeg, even though this software is usually used in production environments only.

Compiling FFmpeg allows you to remove the things you don’t want from it, leaving it lighter and tailored to your needs. And the same applies to other heavyweight programs.

When resources are scarce, removing features can be a great way of lightening the load. It’s no wonder that Chrome OS, found on many low-end computers, is based off Gentoo Linux. Gentoo, being source-based, compiles a lot of its software, potentially making these systems run much lighter.

Why Not Install With Both?

While you probably won’t want to compile packages on a daily basis, it’s something useful to keep in mind. That said, with new universal package formats available from sites such as the Snap Store and Flathub, you’re less likely to need to build from source to get the latest software.

Read the full article: Binary vs. Source Packages: Which Should You Use?



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