News & Updates

Salt water, a sheet of molybdenum disulfide, and a pore is all you need to produce current. (credit: Mohammad Heiranian, U of Illinois )

It’s possible to generate energy using nothing but the difference between fresh and salt water. When fresh and salt water are separated by a membrane that blocks the passage of certain ions, there is a force that drives the freshwater into the salt water to even out the salt concentration. That force can be harvested to produce energy, an approach termed “osmotic power.”

But the generation of osmotic power is highly dependent on how quickly ions can cross the membrane—the thicker (and more robust) the membrane, the slower the ions will flow. Theoretically, the most efficient osmotic power generation would come from an atomically thin membrane layer. But can this theoretical system be achieved here in reality?

Recently, scientists answered that question using atomically thin membranes composed of molybdenum-disulfide (MoS2). In the paper that resulted, they describe a two-dimensional MoS2 membrane containing a single nanopore, which was used to separate reservoirs containing two solutions with different concentrations of salt in order to generate osmotic power.

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(credit: Square Enix)

The Apple Watch will soon get its first true RPG, developed by Final Fantasy creator Square Enix. The company released a teaser website that simply shows what is presumably the name of the game—Cosmos Rings.

Aside from some psychedelic blue-and-purple artwork, the site simply shows a wrist with an Apple Watch on it and details that the game will indeed be an RPG available for the Apple Watch through the Watch App Store. While there’s no detail of actual gameplay, the Japanese website Gamer appears to have some screenshots of what the game may look like on the device. However, there’s no way to know how credible those screenshots are, and Square Enix could still be finalizing Cosmos Rings, so the actual look and feel of the game could change significantly. Also noticeably absent is any mention of Android Wear or other smartwatches—the game appears to be exclusively for the Apple Watch.

Apple’s smartwatch isn’t necessarily built to support an intense RPG, though. Its screen is quite small and aside from tapping and maybe some gestures, controlling actions in the game might be difficult. There’s also battery life to consider—currently the Apple Watch only lasts a full day on a single charge, so putting the system under stress from this game will only make the battery run out faster.

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For many developers, Stack Overflow has become the go-to place on the Internet for getting programming questions answered. The site’s community-based question-and-answer model, combined with extensive gamification, has made it not just an essential resource for programmers of all kinds, but one of the most visited sites on the Internet. Today, the company announced a new product that aims to tackle another long-standing developer bugbear: documentation.

With this new product, named Documentation, Stack Overflow is hoping to bring the same influences that made Stack Overflow a success to the world of creating developer documentation that is rich with sample code to meet the needs of developers. As with the Q&A site, the intent is to develop a community that is rewarded for its contributions through upvotes and badges, giving a way to thank people for adding value and to offer recognition to those who consistently improve the content.

The first focus of Documentation is the development of code samples. Stack Overflow has worked with a handful of companies including PayPal, Dropbox, and Twitch in a closed beta. These companies all offer APIs that are already documented. The value that Documentation adds is the ability to extend those references describing the names of functions and the meanings of the parameters to include much richer content showing how to use those APIs in ways that the user community finds useful. Useful sample code is often missing from API documentation, and even when it exists, it’s often narrowly tailored to do the bare minimum to demonstrate how a particular API or APIs are used. The hope with Documentation is to go far beyond this, creating a system where developers can offer a much wider range of examples.

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Under Google, Motorola was one of our favorite OEMs. The company delivered bang-for-your-buck hardware, stock Android with some actually good additions, and speedy updates. Motorola couldn’t hold Google’s interest for very long, though, and in 2014, Google sold Motorola to Lenovo.

When Google took over Motorola, the company mentioned it would have to clear “12 to 18 months of product pipeline” before Google’s changes would take effect. Assuming the Lenovo had the same 12 to 18 months of pipeline after the October 2014 takeover, the Moto Z and Moto Z Force mark the first “Lenovorola” flagship.

And boy, are things different. Along with the new name (RIP, Moto X) comes a huge jump in price: Motorola’s flagship has gone from $400 in 2015 to $720 (for the Z Force) in 2016. That’s an 80-percent increase. Moto Maker—Motorola’s design service that let you customize the outside of the device—is dead, at least for the flagship. Motorola’s love of software updates seems to have gone out the window, too. Major updates now take several months instead of several weeks, and a Motorola rep told us the company won’t be providing security updates for the Moto Z.

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(credit: Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

40 years after the first VHS video cassette recorder rolled off the production line, the last known company making the devices is ceasing production. According to Japanese newspaper Nikkei, Funai Electric, a Japanese consumer electronics company, will give up on the format by the end of the July after 30 years of production.

Declining sales, plus a difficulty in obtaining the necessary parts, prompted Funai Electric to cease production. While the Funai brand might not be well-known in the west, the company sold VCRs under the more familiar Sanyo brand in China and North America.

Funai Electric began production of VCRs in 1983 following the unsuccessful launch of its own CVC format in 1980. While CVC had its strengths—its quarter-inch tape made its machines smaller and lighter than VHS machines, which used half-inch tape—VHS and Betamax were strong competitors.

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Firefox will begin retiring Adobe Flash on August 2 with the release of Firefox 48. In 2017, probably with Firefox 53, Flash plug-ins will require the user to actively click-to-play.

In Firefox 48, Mozilla will enable a new Firefox plug-in blocklist by default. Initially the blocklist will be small, mostly containing URLs of Flash SWF files that have been identified by Mozilla as supercookies (i.e. cookies that are very hard to shake off) or fingerprinting files (i.e. they scan your system and create a unique fingerprint, again usually for tracking purposes).

The Github repo explains the criteria for adding new SWFs to the blocklist:

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We have heard a lot about privacy concerns surrounding Windows 10 and accusations on Microsoft of collecting too much data about users without their consent.

Now, the French data protection authority has ordered Microsoft to stop it.

France’s National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) issued a formal notice on Wednesday, asking Microsoft to “stop collecting excessive data” as well as “


The federal authorities have finally arrested the alleged mastermind behind the world’s largest and most notorious BitTorrent distribution site KickassTorrents (KAT), the US Justice Department announced on Wednesday.

After The Pirate Bay had suffered copyright infringement hardship, KickassTorrents (KAT) became the biggest and most-used pirate site on the Internet, attracting millions of


Recently, Reuters reported that the FBI sent an urgent confidential ‘Flash’ message to businesses and organizations to warn them about ransomware.

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It is that dangerous. This is a new version of the ransom note, a form of malware that interferes with access to user files and data by encrypting it. Those running the malware infection, then blackmail the user into paying a ransom to restore the data. Lately, two new versions of ransomware have been reported: Cryptolocker and Locky. Apart from the FBI, security experts send out alerts on new forms of ransomware as cyber criminals around the world attack more and more people and organizations.

Ransomware such as Cryptolocker and Locky are not new; they have been around for the last few years. Typically, victims get attacked with ransomware when they unknowingly click on a malicious link or advertisement or open an infected file sent to them as an email attachment.  

CryptoLocker Ransomware

When this happens to an organization that has sensitive documents, like a healthcare institution that has patient records, or a bank or other financial institution that has financial records, things can really get out of hand. In February this year, two German hospitals were infected by ransomware, as was a medical center in Los Angeles. The US institution had to part with $17,000 to have their patient files restored.

Staying safe

When it comes to malware, prevention is always better than healing the infection. Apart from educating users not to open suspicious attachments or links, there are many solutions which can help you to prevent such incidents.

“Filtering out infected emails before they reach the user’s inbox and blocking malicious links are the most efficient methods of preventing malware infections,” explains Ronny Wolf, GFI Software’s security expert.

Different products are used to meet specific needs. Email is secured with GFI MailEssentials, which blocks emails containing malware like Locky and also enables effective spam filtering. Network protection is also provided with the use of GFI WebMonitor, another product that allows you to monitor and control your web activity through monitoring downloads and managing internet usage throughout the company.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – ransomware)

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Source: Security affairs