"FYI,” one of the astronauts eventually told ground control, “the station's still flying straight."
Well, Earthlings, prepare to reboot. Tomorrow is "Patch Tuesday:" Microsoft's release of software fixes to correct bugs. And expect more of these fixes as hackers become increasingly aggressive, says Chester Wisniewski with network-security company Sophos.
"We see 20,000 new malicious web URLs every day on the Internet. This is a very wide-scale problem," he says, and not just for PCs. "We’ve seen well over a million [Macs] compromised in the last 12 months. So that could be the beginnings of, unfortunately, the Mac catching up with the PC."
But why do the updates have to be so irritating, with pop-up windows and computer restarts?
Wolfgang Kandek, chief technical officer at computer-security firm Qualys, says there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
"The older the software is and the less time a vendor has invested into this mechanism, the more cumbersome it is. Newer softwares do this in a better way," he says. Kandek says more software will update without users even knowing it.
Yet it’s also worth remembering that the only thing more annoying than a security update is getting hacked.
For those who rely on technology to speak, there are a limited number of voices. "Perfect Paul" sounds robotic, and "Heather" can seem too old for some. Now, a researcher is using sound samples from people who have never been able to speak to create new, personalized voices for them.
The Leap Motion Controller senses and tracks hand motions to allow users to browse the Web, play games and open documents. It represents another step in a goal of computer scientists: to make interactions with machines feel natural and easy, and to take away the barriers between humans and computers.
Kenichi Togawa was working at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan the day the earthquake and tsunami struck. His family is still living in temporary housing. For many people, the stress and isolation brought on by the disaster could pose more persistent hazards than the radiation.
Women who took aspirin at least a couple of times a week for five years or more cut their risk of melanoma by 30 percent. The new study adds to the mounting pile of research suggesting that cheap, common aspirin lowers the risk of many cancers, including colon, breast, esophagus, stomach, prostate, bladder and ovarian cancer.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) uses satellite radio waves to map restaurants on our smartphones, guide cars and monitor aircraft. For those who want to stop others from tracking their movement, GPS signals can be jammed -- albeit illegally. And now, GPS signals can also be "spoofed."
"A GPS spoofer, instead of just trying to jam the signal, tries to mimic [it]," says Todd Humphreys, a professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas, who spoke during a recent session at South by Southwest. "And if you can do this precisely enough, you can fool a receiver into tracking your [spoofed] signals instead of the authentic ones."
Humphreys and some of his students set out to test the possibility. They got an $80,000 pilotless aircraft -- a drone -- and flew it over an otherwise empty football stadium.
"The drone was commanded to hover in place, holding its position," says 23-year-old graduate student Daniel Shepard, who ran the experiment. The team then told the drone's GPS receiver that it wasn't hovering -- it was rising. "In response it plummeted towards the ground in rather dramatic fashion."
The demonstration got the attention of Congress and Homeland Security which unlocked some funding to try to protect the GPS system from spoofing.
To hear more about the possibility of GPS spoofing, click on the audio player above.
This final note today, which, as you'll see, has a distinct 'keeping the workers happy' theme to it.
Next time you're feeling sleepy on the job -- not unusual around this time of year with the whole daylight savings time thing -- go ahead and consider a nap. USA Today points out a 20-minute nap can give a big boost to productivity. And that some companies are in fact setting up rooms just so you can grab a quick snooze.
And about what I said Friday -- no, I'm not leaving. Are you kidding?
Did get the big boss to agree to Beer Cart Friday, though.
— Jon McTaggart (@JonMcTaggart) March 9, 2013
Before Mariano Rivera, relief pitchers were seen as erratic starters past their prime. Rivera couldn’t be a starter, he only had one pitch, but that pitch was a killer fastball that cut at the last moment. And he rarely choked under pressure. By the late 1990s, every general manager wanted his own Mariano Rivera.
“This was your relief ace to nail down a game and if you didn’t have this guy, you couldn’t hold leads," says Brien Jackson, who writes for the blog, It’s About The Money.
Many relief pitchers who came after Rivera were overpaid -- and that created a market bubble. So a crafty general manager like Billy Beane of the Oakland A’s would let a decent closer save a bunch of easy games, "and then he’d flip them to other teams for assets that he thought were more valuable,” explains Jackson.
Around 2005 -- the bubble burst.
“Teams have finally started to realize that closers are actually made, not born, and you can find dominant relievers from the scrap heap," says Matt Meyers is an editor for ESPN.com.
Mid-level closers may not get the huge contracts anymore, but they’ve earned more respect since Rivera took the mound.