Hexbyte – Glen Cove – News Winners of the 2019 Food Photographer of the Year Awards -Hexbyte Glen Cove News

Hexbyte – Glen Cove – News Winners of the 2019 Food Photographer of the Year Awards -Hexbyte Glen Cove News

Hexbyte – Glen Cove – News

Since 2011, the Food Photographer of the Year Awards has been celebrating the best food-related imagery from both professional and non-professional photographers around the world. Going beyond sumptuous food photography, the categories creatively explore food’s cultural and social role in society. This year’s winning shot was awarded to Chinese photographer Jianhui Liao, whose photo of a village eating noodles in China’s Shexian province bested the 9000 other pre-selected submissions. Sponsored by the apple brand Pink Lady, the winning images are to be displayed during a five-day public exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. More of winning shots below.

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1st Place, Bring Home the Harvest © Kazi Mushfiq, Bangladesh

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1st Place, Champagne Taittinger Wedding Food Photographer © Tiree Dawson, United Kingdom

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1st Place, Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year – People © Mick Rock, United Kingdom

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1st Place, Food Bloggers © Aimee Twigger, United Kingdom

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1st Place, Food for Celebration © Jianhui Liao, China

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1st Place, Food for Sale © Elise Humphrey, United Kingdom

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1st Place, Food for the Family © Sanghamitra Sarkar, India

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1st Place, Food in the Field © Andrew Newey, United Kingdom

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1st Place, Food Stylist Award © Kim Morphew, United Kingdom

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1st Place, Fujifilm Award for Innovation © Michael Hedge, United Kingdom

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1st Place, InterContinental Food at the Table © Giles Christopher, United Kingdom

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1st Place, Marks & Spencer Food Portraiture © Nick Millward, United Kingdom

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1st Place, On the Phone © Matt Wilson, Chile

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1st Place, Street Food © Debdatta Chakraborty, India

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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired This Jellyfish Robot Is Much More Than Just a Good Swimmer

Hexbyte Tech News Wired This Jellyfish Robot Is Much More Than Just a Good Swimmer

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired

The robot is modeled on the larval form of jellyfish.

David Wrobel/Getty Images

You’d be hard-pressed to find more opposite opposites than jellyfish and robots. Jellyfish pump through the oceans with effortless grace, while robots struggle to not fall on their faces—and that’s when they’re not catching on fire.

Now, though, those two worlds are merging, with a tiny, exceedingly simple robot modeled after larval jellyfish that can scoot around untethered like the real thing. At less than a quarter inch across, the magnetically activated robot mimics the entrancing locomotion of a jellyfish and uses the resulting disruption of water flow to manipulate objects, or to burrow to camouflage itself.

Matt Simon covers cannabis, robots, and climate science for WIRED.

The jellyfish robot has eight arms, consisting of a soft base with magnetic microparticles embedded, and tips made of non-magnetic “passive” polymers.

Researchers place the robot in a tank surrounded by electromagnetic coils. By manipulating the magnetic field, they can control the magnetic bits of the robot’s arms. “If you apply a slow magnetic field in an upward direction, the arms will bend up slowly,” says Metin Sitti, director of the Physical Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, and coauthor of a new paper describing the robot in Nature Communications. “And then we do a very fast sharp downward magnetic signal that bends the arms very fast downwards.” The tips of the arms then also bend, mimicking the gelatinous movements of an eight-armed larval jellyfish. (Adults grow the stinging tentacles we know so well.)

It’s about as simple as robot locomotion gets. But that simplicity creates surprising versatility in the robot’s movements, or “modes,” as the researchers are calling them.

Take a look at the GIF above. Mode A mimics most closely the way a larval jellyfish moves, but the researchers can tweak the magnetic field to create new movements. Mode B1, for instance, uses more forceful contractions for stronger bursts. B2 allows for less recovery time before the next contraction. B3 holds the arms down longer following a contraction, generating a more streamlined glide. And mode C opts for weakened bursts. Manipulating the magnetic field also allows the researchers to steer the robot in 3D space.

The robot can selectively transport beads of different sizes.

That versatility doesn’t stop at locomotion. By mimicking the way a larval jellyfish eats, the robot can capture objects. When a jellyfish swims, its contractions force water under its bell, and that water carries microorganisms. This robot does the same, only with beads spread at the bottom of the tank. When it lifts off from the ground, the water flow traps beads under the bell and drags them upward as the robot heads to the surface. Meaning that even though this robot doesn’t have hands, it can still manipulate objects.

It can also burrow into the beads for camouflage.

The robot can also burrow into the beads, using its arms to sink and push its way into the bottom layer of the tank. And if burrowing isn’t your thing, you can add a layer of dye at the bottom of the tank—a separate color on each side of the robot—and the mechanical jelly’s motion will rapidly mix the two and drag them up the water column. This shows that, again, a robot need not have hands to be able to manipulate materials.

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The WIRED Guide to Robots

So from pretty much the simplest kind of robot you can imagine, researchers can tease out a vast array of uses. It’s a significant departure from the usual ways robots manipulate objects, trading in hand-like graspers for a system that strategically pushes around water. “That’s the amazing thing about very simple soft body systems,” says Sitti, “that they can create many complex deformations that induce many diverse behaviors.”

There is, of course, the limiting factor of magnetic energy. Before robots like this can explore the real world, researchers will have to figure out how to power and actuate them some other way, with hydraulic systems perhaps. And the machines will have to sense their world somehow, which will add extra complexity and bulk.

“This is a really clever design,” says Stanford engineer John Dabiri, who studies jellyfish locomotion. “It reflects a growing interest in our field to go beyond robots that merely mimic animals, and to instead explore design ideas that nature hasn’t yet stumbled upon.”

Bonus: robots like this are much less likely to catch on fire if they’re underwater.


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Hexbyte  Tech News  Wired The Simple Way Apple and Google Let Domestic Abusers Stalk Victims

Hexbyte Tech News Wired The Simple Way Apple and Google Let Domestic Abusers Stalk Victims

Hexbyte Tech News Wired

One morning a couple of weeks ago, I handed my iPhone to my wife and asked her to help with a privacy experiment. She would use my handset to track my location for the next few days, and with only the software I already had installed. Like a lot of couples, my wife and I know each other’s phone PINs. So I left her with the device as I walked into our bathroom to take a shower, simulating an opportunity that I figured would present itself daily to snooping spouses.

I’d barely turned on the water before she handed the phone back to me. A few seconds had passed, and she had already configured it to track my location, with no notification that it was now telling her my every move.

I’d embarked on this strange exercise with the blessing of a group of researchers who focus on the scourge of “stalkerware,” a class of spyware distinguished by the fact that it’s typically installed on a target device by someone with both physical access to the phone and an intimate relationship with its owner. Often explicitly marketed as a way to catch a cheating husband or wife in the act, these programs have become a tool of domestic abusers and angry exes—a breed of hacker who often possesses practically zero technical skills but does have plenty of opportunity for hands-on tampering with a victim’s handset. Perpetrators can install these apps, also sometimes known as spouseware, to monitor where their targets go, who they communicate with, what they say, and virtually every other part of their life the phone touches.

After years of neglect, the antivirus industry has finally begun to recognize stalkerware’s danger and flag the apps as malicious, a development that’s long overdue given that a quarter of women in the US and one in nine men experience some form of physical abuse or stalking by an intimate partner.

But antivirus alone may not be enough, one group of researchers at Cornell Tech and NYU warned me. Abusive phone-snooping, they point out, doesn’t necessarily require software explicitly built for that purpose. Mainstream app stores are well-stocked with what those researchers call dual-use applications. These are apps that advertise features for a legitimate purpose—such as letting families consensually track one another for convenience or safety, or for locating stolen and lost devices—but can easily be abused by stalkers who install them without their target’s knowledge, or to secretly change the configuration of those apps to share the victim’s location or data.

The researchers documented the prevalence of those tracking apps in a study last year, based in part on their work helping abuse victims in partnership with the New York City Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence. “When we’re onsite and looking at these cases, it’s a lot of what we’re seeing,” said Cornell researcher Diane Freed.

With a few seconds of physical access to a phone, even apps as common as Google Maps and Apple’s Find My Friends can be tweaked to persistently share a user’s location with another contact while offering the phone’s owner no notification or warning, the researchers told me. “It’s not the presence of some app on your device that’s disconcerting, it’s that it might be configured in some way that you weren’t aware of and didn’t agree to,” said Sam Havron, another Cornell researcher.

An Experiment

It was with that idea in mind that I handed my iPhone to my wife that morning, and again every morning over the following few days. Without showing me what she was doing, she would change some configurations on common apps I already had installed on the phone and hand it back to me. Then I would go about my life and watch my phone for any signs that I was being tracked.

Before writing about this, I consulted with the same NYU and Cornell Tech researchers to ask if they thought it would be ethical to share these results, or if I would be helping abusers more than victims. They discussed it and told me to go ahead, noting that guides for abusers who want to secretly track their partner’s phone are already all too easy to find online. “Our conclusion is that the pros outweigh the cons,” Havron wrote in an email.

So I went forward with my experiment. Here’s what I found.

Day One, Glympse: After my wife handed my phone back to me and I left for work that first day, I pulled out my phone on the subway to send her some pictures of our toddler. I immediately saw that she had sent herself a text message from my phone that read “Here is a Glympse of my location,” with a link to Glympse.com. That link-texting is the default method of sharing your location with the app Glympse, a popular location-sharing app that I keep on my phone (although I’ve rarely used it since Google Maps began offering the same feature). My wife could have easily deleted this text message, but I figured she was still warming up. I left the app running nonetheless, but it was so power-hungry that by that afternoon it sent me a notification that it was disabling itself to preserve the remaining 20 percent of my battery.

Meanwhile, my wife found that Glympse’s location tracking was so low-resolution, it revealed only that I was at home and then at the office, before devouring my battery and turning itself off. Even if battery life was no issue, she would have had to access my phone again and reactivate location sharing after 12 hours, the maximum amount of time Glympse allows.

Day Two, Google Maps: After the same morning routine of handing my phone over to my wife, I got on a bike and headed to a hacker conference a few neighborhoods away in Brooklyn. As I rode, my wife sent me periodic text messages guessing at my destination, until she figured out it was the conference—despite my not having mentioned it. It was only that evening, while I was taking our kid to a playground and my phone was losing power, that I went hunting through various app settings to preserve my remaining battery and found that she’d turned on Google Maps location sharing. That entire day, I had seen no other sign that location sharing had been turned on in any app.

Days Three and Four, Apple Find My Friends: My wife’s tracking continued, but now without any noticeable drain on my battery or any other hints of my phone’s betrayal. I did not leave my apartment for the entire third day, perhaps an indictment of my life’s excitement level. But on the morning of the fourth day, my wife watched me head into Manhattan on the subway for a two-hour meeting at NYU’s journalism school—”or maybe having an affair!” as she described it later, a little too gleefully. I correctly guessed by process of elimination and then confirmed by looking at my phone’s settings that she had turned on location sharing via Apple’s Find My Friends app, a tool included by default in iOS for sharing your location with friends and family. Find My Friends seemed to offer me no warning whatsoever that its settings had been changed to beacon my location to her in real-time.

Weak Safeguards

Of course, it’s simple to detect that someone is tracking you via one of these apps if you’re suspicious enough to check in the first place. But if I hadn’t knowingly been part of an experiment, I could easily have gone weeks or months without ever thinking to look at the location-sharing settings in Google Maps or Find My Friends. (See the bottom of this story for tips on how to check these settings yourself.)

After my experiment was over, I reached out to Glympse, Apple, and Google. Glympse didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. As for Apple and Google, each company told me about measures it had taken to warn unwitting location sharers. Google wrote in a statement that it had consulted with the domestic violence group Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse about how to handle location sharing. As a result, it does start sending users email notifications within 24 hours of their location sharing being turned on, and “frequently thereafter”—though clearly not frequent enough for me to have seen those notifications during the day my wife had used Google Maps to track me.

“The traditional threat model is stranger danger. This kind of attack just hasn’t been on their radar.”

Damon McCoy, NYU

Apple, meanwhile, explained that when a new contact is added in Find My Friends, the location sharer sees a notification in their Messages history with that contact that can’t be deleted. But in my wife’s case, I had already added her as a contact in Find My Friends at some point in the past, but later turned off location sharing altogether in the app, since that seemed like the most straightforward on-off switch. When my wife flipped that switch back on during the experiment, it didn’t generate a notification, allowing her to start snooping again with no warning.

Even worse, when my colleague Lily Hay Newman and I began testing Apple’s notifications by adding and deleting each other from Find My Friends, we found a method that seemed to allow anyone to add themselves as a contact in Find My Friends without any notification to the phone’s owner, circumventing Apple’s safeguard. I won’t reveal details here to avoid enabling stealthier stalking. Apple confirmed to me that it was aware of the issue but didn’t acknowledge that it represented a problem and didn’t respond to my question as to whether or how it intends to fix it.

Apple did tell me that in the new version of Find My Friends in iOS 13, which will now be known as Find My, the app will offer one more safety feature: When a user sets up a “geofence”—an option that sends an alert when a person they’re tracking enters or leaves a certain place—the location sharer will now get the same undeletable notification in Messages. Otherwise, the company says, the new location-sharing app’s safeguards will function much like the old one.

The Threat Model Is Inside the House

When I told the Cornell Tech and NYU researchers about the results of my tests and the companies’ responses, they argued that none of them have sufficiently considered this dead-simple way to abuse their apps. “Yes, companies are starting to think about this, but it’s tricky and there are edge cases,” said NYU researcher Damon McCoy, arguing that the companies’ current “bandaid” solutions aren’t enough. “They’ve built products that aren’t resilient to this kind of attacker.”

The researchers point out that Glympse, Google, and Apple could all do more to notify or remind users that they’re sharing their locations. An immediate push notification or email that warns the user that their location is being shared might be useless, since the abuser who still had access to the device would be able to quickly delete it. But if that warning came several hours later—still sooner than Google sends one—and then was periodically repeated with a certain frequency, it could be far more effective. “You want the prompt to come at some time after the abuser’s window of opportunity,” Cornell’s Havron said.

But the researchers were adamant that the issue of someone with physical access to a device abusing legitimate software goes well beyond any single company, or even just location sharing. Tech firms, they argue, need to take into account that the user’s biggest privacy threat may have access to the phone at times, may know its PIN, may even be sleeping on the other side of the bed—and companies should design their systems accordingly.

“The traditional threat model is stranger danger. This kind of attack just hasn’t been on their radar,” McCoy says. “This is not just a Google problem or an Apple problem. This is endemic to computer security in general.”

How to Check Location Sharing in Common Apps

  • In Find My Friends: Open the app. Tap Me and switch off Share My Location or slide left on a person’s name to remove them.
  • In Google Maps: Once you’re in the app, tap the menu icon, then Location Sharing, then the contact you’re sharing your location with, and switch off Share Your Location.
  • In Glympse: Once you’re in the app, tap the triangle icon in the top right of the screen and then Stop Sharing.

Need help? You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or visit their website at thehotline.org.


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Hexbyte  News  Computers Senate passes cybersecurity bill to decrease grid digitization, move toward manual control

Hexbyte News Computers Senate passes cybersecurity bill to decrease grid digitization, move toward manual control

Hexbyte News Computers

Dive Brief:

  • The U.S. Senate on June 27 passed a bipartisan cybersecurity bill that will study ways to replace automated systems with low-tech redundancies to protect the country’s electric grid from hackers.
  • The Securing Energy Infrastructure Act (SEIA) establishes a two-year pilot program to identify new classes of security vulnerabilities and to research and test solutions, including “analog and nondigital control systems.” The U.S. Department of Energy would be required to report back to Congress on its findings.
  • The SEIA legislation was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. A companion bill has been introduced by bipartisan sponsors in the House of Representatives.

Dive Insight:

The increase in distributed energy resources can serve load more efficiently, but also offers potential attackers more potential entry points.

“Our connectivity is a strength that, if left unprotected, can be exploited as a weakness,” Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who sponsored the bill with Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said in a statement. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho cosponsored the bill.

The House measure is being introduced by Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., and John Carter, R-Texas.

A 2015 cyberattack in Ukraine that led to a blackout for 250,000 people “inspired in part” the legislation, according to King’s statement. Manual controls on Ukraine’s system prevented the attack from having a larger impact.

“The attack could have been worse if not for the fact that Ukraine relies on manual technology to operate its grid,” the statement read. The bill “seeks to build on this concept by studying ways to strategically use ‘retro’ technology to isolate the grid’s most important control systems,” including manual procedures controlled by human operators. 

The bill was previously introduced in the 114th Congress and received a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 2016.

The measure establishes a pilot program within the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Laboratories, and requires a working group to evaluate the technology solutions it proposes. The working group would also develop a national cyber-informed strategy “to isolate the energy grid from attacks,” according to King’s statement.

The pilot projects will consider “analog and nondigital control systems,” purpose-built control systems and physical controls, according to the bill text.

The working group would include federal agencies, energy industry representatives, a state or regional energy agency, the National Laboratories and other groups.

Recent news that the United States government has been working to insert malicious code into Russia’s electric grid has raised the specter of a cyberwar between the two nations. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterje told lawmakers last month that critical infrastructure in the U.S., including the electric grid, is “increasingly under attack by foreign adversaries.”

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