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  1. Researchers from Monash University and the CSIRO have set a record for carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) using technology that resembles a sponge filled with tiny magnets. Using a Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) nanocomposite that can be regenerated with remarkable speed and low energy cost, researchers have developed sponge-like technology that can capture carbon dioxide from a number of sources, even directly from air. The magnetic sponge is used to remove carbon dioxide using the same techniques as induction cooktops using one-third of the energy than any other reported method. Associate Professor Matthew Hill (CSIRO and Department of Chemical Engineering, Monash University) and Dr. Muhammad Munir Sadiq (Department of Chemical Engineering, Monash University) led this research. In the study, published in Cell Reports Physical Science, researchers designed a unique adsorbent material called M-74 [email protected] that delivered a record low energy cost of just 1.29 MJ kg-1CO2 , 45 per cent below commercially deployed materials, and the best CCS efficiency recorded. MOFs are a class of compounds consisting of metal ions that form a crystalline material with the largest surface area of any material known. In fact, MOFs are so porous that they can fit the entire surface of a football field in a teaspoon. This technology makes it possible to store, separate, release or protect valuable commodities, enabling companies to develop high value products. "Global concerns on the rising level of greenhouse gas emissions and the associated environmental impact has led to renewed calls for emissions reduction and the development of green and renewable alternative energy sources," Associate Professor Hill said. "However, existing commercial carbon capture technologies use amines like monoethanolamine, which is highly corrosive, energy intensive and captures a limited amount of carbon from the atmosphere. "Our research shows the lowest reported regeneration energy calculated for any solid porous adsorbent, including monoethanolamine, piperazine and other amines. This makes it a cheap method that can be paired with renewable solar energy to capture excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. "Essentially, we can capture CO2 from anywhere. Our current focus is for capture directly from the air in what are known as negative emissions technologies." For MOFs to be used in CCS applications, it is essential to have materials that can be easily fabricated with good stability and performance. The stability of M-74 [email protected] was evaluated by estimating the amount of CO2 and H2O captured and released via the researchers' magnetic induction swing adsorption (MISA) process over 20 consecutive cycles. The regeneration energy calculated for M-74 [email protected] is the lowest reported for any solid porous adsorbent. At magnetic fields of 14 and 15 mT, the regeneration energy calculated for M-74 CPT was 1.29 and 1.44 MJ kg CO2-1. Source
  2. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A partial U.S. government shutdown over President Donald Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border entered its 22nd day on Saturday, making it the longest shuttering of federal agencies in U.S. history, with no end in sight. PHOTO: A sign the reads "Federal employees all day happy hour" is displayed at a local bar as the partial U.S. government shutdown enters its third week in Washington, U.S., January 11, 2019. Trump, holed up in the White House with Congress adjourned for the weekend, warned of a much lengthier impasse and blamed the Democrats. “We will be out for a long time unless the Democrats come back from their ‘vacations’ and get back to work,” he tweeted. Democrats say Trump shut the government in a “temper tantrum” by refusing to sign bipartisan funding legislation last year that did not include money for his wall. The closure, which began on Dec. 22, broke a decades-old record by a 1995-1996 shutdown under former President Bill Clinton that lasted 21 days. Federal workers affected missed their first paychecks on Friday, heightening concerns about mounting financial pressures on employees, including air traffic controllers and airport security officials who continue to work without pay. Roughly 800,000 federal workers did not receive paychecks that would have gone out on Friday. Some have resorted to selling their possessions or posting appeals on online fundraising sites to help pay their bills. Miami International Airport said it will close one of its terminals early over the next several days due to a possible shortage of security screeners, who have been calling in sick at twice the normal rate. A union that represents thousands of air traffic controllers sued the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday, saying it had violated federal wage law by failing to pay workers. It is at least the third lawsuit filed by unions on behalf of unpaid workers. The head of the U.S. Secret Service, which is responsible for protecting Trump, has warned employees that financial stress can lead to depression and anxiety. “Keep an eye out for warning signs of trouble,” Director R.D. “Tex” Alles wrote in a memo seen by Reuters. The Transportation Security Administration, responsible for airport security screening, said its rate of unscheduled absences rose to 5.6 percent on Saturday from 3.3 percent a year ago but that security standards have not been compromised. The Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees air traffic controllers, said on Saturday it had seen no unusual rates of sick leave among its air traffic controllers and no disruptions to air traffic control operations. To support its workforce, TSA said it was processing pay for employees who worked on the first day of the shutdown and announced $500 bonuses for uniformed screening officers. Trump is considering a possible national emergency declaration that would end the shutdown and allow him to obtain his wall funding by circumventing Congress. But on Friday, he said he would not take such a step “right now”. “Democrats should come back to Washington and work to end the Shutdown, while at the same time ending the horrible humanitarian crisis at our Southern Border. I am in the White House waiting for you!” he tweeted. Trump also urged his 57.2 million Twitter followers to contact Democratic lawmakers and “Tell them to get it done!” Democrats, who call a wall an ineffective, outdated answer to a complex problem, have passed several bills in the House of Representatives to reopen the government without funding for Trump’s barrier. But the legislation has been ignored by the Republican-controlled Senate. Trump originally pledged Mexico would pay for the wall, which he says is needed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs. But Mexico has refused. U.S. government departments including the Treasury, Energy, Commerce and State departments, shut down when funding lapsed on Dec. 22. Funding for other portions of the government, including the Department of Defense and Congress, was approved, allowing them to continue regular operations. Trump has repeatedly described the situation at the Mexico border as a “humanitarian crisis” as speculation has increased this week that he would circumvent Congress to begin building his signature wall - a move that would be sure to draw a court challenge from Democrats who say the barrier would be barbaric and ineffective. Instead, the president urged lawmakers to provide him the $5.7 billion he is seeking for border security. A national emergency would allow Trump to divert money from other projects to pay for the wall, which was a central promise of his 2016 campaign. That, in turn, could prompt him to sign bills that restore funding to agencies that have been affected by the shutdown. Source
  3. Security researchers discovered a new form of malware that specifically targeted users of a French telecom giant. One of the more disturbing features of this malware is its capability to identify when someone was likely viewing porn and record their screen. Researchers at IT security company ESET spotted the malware, which they coined Varenyky, in May of this year, and in July, operators of the malware launched their first sextortion scam. The malware targets customers of Orange S.A., a French internet service provider, and filters out non-French users based on the location of someone’s computer. According to the researchers, the malware is sent in the form of an email with a fake Microsoft Word attachment under the guise of a €491.27 bill. The document is actually malware, and opening it infects the user’s computer. The researchers pointed out that the hackers routinely tweaked and added commands to the malware, and that a recent version deployed a hidden desktop on someone’s computer that was able to navigate menus, read text, take screenshots, click on the screen, adjust windows, and even record the screen’s activity. One feature the researchers spotted in one version of the malware was that it would search for porn-related words in French in a user’s window and subsequently record the screen and upload it the command and control server, which is a computer that can send instructions to a device infected with malware. The researchers noted, though, that while the malware is capable of recording someone’s screen while they watch porn, they didn’t find any evidence indicating that the hackers exploited these recordings beyond collecting them. That being said, in July, the hackers did deploy a sextortion scam—in which someone was blackmailed through sexual material. The sextortion scam is also sent in the form of an email and informs the recipient that a virus-infected their computer when they were watching porn, and that the hackers have gained access to their computer. The scammer also claims that they have a video of both the porn the victim was watching as well as a recording from their webcam of “you having… fun.” The scammer says that if they don’t pay them €750 in bitcoin within 72 hours, they’ll send the video to family, coworkers, and post it on social media. “This offer is non-negotiable, do not waste my time and yours, think about the consequences of your actions,” it states in the email sign-off. The researchers said that one bot can send up to 1,500 emails in an hour, and as of August 8, the bitcoin address included in the sextortion email had received four payments. Sextortion campaigns and phishing attacks that can give a hacker access to your desktop are hardly unique forms of online exploitation, but this newly spotted malware indicates that they aren’t going anywhere and that people are still easily duped by inarguably unsettling threats. The researchers also note that the operators of this malware tweaked it a lot over the course of two months, indicating that they “are inclined to experiment with new features that could bring a better monetization of their work.” In this case, the best way to scare French internet users into paying a gross grifter in return for peace of mind. Source
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