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Build Great Mapping Apps with the ArcGIS Runtime SDK for .NET

Watch a free online seminar on February 12 to learn how to integrate rich ArcGIS maps and geospatial capabilities into custom apps for Windows desktops and mobile devices.

The winds of change

So I’ve accepted a position as a GIS Analyst, starting next month….

I’ve decided to wind down the site until I’ve decided where I’m going with the site.

Thanks for your loyal visits and keeping the site alive; it started off more as a playground for me than anything else and now we’re doing a few thousand hits every month.

When I come back with a new site, it will be completely different, so just hang in there.



REDLANDS: Giant map of Africa coming to library

Esri and the University of Redlands help bring the world's largest map of Africa to the A.K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands.

EMU researcher awarded $1.5 million grant to help teachers integrate GIS applications

Teachers and students in Michigan will have a unique opportunity to learn GIS and technology mapping and analysis applications designed to strengthen abilities in STEM.

GIS Mapping Technology Will Help You Navigate Your Career!

GIS is a tool used across almost every field bringing data analysis, efficiency, and cost-saving mechanisms to the government.

Esri Malaysia on the hunt for smart mapping talent

Esri Malaysia announced a nationwide competition called Esri Young Scholar Award to support local smart mapping talent.

Esri’s Data Appliance for ArcGIS Now on GSA Schedule

Data Appliance for ArcGIS is now available on the General Services Administration (GSA) schedule.

2015/02/04 Service Academy CyberStakes Live: A Crucible of Competition for Future Cyber Leaders

More than 40 Cadets and Midshipmen from all three Service academies and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy participated in the second annual DARPA Service Academy CyberStakes Live event this past weekend. Held at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Pittsburgh, the decathlon-style computer security competition pitted teams from each school head to head over three days. DARPA’s CyberStakes effort seeks to support the Defense Department’s goal to integrate 6,000 cybersecurity experts into combat commands by 2016.

Pittsburgh this weekend offered a look into the future of cybersecurity, with students from each of the nation’s Service academies scrambling to protect their computer systems, find adversaries’ vulnerabilities and exploit them in the second annual CyberStakes Live competition, sponsored by DARPA. More than 40 students participated in this year’s event, which tested teams’ and individuals’ abilities in numerous core cybersecurity skills and culminated in two exciting Capture the Flag (CTF) contests modeled after the global tournaments that attract many of the world’s top cybersecurity experts.

Towards A Tiny Pick And Place Head

One of the projects that has been on [Peter Jansen]’s build list for a long time – besides a fully functioning tricorder, of course – is a pick and place machine. It’s a project born out of necessity; each tricorder takes four days to assemble, and assembling the motherboard takes eight hours with a soldering iron and hot air gun. The pick and place machine isn’t complete yet, but one vital component – the vacuum head for picking up components – is getting there with the help of some odd components.

A few months ago, [Peter] saw a post on Hackaday about repurposing a tiny piezo micro blower for use as an extremely small vacuum pen. The original build was extremely simple – just a few pieces of foam board and a power supply, but the potential was there. A tiny electric air pump that’s able to pick up large chips and modules along with tiny resistors without having to run a hose through the mechanics of a CNC gantry is a godsend.

[Peter] got his hands on one of these micro blowers and started work on a proper tool head for a pick and place machine. A port on the micro blower was covered so it would suck instead of blow, the vacuum port was threaded through a stepper motor with a hollow shaft, and a fine tip was attached to the end.

What can this vacuum head pick up? 0604 size resistors aren’t a problem, but larger modules are simply too heavy. It looks like this micro blower would only be able to pick up small components. There are other options, though: [Grant Trebbin] has had some luck with a larger pump from Sparkfun, but this requires a vacuum line to run through a CNC gantry. There’s still some work to do before a small vacuum head shows up on the tool head of a pick and place machine, but given how long it takes [Peter] to put together a single tricorder, it’s well worth investing the time to do this right.

Filed under: cnc hacks, parts

APT developers not as smart as they’re made out to be

Criminal hackers aren't as smart as those portrayed in the movies and on TV, according to a new report from Sophos Ltd. -- but those behind advanced persistent threats are even dumber.

To measure hackers intelligence, SophosLabs' principal researcher Gabor Szappanos picked a particular exploit that went after a vulnerability in Microsoft Office. The exploit only targeted a specific version of Microsoft Office, but could have been modified to infect other versions, as well.

Then he looked at 70 different examples of malware that used this exploit, from a wide range of authors in both advanced persistent threat groups and common commercial families, and evaluated their programming skills.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Ransomware isn’t a serious threat says threat intelligence firm

Emails containing malicious links are spreading under the pretense that they offer access to updated versions of Google's Chrome browser. But instead of a new browser, victims are being directed to copies of a Ransomware variant known as Critroni (CTB-Locker).

However, while many see Ransomware as a serious risk, one threat intelligence and behavioral analytics firm disagrees – reminding business leaders that there are other, more important things to be concerned about.

Researchers at Malwarebytes reported on the Ransomware campaign Monday. The emails warn the victim that their version of Google Chrome is out of date. Instead of offering an attachment, the victim is instead asked to follow an embedded link to download a newer version of the browser.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Pancho Villa

Mexican Insurrection Week would not be complete without a portrait of the beloved populist leader and part time bandit, Pancho Villa. The picture above was taken in 1914, and shows Pancho Villa, and the lovely Mrs. Villa out for an afternoon stroll. 

Semi-Auto PCB Drill Press Makes Drilling Semi-Painless

DIY PCBs are the fastest and cheapest way to iteratively prototype circuits, and there’s a lot of great tricks to get the copper layer just the way you want it. But if you’re using through-hole parts, you eventually have to suffer the tedium of drilling a potentially large number of precisely aligned holes. Until now. [Acidbourbon] has built up a very nice semi-automatic PCB drill machine.

Semi-automatic? The CNC machine (with PC-side software) parses the drill file that most PCB design software spits out, and moves an X-Y table under your drill press to just the right spots. The user manually drills the hole and hits enter, and the table scoots off to the next drilling location. All of this is tied together with a simple calibration procedure that figures out where you’ve got the board using two reference drill locations; you initially jog the platform to two reference drill holes, and you’re set.

The CNC conversion of a relatively cheap X-Y table is nicely documented, and the on-board touchscreen and USB interface seem to make driving the machine around painless. Or at least a lot less painful than aligning up and drilling all the holes the old-fashioned way. Everything is open-source, so head on over and check it out.  (And while you’re there, don’t miss [Acidbourbon]’s tips and tricks for making PCBs using the toner transfer method.)

Seeing this machine in action, we can’t wait for the fully automatic version.

Filed under: cnc hacks

Big Brother is watching Thailand

I first read George Orwell’s book, 1984 many years ago. I remember thinking that was such a horrible idea and it couldn’t possibly come to pass. But, the more I read the news in the last year alone I see a shift taking place.

Two years ago I went to Thailand for a few days visit. It was a wonderful trip and I had a great time taking a boat tour, visiting an elephant reserve and hanging out on the beach. I felt very relaxed. I enjoyed it to the point where my wife and I were thinking about buying a place there so we could visit during the winter. Then, the military coup d'etat came. I know this is something that has happened a lot over the last century there but, it was enough that we opted against the idea of purchasing a place.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Hetman Partition Recovery will reliably restore information from damaged FAT and NTFS disks, recovering the original file and folder structure.

Hetman Partition Recovery will reliably restore information from damaged FAT and NTFS disks, recovering the original file and folder structure. In addition to existing partitions, the tool discovers all previously created volumes. This allows the user to search and recover files from those deleted volumes. The tool can save the entire logical drive, recovering the original file and folder structure.

Supporting all versions of FAT and NTFS file systems used in all versions of Windows up to the latest Windows 10, this hard drive recovery software can fix problems in storage media of any kind. Convenient step-by-step wizards make the recovery process as easy as one-two-three.

Experts uncovered a massive CTB Locker ransowmare campaign

Security researchers at the CERT team at Société Générale uncovered a new malware campaign which is spreading the CTB-Locker or Critroni crypto ransomware.

Security experts at the CERT team at Société Générale discovered a new malware campaign delivering the CTB-Locker or Critroni crypto ransomware. In the past, the criminals used the popular Angler exploit kit in order to spread the CTB-Locker malware, this time the threat actor is spreading the ransomware through spam emails across several  countries.

“CTB stands for “Curve-Tor-Bitcoin”, the three pillars of this new threat: elliptic curve cryptography to perform the encryption, Tor and Bitcoin to ensure anonymity for the payment.” states the report published by the CERT team at Société Générale. “The common infection vector is via an email containing a fake invoice compressed in a “.zip” or “.cab” archive file. The archives contain a binary (Dalexis dropper, usually in an “.scr” file) which, once opened, displays a decoy RTF document, waits for 5 minutes and then drops the actual CTB-Locker payload, which in turn performs the encryption routines.”

CTB-Locker is one of the most recent strain of crypto ransomware that encrypts victims’ hard drives and demands at the payment of a fee, typically in Bitcoin, in order to get the decryption key.

The payment requested by the CTB-Locker is usually two or three Bitcoin, and victims have no choice … getting back the encrypted data is quite impossible.


Unfortunately ransomware are becoming one of the most common malware used in the criminal ecosystem, last year CryptoLocker infected tens of thousands of PCs and generated millions of dollars of revenue before the authorities shut down the GameOver Zeus botnet, which had been used to spread the malicious agent.

The principal characteristics of the CTB-Locker ransomware is the use of elliptic curve cryptography to encrypt the users’ files and the Tor network to hide command and control infrastructure

“The common infection vector is via an email containing a fake invoice compressed in a “.zip” or “.cab” archive file. The archives contain a binary (Dalexis dropper, usually in an “.scr” file) which, once opened, displays a decoy RTF document, waits for 5 minutes and then drops the actual CTB-Locker payload, which in turn performs the encryption routines,” continues the report.

“Hiding the command and control servers in an anonymous Tor network complicates the search for the cybercriminals, and the use of an unorthodox cryptographic scheme makes file decryption impossible, even if traffic is intercepted between the Trojan and the server,” Fedor Sinitsyn, a senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab told the Daily last year. “All this makes it a highly dangerous threat and one of the most technologically advanced encryptors out there.”

The new variant of CTB-Locker (dubbed Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Onion by the experts at Kaspersky Lab)  include other interesting features according to Sinitsyn. CTB-Locker offers its victims a sort of ‘trial demo’ whereby they can choose five files to decrypt without paying the ransom, it is also available in three new languages to target users in the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. CTB-Locker is also able to evade detection and analysis operated by researchers through virtual environments. Instead of connecting directly to Tor, CTB proxies itself through six additional anonymization services in order to further complicate tracking and takedown efforts. Another peculiarity if the CTB-Locker ransomware is the limited amount of time malware it gives to the victims in order to submit the payment, no more of four days.

“Instead of connecting directly to Tor, CTB proxies itself through six additional anonymization services in order to further complicate tracking and takedown efforts.” states Kaspersky in a blog post.

How to protect our systems?

The only way to restore the system is to have a recent backup, to prevent the infection users need an effective antivirus solution and they have to be sure all their applications and operating systems, are up to date with the latest patch installations.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – CTB-Locker, ransomware)

The post Experts uncovered a massive CTB Locker ransowmare campaign appeared first on Security Affairs.

SnoTunes Lets You Rock Out in the Winter

[Matt Bilsky], an avid reader of Hackaday for years, finally gathered up the courage to submit a project to us. We swear, we don’t byte! Anyway — we’re glad he did, because his project is absolutely awesome. He calls it SnoTunes and it’s a backpack stereo system designed for the outdoors.

It’s a whopping 160 watt stereo, has 7-8 hours of battery life, is somewhat water resistant, and can be controlled wirelessly. Its brain is a Raspberry Pi B+ running Kodi (which was formerly XBMC). A 7″ display is hidden inside of the backpack for more fine tuning controls.

It fetches and downloads YouTube music videos and can create a playlist that can be manipulated by text message. You can share YouTube links to have it download and queue the songs, you can skip the songs (but only if four people make the request), and it even automatically parses the music video titles to extract the song name and band. It also works with AirPlay — but who even uses that.

He’s got a bunch of videos explaining the build and has tons of resources on his personal website in case you want to try your hand at building one. We’ve seen lots of portable home brew stereos before, but never in a backpack!


Filed under: digital audio hacks

These Galaxies Live Fast and Die Young

NGC 7049 is an intermediate galaxy (meaning it falls between a spiral and an elliptical galaxy) that has exhausted a lot of its resources (Credit: ESO)

NGC 7049 is an intermediate galaxy (meaning it falls between a spiral and an elliptical galaxy) that has exhausted a lot of its resources (Credit: ESO)

Galaxies can die early because the gas they need to make new stars is suddenly ejected, research published earlier this week suggests.

Most galaxies age slowly as they run out of raw materials needed for growth over billions of years. But a pilot study looking at galaxies that die young has found some might shoot out this gas early on, causing them to redden and kick the bucket prematurely.

Astrophysicist Ivy Wong, from the University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), said there are two main types of galaxies; ‘blue’ galaxies that are still actively making new stars and ‘red’ galaxies that have stopped growing.

Most galaxies transition from blue to ‘red and dead’ slowly after two billion years or more, but some transition suddenly after less than a billion years—young in cosmic terms. Dr Wong and her colleagues looked for the first time at four galaxies on the cusp of their star formation shutting down, each at a different stage in the transition.

The researchers found that the galaxies approaching the end of their star formation phase had expelled most of their gas. Dr Wong said it was initially hard to get time on telescopes to do the research because other astronomers did not believe the dying galaxies would have any gas left to see.

The exciting result means the scientists will be able to use powerful telescopes to conduct a larger survey and discover the cause of this sudden shutdown in star formation.

Dr Wong said it is unclear why the gas was being expelled. “One possibility is that it could be blown out by the galaxy’s supermassive black hole,” she said.

This is an image showing the galaxy J0836, the approximate location of the black hole residing at the galaxy's core, and the expelled gas reservoir (Credit: The International Center For Radio Astronomy Research)

This is an image showing the galaxy J0836, the approximate location of the black hole residing at the galaxy’s core, and the expelled gas reservoir (Credit: The International Center For Radio Astronomy Research)

“Another possibility is that the gas could be ripped out by a neighbouring galaxy, although the galaxies in the pilot project are all isolated and don’t appear to have others nearby.”

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Professor Kevin Schawinski said the researchers predicted that the galaxies had to rapidly lose their gas to explain their fast deaths.

“We selected four galaxies right at the time where this gas ejection should be occurring,” he said. “It was amazing to see that this is exactly what happens!”

The study appeared in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, published by Oxford University Press.

(From The International Center For Radio Astronomy Research)


The post These Galaxies Live Fast and Die Young appeared first on From Quarks to Quasars.

Wireless Mic Helps Guitarist Rock Out Un-Tethered

Any guitarist knows what a tangled mess of cords can come out of a long jam session. One possible solution would be to get a wireless guitar system, however, such a setup can range in price from about 50 to several hundred dollars. That’s a big price to pay for not having to untangle some guitar cords.

[mattthegamer463] wanted a wireless setup but didn’t want to spend the cash on one. He’s a tinkerer and had a spare wireless microphone setup hanging around. So, he decided to try converting the wireless mic to work with his guitar.

Both microphones and guitar pickups work in similar manner. In a guitar pickup, the vibrating guitar string disturbs a magnetic field and induces a current in the pickup’s coil. That current is the guitar’s signal. Microphones are similar, air pressure waves vibrate a diaphragm or ribbon which then disturbs a magnetic field to create the signal. [mattthegamer463]  thought these principles were close enough for him to make quick work of the conversion.

First, the microphone was taken apart and the diaphragm module was removed, cutting the two wires that ran into the mic’s handle. A hole was then drilled into the wind screen so a 1/4″ jack could be installed. [mattthegamer463] states that it’s important to electrically isolate the jack from the wind screen or the signal and ground wires will short and the project won’t work. The two wires that were previously connected to the diaphragm module are then soldered to the newly added jack and the mic was screwed back together.

To use it, a patch cord is run from the guitar into the jack on the mic. The stock wireless receiver from the mic system is then plugged into the guitar amp. The modified ‘mic’ now transmits the guitar signals to the guitar amp! You may think it would be awkward to hold that mic while jamming. You’d be right if [mattthegamer463] didn’t come up with a nice looking aluminum and rubber belt clip.

Filed under: musical hacks

It’s Offical: We’re Going to Europa – The Most Likely Place for Life Beyond Earth

Image credit: NASA

Image credit: NASA

NASA really wants to go to Europa, and anyone who knows anything about exobiology really wants NASA to go to Europa. Why? Water.

On Earth, water is what fuels life. Of course, there are a lot of other things that fuel life on our planet, but water is an integral part of life as we know it. Indeed, so far, all of our research has indicated that where there is water, there is life (Earth isn’t called “the Pale Blue Dot” for nothing). And while it is possible that alien life could exists on other worlds and thrive off of something else entirely (iron, maybe?), when one is searching for the first signs of life out in the universe, it makes sense to look for it in familiar places.

And it seems that we may be on our way. In NASA’s 2016 budget, the plan to explore Europa got a huge pay off, to the tune of $255 million over the course of five years, which is a very promising boost to last year’s $100 million allocation, which was meant to begin investigations into the feasibility of such a mission. According to NASA, “this is the first time, the budget supports the formulation and development of a Europa Mission, allowing NASA to begin project formulation, Phase A.”

So what does NASA intend to do on Europa? Their equipment list helps to clarify:

The possible payload of science instruments under consideration includes radar to penetrate the frozen crust and determine the thickness of the ice shell, an infrared spectrometer to investigate the composition of Europa’s surface materials, a topographic camera for high-resolution imaging of surface features, and an ion and neutral mass spectrometer to analyze the moon’s trace atmosphere during flybys.

In response to this news, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) senior research scientist, Robert Pappalardo, said in a statement, after 15 years going over Europa mission concepts, many of which were simply too small, too big, or just too expensive, “we believe we have now found the one that is just right.”

“We call this concept the Europa Clipper,” he said.

According to the information that was complied by NASA’s Galileo satellite, the amount of liquid life (water) sloshing about beneath the surface of this tiny, icy moon is approximately 2—3 times more voluminous than the oceans here on Earth. Keep in mind that Europa is a bit smaller than Earth; however, the amount of water that it contains is 2—3 times more in total volume.

Since this moon has such an abundance of H2O, and it seems that this water is in a liquid state, and where we find water liquid water we find life, scientists think that Europa has an amazing chance of harboring life.

The Clipper concept consists of a Jupiter-orbiting spacecraft that will make multiple flybys of the Jovian moon over a 3 year period. The spacecraft will dive deep into Jupiter’s radiation belts to fly over Europa’s surface approximately 45 times during its primary mission.

The Europa Clipper will be focused on Europa in an effort to understand its habitable potential. Of course, we aren’t quite at the alien world just yet. Monday’s news is only the start of our journey to Europa, but all the same, it takes the Europa Clipper from concept to planning, so hopes are high that the Europa Clipper will follow NASA’s Juno spacecraft as the next big mission to explore Jupiter’s enigmatic moon.

The final frontier awaits…

The post It’s Offical: We’re Going to Europa – The Most Likely Place for Life Beyond Earth appeared first on From Quarks to Quasars.