Archive for March, 2016

An M.I.T.-led research and product development project is trying to bring clothes into the digital age and make textiles a high-tech industry.


A State Supreme Court justice has blocked a plan by developers to convert the tower into a private luxury apartment and electrify the clock.


SAN FRANCISCO—Yesterday at its Build developer conference, the topic was Microsoft’s first major platform: Windows. Today, it was the turn of the other platform, Azure, with Microsoft talking up its cloud service.

Much of the news today was that services that were previously in preview have now gone live. Azure Service Fabric was announced at last year’s event, and Microsoft described it as being its second generation platform-as-a-service offering. Service Fabric was already being used to power services such as Cortana and Skype for Business, and it offers useful features such as automatic scaling and phased deployments of new versions with automatic rollback in case of problems. It’s designed to allow developers to handle dozens or hundreds of both stateless and stateful microservices. Service Fabric is now in general availability, making it production ready and widely available.

The company did mention one new service: Azure Functions. This is designed to further abstract away the details of the platform. Users of Functions don’t need to provision storage or compute resources or anything like that. They just write a function in C# or JavaScript (using node.js) and plumb that function into events or data sources. The resources for that function are provisioned automatically, and scaling is handled by the system. If the event volume goes up, causing the function to be triggered more often, more resources will be allocated; as volume drops, resources will be cut, possibly to zero. Functions are strictly pay-per-use, meaning that if a function isn’t called, it costs nothing.

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Baltimore’s Union Memorial is one of the hopitals hit by Samsam, an autonomous ransomware strain spread by exploiting JBoss servers. (credit: MedStar)

Baltimore’s Union Memorial Hospital is the epicenter of a malware attack upon its parent organization, MedStar. Data at Union Memorial and other MedStar hospitals in Maryland have been encrypted by ransomware spread across the network, and the operators of the malware are offering a bulk deal: 45 bitcoins (about $18,500) for the keys to unlock all the affected systems.

Reuters reports that the FBI issued a confidential urgent “Flash” message to the industry about the threat of Samsam on March 25, seeking assistance in fighting the ransomware and pleading, “We need your help!” The FBI’s cyber center also shared signature data for Samsam activity to help organizations screen for infections. But the number of potential targets remains vast, and the FBI was concerned that entire networks could fall victim to the ransomware.

According to sources who spoke to the Baltimore Sun, the malware involved in MedStar’s outages is Samsam, also known as Samas and MSIL. The subject of a recent confidential FBI cyber-alert, Samsam is form of malware that uses well-known exploits in the JBoss application server and other Java-based application platforms. As Ars reported on Monday, Samsam uses exploits published as part of JexBoss, an open-source security and penetration testing tool for checking JBoss servers for misconfiguration.

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Intel’s mainstream consumer processors are mostly of the dual- and quad-core varieties, but the server CPUs go much higher than that. Case in point: the most expensive member of the new Broadwell-based Xeon E5-2600 v4 family has a whopping 22 cores running at 2.2GHz—and all of that fits in just one processor socket.

The new 22- and 20-core CPUs offer more processing power for heavily parallelized workloads than the older Haswell-based CPUs, which topped out at a mere 18 cores per socket in the same 145W power envelope (at least, if you can afford to pay $4,115 or $3,226 for them, respectively).

The full lineup, available below, includes 27 CPUs for a variety of different use cases. There are 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18-core versions you can buy for dual-socket servers based on your needs and your budget. There are “frequency optimized” versions with lower core counts but higher clock speeds if you have got a lot of single-threaded workloads that won’t benefit from a ton of cores. And there are some low-power versions available if power consumption is more important than raw performance.

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