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Top 6 Common Myths About Smart Meter Danger Exposed | Earthtechling

Top 6 Common Myths About Smart Meter Danger Exposed | Earthtechling | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

There’s a lot of talk about smart meters and how they can help communities use power more efficiently, conserving energy and thus reducing costs. However, some claim that smart meters are hazardous to human health, emitting dangerous high frequency radio waves that can cause illness and disease.

 

Unfortunately, all of this conflicting information can leave consumers very confused about whether they should embrace smart meters or avoid them at all costs (something that is nearly impossible as many utility companies have already made the switch). Before you start crafting your tinfoil hat, take some time to get the facts. The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) recently released an informative video and fact sheet designed to help consumers refute the most commonly circulated myths about smart meters.

 

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Paris Wants to Keep Central Neighborhoods From Becoming 'Ghettos for the Rich' | Feargus O'Sullivan | CityLab.com

Paris Wants to Keep Central Neighborhoods From Becoming 'Ghettos for the Rich' | Feargus O'Sullivan | CityLab.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

What can you do when a once socially mixed neighborhood starts turning into a “ghetto for the rich”? Quite a lot, according to the city of Paris.


As part of a massive home-building drive, the government of France’s capital has just announced a plan to stop housing displacement in central neighborhoods. It might just be the most radical Europe has yet seen.


Earlier this week, the Conseil de Paris published a list of 257 addresses (containing over 8,000 apartments) that the city would have a "right of first-refusal" to buy, in order to convert to subsidized housing.


Located in areas that are being gentrified, the city’s plans would both increase subsidized rental options and ensure that at least some housing in these areas remains affordable to lower- and middle-income residents.


The plans operate within existing laws rather than creating new ones—but as you can imagine, real-estate professionals aren’t exactly delighted with the proposals.


The nuts and bolts of the plan are as follows. When apartments at any of the 257 addresses come up for sale, they must by law be offered first to the city. The apartment should still be sold at the market price —but the price offered would nonetheless be decided by the city, not the seller.


If the landlord doesn’t like what’s offered, he or she can appeal to an independent judge to have it re-priced, or can withdraw the property from the market. What the landlord can’t do, however, is sell the apartment on to someone else without the city having bowed out first.


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What might the future look like if we took climate change seriously? | Merrian Borgeson's Blog | NRDC.org

What might the future look like if we took climate change seriously? | Merrian Borgeson's Blog | NRDC.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A new analysis lays out several detailed “pathways” to a low-carbon future for the United States, and offers practical guidance for policy makers. The bottom line finding is that there are multiple ways we can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with known technologies and with an incremental cost equivalent to less than 1 percent of gross domestic product. But the choices we make in the short term matter a lot if we want to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

This work is important because the negotiations in Lima last week set a positive direction for the international climate agreement planned for next December in Paris. As the United States considers its strategy, it is important to reflect on what it would take – on a nuts and bolts level – to meet an aggressive climate target. This includes talking about sources of energy, power lines, industrial facilities, homes and buildings, cars and trucks and the fuels they run on – the physical infrastructure necessary to massively reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.


With all the international dialogue and ongoing climate modeling, there has been surprisingly little analysis done on what needs to happen to respond to climate change from the perspective of physical infrastructure. And while sure, no one can predict the future, we need to start imagining (in detail) the range of options that would enable the United States to meet an aggressive climate target over the longer-term. We need to be able to credibly ask whether proposed policies can reduce emissions enough – or whether they lead to dead ends that may meet short term targets but foreclose upon the future we need to build.


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Here Are 5 Countries Where Solar Power Is Making a Revolution | Juan Cole | Truthdig.com

Here Are 5 Countries Where Solar Power Is Making a Revolution | Juan Cole | Truthdig.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Developing countries of the global south don’t have enough electricity. Sometimes rural populations are only just now getting electricity.


Ironically, many of them can leapfrog conventional power and go straight to solar and wind.


Indeed, in the next generation, renewables will be a central element in national development.


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German researchers discover a flaw that could let anyone listen to your cell calls | Craig Timberg | WashPost.com

German researchers discover a flaw that could let anyone listen to your cell calls | Craig Timberg | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

German researchers have discovered security flaws that could let hackers, spies and criminals listen to private phone calls and intercept text messages on a potentially massive scale – even when cellular networks are using the most advanced encryption now available.

The flaws, to be reported at a hacker conference in Hamburg this month, are the latest evidence of widespread insecurity on SS7, the global network that allows the world’s cellular carriers to route calls, texts and other services to each other. Experts say it’s increasingly clear that SS7, first designed in the 1980s, is riddled with serious vulnerabilities that undermine the privacy of the world’s billions of cellular customers.

The flaws discovered by the German researchers are actually functions built into SS7 for other purposes – such as keeping calls connected as users speed down highways, switching from cell tower to cell tower – that hackers can repurpose for surveillance because of the lax security on the network.


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Global 4K UHD TV Shipments Up 700% | Greg Tarr | TWICE.com

Global 4K UHD TV Shipments Up 700% | Greg Tarr | TWICE.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Global 4K Ultra HD TV shipments are expected to exceed 11.6 million units in 2014, on the way to topping 100 million units by 2018, according to new research issued by Futuresource Consulting.

The firm said 4K UHD sets are expected to grow nearly 700 percent year on year in 2014, with China accounting for over 70 percent of global demand.

In Western Europe and North America, share of 4K demand for 2014 will represent 10 percent and 8 percent respectively, with demand expected to grow at 72 percent CAGR until 2018.

“4K adoption is forecast to grow quickly from 2015 onwards with over 100 million shipments projected in 2018, representing 38 percent of the total TV market,” said David Tett, Futuresource research analyst. “An indication that 4K is quickly becoming mainstream was the availability of many sets at discounted prices during last month's Black Friday.”

Sales of 4K TVs are expected to be concentrated on the larger screen sizes, generally 50 inches, but screens smaller than 40 inches will become more widely available with 4K in the coming years, Tett said. Native 4K content remains scarce, and many consumers are currently buying sets on the basis that they can up-scale HD content and will be future-proof, in preparation for when native 4K content is more widely available.


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EC urges Germany to withdraw or amend FTR proposal | TeleGeography.com

Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission (EC) has concluded that the approach of the German telecoms regulator, the Federal Network Agency (FNA, also known as Bundesnetzagentur or BNetzA), for the calculation of fixed termination rates (FTRs) does not follow the European Union (EU) recommended approach and leads to competition and consumer harm.


According to the FNA, FTRs for alternative fixed operators will be based on the previously applied methodology for incumbent operator Telekom Deutschland (TD), but the EC says that, if adopted, the new rates in Germany would be over 200% higher than in member states that follow the EC’s recommendation.


Brussels says it now requires the FNA to withdraw its proposal or to amend it in order to bring it in line with the EC’s guidelines.


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Cyberattack on German steel factory causes 'massive damage' | Loek Essers | NetworkWorld.com

A German steel factory suffered massive damage after hackers managed to access production networks, allowing them to tamper with the controls of a blast furnace, the government said in its annual IT security report.

The report, published Wednesday by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), revealed one of the rare instances in which a digital attack actually caused physical damage.

The attack used spear phishing and sophisticated social engineering techniques to gain access to the factory’s office networks, from which access to production networks was gained. Spear phishing involves the use of email that appears to come from within an organization. After the system was compromised, individual components or even entire systems started to fail frequently.


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Smaller, faster, greener "high-rise" 3D chips are ready for Big Data | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com

Smaller, faster, greener "high-rise" 3D chips are ready for Big Data | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Stanford engineers have pioneered a new design for a scalable 3D computer chip that tightly interconnects logic and memory, with the effect of minimizing data bottlenecks and saving on energy usage.


With further work, the advance could be the key to a very substantial jump in performance, efficiency, and the ability to quickly process very large amounts of information  –  known as "Big Data"  –  over conventional chips.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In the context of chip design, that link is usually the data bus that connects the memory and logic components and fetches data from memory, delivers it to the logic units for processing, and then sends it back over for storage.

As it turns out, both CPU speeds and memory size are advancing at a much faster rate than the throughput speed of the data bus is improving. This means that when processing large amounts of data the CPU has to slow down to a crawl, constantly waiting for new data to arrive, wasting a lot of time and energy in the process. And things are only going to get worse as the gap increases. Couple this trend with the huge interest in Big Data in recent years and it’s easy to see how, if nothing is done to address this, we might end up with a serious problem on our hands.


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Desolenator churns out clean drinking water using solar power | Nick Lavars | GizMag.com

Desolenator churns out clean drinking water using solar power | Nick Lavars | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Desalination may one day prove the savior for regions of the world where clean drinking water is scarce, but current technology dictates that this process is often expensive and energy-intensive. The team behind the Desolenator has high hopes of delivering water security to those in need, with a mobile desalinator that runs purely on energy from the sun.

At a time when the planet’s population is set to grow substantially and rising global temperatures are adding further uncertainty to the supply of fresh water, considerable effort is going into advancing desalination technology and making it cheaper and more accessible.

In 2010, IBM commenced work on a solar-powered desalination plant to bring fresh water to the Saudi desert, while later in that same year MIT revealed designs for a portable system powered by photovoltaic panels. Only yesterday we wrote about the Odyssée desalinator, an all-in-one system that uses wave-power to produce clean drinking water on the spot.

Now the developers of the Desolenator are promising the lowest cost per liter compared to any other available system of its scale. Their solution takes the form of a mobile, flat-screen television-sized unit with a top, slanted surface covered by an array on photovoltaic panels. Complete with all terrain wheels for mobility, the team says that the Desolenator is built to last 20 years.

The device is claimed to be more dependable than traditional desalination systems that rely on reverse osmosis, a technique where specialized membranes are used to filter out undesired particles. Part of this is because it has no moving parts, but more importantly, it is entirely energy independent.


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EU-Canada Trade Agreement May Be Incompatible With EU Law | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com

EU-Canada Trade Agreement May Be Incompatible With EU Law | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Just as it did with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Germany is leading the fight against both TAFTA/TTIP and the recently-concluded trade agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA).


That's clear from the fact that of the 1,115,000 European citizens who have signed an online petition calling for both TTIP and CETA to be dropped, 673,000 come from Germany. The most powerful anti-TTIP organisation, Campact, is also based in Germany, and points us to this legal analysis of CETA, and the extent to which it may be incompatible with EU and German law (pdf):

The following opinion assesses whether this "CETA Consolidated Text" of August 5th, 2014 complies with EU and [German] constitutional law. The opinion is limited to some selected regulatory fields of CETA. It does not claim to be exhaustive, but focuses on those provisions that dominate public discussion.

It's rigorous stuff and pretty dry, but the conclusions are clear enough. For example, it confirms that CETA is a "mixed agreement." That means it must be ratified by the EU and every one of the 28 Member States -- a much higher hurdle to clear than just EU approval. It identifies the corporate sovereignty provisions -- "investor-state dispute settlement" -- as a problem:


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Arctic Report Card: It's Getting Dark in Here | Peter Sinclair | ClimateCrocks.com

Arctic Report Card: It's Getting Dark in Here | Peter Sinclair | ClimateCrocks.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In the spring and summer of 2014, Earth’s icy northern region lost more of its signature whiteness that reflects the sun’s heat. It was replaced temporarily with dark land and water that absorbs more energy, keeping yet more heat on already warming planet, according to the Arctic report card issued Thursday.

Spring snow cover in Eurasia reached a record low in April. Arctic summer sea ice, while not setting a new record, continued a long-term, steady decline. And Greenland set a record in August for the least amount of sunlight reflected in that month, said the peer-reviewed report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies.

Overall, the report card written by 63 scientists from 13 countries shows few single-year dramatic changes, unlike other years.

“We can’t expect records every year. It need not be spectacular for the Arctic to continue to be changing,” said report lead editor Martin Jeffries, an Arctic scientist for the Office of Naval Research, at a San Francisco news conference Wednesday.

The Arctic’s drop in reflectivity is crucial because “it plays a role like a thermostat in regulating global climate,” Jeffries said, in an interview. As the bright areas are replaced, even temporarily, with dark heat-absorbing dark areas, “That has global implications.”

The world’s thermostat setting gets nudged up a bit because more heat is being absorbed instead of reflected, he said.


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What New York’s fracking ban means for drilling along the Delaware River? | Susan Phillips | StateImpact.NPR.org

What New York’s fracking ban means for drilling along the Delaware River? | Susan Phillips | StateImpact.NPR.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The surprise decision by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban fracking and prevent the development of Marcellus Shale gas in that state could have ripple effects in eastern Pennsylvania.


New York issued a lengthy scientific report on potential health and environmental impacts Wednesday. And Cuomo’s subsequent decision could mean a permanent ban on drilling in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, where the Delaware River Basin Commission has authority to regulate shale gas drilling.

The current de facto moratorium on drilling for gas along the Delaware river in both New York and Pennsylvania exists because the four states and a federal representative who comprise the Delaware River Basin Commission could not agree on how to do it. In 2010 the DRBC instructed staff members to propose new regulations.


After receiving thousands of comments, the DRBC revised its proposals and scheduled a vote in the fall of 2011. But the lack of consensus among the commissioners prompted them to cancel the meeting, and they have not taken up the issue in a public forum since.


At the time, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett was the strongest advocate for drilling. Delaware’s governor opposed it. New Jersey and the Obama Administration kept silent. And New York was on the fence.

But this week’s decision by Governor Cuomo has taken New York off the fence. And when combined with the promise by Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Wolf not to open the Delaware watershed to drilling, New York’s decision to ban fracking altogether changes the picture.


This is good news to activists like Maya van Rossum, from the Delaware Riverkeeper. Van Rossum has been fighting to keep gas rigs out of eastern Pennsylvania since 2008. She says New York’s health and environmental study, along with Cuomo’s subsequent decision, means her work has paid off.


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New TISA Leak: US On Collision Course With EU Over Global Data Flows | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com

New TISA Leak: US On Collision Course With EU Over Global Data Flows | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Although most attention has been given to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), also known as TTIP, it's important to remember that a third set of global trade negotiations are underway -- those for the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), which involves more countries than either of the other two.


Like TPP and TAFTA/TTIP, TISA is being negotiated in strict secrecy, but earlier this year the financial services annex leaked, giving us the first glimpse of the kind of bad ideas that were being worked on. Now, another leak has surfaced, which reveals the US's proposals to free up data flows online.

For the European Union, that's a hugely sensitive issue. Under data protection laws there, personal data cannot be sent outside the EU unless companies sign up to the self-certification scheme known as the Safe Harbor framework.


However, in the wake of Snowden's revelations about NSA spying in Europe, the European Parliament has called for the Safe Harbor scheme to be suspended. If that happens, the only way that US Internet companies could comply with the EU Data Protection Directive would be to hold personal information about EU citizens on servers physically located in Europe. But it is precisely that kind of requirement the leaked TISA position seeks to forbid:


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Why Bitcoin advocates might like New York’s new proposed rules for virtual currency | Brian Fung | WashPost.com

Why Bitcoin advocates might like New York’s new proposed rules for virtual currency | Brian Fung | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

One of New York's top financial regulators is laying out a new policy on Bitcoin and other virtual currencies after a flood of public feedback encouraged the agency to scale back its proposed rules.

New revisions to the proposal would trim some requirements on Bitcoin-related businesses, and clarify others. Among the key changes? Companies covered by the regulations will no longer be required to store the addresses of every person involved in a Bitcoin transaction — an idea privacy hawks have said would deter people from adopting virtual currencies. Now, companies regulated by New York's so-called BitLicense will only be required to gather transaction information from their own customers, said Ben Lawsky, New York's superintendent of financial services, at a Washington conference Thursday.

In addition, covered companies will only have to store that information for seven years, down from the 10 years Lawsky's agency, the department of financial services, was previously considering.

"Virtual currencies really sit at that crossroads of the much more lightly regulated tech sector and the more heavily regulated financial sector," said Lawsky, who added that all financial companies ought to be supervised to "ensure that consumers' money doesn't just disappear into a black hole."

That said, the new rules will be clarified to cover only those companies that actually engage in sending money from one place to another, said Lawsky. They won't apply to software companies that offer consumers Bitcoin "wallets" where they can store their digital cash. Nor will the rules apply to retailers that simply take bitcoins as payment for goods and services. Private individuals who "mine" or invest in bitcoins won't be required to apply for a license from the state government, either.


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Public Citizen Report Reveals Dents, Holes in Keystone XL Southern Half Weeks Before Planned Startup | Steve Horn | DeSmogBlog.com

Public Citizen Report Reveals Dents, Holes in Keystone XL Southern Half Weeks Before Planned Startup | Steve Horn | DeSmogBlog.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The southern half of Transcanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is supposed to begin pumping up to 700,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day through the Cushing, OK to Port Arthur, TX route within weeks. But is it ready to operate safely?

Public Citizen has released a chilling report revealing that the 485-mile KXL southern line is plagued by dents, faulty welding, exterior damage that was patched up poorly and misshapen bends, among other troubling anomalies.

In conducting its investigative report, “Construction Problems Raise Questions About the Integrity of the Pipeline,” Public Citizen worked on the ground to examine 250 miles of the 485 mile pipeline's route. The group and its citizen sources uncovered over 125 anomalies in that half of the line alone. These findings moved Public Citizen to conclude the southern half of the pipeline shouldn't begin service until the anomalies are taken care of, and ponders if the issues can ever be resolved sufficiently.

After President Barack Obama temporarily denied a permit for Keystone XL's northern half in January 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted Keystone XL's south half a legally dubious Nationwide Permit 12 to expedite construction. Soon after, President Obama issued his own Executive Order in March 2012 calling for the expedited building of the south half in de facto support of the Corps' permit.

An August report by industry intelligence firm Genscape said the pipeline, rebranded by Transcanada as the “Gulf Coast Project,” will ship tar sands dilbit through the line beginning in the first quarter of 2014. Now, the race to build the south half literally looks like it could come with major costs and consequences.


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Polar bears feel the heat as icy habitat shrinks | Alex Kirby | Climate News Network

Polar bears feel the heat as icy habitat shrinks | Alex Kirby | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Arctic is changing faster under the influence of the warming climate than anywhere else on Earth, scientists have confirmed.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says Arctic air temperatures continue to rise more than twice as fast as they do globally − a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification.

The extent of snow cover in April 2014 in Eurasia was the lowest since 1967, and sea ice extent in September was the sixth lowest since 1979.

Some Arctic polar bear populations have been badly affected by the progressive shrinking of Arctic sea ice.

But NOAA says: “Natural variation remains, such as the slight increase in March 2014 sea ice thickness and only a slight decrease in total mass of the Greenland ice sheet in summer 2014.”

Increasing air and sea surface temperatures, a decline in the reflectivity of the ice at the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, shrinking spring snow cover on land and summer ice on the ocean, and the declining populations and worsening health of some bear populations are among the findings described in NOAA’s Arctic Report Card 2014.

“Arctic warming is setting off changes that affect people and the environment in this fragile region, and has broader effects beyond the Arctic on global security, trade and climate,” Craig McLean, of NOAA, told the annual American Geophysical Union Fall meeting in San Francisco.


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BT, Sky, and Virgin “hijacking” browsers to push porn blocks | James Templeton | Ars Technica

BT, Sky, and Virgin “hijacking” browsers to push porn blocks | James Templeton | Ars Technica | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

BT, Sky, and Virgin Media are hijacking people's web connections to force customers to make a decision about family-friendly web filters. The move comes as the December deadline imposed by prime minister David Cameron looms, with ISPs struggling to get customers to say yes or no to the controversial adult content blocks.

The messages, which vary by ISP, appear during browser sessions when a user tries to access any website. BT, Sky,TalkTalk and Virgin Media are required to ask all their customers if they want web filters turned on or off, with the government saying it wants to create a "family friendly" Internet free from pornography, gambling, extreme violence and other content inappropriate for children. But the measures being taken by ISPs have been described as "completely unnecessary" and "heavy handed" by Internet rights groups.

The hijacking works by intercepting requests for unencrypted websites and rerouting a user to a different page. ISPs are using the technique to communicate with all undecided customers. Attempting to visit WIRED.co.uk, for example, could result in a user being redirected to a page asking them about web filtering. ISPs cannot intercept requests for encrypted websites in the same way.

BT is blocking people's browsers until they make a decision, making it impossible for customers to visit any websites once the in-browser notification has appeared. A spokesperson for the UK's biggest ISP said: "If customers do not make a decision, they are unable to continue browsing. The message will remain until the customer makes a decision."

BT explained that the message does not force people to activate BT Parental Controls and if a user selects "No" they will be taken to a confirmation page and be able to continue browsing without the message reappearing.

Digital rights organization Open Rights Group (ORG) said that ISPs risked encouraging customers to trust hijacked sessions by displaying messages in this way.


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Analogue is all I want? Armenia says no, as DTT bill is sent to Parliament | TeleGeography.com

Ashot Melikyan, head of the Armenian commission for freedom of speech, has announced that the country’s transition from analogue broadcasting to digital terrestrial television (DTT) took a major step forward this week with the news that a bill defining the terms of the switchover have now been sent to Parliament.


The government has set a date of 1 June 2015 for the migration to a DTT standard, putting Armenia in step with the single European digital TV standard.


Ms Melikyan commented that amendments made to the nation’s law on TV and radio in 2010, allow for some 18 TV channels to switch from analogue to digital by 20 July 2015. The transfer of existing channels will be paid for by the government, although Arka News notes that ‘practically nothing is mentioned about private multiplexes’.


According to Ms Melikyan though, the DTT legislation needs to be amended to clarify how new private multiplexes will be allowed to enter the local market. ‘We are discussing how to transfer to a simple licensing method. This means TV companies will be able to decide on their own how they will broadcast – through state-funded, satellite or cable multiplexes,’ she said.

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France: Free Mobile to offer 3G/4G services on Paris metro | TeleGeography.com

French cellco Free Mobile has signed an agreement with state-owned public transport operator Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) to deploy 3G/4G networks on the Paris metro and on lines A and B of the RER, an underground rail system which serves Paris and its suburbs.


According to a joint press release, HSPA+ and Long Term Evolution (LTE) access will be extended to all Free subscribers with a compatible handset imminently, both in stations and on trains.

Emmanuel Pitron, secretary general of the RATP Group, said: ‘In today’s world, where people are constantly on the move and need permanent connectivity, this new agreement with [Free] will enable RATP to offer new services to its customers … It demonstrates RATP’s aim of providing full coverage to the seven million people who use its travel networks every day, whatever their mobile operator.’

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Trojan program based on ZeuS targets 150 banks, can hijack webcams | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

Trojan program based on ZeuS targets 150 banks, can hijack webcams | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A new computer Trojan based on the infamous ZeuS banking malware is targeting users of over 150 banks and payment systems from around the world, security researchers warn.

The new threat, dubbed Chthonic, is based on ZeusVM, a Trojan program discovered in February that is itself a modification of the much older ZeuS Trojan.

“The Trojan is apparently an evolution of ZeusVM, although it has undergone a number of significant changes,” security researchers from antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab said in a blog post. “Chthonic uses the same encryptor as Andromeda bots, the same encryption scheme as Zeus AES and Zeus V2 Trojans, and a virtual machine similar to that used in ZeusVM and KINS malware.”

Like ZeuS, Chthonic’s main feature is the ability to surreptitiously modify banking websites when opened by victims on their computers. This technique, commonly known as Web injection, is used to add rogue Web forms on banking websites that ask victims for sensitive information, like credit card details or second-factor authorization codes.

However, Chthonic has a modular architecture that allows cybercriminals to extend the Trojan’s functionality. The Kaspersky Lab researchers found Chthonic modules designed to collect system information, steal locally stored passwords, log keystrokes, allow remote connections to the computer through VNC, use the infected computer as a proxy server and record video and sound through the computer’s webcam and microphone.

According to Kaspersky Lab, there are several Chthonic-based botnets with different configurations, suggesting the malware is being used by different groups.


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Deloitte's Amsterdam HQ becomes world's most sustainable office building | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com

Deloitte's Amsterdam HQ becomes world's most sustainable office building | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Deloitte's new corporate headquarters in Amsterdam has been certified as the most sustainable office building in the world by BREEAM. The Edge was awarded an "Outstanding" rating with the highest ever BREEAM score of 98.36 percent. It takes the title from One Embankment Place in London.

BREEAM (short for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) is an approach for assessing and rating the sustainability of buildings. It is licensed for use by independent assessors around the world and is claimed to be "the world's foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings." Among the criteria considered during a building's assessment are energy and water use, transport links, materials used, waste and management processes.

According to the building's designers PLP Architecture, The Edge is the second largest building to ever achieve BREEAM's Outstanding certification. The building covers 40,000 sq m (430,000 sq ft), and features a mix of passive temperature control and energy-efficient design, and generates its own electricity, too.


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WunderBar sensor kit gets notifications app for broader appeal | David Meyer | GigaOM Tech News

WunderBar sensor kit gets notifications app for broader appeal | David Meyer | GigaOM Tech News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The open-source WunderBar kit is a distinctive attempt to get app developers to shift their attention to the internet of things. It takes the form of a chocolate bar, the individual pieces of which can be broken off, with each piece containing different sensor functionality, such as temperature and humidity, sound, light and proximity, and motion, and with low-energy Bluetooth tying the system together.

Whereas other systems like Spark and LittleBits are more geared toward people who like to fiddle around with little wires, WunderBar firm Relayr specifically targets app developers who are only starting to think about hardware. The system comes with software development kits (SDKs) for Android and iOS, and months after launch there are already interesting ideas springing up, such as InsulinAngel’s temperature-sensing capsule for the kits diabetics have to carry around (you don’t want the insulin to spoil) and BabyBico, a system that uses Wunderbar’s accelerometer and sound sensor to monitor babies’ sleeping patterns.

But Berlin-based Relayr, which has an international distribution deal with German electronics retailer Conrad, wants to broaden WunderBar’s appeal. To that end, on Thursday it released a new app called TellMeWhen, which makes it easy for WunderBar owners to get simple notifications when, for example, the proximity sensor is activated, or when the accelerometer and gyroscope detect movement, or when the temperature sensor’s environment gets too hot or cold.


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Polish cellco P4 launches LTE roaming | TeleGeography.com

Polish mobile operator P4, which trades under the ‘Play’ brand, has launched roaming services for 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) customers in partnership with international wholesale partner BICS (formerly Belgacom International Carrier Services).


The partnership, which is based on the BICS IPX platform, includes connectivity, messaging and roaming services, and covers both inbound and outbound roaming.


Jacek Nieweglowski, chief strategy officer at P4, commented: ‘The enthusiastic response of our customers to the domestic LTE experience, combined with the bundle of services provided by BICS, oblige us to provide the highest quality of international roaming.’


BICS currently offers roaming via 57 LTE providers worldwide. P4, meanwhile, launched its 4G services in November 2013 and a year later covered 64% of Poland’s population in around 1,500 cities and towns.

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Senators Warren, Markey, and Baldwin Demand Answers from USTR on Backdoor Financial Deregulation in the TPP | DailyKos.com

Senators Warren, Markey, and Baldwin Demand Answers from USTR on Backdoor Financial Deregulation in the TPP | DailyKos.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

On Tuesday, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent a letter to US Trade Representative Michael Froman demanding answers about backdoor financial deregulation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The senators highlight three parts of the TPP that could undermine current and future efforts to regulate Wall Street and prevent another financial crisis:

(1) Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which allows foreign companies or investors to sue governments for losses in expected profits

(2) "Market access" provisions that could prohibit restrictions on predatory financial products, like risky forms of derivatives

(3) Limitations on governments' ability to impose capital controls, which could stymie efforts to prevent future financial crises as well as efforts to pass a financial transaction tax

The senators asked USTR Michael Froman to respond to their questions, with negotiating text documentation, by January 6th.

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Vulnerability in embedded Web server exposes millions of routers to hacking | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

Vulnerability in embedded Web server exposes millions of routers to hacking | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A serious vulnerability in an embedded Web server used by many router models from different manufacturers allows remote attackers to take control of affected devices over the Internet.

A compromised router can have wide-ranging implications for the security of home and business networks as it allows attackers to sniff inbound and outbound traffic and provides them with a foothold inside the network from where they can launch attacks against other systems. It also gives them a man-in-the-middle position to strip SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) from secure connections and hijack DNS (Domain Name System) settings to misrepresent trusted websites.

The new vulnerability was discovered by researchers from Check Point Software Technologies and is located in RomPager, an embedded Web server used by many routers to host their Web-based administration interfaces.

RomPager is developed by a company called Allegro Software Development and is sold to chipset manufacturers which then bundle it in their SDKs (software development kits) that are used by router vendors when developing the firmware for their products.

The vulnerability has been dubbed Misfortune Cookie and is being tracked as CVE-2014-9222 in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures database. It can be exploited by sending a single specifically crafted request to the RomPager server.


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