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EU Position on Shale Gas | The Energy Collective

EU Position on Shale Gas | The Energy Collective | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Sonja Van Renssen, leading Energy & Environment journalist for viEUws - the EU Policy Broadcaster met with the Joe Hennon, Environment Spokesman for the European Commission, to discuss Shale Gas.

 

“Shale Gas could be an important source of energy” says Hennon.


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New malware program used in attacks against energy sector companies | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

New malware program used in attacks against energy sector companies | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A new malware program is being used to do reconnaissance for targeted attacks against companies in the energy sector.

The program, dubbed Trojan.Laziok by researchers from antivirus vendor Symantec, was used in spear-phishing attacks earlier this year against companies from the petroleum, gas and helium industries.

The attacks targeted companies from many countries in the Middle East, but also from the U.S., India, the U.K., and others, according to malware researchers from Symantec.

The Trojan is spread via emails with malicious documents that exploit a Microsoft Office vulnerability for which a patch has existed since April 2012.

“If the user opens the email attachment, which is typically an Excel file, then the exploit code is executed,” the Symantec researchers said Monday in a blog post. “If the exploit succeeds, it drops Trojan.Laziok, kicking off the infection process.”

Trojan.Laziok is mainly used to determine if a compromised system is worth further attention from the attackers. It collects information like the computer’s name, RAM size, hard disk size, GPU and CPU type, as well as a list of installed software, including running antivirus programs.

The information is sent back to the attackers, who then decide if they want to deploy additional malware that can provide them with remote access to the infected system. For this second stage of attack they use customized versions of Backdoor.Cyberat and Trojan.Zbot, two well known malware threats.


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Lotus Belle Outback Deluxe tent delivers glamping for under $2,500 | Bridget Brogobello | GizMag.com

Lotus Belle Outback Deluxe tent delivers glamping for under $2,500 | Bridget Brogobello | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Australian company Lotus Belle has recently released the newest edition in its range of luxury tents which have been created especially for glamping (luxury camping).The Outback Deluxe is a 5 m (16.4 ft) circular tent that represents an upgrade from its 4 m and 5 m predecessors.

The Lotus Belle Outback Deluxe is the evolution of the company's original Lotus Belle design, which was created by co-founder Harriet Seddon who grew up in the South West of England.

"Hariet came up with the design at just 19 years old," Lotus Belle company director and co-founder, Jessica Haden Walsh tells Gizmag. "We decided that this great original design could be adjusted for the Australian and New Zealand markets."

The Outback Deluxe is a single skin tent made from thick canvas and features mesh screens, large roof vents, increased ventilation, a second door and velcro flaps which seal in the ground sheet to keep out any creepy crawlies. The canvas is a cotton and polyester blend which is durable and has a natural feel and, according to Walsh, it's their most breathable design yet.

Furthermore it is fully wind resistant and features clear window panels so that users can enjoy the view no matter the weather conditions. The only draw back is the added weight due to the denseness of the canvas.


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Australia: NBN Co launches commercial FTTB connectivity | TeleGeography.com

Australia’s NBN Co, the company which is overseeing the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout, has announced the commercial launch of fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) services.


With around 2,000 premises understood to be able to connect via such technology initially, the company has confirmed it is already in the process of rolling out FTTB technology to 6,000 homes and businesses in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, while in the long term more than one million homes and businesses across Australia will eventually be able to receive NBN services via FTTB.


Trials of the technology meanwhile were said to have seen average downlink and uplink speeds of 89Mbps and 36Mbps respectively, while the launch has been cited as ‘strong foundation’ for the introduction of fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) capability, which is expected to be launched commercially in Q3 2015.


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CA: Activists 'Shut Down' Nestlé Water Bottling Plant in Sacramento | Dan Bacher | Daily Kos

CA: Activists 'Shut Down' Nestlé Water Bottling Plant in Sacramento | Dan Bacher | Daily Kos | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Environmental and human rights activists, holding plastic “torches” and “pitchforks,” formed human barricades at both entrances to the Nestlé Waters bottling plant in Sacramento at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, March 20, effectively shutting down the company's operations for the day.

Members of the “Crunch Nestlé Alliance" shouted out a number of chants, including ”We got to fight for our right to water,” “Nestlé, Stop It, Water Not For Profit," and “¿Agua Para Quien? Para Nuestra Gente.”

The protesters stayed until about 1 pm, but there were no arrests.

Representatives of the alliance said the company is draining up to 80 million gallons of water a year from Sacramento aquifers during a record drought. They claim Sacramento City Hall has made it possible through a "corporate welfare giveaway."

“This corporate welfare giveaway is an outrage and warrants a major investigation,” Coalition spokesperson Andy Conn said. “For more than five months we have requested data on Nestlé water use. City Hall has not complied with our request, or given any indication that it will. Sacramentans deserve to know how their money is being spent and what they’re getting for it. In this case, they’re getting ripped off.”

Lola Ellis of 99 Rise Sacramento, who spoke on the bullhorn at the protest, said, “Nestlé’s bottling of water in Sacramento is unsustainable in the current state of drought. We really don’t’ know how much water they are taking from the aquifer and that is a scary thing.”

“The water needs to be used for the local community. If there is not enough water for the local community, the Nestlé corporation should not be making a profit,” she emphasized.


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UK: Doctors and academics call for ban on 'inherently risky' fracking | Karl Mathiesen | The Guardian

UK: Doctors and academics call for ban on 'inherently risky' fracking | Karl Mathiesen | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Fracking should be banned because of the impact it could have on public health, according to a prominent group of health professionals.

In a letter published by the British Medical Journal on Monday, 20 high-profile doctors, pharmacists and public health academics said the “inherently risky” industry should be prohibited in the UK.

“The arguments against fracking on public health and ecological grounds are overwhelming. There are clear grounds for adopting the precautionary principle and prohibiting fracking,” they said.

The signatories include former chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Dr Clare Gerada, chief executive of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Helen Gordon and former deputy chief medical officer Dr Sheila Adam.

The letter was prompted by a report from health charity Medact, to be released on Monday, which recommended a UK-wide moratorium be placed on fracking. Scotland has already imposed a ban on the industry pending the results of a public health impact assessment. The Department of Energy and Climate Change declined to respond to the letter.

Medact director and report co-author Dr David McCoy said fracking potentially exposes communities to leaks of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and lung disease. He also raised concerns over noise and air pollution.


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Ridiculous Ruling In Ireland Requires ISP To Kick Those Accused (Not Convicted) Of File Sharing Off The Internet | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

Ridiculous Ruling In Ireland Requires ISP To Kick Those Accused (Not Convicted) Of File Sharing Off The Internet | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

There just seems to be something about the way that some people's brains function (or not) when the word "piracy" is introduced.


Over in Ireland, there's been an incredibly long running battle over whether or not internet access providers need to kick people off the internet if they've been accused (not convicted) of file sharing three times.


Such "three strikes" rules have been put in place in a few countries, and the evidence shows that they don't work at all. Not even in the slightest. They don't slow down the rates of piracy for any extended period of time (sometimes they show a very brief drop before people figure out other ways). They certainly don't lead more people to buy content.


France, famously, led the way with the very first three strikes law, which the country has already dropped.

Over in Ireland, the fight over three strikes has been going on for nearly a decade. Back in 2008, the recording industry sued Eircom, the large Irish ISP, claiming that the company was required by law to implement a three strikes regime.


Eventually, in an effort to avoid legal costs, Eircom caved and agreed to implement a three strikes plan, but with a condition: the recording industry also had to pressure competing ISPs to implement a similar plan so that Eircom customers didn't go fleeing. The recording industry did just that.


The ISPs pushed back and seemed to be vindicated when the Irish Data Protection Commission ruled that a three strikes plan violated consumer privacy, and Irish judges found no legal basis for such rules.

Of course, the recording industry fought back, and a court flat out rejected the Data Protection Commission's findings, and insisted there wasn't any privacy issue at all with three strikes.


And, thus, we get back to the lawsuits against ISPs with a judge now ruling against ISP UPC and making some rather astounding statements in the process.


The judge, Brian Cregan, appears to have become a true believer in the myths that the recording industry is spreading, and to him "piracy" seems to justify any and all punishment, without any clear concern as to whether or not anyone's actually broken the law, or whether or not three strikes plans even work. These quotes are fairly astounding:


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LGA weaves sustainability into fabric of modern Toronto home | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com

LGA weaves sustainability into fabric of modern Toronto home | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

For many people, the idea of green living might give the impression of needing to make big changes to their lifestyle and home. A new house in Toronto, Canada, however, shows that needn't be the case. LGA's Bedford Park House is a modern home with green design embedded throughout.

LGA was actually approached to design the Bedford Park House by a cousin of Alex Tedesco, one of its senior associates. The brief required that it fit with the aesthetic of the neighborhood, protect the magnolia and Japanese maple trees on the site, be adaptable to the changing needs of a large family, and have private sections in which to live and sleep for when a family member is working unusual hours.

In addition to delivering these practical requirements, Tedesco wanted to create a healthy and sustainable home that still felt like a conventional Bedford Park residence. LGA says Tedesco took the opportunity to demonstrate how technologically-advanced green features could be woven seamlessly into the design.

The house covers an area of 3,100 sq ft (288 sq m) and is is designed to "project a warm modern appearance" without betraying its high-tech features. It was designed in such a way as to allow the trees in the garden to mature over time and so that they were framed by the views from indoors.


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Biggest shipping container restaurant in US gets ready to take its first booking | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com

Biggest shipping container restaurant in US gets ready to take its first booking | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A new restaurant due to open in the US is claimed to be the largest in the country to be built using shipping containers. The Smoky Park Supper Club in Asheville, North Carolina, is constructed from 19 containers and was built by shipping container construction firm SG Blocks.

The Smoky Park Supper Club sits on a 1.8 acre (7,284 sq m) site on the side of the French Broad River, allowing customers to arrive by car, foot, bike or boat. The site was formerly brownfield and so required a thorough clean-up operation prior to the start of construction.

SG BLocks vice president of sales and business development David Cross tells Gizmag that it takes 8,000 kWh of energy to melt down used shipping containers and only 500 kWh to reuse them for construction. He estimates that, in using shipping containers, the construction of the Smoky Park Supper Club saved a potential 142,500 kWh of energy.

In order to reuse the containers, they must first be stripped of any exterior coatings. They can then have fresh coatings applied and be prepared for installation.


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And so the Americans are preparing for the opening of their biggest shipping container restaurant. Will the Americans enjoy the ambiance the same way they do in fancy restaurants? I'm sure they will. I will definitely pay a visit next time I go there. 

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The Anthropocene Myth | Andreas Malm | Jacobin Magazine

The Anthropocene Myth |  Andreas Malm | Jacobin Magazine | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Last year was the hottest year ever recorded. And yet, the latest figures show that in 2013 the source that provided the most new energy to the world economy wasn’t solar, wind power, or even natural gas or oil, but coal.

The growth in global emissions — from 1 percent a year in the 1990s to 3 percent so far this millennium — is striking. It’s an increase that’s paralleled our growing knowledge of the terrible consequences of fossil fuel usage.

Who’s driving us toward disaster? A radical answer would be the reliance of capitalists on the extraction and use of fossil energy. Some, however, would rather identify other culprits.

The earth has now, we are told, entered “the Anthropocene”: the epoch of humanity. Enormously popular — and accepted even by many Marxist scholars — the Anthropocene concept suggests that humankind is the new geological force transforming the planet beyond recognition, chiefly by burning prodigious amounts of coal, oil, and natural gas.

According to these scholars, such degradation is the result of humans acting out their innate predispositions, the inescapable fate for a planet subjected to humanity’s “business-as-usual.” Indeed, the proponents cannot argue otherwise, for if the dynamics were of a more contingent character, the narrative of an entire species ascending to biospheric supremacy would be difficult to defend.

Their story centers on a classic element: fire. The human species alone can manipulate fire, and therefore it is the one that destroys the climate; when our ancestors learned how to set things ablaze, they lit the fuse of business-as-usual. Here, write prominent climate scientists Michael Raupach and Josep Canadell, was “the essential evolutionary trigger for the Anthropocene,” taking humanity straight to “the discovery that energy could be derived not only from detrital biotic carbon but also from detrital fossil carbon, at first from coal.”

The “primary reason” for current combustion of fossil fuels is that “long before the industrial era, a particular primate species learned how to tap the energy reserves stored in detrital carbon.” My learning to walk at the age of one is the reason for me dancing salsa today; when humanity ignited its first dead tree, it could only lead, one million years later, to burning a barrel of oil.

Or, in the words of Will Steffen, Paul J. Crutzen, and John R. McNeill: “The mastery of fire by our ancestors provided humankind with a powerful monopolistic tool unavailable to other species, that put us firmly on the long path towards the Anthropocene.” In this narrative, the fossil economy is the creation precisely of humankind, or “the fire-ape, Homo pyrophilus,” as in Mark Lynas’s popularization of Anthropocene thinking, aptly titled The God Species.

Now, the ability to manipulate fire was surely a necessary condition for the commencement of large-scale fossil fuel combustion in Britain in the early nineteenth century. Was it also the cause of it?


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British Airways notifies frequent flyers of possible breach of their accounts | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com

British Airways notifies frequent flyers of possible breach of their accounts | Lucian Constantin | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Over the last few days, a large number of British Airways customers have found that reward points they accumulated for flights, called Avios, have disappeared from their accounts. Others have been locked out of their accounts completely.

Affected users have gathered on the flyertalk.com forum to share their experiences after calling the company’s call center, which according to reports, has been giving out “contradictory” information at times.

It seems that the incident is the result of hackers gaining access to a large number of accounts.

A user posted an email message he received from British Airways’s Executive Club team saying that the company “has become aware of unauthorized activity” on his account. The Executive Club is the name of BA’s frequent flyer program.

“This appears to have been the result of a third party using information obtained elsewhere on the Internet, via an automated process, to try to gain access to your Executive Club account,” the email said. “We understand this was login information relating to a different online service which you may have also used to access your Executive Club account.”

It is not unusual for hackers to try to access user accounts on multiple services once they obtain a large database of usernames and passwords from a hacked website. That’s because many users tend to use a single email address and password to log in on different online accounts, a practice that security experts have long advised against.


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Someone hijacked the Google of China to attack anti-censorship tools | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com

Someone hijacked the Google of China to attack anti-censorship tools | Andrea Peterson | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

An unknown party hijacked widely used tools developed by Baidu, the largest search engine in China, this week in an apparent attempt to target online software used to get around Chinese censorship.

The assailants injected malicious code into the tools Baidu uses to serve ads on a wide range of Chinese Web sites and to provide analytics for Web developers, according to researchers. The code instructed the browsers of visitors to those sites to rapidly connect to other sites, but in a way that the visitors couldn't detect. That sent a flood of traffic to two anti-censorship tools offered by the group GreatFire hosted on GitHub, a popular site used by programmers to collaborate on software development. One of the tools targeted by the attack effectively allows Chinese users to access a translated version of the New York Times.

At times the attack made GitHub, which is used by programmers around the world and the U.S. government itself, unavailable for some users.

GitHub was briefly blocked inside China in 2013, but reinstated after an outcry from programmers. Because GitHub uses encryption to hide specific parts of the site, the Chinese government cannot selectively block only some of GitHub's content. But blocking the site wholesale could be damaging to China's economy because it is so widely used by the tech industry.

GreatFire reported its own site was the subject of a similar traffic flooding attack earlier this month.


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GitHub recovering from massive DDoS attacks | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com

GitHub recovering from massive DDoS attacks | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Software development platform GitHub said Sunday it was still experiencing intermittent outages from the largest cyberattack in its history but had halted most of the attack traffic.

Starting on Thursday, GitHub was hit by distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that sent large volumes of Web traffic to the site, particularly towards two Chinese anti-censorship projects hosted there.

Over the next few days, the attackers changed their DDoS tactics as GitHub defended the site, but as of Sunday, it appears the site was mostly working.


A GitHub service called Gists, which lets people post bits of code, was still affected, it said. On Twitter, GitHub said it continued to adapt its defenses.

The attacks appeared to focus specifically on two projects hosted on GitHub, according to a blogger who goes by the nickname of Anthr@X on a Chinese- and English-language computer security forum.

One project mirrors the content of The New York Times for Chinese users, and the other is run by Greatfire.org, a group that monitors websites censored by the Chinese government and develops ways for Chinese users to access banned services.


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Why the Climate Change Movement Must Demand Energy Industry Nationalization | Bruce Lesnick | Truth-Out.org

Why the Climate Change Movement Must Demand Energy Industry Nationalization | Bruce Lesnick | Truth-Out.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

"All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come."
- Victor Hugo

Ever since scientists discovered a runaway greenhouse effect on our nearest planetary neighbor, Venus, we've known that climate Armageddon is a possibility. Even though Venus is closer to the Sun than the Earth, Venus' thick cloud layer permits only one-sixth as much sunlight to reach the planet's surface. And while Mercury is nearly twice as close to the Sun as Venus, the surface on Venus is 10 percent hotter, measuring more than 864 degrees Fahrenheit. Why is Venus so hot? Its atmosphere is 97 percent carbon dioxide.

We know that human activities are adversely affecting Earth's climate. Scientists began to draw our attention to the link between fossil fuels, greenhouse gases and climate in the 1980s. Since then, the evidence for anthropogenic climate change has become overwhelming.

All that's left to debate is what to do about it.


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Satellite data reveals earthquake impact within 24 hours | Chris Wood | GizMag.com

Satellite data reveals earthquake impact within 24 hours | Chris Wood | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Researchers from the University of Iowa and United States Geographical Survey (USGS) have developed a method of using satellite and GPS data to characterize earthquake fault lines in real time, helping to deliver aid more accurately and with greater speed than current systems allow.

The key goal of the study was to create an earthquake rapid response system that didn't rely on ground-based equipment such as seismometers which, aside from their need to be physically deployed, do not produce consistent levels of detail when monitoring differing events around the globe.

The team used the magnitude 6.0 earthquake in South Napa, California on August 24, 2014 as a testbed for the new technique, utilizing satellite measurements recorded in real time. The observations were run through a mathematical equation that inverted the ground displacement data to create a 3D fault slip map.

This 3D map, which detailed the location, orientation and dimensions of the fault, was then compared with predictive models, with the team iterating the comparison process many times until the estimated ground deformation signal matched the observed data.


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Australia: Lionel Buckett's spectacular Clifftop Cave | Loz Blain | GizMag.com

Australia: Lionel Buckett's spectacular Clifftop Cave | Loz Blain | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Lionel Buckett squats barefoot on the stone outcropping that forms a natural verandah to his latest extraordinary creation. Weathered and weary with a shock of curly orange hair, he's looking out across a magnificent, pristine valley in Australia's Blue Mountains range, a view that probably hasn't changed in thousands, even hundreds of thousands of years. "It's an interesting thing with passive solar design," he muses, "that a cave facing north is probably the first passive solar building that humans ever lived in."

He'd know a thing or two about passive solar design. Buckett's company Australian Hardwood Homes was decades ahead of its time in terms of energy efficiency. "I had a company with up to about 15, 16 fellas working for about 25 years. We used to specialize in passive solar design, alternative energy systems, doing the right thing by the planet, all that sort of thing … Yeah, we won pretty well every energy award that you could for New South Wales over five or six years, and the boys in the company were master builder of the year probably 10 years ago now."


The business is long gone now, and Buckett has come into possession of the extraordinary piece of land we're now looking over – 600 acres of prime bushland that's been in his family since the 1950s.


"It's part of an original land grant from 1830 to a fella called Lt. Bowen. He came here and he had 17 convicts, and he made a road right down into that gorge, he built a dam and a water powered sawmill. The reason my father bought it was because in that rainforest was heaps of coachwood – highly valuable timber. It used to be a major industry here in the 40s and 50s for furniture. There's still heaps of it there, it's probably worth more than what the property's worth."


Rather than logging it, Buckett has decided to use the land as a canvas for his own creativity, creating a series of eco-friendly holiday cabins that showcase his imagination as well as his exceptional tradesmanship. Starting out as a carpenter, he began building his first house at 17 before qualifying as a bricklayer and builder. The woodwork in the cabins is exquisite, which makes it all the more remarkable that his latest creation uses almost no wood at all.


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Anonymous proxies now used in a fifth of DDOS attacks | Maria Korolov | CIO.com

Anonymous proxies now used in a fifth of DDOS attacks | Maria Korolov | CIO.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The number of distributed denial of service attacks using anonymous proxies has increased dramatically over the past year, according to a new research report, as attackers use these proxies to create an instant pseudo-botnet.

Ofer Gayer, security researcher at Redwood Shores, CA-based Incapsula Inc., said he first spotted the trend about a year ago.

Incapsula was working on creating a database of IP addresses spotted attempting malicious activity, and discovered that attackers were abusing anonymous proxies to turn a regular single-origin denial of service attack into a distributed denial of service attack with traffic flowing through thousands -- or tens of thousands -- different IP addresses.

A year ago, fewer than 5 percent of DDOS attacks came through anonymous proxies. Today, the number is close to 20 percent, Gayer said.

"The trend intensified over the past two months," Gayer said. "Currently, 20 percent of all application-layer attacks are originating from these proxy servers."

Of those, nearly 45 percent came from the TOR network of anonymous routers, and, of those, 60 percent used the TOR Hammer DoS tool.

On average, a single attacker would direct traffic from 1,800 different IP addresses, with 540,000 requests per instance.

According to Incapsula product evangelist Igal Zeifman, what this means is that an attacker could be sitting at home, on a single computer, and route traffic to a list of anonymous proxies to create an instant botnet-style attack.

All it takes is a proxy harvesting script and a publicly-available DOS toolkit.


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The top offshore drilling regulator during the Gulf disaster says Atlantic exploration is a bad idea | Brian Palmer | onEarth.org

The top offshore drilling regulator during the Gulf disaster says Atlantic exploration is a bad idea | Brian Palmer | onEarth.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Next month will mark five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana. Over the next 87 days, BP’s Macondo well, located more than 5,000 feet below the surface, gushed 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The accident killed 11 people, crippled the region’s fishing and tourism industries, and devastated wildlife populations.


Still, offshore drilling resumed six months later after a short moratorium, and earlier this year, President Obama proposed opening the Atlantic and parts of the Arctic to oil and gas exploration. Scientists are still studying the health and ecological impacts of the Gulf spill, considered the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Gulf residents are still feeling its consequences.

On April 20, 2010, Elizabeth Birnbaum was director of the Minerals Management Service, which made her the government’s top regulator of offshore drilling. She resigned shortly after the disaster and now works as an environmental consultant. In a conversation with Earthwire, she discusses what went wrong that day, whether it can be fixed, and if offshore drilling makes any sense in the face of climate change.


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Limiting climate change could have huge economic benefits, study finds | Arthur Neslen | The Guardian

Limiting climate change could have huge economic benefits, study finds | Arthur Neslen | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Major economies would boost their prosperity, employment levels and health prospects if they took actions that limited global warming to 2c, according to the first analysis of emissions pledges made before the UN climate summit in Paris later this year.


Europe has promised a 40% emissions cut by 2030, compared to 1990 levels – and the report says this will bring real benefits, including 70,000 full-time jobs, the prevention of around 6,000 pollution-related deaths, and a €33bn cut in fossil fuel imports.


But if emissions were slashed by around 55% – the study’s proposed route for holding global warming to two degrees – those benefits would multiply to $173bn fuel savings, 420,000 full-time clean energy jobs and 46,000 lives saved, its authors say.

31 March is the deadline for developed countries to submit their climate pledges for the conference (so called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, INDCs), but few have yet done so and nations such as Canada and Japan are expected to miss the bell.

“This report adds to the growing body of evidence that greater climate ambition means better health,” said Anne Stauffer, the deputy director of the Health and Environment Alliance.

“The massive health benefits expected from mitigation action not only include premature deaths avoided but also reduced healthcare costs and increased productivity. This should be welcome news for European decision-makers.”

In other parts of the world, the effects of increased climate ambition would be even more dramatic, according to the New Climate Institute’s (NCI) analysis which uses data from the International Energy Agency.


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UK's "first eco-town" built green from the ground up | Stu Robarts GizMag.com

UK's "first eco-town" built green from the ground up | Stu Robarts  GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

An eco-town described as the UK's "most sustainable development" is moving closer to being occupied. The first residents are expected to move into North West Bicester later this year. Planning permission has also just been granted for up to 2,600 homes in the next stage of the project.

North West Bicester (pronounced "Bister") is one of four designated eco-towns in the UK announced by the government in 2007. The aim is to create a town that is good for the environment, good for the economy and a nice place to live.

It is also one of a handful of One Planet communities around the world. The One Planet scheme was set up by sustainability charity BioRegional. It aims to find ways for people and societies to reduce their level of consumption to an extent that is sustainable based on the amount of resources that the planet can provide.

In addition to homes that are highly sustainable, North West Bicester will offer a mix of affordable housing. Homes will be built to a minimum standard of code level 4 for Sustainable Homes and Sustainable Homes and BREEAM excellence. Residents will be able to access a community hub via mobile devices that will allows them to check car club availability, monitor energy usage and prices, check public transport information and communicate with other residents. Homes will also be future-proofed with climate change adaptation in mind.


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"Metallic grass" puts the heat on steam turbines | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com

"Metallic grass" puts the heat on steam turbines | Dario Borghino | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Researchers at at Drexel University have developed a metallic nanocoating derived from a virus of the tobacco plant that could lead to more efficient steam production, improving the performance of steam turbines, air conditioning and electronics cooling systems.

Water’s transition from liquid to gas has plenty of applications beyond the kitchen: water treatment plants, heating and AC systems, and the steam turbines that we use to produce electricity are all heavily dependent on this process. Making this transition even slightly more efficient than it is now could therefore have quite a big impact on our energy outlook.

The promise of such a breakthrough comes from an unexpected source – a virus common to tobacco plants. The tobacco mosaic virus was the very first virus to be identified, back in 1930, and has been studied in detail since then. It’s a simple organism that consists of a single strand of RNA surrounded by a dense network of coating proteins. Today, scientists think that this layout is ideal for building self-assembling nanostructures.


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Driverless cars poised to transform automotive industry | MINING.com

Driverless cars poised to transform automotive industry | MINING.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The newest Mercedes autonomous car looks like a car on the outside but like a lounge on the inside, with four swivel seats facing each other in a multimedia bubble of padded leather and walnut veneer.

The F 015 'Luxury in Motion' concept car unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year is completely self-driving but still has a steering wheel and brake if you want to swivel around and drive it manually.

Daimler, the maker of Mercedes and inventor of the original automobile, wants to be among the first to re-invent the car, CEO Dieter Zetsche said at the CES, which he says will become more than just a means of transport and will turn into a mobile living space.

German rival Audi, Tesla, Google and a number of other companies are working on their own versions of driverless cars, fulfilling the forecasts that they will be a reality on the roads perhaps as soon as the end of this decade.

In fact, all the technology needed for a self-driving car exists already. Current features like adaptive cruise control and self-parking preview what a fully autonomous car can do.

It is likelier to be legal and liability issues that slow down actual deployment. That and social acceptance of such a radical change could dampen the trend more than a lack of technology.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a recent interview, however, that the change in thinking could be no different than the shift from elevators manned by operators to today's completely automatic elevators.

There is little question that driverless cars will improve fuel economies not only because they smooth out the braking and accelerating of human drivers, but also because they improve traffic flow by finding optimal routes and mitigating congestion. The lower accident rate will mean fewer traffic jams from that cause as well.

Also, there will be fewer cars on the road because a single driverless car per family can take both parents to work, drop the kids off at school, pick them up afterwards and obviate the need for the two or three-car family.

A recent study from the University of Michigan suggests, however, that overall fuel consumption could increase because the cars on the road will get a lot more use. But of course that can be balanced out by greater reliance on non-fossil fuel energy to power the cars.


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Cyprus: Cyta is planning to launch 4G network with nationwide coverage | TeleGeography.com

Cypriot state-owned operator Cyta has disclosed that it is currently in the process of deploying its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. The cellco revealed that it had selected an equipment contractor in November 2014 and is now building a 4G network with nationwide coverage, while also upgrading and modernising its mobile infrastructure.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, Cyta’s rivals MTN and PrimeTel launched 4G services earlier this month. MTN’s LTE network, which provides average downlink/uplink speeds of 40Mbps/14Mbps, is currently available in Nicosia, Larnaca, Limassol, Famagusta and Paphos, while PrimeTel claims 4G LTE population coverage of 50%.

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Growth without reform can never be achieved | Khaled Almaeena | Al Arabiya News

Growth without reform can never be achieved | Khaled Almaeena | Al Arabiya News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

All over the world, we see huge movements of young men and women across all levels of society. They have made their mark and impact on education, politics, economics, banking and sports. Add to that the entertainment industry.

Achievers in various arenas are moving fearlessly and impacting lives and changing the course of history. There is a generational transformation. Ambitious, dedicated and qualified young people are entering the job market and pushing for change. Their unrestricted, unconventional philosophy and out-of-the-ordinary approach is helping society to change. This modernizing attitude and flair has also affected the bureaucracy.

All this is good and we should learn from societies that are far ahead of us and in a state of continuous development. However, to do that we should have a society based on the principles of education, employment and empowerment. As long as our educational institutions are churning out parrots we will not make any headway!

"As long as we believe that we have the right to a job because of our nationality, the goal of producing and gaining will not materialize"


Khaled Almaeena

As long as we do not have a meritocratic society and the love of excellence, we cannot progress. As long as we believe that we have the right to a job because of our nationality, the goal of producing and gaining will not materialize.

So how can we produce future leaders in all levels of society?


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IL: Nation’s biggest nuclear firm makes a play for green energy money | Ray Henry | Bradenton Herald

IL: Nation’s biggest nuclear firm makes a play for green energy money | Ray Henry | Bradenton Herald | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The biggest player in the beleaguered nuclear power industry wants a place alongside solar, wind and hydroelectric power collecting extra money for producing carbon-free electricity.

Exelon Corp., operator of the largest fleet of U.S. nuclear plants, says it could have to close three of them if Illinois rejects the company’s pitch to let it recoup more from consumers since the plants do not produce greenhouse gases.

Chicago-based Exelon essentially wants to change the rules of the state’s power market as the nuclear industry competes with historically low prices for natural gas. Dominion Resources Inc. recently closed the Kewaunee Power Station in Wisconsin for financial reasons, and Entergy Corp. likewise shuttered its Vermont Yankee plant.

Plans for a new wave of U.S. nuclear plants have been delayed or cancelled, aside from three projects deep into construction at Plant Vogtle south of Augusta, Georgia; V.C. Summer Nuclear Station north of Columbia, South Carolina; and Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in eastern Tennessee. Electric utilities in those states do not face competition.

Nuclear plants provide about 97 percent of the electricity supply in Exelon’s Midwest market, according to company filings.

“We’re not looking for a bailout from market conditions,” said Joseph Dominguez, executive vice president for governmental and regulatory affairs at Exelon. “We are looking for policy support that every other technology receives in Illinois that produces zero-carbon electricity with the exception of nuclear.”


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It hit 63 degrees in Antarctica on Tuesday | Reem Nasr | CNBC.com

It hit 63 degrees in Antarctica on Tuesday | Reem Nasr | CNBC.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Antarctica may have experienced its warmest day ever recorded on Tuesday, with the temperature reading of 63.5°F, reports The Weather Underground.

Tuesday's record high temperature follows another high reading of 63.3°F set just the day before. Until this week's heat wave, the highest-known recorded temperature on the continent was 62.6°F back in 1976.

The Antarctic Peninsula where the readings were made "is one of the fastest warming spots on Earth," reports The Weather Undergound. The website cites studies from 2012 that show the world is warming at a quickening pace.

Five nations and territories have tied or hit all-time high temperature records so far this year.


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