Round up for Feb 27, ’17

In startup news, the Lebanon is on fire. Flat6Labs’ Beirut chapter during, Arabnet Beirut, was accepting applications for a local fund worth $20M. They wish to partner with many startups in Lebanon as they feel the environment there is really fertile for startups and is actually growing very rapidly. UK Lebanon Tech Hub announced their $3.1B fund (yes, billion). They want to build a research center though. Much more here.


In security news, researchers have been able to build two different PDF files that have the same SHA-1 hash. This is serious stuff, although the computations necessary for this achievement are large, hardware is only getting faster and faster. It will only be a matter of time before replicating SHA-1s for different content becomes feasible for the determined hacker in his/her basement. A WebKit repository was corrupted very soon after when proof of concept PDFs were uploaded to it.

Also in security news, it seems that in Java, the built-in FTP client doesn’t stick to it’s boundaries. “‘… it turns out that the built-in implementation of the FTP client in Java doesn’t filter out special CR (carriage return) and LF (line feed) characters from URLs and actually interprets them.'” security researcher Alexander Klink said adding that “‘By inserting such characters in the user or password portions of an FTP URL, the Java FTP client can be tricked to execute rogue commands and can even be tricked to speak SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) because the syntax for SMTP and FTP is similar.'” More here.


In console news, there is a bill proposed in quite a few US state legislatures that wants to give right-to-repair to customers of electronic devices. Sounds awkward but bear with us. If you buy a Playstation 3 and the optical drive fails, you don’t have to sent it to an authorizes repair establishment or back to Sony. These bills are geared towards allowing third party repair establishments the rights to access the necessary diagnostic and repair information as well at spare parts even for your device. This means manufacturers will lose a big chunk of the revenue they do get when they charge the customer $200 flat rate for any repair (for example) even if the failed component actually costs $1 from the component manufacturer and lets say $30 labor. Game console companies are very worried and are lobbying hard for this (these?) bill(s) not to pass. More here.


In science news, the BBC has a piece on how some US researchers have found that during animal experiments, a diabetic pancreas could regenerate through a type of fasting diet. The diet was not exactly fasting but fast-mimicking where 5 days were low-carb, low-protein, low-calorie and high unsat-fat, then 25 all you can eat bonanza. Details here.

The Guardian, has a piece on 7 exoplanets that maybe Earth-like.
However, this description is reliant on traits most of which are very un-earth like. The only directly comparable feature is the size, they range from %25 smaller, to %10 larger than Earth. The rest are very different but favoring Earth-like conditions on their surfaces (theoretically). The system (indeed dubbed a solar system), is centered by an ultra-cool dwarf star that is slightly larger then our Jupiter and much fainter than our Sun.
So what’s the deal then? The whole system is very compact, the 7 Earth-comparable sized planets are so close to their Sun (called Trappist-1) they lie in its habitable zone. Largest orbit? Closer than Mercury’s to our Sun. Longest year (time to full orbit)? 22 days, give or take.

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