CERN Releases 300TB of LHC Data to the World

Do you remember the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) run by CERN? The device that people feared would create a black hole? In a move that’s rarely done, the organisation has now released terabytes of data onto the web for everyone to use.

The large release is explained by Kati Lassila-Perini, a physicist working on the Compact Muon Solenoid detector, who explained the data release simply by saying “Once we’ve exhausted our exploration of the data, we see no reason not to make them available publicly”. That simple, they’ve done what they can with the data and they want to see what others can do, hoping that it can benefit others by “inspiring high school students to the training of the particle physicists of tomorrow”.

If you want to view the data it’s easy enough to get your hands on from here, but CERN has also provided a bunch of tools to help you analyse the data (both raw data from the detectors within the LHC and the datasets they created). Not stopping there they’ve even provided a custom CERN Linux environment ready for use on a virtual machine, alongside scripts and apps that you can find on Github.

While the data is from 2011, that doesn’t stop it being amazing information that normally you could only read in press releases and journals. So who is going to study the universe and particles this weekend?

While The Last One Was A Hoax 123-reg Has Actually Deleted People’s Websites

A few days ago we reported on the fact that a company had apparently deleted itself, news which later turned out to be a hoax as part of a bad marketing scheme. For people who used 123-reg, a website hosting company in the UK, the joke may be on them as the company has actually deleted people’s websites.

123-reg has around 800,000 customers within the UK, hosting around 1.7 million sites, said that similar to the hoax, an error was made during “maintenance”, resulting in data from one of their servers being deleted.

The firm issued a statement saying that the company they were working on “restoring … packages using data recovery tools”, a process that is slow and not always effective, as people noted to the previous hoax. 123-reg has recommended that those with backups of their sites should use them to rebuild their sites, as the company itself didn’t have backups of the customers sites.

While the fault is reported to have only affected “67 out of 115,000” servers, it was caused by an automated script. An audit of 123-reg’s scripts is now being conducted and any deletion will now require human approval in the future, something that I’m sure the many companies that have lost business because of this blunder are less than comforted by.

The Company Deleted by One Line of Code Was a Hoax!

Yesterday we reported that a man had mistakenly deleted his entire company using just one line of faulty code. Now it turns out that the entire thing appears to have been made up by the poster as a publicity stunt.

Marco Marsala posted on the Server Fault forums asking for help earlier this week, explaining that his careless use of the “rm -rf” command in Unix had caused him to accidentally delete the contents of all of his servers, including the backups. The story became incredibly popular online and was reported by a number of major news sources as well as garnering a large number of responses to his original post, with a variety of sympathy, pity, and derision.

On Friday, the post was deleted by Stack Overflow, the parent forum of Server Fault and later a post made by a moderator, Sven, brought to light that the story was, in fact, a hoax. The poster, Sven, a Server Fault moderator, pointed to an Italian news report that detailed that the story was part of a marketing stunt by Marsala in order to promote his company and gain visibility. Marsala told the paper that the whole thing was “just a joke”. A statement by Stack Overflow revealed they did not find it quite as funny, saying “The moderators on Server Fault have been in contact with the author about this, and as you can imagine, they’re not particularly amused by it.”

In many ways, it could be surprising how many people believed the story, especially on a forum populated almost entirely by those knowledgeable in technology. It is yet to be decided how Server Fault will deal with the hoax topic, with Sven currently allowing the community in question to decide its fate.

One Line of Code Accidentally Deletes Entire Company

As far as code mistakes go, few can claim that their careless coding practices caused the deletion of their entire company. Marco Marsala ran a small web hosting company that carried the websites of a number of clients until he unwittingly instructed the servers to delete their entire contents, effectively wiping out his business and the websites of his clients.

In response to the tragedy that befell his servers, Marsala took to the Server Fault forum to explain his plight and perhaps hope that some of the forum’s denizens would be able to help him with his predicament. Instead of help, most of the advice he received simply informed him that the chance he had forever deleted his company was high and his code had completely destroyed both his own data and that of his clients.

I run a small hosting provider with more or less 1535 customers and I use Ansible to automate some operations to be run on all servers. Last night I accidentally ran, on all servers, a Bash script with a rm -rf {foo}/{bar} with those variables undefined due to a bug in the code above this line.

The reason why Marsala lost all of his data stems from his use of the “rm -rf” command, which can be broken down to “rm”, removing files, “-r” meaning it will delete recursively into every subfolder and “-f” for force, meaning no warning will be given. Due to the two variables surrounding the / being empty, this caused the system to delete from the root directory, essentially wiping out everything on the machine. To make matters worse, while he had taken backups, the backup devices had been mounted just before the erroneous script ran, causing them to also be wiped.

Responses to Marsala’s post ranged from pity to insulting, however, all agreed that the data on the servers was almost certainly gone for good with no recovery. Most focused on pointing out the mistakes he had made, instead of being able to offer him any help, “This is not bad luck: it’s astonishingly bad design reinforced by complete carelessness” wrote user Massimo.

For Marsala, there doesn’t look to be a good end to this story. There are very few options open to him that would allow the data to be recovered and even those, such as contacting professional data recovery experts, are expensive, time-consuming and have no guarantee of success. This should serve as a cautionary tale for those wishing to start their own online businesses to be very careful over what you run on your servers and the care you take of your backups.

Hacker Who Created Fake Game Listing On Steam Says More Vulnerabilities Will Be Found

Earlier this week Ruby Nealon became famous on the internet for managing to get a game onto Valve’s steam store without anyone at Valve even knowing about it. The Watch paint dry game raised concerns about the system Valve has in place when it comes to Steams content, with him saying that more vulnerabilities will be found on the platform.

Nealon states that it was an HTML-based attack that let him post the game without anyone at Valve approving or even seeing the game before it went live. With this exploit noted and fixed, Nealon went on to point out a way of inserting scripts into pages, potentially taking details from a Valve administrator who wanted to check out their games page. This second exploit was then fixed, although Nealon doesn’t seem too impressed with Steam’s website.

In discussions with ArsTechnica, Nealon told them that “it looks like their website hasn’t been updated for years” and even went on to say that “Compared to even other smaller Web startups, they’re really lacking. This stuff was like the lowest of the lowest hanging fruit.”.

Nealon wasn’t just upset with the website, though, saying that he won’t be hacking Steam’s platform anymore due to a lack of recognition from Valve on the matter. Nealon wrote on his site saying that the exploit he used for posting the “watching paint dry” game he had tried to contact Valve for months about, but it was only fixed when he publicly demonstrated its viability.

Nealon isn’t happy with Valve’s lack of a bug bounty system, a program where users are rewarded for alerting the company about bugs and issues in their software, something that even apps like Uber have started in recent weeks. In his “won’t be finding bugs anymore for Valve because there are plenty of companies that appreciate the time and effort put in by security researchers” and even went on to explain how the entire process had made him feel like “Valve were exploiting me”.

Steam isn’t a service that’s immune to hacks either, last year it was hacked and allowed people to bypass the two-factor authentication required to log into an account from a new machine. They’ve even accidentally exposed users details before, no external help required for that blunder.

Personally, I feel like anyone who puts time and effort into finding a problem and then revealing it to a company should be rewarded, not brushed under a matt and ignored until it becomes an issue the public are aware of.

Witcher 3 Gets Mod Support With New Tool

Those of you who were eagerly awaiting to mod CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3 should be interested in this. The developer has announced that it released a new tool, named ModKit, which grants you everything you need to mod the title as you see fit.

ModKit seems to come with a lot of options, from modding the appearance of in-game objects with texture import and export, to making your own scripts and fiddle with the gameplay mechanics. I haven’t modded anything in a long time, but the tools given here are almost everything you need to change the whole game. If we are to talk about something more complex than this, we are already talking about a fully fledged game engine development kit.

However, ModKit is not an actual mod editor or game engine, but a set of tools to get you started. But with all these options and features offered, I think more experienced modders will surprise us with their craftsmanship in no time. I personally can’t wait for the first one to be released!

You can download ModKit from here, but we also want to hear about what you think. Are you excited for the upcoming mods? Will you test your skills too? Let us know!

Thank you Tech Report for providing us with this information

Nitrous-powered Engine – Star Swarm Benchmark – Released on Steam

For those of you who want to try out how well AMD’s Mantle works, it seems that you are going to like this. The Star Swarm Demo has been released and is available on Steam to be downloaded and stress out your Radeon graphics cards (but not too fast, what about the drivers?).

The Star Swarm Demo is a tech benchmark to showcase the demands of a next generation of real-time strategy. It has the capability to have about 10,000 units on-screen at any given point, all with their respective AIs, Path Finding, Threat Assessment and Physics. Needless to say that this demo is very CPU Intensive. It is here that the Raw Power of AMD’s Mantle is apparent.

Due to its intense CPU and GPU co-operation for a greater increase in efficiency, a fully CPU Bound scenario can get you an uplift of 319%! (Thats unheard off without a hardware update). The performance numbers shared by AMD consists of a 319% increase at 1080p and 281% increase at 1600p, both scenarios set to ‘Extreme’ settings with the AMD A10-7700K and an AMD Radeon R9 290X.

Unfortunately, we cannot just download the benchmark and start testing right now due to the fact that AMD hasn’t yet officially released the Mantle Drivers. However, the bit of good news comes from the Nitrous Engine powering the Star Swam demo. What makes it the best benchmark so far is the battle itself, which is not scripted. It uses mathematical computation and AI recognition – reaction when everything in motion, therefore no benchmark will output the same results. Every battle is unique in its own way, hence different results will be generated every time it runs.

You can download the benchmark from here. Now what we all need to do is wait for AMD to ‘finally’ release the Mantle Drivers.

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of WCCF