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Updated: 2016-09-16

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On what medium do you read most?

  • Paper
  • eBook reader
  • Phone or tablet
  • Traditional computer's screen
  • Tea leaves
  • My medium reads me
  • Other (please specify)

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:57 | Votes:261

posted by martyb on Wednesday September 28, @11:26PM   Printer-friendly
from the is-it-okay-if-they-pay-me? dept.

While waiting for ten minutes on "hold" to make an appointment with my local branch of Scotiabank, I had time read through the new "Digital Services Agreement. Most of the eighteen pages were unremarkable, but a couple of things stood out.

When you click "Accept", you are agreeing to not give your password to police if they ask!

You are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality and safekeeping of your Card, Card Number, Username, and Electronic Signature. ... These responsibilities include:

  - not voluntarily disclosing your Electronic Signature to anyone else at any time, including any family member, friend, law enforcement agency, or financial institution employee;

You're also agreeing to not use "public" wifi:

(These responsibilities include:) using your own private wireless data connection, and avoiding use of public Wi-Fi services, when you are using the Digital Services;

This of course is from a bank that still refuses to allow Uppercase letters or Special characters in a password.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday September 28, @09:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the putting-it-all-together dept.

A new mitochondrial donation technique called spindle nuclear transfer has been successfully used in order to prevent a child from inheriting a mitochondrial disorder:

It's not the first time scientists have created babies that have DNA from three people - that breakthrough began in the late 1990s - but it is an entirely new and significant method. [...] The US team, who travelled to Mexico to carry out the procedure because there are no laws there that prohibit it, used a method that takes all the vital DNA from the mother's egg plus healthy mitochondria from a donor egg to create a healthy new egg that can be fertilised with the father's sperm.

[...] Some have questioned whether we are only now hearing the success story while failed attempts could have gone unreported. Prof Alison Murdoch, part of the team at Newcastle University that has been at the forefront of three person IVF work in the UK, said: "The translation of mitochondrial donation to a clinical procedure is not a race but a goal to be achieved with caution to ensure both safety and reproducibility." Critics say the work is irresponsible. Dr David King from the pro-choice group Human Genetics Alert, said: "It is outrageous that they simply ignored the cautious approach of US regulators and went to Mexico, because they think they know better. Since when is a simplistic "to save lives is the ethical thing to do" a balanced medical ethics approach, especially when no lives were being saved?" Dr Zhang and his team say they will answer these questions when they presents[sic] their findings at a meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in October.

Also at The New York Times and NPR.

First live birth using human oocytes reconstituted by spindle nuclear transfer for mitochondrial DNA mutation causing Leigh syndrome (open, DOI: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.08.004) (DX)

As far as I can tell, what you see in the above Fertility and Sterility paper is all that has been released.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday September 28, @08:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the get-connected dept.

I came across an article a few hours ago,

I was wondering how much of all that makes sense. It seems to put a lot of focus on the virtual buzz that exists today everywhere and it seems to be being pushed in networking as well. While I don't mind this being implemented by those who want to, I am a bit of a fanboy of the saying "Hardware is King". All this "IT as a service" doesn't seem to have much sense unless one defines what IT is. It may range from just a shared printer, to an entire rack full of servers and switches, to an entire floor full of them. Virtualised WANs and the notion of a 'WAN as a service' could be easy as a breeze to be managed, but how robust could they be? While performance needs at the network level always go up, how does this relate to virtualizing that in itself, transforming it into yet another layer down the stack? A layer which encapsulates all the other layers and which in turn may contain such a layer too. How deep would the nesting level go?

From the article:

"In the network, NFV [Network Functions Virtualization] allows routers, switches, firewalls, load balancers, content delivery systems, end-user devices, IMS [IP Multimedia Subsystem] Nodes, and almost any other network function to be run as software on virtual machines—ultimately, on shared servers, using shared storage," Honnachari explained in an executive brief.

Basically it is the promise of being able to draw a network in a CAD-like software, and push a "Run" button.

Then there is also:

In a world where every part of business is moving, ever faster, the new WAN era will be characterized by user-intuitive solutions that help businesses sense and adapt to shifting demands, allowing those businesses to achieve competitive advantage by helping them optimize their business in motion.

What could be these shifting demands to change your mind often about the WAN infrastructure on which many other things depend on? The virtual network of the International Stock Exchange traffic, anyone?

Like someone else mentioned, would any Soylentils enjoy playing "The Sims: NOC Edition"?

Software-Defined Networking is Dangerously Sniffable [
AT&T Open Sources SDN 8.5 Million Lines of Code - to be Managed by Linux Foundation [updated]

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Wednesday September 28, @06:27PM   Printer-friendly
from the bigger-beer-is-better-beer dept.

The takeover of SAB Miller by AB InBev has been approved by shareholders (with an increase in the price due to Brexit) and regulators:

Budweiser owner Anheuser-Busch InBev's £79bn takeover of rival SAB Miller is set to go ahead after the shareholders of both firms approved the mega-deal. The deal is expected to be completed on 10 October and will create the world's largest beer firm. Global regulators have already approved the deal, which AB InBev says will create "the first truly global brewer".

The enlarged group - which will produce almost a third of the world's beer - will take the AB InBev name. The deal was agreed last year, but in July AB InBev was forced to raise its offer following a fall in the pound in the wake of the Brexit vote. AB InBev increased its offer by £1 a share to £45 a share. [...] The takeover is expected to boost AB InBev's prospects in developing markets in Africa and China, where a SABMiller joint venture produces Snow, the world's best selling beer by volume.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday September 28, @04:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the BIG-plans dept.

Here it is, the grand plan for the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) as presented yesterday at the the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico:

On Tuesday (Sept. 27), Musk unveiled SpaceX's planned Interplanetary Transport System (ITS), a rocket-spaceship combo that the billionaire entrepreneur hopes will allow humanity to establish a permanent, self-sustaining, million-person settlement on the Red Planet. Mars is the first planned stop for ITS, but it may not be the last. "This system really gives you freedom to go anywhere you want in the greater solar system," Musk said Tuesday at the International Astronautical Congress meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico. With the aid of strategically placed refueling depots, "you could actually travel out to the Kuiper Belt [and] the Oort Cloud," Musk added. The Kuiper Belt is Pluto's neck of the woods, while the Oort Cloud, the realm of comets, is even more distant; it begins about 2,000 astronomical units (AU) from the sun.

[...] The ITS booster will be the most powerful rocket ever built, capable of lofting 300 tons to low-Earth orbit (LEO) in its reusable version and 550 tons in its expendable variant, Musk said. This rocket will blast the spaceship, which will carry at least 100 people, to LEO, where further launches will fuel the smaller vehicle. When the time is right — Earth and Mars align favorably for interplanetary missions just once every 26 months — a fleet of these spaceships will depart from LEO, arriving at the Red Planet in as little as 80 days, Musk said. The ITS — both the rocket and spaceship — will be powered by SpaceX's Raptor engines, which run on a combination of methane and oxygen. Both of these ingredients can be manufactured on Mars and other places in the solar system, Musk said, meaning that the spaceship can and will be refueled far from Earth.

[...] The ITS spaceship could therefore go very far afield, provided it could access refueling stations along the way. "By establishing a propellant depot in the asteroid belt or one of the moons of Jupiter, you can make flights from Mars to Jupiter no problem," Musk said. "It'd be really great to do a mission to Europa, particularly," he added, referring to the ocean-harboring Jovian moon, which many astrobiologists regard as one of the solar system's best bets to host alien life. Building additional depots farther from the sun — perhaps on Saturn's moon Titan and Pluto, for example — could theoretically extend the ITS spaceship's reach all the way out to the Oort Cloud, Musk said. "This basic system, provided we have filling stations along the way, means full access to the entire greater solar system," he said.

The first Mars ferry will be named "Heart of Gold". Unfortunately, these bold settlers will have to be kept away from potential microbial life.

Additional Coverage:
Making Humans an Interplanetary Species - Video of Musk Presentation at IAC [1h4m46s]
Same, but with Q&A session [1h58m22s]
Making Humans an Interplanetary Species - Slides of Presentation at IAC (pdf)
SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System - Video mockup presented at IAC [4m21s]
SpaceX - Mars
Musk’s Mars moment: Audacity, madness, brilliance—or maybe all three story at Ars Technica
Elon Musk envisions 'fun' but dangerous trips to Mars (Update 4) at

Previous coverage:
SpaceX's Mars Colonial Transporter Becomes the "Interplanetary Transport System"

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday September 28, @03:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the blackberry-sends-a-'raspberry' dept.

BlackBerry is done with internal hardware development:

BlackBerry says it plans to end all internal hardware development — signalling a strategic shift for a company that built its reputation on innovative smartphone technology created at its base in Waterloo, Ont. [...] The company reported a net loss of $372 million US, or 71 cents a share, on revenue of $334 million.

BlackBerry will "outsource that function to partners":

The Canadian company said on Wednesday that it will shut down its own phone business after the failure of its latest bid to use Google's Android software to stimulate interest. Instead, it will rely on others to design and build the devices to save on capital. "The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners," CEO John Chen said in a statement.

The decision closes a significant chapter in one of the most storied franchises in phone history. BlackBerry was among the high flyers in the early days of the mobile phones. Legions of "CrackBerry" addicts in the white-collar work force tapped away at its trademark physical keys in the early 2000s.

[...] In 2013, CEO John Chen came into BlackBerry with a mission to transform the company, focusing more on software and services. At the same time, he had to keep a foot in the phone business, which still generated a significant chunk of the company's revenue. Even in the most recent quarter, it accounted for 30 percent of its revenue. But Chen has always been lukewarm about the phone business. He has said on multiple occasions that he would drop out of phones if that business couldn't generate a profit, which many took as a warning. He also never felt entirely comfortable as a pitchman for the devices. In July, he didn't bother to show up at the unveiling of its Android-powered DTEK 50 phone.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday September 28, @01:37PM   Printer-friendly
from the From-Russia-with-Love dept.

Another investigation has pointed towards Russia as the culprit behind the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014:

"Based on the criminal investigation, we have concluded that flight MH17 was downed by a Buk missile of the series 9M83 that came from the territory of the Russian Federation," chief Dutch police investigator Wilbert Paulissen said. The missile launcher was later taken back to Russia, he said. An inquiry by the Dutch Safety Board last year found that a Russian-made Buk missile hit the plane but did not say where it was fired from. The JIT investigation's findings are meant to prepare the ground for a criminal trial but suspects will not be named.

Prosecutors played recordings from intercepted phone calls during their news conference. They said witnesses reported seeing the missile launcher move from Russia into Ukraine and presented pictures and videos. The launch site was pinpointed by "many witnesses", prosecutors said. [...] Earlier this week, Russia said it had radar data showing that the missile was not fired from rebel-held territory. The JIT does not yet have access to that data, prosecutors said.

Also at Reuters.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 28, @12:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the I've-found-the-job-for-me! dept.

Aeon has an article by André Spicer, a professor of organisational behaviour at the University of London, on the reasons why firms which claim to hire the smartest people spend most of the time discouraging them from thinking.

We have spoken with hundreds of people working for engineering firms, government departments, universities, banks, the media and pharmaceutical companies. We started out thinking it is likely to be the smartest who got ahead. But we discovered this wasn't the case.

Organisations hire smart people, but then positively encourage them not to use their intelligence. Asking difficult questions or thinking in greater depth is seen as a dangerous waste. Talented employees quickly learn to use their significant intellectual gifts only in the most narrow and myopic ways.

Those who learn how to switch off their brains are rewarded.

The article covers a variety of workplace behaviours, and is based on his book (co-authored with Lund University Professor Mats Alvesson), The Stupidity Paradox: The Power and Pitfalls of Functional Stupidity at Work.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 28, @10:29AM   Printer-friendly
from the part-time-pilots dept.

Uber is researching how to offer customers short-haul flights on vertical-takeoff aircraft in future, the ride-hailing company's Product Head Jeff Holden told a a[sic] Recode reporter on stage at the Nantucket Conference on Sunday.

[...] Vertical-takeoff and landing aircraft have multiple rotors and fixed wings that allow them to conduct controlled ascents and descents like a helicopter, but fly like more like a plane. Holden's vision is that they would takeoff and land on top of buildings throughout a city, transporting multiple passengers on short-haul flights.

Uber declined to comment further on Holden's remarks.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 28, @08:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the pedal-faster! dept.

The International Human Powered Vehicle Assn. hosts speed championships at Battle Mountain, Nevada every year. This year the top speed was recorded by Todd Reichert pedaling AeroVelo -- a recumbent bicycle with a very low air drag fairing. He first broke his old top speed with a new record of 88.26 mph (142.04 kph) and then backed it up later with 89.59 mph (144.17 kph).

Results from this year's event:

IHPVA rules for the 200 Meter Flying Start Speed Trial were written around 1970 when the club used Ontario Motor Speedway (now a shopping mall) for top speed runs. As such the rules allow the course to include a tiny down grade (2/3 % grade -- 8 inches in 100 feet or 2/3meter in 100 meters) which matched the slope at OMS. Since the human engine is only good for one or two full out sprints per day, records only require a single run (unlike car records which require a return run on the same course). Windspeed is also regulated to minimize any tailwind or sailing assistance.

In the 1980s a road outside Battle Mountain was identified as a good course -- at high altitude for low drag and with a legal amount of down grade. Since then the Nevada highway department has joined the fun by paving that stretch of highway with very smooth pavement and leaving out the noise bumps along the side of the road (which would destroy high pressure bike tires). During the event the road is closed for a few hours every morning and evening when the wind is at a minimum.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 28, @07:18AM   Printer-friendly
from the return-of-mr-fixit dept.

How often have you taken a gadget or a pair of shoes in for repair and found out that fixing it will cost more than buying a new version? Too often, that's how often. And Sweden is trying to fix this, by halving the tax paid on repairs and increasing taxes on unrepairable items.

The new proposals come from the ruling coalition of the Social Democrat and Green parties, and, if successfully enacted, would be accompanied by a publicity campaign to encourage Swedes to repair products instead of replacing them.

"If we want to solve the problems of sustainability and the environment we have to work on consumption," Sweden's finance and consumption minister Per Bolund told The Local . "One area we are really looking at is so-called 'nudging.' That means, through various methods, making it easier for people to do the right thing." Nudging might involve clearer signage to reach the recycling station, for example.

The proposed legislation would cut regular tax on repairs of bikes, clothes, and shoes from 25% to 12%. Swedes would also be able to claim half the labor cost of appliance repairs (refrigerators, washing machines and other white goods) from their income tax. Together, these tax cuts are expected to cost the country around $54 million per year. This will be more than paid for by the estimated $233 million brought in by a new "chemical tax," which would tax the resources that go into making new goods and computers.

In 2015, France passed a law requiring manufacturers to label products with information about how long spares will be available, and also requires free repair or replacement for the first two years of the product's life.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 28, @05:46AM   Printer-friendly
from the never-give-up dept.

El Reg reports

Jesse Worley said he'd received a cheque for $650 from Microsoft--seen by The Register--which he told us he'd received after threatening the giant with court action over an unwanted Windows 10 upgrade.

Tech consultant Worley sought payment from the vendor for the 10 hours it took to rebuild his grandfather's custom-build PC, re-installing Windows 7 to resemble Windows XP, in order to banish Windows 10.

[...] "Had Microsoft not gone out of their way to be deceptive, my grandfather pretty clearly wouldn't have been updated to Windows 10", he said.

"They interrupted the basic functions of their own software--the X button--in an attempt to fool people into updating, so any affirmative consent he or anyone else may have given for the update can't be considered valid during that period."

[...] Worley had built the PC 10 years ago when his grandfather was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The build was designed to resemble Windows XP, which his relative had used while at work and was therefore familiar with.

[...] Worley was seeking $650 for the 10 hours he'd had to spend rebuilding the PC. He had tried a rollback but that failed, and he was forced to rebuild the installation with a boot drive, as the system lacked a CD.

[...] Worley has now encouraged other customers to take action through the small claims system if they, too, got Windows 10 without wanting it.

Previous: Upset with Automated Windows 10 Upgrade, Californian Takes Microsoft to Court... and Wins

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday September 28, @04:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the palemoon? dept.

With the release of Firefox 53 in March 2017, Mozilla plans to end mainline support for the Microsoft operating systems Windows XP and Windows Vista. This means that Firefox 52 will be the last update for those operating systems.

Mozilla explicitly mentions installations that it plans to block. It is unclear whether it plans to block execution of portable versions of Firefox as well. To extend support, they plan to migrate XP/Vista users to Firefox ESR automatically.

On Bugzilla, bug 1305453 lists the plan to stop stand-alone Firefox 53+ installers from installing Firefox on XP or Vista machines...

"We plan to eol XP/Vista by first moving those users out to ESR 52. Once 52 merges to aurora, we should land changes to the stand alone installer to prevent install by XP and Vista users. Initially there shouldn't be an issue with running but eventually we'll import a system dependency that will break browser startup."

Another bug, bug 1303827, highlights Mozilla's plan to move XP users to Firefox's ESR branch when version 52 gets released. Firefox 51 is therefore the last version of the browser that is not ESR.

Are there any Soylentils who still run Firefox on one of these OS's? What are you planning to do? Have you considered swapping to another browser? If so, which one(s)?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday September 28, @02:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the Palantir-presents-possible-problems-picking-promotions-—-project-positivity dept.

Silicon Valley firm Palantir Technologies is being sued by the US government over alleged "systematic" discrimination against Asian applicants and members of staff.

A lawsuit has been filed which alleges that the firm has used discriminatory recruitment procedures since 2010.

The US Department of Labor is seeking compensation for those affected, including lost wages and promotions.

Palantir Technologies said it "firmly denied" the allegations.

"We are disappointed that the Department of Labor chose to proceed with an administrative action and firmly deny the allegations," the company said in a statement shared by The Wall Street Journal (subscription website).

"Despite repeated efforts to highlight the results of our hiring practices, the Department of Labor relies on a narrow and flawed statistical analysis relating to three job descriptions from 2010 to 2011."

The US Department of Labor has sued no company for discriminating against Americans.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday September 28, @12:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the gonna-need-a-bigger-Band-Aid® dept.

When Doug Wiens approached Minnesota farmers to ask permission to install a seismometer on their land, he often got a puzzled look. "You could tell they were thinking 'Why are you putting a seismometer here?,' " said Wiens, professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. "'We don't have earthquakes and we don't have volcanoes. Do you know something we don't?' "

Actually, he did. Deep beneath the fertile flat farmland, there is a huge scar in the Earth called the Midcontinent Rift. This ancient and hidden feature bears silent witness to a time when the core of what would become North America nearly ripped apart. If the U-shaped rip had gone to completion, the land between its arms—including at least half of what is now called the Midwest—would have pulled away from North America, leaving a great ocean behind.

Weisen Shen, a postdoctoral research associate with Wiens, will be presenting seismic images of the rift at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) Sept. 25-28. The images were made by analyzing data from Earthscope, a National Science Foundation (NSF) program that deployed thousands of seismic instruments across America in the past 10 years.

At last, the real reason Lex Luthor was in Smallville, to split open the fault and create beach-front property in the Midwest.

Original Submission

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