Effective: 2016-June to 2016-December
Updated by: NCommander
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According to a New York Times story, earthquakes, including one estimated at 6.2 magnitude, have struck the towns of Amatrice and Accumoli in Italy's Rieti province and Pescara del Tronto in Ascoli Piceno province. In the latter town, two people were killed. The mayor of Accumoli declared that "half the town no longer exists." The towns lie about 100 miles (160 km) from Rome.
Microsoft today revealed a first look at the inside of its Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) chip used in its virtual reality HoloLens specs.
The secretive HPU is a custom-designed TSMC-fabricated 28nm coprocessor that has 24 Tensilica DSP cores. It has about 65 million logic gates, 8MB of SRAM, and a layer of 1GB of low-power DDR3 RAM on top, all in a 12mm-by-12mm BGA package. We understand it can perform a trillion calculations a second. It handles all the environment sensing and other input and output necessary for the virtual-reality goggles. It aggregates data from sensors and processes the wearer's gesture movements, all in hardware so it's faster than the equivalent code running on a general purpose CPU. Each DSP core is given a particular task to focus on.
The unit sits alongside a 14nm Intel Atom x86 Cherry Trail system-on-chip, which has its own 1GB of RAM and runs Windows 10 and apps that take advantage of the immersive noggin-fitted display.
Also at PCWorld.
Fast Company reports that Apple Inc. has bought a company called Gliimpse (sic) which operates a database in which people can store and disseminate their own health information. An Apple spokesperson said of the purchase,
Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.
From the article:
What stands out about the deal is that Gliimpse is intended for patients with diseases like cancer and diabetes. Apple recently hired a top pediatric endocrinologist who developed a HealthKit app for teens with Type 1 diabetes, signaling an increased interest in applications for chronically ill users.
It's unlikely that this acquisition will bring Apple's health technologies under the purview of federal regulators. CEO Tim Cook recently told Fast Company in an interview that he sees a major business opportunity for the company in the non-regulated side of health care: "So if you don't care about reimbursement, which we have the privilege of doing, that may even make the smartphone market look small."
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Japanese whalers on Tuesday celebrated what they described as a court victory in the US to end years of high seas clashes with anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, which immediately vowed to fight on.
The arch enemies have waged a legal and public relations battle as Sea Shepherd has sought to disrupt an annual whale hunt in the Antarctic that Japan defends as scientific research.
However, the settlement between the US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Japan's whaling body is unlikely to end the dispute as operations in Antarctic waters are mostly carried out by Sea Shepherd Australia, which does not come under the ruling.
[...] Sea Shepherd played down any suggestion of a global agreement, saying the settlement only applied to its US arm and that other branches, including its Australian office, would keep fighting.
"The ruling in the US courts affects ONLY our US entity," the group's global chief executive Alex Cornelissen said in a statement.
[...] Japan claims it conducts vital scientific research using a loophole in an international whaling ban, but makes no secret that the mammals ultimately end up on dinner plates.
It was forced to call off the 2014-2015 hunt after the United Nations' top court, the International Court of Justice, ruled in 2014 that its annual mission to the Antarctic was a commercial hunt masquerading as science.
The hunt resumed at the end of 2015, with the fleet returning to Japan in March of this year after having killed more than 300 of the mammals.
PlayStation Now has already been around for a couple of years on the PS4, PS3, PS Vita handheld, plus a handful of Blu-ray players and smart TVs. For $20 a month or $45 for three (£13 monthly in the UK, but alas, not available in Australia), the service gives players unlimited access to a long list of over 400 PlayStation 3 games. (The service is available only in those countries as well as in Canada and Japan, with Belgium and the Netherlands currently in beta.)
Remember OnLive? Sony acquired that company's patents in 2015.
Also involved, a $25 USB dongle to add DualShock 4 support to systems:
Sony is bringing official DualShock 4 support to Windows PCs and OS X. Today, alongside the announcement of PlayStation Now's upcoming release on Windows, the company revealed a new $24.99 USB adapter that will enable "every feature" of the PlayStation 4 gamepad. It will begin shipping in September. Specifically, Sony says the dongle opens up full access to "buttons, analog sticks, touch pad, light bar, motion sensors, vibration, and stereo headset jack" — so long as those features are all supported by whatever game application you're using. You can already use the DualShock 4 for the basics by pairing over Bluetooth or plugging it in directly with a USB cable, but now the controller's full capabilities will be unlocked.
It has the same active ingredient, so it should work the same, but if someone says 'I want Cheerios, not Walmart-os', then why should they not get what they're paying for? (David Maris, pharmaceuticals analyst at Wells Fargo, as quoted in Staying Power, David Crow, Financial Times [Log in required], Aug 22.
Discovering a drug and bringing it to market can take more than 10 years and costs on average $2.6bn per medicine. Typically around five to seven years after, the exclusive rights on the discovery expire, and generic copycat versions quickly flood the market. Prices are slashed to super-cheap, and then for all time and eternity, society benefits greatly. Or, in the words of Pfizer's CEO Ian Read during an investor call: "The price of medicines drop significantly once the patent expires... Today, about nine out of ten prescriptions in the US offer generic drugs, which lead to significantly reduced costs in the healthcare system."
A recent Financial Times analysis doesn't completely agree though. Prices of branded medicines aren't slashed once the patent expires. They actually often sharply increase.
Before companies get to that phase however, a whole slew of other tactics have been used to maintain exclusivity. Many make small changes to a drug, then renew the patent. This is known as evergreening. Others "pay for delay" -- offering financial incentives to the generics producers to bring their alternatives to market more slowly. And once the generics get to market, pharma companies change tactics by attempting to stop patients, doctors and pharmacists from switching.
The end result is price differences between generics and brand medicines which are somewhat strange for a free market: Wellbutrin (bupropion, 150 mg) [Valeant]: $36 per pill versus $0.46 for the generic [bupropion]; Lipitor (atorvastatin 20mg) [Pfizer] 10.49 versus 0.13, Abmien (zolpidem 5mg) [Sanofi] 15.52 versus 0.02, Prozac (fluoxetine 20mg) [Eli Lilly] 11.39 versus 0.03, Xanax (alprazolam 1mg) [Pfizer] 8.14 versus 0.05 and Sarafem (fluoxetine 20mg) [Allergan] $15.98 versus $0.03 per pill.
There must be lot of people who prefer Cheerios over Walmart-os.
Microsoft has misplaced Melbourne, the four-million-inhabitant capital of the Australian State of Victoria.
A search on Bing Maps for "Melbourne, Victoria, Australia" says the city is at 37.813610, 144.963100 which we've screen-captured above (or here for those reading our mobile site).
The co-ordinates are right save for one important detail: Melbourne is at 37.8136° South. Bing's therefore put it in the wrong hemisphere.
Bing's not alone in finding Australia hard to navigate: in 2012 police warned not to use Apple Maps as it directed those seeking the rural Victorian town of Mildura into the middle of a desert. Apple Maps also sent those looking for the remote city of Mount Isa to an even less hospitable and more remote part of Australia's great inland deserts. ®
What is the best (worst?) IT data error that you can recall? We will discount the old chestnut 'Keyboard not found - Press F12 to continue' but share whatever else you have.
Late for work in Manhattan, you push the crosswalk button and curse silently at the slowness of the signal change. You finally get a green light, cross the street, arrive at the office, get in the elevator and hit the close door (>|<) button to speed things along. Getting out on your target floor, you find that hurrying has you a bit hot under the collar, so you reach for the thermostat to turn up the air conditioning.
Each of these seemingly disconnected everyday buttons you pressed may have something in common: it is quite possible that none of them did a thing to influence the world around you. Any perceived impact may simply have been imaginary, a placebo effect giving you the illusion of control.
In the early 2000s, New York City transportation officials finally admitted what many had suspected: the majority of crosswalk buttons in the city are completely disconnected from the traffic light system. Thousands of these initially worked to request a signal change but most no longer do anything, even if their signage suggests otherwise.
[...] Today, a combination of carefully orchestrated automation and higher traffic has made most of these buttons obsolete. Citywide, there are around 100 crosswalk buttons that still work in NYC but close to 1,000 more that do nothing at all. So why not take them down? Removing the remaining nonfunctional buttons would cost the city millions, a potential waste of already limited funds for civic infrastructure.
More examples are quoted in linked article, and some suggestions how tech can make our lives more pleasant while waiting - Pong anyone?.
-- submitted from IRC
Illumina Inc. and Oxford Nanopore Technologies have reached a settlement in this legal battle, according to a U.S. International Trade Commission document released last week. Oxford has agreed not to import or sell any product containing a pore with an amino acid sequence at least 68% similar to Mycobacterium smegmatis porin (Msp)—the protein at the heart of Illumina's infringement claim—and to destroy any inventory of such products.
[...] Illumina, Inc.—which dominates the genetic sequencing industry—sued Oxford Nanopore Technologies, the first company to market a commercial nanopore platform. Illumina claims that Oxford's two flagship devices infringe on patents that Illumina controls.
[...] Illumina, meanwhile, has yet to release a nanopore platform
[...] Illumina's chance of winning the case might come down to a "very messy" aspect of patent law called the doctrine of equivalents, he says. The doctrine holds that a party can be liable for infringement even if their product doesn't literally match what's described in a patent, provided their product performs the same function, in the same way, to achieve the same result as the patented invention.
from the beat-this dept.
Via El Reg, Richard Chirgwin asks if anyone has seen a dramatic failure of Microsoft's OS. One assumes that he is referring to very public instances.
In the comments, cornz 1 mentions seeing every screen at Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam) BSoD'd; Shadow Systems says he had to go to the other side of town when his branch bank's ATM BSoD'd; Robert Helpmann wasn't thrilled when the hotel elevator that was to take him up 20something storeys was showing a BSoD; James 51 also notes that Blue Screens are not a thing of the past, as his wife's Windows 10 update BSoD'd.
 If you have Facebook blocked, I have saved you the trip to Blake Sibbit's Facebook page.
Hat tips to TechWorm (though I wish you wouldn't put parts of your content behind scripts) and to Archive.is (which will run scripts for you on their machines).
The FBI has released an app that displays information about bank robberies:
The FBI today released a Bank Robbers mobile app designed to help the public, law enforcement, and financial institutions see and share photos and information about robberies all over the country.
The app allows users to sort bank robberies by date, state, category (armed? disguised? serial offender?), as well as the FBI field station handling the case. You can get surveillance photos, details of the crime, physical descriptions of the suspect as well as the FBI's wanted poster. And if you want, a push notification will tell you when a bank robbery has occurred near your location and a link to the FBI's online tips page.
Install FBI code on my phone? Why not!?
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Squatters who illegally occupy vacant homes or buildings are not always contributing to apathy or social disorder, says a new University of Michigan study that will be presented at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).
It can actually be a good situation for a neighborhood to have these individuals move into abandoned homes, lessening the chance of them becoming sites for drug users or burned by arsonists, the study indicates.
In urban communities nationwide, such as Detroit, which are experiencing population decline, homes have been abandoned by owners or left unattended by private investors who often purchase them in bundles of tens, hundreds, or even thousands.
"While attempts to revitalize a city rely on private ownership to induce responsible care for property, that isn't always an option," said study author Claire Herbert, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she earned a PhD in sociology.
That's where squatters come in.
Herbert, who will be an assistant professor at Drexel University in the fall, interviewed more than 60 people, including squatters, city authorities, and residents between 2013-2015, while also gathering ethnographic data on illegal property use from various sources, such as community meetings and squatted areas across Detroit.
Surprisingly, many of the residents in the study welcome squatters to keep abandoned homes occupied. Squatting, however, was not considered acceptable to residents if the home was still occupied or if the legal owner was maintaining and overseeing the property.
Well, that didn't take long: within a week of applause for Microsoft's decision to open-source PowerShell, a comment-war has broken out over
For those not familiar with these commands: they're open source command line tools for fetching Internet content without a browser. Apart from obvious applications like downloading whole sites (for example as backup), they're also under the hood for a lot of other toolsets (an example the author is familiar with – GIS tools use
wgetto fetch maps from Web services).
For some reason, Microsoft's team decided to put aliases for
wgetin Windows PowerShell – but, as this thread begins, those aliases don't deliver
The pull request says the aliases should be spiked: "They block use of the commonly used command line tools without providing even an attempt to offer the same functionality. They serve no purpose for PowerShell users but cause confusion and problems to existing
-- submitted from IRC
Bears are bolder, mosquitoes are multiplying and stream-dwelling fish are stressed. Beyond hurting crops and helping the tourism industry, New England's hot, dry summer also is affecting the region's wildlife.
All six New England states are experiencing at least moderate drought, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center, with severe patches in all but Vermont and pockets of extreme drought in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Low rainfall also means low stream flow levels across the region. The U.S. Geological Survey says all six states have areas exhibiting moderate hydrologic drought, with severe spots in Massachusetts and one extreme area in Maine.
[...] In Maine, officials are recommending that people fish earlier or later in the day when temperatures are cooler. The same goes for southern New Hampshire, said Scott Decker, inland fisheries program director at New Hampshire Fish and Game.
Given that mosquitoes breed in standing water, you might expect fewer instead of more during a drought, said Pete Pekins, wildlife professor at the University of New Hampshire. But the opposite happens because as water levels drop, river banks and the edges of ponds widen, he said.
[...] The drought has implications on land as well as water, with bears, snakes and ants among those species venturing further afield in search of food or water. In Quincy, Massachusetts, a timber rattlesnake showed up on someone's front steps. In New Hampshire, bears have been foraging for food at campgrounds and neighborhood trash cans because drought-stricken berry bushes didn't produce as much as usual.
Too bad there is no simple way for Louisiana to export some of their excess rainfall to New England.
[Ed. Note: For our international readers, "New England" refers to the northeast region of the USA that encompasses the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.]
EpiPen's price has ballooned about 400% since 2008, rising from about a $100 list price to $500 today. The EpiPen is one of the most important life-saving medical innovations for people with severe food allergies—which affect as many as 15 million Americans and 1 in 13 children in the United States. But its price has exploded over the last decade despite few upgrades to the product itself. The product's lack of competitors is likely a significant driver of the costs. [...] [The] EpiPen enjoys a near-monopoly on the market with annual sales of more than $1.3 billion and nearly 90% U.S. market share.