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posted by Fnord666 on Thursday November 21, @04:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the Google-wants-less-forking dept.

Google outlines plans for mainline Linux kernel support in Android

It seems like Google is working hard to update and upstream the Linux kernel that sits at the heart of every Android phone. The company was a big participant in this year's Linux Plumbers Conference, a yearly meeting of the top Linux developers, and Google spent a lot of time talking about getting Android to work with a generic Linux kernel instead of the highly customized version it uses now. It even showed an Android phone running a mainline Linux kernel.

But first, some background on Android's current kernel mess.Currently, three major forks happen in between the "mainline" Linux kernel and a shipping Android device (note that "mainline" here has no relation to Google's own "Project Mainline"). First, Google takes the LTS (Long Term Support) Linux kernel and turns it into the "Android Common kernel"—the Linux kernel with all the Android OS-specific patches applied. Android Common is shipped to the SoC vendor (usually Qualcomm) where it gets its first round of hardware-specific additions, first focusing on a particular model of SoC. This "SoC Kernel" then gets sent to a device manufacturer for even more hardware-specific code that supports every other piece of hardware, like the display, camera, speakers, usb ports, and any extra hardware. This is the "Device Kernel," and it's what actually ships on a device.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday November 21, @02:29AM   Printer-friendly
from the hold-on-a-minute dept.

Decoding how some animals pause pregnancies could unlock new cancer treatments

Putting your pregnancy on pause until the time is right to give birth sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel, but for many mammals what's known as "embryonic diapause" is an essential part of raising their young.

Although scientists have known since the 1850s that some animals have this ability, it is only now becoming clear how it could teach us valuable lessons about human pregnancy, stem cells, and cancer.

More than 130 species of mammal can pause their pregnancies. The pause can last anywhere between a couple of days and 11 months. In most species (except some bats, who do it a little later) this happens when the embryo is a tiny ball of about 80 cells, before it attaches to the uterus.

It's not just a single group of mammals, either. Various species seem to have developed the ability as needed to reproduce more successfully. Most carnivores can pause their pregnancies, including all bears and most seals, but so can many rodents, deer, armadillos, and anteaters.

More than a third of the species that take a breather during gestation are from Australia, including some possums and all but three species of kangaroo and wallaby.

The record-holder for pregnancy pause time is the tammar wallaby, which has been studied extensively for its ability to put embryos on hold for up to 11 months.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday November 21, @12:57AM   Printer-friendly
from the again? dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Back in 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled that it's illegal for the police to attach a GPS tracking device to someone's car without a warrant. But what if you find a GPS tracking device on your car? Can you remove it?

A little more than a year ago, the state of Indiana charged a suspected drug dealer with theft for removing a government-owned GPS tracking device from his SUV. This month, the state's Supreme Court began considering the case, and some justices seemed skeptical of the government's argument.

"I'm really struggling with how is that theft," said Justice Steven David during recent oral arguments.

-- submitted from IRC

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 20, @11:25PM   Printer-friendly
from the TANSTAAFL dept.

Bonkers pricing of "free" flu shots shows what's wrong with US healthcare

The annual flu shots that are free to those with health insurance are not immune from the convoluted and contemptible price-gouging that plague the US healthcare system.

Health insurance companies pay wildly different amounts for the same vaccines depending on how negotiations go with individual medical providers across the country. In some cases, providers have forced insurers to pay upward of three times the price they would pay to other providers, according to an investigation by Kaiser Health News.

The outlet noted that one Sacramento, California, doctors' office got an insurer to pay $85 for a flu shot that it offered to uninsured patients for $25.

Though $85 might seem like a trifling amount in the bloated scheme of the US healthcare system, such prices quickly add up as tens of millions of people receive a flu shot each year. And while the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover the full costs of all federally recommended vaccines, including the flu vaccine, any extra costs to insurers get passed on to patients through higher insurance premiums, economists told KHN.

Looking further at what insurers paid for flu vaccines, KHN found that costs spanned the whole range from $25 to $85. A doctor in Long Beach, California, got insurer Cigna to pay $47.53 for a shot, while a CVS in downtown Washington, DC, got $32 from Cigna for the same shot. A CVS just 10 miles away in Maryland got $40.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday November 20, @09:53PM   Printer-friendly
from the routing-around-damage dept.

Fermat's Library has posted a paper from 1988 about the design of the early internet. The internet was already 15 years old at that point; and I thought that Soylentils might enjoy a little historical perspective about the original goals of the Internet's design and how the Department of Defense was involved.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday November 20, @08:14PM   Printer-friendly
from the who-CAN-you-trust? dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Official Monero website is hacked to deliver currency-stealing malware

The official site for the Monero digital coin was hacked to deliver currency-stealing malware to users who were downloading wallet software, officials with said on Tuesday.

The supply-chain attack came to light on Monday when a site user reported that the cryptographic hash for a command-line interface wallet downloaded from the site didn't match the hash listed on the page. Over the next several hours, users discovered that the mismatching hash wasn't the result of an error. Instead, it was an attack designed to infect GetMonero users with malware. Site officials later confirmed that finding.

"It's strongly recommended to anyone who downloaded the CLI wallet from this website between Monday 18th 2:30 AM UTC and 4:30 PM UTC, to check the hashes of their binaries," GetMonero officials wrote. "If they don't match the official ones, delete the files and download them again. Do not run the compromised binaries for any reason."

An analysis of the malicious Linux binary found that it added a few new functions to the legitimate one. One of the functions was called after a user opened or created a new wallet. It sent the wallet seed—which is the cryptographic secret used to access wallet funds—to a server located at node.hashmonero[.]com. The malware then sent wallet funds to the servers located at node.xmrsupport[.]co and 45.9.148[.]65.

A malicious Windows version of the CLI wallet carried out an almost identical attack sequence.

[...] In the meantime, people who want to verify the authenticity of their Monero CLI software can check here for Windows or here for more advanced users of Windows, Linux, or macOS.

The incident is a graphic reminder why it's crucial to check summaries before installing software. The links in the paragraph above this one explain how to do that.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday November 20, @06:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the no-green-men-found-(yet) dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

As scientists scramble to determine whether there is life on Mars, Ohio University Professor Emeritus William Romoser's research shows that we already have the evidence, courtesy of photographs from various Mars rovers.

[...] Romoser said that while the Martian rovers, particularly the Curiosity Rover, have been looking for indicators of organic activity, there are a number of photos which clearly depict the insect- and reptile-like forms. Numerous photos show images where arthropod body segments, along with legs, antennae and wings, can be picked out from the surrounding area, and one even appears to show one of the insects in a steep dive before pulling up just before hitting the ground.

Individual images were carefully studied while varying photographic parameters such as brightness, contrast, saturation, inversion, and so on. No content was added, or removed. Criteria used in Romoser's research included: Dramatic departure from the surroundings, clarity of form, body symmetry, segmentation of body parts, repeating form, skeletal remains, and observation of forms in close proximity to one another. Particular postures, evidence of motion, flight, apparent interaction as suggested by relative positions, and shiny eyes were taken to be consistent with the presence of living forms.

"Once a clear image of a given form was identified and described, it was useful in facilitating recognition of other less clear, but none-the-less valid, images of the same basic form," Romoser said. "An exoskeleton and jointed appendages are sufficient to establish identification as an arthropod. Three body regions, a single pair of antennae, and six legs are traditionally sufficient to establish identification as 'insect' on Earth. These characteristics should likewise be valid to identify an organism on Mars as insect-like. On these bases, arthropodan, insect-like forms can be seen in the Mars rover photos."

Distinct flight behavior was evident in many images, Romoser said. These creatures loosely resemble bumble bees or carpenter bees on Earth. Other images show these "bees" appearing to shelter or nest in caves. And others show a fossilized creature that resembles a snake.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday November 20, @05:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the save-the-plant-collect-the-whole-set dept.

Have you ever wondered what happens when you put plastic in the recycling bin for collection? It probably goes straight into the garbage tip with the rest of the trash. Up to a short time ago, countries like China offered a decent price for usable plastic, but those deals have dried up, leaving many countries with millions of tonnes of plastic and few solutions to deal with it.

Now, Australian company Licella says it has created a system that can recycle all types of plastic, even to the extent of creating oil that can be turned into bitumen, petrol or back into different kinds of plastics.

His Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (Cat-HTR) does just that through a form of chemical recycling that changes the plastics at a molecular level using hot water at a high pressure to turn them back into oil.

[...] Dr Humphreys said the Cat-HTR technology he and his co-founder patented was different from existing plastic-to-oil technologies like pyrolysis, which is a process that involves heating materials at a very high temperature.

Unlike traditional physical recycling, it does not require plastics to be separated according to type and colour, and can recycle anything from milk cartons to wetsuits and even wood by-products.

It also means plastic products can be recycled again and again.

But he said the bigger problem to address is our over-consumption of plastic.

The process of turning rubbish into fuel may sound familiar to sci-fi fans. In the film Back to the Future the time machine car uses garbage as fuel.

The industry has been widely described as in crisis, with a[n Australian] Senate report last year stating that "enormous quantities of recycled material, particularly materials collected through kerbside recycling, are now being stockpiled at great risk to the health and safety of local communities. Moreover, quantities of otherwise recyclable material are being sent to landfill".

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday November 20, @03:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the got-to-start-somewhere dept.

How China plans to lead the computer chip industry

On a university campus on the outskirts of Hong Kong a group of engineers are designing computer chips they hope will be used in the next generation of Chinese made smart phones. Patrick Yue leans back in his chair in a coffee shop on the campus, sporting a Stanford University t-shirt. He is the lead engineer and professor overseeing the project. His research team designs optical communication chips, which use light rather than electrical signals to transfer information, and are needed in 5G mobile phones and other internet-connected devices.

[...] China has made no secret of its desire to become self-sufficient in technology. The nation is both the world's largest importer and consumer of semiconductors. It currently produces just 16% of the semiconductors fuelling its tech boom. But it has plans to produce 40% of all semiconductors it uses by 2020, and 70% by 2025, an ambitious plan spurred by the trade war with the US. [...] In October this year, in its latest bid to help wean the nation's tech sector away from US technology, the Chinese government created a $29bn (£22m) fund to support the semiconductor industry.

"There is no question that China has the engineers to make chips. The question is whether they can make competitive ones," questions Piero Scaruffi, a Silicon Valley historian, and artificial intelligence researcher who works in Silicon Valley. "Certainly, Huawei can develop its own chips and operating systems, and the government can make sure that they will be successful in China. But Huawei and other Chinese phone makers are successful also in foreign markets, and that's a totally different question: Will Huawei's chips and operating systems be as competitive as Qualcomm's and Android? Most likely not. At best, it will take years before they are," Mr Scaruffi adds.

Mr Scaruffi estimates that China could be as many as 10 years behind the leading producers of high-end computer chips. The majority of chips made for high-end electronics are manufactured by specialist foundries like the Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). It produces more than 70% of chips designed by third party companies.

[...] [Yue] believes that Chinese technology is three to four generations behind companies like TSMC. China lacks the industry experience to manufacture high end chips, he says. But he believes that companies like Huawei are already competitive when it comes to designing chips.

Related: China's SMIC Produces its First "14nm" FinFET Chips
Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) Starts "14nm" FinFET Volume Production

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 20, @02:15PM   Printer-friendly
from the quite-a-charge dept.

Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd

Nikola Corporation is excited to announce details of its new battery that has a record energy density of 1,100 watt-hours per kg on the material level and 500 watt-hours per kg on the production cell level. The Nikola prototype cell is the first battery that removes binder material and current collectors, enabling more energy storage within the cell. It is also expected to pass nail penetration standards, thus reducing potential vehicle fires.

This battery technology could increase the range of current EV passenger cars from 300 miles up to 600 miles with little or no increase to battery size and weight. The technology is also designed to operate in existing vehicle conditions. Moreover, cycling the cells over 2,000 times has shown acceptable end-of-life performance.

Nikola's new cell technology is environmentally friendly and easy to recycle. While conventional lithium-ion cells contain elements that are toxic and expensive, the new technology will have a positive impact on the earth's resources, landfills and recycling plants.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 20, @12:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the positive-results dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Scientists at the TSU Laboratory of Biophotonics, working with Tomsk National Research Medical Center (TNIMC) oncologists, have developed a new approach to the diagnosis of adenocarcinoma, a malignant tumor of the prostate gland, that uses artificial intelligence to identify oncopathology and determine the stage of the disease. Using machine learning, a computer model was taught to distinguish between healthy tissues and pathology with 100 percent accuracy.

The gold standard for the diagnosis of cancer is histology, during which tissue from a patient is examined for malignant changes. So that the samples can be stored for a long time, they are dehydrated and packed in paraffin. Then experts make thin sections and examine these slides under a microscope.

"Usually, several people work with prostate biopsy samples, and after studying the sections, they make a collegial decision," says Yuri Kistenev, executive director of the TSU Institute of Biomedicine. "The human factor has not been eliminated, therefore, due to subjective assessment, there are erroneous conclusions. We tried to solve this problem using IT technologies—we developed a computer model and, through machine learning, taught it how to detect abnormal areas using a tool such as terahertz spectroscopy."

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 20, @11:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the jokes-write-themselves dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

New, slippery toilet coating provides cleaner flushing, saves water: Innovative coating could reduce toilet water consumption by half, increase water sustainability

Every day, more than 141 billion liters of water are used solely to flush toilets. With millions of global citizens experiencing water scarcity, what if that amount could be reduced by 50%?

The possibility may exist through research conducted at Penn State, released today (Nov. 18) in Nature Sustainability.

"Our team has developed a robust bio-inspired, liquid, sludge- and bacteria-repellent coating that can essentially make a toilet self-cleaning," said Tak-Sing Wong, Wormley Early Career Professor of Engineering and associate professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering.

In the Wong Laboratory for Nature Inspired Engineering, housed within the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Materials Research Institute, researchers have developed a method that dramatically reduces the amount of water needed to flush a conventional toilet, which usually requires 6 liters.

Co-developed by Jing Wang, a doctoral graduate from Wong's lab, the liquid-entrenched smooth surface (LESS) coating is a two-step spray that, among other applications, can be applied to a ceramic toilet bowl. The first spray, created from molecularly grafted polymers, is the initial step in building an extremely smooth and liquid-repellent foundation.

"When it dries, the first spray grows molecules that look like little hairs, with a diameter of about 1,000,000 times thinner than a human's," Wang said.

While this first application creates an extremely smooth surface as is, the second spray infuses a thin layer of lubricant around those nanoscopic "hairs" to create a super-slippery surface.

Jing Wang, Lin Wang, Nan Sun, Ross Tierney, Hui Li, Margo Corsetti, Leon Williams, Pak Kin Wong, Tak-Sing Wong. Viscoelastic solid-repellent coatings for extreme water saving and global sanitation. Nature Sustainability, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41893-019-0421-0

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 20, @09:39AM   Printer-friendly
from the routing-around-damage dept.

Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd

What would happen if low-wage workers came together to cut out the middleman and build their own platforms? This isn't just a thought experiment. Worker-owned apps are already providing real alternatives to dismal working conditions in the global gig economy.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday November 20, @08:07AM   Printer-friendly
from the information-wants-to-be-free dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Iran is offline and has been for three days after the government responded to widespread protests by killing the internet.

Anti-government protests started on Friday when the authorities announced a sudden 50 per cent increase in fuel prices. The protests quickly spread to over 100 cities and towns, reflecting deeper hostility to the authoritarian establishment. That establishment responded by cutting off the internet to 80 million people on Saturday night.

As a result it has been increasingly difficult to follow what is going on inside the country or how many people have been injured or killed. The government has acknowledged three deaths, but there have been at least eight reported and more are expected.

Even with the price increase Iran’s 13 cents a liter gas prices remain among the cheapest in the world, but the decision to raise the price was just one more sign of Iran’s faltering economy, in part due to continued sanctions on the country.

Iran’s response was depressingly predictable - its National Security Council instructed all ISPs to cut off internet access out of “national security interests.”

Despite the ban however, citizens have quickly discovered that Iran runs two internets: a public internet and a separate network that the government and universities are tapped into and which is still operational.

[...] In a worrying sign of what may really be going on, however, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said in an official statement on Monday that it was planning to take “decisive action” against any further protests, raising the possibility of dozens of deaths as has happened repeatedly in recent years.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 20, @06:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend? dept.

John Legere Leaving T-Mobile After 7 Fun Years of Bashing AT&T:

T-Mobile CEO John Legere will leave the company's top job after his contract runs out on April 30, 2020, T-Mobile announced today. Mike Sievert, T-Mobile's president and chief operating officer, will replace Legere as CEO on May 1.

Legere, who became CEO in September 2012, revived a struggling company and led the "Un-carrier" strategy that pitched T-Mobile as a customer-friendly alternative to the AT&T/Verizon duopoly. T-Mobile's Un-carrier moves changed some of the punitive business practices that mobile carriers routinely inflicted on customers.

But Legere's T-Mobile also helped lead the way in making throttling of streaming video a standard industry practice. T-Mobile was punished by the federal government in 2016 for failing to adequately disclose speed and data restrictions on its "unlimited data" plans, and like other carriers, it sold its customers' real-time location data to third parties. Legere often offered better deals than competitors, but US wireless prices still rank among the most expensive in the world.

Legere used a brash and combative style to promote T-Mobile, often insulting larger rivals AT&T and Verizon by calling them "Dumb and Dumber." In 2017, he said that T-Mobile's scientific research found that Verizon was the "Dumber" part of that pair. Legere will leave as T-Mobile attempts to complete its pending acquisition of Sprint, a deal that would reduce wireless competition in the US and make T-Mobile roughly the same size as AT&T and Verizon.

Legere helped T-Mobile and Sprint win the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice's approval of the merger, but the companies must still defeat a lawsuit filed by a coalition of state attorneys general in order to complete the merger.

The Sprint/T-Mobile merger may reduce competition, but if Sprint instead declared bankruptcy, then wouldn't the larger AT&T and Verizon be likely to outbid T-Mobile for Sprint's spectrum licenses leaving T-Mobile even less able to compete?

Also at: c|net.

Original Submission