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  2017-01-01 .. 2017-03-23
  (SPIDs: [586..628]) --martyb

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Voting is on for the Nebula Awards, with the winner to be announced May 21st. Who do we think should win Best Novel?

  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
  • Borderline by Mishell Baker
  • The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
  • Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
  • Everfair by Nisi Shawl

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:27 | Votes:5

posted by charon on Sunday March 26, @10:06PM   Printer-friendly
from the or-you-could-take-off-the-helmet dept.

We present a system enabling users to accurately catch a real ball while immersed in a virtual reality environment. We examine three visualizations: rendering a matching virtual ball, the predicted trajectory of the ball, and a target catching point lying on the predicted trajectory. In our demonstration system, we track the projectile motion of a ball as it is being tossed between users. Using Unscented Kalman Filtering, we generate predictive estimates of the ball's motion as it approaches the catcher. The predictive assistance visualizations effectively increases user's senses but can also alter the user's strategy in catching.

Full paper: (PDF)

-- submitted from IRC

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 26, @08:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the things-people-will-do-for-a-discount dept.

FedEx will pay customers to turn Adobe Flash back on if it notices Chrome or Safari users that have it disabled:

FedEx will give customers that use the Chrome 56 and Safari 10 browsers or newer a $5 discount once they enable the Flash plugin. The offer comes after both Chrome and Safari have started blocking Flash content by default in the past few months.

[...] Despite all of [the] warnings, FedEx has remained one of the largest companies that still supports Flash content on its website. This seems to be causing some issues for their customers, who now need to enable Flash in Chrome and Safari. As you may imagine, chances are that many FedEx customers aren't very happy that they have to follow a list of relatively technical instructions to enable Flash again in their browsers. The more tech savvy ones may even dislike the fact that FedEx is forcing them to use Flash again, and potentially expose them to security risks, just when they thought they could have a Flash-free web experience.

To alleviate this problem, FedEx has come up with a rather interesting idea--it will offer its customers a $5 discount for orders over $30 if the site notices that they don't have Flash enabled. All you have to do to get that $5 discount is--you guessed it--enable Flash in your browser. Easy! In its instructions, the company is asking its customers to switch Flash to the "Always run" option, in order to enable it in their browsers. However, Chrome and Safari users should also be able to allow the Flash plugin to "Run once" on the FedEx website. This should allow them to complete the purchase, while at the same time limiting their exposure to Flash exploits.

How about a class action lawsuit for everyone who keeps Flash running after re-enabling it?

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 26, @05:58PM   Printer-friendly
from the encyclopedia-homo-sapiens dept.

Scientists have used a new technique called 3D genome assembly to sequence the genome of a mosquito that can carry the Zika virus:

A team spanning Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, Texas Children's Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has developed a new way to sequence genomes, which can assemble the genome of an organism, entirely from scratch, dramatically cheaper and faster. While there is much excitement about the so-called "$1000 genome" in medicine, when a doctor orders the DNA sequence of a patient, the test merely compares fragments of DNA from the patient to a reference genome. The task of generating a reference genome from scratch is an entirely different matter; for instance, the original human genome project took 10 years and cost $4 billion. The ability to quickly and easily generate a reference genome from scratch would open the door to creating reference genomes for everything from patients to tumors to all species on earth. Today in Science, the multi-institutional team reports a method -- called 3D genome assembly -- that can create a human reference genome, entirely from scratch, for less than $10,000.

To illustrate the power of 3D genome assembly, the researchers have assembled the 1.2 billion letter genome of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the Zika virus, producing the first end-to-end assembly of each of its three chromosomes. The new genome will enable scientists to better combat the Zika outbreak by identifying vulnerabilities in the mosquito that the virus uses to spread.

[...] "Our method is quite different from traditional genome assembly," said Olga Dudchenko, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Genome Architecture at Baylor College of Medicine, who led the research. "Several years ago, our team developed an experimental approach that allows us to determine how the 2-meter-long human genome folds up to fit inside the nucleus of a human cell. In this new study, we show that, just as these folding maps trace the contour of the genome as it folds inside the nucleus, they can also guide us through the sequence itself."

By carefully tracing the genome as it folds, the team found that they could stitch together hundreds of millions of short DNA reads into the sequences of entire chromosomes. Since the method only uses short reads, it dramatically reduces the cost of de novo genome assembly, which is likely to accelerate the use of de novo genomes in the clinic. "Sequencing a patient's genome from scratch using 3D assembly is so inexpensive that it's comparable in cost to an MRI," said Dudchenko, who also is a fellow at Rice University's Center for Theoretical Biological Physics. "Generating a de novo genome for a sick patient has become realistic."

De novo assembly of the Aedes aegypti genome using Hi-C yields chromosome-length scaffolds (DOI: 10.1126/science.aal3327) (DX)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 26, @04:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the I'm-over-here! dept.

Google Maps has today announced a new feature to allow you to share your location with others. While that might seem creepy, it's not the first to add this type of functionality. Facebook tells you when a friend is nearby — it even lets you "wave" at them and gives you the option to send a message if they holler back. Foursquare's Swarm lets you check in wherever you are and both Lyft and Uber give you the option of seeing where your friend is if they share their ride location with you.

Now Google Maps will let you tell your friends where you are and give them directions to your location. It will also let you pick a special friend (like a family member, spouse or love interest, for example) to share your location with long-term.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 26, @02:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the I'm-not-a-star dept.

Astronomers have discovered the most massive and "purest" known brown dwarf:

An international team of astronomers has identified a record breaking brown dwarf (a star too small for nuclear fusion) with the 'purest' composition and the highest mass yet known. The object, known as SDSS J0104+1535, is a member of the so-called halo -- the outermost reaches -- of our Galaxy, made up of the most ancient stars. The scientists report the discovery in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

[...] Located 750 light years away in the constellation of Pisces, SDSS J0104+1535 is made of gas that is around 250 times purer than the Sun, so consists of more than 99.99% hydrogen and helium. Estimated to have formed about 10 billion years ago, measurements also suggest it has a mass equivalent to 90 times that of Jupiter, making it the most massive brown dwarf found to date. It was previously not known if brown dwarfs could form from such primordial gas, and the discovery points the way to a larger undiscovered population of extremely pure brown dwarfs from our Galaxy's ancient past.

Primeval very low-mass stars and brown dwarfs – II. The most metal-poor substellar object (open, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx350) (DX)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 26, @12:01PM   Printer-friendly
from the good-luck-with-that dept.

In a filing, prosecutors have said that they are currently extracting data from locked phones seized from over 100 alleged rioters:

In new filings, prosecutors told a court in Washington, DC that within the coming weeks, they expect to extract all data from the seized cellphones of more than 100 allegedly violent protesters arrested during the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Prosecutors also said that this search is validated by recently issued warrants. [...] "All of the Rioter Cell Phones were locked, which requires more time-sensitive efforts to try to obtain the data," Jennifer Kerkhoff, an assistant United States attorney, wrote.

Also at BuzzFeed, CNET, and The Verge.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 26, @09:57AM   Printer-friendly
from the turn-it-off-and-back-on dept.

"Critical" alert for the many XFCE users here; Bug #12117:

Bug 12117
Summary: The default desktop startup screen causes damage to monitor!
Status: NEW
Alias: None
Product: Xfdesktop
Component: General (show other bugs)
Version: Unspecified
Hardware: PC (x86_64) Linux
Importance: Very High critical
Target Milestone: Xfce 4.14
Assignee: Eric Koegel
QA Contact: Brian J. Tarricone (not reading bugmail)

SanjaytheToilet 2015-08-04 04:47:08 CEST Description
The defualt wallpaper is having my animal scritch all the plastic off my LED MONITOR! Can we choose a different wallpaper? I cannot expect the scratches and whu not? Let's end the mouse games over here.

SanjaytheToilet 2015-08-04 04:48:11 CEST Comment 1
Created attachment 6403 [details]

Andrzej 2015-08-04 21:33:18 CEST Comment 2
Have you tried a default wallpaper from Xubuntu 15.04:

I wonder if that fixes the problem.

Alexander 2015-08-05 12:57:11 CEST Comment 3
Can't reproduce this bug, my cat is absolutely indifferent about it. What monitor do you use? Have you tried reporting the bug upstream at the cat vendor?

Rural Juror 2015-08-07 13:22:37 CEST Comment 4
Created attachment 6404 [details]

fix for cat's curiosity

Steps to reproduce?
1. Start Xfce, using the default mouse wallpaper
2. Leave the computer with the screen turned on and a cat in the same room

Expected results:
- The cat keeps sleeping

Actual results:
- The cat scratches the screen

Here's a potential patch, but I can't test it since I don't have the required hardware (cat).

poma 2015-08-19 20:05:28 CEST Comment 5
Upgrade to Cat 6.

Adam 2017-03-22 06:40:20 CET Comment 6
Bug was able to be reproduced, although inconsistently. Workaround not yet shown to be effective. Will require further observation and logging.

Bahamamama 2017-03-23 22:02:44 CET Comment 7
The suggested patch is causing a re-aggression.
I don't have a cat, but I applied the patch and now my computer is dead. I have a dog.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 26, @08:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the one-less-excuse-for-ISPs dept.

SixXS will be sunset in H1 2017. All services will be turned down on 2017-06-06, after which the SixXS project will be retired. Users will no longer be able to use their IPv6 tunnels or subnets after this date, and are required to obtain IPv6 connectivity elsewhere, primarily with their Internet service provider.

SixXS (Six Access) is a free, non-profit, non-cost service for Local Internet Registries (LIR's) and endusers. The main target is to create a common portal to help company engineers find their way with IPv6 networks deploying IPv6 to their customers in a rapid and controllable fashion. To reach these targets we are providing a whitelabel IPv6 Tunnel Broker and Ghost Route Hunter, an IPv6 route monitoring tool and various other services to help out where needed.

Their reasoning to finally do this is:

Building up to our conclusion, we make some critical observations:

  1. SixXS penetration has hit a point of diminishing returns (see the 'Growth' subsection of this document).
  2. Content providers have shown great progress in enabling users to reach their websites via IPv6, in our opinion formally breaking the chicken and egg problem.
  3. Access providers have shown reasonable interest in providing IPv6 to users, but some have started to quote SixXS as a reason they do not have to show an interest.
  4. Consumers should not have to be involved in the discussion as they largely need not know, or care, how the Internet works, as long as they can reach the Internet resources they want, when they want them.

Our conclusion is that SixXS is no longer able to contribute to the solution, and is hampering its own goals of facilitating the migration of consumers to native IPv6. We have therefore decided to shut down our services on 2017-06-06.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 26, @06:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the extrovert-v.-introvert dept.

Shops and retailers are taking over where street cameras left off, watching shoppers' every move.

According to a 2015 survey of 150 retail executives from IT services firm Computer Services Corporation, a quarter of all British shops and 59% of fashion retailers use facial recognition software. Such technology is vital as offline stores attempt to keep up with online retailers, said Duncan Mann, chief operating officer at retail analysis firm Hoxton Analytics. "Online retailers gather all kinds of information about shoppers and physical stores also want to understand how people behave in a shop," he said. But, he admits: "A lot of these technologies are kind of invasive."

Hoxton has come up with a novel way of measuring footfall - literally by filming people's shoes. Sherlock Holmes-like, its system can deduce a remarkable amount of information such as age, gender and social class of shoppers from their footwear. "We have cameras at about 50cm off the ground and it points down so it is less invasive than facial recognition," he explains. It is surprisingly accurate. It spots the correct gender 80% of the time, better than some facial recognition technologies, according to Mr Mann.

Looks like this tech will arrive just after Amazon has put them all out of business.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 26, @04:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the universe's-desktop dept.

Astronomers have developed a way to detect the ultraviolet (UV) background of the Universe, which could help explain why there are so few small galaxies in the cosmos.

UV radiation is invisible but shows up as visible red light when it interacts with gas.

An international team of researchers led by Durham University, UK, has now found a way to measure it using instruments on Earth.

The researchers said their method can be used to measure the evolution of the UV background through cosmic time, mapping how and when it suppresses the formation of small galaxies.

[...] Researchers pointed the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE), an instrument of the European Southern Observatory's Very-Large Telescope, in Chile, at the galaxy UGC 7321, which lies at a distance of 30 million light years from Earth.

MUSE provides a spectrum, or band of colours, for each pixel in the image allowing the researchers to map the red light produced by the UV radiation illuminating the gas in that galaxy.

A measurement of the z = 0 UV background from Hα fluorescence (open, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx398) (DX)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 26, @01:58AM   Printer-friendly
from the can-you-blame-them dept.

Google has failed to convince major brands (such as AT&T, Verizon, Enterprise Holdings, Volkswagen, and Tesco) to continue advertising on YouTube, following the "revelation" that ads can appear next to extremist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, raunchy, etc. content. From Google's Tuesday response:

We know advertisers don't want their ads next to content that doesn't align with their values. So starting today, we're taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content. This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories. This change will enable us to take action, where appropriate, on a larger set of ads and sites. We'll also tighten safeguards to ensure that ads show up only against legitimate creators in our YouTube Partner Program—as opposed to those who impersonate other channels or violate our community guidelines. Finally, we won't stop at taking down ads. The YouTube team is taking a hard look at our existing community guidelines to determine what content is allowed on the platform—not just what content can be monetized. [...] We're changing the default settings for ads so that they show on content that meets a higher level of brand safety and excludes potentially objectionable content that advertisers may prefer not to advertise against. Brands can opt in to advertise on broader types of content if they choose.

The growing boycott started in the UK:

On Friday, the U.K. arm of the Havas agency, whose clients include the BBC and Royal Mail, said it would halt spending on YouTube and Web display ads in Google's digital advertising network. In doing so, Havas UK CEO Paul Frampton cited a duty to protect clients and "ensure their brands are not at all compromised" by appearing alongside or seeming to sponsor inappropriate content. The decision by a global marketing group with a U.K. digital budget of more than $200 million to put its dealings with Google on "pause" followed a recent controversy over YouTube star Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg, who lost a lucrative production contract with Maker Studios and its owner, Walt Disney Co., over "a series of anti-Semitic jokes and Nazi-related images in his videos," as the Two-way reported. As the BBC reports, "Several high profile companies, including Marks and Spencer, Audi, RBS and L'Oreal, have pulled online advertising from YouTube."

Google's Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler also promised to develop "new tools powered by our latest advancements in AI and machine learning to increase our capacity to review questionable content for advertising".

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Sunday March 26, @12:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the that-explains-my-thinness dept.

The human body allocates 20-25% of its total resting metabolic rate to the brain, compared with 8-10% in other primates and a mere 3-5% in other mammals.

Thus we view the brain as a rather energy-hungry supercomputer.

This analogy with an electrical computer is a good one. The greater a computer's capacity, the more electrical power is required to keep it running, and the larger the electrical supply cables need to be.

It is the same with the brain. The higher the cognitive function, the higher the metabolic rate, the greater the blood flow and the larger the arteries.

The evolution of the human brain is unique among animals. We have looked at the size of the carotid arteries in 34 species of living primates that represent evolution toward the great apes and hominins.

Among these representatives of primate evolution, both body size and brain size increased, but body size increased faster. The blood flow to primate brains increased roughly in proportion to brain size. Only in the hominins do we see that blood flow increased faster than brain size, which indicates that the brain was not only developing in size, but in usage as well. And that shows our ancestors were getting smarter.

Would routing a firehose directly from our heart to our brain make us smarter, then?

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday March 25, @10:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the artichokes-have-hearts-too dept.

Researchers face a fundamental challenge as they seek to scale up human tissue regeneration from small lab samples to full-size tissues, bones, even whole organs to implant in people to treat disease or traumatic injuries: how to establish a vascular system that delivers blood deep into the developing tissue.

Current bioengineering techniques, including 3-D printing, can't fabricate the branching network of blood vessels down to the capillary scale that are required to deliver the oxygen, nutrients and essential molecules required for proper tissue growth. To solve this problem, a multidisciplinary research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Arkansas State University-Jonesboro have successfully turned to plants.
"Plants and animals exploit fundamentally different approaches to transporting fluids, chemicals and macromolecules, yet there are surprising similarities in their vascular network structures," the authors wrote. "The development of decellularized plants for scaffolding opens up the potential for a new branch of science that investigates the mimicry between plant and animal."

In a series of experiments, the team cultured beating human heart cells on spinach leaves that were stripped of plant cells. They flowed fluids and microbeads similar in size to human blood cells through the spinach vasculature, and they seeded the spinach veins with human cells that line blood vessels. These proof-of-concept studies open the door to using multiple spinach leaves to grow layers of healthy heart muscle to treat heart attack patients.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Saturday March 25, @09:01PM   Printer-friendly
from the water-you-going-to-do-about-it? dept.

Imagine a liquid that could move on its own. No need for human effort or the pull of gravity. You could put it in a container flat on a table, not touch it in any way, and it would still flow.

Brandeis researchers report in a new article in Science that they have taken the first step in creating a self-propelling liquid. The finding holds out the promise of developing an entirely new class of fluids that can flow without human or mechanical effort. One possible real-world application: Oil might be able to move through a pipeline without needing to be pumped.

The researchers work at Brandeis' Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), part of a National Science Foundation initiative to create a revolutionary new class of materials and machines made from biological components.

The breakthrough reported in the journal Science was achieved by reproducing in the lab the incredibly complex series of processes that allow cells to change shape and adapt to their environment. Cells can do this because the building blocks of its scaffolding—hollow cylindrical tubes called microtubules—are capable of self-transformation. The microtubules grow, shrink, bend and stretch, altering the cell's underlying structure.

They invented the Blob. Can't decide if that's creepy or cool...

Transition from turbulent to coherent flows in confined three-dimensional active fluids (DOI: 10.1126/science.aal1979) (DX)

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Saturday March 25, @07:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the shear,-milk,-but-do-not-pet-'em dept.

The Senate just voted to undo landmark rules covering your Internet privacy

U.S. senators voted 50 to 48 to approve a joint resolution from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that would prevent the Federal Communications Commission's privacy rules from going into effect. The resolution also would bar the FCC from ever enacting similar consumer protections. It now heads to the House.

takyon: Also at NPR, The Hill, Reuters, Ars Technica, and EFF.

Original Submission