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When consuming a book, I prefer it to be published in which format?

  • physical book, hardback
  • physical book, paperback
  • ebook, preferably DRM free
  • ebook, DRM'ed, cause DRM excites me in inexplicable ways
  • audiobook
  • kinetically (braille, osmosis, at a relatively high velocity compared to myself...)
  • lightly sauteed in butter and garlic
  • literacy is overrated

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:46 | Votes:83

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday October 28, @04:24AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the RIP-IE dept.

Microsoft is taking desperate steps to stop you using Internet Explorer:

In the summer, Microsoft confirmed it would kill off defunct web browsers Internet Explorer and Edge Legacy, as plans for a phased termination are brought to a close.

However, a sizable pool of users have remained loyal to Internet Explorer, forcing Microsoft to take additional steps to incentivize switching to the new Chromium-based Edge.

Now, when an Internet Explorer user visits an incompatible site - of which there are currently more than 1,000 - the page will be launched automatically in Microsoft Edge, along with a message that reads: "This website doesn't work in Internet Explorer".

The roster of websites that do not support Internet Explorer is ever-expanding and currently includes popular services Twitter, Instagram, Google Drive, Yahoo Mail and more.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday October 28, @02:15AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the going-green dept.

Algae-inspired polymers light the way for enhanced night vision:

In a study recently published in ACS Applied Polymer Materials, researchers from the University of Tsukuba synthesized an infrared-transmitting polymer—based on low-cost, widely available materials—that retains its shape after stretching. The properties of this polymer are highly applicable to the preparation of cheaper night-vision lenses that retain focus while imaging at variable distances.

[...] The researchers' polymer is based on sulfur and compounds derived from algae and plants. The polymer is easy to prepare using a chemical process called inverse vulcanization: simply mix the constituent compounds together and stir while heating. As a first step, the researchers designed a polymer that is elastic—that is, reverts to its original shape—after being repeatedly restretched by 20%.

[...] The fabrication of conventional infrared night-vision lenses, in a way that allows users to easily change focus from one position to another, is typically difficult. Without a variable-focus capability, details that are pertinent to criminal or research investigations, for example, may be lost.

The researchers say the lenses will enable higher resolution night vision equipment.

Journal Reference:
Junpei Kuwabara, Kaho Oi, Makoto M. Watanabe, et al. Algae-Inspired, Sulfur-Based Polymer with Infrared Transmission and Elastic Function, ACS Applied Polymer Materials (DOI: 10.1021/acsapm.0c00924)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday October 28, @12:06AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the next-gen-pottery dept.

Making it possible to create larger 3-D-printed objects with ceramics:

Ceramics are typically excellent electrical and heat insulators that are hard, strong, biocompatible and robust when faced with many chemicals and temperatures. These unique properties mean ceramics could help improve quality of living, save energy, reduce wear and increase the lifetime of components in many different applications. However, these qualities also make it likely that deformations and cracks occur at some stage during the 3-D printing process—usually, because of stresses within the material.

Although increasingly mainstream for other materials, AM [Additive Manufacturing] is not well understood for ceramics. Until now, it has mostly been used to produce low volumes of very detailed objects smaller than a few cm. Bigger objects run a high risk of cracking.

Westbeek created a model of the physical processes inside the 3-D printer, to help improve understanding of 3-D printing of ceramics and make it possible to print larger objects. AM of ceramics is a two-step process: first, very thin layers of a mixture of ceramic powder and a binder are laid down, hardened by UV light between each layer. This creates the final shape of the object. Second, the object is heated in an oven to remove the binder—much like baking a clay sculpture.

The hardening phase is where stresses can typically crack the ceramic structure.

Journal Reference:
K. H. J. Classens, T. M. Hafkamp, S. Westbeek, et al. Multiphysical modeling and optimal control of material properties for photopolymerization processes, (DOI:

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday October 27, @09:57PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the big-deal dept.

AMD in $35 Billion All-Stock Acquisition of Xilinx

After a couple of weeks of rumor, as well as a couple of years of hearsay, AMD has gone feet first into a full acquisition of FPGA manufacturer Xilinx. The deal involves an all-stock transaction, leveraging AMD's sizeable share price in order to enable an equivalent $143 per Xilinx share – current AMD stockholders will still own 74% of the combined company, while Xilinx stockholders will own 26%. The combined $135 billion entity will total 13000 engineers, and expand AMD's total addressable market to $110 Billion. It is believed that the key reasons for the acquisition lie in Xilinx's adaptive computing solutions for the data center market.

[...] As part of the acquisition, Victor Peng will join AMD as president responsible for the Xilinx business, and at least two Xilinx directors will join the AMD Board of Directors upon closing.

Part of the enablement of the acquisition is AMD leveraging its market capitalization of ~$100 billion, and a lot of the industry will draw parallels of Intel's acquisition of FPGA-manufacturer Altera in December 2015 for $16.7 billion. The high-performance FPGA markets, as well as SmartNICs, adaptive SoCs, and other controllable logic, reside naturally in the data center markets more than most other markets. With AMD's recent growth in the enterprise space with its Zen-based EPYC processor lines, a natural evolution one might conclude would be synergizing high-performance compute with adaptable logic under one roof, which is precisely the conclusion that Intel also came to several years ago. AMD reported last quarter that it had broken above the 10% market share in Enterprise with its EPYC product lines, and today's earnings call is also expected to see growth. AMD is already reporting revenue up +56% year on year company-wide, with +116% in the Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom markets.

Also at The Register, Phoronix, and Wccftech.

Previously: AMD Negotiating to Acquire Xilinx

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Tuesday October 27, @07:48PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the 20k-ppi-or-bust dept.

Samsung's next-gen OLED panels could upgrade to five-figure pixel densities:

A new paper [DOI: 10.1126/science.abc8530] [DX] in the journal Science describes a new and revolutionary type of OLED panel. It may boost the material's pixel counts, brightness and general quality by a significant margin, thanks to a Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) scientist's idea to apply the latest in photonics for solar panels

This research has resulted in the development of a new kind of reflective bottom layer for these devices. They are made of metal processed to exhibit a specific texture at the nanoscopic level. These "corrugations" harness recent breakthroughs in the understanding of how light behaves at the same scale

[...] the experimental panel's pixels had a "higher color purity and a twofold increase in luminescence efficiency" compared to regular OLED. These results also translated to a density of about 10,000 pixels per inch (ppi). For context, even the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has one of just under 500 ppi.

On the other hand, the Science paper's authors base these findings on a relatively small prototype panel. However, SAIT appears confident that it can be scaled up quickly and easily. Therefore, we might see this ultra-dense, color-rich and bright new form of OLED in real-world devices fairly soon.

Also at IEEE Spectrum.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday October 27, @05:39PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the worth-a-thousand-words dept.

With all of the controversy about elections and the pandemic, it's nice to just sit back and admire nature's handiwork.

Blizzards, ice, lightning and rainbows light up Weather Photographer of the Year 2020 contest:

The winners are in for this year's annual Weather Photographer of the Year competition, hosted by the Royal Meteorological Society in association with AccuWeather.

The top-ranking image, taken by Rudolf Sulgan, shows a crowd of people on New York's Brooklyn Bridge during a 2018 blizzard. Judges said it made them feel like they were there standing in the cold with the pictured subjects.

The main page showcases and links through to all of the winners and runners-up for this year.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday October 27, @03:30PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the everyone-loves-ice-cream! dept.

Bot orders $18,752 of McSundaes every 30 min. to find if machines are working:

Burgers, fries, and McNuggets are the staples of McDonald's fare. But the chain also offers soft-serve ice cream in most of its 38,000+ locations. Or at least, theoretically it does. In reality, the ice cream machines are infamously prone to breaking down, routinely disappointing anyone trying to satisfy their midnight McFlurry craving.

One enterprising software engineer, Rashiq Zahid, decided it's better to know if the ice cream machine is broken before you go. The solution? A bot to check ahead. Thus was born McBroken, which maps out all the McDonald's near you with a simple color-coded dot system: green if the ice cream machine is working and red if it's broken.

The bot basically works through McDonald's mobile app, which you can use to place an order at any McDonald's location. If you can add an ice cream order to your cart, the theory goes, the machine at that location is working. If you can't, it's not. So Zahid took that idea and scaled up.

[...] "I reverse-engineered McDonald's internal ordering API," he explained when he launched the tool, "and I'm currently placing an order worth $18,752 every minute at every McDonald's in the US to figure out which locations have a broken ice cream machine."

[...] The Verge interviewed Zahid about his project once his tweet announcing it took off.

NB: The bot does not actually place the order. It attempts to set up an order, and if it is allowed to add the item, it is assumed to be available. Taking note of that, it then exits out of the attempt. At no time is money exchanged. Also, he discovered that he had to back off to once every 30 minutes or it got blocked.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday October 27, @01:21PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the stick-it-to-'em dept.

Vaccine hopes rise as Oxford jab prompts immune response among old as well as young adults:

One of the world's leading COVID-19 experimental vaccines produces an immune response in both young and old adults, raising hopes of a path out of the gloom and economic destruction wrought by the novel coronavirus.

The vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, also triggers lower adverse responses among the elderly, British drug maker AstraZeneca Plc, which is helping manufacture the vaccine, said on Monday.

A vaccine that works is seen as a game-changer in the battle against the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 1.15 million people, shuttered swathes of the global economy and turned normal life upside down for billions of people.

"It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher," an AstraZeneca spokesman said.

"The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222," the spokesman said, referring to the technical name of the vaccine.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be one of the first from big pharma to secure regulatory approval, along with Pfizer and BioNTech's candidate, as the world tries to plot a path out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday October 27, @11:12AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the costs-an-arm-and-a-leg dept.

Bridges with limb-inspired architecture can withstand earthquakes, cut repair costs:

In a study published in the journal Structure and Infrastructure Engineering, Texas A&M University and the University of Colorado Boulder researchers have conducted a comprehensive damage and repair assessment of a still-to-be-implemented bridge design using a panel of experts from academia and industry. The researchers said the expert feedback method offers a unique and robust technique for evaluating the feasibility of bridge designs that are still at an early research and development phase.

"Bridges, particularly those in high-seismic regions, are vulnerable to damage and will need repairs at some point. But now the question is what kind of repairs should be used for different types and levels of damage, what will be the cost of these repairs and how long will the repairs take -- these are all unknowns for new bridge designs," said Dr. Petros Sideris, assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "We have answered these questions for a novel bridge design using an approach that is seldomly used in structural engineering."

[...] "Fixing bridges is a slow process and costs a significant amount of money, which then indirectly affects the community," said Sideris. "Novel bridge designs that may have a bigger initial cost for construction can be more beneficial in the long run because they are sturdier. The money saved can then be used for helping the community rather than repairing infrastructure."

Journal Reference:
Jakub Valigura, Mohammad Salehi, Abbie B. Liel, et al. Seismic Repair Assessment of Hybrid Sliding–Rocking Bridge Columns through Integrated Experimentation and Expert Panel Solicitation, Journal of Structural Engineering (DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)ST.1943-541X.0002776)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday October 27, @09:03AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the re-freshing dept.

Ancient Maya Built Sophisticated Water Filter System Light-Years Ahead Of The Rest Of The World:

The great Maya city of Tikal transported zeolites for water filtration thousands of years before other cultures learned or adopted the idea, archaeologists have found. The filtration was probably much better than anything known to the Europeans who conquered the area 1,500 years later.

The Corriental reservoir was one of Tikal's sources of drinking water. Dr Kenneth Tankersley of the University of Cincinnati found crystalline quartz and zeolite when digging at the reservoir. Neither are local to the area and would have had to be brought a long way by the standards of a people who had no beasts of burden.

[...] Tankersley observed the quartz/zeolite combination would have removed multiple pathogens from the water supply, including heavy metals, nitrogen-rich compounds, and bacteria. [...] "This system would still be effective today and the Maya discovered it more than 2,000 years ago," Tankersley said in a statement.

[...] In Scientific Reports, Tankersley proposes a source for the minerals and even explains how people might have come to recognize their value. A decade ago co-author Professor Nicholas Dunning reported volcanic rock known as tuff, rich in quartz and zeolite, in a scarp. "It was bleeding water at a good rate," he said. "Workers refilled their water bottles with it. It was locally famous for how clean and sweet the water was."

Journal References:
Kenneth Barnett Tankersley, Nicholas P. Dunning, Christopher Carr, et al. Zeolite water purification at Tikal, an ancient Maya city in Guatemala [open], Scientific Reports (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-75023-7)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday October 27, @06:54AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the cloudy-outlook dept.

Election could stoke US marijuana market, sway Congress:

Voters in four states from different regions of the country could embrace broad legal marijuana sales on Election Day, and a sweep would highlight how public acceptance of cannabis is cutting across geography, demographics and the nation's deep political divide.

The Nov. 3 contests in New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana will shape policies in those states while the battle for control of Congress and the White House could determine whether marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

Already, most Americans live in states where marijuana is legal in some form and 11 now have fully legalized the drug for adults — Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont. It's also legal in Washington, D.C.

[...] In conservative Mississippi, voters will consider competing ballot proposals that would legalize medicinal marijuana, which is allowed in 33 states.

[...] New Jersey, in particular, could prove a linchpin in the populous Northeast, leading New York and Pennsylvania toward broad legalization, he said.

[...] The cannabis initiatives will draw voters to the polls who could influence other races, including the tight U.S. Senate battle in Arizona.

In Colorado, one supporter of legal cannabis could lose his seat. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who is struggling in an increasingly Democratic state where some in the industry have lost faith in his ability to get things done in Washington.

Despite the spread of legalization in states and a largely hands-off approach under President Donald Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate has blocked cannabis reform, so under federal law marijuana remains illegal and in the same class as heroin or LSD. That has discouraged major banks from doing business with marijuana businesses, which also were left out in the coronavirus relief packages.

[...] solidly conservative South Dakota, which has some of the country's strictest drug laws [...] could become the first to approve medicinal and adult-use marijuana at the same time. However, legalizing broad pot sales would be a jump for a state where lawmakers recently battled for nearly a year to legalize industrial hemp, a non-intoxicating cannabis plant.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday October 27, @04:45AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the strings-attached dept.

Deleting or deactivating your Facebook does the same to your Oculus account:

Facebook does not want you to stop using Facebook, it seems, because if you deactivate your account for a little break you'll also lose access to your Oculus Profile. Perhaps worse, if you delete your Facebook account you'll also delete your app purchases and achievements. "You will no longer be able to return any apps," says Facebook, "and will lose any existing store credits." So buyer beware: If you purchase an Oculus Quest 2 you'll need a Facebook account, and that account will have to be active at all times and, presumably, in good standing if you want to use your Quest 2.

[...] First reported and confirmed by UploadVR, this is just the latest of the controversies surrounding Facebook's decision to tie future Oculus VR Headset use to an otherwise-unrelated Facebook account. Users of past headsets who have not tied their Oculus account to Facebook can continue using those accounts until 2023.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday October 27, @02:36AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the entry-for-SpaceX dept.

NASA SLS megarocket shortage causes tug-of-war between moon missions, Europa exploration:

NASA is choosing between human missions to the moon and a robotic mission to Jupiter's icy moon Europa as the agency manages its limited supply of megarockets in the coming years.

The agency began developing its Space Launch System (SLS) in 2010, intending for the rocket to be the agency's primary vehicle for crewed and deep-space missions. But work has been slow, and NASA and Boeing, which builds the vehicles' two main stages, are only now testing the core stage of the first SLS. It won't fly until late next year, when it makes the first flight of NASA's Artemis lunar-exploration program — an uncrewed trip around the moon known as Artemis 1. The schedule will therefore be tight for the third Artemis launch, which aims to land two astronauts near the moon's south pole in 2024.

Meanwhile, engineers are building the Europa Clipper spacecraft, designed to learn enough about the moon's ice shell, subsurface ocean and geology to help scientists determine whether the hidden ocean may suit the needs of life as we know it. And Congress has mandated the agency also use an SLS rocket to launch Europa Clipper — without consideration for whether one may be available.

[...] In terms of rocket science, right now, Europa Clipper can launch on a commercial vehicle, like SpaceX's Falcon Heavy or United Launch Alliance's Delta-IV Heavy rocket, although the mission would then need a longer cruise time to reach its destination.

But in terms of the law, NASA's hands are tied.

"Because of that, we're planning to build the Europa Clipper and then put it into storage, because we're not going to have an SLS rocket available until 2025," Bridenstine said. "That's the current plan. I don't think that's the right plan, but we're going to follow the law."

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday October 27, @12:27AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the peek-a-boo-and-now-we-kill-you dept.

How malaria parasites hide from the human immune system:

[...] Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite responsible for malaria, infects red blood cells as part of a complex life cycle. Once inside a cell, the parasite produces proteins that dock on the cell's exterior and make it stick to blood vessels so that it won't be carried to the spleen, where it would otherwise get removed from the body.

Typically, only the early life stages of the parasite circulate in the blood, while older parasites thrive inside red blood cells adhered to blood vessels, says Silvia Portugal, a biologist who led the work while at Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany.

[...] But when the researchers compared which genes were turned on or off in samples taken from asymptomatic people in the dry season and symptomatic people in the wet season, they saw that 1,607 genes had distinct seasonal patterns. In the dry season, 1,131 genes were turned on that were off in wet-season parasites. Another 476 were turned off in dry-season parasites, suggesting that when the wet season ends, P. falciparum may alter its genetics to make red blood cells less sticky. That allows the parasite to replicate and persist without setting off alarm bells that alert the immune system to fight the infection.

Blood cells infected with malaria use certain proteins to adhere to blood vessels almost like Velcro, Portugal says. The loss of stickiness could be because the parasite makes fewer of these proteins, or because the proteins are different in some way.

Journal Reference:
Carolina M. Andrade, Hannah Fleckenstein, Richard Thomson-Luque, et al. Increased circulation time of Plasmodium falciparum underlies persistent asymptomatic infection in the dry season, Nature Medicine (DOI: 10.1038/s41591-020-1084-0)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday October 26, @10:18PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the disrupting-the-horrible-isp-market-when? dept.

SpaceX Starlink to go South for first time with planned deployment in Texas:

SpaceX has agreed to provide Internet service to 45 families in a Texas school district in early 2021 and to an additional 90 families later on, the school district announced last week. The announcement by Ector County Independent School District (ECISD) in Odessa said it will be the "first school district to utilize SpaceX satellites to provide Internet for students."

"The project will initially provide free Internet service to 45 families in the Pleasant Farms area of south Ector County," the district said. "As the network capabilities continue to grow, it will expand to serve an additional 90 Ector County families."

The Texas location is notable because the ongoing, limited Starlink beta exists only in the northern US, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said an upcoming public beta will only be for the northern US and "hopefully" southern Canada. SpaceX has over 700 Starlink satellites in orbit, and will be able to expand the service area as it deploys more of the nearly 12,000 it has been authorized to launch. In Washington state, Starlink has been deployed to rural homes, a remote tribe, and emergency responders and families in wildfire-stricken areas.

The ECISD announcement said the service will begin "early in 2021" without saying exactly when, but an article by the Odessa American newspaper said it will be in January. The total project cost is $300,000, half of which is being provided by Chiefs for Change, a nonprofit group for school-district leaders, according to the Odessa American. Families who are selected will get Internet service for free for one year, the report said.

Original Submission