2017-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2017-07-22 14:03:59 UTC
2017-07-27 01:36:11 UTC
We always have a place for talented people, visit the Get Involved section on the wiki to see how you can make SoylentNews better.
One cable to rule them all... for now:
The USB 3.0 Promoters Group announced an update to the existing USB 3.1 standard in order to double the maximum possible bandwidth from 10 Gbps to 20 Gbps. This USB 3.2 specification is currently in the final draft review phase. USB 3.2 will remain backward compatible with existing USB devices.
The new specifications will retain the USB 3.1 physical layer data rates and encoding techniques. The doubling of bandwidth is achieved by going in for a two-channel operation (current USB 3.1 Gen 1/2 devices use only one 'super-speed' channel).The use of two channels is possible only if a certified USB 3.1 Type-C cable is used to connect the host and the device.
[...] The USB 3.2 update is consumer-friendly, since backwards compatibility is retained and there is no need for any new cables. Thunderbolt 3 also uses Type-C, and can go up to 40 Gbps. Its specifications are being opened up, and that makes future developments in the USB Type-C space worth keeping an eye on.
Batteries are the new bombs, so the TSA will require the removal of all electronic devices larger than mobile phones from carry-on baggage for additional screening:
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said Wednesday it will impose new stricter security rules requiring airline travelers to remove all electronic items larger than mobile phones like tablets, e-readers and video game consoles from carry-on baggage for screening.
Prior rules required only laptops to be removed for separate screening. The new rules significantly expand the number of electronic devices that will need to be removed for screening and help government employees get a clearer view during X-ray screening.
TSA said the new rules have been in place in a pilot project at 10 U.S. airports including Detroit, Los Angeles, Boston and Phoenix, and will expand to all U.S. airports in the months ahead.
When does a mobile phone become too large? What about 6-inch "phablets"?
This will be great news for the photographers out there with multiple cameras and backup batteries.
Uber's former chief executive, Travis Kalanick, has hired the former top federal prosecutor in San Francisco to represent him ahead of a deposition in a high-profile trade secrets case against Alphabet's Waymo self-driving car unit, the attorney's firm said on Wednesday.
Melinda Haag, who served as U.S. attorney in Northern California under President Barack Obama, now practices white-collar defense law at the Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe firm. She and a partner, Walter Brown, are representing Kalanick, Orrick spokesman Howard Mintz said.
Mintz declined to discuss the scope of Orrick's representation of Kalanick, who currently serves on Uber's board. A Kalanick representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
Kalanick is scheduled to be interviewed under oath by Waymo lawyers this week, Waymo attorney David Perlson said at a court hearing on Wednesday.
Kalanick isn't the only one facing deposition:
In the latest hearing in the Uber vs. Waymo lawsuit on Wednesday, San Francisco district judge William Alsup addressed Uber's complaint that Google co-founder Sergey Brin is trying to avoid deposition.
Alsup said, "you go back and tell that guy he better show up," after voicing frustration at Alphabet executives claiming they are "too busy." Brin is currently the president of Alphabet, the holding company that includes both Google and Waymo, the self-driving car unit that was spun out of Google.
Also at Bloomberg.
A bit over fifteen years ago, developer Joel Spolsky wrote:
It makes me think of those researchers who say that basically people can't control what they eat, so any attempt to diet is bound to be short term and they will always yoyo back to their natural weight. Maybe as a software developer I really can't control when I'm productive, and I just have to take the slow times with the fast times and hope that they average out to enough lines of code to make me employable.
What drives me crazy is that ever since my first job I've realized that as a developer, I usually average about two or three hours a day of productive coding. When I had a summer internship at Microsoft, a fellow intern told me he was actually only going into work from 12 to 5 every day. Five hours, minus lunch, and his team loved him because he still managed to get a lot more done than average. I've found the same thing to be true. I feel a little bit guilty when I see how hard everybody else seems to be working, and I get about two or three quality hours in a day, and still I've always been one of the most productive members of the team. That's probably why when Peopleware and XP insist on eliminating overtime and working strictly 40 hour weeks, they do so secure in the knowledge that this won't reduce a team's output.
But it's not the days when I "only" get two hours of work done that worry me. It's the days when I can't do anything.
The writer reckons the key to a productive day of writing software lies most in just getting started at the beginning of it. Do Soylentils have tried-and-true tricks to getting into the flow of writing code, or is it always catch-as-catch-can?
Common Dreams reports
As President Donald Trump continues to behave bizarrely and erratically--attacking his own attorney general, launching into a political tirade during a speech to Boy Scouts, bringing his 11-year-old son into the burgeoning Russia controversy--a professional association of psychoanalysts is telling its members to drop the so-called Goldwater Rule and comment publicly on the president's state of mind if they find reason to do so.
The Goldwater Rule was formally included in the American Psychiatric Association's "Principles of Medical Ethics" following the 1964 presidential campaign, during which a magazine editor was sued for running an article in which mental health professionals gave their opinions on [Republican] presidential candidate Barry Goldwater's psychiatric state. The rule deems public comments by psychiatrists on the mental health of public officials without consent "unethical".
In a recent email to its 3,500 members, the American Psychoanalytic Association "told its members they should not feel bound by" the Goldwater Rule, which some have characterized as a "gag rule", STAT's Sharon Begley reports.
Acid attacks in the UK are becoming increasingly common. The reason is simple but the timing isn't. In the UK, guns are generally illegal and gun ownership is more of a touchy subject than in the US. I understand that criminals with guns receive a mandatory five year prison sentence. Strict gun control has pushed most criminals to knives. However, after mandatory sentences for knife ownership, criminals are now choosing to injure victims with acid.
Although gun and knife injuries may require extensive rehabilitation, partial recovery from acid attack may be more costly. One victim required 40 operations and continues to receive frequent, lifelong surgery to alleviate complications such as scar tissue on windpipe.
Attackers and victims have a wide variety of backgrounds. In a very English manner, two attackers who were obviously paid, said sorry before attacking one victim. One attacker was a very minor celebrity before and after attacking people in a nightclub and there have been numerous attacks in Scotland. Some incidents are "honor" attacks among immigrants who, for whatever reason, fail to assimilate. However, there has been an increase in acid attacks among ethnic minorities in East London.
The BBC reports that:
The Met Police is "seeing some links" between criminal gangs and the recent spike in acid attacks in London, a senior officer has said.
Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said the force was "seeing a move across" to gang members using acid and corrosive fluids in attacks.
But he cautioned evidence was limited as "it's a small data set".
On Monday, MPs debated measures, including tougher sentences, for attacks involving corrosive substances.
The government has also proposed classifying such substances as dangerous weapons.
The deputy commissioner supported efforts to tackle the issue, saying some of the substances are "not even defined by law".
"The impact this sort of attack has on people is extraordinary," he said.
"Many of us have been unfortunate to see quite a bit in our services but acid attacks are really extraordinary and strike at something quite horrific in people's psyche."
Although many incidences are inter-gang attacks (or a brief campaign against food delivery), there are also incidences where acid attack occurs in conjunction with robbery. One pernicious trend is around moped and scooters which are relatively cheap, relatively fast and cut through traffic. They are relatively easy to steal and it is almost impossible to halt a theft in progress. Well, moped crime now occurs in conjunction with acid attack. Variants include using acid to steal a moped from a rider and using a moped to exit the scene of an acid attack.
London police now have 1000 anti-acid kits and every police car will carry 5 liters of water. Although this is useful for acid attacks against police, it does nothing to halt worsening injuries prior to emergency response. This is of particular concern when acceptable response time for emergency services is re-defined in response to failing targets. The most recent incident, which occurred within 100 metres of the local fire department, incurred a 20 minute response from police.
Although there is a strong political reaction that something must be done, these incidences overshadow a police pursuit death in the vicinity which has similarities to a death in 2011 which sparked rioting in multiple English cities.
An editorial by Jason Rhian discusses NASA's handling of the Orb-3 (Orbital Sciences) and CRS-7 (SpaceX) accidents. Both were Commercial Resupply Service missions to the International Space Station. SpaceX intends to fly NASA astronauts using Falcon rockets within the next couple of years:
A recent post appearing on the blog Parabolic Arc noted NASA will not be releasing a public report on the findings of the SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-7 explosion that resulted in the loss of the launch vehicle, the Dragon spacecraft, and the roughly $118 million in supplies and hardware the spacecraft was carrying. The post also notes that the Orb-3 accident was handled differently by NASA, but were the two accidents so distinct as to warrant two totally dissimilar approaches?
The premise of the Parabolic Arc report was somewhat inaccurate. NASA didn't refuse to issue a public report; the truth is, no public report was ever produced. NASA officials noted on Wednesday, July 19, that, as the agency was not required to create such a report, one was not generated.
When asked about the discrepancy between the two incidents, NASA officials noted that the Orb-3 failure had occurred on a NASA launch pad (at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad-0A – which is managed by Virginia Space, not NASA). Whereas the Falcon 9 CRS-7 mission had launched from SpaceX's own pad (SLC-40, which is not their pad it was leased to them by the U.S. Air Force) on a commercial flight licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Therefore, NASA was not required to produce a report on the CRS-7 accident. However, Orb-3 was also licensed by the FAA, making this distinction tenuous.
The problem submitted by SpaceX as the root cause of the CRS-7 accident was a failed strut in the rocket's second stage. SpaceX stated that it had fixed the problem and, for all intents and purposes, the matter was dropped.
Fast forward 14 months and another Falcon 9, with the $185 million Amos-6 spacecraft, exploded while just sitting on the pad, taking the rocket, its payload, and some of the ground support facilities at Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 40 with it. Since the Amos-6 accident, SpaceX has moved its operations to Kennedy Space Center's historic Launch Complex 39A, under the 20-year lease with NASA that SpaceX entered into in April of 2014.
With limited information made available to the public, conspiracy theories, including those involving it being struck by a drone and snipers hired by SpaceX's competition, sprung up in articles and on comment boards on sites such as NASASpaceFlight.com and elsewhere regarding the cause of the Amos-6 explosion. This demonstrated the need for a transparent accounting of accidents involving public-private efforts such as NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract.
Extra: Meanwhile, NASA has growing confidence in the test flight schedule for Boeing and SpaceX's crewed flights: http://spacenews.com/nasa-and-companies-express-growing-confidence-in-commercial-crew-schedules/
Related: NASA Advisory Committee Skeptical of SpaceX Manned Refueling Plan
SpaceX Identifies Cause of September Explosion
After Months of Delay Following Explosion, SpaceX Finally Launches More Satellites
Problems With SpaceX Falcon 9 Design Could Delay Manned Missions
Elon Musk Accuses Tesla Employee of Being a Union Agitator
SpaceX Technician says Concerns about Test Results Got Him Fired
There aren't many people in the world who can justifiably call Mark Zuckerberg a dumb-ass, but Elon Musk is probably one of them.
Early on Tuesday morning, in the latest salvo of a tussle between the two tech billionaires over the dangers of advanced artificial intelligence, Musk said that Zuckerberg's "understanding of the subject is limited."
I won't rehash the entire argument here, but basically Elon Musk has been warning society for the last few years that we need to be careful of advanced artificial intelligence. Musk is concerned that humans will either become second-class citizens under super-smart AIs, or alternatively that we'll face a Skynet-like scenario against a robot uprising.
Zuckerberg, on the other hand, is weary of fear-mongering around futuristic technology. "I have pretty strong opinions on this. I am optimistic," Zuckerberg said during a Facebook Live broadcast on Sunday. "And I think people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios... I just don't understand it. It's really negative and in some ways I think it is pretty irresponsible."
Then, responding to Zuckerberg's "pretty irresponsible" remark, Musk said on Twitter: "I've talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited."
Two geeks enter, one geek leaves. That is the law of Bartertown.
Additional details on India's plans to stand up an indigenous supercomputer came to light earlier this week. As reported in the Indian press, the Rs 4,500-crore (~$675 million) supercomputing project, approved by the Indian government in March 2015, is preparing to install six machines, ranging from a half-petaflops to 2 petaflops in size, by year end. Three of these will be completely foreign-built and three will begin incorporating Indian design elements and assembly in preparation for a fully made-in-India supercomputer.
Under the leadership of prime minister Narendra Modi and within the auspices of the "Make in India" initiative, at least fifty new supercomputers will be built over three phases of a seven-year program. This is all part of India's National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) to create a grid of supercomputers connecting academic and research institutions across the country. Rajat Moona, director-general of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), has said that at least 50 percent of the supercomputers will be Indian-made.
On Friday, representatives of the notorious hacking entity known as Fancy Bear failed to appear in a federal court in Virginia to defend themselves against a civil lawsuit brought by Microsoft.
As the Daily Beast first reported on Friday, Microsoft has been waging a quiet battle in court against the threat group, which is believed to be affiliated with the GRU, Russia's foreign intelligence agency. For now, the company has managed to seize control of 70 domain names, but it's going after many more.
The idea of the lawsuit, which was filed in August 2016, is to use various federal laws—including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), and American trademark law—as a way to seize command-and-control domain names used by the group, which goes by various monikers, including APT28 and Strontium. Many of the domain names used by Fancy Bear contain Microsoft trademarks, like microsoftinfo365.com and hundreds of others.
In June 2017, Microsoft asked the judge to issue a default judgement in its favor, since the individuals behind Fancy Bear have not made themselves known. According to the Daily Beast, Microsoft and its lawyers have made several attempts to serve the unknown "John Does" via e-mail. According to the Daily Beast, those e-mails have been opened dozens of times and were equipped with a tracking beacon. Microsoft's lawyers have also conveniently posted all the court documents on a public website, inviting the defendants to contact them via postal mail, e-mail, or even fax.
The price of Bitcoin surged late last week as it became clear that a proposal to expand the Bitcoin network's capacity had the support it needed to go into effect. Supporters of the proposal hope that it will put an end to a two-year-old feud that has been tearing the Bitcoin community apart.
The core dispute is over how to accommodate the payment network's growing popularity. A hard-coded limit in Bitcoin software—1 megabyte per blockchain block—prevents the network from processing more than about seven transactions per second. The network started to bump up against this limit last year, resulting in slow transactions and soaring transaction fees.
Some prominent figures in the Bitcoin community saw an easy fix: just increase that 1MB limit. But Bitcoin traditionalists argued that the limit was actually a feature, not a bug. Keeping blocks small ensures that anyone can afford the computing power required to participate in Bitcoin's consensus-based process for authenticating Bitcoin transactions, preventing a few big companies from gaining de facto control over the network.
This seemingly esoteric debate has nearly torn the Bitcoin community apart over the last two years. While Bitcoin insiders squabbled, competitors like Ethereum have soared in value and gained developer mindshare.
The new agreement aims to bridge the divide between the warring factions, bringing Bitcoin users faster processing times and lower transaction fees. The larger question is whether this deal will become the foundation for a new, more collaborative approach to expanding the Bitcoin network—or whether it will merely represent a temporary ceasefire in the Bitcoin community's increasingly bitter civil war.
Kaspersky has finally launched its free antivirus software after a year-and-a-half of testing it in select regions. While the software was only available in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, China and in Nordic countries during its trial run, Kaspersky is releasing it worldwide. The free antivirus doesn't have VPN, Parental Controls and Online Payment Protection its paid counterpart offers, but it has all the essential features you need to protect your PC. It can scan files and emails, protect your PC while you use the web and quarantine malware that infects your system.
The company says the software isn't riddled with advertisements like other free antivirus offerings. Instead of trying to make ad money off your patronage, Kaspersky will use the data you contribute to improve machine learning across its products. The free antivirus will be available in the US, Canada and most Asia-Pacific countries over the next couple of days, if it isn't yet. After this initial release, the company will roll it out in other regions from September to November.
ACLU* national legal director David Cole warns that this new piece of legislation is a serious problem to free speech. He says that just discussing the boycott of Israel could land you in prison for 20 years and fined $1 million.
The right to boycott has a long history in the United States, from the American Revolution to Martin Luther King Jr.'s Montgomery bus boycott to the campaign for divestment from businesses serving apartheid South Africa. Nowadays we celebrate those efforts. But precisely because boycotts are such a powerful form of expression, governments have long sought to interfere with them — from King George III to the police in Alabama, and now to the U.S. Congress.
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, legislation introduced in the Senate by Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and in the House by Peter J. Roskam (R-Ill.), would make it a crime to support or even furnish information about a boycott directed at Israel or its businesses called by the United Nations, the European Union or any other "international governmental organization." Violations would be punishable by civil and criminal penalties of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison. The American Civil Liberties Union, where we both work, takes no position for or against campaigns to boycott Israel or any other foreign country. But since our organization's founding in 1920, the ACLU has defended the right to collective action. This bill threatens that right.
As a European myself I find it very strange that such a law can ever be officially proposed. And in the US of all countries where the freedom of speech in codified in the constitution.
What do you make of it?
*American Civil Liberties Union
Ryzen chip sales have boosted AMD's "Computing and Graphics" revenue significantly. AMD's CEO Lisa Su noted that game and content developers have optimized for the Ryzen architecture:
Ryzen was the star of AMD's second-quarter earnings call Tuesday: The processors helped boost earnings 19 percent compared to a year ago. Company executives also had two messages for gamers: one, that game developers had largely completed their code optimizations for Ryzen, and two, that miners who hoarded graphics cards wouldn't be around forever.
[...] Ryzen sales had a profound impact on second-quarter sales. AMD's Computing and Graphics segment revenue rose a whopping 59 percent year over year to $659 million. AMD's other segment, covering the enterprise and chips for game consoles, fell 5 percent to $563 million. Overall, AMD lost $16 million (or took in $19 million in profits, without charges) and reported $1.22 billion in revenue.
Ryzen 3 CPUs will begin shipping on July 27th, and AMD will launch new Vega GPUs at SIGGRAPH (July 30 - August 3).
Scientists can use the shavings of a polyvinyl chloride eraser used on old books to identify bookworm species, which types of animals were used to make parchment and leather bindings, and even isolate microbial and human DNA:
[Researchers found that the 12th-century copy of the Gospel of Luke had a cover that] was made of the skin of roe deer, a species common in the United Kingdom. But the strap was made from a larger deer species, either native red deer or fallow deer introduced from continental Europe, possibly by the Normans after their invasion in 1066. [postdoctoral fellow Sarah] Fiddyment speculates that the book may have captured a transitional moment when native roe deer were declining and landowners and monasteries stocked parks with bigger deer.
[...] Parchment eraser shavings also yield DNA that can trace specific breeds and their use over time. For example, in a 2014 study of DNA from two pieces of parchment from the 1600s and 1700s, [biochemist Matthew] Collins's team showed that a big shift occurred in the breed of sheep raised in the midlands of the United Kingdom, from a scrappier, black-faced, highland variety to a meatier, lowland breed.
[...] The York Gospels also offer a rare record of the people of the book: Almost 20% of the DNA [postdoc Matthew] Teasdale extracted from its eraser shavings came from humans or microbes shed by humans, he announced at the symposium. This is the only surviving Gospel book to contain the oaths taken by U.K. clergymen between the 14th and 16th centuries, and it's still used in ceremonies today. Pages containing oaths were read, kissed, and handled the most, and these pages were particularly rich in microbial DNA from humans, Teasdale reported.
For example, researchers identified DNA from bacteria known to live in human skin and noses, including an abundance of two genera—Propionibacterium, which causes acne, and Staphylococcus, which includes strains that cause staph. Thus the "crud" that mars the surface of many books and documents is a well-preserved bioarchive of bacteria that infected people who handled the books, [historian Peter] Stallybrass says.
Of course, how much of that DNA is contamination by recent handlers of a manuscript is tough to tell. Researchers are seeking creative solutions to find out. Many medieval manuscripts contain pages with darkened or discolored areas and smudged fingerprints, signs of being regularly touched or kissed long ago. If Teasdale could sample such smudges in devotional prayer books used heavily by one person, he predicts that "the main user's original DNA could be retrievable." For example, an image of Christ on the cross in the Missal of the Haarlem Linen Weavers Guild (circa 1400 C.E.) was apparently kissed repeatedly by a Dutch priest, who may have left secretions from his lips and nose on the feet of Christ and on the cross. Eraser shaving DNA might reveal that priest's hair and eye color, ailments, and ancestry.
By sampling roughly dated parchment documents, researchers could also trace changes in the ethnic identity of people who made and used books over time, and perhaps identify some of their diseases. Bradley is seeking samples from books that have identifiable contrasts between early and later users, such as books that have been moved from one continent to another.
Will we sequence the genome of Isaac Newton?