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I usually take my coffee:

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[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:130 | Votes:176

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday September 26, @08:41AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the state-of-the-art dept.

Co-founder of Netscape (formerly Mosaic Communications Corporation) and of, Jamie Zawinski, has some brief comments about the current situation with Mozilla and its browser.

Back to Mozilla -- in my humble but correct opinion, Mozilla should be doing two things and two things only:

  1. Building THE reference implementation web browser, and
  2. Being a jugular-snapping attack dog on standards committees.
  3. There is no 3.

And they just completely threw in the towel on standards when they grabbed their ankles and allowed W3C to add DRM. At this point, I assume Mozilla's voice on the standards committees has all the world-trembling gravitas of "EFF writes amicus brief."

By the way, one dynamic that the cited article missed is that a huge part of the reason for Google's "investment" in Mozilla was not just to drive search traffic -- it was antitrust insurance. Mozilla continuing to exist made Chrome not be the only remaining web browser, and that kept certain wolves at bay.

Google has decided that they don't need to buy antitrust insurance any more. Wonder why.

Jamie is responding to the summary of the current situation with Mozilla outlined by software engineer Cal Paterson who points out that Firefox usage is down 85% despite Mozilla's top exec pay having gone up 400%.

One of the most popular and most intuitive ways to evaluate an NGO is to judge how much of their spending is on their programme of works (or "mission") and how much is on other things, like administration and fundraising. If you give money to a charity for feeding people in the third world you hope that most of the money you give them goes on food - and not, for example, on company cars for head office staff.

Mozilla looks bad when considered in this light. Fully 30% of all expenditure goes on administration. Charity Navigator, an organisation that measures NGO effectiveness, would give them zero out of ten on the relevant metric. For context, to achieve 5/10 on that measure Mozilla admin would need to be under 25% of spending and, for 10/10, under 15%.

(2020) Mozilla Lays Off 250, Including Entire Threat Management Team
(2020) Firefox Browser Use Drops as Mozilla's Worst Microsoft Edge Fears Come True
(2020) The Web Is Now Too Complex To Allow The Creation of New Browsers
(2019) The Future of Browsers

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday September 26, @06:20AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the "Back-to-the-Future"-cannot-not-happen dept.

Young physicist 'squares the numbers' on time travel:

Paradox-free time travel is theoretically possible, according to the mathematical modelling of a prodigious University of Queensland undergraduate student.

Fourth-year Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) student Germain Tobar has been investigating the possibility of time travel, under the supervision of UQ physicist Dr Fabio Costa.

"Classical dynamics says if you know the state of a system at a particular time, this can tell us the entire history of the system," Mr Tobar said.

[...] "For example, if I know the current position and velocity of an object falling under the force of gravity, I can calculate where it will be at any time.

"However, Einstein's theory of general relativity predicts the existence of time loops or time travel -- where an event can be both in the past and future of itself -- theoretically turning the study of dynamics on its head."

[...] "I wondered: "is time travel mathematically possible?"

Mr Tobar and Dr Costa say they have found a way to "square the numbers" and Dr Costa said the calculations could have fascinating consequences for science.

"The maths checks out -- and the results are the stuff of science fiction," Dr Costa said.

[...] "Try as you might to create a paradox, the events will always adjust themselves, to avoid any inconsistency.

"The range of mathematical processes we discovered show that time travel with free will is logically possible in our universe without any paradox."

Journal Reference:
Germain Tobar, Fabio Costa. Reversible dynamics with closed time-like curves and freedom of choice - IOPscience, Classical and Quantum Gravity (DOI: 10.1088/1361-6382/aba4bc)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday September 26, @03:59AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the now-imagine-a-venomous...Ent dept.

Australia Has Venomous Snakes, Spiders, And... Trees:

From snakes and spiders to jellyfish and cone snails, Australia has no shortage of venomous animals. As new research published in Science Advances shows, Australia even harbors venomous plants belonging to the Dendrocnide genus, namely Dendrocnide excelsa and Dendrocnide moroide, both of which are known as "gympie-gympie" in the local indigenous Gubbi Gubbi language.

[...] Dendrocnide plants are "notorious for producing [an] excruciatingly painful sting, which unlike those of their European and North American relatives can cause symptoms that last for days or weeks," Irina Vetter, a co-author of the study, explained in a press release. Similar to other nettles, the stinging tree "is covered in needle-like appendages called trichomes that are around five millimetres in length," she said. They look like fine hairs but "actually act like hypodermic needles that inject toxins when they make contact with skin," said Vetter, an associate professor at the University of Queensland.

[...] In the state of Queensland, it is not uncommon to find warning signs along forest tracks, alerting unwary visitors to the presence of Dendrocnide species and the potency of their sting. This signage is justified given that D. moroides has been implicated in hospitalization of two individuals requiring intensive care for 36 hours who suffered from acute pain that reportedly did not respond to morphine and ongoing symptoms lasting months. This long-lasting pain is also typical of other Dendrocnide species stings, with episodic pain typically subsiding over several weeks, although [painful tingling and prickling sensations] may persist longer.

[...] As the new research shows, this toxin makes permanent alterations to the sodium channels in sensory neurons. Sodium channels are a membrane protein that play a critical role in the formation of pain, which they do through the excitation of neurons. In tests, gympietides was shown to activate the sensory neurons of mice and then prevent them from shutting back down. So this venom—in addition to generating the pain signals—interrupts the mechanism responsible for stopping those signals. That is, in a word, nasty, and it explains why pain sometimes lasts so long after the encounter with the tree.

Journal Reference:
Edward K. Gilding, Sina Jami, Jennifer R. Deuis, et al. Neurotoxic peptides from the venom of the giant Australian stinging tree [open], Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb8828)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday September 26, @01:38AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the squishy! dept.

New 3D printing tech produces smaller-than-ever soft gel objects:

If higher-energy/shorter-wavelength electron beams or X-rays were used instead of ultraviolet or visible light, it would be possible to create items with finer structural detail – this is because it's possible to more tightly focus the beams of those types of radiation. Additionally, no light-sensitive molecules would be required, as the beams could work directly on the polymer chains.

Unfortunately, though, the scanning electron microscopes or X-ray microscopes required to produce the beams must be operated in a vacuum. If the water/polymer mixture were to be placed in such a vacuum, it would evaporate before forming into a gel.

Led by Dr. Andrei Kolmakov, scientists at America's National Institute of Standards and Technology have developed a work-around. By placing an ultra-thin sheet of silicon nitride over the liquid chamber, they protected the solution within from the required vacuum, while still allowing electron beams and X-rays to penetrate through.

The researchers were therefore able to create gels containing structures as small as 100 nanometers in width, which is about one one-thousandth the width of a human hair. Once the system is refined further, it is hoped that it will be possible to print items as small as 50 nanometers – about the size of a small virus.

The approach is mainly thought to find application in medical implants and nanotechnology.

Journal Reference:
Tanya Gupta, Evgheni Strelcov, Glenn Holland, et. al. Electron and X-ray Focused Beam-Induced Cross-Linking in Liquids: Toward Rapid Continuous 3D Nanoprinting and Interfacing using Soft Materials, ACS Nano (DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.0c04266)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday September 25, @11:17PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Would-you-try-it? dept.

Russia offers its untested COVID-19 vaccine for free to UN officials:

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered UN staff free doses of the country's COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V[*], which has not completed clinical trials for efficacy and has not been thoroughly vetted for safety.

Still, Putin suggested that his offer was prompted by the desire to give the people what they want: "Some colleagues from the UN have asked about this, and we will not remain indifferent to them," he said during a speech Tuesday at this year's (virtual) General Assembly.

Putin made headlines last month after announcing that Russia has granted regulatory approval for the (limited) use of Sputnik V, the first country in the world to do so. He even boasted that one of his daughters had received her first dose of the vaccine.

But public health experts were quickly skeptical of the move, seeing it as merely a political stunt to give the appearance that Russia was "winning" the race to develop a vaccine against the pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. At the time, the vaccine had only been tested in two small clinical trials, involving just 76 people total—and the data from those small trials had not yet been released.

[...] Sputnik V has now moved into larger trials with tens of thousands of people. These will test whether the vaccine is safe in a larger number of people and actually protects against infection from SARS-CoV-2. But any clear results are months away.

Sputnik (n.):

"artificial satellite," extended from the name of the one launched by the Soviet Union Oct. 4, 1957, from Russian sputnik "satellite," literally "traveling companion" (in this use short for sputnik zemlyi, "traveling companion of the Earth")

(2020-08-04) Russia Preparing Mass Vaccination Against Coronavirus for October

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday September 25, @09:05PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the trust-us dept.

Nikola stock plunges 26% after fraud claims complicate hydrogen plans:

Shares of hydrogen truck startup Nikola plunged 26 percent on Wednesday after The Wall Street Journal reported that the company was struggling to find partners to build a planned network of hydrogen fueling stations. Nikola's stock closed at $21.15 on Wednesday, a decline of 57 percent from the $50 peak reached on September 8

[...] Nikola now concedes that the truck never worked and that a promotional video of the truck was made by rolling it down a hill.

Nikola argued that this was old news because Nikola is no longer marketing the Nikola One and has a working prototype of the Nikola Two. But the revelations threw the company into chaos and forced Milton to resign on Sunday.

New Report Claims Widespread Deception by Nikola Motor and Founder Trevor Milton
Nikola Motors Opening Reservations for Badger Electric Pickup Truck on June 27
Nikola Semi Startup Shines on Wall Street With $34BN Valuation

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday September 25, @06:54PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the put-two-atoms-together-to-make-a-molecule dept.

Intel Launches 10nm Atom Embedded CPUs: Elkhart Lake Now Available

The embedded and edge markets for Intel have always been hidden away within its IoT business, however at the Investor Meeting last year it was highlighted as one of Intel's key growth areas. The requirements for businesses to enable automation and control, as well as apply machine learning or computer vision, have increased as new optimized algorithms and use cases enter the market, and this is the question that the new 10nm Atom Embedded CPUs are set to answer.

The new processors built with Tremont Atom cores will come as three series of processors: Pentium, Celeron, and Atom x6000E. These are all built with the same silicon die, offering up to four Atom cores with a 3.0 GHz turbo frequency, up to 850 MHz of Gen11 graphics (up to 32 EUs, three 4K60 displays), in TDPs ranging from 4.5 W to 12 W. All processors will support up to LPDDR4X-4267 or DDR4-3200. In-band ECC support is split - the Atom x6000E parts have it, but the Pentium and Celerons do not.

Some of the lineup will include a single ARM Cortex-M7 companion core:

According to Intel, the Atom x6000E family is its first product line to specifically target Internet of Things applications. This is not entirely true, considering that Atom SoCs such as Bay Trail E3800 and Apollo Lake E3900 have targeted IoT duty since the IoT term was invented. IoT was also the main focus of Intel's discontinued line of super low-power Quark processors.

Nevertheless, Intel has added a host of embedded-focused features starting with an Intel Programmable Services Engine (Intel PSE) built around a real-time Arm Cortex-M7 companion core. Intel PSE hosts new functions like remote, network proxy, embedded controller, and sensor hub. The Cortex-M7 is designed to run the open source, Intel-derived Zephyr RTOS.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday September 25, @04:41PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Shiny! dept.

Ancient Persians were making "20th-century" chromium steel 900 years ago:

One manuscript in particular grabbed their attention. Titled al-Jamahir fi Marifah al-Jawahir, which translates to "A Compendium to Know the Gems", the manuscript was written in the 10th or 11th century CE by the polymath Abu-Rayhan Biruni. Crucially, it contained the only known recipe for forging steel in high-temperature crucibles. The problem is, it can be difficult to follow a thousand-year-old recipe.

"The process of identification can be quite long and complicated and this is for several reasons," says Marcos Martinon-Torres, last author of the study. "Firstly, the language and the terms used to record technological processes or materials may not be used anymore, or their meaning and attribution may be different from those used in the modern science. Additionally, writing was restricted to social elites, rather than the individual that actually carried out the craft, which may have led to errors or omissions in the text."

One ingredient, referred to as "rusakhtaj," puzzled the archaeologists. Eventually they identified it as the ore mineral chromite, which can be used to make chromium crucible steel. Importantly, this was backed up by the discovery of traces of chromite and chromium in artifacts from the Chahak site.

Mixing chromium into steel to make tool steel or stainless steel was thought to be a 19th-20th century invention.

Journal Reference:
Rahil Alipour, Thilo Rehren, Marcos Martinón-Torres. Chromium crucible steel was first made in Persia, Journal of Archaeological Science (DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2020.105224)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday September 25, @02:28PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the poetry-from-the-Matrix? dept.

Arm Announces Neoverse V1 & N2 Infrastructure CPUs: +50% IPC, SVE Server Cores

Amazon's Graviton2 64-core Neoverse N1 server chip is the first of what should become a wider range of designs that will be driving the Arm server ecosystem forward and actively assaulting the infrastructure CPU market share that's currently dominated by the x86 players such as Intel and AMD.

[...] Today, we're ready to take the next step towards the next generation of the Neoverse platform, not only revealing the CPU microarchitecture previously known as Zeus, but a whole new product category that goes beyond the Neoverse N-series: Introducing the new Neoverse V-series and the Neoverse V1 (Zeus), as well as a new roadmap insertion in the form of the Neoverse N2 (Perseus).

[...] In terms of generational performance uplift, it's akin to Arm throwing down the gauntlet to the competition, achieving a ground-breaking +50[sic, % obvs] IPC boost compared to Neoverse N1 that we're seeing in silicon today. The performance uplift potential here is tremendous, as this is merely a same-process ISO-frequency upgrade, and actual products based on the V1 will also in all likelihood also see additional performance gains thanks to increased frequencies through process node advancements.

If we take the conservatively clocked Graviton2 with its 2.5GHz N1 cores as a baseline, a theoretical 3GHz V1 chip would represent an 80% uplift in per-core single-threaded performance. Not only would such a performance uptick vastly exceed any current x86 competition in the server space in terms of per-core performance, it would be enough to match the current best high-performance desktop chips from AMD and Intel today (Though we have to remember it'll compete against next-gen Zen3 Milan and Sapphire Rapids products).

[...] Alongside the Neoverse V1 platform, we've seen a roadmap insertion that previously wasn't there. The Perseus design will become the Neoverse N2, and will be the effective product-positioning successor to the N1. This new CPU IP represents a 40% IPC uplift compared to the N1, however still maintains the same design philosophy of maximising performance within the lowest power and smallest area.

Neoverse V1 is basically the server-oriented equivalent of the Cortex-X1 core, where performance is prioritized at the cost of less power efficiency and a greater die area (more cache, etc.). Neoverse N2 is more like (an unannounced successor of) Cortex-A78.

Also at TechPowerUp.

Related: Amazon Announces 64-core Graviton2 Arm CPU

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Friday September 25, @12:16PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

New Atlas:

The MoonRanger project is being led by William "Red" Whittaker, director of the CMU's Field Robotics Center. This is the third lunar research mission awarded to Whittaker by NASA since June of this year.

The new rover will be about the size of a suitcase and weigh roughly 24 lb (11 kg), though it will be very fast as rovers go and enjoy a high degree of autonomy as it makes detailed 3D maps of the lunar terrain. Because the MoonRanger is too small to send radio signals directly to Earth it will gather data independently and then upload it to the Astrobotic lander, which will deliver the rover to the surface. The lander will then relay the data to mission control.

Water they hoping to find?

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday September 25, @10:07AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the R.I.P. dept.

James Bond Villain Michael Lonsdale Dead At 89:

British-French actor Michael Lonsdale, best known for playing Hugo Drax in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker, has died in Paris aged 89, his agent has told AFP.

Lonsdale was also known in the English-speaking world as detective Claude Lebel [in] 1973's spy thriller The Day of the Jackal and as. M. in 1993's The Remains of the Day. In 1986 he starred opposite Sean Connery in the medieval drama The Name of the Rose.

He also appeared in Steven Spielberg's 2005 historical drama Munich, alongside future James Bond star Daniel Craig, and in 1998's action thriller Ronin.

[...] Lonsdale was born in Paris to English and Irish-French parents, and initially raised in Guernsey, then later in Casablanca, Morocco. He later returned to live in Paris, making his stage debut aged 24. He made his film debut in 1956.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday September 25, @07:58AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the extra-carb-compliant dept.

California bans new internal combustion engines, starting in 2035:

On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring that all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the state from 2035 be zero-emissions vehicles. Additionally, all drayage trucks—the ones that move containers around at places like the Port of Los Angeles—must also go emissions free by this date, as well as off-road vehicles and equipment. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles get an extra decade to comply, but by 2045 these too must ditch internal combustion engines.

Although this is the first such ICE ban in the United States, Governor Newsom is following in the footsteps of policymakers in Europe, China, and elsewhere. In 2016, Paris, Madrid, Athens, and Mexico City announced bans on new diesel vehicles from 2025. The same year, Germany's Bundesrat voted to outlaw new ICE vehicles from 2030, although this was not a binding resolution.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday September 25, @05:49AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the whittling-away dept.

DOJ unveils Trump administration's legislation to reform tech's legal liability shield:

The Department of Justice proposed legislation Wednesday to reform a key legal liability shield for the tech industry known as Section 230.

The draft legislation focuses on two areas of reform. First, it aims to narrow the criteria online platforms must meet to earn the liability protections granted by Section 230. Second, it would carve out the statute's immunity for certain cases, like offenses involving child sexual abuse.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects online platforms from liability for their users' posts, but it also allows them to moderate and remove harmful content without being penalized.

The statute's protections helped tech platforms grow from the early days of the internet but have come under scrutiny in recent years as lawmakers and regulators more broadly question the tech industry's power.

Several lawmakers have proposed reforms to Section 230 in recent months, and President Donald Trump signed an executive order in May targeting the law, claiming to crack down on alleged "censorship" by tech platforms. Trump introduced the order shortly after Twitter slapped fact-check labels on his tweets for the first time.

Representatives from Twitter, Google and Facebook were not immediately available to comment about the DOJ's proposal, which would need to be passed by Congress.

[...] The DOJ's proposal specifically states that nothing in the statute should prevent enforcement under other types of laws, including antitrust laws. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have all faced antitrust scrutiny from lawmakers and enforcers. Outlets including The New York Times have reported that the DOJ is preparing an antitrust case against Google that could come as soon as this month.

"Online censorship goes far beyond the issue of free speech, it's also one of protecting consumers and ensuring they are informed of their rights and resources to fight back under the law," White House spokesperson Judd Deere said in a statement Tuesday. "State attorneys general are on the front lines of this issue and President Trump wants to hear their perspectives."

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday September 25, @03:40AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the sudden-exposure dept.

Mozilla needs your help to expose YouTube's recommendation algorithm:

YouTube's recommendation algorithm drives more than 70% of the videos we watch on the site. But its suggestions have attracted criticism from across the spectrum.

A developer who's worked on the system said last year that it's "toxic" and pushes users towards conspiracy videos, but a recent study found it favors mainstream media channels and actively discourages viewers from watching radical content.

Mine, of course, suggests videos on charitable causes, doctoral degrees, and ethical investment opportunities. But other users receive less noble recommendations.

If you're one of them, a new browser extension from Mozilla could offer you some insights into the horrors lurking "Up next."

[...] After installing the RegretsReporter and playing a YouTube video, you can click the frowning face icon in your browser to report the video, the recommendations that led you to it, and any extra details on “your regret.” Mozilla researchers will then search for patterns that led to the recommendations.

[...] Alternatively, if you'd prefer to block the toxic temptations served up the algorithm, you can use another Chrome extension called Nudge to remove YouTube recommendations.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday September 25, @01:32AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the painted-into-a-corner dept.

YouTube: Copyright Lawsuit Plaintiff Uploaded Own Movies Then Claimed Mass Infringement * TorrentFreak:

Early July, Grammy award-winning musician Maria Schneider teamed up with Virgin Islands-based Pirate Monitor Ltd in a class action lawsuit targeting YouTube.

Filed in a California court, the complaint centered on YouTube's alleged copyright failures, including the company's refusal to allow "ordinary creators" to have access to its copyright management tools known as Content ID.

[...] Schneider informed the court that a number of her songs had been posted to YouTube without her permission, noting that she had twice been refused access to Content ID and the "automatic and preemptive blocking" mechanisms that are available to larger rightsholders.

For its part, Pirate Monitor Ltd claimed that its content, including the movie Immigrants – Jóska menni Amerika, was illegally uploaded to YouTube hundreds of times. The company said that while YouTube responded to takedown notices, they often took too long to process. Access to YouTube's Content ID system was denied, Pirate Monitor added.

YouTube Responds to Complaint, Files Counterclaims

[...] Firstly, Pirate Monitor Ltd cannot be trusted since it has already engaged in fraudulent behavior in respect of Content ID. As for Schneider, not only is she suing YouTube over copyrighted music that she and her agents have already granted YouTube a license to use, her own agent has also used Content ID to generate revenue from those works on her behalf.

While the claim that Schneider licensed her content to YouTube and made money through Content ID is surprising, that pales into insignificance when compared to the allegations against Pirate Monitor Ltd.

[...] In addition to requesting damages to compensate for the harm caused by Pirate Monitor's actions, YouTube demands a punitive damages award to compensate for its "fraudulent conduct".

The video platform also seeks an injunction barring Pirate Monitor and its agents from submitting any further DMCA notices that wrongfully claim that material on the YouTube service infringes copyrights held (or are claimed to be held) by Pirate Monitor or anyone it claims to represent.

YouTube and Google's Answer and Counterclaims can be found here (pdf)

Original Submission