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posted by martyb on Monday December 09, @03:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the SOC-it-to-me! dept.

If you were worried that the Snapdragon 8cx was too powerful, Qualcomm has announced two (mostly) cut-down models: the Snapdragon 8c and 7c:

Qualcomm Windows on Snapdragon: New 7c & 8c SoCs for sub-$800 Laptops

Last year Qualcomm introduced its flagship Snapdragon 8cx platform for premium always-connected PCs (ACPCs) that packed the best technologies that the company had to offer at the time. Being a no-compromise solution, the Snapdragon 8cx was not meant for every ACPC out there, so this week the company expanded the lineup of its SoCs for laptops with the Snapdragon 7c for entry-level machines and the Snapdragon 8c for mainstream always-connected notebooks.

Qualcomm aimed its Snapdragon 8cx primarily at flagship devices ACPCs and therefore maxed out its performance and capabilities, as well as offering the ability to add a 5G modem inside. To day the SoC has won only three designs: the Lenovo 5G laptop (which is yet to ship), the Microsoft Surface Pro X (which uses a semi-custom version called SQ1), and the Samsung Galaxy Book S — all of which are going to cost well over $1000.

In a bid to address more affordable machines, Qualcomm will roll-out its slightly cheaper Snapdragon 8c SoC that is the same silicon as the 8cx, but will feature a tad lower performance. The 7c by comparison is a new chip that will also have a smartphone counterpart, and is aimed at sub-$400 devices, according to analyst Patrick Moorehead. Qualcomm even stated that the 7c is going to target Chromebook equivalents, if not ChromeOS itself.

The 7c supports 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) while the other two chips support 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5).

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday December 09, @01:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the Swan-song? dept.

Intel's CEO Bob Swan is looking beyond CPU market share:

"We think about having 30% share in a $230 billion [silicon] TAM[*] that we think is going to grow to $300 billion [silicon] TAM over the next 4 years, and frankly, I'm trying to destroy the thinking about having 90% share inside our company because, I think it limits our thinking, I think we miss technology transitions. we miss opportunities because we're, in some ways pre-occupied with protecting 90, instead of seeing a much bigger market with much more innovation going on, both Inside our four walls, and outside our four walls, so we come to work in the morning with a 30% share, with every expectation over the next several years, that we will play a larger and larger role in our customers success, and that doesn't just [mean] CPUs.

It means GPUs, it means Al, it does mean FPGAs, it means bringing these -technologies together so we're solving customers' problems. So, we're looking at a company with roughly 30% share in a $288 billion silicon TAM, not CPU TAM but silicon TAM. We look at the investments we've been making over the last several years in these kind of key technology inflections: 5G At autonomous, acquisitions, including Altera, that we think is more and more relevant both in the cloud but also ai the network and at the edge, and we see a much bigger opportunity, and our expectations are that we're going to gain our fair share at that much larger TAM by Investing in these key technology inflections." - Intel CEO Bob Swan

A 30% TAM in all of silicon would mean that Intel not only has more room to grow but is a lot more diversified as well. With the company working on the Nervana processor as well as its Xe GPU efforts, it seems poised to start clawing market share in new markets. Interestingly, it also means that Intel is not interested in defending its older title of being the CPU champion and will actually cede space to AMD where required. To me, this move is reminiscent of Lisa Su's decision to cede space in the GPU side of things to turn AMD around.

Intel's business strategy is now focused on whatever an "XPU" is as well as GPUs, FPGAs, machine learning accelerators, and next-generation memory/storage:

This means the company intends to continue making its heaviest bets in areas such as Optane storage, hardware Artificial Intelligence acceleration, 5G modems, data center networking, and more. The slide that really drives this commitment home comes from Q2's investor meeting that explicitly shows the company moving from a "protect and defend" strategy to a growth strategy. If this slide were in a sales meeting, it wouldn't say much—but delivered to the company's investors, it gains a bit of gravitas.

Most of this was revealed nearly six months ago at the company's May 2019 investor's meeting, but the Q3 investor's meeting last week continues with and strengthens this story for Intel's future growth, with slides more focused on Optane, network, and IoT/Edge market growth than with the traditional PC and server market.

[*] TAM = Total Addressable Market.

Related: Intel Promises "10nm" Chips by the End of 2019, and More
Intel's Interim CEO Robert Swan Becomes Full-Time CEO
AMD Gains Market Share in Desktops, Laptops, and Servers as of Q4 2018
PC Market Decline Blamed on Intel, AMD to See Gains
Intel Chip Shortages - at Least Another Quarter or Two to Go, Say PC Execs
Intel announces $20 billion increase in stock buybacks (from $4.5 billion)
Intel Xe High Performance Computing GPUs will use Chiplets

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday December 08, @11:09PM   Printer-friendly

Luxembourg expands its space resources vision

Étienne Schneider, deputy prime minister of Luxembourg, frequently tells the story of how he got interested in building a space resources industry in the country. His efforts to diversify the country's economy several years ago led to a meeting with Pete Worden, at the time the director of NASA's Ames Research Center and a proponent of many far-reaching space concepts. During an Oct. 22 panel discussion at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Washington, he recalled Worden advocating for commercial space: "Why shouldn't you go for space mining activities?"

"When he explained all this to me, I thought two things," Schneider said. "First of all, what did the guy smoke before coming into the office? And second, how do I get him out of here?"

He eventually bought into Worden's vision, starting a space resources initiative that attracted companies to the country while enacting a space resources law like that in the United States. By the beginning of 2019, though, it looked like it might all be a bad trip. The two major startups in that industry, Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, had been acquired by other companies with no interest in space resources. Worse, the Planetary Resources deal wiped out an investment of 12 million euros Luxembourg made in the startup.

Schneider is undaunted by those setbacks as he continues work to make Luxembourg a hotbed of entrepreneurial space, a scope that has expanded beyond, but has not abandoned, space resources. During the IAC, the country's year-old space agency signed an agreement with NASA to explore potential cooperation, building on an agreement Luxembourg signed with the U.S. Commerce Department in May. Just before the conference, Luxembourg announced it would partner with the European Space Agency on a space resources center in the country.

The article includes an interview with Schneider.

Previously: Luxembourg Announces Investment in Asteroid Mining


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday December 08, @08:48PM   Printer-friendly

Web pioneer, standards activist, and co-founder of the Pirate Party of Norway, Håkon Wium Lie, writes that not only has the Norwegian public's access to its own written laws been re-confirmed but that his project has been credited for bringing the court around to that decision. Håkon has been leading the work to publish Norwegian law online since 1994 and the right to print the law goes back to the early 1800s and the Norwegian constitution. However, in 2018 he and his project were sued by a private foundation wishing to block that right.

We have fabulous news! The Norwegian government has announced an effort to give the public access to court decisions – and credited the project for being the inspiration!

As inspiration, Frølich refers to the project ... which published court decisions freely on the web. Two of the volunteer behind the project, Håkon Wium Lie and Fredrik Ljone, were sued by Lovdata and finally lost in the Supreme Court.
—Their case was idealistic, and they tried to make it happen by themselves. They finally lost in the Supreme Court, but won my and many others' hearts. Their principles were clearly right, says Frølich.

This is a stunning development in a case that could easily have ended up with two people being sued and silenced by a mighty monopolist. Support from our fellow citizens, combined with our strong beliefs in public access to public information made us fight the lawsuit rather than back down. As a result, we liberated 166 years on Norwegian Supreme Court decisions. But the Supreme Court itself barred us from publishing decisions from 2003-2008. More on that below.

Earlier on SN:
Court Bites Håkon Wium Lie Over Public Domain Norwegian Court Decisions (2018)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday December 08, @06:27PM   Printer-friendly
from the beating-a-cremated-horse dept.

FTC kicks feet through ash pile that once was Cambridge Analytica with belated verdict

The US Federal Trade Commission has issued what looks to be a largely symbolic ruling against the remnants of data-harvesting marketers Cambridge Analytica.

In a unanimous 5-0 ruling (PDF) issued on Friday, the trade body declared that the defunct British marketing intelligence operation ran afoul of laws against deceptive business practices and was in violation of the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework.

The findings stem from the FTC's July complaint filing against Cambridge Analytica, alleging that the political marketing company lied to Facebook users when it pitched its GSRApp as a "personality test" that would not collect or sell identifiable information.

In reality, Cambridge Analytica was found to have collected personal information on tens of millions of people and then used that data to train algorithms for specifically-targeted campaign ads. That, the FTC says, was definitely not legal.

[...] Not that any of this will mean much in the grand scheme of things. Cambridge Analytica was shut down as a going concern last year, and its CEO and App Developer settled their involvement back in July.

Still, the ruling makes it official record that Cambridge Analytica broke the law and was subject to legal action as a result.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday December 08, @04:05PM   Printer-friendly
from the why-we-can't-have-nice-things dept.

WinRAR Nukes Pirate Keygen But is a "Good Guy" Towards Regular Users - TorrentFreak

Perhaps the most curious thing about this ubiquitous tool is that while WinRAR gives the impression of being free, technically it is paid software. Users get a 40-day period to trial the tool and then, if they like it, they can part with cash in order to obtain a license.

However, WinRAR never times out and relies completely on users’ inclination to pay for something that doesn’t need to be paid for to retain functionality. As a result, WinRAR has huge numbers of pirate users yet the company does pretty much nothing to stop them.

Those who do pay for a license get rid of a ‘nag’ screen and gain a couple of features that most people don’t need. But for pirates (and the tool is massively popular with pirates), an unlicensed WinRAR still does what it’s supposed to, i.e unpacking all those pesky compressed pirate releases.

Of course, there are people out there who would still rather not pay a penny to use a piece of software that is essentially free to use. So, in order to obtain a ‘license’ and get rid of the nag screen, they use a piece of software called a ‘keygen’ that generates one for them.

[...]“[I]n the field of private users we have always been the ‘good guys’ by not starting legal actions against every private user using it beyond the trial period, thus we also don’t understand the need of pirated license keys for WinRAR,” the company concludes.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday December 08, @01:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the validate-your-inputs dept.

A data entry error in the Utah State Tax Commission office for Wasatch County caused the value of a home to be over-valued by close to ~$1 Billion dollars.

In May, an error was made which recorded a house built in 1978 as having a value of more than $987 million in the 2019 tax rolls.

In reality, the home should only have had a 2019 taxable value of $302,000.

Wasatch County Assessor Maureen 'Buff' Griffiths told officials last month a staff member may have dropped a phone on a keyboard. Griffiths said the 'horrific' and 'bizarre' mistake has resulted in a countywide overvaluation of more than $6 million

Wasatch county is sparsely populated with a population of 23,530 in its 1,206 square mile area (averaging 19 individuals per square mile). This single mistake flowed through the system causing the county office to significantly overestimate revenue and increase budgets upward, with the consequence that

the blunder has since produced revenue shortfalls in five taxing entities, with budgets already approved.

In Wasatch County's budget, the shortfall is more than $1 million. The Wasatch County Fire District will be short about $253,000, the Wasatch County Parks District will be short about $138,000, and Central Utah Water will be short about $217,000, according to a tax correction notice circulated by the county.

But the biggest blow is to Wasatch County School District, which is short about $4.4 million.

Perhaps unsurprisingly,

Taxpayers may now have to pay for the shortfall, with tax increases over the next three years

County Manager Mike Davis indicates that existing checks should have caught the error, but that in the future they would 'do a better job.'

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday December 08, @11:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the where's-my-jet-pack? dept.

Designers rendered images of flying car patents from the last century - Business Insider

"Blade Runner" predicted that in 2019 we'd zoom around Los Angeles in flying cars, but that hasn't quite worked out. Although this forecast hasn't manifested in actual vehicles beyond basic prototypes, there's been no shortage of optimistic inventors eager to throw together their own designs. 

Scottish leasing comparison startup LeaseFetcher charged creative studio NeoMam with the task of bringing patent sketches to life with realistic renderings. The patents span from nearly 100 years ago in 1921 to as recently as 2016.

Flying cars no longer seem like the clear vision of the future that they once were. Waymo, Uber,Tesla, and other companies have instead turned their efforts towards self-driving technology, but these renderings offer a look at how people in the past envisioned the future. Scroll to see drawings from patents, and how designers rendered them.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday December 08, @08:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the and-how-does-that-make-you-feel dept.

CIMON 2 (Crew Interactive MObile companioN 2) is a free-floating spherical robot designed to recognize emotions of astronauts, that strongly resembles an oversized Tamagotchi.

"The overall goal is to really create a true companion. The relationship between an astronaut and CIMON is really important," Matthias Biniok, the lead architect for CIMON 2, said.

"It's trying to understand if the astronaut is sad, is he angry, joyful and so on."

CIMON 2 is a successor to CIMON, launched in 2018, however "CIMON 2 will be more sociable with crew members."

In times of conflict or disagreement among astronauts, one of CIMON's most important purposes would be to serve as "an objective outsider that you can talk to if you're alone, or could actually help let the group collaborate again," he said.

The betazoid beach ball was included in SpaceX's 19th resupply mission to the space station which launched on December 5th.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday December 08, @06:17AM   Printer-friendly
from the how-did-that-get-there? dept.

Submitted via IRC for chromas

'Randomizers' Are Breathing New Life Into Old Games

Like a longtime partner or a favorite pair of socks, there's comfort to be found in revisiting a familiar game from your youth. There's a sense of ease knowing what lies inside each treasure chest, which bush an enemy will spring from, or the secret tactic that vanquishes a foe with ease. That calming intimacy makes games like these an easy nostalgic choice when you just want to take a load off.

But what if you want to add some spice back to that familiar experience? After playing a classic game to the point of memorization, how do you recapture the sense of adventure and discovery you experienced the first time you played it? A small but growing community in the retro emulation scene is aiming to answer those questions with a class of mods and hacks called "randomizers."

At their most basic level, randomizer mods shuffle the data in a game's ROM so that each run becomes a new and unpredictable experience. So The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past randomizer could change which items you find in which chests, alter the rewards from dungeon quests, and even replace Link's sprite for one of the numerous fan-created options (the Mega Man X sprite is a personal favorite). And you can go even further than that, changing the exit locations for various in-game doors or even scattering the boss keys for specific dungeons throughout the world (rather than in the dungeons themselves)!

What started as a small niche has now evolved into its own retrogaming genre. The BIG List of Video Game Randomizers website, started back in 2016, now lists hundreds of randomization mods for games from Metroid Prime, Golden Sun, and Earthbound to Faxanadu, Adventure Island, and Doom. The list is still updated weekly with new titles, so if your favorite isn't listed yet, it may be soon.

Different randomizer mods allow for different levels of randomization, but the idea of mixing up locations of items or discovered skills and abilities is rather standard. Some retain the title's intended structure but change the rewards and items you find on your journey. Others completely alter the way the game is played.

[...]Randomizers add near-infinite replayability to tired-old games, with fresh challenges for players to overcome with each playthrough. They test the player's skill and knowledge of the game instead of simply the muscle memory gained from years of experience. By limiting the player's ability to rely on their autopilot memory, the focus turns instead to quick adaptation and problem solving.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday December 08, @03:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the business-as-usual dept.

H-1B visa: New registration system will start in March

A new electronic registration system intended to streamline the expensive and cumbersome H-1B application process will be in place for the upcoming application season, with an earlier deadline, the federal government said Friday afternoon.

Instead of submitting a detailed and labor-intensive initial H-1B application for each foreign worker a company wants to hire, employers will instead submit registration documents requiring only basic information about the company and worker, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration said.

The registration period, for H-1B applications subject to the annual 85,000 cap on new visas, will run from March 1 through March 20, the agency said.

If enough registrations come in to trigger the H-1B lottery, the registrations will be selected by lottery, according to the agency.

“Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions,” the agency said.

Under the previous system, employers would mail in lengthy applications, which typically cost thousands of dollars in preparation costs and filing fees, during a five-day window starting April 1.

Now, employers will pay $10 for each registration, and only pay application fees if their registration is selected in the lottery and they become eligible to apply.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday December 08, @01:13AM   Printer-friendly
from the elongated-pedo-musk dept.

Jury sides with Elon Musk in "pedo guy" defamation case

A Los Angeles federal jury has found Elon Musk not liable for defamation in a lawsuit brought by British caver Vernon Unsworth. Musk dubbed Unsworth a "pedo guy" in a tweet last year, but argued in court that he meant this as a generic insult—not as an accusation that Unsworth was a pedophile.

"My faith in humanity is restored," Musk reportedly said on his way out of court.

Musk and Unsworth have been trading insults since last July, when Unsworth mocked a miniature submarine SpaceX engineers created to help rescue a dozen boys trapped in a cave in Thailand (it didn't arrive in time to be useful). In an interview with CNN, Unsworth said that Musk should "stick his submarine where it hurts."

Musk responded with a tweet labeling Unsworth a "pedo guy" and vowing to prove that the submarine would have been able to squeeze through the narrowest passages in the cave.

Musk's defamation win may reset legal landscape for social media

The victory by Tesla Inc's outspoken chief executive over a Twitter message describing a British cave explorer as "pedo guy" has raised the bar for what amounts to libel online, according to some legal experts.

Musk defended his comments as trivial taunts made on a social media platform that he argued everyone views as a world of unfiltered opinion, which is protected as free speech, rather than statements of fact.

"I think this verdict reflects that there is a feeling that internet tweets and chats are more like casual conversation whether you call it opinion or rhetoric or hyperbole and should not be punished in a lawsuit," said Chip Babcock, a lawyer who defends against defamation lawsuits.

Several other attorneys who specialize in defamation cases privately expressed surprise at the outcome of what they viewed as a strong case for the cave explorer, Vernon Unsworth. They attributed it to Musk's fame and the perceived youthfulness of the jury.

But they also agreed it would shift the legal landscape, undercutting the cases that would have seemed viable before the trial while defendants would use it to try to reduce possible settlement values.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Saturday December 07, @10:50PM   Printer-friendly

This Brainless, Single-Celled Blob Can Make Complex 'Decisions'

Tiny, brainless blobs might be able to make decisions: A single-celled organism can "change its mind" to avoid going near an irritating substance, according to new findings.

Over a century ago, American zoologist Herbert Spencer Jennings conducted an experiment on a relatively large, trumpet-shaped, single-celled organism called Stentor roeselii. When Jennings released an irritating carmine powder around the organisms, he observed that they responded in a predictable pattern, he wrote in his findings, which he published in a text called "Behavior of the Lower Organisms" in 1906.

[...] In the decades that followed, however, other experiments failed to replicate these findings, and so they were discredited. But recently, a group of researchers at Harvard University decided to re-create the old experiment as a side project. "It was a completely off-the-books, skunkworks project," senior author Jeremy Gunawardena, a systems biologist at Harvard, said in a statement. "It wasn't anyone's day job."

[...] "They do the simple things first, but if you keep stimulating, they 'decide' to try something else," Gunawardena said. "S. roeselii has no brain, but there seems to be some mechanism that, in effect, lets it 'change its mind' once it feels like the irritation has gone on too long."

A Complex Hierarchy of Avoidance Behaviors in a Single-Cell Eukaryote (open, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.10.059) (DX)

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Saturday December 07, @09:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the Y-or-Y-not dept.

The Atlantic reports aging causes men to lose Y chromosomes.

Researchers have found men who are missing the Y chromosome in as many as 87 percent of cells in their blood.

The Y chromosome is the smallest one, and errors make it more likely that it will fail to replicate during cell division. When this happens, future generations of those cells also no longer have a Y chromosome.

The ongoing loss of Y chromosomes correlates with increases in cancer.

In [samples of] blood, loss of the Y chromosome in some cells is the most commonly observed mosaicism, but there are countless other examples. In women, some blood cells lose one X chromosome. Other subsets of blood cells might gain a mutation in just one gene, lose only a small bit of a chromosome, or even gain an entire chromosome. (Red blood cells don't carry DNA at all, so this applies only to white blood cells.)

Perry and his colleagues also wanted to understand why the Y chromosome disappears in some men but not others. They looked into whether certain genetic variants on other chromosomes predisposed men one way or another, and they ended up finding 156 variants linked to Y-chromosome loss. Many are also near cancer-susceptibility genes, and having these same variants was correlated with higher risk of prostate and testicular cancer in men—as well as glioma, kidney, and other cancers in both men and women.

"That was, I think, the really interesting part," says Siddhartha Jaiswal, a pathologist at Stanford who studies blood. It suggests that losing a Y chromosome is probably not the ultimate cause of bad health outcomes correlated with it, because the women never had a Y chromosome to lose. Rather, the same genetic variants that predispose someone to Y-chromosome loss might be also putting that person at risk for cancer. The two outcomes could have a common cause, because both are rooted in errors in DNA. Cancer is the result of many accumulated mutations that allow a cell to replicate out of control. Y-chromosome loss is one big glaring mutation. Perry suggests both could be the result of some hitch in the normal process of responding to and repairing DNA damage."Y-chromosome loss is a manifestation of broader genome instability," he says. In other words, the disappearing Y chromosome is a sign the body is allowing DNA errors to accumulate.

But why is the Y chromosome lost more frequently than others? It is the smallest chromosome and possibly the most dispensable. "Probably because it carries relatively few genes, its loss is tolerated better than others," says David Steensma, an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. But the fact that Y-chromosome loss is so common, he says, also suggests it might confer some small advantage to the cells that have lost it. Researchers have found men who are missing the Y chromosome in as many as 87 percent of cells in their blood.

The case of prostate cancer is interesting. As men enter old age, they often end up with naturally higher levels of estrogen than women, as well as lower testosterone levels. This natural process might lower prostate cancer risk; men who take anti-androgens and estrogen to combat prostate cancer might just be giving nature a helping hand.

Genetic predisposition to mosaic Y chromosome loss in blood is associated with genomic instability in other tissues and susceptibility to non-haematological cancers, bioRxiv (DOI: 10.1101/514026)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday December 07, @07:54PM   Printer-friendly
from the search-me dept.

Mozilla's revenue in 2018 fell by nearly 20% compared to the year prior, and for the first time expenses outweighed income, the organization said in its annual financial report.

The nonprofit behind Firefox implied that the apparent downturn was misleading because of the comparison to record revenue of the year before. "2017 was an outlier, due in part to changes in the search revenue deal that was negotiated that year," Mozilla said in the "State of Mozilla 2018" report published on its website.

Mozilla also asserted that the revenue decline would not affect its work. "Despite the year-over-year change, Mozilla remains in a strong financial position with cash reserves to support continued innovation, partnerships and diversification of the Firefox product lines," the organization wrote.

Most of the $451 million in revenue the Mozilla Foundation recognized in 2018 came from royalty payments, with the bulk of that produced by deals struck for Firefox's default search spot. Mozilla Foundation is the nonprofit that in turn runs Mozilla Corp., the commercial organization that actually develops and maintains Firefox.

According to Mozilla's 2018 financial statement[0] released Nov. 21, the $451 million in overall revenue was $111 million less than in 2017, a plummet of 19.8%. The statement marked the first time Mozilla reported a year-over-year revenue decline in the 14 years that Computerworld has tracked the organization's financial health.

Of total revenue, $430 million, or about 95%, came from royalty payments. As always with Mozilla's revenue, the greatest portion of what the organization categorized as royalties came from search contracts. In 2018, those search deals accounted for 91% of all royalty revenue, Mozilla said, representing about $391 million. That was a whopping $110 million less than in 2017, a 22% decline. As with revenue, the search deal total was the first-ever search revenue slump in Mozilla's history.

Mozilla did not explain the massive decline in search revenue, other than the brief reference to 2017's number and how it was an "outlier."

0Bogus link. 2018 audited financial statement (pdf).

Original Submission