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Updated: 2015-07-26

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There seem to be more new Sci-Fi shows coming out now than ever. Tell me, Soylent, which is the best?

  • Zoo
  • Humans
  • Killjoys
  • Dark Matter
  • Sense 8
  • The Whispers
  • Other Space
  • Have I told you about how I don't own a TV, yet?

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:65 | Votes:201

posted by janrinok on Friday July 31, @04:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the sour-grapes-or-a-valid-point? dept.

Insurance industry officials warn that Uber drivers don't [always] have the proper accident coverage and are putting themselves and the public at risk when they get behind the wheel. That stark message, and a call for the city to regulate Uber drivers, came during what a pair of insurance officials and Councillor Jim Karygiannis called a "technical briefing" at Toronto City Hall Thursday.

They said many drivers for the controversial ride-sharing service are hiding their activity from insurers. By law, drivers must declare to their insurance company if they're driving passengers for hire so the insurer can provide the proper policy and accident coverage.


But Philomena Comerford, CEO of Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers, said in many cases this isn't happening with Uber drivers. That means Ontario's motorists could be hit with higher premiums because of "significant and unexpected" injury claims.

"This problem comes at time when the insurance industry is working hard with the Ontario government to reduce personal consumer automobile insurance rates which do not contemplate this commercial activity," she said.

MacGregor said Uber's $5-million supplementary policy covers the company, but not the drivers themselves.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday July 31, @03:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the another-outbreak-of-commonsense dept.

Proposed changes to the US government's export controls on hacking tools will likely be scaled back following widespread criticism from the infosec community, a government spokesman has said.

"A second iteration of this regulation will be promulgated," a spokesman for the US Department of Commerce told Reuters, "and you can infer from that that the first one will be withdrawn." The proposed restrictions are required by the Wassenaar Arrangement, a 41-nation pact that first came into effect in 1996 and which calls for limits on trade of "dual-use goods," meaning items that have both civilian and military applications.

In 2013, the list of goods governed under the Arrangement was amended to include technologies used for testing, penetrating, and exploiting vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks. Each company participating in the Arrangement is responsible for implementing the required export controls as it sees fit, but the rules proposed by the US were more sweeping than those put forth by other countries.

Security experts have complained that the language of the new rules, which the Commerce Department has made available for public comment since May, is overly broad and could have a chilling effect on the entire information security industry.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday July 31, @02:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the we-can-see-you dept.

BBC reports:

HIV can be flushed out of its hiding places in the body using a cancer drug, researchers show. The cornerstone of treatment, anti-retroviral therapy, kills the virus in the bloodstream but leaves "HIV reservoirs" untouched. The study, published in PLoS Pathogens, showed the drug was "highly potent" at reactivating hidden HIV.

Experts said the findings were interesting, but it was important to know if the drug was safe in patients.

The power of the HIV reservoir was shown with the case of the Mississippi baby. She was given antiretroviral drugs at birth. Despite appearing to be free of HIV for nearly two years after stopping treatment, she was found to be harbouring the virus.

A strategy known as "kick and kill" is thought to be key to curing HIV - the kick would wake up the dormant HIV allowing the drugs to kill it. The team at the UC Davis School of Medicine investigated PEP005 - one of the ingredients in a treatment to prevent cancer in sun-damaged skin. They tested the drug in cells grown in the laboratory and in parts of the immune system taken from 13 people with HIV.

The report said "PEP005 is highly potent in reactivating latent HIV" and that the chemical represents "a new group of lead compounds for combating HIV". One of the researchers, Dr Satya Dandekar, said: "We are excited to have identified an outstanding candidate for HIV reactivation and eradication that is already approved and is being used in patients."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday July 31, @01:48PM   Printer-friendly
from the still-using-TrueCrypt? dept.

ESET's WeLiveSecurity blog has released details of Win32/Potao malware attack campaigns on high-value targets in Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Belarus:

We presented our initial findings based on research into the Win32/Potao malware family in June, in our CCCC 2015 presentation in Copenhagen. Today, we are releasing the full whitepaper on the Potao malware with additional findings, the cyber-espionage campaigns where it was employed, and its connection to a backdoor in the form of a modified version of the TrueCrypt encryption software.

Like BlackEnergy, the malware used by the so-called Sandworm APT group (also known as Quedagh), Potao is an example of targeted espionage malware directed mostly at targets in Ukraine and a number of other post-Soviet countries, including Russia, Georgia and Belarus.

[...] An (A)PT malware family that has gone relatively unnoticed for five years and that has also been used to spy on Ukrainian governmental and military targets is certainly interesting in and of itself. However, perhaps the most attention-grabbing discovery related to this case was when we observed a connection to the popular open-source encryption software, TrueCrypt. We found out that the website has been serving modified versions of the encryption software that included a backdoor to selected targets. Clean versions of the application are served to normal visitors to the website, i.e. people who aren't of interest to the attackers. ESET detects the trojanized TrueCrypt as Win32/FakeTC. TrueCrypt Russia's domain was also used as a C&C server for the malware. The connection to Win32/Potao, which is a different malware family from Win32/FakeTC, is that FakeTC has been used to deliver Potao to victims' systems in a number of cases. FakeTC is not, however, merely an infection vector for Potao (and possibly other malware) but a fully functional and dangerous backdoor designed to exfiltrate files from the espionage victims' encrypted drives.

From The Register.

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Friday July 31, @12:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the caught-in-the-storm dept.

The Associated Press reports some disturbing data on the water quality in Rio De Janeiro, site of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Sewage treatment in Rio is in a sad state. There have been some half-assed efforts to build treatment plants, but they haven't kept pace with the city's rapid population growth, and most of the sewage just flows into rivers and streams untreated. The AP commissioned a study to measure bacteria and viruses in the outdoor water sport venues as well as some tourist beaches, and found dangerously high levels of pathogens in all of them.

Ivan Bulaja, the Croatian-born coach of Austria's 49er-class sailing team, has seen it firsthand. His sailors have lost valuable training days after falling ill with vomiting and diarrhea. "This is by far the worst water quality we've ever seen in our sailing careers," said Bulaja.

Training earlier this month in Guanabara Bay, Austrian sailor David Hussl said he and his teammates take precautions, washing their faces immediately with bottled water when they get splashed by waves and showering the minute they return to shore. And yet Hussl said he's fallen ill several times.

"I've had high temperatures and problems with my stomach," he said. "It's always one day completely in bed and then usually not sailing for two or three days." It is a huge risk for the athletes, the coach said.

"The Olympic medal is something that you live your life for," Bulaja said, "and it can really happen that just a few days before the competition you get ill and you're not able to perform at all."

Dr. Alberto Chebabo, who heads Rio's Infectious Diseases Society, said the raw sewage has led to "endemic" public health woes among Brazilians, primarily infectious diarrhea in children. By adolescence, he said, people in Rio have been so exposed to the viruses they build up antibodies. But foreign athletes and tourists won't have that protection.

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Friday July 31, @11:25AM   Printer-friendly
from the don't-tell-them-about-motorcycles dept.

Like record companies at the dawn of online music file sharing, Allstate, Geico, State Farm, and others are grappling with innovations that could put a huge dent in their revenue. As carmakers automate more aspects of driving, accidents will likely plunge and car owners will need less coverage. Premiums consumers pay could drop as much as 60 percent in 15 years as self-driving cars hit the roads, says Donald Light, head of the North America property and casualty practice for Celent, a research firm. His message for insurers: "You have to be prepared to see that part of your business shrink, probably considerably."

Auto insurance has long been a lucrative business. The industry collected about $195 billion in premiums last year from U.S. drivers. New customers are the source of so much profit that Geico alone spends more than $1 billion a year on ads to pitch its policies with a talking lizard and other characters. Yet even Warren Buffett, whose company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns Geico, is talking about the long-term risks to the business model. "If you could come up with anything involved in driving that cut accidents by 30 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent, that would be wonderful," he said at a conference in March. "But we would not be holding a party at our insurance company."

The loss of revenue for the insurance industry gives me a sad.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday July 31, @10:03AM   Printer-friendly
from the downside dept.

The latest Wikileaks drop is about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and its probable impact on "State Owned Enterprises." (SOE)

The Analysis of Leaked TPPA Paper for Ministers' Guidance on SOEs, by Professor Jane Kelsey, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland, New Zealand, makes specific reference to public broadcasters as SOEs that could be included under the TPP, and subject to a variety of new, yet undefined, restrictions.

That could mean the CBC in Canada, and likely NPR and PBS in the US. In particular, it's possible that the TPP might insist that governments not provide support (such as funding or protections) for these, and other essential public services.

From the report:

It looks like SOEs are not allowed to get government support or non-commercial assistance – such as capital injections, subsidies, grants, cheaper access to finance, government guarantees and access to land, premises or facilities on preferential terms – if that causes "adverse effects" to another TPPA country. That kind of support is often essential for SOEs that provide public functions that are not proftable or are even loss-making.

{snip} ... it suggests that a postal service, public telecommunications provider or state-owned bank that receives financial support from the government to deliver services into poor areas for social reasons could be challenged by a courier firm, satellite operator or internet bank from another country that says the support is adversely affecting it and hence its country's interests.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday July 31, @08:43AM   Printer-friendly
from the cough-choke dept.

The 3D design uses a transistor-less cross point architecture to create a 3D design of interconnects, where memory cells sit at the intersection of word lines and bit lines, allowing the cells to be addressed individually. This means data can be read or written to and from the actual cells containing data and not the whole chip containing relevant cells.

Beyond that, though, we don't know much about the memory, like exactly what kind of memory it is. Is it phase change memory, ReRAM, MRAM or some other kind of memory? The two won't say. The biggest unanswered question in my mind is the bus for this new memory, which is supposed to start coming to market next year. The SATA III bus used by virtually all motherboards is already considered saturated. PCI Express is a faster alternative assuming you have the lanes for the data.

Making memory 1000 times faster isn't very useful if it chokes on the I/O bus, which is exactly what will happen if they use existing technology. It would be like a one-lane highway with no speed limit.

It needs a new use model. It can't be positioned as a hard drive alternative because the interfaces will choke it. So the question becomes what do they do? Clearly they need to come up with their own bus. Jim Handy, an analyst who follows the memory space, thinks it will be an SRAM interface. SRAM is used in CPU caches. This would mean the 3D XPoint memory would talk directly to the CPU.

"The beauty of an SRAM interface is that its really, really fast. What's not nice is it has a high pin count," he told me.

He also likes the implementation from Diablo Technologies, which basically built SSD drives in the shape of DDR3 memory sticks that plug into your motherboard memory slots. This lets the drives talk to the CPU at the speed of memory and not a hard drive.

One thing is for sure, the bus will be what makes or breaks 3D XPoint, because what good is a fast read if it chokes on the I/O interface?

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Friday July 31, @07:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the lead-from-behind dept.

Upgrades of Windows 10 reset the default browser to Microsoft's new Edge browser, and this has caused Mozilla CEO Chris Beard to issue an open letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella:

[T]he update experience appears to have been designed to throw away the choice your customers have made about the Internet experience they want, and replace it with the Internet experience Microsoft wants them to have.

[...] We appreciate that it's still technically possible to preserve people's previous settings and defaults, but the design of the whole upgrade experience and the default settings APIs have been changed to make this less obvious and more difficult. It now takes more than twice the number of mouse clicks, scrolling through content and some technical sophistication for people to reassert the choices they had previously made in earlier versions of Windows. It's confusing, hard to navigate and easy to get lost.

Firefox's market share continues to drop by varying degrees according to analysis by Martin Brinkmann of

takyon: Microsoft reports that 14 million users took the plunge and installed Windows 10 yesterday. Microsoft has stated it wants Windows 10 on 1 billion devices within the next 3 years.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Friday July 31, @06:25AM   Printer-friendly
from the ongoing-investigation dept.

The Telegraph reports:

07.23 [2015-07-30 07:23 - The most recent items are at the top of the page]

A metallic object described as six to nine feet long and three feet wide was found on a beach on the east coast of Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean. The object had the code number "BB670" on it.

[...] Why do officials think the object is from [missing Malaysian airliner] MH370?

[...] First, aviation experts say the object appears to be from a Boeing 777--and no other such aircraft is believed to have gone missing in the region. No Boeing 777 has ever been lost at sea.

Second, ocean experts say the object [a flaperon] is exactly where debris would have washed up from the plane's presumed crash point, several thousand miles to the east. Currents in that part of the Indian Ocean move anti-clockwise and would have carried the object northwards from the current search zone, off the coast of Western Australia, and then westwards towards Reunion.

[...] 13.21
The man who found the piece of wreckage [...] Johnny Bègue [...] is [in] charge of a team of eight people who have a contract to keep the popular beach clean in the town of Saint-Andre in the east of the tropical island.

[...] the piece of a suitcase that may have been onboard flight MH370 lay unnoticed on the same beach [...] for nearly a day.

Related S/N stories

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Friday July 31, @05:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the hobby-vs-lobby dept.

To bring order to low-altitude airspace so its Project Wing delivery drones can get off the ground, Google is proposing a set of rules for operating aircraft below 500 feet. The proposal calls for all drones, including those flown by hobbyists, to constantly transmit identification and position information so airspace access and collision avoidance can be managed by computer.

The proposal, unveiled on Wednesday by Dave Vos, head of the Wing project, seeks to take moment-to-moment control of airspace under 500 feet away from air traffic control authorities and put it in the hands of private airspace service providers, he said. These companies, which he called ASPs, would receive data from all craft in flight, including hobbyist drones, emergency helicopters and commercial craft like those being developed by Google Wing. Before every flight, each craft would send a short flight plan. The flight might be approved as requested, approved with modifications to take into account other users, or denied.

[...] Right now, use of this low-altitude airspace is largely unregulated and hobbyists are able to fly without having to identify themselves, their vehicles or detailed flight plans. That’s one reason the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) only allows drone flight within visual line of sight. But if Google, Amazon and other companies are to use drones for package delivery and other services, the line-of-sight restriction will need to be lifted.

[...] Vos is proposing the system be based as much as possible around technology that already exists, to reduce development and standardization time. That means drones and aircraft would use ADS-B, an aviation industry standard used on many airliners that sends out position, heading, speed and identification data every few seconds. All large planes already have ADS-B transponders, but with entry-level equipment starting at around $2,000, many smaller aircraft do not. Earlier this year, Google said it had started development of an “ultra low-cost” ADS-B transponder that will be cheap enough that every operator will be able to afford it. “If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford to fly, in my opinion,” he said. “That means we need to make sure everyone can afford it.”

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Friday July 31, @03:46AM   Printer-friendly
from the mobile-and-on-the-edge dept.

It seems that demand for the Galaxy S6 is not quite what Samsung expected after all.

In announcing its most recent quarterly earnings Wednesday, the Korean electronics giant warned that its handset division would likely face a difficult market environment and said it would be "adjusting" the price of its flagship Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge to "maintain" its sales momentum. The company also said it would release new high-end smartphones as well as middle- and low-end models.

The company declined to describe what the adjustment entails, but a person familiar with the company's plans said a price cut is planned for the smartphones. The news came as the company announced that its second-quarter sales in its IT and mobile division fell 8.4 percent, to 26.06 trillion won ($22 billion), with mobile in particular dropping 7.3 percent, to 25.5 trillion won.

Once the world's largest smartphone maker, Samsung has seen its fortunes dwindle as consumers opt for devices from its rivals, such as Apple. Formerly accounting for two-thirds of Samsung's operating profit, smartphone shipments have been providing a smaller part of company's profit in recent quarters, squeezed in emerging markets by low-cost handset vendors such as Xiaomi and Huawei.

Oh look, another competitor.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Friday July 31, @02:12AM   Printer-friendly
from the no-sweat dept.

Biking cross-country through rough terrain may mean that access to fresh, drinkable water may be limited. But what if there was a device that could "pull" moisture from the air and transform it into drinking water? That's the idea behind Austrian designer Kristof Retezár's Fontus, a "self-filling" water bottle that can make water out of thin air.

The solar-powered bike accessory uses a Peltier Element to generate water. It's essentially a cooler with two chambers that facilitates condensation, and takes in air as the bike moves, which is then slowed and cooled down by barriers that allows it to condense and form water, which is channelled and collected in the bottle.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Friday July 31, @12:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the windows-10-ruined-sysadmin-day dept.

System Administrator Appreciation Day is an annual ICT Holiday created by Ted Kekatos in 2000. It takes place in the last Friday in July, hence today is the 16th SysAdmin Day. So as they put it: Remember this is one day to recognize your System Administrator for their workplace contributions and to promote professional excellence. Thank them for all the things they do for you and your business.

To keep track of ICT Holidays, you can use the International ICT Holidays calendar, a Google calendar maintained by the Computer Engineers Association of Spain (ATI).

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Thursday July 30, @11:40PM   Printer-friendly
from the morphological dept.

Research reported in Applied Physics Express (APEX) by Kenji Ikeda and co-workers describes a new technique using lasers to induce selective crystallization of the metastable form of indomethacin. These results have potential applications for the synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients that can change their form for the development of therapeutic drugs.

Active pharmaceutical ingredients that can change their form – a trait known as polymorphism – are highly sought after in drug development. Different polymorphic forms of the same drug display different characteristics – for example, the metastable phase of the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin is more soluble than the stable phase. Better solubility enhances how much of a dose circulates effectively in the body after administration, so retaining indomethacin in its metastable phase is therefore desirable. However, scientists have found this difficult to achieve because the drug naturally wants to revert to its dominant stable phase.

Kenji Ikeda and co-workers at Osaka University, together with scientists across Japan, have developed a new technique using lasers to induce selective crystallization of the metastable form (or α-form) of indomethacin. Their method creates α-form indomethacin which remains stable in air at room temperature for up to eight months: previous research achieved α-form stability for less than a day.

Metastable indomethacin crystallizes when 'supersaturated' in solution. Ikeda and his team generated 'captivation bubbles' in acetonitrile-indomethacin solution using laser irradiation, which enhanced the nucleation and crystallization of the metastable phase. The researchers found that, when the laser was focused near the side wall of the glass vials, the α-form of the drug crystallized rapidly and retained stability. The solubility of the new α-form was 1.5 fold higher than indomethacin's stable phase. Ikeda and colleagues conclude laser irradiation at the solid-liquid interface is a highly efficient way of creating stable α-form indomethacin.

Original Submission

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