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What should be the Book Club picks for April+?

  • Oryx and Crake - Book #1 of the MaddAddam trilogy - Margaret Atwood
  • Beggars in Spain - Book #1 of the Sleepless trilogy - Nancy Kress
  • Too Far - Rich Shapiro
  • Revolt in 2100 - (short stories collection) - Robert A. Heinlein
  • Morlock the Maker Short Stories - (pre-Blood of Ambrose?) - James Enge
  • Downbelow Station - C. J. Cherryh
  • Hammerfall - C. J. Cherryh
  • Sundiver - David Brin

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:17 | Votes:51

posted by chromas on Tuesday May 21, @03:48AM   Printer-friendly
from the one-of-us!-one-of-us!-google-goggle!-google-goggle! dept.

Google announces a new $999 Glass augmented reality headset

Google has announced a new version of its business-focused Glass augmented reality headset, which it's now designating an official Google product instead of an experiment. The Glass Enterprise Edition 2 costs $999, although, like its predecessor, it's not being sold directly to consumers. It's got a new processor, an improved camera, a USB-C port for faster charging, and a variety of other updates.

Google still isn't positioning Glass as a mainstream product. But it seems to be expecting greater sales of the Glass Enterprise Edition 2. The device has been moved out of the Google X "moonshot factory" and into the main Google family of products, letting Google "meet the demands of the growing market for wearables in the workplace," according to a blog post.

See also: Google unveils new $999 smart glasses for businesses, undercutting Microsoft's HoloLens on price
Google's next-gen Glass eyewear lasts longer and runs on Android
Glass graduates from Alphabet's X as it scores new hardware update


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Tuesday May 21, @02:11AM   Printer-friendly

Phys.org:

Colonies of social insects are capable of self-organizing and accomplishing complex tasks through individual interactions. For example, to march across large gaps, ants grip the bodies of each other, forming a living bridge that allows the colonies to reach the other side. Inspired by this swarm behavior of ants, scientists from the Chinese University of Hong Kong developed a nanoparticle self-assembly system that can fix broken electrical circuits.

The nanoparticles, made of iron oxide, have magnetic properties and can be controlled by a magnetic field. They are coated with a layer of gold that can conduct electricity. Under an external magnetic field, the nanoparticles can self-organize into a ribbon-like, conductive structure. The length and thickness of the nanoparticle ribbon can be controlled by fine-tuning the field, and the ribbons "dry" into hard structures after the magnetic field has been turned off. This "microswarm" system has demonstrated capabilities of fixing broken microscale circuits by making a stable and permanent conductive pathway between two disconnected electrodes, mimicking the structure and functionality of ant bridges.

The particles piggyback on the magnetic field to bridge the gap.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday May 21, @12:35AM   Printer-friendly
from the did-you-want-fries-with-that? dept.

ScienceDaily:

New discoveries made at the Klasies River Cave in South Africa's southern Cape, where charred food remains from hearths were found, provide the first archaeological evidence that anatomically modern humans were roasting and eating plant starches, such as those from tubers and rhizomes, as early as 120,000 years ago.
...
"Our results showed that these small ashy hearths were used for cooking food and starchy roots and tubers were clearly part of their diet, from the earliest levels at around 120,000 years ago through to 65,000 years ago," says Larbey. "Despite changes in hunting strategies and stone tool technologies, they were still cooking roots and tubers."
...
By combining cooked roots and tubers as a staple with protein and fats from shellfish, fish, small and large fauna, these communities were able to optimally adapt to their environment, indicating great ecological intelligence as early as 120,000 years ago.

"Starch diet isn't something that happens when we started farming, but rather, is as old as humans themselves," says Larbey. Farming in Africa only started in the last 10,000 years of human existence.

"Meat and potatoes" is much older than you thought.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday May 20, @10:56PM   Printer-friendly
from the Lies-and-statistics dept.

Security Week:

The number of hacktivist attacks that resulted in quantifiable damage to the victim has declined by 95 percent since 2015, according to IBM.

Data collected by IBM's X-Force threat intelligence unit between 2015 and 2019 shows that the number of hacktivist attacks dropped from 35 in 2015 to 24 in 2016 and only 5 in 2017. In 2018, only two incidents were recorded and no attacks have been observed by IBM so far in 2019.

It's worth noting, however, that IBM's data only includes attacks observed by reliable sources, only instances where someone took responsibility, and only if the attack resulted in quantifiable damage.

If a crack goes unnoticed and unclaimed, has it really occurred?


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday May 20, @09:19PM   Printer-friendly
from the watch-it! dept.

IEEE Spectrum:

Tired of trying to tap icons on small smartwatch screens? Some day you could just swipe right through the air above them thanks to miniaturized radar technology and its accompanying gesture recognition technology in development at imec, the Belgium-based R&D center.

Imec's radar chips operate at around 145 GHz, well above the bands used for car radar. That high up in the electromagnetic spectrum, the chip can take advantage of a full 10 gigahertz of bandwidth, which leads to millimeter-scale resolution, its inventors say.

"Gestures allow a lot of capabilities where screens are becoming too small for fine movements," says Kathleen Philips, program director for IoT at imec. "Radar is great for measuring movement; this particular radar is great for measuring micromovements."

If they combine this technology with a wand that must be swept in precise patterns, they will be richer than God.


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Monday May 20, @07:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the progress-is-centimetering-along-nicely dept.

We measure stuff all the time – how long, how heavy, how hot, and so on – because we need to for things such as trade, health and knowledge. But making sure our measurements compare apples with apples has been a challenge: how to know if my kilogram weight or metre length is the same as yours.

Attempts have been made to define the units of measurement over the years. But today – International Metrology Day – sees the complete revision of those standards come into play.

You won't notice anything – you will not be heavier or lighter than yesterday – because the transition has been made to be seamless. Just the definitions of the seven base units of the SI (Système International d'Unités, or the International System of Units) are now completely different from yesterday.

[...] The challenge now though is to explain these new definitions to people – especially non-scientists – so they understand.

The Conversation


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Monday May 20, @06:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the picks-you-up-while-it-cleans-you-out dept.

Researchers Document Impact of Coffee on Bowels:

Coffee has long been known to increase bowel movement, but researchers have not pinpointed the specific reason or mechanism. Researchers examined changes to bacteria when fecal matter was exposed to coffee in a petri dish, and by studying the composition of feces after rats ingested differing concentrations of coffee over three days. The study also documented changes to smooth muscles in the intestine and colon, and the response of those muscles when exposed directly to coffee.

The study found that growth of bacteria and other microbes in fecal matter in a petri dish was suppressed with a solution of 1.5 percent coffee, and growth of microbes was even lower with a 3 percent solution of coffee. Decaffeinated coffee had a similar effect on the microbiome.

After the rats were fed coffee for three days, the overall bacteria counts in their feces were decreased, but researchers said more research is needed to determine whether these changes favor firmicutes, considered "good" bacteria, or enterobacteria, which are regarded as negative.

Muscles in the lower intestines and colons of the rats showed increased ability to contract after a period of coffee ingestion, and coffee stimulated contractions of the small intestine and colon when muscle tissues were exposed to coffee directly in the lab.

NOTE: Original is at Digestive Disease Week, but Javascript is required to view it. Also available at EurekAlert.

Further avenues of research that immediately came to my mind:

  • How long does the effect last?
  • Does the body develop a tolerance and require larger doses over time to sustain the effect?
  • If so, how long a period of abstinence is required before coffee again becomes efficacious?
  • Is there a larger effect with a "stronger" coffee such as an espresso?
  • Does the species of coffee make a difference? Coffea arabica (Arabica) vs Coffea canephora (Robusta)?

Time to start conducting interviews of Starbucks' baristas.


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Monday May 20, @05:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the Tit-for-tat dept.

The Verge has a story about the latest in the US government's war against Huawei:

Following the US crackdown on Chinese technology companies, Google has cut off Huawei’s Android license, dealing a huge blow to the besieged phonemaker. Reuters first reported the news, and The Verge subsequently confirmed Google’s suspension of business with Huawei with a source familiar with the matter.

Reached for comment, a Google spokesperson said only “We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications.” The order, in this case, appears to be the US Commerce Department’s recent decision to place Huawei on the “Entity List,” which as Reuters reports is a list of companies that are unable to buy technology from US companies without government approval.

Speaking to Reuters, a Google spokesperson confirmed that “Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices.” So while existing Huawei phones around the world won’t be immediately impacted by the decision, the future of updates for those phones as well as any new phones Huawei would produce remains in question.

Huawei is now restricted to using the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), cutting the company off from critical Google apps and services that consumers outside of China expect on Android devices. That also means Huawei will only be able to push security updates for Android once they’re made available in AOSP, assuming the company uses its own update system. It’s not clear yet how this will affect the full range of Android integrations that Huawei depends on, but we will update this story when we receive additional clarification about the impacts of Google’s decision.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday May 20, @03:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the sweet-dreams-or-sweaty-dreams dept.

Bedbugs Evolved More than 100 Million Years ago - and Walked the Earth with T. Rex:

Bedbugs – some of the most unwanted human bed-mates - have been parasitic companions with other species aside from humans for more than 100 million years, walking the earth at the same time as dinosaurs.

Work by an international team of scientists, including the University of Sheffield, compared the DNA of dozens of bedbug species in order to understand the evolutionary relationships within the group as well as their relationship with humans.

The team discovered that bedbugs are older than bats – a mammal that people had previously believed to be their first host 50-60 million years ago. Bedbugs in fact evolved around 50 million years earlier.

[...] Experts have now discovered that the evolutionary history of bed bugs is far more complex than previously thought and the critters were actually in existence during the time of dinosaurs. More research is needed to find out what their host was at that time, although current understanding suggests it's unlikely they fed on the blood of dinosaurs. This is because bed bugs and all their relatives feed on animals that have a "home" - such as a bird's nest, an owl's burrow, a bat's roost or a human's bed – a mode of life that dinosaurs don't seem to have adopted.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday May 20, @02:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the you-dont-say dept.

Developers at business AI company Dessa have come up with a new text-to-speech system called "RealTalk". In the version they demoed, it was trained to speak with the voice of popular podcaster Joe Rogan. The developers have put up a site with a blind test at http://fakejoerogan.com/. They must have been so impressed by their own creation that they discuss the implications at https://medium.com/@dessa_/real-talk-speech-synthesis-5dd0897eef7f.

Your humble submitter did the blind test and just barely had a majority of correct guesses, but was so impressed by the quality that he considered it newsworthy - how do you fare in the test?


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday May 20, @12:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the I'm-in-your-base dept.

A hacker may have accessed Stack Overflow user data for over a week in a hack that went undetected for an extended period of time. The Stack Overflow breach in May 2019 was described as a 'severe breach' of its production systems which may have exposed data including IP address, names, or emails for a small number of users by a user who managed to grant themselves privileged access. Affected users, which may number around 250, will be contacted by Stack Overflow to alert them of the breach. The company announced the breach on its blog as soon as they became aware of the issue.

[Ed Note - Stack Overflow originally stated that there was no evidence of the hacker accessing user data. They revised that statement on Friday.]


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday May 20, @10:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the talktative-devices dept.

Submitted via IRC for AnonymousLuser

Over 21,000 Linksys routers leaked their device connection histories

Over 21,000 Linksys routers leaked their device connection historiesLinksys, however, says it can't replicate the apparent flaw.Sponsored Links

Certain Linksys WiFi routers might be sharing far more data than their users would like. Security researcher Troy Mursch has reported that 33 models, including some Max-Stream and Velop routers, are exposing their entire device connection histories (including MAC addresses, device names and OS versions) online. They also share whether or not their default passwords have changed. Scans have shown between 21,401 and 25,617 vulnerable routers online, 4,000 of which were still using their default passwords.

The attack appear to be relatively straightforward and involves little more than visiting an exposed router's internet address and running a device list request. It works whether or not the router's firewall is turned on, Mursch toldArs Technica, and isn't affected by a patch Linksys released in 2014.

There are potentially serious consequences. Complete connection histories could tell hackers if there are juicy targets on a given network, such as a phone running outdated software, while stalkers might find out if their victim had visited a given location. The password status, meanwhile, could make it easy to hijack devices for the sake of botnets and other online crimes.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday May 20, @09:19AM   Printer-friendly
from the tick-tock dept.

Heart of next-generation chip-scale atomic clock

Described in Optica, the chip-scale clock is based on the vibrations, or "ticks," of rubidium atoms confined in a tiny glass container, called a vapor cell, on a chip. Two frequency combs on chips act like gears to link the atoms' high-frequency optical ticks to a lower, widely used microwave frequency that can be used in applications.

The chip-based heart of the new clock requires very little power (just 275 milliwatts) and, with additional technology advances, could potentially be made small enough to be handheld. Chip-scale optical clocks like this could eventually replace traditional oscillators in applications such as navigation systems and telecommunications networks and serve as backup clocks on satellites.

"We made an optical atomic clock in which all key components are microfabricated and work together to produce an exceptionally stable output," NIST Fellow John Kitching said. "Ultimately, we expect this work to lead to small, low-power clocks that are exceptionally stable and will bring a new generation of accurate timing to portable, battery-operated devices."

The clock was built at NIST with help from the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, Calif.), Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.) and Charles Stark Draper Laboratories (Cambridge, Mass.).

Zachary L. Newman, Vincent Maurice, Tara Drake, Jordan R. Stone, Travis C. Briles, Daryl T. Spencer, Connor Fredrick, Qing Li, Daron Westly, B. R. Ilic, Boqiang Shen, Myoung-Gyun Suh, Ki Youl Yang, Cort Johnson, David M. S. Johnson, Leo Hollberg, Kerry J. Vahala, Kartik Srinivasan, Scott A. Diddams, John Kitching, Scott B. Papp, Matthew T. Hummon. Architecture for the photonic integration of an optical atomic clock. Optica, 2019; 6 (5): 680 DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.6.000680


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday May 20, @07:42AM   Printer-friendly
from the which-items dept.

https://www.pcmag.com/news/368339/walmart-offers-one-day-delivery-on-220k-items

Walmart is this week introducing NextDay delivery "on a wide range of general merchandise" offered through Walmart.com. The company is also keen to point out this offer does not require a paid membership as is required for Amazon Prime.

NextDay delivery will be slowly introduced across the US, with Phoenix and Las Vegas getting it first before Southern California customers are added "in the coming days." The aim is to have 75 percent of the US population covered by the end of 2019, which will include 40 of the top 50 US metro areas.

There are a few caveats to keep in mind about this fast delivery offer. The number of products that qualify for NextDay is limited to around 220,000 items, but Walmart states they are the most frequently purchased items. You also need to spend at least $35 in order to qualify for the service, and there will be a cut off time each day as you'd expect.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday May 20, @06:05AM   Printer-friendly

Submitted via IRC for AnonymousLuser

Ajit Pai proposes new rule that would allow carriers to block robocalls

On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission announced a new measure that would grant mobile phone carriers new abilities to block the growing number of unwanted robocalls.

The new rule would make it easier for carriers, like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, to automatically register their customers for call-blocking technology. As of right now, customers have to opt-in on their own. It would also allow customers to block calls coming from phone numbers that are not on their contacts list. Commissioners are expected to vote on the measure at their June 6th meeting.

"Allowing call blocking by default could be a big benefit for consumers who are sick and tired of robocalls," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. "By making it clear that such call blocking is allowed, the FCC will give voice service providers the legal certainty they need to block unwanted calls from the outset so that consumers never have to get them."

[...] A majority of the US Senate already backs legislation from Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Ed Markey (D-MA) that would make it easier for the FCC to seek financial penalties from robocallers and provide both regulators and law enforcement additional tools to combat these unwanted and illegal calls.

Members in the House of Representatives like Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) also have their own anti-robocalling legislation that differs from what's been proposed in the Senate, but it includes some similar language, like increasing the length of time the FCC has to find and go after bad actors.


Original Submission