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Which best describes your internet connection?

  • 0—5 Mbps
  • 5—15 Mbps
  • 15—50 Mbps
  • 50—100 Mbps
  • 100—300 Mbps
  • 300—1,000 Mbps
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  • I don't HAVE an internet connection, you insensitive clod!

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:58 | Votes:269

posted by takyon on Saturday August 12 2017, @11:15PM   Printer-friendly
from the Netcraft-unavailable-for-comment dept.

According to Techcrunch, Soundcloud has secured the emergency funding which will allow the service to survive:

SoundCloud has just closed the necessary funding round to keep the struggling music service afloat. CEO Alex Ljung will step aside though remain chairman as former Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor replaces him. Mike Weissman will become COO as SoundCloud co-founder and CTO Eric Wahlforss stays as chief product officer.

Further coverage at Ars Technica and BBC News.

Soundcloud's layoff of 40% of staff and the subsequent rumours of a collapse have been covered here before.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 12 2017, @09:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the Would-an-EnDrive-be-half-as-wide? dept.

The man behind the disputed thruster technology EmDrive has published a presentation detailing the third generation of the device. Roger Shawyer envisions EmDrive 3.0 enabling personal flying vehicles and a "space elevator without cables":

[Although] the second generation of the EmDrive can theoretically produce 3 tonnes of thrust for 1 kilowatt of power, it isn't able to move very far, so it is only useful for marine applications or for diverting asteroids, like in the new CBS sci-fi TV drama Salvation.

Shawyer has long said that his aim for inventing the EmDrive was to help get satellites into space cheaply, to enable more applications and new ways for the human race to combat global warming and the energy crisis. Essentially, the EmDrive needs to be able to move and work as well as a conventional rocket, in order to be a viable solution.

To negate these shortfalls, Shawyer's firm Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd (SPR) has also been researching a third generation of the EmDrive, which solved the acceleration problem by reducing the specific thrust.

So instead of getting 3 tonnes of thrust for every kilowatt, substantially less thrust is produced – but it can be used to accelerate the device (more about this theory can be read in a paper Shawyer presented in Beijing in 2013).

Speaking of that TV show, Roger would like some credit please.

Related UK patent application. Also at Next Big Future.

Previously: Finnish Physicist Says EmDrive Device Does Have an Exhaust
It's Official: NASA's Peer-Reviewed EmDrive Paper Has Finally Been Published
Space Race 2.0: China May Already be Testing an EmDrive in Orbit
Physicist Uses "Quantised Inertia" to Explain Both EmDrive and Galaxy Rotation

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 12 2017, @07:37PM   Printer-friendly
from the healthy...profits dept.

CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. were sued by California customers who accused the drugstore operators of charging co-payments for certain prescription drugs that exceed the cost of medicines.

CVS, the largest U.S. pharmacy chain by number of stores, overbilled consumers who used insurance to pay for some generic drugs and wrongfully hid the fact that the medicines' cash price was cheaper, Megan Schultz said in her lawsuit. Schultz said in one case she paid $166 for a generic drug that would have cost only $92 if she'd known to pay cash.

[...] In her suit, Shultz accused CVS of clawing back her co-pay because the chain was in cahoots with the pharmacy benefit managers who got the extra money. The practice was part of CVS's agreements with benefit managers, such as Express Scripts Holding Co. and CVS Caremark, according to the suit filed Monday in federal court in Rhode Island. CVS is based in that state.

"CVS, motivated by profit, deliberately entered into these contracts, dedicating itself to the secret scheme that kept customers in the dark about the true price'' of drugs they purchased, Schultz's lawyers said in the suit, which is seeking group status.

[...] The lawsuits follow at least 16 other cases around the U.S. targeting drugstore chains' alleged co-pay clawback practices. The clawback occurs when patients hand over co-payments set by a pharmacy benefit manager that exceed the actual cash cost of the drug. The benefit managers pocket the difference, according to the complaints.

Most patients never realize there's a cheaper cash price because of clauses in contracts between pharmacies and benefit managers that bar the drugstore from telling people there's a lower-cost way to pay, according to the complaints.

[...] The cases are Megan Schultz v. CVS Health Corporation, 17-cv-359, U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island (Providence); and David Grabstald v. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., 17-5789, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

Source: Bloomberg

Also at The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, and NBCNews

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday August 12 2017, @05:46PM   Printer-friendly
from the duck-just-in-case dept.

2012 TC4 will pass Earth well within the Moon's orbit a month from now, but not nearly as close as previously estimated:

Mark your calendar for Oct. 12. That's when asteroid 2012 TC4 will slip past Earth at an expected distance of around 27,300 miles (44,000 kilometers). The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile recently caught sight of the asteroid, which could be up to 100 feet (30 meters) in size.

NASA is leading a coordinated international campaign to observe TC4. In July, NASA suggested the asteroid could squeeze in as close as 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers), but the European Space Agency's latest estimates give us more breathing room.

Geostationary equatorial orbit (GEO) is at about 35,786 km above mean sea level.

Also at (AFP).

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday August 12 2017, @03:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the better-latency-than-never dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

The FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai is signaling new broadband policy changes that can only be described as friendly to ISPs and hostile to consumers. In a "Notice of Inquiry," a public comment step often taken ahead of rule changes, the commission proposes that both fixed and mobile can be counted as broadband under Section 706 of its rules. That differs from the current standard, developed under Tom Wheeler, that requires timely deployment of both wired and wireless networks in the US.

On top of that, the FCC has suggested that if mobile networks are providing this "broadband," all one needs is 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds. That's less than half of the 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up speeds currently required to fit the definition of home broadband. At the same time, the Notice of Inquiry proposes to leave home speeds at the current level.

The FCC says the "statutory language" gives it the right to scoop mobile and land transmission into one broadband basket. Section 706, it says, defines advanced telecommunications tech "as high-speed, switched, broadband that enables users to original and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics and video telecommunications ... without regard to any transmission media or technology."

[...] The FCC's Democrat Commissioner Mignon Clyburn doesn't agree with gist of the Notice of Inquiry. "We seek comment on whether to deem an area as 'served' if mobile or fixed service is available," she wrote in a concurring statement. "I am skeptical of this line of inquiry. Consumers who are mobile only often find themselves in such a position, not by choice but because they cannot afford a fixed connection."

[...] The Notice of Inquiry calls for public comments at this link until September 7th, with reply comments due by September 22nd. So far, the commission has done a lousy job of handling comments about net neutrality, with intermittent or no access during an eight-hour period on May 7th, 2017. That was either due to a DDoS attack or, as some security professionals think, just a bad commenting system. Anyway, even if lots of folks express their disapproval, the FCC doesn't really care.

I'm guessing they just don't want to have to provide actual broadband to unserved areas to qualify for special perks and subsidies. Which is precisely why I live in a town rather than fifteen miles away from the nearest one.


Also at: Ars Technica.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday August 12 2017, @02:09PM   Printer-friendly
from the eat-more-fowl dept.

Boosting levels of vitamin B3 (niacin) in the diets of pregnant women may lower rates of birth defects:

Taking Vitamin B3 could prevent miscarriages and birth defects, a study on mice suggests. Researchers from the Victor Chang Institute in Sydney called it "a double breakthrough", as they found both a cause and a preventative solution. With 7.9 million babies born each year with a birth defect worldwide, the team hopes the benefits are wide-reaching. But an expert said the findings "cannot be translated into recommendations" for pregnancy.

[...] Dr Katie Morris, an expert in maternal foetal medicine at the University of Birmingham, said: "While exciting, this discovery cannot be translated into recommendations for pregnant women, who at most may be deficient in vitamin B3. "The doses used in this research were 10 times the recommended daily doses for supplementation in women." She said the side-effects of this high dosage are not known, with pregnancy complications often occurring because of the complex interaction of a number of factors.

Also at Science Magazine.

NAD Deficiency, Congenital Malformations, and Niacin Supplementation (DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1616361) (DX)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday August 12 2017, @12:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the hey-rocky dept.

Mammals were gliding from tree to tree during the late Jurassic period, according to University of Chicago and Beijing Museum of Natural History scientists:

Fossils of the first "winged" mammals, from 160 million years ago, have been discovered in China. They reveal that mammal ancestors evolved to glide between trees in a similar way to some mammals today. This adds to evidence that mammals were more diverse during the age of dinosaurs than previously realised. The work is published by an international team of scientists in this week's Nature [DOI: 10.1038/nature23476] [DX].

The two new fossil species exhibit highly specialised characteristics, including adaptations that allowed them to climb trees, roost on branches and glide.

Also at the University of Chicago and NYT.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday August 12 2017, @10:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the pulling-for-the-moon dept.

The Moon's magnetic field was much stronger than it is today for longer than previously thought (alt link):

New evidence from ancient lunar rocks suggests that an active dynamo once churned within the molten metallic core of the moon, generating a magnetic field that lasted at least 1 billion years longer than previously thought. Dynamos are natural generators of magnetic fields around terrestrial bodies, and are powered by the churning of conducting fluids within many stars and planets.

In a paper published today in Science Advances, researchers from MIT and Rutgers University report that a lunar rock collected by NASA's Apollo 15 mission exhibits signs that it formed 1 to 2.5 billion years ago in the presence of a relatively weak magnetic field of about 5 microtesla. That's around 10 times weaker than Earth's current magnetic field but still 1,000 times larger than fields in interplanetary space today.

Several years ago, the same researchers identified 4-billion-year-old lunar rocks that formed under a much stronger field of about 100 microtesla, and they determined that the strength of this field dropped off precipitously around 3 billion years ago. At the time, the researchers were unsure whether the moon's dynamo — the related magnetic field — died out shortly thereafter or lingered in a weakened state before dissipating completely.

The results reported today support the latter scenario: After the moon's magnetic field dwindled, it nonetheless persisted for at least another billion years, existing for a total of at least 2 billion years.

A two-billion-year history for the lunar dynamo (open, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700207) (DX)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 12 2017, @08:38AM   Printer-friendly
from the getting-the-fat-out? dept.

Doom 3: BFG Edition, the remastered version of Doom 3 (id Tech 4) which had its source code released in November 2012, has gained a Vulkan renderer (Vulkan is a graphics API successor to OpenGL that can better utilize multiple cores and GPUs):

Dustin Land of id Software has been working on the "vkNeo" project in his spare/personal time as a Vulkan renderer for Doom 3 BFG / idTech4, which was open-sourced a few years back. This is along the same lines as the vkQuake open-source port of the original Quake to running on Vulkan.

Doom 3 can easily run on nearly any modern PC these days with its classic OpenGL renderer, but now with Vulkan the game can run at 500+ frames per second in simple areas or 150~300 FPS in the more demanding areas of this first person shooter.

The Doom 3 Vulkan code was open-sourced over night via vkDOOM3 on GitHub for those interested. Land commented, "It was written as an example of how to use Vulkan for writing something more sizable than simple recipes. It covers topics such as General Setup, Proper Memory & Resource Allocation, Synchronization, Pipelines, etc."

This new build of Doom 3 is Windows-only for now but the code will be added to RBDOOM-3-BFG soon which does support Linux.

Previous story.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 12 2017, @06:47AM   Printer-friendly
from the 'flip'-a-coin? dept.

A blockchain-based cloud storage technology called Filecoin has already raised $52 million from investors. The company is poised to raise millions more on Thursday when it begins selling units of its bitcoin-like cryptocurrency to a larger set of wealthy investors.

Filecoin aims to disrupt conventional cloud-based storage platforms from Amazon and others. If it succeeds, the technology could be worth billions of dollars. But the company will need to overcome some significant hurdles first.

First and foremost, Filecoin's technology doesn't actually exist yet. The Filecoin team has done extensive research and planning, producing a series of white papers describing the technology it's building. But an actual, working Filecoin network is still months away. When it launches, Filecoin will compete with rival blockchain storage networks, including Sia, which has been available to the public for two years.

"Filecoin currently is just a white paper," Sia co-founder David Vorick told us earlier this week.

Have any Soylentils encountered or used blockchain storage, and if so what did you think of it?

Source: Ars Technica

Also at Medium, TechCrunch, and CoinDesk.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 12 2017, @04:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the better-late-than-never? dept.

Hello Games has released a free update to No Man's Sky which introduces multiplayer to the game, a missing feature that caused an earlier backlash from players.
The update also includes 30 hours of story and various fixes and improvements to gameplay, balance, new abilities, and more. Full details at or watch the release video on YouTube.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 12 2017, @03:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the safety-is-no-accident dept.

In 2015, 4,700 people in the US lost a finger or other body part to table-saw incidents. Most of those injuries didn't have to happen, thanks to technology invented in 1999 by entrepreneur Stephen Gass. By giving his blade a slight electric charge, his saw is able to detect contact with a human hand and stop spinning in a few milliseconds. A widely circulated video[1] shows a test on a hot dog that leaves the wiener unscathed.

Now federal regulators are considering whether to make Gass' technology mandatory in the table-saw industry. The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced plans for a new rule in May, and the rules could take effect in the coming months.

But established makers of power tools vehemently object. They say the mandate could double the cost of entry-level table saws and destroy jobs in the power-tool industry. They also point out that Gass holds dozens of patents on the technology. If the CPSC makes the technology mandatory for table saws, that could give Gass a legal monopoly over the table-saw industry until at least 2021, when his oldest patents expire.

At the same time, table-saw related injuries cost society billions every year. The CPSC predicts switching to the safer saw design will save society $1,500 to $4,000 per saw sold by reducing medical bills and lost work.

"You commissioners have the power to take one of the most dangerous products ever available to consumers and make it vastly safer," Gass said at a CPSC public hearing on Wednesday.


[1] SawStop Hot dog Video - Saw blade retracts within 5 milliseconds of accidental contact - YouTube.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 12 2017, @01:14AM   Printer-friendly
from the what-if-there-were-addons... dept.

Mozilla, the developer of the Firefox web browser and other open source projects, has announced its Mozilla Information Trust Initiative. This initiative involves Mozilla "developing products, research, and communities to battle information pollution and so-called 'fake news' online."

Although the announcement from Mozilla claims that the "spread of misinformation violates nearly every tenet of the Mozilla Manifesto", this initiative does raise some concerning questions. Should a web browser vendor be actively patrolling content on the web? Is such patrolling of content harmful to a truly open web? Is this merely the first step toward web browsers censoring or controlling the dissemination of information available on the web? Would the resources expended on this initiative be better spent improving the performance and efficiency of Firefox?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday August 11 2017, @11:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the just-say-emergency dept.

After some initial confusion about the White House's plans earlier in the week, President Trump has followed the recommendation of the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, headed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and declared the opioid crisis to be a national emergency. He has promised to spend "a lot" of time, effort, and money to combat the problem:

Among the other recommendations were to rapidly increase treatment capacity for those who need substance abuse help; to establish and fund better access to medication-assisted treatment programs; and to make sure that health care providers are aware of the potential for misuse and abuse of prescription opioids by enhancing prevention efforts at medical and dental schools.

President Trump also decried a slowdown in federal prosecutions of drug crimes and a reduction in sentence lengths. Activists and policy experts are wary of an enforcement-heavy approach:

Bill Piper, senior director for the Drug Policy Alliance, told CNN Tuesday that stricter enforcement "has never worked" and the President would be "better focusing on the treatment side of things." "A supply side approach to drugs has never worked," Piper said. "That is what has been tried for decades and it has failed for every drug it has applied to, including alcohol during Prohibition. As long as there has been and[sic] demand for drugs, there will be a supply." Trump would not be the first administration to crack down on drug use by focusing on enforcement, but Piper said doing so would play into a desire to "sound tough," not actually solve the problem. "It makes it look like they are doing something even when they are not," Piper said.

Trump also advocated for more abstinence-based treatment to combat the opioid crisis. "The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place. If they don't start, they won't have a problem. If they do start, it's awfully tough to get off," Trump said. That sort of strategy advocates for targeting kids and young adults with anti-drug messaging, evocative of the "Just Say No" ad campaign of the 1980s and early 1990s.

This crisis is serious, folks:

"It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had. You know when I was growing up, they had the LSD and they had certain generations of drugs. There's never been anything like what's happened to this country over the last four or five years. And I have to say this in all fairness, this is a worldwide problem, not just a United States problem. This is happening worldwide. But this is a national emergency, and we are drawing documents now to so attest."

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday August 11 2017, @09:50PM   Printer-friendly

At Defcon in Las Vegas last month, word rapidly spread that two speakers—members of Salesforce's internal "red team"—had been fired by a senior executive from Salesforce "as they left the stage." Those two speakers, who presented under their Twitter handles, were Josh "FuzzyNop" Schwartz, Salesforce's director of offensive security, and John Cramb, a senior offensive security engineer.

Schwartz and Cramb were presenting the details of their tool, called Meatpistol. It's a "modular malware implant framework" similar in intent to the Metasploit toolkit used by many penetration testers, except that Meatpistol is not a library of common exploits, and it is not intended for penetration testing. The tool was anticipated to be released as open source at the time of the presentation, but Salesforce has held back the code.

[...] Schwartz had reportedly gotten prior approval to speak at Defcon from Salesforce management, and he was working toward getting approval to open-source Meatpistol (which is currently in a very rough "alpha" state but was at use internally at Salesforce). But at the last moment, Salesforce's management team had a change of heart, and it was trying to get the talk pulled. As ZDNet's Zach Whittaker reports, a Salesforce executive sent a text message to Schwartz and Cramb an hour before their scheduled talk, telling the pair not to announce the public release of the code.

[...] A Salesforce spokesperson contacted by Ars would not comment, stating, "We don't comment on matters involving individual employees."

Source: Ars Technica

Also at ZDNet and The Register

Original Submission