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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:13 | Votes:22

posted by martyb on Thursday July 12 2018, @11:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the Maybe-Don't-Try-this-at-home dept.

For those in the US with a combined interest in 3D-Printers, intersections of the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and legal precedents; Cody Wilson has been fighting the US Government for half a decade.

Short version: after Wilson uploaded his 3D pistol plans to his site, over 100,000 people downloaded it - this drew the attention of the US authorities, who tried to use the International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to force a take-down.

The authorities argued that by posting the 3D printer plans for a firearm, Mr. Wilson was effectively exporting firearms, and subject to federal regulation. Eventually the Department of Justice dropped the case, paving the way for DIY'ers to publish such things freely.

The article cites 'promises' made by DoJ to move the regulations to another department.

Wired's article: A Landmark Legal Shift Opens Pandora's Box for DIY Guns (archive)

Related: The $1,200 Machine That Lets Anyone Make a Metal Gun at Home
Japanese Gun Printer Goes to Jail
Suspected 3D-Printed Gun Parts and Plastic Knuckles Seized in Australia
FedEx Refuses to Ship Defense Distributed's Ghost Gunner CNC Mill
Man Who Used CNC Mill to Manufacture AR-15 "Lowers" Sentenced to 41 Months
Ghost Gunner Software Update Allows the Milling of an M1911 Handgun


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday July 12 2018, @10:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the WOPR dept.

T Cell Engineering Breakthrough Sidesteps Need for Viruses in CRISPR Gene-Editing

In an achievement that has significant implications for research, medicine, and industry, UC San Francisco scientists have genetically reprogrammed the human immune cells known as T cells without using viruses to insert DNA. The researchers said they expect their technique—a rapid, versatile, and economical approach employing CRISPR gene-editing technology—to be widely adopted in the burgeoning field of cell therapy, accelerating the development of new and safer treatments for cancer, autoimmunity, and other diseases, including rare inherited disorders.

The new method, described in the July 11, 2018 issue of Nature [DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0326-5] [DX], offers a robust molecular "cut and paste" system to rewrite genome sequences in human T cells. It relies on electroporation, a process in which an electrical field is applied to cells to make their membranes temporarily more permeable. After experimenting with thousands of variables over the course of a year, the UCSF researchers found that when certain quantities of T cells, DNA, and the CRISPR "scissors" are mixed together and then exposed to an appropriate electrical field, the T cells will take in these elements and integrate specified genetic sequences precisely at the site of a CRISPR-programmed cut in the genome.

[...] But just as important as the new technique's speed and ease of use, said Marson, also scientific director of biomedicine at the Innovative Genomics Institute, is that the approach makes it possible to insert substantial stretches of DNA into T cells, which can endow the cells with powerful new properties. Members of Marson's lab have had some success using electroporation and CRISPR to insert bits of genetic material into T cells, but until now, numerous attempts by many researchers to place long sequences of DNA into T cells had caused the cells to die, leading most to believe that large DNA sequences are excessively toxic to T cells.

To demonstrate the new method's versatility and power, the researchers used it to repair a disease-causing genetic mutation in T cells from children with a rare genetic form of autoimmunity, and also created customized T cells to seek and kill human melanoma cells.


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday July 12 2018, @08:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the smoking-is-good-for-your-heatlh dept.

Michigan Approves 11 New Conditions for Medical Cannabis Treatment

The state of Michigan on Monday approved 11 new conditions for treatment with medical marijuana, including arthritis, autism, and chronic pain.

Shelly Edgerton, the director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs approved the list after a review panel that included physicians and testimonies from people with conditions they wanted approved, the Detroit Free Press reported. The new list now includes 22 total medical conditions that can be treated by the use of medical marijuana, with a doctor's recommendation.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer, and glaucoma were all on the previous list of ailments. The new list now includes conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, obsessive compulsive disorder, and Parkinson's, which will all go into effect immediately.

Dr. David Crocker, the founder of Michigan Holistic Health, called the addition of autism to the list "wonderful news," the Detroit News reported. Crocker explained that marijuana could help patients who are overstimulated to have "a meditative distance."

Also at CBS.


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday July 12 2018, @07:05PM   Printer-friendly
from the for-tall-people dept.

Virtual reality helps cure real-life fear of heights, study finds

Virtual reality can help act as a do-it-yourself therapist, helping people overcome their fear of heights without a professional at their side, British researchers reported Wednesday. A half dozen virtual reality sessions over two weeks significantly reduced the fear of heights for more than two-thirds of people who tried it, the team at the University of Oxford reported. Some even ventured onto rope bridges and mountainsides. "The outcome results are brilliant. They are better than I expected," Daniel Freeman, the University of Oxford clinical psychologist who led the study team, told NBC News.

The team tested 100 volunteers, 49 of whom were given six virtual reality sessions over two weeks. The rest got no treatment. On average, the volunteers had been afraid of heights for 30 years, the team reported in the journal Lancet Psychiatry. After six weeks, those who got no treatment remained just as afraid of heights as they had always been, as measured by a standard questionnaire. But 34 of the 49 volunteers who did the virtual reality found they were no longer afraid of heights. Real-life exposure to heights has verified this, Freeman said.

Newly fearless people parkour themselves to death.

Also at The Guardian.

Automated psychological therapy using immersive virtual reality for treatment of fear of heights: a single-blind, parallel-group, randomised controlled trial (open, DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30226-8) (DX)


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday July 12 2018, @05:29PM   Printer-friendly
from the ohoh dept.

NASA may have burned best proof of life on Mars by accident over 40 years ago

Viking landers sent to Mars in 1976 to search for organic matter reported finding nothing, a conclusion that shocked scientists at the time. New research published in the Journal of Geophysical Research Planets [DOI: 10.1029/2018JE005544] [DX], suggests the Vikings' main instrument might have actually discovered the organic matter but burned it while collecting soil samples, an article in New Scientist notes.

The primary instrument on the Viking landers, a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer, used heat to try and find these molecules. That was big a mistake. Because of a now-known chemical in the soil perchlorate, the landers would have destroyed any organics in the process. NASA's Phoenix lander found perchlorate on Mars in 2008, Space.com notes.

Perchlorate on Mars.

Previously: Organic Matter Found on Mars

Related: NASA Discovers Evidence for Liquid Water on Mars
UV Radiation and Perchlorates Could be a Toxic Combination for Potential Mars Bacteria
Study Finds Evidence of More Organic Material on Ceres
Complex Organic Molecules Found on Enceladus


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday July 12 2018, @03:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the WOPR dept.

Submitted via IRC for Fnord666

[...] In the experiment, the team showed how multiple nanoscale memristive devices exhibiting these characteristics could nonetheless be configured to efficiently implement artificial intelligence algorithms such as deep learning. Prototype chips from IBM containing more than one million nanoscale phase-change memristive devices were used to implement a neural network for the detection of hidden patterns and correlations in time-varying signals.

"In this work, we proposed and experimentally demonstrated a scheme to obtain high learning efficiencies with nanoscale memristive devices for implementing learning algorithms," Nandakumar says. "The central idea in our demonstration was to use several memristive devices in parallel to represent the strength of a synapse of a neural network, but only chose one of them to be updated at each step based on the neuronal activity."

Source: Novel synaptic architecture for brain inspired computing

Related: New Type of Memristors Used to Create a Limited Neural Net
The Second Coming of Neuromorphic Computing


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday July 12 2018, @02:19PM   Printer-friendly
from the 240-cps dept.

Submitted via IRC for Fnord666

[...] "Normal plastic is transparent for terahertz beams, in a similar way as glass is for visible light," explains Prof. Andrei Pimenov from the Institute of Solid State Physics at TU Wien. "However, terahertz waves slow down a little when they pass through plastic. This means that the crests and troughs of the beam become a little displaced -- we call that phase shifting."

This phase shifting can be used to shape a beam. Exactly the same thing happens -- in a much simpler form -- with an optical lens made of glass: when the lens is thicker in the middle than on the edge, a light beam in the middle spends more time in the glass than another beam that simultaneously hits the edge of the lens. The light beams in the middle are therefore more phase delayed than the light beams on the edge. This is exactly what causes the shape of the beam to change; a wider beam of light can be focussed on a single point.

And yet the possibilities are still far from being exhausted. "We didn't just want to map a wide beam to a point. Our goal was to be able to bring any beam into any shape," says Jan Gosporadic, a PhD student in Andrei Pimenov's team.

Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180711122332.htm


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday July 12 2018, @12:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the that's-a-lot-of-CDs dept.

Submitted via IRC for Fnord666

Broadcom Inc plans to acquire U.S. business software company CA Inc in a $19 billion deal aimed at diversifying Broadcom beyond semiconductors, but Wall Street analysts were immediately skeptical.

The deal announced on Wednesday would come just four months after U.S. President Donald Trump blocked Broadcom's $117 billion hostile bid for semiconductor peer Qualcomm Inc because it posed a threat to U.S. national security and gave an edge to Chinese companies looking to build next-generation wireless networks.

Since then, Broadcom has redomiciled from Singapore to the United States, placing it formally outside the purview of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the government panel that reviews deals for potential national security risks.

Source: Chipmaker Broadcom plans $19 billion deal to buy software company CA


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday July 12 2018, @11:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the we-all-are-chinese dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow7025

Modern humans' distant relatives left Africa earlier than previously thought—rewriting a key chapter in humankind's epic prequel, according to a discovery unveiled on Wednesday in Nature.

Nearly a hundred stone tools found at the Shangchen site in central China may push back the spread of our ancient cousins—hominins—out of Africa by more than a quarter million years.

The toolmakers lived at Shangchen on and off for 800,000 years between 2.1 and 1.3 million years ago, leaving behind tools that are unprecedented outside of Africa. The site's oldest tools are roughly 300,000 years older than Dmanisi, a 1.8-million-year-old site in the Republic of Georgia with the oldest known fossils of our extinct cousin Homo erectus.

Source: Oldest Tools Outside Africa Found, Rewriting Human Story


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday July 12 2018, @09:40AM   Printer-friendly
from the allows-anyone-to-take-over dept.

Submitted via IRC for Fnord666

[...] Malware has been discovered in at least three Arch Linux packages available on AUR (Arch User Repository), the official Arch Linux repository of user-submitted packages.

[...] The incident happened because AUR allows anyone to take over "orphaned" repositories that have been abandoned by their original authors.

[...] According to a Git commit to the package's source code, xeactor added malicious code that would download a file named "~x" from ptpb.pw, a lightweight site mimicking Pastebin that allows users to share small pieces of texts.

[...] Besides downloading ~u, the main purpose of the first file (~x) was also to modify systemd and add a timer to run the ~u file at every 360 seconds.

[...] No other malicious actions were observed, meaning the acroread package wasn't harming users' systems, but merely collecting data in preparation for... something else.

Source: Malware Found in Arch Linux AUR Package Repository


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday July 12 2018, @08:10AM   Printer-friendly
from the but-are-they-or-not dept.

Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956

Facebook is apologizing after its algorithms tagged 65,000 Russian users as "interested in treason." Facebook algorithmically tags users based on their behavior, making it easier for advertisers to target people interested in specific topics. In this case, however, the tag "treason" may have put users under the threat of government intervention. Facebook says it has since removed the interest category.

[...] Automated profiling is useful when you're an orange juice vendor looking for people who say they like orange juice, but a landmark 2016 report from ProPublica found that many of the interests Facebook links to users aren't self-selected. Facebook records your behavior, then makes inferences on who you may be or what you might like, including your race, gender, sexuality, and religion.

[...] Let's be clear: Facebook is an automated profiling machine that synthesizes the enormous amounts of behavior data we create as we click, share, and friend other users. Advertisers can tap into that machine whenever they want, for the right price, and governments can request data. Overall, Facebook hands data over about 75% of the time, according to its 2018 Transparency Report.

Source: Facebook's Ad Tools Labeled Thousands of Users as 'Interested' in Treason


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday July 12 2018, @06:39AM   Printer-friendly
from the turn-it-on-and-off dept.

Submitted via IRC for Fnord666

[...] When the beam exits the cube, the reflected light from the left portion of the beam and the transmitted light from the right portion of the beam are emitted from one face of the cube. Conversely, the transmitted light from left portion of the beam and reflected light from the right portion are emitted from another face of the cube.

This creates an extremely stable "Interference" pattern for Guo and his team to measure all the key spatial characteristics of a light beam- its amplitude, phase, polarization, wavelength, and, in the case of pulsed beams, the duration of the pulses. And not just as an average along the entire beam, but at each point of the beam.

This is especially important in imaging applications, Guo says. "If a beam is not perfect, and there is a defect on the image, it's important to know the defect is because of the beam, and not because of a variation in the object you are imaging," Guo says.

Source: Simpler interferometer can fine tune even the quickest pulses of light


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday July 12 2018, @05:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the needed-a-faster-ISP dept.

Ex-Apple Employee Stole Secrets for Chinese Firm, U.S. Says

A former Apple Inc. engineer was arrested on charges of stealing driverless car secrets for a Chinese startup after he passed through the security checkpoint at San Jose International Airport to board a flight to China.

Xiaolang Zhang was accused by U.S. prosecutors of downloading files containing proprietary information as he prepared to leave the iPhone maker in April and start work for Guangzhou-based Xiaopeng Motors. according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court in San Jose, California.

A hardware engineer for Apple's autonomous vehicle development team, Zhang was granted access to confidential company databases, according to the complaint. After he took paternity leave he told Apple in April he was moving back to China to work at Xmotors. Apple grew more suspicious after seeing his increased network activity and visits to the office before he resigned, according to the complaint.

Zhang admitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he downloaded Apple driverless technology files to his wife's laptop to have continued access to them, according to the complaint. He was arrested July 7.

Also at MacRumors.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday July 12 2018, @03:37AM   Printer-friendly
from the next-gen-google-glasses dept.

Google's URL inspection tool now available for all users

You can access the tool within the new Google Search Console over here.

The URL inspection tool allows you to check a specific URL on your website to see the status of how Google search sees that URL. This tool "provides detailed crawl, index, and serving information about your pages, directly from the Google index," Google says. It will show the last crawl date, the status of that last crawl, any crawling or indexing errors and the canonical URL for that page. It will show if the page was successfully indexed, any AMP errors, structured data errors and indexing issues.

Seems like you need to log in to make it work.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday July 12 2018, @02:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the peak-blockchain-phone dept.

HTC's blockchain-powered Exodus smartphone is a risky bet that needs to pay off

In May, HTC first announced that it was working on a blockchain-powered smartphone called the Exodus. The news came as one of the company's more intriguing projects after a poor start to the year. Last year, HTC shipped over 2 million products in Q1. This year, it shipped only 630,000 products in Q1, according to numbers from IDC.

HTC is in pretty poor shape after a round of layoffs last week where the company laid off 1,500 employees in Taiwan in hopes of becoming profitable. Sales in June were down 68 percent, according to the company. Its latest flagship, the U12 Plus, has received largely negative reviews over its odd solid-state buttons and software bugs.

It's a less than stellar time for blockchain, as well. Cryptocurrency prices are low, and last month, bitcoin was tied to price manipulation in a report from researchers at the University of Texas at Austin.

Considering HTC's financial situation, there's a lot at stake with the Exodus phone. Now we have details from HTC's Phil Chen about when we can expect the phone to be released and an estimate on how much it might cost. Although Chen was vague on specifics, he told The Verge that we can expect the phone around the end of this year and we can expect a price announcement by the end of Q3. When I mentioned that the world's first blockchain-powered phone called Finney, created by Sirin Labs, costs $1000, Chen said the price of Exodus would be "comparable."

And it comes with CryptoKitties!

See also: Wikileaks breeds and sells Cryptokitties, gifts them to Trump and Clinton

Previously: HTC Announces a "Blockchain-Powered" Smartphone


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday July 12 2018, @12:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the privacy-is-like-virginity... dept.

Australian states are looking to implement real-time prescription monitoring to control prescription drug overdoses and deaths caused by prescription drug use which it is believed causes the death of around 800 Australians per year. The new system, named Drugs and Poisons Information System Online Remote Access or "DORA", will be opt in initially until a national scheme is established. This is the second drug control related system to be introduced by the government to combat prescription drug abuse, or so it is claimed.

In 2018 codeine based medicine was restricted to prescription only, ending the decades of over the counter availability of this common drug used for combating pain. Some people consider the deaths of a few hundred people to be just an excuse to put these systems in place.

Will these systems prevent people's privacy from being violated? Will Australians be forced to have a MyHealthRecord in order to be able to get a prescription filled? What is the end game here? Only time will tell because our government is not saying.


Original Submission