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Funding Goal
For 6-month period:
2018-07-01 to 2018-12-31
Estimated Base Goal: $3000.00
Progress So Far:
Approximately: $525.79
17.5%

Covers transactions:
2018-07-01 00:00:00 ..
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(SPIDs: [942..972])
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2018-10-17 20:08:27 UTC
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What should be the Book Club pick for December 2018?

  • Snow Crash - by Neal Stephenson
  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) - by Dennis Taylor
  • Dawn (Xenogenesis #1) - by Octavia Butler
  • The Metropolitan Man (Fan Fiction) - by Alexander Wales
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow (Non-Fiction) - by Daniel Kahneman
  • Superforecasting (Non-Fiction) - by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner
  • Makers (Fiction) - by Cory Doctorow
  • Rip Foster in Ride the Gray Planet - by Harold L. Goodwin

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:34 | Votes:100

posted by chromas on Thursday August 09, @11:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the you-wouldn't-upload-a-bear dept.

The European Court of Justice has determined that a website must get permission from the copyright owner of an image before it can use the picture itself – even if that photo or illustration is readily available elsewhere.

That may seem like an obvious conclusion, however, the official advice delivered to the Euro court by its general advocate argued otherwise, with disagreement centered around the legal definition of what represents a "new public" when it comes to publication.

The question asked of the ECJ was: "Whether the concept of 'communication to the public' covers the posting on a website of a photograph which has been previously published on another website without any restrictions preventing it from being downloaded and with the consent of the copyright holder."

The court ruled on Tuesday that yes, it does. And that has huge implications for anyone in charge of a website.

[...] The implications are huge: it will embolden copyright holders to demand payment from any website that hosts their images. And that could potentially force millions of websites to take down all their pictures if they are hit repeatedly with payment demands.

It will also mean that every website – even school websites – will have to make sure that they only post images that they have permission to post. And pretty much everyone is going to have to reeducate themselves about what is and is not allowable online.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday August 09, @10:03PM   Printer-friendly

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984

And it wasn't even close.

A month and a half ago, OpenAI showed off the latest iteration of its Dota 2 bots, which had matured to the point of playing and winning a full five-on-five game against human opponents. Those artificial intelligence agents learned everything by themselves, exploring and experimenting on the complex Dota playing field at a learning rate of 180 years per day. [...] the so-called OpenAI Five truly earned their credibility by defeating a team of four pro players and one Dota 2 commentator in a best-of-three series of games.

There were a few conditions to make the game manageable for the AI, such as a narrower pool of 18 Dota heroes to choose from (instead of the full 100+) and item delivery couriers that are invincible. But those simplifications did little to detract from just how impressive an achievement today's win was.

[...] play-by-play commentator Austin "Capitalist" Walsh sums up the despondency felt by Team Human after the bout neatly:

Never felt more useless in my life but we're having fun at least so I think we're winning in spirit.

Sure aren't winning in-game

— Cap (@DotACapitalist) August 5, 2018

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/6/17655086/dota2-openai-bots-professional-gaming-ai

Dota 2 is a sequel to Defense of the Ancients (DotA).

Previously: OpenAI Bot Bursts Into the Ring, Humiliates Top Dota 2 Pro Gamer in 'Scary' One-on-One Bout
OpenAI to Face Off Against Top Dota 2 Players in 5v5 Match-ups


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday August 09, @08:26PM   Printer-friendly
from the waiting-for-developments dept.

Elon Musk Considers Taking Tesla Private

Elon Musk Makes $82 Billion Gambit to Silence Tesla Critics

Seemingly out of the blue, Elon Musk proclaimed that he might pull his money-losing Tesla Inc. off the market. Taking the electric-car company private at the price he touted would amount to an $82 billion valuation, a monumental sum that left many investors wondering: Is this a joke?

It wasn't.

[...] "The reason for doing this is all about creating the environment for Tesla to operate best," Musk, 47, wrote Tuesday in an email to employees. He said wild swings in the carmaker's stock price are a "major distraction" to Tesla workers, who are all shareholders. And he said that being public "puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term."

To take Tesla private, Musk would have to pull off the largest leveraged buyout in history, surpassing Texas electric utility TXU's in 2007. And Tesla doesn't fit the typical profile of a company that can raise tens of billions of dollars of debt to fund such a deal.

[...] "The market doesn't believe him," said David Kudla, the CEO of Mainstay Capital Management, which is betting against Tesla. "His credibility has come into question over a number of things. If this were real, you'd expect the stock to go closer to $420 a share than it has." Most major buyouts also require a trip to the junk bond markets, where Tesla has fallen out of favor.

Tesla Shares Resume Trading, Musk Posts Blog on Why Company Should Go Private

"Tesla resumed trading on the Nasdaq exchange after a nearly two-hour pause on Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the company confirmed in a blog post that CEO Elon Musk is considering taking the electric car maker private at $420 per share."

foxbusiness.com/markets/elon-musk-fires-up-tesla-blog-to-explain-idea-of-going-private


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by chromas on Thursday August 09, @06:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the mathses dept.

Contrary to widely-held opinion, taking high school calculus isn't necessary for success later in college calculus—what's more important is mastering the prerequisites, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry—that lead to calculus. That's according to a study of more than 6,000 college freshmen at 133 colleges carried out by the Science Education Department of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, led by Sadler, the Frances W. Wright Senior Lecturer on Astronomy, and by Sonnert, a Research Associate.In addition, the survey finds that weaker math students who choose to take calculus in high school actually get the most benefit from the class. The study is described in a May 2018 paper published in the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education.

"We study the transition from high school to college, and on one side of that there are college professors who say calculus is really a college subject, but on the other side there are high school teachers who say calculus is really helpful for their students, and the ones who want to be scientists and engineers get a lot out of it," Sadler said. "We wanted to see if we could settle that argument—which is more important, the math that prepares you for calculus or a first run-through when you're in high school followed by a more serious course in college?"

The study's results, Sadler said, provided a clear answer -a firmer grip on the subjects that led up to calculus had twice the impact of taking the subject in high school. And of those who did take calculus in high school, it was the weakest students who got the most from the class.

To get those findings, Sadler and Sonnert, designed a study that asked thousands of college freshmen to report not only demographic information, but their educational history, background and mathematics training.

https://phys.org/news/2018-07-mastering-prerequisitesnot-calculus-high-schoolbetter.html


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday August 09, @05:16PM   Printer-friendly
from the you-wouldn't-download-a-bear dept.

P2P Piracy Is Alive and Growing, Research Suggests

While the rise of online streaming sites can't be denied, a new research report from anti-piracy outfit Irdeto shows that P2P remains very relevant. In fact, it's still the dominant piracy tool in many countries. Irdeto researched site traffic data provided by an unnamed web analytics partner. The sample covers web traffic to 962 piracy sites in 19 countries where P2P was most used. This makes it possible to see how P2P site visits compare to those of pirate streaming sites.

The data reveal that there are massive differences in the relative use of P2P versus streaming sites between countries. In Russia, for example, only 2% of the visits go to streaming sites, while the rest of the traffic goes to P2P portals. P2P also outperforms streaming in other countries such as Australia, the Netherlands, and India. This pattern is reversed in Germany, where 88% of all visits go to pirate streaming sites. Similarly, streaming is also the dominant web piracy tool in the United States, France, Spain and other countries.

Additional research in eight countries shows that piracy traffic has grown during the course of 2017. This growth also applies to P2P sites, in all but one country, Germany. Looking at the sample as a whole, Iredeto notes that 70% of all pirate traffic goes to P2P sites, which appears to run counter to the popular narrative that streaming is more dominant today.


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday August 09, @03:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the tick-talk dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

A vicious species of tick originating from Eastern Asia has invaded the US and is rapidly sweeping the Eastern Seaboard, state and federal officials warn.

The tick, the Asian longhorned tick (or Haemaphysalis longicornis), has the potential to transmit an assortment of nasty diseases to humans, including an emerging virus that kills up to 30 percent of victims. So far, the tick hasn't been found carrying any diseases in the US. It currently poses the largest threat to livestock, pets, and wild animals; the ticks can attack en masse and drain young animals of blood so quickly that they die—an execution method called exsanguination.

Key to the tick's explosive spread and bloody blitzes is that its invasive populations tend to reproduce asexually, that is, without mating. Females drop up to 2,000 eggs over the course of two or three weeks, quickly giving rise to a ravenous army of clones. In one US population studied so far, experts encountered a massive swarm of the ticks in a single paddock, totaling well into the thousands. They speculated that the population might have a ratio of about one male to 400 females.

Yesterday, August 7, Maryland became the eighth state to report the presence of the tick. It followed a similar announcement last Friday, August 3, from Pennsylvania. Other affected states include New York, Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

-- submitted from IRC


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday August 09, @01:50PM   Printer-friendly
from the 💩 dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Manure from a high-density cattle farm that holds upward of 100,000 cows may have been the source of a deadly Escherichia coli strain that found its way onto romaine lettuce and caused a massive outbreak earlier this year. That's according to a new hypothesis announced this week by the Food and Drug Administration.

The bacterium behind the outbreak was a particularly nasty strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 that produces only Shiga toxin type 2 (Stx2), the more toxic of two types of toxins E. coli tends to carry. Stx2 causes cell death, triggers immune responses, and leads to the destruction of red blood cells, which can damage the kidneys.

Such Shiga-toxin producing E. coli are shed from the guts of animals (particularly cattle) and are spread by feces.

Traceback investigations by federal authorities linked the illnesses to romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma region of Arizona. Further work found that the outbreak stain was present in canal water running along farms. That pointed experts to the idea that tainted canal water was used for irrigation, literally showering crops with deadly germs.

In the new update, the FDA notes that a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) is located nearby to a cluster of romaine lettuce farms. Such high-density farms are notorious for causing water quality issues. Thus, poopy runoff from the CAFO may have contaminated the canal water, which then made its way onto vegetables directly through irrigation or some other indirect route. The FDA noted that it has been pondering other hypotheses, but it didn't outline what those were.

-- submitted from IRC


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday August 09, @12:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the pushing-back dept.

The death of Skype 7 (or Skype classic) has been delayed, following "customer feedback", according to Microsoft.

Microsoft originally announced on July 16 that classic Skype would be discontinued on Sept. 1, 2018 and encouraged users to upgrade to version 8.0. After many lamented the "upgrade" and clogged up the comments on the original discontinuation blog post, Microsoft have decided to continue supporting Skype 7 for "some time".

The message that was left on the original post, as reported by Microsoft blog Thurrott, was simple: "Thanks for all your comments - we are listening." A Microsoft spokesperson told CNET they have nothing more to share beyond the blog post at this time.

[...] It appears, for now, that Skype classic will continue being supported -- at least until Microsoft can transplant much-loved features to its updated version.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday August 09, @10:57AM   Printer-friendly
from the another-one-bites-the-dust dept.

Retro game repository EmuParadise says it's finished distributing ROMs

Nintendo has had enough of pirates and the websites that enable them, like EmuParadise. After shutting down a handful of sites and a Game Boy Advance emulator on GitHub in July, the publisher has seemingly done the work to convince EmuParadise to shut down. This massive online library of downloadable old games started 18 years ago, and up until this moment it hosted nearly complete libraries of games for various consoles that you could download and play on emulators.

Playing ROMs, as these game files are often referred to as, on an emulator exists in a legal gray area, but distributing these copyrighted works for download on the internet is obviously and clearly illegal. But Nintendo and other publishers have mostly avoided investing resources in tracking down and enforcing its legal right in many of these cases over the last couple of decades. For Nintendo, however, something has changed, and it is cracking down. And EmuParadise has confirmed that it is going to do what it must to avoid facing legal action.

"We will continue to be passionate retro gamers and will keep doing cool stuff around retro games, but you won't be able to get your games from here for now," reads an EmuParadise blog post. "Where we go with this is up to us and up to you."

Read-only memory (ROM) image.

Also at Kotaku and TechCrunch.

Previously: Nintendo Sues ROM Sites


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday August 09, @09:28AM   Printer-friendly
from the spider's-ilk-to-spider-silk dept.

Researchers insert a spider web gene into the silkworm

Spider silk is a bit of a dream material, stronger than steel by some measures yet incredibly light and flexible. Obtaining spider silk, however, is a bit of a nightmare, as most spider species are both extremely territorial and prone to cannibalism. While we have managed to identify the genes that are needed to produce silk, inserting those into other species hasn't worked out especially well, since silk formation depends on fairly precise mixtures of several proteins, as well as how the spider extrudes the fiber.

A Chinese group is now reporting some progress in overcoming at least some of these challenges. Their trick was to insert the genes into a domesticated species that already makes something like spider silk—specifically, the species that gave us the term silk. The new bit of genetic engineering has resulted in a silkworm that produces a hybrid silkworm/spider material that's not as tough but is a bit stretchier than native spider silk.

[...] They designed proteins that would cut the silkworm's chromosomes on either side of a gene that encodes a major silk protein. RNA encoding those proteins was injected into silkworm eggs, along with a DNA template that would allow the egg to repair the chromosome by inserting a spider silk gene instead. This put the spider gene under the control of the factors the silkworm normally uses to create silk proteins, which worked much better, as about 35 percent of the resulting silk was composed of the spider protein.

[...] The silk itself was also slightly different, shrinking in diameter by about 16 percent. Its ability to withstand stress without breaking was down by a similar percentage. But there were some good features; the spider-silkworm hybrid silk could be stretched to about 1.5 times the length that normal silk could without breaking.

Mass spider silk production through targeted gene replacement in Bombyx mori (open, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1806805115) (DX)


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday August 09, @07:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the a-very-low-flying-aircraft dept.

Xinhua reports:

China on Wednesday increased the maximum speed of bullet trains on the Beijing-Tianjin high-speed railway to 350 km per hour (kph), reducing the inter-city travel time by five minutes.

The route now runs a Fuxing (Rejuvenation), the newest bullet train model developed in China.

The increase will shorten travel time between Beijing South Railway Station and Tianjin Railway Station from 35 minutes to 30 minutes with no price difference in fares.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday August 09, @06:14AM   Printer-friendly
from the shark-jumping-awards dept.

Academy Adds Popular Film Oscar Category in Desperate Ratings Move

At the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday night, the 54 governors voted to add a new category to the Oscars. Per tradition, some 7,000 Academy voters, experts in their field, voted in by their colleagues, will weigh in on the best films of the year in 24 categories covering the crafts of moviemaking, from cinematography to sound, as well as the four acting categories, directing, writing, animation, foreign language, documentary, and fiction shorts and features.

But this year there will be one more: Best Popular Film. The Academy is bowing to pressure from ABC, which is anxious about historic low ratings for its telecast. The next Oscars will air on February 24, 2019 and, in 2020, will move up from February 23 to February 9, the earliest date ever, in a bid to jump ahead of multiple rival awards shows–which will, in turn, move ahead of the Oscars. (In the early days of its history, the Oscars were held in May, moved to April and March, then February.)

The Board also finally succumbed to building pressure to keep the show to three hours and not present live some of the less sexy craft categories, following the lead of other awards shows like the Tonys. (Sexy categories like Sound Mixing and Editing will be presented live during commercial breaks, then edited into the show.) This also serves to undermine the integrity of these annual global awards, which may be losing relevance as a mainstream shared event, but are still revered by cinephiles around the world.

Also at Vanity Fair, Vulture, Slate, Variety, and Collider.

See also: Oscars Slammed by Film Journalists for Creating 'Best Popular Film' Category, Especially in the Year of 'Black Panther'


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday August 09, @04:37AM   Printer-friendly
from the bloody-well-right dept.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved soy leghemoglobin as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for human consumption:

Last August, documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that the FDA hadn't stomached the company's previous GRAS application. The agency concluded that soy leghemoglobin—a protein found in the roots of soybean plants that Impossible Foods harvests from genetically engineered yeast and uses to simulate the taste and bloodiness of meat—had not been adequately tested for safety.

In the application, Impossible Foods argued that the iron-containing protein is equivalent to hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells and commonly consumed in meat. Thus, the protein was safe, the company concluded. It went as far as conducting studies in rats to back up the claim. But the FDA noted that soy leghemoglobin had never been used as an additive before, and the organization wanted data showing that the protein was safe and not an allergen specifically for humans.

[...] At the time, the decision was a searing blow to Impossible Foods, which up until then had fired up the appetites of investors and top chefs alike and savored glowing publicity. Since the company's founding in 2011, big names such as Bill Gates and Google Ventures served up more than $250 million in startup funds, and the impossible patty sizzled on the menus of such high-end restaurants as Momofuku Nishi in New York and Jardinière in San Francisco. The soy leghemoglobin was a big part of that hype, with the company touting it as its "secret sauce."

But the FDA's gut check didn't knock Impossible Foods off the market; it just left a bad taste. In fact, the company wasn't even required to submit its GRAS application to begin with due to the controversial way in which the FDA oversees food additives and GRAS designations. Under the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the 1958 Food Additives Amendment, the FDA allows food companies and their hired consultants to internally test and determine a GRAS designation of a potential new additive all on their own. They can start using it without getting approval from the FDA or even notifying the agency. The FDA only steps in after the fact if problems arise.

Impossible Foods' FAQ says "the heme molecule in plant-based heme is atom-for-atom identical to the heme molecule found in meat". Heme is a component of soy leghemoglobin consisting of an iron atom bound in a porphyrin ring.

Meanwhile, the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are continuing to fight over which agency will have jurisdiction over "cultured meat" (i.e. lab-grown animal cells for human consumption):

In a daylong discussion of safety considerations, the agency asserted its jurisdiction over products made of chicken, beef, pork, and seafood cells grown in a culture medium, despite recent calls—including a proposal from lawmakers in the House of Representatives—to leave that responsibility to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Cultured meat, also sometimes called clean meat or lab-grown meat, is made by extracting cells from an animal and prompting them to mature into muscle fibers and grow in a bioreactor. No products have yet hit the market, though several companies have suggested that their first generation of cultured meat will be available in the next 5 years.

Previously: Inside the Strange Science of the Fake Meat that 'Bleeds'
Impossible Foods Just Raised $75 Million for Its Plant-based Burgers
U.S. Cattlemen's Association Wants an Official Definition of "Meat"

Related: Cargill, Bill Gates, Richard Branson Backed Memphis Meats Expects Meat From Cells in Stores by 2021


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday August 09, @03:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the tired-of-winning dept.

Trump's China Tariffs Claim Another Victim: A South Carolina TV Manufacturing Plant:

The tariffs imposed by President Trump have claimed more jobs, this time at a consumer-electronics manufacturing plant in South Carolina.

Element Electronics blamed tariffs on Chinese imports for its decision to shut down its manufacturing facilities in Winnsboro, SC, a town located about 30 miles north of the state's capital. The plant, which makes Element TVs, will maintain a skeleton crew of eight workers, as it hopes the shutdown will be temporary."

The news is especially hard for Winnsboro and its surrounding communities because of recent job losses in the area, including the shuttering of a Walmart store, the closing of a textile mill, and the cancellation of plans to construct two nuclear reactors.

Element notified the state's Department of Employment about its plans, according to Columbia-based The State newspaper, which first reported on the plant's closing. In its notification, Element stated, "The layoff and closure is a result of the new tariffs that were recently and unexpectedly imposed on many goods imported from China, including the key television components used in our assembly operations in Winnsboro."


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday August 09, @01:23AM   Printer-friendly
from the put-it-on-the-blockchain dept.

With worn-out clichés about the dead voting, Chicago used to be the poster child for voter fraud. But if any state is a poster child for terrible election practices, it is surely Georgia. Bold claims demand bold evidence, and unfortunately there's plenty; on Monday, McClatchy reported a string of irregularities from the state's primary election in May, including one precinct with a 243-percent turnout.

McClatchy's data comes from a federal lawsuit filed against the state. In addition to the problem in Habersham County's Mud Creek precinct, where it appeared that 276 registered voters managed to cast 670 ballots, the piece describes numerous other issues with both voter registration and electronic voting machines. (In fact it was later corrected to show 3,704 registered voters in the precinct.)

Multiple sworn statements from voters describe how they turned up at their polling stations only to be turned away or directed to other precincts. Even more statements allege incorrect ballots, frozen voting machines, and other issues.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/08/georgia-defends-voting-system-despite-243-percent-turnout-in-one-precinct/


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday August 09, @12:00AM   Printer-friendly

China claims to have successfully tested its first hypersonic aircraft

China claims to have successfully tested its first hypersonic aircraft, a big step forward in aerospace technology that could intensify pressure on the US military. The China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA), based in Beijing and part of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, conducted the first test of the "Starry Sky-2" aircraft last Friday.

Hypersonic vehicles are not simply high-speed -- they travel at least at five times the speed of sound. That's fast enough to travel across the US in around 30 minutes. According to a CAAA statement released Monday, the Starry Sky-2 reached a top speed of Mach 6 -- six times the speed of sound, or 4,563 miles (7,344 kilometers) per hour.

The test was a "complete success," claimed CAAA, which posted photos of the test launch on social media platform WeChat. "The Starry Sky-2 flight test project was strongly innovative and technically difficult, confronting a number of cutting-edge international technical challenges." The CAAA did not indicate what the new aircraft or technology would be used for, other than to say they hoped to continue contributing to China's aerospace industry.

Also at Quartz and NextBigFuture.

Related: General: U.S. Has No Defense Against "Hypersonic Weapons"


Original Submission