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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:54

posted by martyb on Wednesday March 13, @10:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the debugging dept.

Dozens of essential oils-based products on the market claim to kill or repel insects, but a previous Rutgers University study showed that few actually work against bed bugs. Gondhalekar and Gaire analyzed 15 essential oil compounds that are present in various aromatic plants for their toxicity to bed bugs and their ability to disrupt the insects' nervous system function. Their findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.
All of the chemicals were effective when applied directly to the bed bugs, though the amount needed to kill them varied. Carvacrol, derived from oregano and thyme; thymol (thyme); citronellic acid (lemongrass); and eugenol (clove) were most effective.

When tested as fumigants, thymol, carvacrol, linalool (common in basil) and camphor (camphor tree) were most effective. Four of the compounds did not kill bed bugs over a 24-hour period.

It took about 70,000 times more of the most effective compound to kill a bed bug by contact than a control synthetic insecticide. With fumigants, this difference was only 400 times. That doesn't mean plant essential oil compounds are ineffective, Gondhalekar said. Now that toxicity levels are known, effective products can be formulated.

Hmm, using enough essential oil could kill bedbugs, but will you then stick to your furniture?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday March 13, @08:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-can-dig-it!!-Elon-Musk dept.

The Las Vegas visitors authority on Tuesday picked Elon Musk's tunnel-making startup "The Boring Company" to build an underground "people mover" as part of a massive convention center expansion.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) board of directors touted its choice as a "monumental decision that will revolutionize Southern Nevada's transportation."

The Boring Company will design, construct and operate a convention center transport system consisting of a loop of express-route tunnels capable of carrying passengers in autonomous electric vehicles at high speeds, according to LVCVA.

Travellers of the Vegas underground are advised to keep an eye out for Deathclaws, Mirelurks, Mole rats, and Feral Ghouls.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday March 13, @07:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the squeeze-pop dept.

It can be used to cool or heat the air in a room or to cool or heat liquids. And it looks like something that Q—the tech specialist and gadgeteer in the James Bond films—might have come up with. The prototype device, which has been developed by a research team led by Professors Stefan Seelecke and Andreas Schütze at Saarland University, is able to transfer heat using 'muscles' made from nickel-titanium. Nickel-titanium or nitinol, as it is often known, is a shape-memory material that releases heat to its surroundings when it is mechanically loaded in its superelastic state and absorbs heat from its surroundings when it is unloaded. This unusual property is the reason why nitinol is also referred to as a 'smart alloy' or as 'muscle wire." This effect has been exploited by the Saarbrücken researchers who have developed an environmentally friendly heating and cooling system that is two to three times more efficient than conventional heating and cooling devices.

The researchers say the device also works without the usual refrigerants that damage the environment.

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Wednesday March 13, @05:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the mouse-in-the-house dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984

Disney’s forthcoming streaming service will kill the Disney Vault

It looks like the Disney Vault is dead. For years, Disney relied on limited-time releases of its films on DVD and Blu-ray to encourage sales. The strategy worked. Consumers snapped up the titles to build out their home video collections. But in more recent years, DVDs have given way to streaming. For Disney, that’s an opportunity to resell its movie library all over again — this time, by way of subscription. At a shareholder meeting this week, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced the company’s forthcoming Disney+ streaming service would soon include the “entire Disney motion picture library.”

He clarified that this meant it would house the movies that were previously locked up in the Disney Vault, Polygon reported on Thursday, following the meeting.

[...]Iger additionally noted that new films would arrive on Disney+ within a year of their release to theaters, and that films Disney is releasing this year — like Captain Marvel — will be included on the service, as well.

Disney+ will launch later this year, Iger also confirmed. But no exact date has been announced.

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Wednesday March 13, @03:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the markup-perversion dept.

Submitted via IRC for FatPhil

The man who invented the web says it's now dysfunctional with 'perverse' incentives

Thirty years ago, the World Wide Web was born.

But over the next 30 years, it needs to be "changed for the better," according to its inventor.

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee laid out his vision for an information management system, which would become the World Wide Web, in March 1989. The blueprint would radically transform society as half the world's population went online in just three decades. But in a letter published Monday marking the web's 30th anniversary, Berners-Lee said he understands concerns that the internet is no longer a "force for good."

"The fight for the web is one of the most important causes of our time," Berners-Lee said.

[...]An open web has been a sticking point for Berners-Lee. From the outset, he chose to make the underlying code of the World Wide Web available to anyone without a fee.

Berners-Lee said the system has since been designed with "perverse" incentives, which he sees as the second source of dysfunction in the web today. He singled out ad-based revenue models, used by many tech giants like Google and Facebook, that reward "clickbait and the viral spread of misinformation."

[...]"Companies must do more to ensure their pursuit of short-term profit is not at the expense of human rights, democracy, scientific fact or public safety," he said in the letter Monday.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday March 13, @01:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the how-did-the-students-do? dept.

Actresses and Business Leaders Charged in College Admissions Bribery Scandal

Federal prosecutors charged dozens of people on Tuesday in a major college admission scandal that involved wealthy parents, including Hollywood celebrities and prominent business leaders, paying bribes to get their children into elite American universities.

Thirty-three parents were charged in the case. Also implicated were top college coaches, who were accused of accepting millions of dollars to help admit students to Wake Forest, Yale, Stanford, the University of Southern California and other schools, regardless of their academic or sports ability, officials said. Along with the Hollywood stars Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, those charged included prominent business leaders, a fashion designer and a top lawyer, officials said.

The case unveiled Tuesday was stunning in its breadth and audacity. It was the Justice Department's largest ever college admissions prosecution, a sprawling investigation that involved 200 agents nationwide and resulted in charges against 50 people in six states. The charges also underscored how college admissions have become so cutthroat and competitive that some have sought to break the rules. The authorities say the parents of some of the nation's wealthiest and most privileged students sought to buy spots for their children at top universities, not only cheating the system, but potentially cheating other hard-working students out of a chance at a college education.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Wednesday March 13, @12:05PM   Printer-friendly
from the ok dept.

'Momo' may be 'dead,' but experts say avoiding the next hoax is up to us

[...] So how did we get here? How did this apparent hoax, now just the latest fodder for internet memes, wind up causing panic among parents in countries from India to Colombia, from the UK to the United States, and from the Houses of Parliament to U.S. police agencies?

[...] Laura Hazard Owen, deputy editor of Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab, called the "Momo challenge" phenomenon "the most fascinating/unique fake news story I've covered in awhile." The problem, she said, was that most of the news stories warning people about "Momo" appeared to be based on hearsay. One local news station, she pointed out, "simply interviewed a 5-year-old," while others ran with anecdotes from parents who had heard from their child that they had heard from another child... you get the point.

[...] "Unless you can watch all media, TV and news, consciously, step back from it, get a little distance and ask yourself what's being said, you're going to be taken in," Dr. Mramor argued. "It's like when you're watching a scary movie and get sucked into the plot... be a conscious consumer," she said. "And if more people were, this would never have happened. We wouldn't even be talking about this story."

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Wednesday March 13, @10:40AM   Printer-friendly
from the good-news dept.

According to research published March 11 in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology, the experimental drug DSM265 cured seven volunteers of infection by Plasmodium falciparum (the deadliest of the five human infecting Malaria parasite species) in a clinical study using a single oral dose.

The study confirmed findings of earlier studies. Only minor effects (abdominal tenderness, skin rash, itching) were observed in the previous or current studies.

The single dose aspect is crucial because currently,

it takes three days of combination therapy to cure malaria. "A single dose cure would provide a treatment that could improve compliance, reduce development of resistance, and eventually contribute to the eradication of this disease," said coauthor Jörg Möhrle,... Associate Professor of Infection Biology and Epidemiology, University of Basel, Switzerland.

Work is ongoing to improve the formulation of DSM265 and find a companion drug.

Cure notwithstanding, a companion drug is needed to prevent development of resistance. Resistance is a numbers game, caused by the emergence of random mutations that block a drug's action. The chance of random mutations arising concurrently to block both drugs' action is vanishingly small.

The end goal, of course, is to eradicate the parasite completely. Malaria causes over 200 million infections annually and kills between half and three-quarters of a million humans per year.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Wednesday March 13, @09:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the SPF50 dept.

The sun is quiet ... very quiet.

In February, for the first time since August 2008, the sun went an entire month without any sunspots.

Sunspots are cooler regions of the sun. How many appear on the sun's surface depends on what cycle the sun is in. Every 11 years our star goes through a maximum, followed by a minimum (the entire magnetic cycle of the sun, when the poles flip, is 22 years).

Over the past three decades, the sun has been consistently dropping in activity. Maximum has been quieter than is typical; minimum has been particularly quiet. And this has caused some to make the false assumption that, as a result, Earth is going to cool.

It all stems from an incident that took place between 1645 and 1715, called the Maunder Minimum, where sunspots all but disappeared. This coincided with the "Little Ice Age" that stretched from 1500 to 1850 in the northern hemisphere. In England, the Thames River froze over; Viking settlers abandoned Greenland.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Wednesday March 13, @07:20AM   Printer-friendly
from the no dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

GWX redux? Microsoft to start nagging Windows 7 users about upcoming EOL.

Making the transition to Windows 10 and Office 365

After 10 years, support for Windows 7 is coming to an end on January 14, 2020, with Office 2010 following shortly thereafter.  We are here to help you with recommendations for what to do next and answer questions that you may have about end of support.

End of support means that your Windows 7 or Office 2010 software will no longer receive updates, including security updates. But, there's good news – Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever and Office 365 delivers the latest in personal productivity. Together they make a perfect pair to help you do everything you were doing before – safer, faster and easier.

To help our customers get advanced notice of this change, we are reaching out with information and resources. Beginning next month, if you are a Windows 7 customer, you can expect to see a notification appear on your Windows 7 PC. This is a courtesy reminder that you can expect to see a handful of times in 2019. By starting the reminders now, our hope is that you have time to plan and prepare for this transition. These notifications are designed to help provide information only and if you would prefer not to receive them again, you'll be able to select an option for "do not notify me again," and we will not send you any further reminders. Just as software has changed over the years, so has hardware. To learn more about the latest line-up of modern PCs and information for moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10, just click on the "learn more" button on the notification.

If you want to get started today, you can visit to find out more.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Wednesday March 13, @05:50AM   Printer-friendly
from the yes dept.

Western Digital Develops Low-Latency Flash to Compete with Intel Optane

Western Digital is working on its own low-latency flash memory that will offer a higher performance and endurance when compared to conventional 3D NAND, ultimately designed to compete against Optane storage.

At Storage Field Day this week, Western Digital spoke about its new Low Latency Flash NAND. The technology is meant to fit somewhere between 3D NAND and DRAM, similar to Intel's Optane storage and Samsung's Z-NAND. Similar to those technologies, according to Western Digital, its LLF memory will feature access time "in the microsecond range", using 1 bit-per-cell and 2 bit-per-cell architectures.

[...] Western Digital does not disclose all the details regarding its low-latency flash memory and it is impossible to say whether it has anything to do with Toshiba's XL-Flash low-latency 3D NAND introduced last year as well as other specialized types of flash.

[...] In the more long term, Western Digital is working on ReRAM-based SCM internally, and on memristor-based SCM with HP.

The estimate is that WD's LLF memory will be 1/10th the cost of DRAM, and 3x as expensive as 3D NAND.

This sounds like a rebrand of SLC and MLC NAND.

Related: SanDisk and HP Announce Potential Competitor to XPoint Memory
IBM Demonstrates Phase Change Memory with Multiple Bits Per Cell
Western Digital and Samsung at the Flash Memory Summit
Fujitsu to Mass Produce Nantero-Licensed NRAM in 2018
Rambus and Gigadrive Form Joint Venture to Commercialize Resistive RAM
Samsung Shares Plans for 96-Layer TLC NAND, QLC NAND, and 2nd-Generation "Z-NAND"
Crossbar Searching for Funding and Customers for its ReRAM Products to Compete with Intel's Optane
Samsung Announces Mass Production of Commercial Embedded Magnetic Random Access Memory (eMRAM)

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday March 13, @04:20AM   Printer-friendly
from the cracker dept.

Data & Society just published a report entitled Workplace Monitoring & Surveillance:

New technologies are enabling more varied and pervasive monitoring and surveillance practices in the workplace. This monitoring is becoming increasingly intertwined with data collection as the basis for surveillance, performance evaluation, and management. Monitoring and surveillance tools are collecting new kinds of data about workers, enabling quantification of activities or personal qualities that previously may not have been tracked in a given workplace—expanding the granularity, scale, and tempo of data collection. Moreover, workplace monitoring and surveillance can feed automated decision-making and inform predictions about workers' future behaviors, their skills or qualities, and their fitness for employment. Monitoring and surveillance can shift power dynamics between workers and employers, as an imbalance in access to worker data can reduce negotiating power.

This explainer highlights four broad trends in employee monitoring and surveillance technologies:

  • Prediction and flagging tools that aim to predict characteristics or behaviors of employees or that are designed to identify or deter perceived rule-breaking or fraud. Touted as useful management tools, they can augment biased and discriminatory practices in workplace evaluations and segment workforces into risk categories based on patterns of behavior.
  • Biometric and health data of workers collected through tools like wearables, fitness tracking apps, and biometric timekeeping systems as a part of employer- provided health care programs, workplace wellness, and digital tracking work shifts tools. Tracking non-work-related activities and information, such as health data, may challenge the boundaries of worker privacy, open avenues for discrimination, and raise questions about consent and workers' ability to opt out of tracking.
  • Remote monitoring and time-tracking used to manage workers and measure performance remotely. Companies may use these tools to decentralize and lower costs by hiring independent contractors, while still being able to exert control over them like traditional employees with the aid of remote monitoring tools. More advanced time-tracking can generate itemized records of on-the-job activities, which can be used to facilitate wage theft or allow employers to trim what counts as paid work time.
  • Gamification and algorithmic management of work activities through continuous data collection. Technology can take on management functions, such as sending workers automated "nudges" or adjusting performance benchmarks based on a worker's real-time progress, while gamification renders work activities into competitive, game-like dynamics driven by performance metrics. However, these practices can create punitive work environments that place pressures on workers to meet demanding and shifting efficiency benchmarks.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday March 13, @02:59AM   Printer-friendly

Mozilla's self-destructing file-sharing service exits beta

Firefox Send, the encrypted file-sharing service from Mozilla, has exited beta and is no longer an experiment. The service allows you to send download links that are set to automatically expire after a certain period of time, or after a set number of people have downloaded them. An additional password can also be set before a recipient can download a file.

Registered, logged-in users can send files up to 2.5 GB in size, otherwise the limit is 1 GB.

Also at Engadget.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday March 13, @01:23AM   Printer-friendly
from the cat-and-mouse dept.

[R]esearchers at the University of California San Diego who combine experiments and mathematical modeling have discovered an unexpected mechanism that allows bacteria to survive antibiotics.

As described in the March 7 early online release of the journal Cell, Dong-yeon Lee, Maja Bialecka-Fornal and Gürol Süel of UC San Diego's Division of Biological Sciences, along with Leticia Galera-Laporta of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain), and colleagues discovered that bacteria defend themselves against antibiotics by controlling the uptake of alkaline metal ions. When under attack by antibiotics, bacteria were found to modulate magnesium ion uptake in order to stabilize their ribosomes -- the fundamental molecular machines of life that translate genes into proteins -- as a survival technique.

[...] The new findings lay the scientific groundwork for new ways to counteract antibiotic resistance.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Tuesday March 12, @11:40PM   Printer-friendly
from the eople-crab-people-crab-people-crab-people-crab-people-crab-people-crab-people-crab-people-crab-peopl dept.

Submitted via IRC for FatPhil

Social media and internet not cause of political polarisation (new research suggests)

Using a random sample of adult internet users in the UK, researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute and the University of Ottawa examined people’s media choices, and how much they influenced their interaction with echo chambers, against six key variables: gender, income, ethnicity, age, breadth of media use and political interest. The findings reveal that rather than encouraging the use and development of echo chambers, the breadth of multimedia available actually makes it easier for people to avoid them.

Dr Grant Blank, co-author and research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, said: ‘Whatever the causes of political polarisation today, it is not social media or the internet.

‘If anything, most people use the internet to broaden their media horizons. We found evidence that people actively look to confirm the information that they read online, in a multitude of ways. They mainly do this by using a search engine to find offline media and validate political information. In the process they often encounter opinions that differ from their own and as a result whether they stumbled across the content passively or use their own initiative to search for answers while double checking their “facts”, some changed their own opinion on certain issues.’

[...] Dr Elizabeth Dubois, co-author and Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa, said: ‘Our results show that most people are not in a political echo chamber. The people at risk are those who depend on only a single medium for political news and who are not politically interested: about 8% of the population. However, because of their lack of political engagement, their opinions are less formative and their influence on others is likely to be comparatively small.’

The echo chamber is overstated: the moderating effect of political interest and diverse media, Elizabeth Dubois & Grant Blank in Information, Communication & Society. 2018 (DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2018.1428656)

Original Submission