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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 Thursday March 14, @11:58PM   Printer-friendly
from the a-bit-of-an-overstatement? dept.

The Reality of SSD Capacity: No-One Wants Over 16TB Per Drive

One of the expanding elements of the storage business is that the capacity per drive has been ever increasing. Spinning hard-disk drives are approaching 20 TB soon, while solid state storage can vary from 4TB to 16TB or even more, if you're willing to entertain an exotic implementation. Today at the Data Centre World conference in London, I was quite surprised to hear that due to managed risk, we're unlikely to see much demand for drives over 16TB.

Speaking with a few individuals at the show about expanding capacities, storage customers that need high density are starting to discuss maximum drive size requirements based on their implementation needs. One message starting to come through is that storage deployments are looking at managing risk with drive size – sure, a large capacity drive allows for high-density, but in a drive failure of a large drive means a lot of data is going to be lost.

[...] Ultimately the size of the drive and the failure rate leads to element of risks and downtime, and aside from engineering more reliant drives, the other variable for risk management is drive size. 16TB, based on the conversations I've had today, seems to be that inflection point; no-one wants to lose 16TB of data in one go, regardless of how often it is accessed, or how well a storage array has additional failover metrics.

Related: Toshiba Envisions a 100 TB QLC SSD in the "Near Future"
Samsung Announces a 128 TB SSD With QLC NAND

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday March 14, @10:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the TRD-approved dept.

Japan Wants to Put a Toyota on the Moon

Toyota Motor Corp. is scoping out a new frontier: lunar rovers.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is teaming up with the country's largest carmaker to build a six-wheeled self-driving transporter that can carry two humans for a distance of 10,000 kilometers. They're aiming to land a vehicle on the moon in 2029.

[...] Roughly the size of two mini buses, the Toyota-JAXA lunar rover will be six meters long and have 13 square meters of habitable space.

The rover will use solar arrays and fuel cells to generate and store power. It will land on the moon before a human expedition arrives, and drive to meet them. The project calls for the rover to be used in four other exploration areas, so it will have to move around on its own to meet arriving astronauts.

Also at Engadget.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday March 14, @08:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the space-rangers dept.

Shanahan officially establishes the Space Development Agency

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Tuesday officially established the Space Development Agency as a separate organization within the Department of Defense that will be led by Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin.

"A national security space architecture that provides the persistent, resilient, global, low-latency surveillance needed to deter or, if deterrence fails, defeat adversary action is a prerequisite to maintaining our long term competitive advantage," Shanahan wrote in a March 12 memo obtained by SpaceNews.

"We cannot achieve these goals and we cannot match the pace our adversaries are setting if we remain bound by legacy methods and culture. Therefore, effective immediately, I establish the Space Development Agency as a separate defense agency," the memo said, noting that the agency is being created under existing legal authorities and will be under the "direction and control of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering."

[...] It is likely that resources from other agencies or military departments will transition to the SDA in the future. The undersecretary for research and engineering will work with the Pentagon comptroller to "determine any realignment of FY19 and FY20 resources." The SDA will transfer to the U.S. Space Force once approved by Congress. The Pentagon requested $149.8 million for the new space agency in its budget for fiscal year 2020.

See also: Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin: Space Development Agency to bring new capabilities that don't exist today

Previously: U.S. Vice President Pence Details Plan to Establish a Space Force by 2020

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday March 14, @07:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the ouch dept.

Submitted via IRC for chromas

For Pi Day, Calculate Pi Yourself Using Two Colliding Balls

This is at least my ninth year of writing about Pi Day—here is my post from 2010. Of course it's called Pi Day because the date, 3/14, is similar to the first three digits of pi (3.1415 …). At this point I've built up a whole library of fun things in honor of Pi Day.

Here is a new one. You can calculate the digits of pi using elastic collisions between two objects of different masses and a wall.

[...] There are two balls, A and B. Ball A has a larger mass and is initially moving. It collides with ball B such that ball B speeds up and ball A slows down just a little bit (this is a perfectly elastic collision). After this, ball B starts moving toward the wall and eventually bounces off it back toward ball A for another collision. This continues until ball A is moving away from the wall instead of toward it, and there are no longer any collisions.

Now for the pi part. If you know that the mass of ball A is 100 times greater than that of ball B, there will be 31 collisions. If the ratio of masses is 10,000 to 1, there will be 314 collisions. Yes, that is the first 3 digits of pi. If you had a mass ratio of 1 million to 1, you would get 3,141 collisions. (Remember the first few digits of pi are 3.1415 …) In general, if you want "d" digits of pi, then you need mass A divided by mass B to be 100 raised to the d-1 power.

This is not a very efficient method for calculating the digits of pi, but it seems to work. Here is a great video from 3Brown1Blue that explains this situation. [YouTube link] Also, here is an older video from Numberphile that also goes over this problem.

[What I want to know is which one is better: apple, raspberry, or apricot? --ed.]

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday March 14, @05:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the 1984-all-over-again dept.

Citizen, the real-time crime alerting app, is growing in big cities

At 8:07 p.m. on Monday evening in San Francisco, a man was spotted shooting a gun at streetlights. Twenty minutes later, an outdoor trash fire broke out in another part of the city. A few miles south, a KFC employee allegedly assaulted a co-worker with a chair, and then 20 bikers were reportedly involved in a brawl.

It's a typical hour in the San Francisco Bay Area as seen through Citizen, the real-time crime and fire alerting app that uses a smartphone's location to share updates about incidents happening nearby. Its alerts ping mobile devices daily in New York City, San Francisco, Baltimore and starting Tuesday, Los Angeles.

Using a combination of human employees and technology, Citizen scans hundreds of public-safety radio bands 24-hours a day in the major cities where it's deployed, sometimes by playing audio at three times the speed. It filters out what it deems non-essential and sends the information as short, factual alerts to everyone within a quarter mile of the incident. The app updates with a list of details as they roll in and lets people nearby take live video or comment with information.

Some local governments and police departments have their own alerting apps, and sites like Nextdoor are filled with user reports of incidents. But what makes Citizen different are its sources, the volume and speed of its text updates. It's closer in spirit to police scanner apps.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday March 14, @04:06PM   Printer-friendly
from the competition++ dept.

Refresh Done Right? Intel Comet Lake Packs Up to 10 Cores

[coreboot], an open source project to replace the BIOS and UEFI, has some vital information on Comet Lakes. According to the Github page, Comet Lake-U (CML-U) processors, which are primarily aimed at laptops, carry up to six cores, while the Comet Lake-H (CFL-H) and Comet Lake-S (CMT-S) chips feature up to 10 cores.

Rumors on the street are that AMD's forthcoming Ryzen 3000-series desktop processors could purportedly pack a whopping 16 cores on a single chip. During AMD's presentation at the CES 2019 tech show in January, an eight-core, 16-thread Ryzen 3000-series chip was trading blows with Intel's Core i9-9900K, which could have pressured the Santa Clara chipmaker to cranking Comet Lake's core count to 10 cores for safe measure.

Intel is expected to launch its Comet Lake processors around the middle of the year. It's possible Intel could announce the chips at Computex 2019, which starts May 28.

Also at PCGamesN.

Related: AMD Announces Radeon VII GPU, Teases Third-Generation Ryzen CPU

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday March 14, @02:30PM   Printer-friendly
from the certs-are-not-just-a-breath-mint dept.

With many thanks to The Mighty Buzzard riding shotgun and helping me through some misunderstandings, I updated the certificates (certs) for all of SoylentNews' domains. Our certs are now good through: Wednesday, June 12, 2019.

Everything seemed to go as expected. If you experience any issues, please mention them here, or pop onto our IRC channel using your favorite client or the web interface and speak up in the #dev or #Soylent channel.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday March 14, @01:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the threw-the-facebook-out-with-the-vax-water dept.

Facebook cracks down on vaccine misinformation

In a blog post, the Menlo Park, Calif. company said it will reject any ads containing misinformation about vaccines, remove any targeted advertising options like 'vaccine controversies,' and will no longer show or recommend content containing this type of misinformation on Instagram Explore or hashtag pages."

Submitted via IRC for FatPhil

Combatting Vaccine Misinformation

We are working to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook by reducing its distribution and providing people with authoritative information on the topic.

[...] Leading global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes. If these vaccine hoaxes appear on Facebook, we will take action against them.

For example, if a group or Page admin posts this vaccine misinformation, we will exclude the entire group or Page from recommendations, reduce these groups and Pages’ distribution in News Feed and Search, and reject ads with this misinformation.

We also believe in providing people with additional context so they can decide whether to read, share, or engage in conversations about information they see on Facebook. We are exploring ways to give people more accurate information from expert organizations about vaccines at the top of results for related searches, on Pages discussing the topic, and on invitations to join groups about the topic. We will have an update on this soon.

We are fully committed to the safety of our community and will continue to expand on this work.

Original Submission 0; Original Submission 1

posted by chromas on Thursday March 14, @12:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the downtime-as-a-public-service dept.

Facebook appears to be down.

A link for this submission? Really? But it is down, as in not working. Error 5 - something went wrong.

[chromas adds] From VOA:

Instagram is back up after suffering a partial outage for more than several hours, the photo-sharing social network platform said in a tweet, but its parent Facebook Inc.'s app still seemed to be down for some users around the globe.

Certain users had trouble in accessing widely used Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook apps earlier Wednesday, in one of the longest outages faced by the company in the recent past.

[...] A Facebook spokesman confirmed the partial outage, but did not provide an update. The social networking site had issues for more than 12 hours, according to its developer's page.

Facebook took to Twitter to inform users that it was working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and confirmed that the matter was not related to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday March 14, @10:40AM   Printer-friendly
from the things-are-looking-up dept.

Chinese TV Broadcasting Satellite Launched on 300th Long March Rocket:

A Chinese television broadcasting satellite lifted off Saturday aboard a Long March 3B booster, the 300th orbital launch by the country's Long March rocket family since 1970.

The Long March 3B rocket climbed away from the Xichang space center at 1628 GMT (11:28 a.m. EST) Saturday, and headed east from the inland spaceport located in a hilly region of southwestern China's Sichuan province. Liftoff occurred at 12:28 a.m. Beijing time Sunday.

The rocket jettisoned four hydrazine-fueled boosters and its core stage less around two-and-a-half minutes into the mission, followed by engine firings by the Long March 3B's second stage and a cryogenic hydrogen-fueled third stage. Around a half-hour after liftoff, the Long March 3B deployed the Chinasat 6C, or Zhongxing 6C, communications satellite in an elliptical geostationary transfer orbit.

Chinese officials declared the launch a success, and publicly-available tracking data provided by the U.S. military indicated the Chinasat 6C spacecraft was released in an orbit ranging in altitude between 120 miles (200 kilometers) and roughly 25,500 miles (41,000 kilometers), with an inclination of 24.6 degrees to the equator.

The Chinasat 6C satellite, based on the DFH-4 spacecraft design built by the China Academy of Space Technology, will use its own propulsion system to maneuver into a circular geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator, entering service at a position at 130 degrees east longitude to provide television broadcast services for China Satcom.

The launch of Chinasat 6C marked the 300th orbital flight by a member of the Long March rocket family, which debuted April 24, 1970, when a Long March 1 rocket carried China's first satellite into space. China has upgraded the Long March series, originally based on long-range missile technology, with new engines, strap-on boosters, and upper stages over the last five decades.

I knew that China has a productive space program, but had no idea they were up to 300 launches!

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday March 14, @09:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the Snnnnzzzzzz dept.

Sleep Tight! Researchers Identify the Beneficial Role of Sleep:

Why do animals sleep? Why do humans "waste" a third time of their lives sleeping? Throughout evolution sleep has remained universal and essential to all organisms with a nervous system, including invertebrates such as flies, worms, and even jellyfish. But the reason why animals sleep -- despite the continuous threat of predators -- still remains a mystery, and is considered among the biggest unanswered questions in life sciences.

In a new study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, researchers at Bar-Ilan University in Israel reveal a novel and unexpected function of sleep that they believe could explain how sleep and sleep disturbances affect brain performance, aging and various brain disorders.

Using 3D time-lapse imaging techniques in live zebrafish, the researchers were able to define sleep in a single chromosome resolution and show, for the first time, that single neurons require sleep in order to perform nuclear maintenance.

DNA damage can be caused by many processes including radiation, oxidative stress, and even neuronal activity. DNA repair systems within each cell correct this damage. The current work shows that during wakefulness, when chromosome dynamics are low, DNA damage consistently accumulates and can reach unsafe levels.

The role of sleep is to increase chromosome dynamics, and normalize the levels of DNA damage in each single neuron. Apparently, this DNA maintenance process is not efficient enough during the online wakefulness period and requires an offline sleep period with reduced input to the brain in order to occur. "It's like potholes in the road," says Prof. Lior Appelbaum, of Bar-Ilan University's Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences and Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, who led the study. "Roads accumulate wear and tear, especially during daytime rush hours, and it is most convenient and efficient to fix them at night, when there is light traffic."

Journal Reference:
D. Zada, I. Bronshtein, T. Lerer-Goldshtein, Y. Garini, L. Appelbaum. Sleep increases chromosome dynamics to enable reduction of accumulating DNA damage in single neurons. Nature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08806-w

I think now would be a good time to take a nap.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday March 14, @07:43AM   Printer-friendly
from the pilots-were-shock[wave]-jocks? dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984

NASA captures unprecedented images of supersonic shockwaves

When an aircraft crosses that threshold—around 1,225 kilometers (760 miles) per hour at sea level—it produces waves from the pressure it puts on the air around it, which merge to cause the ear-splitting sound.

In an intricate maneuver by "rock star" pilots at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, two supersonic T-38 jets flew just 30 feet (nine meters) apart below another plane waiting to photograph them with an advanced, high-speed camera, the agency said.

The rendezvous—at an altitude of around 30,000 feet—yielded mesmerizing images of the shockwaves emanating from both planes.

With one jet flying just behind the other, "the shocks are going to be shaped differently", said Neal Smith of AerospaceComputing Inc, an engineering firm that works with NASA, in a post on the agency's website.

"This data is really going to help us advance our understanding of how these shocks interact."

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday March 14, @06:02AM   Printer-friendly

U.S. Grounds Boeing Planes, After Days of Pressure

After days of mounting pressure, the United States grounded Boeing's 737 Max aircraft on Wednesday, reversing an earlier decision in which American regulators said the planes could keep flying after a deadly crash in Ethiopia.

The decision, announced by President Trump, followed determinations by safety regulators in some 42 countries to ban flights by the jets, which are now grounded worldwide. Pilots, flight attendants, consumers and politicians from both major parties had been agitating for the planes to be grounded in the United States. Despite the clamor, the Federal Aviation Administration had been resolute, saying on Tuesday that it had seen "no systemic performance issues" that would prompt it to halt flights of the jet.

That changed Wednesday when, in relatively quick succession, Canadian and American aviation authorities said they were grounding the planes after newly available satellite-tracking data suggested similarities between Sunday's crash in Ethiopia and one involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 in Indonesia in October.

Previously: Second 737 MAX8 Airplane Crash Reinforces Speculation on Flying System Problems

Related: Boeing 737 MAX 8 Could Enable $69 Trans-Atlantic Flights

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday March 14, @04:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the the-whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts dept.

What if someone discovered that the specifications in a font file could be Turing complete? What if that person realized that a font could, therefore, perform computations. How about addition?

Proving the Turing Completeness of Fonts:

The goal is:

I wanted to try to implement addition. The input glyph stream would be of the form "=1234+5678=" and the shaping process would turn that string into "6912".

The sheer number of details precludes a simple summary. Mix a little recursion with a strong helping of remapping to implement some grammar productions and voila! The font file is available on Google drive.

What "creative" [mis]applications of this technology can you think of? Define a font file that has a 1:1 mapping of all ASCII characters... except replace all instances of "123" with "456". How could you recognize this had happened to you?

Consider: embedding it in a web page or a PDF document. Making it a new (default) printer font.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday March 14, @03:16AM   Printer-friendly
from the talk-about-unwanted-houzz-guests dept.

The housing design site suffered a breach in 2018 that exposed, for 49 million users:

Certain publicly visible information from a user's Houzz profile only if the user made this information publicly available (e.g., first name, last name, city, state, country, profile description)
Certain internal identifiers and fields that have no discernible meaning to anyone outside of Houzz (e.g. country of site used, whether a user has a profile image)
Certain internal account information (e.g., email address, user ID, prior Houzz usernames, one-way encrypted passwords salted uniquely per user, IP address, and city and ZIP code inferred from IP address) and certain publicly available account information (e.g., current Houzz username and, if a user logs into Houzz through Facebook, the user's public Facebook ID)

The company learned of the breach in December and notified users in February.

User passwords were reset at that time and the company published an FAQ on their website.

Data on this was has now been provided to that site we all love to check, HaveIBeenPwned

As of this submission - The breach is listed on HaveiBeenPwned's RSS feed here but the breaches page of pwned websites does not yet list it.

[Are there any Soylentils who have NOT had private information leaked/breached? From a different perspective, how many times has your data been pwned? What, if anything did/could you do about it? -Ed.]

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday March 14, @01:37AM   Printer-friendly
from the 3rd-time-lucky? dept.

Theresa May's EU withdrawal deal has been rejected by MPs[*] by an overwhelming majority for a second time, with just 17 days to go to Brexit.

MPs voted down the prime minister's deal by 149 - a smaller margin than when they rejected it in January.

Mrs May said MPs will now get a vote on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal and, if that fails, on whether Brexit should be delayed.

She said Tory MPs will get a free vote on a no-deal Brexit.

That means they can vote with their conscience rather than following the orders of party managers - an unusual move for a vote on a major policy, with Labour saying it showed she had "given up any pretence of leading the country".

The PM had made a last minute plea to MPs to back her deal after she had secured legal assurances on the Irish backstop from the EU.

But although she managed to convince about 40 Tory MPs to change their mind, it was not nearly enough to overturn the historic 230 vote defeat she suffered in January, throwing her Brexit strategy into fresh disarray.

[*] MP: Member of Parliament; PM: Prime Minister

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday March 14, @12:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the how-many-programmers-does-it-take-to-change-a-light-bulb? dept.

A report from Business Insider claims that Google has axed "dozens" of employees from its laptop and tablet division. BI's sources describe the move as causing "roadmap cutbacks" and that Google will likely "pare down the portfolio" in the future.

[...] Google's Hardware division is run by Rick Osterloh and is expected to launch a game streaming console later this month. The division is responsible for the Pixel phones, Google Home speakers, the Chromecast, Google Wi-Fi, and lately, the Nest smart home division.

Why is Google having a hard time cracking the hardware market?

Original Submission