Slash Boxes

SoylentNews is people

Log In

Log In

Create Account  |  Retrieve Password

Site News

Join our Folding@Home team:
Main F@H site
Our team page

Funding Goal
For 6-month period:
2020-01-01 to 2020-06-30
(All amounts are estimated)
Base Goal:


Covers transactions:
2020-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2020-02-24 18:18:28 UTC
(SPIDs: [1207..1227])
Last Update:
2020-02-25 13:11:03 UTC

Support us: Subscribe Here
and buy SoylentNews Swag

We always have a place for talented people, visit the Get Involved section on the wiki to see how you can make SoylentNews better.

How do you handle ads on the internet?

  • Adblock
  • Adblock Plus
  • uBlock Origin
  • hosts file or DNS block
  • look at every ad
  • ignore them
  • Other (specify in comments)

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:99 | Votes:263

posted by martyb on Thursday April 18 2019, @10:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the can't-beat-it dept.

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”

—Mary Heaton Vorse, circa 1911

Ask any professional writer for the secret of their success, and there’s a good chance they’ll respond with some variation of the above advice. It was passed down to me by my Aunt Nene, updated for the contemporary generation as “the secret of writing is ass in chair.”

Ass-in-chair produces results, as a method. But it can weaken and destroy your body in practice, which is exactly what happened to your humble narrator. I spent 10 to 16 hours a day with my ass in a chair, writing — or often trying and failing to write — comic books and video games from 2014 through 2016. Every day I woke up, put my ass in the chair, worked in my chair, ate in my chair and, for all intents and purposes, lived in my chair.

I gained about 20 pounds in those two years, and I wasn’t happy with myself. I tried changing my eating habits, but dieting alone wouldn’t take the fat off. I had to exercise.

The trouble was that the more I exercised, the more pain I felt in my lower back, which zapped me with searing bolts of lightning whenever I jumped, ran, climbed, or swam. I needed to be more active, but I was capable of doing less and less. Even sitting became painful, which caused me to order a standing desk and finally see a doctor, but it was too late.

[...]It was January 2017. I was alone at home, standing in my kitchen, waiting for a tea kettle to boil, when I coughed. A fiery lightning bolt pierced my lower back. The pain shot down through my toes and swept my legs out from under me. Everything flashed white. Then I found myself on the floor, immobile and in worse pain than I’ve ever known.

An MRI confirmed the culprits: two herniated discs in my lumbar spine. I couldn’t sit, drive, or do much of anything comfortably for months. I had no paid time off as a freelancer, so my only option was to write while standing up. It felt unnatural at first, but I adapted.

Long-term physical therapy along with a better diet helped up to a point and then plateaued.

I needed full-body, high-intensity cardio activity that would not aggravate my back. I found it by accident, while experimenting with the Oculus Rift.

[...]I played for hours my first night, sampling a bunch of great games that I still recommend today: Lone Echo, Robo Recall,Space Pirate Trainer, and The Climb, a rock-climbing game which lets anyone indulge their inner Alex Honnold and free solo their way up some intimidating mountains.

My back, shoulders, legs, and arms all became sore the next day. Not injured sore, but post-workout recovery sore. Maybe I hadn’t fixed a real space station, fought an army of robots, or scaled Siberian glaciers, but my body seemed to think it was real enough. This more than playing games. It was rehab.

He played a variety of games but the one standout was Beat Saber.

You play while standing on a platform in a neon-lit industrial void. There’s a red plasma-saber in your left hand, and a blue plasma-saber in your right. Beats fly toward you in red and blue boxes as your choice of music plays. You have to slice each box in half, while matching your saber colors to the colors of the beats.

I used short, tight motions to play at first, until I found that a perfect 50/50 slice and a 150-degree arc on each swing would maximize my score. The beats came at me so quickly in later levels that I had to master complex swing patterns, two-handed slashes, crossovers, and drumlike trill strokes. Energy walls sometimes flew at me with the beats, forcing me to squat and dodge while swinging my sabers.

Beat Saber became the new centerpiece of my daily routine. I played it for over an hour on my best days, swinging through songs again and again to master them as the sweat fell on my yoga mat. I found myself catching a runner’s high about 40 to 50 minutes into most sessions, causing the whole world to melt away as the Force flowed through my body, guiding my sabers to their beats. No aches, no pains, and no strains. Just pure, kinetic flow.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday April 18 2019, @09:07PM   Printer-friendly
from the What-will-happen-to-Sprint? dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984

Mobile carriers face skeptical regulators in attempt to obtain merger approval.

T-Mobile US and Sprint are facing potential rejection of their proposed merger at the US Department of Justice.

DOJ [(US Department of Justice)] staffers "have told T-Mobile US and Sprint that their planned merger is unlikely to be approved as currently structured," The Wall Street Journal reported today, citing people familiar with the matter.

"In a meeting earlier this month, Justice Department staff members laid out their concerns with the all-stock deal and questioned the companies' arguments that the combination would produce important efficiencies for the merged firm," the Journal wrote.

[...] T-Mobile CEO John Legere denied the Journal report, writing on Twitter that "[t]he premise of this story... is simply untrue. Out of respect for the process, we have no further comment." Sprint Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure also claimed that the "article is not accurate," adding that Sprint "continue[s] to have discussions with regulators about our proposed merger."

[...] The Justice Department's antitrust division is reviewing the merger and could file a lawsuit in federal court in an attempt to block the deal. Success isn't guaranteed, a fact the DOJ was reminded of when a US District Court judge allowed AT&T to buy Time Warner despite DOJ opposition.

The DOJ could also approve the merger with conditions, but that would require agreement with T-Mobile and Sprint on what those conditions would be.

[...] T-Mobile has spent at least $195,000 at President Trump's hotel in Washington, DC while lobbying for Trump administration approval of the merger.

[...] The T-Mobile/Sprint deal would reduce the number of nationwide mobile carriers from four to three, limiting customer choice across the United States. T-Mobile and Sprint are smaller players in a market led by Verizon and AT&T, but T-Mobile has surged in recent years by offering more customer-friendly deals than the two biggest carriers.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday April 18 2019, @07:30PM   Printer-friendly
from the imagine-Alvin,-Theodore,-and-Simon-as-tenors dept.

Shortages of liquid helium are beginning to cause anxiety for researchers, as the third major supply constraint since 2006 is affecting everyone from medical laboratories to party supply stores due to higher prices and rationing from vendors. Despite helium being the second most abundant element in the universe, there are only 14 liquid helium production facilities in the world--with around 75% of that consumed worldwide produced in Ras Laffan Industrial City in Qatar, an ExxonMobil facility in Wyoming, and facilities owned by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), according to GasWorld.

With the privatization of the helium market--a process that started in 1996--coming to fruition in 2020, private industry has played a larger role in ensuring helium supply in the US.

With the ExxonMobil facility partially shutting down for maintenance this summer, the helium market is going to be squeezed. Quantum computers use a different isotope of helium (Helium-3), the distribution of which is still controlled by the government, which should head off any issues.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday April 18 2019, @06:48PM   Printer-friendly
from the gotcha! dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Elusive molecule, first in Universe, detected in space

In the beginning, more than 13 billion years ago, the Universe was an undifferentiated soup of three simple, single-atom elements. Stars would not form for another 100 million years. But within 100,000 years of the Big Bang, the very first molecule emerged, an improbable marriage of helium and hydrogen known as a helium hydride ion, or HeH+.

"It was the beginning of chemistry," said David Neufeld, a professor at John Hopkins University and co-author of a study published Wednesday detailing how—after a multi-decade search—scientists finally detected the elusive molecule in space. "The formation of HeH+ was the first step on a path of increasing complexity in the Universe," as momentous a shift as the one from single-cell to multicellular life on Earth, he told AFP.

Theoretical models had long since convinced astrophysicists that HeH+ came first, followed—in a precise order—by a parade of other increasingly complex and heavy molecules. HeH+ had also been studied in the laboratory, as early as 1925. But detected HeH+ in its natural habitat had remained beyond their grasp.

"The lack of definitive evidence of its very existence in interstellar space has been a dilemma for astronomy for a long time," said lead author Rolf Gusten, a scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy in Bonn. Already in the 1970s, models suggested that HeH+ should exist in significant quantities in the glowing gases ejected by dying Sun-like stars, which created conditions similar to those found in the early Universe.

The problem was that the electromagnetic waves given off by the molecule were in a range—far-infrared—cancelled out by Earth's atmosphere, and thus undetectable from the ground. So NASA and the German Aerospace Center joined forces to create an airborne observatory with three main components: a massive 2.7-metre telescope, an infrared spectrometer, and a Boeing 747—with a window-like square cut away from it fuselage—big enough to carry them.

From a cruising altitude of nearly 14,000 metres (45,000 feet), the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, avoided 85 percent of the atmospheric "noise" of ground-based telescopes. Data from a series of three flights in May 2016 contained the molecular evidence scientists had long sought, interlaced in the planetary nebula NGC 7027 some 3,000 light years away.

"The discovery of HeH+ is a dramatic and beautiful demonstration of Nature's tendency to form molecules," said Neufeld.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday April 18 2019, @05:53PM   Printer-friendly
from the porn-just-wants-to-be-freeeee! dept.

Submitted via IRC for chromas

Porn block: UK to require age checks for adult content as of July 15

Porn sites serving UK users will soon be required to confirm the age of visitors before letting them access content, the British government said Wednesday. As of July 15, commercial providers of pornography will have to ensure that only those over the age of 18 are able to access adult content, to protect minors.

It'll be up to individual sites and services to choose how they carry out verification. Options include face-to-face verification in stores, which would let people buy a so-called "porn pass," or the use of a service like Mindgeek's AgeID system, which lets people upload scans of their passports or driving licenses to be verified by a third party.

Age checks were originally supposed to come into effect this spring as part of the Digital Economy Act 2017, but they were delayed while the government worked out the details of the new rules. The British Board of Film Classification will be in charge of ensuring that porn sites comply with the law. Those that fail to do so could be blocked.

"Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online," Margot James, UK minister for digital, said in a statement. "The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we've taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content."

Opponents of the new rules pointed out that they won't cover smaller sites or social networks, and can be circumvented by the use of VPNs. Others fear the systems used to verify age will be open to exploitation, and could result in people's privacy being violated and their browsing histories being circulated beyond their control.

"Having some age verification that is good and other systems that are bad is unfair and a scammer's paradise -- of the government's own making," Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, said in a statement. "Data leaks could be disastrous. And they will be the government's own fault. The government needs to shape up and legislate for privacy before their own policy results in people being outed, careers destroyed or suicides being provoked."

Also at ZDNet

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday April 18 2019, @04:15PM   Printer-friendly

Read the Mueller report

Pardon the brevity; submitted via my mobile phone.

[Update (20190418_203255 UTC) --martyb]

I was listening to the radio while running an errand when I heard the Mueller Report had been released. The above link was the first that came up when I did a search. I quickly posted the story using my mobile phone to get it to the community as quickly as possible. Here are additional sources as well as the MD5SUM and resultant file sizes from downloading each. The CNN file has a different size from the others. A quick inspection suggests that it contains searchable text (presumably through OCR (Optical Character Recognition) processing) whereas the others contain images of each of the pages in the report.

CNN (searchable): provided a link to:
MD5: 614529b6979e7ec5323af8c2a286afdd
Size: 140,352,112 bytes

MD5: ce5859e9b5d8b76aedd18dc296dcc1e6
Size: 145,509,756 bytes

NPR: provided a link to:
MD5: ce5859e9b5d8b76aedd18dc296dcc1e6
Size: 145,509,756 bytes

PBS: provided a link to:
MD5: ce5859e9b5d8b76aedd18dc296dcc1e6
Size: 145,509,756 bytes

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday April 18 2019, @02:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the coasting-through-the-remnants-of-long-dead-stars dept.

The human race is now two for two with Voyager 2 being the second human made spacecraft to enter interstellar space.

The probe, which blasted into space 41 years ago, exited the outer boundary of the sun's heliosphere on Nov. 5, NASA scientists announced Monday at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C. It is now more than 11 billion miles away from Earth.

The edge of the heliosphere is a pressure front of solar winds plasma originating from the sun, and is considered the boundary between stellar and interstellar space.

Because the heliopause marks the boundary between matter originating from the Sun and matter originating from the rest of the galaxy, spacecraft such as the two Voyagers, which have departed the heliosphere, can be said to have reached interstellar space.

Voyager 1 reached interstellar space in late August of 2012. Voyager 2, which was launched 16 days after it, has taken significantly longer to get there. This is because while both Voyagers flew past Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 1 immediately set out for the stars while Voyager 2 did flybys of Uranus and Neptune first.

Fortunately Voyager 2's plasma science instrument remains functioning (the one on Voyager 1 broke in the 1980s) so additional data was captured on this transition.

They still have a very long way to go before they leave the solar system. NASA estimates it could take 30,000 years for Voyager 2 to fly all the way through the Oort Cloud, a spherical shell of icy objects that scientists believe is a source of many comets. Only then will the solar system be in Voyager 2's rearview mirror.

They won't realize it however. Power on the two spacecraft will be exhausted in another 5-10 years at which point they will become as dark and cold as last week's coffee.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday April 18 2019, @01:20PM   Printer-friendly

Intel Quits 5G Modem Business Hours after Apple Settles with Qualcomm:

Intel says it is canceling a line of smartphone 5G chips that had been slated for 2020 launches. The announcement comes on the same day Apple announced a wide-ranging settlement with Qualcomm over patent issues.

Qualcomm has long been a dominant player in the wireless chip business for smartphones. Apple worries about becoming too dependent on a single supplier. So in recent years, Apple has encouraged Intel to expand its wireless chip offerings and offered Intel a significant share of its business for 4G chips in the iPhone.

Then last year, as Apple's legal battle with Qualcomm heated up, Intel became Apple's sole supplier for 4G wireless chips in the iPhone. Intel additionally was working to develop 5G chips for Apple to use in future versions of the iPhone. But recent reports have indicated that Intel was "missing deadlines" for the wireless chip that was slated to go into the 2020 model of the iPhone.

[...] If Intel had failed to provide Apple with 5G chips in a timely manner, that would have put Apple in an untenable position. The iPhone's competitors would be able to offer 5G capabilities using Qualcomm chips, while Qualcomm could have denied Apple access to 5G chips as long as the patent battle continued.

[...] Still, it's not clear whether Apple's settlement with Qualcomm forced Intel to leave the 5G market or whether Intel's impending exit from the 5G market forced Apple to settle with Qualcomm. It's likely that the causation ran a bit in both directions.

There are other handset makers as well as other kinds of devices that would use 5G so I would be surprised if Intel gave up entirely on the market.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Thursday April 18 2019, @12:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the kip dept.

Sleep Myths 'Damaging Your Health':

Widely held myths about sleep are damaging our health and our mood, as well as shortening our lives, say researchers.

A team at New York University trawled the internet to find the most common claims about a good night's kip[*].

Then, in a study published in the journal Sleep Health, they matched the claims to the best scientific evidence.

They hope that dispelling sleep myths will improve people's physical and mental health and well-being.

So, how many are you guilty of?

Myth 1 - You can cope on less than five hours' sleep
[...]Myth 2 - Alcohol before bed boosts your sleep
[...]Myth 3 - Watching TV in bed helps you relax
[...]Myth 4 - If you're struggling to sleep, stay in bed
[...]Myth 5 - Hitting the snooze button
[...]Myth 6 - Snoring is always harmless

Another myth is that one should have 7-8 hours of continuous sleep. There is ample evidence that this is a relatively recent phenomenon. Consider embracing a bi-phasic or two-sleep schedule, instead.

I was at first concerned when I found myself waking after 3, 4 or even 5 hours sleep -- I became worried that I might be trending into insomnia. Instead, knowing this is a "thing", I just accept it, now. I get up for an hour or so. Use the bathroom. Maybe do some light reading (SoylentNews FTW!). And, after an hour or so, am ready to go back to bed for the rest of my night's sleep. Naps can be helpful, too.

How well do you sleep?

*kip: chiefly British : sleep, nap

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday April 18 2019, @10:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the argument-for-the-sake-of-argument dept.

To Swedish blogger John Nerst, online flame wars reveal a fundamental shift in how people debate public issues. Nerst and a nascent movement of other commentators online believe that the dynamics of today's debates—especially the misunderstandings and bad-faith arguments that lead to the online flame wars—deserve to be studied on their own terms. "More and less sophisticated arguments and argumenters are mixed and with plenty of idea exchange between them," Nerst explained in an email. "Add anonymity, and knowing people's intentions becomes harder, knowing what they mean becomes harder." Treating other people's views with charity becomes harder, too, he said.

Inspired by this rapid disruption to the way disagreement used to work, Nerst, who describes himself as a "thirty-something sociotechnical systems engineer with math, philosophy, history, computer science, economics, law, psychology, geography and social science under a shapeless academic belt," first laid out what he calls "erisology," or the study of disagreement itself. Here's how he defines it:

Erisology is the study of disagreement, specifically the study of unsuccessful disagreement. An unsuccessful disagreement is an exchange where people are no closer in understanding at the end than they were at the beginning, meaning the exchange has been mostly about talking past each other and/or hurling insults. A really unsuccessful one is where people actually push each other apart, and this seems disturbingly common.

[...] political scientists who study disagreement, unsurprisingly, disagree. Though Nerst has claimed that "no one needs to be convinced" of the needlessly adversarial quality of online discourse, Syracuse University political scientist Emily Thorson isn't buying it. "I actually do need to be convinced about this," she said in an email, "or at least about the larger implication that 'uncivil online discourse' is a problem so critical that we need to invent a new discipline to solve it. I'd argue that much of the dysfunction we see in online interactions is just a symptom of much larger and older social problems, including but not limited to racism and misogyny.

So, old political scientists think they've already identified the root cause of "bad behavior" and that online argument isn't a significant factor, or at least that's the argument they put forth in their e-mail vs the younger blogger... Dismissive, much ;-)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday April 18 2019, @08:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the What-is-best-in-LIF?-To-crush-your-cancer,-see-it-driven-before-you.... dept.

SALK Institute researchers have discovered a potential therapeutic target for pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is often far advanced by the time it is discovered since it is often symptomless until after spreading throughout the body.

Additionally, tumor cells are encased in a "protective shield," a microenvironment conferring resistance to many cancer treatment drugs.

Silent, evasive, and very deadly.

pancreatic stellate cells -- resident cells typically dormant in normal tissue -- become activated and secrete proteins to form a shell around the tumor in an attempt to wall off and contain it. The activated stellate cells also secrete a signaling protein called LIF, which conveys stimulatory signals to tumor cells to drive pancreatic cancer development and progression. Results also suggest LIF may be a useful biomarker to help diagnose pancreatic cancer more quickly and efficiently.

Detection is a good step, but they didn't stop there

After pinpointing LIF as the critical communicator, the researchers wanted to better understand the function of LIF during pancreatic cancer progression to evaluate the protein as a potential therapeutic target. By observing the effects on tumor growth of blocking or destroying LIF (both render the protein nonfunctional) in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer, the researchers could examine how LIF affects tumor progression and response to treatment. Both techniques independently showed that without functional LIF signaling, tumor progression slowed down and responses to chemotherapeutic drugs used in treating human cancer (such as gemcitabine) were improved.

Early days as per usual, but it is about time some progress was made on this particular scourge. Earlier detection and improved responsiveness to treatment could move the needle towards survival.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday April 18 2019, @07:17AM   Printer-friendly
from the not-in-your-backyard-market dept.

Amazon is closing the local marketplace in China, though the Chinese will still be able to buy goods from Amazon marketplaces outside of China. Inc plans to close its domestic marketplace business in China by mid-July, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday, focusing efforts on its more lucrative businesses selling overseas goods and cloud services in the world's most populous nation.

Shoppers in China will no longer be able to buy goods from third-party merchants in the country, but they still will be able to order from the United States, United Kingdom, Denmark and Japan via Amazon's global store. Amazon expects to close fulfillment centers and wind down its support for domestic-selling merchants in China in the next 90 days, one of the people said.

[...] Amazon is still expanding aggressively in other countries, notably India, where it is contending with local player Flipkart to dominate that market. China, on the other hand, has appeared to factor less and less in the global aspirations of top U.S. tech firms Amazon, Netflix Inc, Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google, Pachter said.

Customers of Amazon in China will still be able to purchase its Kindle e-readers and online content, according to sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud unit that sells data storage and computing power to enterprises, will remain as well.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday April 18 2019, @05:40AM   Printer-friendly

Long-Underfunded Lyme Disease Research Gets an Injection of Money--and Ideas:

Months after a U.S. Congress–mandated working group sounded the alarm about tickborne illnesses and urged more federal action and money, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is readying a strategic plan for these diseases. Last week it also, serendipitously, issued a rare solicitation for prevention proposals in tickborne diseases. The new pot of money, $6 million in 2020, represents a significant boost; NIH spent $23 million last year on Lyme disease, by far the most common tickborne illness, within $56 million devoted to tickborne diseases overall.

"I'm happy for anything" new going toward research, says John Aucott, director of the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center in Baltimore, Maryland, who chaired the group that wrote the 2018 report. Strategies that may garner support include vaccines that target multiple pathogens carried by ticks or that kill the ticks themselves.

Aucott's panel included academic and government scientists as well as patient advocates; it formed as a result of the 2016 21st Century Cures Act. The group's report described tickborne diseases as a "serious and growing threat." About 30,000 confirmed Lyme disease cases were reported last year to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but the agency believes the real number to be more than 300,000. Cases of Lyme disease have roughly tripled since the 1990s as ticks carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative bacterium, have spread in response to climate change, neighborhoods encroaching on animal habitats, and other ecologic shifts.

The Lyme disease field has for years been mired in controversy—researchers receive hate mail from angry and desperate patients, and scientific disputes can be vitriolic. That may have left government agencies reluctant to wade too deep into the fray. "I think the discussion is starting to shift," says Monica Embers, a microbiologist at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She and others still hope for additional money from NIH and CDC for diagnostics and treatment research. CDC's budget for Lyme disease grew this year from $10.7 million to $12 million—the first increase in 5 years, albeit a modest one. "Preventing infection is going to go a long way if we can do it," Embers says.

Symptoms of Lyme disease vary but can include a rash at the site of the tick bite, fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. After a course of antibiotics, 10% to 20% of those infected remain sick, and the question is why: Some scientists believe the bacterium can persist in the body, but others dismiss the idea. This dispute, combined with patients whom doctors often can't help, has created a fractious field unlike almost any other.

Wikipedia entry for Borrelia burgdorferi.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday April 18 2019, @04:20AM   Printer-friendly
from the harder-better-faster-stronger...sharper? dept.

Submitted via IRC for AzumaHazuki

HD emulation mod makes "Mode 7" SNES games look like new

Gamers of a certain age probably remember being wowed by the quick, smooth scaling and rotation effects of the Super Nintendo's much-ballyhooed "Mode 7" graphics. Looking back, though, those gamers might also notice how chunky and pixelated those background transformations could end up looking, especially when viewed on today's high-end screens.

Emulation to the rescue. A modder going by the handle DerKoun has released an "HD Mode 7" patch for the accuracy-focused SNES emulator bsnes. In their own words, the patch "performs Mode 7 transformations... at up to 4 times the horizontal and vertical resolution" of the original hardware.

[...] Games that made use of the SNES "Graphics Mode 7" used backgrounds that were coded in the SNES memory as a 128x128 grid of 256-color, 8x8 pixel tiles. That made for a 1024×1024 "map" that could be manipulated en masse by basic linear algebra affine transforms to rotate, scale, shear, and translate the entire screen quickly.

Some Mode 7 games also made use of an additional HDMA mode (Horizontal-blanking Direct Memory Access) to fake a "3D" plane that stretches off into the horizon. These games would essentially draw every horizontal scanline in a single SDTV frame at a different scale, making pieces lower in the image appear "closer" than ones far away.

It's a clever effect but one that can make the underlying map data look especially smeary and blob-like, especially for parts of the map that are "far away." This smearing is exacerbated by the SNES' matrix math implementation, which uses trigonometric lookup tables and rounding to cut down on the time needed to perform all that linear algebra on '90s-era consumer hardware. Translating those transformation results back to SNES-scale tiles and a 420p SD screen leads to some problems on the edges of objects, which can look lumpy and "off" by a pixel or two at certain points on the screen.

The HD Mode 7 mod fixes this problem by making use of modern computer hardware to perform its matrix math "at the output resolution," upscaling the original tiles before any transformations are done. This provides more accurate underlying "sub-pixel" data, which lets the emulator effectively use the HD display and fill in some of the spaces between those "boxy" scaled-up pixels.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday April 18 2019, @02:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the Strongr,-Fastr,-Crispr dept.

CRISPR, the gene-editing tool, has been used to enhance the blood cells of two cancer patients to attack their cancer for the first time in the United States.

The experimental research, under way at the University of Pennsylvania, involves genetically altering a person's T cells so that they attack and destroy cancer. A university spokesman confirmed it has treated the first patients, one with sarcoma and one with multiple myeloma.

This isn't the first such use of CRISPR however, just the first in the U.S.

Chinese hospitals, meanwhile, have launched a score of similar efforts. Carl June, the famed University of Pennsylvania cancer doctor, has compared the Chinese lead in employing CRISPR to a genetic Sputnik.

More such studies are in progress and on the way

This year, for example, a patient in Europe became the first person to be treated with CRISPR for an inherited disease, beta thalassemia.

Sufferers of beta thalassemia have a defective gene responsible for the production of red blood cells, which leaves them dependent on transfusions. In that trial, a second copy of the gene that is normally deactivated at birth will be reactivated. It is theorized that this could result in an effective cure of the condition.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday April 18 2019, @01:28AM   Printer-friendly
from the health dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Bug Allows HIPAA-Protected Malware to Hide Behind Medical Images

A bug in a 30-year-old standard used for the exchange and storage of medical images has been uncovered; it allows an adversary to embed fully-functioning executable code into the image files captured by medical devices such as CT and MRI machines.

This results in hybrid files that allow malware binaries to hide behind intact, standards-compliant images that preserve the original patient data – as such, they can be used and shared by clinicians without arousing suspicion.

“By exploiting this design flaw attackers can take advantage of the abundance and centralization of DICOM imagery within healthcare organizations to increase stealth and more easily distribute their malware, setting the stage for potential evasion techniques and multi-stage attacks,” said Markel Picado Ortiz at Cylera Labs, who found the bug, in an analysis this week.

Further, according to Ortiz, by mixing in with protected health information malware can effectively exploit the data’s clinical and regulatory implications to evade detection. Because of stringent privacy regulations in HIPAA regulations, medical device manufacturers and healthcare organizations often configure anti-malware software to ignore medical imagery and files containing protected health information.

Ortiz said that the vulnerability, which he has a proof-of-concept exploit for, exists in DICOM, which is a global and ubiquitous imaging standard within the healthcare industry, originally drafted by National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). It defines a file format for the representation and storage of medical imagery and a communication protocol for the transmission of imagery over a network.

The DICOM standard is used by the systems that produce imagery, specialized workstations for analyzing scan results, and even phones and tablets used to view diagnostic information.

[...] “DICOM has become ubiquitous within healthcare,” Ortiz said. “The number of systems supporting DICOM is innumerably large. There is no single vendor that can provide a patch and no single action that can be taken to fix the root cause of the issue across all systems using DICOM. Any change to the specification must be carefully considered to preserve interoperability between systems that may be designed to different versions of the specification before software vendors even begin to upgrade their own implementations.”

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday April 18 2019, @12:12AM   Printer-friendly
from the my-friend...flicker? dept.

Reviewers are breaking Samsung's Galaxy Fold smartphone after just a day or two of use. Some have accidentally removed a protective film that Samsung warned should not be removed, but others, including CNBC and The Verge, have seen the devices break after normal use:

The phone has only been given to gadget reviewers, but some of the screens appear to be disconnecting and permanently flashing on or off.

The Verge's Dieter Bohn posted earlier on Wednesday that his phone appears to have a defective hinge with a "small bulge" that he can feel that's causing the screen to "slightly distort." Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says his "review unit is completely broken just two days in," but noted he accidentally removed a protective film on the screen.

YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee also removed the film and experienced a broken display. A Samsung spokesperson had warned on Wednesday not to remove the protective layer.

However, CNBC didn't remove that layer, and our screen is now also failing to work properly. When opened, the left side of the flexible display, which makes up a large 7.3-inch screen, flickers consistently.

Previously: Samsung Announces the Galaxy Fold, a Phone-Tablet Hybrid Device
A Bunch of Mobile World Congress 2019 Stories

Original Submission