2019-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2019-10-14 13:46:04 UTC
2019-10-15 09:01:52 UTC
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The notebook PC market is a complex one—practically every manufacturer is trying to follow Apple into the thin and light market, even as Apple quietly admitted defeat this week, discontinuing the 12" MacBook with a lone USB port and 3.5mm jack after four years. This race to make thinner laptops has impacted even Lenovo's business-focused ThinkPad line, with the 13.3" ThinkPad X390 limited to one M.2 SSD, soldered down RAM, and a battery that can only be replaced if you unscrew the case.
Naturally, this direction has upset many in the ThinkPad enthusiast community, as the brand has strayed from the user-serviceability that made it the go-to option when the brand was under IBM's stewardship. In an interview with TechRepublic, Lenovo's vice president of global commercial portfolio and product management Jerry Paradise noted that "Our job is made up of a series of trade-offs, it's never one perfect answer," noting that professionals who often travel in airports "are a big segment of our customers... they want less weight, and they want something that slides down their bag and doesn't take a lot of space."
Epson's just-announced Endeavor NA520E delivers all of the features of classic ThinkPad systems, at a lower weight than the ThinkPad X390, and with competitive specs—adding just 2.1 mm of thickness allows for two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots, two M.2 2280 SSD slots, a 1080p display with narrow bezels, up to an Intel Core i7-8565U CPU, a wealth of ports, and durability without being a tank. But you'll have to buy it in Japan.
[...] Epson's PC business is a Japan-only, built-to-order operation, making the prospect of purchasing one a complex task. Likewise, it is only available with a Japanese keyboard—which is perfectly usable in English, though with a smaller space bar.
[UK] health officials say the HPV vaccine for 12 to 13-year-old boys, starting after the summer, will prevent 29,000 cancers in UK men in the next 40 years. The boys will be eligible from the start of the new school year, 11 years after girls were first vaccinated.
The jab protects against human papilloma virus, which causes many oral, throat and anal cancers.
[...] Why are boys now getting the jab? Because the programme to vaccinate teenage girls, and reduce cervical cancers, has proved very successful.
There has been a reduction in HPV infections, genital warts and pre-cancerous growths in teenage girls and young women since the vaccine was introduced. Other groups, like teenage boys, have seen benefits too because the virus is not being passed on to them. To protect boys even more, and reduce cancers of the anus, penis and head and neck in the future, health experts say they should be offered the HPV vaccine too.
Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd
Nintendo on Wednesday unveiled the Nintendo Switch Lite, a smaller and cheaper version of its popular Switch device. The Switch Lite is meant solely for handheld play, as opposed to the larger Switch that lets gamers connect to a TV. It also has a smaller screen; no kickstand; and does not come with detachable Joy-Con controllers — akin to the Game Boy or Nintendo DS. But it does have a new D-pad; a longer battery life; can play all Switch games; and allows for multiplayer via wireless controllers and Nintendo Switch Online.
Think I'll go with the bigger, more expensive - and far more capable - version. Hopefully the price comes down after this new device comes out.
Previous reports stated that Nintendo will integrate updated hardware for all new variants, and this is in line with a recent analysis coming from Tirias Research principal analyst Jim McGregor, who informs that "the new Nintendo Switch [Lite] will take advantage of two generations of die shrinks to its Nvidia Tegra processor... By joining the joycons to the main body of the Switch, Nintendo will squeeze out the expensive and sophisticated wireless joycons and create a mobile-first Switch platform. The die shrink of the Nvidia Tegra processor will provide better battery life and a meaningful [graphics] upgrade."
Also at Bloomberg.
See also: Nintendo Switch Lite's trade-off of whimsy for practicality is a good one
The new Nintendo Switch Lite undermines what made the original Switch so special
The Nintendo Switch Lite is the right move coming at the right time from Nintendo
Nintendo says the Switch Lite isn't going to replace the 3DS (more accurately, they won't end support for 3DS)
Previously: Nintendo Switch Available on March 3rd for $299
Nintendo to More Than Double Production of Switch; Success Rooted in Wii U's Failure
Nintendo Switch is Fastest-Selling US Home Console
The "Unpatchable" Exploit That Makes Every Current Nintendo Switch Hackable [Updated]
Hidden "VrMode" Found in Nintendo Switch Firmware
[Ed. Note: Behind the invective and political slant in this story is a subject that I think could lead to a fruitful discussion. "The price of liberty is constant vigilance." SoylentNews is a little corner of the 'net that tries to provide a venue for open discussion. Are our days numbered or threatened? What can be done? Just keep doing what we are doing?]
Just over one year ago, French President Emmanuel Macron came to the United States to import two potentially invasive species to Washington. One was a tree and the other was a crackdown on free speech. Ironically, soon after the tree was planted, officials dug it up to send it to quarantine. However, the more dangerous species was his acorn of speech controls, a proposal that resulted in rapturous applause from our clueless politicians.
While our politicians in the United States may applaud Macron like village idiots, most Americans are hardcore believers in free speech. It runs in our blood. Undeterred, however, Macron and others in Europe are moving to unilaterally impose speech controls on the internet with new legislation in France and Germany. If you believe this is a European issue, think again.
Macron and his government are attempting to unilaterally scrub out the internet of hateful thoughts. The French Parliament has moved toward a new law that would give internet companies like Facebook and Google just 24 hours to remove hateful speech from their sites or face fines of $1.4 million per violation. A final vote is expected next week. Germany passed a similar measure last year and imposed fines of $56 million.
Dominos Australia has taken a controversial step in having five of its stores go cashless for pizza pickups in the name of reducing pickup time and queues. Dubbing the new system "tap and take" Dominos hopes that it will reduce waiting times, increase convenience, increase safety and reduce costs involved with handling cash so that they can "remain digitally agile and continue to meet consumer demands". The trial is not winning any points with Libertarians who believe that the government is pushing businesses to crack down on the cash economy with concerns about the government taking a big brother attitude to monitoring business cashflow. While a number of businesses in Australia are cashless, removing the option tends to put customers off with a number of businesses just bearing the loss of profit from customers who prefer to pay with cash.
Following Canonical's pivot away from its internally-developed Unity user interface and Mir display server, Ubuntu has enjoyed two relatively low-drama years, as the Linux Desktop market homogenized during its transition back to a customized GNOME desktop. In a review of the most recent release, TechRepublic's Jack Wallen declared that "Ubuntu 19.04 should seriously impress anyone looking for a fast and reliable Linux desktop platform."
Largely, it's been a slow-and-steady pace for Ubuntu since the pivot from Unity to GNOME, though the distribution made headlines for plans to end support for 32-bit support. This prompted Valve, operators of games marketplace Steam, to re-think its approach toward Ubuntu, which it previously characterized as "as the best-supported path for desktop users."
TechRepublic's James Sanders interviewed Will Cooke, director of engineering for Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical, about the distribution's long-term plans for legacy 32-bit support, shipping a desktop in a post-Unity-era Ubuntu, and why Linux should be the first choice for users migrating from Windows 7 prior to the end of support.
During the surgery, Australian surgeons attached functioning nerves above the spinal injury to paralysed nerves below the injury. Two years after surgery, and following intensive physical therapy, participants were able to reach their arm out in front of them and open their hand to pick up and manipulate objects. Restoring elbow extension improved their ability to propel their wheelchair and to transfer into bed or a car.
They can now perform everyday tasks independently such as feeding themselves, brushing teeth and hair, putting on make-up, writing, handling money and credit cards, and using tools and electronic devices.
The findings suggest that nerve transfers can achieve similar functional improvements to traditional tendon transfers, with the benefit of smaller incisions and shorter immobilisation times after surgery.
In 10 participants, nerve transfers were uniquely combined with tendon transfers allowing different styles of reconstruction to be performed in each hand, and enabling participants to benefit from the innate strengths of both tendon and nerve transfers. Nerve transfers restored more natural movement and finer motor control in one hand, and tendon transfers restored more power and heavy lifting ability in the other hand.
While only a small study, researchers say that nerve transfers are a major advance in the restoration of hand and arm function, and offer another safe, reliable surgical option for people living with tetraplegia.
Nevertheless, four nerve transfers failed in three participants and the authors conclude that more research will be needed to determine which people are the best candidates to select for nerve transfer surgery to minimise the incidence of failure.
[...] Participants completed assessments on their level of independence related to activities of daily living (e.g., self-care, toilet, upper limb function, muscle power, grasp and pinch strength, and hand opening ability) before surgery, one year after surgery, and again two years later. Two participants were lost to follow up, and there was one death (unrelated to the surgery).
At 24 months, significant improvements were noted in the hands ability to pick up and release several objects within a specified time frame and independence. Prior to surgery, none of the participants were able to score on the grasp or pinch strength tests, but 2 years later pinch and grasp strength were high enough to perform most activities of daily living.
Three participants had four failed nerve transfers -- two had a permanent decrease in sensation, and two had a temporary decrease in wrist strength that resolved by 1 year after surgery. Overall, surgery was well tolerated. Five serious adverse events were recorded (including a fall from a wheelchair with femur fracture), but none were related to the surgery.
Despite these achievements, nerve transfer surgery still has some limitations. For the best results nerve transfers should ideally be performed within 6-12 months of injury. Additionally, it can take months after nerve transfer for nerve regrowth into the paralysed muscle to occur and for new movement to be seen, and years until full strength is achieved. However, the authors note that one of the benefits of nerve transfers is that most movements not successfully restored by nerve transfers can still be restored using tendon transfers.
A vulnerability in the Mac Zoom Client allows any malicious website to enable your camera without your permission. The flaw potentially exposes up to 750,000 companies around the world that use Zoom to conduct day-to-day business.
[...] This vulnerability allows any website to forcibly join a user to a Zoom call, with their video camera activated, without the user's permission.
On top of this, this vulnerability would have allowed any webpage to DOS (Denial of Service) a Mac by repeatedly joining a user to an invalid call.
Additionally, if you've ever installed the Zoom client and then uninstalled it, you still have a localhost web server on your machine that will happily re-install the Zoom client for you, without requiring any user interaction on your behalf besides visiting a webpage. This re-install 'feature' continues to work to this day.
[...] According to Zoom, they will have a fix shipped by midnight tonight pacific time removing the hidden web server; hopefully this patches the most glaring parts of this vulnerability. The Zoom CEO has also assured us that they will be updating their application to further protect users privacy.
Proof of concept:
WARNING: Clicking this link starts a Zoom video call, no questions asked!
To store the data, the two doctoral students and their colleague, Master's student Gabriel Voirol, make minimal changes to the music. In contrast to other scientists' attempts in recent years, the researchers state that their new approach allows higher data transfer rates with no audible effect on the music. "Our goal was to ensure that there was no impact on listening pleasure," Eichelberger says.
Tests the researchers have conducted show that in ideal conditions, their technique can transfer up to 400 bits per second without the average listener noticing the difference between the source music and the modified version (see also the audio sample). Given that under realistic conditions a degree of redundancy is necessary to guarantee transmission quality, the transfer rate will more likely be some 200 bits -- or around 25 letters -- per second. "In theory, it would be possible to transmit data much faster. But the higher the transfer rate, the sooner the data becomes perceptible as interfering sound, or data quality suffers," Tanner adds.
The researchers from ETH Zurich's Computer Engineering and Networks Laboratory use the dominant notes in a piece of music, overlaying each of them with two marginally deeper and two marginally higher notes that are quieter than the dominant note. They also make use of the harmonics (one or more octaves higher) of the strongest note, inserting slightly deeper and higher notes here, too. It is all these additional notes that carry the data. While a smartphone can receive and analyse this data via its built-in microphone, the human ear doesn't perceive these additional notes.
[...] To tell the decoder algorithm in the smartphone where it needs to look for data, the scientists use very high notes that the human ear can barely register: they replace the music in the frequency range 9.8-10 kHz with an acoustic data stream that carries the information on when and where across the rest of the music's frequency spectrum to find the data being transmitted.
Eichelberger M, Tanner S, Voirol G, Wattenhofer R: Imperceptible Audio Communication[pdf]. 44th IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing (ICASSP), Brighton, 12-17 May 2019
FreeBSD 11.3-RELEASE Announcement
The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team is pleased to announce the availability of FreeBSD�11.3-RELEASE. This is the fourth release of the stable/11 branch.
Some of the highlights:
The clang, llvm, lld, lldb, and compiler-rt utilities as well as libc++ have been updated to upstream version 8.0.0.
The ELF Tool Chain has been updated to version r3614.
OpenSSL has been updated to version 1.0.2s.
The ZFS filesystem has been updated to implement parallel mounting.
The loader(8) has been updated to extend geli(8) support to all architectures.
The pkg(8) utility has been updated to version 1.10.5.
The KDE desktop environment has been updated to version 5.15.3.
The GNOME desktop environment has been updated to version 3.28.
The kernel will now log the jail(8) ID when logging a process exit.
Several feature additions and updates to userland applications.
Several network driver firmware updates.
Warnings for features deprecated in future releases will now be printed on all FreeBSD versions.
Warnings have been added for IPSec algorithms deprecated in RFC 8221.
Deprecation warnings have been added for weaker algorithms when creating geli(8) providers.
For a complete list of new features and known problems, please see the online release notes and errata list, available at:
For more information about FreeBSD release engineering activities, please see:
Submitted via IRC for Carny
Debian 10 buster released
July 6th, 2019
After 25 months of development the Debian project is proud to present its new stable version 10 (code name buster), which will be supported for the next 5 years thanks to the combined work of the Debian Security team and of the Debian Long Term Support team.
Debian 10 buster ships with several desktop applications and environments. Amongst others it now includes the desktop environments:
- Cinnamon 3.8,
- GNOME 3.30,
- KDE Plasma 5.14,
- LXDE 0.99.2,
- LXQt 0.14,
- MATE 1.20,
- Xfce 4.12.
In this release, GNOME defaults to using the Wayland display server instead of Xorg. Wayland has a simpler and more modern design, which has advantages for security. However, the Xorg display server is still installed by default and the default display manager allows users to choose Xorg as the display server for their next session.
Thanks to the Reproducible Builds project, over 91% of the source packages included in Debian 10 will build bit-for-bit identical binary packages. This is an important verification feature which protects users against malicious attempts to tamper with compilers and build networks. Future Debian releases will include tools and metadata so that end-users can validate the provenance of packages within the archive.
[...] Debian 10 buster includes numerous updated software packages (over 62% of all packages in the previous release), such as:
- Apache 2.4.38
- BIND DNS Server 9.11
- Chromium 73.0
- Emacs 26.1
- Firefox 60.7 (in the firefox-esr package)
- GIMP 2.10.8
- GNU Compiler Collection 7.4 and 8.3
- GnuPG 2.2
- Golang 1.11
- Inkscape 0.92.4
- LibreOffice 6.1
- Linux 4.19 series
- MariaDB 10.3
- OpenJDK 11
- Perl 5.28
- PHP 7.3
- PostgreSQL 11
- Python 3 3.7.2
- Ruby 2.5.1
- Rustc 1.34
- Samba 4.9
- systemd 241
- Thunderbird 60.7.2
- Vim 8.1
- more than 59,000 other ready-to-use software packages, built from nearly 29,000 source packages.
With this broad selection of packages and its traditional wide architecture support, Debian once again stays true to its goal of being the universal operating system. It is suitable for many different use cases: from desktop systems to netbooks; from development servers to cluster systems; and for database, web and storage servers. At the same time, additional quality assurance efforts like automatic installation and upgrade tests for all packages in Debian's archive ensure that buster fulfills the high expectations that users have of a stable Debian release.
Facebook usage has plummeted over the last year, according to data seen by the Guardian, though the company says usage by other measures continues to grow.
Since April 2018, the first full month after news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in the Observer, actions on Facebook such as likes, shares and posts have dropped by almost 20%, according to the business analytics firm Mixpanel.
Taking that month as a baseline, total actions fell by more that 10% within a month, recovered a bit over the summer and then fell again over the autumn and winter of 2018, except for a brief rally over the period of the US midterm elections.
Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd
Instead of maximizing pixel density to fit more info on a smartwatch's tiny screen, IBM has patented a radically different approach that promises to change how we think about wrist wearables completely. But given the trouble companies have had with rolling out expanding screen smartphones, it's hard to imagine this wearable ever being technically feasible.
[...] the patent describes a unique expanding screen system using sliding panels hidden beneath the wearable's main housing. The panels can be removed and connected to expand the wearable's screen real estate into something closer to what a smartphone affords through a four-by-four array, allowing you to display more widgets or to open more capable applications. But why stop there? IBM's patent suggests the modular screen could be expanded with up to eight connected panels, resulting in a display as large as a phone or small tablet awkwardly perched on your wrist.
The Raspberry Pi 4 was announced two weeks ago as a major new upgrade to the line of cheap single-board hobbyist computers. The Pi 4 featured a faster CPU, options for up to 4GB of RAM, and a new, modern USB-C port for power delivery. The Pi 4 was the Raspberry Pi Foundation's first ever USB-C device, and, well, they screwed it up.
As detailed by Tyler Ward, the Raspberry Pi 4 has a non-compliant USB-C charging port and doesn't work with as many chargers as it should. Thanks to the open nature of Raspberry Pi (even the schematics are online!), Ward was able to discover that Raspberry Pi just didn't design its USB-C port correctly. Two "CC" pins on a USB-C port are supposed to each get their own 5.1K ohms resistor, but Raspberry Pi came up with its own circuit design that allows them to share a single resistor. This is not a compliant design and breaks compatibility with some of the more powerful USB-C chargers out there.
[...] The Pi 4 is not the first high-profile device to get the USB-C spec wrong. The Nintendo Switch also has a non-compliant USB-C port and has issues with certain USB-C cables as a result.
After reports started popping up on the Internet, Raspberry Pi cofounder Eben Upton admitted to TechRepublic that "A smart charger with an e-marked cable will incorrectly identify the Raspberry Pi 4 as an audio adapter accessory and refuse to provide power." Upton went on to say, "I expect this will be fixed in a future board revision, but for now users will need to apply one of the suggested workarounds. It's surprising this didn't show up in our (quite extensive) field testing program."
Probably not a dealbreaker (the cables that do work are cheaper), but could be annoying.
Previously: Raspberry Pi 4 Model B Launched
Meet ploonets: planets of moonish origin.
In other star systems, some moons could escape their planets and start orbiting their stars instead, new simulations suggest. Scientists have dubbed such liberated worlds "ploonets," and say that current telescopes may be able to find the wayward objects.
Astronomers think that exomoons — moons orbiting planets that orbit stars other than the sun — should be common, but efforts to find them have turned up empty so far (SN Online: 4/30/19). Astrophysicist Mario Sucerquia of the University of Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia and colleagues simulated what would happen to those moons if they orbited hot Jupiters, gas giants that lie scorchingly close to their stars (SN: 7/8/17, p. 4). Many astronomers think that hot Jupiters weren't born so close, but instead migrated toward their star from a more distant orbit.
As the gas giant migrates, the combined gravitational forces of the planet and the star would inject extra energy into the moon's orbit, pushing the moon farther and farther from its planet until eventually it escapes, the researchers report June 29 at arXiv.org.
[...] Some ploonets may be indistinguishable from ordinary planets. Others, whose orbits keep them close to their planet, could reveal their presence by changing the timing of when their neighbor planet crosses, or transits, in front of the star. The ploonet should stay close enough to the planet that its gravity can speed or slow the planet's transit times. Those deviations should be detectable by combining data from planet-hunting telescopes like NASA's TESS or the now-defunct Kepler, Sucerquia says.
Ploonethood may be a relatively short-lived phenomenon, though, making the worlds more difficult to spot. About half of the ploonets in the researchers' simulations crashed into either their planet or star within about half a million years. And half of the remaining survivors crashed within a million years.
What to call a celestial body that orbited a moon? — moonmoon? moo-oon?
M. Sucerquia et al. Ploonets: formation, evolution, and detectability of tidally detached exomoons. arXiv:1906.11400.
The company has apparently fixed an issue with the vehicle's Raptor engine.
SpaceX is getting ready to let Starhopper off its leash.
Starhopper, a prototype for the company's future Mars-colonizing Starship vehicle, has conducted two brief test hops to date. Both occurred in early April at SpaceX's Boca Chica test site near Brownsville, Texas, and both employed a tether, which kept Starhopper very close to the ground (for safety's sake).
SpaceX had apparently been holding off on taking the next big testing step — removing the tether and letting Starhopper fly freely — until it could fix an issue with the vehicle's powerful, next-generation Raptor engine. But that problem seems to be solved, company founder and CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter over the weekend.
Exciting progress in Boca! Hopper almost ready to hover. Based on tonight's test, looks like 600 Hz Raptor vibration problem is fixed. pic.twitter.com/9bLWOHG0sV July 7, 2019
Later that day, Musk sent out another tweet:
Will do Starship presentation a few weeks after Hopper hovers, so prob late July. If that timing works, free LJ chips for all present! July 7, 2019
Watching the progress of SpaceX and its rocket developments reminds me of the thrills of watching NASA's Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo development efforts. The 50th anniversary of the July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 landing on the moon is fast approaching. Were I on the SpaceX team, I know I would be doing everything I could to try and get the Hopper flying by then! Any bets?