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Which of the following "Dilbert" characters would your co-workers say best resembles you?

  • Dilbert
  • Dogbert
  • Wally
  • Alice
  • Catbert
  • Intern
  • PHB
  • Other (please specify)

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:66 | Votes:109

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 30 2019, @11:59PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the dead-but-still-looking-good dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

When trying to better the odds for survival, a major dilemma that many animals face is dispersal—being able to pick up and leave to occupy new lands, find fresh resources and mates, and avoid intraspecies competition in times of overpopulation. For birds, butterflies and other winged creatures, covering long distances may be as easy as the breeze they travel on. But for soil-dwellers of the crawling variety, the hurdle remains: How do they reach new, far-off habitats?

For one group of tiny arthropods called springtails (Collembola), a recent fossil discovery now suggests their answer to this question has been to piggyback on the dispersal abilities of others, literally.

In findings published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Museum national d'Histoire naturelle have detailed the discovery of an ancient interaction preserved in 16-million-year-old amber from the Dominican Republic: 25 springtails attached to, and nearby, a large winged termite and ant from the days of the early Miocene.

The fossil exhibits a number of springtails still attached to the wings and legs of their hosts, while others are preserved as if gradually floating away from their hosts within the amber. Researchers say the discovery highlights the existence of a new type of hitchhiking behavior among wingless soil-dwelling arthropods, and could be key to explaining how symphypleonan springtails successfully achieved dispersal worldwide.

"The existence of this hitchhiking behavior is especially exciting given the fact that modern springtails are rarely described as having any interspecfic association with surrounding animals," said Ninon Robin, the paper's first author whose postdoctoral research at NJIT's Department of Biological Sciences was funded by the Fulbright Program of the French-American Commission. "This finding underscores how important fossils are for telling us about unsuspected ancient ecologies as well as still ongoing behaviors that were so far simply overlooked."

Today, springtails are among the most common arthropods found in moist habitats around the world. Most springtails possess a specialized appendage under their abdomen they use to "spring" away in flee-like fashion to avoid predation. However this organ is not sufficient for traversing long distances, especially since most springtails are unable to survive long in dry areas.

[...] "Because it appears that springtails reflexively detach from their hosts when in danger, evidenced by the detached individuals in the amber, ethanol would effectively erase the link between hitchhiker and host," said Barden. "Amber derives from fossilized sticky tree resin and is viscous enough that it would retain the interaction. ... Meaning, sometimes you have to turn to 16-million-year-old amber fossils to find out what might be happening in your backyard."

More information: Ninon Robin et al, Fossil amber reveals springtails' longstanding dispersal by social insects, BMC Evolutionary Biology (2019). DOI: 10.1186/s12862-019-1529-6

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 30 2019, @09:46PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the this-case-still-has-legs dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Apple has won the latest round in its nine-year patent mega-battle with VirnetX – with a US appeals court rejecting a $600m jury decision and sending it back down to the district court to redecide.

The victory saw Apple’s share price go up by more than one per cent but, in an indication of their comparative sizes, VirnetX’s share price collapsed by 50 per cent on news of the decision [PDF] on Friday. As everyone has had time to digest the decision, however, VirnetX’s share price has partially recovered – in large part because Apple is still on the hook for most of the $600m award.

The lower court will now have to decide whether to hold another trial and revisit the whole issue or revise its patent award in light of the successful appeal.

At the heart of the fight are four patents that VirnetX holds that it says Apple infringes with its iPhones and iPads. All of them cover VPNs but the most recent court decision split the four in two groups, with one covering external domain names and the other covering internal network addressing.

The court decided that the first two (6,502,135 and 7,490,151) are infringed by Apple in its VPN on Demand service but that the second two (7,418,504 and 7,921,211) which are used in its popular FaceTime service are not.

That’s important for several reasons. For one, rather than pay VirnetX royalties, Apple decided to redesign how it did FaceTime on a technical level as a way to bypass the patents (in essence, it stopped using an IP address as final authorization when creating a VPN between two devices and instead uses a push token, certificate and session token). That redesign sparked its own lawsuit when Apple cut users off from FaceTime if they didn’t update their phones to use the new approach.

By negating infringement of two of the four patents, it also means that Apple will not have to pay as high an infringement fine – but it’s not at all clear what that reduction will be. Despite FaceTime being much better known, it is significantly less valuable in terms of infringement than VPN on Demand.

Currently the $596m judgement against Apple comprises a $503m award and $93m in interest and costs – tacked on because Apple has been dragging the case out; VirnetX first sued back in 2010. That award was reached by putting a $1.20 royalty for the company on the estimated 384 million units impacted.

But, the judgment notes, Apple’s own expert “asserted that VPN on Demand was vastly more valuable than FaceTime, (testifying that VPN on Demand was worth about 6 cents per unit, FaceTime about 1 cent per unit).”

That means that – if the district court accepts the decision and tries to recalculate the fine itself using Apple’s own testimony – the $596m judgment will be reduced to approximately $515m. Which, even for Apple, is a lot of money.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 30 2019, @07:20PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the think-it-through dept.

Twitter Delays Inactive Account Purge (It Forgot About Dead People)

Twitter has delayed its planned purge of inactive accounts.

When Twitter announced plans to close down accounts that have not been used for a period of six months or more, reaction was mixed. While many people recognized the value in getting rid of the millions of accounts that artificially inflate follower numbers and take up usernames that could be assigned to other people, there were concerns too.

In particular, friends and relatives of deceased Twitter users expressed concern that they would no longer be able to access the old tweets of their loved ones. Now Twitter has said that it will put its plans on hold... at least until it is able to devise an account memorialization feature.

Original Announcement here.

You Can Take My Dad's Tweets Over My Dead Body

Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956

You can take my Dad's tweets over my dead body – TechCrunch

There are a few ways that people use Twitter, but for the most part the ones who have pushed the social platform into the national lexicon are regular users who like to communicate with each other using the thing. They’re the ones who use it a lot. They’re the ones who make Twitter go.

Now, mind you, I'm an extreme case. I share a lot. I've shared my cancer diagnoses, my stem cell treatment, new jobs, my wedding. And the loss of my father Barry.

Today, Twitter announced that it will reclaim dormant accounts. That is, if you haven't logged into yours for a long time, it is considered inactive and will be included in the reclamation process.

At first I thought that was pretty cool. There are a ton of accounts that get squatted on, forcing new users to use crappy AOL-like names, such as Joe583822. No fun at all. And these accounts aren't even in use! As in not active.

But then I saw this:

Here's some more info on the Twitter user cull. As it stands, every person who has had Twitter and died more than six months ago will be deleted from the site – UNLESS someone already has their log-in details.

— Dave Lee (@DaveLeeBBC) November 26, 2019

My heart sank. And I cried. You see, I didn't think about this. It is a big deal.

My father's Twitter account isn't active. He passed away over four years ago. My Dad was a casual tweeter at best. He mostly used it because I, well, overused it. And it was charming. Once in a while he'd chime in with a zinger of a tweet and I'd share it humbly with the folks who kindly follow me.

[...] Think about it, Twitter. Do better. Because every time you make me question your humanity, I'm one step closer to not being that whale of a user that helped get you here in the first place.

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 30 2019, @04:54PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the it'll-cost-that-much-to-buy-an-Apple-drive dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

How much is Steve Jobs' signature worth? More than a top-end 16-inch MacBook Pro and an iPhone 11 Pro Max combined, apparently. Auction house RR Auction has put up a floppy disk signed by the late Apple co-founder for sale -- with an estimated value of $7,500.

The floppy disk in question contains Macintosh System Tools 6.0 software. That dates it to around 1988. The disk is especially valuable, RR Auction claims, because Jobs was not a prolific autograph signer.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 30 2019, @02:31PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Curiosity-is-not-having-a-good-time dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Dust storms are common on Mars. But every decade or so, something unpredictable happens: A series of runaway storms breaks out, covering the entire planet in a dusty haze.

Last year, a fleet of NASA spacecraft got a detailed look at the life cycle of the 2018 global dust storm that ended the Opportunity rover's mission. And while scientists are still puzzling over the data, two papers recently shed new light on a phenomenon observed within the storm: dust towers, or concentrated clouds of dust that warm in sunlight and rise high into the air. Scientists think that dust-trapped water vapor may be riding them like an elevator to space, where solar radiation breaks apart their molecules. This might help explain how Mars' water disappeared over billions of years.

Dust towers are massive, churning clouds that are denser and climb much higher than the normal background dust in the thin Martian atmosphere. While they also occur under normal conditions, the towers appear to form in greater numbers during global storms.

A tower starts at the planet's surface as an area of rapidly lifted dust about as wide as the state of Rhode Island. By the time a tower reaches a height of 50 miles (80 kilometers), as seen during the 2018 global dust storm, it may be as wide as Nevada. As the tower decays, it can form a layer of dust 35 miles (56 kilometers) above the surface that can be wider than the continental United States.

The recent findings on dust towers come courtesy of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which is led by the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Though global dust storms cloak the planet's surface, MRO can use its heat-sensing Mars Climate Sounder instrument to peer through the haze. The instrument is designed specifically for measuring dust levels. Its data, coupled with images from a camera aboard the orbiter called the Mars Context Imager (MARCI), enabled scientists to detect numerous swelling dust towers.

[...] "Global dust storms are really unusual," said Mars Climate Sounder scientist David Kass of JPL. "We really don't have anything like this on the Earth, where the entire planet's weather changes for several months."

With time and more data, the MRO team hopes to better understand the dust towers created within global storms and what role they may play in removing water from the Red Planet's atmosphere.

More information: Nicholas G. Heavens et al. An Observational Overview of Dusty Deep Convection in Martian Dust Storms, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1175/JAS-D-19-0042.1

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 30 2019, @12:08PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the has-this-been-thought-through? dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Skywatchers in Spain recording meteors being transformed into brilliant streaks of light by atmospheric compression are a bit miffed – as their view was rudely interrupted by a slew of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites.

Below is a short clip of what it looked like above La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands last week. The meteor shower known as Alpha Monocerotids crisscrossed the sky, though it becomes hard to spot them once the satellites come flooding in.

SpaceX's table-sized Starlink birds, which sport reflective solar panels, are closer and brighter as they zip across the camera’s line of sight like machine gun bullets.

Starlink satellites during a meteor shower on Nov. 22.

— Patrick Treuthardt, Ph.D. (@PTreuthardt)

Denis Vida, a geophysics PhD student at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, who wrote the code to generate the footage above captured from one of the Global Meteor Network’s cameras, said the obstruction happens every day.

“Note that this was not a one time occurrence,” he told The Register. “We see this every day before dawn with about half the cameras in our network. During that time we effectively lose about half our field of view because of this.

[...] “These satellites will most definitely interfere with important astronomical observations which can have implications on predicting future meteor shower outburst. Accurate meteor shower predictions are essential for understanding the hazard they pose to spacecraft – do you see the irony? – and astronauts in orbit.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 30 2019, @09:45AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the we-are-of-one-family dept.

Linux Professional Institute extends its Open Technology certification track with the BSD Specialist Certification. Starting October 30, 2019, BSD Specialist exams will be globally available. The certification was developed in collaboration with the BSD Certification Group which merged with Linux Professional Institute in 2018.

[...] "The BSD Specialist certificate requires passing a single exam. This exam tests skills in administering FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD systems. Covering the three major BSD systems ensures that the certification holder is comfortable working in BSD-based environments of any kind" says Fabian Thorns, Director of Product Development.

Dru Lavigne, Chair of the BSD Certification Group adds, "We are excited that the partnership with the Linux Professional Institute highlights the demand for BSD administration skills to a larger audience. The BSD Specialist exam follows the same rigorous standards as the former BSD Associate exam, ensuring that the certification demonstrates competency in the core skills employers demand in a BSD environment."

[...] LPI is the global organization for certification standards and career support for open source professionals. With more than 175,000 certification holders, it is the world's first and largest Linux and open source certification authority. LPI has certified professionals in more than 180 countries, delivering exams in multiple languages, ​​and has hundreds of training partners.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 30 2019, @06:27AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

New study looks to biological enzymes as source of hydrogen fuel

Currently, hydrogen gas is produced using a very complex industrial process that limits its attractiveness to the green fuel market, the researchers said. In response, scientists are looking toward biologically synthesized hydrogen, which is far more efficient than the current human-made process, said chemistry professor and study co-author Thomas Rauchfuss.

Biological enzymes, called hydrogenases, are nature's machinery for making and burning hydrogen gas. These enzymes come in two varieties, iron-iron and nickel-iron -- named for the elements responsible for driving the chemical reactions. The new study focuses on the iron-iron variety because it does the job faster, the researchers said.

The team came into the study with a general understanding of the chemical composition of the active sites within the enzyme. They hypothesized that the sites were assembled using 10 parts: four carbon monoxide molecules, two cyanide ions, two iron ions and two groups of a sulfur-containing amino acid called cysteine.

The team discovered that it was instead more likely that the enzyme's engine was composed of two identical groups containing five chemicals: two carbon monoxide molecules, one cyanide ion, one iron ion and one cysteine group. The groups form one tightly bonded unit, and the two units combine to give the engine a total of 10 parts.

[...] "The take-away from this study is that it is one thing to envision using the real enzyme to produce hydrogen gas, but it is far more powerful to understand its makeup well enough to able to reproduce it for use in the lab," Rauchfuss said.

Journal Reference: Guodong Rao, Scott A. Pattenaude, Katherine Alwan, Ninian J. Blackburn, R. David Britt, Thomas B. Rauchfuss. The binuclear cluster of [FeFe] hydrogenase is formed with sulfur donated by cysteine of an [Fe(Cys)(CO)2(CN)] organometallic precursor[$]. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 116 (42): 20850 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1913324116

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 30 2019, @04:09AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Genetic discovery holds implications for better immunity, longer life

Working with Caenorhabditis elegans, a transparent nematode found in soil, researchers at Washington State University's Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine were the first to find that the nervous system controls the tiny worm's cuticle, a skin-like exterior barrier, in response to bacterial infections. Their study was published today in Science Advances.

Often used in biologic research as a model organism, the C. elegans nematode has a relatively simple structure while still sharing several genetic similarities with more complex mammals including humans, so this discovery holds implications for human health as well.

"Our study challenges the traditional view that a physical barrier such as a worm's cuticle or a human's skin does not respond to infections but is part of the body's innate defense against a pathogen," said Assistant Professor Jingru Sun, the corresponding author on the paper. "We show that during infection the nematode can change its cuticle structure and that defense response is controlled by the nervous system."

Sun and her colleagues used technologies such as gene silencing and CRISPR gene editing to show that a G-protein-coupled receptor tied to a gene called npr-8 regulates collagens, proteins that are the key structural components of the nematode's cuticle. Nematodes whose NPR-8 receptor was removed survived longer when exposed to the pathogens that cause pneumonia, salmonella and staph infections. The cuticle of the nematodes without the receptor also remained smooth compared to their wild peers whose cuticle wrinkled in response to the same pathogens.

[...] The WSU study results indicate that collagens play an important role in defense of pathogen infection, and the researchers speculate that the neural regulation of collagens might play a role in overall longevity as well. Their next goal is to understand the underlying defense response mechanisms.

Neuronal GPCR NPR-8 regulates C. elegans defense against pathogen infection, Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw4717)

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 30 2019, @01:42AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the quick-before-someone-patents-them dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

EI is part of the global effort to sequence the DNA all of the known species of animals, plants and fungi on earth, known as the Earth BioGenome Project. Contributing to the UK arm Darwin Tree of Life Project, one aspect from EI is unearthing useful new medicines that are produced in plants by decoding their genomic data profile.

Plants produce a vast array of bioactive compounds to guard themselves against pests and diseases as well as to attract species like insects and microbes that help them grow. Some of these chemicals can help us too.

For example, a precursor of the well-known painkiller aspirin was originally found in willow bark, paclitaxel is a chemotherapy drug found in certain yew trees, and digoxin, found in foxgloves, is used to treat heart conditions. Foxgloves and several species of willow trees are still common throughout the UK, but many other plant species are threatened by the rapid decline in hay meadows, which have largely been replaced by intensive grasslands since the second world war.

A team from EI and John Innes Centre led by Synthetic Biology Group Leader Nicola Patron aims to explore the chemical diversity of UK plants, identifying the genes that plants use to produce molecules that could provide benefits in health and industry.

[...] Director of EI Prof Neil Hall, added: "This work is a great example of how sequencing genomes of wild species could lead to entirely new ways of harnessing nature for the public good. My hope is that in the next ten years we will have sequenced the vast majority of plant genomes, unlocking a treasure trove of pathways that make compounds which can be used in medicine and biotech."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday November 29 2019, @11:21PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the learning-can-still-be-fun dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

I remember first learning as a student that some infinities are bigger than others. For some sets of numbers, it was easy to see how. The set of integers is infinite, and the set of real numbers is infinite, and it seemed immediately clear that there are fewer integers than reals. Demonstrations and proofs of the fact were cool, but I already knew what they showed me.

Other relationships between infinities were not so easy to grok. Consider: There are an infinite numbers of points on a sheet of paper. There are an infinite numbers of points on a wall. These infinities are equal to one another. But how? Mathematician Yuri Manin demonstrates how:

I explained this to my grandson, that there are as many points in a sheet of paper as there are on the wall of the room. "Take the sheet of paper, and hold it so that it blocks your view of the wall completely. The paper hides the wall from your sight. Now if a beam of light comes out of every point on the wall and lands in your eye, it must pass through the sheet of paper. Each point on the wall corresponds to a point on the sheet of paper, so there must be the same number of each."

I remember reading that explanation in school and feeling both amazed and enlightened. What sorcery is this? So simple, so beautiful. Informal proofs of this sort made me want to learn more mathematics.

Manin told the story quoted above in an interview a decade or so ago with Mikhail Gelfand, We Do Not Choose Mathematics as Our Profession, It Chooses Us. It was a good read throughout and reminded me again how I came to enjoy math.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday November 29 2019, @08:56PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the politicians-lie?-why-wasn't-I-told....? dept.

Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956

Facebook Loses Only Fact-Checking Partner in the Netherlands Over Lies in Political Ads

Facebook has lost its only fact-checking partner in the Netherlands, Dutch digital newspaper, over its policy of allowing politicians to openly lie in ads on the platform, according to an article on NPO 3.'s decision to bail comes amid widespread blowback over the Facebook policy. Critics, including some of its own employees, have argued it incentivises online disinformation campaigns at an unprecedented level and may have more to do with building influence among politicians. (In the U.S., Facebook is struggling to placate conservative critics who think the company is biased towards liberals, while Donald Trump's re-election campaign has reacted angrily to proposed changes to ad policies it believes could limit its reach on Facebook.) Conversely, Facebook insists that it simply believes that it's not an "appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician's speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny."

According to NPO 3, was the only third party partner working with Facebook's beleaguered fact-checking program in the Netherlands. said the latest spat came after it ruled that an ad by Dutch politician Esther de Lange stating that 10 percent of Romanian farmland was owned by non-Europeans was unsubstantiated; Facebook then intervened, saying that politicians were off-limits. The Verge noted that Facebook's other fact-checker in the region, Leiden University, stopped participating in the program in 2018.

"What is the point of fighting fake news if you are not allowed to tackle politicians?" editor-in-chief Gert-Jaap Hoekman wrote in NPO 3. "Let one thing be clear: we stand behind the content of our fact checks."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday November 29 2019, @06:52PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Two members of the public have died after a stabbing attack at London Bridge, in which police also shot dead the suspect.

The Met Police has declared the attack a terrorist incident.

The suspect, who died at the scene, was believed to have been wearing a hoax explosive device, police said.

Videos on social media appear to show passers-by holding down a man. An officer arrives, seems to indicate to the group to move, and fires a shot.

A Whitehall source confirmed two members of the public died to the BBC but gave no further information.

Details are still emerging and Neil Basu, the head of UK counter-terrorism policing, said the force was keeping an open mind over the motive.

He said officers were called to a stabbing at a premises near the bridge just before 14:00.

posted by janrinok on Friday November 29 2019, @06:31PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the balls-or-tubes-makes-a-difference dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

A new technique in chemistry could pave the way for producing uniform nanoparticles for use in drug delivery systems.

Scientists have been investigating how to make better use of nanoparticles in medicine for several decades. Significantly smaller than an average cell, nanoparticles are more similar in size to proteins. This makes them good at interacting with biomolecules and transporting drug molecules attached to their surface across cell membranes.

To date, however, only a handful of nanoparticle-based drugs have succeeded in reaching the clinic. This is because of the challenges in controlling the size and shape of nanoparticles—and understanding fully how these variables affect the way the particles behave in the body.

In a new study, published in Nature Communications, researchers from the University of Birmingham and the University of Bath have demonstrated a technique that will allow chemists to more closely control the size and shape of nanoparticles.

Dr. Tom Wilks, in the University of Birmingham's School of Chemistry, is one of the lead authors of the study. He explains: "If you change the shape of a nanoparticle from, for example, a spherical to a cylindrical shape, others have shown that this can have a dramatic effect on how it interacts with cells in the body, and how it is distributed through the body. By being able to control the size and shape, we can start to design and test nanoparticles that are exactly suited to an intended function."

Currently, to produce differently shaped nanoparticles for drug delivery scientists have to develop a bespoke chemical synthesis for each, which can be a laborious, time-consuming and expensive process.

Journal information: Anisotropic polymer nanoparticles with controlled dimensions from the morphological transformation of isotropic seeds, Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-13263-6)

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday November 29 2019, @04:08PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the wait-until-they-start-using-social-media dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyGuest61688

The herd donned VR systems adapted for the "structural features of cow heads" and were shown a "unique summer field simulation program".

Moscow's Ministry of Agriculture and Food cited research which they say has shown a link between a cow's emotional experience and its milk yield.

Initial tests reportedly boosted "the overall emotional mood of the herd".


Original Submission