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posted by martyb on Tuesday December 10, @11:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the sour-grapes? dept.

Why was Amazon heading to court to challenge the US Department of Defense's decision to award its $10bn winner-takes-all JEDI IT project to Microsoft rather than to, well, AWS?

“We’re in the middle of an act of litigation so there’s a limited amount I can say about it, but … we feel pretty strongly that it was not adjudicated fairly,” said Jassy. “If you do a truly objective and detailed apples to apples comparison of the platforms you don’t end up in the spot where that decision was made.

“Most of our customers tell us that we’re a couple of years ahead both with regard to functionality and maturity. I think we ended up with a situation where there was significant political interference.” Jassy claimed that having “a sitting president who’s willing to share openly his disdain for a company,” namely the Jeff Bezos-owned Amazon, makes it “really difficult for government agencies including the DoD to make an objective decision without fear of reprisal.”

Bezos also owns The Washington Post, which has drawn Trump's ire in the past, as well as Amazon.

Does Jassy have a point or is this just sour grapes?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday December 10, @09:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the can't-get-there-from-here dept.

All neurodegenerative diseases have a common thread: the appearance of protein clumps in the brain such as amyloid-beta plaques in Alzheimer's disease and alpha synuclein aggregates in Parkinson's. The root cause of this buildup has been hard to pinpoint, but Rockefeller scientists have identified a likely culprit that opens up a new avenue for developing treatments.

In a pair of studies carried out in flies and mice, the researchers discovered that the issue lies in the system that transports proteasomes, the molecular machinery that breaks down proteins, to specific locations within a cell.

[...] "This is the first study to find a mechanism by which the proteasomes are moved to nerve endings to do their job," says Hermann Steller, the Strang Professor at Rockefeller. "When this mechanism gets disrupted, there are severe consequences for the function and long-term survival of nerve cells."

Proteasomes are made in the cell body of a neuron and need to be transported over long distances to reach the nerve endings where the neuron connects with other cells--a journey of more than one meter in some cases. When proteasomes fail to reach these critical communication hubs, the cell descends into turmoil.

"Instead of being degraded, damaged proteins in these sites hang around long enough to interact with other binding partners, form aggregates, and disrupt cell function," Steller says. Over time, this causes degeneration of nerve fibers and ultimately cell death.

When Steller and his team began investigating the proteasome transportation system in fruit flies, they identified a protein called PI31, which plays a crucial role in loading the proteasomes onto the cellular components that ferry them around. In research published in Developmental Cell, they show that PI31 enhances binding and promotes movement of proteasomes with cellular motors. Without it, transport is halted. This is the case in both fly and mouse neurons, suggesting that the transport mechanism is common between many species.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday December 10, @07:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the you-are-in-a-maze-of-twisty-little-privacy-settings,-all-different dept.

Advertisers want exemption from web privacy rules that, you know, enforce privacy

Amid the final rulemaking before the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is scheduled to take effect next year, five ad industry groups have asked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to remove a requirement that businesses honor the privacy choices internet users make through browser settings, extensions, or other controls.

[...] The CCPA, which takes effect in January, 2020, will provide Californians with greater legal privacy protections than anywhere else in the US (though still short of Europe's GDPR), putting pressure on federal lawmakers who are trying to formulate consistent privacy rules for the entire country. Meanwhile, technology and ad companies have been trying to gut the CCPA and would welcome a weaker federal standard that supersedes the California law.

The privacy rules includes a consumer right to know whether information is being collected, to request details about the information categories collected, to know what personal information is collected, to refuse to have information collected, to delete collected information, and bans any degredation of service if the user opts to retain their privacy.

Among its requirements, the law says, "If a business collects personal information from consumers online, the business shall treat user-enabled privacy controls, such as a browser plugin or privacy setting or other mechanism, that communicate or signal the consumer's choice to opt-out of the sale of their personal information as a valid request [under the law]."

In a December 6th letter obtained by MediaPost reporter Wendy Davis and provided to The Register as a courtesy, the five ad industry groups – The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As), the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), The Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the American Advertising Federation (AAF), and the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) – complain to Becerra that such proposals would harm consumer choice.

[...] The Register asked the IAB for comment and a spokesperson pointed to pages 13 and 14 of its letter, which suggests Becerra adopt rules that allow information collecting businesses to ignore privacy controls "if the business includes a 'Do Not Sell My Personal Information' link and offers another method for consumers to opt-out of personal information sale by the business."

In the past, the US Federal Trade Commission has not looked kindly on ignoring browser-expressed privacy choices. In 2012, Google agreed to pay $22.5m for, among other things, circumventing the privacy controls in Apple's Safari browser.

In a statement emailed to The Register, Mozilla stressed that privacy settings should be easy to use and said it would be irresponsible and wrong to ignore the preferences users express through their browser settings.

"Of course, that is also why organizations like the Interactive Advertising Bureau find requirements like those in CCPA so threatening, because those requirements empower people to limit what data advertisers collect about them – and empower regulators to investigate and enforce if they don't," a Mozilla spokesperson said.

"So, the more hurdles that can be thrown in the way of setting adoptions like recognizing browser or plug-in flags, the longer such data can be traded and sold when mechanisms are limited."

Mozilla said that in the absence of standard mechanisms to express privacy preferences, it has enabled Enhanced Tracking Protection by default to help consumers regain control over those attempting to track their browsing activity online. ®

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday December 10, @05:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the that's-a-big-easter-egg dept.

From Asahi Shimbun

A man who won an Internet auction for used hard disks soon discovered that he was in the possession of confidential and sensitive government information that he had no business reading.

At first, the man, who owns an information technology company, was puzzled when he found repeated mention in the file names of Kanagawa Prefecture.

But he was in for a greater shock when he used recovery software and found that the files on the hard disks contained mountains of data compiled by the Kanagawa prefectural government.

The data included everything from individuals who were behind on their taxes and the amount; documents considering the seizure of assets; documents related to contract bid amounts; rosters of employees at public schools; and even design blueprints for electric power plants and water supply works.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday December 10, @04:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the There-Is-No-Such-Thing-As-Climate-Change dept.

Australia is on fire. Again. Happens every year around this time, but this year is worse. A lot worse, with smoke and haze covering large parts of the eastern seaboard. The effect of the fires can be felt in New Zealand where the smoke is causing blood red sunsets. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Australia has briefly offered a prayer in support. The deadly fires have killed hundreds of drop bears while scourging the countryside across several states.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday December 10, @02:06PM   Printer-friendly

Debian Developers Take To Voting Over Init System Diversity

It's been five years already since the vote to transition to systemd in Debian over Upstart while now there is the new vote that has just commenced for judging the interest in "init system diversity" and just how much Debian developers care (or not) in supporting alternatives to systemd.

Due to Debian developers having differing opinions on handling non-systemd bugs in 2019 and the interest/commitment to supporting systemd alternatives in the scope of Debian packaging and various related friction points, they've taken to a new general resolution over weighing init system diversity.

The ballot is available on-line. The choices are:

Choice 1: F: Focus on systemd
Choice 2: B: Systemd but we support exploring alternatives
Choice 3: A: Support for multiple init systems is Important
Choice 4: D: Support non-systemd systems, without blocking progress
Choice 5: H: Support portability, without blocking progress
Choice 6: E: Support for multiple init systems is Required
Choice 7: G: Support portability and multiple implementations
Choice 8: Further Discussion

[Ed. note: I'm not sure what the letters after the choice numbers indicate, nor do I know where "C" disappeared to.]

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday December 10, @12:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the what's-the-hurry? dept.

Windows 10 October 2018 Update users are being forced to upgrade – ready or not

Microsoft has begun the process of herding those still running the Windows 10 October 2018 Update into upgrading to the most recent November 2019 Update.

The same thing has already happened to those running the April 2018 Update, and that previous forced upgrade scheme kicked off in July (instigating automatic upgrades to the May 2019 Update, which of course was the most recent version of Windows 10 at the time).

[...] So this is the second time Microsoft has wielded an upgrade cattle prod, effectively, and the reason for doing so is security – because the end of service date for the update in question is on the horizon. Users must therefore upgrade, or face missing out on vital security patches.

However, the timeframe in which Microsoft is pushing these mandatory upgrades is well in advance of what the company initially announced. The official stance remains that the rollout process will be started “several months in advance of the end of service date to provide adequate time for a smooth update process”.

Which is fair enough, but the end of support deadline for the October 2018 Update is May 12, 2020, so that’s actually still over five months away – a little more than ‘several months’ in our books.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 10, @10:46AM   Printer-friendly
from the real-dirt-nap dept.

In 2021, a Seattle Washington funeral company is set to open its doors and begin accepting customers in a first of a kind human composting site.

US 'deathcare' company Recompose will be able to turn the deceased into a cubic yard of soil over a period of as little as 30 days, using one-eighth of the energy of cremation and saving as much as a metric ton of carbon dioxide from being produced compared to other forms of burial.

The company will be able to service up to 75 individuals at once.

the process sees bodies placed in reusable vessels covered in woodchips, alfalfa and hay, and sealed away in hexagonal tubes.

There the corpse's temperature is regulated while its surroundings are aerated, allowing naturally occurring bacteria to break down the body over the course of four to seven weeks.

The deceased is then returned to their loved ones as compost, limiting the carbon footprint from cremations and traditional burials while cutting out the embalming fluid chemicals which can leach into the soil and can pollute groundwater.

If desired, the dearly departed dirt can also be donated to

a land soil project to provide a forest on the state's Bell Mountain with additional nutrients, with one person creating 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of soil.

Previous Coverage Here, Here, and Here

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 10, @09:14AM   Printer-friendly
from the safe-spaces dept.

Submitted via IRC for chromas

CRISPR-resistant viruses build 'safe rooms' to shield genomes from DNA-dicing enzymes

Bacteria and the viruses that infect them are engaged in a molecular arms race as ancient as life itself. Evolution has equipped bacteria with an arsenal of immune enzymes, including CRISPR-Cas systems, that target and destroy viral DNA. But bacteria-killing viruses, also known as phages, have devised their own tools to help them outmaneuver even the most formidable of these bacterial defenses.

Now, scientists at UC San Francisco and UC San Diego have discovered a remarkable new strategy that some phages employ to avoid becoming the next casualty of these DNA-dicing enzymes: after they infect bacteria, these phages construct an impenetrable "safe room" inside of their host, which protects vulnerable phage DNA from antiviral enzymes. This compartment, which resembles a cell nucleus, is the most effective CRISPR shield ever discovered in viruses.

"In our experiments, these phages didn't succumb to any of the DNA-targeting CRISPR systems they were challenged with. This is the first time that anyone has found phages that exhibit this level of pan-CRISPR resistance," said Joseph Bondy-Denomy, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UCSF. Bondy-Denomy led the research team that made the discovery, which is detailed in a paper published Dec. 9, 2019 in the journal Nature.

A bacteriophage nucleus-like compartment shields DNA from CRISPR nucleases, Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1786-y)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 10, @07:42AM   Printer-friendly
from the taken-to-extremes dept.

Submitted via IRC for chromas

'I was addicted to exercise'

Psychologists say exercise addiction falls under the category of behavioural addiction, in which a person's behaviour becomes obsessive, compulsive, or causes dysfunction in a person's life.

It is thought to affect about 3% of people, rising to 10% among high-performance runners.

Typically, those most vulnerable are amateur athletes, such as Valerie, seeking relief from internal distress, says consultant psychologist Dr Chetna Kang, from The Priory Hospital in north London.

"Often people come to a clinic with a relationship breakdown, anxiety, depression... but as you start to unpick that, you realise exercise is the culprit," Dr Kang says.

"It's not extremely common but it's becoming more so."

[...] Martin Turner, a sports and exercise psychologist at Manchester Metropolitan University, has worked with and studied athletes for 10 years and regularly comes across people consumed by their athletic identity.

"They form the idea that their success as an athlete reflects their worth as a human being, 'I succeed as an athlete, therefore I am valuable. I fail as an athlete, therefore I am worthless,'" he says.

"Running is now part of who you are. If you don't run, who are you?"

Mr Turner's studies show these kinds of "illogical beliefs" are associated with greater exercise dependence, depression, anger, anxiety, and burnout.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 10, @06:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the flipping-the-virtual-bird dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Surprise! Oculus Quest becomes first VR set with native hand tracking

Starting this week, the Oculus Quest VR headset becomes even more tantalizing by adding a feature we've never seen ship as a built-in option in a VR system: hand tracking. VR users will be able to put down their controllers and use their fingers to manipulate VR worlds, as tracked by Quest's array of built-in cameras.

The feature received a tease at October's Oculus Connect 6 conference and got an "early 2020" launch window from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But someone on the Oculus engineering team clearly ignored Lord Zuck in getting this feature out the door a bit early, and it will land in an "experimental" tab in Quest's settings menus as a free update by week's end.

Today's news comes with two important asterisks. First, there's no fully fledged VR software available for the feature yet. At launch, the experimental feature will only work within Oculus Quest's root menu, which at least includes photo and multimedia viewing tabs. Within "a week" of the toggle going live, a Software Development Kit (SDK) for Quest hand tracking will go live for Oculus developers, which will allow them to tap into Oculus' hand-tracking system and potentially implement it in various games and apps.

And second, Oculus is limiting its hand-tracking framework to the Quest ecosystem. This update isn't coming to the PC-centric Rift or Rift S headsets, and it won't work if you use Oculus Link to connect a Quest to your favorite PC VR games.

Also at CNET

The Future Of Oculus Quest: Hands-On With Hand Tracking, PC-VR "Link" Mode
Oculus Co-Founder Says there is No Market for VR Gaming

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 10, @04:37AM   Printer-friendly
from the shocking dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1337

That time Benjamin Franklin tried (and failed) to electrocute a turkey

Through his experiments, Franklin was able to demonstrate that electricity consisted of a common element he called "electric fire," arguing that it flowed like a liquid, passing from one body to another. He studied how sparks jumped between charged objects, correctly concluding that lightning was merely a massive electric spark. And he coined several electricity-related terms we still use today: "charging," "discharging," "conductor," and "battery," for instance.

But Franklin had yet to find a practical application for this exciting new phenomenon, which irked him greatly. To that end, he conceived of throwing an electricity-themed dinner party. "A turkey is to be killed for our dinner by the electric shock, and roasted by the electrical jack, before a fire kindled by the electrified bottle," Franklin wrote to Collinson. Guests would drink their wine from electrically charged glasses so they would receive a subtle shock with every sip.

It's not clear if Franklin ever hosted such an elaborate dinner party, but we do know that he experimented with electrocuting various fowl using six-gallon Leyden jars. A Leyden jar is basically a glass jar partially filled with water, with a conducting wire sticking out of its cork. The jar was charged by exposing the end of the wire to an electric spark generated by friction—created by, say, rotating a glass plate so that it rubbed against leather pads. There were no standard units of electricity back then, but modern estimates indicate that a pint-sized Leyden jar would have had the energy of about 1 joule.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 10, @03:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the sharks-with-frickin-swords-on-their-heads dept.

Submitted via IRC for carny

This Photo Proves How The Hellfire Missile That Uses Blades Instead Of Explosives Works

After the most recent known use of the AGM-114R9X Hellfire missile, a weapon that uses blades instead of explosives to kill its target with minimal collateral damage, literally smashing and slicing through them, evidence of exactly how the bizarre weapon works has come to light. Imagery from the scene of the attack, located less than 10 miles from where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in Syria, shows what appears to be the core of the weapon and its deadly appendages. It appears to be a gruesome, but stunningly effective device.

The image, seen at the top of this story, shows a thick central hub structure that would act as a penetrator with six swing-out skeletonized blades. Basically, anything in the radius of the blades would die.

[...] The payload area is roughly a foot and a half long and let's say the swords are roughly the same length, this would provide about a three and a half foot diameter kill zone, which is similar to what we see in the images of the vehicles that have been struck. It is the ultimate precision air-to-ground weapon—surgical both in metaphor and application.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday December 10, @01:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the DIY dept.

Submitted via IRC for chromas

Storing data in everyday objects

Life's assembly and operating instructions are in the form of DNA. That's not the case with inanimate objects: anyone wishing to 3-D print an object also requires a set of instructions. If they then choose to print that same object again years later, they need access to the original digital information. The object itself does not store the printing instructions.

Researchers at ETH Zurich have now collaborated with an Israeli scientist to develop a means of storing extensive information in almost any object. "With this method, we can integrate 3-D-printing instructions into an object so that after decades, or even centuries, it will be possible to obtain those instructions directly from the object itself," explains Robert Grass, Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences.

Several developments of the past few years have made this advance possible. One of them is Grass' method for marking products with a DNA "barcode" embedded in miniscule glass beads. These nanobeads are used in industry as tracers for geological tests or as markers for high-quality food products, thus distinguishing them from counterfeits using a relatively short barcode consisting of a 100-bit code. This technology has now been commercialized by ETH spin-off Haelixa.

It has become possible to store enormous data volumes in DNA. Grass's colleague Yaniv Erlich, an Israeli computer scientist, developed a method that theoretically makes it possible to store 215,000 terabytes of data in a single gram of DNA. And Grass himself was able to store an entire music album in DNA—the equivalent of 15 megabytes of data.

The two scientists have now wedded these methods into a new form of data storage, as they report in the journal Nature Biotechnology. They call the storage form DNA of Things, a takeoff on the so-called Internet of Things, in which objects are connected with information via the internet.

A DNA-of-things storage architecture to create materials with embedded memory, Nature Biotechnology (DOI: 10.1038/s41587-019-0356-z)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday December 09, @11:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the interesting-development dept.

Submitted via IRC for chromas

The Pirate Bay is Trialing High-Quality Video Streaming Links - TorrentFreak

Developments over the past few days indicate that The Pirate Bay may about to fully launch a brand new feature. In addition to traditional magnet links, many titles now feature a subtle 'B' button which allow users to stream movies and TV shows directly in the browser on a new site called BayStream.

The Pirate Bay is well known for its huge database of magnet links which allow users to download most types of content imaginable.

Over the past few days, however, the platform has been adding a brand new feature that will please those who prefer to access movies and TV shows instantly, rather than waiting for them to download.

As the image below shows, in addition to the familiar magnet and trusted uploader icons displayed alongside video and TV show releases, the site also features a small orange ‘B’ graphic.

In some cases (but currently not all), pressing these buttons when they appear next to a video release diverts users to a new platform called BayStream. Here, the chosen content can be streamed directly in the browser using a YouTube-style player interface.

Loading times appear swift when the content is actually available and as the screenshot below shows, the material appears to be sourced, at least in some cases, from torrent releases.

Original Submission