2020-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2020-02-19 10:38:24 UTC
2020-02-19 17:38:36 UTC
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Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Andy Rubin's smartphone startup, Essential, is finally dead. Today, Essential announced in a blog post that it is closing its doors, saying that since it has "no clear path to deliver" its newest smartphone to customers, the company has "made the difficult decision to cease operations and shut down Essential."
Essential was Andy Rubin's next company after his previous gig at Google, where he lead the development of Android, taking the OS from nothing to the world's most popular operating system. Being "The Father of Android" meant venture capital firms would throw money at him when he left Google to form a new company. That company was Essential, where Andy Rubin jumped full time into smartphone hardware. The company was valued at $1.2 billion before it even sold a single product.
The company canceled a straightforward sequel to the Essential Phone in 2018. By 2019, it was teasing "Project Gem"—a super-skinny smartphone with the form factor of a TV remote, which seemed like it would lack compatibility with most smartphone apps on the market. With today's announcement, the Gem phone is dead, too.
In between canceling products, Essential was a non-stop catastrophe of bad PR. The Essential Phone was delayed from its original launch date, and when the time finally came to take payments and ship the phone, the company botched the launch. Essential sent out a bizarre payment-processing email to some customers asking then to send in their photo IDs over email, then it accidentally CC'd that personal information to several other customers who bought Essential Phones. The move was one of the worst first impressions of all time, and Rubin called the mistake "humiliating" in a blog post.
[...] Newton Mail, an email app Essential bought one year ago, will be shut down April 30. The Essential Phone's February security update is the last OS update the device will receive from Essential, though the company was nice enough to leave some code up on GitHub for the Android hacking community to produce further updates.
-- submitted from IRC
Reports are coming in that the Windows 10 KB4532693 cumulative update is loading an incorrect user profile and causing the user's desktop and Start Menu to be reset to default.
On February 11th, Microsoft released the Windows 10 v1909 and v1903 KB4532693 cumulative update as part of their February Patch Tuesday updates.
Since then, reports are starting to come in that after installing the update, some users state that their normal user profile is missing, their desktop files are missing, and everything was reset to default.
Here are links to some of these reports:
[...] The good news is that the update is not wiping your data, but rather renaming the original user profile in the C:\Users folder. If you are affected by this issue, you can look in C:\Users and see if you have a renamed profile ending in .000 or .bak.
Unfortunately, restoring a profile through Registry edits may be a very difficult and risky task for many people.
As some people stated that they could resolve the issue by restarting Windows a few times or uninstalling the KB4532693 update, it is safer to go down this route first if you are affected by this issue.
In an analysis of nearly 100 North Florida flocks, Florida Museum of Natural History researchers found similar bird species were significantly more likely to flock together than hunt alone, working as a group to stay safe from predators while cruising the canopy in search of insects. Species kept competition within the flock low, however, by differentiating their foraging technique, their choice of hunting spot or the general distance they kept from a tree trunk.
In other words, think of flock dynamics like a K-pop band, said study lead author Harrison Jones.
"You have to be similar enough to the other members to get along as a group but specialized in some way: There's the leader, the one who raps, the one who plays guitar," said Jones, a doctoral student in the University of Florida's department of biology. "It's the same with birds. They hang out together because they share things in common, but they can't share too much. If you're so similar that you're eating each other's lunch, then you have a serious problem."
North Florida's winter flocking community is "probably the most complex in North America," Jones said, featuring dozens of migratory species and a bevy of foraging opportunities. Still, the researchers were surprised to see how specialized the birds' foraging habits were—a feature more reminiscent of the Amazon than North America.
[...] Species that pick insects off live leaves and nab them in the air—the most common foraging techniques—were relatively abundant in mixed flocks. These included ruby-crowned kinglets, blue-gray gnatcatchers and pine warblers. But birds that hunt exclusively in harder-to-find material tended to be represented by a single member per flock. These specialists called repeatedly, as though to warn others of their kind "Hands off! This is my flock," Jones said.
[...] Mixed-species flocks only occur during winter, birds' non-breeding season. Finding enough food in colder months is vital for birds, which must strike the right balance between putting on sufficient body fat to survive the night while staying lean enough to make a quick escape from a predator, Jones said.
Hunting insects as a group can be a life-saver. Flock members rely on sentinel species, which also direct the flock's movements and pace, to sound the alarm if an owl or hawk swoops in. This allows the majority of birds in the flock to devote more attention to finding food. Traveling in numbers also lessens a bird's chance of being the unlucky victim if a predator attacks.
More information: Harrison H Jones et al, Do similar foragers flock together? Nonbreeding foraging behavior and its impact on mixed-species flocking associations in a subtropical region, The Auk (2020). DOI: 10.1093/auk/ukz079
Some research really is going to the birds.
As reported in Anandtech's excellent Threadripper 3990x review, the newest Threadripper is also pushing the boundaries of what the industry is prepared to consider a "desktop" in the first place. Windows 10 Professional chokes pretty badly when presented with TR3990x's 128 logical processors (threads) and organizes them as two CPU groups—which it even mistakenly refers to as multiple "sockets" in some places.
Windows 10 Pro's lack of support for so many threads on a single socket isn't just a funny-looking quirk. Under Windows 10 Pro, some benchmarks run twice as fast with hyperthreading disabled, just to keep the operating system from maladaptively grouping them into separate "sockets" that then get handled under NUMA rules. Keeping threads from crossing real physical processor boundaries is helpful, but it can be crippling when the actual boundary doesn't exist in the first place.
Ultimately, this means Windows 10 Pro isn't really appropriate for Threadripper 3990x at all—if you're building a 3990x system, you need to plan on a roughly $120 upgrade from Pro to Workstation or on paying the $84/year for a Windows 10 Enterprise subscription. Windows 10 Workstation and Enterprise both support TR3990x's 128 threads without resorting to organizing them in nonexistent sockets, and without the performance penalties associated.
None of this is a problem for Linux users. Although Intel's performance-optimized Clear Linux distribution outperforms normal "daily driver" distributions, it doesn't do so any more on the Threadripper 3990x than it does on a lowly quad-core Ryzen 5 3400G. If you want to run a 3900x on bone-stock Ubuntu, you can do so, and you'll be fine.
One of the interesting takeaways from my pre-launch briefing with AMD on the Ryzen Threadripper 3990X was AMD representatives actually recommending Clear Linux for use on this 64-core / 128-thread HEDT processor and the platform to which they've found the best performance. Yet, Clear Linux is an Intel open-source project. In any case, here are benchmarks of how Clear Linux performs against other Linux distributions on the Ryzen Threadripper 3990X within the System76 Thelio Major. And, holy crap, with the Threadripper 3990X on Clear Linux I managed to build the x86_64 default Linux kernel in under 20 seconds!
The Clear Linux recommendation for the Threadripper 3990X was hardly a surprise to me given my experience with the platform, just a bit surprising AMD representatives acknowledging the Intel open-source software creation during a briefing. We've been benchmarking Clear Linux for years and were the ones to initially shine the public spotlight on its impressive performance capabilities -- that includes for AMD platforms too with numerous tests on different platforms we've performed the past few years. Just recently were our benchmarks looking at how Clear Linux offered the best performance on a $199 AMD laptop while this testing is at the opposite end of the spectrum with the 64-core $3990 USD processor.
AMD's 64-Core Threadripper 3990X Reviewed
In a paper published today in Nature Communications, UNSW quantum computing researchers describe how they created artificial atoms in a silicon 'quantum dot', a tiny space in a quantum circuit where electrons are used as qubits (or quantum bits), the basic units of quantum information.
Scientia Professor Andrew Dzurak explains that unlike a real atom, an artificial atom has no nucleus, but it still has shells of electrons whizzing around the centre of the device, rather than around the atom's nucleus.
[...] [Ph.D. student Ross] Leon, who ran the experiments, says the researchers were interested in what happened when an extra electron began to populate a new outer shell. In the periodic table, the elements with just one electron in their outer shells include Hydrogen and the metals Lithium, Sodium and Potassium.
"When we create the equivalent of Hydrogen, Lithium and Sodium in the quantum dot, we are basically able to use that lone electron on the outer shell as a qubit," Ross says.
"Up until now, imperfections in silicon devices at the atomic level have disrupted the way qubits behave, leading to unreliable operation and errors. But it seems that the extra electrons in the inner shells act like a 'primer' on the imperfect surface of the quantum dot, smoothing things out and giving stability to the electron in the outer shell."
[...] It is the spin of an electron that we use to encode the value of the qubit, explains Professor Dzurak.
[...] "When the electrons in either a real atom, or our artificial atoms, form a complete shell, they align their poles in opposite directions so that the total spin of the system is zero, making them useless as a qubit. But when we add one more electron to start a new shell, this extra electron has a spin that we can now use as a qubit again.
"Our new work shows that we can control the spin of electrons in the outer shells of these artificial atoms to give us reliable and stable qubits.
Leon, R.C.C., Yang, C.H., Hwang, J.C.C. et al. "Coherent spin control of s-, p-, d- and f-electrons in a silicon quantum dot." Nat Commun 11, 797 (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-14053-w
Uber and Postmates won't be getting the reprieve they were hoping for from a new California gig worker law. A federal judge denied their request to put a temporary stop to AB 5 while a lawsuit they filed against the state works its way through the courts. This means both companies are still beholden to the law, which could force them to reclassify their drivers as employees.
"The court does not doubt the sincerity of these individuals' views, but it cannot second guess the legislature's choice to enact a law that seeks to uplift the conditions of the majority of nonexempt low income workers," US District Judge Dolly M. Gee wrote in a 24-page ruling on Monday. "The balance of equities and the public interest weigh in favor of permitting the state to enforce this legislation."
AB 5 boils down to worker classification. Currently, most workers for gig economy companies, like Uber, Lyft, Postmates and DoorDash, are classified as independent contractors. While that classification can mean increased flexibility for workers, it can also mean those drivers are shouldering many of the costs of their employers. Uber drivers, for example, pay for their own car, phone, gas and vehicle maintenance. They also don't get basic benefits, such as minimum wage guarantees, overtime pay and health insurance.
Under AB 5, which went into effect on Jan. 1, all companies using independent contractors in California will be put to a three-part test to determine whether they must reclassify their workers. If they don't pass that test, they'll have to turn their workers into employees.
In late 2019, researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC) caught the attention of the high-performance computing community and top commercial cloud providers by successfully completing a bold experiment that marshalled all globally available-for-sale GPUs (graphics processing units) for a brief run which proved it is possible to elastically burst to very large scales of GPUs using the cloud, even in this pre-exascale era of computing.
[...] Fast forward to early February 4, 2020, when the same research team conducted a second experiment with a fraction of the remaining funding left over from a modest National Science Foundation EAGER grant.
[...] "We drew several key conclusions from this second demonstration," said SDSC's Sfiligoi. "We showed that the cloudburst run can actually be sustained during an entire workday instead of just one or two hours, and have moreover measured the cost of using only the two most cost-effective cloud instances for each cloud provider."
The team managed to reach and sustain a plateau of about 15,000 GPUs, or 170 PFLOP32s (i.e. fp32 PFLOPS[*]) using the peak fp32 FLOPS provided by NVIDIA specs. The cloud instances were provisioned from all major geographical areas, and the total integrated compute time was just over one fp32 exaFLOP[*] hour. The total cost of the cloud run was roughly $60,000.
[*] fp32 (floating point, 32-bit operands aka single precision)
FLOPS: Floating-point OPerations per Second
PFLOPS; Petaflops 1015 (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000,000) floating point operations per second.
exaFLOPS; 1018 (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000) floating point operations per second.
Disclaimer: The original story was apparently submitted by a participant in the research.
A newly created unit at Reuters will fact-check user-generated photos, videos, headlines and other content for Facebook's U.S. audience in both English and Spanish, the news agency said in a statement. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Facebook works with seven other fact-checking partners in the United States, including Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.
Back in the day when Facebook had six fact-check partners, The Hill wrote:
Together, Facebook's six partners have 26 full-time staff and fact-checked roughly 200 pieces of content per month.
Experts who spoke to The Hill said those changes were insufficient to make a serious dent in the fake accounts and disinformation they say are rampant on Facebook.
[...] "Just the scale of the company itself makes responsible fact-checking pretty difficult, even if they were invested in doing it," Sarah Miller, co-chairwoman of Freedom from Facebook, a coalition of progressive groups calling for breaking up the company.
Facebook has also been criticized for not subjecting posts from political figures to fact-checks.
[...] Miller told The Hill that fact-checking is a distraction from the problem of microtargeting ads, which allow "any bad actor" to "target users with propaganda or scam content."
Traditional journalism has been struggling financially. Perhaps the role of social-media fact-checker will be profitable.
With Windows 7 in its support coffin, some institutions are finally giving up on Windows entirely. The biggest of these may be the South Korean government. In May 2019, South Korea's Interior Ministry announced plans to look into switching to the Linux desktop from Windows. It must have liked what it saw. According to the Korean news site Newsis, the South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Planning has announced the government is exploring moving most of its approximately 3.3 million Windows computers to Linux.
[...] The reason for this is simple. It's to reduce software licensing costs and the government's reliance on Windows. As Choi Jang-hyuk, the head of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, said, "We will resolve our dependency on a single company while reducing the budget by introducing an open-source operating system."
How much? South Korean officials said it would cost 780 billion won (about $655 million) to move government PCs from Windows 7 to Windows 10.
[...] Windows will still have a role to play for now on South Korean government computers. As the Aju Business Daily, a South Korean business news site, explained: Government officials currently use two physical, air-gapped PCs. One is external for internet use, and the other is internal for intranet tasks. Only the external one will use a Linux-based distro.
Eventually, by 2026, most civil servants will use a single Windows-powered laptop. On that system, Windows will continue to be used for internal work, while Linux will be used as a virtual desktop via a Linux-powered cloud server. This looks to eventually end up as a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) model.
Another reason might be if you don't trust the government of Windows' country of origin.
There have been stories of big moves from Windows to Linux for years. Do any Soylentils know of Linux deployments replacing Windows that have occurred and still remain in effect?
The construction of HS2, a high speed rail link between London and the north of England, has been approved. The announcement was made by Boris Johnson yesterday. Phase 1, due for completion in 2028 at the earliest, will be between London and Birmingham; Phase 2, due in 2035 at the earliest, will be two separate lines onwards to Manchester and Leeds.
The trains will travel at up to 250 mph. They will otherwise be conventional, and will take electrical power from overhead catenary. The line will have connections with existing ones, enabling some trains to continue at lower speeds to further destinations, such as Liverpool and Scotland.
The routes will be broadly parallel with existing ones, which are generally running at full capacity. Rail passenger travel in the UK has greatly increased in recent years and this, rather than the reduction in journey times, is the main driver for the project.
Note : It is called HS2 because it is the second high speed line in the UK, HS1 being the link from St. Pancras International railway station in central London to the Channel Tunnel.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
NASA and SpaceX are closing in on the first launch of humans into orbit from US soil since 2011, when the space shuttle made its final flight.
Although the space agency has not yet said so publicly, NASA is working toward a May 7 launch of a Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station.
Asked Monday about the early May launch date, the director of Johnson Space Center, Mark Geyer, said it is tentative and that no final decisions have been made. The International Space Station and Commercial Crew programs are continuing to consult with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the agency's chief of human spaceflight, Doug Loverro. "That's the target the two programs have agreed is reasonable, but we're still confirming with Jim and Doug really when we think we're going to launch," he said.
It's therefore possible that the Crew Dragon mission could launch any time from the second half of April through June.
[...]The Dragon spacecraft for the crew mission will arrive at Kennedy Space Center this month and is essentially ready to go aside from a few minor issues. Loverro said as much on Monday during a visit to Johnson Space Center.
"We have some subsystems that are in the vehicle that we think might need to be re-engineered with different kinds of metal, we have a tungsten incompatibility in one of the areas that we want to replace with different kinds of tubing," he said. "It's not major, but it's something that has to be done along the way."
NASA and SpaceX are also in final discussions about additional parachute tests to certify that system for flight. It's likely that SpaceX will conduct two additional tests of brand-new parachutes in the coming weeks to satisfy NASA's needs.
Mostly, however, Loverro said NASA needs to complete its analysis of data from Dragon's successful In-Flight Abort test in January and then complete paperwork for the mission.
Video discussed in the story is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oglnV2P_QBI (in Korean).
A special TV documentary that depicted the tearful reunion of a sorrow-stricken mother and her daughter, who died of a rare incurable disease at the age of seven, in the virtual world has touched the hearts of many viewers in South Korea.
"Maybe it's a real paradise," Jang Ji-sung, the mother of four children, said of the moment she met her deceased daughter, Nayeon. "I met Nayeon, who called me with a smile, for a very short time, but it's a very happy time. I think I've had the dream I've always wanted."
The MBC documentary titled "I Met You" aired on February 6. For eight months, the production team has used VR technology to implement Nayeon's face, body, and voice. The reunion took place in a park with memories of Jang and her daughter. The motion of a child model was recorded as motion capture and implemented on the monitor to reproduce the scene at a VR studio.
Nayeon, the third of Jang's children, passed away in 2016. The mother engraved Nayeon's name and birthday on her body to remember her daughter forever. Wearing a necklace with Nayeon's bone powder, she visits a charnel house once a month.
As a white butterfly flew and sat in one place, the sound of Nayeon's song was heard. Jang burst into tears when her daughter ran with the cry of "Mom" and said, "Where have you been, Mom? Did you think about me?"
Jang responded with a doleful voice, "I do all the time." As her daughter said, "I missed mom a lot," Jang replied, "I missed you, too." The mother was cautious to reach out to touch her daughter before Nayeon insisted, "mom, please hold my hand." Jang finally held her daughter's hand in her's with tears streaming down her face. Nayeon's father, brother and sister watched the encounter they've dreamed of at the side of the virtual stage, also crying.
Submitting without comment - I'll leave my comments in the comments -- FP
People have certain expectations when they buy a car. For example, they expect it to work for years afterwards needing only basic maintenance. They also expect that the purchase price includes ownership of not only the physical car itself but all the software that runs it.
Tesla doesn't agree.
Last week, Jalopnik ran an article about a person who bought a used Tesla from a dealer—who in turn bought it at auction directly from Tesla under California's lemon law buyback program—advertised as having Autopilot, the company's Advanced Driver Assistance System. The entire Autopilot package, which the car had when the dealer bought it, costs an extra $8,000. Then, Tesla remotely removed the software because "Full-Self Driving was not a feature that you had paid for." Tesla said if the customer wanted Autopilot back, he'd have to fork over the $8,000.
Tesla clawing back software upgrades from used cars is not a new practice for the company. "Tesla as a policy has been doing this for years on salvage cars," said Phil Sadow, an independent Tesla repair professional. One former employee, who used to work in an official Tesla service center and asked to remain anonymous because he still works with Tesla in another capacity, said he was told to put the software features back if people complained to avoid bad publicity. He left about a year ago.
But that doesn't mean Tesla owners are helpless. Sadow and others have ways to push back against Tesla by jailbreaking the cars and getting the features owners feel are rightfully theirs.
"As far as I am concerned removing a paid-for feature, regardless of the state of the car, is theft," Sadow said. "It's as if a bunch of guys show up in a van and take your upgraded 20" wheels. Just because it's software, it's no different."
SpaceX is only a couple of months away from its first attempt at launching astronauts and the company has brought in one of the foremost experts in human spaceflight to help it do so successfully.
William Gerstenmaier, the former leader of NASA's human spaceflight program, has now begun working at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, people familiar with his hiring told CNBC. In his new role Gerstenmaier is reporting to SpaceX vice president of mission assurance Hans Koenigsmann, those people said, as the company prepares to begin launching astronauts.
A SpaceX spokesperson confirmed that Gerstenmaier is a consultant for the company's reliability engineering team.
Previously Gerstenmaier served as the NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations for nearly 14 years. In total he had a four decade career with NASA, working on programs ranging from the Space Shuttle to the International Space Station. Gerstenmaier is widely considered one of the world's top specialists in flying humans in space, frequently testifying before Congress on the subject.
SpaceX has confirmed that NASA's former chief of human spaceflight, William Gerstenmaier, has joined the company as a consultant as it prepares to launch astronauts for the first time.
[...] He immediately brings credibility to the company's safety culture. Former Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale, who now chairs the human spaceflight committee of NASA's Advisory Council, told Ars last summer, "Bill was recognized by everybody as being technically well-grounded and very astute. He was known to listen carefully and to make his judgments based on good technical reasons."
[...] In his new position, Gerstenmaier is reporting to Hans Koenigsmann, the vice president of Mission Assurance at SpaceX. Although the role is officially a consultancy, it is expected to become a full-time position. SpaceX is poised to launch the first crewed mission of its Dragon spacecraft by June of this year. Gerstenmaier will play a key role in ensuring the safety of those missions and helping SpaceX secure certification for the Crew Dragon vehicle.
[...] Gerstenmaier and SpaceX have a complicated relationship, but he has supported Elon Musk at key moments during the company's development. In December 2008, Gerstenmaier saved a cash-strapped SpaceX with a Commercial Resupply Service contract for operational cargo missions to the International Space Station.
Gerstenmaier's decision to maintain two competitors as part of the commercial crew program in 2014 (SpaceX and Boeing) was also essential, although it was not a company-saving move. Boeing was lobbying hard for all of the funds and very nearly got them. Gerstenmaier was the deciding official who kept two providers in the competition. It has proven to be a smart decision, as SpaceX is poised to beat Boeing into space by months, if not years, at 50 percent less cost.
With Gerstenmaier Gone, Decision to Fly NASA Astronauts May be More Contentious
New Head of Human Exploration at NASA Committed to Reaching the Moon by 2024
NASA Chief Says a Falcon Heavy Rocket Could Fly Humans to the Moon
2020s to Become the Decade of Lunar Re-Exploration
NASA's Chief of Human Spaceflight Rules Out Use of Falcon Heavy for Lunar Station
Each year, the GSMA (GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) Association) holds three MWC (Mobile World Congress) events. The next is MWC Barcelona and is scheduled for 24-27 February 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. The next event scheduled for this year is MWC Shanghai 2020, scheduled for 30 June - 2 July 2020 in Shanghai, China. And rounding out 2020 is the last event, MWC Los Angeles, California on 28-30 October 2020.
Since 2011, MWC Barcelona has been known as the GSMA Mobile World Capital. It is the oldest and largest of the MWC series, so some of the largest mobile product announcements occur at this event. The 2018 event attracted attendees around the world. Approximately half of the attendees hold senior positions in their firms. In other words, in the mobile market, MWC Barcelona is a "Really Big Deal."
That was all history. The recent outbreak of the 2019-nCoV Coronovirus has made quite a stir worldwide. Major players in the mobile arena are concerned about sending their representatives to a venue with approximately 100,000 attendees drawn from all around the world.
Major companies in the mobile space have recently announced plans to either skip MWC Barcelona entirely or, in some cases, make presentations remotely. These include: including Intel, TCL, Sony, Amazon, Samsung, Nvidia, Ericsson Vivo, and MediaTek among many others.
[...] It will be "interesting" to see what the follow-on effects will be from the reduced attendance. The June MWC is scheduled for Shanghai (a major city in China - the country that is the apparent source of the 2019-nCov coronoavirus and imposing major quarantines trying to stem its spread). Thus, unless 2019-nCoV is brought under control in record time, things do not look good for those who were diverted from Barcelona to look forward to making up the difference 4 months later. That leaves waiting for MWC LA at the end of October, or making more one-on-one connections to work out buying and selling decisions.
[Editors' Note: The World Health Organisation has formally renamed the virus to COVID-19]
For those who are interested in more details on these vendors plans, here are a baker's dozen links expanding on this: