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Comments:34 | Votes:173

posted by janrinok on Saturday August 06, @07:36PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the careful-with-that-knife-MIRA dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

NASA recently awarded the University of Nebraska-Lincoln $100,000 through the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) at the University of Nebraska Omaha to ready the surgical robot for a 2024 test mission aboard the International Space Station.

"NASA has been a long-term supporter of this research and, as a culmination of that effort, our robot will have a chance to fly on the International Space Station," Farritor said.

[...] During the next year, Farritor and engineering graduate student Rachael Wagner will write software, configure MIRA to fit inside a space station experiment locker and exhaustively test the device to make sure it's robust enough to survive launch and its systems will perform as anticipated in space. Then, they will wait a year or so for the robot to get its turn aboard the station.

Wagner, who is from Lincoln, began working with Farritor as an undergraduate student and took a position with Virtual Incision after completing her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 2018. A second graduate student may join the team later in 2022.

MIRA has two key advantages. First, it can be inserted through a small incision, enabling doctors to perform abdominal surgery in a minimally invasive manner. In previous tests, surgeons have successfully used the device to perform colon resections.

Secondly, the technology could enable surgeons to work remotely—perhaps someday repairing an astronaut's ruptured appendix on a mission to Mars or removing shrapnel from a soldier injured by an IED thousands of miles distant. In a previous experiment, retired NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson took the robot's controls while at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, directing MIRA to perform surgery-like tasks in an operating room 900 miles away at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday August 06, @02:51PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I'd-like-an-ice-cream-machine-please dept.

An Anonymous Coward writes the following story:

I’ve long believed companies should offer workers a choice in the technology they use in the office and when working remote. Doing so lets employees use what they feel is the best choice of devices for their work, it can help attract and retain staff, it lessens the likelihood workers will go rogue and source their own technology (aka shadow IT), and it establishes a positive relationship between IT and the rest of an organization.

Companies like IBM and SAP have documented their experiences in moving to an employee-choice model and have declared it a success. But does that mean it would work for every company? And how do you decide which way to go?

The most important question in developing (or expanding) an employee-choice model is determining how much choice to allow. Offer too little and you risk undermining the effort's benefits. Offer too much and you risk a level of tech anarchy that can be as problematic as unfettered shadow IT. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Every organization has unique culture, requirements/expectations, and management capabilities. An approach that works in a marketing firm would differ from a healthcare provider, and a government agency would need a different approach than a startup.

Options also vary depending on the devices employees use — desktop computing and mobile often require differing approaches, particularly for companies that employ a BYOD program for smartphones.

Most employee-choice programs focus on desktops and laptops. The default choice is typically basic: do you want a Windows PC or a Mac? Most often, the choice only extends to the platform, not specific models (or in the case of PCs, a specific manufacturer). Keeping the focus on just two platforms eases administrative overhead and technical support requirements. It also allows companies to leverage volume purchases from one partner in order to receive bulk discounts.

Have you been allowed to choose your own technology and equipment at work? What were the choices offered to you and what restrictions were placed upon them?


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday August 06, @10:04AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the not-for-the-faint-hearted dept.

Data recoverers finally cracks the locked down Apple M1 chip:

Apple's highly secure M1 chip is a tough nut to crack, but it appears the experts at DriveSavers have finally done it. The company announced they "may be the first" to recover data from the M1 in a recent press release.

DriveSavers is confident in this because the company's engineers successfully transplanted an M1 chip from a faulty logic board to a functional one, which enables them to access the data.

It's quite a feat, particularly because the M1 has a lot of security measures preventing outside users from manually accessing the data. For one, the SSD controller — the component that controls the input/output of data on the drive — is housed in M1 itself. That means, if the SoC fails, the ability to access the drive goes with it. Combine that with the T2 security chip's encrypted data storage functionality, and it's clear to see that accessing an Apple SSD is no easy feat anymore.

Then, there's the logic board itself. As DriveSavers mentions in the press release: "There are thousands of surface-mounted micro-components on a logic board, and Apple has done their best to obfuscate what is necessary to gain access to the encrypted data. Without that knowledge, data recovery from a failed logic board is impossible."

So, in order to access the M1 SSD, the data engineers had to remove the SoC from the faulty logic board and reattach it to a functioning one, all while nailing every micro-component needed to allow the logic board and the system components to communicate. It no doubt took a lot of trial and error, but this is a big step for data recovery on Macs.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday August 06, @05:14AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the fine-and-Tandy dept.

Radio Shack's First PC: 45 Years of TRS-80:

45 years ago, Radio Shack released the TRS-80 Micro Computer System, a 1977 personal computer that launched an era of low-cost PCs along with computers from Apple and Commodore. Here's what was special about it.

On August 3, 1977, Radio Shack introduced the TRS-80 Micro Computer System for $599.95—about $2,904 today adjusted for inflation. This complete system included a main unit with a built-in keyboard, a cassette recorder, and a monochrome monitor. After the introduction of the Model II later, this first model became known as the TRS-80 Model I. In 1977, the TRS-80's $599.95 price was a big deal. To compare, the Apple II sold for $1298 with 4K of RAM (that's a whopping $6284 today), and it didn't include a monitor or a storage device.

But you always get what you pay for: The original TRS-80 was a fairly primitive machine. Under the hood, the TRS-80 utilized its Z-80 CPU at 1.77 MHz and included a mere 4 kilobytes (KB) of RAM. Its video could only display 64 columns and 16 rows of monochrome text (all uppercase) with no support for true bitmapped graphics (although by using a block-shaped text character, you could create a 128×48 pixel display). It also did not include any sound hardware, but many programs used a trick to output simple sounds through the cassette port.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday August 06, @12:34AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the fifty-ways-to-beat-your-scammer dept.

US Attorneys General will take legal action against telecom providers enabling robocalls:

The Attorneys General of all 50 states have joined forces in hopes of giving teeth to the seemingly never-ending fight against robocalls. North Carolina AG Josh Stein, Indiana AG Todd Rokita and Ohio AG Dave Yost are leading the formation of the new Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force. In Stein's announcement, he said the group will focus on taking legal action against telecoms, particularly gateway providers, allowing or turning a blind eye to foreign robocalls made to US numbers.

He explained that gateway providers routing foreign phone calls into the US telephone network have the responsibility under the law to ensure the traffic they're bringing in is legal. Stein said that they mostly aren't taking any action to keep robocalls out of the US phone network, though, and they're even intentionally allowing robocall traffic through in return for steady revenue in many cases.

Recently: FCC Orders Phone Carriers to Block Scammers Behind 8 Billion Robocalls.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday August 05, @08:13PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the one-that-is-missing-from-FatPhil's-collection dept.

400-year-old Ecuadoran beer resurrected from yeast:

Inside an old oak barrel, Ecuadoran bioengineer Javier Carvajal found the fungus of fortune: a 400-year-old yeast specimen that he has since managed to resurrect and use to reproduce what is believed to be Latin America's oldest beer.

That single-cell microorganism, taken from just a splinter of wood, was the key to recovering the formula for an elixir first brewed in Quito in 1566 by friar Jodoco Ricke, a Franciscan of Flemish origin who historians believe introduced wheat and barley to what is now the Ecuadoran capital.

"Not only have we recovered a biological treasure but also the 400-year-old work of silent domestication of a yeast that probably came from a chicha and that had been collected from the local environment," Carvajal told AFP.

Chicha is a fermented corn drink brewed by the Indigenous people of the Americas before Spanish colonization.

Carvajal, who already had experience recovering other yeasts, found out about the ancient Franciscan brewery in Quito while reading specialist beer magazines.

It took him a year to do so, but he finally managed to find a barrel from the old brewery in 2008.

It was stored in Quito's San Francisco Convent, an imposing three-hectare complex built between 1537 and 1680, which is now a museum.

After extracting a splinter, Carvajal used a microscope to find a tiny yeast specimen, which after a long period of cultivation he was able to resurrect.

[...] For Carvajal, resurrecting the yeast and the age-old methods used to make the ancient recipe was simply a labor of love for "the value of the intangible."


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday August 05, @05:30PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Porsche-electric-boogaloo dept.

Porsche's new companies are all about electric bikes:

In the future, you may come across a lot more two-wheeled Porsches on the streets. The luxury automaker has launched two new joint ventures with Dutch company Ponooc Investment B.V., and they're both all about electric bikes. Porsche eBike Performance GmbH is based in Ottobrunn near Munich and will develop components, including motors and batteries. Anything it creates will then be used by P2 eBike GmbH, the second joint venture based in Stuttgart, to manufacture Porsche-branded e-bikes for consumers that the company plyans to launch starting in the middle of the decade. 

Porsche is far from a newcomer in the e-bike space. In 2021, it debuted two electric bikes inspired by the Taycan and were made to complement the Cross Turismo, which has a rear carrier. Those bikes, however, along with their motors and gear shifting systems, were manufactured by Japanese bicycle industry giant Shimano. With one company developing parts and another working on the consumer bikes themselves, the upcoming products the joint ventures will release will be all (or at least mostly) Porsche.

The components business will use the e-bike drive systems develop by Fazua, a company Porsche recently acquired, as noted by Electrek. However, it will also develop e-bike systems under the Porsche brand name — it will even sell the technology it designs to other brands. As with anything Porsche, the bikes under the new ventures will most likely not come cheap: Its Taycan-inspired bikes, for instance, set buyers back at least $8,500 at launch, with the sports model selling for prices that start at $10,700.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday August 05, @02:42PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

North Korea-backed hackers have a clever way to read your Gmail:

Researchers have unearthed never-before-seen malware that hackers from North Korea have been using to surreptitiously read and download email and attachments from infected users' Gmail and AOL accounts.

The malware, dubbed SHARPEXT by researchers from security firm Volexity, uses clever means to install a browser extension for the Chrome and Edge browsers, Volexity reported in a blog post. The extension can't be detected by the email services, and since the browser has already been authenticated using any multifactor authentication protections in place, this increasingly popular security measure plays no role in reining in the account compromise.

The malware has been in use for "well over a year," Volexity said, and is the work of a hacking group the company tracks as SharpTongue. The group is sponsored by North Korea's government and overlaps with a group tracked as Kimsuky by other researchers. SHARPEXT is targeting organizations in the US, Europe, and South Korea that work on nuclear weapons and other issues North Korea deems important to its national security.

Volexity President Steven Adair said in an email that the extension gets installed "by way of spear phishing and social engineering where the victim is fooled into opening a malicious document. Previously we have seen DPRK threat actors launch spear phishing attacks where the entire objective was to get the victim to install a browser extension vs it being a post exploitation mechanism for persistence and data theft." In its current incarnation, the malware works only on Windows, but Adair said there's no reason it couldn't be broadened to infect browsers running on macOS or Linux, too.

The blog post added: "Volexity's own visibility shows the extension has been quite successful, as logs obtained by Volexity show the attacker was able to successfully steal thousands of emails from multiple victims through the malware's deployment."

Installing a browser extension during a phishing operation without the end-user noticing isn't easy. SHARPEXT developers have clearly paid attention to research like what's published here, here, and here, which shows how a security mechanism in the Chromium browser engine prevents malware from making changes to sensitive user settings. Each time a legitimate change is made, the browser takes a cryptographic hash of some of the code. At startup, the browser verifies the hashes, and if any of them don't match, the browser requests the old settings be restored.

[...] "When Volexity first encountered SHARPEXT, it seemed to be a tool in early development containing numerous bugs, an indication the tool was immature," the company said. "The latest updates and ongoing maintenance demonstrate the attacker is achieving its goals, finding value in continuing to refine it."


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday August 05, @11:52AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the has-anyone-seen-my-face? dept.

Who owns the rights to your face?:

Last year, I received an Instagram DM from someone I was friends with in college. It had been a couple years since we'd caught up: We lived in different cities, had pursued different careers and, of course, the pandemic had brought any plans of hanging out again to a standstill. I was surprised to see her name pop up on my screen but even more so by the contents of her message.

It was my face. Specifically, it was me in a sponsored Instagram Story ad, putting on a lip balm. In the video, I applied the balm and smiled at the camera, looking pleased with my newly moisturized lips. In real life, I was confused. I had never agreed to appear in a nationwide social campaign, otherwise my checking account would have a couple more zeroes to show for it. I worked in the media industry then, sourcing the right influencers to participate in sponsored articles. I've spent years casting with talent, negotiating contracts to ensure fair compensation and modest usage rights for influencers, models, and real people. Based on my experience, it was clear that my image was being exploited by a multibillion dollar brand.

Usage rights dictate who owns an image or asset, exactly how, where it's allowed to appear, and for how long: A video is pricier than a photo, one month costs more than one year, and you'd charge a global brand much more than what you'd charge a growing business. Depending on the talent, the scale of the client, and the length of the campaign, standard licensing of images on social media alone can cost anywhere from $250 to $20,000.

Despite this, anyone who has worked at a media company will tell you that employees are often pressured to serve as a stand-in or supplement to these influencers. However, these campaigns are not a part of the full-time job and likely go uncompensated.

[...] Generally speaking, we hold the copyright to any content we upload to social media platforms. However, when we create our accounts, we agree to grant those platforms a free license to use our content as they wish. Twitter's recent ad campaigns are a perfect example: the everyday thoughts of regular people are what fuel the platform, and the decision to feature those tweets in marketing has been widely applauded. But as a Twitter user myself, spotting my own words on the train ride home would feel great, until I remember that one month of subway ads can cost up to $75,000. But, based on the terms and conditions I agreed to, none of that money has to make its way to me.

Our content is even more valuable to brands, who are slowly narrowing in on the average social media user. Where large companies were once funneling most of their influencer marketing budget into one or two macro influencers with 500,000 followers or more, companies like HelloFresh and Canon are now prioritizing the niche audiences of micro- and nano-creators. Research shows that shoppers find smaller creators "more authentic" and brands have identified those creators as "less costly," making regular people a win-win for boosting sales.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday August 05, @09:11AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Robinhood is nearly $300 million down, lays off a quarter of its staff, and gets hit with $30 million fine:

What just happened? In a case of kicking someone when they're down, Robinhood, the company behind the popular investment app, has been hit with a $30 million fine just as it announced almost a quarter of its staff are being let go and a net loss of $295 million in Q2.

Starting with the staff-cut news, company CEO and co-founder Vlad Tenev announced that Robinhood would reduce its headcount by approximately 23% as part of a broader company reorganization into a General Manager structure.

Tenev said while all parts of the business will be affected, the main areas will be operations, marketing, and program management functions. The move comes just a few months after Robinhood laid off around 9% of its staff in April.

[...] But Robinhood's woes haven't ended there. New York's top financial regulator has fined the company's crypto unit $30 million for alleged violations of anti-money-laundering and cybersecurity regulations.

The Wall Street Journal writes that The New York State Department of Financial Services found significant failures in the company's management and oversight of its compliance programs. A supervisory exam and investigation found Robinhood's Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money-laundering compliance program was insufficiently staffed and failed to move from a manual monitoring system following the company's increase in size.

[...] In addition to the fine, Robinhood must retain an independent consultant to evaluate its actions in addressing the issues highlighted by the regulator.


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Friday August 05, @06:26AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the bolt-from-this-company dept.

Your EV discount might carry a steep legal cost:

Chevy offered rebates to Bolt EV owners who bought their cars just before a 2023 model price drop, but that discount comes with a large catch. Jalopnik and Autoblog note the rebate application requires that drivers "forever waive and release" their right to sue GM or LG over the Bolt's reported battery defect. You'd have to be content with the savings even if the car did serious damage, in other words. GM confirmed the agreement language with Engadget.

GM first recalled the Bolt in November 2020 after reports of battery fires between 2017 and 2019. The automaker tried addressing the issue with a software update in April 2021, but two subsequent fires and a second recall led the NHTSA to warn against parking indoors. That prompted a July 2021 recall where GM replaced the battery packs. The brand eventually recalled all manufactured Bolts, pledged an additional $1 billion for battery replacements and offered an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on substitute batteries.

Toasty!


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Friday August 05, @03:39AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the wheel-in-the-sky-keeps-on-turning dept.

Webb Captures Stellar Gymnastics in the Cartwheel Galaxy

The Cartwheel Galaxy, a rare ring galaxy once shrouded in dust and mystery, has been unveiled by the imaging capabilities of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.

The galaxy, which formed as a result of a collision between a large spiral galaxy and another smaller galaxy, not only retained a lot of its spiral character, but has also experienced massive changes throughout its structure.

Webb's high-precision instruments resolved individual stars and star-forming regions within the Cartwheel, and revealed the behavior of the black hole within its galactic center. These new details provide a renewed understanding of a galaxy in the midst of a slow transformation.

Image downloads. Cartwheel Galaxy.


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Friday August 05, @12:54AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the surprising-reactions dept.

Scientists discover new 'origins of life' chemical reactions:

Four billion years ago, the Earth looked very different than it does today, devoid of life and covered by a vast ocean. Over the course of millions of years, in that primordial soup, life emerged. Researchers have long theorized how molecules came together to spark this transition. Now, scientists at Scripps Research have discovered a new set of chemical reactions that use cyanide, ammonia and carbon dioxide—all thought to be common on the early earth—to generate amino acids and nucleic acids, the building blocks of proteins and DNA.

"We've come up with a new paradigm to explain this shift from prebiotic to biotic chemistry," says Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, Ph.D., an associate professor of chemistry at Scripps Research, and lead author of the new paper, published July 28, 2022 in the journal Nature Chemistry. "We think the kind of reactions we've described are probably what could have happened on early earth."

In addition to giving researchers insight into the chemistry of the early earth, the newly discovered chemical reactions are also useful in certain manufacturing processes, such as the generation of custom labeled biomolecules from inexpensive starting materials.

Earlier this year, Krishnamurthy's group showed how cyanide can enable the chemical reactions that turn prebiotic molecules and water into basic organic compounds required for life. Unlike previously proposed reactions, this one worked at room temperature and in a wide pH range. The researchers wondered whether, under the same conditions, there was a way to generate amino acids, more complex molecules that compose proteins in all known living cells.

[...] "We were expecting it to be quite difficult to figure this out, and it turned out to be even simpler than we had imagined," says Krishnamurthy. "If you mix only the keto acid, cyanide and ammonia, it just sits there. As soon as you add carbon dioxide, even trace amounts, the reaction picks up speed."

Because the new reaction is relatively similar to what occurs today inside cells—except for being driven by cyanide instead of a protein—it seems more likely to be the source of early life, rather than drastically different reactions, the researchers say. The research also helps bring together two sides of a long-standing debate about the importance of carbon dioxide to early life, concluding that carbon dioxide was key, but only in combination with other molecules.

Journal Reference:
Pulletikurti, Sunil, Yadav, Mahipal, Springsteen, Greg, et al. Prebiotic synthesis of α-amino acids and orotate from α-ketoacids potentiates transition to extant metabolic pathways, Nature Chemistry, 2022. DOI: 10.1038/s41557-022-00999-w


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday August 04, @10:08PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the build-it-and-the-government-contracts-will-come dept.

But the ISS isn't done yet — far from it, in fact:

The International Space Station (ISS) is entering its golden years, but activities aboard the orbiting lab aren't slowing down — just the opposite, in fact.

The ISS can't fly forever, however, and NASA officials envision a diverse market of commercial space stations taking its place as demand for access to low Earth orbit (LEO) continues to increase.

[...] Northrop Grumman, Axiom Space, Nanoracks and Sierra Space are all private companies with plans to construct their own space stations. NASA wants at least one of them to be on orbit before the ISS retires, a timeline the companies are targeting as well.

"The commercial LEO destination partners we are working with today have plans to be operational as early as 2027," Gatens said.

[...] Roberts expects a diverse availability of private space stations, unique in their designs and specialized in their abilities, saying, "Each of these commercial LEO destination companies, the four [Northrop Grumman, Axiom Space, Nanoracks and Sierra Space] are going to be looking at ways to address different needs from different consumers out there ... Each of those companies is likely to take slightly different approaches to designing and operating their stations. And that's going to have, I think, an extremely beneficial value."

Roberts sees a day when NASA is less invested in space stations and more invested in science aboard space stations. "While there needs to be continued strong support from governments, we at National Lab and NASA and other agencies are also working towards that day when they are purely commercial-driven, so that the consumer will drive what's accessible in space and what's needed there," he said. "And that ... will drive acceleration in the pace of discovery in that environment."

With over 20 years of expertise building and operating a space station, NASA is offering whatever insight it can to companies to utilize their on-orbit experience. "NASA is not dictating how that hardware is going to be built," said Costello, "but we do hope that you benefit from those lessons learned." He also points out the additional eight years of life the ISS still has ahead (provided the other partners officially endorse the 2030 timeline) and hopes the station's facilities continue to improve.

"We're looking at capabilities that we can enable on ISS, but with a mindset towards portability," Costello said, "to move those onto CLDs [commercial LEO destinations] in the future, so that we can continue the NASA research and the National Lab research that takes advantage of those research facilities on the ISS in a future program."


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday August 04, @07:21PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I-didn't-see-that-coming dept.

The recent swoon in cryptocurrency valuations "has directly impacted pricing of luxury watches from brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe," said the company, which is based in Karlsruhe, Germany, and has more than half a million watches listed for sale on its website...

At the same time, Stracke said trading volumes on the platform, which links dealers or private sellers with buyers, have jumped more than 50% in the first half of the year.

The price of a Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711A, which sells for about $35,000 at retail, surged to $240,000 in the first quarter, according to Chrono24. Now the blue-dialed steel sports watch is fetching about $190,000 [...]

But why the soaring demand in the first place? In addition to crypto and stock-market gains, stimulus cash bolstered the secondhand-timepiece market, one segment of the larger luxury-goods market, which includes handbags, designer sneakers and fine jewelry, among other high-cost items. Rampant inflation and the war in Ukraine contributed to their appeal, as buyers sought tangible stores of value.

  1. www.bloomberg.com
  2. finbold.com
  3. www.entrepreneur.com

Original Submission