Linux fréttir

Bay Area Group Pushes $1,000 Universal Basic Income For Everyone

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-03-29 17:34
"Gisele Huff is convinced universal basic income is finally having its moment," reports the Bay Area newsgroup, describing the 84-year-old president of a nonprofit promoting universal basic incomes to honor their recently-deceased son, a Tesla software engineer: While Huff's organization is only a few years old, it has already made its mark in the Bay Area. Santa Clara County's Board of Supervisors is considering a pilot program that would provide youth exiting foster care with a basic $1,000 monthly income. If approved later this year, the program would likely be the first of its kind in the nation... Q: Different people have different ideas about what exactly UBI should look like. What's yours? A: It would be $1,000 a month and it runs like social security. It's an automatic system. All you need is a bank account. So UBI is a direct payment to your bank account on a monthly basis. It has no requirements. When you're 18 it starts and it goes on until you die. Q: And everyone would get the same amount? Including the wealthiest households? A: Yes. For the people who are wealthy, it will disappear because $1,000 doesn't mean anything. But it will mean the world for the people who are so marginalized now, like foster kids or abused women who can't leave a situation because they don't have a dime to their name. It is a huge incentive for people to move on, to do things, take risks that they would not do before. Q: Some critics of UBI say that it could incentivize people not to work, because no matter what they do they will get a monthly paycheck. What is your response? A: If you have a job, you're not going to stop working for $1,000 a month. What you're going to do is you're going to tell your boss: "No, I'm not doing this because it's not acceptable and I have $1,000 dollars that I can use for the next two months until I find a better job." So if you want that job done as a boss, you're going to have to improve the conditions or the pay...." Q: And your son was concerned about those same issues? How did he come to his perspective on UBI? A: Gerald was the software engineer for the Model 3 Tesla. So he has been a techie all of his life and what really spurred him on to look into this in a deeper way was his fear of technological unemployment. The robots are coming. And the potential of that technology is what Gerald was aware of — it's immense.

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Remote City Council Meeting Interrupted By Pornographic Videos

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-03-29 16:34
Friday's first-ever remote meeting for the Los Angeles City Council had to shut down for 20 minutes because of pranksters posting "pornographic videos". The Los Angeles Daily News has the story: Council President Nury Martinez called a recess about an hour into the meeting, which is centered around a Los Angeles-centric relief package for workers, renters and homeless people during the public health crisis. She said there were "inappropriate videos" being posted. Soon afterward, city officials' voices could be heard discussing turning peoples' video capabilities off on the channel. The reporter posted on Twitter that the meeting faced other challenges. "Councilman Joe Buscaino just yelled at his kids to be quiet." ("Maybe it's past Joe's bedtime," joked an assistant news editor.) The meeting ran on for nearly 11 hours, and by the end just six people remained in Zoom's meeting room. "Seven people on the 15-member City Council voted to ban all evictions in Los Angeles, with 6 against. But that was not enough to pass the ban. They needed 8 votes."

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Whatever Happened to Ashley Madison? Affairs in the Time of Coronavirus

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-03-29 15:34
An anonymous reader quotes VentureBeat: Ashley Madison's tagline has taken on a new ring amid the COVID-19 pandemic — "Life's short. Have an affair." And the "married dating" site, used to conduct clandestine affairs, has found itself in the midst of a boom. Despite the fact that it's harder than ever to physically meet up with a fellow cheater, Ashley Madison is seeing a surge in users. Some are just looking to chat with someone other than a spouse, some are seeking emotional validation or the fantasy of pursuing a secret sex life... The company became a household name in July 2015, when hackers stole data on 32 million cheating spouses. The leak of sensitive data led to spouses discovering that their significant others were cheating. Divorces, breakups, and suicides ensued. The hackers also exposed that Ashley Madison used bots posing as attractive young women to lure men into engaging more with the site. The company says it has since beefed up its security and rid itself of the bots. And now it's more than double the size it was at the time of the hack, with over 65 million members last year. During 2019, the company added 15,500 new members a day. More recently, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been adding 17,000 new members a day. Its chief strategy officer tells them that after their massive data breach "we were signing up more than 100,000 people a day... [W]e also saw revenues jump during that small time frame." (And the site also acquired "a whole new security team...") Interestingly, he also says Facebook won't allow them to buy ads, which seems especially anticompetitive since Facebook runs its own dating site. "They block us but let other dating platforms advertise... We have had multiple conversations with them, and no, it's a fruitless conversation, unfortunately... This is part of the problem with Facebook, in general, in that they get to pick and choose which companies are going to advertise on the second-largest, if not the largest, digital advertising platform in the world. We question the validity of that."

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Zoom Removes Code That Sends Data to Facebook

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-03-29 14:41
An anonymous reader quotes Motherboard: On Friday video-conferencing software Zoom issued an update to its iOS app which stops it sending certain pieces of data to Facebook. The move comes after a Motherboard analysis of the app found it sent information such as when a user opened the app, their timezone, city, and device details to the social network giant. When Motherboard analyzed the app, Zoom's privacy policy did not make the data transfer to Facebook clear. "Zoom takes its users' privacy extremely seriously. We originally implemented the 'Login with Facebook' feature using the Facebook SDK in order to provide our users with another convenient way to access our platform. However, we were recently made aware that the Facebook SDK was collecting unnecessary device data," Zoom told Motherboard in a statement on Friday.... "We sincerely apologize for this oversight, and remain firmly committed to the protection of our users' data," Zoom's statement concluded.

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Astronomers Have Finally Found the Edge of the Milky Way

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-03-29 13:34
Iwastheone quotes Science News: Astronomers have long known that the brightest part of the Milky Way, the pancake-shaped disk of stars that houses the sun, is some 120,000 light-years across. Beyond this stellar disk is a disk of gas. A vast halo of dark matter, presumably full of invisible particles, engulfs both disks and stretches far beyond them. But because the dark halo emits no light, its diameter is hard to measure. Now, Alis Deason, an astrophysicist at Durham University in England, and her colleagues have used nearby galaxies to locate the Milky Way's edge... To find the Milky Way's edge, Deason's team conducted computer simulations of how giant galaxies like the Milky Way form. In particular, the scientists sought cases where two giant galaxies arose side by side, like the Milky Way and Andromeda, our nearest giant neighbor, because each galaxy's gravity tugs on the other. The simulations showed that just beyond the edge of a giant galaxy's dark halo, the velocities of small nearby galaxies drop sharply. Using existing telescope observations, Deason and her colleagues found a similar plunge in the speeds of small galaxies near the Milky Way. This occurred at a distance of about 950,000 light-years from the Milky Way's center, marking the galaxy's edge, the scientists say.

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US Officials Use Mobile Ad Location Data to Study How COVID-19 Spreads

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-03-29 10:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Wall Street Journal: Government officials across the U.S. are using location data from millions of cellphones in a bid to better understand the movements of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic and how they may be affecting the spread of the disease... The data comes from the mobile advertising industry rather than cellphone carriers. The aim is to create a portal for federal, state and local officials that contains geolocation data in what could be as many as 500 cities across the U.S., one of the people said, to help plan the epidemic response... It shows which retail establishments, parks and other public spaces are still drawing crowds that could risk accelerating the transmission of the virus, according to people familiar with the matter... The data can also reveal general levels of compliance with stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, according to experts inside and outside government, and help measure the pandemic's economic impact by revealing the drop-off in retail customers at stores, decreases in automobile miles driven and other economic metrics. The CDC has started to get analyses based on location data through through an ad hoc coalition of tech companies and data providers — all working in conjunction with the White House and others in government, people said. The CDC and the White House didn't respond to requests for comment. It's the cellphone carriers turning over pandemic-fighting data in Germany, Austria, Spain, Belgium, the U.K., according to the article, while Israel mapped infections using its intelligence agencies' antiterrorism phone-tracking. But so far in the U.S., "the data being used has largely been drawn from the advertising industry. "The mobile marketing industry has billions of geographic data points on hundreds of millions of U.S. cell mobile devices..."

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Should Students Still Be Graded In the Time of Covid-19?

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-03-29 07:34
theodp writes: The LA Times reports that controversies over grading are roiling universities and colleges, as the coronavirus outbreak prompted them to shift to online learning and send most students home to disparate circumstances. Some students and faculty believe that normal grading practices during these times are deeply unfair, while others feel students should be able to choose between a letter grade or pass/fail, arguing that earning high marks can distinguish them for jobs, scholarships or graduate school. At Harvard, all undergraduates will receive grades of either "Emergency Satisfactory" or "Emergency Unsatisfactory" in their spring classes. Faculty may supplement this terminology with a "qualitative assessment of student learning." The coronavirus situation has also prompted grading changes at the high school level. The College Board announced that all AP exams will be streamlined and only include questions on material covered thru early March. Students taking the AP Computer Science Principles course will not even be subjected to an AP exam in 2020 but can still earn college credit.

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NYT Investigates America's 'Lost Month' for Coronavirus Testing

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-03-29 04:41
The New York Times interviewed over 50 current and former U.S. health officials, senior scientists, company executives, and administration officials to investigate America's "lost month" without widespread coronavirus testing, "when the world's richest country — armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists — squandered its best chance of containing the virus's spread." With capacity so limited, the Center for Disease Control's criteria for who was tested remained extremely narrow for weeks to come: only people who had recently traveled to China or had been in contact with someone who had the virus. The lack of tests in the states also meant local public health officials could not use another essential epidemiological tool: surveillance testing. To see where the virus might be hiding, nasal swab samples from people screened for the common flu would also be checked for the coronavirus... Even though researchers around the country quickly began creating tests that could diagnose Covid-19, many said they were hindered by the Food and Drug Administration's approval process. The new tests sat unused at labs around the country. Stanford was one of them. Researchers at the world-renowned university had a working test by February, based on protocols published by the World Health Organization.... By early March, after federal officials finally announced changes to expand testing, it was too late. With the early lapses, containment was no longer an option. The tool kit of epidemiology would shift — lockdowns, social disruption, intensive medical treatment — in hopes of mitigating the harm. Now, the United States has more than 100,000 coronavirus cases, the most of any country in the world... And still, many Americans sickened by the virus cannot get tested... In tacit acknowledgment of the shortage, Mr. Trump asked South Korea's president on Monday to send as many test kits as possible from the 100,000 produced there daily, more than the country needs. Public health experts reacted positively to the increased capacity. But having the ability to diagnose the disease three months after it was first disclosed by China does little to address why the United States was unable to do so sooner, when it might have helped reduce the toll of the pandemic.

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Microsoft reveals 775 percent Azure surge, quotas on some resources and ‘significant new capacity’ coming ASAP

TheRegister - Sun, 2020-03-29 03:15
Admits to ongoing provisioning problems but insists no capacity crunch even as it drops freebies

Microsoft has revealed “a 775 percent increase of our cloud services in regions that have enforced social distancing or shelter in place orders” and is “expediting the addition of significant new capacity that will be available in the weeks ahead”, but has already imposed some quotas to cope with huge demand for its cloud.…

Categories: Linux fréttir

Infosys fires employee who Facebooked ‘let’s hold hands and share coronavirus’

TheRegister - Sun, 2020-03-29 02:47
This is clearly not the time to test your company's social media policy, because that's what was used to let him go

Infosys has fired an employee who reportedly used his Facebook account to suggest wilfully spreading coronavirus.…

Categories: Linux fréttir

One Woman Can Smell Parkinson's Disease Before Symptoms Manifest

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-03-29 01:46
"For most of her life, Joy Milne had a superpower that she was totally oblivious to," reports NPR. Long-time Slashdot reader doug141 explains what happened next: Milne's husband's natural odor changed when he was 31. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's at 45. When Joy walked into a Parkinson's support group, she smelled the same odor on everybody. A Parkinson's researcher tested her with blind samples from early stage patients, late-stage patients, and controls... NPR tells the story of that test, which took place at the University of Edinburgh with a Parkinson's researcher named Tilo Kunath: [O]ut of all the samples, Joy made only one mistake. She identified a man in the control group, the group without Parkinson's, as having the disease. But many months later, Kunath says, that man actually approached him at an event and said, "Tilo, you're going to have to put me in the Parkinson's pile because I've just been diagnosed." It was incontrovertible: Joy not only could smell Parkinson's but could smell it even in the absence of its typical medical presentation. Kunath and fellow scientists published their work in ACS Central Science in March 2019, listing Joy as a co-author. Their research identified certain specific compounds that may contribute to the smell that Joy noticed on her husband and other Parkinson's patients. Joy and her super smelling abilities have opened up a whole new realm of research, Kunath says... Joy's superpower is so unusual that researchers all over the world have started working with her and have discovered that she can identify several kinds of illnesses — tuberculosis, Alzheimer's disease, cancer and diabetes. Kunath says the ultimate goal is developing a new tool that can detect detect Parkinson's early. "Imagine a society where you could detect such a devastating condition before it's causing problems and then prevent the problems from even occurring."

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Cringely Predicts 2020 Will See 'the Death of IT'

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-28 23:51
Long-time technology pundit Robert Cringely writes: IT — Information Technology — grew out of something we called MIS — Management Information Systems — but both meant a kid in a white shirt who brought you a new keyboard when yours broke. Well, the kid is now gone, sent home with everyone else, and that kid isn't coming back... ever. IT is near death, fading by the day. But don't blame COVID-19 because the death of IT was inevitable. This novel coronavirus just made it happen a little quicker... Amazon has been replacing all of our keyboards for some time now, along with our mice and our failed cables, and even entire PCs. IT has been changing steadily from kids taking elevators up from the sub-basement to Amazon Prime trucks rolling-up to your mailbox. At the same time, our network providers have been working to limit their truck rolls entirely. Stop by the Comcast storefront to get your cable modem, because nobody is going to come to install it if you aren't the first person living there to have cable... Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) extends both the network and a security model end-to-end over any network including 4G or 5G wireless. Some folks will run their applications in their end device, whether it is a PC, phone, tablet, whatever, and some will run their applications in the same cloud as SASE, in which case everything will be that much faster and more secure. That's end end-game if there is one — everything in the cloud with your device strictly for input and output, painting screens compressed with HTML5. It's the end of IT because your device will no longer contain anything so it can be simply replaced via Amazon if it is damaged or lost, with the IT kid in the white shirt becoming an Uber driver. Since COVID-19 is trapping us in our homes it is forcing this transition to happen faster than it might have. But it was always going to happen.

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Working From Home Hasn't Broken the Internet

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-28 22:51
sixoh1 shared this story from the Wall Street Journal: Home internet and wireless connectivity in the U.S. have largely withstood unprecedented demands as more Americans work and learn remotely. Broadband and wireless service providers say traffic has jumped in residential areas at times of the day when families would typically head to offices and schools. Still, that surge in usage hasn't yet resulted in widespread outages or unusually long service disruptions, industry executives and analysts say. That is because the biggest increases in usage are happening during normally fallow periods. Some service providers have joked that internet usage during the pandemic doesn't compare to the Super Bowl or season finale of the popular HBO show "Game of Thrones" in terms of strain on their networks, Evan Swarztrauber, senior policy adviser to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said this week on a call hosted by consulting company Recon Analytics Inc.Broadband consumption during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m . has risen by more than 50% since January, according to broadband data company OpenVault, which measured connections in more than one million homes. Usage during the peak early-evening hours increased 20% as of March 25. OpenVault estimates that average data consumption per household in March will reach nearly 400 gigabytes, a nearly 11% increase over the previous monthly record in January.... Some carriers that use cells on wheels and aerial network-support drones after hurricanes or tornadoes are now deploying those resources to neighborhoods with heavy wireless-service usage and places where health-care facilities need additional connectivity. Several wireless carriers including Verizon, T-Mobile US Inc. and AT&T Inc. have been given temporary access to fresh spectrum over the past week to bolster network capacity. While Netflix is lowering its video quality in Canada, the Journal reports Netflix isn't as worried about the EU: Netflix Vice President Dave Temkin, speaking on a videoconference hosted by the network analytics company Kentik, said his engineers took some upgrades originally planned for the holiday season near the end of 2020 and simply made them sooner. A European regulator earlier this month asked Netflix to shift all its videos to standard-definition to avoid taxing domestic networks. Mr. Temkin said Netflix managed to shave its bandwidth usage using less drastic measures. "None of it is actually melting down," he said. And the article also has stats from America's ISPs and cellphone providers: AT&T said cellular-data traffic was almost flat, with more customers using their home wi-fi networks instead -- but voice phone calls increased as much as 44%.Charter saw increases in daytime network activity, but in most markets "levels remain well below capacity and typical peak evening usage."Comcast says its peak traffic increased 20%, but they're still running at 40% capacity.

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Dark Web Hosting Site Suffers Cyberattack, 7,600 Sites Down

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-28 21:36
It's the largest free web hosting provider for dark web services. But remember back in 2018 when its 6,500 sites all went down after attackers accessed its database and deleted all its accounts? It happened again -- for the second time in 16 months. And this time, ZDNet reports, Daniel's Host won't be coming back online for several months: Almost 7,600 dark web portals have been taken offline following the hack, during which an attacker deleted the web hosting portal's entire database. This happened earlier this month, on March 10, at around 03:30 am UTC, according to a message posted on DH's now-defunct portal by Daniel Winzen, the German software developer behind the service. Winzen said that an attacker accessed the DH backend and deleted all hosting-related databases. The attacker then deleted Winzen's database account and created a new one to use for future operations. Winzen discovered the hack the next morning, at which time most of the data was already lost. The service doesn't keep backups by design. In an email to ZDNet today, Winzen said he has yet to find out how the hacker breached the DH backend. However, since the dark web hosting service was more of a hobby, Winzen didn't look too much into it. "I am currently very busy with my day-to-day life and other projects, I decided to not spend too much time investigating," he told ZDNet... Winzen said that users should consider the passwords for their DH accounts as "leaked" and change them if they used the same password for other accounts. Winzen told ZDNet he still hopes to relaunch the service "at a later time" with "new features and improvements." "Not having to administrate the services all the time will hopefully give me more time for actual development."

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To Conserve Bandwidth, Should Opting In Be Required Before Autoplaying Videos?

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-28 20:34
An anonymous reader writes: We keep seeing stories about how providers are slowing down their streaming speed to reduce bandwidth usage during this period when many are being asked to stay at home... But it seems that many are totally ignoring a very obvious way to reduce usage significantly, and that is by disabling autoplay on their web sites and in their apps. To give an example, a couple of days ago I was watching a show on Hulu, and either I was more sleepy than I thought or the show was more boring than I had expected (probably some combination of both), but I drifted off to sleep. Two hours later I awoke and realize that Hulu had streamed two additional episodes that no one was watching. I searched in vain for a way to disable autoplay of the next episode, but if there is some way to do it I could not find it. What I wonder is how many people even want autoplay? I believe Netflix finally gave their users a way to disable it, but they need to affirmatively do so via a setting somewhere. But many other platforms give their users no option to disable autoplay. That is also true of many individual apps that can be used on a Roku or similar device. If conserving bandwidth is really that important, then my contention is that autoplaying of the next episode should be something you need to opt in for, not something enabled by default that either cannot be disabled or that forces the user to search for a setting to disable. "Firefox will disable autoplay," writes long-time Slashdot user bobs666 (adding "That's it use Firefox.") And there are ways to disable autoplay in the user settings on Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. But wouldn't it make more sense to disable autoplay by default -- at least for the duration of this unusual instance of peak worldwide demand? I'd be interested in hearing from Slashdot's readers. Do you use autoplay -- or have you disabled it? And do you think streaming companies should turn it off by default?

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How Devs Can Help Beat the COVID-19 Pandemic

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-28 19:34
The state of New York hopes to "amplify" its response to COVID-19 by launching tech-driven products with top companies, and it's looking for professional volunteers with experience in software development, hardware deployment/end-user support, and data science (as well as areas like product management, design, operations management). Meanwhile, IBM's 2020 "Call for Code Global Challenge" is a virtual hackathon with a $200,000 prize, and they've now "expanded its focus" to include the effects of COVID-19. Tech columnist Mike Melanson writes: But this is just the beginning of the COVID-19 hackathon boom, which now includes efforts organized by tech giants, state governments, and grassroots initiatives alike. For example, the World Health Organization got together with technology companies and platforms such as AWS, Facebook, Giphy, Microsoft, Pinterest, Salesforce, Slack, TikTok, Twitter and WeChat to launch the COVID-19 Global Hackathon 1.0, which is running as we speak with a deadline for submissions of March 30th at 9 AM PST. If you're too late, fret not, for there are many more, such as the CODEVID-19 hackathon we mentioned last week that has a weekly rolling deadline. And deadlines aside, the U.S. Digital Response for COVID-19 is working to pair technology, data, and government professionals with those who need them, in a form of nationwide, technological mutual aid... [T]he COVID-19 open-source help desk is "a fast-track 'stack overflow' where you can get answers from the very people who wrote the software that you use or who are experts in its use." And if you happen to be either an open source author or expert, feel free to pitch in on answering questions... On the open data side of things, for example, GitHub offers a guide on open collaboration on COVID-19, while StackOverflow looks at the myriad ways to help the fight against COVID-19 from home. ProgrammableWeb has a list of developer hackathons to combat COVID-19, and even the Golang team offers some guidance for Go, the Go community, and the pandemic, with Erlang also joining in.

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Doc Searls: 'Zoom Needs to Clean Up Its Privacy Act'

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-28 18:38
The former editor-in-chief of the Linux Journal just published an annotated version of Zoom's privacy policy. Searls calls it "creepily chummy with the tracking-based advertising biz (also called adtech). I'll narrow my inquiry down to the "Does Zoom sell Personal Data?" section of the privacy policy, which was last updated on March 18. The section runs two paragraphs, and I'll comment on the second one, starting here: Zoom does use certain standard advertising tools which require Personal Data ... What they mean by that is adtech. What they're also saying here is that Zoom is in the advertising business, and in the worst end of it: the one that lives off harvested personal data. What makes this extra creepy is that Zoom is in a position to gather plenty of personal data, some of it very intimate (for example with a shrink talking to a patient) without anyone in the conversation knowing about it. (Unless, of course, they see an ad somewhere that looks like it was informed by a private conversation on Zoom.) A person whose personal data is being shed on Zoom doesn't know that's happening because Zoom doesn't tell them. There's no red light, like the one you see when a session is being recorded. If you were in a browser instead of an app, an extension such as Privacy Badger could tell you there are trackers sniffing your ass. And, if your browser is one that cares about privacy, such as Brave, Firefox or Safari, there's a good chance it would be blocking trackers as well. But in the Zoom app, you can't tell if or how your personal data is being harvested. (think, for example, Google Ads and Google Analytics). There's no need to think about those, because both are widely known for compromising personal privacy. (See here. And here. Also Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger's Re-Engineering Humanity and Shoshana Zuboff's In the Age of Surveillance Capitalism.) Zoom claims it needs personal data to "improve" its users "experience" with ads -- though Searls isn't satisfied. ("Nobody goes to Zoom for an 'advertising experience,' personalized or not. And nobody wants ads aimed at their eyeballs elsewhere on the Net by third parties using personal information leaked out through Zoom.") His conclusion? "What Zoom's current privacy policy says is worse than 'You don't have any privacy here.' It says, 'We expose your virtual necks to data vampires who can do what they will with it.'"

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America's FDA Grants Emergency Approval for a 15-Minute Coronavirus Test

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-28 17:42
While many coronavirus tests provide results within hours or days, America's Food and Drug Administration "has authorized the emergency use" of a new rapid coronavirus test from medical device manufacturer Abbott that could results in less than 15 minutes, reports NBC News: The FDA told Abbott it authorized the test's use after determining that "it is reasonable to believe that your product may be effective in diagnosing COVID-19," based on the scientific evidence presented. The agency added that the "known and potential benefits" of the test outweigh potential risks, such as false positives or negatives. The technology being used for the new test is similar to the one found in rapid flu tests, according to the FDA's authorization letter and Abbott. The FDA also said Friday it has issued at least 19 other emergency use authorizations for diagnostic tests to detect COVID-19, and that it is working with more than 220 test developers who are expected to submit emergency-use authorization requests soon... Abbott said it is ramping up production to deliver 50,000 tests to the U.S. health care system starting next week.

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Physicists Disagree Over New Dark Matter Claim

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-28 16:34
sciencehabit shared this article from Science magazine: For decades, astrophysicists have thought some sort of invisible dark matter must pervade the galaxies and hold them together, although its nature remains a mystery. Now, three physicists claim their observations of empty patches of sky rule out one possible explanation of the strange substance — that it is made out of unusual particles called sterile neutrinos. But others argue the data show no such thing. "I think that for most of the people in the community this is the end of the story," says study author Benjamin Safdi, an astroparticle physicist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. But Kevork Abazajian, a theoretical physicist at the University of California, Irvine, says the new analysis is badly flawed. "To be honest, this is one of the worst cases of cherry picking the data that I've seen," he says. In unpublished work, another group looked at similar patches of sky and saw the very same sign of sterile neutrinos that eluded Safdi... Alexey Boyarsky, an astroparticle theorist at Leiden University, is unconvinced. "I think this paper is wrong," he says. Boyarsky says he and his colleagues performed a similar, unpublished analysis in 2018, also using images from XMM-Newton, and did see a 3.5-keV glow from the empty sky, just expected from peering through a halo of sterile neutrinos.

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Some Researchers are Trying Mass Testing for Covid-19 Antibodies

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-28 15:34
An anonymous reader quotes Wired: Next week, blood banks across the Netherlands are set to begin a nationwide experiment. As donations arrive — about 7,000 of them per week is the norm — they'll be screened with the usual battery of tests that keep the blood supply safe, plus one more: a test for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Then, in a few weeks, another batch of samples will get the same test. And after that, depending on the numbers, there could be further rounds. The blood donors should be fairly representative of Dutch adults ages 18 to 75, and most importantly, they'll all be healthy enough for blood donation — or at least outwardly so... Identifying what proportion of the population has already been infected is key to making the right decisions about containment... [B]ecause no Covid-19-specific serological [antibody] tests have been fully vetted yet, the FDA's latest guidance is that they shouldn't be relied upon for diagnoses. But in epidemiology circles, those tests are a sought-after tool for understanding the scope of the disease. Since February — which was either three weeks or a lifetime ago — epidemiologists have been trying to get the full scope of the number of infections here in the U.S... [A]s the disease has continued to spread and a patchwork of local "stay at home" rules begins to bend the course of the disease, projecting who has the disease and where the hot spots are has become more difficult for models to capture. Instead, you need boots-on-the-ground surveillance. In other words, to fill the gap created by a lack of diagnostic tests, you need more testing — but of a different sort. This time you have to know how many total people have already fought the bug, and how recently they've fought it. "Of all the data out there, if there was a good serological assay that was very specific about individuating recent cases, that would be the best data we could have," says Alex Perkins, an epidemiologist at the University of Notre Dame. The key, he says, is drawing blood from a representative sample that would show the true scope of unobserved infections... Another motivation to develop better blood tests is the potential to develop therapeutics from antibody-rich blood serum. Wired is currently providing free access to stories about the coronavirus.

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