Linux fréttir

China Gene-Edited Baby Experiment 'May Have Created Unintended Mutations'

Slashdot - Thu, 2019-12-05 00:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The gene editing performed on Chinese twins to immunize them against HIV may have failed and created unintended mutations, scientists have said after the original research was made public for the first time. Excerpts from the manuscript were released by the MIT Technology Review to show how Chinese biophysicist He Jiankui ignored ethical and scientific norms in creating the twins Lula and Nana, whose birth in late 2018 sent shockwaves through the scientific world. He made expansive claims of a medical breakthrough that could "control the HIV epidemic", but it was not clear whether it had even been successful in its intended purpose -- immunizing the babies against the virus -- because the team did not in fact reproduce the gene mutation that confers this resistance. A small percentage of people are born with immunity because of a mutation in a gene called CCR5 and it was this gene that He had claimed to have targeted using a powerful editing tool known as Crispr which has revolutionized the field since 2012. Fyodor Urnov, a genome-editing scientist at the University of California, Berkeley told the MIT Technology Review: "The claim they have reproduced the prevalent CCR5 variant is a blatant misrepresentation of the actual data and can only be described by one term: a deliberate falsehood. "The study shows that the research team instead failed to reproduce the prevalent CCR5 variant." While the team targeted the right gene, they did not replicate the "Delta 32" variation required, instead creating novel edits whose effects are not clear.

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Lazarus group goes back to the Apple orchard with new macOS trojan

TheRegister - Thu, 2019-12-05 00:28
In-memory malware a first for suspected Nork hacking crew

The Lazarus group, which has been named as one of North Korea's state-sponsored hacking teams, has been found to be using new tactics to infect macOS machines.…

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Apple's Activation Lock Will Make It Very Difficult To Refurbish Macs

Slashdot - Thu, 2019-12-05 00:10
Apple's Activation Lock is an anti-theft feature built into iOS, watchOS, and macOS Catalina that prevents people from restoring your Apple devices without your permission. "With the release of macOS Catalina earlier this fall, any Mac that's equipped with Apple's new T2 security chip now comes with Activation Lock," writes iFixit's Craig Lloyd. What this means is that there will likely be thousands of perfectly good Macs being parted out or scrapped instead of being put into the hands of people who could really use them. From the report: Activation Lock was designed to prevent anyone else from using your device if it's ever lost or stolen, and it's built into the "Find My" service on iPhones, iPads, and other Apple devices. When you're getting rid of an old phone, you want to use Apple's Reset feature to wipe the phone clean, which also removes it from Find My iPhone and gets rid of the Activation Lock. But if you forget, and sell your old iPhone to a friend before you properly wipe it, the phone will just keep asking them for your Apple ID before they can set it up as a new phone. In other words, they won't be able to do much with it besides scrap it for parts. That seems like a nice way to thwart tech thieves, but it also causes unnecessary chaos for recyclers and refurbishers who are wading through piles of locked devices they can't reuse. This reduces the supply of refurbished devices, making them more expensive -- oh, and it's an environmental nightmare. [...] The T2 security chip, however, erases any hope and makes it impossible to do anything on a Mac without the proper Apple ID credentials. Attempting any kind of hardware tinkering on a T2-enabled Mac activates a hardware lock, which can only be undone by connecting the device to Apple-authorized repair software. It's great for device security, but terrible for repair and refurbishment. While recyclers may not be dealing with as many locked Macs as locked iPhones (especially since Activation Lock on Macs is still very new, and there are specific software criteria that need to be met), it's only a matter of time before thousands upon thousands of perfectly working Macs are scrapped or shredded, for lack of an unknown password.

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Google Halts Political Ads In Singapore As Election Looms

Slashdot - Wed, 2019-12-04 23:30
Google has stopped accepting political ads in Singapore months before a widely expected election. Reuters reports: In email correspondence between the Singapore Democratic Party and a senior Google public policy official, the tech firm said it "will not accept advertising regulated by the Code of Practice for Transparency of Online Political Advertisements." The new code of practice, part of a controversial 'fake news' law introduced in October, requires advertising intermediaries to maintain detailed records of political adverts and their sponsors and make those records available to authorities. The code applies to "all advertisement or paid content that can reasonably be regarded as being directed towards a political end." SDP said the "shocking policy" would deprive voters of information ahead of that ballot. "In an election with the media totally dominated by the state, alternative parties would have no ability to educate and inform the voters of Singapore in the run up to the elections if we are not able to use Google's advertising platforms in the first place," Paul Tambyah, chairman of SDP, said in the correspondence.

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AT&T customers back in court over AT&T's $60m 'unlimited data' broken promises settlement

TheRegister - Wed, 2019-12-04 22:59
Nothing to see here says AT&T

Angry AT&T customers have asked a judge to force the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to hand over information it used to decide a $60m fine over the mobile giant’s misleading “unlimited data” offers.…

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Study That Argued EVs Aren't Cleaner Gets an Update

Slashdot - Wed, 2019-12-04 22:50
An anonymous reader shares an update to a 2017 study from the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute that claimed the manufacturing of big batteries for electric vehicles generates so much emissions that all later savings are canceled out. "Based on the data that it had to work with, the institute's study put the emissions at 150-200 kilograms of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of lithium-ion battery capacity -- one of the highest estimates that has been published," reports Ars Technica. "But IVL recently took another pass at this effort, incorporating newer data and some slightly different methods. This new study puts the emissions at 61-106kg, depending on the energy sources and efficiencies of different manufacturing plants. That cuts the estimate in half and puts it much more in line with other studies." From the report: So what accounts for the change, exactly? A few things are going on here. The first is a simple methodological change -- this study leaves out emissions associated with recycling the battery, which accounted for 15kg of CO2 in the 2017 estimate. There are different ways to define the boundaries of such a life-cycle analysis, including "cradle-to-grave" methods that cover disposal and "cradle-to-gate" methods that cover up to the point you receive the car. To make apples-to-apples comparisons, you have to know what kind of estimate you're looking at. More importantly, the study took advantage of more recent data that measures emissions during critical steps in the manufacturing process. As the battery manufacturing industry matures, plants are running closer to capacity and with efficiency improvements. Battery chemistry, too, is shifting. [...] The cathodes and anodes of these batteries are made by mixing materials in a solvent (water or otherwise) and then evaporating the solvent to leave a powder behind. This drying dominates the energy use of the manufacturing process. More recent measurements of this process in operating plants are a major source of the difference between the new study and the 2017 study, which estimated 1.6 time to 3 times greater energy use for drying. The new version also acknowledges that the electricity used in the manufacturing process is coming from cleaner sources and could potentially come entirely from renewables. That helps bring the low end of the estimated range down. Of the estimated 61-106kg of CO2 emissions per kilowatt-hour of battery capacity, 59kg comes from the raw materials used in the battery. Then, the manufacturing process accounts for 2-47kg, depending on the mix of energy sources used. The 2017 study used a slightly higher number for raw materials -- 60-70kg of CO2 -- but estimated manufacturing emissions at 70-110kg. Then, it added emissions associated with recycling.

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Astroboffins find first ice giant orbiting a white dwarf and getting stripped down

TheRegister - Wed, 2019-12-04 22:33
Sighting shows the future of our own Solar System

A giant planet orbiting a hot white dwarf star has been discovered for the first time, giving scientists a glimpse into what our Solar System might look like billions of years from now.…

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Microsoft is Still Planning a Cheaper, Disc-Less Next-Gen Xbox, Report Says

Slashdot - Wed, 2019-12-04 22:10
In June, Microsoft announced Project Scarlett, a new iteration of the Xbox that the company said would "set a new bar for console power, speed and performance." What Microsoft didn't say is that it is also working on a lower-cost, disc-less version of Scarlett, code-named Lockhart, Kotaku reported Wednesday, citing four people briefed on the company's plans. From a report: If those names sound familiar, that's because they've been floating around for a while. The earliest rumors about Microsoft's next-gen roadmap, circa 2018, suggested that Project Scarlett would consist of two Xbox models: the high-performance Anaconda and the lower-end Lockhart. In June, however, Microsoft announced that Scarlett was a single, high-end console, which led to speculation and then press reports that Lockhart had been canceled. But Kotaku has learned that Lockhart is in fact still in the works as a cheaper, digital-only alternative to Scarlett, as the original rumors suggested. What we don't know -- and what likely isn't finalized yet -- is how the pricing will shake out. But it's easiest to think of Anaconda as a successor to the Xbox One X and Lockhart as a successor to the Xbox One S, with a similar performance disparity. Game developers will be expected to support both Anaconda and Lockhart, which some are worried might hamper their ambitions for next-gen games in the coming years.

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Google Fiber Eliminates 100Mbps Plan For New Customers

Slashdot - Wed, 2019-12-04 21:30
Google Fiber, the division of Google parent company Alphabet that provides fiber-to-the-premises service in the U.S., will no longer sell 100Mbps broadband plans to new customers. From a report: In a blog post this morning, Fiber announced that it'll only offer gigabit (1,000Mbps) plans going forward in all 18 regions where it's launched to date. The gigabit plan's pricing -- $70 per month -- won't change, nor will its terms. (There's no data cap or throttle to speak of.) And starting tomorrow, Fiber will roll out a partnership with YouTube that'll let customers sign up for YouTube TV at the same time they sign up for Google Fiber. Google Fiber acknowledges that it's a somewhat self-serving transition.

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Escobar Fold 1 snort all it's cracked up to be: Readers finger similarity to slated Chinese mobe

TheRegister - Wed, 2019-12-04 21:12
But how is it $1,000 cheaper?

So, as reported yesterday, the younger brother of Colombia's favourite son Pablo Escobar plans to launch a foldable phone, the Escobar Fold 1. Alarm bells started ringing, not least because the entry-level model has an MSRP of $349 — about $1,000 less than what you'd expect.…

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Former Oracle product manager says he was forced out for refusing to deceive customers. Now he's suing the biz

TheRegister - Wed, 2019-12-04 21:10
Database giant insists that ain't so, will fight lawsuit

A former Oracle employee filed a lawsuit against the database giant on Tuesday claiming that he was forced out for refusing to lie about the functionality of the company's software.…

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NASA Spacecraft Unraveling Sun's Mysteries as it Spirals Closer To Our Star

Slashdot - Wed, 2019-12-04 20:50
In August of last year, NASA sent a spacecraft hurtling toward the inner Solar System, with the aim of getting some answers about the mysterious star at the center of our cosmic neighborhood. Now more than a year later, that tiny robot has started to decode some of the mysteries surrounding our Sun's behavior, after venturing closer to our parent star than any human-made object has before. From a report: That spacecraft is NASA's Parker Solar Probe, a car-sized vehicle designed to withstand temperatures of more then 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Its various instruments are protected by an extra hardy heat shield, designed to keep the spacecraft relatively cool as it gets near our balmy host star. Already, the Parker Solar Probe has gotten up close and personal with the Sun, coming within 15 million miles of the star -- closer than Mercury and any other spacecraft sent to the Sun before. "We got into the record books already," Adam Szabo, the mission scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for Parker Solar Probe, tells The Verge. Before the spacecraft's launch, researchers were particularly interested in learning more about what's coming out of the Sun. Energetic particles and plasma are continuously streaming from the Sun at all times -- a phenomena that's been dubbed solar wind. This highly energized material makes its way to Earth, causing the dazzling display of the aurora borealis. If we get too much of this stuff, it can sometimes muck up our spacecraft in orbit and even mess with our electric grid. There's still a lot we don't know about solar wind, such as what is accelerating this material so much that it can break free from the Sun. Learning the origins of the wind could help us better predict how it will impact us here on Earth.

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Since the FCC won't act, Congress finally moves on robocalls by passing half-decent TRACED Act

TheRegister - Wed, 2019-12-04 20:41
Only took seven years of consumer hell to get this far

US Congress has finally acted on the scourge of robocalls, with the House of Representative passing the TRACED Act on Wednesday morning by 417 votes to 3 (with 11 not voting).…

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The iPhone 11 Pro's Location Data Puzzler

Slashdot - Wed, 2019-12-04 20:10
Brian Krebs: One of the more curious behaviors of Apple's new iPhone 11 Pro is that it intermittently seeks the user's location information even when all applications and system services on the phone are individually set to never request this data. Apple says this is by design, but that response seems at odds with the company's own privacy policy. The privacy policy available from the iPhone's Location Services screen says, "If Location Services is on, your iPhone will periodically send the geo-tagged locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers (where supported by a device) in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple, to be used for augmenting this crowd-sourced database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower locations." The policy explains users can disable all location services entirely with one swipe (by navigating to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, then switching "Location Services" to "off"). When one does this, the location services indicator -- a small diagonal upward arrow to the left of the battery icon -- no longer appears unless Location Services is re-enabled. The policy continues: "You can also disable location-based system services by tapping on System Services and turning off each location-based system service." But apparently there are some system services on this model (and possibly other iPhone 11 models) which request location data and cannot be disabled by users without completely turning off location services, as the arrow icon still appears periodically even after individually disabling all system services that use location.

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Amazon Proposes a Home Robot that Asks You Questions When It's Confused

Slashdot - Wed, 2019-12-04 19:33
An anonymous reader shares a report: AI models invariably encounter ambiguous situations that they struggle to respond to with instructions alone. That's problematic for autonomous agents tasked with, say, navigating an apartment, because they run the risk of becoming stuck when presented with several paths. To solve this, researchers at Amazon's Alexa AI division developed a framework that endows agents with the ability to ask for help in certain situations. Using what's called a model-confusion-based method, the agents ask questions based on their level of confusion as determined by a predefined confidence threshold, which the researchers claim boosts the agents' success by at least 15%. "Consider the situation in which you want a robot assistant to get your wallet on the bed ... with two doors in the scene and an instruction that only tells it to walk through the doorway," wrote the team in a preprint paper describing their work. "In this situation, it is clearly difficult for the robot to know exactly through which door to enter. If, however, the robot is able to discuss the situation with the user, the situational ambiguity can be resolved." The team's framework employs two agent models: Model Confusion, which mimics human user behavior under confusion, and Action Space Augmentation, a more sophisticated algorithm that automatically learns to ask only necessary questions at the right time during navigation. Human interaction data is used to fine-tune the second model further so that it becomes familiar with the environment.

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In a touching tribute to its $800m-ish antitrust fine, Qualcomm tears wraps off Snapdragon 865 chip for 5G phones

TheRegister - Wed, 2019-12-04 19:00
While supremo predicts mmWave deployments by 2021, everyone moving to the cloud

Why is it that Qualcomm is never far from drama?…

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The Curse of Outdated DRM Claims Another Vicim, 'Tron: Evolution'

Slashdot - Wed, 2019-12-04 18:50
As of this week, players who owned a legitimate copy of Tron: Evolution they paid for but never played it, no longer can. From a report: Tron: Evolution, a tie-in game for the 2010 Tron: Legacy film, used SecurRom, a form of digital rights management (DRM), and publisher Disney hasn't paid its bill. This means Disney can no longer authenticate purchases and "unlock" copies of the game that people bought but haven't used yet. Players first noticed they couldn't play the game after purchasing it in October, but a thread on Reddit today brought more attention to the issue. "I often buy games on sales, but don't play them immediately," user Renusek said on Reddit. "Yesterday I decided to play Tron: Evolution, maybe even practice speedrunning it, so I install the game, try to activate it (game still uses SecuROM DRM) and... the serial key has expired (?!)." SecurROM is DRM software that companies attach to video games to make sure they aren't downloaded illegally. It was popular among big game publishers some years back, often causing havoc and annoyance to players.

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Hyperscale Data Center Spending Hits Record $31B In Q3

Slashdot - Wed, 2019-12-04 18:10
The fastest-growing data center market segment returned to growth mode in the third quarter of 2019, with global hyperscale capex spending exceeding $31 billion, up 8 percent year over year. From a report: The $31 billion is the second-highest spending quarter in history in terms of the amount hyperscale operators -- led by Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft -- are spending on building, expanding and equipping data centers, according to IT research and market firm Synergy Research Group. "Hyperscale companies are in growth mode and revenue growth rates remain in strong double-digit territory, with aggregated third quarter revenues up 14 percent over 2018," said John Dinsdale, a chief analyst at Synergy Research Group. "Amazon, Google, Facebook and Alibaba are all growing much more rapidly than that. These expanding companies are highly reliant on bigger and better data center operations, which will drive continued growth in capex levels." Hyperscale data centers are giant facilities containing tens of thousands of servers and other IT products such as storage, networking and UPS hardware.

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Never break the (supply) chain: Intel pitches 'full lifecycle' chip-tracking programme to partners

TheRegister - Wed, 2019-12-04 18:02
Listen to the wind blow, watch the sun rise

Intel has said it wants to make its punters more confident about what happens to its chips on the journey from fab to rack to recycler.…

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Climate Change is Forcing One Person From Their Home Every Two Seconds, Oxfam Says

Slashdot - Wed, 2019-12-04 17:30
Climate-fueled disasters have forced about 20 million people a year to leave their homes in the past decade -- equivalent to one every two seconds -- according to a new report from Oxfam. From a news report: This makes the climate the biggest driver of internal displacement for the period, with the world's poorer countries at the highest risk, despite their smaller contributions to global carbon pollution compared to richer nations. People are seven times more likely to be internally displaced by floods, cyclones and wildfires than volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and three times more likely than by conflict, according to the report released Monday, The issue is one of a raft of topics set to be discussed at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 25, which starts on Monday in Madrid. Oxfam is calling on the international community to do more to fund recovery programs for poorer countries affected by the climate emergency, which is set to intensify as extreme weather events are projected to increase in both severity and frequency.

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