Glacial Melting In Antarctica May Become Irreversible, NASA-Funded Study Suggests
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian:
A Nasa-funded study found instability in the Thwaites glacier meant there would probably come a point when it was impossible to stop it flowing into the sea and triggering a 50cm sea level rise. Other Antarctic glaciers were likely to be similarly unstable. The Thwaites glacier, part of the West Antarctic ice sheet, is believed to pose the greatest risk for rapid future sea level rise. Research recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal found it was likely to succumb to instability linked to the retreat of its grounding line on the seabed that would lead to it shedding ice faster than previously expected.
The researchers found a precise estimate of how much ice the glacier would shed in the next 50 to 800 years was not possible due to unpredictable climate fluctuations and data limitations. However, 500 simulations of different scenarios pointed to it losing stability. This increased uncertainty about future sea level rise but made the worst-case scenarios more likely. A complete loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet would be expected to increase global sea levels by about five meters (16ft), causing coastal cities around the world to become submerged.
Chinese Air Pollution Dimmed Sunlight Enough To Impact Solar Panels
record of solar radiation measurements around China going back to the late 1950s, researchers from ETH Zurich found that China's coal-driven air pollution
is significantly reducing the output of solar panels by dimming the Sun. Ars Technica reports:
The researchers found that, over the entire record between about 1960 and 2015, the average potential solar generation declined by about 13%. Expressed in terms of capacity factor -- the fraction of a solar panel's maximum output that is actually produced on average -- the drop from the start to the lowest point in 2008 was 0.162 to 0.142. The change wasn't the same everywhere, though, as air pollution and local conditions varied. The five worst provinces actually saw potential generation drops of fully 20-28%. These included industrial centers in the east but also some clearer high-elevation areas in the west where a small amount of air pollution can have a big impact.
If China could go back to its 1950s air quality, its existing solar installations in 2016 would have produced an additional 14 terawatt-hours of electricity for free. As more solar panels are built, that number would only grow. By 2030, cleaner air could net an additional 70 terawatt-hours of electricity each year -- about 1% of total projected electricity generation at that point. To put some dollar signs on these numbers, the researchers used the current feed-in tariff of $0.14 per kilowatt-hour and a projected drop to $0.09 per kilowatt-hour in 2030. In 2016, this would mean cleaner air would have brought $1.9 billion worth of electricity. In 2030, the extra 13% or so of solar potential could be worth over $6 billion per year. The study has been
published in the journal Nature Energy.
Fed Chief Calls For Facebook To Halt Libra Project Until Concerns Addressed
U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Wednesday that
Facebook's plan to build a digital currency called Libra "
cannot go forward" until serious concerns are addressed. Reuters reports:
"Libra raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection and financial stability," Powell said during his semi-annual testimony on monetary policy before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee. "I don't think the project can go forward" without addressing those concerns, he added later. Powell said any regulatory review of the project should be "patient and careful." He noted that existing rules do not fit digital currencies. "It's something that doesn't fit neatly or easily within our regulatory scheme but it does have potentially systemic scale," he said. "It needs a careful look, so I strongly believe we all need to be taking our time with this." A Facebook spokesperson said in response: "We are very much aligned with the Chairman around the need for public discourse on this. This is why we along with the 27 other Founding Members of the Libra Association made this announcement so far in advance, so that we could engage in constructive discourse on this and get feedback."
Google Contractors Are Secretly Listening To Your Assistant Recordings
new report from Belgian broadcaster VRT News describes the process by which
Google Home recordings end up being listened to by contractors -- and the scary part is that it apparently doesn't take much, if anything, to start a recording. While the recordings are not listened to live, audio clips are sent to subcontractors. The Next Web reports:
VRT, with the help of a whistleblower, was able to listen to some of these clips and subsequently heard enough to discern the addresses of several Dutch and Belgian people using Google Home -- in spite of the fact some hadn't even uttered the words "Hey Google," which are supposed to be the device's listening trigger. The person who leaked the recordings was working as a subcontractor to Google, transcribing the audio files for subsequent use in improving its speech recognition. They got in touch with VRT after reading about Amazon Alexa keeping recordings indefinitely.
According to the whistleblower, the recordings presented to them are meant to be carefully annotated, with notes included about the speakers presumed identity and age. From the sound of the report, these transcribers have heard just about everything. Personal information? Bedroom activities? Domestic violence? Yes, yes, and yes. While VRT only listened to recordings from Dutch and Belgian users, the platform the whistleblower showed them had recordings from all over the world -- which means there are probably thousands of other contractors listening to Assistant recordings. The VRT report states that the Google Home Terms of Service don't mention that recordings might be listened to by other humans. The report says that the recordings are identified by numbers rather than user names, but VRT "was able to pick up enough data from the recordings to find the addresses of the users in question, and even confront some of the users in the recordings -- to their great dismay," reports The Next Web.
What does Google have to say about all this? That they only transcribe and use "about 0.2% of all audio clips" to improve their voice recognition technology.
Banned Chinese Security Cameras Are Almost Impossible To Remove
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg:
U.S. federal agencies have five weeks to rip out Chinese-made surveillance cameras in order to comply with a ban imposed by Congress last year in an effort to thwart the threat of spying from Beijing. But thousands of the devices are still in place and chances are most won't be removed before the Aug. 13 deadline. A complex web of supply chain logistics and licensing agreements make it almost impossible to know whether a security camera is actually made in China or contains components that would violate U.S. rules. The National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which outlines the budget and spending for the Defense Department each year, included an amendment for fiscal 2019 that would ensure federal agencies do not purchase Chinese-made surveillance cameras. The amendment singles out Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co. and Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., both of which have raised security concerns with the U.S. government and surveillance industry.
Despite the looming deadline to satisfy the NDAA, at least 1,700 Hikvision and Dahua cameras are still operating in places where they've been banned, according to San Jose, California-based Forescout Technologies, which has been hired by some federal agencies to determine what systems are running on their networks. The actual number is likely much higher, said Katherine Gronberg, vice president of government affairs at Forescout, because only a small percentage of government offices actually know what cameras they're operating. The agencies that use software to track devices connected to their networks should be able to comply with the law and remove the cameras in time, Gronberg said. "The real issue is for organizations that don't have the tools in place to detect the banned devices," she added. Also, since many of Dahua and Hikvision's cameras are sent to equipment manufacturers and sold under those brands, those cameras have completely different labels and packaging. This means it would be nearly impossible to tell if the thousands of video cameras installed across the country are actually re-labelled Chinese devices.
Microsoft Might Crush Slack Like Facebook Crushed Snapchat
"Tech workers' favorite communications tool, Slack,
is losing ground to its biggest rival, Microsoft Teams, which has copied its way into popularity," writes Rani Molla for Recode. "In other words, Slack has the same problem as Snapchat, which has suffered from its bigger rival Facebook's
relentless appropriation." From the report:
Slack's market share among the world's largest companies is mostly flat, adoption rates are declining, and a bigger portion of these companies indicate they plan on leaving the service, according to a new survey by market research firm ETR, which asks chief information officers and other leaders at the world's biggest organizations* where they plan to spend their company's tech budget. Meanwhile, Teams is seeing increased market share, relatively higher adoption rates, and low rates of defection, according to the data.
Slack, which is currently trading below its first-day opening price, has been beset both by smaller companies hoping to improve upon it and tech giants trying to copy and replace it. Microsoft, at one point, had even considered buying Slack. Instead, nearly four years after Slack's debut, Microsoft launched Teams, which has since adopted many of its competitor's functions, including the basic premise of creating an online office space for coworkers to collaborate and communicate. The situation was similar with Facebook, which after failing to buy Snapchat began to copy it, feature by feature. Facebook did this with impunity because it's not really possible to copyright what software does -- you can only copyright the code itself. Since products like Slack and Microsoft Teams or Facebook and Snapchat are built on different platforms, the code for each is likely distinct, so copying features is fair game.
Samba 4.11 Removes SMB1 File-Sharing Protocol Version By Default
Samba says version 4.11.0
will switch off previously on-by-default support for the aging and easily subverted SMB1 protocol. Slashdot reader
Jeremy Allison - Sam shares a report from The Register detailing the new changes:
The open-source SMB toolkit's developers say the Samba 4.11 build, currently in preview, will by default set SMB2_02 as the earliest supported version of the Windows file-sharing protocol. Admins will still have the option to allow SMB1 on their servers if they so choose, but support will be turned off by default. The move by Samba to drop SMB1 can be seen as long overdue, given that Microsoft has been moving to get rid of the file-server protocol version from its operating systems for several years now, even before it was revealed to be one of the NSA's favorite weak points to exploit. You can read the 4.11 release notes
FCC Kills Part of San Francisco's Broadband-Competition Law
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
The Federal Communications Commission today voted to preempt part of a San Francisco ordinance that promotes broadband competition in apartment buildings and other multi-tenant structures. But it's not clear exactly what effect the preemption will have, because San Francisco says the FCC's Republican majority has misinterpreted what the law does. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan partially overturns San Francisco's Article 52, which lets Internet service providers use the existing wiring inside multi-unit buildings even if another ISP already serves the building. The FCC said it's preempting the law "to the extent it requires the sharing of in-use wiring." But Pai's proposal admits the FCC doesn't know whether the San Francisco law actually requires sharing of in-use wiring, which makes it difficult to understand whether the FCC preemption will change anything in practice. Today's FCC decision "stop[s] efforts in California designed to encourage competition in multi-tenant environments," FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said at today's meeting. "Specifically, we say to the city of San Francisco -- where more than half of the population rents their housing, often in multi-tenant units -- that they cannot encourage broadband competition. This is crazy."
announcement from Pai's office argued that "[r]equired sharing of in-use wiring deters broadband deployment, undercuts the Commission's rules regarding control of cable wiring in residential MTEs [multi-tenant environments] and threatens the Commission's framework to protect the technical integrity of cable systems for the benefit of viewers."
Hackers Breached Greece's Top-Level Domain Registrar
hackers have breached ICS-Forth, the organization that manages Greece's top-level domain country codes of .gr and .el. From a report:
ICS-Forth, which stands for the Institute of Computer Science of the Foundation for Research and Technology, publicly admitted to the security incident in emails it sent to domain owners on April 19. The hackers behind the breach are the same group detailed in a Cisco Talos report from April, which the company named Sea Turtle. The group uses a relatively novel approach to hacking targets. Instead of targeting victims directly, they breach or gain access to accounts at domain registrars and managed DNS providers where they make modifications to a company's DNS settings. By modifying DNS records for internal servers, they redirect traffic meant for a company's legitimate apps or webmail services to clone servers where they carry out man-in-the-middle attacks and intercept login credentials.
Academics Steal Data From Air-Gapped Systems Via a Keyboard's LEDs
The Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Scroll Lock LEDs on a keyboard can be used to exfiltrate data from a secure air-gapped system, academics from an Israeli university have proved. From a report:
The attack, which they named CTRL-ALT-LED, is nothing that regular users should worry about but is a danger for highly secure environments such as government networks that store top-secret documents or enterprise networks dedicated to storing non-public proprietary information. he attack requires some pre-requisites, such as the malicious actor finding a way to infect an air-gapped system with malware beforehand. CTRL-ALT-LED is only an exfiltration method. But once these prerequisites are met, the malware running on a system can make the LEDs of an USB-connected keyboard blink at rapid speeds, using a custom transmission protocol and modulation scheme to encode the transmitted data. A nearby attacker can record these tiny light flickers, which they can decode at a later point, using the same modulation scheme used to encode it.
The Fish Is Boneless. (Fishless, Too.)
First, there was the meatless burger. Soon we may have fishless fish. From a report:
Impossible Foods, the California company behind the meatless Impossible Whopper now available at Burger King, is joining a crowded field of food companies developing alternatives to traditional seafood with plant-based recipes or laboratory techniques that allow scientists to grow fish from cells. So far, much of Impossible's work has focused on the biochemistry of fish flavor, which can be reproduced using heme, the same protein undergirding its meat formula [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], according to Pat Brown, the company's chief executive. Last month, Impossible's 124-person research and development team, which the company plans to increase to around 200 by the end of next year, produced an anchovy-flavored broth made from plants, he said. "It was being used to make paella," Mr. Brown said. "But you could use it to make Caesar dressing or something like that."
The fishless-fish project is part of Impossible's grand ambitions to devise tasty replacements for every animal-based food on the market by 2035. Whether that aim is achievable, either scientifically or financially, remains to be seen. But for now, Mr. Brown said, he's confident Impossible's plant-based beef recipe can be reconfigured to simulate a new source of protein. It's unclear whether consumers -- even those who eat meatless burgers -- will embrace fish alternatives. Those faux-beef products owe their success partly to the enthusiasm of so-called flexitarians, people who want to reduce their meat consumption without fully converting to vegetarianism, but flexitarians are not necessarily motivated by a desire to save the planet.
Linode Democratizes Cloud GPUs: Brings Powerful Nvidia GPUs To Its Linux Cloud
Linode today launched new GPU-optimized cloud computing instances tailored specifically for developers and businesses requiring massive parallel computational power. The new instances are built on NVIDIA Quadro RTX 6000 GPU cards with all three major types of processing cores (CUDA, Tensor, and Real-Time Ray Tracing) available to users. Linode is one of the first cloud providers to deploy NVIDIA's latest GPU architecture. These new GPU instances give scientists, artists, and engineers working on artificial intelligence, graphic visualization, and complex modeling a cost-competitive alternative to hyperscale cloud providers.
Moons That Escape Their Planets Could Become 'Ploonets'
Meet ploonets: planets of moonish origin. In other star systems, some moons could escape their planets and start orbiting their stars instead, new simulations suggest. Scientists have
dubbed such liberated worlds "ploonets," and say that current telescopes may be able to find the wayward objects. From a report:
Astronomers think that exomoons -- moons orbiting planets that orbit stars other than the sun -- should be common, but efforts to find them have turned up empty so far. Astrophysicist Mario Sucerquia of the University of Antioquia in MedellÃn, Colombia and colleagues simulated what would happen to those moons if they orbited hot Jupiters, gas giants that lie scorchingly close to their stars. Many astronomers think that hot Jupiters weren't born so close, but instead migrated toward their star from a more distant orbit.
As the gas giant migrates, the combined gravitational forces of the planet and the star would inject extra energy into the moon's orbit, pushing the moon farther and farther from its planet until eventually it escapes, the researchers report June 29 [PDF] at arXiv.org. "This process should happen in every planetary system composed of a giant planet in a very close-in orbit," Sucerquia says. "So ploonets should be very frequent." Some ploonets may be indistinguishable from ordinary planets. Others, whose orbits keep them close to their planet, could reveal their presence by changing the timing of when their neighbor planet crosses, or transits, in front of the star.
Foxconn Will Only Create 1500 Jobs, says Wisconsin Governor
The Foxconn factory in Wisconsin will only
create 1,500 jobs when it starts production next May, Gov. Tony Evers said yesterday. From a report:
That's the same number Foxconn has been saying since it shifted plans for the factory a few months ago, and far short of the 13,000 jobs that were promised when President Trump broke ground a year ago. Evers has been negotiating with Foxconn since he replaced former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, and he says he now has "clarity: on Foxconn's plans. 1,500 jobs is short of the 1,800 jobs required for Foxconn to get the next set of tax credits under its $4 billion deal with the state. Foxconn already missed its first jobs target under that contract, hiring only 156 employees instead of the required 260 last year. Instead, Foxconn has bought a series of empty buildings for "innovation centers" around the state as part of a promised "AI 8K+5G ecosystem" (although it's never specified what that ecosystem actually is).
Wisconsin's $4.1 Billion Foxconn Boondoggle;
Foxconn Is Reconsidering Plan For Wisconsin Factory;
Foxconn Says It Will Build Wisconsin Factory After All;
Foxconn is Confusing the Hell Out of Wisconsin; and
One Year After Trump's Foxconn Groundbreaking, There is Almost Nothing To Show For It.
Slashdot Asks: How Long Before Google Shuts Down Its Little -- But Expensive -- Pixel Smartphones Project?
After years of its
on and off interest in smartphones, Google today produces some of the best phones on the planet. The Pixel 3 and the 3 XL take better pictures than most smartphones --
certainly any phone that predates them. But the whole idea of Google making handsets -- being also the company that maintains Android and has relationship with hundreds of OEM partners that themselves make and sell Android handsets -- has also been peculiar. Additionally, Google itself has an
alarmingly long track record of losing interest in things,
including hardware projects -- and especially when they finally appear to have
courted a large following. Richard Windsor,
director of research firm Radio Free Mobile, adds:
While the wires are already speculating on the form factor of the Google Pixel 4 due to be launched in Q4, I am wondering whether this will be the last smartphone that Google makes. Ever since it wasted $12.5bn of shareholder's money on Motorola Mobility in 2012, Google has had a bad condition of what I refer to as engineering disease (see here and here and here). I diagnose engineering disease as a condition where engineers often get so excited about whether they can develop something that they forget to ask whether they should develop that something. Engineering disease almost always ends in financial disaster and I calculate that Google's hardware business has done nothing but burn cash since the day it was created. Worst of all, I can find no logical rhyme or reason why Google needs to make hardware other than a foolhardy attempt to take on Apple.
This it will never be able to do unless it takes Android fully proprietary so that it can control the experience from end to end and it has been unable and unwilling to do this to date. Furthermore, Samsung has done a much better job at taking on Apple given its scale, brand, distribution and the fact that its core competence is to take the innovations of others and make them smaller, better and cheaper. [...] This is why I have argued that Samsung and Google should stop wasting money on each other's core competence and throw their lot in together. The problem for Google hardware is that the days of under-performing businesses hiding under the skirts of the giant search cash machine are coming to an end. We have already seen this as in March, the Pixel Slate and Pixelbook team was cut back due to the lackluster sales of the product. The three versions of the Google Pixel have sold in paltry volumes with market share never reliably exceeding 0.3% with 4.5m units sold in 2018. Given the low volume, I would estimate the gross margin of this product is around 20% in the best instance which after product development costs and marketing leaves very little if anything left over.
This is not the kind of performance that Google is used to which combined with an apparent inability to really get the hardware right (see here) means that Dr. Ruth Porat (CFO of Alphabet) will be asking some very hard questions of this division this year. Consequently, I think that Google needs to see a significant step up in performance with the Pixel 4, otherwise, it too may fall under the surgeon's knife. [...] The time to pull the stops out is now as failure is likely to result in there being no Pixel 5. How long do you think Google would keep funding the Pixel phones project?
Alibaba Claims New Record in AI Language Understanding
An AI program developed by Alibaba has notched up a
record-high score on a reading comprehension test. The result shows how machines are steadily improving at handling text and speech. From a report:
The new record was set using the Microsoft Machine Reading Comprehension (MS MARCO) data set, which uses real questions that Bing users have asked in the past. The AI program had to read many web pages of information to be able to answer questions such as "What is a corporation?" (In this case the answer would be: "A corporation is a company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity and recognized as such in law.") Its scores were close to or slightly better than humans', according to two measures. AI algorithms have been improving at these sorts of question-and-answer tasks thanks to large, flexible learning algorithms and copious amounts of data. The Alibaba team developed a technique that essentially prunes out irrelevant text before trying to answer a question. The new program is not, however, "better at reading comprehension than humans." It was simply able to answer some questions about a subset of text better than people, on average. It is still essentially doing statistical pattern recognition without comprehending the meaning of the words it sees.
Coming To a Streaming Service Near You: Shows Costing as Much as Big-Budget Movies
As Walt Disney, AT&T's WarnerMedia and Apple prepare to enter the crowded streaming-entertainment market, they are
racing to stand out with eye-catching shows that cost as much for a season as a big-budget movie
[Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From a report:
These new services are hoping their planned television epics will capture the cultural conversation, like "Game of Thrones" did. They are also hoping to convince subscribers that their offerings are worth paying for in a market dominated by Netflix, HBO and Hulu. The competition is prompting newcomers to shell out between $8 million and $15 million an episode, significantly more than what the average TV show used to cost. For a single season, after including marketing and other expenses, the total can easily exceed $150 million -- or roughly what it costs to put a new "Spider-Man" movie in theaters nationwide.
When Netflix began making "House of Cards" in 2013 at $4.5 million an episode, it looked like a costly bet. Now, Disney has built intergalactic-desert landscapes for the "Star Wars" spinoff "The Mandalorian," whose cost for an episode approaches $15 million, according to people familiar with the matter. Amazon.com spent $250 million just for the rights to develop a "Lord of the Rings" series. Apple signed up "Aquaman" star Jason Momoa for its fantasy series "See," while Showtime has the videogame adaptation "Halo" and Warner Bros. prepares Frank Herbert's "Dune." With massive casts, exotic filming locations and copious special effects, budgets have ballooned to amounts once considered unfathomable for a TV show. One driving factor, executives say, is that high-profile TV shows are offered up next to theatrical films available to stream on the same service, so original programming can't risk looking like B-material next to the movies.
Americans Shouldn't Have To Drive, But the Law Insists on It
An anonymous reader shares a report:
In America, the freedom of movement comes with an asterisk: the obligation to drive. This truism has been echoed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has pronounced car ownership a "virtual necessity." The Court's pronouncement is telling. Yes, in a sense, America is car-dependent by choice -- but it is also car-dependent by law. As I detail in a forthcoming journal article, over the course of several generations lawmakers rewrote the rules of American life to conform to the interests of Big Oil, the auto barons, and the car-loving 1 percenters of the Roaring Twenties. They gave legal force to a mind-set -- let's call it automobile supremacy -- that kills 40,000 Americans a year and seriously injures more than 4 million more. Include all those harmed by emissions and climate change, and the damage is even greater. As a teenager growing up in the shadow of Detroit, I had no reason to feel this was unjust, much less encouraged by law. It is both.
It's no secret that American public policy throughout the 20th century endorsed the car -- for instance, by building a massive network of urban and interstate highways at public expense. Less well understood is how the legal framework governing American life enforces dependency on the automobile. To begin with, mundane road regulations embed automobile supremacy into federal, state, and local law. But inequities in traffic regulation are only the beginning. Land-use law, criminal law, torts, insurance, vehicle safety regulations, even the tax code -- all these sources of law provide rewards to cooperate with what has become the dominant transport mode, and punishment for those who defy it.
David Attenborough Addresses Climate Change in Most Eloquent Way Possible
Natural historian, English broadcaster and 93-year-old national treasure David Attenborough has spoken. Whether you like his chosen topic of climate change or not,
the naturalist has an effortless and coercive way with words. From a report:
Speaking to a Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee meeting in London on Tuesday morning, local time, Attenborough gave evidence on the radical action required to tackle the climate crisis. "We cannot be radical enough in dealing with the issues that face us at the moment," he said, the full talk detailed by The Guardian. "The question is: what is practically possible? How can we take the electorate with us in dealing with these things?" The UK has committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But that target, according to Attenborough, "is not the way of focusing on the problem." Attenborough did acknowledge the lively efforts young people had put in to "recognising that their world is the future."
"The most encouraging thing that I see, of course, is that the electors of tomorrow are already making themselves and their voices very, very clear," he said. "And that is a source of great comfort in a way, but also the justification, the reality, that these young people are recognising that their world is the future." Attenborough compared our attitudes toward climate change with the transformation of slavery. "There was a time in the 19th century when it was perfectly acceptable for civilised human beings to think that it was morally acceptable to actually own another human being for a slave. And somehow or other, in the space of 20 or 30 years, the public perception of that totally transformed."
Nintendo Switch Lite Launches September 20 For $200
Nintendo has confirmed the much-rumored Nintendo Switch Lite, revealing that the new slimmed down console -- available in gray, yellow, and turquoise --
will launch on September 20 for $199.99. From a report:
The device, which first came to light last year, is $100 less expensive than its predecessor and, as such, it does lack a number of key features compared to its bigger brother. For example, the Nintendo Switch Lite only offers a single "handheld" game-play mode, compared to the additional "TV" and "tabletop" modes of the Nintendo Switch. While this raises questions about the use of "switch" in the device's name given that it doesn't actually switch between modes, it also means that compatible games are limited to those that support handheld mode in the Nintendo Switch Library. However, gamers will be able to buy separate Joy-Con controllers (and a device to charge them) to use wirelessly with other games that don't support handheld mode.
Hong Kong's Protesters Use AirDrop To Spread Information To Mainland Chinese Visitors
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz:
Hong Kong's protesters are using AirDrop, a file-sharing feature that allows Apple devices to send photos and videos over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, to breach China's Great Firewall in order to spread information to mainland Chinese visitors in the city. Leaving AirDrop settings open allows anyone in the vicinity to send files to your device. A protest held yesterday (July 7) in Tsim Sha Tsui, one of Hong Kong's most popular tourist districts, had a clear aim: to tell people from mainland China about the city's opposition to a hated extradition bill, which has mobilized millions of people over the past several weeks to multiple protests and presented the most critical challenge to the local government in decades.
But news of the protest has been heavily censored in mainland China, with any mention of the mass movement wiped off the Chinese internet. Even songs alluding to the city have been scrubbed. As such, many Chinese tourists were visibly confused by the large march, which organizers say drew an estimated 230,000 people. Hong Kong's protesters have therefore turned to Apple's AirDrop feature to get their message across to their mainland Chinese compatriots. That the messages are written in simplified Chinese -- Hong Kongers use traditional Chinese -- confirm that the intended audience is Chinese tourists.
German Entrepreneur Wants To Develop Lab-Grown Psilocybin
A German capitalist wants to promote everything from psychological research, applied clinical uses of psychedelics, and even peace in the Mideast, with the help of lab-grown magic mushrooms. "Today, with a net worth of roughly $400 million accrued through various enterprises, [Christian] Angermayer is one of the driving forces behind the movement to turn long-shunned psychoactive substances, like the psilocybin derived from so-called magic mushrooms, into approved medications for depression and other mental illnesses," reports Scientific American.
The strangest and most daring idea mentioned in the Scientific American piece by Meghana Keshavan relates to a bizarre project for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Angermayer, interested in expanding his web of psychedelics holdings, recently asked [Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a nonprofit focused on research and education around the substances] if he might invest in his nonprofit, MAPS -- particularly its efforts to legalize therapeutic use of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy," reports Scientific American. "Doblin demurred. MAPS is purely donation-based, and unlike Compass, intends to stay that way."
"But their talk shifted to one of the highest priority projects at the nonprofit: An exploration of psychedelics in conflict remediation. Along with researchers at Imperial College London, MAPS plans on bringing Israelis and Palestinians together to take ayahuasca and, working with negotiation experts, sift through their respective traumas. The idea is that finding common ground in their spiritual and mystical experiences might help coax political reconciliation between the warring factions."
Scientists 3D-Print Human Skin and Bone For Mars Astronauts
Scientists from the University Hospital of Dresden Technical University in Germany
have successfully bio-printed skin and bone samples upside down to help determine if the method could be used in a low-gravity environment. CNET reports:
The skin sample was printed using human blood plasma as a "bio ink." The researchers added plant and algae-based materials to increase the viscosity so it wouldn't just fly everywhere in low gravity. "Producing the bone sample involved printing human stem cells with a similar bio-ink composition, with the addition of a calcium phosphate bone cement as a structure-supporting material, which is subsequently absorbed during the growth phase," said Nieves Cubo, a bioprinting specialist at the university. These samples are just the first steps for the ESA's ambitious 3D bio-printing project, which is investigating what it would take to equip astronauts with medical and surgical facilities to help them survive and treat injuries on long spaceflights and on Mars.