Sea Levels Will Rise For Centuries Even If Greenhouse Gas Emissions Goals Are Met
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Weather Channel:
Sea levels will continue to rise for the next three centuries even if governments meet carbon emissions pledges for 2030 set in the Paris climate agreement, a new study indicates. Greenhouse gas emissions from 2016 to 2030 alone would cause sea levels to increase nearly 8 inches (20 cm) by 2300, research led by Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research showed. And that doesn't take into account the effects of already irreversible melting of the Antarctic ice sheet, according to a news release about the study.
"Our results show that what we do today will have a huge effect in 2300. Twenty centimeters is very significant; it is basically as much sea-level rise as we've observed over the entire 20th century. To cause that with only 15 years of emissions is quite staggering," said Climate Analytics' Alexander Nauels, lead author of the study. The 8-inch increase is one-fifth of the nearly 40-inch total rise in sea levels expected by 2300, according to the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. More than half of the 8-inch increase can be attributed to emissions from the world's top five polluters: China, the United States, the European Union, India and Russia, the study found. "Only stringent near-term emission reductions" aimed at preventing global temperatures from rising more than the Paris agreement goal would provide a chance of limiting long-term sea level rise to below 40 inches, the study said. Global greenhouse gas emissions, however, have not shown a sign of peaking since the adoption of the Paris agreement and the individual countries' pledges "are inadequate to put the global community on track to meet the Paris agreement Long-term Temperature Goal by the end of the 21st century."
AT&T Switches Customers To More Expensive Plans Without Asking Them First
adding $10 to the monthly bills of customers with certain grandfathered mobile-data plans and not letting them switch back to their older packages. AT&T is pitching the change as a "bonus" because it's also adding 15GB to the customers' monthly data allotments. Ars Technica reports:
"Enjoy more data," AT&T says in a support document. "Starting with your October 2019 bill, you'll get an additional 15GB of data on your Mobile Share plan. This bonus data comes with a $10 price increase." Paying an extra $10 for another 15GB isn't a bad deal as far as U.S. wireless prices go, but that's only true if you actually need the extra data. The plans getting the data-and-price increases already had between 20GB and 60GB of data per month at prices that ranged from $100 to $225. Now those plans have 35GB to 75GB and cost $110 to $235. (The data allotments can be shared among multiple people on the same family plan.)
These Mobile Share Value plans were introduced in December 2013 and are apparently no longer offered to new customers. This is at least the second time this year that AT&T has added $10 and extra data to customer bills; a previous increase took effect between March and May and mostly affected a different set of Mobile Share Value plans, according to another AT&T support document. AT&T confirmed that there's no way to opt out of the new $10 increase, The Verge reported yesterday.
California Wildfires Spark Interest In DIY Home Protection
As California struggles through a wildfire season that has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee and burned hundreds of homes, researchers are seeking ways to protect buildings
including by wrapping them in "fire blankets." Reuters reports:
Last month, Fumiaki Takahashi, a professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, published the findings of 10 years of research on the potential for sheets of fire-resistant material to preserve homes. The blankets work but only in certain conditions, he said. "Each fire is different and each house is different," he noted. The blankets can withstand intensive fire exposure for little more than 10 minutes and take hours or days to apply.
Dan Hirning, CEO of California-based FireZat Inc, which supplies fire "shields" made from one of the materials tested by Takahashi, said people could wrap their homes in the blankets independent of fire officials. Applying a fire blanket to an average home would take four to five hours, with four people working on it, he noted. One reusable roll of FireZat's material can cover 1,500 square feet (about 140 square meters) and costs close to $900. The shields are made of a flexible aluminum sheet and a fiberglass backing held together by an acrylic adhesive to form a fire barrier built to withstand heat of up to 550 degrees Celsius (1,022 degrees Fahrenheit). The National Fire Protection Association's "Firewise" program can also help communities by helping people stop fire from spreading to their homes by encouraging them to clear flammable materials from around the structure. Unfortunately, it's really only effective when an entire neighborhood participates.
Microsoft's Rust Experiments Are Going Well, But Some Features Are Missing
Microsoft gave a
status update today on its experiments on using the Rust programming language instead of C and C++ to write Windows components. From a report:
Microsoft began experimenting with Rust over the summer. The Redmond-based software giant said it was interested in Rust because, over the past decade, more than 70% of the security patches it shipped out fixed memory-related bugs, an issue that Rust was created to address.
[...] Today, almost four months later, we got the first feedback. "I've been tasked with an experimental rewrite of a low-level system component of the Windows codebase (sorry, we can't say which one yet)," said Adam Burch, Software Engineer at the Microsoft Hyper-V team, in a blog post today. "Though the project is not yet finished, I can say that my experience with Rust has been generally positive," Burch added. "In general, new components or existing components with clean interfaces will be the easiest to port to Rust," the Microsoft engineer said. However, not all things went smoothly. It would have been unrealistic if we expected they would. Burch cited the lack of safe transmutation, safe support for C style unions, fallible allocation, and a lack of support for at-scale unit testing, needed for Microsoft's sprawling code-testing infrastructure.
Chrome OS 78 Rolling Out With Picture-In-Picture Support For YouTube, Split Browser/Device Settings, More
The latest version of Chrome OS, version 78,
adds separate browser and device settings, click-to-call, and picture-in-picture support for YouTube. It also introduces virtual desktop support for the operating system with a feature called Virtual Desks. 9to5Google reports:
Chrome is getting another cross-device sharing feature after "Send this page" widely rolled in September. With "click-to-call," you can right-click on phone number links -- like tel:800-800-8000 -- to have them sent to your Android device. It's quicker than manually entering those digits or transferring via email. Chrome OS 78 will separate browser and device settings. The former is accessible directly at chrome://settings and what opens when clicking "Settings" at the bottom of the Overflow menu in the top-right corner of any browser window. It opens as a tab and provides web-related preferences. Meanwhile, chrome://os-settings opens as its own window, and can be accessed from the quick settings sheet. It provides device options like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Assistant in a white Material Theme UI with an icon in the launcher/app shelf.
YouTube for Android now supports picture-in-picture with Chrome OS 78. After starting a video in the mobile client, switching to another window, covering, or minimizing the app will automatically open a PiP in the bottom-right corner. Available controls include switching to audio, play/pause, and skipping to the next track. In the top-left, you can expand the window and a settings gear on the other side allows you to open system settings. Tapping in the center expands and returns you to the YouTube Android app. Chrome OS 78 simplifies the printing experience by automatically listing compatible printers without any prior setup required. There are also a number of Linux on Chrome OS enhancements in this version:
- Backups of Linux apps and files can now be saved to local storage, external drive, or Google Drive. That copy can be then restored when setting up a new computer.
- Crostini GPU support will be enabled by default for a "crisp, lower-latency experience."
- You'll be warned when using a Linux app that does not support virtual keyboard in tablet mode.
Mysterious Hacker Dumps Database of Infamous IronMarch Neo-Nazi Forum
Freshly Exhumed shares a report from ZDNet:
A mysterious hacker has published today a database dump of one of the internet's most infamous neo-nazi meeting places -- the IronMarch forum. The data published today includes a full copy of its content, including sensitive details such as emails, IP addresses, usernames, and private messages. The database dump is currently being analyzed by a multitude of entities, including law enforcement, in the hopes of linking forum members to accounts on other sites and potentially exposing their real-world identities. The drive to unmask forum members comes from the fact that IronMarch, while a little-known site to most internet users, has been the birthplace of two of today's most extreme far-right neo-nazi movements -- the Atomwaffen Division and SIEGE Culture -- with the first being accused of orchestrating at least eight murders around the world.
The forum's data was published earlier today via the Internet Archive portal.
"The published information includes a carbon copy of the site, from user details to forum posts, and from private messages to multi-factor authentication settings and forum management logs," reports BleepingComputer. "The forum's database includes details on 3,548 registered profiles. The last user's database ID is 15,218; however, the dump only included details on 3,548 accounts -- most likely due to spam or deleted profiles. The registration date for the last user is November 20, 2017, suggesting the database is a copy of the site near the time it went offline."
DHS Will Soon Have Biometric Data On Nearly 260 Million People
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
expects to have face, fingerprint, and iris scans of at least 259 million people in its biometrics database by 2022, according to a
recent presentation from the agency's Office of Procurement Operations reviewed by Quartz. From the report:
That's about 40 million more than the agency's 2017 projections, which estimated 220 million unique identities by 2022, according to previous figures cited by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a San Francisco-based privacy rights nonprofit.
A slide deck, shared with attendees at an Oct. 30 DHS industry day, includes a breakdown of what its systems currently contain, as well as an estimate of what the next few years will bring. The agency is transitioning from a legacy system called IDENT to a cloud-based system (hosted by Amazon Web Services) known as Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology, or HART. The biometrics collection maintained by DHS is the world's second-largest, behind only India's countrywide biometric ID network in size. The traveler data kept by DHS is shared with other U.S. agencies, state and local law enforcement, as well as foreign governments.
Ahead of Merger, T-Mobile Announces Its Cheapest Phone Plan Ever and 5G Coming December 6th
The T-Mobile and Sprint merger hasn't been officially completed yet, but that hasn't stopped the "Un-carrier" from talking about what it will do with its newfound resources. T-Mobile announced today that it
plans to launch the company's cheapest phone plan ever and roll out its 5G network starting December 6th. Gizmodo reports:
Starting at just $15 a month, the new T-Mobile Connect plan offers unlimited talk and text plus 2GB of 4G or 5G data. Now admittedly, 2GB of data per month isn't all that much, but considering the T-Mobile's current least expensive plans start at $30 a month (and that's including a discount for having four lines), T-Mobile Connect could provide some much-needed savings for low-income families -- at least temporarily while it gathers all the goodwill it can muster in the merger process. Additionally, T-Mobile also teased two other new programs with its Connecting Heroes Initiative, which promises to give unlimited talk, text and 5G access to every first responder in the U.S. for the next 10 years. This includes public and non-profit fire, police, and EMS personnel. Then there's T-Mobile's Project 10 Million, which promises to handout 10 million hotspots to students across the country that will provide up to 100GB of free mobile data per year. With Project 10 Million, T-Mobile is hoping to give children and students greater access to broadband internet in order to make completing homework just a bit easier.
Also, next month T-Mobile says it will turn on its nationwide 5G network on December 6th, which promises to bring 5G coverage to over 200 million Americans in more than 5,000 cities. That said, this 5G network won't have the combined resources of both T-Mobile and Sprint until sometime in 2020 when T-Mobile can integrate its mmWave and sub-6GHz spectrum with Sprint's mid-brand spectrum. Looking even further ahead, T-Mobile claims its new 5G network will offer 14 times more capacity than it could on its own, and that the combined T-Mobile/Sprint network will cover 85 percent of the rural U.S. within three years, and 90 percent coverage after six years.
Amazon Ring Doorbells Exposed Home Wi-Fi Passwords To Hackers
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch:
Security researchers have discovered a vulnerability in Ring doorbells that exposed the passwords for the Wi-Fi networks to which they were connected. Bitdefender said the Amazon-owned doorbell was sending owners' Wi-Fi passwords in cleartext as the doorbell joins the local network, allowing nearby hackers to intercept the Wi-Fi password and gain access to the network to launch larger attacks or conduct surveillance.
"When first configuring the device, the smartphone app must send the wireless network credentials. This takes place in an unsecure manner, through an unprotected access point," said Bitdefender. "Once this network is up, the app connects to it automatically, queries the device, then sends the credentials to the local network." But all of this is carried out over an unencrypted connection, exposing the Wi-Fi password that is sent over the air. Amazon fixed the vulnerability in all Ring devices in September, but the vulnerability was only disclosed today.
Google-Funded Library Programs Teaching Google-Provided Curricula
Q. What's the difference between Andrew Carnegie and Google? A. Andrew Carnegie used his wealth to help build libraries, while Google's using its wealth to get libraries to help build its brands. "In advance of Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek)," announced the American Library Association (ALA), "an annual event to get students excited about coding, ALA will be awarding $300 mini-grants to school and public libraries that facilitate a program for youth during Computer Science Education Week, December 9-15, 2019, using Google's CS First Hour of Code activity. This year, youth can use their imagination to turn a real-life hero into a superhero using code. Code Your Hero is an activity that honors the everyday heroes in our students' lives who use their powers to better their communities. Libraries Ready to Code is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) and sponsored by Google, which aims to ensure libraries have the resources, capacity, and inspiration to embrace activities that promote computational thinking (CT) and coding among our nation's youth."
Last month, the ALA announced it had received a $2 million Google.org grant to develop library entrepreneurship centers. In advance of last December's CSEdWeek, Google announced a $1 million sponsorship to the ALA, creating a pool of micro-funds that local libraries could access to bring digital skills training to their community in conjunction with the Libraries Lead with Digital Skills and Libraries Ready to Code ALA-Google joint initiatives.
Older Samsung Smart TVs, Certain Roku Devices To Lose Netflix Support Next Month
An unspecified number of smart TVs manufactured by Samsung will
lose native support for Netflix next month, the companies said in an announcement this week. From a report:
Netflix app installed -- or available for -- Samsung smart TVs manufactured in 2010 and 2011 (C and D lineups) -- and likely sold for many years after that -- will stop functioning December 2, Samsung alerted customers this week. In a statement, a company spokesperson said these TV models were sold only in the U.S. and Canada. In its statement, the top smart TV manufacturer advised affected customers to look for a game console, streaming media player, set-top box or other devices that still support Netflix app to continue their binge-watching sessions. A Netflix spokesperson cited technical limitations for the change. The developement comes weeks after Netflix alerted several Roku customers that they, too, will lose access to the streaming service on December 1.
OpenAI Has Published the Text-Generating AI it Said Was Too Dangerous To Share
The research lab OpenAI has
released the full version of a text-generating AI system that experts warned could be used for malicious purposes. From a report:
The institute originally announced the system, GPT-2, in February this year, but withheld the full version of the program out of fear it would be used to spread fake news, spam, and disinformation. Since then it's released smaller, less complex versions of GPT-2 and studied their reception. Others also replicated the work. In a blog post this week, OpenAI now says it's seen "no strong evidence of misuse" and has released the model in full.
GPT-2 is part of a new breed of text-generation systems that have impressed experts with their ability to generate coherent text from minimal prompts. The system was trained on eight million text documents scraped from the web and responds to text snippets supplied by users. Feed it a fake headline, for example, and it will write a news story; give it the first line of a poem and it'll supply a whole verse. It's tricky to convey exactly how good GPT-2's output is, but the model frequently produces eerily cogent writing that can often give the appearance of intelligence (though that's not to say what GPT-2 is doing involves anything we'd recognize as cognition).
A Ton of People Received Text Messages Overnight That Were Originally Sent on Valentine's Day
Something strange is happening with text messages in the US right now. Overnight, a multitude of people
received text messages that appear to have originally been sent on or around Valentine's Day 2019. From a report:
These people never received the text messages in the first place; the people who sent the messages had no idea that they had never been received, and they did nothing to attempt to resend them overnight. Delayed messages were sent from and received by both iPhones and Android phones, and the messages seem to have been sent and received across all major carriers in the US. Many of the complaints involve T-Mobile or Sprint, although AT&T and Verizon have been mentioned as well. People using regional US carriers, carriers in Canada, and even Google Voice also seem to have experienced delays. At fault seems to be a system that multiple cell carriers use for messaging. A Sprint spokesperson said a "maintenance update" last night caused the error.
The July Galileo Outage: What Happened and Why
There's a funny thing about a global satellite system that beams signals down to anyone to use: It also means anyone can monitor the performance thereof. So when such a system suffers a crippling days-long outage and the operators are tight-lipped about why, look no further than Bert Hubert (who you may know from the PowerDNS project) to scramble together a bunch of code and a worldwide network of volunteers, to analyze exactly what happened. This is the story of how and why the Galileo GNSS network was down for a whole week.
Apple Services Censored in China Where Devices Flourished
When it comes to many of Apple's latest services,
iPhone users in China are missing out. From a report:
Podcast choices are paltry. Apple TV+ is off the air. News subscriptions are blocked, and Arcade gaming is nowhere to be found. For years, Apple made huge inroads in the world's most populous nation with hardware that boasted crisp displays, sleek lines and speedy processors. It peddled little of the content that boxed U.S. internet giants Google and Facebook out of the country. But now that Apple is becoming a major digital services provider, it's struggling to avoid the fate of its rivals.
Apple services such as the App Store, digital books, news, video, podcasts and music, put the company in the more precarious position of information provider (or at least overseer), exposing it to a growing online crackdown by China's authoritarian government. While standard iPhone services like iMessage work in China, many paid offerings that help Apple generate recurring revenue from its devices aren't available in the country. That includes four new services that Apple announced this year: TV+ video streaming, the Apple Card, Apple Arcade and the News+ subscription. Other well-known Apple services can't be accessed in the country either, including the iTunes Store, iTunes Movie rentals, Apple Books and the Apple TV and Apple News apps. Over the past year, Apple's Weather app lost its ability to show air quality index, or AQI, data for Chinese cities -- regardless of the user's location, the report adds. (Though this was due to a business dispute with Weather Channel.)
Facebook Crypto Boss: 'I Don't Think of Bitcoin as a Currency'
David Marcus, the head of Facebook's cryptocurrency projects, says that Bitcoin is digital gold,
but it's not a good currency for transactions. From a report:
"I don't think of Bitcoin as a currency. It's actually not a great medium of exchange because of its volatility," Marcus said speaking at the New York Times DealBook Conference in New York. "I see it as digital gold." Marcus said Bitcoin is like gold because you can hold on to it as an investment just as people do with actual gold, but the drastic upswings and dips that Bitcoin goes through makes it a bad option for people who need a system to send remittances across borders. That is a key market that Facebook is targeting with its Libra cryptocurrency and Calibra digital wallet. Unlike Bitcoin, Libra's value will be tied to currencies like the U.S. dollar and the Euro, which will help it remain stable. Marcus said a key reason that Bitcoin has not been regulated out of existence is because it is not perceived to be a medium of exchange. "It's an investment class that's decorrelated from the rest of the market," Marcus said. "Why feel threatened by that?"
Microsoft's $3,500 HoloLens 2 Starts Shipping
Earlier this year at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft announced the
second generation of its HoloLens augmented reality visor. Today,
the $3,500 HoloLens 2 is going on sale in the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia and New Zealand, the same countries where it was previously available for pre-order. From a report:
Ahead of the launch, I got to spend some time with the latest model, after a brief demo in Barcelona earlier this year. Users will immediately notice the larger field of view, which still doesn't cover your full field of view, but offers a far better experience compared to the first version (where you often felt like you were looking at the virtual objects through a stamp-sized window). The team also greatly enhanced the overall feel of wearing the device. It's not light, at 1.3 pounds, but with the front visor that flips up and the new mounting system that is far more comfortable. In regular use, existing users will also immediately notice the new gestures for opening up the Start menu (this is Windows 10, after all). Instead of a 'bloom' gesture, which often resulted in false positives, you now simply tap on the palm of your hand, where a Microsoft logo now appears when you look at it.
Chronicle, the Google Moonshot Cybersecurity Startup That Was Supposed To Completely Change the Industry, is Imploding
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai and Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard:
In early 2018, Google's parent conglomerate Alphabet announced the birth of a new "independent" startup that was supposed to revolutionize cybersecurity. Chronicle was meant to be a new type of startup. One of its products was designed to structure, organize, and help companies understand their security related data -- a "Google Photos for businesses' network security," as Forbes put it when the company announced its first product this year. The promise was radical: Chronicle would leverage machine learning and Alphabet's near-endless well of security telemetry data about known malware and internet infrastructure and use it to help security teams at companies detect intrusions that could threaten a company's network. Crucially, Chronicle would also remain independent from Google, according to Stephen Gillett, the startup's CEO.
"We want to 10x the speed and impact of security teams' work by making it much easier, faster and more cost-effective for them to capture and analyze security signals that have previously been too difficult and expensive to find," Gillett wrote in a blog post announcing Chronicle. "We know this mission is going to take years, but we're committed to seeing it through." At the time it was unclear what Chronicle was going to be. But industry observers were excited for what they thought was going to be a significant disruptor in an industry that is full of relatively old technologies such as antivirus and firewalls, is rife with products that offer solutions in search of a problem and outright snake oil. "Chronicle is dead," a current employee told Motherboard. "Stephen [Gillett] and Google killed it." Employees have left because of a combination of Chronicle losing its original vision, a distant CEO, a lack of clarity about Chronicle's future, and disappointment that the startup has been swallowed into Google, according to interviews with five current and former employees who were present across different stages of Chronicle's growth.
How Cloudflare Stood up to a Patent Troll -- and Won
sued by a notorious patent troll Blackbird Technologies in 2016. Instead of giving up to its demands,
Cloudflare employed a different strategy. From a blog post:
In October 2016, Blackbird was looking to acquire additional patents for their portfolio when they found an incredibly broad software patent with the ambiguous title, "PROVIDING AN INTERNET THIRD PARTY DATA CHANNEL." They acquired this patent from its owner for $1 plus "other good and valuable consideration." A little later, in March 2017, Blackbird decided to assert that patent against Cloudflare. [...] Companies facing such claims usually convince themselves that settlements in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars are quicker and cheaper outcomes than facing years of litigation and millions of dollars in attorneys fees. We decided we would do our best to turn the incentive structure on its head and make patent trolls think twice before attempting to take advantage of the system. We created Project Jengo in an effort to remove this economic asymmetry from the litigation. In our initial blog post we suggested we could level the playing field by: (i) defending ourselves vigorously against the patent lawsuit instead of rolling over and paying a licensing fee or settling, (ii) funding awards for crowdsourced prior art that could be used to invalidate any of Blackbird's patents, not just the one asserted against Cloudflare, and (iii) asking the relevant bar associations to investigate what we considered to be Blackbird's violations of the rules of professional conduct for attorneys.
As promised, we fought the lawsuit vigorously. And as explained in a blog post earlier this year, we won as convincing a victory as one could in federal litigation at both the trial and appellate levels. In early 2018, the District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed the case Blackbird brought against us on subject matter eligibility grounds in response to an Alice motion. In a mere two-page order, Judge Vince Chhabria held that "[a]bstract ideas are not patentable" and Blackbird's assertion of the patent "attempts to monopolize the abstract idea of monitoring a preexisting data stream between a server and a client." Essentially, the case was rejected before it ever really started because the court found Blackbird's patent to be invalid. Blackbird appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which unceremoniously affirmed the lower court decision dismissing the appeal just three days after the appellate argument was heard. Following this ruling, we celebrated.
As noted in our earlier blog post, although we won the litigation as quickly and easily as possible, the federal litigation process still lasted nearly two years, involved combined legal filings of more than 1,500 pages, and ran up considerable legal expenses. Blackbird's right to seek review of the decision by the US Supreme Court expired this summer, so the case is now officially over. As we've said from the start, we only intended to pursue Project Jengo as long as the case remained active. Even though we won decisively in court, that alone is not enough to change the incentive structure around patent troll suits. Patent trolls are repeat players who don't have significant operations, so the costs of litigation and discovery are much less for them.
Adobe Exec Defends Photoshop for iPad After App Falls Flat
Adobe debuted its most important mobile application ever this week when it
finally released Photoshop for Apple's iPad. But with key capabilities missing, many within the company's vast fan base have panned the application,
prompting the app's overseer to publicly defend his product. From a report:
Scott Belsky, chief product officer of Adobe's Creative Cloud division, tweeted about the "painful" early reviews for a product his team has worked on for years. Right now in Apple's App Store, Photoshop for iPad has a user review rating of 2.3 out of 5 stars. Belsky tweeted a screenshot of the metric, saying it made sense that a re-imagination of a popular 30-year-old product would displease many. Bloomberg News reported last month that the beta version of the touchscreen Photoshop app upset testers who missed many of the popular functions they'd grown accustomed to over the years.
"If you try to make everybody happy w/ a v1, you'll either never ship or make nobody happy," Belsky tweeted. "Such feats require customer feedback to truly exceed expectations. You must ship and get fellow passionate travelers on board. But for a team with the right vision and commitment, being doubted and critiqued is motivating and informing." Belsky also responded to users who tweeted about not enjoying Photoshop on Apple's tablet, recommending they try Adobe's drawing app, Fresco. While it's hard, it's important to build products "with customers" rather than "hidden in the lab," he added.
First New HIV Strain In 19 Years Identified
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American:
A research group at the medical devices and health care giant Abbott has discovered a new strain of human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV -- the first to be identified in 19 years. Abbott continues to look for potential new HIV strains to ensure that diagnostic tests for blood screening and detecting infectious diseases remain up to date, says Mary Rodgers, senior author of the paper announcing the finding and head of the company's Global Viral Surveillance Program. The new strain, called HIV-1 group M subtype L, is extremely rare and can be detected by Abbott's current screening system, Rodgers says. The company's tests screen more than 60 percent of the global blood supply, she adds, noting it must detect every strain and "has to be right every time."
The most recent of the three samples used to identify HIV-1 group M subtype L has been sitting in an Abbott freezer since 2001. The amount of virus in the sample was too low to read back then, but new technology recently made it possible. Comparing that sequence with the others made available by the research community, Abbott researchers found two additional examples of the strain -- in samples from 1983 and 1990, also from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, hinting that it has been around for a while. "Now that we know it exists, it'll change how we look for it," Rodgers says. The company's tests focus on the part of the viral genome that does not change very much from generation to generation, which is why it was able to detect the new strain. The finding also suggests there are more strains to be found, Rodgers says. "The full diversity has not been characterized. We're going to continue to look." The study has been
published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
A Bipartisan Group of Senators Wants To Extend the Space Station To 2030
A bipartisan group of senators has
filed a new bill that sets out space policy for NASA over the coming decade. "The new authorizing legislation is largely consistent with much of NASA's present activities, but it differs from White House policy in some key respects," reports Ars Technica. "Most notably, the legislation
calls for NASA to support the International Space Station through 2030." From the report:
The Trump administration has sought to commercialize space stations in low Earth orbit by 2025, perhaps by becoming a customer on a privately operated International Space Station or by supporting the development of smaller, private labs. "By extending the ISS through 2030, this legislation will help grow our already burgeoning space economy, fortifying the United States' leadership in space, increasing American competitiveness around the world, and creating more jobs and opportunity here at home," said Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who chairs a subcommittee on space and aviation, in a news release.
Cruz was joined by three other senators in introducing the NASA Authorization Act of 2019: the subcommittee's ranking member, Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), as well as Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who are chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, respectively. The new legislation follows the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, which Cruz also led and which President Trump signed into law in March 2017. However, almost immediately after that bill became a law, Cruz characterized it as an interim measure to steady NASA through the presidential transition. The new bill is intended as a more expansive view of space policy, and it encompasses the Trump administration's Artemis Program to land humans on the Moon.
Vast Dragnet Targets Theft of Biomedical Secrets For China
schwit1 shares a report from The New York Times:
The N.I.H. and the F.B.I. have begun a vast effort to root out scientists who they say are stealing biomedical research for other countries from institutions across the United States. Almost all of the incidents they uncovered and that are under investigation involve scientists of Chinese descent, including naturalized American citizens, allegedly stealing for China. Seventy-one institutions, including many of the most prestigious medical schools in the United States, are now investigating 180 individual cases involving potential theft of intellectual property. The cases began after the N.I.H., prompted by information provided by the F.B.I., sent 18,000 letters last year urging administrators who oversee government grants to be vigilant. So far, the N.I.H. has referred 24 cases in which there may be evidence of criminal activity to the inspector general's office of the Department of Health and Human Services, which may turn over the cases for criminal prosecution.
The investigations have fanned fears that China is exploiting the relative openness of the American scientific system to engage in wholesale economic espionage. At the same time, the scale of the dragnet has sent a tremor through the ranks of biomedical researchers, some of whom say ethnic Chinese scientists are being unfairly targeted for scrutiny as Washington's geopolitical competition with Beijing intensifies. The alleged theft involves not military secrets, but scientific ideas, designs, devices, data and methods that may lead to profitable new treatments or diagnostic tools. Some researchers under investigation have obtained patents in China on work funded by the United States government and owned by American institutions, the N.I.H. said. Others are suspected of setting up labs in China that secretly duplicated American research, according to government officials and university administrators. [...] [R]oughly a dozen scientists are known to have resigned or been fired from universities and research centers across the United States so far. Some have declined to discuss the allegations against them; others have denied any wrongdoing. In several cases, scientists supported by the N.I.H. or other federal agencies are accused of accepting funding from the Chinese government in violation of N.I.H. rules. Some have said that they did not know the arrangements had to be disclosed or were forbidden.