- The World's First Gattaca Baby Tests Are Finally Here
- 'Platinum' Hacking Group Strikes Again With Complex Titanium Backdoor To Windows
- GIF Site Gfycat Announces Mass Deletions, Threatens Archive Team With Lawsuit
- Six Arrested For Selling Chinese Gear To Military As 'Made In America'
- Vaping Illnesses Linked To Vitamin E Acetate, CDC Says
- Trippy T-Shirt Makes You Invisible To AI
- Mozilla Hits Google, Facebook For 'Microtargeting' Political Ads
- House Plants Have Little Effect on Indoor Air Quality, Study Concludes
- GitLab Director Resigns, Says It's Engaging In 'Retaliatory Behavior'
- EU's Vestager Says Google's Antitrust Proposal Not Helping Shopping Rivals
- Amazon Is Accused of Forcing Up Prices in Antitrust Complaint
- Work-Life Balance: After Cryptographer's Lawsuit, BAE Division Will Retrain HR
- Firefox Turns 15
- In China, Shutterstock Censors Hong Kong and Other Searches
- DNS-over-HTTPS Will Eventually Roll Out in All Major Browsers, Despite ISP Opposition
- Netflix, HBO and Cable Giants Are Exploring New Ways Such as Authentication Using Fingerprints To Crack Down on Password Sharing
- NASA Flew Gas Detectors Above California, Found 'Super Emitters'
- Ambrosia, the Young Blood Transfusion Startup, Is Quietly Back in Business
- Facebook Staff Lamented 'Unethical' Practices But Were Rebuffed
- Ransomware, Data Breaches At Hospitals Tied To Uptick In Fatal Heart Attacks
- Bill Gates Thinks Windows Mobile Would Have Beaten Android Without Microsoft's Antitrust Woes
- Delays in Boeing Max Return Began With Near-Crash in Simulator
- Kepler Achieves a World-First For Satellite Broadband With 100Mbps Connection To the Arctic
- The Cost For Each SLS Launch Is Over $2 Billion
The World's First Gattaca Baby Tests Are Finally Here
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review:
Anxious couples are approaching fertility doctors in the US with requests for a hotly debated new genetic test being called "23andMe, but on embryos." The baby-picking test is being offered by a New Jersey startup company, Genomic Prediction, whose plans we first reported on two years ago. The company says it can use DNA measurements to predict which embryos from an IVF procedure are least likely to end up with any of 11 different common diseases. In the next few weeks it's set to release case studies on its first clients.
Handed report cards on a batch of frozen embryos, parents can use the test results to try to choose the healthiest ones. The grades include risk estimates for diabetes, heart attacks, and five types of cancer. According to flyers distributed by the company, it will also warn clients about any embryo predicted to become a person who is among the shortest 2% of the population, or who is in the lowest 2% in intelligence. The test is straight out of the science fiction film Gattaca, a movie that's one of the inspirations of the startup's CEO, Laurent Tellier. The company's other cofounders are testing expert Nathan Treff and Stephen Hsu, a Michigan State University administrator and media pundit. So far, fertility centers have not leaped at the chance to offer the test, which is new and unproven. Instead, prospective parents are learning about the designer baby reports through word of mouth or news articles and taking the company's flyer to their doctors. "The test (called "LifeView") is carried out on a few cells plucked from a days-old IVF embryo," the report says. "Then Genomic Prediction measures its DNA at several hundred thousand genetic positions, from which it says it can create a statistical estimate, called a 'polygenic score,' of the chance of disease later in life."
Criticism of the company from some genetics researchers has been intense. "It is irresponsible to suggest that the science is at the point where we could reliably predict which embryo to select to minimize the risk of disease. The science simply isn't there yet," says Graham Coop, a geneticist at the University of California, Davis, and a frequent critic of the company on Twitter.
'Platinum' Hacking Group Strikes Again With Complex Titanium Backdoor To Windows
Freshly Exhumed shares a report from Securelist:
Platinum is one of the most technologically advanced APT actors with a traditional focus on the APAC region. During recent analysis we discovered Platinum using a new backdoor that we call Titanium (named after a password to one of the self-executable archives). Titanium is the final result of a sequence of dropping, downloading and installing stages. The malware hides at every step by mimicking common software (protection related, sound drivers software, DVD video creation tools).
The Titanium APT has a very complicated infiltration scheme. It involves numerous steps and requires good coordination between all of them. In addition, none of the files in the file system can be detected as malicious due to the use of encryption and fileless technologies. One other feature that makes detection harder is the mimicking of well-known software. One of the methods Titanium uses to infect its targets and spread is via a local intranet that has already been compromised with malware. Another is via an SFX archive containing a Windows task installation script. A third is shellcode that gets injected into the winlogon.exe process (it's still unknown how this happens).
GIF Site Gfycat Announces Mass Deletions, Threatens Archive Team With Lawsuit
threatening to sue Archive Team for archiving the site's old, anonymously-posted images that are
marked for deletion. Gfycat's CEO, Dan McEleney,
says archiving the memes it hosts is a "denial of service attack" and demands compensation. From a report:
The fallout is ongoing on Twitter, with users of the site panicking about their old content and the company asking for (and being refused) private negotiations with Internet Archive, which [Archive Team founder Jason Scott] points out is not the same entity as the legally-threatened Archive Team.
Six Arrested For Selling Chinese Gear To Military As 'Made In America'
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
In August 2018, an Air Force service member noticed something strange about a body camera being used by security personnel at an Air Force base: Chinese characters on the screen. A subsequent investigation found numerous indications that the camera -- and two dozen others in the same shipment -- had been made in China. Investigators found three telling logos in the camera's firmware: an Air Force Logo, the logo of the Chinese company that made the camera, and the logo of China's ministry of public security. Forensic analysis indicated that all three images had been loaded on the camera at the same time by someone in a Chinese time zone. This suggested that not only was the camera made in China, but the Chinese knew that the body camera would be shipped to an Air Force facility.
How did a Chinese-made digital camera wind up at a US Air Force base? In a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday, federal prosecutors blamed Aventura, a New York-based company that has been fraudulently re-selling Chinese-made gear for more than a decade. On Thursday, six of the company's founders and senior officials were arrested and charged with fraud and other crimes. [...] [S]ince 2006, the feds say, Aventura has been buying Chinese-made cameras, metal detectors, and other products, slapping "Made in America" logos on them, and re-selling them in the United States -- to customers including U.S. government agencies who are legally prohibited from buying such items.
Vaping Illnesses Linked To Vitamin E Acetate, CDC Says
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times:
Vitamin E acetate, an ingredient added to THC-based products, has been identified as a "very strong culprit" in the vaping-related lung injuries (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source) that have sickened 2,051 people and killed more than three dozen, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday. But the agency left open the possibility that other chemicals or toxins could also be causing the severe respiratory ailments. The report is based on finding the vitamin compound in fluid samples taken from the lungs of 29 patients who had the lung disease. "For the first time, we have detected a potential toxin of concern, vitamin E acetate, from biological samples from patients," with lung damage linked to vaping, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the C.D.C., said at a news briefing. The samples, she said, "provided evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury in the lungs."
Samples taken from the patients were also tested for plant oils, petroleum distillates like mineral oil and other potentially harmful substances, which were "notably not detected," the C.D.C. said. The findings are being published in Friday's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. About 70 percent of the patients are male, 79 percent are younger than 35 and 86 percent say that they have vaped THC. Many of the products used by those who became ill were illicitly obtained, public health experts have said, by patients who bought them from friends or on the street. Vaping oils typically include other additives, solvents and flavor enhancers. Vitamin E acetate is sometimes added to dilute the THC to increase profits or as a thickening agent.
Trippy T-Shirt Makes You Invisible To AI
In modern cities, we're constantly surveilled through CCTV cameras in both public and private spaces, and by companies trying to sell us shit based on everything we do. We are always being watched. But
what if a simple T-shirt could make you invisible to commercial AIs trying to spot humans?
A team of researchers from Northeastern University, IBM, and MIT developed a T-shirt design that hides the wearer from image recognition systems by confusing the algorithms trying to spot people into thinking they're invisible. Adversarial designs, as this kind of anti-AI tech is known, are meant to "trick" object detection algorithms into seeing something different from what's there, or not seeing anything at all. In some cases, these designs are made by tweaking parts of a whole image just enough so that the AI can't read it correctly. The change might be imperceptible to a human, but to a machine vision algorithm it can be very effective: In 2017, researchers fooled computers into thinking a turtle was a rifle. A T-shirt is a low-barrier way to move around the world unnoticed by AI watchers. Previously, researchers have tried to create adversarial fashion using patches attached to stiff cardboard, so that the design doesn't distort on soft fabric while the wearer moves. If the design is warped or part of it isn't visible, it becomes ineffective.
Mozilla Hits Google, Facebook For 'Microtargeting' Political Ads
calling on Google and Facebook to stop "microtargeting" political ads. "Political speech is critical to democratic discourse, but against the very real circumstances of organized disinformation and organic misinformation today, microtargeting keeps ideas from being debated in the open, and fiction parades as fact," Ashley Boyd, Mozilla's advocacy vice president, said in a statement. "Online platforms can take the important step toward quelling the manipulation by limiting political ads to a scale where they facilitate a public discourse." The Hill reports:
Microtargeting, a method which uses consumer data and demographics to narrowly segment audiences, is used by political campaigns to specialize ads for different voting groups. The practice's critics include Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, who wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that microtargeting makes it "easy to single out susceptible groups and direct political misinformation to them with little accountability, because the public at large never sees the ad." Mozilla's call follows reports that Facebook has considered restricting politicians' access to microtargeting.
House Plants Have Little Effect on Indoor Air Quality, Study Concludes
New research from a duo of environmental engineers at Drexel University is suggesting the decades-old claim that
house plants improve indoor air quality is entirely wrong. Evaluating 30 years of studies, the
research concludes it would take hundreds of plants in a small space to even come close to the air purifying effects of simply opening a couple of windows. From a report:
Back in 1989 an incredibly influential NASA study discovered a number of common indoor plants could effectively remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. The experiment, ostensibly conducted to investigate whether plants could assist in purifying the air on space stations, gave birth to the idea of plants in home and office environments helping clear the air. Since then, a number of experimental studies have seemed to verify NASA'a findings that plants do remove VOCs from indoor environments. Professor of architectural and environmental engineering at Drexel University Michael Waring, and one of his PhD students, Bryan Cummings, were skeptical of this common consensus. The problem they saw was that the vast majority of these experiments were not conducted in real-world environments.
To better understand exactly how well potted plants can remove VOCs from indoor environments, the researchers reviewed the data from a dozen published experiments. They evaluated the efficacy of a plant's ability to remove VOCs from the air using a metric called CADR, or clean air delivery rate. "The CADR is the standard metric used for scientific study of the impacts of air purifiers on indoor environments," says Waring, "but many of the researchers conducting these studies were not looking at them from an environmental engineering perspective and did not understand how building air exchange rates interplay with the plants to affect indoor air quality." Once the researchers had calculated the rate at which plants dissipated VOCs in each study they quickly discovered that the effect of plants on air quality in real-world scenarios was essentially irrelevant. Air handling systems in big buildings were found to be significantly more effective in dissipating VOCs in indoor environments. In fact, to clear VOCs from just one square meter (10.7 sq ft) of floor space would take up to 1,000 plants, or just the standard outdoor-to-indoor air exchange systems that already exist in most large buildings.
GitLab Director Resigns, Says It's Engaging In 'Retaliatory Behavior'
Candice Ciresi, GitLab's director of risk and global compliance,
has resigned after less than six months on the job, apparently saying that the $2.75 billion startup is "engaging in discriminatory and retaliatory behavior." Business Insider reports:
Notably, Ciresi resigned in public: GitLab espouses a culture of transparency, whereby all major product and corporate policy decisions are announced and discussed where anybody can see. She posted her resignation in response to one such discussion -- an active debate over a proposed GitLab policy, in which it would ban the hiring of people who live in China or Russia for any role that would require access to customer data. At the time of writing, Ciresi's post announcing her resignation had been reviewed and then "redacted" by GitLab, citing concerns that it would "further inflame this situation." However, Ciresi's comment went out via email to GitLab users who had subscribed to this particular discussion.
Per a screenshot posted to Reddit, Ciresi wrote: "As I believe GitLab is engaging in discriminatory and retaliatory behavior, I have tendered my resignation." "We did decide to moderate this post for review, as there have already been credible personal and physical threats against GitLab employees in this issue thread," GitLab says, in part, in place of Ciresi's comment. "While this particular post did not contain a personal threat to anyone, we were concerned it would further inflame this situation." GitLab confirmed Ciresi's departure but didn't comment any further.
EU's Vestager Says Google's Antitrust Proposal Not Helping Shopping Rivals
Google's proposal to
create a level playing field for price comparison shopping rivals to stave off fresh fines has
not led to more traffic for its competitors, Europe's antitrust chief said this week. From a report:
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager two years ago slapped Google with a $2.65 billion fine for favoring its own price comparison shopping service and told it to stop its anti-competitive business practices. The world's most popular internet search engine subsequently offered to allow competitors to bid for advertising space at the top of a search page, giving them the chance to compete on equal terms.
The proposal does not seem to be doing the trick, Vestager said. "We may see a show of rivals in the shopping box. We may see a pickup when it comes to clicks for merchants. But we still do not see much traffic for viable competitors when it comes to shopping comparison," she told a Web Summit conference. British price comparison service Foundem, whose original complaint triggered the EU case against Google
Amazon Is Accused of Forcing Up Prices in Antitrust Complaint
In a letter sent to federal lawmakers, an online merchant has accused Amazon.com of
forcing him and other sellers to use the company's expensive logistics services, which in turn forces them to raise prices for consumers. From a report:
The 62-page document, reviewed by Bloomberg, lays out an antitrust case that emphasizes harm to consumers -- the traditional basis for such cases in the U.S. Until now, antitrust experts have suggested that Amazon was not vulnerable to such an argument and that regulators would need to find another way to restrain the company's growing market power. The complaint, based on an analysis of thousands of Amazon transactions over several years involving more than 100 products, turns all of that thinking on its head. It accuses Amazon of "tying" its marketplace and logistics services together, an antitrust violation in which a company uses dominance in one market to give itself an advantage in another market where it's less established.
The letter refers to previous Supreme Court rulings on tying, including one against Kodak in 1992 that said the photocopier manufacturer violated antitrust laws by forcing customers who bought its machines to also use its parts and repair services. "When it comes to Amazon's dealings with third-party merchants, some of the conduct actually does lend itself to antitrust scrutiny," said Hal Singer, an antitrust expert and Georgetown University adjunct professor retained by the merchant to work on the analysis. "If you can connect the conduct to some measureable harm, in this case increased prices, that gets you into the antitrust ballpark."
Work-Life Balance: After Cryptographer's Lawsuit, BAE Division Will Retrain HR
Longtime Slashdot reader
Back in 2015, defense giant BAE Systems fired cryptographer Don Davis on his first day of work, after learning he didn't want to work more than 40 hours a week while caring for his dying wife. Davis filed a federal lawsuit, and the Boston Globe suggested that the company should settle it rather than try to defend the "soullessness of the machine."
It's unusual for the public to hear anything about settlements of lawsuits like this; they're usually kept confidential to avoid publicity. So it's remarkable that BAE and Davis have now issued a joint statement that the lawsuit is resolved, with one division of BAE announcing that they will retrain their HR staff about male employees with caregiving responsibilities. Maybe one part of the machine has gotten a little less soulless. Could this become a trend, where tech companies have to actually let employees have some sort of a life?
On November 9 2004, a new version of Mozilla's browser called Firefox shipped. It was taking on one of the most daunting monopolies in tech: Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which had more than 90 percent market share. But Firefox was really good, and it became an instant hit, ending Microsoft's dominance of the web. Over at Fast Company, Sean Captain took a look at the browser's original rise, the challenges it faced after Google's Chrome arrived on the scene, and the moves it's currently making to put user privacy first.
In China, Shutterstock Censors Hong Kong and Other Searches
Shutterstock, the well-known online purveyor of stock images and photographs, is the latest U.S. company to willingly support China's censorship regime,
blocking searches that might offend the country's authoritarian government,
The Intercept reported this week. From the report:
The publicly traded company built a $639 million-per-year business on the strength of its vast -- sometimes comically vast -- catalog of images depicting virtually anything a blogger or advertiser could imagine. The company now does business in more than 150 countries. But in China, there is now a very small, very significant gap in Shutterstock's offerings. In early September, Shutterstock engineers were given a new goal: The creation of a search blacklist that would wipe from query results images associated with keywords forbidden by the Chinese government. Under the new system, which The Intercept is told went into effect last month, anyone with a mainland Chinese IP address searching Shutterstock for "President Xi," "Chairman Mao," "Taiwan flag," "dictator," "yellow umbrella," or "Chinese flag" will receive no results at all. Variations of these terms, including "umbrella movement" -- the precursor to the mass pro-democracy protests currently gripping Hong Kong -- are also banned.
[...] Shutterstock's censorship feature appears to have been immediately controversial within the company, prompting more than 180 Shutterstock workers to sign a petition against the search blacklist and accuse the company of trading its values for access to the lucrative Chinese market. Chinese internet users already struggle to discuss even the tamest of taboo subjects; now, it seemed, the situation would get a little worse, with the aid of yet another willing American company.
DNS-over-HTTPS Will Eventually Roll Out in All Major Browsers, Despite ISP Opposition
All major browsers -- including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Microsoft Edge, Vivaldi, Brave --
have plans to support DNS-over-HTTPS (or DoH), a protocol that encrypts DNS traffic and helps improve a user's privacy on the web. From a report:
The DoH protocol has been one of the year's hot topics. It's a protocol that, when deployed inside a browser, it allows the browser to hide DNS requests and responses inside regular-looking HTTPS traffic. Doing this makes a user's DNS traffic invisible to third-party network observers, such as ISPs. But while users love DoH and have deemed it a privacy boon, ISPs, networking operators, and cyber-security vendors hate it. A UK ISP called Mozilla an "internet villain" for its plans to roll out DoH, and a Comcast-backed lobby group has been caught preparing a misleading document about DoH that they were planning to present to US lawmakers in the hopes of preventing DoH's broader rollout. However, this may be a little too late. ZDNet has spent the week reaching out to major web browser providers to gauge their future plans regarding DoH, and all vendors plan to ship it, in one form or another.
Netflix, HBO and Cable Giants Are Exploring New Ways Such as Authentication Using Fingerprints To Crack Down on Password Sharing
A coalition that includes Netflix, HBO and cable-industry titans is
stepping up efforts to crack down on password sharing, discussing new measures to close a loophole that could be costing companies billions of dollars in lost revenue each year,
Bloomberg reported Friday. From the report:
Programmers and cable-TV distributors are considering an array of tactics to cut off people who borrow credentials from friends and relatives to access programming without paying for it. The possible measures include requiring customers to change their passwords periodically or texting codes to subscribers' phones that they would need to enter to keep watching, according to people familiar with the matter. Some TV executives want to create rules governing which devices can be used to access a cable-TV subscription outside the home. While someone logging in from a phone or tablet would be fine, someone using a Roku device at a second location could be considered a likely freeloader, one person said. If none of those tactics work, pay-TV subscribers could someday be required to sign into their accounts using their thumbprints.
NASA Flew Gas Detectors Above California, Found 'Super Emitters'
Over the course of three years, NASA flew a plane carrying gas-imaging equipment above California and made a discovery that surprised even the state's own environmental agencies: A handful of operations are
responsible for the vast majority of methane emissions. From a report:
In a report published in Nature on Wednesday, scientists estimated that 10% of the places releasing methane -- including landfills, natural gas facilities and dairy farms -- are responsible for more than half of the state's total emissions. And a fraction of the 272,000 sources surveyed -- just 0.2% -- account for as much as 46%. The report doesn't identify these "super emitters," but notes that landfills give off more methane than any other source in the state. NASA's equipment found that a subset of these landfills were the largest emitters in California and exhibited "persistent anomalous activity."
The study marks the first time anyone has ever carried out a systematic survey across California of methane, a greenhouse gas that's 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat and contributing to global warming. The release of methane has been a continual challenge for California, which has some of the most aggressive goals in the nation for curbing emissions and slowing the impacts of climate change. NASA's aircraft made dozens of flights across 10,000 square miles from 2016 through 2018. Landfills accounted for 41% of the source emissions it identified, manure management 26% and oil and gas operations 26%.
Ambrosia, the Young Blood Transfusion Startup, Is Quietly Back in Business
Earlier this year, Ambrosia, the much-maligned California startup
selling blood transfusions from young donors, stopped offering the procedure after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a buyer beware, warning consumers against using the service. But now, according to Ambrosia's CEO, the company is back up and running. From a report:
Jesse Karmazin, the CEO and founder of Ambrosia, told OneZero in an interview that the company had resumed giving customers transfusions of plasma, the colorless liquid part of the blood, from young donors about a month ago. "Our patients really want the treatment," he said. "Patients are receiving plasma transfusions from donors ages 16 to 25 again." One-liter transfusions cost $8,000, and two-liter transfusions are $12,000. In a pitch about Ambrosia at a 2017 conference on self-enhancement, Karmazin said, "We're a company interested in making you young again." Plasma contains proteins that help the blood clot, and transfusions are often performed on patients to manage excessive bleeding, such as in trauma cases, and to treat clotting disorders like hemophilia. But experts say there's no basis for using plasma to slow or reverse aging or age-related diseases, like Karmazin has claimed. Critics have blasted Karmazin's transfusions as snake oil.
Facebook Staff Lamented 'Unethical' Practices But Were Rebuffed
Facebook employees repeatedly chafed at what they viewed as anti-competitive or unethical practices by the company, internal chats show. But their concerns, voiced in 2012 and 2013, were
overruled by senior managers including Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, who argued that the survival of the social network was more important. From a report:
The messages come from a roughly 7,000-page trove of leaked documents that were part of a years-old lawsuit in San Mateo County, California. The interactions are likely to be scrutinized further as Facebook faces ongoing antitrust investigations. In multiple discussions found in the documents, employees, including some top executives, argued against policies that would cut off competitors' ability to advertise on the platform and access Facebook's audience and user information, which it provided to non-competing companies.
Zuckerberg, in a November 2012 email, justified the decision to not provide services to competitors. Facebook software that helped app developers increase sharing "may be good for the world but it's not good for us unless people also share back to Facebook and that content increases the value of our network," Zuckerberg wrote. The company's ultimate goal should be "to increase sharing back into Facebook," he added. In later messages, Zuckerberg also argued against giving competing companies access to other Facebook services.
Ransomware, Data Breaches At Hospitals Tied To Uptick In Fatal Heart Attacks
Hospitals that have been hit by a data breach or ransomware attack can expect to see an increase in the death rate among heart patients in the following months or years because of cybersecurity remediation efforts, a new study posits. Health industry experts say the findings should prompt a larger review of how security -- or the lack thereof -- may be impacting patient outcomes. Researchers at Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management took the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) list of healthcare data breaches and used it to drill down on data about patient mortality rates at more than 3,000 Medicare-certified hospitals, about 10 percent of which had experienced a data breach. As PBS noted in its coverage of the Vanderbilt study, after data breaches as many as 36 additional deaths per 10,000 heart attacks occurred annually at the hundreds of hospitals examined. The researchers found that for care centers that experienced a breach, it took an additional 2.7 minutes for suspected heart attack patients to receive an electrocardiogram.
Bill Gates Thinks Windows Mobile Would Have Beaten Android Without Microsoft's Antitrust Woes
Bill Gates has revealed that he thinks everyone would be using Windows Mobile right now if Microsoft
hadn't have been caught up in a US Justice Department antitrust investigation. From a report:
Speaking at The New York Times' DealBook Conference earlier this week, Gates revealed his thoughts on Microsoft's mobile mistakes. "There's no doubt that the antitrust lawsuit was bad for Microsoft, and we would have been more focused on creating the phone operating system and so instead of using Android today you would be using Windows Mobile," claimed Gates. "If it hadn't been for the antitrust case... we were so close, I was just too distracted. I screwed that up because of the distraction."
Microsoft's messy move from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone allowed Android to thrive, but at the time the company had the biggest opportunity in mobile and gave it away. Gates also revealed that Microsoft also missed the opportunity to launch Windows Mobile on a key Motorola handset. "We were just three months too late on a release Motorola would have used on a phone, so yes it's a winner takes all game," explained Gates. "Now nobody here has ever heard of Windows Mobile, but oh well. That's a few hundred billion here or there."
Delays in Boeing Max Return Began With Near-Crash in Simulator
Boeing engineers were nearly done redesigning software on the grounded 737 Max in June when some pilots hopped into a simulator to test a few things. It didn't go well. From a report:
A simulated computer glitch caused it to to dive aggressively in a way that resembled the problem that had caused deadly crashes off Indonesia and in Ethiopia months earlier. That led to an extensive redesign of the plane's flight computers that has dragged on for months and repeatedly pushed back the date of its return to service, according to people briefed on the work. The company -- which initially expressed confidence it could complete its application to recertify the plane with the Federal Aviation Administration within months -- now says it hopes to do that before the end of the year.
Changing the architecture of the jet's twin flight computers, which drive autopilots and critical instruments, has proven far more laborious than patching the system directly involved in 737 Max crashes, said these people, who asked not to be named speaking about the issue. The redesign has also sparked tensions between aviation regulators and the company. As recently as this week, the FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency asked for more documentation of the changes to the computers, said one of the people, potentially delaying the certification further. Developing and testing software on airliners is an exacting process. Manufacturers may have to demonstrate with extensive testing that a software failure leading to a crash would be as rare as one in a billion.
Boeing Has So Many Grounded 737 Max Planes Waiting To Be Fixed They're Parking Them in the Employee Parking Lot.
Kepler Achieves a World-First For Satellite Broadband With 100Mbps Connection To the Arctic
Small-satellite startup Kepler and its nanosatellites
have successfully demonstrated achieving over 100Mbps of network speed to a Germany icebreaker sea vessel that acts as a mobile lab for the
MOSAiC research expedition. TechCrunch reports:
This is the first time there's been a high-bandwidth satellite network for any central Arctic ground-based use, Kepler says, and this connection isn't just a technical demo: it's being used for the researchers in the MOSAiC team, which is made up of hundreds of individuals, to transfer data back and forth between the ship and shore-based research stations, which improves all aspects of working with the considerable quantities of data being gathered by the team. On the icebreaker floating research ship, Kepler has demonstrated 38Mbps down, and 120Mbps up.
The Cost For Each SLS Launch Is Over $2 Billion
Acting director of the White House budget office Russell Vought said in
a letter that the cost estimate to build and fly a single NASA large Space Launch System rocket in a given year
is "more than $2 billion." "The article then notes how this cost is affecting the
Europa Clipper mission, which has three launch options, with SLS mandated by Congress," writes Slashdot reader
schwit1. From the report:
The powerful SLS booster offers the quickest ride for the six-ton spacecraft to Jupiter, less than three years. But for mission planners, there are multiple concerns about this rocket beyond just its extraordinary cost. There is the looming threat that the program may eventually be canceled (due to its cost and the emergence of significantly lower cost, privately built rockets). NASA's human exploration program also has priority on using the SLS rocket, so if there are manufacturing issues, a science mission might be pushed aside. Finally, there is the possibility of further developmental delays -- significant ground testing of SLS has yet to begin.
Another option is United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy rocket, which has an excellent safety record and has launched several high-profile missions for NASA. However, this rocket requires multiple gravity assists to push the Clipper into a Jupiter orbit, including a Venus flyby. This heating would add additional thermal constraints to the mission, and scientists would prefer to avoid this if at all possible. A final possibility is SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, with a kick stage. This booster would take a little more than twice as long as the SLS rocket to get the Clipper payload to Jupiter, but it does not require a Venus flyby and therefore avoids those thermal issues. With a track record of three successful flights, the Falcon Heavy also avoids some of the development and manufacturing concerns raised by SLS vehicle. Finally, it offers the lowest cost of the three options.