Tech News

IBM's AI Can Predict How Parkinson's Disease May Progress In Individuals

science - Posted On:2021-07-30 09:14:56 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: [R]esearchers from IBM and Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) say they've developed a program that can predict how the symptoms of a Parkinson's disease patient will progress in terms of both timing and severity. In The Lancet Digital Health journal, they claim the software could transform how doctors help patients manage their symptoms by allowing them to better predict how the disease will progress. The breakthrough wouldn't have been possible without the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative, a study the Michael J. Fox Foundation sponsored. IBM describes the dataset, which includes information on more than 1,400 individuals, as the "largest and most robust volume of longitudinal Parkinson's patient data to date" and says it allowed its AI model to map out complex symptom and progression patterns. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Software downloaded 30,000 times from PyPI ransacked developers’ machines

Biz & IT - Posted On:2021-07-30 08:29:57 Source: arstechnica

Open source packages downloaded an estimated 30,000 times from the PyPI open source repository contained malicious code that surreptitiously stole credit card data and login credentials and injected malicious code on infected machines, researchers said on Thursday.

In a post, researchers Andrey Polkovnichenko, Omer Kaspi, and Shachar Menashe of security firm JFrog said they recently found eight packages in PyPI that carried out a range of malicious activity. Based on searches on https://pepy.tech, a site that provides download stats for Python packages, the researchers estimate the malicious packages were downloaded about 30,000 times.

The discovery is the latest in a long line of attacks in recent years that abuse the receptivity of open source repositories, which millions of software developers rely on daily. Despite their crucial role, repositories often lack robust security and vetting controls, a weakness that has the potential to cause serious supply chain attacks when developers unknowingly infect themselves or fold malicious code into the software they publish.

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New bank-fraud malware called Vultur infects thousands of devices

Biz & IT - Posted On:2021-07-30 07:59:58 Source: arstechnica

Recently detected Android malware, some spread through the Google Play Store, uses a novel way to supercharge the harvesting of login credentials from more than 100 banking and cryptocurrency applications.

The malware, which researchers from Amsterdam-based security firm ThreatFabric are calling Vultur, is among—if not the—first Android threats to record a device screen whenever one of the targeted apps is opened. Vultur uses a real implementation of the VNC screen-sharing application to mirror the screen of the infected device to an attacker-controlled server, researchers with ThreatFabric said.

The typical modus operandi for Android-based bank-fraud malware is to superimpose a window on top of the login screen presented by a targeted app. The “overlay,” as such windows are usually called, appears identical to the user interface of the banking app, giving victims the impression they’re entering their credentials into a trusted piece of software. Attackers then harvest the credentials, enter them into the app running on a different device, and withdraw money.

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Rocket Report: Ariane V returns after long layoff, Rocket Lab’s tough culture

Science - Posted On:2021-07-30 07:29:57 Source: arstechnica

Welcome to Edition 4.09 of the Rocket Report! I was certainly looking forward to the second launch of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft on Friday, and the Atlas V rocket was ready to go. Alas, serious problems with Russia's new space station module, Nauka, delayed the launch until next Tuesday.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

New Zealand publication investigates Rocket Lab work culture. Former employees of launch company Rocket Lab claim that, behind its flashy public relations, is a toxic culture of fear where people are pushed out of the business and punished for minor transgressions, BusinessDesk reports. The article asserts that founder Peter Beck is an inspirational leader but that his management style is more appropriate for a very small startup rather than a maturing aerospace company. Although Rocket Lab is based it the US, it operates a rocket assembly and launch site in New Zealand.

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TSMC Will Start Making 2nm Chips As Intel Tries To Catch Up

hardware - Posted On:2021-07-30 06:14:57 Source: slashdot

Kekke writes: "Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.'s new foundry will produce 2-nanometer chips," reports Gizmodo. "Construction on the plant in Hsinchu, southwest from Taiwan's capital of Taipei, is expected to start as soon as early 2022. TSMC's 3nm tech is reportedly expected to be put into production in late 2022 -- meanwhile, Intel will be rolling out 7nm chips toward the end of 2022 and into 2023." Will Intel have a genie in the bottle or a rabbit in a hat? Doesn't seem so to me. On Tuesday, Intel unveiled a comeback plan designed to help it reclaim processor manufacturing leadership within four years. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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YouTuber Won $10,000 Bet With a Physicist Over Wind-Powered Vehicle

news - Posted On:2021-07-30 03:14:57 Source: slashdot

Derek Muller, creator of the science-themed YouTube channel Veritasium, won a $10,000 bet with UCLA physics professor Alexander Kusenko, who claimed that Muller's wind-driven land yacht couldn't travel faster than the wind without any additional power sources. After recruiting science stars Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye to help settle the debate, the professor eventually conceded that it was in fact possible. Insider reports: Created by Rick Cavallaro, a former aerospace engineer, Blackbird is unique because it can move directly downwind faster than the wind itself for a sustained period. Any sailor worth their salt can tell you that a boat can travel faster than the wind by cutting zigzag patterns; that's called tacking. But the idea that a vehicle can beat the breeze traveling straight downwind, no tacking involved, is controversial. "I knew this was a counterintuitive problem. To be perfectly honest with you, when I went out to pilot the craft, I didn't understand how it worked," Muller told Insider. Blackbird is so counterintuitive, in fact, that less than a week after Muller released his video (below), Alexander Kusenko, a professor of physics at UCLA, emailed to inform him that it had to be wrong. A vehicle like that would break the laws of physics, Kusenko said. "I said, 'Look, if you don't believe this, let's put some money on this,'" Muller said. He suggested a wager of $10,000, never imagining Kusenko would take it. But Kusenko agreed, and in the weeks that followed, they exchanged data and argued about Blackbird. They even brought in several of science's biggest names, including Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, to help decide who was right. In the end, Muller emerged victorious. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Entire Buildings Can Be Wrapped In Jackets To Save Energy

hardware - Posted On:2021-07-29 23:44:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: On a normally peaceful residential road outside The Hague, the Dutch city that serves as seat of government, the whine of a hoisting crane and welding tools heralds a not-so-quiet housing revolution. Four workers standing above me on a scissor lift next to an apartment complex guide a thermally insulated facade 40 feet wide and one story tall into place against the existing wall. Its brickwork pattern of muted brown, grey and beige, and the triple glazed windows, perfectly fit the building's existing frame and openings. The original windows and the very old brick walls had allowed cold drafts inside, and warm interior air to escape, wasting much of the energy used to heat the building. The new facade is primarily fire-resistant expanded polystyrene -- essentially, hollow spheres that trap air to create a thick insulation layer -- faced with hardened clay and sculpted into hundreds of very thin rectangles known as "brick slips." This new building skin, prebuilt in a factory, was one of a dozen such facades to be attached to local buildings when I visited the suburb on a rainy day in early summer, each structure measured to millimeter precision. The installation is part of a concerted effort to transform energy-inefficient public housing into a set of ultralow-emission homes -- without having to open a wall or remake an attic. The building was being wrapped in the equivalent of a winter jacket -- or summer beer koozie -- avoiding the need to insert insulation inside dozens of walls, lofts and attics. A similarly premade, lightweight, highly insulating material, complete with solar panels, would be installed on the roof, too. The report notes that the average cost to retrofit a family home in the Netherlands is "about $94,000," but it's "comparable to the cost of other routine renovations that deliver no energy savings." "In one neighborhood in the city of Utrecht, more than a dozen houses and some 250 separate apartments retrofitted in 2019 saw their energy requirements fall from 225 kilowatt-hours per square meter to just 50 kilowatt-hours per square meter, on average. The remaining demand for energy was met with solar power." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Estonia Says a Hacker Downloaded 286,000 ID Photos From Government Database

yro - Posted On:2021-07-29 21:44:58 Source: slashdot

Estonian officials said they arrested last week a local suspect who used a vulnerability to gain access to a government database and downloaded government ID photos for 286,438 Estonians. From a report: The attack took place earlier this month, and the suspect was arrested last week on July 23, Estonian police said in a press conference yesterday, July 28. The identity of the attacker was not disclosed, and he was only identified as a Tallinn-based male. Officials said the suspect discovered a vulnerability in a database managed by the Information System Authority (RIA), the Estonian government agency which manages the country's IT systems. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Mexico Says Officials Spent $61 Million On Pegasus Spyware

yro - Posted On:2021-07-29 21:14:59 Source: slashdot

Mexico's top security official said Wednesday that two previous administrations spent $61 million to buy Pegasus spyware that has been implicated in government surveillance of opponents and journalists around the world. PBS reports: Public Safety Secretary Rosa Icela Rodriguez said records had been found of 31 contracts signed during the administrations of President Felipe Calderon in 2006-2012 and President Enrique Pena Nieto in 2012-18. Some contracts may have been disguised as purchases of other equipment. The government said many of the contracts with the Israeli spyware firm NSO Group were signed with front companies, which are often used in Mexico to facilitate kickbacks or avoid taxes. Last week, the government's top anti-money laundering investigator said officials from the two previous administrations had spent about $300 million in government money to purchase spyware. But that figure may reflect all spyware and surveillance purchases, or may include yet-unidentified contracts. Santiago Nieto, the head of Mexico's Financial Intelligence Unit, said the bills for programs like the Pegasus spyware appear to have included excess payments that may have been channeled back to government officials as kickbacks. Nieto said the amounts paid, and the way they were paid, suggested government corruption in an already questionable telephone tapping program that targeted journalists, activists and opposition figures, who at the time included now President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his inner circle. The report notes that Mexico "had the largest list -- about 700 phone numbers -- among the thousands reportedly selected by NSO clients for potential surveillance." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Playdate, the Console With a Crank, Will Not Ship Until 2022

games - Posted On:2021-07-29 20:29:59 Source: slashdot

Playdate, the portable, one-bit gaming system with an analog crank as a primary control option, won't be shipping to those who preordered the console anytime soon. According to CNET, "shipping has been delayed to some point in 2022." From the report: There's only one place you will be able to get yourself a Playdate. You'll need to head straight to the Playdate website, and be ready to pay $179 for the console. This price is for just the console, and not its Stereo Dock accessory or Pen, which can be ordered separately. The only accessory available right now is a $30 cover, which is only available in a bright purple. The prices and availability for these other accessories have not yet been announced. To avoid a PlayStation 5-style hunt for availability, the Playdate will not sell out. Instead, the ship date will be bumped incrementally back to match the company's ability to acquire the parts necessary to assemble the consoles. At the time this was last updated, shipping has been delayed to some point in 2022. Oddly enough, there is no set launch date for this console just yet. The Playdate is supposed to be shipping the first 20,000 units at some point in 2021. It's likely Panic will be giving more information on a shipping date in one of its video updates like the one we saw in June. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Russian module suddenly fires thrusters after docking with space station

Science - Posted On:2021-07-29 20:14:59 Source: arstechnica

Flight controllers at NASA and Roscosmos averted a disaster on Thursday after a large Russian module docked with the International Space Station and began to "inadvertently" fire its thrusters.

The Russian "Nauka" module linked to the space station at 8:30 am CT (13:30 UTC), local time in Houston, where NASA's Mission Control is based. After that, Russian cosmonauts aboard the station began preparing to open the hatches leading to Nauka, but at 11:34 am Houston time, Nauka unexpectedly started to fire its movement thrusters.

Within minutes, the space station began to lose attitude control. This was a problem for several reasons. First of all, the station requires a certain attitude to maintain signal with geostationary satellites and talk to Mission Control on the ground. Also, solar arrays are positioned to collect power based upon this predetermined attitude.

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ISS Briefly Loses Control After New Russian Module Misfires

science - Posted On:2021-07-29 19:44:59 Source: slashdot

destinyland shares a report from CNN: An unusual and potentially dangerous situation unfolded Thursday at the International Space Station, as the newly-docked Russian Nauka module inadvertently fired its thrusters causing a "tug of war" with the space station and briefly pushing it out of position, according to NASA flight controllers. Nauka -- a long-delayed laboratory module that Russian space agency Roscosmos' launched to the International Space Station last week -- inadvertently fired its thrusters after docking with the International Space Station Thursday morning. NASA officials declared it a "spacecraft emergency" as the space station experienced a loss of attitude (the angle at which the ISS is supposed to remain oriented) control for nearly one hour, and ground controllers lost communications with the seven astronauts currently aboard the ISS for 11 minutes during the ordeal. A joint investigation between NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos is now ongoing. "The incident also delayed the launch of the Boeing Starliner uncrewed test flight to the station, which had been set to launch on Friday," adds CNN. "NASA says the move allows the 'International Space Station team time to continue working checkouts of the newly arrived Roscosmos' Nauka module and to ensure the station will be ready for Starliner's arrival.'" Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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This 3D-printed soft robotic hand beat the first level of Super Mario Bros.

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2021-07-29 19:29:59 Source: arstechnica

A team of engineers at the University of Maryland has built a three-fingered soft robotic hand that is sufficiently agile to be able to manipulate the buttons and directional pad on a Nintendo controller—even managing to beat the first level of Super Mario Bros. as proof of concept, according to a recent paper published in the journal Science Advances. The same team also built two soft robotic turtles (the terrapin turtle is UMD's official mascot) using the same multimaterial 3D-printing process that produced the robotic hand.

We traditionally think of robots as being manufactured out of hard, rigid materials, but the subfield of soft robotics takes a different approach. It seeks to build robotic devices out of more flexible materials that mimic the properties of those found in living animals. There are huge advantages to be gained by making the entire body of a robot out of soft materials, such as being flexible enough to squeeze through tight spaces to hunt for survivors after a disaster. Soft robots also hold strong potential as prosthetics or biomedical devices. Even rigid robots rely on some soft components, such as foot pads that serve as shock absorbers or flexible springs to store and release energy.

Harvard researchers built an octopus-inspired soft robot in 2016 that was constructed entirely out of flexible materials. But soft robots are more difficult to control precisely because they are so flexible. In the case of the "octobot," the researchers replaced the rigid electronic circuits with microfluidic circuits. Such circuits involve regulating the flow of water (hydraulics) or air (pneumatics), rather than electricity, through the circuit's microchannels, enabling the robot to bend and move.

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Tesla Battery Supplier CATL Debuts Cheaper Sodium-Ion Batteries

hardware - Posted On:2021-07-29 19:14:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. unveiled a sodium-ion battery Thursday, a type of lower-density cell that uses cheaper raw materials than batteries made from lithium-ion metals. As well as a first generation of sodium batteries, the Ningde, Fujian-based company also launched a battery-pack solution that can integrate sodium-ion cells and lithium-ion cells into one case, compensating for the energy-density shortage of the former while preserving its advantages. "Sodium-ion batteries have unique advantages in low-temperature performance, fast charging and environmental adaptability," CATL Chairman Zeng Yuqun said. "Moreover, they're compatible and complementary with lithium-ion batteries. Diversified technical routes are an important guarantee for the long-term development of the industry." While China's CATL is the world's biggest battery maker, supplying Telsa and selling 34.1 gigawatt hours in the first half, up 234% year-on-year for a market share of 30%, like other manufacturers it has been hit by rising raw materials costs. The price of lithium carbonate, a core ingredient in most electric vehicle batteries, has doubled this year while the price of nickel, another key metal, is at a five-month high. Outside of their lower raw materials costs -- there are abundant sodium resources in the Earth's crust -- sodium-ion batteries have a few advantages. A long charging time won't cause battery damage and their chemical reaction is free of corrosivity. But their lower energy density tends to exclude them from powering passenger vehicles that require decent range, so they're mainly used for low-speed electric vehicles and low-end energy storage solutions. Notwithstanding, CATL said that through breakthroughs in R&D, its first-generation sodium-ion batteries have reached 160 watt-hours/kilogram, a measure of energy density of energy, and should exceed 200 Wh/kg in coming generations. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Facebook’s next hardware product will be “smart” Ray-Ban glasses

Tech - Posted On:2021-07-29 18:59:59 Source: arstechnica

In an earnings conference call on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors that the company's next hardware launch will be "smart glasses" made in partnership with classic sunglasses vendor Ray-Ban.

Zuckerberg segued into the Ray-Ban announcement following a lengthy discussion of Facebook's plans for Oculus Quest, its all-in-one virtual reality (VR) platform. Zuckerberg says that social media is the real "killer app" for VR, backing that up with data from Oculus Quest: "The most popular apps on Quest are social, which fits our original thesis [that] virtual reality will be a social platform."

Zuckerberg intends the as yet unnamed smart glasses to be a stepping stone, not an end goal. He remained cagey about their actual purpose, saying only that the glasses "have their iconic form factor, and [let] you do some pretty neat things," with no concrete details about what those "neat things" might be.

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Second lab worker with deadly prion disease prompts research pause in France

Science - Posted On:2021-07-29 18:29:59 Source: arstechnica

Five public research institutions in France announced a three-month moratorium on prion research this week, following a newly identified case of prion disease in a retired lab worker.

If the case is found to be linked to a laboratory exposure, it would be the second such case identified in France. In 2019, another lab worker in the country died of a prion disease at the age of 33. Her death came around nine years after she accidentally jabbed herself in the thumb with forceps used to handle frozen slices of humanized mouse brains infected with prions.

Prions are misfolded, misshapen forms of normal proteins, called prion proteins, which are commonly found in human and other animal cells. What prion proteins do normally is still unclear, but they're readily found in the human brain. When a misfolded prion enters the mix, it can corrupt the normal prion proteins around them, prompting them to misfold as well, clump together, and corrupt others. As the corruption ripples through the brain, it leads to brain tissue damage, eventually causing little holes to form. This gives the brain a sponge-like appearance and is the reason prion diseases are also called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

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The European Union Pulls Ahead of the United States In Vaccinations

science - Posted On:2021-07-29 18:29:59 Source: slashdot

gollum123 shares a report from The New York Times: The 27 member states of the European Union altogether have now administered more coronavirus vaccine doses per 100 people than the United States, in another sign that inoculations across the bloc have maintained some speed throughout the summer, while they have stagnated for weeks in the United States. E.U. countries had administered 102.66 doses per 100 people as of Tuesday, while the United States had administered 102.44, according to the latest vaccination figures compiled by Our World in Data. This month, the European Union also overtook the United States in first injections; currently, 58 percent of people across the bloc have received a dose, compared with 56.5 percent in the United States. The latest figures provide a stark contrast with the early stages of the vaccination campaigns this year, when E.U. countries, facing a shortage of doses and delayed deliveries, looked in envy at the initially more successful efforts in the United States, Britain and Israel. But the European Union is now vaccinating its populations at a faster pace than most developed countries. More than 70 percent of adults in the bloc have now received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Forget “App Tracking Transparency”: Facebook is enjoying more ad revenue than ever

Tech - Posted On:2021-07-29 17:59:59 Source: arstechnica

For months, Apple and Facebook waged a PR war (with threats of a legal one) over App Tracking Transparency, a change in recent versions of the iPhone's iOS software that will often limit how advertising-focused apps and companies can monetize iPhone users.

Facebook's original public predictions about App Tracking Transparency's effect were apocalyptic. But even though App Tracking Transparency took effect during Facebook's most recent quarter (Q2 of 2021), the company still posted huge ad revenue growth.

Facebook's revenue, which is largely driven by the kinds of advertising that Apple's iOS change undermines, grew 56 percent year-over-year in Q2, beating investor expectations. The company had 1.9 billion daily active users and 2.9 billion monthly active users. It earned $10.12 of revenue per user, on average.

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Google Bans 'Sugar Daddy' Apps From Play Store

technology - Posted On:2021-07-29 17:44:59 Source: slashdot

Google's updated its inappropriate content policy to ban "compensated sexual relationships" -- i.e., sugar daddy or sugar dating apps. Ryne Hager writes via Android Police: If somehow you aren't familiar with the term, a "sugar daddy" is more than a caramel candy on a stick. In the more common vernacular, a sugar daddy is a person -- usually an older man, but you could have a "sugar mommy" or maybe a gender-neutral "sugar parent?" -- that spends or gives money in what is typically a transactional relationship, often for sexual favors. I don't judge, different people enjoy different things, and if all parties are consenting with full knowledge, I don't see how an arrangement like that really harms anyone. But, it seems Google does care, though the company is clear it's not objecting to the nature of the relationship, merely the fact that they're often sexual relationships with a perceived compensation basis, and the company has a blanket ban on sexual content -- at least partly ignoring the primary impulse for many customers behind more generalized dating apps like Tinder and Hinge, as well as many of the messages that even mainstream dating app users swap. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Forget “App Tracking Transparency”: Facebook is making more ad revenue than ever

Tech - Posted On:2021-07-29 17:29:59 Source: arstechnica

For months, Apple and Facebook waged a PR war (with threats of a legal one) over App Tracking Transparency, a change in recent versions of the iPhone's iOS software that will often limit how advertising-focused apps and companies can monetize iPhone users.

Facebook's original public predictions about App Tracking Transparency's effect were apocalyptic. But even though App Tracking Transparency took effect during Facebook's most recent quarter (Q2 of 2021), the company still posted huge ad revenue growth.

Facebook's revenue, which is largely driven by the kinds of advertising that Apple's iOS change undermines, grew 56 percent year-over-year in Q2, beating investor expectations. The company had 1.9 billion daily active users and 2.9 billion monthly active users. It earned $10.12 of revenue per user, on average.

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