Tech News

Genetic Data On 500,000 Volunteers In UK To Be Released For Scientific Study

news - Posted On:2023-11-30 08:15:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: A new era of medical discoveries, treatments and cures is on the horizon, researchers say, following the announcement that an unprecedented trove of genetic information is to be made available to scientists. Health researchers from around the world can now apply to study the whole genomes of half a million people enrolled in UK Biobank, a biomedical research project that has compiled detailed health and lifestyle records on individuals since it began 20 years ago. The move on Thursday amounts to the largest number of whole-genome sequences ever released for medical research. The sequences will be used with UK Biobank's records and other data to delve deeply into the genetics of everything -- from people's risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other conditions, to individuals' sleep and exercise patterns. Researchers believe the new data will allow them to calculate people's individual risk scores for a raft of cancers and other diseases, and so work out who could benefit most from early screening. They should also gain a deeper understanding of serious genetic conditions such as Huntington's and motor neurone disease, which have often been studied in small numbers of severely affected patients. Health experts from academia, the government, industry and charities can apply for access though they have to be approved and study the genomes through a protected database stripped of identifying details such as names, addresses, birth dates, and GP information. "Until 2021 scientists could study only about 1% of the DNA of UK Biobank volunteers -- the fraction that encodes proteins," notes the report. "Since then, whole genomes have been released for 200,000 participants, but work continued to sequence all of the 500,000 volunteers." "With that number of whole genomes in hand, researchers will be able to find much rarer genes which drive diseases, including those that behave like switches and turn other genes on and off." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

My long quest to revive a ’90s Windows gaming cult classic

Gaming - Posted On:2023-11-30 07:15:00 Source: arstechnica

As 2023 draws to a close—and as we start to finalize our Game of the Year contenders—I really should be catching up on the embarrassingly long list of great recent releases that I haven't put enough time into this year. Instead, over the last few days, I've found myself once again hooked on a simple, addictive, and utterly unique Japanese Windows freeware game from the late '90s that, until recently, I thought I had lost forever.

Pendulumania is a cult classic in the truest sense of the word: Few people have heard of it, even in hardcore gaming circles, but those who have experienced it tend to have very fond memories of it. And while I shared those memories, it wasn't until this week that I've been able to share my effusive praise for a game whose name and playable executable had eluded me for well over a decade.

The mechanics of Pendulumania are incredibly simple. You use the computer mouse to control a metal ring, which is attached via an elastic string to a white ball. The object is to carefully move the ring so the stretchy string and gravity can nudge the ball around a 2D plane, crashing into floating scoring orbs to collect points (colored orbs that randomly appear can make the ball larger or the string stronger as well). Be careful, though; if the elastic string stretches too far, it will break and your game will be over.

Read More

Microsoft Phone Link May Soon Let You Use Your Android Phone As a Webcam

mobile - Posted On:2023-11-30 06:45:01 Source: slashdot

Microsoft Phone Link, previously known as Microsoft Your Phone, lets you control your Android phone from your computer. Now, the company appears to be working on letting you use your Android phone as a webcam with Windows computers, similar to how you can use your iPhone as a webcam on Mac. Android Authority reports: Microsoft's Link to Windows v1.23102.190.0 for Android app includes code that suggests that the company is working on letting your Android phone provide a video stream to your Windows PC. This would effectively allow it to be used as a webcam. [...] These strings indicate that once Microsoft's Phone Link app is working on both connected devices, users would be able to start a camera stream that lets their phone's camera be available to their Windows PC. The strings do not explicitly mention "webcam," but other clues indicate that the feature would be related to video calls in some ways. Phone Link can already access your camera and video conferencing apps, but this is just mirroring apps running on your phone. What you see on your phone screen is what you see on the computer. If you record a video, it gets saved to your phone as typical video recordings do. With the new functionality spotted above, Phone Link could potentially compete against Apple's Continuity Camera features. With Continuity Camera, users can mount their iPhone to their Mac and then use the iPhone's camera and microphone for FaceTime or other camera apps. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Firefox for Android is Getting Over 400 More Extensions in December

news - Posted On:2023-11-30 05:15:01 Source: slashdot

Mozilla is opening the floodgates on extensions for Firefox on Android, with hundreds of new add-ons arriving in December. From a report: In a blog post, Mozilla explains that Firefox extensions compatible with Android will be "openly available" to users, with over 400 coming at launch. That launch will arrive on December 14. Technically, Firefox already supports extensions on Android. However, the library is a bit more limited as Mozilla details on a support page. With this new update, though, Firefox users will get a lot more options as developers will have a route to port desktop extensions to Android. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Apple Pulls Plug On Goldman Credit-Card Partnership

news - Posted On:2023-11-30 02:15:00 Source: slashdot

schwit1 shares a report from the Wall Street Journal: Apple is pulling the plug on its credit-card partnership with Goldman Sachs (source paywalled; alternative source), the final nail in the coffin of the Wall Street bank's bid to expand into consumer lending. The tech giant recently sent a proposal to Goldman to exit from the contract in the next roughly 12 to 15 months, according to people briefed on the matter. The exit would cover their entire consumer partnership, including the credit card the companies launched in 2019 and the savings account rolled out this year. It couldn't be learned whether Apple has already lined up a new issuer for the card. The move would mark a swift about-face for a program that just over a year ago was extended through 2029 and was intended to serve as a pillar of Goldman's main-street ambitions. The retreat began around the end of last year after Goldman lost billions of dollars trying to build out a full-service consumer operation. By early this year, Goldman had told Apple that it would be looking to offload the partnership. Typically the merchant -- in this case Apple -- plays a controlling role in such partnerships. schwit1 adds: "The customer satisfaction rate is high but Goldman's acquisition costs were reportedly astronomical -- something like $350 per cardholder." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Traffic Pollution Can Cause Rise In Blood Pressure, Study Finds

technology - Posted On:2023-11-29 22:45:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Air pollution from traffic can cause a significant rise in blood pressure that can last up to 24 hours, according to a study via the University of Washington. The spike is comparable to the effect of a high-sodium diet and can contribute to cardiovascular problems. Long-term exposure to vehicle exhaust has been widely linked with respiratory problems such as asthma, especially in children. "Traffic air pollution increases blood pressure within an hour of being in traffic and it stays elevated a day later," said author of the study Joel Kaufman, a physician and professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Washington. Sixteen healthy people between the ages of 22 and 45 underwent three separate drives as passengers through Seattle rush hour. Two of those drives were "unfiltered," meaning the road air was allowed to enter the car, as is the case for many drivers on the road today. On the third drive, a Hepa (high efficiency particulate absorbing) filter was installed in the car, with participants unaware which drive had filtration. The researchers measured the blood pressure of the passengers before, during and after the two-hour drive. Breathing unfiltered air resulted in blood pressure increase of more than 4.5mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) compared to filtered air. Most of the pollution came from tailpipe exhaust or the fossil fuel combustion, as well as brake and tire wear. The filters were most effective in reducing ultrafine particles (86% decrease), black carbon, which is mostly from diesel (86%), and PM2.5 (60%) while gasses like carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide were unaffected. "The clue here is that these tiniest particles are probably what's responsible for blood pressure difference," Kaufman said. "If you live in an area that has heavy traffic-related air pollution, you want to keep your windows closed and have air filtration capability in your home." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Henry Kissinger, American Diplomat and Nobel Winner, Dead at 100

news - Posted On:2023-11-29 22:45:00 Source: slashdot

Henry Kissinger, a diplomatic powerhouse whose roles as a national security adviser and secretary of state under two presidents left an indelible mark on U.S. foreign policy and earned him a controversial Nobel Peace Prize, died on Wednesday at age 100. From a report: Kissinger died at his home in Connecticut, according to a statement from his geopolitical consulting firm, Kissinger Associates. No mention was made of the circumstances. It said he would be interred at a private family service, to be followed at a later date by a public memorial service in New York City. Kissinger had been active past his centenary, attending meetings in the White House, publishing a book on leadership styles, and testifying before a Senate committee about the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. In July 2023 he made a surprise visit to Beijing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping. During the 1970s in the midst of the Cold War, he had a hand in many of the epoch-changing global events of the decade while serving as national security adviser and secretary of state under Republican President Richard Nixon. The German-born Jewish refugee's efforts led to the U.S. diplomatic opening with China, landmark U.S.-Soviet arms control talks, expanded ties between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and the Paris Peace Accords with North Vietnam. Kissinger's reign as the prime architect of U.S. foreign policy waned with Nixon's resignation in 1974 amid the Watergate scandal. Still, he continued to be a diplomatic force as secretary of state under Nixon's successor, President Gerald Ford, and to offer strong opinions throughout the rest of his life. While many hailed Kissinger for his brilliance and broad experience, others branded him a war criminal for his support for anti-communist dictatorships, especially in Latin America. In his latter years, his travels were circumscribed by efforts by other nations to arrest or question him about past U.S. foreign policy. His 1973 Peace Prize - awarded jointly to North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho, who would decline it - was one of the most controversial ever. Two members of the Nobel committee resigned over the selection as questions arose about the secret U.S. bombing of Cambodia. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Stable Diffusion XL Turbo can generate AI images as fast as you can type

AI - Posted On:2023-11-29 22:15:00 Source: arstechnica

On Tuesday, Stability AI launched Stable Diffusion XL Turbo, an AI image-synthesis model that can rapidly generate imagery based on a written prompt. So rapidly, in fact, that the company is billing it as "real-time" image generation, since it can also quickly transform images from a source, such as a webcam, quickly.

SDXL Turbo's primary innovation lies in its ability to produce image outputs in a single step, a significant reduction from the 20–50 steps required by its predecessor. Stability attributes this leap in efficiency to a technique it calls Adversarial Diffusion Distillation (ADD). ADD uses score distillation, where the model learns from existing image-synthesis models, and adversarial loss, which enhances the model's ability to differentiate between real and generated images, improving the realism of the output.

Stability detailed the model's inner workings in a research paper released Tuesday that focuses on the ADD technique. One of the claimed advantages of SDXL Turbo is its similarity to Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), especially in producing single-step image outputs.

Read More

Microsoft Joins OpenAI's Board With Sam Altman Officially Back As CEO

slashdot - Posted On:2023-11-29 22:15:00 Source: slashdot

Sam Altman is officially OpenAI's CEO again after spending four days in exile. Meanwhile, Microsoft is getting a non-voting observer seat on the nonprofit board that controls OpenAI. "OpenAI adding Microsoft to the board as a 'non-voting observer' means that the tech giant will have more visibility into the company's inner workings but not have an official vote in big decisions," reports The Verge. Altman said in a memo to employees: "I have never been more excited about the future. I am extremely grateful for everyone's hard work in an unclear and unprecedented situation, and I believe our resilience and spirit set us apart in the industry. I feel so, so good about our probability of success for achieving our mission." From the report: With three of the four board members who decided to suddenly fire Altman now gone, OpenAI's new board consists of chair Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D'Angelo, the only remaining holdout from the previous board. In his memo to employees, Altman said that he harbors "zero ill will" towards Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI's co-founder and chief scientist who initially participated in the board coup and changed his mind after nearly all of the company's employees threatened to quit if Altman didn't come back. "While Ilya will no longer serve on the board, we hope to continue our working relationship and are discussing how he can continue his work at OpenAI," Altman said. "The fact that we did not lose a single customer will drive us to work even harder for you," he told employees. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Nikola Tesla's Historic Wardenclyffe Lab Site At Risk After Devastating Fire

science - Posted On:2023-11-29 21:15:00 Source: slashdot

Jennifer Ouellette reports via Ars Technica: Back in 2012, a crowdfunding effort on Indigogo successfully raised the funds necessary to purchase the Wardenclyffe Tower site on Long Island, New York, where Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla once tried to build an ambitious wireless transmission station. The goal was to raise additional funds to build a $20 million Tesla Science Center there, with a museum, an educational center, and a technological innovation program. The nonprofit group behind the project finally broke ground this April after years of basic restoration work -- only to experience a devastating setback last week, two days before Thanksgiving, when a fire broke out. Over 100 firefighters from 17 local departments responded and battled the flames throughout the night, as residual embers led to two additional outbreaks. One firefighter sustained bruised ribs after falling off a ladder, but there were no other injuries or fatalities. Once the blaze was extinguished, the TSC group called in their engineers to assess the damage and make recommendations for repairs. While an investigation is ongoing as to the cause of the fire, Fire Chief Sean McCarrick said during a press conference on Tuesday, November 28, that they had ruled out arson. According to project architect Mark Thaler, there was nothing flammable in the lab that could have caused the fire, although the back buildings had wood-frame roofs. The original brick building, designed by Stanford White, is still standing, although there is considerable damage to the structure of the roof, steel girders, chimney, cupola, and a portion of a wall. Some elements have been irreparably destroyed, but fortunately all museum artifacts in TSC's collection were stored offsite. The most pressing concern is that water from the firehoses saturated the brick walls, according to Thaler, since the upcoming colder winter temperatures could freeze that moisture and cause the brick work to break apart and collapse. The engineers have also recommended adding strategic wall supports to both the interior and exterior to shore up the structure. All of this comes with a hefty price tag: $3 million for immediate remediation to seal the roof and dry the building in order to stave off further damage. The building was insured, but that insurance won't come close to covering the cost. The TSC group has set up a 60-day Indiegogo campaign to raise those funds, which is separate from the $14 million it had already raised toward their targeted $20 million goal. "The best way to help right now is to donate if you can," said TSC Executive Director Marc Alessi. "We've never needed it more. We need to secure this lab, stop the water intrusion and future damage. And then we need to complete this project." [...] "Buildings burn down and can then be rebuilt," said John Gaiman, deputy county executive for Suffolk County. "The ideas behind them, the person, the history, the narrative that was created over 100 years ago still exists, and that will continue." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Elon Musk on X antisemitism controversy: “Don’t advertise. Go f*** yourself”

Policy - Posted On:2023-11-29 20:45:00 Source: arstechnica

Elon Musk addressed an antisemitism controversy in characteristically unwise fashion during a public interview today, telling businesses to "go fuck yourself" and to stop advertising on the social network formerly named Twitter.

Musk spoke on stage at The New York Times' DealBook Summit in an interview conducted by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin. Sorkin asked Musk about trying to gain back advertising from businesses that pulled ads from X after Musk posted a favorable response to an antisemitic tweet.

"I hope they stop. Don't advertise," Musk said in response to Sorkin's question (see video).

Read More

Three 'Grand Theft Auto' Titles Are Coming To Netflix

games - Posted On:2023-11-29 20:30:00 Source: slashdot

On December 14, 2023, three Grand Theft Auto games will officially become available for Netflix members on the App Store, Google Play, and in the Netflix mobile app. IGN reports: Those who can't wait to jump into Grand Theft Auto III - The Definitive Edition, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - The Definitive Edition, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - The Definitive Edition can pre-register today to get ready for December 14 and play as soon as they are available. The addition of these three classic Grand Theft Auto games will bring Netflix's gaming library to over 80 titles, and all of these games are available to all Netflix subscribers without any ads, in-app purchases, or extra fees. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

With another record broken, the world’s spaceports are busier than ever

Space - Posted On:2023-11-29 20:00:00 Source: arstechnica

Led by SpaceX and China, the world's launch providers have put more rockets and payloads into orbit so far in 2023 than in any prior year, continuing an upward trend in launch activity over the last five years.

On Sunday, the Transportation Security Administration reported that it screened more than 2.9 million airline passengers making their way through US airports after Thanksgiving. It was the busiest day in history for US airports.

A few days earlier, the world's spaceports set a new record with the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with another batch of Starlink Internet satellites from Florida. This launch on November 22 was the 180th launch of 2023 to put its payload into orbit, eclipsing the mark of 179 successful orbital launches from last year.

Read More

2 municipal water facilities report falling to hackers in separate breaches

Biz & IT - Posted On:2023-11-29 20:00:00 Source: arstechnica

In the stretch of a few days, two municipal water facilities that serve more than 2 million residents in parts of Pennsylvania and Texas have reported network security breaches that have hamstrung parts of their business or operational processes.

In response to one of the attacks, the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa in western Pennsylvania temporarily shut down a pump providing drinking water from the facility’s treatment plant to the townships of Raccoon and Potter, according to reporting by the Beaver Countian. A photo the Water Authority provided to news outlets showed the front panel of a programmable logic controller—a toaster-sized box often abbreviated as PLC that’s used to automate physical processes inside of industrial settings—that displayed an anti-Israeli message. The PLC bore the logo of the manufacturer Unitronics. A sign above it read “Primary PLC.”

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Administration on Tuesday published an advisory that warned of recent attacks compromising Unitronics PLCs used in Water and Wastewater Systems, which are often abbreviated as WWSes. Although the notice didn’t identify any facilities by name, the account of one hack was almost identical to the one that occurred inside the Aliquippa facility.

Read More

Roundcube Open-Source Webmail Software Merges With Nextcloud

news - Posted On:2023-11-29 20:00:00 Source: slashdot

Michael Larabel reports via Phoronix: The open-source Roundcube webmail software project has "merged" with Nextcloud, the prominent open-source personal cloud software. In boosting Nextcloud's webmail software capabilities, Roundcube is joining Nextcloud as what's been described as a merger. In 2024 Nextcloud is to invest into Roundcube to accelerate the development of this widely-used webmail open-source software. Today's press release says Roundcube will not replace Nextcloud Mail with at least no plans for merging the two in the short-term. Today's press release says that there are no immediate changes for Roundcube and Nextcloud users besides looking forward to improved integration and accelerated development beginning in the short term. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

BBC BASIC Is Back In a Big Way

developers - Posted On:2023-11-29 19:15:01 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Hackaday: The BBC has a long history of teaching the world about computers. The broadcaster's name was proudly displayed on the BBC Micro, and BBC Basic was the programming language developed especially for that computer. Now, BBC Basic is back and running on a whole mess of modern platforms. BBC Basic for SDL 2.0 will run on Windows, MacOS, x86 Linux, and even Raspberry Pi OS, Android, and iOS. Desktop versions of the programming environment feature a BASIC editor that has syntax coloring for ease of use, along with luxury features like search and replace that weren't always available at the dawn of the microcomputer era. Meanwhile, the smartphone versions feature a simplified interface designed to work better in a touchscreen environment. It's weird to see, but BBC Basic can actually do some interesting stuff given the power of modern hardware. It can address up to 256 MB of memory, and work with far more advanced graphical assets than would ever have been possible on the original BBC Micro. If you honed your programming skills on that old metal, you might be impressed with what they can achieve with BBC Basic in a new, more powerful context. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Nvidia CEO: US chip independence may take 20 years to achieve

Policy - Posted On:2023-11-29 18:30:00 Source: arstechnica

The US could be up to two decades away from maintaining its own domestic chips supply chain, Nvidia Corp.'s CEO, Jensen Huang, told an audience gathered in New York for the New York Times’s DealBook conference.

Nvidia is a giant in the semiconductor industry, and Huang said his company's success depends on "myriad components that come from different parts of the world," Bloomberg reported. "Not just Taiwan," Huang said, where Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing company makes the world's most advanced semiconductor technology.

“We are somewhere between a decade and two decades away from supply chain independence,” Huang said. “It’s not a really practical thing for a decade or two.”

Read More

2023 has been another year with a record number of orbital launches

Space - Posted On:2023-11-29 18:30:00 Source: arstechnica

Led by SpaceX and China, the world's launch providers have put more rockets and payloads into orbit so far in 2023 than in any prior year, continuing an upward trend in launch activity over the last five years.

On Sunday, the Transportation Security Administration reported that it screened more than 2.9 million airline passengers making their way through US airports after Thanksgiving. It was the busiest day in history for US airports.

A few days earlier, the world's spaceports set a new record with the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with another batch of Starlink Internet satellites from Florida. This launch on November 22 was the 180th launch of 2023 to put its payload into orbit, eclipsing the mark of 179 successful orbital launches from last year.

Read More

Dollar Tree Hit By Third-Party Data Breach Impacting 2 Million People

yro - Posted On:2023-11-29 18:30:00 Source: slashdot

Dollar Tree was impacted by a third-party data breach stemming from the hack of service provider Zeroed-In Technologies. According to Bleeping Computer, nearly two million customers have been affected. "The information stolen during the attack includes names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers (SSNs)." From the report: According to a data breach notification shared with the Maine Attorney General, Dollar Tree's service provider, Zeroed-In, suffered a security incident between August 7 and 8, 2023. As part of this cyberattack, the threat actors managed to steal data containing the personal information of Dollar Tree and Family Dollar employees. "While the investigation was able to determine that these systems were accessed, it was not able to confirm all of the specific files that were accessed or taken by the unauthorized actor," reads the letter sent to affected individuals. "Therefore, Zeroed-In conducted a review of the contents of the systems to determine what information was present at the time of the incident and to whom the information relates." The information stolen during the attack includes names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers (SSNs). Zeroed-In has notified the affected individuals and enclosed instructions on enrolling in a twelve-month identity protection and credit monitoring service. Other Zeroed-In customers apart from Dollar Tree and Family Dollar may have also been impacted by the security breach, but this hasn't been confirmed yet. Meanwhile, the scale of the data breach has already triggered investigations from law firms looking into a potential class-action lawsuit against Zeroed-In. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Amazon Finally Releases Its Own AI-Powered Image Generator

slashdot - Posted On:2023-11-29 17:45:00 Source: slashdot

During a keynote at its re:Invent conference today, Amazon debuted the Titan Image Generator, which can create new images or customize existing images via a text description. It's now available in preview for AWS customers on Bedrock, Amazon's AI development platform. TechCrunch reports: Amazon says that Titan Image Generator was trained on a "diverse set of datasets" across a "broad range of domains" and can be optionally fine-tuned on custom datasets, and includes built-in mitigations for toxicity and bias. (Barring testing, the jury's out on just how effective those mitigations are, of course.) The company declined to say exactly where those datasets came from however -- and whether it obtained permission from or is compensating all the creators of the images used to train Titan Image Generator. [...] Sivasubramanian did claim onstage, however, that Amazon will protect customers accused of violating copyright with images generated by Titan Image Generator -- in keeping with its AI indemnification policy. That's surely music to the ears of AWS customers worried about regurgitation, or when a generative model spits out a mirror copy of a training example. Images created with Titan Image Generator will also come with a "tamper-resistant" invisible watermark by default -- an attempt to mitigate the spread of AI-generated misinformation and abuse imagery, Sivasubramanian says. (Deepfakes from the Gaza war and AI-generated child abuse images are the latest illustrations of how major the threat's become.) It's not clear exactly what sort of watermarking technique Amazon's using and which tools beyond Amazon's own API will be able to detect it; we've reached out to Amazon for clarification. Sivasubramanian noted watermarks are a part of the voluntary commitment around AI that Amazon signed with the White House in July. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More