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NASA Will Carry Your Name On a Chip To Mars

2 hours 28 min ago
NASA will etch your name onto a silicon chip that will be carried to Mars by a rover in 2020: An anonymous reader quotes the Verge: The rover's primary mission is to get us closer to answering that fundamental question: did Mars ever host alien life? The robot is equipped with tools and instruments that will help scientists figure out if the planet may have hosted life in the past. On top of that, the rover will also be drilling and collecting samples of Martian dirt. It'll then leave those samples on the ground, where they could potentially be picked up someday by another spacecraft and brought back to Earth. And while the Mars 2020 rover is doing all of this, your name could be along for the ride. If you send in your name sometime before September 30th, NASA engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will etch it onto a silicon chip with an electron beam, and then the rover will carry it on its journey. The names are going to be pretty teeny, though -- about one-thousandth the width of a human hair. That's small enough so that more than a million names can be included on a single chip as big as a dime -- but big enough for any Martian microbes to read (only kidding... Martians can't read).

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Grindr Let Chinese Engineers See Data From Millions of Americans

6 hours 28 min ago
JustAnotherOldGuy shared this story from Reuters: Early last year, Grindr LLC's Chinese owner gave some Beijing-based engineers access to personal information of millions of Americans such as private messages and HIV status, according to eight former employees, prompting U.S. officials to ask it to sell the dating app for the gay community. Engadget explains what the concerns were about Grindr's owner, Beijing Kunlun: Reuters sources have claimed that Beijing Kunlun triggered alarms after it gave engineers in Beijing access to Grindr's database for several months. While there wasn't evidence that the company misused the data, the tipsters believe the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) was worried that the Chinese government could comb the database to find info on US intelligence and military personnel. Engadget says the confrontation "reflects the U.S. government's increasingly strict approach to Chinese companies -- it doesn't want even the slightest risk of China's having access to private information."

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Some Americans Have Fled The Country To Escape Student Loan Debt

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 11:34pm
"Some student loan borrowers are packing their bags and fleeing from the U.S. to other countries, where the cost of living is often lower and debt collectors wield less power over them," reports CNBC: Chad Haag considered living in a cave to escape his student debt. He had a friend doing it. But after some plotting, he settled on what he considered a less risky plan. This year, he relocated to a jungle in India. "I've put America behind me," Haag, 29, said. Today he lives in a concrete house in the village of Uchakkada for $50 a month. His backyard is filled with coconut trees and chickens. "I saw four elephants just yesterday," he said, adding that he hopes never to set foot in a Walmart again. More than 9,000 miles away from Colorado, Haag said, his student loans don't feel real anymore. "It's kind of like, if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it really exist?" he said... Although there is no national data on how many people have left the United States because of student debt, borrowers tell their stories of doing so in Facebook groups and Reddit channels and how-to advice is offered on personal finance websites. "It may be an issue we see an uptick in if the trends keep up," said Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.... Struggling borrowers should enter into one of the government's income-based repayment plans instead, in which their monthly bill will be capped at a portion of their income, he said. Some payments wind up being as little as $0 a month. But the fact that people are taking this drastic measure should bring scrutiny to the larger student loan system, said Alan Collinge, founder of Student Loan Justice. "Any rational person who learns that people are fleeing the country as a result of their student loan debt will conclude that something has gone horribly awry with this lending system," Collinge said. Haag tells CNBC that because of his student loan debt, "I have a higher standard of living in a Third World country than I would in America." The average student now has around $30,000 in debt when they graduate, according to the article (which is nearly double the inflation-adjusted average of $16,000 in the early 1990s) -- while inflation-adjusted salaries "have remained almost flat over the last few decades." One 39-year-old even tells CNBC, "I feel that college ruined my life." (He's been living overseas since 2011 -- first in China, then Ukraine -- and hasn't checked his student loan account in nearly eight years.) Another graduate teaching English in Japan told CNBC that they wanted to return to the U.S. -- but their student debt is now over $100,000. "The Education Department did not respond to a request for comment.

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WHO Officially Classifies 'Gaming Disorder' As An Illness

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 9:47pm
Saturday the World Health Organization officially adopted the latest update to its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) -- and added "gaming disorder" to its list of modern diseases. It's in a list of harmful behaviors which also includes too much use of "the internet, computers, smartphones." Despite opposition from trade groups, which reportedly pointed to contradictory research on the subject and touted some of the virtues of video games, the latest ICD was officially approved at the 72nd World Health Assembly.... It's described as "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior, which may be online or offline, manifested by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences." The issue of gaming addiction isn't new: The American Psychiatric Association still has it listed as up for discussion (PDF) in the latest version of its diagnostic bible, the DSM-5.

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Microsoft Teams With Alphabet's X and Brilliant For Online Quantum Computing Class

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 8:47pm
"Learn to build quantum algorithms from the ground up with a quantum computer simulated in your browser," suggests a new online course. "The very concept of a quantum computer can be daunting, let alone programming it, but Microsoft thinks it can offer a helping hand," reports Engadget: Microsoft is partnering with Alphabet's X and Brilliant on an online curriculum for quantum computing. The course starts with basic concepts and gradually introduces you to Microsoft's Q# language, teaching you how to write 'simple' quantum algorithms before moving on to truly complicated scenarios. You can handle everything on the web (including quantum circuit puzzles), and there's a simulator to verify that you're on the right track. The course "features Q# programming exercises with Python as the host language," explains Microsoft's press release. The course's web page promises that by the end of the course, "you'll know your way around the world of quantum information, have experimented with the ins and outs of quantum circuits, and have written your first 100 lines of quantum code -- while remaining blissfully ignorant about detailed quantum physics."

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Elon Musk on Twitter: 'Trains Should Be On Surface, Cars Below'

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 7:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: The SFGate site reports that Elon Musk engaged in a "bizarre Twitter fight" after someone suggested underground tunnels were better for trains than cars. "Opposite is true," Musk argued. "You can have 100's of layers of tunnels, but only one layer on surface (to first approximation), therefore trains should be on surface, cars below." Underground, he noted later, "you can have as many lanes as you want going in any direction." San Francisco transit authorities then pointed out that their high-capacity BART trains carry 28,000 people every hour through a tube under the San Francisco Bay, adding "That's nearly twice as much as cars over the bay." This being Twitter, BART "was attacked by a number of Musk fans and other BART critics, and was forced to defend everything from the odor on cars to the amount of public money the agency receives."

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'Boring Company' Video Suggests Company Is Abandoning Underground Rails

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 6:45pm
An anonymous reader quotes Business Insider: Shortly after news broke that Elon Musk's Boring Company landed its first tunnel-building project in Las Vegas, it released a video of two Teslas racing in its tunnel near Los Angeles -- one using the roads, and the other using a Boring Company tunnel. The Tesla in the tunnel took one minute and 36 seconds to get to the destination, reaching 127 mph, the video, posted early Friday, showed. The car using the roads arrived in four minutes and 45 seconds, after getting stuck at a red light. The video revealed that the Boring Company had done away with a key element of the tunnel's original design: rails that guide the car. The video revealed that a key element of the design of the Boring Company's 1.14-mile test tunnel in Hawthorne had changed. This demonstration of the tunnel differed from earlier ones in which cars were whisked along on rails. Replying to a tweet asking whether there were no more rails and the car was driving on Autopilot, Tesla's semi-autonomous driver-assist system, Musk said, "Pretty much." When asked why the original rail system had been abandoned, Musk added, "This is simple and just works." The automotive site Jalopnik complains this misses the dream of a vacuum-based hyperloop system transporting speedy proprietary vehicles on frictionless electrified skates: Yes, for those keeping score, in a mere two years we've gone from a futuristic vision of electric skates zooming around a variety of vehicles in a network of underground tunnels to -- and I cannot stress this enough -- a very small, paved tunnel that can fit one (1) car. The video's marketing conceit is that the car in the tunnel beats a car trying to go the same distance on roads. You'll never believe this, but the car that has a dedicated right of way wins... To recap: Musk's company spent two years developing a very narrow car tunnel.

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How a Professor Beat Roulette, Crediting a Non-Existent Supercomputer

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 5:50pm
I loved this story. The Hustle remembers how in 1964 a world-renowned medical professor found a way to beat roulette wheels, kicking off a five-year winning streak in which he amassed $1,250,000 ($8,000,000 today). He noticed that at the end of each night, casinos would replace cards and dice with fresh sets -- but the expensive roulette wheels went untouched and often stayed in service for decades before being replaced. Like any other machine, these wheels acquired wear and tear. Jarecki began to suspect that tiny defects -- chips, dents, scratches, unlevel surfaces -- might cause certain wheels to land on certain numbers more frequently than randomocity prescribed. The doctor spent weekends commuting between the operating table and the roulette table, manually recording thousands upon thousands of spins, and analyzing the data for statistical abnormalities. "I [experimented] until I had a rough outline of a system based on the previous winning numbers," he told the Sydney Morning Herald in 1969. "If numbers 1, 2, and 3 won the last 3 rounds, [I could determine] what was most likely to win the next 3...." With his wife, Carol, he scouted dozens of wheels at casinos around Europe, from Monte Carlo (Monaco), to Divonne-les-Bains (France), to Baden-Baden (Germany). The pair recruited a team of 8 "clockers" who posted up at these venues, sometimes recording as many as 20,000 spins over a month-long period. Then, in 1964, he made his first strike. After establishing which wheels were biased, he secured a £25,000 loan from a Swiss financier and spent 6 months candidly exacting his strategy. By the end of the run, he'd netted £625,000 (roughly $6,700,000 today). Jarecki's victories made headlines in newspapers all over the world, from Kansas to Australia. Everyone wanted his "secret" -- but he knew that if he wanted to replicate the feat, he'd have to conceal his true methodology. So, he concocted a "fanciful tale" for the press: He tallied roulette outcomes daily, then fed the information into an Atlas supercomputer, which told him which numbers to pick. At the time, wrote gambling historian, Russell Barnhart, in Beating the Wheel, "Computers were looked upon as creatures from outer space... Few persons, including casino managers, were vocationally qualified to distinguish myth from reality." Hiding behind this technological ruse, Jarecki continued to keep tabs on biased tables -- and prepare for his next big move... In the decades following Jarecki's dominance, casinos invested heavily in monitoring their roulette tables for defects and building wheels less prone to bias. Today, most wheels have gone digital, run by algorithms programmed to favor the house.

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'The Future of AT&T Is An Ad-tracking Nightmare Hellworld'

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 4:49pm
There's something scary in Fortune's new article about AT&T: "Say you and your neighbor are both DirecTV customers and you're watching the same live program at the same time," says Brian Lesser, who oversees the vast data-crunching operation that supports this kind of advertising at AT&T. "We can now dynamically change the advertising. Maybe your neighbor's in the market for a vacation, so they get a vacation ad. You're in the market for a car, you get a car ad. If you're watching on your phone, and you're not at home, we can customize that and maybe you get an ad specific to a car retailer in that location." Such targeting has caused privacy headaches for Yahoo, Google, and Facebook, of course. That's why AT&T requires that customers give permission for use of their data; like those other companies, it anonymizes that data and groups it into audiences -- for example, consumers likely to be shopping for a pickup truck -- rather than targeting specific individuals. Regardless of how you see a directed car ad, say, AT&T can then use geolocation data from your phone to see if you went to a dealership and possibly use data from the automaker to see if you signed up for a test-drive -- and then tell the automaker, "Here's the specific ROI on that advertising," says Lesser. AT&T claims marketers are paying four times the usual rate for that kind of advertising. "This is a terrifying vision of permanent surveillance," argues the Verge (in an article shared by schwit1): In order to make this work, AT&T would have to: - Own the video services you're watching so it can dynamically place targeted ads in your streams - Collect and maintain a dataset of your personal information and interests so it can determine when it should target this car ad to you - Know when you're watching something so it can actually target the ads - Track your location using your phone and combine it with the ad-targeting data to see if you visit a dealership after you see the ads - Collect even more data about you from the dealership to determine if you took a test-drive - Do all of this tracking and data collection repeatedly and simultaneously for every ad you see - Aggregate all of that data in some way for salespeople to show clients and justify a 4x premium over other kinds of advertising, including the already scary-targeted ads from Google and Facebook. If this was a story about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, this scheme would cause a week-long outrage cycle... AT&T can claim up and down that it's asked for permission to use customer information to do this, but there is simply no possible way the average customer has ever even read their AT&T contracts, let alone puzzled out that they're signing up to be permanently tracked and influenced by targeted media in this way.

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In A World First, Scientists Change Snail's Shell-Coiling Direction With CRISPR

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 3:46pm
"Most snails are 'righties'. Now scientists have found genes that can change the shell coiling direction," writes the New York Times. ( Non-paywalled version here ) Suren Enfiajyan shares their report: Studying these snails offers clues to the evolution of body plans in many animals. It also could be important for understanding why up to 10 percent of people are born with sinus inversus, a condition where their internal organs are flipped like a lefty snail's shell. Now scientists are turning to Crispr -- the powerful gene editing tool -- to figure out why some snails turn out this way. A team in Japan led by Reiko Kuroda, a chemist and biologist, has successfully used the technique to manipulate a single gene responsible for shell direction in a species of great pond snail. The research, published last week in the journal Development, offers definitive proof of the genetic underpinnings of handedness in this species, and could lead to clues about left- and right-handed mysteries in other organisms. "Ten years ago you might not imagine there were any similarities in the left/right asymmetry of a snail and the left/right asymmetry of humans. But it's becoming increasingly obvious that is the case," said Angus Davison, an evolutionary geneticist, who has studied chiral pond snails, but was not a part of Dr. Kuroda's study... In the current study, Dr. Kuroda and Masanori Abe used Crispr to edit out the Lsdia1 gene, and then raised the resulting mutant snails. Confirming previous work, they showed that even in the first embryonic cell, genetic information started picking sides. And by the third cleavage, when four cells become eight, the mutant cells were rotating in the opposite direction of what is expected. These snails grew into lefties, and so did their offspring. Without two working copies of Lsdia1, snails can survive with Lsdia2 -- but their shells won't coil to the right. In the article Dr. Davison says that there's still more research to do. "Unfortunately, snail research doesn't move quickly."

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Will Disney+ Destroy Netflix?

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 2:34pm
"Netflix has 175 days left to pull off a miracle... or it's all over," argues a headline at Forbes for an article by the chief analyst at disruption research firm RiskHedge: Netflix is not the future of TV. Netflix changed how we watch TV, but it didn't really change what we watch... Netflix has achieved its incredible growth by taking distribution away from cable companies. Instead of watching The Office on cable, people now watch The Office on Netflix. This edge isn't sustainable. In a world where you can watch practically anything whenever you want, dominance in distribution is very fragile. Because the internet has opened up a whole world of choice, featuring great exclusive content is now far more important than anything else... Netflix management knows content is king. The company spent $12 billion developing original shows last year... To fund its new shows, Netflix is borrowing huge sums of debt. It currently owes creditors $10.4 billion, which is 59% more than it owed this time last year. The problem is that no matter how much Netflix spends, it has no chance to catch up with its biggest rival... in about 175 days, Disney is set to launch its own streaming service called Disney+. It's going to charge $6.99/month -- around $6 cheaper than Netflix. And it's pulling all its content off of Netflix. This is a big deal. Disney owns Marvel, Pixar Animations, Star Wars, ESPN, National Geographic, Modern Family, and The Simpsons. Not to mention all the classic characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. In six of the past seven years, Disney has produced the world's top-selling movie... Disney has shown it can produce movies and shows people want to watch. No competitor comes within 1,000 miles of Disney's world of content. Disney's ownership of iconic franchises like Star Wars gives it something no money can buy. Meanwhile, Netflix will lose a lot of its best content -- and potentially millions of subscribers who switch to Disney+. While Netflix is running into debt "trying out" new shows, Disney already has the best of the best in its arsenal.

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MIDI Association Explains 'Capability Inquiry' Features In MIDI 2.0

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 1:34pm
Friday the MIDI Association published an introduction to MIDI 2.0, describing updates to the already-evolving 36-year-old standard, including MIDI-CI, Profiles and Property Exchange: MIDI 2.0 updates MIDI with new auto-configuration, extended resolution, increased expressiveness, and tighter timing -- all while maintaining a high priority on backward compatibility. This major update of MIDI paves the way for a new generation of advanced interconnected MIDI devices, while still preserving interoperability with the millions of existing MIDI 1.0 devices. One of the core goals of MIDI 2.0 is to also enhance the MIDI 1.0 feature set whenever possible. The additional capabilities that MIDI 2.0 brings to devices are enabled by MIDI-Capability Inquiry (MIDI-CI). The basic idea is that if devices have a bidirectional connection, they can exchange their capabilities with each other. Devices can share their configuration and what MIDI functions are supported. Devices use a bidirectional link to configure MIDI features when both devices agree to support that feature. MIDI-CI discovers and configures device features using three categories of inquiry: Profile Configuration, Property Exchange, and Protocol Negotiation. If a device does not support any new features, it uses the MIDI 1.0 as usual. Devices connected to that device will continue to use MIDI 1.0 in communication with that device... MIDI 2.0 has a new Universal MIDI Packet format for carrying MIDI 1.0 Protocol messages and MIDI 2.0 Protocol messages... The foundational specification, MIDI-CI has been published and is available for download. Other key MIDI 2.0 specifications are nearing completion in the MIDI Manufacturers Association. But it will take several years to write numerous Profile and Property Exchange specifications to follow.... [W]e do not expect any MIDI 2.0 products to be released in 2019. For MIDI to be fully useable, the industry needs devices, applications, operating systems, and DAWs to support these new specifications. It will take time for a whole system of devices to be available. The post emphasizes that the original MIDI 1.0 "is not being replaced. Rather it is being extended and is expected to continue, well integrated with the new MIDI 2.0 environment. It is part of the Universal MIDI Packet, the fundamental MIDI data format... "MIDI 2.0 is just part of the evolution of MIDI that has gone on for 36 years. The step by step evolution continues."

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What If We Could Reuse The Packaging on Consumer Products?

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 12:34pm
"The shampoo bottle, the deodorant stick, razors and even your toothbrush -- they all get thrown away when they're empty or worn out. But if they were reusable -- or refillable -- just imagine how much waste could be avoided." That's how Bloomberg describes the new "Loop" initiative being tested for one year by the New Jersey recycling company TerraCycle: This week, Loop began its U.S. trial, allowing consumers to use steel, glass and durable plastic reusable packaging for everyday items. Kroger Co. and Walgreens, along with such consumer brands as Procter & Gamble, Nestle, The Clorox Co. and Unilever, are taking part... For the trial, Loop is available online to customers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can order products made by the participating companies that will be delivered to you in special reusable packaging. Under the program, manufacturers have redesigned product containers for some of their most well-known products. Loop will collect a refundable deposit, sometimes $5 to $10, that customers will get back when they return their containers. UPS will pick up your empties for no additional charge... Procter & Gamble has unveiled its Crest mouthwash in a sleek glass bottle -- with a rubber base to prevent breakage. It also has non-electric Oral B toothbrushes that have a head that pops off so users can keep the base and replace the brush. But it was the stainless steel ice cream container for Nestle's Haagen-Dazs (which isn't too cold to the touch but keeps ice cream cool longer) that was the crowd favorite at a Manhattan rollout this week.... During Loop's trial, returned containers will go to New Jersey and then Pennsylvania for washing, then back to the companies' factories for refilling... [W]hile reusable packaging may require more energy and materials when first made, Tom Szaky, chief executive of TerraCycle, said the carbon cost becomes equal to that of disposable packaging after just two or three uses. His goal, he said, is to produce items that can be reused 100 times... Szaky explained that Loop is all about bringing back the milkman model, where glass bottles of milk were left on your porch, and you put the empties there to be picked up... "We want you to see Loop packaging 50 years from now still going around," Szaky said.

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TurboTax Is Using A 'Military Discount' to Trick Troops Into Paying to File Their Taxes

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 11:34am
"Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, created and promoted a 'military discount' that charges service members who are eligible to file for free," reports ProPublica, in a story co-published with The Military Times: In patriotism-drenched promotions, press releases and tweets, TurboTax promotes special deals for military service members, promising to help them file their taxes online for free or at a discount. Yet some service members who've filed by going to the TurboTax Military landing page told ProPublica they were charged as much as $150 -- even though, under a deal with the government, service members making under $66,000 are supposed to be able to file on TurboTax for free... To find TurboTax's Free File landing page, service members typically have to go through the IRS website. TurboTax Military, by contrast, is promoted on the company's home page and elsewhere. Starting through the Military landing page directs many users to paid products even when they are eligible to get the same service for no cost using the Free File edition... The New York regulator investigating TurboTax is also examining the military issue, according to a person familiar with the probe. The authors of the article tested the software by entering tax information for a military household in Virginia that was eligible for free filing. TurboTax Military "tried to upgrade us or convince us to pay for side products six times. We declined those extras each time. "Finally, the program told us we had to pay $159.98 to finish filing. And that 'military discount'? All of $5."

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The First Usable Electric Car Was Invented In Britain In 1884

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 10:34am
"Thomas Parker, sometimes described as the 'Edison of Britain', was a British engineer and electrical technologies inventor working in the 1800s who was also one of the world's first environmentalists," remembers Slashdot reader dryriver. Parker had been troubled by the pollution in coal-burning cities around London -- and decided to do something about it: Parker was very adept both at inventing new things and at significantly improving technologies that others had invented before him. He improved everything from steam pumps, to electrical batteries, electric motors, alternators and dynamos, invented the award winning "Kyrle Grate," which was designed to allow anthracite coal to be burned inside of it, and was responsible for the electrification of London's "Underground" Subway system and tramways build in other British cities. There has been attempts at electrical cars before Parker's going back as far as the 1830s, but his was revolutionary in many aspects. The Elwell-Parker car was fitted with Parker's high-capacity rechargeable batteries, and later vehicles had hydraulic brakes on all four wheels, as well as four-wheel steering. These features are even now being described as revolutionary. While Parker's electrical cars were quite popular in America and Britain for a number of years (read more here), soon improved gas- and diesel-based vehicles caused public interest in electric cars to wane. Parker's company Elwell Parker, which survives to this day, then focused on making electrical speciality vehicles for factories and warehouses -- electric carts for moving equipment and crates around, and precursors of modern forklifts, for example. While everybody knows electrical inventors like Edison and Tesla today, Thomas Parker is barely known and barely remembered...

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British Consumers Have Started To Dump Huawei Phones

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 9:34am
"British consumers have begun trading in smartphones from Huawei Technologies Co. in growing numbers since the Chinese tech giant was hit by a U.S. supply blacklist," reports Bloomberg: Trade-in and price-tracking companies report a surge in U.K. consumers trading in devices from the Shenzhen-based manufacturer, while interest from buyers fizzles. The numbers show that concerns around the company have extended beyond trade talks and corporate procurement and turned into backlash at retail, where Huawei makes most of its sales. Gadget trade-in website WeBuyTek, which buys and resells about 36,000 handsets a year, has seen a 540% increase in the number of Huawei devices booked this week versus last. That's the biggest jump it's ever seen, the company's director, Paul Walsh, said by email. "'We have temporarily stopped accepting any new trade-ins, as we expect the value of these devices to plummet," he said... The website www.SellMyMobile.com reported a rise of up to 282% in the number of people assessing the value of their Huawei handsets from May 20 to May 22, compared with previous days, according to a representative... The rush follows the decision by BT Group and Vodafone Group to pull the Huawei Mate 20 X phone from their launches of fifth-generation wireless products. The British carriers joined others from around the world, citing uncertainty after Huawei was cut off from U.S. companies by new trade restrictions and barred from receiving software support for the Android operating system from Alphabet Inc.'s Google. In other news, Microsoft removed Huawei laptops from its online store on Friday.

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Microsoft Adds Python To Windows -- Sort Of

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 7:34am
A post this week on Microsoft's developer blog explains "what we, the Python team, have done to make Python easier to install on Windows" after the next update. TLDR: Typing 'python' in Windows' Command Prompt will take you to the Microsoft Store's Python page: Microsoft has been involved with the Python community for over twelve years, and currently employ four of the key contributors to the language and primary runtime. The growth of Python has been incredible, as it finds homes among data scientists, web developers, system administrators, and students, and roughly half of this work is already happening on Windows. And yet, Python developers on Windows find themselves facing more friction than on other platforms. It's been widely known for many years that Windows is the only mainstream operating system that does not include a Python interpreter out of the box... So we made things easier. First, we helped the community release their distribution of Python to the Microsoft Store. This version of Python is fully maintained by the community, installs easily on Windows 10, and automatically makes common commands such as python, pip and idle available (as well as equivalents with version numbers python3 and python3.7, for all the commands, just like on Linux). Finally, with the May 2019 Windows Update, we are completing the picture. While Python continues to remain completely independent from the operating system, every install of Windows will include python and python3 commands that take you directly to the Python store page. We believe that the Microsoft Store package is perfect for users starting out with Python, and given our experience with and participation in the Python community we are pleased to endorse it as the default choice. And while this fix is only for Python, the Microsoft post adds that "Over time, we plan to extend similar integration to other developer tools and reduce the getting started friction."

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Can James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger Revive The 'Terminator' Franchise?

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 3:34am
"The Resistance's war against Skynet rages on with the sixth installment of the Terminator series," reports Variety, adding that the James Cameron-produced film "serves as a direct sequel to the first two movies in the franchise, relegating the events of the intervening films to alternate timelines." Or, as ET Online: puts it, "Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and James Cameron are together again!" On Thursday, Paramount Pictures released the first trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate, and it's a reunion for the film franchise's original stars and filmmaker. Hamilton steps back into her role as the badass Sarah Connor, who teams up with Grace (Mackenzie Davis), a woman from the future who shows up in New Mexico and first appears much like Schwarzenegger's character did in the first movie. Directed by Deadpool's Tim Miller, Cameron wrote the story treatment for the sequel and was a producer on the film. After several action scenes, Sarah Connor knocks on the door of an old house, and the original Terminator (Schwarzenegger) appears with a salt-and-pepper beard. "We're back," Schwarzenegger, 71, tweeted along with the trailer, alluding to his iconic line "I'll be back." After two days the trailer has racked over 12.5 million views on YouTube, and James Cameron "not only assures that the new entry will be R-rated, but he makes it clear this will be, in more than one way, much more similar to the first two movies in the series," reports Movieweb -- quoting these remarks from one of Cameron's recent interviews. "I think, tonally, what makes this a direct sequel to T1 and T2 is as much about the tone as it is about the narrative: it's R rated, it's grim, it's gritty, it's fast, it's intense, it's linear."

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SpaceX's Train of Satellites Creates Temporary 'Mega-Constellation'

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 11:34pm
"SpaceX's unorthodox card-dealing launch of 60 Starlink broadband satellites has led to an unusual viewing opportunity for skywatchers -- and an occasion to wonder about the impact of such mega-constellations on the natural night sky," reports GeekWire: A video captured by satellite-watcher Marco Langbroek in the Netherlands sums up the awe... It didn't take long for Langbroek and other skywatchers to work out the coordinates for the long train of satellites, and to plug those coordinates into online satellite-pass calculators such as CalSky. On Twitter, David Dickinson, author of "The Universe Today: Ultimate Guide to Viewing the Cosmos," started doling out location-specific sighting predictions based on the Orbitron satellite-tracking program. CalSky automatically picks up your coordinates for satellite sightings, but for those in the Seattle area, the best time to look for the Starlink train passing by tonight is likely to be in the range of 10:50 to 11:10 p.m. PT, going from southwest to northeast. That's a liberal stretch of time that accounts for a range of locations (say, Port Townsend vs. North Bend), plus uncertainties in the orbital estimates. There are other passes overnight at around 12:30, 3:50 and 5:20 a.m. PT. The brightness of the satellites is a question mark. Some say they can be seen with the naked eye, while others advise scanning with binoculars. A lot depends on how the satellites pick up the glint of the sun after dusk or before dawn. Tonight Langbroek reported that the satellite train wasn't as bright as it was the night before. Speaking of brightness, astronomers and SpaceX fans have already begun the debate over the prospect of having thousands of broadband-beaming satellites in low Earth orbit. The 60 satellites launched this week merely represent the beginning of a campaign aimed at launching as many as 11,000 such spacecraft. And that's just for SpaceX's Starlink system. Thousands more could go into orbit for the constellations being contemplated by OneWeb, Telesat, LeoSat Enterprises and Amazon's Project Kuiper. Today Elon Musk tweeted defensively that "sats will be in darkness when stars are visible" -- while GeekWire points out that the satellites are also scheduled to spread. "Within just a few days, the tightly spaced 'train' will turn into a dispersed chain that girdles the globe," their article concludes. "And once that happens, chances are that skywatchers and sky-worriers alike will turn their attention to the next batch of Starlink satellites."

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CrossFit Storms Off Facebook and Instagram

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 9:34pm
"CrossFit, the branded workout regimen, deleted its Facebook and Instagram pages earlier this week and explained the reasoning through an impassioned press release," reports the Verge. TechSpot has more details: In a press release, CrossFit revealed the breaking point: the deletion of the Banting7DayMealPlan user group, without warning or explanation. Banting is an alternative high-fat low-carb diet with no set meal times or processed foods, and its Facebook group had 1.65 million users, including 1 million from South Africa. The group mostly posts testimonials and discusses the merits of the diet or how it might be implemented. While the group has been reinstated (still without explanation), CrossFit is right to call into question why Facebook removed it in the first place. While Banting is probably inadvisable, groups advocating for it have a right to exist. Still, that's far from the only reason CrossFit abandoned the platforms... CrossFit sees itself as a community of 15,000 affiliates and millions of individuals against "an unholy alliance of academia, government, and multinational food, beverage, and pharmaceutical companies," according to their press release -- so they may be feeling vulnerable. CrossFit, Inc. defends relentlessly the right of its affiliates, trainers, and athletes to practice CrossFit, build voluntary CrossFit associations and businesses, and speak openly and freely about the ideas and principles that animate our views of exercise, nutrition, and health... Facebook and its properties host and oversee a significant share of the marketplace of public thought... Facebook thus serves as a de facto authority over the public square, arbitrating a worldwide exchange of information as well as overseeing the security of the individuals and communities who entrust their ideas, work, and private data to this platform. This mandates a certain responsibility and assurance of good faith, transparency, and due process. CrossFit, Inc., as a voluntary user of and contributor to this marketplace, can and must remove itself from this particular manifestation of the public square when it becomes clear that such responsibilities are betrayed or reneged upon to the detriment of our community. CrossFit says they're "suspending" all activity on the platforms while they investigate "the circumstances pertaining to Facebook's deletion of the Banting7DayMealPlan and other well-known public complaints about the social-media company," adding that CrossFit "will no longer support or use Facebook's services until further notice."

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