Facebook Asks Users About Coronavirus Symptoms, Releases Friendship Data To Researchers

technology - Posted On:2020-04-07 08:14:57 Source: slashdot

Facebook said on Monday it would start surveying some U.S. users about their health as part of a Carnegie Mellon University research project aimed at generating "heat maps" of self-reported coronavirus infections. From a report: The social media giant will display a link at the top of users' News Feeds directing them to the survey, which the researchers say will help them predict where medical resources are needed. Facebook said it may make surveys available to users in other countries too, if the approach is successful. Facebook said in a blog post that the Carnegie Mellon researchers "won't share individual survey responses with Facebook, and Facebook won't share information about who you are with the researchers." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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New Guinea villagers unearth evidence of the island’s Neolithic past

Science - Posted On:2020-04-07 06:44:57 Source: arstechnica

When people in New Guinea started tending crops like yam and fruits around 8,000 years ago, they transformed nearly everything about life on the island. By around 5,000 years ago, people had begun settling in houses supported by wooden posts. The farmers developed new kinds of cutting tools, and they carved stone pestles to prepare yams, fruits, and nuts. They also wove brightly-colored fabrics with dyed fibers, elaborate carved stone figures of birds, and traded across 800km of ocean for obsidian.

The details of daily life were uniquely New Guinea. But the big picture—more people, settled village life, new types of stone tools, and a sudden flourishing of symbolic art—might have been familiar to people from other early agricultural societies around the world. Together, those things are a bundle of cultural trends that archaeologists call Neolithic.

Until recently, archaeologists didn’t think New Guinea had developed its own Neolithic culture. Instead, many researchers thought all the trappings of Neolithic village life had arrived around 3,200 years ago with the Lapita, a group of seafaring farmers who came to the island from Southeast Asia. That’s because the few Neolithic artifacts that could be properly dated all seemed to come from after the Lapita arrived. But the people of the small highland village of Waim recently rewrote that narrative, with a chance discovery during a local construction project.

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Russian Telco Hijacked Internet Traffic of Google, AWS, Cloudflare, and Others

technology - Posted On:2020-04-07 05:14:57 Source: slashdot

Last week, traffic meant for more than 200 of the world's largest content delivery networks (CDNs) and cloud hosting providers was suspiciously redirected through Rostelecom, Russia's state-owned telecommunications provider. From a report: The incident affected more than 8,800 internet traffic routes from 200+ networks, and lasted for about an hour. Impacted companies are a who's who in the cloud and CDN market, including big names such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Akamai, Cloudflare, GoDaddy, Digital Ocean, Joyent, LeaseWeb, Hetzner, and Linode. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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uTorrent is the Most Used BitTorrent Client By Far

it - Posted On:2020-04-07 03:14:57 Source: slashdot

Ernesto, writing for TorrentFreak: With help from iknowwhatyoudownload we looked at over 25 million logged BitTorrent connections on a single day last week. This reveals that more than two-thirds (68.6%) of these were using uTorrent's desktop version. The vast majority of these users were updated to the most recent 3.5.5 release, but dozens of older versions are in use as well. Although no longer officially supported, there are also hundreds of thousands of people who still use uTorrent for Mac. The most popular Mac client, however, appears to be Transmission. This is a notable change compared to a decade ago when its market share was much lower. Although Transmission also has a beta Windows release, that userbase is believed to be relatively small. Below is an overview of all software with at least 0.1% market share -- which translates to roughly 25,000 logged connections. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Polestar’s latest concept shows it thinks differently about design

Cars - Posted On:2020-04-07 01:29:58 Source: arstechnica

The Polestar Precept was one of the cars I was most looking forward to seeing in person before the Geneva auto show got cancelled. The brand is a new one, spun out of Volvo with a fully funded mission to build exciting electric vehicles. And the Precept is a statement in that regard, with some interesting things to say about the way an EV can look, both outside and inside, that aren't just a rehash of decades-old conventions. Polestar was evidently sad that it couldn't show off its latest design study to the wider world, too, and so it sent us a bunch of new images of the car while designer Max Missoni hopped on a phone in Sweden to talk to me about the Precept.

Although the Precept is just a design study, it's been designed in parallel with the Polestar 3, a coupe-like SUV that should arrive before the end of 2021. "However, we are always careful to not overpromise and do design studies that are so far away from reality that none of it could be imagined in production," Missoni told me. "A lot of the elements of the Precept are going to resurface in Polestar 3. So, the dimensions and features and design language is quite realistic."

The car's shape has been heavily influenced by the demands of aerodynamic efficiency, which is why there's what looks to be a floating-wing element over the nose, as well as a rather unusual rear end.

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Polestar’s Precept avoids the stereotypes of performance-car design

Cars - Posted On:2020-04-07 01:14:59 Source: arstechnica

The Polestar Precept was one of the cars I was most looking forward to seeing in person before the Geneva auto show got cancelled. The brand is a new one, spun out of Volvo with a fully funded mission to build exciting electric vehicles. And the Precept is a statement in that regard, with some interesting things to say about the way an EV can look, both outside and inside, that aren't just a rehash of decades-old conventions. Polestar was evidently sad that it couldn't show off its latest design study to the wider world, too, and so it sent us a bunch of new images of the car while designer Max Missoni hopped on a phone in Sweden to talk to me about the Precept.

Although the Precept is just a design study, it's been designed in parallel with the Polestar 3, a coupe-like SUV that should arrive before the end of 2021. "However, we are always careful to not overpromise and do design studies that are so far away from reality that none of it could be imagined in production," Missoni told me. "A lot of the elements of the Precept are going to resurface in Polestar 3. So, the dimensions and features and design language is quite realistic."

The car's shape has been heavily influenced by the demands of aerodynamic efficiency, which is why there's what looks to be a floating-wing element over the nose, as well as a rather unusual rear end.

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Supervised Self-Driving Shuttles Are Moving COVID-19 Tests In Florida

science - Posted On:2020-04-07 01:14:58 Source: slashdot

Autonomous shuttles are being used to move COVID-19 tests from a Jacksonville, Florida testing site to a nearby Mayo Clinic processing location, in what the medical nonprofit is calling a "first" for the U.S. But as is often the case with autonomous vehicle pilot programs, there's a catch: during each run made to and from the clinic, the self-driving shuttles are being trailed by an SUV driven by a human. The Verge reports: The SUV can be spotted in a video released by the Mayo Clinic, after one of the Mayo Clinic workers loads the cooler of tests onto the self-driving shuttle. The SUV then follows the shuttle across the Mayo Clinic's campus, where the batch of fresh tests is swapped for another cooler. Four of these vehicles have made the same run back and forth each day since March 30th. In a statement provided to The Verge, Joe Moye, the CEO of autonomous vehicle operator Beep, said the Jacksonville Transportation Authority is providing the chase vehicles to "ensure no traffic or pedestrians would potentially impact the delivery path of the COVID-19 samples and supplies." That's despite the fact that the Mayo Clinic's press release says the routes the shuttles are running "are isolated from pedestrians, traffic and staff." A representative for Beep, which worked with the Mayo Clinic, JTA, and self-driving shuttle builder Navya on the pilot, says that putting the tests in the attendant-less shuttle instead of in an SUV or truck being driven by a human helps limit any potential exposure to the novel coronavirus. And judging from the distance covered in the video released by the Mayo Clinic, it does look like using some sort of vehicle -- autonomous or not -- would indeed help speed up the delivery of the tests to the processing site. Another benefit, according to Moye, is that the shuttle helps keep many Mayo Clinic staff as free as possible, since they would otherwise have to transport the samples themselves. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Great Barrier Reef Suffers Its Most Widespread Mass Bleaching Event On Record

news - Posted On:2020-04-06 23:44:58 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Post: Surveys conducted by scientists at Australia's James Cook University and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority show that a summer of extreme heat has caused the reef, which is a World Heritage Site, to suffer a mass bleaching of unprecedented scale. Corals from the far north to the southern tip of the 1,400 mile-long ecosystem are experiencing severe impacts. It was also one of the reef's worst mass bleaching episodes in terms of intensity, second only to 2016, which killed half of all shallow-water corals on the northern Great Barrier Reef. Unlike the summer of 2016, when an intense marine heat wave coincided with one of the strongest El Nino events on record, this past summer brought a bleaching event without any assistance from the Pacific climate oscillation. As heat built across the reef in February, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority began reporting pockets of bleaching in the far north toward the end of the month. By early March, vast swaths of the ecosystem had accumulated eight or more "degree heating weeks," a metric scientists use to describe recent cumulative heat exposure. At this threshold, reef scientists expect to see widespread bleaching and mortality from thermal stress, according to NOAA. Researchers decided to conduct aerial and waterborne surveys to assess the extent of the damage. The surveys, which took place during the last two weeks of March, quickly confirmed the reef has undergone its third mass bleaching event in the past five years. "This year, some 35 percent of the 1,036 reefs the scientists surveyed experienced moderate bleaching, while a quarter were severely bleached," the report adds. "Scientists saw severe bleaching on coastal reefs from Torres Strait in the far north to the southern border of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, at levels only eclipsed during 2016." What's troubling to see is bleaching in the south, which has managed to escape the previous two events. "In the northern and central Great Barrier Reef, these corals were largely annihilated by bleaching in 2016-17, transforming vast swaths of the reef into a 'highly altered, degraded system,'" reports The Washington Post, citing a 2018 paper in the journal Nature. "Now the south seems poised to slide into a similar ecological disrepair." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Gaps in Amazon's Response as Virus Spreads To More Than 50 Warehouses

slashdot - Posted On:2020-04-06 22:14:59 Source: slashdot

Shifting sick-leave policy and communication issues are causing employees to assert themselves after they stayed on the job. From a report: As millions of Americans heed government orders to hunker down, ordering food and medicines and books and puzzle boards for home delivery, many of Amazon's 400,000 warehouse workers have stayed on the job, fulfilling the crushing demands of a country suddenly working and learning from home. Orders for Amazon groceries, for example, have been as much as 50 times higher than normal, according to a person with direct knowledge of the business. The challenge is keeping enough people on the job to fill those orders, according to more than 30 Amazon warehouse workers and current and former corporate employees who spoke with The New York Times. For all of its high-tech sophistication, Amazon's vast e-commerce business is dependent on an army of workers operating in warehouses they now fear are contaminated with the coronavirus. [...] Amazon's response to the pandemic has differed from warehouse to warehouse. Over the years, that sort of autonomy has allowed Amazon to nimbly adjust to local market conditions. Now it is leading to distrust, as workers see some facilities close for cleaning while others remain open. Since the first worker in the Queens facility learned on March 18 that he had tested positive, the company has learned of cases in more than 50 other facilities, out of the more than 500 it operates across the country. In recent weeks, Amazon has raised wages and added quarantine leave, and it is offering overtime at double pay. It said it had tripled its janitorial staff. And it has added space between many workstations. But in private groups, conversations with their managers and public protests, some workers have expressed alarm about their safety. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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New Renewable Energy Capacity Hit Record Levels In 2019

hardware - Posted On:2020-04-06 21:14:58 Source: slashdot

According to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), solar, wind and other green technologies now provide more than one-third of the world's power, marking another record. The Guardian reports: Fossil fuel power plants are in decline in Europe and the U.S., with more decommissioned than built in 2019. But the number of coal and gas plants grew in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In the Middle East, which owns half the world's oil reserves, just 26% of new electricity generation capacity built in 2019 was renewable. The world has invested about $3 trillion in renewables over the past decade, according to Irena, but annual investments must double by 2030 to tackle the climate emergency. The Irena data shows the increase in new renewable energy capacity slowed slightly in 2019 - from 179GW to 176GW -- but that new fossil fuel power also fell. The total green energy installed to date around the world grew by 7.6%, with the UK's total rising 6.1%. The UK is now 11th in the world for installed renewables. New solar power provided 55% of the new capacity, most of which was installed in Asia, with China, India, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam leading the way. Other major increases were seen in the U.S., Australia, Spain, Germany and Ukraine. Wind power made up 34% of the total, with almost half in China and significant additions in the U.S. Global wind power capacity remains just ahead of solar, with 95% being onshore turbines. Other green technologies -- hydropower, bioenergy, geothermal and marine energy -- all grew modestly year-on-year. While small compared with solar and wind power, geothermal energy -- tapping the heat of deep rocks -- is growing, with Turkey, Indonesia and Kenya leading the way. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Foursquare Merges With Factual, Another Location-Data Provider

slashdot - Posted On:2020-04-06 20:14:59 Source: slashdot

Foursquare, the 10-year-old location platform based in New York City, has today announced its plan to merge with Factual. From a report: The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The merged company will keep the Foursquare moniker, and Foursquare CEO David Shim will remain at the helm, with Factual's founder and now-former CEO Gil Elbaz joining Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley as a member of the board and executive team. Shim confirmed to TechCrunch that this merger was in the works before the coronavirus turned the world upside down. A company spokesperson acknowledged that there are redundancies in the two teams -- so there will be layoffs, although they declined to get specific about how many employees or which teams will be affected. Foursquare is not the same company it was when it launched at SXSW in 2009. The location-based social network, which let people check in to locations to share with their friends and earn badges, has evolved over time into an advertising and marketing platform focused on location as a differentiator. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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500-year-old manuscript contains earliest known use of the “F-word”

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2020-04-06 19:44:59 Source: arstechnica

Scotland has much to recommend it: impressive architecture, gorgeous Highlands, and a long, distinguished intellectual tradition that has spawned some of the Western world's greatest thinkers over several centuries. It's also, apparently, home to a medieval manuscript that contains the earliest known usage of the swear word "F#$%."

The profanity appears in a poem recorded by a bored student in Edinburgh while under lockdown as the plague ravaged Europe—something we can all relate to these days. The poem is getting renewed attention thanks to its inclusion in a forthcoming BBC Scotland documentary exploring the country's long, proud tradition of swearing, Scotland—Contains Strong Language.

The Bannatyne Manuscript gets its name from a young 16th-century Edinburgh merchant named George Bannatyne, who compiled the roughly 400 poems while stuck at home in late 1568, as the plague ravaged his city. It's an anthology of Scottish literature, particularly the texts of poems by some of the country's greatest bards (known as makars) in the 15th and 16th centuries. According to a spokeswoman for the National Library of Scotland (where the manuscript is housed), "It has long been known that the manuscript contains some strong swearwords that are now common in everyday language, although at the time, they were very much used in good-natured jest."

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Tesla Shows How It's Building Ventilators With Car Parts

science - Posted On:2020-04-06 19:29:59 Source: slashdot

Tesla has provided a behind-the-scenes look at its ventilator design process, which involves using parts from its vehicles. TechCrunch reports: Like Ford and General Motors, Tesla engineers are building its vent with parts for its vehicles. The reason is simple: car parts are available. Automotive companies obsessively stage parts for final assemble. Without doing so, having a shortage on, say, door handles can shut down a production line. In this thought, Tesla engineers say in this video they are trying to use as many car parts as possible. For instance, Tesla's ventilator uses the Model 3 infotainment system to power a Model 3 vehicle computer, which in turn, controls an air flow manifold. A suspension air tank is used as a oxygen mixing chamber. Among other parts, the team is also employing a Model 3 touchscreen as a controller. You can watch the behind-the-scenes video here. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Bidet startup Tushy scales up to meet demand amid toilet paper shortage

Extra Crunch - Posted On:2020-04-06 19:00:00 Source: techcrunch

Business at Tushy is booming. While the circumstances that led to the boom are sobering, the bidet company needed to adapt its strategy after seeing an uptick in business amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Other companies in this cohort include video conferencing service Zoom, meal kit service Blue Apron and Facebook, thanks to its social network, […]

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TCL launches self-branded smartphones at $449, $249

Tech - Posted On:2020-04-06 19:00:00 Source: arstechnica

TCL is primarily known as a company that builds cheap TVs, but it has also been building smartphones for awhile now. After Blackberry quit the smartphone market in 2016, TCL licensed the brand and started pumping out QWERTY-equipped Android phones. It licenses the Alcatel brand from Nokia and builds cheaper slab phones. It bought the Palm trademark from HP and produced the microscopic "Palm Palm" smartphone. Starting now, though, TCL is actually going to put its own name on the smartphones it makes, and the first is this set of three devices that all cost under $500.

The lineup here is kind of strange since the most expensive phone is not the fastest phone of the bunch. The most expensive is the $449 TCL 10 Pro, which has a Snapdragon 675 SoC, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 4500mAh battery, and a 6.47-inch, 2340×1080 OLED display. The design is pretty flagship-y, with an in-screen fingerprint reader, a front camera notch, a display that curves along the sides, and an always-on display mode. There are four rear cameras, a 64MP main, a wide-angle lens, a macro camera, and a "low light video cam." TCL says this phone is coming out in "Europe, North America, Australia, and the United Kingdom starting in Q2 2020 for €449/$449/£399."

The Snapdragon 675 is the one oddball listing in that spec sheet. This is an 11nm, eight-core SoC with two Cortex A76 cores and six Cortex A55 cores. This SoC was first introduced in 2018, which makes it pretty old. Now let's get weird and compare this $449, 4G, Snapdragon 675 phone to the next phone in TCL's lineup, a Snapdragon 765G, 5G phone for... $430?

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Microsoft script installs Folding@Home in Windows 10's Sandbox

Security - Posted On:2020-04-06 18:45:00 Source: bleepingcomputer

Microsoft has released a PowerShell script that allows you to quickly start donating your CPU cycles to the Folding@Home project by deploying the program in the Windows 10 Sandbox. [...]

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After troubled first flight, Boeing will refly Starliner without crew

Science - Posted On:2020-04-06 18:29:59 Source: arstechnica

Boeing announced on Monday evening that it will refly its Starliner spacecraft, without astronauts, to demonstrate the vehicle's safety for NASA.

"We are committed to the safety of the men and women who design, build and ultimately will fly on the Starliner just as we have on every crewed mission to space," Boeing said in a statement. "We have chosen to refly our Orbital Flight Test to demonstrate the quality of the Starliner system. Flying another uncrewed flight will allow us to complete all flight test objectives and evaluate the performance of the second Starliner vehicle at no cost to the taxpayer."

The decision follows the initial uncrewed flight of Starliner in late December, when what was supposed to be a week-long mission was cut to two days and a plan to dock with the International Space Station was abandoned due to a "mission elapsed time" error.

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NVIDIA Is Contributing Its AI Smarts To Help Fight COVID-19

technology - Posted On:2020-04-06 18:29:59 Source: slashdot

NVIDIA is using its background in AI and optimizing supercomputer throughput to the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium group, which plans to support researchers by giving them time with 30 supercomputers offering a combined 400 petaflops of performance. Engadget reports: NVIDIA will add to this by providing expertise in AI, biology and large-scale computing optimizations. The company likened the Consortium's efforts to the Moon race. Ideally, this will speed up work for scientists who need modelling and other demanding tasks that would otherwise take a long time. NVIDIA has a number of existing contributions to coronavirus research, including the 27,000 GPUs inside the Summit supercomputer and those inside many of the computers from the crowdsourced Folding@Home project. This is still a significant step forward, though, and might prove lifesaving if it leads to a vaccine or more effective containment. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Bubba Wallace rage-quit a NASCAR esports race, then lost his sponsor

Cars - Posted On:2020-04-06 18:14:59 Source: arstechnica

As NASCAR turns to esports as a way to continue racing in an age of social isolation, one up-and-coming driver has found out there are consequences for rage-quitting. Bubba Wallace, whose regular job is driving the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports car, was wrecked in a race held at a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway in iRacing. When his car respawned in the pitlane, Wallace told his Twitch stream "That's it. That's why I don't take this shit seriously. Peace out," as he quit the game instead of rejoining a lap or three down on the leaders.

Fans on Twitter weren't shy of criticizing Wallace's move, which is where things went quickly downhill. After Wallace made light of the fact that he "ruined so many peoples [sic] day by quiting.. [sic] a video game," his major sponsor for the race, Blue Emu, quit him, replying to his tweet with the news that "We're interested in drivers, not quitters."

— Blue-Emu (@BlueEmu1) April 5, 2020

During our last visit to a NASCAR race, a visibly angry Wallace burned rubber in the paddock (and nearly sideswiped this writer) after being wrecked and having to retire early. As we've noted before, the sport is aiming to bring as much of a sense of normality as possible in its temporary switch to esports, and in that regard Wallace's rage-quit seems par for the course. Only that time, it didn't cost him a sponsor.

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Dr. Drew apologizes for being a COVID-19 denier after copyright silliness

Policy - Posted On:2020-04-06 18:00:00 Source: arstechnica

Everyone who is (or wants to be) anyone seems to have some opinion or advice about the current COVID-19 crisis. Many of those opinions have been, frankly, quite bad. And someone who makes his money from media appearances trying to disappear those opinions from the Internet after realizing those opinions were, in fact, quite bad, doesn't help matters any.

Dr. Drew Pinsky is up there with Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil on the list of "celebrity doctors whose name you probably know." He soared to fame in the 1990s and 2000s on the back of his TV and radio advice show Loveline. Pinsky, who performs and markets himself as Dr. Drew, is indeed a medical doctor—but he is not an epidemiologist or specialist in infectious disease. He earned his MD from the University of Southern California in 1984 and went to work as a physician, specializing in the treatment of addiction and chemical dependencies, in the decades that followed.

But not being an expert in infectious disease did not stop him from being widely dismissive of the potential threat from COVID-19 throughout the year, even as the threat continued to grow. Dr. Drew is taking the threat seriously now that more than 330,000 people inside the United States have tested positive for the disease and more than 10,000 have died. On Saturday, he released a video apologizing for his earlier comments, which he said were "wrong."

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