By msmash from Slashdot's aggressive-expansion department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Arabella. Lark & Roe. Mae. NuPro. Small Parts. You might not know it from their names, but these brands all belong to Amazon. Amazon's private label business is booming, on pace to generate $7.5 billion this year and $25 billion by 2022, according to estimates from investment firm SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. To accelerate that growth, the company is inviting manufacturers to create products exclusively for its collection of private brands. The "Amazon Accelerator Program" is hiring a senior product manager for private brands, CNBC reported. The job listing invites applicants to "invent and Think Big to take an idea from concept to reality for Amazon customers." Duties include managing and planning inventory, identifying business opportunities, and working across a wide swath of Amazon divisions, including consumables, Prime Pantry, Prime Fresh, Prime Now, and Amazon Go. Another job listing spotted by CNBC, for a private brands program leader, notes that the "Private Brands team is rapidly expanding and is looking for an exceptional product leader to grow the business." Brands created through the accelerator will be exclusive to Amazon, but not owned by it, the company said. Further reading: Amazon is Stuffing Its Search Results Pages With Ads.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's other-shoe-drops department
Bloomberg BusinessWeek published a story on Thursday which claimed that data center equipments run by Amazon Web Services and Apple were subject to surveillance from the Chinese government via a tiny microchip inserted during the equipment manufacturing process. Both Amazon and Apple have vehemently refuted Bloomberg's reporting. Bloomberg's reporters, who have spent more than a year on the story and have cited 17 sources for the claims they make in it, have doubled down. In a new story, the news outlet reports that Supermicro was the target of at least two additional forms of attack. This report claims that Facebook was aware of these attacks, too, which has confirmed it. From the story: The first of the other two prongs involved a Supermicro online portal that customers used to get critical software updates, and that was breached by China-based attackers in 2015. The problem, which was never made public, was identified after at least two Supermicro customers downloaded firmware -- software installed in hardware components -- meant to update their motherboards' network cards, key components that control communications between servers running in a data center. The code had been altered, allowing the attackers to secretly take over a server's communications, according to samples passed around at the time among a small group of Supermicro customers. One of these customers was Facebook. "In 2015, we were made aware of malicious manipulation of software related to Supermicro hardware from industry partners through our threat intelligence industry sharing programs," Facebook said in an emailed statement. "While Facebook has purchased a limited number of Supermicro hardware for testing purposes confined to our labs, our investigations reveal that it has not been used in production, and we are in the process of removing them." The victims considered the faulty code a serious breach. Further reading: Bloomberg's spy chip story reveals the murky world of national security reporting.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-an-era department
Rethink Robotics led the way in building robots that could work safely alongside humans. But when it came to selling those robots, Boston-based Rethink came up second best. On Wednesday, without warning, Rethink shut its doors, after a deal to acquire the company fell through. From a report: "We thought that we had a deal that we were going to be able to close," said Rethink chief executive Scott Eckert. But the buyer backed out. Eckert declined to identify the company that had broken off the acquisition. Eckert said Rethink ran low on cash as sales of the company's Baxter and Sawyer robots fell short of expectations. "We got out a little early with a very, very innovative product, and unfortunately did not get the commercial success that we expected to get," he said. Rethink was a pioneer in developing collaborative robots, or "cobots," which are designed to work side-by-side with humans. Their software makes them easy to program, even by workers with no training in robotics, and they come with sensors and software to prevent them from accidentally harming nearby humans.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's naturally-sweetened department
According to a study published in the journal Molecules, researchers found that six common artificial sweeteners approved by the FDA and 10 sport supplements that contained them were found to be toxic to the digestive gut microbes of mice. CNBC reports: Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore tested the toxicity of aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k. They observed that when exposed to only 1 milligram per milliliter of the artificial sweeteners, the bacteria found in the digestive system became toxic. According to the study, the gut microbial system "plays a key role in human metabolism," and artificial sweeteners can "affect host health, such as inducing glucose intolerance." Additionally, some of the effects of the new FDA-approved sweeteners, such as neotame, are still unknown.
However, the study found that mice treated with the artificial sweetener neotame had different metabolic patterns than those not treated, and several important genes found in the human gut had decreased. Additionally, concentrations of several fatty acids, lipids and cholesterol were higher in mice treated with neotame than in those not. Because of the widespread use of artificial sweeteners in drinks and foods, many people consume them without knowing it.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's no-touchy department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Apple has introduced software locks that will effectively prevent independent and third-party repair on 2018 MacBook Pro computers, according to internal Apple documents obtained by Motherboard. The new system will render the computer "inoperative" unless a proprietary Apple "system configuration" software is run after parts of the system are replaced. According to the document, which was distributed to Apple's Authorized Service Providers late last month, this policy will apply to all Apple computers with the "T2" security chip, which is present in 2018 MacBook Pros as well as the iMac Pro. The software lock will kick in for any repair which involves replacing a MacBook Pro's display assembly, logic board, top case (the keyboard, touchpad, and internal housing), and Touch ID board. On iMac Pros, it will kick in if the Logic Board or flash storage are replaced. The computer will only begin functioning again after Apple or a member of one of Apple's Authorized Service Provider repair program runs diagnostic software called Apple Service Toolkit 2.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's smear-campaigns department
Last month when Boeing and SpaceX announced the first astronauts who will fly on their commercial crew spacecraft, several newspapers across the U.S. began publishing an op-ed that criticized the process by which Boeing competitor SpaceX fuels its Falcon 9 rocket. "The first op-ed appeared in a Memphis newspaper a week before the commercial crew announcement," reports Ars Technica. "In recent weeks, copies of the op-ed have also appeared in the Houston Chronicle, various Alabama newspapers, Albuquerque Journal, Florida Today, and The Washington Times." Ars Technica reports: All of these op-eds were bylined by "retired spacecraft operator" Richard Hagar, who worked for NASA during the Apollo program and now lives in Tennessee. (Based upon his limited social media postings, Hagar appears to be more interested in conservative politics than in space these days). Each op-ed cites Hagar's work on NASA's recovery from the Apollo 1 fire and the hard lessons NASA learned that day about human spaceflight. The pieces then pivot to arguing that SpaceX's load-and-go fueling process -- in which the crew will board the Dragon spacecraft on top of the Falcon 9 rocket before it is fueled -- ignores the lessons that Hagar's generation learned during Apollo.
"It's concerning to learn that some of the newer private space ventures launching today don't appreciate the same safety standards we learned to emphasize on Apollo," the op-ed states. "I suppose for Mr. Musk, inexperience is replacing the abundant safety protocols drilled into us after witnessing the Apollo 1 disaster. Astronaut safety is NASA's number one priority on any space mission. There is no reason it should not be for private space travel, but commercial space companies like SpaceX play by different rules."
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's never-forget department
OpenSourceAllTheWay writes: CNN reports on a new font that is purposely designed to more easily help students recall academic materials they read. From the report: "Australian researchers say their new font, called Sans Forgetica, could be the tool to help people retain information. The typeface, which slants to the side and has gaps in the middle, is not easy on the eyes. But according to the team at RMIT University in Australia who conceived Sans Forgetica, it has the perfect combination of 'obstruction' needed to recall information. The multidisciplinary team of typographic design specialists and psychologists said they designed Sans Forgetica using the learning principle called 'desirable difficulty.' The principle means that when obstruction is added to the learning process, people are required to make a little more effort and end up having better memory retention. With normal fonts 'readers often glance over them and no memory trace is created,' RMIT senior lecturer Janneke Blijlevens said in a statement. Conversely, if a font is too difficult, memory is not retained. 'Sans Forgetica lies at a sweet spot where just enough obstruction has been added to create that memory retention,' she said. To get to that sweet spot, the researchers tested various fonts with roughly 400 Australian university students in a laboratory and an online experiment 'where fonts with a range of obstructions were tested to determine which led to the best memory retention,' RMIT said. 'Sans Forgetica broke just enough design principles without becoming too illegible and aided memory retention,' RMIT said."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cheaper-by-the-dozen department
talonyx writes: D-Wave Systems, the contentious but scrappy maker of quantum annealing processors, has launched a cloud-based platform where developers can sign up for free and run problems on their quantum processor unit (QPU). There's an in-depth set of demos, documentation, and an open-source Python SDK to look at. "Leap is the latest addition to the quantum cloud -- services that virtualize quantum computing for almost anyone with a computer and a broadband connection to use," reports IEEE Spectrum. "Leap allows anyone to sign up, giving them one minute of time on a cloud-connected 2000Q each month. That might not sound like much, but a key advantage of quantum computing is to be able to solve in milliseconds problems like factoring large numbers, optimizing routes, or calculating molecular structures that could take traditional computers days or weeks."
"D-Wave estimates that each user's free minute of quantum computing time should be enough to run between 400 and 4,000 jobs each month," the report adds. "If developers want more, the company will charge commercial users $2,000 for one hour of access each month."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's adapting-to-the-times department
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released a report called "Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0," which includes a new set of voluntary guidelines for automated driving systems. According to Engadget, the report "outlines additional safety principles, updates policy and offers guidance to state and local governments." From the report: The report notes that it's meant to be an update to, but not a replacement of, last year's guidance, and it encourages those developing automated driving systems to make public their Voluntary Safety Self-Assessments, which were introduced in last year's report. It also updates the list of best practices for state and local governments considering automated vehicle testing and operation. The agency also takes measures to clarify its policies and roles in regards to autonomous technology implementation. First, it's doing away with the Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds announced last year -- a list of 10 self-driving test sites that were eligible for federal funding. The DOT said that due to the "rapid increase in automated vehicle testing activities in many locations, there is no need for U.S. DOT to favor particular locations."
Additionally, the agency is working on updating language and regulations that it said unintentionally hamper automated vehicle progress. It will adapt its definitions of "driver" and "operator" to reflect that they no longer always refer to humans and can encompass automated systems. The DOT also announced a future notice of proposed rulemaking that will suggest exceptions to certain safety standards that apply only to human drivers -- such as pedals, brakes, mirrors and steering wheels -- for automated systems.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's intentionally-vague-announcements department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Quantum computing represents tremendous promise to completely alter technology as we've known it, allowing operations that weren't previously possible with traditional computing. The downside of these powerful machines is that they could be strong enough to break conventional cryptography schemes. Today, BlackBerry announced a new quantum-resistant code signing service to help battle that possibility. The solution, which will be available next month, is actually the product of a partnership between BlackBerry and Isara Corporation, a company whose mission is to build quantum-safe security solutions. BlackBerry is using Isara's cryptographic libraries to help sign and protect code as security evolves.
"By adding the quantum-resistant code signing server to our cybersecurity tools, we will be able to address a major security concern for industries that rely on assets that will be in use for a long time. If your product, whether it's a car or critical piece of infrastructure, needs to be functional 10-15 years from now, you need to be concerned about quantum computing attacks," Charles Eagan, BlackBerry's chief technology officer, said in a statement. Some of the long-lived assets include aerospace equipment, connected cars, or transportation infrastructure -- basically anything that will still be in use several years from now when quantum computing attacks are expected to emerge.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's far,-far-away department
About 8,000 light-years away, a giant planet circles an aging star, marching once around its sun in a single Earth-year. But that planet, called Kepler 1625b, might not be traveling completely alone. From a report: Scientists now suspect the planet's skies are filled by an orbiting mega-moon, a stunningly large world the size of Neptune that may be the first moon spotted outside our solar system. Early hints of its existence surfaced in July 2017, when scientists tentatively announced that they'd found some evidence of an orbital companion for Kepler 1625b. But it wasn't until the Hubble Space Telescope aimed its eye at the faraway star a year ago that scientists were able to gather enough data to build the case for the so-called exomoon's presence. Now, the two scientists behind the discovery are hoping for independent confirmation of their finding to really shore up the extraordinary claim. "I'm confident that we've done a thorough job vetting this thing, but I also anticipate there will be things other folks come up with that we might not have considered," says Columbia University's Alex Teachey, who reports the purported alien moon this week in the journal Science Advances. "Whether those other ideas are fatal to the moon hypothesis or not, that remains to be seen." For now, MIT's Sara Seager says she's reserving judgment. "Exomoons are one of the key items remaining on exoplanet researchers' wish list," Seager says. "It's exciting to see the hunt for the first exomoon continue ... and with what would be a shockingly large moon, about the size and mass of Neptune."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
An anonymous reader shares a report: For years, the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of radiation, carcinogens, and other toxic chemicals has been based on the cautious scientific reasoning that considers even slight exposure to toxins potentially risky to public health. From that premise, the EPA has assessed a wide range of pollution, including lung-clogging particulate matter, Superfund cleanup, water treatment, radiation exposure, and risk assessments for carcinogens like benzene. That time-honored approach may be changing because of easy-to-overlook phrasing within a paragraph buried in the proposed "Strengthening Transparency In Regulatory Science Rule," a regulation that will bar the EPA from considering a wide range of scientific studies in its rule-making. With a few sentences buried in the seven-page Federal Register text, the EPA is opening the door to a new scientific approach that -- in a worst-case scenario -- could further relax regulations because of the assumption that a little pollution is actually beneficial. Some scientists have considered the implications of this paragraph and described a whole array of potential problems to Mother Jones. Because the paragraph is written in incredibly vague language, most scientists were unable to explain which pollutants or regulations were the prime targets.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
XxtraLarGe shares a report: Wind power is booming in the United States. It's expanded 35-fold since 2000 and now provides 8% of the nation's electricity. The US Department of Energy expects wind turbine capacity to more than quadruple again by 2050. But a new study by a pair of Harvard researchers finds that a high amount of wind power could mean more climate warming, at least regionally and in the immediate decades ahead. The paper raises serious questions about just how much the United States or other nations should look to wind power to clean up electricity systems. The study, published in the journal Joule, found that if wind power supplied all US electricity demands, it would warm the surface of the continental United States by 0.24 C. That could significantly exceed the reduction in US warming achieved by decarbonizing the nation's electricity sector this century, which would be around 0.1 C. "If your perspective is the next 10 years, wind power actually has -- in some respects -- more climate impact than coal or gas," coauthor David Keith, a professor of applied physics and public policy at Harvard, said in a statement. "If your perspective is the next thousand years, then wind power is enormously cleaner than coal or gas."Read Replies (0)