By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Data center equipment 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, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported Thursday, citing 17 people at Apple, Amazon, and U.S. government security officials, among others. The compromised chips in question came from a server company called Supermicro that assembled machines used in the centers, the report added. The scrutiny of these chips, which were used for gathering intellectual property and trade secrets from American companies, have also been the subject of an ongoing top secret U.S. government investigation, which started in 2015, the news outlet reported. Amazon, which runs AWS, Apple, and Supermicro have disputed summaries of Bloomberg BusinessWeek's reporting. The report states that Amazon became aware of a Supermicro's tiny microchip nested on the server motherboards of Elemental Technologies, a Portland, Oregon based company, as part of a due diligence ahead of acquiring the company in 2015. Amazon acquired Elemental as it prepared to use its technologies for what is now known as Prime Video, its video streaming service. The report adds that Amazon informed the FBI of its findings. From the report: One official says investigators found that it eventually affected almost 30 companies, including a major bank, government contractors, and the world's most valuable company, Apple. Apple was an important Supermicro customer and had planned to order more than 30,000 of its servers in two years for a new global network of data centers. Three senior insiders at Apple say that in the summer of 2015, it, too, found malicious chips on Supermicro motherboards. Apple severed ties with Supermicro the following year, for what it described as unrelated reasons. [...] A U.S. official says the governmentâ(TM)s probe is still examining whether spies were planted inside Supermicro or other American companies to aid the attack. Some background on Supermicro, courtesy of Bloomberg: Today, Supermicro sells more server motherboards than almost anyone else. It also dominates the $1 billion market for boards used in special-purpose computers, from MRI machines to weapons systems. Its motherboards can be found in made-to-order server setups at banks, hedge funds, cloud computing providers, and web-hosting services, among other places. Supermicro has assembly facilities in California, the Netherlands, and Taiwan, but its motherboards -- its core product -- are nearly all manufactured by contractors in China. The company's pitch to customers hinges on unmatched customization, made possible by hundreds of full-time engineers and a catalog encompassing more than 600 designs.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's and-I-would've-gotten-away-with-it-too-if-it-weren't-for-you-meddling-wearables department
By BeauHD from Slashdot's coming-soon-to-a-moon-base-near-you department
Lockheed Martin revealed its concept for a reusable, single-stage spaceship capable of ferrying four astronauts between lunar orbit and the surface of moon. Lockheed's craft weighs roughly five times more than the lunar lander NASA used during the Apollo program. When it's fully fueled, it will weigh 68 tons (62 metric tons). Space.com reports: The Lockheed lander would use as its home base the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a small space station that NASA aims to start building near the moon in 2022. The lander would depart from the Gateway, taking astronauts and up to 1.1 tons (1 metric tons) of cargo down to the lunar surface, according to a newly published Lockheed white paper. The craft (and crew) could stay on the surface for up to two weeks, then launch back to the Gateway without the need to refuel. (The lander would be refueled between missions -- eventually, perhaps, with propellant derived from water ice extracted from the moon or asteroids.)
Lockheed's proposed lander could be up and running by the late 2020s, in keeping with the timeline NASA has targeted for getting boots back on the moon, said Rob Chambers, Lockheed Martin Space's director of human spaceflight strategy and business development. The lander would also launch atop the SLS, at least for the foreseeable future, he told Space.com.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's making-progress department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Australia is set to be the first country to eliminate cervical cancer, aided by its national vaccination and screening programs, says a new study. The country is on track to meet the threshold of four or less new cases per 100,000 women each year, effectively eliminating the cancer by 2028, finds the new study published Wednesday. The cancer could be classified as "rare" as early as 2022, meeting a threshold of six new cases per 100,000 and deaths due to the diseases are expected to decline to one new case per 100,000 women by 2034. But this is all contingent on Australia's high vaccination coverage and screening being maintained, write the study authors.
An estimated 99.7% of cervical cancer cases are caused by infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a group of viruses that spread though sexual intercourse and skin-to-skin contact around the genitals. In their new study, the researchers at Cancer Council NSW modeled data on HPV vaccination, natural history of the disease, and cervical screening to estimate the age-incidence of cervical cancer in Australia from 2015 to 2100. Currently, Australia reports seven cases of cervical cancer per 100,000 women, according to the study. As well as eliminating the disease within 20 years, the data showed that the annual incidence of cervical cancer will decrease and remain at fewer than one case per 100,000 women if screening for HPV every five years continues and as long as people have been offered the vaccine.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's automated-living department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: Iron Ox isn't like most robotics companies. Instead of trying to flog you its technology, it wants to sell you food. As the firm's cofounder Brandon Alexander puts it: "We are a farm and will always be a farm." But it's no ordinary farm. For starters, the company's 15 human employees share their work space with robots who quietly go about the business of tending rows and rows of leafy greens. Today Iron Ox is opening its first production facility in San Carlos, near San Francisco. The 8,000-square-foot indoor hydroponic facility -- which is attached to the startup's offices -- will be producing leafy greens at a rate of roughly 26,000 heads a year. That's the production level of a typical outdoor farm that might be five times bigger. The opening is the next big step toward fulfilling the company's grand vision: a fully autonomous farm where software and robotics fill the place of human agricultural workers, which are currently in short supply. Iron Ox uses software, dubbed "The Brain," to watch over the farm and monitor nitrogen levels, temperature, and robot location. Alexander hopes to automative every process of the farm, but human workers are currently needed to help with seeding and processing the crops. He cites the shortage of agricultural workers and the distances that fresh product currently has to be shipped for reasons why we need automated farming.
"The problem with the indoor [farm] is the initial investment in the system," says Yiannis Ampatzidis, an assistant professor of agricultural engineering at the University of Florida. "You have to invest a lot up front. A lot of small growers can't do that." Currently, Iron Ox is sending the food it produces to a local food bank and to the company salad bar.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department
Not everyone is pleased to hear that President Trump has the power to use communications systems in case of an emergency. According to CNET, three New York residents recently filed a lawsuit against President Trump and William Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to halt FEMA's new Presidential Alert messaging system.
The lawsuit reads in part: "Plaintiffs are American citizens who do not wish to receive text messages, or messages of any kind, on any topic or subject, from defendant Trump. [Trump's] rise to power was facilitated by weaponized disinformation that he broadcast into the public information sphere via Twitter in addition to traditional mass media." From the report: Presidential Alerts are similar to Amber or other emergency alerts on your phone -- you hear a loud noise comes along with vibration. The messages come from the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), which attempts to send the alert to every cell phone within the U.S. operating on a network run by a carrier opting into the Wireless Emergency Alert system. IPAWS is used in the event of natural disasters, acts of terrorism or other disasters or threats to public safety. The plaintiffs' main complaint is that Presidential Alerts are compulsory -- there's no way to opt-out of receiving them. They argue that under civil rights law, government cannot use cellular devices to compel listening, "trespass into and hijack" devices without a warrant or individual consent.
The plaintiffs are also concerned Trump might use the alerts to spread disinformation because IPAWS doesn't regulate the content of the messages. That means Trump may be free to define "act of terrorism" and "threat to public safety," and may broadcast "arbitrary, biased, irrational" messages to "hundreds of millions of people," the plaintiffs say in the lawsuit.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department
While LG technically announced the LG V40 ThinQ last week in Korea, it left many surprises for its October 3rd event in the U.S. We have now learned that the company's new flagship sports a total of five cameras, a 6.4-inch display, headphone jack with hi-fi Quad DAC, and Snapdragon 845 processor with 6GB of RAM. The Verge reports: [T]he V40 has a very premium price and will range between $900 and $980 from US carriers when it's released on October 18th in black or blue color options. The 6.4-inch, notched OLED panel doesn't have the same "super bright" mode you can find on the G7, with brightness topping out between 500 and 600 nits. But LG says the phone is noticeably lighter -- more than an ounce -- than both the Note and XS Max. The new three-camera setup on the back of the V40 offers a lot of versatility. It includes:
- Standard f/1.5 12-megapixel camera with 1.4um pixels that are 40 percent larger than the G7. Remember that bigger pixels are a key reason for the improved camera performance in the iPhone XS, so hopefully LG fans will see a similar uptick in quality over the G7.
- Super-wide-angle f/1.9 16MP camera with 107-degree field of view. Identical to G7.
- 12MP f/2.4 telephoto/portrait camera, which basically amounts to a 2x optical zoom compared to the regular lens. LG has added new lighting effects such as "natural, studio, contour, stage, stage mono."
< article continued at Slashdot's new-and-improved department
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's question-and-answer department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime appeared at Seattle's Geekwire Summit on Wednesday to speak broadly about the company's future, and, while the talk didn't include new product reveals, it proved illuminating about what to expect from the big N in the future. The short version: Nintendo would rather be defined as an "entertainment" company, not a gaming one. Fils-Aime says the company currently has three "pieces of business": a dedicated video game business ("the way most of our consumers interact with us"), a mobile gaming business, and "leveraging our intellectual property (IP) in a variety of ways." The latter includes previously announced plans for a Universal Studios attraction in Osaka, Japan (still slated to open ahead of Tokyo's next Olympics hosting run in 2020) and a Super Mario film produced by Illumination Entertainment (Minions, Despicable Me). When asked about Nintendo's future focus on a company-wide level, Fils-Aime said: "It's about Mario, Zelda, Pokemon -- all these wonderful intellectual properties. How we leverage these across a variety of entertainment platforms is how we're looking to grow the company." He went on to say that he doesn't see Xbox and PlayStation as competitors. Ars reports: "He counted the exact number of minutes per day and said that outside of the time a consumer spends eating, sleeping, working, and going to school, 'all of the rest of that time is entertainment time. That's what I compete for, minute by minute. That time you spend surfing the Web, watching a movie, watching a telecast of a conference: that's all entertainment time we're competing for. My competitive set is much bigger than my direct competitors in Sony and Microsoft. I compete for time. When I do that, I have to be creative and innovative in order to win that battle.'"Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's breaking-news department
Verizon Communications is offering buyout packages to as many as 44,000 management employees as part of a cost-cutting drive, potentially eliminating more than a fourth of its workforce. From a report: The offer, which excludes executives in sales or crucial company roles, is part of a four-year, $10 billion cost-reduction program that Chairman Lowell McAdam put in place last year. A Verizon spokesman declined to say how many of the 44,000 managers are expected to take the offer and leave the company. Update: The Wall Street Journal adds: Verizon notified many information technology employees that they were being transferred to Indian outsourcing giant Infosys as part of a $700 million outsourcing agreement. The pool of employees who either received the severance offer or are affected by the Infosys deal amounts to about 30% of the 153,100 employees that Verizon had globally at the end of June. "Strategically we are going to invest more in transforming the business versus running the business," materials detailing the outsourcing agreement said. As part of that pact, Verizon is transferring about 2,500 employees in the U.S. and overseas to Infosys. Those employees aren't eligible for severance payments and won't receive their 2018 bonus if they are offered a job at Infosys and don't accept it, according to materials given to the employees.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have recommended that psilocybin, the active compound in hallucinogenic mushrooms, be reclassified for medical use, potentially paving the way for the psychedelic drug to one day treat depression and anxiety and help people stop smoking. The New York Times: The suggestion to reclassify psilocybin from a Schedule I drug, with no known medical benefit, to a Schedule IV drug, which is akin to prescription sleeping pills, was part of a review to assess the safety and abuse of medically administered psilocybin [Editor's note: the story may be paywalled; alternative source]. Before the Food and Drug Administration can be petitioned to reclassify the drug, though, it has to clear extensive study and trials, which can take more than five years, the researchers wrote. The analysis was published in the October print issue of Neuropharmacology, a medical journal focused on neuroscience. The study comes as many Americans shift their attitudes toward the use of some illegal drugs. The widespread legalization of marijuana has helped demystify drug use, with many people now recognizing the medicinal benefits for those with anxiety, arthritis and other physical ailments. Psychedelics, like LSD and psilocybin, are illegal and not approved for medical or recreational use. But in recent years scientists and consumers have begun rethinking their use to combat depression and anxiety.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's RIP department
Leon Lederman, whose ingenious experiments with particle accelerators deepened science's understanding of the subatomic world, died early Wednesday in Rexburg, Idaho. He was 96. From a report: His wife, Ellen Carr Lederman, confirmed the death, at a care facility. She and Dr. Lederman, who had long directed the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside Chicago, had retired to eastern Idaho. Early in his career Dr. Lederman and two colleagues demonstrated that there are at least two kinds of particles called neutrinos (there are now known to be three), a discovery that was honored in 1988 with a Nobel Prize in Physics. He went on to lead a team at the Fermi laboratory, in Batavia, Ill., that found the bottom quark, another fundamental constituent of matter. For those baffled by such esoterica, Dr. Lederman was quick to sympathize. "'The Two Neutrinos' sounds like an Italian dance team," he remarked in his Nobel banquet speech. But he was determined to spread the word about the importance of the science he loved: "How can we have our colleagues in chemistry, medicine, and especially in literature share with us, not the cleverness of our research, but the beauty of the intellectual edifice, of which our experiment is but one brick?"Read Replies (0)