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Should The US Government Break Up Google, Twitter, and Facebook?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 22 '18 at 01:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's game-of-monopolies department:
The Bay Area Newsgroup reports:
Political momentum for a crackdown on Silicon Valley's social media giants got a boost this week when a state attorney general said he would tell U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions next week that Google, Facebook and Twitter should be broken up. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry wants the federal government to do to the social media firms what it did to Standard Oil in 1911, according to a Louisiana newspaper report Tuesday... "This can't be fixed legislatively," Landry told the paper. "We need to go to court with an antitrust suit." He or another high official from his office will next week present the break-up proposal to Sessions... Landry, president of the National Association of Attorneys General, had spent months with his colleagues probing what they described as anti-competitive practices by Facebook, Google and Twitter, according to the paper.
CNET reports:
On Friday, Bloomberg reported it had obtained a draft of a potential White House executive order that asks certain government agencies to recommend actions that would "protect competition among online platforms and address online platform bias." The order, reportedly in its preliminary stages, asks US antitrust authorities to "thoroughly investigate whether any online platform has acted in violation of the antitrust laws."

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Cody Wilson, 3D-Printed Gun Pioneer, Arrested In Taiwan
Posted by News Fetcher on September 22 '18 at 12:22 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's going-ballastic department:
Cody Wilson, maker of the first 3D-printed plastic gun, has been arrested in Taiwan. Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike quotes Reason:

Earlier this week, Texas police issued a warrant for his arrest. Wilson, they claimed, found a woman on sugardaddymeet.com, a website that requires all users to assert they are 18 or over, then met her and paid for sex with her. Police say the woman was actually 16, which made that act a violation of Texas penal code 22.011 (A)(2)(a), regarding sex with a minor, which is legally considered sexual assault regardless of consent or payment.
While Taiwan has no formal extradition treaty with the U.S., and Wilson was not said to have been doing anything directly criminal in Taiwan, the press there reports that he was arrested without incident because the U.S. had revoked his passport, making his mere presence in Taiwan illegal. (The U.S. government has the power to revoke the passports of people facing felony arrest warrants.) Wilson was then, according to The New York Times, "delivered...to the National Immigration Agency" in Taiwan. It is expected to deport him to the U.S. to face those charges, which carry a potential 2 to 20 years in prison and $10,000 fine.
A reporter for Ars Technica visited Wilson's home weapons printing company, and was told that "A management restructuring is coming." But they also contacted Adam Bhala Lough, who directed and wrote a documentary film about Wilson. Prior to Wilson's arrest, Lough argued that "Without Cody, it can't last. It's like Tesla and Elon Musk, you can't separate the two.
< article continued at Slashdot's going-ballastic department >

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Space Junk Successfully Captured In Orbit For the First Time (with Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on September 22 '18 at 11:02 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's falling-from-the-sky department:
"The Surrey Space Center successfully used a net to capture a piece of artificial space junk in orbit for the first time in history on Sunday," writes Slashdot reader dmoberhaus. "The video was just released Wednesday and is quite stunning."

"Not only does the net look cool as hell, it's addressing a major problem for the future of space exploration," reports Motherboard:

The test was carried about by the RemoveDEBRIS satellite, an experimental space debris removal platform built by an international consortium of space companies and university research centers. There are tens of thousands of pieces of fast-moving space junk in orbit, which range from the centimeter-scale all the way to entire rocket stages. Some of these pieces are moving faster than a bullet and all of them pose a serious danger to other satellites and crewed capsules... Removing this junk from orbit is particularly challenging because of the various sizes of the debris, its erratic tumbling motion, and the fact that some pieces are moving as fast as 30,000 miles per hour.

The successful experiment follows six years of Earth-based testing, according to a professor at the lead research institution, the Surrey Space Centre.
"While it might sound like a simple idea, the complexity of using a net in space to capture a piece of debris took many years of planning, engineering and coordination."

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Purism Launches First Security Key with Tamper-Evident Protection for Laptops
Posted by News Fetcher on September 22 '18 at 09:42 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's something-you-have department:
An anonymous reader quotes Softpedia:

Purism announced Thursday that its highly anticipated Librem Key security key is now available for purchase as the first and only OpenPGP-based smart card to offer a Heads-firmware-integrated tamper-evident boot process for laptops. Developed in partnership with Nitrokey, a company known for manufacturing open-source USB keys that enable secure encryption and signing of data for laptops, Purism's Librem Key is dedicated to Librem laptop users, allowing them to store up to 4096-bit RSA keys and up to 512-bit ECC keys on the security key, as well as to securely generate new keys directly on the device. Librem Key integrates with the secure boot process of the latest Librem 13 and 15 laptops...
Designed to let Librem laptop users see if someone has tampered with the software on their computers when it boots, Librem Key leverages the Heads-enabled TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip in new Librem 13 and Librem 15 laptops. According to Purism, when inserted, the security key will blink green to show users that the laptop hasn't been tampered with, so they can continue from where they left off, and blinks red when tampering has occurred.

Purism's web site explains:

With so many attacks on password logins, most security experts these days recommend adding a second form of authentication (often referred to as "2FA" or "multi-factor authentication") in addition to your password so that if your password gets compromised the attacker still has to compromise your second factor.

USB security tokens work well as this second factor because they are "something you have" instead of "something you know" like a password is, and because they are portable enough you can just keep them in your pocket, purse, or keychain and use them only when you need to login to a secure site.

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Did John Deere Just Swindle California's Farmers Out of Their Right to Repair?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 22 '18 at 09:42 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's old-MacDonald-had-a-sham department:
An anonymous reader quotes a new Wired opinion piece by Kyle Wiens and Elizabeth Chamberlain from iFixit:
A big California farmers' lobbying group just blithely signed away farmers' right to access or modify the source code of any farm equipment software. As an organization representing 2.5 million California agriculture jobs, the California Farm Bureau gave up the right to purchase repair parts without going through a dealer. Farmers can't change engine settings, can't retrofit old equipment with new features, and can't modify their tractors to meet new environmental standards on their own. Worse, the lobbyists are calling it a victory.... John Deere and friends had already made every single "concession" earlier this year...

Just after the California bill was introduced, the farm equipment manufacturers started circulating a flyer titled "Manufacturers and Dealers Support Commonsense Repair Solutions." In that document, they promised to provide manuals, guides, and other information by model year 2021. But the flyer insisted upon a distinction between a right to repair a vehicle and a right to modify software, a distinction that gets murky when software controls all of a tractor's operations. As Jason Koebler of Motherboard reported, that flyer is strikingly similar -- in some cases, identical word-for-word -- to the agreement the Farm Bureau just brokered...

Instead of presenting a unified right-to-repair front, this milquetoast agreement muddies the conversation. More worryingly, it could cement a cultural precedent for electronics manufacturers who want to block third-party repair technicians from accessing a device's software.

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New Custom Linux Distro is Systemd-Free, Debian-Based, and Optimized for Windows 10
Posted by News Fetcher on September 22 '18 at 08:21 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Windows-shopping-at-the-Microsoft-Store department:
An anonymous reader quotes MSPowerUser:
Nearly every Linux distro is already available in the Microsoft Store, allowing developers to use Linux scripting and other tools running on the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). Now another distro has popped up in the Store, and unlike the others it claims to be specifically optimised for WSL, meaning a smaller and more appropriate package with sane defaults which helps developers get up and running faster.

WLinux is based on Debian, and the developer, Whitewater Foundry, claims their custom distro will also allow faster patching of security and compatibility issues that appear from time to time between upstream distros and WSL... Popular development tools, including git and python3, are pre-installed. Additional packages can be easily installed via the apt package management system... A handful of unnecessary packages, such as systemd, have been removed to improve stability and security.

The distro also offers out of the box support for GUI apps with your choice of X client, according to the original submission.

WLinux is open source under the MIT license, and is available for free on GitHub. It can also be downloaded from Microsoft Store at a 50% discount, with the development company promising the revenue will be invested back into new features.

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Mystery Solved: FBI Closed New Mexico Observatory to Investigate Child Porn
Posted by News Fetcher on September 22 '18 at 07:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's aliens-unharmed department:
"The mysterious 11-day closure of a New Mexico solar observatory stemmed from an FBI investigation of a janitor suspected of using the facility's wireless internet service to send and receive child pornography, federal court documents showed..."

An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post:
In July, FBI agents investigating child sexual exploitation traced the location of several IP addresses linked to child pornography activity to the observatory, according to a 39-page search warrant application. During an interview with federal authorities on Aug. 21, the facility's chief observer said he had found, on a number of occasions, the same laptop hidden and running in various seldom-used offices around the observatory. He described the contents of the laptop as "not good," according to court documents. A federal agent immediately went to the observatory, located deep within Lincoln National Forest, and took the laptop into evidence...
Aside from continuing to "feverishly" search the facility, the documents state that the janitor said, "it was only a matter of time before the facility 'got hit,'" and that he "believed there was a serial killer in the area, and that he was fearful that the killer might enter the facility and execute someone." In response to the janitor's behavior, the management of the observatory, without input from the FBI, shut it down and evacuated its personnel. The facility's cleaning contract with the janitor's parents was also terminated.
The warrant application specified that the janitor "has a key to the building and unlimited access to the building, and is familiar with which offices are used only a handful of times a year."
It also says that the janitor was the only person in the facility at the time of the alleged downloads.

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'Bombe' Replica Code-Breaking WW2 Computer Was Used To Decipher Message Scrambled By An Enigma Machine
Posted by News Fetcher on September 22 '18 at 05:40 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's taste-of-the-past department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Computer historians have staged a re-enactment of World War Two code-cracking at Bletchley Park. A replica code-breaking computer called a Bombe was used to decipher a message scrambled by an Enigma machine. Held at the National Museum of Computing (TNMOC), the event honored Polish help with wartime code-cracking. Enigma machines were used extensively by the German army and navy during World War Two. This prompted a massive effort by the Allies to crack the complex method they employed to scramble messages. That effort was co-ordinated via Bletchley Park and resulted in the creation of the Bombe, said Paul Kellar who helps to keep a replica machine running at the museum. Renowned mathematician Alan Turing was instrumental in the creation of the original Bombe.

For its re-enactment, TNMOC recruited a team of 12 and used a replica Bombe that, until recently, had been on display at the Bletchley Park museum next door. The electro-mechanical Bombe was designed to discover which settings the German Enigma operators used to scramble their messages. As with World War Two messages, the TNMOC team began with a hint or educated guess about the content of the message, known as a "crib," which was used to set up the Bombe. The machine then cranked through the millions of possible combinations until it came to a "good stop," said Mr Kellar. This indicated that the Bombe had found key portions of the settings used to turn readable German into gobbledygook. After that, said Mr Kellar, it was just a matter of time before the 12-strong team cracked the message.

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Streaming Accounts For 75 Percent of Music Industry Revenue In the US
Posted by News Fetcher on September 22 '18 at 03:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sign-of-the-times department:
Mallory Locklear reporting via Engadget: The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has released music industry revenue statistics for the first half of 2018 in the U.S., and on average, revenue growth has slowed. While overall revenue was up 10 percent compared to the same time last year, clocking in at $4.6 billion, that rate is only around half of the increase observed between the first halves of 2016 and 2017. Streaming revenue growth slowed as well, though it was still up 28 percent compared to last year. Notably, streaming accounted for the vast majority of revenue so far this year, with 75 percent of overall revenue coming from streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal.

The numbers also show that more people continue to join paid subscription services, with subscription rates growing by about one million per month. But while streaming revenue is still on an upward trend, the news isn't so good for digital downloads and CD sales. Digital downloads have only made up 12 percent of overall revenue so far this year, down from 19 percent last year, and CD sales saw a whopping 41 percent drop in revenue. To compare, during the same time last year, CD sales were only down three percent from the year before. Vinyl revenue, however, is up 13 percent.

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Japan Has Attempted To Land Two Tiny Rovers On a Distant Asteroid
Posted by News Fetcher on September 22 '18 at 12:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's suspense-is-killing-me department:
On Friday, Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft attempted to deploy two miniature rovers on an asteroid that it's been orbiting since mid-August. Ars Technica reports: Each weighed only about a kilogram, and after separating from the main spacecraft they approached the asteroid named Ryugu. Japanese mission scientists think the rovers touched down successfully, but are not completely sure. Communication with the two landers stopped near the moment of touchdown. This is presumably because Ryugu's rotation took the rovers out of view from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft, but scientists won't know for sure until later Friday (or Saturday morning, in Japan) when they attempt to download images from the rovers. And thus we are left with a suspenseful situation.

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Massive Undersea Walls Could Stop Glaciers From Melting, Scientists Say
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 08:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's could-this-happen department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Building walls on the seafloor could prevent glaciers from melting and sea levels rising due to global warming, scientists say. Barriers of sand and rock positioned at the base of glaciers would stop ice sheets sliding and collapsing, and prevent warm water from eroding the ice from beneath, according to research published this week in the Cryosphere journal, from the European Geosciences Union. The audacious idea centers on the construction of "extremely simple structures, merely piles of aggregate on the ocean floor, although more advanced structures could certainly be explored in the future," said the report's authors, Michael Wolovick, a researcher at the department of geosciences at Princeton University, and John Moore, professor of climate change at the University of Lapland in Finland.

Using computer models to gauge the probable impact of walls on erosion of the Thwaites glacier in Antarctica, one of the world's largest, Wolovick and Moore hoped to test the efficiency of "a locally targeted intervention." They claimed the simplest designs would allow direct comparison with existing engineering projects. "The easiest design that we considered would be comparable to the largest civil engineering projects that humanity has ever attempted," they said. "An ice sheet intervention today would be at the edge of human capabilities." For example, building four isolated walls would require between 0.1 and 1.5 cubic km of material. "That is comparable to the 0.1 km3 that was used to create Palm Jumeirah in Dubai ($12 billion)...(and) the 0.3 km3 that was used to create Hong Kong International Airport ($20 billion)," the report said. The authors say there's only a 30% probability of success due to the harsh environment, but did mention that the scientific community could work on a plan that was both achievable and had a high probability of success.

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Southern California Sees Its Longest Streak of Bad Air In Decades
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 07:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hold-your-breath department:
According to state monitoring data, Southern California violated federal smog standards for 87 consecutive days -- the longest stretch of bad air in at least 20 years. "The streak is the latest sign that Souther California's battle against smog is faltering after decades of dramatic improvement," reports San Francisco Chronicle. From the report: The ozone pollution spell began June 19 and continued through July and August, with every day exceeding the federal health standard of 70 parts per billion somewhere across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. It didn't relent until Sept. 14, when air pollution dipped to "moderate" levels within federal limits for ozone, the lung-damaging gas in smog that triggers asthma and other respiratory illnesses. It's not unusual for Southern California summers to go weeks without a break in the smog, especially in inland communities that have long suffered the nation's worst ozone levels. But environmentalists and health experts say the persistence of dirty air this year is a troubling sign that demands action. Regulators blame the dip in air quality in recent years on hotter weather and stronger, more persistent inversion layers that trap smog near the ground.

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Amazon Is Making It Easier To Set Up New IoT Gadgets
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 05:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's frustration-free department:
At an event yesterday where the company unveiled a range of new Echo smart speakers and other Alexa-enabled devices, the company announced a new way to easily set up internet of things (IoT) devices. The Verge reports: Called Wi-Fi Simple Setup, the system will use Amazon's Wi-Fi Lockers to store your Wi-Fi credentials and share them with compatible smart home devices. Amazon is debuting this tech with TP-Link and Eero, with the idea that customers can reuse network credentials in order to set up new devices. This means devices will connect on their own instead of you having to manually set up each smart product. According to Amazon, it's as easy as plugging in a Wi-Fi Simple Setup-enabled device. The device will automatically look for the Wi-Fi Simple Setup Network and connect once it receives encrypted credentials. Amazon says the process should take no longer than 30 seconds. The ecommerce company also announced a "plug-and-play smart home kit called Alexa Connect Kit. "It starts with a module that has Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi and a real-time OS that companies can put in their products in order to make them smart," reports The Verge.

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Romanian Ransomware Suspect Pleads Guilty To Hacking CCTVs In Washington DC
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 05:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's jig-is-up department:
gosand writes: "A Romanian woman [named Eveline Cismaru] has admitted running a ransomware operation from infected Washington DC's CCTV systems just days before President Trump was sworn into office in the U.S. capital," The Register reports. The U.S. Department of Justice stated: "This case was of the highest priority due to its impact on the Secret Service's protective mission and its potential effect on the security plan for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration." She could face a max of 25 years if convicted. She and her cohort (who is still jailed in Romania) made the classic hacker mistake of using their personal Gmail accounts for the campaign, even accessing them from one of the compromised PCs. Cismaru hacked "into 123 of the 187 high-tech CCTV cameras dotted around the city," reports The Register. "The hijacked devices, used by DC's Metropolitan Police Department, then spammed up to 180,000 email addresses with ransomware-laden messages."

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FCC Angers Cities, Towns With $2 Billion Giveaway To Wireless Carriers
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 04:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pitchforks-and-torches department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Federal Communications Commission's plan for spurring 5G wireless deployment will prevent city and town governments from charging carriers about $2 billion worth of fees. The FCC proposal, to be voted on at its meeting on September 26, limits the amount that local governments may charge carriers for placing 5G equipment such as small cells on poles, traffic lights, and other government property in public rights-of-way. The proposal, which is supported by the FCC's Republican majority, would also force cities and towns to act on carrier applications within 60 or 90 days. The FCC says this will spur more deployment of small cells, which "have antennas often no larger than a small backpack." But the commission's proposal doesn't require carriers to build in areas where they wouldn't have done so anyway.

< article continued at Slashdot's pitchforks-and-torches department >

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iPhone XS Teardown Shows Few Changes Aside From the Battery
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 04:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-what's-on-the-inside-that-counts department:
iFixit tore apart Apple's iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, revealing very similar insides to last year's iPhone X. Engadget reports the findings: One of the most interesting features is the battery on the XS. The iPhone XS sports a slightly downgraded battery from the iPhone X, a 10.13 Wh battery (2,659 mAh at 3.81 V) versus 10.35 Wh (2716 mAh at 3.81 V). But a new configuration might more than make up for it: Apple is using a brand-new L-shaped single-cell battery instead of two separate batteries. However, the XS Max still sports two batteries. Some other tweaks include a new, Apple-branded power management chip and a new antenna line on the bottom of the phone. The camera bump is also slightly taller, meaning your iPhone X case might not fit on your XS, if you plan on upgrading. The Verge also notes that "there's no evidence that the teardown team could find of any improved water or dust resistance, despite the improved IP68 ratings on the iPhone XS and XS Max."

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Telltale Games Hit With Major Layoffs As Part of a 'Majority Studio Closure'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 03:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's downward-spiral department:
Telltale Games, the video game developer behind The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Batman: The Enemy Within, laid off a large number of its staff today. According to The Verge, "the company will retain a small team of 25." From the report: "Today Telltale Games made the difficult decision to begin a majority studio closure following a year marked by insurmountable challenges," the company said in a statement. "A majority of the company's employees were dismissed earlier this morning." The remaining employees will stay on "to fulfill the company's obligations to its board and partners," according to Telltale. Staff were informed of the layoffs today and were given roughly 30 minutes to leave the building, according to one source.

Telltale had previously announced a second season of The Wolf Among Us and a game based off of Netflix's wildly popular show Stranger Things. The company has not yet commented on the status of those projects, though the outcome seems dire. On Twitter, one former lead writer wrote, "I'm so sad we won't be able to show you all Wolf." The layoffs come a few months after revelations that Telltale was a studio mired in toxic management that included employees being subjected to constant overwork. Once an industry darling that worked on iconic brands like Game of Thrones and Minecraft, Telltale quickly spiraled.

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Google Employees Discussed Tweaking Search Results To Counter Trump's Travel Ban
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 03:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's information-era department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Days after the Trump administration instituted a controversial travel ban in January 2017, Google employees discussed how they could tweak the company's search-related functions (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source) to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies, according to internal company emails. The email traffic, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, shows that employees proposed ways to "leverage" search functions and take steps to counter what they considered to be "islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms 'Islam', 'Muslim', 'Iran', etc." and "prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms `Mexico', `Hispanic', `Latino', etc." The email chain, while sprinkled with cautionary notes about engaging in political activity, suggests employees considered ways to harness the company's vast influence on the internet in response to the travel ban. Google said none of the ideas discussed were implemented. "These emails were just a brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented," a company spokeswoman said in a statement. "Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology -- not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump's executive order on immigration. Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies."

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Divers Are Attempting To Regrow Great Barrier Reef With Electricity
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 01:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's worth-a-try department:
A trial is underway to restore damaged coral on the Great Barrier Reef using electricity. From a report: The reef has been severely assaulted in recent years by cyclones and back-to-back heatwaves. Nathan Cook at conservation group Reef Ecologic and his colleagues are attempting to regrow surviving coral fragments on steel frames. The frames are placed on damaged parts of the reef and stimulated with electricity to accelerate the coral's growth. Electrified metal frames have previously been used to encourage coral growth on reefs in South-East Asia, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. They have been shown to attract mineral deposits that help corals grow 3 to 4 times faster than normal. The technique is being trialed at a section of the reef 100 kilometres north of Cairns that was badly affected by the 2016 and 2017 mass coral bleaching events. Some coral is starting to grow back naturally, but it will take at least a decade for even the fastest-growing species to fully recover.

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Huawei Trolls Apple By Giving Battery Packs To People Waiting in Line For the iPhone XS
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 01:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's child-games department:
Huawei, which recently surpassed Apple to become the world's second largest smartphone player, can't stop taking shots at the iPhone maker. From a report: After the iPhone XS was unveiled with little new, Huawei tweeted "Thank you for letting us be the real hero of the year," a tease for their upcoming Mate 20 Pro unveiling next month. Now Huawei's taking another shot -- by handing out battery packs to people waiting in line for the iPhone XS and XS Max in Singapore. The packaging says "You'll need it", which is actually a valid boast: Anandtech found that Huawei's P20 and P20 Pro had better battery life than the iPhone 8 and X.

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