By EditorDavid from Slashdot's dying-young department
Long-time Slashdot reader Okian Warrior quotes Live Science:
The CEO of a biomedical startup who sparked controversy when he injected himself with an untested herpes treatment in front of a live audience in February has died, according to an email sent to Live Science. Aaron Traywick, the CEO of Ascendance Biomedical, was found dead at 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday (April 29) in a spa room in Washington, D.C., according to a statement provided to Live Science by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) of the District of Columbia. Traywick was 28 years old. According to the website News2Share.com, Traywick was found in a flotation tank. Flotation tanks are soundproof pods filled with body-temperature saltwater that are used to promote "sensory deprivation."
Vice News reports that Traywick had "lost touch" with co-workers at his company more than four weeks ago, adding that "Disagreements over the company's direction and philosophical differences over how to best distribute its creations split the small startup."
MIT Technology Review reports that Traywick, "who had no formal medical training, was also planning to test an experimental lung cancer treatment that supposedly involved the gene-editing tool CRISPR. The therapy was to be offered at a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, just a few miles over the U.S. border... An employee at the Tijuana clinic, International BioCare Hospital & Wellness Center, confirmed in a phone interview that doctors there were working with Traywick to set up the trial but won't be moving forward with it after his death...
"In December, the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy issued a statement warning patients about unregulated gene therapies, saying such procedures are potentially dangerous and unlikely to provide any benefit."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's we-the-people department
Supporters gathered 625,000 signatures to put the "California Consumer Privacy Act" on the ballot in November -- far exceeding the 365,880 signatures needed to qualify. The Mercury News reports:
The proposed initiative aims to allow consumers to see what personal information companies are collecting about them and ask the companies to stop selling that information, and also seeks to hold businesses accountable for data breaches. "Today is a major step forward in our campaign, and an affirmation that California voters care deeply about the fundamental privacy protections provided in the California Consumer Privacy Act," said Alastair Mactaggart, the San Francisco real estate developer who is bankrolling the measure. He has spent $1.65 million on the effort, according to filings with the California secretary of state.
The measure is opposed by companies such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Google, which have all donated $200,000 each to fight the measure. Facebook has also given $200,000 to the opposition. However, Facebook last month said it would leave the effort to fight the initiative.
The article notes that Facebook's decision to stop publicly opposing the privacy measure occurred "around the time Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was testifying to Congress about the company's Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's MaliceVille department
Slashdot reader lod123 quotes ThreatPost:
At least 25,936 malicious apps are currently using one of Facebook's APIs, such as a login API or messaging API. These allow apps to access a range of information from Facebook profiles, like name, location and email address. Trustlook discovered the malicious apps using a formula, which created a risk score for apps based on more than 80 pieces of information for each app, including permissions, libraries, risky API calls and network activity... A malicious app (with a risk score above 7) "might be doing things such as capturing pictures and audio when the app is closed, or making an unusually large amount of network calls," a spokesperson told Threatpost...
To be fair, Facebook is not the only company with its APIs embedded in malicious applications... "The problem, for the most part, is that this is data that is provided when their login is used elsewhere. The API is simply passing through intelligence it has gathered from their profile," said Chris Roberts, chief security architect at Acalvio, via email. "LinkedIn, Google and Twitter, among others, have similarly flawed APIs that can be used to harvest information both about you (the target) and possibly associated individuals...depending upon queries and other developer privileges that are being exploited."
A Trustlook spokesperson summarized their position after the report. "Just as Coke does not want its ads running on certain websites, Facebook should not want malicious app developers using its APIs."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's music-to-their-ears department
An anonymous reader writes:
Pandora's stock had its best day ever on Wall Street, rising more than 25% after reporting their subscription and other revenue had surged 61.3 percent to $104.7 million.
Previous users have apparently been lured back with targeted marketing touting a new service that lets users briefly play their favorite songs on demand if they'll watch a short ad. "Pandora said it ended the quarter with 5.63 million subscribers to its Pandora Plus and Pandora Platinum paid services, which was 19 percent higher than the same period a year ago," reports one Silicon Valley newspaper. March saw more former users returning than in the same month a year ago -- for the first time in 18 months.
And an important factor was switching from brand-based marketing to data-based marketing -- that is, "using the information that Pandora has on users' listening preferences." Pandora's Chief Executive brags to MarketWatch that "We really have world-class data-science capabilities. We just never used them in our own marketing."
Revenue for the quarter rose to $319.2 million, up 12 percent over the first quarter of 2017... But Pandora is still losing money. The company posted a net loss of $131.7 million, a slight improvement on the $132.3 million loss in Q1 2017. Overall engagement is down year-over-year, with active listeners dropping 4 percent to 72.3 million. Listener hours dipped from 5.21 billion to 4.96 billion.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's mission-to-Mars department
"This is a big day. We're going back to Mars," said one NASA official, presiding over this morning's launch of the first Mars surface craft to lift off since 2011. CNN reports:
The Atlas V 401 rocket also carried two suitcase-size spacecraft, designed to orbit Mars, as it blasted into the dark and cloudy sky, which turned bright gold for seconds as the rocket ascended in a plume of smoke... After a six-month journey, if it all goes as planned, InSight -- whose name is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport -- will touch down just north of the Martian equator on November 26, joining five other NASA spacecraft operating on and above Mars.
The 790-pound (358-kilogram) probe will then begin its two-year science mission to seek the "fingerprints" of the processes that formed the rocky planets of the solar system. It will measure the planet's "vital signs: 'its "pulse' (seismology), 'temperature' (heat flow) and 'reflexes' (precision tracking)," according to NASA. The explorer doesn't have wheels, so it can't roll around gathering up dirt to study. But it does have a 7.8-foot-long (2.4-meter) robotic arm. The arm will place a seismometer on the ground to detect "marsquakes" (think earthquakes, but on Mars, of course). InSight also will burrow 10 to 16 feet into the crust of Mars, going 15 times deeper than any previous Martian mission, according to NASA.
The rocket is carrying two briefcase-sized satellites (named Wall-E and Eva) which will demonstrate that cubesats can survey journeys to other planets.
Two microchips have also been affixed to the lander carrying the names of 2.4 million space enthusiasts -- including William Shatner.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's disappearing-into-thin-air department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Globe and Mail: Canada's best and brightest computer engineering graduates are leaving for jobs in Silicon Valley at alarmingly high rates, fueling a worse "brain drain" than the mass exodus by Canadian doctors two decades ago, according to a new study. The study, led by Zachary Spicer, a senior associate with the Munk School of Global Affairs' Innovation Policy Lab at University of Toronto, found one-in-four recent science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates from three of the country's top universities -- University of Waterloo, University of British Columbia and U of T -- were working outside Canada. The numbers were higher for graduates of computer engineering and computer science (30 percent), engineering science (27 percent) and software engineering, where two out three graduates were working outside Canada, mostly in the United States. Nearly 44 percent of those working abroad were employed as software engineers, with Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon listed as top employers.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-the-road department
In a blog post on Friday, Nvidia announced it is "pulling the plug" on the GeForce Partner Program (GPP) due to the company's unwillingness to combat "rumors" and "mistruths" about the platform. The GPP has only been active for a couple of months. It was launched as a way for gamers to know exactly what they're buying when shopping for a new gaming PC. "With this program, partners would provide full transparency regarding the installed hardware and software in their products," reports Digital Trends. From the report: Shortly after the launch, unnamed sources from add-in card and desktop/laptop manufacturers came forward to reveal that the program will likely hurt consumer choice. Even more, they worried that some of the agreement language may actually be illegal while the program itself could disrupt the current business they have with AMD and Intel. They also revealed one major requirement: The resulting product sports the label "[gaming brand] Aligned Exclusively with GeForce." As an example, if Asus wanted to add its Republic of Gamers (RoG) line to Nvidia's program, it wouldn't be allowed to sell RoG products with AMD-based graphics. Of course, manufacturers can choose whether or not to join Nvidia's program, but membership supposedly had its "perks" including access to early technology, sales rebate programs, game bundling, and more.
According to Nvidia, all it asked of its partners was to "brand their products in a way that would be crystal clear." The company says it didn't want "substitute GPUs hidden behind a pile of techno-jargon." Specifications for desktops and laptops tend to list their graphics components and PC gamers are generally intelligent shoppers that don't need any clarification. Regardless, Nvidia is pulling the controversial program because the "rumors, conjecture, and mistruths go far beyond" the program's intent.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's completely-meaningless department
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from an article via The Guardian, written by David Graeber: One day, the wall shelves in my office collapsed. This left books scattered all over the floor and a jagged, half-dislocated metal frame that once held the shelves in place dangling over my desk. I'm a professor of anthropology at a university. A carpenter appeared an hour later to inspect the damage, and announced gravely that, as there were books all over the floor, safety rules prevented him from entering the room or taking further action. I would have to stack the books and not touch anything else, whereupon he would return at the earliest available opportunity. The carpenter never reappeared. Each day, someone in the anthropology department would call, often multiple times, to ask about the fate of the carpenter, who always turned out to have something extremely pressing to do. By the time a week was out, it had become apparent that there was one man employed by buildings and grounds whose entire job it was to apologize for the fact that the carpenter hadn't come. He seemed a nice man. Still, it's hard to imagine he was particularly happy with his work life.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's fortune-and-glory department
Yale physicists have uncovered hints of a time crystal, a form of matter that "ticks" when exposed to an electromagnetic pulse, in a child's toy. The discovery means there are now new puzzles to solve, in terms of how time crystals form in the first place. Yale News reports: Ordinary crystals such as salt or quartz are examples of three-dimensional, ordered spatial crystals. Their atoms are arranged in a repeating system, something scientists have known for a century. Time crystals, first identified in 2016, are different. Their atoms spin periodically, first in one direction and then in another, as a pulsating force is used to flip them. That's the "ticking." In addition, the ticking in a time crystal is locked at a particular frequency, even when the pulse flips are imperfect.
Monoammonium phosphate (MAP) crystals are considered so easy to grow that they are sometimes included in crystal growing kits aimed at youngsters. It would be unusual to find a time crystal signature inside a MAP crystal, [Yale Physics professor Sean Barrett] explained, because time crystals were thought to form in crystals with more internal "disorder." The researchers used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to look for a DTC signature -- and quickly found it. Another unexpected thing happened, as well. "We realized that just finding the DTC signature didn't necessarily prove that the system had a quantum memory of how it came to be," said Yale graduate student Robert Blum, a co-author on the studies. "This spurred us to try a time crystal 'echo,' which revealed the hidden coherence, or quantum order, within the system," added Rovny, also a Yale graduate student and lead author of the studies. The findings are described in a pair of studies, one in the journal Physical Review Letters and the other in the journal Physical Review B.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's numbers-don't-lie department
Timothy B. Lee writes for Ars Technica: A few days after the Mountain View crash, Tesla published a blog post acknowledging that Autopilot was active at the time of the crash. But the company argued that the technology improved safety overall, pointing to a 2017 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). "Over a year ago, our first iteration of Autopilot was found by the U.S. government to reduce crash rates by as much as 40 percent," the company wrote. It was the second time Tesla had cited that study in the context of the Mountain View crash -- another blog post three days earlier had made the same point. Unfortunately, there are some big problems with that finding. Indeed, the flaws are so significant that NHTSA put out a remarkable statement this week distancing itself from its own finding.
"NHTSA's safety defect investigation of MY2014-2016 Tesla Model S and Model X did not assess the effectiveness of this technology," the agency said in an email to Ars on Wednesday afternoon. "NHTSA performed this cursory comparison of the rates before and after installation of the feature to determine whether models equipped with Autosteer were associated with higher crash rates, which could have indicated that further investigation was necessary." Tesla has also claimed that its cars have a crash rate 3.7 times lower than average, but as we'll see there's little reason to think that has anything to do with Autopilot. This week, we've talked to several automotive safety experts, and none has been able to point us to clear evidence that Autopilot's semi-autonomous features improve safety. And that's why news sites like ours haven't written stories "about how autonomous cars are really safe." Maybe that will prove true in the future, but right now the data just isn't there. Musk has promised to publish regular safety reports in the future -- perhaps those will give us the data needed to establish whether Autopilot actually improves safety.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's technical-difficulties department
Late last year, Vine's co-founder, Dom Hofmann, said he was working on "a follow-up to Vine," after the six-second video social media app was shut down by Twitter in October. "I'm going to work on a follow-up to vine. i've been feeling it myself for some time and have seen a lot of tweets, dms, etc.," Hofmann tweeted at the time. Well, several months have passed and we have learned that Vine v2 will be postponed for an "indefinite amount of time" while Hofmann figures out funding and logistical hurdles. The Verge reports: The announcement, made on the v2 forums and reposted this morning by the official v2 Twitter handle, is a disappointing but understanding turn of events. Back in January, Hofmann suggested the app may launch as soon as this summer, which was an ambitious timetable. Now, Hofmann says that, despite the immense interest in his project, he has to take the time to make sure it doesn't fall apart before continuing. He cites a need for substantial venture funding to get v2 off the ground after initially thinking he may be able to self-fund it. "Long story short, in order to work, the v2 project needs to operate as a company with sizable external funding, probably from investors," Hofmann writes. "This is difficult because I already run an early-stage company (Innerspace VR, a creative immersive entertainment studio he founded after selling Vine to Twitter years ago) that is in the middle of development. Very few backers would be happy with the split attention, and I wouldn't be either. This is potentially solvable, but it's going to take time for the space and resources to become available."Read Replies (0)