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MIT Engineers Create a Faster 3D Printer

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 09:32 AM PST

MIT's new desktop 3D printer technology increases speeds up to 10x

[A] team of engineers at MIT have shown off a 3D printer capable of creating builds up to 10 times the speed of their consumer counterparts. According to the team, objects that take around an hour to print on conventional systems are done in a matter of minutes.

The system is built around FDM — the same technology used in most desktop 3D printers, which deposits melted plastic layers to build up a structure. MIT made some key tweaks to the print head in order to speed things up, including a screw mechanism that feeds filaments through at higher speeds by getting a tighter grip on the plastic than the traditional pinch wheel model.

The print head also added a laser near the new mechanism capable of melting the plastic much more quickly. Those pieces were coupled with a speedier gantry capable of moving the print head at a higher speed in line with the upgraded print speed.

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Report Claims That Automation Will Displace Hundreds of Millions of Jobs by 2030

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 07:59 AM PST

Automation could wipe out 375-800 million jobs globally in the next 13 years, including 16-54 million in the U.S. But don't worry, there's a new job waiting for you:

The McKinsey Global Institute cautions that as many as 375 million workers will need to switch occupational categories by 2030 due to automation.

[...] "The model where people go to school for the first 20 years of life and work for the next 40 or 50 years is broken," Susan Lund, a partner for the McKinsey Global Institute and co-author of the report, told CNN Tech. "We're going to have to think about learning and training throughout the course of your career."

[...] "The dire predictions that robots are taking our jobs are overblown," Lund said. "Yes, work will be automated, [but] there will be enough jobs for everyone in most areas." The authors don't expect automation will displace jobs involving managing people, social interactions or applying expertise. Gardeners, plumbers, child and elder-care workers are among those facing less risk from automation.

Also at Bloomberg.

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French Porn Star Hits Back at President Emmanuel Macron's Plans to Censor Online Porn

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 06:26 AM PST

French porn star piqued over Macron's desire to crackdown on X-rated films

A star of French porn films has challenged President Emmanuel Macron to meet with him and female porn actresses after France's leader aroused his anger by linking the porn industry to violence against women and inequality. Manuel Ferrara was furious over the president's speech at the weekend which outlined his plan to tackle violence against women and ensure equality between the sexes. According to Macron pornography makes women "an object of humiliation" and that action needs to be taken because porn films are now so widely watched among school children.

Ferrara hit back on Twitter and invited the president to discuss the issue. "I am involved in this industry that you are trying to demonize by making this kind of remark. I am ready to sit down with you and discuss a topic that by all accounts you know nothing about. I'm waiting for your call!" In an interview with France Inter radio the porn star continued to criticize the president saying he found his remark "shocking". "He demonizes the porn industry and is jumping to conclusions (faire un amalgame). It's the same with video games. It's like saying 'a teenager who plays Call of Duty is going to pick up a gun and kill everyone in his school'."

[...] On Saturday Macron announced his plan to extend the powers of France's broadcasting regulator CSA to cover X-rated films as well as launch an awareness campaign on pornography in secondary schools. "The CSA plays an indispensable role in regulating audiovisual content everywhere and stopping the most undignified behavior becoming a form of tacit propaganda," said the president. "Today we do not regulate access to video games, internet content and pornographic content that is increasingly available."

Also at BBC and Reason (archive).

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Epic Games Sues 14-Year-Old after He Files a DMCA Counterclaim for a How-to-Cheat Video

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 04:53 AM PST

Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, has filed a lawsuit against a 14-year-old boy who used cheating software for Fortnite Battle Royale and uploaded a video to YouTube showing others how to use it. The boy filed a DMCA counterclaim after Epic Games tried (successfully) to take down his video, and then uploaded a second video doubling down on the cheating (here is a third intact video from the YouTuber explaining the situation, 7m16s). The original video was ultimately removed and resulted in a "strike" against the YouTuber's account. The boy's mother has filed a letter with the Eastern District Court of North Carolina blasting the lawsuit and asking for it to be dismissed. She says that Epic Games failed to bind underage users with the EULA for their free-to-play game and claims that she did not give parental consent for her son to play the game. She also points out that the software in question is easily obtainable online and that her son did not modify the game with his own code:

Epic Games, the game developer of the massively popular Fortnite survival shooter, now finds itself at the center of a heated debate around the ethics of punishing cheaters after filing a lawsuit against a 14-year-old boy. In response, the boy's mother filed a legal note tearing down Epic's lawsuit and calling for it to be thrown out. The ensuing debate has been fierce, with some praising Epic and others decrying the legal measures as excessive and heartless, suggesting this case could become a touchstone for how game developers of highly competitive online titles handle cheaters and licensing agreement violations in the future.

[...] Epic, which has banned cheaters only to see them develop more robust workarounds, has responded by suing both distributors of the software and, now it seems, at least one user of it. Suing an individual user instead of simply banning them is an unorthodox and controversial move because it echoes the misguided actions of the music recording industry in its attempt to crackdown on piracy. That parallel was only further cemented by the note submitted by the 14-year-old's mother in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

[...] "This particular lawsuit arose as a result of the defendant filing a DMCA counterclaim to a takedown notice on a YouTube video that exposed and promoted Fortnite Battle Royale cheats and exploits," Epic told The Verge in a statement. "Under these circumstances, the law requires that we file suit or drop the claim. Epic is not okay with ongoing cheating or copyright infringement from anyone at any age. As stated previously, we take cheating seriously, and we'll pursue all available options to make sure our games are fun, fair, and competitive for players."

Here's some analysis from a copyright attorney (10m53s, starts at 5m45s). He is not impressed with the mom's letter.

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Earthworms Reproduce in Mars Soil Simulant

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 03:14 AM PST

Earthworms seem to enjoy Mars-like soil just fine after you add poop and water to it:

Two young worms are the first offspring in a Mars soil experiment at Wageningen University & Research. Biologist Wieger Wamelink found them in a Mars soil simulant that he obtained from NASA. At the start he only added adult worms. The experiments are crucial in the study that aims to determine whether people can keep themselves alive at the red planet by growing their own crops on Mars soils.

[...] 'The positive effect of adding manure was not unexpected', added Wamelink, 'but we were surprised that it makes Mars soil simulant outperform Earth silver sand'. Researchers added organic matter from earlier experiments to both sands. They added the manure to a sample of the pots and then, after germination of the rucola, they added the worms. The result: pots with all possible combinations with the exception of organic matter which was added to all of the pots.

Worms are very important for a healthy soil, not only on Earth but also in future indoor gardens on Mars or the moon. They thrive on dead organic matter such as old plant remains, which they eat, chew and mix with soil before they excrete it. This poo still contains organic matter that is broken down further by bacteria, thus releasing nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium for use by the plants. By digging burrows the worms also aerate and improve the structure of the soil, making watering the plants more effective.

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Western Digital to Transition Consumption of Over One Billion Cores Per Year to RISC-V

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 01:35 AM PST

From a Western Digital press release:

Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC) announced today at the 7th RISC-V Workshop that the company intends to lead the industry transition toward open, purpose-built compute architectures. In his keynote address, Western Digital's Chief Technology Officer Martin Fink expressed the company's commitment to [...] transitioning its own consumption of processors – over one billion cores per year – to RISC-V.

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Apple Creates Ridiculous Security Hole in MacOS High Sierra; Patch is Available

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 11:56 PM PST

You can log in as root on the latest version of MacOS by pressing enter on the login prompt a few times. Just type in root as the user and press enter. There you go no password required.

Not sure what else to say; is this the stupidest massive security hole ever?

From Extreme Tech:

Reproing the bug is simple (at least until Apple fixes it): Type the login "root," then move the cursor into the password field and hit enter several times. It also apparently works if you simply hit the "login" button several times rather than using the keyboard, though a few tries may be necessary.

This was also reported at Ars Technica. Beware that the behavior seems to be that if you do not already have a root account with a (preferably strong) password, this bug essentially creates a root account with an empty password. Attempting this on your own system should be followed up by ensuring that any root a count has a strong password.

There is a patch that has just been made available; again according to Ars Technica:

Yesterday we learned that Apple had made a serious security error in macOS—a bug that, under certain conditions, allowed anyone to log in as a system administrator on a Mac running High Sierra by simply typing in "root" as the username and leaving the password field blank. Apple says that vulnerability has now been fixed with a security update that became available for download this morning on the Mac App Store. Further, the update will automatically be applied to Macs running High Sierra 10.13.1 later today.

Apple's brief notes for this security update (Security Update 2017-001) explain the bug by saying, "A logic error existed in the validation of credentials," and claims the problem has been addressed "with improved credential validation."

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EFF: Panopticlick 3.0 Launched

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 10:17 PM PST

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has now launched Panopticlick 3.0, the new version of its browser privacy auditor. The update adds tests for additional trackers including ones from the "Acceptable Ads" program. That is on top of the original function of browser fingerprinting, which is pattern of visible data such as web headers, canvas attributes, cookies, scripts, and other attributes.

Check panopticlick.eff.org to test how well your own browser is or isn't protecting you.

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Viagra to be Sold Over-the-Counter in the UK

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 08:38 PM PST

Viagra will be sold over-the-counter for the first time:

Men will no longer require a prescription to obtain the impotence drug Viagra and will instead be able to buy it over the counter at pharmacies.

The decision by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency follows a public consultation. It will be up to pharmacists to judge whether men over the age of 18 can safely be sold the little blue pills.

Manufacturer Pfizer hopes to get stocks of Viagra Connect (sildenafil 50mg) into UK pharmacies by spring 2018.

Related: News About Pfizer's Most Popular Pill

NOTE: Knowing this story was about to get posted, I took it upon myself to update a couple of site filters to allow use of the words 'viagra' and 'sildenafil' in user comments. Unfortunately, that revealed a bug in code we inherited from slashcode and which caused the site to be unable to accept any comments. I should have tested the changes with a test comment, but was pressed for time to push out a few stories into a nearly empty story queue while hurrying to get out the door. I had successfully used the same technique on other filters in the past, so I have no idea what went wrong with this time. But that's neither here nor there. The site was unable to accept comments after the change (about two hour's time). I apologize and will be more mindful of trusting the site's code in the future! --martyb

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US Companies are Investing Less in Science

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 06:59 PM PST

A new article reveals that large corporations are investing less in science. From 1980 to 2006, publications by company scientists have declined in a range of industries. The result holds across a range of industries.

Investigators also found that the value attributed to scientific research has dropped, whereas the value attributed to technical knowledge (as measured by patents) has remained stable. Companies appear to be focusing more on developing existing knowledge and commercializing it, rather than on creating new knowledge through basic research.


[Abstract]: The decline of science in corporate R&D

Remembering AT&T Bell Labs, IBM Labs, Xerox PARC, HP Labs, TI, etc. In the current political and economic situation, do you think companies in USA have the will and means to reverse this decline?

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Virginia Parent Charged After Putting Digital Recorder in Daughter's Backpack to Catch Bullies

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 04:15 PM PST

Mom charged after putting recording device in daughter's backpack

In late September, Sims says she had enough. She tells 10 On Your Side her 9-year-old daughter was getting bullied at Ocean View Elementary. She says repeated calls and emails to the school went un-returned. [...] Sims says she took actions into her own hands. She wanted to prove that nothing was being done to help her 4th grade daughter. She put a digital recorder into her daughter's backpack in hopes of catching audio from inside the classroom. "If I'm not getting an answer from you what am I left to do?" she asked. The recorder was found. The 9-year-old was moved to a new classroom and about a month later Sims was charged by police.

[...] Sims was charged with felony use of device to intercept oral communication and misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The felony charge could carry five years in prison.

Also at CNN and Time.

Code of Virginia § 19.2-62. Interception, disclosure, etc., of wire, electronic or oral communications unlawful; penalties; exceptions.

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European Commission Approves 5-year License Renewal for Glyphosate

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 02:35 PM PST

Science Mag reports that the active ingredient in Monsanto's Round-Up weed killer and similar products is perfectly, er, probably, um, maybe safe enough for another 5 years.

The commission's Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF), made up of representatives from the commission's 28 member nations, couldn't agree on the length of a renewed license. PAFF initially proposed a 15-year renewal, then a 9-year renewal, and eventually settled on an 18-month extension.

Over the past 2 months, the committee again debated an extension, but no proposal secured the necessary "qualified majority" of PAFF members. But today [Nov 27] 18 countries voted in favor of a 5-year renewal, including Germany and three others that had abstained in the previous vote.

The case against glyphosate wasn't helped by the International Agency for Research on Cancer including it on its dubiously regarded Group 2A (probable carcinogens) along with Red Meat and Shift Work.

Stéphane Travert, agriculture minister of France (France voted for NO extension), sounded heroically determined on public radio when he proclaimed:

"These are 5 years during which we will work to search for alternatives, 5 years during which we will mobilize research and innovation so that tomorrow we can modify agricultural practices for our farmers and for the environment."

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HDMI 2.1 Released

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 12:48 PM PST

The High-Definition Multimedia Interface 2.1 specification has been released. The total transmission bandwidth has been increased to 48 Gb/s from the 18 Gb/s of HDMI 2.0 (or a maximum data rate of 42.6̅ Gb/s from 14.4 Gb/s). The new data rate is effectively tripled to 128 Gb/s when using Display Stream Compression (DSC).

Using DSC, HDMI 2.1 cables can transmit 4K (3840×2160) @ 240 Hz, and 8K (7680×4320) as well as UW10K (10240×4320) at 120 Hz. Without DSC, you will be able to transmit 4K @ 120 Hz, 5K (5120×2880) @ 120 Hz, 8K @ 60 Hz, and UW10K @ 30 Hz. Keep in mind that color depth and chroma subsampling also affect the necessary data rate.

The specification also adds new features such as dynamic high-dynamic-range support (you read that right - the first "dynamic" refers to "dynamic metadata that allows for changes on a scene-by-scene or frame-by-frame basis"), Variable Refresh Rate, Quick Frame Transport, Quick Media Switching, and Auto Low-Latency Mode:

This new version of the HDMI specification also introduces an enhanced refresh rate that gamers will appreciate. VRR, or Variable Refresh Rate, reduces, or in some cases eliminates, lag for smoother gameplay, while Quick Frame Transport (QFT) reduces latency. Quick Media Switching, or QMS, reduces the amount of blank-screen wait time while switching media. HDMI 2.1 also includes Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), which automatically sets the ideal latency for the smoothest viewing experience.

Also at the HDMI Forum, AnandTech, Tom's Hardware, and The Verge.

Previously: HDMI 2.1 Announced

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Great Balls of Graphene: New Samsung Tech Could Charge Phones Five Times Faster

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 11:05 AM PST

Samsung's Advanced Institute of Technology has come up with another use for graphene, a material that's part of many exciting future projects from purifying seawater to detecting cancer, this time putting it to work inside lithium-ion batteries. Scientists created a "graphene ball" coating for use inside a regular li-ion cell, which has the effect of increasing the overall capacity by up to 45 percent and speeding up charging by five times.

[...] Samsung's research team has published a long, very technical paper about how the graphene ball works, and how it's produced. It's clear the technology is at the very early stages, and isn't likely to be a major feature on the Galaxy S9 (or the iPhone 11 or any other device next year), but its potential to have an impact on future batteries inside Samsung and other phones is obvious. Who doesn't want a faster charging, longer-lasting battery inside their favorite device?

Li-ion batteries power not only our mobile gadgets, where fast charging is a extremely helpful, but they are also used in electric vehicles, where fast charging is essential for wider adoption. Samsung says it's possible the graphene ball technology can be scaled up from small capacity cells in our phones, to much larger batteries inside cars. The company has filed patents in the United States and South Korea for graphene ball technology, but there is no indication when or if it will reach a consumer product.

Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/samsung-graphene-ball-news/

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