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ZTE Responds to U.S. Ban on Sales by American Companies to ZTE

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 09:43 AM PDT

China's ZTE slams U.S. ban, says company's survival at risk

China's ZTE Corp said on Friday that a U.S. ban on the sale of parts and software to the company was unfair and threatens its survival, and vowed to safeguard its interests through all legal means.

The United States this week imposed a ban on sales by American companies to ZTE for seven years, saying the Chinese company had broken a settlement agreement with repeated false statements - a move that threatens to cut off its supply chain.

"It is unacceptable that BIS insists on unfairly imposing the most severe penalty on ZTE even before the completion of investigation of facts," ZTE said in its first response since the ban was announced, referring to the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security. "The Denial Order will not only severely impact the survival and development of ZTE, but will also cause damages to all partners of ZTE including a large number of U.S. companies," ZTE said in a statement.

ZTE said it regards compliance as the cornerstone of its strategy, adding it invested $50 million in export control compliance projects in 2017 and plans to invest more this year. A senior U.S. Commerce Department official told Reuters earlier this week that it is unlikely to lift the ban.

Also at WSJ.

Previously: U.S. Intelligence Agency Heads Warn Against Using Huawei and ZTE Products
The U.S. Intelligence Community's Demonization of Huawei Remains Highly Hypocritical
Huawei CEO Still Committed to the U.S. Market
Rural Wireless Association Opposes U.S. Government Ban on Huawei and ZTE Equipment

Related: ZTE's $99 Zmax Pro Smartphone Packs in Top-Line Features

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Amazon Reaches 100 Million Prime Members

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 07:11 AM PDT

Amazon has reported that it has reached 100 million Prime subscribers worldwide:

The big numerical reveal on Wednesday was Amazon.com Inc. finally spilling the beans on the number of Prime members (more than 100 million). It also disclosed another number that shows how much it relies on an army of people moving physical merchandise around the world: $28,446.

That's the median annual compensation of Amazon employees. Amazon reported this number for the first time under a new requirement that companies disclose the gap between pay for the rank-and-file and the person in the corner office. (Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, the world's richest person, reported total compensation of $1.68 million last year. As in prior years, he didn't take a stock bonus, collected a salary of $81,840 and had $1.6 million in personal security costs that Amazon covered.)

However, there's still more work to be done for the company to reach more Americans:

But that figure only gives a surface-level view into the success and current challenges of Amazon's loyalty program — chief among them, how to keep growing in the country where Prime is the most popular and the biggest money-maker: Right here in the U.S. [...] As of August 2016, 60 percent of U.S. households with income of at least $150,000 had Prime memberships, according to research from Cowen and Company. Compare that with around 40 percent of households that made between $40,000 and $50,000 a year, and just 30 percent of those who earned less than $25,000.

[...] In 2017, Amazon unveiled Amazon Cash, a way for shoppers who don't have credit or debit cards to load money into their Amazon accounts by handing over cash at partnering retail stores. In the process, one roadblock to shopping on Amazon for those without bank accounts was lowered.

Two months later, Amazon introduced a 45 percent discount to the Amazon Prime monthly fee for those shoppers who receive certain forms of government assistance; the service cost them just $5.99 a month. And just this March, Amazon added Medicaid recipients to the group eligible for that discount.

Related: Amazon Prime... For Medicaid Recipients

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Moscow State University Team Wins World Finals of ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 05:34 AM PDT

Moscow State University Team Wins World Finals of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest

The 2018 World Finals of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) culminated today at Peking University in Beijing, China. Three students from Moscow State University earned the title of 2018 World Champions. Teams from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Peking University and The University of Tokyo placed in second, third and fourth places and were recognized with gold medals in the prestigious competition.

ACM ICPC is the premier global programming competition conducted by and for the world's universities. The global competition is conceived, operated and shepherded by ACM, sponsored by IBM, and headquartered at Baylor University. For more than four decades, the competition has raised the aspirations and performance of generations of the world's problem solvers in computing sciences and engineering.

In the competition, teams of three students tackle eight or more complex, real-world problems. The students are given a problem statement, and must create a solution within a looming five-hour time limit. The team that solves the most problems in the fewest attempts in the least cumulative time is declared the winner. This year's World Finals saw 140 teams competing. Now in its 42nd year, ICPC has gathered more than 320,000 students from around the world to compete since its inception.

[...] For full results, to learn more about the ICPC, view historic competition results, or investigate sample problems, please visit https://icpc.baylor.edu.

NOTE: All links to the ICPC site presented here are reduced from what appear to be tracking URLs present in the source article.

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A Graphene Roll-Out

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 03:57 AM PDT

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

MIT engineers have developed a continuous manufacturing process that produces long strips of high-quality graphene.

The team's results are the first demonstration of an industrial, scalable method for manufacturing high-quality graphene that is tailored for use in membranes that filter a variety of molecules, including salts, larger ions, proteins, or nanoparticles. Such membranes should be useful for desalination, biological separation, and other applications.

[...] For many researchers, graphene is ideal for use in filtration membranes. A single sheet of graphene resembles atomically thin chicken wire and is composed of carbon atoms joined in a pattern that makes the material extremely tough and impervious to even the smallest atom, helium.

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Deficiencies Of Cryptographic Currencies

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 02:20 AM PDT

Cryptographic currencies are an ongoing source of comedy gold rather than actual gold. Values wildly fluctuate. After being repeatedly asked about crypto currencies, I investigated in more detail. I was aware of leading currencies, such as BitCoin, Ethereum, Monero, ZCash and, after a ridiculous conversation at my local makerspace, pornographic currencies, such as WankCoin, TitCoin, TittyCoin, AssCoin and ArseCoin. Of these, TitCoin is the most viable. Why? Young women, colloquially known as cam-whores, install applications and get paid TitCoin in exchange for showing their breasts or more explicit acts. Surely TitCoins are worthless? No, cam-whores exchange TitCoin for BitCoin which can be used to obtains drugs, designer clothing or high value gadgets via illicit channels and/or major retailers.

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Noise Volumes Rising in Restaurants and Eateries

Posted: 19 Apr 2018 11:14 PM PDT

Vox presents an article about restaurant noise levels and why they've risen over the years.

When the Line Hotel opened in Washington, DC, last December, the cocktail bars, gourmet coffee shops, and restaurants that fill its cavernous lobby drew a lot of buzz. Housed in a century-old church, the space was also reputedly beautiful.

My first visit in February confirmed that the Line was indeed as sleek as my friends and restaurant critics had suggested. There was just one problem: I wanted to leave almost as soon as I walked in. My ears were invaded by a deafening din.

[...] In reckoning with this underappreciated health threat, I've been wondering how we got here and why any well-meaning restaurateur would inflict this pain on his or her patrons and staff. I learned that there are a number of reasons — and they mostly have to do with restaurant design trends. In exposing them, I hope restaurateurs will take note: You may be deafening your staff and patrons.

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Cray CS500 Supercomputers to Include AMD's Epyc as a Processor Option

Posted: 19 Apr 2018 09:36 PM PDT

Cray supercomputers with AMD Epyc processors will start shipping in the summer:

Cray is adding an AMD processor option to its CS500 line of clustered supercomputers.

The CS500 supports more than 11,000 nodes which can use Intel Xeon SP CPUs, optionally accelerated by Nvidia Tesla GPUs or Intel Phi co-processors. Intel Stratix FPGA acceleration is also supported.

There can be up to 72 nodes in a rack, interconnected by EDR/FDR InfiniBand or Intel's OmniPath fabric.

Cray has now added an AMD Epyc 7000 option to the CPU mix:

  • Systems provide four dual-socket nodes in a 2U chassis
  • Each node supports two PCIe 3.0 x 16 slots (200Gb network capability) and HDD/SSD options
  • Epyc 7000 processors support up to 32 cores and eight DDR4 memory channels per socket

Top-of-the-line Epyc chips have 32 cores and 64 threads. An upcoming generation of 7nm Epyc chips is rumored to have up to 48 or 64 cores, using 6 or 8 cores per Core Complex (CCX) instead of the current 4.

Related: AMD Epyc 7000-Series Launched With Up to 32 Cores
Intel's Skylake-SP vs AMD's Epyc
Data Centers Consider Intel's Rivals

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"Maharat min Google" to Help Arabic Young People and Women Advance their Careers

Posted: 19 Apr 2018 07:59 PM PDT

Google launches digital skills training for Arabic speakers

As part of Google's focus on supporting digital literacy and STEM advocacy, the company has launched Maharat min Google ("Building Capabilities with Google"). This program is aimed at helping women and young people in the Arabic-speaking world "get ready for future job opportunities, advance their careers, or grow their businesses." The examples Google cites are training for social media, video, online marketing and e-commerce.

[...] It will consist of free courses, tools and in-person training to job seekers, educators, students and businesses. The organization is also partnering with INJAZ Al-Arab, with a $1 million grant to help the non-profit continue its work in helping students (especially women) with hands-on training for digital skills. What's more, Google is working with the MiSK foundation to provide training for 100,000 people in Saudi Arabia (50,000 of which will be women).

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Brown University Gets $100 Million for Neuroscience Research

Posted: 19 Apr 2018 06:22 PM PDT

The Brown Institute for Brain Science in Rhode Island is getting a $100 million donation, and a name change:

A Brown alum has donated $100 million to advance brain science and help find cures for ALS and Alzheimer's diseases.

The gift is from Robert J. Carney and his wife, Nancy D. Carney. He is a 1961 Brown graduate and a long-serving university trustee. The gift will change the name of the Brown Institute for Brain Science to the Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Institute for Brain Science.

Also at The Boston Globe.

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Finland is Killing World-Famous Basic Income Experiment

Posted: 19 Apr 2018 04:59 PM PDT

Unexpected News that nobody could have foreseen.

Since the beginning of last year, 2000 Finns are getting money from the government each month – and they are not expected to do anything in return. The participants, aged 25–58, are all unemployed, and were selected at random by Kela, Finland's social-security institution.

Instead of unemployment benefits, the participants now receive €560, or $690, per month, tax free. Should they find a job during the two-year trial, they still get to keep the money.

While the project is praised internationally for being at the cutting edge of social welfare, back in Finland, decision makers are quietly pulling the brakes, making a U-turn that is taking the project in a whole new direction.

and . . .

Entrepreneurs who have expressed support for UBI include Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, and Google's futurist and engineering director Ray Kurzweil.

These tech moguls recognize that UBI, as well as [combating] poverty, could also help solve the problem of increased robotization in the workforce, a problem they are very much part of creating.

and . . .

The existing unemployment benefits were so high, the Finnish government argued, and the system so rigid, an unemployed person might choose not to take a job as they would risk losing money by doing so – the higher your earnings, the lower your social benefits. The basic income was meant as an incentive for people to start working.

This article gives me serious doubts about whether a program like this can work and whether other countries will try it.

Previously: Finland: Universal Basic Income Planned for Later in 2016
Finland Launches Basic Income Experiment With Jan. 1 Cheques for Those in Pilot Project

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AMD's Second-Generation Ryzen CPUs Launched

Posted: 19 Apr 2018 03:26 PM PDT

Four of AMD's second-generation Ryzen CPUs have been released. These are "12nm Zen+" chips with minor changes, rather than the more significant third-generation "7nm Zen 2" chips coming later.

The CPUs are the 8-core Ryzen 7 2700X ($329) and Ryzen 7 2700 ($299), and the 6-core Ryzen 5 2600X ($229) and Ryzen 5 2600 ($199). All four come with a bundled cooler, 2 threads per core, and support DDR4-2933 memory, up from DDR4-2666.

The Ryzen 7 2700X takes over the top spot from the Ryzen 7 1800X, and for an extra 10 W in TDP will provide a base frequency of 3.7 GHz and a turbo frequency of 4.3 GHz on its eight cores, with simultaneous multi-threading. This is an extra +100 MHz and +300 MHz respectively, going above the average limits of the 1800X when overclocked.

The 2700X also reduces the top cost for the best AM4 Ryzen processor: when launched, the 1800X was set at $499, without a bundled cooler, and was recently dropped to $349 as a price-competitor to Intel's most powerful mainstream processor. The 2700X undercuts both, by being listed at a suggested e-tail price of $329, and is bundled with the best stock cooler in the business: AMD's Wraith Prism RGB. AMD is attempting to hit all the targets: aggressive pricing, top performance, and best value, all in one go.

IPC is improved about 3% due to cache latency improvements, clock speeds are up about 6% (die sizes and transistor counts are similar to the previous generation, but more unused silicon is used as a thermal buffer), and Precision Boost 2 / XFR 2 is used, for a total of about 10% better performance.

Also at Tom's Hardware and PC World.

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A Florida Man Has been Accused of Making 97 Million Robocalls

Posted: 19 Apr 2018 02:04 PM PDT

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow8317

A Florida man accused of flooding consumers with 97 million phone calls touting fake travel deals appeared Wednesday before lawmakers to explain how robocalls work and to say, "I am not the kingpin of robocalling that is alleged."

Adrian Abramovich, of Miami, who is fighting a proposed $120 million fine, told senators that open-source software lets operators make thousands of phone calls with the click of a button, in combination with cloud-based computing and "the right long distance company."

[...] Calls appeared to come from local numbers, but those who answered were prompted to "Press 1" to hear about vacation deals, according to the FCC. If they did, consumers were connected to call centers not affiliated with companies mentioned in messages, such as Expedia Inc., TripAdvisor Inc., Marriott International Inc. and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., according to the agency. In actuality, the call centers were associated with Mexican timeshare facilities, the FCC said in a notice.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-18/florida-man-accused-of-97-million-robocalls-says-he-s-no-kingpin

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Are We the First Industrial Civilization on Earth?

Posted: 19 Apr 2018 12:37 PM PDT

Can We Be Sure We're the First Industrial Civilization on Earth?

In a new paper, Gavin Schmidt of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Adam Frank from the University of Rochester ask a provocative question [open, DOI: 10.1017/S1473550418000095] [DX]: Could there have been an industrial civilization on Earth millions of years ago? And if so, what evidence of it would we be able to find today?

The authors first considered what signs of industrial civilization would be expected to survive in the geological record. In our own time, these include plastics, synthetic pollutants, increased metal concentrations, and evidence of large-scale energy use, such as carbon-based fossil fuels. Taken together, they mark what some scientists call the Anthropocene era, in which humans are having a significant and measurable impact on our planet.

The authors conclude, however, that it would be very difficult after tens of millions of years to distinguish these industrial byproducts from the natural background. Even plastic, which was previously thought to be quite resistant, can be degraded by enzymes relatively quickly. Only radiation from nuclear power plants—or from a nuclear war—would be discernible in the geological rock record after such a long time.

Anonymous Coward says "I told you so!" and starts babbling about megaliths.

Related: Homo Sapiens Began Advanced Toolmaking, Pigment Use, and Trade Earlier Than Previously Thought

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Intel Abandons Vaunt AR (Augmented Reality) Smartglasses

Posted: 19 Apr 2018 10:59 AM PDT

Intel will shut down its New Devices Group, spelling an end to the company's Vaunt smartglasses project:

When Intel showed off its Vaunt smart glasses (aka "Superlight" internally) back in February, we had high hopes for a new wave of wearable tech that wouldn't turn us into Borgs. Alas, according to The Information's source, word has it that the chip maker is closing the group responsible for wearable devices which, sadly, included the Vaunt. This was later confirmed by Intel in a statement, which hinted at a lack of investment due to "market dynamics." Indeed, Bloomberg had earlier reported that Intel was looking to sell a majority stake in this division, which had about 200 employees and was valued at $350 million.

To avoid the awkwardness that doomed the Google Glass, Intel took the subtle approach by cramming a retinal laser projector -- along with all the other electronic bits, somehow -- into the Vaunt's ordinary-looking spectacle frame; plus there was no camera on it. The low-power projector would beam a red, monochrome 400 x 150 pixel image into the lower right corner of one's visual field, thus eliminating the need of a protruding display medium.

Vaunt is what you get when your committee is too scared of the "Glasshole" fiasco to make a useful product. People on camera could easily identify Google Glass because of its protruding head-mounted display and hardware, as well as the camera indicator light. Build the SoC and any flat buttons directly into a black frame, put small camera lenses at the hinges and/or center, use retinal laser projection or make the lenses into full field of view displays, and remove the indicator light. Then the wearer doesn't have a "Glasshole" problem (but those being viewed might still end up with a "Glasshole.")

Also at The Verge, ZDNet, and AppleInsider.

Previously: Intel Unveils "Vaunt" Smartglasses

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