Tech News Feed

Why Scientists Are Very Worried About the Variant From Brazil

SlashDot - 1 hour 10 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: New coronavirus variants seem to be cropping up everywhere. There's one from the U.K., which is more contagious and already circulating in the United States. There's one from South Africa, which is forcing Moderna and Pfizer to reformulate their COVID-19 vaccines and create "booster" shots, just to make sure the vaccines maintain their efficacies. But for some scientists, the most worrying variant might be the newest one. A variant called P.1, which emerged in early December in Manaus, Brazil, and by mid-January had already caused a massive resurgence in cases across the city of 2 million people. [...] The concern with P.1 is twofold: scientists don't understand why the variant has spread so explosively in Brazil, and the variant carries a particularly dangerous set of mutations. While the variant from the U.K. took about three months to dominate the outbreak in England, P.1 took only about a month to dominate the outbreak in Manaus. In addition, Manaus had already been hit extremely hard by the virus back in April. One study estimated that the population should have reached herd immunity and the virus shouldn't be able to spread easily in the community. So why would the city see an even bigger surge 10 months later? Could P.1 be evading the antibodies made against the previous version of the virus, making reinfections easier? Could it just be significantly more contagious? Could both be true? "While we don't *know* exactly why this variant has been so apparently successful in Brazil, none of the explanations on the table are good," epidemiologist Bill Hanage, at Harvard University, wrote on Twitter. Reinfections are a serious concern for several reasons. First off, like the variant from South Africa, P.1 carries a cluster of mutations along the surface of the virus where antibodies -- especially the potent antibodies -- like to bind. "They are kind of the major targets of the immune system," says virologist Penny Moore at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. "So when we see a whole lot of mutations in [those surfaces], it raises the possibility that the mutations might be conferring immune escape." That is, the mutations are helping the virus evade antibodies or escape recognition by them. In essence, the mutations are providing the virus with a type of invisibility cloak. And thus, now we have a game of "cat and mouse," says virologist Ravi Gupta, between the virus and the vaccine. The virus finds ways around the vaccine (and our immune system), says Gupta, and so the manufacturers have to reformulate the vaccines (or else we run the risk of getting infected twice).

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Tim Cook: Active install base of iPhones is now over 1 billion

Engadget - Wed, 2021-01-27 23:55
Last year the install base of active iPhones grew to over 900 million devices, and in Apple’s Q4 2020 earnings call, CEO Tim Cook revealed that after the launch of the iPhone 12 family, it is now over 1 billion. In an interview with Reuters, he point...

Police Dismantle World's 'Most Dangerous' Criminal Hacking Network

SlashDot - Wed, 2021-01-27 22:30
International law enforcement agencies said on Wednesday they had dismantled a criminal hacking scheme used to steal billions of dollars from businesses and private citizens worldwide. Reuters reports: Police in six European countries, as well as Canada and the United States, completed a joint operation to take control of Internet servers used to run and control a malware network known as "Emotet," authorities said in a statement. "Emotet is currently seen as the most dangerous malware globally," Germany's BKA federal police agency said in a statement. "The smashing of the Emotet infrastructure is a significant blow against international organized Internet crime." German police said infections with Emotet had caused at least 14.5 million euros ($17.56 million) of damage in their country. Globally, Emotet-linked damages cost about $2.5 billion, Ukrainian authorities said. Ukraine's General Prosecutor said police had carried out raids in the eastern city of Kharkiv to seize computers used by the hackers. Authorities released photos showing piles of bank cards, cash and a room festooned with tangled computer equipment, but did not say if any arrests were made.

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Discord bans Reddit’s WallStreetBets for hate speech as scrutiny intensifies

Engadget - Wed, 2021-01-27 21:29
Discord has banned the server used by the controversial subreddit r/WallStreetBets for what it says are repeated violations of the company’s hate speech policies. The ban comes as the subreddit’s moderators briefly took the group private, saying they...

Sundance Film Festival brings buzzy movie premieres straight to your home for the first time - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 21:22
The festival will let you stream premieres and try the hottest VR storytelling from your living room. We figured out how to fest, so you don't have to.

Apple's record quarter leads rebound of smartphone shipments in Q4 - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 21:11
The iPhone maker turned in a "phenomenal performance" during the quarter, IDC reports.

Tesla will build an electric van eventually, Elon Musk says - Roadshow

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 21:08
But not in the near future, thanks to battery cell constraints.

The best home products for winter: Coffee makers, fire pits and other cozy devices - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 21:07
These gadgets can help keep you cozy when it's cold outside.

AT&T Eats a $15.5 Billion Impairment Charge As DirecTV Debacle Continues

SlashDot - Wed, 2021-01-27 21:02
An anonymous reader writes: AT&T lost 617,000 customers from DirecTV and its other TV businesses in the final quarter of 2020, capping a year in which it lost nearly 3 million customers in the category, AT&T reported today. AT&T today also informed the Securities and Exchange Commission that it has taken "noncash impairment charges of $15.5 billion" related to its ongoing DirecTV debacle. AT&T said the $15.5 billion charges reflect "changes in our management strategy and our evaluation of the domestic video business... including our decision to operate our video business separately from our broadband and legacy telephony operations." This operational decision "required us to identify a separate Video reporting unit and to assess both the recoverability of its long-lived assets and any assigned goodwill for impairment," AT&T said. AT&T said it also logged "charges of approximately $780 million from the impairment of production and other content inventory at WarnerMedia, with $520 million resulting from the continued shutdown of theaters during the pandemic and the hybrid distribution model for our 2021 film slate." The charges were added to AT&T's Q4 expenses. As a result, AT&T reported a $13.9 billion net loss in the quarter, compared to a net profit of $2.4 billion a year ago. Q4 revenue was $45.7 billion, down from $46.8 billion year over year. The Q4 net loss swung AT&T to a full-year net loss of $5.4 billion.

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Everything we hope to see in The Sims 4 in 2021 - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 21:00
From an auto-roof function to functioning farms, here's what's on our Sims wishlist.

The best checking accounts for February 2021 - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 21:00
From branch access to ATMs to "monthly maintenance" fees, we break down everything you need to know to pick the best checking account.

Tesla Cybertruck engineering is done, first deliveries will happen this year, Musk says - Roadshow

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 20:57
The first trucks should make their way into customers' hands later this year.

Elon Musk says Tesla's Full Self-Driving tech will have Level 5 autonomy by the end of 2021 - Roadshow

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 20:39
Tesla's CEO also confirmed that customers won't be able to transfer previous FSD purchases between old and new cars.

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover landing will be must-see TV - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 20:33
The next robot on Mars will touch down in a few weeks, and the views will be truly other-worldly.

Where the hell is the new Tesla Model S' PRNDL? - Roadshow

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 20:28
The updated Model S gets a crazy new steering wheel, but there's no shifter to be found.

Personal Experiences Bridge Moral and Political Divides Better Than Facts, Research Finds

SlashDot - Wed, 2021-01-27 20:25
AmiMoJo shares a report from Live Science: In his inaugural address last week, President Joe Biden called for unity. But how can Americans come together, given what seems to be growing political contention and deep divides? New research suggests the answer can be found in stories, not statistics. People respect those they disagree with more when their position comes from a place of personal experience, not facts and figures, finds a new series of experiments published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This is especially true when the personal stories are rooted in experiences of harm or vulnerability. "In moral disagreements, experiences seem truer than facts," said Kurt Gray, a psychologist and director of the Center for the Science of Moral Understanding at the University of North Carolina. For the new research, Gray and his colleagues focused on how facts versus experiences affected people's perceptions of their opponent's rationality and their respect for that opponent. Over 15 separate experiments, they found that, although people think they respect opponents who present facts, they actually have more respect for opponents who share personal stories.

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Bernie Sanders' mitten creator is making socks inspired by the famous meme - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 20:20
Stay warm the Sanders way, from head to toe. Proceeds go to hunger-fighting charities.

Billions of cicadas set to invade parts of US for first time in 17 years - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 20:05
The cicadas are borrowing out of their underground homes in 15 US states.

Tesla Model S vs. Lucid Air and Porsche Taycan: Performance EVs compared - Roadshow

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 19:58
Following the announcement of new Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S variants, we take another look at how these EVs stack up.

Discord bans r/WallStreetBets as Reddit sub is locked and GameStop stock falls after hours - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2021-01-27 19:48
The community that took on Wall Street investors betting against GameStop and AMC is now invite-only. That seems to have spooked some investors.