Computers & Linux News

Is Uranus Losing Its Atmosphere?

SlashDot - 1 hour 54 min ago
Mars was once covered by oceans, but lost its atmosphere over time, according to Gina DiBraccio, a space physicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and project scientist for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN mission. Is the same thing happening to Uranus? The magnetic bubble surrounding the giant gas planet may be siphoning its atmosphere off into space, reports Digital Trends: Uranus's atmospheric loss is driven by its strange magnetic field, the axis of which points at an angle compared to the axis on which the planet spins. That means its magnetosphere wobbles as it moves, which makes it very difficult to model. "The structure, the way that it moves," DiBraccio said, "Uranus is really on its own." Due to the wobbling of the magnetosphere, bits of the atmosphere are drained away in what are called plasmoids — bubbles of plasma which pinch off from the magnetic field as it is blown around by the Sun. Although these plasmoids have been seen on Earth and on some other planets, they had never been observed on Uranus before the recent analysis of old Voyager 2 data. Interestingly, the theory comes from a new analysis of 30-year-old data gathered by the Voyager 2 space probe -- long before it reached the edge of our solar system.

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Filmmaker taps rent-a-celeb app Cameo to make touching flick during lockdown - CNET

CNET News - 2 hours 2 min ago
Lindsay Lohan, Gary Busey, Jon Lovitz and others share uplifting messages in Ben Berman's timely short that explores the need for human connection.

Get more serious about working from home with this $55 ergonomic mesh office chair - CNET

CNET News - 3 hours 5 min ago
Stop borrowing a kitchen chair and sit on a comfortable, breathable, adjustable chair that doesn't cause an aching back.

Bay Area Group Pushes $1,000 Universal Basic Income For Everyone

SlashDot - 3 hours 19 min ago
"Gisele Huff is convinced universal basic income is finally having its moment," reports the Bay Area newsgroup, describing the 84-year-old president of a nonprofit promoting universal basic incomes to honor their recently-deceased son, a Tesla software engineer: While Huff's organization is only a few years old, it has already made its mark in the Bay Area. Santa Clara County's Board of Supervisors is considering a pilot program that would provide youth exiting foster care with a basic $1,000 monthly income. If approved later this year, the program would likely be the first of its kind in the nation... Q: Different people have different ideas about what exactly UBI should look like. What's yours? A: It would be $1,000 a month and it runs like social security. It's an automatic system. All you need is a bank account. So UBI is a direct payment to your bank account on a monthly basis. It has no requirements. When you're 18 it starts and it goes on until you die. Q: And everyone would get the same amount? Including the wealthiest households? A: Yes. For the people who are wealthy, it will disappear because $1,000 doesn't mean anything. But it will mean the world for the people who are so marginalized now, like foster kids or abused women who can't leave a situation because they don't have a dime to their name. It is a huge incentive for people to move on, to do things, take risks that they would not do before. Q: Some critics of UBI say that it could incentivize people not to work, because no matter what they do they will get a monthly paycheck. What is your response? A: If you have a job, you're not going to stop working for $1,000 a month. What you're going to do is you're going to tell your boss: "No, I'm not doing this because it's not acceptable and I have $1,000 dollars that I can use for the next two months until I find a better job." So if you want that job done as a boss, you're going to have to improve the conditions or the pay...." Q: And your son was concerned about those same issues? How did he come to his perspective on UBI? A: Gerald was the software engineer for the Model 3 Tesla. So he has been a techie all of his life and what really spurred him on to look into this in a deeper way was his fear of technological unemployment. The robots are coming. And the potential of that technology is what Gerald was aware of — it's immense.

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Get two Amazon Echo Show 8 smart displays for the price of one - CNET

CNET News - 4 hours 6 min ago
Right now, you can snag a pair of one of our favorite Alexa gadgets for $130, which is 50% off the usual price.

Remote City Council Meeting Interrupted By Pornographic Videos

SlashDot - 4 hours 19 min ago
Friday's first-ever remote meeting for the Los Angeles City Council had to shut down for 20 minutes because of pranksters posting "pornographic videos". The Los Angeles Daily News has the story: Council President Nury Martinez called a recess about an hour into the meeting, which is centered around a Los Angeles-centric relief package for workers, renters and homeless people during the public health crisis. She said there were "inappropriate videos" being posted. Soon afterward, city officials' voices could be heard discussing turning peoples' video capabilities off on the channel. The reporter posted on Twitter that the meeting faced other challenges. "Councilman Joe Buscaino just yelled at his kids to be quiet." ("Maybe it's past Joe's bedtime," joked an assistant news editor.) The meeting ran on for nearly 11 hours, and by the end just six people remained in Zoom's meeting room. "Seven people on the 15-member City Council voted to ban all evictions in Los Angeles, with 6 against. But that was not enough to pass the ban. They needed 8 votes."

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Whatever Happened to Ashley Madison? Affairs in the Time of Coronavirus

SlashDot - 5 hours 19 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes VentureBeat: Ashley Madison's tagline has taken on a new ring amid the COVID-19 pandemic — "Life's short. Have an affair." And the "married dating" site, used to conduct clandestine affairs, has found itself in the midst of a boom. Despite the fact that it's harder than ever to physically meet up with a fellow cheater, Ashley Madison is seeing a surge in users. Some are just looking to chat with someone other than a spouse, some are seeking emotional validation or the fantasy of pursuing a secret sex life... The company became a household name in July 2015, when hackers stole data on 32 million cheating spouses. The leak of sensitive data led to spouses discovering that their significant others were cheating. Divorces, breakups, and suicides ensued. The hackers also exposed that Ashley Madison used bots posing as attractive young women to lure men into engaging more with the site. The company says it has since beefed up its security and rid itself of the bots. And now it's more than double the size it was at the time of the hack, with over 65 million members last year. During 2019, the company added 15,500 new members a day. More recently, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been adding 17,000 new members a day. Its chief strategy officer tells them that after their massive data breach "we were signing up more than 100,000 people a day... [W]e also saw revenues jump during that small time frame." (And the site also acquired "a whole new security team...") Interestingly, he also says Facebook won't allow them to buy ads, which seems especially anticompetitive since Facebook runs its own dating site. "They block us but let other dating platforms advertise... We have had multiple conversations with them, and no, it's a fruitless conversation, unfortunately... This is part of the problem with Facebook, in general, in that they get to pick and choose which companies are going to advertise on the second-largest, if not the largest, digital advertising platform in the world. We question the validity of that."

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Microsoft Surface Headphones are $150 off - CNET

CNET News - 5 hours 34 min ago
Discounted to $200, Microsoft's high-tech noise-canceling headphones are more tempting.

Zoom Removes Code That Sends Data to Facebook

SlashDot - 6 hours 12 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes Motherboard: On Friday video-conferencing software Zoom issued an update to its iOS app which stops it sending certain pieces of data to Facebook. The move comes after a Motherboard analysis of the app found it sent information such as when a user opened the app, their timezone, city, and device details to the social network giant. When Motherboard analyzed the app, Zoom's privacy policy did not make the data transfer to Facebook clear. "Zoom takes its users' privacy extremely seriously. We originally implemented the 'Login with Facebook' feature using the Facebook SDK in order to provide our users with another convenient way to access our platform. However, we were recently made aware that the Facebook SDK was collecting unnecessary device data," Zoom told Motherboard in a statement on Friday.... "We sincerely apologize for this oversight, and remain firmly committed to the protection of our users' data," Zoom's statement concluded.

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Astronomers Have Finally Found the Edge of the Milky Way

SlashDot - 7 hours 19 min ago
Iwastheone quotes Science News: Astronomers have long known that the brightest part of the Milky Way, the pancake-shaped disk of stars that houses the sun, is some 120,000 light-years across. Beyond this stellar disk is a disk of gas. A vast halo of dark matter, presumably full of invisible particles, engulfs both disks and stretches far beyond them. But because the dark halo emits no light, its diameter is hard to measure. Now, Alis Deason, an astrophysicist at Durham University in England, and her colleagues have used nearby galaxies to locate the Milky Way's edge... To find the Milky Way's edge, Deason's team conducted computer simulations of how giant galaxies like the Milky Way form. In particular, the scientists sought cases where two giant galaxies arose side by side, like the Milky Way and Andromeda, our nearest giant neighbor, because each galaxy's gravity tugs on the other. The simulations showed that just beyond the edge of a giant galaxy's dark halo, the velocities of small nearby galaxies drop sharply. Using existing telescope observations, Deason and her colleagues found a similar plunge in the speeds of small galaxies near the Milky Way. This occurred at a distance of about 950,000 light-years from the Milky Way's center, marking the galaxy's edge, the scientists say.

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The end of hugs? The coronavirus pandemic could shape social habits for years - CNET

CNET News - 8 hours 53 min ago
Weeks or months of social distancing and amped-up hygiene might change our behavior for a long time to come, social scientists say.

Gullwings and racing legends at the Mercedes-Benz museum - Roadshow

CNET News - 8 hours 53 min ago
Check out 130-plus years of Mercedes motoring at this incredible museum.

Mad Mercs: Exploring Stuttgart's Mercedes-Benz Museum - Roadshow

CNET News - 8 hours 53 min ago
Over 130 years of Mercedes history at this incredible museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Here's a look inside.

US Officials Use Mobile Ad Location Data to Study How COVID-19 Spreads

SlashDot - 10 hours 19 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes the Wall Street Journal: Government officials across the U.S. are using location data from millions of cellphones in a bid to better understand the movements of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic and how they may be affecting the spread of the disease... The data comes from the mobile advertising industry rather than cellphone carriers. The aim is to create a portal for federal, state and local officials that contains geolocation data in what could be as many as 500 cities across the U.S., one of the people said, to help plan the epidemic response... It shows which retail establishments, parks and other public spaces are still drawing crowds that could risk accelerating the transmission of the virus, according to people familiar with the matter... The data can also reveal general levels of compliance with stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, according to experts inside and outside government, and help measure the pandemic's economic impact by revealing the drop-off in retail customers at stores, decreases in automobile miles driven and other economic metrics. The CDC has started to get analyses based on location data through through an ad hoc coalition of tech companies and data providers — all working in conjunction with the White House and others in government, people said. The CDC and the White House didn't respond to requests for comment. It's the cellphone carriers turning over pandemic-fighting data in Germany, Austria, Spain, Belgium, the U.K., according to the article, while Israel mapped infections using its intelligence agencies' antiterrorism phone-tracking. But so far in the U.S., "the data being used has largely been drawn from the advertising industry. "The mobile marketing industry has billions of geographic data points on hundreds of millions of U.S. cell mobile devices..."

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Should Students Still Be Graded In the Time of Covid-19?

SlashDot - 13 hours 19 min ago
theodp writes: The LA Times reports that controversies over grading are roiling universities and colleges, as the coronavirus outbreak prompted them to shift to online learning and send most students home to disparate circumstances. Some students and faculty believe that normal grading practices during these times are deeply unfair, while others feel students should be able to choose between a letter grade or pass/fail, arguing that earning high marks can distinguish them for jobs, scholarships or graduate school. At Harvard, all undergraduates will receive grades of either "Emergency Satisfactory" or "Emergency Unsatisfactory" in their spring classes. Faculty may supplement this terminology with a "qualitative assessment of student learning." The coronavirus situation has also prompted grading changes at the high school level. The College Board announced that all AP exams will be streamlined and only include questions on material covered thru early March. Students taking the AP Computer Science Principles course will not even be subjected to an AP exam in 2020 but can still earn college credit.

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NYT Investigates America's 'Lost Month' for Coronavirus Testing

SlashDot - 16 hours 12 min ago
The New York Times interviewed over 50 current and former U.S. health officials, senior scientists, company executives, and administration officials to investigate America's "lost month" without widespread coronavirus testing, "when the world's richest country — armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists — squandered its best chance of containing the virus's spread." With capacity so limited, the Center for Disease Control's criteria for who was tested remained extremely narrow for weeks to come: only people who had recently traveled to China or had been in contact with someone who had the virus. The lack of tests in the states also meant local public health officials could not use another essential epidemiological tool: surveillance testing. To see where the virus might be hiding, nasal swab samples from people screened for the common flu would also be checked for the coronavirus... Even though researchers around the country quickly began creating tests that could diagnose Covid-19, many said they were hindered by the Food and Drug Administration's approval process. The new tests sat unused at labs around the country. Stanford was one of them. Researchers at the world-renowned university had a working test by February, based on protocols published by the World Health Organization.... By early March, after federal officials finally announced changes to expand testing, it was too late. With the early lapses, containment was no longer an option. The tool kit of epidemiology would shift — lockdowns, social disruption, intensive medical treatment — in hopes of mitigating the harm. Now, the United States has more than 100,000 coronavirus cases, the most of any country in the world... And still, many Americans sickened by the virus cannot get tested... In tacit acknowledgment of the shortage, Mr. Trump asked South Korea's president on Monday to send as many test kits as possible from the 100,000 produced there daily, more than the country needs. Public health experts reacted positively to the increased capacity. But having the ability to diagnose the disease three months after it was first disclosed by China does little to address why the United States was unable to do so sooner, when it might have helped reduce the toll of the pandemic.

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One Woman Can Smell Parkinson's Disease Before Symptoms Manifest

SlashDot - Sat, 2020-03-28 21:46
"For most of her life, Joy Milne had a superpower that she was totally oblivious to," reports NPR. Long-time Slashdot reader doug141 explains what happened next: Milne's husband's natural odor changed when he was 31. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's at 45. When Joy walked into a Parkinson's support group, she smelled the same odor on everybody. A Parkinson's researcher tested her with blind samples from early stage patients, late-stage patients, and controls... NPR tells the story of that test, which took place at the University of Edinburgh with a Parkinson's researcher named Tilo Kunath: [O]ut of all the samples, Joy made only one mistake. She identified a man in the control group, the group without Parkinson's, as having the disease. But many months later, Kunath says, that man actually approached him at an event and said, "Tilo, you're going to have to put me in the Parkinson's pile because I've just been diagnosed." It was incontrovertible: Joy not only could smell Parkinson's but could smell it even in the absence of its typical medical presentation. Kunath and fellow scientists published their work in ACS Central Science in March 2019, listing Joy as a co-author. Their research identified certain specific compounds that may contribute to the smell that Joy noticed on her husband and other Parkinson's patients. Joy and her super smelling abilities have opened up a whole new realm of research, Kunath says... Joy's superpower is so unusual that researchers all over the world have started working with her and have discovered that she can identify several kinds of illnesses — tuberculosis, Alzheimer's disease, cancer and diabetes. Kunath says the ultimate goal is developing a new tool that can detect detect Parkinson's early. "Imagine a society where you could detect such a devastating condition before it's causing problems and then prevent the problems from even occurring."

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Best shave club of 2020: Harry's, Dollar Shave Club, Billie and More - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2020-03-28 20:03
The secret to getting cheap razors? Buy them online and have them delivered on a schedule.

Cringely Predicts 2020 Will See 'the Death of IT'

SlashDot - Sat, 2020-03-28 19:51
Long-time technology pundit Robert Cringely writes: IT — Information Technology — grew out of something we called MIS — Management Information Systems — but both meant a kid in a white shirt who brought you a new keyboard when yours broke. Well, the kid is now gone, sent home with everyone else, and that kid isn't coming back... ever. IT is near death, fading by the day. But don't blame COVID-19 because the death of IT was inevitable. This novel coronavirus just made it happen a little quicker... Amazon has been replacing all of our keyboards for some time now, along with our mice and our failed cables, and even entire PCs. IT has been changing steadily from kids taking elevators up from the sub-basement to Amazon Prime trucks rolling-up to your mailbox. At the same time, our network providers have been working to limit their truck rolls entirely. Stop by the Comcast storefront to get your cable modem, because nobody is going to come to install it if you aren't the first person living there to have cable... Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) extends both the network and a security model end-to-end over any network including 4G or 5G wireless. Some folks will run their applications in their end device, whether it is a PC, phone, tablet, whatever, and some will run their applications in the same cloud as SASE, in which case everything will be that much faster and more secure. That's end end-game if there is one — everything in the cloud with your device strictly for input and output, painting screens compressed with HTML5. It's the end of IT because your device will no longer contain anything so it can be simply replaced via Amazon if it is damaged or lost, with the IT kid in the white shirt becoming an Uber driver. Since COVID-19 is trapping us in our homes it is forcing this transition to happen faster than it might have. But it was always going to happen.

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Uplifting scenes of coronavirus solidarity around the world - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2020-03-28 19:45
National landmarks light up. Citizens applaud and serenade medical workers from balconies and rooftops. See how people around the globe are showing gratitude and friendship in these difficult times.