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Submission + - Researchers Uncover the Genetic Roots Behind Rare Vibration Allergy (vice.com)

derekmead writes: A team of National Health Institute researchers has for the first time uncovered the genetic roots of one of the strangest allergies: vibrations. The vibration allergy, which is just as it sounds, may be quite rare, but understanding it more completely may yield important insights into the fundamental malfunctioning of immune cells in the presence of allergens. The group's findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine .

In addition to being uncommon, the vibration allergy is not very dangerous. In most cases, the allergic response is limited to hives—the pale, prickly rash most often associated with allergic and autoimmune reactions. Other less common symptoms include headaches, blurry vision, fatigue, and flushing. The triggering vibrations are everyday things: jogging, jackhammering, riding a motorcycle, towel drying. Symptoms appear within a few minutes of exposure and are gone usually within an hour.

Submission + - Trees, regardless of size, all break at the same wind speed. Here's why. (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: When a cyclone named Klaus tore across southwestern France in January 2009, it highlighted a strange phenomenon: Trees, regardless of their diameter, height, or elastic properties, don’t tend to break until wind speeds reach about 42 m/s (94 mph). This seemingly odd convergence has actually been observed by several historical scientists, including Galileo and Leonardo de Vinci, both of whom suggested that a mathematical law could explain the resistance of wooden beams under stress. Now, using data from a new experiment, scientists say they have found that law.

Submission + - The Russian Plot to Use Space Mirrors to Turn Night Into Day

merbs writes: Throughout the early 90s, a team of Russian astronomers and engineers were hellbent on literally turning night into day. By shining a giant mirror onto the earth from space, they figured they could bring sunlight to the depths of night, extending the workday, cutting back on lighting costs and allowing laborers to toil longer. If this sounds a bit like the plot of a Bond film, well, it’s that too.

The difference is that for a second there, the scientists, led by Vladimir Sergeevich Syromyatnikov, one of the most important astronautical engineers in history, actually pulled it off.

Submission + - Human Rights Watch Blasts TPP for "Serious Rights Concerns" (freezenet.ca)

Dangerous_Minds writes: Freezenet is reporting that Human Rights Watch, an international human rights organization, has blasted the TPP over what they call "serious rights concerns". Among the concerns are privacy rights as well as the implications the trade deal would have on free speech. Already, some are expecting all 12 countries to sign off on the TPP next month.

Further reading: Human Rights Watch press release and TPP Q & A.

Submission + - No, Your Medical Records Are Not Private (dailycaller.com)

schwit1 writes: Many Americans think the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act(HIPAA)protects their medical privacy, but federal bureaucrats issue thousands of subpoenas every year without prior judicial approval to get around the law.

Congress passed HIPAA in 1996 with a promise that it would clamp down on waste, fraud and abuse in the health care industry and safeguard patient privacy. But HIPAA allows federal bureaucrats to get patient records merely by issuing administrative subpoenas, or civil investigative demands.

These bureaucratic edicts bypass the Fourth Amendment's requirement that a judge must give prior approval before government can search or take an individual's property. Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Inspector General and the Department of Justice (DOJ) thus have access to any records they believe to be "relevant" in cases of alleged health care fraud.

Submission + - Replacement of writers leads Gartner's predictions (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: Gartner's near-future predictions include: Writers will be replaced. By 2018, 20% of all business content, one in five of the documents you read, will be authored by a machine. By 2018, 2 million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment. This may seem Orwellian, but certain jobs require people to be fit, such as public safety workers. By 2020, smart agents will facilitate 40% of mobile interactions. This is based on the belief that the world is moving to a post-app era, where assistants such as Apple's Siri act as a type of universal interface.

Submission + - Amazon to Offer Sneakernet Services

blueshift_1 writes: If you have 50TB of data that you'd like to put on the S3 cloud, Amazon is releasing Snowball. It's basically a large grey box full of hard drives that Amazon will mail to you. Simply upload your files and mail it back — they will upload it for you. For $200 + shipping, it's at a pretty reasonable price point if you're tired of hosting your data and want to try and push that to AWS.


Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway. -Tanenbaum, Andrew S.

Submission + - Why the World is Getting Weirder and Faster

HughPickens.com writes: It used to be that airliners broke up in the sky because of small cracks in the window frames. So we fixed that. It used to be that aircraft crashed because of outward opening doors. So we fixed that. Aircraft used to fall out of the sky from urine corrosion, so we fixed that with encapsulated plastic lavatories. The list goes on and on. And we fixed them all. So what are we left with? According to Steve Coast that just leaves the weird events like disappearing 777s, freak storms and pilots flying into mountains. Engineers have been hammering away at the remaining problems by creating more and more rules. "As illustration, we created rules to make sure people can’t get into cockpits to kill the pilots and fly the plane into buildings. That looked like a good rule. But, it’s created the downside that pilots can now lock out their colleagues and fly it into a mountain instead. This is a clean and understandable example of why adding more layers, and more rules, to a problem doesn’t always work," says Coast. "The worry should be we end up with so many rules we become sclerotic like Italy or France. We effectively end up with some kind of Napoleonic law – everything is illegal unless specifically made legal."

According to Coast the primary way we as a society deal with the mess of over-regulation is by creating rule-free zones. It’s essentially illegal for you to build anything physical these days from a toothbrush (FDA regulates that) to a skyscraper, but there’s zero restriction on creating a website. Hence, that’s where all the value is today. To paraphrase Peter Thiel, new technology is probably so fertile and productive simply because there are so few rules. "If you are starting a computer-software company, that costs maybe $100,000," says Thiel. But "to get a new drug through the FDA, maybe on the order of a billion dollars or so."

Submission + - Are Apple, Google, Facebook about to profit from domestic violence? (abc.net.au)

aybiss writes: On ABC's (Australia) The Drum tonight there was a story about the Australian Federal Govt pledging $100m towards domestic violence action. Part of the story involved the purchase of 20,000 'safe phones' which can be given to those escaping domestic violence so that they can't be tracked by GPS.

Do you think that the big tech companies have something to answer on this issue? I for one disable the entire feature and I'm not sure whether these phones simply won't have GPS or whether it is permanently disabled or simply turned off in the phones' settings, but surely instead of pledging to purchase MORE smartphones and either pay more for the phones to be specially made/setup or for someone to set them up, we should be demanding that phones explicitly ask every time they want to make someone's location public?

Submission + - Lightning wipes storage disks at Google data center (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A lightning storm in Belgium last Thursday hit Google’s St Ghislain data center causing power loss and damage to disk storage, leaving some customers without access to data. The facility was hit directly by four successive lightning strikes which immediately took down the centre’s operations from Thursday 13th until Monday 17th August, according to Google. Despite the uncontrollable nature of the incident, Google has accepted full responsibility for the blackout and promises to upgrade its data center storage hardware, increasing its resilience against power outages.

Submission + - How Hurricane Katrina Turned Pets into People (buzzfeed.com)

sciencehabit writes: Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, killing more than 1800 people. But it was also a huge tragedy for pets. More than 150,000 cats and dogs perished in the storm and its aftermath, largely because rescuers refused to take them. Many people died too for their pets--nearly half of those who stayed behind stayed because of their animals. In the aftermath of the storm, a deeply divided Congress--responding to these tragedies--passed nearly unanimously the PETS Act, which impels rescue agencies to save pets as well as people in natural disasters. For the first time in U.S. history, pets would now be treated like people.

Submission + - The real price of Windows 10 is your privacy (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: Windows 10 is a free upgrade, right? Well, surely you know by now that there's no such thing as a free lunch. We're only 48 hours on from the launch of Windows 10 and already the complaining and criticism is underway. One thing that has been brought under the spotlight is privacy under the latest version of Microsoft's operating system.

Some people have been surprised to learn that Microsoft is utilizing the internet connections of Windows 10 users to deliver Windows Updates to others. But this is far from being the end of it. Cortana also gives cause for concern, and then there is the issue of Microsoft Edge, and ads in apps. Is this a price you're willing to pay?

Windows 10 is more closely tied to a Microsoft account than any previous version of the OS. This allows Microsoft to assign an ID number to users that can then be used to track them across different devices, services, and apps. This in turn can be used to deliver closely targeted ads to people. Microsoft has been pushing the mobile first, cloud first philosophy for some time now, and it becomes clear with Windows 10 that the love of the cloud is as much to do with the ability it gives Microsoft to gather useful data as it is about convenience for users.

Submission + - Is it legally safe to use JavaScript?

my2iu writes: The US Supreme Court recently agreed that Oracle owns a copyright over the Java API. Parts of the JavaScript standard library API are essentially copies of the Java API. For example, Brendan Eich himself has stated that JavaScript's Date class even copied a Y2K bug directly from the Java API. Does this mean the JavaScript API is potentially contaminated by Java copyrights? The White House has suggested that copying APIs might be protected under fair use, such as for the purposes of interoperability. But the JavaScript API isn't directly interoperable with the Java API, so I'm not sure if it would qualify under this exemption. I'm not a lawyer, and I'm not familiar with the legal issues around JavaScript. Did Sun previously indemnify JavaScript for copying the Java APIs? Are JavaScript programmers, JavaScript implementers, and/or web surfers potentially exposed to a legal risk of copyright infringement?

Submission + - Cisco Security Appliances Found to Have Default SSH Keys

Trailrunner7 writes: Many Cisco security appliances contain default, authorized SSH keys that can allow an attacker to connect to an appliance and take almost any action he chooses. The company said that all of its Web Security Virtual Appliances, Email Security Virtual Appliances, and Content Security Management Virtual Appliances are affected by the vulnerability.

This bug is about as serious as they come for enterprises. An attacker who is able to discover the default SSH key would have virtually free reign on vulnerable boxes, which, given Cisco’s market share and presence in the enterprise worldwide, is likely a high number. The default key apparently was inserted into the software for support reasons.

“The vulnerability is due to the presence of a default authorized SSH key that is shared across all the installations of WSAv, ESAv, and SMAv. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by obtaining the SSH private key and using it to connect to any WSAv, ESAv, or SMAv. An exploit could allow the attacker to access the system with the privileges of the root user," Cisco said.

Submission + - Final step in sugar-to-morphine conversion deciphered (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: The last piece of the poppy puzzle is now in hand: Plant geneticists have isolated the gene in the plant that carries out the last unknown step in converting glucose and other simple compounds into codeine, morphine, and a wide variety of other medicines. The discovery sets the stage for splicing the full suite of genes needed to produce these drugs into yeast, which could then produce safer and cheaper versions.

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