Submission + - Over 30,000 Published Studies Could Be Wrong Due to Contaminated Cells (

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers warn that large parts of biomedical science could be invalid due to a cascading history of flawed data in a systemic failure going back decades. A new investigation reveals more than 30,000 published scientific studies could be compromised by their use of misidentified cell lines, owing to so-called immortal cells contaminating other research cultures in the lab. The problem is as serious as it is simple: researchers studying lung cancer publish a new paper, only it turns out the tissue they were actually using in the lab were liver cells. Or what they thought were human cells were mice cells, or vice versa, or something else entirely. If you think that sounds bad, you're right, as it means the findings of each piece of affected research may be flawed, and could even be completely unreliable.

Horback and fellow researcher Willem Halffman wanted to know how extensive the phenomenon of misidentified cell lines really was, so they searched for evidence of what they call "contaminated" scientific literature. Using the research database Web of Science, they looked for scientific articles based on any of the known misidentified cell lines as listed by the International Cell Line Authentication Committee's (ICLAC) Register of Misidentified Cell Lines.There are currently 451 cell lines on this list, and they're not what you think they are – having been contaminated by other kinds of cells at some point in scientific history. Worse still, they've been unwittingly used in published laboratory research going as far back as the 1950s.

Submission + - Peer Pressure Forced Whales and Dolphins To Evolve Big Brains Like Humans: Study (

An anonymous reader writes: The human brain has evolved and expanded over millennia to accommodate our ever-more-complex needs and those of our societies. This process is known as “encephalization” and has given us the big brain we need to communicate, cooperate, reach consensus, empathize, and socialize. The same is true for cetaceans, like whales and dolphins, it seems. These sea creatures also grew big brains in order to better live in societies, according to a study published on Oct. 16 in Nature Ecology & Evolution. According to Michael Muthukrishna, an economic psychologist at the London School of Economics and co-author of the study, the researchers used two related theories, the Social-Brain Hypothesis and the Cultural-Brain Hypothesis, to make predictions about various relationships between brain size, societal organization, and the breadth of behaviors the cetaceans would display. Then they tested these predictions by creating and evaluating a comprehensive database of cetacean brain size, social structures, and cultural behaviors across species using data from prior studies on 90 types of whales and dolphins.

The study found that cetaceans had complex alliances and communications, played and worked together for mutual benefit, and could even work with other species, like humans. Some also have individual signifiers, sounds that set them apart from others, and can mimic the sounds of others. In addition, it found that brain size predicted the breadth of social and cultural behaviors of these marine creatures (though ecological factors, like prey diversity and latitudinal range, also played a role). The researchers concluded there was a tie between cetacean encephalization, social structure, and group size.

Submission + - 'Significant' Number of Equifax Victims Already Had Info Stolen, Says IRS (

An anonymous reader writes: The IRS does not expect the Equifax data breach to have a major effect on the upcoming tax filing season, Commissioner John Koskinen said Tuesday, adding that the agency believes a “significant” number of the victims already had their information stolen by cyber criminals. “We actually think that it won’t make any significantly or noticeable difference,” Koskinen told reporters during a briefing on the agency’s data security efforts. “Our estimate is a significant percent of those taxpayers already had their information in the hands of criminals.” The IRS estimates that more than 100 million Americans have had their personally identifiable information stolen by criminal hackers, he said.

The Equifax breach disclosed in early September is estimated to have affected more than 145 million U.S. consumers. “It’s an important reminder to the public that everyone can take any actions that they can ... to make sure we can do everything we can to protect personal information,” Koskinen said of the breach on Tuesday, in response to a reporter’s question. The IRS commissioner advised Americans to “assume” their data is already in the hands of criminals and “act accordingly.”

Submission + - Netflix, Amazon, Movie Studios Sue Over TickBox Streaming Device (

An anonymous reader writes: Movie studios, Netflix, and Amazon have banded together to file a first-of-its-kind copyright lawsuit against a streaming media player called TickBox TV. The complaint (PDF), filed Friday, says the TickBox devices are nothing more than "tool[s] for mass infringement," which operate by grabbing pirated video streams from the Internet. The lawsuit was filed by Amazon and Netflix Studios, along with six big movie studios that make up the Motion Picture Association of America: Universal, Columbia, Disney, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros.

"What TickBox actually sells is nothing less than illegal access to Plaintiffs' copyrighted content," write the plaintiffs' lawyers. "TickBox TV uses software to link TickBox's customers to infringing content on the Internet. When those customers use TickBox TV as Defendant intends and instructs, they have nearly instantaneous access to multiple sources that stream Plaintiffs' Copyrighted Works without authorization." The device's marketing materials let users know the box is meant to replace paid-for content, with "a wink and a nod," by predicting that prospective customers who currently pay for Amazon Video, Netflix, or Hulu will find that "you no longer need those subscriptions." The lawsuit shows that Amazon and Netflix, two Internet companies that are relatively new to the entertainment business, are more than willing to join together with movie studios to go after businesses that grab their content.

Submission + - Smishing scams are becoming worse than spam. 3

deviated_prevert writes: Which providers are best at reducing the recent onslaught of obvious text smishing scams coming into the cell phone networks?

For instance I give you this very obvious one claiming that I have a 79 dollar refund coming from my cell provider with a reference to this phoney (pardon the pun) site that is just a call back trap set in the text.

It seems that smishing is becoming rampant and a very real threat for which there is as yet no effective filter. Other than knowing how these criminals work and constantly ignoring then deleting all the smishing text communications.

What solutions to this problem do you recommend? Completely ignoring unsolicited text seems to be the only real answer here. The same and only solution to the onslaught of fraudulent communications many wind up having to do with their land line connected telephone. Automated call filtering is not a working solution quite yet. Is a cell text interface modified to only accept text from solicited numbers even possible?

Submission + - Russian troll factory paid US activists to fund protests during election ( 1

bestweasel writes: The Guardian reports on another story about Russian meddling but interestingly this one comes from a Russian news source, RBC. Russian trolls posing as Americans made payments to genuine activists in the US to help fund protest movements on socially divisive issues.
On Tuesday, the newspaper RBC published a major investigation into the work of a so-called Russian âoetroll factoryâ since 2015, including during the period of the US election campaign, disclosures that are likely to put further spotlight on alleged Russian meddling in the election.
RBC said it had identified 118 accounts or groups inÂFacebook, Instagram and Twitter that were linked to the troll factory, all of which had been blocked in August and September this year as part of the US investigation into Russian electoral meddling.
RBC story (in Russian).
Moscow Times: Kremlin Troll Factory's Methods and Figures Revealed

Submission + - Tribal "Sovereign Immunity" Patent Protection Could Be Outlawed

AnalogDiehard writes: The recent — and questionable — practice of technological and pharmaceutical companies selling their patents to US native indian tribes (where they enjoy "sovereign immunity" from the inter partes review (IPR) process of the PTO) then the tribes licensing them back to the companies is drawing scrutiny from a federal court and has inspired a new US bill outlawing the practice. The IPR process is a "fast track" (read: much less expensive) process through the PTO to review the validity of challenged patents — it is loved by defendants and hated by patent holders. Not only has US Circuit Judge William Bryson invalidated Allergan's pharmaceutical patents due to "obviousness", he is questioning the legitimacy of the sovereign immunity tactic. The judge was well aware that the tactic could endanger the IPR process which was a central component of the America Invents Act of 2011 and writes that sovereign immunity "should not be treated as a monetizable commodity that can be purchased by private entities as part of a scheme to evade their legal responsibility." US Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) — no stranger to abuses of the patent system — has introduced a bill that would outlaw the practice she describes as "one of the most brazen and absurd loopholes I've ever seen and it should be illegal." Sovereign immunity is not absolute and has been limited by Congress and the courts in the past. The bill would apply only to the IPR proceedings and not to patent disputes in federal courts.

Submission + - Tesla employees detail how they were fired, claim dismissals were not performanc (

joshtops writes: Tesla is trying to disguise layoffs by calling the widespread terminations performance related, allege several current and former employees. On Friday, the San Jose Mercury News first reported that Tesla had dismissed an estimated 400 to 700 employees. That number represents between 1 and 2 percent of its entire workforce. But one former employee, citing internal information shared by a manager, said the total number fired is higher than 700 at this point. Most of the people let go from Tesla so far have been from its motors business, said people familiar with the matter. They were not from other initiatives like Tesla Powerwall, which is helping restore electricity to the residents of Puerto Rico now. The mass firings, which affected Tesla employees across the U.S., had begun by the weekend of Oct. 7 and continued even after the initial news report, sources said. Among those whose jobs were terminated in this phase, some were given severance packages quickly while others are still waiting on separation agreements. Some terminated employees told CNBC they were informed via email or a phone call "without warning," and told not to come into work the next day. The company also dismissed other employees without specifying a given performance issue, according to these people. "Seems like performance has nothing to do with it," one Tesla employee told CNBC under the condition of anonymity. "Those terminated were generally the highest paid in their position," this person said, suggesting that the firings were driven by cost-cutting. That assessment was echoed by several others, including three employees fired from Tesla during this latest wave.

Submission + - In a Post-Password Era, Getting Rid of Passwords is the Problem (

chicksdaddy writes: Large, tech savvy corporations recognize that the static password is dead. Still, they can't seem to stop using and relying on them. That's the conclusion of a panel discussion at the Akamai EDGE ( event in Las Vegas last week, where executives at some of the U.S.’s leading corporations, agreed that the much maligned password won’t be abandoned any time soon, even as data breaches and follow-on attacks like automated “credential stuffing” make passwords more susceptible than ever to abuse, The Security Ledger reports. (

“We reached the end of needing passwords maybe seven years ago, but we still use them,” said Steve Winterfeld, Director of Cybersecurity, at clothing retailer Nordstrom. “They’re still the primary layer of defense.” “It’s hard to kill them,” noted Shalini Mayor, who is a Senior Director at Visa Inc. “The question is what to replace them with.”

This, even though the cost of using passwords is high and getting higher, as sophisticated attacks attempt to compromise legitimate accounts using so-called “credential stuffing” techniques, which use automated password guessing attacks against web-based applications.

Large retailers and other vendors often perceive what Patrick Sullivan, the Director of Security Technology and Strategy at Akamai likened to a “disruption in the force” well before major breaches are disclosed as stolen credentials from those hacks are used to try to break into their own system. However, the sheer number of breaches make spotting the source of a particular leaked credential all but impossible.

Stronger and more reliable alternatives to passwords already exist, but the obstacles to using them are often prohibitive. Shalani said Visa is “looking at” biometric technologies like Apple’s TouchID as a tool for making payments securely. Such technologies – from fingerprint scans to facial and retinal scans – promise more secure and reliable factors than alphanumeric passwords, the executives agreed. But customers often resist the technologies or find them error prone or too difficult to use.

Submission + - Samba running on Windows ! (

Jeremy Allison - Sam writes: Report from the Samba Team on the storage developers conference, plus a trip to the Microsoft Campus in which we got Samba running on Windows (the Linux subsystem). What strange times we live in !

Submission + - Google Home finally gets a real sleep timer! (

Lauren Weinstein writes: Google Home, nearly a year after its initial release, finally has a real sleep timer! (

Some readers have speculated that this popular post from early this month: "How to Fake a Sleep Timer on Google Home" (
somehow "shamed" Google into final action on this. I wouldn't go that far. But I'll admit that it's somewhat difficult to stop chuckling a bit right now. In any case, thanks to the Home team!

Submission + - There Are Mental Health Benefits to Owning a 'Smart Home' (

CIStud writes: While smart homes are revolutionizing consumers’ “5 to 9” by transforming how the brain operates inside and outside of the home environment, insights from neuroscience research are uncovering the positive impact smart homes may have on consumers’ physiological, neurological, and psychological well-being. It appears the same infrastructure wiring “connections” in a smart home are helping to make a different type of beneficial “connection” — the neural wiring inside clients’ brains.

Studies show that "control" minimizes stress in humans, improving function of the brain’s pre-frontal cortex (PFC) — a region that governs high-level cognitive functions such as working memory, emotional regulation and goal-oriented behavior. Also, neuroimaging studies show that instant gratification is good for the brain. Evidence from the emerging field of neuroeconomics has reliably shown that when individuals are presented with the option of receiving a smaller reward immediately (i.e., $20 today) or a larger reward later (i.e., $30 in two weeks), a majority of people will opt for the immediate reward. Home automation systems stimulate that same feeling, igniting the brain’s pleasure center and giving rise to reward-related sensations.

Submission + - Smartphones Are Killing Americans, But Nobody's Counting (

Zorro writes: Amid a historic spike in U.S. traffic fatalities, federal data on the danger of distracted driving are getting worse.

Increase in fatalities has been largely among bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians—all of whom are easier to miss from the driver’s seat than, say, a 4,000-pound SUV—especially if you’re glancing up from your phone rather than concentrating on the road. Last year, 5,987 pedestrians were killed by cars in the U.S., almost 1,100 more than in 2014—that’s a 22 percent increase in just two years.

Submission + - These guys are transcribing all the audio on the internet. (

An anonymous reader writes: I've been into podcasting for a number of years now and I ran across this website called FluidDATA. It looks like they've made an audio search engine that lets your search for words or phrases in audio files. And from what I can tell, it looks like they have millions of files...

Are these guys going to be the google of audio?

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