Medicine

Scientists Save Child's Life By Growing Him New Skin (scientificamerican.com) 107

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: The German doctors realized they had to do something drastic or their seven-year-old patient would die. The boy had escaped war-ravaged Syria with his parents, and a rare genetic disease had left him with raw, blistering sores over 80 percent of his body. His doctors in a children's burn unit tried everything they could to treat his illness, called junctional epidermolysis bullosa -- even grafting some skin from his father to see if it would heal the child's wounds. But his body rejected this. Finally, they e-mailed Michele De Luca, a researcher in Italy, to ask for help.

The doctors took a small sample of skin from one of the few places on the boy's body where it was not flaming red or flaking off, and sent it to De Luca. His team at the center used a virus to insert into the skin cells a correct copy of a gene called LAMB3; the boy's own defective copy had caused his epidermolysis bullosa. De Luca and his colleagues grew the skin cells over scaffolds in their lab to form large sheets, the way doctors often do for burn patients. In two surgeries in October and November 2015, the Italian and German teams covered the boy's limbs, sides and back with these sheets of fresh skin. After being too sick even to get out of bed before his surgeries, "he was standing up already by Christmas," De Luca says. In January 2016 the boy, whose name is not being released to protect his privacy, received a few more skin patches -- and in February he was released from the University Hospitals of the Ruhr University Bochum in Germany.

Chrome

Chrome Update Kills Annoying Redirects and Trick-To-Click Popups (androidcentral.com) 41

Google is releasing updates to Chrome 64 and Chrome 65 to put a halt to page redirects and trick-to-click popups. The update is coming to both the desktop and Android apps. Android Central reports: With Chrome 64, every redirect from a third-party iframe will show an info bar instead of sending you off to some other page. This way we can decide if we want to navigate away or stay on the page we're looking at. If we're interacting with an iframe, like clicking an embedded YouTube video to open it on YouTube in a new tab, the request goes through as normal -- this only applies to things you didn't click and didn't expect to send you off. We can get more than we asked for when we are interacting with a web page, too. Google has two things planned that should help. With Chrome 65, websites that try to circumvent Chrome's pop-up blocker by opening a new tab for a thing you clicked while navigating the original tab to some other page will be blocked with the same style of info bar. This gives us the choice of taking a look versus being forced. Some abusive experiences are harder to autodetect, but Google plans to use the same type of data as its Safe Browsing feature to kill off deceptive page elements.
Crime

Federal Prosecutors Charge Man With Hiring Hackers To Sabotage Former Employer (apnews.com) 18

According to the Associated Press, federal prosecutors have charged a man with paying computer hackers to sabotage websites affiliated with his former employer. From the report: The FBI says the case represents a growing form of cybercrime in which professional hackers are paid to inflict damage on individuals, businesses and others who rely on digital devices connected to the web. Prosecutors say 46-year-old John Kelsey Gammell hired hackers to bring down Washburn Computer Group in Monticello, but also made monthly payments between July 2015 and September 2016 to damage web networks connected to the Minnesota Judicial Branch, Hennepin County and several banks. The Star Tribune reports Gammell's attorney, Rachel Paulose, has argued her client didn't personally attack Washburn. Paulose has asked a federal magistrate to throw out evidence the FBI obtained from an unnamed researcher because that data could have been obtained by hacking.
Space

SpaceX Rocket Engine Explodes During Test (space.com) 115

According to The Washington Post, a SpaceX rocket engine exploded Sunday (Nov. 5) at the company's test facility in McGregor, Texas. The explosion reportedly occurred during a "qualification test" of a Merlin engine, the type that powers SpaceX's workhorse Falcon 9 rocket. Space.com reports: SpaceX has suspended engine testing while it investigates what caused the incident, which didn't injure anyone, the Post added. In a statement provided to the Post, SpaceX representatives said they didn't expect the explosion to affect the company's launch schedule. That schedule has been pretty packed this year. SpaceX has already launched 16 missions, all of them successful, in 2017 -- twice as many as its previous high in a calendar year. And all but three of these missions also involved landings of the Falcon 9 first stage, for eventual refurbishment and reuse.
Bitcoin

Nearly a Third of Millennials Say They'd Rather Own Bitcoin Than Stocks (bloomberg.com) 312

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: A survey by venture capital firm Blockchain Capital found that about 30 percent of those in the 18-to-34 age range would rather own $1,000 worth of Bitcoin than $1,000 of government bonds or stocks. The study of more than 2,000 people found that 42 percent of millennials are at least somewhat familiar with bitcoin, compared with 15 percent among those ages 65 and up. Bitcoin rose more than 6 percent Wednesday to as much as $7,545, helping to push the value of the total cryptocurrency market above $200 billion for the first time, according to CoinMarketcap. The digital asset has soared more than 600 percent this year, compared with gains of 15 percent for the S&P 500 Index -- which might explain millennials' attraction.
Cloud

Logitech To Shut Down 'Service and Support' For Harmony Link Devices In 2018 (arstechnica.com) 131

Logitech recently informed customers that it will be discontinuing service for its popular Harmony Link remote system, which allows users to control home theater and sound equipment from a mobile app. "Customers received an email explaining that Logitech will 'discontinue service and support' for the Harmony Link as of March 16, 2018, adding that Harmony Link devices 'will no longer function after this date,'" reports Ars Technica. From the report: While Logitech is offering a one-time, 35-percent discount on its Harmony Hub to affected customers that are out of warranty, that's not enough for Harmony Link users who are expressing their dissatisfaction on Logitech support forums and Reddit. Users have not experienced major problems with the Harmony Link system that would indicate they are approaching end of life. Harmony Link customers do not pay a subscription or service fee to use the device, either. The only reason provided comes from a Logitech employee with the username Logi_WillWong, who explains in a response post from September 8, 2017 that Logitech will not be renewing a "technology certificate license" that expires in March. No details were provided about how this certificate license allows the Harmony Link to function, but it appears that without it, those devices will not work as promised. "The certificate will not be renewed as we are focusing resources on our current app-based remote, the Harmony Hub," Logi_WillWong added, which seems to indicate that the shutting down of the Harmony Link system is a way to get more customers on the newer Harmony Hub system.
The Internet

Nearly Half of Colorado Counties Have Rejected a Comcast-Backed Law Restricting City-Run Internet (vice.com) 128

bumblebaetuna shares a report from Motherboard: In Tuesday's Coordinated Election, two Colorado counties voted on ballot measures to exempt themselves from a state law prohibiting city-run internet services. Both Eagle County and Boulder County voters approved the measures, bringing the total number of Colorado counties that have rejected the state law to 31 -- nearly half of the state's 64 counties. Senate Bill 152 -- which was lobbied for by Big Telecom -- became law in Colorado in 2005, and prohibits municipalities in the state from providing city-run broadband services.

Some cities prefer to build their own broadband network, which delivers internet like a utility to residents, and is maintained through subscription costs. But ever since SB 152 was enacted, Colorado communities have to first bring forward a ballot measure asking voters to exempt the area from the state law before they can even consider starting a municipal broadband service. So that's what many of them have done. In addition to the 31 counties that have voted to overrule the state restrictions, dozens of municipalities in the state have also passed similar ballot measures. Including cities, towns, and counties, more than 100 communities in Colorado have pushed back against the 12-year-old prohibition, according to the Institute for Local Self Reliance.

AT&T

Justice Department Tells Time Warner It Must Sell CNN Or DirecTV To Approve Its AT&T Merger (nytimes.com) 118

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): The Justice Department has called on AT&T and Time Warner to sell Turner Broadcasting, the group of cable channels that includes CNN, as a potential requirement for approving the companies' pending $85.4 billion deal, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday. The other potential way the merger could win approval would be for AT&T to sell its DirecTV division, two of these people added. As originally envisioned, combining AT&T and Time Warner would yield a giant company offering wireless and broadband internet service, DirecTV, the Warner Brothers movie studio and cable channels like HBO and CNN. If the Justice Department formally makes either demand a requisite for approval, AT&T and Time Warner would almost certainly take the matter to court to challenge the government's legal basis for blocking their deal.
Google

Chrome Will Whack Website Bait-and-Switch Tactics (cnet.com) 76

Starting next year, Google's Chrome browser will stamp out some shenanigans that send you to a website you didn't expect. From a report: You probably don't like it when you navigate to a particular web page and then your browser unexpectedly jumps to another page -- an action called a redirect and something the website publisher didn't even want to happen. With Chrome 64, in testing now and due to ship early next year, Chrome will block that kind of bait and switch, Google said. "We've found that this redirect often comes from third-party content embedded in the page, and the page author didn't intend the redirect to happen at all," Google product manager Ryan Schoen said in a blog post. Chrome 64 will block the redirect action and instead show an information bar telling you what happened. That's not all. Chrome 65, due a few weeks later, will squelch another unwelcome action that can happen when you click a link and the website opens in a new tab while switching the existing tab to a page you didn't request.
The Almighty Buck

The Inside Story of Venture Capital's Messiest Breakup (wired.com) 20

mirandakatz writes: The Xfund started with a bold idea and ended with one of its founders banished from the country. At Backchannel, Jessi Hempel has the definitive story of what really happened after Patrick Chung and Hugo Van Vuuren went into business together, and how a promising venture went so wrong. It's an incredibly complex story, and no one agrees on the basic facts: As Hempel writes, 'What's clear is that from the start, they had clashing visions for what they were building. The tale of Van Vuuren and Chung's partnership and its demise offers a window into how power really works in Silicon Valley, where personal relationships are the most important currency and, in order to protect capital, investors are more likely to place their bets on people they know and trust.'
Security

Linux Has a USB Driver Security Problem (bleepingcomputer.com) 156

Catalin Cimpanu, reporting for BleepingComputer: USB drivers included in the Linux kernel are rife with security flaws that in some cases can be exploited to run untrusted code and take over users' computers. The vast majority of these vulnerabilities came to light on Monday, when Google security expert Andrey Konovalov informed the Linux community of 14 vulnerabilities he found in the Linux kernel USB subsystem. "All of them can be triggered with a crafted malicious USB device in case an attacker has physical access to the machine," Konovalov said. The 14 flaws are actually part of a larger list of 79 flaws Konovalov found in Linux kernel USB drivers during the past months. Not all of these 79 vulnerabilities have been reported, let alone patched. Most are simple DoS (Denial of Service) bugs that freeze or restart the OS, but some allow attackers to elevate privileges and execute malicious code.
Apple

Apple Plans To Start Selling Its AR Headset By 2020, Bloomberg Says (bloomberg.com) 63

Apple plans to have an augmented-reality headset complete by 2019, and begin selling it by 2020, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday citing multiple sources familiar with the matter. The report claims that Apple has assembled a team called "T288" with hundreds of engineers to work on an AR headset that doesn't require an iPhone to work. The team is reportedly testing their work with HTC Vive VR headsets and "a device similar to an Oculus Gear VR headset," with goal to build a fully integrated headset that includes a display and cameras powered by a custom chipset. Apple is looking into using its knowledge in designing custom silicon to create a more power-efficient chip for the headset, the report said, adding the chip could be similar to the integrated system used on the Apple Watch.
China

China Spreads Propaganda to U.S. on Facebook, a Platform it Bans at Home (nytimes.com) 103

Paul Mozur, reporting for the New York Times: China does not allow its people to gain access to Facebook, a powerful tool for disseminating information and influencing opinion. As if to demonstrate the platform's effectiveness, outside its borders China uses it to spread state-produced propaganda around the world, including the United States (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). So much do China's government and companies value Facebook that the country is Facebook's biggest advertising market in Asia, even as it is the only major country in the region that blocks the social network. A look at the Facebook pages of China Central Television, the leading state-owned broadcast network better known as CCTV, and Xinhua, China's official news agency, reveals hundreds of English-language posts intended for an English-speaking audience. Each quarter China's government, through its state media agencies, spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy Facebook ads, according to a person with knowledge of those deals, who was unauthorized to talk publicly about the company's revenue streams. China's propaganda efforts are in the spotlight with President Trump visiting the country and American lawmakers investigating foreign powers's use of technology to sway voters in the United States.
Bitcoin

2x Called Off: Bitcoin Hard Fork Suspended for Lack of Consensus (coindesk.com) 50

Alyssa Hertig, writing for CoinDesk: The organizers of a controversial bitcoin scaling proposal are suspending an attempt to increase the block size by way of a software upgrade. Known for its strong early support from bitcoin startups and mining pools, the plan, called Segwit2x, or simply 2x, was to trigger a block size increase at block 494784, expected to occur on or around November 16th. The suspension was announced today in an email, written by Mike Belshe, CEO and co-founder of bitcoin wallet software provider BitGo. One of the leaders of the Segwit2x project, he argued that the scaling proposal is too controversial to move forward. He wrote: "Unfortunately, it is clear that we have not built sufficient consensus for a clean block size upgrade at this time. Continuing on the current path could divide the community and be a setback to Bitcoin's growth. This was never the goal of Segwit2x."
Google

Google Wants Google Doodles Taught In Public School, Warns Kids They Best Behave 146

theodp writes: Well, this year's Hour of Code is almost upon us, and if Google has its way, K-12 schoolchildren across the nation will be learning computer science by creating Google Doodles with Scratch (lesson plan). Curiously, the introductory video for the Create Your Own Google Logo Hour of Code activity from the Google Computer Science Education Department sternly warns kids, "While it is okay to use the Google logo for your personal Doodle, it is not okay [emphasis Google's] to use it anyplace else or outside this activity." In addition to respecting its intellectual property, Google instructs kids that they are to follow the Scratch Community Guidelines when they create Google logos: "Please stay positive, friendly, and supportive towards others in the Scratch Community. Help us keep Scratch a place where people of different backgrounds and interests feel welcome to hang out and create together."
NASA

NASA Is Working With Uber on Its Flying Taxi Project 51

Ride-hailing service Uber on Wednesday took a step forward in its plan to make autonomous "flying taxis" a reality, signing a contract with NASA to develop the software to manage them. From a report: Uber said at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon that it signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA for the development of "unmanned traffic management." This is NASA's push to figure out how unmanned aerial systems (UAS), such as drones that fly at a low altitude, can operate safely. Uber wants to make vertical take-off and landing vehicles. That will allow their flying cars to take off and land vertically. They will fly at a low altitude. This is the start-up's first partnership with a U.S. federal government agency. NASA is also working with other companies to develop traffic management for these low altitude vehicles. "UberAir will be performing far more flights on a daily basis than it has ever been done before. Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace management technologies," Jeff Holden, chief product officer at Uber, said in a statement on Wednesday. "Combining Uber's software engineering expertise with NASA's decades of airspace experience to tackle this is a crucial step forward for Uber Elevate."
Yahoo!

Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Apologizes For Data Breach, Blames Russians (reuters.com) 212

Former Yahoo chief executive officer Marissa Mayer apologized today for a pair of massive data breaches at Yahoo and blamed Russian agents on the growing number of incidents involving major U.S. companies. A reader shares a report: "As CEO, these thefts occurred during my tenure, and I want to sincerely apologize to each and every one of our users," she told the Senate Commerce Committee, testifying alongside the interim and former CEOs of Equifax and a senior Verizon Communications executive. "Unfortunately, while all our measures helped Yahoo successfully defend against the barrage of attacks by both private and state-sponsored hackers, Russian agents intruded on our systems and stole our users' data."
Chrome

'How Chrome Broke the Web' (tonsky.me) 283

Reader Tablizer writes (edited and condensed): The Chrome team "broke the web" to make Chrome perform better, according to Nikita Prokopov, a software engineer. So the story goes like this: there's a widely-used piece of DOM API called "addEventListener." Almost every web site or web app that does anything dynamic with JS probably depends on this method in some way. In 2016, Google came along and decided that this API was not extensible enough. But that's not the end of the story. Chrome team proposed the API change to add passive option because it allowed them to speed up scrolling on mobile websites. The gist of it: if you mark onscroll/ontouch event listener as passive, Mobile Google can scroll your page faster (let's not go into details, but that's how things are). Old websites continue to work (slow, as before), and new websites have an option to be made faster at the cost of an additional feature check and one more option. It's a win-win, right? Turned out, Google wasn't concerned about your websites at all. It was more concerned about its own product performance, Google Chrome Mobile. That's why on February 1, 2017, they made all top-level event listeners passive by default. They call it "an intervention." Now, this is a terrible thing to do. It's very, very, very bad. Basically, Chrome broke half of user websites, the ones that were relying on touch/scroll events being cancellable, at the benefit of winning some performance for websites that were not yet aware of this optional optimization. This was not backward compatible change by any means. All websites and web apps that did any sort of draggable UI (sliders, maps, reorderable lists, even slide-in panels) were affected and essentially broken by this change.
AMD

Raja Koduri, AMD's Radeon Tech Group Leader, Resigns (anandtech.com) 38

Ryan Smith, writing for AnandTech: On the day following what's perhaps one of the greatest (and oddest) product design wins for AMD's Radeon Technologies Group, a second bit of surprising news is coming out of AMD. Raja Koduri, the Senior VP and Chief Architect of the group, who has been its leader since the RTG was formed two years ago, has announced that he is resigning from the company, effective tomorrow. Word of Raja's resignation originally broke via an internal memo penned by Raja and acquired by Hexus. And while AMD will not confirm the validity of the memo, the company is confirming that Raja has decided to leave the company.
Wikipedia

Nearly All of Wikipedia Is Written By Just 1 Percent of Its Editors (vice.com) 224

From a report on Motherboard: According to the results of a recent study that looked at the 250 million edits made on Wikipedia during its first ten years, only about 1 percent of Wikipedia's editors have generated 77 percent of the site's content. "Wikipedia is both an organization and a social movement," Sorin Matei, the director of the Purdue University Data Storytelling Network and lead author of the study, told me on the phone. "The assumption is that it's a creation of the crowd, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Wikipedia wouldn't have been possible without a dedicated leadership." At the time of writing, there are roughly 132,000 registered editors who have been active on Wikipedia in the last month (there are also an unknown number of unregistered Wikipedians who contribute to the site). So statistically speaking, only about 1,300 people are creating over three-quarters of the 600 new articles posted to Wikipedia every day.
IOS

iOS 11 Passes 50 Percent Adoption In Under 2 Months (venturebeat.com) 133

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: After a longer wait than usual, Apple today finally released the first official numbers for iOS 11. The various figures and estimates released by marketing and research firms are no longer relevant, as we now know for certain that iOS 11 has passed the 50 percent mark in less than two months. In other words, the latest version of the company's mobile operating system is now on one in every two of its mobile devices. iOS 11 was released on September 13, meaning it took less than seven weeks to reach the majority of users that Apple tracks. While this is certainly impressive, keep in mind that iOS 10 took less than a month and iOS 9 took less than a week to hit the same adoption milestone. Sure, the number of iOS devices is growing, but Apple also cuts down the number allowed to get the latest updates.
Google

Google To Add Restaurant Wait Times To Google Search, Maps (techcrunch.com) 59

Google Search and Maps already show you the peak traffic times for your favorite restaurants, but it will soon show you the wait times as well. Google says the feature begins rolling out today, and will eventually expand to include grocery stores. TechCrunch reports: Google's new restaurant wait times also comes from the aggregated and anonymized data from users who opted in to Google Location History -- the same data that powers popular times, wait times and visit duration. In the case of restaurants, Google will now include a pop-up box that appears when you click on a time frame in the popular times' chart. The box shows the live or historical data labeled as "busy," "usually busy," "usually not busy," etc., along with the wait time. Below the popular times chart, there's also a section that helps users plan their visit by offering info on the peak wait times and duration. (e.g. "People typically spend 45 mins to 2 hr here.") The new wait time feature will be supported on nearly a million sit-down restaurant listings worldwide, initially in Google Search.
NASA

NASA Astronaut Dick Gordon, Pilot of Gemini and Apollo 12, Dies At 88 (astronautscholarship.org) 58

sconeu writes: Dick Gordon, pilot of Gemini 11 and command module pilot of Apollo 12, has died at the age of 88. Gordon was also slated to command the cancelled Apollo 18 mission. "Dick Gordon is an American hero, and a true renaissance man by any measure. He was an American naval officer and aviator, chemist, test pilot, NASA astronaut, professional football executive, oil and gas executive and generous contributor to worthy causes," said Curt Brown, board chairman of the Orlando-based Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and an astronaut and veteran of six space flights. "He was in a category all his own." The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation has a touching write-up that details Gordon's childhood and career successes. You can read the full article here.
Biotech

EPA Approves Release of Bacteria-Carrying Mosquitoes To 20 States (nature.com) 133

schwit1 writes: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the use of a common bacterium to kill wild mosquitoes that transmit viruses such as dengue, yellow fever and Zika, Nature's news team has learned. On November 3rd, the agency told biotechnology start-up MosquitoMate that it could release the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis into the environment as a tool against the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). Lab-reared mosquitoes will deliver the bacterium to wild mosquito populations. The decision -- which the EPA has not formally announced -- allows the company, which is based in Lexington, Kentucky, to release the bacteria-infected mosquitoes in 20 U.S. states and Washington DC.

MosquitoMate will rear the Wolbachia-infected A. albopictus mosquitoes in its laboratories, and then sort males from females. Then the laboratory males, which don't bite, will be released at treatment sites. When these males mate with wild females, which do not carry the same strain of Wolbachia, the resulting fertilized eggs don't hatch because the paternal chromosomes do not form properly. The company says that over time, as more of the Wolbachia-infected males are released and breed with the wild partners, the pest population of A. albopictus mosquitoes dwindles. Other insects, including other species of mosquito, are not harmed by the practice, says Stephen Dobson, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky in Lexington and founder of MosquitoMate.

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