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Submission + - Inclusion Done Right in a World of Rampant Sexism: An Engineer's Perspective (thenewstack.io)

An anonymous reader writes: “I can’t tell you what a joy it is to go to work and just do my job.” Christina Noren’s words stopped me cold. After the storm stirred up by Susan Fowler’s February blog post, and the revelation of the depth of sexisim in the tech industry, this was an astounding statement.

What is it like to work at a company that gets not just diversity, but inclusion right? Not just as a C-level or VP-level perch, but from an engineer’s perspective, which, at the end of the day is the most important one. Were there more companies who have figured this out? And, most importantly, what were they doing those other companies could learn from?

Submission + - Spying on Students in the Classroom (eff.org)

schwit1 writes: It seems a day doesn’t go by without another report of a company monitoring what we do on the Internet and selling that data to generate more revenue. And now the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has examined what happens to the data that's collected from students using technology in the classroom. They released the results of an extensive survey covering students in grades K-12.

What they found was that little work has been done to protect the privacy of the student information that is collected from both the classroom and from using the online software the schools issue for use at home on the students' own devices. They found that while many school districts have embraced technology and all of the benefits it can bring to the schools and students, often little thought has been given to one of the unintended consequences of this: the students' privacy.

The study was very extensive and took two years to complete. Virtually everything was examined, including what's being done along each point from the suppliers of hardware and software and the cloud services, to the schools and the students. They found that lots of data is being collected without permission and that it's easy for outside companies to access the data. They also discovered that there's little to prevent suppliers from sharing data with others, including advertisers.

Submission + - DNA-Based Test Can Spot Cancer Recurrence a Year Before Conventional Scans (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A revolutionary blood test has been shown to diagnose the recurrence of cancer up to a year in advance of conventional scans in a major lung cancer trial. The test, known as a liquid biopsy, could buy crucial time for doctors by indicating that cancer is growing in the body when tumors are not yet detectable on CT scans and long before the patient becomes aware of physical symptoms. It works by detecting free-floating mutated DNA, released into the bloodstream by dying cancer cells. In the trial of 100 lung cancer patients, scientists saw precipitous rises in tumor DNA in the blood of patients who would go on to relapse months, or even a year, later. In the latest trial, reported in the journal Nature, 100 patients with non-small cell lung cancer were followed from diagnosis through surgery and chemotherapy, having blood tests every six to eight weeks. By analyzing the patchwork of genetic faults in cells across each tumor, scientists created personalized genomic templates for each patient. This was then compared to the DNA floating in their blood, to assess whether a fraction of it matched that seen in their tumor.

Submission + - SmartThings Has Access to Tens of Thousands of Private GitHub Repos (reddit.com)

An anonymous reader writes: After Samsung acquired SmartThings for a cool $200 million a few years ago, the company has been aggressively pushing for developers to enable GitHub access. At one time, the company boasted it had more than 20,000 developers on the platform. What most of those developers do not know is that the SmartThings integration is a blanket read on all repositories in your account. Why GitHub makes this an option, I have no idea. With all the turmoil over at Samsung lately, do you want that company to have access to all of your GitHub repositories? Have you checked what else has access to your repos lately?

Submission + - Pirate Site Blockades Violate Free Speech, Mexico's Supreme Court Rules (torrentfreak.com)

happyfeet2000 writes: Broad pirate sites blockades are disproportional, Mexico's Supreme Court of Justice has ruled. The Government can't order ISPs to block websites that link to copyright-infringing material because that would also restrict access to legitimate content and violate the public's freedom of expression. The ruling is a win for local ISP Alestra, which successfully protested the Government's blocking efforts.

Submission + - US ISP Goes Down as Two Malware Families Go to War Over Its Modems (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Two malware families battling for turf are most likely the cause of an outage suffered by Californian ISP Sierra Tel at the beginning of the month, on April 10. The attack, which the company claimed it was a "malicious hacking event," was the work of BrickerBot, an IoT malware family that bricks unsecured IoT and networking devices.

"BrickerBot was active on the Sierra Tel network at the time their customers reported issues," Janit0r told Bleeping Computer in an email, "but their modems had also just been mass-infected with malware, so it's possible some of the network problems were caused by this concomitant activity."

The crook, going by Janit0r, tried to pin some of the blame on Mirai, but all the clues point to BrickerBot, as Sierra Tel had to replace bricked modems altogether, or ask customers to bring in their modems at their offices to have it reset and reinstalled. Mirai brought down over 900,000 Deutsche Telekom modems last year, but that outage was fixed within hours with a firmware update. All the Sierra Tel modems bricked in this incident were Zyxel HN-51 models, and it took Sierra Tel almost two weeks to fix all bricked devices.

Submission + - Are accurate software development time predictions a myth? (medium.com)

DuroSoft writes: For myself and the vast majority of people I have talked to, this is the case. Any attempts we make to estimate the amount of time software development tasks will take inevitably end in folly. Do you find you can make accurate estimates, or is it really the case, as the author suggests, that "writing and maintaining code can be seen as a fundamentally chaotic activity, subject to sudden, unpredictable gotchas that take up an inordinate amount of time" and that therefore attempting to make predictions in the first place is itself a waste of our valuable time?

Submission + - Oregon fines man for writing a complaint email stating "I am an engineer..." (vice.com) 2

pogopop77 writes: In September 2014, Mats Järlström, an electronics engineer living in Beaverton, Oregon, sent an email to the state's engineering board. The email claimed that yellow traffic lights don't last long enough, which "puts the public at risk." "I would like to present these facts for your review and comments," he wrote. This email resulted not with a meeting, but with a threat from The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying stating "ORS 672.020(1) prohibits the practice of engineering in Oregon without registration — at a minimum, your use of the title 'electronics engineer' and the statement 'I'm an engineer' create violations." In January of this year, Järlström was officially fined $500 by the state for the crime of "practicing engineering without being registered."

Submission + - Caterpillars Munch Plastic Bags. An Insect Solution to the Problem of Landills. (sciencemag.org)

Yergle143 writes: We live in an age of plastic. Finding uses at every level of human enterprise and industry, our plastic polymer refuse will be the unmistakable signature of our civilization. The chemically inert nature of plastics is the feature that makes recycling difficult. Someday enriched deposits of Prell bottles and Saran Wrap may decorate a geologic layer that defines us as clearly as the calcium carbonate exoskeleton of extinct bivalves. As reported in the Journal Current Biology a serendipitous discovery may form the basis for a biological remedy to our plastic waste problem. While purging empty bee hives of an infestation by the larvae of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonell) who dine on beeswax, researchers at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain, found that caterpillars that had been placed in a an ordinary plastic grocery bag were able to rapidly eat their way out. They report that these voracious wax worms, due to the action of their own suite of enzymes or that of their microflora, can breakdown polyethylene to polyethylene glycol, a substance found in antifreeze and one that is easily metabolized. While other reports on the bioremediation of polyethylene plastics have appeared, the wax worm seems to exhibit a special processivity for this intractable polymeric material. Is our age of plastic at wax?

Submission + - How Online Shopping Makes Suckers of Us All (theatlantic.com)

Thelasko writes: Will you pay more for those shoes before 7 p.m.? Would the price tag be different if you lived in the suburbs? Standard prices and simple discounts are giving way to far more exotic strategies, designed to extract every last dollar from the consumer.

Submission + - Neuroscientists offer a reality check on Facebook's "typing by brain" project (ieee.org)

the_newsbeagle writes: Yesterday Facebook announced that it's working on a "typing by brain" project, promising a non-invasive technology that can decode signals from the brain's speech center and translate them directly to text (see the video beginning at 1:18:00). What's more, Facebook exec Regina Dugan said, the technology will achieve a typing rate of 100 words per minute.

Here, a few neuroscientists are asked: Is such a thing remotely feasible? One neuroscientist points out that his team set the current speed record for brain-typing earlier this year: They enabled a paralyzed man to type 8 words per minute, and that was using an invasive brain implant that could get high-fidelity signals from neurons. To date, all non-invasive methods that read brain signals through the scalp and skull have performed much worse.

Submission + - SPAM: Toyota is testing heavy-duty hydrogen trucks at the Port of Long Beach

randomErr writes: Toyota is powering an 80,000 lbs (36,288kg) Class-8 tractor-trailer combo using a development fuel cell drivetrain from two small Toyota Mirai sedans.Toyota's future-trucking idearesides at California's Port of Long Beach, where 18,630 shipping container units get processed per day. Two years ago, Toyota began secretly testing a hydrogen fuel cell system alternative to the conventional diesel powertrain for heavy Class-8 trucks. Called "Project Portal," this system is intended for drayage (short-haul movements), shuttling shipping containers between Los Angeles and Long Beach ports plus other freight depots.Though other companies have researched either electric or fuel cell heavy-duty trucking—Mercedes placed medium-duty trucks in controlled fleets this year in Europe, for example—none have pulled the fuel cell trigger in the US.

Submission + - F-16 Jets Converted to Fly as Wing-men Drones (businessinsider.com)

Zmobie writes: In a new program the US Air Force has converted and tested F-16 planes as drones able to fly with complex mission parameters. The program is designed to use retiring F-16 jets to act as autonomous wing-men for manned F-35 jets and fly their own strike missions. From the Article: "The US has used F-16 drones before as realistic targets for the F-35 to blow up in training, but on Monday it announced fully autonomous air-to-air and ground strike capabilities as a new capability thanks to joint research between the service and Lockheed Martin's legendary Skunkworks.... But having F-16 drones plan and fly their own missions is only part of a much larger picture. The future of the US Air Force may well depend on advanced platforms like F-35s commanding fleets of unmanned drones which can act as additional ears, eyes, and shooters in the sky during battles."

Submission + - Scientists capture first image of dark matter web (inhabitat.com) 1

Kristine Lofgren writes: Scientists have long suspected that the universe is woven together by a vast cosmic connector but, until now, they couldn't prove it. Now, for the first time ever, scientists have captured an image of a dark matter bridge, confirming the theory that galaxies are held together by a cosmic web. Using a technique called weak gravitational lensing, researchers were able to identify distortions of distant galaxies as they are influenced by a large, unseen mass — in this case, a web of dark matter.

Submission + - The War on Science: Forensics (washingtonpost.com)

hondo77 writes: Thought the Trump Administration's War on Science(tm) was just about climate change? Think again. "Attorney General Jeff Sessions will end a Justice Department partnership with independent scientists to raise forensic science standards and has suspended an expanded review of FBI testimony across several techniques that have come under question, saying a new strategy will be set by an in-house team of law enforcement advisers." The National Commission on Forensic Science, "jointly led by Justice and the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has prompted several changes," including "new accrediting and ethical codes for forensic labs and practitioners" and the FBI abandoning "its four-decade-long practice of tracing bullets to a specific manufacturer’s batch through chemical analyses after its method were scientifically debunked."

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