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08-26-2016 Environment
Rescuers in desperate search for survivors as Italy quake toll hits 241

Saletta, Italy (CNN)Rescuers are combing through mountains of rubble in central Italy for a second day Thursday, hoping to find more survivors following a devastating earthquake that has claimed at least 241 lives.

The 6.2-magnitude quake that struck near the town of Amatrice northeast of Rome early Wednesday has reduced entire villages to rubble, blocking off narrow streets in ancient towns and making the rescue operation difficult.

An earlier report of 252 fatalities was revised to 241 after officials said victims in one town were counted twice. With heavy lifting equipment just starting to reach isolated villages and towns that were cut off by landslides and building debris, people used tractors, farm equipment and simple hand tools to break through what was left of old stone villas.

"Many cases have shown in the past that even after two days, people can be rescued alive," said Luigi D'Angelo from Italy's Civil Protection Department. "So we want to continue." CNN correspondent Frederik Pleitgen saw machinery moving in through the narrow lanes and rescuers using sniffer dogs to help find more bodies.

But crews were also using sound detectors, hoping to find more survivors. "They know right now it's a race against time. They believe it's about 72 hours those people would be able to survive," he said. "In most cases, unfortunately, the only thing they're able to retrieve is their bodies and that's one of the reasons why we've seen the death toll rise so much overnight." The rescuers, which include foreign crews, are also working through aftershocks -- even one as powerful as a magnitude 5.5.

Little girl rescued After mostly pulling bodies from the rubble, rescue crews in Pescara del Tronto were overjoyed to hear what sounded like the cries of a survivor. "Quiet! Quiet" they said, getting closer to the source of sound.

A 10-year-old girl is rescued from the debris of a collapsed building in Pescara del Tronto. The scene was captured on video by CNN affiliate Sky TG24. A firefighter clawed at the debris, trying to get to a young girl. "Come on... Come on. Slowly, slowly. Mind her head," they say to one another as onlookers applaud in support.

Suddenly there was a foot, a leg, and then the other leg. The young girl, later identified as 10-year-old Giorgia, was finally pulled out with great care to a rousing cheer. "She's alive!" a witness joyously cries.

No happy stories here But Giorgia's survival is sadly an anomaly so far in the massive rescue operation, which involves more than 5,400 rescuers from Italy's Civil Protection agency, and many more from outside groups. In Saletta, a town of just 20 homes less than a mile from the quake's epicenter, an eerie quiet now permeates.

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Source: CNN

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08-26-2016 Science&Technology
Apple Weighs iPhone Video Editing App in Renewed Push on Social

Apple Inc., seeking to capitalize on the popularity of social networks, is developing a video sharing and editing application and is testing new related features for its iPhone and iPad operating systems. The early plans are part of a newly directed focus to integrate social networking applications within Apple’s mobile products and are a response to the success of social media-focused companies such as Facebook Inc. and Snapchat Inc., according to people familiar with Apple’s strategy. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. The growth of Apple’s hardware business is slowing and Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is looking to the company’s services business, such as the App Store and iCloud storage, as a way to generate increased revenue. Apple has failed to successfully launch social-media services in the past, including an iTunes-focused social network called Ping in 2010. Now as Snapchat and Facebook’s Instagram and Messenger apps grow atop Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, Apple is seeking to create its own features to remain relevant, particularly for younger users. Social media’s importance can be seen in the amount of time people spend with the apps. For example, Facebook’s mobile users are on its News Feed, Instagram and Messenger an average of 50 minutes a day, while Snapchat’s 150 million daily active users spend an average of 30 minutes per day with the photo- and video-sharing app. Of the top 10 free third-party iPhone apps in the App Store, Facebook owns three, while Snapchat owns two.

Video Sharing The company’s upcoming update of its mobile operating system, which will run on recent iPhone and iPad models, will include an overhauled messaging application aimed squarely at Facebook’s Messenger and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat. The updated iMessage, which Apple announced in June, will include new animated effects like balloons and fireworks to illustrate text messages, an App Store with plug-ins for sending animated images and stickers, and tools to draw on top of photos and videos. Now Apple is starting to develop a video sharing app that allows users to record video, apply filters and drawings to the media -- much like Snapchat does -- and send it to contacts or via existing social networks such as Twitter Inc., according to the people familiar with its development. The software is currently being designed to be used mostly with one hand and with the intention that video could be shot, edited, and uploaded in less than 1 minute, the people said. At least one of the prototype designs for the app would shoot video in an Instagram-like square shape, one of the people said.

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Source: Bloomberg

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08-26-2016 Science&Technology
WhatsApp plans to let businesses on to its service before the end of the year

WhatsApp will finally take a step to becoming a platform after the Facebook-owned company revealed it will begin to integrate businesses services into its app before the end of this year.

The company first announced plans to connect its userbase — which stands at more than one billion — with businesses back in January, and it today it updated its terms of service in preparation for testing with selected users “in the months ahead.”

What kind of dialogue will WhatsApp facilitate between users and businesses?

The aim is to keep things useful, such as flight notifications, receipts or delivery tracking, although marketing messages are mentioned in the newest version of the company’s T&Cs:

We will explore ways for you and businesses to communicate with each other using WhatsApp, such as through order, transaction, and appointment information, delivery and shipping notifications, product and service updates, and marketing. For example, you may receive flight status information for upcoming travel, a receipt for something you purchased, or a notification when a delivery will be made. Messages you may receive containing marketing could include an offer for something that might interest you. We do not want you to have a spammy experience; as with all of your messages, you can manage these communications, and we will honor the choices you make.

The move is a very notable one given that WhatsApp has always taken a very aggressive ‘no spam’ approach to its business. “Marketing” messages and “an offer for something that might interest you” could fall into the category of spam if not done right, context is key here.

Back in 2012, CEO and co-founder Jan Koum threw shade a number of rival messaging companies which he claimed were “selling” ads to their users:

No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow. We know people go to sleep excited about who they chatted with that day (and disappointed about who they didn’t). We want WhatsApp to be the product that keeps you awake… and that you reach for in the morning. No one jumps up from a nap and runs to see an advertisement.

Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought. At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data, upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it’s all being logged and collated and sliced and packaged and shipped out… And at the end of the day the result of it all is a slightly different advertising banner in your browser or on your mobile screen.

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Source: Tech Crunch

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08-26-2016 Science&Technology
Closest potentially habitable planet to our solar system found

CNN)In a discovery that has been years in the making, researchers have confirmed the existence of a rocky planet named Proxima b orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our sun, according to a new study. It is the closest exoplanet to us in the universe.

Given the fact that Proxima b is within the habitable zone of its star, meaning liquid water could exist on the surface, it may also be the closest possible home for life outside of our solar system, the researchers said. Because of its location, the researchers hope it provides an opportunity for possible "robotic exploration in the coming centuries."

"The good news is that it is so close," study author Ansgar Reiners said. "It is not only nice for having it in our neighborhood, but it's a dream come true for astronomers if we think about follow-up observation."

Proxima Centauri coexists with a binary star in Alpha Centauri, a well-studied star system that serves as a neighbor to our sun. Proxima b is a mere 4.2 light-years away from our solar system, or 266,000 times the distance between the Earth and the sun, which are 92.96 million miles apart. Previous rocky exoplanet discoveries, like those orbiting ultracool red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, were previously described as "close" at 40 light-years away. "It's not only the closest terrestrial planet found, it's probably the closest planet outside our solar system that will ever be found because there is no star closer to the solar system than this one," said lead study author Guillem Anglada-Escudé. "The only thing you can hope to find between that is Planet Nine, but that would (require) a solar system object or a brown dwarf that hasn't been discovered," researcher Pedro Amado added. Here is what we know about the planet, as well as the questions that researchers hope to be able to answer.

Meet Proxima b Proxima b is a rocky, terrestrial planet with a surface -- unlike a gas giant, such as Jupiter -- that is 1.3 times the size of Earth and orbits its star every 11.2 days. It is in a close orbit of Proxima Centauri: only 5% of the distance between the Earth and the sun. They are even closer together than Mercury and the sun. But because its star is much cooler and fainter than our sun, Proxima b has a temperature that is suitable for liquid water to exist on the surface without evaporating. Researchers estimate that if the planet has an atmosphere, which could be assumed but isn't known, it may be between 86 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (31 to 40 degrees Celsius) on the surface. Without an atmosphere, it could be -22 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 to -40 degrees Celsius). To put that in perspective, Earth would be -4 degrees (-20 degrees Celsius) if it didn't have an atmosphere, Reiners said.

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Source: CNN

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08-26-2016 Cars
All-new Honda NSX goes on sale in Japan

Honda Motor Co today began accepting applications in Japan for custom orders of the all-new NSX supercar, which underwent a full redesign for the first time in 26 years since the introduction of the original NSX.

Customer deliveries will begin in Japan on February 27, 2017. The company is targeting sales of 100 units of the car, priced at 23,700,000 yen (Rs 1.23 crore). The all-new NSX inherits the ‘human-centered supercar’ concept proposed by the original NSX, which was developed as a supercar with incredible performance, yet one that anyone can drive comfortably.

The car integrates Honda’s original and advanced electrification technologies. The Japanese carmaker says Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (Sport Hybrid SH-AWD) is adopted “to pursue the new joy of driving made possible by a high-level response and handling performance that are difficult to be achieved solely by an engine.”

Sport Hybrid SH-AWD combines an all-new mid-mounted, direct-injected and twin-turbocharged V6 engine with a high-output rear direct drive motor and 9-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) and front-mounted Twin Motor Unit with independent, electrically powered left- and right-wheel torque vectoring.

Furthermore, adoption of the Integrated Dynamic System, with four driving modes from which the drive can select the most appropriate set of vehicle characteristics depending on the driving environment, makes the all-new NSX a supercar that can be enjoyed in a broader range of environments, from everyday driving to sporty driving at a racing circuit. Other highlights of the new NSX include: Lightweight yet rigid body: The multi-material space frame, which is made mostly of high-rigidity extruded aluminum was developed for the all-new NSX. It sees the world’s first automotive application of new ablation casting technology and a three-dimensionally bent and quenched (3DQ) ultra-high-strength steel tube front pillar to realise lightweight, high-rigidity, high space efficiency and excellent collision safety. Excellent dynamic performance: Combined with 19-inch front tyres, 20-inch rear tyres and forged aluminium wheels, the fully independent, all-aluminium front and rear suspensions demonstrate extremely high dynamic performance. Front 6-pot and rear 4-pot monoblock calipers and carbon ceramic brake discs offer braking force with powerful yet natural feel.

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Source: Autocar Professional

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08-26-2016 Science&Technology
Google’s New Android Brings a Much Needed Change

Real multitasking has finally come to stock Android — and it's about time

Thanks in part to Samsung’s Galaxy Note lineup and Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus, large-screened phones are becoming more popular than ever. Time spent on these large phones, sometimes called “phablets,” grew by 334% year-over-year in 2015, according to data from Flurry Analytics.

Still, few phone makers other than Samsung have made good use of these larger devices. Google is hoping to change this with its newest version of Android. Called 7.0 Nougat, it notably features the ability to view apps in a split-screen mode. The software update, which Google began pushing out to certain Nexus devices this week, makes it possible for Android users to interact with more than one app simultaneously.

That’s beneficial because it reduces the need to skip around from app to app. Let’s say you’re making edits to a work-related document in Google Drive while chatting about the changes with your boss. With split-screen, you can have your document and email open and displayed on screen at the same time, making it easier to multitask. As Google pushes for Android to work on screens of all sizes, it’s promising to see the company refine how Android works on larger devices.

Still, some Android fans may find the functionality familiar. Certain Samsung phones have been offering split-screen modes since as far back as 2011. Users of LG’s G2, which launched in 2013, could open apps in floating windows on the home screen. But a split-screen view has never been part of Google’s core Android software — meaning you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the feature unless you purchased a phone whose manufacturer added the capability. Google’s latest version of Android should change this, making split-screen more widespread.

How does split-screen view in Android 7.0 Nougat work? Pretty much the same way it does on Samsung’s Note phones. On the Nexus 6P, I was able to launch two apps by tapping the recent apps button, pressing and holding down on the title bar of the app I wanted to view in split-screen mode, and dragging that app to the top or bottom of the screen. Like Samsung’s multi-window mode, Google’s version also allows you to adjust the amount of space one app occupies on screen over the other.

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Source: Time

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08-26-2016 Cars
Reporter’s Notebook: Testing Out the World’s First Self-Driving Taxi

SINGAPORE—As my chatty human cabdriver dropped me off in the business district of one-north, I wondered whether it would be cruel to tell him why I was there: to test the world’s first publicly available self-driving taxi.

In this campuslike area not far from the center of Singapore, driverless software company nuTonomy began running its first road tests with members of the public on Thursday.

The roads in one-north, an area dominated by tech startups and biotechnology companies, are quieter than in other parts in the city. That makes it a natural place to test autonomous vehicles, such as the one operated by nuTonomy, a Singapore-registered company founded by two researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

While nuTonomy’s vehicle has high-tech computers inside, it doesn’t look like it’s from an episode of Star Trek, nor does it have the polish of a car from Tesla Motors Inc. In the rear of the vehicle, drill holes for the computer systems have been patched and it’s otherwise a standard compact electric car. The company’s logo is emblazoned on the side.

The nuTonomy vehicle has sensors on all corners, a rooftop camera and another camera and laser where the rearview mirror would be in any ordinary vehicle. The company has permission from the Singapore government to use its test vehicle anywhere within one-north. It is programmed to navigate various routes around the area—the longest of which is just under 4 miles—and pick up passengers from places where it is safe to stop.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car I tested was silent as it started off. It felt safe, but overly cautious, much like a new driver still figuring out how hard to press the accelerator.

A bank of computers is packed into the back, monitored by one of nuTonomy’s army of Ph.D.s, who communicate verbally with a backup driver in the front to compare what the computer sees with what is really going on outside. If the driver needs to take control, she can hit one of two bright red stop buttons or put the car back in manual mode using a control panel above the dashboard. A screen showing a digital street map is below this control panel, showing our location and objects the computer sees around it.

Doug Parker, nuTonomy’s chief operating officer, said that earlier tests with the vehicle had encountered unusual scenarios that the software had to cope with, such as illegally parked delivery vehicles, school buses letting off kids and a man in a chicken suit promoting Nando’s grilled chicken to crowds on the side of the road.

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Source: The Wall Street Journal

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08-26-2016 Health
Genomic risk test may guide use of chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer

A 70-gene signature test identified a substantial portion of women with early-stage breast cancer who safely avoid chemotherapy, according to phase 3 study results published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Treatment of early-stage breast cancer frequently involves adjuvant systemic therapy platforms, including chemotherapy, endocrine therapy and HER-2–targeted therapies. However, algorithms to aid in treatment decisions do not account for individual biological tumor characteristics, which may lead to overtreatment.

Gene-expression studies have identified molecularly distinct breast cancer subtypes and may potentially be used to direct treatment.

Fatima Cardoso, MD, director of the breast unit at Champalimaud Clinical Center in Lisbon, Portugal, and colleagues sought to determine whether a 70-gene signature (MammaPrint, Agendia) could be used to select patients for adjuvant chemotherapy.

Cardoso and colleagues conducted an international, prospective randomized trial of 6,693 women (median age, 55 years; range, 23-71) with early-stage breast cancer.

The researchers used MammaPrint to determine patients’ genomic risk, in addition to a modified version of Adjuvant! Online to determine clinical risk.

Women with high genomic and clinical risk factors were offered chemotherapy; women at low genomic and clinical risk were not.

Women with discordant results — a high clinical risk with low genomic risk, or vice versa — were randomly assigned to chemotherapy or no chemotherapy based on either result.

Survival without distant metastasis at 5 years served as the primary endpoint. The researchers evaluated whether women with high-risk clinical features but low-risk genomic features could achieve a noninferior rate of 5-year survival without distant metastasis, based on a lower boundary of the 95% CI of 92% or higher.

A total of 1,550 patients (23.2% of the overall cohort) had a low genomic risk profile with a high clinical risk factor, of whom 1,497 underwent randomization (chemotherapy, n = 749; no chemotherapy, n = 748).

Among patients who did not receive chemotherapy, 94.7% (95% CI, 92.5-96.2) achieved 5-year survival without distant metastasis, exceeding the study’s noninferiority threshold.

The rate of 5-year survival without distant metastasis was 95.9% (95% CI, 94-97.2) among patients assigned chemotherapy based on clinical risk, compared with 94.4% (95% CI, 92.3-95.9) among patients who did not receive chemotherapy based on genomic risk. This corresponded with an absolute difference of 1.5 percentage points (adjusted HR = 0.78; 95% CI, 0.5-1.21).

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Source: Healio

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08-25-2016 Environment
Powerful Earthquakes in Italy Kill Dozens and Shatter Towns

AMATRICE, Italy — Strong earthquakes struck a mountainous stretch of central Italy early Wednesday, killing at least 38 people, trapping scores under debris and setting off tremors that awakened residents in Rome, nearly 100 miles to the southwest.

The first, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake, struck at 3:36 a.m., about 6.5 miles southeast of the town of Norcia in the Umbria region, followed by about 40 quakes over the next three hours, including a 5.5-magnitude temblor at 4:33 a.m.

The death toll, reported by the Italian news media, was almost certain to rise, given that scores of people remained unaccounted for. The authorities said the first quake was comparable in intensity to a 2009 earthquake in the Abruzzo region of central Italy that killed more than 300 people.

Towns across three regions — Umbria, Lazio and Marche — were devastated by the quakes, which could be felt as far away as Bologna in the north and Naples in the south. The towns of Accumoli, Amatrice, Arquata del Tronto and Pescara del Tronto were reported to be among the most heavily damaged.

“Half the town no longer exists,” said the mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, who added that rescue teams were digging through the rubble, “hoping that most people were alive.” The historic center of the town, with buildings dating to the Middle Ages, had been destroyed.

“The problem is removing people from under the rubble,” he said. Asked how many people he thought were still trapped or dead underneath debris, he said, “many, many.”

Mr. Pirozzi added that Amatrice had been cut off because of damage to roads and a bridge, and in a live television broadcast, he appealed for assistance.

Continue reading the main story The town’s missing reportedly included two refugees from Afghanistan and three nuns and four elderly guests at a local boardinghouse. The town’s hospital had to be evacuated, but its patients were not injured, the news service ANSA reported.

The village of Pescara del Tronto was all but destroyed.

“When I arrived at the break of day, I saw a destroyed village, screams, death,” Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole of Ascoli Piceno, who visited the village, told Vatican Radio. He said he had blessed “the bodies of two children buried under the rubble.”

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, in brief remarks from Rome, said he would head toward the epicenter of the quake later on Wednesday. He thanked rescue workers and volunteers who had dug through debris, some with their bare hands, to reach trapped people, and he said the nation had rallied to help. “No family, no city, no hamlet will be left alone,” he said.

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Source: The New York Times

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08-25-2016 Politics
Inside Donald Trump’s new strategy to counter the view of many that he is ‘racist’

Donald Trump is rapidly trying to turn around his presidential campaign with a vigorous and at times strained effort to shed a label applied to him by a substantial portion of the electorate: racist.

Guided by his new campaign leadership, the Republican nominee has ordered a full-fledged strategy to court black and Latino voters and is mobilizing scores of minority figures to advocate publicly for his candidacy.

Trump is planning trips to urban areas — with stops at churches, charter schools and small businesses in black and Latino communities — and is developing an empowerment agenda based on the economy and education, aides said. Under consideration is an early September visit to Detroit, where retired neurosurgeon and former Republican primary rival Ben Carson would guide him on a tour of the impoverished neighborhoods where he grew up.

Trump’s team also hopes to exploit what the campaign’s internal poll of black voters nationally shows to be a potential vulnerability for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton once voters are informed of the crime policy record of former president Bill Clinton, according to two Trump associates.

At his rallies, meanwhile, Trump has been spotlighting black supporters and making a blunt pitch to minorities. He has described blacks in sweeping and categorical language, suggesting that they are mired in poverty, living in dangerous neighborhoods and have nothing to lose by giving him a chance. He also has changed his tone on immigration by saying he would swiftly deport “the bad ones” living in the country illegally but would use the existing legal process for others — after vowing for more than a year that he would deport them all.

Asked Tuesday whether he might change his hard-line deportation policy to accommodate immigrants who contribute positively to society, Trump told Fox News Channel anchor Sean Hannity, “There certainly can be a softening because we’re not looking to hurt people.” For Trump, the objective is twofold, according to his aides and allies. He wants to make inroads with minority voters, who polls show overwhelmingly support Clinton. He also believes that a more measured approach on race can convince white voters now shunning him — especially women — that he is not the racist that his inflammatory rhetoric might indicate.

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Source: Washington Post

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08-25-2016 Science&Technology
A look inside Hyperloop One’s wildly fast future

What’s really going on at Hyperloop One – the futuristic transportation system proposing to shoot humans from point A to B at 750 miles-per-hour?

The startup changed its name from Hyperloop Transportation to Hyperloop One and began testing in the Nevada desert this spring; announced $80 million in Series B funding; suffered an executive leadership shake-up and the former co-founder filed a lawsuit; HO then filed a countersuit; built a demo plant; and announced a possible major shipping operation out of several key areas across the globe, including with a major Russian investment group in Moscow and in Dubai with DP World – the third largest global shipping company on the planet.

Oh and we’re going to hear from investor and Hyperloop One co-founder Shervin Pishevar on stage at Disrupt in a few weeks.

Naturally, we thought it was time to see for ourselves just how close the technology behind the proposed hyperloop is to reality.

Co-founder (and ex-SpaceX engineer) Josh Giegel gave us a sneak peek at what the startup is working on at headquarters. What we saw is something that puts us on the brink of what is sure to change our world and the way we live in the very near future if HO can get its system up to speed.

Check it out for yourselves in the video above to see the beginnings of what may soon be the thing to ship us and all the goods we’ve ordered on Amazon around the world in less than a day.

Source: Tech Crunch

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08-25-2016 Science&Technology
NASA Regains Contact With 'Dead' Solar Mission

NASA has finally re-established contact with a sun-watching probe that was thought to be lost in space after it abruptly went silent in 2014.

A signal from the long-lost spacecraft, called STEREO-B, was detected Sunday evening (Aug. 21) by NASA's Deep Space Network, a collection of space tracking stations that follows the agency's space missions across the solar system and beyond. NASA scientists had kept vigil for STEREO-B, making monthly searches for the probe until it phoned home Sunday at 6:57 p.m. EDT (2257 GMT).

Right now, it's unclear how healthy the spacecraft is after drifting in space for nearly two years. NASA lost contact with it on Oct. 1, 2014, after commanding a reset from Earth. The spacecraft's twin, STEREO-A, is still working normally. [Watch: The Sun Spits Solar Fire at STEREO-B]

"The STEREO Missions Operations team plans further recovery processes to assess observatory health, re-establish attitude control, and evaluate all subsystems and instruments," NASA officials wrote in a statement.

The STEREO spacecraft twins (their name is short for Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory) were launched in October 2006 and were originally supposed to last until 2008. With an extended mission, however, came challenges. For example, the orbits of both STEREO spacecraft went behind the sun in 2015, for three months each.

STEREO-B was initially lost when NASA was testing a command loss timer, which is a reset triggered during solar conjunction. Conjunction was expected to happen between January and March 2015, when STEREO-B's orbit took it behind the sun, putting it out of contact with Earth.Both STEREO spacecraft have a command loss timer that resets the spacecraft every 72 hours when it is not communicating with Earth. In 2014, controllers deliberately stopped communicating with STEREO-A to test this process, and it worked perfectly after reorienting itself with respect to certain guide stars, and sending a signal to Earth.

With STEREO-B, however, the test did not play out as planned. The hard reset did occur, and STEREO-B sent a weak signal to Earth. But the spacecraft quickly faded into silence.

Only a few packets of data made it to Earth, but from that, the team concluded in December 2015 that the inertial measurement unit (which tells the spacecraft if it is rotating, and how fast) gave incorrect information into STEREO-B's guidance computer. At the time, NASA concluded that this set the spacecraft into a spin that left its solar panels out of sunlight most of the time, making it difficult to recharge the battery.

The team could have easily fixed the issue if STEREO-B had remained in contact, but at the time, the contact was too brief to take action, NASA added in 2015.

NASA said in a statement at the time that this meant that "the spacecraft is drifting in space with incorrect information about how it's moving — a big problem for a spacecraft that needs to keep itself pointed at the sun to stay powered

Source: Nasa

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08-18-2016 Politics
The Daily 202: What Trump’s latest shakeup says about his flailing campaign

THE BIG IDEA: Shaking up his campaign once again, Donald Trump has decided to let Trump be Trump.

The Republican nominee knows he’s losing. Congenitally unable to take personal responsibility, he blames his slide in the polls on the people who have prodded him to act “presidential” and wage a more traditional campaign.

In a 5:38 a.m. press release, Trump announced that Stephen Bannon, who got rich on Wall Street but has never worked on a race before, will take a leave of absence from running to become the campaign’s “chief executive.” Pollster Kellyanne Conway, who worked for Ted Cruz’s super PAC during the primaries but has been friendly with Trump for years, will become campaign manager.

Paul Manafort will retain his titles as campaign chairman and chief strategist, but Trump advisers told Robert Costa overnight that his status has diminished internally due to the candidate’s unhappiness and restlessness in recent weeks. The aides told Costa that Trump has grown to feel “boxed in” and "controlled" by people who barely know him.

Trump plans to re-double his focus on holding big rallies and doing lots of TV hits. He’ll also more aggressively attack Hillary Clinton, to the extent that’s possible, and he’ll re-embrace his role as an outsider, making less of an effort to be nice to GOP greybeards.

During the primaries, when Trump was winning, then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski always said "let Trump be Trump." He now wants to get back to that type of campaign culture. The moves send “a signal, perhaps more clear than ever, that the real-estate mogul intends to finish this race on his own terms, with friends who share his instincts at his side,” Costa writes.

-- This is another proof point that Trump is not trying to run the kind of serious campaign that can actually win the presidency. That’s why it will frighten the GOP establishment, scare off some mainstream donors who have been playing footsie with the billionaire and push congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell a little closer to cutting Trump loose – maybe even before Labor Day. (Bannon’s site single-mindedly went after Paul Ryan in the run-up to his primary.)

-- Both of the newly-elevated advisers are conservative populists who will never discourage Trump from following his id. It’s hard for a 70-year-old man to change his ways, especially this one. Donald’s id demands instant gratification more than most people’s, and he’s long struggled to control his impulsiveness.

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Source: Washington Post

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08-17-2016 Science&Technology
Google's Hangouts still has a future: as an enterprise communication app

Share on Facebook (31) Tweet Share (7) Pin (1) Today, Google launched Duo, its new mobile-only video chat app. But that's only half of Google’s new messaging equation. The other half is Allo, its AI-enhanced texting app. Allo isn't available yet, even though Duo is a "companion app" to it. Google's VP for communications Nick Fox says that the two apps are being developed on different timelines and that it will be released in time.

Thing is, Google already has a messaging solution that handles both text and video chat — it's called Hangouts, and it's become the butt of many a joke about how moribund it has become. After launching with a lot of high-minded promises and ideas about the future of mobile communication, meaningful product development seems to have stalled out. Even so, Allo and Duo are not replacing Hangouts, which makes you wonder: what's next for Hangouts?

The answer is simple: business.

That's what Fox told me before diving into the product briefing for Duo. Google, he says, places its messaging goals into three buckets. And understanding them goes a long ways towards making sense of Google's "try everything" messaging strategy.


The first bucket is the one we're most familiar with: consumer services. This is squarely where Allo and Duo will sit. They're focused on end users, designed with simplicity in mind, and there's an attempt to add some "humanness" to them, in Fox's terms.

The second bucket: carrier services. This is where Google does a few different things. It makes the messaging app for SMS and RCS (Rich Text Services, the next-gen SMS), provides RCS services to carriers with its recently-acquired Jive software, and finally makes the phone app. "We don't think of the Phone app as a Google product as much as we think of it as a manifestation — hopefully a great manifestation — of the carrier's phone [...] calling service," says Fox. "Same thing with the SMS/RCS app," he adds.

That leaves the third bucket, the enterprise. And Fox says that's "where Hangouts will increasingly focus over time." Though he insists that Google "won't abandon consumer users in Hangouts, obviously," he does feel that apps do better with focus. That's a big reason why Duo is so heavily focused on phones, and a parallel focus on big business will apparently apply to Hangouts.

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Source: The Verge

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08-15-2016 Science&Technology
Microsoft Research working on the ultimate wearable: a tattoo to control devices remotely

Technology is evolving day by day; researchers are working to make your phone's battery last forever, developing chip architectures to allow multi-core phones and PCs to run up to 18 times faster, and are even promising a future where Pokémon GO is much more believable.

Now, PhD students from the MIT Media Lab, in collaboration with Microsoft Research, are working to develop a temporary skin tattoo that can allow users to interact with connected interfaces, remotely control a smartphone, act as a touchpad, and even share data via NFC.

The technology has been dubbed as "DuoSkin", and is described as follows:

DuoSkin is a fabrication process that enables anyone to create customized functional devices that can be attached directly on their skin. Using gold metal leaf, a material that is cheap, skin-friendly, and robust for everyday wear, we demonstrate three types of on-skin interfaces: sensing touch input, displaying output, and wireless communication.

DuoSkin draws from the aesthetics found in metallic jewelry-like temporary tattoos to create on-skin devices which resemble jewelry. DuoSkin devices enable users to control their mobile devices, display information, and store information on their skin while serving as a statement of personal style.

We believe that in the future, on-skin electronics will no longer be black-boxed and mystified; instead, they will converge towards the user friendliness, extensibility, and aesthetics of body decorations, forming a DuoSkin integrated to the extent that it has seemingly disappeared. The researchers involved are endeavoring to have at least three classes of on-skin interfaces, namely input, output and communication. Their work, if successful, will allow users to interact with DuoSkin using buttons, sliders and 2D trackpads. The technology, in return, also has the ability to output soft colored displays on the skin. In addition, MIT has also noted that DuoSkin can make devices interact using NFC, in order to share data between connected gadgets.

It is important to remember that back in 2010, a Carnegie Mellon student also designed a similar gesture-based interface that could be utilized on the wrist or the back of the hand. The project named as "Skinput" was aided by Microsoft Research as well, but it turned out to be economically infeasible.

Source and image: MIT via The Verge

Source: Neowin

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08-15-2016 Science&Technology
Hacker posts personal info of House Democrats and staff

WASHINGTON — After receiving a deluge of obscene voicemails and text messages, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi informed her fellow Democrats on Saturday of “an electronic Watergate break-in” and warned them not to allow family members to answer their phones or read incoming texts.

The breach targeted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other Democratic Party entities, Pelosi said in a statement. As a result, a mix of personal and official information of Democratic members and hundreds of congressional staff, purportedly from a hack of the DCCC, was posted online, she said.

Pelosi said she is changing her phone number and advised her colleagues to do the same.

A hacker who calls himself Guccifer 2.0 took credit for posting the information Friday night. He had claimed responsibility for the recent hack of Democratic National Committee emails, which roiled the Democratic National Convention last month. While Guccifer 2.0 has described himself as a Romanian hacker and denies working for Russia, online investigators assert that he is linked to Russia.

President Barack Obama said in late July that Russia may have been behind the leak of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails. Obama, who noted that outside experts have blamed Russia for the leak, suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin may have reason to facilitate the attack.

“Anything’s possible,” Obama told NBC News when asked whether Moscow was trying to influence the presidential election.

The FBI, which is investigating, hasn’t publicly attributed the attack to Russia. But Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign has, implying that the goal was to benefit Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump has rejected the allegation, insisting Democrats were trying to “deflect the horror and stupidity” of the leak.

Two U.S. cybersecurity firms have said their analysis of computer breaches at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, showed detailed evidence that the intrusions were likely linked to Russian hackers. The internet domains and registrants used in the breach of computers used by the committee tied back to a Russian hacking group linked to that nation’s intelligence services. That same hacking group, known as “Fancy Bear,” was previously connected to the cyber breach at the Democratic National Committee.

Both firms, Fidelis Cybersecurity and ThreatConnect, said the hackers created a fake internet DCCC donation site. The registrant for the fake DCCC site was linked back to other web domains used by “Fancy Bear.

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Source: Washington Post

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