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Liquid Water on Mars? New Research Indicates Buried 'Lakes'

Slashdot - 18 hours 39 min ago
The existence of liquid water on Mars -- one of the more hotly debated matters about our cold, red neighbor -- is looking increasingly likely. From a report: New research published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy indicates there really is a buried reservoir of super-salty water near the south pole of the planet. Scientists say such a lake would significantly improve the likelihood that the red planet just might harbor microscopic life of its own. Some scientists remain unconvinced that what's been seen is liquid water, but the latest study adds weight to a tentative 2018 finding from radar maps of the planet's crust made by the Mars Express robot orbiter. That research suggested an underground "lake" of liquid water had pooled beneath frozen layers of sediment near the Martian south pole -- akin to the subglacial lakes detected beneath the Antarctic and the Greenland ice sheets on Earth. Earth's subglacial lakes are teeming with bacterial life, and similar life might survive in liquid reservoirs on Mars, scientists have speculated. "We are much more confident now," said Elena Pettinelli, a professor of geophysics at Italy's Roma Tre University, who led the latest research and the earlier study. "We did many more observations, and we processed the data completely differently." The planetary scientist and her team processed 134 observations of the region near the south pole with ground-penetrating radar from the Mars Express Orbiter between 2012 until 2019 -- more than four times as many as before, and covering a period of time more than twice as long. They then applied a new technique to the observation data that has been used to find lakes beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, as well as an older technique used in the 2018 study. Both methods indicate there is a "patchwork" of buried reservoirs of liquid in the region, Pettinelli said -- a large reservoir about 15 miles across, surrounded by several smaller patches up to 6 miles across.

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Categories: Technology

Flying camera drones, cuddly Echo gadgets... it's all a smoke screen for Amazon to lead you gently down the Sidewalk – and you'll probably like it

The Register - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 23:35
Right, we own cloud, shipping, what's next? The home

Analysis  You may not want one, but the idea of your own miniature security drone taking off when it senses someone trying to break into your house and doing a tour inside your property, relaying hi-res video to your phone, is so fantastically sci-fi that it’s hard to imagine it will soon be a real product.…

Categories: Technology

Uber Can Continue Operating In London After Winning Court Appeal

Slashdot - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 23:20
After losing its license to operate in London last November, deputy chief magistrate of Transport for London (TfL), Tanweer Ikram, granted Uber an 18-month license after winning their court appeal. "Despite their historical failings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV [private hire vehicle] operator's license," he concluded. Engadget reports: Uber's new licence runs for 18 months. It has "a number of conditions," according to TfL, that will allow the regulator to "closely monitor Uber's adherence to the regulations and to swiftly take action if they fail to meet the required standards." Jamie Heywood, Uber's regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, added: "This decision is a recognition of Uber's commitment to safety and we will continue to work constructively with TfL. There is nothing more important than the safety of the people who use the Uber app as we work together to keep London moving." The UK's App Drivers and Couriers Union (ACDU) has "cautiously" welcomed the court's decision, but believes London mayor Sadiq Khan should take further action and limit the number of licensed drivers on the platform. "Such reductions, achieved through attrition, are necessary to ensure Uber can comfortably meet its compliance obligations including worker rights whilst giving TfL the breathing space necessary so that it can comfortably meet its responsibilities to ensure that Uber drivers and the traveling public are protected," the union said in a press release.

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Categories: Technology

Ransomware Attacks Take On New Urgency Ahead of Vote

Slashdot - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 22:40
A Texas company that sells software that cities and states use to display results on election night was hit by ransomware last week, the latest of nearly a thousand such attacks over the past year against small towns, big cities and the contractors who run their voting systems. From a report: Many of the attacks are conducted by Russian criminal groups, some with shady ties to President Vladimir V. Putin's intelligence services. But the attack on Tyler Technologies, which continued on Friday night with efforts by outsiders to log into its clients' systems around the country, was particularly rattling less than 40 days before the election. While Tyler does not actually tally votes, it is used by election officials to aggregate and report them in at least 20 places around the country -- making it exactly the kind of soft target that the Department of Homeland Security, the F.B.I. and United States Cyber Command worry could be struck by anyone trying to sow chaos and uncertainty on election night. Tyler would not describe the attack in detail. It initially appeared to be an ordinary ransomware attack, in which data is made inaccessible unless the victim pays the ransom, usually in harder-to-trace cryptocurrencies. But then some of Tyler's clients -- the company would not say which ones -- saw outsiders trying to gain access to their systems on Friday night, raising fears that the attackers might be out for something more than just a quick profit. That has been the fear haunting federal officials for a year now: that in the days leading up to the election, or in its aftermath, ransomware groups will try to freeze voter registration data, election poll books or the computer systems of the secretaries of the state who certify election results. With only 37 days before the election, federal investigators still do not have a clear picture of whether the ransomware attacks clobbering American networks are purely criminal acts, seeking a quick payday, or Trojan horses for more nefarious Russian interference. But they have not had much success in stopping them. In just the first two weeks of September, another seven American government entities have been hit with ransomware and their data stolen. "The chance of a local government not being hit while attempting to manage the upcoming and already ridiculously messy election would seem to be very slim," said Brett Callow, a threat analyst at Emsisoft, a security firm.

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Categories: Technology

Healthcare Giant UHS Hit By Ransomware Attack, Sources Say

Slashdot - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 22:00
Universal Health Services, one of the largest healthcare providers in the U.S., has been hit by a ransomware attack. "Looks like another case of ransomware at over 400 hospital locations," writes Slashdot reader nickwinlund77. "They've had to go back to pen & paper for handling forms." TechCrunch reports: The attack hit UHS systems early on Sunday morning, according to two people with direct knowledge of the incident, locking computers and phone systems at several UHS facilities across the country, including in California and Florida. One of the people said the computer screens changed with text that referenced the "shadow universe," consistent with the Ryuk ransomware. "Everyone was told to turn off all the computers and not to turn them on again," the person said. "We were told it will be days before the computers are up again." It's not immediately known what impact the ransomware attack is having on patient care, or how widespread the issue is. UHS published a statement on Monday, saying its IT network "is currently offline, due to an IT security issue." "We implement extensive IT security protocols and are working diligently with our IT security partners to restore IT operations as quickly as possible. In the meantime, our facilities are using their established back-up processes including offline documentation methods. Patient care continues to be delivered safely and effectively," the statement said. "No patient or employee data appears to have been accessed, copied or otherwise compromised," it added.

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Categories: Technology

Apple's Battle With Epic Over Fortnite Could Reach Jury Trial Next July

Slashdot - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 21:17
Apple and Epic met in a virtual court hearing on Monday to debate whether Fortnite should be allowed to remain in Apple's App Store while the two fight an even bigger battle over whether Apple is violating federal antitrust law. From a report: California Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said didn't issue any update to her previous ruling, which upheld Apple's ban on Fortnite while the antitrust case is ongoing. Instead she said the companies should expect to hear from her in writing. Rogers said that it's likely that the case, which she added was "the frontier of antitrust law," will be heard in July 2021. She recommended a trial by jury in order that the final judgement reached would be more likely stand up to appeal, although said it's up to Apple or Epic to request this. [...] In court on Monday, Rogers seemed less than impressed with the arguments put forward by Epic's legal team. She said that in the gaming industry, of which Epic is a part, it was standard practice for platforms to take 30% commission, as Apple does. She challenged Epic over its decision to circumvent Apple's policy in spite of its explicit contractual relations with the company, saying the company had "lied about it by omission." "You were not forthright," she said. "You were told you couldn't do it, and you did. There's an old saying, a rose by any other name is still a rose [...] There are plenty of people in the public could consider you guys heroes for what you did, but it's still not honest."

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Categories: Technology

With H-1B workers not exactly rushing to America this year, Uncle Sam plans to spend millions home-growing IT staff

The Register - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 20:59
Department of Labor puts $150m into computer, cyber-security training grants to plug visa hole

The US Department of Labor (DoL) is offering $150m to train up unemployed Americans in IT and cyber-security in an effort to plug the skills gap caused by the Trump administration’s work visa clampdown.…

Categories: Technology

UK Risks Losing Contract For New Climate Research Centre Because of Brexit

Slashdot - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 20:30
The UK is at risk of losing the contract for the expansion of a flagship European weather research centre based in Reading because of Brexit. From a report: The European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) has been based in Berkshire for the last 45 years but its future EU-funded activities are now the subject of an international battle. At stake is a planned new facility with up to 250 jobs, and nine countries -- including France, Germany, Spain, Ireland and Italy -- are vying for the business. "As a consequence of Brexit, a competition to relocate all ECMWF EU-funded activities from Reading in the UK to an EU member state is taking place during 2020," an official briefing note from one member state said. ECMWF, which is also a key body for climate-change research, is backed by 34 countries, 22 of them EU member states. In addition to weather forecasting, it operates a number of EU-funded programmes, including two services from the EU's Copernicus satellite Earth-observation programme, monitoring the atmosphere and the climate crisis.

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Categories: Technology

UK, US hospital computers are down, early unofficial diagnosis is a suspected outbreak of Ryuk ransomware

The Register - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 20:16
We've switched to back-up offline procedures, says Universal Health Services

Universal Health Services, which operates over 400 hospitals and healthcare facilities in the US, Puerto Rico, and the UK, said on Monday that its IT network was offline due to an unspecified cybersecurity issue.…

Categories: Technology

Netflix CEO on Paying Sky-High Salaries: 'The Best Are Easily 10 Times Better Than Average'

Slashdot - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 19:50
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, writing at CNBC: In the first few years of Netflix, we were growing fast and needed to hire more software engineers. With my new understanding that high talent density would be the engine of our success, we focused on finding the top performers in the market. In Silicon Valley, many of them worked for Google, Apple, and Facebook -- and they were being paid a lot. We didn't have the cash to lure them away in any numbers. But, as an engineer, I was familiar with a concept that has been understood in software since 1968, referred to as the "rock-star principle." The rock-star principle is rooted in a famous study that took place in a basement in Santa Monica, California. At 6:30 a.m., nine trainee programmers were led into a room with dozens of computers. Each was handed a manila envelope, explaining a series of coding and debugging tasks they would need to complete to their best ability in the next 120 minutes. The researchers expected that the best programmer would outperform his average counterpart by a factor of two or three. But it turned out that the most skilled programmer far outperformed the worst. He was 20 times faster at coding, 25 times faster at debugging, and 10 times faster at program execution than the programmer with the lowest marks. This study has caused ripples across the software industry since it was published, as managers grapple with how some programmers can be worth so much more than their perfectly adequate colleagues. With a fixed amount of money for salaries and a project I needed to complete, I had a choice: Hire 10 to 25 average engineers, or hire one "rock-star" and pay significantly more than what I'd pay the others, if necessary. Over the years, I've come to see that the best programmer doesn't add 10 times the value. He or she adds more like a 100 times. Bill Gates, whom I worked with while on the Microsoft board, purportedly went further. He is often quoted as saying, "A great lathe operator commands several times the wages of an average lathe operator, but a great writer of software code is worth 10,000 times the price of an average software writer." In the software industry, this is a known principle (although still much debated). I started thinking about where this model applied outside the software industry. The reason the rock-star engineer is so much more valuable than his counterparts isn't unique to programming. The great software engineer is incredibly creative and can see conceptual patterns that others can't.

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Categories: Technology

Bosses fear at cases in Brentwood and Epping Forest

Braintree and Witham Times - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 19:46
Health bosses are fearful of two Essex towns as coronavirus cases rise.
Categories: Local News

Amazon Plans Vancouver Expansion Where Talent Is Cheap

Slashdot - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 19:11
Amazon expects to nearly triple its workforce in Vancouver, where software engineers are cheap, smart and plentiful. From a report: The online retail giant plans to occupy a bunker-like former Canada Post mailing center that's being redeveloped into a new 1.1 million square-foot office to house 8,000 jobs by 2023, Jesse Dougherty, a vice president and Vancouver site lead at Amazon, said by phone. Currently, the company has 2,700 full-time employees at its city hub. It also plans to add 500 jobs in Toronto, according to a statement released Monday. A weak loonie, lower wages and a steady flow of graduates make Canada an attractive place to expand for tech companies whose largest expense is labor. The average wage of a software developer in Vancouver last year was $92,726, compared to $141,785 in San Francisco or $128,067 in Amazonâ(TM)s hometown of Seattle, according to a July report by real estate firm CBRE Group Inc. Once rental costs are folded in, the cost of running a 500-employee operation in the Canadian city is half that of a similar-sized operation in the Bay Area, it found.

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Categories: Technology

Man rushed to hospital after being stabbed in back

This Is Total Essex - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 19:09
No arrests have been made following the incident
Categories: Local News

Apple tailors Swift System library for open source and Linux support

The Register - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 19:02
Multi-platform not cross-platform, says company – enough to increase interest in the language?

Apple has open-sourced Swift System, a library designed to improve the experience of calling the operating system API from Swift on supported platforms, including a new Linux implementation.…

Categories: Technology

Mum who drowned in river among two bodies found by police on beach

This Is Total Essex - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 18:46
A second body was found on the beach whilst police were investigating her death
Categories: Local News

Google's Epic Response: Android 12 Will Make It Easier To Install App Stores

Slashdot - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 18:30
Google today announced it will make it easier to install and use third-party app stores with the release of Android 12 next year. From a report: Google also reiterated its existing Payments Policy for in-app purchases of digital goods: Android developers who want to distribute apps and games on Google Play, must use Play's billing system. Google is offering a 1-year grace period for developers who aren't complying with this policy: The deadline is September 30, 2021. Today's announcements today are a direct response to Epic's war with Apple and Google over the 30% cut they take of every purchase on the iOS App Store and the Google Play store, respectively. On August 13, Epic updated Fornite for Android and iOS to use its own billing service, resulting in Apple and Google deleting Fortnite from their app stores. Epic then turned around and sued both tech giants. The lawsuits could define how all developers, from individuals to massive corporations, distribute apps on the world's duopoly of mobile operating systems.

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Categories: Technology

The hackers and criminals are playing hardball – so here’s a cloud SIEM playbook to help you fight back

The Register - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 18:00
Think your old tools can’t cut it? Here’s the proof

Promo  Incident response and detection is a critical part of your security operation – it’s hard to defend against what you can’t see, particularly when your attack surface now extends from on-prem and into the cloud.…

Categories: Technology

The Race To Redesign Sugar

Slashdot - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 17:59
Forget artificial sweeteners. Researchers are now developing new forms of real sugar, to deliver sweetness with fewer calories. But tricking our biology is no easy feat. From a report: Until the late eighteenth century, when sugar production started to become mechanized, most people consumed very little of what nutritionists call "free" or "added" sugars -- sweeteners other than, say, the lactose naturally present in milk and the fructose naturally present in fruit. In 1800, an average American would have lived and died never having encountered a single manufactured candy, let alone the array of sugar-sweetened yogurts, snacks, sauces, dressings, cereals, and drinks that now line supermarket shelves. Today, that average American ingests more than nineteen teaspoons of added sugar every day. Not only does most of that never come into contact with our taste buds; our sweet receptors are also less effective than those for other tastes. Our tongues can detect bitterness at concentrations as low as a few parts per million, but, for a glass of water to taste sweet, we have to add nearly a teaspoon of sugar. DouxMatok's method of restructuring sugar crystals was invented by Baniel's father, Avraham, an industrial chemist. He patented the technique five years ago, when he was ninety-six; today, at the age of a hundred and one, he has finally retired. At one point during my visit, Eran sifted through a pile of his father's memorabilia -- black-and-white photographs, identification cards, university certificates -- to find illustrations for a forthcoming presentation about the company. Many of the photographs were new to Eran, and, as he tried to place them, the outline of his father's life emerged: a six-year-old Polish boy sent to boarding school in what was then the British Palestine Mandate; a student at the University of Montpellier; a promising young scientist, strikingly handsome, exempted from serving in the British Army's Palestine Regiment so that he could make bombs in the basement of a paint factory near Haifa. [...] Estella Belfer, a pastry chef who is a judge on the TV show "Bake-Off Israel," hopes to use Incredo exclusively one day, but, recently, she told me about some of the challenges of cooking with it. "To make chocolate, it's easy. I just substitute the sugar with a smaller amount. In shortbread cookies, it is an improvement -- it makes them crispier," she said. "But in the cupcakes and the sponge cakes -- this is where there is an art to using Incredo sugar." Sugar is responsible for much of the tender, springy texture of a good cake; Incredo sugar behaves exactly the same way, but there's a lot less of it, which creates a problem. Belfer told me that she has successfully blended other ingredients, including soluble fibre and plant proteins, to restore the missing bulk and fluffiness -- "but it's not easy."

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Categories: Technology

Coronavirus cases in Essex rise by 45 in space of a day

Braintree and Witham Times - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 17:39
THE number of recorded coronavirus cases in Essex has jumped by 45 over the past 24 hours, official figures have revealed.
Categories: Local News

Essex war hero, 87, 'scared to answer door' after man he invited in stole £500

This Is Total Essex - Mon, 28/09/2020 - 17:29
John Kelly reportedly had his war pension stolen by a man he tried to help
Categories: Local News

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