Microsoft Wants You To Care For Your Surface Like a 'Luxury' Handbag

Slashdot - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 11:20pm
sqorbit writes: Microsoft has some fancy Alcantara fabric on its Surface keyboard. How well does it hold up to the use and sometimes abuse that portal devices go through? Well, Microsoft wants you to care for it like a "luxury" handbag. Pete Kyriacou, Microsoft's general manager of Surface Engineering, said in a statement provided to The Verge: "Just like anything luxury that you buy, like great handbags or a pair of shoes or even expensive cars, there is a care that's needed for the device. And so from the materials perspective, we will ask customers -- specifically customers who might stain it or drop something on it -- to go ahead and wipe that right away. There's a simple way of doing that with a microfiber with a soap and water solution on it. You don't need any special chemical and you can wipe it off. Then just care [for it in the same way] that would go into anything that luxurious. That's more of a periodical thing, not super frequent, something you might look at doing every six months or something. And so if you think of the livelihood of this laptop, somewhere between four and five years, it's not that often you have to do it in terms of taking care of it." Would you walk around with a device requiring that much care?

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Categories: Science

Why Do Gas Station Prices Constantly Change? Blame the Algorithm

Slashdot - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 10:40pm
Retailers are using artificial-intelligence software to set optimal prices, testing textbook theories of competition, says a WSJ report. An anonymous reader shares the article: One recent afternoon at a Shell-branded station on the outskirts of this Dutch city, the price of a gallon of unleaded gas started ticking higher, rising more than three-and-a-half cents by closing time. A little later, a competing station three miles down the road raised its price about the same amount. The two stations are among thousands of companies that use artificial-intelligence software to set prices (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). In doing so, they are testing a fundamental precept of the market economy. [...] Advances in AI are allowing retail and wholesale firms to move beyond 'dynamic pricing' software, which has for years helped set prices for fast-moving goods, like airline tickets or flat-screen televisions. Older pricing software often used simple rules, such as always keeping prices lower than a competitor. These new systems crunch mountains of historical and real-time data to predict how customers and competitors will react to any price change under different scenarios, giving them an almost superhuman insight into market dynamics. Programmed to meet a certain goal -- such as boosting sales -- the algorithms constantly update tactics after learning from experience. Even as the rise of algorithms determining prices poses a challenge to anti-trust law, authorities in the United States and Europe haven't opened probes or accused anyone of impropriety for using AI to set prices.

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Categories: Science

Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey

Slashdot - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 9:54pm
The White House said today that President Trump has fired FBI director James Comey. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement: "President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 'The FBI is one of our Nation's most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,' said President Trump. A search for a new permanent FBI Director will begin immediately." The Washington Post reports: Earlier in the day, the FBI notified Congress that Comey misstated key findings involving the Hillary Clinton email investigation during testimony last week, saying that only a "small number" of emails had been forwarded to disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner, not the "hundreds and thousands" he'd claimed in his testimony. The letter was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, more than a week after Comey testified for hours in defense of his handling of the Clinton probe. In defending the probe at last week's hearing, Comey offered seemingly new details to underscore the seriousness of the situation FBI agents faced last fall when they discovered thousands of Clinton aide Huma Abedin's emails on the computer of her husband, Anthony Weiner. "Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information," Comey said, adding later, "His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him I think to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the secretary of state." At another point in the testimony, Comey said Abedin "forwarded hundreds and thousands of emails, some of which contain classified information." Neither of those statements is accurate, said people close to the investigation. Tuesday's letter said "most of the emails found on Mr. Weiner's laptop computer related to the Clinton investigation occurred as a result of a backup of personal electronic devices, with a small number a result of manual forwarding by Ms. Abedin to Mr. Weiner." The letter also corrected the impression Mr. Comey's testimony had left with some listeners that 12 classified emails were among those forwarded by Abedin to Weiner.

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Categories: Science

'Silicon Valley Is Missing Unicorns Because It Doesn't Understand Poor People'

Slashdot - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 9:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: Silicon Valley might be hunting unicorns in the wrong places. According to one top federal health official, entrepreneurs and investors are overlooking one massive population: Low-income Americans who qualify for Medicaid. That's a big mistake, given that new funds are available for those that are bringing IT innovation to the space, said Medicaid chief medical officer Andrey Ostrovsky. "My gut is that it's a big opportunity with $500 billion in federal spend every year in a system that hasn't evolved technologically much since 1965," Ostrovsky said. "There are unicorns sitting in there," he added.

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Categories: Science

Tunnel Collapses At Nuclear Facility Once Called 'An Underground Chernobyl Waiting To Happen'

Slashdot - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 8:40pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Managers at the Hanford Site in Washington State told workers to "take cover" Tuesday morning after a tunnel leading to a massive plutonium finishing plant collapsed. The emergency is especially worrisome, since Hanford is commonly known as "the most toxic place in America," with one former governor calling it "an underground Chernobyl waiting to happen." Worrisome might actually be an understatement. An emergency has been declared. The accident occurred near the 200 East Area, the home of several solid waste sites. More specifically, the tunnel that collapsed was one filled with highly radioactive train cars that once carried spent fuel rods containing deeply dangerous plutonium and uranium from a reactor on the Columbia River to the processing facility. Those reactors once produced plutonium for America's nuclear arsenal, though production ended in 1980. The cleanup process that followed has gone on for nearly 30 years. Back to the poor workers, though. They've been instructed to stay indoors, and one manager reportedly sent out a message telling workers to "secure ventilation in your building" and "refrain from eating or drinking." When you can't even have a glass of water, you know the nuclear emergency is bad. The U.S. Department of Energy sent out a press release around 1pm EST that said "facility personnel have been evacuated," while workers at nearby sites have been instructed to stay indoors. A spokesperson also told the press that "there was no evidence to suggest that radioactive materials had been released and that all of the workers in the area were accounted for."

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Categories: Science

Federally subsidized shrubs, grasses crucial to sage grouse survival in Washington

Science Daily - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 8:11pm
The federal program that pays farmers to plant agricultural land with environmentally beneficial vegetation is probably the reason that sage grouse still live in portions of Washington's Columbia Basin.
Categories: Science

Officials Fear Russia Could Try To Target United States Through Kaspersky AV

Slashdot - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 8:00pm
Russia's growing aggression toward the United States has deepened concerns among U.S. officials that Russian spies might try to exploit one of the world's most respected cybersecurity firms to snoop on Americans or sabotage key U.S. systems, according to an ABC News investigation. From the report: Products from the company, Kaspersky Lab, based in Moscow, are widely used in homes, businesses and government agencies throughout the United States, including the Bureau of Prisons. Kaspersky Lab's products are stocked on the shelves of Target and Best Buy, which also sells laptops loaded by manufacturers with the firm's anti-virus software. But in a secret memorandum sent last month to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Senate Intelligence Committee raised possible red flags about Kaspersky Lab and urged the intelligence community to address potential risks posed by the company's powerful market position. "This [is an] important national security issue," declared the bipartisan memorandum, described to ABC News by congressional sources.

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Categories: Science

Spotify Used 'Pirate' MP3 Files In Its Early Days: Report

Slashdot - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 7:20pm
According to Rasmus Fleischer, one of the early The Pirate Bay figures, Spotify used unlicensed music in its early days. From a report: "Spotify's beta version was originally a pirate service. It was distributing MP3 files that the employees happened to have on their hard drives," he reveals. Rumors that early versions of Spotify used 'pirate' MP3s have been floating around the Internet for years. People who had access to the service in the beginning later reported downloading tracks that contained 'Scene' labeling, tags, and formats, which are the tell-tale signs that content hadn't been obtained officially. Solid proof has been more difficult to come by but Fleischer says he knows for certain that Spotify was using music obtained not only from pirate sites, but the most famous pirate site of all.

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Categories: Science

Avastin as effective as Eylea for treating central retinal vein occlusion

Science Daily - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 6:58pm
Monthly eye injections of Avastin (bevacizumab) are as effective as the more expensive drug Eylea (aflibercept) for the treatment of central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO), according to a clinical trial. After six monthly injections, treatment with either drug improved visual acuity on average from 20/100 to 20/40.
Categories: Science

Materials bend as they 'breathe' under high temperatures

Science Daily - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 6:52pm
Researchers develop high-temperature systems based on metal oxides that 'breathe' oxygen in and out, that could be used to control devices inside nuclear reactors or jet engines.
Categories: Science

Microsoft Is Planning To Turn Windows 10 PCs Into Amazon Echo Competitors

Slashdot - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 6:40pm
Speaking of Amazon's Echo devices, it appears Microsoft also wants a slice of this nascent market. The Verge's Tom Warren claims that Microsoft has been working on a feature for Windows 10 that would allow it "to better compete with devices like Amazon's Echo." Dubbed HomeHub, the feature is designed to create "a family environment for a PC with shared access to calendars, apps, and even a new welcome screen." He adds: Microsoft is even planning to support smart home devices like Philips' Hue lights, to enable Windows 10 to act as a hub to control and manage smart home hardware. While we've heard about HomeHub before, The Verge has obtained internal concepts of exactly how Microsoft is imagining HomeHub will work. The major addition is a new welcome screen that includes an "always on" digital corkboard to let families use to-do lists, calendars, and notes. The welcome screen is really designed for kitchen PCs and new smaller hardware with screens that will support Cortana voice commands from across the room.

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Categories: Science

How varroa mites take advantage of managed beekeeping practices

Science Daily - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 6:19pm
As the managed honey bee industry continues to grapple with significant annual colony losses, the Varroa destructor mite is emerging as the leading culprit. And, it turns out, the very nature of modern beekeeping may be allowing the mite to 'co-opt' several honey bee behaviors to its own benefit and disperse widely, even though the mite itself is not a highly mobile insect.
Categories: Science

Alzheimer's disease likely not caused by low body mass index

Science Daily - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 6:19pm
A new large-scale genetic study found that low body mass index (BMI) is likely not a causal risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, as earlier research had suggested.
Categories: Science

Vitamin D levels not linked to asthma or dermatitis

Science Daily - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 6:19pm
Vitamin D supplementation is unlikely to reduce the risk of asthma in children or adults, atopic dermatitis, or allergies according to a new study.
Categories: Science

Seniors who live with their abusers often suffer recurrent abuse

Science Daily - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 6:18pm
Older adults who have been hospitalized for injuries from an assault are more likely to experience subsequent physical abuse if they are female, widowed, diagnosed with dementia, or return home to live with the perpetrator, according to a new study.
Categories: Science

New method of microbial energy production discovered

Science Daily - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 6:18pm
For all living things to succeed, they must reproduce and have the energy to do so. An organism's ability to extract energy from its surroundings-and to do it better than its competitors-is a key requirement of survival. Until recently it was thought that in all of biology, from microbes to humans, there were only two methods to generate and conserve the energy required for cellular metabolism and survival.
Categories: Science

Repair Shops Are Stoked That the Samsung Galaxy S8 Is the Most Fragile Phone Ever Made

Slashdot - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 6:00pm
Smartphone repair companies are expecting to fix a lot of those beautiful, cracked Infinity Screens, the headline feature of the Samsung Galaxy S8. From a report on Motherboard: The Samsung Galaxy S8 is expensive, popular, and fragile. Its parts can also be sourced relatively inexpensively, which means that third party repair companies are salivating over the prospect of you fumbling the phone and bringing it to them for a screen repair. "The price point is good, the repairability is there," Justin Carroll, owner of the Richmond, Virginia-based Fruit Fixed smartphone repair shop told me. "Durability-wise, it's definitely going to break, no question about that." Soon after its release, electronics insurance company SquareTrade put Samsung's new flagship phone through its breakability test, a series of drops, dunks, and tumbles. It was deemed the most breakable phone of all time: "S8 is the first phone we've tested that's cracked on the first drop on ALL sides," SquareTrade wrote in a video demonstrating the drops.There's an obvious reason for this, of course. The S8 is made almost entirely of glass, and has barely any top or bottom bezel, which is why the phone is marketed as having an "infinity screen."

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Categories: Science

Can’t touch this: The psychological effects of functional intimacy

Science Daily - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 5:30pm
Researchers have explored the discomfort felt in a situation that requires functional intimacy. The study presents a novel point of view for both service providers and service recipients.
Categories: Science

Sound projection: Are Stradivarius violins really better?

Science Daily - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 5:29pm
Researchers have shown that recently-made violins have better sound projection than those built by the famous violinmaker Antonio Stradivarius. This study also shows that, despite the prestige of these old Italian violins, listeners prefer the sound made by recent instruments and cannot distinguish the two.
Categories: Science

‘Inverse Designing’ Spontaneously Self-Assembling Materials

Science Daily - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 5:29pm
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin are exploring how molecular simulations with the latest optimization strategies can create a more systematic way of discovering new materials that exhibit specific, desired properties. 
Categories: Science