Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for March 3rd, 2017

Enlarge / The announcement of the Creators Update in October 2016. The Windows 10 Creators Update, due some time in the next couple of months, enables differential updates as part of what Microsoft calls the Unified Update Platform. These updates only contain the changes between one major Windows update and the next, which should make for smaller, faster downloads. Windows Insiders have been receiving these new differential updates since early December, and Microsoft has reported on the effectiveness of the new scheme. Compared to a “canonical” update (which includes full files rather than just the changed portions), the savings are substantial: the median differential download size of build 15025 was 910MB. The media canonical size of build 15031 was 2.56GB. 910MB is quite a bit smaller than 2.56GB. (credit: Microsoft ) This is particularly attractive to members of the Insider program because each new build is delivered as a major update that performs a full in-place Windows 10 install. To take advantage of the differential updates, you’ll have to make sure to never skip any releases; if you’re updating an older build to the very latest, a full download is required. This represents a trade-off on Microsoft’s part: The company doesn’t want to have to maintain a differential update between any and every pair of builds. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Genetics background. 3D render. (credit: NIH ) With humanity’s seemingly insatiable desire for data, archiving it safely has become a bit of a problem. The various means we’ve been using all have tradeoffs in terms of energy and space efficiency, many of which change as the technologies mature. And, as new tech moves in, many earlier storage media become obsolete—to the point where it’s essentially impossible to read some old formats. What if there were a storage medium that would be guaranteed to be readable for as long as humanity’s around and didn’t need any energy to maintain? It’s called DNA, and we’ve become very good at both making and decoding it. Now, two researchers have pushed the limits of DNA storage close to its theoretical maximum using a coding scheme that was originally designed for noisy communication channels. The result: an operating system and some movies were stuffed into genetic code at a density of 215 Petabytes per gram. The new work comes courtesy of Yaniv Erlich and Dina Zielinski, who work at the New York Genome Center. They have built on a variety of earlier work. Not much challenge is involved in putting data into DNA: each place in the sequence can hold one of four bases: A, T, C, or G. That lets us write two bits per position. The trick is getting things back out reliably. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Apple Losing Out To Microsoft and Google in US Classrooms

Posted by kenmay on March - 3 - 2017

Apple is losing its grip on American classrooms, which technology companies have long used to hook students on their brands for life. From a report on MacRumors: According to research company Futuresource Consulting, in 2016 the number of devices in American classrooms that run iOS and macOS fell to third place behind both Google-powered laptops and Windows devices. Out of 12.6 million mobile devices shipped to primary and secondary schools in the U.S., Chromebooks accounted for 58 percent of the market, up from 50 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, school shipments of iPads and Mac laptops fell to 19 percent, from about 25 percent, over the same period, while Microsoft Windows laptops and tablets stayed relatively stable at about 22 percent. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Amazon Outage Cost S&P 500 Companies $150M

Posted by kenmay on March - 3 - 2017

From a report on Axios: Cyence, an economic modeling platform, shared some data with Axios that show the ramifications: Losses of $150 million for S&P 500 companies. Losses of $160 million for U.S. financial services companies using the infrastructure. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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BadUSB is bad news: malware that targets the firmware in your USB port’s embedded system, bypassing the OS, antivirus software and other countermeasures. (more…)

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Fifty years later, the same flight takes longer. Why?

Posted by kenmay on March - 3 - 2017

Fifty years ago, American Airlines’ flight from New York to Los Angeles took 5 hours and 43 minutes. The same flight is 6 hours and 27 minutes today. Wendover Productions examines why planes don’t fly faster in this interesting video. (more…)

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The healthcare industry is a well-known information security dumpster fire, from the entire hospitals hijacked by ransomware to the useless security on medical devices to the terrifying world of shitty state security for medical implants — all made worse by the cack-handed security measures that hospital workers have to bypass to get on with saving our lives (and it’s about to get worse, thanks to the Internet of Things > ). (more…)

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schwit1 quotes a report from ScienceAlert: Researchers have developed a technique that allows them to rapidly thaw cryopreserved human and pig samples without damaging the tissue — a development that could help get rid of organ transplant waiting lists. Cryopreservation is the ability to preserve tissues at liquid nitrogen temperatures for long periods of time and bring them back without damage, and it’s something scientists have been dreaming about achieving with large tissue samples and organs for decades. Instead of using convection, the team used nanoparticles to heat tissues at the same rate all at once, which means ice crystals can’t form, so they don’t get damaged. To do this, the researchers mixed silica-coated iron oxide nanoparticles into a solution and generated uniform heat by applying an external magnetic field. They then warmed up several human and pig tissue samples ranging between 1 and 50 mL, using either their new nanowarming technique and traditional slow warming over ice. Each time, the tissues warmed up with nanoparticles displayed no signs of harm, unlike the control samples. Afterwards, they were able to successfully wash the nanoparticles away from the sample after thawing. The team also tested out the heating in an 80 mL system — without tissue this time — and showed that it achieved the same critical warming rates as in the smaller sample sizes, suggesting that the technique is scalable. You can view a video of tissue being thawed out in less than a minute here. The research has been published in Science Translational Medicine. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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How did Amazon take down the internet?

Posted by kenmay on March - 3 - 2017

Tech Today with Ken May How did Amazon take down the internet? 2017-03-03   On Tuesday, February 28th, an Amazon cloud server, specifically an AWS cluster of servers in the US-EAST-1 region, stopped responding. Sites and web apps like Mashable, Trello, Giphy, Quora, Netflix, Spotify, Slack, Pinterest and Buzzfeed, as well as tens of thousands  [ Read More ]

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Researchers Store Computer OS, Short Movie On DNA

Posted by kenmay on March - 3 - 2017

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: In a new study published in the journal Science, a pair of researchers at Columbia University and the New York Genome Center (NYGC) show that an algorithm designed for streaming video on a cellphone can unlock DNA’s nearly full storage potential by squeezing more information into its four base nucleotides. They demonstrate that this technology is also extremely reliable. Erlich and his colleague Dina Zielinski, an associate scientist at NYGC, chose six files to encode, or write, into DNA: a full computer operating system, an 1895 French film, “Arrival of a train at La Ciotat, ” a $50 Amazon gift card, a computer virus, a Pioneer plaque and a 1948 study by information theorist Claude Shannon. They compressed the files into a master file, and then split the data into short strings of binary code made up of ones and zeros. Using an erasure-correcting algorithm called fountain codes, they randomly packaged the strings into so-called droplets, and mapped the ones and zeros in each droplet to the four nucleotide bases in DNA: A, G, C and T. The algorithm deleted letter combinations known to create errors, and added a barcode to each droplet to help reassemble the files later. In all, they generated a digital list of 72, 000 DNA strands, each 200 bases long, and sent it in a text file to a San Francisco DNA-synthesis startup, Twist Bioscience, that specializes in turning digital data into biological data. Two weeks later, they received a vial holding a speck of DNA molecules. To retrieve their files, they used modern sequencing technology to read the DNA strands, followed by software to translate the genetic code back into binary. They recovered their files with zero errors, the study reports. The study also notes that “a virtually unlimited number of copies of the files could be created with their coding technique by multiplying their DNA sample through polymerase chain reaction (PCR).” The researchers also “show that their coding strategy packs 215 petabytes of data on a single gram of DNA.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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