Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for May 10th, 2017

Researchers from the Technical University of Denmark demonstrated a new nanotechnology-based printing technique that produces long-lasting color images on plastic at resolutions up to 127,000 dots per inch, many times more detailed than traditional laser printers. The system uses a laser to alter the structure of nanoscale structures on the plastic material. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter; a human hair is around 60,000 nanometers in diameter.) The nanoprinting technique could also lead to new kinds of 3D displays or invisible watermarks. From New Scientist : The surface of the plastic is shaped so that it has lots of tiny pillars, one roughly every 200 nanometers. A thin film of the element germanium is then spread over the plastic. Heat from a laser melts the germanium on each pillar, morphing its shape and thickness. As a result, it reflects a specific color. The coating protects the shapes of the newly carved nanostructures. Resonant laser printing of structural colors on high-index dielectric metasurfaces (ScienceAdvances)

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An anonymous reader writes: A recently released draft of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s digital identity guidelines has met with approval by vendors. The draft guidelines revise password security recommendations and altering many of the standards and best practices security professionals use when forming policies for their companies. The new framework recommends, among other things: “Remove periodic password change requirements.” There have been multiple studies that have shown requiring frequent password changes to actually be counterproductive to good password security, said Mike Wilson, founder of PasswordPing. NIST said this guideline was suggested because passwords should be changed when a user wants to change it or if there is indication of breach. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Thanks to advances in medicine, bone marrow transplants are no longer the last resorts they one were. Every year, thousands of marrow transplants are performed, a common treatment for ailments from bone marrow disease to leukemia. But because they first require a patient undergo radiation to kill off any existing bone… Read more…

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Conventional wisdom: If you eat a lot of salt, you will get thirsty to dilute the sodium level in your blood. The excess salt will be excreted in your urine. But a new study of Russian cosmonauts is challenging this long-held belief. When the cosmonauts ate more salt, the became less thirsty. And their appetite increased – they had to eat 25 percent more to maintain their weight. From the New York Times : The crew members were increasing production of glucocorticoid hormones, which influence both metabolism and immune function. To get further insight, [Dr. Jens Titze, now a kidney specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research in Erlangen, Germany] began a study of mice in the laboratory. Sure enough, the more salt he added to the animals’ diet, the less water they drank. And he saw why. The animals were getting water — but not by drinking it. The increased levels of glucocorticoid hormones broke down fat and muscle in their own bodies. This freed up water for the body to use. But that process requires energy, Dr. Titze also found, which is why the mice ate 25 percent more food on a high-salt diet. The hormones also may be a cause of the strange long-term fluctuations in urine volume. Scientists knew that a starving body will burn its own fat and muscle for sustenance. But the realization that something similar happens on a salty diet has come as a revelation. https://youtu.be/aJEzl31zL-I

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Antarctica’s ‘Dragon Skin’ Ice Is Incredible

Posted by kenmay on May - 10 - 2017

Dragon skin ice sounds like something you’d encounter beyond The Wall in the Game of Thrones fantasy realm. But good news nerds, you can find this magical-sounding stuff right here on Earth—though you’ve gotta be lucky, and willing to travel to some of the most hostile environments on the planet. Like the team of… Read more…

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New submitter troublemaker_23 quotes a report from ITWire: Only 36% of software engineers in India can write compilable code based on measurements by an automated tool that is used across the world, the Indian skills assessment company Aspiring Minds says in a report. The report is based on a sample of 36, 800 from more than 500 colleges across India. Aspiring Minds said it used the automated tool Automata which is a 60-minute test taken in a compiler integrated environment and rates candidates on programming ability, programming practices, run-time complexity and test case coverage. It uses advanced artificial intelligence technology to automatically grade programming skills. “We find that out of the two problems given per candidate, only 14% engineers are able to write compilable codes for both and only 22% write compilable code for exactly one problem, ” the study said. It further found that of the test subjects only 14.67% were employable by an IT services company. When it came to writing fully functional code using the best practices for efficiency and writing, only 2.21% of the engineers studied made the grade. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Traffic. We all hate it, but what can honestly be done to significantly reduce it? Well, according to an experiment conducted by the university of Illinois, simply introducing a few self-driving cars to roads could be the answer. Conducting experiments in Tucson, Arizona the team discovered that even adding a single autonomous vehicle to the roads can massively reduce traffic. They programmed a self-driving car to loop a track continuously and then added 20 other human-driven cars to the mix. While humans somehow naturally create stop-and-go traffic even without lane changes or other disruptions, thanks to the robotic racer, both traffic and fuel consumption were reduced by 40 percent. This isn’t the first example of modern tech helping to reduce congestion. With fixed traffic sensors widely swapped for navigation systems using GPS data, Professor Daniel B. Work believes that automated cars could be the next step — replacing the traffic-reducing variable speed limits. The next stage of the experiment is to test autonomous cars in situations where both human and AI drivers have to change lanes. From our experience with freeways, we already feel bad for the robot cars. Still, this isn’t the only way that drivers can use automation to reduce traffic. With the margin of human error being so high, the same study suggests that even existing tech like adaptive cruise control has the power to greatly reduce the amount of traffic on our roads. With many people understandably wary at the prospect of roads completely ruled by automated cars, the idea of mixing a few with regular vehicles seems like a good way to pilot the risky tech. Via: Phys.org Source: Cornell University Library

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SEATTLE—At its Build developer conference, Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 has now passed 500 million monthly active devices. Little over a year ago, the company said that the operating system had reached 300 million systems . As the operating system nears the end of its second full year on the market, it’s clear that it’s going to fall a long way short of the company’s original estimates. At launch, the ambition was to reach 1 billion devices over the first two to three years of availability, but this estimate assumed that Windows 10 Mobile would be a going concern, selling something of the order of 50 million or more devices a year. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Workhorse W-15 revealed: PHEV pickup with 80-mile range

Posted by kenmay on May - 10 - 2017

Not even a year after releasing renderings of its new range-extended electric truck , Workhorse has unveiled the real thing. As promised, the new Workhorse W-15 uses a pair of electric motors, one in the front and one in the back, for propulsion, along with a BMW gas engine and Panasonic batteries to supply power. Impressively, the truck is rated to go 80 miles on a full charge, and it will manage 32 mpg highway and 28 mpg city with the gas engine in use. While delivering these environmentally friendly numbers, the W-15 won’t be lacking in performance and usability. The dual motors produce 460 horsepower and deliver that power to all four wheels. As a result, Workhorse says it will go 0-60 mph in just 5.5 seconds. The W-15 can also carry up to 2, 200 pounds of cargo in its bed, and it has a 7.2kW, 30-amp power outlet on the side suitable for running power tools. The only weak point in the truck’s capability is towing, which is rated at 5, 000 pounds. For comparison, a base, V6-powered Chevrolet Silverado will tow 7, 600 pounds , and a Ford F-150 with the smallest EcoBoost V6 can tow up to 8, 500 pounds . Of course neither is as economical nor as powerful. The W-15’s performance isn’t let down by the exterior, either. The exterior is chiseled and chunky, with no shortage of flat planes and sharp angles. It screams tough commercial truck . The look is carried inside to the custom dashboard, too, with lots of tough plastic in gray, white, and orange. The interior is quite spartan, with hardly any controls except a simple dial for shifting in the center. Instruments and infotainment are displayed on two LCD screens, with the infotainment one controlled via touch. Even though the truck is fairly barebones, Workhorse has included dual airbags , automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning. The Workhorse W-15 is aimed primarily at the commercial market, and demand appears to be high. The company says it currently has 4, 650 pre-orders . Pricing hasn’t been announced, but Workhorse intends to deliver trucks next year. We think this truck could have some strong appeal to private consumers as well, however the company hasn’t announced plans for personal-use sales. Related Video: Source: Workhorse

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The one thing that helped me combat my irritation at being at an airport was the knowledge that airports are the great social equalizer: generally, it doesn’t matter who you are—rich, poor, famous, normal, whatever—you still have to check-in, go through security and get on the moving sidewalks to your gate. It sucks… Read more…

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