Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for September 15th, 2017

Tour of a Japanese convenience store

Posted by kenmay on September - 15 - 2017

The convenience stores ( konbini ) in Japan are much better than the ones in the US. They are cleaner, they have tasty prepared food, and a nice seating area, sometimes on a second floor. The main chains are Lawsons, 7-Eleven, and Family Mart. Here’s a seven minute look inside a Family Mart.

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A nanoparticle-coated skin patch could treat obesity and diabetes

Posted by kenmay on September - 15 - 2017

A new study out today in ACS Nano presents an interesting and effective way to reduce fat stores in the body. Researchers at Columbia University and the University of North Carolina showed that a patch loaded with nanoparticles could reduce fat, increase energy expenditure and ameliorate type-2 diabetes in obese mice. The patch consists of an array of microscopic needles that help deliver drugs enclosed in nanoparticles directly into fat lying beneath the skin. Those drugs help turn white fat, which stores energy, into brown fat, which burns energy. Humans have both types, but as we age, we lose more and more of our brown fat, leaving mostly white fat behind. Therefore, it’s harder to get rid of the fat we have once we store it. Turning white fat into brown — a process called browning — has been a concept explored by researchers looking to treat obesity and diabetes , but earlier efforts have been largely done with pills or injections, which can cause a number of side effects since they deliver the drugs to the entire body. This patch, however, can concentrate the drug to just the area with the fat. And when they tested it on obese rats, putting a patch with drug on one side and a patch without drug on the other, researchers found that the drug side showed around 30 percent reductions of a particular type of white fat. Additionally, genes associated with brown fat were upregulated in the treated side, meaning the changes appeared to be due to a browning of the white fat stores. The patches even had an effect in healthy mice, leading to increased metabolic activity and upregulated brown fat genes. The research team is now working on figuring out which drugs work best and at which concentrations. The treatment isn’t ready for human testing, but these first results seem promising. “Many people will no doubt be excited to learn that we may be able to offer a noninvasive alternative to liposuction for reducing love handles, ” Li Qiang, one of the lead researchers of the study, said in a statement . “What’s much more important is that our patch may provide a safe and effective means of treating obesity and related metabolic disorders such as diabetes.” Via: Phys.org Source: ACS Nano , Columbia University

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Enlarge / The Trusted Execution Environment means that, even if the application and operating system are compromised, the green code and data can’t be accessed. (credit: Microsoft ) Microsoft announced today a new feature coming to its Azure cloud platform named “Confidential Compute.” The feature will allow applications running on Azure to keep data encrypted not only when it’s at rest (in storage) or in transit (over a network) but when it’s being computed on in-memory. This ability to encrypt data when it’s in-use means that it can be kept secure even from Microsoft’s administrators, government warrants, and hackers. Confidential Computing will have two modes: one is built on virtual machines, while the other uses the SGX (“Software Guard Extensions”) feature found in Intel’s recently introduced Skylake-SP Xeon processors. Both modes will allow applications to ringfence certain parts of their code and data so that they operate in a “trusted execution environment” (TEE). Code and data that are inside a TEE cannot be inspected from outside the TEE. The virtual machine mode uses the Virtual Secure Mode (VSM) functionality of Hyper-V that was introduced in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016. With VSM, most parts of an application will run in a regular virtual machine atop a regular operating system. The protected, TEE parts will run in a separate virtual machine containing only a basic stub operating system (enough that it can communicate with the regular VM) and only those parts of the application code that need to handle the sensitive data. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Rare white giraffes spotted in Kenya

Posted by kenmay on September - 15 - 2017

In early June, conservation rangers with the Hirola Conservation Program in Kenya first spotted a white female and baby giraffe. In early August, they were able to capture this footage of the elusive pair. Like that translucent-shelled lobster that was recently pulled in, these giraffes are not albino but have a genetic condition called Leucism. That means they a partial loss of pigmentation in their skin cells. If you look closely, you can see a familiar, though faded, reticulation on the calf’s neck. A blogger for Hirola writes : In this very sighting, in Ishaqbini, there was a mother and a juvenile The communities within Ishaqbini have mixed reactions to the sighting of this leucistic giraffe and most of the elders report that they have never seen this before. ‘This is new to us” says bashir one of the community rangers who alerted us when they sighted the white giraffe. “I remember when I was a kid, we never saw them” he added. “It must be very recent and we are not sure what is causing it” he said. ( National Geographic )

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Over 35 years since Blade Runner came out, its sequel is almost upon us. Blade Runner: 2049 hits theaters in less than a month. And (depending on who you ask) it’s either been too long a wait, or it should never have seen the light of day. For anyone still on the fence, the film’s marketing blitz is on hand to help part you from your cash. We’ve seen trailers , a VR tie-in , and a short prequel featuring Jared Leto’s impeccable beard. Just in the last 24 hours, a new promo starring Dave Bautista has hit the web, along with another (more exciting) teaser: Sony Pictures just unveiled a new anime spinoff for the upcoming film. Blade Runner Black Out 2022, as it’s known, will be directed by none other than Shinichiro Watanabe. For all those out of the loop, he’s the legend behind Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo . As you can tell by its title, the anime short will serve as a prequel to the upcoming film, with the action taking place during a power outage, according to NetLab . The brief video above also offers a closer look at its test animation, concept art, and some actual footage. “The work that has influenced me the most in my anime profession would be, of course, Blade Runner , ” says Watanabe in the video. That’s high praise. But, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic left its imprint all over pop culture, so it’s no surprise its reach extends to Japanese animation. Anime studio Cygames Pictures is producing the short, and Shukou Murase ( Halo Legends , Mobile Suit Gundam Wing ) is on hand as character designer and animation director. Plus, electronic mastermind Flying Lotus will be in charge of the score. You can watch Blade Runner Black Out 2022 in full on the Sony Pictures Japan YouTube channel on September 26th. Source: Sony Pictures Japan (YouTube)

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Bitcoin Plummets Below $3,000 on Rising China Worries

Posted by kenmay on September - 15 - 2017

Bitcoin dropped below $3, 000 on Friday as the cryptocurrency extended a brutal eight-day sell-off that has reduced its value against the dollar by a third. Financial Times reports: The currency traded as low as $2, 972, marking a 36 per cent fall from bitcoin’s close on September 7, and a collapse of 40 per cent from the highs struck earlier this month. The latest bout of selling came after BTCChina, one of the country’s biggest bitcoin exchanges, said it would halt trading at the end of the month. Focus has now shifted to the communist country’s other two big exchanges: OKCoin and Huobi. Alternative source. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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