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14152915 feed

Slashdot: Vint Cerf 'No Longer Contagious' With Covid-19

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DevNull127 writes: Good news — VA Public Health has certified my wife and me as no longer contagious with COVID19," tweeted 76-year-old Vint Cerf, one of the creators of the modern internet. He added one word. "Recovering!" It seemed especially appropriate that Cerf shared his news online — and that it drew positive responses from grateful people around the world, including several who use the internet in their daily lives. Cerf's tweet immediately drew positive responses from the Internet Society, as well as the chief operating officer of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, YouTube's director of public policy, and a senior director of communications and public affairs at Google. There were also congratulatory posts from a Georgetown professor of technology and law, from Associated Press reporter Frank Bajak, and the executive director of the Global Privacy and Security by Design Centre. Cerf followed up his news with a re-tweet of Google's "Community Mobility Reports" charting our aggregate movement trends over time, and a tweet of a University of Pittsburgh press release about progress on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Earlier in the week Cerf also re-tweeted a humorous compilation of clips from the TV show M*A*S*H that illustrated safe practices while social distancing.

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14152788 feed

Slashdot: Physical Force Alone Spurs Gene Expressions, Study Reveals

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Cells will ramp up gene expression in response to physical forces alone, a new study finds. Gene activation, the first step of protein production, starts less than one millisecond after a cell is stretched -- hundreds of times faster than chemical signals can travel, the researchers report. The scientists tested forces that are biologically relevant -- equivalent to those exerted on human cells by breathing, exercising or vocalizing. They report their findings in the journal Science Advances. In the new work, the researchers observed that special DNA-associated proteins called histones played a central role in whether gene expression increased in response to forces that stretched the cell. Histones regulate DNA, winding it up to package it in the nucleus of the cell. One class of histones, known as Histone H3, appear to prevent force-responsive gene expression when methylated at an amino acid known as lysine 9. Methylation involves adding a molecular tag known as a methyl group to a molecule. The scientists observed that H3K9 methylation was highest at the periphery of the nucleus and largely absent from the interior, making the genes in the interior more responsive to stretching. The researchers found they could suppress or boost force-responsive gene expression by increasing or decreasing H3K9 histone methylation. The scientists also tested whether the frequency of an applied force influenced gene expression. They found that cells were most responsive to forces with frequencies up to about 10-20 hertz.

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14152740 feed

Slashdot: FCC: TracFone Made Up 'Fictitious' Customers To Defraud Low-Income Program

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TracFone Wireless is facing a potential $6 million fine for allegedly defrauding a government program that provides discount telecom service to poor people. Ars Technica: The Federal Communications Commission proposed the fine against TracFone yesterday, saying the prepaid wireless provider obtained FCC Lifeline funding by "enroll[ing] fictitious subscriber accounts." TracFone improperly sought and received more than $1 million from Lifeline, the FCC said. The FCC press release said: "TracFone's sales agents -- who were apparently compensated via commissions for new enrollments -- apparently manipulated the eligibility information of existing subscribers to create and enroll fictitious subscriber accounts. For example, TracFone claimed support for seven customers in Florida at different addresses using the same name, all seven of whom had birth dates in July 1978 and shared the same last four Social Security Number digits. The Enforcement Bureau's investigation also found that, in 2018, TracFone apparently sought reimbursement for thousands of ineligible subscribers in Texas. Today's proposed fine is based on the 5,738 apparently improper claims for funding that TracFone made in June 2018 and includes an upward adjustment in light of the company's egregious conduct in Florida." TracFone said it would respond "at the appropriate time" in an effort to reduce or eliminate the proposed fine. The company also said "we take seriously our stewardship of public dollars and will continue to focus on connecting millions of low-income customers to school, jobs, healthcare, and essential social services," according to Reuters.

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14152718 feed

Slashdot: SpaceX Loses Its Third Starship Prototype During a Cryogenic Test

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For a third time, SpaceX lost one of its Starship prototype spacecrafts during a pressure test at the company's test site in Boca Chica, Texas. Ars Technica reports: This week, SpaceX workers in South Texas loaded the third full-scale Starship prototype -- SN3 -- onto a test stand at the company's Boca Chica launch site. On Wednesday night, they pressure-tested the vehicle at ambient temperature with nitrogen, and SN3 performed fine. On Thursday night SpaceX began cryo-testing the vehicle, which means it was loaded again with nitrogen, but this time it was chilled to flight-like temperatures and put under flight-like pressures. Unfortunately, a little after 2am local time, SN3 failed and began to collapse on top of itself. It appeared as if the vehicle may have lost pressurization and become top-heavy. Multiple sources indicated that had these preliminary tests succeeded, SN3 would have attempted a 150-meter flight test as early as next Tuesday. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said on Twitter: "We will see what data review says in the morning, but this may have been a test configuration mistake." A testing issue would be good in the sense that it means the vehicle itself performed well, and the problem can be more easily addressed.

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14152699 feed

Slashdot: Amazon To Delay Marketing Event Prime Day Due To Coronavirus

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An anonymous reader shares a report: Amazon is postponing its major summer shopping event Prime Day at least until August and expects potentially a $100 million hit from excess devices it may now have to sell at a discount, according to internal meeting notes seen by Reuters.

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14152669 feed

Slashdot: Twitter Removes 9,000 Accounts Pushing Coronavirus Propaganda Praising the Unite

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed News: On April 2, Twitter took down a pro-United Arab Emirates network of accounts that was pushing propaganda about the coronavirus pandemic and criticizing Turkey's military intervention in Libya. Previously tied to marketing firms in the region, parts of this network were removed by Facebook and Twitter last year. The network was made up of roughly 9,000 accounts, according to disinformation research firm DFRLab and independent researcher Josh Russell. Although it promoted narratives in line with the political stances of the governments of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, its origins were unclear. Many Twitter handles contained alphanumeric characters instead of names, and many did not post photos. Accounts that did have profile pictures often used images of Indian models. One video pushed by the fake accounts voiced support for the Chinese government during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in China in February. The video remains online, but lost over 4,000 retweets and likes after the takedown. The video now has four retweets. The bot network also amplified a video of a woman thanking the government of the UAE for transporting Yemeni students out of Wuhan, China. Today, that video, which is also still online, went from having nearly 4,500 retweets to having 70. Spreading propaganda about the coronavirus didn't seem to have been the network's focus. The accounts, some of which posed as journalists and news outlets, amplified an article about the UAE government's disapproval of the Libyan prime minister and boosted criticism of Turkey's support of militias in Libya.

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14152655 feed

Slashdot: Potential Vaccine Generates Enough Antibodies To Fight Off Virus

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Slashdot readers schwit1 and Futurepower(R) are sharing news about a potential coronavirus vaccine that has been found to produce antibodies capable of fighting off Covid-19. The Independent reports: The vaccine, which was tested on mice by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, generated the antibodies in quantities thought to be enough to "neutralize" the virus within two weeks of injection. The study's authors are now set to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for investigational new drug approval ahead of phase one human clinical trials planned to start in the next few months. [T]he Pittsburgh research is the first study on a Covid-19 vaccine candidate to be published after review from fellow scientists at outside institutions. The scientists were able to act quickly because they had already laid the groundwork during earlier epidemics of coronaviruses: Sars in 2003 and Mers in 2014. What's also neat about this potential vaccine is that it can sit at room temperature until it is needed and be scaled up to produce the protein on an industrial scale. The fingertip-sized patch of 400 tiny microneedles "inject the spike protein pieces into the skin, where the immune reaction is strongest," the report says. "The patch is stuck on like a plaster and the needles -- which are made entirely of sugar and the protein pieces -- simply dissolve into the skin." While long-term testing is still required, "the mice who were given the Pittsburgh researchers' Mers vaccine candidate developed enough antibodies to neutralize the virus for at least a year," reports The Independent. "The antibody levels of the rodents vaccinated against Covid-19 'seem to be following the same trend,' according to the researchers."

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14152648 feed

Slashdot: 'Zoombombing' Is a Federal Offense That Could Result In Imprisonment, Prosecutor

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"Zoomboming," where someone successfully invades a public or private meeting over the videoconferencing platform to broadcast shock videos, pornography, or other disruptive content, could result in fines and possible imprisonment, according to federal prosecutors. The Verge reports: The warning was posted as a press release to the Department of Justice's website under the U.S. Attorney's office for the state's Eastern district with support from the state attorney general and the FBI. Now, prosecutors say they'll pursue charges for Zoombombing, including "disrupting a public meeting, computer intrusion, using a computer to commit a crime, hate crimes, fraud, or transmitting threatening communications." Some of the charges include fines and possible imprisonment. The press release says that if you or anyone you know becomes a victim of teleconference hacking, they can report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. "Do not make the meetings or classroom public. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guest," the guidance reads. "Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific people." The Verge adds: "The guidance also advises against allowing anyone but the host to screenshare and asks that users of Zoom and other apps install the latest updates."

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14152637 feed

Slashdot: Broadband Engineers Threatened Due To 5G Coronavirus Conspiracies

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Telecoms engineers are facing verbal and physical threats during the lockdown, as baseless conspiracy theories linking coronavirus to the roll-out of 5G technology spread by celebrities such as Amanda Holden prompt members of the public to abuse those maintaining vital mobile phone and broadband networks. Facebook has removed one anti-5G group in which users were being encouraged to supply footage of them destroying mobile phone equipment, with some contributors seemingly under the pretense that it may stop the spread of coronavirus and some running leaderboards of where equipment had been targeted. Video footage of a 70ft (20 meter) telephone mast on fire in Birmingham this week has also circulated widely alongside claims it was targeted by anti-5G protesters. Network operator EE told the Guardian that its engineers were still on site assessing the cause of the fire but it "looks likely at this time" that it was an arson attack. The company said it would be working with the police to find the culprits. The problem has become so bad that engineers working for BT Openreach, which provides home broadband services, have also taken to posting public pleas on anti-5G Facebook groups asking to be spared the on-street abuse as they are not involved in maintaining mobile networks. Industry lobby group Mobile UK said the incidents were affecting efforts to maintain networks that are supporting home working and providing critical connectivity to the emergency services, vulnerable consumers and hospitals. Telecoms engineers are considered key workers under the government's guidelines.

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14152626 feed

Slashdot: EU Rules Rental Car Companies Don't Need To Pay A License To Rent Cars With Radi

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Mike Masnick, reporting at TechDirt: Five years ago, we wrote about another such crazy demand -- a PRO (Performance Rights Organizations (PROs), sometimes known as "Collection Societies," that have a long history of demanding licensing for just about every damn thing) in Sweden demanding that rental car companies pay a performance license because their cars had radios, and since "the public" could rent their cards and listen to the radio, that constituted "a communication to the public" that required a separate license. The case has bounced around the courts, and finally up to the Court of Justice for the EU which has now, finally, ruled that merely renting cars does not constitute "communication to the public."

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