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2020-05-30 11:04:45 UTC
2020-05-30 14:32:12 UTC
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All three of the surviving conventional hard drive vendors—Toshiba, Western Digital, and Seagate—have gotten caught sneaking disks featuring Shingled Magnetic Recording technology into unexpected places recently. But Western Digital has been the most brazen of the three, and it's been singled out for a class action lawsuit in response.
Although all three major manufacturers quietly added SMR disks to their desktop hard drive line-up, Western Digital is the only one so far to slip them into its NAS (Network Attached Storage) stack. NAS drives are expected to perform well in RAID and other multiple disk arrays, whether ZFS pools or consumer devices like Synology or Netgear NAS appliances.
In sharp contrast to Western Digital's position on SMR disks as NAS, Seagate executive Greg Belloni told us that there weren't any SMR disks in the Ironwolf (competitor to Western Digital Red) line-up now and that the technology is not appropriate for that purpose.
[...] Hattis Law has initiated a class action lawsuit against Western Digital, accordingly. The lawsuit alleges both that the SMR technology in the newer Western Digital Red drives is inappropriate for the marketed purpose of the drives and that Western Digital deliberately "deceived and harm[ed] consumers" in the course of doing so.
Previously: AnandTech Interview With Seagate's CTO: New HDD Technologies Coming
Western Digital: Over Half of Data Center HDDs Will Use SMR by 2023
Seagate Caught Using SMR in Barracuda Compute and Desktop Drives
On 2020-05-28 the SoylentNews community attained an amazing milestone: the posting of its one millionth comment!
First off, please accept my sincere thanks and gratitude to the community for all your contributions to the site to get us to this point. Never did I imagine in those first few days when comment IDs were 3 or 4 digits long that such a milestone was even feasible! I mean the site was crashing several times a day. Not an auspicious start, that's for sure! But we all pulled together, weathered some challenges, and got things pulled together.. and we're still here!
So, who was the lucky poster of comment 1,000,000? And who was the runner-up at comment 999,999 (which has a nice palindromic ring to it, wouldn't you agree?
The honor of the very first 7-digit comment fittingly goes to story-submitter extraordinaire takyon. Yes, not content to post comment ID 1000000 because that could be just a one-shot lucky break. No, he has posted (as of this writing) 18,731 comments. Oh, and as for submitting stories, he is unfortunately omitted from the "Most Active Authors" list on the SoylentNews Hall of Fame because he is also an editor. So, please join me in thanking takyon for submitting 5,852 stories! Oh! And as an editor, he has also pushed out 1,350 stories! Whenever I see one of his subs in the queue, I know it only needs a quick review before pushing it out to the story queue. He makes my job as an editor much easier and makes SoylentNews look good! Thanks takyon!
So who was our runner-up with comment number 999,999? Well, he wasn't just spinning his tires when he posted this comment. None other than our also-prolific Runaway1956! He is no slouch when it comes to posting comments, either, as he has posted 18,483 of them so far. He has taken an active part in comment moderation, too with 2,968 moderations of which 78% were upmods. As if that were not enough, he is also an active contributor to our Folding@Home team, sitting currently at 3rd place and making a hard run for 2nd place! (F@H investigates — via computer modelling — how proteins fold.) The F@H group's efforts have almost exclusively been redirected to understanding the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 disease.
For those who may be unaware, SoylentNews is purely a volunteer organization. Nobody has ever been paid even one cent for their work. Further, we have never accepted any advertising on SoylentNews; the site is entirely self supporting through the subscriptions of the community. We run a tight ship and expenses run approximately $20 per day for everything.
Speaking of volunteers, it brings me great pleasure to call out another major milestone, fnord666 has now edited over 5,000 stories on SoylentNews! (See Most Active Authors.) Thanks so very much, fnord666, for all your hard work and sacrifices to make that happen!
Thanks everybody! Here's to many more years!
When lockdown measures were announced in France and other countries, secondary-school teachers and university professors had to quickly make the transition from classroom teaching to remote education. As a result, practical work was often abandoned—experiments were no longer possible without a lab, test tubes, oscilloscopes and other equipment.
To overcome this problem, some educators used digital simulations, while others analysed existing data. But people familiar with experimental science know that simulations and simple analysis do not replace the lab bench and real experiments. The role of science is to help us to understand everyday phenomena and "real" experiments are absolutely essential.
As academics working in the field of physics, we have been reflecting about developing new forms of practical work that allows for greater student autonomy for several years now. At Université de Bordeaux and Paris-Saclay, we asked our students to create their own experiment, and in some cases, to conduct them independently with smartphones or Arduino boards, an open-source solution for experiments with electronics.
Lockdown was a great chance to test autonomous practical work, so we jumped on it immediately. During the two months of French lockdown—it began on March 17 and ended May 11—we adapted and continued to teach using experiments without compromising the quality of content. These "life-size" tests convinced us that it is possible to remotely conduct lessons with experiments for both secondary-school teachers and higher-education professors. We have even observed very positive aspects of this new approach. It changes the student's relationship with science and with their teachers.
Professor Felix Hoenikker did fine with bits of string and children's toys when he developed Ice-nine, so why can't we?
A 425-million-year-old millipede fossil from the Scottish island of Kerrera is the world's oldest "bug"—older than any known fossil of an insect, arachnid or other related creepy-crawly, according to researchers at The University of Texas at Austin.
The findings offer new evidence about the origin and evolution of bugs and plants, suggesting that they evolved much more rapidly than some scientists believe, going from lake-hugging communities to complex forest ecosystems in just 40 million years.
[...] The team found that the ancient millipede fossil is 425 million years old, or about 75 million years younger than the age other scientists have estimated the oldest millipede to be using a technique known as molecular clock dating, which is based on DNA's mutation rate. Other research using fossil dating found that the oldest fossil of a land-dwelling, stemmed plant (also from Scotland) is 425 million years old and 75 million years younger than molecular clock estimates.
M. E. Brookfield et al.Myriapod divergence times differ between molecular clock and fossil evidence: U/Pb zircon ages of the earliest fossil millipede-bearing sediments and their significance, Historical Biology (DOI: 10.1080/08912963.2020.1761351)
For all those legs it couldn't move fast enough to avoid turning to stone.
First came VR. Then came a wave of AR headsets that were high-priced and full of promises of wild mixed reality worlds. Apple now seems to be readying its own pair of smart glasses, at long last, seven years after Google Glass and four years after the debut of Oculus Rift. These reports have extended back for several years, including a story broken by CNET's Shara Tibken in 2018.
Apple has been in the wings all this time without any headset at all, although the company's aspirations in AR have been clear and well-telegraphed on iPhones and iPads for years. Each year, Apple's made significant strides on iOS with its AR tools.
The article dives into these topics at some depth:
Will Apple Glass succeed where Google Glass failed?
Traffic congestion is a serious problem in the United States, but a new analysis shows that interactive technology -- ranging from 511 traffic information systems and roadside cameras to traffic apps like Waze and Google Maps -- is helping in cities that use it.
Potentially, the researchers said, technology could limit the need to widen and expand roadways while saving commuters time and money and lessening environmental damage.
[...] Pavlou [author of the report] said the study suggests alternatives to simply building more and bigger roads to keep up with population and traffic growth. Using large-scale technology systems in conjunction with real-time traffic apps at the individual level is less expensive and more effective than only spending funds to expand and maintain roadways, he said .
Zhi (Aaron) Cheng, Min-Seok Pang, Paul A. Pavlou. Mitigating Traffic Congestion: The Role of Intelligent Transportation Systems, Information Systems Research (DOI: sre20190894)
The real question is, when cars honk does Pavlou's mouth water?
An innovation turning waste material into stretchable devices may soon provide a new option for creating self-powered biomedical inventions.
A team from Purdue University used lignin to create triboelectric[*] nanogenerators. TENGs help conserve mechanical energy and turn it into power. Lignin is a waste byproduct from the pulp and paper industries, and it is one of the most abundant biopolymers on Earth.
[...] Wu said the lignin-based triboelectric devices also could function as self-powered sensors to detect and monitor the mechanical activities from the human body in applications such as health monitoring, human-machine interface, teleoperated robotics, consumer electronics and virtual and augmented reality technologies.
Yukai Bao, Ruoxing Wang, Yunmei Lu, Wenzhuo Wu. Lignin biopolymer based triboelectric nanogenerators [open], APL Materials (DOI: 015794APM)
[*] Triboelectric effect.
One man's kitchen scraps are another man's cyber-machines.
Drones are expected to play a role in coastguard search and rescue (SAR) operations in the near future.
The [UK's] Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) wants to make greater use of the technology as part of a new SAR contract to be awarded in 2024.
The contract also covers the continued provision of rescue helicopters, including those based in Scotland, and search planes.
[...] The coastguard said unmanned aircraft could potentially visit rescue sites ahead of air, sea or land-based recovery teams.
Images and other information gathered by drones could help develop the emergency services response to a situation.
How long before terrestrial drones follow their airborne brethren into service?
Bank of America Corporation has disclosed a data breach affecting clients who have applied for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Client information was exposed on April 22 when the bank uploaded PPP applicants' details onto the US Small Business Administration's test platform. The platform was designed to give lenders the opportunity to test the PPP submissions before the second round of applications kicked off.
The breach was revealed in a filing made by Bank of America with the California Attorney General's Office. As a result of the incident, other SBA-authorized lenders and their vendors were able to view clients' information.
Data exposed in the breach consisted of details relating not only to individual businesses, but also to their owners. Compromised data may have included the business address and tax identification number along with the owner's name, address, Social Security number, phone number, email address, and citizenship status.
[...] In a breach notification document, a spokesperson for the bank said: "There is no indication that your information was viewed or misused by these lenders or their vendors. And your information was not visible to other business clients applying for loans, or to the public, at any time."
[...] Bank of America is offering clients affected by the breach free two-year membership of Experian's identity theft protection program.
Disclaimer: SoylentNews PBC has an account with Bank of America, but has not made an application to the PPP. In fact, since all SoylentNews staff are volunteers and have never been paid for their services, there was never any need or reason to apply for PPP.
Astronomers have captured an image of a super-rare type of galaxy—described as a "cosmic ring of fire"—as it existed 11 billion years ago.
The galaxy, which has roughly the mass of the Milky Way, is circular with a hole in the middle, rather like a titanic doughnut. Its discovery, announced in the journal Nature Astronomy, is set to shake up theories about the earliest formation of galactic structures and how they evolve.
"It is a very curious object that we've never seen before," said lead researcher Dr. Tiantian Yuan, from Australia's ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3-D). "It looks strange and familiar at the same time."
The galaxy, named R5519, is 11 billion light-years from the Solar System. The hole at its centre is truly massive, with a diameter two billion times longer than the distance between the Earth and the Sun. To put it another way, it is three million times bigger than the diameter of the supermassive black hole in the galaxy Messier 87, which in 2019 became the first ever to be directly imaged.
"It is making stars at a rate 50 times greater than the Milky Way," said Dr. Yuan, who is an ASTRO 3-D Fellow based at the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University of Technology, in the state of Victoria.
"Most of that activity is taking place on its ring—so it truly is a ring of fire."
Tiantian Yuan, Ahmed Elagali, Ivo Labbé, et al. A giant galaxy in the young Universe with a massive ring, Nature Astronomy (DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-1102-7)
The Trump Administration is putting the final touches on a sweeping executive order designed to punish online platforms for perceived anti-conservative bias. Legal scholar Kate Klonick obtained a draft of the document and posted it online late Wednesday night.
[...] The document claims that online platforms have been "flagging content as inappropriate even though it does not violate any stated terms of service, making unannounced and unexplained changes to policies that have the effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints, and deleting content and entire accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse."
The order then lays out several specific policy initiatives that will purportedly promote "free and open debate on the Internet."
First up is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
[...] Trump's draft executive order would ask the Federal Communications Commission to clarify Section 230—specifically a provision shielding companies from liability when they remove objectionable content.
[...] Next, the executive order directs federal agencies to review their ad spending to ensure that no ad dollars go to online platforms that "violate free speech principles."
Another provision asks the Federal Trade Commission to examine whether online platforms are restricting speech "in ways that do not align with those entities' public representations about those practices"—in other words, whether the companies' actual content moderation practices are consistent with their terms of service. The executive order suggests that an inconsistency between policy and practice could constitute an "unfair and deceptive practice" under consumer protection laws.
Trump would also ask the FTC to consider whether large online platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become so big that they've effectively become "the modern public square"—and hence governed by the First Amendment.
[...] Finally, the order directs US Attorney General William Barr to organize a working group of state attorneys general to consider whether online platforms' policies violated state consumer protection laws.
[Ed Note - The following links have been added]
Follow Up Article: Trump is desperate to punish Big Tech but has no good way to do it
The Executive Order: Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship
Now, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has upped the ante by releasing a Raspberry Pi 4 B with a generous 8GB of RAM. Launching today for $75, the Raspberry Pi 4 B (8GB) is identical to other Raspberry Pi 4 B models in every way, except for its RAM capacity. So what do you do with all that memory, and is spending $20 more than the price of the $55 4GB model worth it?
The short answer is that, right now, the 8GB capacity makes the most sense for users with very specialized needs: running data-intensive server loads or using virtual machines. As our tests show, it's pretty difficult to use more than 4GB of RAM on Raspberry Pi, even if you're a heavy multitasker.
A beta version of a 64-bit Raspbian OS, which is being renamed to "Raspberry Pi OS", is available. The existing 32-bit Raspbian can use all the RAM, but with a limit of up to 3 GB per process.
The back of the board adds silkscreen for certifications, as well as existing modifications for Raspberry Pi 4 Rev 1.2 to avoid damaging the board when inserting a MicroSD card. But the top of the board has more modification around the USB-C port, USB Type-A ports, and a chip between the VLI PCIe to USB chip and AV jack is just gone. So it's possible further USB-C issues have been fixed, and some improvements have been made to USB host ports maybe with regards to powering up external hard drives.
[Update from Eben Upton about hardware changes:
These are the regulator changes I mention in the post. The disappeared chip near the USB connector is the old regulator. The new stuff near the USB-C is the new regulator. The input clamp component has moved across to the USB area to make room.
Previously: Raspberry Pi 4 Model B Launched
Raspberry Pi 4B CPU Overclocked to 2.147 GHz, GPU at 750 MHz
Raspberry Pi Foundation Begins Working on Vulkan Driver
2 GB Model of Raspberry Pi 4 Gets Permanent Price Cut to $35
Raspberry Pi to Power Ventilators as Demand for Boards Surges
Raspberry Pi Launches Camera With Interchangeable Lens System for $50
Back in the 1970s, scientists came up with a revolutionary idea about how Earth's deep interior works. They proposed it is slowly churning like a lava lamp, with buoyant blobs rising as plumes of hot mantle rock from near Earth's core, where rocks are so hot they move like a fluid.
According to the theory, as these plumes approach the surface they begin to melt, triggering massive volcanic eruptions. But evidence for the existence of such plumes proved elusive and geologists had all but rejected the idea.
Yet in a paper published today, we can now provide this evidence. Our results show that New Zealand sits atop the remains of such an ancient giant volcanic plume. We show how this process causes volcanic activity and plays a key role in the workings of the planet.
J.-P. Macquart, J. X. Prochaska, M. McQuinn, et al. A census of baryons in the Universe from localized fast radio bursts, Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2300-2)
The remains of Mt. Doom after the hobbits got finished with it?
In the late 1990s, cosmologists made a prediction about how much ordinary matter there should be in the universe. About 5%, they estimated, should be regular stuff with the rest a mixture of dark matter and dark energy. But when cosmologists counted up everything they could see or measure at the time, they came up short. By a lot.
The sum of all the ordinary matter that cosmologists measured only added up to about half of the 5% what was supposed to be in the universe.
It took the discovery of a new celestial phenomenon and entirely new telescope technology, but earlier this year, our team finally found the missing matter.
[...] But when radio waves pass through matter, they are briefly slowed down. The longer the wavelength, the more a radio wave "feels" the matter. Think of it like wind resistance. A bigger car feels more wind resistance than a smaller car.
The "wind resistance" effect on radio waves is incredibly small, but space is big. By the time an FRB ["Fast Radio Burst"] has traveled millions or billions of light-years to reach Earth, dispersion has slowed the longer wavelengths so much that they arrive nearly a second later than the shorter wavelengths.
[...] We were overcome by both amazement and reassurance the moment we saw the data fall right on the curve predicted by the 5% estimate. We had detected the missing baryons in full, solving this cosmological riddle and putting to rest two decades of searching.
J.-P. Macquart, J. X. Prochaska, M. McQuinn, et al. A census of baryons in the Universe from localized fast radio bursts, Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2300-2)
The initial results are based on six data points, FRBs; the researchers will continue to look for others.
A new study looked at the relationship between advertising by car manufacturers in U.S. newspapers and news coverage of car safety recalls in the early 2000s. The study found that newspapers provided less coverage of recalls issued by manufacturers that advertised more regularly in their publications than of recalls issued by other manufacturers that did not advertise, and this occurred more frequently when the recalls involved more severe defects.
[...] "Because media coverage affects a variety of outcomes, it's vital that news outlets provide unbiased and accurate information to consumers so they can make well-informed decisions," says Ananya Sen, assistant professor of information systems and economics at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College, who coauthored the study. "Our findings demonstrate a robust supply-side bias due to advertising revenue, one that may be quite dangerous."
Advertising accounts for nearly 80 percent of newspapers' total revenue in the United States, with total ad spending by the automotive sector surpassing $20 billion in 2006. The study's authors contend that newspapers' reliance on advertising raises concerns that editorial decisions may be vulnerable to the influence of advertisers, especially large ones.
[...] The study concluded that newspapers provided less coverage of recalls from manufacturers that bought more advertising in the previous two years. Specifically, higher spending on advertising was associated with a lower probability that the newspaper published any article on the recalls, and for those newspapers that did publish information about recalls, fewer articles were published. The bias was strongest when small newspapers published ads from local car dealers. The effect was stronger for recalls that involved a large number of vehicles and that involved more severe defects.
[...] "The vulnerability of newspapers to be influenced by advertisers and the role of market structure have implications for policymakers," explains Graham Beattie, assistant professor of economics at Loyola Marymount University, who coauthored the study. "Regulators should formulate rules that limit such conflicts of interest through policies such as limiting concentration of media ownership and encouraging competition between media outlets."
Advertising Spending and Media Bias: Evidence from News Coverage of Car Safety Recalls [$], Management Science (DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2019.3567)
Interesting study but it's looking at data that's at least 10 years old. It would be interesting to see the same study using more recent data.