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Updated: 23 sec ago

To Respond To a Disease Outbreak, Bring In the Portable Genome Sequencers

Thu, 04/02/2016 - 4:27pm
the_newsbeagle writes: Epidemiologists working on Zika virus could benefit from portable genome sequencers, like these used during the Ebola outbreak. In spring 2015, researchers conducted the first experiment in real-time genetic surveillance during an infectious disease epidemic. The researchers packed all their equipment in a couple of suitcases and set up a mobile lab in Guinea, where they used palm-sized sequencing devices to analyze viral RNA from 142 patients. Genomic data can illuminate the chains of transmission in an outbreak, and can help scientists develop diagnostics and vaccines.

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Survey: Average Successful Hack Nets Less Than $15,000

Thu, 04/02/2016 - 3:45pm
itwbennett writes: According to a Ponemon Institute survey, hackers make less than $15,000 per successful attack and net, on average, less than $29,000 a year. The average attacker conducts eight attacks per year, of which less than half are successful. Among the findings that will be of particular interest to defenders: Hackers prefer easy targets and will call off an attack if it is taking too long. According to the survey, 13 percent quit after a delay of five hours. A delay of 10 hours causes 24 percent to quit, a delay of 20 hours causes 36 to quit, and a majority of 60 percent will give up if an attack takes 40 additional hours. 'If you can delay them by two days, you can deter 60 percent of attacks,' said Scott Simkin, senior threat intelligence manager at Palo Alto Networks, which sponsored the study.

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IRS Computer Problems Shut Down Tax Return E-file System

Thu, 04/02/2016 - 3:04pm
Mr.Intel writes: The IRS stopped accepting electronically filed tax returns Wednesday because of problems with some of its computer systems. The outage could affect refunds, but the agency said it doesn't anticipate "major disruptions." A "hardware failure" forced the shutdown of several tax processing systems, including the e-file system, the IRS said in a statement. The IRS.gov website remains available, but "where's my refund" and other services are not working. Some systems will be out of service at least until Thursday, the agency said. "The IRS is currently in the process of making repairs and working to restore normal operations as soon as possible," the IRS said.

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Congressional Testimony Says NASA Has No Plan For the Journey To Mars

Thu, 04/02/2016 - 2:24pm
MarkWhittington writes: Testimony at a hearing before the House Science Committee's Subcommittee on Space suggested that NASA's Journey to Mars lacks a plan to achieve the first human landing on the Red Planet, almost six years after President Obama announced the goal on April 15, 2010. Moreover, two of the three witnesses argued that a more realistic near term goal for the space agency would be a return to the moon. The moon is not only a scientifically interesting and potentially commercially profitable place to go but access to lunar water, which can be refined into rocket fuel, would make the Journey to Mars easier and cheaper.

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Cisco To Acquire IoT Company Jasper For $1.4 Billion

Thu, 04/02/2016 - 1:43pm
An anonymous reader writes: Cisco has announced its intention to spend $1.4 billion purchasing startup Jasper Technologies, Inc. which specialises in IoT connectivity. It's the most significant acquisition the tech multinational has made since its purchase of Wi-Fi manufacturer Meraki in 2012. In 2015 Cisco also acquired OpenDNS for $635 million, and with the Jasper acquisition seems committed to securing a major foothold in IoT infrastructure over the next five years.

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Senators Blast Comcast, Other Cable Firms For "Unfair Billing Practices"

Thu, 04/02/2016 - 1:02pm
An anonymous reader writes: Six Democratic US senators [Wednesday] criticized Comcast and other TV and broadband providers for charging erroneous fees, such as cable modem rental fees billed to customers who bought their own modems. The senators have written a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler asking the commission to 'stop unfair billing practices.'.....Last year, more than 30 percent of complaints to the FCC about Internet service and 38 percent of complaints about TV service were about billing...

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Cheap At $40,000: Phoenix Exoskeleton Gives Paraplegics Legs to Walk With

Thu, 04/02/2016 - 11:37am
Fast Company highlights the cheap-for-the-price Phoenix exoskeleton, created by University of California Berkeley professor (and Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory director) Homayoon Kazerooni and a team of his former grad students at SuitX, a company Kazerooni founded in 2013. Set to sell for $40,000 when it goes on sale next month, the Phoenix sounds expensive -- except compared to the alternatives. For paraplegic patients, there are a handful of other powered exoskeletons, but they cost much more, and are engineered for more than the modest goals of the Phoenix, which allows only one thing: slow walking on level ground. That limited objective means that the rig is light (27 pounds), and relatively unobtrusive. Kazerooni says that he'd like the price to go down much further, too, noting that all the technology in a modern motorcyle can be had for the quarter of the price. A slice: [The] only driving motors in Phoenix are at the hip joints. When the user hits a forward button on their crutches, their left hip swings forward. At this moment, the onboard computer signals the knee to become loose, flex, and clear the ground. As the foot hits, the knee joint stiffens again to support the leg. This computer-choreographed process repeats for the right leg. As it happens, this hinged knee joint has another benefit. If the wearer hits something midstep, like a rock or a curb, a powered knee would blindly drive the leg forward anyway, likely leading to a fall. The hinge naturally absorbs such resistance and allows the wearer a chance to compensate.

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Patent Troll VirnetX Awarded $626M In Damages From Apple

Thu, 04/02/2016 - 9:11am
Tackhead writes: Having won a $200M judgement against Microsoft in 2010, lost a $258M appeal against Cisco in 2013, and having beaten Apple for $368M in 2012, only to see the verdict overturned in 2014, patent troll VirnetX is back in the news, having been awarded $626M in damages arising from the 2012 Facetime patent infringement case against Apple.

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Julian Assange May Surrender To British Police On Friday

Thu, 04/02/2016 - 6:22am
bestweasel writes: As reported by The Guardian and others, Julian Assange has announced via Wikileaks that: "Should the UN announce tomorrow that I have lost my case against the United Kingdom and Sweden, I shall exit the embassy at noon on Friday to accept arrest by British police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal. ... However, should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me."

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Beyond the Liberator: A 3D-Printed Plastic 9mm Semi-Auto Pistol

Thu, 04/02/2016 - 3:40am
Profiled at Ars Technica is the (mostly) 3D-printed semi-auto pistol design from a West Virginia maker known as Derwood. The PLA-based design, which Derwood calls the Shuty MP-1, isn't quite all-plastic; like others that are roughly similar, it utilizes metal for a few parts that aren't practical in plastic. (Ars says just the barrel and springs, but it looks like metal is used for the guide rod and an internal plate, as well as for the screws that hold the whole thing together.) The core of the gun is a lower that bears a strong resemblance to an AR-15's, but the assembled gun looks to me more like a Skorpion submachine gun. Unlike Cody Wilson's single-shot Liberator pistol (mentioned here a few times before), the design files are not available for download -- at least not yet: "Not long," Derwood writes in a comment on a YouTube video of the pistol's assembly.

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