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  • The Most Important Right-To-Repair Hearing Yet Is On Monday
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: On Monday, the right-to-repair movement will have its best chance at advancing legislation that would make it easier to repair your gadgets. The Massachusetts state legislature is holding a three-hour hearing on the Digital Right to Repair act, a bill that would require electronics manufacturers to sell repair parts and tools, make repair guides available, and would prevent them from using software to artificially prevent repair. So far this year, 19 other states have considered similar legislation. It hasn't passed in any of them. But Massachusetts is one of the most likely states to pass the legislation, for a few different reasons. Most notably, the legislation is modeled on a law passed unanimously in Massachusetts in 2012 that won independent auto shops the right to repair, meaning lawmakers there are familiar with the legislation and the benefits that it has had for auto repair shops not just in Massachusetts but around the country. Crucially, important legislative hurdles have already been cleared in the state: Both the House and Senate bills are identical and has broad support from both Democrats and Republicans in the legislature. The hearing is going to be held in the Gardner Auditorium, which holds 600 people, making this the largest and highest-profile hearing on the topic in any state thus far.

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  • Apple Hid a Lightning Connector For Debugging In the Apple TV 4K's Ethernet Port
    Twitter user Kevin Bradley discovered a Lightning port hidden in the Apple TV 4K's ethernet port. There's a number of theories for why the port exists, but one of the more logical explanations is that it's simply there for Apple to use for debugging. 9to5Mac reports: While earlier Apple TV models had Micro USB and USB-C, the Apple TV 4K dropped all outwardly-facing ports other than Ethernet and HDMI. Under the hood, however, there's a hidden Lightning port, as Bradley discovered. The Lightning port is hidden in the ethernet connector on the Apple TV 4K. Bradley teased on Twitter: "None of us looked THAT closely to the hardware of the AppleTV 4K and the magic locked in the ethernet port until fairly recently." As for getting the Lightning port itself to work, Steven Barker said in a tweet that this is proving to be "difficult." The Lightning port is stuck at the very back of the ethernet port. Ultimately, it's not really clear what the Lightning port discovery could mean. One thing it could lead towards is the expansion of jailbreak capabilities for the Apple TV 4K, though Bradley cautions: "Just because we know it's lightning doesn't mean anything past that. Just because we find a way in doesn't mean anything will DEFINITELY be released due to what we discover. The barrier for entry might be way too high."

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  • Air Force Finally Retires 8-Inch Floppies From Missile Launch Control System
    Five years after CBS publicized the fact that the Air Force still used eight-inch floppy disks to store data critical to operating the Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missile command, the aerial and space warfare service branch decided it was time to officially retire them. Ars Technica reports: The system, once called the Strategic Air Command Digital Network (SACDIN), relied on IBM Series/1 computers installed by the Air Force at Minuteman II missile sites in the 1960s and 1970s. Despite the contention by the Air Force at the time of the 60 Minutes report that the archaic hardware offered a cybersecurity advantage, the service has completed an upgrade to what is now known as the Strategic Automated Command and Control System (SACCS), as Defense News reports. SAACS is an upgrade that swaps the floppy disk system for what Lt. Col. Jason Rossi, commander of the Air Force's 595th Strategic Communications Squadron, described as a "highly secure solid state digital storage solution." The floppy drives were fully retired in June. But the IBM Series/1 computers remain, in part because of their reliability and security. And it's not clear whether other upgrades to "modernize" the system have been completed. Air Force officials have acknowledged network upgrades that have enhanced the speed and capacity of SACCS' communications systems, and a Government Accountability Office report in 2016 noted that the Air Force planned to "update its data storage solutions, port expansion processors, portable terminals, and desktop terminals by the end of fiscal year 2017." But it's not clear how much of that has been completed.

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  • Unnatural Selection: the Eye-Opening Netflix Docuseries On Gene Editing
    Dream McClinton from The Guardian writes about a new Netflix docuseries, called Unnatural Selection, that "explores the various forms of genetic engineering, as well as the societal and environmental implications of its research and use." An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the report: Today, we are learning the language in which God created life," said then-president Bill Clinton, alongside the British prime minister, Tony Blair, in 2000. In the grainy archival clip, scientists and dignitaries had just mapped out the human genome, dissecting the complex science of biological being to code sequences of A, C, G and T in a style similar to binary computer code. But almost 20 years later, science has surpassed this once-unimaginable feat with the discovery of technology which can alter that genetic code. This zeitgeist-y innovation is the subject of a new Netflix series, Unnatural Selection, from film-makers Joe Egender and Leeor Kaufman, and explores the various forms of genetic engineering, as well as the societal and environmental implications of its research and use. The four-part docuseries delves into the burgeoning field of gene technology, made possible by the aforementioned human genome project and the discovery of the Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats or Crispr. Co-discovered by Dr Jennifer Doudna, the gene serves a bit like "a molecular scalpel", she says, essentially removing and replacing gene material in a DNA strand. The technology makes it possible to modify genetics, giving it near unlimited biological potential, or as Salk Institute developmental biologist Professor Juan Izpuisua Belmonte puts it, "... rewriting the book of life." For Egender and Kaufman, the series had to tell the broader, more intricate story of genetic engineering, a story filled with great risk, benefits, consequences, emotions, sentiments and future, to better illuminate the field and further the discussion on the technology. "[M]any are depending on gene therapy treatment to change and possibly save lives," writes McClinton. "But, the series shows, the treatments are expensive, with some emerging drugs costing over $500,000, and patients are often at the mercy of startup genetic therapy companies who choose to weigh the 'meaning' of the treatment versus the cost for the patient, leaving many to fight their insurance companies for the cost of treatment."

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  • Tesla Gets the Go-Ahead To Build Cars In China
    Tesla has been granted approval to start manufacturing its cars in China. The BBC reports: The electric carmaker, which is run by billionaire Elon Musk, is building a $2 billion factory in the eastern city of Shanghai. Tesla plans to build at least 1,000 of its Model 3s each week in the Chinese factory, which could be up and running within weeks. The new factory will give Tesla access to China, which is the world's biggest car market. It would also help the company avoid higher import tariffs that are imposed on cars made in the US. The new factory, known as the Gigafactory 3, is the first fully-foreign owned car plant in China. Permission to build the plant has been seen as a sign that Beijing is looking to open up its car market. Authorities in Shanghai have offered Tesla some help to speed up construction of the plant. Meanwhile, China excluded Tesla vehicles from a 10% tax on cars.

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  • California Launches First Statewide Earthquake Early Warning System
    hcs_$reboot writes: Everyone in California will now receive earthquake alerts on their phones seconds before the ground begins to shake, giving residents up to 20 seconds of warning before shaking begins. Developed by seismologists at the University of California, Berkeley, the MyShake application (residents will need to download the app to receive the alerts in areas without cell phone coverage) is designed to alert the public when a magnitude 4.5 earthquake or greater has been detected and has been shown to be faster than other alert delivery methods. The wireless emergency alerts will be sent in the event of a more significant quake, magnitude 5.0 or greater. The system does not predict earthquakes. Rather, it uses numerous seismic stations to detect the start of an earthquake and light-speed communications to send the data to computers that instantly calculate location, magnitude, intensity of shaking and create alerts to be distributed to areas that will be affected. When the MyShake app was released back in 2016 it already detected over 200 earthquakes in more than ten countries. A paper describing the early results gives a general idea of the app's success: "On a typical day about 8,000 phones provide acceleration waveform data to the MyShake archive. The on-phone app can detect and trigger on P waves and is capable of recording magnitude 2.5 and larger events. The largest number of waveforms from a single earthquake to date comes from the M5.2 Borrego Springs earthquake in Southern California, for which MyShake collected 103 useful three-component waveforms. The network continues to grow with new downloads from the Google Play store everyday and expands rapidly when public interest in earthquakes peaks such as during an earthquake sequence."

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  • Motorola Teases the New Razr Phone In November Event Invitation
    Motorola has sent out invitations to an event on Nov. 13, where the rumored foldable Razr phone could launch. CNET reports: Motorola said the evening event in downtown Los Angeles will feature the "highly anticipated unveiling of a reinvented icon." The save the date is a gif showing a device being folded and unfolded. "An original unlike any other," it reads, also displaying the numeric 11/13/19 date. According to the invitation, the event will feature special guests and musical performers, as well as "a journey through immersive experiences." "You're going to flip," Motorola's invite says. Motorola's Razr phone is rumored to have a foldable screen, but instead of opening out into a tablet, the phone could fold vertically to fit inside pockets. "It's also been reported that the phone will cost $1,500; measure 6.2 inches; run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor; come in white, black and gold; and have a 2,730mAh battery, 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 64GM or 128GB of storage," reports CNET.

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