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News Source Slashdot:Hardware

NYT: Iran Nuclear Scientist Was Killed By an 'AI-Assisted, Remote-Control Killing Machine'
For 14 years Israel had wanted to kill Iran's chief military nuclear scientist and the father of its weapons program, who they suspected of leading Iran's quest to build nuclear weapons. Then last November "they came up with a way to do it with no operatives present" using a "souped-up, remote-controlled machine gun," according to the New York Times: (Thanks to Slashdot readers schwit1 and PolygamousRanchKid for sharing this story.)Since 2004, when the Israeli government ordered its foreign intelligence agency, the Mossad, to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, the agency had been carrying out a campaign of sabotage and cyberattacks on Iran's nuclear fuel enrichment facilities. It was also methodically picking off the experts thought to be leading Iran's nuclear weapons program. Since 2007, its agents had assassinated five Iranian nuclear scientists and wounded another. Most of the scientists worked directly for Fakhrizadeh on what Israeli intelligence officials said was a covert program to build a nuclear warhead, including overcoming the substantial technical challenges of making one small enough to fit atop one of Iran's long-range missiles. Israeli agents had also killed the Iranian general in charge of missile development and 16 members of his team. But the man Israel said led the bomb program was elusive... This time they were going to try something new. Iranian agents working for the Mossad had parked a blue Nissan Zamyad pickup truck on the side of the road connecting Absard to the main highway. The spot was on a slight elevation with a view of approaching vehicles. Hidden beneath tarpaulins and decoy construction material in the truck bed was a 7.62 mm sniper machine gun... The assassin, a skilled sniper, took up his position, calibrated the gun sights, cocked the weapon and lightly touched the trigger. He was nowhere near Absard, however. He was peering into a computer screen at an undisclosed location more than 1,000 miles away... Cameras pointing in multiple directions were mounted on the truck to give the command room a full picture not just of the target and his security detail, but of the surrounding environment... The time it took for the camera images to reach the sniper and for the sniper's response to reach the machine gun, not including his reaction time, was estimated to be 1.6 seconds, enough of a lag for the best-aimed shot to go astray.The AI was programmed to compensate for the delay, the shake and the car's speed. Ultimately 15 bullets were fired in less than 60 seconds. None of them hit Fakhrizadeh's wife, who was seated just inches away. The whole remote-controlled apparatus "was smuggled into the country in small pieces over several months," reports the Jerusalem Post, "because, taken together, all of its components would have weighed around a full ton."One new detail in the report was that the explosives used to destroy evidence of the remote-gun partially failed, leaving enough of the gun intact for the Iranians to figure out what had happened... While all Israeli intelligence and defense officials still praise the assassination for setting back Iran's nuclear weapons program dramatically, 10 months later and with the Islamic Republic an estimated one month away from producing sufficient enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb, the legacy of the operation is less clear... On the other hand, others say that even if Iran decides to move its uranium enrichment up to 90%, that is weaponized level, they still have to put together the other components of a nuclear weapon capability. These include tasks concerned with detonation and missile delivery. Fakhizadeh would have shone in these tasks and his loss will still be felt and slow down the ayatollahs.

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What's the Best Ransomware Backup Solution: Disk or Tape?
Slashdot reader storagedude writes: With the release of LTO-9, just about every tape vendor has pushed its wares as a solution to the ransomware problem. After all, is there any backup technology that's more air-gapped? Tape IS great for backup — just not so much for recovery. Writing for eSecurity Planet, [CTO of Seagate Government Solutions] Henry Newman notes that not only is disk about 80% cheaper than LTO tape, but even an entry-level RAID card can restore data 6 times faster than tape. "Backup is not about backing up the data, but the time it takes to restore that data to meet your business requirements," writes Newman. "Tape drives are not striped, but disks generally are put into stripe groups," he writes. "With RAID controllers and/or software RAID methods, you can easily get many 10s of GB/sec of bandwidth to restore data from a single set of SAS connections. Doing that with tape is very expensive and requires architectural planning. So the bottom line is you can surely backup to tape and it is cost effective – for backup, that is. If you actually need to restore that data quickly, you have my best wishes." Tape may have a better bit error rate than disk, but disk can be architected in a way that removes that reliability advantage, he notes. "Tape vendors often state that the BER (bit error rate) of tape is far better than disk, which is 100% true, but you can make up for tape's advantage with RAID methods that check the reliability of your data and ensure that what you wrote is what you read. This has been the case with RAID since the early 1990s, with parity check on read to validate the data. With other ANSI standard techniques – which sadly are not used often enough – such as T10 PI/DIX you can achieve data integrity on a single device equal to or greater than tape. The net-net here is disk is far faster than tape, as there is native striping that has been in use at least since the 1980s with RAID methods, and disk can achieve equal data integrity to tape." "The most often overlooked part of data backup is the recovery part – the longer it takes to restore your data, the more damage it can do to your business," Newman writes. He concludes: "Yes, tape can be air gapped but so can disk. Does tape provide better protection against ransomware? Likely, but is it so much slower than disk that you can turn off your system and turn on when you need to. Does having slower restoration make tape a better defense against a ransomware attack? As far as I can see, the marketing claims made by tape vendors do not hold up to a rigorous engineering analysis. If you want to use tape, that is your choice and there might be good reasons, but disk-based backups can be air gapped just like tape, for lower cost and with a much faster recovery time. Why tape vendors are making claims such as this, I will leave it to readers to speculate." But Slashdot reader BAReFO0t takes the "tape" side of the argument. "Being slower does not equal it not working as a solution at all," they argue in a comment on the original submission — adding "Also, it's not even slower, since tape can just as easily be made into a RAID. You can flood ANY bus if you just use enough mirrors, no matter the medium." And a follow-up comment also defended tapes. "If tape meets the service level agreement and provides a reasonable risk mitigation from ransomware, then it's still a perfectly viable solution regardless of certain performance limitations. LTO development would have likely died long ago otherwise." But what do other Slashdot readers think? Share your own experiences and opinions in the comments. What offers a better ransomware backup solution: disk or tape?

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Can the Computer Chip Industry Reduce Its Carbon Footprint?
"Last week Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world's largest chipmaker, which supplies chips to Apple, pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2050," reports the Guardian. "But decarbonizing the industry will be a big challenge."TSMC alone uses almost 5% of all Taiwan's electricity, according to figures from Greenpeace, predicted to rise to 7.2% in 2022, and it used about 63m tons of water in 2019. The company's water use became a controversial topic during Taiwan's drought this year, the country's worst in a half century, which pitted chipmakers against farmers. In the US, a single fab, Intel's 700-acre campus in Ocotillo, Arizona, produced nearly 15,000 tons of waste in the first three months of this year, about 60% of it hazardous. It also consumed 927m gallons of fresh water, enough to fill about 1,400 Olympic swimming pools, and used 561m kilowatt-hours of energy. Chip manufacturing, rather than energy consumption or hardware use, "accounts for most of the carbon output" from electronics devices, the Harvard researcher Udit Gupta and co-authors wrote in a 2020 paper.... [A]mid pressure from investors and electronics makers keen to report greener supply chains to customers, the semiconductor business has been ramping up action on tackling its climate footprint... Greater availability of renewable energy is helping chipmakers reduce their carbon footprint. Intel made a commitment to source 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, as did TSMC, but with a deadline of 2050. Energy consumption accounts for 62% of TSMC's emissions, said a company spokesperson, Nina Kao. The company signed a 20-year deal last year with the Danish energy firm Ørsted, buying all the energy from a 920-megawatt offshore windfarm Ørsted is building in the Taiwan Strait. The deal, which has been described as the world's largest corporate renewables purchase agreement, has benefits for TSMC, said Shashi Barla, renewables analyst at the energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie. As well as guaranteeing a clean electricity supply, it pays a wholesale cost and removes itself from price shocks, "killing two birds with one stone", he said. TSMC's actions have the potential to influence the rest of the industry, said Clifton Fonstad, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, "other manufacturers are likely to follow its lead"... There is also innovation aimed at tackling the worst-polluting materials used in making semiconductors. The chip industry uses different gases during the production process, many of which have a significant climate impact. TSMC said it had implemented scrubbers and other facilities to treat gas emissions. But another route is replacing "dirtier" cleaning gases that clean the delicate tools in semiconductor manufacturing, said Michael Pittroff, a chemical engineer working on semiconductor gases at Solvay Special Chemicals. In industrial tests over the last six years with about a half dozen chipmaker clients, Pittroff said, he and his team had replaced more polluting gases with "cleaner" fluorine, with a lower global warming impact. Other companies target the gases that are used to etch patterns onto and clean the silicon surface of a wafer — the thin piece of material used to make semiconductors. Paris-based industrial gases company Air Liquide, for example, has come up with a line of alternative etching gases with lower global warming impacts... Some experts believe chipmakers will start to modify their processes to incorporate greener gases, especially if the big players make a move. "If TSMC switches, I am sure the others will," said Fonstad. "If TSMC doesn't, then other manufacturers may switch to show they are better than TSMC."

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Boston Dynamics' Spot Becomes a Robotic Watchdog for Hyundai
CNET's Roadshow reports that a safety-oriented version of Boston Dynamics' headless dog-shaped robot "Spot" will begin patrolling a Kia plant in South Korea, "to survey industrial areas remotely and help identify issues before they happen."For example, Spot's new thermal camera and 3D lidar (courtesy of Hyundai's technology chest) can identify personnel near machinery with high temperatures. In this case, our robotic canine friend may be able to pinpoint a fire hazard before a human does. The robot can be controlled remotely by human operators as well, and send potential alarms for hazards and notify plant management of a situation. Hyundai also plans to have the robot accompany night patrols to create a safer environment. With new gadgetry attached to Spot, including the latest artificial intelligence that helps it understand if doors are open or closed, the automaker believes the robot can play a big part in security... All of Spot's new tasks are part of a pilot program so Hyundai can see if there's value in deploying additional Spot-based, robotic security dogs in other plants. Hyundai's motor group has released a slick video showing the security robot in action. It ends with the words "Robotics for Humanity."

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Global Computing's Carbon Footprint Is Bigger Than Previously Estimated
An anonymous reader quotes a report from UPI: According to a new study, published Friday in the journal Patterns, information and communications technology, or ICT for short, is responsible for a greater share of greenhouse gas emissions than previously estimated. When researchers at Lancaster University analyzed earlier attempts to calculate ICT's carbon footprint, they determined scientists had failed to account for the entire life-cycle and supply chain of ICT products and infrastructure. This would include, for example, the emissions produced by makers of ICT components, or the emissions linked with the disposal of ICT products. Scientists have previously pegged ICT's share of greenhouse gas emissions at between 1.8% and 2.8%. But the latest findings suggest global computing is more likely responsible for between 2.1% and 3.9% of greenhouse gas emissions. If the latest estimates are accurate, ICT would have a larger carbon footprint than the aviation industry, which is responsible for 2 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

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Despite 'Economic Distress', Two US Nuclear Power Plants Saved From Closing Through Subsidies
Slashdot reader oumuamua writes that two U.S. nuclear plants owned by Exelon "were almost shutdown prematurely...but were saved at the last minute by the Illinois Senate."The Illinois Senate has approved a clean energy deal which includes a subsidy for Exelon to keep the Byron nuclear plant in operation, after the House passed it last week. The plan gives Exelon $694 million to keep the Byron and Dresden plants operational. Exelon had previously begun drawing down the Byron plant with an anticipated retirement date of Monday, September 13th, and had warned that once the nuclear fuel had been depleted, it could not be refueled after that date. Exelon said Monday that with the passage of the bill, it was preparing to refuel both plants. The company had actually intended to close the Byron plant for some time, according to an earlier article:In February of 2019, a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Exelon said the plant is "showing increased signs of economic distress, which could lead to an early retirement, in a market that does not currently compensate them for their unique contribution to grid resiliency and their ability to produce large amounts of energy without carbon and air pollution." Exelon cited revenue shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars because of declining energy prices and energy rules that allow fossil fuel plants to make cheaper bids at energy auction. Or, as another article puts it, "Exelon says its Byron and Dresden stations are losing money." oumuamua adds that "With the urgency of the climate crisis more clear than ever, no nuclear plant should be closed prematurely while coal plants continue operation in the same state. Many celebrated the Senate move, however, others have criticized Exelon's actions."Exelon first started what we've dubbed the nuclear hostage crisis. It's a pattern where a utility will for whatever reasons threaten closure, which gets the workers very upset, then the local community whose tax base depends on it gets upset, they pressure their legislators, and then the legislators grant bailouts," said Dave Kraft, head of the Nuclear Energy Information Service. Kraft said rather than continuing to support nuclear energy, Illinois needs to redouble its commitment to wind and solar.

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GM Tells Bolt Owners to Park 50 Feet Away From Other Cars
General Motors urged some owners of Chevrolet Bolt electric cars to park and store the vehicles at least 50 feet away from other cars to reduce the risk that a spontaneous fire could spread. Bloomberg reports: The Detroit automaker has recalled all of the roughly 142,000 Bolts sold since 2016 because the battery can catch on fire. GM has taken a $1.8 billion charge so far for the cost of the recall and has been buying cars back from some disgruntled owners. The company expects to recoup much of the cost from battery supplier LG Corp. The new advice is likely to rankle owners who are already limiting their use of the Bolt to avoid overheating the battery and risking a fire. The parking guidance -- recommending a distance of 50 feet from other parked cars -- is especially difficult for owners in urban areas. GM has confirmed 10 fires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the agency has found 13 fires in Bolts, but the company hasn't confirmed the additional three are part of the current recall issue. The Bolt normally can go 259 miles on a charge, but that has been limited by GM's guidance to avoid a fire. The automaker told Bolt owners to limit the charge to 90%, plug in more frequently and avoid depleting the battery to below about 70 miles of remaining range. They're also advised to park their vehicles outside immediately after charging and not leave them charging indoors overnight. The company will be telling Bolt owners who are concerned about parking in public places that it recommends keeping 50 feet from other cars in garages and lots, spokesman Dan Flores said.

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ITER Nuclear Fusion Reactor Hit By COVID Delay, Rising Costs
The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) currently under construction in Cadarache, southern France, will see cost overruns and delays due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, its top official said on Friday. Euractiv reports: When the ITER project was launched in 2015, the schedule was to have the first plasma by the end of 2025 and full nuclear fusion by 2035, said Bernard Bigot, the director general of ITER. "We were on track until the end of 2019 but unfortunately, as you know, the world has been impacted by COVID-19," Bigot told journalists during an online press conference on Friday (17 September). As a result of the pandemic, factories were stopped and ships that took on average 45 days to deliver components from Korea took 90 days to arrive, he indicated. "While we were progressing on a monthly rate of nearly 0.7% on average during the last five years, last year in 2020 we were only able to achieve 0.35%," he explained. "So clearly, first plasma in 2025 is no longer technically achievable." The delay means the costs of ITER will also likely go over budget, because of "running costs that cannot be eliminated," Bigot explained, saying he was preparing a full review for the ITER Council in November 2022. That said, Bigot expressed confidence that with the COVID-19 crisis receding, "we will be able to keep to the real target," which is to attain full fusion power by 2035. [...] The goal of the experimental plant is to demonstrate that fusion power can be generated sustainably, and safely, on a commercial scale. "Fusion provides clean, reliable energy without carbon emissions," said a statement from the 35 ITER partners.

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Rolls-Royce's All-Electric Aircraft Completes 15-Minute Maiden Voyage
Rolls-Royce's "Spirit of Innovation" all-electric airplane completed a 15 minute flight, marking "the beginning of an intensive flight-testing phase in which we will be collecting valuable performance data on the aircraft's electrical power and propulsion system," the company announced. Engadget reports: Rolls Royce said the one-seat airplane has "the most power-dense battery pack every assembled for an aircraft." The aircraft uses (PDF) a 6,000 cell battery pack with a three-motor powertrain that currently delivers 400kW (500-plus horsepower), and Rolls-Royce said the aircraft will eventually achieve speeds of over 300 MPH. The flight comes about a year after the originally scheduled takeoff and about six months after taxi trials. Rolls-Royce is also developing an air taxi with manufacturer Tecnam, with the aim of delivering an "all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market," according to the companies. It has previously teamed with Siemens and Airbus on another e-plane concept. The project was half funded by the Aerospace Technology Institute and UK government, with the aim of eventually creating all-electric passenger planes. "This is not only about breaking a world record; the advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this program has exciting applications for the Urban Air Mobility market and can help make 'jet zero' a reality," said Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East.

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Solar Power Could Become a Catalyst For a Major Synthetic Fuel Upgrade
An anonymous reader quotes a report from InterestingEngineering: As global carbon emissions that stem from fossil fuels keep adding to our ever-growing climate change issue, energy companies have turned their focus on renewables to generate fuel. One of those companies is Synhelion from Switzerland. The company harnesses the energy of the heat of the sun and converts the collected carbon dioxide into synthetic fuels, in turn offering a green and sustainable solution. The system is quite genius. Synhelion uses a mirror field filled with heliostats to reflect the radiation of solar power. The radiation is then concentrated in the solar receiver and turned into clean, high-temperature process heat at around 2.732F (1.500C). Next, the produced heat is turned into a CO2 and H2O mixture in a thermochemical reactor. The end product, the syngas, is then turned into gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel with a gas-to-liquid technology process. What makes this sustainable is the fact that the company's thermal energy storage (TES) saves the excess heat after each process which keeps the operation going 24/7. And how does the solar receiver work? The company says the technology is inspired by nature. To reach ultra-high temperatures, the solar receiver mimics Earth's greenhouse gas effect. The chamber is filled with greenhouse gases that are usually water vapor or water and CO2 mixtures. After solar radiation collected with heliostats enters the chamber, the black surface of the chamber absorbs the heat, thermalizes, and re-radiates it. The greenhouse gas then absorbs the thermal radiation, acting as a heat transfer fluid (HTF), which can, later on, be turned into any type of liquid fuel. And liquid fuels are easy to transport which makes them low-cost compared to their solid counterparts. When there's no sun, the HTF flows through the TES in the opposite direction to recover the previously stored thermal energy. The hot HTF from the storage drives the thermochemical processes in the reactor that keeps the operation working. "The company states that through this technology, it can provide fuels at a cheaper price with a 50 to 100 percent lower carbon footprint compared to fossil fuels," the report adds. "In addition to Synhelion's aligned motives with the Paris Agreement's CO2 reduction targets, it is supported by larger industries looking to cut their emissions -- and eventually achieve net-zero -- by 2030."

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Razer Says Its New Mechanical Keyboards Have 'Near-Zero' Input Latency
Razer has announced an update to its popular Huntsman lineup of mechanical keyboards that reduces input latency to "near-zero," the company claims. The Verge reports: [T]he newly announced Huntsman V2 and Huntsman V2 Tenkeyless (which omits the numpad, volume wheel, and media controls for a more compact board) both have a polling rate of 8,000Hz, meaning they can theoretically detect key presses eight times faster than the original Huntsman keyboards. Combined with the keyboards' optical switches, which use an infrared beam of light to sense when they've been pressed rather than metal contact points, Razer reckons the two new Huntsman keyboards will feel more responsive for gaming, especially when combined with a high-refresh rate monitor. In contrast, standard mechanical switches can suffer from what's known as a "debounce delay," when the keyboard has to take a moment to work out if a key has actually been pressed or not. Other improvements introduced with the V2 keyboards include new doubleshot PBT keycaps, which have a more durable design with legends that shouldn't wear away over time. The doubleshot design also allows the keyboard's programmable RGB backlighting to shine through the caps. There are seven preset lighting effects built into the keyboard, and you can customize them via Razer's software and save them to the board's firmware. Both keyboards are available with either Razer's clicky or linear optical switches. The linear switches have also seen improvements since the keyboard's first iteration, with the addition of a silicon sound dampener inside, and more lubricant to make them feel smoother to press. Razer also says it's improved the acoustics of the keyboards, with the addition of a new layer of sound dampening foam, and there's now a wrist rest included in the box with both keyboards. The full-size Huntsman V2 features a volume wheel and media controls on its top right, but only the smaller tenkeyless model has a detachable USB-C cable.

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Lucid Air Electric Sedan Zips By Tesla With EPA-Rated 520-Mile Range
The EPA says the Lucid Air electric sedan will do 520 miles on a full charge, which is well over 100 miles more than the Tesla Model S Long Range, which delivers an estimated 405 miles. CNET reports: The 520-mile range estimate is specific to the Air Dream Edition Range with 19-inch wheels. Buyers should know the optional 21-inch wheels drop the range to an estimated 481 miles. Still, that's damned impressive. For those who select the Air Dream Edition Performance, they won't be penalized too much with a lower range. The car still comes in at an EPA-estimated 471 miles with 19-inch wheels and 451 miles with 21-inch wheels. The trade-off is there's 1,111 horsepower on tap with the Performance, compared to only 933 hp for the Range model. The Dream Edition cars are two limited-edition choices Lucid sold out of a while ago, but don't fret, there are other options. For now, the EPA also got its hands on the Air Grand Touring trim, which returns 516 miles of range after the feds' tests. Even if you missed out on the Dream Edition Range, losing just four miles isn't the worst thing in the world. Opt for the larger 21-inch wheels on this model and the range figure drops to 469 miles. This particular configuration also provides a no-less-substantial 800 hp. If you ask me, there's nothing anyone's compromising on here. Production of the first customer cars is meant to start later this year, with prices for the Dream Editions starting at $169,000.

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AMD: We Stand Ready To Make Arm Chips
AMD's CFO Devinder Kumar has commented that AMD stands ready to manufacture Arm chips if needed, noting that the company's customers want to work with AMD on Arm-based solutions. From a report: Kumar's remarks came during last week's Deutsche Bank Technology Conference, building on comments from AMD CEO Lisa Su earlier in the year that underscored the company's willingness to create custom silicon solutions for its customers, be they based on x86 or Arm architectures. Intel also intends to produce Arm and RISC-V chips, too, meaning that the rise of non-x86 architectures will be partially fueled by the stewards of the dominant x86 ecosystem. "But I'll tell you from my standpoint, when you look at compute solutions, whether it's x86 or ARM or even other areas, that is an area for our focus on investment for us," AMD CFO Devinder Kumar responded to a question about the company's view of competing Arm chips. "We know compute really well. Even ARM, as you referenced, we have a very good relationship with ARM. And we understand that our customers want to work with us with that particular product to deliver the solutions. We stand ready to go ahead and do that even though it's not x86, although we believe x86 is a dominant strength in that area."

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Amazon Gives Kindle E-Readers a Rare User Interface Overhaul
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Amazon's Kindle e-readers get new software updates regularly, and they're mostly of the nondescript, invisible "performance improvements and bug fixes" variety. But the most recent operating system update (version 5.13.7) is rolling out now, and it refreshes the device's user interface for the first time since 2016 or so. Amazon says that redesigns for the Home and Library screens, which are mostly untouched in the current Kindle update, will be coming "later this year." The software update that enables the new interface began rolling out in August, but because Kindles only install updates automatically when they're charging and connected to Wi-Fi, it will be a few weeks or months before all supported Kindles will have a chance to grab the update (mine only installed it over this past weekend). The new update is available on most Kindles released in or after 2015, including the 7th- and 10th-generation Kindle Paperwhite, the 8th-, 9th-, and 10th-generation Kindle Oasis, and the 8th- and 10th-generation standard Kindle. Older "7th-generation" Kindle devices like 2014's Kindle Voyage don't appear to be supported. [...] The new update doesn't fix Amazon's confusing Kindle naming scheme, which groups different devices into "generations" that are numbered based roughly on when they were released, not on what generation of product they actually are; the "10th-generation" Paperwhite is actually only the fourth Paperwhite Amazon has released. But you now can head into the Device Info screen and see which Kindle you're using instead of having to guess.

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Scientists Can Now Assemble Entire Genomes On Their Personal Computers In Minutes
Researchers have developed a technique for reconstructing whole genomes, including the human genome, on a personal computer. "This technique is about a hundred times faster than current state-of-the-art approaches and uses one-fifth the resources," reports Phys.Org. From the report: The study, published September 14 in the journal Cell Systems, allows for a more compact representation of genome data inspired by the way in which words, rather than letters, offer condensed building blocks for language models. [...] To approach genome assembly more efficiently than current techniques, which involve making pairwise comparisons between all possible pairs of reads, [researchers] turned to language models. Building from the concept of a de Bruijn graph, a simple, efficient data structure used for genome assembly, the researchers developed a minimizer-space de Bruin graph (mdBG), which uses short sequences of nucleotides called minimizers instead of single nucleotides. "Our minimizer-space de Bruijn graphs store only a small fraction of the total nucleotides, while preserving the overall genome structure, enabling them to be orders of magnitude more efficient than classical de Bruijn graphs," says [one of the researchers]. The researchers applied their method to assemble real HiFi data (which has almost perfect single-molecule read accuracy) for Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies, as well as human genome data provided by Pacific Biosciences (PacBio). When they evaluated the resulting genomes, [researchers] found that their mdBG-based software required about 33 times less time and 8 times less random-access memory (RAM) computing hardware than other genome assemblers. Their software performed genome assembly for the HiFi human data 81 times faster with 18 times less memory usage than the Peregrine assembler and 338 times faster with 19 times less memory usage than the hifiasm assembler. Next, [researchers] used their method to construct an index for a collection of 661,406 bacterial genomes, the largest collection of its kind to date. They found that the novel technique could search the entire collection for antimicrobial resistance genes in 13 minutes -- a process that took 7 hours using standard sequence alignment.

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