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Automation is Democratizing Experimental Science
New advances are taking automation to the highest end of human endeavors, offering scientists a shot at some of the most intractable problems that have confounded them -- and along the way tipping a global balance to give upstarts like China a more level playing field in the lab. From a report: A combination of artificial intelligence and nimble robots are allowing scientists to do more, and be faster, than they ever could with mere human hands and brains. "We're in the middle of a paradigm shift, a time when the choice of experiments and the execution of experiments are not really things that people do," says Bob Murphy, the head of the computational biology department at Carnegie Mellon University. Automated science is "moving the role of the scientist higher and higher up the food chain," says Murphy. Researchers are focusing their efforts on big-picture problem-solving rather than the nitty-gritty of running experiments. He says it will also allow scientists to take on more problems at once -- and solve big, lingering ones that are too complex to tackle right now. Starting next year, Murphy's department will offer students a master's degree in automated science, the university announced last week.

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Samsung Announces Galaxy Book 2, a 2-in-1 Windows 10 S Hybrid With Gigabit LTE and 20-Hour Battery Life
At an event in New York City today, the Seoul, South Korea electronics giant took the wraps off of the Galaxy Book 2, a Windows ultraportable powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 850 chip. From a report: The only catch? It runs Windows 10 S, a slimmed-down version of Microsoft's operating system that can only run applications from the Windows Store -- specifically Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and Win32 apps that Microsoft has explicitly approved (including, but not limited to, Microsoft Office). You can upgrade to Windows 10 for free, of course, but it's an emulated experience. But if that doesn't bother you, you'll be able to pick up a Book 2 at AT&T, Microsoft, and Samsung stores online for $999.99 starting November 2, 2018. It'll hit brick and mortar at AT&T, Sprint and Verizon later in the month. The Book2 -- which measures 11.32 x 7.89 x 30 inches and weighs in at 1.75 pounds -- looks sort of like Microsoft's Surface. Its gorgeous 12-inch 2,160 by 1,440-pixel AMOLED display (216 pixels per inch) is fully compatible with Samsung's S Pen stylus, which comes bundled in the box (along with a detachable keyboard that attaches magnetically to the bottom bezel), allowing you to scribble notes and mark up documents easily. The screen's paired with stereo speakers tuned by Samsung subsidiary AKG Acoustic with support for Dolby Atmos, a premium audio format for multichannel surround sound setups, and there's two cameras onboard: a front-facing 5-megapixel camera on tap and an 8-megapixel camera on the rear. Under the hood is the aforementioned Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 system-on-chip paired with 4GB of RAM, comprising four high-performance processor cores running at 2.96 GHz and four power-efficient cores clocked at 1.7 GHz.

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The Future of the Cloud Depends On Magnetic Tape
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Although the century-old technology has disappeared from most people's daily view, magnetic tape lives on as the preferred medium for safely archiving critical cloud data in case, say, a software bug deletes thousands of Gmail messages, or a natural disaster wipes out some hard drives. The world's electronic financial, health, and scientific records, collected on state-of-the-art cloud servers belonging to Amazon.com, Microsoft, Google, and others, are also typically recorded on tape around the same time they are created. Usually the companies keep one copy of each tape on-site, in a massive vault, and send a second copy to somebody like Iron Mountain. Unfortunately for the big tech companies, the number of tape manufacturers has shrunk over the past three years from six to just two -- Sony and Fujifilm -- and each seems to think that's still one too many. The Japanese companies have said the tape business is a mere rounding error as far as they're concerned, but each has spent millions of dollars arguing before the U.S. International Trade Commission to try to ban the other from importing tapes to America. [...] The tech industry worries that if Sony or Fujifilm knocks the other out of the U.S., the winner will hike prices, meaning higher costs for the big cloud providers; for old-line storage makers, including IBM, HPE, and Quantum; and, ultimately, for all those companies' customers. [...] Although Sony and Fujifilm have each assured the trade commission that they could fill the gap if their rival's products were shut out of the U.S., the need for storage continues to grow well beyond old conceptions. Construction is slated to begin as soon as next year on the Square Kilometer Array, a radio telescope with thousands of antennas in South Africa and Australia meant to detect signals emitted more than 13 billion years ago. It's been estimated the project could generate an exabyte (1 billion gigabytes) of raw data every day, the equivalent of 300 times the material in the U.S. Library of Congress and a huge storage headache all by itself.

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Researchers 3D Print Custom-Sized Lithium-Ion Batteries
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: [N]ew research published in ACS Applied Energy Materials shows that it's possible to 3D-print lithium-ion batteries into whatever shape you need. The problem that has stood in the way of 3D-printed lithium-ion batteries (at least, until now) is that the polymers traditionally used in this kind of printing aren't ionic conductors. The goal was to find a way to print custom-sized lithium-ion batteries in a cost-effective way using a regular, widely available 3D printer. In order to make the batteries conductive, the team led by Christopher Reyes and Benjamin Wiley infused the polylactic acid (PLA) usually used in 3D printing with an electrolyte solution. The researchers also incorporated graphene and carbon nanotubes into the design of the case to help increase conductivity. After these design modifications, the team was able to 3D print an LED bracelet, complete with a custom-sized lithium-ion battery. The battery was only able to power the bracelet for about 60 seconds, but the researchers have ideas for how to improve the capacity. For those interested, Engadget has a short video on the subject.

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Apple Launches Portal For US Users To Download Their Data
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Apple on Wednesday began allowing users in the U.S. to download a copy of all of the data that they have stored with the company from a single online portal. U.S. users will be able to download data such as all of their address book contacts, calendar appointments, music streaming preferences and details about past Apple product repairs. Previously, customers could get their data by contacting Apple directly. In May, when Apple first launched the online privacy portal, it only allowed U.S. users to either correct their data or delete their Apple accounts.

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GPU-Z Can Now Detect Fake NVIDIA Graphics Cards
An anonymous reader shares a report: Sellers have been modifying lower end NVIDIA graphics cards and selling them more powerful cards online. In a recent version of the GPU-Z graphics card information utility, TechPowerUp has added the ability to now detect these fake NVIDIA cards. This new feature allows buyers of cards to detect if the card is actually a relabled NVIDIA G84, G86, G92, G94, G96, GT215, GT216, GT218, GF108, GF106, GF114, GF116, GF119, or GK106 GPU by displaying an exclamation point where the NVIDIA logo would normally appear and also prepends the string "[FAKE]" before the card's name.

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Some Electric Car Drivers Might Spew More CO2 Than Diesel Cars, New Research Shows
bricko shares a report from Bloomberg with the caption, "Making batteries is a mess": Beneath the hoods of millions of the clean electric cars rolling onto the world's roads in the next few years will be a dirty battery. Every major carmaker has plans for electric vehicles to cut greenhouse gas emissions, yet their manufacturers are, by and large, making lithium-ion batteries in places with some of the most polluting grids in the world. By 2021, capacity will exist to build batteries for more than 10 million cars running on 60 kilowatt-hour packs, according to data of Bloomberg NEF. Most supply will come from places like China, Thailand, Germany and Poland that rely on non-renewable sources like coal for electricity. An electric vehicle in Germany would take more than 10 years to break even with an efficient combustion engine's emissions. "We're facing a bow wave of additional CO2 emissions," said Andreas Radics, a managing partner at Munich-based automotive consultancy Berylls Strategy Advisors, which argues that for now, drivers in Germany or Poland may still be better off with an efficient diesel engine. The findings, among the more bearish ones around, show that while electric cars are emission-free on the road, they still discharge a lot of the carbon-dioxide that conventional cars do. Just to build each car battery -- weighing upwards of 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) in size for sport-utility vehicles -- would emit up to 74 percent more C02 than producing an efficient conventional car if it's made in a factory powered by fossil fuels in a place like Germany, according to Berylls' findings. Yet regulators haven't set out clear guidelines on acceptable carbon emissions over the life cycle of electric cars, even as the likes of China, France and the U.K. move toward outright bans of combustion engines. It all has to do with manufacturing. According to estimates of Mercedes-Benz's electric-drive system integration department, manufacturing an electric car pumps out "significantly" more climate-warming gases than a conventional car, which releases only 20 percent of its lifetime CO2 at this stage. "Just switching to renewable energy for manufacturing would slash emissions by 65 percent, according to Transport & Environment," reports Bloomberg. "In Norway, where hydro-electric energy powers practically the entire grid, the Berylls study showed electric cars generate nearly 60 percent less CO2 over their lifetime, compared with even the most efficient fuel-powered vehicles."

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Palm Is Back With a Mini Companion Android Phone That's Exclusive To Verizon
A couple months ago, it was reported that the dearly departed mobile brand known as Palm would be making a comeback. That day has finally come. Yesterday, Palm announced The Palm, a credit card-sized Android smartphone that's supposed to act as a second phone. Droid Life reports: The Palm, which is its name, is a mini-phone with a 3.3-inch HD display that's about the size of a credit card, so it should fit nicely in your palm. It could be put on a chain or tossed in a small pocket or tucked just about anywhere, thanks to that small size. It's still a mostly fully-featured smartphone, though, with cameras and access to Android apps and your Verizon phone number and texts. The idea here is that you have a normal phone with powerful processor and big screen that you use most of the time. But when you want to disconnect some, while not being fully disconnected, you could grab Palm instead of your other phone. It uses Verizon's NumberSync to bring your existing phone number with you, just like you would if you had an LTE smartwatch or other LTE equipped device. Some of the specs of this Verizon-exclusive phone include a Snapdragon 435 processor with 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, 12MP rear and 8MP front cameras, 800mAh battery, IP68 water and dust resistance, and Android 8.1. As Kellen notes, "It does cost $350, which is a lot for a faux phone..." We've already seen a number of gadget fans perplexed by this device. Digital Trends goes as far as calling it "the stupidest product of the year."

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Google Maps Adds EV Charging Station Info
Google Maps is adding a new feature that will let you search for charging stations and provide you with useful information about that station. The feature is rolling out today and will be available on both Android and iOS. Engadget reports: Just search for "EV charging stations" or "EV charging," and Google Maps will locate those nearby. It will also tell you what types of ports are available, how many there are as well as the station's charging speeds, and businesses with charging stations will now have a link that will lead you to more information about their setup. Additionally, you'll be able to see what other users thought of the station, as Google Maps will bring up user-posted photos, ratings and reviews. Google Maps will include information about charging stations from Tesla and Chargepoint worldwide. In the US, it will also source info about SemaConnect, EVgo and Blink stations. UK users will have access to Chargemaster and Pod Point stations, while Australia and New Zealand EV drivers will see info on Chargefox stations. Unfortunately, you won't be able to tell if individual charging stations are occupied. Also, Google doesn't have Electrify America, a Volkswagen subsidiary that's building a nationwide network of fast-charging stations with universal technology.

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Chinese Phone Maker Huawei Launches Mate 20 Pro Featuring In-Screen Fingerprint Sensor, Two-Way Wireless Charging, 3 Rear Cameras and 4,200mAh Battery
Huawei's new Mate 20 Pro has a massive screen, three cameras on the back and a fingerprint scanner embedded in the display. From a report: The new top-end phone from the Chinese firm aims to secure its place at the top of the market alongside Samsung, having recently beaten Apple to become the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in August. The Mate 20 Pro follows Huawei's tried and trusted format for its Mate series: a huge 6.39in QHD+ OLED screen, big 4,200mAh battery and powerful new Huawei Kirin 980 processor -- Huawei's first to be produced at 7 nanometres, matching Apple's latest A12 chip in the 2018 iPhones. New for this year is an infrared 3D facial recognition system, similar to that used by Apple for its Face ID in the iPhone XS, and one of the first fingerprint scanners embedded in the screen that is widely available in the UK, removing the need for a fingerprint scanner on the back or a chin on the front. The Mate 20 Pro is water resistant to IP68 standards and has a sleek new design reminiscent of Samsung's S-series phones, with curved glass on the front and back. The back also has an new pattern etched into the glass, which is smooth to the touch but ridged when running your nail over it. On the back is a new version of Huawei's award-winning triple camera system using a 40-megapixel standard camera, an 8-megapixel telephoto camera with a 3x optical zoom and new for this year is a 20-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera, replacing the monochrome sensor used on the P20 Pro. The Mate 20 Pro runs EMUI 9, which is based on Android 9 Pie. The variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is available for 899 Euro starting today.

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Medtronic Locks Down Vulnerable Pacemaker Programming Kit Due To Cybersecurity Concerns
AmiMoJo shares a report from The Register: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising health professionals to keep an eye on some of the equipment they use to monitor pacemakers and other heart implants. The watchdog's alert this week comes after Irish medical device maker Medtronic said it will lock some of its equipment out of its software update service, meaning the hardware can't download and install new code from its servers. That may seem counterintuitive, however, it turns out security vulnerabilities in its technology that it had previously thought could only be exploited locally could actually be exploited via its software update network. Malicious updates could be pushed to Medtronic devices by hackers intercepting and tampering with the equipment's internet connections -- the machines would not verify they were actually downloading legit Medtronic firmware -- and so the biz has cut them off.

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The Full Photoshop CC Is Coming To the iPad In 2019
The "real version" of Photoshop is coming to the iPad next year, complete with a user interface similar to the desktop application and all the main tools. Ars Technica reports: Photoshop for iPad has a user interface structured similarly to the desktop application. It is immediately familiar to users of the application but tuned for touch screens, with larger targets and adaptations for the tablet as well as gestures to streamline workflows. Both touch and pencil input are supported. The interface is somewhat simpler than the desktop version, and although the same Photoshop code is running under the hood to ensure there's no loss of fidelity, not every feature will be available in the mobile version. The first release will contain the main tools while Adobe plans to add more in the future. Cloud syncing is a key element of Photoshop on iPad. Edits made on the iPad will be synchronized transparently with the desktop -- no conversions or import/export process to go through. Using a feature not available in the iPad version should then be as simple as hitting save and then opening the file on the desktop, picking up where you left off. Adobe is also reportedly building a tablet painting app called Project Gemini, which "simulates real brushes, paints, and materials as well as the interactions between them," reports Ars. "It combines raster graphics, vector drawing, and the Photoshop engine into a single application designed for artwork and illustration."

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Printer Makers Are Crippling Cheap Ink Cartridges Via Bogus 'Security Updates'
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Printer maker Epson is under fire this month from activist groups after a software update prevented customers from using cheaper, third party ink cartridges. It's just the latest salvo in a decades-long effort by printer manufacturers to block consumer choice, often by disguising printer downgrades as essential product improvements. For several decades now printer manufacturers have lured consumers into an arguably-terrible deal: shell out a modest sum for a mediocre printer, then pay an arm and a leg for replacement printer cartridges that cost relatively-little to actually produce. The Electronic Frontier Foundation now says that Epson has been engaged in the same behavior. The group says it recently learned that in late 2016 or early 2017, Epson issued a "poison pill" software update that effectively downgraded user printers to block third party cartridges, but disguised the software update as a meaningful improvement. The EFF has subsequently sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, arguing that Epson's lack of transparency can easily be seen as "misleading and deceptive" under Texas consumer protection laws. "When restricted to Epson's own cartridges, customers must pay Epson's higher prices, while losing the added convenience of third party alternatives, such as refillable cartridges and continuous ink supply systems," the complaint notes. "This artificial restriction of third party ink options also suppresses a competitive ink market and has reportedly caused some manufacturers of refillable cartridges and continuous ink supply systems to exit the market."

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The New and Improved MacBook Keyboards Have the Same Old Problems
Casey Johnston, writing for The Outline: Apple never actually caved to user complaints that its top-of-the-line computers developed sticky or dead keyboards very easily, despite having now been served with several keyboard-related class action lawsuits. In June, the company offered to repair computers with these keyboards for free for four years following the date of purchase (the cost of being without their computer notwithstanding). It claimed only a "small percentage" of users were affected. I was one of them, several times, and there were many, many others. Compared to this time last year, its computer sales are down ten percent, and not a few people have been holding off on purchasing any computer from its line in fear of getting stuck with a keyboard that doesn't work. In July, Apple slightly redesigned the very low profile butterfly keyboard on its MacBooks and MacBook Pros, not because "a small percentage" of the previous version was rendered useless by a speck of dust, the company said, but to make it quieter; it even invited the tech press to try it out. iFixit teardowns of the hardware revealed that, in fact, Apple had added a silicone membrane under the keys that looks quite a bit like it's meant to keep dust and debris from lodging under the key and locking it up. Was that the idea? No, Apple unequivocally said. [...] But checking around online, it appears the new keyboards have the same old issues. They may be delayed, but they happen nonetheless. The MacRumors forum has a long thread about the the "gen 3 butterfly keyboard" where users have been sharing their experiences since Apple updated the design.

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Intel To Support 128GB of DDR4 on Core 9th Gen Desktop Processors
Ian Cutress, writing for AnandTech: One of today's announcements threw up an interesting footnote worthy of further investigation. With its latest products, HP announced that their mainstream desktop platforms would be shipped with up to 32GB of memory, which was further expandable up to 128GB. Intel has confirmed to us, based on new memory entering the market, that there will be an adjustment to the memory support of the latest processors. Normally mainstream processors only support 64GB, by virtue of two memory channels, two DIMMs per memory channel (2DPC), and the maximum size of a standard consumer UDIMM being 16GB of DDR4, meaning 4x16GB = 64GB. However the launch of two different technologies, both double height double capacity 32GB DDR4 modules from Zadak and G.Skill, as well as new 16Gb DDR4 chips coming from Samsung, means that technically in a consumer system with four memory slots, up to 128GB might be possible.

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