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Top Stories for the Week of September 5, 2018

  • Episode 572
  • September 5, 2018

Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday September 5, 2018


Mozilla says it will soon be modifying its Firefox browser to block all user-tracking on websites by default.

Mozilla says it will soon be modifying its Firefox browser to block all user-tracking on websites by default.

Mozilla VP of product strategy, Nick Nguyen, said on Thursday, “In the near future, Firefox will, by default, protect users by blocking tracking while also offering a clear set of controls to give our users more choice over what information they share with sites."

The move will see an initial trial of the feature in September and, should that work out, the Firefox 63 rollout will include a component to immediately block slow-loading trackers. By the time Firefox 65 is released, Mozilla says that it hopes to have all cross-site tracking blocked by default.

The move means a shift by Mozilla from the more passive “Do Not Track” system that relies on sites to recognize the notice and disable their trackers, to an active feature that will instead block tracking by default and require the user themselves to opt in to a website’s trackers.

Users will have the option to enable trackers by default.

Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge/IE and Apple’s Safari also sport a do-not-track option on their browsers. The planned updates would, however, make Firefox the most aggressive browser when it comes to thwarting trackers.

Mozilla contends that the decision is about more than privacy. The developer notes that slow-loading trackers are to blame for some pages taking as much as 50 per cent more time to fully load than they would otherwise.

Nguyen goes on, "Some sites will continue to want user data in exchange for content, but now they will have to ask for it."

Source: www.theregister.co.uk

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Windows on Arm is now a thing.

Microsoft's long journey away from Intel reached escape velocity over the past week, as the first traditional laptop with Qualcomm's Arm processor was revealed by Lenovo: the Yoga C630 WOS.

"WOS" stands for "Windows on Snapdragon" - how Qualcomm prefers to call "Windows on Arm." And since it's Qualcomm Inside, not Intel Inside, it gets to call the shots.

This is the second "always connected" PC from Lenovo to run a Qualcomm chip, but the first to run the Snapdragon 850 processor. Officially announced last year, the Microsoft-Qualcomm alliance Always Connected was created to produce chips with support for legacy x86 instructions into an Arm processor; which should result in full blown Windows running on devices with greater power efficiency than Intel could manage.

How much more efficiency? Qualcomm says, "25+ hours of local video playback on a single charge."

This particular Yoga is a smart but generic machine with 13.3-inch touchscreen convertible display. There is an LTE modem built in, and the 2.9 GHz Snapdragon 850 system has 4 gigabytes of RAM.

They're expensive, but Lenovo reckons those enterprise users will pay for that longer battery life.

Microsoft's last attempt to put Windows on Arm showed that most legacy applications were so deeply reliant on x86 quirks that only a subset could run, and customers didn't want a subset. Windows RT was short-lived.

Source: www.theregister.co.uk

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Uber says it plans to focus more on its electric scooter and bike business, and less on cars, despite the fact it could hurt profits.

Uber says it plans to focus more on its electric scooter and bike business, and less on cars, despite the fact it could hurt profits.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, says, "During rush hour, it is very inefficient for a one-tonne hulk of metal to take one person 10 blocks." He believes individual modes of transport are better suited to inner city travel. He also forecasts users would make more frequent shorter journeys in future.

The ride-sharing firm has invested in a number of bike firms in the last year.

Its “Jump” electric bikes are now available in eight US cities, including New York and Washington, and will soon launch in Berlin as well.

It also teamed up with Lime, an electric scooter company, while forging deals in other areas such as public transit and freight.

Khosrowshahi admitted that Uber makes less money from a bike ride than from the same trip in a car, but said this would be offset as customers used the app more frequently for shorter journeys.

He says, "We are willing to trade off short-term per-unit economics for long-term higher engagement."

He also acknowledged that Uber drivers could lose out from the plan, but said over the longer term drivers would benefit from more lucrative, longer journeys.

Uber, which lost $4.5bn last year, is under pressure to improve its finances ahead of an anticipated public listing.

Revenue from its taxi business is rising but the cost of expansion into new areas such as bike sharing and food delivery has meant losses have grown rapidly.

Regulatory pressure is also threatening growth in some markets.

This month New York voted to impose a temporary cap on new licences for ride-hailing vehicles to tackle congestion, while the mayor of London has said he will seek similar restrictions.

Source: www.bbc.co.uk

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Gene-editing hope for muscular dystrophy.

Scientists have for the first time used gene-editing to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in a large mammal, a significant step towards effective treatment for people with the disorder.

The condition, which has no cure, leads to loss of muscle function and strength and ultimately an early death.

But in a study on dogs, scientists were able to partially restore the key protein people with DMD cannot make.

They hope in the future to test the technique in people.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most common fatal genetic disease in children and almost entirely affects boys and young men.

Children born with the degenerative disease have a genetic mutation that stops them producing dystrophin, a protein that is vital for muscle strength and function.

The same disorder also occurs in many dog breeds.

Using the “Crispr” gene-editing tool, scientists were able to restore dystrophin in four dogs that had the most common genetic mutation seen in DMD patients, by making a single strategic cut in the faulty DNA.

This was done by injecting the dogs, who were one month old, with two harmless viruses that edited the genome of the dog in the cells of the muscles and heart.

Scientists have estimated that 15% or greater improvement is needed to significantly help patients.

Within several weeks of the edit made in the dogs, the missing protein was restored in muscle tissue throughout the body, including a 92% correction in the heart and 58% in the diaphragm, the main muscle needed for breathing.

Richard Piercy, professor of comparative neuromuscular disease at the Royal Veterinary College, said: "The ambition is to show that this is safe and effective in dogs and then move into human trials.”

That said, they also hope the treatment will be used to help dogs afflicted with the disorder.

This is the first time the technique was carried out in a large mammal. The proof-of-concept study raises hopes that Crispr can ultimately lead to more effective treatments for DMD.

This isn't a cure, but Darren Griffin, professor of genetics at the University of Kent, said, "This work represents a small, but very significant step towards the use of gene editing for DMD. Any steps towards significant treatment regimes can only be good news."

Dr. Kate Adcock, director of research and innovation at the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: "The next step will be to conduct larger, longer-term studies to see if the gene editing approach does help to slow the progression of the condition and improve muscle strength."

Source: www.bbc.co.uk

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


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