'Why Modeling the Spread of COVID-19 Is So Damn Hard'

Slashdot reader the_newsbeagle writes: At the beginning of the pandemic, modelers pulled out everything they had to predict the spread of the virus. This article explains the three main types of models used: 1) compartmental models that sort people into categories of exposure and recovery, 2) data-driven models that often use neural networks to make predictions, and 3) agent-based models that are something like a Sim Pandemic.

“Researchers say they’ve learned a lot of lessons modeling this pandemic, lessons that will carry over to the next…” the article points out:

Finally, researchers emphasize the need for agility. Jarad Niemi, an associate professor of statistics at Iowa State University who helps run the forecast hub used by the CDC, says software packages have made it easier to build models quickly, and the code-sharing site GitHub lets people share and compare their models. COVID-19 is giving modelers a chance to try out all their newest tools, says biologist Lauren Ancel Meyers, the head of the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin. “The pace of innovation, the pace of development, is unlike ever before,” she says. “There are new statistical methods, new kinds of data, new model structures.”

“If we want to beat this virus,” says Mikhail Prokopenko, a computer scientist at the University of Sydney, “we have to be as adaptive as it is.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



Source: Slashdot – ‘Why Modeling the Spread of COVID-19 Is So Damn Hard’

How Square Enix Is Managing Hype Expectations For Final Fantasy XVI

Wonder how things are coming along with Final Fantasy XVI? You’re not alone. Nier creator Yoko Taro does, too, and today during a Square Enix live stream for the virtual Tokyo Game Show, he brought up the upcoming game.

Read more…



Source: Kotaku – How Square Enix Is Managing Hype Expectations For Final Fantasy XVI

How to Tell If Someone Is Flirting With You, According to Science

Back in the day when we actually used to interact with other people in real life, it wasn’t always clear whether someone was being friendly, wanted something from you, or was actually flirting. After several months in isolation, we’ve probably not gotten any better at this. If you’re someone who likes to rely on data…

Read more…



Source: LifeHacker – How to Tell If Someone Is Flirting With You, According to Science

How to Track Your Ballot After You've Mailed It In

There are so many factors at play in the upcoming presidential election, and one of them is how the country is going to vote during a pandemic. Of course, in-person voting is still an option, but with so many states offering the electorate the chance to vote by mail, it will likely be a popular option in November.

Read more…



Source: LifeHacker – How to Track Your Ballot After You’ve Mailed It In

Battle of the $350 laptops: Acer Swift 1 vs. Gateway Ryzen 3 3200U

Acer's Swift 1 looks a little more professional than Gateway's GWTN141-2—but looks aren't everything, as our testing conclusively demonstrates.

Enlarge / Acer’s Swift 1 looks a little more professional than Gateway’s GWTN141-2—but looks aren’t everything, as our testing conclusively demonstrates. (credit: Jim Salter)

We’ve been on the lookout for good but seriously cheap laptops for a while now. Acer’s $650 Swift 3 is an excellent choice for budget laptops in the under-$700 range, but we’ve been really itching to find one in the almost nonexistent sub-$400 category. To that end, today we’re looking at two of Walmart’s finest—a $378 Acer Swift 1 and a $350 Gateway GWTN141-2.

Both of these are serviceable if cheap laptops, but the Gateway, despite being the less expensive model, will be the clear winner for most people. It’s more powerful, more repairable, more upgrade-able, and in our testing, a bit more reliable as well.

Specs at a glance: as reviewed
Acer Swift 1 SF114-32 Gateway GWTN141-2
OS Windows 10 Home (S mode) Windows 10 Home (S mode)
Screen 14 inch IPS FHD (1920×1080, 250nits) 14.1 inch IPS FHD (1920×1080, 190nits)
CPU Pentium Silver N5000 Ryzen 3 3200U
GPU Intel UHD 605 AMD Vega 3
RAM 4GiB DDR4 (soldered, non expandable) 4GiB DDR4 (soldered, with one empty DIMM slot)
HDD 64GB eMMC
(SanDisk DF4064)
128GB NVMe M.2
(Netac S539N)
Networking Intel 9560
2×2 Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0
Realtek 8821CE
1×1 Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 4.2
Ports
  • 1x USB-C (data only)
  • 2x USB-A 3.0
  • 1x USB-A 2.0
  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x SD card
  • 1x 3.5mm audio combo jack
  • 1x DC barrel jack
  • 1x Kensington lock slot
  • 1x USB-C (data only)
  • 2x USB-A 3.0
  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x SD card
  • 1x 3.5mm audio combo jack
  • 1x DC barrel jack
  • 1x Kensington lock slot
Size 12.7″ x 9″ x 0.6″
(323 x 229 x 15mm)
13.1″ x 8.9″ x 0.8″
(333 x 226 x 21mm)
Weight 2.9 pounds (1.3kg) 3.5 pounds (1.6kg)
Warranty 1 year limited 1 year limited
Extras Fingerprint reader,
720P camera
Fingerprint reader (in touchpad),
720P camera
Price as tested $378 at Amazon and Walmart $350 at Walmart

Acer Swift 1 SF114-32

We didn’t actually intend to test or review the Swift 1—we ordered a Walmart Motile 14, with a Ryzen 5 processor for only $350. But Walmart has an unfortunate tendency to just throw in any similar product when it runs low on stock, and the Swift 1 is what got sent in its place—with no notification, either by email or in our account at Walmart.com, and no paperwork in the box either.

Read 36 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Battle of the 0 laptops: Acer Swift 1 vs. Gateway Ryzen 3 3200U

Today in Japan, Koei Tecmo just announced a self-titled Dynasty Warriors mobile game for iOS and And

Today in Japan, Koei Tecmo just announced a self-titled Dynasty Warriors mobile game for iOS and Android. A closed beta gets underway next month in Japan. No word yet on an international release. 

Read more…



Source: Kotaku – Today in Japan, Koei Tecmo just announced a self-titled Dynasty Warriors mobile game for iOS and And

Independent Developers Tackling Snapdragon 630/660 SoC Support For The Upstream Linux Kernel

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 is approaching four years old and the Snapdragon 630 a bit younger than that, but these mobile phone SoCs may soon find renewed life on the upstream Linux kernel thanks to the work of community developers…

Source: Phoronix – Independent Developers Tackling Snapdragon 630/660 SoC Support For The Upstream Linux Kernel

Silicon Valley Tech Workers Angered By Proposal to Make Some Mandatory Telecommuting Permanent

“The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a regional government agency in the San Francisco Bay Area, voted Wednesday to move forward with a proposal to require people at large, office-based companies to work from home three days a week as a way to slash greenhouse gas emissions from car commutes,” reports NBC News:

It’s a radical suggestion that likely would have been a non-starter before Covid-19 shuttered many offices in March, but now that corporate employees have gotten a taste of not commuting, transportation planners think the idea has wider appeal. “There is an opportunity to do things that could not have been done in the past,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, a member of the transportation commission who supports the proposal. She said she felt “very strongly” that a telecommuting mandate ought to be a part of the region’s future…

Some of the nation’s largest companies are headquartered in the Bay Area, including not only tech giants Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel and Netflix, but Chevron, Levi Strauss and Wells Fargo… The idea of a mandate was a surprise to residents, many of whom first learned of the idea this week from social media and then flooded an online meeting of the transportation agency Wednesday to try, unsuccessfully, to talk commissioners out of the idea. “We do not want to continue this as a lifestyle,” Steven Buss, a Google software engineer who lives in San Francisco, told the commission. “We are all sacrificing now to reduce the spread of the virus, but no one is enjoying working from home,” he said. “It’s probably fine if you own a big house out in the suburbs and you’re nearing retirement, but for young workers like me who live in crowded conditions, working from home is terrible.”
Many callers pointed out that the situation exacerbates inequality because only some types of work can be done from home. Others worried about the ripple effects on lunch spots, transit agencies and other businesses and organizations that rely on revenue from office workers. Still other residents said that if car emissions are the problem, the commission should focus on cars, not all commutes… Dustin Moskovitz, a cofounder of Facebook who usually keeps a low public profile, mocked the idea as an indictment of the Bay Area’s general failure to plan for growth. “We tried nothing, and we’re all out of ideas,” Moskovitz, now CEO of software company Asana, tweeted Tuesday.

The mandate would apply to “large, office-based employers” and require them to have at least 60 percent of their employees telecommute on any given workday. They could meet the requirement through flexible schedules, compressed work weeks or other alternatives.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



Source: Slashdot – Silicon Valley Tech Workers Angered By Proposal to Make Some Mandatory Telecommuting Permanent

Build a successful community using a Linux leaders playbook

I love books about technology. My idea of a relaxing weekend is—legitimately—settling in with my copy of DocBook: The Definitive Guide (TDG to those of us who us who[he]#039[/he]ve read the whole series). I love learning to understand and integrate technology, and so those are the books I read.

Source: LXer – Build a successful community using a Linux leaders playbook

The US Space Force Will Use Blockchain-Based Data Protection – and SpaceX's Reusable Rockets

“The service branch protecting U.S. interests outside the stratosphere may use blockchain to render its computer systems, on earth and in space, unhackable,” reports CoinDesk:
Last week, Xage Security won a contract from the United States Space Force to develop and roll out a blockchain-based data protection system across its networks. Called the Xage Security Fabric, the blockchain verifies data and protects the network from third party intervention, so confidential data sent from satellites to earth isn’t intercepted en-route.

It also ensures security remains consistent across the entire United States Space Force network, preventing hackers and other malicious entities from identifying and exploiting any weak spots.

And UPI reports:
The U.S. Space Force will start to fly missions on reused SpaceX rockets next year to save millions of dollars, the service announced Friday.

The Space Force will fly two GPS satellites into orbit on a Falcon 9 first-stage booster. The lower cost that SpaceX charges for reused rockets will save taxpayers $52.7 million, a statement from the military branch said… Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said in a news release that the company was pleased the Space Force saw “the benefits of the technology.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



Source: Slashdot – The US Space Force Will Use Blockchain-Based Data Protection – and SpaceX’s Reusable Rockets

COM quartet showcases Intel’s Elkhart Lake Atoms

TQ announced four “TQMxE40” compute modules with Intel’s 10nm “Elkhart lake” Atom x6000E SoCs in SMARC, COM Express Mini Type 10, and Compact Type-6 form factors. TQ-Embedded announced a quartet of TQMxE40 modules with Intel’s new Elkhart Lake Atom x6000E, Pentium, and Celeron SoCs. No OS support was listed, but Linux and Windows should work […]

Source: LXer – COM quartet showcases Intel’s Elkhart Lake Atoms

Researcher Discusses Whether Time Travel Could Prevent a Pandemic

University of Queensland student Germain Tobar who worked with UQ physics professor Fabio Costa on a new peer-reviewed paper “says he has mathematically proven the physical feasibility of a specific kind of time travel” without paradoxes, reports Popular Mechanics:

Time travel discussion focuses on closed time-like curves, something Albert Einstein first posited. And Tobar and Costa say that as long as just two pieces of an entire scenario within a closed time-like curve are still in “causal order” when you leave, the rest is subject to local free will… In a university statement, Costa illustrates the science with an analogy

“Say you travelled in time, in an attempt to stop COVID-19’s patient zero from being exposed to the virus. However if you stopped that individual from becoming infected, that would eliminate the motivation for you to go back and stop the pandemic in the first place. This is a paradox, an inconsistency that often leads people to think that time travel cannot occur in our universe. [L]ogically it’s hard to accept because that would affect our freedom to make any arbitrary action. It would mean you can time travel, but you cannot do anything that would cause a paradox to occur….”

But the real truth, in terms of the mathematical outcomes, is more like another classic parable: the monkey’s paw. Be careful what you wish for, and be careful what you time travel for. Tobar explains in the statement:

“In the coronavirus patient zero example, you might try and stop patient zero from becoming infected, but in doing so you would catch the virus and become patient zero, or someone else would. No matter what you did, the salient events would just recalibrate around you. Try as you might to create a paradox, the events will always adjust themselves, to avoid any inconsistency.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



Source: Slashdot – Researcher Discusses Whether Time Travel Could Prevent a Pandemic