NYT Investigates America's 'Lost Month' for Coronavirus Testing

The New York Times interviewed over 50 current and former U.S. health officials, senior scientists, company executives, and administration officials to investigate America’s “lost month” without widespread coronavirus testing, “when the world’s richest country — armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists — squandered its best chance of containing the virus’s spread.”
With capacity so limited, the Center for Disease Control’s criteria for who was tested remained extremely narrow for weeks to come: only people who had recently traveled to China or had been in contact with someone who had the virus. The lack of tests in the states also meant local public health officials could not use another essential epidemiological tool: surveillance testing. To see where the virus might be hiding, nasal swab samples from people screened for the common flu would also be checked for the coronavirus…

Even though researchers around the country quickly began creating tests that could diagnose Covid-19, many said they were hindered by the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process. The new tests sat unused at labs around the country. Stanford was one of them. Researchers at the world-renowned university had a working test by February, based on protocols published by the World Health Organization…. By early March, after federal officials finally announced changes to expand testing, it was too late. With the early lapses, containment was no longer an option. The tool kit of epidemiology would shift — lockdowns, social disruption, intensive medical treatment — in hopes of mitigating the harm.

Now, the United States has more than 100,000 coronavirus cases, the most of any country in the world… And still, many Americans sickened by the virus cannot get tested… In tacit acknowledgment of the shortage, Mr. Trump asked South Korea’s president on Monday to send as many test kits as possible from the 100,000 produced there daily, more than the country needs. Public health experts reacted positively to the increased capacity. But having the ability to diagnose the disease three months after it was first disclosed by China does little to address why the United States was unable to do so sooner, when it might have helped reduce the toll of the pandemic.

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Source: Slashdot – NYT Investigates America’s ‘Lost Month’ for Coronavirus Testing

Russia busts card fraud ring that included an infamous hacker

Russia tends to turn a blind eye to some fraudsters and hackers, but it just clamped down on a particularly large group. Investigators have charged at least 25 people involved in a credit card fraud ring that included a notorious hacker. While Russ…

Source: Engadget – Russia busts card fraud ring that included an infamous hacker

This New Coronavirus Test Can Detect the Disease in Five Minutes

Medical device maker Abbott has received emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its new molecular point-of-care covid-19 test, which will allow healthcare providers in a variety of different settings to obtain results almost immediately. The new test can deliver positive results…

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Source: Gizmodo – This New Coronavirus Test Can Detect the Disease in Five Minutes

One Woman Can Smell Parkinson's Disease Before Symptoms Manifest

“For most of her life, Joy Milne had a superpower that she was totally oblivious to,” reports NPR. Long-time Slashdot reader doug141 explains what happened next:
Milne’s husband’s natural odor changed when he was 31. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 45. When Joy walked into a Parkinson’s support group, she smelled the same odor on everybody. A Parkinson’s researcher tested her with blind samples from early stage patients, late-stage patients, and controls…
NPR tells the story of that test, which took place at the University of Edinburgh with a Parkinson’s researcher named Tilo Kunath:
[O]ut of all the samples, Joy made only one mistake. She identified a man in the control group, the group without Parkinson’s, as having the disease. But many months later, Kunath says, that man actually approached him at an event and said, “Tilo, you’re going to have to put me in the Parkinson’s pile because I’ve just been diagnosed.”

It was incontrovertible: Joy not only could smell Parkinson’s but could smell it even in the absence of its typical medical presentation.

Kunath and fellow scientists published their work in ACS Central Science in March 2019, listing Joy as a co-author. Their research identified certain specific compounds that may contribute to the smell that Joy noticed on her husband and other Parkinson’s patients. Joy and her super smelling abilities have opened up a whole new realm of research, Kunath says… Joy’s superpower is so unusual that researchers all over the world have started working with her and have discovered that she can identify several kinds of illnesses — tuberculosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and diabetes.
Kunath says the ultimate goal is developing a new tool that can detect detect Parkinson’s early. “Imagine a society where you could detect such a devastating condition before it’s causing problems and then prevent the problems from even occurring.”

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Source: Slashdot – One Woman Can Smell Parkinson’s Disease Before Symptoms Manifest

Satellite internet startup OneWeb declares bankruptcy to look for a buyer

OneWeb’s dreams of satellite internet access have hit a major setback. The startup has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after attempts to get crucial financing fell through. The company said it was “close” to getting support, but the COVID-19 pandem…

Source: Engadget – Satellite internet startup OneWeb declares bankruptcy to look for a buyer

Cringely Predicts 2020 Will See 'the Death of IT'

Long-time technology pundit Robert Cringely writes:
IT — Information Technology — grew out of something we called MIS — Management Information Systems — but both meant a kid in a white shirt who brought you a new keyboard when yours broke. Well, the kid is now gone, sent home with everyone else, and that kid isn’t coming back… ever. IT is near death, fading by the day. But don’t blame COVID-19 because the death of IT was inevitable. This novel coronavirus just made it happen a little quicker…

Amazon has been replacing all of our keyboards for some time now, along with our mice and our failed cables, and even entire PCs. IT has been changing steadily from kids taking elevators up from the sub-basement to Amazon Prime trucks rolling-up to your mailbox. At the same time, our network providers have been working to limit their truck rolls entirely. Stop by the Comcast storefront to get your cable modem, because nobody is going to come to install it if you aren’t the first person living there to have cable…

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) extends both the network and a security model end-to-end over any network including 4G or 5G wireless. Some folks will run their applications in their end device, whether it is a PC, phone, tablet, whatever, and some will run their applications in the same cloud as SASE, in which case everything will be that much faster and more secure. That’s end end-game if there is one — everything in the cloud with your device strictly for input and output, painting screens compressed with HTML5. It’s the end of IT because your device will no longer contain anything so it can be simply replaced via Amazon if it is damaged or lost, with the IT kid in the white shirt becoming an Uber driver.
Since COVID-19 is trapping us in our homes it is forcing this transition to happen faster than it might have. But it was always going to happen.

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Source: Slashdot – Cringely Predicts 2020 Will See ‘the Death of IT’

Working From Home Hasn't Broken the Internet

sixoh1 shared this story from the Wall Street Journal:

Home internet and wireless connectivity in the U.S. have largely withstood unprecedented demands as more Americans work and learn remotely. Broadband and wireless service providers say traffic has jumped in residential areas at times of the day when families would typically head to offices and schools. Still, that surge in usage hasn’t yet resulted in widespread outages or unusually long service disruptions, industry executives and analysts say. That is because the biggest increases in usage are happening during normally fallow periods.

Some service providers have joked that internet usage during the pandemic doesn’t compare to the Super Bowl or season finale of the popular HBO show “Game of Thrones” in terms of strain on their networks, Evan Swarztrauber, senior policy adviser to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said this week on a call hosted by consulting company Recon Analytics Inc.Broadband consumption during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m . has risen by more than 50% since January, according to broadband data company OpenVault, which measured connections in more than one million homes. Usage during the peak early-evening hours increased 20% as of March 25. OpenVault estimates that average data consumption per household in March will reach nearly 400 gigabytes, a nearly 11% increase over the previous monthly record in January….
Some carriers that use cells on wheels and aerial network-support drones after hurricanes or tornadoes are now deploying those resources to neighborhoods with heavy wireless-service usage and places where health-care facilities need additional connectivity. Several wireless carriers including Verizon, T-Mobile US Inc. and AT&T Inc. have been given temporary access to fresh spectrum over the past week to bolster network capacity.

While Netflix is lowering its video quality in Canada, the Journal reports Netflix isn’t as worried about the EU:

Netflix Vice President Dave Temkin, speaking on a videoconference hosted by the network analytics company Kentik, said his engineers took some upgrades originally planned for the holiday season near the end of 2020 and simply made them sooner. A European regulator earlier this month asked Netflix to shift all its videos to standard-definition to avoid taxing domestic networks. Mr. Temkin said Netflix managed to shave its bandwidth usage using less drastic measures. “None of it is actually melting down,” he said.

And the article also has stats from America’s ISPs and cellphone providers:

AT&T said cellular-data traffic was almost flat, with more customers using their home wi-fi networks instead — but voice phone calls increased as much as 44%.Charter saw increases in daytime network activity, but in most markets “levels remain well below capacity and typical peak evening usage.”Comcast says its peak traffic increased 20%, but they’re still running at 40% capacity.

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Source: Slashdot – Working From Home Hasn’t Broken the Internet

US officials use mobile ad location data to study how COVID-19 spreads

The use of phone location tracking to keep tabs on COVID-19 is becoming increasingly common, and the US appears to be no exception. Wall Street Journal sources say federal (via the CDC), state and local governments have been receiving location data…

Source: Engadget – US officials use mobile ad location data to study how COVID-19 spreads

Lyft Spurs Its Drivers to Deliver Packages for Amazon to Offset Lost Income Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

Facing a sudden drop in demand for rides due to the covid-19 pandemic, Lyft is encouraging its drivers to work for Amazon “to earn additional income right now.” The company is partnering with Amazon on a new recruitment program that aims to help its drivers offset some of the financial difficulties associated with the…

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Source: Gizmodo – Lyft Spurs Its Drivers to Deliver Packages for Amazon to Offset Lost Income Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

Liven Up Social Isolation With a G.I. Joe Marathon, Courtesy of Hasbro

G.I Joe is both one of the cheesiest and one of the most fondly remembered of the ‘80s wave of toyetic action cartoons. Does it hold up to your nostalgia? Well, now, during this period of widespread social distancing amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic, is certainly the time to find out.

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Source: io9 – Liven Up Social Isolation With a G.I. Joe Marathon, Courtesy of Hasbro

Dark Web Hosting Site Suffers Cyberattack, 7,600 Sites Down

It’s the largest free web hosting provider for dark web services. But remember back in 2018 when its 6,500 sites all went down after attackers accessed its database and deleted all its accounts?

It happened again — for the second time in 16 months. And this time, ZDNet reports, Daniel’s Host won’t be coming back online for several months:

Almost 7,600 dark web portals have been taken offline following the hack, during which an attacker deleted the web hosting portal’s entire database. This happened earlier this month, on March 10, at around 03:30 am UTC, according to a message posted on DH’s now-defunct portal by Daniel Winzen, the German software developer behind the service.

Winzen said that an attacker accessed the DH backend and deleted all hosting-related databases. The attacker then deleted Winzen’s database account and created a new one to use for future operations. Winzen discovered the hack the next morning, at which time most of the data was already lost.
The service doesn’t keep backups by design.
In an email to ZDNet today, Winzen said he has yet to find out how the hacker breached the DH backend. However, since the dark web hosting service was more of a hobby, Winzen didn’t look too much into it. “I am currently very busy with my day-to-day life and other projects, I decided to not spend too much time investigating,” he told ZDNet…
Winzen said that users should consider the passwords for their DH accounts as “leaked” and change them if they used the same password for other accounts.
Winzen told ZDNet he still hopes to relaunch the service “at a later time” with “new features and improvements.”
“Not having to administrate the services all the time will hopefully give me more time for actual development.”

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Source: Slashdot – Dark Web Hosting Site Suffers Cyberattack, 7,600 Sites Down

Google rolls out Drive shortcuts ahead of folder structure changes

Google has started giving everyone access to Drive shortcuts, a few months after it first revealed its beta version. The feature was designed to make it easier to organize files and to point people to specific ones across various folders. You can, fo…

Source: Engadget – Google rolls out Drive shortcuts ahead of folder structure changes

Hospitals Turn to 3D-Printed Donations for Sorely Needed Supplies in Covid-19 Outbreak

A network of 3D printer-users has stepped in to help hospitals grappling with critical shortages of protective gear and other vital medical supplies during the covid-19 pandemic, NPR reports. It’s the latest unorthodox emergency measure U.S. health workers, who are pleading for equipment, have been increasingly forced…

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Source: Gizmodo – Hospitals Turn to 3D-Printed Donations for Sorely Needed Supplies in Covid-19 Outbreak

To Conserve Bandwidth, Should Opting In Be Required Before Autoplaying Videos?

An anonymous reader writes:
We keep seeing stories about how providers are slowing down their streaming speed to reduce bandwidth usage during this period when many are being asked to stay at home… But it seems that many are totally ignoring a very obvious way to reduce usage significantly, and that is by disabling autoplay on their web sites and in their apps.

To give an example, a couple of days ago I was watching a show on Hulu, and either I was more sleepy than I thought or the show was more boring than I had expected (probably some combination of both), but I drifted off to sleep. Two hours later I awoke and realize that Hulu had streamed two additional episodes that no one was watching. I searched in vain for a way to disable autoplay of the next episode, but if there is some way to do it I could not find it.

What I wonder is how many people even want autoplay? I believe Netflix finally gave their users a way to disable it, but they need to affirmatively do so via a setting somewhere. But many other platforms give their users no option to disable autoplay. That is also true of many individual apps that can be used on a Roku or similar device. If conserving bandwidth is really that important, then my contention is that autoplaying of the next episode should be something you need to opt in for, not something enabled by default that either cannot be disabled or that forces the user to search for a setting to disable.
“Firefox will disable autoplay,” writes long-time Slashdot user bobs666 (adding “That’s it use Firefox.”) And there are ways to disable autoplay in the user settings on Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

But wouldn’t it make more sense to disable autoplay by default — at least for the duration of this unusual instance of peak worldwide demand?

I’d be interested in hearing from Slashdot’s readers. Do you use autoplay — or have you disabled it? And do you think streaming companies should turn it off by default?

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Source: Slashdot – To Conserve Bandwidth, Should Opting In Be Required Before Autoplaying Videos?

Fox Sports will air a 'Madden NFL 20' tournament on March 29th

Fox Sports’ NASCAR esports race was a success, and it’s betting that it can repeat that achievement with football. FS1 is planning to air its first ever Fox Esports Madden NFL Invitational on March 29th at 7PM Eastern. The two-hour event will pit p…

Source: Engadget – Fox Sports will air a ‘Madden NFL 20’ tournament on March 29th

Review: elegiac Star Trek: Picard brings all the feels in bittersweet finale

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Source: Ars Technica – Review: elegiac Star Trek: Picard brings all the feels in bittersweet finale

How Devs Can Help Beat the COVID-19 Pandemic

The state of New York hopes to “amplify” its response to COVID-19 by launching tech-driven products with top companies, and it’s looking for professional volunteers with experience in software development, hardware deployment/end-user support, and data science (as well as areas like product management, design, operations management).
Meanwhile, IBM’s 2020 “Call for Code Global Challenge” is a virtual hackathon with a $200,000 prize, and they’ve now “expanded its focus” to include the effects of COVID-19.

Tech columnist Mike Melanson writes:
But this is just the beginning of the COVID-19 hackathon boom, which now includes efforts organized by tech giants, state governments, and grassroots initiatives alike. For example, the World Health Organization got together with technology companies and platforms such as AWS, Facebook, Giphy, Microsoft, Pinterest, Salesforce, Slack, TikTok, Twitter and WeChat to launch the COVID-19 Global Hackathon 1.0, which is running as we speak with a deadline for submissions of March 30th at 9 AM PST. If you’re too late, fret not, for there are many more, such as the CODEVID-19 hackathon we mentioned last week that has a weekly rolling deadline. And deadlines aside, the U.S. Digital Response for COVID-19 is working to pair technology, data, and government professionals with those who need them, in a form of nationwide, technological mutual aid…
[T]he COVID-19 open-source help desk is “a fast-track ‘stack overflow’ where you can get answers from the very people who wrote the software that you use or who are experts in its use.” And if you happen to be either an open source author or expert, feel free to pitch in on answering questions…

On the open data side of things, for example, GitHub offers a guide on open collaboration on COVID-19, while StackOverflow looks at the myriad ways to help the fight against COVID-19 from home. ProgrammableWeb has a list of developer hackathons to combat COVID-19, and even the Golang team offers some guidance for Go, the Go community, and the pandemic, with Erlang also joining in.

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Source: Slashdot – How Devs Can Help Beat the COVID-19 Pandemic