18 Jan 2020


Why Did Red Hat Drop Its Support for Docker's Runtime Engine?

"I've grown quite fond of the docker container runtime. It's easy to install and use, and many of the technologies I write about depend upon this software," writes TechRepublic/Linux.com contributor Jack Wallen. "But Red Hat has other plans." The company decided -- seemingly out of the blue -- to drop support for the docker runtime engine. In place of docker came Podman. When trying to ascertain why Red Hat split with Docker, nothing came clear. Sure, I could easily draw the conclusion that Red Hat had grown tired of the security issues surrounding Docker and wanted to take matters in their own hands. There was also Red Hat's issue with "no big fat daemons." If that's the case, how do they justify their stance on systemd? Here's where my tinfoil hat comes into play. Understand this is pure conjecture here and I have zero facts to back these claims up... Red Hat is now owned by IBM. IBM was desperate to gain serious traction within the cloud. To do that, IBM needed Red Hat, so they purchased the company. Next, IBM had to score a bit of vendor lock-in. Using a tool like docker wouldn't give them that lock-in. However, if Red Hat developed and depended on their own container runtime, vendor lock-in was attainable.... Red Hat has jettisoned a mature, known commodity for a less-mature, relatively unknown piece of software -- without offering justification for the migration.... Until Red Hat offers up a sound justification for migrating from the docker container engine to Podman, there's going to be a lot of people sporting tinfoil hats. It comes with the territory of an always-connected world. And if it does turn out to be an IBM grab for vendor lock-in, there'll be a lot of admins migrating away from RHEL/CentOS to the likes of Ubuntu Server, SUSE/openSUSE, Debian, and more. Red Hat's product manager of containers later touted Podman's ability to deploy containers without root access privileges in an interview with eWeek. "We felt the sum total of its features, as well as the project's performance, security and stability, made it reasonable to move to 1.0. Since Podman is set to be the default container engine for the single-node use case in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, we wanted to make some pledges about its supportability." And a Red Hat spokesperson also shared their position with The New Stack. "We saw our customer base wanting the container runtime lifecycle baked-in to the OS or in delivered tandem with OpenShift."

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18 Jan 2020 6:34pm GMT

A Broken Computer System Is Costing F-35 Maintainers 45,000 Hours a Year

schwit1 shared this report from the defense news site Task & Purpose: The computer-based logistics system of the F-35 stealth fighter jet made by Lockheed Martin, which has been plagued by delays, will be replaced by another network made by the same company, a Pentagon official said on Tuesday. The Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) was designed to underpin the F-35 fleet's daily operations, ranging from mission planning and flight scheduling to repairs and scheduled maintenance, as well as the tracking and ordering of parts... ALIS was blamed for delaying aircraft maintenance, one of the very things it was meant to facilitate. "One Air Force unit estimated that it spent the equivalent of more than 45,000 hours per year performing additional tasks and manual workarounds because ALIS was not functioning as needed," the GAO said in a November report.

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18 Jan 2020 5:34pm GMT

Microsoft Is Also Launching a New $1 Billion 'Climate Innovation Fund'

As part of Microsoft's effort to reduce more atmospheric carbon than it emits, the company has announced a $1 billion "Climate Innovation Fund," reports GeekWire: Microsoft said the new fund will leverage its balance sheet to loan money and take equity stakes in ventures to encourage the development of new environmental innovations. The money will be invested over the next four years. The company cited four criteria for investments, including sustainability initiatives, market impact, technological advances, and climate equity, addressing the tendency of climate change to disproportionately hurt people in developing countries. "We deeply understand this is just a fraction of what is needed to solve this problem," said Amy Hood, the company's chief financial officer, outlining the plan at the event Thursday morning.... Microsoft said it is signing the United Nations' 1.5-degree Business Ambition Pledge, and said it will publicly track its progress in an annual Environmental Sustainability Report. The article notes that Bill Gates "reviewed Microsoft's new initiative but wasn't involved in its creation." Gates has his own $1 billion Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund and has meanwhile also invested in mini nuclear reactors to address climate change. And this spring he'll release a book titled "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need."

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18 Jan 2020 4:34pm GMT

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A Georgia election server was vulnerable to Shellshock and may have been hacked

Vulnerable server distributed election and voter files to counties throughout the state.

18 Jan 2020 3:41pm GMT

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Panicking About Your Kids and Their Phones? The New Research Says Don't.

Panicking About Your Kids and Their Phones? The New Research Says Don't.SAN FRANCISCO -- It has become common wisdom that too much time spent on smartphones and social media is responsible for a recent spike in anxiety, depression and other mental health problems, especially among teenagers.But a growing number of academic researchers have produced studies that suggest the common wisdom is wrong.The latest research, published Friday by two psychology professors, combs through about 40 studies that have examined the link between social media use and both depression and anxiety among adolescents. That link, according to the professors, is small and inconsistent."There doesn't seem to be an evidence base that would explain the level of panic and consternation around these issues," said Candice L. Odgers, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, and the lead author of the paper, which was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.The debate over the harm we -- and especially our children -- are doing to ourselves by staring into phones is generally predicated on the assumption that the machines we carry in our pockets pose a significant risk to our mental health.Worries about smartphones have led Congress to pass legislation to examine the impact of heavy smartphone use and pushed investors to pressure big tech companies to change the way they approach young customers.The World Health Organization said last year that infants under a year old should not be exposed to electronic screens and that children between the ages of 2 and 4 should not have more than an hour of "sedentary screen time" each day.Even in Silicon Valley, technology executives have made a point of keeping the devices and the software they develop away from their own children.But some researchers question whether those fears are justified. They are not arguing that intensive use of phones does not matter. Children who are on their phones too much can miss out on other valuable activities, like exercise. And research has shown that excessive phone use can exacerbate the problems of certain vulnerable groups, like children with mental health issues.They are, however, challenging the widespread belief that screens are responsible for broad societal problems like the rising rates of anxiety and sleep deprivation among teenagers. In most cases, they say, the phone is just a mirror that reveals the problems a child would have even without the phone.The researchers worry that the focus on keeping children away from screens is making it hard to have more productive conversations about topics like how to make phones more useful for low-income people, who tend to use them more, or how to protect the privacy of teenagers who share their lives online."Many of the people who are terrifying kids about screens, they have hit a vein of attention from society and they are going to ride that. But that is super bad for society," said Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute, who has published several studies on the topic.The new article by Odgers and Michaeline R. Jensen, of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, comes just a few weeks after the publication of an analysis by Amy Orben, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, and shortly before the planned publication of similar work from Jeff Hancock, the founder of the Stanford Social Media Lab. Both reached similar conclusions."The current dominant discourse around phones and well-being is a lot of hype and a lot of fear," Hancock said. "But if you compare the effects of your phone to eating properly or sleeping or smoking, it's not even close."Hancock's analysis of about 226 studies on the well-being of phone users concluded that "when you look at all these different kinds of well-being, the net effect size is essentially zero."The debate about screen time and mental health goes back to the early days of the iPhone. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a widely cited paper that warned doctors about "Facebook depression."But by 2016, as more research came out, the academy revised that statement, deleting any mention of Facebook depression and emphasizing the conflicting evidence and the potential positive benefits of using social media.Megan Moreno, one of the lead authors of the revised statement, said the original statement had been a problem "because it created panic without a strong basis of evidence."Moreno, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin, said that in her own medical practice, she tends to be struck by the number of children with mental health problems who are helped by social media because of the resources and connections it provides.Concern about the connection between smartphones and mental health has also been fed by high-profile works like a 2017 article in The Atlantic -- and a related book -- by psychologist Jean Twenge, who argued that a recent rise in suicide and depression among teenagers was linked to the arrival of smartphones.In her article, "Have Smartphones Ruined a Generation?," Twenge attributed the sudden rise in reports of anxiety, depression and suicide from teens after 2012 to the spread of smartphones and social media.Twenge's critics argue that her work found a correlation between the appearance of smartphones and a real rise in reports of mental health issues, but that it did not establish that phones were the cause.It could, researchers argue, just as easily be that the rise in depression led teenagers to excessive phone use at a time when there were many other potential explanations for depression and anxiety. What's more, anxiety and suicide rates appear not to have risen in large parts of Europe, where phones have also become more prevalent."Why else might American kids be anxious other than telephones?" Hancock said. "How about climate change? How about income inequality? How about more student debt? There are so many big giant structural issues that have a huge impact on us but are invisible and that we aren't looking at."Twenge remains committed to her position, and she points to several more recent studies by other academics who have found a specific link between social media use and poor mental health. One paper found that when a group of college students gave up social media for three weeks, their sense of loneliness and depression declined.Odgers, Hancock and Przybylski said they had not taken any funding from the tech industry, and all have been outspoken critics of the industry on issues other than mental health, such as privacy and the companies' lack of transparency.Odgers added that she was not surprised that people had a hard time accepting her findings. Her own mother questioned her research after one of her grandsons stopped talking to her during the long drives she used to enjoy. But children tuning out their elders when they become teenagers is hardly a new trend, she said.She also reminded her mother that their conversation was taking place during a video chat with Odgers' son -- the kind of intergenerational connection that was impossible before smartphones.Odgers acknowledged that she was reluctant to give her two children more time on their iPads. But she recently tried playing the video game Fortnite with her son and found it an unexpectedly positive experience."It's hard work because it's not the environment we were raised in," she said. "It can be a little scary at times. I have those moments, too."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

18 Jan 2020 3:19pm GMT

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Nemesis brings alien impregnation horror to your tabletop—and it works

Beware both the chestburster and your fellow players.

18 Jan 2020 2:30pm GMT

“Living concrete” is an interesting first step

It's not really self healing and can't grow once it's structural.

18 Jan 2020 1:45pm GMT

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Nike's controversial Vaporfly shoes powered the world's 2 fastest marathoners to victory. When I tried them, it felt like running on rocking horses.

Nike's controversial Vaporfly shoes powered the world's 2 fastest marathoners to victory. When I tried them, it felt like running on rocking horses.The Nike Vaporfly shoes are 4% more energetically efficient than other brands. I thought I knew what to expect when I put them on, but I was shocked.

18 Jan 2020 1:11pm GMT

In Montreal, Egyptian Mummies, in 3-D, Have Secrets to Share

In Montreal, Egyptian Mummies, in 3-D, Have Secrets to ShareEgyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives is the new exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, done with the collaboration of the British Museum. We have a good macro-understanding of ancient Egypt through its architecture, art, economics, and culture from the early dynastic period (3100 b.c. to 2686 b.c.) to the Roman period (30 b.c. - the fall of Antony and Cleopatra - to a.d. 395). Elusive, though, are the particulars of everyday existence such as life span, health, diet, aging, and burial practices, including the process of mummification.Egyptian Mummies is the latest word on these subjects. It's a fascinating mix of art, science, and the lifestyles of six Egyptians whose mummies date from 900 b.c. to a.d. 180. Technology allows us to see inside the living body, saving countless lives. It also opens to us the doors of the dead. It appeals to the history-minded, the superstitious, the horror-obsessed, and the voyeuristic in all of us.Today, computerized tomography (CT) scanning makes it possible to see and interpret an immense, long-hidden trove of information, thanks in part to the British Museum's centuries-old ban on unwrapping its mummies. A policy respecting the dead left the mummies undisturbed, or no more disturbed than they already were, having been exhumed and hauled to cold, damp Britain. They don't exactly sing and dance, but science's capacity to render layered, 3-D images makes the mummies seem very human. They spill lots of beans on how they lived then. A funerary boat from 1985-1795 b.c., the first object in the show, tells us we're about to be transported. Tamut (in the feature photo at the top of the article) is my new best friend. From the inscriptions on her inner coffin, we know she started life as a high-ranking priest's daughter from Thebes - modern Luxor - living around 900 b.c., and she ended as "the Lady of the House," having married someone rich. Mummification practices evolved over centuries, but in those days, and scanning shows this, her brain was removed and her skull packed with textiles. Her organs were removed, embalmed, and bundled in bags placed in her chest cavity.By 900 b.c., Egypt's imperial days were gone, but it was just reaching the zenith of mortuary science. Then, to qualify for a happy afterlife, the body needed to look as hale and hearty as possible and kept as intact as possible. So the organs were salvaged, but the organ bundles and the textiles in the skull were arranged both to give Tamut a full-figured look and to disguise disfigurations that occurred during embalming. The goal wasn't so much to create a good likeness of the dead but to transform the once-living person into a servant of Osiris, the multitasking god whose portfolio included fertility, agriculture, life, the afterlife, and resurrection.Scanning shows the size and design of the jewelry adorning her body, including gold nails on her fingers and toes. Cleverly, the curators made 3-D models of her jewelry displayed in a case. Tamut was mummified with a large sheet-metal falcon ornament and a scarab over what was once her heart. It's engraved with a spell preventing the gods from discovering the misdeeds in her heart when judgment time comes. Incidentally, scans also show the arterial plaque that probably killed her. After centuries in her grave, Tamut traveled to London light. Her elaborately decorated inner coffin, made of a material like papier-mâché, is impressive. She probably had two outer coffins that disintegrated. The coffin that's left is gilded and painted with winged gods, beetles, falcons, panthers, and inscriptions. Her father was an "aq" priest, which meant he had access to the most sacred rooms at Karnak. She was, literally, "5'2″, eyes of blue," though the blue is the color of agate stones placed in her eye sockets. Hardly a flapper, she was buried in dignified luxury, and laid out anew in Montreal in fine form. The curators are good storytellers, which is what a good curator needs to be. The objects give us a documentary and aesthetic feel for Tamut and her world.Irthorru, Nestawedjat, a young temple singer, an unknown two-year-old child, and a young man from Roman Egypt round out the merry band. The Roman mummy, from about a.d. 150, sports at the head of his coffin a lifelike encaustic portrait of a beardless young man with dark, wavy hair and wide eyes in a white mantled tunic. He was in his late teens when he died. While Egyptian religious concepts of the afterlife didn't change much, death fashions did. With the portrait, his mummy shows the incursion of Roman realism in painted or sculpted portraiture. Whether an emperor or a lesser form of humanity, Romans didn't idealize. Roman portraits look like real people.I did wonder in walking through the show how the curators would indulge the Canadian reverence for diversity, equity, and inclusion. These mummies were all part of Egypt's 1 percent, after all. No affirmative action or identity politics was possible. At the end of the show, a wall panel entitled "Diversity" assured us that all was not lost. It's vague but seemed de rigueur. It notes that Greeks and Romans were abundant in Egypt and that painted shrouds depicting a single figure, probably the corpse, and realistic portraits at the head of the coffin showed "diverse" taste in art, though I'd call it simply the dissemination of new style, which is really part and parcel of the history of art. The young child's coffin has a gilded, molded plaster mask with stylized hair and a face that's not a portrait - it's almost a hundred years earlier that the Roman mummy of the young man - but takes a stab at looking sculpturally lifelike, with a 3-D face. He holds a bouquet of red molded plaster flowers. The archaeologist who discovered the mummy described him as "splendaciously got up." Nice touches include molded plaster feet with sandals on top of the foot-case and, under the foot-case, paintings of two men in chains. The image suggested the deceased had the power to tread enemies underfoot. Painted on the back of the plaster head is a scene of a nude child flanked by two gods pouring water on his head. The gods hold his hands, as if to assure him he has nothing to fear.There are good sections on dental health - teachable moments on where failure to floss will lead you - and diet. Irthorru ate well - he was a high priest with healthy bones and teeth with usual wear and tear. Our young Roman friend was probably fat, judging from his pelvis and knees, and ate too many sweets, judging from his prematurely rotted teeth. I surmise that by a.d. 150, the Roman Empire was going to the dogs, its young overfed, given to junk food, and definitely not doing their push-ups. Egyptian sculpture in the exhibition depicts scenes of family life. Ancient musical instruments give context to our temple singer.It's a material culture show, and I didn't expect the majesty of King Tut, the Rolls-Royce of gold-bedecked graves. It's an archaeology exhibition and gives people context and perspective. It drives home the not-so-clearly-understood fact that the world didn't begin the day the first Millennial graced the planet.On the installation, I thought the labels on the cases displaying the coffins were impossible to read. They were placed flat on the side of the cases, at wheelchair level. A beveled label would have been more readable. The entrance to the show was decidedly unceremonial, signaled only by a desk hawking audio tours, with no signage. The big gallery with the coffins was, I thought, too packed with objects. While the museum's newish modern building is sleek and attractive, the show is in the old building across the street, which is accessed only by a long trek underground, down stairs, up stairs, through winding corridors. By the time I reached Egyptian Mummies, I felt as if I'd traveled the length of the Nile. These are quibbles, though. The building is the architect's fault, not the curators'. The exhibition is wonderful.The Montreal Museum of Art does amazing shows. Over the past 20 years, the museum has shown daring, imagination, incisive scholarship, and flair. Its show on Walt Disney's debt to Old Master and 19th-century art was the best show I've seen, ever. I loved the Maurice Denis retrospective and shows on Dorothea Rockburne, Tom Wesselman, and Marc Chagall. Its 2017 show, Revolution, treated the late 1960s through painting, music, design, fashion, and film.I can't say Revolution was magnificent. With 700 objects, it was an excess of abundance that suited the time. It re-created and stylized a repulsive period, revolting in almost every permutation, to give the show's title a twist, but I still liked it. Montreal is very different, though it's as close to my home in Vermont as New York and Boston are. The show gave me a "not American" - dare I say "French" - view of the late 1960s, which added a perspective different from mine. The Montreal Museum consistently challenges the mind and never wanders beyond the realm of the aesthetic. It's an approach I'd suggest to American museums, many of which are too timid, boring, faddish, and preachy.

18 Jan 2020 11:30am GMT