Scientists rename human genes to stop Microsoft Excel from misreading them as dates

Found on The Verge on Friday, 07 August 2020
Browse Science

Each gene is given a name and alphanumeric code, known as a symbol, which scientists use to coordinate research. But over the past year or so, some 27 human genes have been renamed, all because Microsoft Excel kept misreading their symbols as dates.

This is extremely frustrating, even dangerous, corrupting data that scientists have to sort through by hand to restore. It’s also surprisingly widespread and affects even peer-reviewed scientific work. One study from 2016 examined genetic data shared alongside 3,597 published papers and found that roughly one-fifth had been affected by Excel errors.

They should just drop Excel and use something that works. When a program tries to be smart and messed with the inserted data, it gets uninstalled. Simple as that.

'Paradise island' hosts untold botanical treasures

Found on BBC News on Thursday, 06 August 2020
Browse Nature

More than 13,000 species can be found on New Guinea, ranging from tiny orchids to giant tree ferns, two-thirds of which do not exist elsewhere.

"If we lose them, there's no way we can restore them from anywhere else, because they're just not found outside the island," he said.

Hopefully New Guinea will stay like this. Too many species get lost all over the world.

Google Music shutdown starts this month, music deleted in December

Found on Ars Technica on Wednesday, 05 August 2020
Browse Internet

Google Play Music has been given the death sentence by Google, and today the company has announced a bit more detail about how its execution will be carried out. The main message from today's blog post is "back up your music now," as Google says it will wipe out all Google Music collections in December 2020.

Whichever option you choose, make sure you do something before December because, after that, there will be no way to recover your music.

So much for relying on the cloud.

Windows 10: HOSTS file blocking telemetry is now flagged as a risk

Found on Bleeping Computers on Tuesday, 04 August 2020
Browse Software

Starting at the end of July, Microsoft has begun detecting HOSTS files that block Windows 10 telemetry servers as a 'Severe' security risk.

Users who intentionally modify their HOSTS file can allow this 'threat,' but it may enable all HOSTS modifications, even malicious ones, going forward.

So the domains just go into your router then. Or wait, with DoH that will start to fail too and telemetry is back for everybody.

Adverts for large polluting cars 'should be banned'

Found on BBC News on Monday, 03 August 2020
Browse Technology

A new campaign called "Badvertising" is demanding an immediate end to adverts for large polluting cars.

The authors want to outlaw advertising for cars with average emissions of over 160g CO2/km, and those exceeding 4.8m in length.

Would an ad ban work, though? Steve Gooding, from the RAC Foundation, said: "People spending £70,000 on a new car are probably not swayed much by ads – they’re attracted to the prestige brand. I suspect banning adverts wouldn’t make a great deal of difference."

You don't take over a market by outlawing your competitor, you do it by offering a better product; and it seems like electric cars are not appealing the majority yet.

Amazon gets green-light to blow $10bn on 3,000+ internet satellites

Found on The Register on Sunday, 02 August 2020
Browse Astronomy

As per the updated FCC rules, the e-commerce giant will have to submit a detailed plan of how it plans to minimize the risk of creating and spreading orbital debris. As more and more satellites are lobbed into space, the probability of stuff colliding with one another gets higher.

Oh joy, more junk in space.

Brazil Bolsonaro: Facebook told to block accounts of president's supporters

Found on BBC News on Saturday, 01 August 2020
Browse Politics

Facebook has complied with an order by Brazil's Supreme Court to block the accounts of a dozen top allies of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

On Friday Brazil's Supreme Court fined Facebook 1.92m reais ($368,000; £280,000) for refusing to block worldwide access to the accounts - it had only agreed to block access to accounts that could accessed from Brazil - and a further 100,000 reais for each day it failed to comply.

So Brazil can decide for the rest of the world what to block? Let's wait until Iran or North Korea hops onto that train too.

If you own one of these 45 Netgear devices, replace it

Found on The Register on Friday, 31 July 2020
Browse Hardware

Netgear has quietly decided not to patch more than 40 home routers to plug a remote code execution vulnerability – despite security researchers having published proof-of-concept exploit code.

Today Netgear's advisory page for the patches shows 45 devices' fix status as "none; outside security support period".

It's about time that there is a minimum, 10+ years, support lifetime for products. Companies move more and more to "throw away, buy again" methods which are in no way acceptable.

Facebook sues EU antitrust regulator for excessive data requests

Found on Reuters on Thursday, 30 July 2020
Browse Legal-Issues

Facebook is suing EU antitrust regulators for seeking information beyond what is necessary, including highly personal details, for their investigations into the company’s data and marketplace, the U.S. social media group said on Monday.

In addition to the two lawsuits against the Commission, Facebook is also seeking interim measures at the Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe’s second-highest, to halt such data requests until judges rule, according to a court filing.

Oh that irony.

Google will keep 200,000 workers home through next summer

Found on Ars Technica on Wednesday, 29 July 2020
Browse Various

The long timeline gives more certainty for Googlers who are making school and housing decisions for the coming academic year. Previously Google workers were due back in the office in January.

All Facebook workers are encouraged to work from home through the end of the year.

Amazon is encouraging employees to work from home through the end of the year. Twitter said in May that employees could work from home indefinitely.

Of course that's only because of Corona, not because beancounters realized that they can save money by closing offices.