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US internet rule change leaves major streaming companies unscathed for now

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Behind your video stream of a hit like “Stranger Things” is a complicated array of technology and business relationships that will not change very much, at least in the short term, as a result of this week’s repeal of U.S. regulations on internet traffic, industry insiders say.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Thursday repealed its own 2015 rules, known as net neutrality, that required internet service providers like Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) to treat all online content equally, barring high-speed toll lanes and any preferential treatment of one website over another.

The repeal effort has drawn cheers from Comcast and Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), who say the net neutrality regulations stifled investment in their networks. But it has been fiercely denounced by many in the internet industry and beyond as a mortal threat to the open internet, with several state attorneys general and others promising a legal fight.

Yet the loud debate has obscured the fact that the biggest streaming companies, including Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) YouTube, already pay internet service providers (ISPs) to deliver their videos, while smaller players mostly do not.

The latest net neutrality rules did not erase these business dynamics, people familiar with the arrangements say. The repeal likely will not either, though scuffles could arise as ISPs seek to take advantage of the rule change in the future.

“From the era of having no net neutrality to the era of having it, nothing changed,” said a former video streaming executive on condition of anonymity.

To deliver their services effectively and economically, large video streaming companies spend money sending data directly to different broadband networks, and dominant ISPs at times charge for taking on large volumes of traffic.

Big companies like Netflix and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) also can deliver their video streams far and wide on their own, while many smaller internet companies pay external content delivery networks (CDNs) like Akamai Technologies Inc (AKAM.O) to do the work for them. Multimedia websites that do not pay for such services are slower in many instances than those that do.

Companies’ “need for someone that sits between their content, whether that’s a website or streaming video, and all the places in the world it needs to go, isn’t going to change,” said Sunil Dhaliwal, founder of venture capital firm Amplify Partners, which has a stake in content delivery network Fastly.

There have been conflicts, notably a 2014 dust-up between Netflix and Comcast, that resulted from the dramatic surge in streaming video traffic in recent years. Netflix ultimately agreed to pay Comcast despite complaining in an online blog post that its partner was “double dipping” by also receiving money from home internet subscribers. Yet this arrangement was not unique.

YouTube, for example, has also paid ISPs as part of so-called “peering” arrangements by which networks connect to one another to deliver video streams more efficiently, said an industry executive familiar with the practice.

In a statement, Netflix said “tolls decreased for us” after the 2015 net neutrality rules were passed – but did not say they disappeared.

The company added: “We support strong net neutrality protections, even if we are at less risk because of our popularity, which keeps our relationships with ISPs stable.”

WALKING ‘A TIGHTROPE’

Chris Van Noy, a digital media executive formerly with Akamai and streaming service Hulu, noted that ISPs would have no reason to interfere with startups and small firms that send little internet traffic over their networks, with the possible exception of a startup posing a strategic threat.

Going after bigger players would not be simple either, he said.

“It’s always a tight rope for the ISPs,” said Van Noy. Blocking video services would undermine their sales of fast-download, higher-margin internet plans that are “pure gravy for them.”

That is not to say ISPs will not attempt to profit from the regulatory change. They may offer bundled internet deals that include their in-house content but charge extra for Netflix or Hulu, experts said.

“They can frame it as a positive. ‘We’re not hurting Netflix. We’re just giving our subscribers a benefit of something we already own,’” said Alan Wolk, lead analyst for TV industry publication TV[R]EV.

But any action that changes how consumers access the internet must be disclosed under the new FCC rules and may face regulatory scrutiny – a possible deterrent.

“I don’t think anyone is going to do anything crazy that will upset public opinion,” said Eric Hippeau, a managing partner of Lerer Hippeau Ventures and former CEO of The Huffington Post. “This is a highly politically charged area.”

Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Frances Kerry

Stopgap spending plan leaves out CHIP kids’ health plan

Congress may have just put a two-week long band-aid onto government spending, but they left out one big program: children’s health care.

The continuing resolution signed by President Donald Trump Friday keeps the federal government funded until December 22. And while Republican leaders in Congress praised a provision that acknowledges some states are about to run out of Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) money, it does not fund the CHIP program for 2018.

It simply calls on the Health and Human Services Department to re-allocate any remaining funds to the most desperate states.

“The short-term funding agreement to fund the government until Dec. 22 only includes a patchwork measure to provide funding to a handful of states,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a statement.

HHS was unable to immediately answer questions about which states might get money re-allocated, or how much.


1d77f_n_ari_chip_171106.nbcnews-ux-1080-600 Stopgap spending plan leaves out CHIP kids' health plan


CHIP pays for health care for more than 9 million kids across the country. It’s a joint state-federal plan, part of the Medicare and Medicaid family of government health insurance.

Congress let federal CHIP funding expire on Sept. 30 and the program’s future has been in jeopardy since then.

“There is going to be a growing panic among the patient population about how do we get care,” said Larry Robins, who chairs the board of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.

Related: Millions of kids may lose health insurance

“We are caught in the middle of a horrific political vicious cycle.”

CHIP isn’t controversial. Republicans and Democrats alike generally support the program, which makes sure children get health care if their parents are poor and even if their parents are not covered by any other insurance, including Medicaid.

What is controversial is whether to offset paying for CHIP with cuts elsewhere in government spending, and there’s also debate over whether funding should be guaranteed for a couple of years, or for longer.

CHIP’s 2017 budget was $16.6 billion. The current federal budget has slashed it to $12 billion, but Congress has to allocate that funding.

As the issue keeps getting put off, states are starting to worry about how to pay for their CHIP programs. Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah were on track to run out of funding by the end of the year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

And parents are starting to worry about how to take care of their kids.

“One of my patients has asthma,” said Dr. Lanre Falusi, a Washington, D.C. area pediatrician who is also a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Her mom, after hearing all this about CHIP funding going away, said ‘Can you write me a prescription for asthma medications for a whole year just in case we don’t have insurance’,” Falusi said.

“The way that prescriptions go, I can’t actually prescribe a whole year’s worth. She is trying to plan for her child being uninsured and trying to stockpile medications for a whole year.”

Robins, who is CEO of the nonprofit PediPlace clinic network in the Dallas area, said clinics like his have already started getting calls from worried parents.

“Preventive care will suddenly go on hold,” he predicted.

“We as a clinic have a hard enough time convincing families that preventive care is important and (that) yes, you need to bring your child into a clinic when they are not sick. Families are afraid they are going to be asked for dollars they do not have.”

Related: New health bill adds sweeteners for Alaska

While missing a checkup or two may not be an issue for a healthy adult, it can be a matter of life or death for a child, said Falusi.

She recalls the case of a two-year-old girl she she’d been seeing since birth at a low-cost clinic in 2014.

The little girl, usually with her hair carefully done up in pigtails, seemed healthy. “She had been doing OK. There were no red flags,” Falusi recalls.

“We did a typical anemia screening. In that there were several things that were abnormal and after a couple of more tests we actually found out that the child had leukemia.”

Thanks to CHIP, the child got into treatment quickly and is doing all right now, Falusi said. But a missed appointment like that could have been fatal.

And she and Robins both predict that without CHIP, many families will stop bringing their kids in for care.

“I have seen families delay their well visits, including vaccines, because they have let their insurance lapse for a few months,” Falusi said.

Missing a lead screening could mean the missed opportunity to clean up a child’s home or water supply, and lead poisoning can cause irreversible brain damage.

“We see issues like chronic abdominal pain, poor concentration in school, behavior problems, aggression, poor grades,” Falusi said.

“There’s a huge domino effect here. Playing politics and kicking the can down the road…will surely have long term health adverse outcomes for these kids.”

Related: Rural health care in doubt if Medicaid gets cut

Plus, free and low-cost clinics rely on patients who have health insurance to subsidize those who do not.

“Our safety nets are not bottomless,” Falusi said.

“We do our best to see everyone who came in but it takes a couple of paying patients to take care of a child who is uninsured,” she added.

“These clinics are going to be strapped. People are going to be waiting.”

They may even be turned away, Robins said.

“We are going to take care of them to the extent that we have the financial resources to take care of you,” he said. But staff must be paid and care costs money.

Patients will end up going to emergency rooms, he predicted.

“Now you are putting the burden on medical systems that have their own issues,” Robins said. And an ER filled up with patients who should have been cared for earlier, or elsewhere, will be less able to care for patients who really need emergency help.

Stopgap spending plan leaves out CHIP kids’ health plan – NBC News

Congress may have just put a two-week long band-aid onto government spending, but they left out one big program: children’s health care.

The continuing resolution signed by President Donald Trump Friday keeps the federal government funded until December 22. And while Republican leaders in Congress praised a provision that acknowledges some states are about to run out of Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) money, it does not fund the CHIP program for 2018.

It simply calls on the Health and Human Services Department to re-allocate any remaining funds to the most desperate states.

“The short-term funding agreement to fund the government until Dec. 22 only includes a patchwork measure to provide funding to a handful of states,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a statement.

HHS was unable to immediately answer questions about which states might get money re-allocated, or how much.


c6bf2_n_ari_chip_171106.nbcnews-ux-1080-600 Stopgap spending plan leaves out CHIP kids' health plan - NBC News


CHIP pays for health care for more than 9 million kids across the country. It’s a joint state-federal plan, part of the Medicare and Medicaid family of government health insurance.

Congress let federal CHIP funding expire on Sept. 30 and the program’s future has been in jeopardy since then.

“There is going to be a growing panic among the patient population about how do we get care,” said Larry Robins, who chairs the board of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.

Related: Millions of kids may lose health insurance

“We are caught in the middle of a horrific political vicious cycle.”

CHIP isn’t controversial. Republicans and Democrats alike generally support the program, which makes sure children get health care if their parents are poor and even if their parents are not covered by any other insurance, including Medicaid.

What is controversial is whether to offset paying for CHIP with cuts elsewhere in government spending, and there’s also debate over whether funding should be guaranteed for a couple of years, or for longer.

CHIP’s 2017 budget was $16.6 billion. The current federal budget has slashed it to $12 billion, but Congress has to allocate that funding.

As the issue keeps getting put off, states are starting to worry about how to pay for their CHIP programs. Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah were on track to run out of funding by the end of the year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

And parents are starting to worry about how to take care of their kids.

“One of my patients has asthma,” said Dr. Lanre Falusi, a Washington, D.C. area pediatrician who is also a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Her mom, after hearing all this about CHIP funding going away, said ‘Can you write me a prescription for asthma medications for a whole year just in case we don’t have insurance’,” Falusi said.

“The way that prescriptions go, I can’t actually prescribe a whole year’s worth. She is trying to plan for her child being uninsured and trying to stockpile medications for a whole year.”

Robins, who is CEO of the nonprofit PediPlace clinic network in the Dallas area, said clinics like his have already started getting calls from worried parents.

“Preventive care will suddenly go on hold,” he predicted.

“We as a clinic have a hard enough time convincing families that preventive care is important and (that) yes, you need to bring your child into a clinic when they are not sick. Families are afraid they are going to be asked for dollars they do not have.”

Related: New health bill adds sweeteners for Alaska

While missing a checkup or two may not be an issue for a healthy adult, it can be a matter of life or death for a child, said Falusi.

She recalls the case of a two-year-old girl she she’d been seeing since birth at a low-cost clinic in 2014.

The little girl, usually with her hair carefully done up in pigtails, seemed healthy. “She had been doing OK. There were no red flags,” Falusi recalls.

“We did a typical anemia screening. In that there were several things that were abnormal and after a couple of more tests we actually found out that the child had leukemia.”

Thanks to CHIP, the child got into treatment quickly and is doing all right now, Falusi said. But a missed appointment like that could have been fatal.

And she and Robins both predict that without CHIP, many families will stop bringing their kids in for care.

“I have seen families delay their well visits, including vaccines, because they have let their insurance lapse for a few months,” Falusi said.

Missing a lead screening could mean the missed opportunity to clean up a child’s home or water supply, and lead poisoning can cause irreversible brain damage.

“We see issues like chronic abdominal pain, poor concentration in school, behavior problems, aggression, poor grades,” Falusi said.

“There’s a huge domino effect here. Playing politics and kicking the can down the road…will surely have long term health adverse outcomes for these kids.”

Related: Rural health care in doubt if Medicaid gets cut

Plus, free and low-cost clinics rely on patients who have health insurance to subsidize those who do not.

“Our safety nets are not bottomless,” Falusi said.

“We do our best to see everyone who came in but it takes a couple of paying patients to take care of a child who is uninsured,” she added.

“These clinics are going to be strapped. People are going to be waiting.”

They may even be turned away, Robins said.

“We are going to take care of them to the extent that we have the financial resources to take care of you,” he said. But staff must be paid and care costs money.

Patients will end up going to emergency rooms, he predicted.

“Now you are putting the burden on medical systems that have their own issues,” Robins said. And an ER filled up with patients who should have been cared for earlier, or elsewhere, will be less able to care for patients who really need emergency help.

Apple’s health boss leaves for new start-up, fulfilling a promise he made to his sick sister

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bc4c6_104883711-sethi-siblings2.530x298 Apple's health boss leaves for new start-up, fulfilling a promise he made to his sick sister

Apple’s health boss, Anil Sethi, has left the company to start venture focusing on helping very sick patients after his sister died from cancer.

Sethi’s medical record start-up Gliimpse was acquired by Apple in August 2016, with Sethi named director of the health team. Sethi also worked at Apple as an engineer in the late 1980s but doesn’t credit that as a factor in the acquisition. Instead, he suspects, it was his team’s expertise at aggregating medical information, while adhering to federal privacy requirements.

“At one point, Cupertino looked at 50 companies or so but they picked our team,” he said. “I can’t speak for them but one of the things we did is showed them a demo of what the technology could do without a slick deck.”

Apple has been looking at ways to turn the iPhone into the central vault for people’s medical information. That’s Sethi’s expertise, which he views as a key way to get around health care’s “interoperability problem.”

Interoperability, meaning the ability to share medical information securely between hospitals and clinics, is still a challenge in health care. It particularly affects those with serious health conditions with records scattered among dozens of doctors.

The promise

Sethi had been on leave from Apple for several months to care full-time for his sister, Tania. One of Sethi’s goals with Gliimpse was to help her aggregate her medical information, including labs and charts.

bc4c6_104883711-sethi-siblings2.530x298 Apple's health boss leaves for new start-up, fulfilling a promise he made to his sick sister

She died of cancer on Sept. 11.

He since decided not to rejoin the Apple health team and instead is starting a new company, dubbed Ciitizen, which is focused on making it easier for people like Tania to get their information — whether it’s about genomes, labs, ethical wills or advanced directives — and share it with researchers on request. He describes it as “health data as a palliative.”

Sethi made his sister a promise in her final days to dedicate his life to improving cancer care for patients. He said Apple COO Jeff Williams personally gave him the time off he needed to care for her.

bc4c6_104883711-sethi-siblings2.530x298 Apple's health boss leaves for new start-up, fulfilling a promise he made to his sick sister

He describes his start-up as “depth rather than breadth.” He said that Apple has the opportunity to help more than 1 billion people by adding more health capabilities to iOS devices but in ways that are “not as deep.”

But Sethi stressed that Apple’s executives are personally excited about the opportunity in health. Eventually, he hopes to meet his former colleagues “in the middle,” as Apple continues to work in health and wellness but starts to branch out into more medical applications like using Apple Watch to detect the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation with a goal of saving lives.

Sethi is self-funding the venture but is looking to raise a round of financing in the spring. In the meantime, he’s building a team of senior engineers.

Sethi will announce the new venture at a San Francisco conference for designers and technologists working on end-of-life experiences, called EndWell, on Thursday.

bc4c6_104883711-sethi-siblings2.530x298 Apple's health boss leaves for new start-up, fulfilling a promise he made to his sick sister



Android Wear engineering lead David Singleton leaves Google for …

Vice President of Android Wear engineering David Singleton has left Google, according to a tweet this morning from the CEO of his new employer, Stripe. Singleton has yet to confirm his departure.


4bb3c_CI_NSwitch_Console_02 Android Wear engineering lead David Singleton leaves Google for ...

Nintendo Switch

Earlier this morning, Stripe CEO Patrick Collision announced that Singleton is joining the payment service company to lead engineering. At Google, he had a similar role as VP of engineering for Android Wear.

Singleton was present at an I/O 2017 session updating developers on the future of Wear. Namely, how the “next Android Wear update” is a “technical upgrade to API 26.”

According to his company profile, he joined Google in 2006 and led other efforts like Google Fit.

David Singleton is the Engineering VP leading the Android Wear, Google Fit, Android Essentials apps and Google Store teams. He joined Google in early 2006 in London and worked on several Mobile projects including Voice Search, the Mobile Search apps, YouTube and Google Voice.  Outside of Google, David is an advisor to several startups.  He graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in Computer Science.

Since its launch in 2015, Android Wear has waned with some tech companies that were initially interested not even making smartwatches based on the OS anymore. A revamp was announced at I/O 2016 that refocused the wearable OS to customization, fitness, and messaging.

Wear 2.0’s launch was delayed to early 2017 with Google partnering with LG on flagship devices that are no longer officially sold on the Google Store. Meanwhile, the platform is currently in the midst of an upgrade to Oreo, but will do so without a key figure.

We’ve reached out to Google for a comment.

Android Wear engineering lead David Singleton leaves Google for Stripe

Vice President of Android Wear engineering David Singleton has left Google, according to a tweet this morning from the CEO of his new employer, Stripe. Singleton has yet to confirm his departure.


a41ff_CI_NSwitch_Console_02 Android Wear engineering lead David Singleton leaves Google for Stripe

Nintendo Switch

Earlier this morning, Stripe CEO Patrick Collision announced that Singleton is joining the payment service company to lead engineering. At Google, he had a similar role as VP of engineering for Android Wear.

Singleton was present at an I/O 2017 session updating developers on the future of Wear. Namely, how the “next Android Wear update” is a “technical upgrade to API 26.”

According to his company profile, he joined Google in 2006 and led other efforts like Google Fit.

David Singleton is the Engineering VP leading the Android Wear, Google Fit, Android Essentials apps and Google Store teams. He joined Google in early 2006 in London and worked on several Mobile projects including Voice Search, the Mobile Search apps, YouTube and Google Voice.  Outside of Google, David is an advisor to several startups.  He graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in Computer Science.

Since its launch in 2015, Android Wear has waned with some tech companies that were initially interested not even making smartwatches based on the OS anymore. A revamp was announced at I/O 2016 that refocused the wearable OS to customization, fitness, and messaging.

Wear 2.0’s launch was delayed to early 2017 with Google partnering with LG on flagship devices that are no longer officially sold on the Google Store. Meanwhile, the platform is currently in the midst of an upgrade to Oreo, but will do so without a key figure.

We’ve reached out to Google for a comment.

Android Wear engineering lead David Singleton leaves Google for Stripe

Vice President of Android Wear engineering David Singleton has left Google, according to a tweet this morning from the CEO of his new employer, Stripe. Singleton has yet to confirm his departure.


a41ff_CI_NSwitch_Console_02 Android Wear engineering lead David Singleton leaves Google for Stripe

Nintendo Switch

Earlier this morning, Stripe CEO Patrick Collision announced that Singleton is joining the payment service company to lead engineering. At Google, he had a similar role as VP of engineering for Android Wear.

Singleton was present at an I/O 2017 session updating developers on the future of Wear. Namely, how the “next Android Wear update” is a “technical upgrade to API 26.”

According to his company profile, he joined Google in 2006 and led other efforts like Google Fit.

David Singleton is the Engineering VP leading the Android Wear, Google Fit, Android Essentials apps and Google Store teams. He joined Google in early 2006 in London and worked on several Mobile projects including Voice Search, the Mobile Search apps, YouTube and Google Voice.  Outside of Google, David is an advisor to several startups.  He graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in Computer Science.

Since its launch in 2015, Android Wear has waned with some tech companies that were initially interested not even making smartwatches based on the OS anymore. A revamp was announced at I/O 2016 that refocused the wearable OS to customization, fitness, and messaging.

Wear 2.0’s launch was delayed to early 2017 with Google partnering with LG on flagship devices that are no longer officially sold on the Google Store. Meanwhile, the platform is currently in the midst of an upgrade to Oreo, but will do so without a key figure.

We’ve reached out to Google for a comment.

American Airlines’ Computer Glitch Leaves It Without Pilots Over Christmas

Traveling during the holidays is, by definition, no fun. If you caught a flight over Thanksgiving this year, you got lucky—everything ran more or less to plan. No freak winter storms, no striking baggage handlers, no collapsing computer systems. Expecting the Christmas travel rush to go just as smoothly is a bit like expecting lightning to hit twice.

Indeed, trouble has already arisen. Today, American Airlines revealed it accidentally told too many of its pilots they could take time off the week of Christmas. Now, it faces a manpower crisis that could leave an estimated 15,000 flights with nobody to sit in the cockpit.

The airline blames some sort of computer glitch. It looks like the scheduling system it uses to assign pilots to flights indicated that there were plenty of captains and first officers to go around. Meanwhile, a separate system, which assigns holiday leave based on seniority, got carried away with the festive spirit and gave way too many people time off.

To get their aviators back to work—and avoid mass cancellations—American is offering time-and-a-half pay to pilots who pick up certain flights. In a statement, it said it has reserve pilots to cover the uptick in flying time during December, and it’s working with the pilot’s union to smooth everything out. Representatives for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents nearly 60,000 pilots in the US and Canada, say the airline should have consulted them over the extra pay. But with weeks left before peak travel times, it’s hard to imagine they won’t find an acceptable solution.

Still, the tussle highlights just how complicated the process of getting an airplane into the air is—and how easy it is for something to go wrong. Airlines operate control centers you could mistake for a NASA setup, with thousands of computers running hundreds of software systems to book and monitor everything that goes into a successful flight: planes, ground crew, meals, fuel, de-icing equipment, baggage handlers, cleaners, airport gates, and so on. It doesn’t take much to derail the whole system.

“These are really complicated systems, they’re huge, and testing them for every potential interaction is almost impossible,” says Bill Curtis, the chief scientist at CAST, which finds software flaws for large corporations. He’s also the executive director of the Consortium for IT Software Quality, which works to design better software standards.

Much of the time, airlines can deftly cope when bad weather grounds planes, leaving crews in the wrong location, or when someone’s luggage misses a connection. But a glitch in software that affects planes, pilots, or passengers en masse is a lot harder to handle.

Airline IT systems are particularly complex—and vulnerable—because the industry is so enamored of mergers and acquisitions. When American Airlines joined with US Airways in 2015, it had to integrate distinct computer programs that governed hundreds of planes and thousands of people, systems that may well have been dated and incompatible.

“If they have legacy systems, it may be time to rebuild them on a more modern language,” says Curtis. But in an industry that operates on profit margins tighter than an overhead bin, it can be hard to find the time and resources for a project of that magnitude.

American isn’t the first airline to be too generous with time off. In September, European budget operator Ryanair booked too many crew members for vacation. It had to cancel 2,100 flights, messing with some 315,000 customers trying to get to, or home from, summer vacations.

And it’s far from the first time a computer problem has grounded planes. In September, a check-in system failure at several European airports had world-wide ramifications. In May, British Airways had to deal with a server being unplugged, halting 75,000 passengers. In August of last year, an IT outage took down all of Delta.

According to Bloomberg, American’s latest problem affects flights scheduled to depart from from Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, and Charlotte, North Carolina. The glitch has come to light with enough notice for AA to, hopefully, fix its schedules, protect its reputation, and get ready for the next problem.


Fasten Your Seatbelt

Microsoft Edge leaves beta on Android

f3c26_Microsoft-Edge-Android-hero-1_0 Microsoft Edge leaves beta on Android

Microsoft Edge for Android has left beta testing.

Not long ago, Microsoft launched its Edge browser in preview on Android. Since its debut, the app has been marked as “Unreleased” on Google Play, labeling it as a potentially unstable app while in testing. Now, as first spotted by Android Police, the app listing has dropped that tag, indicating an exit from beta.

Curiously, the app is still listed as “Microsoft Edge Preview,” which could either mean the listing simply hasn’t been completely updated yet, or Microsoft still has some kinks to work out. Either way, the standard warning about app instability is no longer present on the Microsoft Edge Google Play page. The text under “what’s new” simply states “Thanks for trying out Microsoft Edge and for all the feedback.” If you were already a beta tester, it appears you’ll still be enrolled to receive beta updates that roll out for testing.

This update comes just a day after Edge was updated on Android with a dark theme and support for password syncing, marking the arrival of two pretty major features.

Microsoft has launched Edge on Android and iOS as a move meant to provide Edge desktop users with a way to easily sync their passwords between machines and easily pick up where they left off with a “Continue on PC” feature. Rather than using the EdgeHTML rendering engine, however, both apps rely on engines common to each platform. For Android, that means Edge uses the same Blink rendering engine as Google Chrome, while Edge on iOS uses the required WebKit engine.

In any case, you can pick up the latest version of Microsoft Edge for Android on Google Play now. There’s no word on when the iOS version, which is in much more limited testing through Apple’s TestFlight program, will see a full release.

See at Google Play

Malia Obama Smoking Video Leaves the Internet Seriously Impressed, But What Would Barack Think?

A video clip appearing to show Malia Obama blowing smoke rings went viral Friday, inspiring dozens of people to post on social media about how awesome the former first daughter is, bemoan her lack of privacy and compare her to the Trump brood.

A person resembling Obama, a 19-year-old in her freshman year at Harvard University, was filmed doing the smoke trick. The right-wing site the Daily Caller reported that the recording—captioned “‘f—— get your camera right now'”—was posted and deleted by Barstool Sports, but a version of it was still making the rounds on YouTube and Twitter Friday morning. But despite being shared by conservatives who regularly slam Obama’s dad, much of the reception to the video was positive. 

Related: Does Smoking Run in Families?

Writer Ashley C. Ford joked that she was adding “another thing to the list of ways Malia Obama is more talented than me,” while blogger Charles Clymer tweeted that “the only thing I find offensive about about Malia Obama blowing smoke rings is that it confirms she’s so much cooler than I was at 19.” “Let Malia live,” activist DeRay Mckesson said.

Others contrasted the video purportedly of Obama with President Donald Trump’s children, arguing that at least the teen wasn’t a big game hunter like Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. or involved in an investigation into whether she colluded with Russian operatives to influence the 2016 election, as they are.

Obama has been spotted smoking before. Last week, she was caught on camera with a cigarette and a boy before the Harvard-Yale football game. An in August 2016, a festivalgoer at Lollapalooza in Chicago claimed to have seen Obama smoking marijuana.

It’s not clear what was being smoked in Friday’s viral video, but Massachusetts, where Harvard is located, recently legalized recreational marijuana. It’s also not clear how Obama’s dad, former President Barack Obama, feels about it.

He’s no stranger to drug use. The senior Obama admitted in 2006 to using pot, telling journalists that “when I was a kid, I inhaled … that was the point.” There are at least two famous photos of him holding blunts. Back in 1995, he even wrote in his memoir Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance about smoke rings, saying:

“I had learned not to care. I blew a few smoke rings, remembering those years. Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it.”

Then again, he had a lot more privacy than his daughter currently does.

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Sudden Shift at a Public Health Journal Leaves Scientists Feeling Censored

Update, Nov. 20, 2017: This story has been updated to include a link to earlier reporting by Retraction Watch.

For much of its 22-year existence, few outside the corner of science devoted to toxic chemicals paid much attention to the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.

But now, a feud has erupted over the small academic publication, as its editorial board — the scientists who advise the journal’s direction and handle article submissions — has accused the journal’s new owner of suppressing a paper and promoting “corporate interests over independent science in the public interest.”

More is at stake than just the journal’s direction.

IJOEH is best known for exposing so-called “product defense science” — industry-linked studies that defend the safety of products made by their funders. At a time when the Trump administration is advancing policies and nominees sympathetic to the chemical industry, the journal seems to be veering in the same direction.

“There are many scientists who work for corporations who are honest scientists,” said David Michaels, the former head of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration under President Obama. “What we’re concerned about here is the ‘mercenary science’ … that’s published purely to influence regulation or litigation, and doesn’t contribute to public health.”

“I think the IJOEH articles were threatening to that whole industry,” said Michaels, now an environmental and occupational health professor at George Washington University. While Michaels has never served on the journal’s editorial board, he has published an article in the journal and peer-reviewed others.

The journal was one of the relatively few places that provided an outlet for “scientists whose work is independent of the corporations that manufacture chemicals,” he said. “The silencing of that voice would be a real loss to the field.”

Last Thursday, the journal’s 22-member editorial board, along with eight former board members and the journal’s founding editor-in-chief, wrote a letter to the National Library of Medicine requesting disciplinary action against the academic journal’s new publisher, Taylor Francis Group. In particular, they asked the Library of Medicine to rescind the journal’s listing in the Medline index, which could drastically reduce its scientific influence.

Academic journals are often judged by the reputations of those on their editorial boards, and this list includes a Columbia University dean, the president of the International Commission on Occupational Health and a scientist who helped establish the cancer classification system used by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

UK-based Taylor Francis, one of the largest publishers of academic journals, acquired IJOEH and 169 other journals in 2015 by purchasing the journal’s original owner and publisher, Maney Publishing. According to the board’s letter, Taylor Francis has done the following since taking over:

  • Selected a new editor-in-chief, Andrew Maier, without consulting the editorial board. Board members said it’s “highly unlikely” that they would have approved of Maier. Their letter said he had a tendency to reach scientific conclusions “highly sympathetic to parties with an economic interest in favorable outcomes,” which is at odds with the journal’s mission.
  • Withdrew a peer-reviewed article by the journal’s former editor-in-chief David Egilman that criticized Union Carbide Corporation’s efforts to oppose workers’ claims of asbestos exposure. “Suppression of an accepted paper is a direct assault on academic freedom,” the board members wrote to the Library of Medicine.
  • Flagged three additional studies approved for publication under Egilman as “raising potential concerns,” according to a May 8 email the publisher sent to the board.

A Library of Medicine representative said they’re reviewing the board’s appeal.

Officials at Taylor Francis declined to speak with ProPublica about the accusations in the letter and did not answer most of the questions we submitted in writing, referring us instead to two emails the publisher sent to the board in May.

In one, Ian Bannerman, manager director of Taylor Francis Journals, insisted the company had no obligation to consult the board in choosing the journal’s new editor. “The responsibility for selecting and appointing an Editor-in-Chief lies with Taylor Francis as the owner of the journal,” he wrote.

In the other, Bannerman responded to a question from the board about the publisher’s plans for “repositioning” the journal by saying Taylor Francis would aim to boost its online readership, citation levels and “rapidity of publication.”

“We do not see this as ‘repositioning’ the journal as such,” Bannerman wrote, “but we do see it as a change of tack — putting in place long-term plans and goals for the journal’s future development, enhanced by our expertise in marketing, online publishing, and bibliometric analysis.”

A Struggling Endeavor

Joseph LaDou, the founding editor-in-chief of IJOEH, launched the journal in 1995 after years of struggling to publish his own research. While studying the health hazards of workers making microelectronics for Silicon Valley in the 1980s, he couldn’t find a single U.S. journal to take his paper, he said, and ended up publishing in a Scandinavian public health journal. So when a Philadelphia-based publisher offered him a chance to start a journal for similar types of studies, he jumped on board.

The journal’s financial situation was always precarious. LaDou said he put $50,000 to $75,000 of his own money into IJOEH each year. Egilman, who became editor-in-chief in 2007, said he also paid out of pocket to keep the publication going. (Both editors worked on the journal part time and earned their income from university positions or from private practice as occupational health experts).

One of the biggest expenses was paying for help writing and editing manuscripts from developing countries, LaDou said. Among the international studies IJOEH published were a paper on how cooking fuel smoke affects respiratory health for women in Cameroon and another on a worker safety program for stevedores working in Cuba’s Port of Havana.

“I can’t think offhand of [another] pro-worker occupational safety and health journal,” LaDou said. “Some are better than others — less controlled — but there’s nothing to replace what IJOEH was doing, particularly on an international scale.”

Most occupational health experts work for industry in some way because there’s little independent funding, said Celeste Monforton, an environmental and occupational health lecturer at Texas State University. There are few academic positions, and the collapse of workers’ unions over the past few decades further decimated the number of labor-related jobs.

“There’s very little investment in occupational health research or looking at exposure to toxics,” said Monforton, who has never published in IJOEH or served on its board. Most of what’s known about toxics comes from original research funded by the federal government in the 1970s and 1980s, when scientists could coordinate with unions to study large groups of workers, she said.

Those studies focused on long-known hazards such as benzene, asbestos or beryllium, setting the stage for stronger workplace regulations. The results prompted a backlash from scientists working in “product defense,” who re-analyzed individual studies to conclude the product was less harmful than the government determined, Monforton said.

If journals are judged by the size of their readership, LaDou’s was a perpetual underdog. “It was never a large subscription,” he said. “You’re up against such a powerful machine in the industry-supported journals … I think the reputation of the journal was that of a non-industry publication that was widely respected, but only by a small segment of the readership community.”

Taylor Francis has finally figured out a way for this journal to make money, he alleged. “By selling its soul.”

‘A Change of Tack’

In the first months after Taylor Francis purchased the journal in June 2015, neither the editorial board nor its editor-in-chief noted a major change.

Then, in early 2016, former board member Barry Castleman learned the publisher hadn’t renewed Egilman’s editing contract, which expired in December 2016.

Taylor Francis hired Maier in early 2017 without consulting board members for their input, as is customary for scientific journals.

Maier is an environmental health professor at the University of Cincinnati and runs a program for research fellows at TERA (Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment), a consulting firm that analyzes chemical safety. TERA often works for industry clients such as the American Chemistry Council. Concerns about its conflicts of interest gained national attention after President Trump nominated Michael Dourson, TERA’s founder, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical safety program.

In 2010, Maier co-authored a study on the risks of diacetyl, a butter flavoring that can cause lung damage in workers. Maier’s paper recommended an exposure limit of 200 parts per billion — up to 40 times higher than federal guidelines recommend. Egilman criticized Maier’s results in a 2011 IJOEH paper for not being protective enough. Maier has said that he has a research partnership with the federal scientists who suggested the lower limit. “This ongoing close relationship …does not suggest that government parties find my work lacks scientific credibility,” Maier said in a letter to the board.

Egilman said he didn’t expect to continue as editor-in-chief once his contract expired, but he and the board should have helped choose the new editor.

The publisher disagrees. Bannerman said Taylor Francis sought advice from “a number of people we know in the field,” including one member of the IJOEH board. Bannerman explained the conversation with the board member occurred before the publisher began considering Maier.

The dispute over Maier’s hiring was first reported by Retraction Watch, a publication that tracks retractions in the academic publishing world, which went on to publish several items about unrest at the journal this spring.

Maier didn’t respond to a request for comment, but he wrote to the editorial board in May to address their concerns. He said more than 80 percent of his research funding comes from his university and the government.

“As for the future, I do not suggest any major changes in mission or scope of the journal,” he wrote. “The same types of scientific articles should continue to find a home in IJOEH.”

‘In-House Review’

Taylor Francis’ decision in March 2017 to withdraw Egilman’s paper, published about a year earlier, was just as controversial as appointing Maier — possibly more.

Journal publishers rarely interfere in editorial decisions, said Arthur Frank, an IJOEH board member and professor at Drexel University’s School of Public Health.

“I have never, ever been in a setting where the publisher, without engaging the editorial board, made a decision unilaterally to appoint a new editor, and also made decisions to retract an article,” he said. “Publishers are in the business of printing the journal. They’re not in the business of deciding what goes into the journal.”

Egilman’s paper critiqued consulting firms that conduct research that attempts to re-create historical worker exposure data for use in toxic tort litigation. Such studies are expensive and are typically commissioned by companies to defend themselves in court, said Michaels, the former OSHA administrator.

Part of Egilman’s article examined a 2005 study co-authored by consultant Dennis Paustenbach, which simulated historical exposures to conclude that the workers who manufactured Bakelite (an asbestos-containing plastic) for Union Carbide would not have been exposed to asbestos levels that violated health guidelines. Egilman also focused on Paustenbach’s role in promoting similar types of studies, pointing to a conference speech in which Paustenbach said they often made the difference between winning and losing court cases.

“My point was that OFTEN, litigation in the United States is scientifically unwarranted,” Paustenbach wrote in regards to his speech. “When anyone is inappropriately accused of a wrongdoing, they deserve a defense … We are only hired in cases that border on being ‘almost without foundation.’ So it is not surprising that most of our results show that the plaintiff claims are incorrect.”

While Egilman has served as an expert witness for plaintiffs injured by asbestos products — and is well-known for having leaked pharmaceutical company documents to a lawyer representing plaintiffs who alleged an antipsychotic drug gave them diabetes — he has also worked on the defense side. In his paper’s disclosure, he said he consulted for Union Carbide in the company’s 1984 toxic gas leak that killed thousands of residents in Bhopal, India.

It’s unclear what prompted Taylor Francis to withdraw Egilman’s paper.

Egilman provided ProPublica with a copy of an August 2016 email a Taylor Francis employee sent to a third party that said Paustenbach “has been in touch to request that we retract Egilman’s critique article.” It was part of a longer email chain that discussed Paustenbach’s 2005 paper and Egilman’s 2016 paper.

In an email to ProPublica, however, Paustenbach denied requesting the retraction, and copied a Taylor Francis manager in his response. Paustenbach said the publisher began considering a withdrawal months before that August 2016 email, and that he had been primarily concerned with correcting falsehoods in Egilman’s paper.

“I have no axe to grind with Dr. Egilman,” Paustenbach said. “I believe in the importance of a lively discussion of legitimate scientific facts or beliefs. At times, I find that Dr. Egilman doesn’t deal in facts … Egilman’s article was so flawed as to be an embarrassment to any scientist; and perhaps that is why they did not publish it.”

ProPublica reached Sara Shuman, the journal’s former deputy editor who handled the paper’s submission process. She said Egilman’s paper was peer reviewed by at least two scientists. The journal uses a double-blind system to ensure that the author and peer reviewers don’t know each others’ identities, and Shuman acted as the intermediary.

Egilman was informed about the decision to withdraw his article in a March 2017 email from the publisher: “Due to an omission of oversight, the manuscript was not subject to our in-house review prior to its publication. Subsequently we have reviewed the content, and decided to withdraw it from publication.”

In a May 25 email to the board, Bannerman, the Taylor Francis director, said the paper “was inadvertently published before the review process was completed, and was subsequently decided to be unsuitable for publication.”

The publisher declined to define “in-house review” or comment further.

“We have said all that we can about our reasons for withdrawing this article,” a company spokesperson said. The company publishes more than 2,500 journals, and our “role is to give the communities these journals serve a voice and a space to engage in debate about their research fields. We do not have any strategy to align our titles to be for or against any particular agenda.”

Egilman said the publisher never contacted him to discuss their concerns.

Maier, the new editor-in-chief, told the board he wasn’t involved with the decision. “I have no involvement or decision authority on any manuscripts that were accepted or published prior to my tenure with IJOEH,” he wrote in a letter.

Board members said the incident, compounded by what they considered the unsatisfying explanations for it, had spurred them to action.

“The idea of summarily withdrawing a paper that’s already been reviewed and published without any explanation is outrageous,” said Castleman, the former board member. “The implication is there was some kind of horrible scientific conduct that must have happened.”

Pressing On

In addition to its complaint to the National Library of Medicine, the board has appealed to the Committee on Publication Ethics, a UK-based charity that sets journal ethics guidelines.

The board’s letter alleged instances in which Taylor Francis violated COPE guidelines, including one that states, the “relationship of editors to publishers … should be based firmly on the principle of editorial independence.”

COPE’s co-chairman Chris Graf, director of research integrity and publishing ethics at a large journal publisher called Wiley, said COPE doesn’t comment on individual cases. COPE has no regulatory authority and doesn’t conduct investigations, but can advise publications facing ethical issues.

On Thursday, the president of the Collegium Ramazzini, an international academy of occupational and environmental health experts, said his organization “strongly supports” the board’s letter to the Library of Medicine. The academy is an invitation-only group of 180 scientists who work to bring public health research to policymakers. Nearly half of the IJOEH board members are part of the academy, as are Michaels and Monforton. The group also includes Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and former OSHA administrator Eula Bingham. The organization is named after Bernardino Ramazzini, a 17th-century physician who’s often called the “father of occupational medicine.”

Taylor Francis has offered to hold a teleconference with the editorial board, but Castleman said the board first wants more answers in writing.

“Had they been more forthcoming, we would have certainly been willing to talk to them,” he said. “It’s very cumbersome trying to find a convenient time for so many people all over the world to agree to be available for such a conference. I felt that they were just fobbing us off, stonewalling our plain questions.”

When ProPublica inquired about the status of the three other articles Taylor Francis had considered withdrawing, the publisher said those studies “are no longer on hold and the authors are aware of their status” — but didn’t explain whether that meant the articles had been withdrawn. Egilman said one of them was a separate article he wrote on Union Carbide, and that he withdrew that paper from IJOEH two months ago so he could submit it to another journal. He said something similar had happened to another paper, about cigarette filters that contained asbestos.

Through the tumult, the journal has continued to publish, though the rate has slowed considerably this year. The IJOEH website shows the journal publishes four issues a year, with 10 to 12 articles per issue. Yet only five papers have been published in all of 2017. Three of the five were approved by Egilman and the other two by Maier. Both are about how employees’ mental health affects stress and well-being.

The journal’s “first full issue of 2017 will be published before the end of the year,” said a Taylor Francis spokesperson, “with other issues to follow in early 2018.”

Computer glitch leaves county staff in cold

WAHOO – Due to a computer glitch, the new heating/ventilation/air conditioning system at the Saunders County Courthouse was not yet up and running last week.

The transition from the old system to the new $3 million system was to take place Nov. 7, but the condensers outside the building were not correctly communicating with the interior controls, said Mike Holley, Saunders County maintenance worker.

This left the historic landmark with intermittent heat for the last week, said Saunders County Clerk Patti Lindgren.

Courthouse staff and the Saunders County Supervisors had been warned to dress warmly the day of transition, but employees have been bundling up for work every day since.

Lindgren said the old heating system was restarted to work throughout the week, but subcontractors have been working since Nov. 7 to remedy the issue.

Trane was the company hired to install the new system.

Holley said the company hoped to have the computer issues resolved Nov. 13.

Up to this point, installation had been going exceptionally well and ahead of schedule, Holley said. But, the interior units were a newer model than the outside condensers.

“They just hadn’t upgraded the outside condensers yet,” he added.

The solution to the issue will not cost the county any additional money, as the county agreed to a contracted sum and will not exceed it, Holley said.

Outage leaves hundreds without internet over weekend

4da5b_jpeg Outage leaves hundreds without internet over weekend

Hundreds of Mother Lode Internet customers went offline over the weekend due to an outage that the company believes may have been caused by maintenance to ATT’s broadband infrastructure.

Ben Hulet, CEO and president of the Sonora-based Mother Lode Internet, said the outage affected customers of the company’s DSL service that distributes its signal through ATT’s network. The outage lasted through the weekend and service was restored Monday morning.

“It wasn’t anything on our end that we could figure out,” Hulet said. “We’re constantly watching it and tried to get a report from ATT, but they don’t have anything definitive.”

Hulet said there are a number of changes being made to ATT’s network that can sometimes interfere with the flow of data, though it works as normal 95 to 99 percent of the time.

According to Hulet, the network is shifting to a new DSL platform that will be faster and won’t require the purchase of a phone line. He said the current copper-based network is the original one used to deliver the first high-speed Internet service in the county.

“Our copper network up here is very old, subject to moisture, and requires a lot of maintenance,” Hulet said. “As they upgrade it to fiber, it’s going to get faster and better,” though he cautioned that the work could result in temporary outages.

The Union Democrat reached out to ATT for comment but was unable to get more information by Monday evening.

Hulet said he was uncertain of the total number of people affected by the outage over the weekend, as well as one last week that reportedly left some customers without service for three days as well.

The company has hundreds of DSL “Data Pipe” customers and hundreds of wireless “Data Wave” customers, Hulet said, though he declined to reveal the exact numbers.

Mother Lode Internet was the area’s first Internet Service Provider, or ISP, when it was founded in 1994. It currently offers high-speed DSL and wireless service and is a reseller for Comcast’s cable service.

Though the ISP uses the ATT network for its DSL service, it owns and manages its entire wireless network.

Hulet said wireless Internet has now gotten to the point where it’s as fast or even faster than cable or DSL, but coverage can be spotty in some of the more far-flung areas of the county.

“We have direct influence over (the wireless network) and don’t depend on someone in between,” Hulet said. “We feel that wireless is the future.”

Hulet said people are much more dependent on being able to access the Internet than when the company started.

For one, more people are ditching their cable and satellite TV subscriptions for cheaper online streaming services. Hulet said video traffic is now the main use of data flow on the Internet.

“It’s come a long way from the early days of the Internet when it was really just a fad for techies,” Hulet said. “We regard ourselves as probably the second-most important utility next to power.”

The ISP is adapting its business model to the changing times as well.

Hulet said he and his staff worked behind the scenes throughout the weekend to fix the problem, but soon they will have employees on staff to assist customers seven days a week as opposed to five.

“We’re working on 24/7 utility operation to support it,” Hulet said. “I think the key thing is to be there when (customers) need us.”

In the meantime, Hulet advised customers who experience trouble with their Internet connection to first unplug their modem and router and then plug them back in to clear out any old or erroneous data.

Hulet said his team can also walk people through backup procedures in the event of an outage, such as setting up a personal wireless Internet hotspot on their cell phone.

The ISP can be reached via email at support@mlode.com or by calling (209) 536-5800.

Contact Alex Maclean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

Bizarre insect image leaves the internet puzzled

02d8c_pri_59174111 Bizarre insect image leaves the internet puzzled
A bizarre close up of an insect has baffled the internet (Picture; Steve Gschmeissner)

A surreal photo posted online of a moustache-wearing insect has left the internet perplexed.

Commenters struggled to make sense of the bizarre close-up after the image, taken by leading scanning electron microscopist Steve Gschmeissner, was posted to Reddit this week.

02d8c_pri_59174111 Bizarre insect image leaves the internet puzzledWoman wins £574,278.41 from £1 accumulator bet on 12 matches

The picture is actually of a mosquito’s foot at 800x magnification.

Gschmeissner told Live Science: ‘Insects are fantastic for that because they have all this sort of fine microscopic details.

‘When you first put something in a microscope, you are never really sure what you’re going to see.’

Redditors were surprised to find out the photo was actually of a mosquito’s leg (Picture; Getty Images)

The photo was part of the 2016 Royal Photography Society International Images for Science contest, but didn’t win.

Gschmeissner continued: ‘I’m lucky that I do something I love.

‘When you first put something in a microscope, you are never really sure what you’re going to see. You still see things you don’t expect to see.’

The image show the hairy pads and small hooks along the mosquito’s tarsus that allows them to lock on to skin.

One confused Redditor wrote: ‘I actually thought that this was an elaborate pasta sculpture at first glance.’

While another one said: ‘Sweet moustache I might add.’

Sleepless Night Leaves Some Brain Cells As Sluggish As You Feel

46140_sleep_brain-1-c779a8ffa9dbac55ef37e35ac715c30e585d72fd-s1100-c15 Sleepless Night Leaves Some Brain Cells As Sluggish As You Feel

When people don’t get enough sleep, certain brain cells literally slow down.

A study that recorded directly from neurons in the brains of 12 people found that sleep deprivation causes the bursts of electrical activity that brain cells use to communicate to become slower and weaker, a team reports online Monday in Nature Medicine.

The finding could help explain why a lack of sleep impairs a range of mental functions, says Dr. Itzhak Fried, an author of the study and a professor of neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“You can imagine driving a car and suddenly somebody jumps in front of the car at night,” Fried says. “If you are sleep-deprived, your cells are going to react in a different way than in your normal state.”

46140_sleep_brain-1-c779a8ffa9dbac55ef37e35ac715c30e585d72fd-s1100-c15 Sleepless Night Leaves Some Brain Cells As Sluggish As You Feel

The finding comes from an unusual study of patients being evaluated for surgery to correct severe epilepsy.

As part of the evaluation, doctors place wires in the brain to find out where a patient’s seizures are starting. That allows Fried and a team of scientists to monitor hundreds of individual brain cells, often for days.

And because patients with epilepsy are frequently kept awake in order to provoke a seizure, the scientists had an ideal way to study the effects of sleep deprivation.

In the study, all the patients agreed to categorize images of faces, places and animals. Each image caused cells in areas of the brain involved in perception to produce distinctive patterns of electrical activity.

“These are the very neurons [that] are responsible for the way you process the world in front of you,” Fried says.

Then, four of the patients stayed up all night before looking at more images.

And in these patients, “the neurons are responding slower,” Fried says. “The responses are diminished, and they are smeared over longer periods of time.”

46140_sleep_brain-1-c779a8ffa9dbac55ef37e35ac715c30e585d72fd-s1100-c15 Sleepless Night Leaves Some Brain Cells As Sluggish As You Feel

These changes impair the cells’ ability to communicate, Fried says. And that leads to mental lapses that can affect not only perception but memory.

The team also found evidence that sleep deprivation affects some areas of the brain more than others. It was as if certain regions of the brain were sleeping, while others remained vigilant, Fried says.

The research adds to the evidence showing it’s important to avoid driving when you’re sleepy, Fried says.

Drowsy driving in the U.S. is responsible for more than 70,000 crashes a year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on estimates and statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Fried says his team’s finding also supports efforts to limit the hours worked by doctors in training, noting that he worked very long hours as a neurosurgery resident.

Now, he says, “I am trying to impose the lesson I learned from my research on myself.”

Computer’s theft leaves special needs girl unable to communicate

FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (WKYT/CNN) – Like a lot of 14-year-old girls, Layne Barlow likes to communicate with friends, but to do that, she needs some help.

Family members said Layne was born with a condition that left her unable to walk or speak, so she had a Tobii Dynavox speech-generating computer that tracks her eyes on the screen and talks for her.

That near-miracle-making machine was stolen from their van in the parking lot at Cornerstone Church of the Nazarene on Wednesday.

“There are unintended consequences that are associated with when you take something from someone,” said grandfather Marvin Barlow. “You might just see it as a computer, a laptop. But as you see now, we have taken away from her the ability to communicate with her peers and with us and her teachers.”

The family was in a bit of a hurry getting to church, and Barlow said he forgot to lock the doors to their van. When they came back out, that speech-generating computer, which costs $17,000, was gone.

“Quite honestly, it’s despicable what they did,” said Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton. 

He said if whoever stole it brings it back to the sheriff’s office, they’ll let them go, no questions asked.

“If it doesn’t walk in here, I will find you, I promise,” Melton said. “I keep my commitments, and we will get you. You’re better off to do it now and turn it in, no questions asked because shortly it’s going to be too late when we come knocking on your door.”

Family members said they just want Layne to be able to talk to her friends, family and teachers again.

Copyright 2017 WKYT via CNN. All rights reserved.

Computer’s theft leaves special needs girl unable to communicate

FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY (WKYT/CNN) – Like a lot of 14-year-old girls, Layne Barlow likes to communicate with friends, but to do that, she needs some help.

Family members said Layne was born with a condition that left her unable to walk or speak, so she had a Tobii Dynavox speech-generating computer that tracks her eyes on the screen and talks for her.

That near-miracle-making machine was stolen from their van in the parking lot at Cornerstone Church of the Nazarene on Wednesday.

“There are unintended consequences that are associated with when you take something from someone,” said grandfather Marvin Barlow. “You might just see it as a computer, a laptop. But as you see now, we have taken away from her the ability to communicate with her peers and with us and her teachers.”

The family was in a bit of a hurry getting to church, and Barlow said he forgot to lock the doors to their van. When they came back out, that speech-generating computer, which costs $17,000, was gone.

“Quite honestly, it’s despicable what they did,” said Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton. 

He said if whoever stole it brings it back to the sheriff’s office, they’ll let them go, no questions asked.

“If it doesn’t walk in here, I will find you, I promise,” Melton said. “I keep my commitments, and we will get you. You’re better off to do it now and turn it in, no questions asked because shortly it’s going to be too late when we come knocking on your door.”

Family members said they just want Layne to be able to talk to her friends, family and teachers again.

Copyright 2017 WKYT via CNN. All rights reserved.

Lack of reliable internet leaves rural Hoosiers in the dark

INDIANAPOLIS – In southeastern Indiana in the middle of miles of cornfields is a long stretch of road that is home to students, laborers and farmers, but lacks one necessity of the 21st century – access to efficient internet service.

“It’s very frustrating not having the internet because it limits what you can and can’t do,” said Paulette Varble, who has lived on St. Peter’s Road in St. Leon for 13 years. She has been trying to get internet access for 10 of those years.

Almost every Hoosier has access to mobile broadband, which is the kind of internet service available through cell phones. But as many as one in five people living in Indiana have limited access to wired internet connections that allow for downloading information like work documents and movies at high speeds.

In rural Indiana, connecting to the internet often depends on a connection requiring a line of sight to towers that relay signals from orbiting satellites.

In a world that is becoming increasingly dependent on technology, there are still those in rural parts of Indiana that have limited access. Those without access are left without the ability to work from home, unable to access information for school or use the internet for entertainment.

For Varble, an employee at Med Mizer in Batesville, a lack of reliable internet connection meant giving up her goal of working from home. Varble’s only available internet option was a satellite connection that ran much too slow for her to work from home.

The Federal Communication Commission’s definition of broadband is a minimum 25 mbps, which would allow a sufficient speed for multiple people to stream video. However, these speeds are not adequate for those wishing to work from home.

“I feel that people out here are very disadvantaged because I mean there’s so much that you can’t do,” said Varble.

For students, not having a reliable internet connection is no longer an option. Many schools are making it a requirement for students to have internet access for homework.

When Varble’s daughter was in school, she would often have to go to the local library or a friend’s house that had internet.

Students in Richmond Community Schools in Richmond, Indiana, have similar issues.

Richmond teacher Lisa Wilkerson said that a third of her 9-12 grade students struggle with having no internet due to either cost or availability.

“We went one-to-one with computers this year and some of the students can’t do homework outside of school, said Wilkerson. “They have to be able to finish it in school or go to a McDonald’s or library to their homework.”

Many textbooks are now only available online. Wilkerson has started making downloadable PDF files for her students so that they have access to their textbooks even when they do not have internet.

Wilkerson said that it is important that students have experience with the internet now as it will be something they interact with daily.

“They don’t need to have the best and fastest internet, but at least something so that they’re able to do research,” she said.

In 2014, former Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann put together a working group to improve rural internet access, which resulted in Broadband Ready communities.

Being a Broadband Ready certified community sends a signal to telecommunication industries that shows a community has taken steps to reduce the barriers to broadband infrastructure investment.

However, barriers to internet still exist in and outside of the Broadband Ready community system, including making the permitting process simpler, finding ways to compensate for the high cost of installing infrastructure, and the remote locations. Lawmakers are trying to streamline permitting to make it easier for companies to invest.

Rep. David Ober ,R-Albion, chair of the committee of utilities, energy and telecommunications, said there is also discussion around using the Indiana Universal Service Fund to extend internet service to remote area. The fund had been used to expand telephone service to rural areas in the past.

While these are welcomed solutions, it’s not quite the answer those looking for reliable internet quickly were looking for.

“We’ll have more time to vet out the issue over a couple of years and to figure out if there’s anything we need to do to either remove barriers to access and reduce cost, permitting or to even make investments,” said Ober.

Ober says the main focus when it comes to broadband is gaining ground with wired access. However, it is an expensive task especially when trying to reach areas of the state that are less densely populated.

“Anything you do you have to balance whether or not because they have access to wireless, whether it’s necessary for us to run fiber to the very last mile,” said Ober. “When you’re talking about running a line down a mile, it costs $22,000 and there may be half a dozen people there of which maybe three or four want to subscribe to the service.”

Rural Hoosiers who try to connect to the internet are often disappointed with the results.

Louis and Samantha Egbert, also residents of St. Peter’s Road, have one of the only forms of satellite internet that can be accessed in that area.

“I would have gotten the internet a long time ago, but it just doesn’t run fast enough,” Samantha Egbert said.

The Egberts recently had to purchase WI-FI for their son as his school has made the switch to chrome books.

“He has accessibility, it just takes him a while,” said Louis Egbert.

However, this is not the first time they have tried to get internet as Samantha was originally offered the opportunity to work from home, but was not able to as the internet speed was unreliable.

Ober acknowledged that the lack of access rural Hoosiers have to internet affects Indiana economically.

“It’s a huge economic development issue now because it’s less of a luxury item and more of a necessity especially in the business sector,” said Ober.

The Egberts are currently paying close to $70 a month for an internet plan that has a slower data speed than their phone plan.

“Not only do you have ineffectiveness, but we’re paying for a product that really just stinks,” said Louis Egbert.

Both Samantha and Louis need the internet for their jobs, but most downloads have to be completed at work as their current internet cannot support it.

“I thought WI-FI meant instant access and that’s not the case,” said Louis Egbert.

In the 21st century, the internet is used for entertainment as well as business, something rural Hoosiers are also living without.

“It’s also quality of life for more and more Hoosiers,” said Ober. “They want to be able to stream shows on Netflix and send emails back and forth.”

Ober is hopeful that with time, internet service will improve residents of rural Indiana.

“I think as technology progresses it will make it a better-quality service so overtime I think satellite services will get better,” said Ober.

Makenna Mays is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

iOS 11 uptake leaves iOS 10 – and Android 8 – in the dust

Apple released iOS 11 on Sept. 19 and within a week the latest version of iOS was already powering 30.21% iDevices. That’s still left it far behind the 63.47% running iOS 10.

But what a difference three weeks makes. 

Apple’s latest mobile OS update maintained its fast adoption curve and as of now – one month out – it has not only surpassed iOS 10, but left it in the dust.

According to business analytics service Mixpanel’s data, adoption of iOS 11 surpassed iOS 10 last Tuesday, Oct. 10. As of now, iOS 11 is in use on 53.83% of iPhones and iPads, compared to the 39.37% still on iOS 10.