Friday

Using Gene Therapy to Defeat Cancer, Hereditary Disease



Gene therapy could potentially allow doctors to cure some of the deadliest types of cancer and rare hereditary diseases with one injection. The FDA recently approved the use of three anti-cancer drugs, all based on genetically modified human cells. Scientists say up to 80 percent of all types of cancer will respond to gene therapy treatments in the future. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as Daria Dieguts reports.


What's Next With Facebook?

Facebook and other social networks appear to have crossed the line with respect to privacy and censorship. Facebook has been accused of helping one side while hiding the other side in many important debates. It has been accused of exposing the personal information of its users, violating their privacy. These perceptions are problems that must be fixed. What’s the next step? How can we go from the status quo to living under rules that everyone will accept?


That depends largely on whether those who write the rules really understand the problems from every point of view — users and companies, right and left. However, it’s possible that nothing much really will happen. The controversy may quiet down, and these issues may disappear under all the other noise of the industry.


The latest Facebook circus seemed to end with CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony, which was very interesting to watch. It was fascinating to see Zuckerberg describe how Facebook works, to acknowledge some of the far-reaching problems that needed to be solved, and to express his company’s desire to play a role in that process.


It was quite evident from the questions they asked that many members of Congress were confused about some of the basics. A number of them asked questions that revealed they had no idea what Facebook or other social media companies were, much less what they do.


It was clear that those elected officials were not heavy Internet users. How can we expect the U.S. Congress to craft legislation to save us from problems like invasions of privacy and censorship if they don’t understand many of the issues surrounding modern technology?



Let Facebook Help Write New Rules


Perhaps the social networks themselves should play a key role in determining how to protect users’ privacy and avoid censorship. The aim is not to hurt the growth of social networking companies — it’s just to make their offerings fair and safe for every user. Their participation is one slice of the rule-making pie.


I do believe the executives who run the social networks are good people. I also believe they are vitally interested in protecting the growth potential of their companies. However, we all look at the world through one prism or another. The problem is that what one thinks is right and good is wrong and bad in the view of someone else.



Social Media’s Explosive Growth



I want company executives to participate, but I also want the involvement of intelligent and unbiased third parties who understand the industry. The companies must be free to innovate and grow. Users must be free from censorship and guaranteed privacy. Both sides are important.


Users’ rights have been abused — something that should not occur in America. One side should not be able to exercise undue influence in an effort to control the way we think. We need a balance of ideas in the public square if we are to continue to succeed going forward.


The social media sector is still new. It has been around only for a decade, yet it has seen an explosion of growth and change. There were no social media companies prior to a decade ago. Today, there are more than we can count.


What will social media look like 10 years from now? It will be very different. To have a good tomorrow, we must make sure we protect user privacy and eliminate censorship today.



Protecting Privacy and Avoiding Censorship


It’s great the way social media weaves us all together and lets us communicate in new ways with people we never would have been in contact with before — either around the block or on the other side of the country or the world.


Artificial intelligence offers one possibility for addressing social media’s problems, but it must be developed without bias. Even AI can be a problem if its behavior is programmed by people who lean one way or the other.


If AI can be completely objective, then it might be a solution. Once it is implemented — and that won’t be for a while — we’ll need to make sure it can’t be hijacked by one side of a debate. Keeping AI neutral will be an ongoing challenge that we’ll have to meet with checks and balances.



Changing Sides


As people grow and mature, it’s natural to change sides about some issues. When I was 20 years old, I thought about the world differently than I did at 40. That’s one reason it’s important not to shut down one way of thinking. It’s important to listen to both sides and adapt at your own pace.


Remember, we all think we are right. However, those on the other side think they are right too. Who is the judge? That’s the problem. There is no answer — just debate. That’s the way it always has been.


Social networks can be great at creating a local, regional, national or worldwide stage for an ongoing debate. They can provide a way for us to improve the world by understanding each other better.


Looking forward, we have a lot of ground to cover. While social networks are great, we need to fix the problem areas and keep them neutral and safe. We need to protect users from loss of privacy and from the imposition of censorship.


We are at the beginning of a long trek with no endpoint. If we are lucky, we will find a path that will lead to continuing protection for users and continued growth for companies.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.



Jeff Kagan has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2010. His focus is on the wireless and telecom industries. He is an independent

analyst, consultant and speaker.

Email Jeff.

New Ubuntu Rethinks Desktop Ecosystem

By Jack M. Germain
Apr 26, 2018 9:29 AM PT



Canonical on Thursday released Ubuntu Linux 18.04, which utilizes live patching and a new metric data collection system. Notably missing is the Unity desktop that had distinguished the distro but was poorly received.


New Ubuntu Rethinks Desktop Ecosystem


Canonical last year made the switch from Unity 7 to upstream GNOME as Ubuntu’s default desktop environment. Unity is not an option in Ubuntu 18.04 and will not be available in desktop offerings moving forward.


“The overall response was positive,” said Will Cooke, engineering director for desktop at Canonical. The development team tweaked the GNOME shell just enough to give it a face that clearly identifies it as part of Ubuntu.


The main reason for dropping Unity was lack of uptake. The team decided to stop investing in its homegrown desktop environment and return to Ubuntu’s roots with upstream GNOME, Cooke noted.



Progress Path


The development team used Ubuntu version 17.10 as its proving ground for transitioning from Unity 7 to the GNOME shell. Primarily, that was for its long-term support.


That transition proved that users would have a seamless upgrade path, Cooke said. The five-year support also set the groundwork for developers to build for a common platform, as the same Ubuntu version runs in the cloud and on all devices.


“This is the main reason we continue to see uptake on Ubuntu from developers,” he remarked. Ubuntu offers “reliability and a proven background of uptake and security, and other critical packages.”



What to Expect


Live patching is an important new feature in Ubuntu 18.04. It allows the installation of updates on a running machine without requiring a reboot, enabling the immediate application of security updates.


Another big thing, particularly for the Ubuntu team, is a new system for acquiring data on metrics. Ubuntu essentially will phone home to report hardware details and user installation options.


The metric information-gathering includes anonymized details on the age of the machine, how much RAM it has, and whether the user installed it from a DVD or USB stick, or upgraded in place.


No identifiable user information will be uploaded, but users can opt out of the sharing part if they wish, said Cooke.


The goal is to find out details about preferences and hardware to help the development team better address a particular market, he said.


“Until now, we simply have not had the ability to gather that information,” Cooke continued. “It will focus our energies for future releases. We also intend to make those details available to other projects. For instance, if we discover that a majority of users have older hardware, we must tailor our development to those machine capabilities.”



Minimal for Enterprise


Ubuntu 18.04 includes a new feature that addresses a growing enterprise concern: home user clutter. IT managers in workplace environments easily can strip out software that does not pertain to the work environment, such as games.


“They do not really want them, and they do not really need them,” said Cooke, noting that this minimal install capability meets requests from IT managers.


It cost enterprises money to have someone go through each installation and remove those items or create automation to do those removals for them, but Ubuntu 18.04 now does that for them.


The minimum install option goes through the process of stripping out home-user-centric applications.


“It is significant and a needed convenience,” Cooke said.



Craft Snaps Take Over


Ubuntu 18.04 relies on Snapcraft to feed software applications to the operating system. It ships with Snaps by default.


Snaps speed up software delivery and make the process more secure, according to Evan Dandrea, engineering manager for Snapcraft at Canonical.


Snapcraft, developed by Canonical, lets software vendors distribute to all of Ubuntu and a growing list of distributions platforms with a single artifact. It replaces different packaging systems like .deb and .rpm.


“Snaps let vendors publish a software update at their own pace. Vendors are not locked into a release cycle of Ubuntu or any other distribution. The updates themselves apply automatically and can roll back if anything goes wrong,” Dandrea said.



Expanding the Process


For many applications in use today, it takes a long time to get updates vetted through a distro’s community software repository. The process involves installing, modifying and reinstalling.


In 18.04, for the first time, Ubuntu delivers important applications by default in a Snap. Thousands more applications are integrated into the app store, so users no longer have to search around for the latest versions of their software, according to Dandrea.


“The goal is to give everyone access to the latest software without a lot of frustration,” he said.


With Snaps, each update is tamper-proof. The applications are locked down, much like they are in Docker, but Snap is much more lightweight, Dandrea said.



Growing the Platform


Ubuntu’s focus on delivering software via Snapcraft offers several benefits, noted Dandrea. One is that enterprise users do not face a risk of downtime. Another is that home users can register up to three machines on their UbuntuOne account.


All users will find the service more streamlined and simpler to use. In general, users can expect Ubuntu 18.04 to be fast and light as well as reliable, stable and secure, according to Dandrea.


The Snapcraft ecosystem is gaining momentum. Major software outlets, such as Spotify and Google, have adopted the Snap platform. Developer sign-up has tripled in the last three months alone, he said.


Developer tools are now available for Snap construction. Snaps are no longer just about Ubuntu. It has become a team effort.


“We are seeing cross-distribution success. For instance, if you are running any distribution besides Ubuntu, you no longer have to wait for local repositories to repackage the latest releases,” said Dandrea.



Dev Advantages


Developers can reach the largest population of Linux users of all distributions with one release. Self-contained libraries are included in the Snap package.


That means software developers no longer have to debug their way through every conceivable combination. If an application needs a dependency, it is bundled with the Snap, noted Dandrea.


“The bottom line is Snaps are lowering the barrier of entry in developing for Linux or publishing software for Linux,” he said. “They require no additional infrastructure.”



Bonus Feature


One new feature in the latest Ubuntu release appeals to software developers in particular: the ability to run Ubuntu on a Windows computer in a virtual machine. This gives developers a seamless experience moving between Linux and Windows on a single machine, with the ability to copy and paste between them.


“This ability was a huge demand from the developer community,” said Cooke. “This is another obstacle removed from their path to really allow them to benefit from the power of Ubuntu from their Windows machine.”



Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.

Email Jack.


Snap Doubles Down on Spectacles Wearable Cam

Snap, the company behind Snapchat, on Thursday released the second generation of its Spectacles, a wearable video camera that captures short clips that can be synced to a smartphone. The new version also takes still photos and is designed to be water-resistant.


The new Spectacles sport the same basic Ray-Ban style design as the first iteration, but they have been slimmed down and are less bulky — a good thing both for wearing the glasses and transporting them. In addition, users have more color options. They include the ever-fashionable onyx, as well as ruby and sapphire.


The result of the makeover is that the new version looks much more like an actual pair of sunglasses than a wearable video camera.



This second-generation product offers more than a new look for the exterior, however. The connectivity between the device and the

user’s handset has been improved, making it easier to share videos and still photos. The software has been improved as well, and the

Spectacles can create an ad hoc WiFi network for sharing content to mobile phones.


The Spectacles are available for order in the United States, Canada, the UK and France for US$150 — a $20 increase over the original model. Availability will be expanded to include much of Europe next week. As with the original model, the new Spectacles are compatible with devices running Google’s Android OS and Apple’s iOS.



Fun the in the Sun


Spectacles aren’t designed for capturing long-form videos — and in

that way they are akin to a poor’s man answer to Google’s Glass. They take short videos to chronicle “moments” — similar to the experience Vine or Glide offers. With the second-generation Spectacles, users can record 10-second videos — same as the first model — but there are options to record 20-second or 30-seond videos as well.


The new Spectacles offer an upgrade in video resolution — an increase of 25 percent to 1,216 x 1,216. It isn’t high definition, but it still represents a notable improvement in quality. Still photo resolution is an impressive 1,642 x 1,642.


With the new Spectacles, Snap also has doubled down in terms of audio. In

addition to the single microphone that is meant to record the wearer,

the new version of the glasses includes a second mic to record anyone

close to the wearer.



Making a Spectacle


The original Spectacles weren’t exactly a huge hit when Snap released them a year and a half ago — far from it, in fact. That could be blamed in part on the company’s distribution methods. The glasses initially were sold

exclusively via the company’s pop-up vending machine, dubbed “Snapbot.”

The glasses were made available for online purchase a few months later, but they failed to catch on with consumers.


Reviews of the first Spectacles were mostly positive, but consumers seemed unimpressed. Sales of the original glasses reportedly numbered around 150,000 — far less than the number produced.


Even worse for the company was the fact that only about half of those who purchased the first-generation wearable cameras continued

to use them after the first month.


As a result of the poor Spectacles sales, Snap laid off about 7 percent of its total workforce, and it had to write down nearly $40 million at the end of 2017 related to the unsold glasses and retailer cancellations.



Second Shot


Given the poor reception of the original Spectacles, it may seem odd

the company would try again. However, the glasses could represent Snap’s best chance to become more than a service that provides expiring private messages. Entering the consumer electronics hardware market could give it an edge in the competition among social media rivals.


“The new Spectacles are high risk, but also high potential reward for

the company,” said Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint

Technologies Associates
.


“Snap has been struggling for mind share against Instagram — and

losing,” he told TechNewsWorld.


“If these glasses are usable, they could be a distinctive brand

element — and like Apple, Snap has to get it right in order to create

the category,” added Kay.


“There were MP3 players before the iPod, but Apple pulled it all together,” he noted. “There still seem to be limitations with this revision, and I never understand why companies don’t limit steps to the bare minimum. Really, the default should be one-touch upload.”



Caught on Camera


Spectacles could be a product that aims to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Given the proliferation of camera phones — some with very advanced features — it’s not clear there’s a consumer need for a wearable camera.


“That is the biggest flaw of the Snap camera glasses,” said Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.


“It creeps out people, and they don’t want to be recorded without their consent,” he told TechNewsWorld. “The biggest benefit is you can record at any time in a very convenient way, but that scares people.”


Spectacles could have some acceptable uses, but “in order for camera glasses to succeed, society has to either come up with a proper framework or a new system of consent,” suggested Entner.


“Nobody wants people to wear these glasses in certain circumstances —

like in a bathroom,” he pointed out.


For Snap, resolving the social acceptability and etiquette issues might not come quickly enough, according to Kay. “Snap needs this win to survive.”



Peter Suciu has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2012. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile phones, displays, streaming media, pay TV and autonomous vehicles. He has written and edited for numerous publications and websites, including Newsweek, Wired and FoxNews.com.

Email Peter.

US Conservationists Sue Trump Administration Over Migratory Bird Policy


A coalition of conservation groups sued the Trump administration on Thursday, accusing the government of slashing protections for migratory birds.


At issue is the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which the National Audubon Society and other plaintiffs say has been undermined. In the past, the act helped hold parties responsible for actions that killed or injured migratory birds.


But in December, the Trump administration said energy companies and other businesses that accidentally kill migratory birds will no longer be criminally prosecuted.


“As you can imagine, many causes of bird fatalities — including oil spills — could fall into this ‘unintentional’ category, so we’re taking the administration to court,” David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in a statement.





FILE - A multitude of migratory Vaux's Swifts flock to roost for the night inside a large, brick chimney at Chapman Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, Sept. 13, 2016.

FILE – A multitude of migratory Vaux’s Swifts flock to roost for the night inside a large, brick chimney at Chapman Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, Sept. 13, 2016.

Plaintiffs also include the American Bird Conservancy, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Defenders of Wildlife. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.


Defendants are the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Daniel Jorjani, the Interior Department’s principal deputy solicitor.


The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, representing the government in the lawsuit, declined to comment. Representatives for the Fish and Wildlife Service, interior and justice departments also declined comment.


The Trump administration’s December move, in a legal memo from the Interior Department, reversed a longstanding practice at the agency and a last-minute rule implemented by the outgoing Obama administration. It came after several appeals courts ruled that the government was interpreting a century-old law aimed at protecting birds too broadly.


In the legal opinion, Jorjani said that a 1918 law that officials have used to prosecute those who kill birds “incidentally” as part of doing business was really aimed at preventing poaching and hunting without a license.


The Migratory Bird Treaty Act “applies only to direct and affirmative purposeful actions that reduce migratory birds, their eggs, or their nests, by killing or capturing, to human control,” Jorjani wrote.


The memo is already being followed, the lawsuit said, and one or more companies constructing natural gas pipelines were told they may cut down trees with nesting birds during the breeding season.


The conservation groups request that the court vacate the memo and declare the defendants “revert to their prior, correct longstanding interpretation and policy,” the lawsuit said.


The Scaling Challenge

There is a meme making the rounds and I have no idea how old it is or its origins but I’ve heard it twice in the last week. It’s easier to start a company than it is to scale one. You can’t say it’s a revolutionary thought, but for the last 20 years the emphasis has been decidedly on founding, so this is something of a departure.


The Scaling Challenge


Startups don’t grow to the moon on average. For instance, if we didn’t have Salesforce, would we even remember the dot-com boom at the start of the century? There have been so many startups; some failed and many were bought, and their names disappeared. So we have a lot of experience and data about what to do — and equally important, what to avoid — in starting a company.



No User Guide



A case in point: Venture capitalists commonly look for a business model and a minimally viable product (MVP) in the early rounds, and they want to see a repeatable revenue model later as they attempt to bring a company to the market. Not having either, or even not having one, is death. That’s a far cry from the era when business proposals were written on cocktail napkins.


There are no precise formulas for how to scale a company, once the MVP is not so minimal and the revenue model is fairly predictable. We may have lots of memory about this phase but it’s nothing like early days.


At the same time, once a business has reached the relatively calm waters of early adulthood, you can bet the marketplace has changed enough to cause some rethinking. The impulse to do everything at once is just as prevalent for early adult companies as it is for those more junior, but it is also more perilous. Failing as a startup happens all the time, but failing after initial success can be very painful since so much is riding on continued success.


It was refreshing, therefore, to see how NetSuite was coping with success when I attended the analyst events at SuiteWorld ’18 in Las Vegas. In its still young life, NetSuite has been a startup, an IPO candidate, and an acquisition target.



Staying the Course



Now part of Oracle, NetSuite has a lot of growing left to do, but it is still able to take the measure of where it’s been. Executive Vice President Jim McGeever and founder and EVP of Development Evan Goldberg were able to provide a convincing and down-to-earth morning presentation of NetSuite’s approach to the market.


“We’re not going to boil the ocean,” Goldberg said several times, emphasizing the company’s commitment to stay on track. The goal is to deliver functionality for NetSuite customers while avoiding the pitfalls of more full-blown development projects that might scratch a research itch but not necessarily deliver utility to customers.


Part of the credit for this approach likely should go to Oracle. Since buying NetSuite, it has provided cash to expand operations — for example going from 60 to 600 sales people in EME — while exercising a light touch on operations. It also has contributed sound management.


Perhaps one reason for NetSuite’s success was the continued involvement of Larry Ellison as a board member and part owner during the company’s formative years. With Ellison’s influence, it’s hard to see how NetSuite could have failed to become a good acquisition candidate.



Focus on Micro-Verticals


As for scaling a middle-sized company, NetSuite demonstrated its focus on its customers in its announcements and interviews with customer CEOs. One good example of its focus has been its SuiteSuccess program, designed to take the pain and risk out of the onboarding process, especially for smaller customers.


Another good example is NetSuite’s focus on micro-verticals, markets where it intends to deliver 80 percent of the necessary back office functionality out of the box, in order to speed up onboarding and adoption.


There are 33 micro-verticals for 14 industries, and there’s a need for scores more, according to McGeever. There’s no doubt about that, but it might have been equally useful to say more about the tools and technologies that provide the last 20 percent. There’s no doubt the technology is available, so the messaging should track it a bit closer.


That said, NetSuite appears to be benefiting from the acquisition by accessing Oracle’s resources — including its cash and brain power — to scale at a time when it can be put to work to good effect.


My last point, which is something the financial analysts may not have calculated: The new Oracle data centers going up around the world will be perfect homes for products like NetSuite, which is growing significantly outside of North America (more than 80 percent recently). The company has plans to prove this when the German data center becomes operational.


It looks as though it won’t be too difficult to populate those facilities, and this will give Oracle’s continuing cloud rollout added momentum.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.



Denis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry analyst, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there.

Email Denis.

BSF Commandant Loveraj Singh sets national record by scaling Everest for the 7th time


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BSF Commandant Loveraj Singh sets national record by scaling Everest for the 7th time

Love Raj Singh Dharmshaktu sets national record by scaling Everest 7th time. As per latest and proud moment, Love Raj Singh Dharmshaktu, assistant commandant with the Border Security Force (BSF) has placed a novel national record by conquering the highest peak, Mount Everest (8,848 m), for the seventh time.


Singh, who hails from Bona village of Munsiyari in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, summited Everest at 7 am on Sunday together with seven associates in his squad.



image source


Love Raj Singh, who has also been honoured with a Padma Shri award, scaled the peak for the sixth time during 2017 and date was May 27. Singh’s previous ascents got registered during the years including 1998, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2013. At this time, the top record for scaling Everest the maximum number of times is possessed by Apa Sherpa who belongs to Nepal. Sherpa has summited Everest 21 times.



image source


The BSF trip got flagged off on March 20 by Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Union sports and youth affairs minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in the national capital. After the squad fruitfully fulfilled the journey on Sunday, the minister made a special tweet, “From being the desert scorpions to conquering the intimating snowy peaks, there is nothing a BSF jawan can’t do.”


Dharamshaktu had set up two groups. Whilst first group scaled the summit during the morning, the other one headed by deputy commandant, Avinash Negi, will depart on Sunday night.



The squad carried BSF’s ‘clean and save glaciers’ drive to Everest, and will be bringing back heaps of garbage from the 8,848-meter high peak.


Dharamshaktu told media over a satellite phone, “Our team of seven members successfully summited Mt Everest at 7 in the morning. We had started at 10 pm on Saturday night and the weather more or less cooperated with us.”



image source


Dharamshaktu added that the complete squad members are in good health and they would now come back to camp 2 and would arrive at base camp on Monday noon.


Sharing his delight, he also stated, “It is a divine and overwhelming experience to touch the peak of Mt Everest once again.”


Inspector General of BSF, DK Upadhyaya, stated, “We are extremely proud of the BSF team that summited Mt Everest on Sunday.”


Published by Mamatha on 25 May 2018