Apple iOS Passcode Crack Revealed by Security Researcher. Watch the Exploit in Action

An iPhone can be unlocked with a virtual keyboard pretending to type lots of passcodes, a security researcher revealed Friday. By sending all possible four-digit PIN combinations as if they came from a USB keyboard, the cracking method bypasses Apple’s protections against incorrect passcode entry, ultimately unlocking the phone once the correct combination is entered.

In a video posted mid-day Friday, security researcher Matthew Hickey demonstrates sending a continuous stream of keyboard input—the equivalent of typing keys very very fast—as all the possible combinations of passcodes doesn’t get blocked by Apple’s security features.

Apple has not yet responded to a request for comment. Hickey told ZDNet he reported the flaw to the company.

Apple’s protections against incorrect passcode entry include longer and longer delays between the entry of each wrong code as well as erasing the phone after 10 incorrect password attempts.

But Hickey shows that even with the erasing option enabled on his phone, his crack inputs code after code on an iPhone without that safeguard enabling.

Hickey’s technique may be the method—or one of them—allegedly employed by security firms Cellebrite and Grayshift to crack phones via brute force methods for governments and law enforcement agencies.

Apple recently confirmed an upcoming version of its iOS operating system for iPhones and iPads would have a USB timeout feature enabled by default. After an hour had passed since a user had unlocked their phone (via passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID), the iPhone Lightning port used for USB connections would no longer accept data. This would lock out current cracking tools.

The company also said it has made changes in the low-level software used to allow interaction with peripherals via USB, like keyboards, to fix security exploits and weaknesses it had found. Hickey’s demonstration only showed it in action against a recent release of iOS, version 11.3, while the current version is 11.4, and version 12 will be out later this fall.

In Hickey’s demo, the phone processes codes at a rate of about three to five seconds each. For a four-digit code and 10,000 possibilities, that would take days to iterate through every combination. For years, Apple’s iOS recommended that users employ six-digit security codes, which would take weeks to hack via Hickey’s method. But security researchers and malicious parties alike have tables of the most likely codes employed by most people, and prioritize their entry for faster cracking.

10 Top Talents that Effective Innovators Possess

While Bezos never acted in blockbuster movies and Alba never launched a car into space, these three powerhouse innovators share key talents and skills across the board.

So, what are the top talents and skills that effective innovators like Musk, Bezos, and Alba possess? Let’s take a look.

When you’re leading a company or trying to bring an idea to life, confidence is absolutely essential. You need to believe in yourself, believe in the product, and believe in the possibility of a bright future. This is what will draw others to your cause-;from key investors to potential customers.

Also known as “determination,” grit is often what separates the wheat from the chaff. Pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth even wrote a fascinating book on this topic that’s definitely worth the read. But one of the biggest takeaways from that book was that Duckworth discovered talent usually takes a back seat to resilience and drive. Grit is what pushes innovators forward.  

When you go out on a limb to create something, you’re often alone in the process. Even Jessica Alba stated she felt alone in the early stages of building The Honest Company. There were some decisions she made that forced her to draw a line in the sand and stand her ground against other stakeholders in the company.

If you’re going to build the company or product you want, a strong independent streak will help carry you through the tough times.

Famous copywriter and art collector Eugene Schwartz once stated that creation isn’t bringing something completely new into existence. Instead, creativity is when you bring together separate entities that have never been joined before. Uber is a great example of this in action. This startup didn’t invent the idea of ride sharing, but it was the first to connect this concept with the latest digital technologies.

Without the drive to explore and learn new things, you’ll never know what concepts can be joined together to create something truly revolutionary and groundbreaking.

The status quo is never good enough for innovators. They often shake things up-;and sometimes just to see what the reaction will be. But in doing so, they can find ways to work smarter, not harder. And this is what enables them to do more with much less.

While smart innovators tend to be fiercely independent, they don’t try to do everything themselves. It’s an inefficient system and they know it. Instead, they find the right people for the right positions and empower them to do their job as best as they can. This enables them to focus on the areas in which they excel.

Cash is king. No question. The last thing you want to do is create a great product or company that’s great in theory but struggles to make a profit of any sort. Truly great innovators find a way to strike a balance between keeping an eye on the profits while blazing new paths forward.

You cannot be a successful innovator without a solid network. Whether it’s from a personal or professional standpoint, you’ll need support and partnerships to make real change.

You’re rolling the dice when it comes to anything you build or create. The effective innovators are the ones who know when to take a big risk and when to hold back. They also know to listen to their gut even when the data might be telling them otherwise. Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith and trust it will all work out in the end.

If you want your business or product to take off, then you need to be able to sell it. You’ll need to make a convincing pitch to investors and persuade customers to make a purchase. The successful innovators are the ones who can sell their innovations in their sleep.

Possessing these skills and talents will help you take your innovations-;whether it’s a new company or a book you wrote-;to new heights. However, don’t feel discouraged if you don’t possess all 10. These talents-;like any other talent-;can be honed and developed over time. All you need to do is practice.

Cyber Saturday—When Ireland Rebooted Civilization

Happy Bloomsday, Cyber Saturday readers.

I had the pleasure of spending the week in Dublin, where Bloomsday festivities—the annual celebration of Ulysses, that modernist masterstroke of a novel by 20th century literary luminary James Joyce—are taking place. While I did not stay through the weekend, I did explore the city, retrace some of Bloom’s fictional footsteps, and generally ponder the Irish literary tradition—including the peculiarly essential role the Celtic island played in stewarding and disseminating a body of scholarship that would eventually serve as a foundation for western civilization.

Ireland’s importance to the world of letters extends well before Joyce. Look no further than the Book of Kells. This national treasure is stored a floor beneath the Long Hall library at Trinity College, where the illuminated, bound-vellum pages lay splayed under a glass-capped dais in a darkly-lit room. The relic exemplifies the extraordinary monastic movement that in ages past swept Ireland and kept alive texts, classical and otherwise, in the face of the Roman Empire’s collapse.

Were it not for the Irish, many Latin texts might have been lost to time—or burned in barbaric bonfires. In a sense, Ireland served as a restore point, a reboot for the inherited wisdom and writings of the ancient world. One Thomas Cahill, in fact, argued just this in his two-decade-old bestseller, How the Irish Saved Civilization. (It’s an engaging read, though it admittedly lacks nuance.)

In Dublin, I could not help but consider the country’s heritage in the context of information security. What is cybersecurity but the preservation and protection of data? The safeguarding of valuable info assets? Long before computer servers and machines, there were monks and monasteries. Before hackers there were Vikings and Visigoths. Ireland and its scribes were a rare beacon at the onset of the Dark Ages.

Today devices do much of the rote work for us—replicating and reproducing our silicon-inscribed knowledge—but the ever-present threat of data loss and corruption is no less real. Raiders swarm the wires.

On this Bloomsday, we can learn a valuable lesson by Ireland’s example: Always have a backup plan.

Robert Hackett


[email protected]

Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’sdaily tech newsletter. Fortune reporter Robert Hackett here. You may reach Robert Hackett via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber (see OTR fingerprint on my, PGP encrypted email (see public key on my, Wickr, Signal, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.

William Shatner Promotes Solar-Powered Cryptocoin Mining

Ever the showman and pitchman, William Shatner isn’t shy when he’s passionate about something. So onlookers may have expected something more from Star Trek’s original Capt. Kirk when he announced that Solar Alliance Energy, a company for which he’s the spokesperson, had purchased a 165,000 square foot warehouse in Murphysboro, Ill. as the first of many solar-powered facilities it plans to lease to cryptocurrency miners. Maybe a full-voiced, head-titled-back, “COOOOOOINNNNNNNNN!” as a camera pulled up and away? Alas, no, not today.

Instead Shatner made anodyne statements about the future of currencies that existed solely as bits. “I am proud to be a part of the group that is powering the digital currency revolution,” he said in a statement. “Blockchain technologies, and cryptocurrencies specifically, are at the cutting edge of a new distributed technology infrastructure.”

Shatner’s connection to tech is tenuous — and always has been, from Priceline to LottoGopher — but it highlights a significant and rapidly increasing problem associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies: they require vast amounts of electrical power. The distributed worldwide Bitcoin network employs specialized server hardware that performs over 80 million trillion operations a second worldwide to find a mathematical needle in a haystack that allows them to collect a hefty reward and add transactions to a global ledger, called a blockchain. By comparison, the world’s fastest supercomputer performs 200,000 trillion operations a second.

The need for that much calculation comes with accompanying needs for power. A recent peer-reviewed paper that performed a rigorous analysis of the likely energy consumed by Bitcoin alone said the currency consumes nearly as much energy as all of Ireland, with a current annualized rate of 22.3 trillion watts of power (TWh) a year at minimum, compared to Ireland’s consumption of 25 TWh. Bitcoin’s electrical use could power roughly 2 billion average American homes. The paper’s author believes this could triple by the end of 2018.

Solar Alliance Energy’s Murphysboro facility will get a 3-megawatt solar panel array, which at a theoretical peak capacity could generate about one-tenth of 1% of power consumed by Bitcoin globally. But because solar only works during daylight hours and only at peak efficiency for part of the day, actual production will likely be far less.

While cryptocurrency advocates have promoted the idea of green power stoking the Bitcoin furnaces—especially off-the-grid sources devoted exclusively to mining—the scale and location of large-scale mining operations make any dramatic shift to solar unlikely.

Murphysboro has just 8,000 residents, which is typical of cities in which cryptocurrency mining operations locate. Small towns with cheap hydroelectric or other forms of power around the United States have increasingly wrestled with miners who come into town and start asking for tens of megawatts of power, the equivalent of large-scale industrial operations. Some public utility districts have imposed advance payment requirements for infrastructure upgrades, frozen new mining operations, or created new tiers of service to charge miners more.

Shatner was once a cryptocoin skeptic, but told the Chicago Tribune he’s now a convert. While he lives in California, he has a home in Kentucky, and expects he might visit the facility, which Solar Alliance Energy plans to start leasing out to mining clients by the end of 2018.

Senators Demand Answers From Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos About Alexa Mishap

Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Chris Coons (D-DE) have sent Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a number of privacy-related questions about Amazon’s Echo voice-controlled speaker, reflecting the growing concern about how the device records and retains users’ conversations, according to Wired.

The senators, who serve as chair and ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, specifically referenced a widely reported incident last month in which a Portland couple had their conversation recorded by the Alexa voice-recognition software used in the Echo. The device then sent the recording as an attachment to one of their contacts without them requesting it.

Amazon confirmed that the event occurred, and explained that it was caused by a series of unlikely triggers. In their letter to Bezos, the senators demanded action that would prevent the same thing from happening again, said Wired, which obtained a copy of the still unreleased correspondence.

Wired reported that the letter contained almost 30 questions, including about some of the nitty-gritty of Alexa’s data management like when Alexa sends data to Amazon’s servers, how often it does so, how long that captured data is stored, and what period of time after someone says “Alexa” (which cues the technology to perk up) does an Echo record a conversation. The senators also asked whether consumers can delete recordings.

All voice-recognition devices—whether those from Apple, Amazon, Google, or startups—must listen continuously in order to know when its trigger is hit. (On smartphones, a user may opt to use a different trigger.) While Amazon and Google have characterized their respective systems’ privacy components relatively thoroughly, with Apple erring on the side of sending relatively little voice data off of devices, Amazon’s particulars are less well known.

Sen. Coons tweeted a link to the Wired story about their letter shortly after it appeared, and both senators are quoted in the article.

Epic Reveals 'Fortnite' Has Ballooned To 125 Million Players Since Launch

It was only a passing mention in a livestream, but it was definitely the most significant moment of the night from a Fortnite news perspective. By last count, as stated by Epic in January, Fortnite had 40 million players after adding a battle royale mod to its base game. Tonight, Epic revealed during their Fortnite World Cup esports announcement that the game has swelled to 125 million six months later.

While it’s an astonishing figure, I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise, per se. I am a little confused why Epic didn’t make a big deal at 100 million, but I expected them to be around that point by now, given how much Fortnite has absolutely blown up after the last few months.

How does that stack up to other games? It makes it, unsurprisingly, the biggest game that we know of, perhaps outside of some select mobile titles. It is likely mobile that is responsible for the breach of 100 million, as that has opened up Fortnite to an avalanche of potential new players. Now with a Switch launch, that number will inevitably grow even more. League of Legends, which has long been the most popular non-mobile game in the world, has previously boasted about 100 million monthly players, but I can’t imagine the rise of Fortnite has allowed it to stay that high, though I don’t believe the 125 million figure is monthly.

Still, it’s undeniably impressive, there’s no two ways about it, and in the wake of this enormous success, Epic has kept a steady hand on the wheel, refusing to allow the game to drown in bugs and cheaters, constantly adding in new content updates weekly, be they new weapons or in season 4, new map additions. Its season rotation is now one of the most-anticipated events in gaming every ten weeks, and from my own coverage perspective, I have not seen a game draw this much interest since Pokémon GO two years ago. And even if that game had more total players, I have certainly seen a much higher level of sustained interest in Fortnite, which seems like it still may not have peaked, despite its recent world domination.

I am hoping that we’ll be able to get some more detailed stats from Epic soon. 125 million is a good start, but I’d love a more detailed breakdown of the playerbase, daily players, concurrent players, but since Epic is a private company, they only share what they have to.

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Fortnite has been a gaming and pop culture phenomenon unlike anything else in recent memory. And in some ways, it still feels like it’s only just getting started.

Follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pre-order my new sci-fi novel Herokiller, and read my first series, The Earthborn Trilogy, which is also on audiobook.

'Fortnite' Superstar Ninja Wins Twitch's First E3 Celebrity Pro Am, And $1 Million For Charity

I’m not sure if I should call it Fortnite’s Super Bowl or Celebrity Deathmatch, but we have just wrapped the first E3 Pro Am, and it was certainly something to behold, with the grand prize taken away by none other than Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins, the most famous man in Fortnite, and his partner, EDM DJ Marshmello who was in full costume the entire time.

The concept behind the event was not an esports tournament, but one for a $3 million dollar charity prize pool instead. Epic paired 50 Twitch streamers/YouTube creators with 50 celebrities. “Celebrity” may be a stretch for many, but there were some bigger names in there, Chandler Riggs, the Walking Dead star, Community’s Joel McHale and at least three superheroes from the Arrowverse (including two Firestorms, Robbie Amell and Franz Drameh). But no one was bigger stars to the live crowd than Fortnite legends like Ninja and Myth.

The event was in an outdoor football stadiums which seems like a not-great plan in hindsight, given that it’s LA and burning hot outside, and also this is something that involves both the audience and the players staring at screens outdoors in the daylight.

With only three total matches, a solo practice, a duo practice and the big charity duos match, there was a lot of filler before and between the games, which probably only lasted an hour-ish in total, despite a 3+ hour stream that attracted at least a million concurrent viewers across a number of Twitch streams, plus more on YouTube, though official figures are still to come.

As expected, the event was heavily skewed toward the YouTube and Twitch pros who have played a lot more Fortnite than their actor/singer/DJ/NBA player counterparts, though many celebrities were experienced enough with the game to not be totally terrible. Though of course, some were, though most of the most embarrassing early deaths weren’t caught on stream.

This event acted as sort of a preview for future Fortnite events, as Epic has planned a $100 million worth of prize pools to give away across other events this year, and we saw the debut of spectator tools to help with that. The Fortnite World Cup was announced which will be a fan-pro driven event without pro team franchise spots, unlike other esports.

But, how did tonight go? It was pretty fun. Probably too much downtime, but if you follow the YouTube and Twitch scenes, and recognize most of the celebrities, it was cool to see them all together battling it out.

The winners were as follows:

Solo Warm-Up

NoahJ defeats Kinstaar

Duos Warm-Up

Kinstaar/Sean0 defeats Ninja/Marshmello

Final Duo Charity Match

Ninja/Marshmello defeats CourageJD/Kenneth Faried

That’s right, Fortnite superstar Ninja did what all his fans were hoping he’d do, take home the grand prize. He didn’t do so in the most exciting of fashions, as he and Marshmello spent most of their games, including the final, camped out in tall towers in the middle of safe zones, so we didn’t exactly see any high impact stream-like plays from him, but Ninja is an extremely talented player and he certainly didn’t win through blind luck alone. That means he earned $1,000,000 for the charity of his choice as the grand prize winner, with the other $2 million split between the other teams. It was also poetic he killed his friend and sometimes duos partner CourageJD for the final win. I believe Ninja will give his share of the money to St. Jude, as he’s frequently raised money for them so far, but I need to confirm that.

It was a great event, and capped off by the Ninja/Marshmello win in storybook fashion. Well, as storybook as a charity tournament full of streamers and celebrities drowning in sweat can be, but the point is, it was a lot of fun. Check out a replay and skip the fluff to get to the rather good matches.

Follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pre-order my new sci-fi novel Herokiller, and read my first series, The Earthborn Trilogy, which is also on audiobook.

Foxconn says investigating labor conditions at China factory used for Amazon

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Contract manufacturer Foxconn said on Sunday it is investigating a plant in China that makes devices for Inc (AMZN.O), after a U.S. watchdog group criticized what it described as harsh working conditions at the factory.

FILE PHOTO: Visitors are seen at a Foxconn booth at the World Intelligence Congress in Tianjin, China May 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

A 94-page report by New York-based China Labor Watch that followed a nine-month investigation cited excessive hours, low wages, inadequate training and an overreliance on “dispatch” or temporary workers in violation of Chinese law at the Hengyang Foxconn plant in Hunan province, which makes Echo Dot smart speakers and Kindle e-readers.

“We are carrying out a full investigation of the areas raised by that report, and if found to be true, immediate actions will be taken to bring the operations into compliance with our Code of Conduct,” Foxconn Technology Group said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

Taiwan-based Foxconn, known formally as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (2317.TW), is the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer and employs more than a million people.

FILE PHOTO: An Inc driver stands next to an Amazon delivery truck in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File photo

Foxconn, which also makes Apple Inc (AAPL.O) iPhones, came under fire in 2010 for a spate of suicides at plants in China. Foxconn pledged to improve working conditions.

China Labor Watch said its investigation found that about 40 percent of workers at the plant were dispatch workers, far exceeding the 10 percent limit under Chinese law. Dispatch workers were paid at the same rate for regular and overtime hours, rather than time and a half as required, said China Labor Watch Program Officer Elaine Lu.

“They were underpaid,” Lu said. “That’s illegal.”

Dispatch workers earned 14.5 yuan ($2.26) per hour, the report said. Workers also put in more than 100 overtime hours per month during peak season, far more than the 36 hours allowed by law, and some worked for 14 consecutive days.

Amazon said it audited the factory in March and found overtime and use of dispatch workers were “issues of concern.”

“We immediately requested a corrective action plan from Foxconn,” Amazon said in a statement. It said it is monitoring Foxconn’s response and “compliance with our Supplier Code of Conduct. We are committed to ensuring that these issues are resolved.”

Foxconn said in an earlier statement that it “works hard to comply with all relevant laws and regulations” where it operates and conducts regular audits. “If infractions are identified, we work to immediately rectify them,” it said.

Reporting by Alwyn Scott in New York and Reuters Beijing bureau; Editing by Chris Reese and Sandra Maler

These Startups Are Using AI and Virtual Reality to Fight Mental Illness

Mental health professionals and entrepreneurs have a message for those suffering from anxiety and depression: You are not alone.

That message seems especially relevant in 2018. The sudden deaths of Kate Spade, the fashion designer and entrepreneurial icon, and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain this week shine a light on a systemic problem: Mental illness. Both Spade and Bourdain are reported to have taken their own lives, with the former having struggled with depression for a long period of time, according to her husband, Andy Spade. They were 55 and 61, respectively.

Indeed, roughly 18 percent of American adults suffer from some form of mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, and yet only a fraction of those access the treatment that they need or could benefit from. That’s a problem that a growing number of technology companies want to tackle.

To be sure, the best pathway to treatment is consulting a licensed professional. In the absence of a therapist–or in a pinch–here are seven tech startups that want to help those suffering from anxiety, depression, or other forms of mental illness. Of course, should you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

1. Quartet Health

Founded in 2014 by Arun Gupta, a Palantir expat, and Steve Shulman, the startup uses machine learning to identify patients with possible mental health conditions. It then links those patients, primary care physicians and behavioral therapists to come up with a customized treatment plan. 

“Making collaboration between primary care physicians and behavioral health specialists work is a must if we are going to improve the overall health of our country,” said Gupta. “The bridge between mental and physical health is being built with technology leading the charge.”

The New York City firm, which partners with some insurance providers, has raised $92 million in funding, from investors including Polaris Partners and, most recently, Google Ventures.

2. DotCom Therapy

Recent Inc. 30 under 30 honorees Emily Purdom and Rachel Robinson came up with the idea for DotCom Therapy in 2015. The Springfield, Missouri-based business has a unique approach to healthcare: It partners with 28 schools in seven countries to provide speech therapy, occupational therapy, mental health and tele-audiology services, connecting patients to some 90 therapists with laptops at the ready. Sessions start $30 for 15 minutes. “Now is the time when everyone has a laptop, a tablet, a phone, and this is the first time in history when everyone’s connected,” said co-founder Robinson in a recent interview with Inc. “So whether you’re living in Downtown Chicago or rural Alaska, you have a way of accessing this technology.”

With the exception of a small friends and family raise, the company is self-funded. It booked $2 million in revenue last year.

3. Talkspace

Even at the height of his career in 2014, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was deeply depressed, and contemplating suicide. “I hadn’t left my room for five days,” he said. “I questioned whether I wanted to be alive anymore.” After connecting with a therapist, Phelps said, he was finally able to tackle his problems head-on.

Last month, Phelps teamed up with Talkspace as part of an effort to promote awareness for mental illness. Talkspace connects users to licensed therapists through a website and mobile app, with plans starting at $32 per session. Founded by Oren and Roni Frank in 2012, the company says it has treated more than half a million patients, and counting.

4.  Joyable

This San Francisco startup, which bills itself as the leading online solution for overcoming social anxiety, wants to help those who are time-strapped. The Joyable app offers brief, five-to-ten minute activities for users, ranging from checking in with your feelings at any given moment and examining ‘personal values.’ Individual plans cost $99 per month, and typically involve eight-to-twelve weeks of guided therapy, including check-ins with a regular coach. The activities are modeled after a psychotherapy method called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, a heavily researched and widely-respected field.

Joyable, which launched in 2013, has raised more than $15 million in funding and claims to have reached more than 500,000 users.

5.  Lantern

This app specifically aims to help those suffering from stress, anxiety and body image issues. Lantern, which insists it’s more of a supplement than a replacement for traditional talk therapy, connects patients to licensed professionals for regular check-ins. The service costs around $49 per month, or $300 per year, and Lantern is currently working to integrate with employers such that its tools are covered by insurance and can be offered to workers as a benefit.

Based in San Francisco, the company–headed up by Alejandro Foung and Nicholas Letourneau–launched in 2012, and has raised over $20 million. 

6.  Limbix

Palo Alto, California-based Limbix is not your average virtual reality startup: It makes a software that therapists use in what’s called “exposure therapy,” simulating stressful or trauma-inducing situations for patients to help them overcome their fears. Co-founder and CEO Benjamin Lewis, a former Google project manager, launched the company with Tony Hsieh in 2016. Since that time, Limbix has raised more than $3 million from investors including Sequoia Capital, as it builds on more than two decades of research and clinical trials.

7.  Woebot

This AI-powered app functions as a therapy chatbot for those suffering from depression and anxiety. Similar to Limbix, Woebot uses principles of CBT to recommend various tools and techniques for overcoming stressful situations on the fly. Founded by Alison Darcy, a clinical psychologist at Stanford University, and a team of researchers in 2017, Woebot costs $39 per month.

Apple Loop: Latest Leak 'Confirms' New iPhone, iOS 12 Drops Sexy For Security, WWDC Fails MacBooks

Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the latest renders of the new iPhone X for 2018, the hardware that wasn’t announced at WWDC, why iOS 12 stands for stability, the renewed focus on iPhone security, the disappointment of no new MacBooks at WWDC, and all the spoof products announced on the internet.

Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).

First Renders Of The New iPhone X

As part of Apple’s push to expand the iPhone line-up (and increase sales of the iPhone family after years of declining share), the geekerati are expecting a budget version of the iPhone X (not to be confused with an update of the iPhone SE). What will it look like? Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reveals new renders of the budget iPhone X:

What Hemmerstoffer’s images and video (embedded below) show, is a 6.1-inch design which blends the chassis of the iPhone 8 and a single rear camera with the fascia of the iPhone X, complete with Face ID facial recognition module and the distinctive notch. On the flipside, this means no Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

…Hemmerstoffer notes this currently unnamed budget iPhone X (my naming bet is simply ‘iPhone’), will also pack wireless charging, stereo speakers and a new A12 chipset. So this is basically a single-camera iPhone X for over $200 less.

More here on Forbes.

OnLeaks/ MySmartPrice

Budget’ 6.1-inch iPhone and 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus (OnLeaks/ MySmartPrice)

What Wasn’t Announced At WWDC

Lots of news to come out of this week’s Worldwide Developer Conference from Apple, but before we get to what did appear, it’s important to realise what was not on show. Apple refused the opportunity to show off any new hardware. No iPads, no Macs, no MacBooks, no peripherals, and perhaps most importantly, no mid-range iPhones to replace the iPhone SE. And WWDC was the best time to announce this upcoming smartphone, as I discussed earlier this week:

Assuming Taniyama-Shimura, there are enough signs in the supply chain that an update to the iPhone SE is coming. So the question becomes not of ‘will it arrive’ but ‘when will it arrive.’

…its non-appearance at WWDC tells us a lot about the handset.  iPhone sales this year need a boost. The iPhone X has not delivered the super-cycle it promised and sales are flat to slightly down year-on-year. Market share is approaching single figures, and relying on high-end handsets with high margins may be delivering financial success… but it doesn’t provide for growth or entry into new markets. The iPhone SE 2 can help balance the equation of revenue and market share by offering a low-priced gateway into Apple’s world of smartphones.

More on why Apple hid the SE 2 here.

Twelve Stands For Stability

Almost all of the focus at WWDC was on software, and the vast majority of that focus was on iOS. There have not been any major changes or additions, Apple has focused on the stability of the code to rebuild the bulletproof perception of the iPhone’s operating system. Zach Epstein is glad the new release is just ‘meh’:

It’s no secret that iOS 11 has been a complete mess for Apple. It’s not the travesty that whiny anti-Apple bloggers would have you believe, of course, but there’s no question that Apple made some big mistakes in iOS 11. It has had more security holes, annoying bugs, and performance issues than any version of iOS from recent history, and many of those problems still exist in iOS 11.3 and iOS 11.4 now, more than 8 months after the software’s initial release.

We learned many months ago that performance and overall user experience were going to be Apple’s main points of focus in iOS 12. In fact, insider reports stated that Apple decided to delay the addition of several big new features in iOS 12 and push them back to subsequent releases, or maybe even until next year’s iOS 13 update. This way, Apple’s various iOS engineering teams could focus on improving performance in iOS and on refining the user experience, rather than on integrating complex new features.

More at BGR.

Next: Security is key, a requiem for macOS, and Conan O’Brien’s new iPhone…

​Buildah 1.0: Linux Container construction made easy

Video: Better know a blogger: SJVN on Linux, Microsoft, space roadsters, and more

The good news about containers, such as Docker‘s, is they make it easy to deploy applications, and you can run far more of them on a server than you can on a virtual machine. The bad news is that putting an application into a container can be difficult. That’s where Buildah comes in.

Buildah is a newly released shell program for efficiently and quickly building Open Container Initiative (OCI) and Docker compliant images and containers. Buildah simplifies the process of creating, building, and updating images while decreasing the learning curve of the container environment.

Read also: What is Docker and why is it so darn popular?

Better still, for those interested in continuous integration (CI), it’s easily scriptable and can be used in an environment where one needs to spin up containers automatically based on application calls. There’s no requirement for a container runtime daemon to be running on your system to take up resources and complicate the build process.

There’s long been a need for this kind of program. All too often IT professionals — who should know better — deploy containerized applications, which have been built by others, without knowing what’s inside them. This makes as much sense as running an unknown installation program on Windows. While there are companies, such as Bitnami, which creates trustworthy containers, all too often people seize on the first containerized application they can find that meets their needs.

With Buildah, you can now easily build your own containerized application using just the components you need and trust. Red Hat‘s consulting software engineer Daniel Walsh, explained, “I challenged my engineering team to create a ‘coreutils’ of container images — essentially, a utility that could be used with existing container host tools like cp, make, yum, and more to build OCI and Docker container images. These images could then be stored at container registries and used by a multitude of container runtimes.”

Buildah was the result. Oh, and the name? Walsh wrote, “The engineers asked me what to call it and I responded: ‘Just call it builder.’ The engineers heard my Boston accent and `Buildah` was born.”

Buildah provides only the bare necessities needed to create or change Linux container images making it easier to integrate into existing application build pipelines.

Walsh added, “When we say ‘bare necessities,’ we mean it. Buildah allows for the on-the-fly creation of containers from scratch–think of it as an empty box. For example, Buildah can assemble containers that omit things like package managers (DNF/YUM), that are not required by the final image. So not only can Buildah provide the capability to build these containers in a less complex and more secure fashion, it can cut bloat (and therefore image size) and extend customization to what you need in your cloud-native applications.”

In addition, “Since Buildah is daemonless, it is easier to run it in a container without setting up special infrastructure on the host or “leaking” host sockets into the container. You can run Buildah inside of your Kubernetes (or enterprise Kubernetes, like Red Hat OpenShift) cluster.”

With this first 1.0 release, Buildah supports external read/write volumes during builds. This enables developers to build container images that reference external volumes while being built, but without having to ship those external volumes in the completed image. This simplifies image creation without bloating those images with unnecessary and unwanted production artifacts.

In addition, Buildah can help create images, which better comply with Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS). With this, you can use Buildah to build and run containers in FIPS mode for customers that require FIPS-compliant applications.

Read also: How to export and import containers with Docker (TechRepublic)

Finally, Buildah now also offers multi-stage builds, multiple container transport methods for pulling and pushing images. By focusing solely on building and manipulating container images, Buildah is a useful tool for anyone working with Linux containers. Whether you’re a developer testing images locally or you’re looking for an independent image builder for a production toolchain, Buildah is a worthy addition to your container toolbelt.

Want to try it for yourself?

Run the following on a Red Hat, Fedora, or CentOS Linux system:

yum -y install buildah

I think you’ll like it.

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Did Science Miss Its Best Shot at an AIDS Vaccine?

In the late 1980s, Burt Dorman was ready to get out of the vaccination game. A biophysical chemist, he’d spent years running a successful company making animal vaccines—a dozen of them, against diseases like feline leukemia and vesicular stomatitis. Now Dorman was starting a new company in a new field, aiming at disease diagnostics.

And then the AIDS epidemic hit. The first hint that a new disease was killing people had come in 1981, in a publication called the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. What followed were years, decades even, of tragedy and homophobia-tainted ignorance. Still, by 1987 the first vaccine trial was underway, the World Health Organization had launched a global fight against the contagion, the playwright Larry Kramer had started the activist group ACT UP, and the first antiretroviral drug, AZT, was available.

Even so, science was still woefully short of understanding the plague or coming up with a vaccine that could prevent it. By the end of the decade, more than 100,000 people were infected in the United States. Absent treatment, the mortality rate for these patients, then as now, was effectively 100 percent. Dorman knew vaccines; he started talking to other people in the vaccinology world about being part of the fight. Don Francis, a longtime disease hunter then with the Centers for Disease Control and one of the main characters in the book And the Band Played On, got in touch—Dorman had beaten feline leukemia, and it’s caused by the same type of virus that triggers AIDS. Why not try to tackle HIV?

Dorman, 80, has been pushing to do classical vaccine research on HIV since the 1980s. “An equally diligent effort should be made to extract what we can from methods that have already been invented,” he says.

Samantha Cooper

Dorman was leery. The emerging effort looked chaotic. Dorman got his old vaccine team together for a meeting at his office; his son Sam remembers one at their house in Berkeley. “My image as a kid was of my dad feeling duty-bound, that there were people suffering and in danger, and they could do something,” Sam says.

Dorman decided to try. Today his name peeks through some of the stories of the early days of the epidemic and the hunt for a vaccine against the virus. He photobombs, metaphorically, books about the early years of the effort like Jon Cohen’s Shots in the Dark and Patricia Thomas’ Big Shot (both published in 2001). Since then, new therapies like antiretroviral drugs have made HIV infection into something it’s possible to live with rather than die from—at least, in the developed world. The search for a vaccine continues, a decadal, tidal ebb and flow of optimism followed by failure.

Burt Dorman with his son Sam at age 12, 1988.

Courtesy of Sam Dorman

Dorman, too, is still at it. But he’s pushing an approach to developing a vaccine that he argues the entire scientific edifice has largely abandoned. Dorman advocates a path that you might broadly term “classical.” It’s almost trial-and-error, a methodology that goes back to smallpox and rabies. Like early vaccinologists—Jenner, Pasteur, Salk—Dorman is a tinkerer who figures out how to grow, kill, and administer viruses in a way that sparks an immune response. It can work—and indeed often has—without a researcher knowing much, if anything, about the underlying immunology.

Because of how HIV works—how the virus infects a cell, what kinds of cells it infects, how it mutates and reproduces—and because of how vaccines get tested and developed, most scientists working on HIV immunology don’t think that such a classical approach can work. Instead, they aim to break apart and rearrange the specific pieces of the virus, like the sugars and proteins embedded in its shell, and deliver those alongside enhancing agents. These approaches, arising from recombinant DNA and protein technologies, are by their very nature more hypothesis-driven. More rational. This is the approach that garners almost all research funding from government agencies and pharmaceutical companies.

Dorman, then president of Advanced Genetics Research Institute, 1985.

Courtesy of Sam Dorman

Perfectly reasonable. And yet, in the 35 years since scientists isolated the virus that causes AIDS, 35 million people have died of the disease worldwide while waiting for a vaccine. “It’s a nice thing to argue that we will one day understand the biology well enough to do rational design of a vaccine,” Dorman says. “But an equally diligent effort should be made to extract what we can from methods that have already been invented.” That is what he has been saying for three decades. It hasn’t happened.

To the mainstream scientific community, Dorman’s quest is quixotic at best, tilting at windmills made of glycoproteins and RNA. But Dorman, now a spry 80, hasn’t given up. He’s convinced that if the rest of the scientific community had joined him decades ago, millions of lives would have been saved. They still could be. This isn’t a matter of science—at least, it’s not a matter of only science. It’s a matter of scientific culture—of a framework for making decisions about a research agenda.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt is shown for the first time on the Mall in Washington DC, 1987.

LEE SNIDER/Getty Images

AIDS memorial quilt on the National Mall lawn; 20,000 quilts are displayed, 1992.

Jeffrey Markowitz/Getty Images

That doesn’t mean Dorman is right and they’re wrong. He’ll be the first to say that he doesn’t know. But he’s also the first to point out: No one else knows, either. Not for sure.

Name just about any terrifying infectious disease, and no matter how Grand Guignol its symptoms, some people who get it also get better—that’s true for smallpox, polio, even Ebola. In a broad range of viral diseases, says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “the overwhelming majority of people survive, and when they do they completely eradicate the virus. And not only that, but they’re immune for the rest of their lives.”

That recovery hints that a vaccine is possible for those diseases—and many others. It’s a matter of creating a trigger that will speed up some processes that already happen in nature.

In the late 1700s, people knew that getting cowpox made you less likely to get smallpox, which in those days in Europe killed up to 400,000 people a year. Cowpox was a virus that their immune systems could fight off, and the cellular recording of that fight—the creation of a defense protocol in the immune system—would often ward off smallpox, too. This led the scientist Edward Jenner to try intentionally infecting a boy with cowpox as a prospective treatment. When the boy was subsequently found to be immune from smallpox, Jenner’s method took off, and the death toll from smallpox plummeted. The Latin name for cowpox is vaccinia, after the Latin for “cow,” so Jenner named his process “vaccination.”

Jump ahead to the mid-1950s, when 16,000 people, mostly children, got paralytic polio every year in the US. Working from the idea that a vaccine didn’t actually have to infect someone with a disease to jump-start immunity, Jonas Salk learned to kill poliovirus with formaldehyde and administer it. This “whole killed virus” vaccine worked, though people like Albert Sabin thought the formaldehyde would lead to a shorter period of immunity.

President and Mrs. Roosevelt enjoying after-luncheon conversation with polio patients of the Warm Springs Foundation in Warm Springs, Georgia.

Bettmann/Getty Images

This is classical, empirical vaccinology, 20th century style. The road wasn’t always straight. As Cohen’s book Shots in the Dark lays out, Salk tested his vaccine on children—with few if any of the permissions and safeguards a researcher would need today, like FDA approvals or signoffs from Institutional Review Boards. He just kind of … did it. It worked. Polio has been almost eliminated on Earth, and smallpox no longer exists in the wild.

The past half-century has been miraculous—something like 50 vaccines exist for humans, and hundreds for nonhuman animals we live with. The process for making almost all those drugs, essentially, involved subjecting a pathogen to every tool a laboratory can bring to bear—how to grow it in culture, how to kill or attenuate it, what chemicals to administer alongside it, how many doses to give and in what interval. Ideally in the end you hit on a combination that confers immunity. It’s a process that a tech entrepreneur like Sam Dorman would identify pretty closely with product development. Lots of iteration. An engineering problem.

But here’s the catch: Classical vaccinology might not work on HIV. “There’s no documented case of someone who got infected, truly infected, and then cleared the virus,” Fauci says. The same person can even get infected with two different strains.

Why? First of all, HIV is a retrovirus, a type of virus that rarely infects humans. This crafty bug—protein-and-sugar molecules embedded in a fatty coat around a bundle of genetic material—invades a cell and copies its genetic material, RNA, turning it into DNA and then inserting it into the nuclei of the host’s own cells. The viral DNA becomes part of the person. Today antiretroviral drugs interrupt that process—they prevent the viral RNA from becoming DNA, or keep it from integrating into the cellular genome, or stop the cell from making new virus. But take the antiretrovirals away, and the virus starts churning out again.

Maybe even more importantly, HIV attacks cells that would otherwise mediate a response to a pathogen—among them, CD4 T-cells. CD4 is a protein on the outside of certain cells critical to the human immune response; it’s also the protein that HIV latches onto and uses to break into those cells. A hybrid sugar-protein on the outside of the virus called gp120 hooks onto CD4 like a key, opening the door for other HIV proteins and allowing the virus to fuse with the cell and inject its genes.

Not only does the virus make a lot of copies of itself very, very quickly, its many different strains also mutate. The human immune system will attack any invader, but it also learns to tailor a response to specific pathogens based on proteins on that pathogen’s outer shell, waving like the livery of an enemy combatant. Studying HIV, researchers learned that it was protean. The virus’ glycoproteins change slightly from generation to generation, allowing it to evade detection. It doffs its old livery, in other words, and puts on a slightly different outfit, one that somehow evades the immune system’s surveillance tactics.

These nuances have only revealed themselves over 35 years of research. Unlike other pathogens, nothing about HIV even hinted a vaccine was possible. “We have to be better than human,” says Larry Corey, principal investigator at the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. “We’re zero out of 65 million in self-cure.”

American Public Health poster for AIDS, 1989.

Universal History Archive/Getty Images

But one issue became clear early on. As people began to look at vaccine strategies, they lost confidence in their ability to kill or fully inactivate HIV—a necessary predicate not only for a vaccine but simply to test candidates.

When people sign up for trials—much more regulated than in Salk’s day, and much more subject to the vicissitudes of liability law—those research subjects don’t know if they’re going to get a placebo or the medicine. And because AIDS is near-universally fatal, researchers and ethicists want to be able to assure them that they won’t accidentally get the disease. “We can tell them, hand on heart, you won’t get HIV from the product,” says Mitchell Warren,1 executive director of AVAC. “That’s a really important message to give people enrolling in clinical trials, and we couldn’t do that working with a whole killed vaccine.”

New York State Department of Health Public Health poster for AIDS, 1987.

Universal History Archive/Getty Images

Even into the 1990s, AIDS vaccine researchers were still ruminating on the possibilities of classical techniques. But the complexities of the virus, an evolving understanding of the human immune system’s response to it, and the fear of causing new infections all combined to lead them to reject that approach. That happened just as the tantalizing new field of genetic engineering, of recombinant DNA, offered the potential of not only an AIDS vaccine but perhaps an entirely new avenue of vaccine discovery.

Instead of the classical spadework Dorman advocates, scientists would use genetic and protein engineering techniques to build a vaccine from scratch, taking pieces of the HIV virus, bits of other viruses that the immune system kind of knows what to do with, “adjuvant” agents that boost an immune response…bits and pieces chained together into an exquisite corpse of immune-goosing biotechnology.

The approach has seen some success; it led to vaccines against hepatitis B and human papilloma virus. It takes longer, but it also allows scientists to learn more about the pathogen and immunology. And it has come to seem like the best route to an HIV vaccine.

Dorman came of age in the era of polio, when that virus was a seemingly unstoppable killer. Growing up in Pasadena, he saw community swimming pools made off limits and movie theaters closed.

He didn’t plan to go into the vaccine business; Dorman thought he’d become a researcher and a professor. “But before I finished my Cancer Society post-doc, I had a wife and four kids,” he says. Academia wasn’t going to pay enough to support a young family. So instead Dorman started what we’d now call a biotech company. Not that it was a surefire moneymaker. “There’s no such thing as a home-run product in animal health,” he says. And doing science outside the academy didn’t have the respect it does in today’s venture-capitalized hothouse. “In those days, if you left academia it felt like walking the plank,” Dorman says. But the business actually succeeded. That makes him something of an outlier in vaccinology: Burt Dorman has actually made vaccines. Most of the people working on HIV have not.

Dorman, Don Francis, and HIV researcher Nobuyoshi Shimizu, early 1990s.

Courtesy of Sam Dorman

The business wheel turned. Dorman sold the vaccine company and switched to making diagnostic technology. Then, in 1988, he wrote a proposal to work on HIV—make virus, purify it, kill it, learn to formulate it into a vaccine, figure out dosages, a hundred different variables, levers to pull and tweak—and sent it to Anthony Fauci. Give me two years and $5 million, Dorman said, and he would have a vaccine ready for human trials. “The NIH clinical study section laughed at that,” he says. “My rebuttal said, OK, we’ll take four years and $10 million, but that just pissed them off worse.” (Fauci doesn’t recall the proposal or Dorman.)

Into the 1990s, as success continued to elude the vaccine research community and governments and NGOS began to make increasingly large financial commitments to research, Dorman was still pitching. The mid-1990s brought the International AIDS Vaccine Consortium (known as IAVI), funded by foundation money from Rockefeller and Bill Gates, among others. “By then I had written so many failed proposals to NIH that the staff was pretty self-conscious,” he says. “Over the years I pitched IAVI, I pitched Gates. I pitched the Grateful Dead.” All those funders would say killed viruses wouldn’t work against HIV.

Dorman argued back. Just let us try it, he’d say. Simply testing the idea might provide new knowledge about HIV and its so-called correlates of protection in the human immune system—so other vaccine makers would know what to look for in their own research. He kept pitching. He got letters from researchers who said he might have a point. He tried to get editorials into journals, unsuccessfully.

That went on until 2000. “And then I gave up,” Dorman says. “In the process I pretty much ruined my diagnostics company.”

Science isn’t the only hard part of creating an HIV vaccine. The business of it is lousy, too. In 2010, Don Francis—the same Don Francis who recruited Dorman to the cause—laid out a depressingly plausible explanation for the lack of a vaccine in the journal Biologicals. Publicly funded science, he wrote, is very good at coming up with new knowledge and disseminating it. That’s research. But society leaves the other half of R&D—development—to industry. And industry’s main goal is profit.

From that perspective, vaccines are not great. For example, Francis wrote, it cost VaxGen $300 million to try and fail to develop an HIV vaccine in the 1990s. It cost Avirion $340 million to bring Flumist, the nasal flu vaccine, to market. (Another writer speculates it cost Sanofi Pasteur $1.4 billion to develop a recombinant, live-attenuated dengue vaccine—and it took 24 years.)

Maybe they didn’t expect to incur those costs. Maybe they believed in doing the right thing anyway. Sometimes vaccine makers also have NGO or philanthropic funding. Regardless, the incentives are all upside-down. Even if a manufacturer gets one made and approved, it’s hard to sell on an open market. Vaccines prevent rather than treat, and require just one or a few doses (flu vaccines being a notable exception).

That means the company makes only one sale, as opposed to keeping patients on the hook for a lifetime prescription. On the demand side, many people have a hard time internalizing the true risk of a disease they might someday get, maybe. And in the developing world, people are less likely to be able to pay for the product. And so on. So back-burnering vaccine development in favor of therapeutics and drugs to treat chronic conditions is just good business. Put it this way: In 2001 the entire market for all known vaccines was the same size as the market for the anticholesterol drug Lipitor.

The AIDS protest group ACT UP demonstrates in front of the White House demanding more money for AIDS research, June 1, 1987.

Bettmann/Getty Images

A few billionaires have tried to fight this garbage fire by making it rain money. Francis’ article acknowledges that donations from Warren Buffett and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation introduced billions of dollars into vaccine development, but foundation money and grassroots efforts tend to tilt research in the direction of single vaccines for single diseases, potentially siloing off broadly useful knowledge. “The private sector works on things that are proprietary, patentable, and profitable,” Dorman says. “Everybody is doing exactly what you would have expected and wanted them to do. I don’t have criticisms of anybody’s role at all.”

Except, well. He kind of does. Burt Dorman has been at this for three decades. He’s an old, Berkeley-looking dude now. Glasses in a jacket pocket, pad and pen in a shirt pocket, close-cropped beard. Tends to give the same examples for why he’s right more than once, in long emails—as you might expect from someone who has been advocating the same thing for decades.

But what he is outlining is a tragedy made worse by a tantalizing possibility: What if he was right? Not now, today, talking about vaccines in a Berkeley coffee shop, but back then? Thirty years and 35 million deaths ago?

What if he was right?

Dorman says he’s not particularly well read in history, but in 2008 he happened to read *Constantine’s Sword *, John Carroll’s history of the Catholic Church’s relationship with Judaism and what the Church did—and didn’t do—in response to the Holocaust. He was particularly struck by Carroll’s thesis: that history isn’t an accident. Specific people make specific choices.

He realized he had to try again. A couple years later, in 2010, after years in the world of technology and product development, Dorman’s son Sam decided to join him. Sam had noodled around with video and thought that might make a difference. “I think I just thought, maybe I can help my dad a little. He writes beautiful letters and beautiful papers, and he has a lot of faith in their ability to sway people,” Sam says. “But I thought if I could bring more modern, visual storytelling to this that it might be helpful.”

Sam Dorman, who in 2010 joined his father’s efforts to restart his vaccine research. “I thought if could bring more modern, visual storytelling to this that it might be helpful,” he says.

Samantha Cooper

So they started a website, After decades of carrying around testimonial letters from disease hunters and trying to get articles published in journals, Dorman’s arguments and those of his supporters are online videos now, laying out the case.

His timing couldn’t be worse.

This year, for the first time in, well, ever, researchers are testing a vaccine in human beings that actually seems to kind of sort of work a little.

Like all the vaccines under investigation, it goes by a lot of different names. The Thai vaccine, because of where it first showed promise, also known as RV144 And, in a way, its history is a mix of classical and hypothesis-driven vaccinology. Researchers noticed that long-term nonprogressers have what are called cellular responses that control the disease. So it’d be good to try to induce those, went the thinking.

Researchers also knew that infusions of a particular kind of antibody prevented infection from an engineered, laboratory-built simian-human immunodeficiency virus … and that antibodies and T-cell responses could protect monkeys against infection from both S-HIV and simian immunodeficiency virus. Oh, and they had a Phase III trial of a vaccine made from the HIV glycoprotein gp120 that didn’t work, but it did hint at all sorts of immunological characteristics that might.

So RV144 mixed all that in a pot—combining four injections of a recombinant canarypox vector vaccine with two booster injections of the gp120 vaccine. In 2009, public health workers from the Thai Ministry of Public Health, Thai universities, NIAID, the US military, and lots of other places reported that RV144 showed an efficacy of 31.2 percent. That is to say, about a third fewer people in the test group got infected than the control group.

That seems like not a lot. It’s also better than any other HIV vaccine has ever done. And a new formulation of it is being tested in more than 5,000 people in South Africa.

Another study getting underway uses an adenovirus as a vector, and genes from several variants of HIV—a so-called mosaic—and a booster with a different combination of ingredients, or another envelope protein from HIV called gp140. Or both. It showed some protection in monkeys and people.

And yet a third study is taking an approach that would not have been possible in the days of classical vaccinology. Those researchers are working from the knowledge that a class of immune cell called a broadly neutralizing antibody can prevent infection with a major strain of HIV. Specifically the researchers are using an antibody developed at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center, called VRC01, infusing it directly into men and transgender people who have sex with men to see if it provides protection. And as the name implies, it’s only the first of many potential antibodies—a “proof of concept,” says Warren of AVAC.

All those years of immunology research have given scientists the ability to more quickly understand all sorts of outcomes. Today’s would-be vaccine-makers have a whole new set of tools that let them take results from small test groups and re-engineer formulations almost on the fly. “It’s called de-risking,” Corey says. “You can put in all this engineering. It’s complicated, but it’s not a biological concept.”

Indeed, 30 years of work has transformed immunology as a whole. It’s starting to look like product development again. “We have incredible, high-resolution tools, down to the molecular level in terms of understanding antibodies and the surface of the virus to know whether we’re achieving the kind of immune response that we’re targeting,” says Mark Feinberg, president and CEO of IAVI. He says that as early as the Phase I trials designed only to test the general safety of a new drug, vaccine researchers can now get a sense of whether they’re on the right track.

Fauci, meanwhile, still says a vaccine is coming—though perhaps in combination with antiretrovirals, circumcision, prophylactic drugs, and antibody infusions, it doesn’t have to be 100 percent effective to stop the epidemic, even in the developing world. “We would settle for a 55, 60 percent effective vaccine,” he says.

Not everyone buys all this. “They’re doing various gradations of RV144—an extra booster, a different adjuvant,” Levy says. “And we don’t even know if RV144 can be reproduced.” His frustration is palpable. “You’re talking to someone who has been complaining about this for a long time. You get locked into one program and put all your resources into that, so anything innovative has to tie into that one direction.”

Like energy from nuclear fusion, an HIV vaccine is always 10 years away and always has been. But all these new directions and new studies have stirred excitement among people who have been working on vaccines for years. Again. “I would argue 2018 is the most optimistic we’ve ever been,” Warren says.

Meanwhile, someone is, finally, trying to develop a killed-virus HIV vaccine that looks, on its face, a lot like what Dorman is advocating. Chil-Yong Kang, a virologist at the University of Western Ontario, got one as far as Phase I—a test of basic safety. And a little bit more.

It wasn’t easy. First of all, Kang says, HIV isn’t easy to grow in culture, and regulators don’t like the idea of someone having a big tank of HIV. Then, once he had the virus, Kang had another obstacle: the Food and Drug Administration. “FDA says, if there is a single live virus in the vaccine, it’s one too many, right?” Kang says. As a condition of the trial, the FDA told Kang he had to show complete, total, utter killing.

So Kang killed the hell out of it. His group first genetically engineered the virus so that it couldn’t infect cells anymore but could still replicate. Then they poured on a chemical called Aldrithiol-2, a standard virus killer. And then they exposed the poisoned, mutant virus to gamma radiation to break all its genes.

When Kang went back to the FDA with his irradiated, poisoned, mutant virus, “the FDA suggested we should use HIV-positive individuals, because the main objective of a human Phase I clinical trial is safety,” he says. “So we did that.”

The study, published in 2016, looked at just 33 volunteers; of the group who actually got the vaccine, all seemed to tolerate it well. “As a side result, we could also look at immune responses,” Kang says. “If the vaccine worked properly, it should also stimulate antibody production, and that’s what we saw.” People who got the vaccine had boosted immune responses, and an increased level of the broadly neutralizing antibodies HIV researchers are so optimistic about.

Kang says he’s hoping to run Phase II trials this year—one to maximize immune responses by varying the amount of antigen and the frequency of immunization, and then, he hopes, another using HIV-negative people. (Kang’s funding comes from various federal agencies in the US and Canada and from a biotech called Sumagen.)

Dorman remains skeptical, even of this approach. “I’ve tried to explain to Dr. Kang what I thought were issues that perhaps he didn’t appreciate yet,” Dorman says. “He picked a strain of the virus because it was convenient, and a cell system that was convenient. He did a cloning procedure because he had reasons to think it might be useful. The odds that what he has gone to the clinic with will be protective are not great. That’s not a criticism of him. It’s simply an acknowledgement that we don’t know how to make these choices, and there are a lot of them to make.”

But, I say, isn’t Kang’s work at least a sign of receptiveness to your ideas? You said nobody would fund a classical approach, but here it is.

“My concern is, if and when it is shown to fail, it will discredit the concept even further. And I said that to him. Of course, that doesn’t stop him,” Dorman answers.

He got published, I say. He got funding from government agencies in two countries, and a pharma company.

Dorman insists he’s rooting for Kang, but a lot of people get funding and get published with early-stage HIV vaccines. “You can’t think your way to a vaccine. You have to experiment your way,” he says. “And that is an idea that the Tony Faucis of the world have never digested. Is that a criticism? No. They’re in a different business, and their business does a tremendous amount of good. But it doesn’t get a vaccine in short order.”

Science—the set of methods, not the institution—remains the best way humans have developed for apprehending the world. By extension, it’s also the way humans learn to change that world, to build something new.

But that doesn’t mean science and scientists are always right. Those methods are iterative; the idea is to get more right, or understand where you were wrong.

Science—the institution, not the set of methods—is made of people doing the hard work of apprehending the world and trying to change it. But those people are just as subject to social forces as any other group of humans. They are vulnerable to bias, blind spots, and groupthink. That’s not an excuse to stop believing in scientific conclusions. (Vaccines prevent disease. Life on Earth develops and continues to change through a process of evolution. Human industrial emission of carbon into the atmosphere is altering the planetary ecosystem.) It just means scientists aren’t always right.

They certainly haven’t been right about an AIDS vaccine. “We’re 30 years in and we don’t have anything. RV144, that’s it,” Levy says. “Burt has tried to get independent funding, and I think he still could, but it has to be from some pretty forward-thinking philanthropists, because you’re not going to get it from a foundation and you’re not going to get it from the government.”

Dorman thinks that the vaccine community’s resistance to classical vaccinology is an example of bias, of cleaving to a set of ideas in the absence of evidence for them. “Until fairly recently, expert opinion held that the earth was flat! Erroneous ideas sometimes are difficult to dislodge, as has been noted by many observers including Leo Tolstoy and Upton Sinclair,” he writes me in an email timestamped at 3:05 am the morning after I asked him about Kang’s research. To the email Dorman attached a PDF with quotes from Tolstoy and Sinclair. The Tolstoy was in the original Russian, with a translation.

I’d suggest that the problem here isn’t bias so much as what the philosopher Thomas Kuhn called a paradigm. Scientists establish paradigms, Kuhn wrote in a book called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and those sets of ideas inform and guide research until another paradigm overturns them. Those paradigm shifts are hard to predict, nearly impossible to engineer, and, when they happen, tectonic. (In some cases, literally—it took decades for geologists to accept the idea of plate tectonics.)

The dominant paradigm moved away from Burt Dorman 35 years ago. That dominant paradigm has not produced a vaccine. The fact that Dorman has never gotten to try his approach is certainly a missed opportunity. And, perhaps, a tragedy.

1 UPDATE 6/1/18 10:45 AM Corrected first name

More Great WIRED Stories

How Microsoft, Nabisco, and GM Make Customers Happier by Raising Prices

Business owners often worry that if they raise their prices, they’ll lose customers and understandably so, since customers are likely to feel gouged when told they must pay more money for the exact same product.

This puts business owners in a dilemma. If you can’t raise prices, your profit goes down ever time your costs-of-goods goes up. And even if cost-of-goods is the same, you’re losing profit if you’re not getting the highest price possible for whatever you’re selling.

Most companies are really bad at raising prices. Typically, they attempt to explain the rise in price as that’s regrettably necessary but outside their control. Like this:

“Due to economic conditions, we are forced to raise our prices. We are sorry for any inconvenience that this might cause.”

Such excuses don’t just sound hangdog, they’re also only effective if the customer trusts you when you imply that raising prices is the only possible way for your firm to adapt to “economic conditions” (or whatever excuse you’re using).

Smart companies never apologize for raising prices. Instead, they reposition the increase as a customer benefit. Their goal isn’t to get the customer to say “I forgive you for raising prices” but instead to say “Wow! Thanks for raising your price!”

Sound impossible? Well, here are five way that the big guys pull off this neat trick:

1. Replace outright purchase with a subscription.

A very old sales trick is to make a large price sound smaller by stating much it costs per day. For example: “Yes, $700 sounds like a lot of money but that’s less $2 a day for a year… about the price of a cup of coffee. And you’ll be using this product for a decade!”

Subscription pricing builds that basic idea.  The customer sees “$9.95 a month” for a product that used to cost $250. The customer thinks: “Wow! That’s a real bargain. Thanks for dropping your price!” In fact, the customer  ends up paying more in the long run.

Take Microsoft Office, for instance. It once cost as much $800 for a single license. Today, you can get a license (for use on multiple machines) for a seemingly measly $10 a month…with free updates. Great deal, eh?

Well, maybe not. Office hasn’t really changed for the past 10 years, except for becoming more confusing through feature-creep. If you pay $10 a month for 10 years, you’ve just paid $1,200 for an $800 product. Few customers do the math, evidently.

2. Lower your base price but raise the price of a common option.

This is the general case of the specific method Burger King uses to get people to pay $.50 for a slice of cheese that costs less than $.15. 

To recap, Burger King charges $.50 extra for a piece of cheese–a price that’s not listed anywhere. The charge is added after the customers says “Yes” to what seems like helpful customer service: “Do you want cheese with that?”

This works for other types of products as well. For example, a software company might lower the price of a user license but increase the price of the service contract. Ideally, they’d make the price increase less visible changing subscription window, like from “$1,000 a year” to “$25 a week.” 

The trick to this strategy is to publicize the drop in price not the increased charge. The airlines bungled this when they added baggage fees. They positioned it as an add-on fee, with an apology about “gas prices going up.” Dumb.

A better approach would have been to announce a discount for people who don’t check baggage. That way, flyers might have felt grateful to the airlines for giving them a better deal if they pack light and haul their own overhead bags.

3. Bundle multiple options into a single price.

The idea here is that you reduce the customer’s burden of decision-making (a good thing) by bundling options into packages, which are priced with a higher profit margin than would be possible if you charged for them separately.

The automobile industry uses this method to increase the margins on car sales. Customers can order a base model but with upgrade packages that have a couple features most customer want along with some “meh” options they end up paying for anyway.

As with all of these methods, the trick is publicizing the lower price and positioning the packaged options as a convenience and benefit (e.g. “the ultra sport package”) rather than a way to sell some high margin options that most people don’t really want.

4. Offer to finance the purchase.

In this case, a large chunk of extra profit comes from the finance fees and loan interest rather than from the sale of the product itself. You position the ability to get on-the-spot financing as a convenience rather than a profitability bump. 

Again, automobile dealerships do this all the time. For example, when I bought a Honda recently, the dealership gave me a very competitive price on the car, but then handed me over to a very senior salesperson when it came to the financing, clearing hoping to sell me the loan as an add-on. (I self-financed, so she was disappointed.)

I’ve also seen this kind of financing offered for large computer hardware purchases or indeed for any big ticket B2B product. Of course, such sales usually involve buyers who are more sophisticated than your average consumer and probably understand that the financing is an “add-on” rather than a service.

But consumers, not so much.

5. Reframe smaller packaging as a larger value.

This is the go-to “please the customer” price increase for the food industry. They decrease both the price and the amount of product so that you get even less product for a lower price. They then advertise the new size as superior to the old packaging, even though the consumer is paying more.

For example, a company might reduce the amount of product in a standard package from 16 oz to 14 oz and change the labeling to claim it’s “healthier” (because it has less calories), “extra-portable” (because the package is smaller), or “more eco-friendly” (because it uses 2% less paper.

Products cited in the New York Times as executing this strategy include Chicken of the Sea, Doritos, Tostitos, Fritos, Nabisco Premium saltines, and Honey Maid graham crackers. 

As with the other price-increase strategies, the emphasis is always upon creating the perception of a better value so that the customer embraces the price increase, usually without even realizing that they’re paying more.

It need hardly be said that ALL of these strategies are excellent illustrations (as if we needed them, given the state of the country) that “nobody ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”

Second-Order Benefits Of Full Stack Experimentation

Full Stack Experimentation has variety of potential second-order benefits that could impact the culture, communication patterns, and institutional memory of a company. While using experimentation can create a fast cycle of improvement for products and services, these second order benefits can actually change how a company does business.

These ideas, which had been percolating for a while, crystalized as I participated in a panel on May 15, 2018 organized by Split Software hosted at the Data Dog headquarters in the New York Times building. Trevor Stuart, co-founder and chief product officer of Split, moderated and Gabrielle Gianelli, Engineering Manager at Etsy, Brian Crofts, Chief Product Officer at Pendo and Ilan Rabinovitch, VP, Product at Datadog joined me on the panel.

In my past coverage of full stack experimentation I’ve focused mostly on the experimentation process itself (see “How Full-Stack Experimentation Enables Google-Speed Product Development”), although I had speculated that product market should be improved by experimentation (“Can A/B Testing and Full Stack Experimentation Inform Product Marketing?”).

Systematic Learning from Mistakes: All of the panelists agreed that one of the tough lessons learned when companies start a program of full stack experimentation was that most experiments fail to achieve a positive impact on the product in question. Many indeed have a negative impact. But, it occurred to me that the many failed experiments need not be wasted effort of the proper care was taken to analyze why they failed and what that said about both the product and the user segments involved. This sort of learning takes place informally as people running experiments analyze the results. The challenge is to take that to a higher level and start asking what do all the failures and successes say about the product and the users. When he speaks about the statistical approaches made popular in the book Moneyball, Paul DePodesta, the assistant general manager of the Oakland As, recommends that people keep a diary as they attempt to apply analytics. By doing just that about experiments, it is possible to use full stack experimentation to create a rich institutional memory that allows better experiments to be crafted, obvious mistakes to be avoided, and a more sophisticated understanding of users to spread throughout the organization.

Improved Cross-silo Communication: When full stack experimentation becomes wide spread, it acts as a forcing function for communication between groups that normally do not talk to each other enough. The product managers, product marketers, and others who come up with the experiments must work closely with the engineering team to implement the experiments. In this interaction, a better understanding of what sort of features are easy, and which are difficult is transferred from the engineering team to the product team. In addition, more of the subtle details of how the product is implemented is also transferred. This deeper understanding provides the product team with a better sense of the world of the possible so that impossible to implement features are avoided. In addition, the engineering team learns to think more like a product manager and understand the tradeoffs that must be made and how huge lists of potential features are grouped and prioritized. This mutual intimacy serves to improve collaboration and make for better experiments.

The Best Ideas Win: The Highest Paid Person’s Opinion (HiPPO) often holds sway in many companies in the absence of data. When fulls stack experimentation becomes widespread the successes are few and far between. This is humbling to just about everyone. It quickly becomes clear that if all ideas are likely to suck, it doesn’t really matter if they came from a senior executive. More people start to speak up. It pays to listen to everyone. The important thing is to run as many experiments as fast as possible and let the data tell you which ideas are truly great. In this way, full stack experimentation is a great leveler.

It was clear from the panel that every company goes through its own journey when adopting full stack experimentation. But by focusing on second order effects not just the results of experiments, the impact can be even larger.

Metastable Helium Is Changing The Way Scientists Look At Exoplanets [Infographic]

, Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Knader10 Designs

Metastable Helium formation

</div> </div>

<p><strong>To learn more please visit the WASP planets <a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:" rel="nofollow">website.</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Go <a href="" target="_self">here</a> to learn more about WASP-107b and helium detection.</strong></p>” readability=”35.8242473556″>

Recently, a team of scientists was able to detect metastable helium in the upper atmosphere of an exoplanet. This was quite an accomplishment considering it had never been done before. The formation of metastable helium in large amounts on exoplanets was theorized a long time ago but up until now, it had never actually been detected. This discovery marks a milestone in the study of exoplanet atmospheres as it will enable scientists to study planets that are much further away than the ones we are currently looking at.

Metastable helium was detected on a planet called WASP-107b. This planet has a large amount of helium in its atmosphere. So much in fact that it has been estimated that it stretches out tens of thousands of miles into space. The helium in the upper atmosphere is being bombarded with high-energy radiation from the host star’s chromosphere. That radiation ionizes the helium by knocking out one of the two electrons in each atom. These helium ions then combine with free electrons in the planet’s atmosphere and often the new electron gets stuck in a high energy state. Having an electron stuck in this state is what makes a helium atom a metastable helium atom.

Getting an electron stuck in this state is related to a property that electrons have that is known as spin. If two electrons have their spin aligned then they cannot be at the same energy level. So when these helium ions pick up new electrons from the atmosphere they get stuck at a high energy level because the old electron is at a low level and the atoms will often pick up electrons with the same spin.

This creates the longest-lived excited state of any atom as the electron stays excited for about 2.2 hours on average. That is a long time considering that normally electrons de-excite in nanoseconds.

While in this excited state the electron can absorb a photon of infrared light and when it does it jumps to a slightly higher energy level. Afterward, it falls back down to the metastable state after a few nanoseconds. Once it does it can absorb another photon. This process goes on and on for the 2.2 hours that the atom is in the metastable state and then the atom falls back down to the regular ground helium state. Scientists are able to study this phenomenon by observing infrared light absorption.

Knader10 Designs

Metastable Helium formation

To learn more please visit the WASP planets website.

Go here to learn more about WASP-107b and helium detection.

What's Being Done To Help America Sleep?

Why is it so hard for us to get a good night’s sleep? And is there anything new being done about a health issue that the American Sleep Association (ASA) contends affects up to 70 million American adults?


Everyone agrees there’s a problem. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says insomnia is the most common sleep problem in adults age 60 and older. The ASA says deep sleep is important for memory consolidation, yet as human beings enter into middle age, the quantity of deep (or slow wave) sleep they achieve is known to decrease significantly.

If you suffer from them, you know. Sleep troubles can be brutal. They can last for days, months and even years; and they can mean a lot more than just having trouble falling asleep. They can mean you: take a long time to fall asleep, wake up many times in the night, wake up early and are unable to get back to sleep, wake up tired, and feel sleepy during the day. The NIH just confirms what the sleep-deprived already know: Often, “being unable to sleep becomes a habit. Some people worry about not sleeping even before they get into bed.” This too may exacerbate an already exhausting situation and make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

So sleep seekers try reading, meditation and prayer, darkening their rooms, and even weighted blankets. Before they know it they’re wondering bleary-eyed along the sleep aid aisle in their local pharmacy or department store for over-the-counter medications. Some finally resort to calling the doctor and stepping up their medication game to a prescription sleep aid or better yet: scheduling a sleep study.

Many people desperate for better sleep think that the method and the outcome of a sleep study are pretty straightforward—and limited. Either they have sleep apnea, and are thus prescribed a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) system—the leading therapy for sleep apnea—to keep them breathing during sleep, or they don’t have sleep apnea, and, well, it’s start over with the list above.

But while there are still tens of thousands of people seeking better sleep in the United States, there are also many physicians and scientists trying to help them. And they’re getting better at it all the time.

There’s information on yoga and music and meditation. There are over-the-counter pills, therapeutic oils and gadgets you stick to your nose. There are studies on causes and effects and drugs. The National Sleep Foundation even offers information on mouth exercises to help you breath better and thus sleep better at night:

  • Push the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth and slide the tongue backward. Repeat 20 times.
  • Suck your tongue upward so that the entire tongue lies against the roof of your mouth. Repeat 20 times.
  • Force the back of your tongue downward against the floor of your mouth while keeping the tip of your tongue in contact with your bottom front teeth.

In scientific circles, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recently compiled a list of the 10 most-viewed sleep research papers published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM) in the last year. That is, articles that captured the attention of the scientific and medical communities, as well as the media and the general public. These are the papers on the JCSM website—published by AASM—that received the most pageviews. They include information on what is being done and who is doing it.

They included:

  • Guidelines for physicians for evidence-based analyses of sleep aids.
  • Guidelines and recommendations for diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea in adults.
  • Study results on the actual melatonin content of natural health products and supplements versus what is often listed on labels.
  • A new position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) on beginning the school day at 8:30 a.m. or later for middle school and high school students.
  • The first study to link binge-watching in young adults with poorer sleep quality, more fatigue and increased insomnia.
  • Updates to the AASM Scoring Manual for Scoring of Sleep and Associated Events.
  • The AASM’s position statement on the use of Home Sleep Apnea Tests (HSAT). These devices are diagnostic medical tools that help physicians provide high quality, sleep tests at home for select adult patients.
  • Information on the possibility of stronger levels of recommendations by the AASM regarding sedative-hypnotic drug use in the management of chronic insomnia.
  • Advice for the field of sleep medicine, including challenges and necessary changes and advances in sleep medicine.
  • The AASM’s Sleep and Transportation Safety Awareness Task Force response to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and request for public comments regarding the evaluation of safety-sensitive personnel for moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

The Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital in Columbia, Maryland recently posted what the organization sees for the future of sleep clinical care and research, even calling this future “revolutionary.”

Father's Day 2018 Gift Guide, By Personality Type

, The worldview from Los Angeles Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Up front: To Boot New York’s Belmont high tops (right) elevate the classic look with Italian suede

</div> </div> <p>High tops don’t get much more fashionable than <a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:" rel="nofollow">The Belmont</a> by To Boot New York. Designer Adam Derrick upgrades the casual classic with Italian calf suede and padding at the ankle for a look that’s modern and elegant at picnics or premieres. Comes in natural grey and blue. $398.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>The Midnight Watch Man</strong></p> <strong> </strong> <p><strong></strong></p>


Think of WatchGang as Netflix for timepieces

</div> </div>

<p>LA-based <a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:" rel="nofollow">Watch Gang</a> is a Netflix-for-timepieces type subscription service with various levels from $29 to $299 a month that will send dad a for-keeps watch from both well-known and independent brands to build up his collection. Fans of the club include Jamie Foxx and Jeremy Piven. Each watch is valued significantly higher than the monthly subscription fee, and includes weekly giveaway offers, with a Tag Heuer every Tuesday and Rolex every Friday.</p> <p><strong>The Single (Track) Dad</strong></p> <strong> </strong> <p><strong></strong></p>” readability=”25.5928411633″>

Father’s Day gift guides tend to fixate on whiskey, hot sauce and maybe something for the office desk. So boring, right? Here are some distinctive products I noticed this year that dad will truly appreciate on Sunday, June 19. Because, come on, isn’t the father in your life worth more than just a jokey card about his dad bod? Here are some suggestions based on personality type:

The Chic-er Sneaker Guy


Up front: To Boot New York’s Belmont high tops (right) elevate the classic look with Italian suede

High tops don’t get much more fashionable than The Belmont by To Boot New York. Designer Adam Derrick upgrades the casual classic with Italian calf suede and padding at the ankle for a look that’s modern and elegant at picnics or premieres. Comes in natural grey and blue. $398.

The Midnight Watch Man


Think of WatchGang as Netflix for timepieces

LA-based Watch Gang is a Netflix-for-timepieces type subscription service with various levels from $29 to $299 a month that will send dad a for-keeps watch from both well-known and independent brands to build up his collection. Fans of the club include Jamie Foxx and Jeremy Piven. Each watch is valued significantly higher than the monthly subscription fee, and includes weekly giveaway offers, with a Tag Heuer every Tuesday and Rolex every Friday.

The Single (Track) Dad

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Gen Z Graduates Into A New World Of Work, Here Is Why You Should Care

, I research & write on longevity, generational trends & innovation. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 11: Media producer Oprah Winfrey addresses The USC Annenberg School For Communication And Journalism Celebrates Commencement at The Shrine Auditorium on May 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

</div> </div> <p>Generation Z, the leading edge of young people born after 1997, are now 21 years old. Many of them are graduating from college and listening to the well wishes and advice of graduation speakers. After the microphones are silenced and the last diploma is awarded, Gen Z will enter the workforce.</p> <p>Today’s workplace is undergoing an unprecedented rate of change placing new demands on workers of all ages. A new <em>high velocity workplace</em> is emerging – a world of work characterized by the rapid development of new knowledge, an accelerating rate of industry disruption and advancing technology.</p> <p>Graduation speakers are asking students <em>to be daring</em>, <em>to hone personal resilience</em> and more. My personal favorite is a <a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:" rel="nofollow">speech</a>, a mixture of practical and aspirational guidance, delivered by Oprah Winfrey to University of Southern California graduates. She advised the class of 2018 to “eat breakfast…make your bed…recycle…pay your bills on time…and to aim high.”</p> <p> </p> <p>But, in the <a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:" rel="nofollow">words</a> of another Baby Boomer, Billy Joel, not from a podium, but in song, sometimes “just surviving is a noble fight.”</p> <p>Surviving <em>and thriving</em> in the emerging high velocity workplace will require Gen Z graduates to confront the new realities of work – realities that are changing the rules of work for all generations. Here are four.</p>

<p><strong>School Is Never Out</strong></p> <p>Sorry graduates. You thought final exams were…well, <em>final</em>. The half-life of education is perhaps shorter than any previous generation perhaps placing&nbsp;Gen Z at a higher risk for professional obsolescence in fewer years than&nbsp;even the Millennials.</p> <p>Buckminster Fuller coined the idea of <a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:" rel="nofollow">knowledge doubling</a> which suggests that knowledge, in a given field or human endeavor, doubles at a predictable, but accelerating rate. Fuller argued that in 1900 human knowledge doubled about every 100 years and by 1950 knowledge doubled every 25 years. A 2006 IBM <a href="" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:" rel="nofollow">study</a> forecasted that human knowledge might be doubling every 11 hours! Today it is widely accepted that knowledge doubles, but at different rates in different fields. Medical education provides a startling example. One researcher projects that by 2020 medical knowledge might double every 73 days.</p>” readability=”50.2899262899″>

LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 11: Media producer Oprah Winfrey addresses The USC Annenberg School For Communication And Journalism Celebrates Commencement at The Shrine Auditorium on May 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

Generation Z, the leading edge of young people born after 1997, are now 21 years old. Many of them are graduating from college and listening to the well wishes and advice of graduation speakers. After the microphones are silenced and the last diploma is awarded, Gen Z will enter the workforce.

Today’s workplace is undergoing an unprecedented rate of change placing new demands on workers of all ages. A new high velocity workplace is emerging – a world of work characterized by the rapid development of new knowledge, an accelerating rate of industry disruption and advancing technology.

Graduation speakers are asking students to be daring, to hone personal resilience and more. My personal favorite is a speech, a mixture of practical and aspirational guidance, delivered by Oprah Winfrey to University of Southern California graduates. She advised the class of 2018 to “eat breakfast…make your bed…recycle…pay your bills on time…and to aim high.”

But, in the words of another Baby Boomer, Billy Joel, not from a podium, but in song, sometimes “just surviving is a noble fight.”

Surviving and thriving in the emerging high velocity workplace will require Gen Z graduates to confront the new realities of work – realities that are changing the rules of work for all generations. Here are four.

School Is Never Out

Sorry graduates. You thought final exams were…well, final. The half-life of education is perhaps shorter than any previous generation perhaps placing Gen Z at a higher risk for professional obsolescence in fewer years than even the Millennials.

Buckminster Fuller coined the idea of knowledge doubling which suggests that knowledge, in a given field or human endeavor, doubles at a predictable, but accelerating rate. Fuller argued that in 1900 human knowledge doubled about every 100 years and by 1950 knowledge doubled every 25 years. A 2006 IBM study forecasted that human knowledge might be doubling every 11 hours! Today it is widely accepted that knowledge doubles, but at different rates in different fields. Medical education provides a startling example. One researcher projects that by 2020 medical knowledge might double every 73 days.

Page 1 / 3

Tesla seeks to dismiss securities fraud lawsuit: U.S. court document

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Tesla Inc on Friday asked a court to dismiss a securities fraud lawsuit by shareholders who said the electric vehicle maker gave false public statements about the progress of producing its new Model 3 sedan.

A Tesla dealership is seen in West Drayton, just outside London, Britain, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

In a filing in federal court in San Francisco, Tesla said that its statements about the challenges the company faced with Model 3 were “frank and in plain language,” including repeated disclosures by Chief Executive Elon Musk of “production hell.”

Tesla did not seek to hide the truth, its motion to dismiss said.

The company says its Model 3 has experienced numerous “bottlenecks” from problems with Tesla’s battery module process at its Nevada Gigafactory to general assembly at its Fremont plant.

Tesla is under pressure to deliver the Model 3 to reap revenue and stem massive spending that has put Tesla’s finances in the red. The ramp of the Model 3, Tesla said in the court filing, was “the first of its kind,” with difficulties likely to crop up after it got underway.

The lawsuit filed last October seeks class action status for shareholders who bought Tesla stock between May 4, 2016 through October 6, 2017, inclusive. It said shareholders bought “artificially inflated” shares because Musk and other executives misled them with their statements.

Tesla made such statements during the lead-up to, and early production of, its Model 3 sedan and failed to disclose that the company was “woefully unprepared” for the vehicle’s production, the lawsuit said.

A hearing is scheduled for August.

The Tesla response chronicled disclosures of production bottlenecks the company faced in its third quarter of 2017 when it fell short of its targets.

Tesla’s statements that its Model 3 production was “on track” in May and August of 2017 – which plaintiffs argue were false – were made before production problems began to surface, Tesla argued.

Tesla said its “good faith belief” in the Model 3 program is reflected in everything it has done: a $4 billion investment, the build-out of its Gigafactory battery factory in Nevada and the high-volume equipment it commissioned.

Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Peter Henderson and Grant McCool

Trump fundraiser launches subpoena blitz in Qatar legal fight- sources

(Reuters) – Lawyers for Elliott Broidy, a top fundraiser for U.S. President Donald Trump, have sent out more than 40 subpoenas to internet service providers, lobbying firms and others in an escalating legal fight against Qatar for allegedly hacking into his emails, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The subpoenas, issued in recent weeks as part of a civil suit filed by Broidy in a Los Angeles federal court in March, come as Qatar and its rivals wage a multi-million dollar battle for influence in Washington over the Trump administration’s policies toward the Gulf region.

The lawsuit accuses Qatar of orchestrating the theft and leaking of Broidy’s emails as retribution for his support of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which along with Egypt and Bahrain levied economic sanctions against Qatar last June.

The emails were distributed to various media outlets, leading to weeks of damaging stories about Broidy.

Nicolas Muzin and his lobbying firm Stonington Strategies LLC are also named as defendants in the case. Both Qatar and Muzin have denied involvement in any hacking.

Broidy is scheduled to file an amended complaint on Thursday to the Los Angeles federal court. His lawyers will expand the list of defendants, adding people suspected of carrying out the hack or disseminating material, a third person with knowledge of the matter said.

One subpoena seen by Reuters asked the recipient to hand over documentation of any communications related to Broidy with more than a dozen lobbying and public relation firms, some of which are registered as foreign agents for Qatar.

Another recipient of a subpoena was Avenue Strategies Global LLC, a lobbying firm founded by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Barry Bennett, according to two sources with knowledge of the subpoena.

Lewandowski had left Avenue Strategies by the time it was hired by the Qatari embassy as a client. Bennett, who was an adviser to the Trump campaign, did not respond to a request for comment.

It was not clear whether the subpoenas would prove effective. One source said he believed most of the lobbying firms would at least initially decline to provide information and contest the matter in court.

Reporting by Nathan Layne and Karen Freifeld in NEW YORK; Editing by Paul Tait

After Meltdown and Spectre, Another Scary Chip Flaw Emerges

At the beginning of the year, everyone was talking about processor vulnerabilities called “Meltdown” and “Spectre” that potentially exposed data in everything from servers and desktops to tablets and smartphones. The flaws, which impacted the chips in many popular devices, allowed hackers to inconspicuously manipulate a common efficiency technique used to speed data processing. As a result, chip manufacturers and software makers scrambled to issue patches and work out the performance sluggishness that came along with blocking the risky optimizations.

At the same time, though, a larger concern was also looming: Spectre and Meltdown represented a whole new class of attack, and researchers anticipated they would eventually discover other, similar flaws. Now, one has arrived.

On Monday, researchers from Microsoft and Google’s Project Zero disclosed a new, related vulnerability known as Speculative Store Bypass Variant 4 (Meltdown and Spectre collectively make up variants 1-3) that impacts Intel, AMD, and ARM processors. If exploited, an attacker could abuse the bug to access data that is meant to be stored out of reach. It particularly could expose certain components often used in web browsing that are meant to be isolated, for example, a JavaScript module that shows ads.

Microsoft says that the risk to users from this bug is “low,” and Intel notes that there is no evidence that the flaw is already being used by hackers. Some systems, particularly browsers, already have some protection against Speculative Store Bypass attacks just from the initial Meltdown and Spectre patches. But as was the case before, chip manufacturers and software developers are now working to release tailored fixes—and SSB raises the same types of performance problems that emerged before.

“We know that new categories of security exploits often follow a predictable lifecycle, which can include new derivatives of the original exploit,” Leslie Culbertson, Intel’s executive vice president and general manager of product assurance and security, wrote in a statement on Monday. She explains that once they are generally available, some SSB protections will be off by default, requiring users to opt into protection. “If enabled, we’ve observed a performance impact of approximately 2 to 8 percent based on overall scores for benchmarks.”

Modern processors use a technique called “speculative execution” to make educated guesses about what data to work with as they complete tasks instead of waiting to have perfect information about what to do. Meltdown, Spectre, and Speculative Store Bypass flaws are all part of a category of “speculative execution side channels” in which attackers can potentially take advantage of flaws in how processors protect data during this speculative processing to grab information that leaks out in various ways. Systems can rein this in through relatively simple software and firmware (lower level coordinating software) patches. But some updates need to be changes to a processor’s “microcode” that tweak the fundamental behavior of how a chip operates, and most software developers will be depending on chip manufacturers to first release microcode updates.

Once companies push all the various types of updates, though, users will decide case by case whether to install them, since bypassing processing efficiencies to neuter potential attacks can also slow systems down. Some Meltdown and Spectre updates caused real problems for businesses and consumers. For SSB—which seems like it may be a less dangerous bug—some users may consider the pros and cons of patching rather than immediately moving forward.

Microsoft says it began researching SSB in November, after Spectre and Meltdown were already being researched, but before the flaws were publicly disclosed in January. In March, Microsoft also began offering a $250,000 reward for information about new variants of “speculative execution” attacks. Google’s Project Zero, Intel, and numerous other security researchers in the industry have all also been working to understand and discover other similar attacks since last year. Given how complicated it is to distribute fixes for these types of flaws, and how much of that process hinges on what manufacturers release, analysts say that the work that went into pushing patches for Meltdown and Spectre will make things a bit more streamlined when addressing the new SSB flaw.

“We all just started digging in and saying ‘that uses speculation, that uses speculation, what could be wrong there?'” says Jon Masters, chief ARM architect at the open source enterprise IT services group Red Hat, which had early access to the SSB research findings as part of industry defense collaboration. “Unfortunately but also fortunately there was a last time this happened, so as a result of Meltdown and Spectre lots of effort was put in to make sure the update process would be easier.”

Researchers also say that more time to investigate this general type of attack means there’s more confidence now that other speculative execution flaws won’t crop up all the time. And observers are relieved that today’s SSB revelation isn’t related to a more dire attack. But the danger in this class of bugs is the sheer number of devices they impact and how persistent they will be over time. Full protection can only come from replacing vulnerable equipment with new devices that contain fundamentally more secure chips. This replacement process will take years, and in the meantime lots of devices will remain exposed to these niche, but potentially effective attacks.

Regretting It Already

Last Sunday, I wrote a fun little something for this platform called “Jerome Powell May Live To Regret These Statements“, in which I flagged a series of comments the newly appointed Fed chair made at an IMF/SNB event earlier this month.

Here, for anyone who missed it, is what Powell said about the likely resilience of emerging markets (EEM) as the Fed normalizes policy:

Monetary stimulus by the Fed and other advanced economies played a relatively limited role in the surge of capital flows to (emerging market economies) in recent years.

There is good reason to think that the normalization of monetary policy in advanced economies should continue to prove manageable for EMEs. Markets should not be surprised by our actions if the economy evolves in line with expectations.

In the first piece linked above, I gently suggested that while rising U.S. rates and the ongoing rally in the dollar (UUP) needn’t necessarily lead to a broad-based unwind in EM, past a certain point it won’t be possible to contend that the only real issues here are a recalcitrant Erdogan in Turkey and a crisis of confidence with regard to the Argentine peso.

In other words, there’s only so long you can lean on the idiosyncratic, country-specific stories excuse when the pain is spilling over to other locales amid a continual rise in U.S. rates and still more dollar strength. Although it’s really only possible to know this in hindsight, often (and this doesn’t just apply to emerging markets) we discover that what we thought were “idiosyncratic” stories were in fact coal mine canaries or, to mix metaphors, the wobbliest dominoes.

As I noted last Sunday, “what you’ve seen recently in the Brazilian real and also in Indonesia is evidence of contagion.” I started talking at length about the Indonesia story weeks ago and around the same time, BofAML’s Michael Hartnett (he’s the guy who told you to sell based on his “perfect” indicator back on January 26, a week before things got dicey), said this about the Brazilian real:

EM FX never lies and a plunge in Brazilian real toward 4 versus US dollar is likely to cause deleveraging and contagion across credit portfolios.

Well, this week, Indonesia hiked rates for the first time since 2014 and Brazil’s central bank eschewed what would have been a 13th consecutive rate cut in an effort to put the brakes on the currency pressure.

Neither effort was effective. In Indonesia’s case, the rupiah plunged to its lowest since October 2015 on Friday:


Have a look at the selloff in bonds (benchmark yields for Indonesia are up some 65 bps this quarter, that would be the largest quarterly jump since late 2016):


In short, the rate hike is not going to be enough. Capital flight is accelerating.

As for Brazil, the “hawkish” decision to forgo another rate cut similarly failed to assuage concerns and worse, it deep-sixed Brazilian equities. The real continued to fall, hitting a two-year low on Friday and I think you’ll agree that what you see in the following chart looks like trouble:


And look, if you’re in the camp that’s predisposed to suggesting none of this matters until it spills over into developed markets, do your friends who hold the popular iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF (EWZ) a favor and don’t feed them that line, ok? Have a heart. Empathize. Because they just had their worst week since the circuit breakers were tripping last May:


When it comes to Brazil there’s probably no need to panic just yet. There’s some electoral uncertainty, but nothing that should justify what you see in the currency.

“BRL is slightly weak but not too devalued. This is not an overshooting,” Goldman’s Alberto Ramos told Bloomberg in an e-mail, adding that this is a reflection of external shocks (think: stronger dollar and rising U.S. rates) that “are common to other EM currencies.”

He did go on to note that we could see 4.00 on the BRL, but that “would require the intensification of global EM FX pressures and more concern about the October election.”

Right. Well when it comes to “the intensification of global EM FX pressures” (i.e., when it comes to the kind of 30,000 foot view), the MSCI EM FX index has fallen for six of the past seven weeks:


It was down every day this week.

The iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF (EMB) has also fallen for six of the last seven weeks:


And how about the iShares JP Morgan EM Local Government Bond UCITS ETF? Well, it’s down handily, has seen some $550 million in outflows this month alone, and as Bloomberg notes, hasn’t seen a net inflow since March:

(Heisenberg, Bloomberg)

Look at the slide in its market cap just over the past two months:


Now, let me take a moment to remind you that I have been persistently warning about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s penchant for pushing a laughably unorthodox “theory” about how higher interest rates cause inflation and currency depreciation. If you follow Turkey, you know all about this. Here’s what I said in the post linked here at the outset:

In case you were under the impression that Erdoğan is going to be inclined to moderating his stance on interest rates (which, in his bizarre version of economics, cause inflation if they’re too high), he is going out of his way to ratchet up the rhetoric and disabuse you of that idea on a daily basis.

Well, do you know what he did this week? He went on Bloomberg TV and all but confirmed that once next month’s election is out of the way, he’s going to effectively commandeer monetary policy. You can watch that interview for yourself here and/or read my longer commentary here, but suffice to say it pushed the beleaguered lira to a fresh all-time low and confirmed everyone’s worst fears about what’s going to happen once he officially consolidates power:


As an amusing aside, if you’re following along on Twitter, you knew that Bloomberg interview was bound to cause trouble:

All of this played out in a week that saw 10Y yields (TLT) in the U.S. hit their highest since 2011 and 30Y yields touch 3.25%.

Oh, and remember how the dollar rally stalled last week? Yeah, well it resumed this week, rising for the fourth week in five:


What you’re seeing here is not only notable, but extremely important for what it says about how the environment is shifting as the Fed normalizes. As I’ve been keen on noting for at least a year, everything became one trade as QE drove everyone down the quality ladder in a relentless hunt for yield and as dovish forward guidance kept rates vol. anchored. That’s now reversing.

How violent that reversal will ultimately be is debatable. Some folks think it wouldn’t be the worst thing to just let emerging markets go. The following excerpts are from the latest by former trader turned Bloomberg columnist Richard Breslow:

These positions can be put to the test without necessarily having negative implications for the broader asset classes. In fact, it may represent a very positive development. A big chunk of these trades weren’t originally done because people were feeling chuffed. They were just desperately searching for yield and following the bidding of the central banks.

But if you’re fascinated by big names, then you might note that Carmen Reinhart is concerned. Here’s what she said this week about emerging markets:

The overall shape they’re in has a lot more cracks now than it did five years ago and certainly at the time of the global financial crisis. It’s both external and internal conditions. This is not gloom-and-doom, but there are a lot of internal and external vulnerabilities now that were not there during the taper tantrum.

And then there was this from El-Erian (via Twitter):

Now look, if what you want to do is pretend as though this is all immaterial for developed market investors, then by all means, but just know that this is one of those scenarios where the old adage about being “entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts” applies. As Heisenberg readers know, I generally despise old adages, but that one is apt here.

This is absolutely material for all investors and the whole point of documenting the spillover from Turkey and Argentina into other locales and charting the decline in various indices and funds is to demonstrate that rising U.S. rates and the stronger dollar are the proximate cause of the problem.

This is all a consequence of the buildup of imbalances in the QE era. It was always a matter of how smoothly the unwind of all the trades that are part and parcel of the global hunt for yield would be and the verdict from emerging markets right now is: “not smoothly”.

Trade accordingly. Or don’t. It’s up to you. But don’t say you don’t have the information you need to make an informed decision.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Elon Musk brings technology charm offensive to Los Angeles tunnel plan

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is bringing his technology charm offensive to an attempt at digging a tunnel beneath part of Los Angeles to test designs for a high-speed subterranean transportation network he envisions for the city.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk smiles at a press conference following the first launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Musk, the Silicon Valley high-tech tycoon best known for his Tesla Inc electric car manufacturer, planned to make a rare personal appearance at a public event in Los Angeles on Thursday night to answer questions from residents about his tunneling plans.

Efforts by Musk’s aptly named underground transit venture, the Boring Company, to win fast-track city approval of the proposed tunnel has drawn a court challenge from two neighborhood organizations.

The venue for his town hall-style meeting is the Leo Baeck Temple, a synagogue in the city’s affluent Bel-Air district, where Musk owns a residence, about 10 miles (16 km) north of the would-be tunnel site.

Plans call for excavating a 2.7-mile (4.4-km) passage below a stretch of the congested Sepulveda Boulevard corridor on the West Side of Los Angeles and the adjacent town of Culver City.

The Los Angeles City Council’s public works committee last month approved Boring’s request to exempt the tunnel from a lengthy environmental impact review that would otherwise be required under state law.

Boring says the tunnel would serve as an experimental proof-of-concept site to demonstrate ideas for a traffic-easing system Musk wants to build to rapidly whisk individual cars and small groups of pedestrians from place to place beneath the surface.

But two neighborhood advocacy groups have filed suit to block the excavation, arguing the project is really intended as the first segment for a much larger tunnel system planned by Musk. They say he is trying to obtain a waiver to evade environmental regulations that forbid piecemeal fast-track permitting of big-scope projects.

Musk launched his foray into public transit after complaining on Twitter in December 2016 that clogged traffic was “driving me nuts,” vowing to “build a boring machine and just start digging.”

The Boring expansion comes as Musk wrestles with production problems for the rollout of the Model 3 sedan at Tesla, his electric car and energy-storage business. He also is chief executive of rocket builder Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, and the profusion of leadership roles has concerned some investors that he is spread too thin.

The West L.A. tunnel is the latest project Boring has undertaken after quietly digging a slightly shorter tunnel underneath tiny neighboring municipality of Hawthorne, where SpaceX and Boring are both headquartered.

Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Cooney

White House Cuts Top Cybersecurity Role as Threats Loom

A little over a month ago, the White House forced out Tom Bossert, its cybersecurity czar. A week later, cybersecurity coordinator Rob Joyce said he would depart as well. And now, rather than replace either, the Trump administration will do without anyone at the helm of its cybersecurity policy. It couldn’t have picked a worse time.

The news that the newly appointed national security adviser John Bolton has decided to phase out the cybersecurity coordinator role was first reported by Politico. In place of a single point person in charge of guiding and shaping US cyber policy, the task will now fall instead to two National Security Council senior directors. The NSC did not respond to a request for comment.

“At a minimum, this decision and the way that it’s being communicated send the wrong signal,” says J. Michael Daniel, who served as cybersecurity coordinator under President Barack Obama and currently heads up the Cyber Threat Alliance nonprofit. “Certainly I think that our adversaries could interpret that as a signal that this administration doesn’t take the issue as seriously, regardless of if that’s actually their intent.”

In fairness, there’s nothing sacred about the cybercoordinator role, specifically. It didn’t exist before the Obama administration, and other corners of the NSC get along fine with a similar leadership structure to what Bolton has imposed. But the nature of cyberthreats, and the broad responsibilities Bossert and Joyce took on, seem particularly in need of centralized command.

“I think it’s probably fair that there’s more policy work to be done right now on cyber than in certain other areas, because it is in a formative stage,” says Joshua Geltzer, former senior director for counterterrorism at the NSC and executive director of Georgetown Law School’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection. “You’re at a point where you’re seeing new sorts of cyberthreats materialize.”

While US intelligence agencies are responsible for responding to those threats specifically, the cyberczar role has been in charge of organizing the political responses to those incidents, such as the March sanctions imposed against Russia for its destructive NotPetya ransomware and other online malfeasance. The position has also spearheaded cybersecurity policy, hardening both federal networks and infrastructure against attacks. It’s a lot of hats—and easier for one person to keep track of them all.

“There’s a reason why you wanted to have a focal point for cybersecurity policy in one position. I think that’s a very valuable thing to have,” says Daniel.

Political leaders have expressed their concerns over the move as well. “It’s frankly mindboggling that the Trump Administration has eliminated the top White House official responsible for a whole-of-government cyber strategy, at a time when the cyber threat to our nation is greater than ever,” says senator Mark Warner (D – Virginia), the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a statement. “Our adversaries are investing heavily in 21st century cyber warfare capabilities, and if we only view national security through a conventional 20th century lens, we’re going to find ourselves unable to respond to increasingly asymmetric cyber threats down the road.”

If anything, the cyberthreats from around the world have only increased. In a Congressional briefing in February, the heads of the NSA, CIA, FBI, and ODNI all testified that Russia would continue its attempts to interfere in US democracy. North Korea unleashed WannaCry ransomware on the world a year ago, and has been continually emboldened online. And with the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, cybersecurity experts warn that the country could once again target its sophisticated cyberattacks at the US.

“If anything, our enemies are only going to do more, not less,” says Daniel.

To face those challenges—as well as those from independent criminal actors—without a coherent cybersecurity policy in place invites unease.

“Big picture, it certainly seems to send a strange message as to how this White House is prioritizing something most of us think the government needs to prioritize more, when it comes to cyberpolicy,” says Geltzer.

The true impact of the move may not become apparent for some time. In response, House Democrats Tuesday introduced a bill that would create a National Office for Cyberspace, with a director confirmed by the Senate. It’s unclear what chance it might have of passing. And for now, either way, fewer capable people will be focused on big-picture cybersecurity issues at the highest level of government than there were before. It’s hard to see how that makes for an improvement.

More Great WIRED Stories

U.S. investigating Cambridge Analytica: New York Times

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department and the FBI are investigating Cambridge Analytica, a now-defunct political data firm embroiled in a scandal over its handling of Facebook Inc user information, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

A person works on a laptop in the empty offices of Cambridge Analytica in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 2, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Prosecutors have sought to question former Cambridge Analytica employees and banks that handled its business, the newspaper said, citing an American official and others familiar with the inquiry,

Cambridge Analytica said earlier this month it was shutting down after losing clients and facing mounting legal fees resulting from reports the company harvested personal data about millions of Facebook users beginning in 2014.

Allegations of the improper use of data for 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by President Donald Trump’s 2016 U.S. election campaign, have prompted multiple investigations in the United States and Europe.

FILE PHOTO: Window cleaners work outside the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London, Britain, March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

The investigation by the Justice Department and FBI appears to focus on the company’s financial dealings and how it acquired and used personal data pulled from Facebook and other sources, the Times said.

Investigators have contacted Facebook, according to the newspaper.

The FBI, the Justice Department and Facebook declined to comment to Reuters. Former officials with Cambridge Analytica was not immediately available to comment.

Cambridge Analytica was created around 2013, initially with a focus on U.S. elections, with $15 million in backing from billionaire Republican donor Robert Mercer and a name chosen by future Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon, the New York Times has reported. Bannon left the White House on August 2017.

Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Peter Cooney

4 Reasons Elon Musk and Grimes Make a Perfect Couple

Early last week, news that Tesla CEO Elon Musk was dating the musician Grimes took the internet by storm—and just hours later, they showed up together at the Met Gala. Some onlookers more focused on the business world might have been a bit puzzled —despite a passionate fanbase, Grimes (whose real name is Claire Boucher) is hardly a household name.

But the two have a lot in common, and even if you don’t care about gossip or music, the relationship offers some insight into one of the greatest technological visionaries of our age. Here’s why.

They Built Their Careers One Step At A Time

Musk’s first company, started after he dropped out of graduate school for physics, was an online city guide called Zip2. Selling Zip2 to Compaq allowed him to build Paypal, whose sale in turn funded Tesla and SpaceX.

Grimes, similarly, expanded her palette bit by bit, starting with the very lo-fi album Geidi Primes, which was so obscure its first release was on cassette—part of a nostalgic revival of the format. That built to the slightly more polished album Visions, then onward towards even bigger things.

They’re The Star of Their Own Show

Though Musk occasionally nods to the huge staff of engineers and execs that have helped him accomplish so much, his public profile is so immense that they mostly stay in the shadows. Grimes is more literally a one-person-band: her early works were recorded in her bedroom and uploaded to MySpace. She has even toured extensively by herself, using electronics to recreate her songs live.

They Come From the Future

Elon and Grimes are both preoccupied (or maybe obsessed) with technology and outer space. According to reports, they connected in part through an obscure joke about artificial intelligence. Boucher’s Geidi Primes album was named after a fictional planet in Frank Herbert’s classic Dune novels, and Musk named SpaceX’s two drone ships in honor of sci-fi novelist Iain M. Banks, arguably Herbert’s most worthy successor. And Grimes’ echoey, electronic sound would fit right in at a dance club on Mars—where Musk wants to build a colony.

They’re Not Afraid to Fail—And Then Talk About It

Musk is notorious for setting goals so ambitious that, even when he falls short, he winds up somewhere pretty cool. Lately, that has gotten him in apparently serious trouble for badly missing production goals for Tesla’s Model 3, which he admits was largely his fault. But the same ambition led to a landmark moment for SpaceX last Friday with the launch and recovery of the Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket—during which it appears Boucher was hanging out in the SpaceX control room.

Grimes seems to be made of similar stuff. In 2014, when fans were disappointed by an early song from the album that was going to follow Visions, Boucher scrapped the work she’d done and took the whole project in a new direction. What she wound up with was 2015’s Art Angels, an album that hewed closer to her offbeat roots while still pushing into pop territory—and won her almost universal acclaim.

It’s unclear how serious the Boucher-Musk pairing is, or where it might be headed (and Musk doesn’t have the best record with relationships). But they’ve got a lot going for them, including, last but not least, Musk’s obvious fondness for offbeat music, from David Bowie to mariachi.

What your provider won’t tell you about cloud security

Everyone loves insider tips. In the case of cloud computing, the tips that matter are mostly about cloud security approaches and technology.

Here are three cloud security tips that your cloud provider won’t want to tell you. But I will.

Tip 1: Cloud security should be decoupled from specific cloud providers

While the cloud-native security services are handy and work well, you limit yourself when your security services come from a single provider.

It’s a multicloud world, and security needs to rise above the cloud providers you use now or in the future. If you use cloud-native security services from each provider, you’ll have security around a single cloud instance, but you won’t get holistic cloud security. That means your security services will be much more complex, which increases cost and the risk of a gap or that a cloud security service will fail.

CEO Stewart Butterfield Wants Slack to Be Google for the Office

Slack is not just a messaging tool anymore–and, for the record, it’s not trying to “kill” email.

Over 8 million users log into Slack every day, according to founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield at The Wall Street Journal‘s Future of Everything festival Tuesday. The company, which also counts 3 million paid users, saw its numbers increase by 33 percent from last September. The company reportedly brings in a revenue of around $300 million–and plans on only getting bigger.

Now five-years-old, Slack is moving beyond being a searchable log for communication. If Google is a giant search engine for the world’s information, Slack wants to be a “Google for the office.” “What Google is doing for the web, we’re trying to structure by channel,” said Butterfield. “Team-first, organization-first approach to messages as opposed to individual first.”

Similar to social media platforms like Google or Facebook, many third parties bring their software onto Slack. The company has about 1,500 apps in its app directory including Google Docs, Github, marketing management tools, and contract development tools. As such, Butterfield said the future of Slack will be one in which work tasks increasingly integrate directly into the platform.

For example, software engineers used to perform a command in the terminal and then go into a messaging system to communicate to the team what they did. But now, an engineer can go to a Slack team channel–where there’s “high degree of visibility and the cost of communication goes down”–and simply write the code for all to see without navigating to a different web page.

Butterfield also described how Slack is the ideal tool, given how productivity has changed over time. In the early days of the internet, you didn’t have to juggle many things at once. A recruiter now, for instance, uses LinkedIn, email, tools for evaluating resumes, and tools for writing more effective job descriptions.

“As individual productivity increases, it’s the handoff between people that gets more complicated,” he said. “The talking to other people is the actual work.” If all of that can happen in one place, the simpler our jobs will be.

While Slack continues to evolve the workplace, Butterfield said there’s one thing the tool isn’t aiming to do: “Our job isn’t to eliminate emails. We don’t get anything out of that. Email is the lowest common denominator of communication–you can guarantee everyone has an email address. Email is going to be around for awhile.”

Indeed–Butterfield admits he still spends up to two hours a day on email.