Raw sprouts at Jimmy John’s linked to another outbreak—at least the 7th

On the 2018 list of “things that are a bad idea to shove in your face,” raw sprouts from Jimmy John’s may be up there—right behind Tide laundry pods.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced late Friday that a multistate outbreak of Salmonella is linked to raw sprouts served at the sandwich chain’s restaurants in Wisconsin and Illinois. While sprouts in general are a well-established source of foodborne illnesses linked to many dozens of outbreaks in recent decades, Friday’s announcement marks at least the seventh time since 2008 that raw sprouts at Jimmy John’s specifically have caused outbreaks.

In response, Jimmy John’s on Friday ordered sprouts off the menu at all 2,727 of its restaurants. The company called the move a “precautionary measure.”

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Aspect Ventures raises $181 million fund

 Aspect Ventures has finalized its second fund. The team led by Jennifer Fonstad and Theresia Gouw has closed $181 million, up from $150 million it raised at its inception three years ago.  An SEC filing last year alerted us that the team was fundraising, but now it’s officially official. Aspect is also adding Melinda Gates and Cisco to its roster of LPs. The team is “looking… Read More

Here’s why the epidemic of malicious ads grew so much worse last year

Last year brought a surge of sketchy online ads to the Internet that tried to trick viewers into installing malicious software. Even credit reporting service Equifax was caught redirecting its website visitors to a fake Flash installer just a few weeks after reports of a data breach affecting as many as 145.5 million US consumers.

Now, researchers have uncovered one of the forces driving that spike-a consortium of 28 fake ad agencies. The consortium displayed an estimated 1 billion ad impressions last year that pushed malicious antivirus software, tech support scams and other fraudulent schemes. By carefully developing relationships with legitimate ad platforms, the ads reached 62 percent of the Internet’s ad-monetized websites on a weekly basis, researchers from security firm Confiant reported in a report published Tuesday. (Confiant has dubbed the consortium “Zirconium.”) The ads were delivered on so-called “forced redirects,” in which a site displaying editorial content or an ad suddenly opened a new page on a different domain.

Confiant CTO Jerome Dangu wrote the following in an email:

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Crunch Report | Netflix is now worth more than $100 billion

Netflix is now worth more than $100 billion, Uber Eats acquires Ando and Rupert Murdoch wants Facebook to pay for the news. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

Net neutrality is bad? 1 million PornHub employees can’t be wrong. Oh, wait.

WASHINGTON, DC—If Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai actually allowed the weight of public comments on the FCC’s proposed changes to network neutrality regulations to sway (or confirm) his position, he seems to have given more credence to the “opinions” of spam-generating software “bots” than actual citizens, researchers have found.

At the Shmoocon information security conference on Saturday, Leah Figueroa, lead data engineer at the data analytics software company Gravwell, presented a detailed analysis of the public comments submitted to the FCC regarding network neutrality. Applying filters to the over 22 million comments submitted to the FCC, Figueroa and her team attempted to identify which comments were submitted by real US citizens—and which were generated by bulk-uploading bots

At the end of September, Figueroa said, she and her team pulled in all of the submitted comments from the FCC site and applied a series of analytical steps to separate “organic” comments—those most likely to have been submitted by actual human beings—from comments submitted by automated systems (“bots”) using faked personal data.

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Video demonstrates the marvel of CRT displays at 380,000 frames per second

We spend a lot of time reading about the differences between display technologies like LCD and OLED, which, like all display technologies, are built to fool our eyes into seeing things that are only simulated, not real, like colors, or realistic movement. But it helps to see it in action.

A video from YouTube channel The Slow Mo Guys (originally reported on by Motherboard) vividly illustrates how CRT, LCD, and OLED displays work by either zooming in very close or by recording in insane frame rates at ultra slow motion.

You’ll still find enthusiasts who insist that it’s all been downhill since CRT monitors and TVs went sunset for most of the market. While this video doesn’t make much of a case for CRT’s relative quality, it does show that they were engineering marvels for their time.

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Trump puts 30% tariff on imported solar cells and modules

On Monday afternoon, the Trump administration released a fact sheet (PDF) detailing new tariffs on imports, including a tariff schedule for solar cells and modules starting at 30 percent.

The solar tariff determination had been tensely anticipated by the US solar industry, with manufacturers arguing that cheap imports from Asia have harmed their businesses. Solar installers, financiers, and sales people, however, argue that cheap imports have created a bigger boom in employment than manufacturing ever could.

The news is likely a blow to the wider solar industry, although it’s not entirely unexpected. Trump has been vocal about his preference for tariffs and has shown little desire to extend a hand out to the solar industry, which is often seen as a competitor with fossil fuels. When the International Trade Commission (ITC) voted in favor of imposing tariffs on solar imports in September, the trade association Solar Energy Industries of America (SEIA) prepared for the worst.

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Making tools gives crows a big food boost

Tool use among animals isn’t common, but it is spread widely across our evolutionary tree. Critters from sea otters to cephalopods have been observed using tools in the wild. In most of these instances, however, the animal is simply using something that’s found in its environment, rather than crafting a tool specifically for a task. Tool crafting has mostly been seen among primates.

Mostly, but not entirely. One major exception is the New Caledonian crow. To extract food from holes and crevices, these birds use twigs or stems that are found in their environment without modification. In other environments, however, they’ll remove branches from plants and carefully strip parts of the plant to leave behind a hooked stick. The behavior takes over a minute, and the crows will typically carry the tool with them when they explore new sites, and they will sometimes store it for future use.

Understanding how this complex behavior came about in crows requires us to understand the evolutionary advantages that might be had from a good tool. A group of researchers, mostly from the University of St. Andrews, has now done just that: the researchers have quantified how tool manufacture influences food harvesting. The results show that the use of bird-crafted tools can increase food extraction by up to 12 times the rate the crows could achieve by using unmodified sticks.

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