Tag Archives: utility

Automation: The Car Company Tycoon Game Windows – Mod DB

Posted: July 3, 2016 at 12:14 pm

This one has been a little more slow and complex to develop than expected, but after a long 3 months (4 really, but one was taken up with our first holiday in 4 years!) B1414 is now live for everyone. This update brings more complete car design aspects, along with car designer scenarios and a much improved user interface. There are also quite a few more new car bodies to base your designs from.

The next few months will be dedicated to some fairly unexciting but very important work, ready for release on Steam. We’ll be making major improvements aimed at making Automation more polished, easier to learn, and all around more professional looking. More improvements to UI and the process of model designing will make it much more logical and simple to design a big range of models based on one particular car. Pop-ups/Tooltips will be added for many thing, and tutorial videos will be done/redone covering every techincal part of the game. We’ll also be aiming to add a bunch of improved multiplayer modes, including Lap Time and Rally Stage Time challenge modes, with the ability to set your scores over the a few days, so you don’t need to all be online together to compete.This update will be the first one to release on Steam, which is an exciting milestone, and will hopefully bring in more sales allowing us to bring further people on to work on car body art and other new content, And after this update is out of the way, it’s finally time to start work on the Tycoon aspect of things!

Car Designer Features & Changes Added Mid Engine Cars Suspension Easy Mode Added Quality Sliders and dependencies for all car designer tabs Adjustable Rim Offsets Added Multilink Suspension Added the first automatic gearboxes Reliability and Environmental Resistance stats Passenger Space and Cargo Space stats Production Units, Costs and Service Costs stats Offroad and Utility stats Rebalanced Sportiness, Tameness, Comfort, Prestige and Safety calculations 9 Car Designer Scenarios Rebalanced material properties Many new part year dependencies Limited Cars to a Maximum of 2 wings, and 2 lips Added tire profile year limitation Base safety will stop progressing 10 years after a body first unlocks Bodies sorted by Year. Newest at the top Revised the Bottoming Out calculations to be less harsh Wings/Lips no longer punch holes in the body shell

Car Designer Fixes Fixed the crash caused by using MPH + dragging the top speed slider to top for high-revving engines (finally!) Fixed the Yaw Rate graph cut off when using mph as a unit for speed Fixed Certain cars not being able to complete a lap Fixed the proper gear delay being used on the test track Fixed Front Longitudinal AWD engine placement issues Fixed the sensitivity of resizing various fixtures, making it more responsive Fixed steamroller bug where wheels would become comically wide New Car Bodies Large 60s Coup 2 Large 70’s Coups Large 90’s Coup Large 60s Sedan Large 00’s Sedan Small 80s Supercar Small 10s Supercar Large 10s Supercar

UI & Sound Completely reworked UI and UI flow Car Design Wizard for the whole car design process All new UI sounds Ambient sounds Added test track soundsNew Car & Engine Manager Temporary changed the Platform/Model game mechanic Many more stats on the three different testing pages Updated graphs Updated test track UI Manual start for car testing on testing page Engine Designer Fixes / Rebalances Reduced power gain when riching up fuel mixture Octane rating in VVL systems uses the lower cam setting Added bypass valve year limitation Fixed the your engine was created in a previous version message bug Fixed bore and stroke having two decimals too few using imperial units Fixed a bug where loading a VVL engine set the wrong lower cam setting Fixed an engine loading bug that caused the block config lua error

General Things Changed MTBF to Reliability for less confusion New scenario scoring system implemented for car designer scenarios Fixed various aerodynamics calculations and exploits Changed all Man Hours to Production Units Added Console can be accessed by pressing tilde (~). Commands are help(), HideBuildings(), ShowBuildings(). Changed to saving screenshots as PNG. If you turn off FXAA, and use the HideBuildings() command, you can take pictures of engines/cars on a transparent back-drop. Useful for taking screenshots of Engines and Cars with no backdrops. Fixed the tutorial video sound cutting off after a minute Thumbnails are now deleted when you delete the model / engine it belongs to Many more little fixes

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Automation: The Car Company Tycoon Game Windows – Mod DB

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Biological warfare – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: June 12, 2016 at 8:25 pm

Biological warfare (BW)also known as germ warfareis the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with the intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war. Biological weapons (often termed “bio-weapons”, “biological threat agents”, or “bio-agents”) are living organisms or replicating entities (viruses, which are not universally considered “alive”) that reproduce or replicate within their host victims. Entomological (insect) warfare is also considered a type of biological weapon. This type of warfare is distinct from nuclear warfare and chemical warfare, which together with biological warfare make up NBC, the military acronym for nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare using weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). None of these are conventional weapons, which are primarily due to their explosive, kinetic, or incendiary potential.

Biological weapons may be employed in various ways to gain a strategic or tactical advantage over the enemy, either by threats or by actual deployments. Like some of the chemical weapons, biological weapons may also be useful as area denial weapons. These agents may be lethal or non-lethal, and may be targeted against a single individual, a group of people, or even an entire population. They may be developed, acquired, stockpiled or deployed by nation states or by non-national groups. In the latter case, or if a nation-state uses it clandestinely, it may also be considered bioterrorism.[1]

There is an overlap between biological warfare and chemical warfare, as the use of toxins produced by living organisms is considered under the provisions of both the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Toxins and psychochemical weapons are often referred to as midspectrum agents. Unlike bioweapons, these midspectrum agents do not reproduce in their host and are typically characterized by shorter incubation periods.[2]

Offensive biological warfare, including mass production, stockpiling and use of biological weapons, was outlawed by the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). The rationale behind this treaty, which has been ratified or acceded to by 170 countries as of April 2013,[3] is to prevent a biological attack which could conceivably result in large numbers of civilian casualties and cause severe disruption to economic and societal infrastructure.[citation needed] Many countries, including signatories of the BWC, currently pursue research into the defense or protection against BW, which is not prohibited by the BWC.

A nation or group that can pose a credible threat of mass casualty has the ability to alter the terms on which other nations or groups interact with it. Biological weapons allow for the potential to create a level of destruction and loss of life far in excess of nuclear, chemical or conventional weapons, relative to their mass and cost of development and storage. Therefore, biological agents may be useful as strategic deterrents in addition to their utility as offensive weapons on the battlefield.[4][5]

As a tactical weapon for military use, a significant problem with a BW attack is that it would take days to be effective, and therefore might not immediately stop an opposing force. Some biological agents (smallpox, pneumonic plague) have the capability of person-to-person transmission via aerosolized respiratory droplets. This feature can be undesirable, as the agent(s) may be transmitted by this mechanism to unintended populations, including neutral or even friendly forces. While containment of BW is less of a concern for certain criminal or terrorist organizations, it remains a significant concern for the military and civilian populations of virtually all nations.

Rudimentary forms of biological warfare have been practiced since antiquity.[6] During the 6th century BC, the Assyrians poisoned enemy wells with a fungus that would render the enemy delirious. In 1346, the bodies of Mongol warriors of the Golden Horde who had died of plague were thrown over the walls of the besieged Crimean city of Kaffa. Specialists disagree over whether this operation may have been responsible for the spread of the Black Death into Europe.[7][8][9][10]

It has been claimed that the British Marines used smallpox in New South Wales in 1789.[11] Historians have long debated inconclusively whether the British Army used smallpox in an episode against Native Americans in 1763.[12]

By 1900 the germ theory and advances in bacteriology brought a new level of sophistication to the techniques for possible use of bio-agents in war. Biological sabotagein the form of anthrax and glanderswas undertaken on behalf of the Imperial German government during World War I (19141918), with indifferent results.[13] The Geneva Protocol of 1925 prohibited the use of chemical weapons and biological weapons.

With the onset of World War II, the Ministry of Supply in the United Kingdom established a BW program at Porton Down, headed by the microbiologist Paul Fildes. The research was championed by Winston Churchill and soon tularemia, anthrax, brucellosis, and botulism toxins had been effectively weaponized. In particular, Gruinard Island in Scotland, during a series of extensive tests was contaminated with anthrax for the next 56 years. Although the UK never offensively used the biological weapons it developed on its own, its program was the first to successfully weaponize a variety of deadly pathogens and bring them into industrial production.[14]

When the USA entered the war, mounting British pressure for the creation of a similar research program for an Allied pooling of resources, led to the creation of a large industrial complex at Fort Detrick, Maryland in 1942 under the direction of George W. Merck.[15] The biological and chemical weapons developed during that period were tested at the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. Soon there were facilities for the mass production of anthrax spores, brucellosis, and botulism toxins, although the war was over before these weapons could be of much operational use.[16]

The most notorious program of the period was run by the secret Imperial Japanese Army Unit 731 during the war, based at Pingfan in Manchuria and commanded by Lieutenant General Shir Ishii. This unit did research on BW, conducted often fatal human experiments on prisoners, and produced biological weapons for combat use.[17] Although the Japanese effort lacked the technological sophistication of the American or British programs, it far outstripped them in its widespread application and indiscriminate brutality. Biological weapons were used against both Chinese soldiers and civilians in several military campaigns.[18] In 1940, the Japanese Army Air Force bombed Ningbo with ceramic bombs full of fleas carrying the bubonic plague.[19] Many of these operations were ineffective due to inefficient delivery systems,[17] although up to 400,000 people may have died.[20] During the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign in 1942, around 1,700 Japanese troops died out of a total 10,000 Japanese soldiers who fell ill with disease when their own biological weapons attack rebounded on their own forces.[21][22]

During the final months of World War II, Japan planned to use plague as a biological weapon against U.S. civilians in San Diego, California, during Operation Cherry Blossoms at Night. The plan was set to launch on 22 September 1945, but it was not executed because of Japan’s surrender on 15 August 1945.[23][24][25][26]

In Britain, the 1950s saw the weaponization of plague, brucellosis, tularemia and later equine encephalomyelitis and vaccinia viruses, but the programme was unilaterally cancelled in 1956. The United States Army Biological Warfare Laboratories weaponized anthrax, tularemia, brucellosis, Q-fever and others.

In 1969, the UK and the Warsaw Pact, separately, introduced proposals to the UN to ban biological weapons, and US President Richard Nixon terminated production of biological weapons, allowing only scientific research for defensive measures. The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention was signed by the US, UK, USSR and other nations, as a ban on “development, production and stockpiling of microbes or their poisonous products except in amounts necessary for protective and peaceful research” in 1972. However, the Soviet Union continued research and production of massive offensive biological weapons in a program called Biopreparat, despite having signed the convention.[27] By 2011, 165 countries had signed the treaty and none are proventhough nine are still suspected[28]to possess offensive BW programs.[28]

It has been argued that rational state actors would never use biological weapons offensively. The argument is that biological weapons cannot be controlled: the weapon could backfire and harm the army on the offensive, perhaps having even worse effects than on the target. An agent like smallpox or other airborne viruses would almost certainly spread worldwide and ultimately infect the user’s home country. However, this argument does not necessarily apply to bacteria. For example, anthrax can easily be controlled and even created in a garden shed; the FBI suspects it can be done for as little as $2,500 using readily available laboratory equipment.[29] Also, using microbial methods, bacteria can be suitably modified to be effective in only a narrow environmental range, the range of the target that distinctly differs from the army on the offensive. Thus only the target might be affected adversely. The weapon may be further used to bog down an advancing army making them more vulnerable to counterattack by the defending force.

Ideal characteristics of a biological agent to be used as a weapon against humans are high infectivity, high virulence, non-availability of vaccines, and availability of an effective and efficient delivery system. Stability of the weaponized agent (ability of the agent to retain its infectivity and virulence after a prolonged period of storage) may also be desirable, particularly for military applications, and the ease of creating one is often considered. Control of the spread of the agent may be another desired characteristic.

The primary difficulty is not the production of the biological agent, as many biological agents used in weapons can often be manufactured relatively quickly, cheaply and easily. Rather, it is the weaponization, storage and delivery in an effective vehicle to a vulnerable target that pose significant problems.

For example, Bacillus anthracis is considered an effective agent for several reasons. First, it forms hardy spores, perfect for dispersal aerosols. Second, this organism is not considered transmissible from person to person, and thus rarely if ever causes secondary infections. A pulmonary anthrax infection starts with ordinary influenza-like symptoms and progresses to a lethal hemorrhagic mediastinitis within 37 days, with a fatality rate that is 90% or higher in untreated patients.[30] Finally, friendly personnel can be protected with suitable antibiotics.

A large-scale attack using anthrax would require the creation of aerosol particles of 1.5 to 5m: larger particles would not reach the lower respiratory tract, while smaller particles would be exhaled back out into the atmosphere. At this size, conductive powders tend to aggregate because of electrostatic charges, hindering dispersion. So the material must be treated to insulate and neutralize the charges. The weaponized agent must be resistant to degradation by rain and ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, while retaining the ability to efficiently infect the human lung. There are other technological difficulties as well, chiefly relating to storage of the weaponized agent.

Agents considered for weaponization, or known to be weaponized, include bacteria such as Bacillus anthracis, Brucella spp., Burkholderia mallei, Burkholderia pseudomallei, Chlamydophila psittaci, Coxiella burnetii, Francisella tularensis, some of the Rickettsiaceae (especially Rickettsia prowazekii and Rickettsia rickettsii), Shigella spp., Vibrio cholerae, and Yersinia pestis. Many viral agents have been studied and/or weaponized, including some of the Bunyaviridae (especially Rift Valley fever virus), Ebolavirus, many of the Flaviviridae (especially Japanese encephalitis virus), Machupo virus, Marburg virus, Variola virus, and Yellow fever virus. Fungal agents that have been studied include Coccidioides spp..[31][32]

Toxins that can be used as weapons include ricin, staphylococcal enterotoxin B, botulinum toxin, saxitoxin, and many mycotoxins. These toxins and the organisms that produce them are sometimes referred to as select agents. In the United States, their possession, use, and transfer are regulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Select Agent Program.

The former US biological warfare program categorized its weaponized anti-personnel bio-agents as either Lethal Agents (Bacillus anthracis, Francisella tularensis, Botulinum toxin) or Incapacitating Agents (Brucella suis, Coxiella burnetii, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, Staphylococcal enterotoxin B).

The United States developed an anti-crop capability during the Cold War that used plant diseases (bioherbicides, or mycoherbicides) for destroying enemy agriculture. Biological weapons also target fisheries as well as water-based vegetation. It was believed that destruction of enemy agriculture on a strategic scale could thwart Sino-Soviet aggression in a general war. Diseases such as wheat blast and rice blast were weaponized in aerial spray tanks and cluster bombs for delivery to enemy watersheds in agricultural regions to initiate epiphytotics (epidemics among plants). When the United States renounced its offensive biological warfare program in 1969 and 1970, the vast majority of its biological arsenal was composed of these plant diseases.[citation needed] Enterotoxins and Mycotoxins were not affected by Nixon’s order.

Though herbicides are chemicals, they are often grouped with biological warfare and chemical warfare because they may work in a similar manner as biotoxins or bioregulators. The Army Biological Laboratory tested each agent and the Army’s Technical Escort Unit was responsible for transport of all chemical, biological, radiological (nuclear) materials. Scorched earth tactics or destroying livestock and farmland were carried out in the Vietnam war (cf. Agent Orange)[33] and Eelam War in Sri Lanka.[citation needed]

Biological warfare can also specifically target plants to destroy crops or defoliate vegetation. The United States and Britain discovered plant growth regulators (i.e., herbicides) during the Second World War, and initiated a herbicidal warfare program that was eventually used in Malaya and Vietnam in counterinsurgency operations.

In 1980s Soviet Ministry of Agriculture had successfully developed variants of foot-and-mouth disease, and rinderpest against cows, African swine fever for pigs, and psittacosis to kill chicken. These agents were prepared to spray them down from tanks attached to airplanes over hundreds of miles. The secret program was code-named “Ecology”.[31]

Attacking animals is another area of biological warfare intended to eliminate animal resources for transportation and food. In the First World War, German agents were arrested attempting to inoculate draft animals with anthrax, and they were believed to be responsible for outbreaks of glanders in horses and mules. The British tainted small feed cakes with anthrax in the Second World War as a potential means of attacking German cattle for food denial, but never employed the weapon. In the 1950s, the United States had a field trial with hog cholera.[citation needed] During the Mau Mau Uprising in 1952, the poisonous latex of the African milk bush was used to kill cattle.[34]

Outside the context of war, humans have deliberately introduced the rabbit disease Myxomatosis, originating in South America, to Australia and Europe, with the intention of reducing the rabbit population which had devastating but temporary results, with wild rabbit populations reduced to a fraction of their former size but survivors developing immunity and increasing again.

Entomological warfare (EW) is a type of biological warfare that uses insects to attack the enemy. The concept has existed for centuries and research and development have continued into the modern era. EW has been used in battle by Japan and several other nations have developed and been accused of using an entomological warfare program. EW may employ insects in a direct attack or as vectors to deliver a biological agent, such as plague. Essentially, EW exists in three varieties. One type of EW involves infecting insects with a pathogen and then dispersing the insects over target areas.[35] The insects then act as a vector, infecting any person or animal they might bite. Another type of EW is a direct insect attack against crops; the insect may not be infected with any pathogen but instead represents a threat to agriculture. The final method uses uninfected insects, such as bees, wasps, etc., to directly attack the enemy.[36]

In 2010 at The Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and Their Destruction in Geneva[37] the sanitary epidemiological reconnaissance was suggested as well-tested means for enhancing the monitoring of infections and parasitic agents, for practical implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005). The aim was to prevent and minimize the consequences of natural outbreaks of dangerous infectious diseases as well as the threat of alleged use of biological weapons against BTWC States Parties.

It is important to note that most classical and modern biological weapons’ pathogens can be obtained from a plant or an animal which is naturally infected.[38]

Indeed, in the largest biological weapons accident known the anthrax outbreak in Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) in the Soviet Union in 1979, sheep became ill with anthrax as far as 200 kilometers from the release point of the organism from a military facility in the southeastern portion of the city and still off limits to visitors today, see Sverdlovsk Anthrax leak).[39]

Thus, a robust surveillance system involving human clinicians and veterinarians may identify a bioweapons attack early in the course of an epidemic, permitting the prophylaxis of disease in the vast majority of people (and/or animals) exposed but not yet ill.

For example, in the case of anthrax, it is likely that by 2436 hours after an attack, some small percentage of individuals (those with compromised immune system or who had received a large dose of the organism due to proximity to the release point) will become ill with classical symptoms and signs (including a virtually unique chest X-ray finding, often recognized by public health officials if they receive timely reports).[40] The incubation period for humans is estimated to be about 11.8 days to 12.1 days. This suggested period is the first model that is independently consistent with data from the largest known human outbreak. These projections refines previous estimates of the distribution of early onset cases after a release and supports a recommended 60-day course of prophylactic antibiotic treatment for individuals exposed to low doses of anthrax.[41] By making these data available to local public health officials in real time, most models of anthrax epidemics indicate that more than 80% of an exposed population can receive antibiotic treatment before becoming symptomatic, and thus avoid the moderately high mortality of the disease.[40]

From most specific to least specific:[42]

1. Single cause of a certain disease caused by an uncommon agent, with lack of an epidemiological explanation.

2. Unusual, rare, genetically engineered strain of an agent.

3. High morbidity and mortality rates in regards to patients with the same or similar symptoms.

4. Unusual presentation of the disease.

5. Unusual geographic or seasonal distribution.

6. Stable endemic disease, but with an unexplained increase in relevance.

7. Rare transmission (aerosols, food, water).

8. No illness presented in people who were/are not exposed to “common ventilation systems (have separate closed ventilation systems) when illness is seen in persons in close proximity who have a common ventilation system.”

9. Different and unexplained diseases coexisting in the same patient without any other explanation.

10. Rare illness that affects a large, disparate population (respiratory disease might suggest the pathogen or agent was inhaled).

11. Illness is unusual for a certain population or age-group in which it takes presence.

12. Unusual trends of death and/or illness in animal populations, previous to or accompanying illness in humans.

13. Many effected reaching out for treatment at the same time.

14. Similar genetic makeup of agents in effected individuals.

15. Simultaneous collections of similar illness in non-contiguous areas, domestic, or foreign.

16. An abundance of cases of unexplained diseases and deaths.

The goal of biodefense is to integrate the sustained efforts of the national and homeland security, medical, public health, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement communities. Health care providers and public health officers are among the first lines of defense. In some countries private, local, and provincial (state) capabilities are being augmented by and coordinated with federal assets, to provide layered defenses against biological weapon attacks. During the first Gulf War the United Nations activated a biological and chemical response team, Task Force Scorpio, to respond to any potential use of weapons of mass destruction on civilians.

The traditional approach toward protecting agriculture, food, and water: focusing on the natural or unintentional introduction of a disease is being strengthened by focused efforts to address current and anticipated future biological weapons threats that may be deliberate, multiple, and repetitive.

The growing threat of biowarfare agents and bioterrorism has led to the development of specific field tools that perform on-the-spot analysis and identification of encountered suspect materials. One such technology, being developed by researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), employs a “sandwich immunoassay”, in which fluorescent dye-labeled antibodies aimed at specific pathogens are attached to silver and gold nanowires.[43]

In the Netherlands, the company TNO has designed Bioaerosol Single Particle Recognition eQuipment (BiosparQ). This system would be implemented into the national response plan for bioweapon attacks in the Netherlands.[44]

Researchers at Ben Gurion University in Israel are developing a different device called the BioPen, essentially a “Lab-in-a-Pen”, which can detect known biological agents in under 20 minutes using an adaptation of the ELISA, a similar widely employed immunological technique, that in this case incorporates fiber optics.[45]

Theoretically, novel approaches in biotechnology, such as synthetic biology could be used in the future to design novel types of biological warfare agents.[46][47][48][49] Special attention has to be laid on future experiments (of concern) that:[50]

Most of the biosecurity concerns in synthetic biology, however, are focused on the role of DNA synthesis and the risk of producing genetic material of lethal viruses (e.g. 1918 Spanish flu, polio) in the lab.[51][52][53] Recently, the CRISPR/Cas system has emerged as a promising technique for gene editing. It was hailed by The Washington Post as “the most important innovation in the synthetic biology space in nearly 30 years.”[54] While other methods take months or years to edit gene sequences, CRISPR speeds that time up to weeks.[54] However, due to its ease of use and accessibility, it has raised a number of ethical concerns, especially surrounding its use in the biohacking space.[54][55][56]

(passim)

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Biological warfare – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Bitcoin Magazine | Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency News

Posted: October 4, 2015 at 4:43 pm

Dutch National Police Set Sights on Blockchain-Based Cloud Services View more How the Hunt for Satoshi Turned Dorian Nakamotos Life Upside Down: the Inside Story View more Bitcoin Used to Pay Utility and Credit Card Bills in the Philippines and Australia View more Building a Risk Market for the Digital Age Using Bitcoin View more WEF Survey Predicts Bitcoin ‘Tipping Point’ Happening By 2027 View more Australian Startups Close Down as Banks End Support for Bitcoin View more Beyond Bitcoin: How the Blockchain Can Power a New Generation of Enterprise Software View more R3 Blockchain Development Initiative Grows to 22 Banks Worldwide View more The Decentralist Perspective, or Why Bitcoin Might Need Small Blocks View more Everything You Need to Know about the Proposed Changes to the Bitcoin Block Size Cap View more Gavin Andresen on the Block Size: Its Hard to Find a Signal above All the Noise View more Bitcoin XT Big Block Fork Spurs Debate and Controversy View more Transaction Remote Release, a Tor-Inspired Proposed Change to Bitcoin Protocol for Anonymous Transactions View more Vaultoro Seeks to Provide a Store of Value to the Underbanked World Using Gold and Bitcoin View more Bank of America Files Patent Application for Cryptocurrency-Mediated Wire Transfers View more Bitcoin Tracker One ETN Offers Liquidity to European Investors View more NeuCoin Launches a New Digital Currency for Online and Mobile Gaming View more Digital Currency Derivatives Exchanges Prepare for Regulation after CFTC Bitcoin Ruling View more Nine Top Global Banks Pool Resources to Fund R3 to Develop Digital Currency Standards View more UBS to Develop Yet Another Permissioned Blockchain for Banks View more Blythe Masters and Wall Street Opt for Permissioned Non-Bitcoin Blockchains View more Nick Szabo on Permissioned Blockchains and the Block Size View more Bitcoin Derivatives Company LedgerX Appoints Ex-CFTC Commissioner Wetjen to Board View more Bitcoin Hardware Wallet KeepKey Launches and Begins Shipping View more Three Bitcoin Finalists Vie for BBVA Open Talent Competition Honors in Barcelona View more Australian Regulators Investigating Banks for Closing Accounts of Bitcoin Companies View more Bank of England Chief Economist: Blockchain-based Digital Currency Issued by Central Banks Could Replace Cash View more Sig3 Launches an Automated Policy-Based Transaction Cosigner for Multisig Bitcoin Transactions View more BitGo Processes Over $1 Billion in Bitcoin Transactions in Third Quarter View more Storj Network Passes 1 Petabyte Storage Space View more Bitcoin and Gold Exchange Vaultoro Reaches $1 Million in Gold Trading Volume View more

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Jitsi, ostel.co and ISP censorship | The Guardian Project

Posted: August 30, 2015 at 7:46 pm

Earlier last week n8fr8 suspected something changed on the ostel.co server, due to many users emailing support specifically about Jitsi connectivity to ostel.co. The common question was why did it work a few weeks ago and now it doesnt anymore?

The tl;dr follows, skip to keyword CONCLUSION to hear only the punch line.

To support n8fr8s hypothesis, there was a small change to the server but I want convinced it effected anything since all my clients continued to work properly, including Jitsi. Obviously something had changed but none of us knew what it was. After some testing we discovered the problem was related to insecure connections from Jitsi to UDP port 5060 on ostel.co. Secure connections (on TCP port 5061) continued to work as expected.

To make matters more confusing, I could register and make calls with two different clients (CSipSimple and Linphone) on the same network (my home ISP, Verizon FiOS) using an insecure connection to ostel.co on UDP port 5060.

At this point I was like WTF?

I went back to the server, diffed all the configs, checked server versions, connected with every client I could find that would run on any of my computers. The only change was a Kamailio upgrade from 4.0.1 to 4.0.2. A minor point release. The problem with Jitsi remained. What could the server be doing to this poor client?

I did a packet trace on the ostel.co servers public network interface, filtered to dump packets only on UDP port 5060 that match my SIP username. I opened Jitsi and things got interesting. For the curious, heres the utility and options I used. If you are new to operating a SIP network, ngrep is an excellent tool for debugging.

ngrep -d eth0 -t -p -W byline foo port 5060

Ill include an excerpt (Ive included only the relevant headers for this issue) of the initial request from Jitsi. IP addresses and usernames have been changed to protect the innocent.

U 2013/07/19 22:17:34.920749 0.0.0.0:5060 -> 66.151.32.200:5060 REGISTER sip:ostel.co SIP/2.0. CSeq: 1 REGISTER. From: “foo” ;tag=1eb3467e. To: “foo” . Via: SIP/2.0/UDP 0.0.0.0:49152;branch=z9hG4bK-393535-2269e43afef0b312554eb419a8d0540e. User-Agent: Jitsi2.3.4752Linux. Contact: “foo” ;expires=600. .

# U 2013/07/19 22:17:34.921155 66.151.32.200:5060 -> 0.0.0.0:5060 SIP/2.0 401 Unauthorized. CSeq: 1 REGISTER. From: foo ;tag=1eb3467e. To: foo ;tag=e01f0de2cdfebbeefc5ff0c8eabbb8b3.2f1f. Via: SIP/2.0/UDP 0.0.0.0:49152;branch=z9hG4bK-393535-2269e43afef0b312554eb419a8d0540e;rport=5060. WWW-Authenticate: Digest realm=ostel.co, nonce=Uen0alHp8z4d6ePDl83RtMwARltAxzQu, qop=auth. Server: kamailio (4.0.2 (x86_64/linux)).

If you read the response, youll see Kamailio sent 401 Unauthorized. This is normal for SIP authentication. A second client request should follow it, which should contain an Authorization header with an md5 and a nonce. When Kamailio receives this request, checks the auth database and sends a 200 OK response, the client is authenticated.

The SIP dialog looks good but Jitsi continues not to register. The dialog flow is cut off after the 401 Unauthorized response. Its almost like something has blocked the response to the client.

Since I could register Linphone using the same account, I did the same trace for that client. Heres the excerpt.

U 2013/07/19 22:33:18.372770 0.0.0.0:42680 -> 66.151.32.200:5060 REGISTER sip:ostel.co SIP/2.0. Via: SIP/2.0/UDP 0.0.0.0:49153;rport;branch=z9hG4bK359459505. From: ;tag=142131416. To: . CSeq: 3 REGISTER. Contact: . User-Agent: LinphoneAndroid/2.1.2-1-g23b7fc0 (eXosip2/3.6.0). .

# U 2013/07/19 22:33:18.373112 66.151.32.200:5060 -> 0.0.0.0:42680 SIP/2.0 401 Unauthorized. Via: SIP/2.0/UDP 0.0.0.0:49153;rport=42680;branch=z9hG4bK359459505. From: ;tag=142131416. To: ;tag=e01f0de2cdfebbeefc5ff0c8eabbb8b3.4065. CSeq: 3 REGISTER. WWW-Authenticate: Digest realm=ostel.co, nonce=Uen4GlHp9u4FwHNY/uE1iQQNCfGHJiob, qop=auth. Server: kamailio (4.0.2 (x86_64/linux)).

This 401 Unauthorized response was received by the client and the follow up request with the Authorization header was sent with the correct digest. Linphone registered. I made a call. Everything worked fine. Indeed WTF?

I stared at these traces for a while to get a clue. Look again at the first line of the request from Jitsi. Youll see a timestamp followed by two IP:port pairs. Notice the port on the first IP is 5060 and the port on the second IP is also 5060. This means that the source port used by Jitsi on my home network is UDP port 5060. In order for a response to come back to Jitsi, it must enter my network on the same port it exited. Now read the top line of the response from Kamailio. Indeed, the server sent the response to UDP port 5060.

Now look at the same flow for Linphone. There is a very different source port in that dialog. In this case, Kamailio sent the response to UDP port 42680 and Linphone received it. Also notice the IP address used by Kamailio as the destination of the response is the same one in the dialog from Jitsi.

The question remained, why cant Jitsi get the same kind of SIP response on UDP port 5060? Why is Jitsi using a single source port for outgoing traffic anyway? That value can be dynamic. I configured Jitsi to use a different port for insecure SIP. It has an advanced configuration for SIP with the key SIP client port. I set this to 5062 (5061 is conventionally used for secure SIP traffic so I incremented by 2) and tried to register again.

SUCCESSSSSSSSSSSS!

To be thorough, I changed Jitsis SIP port again to a 5 digit number I randomly typed on my keyboard without looking.

SUCCESSSSSSSSSSSS!

So if Jitsi can register to Kamailio on any port other than UDP port 5060, WTF is going on? I had a suspicion. I tried one more test before I called it. I configured Jitsi to connect on TCP port 5060. It registered successfully. Now I know whats going on. I have a sad

CONCLUSION

My ISP, Verizon FiOS, has a firewall running somewhere upstream (it could be on the router they provided, I havent checked yet) that blocks incoming UDP traffic to port 5060. This probably falls under their TOS section which forbids running servers since Verizon provides voice services for an additional fee on top of data service, despite both running over the same fiber connection to my house. It seems like Verizon doesnt want their data-only customers to get in the way of that sweet cheddar delivery each month in exchange for phone service.

This sucks on two levels.

LEVEL 1

Why is my ISP censoring my incoming traffic when I have 5 mbps of incoming bandwidth? I assume the answer is because they can. *desolate frowny face*

LEVEL 2

Why doesnt Jitsi use a dynamic source port for SIP requests? I assume the answer is Jitsi is open source, why dont I change this and send a patch upstream?

Both levels are formidable challenges to overcome. Convincing Verizon to play nice on the Internet feels like a vanity project. Im writing that off. To make a change to the SIP stack in Jitsi is well within the area of the GP teams expertise, myself included but its not a trivial undertaking. Since this is a default configuration change there is probably a reason upstream devs made this choice so in addition to the programming work theres the work to convince the developers this would be a change worth a new release.

Since this is specific to Jitsi, Im going to follow up with the developers and see if I missed anything. Stay tuned for part two.

Thanks for listening. Stay safe!

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Global Futurist Jack Uldrich to Discuss Latest Technological Trends with RILA

Posted: February 25, 2015 at 12:40 am

Orlando, FLA (PRWEB) February 24, 2015

Yogi Berra once famously said, The future aint what it used to be. And he was right. In fact, according to trend expert and keynote speaker Jack Uldrich, the future “is going to be downright unusual.” This begs the obvious question: How do organizations prepare for an uncertain and unpredictable future? The answer, says Uldrich,” is that leaders and their organizations must think and act in unorthodox ways.”

Uldrich, who delivered a keynote to executives of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) at the “All Channels. All Challenges. One Conference” last April, will address the group again today, February 24th. He will deliver his keynote: “Business as Unusual: How Future Trends Will Transform the Supply Chain of Tomorrow.” (Some of Uldrich’s other clients in retail and supply management include the Women’s Food Forum, TRUNO, the Food Marketing Institute, GameStop’s Executive Summit, Utility Supply Management Association, and Verizon Wireless.)

An expert in change management and future trends, Uldrich will continue his discussion with RILA on how individuals in retail can enhance their awareness of transformational changes that are coming in retail. Highlights will include how retailers can learn to embrace ambiguity;” why finding a reverse mentor could be crucial; and why taking small risks may very well be the safest thing retailers can do to position themselves for success in the years to come.

With this particular keynote, Uldrich’s goal is to help his audience at RILA unlearn the barriers currently holding them back and unlock new levels of creativity and innovation. He will conclude his keynote by guiding participants through a series of tangible actions that will unleash their ability to create their own future and, in the process, help them achieve uncommon levels of success.

In his blog post, Unlearn…Just in Case, Uldrich says, “the global supply chain is an impressive feat of modern management. The problem is that in its quest to squeeze out ever greater efficiencies with its ‘just-in-time’ system of inventory, it has left itself extremely vulnerable to large, rare and unpredictable black swan events.”

The future “ain’t what it used to be” and Jack Uldrich has his finger on the pulse of what it may be. Parties interested in learning more about Jack, his books, his daily blog or his speaking availability are encouraged to visit his website. Media wishing to know more about either the event or interviewing Jack as a futurist or trend expert can contact Amy Tomczyk at (651) 343.0660.

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Liberty Utilities to build water-recharge plant in Goodyear

Posted: December 1, 2014 at 11:45 am

Water.(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A private water company wants to build a 57-acre water-recharge facility and office complex in Goodyear near Luke Air Force Base and across the street from Litchfield Park.

Liberty Utilities and the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District have partnered to build the state’s first public-private reclaimed-water recharge facility. The groundwater replenishment district will pay for about $6 million of the potential $8 million project, and Liberty will pay the remaining $2 million, said Greg Sorensen, president of Liberty Utilities’ Arizona and Texas divisions.

Liberty Utilities serves more than 17,500 water and wastewater customers in Maricopa County, mostly Goodyear residents who live north of Interstate 10 and Litchfield Park residents.

READ MORE: West Valley cities eyeing reclaimed water amid drought, population growth

The Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District is the groundwater replenishment authority of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District commonly known as the Central Arizona Project.

The project will impact water rates, though by how much isn’t known. Ratepayers will pick up the $2 million cost to Liberty, Sorensen said.

“Anytime we invest money into utility assets, there ultimately will be an impact on rates,” Sorensen said. “But because we are able to work with (the conservation district) and obtain $6 million in funding, that’s $6 million we don’t have to invest in the utility.”

Construction of the project will begin next year and will be completed sometime in mid- to late-2016, depending on permitting, Sorensen said.

The proposed plant, north of Camelback Road between Sun Health and the Falcon Dunes Golf Course, will consist of a 15,000-square-foot office building and potentially six recharge basins built to hold reclaimed water that will percolate into the ground and the aquifer.

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Internet and Human Capability: A Study In Parallel Evolution

Posted: November 7, 2014 at 7:41 am

Evolution is a funny thing. All organic creatures evolve in response to changes in their environment. And then in turn, the environment changes in response to new behaviors from the organisms that inhabit it. The same dynamic applies to the Internet and the people who use it. Innovation begets behavioral change. Behavioral change inspires new innovation.

But what happens when pace of environmental change begins to outpace human change? What happens when the Internet experiences such massive new strains on it from an exponential increase in the data, applications and interactions that have grown so dependent on it? And what must the industry do to prepare the network for this shift and ensure people can continue to take advantage of emerging technological capabilities?

The changes in our digital environment are stunning. According to the research firm Telegeography, global Internet capacity has reached 77 Tbps, more than doubling between 2010 and 2012. A lot of this growth is driven by the popularity of social media and high-bandwidth apps such as video. With Cisco predicting that there will be more than 50 billion connected devices in the world by 2020 (embed live counter from this page), how can we ensure that the global connectivity infrastructure can cope under this strain?

What has been discussed less is the increased unpredictability in network needs. This is not simply a question of network capacity, but of how we connect with our technologies as a species. Managing a reliable global utility requires a continual dedication to configuration data and infrastructure management. Without that, trust in the utility is not possible.

The Internet of Things will present similar challenges for all who are involved in creating it, as the reliability of physical objects, vehicles and even human wearables and cybernetics takes on a whole new meaning. When a computer crashes, you can reboot. What happens when a network outage impacts personal belongings, vehicles or body parts? Thats why the Internet must be built on a solid network, because any faults could have consequences far more serious than any we have yet imagined.

From a security point of view, the key challenge is controlling access to billions of devices on the network. How do you protect the devices from attacks when at the same time you need to ensure that the devices have configuration enabled? How do you control access with devices such as pace makers or vehicle steering systems that cannot be switched off?

You also need to ensure that you have the right building blocks, including configuration data and infrastructure management, in place. You need robust platforms to ensure that the network is protected against the unexpected. Connectivity involves context and automation and with data there are often ripples when something goes wrong. For example, if 100,000 devices kick off an action, this can quickly impact the whole network due to the huge number of connected devices. Policing the interaction between the devices is key to ensuring that the whole network is protected.

Good security isnt cheap, and you must also make security controls flexible enough so connectivity retains agility. Any issues with software bugs or network mal-performance will be amplified with the Internet of things. Its up to service providers to deliver these mechanisms and policies, and the industry needs to recognize it.

All this leads us to some interesting new questions questions that shift our attention from supporting the network for the networks sake to supporting the network for humans sake. How do you balance the evolution of the Internet with the evolution of how people use technology?

Its true that technology now evolves faster than human behavior. And yet, human imagination is an infinite resource, whereas network capacity is not. This two-way tension raises some interesting questions:

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Internet and Human Capability: A Study In Parallel Evolution

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Professor Outlines Risks, Benefits of Genome Editing

Posted: October 21, 2014 at 1:44 am

Harvard Medical School professor George M. Church discussed the possibilities and potential dangers of genetic engineering on Wednesday. The lecture event, presented by the Harvard Museum of Natural History, covered a range of topics, including potential gains for genetic information and technologies and considerations of ethics and efficacy.

Church began the evening by highlighting the importance of genome testing, stressing that whether or not you have family history, whether or not you [are of] a particular ethnicity, all of us are at risk for rare diseases.

Genome testing has made advances in recent years, with the cost of sequencing an individuals genome having decreased in the past decade.But further advances in genome testing, Church said, could allow us to essentially see whats currently invisible, to essentially see the genomes around us.

Advances in the portability and affordability of genome testing, for instance, could lead to a sort of handheld DNA sequencing device that could dramatically impact diagnostics and field studies.

Moreover, Church said, if you have an inexpensive way of [sequencing genomes] you can really start testing a lot of ideas about cause and effect, with the potential to identify rare protective gene variants that could alleviate or eliminate some diseases.

Your genetics is not your destiny, Church said.

Church also discussed the possibility of de-extinction, bringing back species like the woolly mammoth. He predicted that the de-extinction process would largely depend on both ecological and economic considerations, in which species are judged both on their viability in modern ecosystems and their utility. He highlighted the woolly mammoth as an example of such a keystone species that could dramatically and positively impact the global ecosystem, citing his 2013 Scientific American article which outlined how mammoths could contribute to the reversal of global warming by keeping the tundra frozen.

Letting the tundra melt, Church said, is the equivalent to burning all of the forests in all of the world and their roots two and a half times over. Bringing back the woolly mammoth could be one important step toward preventing this catastrophic release of carbon, according to Church.

Church also briefly touched on human genetic enhancements, noting that changes in the modern environment and human behavior have framed the topic of altering ones genome in terms of necessity.

Our ancestors didnt need any genetic enhancements to be able to sit for twelve hours a day and eat fatty, sugary foods, but we need enhancements that handle that altered environment, he said. If we go into space, we need enhancements that handle radiation and osteoporosis…or else were dead. So what seems like an enhancement in one generation becomes life and death in another generation.

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Professor Outlines Risks, Benefits of Genome Editing

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Versatility of WaferGen Bio-systems Next-Gen Sequencing (NGS) Sample Prep Solutions to Be Showcased at the American …

Posted: October 17, 2014 at 2:48 pm

FREMONT, Calif., Oct. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ –WaferGen Bio-systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: WGBS) announced today that three papers describing the utility and versatility of its SmartChip and Apollo 324 technologies will be presented at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) 2014 meeting.

WaferGen has collaborated with notable academic and commercial clinical reference CLIA labs and will be highlighted in several scientific papers at ASHG. Collaborators include Prof. Yusuke Nakamura at the University of Chicago and Dr. Yuriy Shevchenko from GeneDx. The following papers will be presented:

“We are excited to continue expanding our list of customers and collaborators for WaferGen’s Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) sample prep products. At ASHG, we will showcase a full suite of NGS solutions designed to streamline and accelerate clinical research and routine patient testing. WaferGen will introduce an expanded portfolio of protocols on the Apollo 324, a compact and flexible NGS library prep system that enables rapid and full walk-away automation of a wide variety of NGS and molecular diagnostics applications. The Apollo 324 is ideal for clinical whole genome and whole exome sequencing. By combining Apollo 324 with WaferGen’s Seq-ReadyTE System, an innovative one-step target enrichment and library preparation solution ideal for custom gene panels, WaferGen addresses the critical need of clinical labs for easy-to-use and cost effective workflows,” said Ivan Trifunovich, President and Chief Executive Officer of WaferGen.

The American Society of Human Genetics 64th Annual Meeting will take place on Saturday, October 18 to Wednesday, October 22 at the San Diego Convention Center. WaferGen will be exhibiting their NGS solutions in Booth #222. For more information and registration, please see http://www.ashg.org/2014meeting/.

About WaferGen

WaferGen Bio-systems, Inc. is a life science company that offers innovative genomic solutions for clinical testing and research. The SmartChip MyDesign Real-Time PCR System is a high-throughput genetic analysis platform for profiling and validating molecular biomarkers via microRNA and mRNA gene expression profiling, as well as single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping. The SmartChip TE System is a novel product offering for target enrichment geared towards clinical Next-Gen sequencing (NGS). The Seq-Ready TE System, powered by SmartChip massively-parallel single-plex PCR technology, is an innovative one-step target enrichment and library preparation solution. The Company now also offers the Apollo 324 product line used in library preparation for NGS. These three complementary technologies offer a powerful set of tools enabling more accurate, faster and cheaper genetic analysis based on Next-Gen Sequencing and Real-Time PCR.

For additional information, please see http://www.wafergen.com

Investor Contacts: ICR, Inc. Bob Yedid bob.yedid@icrinc.com 646-277-1250

WaferGen Bio-systems, Inc. Ivan Trifunovich ivan.trifunovich@wafergen.com (510) 651-4450

SOURCE WaferGen Bio-systems, Inc.

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Versatility of WaferGen Bio-systems Next-Gen Sequencing (NGS) Sample Prep Solutions to Be Showcased at the American …

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RCas9: A programmable RNA editing tool

Posted: October 5, 2014 at 6:43 am

A powerful scientific tool for editing the DNA instructions in a genome can now also be applied to RNA, the molecule that translates DNA’s genetic instructions into the production of proteins. A team of researchers with Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley has demonstrated a means by which the CRISPR/Cas9 protein complex can be programmed to recognize and cleave RNA at sequence-specific target sites. This finding has the potential to transform the study of RNA function by paving the way for direct RNA transcript detection, analysis and manipulation.

Schematic shows how RNA-guided Cas9 working with PAMmer can target ssRNA for programmable, sequence-specific cleavage.

Led by Jennifer Doudna, biochemist and leading authority on the CRISPR/Cas9 complex, the Berkeley team showed how the Cas9 enzyme can work with short DNA sequences known as “PAM,” for protospacer adjacent motif, to identify and bind with specific site of single-stranded RNA (ssRNA). The team is designating this RNA-targeting CRISPR/Cas9 complex as RCas9.

“Using specially designed PAM-presenting oligonucleotides, or PAMmers, RCas9 can be specifically directed to bind or cut RNA targets while avoiding corresponding DNA sequences, or it can be used to isolate specific endogenous messenger RNA from cells,” says Doudna, who holds joint appointments with Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division and UC Berkeley’s Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Department of Chemistry, and is also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). “Our results reveal a fundamental connection between PAM binding and substrate selection by RCas9, and highlight the utility of RCas9 for programmable RNA transcript recognition without the need for genetically introduced tags.”

From safer, more effective medicines and clean, green, renewable fuels, to the clean-up and restoration of our air, water and land, the potential is there for genetically engineered bacteria and other microbes to produce valuable goods and perform critical services. To exploit the vast potential of microbes, scientists must be able to precisely edit their genetic information.

In recent years, the CRISPR/Cas complex has emerged as one of the most effective tools for doing this. CRISPR, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, is a central part of the bacterial immune system and handles sequence recognition. Cas9 — Cas stands for CRISPR-assisted — is an RNA-guided enzyme that handles the sniping of DNA strands at the specified sequence site.

Together, CRISPR and Cas9 can be used to precisely edit the DNA instructions in a targeted genome for making desired types of proteins. The DNA is cut at a specific location so that old DNA instructions can be removed and/or new instructions inserted.

Until now, it was thought that Cas9 could not be used on the RNA molecules that transcribe those DNA instructions into the desired proteins.

“Just as Cas9 can be used to cut or bind DNA in a sequence-specific manner, RCas9 can cut or bind RNA in a sequence-specific manner,” says Mitchell O’Connell, a member of Doudna’s research group and the lead author of a paper in Nature that describes this research titled “Programmable RNA recognition and cleavage by CRISPR/Cas9.” Doudna is the corresponding author. Other co-authors are Benjamin Oakes, Samuel Sternberg, Alexandra East Seletsky and Matias Kaplan.

In an earlier study, Doudna and her group showed that the genome editing ability of Cas9 is made possible by presence of PAM, which marks where cutting is to commence and activates the enzyme’s strand-cleaving activity. In this latest study, Doudna, Mitchell and their collaborators show that PAMmers, in a similar manner, can also stimulate site-specific endonucleolytic cleavage of ssRNA targets. They used Cas9 enzymes from the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes to perform a variety of in vitro cleavage experiments using a panel of RNA and DNA targets.

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RCas9: A programmable RNA editing tool

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