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Web pages load twice as fast on mobile with ‘Vroom’

Futurity.org - 3 hours 55 min ago

Researchers have created software that could dramatically speed up internet access for mobile devices.

The researchers’ new Vroom software prototype works by optimizing the end-to-end interaction between mobile devices and web servers.

They tested the software on 100 popular news and sports websites, and they found that Vroom cut in half the median load time on landing pages—from 10 seconds to 5.

“For any particular version of a web page, Vroom optimizes the process of loading that page…”

Despite that most web traffic today comes from smartphones and tablets, the mobile web remains inconveniently slow. Even on fast 4G networks, a page takes 14 seconds to load on average—an eternity in today’s connected world.

“Vroom dramatically improves upon solutions such as proxy servers, which come with security and privacy concerns. And it complements solutions such as Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project, which requires web pages to be rewritten. For any particular version of a web page, Vroom optimizes the process of loading that page,” says Harsha Madhyastha, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan and one of Vroom’s developers.

A key reason for the lag on mobile sites is that, even when a user visits a mobile-optimized page, the browser must incrementally discover, download, and process close to 100 URLs—the resources that constitute the page—before that page fully reveals itself.

“A lot needs to be bound and assembled, especially on sports and news pages with live content and personalized ads,” says Vaspol Ruamviboonsuk, a doctoral student in computer science and engineering at the university who led the development of Vroom.

“When a browser begins to load a page, all it knows is the main URL. Everything else, it has to discover on its own through multiple rounds of parsing and executing code to determine all the assets it needs,” explains Ruamviboonsuk.

This back-and-forth is necessary because both the central processing units and the networks of mobile devices are much slower than their counterparts on desktop and laptop machines. As a result, the mobile device’s CPU sits idle and underutilized while requests and responses are transferred to servers over the cellular network.

One could rely on proxy servers to accelerate websites. Proxies essentially act as virtual CPUs, building out pages before transferring them to the browser. But they compromise security and privacy. They intercept HTTPS content and require access to a user’s cookies.

‘Open ports’ leave a hole in smartphone security

In contrast, the new Vroom architecture bundles together resources that browsers will need to fully load pages. When a web server receives a request from a browser, in addition to returning the requested resource, the server also informs the browser about other dependent resources it will need to fetch.

Vroom takes a three-pronged approach to accomplishing this.

First, it augments HTTP responses with custom headers in order to push dependent resources. In the case of third-party content, which is common on web pages, Vroom doesn’t deliver the resources, but instead sends “dependency hints” in the form of URLs for resources that the browser should fetch. This maintains security, but still allows web servers to personalize the information that’s sent back, which is useful, for example, on news sites that recommend different stories to different users.

Second, Vroom makes web servers capable of identifying what resources and dependency hints make sense for the server to pass on to the browser.

Third, Vroom coordinates server-side pushes and browser-side fetches in a way that maximizes use of the mobile device’s CPU.

New cores for fiber optics could speed up internet

The researchers will present their findings in a research paper at the ACM SIGCOMM conference on August 24.

A Google Faculty Research Award, the National Science Foundation, and the MIT Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing funded the research in part.

Source: University of Michigan

The post Web pages load twice as fast on mobile with ‘Vroom’ appeared first on Futurity.

Science hasn’t seen 99% of the microbes in your body

Futurity.org - 3 hours 56 min ago

A new survey of DNA fragments circulating in human blood suggests our bodies contain vastly more diverse microbes than anyone previously understood.

In fact, 99 percent of that DNA is new to science.

“We found the gamut,” says Stephen Quake, a professor of bioengineering and applied physics at Stanford University, a member of Stanford Bio-X, and the paper’s senior author. “We found things that are related to things people have seen before, we found things that are divergent, and we found things that are completely novel.”

The research “arms infectious disease doctors with a whole set of new bugs to track and see if they’re associated with disease.”

The survey was inspired by a curious observation Quake’s lab made while searching for non-invasive ways to predict whether an organ transplant patient’s immune system would recognize the new organ as foreign and attack it, an event known as rejection. Ordinarily, it takes a tissue biopsy—meaning a large needle jabbed into one’s side and at least an afternoon in a hospital bed for observation—to detect rejection.

The lab members figured there was a better way. In theory, they might be able to detect rejection by taking blood samples and looking at the cell-free DNA—bits and pieces of DNA circulating freely in blood plasma—contained therein. Apart from fragments of a patient’s DNA, those samples would contain fragments of the organ donor’s DNA as well as a comprehensive view of the collection of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes that make up a person’s microbiome.

Over the course of several studies, the first of which was published in 2013, Quake, postdoctoral fellow Iwijn De Vlaminck, and others collected samples from 156 heart, lung, and bone marrow transplant recipients, along with 32 pregnant women. (Pregnancy, like immunosuppressant drugs taken by transplant patients, also changes the immune system, albeit in ways both more complicated and less well understood.)

The results of those earlier studies suggested there were identifiable changes to the microbiomes of people with compromised immune systems and that positive tests for the organ donor’s DNA were a good sign of rejection.

Mystery DNA

But there was something else, too—something weirder. Of all the non-human DNA fragments the team gathered, 99 percent of them failed to match anything in existing genetic databases the researchers examined.

With that in mind, Mark Kowarsky, a graduate student in Quake’s lab and the paper’s first author, set about characterizing all of that mystery DNA.

The “vast majority” of it belonged to a phylum called proteobacteria, which includes, among many other species, pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella. Previously unidentified viruses in the torque teno family, generally not associated with disease but often found in immunocompromised patients, made up the largest group of viruses.

Viruses from newborn gut are new to science

“We’ve doubled the number of known viruses in that family through this work,” Quake says. Perhaps more important, they’ve found an entirely new group of torque teno viruses. Among the known torque teno viruses, one group infects humans and another infects animals, but many of the ones the researchers found didn’t fit in either group.

“We’ve now found a whole new class of human-infecting ones that are closer to the animal class than to the previously known human ones, so quite divergent on the evolutionary scale,” he says.

Is this surprising?

“I’d say it’s not that baffling in some respects because the lens that people examined the microbial universe was one that was very biased,” Quake says, in the sense that narrow studies often miss the bigger picture. For one thing, researchers tend to go deep in the microbiome in only one part of the body, such as the gut or skin, at a time. Blood samples, in contrast, “go deeply everywhere at the same time.”

For another, researchers often focus their attention on just a few interesting microbes, “and people just don’t look at what the remaining things are,” Kowarsky says. “There probably are some interesting, novel things there, but it’s not relevant to the experiment people want to do at that time.”

It was by looking at blood samples in an unbiased way, Quake says, that led to the new results and a new appreciation of just how diverse the human microbiome is. The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Going forward, Quake says, the lab hopes to study the microbiomes of other organisms to see what’s there. “There’s all kinds of viruses that jump from other species into humans, a sort of spillover effect, and one of the dreams here is to discover new viruses that might ultimately become human pandemics.” Understanding what those viruses are could help doctors manage and track outbreaks, he says.

Do microbes cause babies to arrive too soon?

“What this does is it arms infectious disease doctors with a whole set of new bugs to track and see if they’re associated with disease,” Quake says. “That’s going to be a whole other chapter of work for people to do.”

Support for the work came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford, the Stanford Child Health Research Institute, the John Templeton Foundation’s Boundaries of Life Initiative, and the United States Aid for International Development’s Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT program.

Source: Stanford University

The post Science hasn’t seen 99% of the microbes in your body appeared first on Futurity.

Satellites that can image Earth at night, and through clouds, near launch

Ars - 4 hours 5 min ago

Enlarge / A rendering of ICEYE’s SAR micro satellite deployed in space. (credit: ICEYE)

The biggest thing in aerospace these days is the trend toward small things, from small satellites to small satellite launch vehicles like those under development by Rocket Lab, Virgin Galactic, and Vector Space Systems. Now a new microsatellite company, ICEYE, says it is moving forward with development and deployment of its synthetic-aperture radar technology.

On Wednesday morning, the Finland-based company will announce that it has raised $13 million in a new round of funding led by Draper Nexus, including investments from space capital firms such as True Ventures, Lifeline Ventures, Space Angels, and Draper Associates. Since its founding in 2015, the company has raised $18.7 million.

In an interview with Ars, the company's chief executive and cofounder, Rafal Modrzewski, said ICEYE plans to launch its technology within the next 12 months. It intends to begin the launch of a full constellation by 2019. "For the first two years we were mainly a technology company, and we were working with customers to find their needs," he said. "Now we have matured the idea."

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Celtics get Kyrie from Cavaliers

CNN - 4 hours 11 min ago

Trump laments CNN firing Jeffrey Lord: 'Poor Jeffrey'

Washington Post - 4 hours 11 min ago
President Trump attacked CNN repeatedly in Phoenix on Aug. 22, and expressed regret over their firing of conservative commentator and Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord.

Police spray tear gas at protesters following Trump rally

CNN - 4 hours 13 min ago
What began as a peaceful protest outside the Phoenix Convention Center turned chaotic Tuesday evening as police officers used tear gas to manage the thousands protesting President Donald Trump's rally there.

Trump hints he may pardon former sheriff

CNN - 4 hours 28 min ago
President Donald Trump suggested at his Phoenix rally on Tuesday that he may pardon Joe Arpaio, the controversial former Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff.

Elon Musk posts first photo of SpaceX’s new spacesuit

Ars - 4 hours 29 min ago

Enlarge / Wear this to ride in a Dragon spacecraft. (credit: SpaceX)

Early Wednesday morning, SpaceX founder Elon Musk posted a photo of the spacesuit that will be used by astronauts flying aboard the company's Dragon spacecraft, perhaps as early as next year. It is white and looks futuristic.

In his Instagram post, Musk added that this suit was not a mock-up but rather a fully functional unit. "Already tested to double vacuum pressure," he wrote. "Was incredibly hard to balance aesthetics and function. Easy to do either separately." (Double vacuum pressure simply means the suit was probably inflated to twice the pressure of sea level and then put into a vacuum chamber.)

Musk gave no other technical information about the suit. Most strikingly, it is white, in contrast to the very blue spacesuits unveiled by Boeing in January.

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Where are monuments to Confederate general who favored unity after war

CNN - 4 hours 29 min ago
So where are Longstreet's statues?

Uber drivers have made more than $50M in the first month of tipping

Ars - 4 hours 40 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Uber is making additional changes to its driver-side app by allowing drivers to set more destinations and offering "long trip notifications" to tell a driver when a rider is requesting a ride that's 45 minutes or longer.

The company will also stop penalizing drivers who turn down trips. Previously, when a driver turned down potential trips, it could affect promotions and account standing.

The changes are part of a process the company is calling "180 Days of Change," which it says will transform the driver experience for the 2 million people who drive for Uber each week. It began about two months ago with the notable addition of tipping to the app. Uber US and Canada manager Rachel Holt told several press outlets that the company's drivers have earned $50 million in tips since that feature was added. In-app tipping became available nationwide in mid-July.

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In search of art and food in Rome

CNN - 4 hours 41 min ago

London: Pint, food, pint

CNN - 4 hours 41 min ago

Trump renews attacks against media to crowd chanting 'CNN sucks'

Washington Post - 4 hours 41 min ago
President Trump cast wide blame on the "fake media" in Phoenix on Aug. 22.

Don't plan anything important for 2 p.m.

CNN - 4 hours 41 min ago
Energy drinks are a $2.8 billion-a-year business in the United States alone, built on the promise of helping you push past that "2:30 feeling."

Donald Trump, Afghanistan, Kyrie Irving: Your Wednesday Briefing

NY Times - 4 hours 45 min ago
Here’s what you need to know to start your day.

The difference a night makes in Trump speeches

CNN - 5 hours 4 min ago
President Trump's speech on Afghanistan strategy was very different in tone from his rally in Phoenix just one night later.
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