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The race to develop a safe and effective vaccine against the novel coronavirus has drawn the attention of virologists and other health researchers the world over. As cases continue to climb around the globe, a vaccine remains amongst the most promising ways to overcome the pandemic.

Yesterday, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that the country’s health regulators (Russia’s equivalent of the FDA) had approved a COVID-19 vaccine for limited use. However, the vaccine itself has yet to complete clinical trials, having only made it through the second of three phases. But approving the vaccine without completing that last phase could prove harmful, both immediately and down the road.

The vaccine, known as Sputnik V, can now be administered to a restricted group of vulnerable Russian citizens such as healthcare workers and to at-risk populations like the elderly. Sputnik V can’t be used more widely until January 2023 at the earliest.

Vaccine development has made amazing strides in the past few decades, which has helped researchers accelerate their timelines for concocting effective vaccines. Creating a safe and effective one within a year or two was once unheard of, but it’s exactly what pharmaceutical companies are aiming to do now. However, even these days, the new medications must still go through animal testing followed by three phases of rigorous protocols, and that takes time.

In Phase 1, scientists give the drug to a select few people—no more than a few dozen or so—to make sure the drug doesn’t cause any immediate harm. If successful, the drug enters Phase 2 where quite a few more people—often in the hundreds or thousands—receive the medication, and researchers continue to test its safety as well as how well the drug does what it’s intended to do (in this case, prevent COVID-19). If the drug makes it through this phase—and only a small fraction do—it enters Phase 3, where researchers give the medicine to thousands more people and establish just how effective the drug is, including how well it holds up to similar medications on the market.

It’s this third phase that the Russian government is skipping and what’s giving researchers pause. A key component to Phase 3 testing is making sure that the drug doesn’t cause any harmful side effects. As we’ve previously reported, rare yet harmful side effects don’t always become evident until an experimental medicine has been administered to thousands of people, and vaccines are no exception. One hypothetical scenario, as Patricia Winokur, the executive dean of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, previously told Popular Science, is that a vaccine could contain ingredients that look like molecular structures in our own bodies, and trigger a dangerous autoimmune reaction. A rare side effect like this wouldn’t necessarily show up if you give the drugs to hundreds of people, but would become clear when given to thousands.

There’s also the possibility that a vaccine candidate could instigate an immune response that makes COVID-19 worse when someone is exposed to the novel virus. Though rare, Winkour noted this can happen.

There are safe ways to accelerate the vaccine development process. One way is to decrease the time between the phases. Often drugs must wait weeks to months to gain approval to go into the next clinical trial phase. But health regulators in the United States and around the world have been working to make sure that as soon as it’s deemed safe, a vaccine candidate can quickly move into the next phase of the trial. But the only way to ensure that the drug is safe is to complete the three trials.

Back in June, the Russian health ministry and Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology registered a combined Phase 1 and 2 clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine called Gam-COVID-Vac Lyo, according to The New York Times. But that trial only had 38 volunteers and the results are still unavailable. Now Russia plans to start a Phase 3 trial while simultaneously approving the drug for limited use. Further, as The Times points out, in its initial announcement yesterday, Russia’s Minister of Health told reporters that the volunteers “developed high titers of antibodies to COVID-19” and didn’t get any serious complications. These results are what you would expect from a Phase 1 trial only.

A newly created website for Sputnik V states that a Phase 3 trial is set to begin on August 12 and involve 2,000 people, which is far less than the typical number of patients involved in other Phase 3 coronavirus vaccine trials, which are around 30,000.

This is the second COVID-19 vaccine candidate to be approved for limited use prior to entering phase three clinical trials. The Chinese company CanSino Biologics approved its vaccine candidate for military use. The drug’s phase two clinical trial results were published in July and on August 9, according to The New York Times’ vaccine tracker, and the Saudi health ministry stated CanSino Biologics would begin a Phase 3 trial in Saudi Arabia.

A highly-effective and widely available vaccine will likely be necessary to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control, save lives, and return to normal life. But performing proper due diligence when it comes to testing will save lives, too. If we rush a vaccine, we could have more deaths and potentially millions of people with serious side effects that could produce long term damage.

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Acer Veriton X480G: A Budget Pc That’s Good, But Not A Leader

Acer’s Veriton X480G does a pretty good job of keeping up with the best budget PCs, but tough competition stands between this system and top honors.

The Acer Veriton X480G is a pretty good budget PC. At $599 (as of March 30, 2010), the X480G is aimed at small business users, and is priced well for the general performance it delivers–but is it really an example of a solid value overall? When pitted against a consumer-classed PC, the $559 Gateway SX2840-01, the X480G doesn’t quite achieve desktop glory. And though the $40 price difference separating the systems might not seem like much, every little bit matters in the world of low-cost, low-profile desktop PCs.

Admittedly, the SX2840-01’s Core platform allows it to run 6GB of RAM, double the amount that the X480G offers; you’ll also find a 1TB hard drive in the Gateway machine, versus the Acer’s 640GB of total storage. Nevertheless, the processors were the biggest contributing factors in our tests, as the larger amount of RAM and the bigger hard drive in the Gateway each offer a more-specific benefit. The RAM gives you more overhead for dealing with complex, multitask activities such as editing images and encoding movies simultaneously. And more capacity on a hard drive equals more room for data.

Both systems fared poorly on our graphics tests. The Veriton X480G failed to offer playable frame rates on our Unreal Tournament 3 benchmark at any test resolution or display-quality setting. While gaming performance isn’t much of a consideration on Business platforms, the X480G also isn’t very well suited for intensive graphics-related work. The SX2840-01 managed to produce roughly four times the frames per second on our benchmark runs–but even then, its 13.9-fps result was hardly anything to brag about (1920 by 1200 resolution, high quality).

The chassis, entirely black aside from a single gray stripe running vertically up the front, isn’t particularly aesthetically appealing; the compact system looks more like a little, monochrome box than a sleek addition to one’s desk. That said, the exterior appearance is far better than the scene on the machine’s interior. While the internal cabling is about as good as it gets for a budget PC of this size, the lack of overall upgradability–limited to a single PCI Express x1 slot and a PCI Express x16 slot–is a bit disappointing. What this system saves on space, it sacrifices on future-proofing.

As I expected, the mouse and keyboard shipped with our test X480G were generic and dull. Both devices are wired, and offer no extra buttons for any function beyond what you’d find on a conventional mouse or keyboard. I almost took off points for the ugly, black, boxy shape of the X480G’s mouse–it’s borderline obtrusive in its design.

Administrators will also appreciate Acer’s eLock Management, which allows them to lock down the PC’s components, or give read only access to particular drives. Authorization can be assigned to particular users, and you’ll be able to set a timer that will automatically lock your devices if you step away from your PC for an extended period of time.

Of most interest to potential upgraders is the QuickMigration application: much like Windows 7’s Easy Transfer, the QuickMigration feature will allow you to transfer user data and settings from an older PC, to the X480G. While Windows 7’s Easy Transfer makes use of external usb drives, flash drives or the Easy Transfer cable, Acer’s QuickMigration can be completed by plugging an Ethernet cable and installing a client onto the PC you’re transferring data from.

But they should also weigh the merits of non-business class PCs, which may lack a native security platform, but offer superior features and functionality for the end user. If you’re working with highly sensitive data, third party applications won’t suffice, and looking to limit your costs, Acer’s Veriton X480G is a safe bet. Barring that, if your needs aren’t as demanding, and you’re comfortable using third party tools or Windows 7’s innate security features, the Gateway SX2840-01 simply manages to achieve more, for less cash.

Heavy Rain, The Ps3 Exclusive That’s Not A Game

As overused phrases go, “interactive movie” is a doozy, right up there with “virtual reality.” It’s also historically misleading. What we used to call an “interactive movie” looked nothing like an actual movie. Even the industry’s dalliance with full-motion video in the 1990s looked pretty awful compared to 35 mm film viewed on a standard sized movie screen. What we really meant when we said “interactive movie” was that those 1990s games were doing things in terms of dramatic sophistication that we’d never seen before in a video game.

Still, you couldn’t put a realistic body much less an expressive face to a game character, a limitation imposed by the technology, until now…and a game like Heavy Rain.

Bear with me, or if not me, then with Scott McCloud, the guy who wrote Understanding Comics. Very perceptive guy, Scott McCloud, whatever you think of his later ideas about digital content production and distribution. In Understanding Comics, McCloud argues that the reason comics work, is that we identify more readily with simplistic characters than realistic ones. When we see something like a smiley face with two dots for eyes and a bent-line smile at the center of a circle, the lack of detail facilitates a kind of identify transfer. We pour more of ourselves into a character rendered in plain lines because there’s so much about that character not there to fill.

Add detail to the smiley face, bit by bit, until you’re looking at something an artist like Alex Ross might draw, almost photographic, and you throw up a kind of identity force field. The more someone looks specifically and uniquely human, the harder it becomes to pretend they’re you, the flip side being that your potential to relate to them empathically–and appreciate all the idiosyncrasies of their “not-you” personality–increases.

So far I’ve directed someone to shave, shower, dress, use the bathroom, make coffee, help carry groceries, set the table, fiddle with the living room stereo, blow off work, duel with toy swords, and give his kids shoulder rides around the backyard. I’ve also been responsible for getting another guy to bribe someone for info, console a prostitute, and hold his own in a knock-down, drag-out fist fight.

Except also somehow more than a movie. Sure, we’ve seen realistic CGI-simulated humans in movies, but a film’s all received information–24 frames per second, a way to trick your brain into perceiving continuous motion. You may identify with Dr. Aki Ross in Square Pictures’ Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, or the child in Robert Zemeckis’ The Polar Express, but you never really feel responsible for them.

In Heavy Rain, you feel entirely responsible, because the choices you make alter their fate. And that’s what’s changed: You’re participating in a narrative that combines the visual plausibility of a movie with the choice-and-consequences mechanics of a video game. And you care more about what happens to these people, strangely enough, because they’re so definitively not you.

I can’t say yet if the game itself works as a game, or if it’s even fair to label it as such (I’m thinking not). But I can say I’m pretty turned around by what Heavy Rain’s designer David Cage is up to here, if only in terms of the way he’s made me rethink everything I thought I understood about the nature of identification, interaction, and “play.”

Connect with Matt on Twitter (@game_on)

Razer Huntsman Elite Review: Optical Switches Arrive, But That’s Not Even The Best Feature

Razer’s Huntsman Elite needs another pass, particularly the awkward media keys, but its RGB-enabled wrist rest is eye-catching and the new Opto-Mechanical switch holds promise.

Optical switches. I knew they were coming to mainstream keyboards sooner or later. I started seeing them crop up at PAX a year or two ago, courtesy of a brand called—I’m serious—Bloody. (The parent company has the much more boring name A4Tech.) It was only a matter of time.

And if nerdy discussions about switch tech don’t do it for you, an RGB-endabled wrist rest should catch your eye. Seriously. Let’s dig into what’s certainly Razer’s most innovative keyboard in years, though I’ll save the verdict for the end.

Note: This review is part of our best gaming keyboards roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.

All of the lights

Razer doesn’t do brand-new designs often. I’ve honestly lost count of how many BlackWidow revisions I’ve looked at over the years. That makes the Huntsman a novelty of sorts—a break from tradition at the very least.

IDG / Hayden Dingman

But don’t expect too much change. In large part, the Huntsman resembles the BlackWidow X, with its exposed metal backplate and raised keycaps. It’s not the BlackWidow X, and the chassis is a different shape, but “minimalist black rectangle” doesn’t leave you a lot to work with. In other words, the layperson could be forgiven for mistaking the two at a glance.

A few details have changed though, mainly in the top-right corner block. On the BlackWidow, that’s where you’d find all the indicator lights. On the Huntsman Elite? Dedicated media keys. Yes, finally. I’ve knocked Razer for years now about double-mapping its media keys to the Function row, and the Huntsman Elite design finally fixes the issue.

Worse, the keys aren’t as functional as I’d like. There’s lighting underneath each key, but the actual controls aren’t backlit. It’s not that hard to intuit—Skip Back on the left, Play/Pause in the middle, Skip Forward on the right. Still, why not just illuminate them? No idea.

IDG / Hayden Dingman

It’s just awkward, and indicates Razer might need a few iterations before it catches up with companies like Corsair and Logitech, which have had standalone media keys for years and years now. Still, a huge step up from having to hold down the Fn key and streeetch to hit F1 to F7.

The most noteworthy design feature of the Huntsman Elite, however, is the wrist rest. Namely, the fact that it’s RGB-enabled. It looks similar to the wrist rest packaged with the BlackWidow V2, except the Huntsman Elite’s has a row of pins along the top edge. When connected to the Huntsman keyboard, the wrist rest continues a ribbon of light that rings the entire base of the keyboard (as seen below).

IDG / Hayden Dingman

Dumb? Maybe. But it’s fancy, matching the same “underglow” aesthetic found on Razer’s Hyperflux mousepad and other peripherals. If you’re an RGB fan, this is probably the prettiest keyboard you’ll see, besides the Corsair K95 Platinum. The only downside: In order to illuminate both keyboard and wrist rest, you need to plug in both USB cables. Not really surprising I guess, but perhaps a pain for those (like myself) who are running out of USB ports. 

The Google Tensor G2 Is Just A Recycled Tensor G1, But Why?

Google Tensor G2 boasts the same 5nm manufacturing as its predecessor

Ahead of the Google Pixel 7 series launch, some rumors were pointing to the Google Tensor G2 as a 4nm chipset. That would be a major change for the processor over this predecessor. After all, it brings the same ARMv8 core architecture, the same old Cortex-A76 cores. A newer manufacturing process could have made the SoC more efficient and would also delivered a slight jump in performance. However, in the end, it turns out that the Tensor G2 is the same processor with slight refreshments.

Recently, a Google spokesperson confirmed to Android Authority that the new chipset has the same 5nm manufacturing process. It uses the same Samsung 5LPE process as the Tensor G1. In the best scenario, it uses the newer 5LPP process. We’ll never know since Google goes for an Apple-like route of keeping certain technical aspects under wraps.

Anyway, the chipset brings 2 x Cortex-X1 cores, 2 x Cortex-A78 cores, and 4 x Cortex-A55 cores. There are some updates in the clock speed to deliver a small bump in performance. Anyway, the GPU is better thanks to a newer Mali-G710 MC10. Therefore, the SoC is an improvement in gaming and image processing.

Google teases its processor as an improvement over the past generation. According to the search giant, the Tensor G2 brings power efficiency improvements. Moreover, it can handle camera and machine learning tasks 60% faster. Obviously, these improvements are not coming thanks to a newer manufacturing process.

Gizchina News of the week Perhaps, Google didn’t want to use Samsung’s 4nm manufacturing process

Honestly, we can’t blame Google for not using Samsung’s 4nm manufacturing. After all, it seemed to be quite problematic. The Exynos 2200 didn’t prove itself against the competition, and Qualcomm was not happy with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Due to poor efficiency and thermal management, Qualcomm decided to move the Snapdragon manufacturing to Qualcomm. That gave birth to the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC which proved to be 10% faster and 30% more efficient with TSMC’s 5nm manufacturing.

Therefore, Google could have had problems in using the 4nm manufacturing process from Samsung. Things may be different in the next year, and we may see a jump straight to the 3nm architecture.

Hopes are on the Google Tensor G3

We’re not saying that Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro owners should be disappointed with the performance brought by the Tensor G2. The processor may hold well to fill its purposes. Google makes clear that its goal is not to compete with flagship manufacturers anymore. In fact, the company’s flagships are to offer stellar camera capabilities and showcase the company’s reliability in software.

You won’t see fancy technologies like crazy-high fast charging, or stellar hardware to do 120fps gaming. Anyway, as we’ve said, the device will hold well for another year. The situation may finally improve with the Google Tensor G3.

According to rumors, the chipset will use upcoming Samsung’s 3nm manufacturing. It will be ready in time for the Pixel 8 series release. We can expect efficiency that greatly overcomes the 5nm on the Tensor G1 and G2. Moreover, we expect the upcoming chipset to finally make a switch to ARMv9 cores.

We expect details to start appearing in the next year, but an actual unveiling will happen only in October with the Pixel 8 series. We expect a Pixel 7a to appear in mid-2023, but that will likely stick with the Tensor G2.

Tackling Recursion (Not Just) In Typescript

Recursion is a fundamental programming concept that refers to a function calling itself. It can be a powerful tool for solving problems, but it can also be a source of confusion and frustration, especially for beginners. In this tutorial, we’ll explore how to use recursion effectively in TypeScript, a popular superset of JavaScript that adds optional static typing and other features.

One important thing to keep in mind when working with recursion is to define a base case, which is a condition that stops the function from calling itself again. Without a base case, the function will keep calling itself indefinitely, leading to an infinite loop.

Tackling recursion in TypeScript involves understanding how to use recursive functions effectively in a TypeScript program. This includes defining a base case to stop the function from calling itself indefinitely, considering the performance of recursive functions, and potentially using techniques such as memoization and tail call optimization to improve the performance of the function. It also involves understanding the specific syntax and features of TypeScript, such as optional static typing and compiler flags, that can be used in recursive functions.

Steps to use Recursion in TypeScript

In addition to understanding how to use recursion effectively in TypeScript, there are a few other things to consider when tackling recursion in your TypeScript programs −

Choose the right tool for the job − Recursion can be powerful, but there may be better solutions to a problem. Consider whether an iterative (loop-based) solution or another approach might be more appropriate.

Test your code thoroughly − Recursive functions can be challenging to debug, so it’s essential to test your code to ensure it works correctly.

Understand the limitations of recursion − Recursive functions can consume a significant amount of memory for large inputs due to creating new stack frames for each function call. Stack overflow mistakes could result from this.

Use recursion sparingly − While recursion can be a helpful tool, it’s essential to use it sparingly and only when it’s the most appropriate solution to a problem.

By keeping these things in mind, you can effectively tackle using recursion in your TypeScript programs.

Example 1

Here is an example of how to tackle recursion in TypeScript. To tackle recursion in this example, we start by defining the base case that stops the function from calling itself indefinitely. In this case, the base case is when n is 0 or 1. We then define the recursive case when n is greater than one and specify how the function should calculate the nth number in the Fibonacci sequence. The Fibonacci function accepts a single argument n and returns a number. The function uses a base case to return 0 or 1 when n is 0 or 1, respectively. In the recursive case, the function returns the sum of the (n – 1)th and (n – 2)th numbers in the Fibonacci sequence.

Finally, we test the function with different input values to ensure it works correctly. By following these steps, we can effectively tackle the use of recursion in this TypeScript function.

function fibonacci(n: number): number { return n } return fibonacci(n - 1) + fibonacci(n - 2) } console.log('Fibonacci of 0th term: ', fibonacci(0)) console.log('Fibonacci of 1st term: ', fibonacci(1)) console.log('Fibonacci of 5th term: ', fibonacci(5)) console.log('Fibonacci of 10th term: ', fibonacci(10))

On compiling, it will generate the following JavaScript code −

function fibonacci(n) { return n; } return fibonacci(n - 1) + fibonacci(n - 2); } console.log('Fibonacci of 0th term: ', fibonacci(0)); console.log('Fibonacci of 1st term: ', fibonacci(1)); console.log('Fibonacci of 5th term: ', fibonacci(5)); console.log('Fibonacci of 10th term: ', fibonacci(10)); Output

The above code will produce the following output −

Fibonacci of 0th term: 0 Fibonacci of 1st term: 1 Fibonacci of 5th term: 5 Fibonacci of 10th term: 55 Example 2

To tackle recursion in this example, we start by defining the base case that stops the function from calling itself indefinitely. In this case, the base case is when the array is empty. We then describe the recursive case when the array is not empty and specify how the function should calculate the sum of the array elements. The sum function accepts an array of numbers and returns a number. The function uses a base case to return 0 when the array is empty. In the recursive case, the function returns the first element in the array plus the sum of the remaining elements.

Finally, we test the function with different input values to ensure it works correctly. By following these steps, we can effectively tackle the use of recursion in this TypeScript function.

function sum(arr: number[]): number { if (arr.length === 0) { return 0 } return arr[0] + sum(arr.slice(1)) } console.log('Sum of array [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]: ', sum([1, 2, 3, 4, 5])) console.log('Sum of array [-1, 2, -3, 4, -5]: ', sum([-1, 2, -3, 4, -5])) console.log('Sum of array []: ', sum([]))

On compiling, it will generate the following JavaScript code −

function sum(arr) { if (arr.length === 0) { return 0; } return arr[0] + sum(arr.slice(1)); } console.log('Sum of array [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]: ', sum([1, 2, 3, 4, 5])); console.log('Sum of array [-1, 2, -3, 4, -5]: ', sum([-1, 2, -3, 4, -5])); console.log('Sum of array []: ', sum([])); Output

The above code will produce the following output −

Sum of array [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]: 15 Sum of array [-1, 2, -3, 4, -5]: -3 Sum of array []: 0

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