Google's Chromium developers have begun work on an experimental web browser for Apple's iOS using the search giant's Blink engine. That's unexpected because the current version of Chrome for iOS uses Apple's WebKit rendering engine under the hood. Apple requires every iOS browser to use WebKit and its iOS App Store Review Guidelines state, "Apps that browse the web must use the appropriate WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript." So Google's project, a content_shell iOS port, would not be allowed on iOS if it were turned into a release-ready browser. Yet, Google, for some reason, is pursuing this. Apple's rules have been a sore point among competitors and the web development community for years. Critics have argued that Apple's browser restrictions – which turn every iOS browser into a Safari clone, more or less – make web applications less capable and less attractive. That steers developers toward writing native platform apps for iOS, over which Apple has gatekeeping and monetary powers. Over the past two years, however, Apple's platform autarchy has become more fragile as legal and regulatory challenges have proliferated. The latest questioning of Apple's authority came from the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which has just issued a report calling for changes to the mobile app ecosystem to promote competition. The NTIA report echoes concerns raised by other regulators like the UK Competition and Markets Authority, and competition authorities in Australia and Japan. What's more, the European Digital Markets Act, which comes into effect next year, is expected to force Apple to allow third-party app stores and perhaps to alter its WebKit requirement. US government calls foul on Apple and Google over walled gardens for apps Chrome bug bedevils file storage in the cloud Apple sued for promising privacy, failing at it Apple preps for 'third-party iOS app stores' in Europe Google presumably is aware of the possibility of pending changes but the company insists there's nothing to see here. The creator of the bug report describing the project explained, "This experimental applicat
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The WINE Project has reached version 8.0 and DXVK version 2.1 of its Vulkan-based DirectX translation layer. If you'd give Linux a go except for one or two pesky but necessary apps, it's worth a try. Just over a year ago, we covered the release of WINE 7.0 and it's been working smoothly for us ever since. Now WINE 8.0 is here, and The Reg FOSS desk's trusty Ubuntu machine upgraded itself without even asking – and it still works just fine. Like Linux itself, WINE has matured rather nicely in recent years, and the result is that things are getting boring – in the good way. You just install it, which is generally little hassle, and then it just works and keeps just working. A random Windows app – Ability Office 11, in this case – working smoothly on Ubuntu 22.04 thanks to WINE 8 As a result, there are relatively few big-bang features in the release notes. All of WINE can now be built as Windows-style "Portable Executables" rather than the native Linux format of ELF executables.
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The best TV deals ahead of the Super Bowl — In the market for a new TV? Now is the perfect time to score a big deal. Whether you're looking to kick off your Super Bowl party or just in the market for a new TV, this is one of the best times to shop for a new big-screen TV for your living room. We found plenty of deals and discounts on QLED, OLED, and LED TVs. And even though 4K is now the standard, you can also opt to future-proof your next television by going with a discounted 8K set. The best deal we've found is on LG's B2 series, which has an OLED panel. The 65-inch model is now discounted by about $600, bringing the price down to just under $1,300. If you're looking for a more affordable set, consider an LED TV, but keep in mind that more budget-oriented sets are limited to 60 Hz refresh rates, making them less ideal for gamers. Gamers should be on the lookout for TVs that support faster refresh rates, like the Hisense ULED TV with HDMI 2.1 support for $898 after discount, as well as panels capable of displaying HDR content. For a complete list of the best TV deals of the season, be sure to check out our full list below: Best OLED TV deals LG 65-inch C2 Series 4K (OLED65C2PUA) for $1,697 ($2,100) at Amazon: With 4K image quality and support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, LG's OLED TV delivers deep blacks, vibrant colors, and rich contrast for an immersive experience. The company claims more than 8 million self-lit OLED pixels are part of the LG C2, and gamers will appreciate the variable refresh rate support along with Nvidia G-Sync Premium tech for fluid gameplay. LG 65-inch B2 Series 4K (OLED65B2PUA) for $1,297 ($1,900) at Amazon: A bit more affordable than LG's premium C2 line of smart TVs, the company's B2 series is still no slouch. With the same 8 million self-lit OLED pixels, it can display more than 1 billion colors. Gamers will appreciate the 120 Hz refresh rate, G-Sync and FreeSync Premium VRR support, and sharp picture that LG claims delivers a life-like viewing experience with rich depth and color reproduction. Samsung 65-inch OLED (S95B) for $1,800 ($3,000) at Samsung: Samsung's marketing lingo claims that its OLED TV is also powered by quantum dot technology, and with 8.3 million self-lit pixels, the company says you'll get the deepest blacks, vibrant Pantone Validated colors, and rich contrast. Dolby Atmos and HDR support are both on-board for an immersive entertainment experience with this model. Samsung also includes its own Neural Quantum Processor 4K for intelligent A.I.-driven image upscaling, all packaged in a super-slim design. Sony 55-inch Bravia XR OLED TV (A80K) for $1,298 ($2,000) at Amazon: Like its competitors, Sony has included an intelligent TV processor that adjusts the colors and contrasts on this TV to deliver life-like image quality. The Sony Bravia XR set is designed for PlayStation gamers, and Sony claims that PlayStation 5 gamers will experience input lag as low as 8.5ms. For gamers, features like Auto HDR Tone Mapping, HDMI 2.1 support, 4K and 120 Hz refresh rate, and VRR support make the Bravia XR a versatile set for everyone in the house. Sony 55-inch Bravia XR OLED TV (A90J) for $1,798 ($2,500) at Amazon: As one of Sony's more popular TV models, the A90J Bravia XR series delivers a 4K OLED experience together with Dolby Vision HDR and Google TV support that gives you access to more than 700,000 movies and TV episodes along with apps for popular streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, HBO Max, and more. Like other high-end Bravia XR sets, this one is also optimized for PlayStation 5 gamers and comes with an IMAX Enhanced setting for immersive cinematic content. Best QLED TV deals Samsung 85-inch Neo QLED 4K (QN90B) for $2,700 ($5,000) at Samsung: The Neo line of QLED TVs boasts a more traditional form factor compared to Samsung's The Frame, complete with minimal side bezels, allowing you to focus on the action on-screen. And with an 85-inch digital canvas here, the Neo QLED TV will give you the best views of the game. Suited more for larger homes and living rooms, Samsung's Neo line comes in display sizes ranging from 43 inches to 98 inches. These TVs boast precise Mini LED backlighting, HDR32X support, and vivid 3D sound, according to Samsung. Samsung 65-inch Neo QLED 8K (QN800B) for $2,600 ($3,500) at Samsung: If you're the type to future-proof your tech investment, Samsung's Neo line of 8K TVs is now discounted for the Super Bowl. The 65-inch model is the smallest model in this lineup, but you can also pick up a 75-inch or 85-inch model if you have a larger home to accommodate the screen size. To get the most use out of your 8K set, you'll likely need to create or search for your own content, as it's still pretty rare to even find 4K content on most broadcast or popular live TV-streaming services. Hisense 65-inch Quantum 4K ULED (65U8H) for $898 ($1,400) at Amazon: Getting a TV with QLED, or quantum LED, backlighting doesn't have to break the bank, and Hisense proves that with this terrific sale on an already affordable 4K set. In addition to HDR10 support, 120 Hz native refresh rate, HDMI 2.1 support for latency-free gaming, and Dolby Vision HDR support, this Hisense TV boasts peak brightness of 1,500 nits. It comes with Google Smart TV support built-in as well. LG 55-inch 4K (55QNED85UQA) for $997 ($1,400) at Amazon: LG markets its quantum dot LED TVs under its QNED brand, and like other competitors here, the company's model boasts Mini LED backlighting. This TV comes with support for Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple AirPlay, HomeKit, and more, which gives it wide compatibility with smart home ecosystems. The set boasts a 120 Hz refresh rate, Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos support, and an A.I.-driven processor that helps adjusts the picture and sound to enhance your TV experience. TCL 65-inch Class 6 (65R646) for $699 ($999) at Best Buy: Now on clearance, this TCL TV is the most affordable pick for a QLED panel on our list. This TCL set packs mini-LED illumination with its QLED screen. A 4K resolution and 120 Hz refresh rate help eliminate blurring, especially when you're watching sports or playing fast-paced games. Google TV is preloaded on this TV, and HDMI 2.1 ports make this a good gaming TV. Samsung 65-inch The Frame QLED (LS03B) for $1,600 ($2,000) at Samsung: Samsung's The Frame line includes high-tech TVs designed to blend in to your home decor. When you want to watch the big game or your favorite show, The Frame will act as a traditional TV. But when you're done viewing your favorite program, instead of having a black rectangular box hanging from your wall, The Frame will display your favorite artwork or photos. With its matte display to reduce glare and distortion, The Frame will feel more like a real painting than a painting displayed on a screen or monitor. Best LED TV deals Sony 65-inch 4K UHD TV (X80K) for $698 ($1,000) at Amazon: If you don't want to spend a fortune on your next TV, Sony's 65-inch X80K series comes in at just under $700 and packs plenty of smart features if you don't mind the slower 60 Hz refresh rate. It comes with HDMI 2.1 support, features designed for PlayStation 5 console gaming integration, and Google TV support with Google Assistant. Sony's proprietary Triluminos Pro is advertised to help bring more colors to life, while the company's Motionflow XR refresh-rate technology helps the TV keep up with the action despite the slower 60 Hz refresh. Dolby Vision HDR is also supported. Enlarge / Amazon 43-inch Fire TV Omni Series 4K. Amazon 43-inch Fire TV Omni Series 4K for $290 ($410) at Amazon: On discount at its sub-$300 price, Amazon's 43-inch Fire TV Omni is a great addition for those on a budget or smart homes controlled by Alexa. 4K resolution with 6
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A New York man who developed several stalkerware apps has been ordered to pay $410,000 in civil fines to settle a court case against him, and must modify the apps to let people know they are being monitored. The NY Attorney General's Office this month announced the agreement with Patrick Hinchy, who sold the apps through more than a dozen companies in New York and Florida. AG Letitia James' office said Hinchy's stalkerware let users secretly monitor the activity of other people's devices, including text messages, location, Gmail activity, messages in WhatsApp and Skype, call logs, and social media activity. Hinchy set up at least 16 companies to promote his apps. All told buyers that the apps were legal, but the software didn't notify those whose devices were being monitored that the stalkerware was running and reporting on their activities, breaking state and federal laws, according to James. As part of the agreement [PDF], the apps must be modified to alert people when their device is being monitored by the software. In addition, Hinchy and the companies – which used names including Data, DDI Data Solutions, Highster Data Services, and PhoneSpector – also misrepresented their refund and data security policies, didn't tell buyers that the apps could harm the devices they were installed on, and published fake reviews on sham sites created by Hinchy. Stalkerware proliferates "Snooping on a partner and tracking their cell phone without their knowledge isn't just a sign of an unhealthy relationship, it is against the law," James said in a statement. "These apps and products put New Yorkers at risk of stalking and domestic abuse." The Coalition Against Stalkerware, which launched in 2019, said such software is part of a larger problem of people using software to track others. In the US, one in four victims of stalking said technology played a role in the harassment they experienced and 21 percent of victims in France said their harassers used stalkerware. Between 2017 and 2020, NortonLifeLock identified more than 1,000 apps that could enable users to stalk people and that it was detecting about 1,250 infected mobile devic
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The reasons businesses and consumers like contactless payment transactions – high security and speed – are what make those systems bad for cybercriminals. If miscreants want to get back to stealing data and committing fraud, they need to find a way to force transactions away from tap-to-pay systems like Apple Pay and Google Pay and get people putting their credit cards back into the point-of-sale (POS) PIN devices. According to Kaspersky researchers, that's what the Brazilian operators behind the Prilex POS malware have done. Kaspersky discovered two new Prilex variants in early 20
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Qualcomm reported a 12 percent year-on-year slide in revenue for the first quarter of its fiscal 2023 amid weakening global demand in the smartphone market. The telecoms chipmaker generated $9.46 billion worth of sales for the quarter ended December 25 2022, down from $10.7 billion a year ago. Its net income was $2.23 billion, a reduction of 34 percent. Qualcomm shares were down 3 percent after an extended trading session following the results. However, it wasn't all bad - for company execs and investors - thanks to continued growth in Qualcomm's automotive and IoT business sectors, ac
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Mozilla is planning for the day when Apple will no longer require its competitors to use the WebKit browser engine in iOS. Mozilla conducted similar experiments that never went anywhere years ago but in October 2022 posted an issue in the GitHub repository housing the code for the iOS version of Firefox that includes a reference to GeckoView, a wrapper for Firefox's Gecko rendering engine. Under the current Apple App Store Guidelines, iOS browser apps must use WebKit. So a Firefox build incorporating Gecko rather than WebKit currently cannot be distributed through the iOS App Store. As we reported last week, Mozilla is not alone in anticipating an iOS App Store regime that tolerates browser competition. Google has begun work on a Blink-based version of Chrome for iOS. The major browser makers – Apple, Google, and Mozilla – each have their own browser rendering engines. Apple's Safari is based on WebKit; Google's Chrome and its open source Chromium foundation is based on Blink (forked from WebKit a decade ago); and Mozilla's Firefox is based on Gecko. Microsoft developed its own Trident rendering engine in the outdated Internet Explorer and a Trident fork called EdgeHTML in legacy versions of Edge but has relied on Blink since rebasing its Edge browser on Chromium code. Browser rendering engines render text and images on screen. When browser engineers add new features or support new APIs, they often do so through rendering engine code additions, as can be seen from various Blink enhancements. Sometimes Apple, Google, and Firefox agree on new features and work together and fix the issue, as with popover menus. Other times, the browser makers disagree and sulk as their codebases diverge. Safari developed a reputation for lagging behind Chrome and Firefox. Apple, however, appears to be aware of the risk posed by regulators and has added more staff to the WebKit team to close the capabilities gap. Google works on Blink-based iOS browser contrary to Apple's WebKit rule Apple sued for promising privacy, failing at it Google, Mozilla to collaborate with Apple on fresh Webkit browser benchmark UK competition watchdog investigates Apple and Google 'stranglehold' over the mobile market If Apple does allow other browser engines within iOS ecosystem, Google and Mozilla will be able to compete with Safari through technica
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The UK government has set up a delivery body tasked with building a prototype fusion energy plant to be sited at West Burton in Nottinghamshire. Announced today by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the newly established UK Industrial Fusion Solutions Ltd (UKIFS) will have responsibility for delivering the prototype nuclear fusion facility, known as the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP). The STEP project, which was first revealed just over a year ago, is expected to have completed construction by 2040, so don't hold your breath for the "near limitless, low-carbon energy" the program promises to deliver as part of a path to net-zero carbon dioxide emissions and driving economic growth across the UK. Nevertheless, the government is enthusiastic about the project, stating that the program is intended to pave the way for the commercialization of fusion and the potential development of a fleet of future plants around the world, which could "drive forward the UK's global leadership in this innovative sector." The site, at the West Burton power station in Nottinghamshire, was announced last October after being whittled down from an initial list of 15 prospective locations. The government is supposed to be providing £220 million ($264 million) in funding for the first phase of STEP, which will involve the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) producing a concept design by 2024, as we reported at the time. On a visit to the site, Science Minister George Freeman urged energy companies and investors to recognize the advantages fusion energy could have for both the UK and the wider world. "Fusion energy now has the potential to transform our world for the better by harnessing the same process powering the sun to provide cheap, abundant, low-carbon energy across the world," he said in a statement. Claiming the UK as a world leader in fusion science and technology, Freeman said the program aims to turn fusion from cutting edge science into a "billion-pound clean energy industry" that could potentially create thousands of UK jobs across the UK and grow exports, as well as lead to regeneration for the former coalfield site through what he referred to as a "fusion innovation cluster" in Nottinghamshire. America's nuclear fusion 'breakthrough' is super-hot ... yet far from practical UK politico proposes site for prototype nuclear fusion plant South Korea takes massive step toward sustainable nuclear fusion reactions Joint European Torus more than doubles fusion record with 59 megajoules "That's why I'm delighted to announce the creation of Industrial Fusion Solutions as the vehicle for industrial development and deployment of this technology as a new clean energy source in the coming decades," he added. Industrial Fusion Solutions was incorporated on January 27 as a private limited company, according to details filed at Companies House, with two directors listed: Ian Chapman and Timothy Bestwick. That's Professor Sir Ian Chapman, UKAEA chief executive, while Tim Bestwick is UKAEA's chief technology officer and director of Strategy, Communications & Business Development.
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An encrypted messaging service that has been on law enforcement's radar since a 2019 raid on an old NATO bunker has been shut down after a sweeping series of raids across Europe last week.  In a search of 79 properties in German, The Netherlands, Belgium and Poland last Friday, Authorities in those four countries arrested 48 people who were users, operators and administrators of the Exclu crypto communications service.  Exclu, which still has an operational website that appears to still accept payments of €500 ($537/£446) or €900 ($966/£804) for three and six month licenses, respectively, was used extensively by organized criminals and drug gangs, Dutch police said. Exclu made it possible to exchange messages, photos, notes and other communications with users, of which Dutch police said there were around 3,000 prior to the service's seizure, 750 of whom were Dutch speakers. Exclu claims on its website that it's end-to-end encrypted, offers remote device wiping capabilities, and other security features.  "The Exclu service has been dismantled," said the Dutch police and Public Prosecution Service. "At the moment, no one can use Exclu's services anymore."  Interpol seeks Do Kwon, man blamed for $40b crypto implosion EU, US agree on Privacy Shield enhancements Euro Parliament backs ban on cops using blanket facial-recognition surveillance Euro police forces infiltrated encrypted phone biz – and now 'criminal' EncroChat users are being rounded up Along with ending Exclu's use as a haven for criminals, Dutch law enforcement said it and counterparts in Belgium seized two drug labs, several kilos of narcotics, more than €4 million in cash, "various luxury goods and several firearms."  Dutch authorities said legitimate users of Exclu who can invoke legal privilege (e.g. lawyers, civil-law notaries, doctors or clergy) can contact police to have their data deleted, pending a look to make sure it doesn't contain any illegal information.  CB3ROB raid continues to pay dividends Much of the arrest of Exclu's leadership appears to have happened outside of Germany, but it was German authorities that the rest of Europe has to thank for the data that led to the raids and arrests. Dutch police specifically thanked their counterparts for allowing them "to conduct research in Germany with a view to obtaining evidence for its investigation."  German police said that their investigation into Exclu began in 2020 and had their origin in the seizure of an old NATO bunker dubbed "Cyberbunker" or CB3ROB, which had a reputation for hosting some of the less legitimate sites on the internet, including The Pirate Bay and the back end for Exclu.  German authorities said that their investigation of the Cyberbunker gave them the data needed to decrypt Exclu's services in order to monitor communications, which the Dutch police said they spent five months doing prior to last week's coordinated raids.  The data retrieved from Exclu also allowed authorities to identify and trace the developers, administrators and owners of the service, many of whom were arrested in the raids. Law enforcement agencies and lawmakers a
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Perennial search engine also-ran Bing looks set to get a massive shot in the arm amid reports that operator Microsoft is preparing to announce some kind of ChatGPT integration for the service later today. News of the event seemed to have spooked Google, with the search giant making the surprise announcement on Monday that it’s working on its own “experimental conversational AI service.” The Verge will be in attendance at Microsoft’s event, so stay tuned for all the details as they’re announced.And speaking of new Eras, my colleague Chris Welch has a scoop on Sonos’ upcoming speaker lineup set to debut in the coming months. We now know that they’re set to be branded as “Era,
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Generative AI models can memorize images from their training data, possibly allowing users to extract private copyrighted data, according to research. Tools like DALL-E, Stable Diffusion, and Midjour
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Microsoft wants everyone to know that it isn't looking to invade their privacy while looking through their Windows PCs to find out-of-date versions of Office software. In its KB5021751 update last month, Microsoft included a plan to scan Windows systems to smoke out those Office versions that are no longer supported or nearing the end of support. Those include Office 2007 (which saw support end in 2017) and Office 2010 (in 2020) and the 2013 build (this coming April). The company stressed that it would run only one time and would not install anything on the user's Windows system, adding that the file for the update is scanned to ensure it's not infected by malware and is stored on highly se
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In September, Apple launched its latest batch of smartwatches, introducing the first-ever Ultra ($799) alongside the Series 8 ($399) and a new Apple Watch SE ($249). Each wearable has its own pros and
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Chinese web giant Baidu, which has “AI” in its name and has made AI the focus of its hyperscale cloud, has revealed it will launch a generative AI chatbot later this year. Chinese media reported the launch and Baidu confirmed it to The Register. “The company plans to complete internal testing in March before making the chatbot available to the public,” a Baidu spokesperson wrote. The bot will be named “Wenxin Yiyan文心一言” or "ERNIE Bot" in English. The spokesperson added that the bots are based on the Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration (Ernie) model first proposed in 2019. We were told Ernie “expands into a series of advanced big models that can perform a wide range of tasks, including language understanding, language generation (ERNIE 3.0 Titan), and text-to-image generation (ERNIE-ViLG).” “What sets ERNIE apart from other language models is its ability to integrate extensive knowledge with massive data, resulting in exceptional understanding and generation capabilities,” the spokesperson added. Just what the bot will be capable of is not known, but Baidu has over the years described its ambitions for something that sounds an awful lot like ChatGPT. As we noted yesterday, Baidu has discussed "proposed a controllable learning algorithm and a credible learning algorithm to ensure the model can formulate reasonable and coherent texts". It’s done the hard work to deliver such a system, having in 2021 detailed “ERNIE 3.0 Titan” – a pre-training language model with 260 billion parameters. ChatGPT uses the 175-billion parameter GPT3 model. Twitch bans AI-generated Seinfeld show for making transphobic jokes It is possible to extract copies of images used to train generative AI models ChatGPT (sigh) the fastest-growing web app in history (sigh) claim analysts GPT-4 could pop up in Bing, as Google races to build chatbot search products ERNIE/文心一言 is bilingual in English and Chinese. A pre-press paper [PDF] from 2021 details the performance of ERNIE, and asserts that the model is superior to all rivals – including GPT-3 – at many tasks. In the months since ChatG
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Enlarge / Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) sacrifices his spot on a makeshift raft to save Rose (Kate Winslet) in Titanic.CBS/Getty Images (Major spoilers for the 1997 film below. Psst: The ship sinks.) Ever since James Cameron's blockbuster film Titanic hit movie screens in December 1997, fans have been arguing about a specific scene in which Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) nobly gives up a spot on a makeshift raft to ensure Rose (Kate Winslet), the woman he loves, survives. Tired of constantly having to defend his artistic choice against claims that both lovers could have fit onto the raft, Cameron decided to re-create the scenario under controlled conditions in a new documentary for National Geographic: Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron, marking the film's quarter-century anniversary. For the 10 people on the planet who haven't seen the film, Jack and Rose are star-crossed lovers from different social strata who have the misfortune of consummating their love minutes before Titanic hits that infamous iceberg. (The characters are fictional, intended to humanize the tragedy by giving us someone specific to root for.) Much drama ensues, involving Rose rescuing Jack from a lower deck as the icy waters approach and engulf them a
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India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has commenced the process to ban and block 138 betting apps and 94 loan lending apps with Chinese links, but has drawn criticism for a lack of transparency and the inclusion of several non-Chinese platforms. The ban has reportedly been executed on behalf of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) after app operators granted substantially large loans and then engaged in extortion, harassment, and other nasty measures to achieve repayment at annual interest rates up to 3,000 percent. The Indian government began investigating lending apps last year and also issued an advisory in October 2022 against betting and gambling platforms. The Reserve Bank of India attempted [PDF] to further regulate the industry in August 2022 by issuing new guidelines on digital lending which include requirements for better transparency of interest rates and securing explicit consent for loans. India uses emergency powers to order takedown of BBC documentary India scraps data protection law in favor of better law coming … sometime Reserve Bank of India warns against Big Tech's potential to dominate financial services Apple wants a quarter of its products manufactured in India, claims minister The announcement of the bans came from India’s state-owned public broadcaster, Prasar Bharati News Services (PBNS) on Sunday. MeitY is yet to detail the bans, which has drawn criticism and created confusion, particularly as some non-Chinese apps, were reportedly included in the ban. Among these blocked non-Chinese are fintech platform PayU, buy-now-pay-later service LazyPay, and lending platform Kissht. “In the absence of a legal order ... we ask for transparency and disclosure,”tweeted digital liberties non-profit Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF). The org elaborated: The reported reason for blocking these apps on an “urgent” & “emergency” basis was that they reportedly have Chinese links. However, mass blocking based on common, aggregated grounds goes against the individualised nature of the blocking power under Sec 69A & Blocking Rules. 4/n — Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) (@internetfreed
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Unable to get the power it needs to feed its growing datacenter footprint, Amazon plans to transition some of its Oregon datacenters over to natural gas fuel cells. First reported by local media, Amazon's initial plan would involve installing just shy of 75 megawatts of fuel cell capacity across three datacenters with the option to expand that to four additional sites in the future. Fuel cells extract electricity from a fuel like natural gas or hydrogen without the need for combustion. With hydrogen, the only byproducts of this reaction are electricity and water vapor, but with natural gas, CO2 — a potent greenhouse gas — is still produced. The ability to produce power without combustion has made hydrogen fuel cells a popular source of power in spacecraft and other advanced power-tech systems but more recently datacenters have adopted this tech as an alternative to diesel backup generators in the event of an outage. For Amazon, these natural gas fuel cells will be used as the primary energy supply, delivering 24.3 megawatts of power to each of the three datacenter sites. "We are investing in fuel cells as a way to power a small number of our operations in Oregon," an Amazon spokesperson told The Register in an email. "We continually innovate to minimize our impact on our neighbors, local resources, and the environment and this technology provides a pathway for less carbon intensive solutions in the region." An infrastructure problem Continuing to use fossil fuels to power its datacenters is at odds with Amazon's stated sustainability goals — which include transitioning facilities to 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. However, sources familiar with the matter tell The Register that Amazon's decision to use natural gas fuel cells was made in part due to challenges associated with power transmission infrastructure in the region. Oregon Live notes that the e-tail giant has had problems with landowners, who have objected to having high-voltage transmission lines cross their properties. Fuel cells provide Amazon a way to circumvent these headaches by generating the power onsite. However, regulators are concerned that t
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UK regulators are investigating a cyberattack against financial technology firm ION, while the LockBit ransomware gang has threatened to publish the stolen data on February 4 if the software provider doesn't pay up. According to a statement posted on ION Market's website, its ION Cleared Derivatives division "experienced a cybersecurity event" on January 31.  "The incident is contained to a specific environment, all the affected servers are disconnected, and remediation of services is ongoing," the notice said. "Further updates will be posted when available." LockBit, a ransomware group with ties to Russia, has since said it pulled off the data heist, and promised to publish "all available data," according to a screenshot posted by Emsisoft threat analyst Brett Callow. #LockBit h
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Microsoft is continuing to change how diagnostic data from Windows devices is processed and controlled to keep its place in the European market amid stringent privacy and security regulations. IT administrators enrolling devices in the Windows diagnostic data processor configuration option had been able to use a range of policies for each system, such as allowing for a commercial data pipeline and for desktop analytics processing. As part of a larger effort announced in May 2021 to enable European entities to process and store their data in Europe, the software giant is ending the use of policies to configure the processor option and instead is offering a configuration for an entire organization based on Azure Active Directory to set Microsoft's role in processing data. "We're maki
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Pakistan’s years-long whack-a-mole attempts to prevent its citizens seeing some content online gone up a level, after the nation’s prime minister intervened to overturn a fresh ban on Wikipedia. As The Register has recently reported, Pakistan's Telecommunications Authority (PTA) last week downgraded access to the crowdsourced encyclopedia after demanding supposedly blasphemous material be removed, and threatened a ban if it was not taken down. A ban duly followed, prompting the Wikimedia Foundation – operator of Wikipedia – to protest and point out that Pakistani authorities should request site editors address the situation in line with the encyclopedia’s policies. Now Pakistan prime minister Shehbaz Sharif has intervened to reverse the ban. The PM convened a committee comprising Pakistan’s ministers for Law and Justice, Economic Affairs and Political Affairs, and for Minister for Information and Broadcasting, to consider the ban. The unintended consequences of this blanket ban, therefore, outweigh its benefits “The above Committee held its meeting and was of the considered opinion that the Wikipedia was a useful site/portal which supp
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Current lithium-based batteries are based on intercalation—lithium ions squeeze into spaces within electrode materials such as graphite. As a result, most of the battery's volume and bulk is dedicated to things that don't contribute to carrying charges between the electrodes, which sets a limit on the sorts of energy densities that these technologies can reach. As a result, a lot of research has gone into finding ways of getting rid of one these electrode materials. People have tried pairing lithium-metal electrodes with various materials, while other efforts have tried using electrodes where lithium reacts with air to form lithium-oxygen compounds. While these worked by some measures, they tended to have problems that drastically shortened their useful lifetimes. But a recent paper describes a battery that uses lithium metal at one electrode and lithium air for the second. By some measures, the battery has decent performance out to over 1,000 charge/discharge cycles. Lots of problems The problems with lithium metal are pretty well described: It's very difficult to get the lithium to deposit evenly across the surface of the electrode. Over repeated charge/discharge cycles, things that start as subtle irregularities grow into spines called dendrites that the lithium doesn't leave in order to carry charge; eventually, the spines grow until they short the system out. The solution is generally thought to be changes to the electrolytes that the lithium ions travel through when moving between electrodes. At least one company has said it has developed an electrolyte that allows lithium-metal batteries to operate as lo
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Human psychology may prevent people from realizing the benefits of artificial intelligence, according to a trio of boffins based in the Netherlands. But with training, we can learn to overcome our biases and trust our automated advisors. In a preprint paper titled "Knowing About Knowing: An Illusion of Human Competence Can Hinder Appropriate Reliance on AI Systems," Gaole He, Lucie Kuiper, and Ujwal Gadiraju, from Delft University of Technology, examine whether the Dunning-Kruger effect hinders people from relying on recommendations from AI systems. The Dunning-Kruger effect (DKE) dates back to research from 1999 by psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, "Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one's own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments." Dunning and Kruger posit that incompetent people lack the capacity to recognize their incompetence and thus tend to overestimate their abilities. Assuming DKE exists – something not everyone agrees on – the Delft researchers suggest this cognitive condition means AI guidance may be lost on us. That's not ideal since AI systems presently tend to be pitched as assistive systems that augment human decision-making rather than autonomous systems that operate without oversight. Robo help doesn't mean much if we don't accept it. "This a particularly important metacognitive bias to understand in the context of human-AI decision making, since one can intuitively u
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The hack of SolarWinds' software more than two years ago pushed the threat of software supply chain attacks to the front of security conversations, but is anything being done?. In a matter of days this week, at least four disparate efforts to shore up supply chain security were declared, an example of how front-of-mind such risks have become and a push from vendors and developers to reduce them. The threat is growing. Gartner expects that by 2025, 45 percent of organizations globally will have experienced a software supply chain attack, a three-fold jump from 2021. It's not a surprise, accord
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South Korea’s Financial Services Commission yesterday revealed plans to regulate crypto assets as if they are securities. An announcement from the Commission’s Capital Market Division argues that investors should expect that tokenised assets enjoy the same protection as conventional securities, because they meet the same definitions South Korea applies to other securities. The document also notes that there are many types of securities traded in South Korea without the involvement of institutions or exchanges, such as shares in private companies. The regulator therefore does not believe t
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On Monday, Google unveiled an AI chatbot, Bard, that will be integrated into its search engine soon in the face of rising competition from Microsoft's Bing and OpenAI's ChatGPT. Talk of Microsoft revamping its search engine Bing with a massive investment in OpenAI's upcoming large language model GPT-4 has kicked Google into building its own rival service. Large language models have rapidly improved and are better at generating text, summarizing knowledge, and answering questions. They aren't perfect, however, and can still produce toxic and false information. But folks are fascinated and draw
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Don't buy an Android phone in China, boffins have warned, as they come crammed with preinstalled apps transmitting privacy-sensitive data to third-party domains without consent or notice. The research, conducted by Haoyu Liu (University of Edinburgh), Douglas Leith (Trinity College Dublin), and Paul Patras (University of Edinburgh), suggests that private information leakage poses a serious tracking risk to mobile phone customers in China, even when they travel abroad in countries with stronger privacy laws. In a paper titled "Android OS Privacy Under the Loupe – A Tale from the East," the trio of university boffins analyzed the Android system apps installed on the mobile handsets of three popular smartphone vendors in China: OnePlus, Xiaomi and Oppo Realme. The researchers looked
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In brief Google has hinted it will unveil AI-powered products and features in a live event next week. Online search and advertising are Google's biggest sources of income. The potential that its business could be threatened by Microsoft incorporating OpenAI's GPT-4 into the Bing search engine has raised alarm bells internally.  Google has pulled engineers from other projects to work on building a rival AI chatbot-powered search, and CEO Sundar Pichai promised to produce results soon. "I'm excited by the AI-driven leaps we're about to unveil in search and beyond," Pichai said in a statement, reported by Bloomberg.  Google's AI model – LaMDA – will be made available "in the coming weeks and months," and Pichai promised that people will soon be able to use language models "as a
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Sooner or later, everything ends up in Microsoft Excel. The 37-year-old spreadsheet has been used to run Doom and Pac-Man, stop-motion animation, a turn-based role playing game, chess, and a neural network, among other things. Excel's latest trick comes courtesy of Microsoft's own software developers: "FLAME: A small language model for spreadsheet formulas." It's detailed in a preprint paper from Microsoft researchers Harshit Joshi, Abishai Ebenezer, José Cambronero, Sumit Gulwani, Aditya Kanade, Vu Le, Ivan Radiček, and Gust Verbruggen. The paper describes an assistive AI system called FLAME. It's a small language model that can improve the creation and maintenance of Excel formulas. Large language models like OpenAI's ChatGPT are all the rage at the moment
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The UK's health service has confirmed it will require winners of the procurement for a Federated Data Platform (FDP) to migrate existing dashboards from the current platform by US spy-tech firm Palantir. Palantir, which made its name creating data analytics technologies for the CIA and US immigration agency ICE, is said to be making the competition a "must-win." The company got a foothold in the National Health Service (NHS) during the pandemic, when it was one of a number of suppliers to build a "data store" to detail information about the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the NHS, one of the world's largest healthcare providers. It won a £23 million ($28 million) contract without competition to extend its work on the platform, built on its Foundry product. The deal, which was
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Video The Seinfeld spoof Nothing, Forever - a sitcom developed using generative AI - has been temporarily banned on Twitch after one of the characters accidentally spewed transphobic profanities. The bizarre show made headlines last week for using AI to improvise visuals and script of a never-ending episode of Seinfeld. In comedy imitating art, sitcom 30 Rock predicted something like this over 15 years ago. The characters, modelled after iconic comedy series' characters Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer, utter a dialogue completely made up using OpenAI's GPT-3 language models. The text is translated to audio using text-to-speech algorithms and the backgrounds and scenes are AI-generated too. Nothing, Forever streamed on Twitch 24/7 and has attracted many followers since it started airing
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Rather than face proceedings before the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Activision Blizzard has agreed to pay $35 million to settle charges that it both failed to maintain appropriate misconduct reporting controls over so-called "frat boy culture," and also violated whistleblower protection laws. More specifically, the SEC alleged the World of Warcraft maker "lacked controls and procedures among its separate business units to collect and analyze employee complaints of workplace misconduct" between 2018 and 2021. The toxic work culture at the company was the source of frequent complaints from staffers. The Commission also said the games biz used separation agreements, which contained language compelling ex-employees to inform the management if contacted by the SEC, were violations
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Opinion The tech sector is failing at cybersecurity. Global spending on the stuff is at $190 billion a year, a quarter of the US defense budget. That hasn't stemmed an estimated $7 trillion in annual cybercriminal damages. People are fond of saying that the Wild West days of the internet are over, but on those numbers an 1875 Dodge City bank vault looks like Fort Knox. So where's the sheriff? There are plenty of posses; no end of companies both small and large selling security by the bushel. Firewalls, scanners, heuristic, intrinsic, behavioral, managed, managerial, in-cloud, on-prem, you can mix and match the buzzwords and buy into every new idea. What you can't do is make your systems safe. If you do want a safe bet in cybersecurity, it's that things aren't going to change any time soon
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A top US cyber diplomat said his Twitter account was compromised over the weekend. Nate Fick, the inaugural US ambassador at large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy, on Saturday announced the hack of his personal account (not the government agency one) with - of course - a tweet.  "Perils of the job," he added, suggesting that his sense of irony remains intact. Assuming that was an authorized tweet, of course. My account has been hacked. Perils of the job… — Nate Fick (@ncfick) February 5, 2023 The US Department of State did not immediately respond to The Register's questions about who was responsible for the attack, how they accessed Fick's account, or whether the miscreants posted any nonsense, such as the cryptocurrency endorsements that appeared on the hacked account of UK educa
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China's ambition to record government and commercial activity on a blockchain has a new engine: a 1,000-server cluster in Beijing capable of handling 240 million smart contract transactions each second. The machine is notable for two reasons. One is that this rig uses homegrown tech. The cluster is linked to ChainMaker – a made-in-China blockchain platform that's been contributed to and/or adopted by significant Chinese private and government enterprises. ChainMmaker has also claimed to have developed 96-core silicon designed to accelerate blockchain transactions. The Beijing Academy of Blockchain and Edge Computing – understood to be the designer of the facility – has previously announced it has developed petabyte-scale storage systems. With the USA leading bans on export of
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Microsoft Authenticator is ending support for the Apple Watch. Unfortunately, this means you’ll no longer be able to conveniently log in to your connected accounts using just the wearable, as reported earlier by MacRumors.While the app’s 6.7.3 iOS update states that it “removes Microsoft Authenticator from Apple Watch,” it also notes that you can still mirror any Microsoft Authenticator notifications you receive on your iPhone to your Apple Watch.Microsoft first introduced Authenticator for the Apple Watch in 2018, and it’s proven useful for anyone looking to streamline their multi-factor authentication (MFA) sign-ins. Instead of having to open the Microsoft Authenticator app on your phone to verify your identity, you could instead approve the log-in through a notification that a
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A sneaky botnet dubbed HeadCrab that uses bespoke malware to mine for Monero has infected at least 1,200 Redis servers in the last 18 months. The compromised servers span the US, UK, German, India, Malaysia, China and other countries, according to Aqua Security's Nautilus researchers, who discovered the HeadCrab malware and have now found a way to detect it. "The victims seem to have little in common, but the attacker seems to mainly target Redis servers and has a deep understanding and expertise in Redis modules and APIs as demonstrated by the malware," Asaf Eitani and Nitzan Yaakov reported. Open-source Redis database servers do not have authentication switched on by default, which is something the HeadCrab attackers use to their advantage. If administrators don't enable authenti
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Menace to society — Recent X-rays of her lungs were so bad, doctors thought she had cancer. Enlarge / Scanning electron micrograph of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria, which cause TB. A woman in Washington state is facing electronic home monitoring and possible jail time after spending the past year willfully violating multiple court orders to have her active, contagious case of tuberculosis treated and to stay in isolation while doing so. Last week, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department announced that it was "monitoring" a case of active tuberculosis in a county woman who had refused treatment. "Most people we c
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Getty or not — Getty lawsuit against Stability AI could change how courts view web scraping. Getty Images is well-known for its extensive collection of millions of images, including its exclusive archive of historical images and its wider selection of stock images hosted on iStock. On Friday, Getty filed a second lawsuit against Stability AI Inc to prevent the unauthorized use and duplication of its stock images using artificial intelligence. According to the company's newest lawsuit filed in a US district court in Delaware, “Stability AI has copied more than 12 million photographs from Getty Images’ collection, along with the associated captions and metadata, without permission from or compensation to Getty Images, as part of its efforts to build a competing business.” In this lawsuit, Getty alleged that Stability AI went so far as to remove Getty’s copyright management information, falsify its own copyright management information, and infringe upon Getty’s “famous trademarks” by duplicating Getty’s watermark on some images. Reuters reported Getty's second lawsuit against Stability AI followed last month's filing in the United Kingdom. On top of those lawsuits, Stability AI is also facing a class-action lawsuit from artists claiming that the company trained its Stable Diffusion model on billions of copyrighted artworks without compensating artists or asking for permission. Stability AI did not immediately respond to Ars' request for comment. Getty Images responded with a "no comment." Last month, Gett
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ONGOING ATTACK CAMPAIGN — Servers running unpatched versions of ESXi are sitting ducks for ESXiArgs attacks. Getty Images An explosion of cyberattacks is infecting servers around the world with crippling ransomware by exploiting a vulnerability that was patched two years ago, it was widely reported on Monday. The hacks exploit a flaw in ESXi, a hypervisor VMware sells to cloud hosts and other large-scale enterprises to consolidate their hardware resources. ESXi is what’s known as a bare-metal, or Type 1, hypervisor, meaning it’s essentially its own operating system that runs directly on server hardware. By contrast, servers running the more familiar Type 2 class of hypervisors, such as VMware’s VirtualBox, run as apps on top of a host operating system. The Type 2 hypervisors then run virtual machines that host their own guest OSes such as Windows, Linux or, less commonly, macOS. Enter ESXiArgs Advisories published recently by computer emergency response teams (CERT) in France, Italy, and Austria report a “massive” campaign that began no later than Friday and has gained momentum since then. Citing results of a search on Census, CERT officials in Austria, said that as of Sunday, there were more than 3,200 infected servers, including eight in that country. “Since ESXi servers provide a large number of systems as virtual machines (VM), a multiple of this number of affected individual systems can be expected,” the officials wrote. The vulnerability being exploited to infect the servers is CVE-2021-21974, which s
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The man accused of bringing down decentralized crypto exchange Mango Markets through market manipulation has made his first appearance in court in connection with the theft of millions in cryptocurrency. Avraham Eisenberg was arrested in late December in Puerto Rico in relation to charges [PDF] filed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which allege he made off with more than $110 million in crypto "by artificially manipulating the price of certain perpetual futures contracts." A Department of Justice grand jury indicted Eisenberg in early January, leading to this latest court hearing. According to the lawsuit, Eisenberg is alleged to have used a pair of accounts on Mango Markets to pump the price of the MNGO "governance token" used on the platform. Using a series of trades between his two accounts at incrementally higher prices, the SEC alleges that Eisenberg raised the value of MNGO by more than 2,200 percent in a single day of trading. Eisenberg, in turn, used his position "as collateral to borrow and ultimately withdraw from the Mango Markets platform approximately $116 million worth of various crypto assets – some of which belonged to investors trading on the Mango Markets platform, thereby draining all available assets from the platform," the suit alleges. On October 12, 2022, a day after the attack, Mango's decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) decided to halt a new platform upgrade, and closed its entire market. As of now, it's still offline, but Mango's homepage indicates it's planning a comeback release dubbed "Mango v4" sometime in the future.  SEC calls out 'trading strategy' According to the SEC complaint, shortly after Mango's collapse, a Twitter account allegedly controlled by Eisenberg tweeted of what it called "a highly profitable trading strategy" that the tweeter insisted was legal since it used the protocol as designed "even if the development team did not fully anticipate all the consequences of setting parameters the way they are." The posts went on to say that Mango Markets became insolvent, and to remedy the situation the poster then settled with the DAO "with the goal of making all users wh
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FOSDEM The Document Foundation has released LibreOffice 7.5 with a host of improvements. Windows and Mac users can just download it, and for Linux types the new version is already up on Flathub. LibreOffice, formerly known as OpenOffice, and before that StarOffice, is the go-to FOSS office suite, but there's always room for improvement. This version is a bit prettier than before, with new, much more colorful icons for both the individual modules and their respective documents. We liked this – frankly they were verging on drab before. There's also improved dark mode support. As before, there's a choice of UIs: you can have old-style menus and toolbars, or a single context-sensitive toolbar, or a tabbed toolbar (which is to say, a ribbon), if you like that sort of thing, which can be full-size, compact, or moved to a sidebar – especially useful on widescreens. This puts LibreOffice ahead of rivals such as OnlyOffice, WPS Office, and of course Microsoft Office, all of which give you just the ribbon-type UI whether you like it or not. The new version's more colorful icons contrast clearly against the plainer ones of LibreOffice 7.4 The apps also have built-in themes for UI elements such as toolbar buttons, which is somewhat more elegant than other approaches, such as the old Ub
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The Federal Trade Commission will not appeal a recent federal court order allowing Meta to purchase VR startup Within, an agency official told reporters on Monday. The FTC sued to stop Meta’s acquisition of Within, the company behind the popular fitness app Supernatural, last July. The agency argued that the purchase would expand Meta’s dominance in the VR market, pointing to the Oculus maker’s previous 2019 merger with the company behind Beat Saber. Meta fought the suit but later agreed to delay closing the deal until January 31st. Shortly after the court greenlit the impending merger on Friday, Meta spokesperson Stephen Peters told The Verge the company is looking “forward to closing the transaction soon.” Meta declined to comment on the FTC’s choice not to appeal the order. The FTC’s failure to stop the merger marks one of Chair Lina Khan’s first major losses as head of the agency. Khan, a tech antitrust pioneer, has doggedly gone after large tech companies over alleged anticompetitive conduct since she was confirmed to the post in 2021. Last July, Bloomberg reported that Khan overruled FTC staff advice not to intervene in Meta’s proposed merger with Within. FTC commissioners voted 3–2 to file the suit.In Monday’s call with reporters, FTC officials were optimistic that its failure to stop Meta’s merger wouldn't harm its abilities to improve competition in the broader tech industry. An FTC official noted how Friday’s ruling agreed with the agency that courts should consider a merger’s potential to harm competition in the future when litigating merger cases. The FTC is currently embroiled in a separate case opposing Microsoft’s merger with Activision. While Microsoft and Meta’s mergers would both affect the gaming industry, the size of the deals differs tremendously. Meta’s merger targeted a startup in the budding VR industry. Microsoft, two decades into building the Xbox platform and an owner of multiple game developers already, has proposed a takeover of Activision, the company behind the Call of Duty series that also owns Blizzard, which makes titles like Overwatch 2, and King, the maker of mobile games like Candy Crush.
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A free tool aims is helping organizations defend against KillNet distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) bots and comes as the US government issued a warning that the Russian cybercrime gang is stepping up its network flooding attacks against hospitals and health clinics. At current count, the KillNet open proxy IP blocklist lists tens of thousands of proxy IP addresses used by the Russian hacktivists in their network-traffic flooding events. SecurityScorecard's threat researchers developed the list following their ongoing investigation into Killnet and other network-spamming miscreants. "DDoS attacks are relatively unsophisticated but can still cause serious damage, especially when they affect hospitals," the security firm wrote in a recent blog about KillNet. In late January, the Russian gang claimed responsibility for a series of these attacks that took 14 US hospitals' websites offline. These included University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, Stanford Hospital, Duke University and Cedars-Sinai. While DDoS attacks are normal they can be used to mask more intrusive actions. This prompted the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue a second warning [PDF] about the threat KillNet poses to the health-care sector. This was the department's second such security alert in as many months.  The pro-Kremlin group's attacks — and sometimes empty threats — usually have a political bent to them. "For example, Killmilk, a senior member of the KillNet group, has threatened the US Congress with the sale of the health and personal data of the American people because of the Ukraine policy of the US Congress," HHS noted in its December security alert [PDF]. The US is still waiting for the claimed attack. Similarly, last May, following the arrest of an alleged KillNet criminal in London, the gang threatened to target ventilators in British hospitals if the man wasn't released. "It is worth taking any claims KillNet makes about its attacks or operations with a grain of salt," according to HHS. "Given the group's tendency to exaggerate, it is possible some of these announced operations and developments may only
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Last year, Super Bowl LVI was effectively the crypto bowl for companies like FTX, Crypto.com, Coinbase, and others. Now, with only a week to go until the Eagles versus Chiefs matchup, Sports Business Journal reports that while FTX and other crypto businesses bought Super Bowl LVII ad spots from Fox, they’ve all backed out.As LA faced off with Cincinnati for the NFL’s championship trophy, big-name celebrities like Matt Damon and LeBron James greeted TV viewers and attempted to convince them all to join the movement and invest in crypto. At the time, Bitcoin was valued at over $42,197.52 —
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Twitch is rolling out a new chat history feature that should make it a lot easier to catch up on what’s been going on in a streamer’s chat.When you jump into a stream, you’ll be able to see either the last 50 messages or the last hour of what’s been said in chat, depending on which option has fewer messages. That may sound like a potentially large gulf between options, but I think it serves both large and small streams well.For many larger streams, chat flies at a mile a minute, with discussions happening and changing at a rapid rate. Fifty messages is probably enough to get you up to
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Updated When plague winds howl across the surface of cadaver world Earth, humanity long dead by its own hand, imperial archaeologists picking through the remnants will excavate a bunker. Inside they will find a primitive computer. The computer broadcasts AI-generated spoof Seinfeld episodes for eternity. This is the haunting promise of the Twitch channel watchmeforever officially launched last week by Mismatch Media, which claims to be about "experimental forms of television shows, video games, and more, through generative... and other machine learning technologies." Twitch is a good place for "experimental" TV because that's exactly what it is. Viewers can interact with livestreamed video in real time, though the vast bulk of broadcasters use it to show off their skill (or lack thereof) at video games. There are, however, some "visionary" streamers out there and, while we hate to admit it, watchmeforever may be one of them. The "show" is called Nothing, Forever and stars the ensemble cast of Larry Feinberg, Yvonne Torres, Fred Kastopolous, and Zoltan Kakler. Sound familiar? While fans of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm may be among the first to admit that the Larry David sitcoms aren't really about anything at all, at least they are hilarious by virtue of the characters' mundane and inept interactions. Nothing, Forever has no such saving grace. Why? "Much of our generative content is provided through OpenAI's GPT-3," says Mismatch Media. In fact, outlines for Seinfeld episodes have become a favorite subject among those tinkering with the more consumer-facing ChatGPT so it's easy to see where the genesis of this bizarre project came from. Mismatch says of the show: So what's it like? Look at it this way – sci-fi of decades past imagined AI either elevating humanity or destroying it. Nothing, Forever proves that it is time to leave those conceptions at the door for another 30 years or so because it's toe-curlingly bad. Tech CEO nixes AI lawyer stunt after being threatened with jail time So you want to replace workers with AI? Watch out for retraining fees, they're a killer AI cannot be credited as authors in papers, top academic journals rule ChatGPT talks its way through Wharton MBA, medical exams But, and it's a big but, we need to remember that it is produced by GPT-3 and isn't trying to be good. Combined with graph
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pro no — That's one way to address the potential overlap between the two high-end Macs. Enlarge / Apple's Mac Studio desktop.Andrew Cunningham If rumors are to be believed, Apple has had to scale back its ambitions for the Apple Silicon Mac Pro. A planned performance-boosting "M2 Extreme" chip has suposedly been canceled, and some of the perks people normally associate with the Mac Pro—upgradeable RAM and graphics—likely won't be supported because of the way Apple Silicon chips are designed. Which leaves us with, if the most recent rumors are accurate, a high-end Mac Studio with user-accessible storage slots stuffed into the current neo-cheese-grater Mac Pro tower design. That doesn't leave much space between the Mac Studio and the Mac Pro—little enough that the Mac Pro could have trouble justifying its continued existence and price premium. One possible solution, as reported by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman: Apple could simply skip an M2-generation refresh for the Mac Studio entirely, leaving more of a performance gap between the still-M1-based Studio models and an M2-based Mac Pro. "It wouldn't make sense for Apple to offer an M2 Ultra Mac Studio and M2 Ultra Mac Pro at the same time," Gurman writes in his newsletter (via MacRumors). "It's more likely that Apple either never updates the Mac Studio or holds off until the M3 or M4 generation. At that point, the company may be able to better differentiate the Mac Studio from the Mac Pro." While Gurman is usually in a position to know these things, it's worth noting tha
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Luna, Amazon’s cloud game streaming service, is set to lose 53 games this month, including titles like Bridge Constructor Portal, No More Heroes, and classics like Pong and Missile Command, according to 9to5Google. It’s just the latest mass removal from the service.Amazon previously told 9to5Google that its goal for Luna “has always been to keep our selection as fresh as possible and to offer a wide array of high-quality, immersive games for our customers” and that it’s “refreshing” the service’s content with that in mind. It does seem like the number of games on Luna can fluctuate a lot — it also dropped over 40 games in December, according to Cloud Dosage.Currently, the Luna Plus subscription offers around 200 games, though the removals are set to happen at 11:59PM on February 8th, 10th, 26th, and 27th. In January Game Rant listed that Luna Plus had around 190 games, which was up from the approximately 140 that the list had in November 2022. (Though it’s worth noting that, in December, Amazon folded the separate Luna Retro and Family subscriptions into Luna Plus.) Even if there were no new games being added in February and the catalog dropped down to 150, that’d still be more than there were when Luna officially launched last March, which was around 130, according to Game Rant.Still, if I were a Luna customer, I’d want its catalog to grow over time rather than go through cycles of expanding and shrinking. As 9to5Google notes, Google’s Stadia had a
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Dash Mini Waffle MakerBreakfast in bed, anyone? Dash's heart-shaped waffle maker can be used for those lovely syrup-soaked breakfast delights or even some savory hash browns and paninis. If waffle hearts are a bit too lovey-dovey cheesy for you, remember that you can always turn them upside down and use some creative trimming to turn them into something much more… “cheeky.”Price: $9.99Lego SucculentsLego Succulents are the perfect gift if your someone special has a penchant for killing houseplants. The 771-piece kit allows you to build something with your partner without having to worry about the untimely demise of your green friends, which can bring some color and character to your living area or workspace.Price: $44.99+Catalonia Blanket HoodieTrue love is being comfortable enough around one another that you don't care how ridiculous you look — and it doesn’t get much comfier than a hoodie blanket. Catalonia's pullovers are great for getting cozy on the couch during the cooler months, and they come in loads of colors and patterns so you can each get one that fits your style.Price: $34.99+Courant Mag:1 Essentials magnetic charger (with optional monogram)Courant's magnetic Qi charger works great for juicing an Android phone or a MagSafe-compatible iPhone overnight. Unlike most tech, however, it doesn’t stand out as an eyesore on your bedside table. Each is covered with either a sleek fabric or quality leather, and for an additional $10, you can get it monogrammed for some extra swankiness.Price: $40+Fujifilm Instax Mini 11Few devices are as charming for capturing social events and documenting everyday life as Fujifilm's Instax cameras. The Mini 11 is our favorite of the bunch, namely because it offers great ease of use and photo quality within an affordable package. There’s just something special about instant film since each photo is one of a kind.Price: $69.95Apple AirPods (third-gen)The third-gen AirPods are the sweet spot if you want to gift your iPhone-loving valentine a set of wireless earbuds. They're a step up from the last-gen model in terms of sound, yet your partner is not likely to think you overspent like they might if you were to pony up for the AirPods Pro. Plus, they offer IPX4 water resistance and the same great ease of use as earlier models.Price: $174.95+iRobot Roomba j7 PlusYou don’t have to argue over who gets stuck doing the vacuuming if you’ve got a robovac. The iRobot Roomba j7 Plus is our top pick for robot vacuums thanks to its smart auto-mapping feature and self-emptying cleaning station. Plus, you get to name it in the iRobot app like a pet, one that can help clean up after you instead of the other way around. Price: $599+Xi'an Famous Foods by Jason Wang and Jessica K. ChouIf you have fond memories of going out together for Chinese food, you should try making your own noodles and dumplings at home. Xi’an Famous Foods is an excellent chain of noodle shops in New York City, and their equally excellent cookbook can help you prepare some of their beautifully savory recipes without ever stepping foot outside your door.Price: $19.29+Amazon Kindle (2022)If your partner is a big reader, Amazon's latest e
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Last week, Meta announced that it would be shutting down the widely praised VR game Echo VR in August. Since then, Meta CTO Andrew “Boz” Bosworth has shared some further details about the shutdown, and former Meta consulting CTO John Carmack has weighed in about the decision.In an Instagram AMA, Bosworth said that Echo VR’s playerbase, while “loyal as all get out,” had fallen into the “low ten thousands,” as transcribed by UploadVR. “Unfortunately, keeping things alive takes work,” Bosworth said. “This is not like a return on investment money standpoint; it’s just those resources could be put to other uses that I think will be useful to the now tens of millions of people who are in VR.” He also said Meta has some “regulatory constraints” that make it more expensive to maintain the game.Echo VR’s servers will continue to operate until August 1st at 1PM ET, but after that, the game will be completely shut down. While you might have hoped that Meta might make it available in a way for people to continue playing, like Velan Studios is doing with Knockout City, Bosworth is seemingly ruling that out:I will add one more thing on this — I know people are really focused on it, understandably — which is that we looked at [if we] can we open source it. And the answer is basically no. It’s very deeply entangled with a bunch of our systems and there’s no… It’d be even less cost effective to do that. Can we spin it out or sell it? No, because we want the Ready at Dawn team to be continued to be focused on these other projects that we’re excited about, that I think are gonna have a bigger impact on a bigger number of people on driving more adoption.Echo VR developer Ready at Dawn has hinted that it’s going to be focusing on its future. “By no means was this decision made lightly,” the Echo VR development team wrote in its blog post about the shutdown. “But it was made for many good reasons and chief among them is the studio coming together to focus on our next project. We can’t say anything about it yet, but we are all excited and need all hands on deck.”Bosworth also answered a question about “wwjcd do rn” — which translates to “what would John Carmack do right now.” He acknowledged that Carmack, who left his consulting CTO role in December, would not have shut down the game. But Bosworth said he’s trapped between two John Carmack principles: maximizing user value and hating when content doesn’t continue to exist. We don’t have to wonder what Carmack thinks about the decision, as he gave an extensive statement to UploadVR. He, unsurprisingly, strongly disagrees with the choice to shut down Echo VR. “Even if there are only ten thousand active users, destroying that user value should be avoided if possible,” Carmack said. “Your company suffers more harm when you take away something dear to a user than you gain in benefit by providing something equally valuable to them or others. User value is my number one talking point by far, but ‘focus’ is pretty high up there as well, and opportunity cost is a real thing.” However, Carmack believes “Boz’s statement was honest and tr
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Preparing for the worst — UK inquiry's preliminary findings could be issued as early as this week. Enlarge / A small selection of the characters that would be part of Microsoft if its proposed Activision/Blizzard merger is allowed to go through. Microsoft's legal team now expects Britain's Competition and Markets Authority to formally oppose its long-planned $69 billion merger with Activision Blizzard. That's according to "four people briefed on the matter" cited many paragraphs deep in a New York Times report about the direction of globali
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Colossal clacker — Unlike other novelty jumbo keyboards, this one has lubed switches and a numpad.
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The new Matter smart home standard is finally ramping up, with a number of compatible products available now and many slated to be released in the next few months. We’re keeping tabs on what will work with Matter, the new common language for smart home devices designed to simplify the smart home and make it easier to buy, set up, and use products. Matter should also help connected gadgets work with each other across platforms and ecosystems, so you won’t have to pick between Amazon Alexa, Apple, and Google when adding smart devices to your home. With Matter, you will be able to control your smart lighting, smart locks, and more simultaneously with any Matter-compatible platform using iO
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Switching tactics — Kids can't sign the license, but that also doesn't give them the right to sue.
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Enlarge / Elon Musk attends the 2022 Met Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2022, in New York City. Getty Images | Dimitrios Kambouris Elon Musk's victory against a class-action lawsuit filed by Tesla investors took some legal experts by surprise. Investors had won a significant pretrial ruling when a judge found Musk's tweets about securing funding to take Tesla private were false and made recklessly—but a federal jury sided with Musk after the trial ended Friday. "I thought he was crazy to try his chances at trial, given the stakes involved," University of Michigan law professor Adam Pritchard said, according to a New York Times story. Noting the judge's pretrial ruling on Musk's tweets being false and reckless, Pritchard said, "you're fighting with one hand behind your back in that situation—and yet he won." Judge Edward Chen had instructed the jury in US District Court for the Northern District of California to assume that Musk's tweets were "untrue" and that "Mr. Musk acted with reckless disregard for whether the statements were true." But plaintiffs still had to prove that Musk knew the tweets were false and that the tweets were material facts to investors—i.e., that the tweets caused Tesla investors to lose money. Plaintiffs claimed the tweets caused $12 billion in losses. Juror: “The overall message, it just didn’t land” Taking about two hours to reach a unanimous verdict in Musk's favor, the nine-person jury seemed to conclude that Musk believed what he wrote and that plaintiffs didn't prove the false statements moved the Tesla stock price. Jury foreperson Robin Cadogan spoke to the plaintiffs' lawyers after the verdict on Friday, and his comments were reported in several news stories. Cadogan "said he wasn't persuaded by arguments that the tweets were material," a Wall Street Journal report said. "The overall message, it just didn't land," Cadogan said. "There was nothing there to give me an 'aha' moment." According to a Bloomberg story, Cadogan also said the investors' case was "disorganized" and that "the defense had a better case." "Musk's lawyers did a better job of showing 'he was presenting what he believed to be true,' and was acting as a genuine bidder for the going-private transaction, Cadogan said," according to the Bloomberg article. "I wasn't really sure what you were driving at," Cadogan reportedly told the plaintiffs' lawyers. Cadogan "expressed concern that the lawsuit seemed to be 'relying on just the tweets,'" Bloomberg wrote. University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Ars today that he "wondered too how the jury and the foreperson could have ruled for Musk in light of Judge Chen's pretrial ruling that his tweets were false and made recklessly. Perhaps Musk's testimony persuaded the jury to rule for him, and he has earned a reputation for tweeting all types of ideas, which are difficult to decipher." Similar cases usually settle before trial Proving that Musk's tweets caused plaintiffs' losses was apparently a tough task,
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When a Texas school district sold some old laptops at auction last year, it probably didn't expect to end up in a public legal fight with a local computer repair shop – but a debate over what to do with district data found on the liquidated machines has led to precisely that. The San Benito Consolidated Independent School District sold more than 3,500 devices at auction in July 2022, of which 700 were purchased by local computer repair and resale shop RDA Technologies.  RDA co-owner David Avila said he found 11 hard drives the district had failed to wipe, and which contained sensitive data
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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said over the weekend that, despite nearly two years since a successful launch, Starship will be flying again this March – with orbital ambitions. "If remaining tests go well, we will attempt a Starship launch next month," Musk said in a tweet, which is backed up by an FCC application SpaceX filed for a Starship launch window between March and September. According to SpaceX's application, the March launch will entail an "experimental orbital demo and recovery test of the Starship test vehicle from Boca Chica TX." The last successful launch and recovery (or only,
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Updated A Chinese high-altitude spy balloon, spotted drifting over America, has caused concern about national security – though the US Department of Defense says it will not be shot down by F22s at this time. "The United States Government has detected and is tracking a high altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now," read a statement from Pentagon press secretary brigadier general Pat Ryder. Ryder said the balloon was carefully being tracked by North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and does not currently pose a physical threat. "Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years," said Ryder, adding that the US government had taken immediate actions to protect against collection of sensitive information. Everyone wants a glimpse of the Chinese spy balloon, it's gonna be THE raging internet trend for the next few days assuming the air force doesn't shoot it down. If you're not on your lawn getting noisy shots of every speck in the sky, you're missing out. pic.twitter.com/SA630Tfgy6 — Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) February 2, 2023 China unveils massive blockchain cluster running homebrew tech China reportedly producing quantum computers – good luck observing one Counterfeit crud crooks crossed over to e-commerce during COVID Beijing grants permit to 'flying car' that can handle 'roads and low altitude' A senior DoD official said the US government is confident the balloon belongs to China. At at least one point in time, it was above Montana – one of three states that are home to siloed nuclear weapons. Reaction to the balloon having hit the US military's radar has, predictably, generated much criticism of the Biden Administration's approach to national security and US borders. But the Pentagon has pointed out the balloon is … erm … full of hot air. "Currently we assess that this balloon has limited additive value from an intelligence collection perspective," said the senior defense official. Although the balloon is clearly for surveillance and flying over sensitive sites, the official position is it likely does not provide any more value that what can be collected from a Low Earth Orbit satellite, and its tech is not "revolutionary." The balloon is known to be hovering at a higher altitude than commercial air traffic and is therefore not an immediate danger. Plans to deflate it forcibly have nonetheless reportedly been considered, with one brainstormed solution being to shoot it out of the sky using F-22 fighter planes. However chairman of the joint chiefs, General Milley, and the commander of DoD combatant command Northern Command (NORTHCOM), General VanHerck, recommended no "kinetic action" be taken against the balloon due to the risks that falling debris could be bad news for the safety and security of people on the ground. However, according to the unnamed senior defense official, that decision could change if the balloon becomes a further risk. The balloon's existence has produced some amusing responses, including from Trekkies … That's no Chinese Spy Balloon pic.twitter.co
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It’s official: Google is working on a ChatGPT competitor named Bard. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced the project in a blog post today, describing the tool as an “experimental conversational AI service” that will answer users’ queries and take part in conversations. The software will be available to a group of “trusted testers” today, says Pichai, before becoming “more widely available to the public in the coming weeks.”It’s not clear exactly what capabilities Bard will have, but it seems the chatbot will be just as free ranging as OpenAI’s ChatGPT. A screenshot encourages users to ask Bard practical queries, like how to plan a baby shower or what kind of meals could be made from a list of ingredients for lunch. Writes Pichai: “Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity, helping you to explain new discoveries from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to a 9-year-old, or learn more about the best strikers in football right now, and then get drills to build your skills.”Pichai also notes that Bard “draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses,” suggesting it may be able to answer questions about recent events — something ChatGPT struggles with.Bard in action — but that’s all we’ve got for now. Image: GoogleThe rushed announcement and lack of information about Bard are telltale signs of the “code red” triggered at Google by ChatGPT’s launch last year. Although ChatGPT’s underlying technology is not revolutionary, OpenAI’s decision to make the system freely available on the web exposed millions to this novel form of automated text generation. The effects have been seismic, with discussions about the impact of ChatGPT on education, work, and — of particular interest to Google — the future of internet search. Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars into OpenAI, has also capitalized on the moment. The company is said to be integrating ChatGPT into its Bing search engine as well as other products in its suite of office software. Screenshots purportedly showing a ChatGPT-enhanced Bing leaked just last week.Although Google has deep expertise in the sort of AI that powers ChatGPT (indeed, it invented the key technology — the transformer that is the “T” in GPT), the company has so far taken a more cautious approach to sharing its tools with the public. Google previously made LaMDA, the language model that underpins Bard, available via its AI Test Kitchen app. But this version is extremely constrained, only able to generate text related to a few queries.Google, like other tech giants, has been wary of a backlash against untested AI. Large language models like LaMDA and GPT-3.5 (which powers ChatGPT) have well-documented tendencies to spew toxic content like hate speech and to confidently assert false information, so much so that one professor compared such systems to “bullshit generators” — hardly a laudatory description for technology some say should replace search engines. (Google itself explored the pitfalls of AI-accelerated search in 2021.)The coming launch of Bard marks a step change in Google’s approach to thi
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256MB ought to be enough for anybody — Samsung's Android build is 4x bigger than Google's—twice the size of Windows 11. Enlarge / The square one is the S23 Ultra; the other two are the S23 and S23 Plus. As a smartphone operating system, Android strives to be a lightweight OS so it can run on a variety of hardware. The first version of the OS had to squeeze into the T-Mobile G1, with only a measly 256MB of internal storage for Android and all your apps, and ever since then, the idea has been to use as few resources as possible. Unless you have the latest Samsung phone, where Android somehow takes up an incredible 60GB of storage. Yes, the Galaxy S23 is slowly trickling out to the masses, and, as Esper's senior technical editor Mishaal Rahman highlights in a storage space survey, Samsung's new phone is way out of line with most of the ecosystem. Several users report the phone uses around 60GB for the system partition right out of the box. If you have a 128GB phone, that's nearly half your storage for the Android OS and packed-in apps. That's four times the size of the normal Pixel 7 Pro system partition, which is 15GB. It's the size of two Windows 11 installs, side by side. What could Samsung possibly be putting in there?! We can take a few guesses as to why things are so big. First, Samsung is notorious for having a shoddy software division that pumps out low-quality code. The company tends to change everything in Android just for change's sake, and it's hard to imagine those changes are very good. Second, Samsung may want to give the appearance of having its own non-Google ecosystem, and to do that, it clones every Google app that comes with its devices. Samsung is contractually obligated to include the Google apps, so you get both the Google and Samsung versions. That means two app stores, two browsers, two voice assistants, two text messaging apps, two keyboard apps, and on and on. These all get added to the system partition and often aren't removable. Enlarge / This is from the S22, but you get the idea. There are actually folders called "Google" and "Samsung" that make duplicate app hunting pretty easy.Ron Amadeo Unlike the clean OSes you'd get from Google or Apple, Samsung sells space in its devices to the highest bidder via pre-installed crapware. A company like Facebook will buy a spot on Samsung's system partition, where it can get more intrusive system permissions that aren't granted to app store apps, letting it more effectively spy on users. You'll also usually find Netflix, Microsoft Office, Spotify, Linkedin, and who knows what else. Another round of crapware will also be included if you buy a phone from a carrier, i.e., all the Verizon apps and whatever space they want to sell to third parties. The average amount users are reporting is 60GB, but crapware deals change across carriers and countries, so it will be different for everyone.
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Other than a new map, a dating sim, and a tie-in with One Punch Man, Blizzard is also touching up practically every aspect of Overwatch 2 with the introduction of the game’s third season. A blog post provided an overview of the big changes players will see when the game is updated tomorrow, February 7th, but now the patch notes have all the details.Major changes include a health reduction for tank characters during non-role queue modes, the return of the Workshop Editor, and an update to the game’s ping system so you can tell your allies if an ability like Immortality Field or Resurrection is on cooldown and for how long and allows players to choose any Ping to place on their Ping wheel
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Elon Musk and Tesla have been found not liable by a jury in a securities fraud trial in which the billionaire and his automaker were accused of misleading investors. The verdict came on late Friday a
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The classic puzzle game Myst is celebrating its 30th birthday this year with a new way to play: on your iOS device. Myst Mobile is based on the remastered version of the original that’s been released for Oculus headsets and PCs over the past few years. It hits mobile devices on February 9th.The new iOS port will support iPhones and iPads with A12 bionic chipsets and newer, so you can experience the mind-numbing frustration of turning dials and locating switches wherever you take your phone. Compatible iPhones include the XS, XS Max, XR, and newer; the eighth-gen iPad, third-gen iPad Air, and fifth-gen iPad Mini and newer will all be compatible, too.Mobile ports of Myst have existed for qui
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A long whispered prayer has finally been answered: Overwatch 2 is getting a dating sim. Stealthily announced as a part of Overwatch 2’s season 3 battle pass, starting on February 13th, players can g
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Dell is said to be planning to cut thousands of jobs, potentially as much as 5 percent of its entire workforce, in response to the falling global demand for PCs. The Texas-based technology giant confirmed there would be layoffs this morning, although it did not specify numbers. Vice chairman and co-chief operating officer Jeff Clarke said in a post today that the company would be "aligning Regional Sales and Dell Technologies Select teams", integrating "support services into ISG and CSG", and shifting ISG engineering "teams and resources to ... priority offerings." He also confirmed: "Unfortunately, with changes like this, some members of our team will be leaving the company." He added: "There is no tougher decision, but one we had to make for our long-term health and success. Please know we'll support those impacted as they transition to their next opportunities." According to Bloomberg, the company is set to lay off about 6,650 of its workers. The newswire cited a memo sent by Clarke to staffers blaming economic conditions which "continue to erode with an uncertain future." Clarke reportedly told workers that previous cost-cutting measures employed, such as putting a hold on new hires and limiting travel, are no longer enough. The layoffs, along with departmental reorganizations, present the company with an opportunity to drive efficiency, he said. We asked Dell about the job cuts, but the company declined to confirm the number, stating: "We continuously evaluate operations to ensure the right structure is in place to provide the best value and support to partners and customers. This is part of our regular course of business." Dell is not be the first tech company to shed workers in the economic downturn. PayPal said last week that it intends to cut about 7 percent of its workforce, or around 2,000 jobs, while IBM announced last month that it intends to lose about 3,900 employees and Amazon is also set to eliminate more than 18,000 jobs. Everyone's doing it: PayPal sends 2,000 workers packing NetApp ditches 8% of staff as customers put away wallets SAP culls 3,000 jobs from CRM business and its results weren't even
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Sony has posted an extensive FAQ about the PlayStation VR2 ahead of the imminent launch of the next-generation virtual reality headset. Though a lot of the questions cover what we already know, the FAQ page includes a handful of interesting tidbits about what you can expect from the headset when it launches on February 22nd.Personally, I was most happy to see Sony confirm that there are more than 100 games in development for the platform. The headset will have an impressive launch window lineup that includes games like Tetris Effect, Rez Infinite, and, after a free update available on launch day, Gran Turismo 7, but now we know for certain that there will be a lot of games to look forward to down the line. The folks at Resetera currently count 122 games in development; I’m quite excited for the port of Beat Saber.Everything you get with the PSVR2. Image: SonyHowever, Sony reiterated that original PSVR games will not be compatible with PSVR2. “PS VR2 is designed to deliver a truly next-generation VR experience, with advanced features such as haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, inside-out tracking, eye tracking and more,” Sony’s Sid Shuman wrote in the FAQ. “Due to this new approach to playing games in PS VR2, PS VR games are not compatible with PS VR2.” However, some g
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Nothing, temporarily — Unintended transphobic act by AI-powered Jerry Seinfeld clone leads to 14-day ban. Enlarge / A screenshot of Nothing, Forever showing faux-Seinfeld character Larry Feinberg performing a stand-up act.Nothing Forever Since December 14, a Twitch channel called Nothing, Forever has been streaming a live, endless AI-generated Seinfeld episode that features pixelated cartoon versions of characters from the TV show. On Monday, Twitch gave the channel a 14-day ban after language model tools from OpenAI went haywire and generated transphobic content that violated community guidelines. Typically, Nothing, Forever features four low-poly pixelated cartoon characters that are stand-ins for Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer from the hit 1990s sitcom Seinfeld. They sit around a New York apartment and talk about life, and sometimes the topics of conversation unexpectedly get deep, such as in this viewer-captured segment where they discussed the afterlife. Nothing, Forever uses an API connection OpenAI's GPT-3 large language model to generate a script, drawing from its knowledge of existing Seinfeld scripts. Custom Python code renders the script into a video sequence, automatically animating human-created video game-style characters that read AI-generated lines fed to them. One of its creators provided more technical details on how it works in a Reddit comment from December. As a new media experiment, the faux-Seinfeld stream often feels awkward and unfunny, but it's still gripping because viewers never know what the characters will talk about next. Unfortunately for the show, that unexpected nature can be a double-edged sword regarding AI trained on data scraped from the Internet. A video of the Nothing, Forever joke sequence that led to a 14-day ban from Twitch. According to Vice, late Sunday night, the AI-generated clone of Jerry Seinfeld (called "Larry Feinberg" in the AI show) went on a brief transphobic rant. Here's a transcript:
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Last November, OpenAI launched ChatGPT as a free web interface and took the internet by storm. Data compiled in a study by UBS reported the chatbot had managed to reach 100 million monthly active users by January, which would make it the fastest-growing consumer app in internet history. The study cited data from Similarweb, an analytics firm monitoring web traffic, indicating that about 13 million unique users on average visited the site every day in January – double the number recorded in December. Other ragingly popular online apps TikTok and Instagram took nine months and 2.5 years respectively to attract the same number of monthly active users, and the number of netizens flocking to ChatGPT continues to grow. "In 20 years following the internet space, we cannot recall a faster ramp in a consumer internet app," UBS analysts noted, according to Reuters.  ChatGPT is powered by GPT-3.5 and functions like a chatbot. Users instruct the model to carry out a specific task, and it responds in natural-seeming text. Unlike its predecessors, the model is better designed to carry out a dialogue, deny inappropriate requests, and admit to mistakes. Though it is far from perfect. Many people are fascinated with ChatGPT's versatile abilities to generate text. The model can do all sorts of tricks – from answering questions, to coming up with knock-knock jokes, or writing essays or even code. But like all AI language models it has no real understanding of text and will produce content that is false, nonsensical, or even toxic.  The model's limitations haven't swayed businesses across different industries from deploying ChatGPT to support customer service or content marketing. Computer scientists are also experimenting with applying it to more high-risk domains like medicine or law.  Meanwhile, universities and schools have banned the students from accessing the tool on public networks or submitting assignments written by the model. Top academic journals Springer Nature and Science have also warned researchers against submitting papers generated by AI. GPT-4 could pop up in Bing, as Google races to build chatbot search products
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Getty Images has filed a lawsuit in the US against Stability AI, creators of open-source AI art generator Stable Diffusion, escalating its legal battle against the firm.The stock photography company is accusing Stability AI of “brazen infringement of Getty Images’ intellectual property on a staggering scale.” It claims that Stability AI copied more than 12 million images from its database “without permission ... or compensation ... as part of its efforts to build a competing business,” and that the startup has infringed on both the company’s copyright and trademark protections. The lawsuit is the latest volley in the ongoing legal struggle between the creators of AI art generators and rights-holders. AI art tools require illustrations, artwork, and photographs to use as trainin
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Cloud giants Google and Amazon Web Services' latest financial results indicate the cloud computing adoption is finally slowing as customers press pause amid the economic downturn taking place across much of the West. Amazon Group's overall sales grew 9 percent to reach $149.2 billion in the fourth quarter, while its AWS sales increased 20 percent year-over-year to $21.4 billion. For the full year 2022, Group net sales increased 9 percent to $514.0 billion in 2022, and AWS was up 29 percent year-over-year to $80.1 billion, a marked difference from the early years of the pandemic. AWS added new customers over the last year, including the Nasdaq stock exchange and Brookfield Asset Management. Brian Olsavsky, senior veep and CFO, said the slowdown began in the third quarter as "enterpr
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Pakistan's Telecommunications Authority has "degraded" Wikipedia service in the country on the grounds that the crowdsourced encyclopedia was not censoring "sacrilegious" content, and warned it may block the site altogether. A tweet from the Authority (PTA) explains that it approached Wikipedia and asked the website to remove unspecified content it calls "blasphemous." The PTA said a hearing was provided, but Wikipedia did not appear. "Given the international failure on part of the platform to comply with the directions of PTA, the services of Wikipedia have been degraded for 48 hours with the direction to block/remove the reported contents. In case of non-compliance by Wikipedia the platform will be blocked within Pakistan," said a press release from the authority. PTA added that restoration of the site would only occur if Wikipedia removed the "reported unlawful contents." Which reads a lot like the PTA isn't aware that anyone can edit Wikipedia entries – so it could remove the content itself if it wanted to … and could convince other editors its edits are justified. Pakistan bans TikTok, for the fourth time Pakistan cut off Facebook, Twitter,
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I don’t know if there’s something in the water or if it’s all somehow linked to the buildup to the Super Bowl, but man, there are a lot of deals going on right now.Starting off with arguably the best one on offer today, all configurations of the Apple Watch Series 8 are discounted by $70 at multiple retailers. The base 41mm model with GPS is selling for $329 at Best Buy, Walmart, and Target. And the larger 45mm version is equally discounted, making it $359 at Best Buy, Walmart, and Target. Both sizes have the standard aluminum case and come in four colors (midnight, starlight, white, and red).The Series 8 is not the most exciting upgrade over the Series 7 from 2021. But in addition to its table stakes of iPhone-accompanying features, like actionable notifications on your wrist and myriad fitness tracking options, the Series 8 sports a temperature sensor for cycle tracking and Crash Detection (because if you trust Apple’s recent barrage of TV ads, we’re all gonna die if we don’t buy Apple Watches). Read our review.$329The latest smartwatch from Apple features watchOS 9 along with Crash Detection and temperature sensors that enable menstrual cycle tracking — something you won’t find on any other model.$359The Apple Watch Series 8 doesn’t represent a drastic departure from the Series 7, but it does offer Crash Detection and a number of iterative improvements that will make it the go-to model for many.For you iPad users, now is once again a great time to buy Apple’s latest stylus. The second-gen Apple Pencil is on sale for $89.99 ($39 off) at Amazon and Walmart. This is just about the best price you can get on one (okay, it’s been $0.99 cheaper before
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A former employee of RAC, one of Britain's major roadside recovery service operators, has pleaded guilty to data theft after he stored traffic accident information on his personal device that was passed onto claims companies. Asif Iqbal Khan, 42, was handed a £5,000 ($6,120) penalty, ordered to pay for court costs of more than £900 ($1,100) and a victim surcharge of £170 ($209) by Dudley Magistrates Court following an investigation by the country's Information Commissioner's Office. He admitted two counts of data theft last month, the UK data watchdog said. The probe was launched after 21 drivers involved in road traffic collisions received phone calls from claims companies wanting to take up their case. Khan was working as a RAC customer solutions specialist in 2019 when the company started getting calls from suspicious drivers that were called by claims companies in January that year. The roadside assistance company reviewed ways that data could have been obtained and determined that Khan was the only one who had access to the data on the 21 crash victims. It then tipped off the ICO. The ICO executed a search warrant at Khan's address, seizing two phones and a customers receipt for £12,000. Khan was found to have stored data relating to 272 individual incidents on phones he owned. Khan pleaded guilty to the counts of theft in a breach of Section 170 of the Data Protection Act. Stephen Eckersley, ICO head of investigations, said i
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No, it’s not you — Fitbit is currently experiencing a major outage. According to Downdetector, the outage started at about 8AM ET, with most reports indicating the problem was with the Fitbit mobile app. However, some users are also reporting issues with the Fitbit website. The main problem appears to be that users can’t sync their data, set up devices, or view updates. Essentially, anything related to using the Fitbit app appears to be borked. Other users on Twitter have said that uninstalling and reinstalling the app effectively locks them out, as the app will not let them log in or re
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Transphobia ruins everything, from your favorite wizarding franchise to, now, your favorite AI show about nothing. Nothing, Forever, the 24/7/365 AI-generated Seinfeld spoof that has exploded in popularity on Twitch, is going dark for two weeks, as the channel’s been hit with a suspension. As reported by Vice, the suspension stems from Larry (totally not Jerry), making transphobic remarks in his standup routine, wondering aloud if trans people are mentally ill and are ruining the fabric of society. In a statement to The Verge, Skyler Hartle, co-creator of Nothing, Forever, wrote, “We are e
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Microsoft will reportedly integrate OpenAI's upcoming large language model GPT-4 into the Bing search engine over the next few weeks, as Google scrambles to test rival AI products, fearing it could lose its dominant position in online search.  Text-generation models have evolved from being able to autocomplete text to being able to carry out more general natural language tasks. GPT-4 is expected to be more powerful than its predecessors, ChatGPT and GPT-3, with new capabilities to generate higher quality text and respond to a wider range of input queries. As the lead investor in OpenAI, Micr
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Analysis The semiconductor gold rush is all but over, and we've had our fill. Or so the past month of dismal earnings might have you believe. Electronics giant Samsung saw its profits contract 69 percent during the fourth quarter, while revenues slumped 8 percent overall. South Korean memory manufacturer SK Hynix, meanwhile, followed a few days later with an equally bleak report. Both companies told a story of macroeconomic forces that were suppressing consumer spending and driving DRAM and NAND flash inventories to unprecedented levels. Put simply, where there was once a chip shortage there is now a glut. Well, of memory anyway — more on that later. Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm, whose chips depend on DRAM and NAND flash and are thus inexorably intertwined, saw declines across key ma
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Poll As PayPal and NetApp join the latest tech multinationals shedding a portion of their staffers, the US Federal Trade Commission is proposing a local ban on non-competes. America's federal regulator has concerns about the unequal bargaining power between employers and workers, claiming that non-compete clauses limit a worker's ability to practice their trade. On the other side, the US Chamber of Commerce has threatened to sue the FTC over the proposed ban. But non-compete clauses – also in wide use across Europe, including in the UK and even Germany (which expects businesses to pay half the ex-employee's former salary in the period the non-compete applies) – are not the only contract terms that have come under the magnifying glass as workers consider their next moves. Even those
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Apple makes a lot of Macs with M2 chips. There’s the regular M2, which you can get in a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro — but be careful of calling that the M2 Pro for short because there’s also a processor called the M2 Pro, which you can also get in a MacBook, but you can also get that MacBook Pro with this other chip called the M2 Max. If you’re confused, you’re not alone. There are many different chips and many different Mac computers currently up for grabs. The Verge is here to help. In this video, we walk you through the M2 Macs that Apple currently sells. Chris Welch (our resident Mac Mini expert) discusses the latest Mac Mini models, senior video producer Becca Farsace talks about her experiences editing on the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, and I (hello) explain the 13-inch MacBook
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the art of backups — We tested five consumer-friendly cloud backup services and found a clear winner. We tested iDrive with its free Basic tier, which offers 10GB of storage. Jim Salter
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yo yo bro — After dropping prices by up to $13,000, now they've increased by up to $2,000. Enlarge / Tesla Model Y electric vehicles in a lot at the Tesla Inc. Gigafactory in Gruenheide, Germany, on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.Liesa Johannssen/Bloomberg via Getty Images Barely three weeks after slashing its prices to qualify for federal tax incentives for clean vehicles, Tesla has increased the prices of some of its best-selling electric vehicles. At the beginning of January, a five-seat Tesla Model Y long-range crossover cost $65,990; on January 12 Tesla dropped this to $52,990. Now, that has gone up by $2,000 to $54,990. A
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France's Computer Emergency Response Team has issued a Bulletin D'Alerte regarding a campaign to infect VMware’s ESXI hypervisor with ransomware. We get a little language lesson with this one: France's CERT describes this as an attempt to "déployer un rançongiciel," while Italy's Agenzia per la Cybersicurezza Nazionale – which has also warned of the campaign – warns that a "rilascio di ransomware" is under way. Neither nation's infosec authorities offer any information about the source of the attack, but both note that it goes after CVE-2021-21974 – a 9.1/10 rated bug disclosed and patched almost two years ago in February 2021. CVE-2021-21974 affects ESXi 7.0, 6.7 and 6.5. The latter two versions exited support in October 2022. We're sure those of yo
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Big Tech companies are aggressively pursuing investments and alliances with artificial intelligence startups through their cloud computing arms, raising regulatory questions over their role as both suppliers and competitors in the battle to develop “generative AI.” Google’s recent $300 million bet on San Francisco-based Anthropic is the latest in a string of cloud-related partnerships struck between nascent AI groups and the world’s biggest technology companies. Anthropic is part of a new wave of young companies developing generative AI systems, sophisticated computer programs that can parse and write text and create art in seconds, that are rivaling those being built in-house by far larger companies such as Google and Ama
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Apple has reported its first decline in revenues since 2019 as sales of Macs and iPhones both slowed – the latter in the wake of a shutdown at iPhone City, Foxconn's factory in China, late last year. For the quarter ended on December 31, Apple's Q1 of its fiscal 2024, it posted revenue of $117.2 billion, down 5 percent year-over-year. Net income was $29.998 billion, a 13.4 percent drop. We are sure every reader here will shed a tear to hear that this was a disappointment to Wall Street, which expected $122 billion in sales and $31 billion in profit. The company was keen to talk up its bright spot – Services, where iTunes lives – at $20.77 billion, up 6.4 percent year-over-year. CFO Luca Maestri said the company "saw very good results in our cloud services business in payment service
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Terrible Tragedy — The early death toll is 1,600 people, but this number will grow. Enlarge / Map of major earthquakes and aftershocks in Turkey on Monday.US Geological Survey A major earthquake and a series of strong aftershocks shook southern Turkey and other parts of the Middle East on Monday. The most powerful of these registered 7.8 magnitude, placing it among the five most powerful earthquakes recorded during the 21st century. This first earthquake, at 4:17 am local time in Turkey (Sunday evening in the United States), was followed later in the day by another powerful temblor hundreds of kilometers away, at magnitude 7.5, as well as
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fix me! — New software fixes the battery management and pulse inverter control modules. Enlarge / Early VW ID.4s will need to visit a dealership for a software update.Jonathan Gitlin Volkswagen is the latest OEM to issue a recall for some of its electric vehicles. This time the problem afflicts the MY2021 ID.4, VW's EV crossover. The problem concerns the battery management control module as well as the pulse inverter control module. This version of the battery management control unit software can be too sensitive and reset itself in some circumstances, and the pulse inverter control module can, under rare conditions, deactivate if there's
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The US Commerce Department is putting an official stamp on what many have saying for years: the iOS and Android app store model "is harmful to consumers and developers."  That's the conclusion of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) report into competition in the mobile app ecosystem, which it claims is more than a bit stifled by Apple and Google.  The Silicon Valley pair's ultimate say in what apps make it to the markets for their OSes, and the hefty profits they earn by keeping those gates, are standing in the way of smartphones being better than they could be, the agency said in its report. "Apps are a critical tool for consumers and an essential part of doing business online," said NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson. "It is more important than e
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Microsoft believes the gang who boasted it had stolen and leaked more than 200,000 Charlie Hebdo subscribers' personal information is none other than a Tehran-backed criminal group. On Friday, Redmond's Digital Threat Analysis Center (DTAC) attributed the cyber-heist to Iran's Neptunium, which the US Department of Justice tracks as Emennet Pasargad.   The stolen data, which included names, phone numbers and addresses, "could put the magazine's subscribers at risk of online or physical targeting by extremist organizations," said Clint Watts, general manager of DTAC. "We believe this attack is a response by the Iranian government to a cartoon contest conducted by Charlie Hebdo." In December, the satirical French magazine announced a competition for cartoons "r
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Enlarge / Not the most efficient way to read the news, but at least he's reading... New episodes of The Last of Us are premiering on HBO every Sunday night, and Ars' Kyle Orland (who has played the games) and Andrew Cunningham (who hasn't) will be talking about them here every Monday morning. While these recaps don't delve into every single plot point of the episodes, there are obviously heavy spoilers contained within, so go watch the episode first if you want to go in fresh. Andrew: I will start by saying this episode was closer to what I expected a typical The Last of Us episode would be. A few action sequences, a couple montages, time for some bonding moments for Joel and Ellie in between shootouts. Not that I minded last week’s episode at all, it just gave me a little whiplash because it was so far from what the first two episodes had set up. Kyle: Yeah, I'll say this episode is the closest we've yet gotten to the pacing of the games themselves: (1) Ellie cracks a few jokes; (2) Ellie and Joel shoot a few bad guys; (3) Joel talks to Ellie about Hard-Earned Lessons from the ruined world; rinse and repeat. Andrew: Which is fine! It’s the story I was pretty sure I was signing up for. Though now I’m curious to see if the show has any other curveball episodes to throw our way. Kyle: There are at least one or two more plot and/or format curves, even if they just stick to the games. (And that's all the cryptic clues I'm giving.) Speaking of episode whiplash, I think this was the first episode where we really got a good look at Ellie's constant transitions between young teen goofball and potty-mouthed action-h
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Skip to main content / Can the EV upstart find success where so many other automakers have failed? Feb 6, 2023, 9:12 AM UTC|Would you buy a Rivian e-bike? Photo by Nilay Patel / The VergeElectric automaker Rivian is developing an electric bike, according to sources speaking to Bloomberg. CEO RJ Scaringe apparently told staff about the e-bike effort during a company meeting on Friday, noting that a small team is currently working on it. Bloomberg says it’s unclear if Scaringe was talking about a battery-assisted bicycle (aka an e-bike) or an electric motorcycle. However, Scaringe has teased an entry into micromobility in the past and the company has patents for e-bike designs and components.Despite all the hype behind EVs, electric bikes have actually outsold electric and plug-in hybrid cars in the US since 2021. And in Europe, e-bike sales are on track to overtake the number of all cars sold, electric or not. That’s a tempting category to enter for a company trying to find a path to profitability.E-bikes are on track to outsell all cars soldLast week, Rivian laid off about six percent of its workforce for the second time in less than a year as part of broad cost-cutting efforts. Rivian has struggled to hit manufacturing targets amidst supply chain problems and a looming EV price war.Despite the revenue opportunity presented by the new category, car makers have yet to find any notable success with their e-bikes despite brands like Porsche, Mercedes, Jeep, GM, Hummer, and others all giving it a go. Even e-bike darlings like Rad Power and VanMoof have struggled recently after finding success during the covid lockdowns. Would you buy a Rivian e-bike?
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While astronauts are often engineers or scientists, they usually aren’t geologists, which is why the European Space Agency (ESA) is investing in training to make sure its next mission crew can accurately identify rocks and geological features. “Today, some astronauts have scientific backgrounds, although only a very small number have field science experience,” said ESA affiliates in a March 2023 Acta Astronautica paper. Planetary ANalogue Geological and Astrobiological Exercise for Astronauts (Pangaea) is the ESA’s astronaut’s geology-focused training course that preps the future Moon and Mars walkers with field knowledge. The program has been ongoing since 2016 and has trained astronauts from ESA, NASA, and Roscosmos. The four-week curriculum includes studying existing sites on Earth that are similar to what will be found during a mission, in hopes that the astronauts will be able to make split-second decisions about the importance of geological features. Now in its sixth year, the program includes on site trips to Italy, Germany, Spain and Norway. NASA Geotail spacecraft's 30-year mission ends after last data recorder fails Space mining startup prepping to launch 'demo' refinery... this April Truck-size asteroid makes one of the tightest fly-bys of Earth ever recorded James Webb Space Telescope suffers another hitch: Instrument down “The geology training takes them to the Italian Dolomite mountain range known for its pristine sedimentary layers, the Ries impact crater in Germany, the Spanish volcanic island of Lanzarote, and to the Norwegian fjords of Lofoten to learn about rocks similar to those found in the lunar highlands,” said ESA. Youtube Video “Utilizing human explorers instead of robotic platforms to complete these exploration tasks brings many benefits, such as faster data gathering and rapid real time adaptability to new information, thereby facilitating more efficient and effective operations and increasing the chance of novel discoveries,” said the paper authors. All these benefits will become much more apparent as missions increase in complexity and distance from Earth. Astronaut
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A dry, worn-out, and waterless land — 6 of 7 states proposed downstream reductions, but California wants to avoid cuts. Enlarge / A view of the Colorado River from the Navajo Bridge in Marble Canyon, Arizona on Aug. 31, 2022.Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images In 2007, the seven states that rely on the Colorado River for water reached an agreement on a plan to minimize the water shortages plaguing the basin. Drought had gripped the region since 1999 and could soon threaten Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the largest reservoirs in the nation. Now, that future has come to pass and the states are again attempting to reach an agreement. The Colorado River faces a crisis brought on by more than 20 years of drought, decades of overallocation and the increasing challenge of climate change, and Lake Mead and Lake Powell, its largest reservoirs, have fallen so low that their ability to provide water and generate electricity in the Southwest is at risk. But reaching consensus on how to avoid that is proving to be more challenging than last time. “The magnitude of the problem is so much bigger this time, and it’s also so much
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On Call With a whole month of 2023 already consigned to history, The Register brings you another instalment of On-Call, our weekly column in which readers share their stories of past deeds performed in the service of keeping computers copacetic. This week, meet "Nick" who once ran the Japanese branch of a storage-as-a-service provider back in the early 2000s. "We installed and managed disk arrays and storage area networks at customer sites and in datacenters," Nick explained. In these pre-cloud days, the as-a-service part involved 24x7 monitoring from a network operations center (NOC) in the US. "We also had a Japanese partner who wanted to run a NOC in Japan, so we helped them get one set up," Nick recalled. As you'd expect, that facility needed a rack full of kit – which Nick's firm provided. And as Nick was the chap in charge, he was asked to inspect it. "When I got to their NOC to see how things were progressing, I found this rack sitting in a hallway, with a network, hard-wired frame relay line, and power connection on the wall." Nick pointed out that the rack really needed to be in a secure area – but that advice was dismissed. He was assured that the Japanese partner was confident that if they told their reliable and honest staff to leave the rack alone, no harm would befall it. Because of course. User was told three times 'Do Not Reboot This PC' – then unplugged it anyway New IT boss decided to 'audit everything you guys are doing wrong'. Which went wrong This can’t be a real bomb threat: You've called a modem, not a phone Don't lock the datacenter door, said the boss. The builders need access and what could possibly go wrong? Early in the morning a couple of months later, Nick was called into action – the NOC had disconnected from the network. "After lots of running around and troubleshooting, we discovered that the frame relay line coming from the wall had been ripped out, then just stuffed back into the junction box." None of the reliable and honest staff who had been told to be careful near the rack and leave it alone admitted to the deed. Because of course. "They did move the rack to a secure
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Computer manufacturer Dell is set to cut about 6,650 jobs representing 5 percent of its global workforce, according to a report from Bloomberg. Announced in a memo on Monday, Dell Co-Chief Operating Officer Jeff Clarke said that the company’s previous cost-cutting measures, such as a pause on hiring and limitations on travel, have proved insufficient, and that the company is experiencing market conditions that “continue to erode with an uncertain future.”The layoffs were announced in the face of falling demand for PCs and laptops. Following a surge in PC sales during the global covid pandemic, most major computing manufacturers are now seeing a sharp drop in demand. Industry analyst IDC reported a 37 percent decline in Dell’s computer shipments during its recent holiday quarter compared to the same three-month period the previous year. Bloomberg reports that 55 percent of Dell’s revenue is generated from PC sales.After the layoffs, Dell will have 39,000 fewer global employees compared to its peak in January 2020.Clarke said that the job cuts are essential for Dell’s “long-term health and success,” and department reorganizations are being viewed as an opportunity to drive efficiency and boost innovation. Following the layoffs, the number of global Dell employees will be at its lowest figure in six years according to Bloomberg, with around 39,000 fewer roles compared to the 165,000 full-time roles reported in January 2020. “We’ve navigated economic downturns before and we’ve emerged stronger,” said Clarke. “We will be ready when the market rebounds.”Dell isn’t the only computing brand to be impacted by falling demand for hardware. Back in November, HP announced plans to cut around 6,000 jobs, while Lenovo laid off an undisclosed number of its US workforce in December 2022. The broader tech industry has also been impacted by a downturn in the economy as a result of slow growth, over-hiring, and supply chain issues, with Meta, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon all having announced mass layoffs in recent weeks.
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Who, Me? Welcome back once again, dear reader, to the untidy corner of The Reg we call Who Me? in which readers' confessions are filed in the dusty shadows until rediscovered. At the top of the creaking pile of submissions this week we found a reader we'll Regomize as "Jock" who leaned way back on his rocking chair to recount for us a story of his younger years – in the 1960s. Yes, this tale comes from the era of free love, psychedelia, and banking certificates printed on gigantic tractor-fed dot-matrix printers that could only use perforated paper. Jock worked in a bank, so on the spectrum
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Meta Platforms has sued an Israel-based web scraping firm called Bright Data for scraping data from its Facebook and Instagram websites – even though Meta paid Bright Data to scrape data from other websites. This legal battle kicked off earlier last month when the two companies in fact sued each other. Meta two months prior had sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bright Data demanding that it stop collecting what the scraping firm characterizes as public data. Bright Data disagreed with Meta's interpretation of its data collection rights and the two then headed to court – Meta seeking to ha
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Japanese IT services giant Fujitsu last week announced a re-org, and The Register has mostly figured out what's afoot. The conglomerate's announcement stated its "existing Global Solutions Business Group will be reorganized into two separate business groups: the Global Technology Solutions Business Group and Global Business Solutions Business Group." What's the difference between a Global Technology Solutions Business Group (GTSBG) and Global Business Solutions Business Group (GBSBG)? We're glad you asked. GTSBG is – surprise – about the tech. We're told the group will "be responsible for formulating and executing business strategies for infrastructure services and global delivery, mainly in the Horizontal Key Focus Areas under Uvance (Business Applications, Digital Shifts, Hybrid IT)." So making software and hardware work together. GBSBG has the word "business" in its name – not once but indeed twice – so you can probably tell that it means business. We're informed it "will be responsible for formulating and executing application services, mainly in the Vertical Key Focus Areas under Uvance (Sustainable Manufacturing, Trusted Society, Consumer Experience, and Healthy Living)." Those of you who can tolerate the kind of corp-speak we quoted above will have noted that Uvance is mentioned twice. It's the brand that Fujitsu launched in 2021 to pursue seven key focus areas – all mentioned above. Back in 2021 Fujitsu believed it could chase those seven areas with just a Global Solutions Business Group, plus various satellite companies that had little to do with Uvance. Now it clearly thinks Uvance needs one entity for the techie bits and another for the consulting bits. We asked why the change was made and got more corp-speak: "As our Fujitsu Uvance business shifts from the start-up phase to the expansion phase, we aim to accelerate management decision-making under the new organizational framework and provide our customers with a greater sense of speed in delivering solutions." Other questions we put to the company – how GTSBG and GBSBG will interact, how many people are in each group, and what the changes will mean for Fujitsu customers – were not answered. But we were told the change will "ensure we remain competitive and able to adapt quickly to address evolving customer and societal needs, shift
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Down to Earth — Once the object was over the ocean, US jets moved in. On Saturday afternoon, US jets intercepted the Chinese surveillance balloon as it was leaving the continental US. Live footage of the event shows contrails of aircraft approaching the balloon, followed by a puff of smoke that may indicate the explosion of some ordnance near the balloon's envelope—a reporter is heard saying "they just shot it" in the video embedded below. The envelope clearly loses structural integrity shortly afterward as it plunges toward the ocean. Reportedly, the events took place near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Here's video of it being shot down near Myrtle Beach via Katie Herrmann #ChineseSpyBalloon pic.twitter.com/KmT9rL2bR7 — Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) February 4, 2023 Shortly afterward, the US Department of Defense (DOD) released a statement attributed to its secretary, Lloyd J. Austin III, that confirmed the interception was performed by US fighter jets on the order of President Biden. The DOD identifies the hardware as a "high altitude surveillance balloon," and says that the president authorized shooting it down as early as Wednesday. The military, however, determined that this could not be done without posing a risk to US citizens, either due to debris from the balloon itself, or from the ordnance used to destroy it. As a result, the military waited until the balloon was far enough offshore to no longer pose a risk to land, but close enough that it would fall within US territorial waters, ensuring that the country wou
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To compete with Intel's fire-breathing 6GHz Core i9-13900KS desktop processors, AMD isn't shipping higher clocked Ryzens, but instead is throwing a boat load of cache at the problem. On Wednesday AMD revealed pricing and availability for its second-generation X3D CPUs, announced back at CES last month. Like the company's first generation 5800-X3D launched last April, it features an additional layer of SRAM stacked atop one of its CPU dies. The approach made for a formidable gaming CPU, which put Intel in the awkward position when launching its 13th-Gen processor family last year. Even according to Intel's own cherry-picked benchmarks, the company's 13900K couldn't topple AMD's cache-stacked Ryzen in everything. As such, the 7000-series X3D refresh has been hotly anticipated by enthusiasts as AMD's real gaming CPU lineup. This time around AMD is offering X3D editions of all but its base model Ryzen 5 processors. But, since this is the same fundamental technology used in AMD's X-series Epyc parts, which are tailored toward intense analytical and computational workloads like fluid dynamics, these chips should make excellent workstation parts as long as you can make do with the limited PCIe bandwidth. Here's a quick breakdown of the chip's specs and pricing. Ryzen 7800X3D: 8 cores / 16 threads, with a base clock of 4.2GHz, a boost clock of 5GHz, a 120W TDP, and 104MB of total cache. $449 Ryzen 7900X3D: 12 cores / 24 threads, with a base clock of 4.
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The Wikimedia Foundation released a statement on Friday confirming that, according to internal traffic reports, Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects are no longer accessible to users in Pakistan. The Foundation's post came two days after Pakistan's Telecommunications Authority (PTA) threatened bans if Wikipedia did not censor content it deemed "sacrilegious." The authority had issued a warning shot in the form of degraded performance of the crowdsourced encyclopaedia for 48 hours before blocking it completely. But according to the Foundation, it does not possess the power to deliver on Pakistan's demands. In its statement, the organization outlined just how Wikipedia is written: using 300,000 volunteer editors who follow guidelines and require citations and references before allowing public edits of content. "Content on Wikipedia is mined from secondary sources; it does not allow original research," said the org. "The Wikimedia Foundation does not make decisions around what content is included on Wikipedia or how that content is maintained," it added. Which is just what The Register said when we titled our first story on this incident "Hi, Pakistan? You do know anyone can edit Wikipedia, right? You don't have to ask." The Foundation's post therefore invited any individuals, organization or governments that have a problem with Wikipedia's content to share their concerns through the dedicated response channels the outfit operates. In Pakistan, the English version of Wikipedia receives over 50 million pageviews per month. Urdu language and Russian language Wikipedias are the next most popular. The Foundation described the number of editors in Pakistan who contribute historical and educational content as "sizable and engaged." "We believe that access to knowledge is a human right. A block of Wikipedia in Pakistan denies the fifth most populous nation in the world access to the largest free knowledge repository. If it continues, it will also deprive everyone access to Pakistan's history and culture," tweeted Wikimedia Foundation on Friday. Pakistan's government to agencies: Dark web is dangerous, please don't go there Indian tech minister picks a fight with Wikipedia over cricketer's dropped catch Iran blocks Whatsapp, Instagram as citizens protest death of Mahsa Amini India's Supreme Court demands government detail internet shutdown rules Internet interruption-watcher NetBlocks also confirmed the outage, noting tht Pakistan's blocks can be circumvented with a VPN. NetBlocks also noted that the move to block Wikipedia was out of character for the Pakistan government, despite its many shutdowns and bans on sites in the past. "Pakistan has frequently imposed temporary internet shutdowns during protests, however the use of filtering to pressure a major platform into compliance as in this case is relatively rare," said NetBlocks, adding that the country also does not typically issue public notices before blocking – or "filtering" – websites. The Register notes Pakistan has banned TikTok at least four times and in April 2021 Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Telegram were cut for four hours. YouT
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Microsoft's latest Windows 11 preview build has added a Spotify widget, more evidence of the software giant's increasing openness to third-party presences in its flagship OS. Widgets display dynamic content from apps and services on the tray on a user's Windows desktop. They can be manipulated in myriad ways – including pinned or unpinned, resized, and customized – and are designed to reflect the user's interests. Until recently, the bulk of the widgets for Windows 11 related to Microsoft's own apps. However, in late January the desktop OS titan announced a preview version of a widget for Meta's Messenger, an instant messaging app and platform the originally started life in 2008 at Facebook Chat. The latest philosophy is coded into the Preview Build 25284 for the Windows 11 Insider program's Dev Channel, a facility that allows developers to try features and offer feedback to Microsoft. The latest Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25290, added widgets for Spotify, the popular music and content streaming service. Microsoft's own Phone Link, an app that connects Windows 10 to Android devices, also debuts as a W11 widget. Microsoft made third party widgets possible in November 2022 when it released the Windows App Software Development Kit (SDK) 1.2 that included tools to build widgets. Now with Messenger and Spotify widgets in play, users "should expect to see additional new widgets as more developers create and release widgets for their apps," Amanda Langowski, principal product manager for the Windows Insider Program, and Brandon LeBlanc, senior program manager at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post this week. Microsoft squashes Windows 11, Server 2022 bugs with preview patches If your Start menu or apps are freezing up on Windows, Microsoft has a suggestion Microsoft: You're not out of love with cloud, you're just 'optimizing' it for a bit Microsoft took its macros and went home, so miscreants turned to Windows LNK files Developers can access the widgets on the Microsoft Store. Putting them to work might not always be trouble free. Langowski and LeBlanc wrote that Microsoft is aware of some issues related to third party widgets. Occasionally they disappear from the widgets board but can be added back by clicking "refresh" or re-pinning them from the widgets picker. Widgets can also be unintentionally unpinned if a developer uses their Microsoft account to sign-in multiple Windows 11 devices. Microsoft is also experimenting with the Start menu, despite recent tweaks irritating testers by slipping in promos for Redmond's own cloudy services. In October 2022's Preview Build 25227 2022, some developers began seeing badging on their user profile, which notified them of particular actions that they needed to take, an initial step that ended a month later. Now Microsoft is trying another tack, this time showing two new systems. Some developers in the Windows Insider program will see a relatively simple treatment listing suggestions like backing up files, change account settings, lock, and sign out. The second treatment is more detailed, with descriptions of such tasks as backing up files and th
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Asia In Breif Australia's government deliberately released personal information on citizens who protested a welfare payment debt recovery scheme that was linked to multiple suicides and later found to have no legal basis. "Robodebt" – as the scheme came to be known – calculated that hundreds of thousands of welfare recipients had been overpaid, and ordered them to repay the government. But the calculations used to determine the "debts" were flawed and the "debts" did not exist. Yet the scheme placed the onus of proof on welfare recipients, causing great distress. Some people who received debt notices therefore protested the scheme, and their efforts attracted considerable media coverage
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High times — Hundreds of cannabis-related chemicals now exist, inspiring researchers—and users.
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Elon Musk says Twitter will let bots providing “good content” access the Twitter API for free. As noted in a post on Twitter, Musk announced that the platform will enable a “light, write-only” API for eligible bots — a partial reversal of his policy that puts API access behind a paywall.After shutting down third-party clients, like Tweetbot and Twitterrific, Twitter announced last week that developers will need to sign up for a “paid basic tier” to access Twitter’s API starting on February 9th. At the time, Musk justified the move by saying that the free API is “being abused” by bot scammers and spammers, adding that an around $100 per month subscription “with ID verifi
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Getty Images Your gut has an obvious job: It processes the food you eat. But it has another important function: It protects you from the bact
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