posted about 1 hour ago on slashdot
H_Fisher writes: Only one copy exists of the Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, and it was owned by "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli. Now, NPR reports that this album has been sold by the U.S. government to an unnamed buyer in order to pay Shkreli's civil forfeiture judgment following his conviction for securities fraud. The album, which was originally sold for $2 million, exists only as one physical CD copy. It was seized along with other assets in 2018, and while the sale price and buyer weren't identified, Shkreli's attorney says that his client has now repaid the $7.4 million forfeiture judgement.

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posted about 2 hours ago on slashdot
Lucasfilm has hired the YouTuber known as Shamook, whose The Mandalorian deepfake, published in December, has earned nearly 2 million views for improving the VFX used to de-age Mark Hamill. CNET reports: "As some of you may already know, I joined ILM/Lucasfilms a few months ago and haven't had the time to work on any new YouTube content," Shamook wrote in the comment section of a recent video. "Now I've settled into my job, uploads should start increasing again. They'll still be slow, but hopefully not months apart." Shamook said in the comments that his job title is, "Senior Facial Capture Artist." Lucasfilm confirmed the new hire (via IndieWire). "[Industrial Light and Magic is] always on the lookout for talented artists and have in fact hired the artist that goes by the online persona 'Shamook,'" a Lucasfilm representative said in a statement. "Over the past several years ILM has been investing in both machine learning and A.I. as a means to produce compelling visual effects work and it's been terrific to see momentum building in this space as the technology advances." Shamook also "fixed" The Irishman too.

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posted about 3 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Google's reputation for aggressively killing products and services is hurting the company's brand. Any new product launch from Google is no longer a reason for optimism; instead, the company is met with questions about when the product will be shut down. It's a problem entirely of Google's own making, and it's yet another barrier that discourages customers from investing (either time, money, or data) in the latest Google thing. The wide public skepticism of Google Stadia is a great example of the problem. A Google division with similar issues is Google Cloud Platform, which asks companies and developers to build a product or service powered by Google's cloud infrastructure. Like the rest of Google, Cloud Platform has a reputation for instability, thanks to quickly deprecating APIs, which require any project hosted on Google's platform to be continuously updated to keep up with the latest changes. Google Cloud wants to address this issue, though, with a new "Enterprise API" designation. Enterprise APIs basically get a roadmap that promises stability for certain APIs. Google says, "The burden is on us: Our working principle is that no feature may be removed (or changed in a way that is not backwards compatible) for as long as customers are actively using it. If a deprecation or breaking change is inevitable, then the burden is on us to make the migration as effortless as possible." If Google needs to change an API, customers will now get a minimum of one year's notice, along with tools, documentation, and other materials. Google goes on to say, "To make sure we follow these tenets, any change we introduce to an API is reviewed by a centralized board of product and engineering leads and follows a rigorous product lifecycle evaluation." Despite being one of the world's largest Internet companies and basically defining what modern cloud infrastructure looks like, Google isn't doing very well in the cloud infrastructure market. Analyst firm Canalys puts Google in a distant third, with 7 percent market share, behind Microsoft Azure (19 percent) and market leader Amazon Web Services (32 percent). Rumor has it (according to a report from The Information) that Google Cloud Platform is facing a 2023 deadline to beat AWS and Microsoft, or it will risk losing funding. Ex-Googler Steve Yegge laid out the problems with Google Cloud Platform last year in a post titled "Dear Google Cloud: Your Deprecation Policy is Killing You." Google's announcement seems to hit most of what that post highlights, like a lack of documentation and support, an endless treadmill of API upgrades, and Google Cloud's general disregard for backward compatibility. Yegge argues that successful platforms like Windows, Java, and Android (a group Yegge says is isolated from the larger Google culture) owe much of their success to their commitment to platform stability. AWS is the market leader partly because it's considered a lot more stable than Google Cloud Platform.

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posted about 3 hours ago on slashdot
Tesla CEO Elon Musk sniped at Silicon Valley neighbor Apple twice during a conference call to discuss Tesla earnings on Monday. From a report: Although the companies don't compete directly today, Apple is reportedly building an electric self-driving vehicle under a project code-named Titan, and has attracted a number of engineers and executives away from Tesla. When asked about Tesla's supply chain, Musk said that there's a misperception that Tesla uses a lot of cobalt, a key material in the production of lithium-ion cells used in both smartphones and electric cars. "Apple uses I think almost 100% cobalt in their batteries and cell phones and laptops, but Tesla uses no cobalt in the iron-phosphate packs, and almost none in the nickel-based chemistries," Musk said. "On a weighted-average basis we might use 2% cobalt compared to say, Apple's 100% cobalt. Anyway, so it's just really not a factor." [...] Later in the call, Musk made a crack about Apple's so-called "walled garden," which is named because Apple strictly controls what software can be installed on the iPhone through its App Store. Apple's walled garden is facing scrutiny from lawmakers and other companies, including in an antitrust trial that took place earlier this year after it was sued by Epic Games over App Store fees and policies. "I think we do want to emphasize that our goal is to support the advent of sustainable energy," Musk said in response to a question about letting competitors use its charger network. "It is not to create a walled garden and use that to bludgeon our competitors which is used by some companies." Musk then faked a cough and said, "Apple."

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posted about 4 hours ago on slashdot
A former security supervisor at eBay received an 18-month federal prison sentence Tuesday for his role in a bizarre campaign of cyberstalking aimed at a Natick couple that ran an online newsletter often critical of the e-commerce giant, authorities said. The Boston Globe: The ex-supervisor, Philip Cooke, 56, of San Jose, Cali., had pleaded guilty in US District Court in Boston in October 2020 to conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with a witness, legal filings show. On Tuesday, prosecutors said, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison, as well as three years of supervised release including a 12-month period of home detention. He was also ordered to pay a $15,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service, according to the US attorney's office. Cooke was one of seven former eBay employees charged in connection with the stalking, which authorities said targeted Ina and David Steiner, a Natick couple who recently filed a federal lawsuit against the company and other parties linked to the harrassment. Rosemary Scapicchio, a prominent Boston attorney representing the couple in their civil suit, said via phone after Monday's hearing that her clients "were relieved" that Cooke received time behind bars, calling it "the first step in their pursuit of accountability" for all those involved. "There needs to be corporate accountability" as well, Scapicchio said.

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posted about 5 hours ago on slashdot
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance on Tuesday recommending that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings if they are in parts of the U.S. with substantial to high transmission, among other circumstances. From a report: The guidance, a reversal from recommendations made two months ago, comes as the Delta variant continues to drive up case rates across the country. Millions of people in the U.S. -- either by choice or who are ineligible -- remain unvaccinated and at risk of serious infection. Community leaders in areas with high transmission rates should encourage vaccination and masking, the agency says. In another reversal, the CDC also recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools this incoming school year, regardless of vaccination status. Los Angeles County, New Orleans, Savannah and Chicago are among the major metropolitan areas that reinstated mask mandates amid a rise in cases.

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posted about 5 hours ago on slashdot
Harvard's controversial astronomer Avi Loeb is leading a new initiative, dubbed the Galileo Project, to check Earth's skies and the rest of the solar system for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. From a report: The longtime astronomy professor, who became well-known for his belief that interstellar object Oumuamua was likely an alien probe, announced the details of his plan via a virtual press conference Monday. Officially, the initiative is described as "a transparent scientific project to advance a systematic experimental search for cross-validated evidence of potential astro-archaeological artifacts or active technical equipment made by putative existing or extinct extraterrestrial technological civilizations (ETCs)." Translation: The plan is to use a variety of telescopes to look for alien spaceships, probes or other debris left behind by intelligent beings who weren't born on Earth. "What we see in our sky is not something that politicians or military personnel should interpret because they were not trained as scientists," Loeb told reporters. "It's for the science community to figure out... based on non-governmental data that we will assemble as scientists." The first phase of the project involves setting up a network of dozens of relatively small telescopes around the globe that will attempt to capture new images of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP, the newly favored and more inclusive acronym designed to replace "UFOs").

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posted about 6 hours ago on slashdot
The lunar rovers of Apollo 15, 16 and 17 parked American automotive culture on the lunar surface, and expanded the scientific range of the missions' astronaut explorers. From a report: Dave Scott was not about to pass by an interesting rock without stopping. It was July 31, 1971, and he and Jim Irwin, his fellow Apollo 15 astronaut, were the first people to drive on the moon. After a 6-hour inaugural jaunt in the new lunar rover, the two were heading back to their lander, the Falcon, when Mr. Scott made an unscheduled pit stop. West of a crater called Rhysling, Mr. Scott scrambled out of the rover and quickly picked up a black lava rock, full of holes formed by escaping gas. Mr. Scott and Mr. Irwin had been trained in geology and knew the specimen, a vesicular rock, would be valuable to scientists on Earth. They also knew that if they asked for permission to stop and get it, clock-watching mission managers would say no. So Mr. Scott made up a story that they stopped the rover because he was fidgeting with his seatbelt. The sample was discovered when the astronauts returned to Earth, Mr. Scott described what he'd done, and "Seatbelt Rock" became one of the most prized geologic finds from Apollo 15. Like many lunar samples returned to Earth by the final Apollo missions, Seatbelt Rock never would have been collected if the astronauts had not brought a car with them. Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 are the NASA lunar missions that tend to be remembered most vividly. But at the 50th anniversary of Apollo 15, which launched on July 26, 1971, some space enthusiasts, historians and authors are giving the lunar rover its due as one of the most enduring symbols of the American moon exploration program. Foldable, durable, battery-powered and built by Boeing and General Motors, the vehicle is seen by some as making the last three missions into the crowning achievement of the Apollo era. "Every mission in the crewed space program, dating back to Alan Shepard's first flight, had been laying the groundwork for the last three Apollo missions," said Earl Swift, author of a new book about the lunar rover, "Across the Airless Wilds: The Lunar Rover and the Triumph of the Final Moon Landings. You see NASA take all of that collected wisdom, gleaned over the previous decade in space, and apply it," Mr. Swift said. "It's a much more swashbuckling kind of science."

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posted about 6 hours ago on slashdot
Facebook has announced it is forming a new Metaverse product group to advance its efforts to build a 3D social space using virtual and augmented reality tech. From a report: In an interview with journalist Casey Newton, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he sees the metaverse -- a term widely used in both tech and science fiction to describe broadly shared, open virtual environments -- as "the successor to the mobile internet." Zuckerberg also said it was "not something that any one company is going to build." Facebook's new Metaverse product group will report to Andrew Bosworth, Facebook's vice president of virtual and augmented reality, who announced the new organization in a Facebook post. Facebook's Oculus and Portal products have been first steps toward the new vision, Bosworth wrote, "but to achieve our full vision of the Metaverse, we also need to build the connective tissue between these spaces -- so you can remove the limitations of physics and move between them with the same ease as moving from one room in your home to the next."

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posted about 7 hours ago on slashdot
Dell is no longer shipping certain PCs to a handful of U.S. states that have tightened their rules and regulations around computer power consumption. From a report: The headline and "what you need to know" box already summarize this, meaning you're 99% caught up on the current situation, but there are a few specific details to go over in the event you live in Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, California, or Colorado. As reported by The Register, Dell is no longer shipping the Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 Gaming Desktop to select states in the U.S. If you attempt to place an order and ship the machines to any of the blacklisted zones, your order will be canceled. In a statement to The Register, Dell clarified the situation. "[...] This was driven by the California Energy Commission (CEC) Tier 2 implementation that defined a mandatory energy efficiency standard for PCs -- including desktops, AIOs and mobile gaming systems. This was put into effect on July 1, 2021. Select configurations of the Alienware Aurora R10 and R12 were the only impacted systems across Dell and Alienware."

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posted about 8 hours ago on slashdot
Mark Herring had a fatal heart attack after the police swarmed his house after a fake emergency call. A Tennessee man was sentenced to five years in prison in connection with the episode. From a report: Mark Herring was at home in Bethpage, Tenn., one night in April 2020 when the police swarmed his house. Someone with a British accent had called emergency services in Sumner County and reported having shot a woman in the back of the head at Mr. Herring's address. The caller had threatened to set off pipe bombs at the front and back doors if officers came, according to federal court records. When the police arrived, they drew their guns and told Mr. Herring, a 60-year-old computer programmer and grandfather of six, to come out and keep his hands visible. As he walked out, he lost his balance and fell. He was pronounced dead that same night at a nearby hospital. The cause of death was a heart attack, according to court records. Mr. Herring had been a victim of "swatting," the act of reporting a fake crime in order to provoke a heavily armed response from the police. The caller was a minor living in the United Kingdom, according to federal prosecutors. But the caller knew Mr. Herring's address because Shane Sonderman, 20, of Lauderdale County, Tenn., had posted the information online, prosecutors said. On Wednesday, Mr. Sonderman was sentenced to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. "The defendant was part of a chain of events," federal prosecutors said in court documents. The police "arrived prepared to take on a life and death situation," prosecutors said. "Mr. Herring died of a heart attack at gunpoint." Mr. Sonderman's lawyer, Bryan R. Huffman, said he had argued for a lesser sentence but believed five years "was fair in light of Shane's culpability." "Mr. Sonderman has expressed his remorse on multiple occasions. He has expressed his regret regarding Mr. Herring's death," Mr. Huffman said in an email on Saturday. "Mr. Sonderman's family had also expressed their remorse. There are many families affected by Shane's actions, including his own family." Mr. Herring was targeted because he refused to sell his Twitter handle, @Tennessee, according to his family and prosecutors. Smart, blunt and plain-spoken, Mr. Herring had loved computers since he was a teenager and joined Twitter in March 2007, less than a year after it started, his family said. He knew people wanted his handle, which he chose because of his love for the state, where he had been born and raised, and had rebuffed offers of $3,000 to $4,000 to sell it, his daughter Corinna Fitch, 37, said in an interview.

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posted about 9 hours ago on slashdot
Facebook said on Tuesday that it is temporarily halting sales of the Oculus Quest 2, a month before a planned update to a new entry-level model with more onboard storage. The move comes after several reported cases of skin reactions to the headset's included foam faceplate, the social media giant confirmed. From a report: According to a Facebook post on the issue from earlier this year, the company says a small percent of Quest 2 owners have reported the issue. But some cases reported online have sometimes been bad enough to cause faces to puff up and eyes to close. Facebook changed the manufacturing process of its foam face interfaces earlier this year, but the concerns still prompted Facebook to stopped selling the Quest 2 in coordination with the US Product Safety Commission. Facebook's adding silicone face-mask covers in future versions of the Quest 2, which will fit over the foam. Existing customers can contact Facebook for the replacement cover as well. This is happening a month before Facebook is updating the Quest 2 with more storage: a new version of the $299 Quest that goes on sale Aug. 24 will have 128GB of storage instead of 64GB. Quest 2 models will include the silicone face-cover in the box from that point onward. It's awkward timing for the move, but also looks like a chance for Facebook to replace Quest 2 stock with models that have the silicone covers.

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posted about 9 hours ago on slashdot
Google has announced a new platform and community designed to host all its Vulnerability Rewards Programs (VRP) under the same roof. From a report: Since launching its first VRP more than ten years ago, the company has rewarded 2,022 security researchers from 84 different countries worldwide for reporting over 11,000 bugs. [...] "To celebrate our anniversary and ensure the next 10 years are just as (or even more) successful and collaborative, we are excited to announce the launch of our new platform, bughunters.google.com," Google said. "This new site brings all of our VRPs (Google, Android, Abuse, Chrome and Play) closer together and provides a single intake form that makes it easier for bug hunters to submit issues." The new VRP platform should provide researchers with per-country leaderboards, healthier competition via gamification, awards/badges for specific bugs, and more opportunities for interaction. Google also launched a new Bug Hunter University, which would allow bug hunters to brush up on their skills or start a hunting learning streak.

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posted about 10 hours ago on slashdot
Intel unveiled on Tuesday a smorgasbord of new technologies designed to help it reclaim processor manufacturing leadership within four years. The plans bear the fingerprints of newly installed CEO Pat Gelsinger, who has pledged to restore the company's engineering leadership and credibility. From a report: The developments include a new push to improve the power usage of Intel chips, a key element of battery life, while simultaneously raising chip performance. The technologies involve deep redesigns to how processors are constructed. One technology, RibbonFET, fundamentally redesigns the transistor circuitry at the heart of all processors. Another, PowerVia, reimagines how electrical power is delivered to those transistors. Lastly, Intel is updating its Foveros technology for packaging chip elements from different sources into dense stacks of computing horsepower. Intel's commitments, unveiled at an online press event, will mean faster laptops with longer battery life, if realized. And the advancements could boost technologies like artificial intelligence at cloud computing companies and speed up the services on mobile phone networks. "In 2025, we think we will regain that performance crown," Sanjay Natarajan, who rejoined Intel this year to lead the company's processor technology development, said in an interview. Further reading: Intel's foundry roadmap lays out the post-nanometer "Angstrom" era.

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posted about 11 hours ago on slashdot
Tencent's WeChat has temporarily suspended registration of new users in mainland China as it undergoes a technical upgrade "to align with relevant laws and regulations," China's dominant instant messaging platform said on Tuesday. From a report: "We are currently upgrading our security technology to align with all relevant laws and regulations," the company said in a statement to Reuters. "During this time, registration of new Weixin personal and official accounts has been temporarily suspended. Registration services will be restored after the upgrade is complete, which is expected in early August," it added. Weixin is the Chinese name for WeChat. [...] China is in the process of tightening policies towards privacy and data security. It is readying a Personal Information Protection Law, which calls for tech platforms to impose stricter measures to ensure secure storage of user data.

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posted about 12 hours ago on slashdot
Valve expects that its recently announced Steam Deck portable gaming console will be able to run "really the entire Steam library" on its 1280x800 LCD screen at frame rates of 30 fps or higher. Ars Technica reports: That's according to a recent IGN video interview in which Valve Hardware Engineer Yazan Aldehayyat said that "all the games that we wanted to be playable had really good [performance], a really good experience" in Steam Deck testing. Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais expanded on that statement by saying that "all the games that we wanted to be playable" means "really the entire Steam library." "We haven't really found something we could throw at this device that it couldn't handle yet," he added. Griffais said initial prototype testing for the Steam Deck focused on older games in the Steam catalog and that there were "games that were coming out last year that just couldn't really run very well on the previous types of prototypes and architectures we were testing." On the finalized version of the hardware, though, he said the company has "achieved the level of performance that is required to run the latest generation of games without a problem." "The entire Steam catalog is available to people who have this device," Aldehayyat added. "That's where we knew we had a product that was going to deliver the experience we were looking for." Aldehayyat attributed Steam Deck's wide compatibility in part to "future-proofing" internals that include a custom APU incorporating AMD's latest generation of GPU and CPU technology, as well as 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM. Griffais added that the performance scalability of modern PC games helps Steam Deck achieve a playable frame rate at its native 800p resolution (which is relatively low compared to desktop gaming PCs). "If people are still valuing high frame rates and high resolutions on different platforms, I think that content will scale down to our 800p, 30 Hz target very well," he said. "If people start heavily favoring image quality, we might be in a position where we might have tradeoffs, but we're not in a position where we really see that yet." In a follow-up tweet late last week, Griffais clarified that the 30 fps target is the "floor" for what Valve considers playable: "games we've tested and shown have consistently met and exceeded that bar so far. There will also be an optional built-in FPS limiter to fine-tune perf[ormance] vs. battery life."

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posted about 15 hours ago on slashdot
Mogster shares a report from SciTechDaily: A one-atom-thin 2D magnet developed by Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley could advance new applications in computing and electronics. The researchers synthesized the new 2D magnet -- called a cobalt-doped van der Waals zinc-oxide magnet -- from a solution of graphene oxide, zinc, and cobalt. The new material -- which can be bent into almost any shape without breaking, and is a million times thinner than a sheet of paper -- could help advance the application of spin electronics or spintronics, a new technology that uses the orientation of an electron's spin rather than its charge to encode data. And unlike previous 2D magnets, which lose their magnetism at room temperature or above, the researchers found that the new 2D magnet not only works at room temperature but also at 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit).

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posted about 18 hours ago on slashdot
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos on Monday offered to cover billions of dollars of NASA costs in exchange for a contract to build a lunar lander to land astronauts on the moon. CNBC reports: Bezos said Blue Origin would waive all payments up to $2 billion from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the current and next two government fiscal years. Blue Origin would also fund its own pathfinder mission to low-Earth orbit, according to Bezos. In return, the company requested a fixed-priced contract from the government agency. "This offer is not a deferral, but is an outright and permanent waiver of those payments. This offer provides time for government appropriation actions to catch up," Bezos said in an open letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. NASA in April awarded Elon Musk's SpaceX with a sole $2.89 billion contract to build the next crewed lunar lander under its Human Landing Systems program. Before selecting the winner of the contest, NASA gave 10-month study contracts to SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics to begin work on lunar landers. "Instead of this single source approach, NASA should embrace its original strategy of competition," Bezos said. "Without competition, a short time into the contract, NASA will find itself with limited options as it attempts to negotiate missed deadlines, design changes, and cost overruns."

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posted about 21 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Record-shattering" heatwaves, even worse than the one that recently hit north-west America, are set to become much more likely in future, according to research. The study is a stark new warning on the rapidly escalating risks the climate emergency poses to lives. The research found that highly populated regions in North America, Europe and China were where the record-shattering extremes are most likely to occur. One illustrative heatwave produced by the computer models used in the study showed some locations in mid-northern America having temperatures 18C higher than average. The new computing modeling study [...] looked for the first time at the highest margins by which week-long heatwave records could be broken in future. It found that heatwaves that smash previous records by roughly 5C would become two to seven times more likely in the next three decades and three to 21 times more likely from 2051-2080, unless carbon emissions are immediately slashed. Such extreme heatwaves are all but impossible without global heating. The vulnerability of North America, Europe and China was striking, said Erich Fischer, at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, who led the research. "Here we see the largest jumps in record-shattering events. This is really quite worrying," he added. "Many places have by far not seen anything close to what's possible, even in present-day conditions, because only looking at the past record is really dangerous." The study also showed that record-shattering events could come in sharp bursts, rather than gradually becoming more frequent. "That is really concerning," Fischer said: "Planning for heatwaves that get 0.1C more intense every two or three years would still be very worrying, but it would be much easier to prepare for." The new research, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, concluded: "Record-shattering extremes are [currently] very rare but their expected probability increases rapidly in the coming three decades." It found the rate of global heating was critical in increasing the risk, rather than simply the global temperature reached. This indicates that sharp cuts in emissions are needed as soon as possible, rather than emissions continuing and being sucked back out of the atmosphere at a later date. The scientists used a scenario in which carbon emissions are not reduced, which some experts have argued is unrealistic, given that some climate action is being taken. However, global emissions are not yet falling, bar the blip caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the researchers argue the scenario remains relevant until CO2 emissions are consistently falling.

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posted about 23 hours ago on slashdot
Fossbytes has an article detailing how you can check to see if your mobile device is infected with the "Pegasus" spyware. What's Pegasus you ask? It's phone-penetrating spy software developed by NSO Group and sold to governments to target journalists and activists around the world. The CEO of NSO Group says law-abiding citizens have "nothing to be afraid of," but that doesn't help us sleep any better. Here's how to check if your device has been compromised (heads up: it's a bit of a technical and lengthy process): First off, you'll need to create an encrypted backup and transfer it to either a Mac or PC. You can also do this on Linux instead, but you'll have to install libimobiledevice beforehand for that. Once the phone backup is transferred, you need to download Python 3.6 (or newer) on your system -- if you don't have it already. Here's how you can install the same for Windows, macOS, and Linux. After that, go through Amnesty's manual to install MVT correctly on your system. Installing MVT will give you new utilities (mvt-ios and mvt-android) that you can use in the Python command line. Now, let's go through the steps for detecting Pegasus on an iPhone backup using MVT. First of all, you have to decrypt your data backup. To do that, you'll need to enter the following instruction format while replacing the placeholder text (marked with a forward slash) with your custom path: "mvt-ios decrypt-backup -p password -d /decrypted /backup". Note: Replace "/decrypted" with the directory where you want to store the decrypted backup and "/backup" with the directory where your encrypted backup is located. Now, we will run a scan on the decrypted backup, referencing it with the latest IOCs (possible signs of Pegasus spyware), and store the result in an output folder. To do this, first, download the newest IOCs from here (use the folder with the latest timestamp). Then, enter the instruction format as given below with your custom directory path: "mvt-ios check-backup -o /output -i /pegasus.stix2 /backup". Note: Replace "/output" with the directory where you want to store the scan result, "/backup" with the path where your decrypted backup is stored, and "/pegasus.stix2" with the path where you downloaded the latest IOCs. After the scan completion, MVT will generate JSON files in the specified output folder. If there is a JSON file with the suffix "_detected," then that means your iPhone data is most likely Pegasus-infected. However, the IOCs are regularly updated by Amnesty's team as they develop a better understanding of how Pegasus operates. So, you might want to keep running scans as the IOCs are updated to make sure there are no false positives.

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posted about 23 hours ago on slashdot
Amazon on Monday denied a media report saying the e-commerce giant was looking to accept bitcoin payments by the end of the year. Reuters reports: The report from London's City A.M. newspaper, citing an unnamed "insider," sent the world's biggest cryptocurrency up as much as 14.5% before it trimmed gains to last trade 6% higher at $37,684.04. "Notwithstanding our interest in the space, the speculation that has ensued around our specific plans for cryptocurrencies is not true," said a spokesperson from Amazon. "We remain focused on exploring what this could look like for customers shopping on Amazon." The company on July 22 posted a job opening for a digital currency and blockchain product lead. In a statement to Ars Technica, the Amazon spokesperson added: "We're inspired by the innovation happening in the cryptocurrency space and are exploring what this could look like on Amazon. We believe the future will be built on new technologies that enable modern, fast, and inexpensive payments, and hope to bring that future to Amazon customers as soon as possible."

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
In what is, at least so far, the biggest cybersecurity blunder of the Tokyo Olympics, an Italian TV announcer did not realize he was on air when he asked the password for his computer. Motherboard reports: "Do you know the password for the computer in this commentator booth?" he asked during the broadcast of the Turkey-China volleyball game, apparently not realizing he was still on air. "It was too hard to call the password Pippo? Pippo, Pluto or Topolino?" he complained, referring to the Italian names for Goofy, Pluto and Mickey Mouse. The snafu was immortalized in a video posted on Twitter by cybersecurity associate professor Stefano Zanero, who works at the Polytechnic University of Milan. A source who works at Eurosport, the channel which was broadcasting the volleyball game, confirmed that the video is authentic. A colleague of the announcer can be heard in the background saying the password depends on the Olympics organizers, and asking the announcer if it's on a paper or post it close-by. Turns out the password was "Booth.03" after the number of the commentator's booth. "Even the dot to make it more complicated, as if it was NASA's computer," he said on the air. "Next time they will even put a semicolon." "Ma porca miseria," he concluded, using a popular italian swearing that literally means "pork's misery" but is more accurately translated to "for god's sake."

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: A U.S. probe into Tether is homing in on whether executives behind the digital token committed bank fraud, a potential criminal case that would have broad implications for the cryptocurrency market. Tether's pivotal role in the crypto ecosystem is now well known because the token is widely used to trade Bitcoin. But the Justice Department investigation is focused on conduct that occurred years ago, when Tether was in its more nascent stages. Specifically, federal prosecutors are scrutinizing whether Tether concealed from banks that transactions were linked to crypto [...]. Criminal charges would mark one of the most significant developments in the U.S. government's crackdown on virtual currencies. That's because Tether is by far the most popular stablecoin -- tokens designed to be immune to wild price swings, making them ideal for buying and selling more volatile coins. The token's importance to the market is clear: Tethers in circulation are worth about $62 billion and they underpin more than half of all Bitcoin trades. Federal prosecutors have been circling Tether since at least 2018. In recent months, they sent letters to individuals alerting them that they're targets of the investigation, one of the people said. The notices signal that a decision on whether to bring a case could be made soon, with senior Justice Department officials ultimately determining whether charges are warranted. A hallmark of Tether is that its creators have said each token is backed by one U.S. dollar, either through actual money or holdings that include commercial paper, corporate bonds and precious metals. That has triggered concerns that if lots of traders sold stable coins all at once, there could be a run on assets backstopping the tokens. Fitch Ratings has warned that such a scenario could destabilize short-term credit markets. In the course of its years-long investigation, the Justice Department has examined whether traders used Tether tokens to illegally drive up Bitcoin during an epic rally for cryptocurrencies in 2017. While it's unclear whether Tether the company was a target of that earlier review, the current focus on bank fraud suggests prosecutors may have moved on from pursuing a case tied to market manipulation. [...] Tether has already drawn the ire of regulators. In February, Bitfinex and several Tether affiliates agreed to pay $18.5 million to settle claims from New York Attorney General Letitia James that the firms hid losses and lied that each token was supported by one U.S. dollar. The companies had no access to banking in 2017, making it impossible that they had reserves backing the tokens, James said. The firms settled without admitting or denying the allegations.

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Google has updated the schedule for its introduction of "Privacy Sandbox" browser technology and the phasing out of third-party cookies. The Register reports: The new timeline has split the bundle of technologies in the Privacy Sandbox into five phases: discussion, testing, implementation in Chrome (called "Ready for adoption"), Transition State 1 during which Chrome will "monitor adoption and feedback" and then the next stage that involves winding down support for third-party cookies over a three-month period finishing "late 2023." Although "late 2023" might sound a long way off, the timeline has revealed that "discussion" of the contentious FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) is planned to end in Q3 2021 -- just a couple of months away -- and that discussion for First Party Sets, rejected by the W3C Technical Architecture Group as "harmful to the web in its current form," is scheduled to end around mid-November. Google said that "extended discussions and testing stages often produce better, more complete solutions, and the timeline for testing and ready for adoption of use cases might change accordingly," so the dates are not set in stone. There is no suggestion that any of the proposals will be withdrawn; the company appears to believe it can alleviate concerns by tweaking rather than abandoning its proposals. Discussion of the various pieces is set to take place in the W3C Web Incubator Community Group (WICG), though at a FLEDGE WICG Call last week, Google's Michael Kleber, tech lead for Privacy Sandbox, suggested that the W3C would not be deciding which technologies are implemented, at least in the context of FLEDGE (formerly TURTLEDOVE), which enables auctions for personalized ads in a more private manner than today. FLEDGE is competing for attention with the Microsoft-devised PARAKEET and MaCAW. Asked by Julien Delhommeau, staff system architect at adtech company Xandr, if the WICG would get a say in whether FLEDGE or PARAKEET/MaCAW would be adopted, Kleber said: "The W3C doesn't get to be the boss of anyone, the decisions are going to be made at each of the browsers. The goal isn't to have one winner and everyone else losing -- the goal of W3C is to put out a bunch of ideas, understand the positives of each, and come to a chimera that has the most necessary features. Every browser seems to want convergence, long term, so figuring out how to make convergence happen is important." [...] According to Kleber, when asked if personalized advertising could be removed from the web, he said "while most of the sites in the world would lose 50-70 per cent of their revenue in the alternative you're advocating for, Google is not one of them." He made this claim on the basis that "Google makes most of its money from the ads that appear on Google Search," which do not require tracking technology.

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If funded, a government program costing several billion dollars could develop "prototype" vaccines to protect against 20 families of viruses. From a report: In one sense, the world got lucky with the new coronavirus. By sheer chance, scientists just happened to have spent years studying coronaviruses, developing exactly the tools needed to make Covid vaccines as soon as the virus's genetic sequence was published. But what will happen if the next pandemic comes from a virus that causes Lassa fever, or from the Sudan strain of Ebola, or from a Nipah virus? Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is promoting an ambitious and expensive plan to prepare for such nightmare scenarios. It would cost "a few billion dollars" a year, take five years for the first crop of results and engage a huge cadre of scientists, he said. The idea is to make "prototype" vaccines to protect against viruses from about 20 families that might spark a new pandemic. Using research tools that proved successful for Covid-19, researchers would uncover the molecular structure of each virus, learn where antibodies must strike it, and how to prod the body into making exactly those antibodies. âoeIf we get the funding, which I believe we will, it likely will start in 2022,â Dr. Fauci said, adding that he has been promoting the idea âoein discussions with the White House and others.â Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, also thought it likely that the necessary funds would be allocated, calling the project "compelling." "As we begin to contemplate a successful end to the Covid-19 pandemic, we must not shift back into complacency," Dr. Collins said. Much of the financial support would come from Dr. Fauci's institute, but a project of this scope would require additional funds that would have to be allocated by Congress. This year's budget for the infectious diseases institute is a little over $6 billion. Dr. Fauci did not specify how much additional money would be needed. If surveillance networks detected a new virus spilling over from animals into people, the logic goes, scientists could stop it by immunizing people in the outbreak by quickly manufacturing the prototype vaccine. And if the virus spread before the world realized what was happening, the prototype vaccines could be deployed more widely.

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