posted less than an hour ago on slashdot
There's 29 hours left in a Kickstarter campaign to fund "an open source, Linux-based, highly modular, customizable portable computer kit that accommodates anything from a Raspberry Pi to a Ryzen x86 4x4 single-board computer and more," writes READY!100: Reminiscent of 1980s executive portable computers, the READY! 100 is fully modern with 12 input output ports and 4 antenna ports. Perfect for hackers, ham radio operators, and audio/video folks, it can even be used with external graphics cards. Engadget hailed it as "a Raspberry Pi enclosure for cyberpunk enthusiasts." Thanks to their diminutive size and low-power consumption, single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi can come in all shapes and sizes. We've seen DIY enthusiasts like Guy Dupont put a $10 Raspberry Pi Zero W into the shell of a 2004 iPod Classic to create a device that can access Spotify. But few are as cool as this recent Kickstarter project we spotted from a Toronto-based company called Ready! Computer Corporation. The company's Ready! Model 100 is essentially a case for your single-board computer that includes a mechanical keyboard, stereo speakers, a touchscreen display and enough I/O ports to connect almost anything you need. The enclosure allows you to fit an SBC that's about the size of a 4x4 Intel NUC board. Oh, and you can carry it around with a guitar strap. Basically, it allows you to build the cyberdeck of your dreams.

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posted about 2 hours ago on slashdot
Brave Browser had a privacy issue that leaked the Tor onion URL addresses you visited to your locally configured DNS server, "exposing the dark web websites you visit...", writes Bleeping Computer. Long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo quotes their report: To access Tor onion URLs, Brave added a "Private Window with Tor" mode that acts as a proxy to the Tor network. When you attempt to connect to an onion URL, your request is proxied through volunteer-run Tor nodes who make the request for you and send back the returned HTML. Due to this proxy implementation, Brave's Tor mode does not directly provide the same level of privacy as using the Tor Browser. When using Brave's Tor mode, it should forward all requests to the Tor proxies and not send any information to any non-Tor Internet devices to increase privacy. However, a bug in Brave's "Private window with Tor" mode is causing the onion URL for any Tor address you visit to also be sent as a standard DNS query to your machine's configured DNS server. This bug was first reported in a Reddit post and later confirmed by James Kettle, the Director of Research at PortSwigger. BleepingComputer has also verified the claims by using Wireshark to view DNS traffic while using Brave's Tor mode. Brave has since released an update which fixes the bug.

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posted about 3 hours ago on slashdot
"Current and former top executives at SolarWinds are blaming a company intern for a critical lapse in password security that apparently went undiagnosed for years," reports CNN. The password in question, "solarwinds123," was discovered in 2019 on the public internet by an independent security researcher who warned the company that the leak had exposed a SolarWinds file server... It is still unclear what role, if any, the leaked password may have played in enabling suspected Russian hackers to spy on multiple federal agencies and businesses in one of the most serious security breaches in U.S. history. Stolen credentials are one of three possible avenues of attack SolarWinds is investigating as it tries to uncover how it was first compromised by the hackers, who went on to hide malicious code in software updates that SolarWinds then pushed to some 18,000 customers, including numerous federal agencies. Other theories SolarWinds is exploring, said SolarWinds CEO Sudhakar Ramakrishna, include the brute-force guessing of company passwords, as well as the possibility the hackers could have entered via compromised third-party software. Confronted by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, former SolarWinds CEO Kevin Thompson said the password issue was "a mistake that an intern made... They violated our password policies and they posted that password on an internal, on their own private Github account," Thompson said. "As soon as it was identified and brought to the attention of my security team, they took that down...." Ramakrishna later testified that the password had been in use as early as 2017... That timeframe is considerably longer than what had been reported. The remarks were made at a hearing of a House security committee, where Representative Katie Porter also strongly criticized the company. "I've got a stronger password than 'solarwinds123' to stop my kids from watching too much YouTube on their iPad! You and your company were supposed to be preventing the Russians from reading Defense Department emails!" CNN also reports that Microsoft (which is leading the forensic investigation into the breach) "later said there is no evidence that the Pentagon was actually affected by the Russian spying campaign."

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posted about 4 hours ago on slashdot
"People may scream at me for saying this, but net neutrality is one of America's longest and now most pointless fights over technology." So argues the New York Times "On Tech" newsletter author Shira Ovide, calling the debate "a distraction for our elected leaders and corporations when there are more pressing issues." Ovide also shares their discussion with Times technology and regulatory policy reporter Cecila Kang: Kang: You can see the appeal of rules that make sure internet providers don't stall web traffic unless it's from their preferred business partners or their own streaming services. However, the debate feels much less urgent now that we're talking about threats of online disinformation about vaccine deployment and elections. The net neutrality debate focused on internet service providers as powerful gatekeepers of internet information. That term now seems better applied to Facebook, Google and Amazon.... Ovide: Internet providers, public interest groups, some tech companies and a bunch of our elected leaders have been screaming holy war about an issue for 13 years without a resolution. Can they reach a middle ground and we'll all move on? Kang: There probably isn't much of a middle ground. There are either net neutrality rules or there aren't. And the internet service providers see net neutrality as a slippery slope that leads to broader regulation of high-speed internet services or government-imposed limits on prices they can charge. They will fight any regulation. And that's true, too, of the lobbyists who are hired to argue against anything.

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posted about 4 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: NASA's Perseverence rover, which is currently exploring Mars, has as it's CPU a BAE Systems RAD 750 running at a 200 Mhz and featuring 256 Megabytes of RAM with 2 Gigabytes of storage. This is a radiation hardened version of the PowerPC G3, with specs roughly equivalent to the Clamshell Ibook that Reese Witherspoon used in Legally Blond back in 2001. This follows a tradition of old tech on space rovers — the Sojourner rover which explored Mars in 1997 used an Intel 80C85 running at 2 Mhz, similar to what could have been found in the classic Radio Shack TRS-80 model 100 portable from 1983. In a comment on the original submission, long-time Slashdot reader Mal-2 argues "There's not as much distance between the actual capabilities of a CPU now and twenty years ago as there would be if you made the same comparison a decade ago." In the last 12 years or so, the CPUs have gotten more efficient and cooler-running (thus suitable for portable devices) to a much greater degree than they've actually gained new functionality. Retro computing is either going to stay stuck in the 1990s, or it's not going to be very interesting in the future.

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posted about 5 hours ago on slashdot
"The huge parachute used by NASA's Perseverance rover to land on Mars contained a secret message," reports the Associated Press — thanks to the rover's puzzle-loving systems engineer Ian Clark. "During a live stream discussing the landing, one Nasa commentator said: 'Sometimes we leave messages in our work for others to find. So we invite you all to give it a shot and show your work,'" reports the Guardian. One Reddit user actually deciphered the message using Python code. Long-time Slashdot reader rufey writes that "Decoded the slogan is 'Dare Mighty Things' — a line from President Theodore Roosevelt — which is a mantra at JPL and adorns many of the center's walls." The orange sections of the 70-foot (21-meter) parachute represented ones in binary code, while the yellow sections represented zeroes. (So the letter "A" becomes yellow-yellow-yellow-yellow-yellow-yellow-orange...) The Associated Press reports: Clark also included the GPS coordinates for the mission's headquarters at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Clark, a crossword hobbyist, came up with the idea two years ago. Engineers wanted an unusual pattern in the nylon fabric to know how the parachute was oriented during descent. Turning it into a secret message was "super fun," he said Tuesday. Only about six people knew about the encoded message before Thursday's landing, according to Clark. They waited until the parachute images came back before putting out a teaser during a televised news conference Monday... Another added touch not widely known until touchdown: Perseverance bears a plaque depicting all five of NASA's Mars rovers in increasing size over the years — similar to the family car decals seen on Earth. Deputy project manager Matt Wallace promises more so-called hidden Easter eggs... The official Twitter feed for the rover has already revealed that it's carrying another message hidden in a plaque with a logo of the sun — "Explore as One," written in Morse code. Some other interesting facts about the rover: NASA points out that Perseverance carried a special placard with 10,932,295 names, "stenciled by electron beam onto three fingernail-sized silicon chips." Space.com notes that it also carried a small aluminum plate honoring the healthcare workers of the world. NASA is encouraging children to code their own version of the helicopter using the visual programming language Scratch.

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posted about 6 hours ago on slashdot
ZDNet reports: Scientists from quantum computing company D-Wave have demonstrated that, using a method called quantum annealing, they could simulate some materials up to three million times faster than it would take with corresponding classical methods. Together with researchers from Google, the scientists set out to measure the speed of simulation in one of D-Wave's quantum annealing processors, and found that performance increased with both simulation size and problem difficulty, to reach a million-fold speedup over what could be achieved with a classical CPU... The calculation that D-Wave and Google's teams tackled is a real-world problem; in fact, it has already been resolved by the 2016 winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics, Vadim Berezinskii, J. Michael Kosterlitz and David Thouless, who studied the behavior of so-called "exotic magnetism", which occurs in quantum magnetic systems.... Instead of proving quantum supremacy, which happens when a quantum computer runs a calculation that is impossible to resolve with classical means, D-Wave's latest research demonstrates that the company's quantum annealing processors can lead to a computational performance advantage... "What we see is a huge benefit in absolute terms," said Andrew King, director of performance research at D-Wave. "This simulation is a real problem that scientists have already attacked using the algorithms we compared against, marking a significant milestone and an important foundation for future development. This wouldn't have been possible today without D-Wave's lower noise processor." Equally as significant as the performance milestone, said D-Wave's team, is the fact that the quantum annealing processors were used to run a practical application, instead of a proof-of-concept or an engineered, synthetic problem with little real-world relevance. Until now, quantum methods have mostly been leveraged to prove that the technology has the potential to solve practical problems, and is yet to make tangible marks in the real world. Looking ahead to the future, long-time Slashdot reader schwit1 asks, "Is this is bad news for encryption that depends on brute-force calculations being prohibitively difficult?"

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posted about 7 hours ago on slashdot
Results were announced this week for the fourth "official annual Python Developers Survey" of over 28,000 developers (in nearly 200 countries) conducted by the Python Software Foundation and JetBrains. 85% of the survey respondents use Python as their main programming language, InfoWorld reports: Python developers cite simplicity and ease of use as principal reasons for using the language, but they still want capabilities such as static typing and performance improvements, based on survey results released this week. Python's simple syntax, syntactic sugar, and ease of learning were the most-favored features, capturing 37% of respondents, who were asked which three features they liked the most... Which three features would Python developers most like to see added to the language? Static typing and strict type hinting proved to be the most-desired features, with 21% of respondents, closely followed by performance improvements, with 20%. Better concurrency and parallelism came in third, with 15% saying they were their most-desired capabilities. InfoWorld also describes some other interesting results: "JavaScript was the most popular language used in conjunction with Python, with about 42% of respondents using both together. 75% of web developers said they were using both Python and JavaScript." "Just 8% of Python developers performing data-related tasks do not use any additional languages while only 3% of web developers use only Python." "Use of Python 3 has grown from 75% in 2017 to 94% in 2020."

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posted about 7 hours ago on slashdot
Slashdot reader Finuz writes: Offensive Security has released Kali Linux 2021.1, the latest version of its popular open source penetration testing platform. You can download it or upgrade to it. Kali NetHunter, the distro's mobile pentesting platform, now has an upgraded BusyBox engine and tools updated to the latest version (or, in some cases, completely rewritten). There are two new Kali ARM images: one that can be used with VMs on Apple Silicon Macs (Apple M1) and the other for the Raspberry Pi 400's wireless card.

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posted about 8 hours ago on slashdot
ZDNet brings an update about the future of Red Hat Enterprise Linux: When Red Hat, CentOS's Linux parent company, announced it was "shifting focus from CentOS Linux, the rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), to CentOS Stream," CentOS users were not happy. Now, in an effort to mollify them and to keep its promise to open-source organizations, Red Hat is introducing a new, free RHEL for Open Source Infrastructure. If your non-profit organization, project, standard body, or foundation is "engaged with open source," you can get a free RHEL subscription via this program. Earlier this year, Red Hat introduced no-cost RHEL for small production workloads and for customer development teams... Jason Brooks, a Red Hat Open Source Program Office Manager explained: Supporting the open-source software ecosystem is a core objective for Red Hat... We know that we are part of a larger, interdependent ecosystem that we benefit from and which we do our best to foster and support. This support comes in many forms, but often includes helping open source software projects, foundations, and standards bodies access enterprise technologies for development and testing. We frequently provide no-cost access to RHEL to these groups, but the process isn't as formalized, consistent, accessible, or transparent as we'd like it to be. With the announcement that we will be shifting our resources to CentOS Stream at the end of 2021, we want to make sure that those organizations engaged with open source have access to RHEL as they build and test the future of open-source software... The GNOME Foundation's executive director Neil McGovern, said: As a non-profit, we rely on donations to help us achieve our goal of a world where everyone is empowered by technology they can trust. RHEL subscriptions are an essential part of this. With full operating system management and security updates, we can concentrate on the services we provide to GNOME users and developers without having to worry about the underlying systems. Red Hat has generously provided these services to GNOME at zero cost for years, and we look forward to continuing our relationship for a long time to come. GNOME is also the default desktop in RHEL Workstation.

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posted about 9 hours ago on slashdot
California-based Aptera Motors "is rolling out the first mass-produced solar car this year," reports the Washington Post, after successfully crowdfunding a restart of their development effort: It's a three-wheel, ultra-aerodynamic electric vehicle covered in 34 square feet of solar cells. The car is so efficient that, on a clear day, those cells alone could provide enough energy to drive about 40 miles — more than twice the distance of the average American's commute. The Aptera must undergo safety tests before the company can begin distribution, which it hopes to do by the end of this year. Even then, it's not clear that consumers will want to buy something that looks like a cross between the Batmobile and a beetle. The shadow of an initial attempt, which ended in bankruptcy, hangs over the founders as they gear up to launch their new product. But the Aptera's creators, Chris Anthony and Steve Fambro, think the world needs a car like theirs. Transportation is the largest source of planet-warming pollution in the United States. The Biden administration has made it a priority to reduce vehicle emissions, and several major automakers have pledged to phase out cars and light trucks with internal combustion engines. After years of dreaming, maybe the time for driving on sunshine is finally here. The Post also reports that 7,500 people have already put down a deposit for the two-seater car (which retails for $25,900). It can be charged just by plugging it into an electric outlet, the Post notes, while its creators claim that their car is four times more efficient than the average electric vehicle. "At least 90% of the power produced by the Aptera's solar panels goes toward making the vehicle move, the company says." "Its extreme efficiency means the car can go 150 miles after just 15 minutes at an ordinary charging station."

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posted about 13 hours ago on slashdot
Jamaica's JamCOVID app and website were taken offline late on Thursday following a third security lapse, which exposed quarantine orders on more than half a million travelers to the island. From a report: JamCOVID was set up last year to help the government process travelers arriving on the island. Quarantine orders are issued by the Jamaican Ministry of Health and instruct travelers to stay in their accommodation for two weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These orders contain the traveler's name and the address of where they are ordered to stay. But a security researcher told TechCrunch that the quarantine orders were publicly accessible from the JamCOVID website but were not protected with a password. Although the files were accessible from anyone's web browser, the researcher asked not to be named for fear of legal repercussions from the Jamaican government. More than 500,000 quarantine orders were exposed, some dating back to March 2020. TechCrunch shared these details with the Jamaica Gleaner, which was first to report on the security lapse after the news outlet verified the data spillage with local cybersecurity experts. Amber Group, which was contracted to build and maintain the JamCOVID coronavirus dashboard and immigration service, pulled the service offline a short time after TechCrunch and the Jamaica Gleaner contacted the company on Thursday evening. JamCOVID's website was replaced with a holding page that said the site was "under maintenance." At the time of publication, the site had returned.

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posted about 15 hours ago on slashdot
Parts of Brazil's Amazon rainforest are being illegally sold on Facebook, the BBC is reporting. From the report: The protected areas include national forests and land reserved for indigenous peoples. Some of the plots listed via Facebook's classified ads service are as large as 1,000 football pitches. Facebook said it was "ready to work with local authorities", but indicated it would not take independent action of its own to halt the trade. "Our commerce policies require buyers and sellers to comply with laws and regulations," the Californian tech firm added. The leader of one of the indigenous communities affected has urged the tech firm to do more. And campaigners have claimed the country's government is unwilling to halt the sales. "The land invaders feel very empowered to the point that they are not ashamed of going on Facebook to make illegal land deals," said Ivaneide Bandeira, head of environmental NGO Kaninde.

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posted about 19 hours ago on slashdot
The tech giant likes to test and tweak. Stadia promised to change the industry and failed to deliver. From a report: Google's streaming video game service Stadia had ambitious plans to disrupt the gaming industry, which is dominated by consoles. The tech giant had planned to pack Stadia with original content, announcing two years ago that it was hiring hundreds of game developers and starting studios in Los Angeles and Montreal. But those teams barely had time to get started before they were dismissed earlier this month as Google shut down in-house game development. From the beginning, Google's approach to video games wasn't very Google-like. The Alphabet company tends to launch bare-bones products and test them as they grow. With Stadia, it came out big. Flashy press conferences and ad campaigns promised high-quality games with innovative features playable on Android smartphones or on the TV through Chromecast. Gamers would have access to a library of exclusive titles and well-known favorites like Assassin's Creed without having to dish out $500 for Sony Corp's PlayStation or Microsoft's Xbox. So when Stadia launched in 2019, gamers were expecting the complete package, not the beta model. While the cloud streaming technology was there, playing to Google's strengths, the library of games was underwhelming and many of the promised features nonexistent. Other platforms offer hundreds of games a year, but Stadia offers fewer than 80, according to Mat Piscatella, an analyst at the NPD Group, which tracks video game sales data. Players also didn't like Stadia's business model, which required customers to buy games individually rather than subscribe to an all-you-can-play service a la Netflix or the Xbox's Game Pass. Paying as much as $60 for a single game, for it only to exist on Google's servers rather than on your own PC, seemed a stretch to some. After all the hype, gamers were disappointed. Stadia missed its targets for sales of controllers and monthly active users by hundreds of thousands, according to two people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. A Google spokesperson declined to comment for this story. "I think it would be fair to say the messaging leading up to and around the launch was inconsistent," with the final product, Piscatella says. Further reading: Stadia Leadership Praised Development Studios For 'Great Progress' Just One Week Before Laying Them All Off.

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posted about 20 hours ago on slashdot
The U.S. has dropped a key demand in negotiations over digital taxation of technology companies such as Alphabet's Google and Facebook, lifting a barrier that had raised transatlantic trade tensions and prevented an international deal. From a report: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told her counterparts at a virtual meeting of Group of 20 finance officials that the U.S. is no longer calling for a so-called safe harbor rule that would allow U.S. companies to opt out of paying such a tax overseas, according to a Treasury spokeswoman. Yellen said the U.S. will now engage robustly in negotiations on both that issue and on a global minimum tax, the spokeswoman said. The talks between around 140 countries on how to overhaul tax rules stumbled last year when Donald Trump's administration demanded there should be a safe harbor regime. Most other countries said they couldn't accept such optionality on paying tax. "Today we saw a strong tailwind for a fair taxation of the large digital corporations," German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said. "My U.S. colleague Janet Yellen declared today at the G20 finance ministers that the U.S. will join in." There is still some distance to go to get a global deal on digital tax. Beyond the issue of safe harbor, the U.S. and Europe have long been at odds over the scope of any new rules. There are also outstanding issues over the amount of profit to be reallocated to different jurisdictions and how to ensure and enforce tax certainty.

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posted about 21 hours ago on slashdot
Apple has added iPhone and MacBook repairability scores to its online store in France to comply with a new French law that came into effect this year. From a report: MacGeneration reports that the rating takes into account features like how easily a device can be disassembled and the availability of repair manuals and spare parts. Links to each product's final score, with details for how they were calculated, are available on this support page. The ratings for Apple's products vary between products and generations. Its iPhone 12 lineup all have scores of six out of 10 for example, while the previous year's iPhone 11s are rated lower at between 4.5 and 4.6. The improvement, according to the detailed scoring assessment, is due to the newer iPhones being easier to dismantle than the previous year's models, and spare parts being cheaper compared to the cost of the phone itself. There's less of a spread between the company's different MacBook models, whose scores range from 5.6 to 7.

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posted about 23 hours ago on slashdot
John Gruber, writing at DaringFireball: In my piece yesterday about email tracking images ("spy pixels" or "spy trackers"), I complained about the fact that Apple -- a company that rightfully prides itself for its numerous features protecting user privacy -- offers no built-in defenses for email tracking. A slew of readers wrote to argue that Apple Mail does offer such a feature: the option not to load any remote resources at all. It's a setting for Mail on both Mac and iOS, and I know about it -- I've had it enabled for years. But this is a throwing-the-baby-out-with-bath-water approach. What Hey offers -- by default -- is the ability to load regular images automatically, so your messages look "right", but block all known images from tracking sources (which are generally 1 x 1 px invisible GIFs). Typical users are never going to enable Mail's option not to load remote content. It renders nearly all marketing messages and newsletters as weird-looking at best, unreadable at worst. And when you get a message whose images you do want to see, when you tell Mail to load them, it loads all of them -- including trackers. Apple Mail has no knowledge of spy trackers at all, just an all-or-nothing ability to turn off all remote images and load them manually. Mail's "Load remote content in messages" option is a great solution to bandwidth problems -- remember to turn it on the next time you're using Wi-Fi on an airplane, for example. It's a terrible solution to tracking. No one would call it a good solution to tracking if Safari's only defense were an option not to load any images at all until you manually click a button in each tab to load them all. But that's exactly what Apple offers with Mail. "Don't get me started on how predictable this entire privacy disaster was, once we lost the war over whether email messages should be plain text only or could contain embedded HTML. Effectively all email clients are web browsers now, yet don't have any of the privacy protection features actual browsers do," he adds.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
The Federal Communications Commission has approved final rules for a new broadband subsidy program that could help struggling families pay for internet service during the pandemic. From a report: The agency's $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides eligible low-income households with up to a $50 per month credit on their internet bills through their provider until the end of the pandemic. In tribal areas, eligible households may receive up to $75 per month. The program also provides eligible households up to $100 off of one computer or tablet The congressionally created program is aimed at closing the digital divide, which has become painfully apparent over the past year as millions of Americans have been forced to work and learn remotely. Some have also raised concerns that the digital divide could affect access to the vaccine as signups typically happen online.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
Best Buy said it laid off 5,000 workers this month and is planning to close more stores this year as more consumers buy electronics online. From a report: The news comes at a time when big chains face growing competition from Amazon and other sites that sell items like TVs and laptops. Fry's Electronics said Wednesday that it would abruptly close all of its stores overnight, ending nearly four-decades in business. Best Buy expects 40% of its sales to come from online purchases this year, up from 19% two years ago, and the company said it needed to alter its workforce in response to this shift. CEO Corie Barry told analysts Thursday that starting earlier this month, Best Buy had been adjusting the mix of full-time and part-time employees in stores, due to "having too many full-time and not enough part-time employees." As a result of this reorganization, Best Buy laid off 5,000 employees, the majority of whom worked full-time. It also said it is adding approximately 2,000 new part-time positions. Best Buy has around 102,000 employees.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
In the first peer-reviewed article that systematically deconstructs Zoom fatigue from a psychological perspective, published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behavior on Feb. 23, Professor Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL), has taken the medium apart and assessed Zoom on its individual technical aspects. He has identified four consequences of prolonged video chats that he says contribute to the feeling commonly known as "Zoom fatigue." Below are four primary reasons why video chats fatigue humans, according to the study: 1. Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense. 2. Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing. 3. Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility. 4. The cognitive load is much higher in video chats. The article also offers solutions to alleviate the fatigues.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
A US intelligence report has found that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the murder of exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. BBC: The declassified report released by the Biden administration says the prince approved a plan to either capture or kill the US-based Saudi exile. It is the first time America has publicly named the crown prince, who denies ordering the death. Khashoggi was murdered while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He had been known for his criticism of the Saudi authorities. "We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the report by the office of the US director of national intelligence says. From our earlier coverage of Khashoggi: Silicon Valley's Saudi Arabia Problem (2018) Uber CEO Calls Saudi Murder of Khashoggi 'a Mistake', Scrambles To Backtrack (2019) Amazon Boss Jeff Bezos' Phone 'Hacked By Saudi Crown Prince' (2020) UN Calls For Investigation Into Saudi Crown Prince's Alleged Involvement in Bezos Phone Hack (2020).

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader shares a PopularMechanics report: An American Airlines flight crew encountered an unidentified flying object over New Mexico on February 21. American Airlines has confirmed the strange incident, during which a "long, cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile" zipped over the Airbus A320, according to a pilot's transmission obtained by The War Zone. American Airlines Flight 2292 was en route from Cincinnati to Phoenix on Sunday afternoon when it came into contact with the mysterious object at approximately 37,000 feet over northeastern New Mexico. Radio interceptor Steve Douglass captured Flight 2292's transmission on the Albuquerque Center frequency of 127.850 MHz or 134.750 MHz. In the transmission, which you can hear here, the American Airlines pilot reported: "Do you have any targets up here? We just had something go right over the top of us. I hate to say this, but it looked like a long, cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing -- moving really fast right over the top of us." Albuquerque Center didn't respond to the pilot's report because local air traffic interfered, Douglass wrote on his blog, Deep Black Horizon. American Airlines Flight 2292 safely landed in Phoenix shortly after the encounter. American Airlines later confirmed with The War Zone the validity of the transmission: "Following a debrief with our Flight Crew and additional information received, we can confirm this radio transmission was from American Airlines Flight 2292 on Feb. 21. For any additional questions on this, we encourage you to reach out to the FBI."When TMZ reached out to the FBI, spokesperson Frank Fisher said the Bureau is "aware of the reported incident." He continued: "While our policy is to neither confirm nor deny investigations, the FBI works continuously with our federal, state, local, and tribal partners to share intelligence and protect the public." The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also released a short statement confirming the encounter: A pilot reported seeing an object over New Mexico shortly after noon local time on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. FAA air traffic controllers did not see any object in the area on their radarscopes.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
In the 10 years since Chris Torres created Nyan Cat, an animated flying cat with a Pop-Tart body leaving a rainbow trail, the meme has been viewed and shared across the web hundreds of millions of times. On Thursday, he put a one-of-a-kind version of it up for sale on Foundation, a website for buying and selling digital goods. In the final hour of the auction, there was a bidding war. Nyan Cat was sold to a user identified only by a cryptocurrency wallet number. The price? Roughly $580,000. From a report: Mr. Torres was left breathless. "I feel like I've opened the floodgates," he said in an interview on Friday. The sale was a new high point in a fast-growing market for ownership rights to digital art, ephemera and media called NFTs, or "nonfungible tokens." The buyers are usually not acquiring copyrights, trademarks or even the sole ownership of whatever it is they purchase. They're buying bragging rights and the knowledge that their copy is the "authentic" one. Other digital tokens recently sold include a clip of LeBron James blocking a shot in a Lakers basketball game that went for $100,000 in January and a Twitter post by Mark Cuban, the investor and Dallas Mavericks owner, that went for $952. This month, the actress Lindsay Lohan sold an image of her face for over $17,000 and, in a nod to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, declared, "I believe in a world which is financially decentralized." It was quickly resold for $57,000. People have long attached emotional and aesthetic value to physical goods, like fine art or baseball cards, and have been willing to pay a lot of money for them. But digital media has not had the same value because it can be easily copied, shared and stolen. Blockchain technology, which is most often associated with Bitcoin, is changing that. NFTs rely on the technology to designate an official copy of a piece of digital media, allowing artists, musicians, influencers and sports franchises to make money selling digital goods that would otherwise be cheap or free. In an NFT sale, all the computers hooked into a cryptocurrency network record the transaction on a shared ledger, a blockchain, making it part of a permanent public record and serving as a sort of certification of authenticity that cannot be altered or erased. The nascent market for these items reflects a notable, technologically savvy move by creators of digital content to connect financially with their audience and eliminate middlemen. Some NFT buyers are collectors and fans who show off what they have bought on social media or screens around their homes. Others are trying to make a quick buck as cryptocurrency prices surge. Many see it as a form of entertainment that mixes gambling, sports card collecting, investing and day trading. Eye-popping NFT sale prices have attracted some of the same confusion and derision that have long haunted the cryptocurrency world, which has struggled to find a good use for its technology beyond currency trading.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
President Joe Biden has lifted a freeze on green cards issued by his predecessor during the pandemic that lawyers said was blocking most legal immigration to the United States. From a report: Former President Donald Trump last spring halted the issuance of green cards until the end of 2020 in the name of protecting the coronavirus-wracked job market -- a reason that Trump gave to achieve many of the cuts to legal immigration that had eluded him before the pandemic. Trump on Dec. 31 extended those orders until the end of March. Trump had deemed immigrants a "risk to the U.S. labor market" and blocked their entry to the United States in issuing Proclamation 10014 and Proclamation 10052. Biden stated in his proclamation Wednesday that shutting the door on legal immigrants "does not advance the interests of the United States." "To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here. It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world," Biden stated in his proclamation. Most immigrant visas were blocked by the orders, according to immigration lawyers. As many as 120,000 family-based preference visas were lost largely because of the pandemic-related freeze in the 2020 budget year, according to the American Immigrant Lawyers Association.

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Using plastic bottles that contain the most liquid for the lowest packaging weight could help reduce plastic waste. From a report: Plastic pollution is a huge problem for the world, with much plastic waste reaching the oceans where it can affect marine life. In recognition of this, many researchers are developing strategies to tackle the plastic waste problem. Now, Rafael Becerril-Arreola at the University of South Carolina and his colleagues have come up with a relatively simple method to make a difference: change the packaging size to maximise its capacity for a given weight of plastic. "We realised we could establish a relationship between supermarket beverage sales and plastic waste," says Becerril-Arreola. "I saw the opportunity to create an impact, and I took it." Becerril-Arreola and his team focused on polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the most common material in plastic bottles. They weighed 187 empty bottles of different sizes from bestselling drink brands to determine the weight of plastic required to produce a bottle of a given capacity. They also compared this against PET waste and drink sales in Minnesota between 2009 and 2013, as the state government there reliably collects waste statistics and its bottled drink consumption is close to the US national average. The researchers found that the most efficient bottles -- those with the greatest capacity relative to the weight of plastic used to make the bottle -- had a volume between 0.5 and 2.9 litres. Bottles of this size are typically bought for on-the-go use or social gatherings. Bottles that were smaller (under 0.4 litres) or larger (over 3 litres) used more plastic in relation to each bottle's capacity.

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