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Nikon Makes Special Firmware For NASA To Block Galactic Cosmic Rays In Photos

Slashdot - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 11:00pd
In an exclusive interview with PetaPixel, astronaut Don Pettit reveals the changes that Nikon makes to its firmware especially for NASA. From the report: Galactic cosmic rays are high-energy particles that originate from outside the solar system that likely come from explosive events such as a supernova. They are bad news for cameras in space -- damaging the sensor and spoiling photos -- so Nikon made special firmware for NASA to limit the harm. Pettit tells PetaPixel that Nikon changed the in-camera noise reduction settings to battle the cosmic rays -- noise is unwanted texture and blur on photos. Normal cameras have in-camera noise reduction for exposures equal to or longer than one second. This is because camera manufacturers don't think photographers need noise reduction for shorter exposures because there's no noise to reduce. But in space, that's not true. "Our cameras in space get sensor damage from galactic cosmic rays and after about six months we replace all the cameras but you still have cameras with significant cosmic ray damage," explains Pettit. "It shows up at fast shutter speeds, not just the slow ones. So we got Nikon to change the algorithm so that it can do in-camera noise reduction at shutter speeds of up to 500th of a second." Pettit says Nikon's in-camera noise reduction "does wonders" for getting rid of the cosmic ray damage and that "trying to get rid of it after the fact is really difficult." That's not the only special firmware feature that Nikon makes for NASA; photographers who shoot enough photos know that the file naming system resets itself eventually which is no good for the space agency's astronauts. "The file naming system on a standard digital system will repeat every so often and we can't have two pictures with the same number," explains Pettit. "We'll take half a million pictures with the crew on orbit and so Nikon has changed the way the RAW files are numbered so that there will be no two with the same file number." The report notes that NASA started using Nikon film cameras in 1971, shortly after the Apollo era; "in part because Nikon is so good at making custom modifications that help the astronauts." Previously, the agency used boxy, black Hasselblad cameras.

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6.6.5: stable

Kernel Linux - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 8:52pd
Version:6.6.5 (stable) Released:2023-12-08 Source:linux-6.6.5.tar.xz PGP Signature:linux-6.6.5.tar.sign Patch:full (incremental) ChangeLog:ChangeLog-6.6.5

6.1.66: longterm

Kernel Linux - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 8:51pd
Version:6.1.66 (longterm) Released:2023-12-08 Source:linux-6.1.66.tar.xz PGP Signature:linux-6.1.66.tar.sign Patch:full (incremental) ChangeLog:ChangeLog-6.1.66

5.15.142: longterm

Kernel Linux - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 8:48pd
Version:5.15.142 (longterm) Released:2023-12-08 Source:linux-5.15.142.tar.xz PGP Signature:linux-5.15.142.tar.sign Patch:full (incremental) ChangeLog:ChangeLog-5.15.142

5.10.203: longterm

Kernel Linux - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 8:46pd
Version:5.10.203 (longterm) Released:2023-12-08 Source:linux-5.10.203.tar.xz PGP Signature:linux-5.10.203.tar.sign Patch:full (incremental) ChangeLog:ChangeLog-5.10.203

5.4.263: longterm

Kernel Linux - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 8:44pd
Version:5.4.263 (longterm) Released:2023-12-08 Source:linux-5.4.263.tar.xz PGP Signature:linux-5.4.263.tar.sign Patch:full (incremental) ChangeLog:ChangeLog-5.4.263

4.19.301: longterm

Kernel Linux - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 8:43pd
Version:4.19.301 (longterm) Released:2023-12-08 Source:linux-4.19.301.tar.xz PGP Signature:linux-4.19.301.tar.sign Patch:full (incremental) ChangeLog:ChangeLog-4.19.301

4.14.332: longterm

Kernel Linux - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 8:42pd
Version:4.14.332 (longterm) Released:2023-12-08 Source:linux-4.14.332.tar.xz PGP Signature:linux-4.14.332.tar.sign Patch:full (incremental) ChangeLog:ChangeLog-4.14.332

Light Can Be Reflected Not Only In Space But Also In Time

Slashdot - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 8:00pd
Anna Demming reports via Scientific American: [A]lthough so far there's no way to unscramble an egg, in certain carefully controlled scenarios within relatively simple systems, researchers have managed to turn back time. The trick is to create a certain kind of reflection. First, imagine a regular spatial reflection, like one you see in a silver-backed glass mirror. Here reflection occurs because for a ray of light, silver is a very different transmission medium than air; the sudden change in optical properties causes the light to bounce back, like a Ping-Pong ball hitting a wall. Now imagine that instead of changing at particular points in space, the optical properties all along the ray's path change sharply at a specific moment in time. Rather than recoiling in space, the light would recoil in time, precisely retracing its tracks, like the Ping-Pong ball returning to the player who last hit it. This is a "time reflection." Time reflections have fascinated theorists for decades but have proved devilishly tricky to pull off in practice because rapidly and sufficiently changing a material's optical properties is no small task. Now, however, researchers at the City University of New York have demonstrated a breakthrough: the creation of light-based time reflections. To do so, physicist Andrea Alu and his colleagues devised a "metamaterial" with adjustable optical properties that they could tweak within fractions of a nanosecond to halve or double how quickly light passes through. Metamaterials have properties determined by their structures; many are composed of arrays of microscopic rods or rings that can be tuned to interact with and manipulate light in ways that no natural material can. Bringing their power to bear on time reflections, Alu says, revealed some surprises. "Now we are realizing that [time reflections] can be much richer than we thought because of the way that we implement them," he adds. [...] The device Alu and his collaborators developed is essentially a waveguide that channels microwave-frequency light. A densely spaced array of switches along the waveguide connects it to capacitor circuits, which can dynamically add or remove material for the light to encounter. This can radically shift the waveguide's effective properties, such as how easily it allows light to pass through. "We are not changing the material; we are adding or subtracting material," Alu says. "That is why the process can be so fast." Time reflections come with a range of counterintuitive effects that have been theoretically predicted but never demonstrated with light. For instance, what is at the beginning of the original signal will be at the end of the reflected signal -- a situation akin to looking at yourself in a mirror and seeing the back of your head. In addition, whereas a standard reflection alters how light traverses space, a time reflection alters light's temporal components -- that is, its frequencies. As a result, in a time-reflected view, the back of your head is also a different color. Alu and his colleagues observed both of these effects in the team's device. Together they hold promise for fueling further advances in signal processing and communications -- two domains that are vital for the function of, say, your smartphone, which relies on effects such as shifting frequencies. Just a few months after developing the device, Alu and his colleagues observed more surprising behavior when they tried creating a time reflection in that waveguide while shooting two beams of light at each other inside it. Normally colliding beams of light behave as waves, producing interference patterns where their overlapping peaks and troughs add up or cancel out like ripples on water (in "constructive" or "destructive" interference, respectively). But light can, in fact, act as a pointlike projectile, a photon, as well as a wavelike oscillating field -- that is, it has "wave-particle duality." Generally a particular scenario will distinctly elicit just one behavior or the other, however. For instance, colliding beams of light don't bounce off each other like billiard balls! But according to Alu and his team's experiments, when a time reflection occurs, it seems that they do. The researchers achieved this curious effect by controlling whether the colliding waves were interfering constructively or destructively -- whether they were adding or subtracting from each other -- when the time reflection occurred. By controlling the specific instant when the time reflection took place, the scientists demonstrated that the two waves bounce off each other with the same wave amplitudes that they started with, like colliding billiard balls. Alternatively they could end up with less energy, like recoiling spongy balls, or even gain energy, as would be the case for balls at either end of a stretched spring. "We can make these interactions energy-conserving, energy-supplying or energy-suppressing," Alu says, highlighting how time reflections could provide a new control knob for applications that involve energy conversion and pulse shaping, in which the shape of a wave is changed to optimize a pulse's signal.

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Meta Publicly Launches AI Image Generator Trained On Your Facebook, Instagram Photos

Slashdot - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 4:30pd
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Quest VR headsets and creator of leading open source large language model Llama 2 -- is getting into the text-to-image AI generator game. Actually, to clarify: Meta was already in that game via a text-to-image and text-to-sticker generator that was launched within Facebook and Instagram Messengers earlier this year. However, as of this week, the company has launched a standalone text-to-image AI generator service, "Imagine" outside of its messaging platforms. Meta's Imagine now a website you can simply visit and begin generating images from: You'll still need to log in with your Meta or Facebook/Instagram account (I tried Facebook, and it forced me to create a new "Meta account," but hey -- it still worked). [...] Meta's Imagine service was built on its own AI model called Emu, which was trained on 1.1 billion Facebook and Instagram user photos, as noted by Ars Technica and disclosed in the Emu research paper published by Meta engineers back in September. An earlier report by Reuters noted that Meta excluded private messages and images that were not shared publicly on its services. When developing Emu, Meta's researchers also fine-tuned it around quality metrics. As they wrote in their paper: "Our key insight is that to effectively perform quality tuning, a surprisingly small amount -- a couple of thousand -- exceptionally high-quality images and associated text is enough to make a significant impact on the aesthetics of the generated images without compromising the generality of the model in terms of visual concepts that can be generated. " Interestingly, despite Meta's vocal support for open source AI, neither Emu nor the Imagine by Meta AI service appear to be open source.

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next-20231208: linux-next

Kernel Linux - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 4:28pd
Version:next-20231208 (linux-next) Released:2023-12-08

FTC Tries Again To Stop Microsoft's Already-Closed Deal For Activision

Slashdot - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 3:02pd
U.S. antitrust regulators told a federal appeals court Wednesday that a federal judge got it wrong when she allowed Microsoft's $69 billion purchase of Activision to close. Reuters reports: Speaking for the Federal Trade Commission, lawyer Imad Abyad argued that the lower-court judge held the agency to too high a standard, effectively requiring it to prove that the deal was anticompetitive. He told a three-judge appeals court panel in California that the FTC had only to show that Microsoft had the ability and incentive to withhold Activision's games from rival game platforms to prove the agency's case. He said the FTC "showed that in the past that's what Microsoft did," referring to allegations that Microsoft made some Zenimax games exclusive after buying that company. Speaking for Microsoft, lawyer Rakesh Kilaru called the FTC case "weak" and said that the agency had asked the lower-court judge for too much leeway. "It is also clear that the standard can't be as low as the FTC is suggesting," he said. "It can't be kind of a mere scintilla of evidence." He argued that the agency failed to show that Microsoft had an incentive to withhold "Call of Duty" from rival gaming platforms. The judges actively questioned both attorneys, with Judge Daniel Collins pressing the FTC's attorney on how concessions that Microsoft gave British antitrust enforcers affect the U.S. market. He also appeared to take issue with Abyad's assertions that more analysis of the deal was necessary, especially since Microsoft had struck agreements with rivals recently, including one with Sony this past summer. "This was not a rush job on the part of the FTC," he said. Two antitrust scholars who listened to the arguments said the FTC faced a tough slog to prevail. A finding of "clear error" by a lower court judge is "really stark," said Alden Abbott, a former FTC general counsel, comparing it to the idea that a court ignored key evidence from a witness. Abbott said the appeals court noted that the trial judge had considered "a huge amount of record evidence."

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Fairphone 5 Scores a Perfect 10 From iFixit For Repairability

Slashdot - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 2:25pd
The iFixit team pulled apart the newest Fairphone 5 smartphone and awarded its highest score for repairability: 10 out of 10. With the exception of one or two compromises, the Fairphone 5 is just as repairable as its predecessors. The Register reports: As before, opening the phone is a simple matter of popping off the back of the case. The beefier battery -- 4200 mAh instead of the previous 3905 mAh -- remains easy to remove, although the bigger size has implications elsewhere in the device. Replacing the USB-C port remains simple thanks to a metal lip that allows it to be removed easily. Individual cameras can also be replaced, a nice upgrade from the all-in-one unit of the preceding phone. However, rather than something along the lines of the Core Module of the previous phone, the iFixit team found a motherboard and daughterboard more akin to other Android handsets. According to Fairphone, the bigger battery made the change necessary, but it's still a little disappointing. Still, the teardown team noted clear labeling to stop cables from being accidentally plugged into the wrong places. It said: "That's what intuitive repair design is all about: it should be easy to do the right thing and complicated to do the wrong thing." According to iFixit co-founder and CEO Kyle Wiens: "Fairphone's promise of five Android version upgrades and over eight years of security updates with the Fairphone 5 is a bold statement in an industry that leans towards fleeting product life cycles. This is a significant stride towards sustainability and sets a new benchmark for smartphone lifespan." "At iFixit, we believe in tech that lasts, and Fairphone is making that belief a reality. Fairphone's effort to attain a 10-year lifespan is not just impressive; it's unparalleled."

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A Massive Repair Lawsuit Against John Deere Clears a Major Hurdle

Slashdot - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 1:45pd
Jason Koebler reports via 404 Media: A judge rejected John Deere's motion to dismiss a landmark class action lawsuit over the agricultural giant's repair monopolies, paving the way for a trial that will determine whether the company's repair practices are illegal. The case will specifically examine whether Deere has engaged in a "conspiracy" in which Deere and its dealerships have driven up the cost of repair while preventing independent and self-repair of tractors that farmers own. In a forceful, 89-page memorandum, U.S. District Court Judge Iain Johnson wrote that the founder of John Deere "was an innovative farmer and blacksmith who -- with his own hands -- fundamentally changed the agricultural industry." Deere the man "would be deeply disappointed in his namesake corporation" if the plaintiffs can ultimately prove their antitrust allegations against Deere the company, which are voluminous and well-documented. Reuters first reported on Johnson's memo. At issue are the many tactics Deere has used to make it more difficult and often impossible for farmers to repair their own tractors, from software locks and "parts pairing" that prevent farmers from replacing parts without the authorization of a Deere dealership. "Only Deere and Dealer authorized technicians have access to the Repair Tools, and Deere withholds these resources from farmers and independent repair shops," Johnson wrote.

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Meta Defies FBI Opposition To Encryption, Brings E2EE To Facebook, Messenger

Slashdot - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 1:02pd
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Meta has started enabling end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by default for chats and calls on Messenger and Facebook despite protests from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies that oppose the widespread use of encryption technology. "Today I'm delighted to announce that we are rolling out default end-to-end encryption for personal messages and calls on Messenger and Facebook," Meta VP of Messenger Loredana Crisan wrote yesterday. In April, a consortium of 15 law enforcement agencies from around the world, including the FBI and ICE Homeland Security Investigations, urged Meta to cancel its plan to expand the use of end-to-end encryption. The consortium complained that terrorists, sex traffickers, child abusers, and other criminals will use encrypted messages to evade law enforcement. Meta held firm, telling Ars in April that "we don't think people want us reading their private messages" and that the plan to make end-to-end encryption the default in Facebook Messenger would be completed before the end of 2023. Meta also plans default end-to-end encryption for Instagram messages but has previously said that may not happen this year. Meta said it is using "the Signal Protocol, and our own novel Labyrinth Protocol," and the company published two technical papers that describe its implementation (PDF). "Since 2016, Messenger has had the option for people to turn on end-to-end encryption, but we're now changing personal chats and calls across Messenger to be end-to-end encrypted by default. This has taken years to deliver because we've taken our time to get this right," Crisan wrote yesterday. Meta said it will take months to implement across its entire user base. A post written by two Meta software engineers said the company "designed a server-based solution where encrypted messages can be stored on Meta's servers while only being readable using encryption keys under the user's control." "Product features in an E2EE setting typically need to be designed to function in a device-to-device manner, without ever relying on a third party having access to message content," they wrote. "This was a significant effort for Messenger, as much of its functionality has historically relied on server-side processing, with certain features difficult or impossible to exactly match with message content being limited to the devices." The company says it had "to redesign the entire system so that it would work without Meta's servers seeing the message content."

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Apple Launches MLX Machine-Learning Framework For Apple Silicon

Slashdot - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 12:40pd
Apple has released MLX, a free and open-source machine learning framework for Apple Silicon. Computerworld reports: The idea is that it streamlines training and deployment of ML models for researchers who use Apple hardware. MLX is a NumPy-like array framework designed for efficient and flexible machine learning on Apple's processors. This isn't a consumer-facing tool; it equips developers with what appears to be a powerful environment within which to build ML models. The company also seems to have worked to embrace the languages developers want to use, rather than force a language on them -- and it apparently invented powerful LLM tools in the process. MLX design is inspired by existing frameworks such as PyTorch, Jax, and ArrayFire. However, MLX adds support for a unified memory model, which means arrays live in shared memory and operations can be performed on any of the supported device types without performing data copies. The team explains: "The Python API closely follows NumPy with a few exceptions. MLX also has a fully featured C++ API which closely follows the Python API." Apple has provided a collection of examples of what MLX can do. These appear to confirm the company now has a highly-efficient language model, powerful tools for image generation using Stable Diffusion, and highly accurate speech recognition. This tallies with claims earlier this year, and some speculation concerning infinite virtual world creation for future Vision Pro experiences. Ultimately, Apple seems to want to democratize machine learning. "MLX is designed by machine learning researchers for machine learning researchers," the team explains.

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Notepad On Windows 11 Is Finally Getting a Character Count

Slashdot - Pre, 08/12/2023 - 12:20pd
Microsoft's Notepad app on Windows 11 is getting a character count at the bottom of the window. "When text is selected, the status bar shows the character count for both the selected text and the entire document," explains Microsoft's Windows Insider team in a blog post. "If no text is selected, the character count for the entire document is displayed, ensuring you always have a clear view of your document's length." The Verge reports: This is the latest addition in a line of changes to Notepad this year, with the app recently getting a new autosave option that lets you close it without seeing the pop-up save prompt every time. Microsoft has also added tabs to Notepad, a dark mode, and even a virtual fidget spinner. Alongside the Notepad changes in this latest Windows 11 test build, the widgets section of the OS is also getting some improvements. You'll soon be able to just show widgets and hide the feed of news and articles that appear inside the widgets screen.

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New systemd Update Will Bring Windows' Infamous Blue Screen of Death To Linux

Slashdot - Enj, 07/12/2023 - 11:40md
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Windows' infamous "Blue Screen of Death" is a bit of a punchline. People have made a hobby of spotting them out in the wild, and in some circles, they remain a byword for the supposed flakiness and instability of PCs. To this day, networked PCs in macOS are represented by beige CRT monitors displaying a BSOD. But the BSOD is supposed to be a diagnostic tool, an informational screen that technicians can use to begin homing in on the problem that caused the crash in the first place; that old Windows' BSOD error codes were often so broad and vague as to be useless doesn't make the idea a bad one. Today, version 255 of the Linux systemd project honors that original intent by adding a systemd-bsod component that generates a full-screen display of some error messages when a Linux system crashes. The systemd-bsod component is currently listed as "experimental" and "subject to change." But the functionality is simple: any logged error message that reaches the LOG_EMERG level will be displayed full-screen to allow people to take a photo or write it down. Phoronix reports that, as with BSODs in modern Windows, the Linux version will also generate a QR code to make it easier to look up information on your phone.

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The Extremely Large Telescope Will Transform Astronomy

Slashdot - Enj, 07/12/2023 - 11:00md
The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) under construction in Chile's Atacama Desert will be the world's biggest optical telescope when completed in 2028. With a giant 39.3-meter main mirror and advanced adaptive optics, the ELT will collect far more light and achieve much sharper images than any existing ground-based telescope, revolutionizing the study of exoplanets, black holes, dark matter, and the early universe. Economist adds: But when it comes to detecting the dimmest and most distant objects, there is no substitute for sheer light-gathering size. On that front the ELT looks like being the final word for the foreseeable future. A planned successor, the "Overwhelmingly Large Telescope," would have sported a 100-metre mirror. But it was shelved in the 2000s on grounds of complexity and cost. The Giant Magellan Telescope is currently being built several hundred kilometres south of the elt on land owned by the Carnegie Institution for Science, an American non-profit, and is due to see its first light some time in the 2030s. It will combine seven big mirrors into one giant one with an effective diameter of 25.4 metres. Even so, it will have only around a third the light-gathering capacity of the ELT. A consortium of scientists from America, Canada, India and Japan, meanwhile, has been trying to build a mega-telescope on Hawaii. The Thirty Meter Telescope would, as its name suggests, be a giant -- though still smaller than the elt. But it is unclear when, or even if, it will be finished. Construction has been halted by arguments about Mauna Kea, the mountain on which it is to be built, which is seen as sacred by some. For the next several decades, it seems, anyone wanting access to the biggest telescope money can buy will have to make their way to northern Chile.

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Actors Recorded Videos for 'Vladimir.' It Turned Into Russian Propaganda.

Slashdot - Enj, 07/12/2023 - 10:20md
Internet propagandists aligned with Russia have duped at least seven Western celebrities, including Elijah Wood and Priscilla Presley, into recording short videos to support its online information war against Ukraine, according to new security research by Microsoft. From a report: The celebrities look like they were asked to offer words of encouragement -- apparently via the Cameo app -- to someone named "Vladimir" who appears to be struggling with substance abuse, Microsoft said. Instead, these messages were edited, sometimes dressed up with emojis, links and the logos of media outlets and then shared online by the Russia-aligned trolls, the company said. The point was to give the appearance that the celebrities were confirming that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was suffering from drug and alcohol problems, false claims that Russia has pushed in the past, according to Microsoft. Russia has denied engaging in disinformation campaigns. In one of the videos, a crudely edited message by Wood to someone named Vladimir references drugs and alcohol, saying: "I just want to make sure that you're getting help." Wood's video first surfaced in July, but since then Microsoft researchers have observed six other similar celebrity videos misused in the same way, including clips by "Breaking Bad" actor Dean Norris, John C. McGinley of "Scrubs," and Kate Flannery of "The Office," the company said.

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