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Cloudflare Takes Aim At AWS With Promise of $1.25 Billion To Startups That Use Its Own Platform

Mër, 28/09/2022 - 2:02pd
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Cloudflare, the security, performance and reliability company that went public three years ago, said this morning that it will help connect startups that use its serverless computing platform to dozens of venture firms that have collectively offered to invest up to $1.25 billion in the companies out of their existing funds. It's a smart, splashy incentive to entice more startups to use the now five-year-old product, which, according to Cloudflare, enables developers to build or augment apps without configuring or maintaining infrastructure. Cloudflare notes in a related press release that startups can scale so fast using the platform that Cloudflare acquired one last year: Zaraz, a startup that promises to speed up website performance with a single line of code. (Cloudflare isn't promising to acquire other startups, but the suggestion is in the air.) Indeed, this funding program, as far as we can tell, is really about Cloudflare taking aim at hugely lucrative products like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Toward that end, we asked Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince over the weekend why Cloudflare thinks it can steal market share from these much bigger companies. "I wouldn't characterize it as 'stealing' market share from anyone," he said. "It's a matter of earning market share, and the way you earn market share is by providing a better product at a more affordable price." Asked how much more affordable, he said merely that it's "significantly less expensive than the legacy public clouds" because of how it's built. As Prince explains it, modern browsers "encounter new, untrusted code with nearly every page they open online today. They need a way to quickly and safely execute that code [and use a] technology called isolates to achieve that." Cloudflare Workers, which is the name of the platform, "takes the isolates technology inspired by the browser and makes it available as a developer platform." Prince said the idea to connect startups on its platform with venture funding came out of existing relationships it has with VCs who'd begun noticing that more of their portfolio companies are using Cloudflare Workers as their developer platform. "When they did due diligence," said Prince, the VCs would "push [founders] on 'why Cloudflare and not a platform like AWS,' [and] the answer that startup after startup gave was that Cloudflare Workers scaled better, had better performance, and was less expensive to operate." "If you're a VC and you hear an answer like that multiple times from the most promising startups it causes you to take notice," he added. Cloudflare is not providing any funding or making any funding decisions, it makes clear. All funding decisions will be made by the participating firms.

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Oracle Pays $23 Million To SEC To Settle Bribery Charges

Mër, 28/09/2022 - 1:40pd
Oracle has paid $23 million to the US Securities and Exchange Commission to settle corruption charges that subsidiaries in Turkey, United Arab Emirates and India used "slush funds" to bribe foreign officials to win business. The Register reports: The SEC said on Tuesday that Big Red violated provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) during a three-year period between 2016 and 2019. The cash that was apparently surreptitiously set aside was also spent on paying for foreign officials to attend technology conferences, which breaks Oracle's own internal policies and procedures. And the SEC said that in some instances, it found Oracle staff at the Turkish subsidiary had spent the funds on taking officials' families with them on International conferences or side trips to California. "The creation of off-books slush funds inherently gives rise to the risk those funds will be used improperly, which is exactly what happened here at Oracle's Turkey, UAE, and India subsidiaries," said Charles Cain, FCPA unit chief at the SEC. "This matter highlights the critical need for effective internal accounting controls throughout the entirety of a company's operations," he added. Oracle, without admitting or denying the findings of the SEC's investigation, has agreed to "cease and desist from committing violations" of the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal accounting controls of the FCPA, said the Commission.

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Intel and Samsung Are Getting Ready For 'Slidable' PCs

Mër, 28/09/2022 - 1:20pd
During Intel's Innovation keynote today, Samsung Display showed off a prototype PC that slides from a 13-inch tablet into a 17-inch display. Intel also announced that it's been experimenting with slidable PC form factors. The Verge reports: The prototype device that Samsung Display and Intel have shown off today essentially turns a 13-inch tablet into a 17-inch monitor with a flexible display and a sliding mechanism. Intel was quick to demonstrate its new Unison software on this display, which aims to connect Intel-powered computers to smartphones -- including iPhones. The slidable PC itself is just a concept for now, and there's no word from Intel or Samsung Display on when it will become a reality.

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Stock Trade Ban For Congress Is Being Readied For Release In US House

Mër, 28/09/2022 - 12:40pd
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Senior House Democrats are poised to introduce long-promised legislation to restrict stock ownership and trading by members of Congress, senior government officials and Supreme Court justices. The bill would apply to the spouses and dependent children of those officials, according to an outline sent to lawmaker offices last week by House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren. The restrictions also cover "commodities, futures, cryptocurrency, and other similar investments," according to the outline. The legislation would require public officials to either divest current holdings or put them in a blind trust. Investments in mutual funds or other widely held investment funds and government bonds would be allowed. The bill may be released as soon as Monday, according to a person familiar with the matter. It hasn't been scheduled for a vote, though House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has said it's possible it could come to the floor this week in the middle of an already jam-packed schedule before lawmakers go on break ahead of the November midterm election. While conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats alike have been clamoring for restrictions on stock trades by members of Congress to avoid conflicts of interest, legislation has been hung up by questions about how broad to make the ban and whether to include family members. A group of senators is working on their own version of the legislation and there's little chance of Congress taking any final action before the midterms. [...] Another potential point of contention is applying the requirements to the Supreme Court. The Congressional Research Service in an April report said that Congress imposing a code of conduct on the judiciary would "raise an array of legal questions," including whether it would violate the constitutional separation of powers. Justices and lower court judges already file annual financial disclosures and are barred from participating in cases where there's a direct conflict of interest. Despite that, the CRS report says that the Supreme Court has never directly addressed "whether Congress may subject Supreme Court Justices to financial reporting requirements or limitations upon the receipt of gifts." "The current law doesn't prohibit lawmakers from owning or trading individual securities, but it bans members of Congress from using nonpublic information available to them for personal benefit," notes the report. "It requires any transaction be disclosed within 45 days." Further reading: TikTokers Are Trading Stocks By Copying What Members of Congress Do

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Microsoft Exchange Online Users Face a Key Security Deadline Saturday

Mër, 28/09/2022 - 12:00pd
Microsoft is about to eliminate a method for logging into its Exchange Online email service that is widely considered vulnerable and outdated, but that some businesses still rely upon. From a report: The company has said that as of Oct. 1, it will begin to disable what's known as "basic authentication" for customers that continue to use the system. Basic authentication typically requires only a username and password for login; the system does not play well with multifactor authentication and is prone to a host of other heightened security risks. Microsoft has said that for several types of common password-based threats, attackers almost exclusively target accounts that use basic authentication. At identity platform Okta, which manages logins for a large number of Microsoft Office 365 accounts, "we've seen these problems for years," said Todd McKinnon, co-founder and CEO of Okta. "When we block a threat, nine times out of 10 it's against a Microsoft account that has basic authentication. So we think this is a great thing." Microsoft has been seeking to prod businesses to move off basic authentication for the past three years, but "unfortunately usage isn't yet at zero," it said in a post earlier this month.

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Robinhood Debuts New Non-Custodial Crypto Wallet

Mar, 27/09/2022 - 11:20md
Robinhood is finally rolling out a beta version of its non-custodial crypto wallet to 10,000 customers on its waitlist after announcing the product in May, its CTO and general manager of crypto, Johann Kerbrat, told TechCrunch. The product is called Robinhood Wallet and will be the company's first internationally-available app, Kerbrat said. From a report: The company revealed new details about the offering in conjunction with the beta launch, most notably that it will launch exclusively with Polygon, a popular layer-two blockchain that plugs into Ethereum and makes the network faster and cheaper to use. This means beta users will be able to purchase the Polygon MATIC token on Robinhood's main exchange app and transfer it to their Robinhood Wallet. They will also be able to access dApps directly on the Polygon network, including DeFi apps such as Uniswap, Balancer and Kyberswap, and metaverse games such as Decentraland, a spokesperson for Polygon said in an email to TechCrunch. Over time, the Robinhood team plans to build out multi-chain support for the wallet beyond the Polygon ecosystem, Robinhood crypto product manager Seong Seog Lee told TechCrunch.

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Senators Push To Reform Police's Cellphone Tracking Tools

Mar, 27/09/2022 - 10:40md
Civil rights lawyers and Democratic senators are pushing for legislation that would limit U.S. law enforcement agencies' ability to buy cellphone tracking tools to follow people's whereabouts, including back years in time, and sometimes without a search warrant. From a report: Concerns about police use of the tool known as "Fog Reveal" raised in an investigation by The Associated Press published earlier this month also surfaced in a Federal Trade Commission hearing three weeks ago. Police agencies have been using the platform to search hundreds of billions of records gathered from 250 million mobile devices, and hoover up people's geolocation data to assemble so-called "patterns of life," according to thousands of pages of records about the company. Sold by Virginia-based Fog Data Science LLC, Fog Reveal has been used since at least 2018 in criminal investigations ranging from the murder of a nurse in Arkansas to tracing the movements of a potential participant in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The tool is rarely, if ever, mentioned in court records, something that defense attorneys say makes it harder for them to properly defend their clients in cases in which the technology was used. Panelists and members of the public who took part in the FTC hearing also raised concerns about how data generated by popular apps is used for surveillance purposes, or "in some cases, being used to infer identity and cause direct harm to people in the real world, in the physical world and being repurposed for, as was mentioned earlier, law enforcement and national security purposes," said Stacey Gray, a senior director for U.S. programs for the Future of Privacy Forum.

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A Second Prime Sale Shows Amazon is Nervous About the Economy Too

Mar, 27/09/2022 - 10:03md
Holiday bargain shopping is starting extra early this year. And that could be good news for shoppers, even if it signals slightly worrisome things for the economy. From a report: E-commerce giant Amazon announced plans Monday for "a new two-day global shopping event" exclusive to members of its Prime loyalty program. Dubbed Prime Early Access Sale, the promotion is similar to Prime Day, the annual sale held in July to generate a bonanza of orders and new subscribers. Rival retail giants Walmart and Target have already signaled plans to kick off holiday sales earlier than ever, setting the stage for a long holiday shopping season with significant discounts. With warehouses and store shelves suddenly full of inventory after two years of supply chain disruptions, deals will be easier to come by than since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, say retail experts. Amazon's bonus sales event may be a sign that retailers are concerned that Americans will keep a tight grip on their wallets this holiday season because of fears over inflation, rising interest rates and predictions of an oncoming recession. An Amazon spokesperson said that the company -- with annual sales of more than $470 billion last year -- added the second online sale to help overcome such worries. "In light of inflation and economic head winds, we want to help members save throughout the season," said Amazon spokesperson Deanna Zawilinski. [...] Helping fuel the sales competition is an oversupply of merchandise -- including clothes, toys, electronics, furniture and other popular consumer goods -- that retailers ordered to meet expected consumer demand but that were delayed for months because of supply chain problems. The items are now taking up valuable space in warehouses and store shelves. With a recent surge in inflation and rising gasoline prices, Americans haven't been spending on such items as much as retailers anticipated. Store owners and retail operators now need to move those items off the shelves to make way for new holiday merchandise.

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Cheat Devs Are Ready for Modern Warfare 2

Mar, 27/09/2022 - 9:22md
The PC beta for Modern Warfare 2 was only online for just over a weekend, but cheat developers quickly managed to create wallhacks anyway, according to videos created by multiple cheat developers. From a report: The news highlights the constant cat and mouse game between cheat developers and the companies that make competitive video games, and shows that Modern Warfare 2 will be no different. Warzone, the massively popular free-to-play battle royale game built on top of Call of Duty's mainline games, was notoriously overrun by cheaters before publisher Activision and the development studios working on the game introduced a new anti-cheat mechanism called Ricochet. "I started developing a MW2 beta cheat right away. I was done the same day, the first day of the beta. My users got access once the cheat was complete & tested," Zebleer, the pseudonymous administrator of Phantom Overlay, a cheat provider that has a long history of selling cheats for Warzone, told Motherboard in an email. [...] EngineOwning, another cheat developer, published a video to their Twitter account over the weekend appearing to show their own product in action, although it didn't seem to be ready for the beta. "Our MW2 cheat is now done and we're currently in close testing," the tweet read. "This means our cheat will be ready when the game launches, with all the features you'd expect." The Anti-Cheat Police Department, a researcher who has tracked the cheating ecosystem and who reports offending players, claimed in their own tweet that "Ricochet has this shitty cheat detected they are just a scam operation at this point."

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SEC Sues Former MoviePass Executives, Alleges They Made 'False or Misleading Statements' To Public

Mar, 27/09/2022 - 8:41md
The Securities and Exchange Commission is suing former MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe and Ted Farnsworth, the former CEO of MoviePass' parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), alleging they mislead investors that the company could make a profit at its $10-a-month plan. From a report: A complaint filed late Monday, reviewed by Insider, said the duo made "false or misleading statements" in financial filings and in the press. "Faced with debilitating negative cash flows -- rather than tell the public the truth -- Farnsworth and Lowe devised fraudulent tactics to prevent MoviePass's heavy users from using the service, and falsely and misleadingly informed the public that usage had declined naturally or due to measures the company had employed to combat subscribers' purported violations of MoviePass's terms and conditions of service," the complaint said. The lawsuit also named former MoviePass Vice President Khalid Itum as a defendant. The complaint accused Itum of submitting false invoices and receiving more than $310,000 from both MoviePass and HMNY.

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Drone Startup Claims It Flew Its Ion-Propulsion Drone On 4.5-Minute Test Flight

Hën, 26/09/2022 - 3:13md
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Interesting Engineering: Florida-based tech startup Undefined Technologies announced its unique ionic propulsion drone has passed an outdoor flight test, meaning it's on track for commercial release in 2024, according to a report from New Atlas. The drone, called Silent Ventus, uses proprietary technology to ionize the oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the surrounding air to create an "ionic wind" that propels the machine in the direction it wants to go. According to Undefined, the drone could be used for cargo. Though it's not been used for large-scale drone projects on Earth before, ionic propulsion isn't a new technology. In fact, it's currently one of the best technologies humans currently possess for deep space exploration propulsion and other space applications. According to Undefined, its "Air Tantrum" ionic propulsion technology produces up to 150 percent more thrust than current ion thruster technologies. Earlier this year, the company released footage of a two-and-a-half-minute indoor flight test, saying the drone emitted 85 decibels of noise. Now, it claims it's flown a prototype for four and a half minutes, though it's only released one minute, 17 seconds of footage. The drone firm also says it achieved a noise level below 75 dB. It's now aiming to secure further investment to build a zero-emissions cargo delivery drone by 2023 that could fly for 15 minutes and make less than 70 dB. Undefined claims its "silent" 70-dB drones will lead to far fewer noise complaints in areas that will be served by urban cargo delivery drones in the future. However, it's worth pointing out that Undefined had yet to test its drone with large payloads, which will require extra thrust and will likely make more noise.

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Belgium Shuts Down Nuclear Reactor For First Time

Hën, 26/09/2022 - 12:10md
In compliance with the country's nuclear phase-out law, Belgium's Doel 3 reactor was shut down on Friday after being in operation for 40 years. From a report: Despite the energy crisis in Europe, the nuclear reactor in the town of Doel, north of the port city of Antwerp, will close on Friday. This is the first time a nuclear reactor will be permanently shut down in Belgium. The Doel 3 reactor, one of four reactors of the Doel Nuclear Power Plant, will disconnect from the grid at 21.15 local time due to the nuclear phase-out law enforced by past governments. The 1,006 megawatt-hours capacitated reactor was built in 1978, was grid connected in 1982, and operated for 40 years. Belgium hosts a total of seven reactors, four of which are at the Doel Nuclear Power Plant close to the Dutch border, while three are located at the Tihange Nuclear Power Plant, close to the Germany and Luxembourg border. The electricity produced by these reactors meets about half of the country's needs. After the Russia-Ukraine war, Belgium decided to extend the operation period of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors by 10 years to avoid energy supply shortages. The reactors were previously planned to close in 2025. Decisions taken by previous governments prescribed that the Doel 3 and the Tihange 2 reactors would shut down in September and February next year, respectively. With the looming energy crisis, however, the current government started to work on extending the operation period of these reactors. Negotiations between the operators and the government concluded that it was not technically and legally possible to postpone the Doel 3 shutdown process at this stage.

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New Binary Pulsar Detected With CHIME

Hën, 26/09/2022 - 9:07pd
Using the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), astronomers have detected a new radio pulsar in a binary system with a massive non-degenerate companion star. The discovery of the pulsar, which received designation PSR J2108+4516, was detailed in a paper published September 14 on the arXiv pre-print server. Phys.Org reports: Pulsars are highly magnetized, rotating neutron stars emitting a beam of electromagnetic radiation. They are usually detected in the form of short bursts of radio emission; however, some of them are also observed via optical, X-ray and gamma-ray telescopes. Now, an international team of astronomers led by Bridget C. Andersen of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, reports the finding of a new rare type of a binary pulsar -- hosting a massive companion. The detection was made using CHIME, a radio telescope possessing a very wide field of view, large collecting area and high sensitivity across the 400-800 MHz range. All in all, the team acquired almost three years of near-daily CHIME/Pulsar observations of PSR J2108+4516 extending from October 20, 2018 to September 3, 2021. Profile drifts over pulse phase indicated that the pulsar was experiencing significant acceleration from orbiting with a massive binary companion. The observations of PSR J2108+4516 revealed that it has a spin period of about 0.58 seconds and orbital period of 269 days. The orbital eccentricity was found to be at a level of approximately 0.09 and the pulsar's characteristic age was estimated to be around 2.1 million years. The surface magnetic field of PSR J2108+4516 was measured to be some 1.2 trillion Gauss. When it comes to the companion object, the results suggest that its mass should be between 11.7 and 113 solar masses. The study found that the companion is a bright OBe star, known as EM* UHA 138, located at a distance of about 10,600 light years. The researchers estimate that the mass of this star is most likely between 17 and 23 solar masses. Summing up the results, the astronomers underlined that PSR J2108+4516 is the sixth young pulsar with a massive non-degenerate companion so far detected. The authors of the paper added that PSR J2108+4516 may serve as a rare laboratory for the exploration of massive star winds and circumstellar disks.

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Kia Plans To Build EVs In the US To Comply With New Federal Tax Credit

Hën, 26/09/2022 - 7:05pd
Kia is planning to manufacture its electric vehicles in the US, according to South Korean media sources Maeil Business and SBS (via The EV Officials). The Verge reports: The automaker currently builds its flagship electric car and North American sales hit, the Kia EV6, in South Korea at its Hwasung plant. But now, Kia will shift some of its EV assembly to the US by 2024, according to the report. Manufacturing EVs in the US would allow Kia to qualify for new incentives that were included in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, which requires automakers to build EVs in North America to qualify. Kia and its parent company, Hyundai, had threatened legal action against the US over what they see as a "discriminatory" policy. Other provisions will exclude automakers from incentives if they use Chinese-sourced minerals and battery components, which could effectively cut off almost every domestic EV manufacturer once the law goes into effect. Hyundai and Kia combined currently hold the second-highest market share for electric vehicles in the US, a position that could be at risk if customers can't take advantage of the new federal incentives (and man, are EVs getting expensive).

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Richard Nixon Exposed To Radiation On Moscow Trip In 1959, Documents Reveal

Hën, 26/09/2022 - 5:33pd
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Guardian: Richard Nixon and his wife, Pat, were exposed to potentially harmful radiation while staying at the US ambassador's residence in Moscow in 1959, according to declassified Secret Service documents. Nixon, who was vice-president at the time, was not informed of the threat, and the state department was only informed in 1976, when a member of his Secret Service detail, James Golden, revealed that detection equipment had measured significant levels of radiation in and around the Nixons' sleeping quarters at the residence, Spaso House. Golden said he was later told by the state department that he had been exposed to "massive dosages" of ionizing radiation produced by an atomic battery used by Soviet spies to power bugging devices hidden in the building. However, Golden had doubts about that explanation and it was not confirmed. After Secret Service agents denounced Soviet dirty tricks in earshot of the listening devices in the residence, the radiation stopped. "We sat down on the beds facing each other and began berating the Russians in loud voices cursing them for pulling a trick like this and wondering in loud voices why they were taking us for fools and asking each other if they thought they were going to get away with doing this," Golden testified. Before his Moscow visit, Nixon was asked by another member of his Secret Service detail, John Sherwood, whether he wanted radiation detection devices taken on the trip. Sherwood pointed out that Soviet officials visiting the US had asked for Geiger counters. The vice-president turned down Geiger counters, but yes to more discreet dosimeters -- though he said he would not wear one himself and did not want it known that the matter had been discussed. On the first evening of the visit, on 23 July 1959, the dosimeter readings climbed rapidly, leading a senior military official in the entourage, Adm Hyman Rickover, an expert on nuclear naval propulsion, to suspect that there had been a nuclear accident. Rickover and the US ambassador, Llewellyn Thompson, agreed not to tell Nixon. Golden was skeptical of the analysis by the state department's medical division that the radiation came from atomic batteries used to power listening devices inside Spaso House. He pointed out that the radiation had stopped while he was in the building, so no one could have come in and removed the batteries. He concluded the state department experts were not being frank with him. The incident was reported after Golden's revelations in 1976, but this is the first time the underlying documentation has been made available online, after a request to the Nixon presidential library from the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

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Hackathon Finds Dozens of Ukrainian Refugees Trafficked Online

Hën, 26/09/2022 - 1:23pd
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Earlier this year, the International Organization for Migration reported that more than 3 million refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine were "at heightened risk of exploitation." Human trafficking cases, they warned, involved refugees more likely to leave home suddenly without secure financial resources and "less likely to be identified in the immediate aftermath of mass displacement." Since February, the European Union announced (PDF) that the number is even larger, counting more than 5.4 million people who "have arrived in the European Union since the beginning of the war in Ukraine." "All relevant stakeholders have recognized that the threat of trafficking in human beings is high and imminent," EU's human trafficking plan states. Since women and children represent the majority of refugees fleeing, the plan says they are believed to be most at risk. To respond, the EU began monitoring online and offline human trafficking risks, and experts called for countries across Europe to start working together to shield refugees during this uncertain time of conflict. This week, the EU's law enforcement agency focused on cybercrimes, Europol, reported that it had done exactly that by coordinating the first online EU-wide hackathon. By bringing together law enforcement authorities from 20 countries to aid in their investigations, the hackathon targeted criminal networks using social platforms and websites to map out the online criminal landscape of human trafficking across Europe. In particular, Europol noted in its report, "investigators targeted human traffickers attempting to lure Ukrainian refugees." "The Internet and human trafficking are interlinked," Europol stated in its report, which identified 30 online platforms "related to vulnerable Ukrainian refugees," 10 specifically targeting refugees for human trafficking. Europol identified 80 persons/usernames (with 30 possibly exploiting Ukrainian refugees), 11 suspected human traffickers (five believed to be targeting Ukrainian refugees), and 45 possible victims, 25 of which were Ukrainian. Countries involved in the hackathon were Austria, Albania, Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine. Online platforms probed during the hackathon included "a wide range of websites" and "social media, dating platforms, advertising and aid platforms, forums and messaging applications."

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Gurman: New iPads and Macs Could Be Announced Through a Press Release, No October Event

Hën, 26/09/2022 - 12:22pd
Apple could decide to release its remaining products for 2022, which includes an updated iPad Pro, Mac mini, and 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, through a press release on its website rather than a digital event, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. MacRumors reports: In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman said that Apple is currently "likely to release its remaining 2022 products via press releases, updates to its website and briefings with select members of the press" rather than a digital event. Rumors had suggested that Apple was planning a second fall event in October that would focus on the Mac and iPad, but that may no longer be the case. Apple has three things on the roster for the remainder of 2022: an 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the M2 chip, an updated Mac mini with the M2 and yet announced "M2 Pro" chip, and updated 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. Apple announced the M2 chip in June for the redesigned MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro earlier this June at WWDC. Other than the new chip, the updates to the Mac and iPad will be relatively incremental upgrades with no major design changes rumored for the products. Apple has released products via press release in the past, such as the AirPods Max and the original AirPods Pro.

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Almost Half of Industrial Robots Are In China

Dje, 25/09/2022 - 11:21md
According to a new report from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), China now has almost half of all the world's robot installations and that it is increasing its lead rapidly. Engineering.com reports: The IFR, which exists to "promote research, development, use and international co-operation in the entire field of robotics," has been reporting that China has been the world leader in implementing industrial robots for the last 8 years. We have not been paying attention. In 3 years, China has almost doubled the number of industrial robot installations. With its 243,000 robot installations in 2020, China has almost half of all the industrial robots in the world, according to the Wall Street Journal. A majority of new industrial robots are used in electronics manufacture (for circuit boards, consumer electronics, etc.) and in automobile assembly, particularly in the surging production of electric vehicles (EVs).One must wonder why China, a country with so much cheap manual labor available, would opt for expensive robots with their special demands for tech support. China may have a giant population (1.4 billion people), but its workforce is actually decreasing, says the IFR, due to an increasing segment of its population aging and a growing competition for service jobs. China also expects a leveling off of its rural-to-urban migration. China's government is determined not to let a declining workforce cause a drop in manufacturing, and as only a centralized, authoritarian government can, it has made robotizing a national priority and has mobilized its forces. China's latest five-year plan for the robotics industry, released in December 2021 by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), aims for nothing less than making China a world leader in robot technology and industrial automation. And it appears to be working. China went from 10 robots per ten thousand employees 10 years ago to 246 robots per ten thousand employees in 2020, the ninth best ranking in the world. To keep the robots state of the art and operational, China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security introduced 18 new occupational titles in June, including "robotics engineering technician."

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When's the Best Time To Charge Your EV? Not at Night, Stanford Study Finds

Dje, 25/09/2022 - 10:20md
The vast majority of electric vehicle owners charge their cars at home in the evening or overnight. We're doing it wrong, according to a new Stanford study. From the report: In March, the research team published a paper on a model they created for charging demand that can be applied to an array of populations and other factors. In the new study, published Sept. 22 in Nature Energy, they applied their model to the whole of the Western United States and examined the stress the region's electric grid will come under by 2035 from growing EV ownership. In a little over a decade, they found, rapid EV growth alone could increase peak electricity demand by up to 25%, assuming a continued dominance of residential, nighttime charging. To limit the high costs of all that new capacity for generating and storing electricity, the researchers say, drivers should move to daytime charging at work or public charging stations, which would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This finding has policy and investment implications for the region and its utilities, especially since California moved in late August to ban sales of gasoline-powered cars and light trucks starting in 2035. [...] Current time-of-use rates encourage consumers to switch electricity use to nighttime whenever possible, like running the dishwasher and charging EVs. This rate structure reflects the time before significant solar and wind power supplies when demand threatened to exceed supply during the day, especially late afternoons in the summer. Today, California has excess electricity during late mornings and early afternoons, thanks mainly to its solar capacity. If most EVs were to charge during these times, then the cheap power would be used instead of wasted. Alternatively, if most EVs continue to charge at night, then the state will need to build more generators -- likely powered by natural gas -- or expensive energy storage on a large scale. Electricity going first to a huge battery and then to an EV battery loses power from the extra stop. At the local level, if a third of homes in a neighborhood have EVs and most of the owners continue to set charging to start at 11 p.m. or whenever electricity rates drop, the local grid could become unstable. Another issue with electricity pricing design is charging commercial and industrial customers big fees based on their peak electricity use. This can disincentivize employers from installing chargers, especially once half or more of their employees have EVs. The research team compared several scenarios of charging infrastructure availability, along with several different residential time-of-use rates and commercial demand charges. Some rate changes made the situation at the grid level worse, while others improved it. Nevertheless, a scenario of having charging infrastructure that encourages more daytime charging and less home charging provided the biggest benefits, the study found. "The findings from this paper have two profound implications: the first is that the price signals are not aligned with what would be best for the grid -- and for ratepayers. The second is that it calls for considering investments in a charging infrastructure for where people work," said Ines Azevedo, one of the co-senior authors of the study. "We need to move quickly toward decarbonizing the transportation sector, which accounts for the bulk of emissions in California," Azevedo continued. "This work provides insight on how to get there. Let's ensure that we pursue policies and investment strategies that allow us to do so in a way that is sustainable."

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Neal Stephenson's Lamina1 Drops White Paper On Building the Open Metaverse

Dje, 25/09/2022 - 9:19md
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Neal Stephenson's Lamina1 blockchain technology startup dropped a white paper today on building the open metaverse. It's quite the manifesto. In the document, the company said its mission is to deliver a Layer 1 blockchain, interoperating tools and decentralized services optimized for the open metaverse -- providing communities with infrastructure, not gatekeepers to build a more immersive internet. The effort includes some new original content: Under active early-stage development, Neal Stephenson's THEEE METAVERSE promises a richly-imagined interactive virtual world with an unforgettable origin story, the paper said. Built on the Lamina1 chain, creators will come to experience Neal's vision and stay to develop their own. Stay tuned for more details, the paper said. [...] In the paper, Stephenson said, "Inexorable economic forces drive investors to pay artists as little as possible while steering their creative output in the directions that involve the least financial risk." The aim is to correct the sins of the past. The paper said that Web2 introduced a period of rapid innovation and unprecedented access to entertainment, information and goods on a global scale. Streamlined tools and usability brought creators and innovators to the web en masse to build digital storefronts, engage and transact with their customers. Owning and controlling that growing ecosystem of content and personal data became a primary, lucrative initiative for major corporations. Consumer behavior, recorded on centralized company servers, offered constant, privileged insight into how to monetize human emotion and attention, Lamina1 said. At its best, Web3 envisions a better world through the thoughtful redesigning of our online lives, instituting stronger advocacy for our interests, our freedom and our rights, the company said. Much as Web2 flourished with the maturity of tools and services that offered creators and consumers ease of use, the open metaverse will benefit from open protocols for payments and data, and a set of interoperating decentralized services to support virtual worlds. Lamina1 will be the rallying point for an ecosystem of open source tools, open standards and enabling technologies conceived and co-developed with a vibrant community of creators. [...] Lamina1 said it approaches the open metaverse with a multi-pronged approach: Layer 1 blockchain, metaverse-as-a-Service (MaaS), community economic participation and incentives and original content. Lamina1 said it uses a high-speed Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, customized to support the needs of content creators -- providing provenance for creatorship and enabling attributive and behavioral characteristics of an object to be minted, customized and composed on-chain. "We chose to start with Avalanche, a robust generalized blockchain that delivers the industry's most scalable and environmentally-efficient chain for managing digital assets to date. This starting point provides Lamina1 with a flexible architecture and an extendable platform to support our goals in data storage, interoperability, integration incentives, carbon-negative operation, messaging, privacy, high-scale payments and identity," the white paper said. Lamina1 said its metaverse services work will explore creating a metaverse browser and it will align itself with the Metaverse Standards Forum. To enlist community support, the company isn't aligning with Big Tech. "We march waving the pirate flag at the front of the cultural movement, asking both creators and consumers to join the fight for greater agency and ownership -- the fight for an economy that is imagined, produced and owned by its creators," Lamina1 said. "It's going to be hard, and it's going to take heart, but the upside of providing a maker direct access to their market is staggering." The paper added, "At Lamina1, we believe two things will power expansion and growth in the metaverse -- a straightforward and principled approach to serving a diverse, open and self-sustaining community of makers, and a powerful ecosystem of content and experiences that will drive fans and funding directly to the platform."

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