Researchers build a working camera out of atomically thin semiconductors

ARS Technica - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 12:51
Each one of the silvery squares includes a small sheet of an atomically thin material.

Enlarge / Each one of the silvery squares includes a small sheet of an atomically thin material. (credit: Dodda, et. al.)

Since the isolation of graphene, we've identified a number of materials that form atomically thin sheets. Like graphene, some of these sheets are made of a single element; others form from chemicals where the atomic bonds naturally create a sheet-like structure. Many of these materials have distinct properties. While graphene is an excellent conductor of electricity, a number of others are semiconductors. And it's possible to tune their properties further based on how you arrange the layers of a multi-sheet stack.

Given all those options, it shouldn't surprise anyone that researchers have figured out how to make electronics out of these materials, including flash memory and the smallest transistors ever made, by some measures. Most of these, however, are demonstrations of the ability to make the hardware—they're not integrated into a useful device. But a team of researchers has now demonstrated that it's possible to go beyond simple demonstrations by building a 900-pixel imaging sensor using an atomically thin material.

Making pictures

Most image sensors currently consist of standard silicon semiconductors, manufactured using the usual complementary metal–oxide semiconductor (CMOS) processes. But it's possible to replace the silicon with another semiconductor. In this case, the researchers used molybdenum disulfide, an atomically thin material that has seen a lot of use in experimental devices.

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Categories: Tech News

Twitter Employees on Visas Can’t Just Quit

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 12:40

On Wednesday, Elon Musk gave Twitter employees just under 36 hours to decide if they would be leaving or committing to stay and build “a breakthrough Twitter 2.0.” This ultimatum came after more than 3,000 employees were laid off a week into Musk’s leadership. While hundreds of employees are estimated to have quit, according to Reuters, Twitter employees who rely on the company for work visas are left grappling with a Catch-22: either they choose to buckle up and embrace Twitter’s unsure future, or give up their jobs and leave the United States.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, around 300 employees at Twitter are working under the H-1B visa. The H-1B program allows foreign workers who are highly skilled in areas such as architecture, engineering, and economics to work in the United States. Many large tech companies in addition to Twitter, such as Amazon and Meta, employ H-1B workers. The recent tech layoffs have put H-1B workers in precarious positions, as they only have 60 days after losing employment or until their visa expires, whichever comes sooner, to find a new employer to sponsor their visa. 

“I really feel bad for the people who are aghast at the way Musk has been managing the company but perhaps feel unable to raise their concerns, because they've seen what has happened when people do that before—they get unceremoniously fired," David Widder, a PhD. student in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, spoke to more than a hundred software engineers about the ethical concerns they face at work for a paper he is currently trying to publish. "Or feel like if they did raise their concerns, they might be let go and they have reasons why they can't afford to have that happen. They have a mortgage to pay, kids to feed, dependents with health care needs that they need to keep their insurance or a visa status to protect them. These are all examples of ways in which software engineers, despite being powerful in the scheme of work, generally still might be in a difficult situation.”

Widder’s research explains how the structure of a program like H-1B leaves workers in a helpless position, where they may disagree with the ethics of the company’s management or the work they’re doing, but are unable to speak out or quit due to financial pressures and their immigration status.

One software engineer interviewed by Widder said that people “on H1Bs [often] need to find something [a job] within a very short period of time or actually have to leave the country. And when that happens, you end up taking whatever is available.” 

“For companies to turn their backs on them now is particularly callous and destructive and undermines the trust talented people have around in the world in the hope of America and its opportunities,” a former Twitter employee told CNN.

Widder said it’s unfair to blame employees who remain at the company and that this situation only magnifies the “systemic sources of precarity” that affect employees and create a power differential between them and their employers. 

“The framing of our paper is not about blaming software engineers for not speaking up or not raising an ethical concern they might have when they see it, it's about asking why that is hard to do and what sort of systemic factors and unfair factors make that hard to do,” he said. “I'm concerned about some narratives emerging online where people talk about H-1B workers doing the dirty work. I don't think that's a fair or accurate framing of the current state at Twitter.” 

The software engineers that participated in Widder’s research emphasized that the start to leveraging their power is through solidarity. “We had some participants talk about the fact that the work doesn't get done without them. And as Twitter's workforce is decimated, basically, I think we can remember that software does not maintain itself and software doesn't get built by itself. We need software engineers’ labor to make software systems continue to work and continue to be built,” Widder said. 

Now, labor and tech experts including Widder are encouraging remaining workers to unionize. Widder said, “Speaking from our research here, I think there's a lot of power in recognizing the power of labor and that can look like a union, that can look like increased solidarity between workers who are at Twitter. Because the work doesn't get done without them.”

In the UK, a third of Twitter employees are being represented by a trade union called Prospect. The union has written to the company asking for a meeting to be scheduled in order for them to discuss their concerns for the future of the company. 

There has also been a class-action lawsuit filed against the social media giant, organized by former Twitter employees who claim that the company violated labor law and California state law for not providing advance notice or severance pay to terminated employees. 

Categories: Tech News

Hive ransomware crooks extort $100m from 1,300 global victims

The Register - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 12:35
FBI, CISA sound the alarm and detail IOCs

Hive ransomware criminals have hit more than 1,300 companies globally, extorting about $100 million from its victims over the last 18 months, according to the FBI.…

Categories: Tech News

Visiting Your Parents? Here Are the Best Last-Minute Gifts to Bring Them

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 12:34

Well, well, well. Look who thought they could see their folks for Thanksgiving without bringing them a gift. [Tousles your hair.] It’s OK, you simple rube, we've got you covered. Believe it or not, parents are surprisingly easy to shop for. Not all parents are the same, naturally; you may have a mom who lives for Live, Laugh, Love merch, or one who ran away with a mushroom dealer at Woodstock when she was 14; you may have a dad whose primary decorating aesthetic is "forest animals I've shot and taxidermied," or a chill 'n' gentle dad who is all about cardigan-and-newspaper life. But there are some gifts that are pretty much guaranteed to do the trick for nearly all parents, and we've brought them to you here. 

We, of course, have extensive guides on the best presents for Dad and the best gifts for Mom, but if you haven’t had a chance to peep those yet, we understand. The holidays can be a stressful time, and worrying about buying gifts only compounds that wintertime anxiety. That, friends, is where your faithful Rec Room editors swoop in and save the day. 

Whether you waited until the last minute to get your folks a gift or you’re planning ahead for the holidays, here are some of the best last-minute gifts for parents, from neck massage machines and burrito blankets to suave cocktail kits and wine subscriptions. 

Don’t call it a char-coochie board in front of them 

They won’t get it, trust us. This Cheese Board and Knife Set by SMIRLY is made from bamboo and features knives, a slide-out drawer, a sauce compartment, and grooved edges to avoid spillage. It’ll be the star of the show at the next HOA meeting. 

Oil them up 

Brightland, an oil company that makes delicious cooking potions (and isn’t destroying the environment and polluting the ocean), has all of your parents’ oil needs covered with The Essential Capsule. It comes with two of the brand’s best olive oils, Awake and Alive, as well as the raw Champagne vinegar Parasol and the balsamic vinegar Rapture. Their salads are about to get a major upgrade, even if they refuse to replace the Dell desktop computer they've had since 2007. 

Taps mug

Sure you and your siblings know your mom and dad are the best parental units on planet Earth, but what’s it all for if they can’t showcase those credentials to their friends, family and coworkers during their early-morning Zoom call? Sometimes, channelling The Office’s Michael Scott is the best way to let others know how you feel about them.

A most important piece of luggage

Speaking of those who live to spoil their pets, sure, your folks could accessorize with a fancy hat or a designer clutch, but if you’re looking to get them the most flattering statement piece of all, look no further than the Roverlund Out of Office Pet Carrier. It’s made with an innovative 3-in-1 design and triples as an airline compliant pet carrier, car seat, and mobile dog or cat bed—plus, it comes with a bonus leash.

Flowers that won’t die

Dried bouquets are all the rage, people. They last for months, look fabulously retro, and never get stinky. Plus, your folks won’t feel burdened by the extra job of caring for live flowers—they’ve cared for enough living things for one life.

Upgrade their soap game

If your parents are still adding water to the basically empty bottle of Dawn they’ve been using for their hands, it’s time to get them this pared-down hand soap from Public Goods. With as simple-as-hell design and a clean, unfussy citrus scent, you can be sure it’s something they’ll actually use (with a price that won’t have them scolding you for spending too much on something like hand soap)

A nice oaky afterbirth

The California Wine Mixer by In Good Taste is the perfect gift for the parents who like to have a glass or two during (or before, or after) family FaceTimes. The brand will send them mini bottles of their favorite West Coast wines so they don’t have to put away an entire bottle every time they want a sip. Catalina Wine Mixer, here they come. 

It’s your turn to cook for them

OK: Umamicart is one of our favorite online Asian food grocers, and the Holiday Roast Duck Kit might just be the brand’s magnum opus. This holiday season, order the kit, bring it to your folks’ house, and cook for them (for once). Turkey seems so bogus next to juicy, crispy-skinned duck.

Candles are a gifting hack

Who doesn't love an unconventional advent calendar? Sure, you could gift mom a regular-degular Yankee Candle, but what about a literal dozen top class candles that have a little bit of that bougie je ne sais quoi?

Not that kind of pot

Unless they’re trying to chill hard, of course. No, instead get them a Perfect Pot from Our Place, makers of the wildly popular Always Pan… What makes it so perfect? That it's an all-in-one boiler, baker, crisper, and steamer, with a ceramic nonstick coating and included roasting/steaming rack, strainer, and spoon rest. Plus, it comes in a bunch of neat colors.

That’s a wrap 

It’s a burrito blanket. Need we say more? (Well, we will mention that it has a solid five-star rating from more than 41,000 enthusiastic reviews.) Aside from being perfect for the family’s annual white elephant ritual, this is something that could very likely become a favorite when the grandkids come to visit (or at least spark some conversation). Your parents may not know they need it, but once they get one, they’ll never want to live without it.

Help them take a load off

Since you can’t be there to give your parents a massage every day, why not give them a machine that does it for you? This Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager has three speeds and strength levels so they can dial in their ideal pressure to help them unwind. It also features a built-in heat function with auto-shut-off protection.

For when they’re knocking a few back

Nothing says “I love you” more than helping your folks get drunk in style. These Infused Cocktail Cubes take the hassle out of cocktail making—just pop the tray in the freezer for at least 24 hours, toss a single cube into a glass, add the appropriate amount of the appropriate booze, shake or stir until the cube completely dissolves, and boom. Cocktail time. 

Eat and be merry 

The holidays are a time for hanging with your family and enjoying good food and drink. In an effort to expedite that process, might we suggest gifting your folks a Silpat cake mold? It lets you bake cakes and other cakey treats with evenly spaced indentations, which make it easy to cut 12 even slices. (It’ll also subtly suggest that you’d like your parents to bake for you more often.) 

Those crafty, crafty Swiss

Other than picking a side in a conflict, there’s really not much the Swiss can’t do. Take this Swiss fondue set, for example. Just when you thought your folks couldn’t get any more cheesy, those mountain-dwellers drop this bad boy on ‘em, complete with a traditional cast iron rechaud, a handsome wood base plate, a cast iron pot with an enameled interior for easy cleaning, and heat-resistant, three-tine stainless steel forks with color-coded tips. Reap the benefits as your holiday gatherings suddenly feature waterfalls of raclette.

Multitasking is their strong suit…

…As is being clean and gettin’ tipsy. There are few better beers in life than the kitchen beer while you wait for your partner to finish getting ready to go out, the first pint after a long day of work, and the famed shower beer. This shower drink holder by 30 Watt helps with that last one.  

They’re gonna do dry January

Good for them! Livers are important—hence the name—and if they want to give it a break without sacrificing delicious craft drinks, we suggest picking up a bottle of nonalcoholic aperitif Ghia—or better yet, the brand's Cocktail Box gift set. The set includes glass stirrers, a handmade Totem Glass and, of course, a full-size bottle of Ghia.

Get them baked

HA, HA, HA. (We know.) This best-selling kit from Williams Sonoma should give your parental unit(s) everything they need to start baking sourdough bread from scratch.

That vinyl collection is just collecting dust

Your recent investment in an apartment-friendly record player might have you eyeing your folks’ vinyl collection, but there’s a good reason that your parents refuse to part with a piece of their beloved archive—they’re going to get their vinyl player set up again… inevitably. Inspire them to get back in touch with their collection of tunes with an easy-to-use player that doubles as a piece of furniture.

Couch cushions hate this one simple trick

Your parents can keep all of their 11 remotes in this bad boy, and finally stop tearing apart the couch so they can get back to watching Outlander and pretending it isn’t softcore porn.

Embrace the cheug 

One of two things will happen when you gift your folks these customizable shirts. Either a) they’ll think it’s ironic and hilarious, or b) they won’t think it’s goofy at all and they’ll be psyched. Either way, they’ll love them!

FINAL DAD MODE: UNLOCKED

The Drop Stop is here to solve a problem all car owners have: the frequency with which we drop shit in that gap between the seats and the center console and have to root around pathetically trying to dig it out. Your parents will never lose their oversized Bluetooth headset in the crevices of the car again. (Disclaimer: Cell phone belt clip not included.) 

And remember: At the end of the day, they’ll love whatever you get them.

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.

Categories: Tech News

Nvidia releases RTX 4090 and 4080 firmware update to fix display output bug

ARS Technica - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 12:31
Nvidia releases RTX 4090 and 4080 firmware update to fix display output bug

Enlarge (credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia has released a firmware update tool for its new GeForce RTX 4090 and 4080 GPUs to fix a bug that could break display output, causing the GPU to show a blank screen when being used without drivers installed. The issue only affects "certain motherboards," and Nvidia says it "should only be applied if blank screens are occurring on boot." (We installed it on an RTX 4080 Founders Edition in an Asus motherboard that was working normally and didn't notice any adverse effects.)

Obviously, you aren't buying a GPU to use it with no drivers installed. But if you're adjusting BIOS settings, performing a fresh Windows install, or booting up for the first time after installing a new GPU, you need your GPU to be able to draw a basic image without having drivers loaded. The problem doesn't affect everyone, but if you notice a blank screen when you first boot your computer after installing an RTX 4090 or 4080, this firmware update may fix your problem.

If the bug is preventing you from installing the firmware update in the first place, Nvidia recommends connecting "using an alternate graphics source" like an integrated GPU or secondary GPU, or allowing your system to sit with a blank screen until it can install a driver on its own; Windows Update can usually grab a functional driver for most GPUs by itself, though you'll want to download and install the newest version to take advantage of new fixes and optimizations. The update can be applied to Founders Edition cards from Nvidia or any RTX 4090 or 4080 made by Nvidia's partners.

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Categories: Tech News

Twitter Employees Call Elon Musk’s Bluff

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 12:18

In the latest chapter of Twitter's chaotic developments, a Thursday deadline imposed by Musk to stay or resign from the company was met with hundreds of resignations. In an email sent early Wednesday, titled "A Fork in the Road" Musk offered three months severance to employees that didn't want to stay "to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0.”

“We will need to be extremely hardcore. This will mean working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade,” Musk wrote. 

“If you are sure you want to be part of the new Twitter, please click yes on the link below,” Musk added. “Anyone who has not done so by 5pm ET tomorrow (Thursday) will receive three months of severance.”

In retrospect, this was likely not a good decision. According to various media reports, hundreds of employees called his bluff and resigned en masse. Several news outlets reported that critical teams of employees quit, and the news led to an over-the-top funeral of sorts from people on the platform itself. 

Musk has mismanaged various parts of his takeover of Twitter, but his ultimatum email seems like a particularly egregious miscalculation. Employees were faced with two options: Work harder, longer hours for an erratic boss who just fired half of their colleagues for the same pay and with a deeply hollowed out staff or accept three months of severance pay and move on with their lives. Musk's calculation is dumber, still, when you consider that many of the most senior employees (and many Twitter employees, in general), just received a large lump sum of cash courtesy of Musk buying the company at a wildly inflated valuation and taking it private.

For years, Twitter has paid Silicon Valley's typically large salaries (most engineers make more than $200,000 per year, according to data submitted to the U.S. government and previously reported by Insider.) Like many other Silicon Valley companies, Twitter has inflated many employees' overall compensation with equity in the company in the form of stock and stock options. A 2016 article in The Week noted that, "Inevitably, buying Twitter is going to involve compensating all the people who own those shares. Which will cost the buyer a pretty penny." The article also noted that, historically, Twitter has issued additional shares to employees when its stock price went down: " Since the total value of the shares held by Twitter's workers has fallen, the company created more shares and gave them to employees to bring their total stock value back up, and to coax them into staying rather than leaving to work at competing firms."

Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion, or $54.20 per share, which is more than the shares were trading for on the stock market. That $44 billion is essentially given, in the form of money, to Twitter's shareholders, many of whom are the Twitter employees Musk is now asking to work "extremely hardcore."

This means that, quite literally, many of Twitter's employees are likely sitting on more money right now than they ever have in their lives, and many of them are likely able to take the financial risk associated with leaving the company, even in an uncertain economy and a difficult job market for tech workers (this calculus does not apply to workers who are on certain types of visas or contractors).

It is worth noting that Musk may have promised to provide three months' severance, but is currently being sued by previously laid-off Twitter employees who were promised a range of severance benefits (including three months severance) but only received one month base pay. Musk also reportedly fired top executives at Twitter for “just cause” in an attempt to avoid paying out severance packages worth well over $100 million. Those still at Twitter were told their vested shares would be paid out in the coming days, but Tesla has fired employees before just ahead of scheduled vesting of shares. On top of all this, every single member of Twitter’s entire payroll team has appeared to have resigned so it’s not clear who will actually, well, pay anyone anything.

Still, it makes some sense that scores of employees have decided to call Musk’s bluff and quit. Each move has added uncertainty to what will remain, if anything, of Twitter in the midst of this transition to “Twitter 2.0.” Every core team and service has either been gutted or showing cracks ranging from content moderation to two-factor authentication. Employees were already paid out for shares they held in the company when Musk took the firm private, severance packages have been paid out in some instances—why risk a tumultuous tenure at an increasingly dysfunctional workplace where a capricious and paranoid boss fires anyone who criticizes him or calls out his mistakes? Why stay around to see a product you worked on for years get gutted and restructured to meet the onerous $1 billion debt interest your new boss must pay each year (Twitter barely posts $200 million in profit). 

Core users are fleeing, advertisers are freezing their campaigns, Congress and the FTC are circling, the infrastructure is failing. Better the devil you know (money) than the devil you don’t (the richest man-child on Earth).

Amid all this chaos, it’s hard to imagine what Twitter 2.0 will look like when each action taken by Musk. The latest rounds of resignations come after thousands of employees were laid off shortly after Musk's acquisition and thousands of contractors were fired weeks later. In the hours before the deadline, Musk and his inner circle begged senior employees "critical" to the company to stay, only for some of those workers to hang up on their former boss. At the same time, he softened his hardline position that workers would need to be in the office working weekends and long nights to build a “hardcore” (not before a lawsuit was filed, however). Shortly thereafter, he warned managers they would be fired if they let employees work remotely.

All this is sure to make for an interesting next few days and weeks as the World Cup begins, a time when Twitter’s traffic typically increases. This time, however, employee badge access has been revoked for the weekend to Twitter’s office and a giant question mark looms over how many employees will come into the building on Monday. 

As Jessica Lessin, head of business publication The Information tweeted, Musk’s takeover of Twitter will be taught in business schools as a case study for years to come—just not in the way she and other Musk fans thought.

Categories: Tech News

Musk emails remaining Twitter staff to find “anyone who actually writes software”

ARS Technica - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 11:59
In this photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a smartphone screen and a laptop screen.

Enlarge

After laying off half of Twitter's employees and issuing a stay-or-leave ultimatum to the rest, Elon Musk sent an email to the remaining staff today seeking responses from "anyone who actually writes software."

"Anyone who actually writes software, please report to the 10th floor at 2 pm today. Before doing so, please email a bullet point summary of what your code commands have achieved in the past ~6 months, along with up to 10 screenshots of the most salient lines of code," Musk wrote in the first of three emails reportedly sent around midnight PT Friday.

Musk's emails were published in full by Business Insider and also reported by Fortune, CNBC, and Reuters. His emails requested in-person meetings with coders despite Twitter informing staff that it was closing all office buildings and disabling employee badge access until Monday.

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Categories: Tech News

Sony’s Miles Morales was at least as good as Spider-Man, and now it’s on PC, too

ARS Technica - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 11:09

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the spinoff to the popular and critically acclaimed 2018 PlayStation game Marvel's Spider-Man, launched on Windows PCs today, just three months after the original game did, too.

The game was developed by Insomniac Games (previously best known for the Ratchet & Clank franchise), PlayStation, and Marvel Games. This port is being done under the stewardship of Netherlands-based studio Nixxes Software, which was acquired by Sony Interactive Entertainment last year. The studio focuses on ports as well as supporting other studios' productions in various ways.

The PC port contains all the content from the original game. On top of that, there are several enhancements, including support for Nvidia's DLSS 2 and DLSS 3, as well as DLAA and Reflex, and AMD's FSR 2.1. There are expanded settings for ray-traced shadows and reflections, and as with the previous game, strong ultra-wide and multi-monitor support.

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Categories: Tech News

FCC unveils big update to broadband map—and wants you to help correct errors

ARS Technica - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 10:54
Illustration of a US map with crisscrossing lines representing a broadband network.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Andrey Denisyuk)

The Federal Communications Commission took two significant steps toward providing US broadband users with more accurate availability and pricing information.

Today, the FCC released the long-awaited National Broadband Map update based on the most detailed data the commission has ever collected from ISPs. There's still plenty of work to do, as this first version will undergo a challenge process to correct errors, and there are indications it will have many inaccuracies.

"The map will display specific location-level information about broadband services available throughout the country—a significant step forward from the census block level data previously collected," an FCC press release said. "This release of the draft map kicks off the public challenge processes that will play a critical role in improving the accuracy of the map."

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Categories: Tech News

Nvidia faces lawsuit for melting RTX 4090 cables as AMD has a laugh

The Register - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 10:46
Law firm wants class-action status, says issue poses 'serious electrical and fire hazard'

A lawsuit seeking class-action status has accused Nvidia of misleading consumers over the safety of the company's GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards due to growing reports of melting cables.…

Categories: Tech News

There’s a “new” Atari arcade game, and I can’t put it down

ARS Technica - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 10:28
A look at an alternate reality where vector displays never died.

Enlarge / A look at an alternate reality where vector displays never died.

Atari's new 50th-anniversary compilation is stuffed with historical filler, but one new game contained in the package won't let me go. I'm talking about Vctr Sctr, a retro-style arcade shooter that melds the addictive gameplay of classics like Asteroids and Tempest with modern gameplay concepts.

As a package, Atari 50: The Anniversary Collection sets a new high-water mark for retro video game compilations. The collection's "timeline" feature deftly weaves archival materials like design documents and manuals, explanatory context and contemporary quotes from the game's release, and new video interviews with game creators into an engaging, interactive trip through gaming history.

But while the presentation shines, the games contained within Atari 50 often don't. Sure, there are a few truly replayable classics on offer here, especially in the games from Atari's glorious arcade era. That said, the bulk of Atari 50's selection of over 100 titles feels like filler that just doesn't hold up from a modern game design perspective. Dozens of "classic" Atari games—from 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe on the Atari 2600 to Missile Command 3D on the Jaguar—boil down to mere historical curiosities that most modern players would be hard-pressed to tolerate for longer than a couple of minutes.

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Categories: Tech News

The Best Hot-Ticket Tech Gifts of 2022, From Laptops to Speakers

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 10:00

We’ve been told that the holidays are about merriment and togetherness, but it doesn’t take that hard of a look to see past the yuletide-palooza and discover that it’s all a not-so-subtle front for promoting our times’ latest and greatest tech. And frankly? That's fine. The rest of the year, it's hard for us to keep up, and frankly, it's time to upgrade from your ancient Bluetooth speaker, cracked-screen phone, and the earbuds you've been holding on to since they were passed out on your flight to Milwaukee in 2018. The new stuff is smarter, sleeker, and more packed with carefully curated features than ever before, in all realms of tech including home devices, sound bars, laptops, and gaming systems. 

So pass the mashed potatoes and remind your family to hold off on giving you socks for the fourth year in a row: It’s 2022, baby. There are oddly necessary gadgets to splurge on and smart-home essentials to save on

From noise-canceling headphones to speakers worthy of the pros, we’ve created the Mother of All Tech Lists. Use it to guide your own quest for the greatest deals as you rifle through the holiday sales, or print out a few copies and hand them out to the people shopping for you. It’s your call. 

The best smart home devices of 2022

While it’s a little trippy turning our homes into living, breathing computers, smart home products let us dim the lights, turn on the fire Miguel track, and answer the door without lifting a finger—and frankly, that’s rad. Here are the hottest home tech products of the holiday season.

Amazon Echo 

You’re committed to Alexa, it’s cool. The new 5th generation Echo is currently 33% off on its mothership realtor. If you’re looking for rich sound for your favorite tunes in addition to a smart home hub, this little orb’s got you covered. 

Blink Video Doorbell

It’s like screening your calls, but for visitors.

The best headphones of 2022

Lots of the best speakers, headphones, and other audio electronics are still on sale thanks to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so add to cart on these spicy sound-blasting meatballs before they sell out.

Apple’s AirPods Pro 

Wired earbuds can attempt to make a comeback all they want, but the people still very much want AirPods. Although they’re so easily susceptible to being dropped in the sewer, we still love ‘em, and we bet someone wants to find them in their stocking (unless they deserve coal). Features include noise-cancelation, touch control, water-resistance, up to 30 hours of listening time, and quick access to Siri.   

Sony’s Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones

Silencing the world truly is priceless. But if we must talk numbers, then there’s no better value than these noise-canceling headphones from Sony that are currently 35% off.

Apple’s AirPods Max

The big daddy of AirPods: the AirPods Max. Besides being more voluptuous, these are perfect for those who want to engage in hot girl (or boy) walks, are making phat beats for SoundCloud, or just know swag. Expect high-fidelity audio, noise-cancelation, cushioned memory foam, and up to 20 hours of listening time. Our favorite part? Probably the suave matte metallic color palette and the fact that it has a 4.6 star rating from over 10,000 customer reviews on Amazon. 

Bose QuietComfort Headphones

On sale or full price, these bad boys from Bose are worth every penny.

The Best Speakers and Audio Equipment of 2022

Still using that tiny, tinny Bluetooth speaker you got for free from the holiday raffle in 2016? Pal, no. Get thee some decent bass.

Bose Smart Soundbar 

Gifts don’t do you any good if they’re stuck at the North Pole. This Bose smart sound bar is on sale for 20% off and is available for fast delivery, so you can confidently schedule a better-sounding movie marathon on Christmas morning. 

Sonos Roam

Move over, crappy travel speaker—it’s time for an upgrade. Invest in a Sonos Roam. It adapts its sound to fit your surroundings, plus, it’s waterproof. Now that’s a grown-up portable speaker. 

Sony Bookshelf Speaker System

Normally, you’d be hard pressed to find this high-fidelity pair of bookshelf speakers for more than 77 bucks off, but as Taylor Swift says, “‘Tis the damn season.” 

The Best TVs and Streaming Devices of 2022

With the amount of time we now spend pummeling our brains with Love Island and true crime TV, watching our favorite shows with seamless streaming and high-def screens is a legitimately good investment.

Samsung 4K Smart TVs 

If you’re a veteran Black Friday shopper, chances are you’ve witnessed hand-to-hand combat over a TV out on the front lines. B&H is doing its part to keep us all civilized by launching its deals online, like this 55-inch Samsung Smart TV. At 500 dollars off, it’s a deal worth throwing hands over. 

Insignia 39” Class Smart TV

This is a massive bang for your buck and has fantastic reviews. In the spirit of the season, it’s now under $200. Go crazy. 

Roku Ultra 

Even with Black Friday prices, not all of us are in the market for a new TV. That doesn’t mean we’re excluded from a streaming glow-up, though. The Roku Ultra—which comes with 30 free days of HBO Max.

Apple TV 

Calling all Apple devotees: The 2022 Apple TV 4K is here, ready to enhance the visuals of your existing setup and open the doors to the world of Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, and HBO Max. 

The Best Gamer Gifts of 2022

Yep—you know them already. But here’s the latest on the greatest gifts for gaming freaks.

Nintendo’s Switch

What a gem this gaming console is. Not only do you get to indulge in Mario Kart, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, and Pokémon, but you get to escape from the pain of reality and have an excuse to not leave the house.

Oculus Quest 2

Ready to get all Ready Player One in your living room? Time to finally try out this world-bending VR headset. 

Playstation 5 Cooling Fan 

If you’re well versed in the realm of gaming, you’re highly aware of the Xbox 360 ring of death. It’s said to be caused by the console overheating, so we’re not taking any chances on our other gaming systems. This cooling fan helps dissipate heat and helps improve your precious tech baby’s lifespan.

The Best Laptops and Tablets of 2022

There’s nothing quite like getting a new laptop or tablet to make you realize how badly your one from college needs to be tossed in the trash. This is why it’s smart to shop for new computers while prices are low for holiday sales.

Apple’s MacBook Pro

The new MacBook Pro is still an investment. But Amazon’s generous 12% off price drop makes the Apple powerhouse a little more attainable. 

Apple’s MacBook Air

People can rag on Macs all they want. The truth is they reign supreme when it comes to computers. This one is the 2020 edition, but it’s not any less worthy of being a part of your tech lineup. It has a 4.8 star average review score and over 13,000 total customer reviews on Amazon. “Even in 2022, this laptop is a solid choice,” one reviewer wrote. “As can be expected from Apple, the build quality feels premium.” Expect up to 18-hour battery life, sharp and vibrant image display, and speed efficiency. 

HP Chromebook 

Ah, a great budget laptop for college students who can only afford microwavable ramen noodles.

Apple’s 10.2-Inch iPad 

Mr. Bezos attempted to dupe the oh so precious iPad with Amazon’s Fire Tablet, but it just ain’t the same dude. You can’t just wake up one morning and beat its retina display, ultra wide camera, stereo speakers, and up to 10 hours of battery life. Although it’s an older model, it’s still primed for performance.

Microsoft Surface Tablets

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly tablet that doesn’t skimp on storage, display, battery life, or graphics, let me introduce you to the Microsoft Surface Go 2.

The Best Wearable Tech of 2022

Guarantee you’ll get those 10,000 steps in (and better yet, don’t force yourself to fumble around for your phone whenever you want to see what time it is).

Apple’s Watch Series 8

We like to think of the Apple Watch as the athletic version of a Rolex, minus the potential that attempting to purchase one will cause us to go bankrupt. This wrist candy is more tech savvy than our IT guy from middle school (did they even do anything???) Get insights on your blood oxygen levels, heart rhythm, stages of sleep, and workout performance while also being able to take calls and send texts. 

Fitbit Charge 5

Health nuts, gather ‘round to track your mile pace and heart rate come January—right around the time of year when you're trying to work off all the holiday treats you’ve been thoughtlessly chomping donw. The latest Fitbit Charge 5 comes with stress management tools, which you hopefully won’t have to utilize as much in 2023. (It’s also marked down right now.)

Enjoy the upgrades, and may your smart devices be obedient and all your content be fire in 2023.

Categories: Tech News

The 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6’s interior lighting might cheer you up

ARS Technica - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 09:47
the Hyundai Ioniq 6 interior with a man in the driver's seat

Enlarge / LEDs have opened up new possibilities for lighting car interiors, as seen in the new Hyundai Ioniq 6. (credit: Hyundai)

The annual auto show is underway in Los Angeles this week, and Hyundai used the event to make the North American debut of its next electric vehicle, the Ioniq 6. It's a curvaceous sedan, one that looks better in person than on a two-dimensional screen, and when it goes on sale in 2023, it will be yet another example of the lighting revolution that has brightened up automotive interiors, and perhaps can brighten a driver's mood.

We've written before about how LEDs have been embraced by designers crafting the exteriors of new cars. Freed from the old confines of inefficient bulbs and large, often round reflectors, today new cars and trucks are decorated by strips and slashes of yellow and red daylight running lights, with headlamps that light brighter and throw farther down the road. If a car's headlights are its face—and humans are good at seeing faces in things—then new lighting technology has given our vehicles a new range of expressions.

Instead of direct lighting, the Ioniq 6's LEDs project onto the door cards.

Instead of direct lighting, the Ioniq 6's LEDs project onto the door cards. (credit: Hyundai)

Vehicle interiors are becoming more expressive, too. LEDs have taken over from incandescents here, bringing color along for the ride. The Ioniq 6, for example, boasts 64 different hues to choose from, backlighting the door cards and the dashboard.

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Categories: Tech News

Here’s What Could Happen Now That Republicans Have Won the House

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 09:46

Republicans clinched the House of Representatives on Wednesday, more than a week after Election Day, after outlets projected that they’d won their 218th seat

That means we’re once again headed for a divided government, with Democrats holding the Senate and the White House, and Republicans in control of the House. And while Republican gains were much slimmer than they’d hoped, they’ll still have the ability to throw an enormous wrench into the Democrats’ plans for the next two years.

House Minority Leader and likely future House Speaker Kevin McCarthy bragged last year that Republicans could flip as many as 60 seats. With six races yet to be called, however, it’s likely they’ll only net somewhere around a dozen, in what turned out to be the best midterm election for the sitting president’s party in 20 years. Democrats also flipped three governorships (while losing one, in Nevada) and could expand their Senate majority with a victory in the Georgia runoff next month. 

As of Friday, we’re still waiting on calls on races in California, Alaska, and—unexpectedly—far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert’s seat in Colorado, which is going to a recount. But Republicans seized the majority with the help of gerrymandering, as well as strong performances in Florida and New York.

McCarthy easily won re-election as House Republican leader this week, despite a challenge from former House Freedom Caucus chair Andy Biggs, and is widely expected to become Speaker of the House.

McCarthy was poised to assume this role in 2015, but abruptly dropped out for still-mysterious reasons, unlocking a chain of events that resulted in Paul Ryan becoming Speaker. Back then, the House Freedom Caucus had forced out John Boehner and rallied behind a conservative opponent to McCarthy, which drove the then-Majority Leader McCarthy to admit that he wasn’t the unifying figure the caucus needed. He dropped out. 

This time around, McCarthy has solidified his position after years spent kowtowing to former President Donald Trump and the far-right faction of his caucus. McCarthy voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, supported dumping Liz Cheney from Republican leadership, and defended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene when Democrats booted her from committee assignments in early 2021 because of her racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories and posts appearing to support violence against prominent Democrats

Greene has repaid the favor by already announcing she’ll back McCarthy and encouraging her fellow right-wingers to do the same, for fear of moderate Republicans working with the Democrats to elect a more centrist House Speaker. It’s not just paranoia—Biggs and GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz have already said they won’t back McCarthy for Speaker, and Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon, who narrowly won re-election, said he would be open to working with Democrats to elect a more moderate House Speaker if the Republican caucus can’t figure it out on their own. 

“I will support Kevin McCarthy, but if we do get to that point, I do want the country to work and we need to govern,” Bacon told NBC News. “We can’t sit neutral. We can’t have total gridlock for two years.”

Faced with a majority of just a few seats, whoever becomes House Speaker will likely have to patch together a caucus of far-right true believers and skeptical moderate Republicans who blame Trump and his acolytes for the party’s poor midterms performance.

But if McCarthy’s own statements and recent history are any indication, we’re in for two years of seriously dysfunctional government—including investigations of the Biden administration, retaliation against House Democrats for the January 6 committee and for booting far-right Republicans off their committee assignments last year. There’s also a fight brewing on the debt ceiling that has the potential to crush the U.S. economy. 

Here’s what’s coming.

Investigations and impeachments galore

Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer, who’s expected to chair the House Oversight Committee in the next Congress, has made it clear the committee will proceed full-tilt into investigating the Biden administration and people close to the President himself, including his son, Hunter Biden.  

“There’s mounting evidence that Hunter Biden was peddling access to our adversaries all over the world. The reason we are investigating Hunter Biden is because we believe he is a national security threat. But we are also concerned that Hunter’s shady business dealings have compromised Joe Biden,” Comer claimed on Fox News last month.

House Republicans spent much of Thursday pledging to investigate the “Biden Crime Family.” 

The House Oversight Committee has long been one of the most partisan in Congress, and that doesn’t appear likely to change in the new session. McCarthy is considering giving Greene a spot on the committee and Comer has also expressed an openness to her joining, though he has maintained he doesn’t want it to become a “dog and pony show.” 

Comer has also called for investigations of the origins of COVID-19, pandemic relief spending, and perhaps the most visible public health official in the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci. “Retirement can’t shield Dr. Fauci from congressional oversight,” Comer said in a statement after Fauci announced he would step down from the federal government this summer

Other committees aren’t going to let the Oversight Committee monopolize the spotlight, though. 

Incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman and Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, a close Trump ally, has sent letters to both the the Justice Department and the FBI demanding that they preserve documents. It’s a clear sign that he’ll be gunning for both parts of the administration in retaliation for the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property to recover unsecured classified documents, which the DOJ authorized. 

McCarthy is on board with this having accused the DOJ of “weaponized politicization” and promised to “leave no stone unturned” in investigating it once the GOP won back House control following the Mar-a-Lago search.

House Republicans have also threatened to impeach Attorney General Merrick Garland. Thirty-three House Republicans already moved to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over what they claim is negligence at controlling immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. Some Republicans including Greene even want to impeach Biden, though having such a narrow majority could complicate those efforts. 

Some of these investigations are more legitimate than others, but Republicans have made it clear they’re far more interested in hurting Biden than in holding the government accountable. There’s precedent for that: They used the House Select Committee on Benghazi investigation to weaken Hillary Clinton ahead of her 2016 run. 

Jordan played a key role in that investigation, and in 2015, McCarthy predicted—correctly—that it would help keep her from winning the White House. 

Biden’s agenda hits a roadblock

Over the past two years, despite razor-thin majorities in the House and the Senate, the Democrats were able to pass major spending bills through the reconciliation process, including the American Rescue Plan stimulus package in early 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act, which included some climate and healthcare provisions of Biden’s proposed Build Back Better agenda. 

But when Republicans take control of the House in January, most if not all of what’s on the Democrats’ wishlist will be dead on arrival. 

Considering Comer has pledged to investigate what’s already been spent on the COVID-19 response—not to mention Biden’s bewildering declaration that the pandemic was “over” in September—it’s likely that Biden’s request this week for $10 billion to further fund efforts to combat COVID-19 will go ignored as well, even as we face the prospect of another long pandemic winter. Democrats have played a role in that as well, as the current Congress has repeatedly punted on passing new funding for COVID vaccines, testing, and treatment. 

The Senate additionally voted this week to end the emergency COVID-19 declaration, with support from every Republican and a dozen Democrats including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Biden has pledged to veto this bill. But if some version of it passes next year, it could hamstring Biden’s ability to extend the student loan pause, which he’s reportedly considering doing while the administration fights legal challenges to the student debt forgiveness plan it announced in August.

Republicans taking the House also has potential ramifications for the United States’ continuing funding of the Ukrainian war effort and humanitarian efforts to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. McCarthy said in October that Ukraine wouldn’t be given a “blank check” if Republicans took back the majority. 

McCarthy later worked behind the scenes to reassure leading members of his caucus he wasn’t in favor of cutting off funding altogether, according to CNN. But on Thursday, Greene and other House Republicans held a press conference in which they called for an audit of U.S. spending on Ukraine. 

“We voted ‘no’ to send money over there, but we’re also going to audit what’s happening in Ukraine,” Greene said.

Another debt ceiling limit looms

Republicans love to spend huge sums of government money on tax cuts and funding what’s already the most expensive military of the world when they’re in power, only to demand that Congress slash social programs when Democrats are in the White House. And it appears the GOP’s new majority is already preparing to once again force deep cuts when the debt ceiling limit is exhausted, which will likely happen next summer.

McCarthy has made it clear that given a chance, he’ll hold a debt ceiling increase hostage to try to force deep cuts to federal spending. That could include cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and green energy programs. 

“A debt ceiling is you hit a limit on your credit card. So if you’re going to give a person a higher limit wouldn’t you first say ‘you should change your behavior’ so you just don’t keep raising it all the time?” he told CNN prior to the election. “Washington has so much wasteful spending.”

An actual default, however, could tank the U.S. economy, boosting interest rates on everyday bills like mortgages and credit cards and badly damaging investors’ faith that America will pay its bills. And while McCarthy has indicated he won’t actually cause a default, House Republicans are clearly planning to use the threat of it as leverage, as they have for the past decade

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democrats are pushing to resolve the debt ceiling before Republicans take control of the House in January. But they’d need at least 10 Republican votes in the Senate to do so, and several prominent GOP senators have already poured cold water on the idea

Subpoenas as retaliation

After Democrats removed Greene from her committees, and when they booted Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar from his committees for embracing white supremacists and sharing violent memes, McCarthy and other Republicans warned they’d take revenge when took back the House.

McCarthy specifically said that he might look to bar Reps. Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, and Ilhan Omar from sitting on committees.

“The Democrats have created a new thing where they’re picking and choosing who could be on committee. Never in the history have you had the majority tell the minority who could be on committee,” McCarthy told Breitbart News in January.

Top House Republicans have also indicated that they plan to subpoena the records of the House Jan. 6 Committee, and issue retaliatory subpoenas to top House Democrats as payback for the subpoenas the committee sent to some House Republicans who were involved in the efforts to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss—including McCarthy. 

“The base is out for blood on subpoenas,” a House Republican aide told Axios this summer. “A lot of it will just depend on how far McCarthy wants to go.”

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Categories: Tech News

iFixit stabs batteries – for science – so you don't have to

The Register - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 09:31
The point? To demonstrate the safety of lithium-ion power packs when handled properly

If you've ever wondered how and why lithium-ion batteries in devices like smartphones and laptops combust, iFixit is here with an explosive video and some accompanying wisdom on safe battery-handling.…

Categories: Tech News

We now have a pretty good idea what the “Connecticut vampire” looked like

ARS Technica - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 09:31
Forensic facial of JB55's appearance

Enlarge / Forensic facial reconstruction of the "Connecticut vampire" (aka JB55), accounting for known tooth loss and inferred health issues. Hair is based on 19th-century styles. Skin, hair, and eye color are based on phenotype predictions. (credit: Parabon NanoLabs )

Thanks to the efforts of Parabon NanoLabs and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, we now know what the so-called "Connecticut vampire" probably looked like. Using DNA analysis and a 3D scan of the skull, the two labs collaborated to digitally reconstruct the face of the 19th-century man whose remains were discovered more than 30 years ago. The image was revealed earlier this month at the International Symposium on Human Identification conference in Washington, DC. The work also builds on earlier DNA analysis to strengthen the evidence that the man in question was a former resident named John Barber.

As we've reported previously, children playing near a gravel pit in Griswold, Connecticut, back in 1990 stumbled across a pair of skulls that had broken free of their graves in a 19th-century unmarked cemetery. Subsequent excavation revealed 27 graves—including that of a middle-age man identified only by the initials "JB55," spelled out in brass tacks on his coffin. Unlike the other burials, his skull and femurs were neatly arranged in the shape of a skull and crossbones, leading archaeologists to conclude that the man had been a suspected "vampire" by his community.

Analysis of JB55's bones in the 1990s indicated the man had been a middle-age laborer, around 55 when he died. The remains also showed signs of lesions on the ribs, so JB55 suffered from a chronic lung condition—most likely tuberculosis, known at the time as consumption. It was frequently lethal in the 1800s due to the lack of antibiotics, and symptoms included a bloody cough, jaundice (pale, yellowed skin), red and swollen eyes, and a general appearance of "wasting away." And the sickness often spread to family members. That could be why local folklore suspected some victims of being vampires, rising from the grave to sicken the community they left behind.

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What It’s Like Inside the Penal Colony Brittney Griner Was Sent to in Russia

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 09:19

After two weeks of radio silence from Russian officials regarding Brittney Griner’s transfer to an unnamed labor camp, her attorneys confirmed on Thursday that the WNBA player turned Russian political prisoner had been taken to Female Penal Colony IK-2 in Mordovia.

It is here, about 300 miles from where she was first detained on drug possession and smuggling charges, that she will serve the rest of her nine-and-a-half-year sentence—unless the U.S. negotiates a prisoner swap for her release.

An expert on Russian women’s penal colonies told VICE News that while Griner has been sent to one of the nation’s more orderly institutions, her experience in the former gulag will be determined by how she’s perceived by staff and fellow inmates during her first few weeks there.

Griner, a basketball All-Star and Olympic gold medalist, has been in Russian custody since February, after she was caught with less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow, just two weeks before Russian forces invaded Ukraine. After months in jail awaiting trial, she was sentenced to the near-maximum of 10 years in August, and lost an appeal in October.

The Russian penal system is plagued by human rights violations, as well as hazardous working conditions, poor infrastructure, and a general lack of transparency. The country’s prisons have mostly retained the infamous reputation of their Soviet-era predecessor, the gulag system. These remote, torturous labor camps were used to disappear the political enemies of the Russian government under Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, and were meant to be dismantled entirely shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union.

Russian Female Penal Colony No. 2.jpgWomen's Penal Colony No. 2 in Yavas, Mordovia in 2017. (Photo: Iliya Pitalev/Sputnik via AP)

VICE News spoke to University of Oxford professor Judith Pallot, who’s spent almost two decades researching women’s penal colonies in Russia. Pallot is one of the few non-Russians who’s been allowed to conduct research inside Russia’s penal colonies for women, including the one to which Griner has been sent.

Female Penal Colony IK-2

Female Penal Colony IK-2 is located in Mordovia’s western rural county Zubova Polyana, and is one of at least 15 correctional colonies in what Pallot called a penal fiefdom.

“This region was first formed in 1930 and was one of the first Gulag camps,” Pallot said. “The prison staff there and the prisoners still refer to it by its Gulag name ‘Dubravlag,’ which means ‘Oak Tree labor camp.’ They decided in the 1950s to make some of the most fearsome gulags have these lovely nature names.”

The facility had a longstanding reputation for abhorrent labor practices and physical abuses against its prisoners, though a change in leadership in 2021 allegedly squashed these issues.

Penal colonies are divided into two categories in Russia: red penal colonies and black penal colonies. Black colonies are where prison gangs, through their relationships and negotiations with the staff, have a major influence over how the colony runs, while at red colonies the state is in full control.

According to Pallot, IK-2 is a hyper-red colony, where as many as 30 percent of prisoners work directly with the administration in these facilities to maintain order and ensure the state has full awareness of what occurs there. This kind of control is particularly prevalent in all women’s facilities, Pallot said.

“Obviously they put her in a place where they are absolutely confident that things are not going to get out of control.”

“Because so many of the women have children left at home, and they want to get in with the administration so that they might get early release,” Pallot said. “The administration plays on that. So obviously they put her in a place where they are absolutely confident that things are not going to get out of control.”

IK-2 is also, in only the most basic ways, better than the average penal colony. Washrooms and toilets will likely be in better condition. While dozens of other facilities lack consistent hot running water, that is unlikely to be an issue. Pallot said it will be a far cry from some of the worst conditions recorded by other high-profile prisoners who served time in other colonies, including Pussy Riot frontwoman Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who was subjected to grossly under equipped “hygiene rooms” and showers that were often useless because of overcrowding and faulty plumbing.

Prison orientation

In the first two weeks of her stay, Griner will be in what is called quarantine, essentially the prison equivalent of orientation. Prison leaders will give her a full rundown of the facility's rules, as well as her rights and obligations as a prisoner. They will also conduct numerous medical checkups including blood tests, tuberculosis, and as well as a psychological evaluation to determine if she’s fit for work.

During this period of adaptation, Griner will also likely be watched closely by both prison staff and prisoners selected by staff to act as informants.

“Quarantine is also a time when, for certain Russian prisoners, the prison administration begins to take a view on whether the prisoner is going to be a ‘regime violator’ as they call it or somebody who is going to behave well,” Pallot said.

These observations will likely determine everything from what detachment, or facility dormitory, she will end up in, to the kind of surveillance she’ll be under for the remainder of her sentence.

“If we think of somebody like [Russian opposition leader and activist Alexei] Navalny, he was automatically subject to constant 24-hour surveillance,” Pallot said. “It is something that she and we will find out over time.”

If Griner isn’t under special watch by the end of quarantine, she will receive the standard conditions of detention. Under these conditions, Griner can earn special privileges, such as the right to receive additional parcels and extended visits, through good behavior.

An ‘exotic’ prisoner

All of these factors can be shaped by Griner’s celebrity and her status as a foreigner. She is not only an American who’s been in the news for almost a year, she’s also a Black, openly gay woman, a six-foot-nine Olympian. She will likely be viewed as “exotic” by her fellow inmates and prison staff, Pallot said.

“Because Brittney doesn’t speak Russian, she is particularly susceptible to people who will come up and want to make friends with her. The advice I would give would be to be extremely careful about the first few days and making friends with people because they’re most likely to be the informants.”

Once her place in the system is solidified, Griner will be assigned a specific job for the entirety of her stay. The most common labor for women at this facility is at a workshop or factory, where prisoners are forced to make clothing for emergency service workers—as well as soldiers, since the country is at war with Ukraine.

There is also a chance that Griner will be handed the responsibility of painting matryoshka dolls, the popular nesting ornaments synonymous with Russian culture. She could also be made to do farm work, as much of the food used at the facility is produced by the prisoners themselves, or even a more innocuous job like a position in the colony’s kitchen or library.

“Most likely, she’ll end up in the factory. That happens to most foreign prisoners.”

“In theory, if they’re trying to make things nice for her, they could put her in charge of the library, but that’s highly unlikely. Most likely, she’ll end up in the factory. That happens to most foreign prisoners,” Pallot said.

The only thing that can cut Griner’s incarceration short is U.S. intervention. A state department spokesperson told Reuters that while the United States “strongly protest[s]” being in the dark about her transfer, the State Department is now aware of where she’s been placed and is “in frequent contact” with her legal team. A prisoner trade remains her only avenue for freedom and a safe return home. Earlier this year, it was rumored that the U.S. considered trading arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is currently 11 years into a 25-year prison sentence, for both Griner and ex-Marine Paul Whelan. This week, it appeared Russia was still considering a trade involving Bout, which President Joe Biden approved of as early as July this year.

In the meantime, Griner’s attorneys Maria Blaggovolina and Alexander Boykov say they visited here at IK-2 earlier this week and that she is “doing as well as could be expected.” 

“Despite the fact she is alone and now nearing her ninth month in detention separated from her loved ones, she is trying to stay strong,” Griner’s agent Lindsay Colas said in a statement via Twitter this week. “At this time, we will not be sharing any further details, but want to express our deepest thanks to the Biden Administration… and to everyone who has reached out to offer words of encouragement to her.”

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Categories: Tech News

It would take a 'catastrophic' recession to stop tech spend growth, says IBM boss

The Register - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 08:30
Tells Economic Club of New York no one he knows is trimming IT budgets

Corporations large and small are not yet showing any signs of clipping their enterprise technology spending says IBM's boss, despite mounting fears about the parlous state of economies around the world. Maybe it's wishful thinking.…

Categories: Tech News

Twitter mayhem, staff cuts have advertisers bailing on the platform

ARS Technica - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 08:20
Twitter mayhem, staff cuts have advertisers bailing on the platform

Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto / Contributor | NurPhoto)

Advertisers pulling out of Twitter as the platform remains unstable under Elon Musk’s leadership have many reasons to be concerned about brand safety, Reuters reported.

Major brands pausing advertising include Audi of America, United Airlines, General Mills, General Motors, Volkswagen, Modelez International (which makes popular products like Oreos), and Omnicon (which manages advertising for brands like McDonalds and Apple). Beyond the damage of brand impersonations through the Twitter Blue paid verification scandal, spokespersons for these groups have pointed to increases in hate speech on the platform and cuts to Twitter support staff as most worrying.

“We felt there is a risk our advertising would appear next to the wrong messages," Mondelez CEO Dirk Van de Put told Reuters.

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Arizona’s New Secretary of State Wants to Call ‘Election Deniers’ ‘Traitors’

Motherboard (Vice) - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 08:04

This content comes from the latest installment of our weekly Breaking the Vote newsletter out of VICE News’ D.C. bureau, tracking the ongoing efforts to undermine the democratic process in America. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday.

“I have not conceded, we all know why. That is all,” Mark Finchem, the QAnon-promoting, Oath Keeper-repping GOP candidate for Arizona Secretary of State tweeted after he lost. Finchem was among the last of former President Donald Trump’s cadre of election-denying candidates to have his race called last week. He lost to Democrat Adrian Fontes, a lawyer and former Maricopa County recorder. I reached out to Fontes to see how he felt about bringing down one of 2022’s democracy-threatening candidates. 

What message do you think Arizona voters were sending in your win over Mark Finchem? 

Arizona voters told its government, “we’re ok with elections the way they are now. We don’t want major changes. We don’t want hand counts. We’re ok with machines the way they are. We don’t want the Big Lie any more. We just want to vote, find out who won, who lost.” That’s what my mandate is. 

Why do you say it’s time to do away with the term “election deniers” to describe people who falsely say Biden didn’t win in 2020? 

Calling them election deniers gives them too much breathing room. It minimizes the threat in using that label. It’s as if we’re trying to be politically correct against the political aggressor and I don’t believe in that type of appeasement. Call the traitor a traitor. Call the seditionist a seditionist. Call the authoritarian an authoritarian. Why let them off the hook? We’re gonna hurt their feelings?

Sometimes bad guys don’t like being called bad guys. And just because they’re sensitive does mean they’re not a-holes. 

Huh. I’m not sure I’ve heard that from any other candidate. Pro-democracy candidates seemed to do pretty well in the midterms. But a lot of them at times seemed to struggle to find clear and salient language about what was at stake for democracy. 

We came up with a slogan around this. “Sabemos lo que es perderlo.” ”We know what it’s like to lose it.” We used it in all our Spanish-language radio and TV ads. The idea that we know what it’s like to lose it is real from a cultural context and the cultural history of Latinos and Native Americans in Arizona. 

It was hard to justify a basic translation about democracy that was relevant to the cultural DNA of “pioneers” or “trailblazers.” It doesn’t have the same cultural heft if you were the child of a family that was here already when the pioneers showed up. Or if you’re an immigrant from some other Latin American country because you ran away from authoritarianism or totalitarianism.  

I felt it as a Hispanic man in the US. I wanted to hold myself to a higher standard because I’m not just representing a party or a brand, but myself. And I wanted to do it right with something better than a rote translation.

Mark Finchem and others on the right are now debasing the election, calling for a redo, and demanding it not be certified. It appears election denialism isn’t going anywhere in Arizona, even as you get ready to take over.

They don’t like being pushed back against. You saw his reactions on Twitter. I don’t follow him because I don’t give a shit what he has to say, but he was melting down. People of strength don’t usually do that. He’s very weak, and it shows. The Republicans who voted for me saw it. As for their demands, I don’t occupy myself with nonsense until there’s something real to deal with. This election was a good election and was run well. We’ll have a canvass in a week or so, we may have one or two recounts, but we’ll move on. And democracy has survived. 

Kari Lake, Republican gubernatorial candidate for Arizona, speaks during an Arizona Republican Party election night rally in Scottsdale, Arizona, US, on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (Jon Cherry/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Kari Lake, Republican gubernatorial candidate for Arizona, speaks during an Arizona Republican Party election night rally in Scottsdale, Arizona, US, on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (Jon Cherry/Bloomberg via Getty Images) unnamed (2) (1).jpg

The Lake effect 

Right-wing conspiracists who’ve staked their relevance (and tons of income) on perpetuating stolen-election mythology were running short of options this week. It was bad enough that many of their favorite candidates lost in the midterms. Far worse: many acknowledged their defeats and conceded. It was clear a lot of candidates realized that voters had rejected election conspiracies just days before. Maybe there’s not much future in it! Even Donald Trump didn’t talk about them much in his low-energy announcement at Mar-a-Lago. So it was clear that the online authoritarians were pinning their immediate hopes on Kari Lake, Arizona’s election-denying GOP candidate for governor, as their best bet for keeping the lies alive. 

Kari Lake didn’t let them down. 

Lake said next to nothing (aside from crying “BS!”) after the race was called for current Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, but she broke her silence yesterday. Unlike many GOP candidates who lost and said so, Lake is throwing in her chips with the GOP base, who, unlike its elites and donors, believe tripling down on election conspiracy theories is still the path to power in the party. 

And just in case you’re wondering where that path leads for Lake, that video posted Thursday morning. By the afternoon, Lake was at Mar-a-Lago

Former Vice President Mike Pence visits Former Vice President Mike Pence visits "Fox & Friends" at Fox News Channel studios on November 16, 2022 in New York City. (John Lamparski/Getty Images)

T.W.I.S.™ Notes 

Republicans begged Donald Trump not to announce his candidacy for president so early. But Trump still has a grip on the party’s base. He could get the nomination. Oh yeah, and he thinks it’ll help keep him from getting charged with a bunch of crimes. This Week in Subpoenas, the Road to (dear God, I want off this hellride) 2024! 

  • Pence’ll erase

Who’s got white hair, would like to be president, and is refusing to volunteer what he knows about Trump’s attempt to overthrow the U.S. government? Former VP Mike Pence says he won’t appear in front of the January 6 committee to talk about the coup attempt, because the panel has “no right” to his testimony. As an excuse, Pence complained about partisanship and lamented that the committee wasn’t modeled after the 9/11 Commission, while ignoring the fact that Republicans killed a commission of precisely that kind. Bottom line: Pence did the right thing on Jan. 6, but now that he wants the GOP base to come back him, he’s choosing obfuscation. Apparently not even the noose Trump’s mob had ready for him is reason enough for him to stick his neck out. 

Pence won’t testify, but his top aides already have… in the January 6 committee and in the  federal grand jury running a criminal investigation into the coup plot. 

- Records and fakes

The committee will get information from Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward, who lost her battle in the Supreme Court to keep her phone records out of investigators’ hands. Ward teamed up with Trump allies, including Rudy Giuliani, to pressure Maricopa County officials to stop tabulating ballots. She also joined the fake electors plot in her state, even after expressing concerns it might be treasonous.

  • No-show

The January 6 committee made official this week what you already knew in your heart: There is no way Donald Trump is complying with subpoenas for his testimony and documents related to the coup attempt that culminated in a riot at the Capitol. There’s not much the panel can do here. Republicans will take over the House in a little over 10 weeks, and since their leadership has focused like lasers on a covering up what happened on and right before Jan. 6, it’s all but assured they’ll shut down the committee and all block the vital information it provided to the midterms-going public. 

That makes getting the committee’s report out by the New Year all the more vital. The panel floated this week that they could focus the narrative on Trump’s central role in the several facets of the coup plot, and not on other important issues like security or law enforcement lapses. Let’s hope they don’t leave out the critical role several Republican members of Congress, like Rep. Scott Perry, played in the plot to execute a coup.

- Fulton County All-Stars

It was a big week for testimony in the Fulton County grand jury investigating the effort to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. Gov. Brian Kemp, fresh off his re-election, testified on Tuesday. Cassidy Hutchinson, the former White House aide who riveted the January 6 committee with testimony of thrown lunch and a lunging president, appeared Wednesday. And Thursday it was Sen. Lindsey Graham, who’s all-in for Trump’s 2024 campaign and also called Georgia election officials to inquire about tossing ballots. 

Ret. Gen. (what the hell happened to) Mike Flynn is set to appear next week

Meanwhile, DA Fani Willis may be fixing to offer more immunity deals to get testimony out of some of the Georgia GOP’s fake electors. Willis already informed most of those fake electors that they’re targets of her investigation, so that’s making them clam up.

Here’s a helpful compendium of all the charges Trump could be facing under Georgia Law in Fulton County, ranging from interfering in elections all the way up to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, aka RICO. And since Trump has officially declared his candidacy for 2024, here are all the reasons prosecutors may have made their jobs a lot harder by moving slowly on both the coup attempt and the Mar-a-Lago documents case. 

  • Choppin’ Lagos

And HERE’s a compendium of all the charges under federal law Donald Trump could be facing in the Mar-a-Lago records case, from concealing government records, to false statements, to obstruction. It’s a model prosecution memo that concludes: DOJ has a clear case, and they would have already prosecuted it against any other offender.

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"You’re welcome.” - Liz Cheney, to Kari Lake. 

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Ballot blocks — Now that Trump is running for president again, what about the part of the Constitution that bars insurrectionists from holding public office? Democratic Rep. David Cicilline has been circulating a letter in Congress promoting legislation to do just that. Cicilline’s promising a bill that prevents Trump’s election based on the Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Activist groups have tried to block several Trumpist lawmakers from the ballot based on their role in the insurrection. None succeeded, except for one challenge that removed Otero County, N.M. commissioner Couy Griffin from office for participating in Jan. 6. 

Missed my Q — Is this Q 2.0? VICE’s David Gilbert and Mack Lamoureux have the story on how the QAnon movement has metastasized so much that enthusiasts no longer even care when the person or persons claiming to be Q post online. Don’t all prophets reach a point when their followers no longer need them? Which brings us to Trump, who invited QAnon influencers to his Mar-a-Lago speech, but really disappointed a lot of the rank and file. 

General-Lee anti-democratic — Georgia’s 2021 election restrictions mean voters will lose one Saturday of early balloting ahead of the December 6 Senate runoff. The Saturday before Election Day is when many Black churches run get-out-the-vote efforts sometimes called “Souls to the Polls.” But voting that day is now canceled because of a state holiday that until recently was used to honor Robert E. Lee. Chef’s kiss! Sen. Raphael Warnock is suing to try and get that day of voting reinstated. 

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Enemies of democracy should fear the American voter.

FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

How to fight fascism before it’s too late.

FROM THE ATLANTIC

Revenge of the Never-Trumpers.

FROM THE BULWARK

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