Some Windows users say these 32-bit apps have forgotten how to save

The Register - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 12:29
Microsoft seems to have fixed the issue for all OS versions but the latest Windows 11

Some Windows users are seeing 32-bit applications failing to copy, save, or attach files, according to Redmond itself.…

Categories: Tech News

OpenAI CEO raises $115M for crypto company that scans people’s eyeballs

ARS Technica - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 12:18
A spherical device that scans people's eyeballs.

Enlarge / Worldcoin's "Orb," a device that scans your eyeballs to verify that you're a real human.

A company co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has raised $115 million for Worldcoin, a crypto coin project that scans users' eyeballs in order "to establish an individual's unique personhood." In addition to leading the maker of ChatGPT and GPT-4, Altman is co-founder and chairman of Tools for Humanity, a company that builds technology for the Worldcoin project.

Tools for Humanity today announced $115 million in Series C funding from Blockchain Capital, Andreessen Horowitz's crypto fund, Bain Capital Crypto, and Distributed Global. Blockchain Capital said that Worldcoin's "World ID" system that involves eyeball-scanning will make it easier for applications to distinguish between bots and humans.

The Orb's components.

The Orb's components. (credit: Worldcoin)

"Worldcoin strives to become the world's largest and most inclusive identity and financial network, built around World ID and the Worldcoin token—a public utility that will be owned by everyone regardless of their background or economic status," the crypto firm's funding press release said.

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Categories: Tech News

All the Best Memorial Day 2023 Deals and Sales, in One Place

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 11:45

Nothing makes a purchase—any purchase—feel more worth it than getting a sick deal. That’s why we’re beyond psyched to start the summer off with all of the best Memorial Day 2023 sales, steals, savings, and massive markdowns in the game. We’ll be freebasing 30% off stickers and snorting raw discount codes, all while basking in the warm glow of a good ol’ fashioned three-day weekend.

You want sick Hoka sneaks? The best mattresses at the best prices? A new sex toy to stash in your bedside drawer? No problemo—the best Memorial Day sales are here. The world might be, uh, going through things (Tina Turner died? DeSantis is running for president?? #Scandoval???), but at least we can drown our existential sorrows in a new set of linen sheets, Dyson tech, and hella-marked-down home goods from some of our favorite retailers.

We did all the huntin' so you could enjoy the spoils, dear readers. Without further ado, here are the best Memorial Day 2023 sales on apparel, home, tech, cookware, outdoor gear, workout stuff, mattresses, sex toys, and beyond—from the brands, stores, and sites that we proudly and happily stand by.

Happy shopping, and smash that CTRL+F to search for a specific category or brand, since there’s a lot to unpack here.

Quick links to the best Memorial Day sales
  • ABC Carpet & Home: Get up to 30% off nearly everything (select exclusions apply)
  • Adidas: Score 55% off sneakers and apparel with code SAVINGS
  • Albany Park: Up to 30% off select couches, armchairs and furniture, with free shipping on all purchases 
  • Amazon: Shop tons of daily deals, including the Satisfyer Pro 2, our all-time favorite vibrator, for 43% off.
  • Avocado: Up to 30% off during its “Organic Sale”
  • Babeland: Get up to 69% off during the site’s flash sale event
  • Backcountry: Save up to 50% on hiking gear, men’s and women’s apparel, outdoor equipment 
  • Brooklinen: Score 20% off sitewide, including all the brand’s beloved sheets and other “comfy faves.”
  • Burrow: Up to 60% off sitewide, including bed frames, couches, seating, and storage
  • Caraway: “Refresh Savings” on its cookware, kettles, and storage pieces.
  • Dyson: Save up to $200 on select vacuums, air purifiers, and other technology
  • Everlane: Take up to 30% off during the brand’s Memorial Day Weekend Sale
  • Fun Factory: Up to 30% off sitewide, including 20% off the Vim Vibrating Wand
  • Great Jones: Score 25% off select cookware accessories with code MDW25
  • Hot Octopuss: Get 25% off for Masturbation May
  • Huckberry: Take 30% off (or more) select items from multiple brands sitewide
  • LELO: Up to 50% off for Masturbation Month
  • Levi’s: Save up to 40% during the denim brand’s “It’s Summer Sale”
  • Lovehoney: Save up to 60% off a single brand item with the code WEEKEND
  • Made In: Up to 30% off stylish cookware 
  • Madewell Get 30% off with code WARMUP
  • MysteryVibe: Save up to 25% off select vibrators during the spring sale
  • Nordstrom: The Half-Yearly Sale is on, with huge markdowns on men’s and women’s clothing, home goods, beauty, and more.
  • The North Face: Score up to 50% off select styles
  • Ooni: Save up to 30% off select pizza ovens and gear
  • Parachute: Get 20% off everything sitewide
  • PinkCherry: Get up to 80% off clearance items with the code MAY, and an extra 30% off everything else 
  • Purple: Savings of up to $800 off on its mattresses.
  • Ruggable: Get up to 15% off sitewide with code MD23
  • REI: Save up to 30% off during its Anniversary Sale 
  • Saatva: Take up to $375 off when you spend $1000 or more
  • SKIMS: Up to 60% off during its Bi-Annual Sale 
  • Sleep Number: Get 50% off select smart beds and 30% off furniture
  • Solo Stove: Save up to 50% off fire pit tools
  • SSENSE: Men’s and women’s fashions are up to 50% off
  • Tuft & Needle: Save up to $775 on mattresses, with up to 40% off furniture, bedding and accessories
  • Tushy: 25% off all bidets and bundles with code SUMMERBUM
  • Urban Outfitters: Save up to 50% off summer essentials
  • Wayfair: Up to 70% off across several categories
  • West Elm: Save up to 60% off, with an extra 15% off with code EXTRA15 
  • Williams Sonoma: Up to 50% off select home and kitchen gear
The best Memorial Day sales on tech

Amazon has plenty of daily deals on tech across all categories, including Sony headphones for up to 35% off.

Best Buy is offering up to 40% off major appliances and up to $500 off big-screen TVs, plus loads of other tech deals. Don’t miss Apple deals as well—grab MacBooks for as low as $799.99 and iPads for as low as $269.99.

Dell is offering up to $650 off a variety of laptops, including new models of the Inspiron and XPS lines.

Dyson has select vacuums, air purifiers, and other technology for up to $200 off.

Marshall has a couple of its sexy sound makers on sale.

Renpho has slashed our favorite eye massager for $65 off.

Samsung is offering up to $800 off its popular Frame TV.

Therabody is offering up to 30% off its refurbished cult-fave massage guns.

Walmart, in typical fashion, has great deals on electronics this weekend, including laptops, headphones, smartwatches, tablets, and more.

The best Memorial Day sales on home goods

Anthropologie is offering up to 40% off home goods.

Albany Park’s Memorial Day sale means up to 30% off the brand’s ultra-comfy Kova sofas and more of its gorgeous furniture—plus free shipping.

AllModern is taking up to 60% off its mid-century-modern inspired sofas, chairs, decor, and furnitureyou’ll also save an extra 20 percent with promo code GET20.

Amazon has big discounts on cookware, bedding, appliances, and more, including this Levoit Air Purifier.

Brooklinen is offering 20% sitewide—our editors’ picks include the Luxe Sateen duvet cover and linen sheet sets.

Burrow is offering up to 60% off its array of modular, apartment-friendly sofas and furniture for its Memorial Day sale.

Caraway has “Re-Fresh Savings” on its cookware, kettles, and storage pieces.

Castlery is offering up to $550 off sitewide—maybe it’s time to finally score the Dawson sofa.

Hydrow wants to whip you into shape with its rowing machines that are up to $650 off.

KitchenAid: Save up to $180 on the brand’s highly coveted stand mixers—they’re well worth it even when they’re not on sale, so score one for your countertop, stat.

Made In is offering up to 30% off its stylish cookware.

Ooni’s has select pizza ovens and gear for up to 30% off, including the top-rated Karu 12 Multi-Fuel Pizza Oven for $100 off.

Parachute is taking 20% off your entire purchase, so upgrade your bedsheets, duvet cover, or mattress, stat.

Pottery Barn is offering up to 50% off outdoor furniture, sofas, bedroom furniture, lighting, and way more.

Solo Stove has fire pit tools for up to 50% off for your next outdoor shindig.

Wayfair is holding a Memorial Day Clearance Sale with deals up to 70% off across all categories.

West Elm is offering up to 60% off its coveted furniture and decor for Memorial Day.

The best Memorial Day mattress deals

Avocado has its certified-organic mattresses for up to 30% off during its Organic Sale (hehe).

Bear Mattress is gracing us with 35% off sitewide, including $400 worth of sleep accessories.

Beautyrest is offering up to $900 off its mattresses and adjustable bases.

Casper has its plush mattresses, pillows, and sheets for 20% off sitewide.

DreamCloud has all its mattresses for 40% off.

Helix is offering 20% off sitewide when you use the code MEMORIALDAY25, in addition to two Dream Pillows.

Molecule has mattresses up to 35% off.

Purple has savings of up to $800 off on its mattresses.

Tempur-Pedic is in the midst of Memorial Day “Sitebusters” with savings of up to 40% off.

Tuft & Needle has savings of up to $775 off on mattresses.

Saatva has savings on mattresses up to $600 off.

Sealy’s  Posturepedic Hybrid is 20% off with the code P20.

Serta is offering up to $900 off its mattresses and adjustable bases.

Sleep Number is offering up to 50% off smart beds.

The best Memorial Day deals on sexual toys and wellness

Fun Factory has toys up to 30% off sitewide, including 20% off the Vim Vibrating Wand.

Hot Octopuss is blessing us with 25% off for Masturbation May, with 40% off the Pulse Solo Lux with code MEM40.

LELO is offering up to 50% off for Masturbation Month.

Lovers is offering an extra 20% off clearance items with the code SPRUNG.

Lovehoney is offering up to 60% off a single Lovehoney brand item with the code WEEKEND.

MysteryVibe has savings of up to 25% off on select vibrators during the spring sale.

PinkCherry is offering up to 80% off clearance items with the code MAY, and an extra 30% off everything else.

The best Memorial Day fashion deals

Abercrombie & Fitch is offering 25% off select styles.

Adidas is offering 55% off select sneakers and apparel with code SAVINGS.

ASOS has tons of “fresh faves” up to 50% off.

Everlane is offering 30% off on a variety summer styles, including sneakers, shorts and accessories.

Hoka’s Clifton 8 sneakers are on sale in a variety of colors, so get ready to join the cult of the super-popular footwear brand.

J.Crew is offering 40% off and an extra 50% off when you use code WEEKEND.

Levi’s is offering savings of up to 40% off during the denim brand’s “It’s Summer Sale”

Lululemon has an ongoing “We Made Too Much” sale with glorious discounts.

Madewell is offering 30% off with code WARMUP.

MATCHESFASHION is offering up to 50% off.

Nordstrom is in the midst of its Half-Yearly Sale, with huge markdowns on men’s and women’s clothing, home goods, beauty, and more.

REI has up to 30% off savings on multiple brands and categories, including REI Co-op gear and clothing as part of its Anniversary Sale.

Revolve has ongoing sale items on summer essentials.

Savage x Fenty is offering up to 70% off sitewide now through May 31.

SKIMS is in the midst of its Bi-Annual Sale, so now is the time to stock up.

SSENSE has men’s and women’s fashions for up to 50% off to spruce up your spring fits.

The North Face has select styles up to 50% off for your wild and crazy outdoor adventures.

Urban Outfitters is offering savings of up to 50% off shorts, tanks, and summer essentials.

Now go unwind, and pour yourself a tall glass of… milk beer. HAGS!

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.

Categories: Tech News

On the bright side, solar investment finally set to surpass oil spending

The Register - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 11:32
But fossil fuels won't go down without a fight

If the International Energy Agency's predictions are correct, 2023 is set to be the year that investment in solar energy technologies finally overtakes spending on oil production. Lest you forget, however, spending on fossil fuels is still rising too.…

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft would rather spend money on AI than give workers a raise

The Register - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 10:48
At least that's what internal comments from the CMO make it sound like

Opinion  If you work at Microsoft, hey, good job. Stock's up 31 percent this year and the way top brass decided to reward you was to... not reward you. But we do sympathize, especially when the CMO says this is because the company wants to "invest in the AI wave."…

Categories: Tech News

Google Search starts rolling out ChatGPT-style generative AI results

ARS Technica - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 10:39

Google's "Search Generative Experience" is a plan to put ChatGPT-style generative AI results right in your Google search results page, and the company announced the feature is beginning to roll out today. At least, the feature is rolling out to the mobile apps for people who have been on the waitlist and were chosen as early access users.

Unlike the normally stark-white Google page with 10 blue links, Google's generative AI results appear in colorful boxes above the normal search results. Google will scrape a bunch of information from all over the Internet and present it in an easy list, with purchase links to Best Buy and manufacturers' websites.

If this ever rolls out widely, it would be the biggest change to Google Search results ever, and this design threatens to upend the entire Internet. One example screenshot of a "Bluetooth speaker" search on desktop shows a big row of "Sponsored" shopping ads, then the generative AI results start to show up in a big blue box about halfway down the first page. The blue box summarizes a bunch of information harvested from somewhere and lists several completely unsourced statements and opinions about each speaker. In Google's example, users are never told where this information comes from, so they can't make any judgment as to its trustworthiness. The links all appear to go to manufacturer websites and below that blue box, about two or three screens down, there are finally links to more neutral external websites. The end design goal seems to be "no one will ever click on an external search link ever again," and that would force a lot of sites to shut down.

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Categories: Tech News

Alan Wake 2 and the death of disc-based video games

ARS Technica - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 10:12
Releasing <em>Alan Wake 2</em> on pre-shredded discs would probably just add insult to injury, right?

Enlarge / Releasing Alan Wake 2 on pre-shredded discs would probably just add insult to injury, right? (credit: Getty Images)

Anyone who pays attention to the game industry knows that the segment of players buying games on physical discs has been becoming less and less important as physical releases themselves become more and more niche. Still, even in recent years, you could usually count on big-budget console games from major studios to receive at least a perfunctory disc release to fill up the dwindling GameStop shelves.

So it was a bit of a surprise that yesterday's release date announcement for Alan Wake 2 came alongside news that developer Remedy Entertainment and publisher Epic Games currently have "no plans to release Alan Wake 2 on disc," as they put it in a new FAQ. When you look a little deeper, though, what might be more surprising is that there haven't been more major console publishers willing to give up on discs completely.

The rainbow of their reasons

The Alan Wake 2 FAQ does note, correctly, that "it is not uncommon to release modern games as digital-only." In fact, measured on a per-title basis, the vast majority of console games are now not available on disc at all. Still, such disc-free releases are still relatively rare when it comes to the kinds of major games that dominate the console charts.

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Categories: Tech News

Eating Disorder Helpline Fires Staff, Transitions to Chatbot After Unionization

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 09:52

Executives at the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) decided to replace hotline workers with an AI chatbot named Tessa four days after the workers unionized. 

NEDA, the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to eating disorders, has had a helpline for the last twenty years that provided support to hundreds of thousands of people via chat, phone call, and text. “NEDA claims this was a long-anticipated change and that AI can better serve those with eating disorders. But do not be fooled—this isn’t really about a chatbot. This is about union busting, plain and simple,” helpline associate and union member Abbie Harper wrote in a blog post

According to Harper, the helpline is composed of six paid staffers, a couple of supervisors, and up to 200 volunteers at any given time. A group of four full-time workers at NEDA, including Harper, decided to unionize because they felt overwhelmed and understaffed. 

“We asked for adequate staffing and ongoing training to keep up with our changing and growing Helpline, and opportunities for promotion to grow within NEDA. We didn’t even ask for more money,” Harper wrote. “When NEDA refused [to recognize our union], we filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board and won on March 17. Then, four days after our election results were certified, all four of us were told we were being let go and replaced by a chatbot.” 

The chatbot, named Tessa, is described as a “wellness chatbot” and will replace the entire Helpline program starting June 1. Helpline volunteers were also asked to step down from their one-on-one support roles and serve as “testers” for the chatbot. According to NPR, which obtained a recording of the call where NEDA fired helpline staff and announced a transition to the chatbot, Tessa was created by a team at Washington University’s medical school and spearheaded by Dr. Ellen Fitzsimmons-Craft. The chatbot was trained to specifically address body image issues using therapeutic methods and only has a limited number of responses.

“It's not an open-ended tool for you to talk to and feel like you're just going to have access to kind of a listening ear, maybe like the helpline was,” Fitzsimmons-Craft said to NPR. “It's really a tool in its current form that's going to help you learn and use some strategies to address your disordered eating and your body image.” 

“Please note that Tessa, the chatbot program, is NOT a replacement for the Helpline; it is a completely different program offering and was borne out of the need to adapt to the changing needs and expectations of our community,” a NEDA spokesperson told Motherboard. “Also, Tessa is NOT ChatGBT [sic], this is a rule-based, guided conversation. Tessa does not make decisions or ‘grow’ with the chatter; the program follows predetermined pathways based upon the researcher’s knowledge of individuals and their needs.” 

The NEDA spokesperson also told Motherboard that Tessa was tested on 700 women between November 2021 through 2023 and 375 of them gave Tessa a 100% helpful rating. “As the researchers concluded their evaluation of the study, they found the success of Tessa demonstrates the potential advantages of chatbots as a cost-effective, easily accessible, and non-stigmatizing option for prevention and intervention in eating disorders,” they wrote. 

Harper thinks that the implementation of Tessa strips away the personal aspect of the support hotline, in which many of the associates can speak from their own experiences. “Some of us have personally recovered from eating disorders and bring that invaluable experience to our work. All of us came to this job because of our passion for eating disorders and mental health advocacy and our desire to make a difference,” she wrote in her blog post. 

Harper told NPR that many times people ask the staffers if they are a real person or a robot. “No one's like, oh, shoot. You're a person. Well, bye. It's not the same. And there's something very special about being able to share that kind of lived experience with another person.” 

Motherboard tested the currently public version of Tessa and was told that it was a chatbot off the bat. “Hi there, I’m Tessa. I am a mental health support chatbot here to help you feel better whenever you need a stigma-free way to talk - day or night,” the first text read. The chatbot then failed to respond to any texts I sent including “I’m feeling down,” and “I hate my body.” 

In January, a mental health nonprofit called Koko came under fire for using GPT-3 on people seeking counseling. Founder Rob Morris said that when people found out they had been talking to a bot, they were disturbed by the “simulated empathy.” AI researchers I spoke to then warned against the application of chatbots people in mental health crises, especially when chatbots are left to operate without human supervision. In a more severe recent case, a Belgian man committed suicide after speaking with a personified AI chatbot called Eliza. Even when people know they are talking to a chatbot, the presentation of a chatbot using a name and first-person pronouns makes it extremely difficult for users to understand that the chatbot is not actually sentient or capable of feeling any emotions. 

NEDA Helpline Associates Union did not immediately respond to Motherboard’s request for comment. 

Categories: Tech News

Twitter Spaces groans under weight of Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk's egos

The Register - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 09:43
It should really take more than half a million people to melt your servers

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's plan to hold a "historic" campaign launch on a Twitter Spaces stream went about as well as you'd expect on a platform slowly collapsing under the weight of its former CEO's hubris.…

Categories: Tech News

DeSantis/Musk event didn’t break the Internet, but it did break Twitter

ARS Technica - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 09:35
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Enlarge / Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (credit: Scott Olson / Staff | Getty Images North America)

Yesterday, Florida's Republican governor Ron DeSantis became the first presidential hopeful to announce his campaign on Twitter Spaces, which Elon Musk had touted as a "smart move" for "any candidate" to "get the highest possible audience."

But instead of making sure that DeSantis' announcement was delivered to the broadest possible audience, Twitter glitched for nearly 30 minutes, causing more than half of DeSantis' initial 600,000-strong audience to ditch the audio session, briefly including DeSantis himself, The Washington Post reported. In the end, only 161,000 users heard DeSantis deliver his short speech, NBC News reported, with a total of approximately 300,000 users ultimately attending the audio-only event, which lasted more than an hour.

A screenshot widely shared from MSNBC's "Morning Joe" showed that the number represented fewer viewers than videos of US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got playing a game on Twitch, Buzzfeed got exploding a watermelon, and April the Giraffe got giving birth.

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Categories: Tech News

Minnesota enacts right-to-repair law that covers more devices than any other state

ARS Technica - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 09:35
Hands on a circuit board, using multimeter probes to find errors

Enlarge / Minnesota's right-to-repair bill is the first to pass in the US that demands broad access to most electronics' repair manuals, tools, and diagnostic software. Game consoles, medical devices, and other specific gear, however, are exempted. (credit: Getty Images)

It doesn't cover video game consoles, medical gear, farm or construction equipment, digital security tools, or cars. But in demanding that manuals, tools, and parts be made available for most electronics and appliances, Minnesota's recently passed right-to-repair bill covers the most ground of any US state yet.

The Digital Right to Repair bill, passed as part of an omnibus legislation and signed by Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday, "fills in many of the loopholes that watered down the New York Right to Repair legislation," said Nathan Proctor, senior director for the Public Interest Research Group's right-to-repair campaign, in a post.

New York's bill, beset by lobbyists, was signed in modified form by Gov. Kathy Hochul. It also exempted motor vehicles and medical devices, as well as devices sold before July 1, 2023, and all "business-to-business" and "business-to-government" devices. The modified bill also allowed manufacturers to sell "assemblies" of parts—like a whole motherboard instead of an individual component, or the entire top case Apple typically provides instead of a replacement battery or keyboard—if an improper individual part installation "heightens the risk of injury."

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Categories: Tech News

The Mile High Club Still Exists—If You Count Hand Stuff

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 08:59

In my childhood, the concept of the “Mile High Club” carried some cultural weight. Obviously, I had no idea what it meant, but it was big in songs like Nickelback’s “Rockstar” or in Adam Sandler’s The Wedding Singer. I assumed it would have much more clarity and importance in my adult years—but as I got older, it seemed that the Mile High Club had been relegated to the same category as quicksand or the Bermuda Triangle, things that dominate the young psyche then end up entirely irrelevant in adulthood. 

Does anyone actually have sex on airplanes these days? Is it even any fun to try to squeeze two people into a likely-filthy public bathroom barely designed to accommodate one? Well, according to various flyers and flight attendants, the Mile High Club hasn’t closed its membership. Maybe it’s rare for people to have full-on insertive intercourse on planes today, but they are absolutely still doing hand stuff. 

Why someone wouldn’t want to have sex on an airplane seems obvious. Above all, it’s impractical. Beyond just the griminess and cramped size of the bathrooms, there’s the fact that you’re surrounded by potentially-inconvenienced fellow passengers and flight attendants who might get you into trouble. But for some, these factors are more enticing than off-putting. The risk, the dirtiness, and the general thrill of being up in the air have the potential to make the experience all the more erotic. On international flights or for people seated in first class, some of these downsides may be mitigated, too. Perhaps everyone is asleep after rounds of free drinks, and the flight attendants are busy chatting in the back. There’s a bit more room in the bathroom in first than there would be in economy. You’ve got a chance, and you might as well take it. That’s what the lore of the Mile High Club is all about, after all. 

On Reddit, there are dozens of tales about the sexual encounters people have witnessed on airplanes or experienced for themselves. Some allege that they’ve joined the club in its classic form—some even claim they didn’t even go into the bathroom and instead fucked right there in their seat. Other stories seem like works of horny fiction, written by men who detail their partner’s wild orgasms or say they received congratulations from the airplane staff. These seem dubious. But the most believable of the bunch come from flight attendants, who report numerous instances of sneaky handjobs and even the occasional BJ. 

“Had a couple ‘sleeping’ near the back of the plane on an empty flight - her head was under a thin airplane blanket on his lap, obviously giving him a blowjob while he concentrated on squeezing his eyes shut and not making noise,” wrote one flight attendant. In a similar thread, another flight attendant said she “saw two gentlemen jerking each other off under one of blankets that we provide on the plane for everyone to use.” Both of these stories end in nearly the same way, with the passengers attempting to hand off the blankets to the attendants at the end of the flight or put them in the overhead bin. One passenger followed up an attendant’s stories by recalling a time their girlfriend gave them a handjob on a plane that resulted in him ejaculating right onto the blanket, which he was polite enough to hold onto after. 

Hoping to learn more, I took to Twitter to ask if anyone had a Mile High Club story to share. There, the response was much the same: Hand stuff reigns supreme.

“I don't know if it counts, but back in my mid-20s, my girlfriend & I were on a flight from Miami to Bulgaria, and after a few drinks we got a little frisky under the blanket,” one guy told me. “It wasn't penetrative sex, it was me giving her a lady handjob till she climaxed. We couldn't figure out a way to get me without it looking ridiculously obvious, so we left it at that.”

It often starts with a few drinks. “I travel a lot for work and my fiance comes with, but flying has always stressed me the fuck out,” a woman explained. “Any turbulence and I freak out. My solution to this is to just get super drunk on long flights, which also makes me really horny.” As a result, she says, she often ends up giving her fiance a handjob underneath a blanket or jacket. On rare occasions, she has even given him a blowjob in the bathroom. “Before that, though, everything in the bathroom is wiped down with disinfectant wipes. I'm always a freak about cleanliness no matter how drunk I am.” Despite the frequency of these encounters, she’s never been caught. “I’d probably die of embarrassment if I did,” she says. 

“We were probably going to die anyway. So we just went for it, in the seats, in full view of anyone.”

But drunkenness, risk, and general horniness aren’t the only reasons people want to get off on airplanes. For some, it’s the fear of death. One woman told me about being on a flight to South Korea with a girlfriend who had the “magic superpower” of being able to orgasm through nipple stimulation alone. “The plane looked and felt like it was falling apart,” she says. “We had a proper ‘omg this is how we die’ moment. It was also half empty, and we noticed there was no one else at all in our row or the row behind, meaning no one could see us unless they were coming down the aisle. What an opportunity, and we were probably going to die anyway. So we just went for it, in the seats, in full view of anyone who might have been passing. You can decide whether that counts as sex on a plane, but if I recall correctly, she came pretty hard.” 

Perhaps by the most stringent definitions, some nipple play doesn’t quite qualify for Mile High Club membership. But really, having a powerful orgasm with your partner ought to count more than clumsy, unsatisfying penetrative intercourse in the bathroom for the sake of saying you did it. Surely, both come with the potential for serious consequences—regardless of the precise type of sex being had, it’s possible to receive fines and citations for public indecency in the United States for getting frisky on a public aircraft. And certainly, there are ethical concerns to reckon with, too, like risking exposing yourself to a stranger. DO NOT JERK OFF IN YOUR SEAT ON A PLANE, and don’t let your girlfriend jerk you off in your seat on a plane if you have anyone sitting anywhere near you, either. 

But as the pop culture legacy of the Mile High Club has always implied, there remains something ambitious, even respectable, to attempting to get it on in a place that much of humanity could never imagine being. It’s a feat of science that we are able to get up in the sky at all. Surely, then, hand stuff ought to count. 

Categories: Tech News

Before you sprinkle AI on all your analytics, check data quality

The Register - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 08:37
Gartner asks for some fundamentals in a slew of AI-in-analytics announcements

Following a fortnight festooned with analytics and data management announcements, Gartner has warned that users are not keeping pace with analytics vendors' fashion-following desire to inject just about anything they get their hands on with some AI serum.…

Categories: Tech News

Two dead in US from tainted surgeries in Mexico; 206 more may have brain infections

ARS Technica - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 08:32
This 2006 image depicts two sides of a Petri dish (reverse L, front R) growing a filamentous colony of <em>Fusarium solani</em>, the potential fungal pathogen behind the outbreak.

Enlarge / This 2006 image depicts two sides of a Petri dish (reverse L, front R) growing a filamentous colony of Fusarium solani, the potential fungal pathogen behind the outbreak. (credit: CDC/ Mark Lindsley, Sc.D. D(ABMM), Lynette Benjamin, Shirley McClinton)

A second person in the US has died in an outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to surgeries in Mexico that involved epidural anesthesia. While the case count is now up to 18, more than 200 others across 25 states may have also been exposed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned in an outbreak update Wednesday.

So far, the outbreak among US patients spans 224 people, with 206 potentially exposed and under investigation, nine suspected cases, and nine probable cases. Two of the patients with probable cases have died.

Last week, the CDC released a travel advisory and a health alert to clinicians about the cases. At the time, health authorities had identified only five cases, all Texas residents, one of whom had died. An update Wednesday from Texas health officials said that they have since identified two more cases, bringing the state's total to seven. All seven cases were hospitalized, but the officials are still reporting only one death in Texas.

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‘What Did I Do Wrong?’ 11-Year-Old Boy Shot By Cop After Calling For Help

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 08:25

The family of an unarmed 11-year-old Black boy from Mississippi who was shot in the chest by a cop over the weekend is calling for the officer to be fired and criminally charged. 

Aderrien Murry was following his mother’s instructions by calling 911 in response to a domestic disturbance in the early morning hours of May 20, his mother Nakala Murry told CNN. 

The Indianola officer who responded came to the door with his gun drawn, Murry said, and instructed everyone in the home to come outside. She said when Aderrien came around a hallway corner, the cop shot him. 

“He kept asking, ‘Why did he shoot me? What did I do wrong?’” she told CNN.

According to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the shooting, Aderrien “received significant injuries.” Murry said her son had a collapsed lung, fractured ribs and a lacerated liver and was placed on a ventilator. 

Murry’s lawyer Carlos Moore tweeted that the officer who shot Murry, Greg Capers, has been placed on administrative leave. Moore said the family wants him to be fired and charged. 

“No child in Indianola should be in this terrifying condition because of the actions of someone who’s allegedly the best cop in Indianola,” Moore said in a press conference. “If he’s your best, Indianola, you need to clean house.” 

Indianola police did not comment on the case when reached by VICE News. 

According to Mississippi Today, Moore is calling for Capers to be charged with attempted murder and for Police Chief Ronald Sampson to be fired. He’s also calling for body camera footage from the incident to be released. Moore and Murry’s supporters planned a sit-in at Indianola City Hall for Thursday morning

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said it is currently gathering evidence. 

“Upon completing the investigation, agents will share their findings with the Attorney General’s Office” the agency said in a press release. 

Moore told Mississippi Today Capers had previously tased a man in handcuffs in December.

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5,000 Wild New Species Discovered in Region That Ocean Mining Will Soon Devastate

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 08:17

Scientists have discovered thousands of new species living in a mineral-rich region of the Pacific deep sea that is poised to be extensively mined for resources in the coming years, posing a threat to these vibrant and largely unexplored ecosystems, reports a new study. 

The Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), an underwater plain that spans 3,000 miles between Hawaii and Mexico, has become the world's largest mineral exploration region because it contains valuable metals such as copper, nickel, cobalt, iron, manganese, and rare earth elements. Located roughly three miles under the ocean surface, the CCZ is also one of the most pristine habitats in the global seas and is home to carnivorous sponges that look like light fixtures, spiny urchins, scaly worms, banana-like sea cucumbers, and countless creatures that are found nowhere else on Earth.

Prospectors have been interested in the CCZ since the 1960s, and a large chunk of the region has been claimed by companies for mineral exploration under the auspices of the International Seabed Authority, the intergovernmental body that regulates seabed mining. The zone’s growing reputation as a future mining hotspot has galvanized scientists to better understand the ecosystems that thrive in this remote habitat, which are largely unknown.

To that end, scientists led by Muriel Rabone, a deep-sea ecologist at the Natural History Museum in London, U.K., have now unveiled the first comprehensive checklist of “benthic metazoans” meaning seabed animals, in the CCZ, which was compiled from more than 100,000 records of expeditions to the seabed. 

The researchers identified 5,578 different species in the checklist, of which 92 percent are new to science, which clearly demonstrates that “the CCZ represents significant undescribed biodiversity” and illustrates “the novelty of the region at deep taxonomic levels,” according to a study published on Thursday in Current Biology.

“Critical to the development of CCZ biodiversity knowledge is the creation of a curated checklist of known taxa and estimates of undescribed species,” Rabone and her colleagues said in the study. “Building on recent regional syntheses, we present the first comprehensive synthesis of benthic metazoan biodiversity and checklist for this vast region on the eve of possible large-scale mining operations.” 

“We make these data and interpretations open to all stakeholders to inform the ongoing debate on deep-sea mineral extraction and to grow our knowledge of the largest ecosystem on our planet,” the researchers added.

Scientists have studied habitats in the CCZ for decades, but there’s been an explosion of knowledge about the region in recent years as a result of new techniques, including DNA sequencing, as well as deep-sea expeditions that have observed and sampled benthic wildlife. Rabone’s team built their new checklist from this deluge of new research, which revealed that the most common animals in the zone are arthropods, a group that includes crustaceans and shrimp, followed by worms, echinoderms (such as urchins), and sponges. While the new census provides our best glimpse yet of the region’s vibrant ecosystems, there are no doubt many other species in the CCZ that have evaded discovery so far.

“Many regions of the CCZ are almost unsampled and this data deficiency will contribute to underestimation of diversity for the region overall,” the team said. “Development in statistical methods for estimating species richness will be critical to future assessments of diversity in such poorly sampled environments. Given mining operations may be imminent, a key consideration for the CCZ is the application of biodiversity data for environmental management, in particular assessing species extinction risk.”

Scientists, policy makers, and other groups have warned for years that deep-sea mining might have devastating effects on ocean ecosystems, including those within the CCZ. Companies plan to deploy large vehicles in these regions that will grind down the seafloor to extract valuable minerals, which will destroy benthic habitats.

“The deep-sea environment is known to be highly sensitive to physical disturbance, and various tests of mining components and disturbance experiments have shown long-term influences of mining-like disturbances on the ecosystem,” according to a recent study in Marine Biodiversity. “In addition, depending on the type of machinery used, mining activities are likely to provoke the re-suspension of a large amount of sediment in the form of a sediment plume, which will spread out into the surrounding, unmined areas and may additionally harm organisms that were not mechanically affected by mining processes.”

In addition to these concerns, the sheer noise of mining operations could place new pressures on animals that inhabit these regions, many of which are already vulnerable due to other human-caused disruptions, such as climate change.  

“Deep seabed mining operations, if permitted, could present significant risks to ocean ecosystems,” according to a recent study published in Frontiers in Marine Science that focused on marine mammals. “Disturbance on any scale is likely to be long lasting and irreversible.” 

“Of particular concern is anthropogenic noise,” the study noted. “If permitted, commercial-scale mining is expected to operate 24-hours a day, at varying depths. The sounds produced from mining operations, including from remotely operated vehicles on the seafloor, overlap with the frequencies at which cetaceans communicate, which can cause auditory masking and behavior change in marine mammals.”

Rabone and her colleagues also emphasized the need to investigate the potential impacts of resource extraction on these mysterious habitats and to clarify the existing protections that are in place for them. For instance, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has declared that “no serious harm” can occur to the environment from any mining activities, though there is no set definition for this phrase, according to the study. The team called their new checklist “a starting point” that should be bolstered by future scientific exploration of the region.  

“Accurately quantifying species ranges and rarity, key components of extinction risk, requires a comprehensive approach to taxonomy, extensive molecular studies, and standardized quantitative methods enabling regional analyses,” Rabone and her colleagues concluded. “This is particularly important given that the CCZ (together with the central-south Pacific and the Southern Ocean) remains one of the few remaining areas of the global ocean with high intactness of wilderness. Sound data and understanding are essential to shed light on this unique region and secure its future protection from human impacts.”

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Blank-screen bug triggers first Vinfast VF8 recall

ARS Technica - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 08:03
A silver Vinfast VF8

Enlarge (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

It didn't take long before it all went wrong for the crossover from Hai Phong. Vinfast, the startup automaker from Vietnam, just launched its VF8 battery EV here in the US, an event that generated plenty of negative press about the wildly inconsistent quality control evident among its test fleet. Now, the company has had to recall its first batch of BEVs due to a bug that can cause the car's display to go blank, taking out the speedo and warning lights in the process.

Ars drove the VF8 earlier this month and found a car that was not fully baked yet. But our experience on that test drive was better than that of many of our peers, who reported a litany of issues with its software, build quality, and, in some cases, handling.

This recall falls into the first of those categories. Vinfast says the first incident of a VF8 screen going blank occurred in late April. It then went digging for similar incidents and found four more customer reports of screens going blank. By mid-May—the day the VF8 reviews all went live, ironically—Vinfast decided to issue a recall to fix the problem.

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So the FBI only abused snoop powers around 280,000 times. What's to worry about?

The Register - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 07:30
When is warrantless surveillance warranted?

Register Kettle  If there's one thing that's more all the rage these days than this AI hype, it's warrantless spying by the Feds.…

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The neurons that make you feel hangry

ARS Technica - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 06:59
Box of donuts

Enlarge (credit: warrenrandalcarr via Getty Images)

Maybe it starts with a low-energy feeling, or maybe you’re getting a little cranky. You might have a headache or difficulty concentrating. Your brain is sending you a message: You’re hungry. Find food.

Studies in mice have pinpointed a cluster of cells called AgRP neurons near the underside of the brain that may create this unpleasant hungry, even “hangry,” feeling. They sit near the brain’s blood supply, giving them access to hormones arriving from the stomach and fat tissue that indicate energy levels. When energy is low, they act on a variety of other brain areas to promote feeding.

By eavesdropping on AgRP neurons in mice, scientists have begun to untangle how these cells switch on and encourage animals to seek food when they’re low on nutrients, and how they sense food landing in the gut to turn back off. Researchers have also found that the activity of AgRP neurons goes awry in mice with symptoms akin to those of anorexia, and that activating these neurons can help to restore normal eating patterns in those animals.

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Major Transit Official Compares Building Bike and Bus Lanes to Bulldozing Neighborhoods for Freeways

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 06:54

Last week, Seleta Reynolds, the chief innovation officer for LA Metro, appeared on the podcast CityAge to discuss how Los Angeles is preparing to host the Olympics in 2028. The most striking remark came towards the end of the segment when Reynolds, in talking up LA Metro’s community engagement efforts, compared building bike and bus lanes to freeway construction that destroys neighborhoods.

“How can we say we’re going to do better than our predecessors who bulldozed black and brown neighborhoods to put in the freeway system, you know, without really allowing those communities to be at the table, how can we say that we’re better than them just because what we’re trying to build is a bus lane or a bike lane?” Reynolds said. “What makes us so confident that we know best? And what makes us so, I would almost say arrogant, to presume that we really understand what’s really at the heart of some of these issues that we’re trying to address?”

As a transportation reporter covering cities, I have heard similar arguments many times, invariably from opponents of bike and bus lanes. Here in New York, the longer a community meeting on a bike lane goes the odds that someone will invoke Robert Moses’ destruction of Bronx neighborhoods to build a highway approaches one. What’s the difference, these opponents argue, between what Moses did and what the city is trying to do now?

It is disturbing, if hardly shocking, that Reynolds would make the same argument. She is a senior executive at a major American transportation authority, one that provided 255 million mostly slow bus trips last year. Reynolds is also a former president of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), an influential professional organization that is pro-bike-and-bus lanes. When Motherboard asked if she’d like to clarify her statement or provide additional context, Reynolds said she has “worked on bike, pedestrian, traffic calming, school safety, and bus lane projects throughout the U.S. for the last 25 years” and was “specifically thinking about calls to shortcut community engagement altogether, particularly during the pandemic…Some of the most humbling experiences I’ve had have been going into neighborhoods where I felt that the facts clearly supported one type of project only to hear that my assumptions fell far too short of the needs of those communities. In so doing, the projects and outcomes were much better than the ones I had first imagined.”

Last year, I spent several months reporting a story about how the community feedback process has gotten out of control and hobbles our cities from building necessary infrastructure like bus and bike lanes. The injustices of the feedback process—that it primarily caters to older, higher-income drivers obsessed with parking because research consistently shows bus riders, who are statistically lower income, are either too busy to attend such meetings or unaware they’re even taking place—have been well-documented in the urban planning field. Still, while reporting that story, I did not talk to any public officials who, no matter how critical of aspects of the engagement process, expressed a desire to get rid of the feedback process entirely. Instead, they saw no end in sight to the dynamic of “engagement inflation,” which I described as “where more engagement is done with no idea of how much is enough, when the community’s voice is sufficiently heard, or any other metric of success other than more engagement. In practice, it ends up being a form of delay until a local politician or official weighs in.” 

While humility is a fine trait for a public official to have, it too often crosses over into policy nihilism, which is precisely the wrong lesson to take from the mistakes from the past. The result of this is well-intentioned, dedicated public officials comparing building bike lanes to urban highways. Not all bike or bus lane projects are perfect at their initial conception, but it is, in fact, possible to know if something is good or bad without hearing everyone’s opinion on it.

The most obvious issue with comparing highway construction to bike and bus lanes involves little more than looking out the window. One is a massive industrial construction project of wanton destruction and steel and concrete that will obviously and irrevocably alter urban landscapes for generations. The other is, at its most elaborate, a series of flexible barriers and paint on existing roads repurposing up to two lanes of traffic for different kinds of vehicles. Bike and bus lanes involve very little new construction at all.

This difference of intent and scale is worth dwelling on because it is why the comparison is so misguided. The U.S. Department of Transportation has estimated 475,000 households containing one million people were displaced due to highway construction from 1957 to 1977. That is the equivalent of displacing the entire population of modern-day Austin, Texas. Likewise, a Los Angeles Times analysis found that an additional 200,000 people have lost their homes due to highway construction since 1990. To the best of my knowledge, there has not been a single housing unit destroyed or person displaced to build a bike or bus lane anywhere in the U.S. On these grounds alone, it is simply absurd to compare urban highway construction to bike and bus lanes. Projects of such vastly different scopes and scale deserve different approaches and mindsets. 

But there is another good reason to reject this comparison, one that is equally revealing about the biases of modern transportation officials. Reynolds asked, “What makes us so confident we know best?” Another way of asking this is, what makes us so confident we know bike and bus lanes are better than masses of parking and multiple travel lanes for private cars for everyone? 

The answer is: we’ve got the receipts. In this case, decades of scientific study and experiments carefully tracked and evaluated by local departments of transportation.

Think of all the familiar arguments against bike and bus lanes repeated in local community meetings all over the country in recent decades, the kinds of meetings Reynolds and her colleagues have to attend for every project. They’ve heard them all before: that they hurt local businesses by removing customer parking, don’t improve safety or increase bike usage, they slow down cars, and cater to the whims of white, urban elites and speed gentrification. All of these arguments have been debunked. Protected bike lanes make everyone safer. New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Portland, and San Francisco have all seen double-digit percent reduction in crashes between drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists all while seeing double-digit increases in bicycle usage after installing protected bike lanes. In other words, more people ride bikes and fewer crashes happen between everyone on roads with protected bike lanes. These safety improvements are particularly important in black and brown neighborhoods where, due to the historical legacy of redlining, freeway construction, and industrial development, often have the most dangerous roads of all. And studies that look at both entire cycle networks and individual streets find businesses not only survive these changes but often thrive after bus or bike lanes are installed.

Similarly, busways—or roads only for buses and limited local access for commercial vehicles and residents—like the one on 14th Street in Manhattan have profound safety benefits while also speeding up buses for tens of thousands of people. In fact, the 14th Street case is an illustrative one for why planners and transit experts like Reynolds do know best in such cases, or at least ought to. 

Prior to the busway’s implementation, the city and transit authority held countless meetings where their staff got yelled at by locals about how stupid they are, how they know nothing, how they’re just like Robert Moses destroying neighborhoods. A particular point of contention was the placement of bike lanes on adjacent streets and the concern this, along with a surge in traffic of cars redirected by the busway, would “threaten the wellbeing of residents,” according to an ultimately-dismissed lawsuit filed by Arthur Schwartz, a local resident who repeatedly invoked his past civil rights and union activism to play to concerns over the “equity” of the transit project. What actually happened was exactly what transportation experts said would happen: 14th Street got a lot safer, buses that primarily transport lower-income New Yorkers got a lot faster, and there was virtually no increase in travel time on adjacent streets. The project was, and remains, an unabashed, complete success for exactly the reasons transit experts said it would be. 

While modern urban planners have decades of scientific literature on which to base their modest claims that protected bike and bus lanes are good, mid-century highway boosters had no evidence on which to base their astounding claims that ramming overpasses through center cities while destroying hundreds or thousands of homes would revitalize downtowns. It was all based on conjecture that suburbanites like to drive places and so the easier it is to drive to the center city the more likely suburbanites would be to go there, logic which failed to account for lost business from the people the highway projects displaced and the broader hollowing out of the downtown core that resulted from it. 

In other words, the urban freeway fad was the exact opposite of the bike and bus lane advocacy boom: a novel, brash idea, fashionable at the time but with no evidence to back it up beyond fancy dioramas and civic boosterism. The lack of intellectual seriousness behind the projects is ever clearer when looking at how the planners actually planned the projects. As the environmental historian Christopher Wells documented in his book Car Country, highway planners held workshops where they made “desire paths,” or asked people to draw lines between where they worked and lived. They then combined all those lines, found the middle one, and tore down everything in its way. Or, in extreme examples, a racist state official saved everyone the trouble of pretending there was any logic behind it and just tore down the black neighborhood. This is a far cry from how modern planners determine locations for bus and bike projects. They use actual data on how streets are used and by whom as a starting point before designing a project, which automatically puts them ahead of highway planners in terms of sophistication and real-world application.

So it is disturbing, but not surprising, to hear a transit official in a major American city tasked with building more bike and bus lanes arguing that the process for doing so is actually indistinguishable from midcentury highway construction, because the unfortunate truth is Reynolds is hardly alone. For this reason, Reynolds’ remark is worth paying attention to. It is a pure expression of how a generation of American urban planners and transportation officials internalized the criticisms against their profession so thoroughly that they no longer believe it is their place to know anything. 

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