Meta forced to sell Giphy, takes 87% loss in Shutterstock deal

The Register - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 11:45
Zuck and Co face Brexit bonus

Meta's Giphy days have come to an end, with the stock photo platform Shutterstock today announcing plans to buy the GIF library for a mere fraction of what the company formerly known as Facebook paid for it. …

Categories: Tech News

Black Holes Might Really Be Giant Structures Made of Spacetime, Physicists Propose

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 11:30

Black holes might really be strange defects in spacetime called topological stars that are generated by hidden cosmic dimensions, reports a new study. 

Topological stars are completely hypothetical and only exist as mathematical constructions at this point. However, they have the potential to probe perplexing paradoxes of the cosmos, including the true nature of black holes and the mind-boggling ideas raised by string theory, a framework that attempts to reconcile seemingly contradictory physical laws into a unified theory. 

String theory proposes that particles in the universe are actually vibrating strings tethered to many extra dimensions that are imperceptible to us. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) have worked for years to envision the objects and phenomena that might exist in such a universe, including topological stars, or topological solitons, which are bubbles of nothing that form in the fabric of spacetime. 

Now, the team has used simulations to show that topological solitons would appear “remarkably similar to black holes in apparent size and scattering properties, while being smooth and horizonless,” according to a recent study published in Physical Review D. In other words, the hypothetical objects would look almost exactly like black holes from our perspective, raising the tantalizing possibility that they may actually lurk in our universe.

“String theory is a theory that reconciles quantum physics and gravity into a quantum gravity theory,” said Pierre Heidmann, a postdoctoral fellow at JHU who led the study, in a call with Motherboard that also included co-authors and JHU physicists Ibrahima Bah and Emanuele Berti. “Usually when you have a new theory like that, you have new degrees of freedom that come with it, and you can try to see what new fundamental objects can arise from that.”  

“It’s an interesting question to ask: Are there things other than a black hole” that “will give you a hint about what new physics could look like?” added Bah. “But before you get there, you need to know how to tell whether you have a black hole or not, and to do that you have some prototype examples of things that are not black holes to be able to compare."

Black holes are among the most fascinating and puzzling objects ever observed in our universe. These massive compact entities have so much gravitational power that nothing, not even light, can escape beyond their borders, known as the event horizon. Scientists have imaged black holes with the Event Horizon Telescope and have captured the ripples that these objects make in spacetime, which are called gravitational waves. 

Though we can detect real signs of black holes in space, there are still many open questions about the nature of these strange objects. For instance, our current conception of black holes places a point of infinite density, known as a singularity, at the center of the hole. However, infinitely dense regions can’t exist according to Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which means that the idea of a singularity is basically a placeholder until we can figure out what is actually happening within black holes.

String theory could help to resolve this problem because it presents a new framework for unifying the universe at large cosmic scales, where general relativity reigns, with the small scale world of atoms, which is governed by quantum mechanics. 

Heidmann and Bah have been working for years to explore this possibility by constructing mathematical models of topological stars. In their newest collaboration with Berti, who specializes in gravitational physics, they produced visualizations of what these objects would look like in space, revealing that they appear almost exactly like black holes.

“The big breakthrough that [Heidmann and Bah] made a few years ago is that they finally managed to construct solitons that had no charge as seen from very far away, and that's a key property of astrophysical black holes,” Berti said. “Many people in the standard general relativity community started paying attention after that because these things may have observational implications if there's some way that they can actually be realized in the physical universe.” 

While solitons bear a striking resemblance to black holes, key differences could theoretically be spotted by an observer who got close to them. The objects are like wrinkles in spacetime, with none of the compact matter that is typical of black holes, which means that light would be bent and scattered by them, but could still escape. 

As a result, topological stars would theoretically emit light signatures, and gravitational waves, that would be “smoking guns for future imaging experiments,” according to the study. Perhaps one day, scientists might look for these signatures to see if topological stars are hidden in the cosmos, disguised as black holes, but the JHU team said this possibility is very far in the future because it’s not remotely clear if they could even exist.

“We have just basic solutions and we try to see their relevance, but we're very far from any kind of prediction of their existence in the world,” Heidmann said.

“There'll be a lot of exciting things for several of us to be doing and it’s an interesting set of questions to explore” that will “require a lot of hard work and a lot of creativity,” concluded Bah. “But does this rabbit hole make sense to go down into? I think that question is very well settled.”

Categories: Tech News

Meta has no choice but to sell Giphy at $262M loss to Shutterstock

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 11:15
Giphy logo displayed on a phone screen and Meta logo displayed on a laptop screen

Enlarge (credit: Getty)

Talk about a fire sale. With limited interest in GIF platforms and UK regulators forcing a sale, Meta has decided to sell Giphy to Shutterstock for a mere $53 million. After purchasing it for $315 million in 2020 and subsequently being ordered to sell it by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Meta has been challenged to find a suitable Giphy buyer at a time when GIFs are perceived to be less trendy than three years ago. The GIF library has found a fitting future owner in Shutterstock, but for Meta, it means a $262 million loss. The deal

Shutterstock announced today its definitive agreement to buy Giphy for $53 million, seven months after Meta said it would accept the CMA's ruling that it must divest Giphy. Shutterstock said the deal is expected to close in June and is "subject to customary closing conditions."

The deal should assuage trepidation from Giphy, which encouraged the CMA to enact behavioral ordinances rather than force Meta to sell Giphy. The animated images company feared GIFs just weren't as cool as they were in 2020, and so the platform would mostly attract "weak or inappropriate" suitors.

“User sentiment towards GIFs on social media shows that they have fallen out of fashion as a content form, with younger users in particular describing GIFs as ‘for boomers’ and ‘cringe,’" Giphy told the CMA in August.

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Categories: Tech News

SambaNova injects a little AI mojo into US supercomputer lab's nuke sims

The Register - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 10:45
LLNL harnesses DataScale platform with aim to improve predictive models

AI systems developer SambaNova Systems has announced that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is integrating its platform into the lab's supercomputing facilities to boost its cognitive simulation capabilities. The move follows other top-tier research laboratories that have deployed SambaNova technology.…

Categories: Tech News

Taurus Personality Traits: Everything You Need to Know

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 10:42

This year, Taurus season spans April 20, 2023, to May 21, 2023, inspiring a laid-back period perfect for slowing down and simply enjoying life. Taurus season is all about appreciating beauty and enjoying the sensual pleasures the world has to offer. If you’re a Taurus, have Taurus placements, or are interested in someone born under the sign of the bull, this article will give you the details on this grounded earth sign.

Taurus is what astrologers refer to as a fixed sign. Fixed signs fall in the middle of a season, and in Taurus’s case, that’s spring. Fixed signs are focused, and as the name implies, they can sometimes be stubborn! Fixed signs are the doers and maintainers of the zodiac wheel: preceding them are the cardinal signs, who initiate things, and following them are the mutable signs, who spread information and tie things up before the next season begins. Fixed signs are in the middle, making it all happen. Taurus also rules the neck, the stabilizer of the head, reflecting the grounding and stabilizing force of fixed signs.

Taurus is ruled by the planet of beauty and pleasure, Venus, which gives it an extra creative flair. In the Tarot, Taurus is associated with The Hierophant card, which can symbolize correct process and spiritual insight. The Hierophant knows the proper order of things and, like Taurus, has its priorities straight. For Taurus, a high priority is finding peace in the present moment: now is all there is!

How to spot a Taurus

There’s a gravity to their presence that’s unmistakable. Taurus has a luxuriousness about them that’s alluring and attractive. Their voice and movements have a honey-like quality: slow and sweet. Their eyes are magnetic, with lush eyelashes and a powerful gaze. They may have accentuated their necks with jewelry or tattoos. If you spot someone who makes drinking coffee look chic or chews bubble gum in a miraculously-not-completely-annoying way, they may be a Taurus.

Taurus falls between fiery Aries and chatty Gemini on the zodiac wheel, making Taurus season a bit of a reprieve—an oasis—between two very active, busy seasons. There’s a serenity about Taurus that is captivating.  If Taurus were a shop, they’d have a sign out front that says, “Closed—Gone Fishing.”

This isn’t to say they are lazy! When they’re not working, they really know how to relax, but when they focus on getting a job done, they’re total workhorses. While the last earth sign on the zodiac wheel, Capricorn, works hard and plays hard (as the old cliche goes), Taurus produces prolifically and lazes expertly.

Taurus and style

Taurus’s planetary ruler, Venus, is the planet of beauty. As an earth sign, Taurus is interested in physical manifestations of beauty, like art and fashion. They enjoy accessorizing and all sorts of decorations and have a sense of what looks good and suits them.

Taurus is all about comfort and would cuddle up in cashmere year-round. Taurus is known as a conservative dresser: button-down shirts and simple, comfortable shoes. However, it’s just as common to find a Taurus who is flashier! Long acrylics, animal print pants, and a wild-colored self-knit sweater are as natural on a Taurus as khakis. Being fashionable is not about sacrificing comfort for them. And something flashy could easily feel like their second skin!

Taurus adores luxury brands, not just because of the high-quality fabrics—Taurus is very tactile—but because they also often enjoy the history behind the brands they love. Taurus loves working with their hands, so they may also make some of their own clothes or at least have fantasized about buying a sewing machine at some point! If they don’t make their own clothes, they are probably on close terms with a local tailor. Taurus probably remembers the first time they wore a dress or a suit perfectly cut for their body. If that’s not something they have experienced yet, it may be a fantastic gift to give them!

Skincare and makeup also play a part in how they express themselves, and aesthetics and how they physically appear in the world matter to them. Even if their taste in clothes is basic, they likely adorn themselves with skincare and perfumes.

Taurus intellect and communication

Intuitive Taurus is a compassionate listener and fantastic storyteller. They can be shy at first, but they’re entertaining and engaging once they get going. Taurus keenly understands that being a good listener is part of being a good friend, lover, or family member. They may respect being a good listener because they can also be very sensitive about not being heard. They might not be quick to share their thoughts with people who they are unsure will really listen.

Taurus doesn’t like to overcomplicate things, and they appreciate straightforward communication. They don’t want to play guessing games; however, they can sometimes be hard to read!

When Taurus is interested in a field of study, they become very absorbed. They love talking about whatever their new topic of interest is. They often have a keen ability to retain and remember information. They can be talented historians, writers, and orators. They rarely miss a date and likely keep a gorgeous calendar.

On a bad day, Taurus can be stubborn and moody. They might give you the silent treatment. But usually, Taurus enjoys hearing the sound of their own voice. At their best, their ideas are profound, beautiful, and not without a good sense of humor. Taurus rules the throat, so if they feel like they have a captive audience, they will repeat stories that no one gets tired of hearing, reminisce on things that everyone has forgotten about, and make up jokes.

Taurus at home

Taurus loves being at home. The bigger their house and yard, the less likely it is they’ll leave. They are the royal highness of their castle. They treat their home like a palace, but it’s not a cold, abandoned castle. They love to keep it warm and lively. They do this by keeping the nest full. They need to ensure that whoever comes to their house is also comfortable and looked after. They would be embarrassed if a guest came over and didn’t get treated like royalty too.

Whether for a dinner party or an overnight stay, they are excellent, generous hosts, and they like their esteemed guests to have everything they need. When they give you a dish or a gift, use it or eat it in front of them so they can see the joy on your face (and be sure to say “thank you!”).

When they leave home, they’ll make wherever they are their new home for that hour, or few hours, that they’re there. They’ll arrange comfortable pillows, maybe even put their feet up. There’s a stereotype that Taurus loves to work (they enjoy making money), but trust that their office will be a cozy home away from home. The nightclub is their home, too, and they’ll buddy up with the servers to ensure they have access to whatever they need all night.

Taurus and their feelings

Get to know a Taurus well, and you’ll see that their chill outward demeanor doesn’t mean they are not passionate. Taurus knows the value of a good cry! Taurus is typically patient and gentle; however, when the bull sees red, they charge. It might take a long time for Taurus to get upset or show their anger, but it can be quite dramatic when they do. It’s not like Taurus to act impulsively; however, they do have a side that can be reckless when contending with difficult feelings like fear or rejection. Regardless of our zodiac sign, we all need community support and inner resources to express difficult emotions. When Taurus has this support, they can be very generous and excellent models of emotional resilience to the people around them. They can balance spontaneity with patience, living authentically and in a balanced way.

Taurus and their art

Taurus rules the throat, so it’s no surprise that there are some legendary Taurus singers, like Adele, Iggy Pop, James Brown, Barbara Streisand, Cher, and Stevie Wonder. And since Venus, the planet of beauty, rules Taurus, it makes sense that Taurus fashion designers are some of the most iconic too! Like Jean Paul Gaultier, Donatella Versace, Issey Miyake, Halston, and Pierre Balmain.

They have an eye for visual, material harmony, but many modern Taurus artists have a rebellious streak. Their rebelliousness doesn’t come from a lack of skill or knowledge about their craft—a Taurus knows all the rules to break them. This is obvious in the work of Salvador Dali. Or the subject matter itself could be subversive, like Tom of Finland or Joseph Beuys. Happy colors and cartoon illustrations are also present in the works of Lisa Frank and David Choe.

For Taurus, art is a way of communicating their view of the world. It’s another means of self-expression and making their voice heard—either literally, as singers, or visually and spiritually. They love to experience life’s pleasures, but they also want a deeper understanding of them.

Taurus and friendship

In a friend, Taurus looks for someone just as generous as they are, if not more! Taurus loves to host and cook for you, but they would be stunned and enamored with someone who could outdo them. Can you go the extra mile? Cook something more extravagant than them? Taurus will have no choice but to respect it and maybe even love it!

Taurus also wants to connect with someone who can be intellectually stimulating. They want to bond over philosophical discussions and talk about big ideas. They don’t want to make small talk with their friends; they want to know what greater purpose their community serves. If they can’t see themselves rising and going places, literally traveling abroad, with the people surrounding them, chances are they just came to the party for the cheese board. They want to go on trips.

Taurus loves to talk about the future when they hang out with friends. They’ll talk about what the next twenty years will look like, hypothetically, and it can be funny. They want to discuss their dreams and visions, adding more absurd details for comedic effect. If they’re not daydreaming with their friends, they want to joke around, forget about the moment, and just bliss out. Watching movies or getting lost in the music with their people is an excellent way for Taurus to let go of whatever stress they may carry, and it helps them to feel happy about the future.

Taurus having fun

Taurus is a sensual earth sign, so for them, enjoying life means enjoying great music, delicious food, and beautiful places. They have a reputation for being a homebody, married to the couch, but Taurus loves to socialize, so their desire to be around other people typically gets them out of the house.

For Taurus, a fun day is something that has an itinerary. They have activities planned, places to go, and people to see. The reservations are booked, and the train schedule is known in advance. They are ready to go. They also have a backup plan in place in case of delays or rain. Taurus loves to plan, but they’re so good at planning that they also have a backup. When things go according to plan, they feel accomplished.

A fun night might be less structured. Taurus might be more willing to go where the wind blows and leave the planning up to someone they trust. Before they arrive, they usually know what time they’ll be leaving and what conditions need to be just so in order to stay out. They check the vibe, see if they’ll stick around, and, on a good night, won’t take a cab home early. They also might consider a fun night spent alone, reading, with their favorite recipes. Whatever they decide to do, it all depends on very particular factors that only a Taurus could understand.

How to attract a Taurus

Play up your mysteriousness: act theatrical and you might remind them of a sibling, or act too aloof and they may regard you as unsexy. Be coy, show you’re intrigued by them, but give them plenty of space.

A Taurus will be impressed if you know how to dress yourself. There’s something powerful about wearing something that makes a statement and being fearless in your appearance. Remember that Taurus knows that what looks best is also comfortable. To them, the pinnacle of fashion is something that fits you well. Lean into your sense of personal power and control over your appearance.

Taurus is attracted to bravery and loyalty. They want someone who they can depend on. If you’re not scared to issue a rejection or to stand your ground firmly, Taurus will find that so hot. They are very attracted to people who aren’t afraid to talk about things that are taboo or avant-garde. If you can say what you want, especially related to sex, you’ll have their attention.

Dating a Taurus

The best thing about dating a Taurus is that they love planning. They aren’t afraid to plan things in advance. And they don’t really like to cancel either, not without fair notice. If something requires a little forethought, Taurus is happy to get lost in the romantic gesture.

A perfect date for a Taurus could look like having reservations at a fabulous restaurant or tickets to see your favorite musician. They also are happy to squeeze in a little quality time on a weekday, just for an hour, if you’re busy. Anything is possible with a bit of planning.

When it comes to commitment, Taurus takes their time before making a decision, but they’re very loyal once they make up their mind. Earth signs, in general, can be slow to make big life changes. If you have a Taurus wrapped around your finger, they’re not going anywhere. They can be hard to get rid of, which is great news for those who are enamored with sweet, loving Taurus! But, if you want to break up with a Taurus, remember that they can be stubborn, so you can’t approach the conversation in a wishy-washy, unsure way. Do not try to get them to break up with you! They’re too fixed for that. Being direct, clear, and kind about your desire to end the relationship is the best way to communicate with them.

Taurus and ghosting

In most things, sweet, gentle Taurus takes time and consideration… perhaps, except when dumping someone! They’ll do it swiftly, in a no-nonsense way. If they’re over it, they’re over it. And they may not have thought about it all too long, especially if you have been together for a very short time.

If you’ve had a strong friendship with them throughout the relationship, and if you’ve been together for a while, they may have spent a lot of time deliberating this life change, and you may get a more easygoing version of Taurus when they end things. You can expect something short and straightforward, and they probably won’t be very sweet about it, as they wouldn’t want you to misunderstand them.

All that is to say: They probably won’t ghost you.

Unless you count dumping you and never speaking to you again as ghosting, which is possible. But any person, regardless of zodiac sign, can ghost someone, especially if they have poor communication skills, are immature, or are afraid of your reaction. Perhaps they disrespect the people they date, or they’ve been made to feel so uncomfortable that ghosting feels like the safest option.

Taurus and their daily routine

Taurus loves their routine! It brings balance to their lives. They have a sense of autonomy about how their day goes, but it’s not without consideration of other people’s needs. Each morning, Taurus checks in on their crush or partner. A good morning text is key. Maybe they’re texting everyone, “gm say it back.” Or perhaps they’re giving everyone in their home a good morning hug. In the afternoon, Taurus makes sure that they don’t eat lunch alone, and if they do, they probably have a phone call planned. They spend their breaks checking in on others and might use other people to gauge when to take a break and when to keep working!

Depending on how their day went and what they had planned, Taurus might spend their nights catching up on reading or catching up with friends. They’re known to make dates with themselves, too, and can be very loyal to the plans that they’ve made, even if they’re solo trips to go to a movie or museum alone.

Regarding wellness, chic Taurus wouldn’t admit to doing anything too dorky or modern, although they are masters at moderation. They might take a multivitamin with a craft cocktail. They’d probably feel demoralized and lash out if their doctor put them on a specialized diet that made them sit out extravagant dinners or long brunches. They are aware of current health fads but would likely rather stick to tried and true modes of wellness that have been around for centuries. Taurus’s approach to health is probably the most lindy.

At their day job, Taurus is the one at the water cooler complimenting everyone’s outfits. They’re bringing a dozen donuts to the lunchroom. They’re organizing the surprise birthday parties and starting the group chat for drinks after work. They have to find a way to be cool with their colleagues, or else they probably don’t plan on being at their job for too long.

Taurus and school

You’ll probably see the most serious side of Taurus when they’re at school. They love learning about history and ancient languages and may be drawn to archeology. Business and finance could also be topics they enjoy. Education and psychology may also attract them. And art, too, is frequently a course of study for Venus-ruled Taurus.

Taurus can be very academic and feel their most accomplished and respectable when they can share their hard-earned knowledge with the world. When they study, they can dedicate themselves to only studying and nothing else. They might find great pleasure in the solitude and respectability of going to the library and devoting themselves to knowledge. The silence and patience required for reading and writing is something that Taurus finds calming and powerful.

Taurus might be nostalgic for the times before MFAs when artists and artisans worked as understudies for those already working in a field. Even after getting a formal education, Taurus would enjoy learning under someone who has already been around the block. They would rather learn from someone else’s mistakes than make their own. They also aspire to be mentors and experts in their own right, but when they’re first starting, a hands-on, immersive learning environment is their ideal path.

Taurus and travel

Taurus loves to travel for pleasure, but something that seems to be common among Taurus people is that their work can take them abroad! Perhaps they are touring musicians, or maybe they’re chefs who travel the world learning new techniques. Perhaps they work in finance, and traveling to foreign places is part of their work.

When Taurus travels for fun, they still have a goal in mind. They will have the trip planned out with landmarks to visit, and reservations to adhere to. It can be hard to get them outside of their comfort zone, but they could be interested in alternative history tours, or less touristy places that have been expertly recommended. Whether they are abroad for business or pleasure, good food is at the top of their priorities list! For them, food alone is a reason to leave the comforts of home. They don’t want to leave a town until they’ve tried the local specialties.

They usually enjoy spending time in cities as much as they enjoy exploring natural wonders. Geological attractions appeal to their earthy nature. They will travel great distances to see the most iconic rock in the world. This earth sign can appreciate a good rock.

They’re usually interested in seeing places with historical importance. They’re happy to hear the history of wherever they’re visiting as told by an expert, or better yet, by someone who lived to tell the tale! Ancient history and archaeological sites could interest them, as long as there’s a comfortable place to sit and take a break. Long tours under a hot sun or blistering cold aren’t for them; however, if they’re mentally prepared for it (and have enough snacks packed), Taurus can very much enjoy a hike, canoe trip, or another excursion that takes them off the beaten path.

Taurus and work

You’ll probably see the most experimental, rebellious side of Taurus in their careers. They love innovation and are usually on the cutting edge of whatever they’re into. In their daily life, Taurus is usually quite warm and friendly, but they can be aloof at work because they are so focused on the task at hand. They may seem intimidating to colleagues or employees, and people can be surprised by how chill and easygoing they are once they get to know them better!

As a boss, Taurus has a democratic approach to authority. They’re unhappy with being perceived as tyrannical and want a positive relationship with everyone, especially their employees! They’re even gentle towards their appliances, treating their toaster like their employee of the month or giving their bicycle a pet name. They are an eccentric boss and are the type of leaders to hire an astrologer as a team-building exercise.

As an employee, Taurus wants to be seen as the most polite, pleasant person in the office. Office politics are a serious concern for them, and they want to be on their best behavior on the job. They take their work outfits seriously. They want to be perceived as stylish and would get a full makeover just for the first day of work.

As a colleague, Taurus wants the job to go smoothly, so they can be very easy to collaborate with. They are good leaders because they are sensitive to their colleagues' desires. They want work—one of life's necessities—to be as glam and relaxed as their general life values are.

Taurus might be drawn to the types of careers where they can tinker with things. They love to refurbish or restore works of human ingenuity. They are happy as sound engineers, mechanical engineers, and designers of all stripes. They can also make great salespeople and counselors, as Taurus is often a people-person.

Taurus and finances

Taurus famously loves the finer things in life, and being ruled by Venus, the planet of money, Taurus usually finds a way to create an abundant, comfortable life for themselves.

When it comes to saving money, Taurus has ups and downs. They eventually learn that diversifying their income is the best way to feel secure. They also like to have multiple bank accounts, which can be an easy way for them to compartmentalize (and protect their funds from whimsical urges to shop).

Taurus would make an excellent haggler. They know that the price of everything is relative, and they also know how to stand their ground. Take a seasoned Taurus to a flea market, and take notes as they bargain. They know better than to back down. They might enjoy auctions very much.

Taurus and luxury

Taurus’s element, earth, relates to material things. That’s not to say they are materialistic, but physical reality is a priority. Their planetary ruler, Venus, is all about aesthetic values and harmony. Existing in physical harmony, however that may look, is critical for Taurus. Luxury is a loaded word, but while one Taurus might value accumulated wealth, another Taurus may be better equipped to show you a simpler, priceless definition of luxury. Karl Marx was a Taurus, after all.

Categories: Tech News

Unexpected 3DS update breaks many common homebrew hacking methods

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 10:37
A few of the 3DS variations that were once supported by Nintendo.

Enlarge / A few of the 3DS variations that were once supported by Nintendo. (credit: Mark Walton)

It has been years since Nintendo stopped producing its Nintendo 3DS line of portable hardware and months since the company officially shut down the 3DS eShop for new downloadable game purchases. But those facts haven't stopped the company from issuing a new firmware update that seems at least partly focused on impeding some of the most common methods for installing homebrew software on the defunct console.

Monday night's surprise release of 3DS firmware Ver. 11.17.0-50 is the first official system update for the console since last September and the fifth update since the hardware was officially discontinued in 2020. The official patch notes for the sudden update cover the now-standard (if vague) promise of "further improvements to overall system stability and other minor adjustments [that] have been made to enhance the user experience."

But console hacking groups quickly noticed that downloading the update ruined many of the documented hacking methods that could previously be used to install custom 3DS firmware.

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Categories: Tech News

Built-in ChatGPT-driven Copilot will transform Windows 11 starting in June

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 10:08
Windows Copilot is an AI-assisted feature coming to Windows 11 preview builds starting in June.

Enlarge / Windows Copilot is an AI-assisted feature coming to Windows 11 preview builds starting in June. (credit: Microsoft)

A couple of months ago, Microsoft added generative AI features to Windows 11 in the form of a taskbar-mounted version of the Bing chatbot. Starting this summer, the company will be going even further, adding a new ChatGPT-driven Copilot feature that can be used alongside your other Windows apps. The company announced the change at its Build developer conference alongside another new batch of Windows 11 updates due later this year. Windows Copilot will be available to Windows Insiders starting in June.

Like the Microsoft 365 Copilot, Windows Copilot is a separate window that opens up along the right side of your screen and assists with various tasks based on what you ask it to do. A Microsoft demo video shows Copilot changing Windows settings, rearranging windows with Snap Layouts, summarizing and rewriting documents that were dragged into it, and opening apps like Spotify, Adobe Express, and Teams. Copilot is launched with a dedicated button on the taskbar.

"Once open, the Windows Copilot side bar stays consistent across your apps, programs and windows, always available to act as your personal assistant. It makes every user a power user, helping you take action, customize your settings, and seamlessly connect across your favorite apps," wrote Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay.

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Categories: Tech News

Activision shuts down popular fan servers for legacy Call of Duty games

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 09:48

Prerelease video of Modern Warfare 2's SM2 mod, which has ceased development following an Activision cease-and-desist request.

Activision has sent cease-and-desist letters to two makers of popular fan clients for legacy Call of Duty titles in recent weeks. The move cuts off access to the many gameplay and quality-of-life improvements brought by these clients and stops what fans say is the only safe way to play these older games without the threat of damaging hacking by opponents.

The first victim of Activision's recent efforts was SM2, a major Modern Warfare 2 modding project whose development started over two years ago. Since then, the modding group has been working on updating that seminal 2009 release with new weapons, in-game perks, a redesigned UI, new streak and progression systems, and even a recent move to a more modern game engine.

Those efforts stopped last week, though, before the mod could even release its first version. The SM2 Twitter account reported that "a team member received a Cease & Desist letter on behalf of Activision Publishing in relation to the SM2 project. We are complying with this order and shutting down all operations permanently."

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Categories: Tech News

Dish confirms 300,000 people's data was exposed in February's attack

The Register - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 09:43
But don't worry – we know it was deleted. Hmm. How would you know that?

Dish Network has admitted that a February cybersecurity incident and associated multi-day outage led to the extraction of data on nearly 300,000 people, while also appearing to indirectly admit it may have paid cybercriminals to delete said data.…

Categories: Tech News

Ford reverses plan to ditch AM radio after congressional attention

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 09:30
A 2012-era Ford radio

Enlarge (credit: Ford)

Today is just an AM-tastic day, isn't it? Earlier this morning, we reported on industry pushback against congressional plans to mandate AM radios in all new cars. The topic has been building for some time now—Tesla and BMW dropped AM radio from new electric vehicles some years ago—but it made headlines again in February when Ford revealed that the 2024 Mustang would lose the ability to pick up AM. Well, Ford has changed the channel on its decision and will restore AM radio to its place on the dashboard.

The move was announced by Ford CEO Jim Farley, who took to Twitter with the news.

Although AM radio is mostly used by its adherents to listen to talk radio, sports, and local traffic, a bipartisan collection of Senators and Representatives introduced a bill last week to mandate the inclusion of AM radio in all new cars so they can receive messages in the case of an emergency. That argument evidently proved compelling:

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Categories: Tech News

Anti-Putin Militias Celebrating Attacks on Russia Are Filled With Neo-Nazis

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 09:11

On Monday, Anti-Putin militias Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) and Freedom of Russia Legion said they had liberated the city of Belgorod in Russia. Pro Ukrainian social media accounts on Twitter and Telegram spent the day celebrating the stunning development in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but people familiar with RDK and its members were wary. Like other groups that have been fighting off Russian invaders since 2014, both groups include Neo-Nazi members.

Both militias are aligned with Ukraine and wore the colors of the Ukrainian flag in the videos they posted on Telegram of their liberation of the city. Many of the members of both groups are ex-Russians. “We are Russians just like you. We are people just like you. We want our children to grow up in peace and be free people, so that they can travel, study and just be happy in a free country,” one member of the Freedom of Russia Legion said in a video posted to Twitter

In the wake of the attack on Belgorod, pro-Ukrianian social media accounts celebrated the victory of the militias. Kyiv denied it coordinated the attack, but many saw the incursion into Russian territory by pro-Ukrainian groups as an absolute win.

For hours after news of the attack, people posted reviews on the Google Maps site for the App Grayvoron border crossing checkpoint. They uploaded photos of armor rolling through the area and posted fake reviews. “The guards don’t make any trouble crossing the border,” one review said. “10/10 would recommend.” Google is removing the fake reviews, but posters continue to upload them.

Pictures of RDK celebrating in Belgorod flooded social media. In one, a Russian man named Aleksandr Skachkov stands next to a captured BTR-82A with the flag of the RDK unfurled next to him. On his chest is a patch depicting a white hooded Ku Klux Klansman wielding a gun. According to reporting from Bellingcat, Ukraine arrested Skachkov in 2020 during a raid on a group of people who were translating and selling the Christchurch Shooter’s manifesto. 

Michael Colborne, a journalist at Bellingcat and the author of From the Fires of War: Ukraine’s Azov Movement and the Global Far Right, said he put his head in his hands yesterday as people online started celebrating the attack on Belgorod. He recognized many of the men in the videos. “I knew right away who they were,” he said. “I don’t see what military or PR purpose putting these guys front and center does for Ukraine, because Russia knows who they are.”

Another video showed RDK member Alexey Levkin bragging about breaking the border while wearing the group’s flag on his chest. In addition to being part of the RDK, Levkin is also the founder of Asgardsrei, an annual black metal festival in Ukraine that serves as a networking event for neo-Nazis. VICE interviewed Levkin in 2019 and asked him if he was a national socialist. “Yes, sure!” He replied.

According to Colborne, RDK is a hardcore fascist group that does not hide its political views.

“RDK describes itself (it did today) with ‘right wing conservative political views and traditional beliefs’ but at the core it's led by a Russian neo-Nazi and its most prominent members, at least in terms of getting attention and promoting themselves, are also Russian neo-Nazi,” he said. “And I don't say 'neo-Nazi' as a casual slur—these are people who have literally organized Hitler worship nights, written poems about Hitler, and lead bands whose names and songs are about Hitler. Now, as I understand it there may be increasingly non-neo-Nazis, and non-far-right, soldiers joining its small ranks, but it's clear what the RDK is rooted in.”

Fascist and neo-Nazi groups are common in Ukraine, Russia, and Eastern Europe in general. Ukraine’s most famous far-right militias is the Azov Regiment, is media savvy and often gets itself in front of the cameras. In 2022, pictures of a training event where it taught a 79-year-old woman how to fire an AK-47 went viral. Azov fighters also said they were greasing bullets in pig fat to deny Muslim Chechen soldiers entrance into heaven

Colborne said there was no formal relationship between RDK and Azov, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a connection. “Some of these individuals are people who fought in the Regiment during its earliest years in 2014-2015,” he said. “Others have been heavily involved in the wider Azov movement; others have been involved with even more fringe far-right elements, while others have stayed out of the public eye.”

The conflict in Ukraine exists at the crossroads of ideologies. It’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish. Russia has long said it wants to de-Nazify Ukraine, but it has its own Nazis in its rank. The Wagner Group, the mercenaries who’ve done most of the fighting in Bakhmut, was founded by Dmitry Utkin, a former Russian soldier who has SS and Reichsadler tattoos

“People should know that governments and state actors have long tried to make use of or exploit far-right political actors for their own purposes,” Colborne said. “You can go to a place like Serbia, for example, to see this action outside the Russia/ Ukraine context. But if you choose to play with fire like this, you have a good chance of getting burned.”

Categories: Tech News

The Best Gifts for Gemini, Other Than a New Personality

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 08:57

On the eighth day, God made you, gorgeous, gorgeous Geminis. She mainlined some cold brew, hopped on an E-bike, and realized just how fun it is to stir the pot when you give the spoon to the most hot, unbothered, inquisitive sign of the zodiac. This week marks the beginning of the season (May 21 to June 20) for the astrological air sign symbolized by twins—or better yet, Rihanna’s bébé Gemini—and the beginning of a period to celebrate the curious, social butterfly of the zodiac. 

Geminis are here for a good time, not a long time. They’re ruled by Mercury, the planet of communication, and are damn good at finding out the best gossip, juiciest new reads, and coolest local art classes. As with their air sign kin, Aquarius, they’re naturally inquisitive and cultivate many hobbies with ease—only a Gemini will wax a little more philosophical after two or three bottles of wine. They’re charming, always smell good, and the perfect plus one at a wedding. They also love to be the center of attention—and honestly, they deserve it, because no one knows how to effortlessly command a room quite like a Gemini and their delicious portfolio of personalities and interests. 

A Gemini will challenge you, pick a fight as foreplay, and love you forever (if you give them attention). Jean-Paul Sartre was a Gemini. So is Angelina Jolie, Azealia Banks, and Stevie Nicks, who may or may not have put a spell on her ex during a live performance (very Gemini). This sign will teach you how to live with a little more joie de vivre, but will always keep you on your toes (thank god Taurus season let us chill out beforehand). They deserve the presents that feed their chaotic, intellectual souls, from clever tech to personalized undies and so much more. Grab your pack of 27s, and let’s go shopping for everyone’s favorite twins.  

The ultimate Gemini soundtrack

Enter Tupac Shakur, our late Gemini King. This exhaustive LP of the iconic artist’s greatest hits would be perfect for every Gemini’s shelf, whether they own a record player or not.

“I read a book about that”

Geminis are like walking encyclopedias. They’re voracious readers who crave hobbies more than a Pisces craves hot crocodile tears. They deserve a veritable guide to NASA’s universe—or just a gift card from TASCHEN, our favorite place for beautiful art books. “People always say gift cards seem impersonal,” an IRL Gemini told me, “But I LOVE gift cards to local bookshops, wine shops, restaurants, what have you. [We have] varied interests [and] like to choose for ourselves.” 

Shapeshifting sneakers

Your Gemini contains multitudes, and they deserve a pair of comfy sneakers that can take them from the trail to the club and wherever else the wind (they are an air sign, after all) blows them. These gel sneakers from ASICS x Brain Dead are dressed in a mix of earthy purples, a mossy teal, neon green, and soft orange underbelly to help your Gemini shapeshift like a pro.

The resident photog

You know how there’s always one person at the party who remembers to bring a camera? That one person who nonchalantly slides a Harman out of their fanny pack to capture the best post-club moments and bodega runs? They’re usually a Gemini, and they would love this slick reusable disposable camera, which comes with two rolls of film. As photographer Scott Walker writes in his review of the camera for VICE, “The photos are grainy, black and white, and dreamy in a way that will maybe even make you feel like you’re a little drunk.”

Something chaotic and hot 

Every Gemini radiates hot energy without trying. It’s not their fault! They were born that way, so don’t get jealous. (But, yes, they are trying to make you jealous. It turns them on.) Spoil your air sign with a thong that can be customized to say whatever you want, from ILYSM to IOU, or even that one bible verse about thongs, Genesis 14:23.

… You know what pairs perfectly with a custom thong? A crossbody chicken bag. The internet is forming a cult around this lil’ cluck, and for good reason: It’s comfy, lightweight, and perfectly holds—nay, nests—your goods. We can’t wait to watch Gemini fill it up with lipgloss, nipple clamps, and The Four Agreements.  

Their namesake dildo

A Gemini by any other name would not be such a stellar dual-ended dildo. I tested this luxurious Unbound Babes sex toy for VICE more than a year ago, and it hasn’t left my nighstand since. Not only does the borosilicate glass feel smooth and heavy with the kind of balanced weight that I’m always looking for in penetrative toys, but the two ends of the dildo offer various options and textures for anal and G-spot stimulation.

Jewelry that takes flight

Why is it so hard to find non-corny jewelry? We wrote an entire VICE guide dedicated to the task, but Collina Strada is one of our go-to brands for unique pieces that radiate a hot, slightly unhinged energy. This pair of black rhinestone butterfly earrings is what happens when a 90s lower back tattoo has a glow-up, and would be the perfect gift your Gemini. Cop them while they’re almost $20 off.

Give ‘em a goddamn pizza oven 

Your darling Gemini would love nothing more than to play with fire and dough in front of a captive, hungry audience. Can you blame them? The Ooni is the Bugatti of pizza ovens (we know; we tested it) and it’s 30% off for Memorial Day. If you really want to sweep them off their tuckus, pair it with the official pizza cookbook from Roberta’s, one of Brooklyn’s most iconic pizzerias. “If you cook, then you want this book. Roberta's in Bushwick, NYC is to die for,” wrote one Amazon reviewer of the 4.5-star average rated book. “Be sure to get a good set of digital scales because you measure everything in grams.” 

Clever tech 

If there’s one thing a Gemini needs, it’s even more tricks up their sleeve. VICE editor Hilary Pollack swears by this clip-on phone/computer lens for looking hot on Zoom. “Get thee a clip-on wide-angle lens meant for amateur photography, and bring it to thy computer,” she explains in her VICE review of the Xenvo Pro lens. “The super wide angle actually makes you look farther away from your computer, which makes many of those bumps/shadows/threats of a double chin magically disappear.” 

Sure feels nice knowing how to please our Gemini pals, doesn’t it? Enjoy the giggles while you can, because next month it’s time for Kleenex Cancer season.  

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

Nearly 1 in 5 academics admit close encounters of the anomalous kind

The Register - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 08:45
Boffins call for end to UFO stigma

A survey of academics has found that nearly one in five reported an experience with unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAPs, previously known as UFOs and unidentified aerial phenomena), which researchers say signals the need to ditch the stigma surrounding sightings and broaden inquiries.…

Categories: Tech News

Teen with Nazi Flag 'Intentionally' Crashed into White House Security Barriers and Made Threats, Police Say

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 08:39

A 19-year-old from Missouri rammed a U-Haul into security barriers near the White House overnight, and made threatening statements about President Joe Biden. 

When investigators searched the truck, they found a large swastika flag inside. 

Police have since identified the driver as Sai Varshith Kandula from Chesterfield, a St. Louis suburb. 

A LinkedIn page appearing to belong to Kandula shows that he graduated from high school last year, and was hoping to pursue a career in coding or data analytics. 

Investigators believe that Kandula “intentionally” rammed his vehicle into the bollards by the White House, and he’s since been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, threatening to kill, kidnap or inflict harm on the president, vice president or a family member, and reckless operation of a motor vehicle and trespassing. 

Anthony Guglielmi, the Secret Service’s chief of communications, said in a statement that the “preliminary investigation reveals the driver may have intentionally struck the security barriers."

No one was injured. 

The incident has already set off a firestorm of conspiracy theories, with many of the usual online personalities making baseless declarations that it was a “false flag.” 

Those conspiracies are getting a major boost in terms of visibility as many of the people spreading them are now verified Twitter blue subscribers, which means their posts feature prominently under news stories about the crash. 

Some conspiracy theorists are even trying to weave together several recent disparate news stories — last night’s U-Haul crash, the missing 30-ton shipment of fertilizer that can be used as explosive material, and the hundreds of members of Patriot Front, a white nationalist group, recently marching on DC. All this, according to galaxy-brained internet commentators, suggests that the government is laying the groundwork for a coming “false flag” attack that they can blame on white supremacists.

Categories: Tech News

Uber Charged Riders Surge Rates, But Drivers Didn't Get Paid Due to Glitch

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 08:34

Uber drivers on Reddit reported receiving an email this weekend telling them that on Saturday, the company had accidentally failed to show drivers a “heatmap” indicating where surge pricing was in effect. The result was that drivers did not receive extra pay for driving passengers while surge pricing was in effect, despite the fact that customers had paid the surge upcharge. Uber confirmed the incident to Motherboard and said it would compensate drivers.

An email posted to Reddit said, “A technical issue may have prevented you from seeing the Driver Surge Heatmap yesterday. The issue is fixed and you can now continue to check the Driver Surge Heatmap for areas of high demand. We are sorry for any inconvenience.”

In the Reddit thread, drivers commiserated over the company’s failure, with many fearing that Uber was going to skip out of their obligation to pay them. 

“Uber pocketed millions of dollars from surge that was supposed to go to the driver and claiming it was a technical issue, fuck that,” one driver said. Another responded, “Yet when they accidentally paid everyone extra for a few hours they clawed it back,” a reference to an incident on April 1 where the company says it accidentally double-paid drivers and then removed the funds from their account.

“Get some better software developers with all the money you’re stealing,” one driver wrote.

An Uber spokesperson told Motherboard that the error occurred between Saturday, 6 pm EST until 3:30 am on Sunday. Uber confirmed to Motherboard that the company will compensate drivers who drove in areas with surge pricing, saying, “We apologize for this error and we want to make it right. Drivers will be compensated for the trips they took that should have been priced higher due to surge pricing.” When asked when drivers would be compensated, the spokesperson said “ASAP.”

One driver on Reddit suggested compensating every driver for the glitch, regardless of whether they drove on Saturday. “They should send every driver some sort of credit.. there are those who didn’t work because they didn’t see a heat map.. so those skipped hitting the road to prevent driver over saturation,” they wrote.

Categories: Tech News

Stability AI Co-Founder Sued CEO for 10 Percent of the Company

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 08:33

A doctor claiming to be a co-founder of Stability AI, one of the hottest startups in the artificial intelligence space, sued the company last week, claiming that he was cut out of the company and demanding that it fulfill its promise of 10 percent ownership equity. 

The lawsuit was filed on May 18 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk division, and was dismissed by the plaintiff on the same day.

Tayab Waseem, a computational biologist specializing in AI uses for medicine and policy, filed a complaint against Stability AI and its co-founder and CEO Mohammad Emad Mostaque on May 18. Waseem claimed that from July 2020 through July 2021, he served as Chief Scientific Officer of Stability AI, and was presented to investors as a member of the foundering team. He claimed that Stability AI promised him 10 percent common stock in the company, to be vested immediately, in lieu of a paycheck. 

As of March, Stability AI is reportedly seeking to raise funds at a valuation of about $4 billion, and in 2022, it raised a seed round of $1 billion. Stability AI created Stable Diffusion, a text-to-image deep learning model that’s been accused of stealing artist’s work to create AI-generated images. Getty Images sued Mostaque and Stability AI earlier this year, claiming “brazen infringement of Getty Images’ intellectual property on a staggering scale.” That lawsuit is ongoing. 

Unlike its primary competitor in the image generating AI space, Open AI’s DALL E, Stable Diffusion is open source, meaning users are free to tweak how it works. This is why Stable Diffusion is a popular tool for producing AI-generated porn, something that DALL E doesn’t allow. 

Mostaque recently wrote on Twitter that artificial general intelligence poses an “existential threat to humanity.” 

Waseem’s complaint claims that in March 2021, on a Zoom call with co-founders Cyrus Hobes and Mostaque: 

“Mostaque offered Dr. Waseem a 5% equity interest in Stability AI, Inc. in lieu of traditional compensation for his efforts. Because Dr. Waseem had been working full-time for Stability AI since July and was critical for completing the Company’s flagship project, and because he delayed portions of medical school and board examinations to work for Stability AI, Dr. Waseem insisted that he receive 10% of common stock and vest immediately. Mostaque and Hodes agreed. 31. Hodes and Mostaque confirmed Dr. Waseem’s 10% equity interest in written messages to each other.” 

Waseem claimed that he worked there for a year—helping secure funding, meeting with investors, drafting “numerous” proposals for grant application, and supervising contractors—. before taking leave to finish medical school in July 2021, something he said he’d put off doing in order to help Stability AI grow. During that time, he claimed, he helped secure crucial funding that helped advance the company to what it is today—a leader in the generative AI industry, worth billions—including his work with Mostaque’s Collective & Augmented Intelligence Against COVID-19 (CAIAC), and the collective’s Trinity Challenge, which was focused on “improving the use of data and analytics in response to health emergencies,” according to the complaint. 

“Through the CAIAC and the Trinity Challenge, which Dr. Waseem was instrumental in developing, Stability AI received funding. Stability AI used this funding to further develop its generative AI models as well as provide resources to other groups that were developing AI models,” the complaint states.

Mostaque and the other leadership at the company knew he planned to take a leave of absence to finish med school in 2021, he claimed in the lawsuit, and that they agreed that he’d return when he was finished. But when he came back to Stability AI, Waseem claimed, he’d been cut out. 

“When Dr. Waseem attempted to return to Stability AI following competition of his clinical year, Defendants wrongfully cut-out Dr. Waseem from the company, denied him his 10% ownership interest, and failed to compensate him for any of the work he performed for Stability AI,” the complaint stated. Waseem claimed that Mostaque ignored his emails, forcing him to pursue legal action.

Much of the complaint is devoted to proving that Waseem was considered a co-founder and held a leadership position at the company in its early years. In 2020, the official Stability AI Twitter account promoted an event that Waseem spoke at, and called him “Chief Scientific Officer of,” inserting a link to the Stability AI website after his title. Waseem is listed as “Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder” of Stability AI in the event’s promotional image. This is one of several examples the plaintiffs list as examples that attempt to prove Stability considered Waseem a co-founder, including a pitch deck for investors that listed Waseem as one of the company’s three leaders, “right alongside Mostaque and [Cyrus] Hodes.” 

The complaint was filed on May 18 in a Virginia district court where Waseem is based; Stability AI is incorporated in Delaware and the United Kingdom. The complaint was dismissed voluntarily by Waseem’s counsel on the same day that it was filed. Counsel for Waseem, as well as Mostaque and Stability AI, did not immediately respond to Motherboard’s request for comment. 

Categories: Tech News

I Grew Up Riding The Subway — But Driving Changed The Way I Thought About Independence

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 07:52

For New York City kids, independence is a form of currency. You learn to trade in it early: Whose parents are letting them take the subway alone, first? Who gets a cell phone? Who gets the latest — or better yet, nonexistent — curfew? 

I grew up on the northernmost tip of Manhattan, in a neighborhood called Inwood. Every morning, I took the subway 40 minutes, 18 stops, to my high school on the Upper West Side. My best friend lived another 50 minutes into Brooklyn, making our high school the exact middle point between us. On Fridays, I would pack a bag and decamp to her house after school, which was more centrally located on the map of our weekend social life, and therefore a better homebase for commuting to whatever party happened to be transpiring in Queens (requiring 3 train transfers, regardless).

No one I knew had a driver’s license. That’s not to say, of course, that we didn’t have the option to undergo the thrilling tedium of Driver’s Ed like all teens, but why bother? There was already, seemingly, no limit to our freedom.  My most prominent vehicular reference points consisted of television shows about Friday night football games in distant Texan lands and one fuzzy, time-altered Kodachrome photo of my dad, age 25, leaning on his beloved forest green 1980 FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser.

Much like our suburban counterparts, however, we craved the experience of departing from our hometown. Apparently, the existential urge to escape the specificities of your youth is area-code agnostic. At 17, my friends began waxing poetic about gothic stone buildings on liberal arts campuses in Ohio and collegiate snow-shoed hikers in Vermont. For me, it was the genetically un-New York allure of winter-less school spirit — set against the backdrop of a city — that brought me to Miami. I thought I could cleverly swap one major American metropolis for another without too much thought.   

Woman looking in rear view mirror

Having only had the most cursory knowledge of Miami before accepting my admission, it hadn’t occurred to me that the “city” as I knew it wouldn’t translate. Upon arrival, I quickly learned about spray tans and the social graces of clubbing. We had a campus alligator! There was no workable public transportation, and people questioned your emotional stability if you suggested walking (and anywhere you might need to go was five to 45 minutes away…by car). For the first time in my life, I felt trapped. I was euphoric and lonely and sweatier than I knew possible — delighted by the novelty of existing in a new context, and simultaneously feeling that I was maybe better suited for anywhere else.

I wanted to run, to retreat back across the Verrazano to safety. I scolded myself for my hubris, my inability to see what I’d had back in New York. As the months went on, I perused transfer applications for NYU and the New School. To give myself something to do — and perhaps as a tangible way to convince myself I was committing in one direction or the other — I also signed up for driving lessons. 

My instructor was named Chris, and he drove a silver Toyota Prius. He had the face and disposition of a seasoned Disney World dad: cheerful but resolved, with wire-frame glasses and a seemingly endless rotation of khaki shorts. I’ll be honest — I was petrified. But I appreciated Chris’s practical sensibility and it put me at ease; if he thought this was an okay plan, I could believe it. We started our lessons at 7am because Chris, I discovered, held a full-time job that involved patrolling the waterways to protect manatees from rogue propellers. I was a proud, lifelong “adopter” of several manatees, and so he started mapping our driving paths to the best manatee lookout spots. We’d approach an overlook, and I’d remember to turn on my blinker. He’d explain the manatee swim patterns and why they floated the way they did. To pull back out: a three-point turn.

After the requisite number of hours on my signed and dated timesheet, Chris thought I was ready, so I set off to take my driving test. To my surprise,  it turned out that in Florida, the entirety of this monumental occasion takes place in the parking lot of the DMV — other cars not included. The steps, in the exact order I performed them: pull out of a vertical parking space, turn left, turn right, back up in a straight line for 50 feet, do a three-point turn, accelerate to 30 miles per hour and slam on the brakes, pull back into a vertical parking space. I was in the car for less than 10 minutes — and I passed with flying colors.


All in all, I ended up staying in Miami for several years. Some things didn’t change: I was in love with my friends but homesick beyond belief. I was somewhat directionless, academically. But I now had an old sedan on loan from my grandparents, and to tell you the truth, it’s likely the reason I stayed. Whenever being out of place became momentarily unbearable, I got in my car.  

Down in Coral Gables, right before you hit the university, I-95 turns into the two flat lanes of US-1. If you keep driving down, you’ll hit the southernmost tip of the United States in less than two hours. At night, after a long stint at the library or a particular bout of restlessness, I would get behind the wheel, usually solo but occasionally with a close friend, and drive straight, all windows down and sunroof open (the crushing heat of the days made for absolutely perfect, perpetual summer nights). Sometimes, I’d play music so loud I couldn’t hear myself sing, and sometimes just the grumble of someone accelerating to 30 miles an hour and then slamming on the brakes was soundtrack enough.  

For the first 20 minutes, you’d be surrounded by the ecosystem of a reluctant college town. The bagel shop, a Trader Joe’s, Party City, all sandwiched into interchangeable outdoor malls. Then there was the strip club, and after the strip club there was a pawn shop, and after the pawn shop there was one railroad station, and after the railroad station there was nothing I ever got to — which was just fine, because that was all the release I needed. I still counted miles in city blocks (one for every 20, if you didn’t know), but with each passing one, I relaxed a little bit more. Although I’ve never successfully meditated, I imagine it feels something like this: briefly lapsing out of yourself and grounding in something larger. Driving on US-1 took me from what was real — my ennui, my stress, the inconveniences of 90% humidity on my waist-length hair — to a dark, suspended infinity, a world made up of asphalt and lined with sugarcane fields.

I’ve yet to find a road that gives me that same exact feeling, but I’ve come close. In so many ways, driving is the diametric opposite to subway riding. Completely solitary (or exclusively curated). Insulated from the space you’re moving through. Noise-controlled and safely strapped-in. But they share something in common, too: Both override the ease and apathy of staying put; antidotes to the often stifling stasis of being in any brain, in any body, in any city in the world. Sometimes people say the best way to maintain an earnest love for New York City is to leave it frequently. But maybe you just need to be in the driver’s seat going north on the West Side Highway while the sun gets low and the bridge looms large.

created in partnership with Toyota
Categories: Tech News

TikTok to let Oracle view source code, algorithm and content-moderation

The Register - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 07:36
It's all in the name of national security as Trump-era collab continues in Project Texas

TikTok, the social video platform used by around 150 million people in the US, is set to hand access to its source code, algorithm and content-moderation material to Oracle in a bid to allay data protection and national security concerns stateside.…

Categories: Tech News

Congress wants AM radio in all new cars—trade groups say that’s a mistake

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 07:16
Retro styled image of an old car radio inside a green classic car

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

The fight over the future of AM radio got a little more heated this week as organizations representing the auto and technology industries told Congress that its plan to mandate this mode of radio wave reception is poorly conceived and will hinder progress.

AM radio has seen almost every other in-car entertainment option come and go—vinyl, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs—and it might predate just about everything other than playing "I Spy," but time is catching up with this old broadcast technology. It is starting to get left behind as new models—many of which are electric vehicles—drive off into the sunset, streaming their audio instead of modulating its amplitude.

When we reported on the news that AM would be absent from the 2024 Ford Mustang, we noted that some elected officials in Congress were not cool with retiring this kind of radio. Now some of them have gone a step further and introduced a bill—the "AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act"—that would require every new vehicle to include an AM radio receiver as standard equipment at no extra cost to the car buyer.

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Categories: Tech News

Trans Kids Want to Go to Prom, So They Threw It for Themselves

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 06:47

By the time Daniel Trujillo was nine years old, the transgender Arizonan was already advocating for his own rights: He wrote a letter for a state legislator to read on the state Senate floor. Four years later, he and his parents started regularly driving hours to Phoenix, Arizona’s capital, to testify in person against the growing onslaught of anti-transgender bills.

For the past few months, though, Daniel has been working on a secret project to combat all that stress and fear-mongering: a prom for trans and non-binary kids in Washington, D.C. 

On Monday, roughly 150 trans children and adults from 16 states gathered in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. to attend a prom to celebrate trans kids. The decor was 1970s-inspired, in a nod to the 1969 Stonewall uprising, and involved a “Tunnel of Love” arch decked out in pale pink and blue, the colors of the trans flag. The kids put together a playlist of songs by artists like Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, and set up performances: Trujillo played guitar during a performance of Demi Lovato’s song “Warrior,” and a fellow steering committee member, 12-year-old Grayson McFerrin from Dallas, Texas, did a youth drag performance. 

While politicians demonize trans children and their families, the organizers behind prom say that trans kids deserve a chance to just be kids—with all the rites of passage that come with growing up. 

trans prom(Photos courtesy of Kisha Bari).

“Trans Prom is a big statement of what schools and public life would be like if trans people were celebrated and protected,” said Daniel, who is now 15 and wants to become a musician. He wore a sparkly black bowtie to prom, along with blue and pink shoelaces.

If 2022 marked the year that anti-trans hate went mainstream, 2023 showed just how hateful state legislators can be: More than 500 anti-trans bills have cascaded into statehouses across the country this year. More anti-trans bills were introduced this year than in the last four years combined, according to a tally by the Washington Post.

These bills can damage LGBTQ kids’ mental health, which has long been precarious. Almost half of all LGBTQ kids seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, and almost one in five transgender and nonbinary youth did attempt it, according to a 2022 national survey by the Trevor Project. A January poll by the organization found that 86 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth reported that recent debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health. 

trans prom(Photos courtesy of Kisha Bari)

Sixteen-year-old Hobbes Chukumba, another member of the trans prom steering committee, lives in blue New Jersey, so his family isn’t too worried about facing anti-trans legislation. Hobbes’ school is also supportive of him, cracking down on all forms of bullying and quickly updating students’ IDs so they can reflect their correct name and gender. 

But, Hobbes told VICE News, just because he isn’t directly affected by the bills doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel their sting.

“Even though I'm not directly struggling, I still feel overwhelmed by it every now and again,” said Hobbes, who’s interested in studying aerospace engineering in college. “I feel the pain and the struggle that the rest have to go through, because that's what it means to be part of a community. It means [having] that connection.”

20230522_TransProm_KishaBari_QuickEdit_024.jpg(Photos courtesy of Kisha Bari)

Hobbes’ father, Stephen Chukumba, focuses on letting Hobbes “guide the discussion” about the attacks on trans kids. A few months ago, Chukumba took Hobbes to a Human Rights Campaign fundraising dinner in Texas. It was the first time that Hobbes tagged along to an event like that. 

“The way I keep him safe is by empowering him to understand what's happening and to not feel defeated or not feel afraid,” Stephen told VICE News. “Because at the end of the day, the reality is that there have been marginalized people fighting for equality since the inception of this country. That's just a fact. And so those communities that have achieved any level of equality have done so by fighting tooth and nail.”

Watching his son get ready for the prom thrilled Chukumba; this was his first time not only helping a kid get properly ready for prom, but also chaperoning it. In the weeks before the prom, they picked up a suit, found a pair of funky-patterned socks that they oriented Hobbes’ outfit around, and got his hair and nails done.

Trans prom(Photos courtesy of Kisha Bari)

“The narrative that's being framed around trans people is just one that presumes everything is gloom and doom,” Chukumba said. “In fact, there are so many stories of joy and celebration and brilliance and just being youthful that aren't really actively talked about.”

For the steering committee members and their parents, the Washington, D.C. prom wasn’t only a chance to party—it was a chance to connect in person with other trans youth and their families from across the country. Lizette Trujillo, Daniel’s mom, said that the trip to the nation’s Capitol would be centered around “chosen family.”

“In a moment where they're trying to strip you of all of your rights and access to care and being able to participate in school sports like your peers, or being able to use your pronouns in the classroom, like it's transgressive to say, ‘I'm going to be joyous regardless and I'm going to exist whether you want me to or not,’” Trujillo said. “And so I'm proud of Daniel, and I'm proud that we get to be a part of this.”

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