Scrapbooking at the End of the World in 'SEASON'

Motherboard (Vice) - 10 hours 43 min ago

“Memory's images, once they are fixed in words, are erased, perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once if I speak of it, or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.” — Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino

SEASON: A letter to the future begins with a ritual. Estelle awakes to the smell of her mother’s cooking, for the last time. Her mother waits in the kitchen, beside a large burner on the table. It will be used to create a “memory pendant,” an object designed to protect Estelle from the very real “diseases of the mind” that fill her world: memory excess, time misperception disorder, daytime visions, and so many more. In SEASON, the weight of memory sinks into the ground itself before calcifying into glowing, purple crystals that scream the past into the present, and into the fragile minds of anyone who wanders too close.

To make a pendant, one must burn their memories: turning them into a form that is touchable and raw. This process destroys the memory, and Estelle’s mother makes the sacrifice in her daughter’s place. This is not just an act of motherly love, but a reflection of Estelle’s role in her dying world: Estelle is an archivist, the first person to leave her small village of Caro in decades. She must record the end of the season, a pseudo-apocalypse which describes the end of a historical era, using just a camera, a tape recorder, a journal, and most importantly, her (and your) judgment..

SEASON: A letter to the future is a game about fixing memory in place, and choosing what is lost. Along the way is also a bittersweet, unexpectedly funny meditation on memory versus history, and the reconciling the end of the world with the knowledge that life will, somehow, go on.

A photo of a landscape from SEASON, the road stretches into the distance and a mountain looms overheard. The sky begins orange, and shifts to pink.Screenshot by Waypoint.

The majority of SEASON takes place on the final day of the Tieng Valley—a secluded valley which, in more stable seasons, was a common tourist destination, known for its “three reliable gods.” It is Estelle’s first, and only, day in the valley. The record that she, an outsider, creates will be the only trace left of it after the season changes.

The valley, like every other part of SEASON is as dense and beautiful as it is fleeting. The game has a masterful command of architecture and space. The skeletal remains of an impossibly large highway loom over a small cow farm. Bits of rubble form stunning, accidental arches above a refugee camp. A forest filled with dim, electric light hums in the northeast, sunlight punching through the trees and accentuating the half-light of the bulbs. This stellar area design makes the act of photographing the dying valley a melancholy joy.

SEASON has no interest in abstracting the valley, either. That would make things easier, and SEASON has no interest in making things easy. To ride your bike to each of the major landmarks in the Tieng Valley takes thirteen minutes and twenty-nine seconds. To walk from the entrance of the valley, to Assembly Point, where the valley really begins, takes fifteen minutes and forty-seven seconds, during which you will take around one thousand nine hundred and forty four steps over four thousand four hundred and eighty three feet. The particular texture of light in the Tieng Valley changes seven times.

In addition to the photos she takes and the sounds she records, Estelle has a handful of opportunities to talk to the other inhabitants of her dying world. These conversations are as brief and as naturalistic as they are literary. Characters speak in memories and aphorisms. They tell Estelle so much, despite having just met her. However, unlike many games where this immediate intimacy feels unnatural, if expected, the presence of Estelle’s tape recorder reframes these short dialogues. These are not just conversations between strangers, instead, they are people’s last chance to give testament to the lives they lived—of course they’d be a little grandiose.

Five characters sit around a table at night, their faces are lit by candlelight, contrasting the  hard shadow of the forest around them.Screenshot by Scavengers Studio.

Most importantly to the game’s themes, conversations in SEASON only ever move forward. There are no looping dialogue trees. Time is limited, and to ask a question is to omit any other. Like everything else in SEASON, you make your choices and then you live with them.

It is these moments when the tension between recording fact, and feeling, and personal history, is at its highest.

At one point, your character is given the opportunity to talk about her father’s death with another grieving child, Kochi, whose father died while researching harpik, the memory-filled crystals which dot the valley’s landscape. You are given the option of recording the conversation, or not. I sat on that decision for minutes, imagining Estelle sliding the volume button up and down, idly, as she made her choice—the half dozen hard plastic grooves beneath her thumb. If you choose not to record it, the game cuts to black. The moment, then, is for Estelle, and not the player.

That is an especially loaded personal choice, but the hardest part of SEASON is actually choosing what to prioritize, and in doing so, constructing an idea of what history should be. This is further complicated by Estelle as a character, and the particular decisions you’ve made about her past. Would a woman who "used to see souls in everything,” “shepherds delicate things into the future,” and who was “raised in the glow of her parents' love,” choose to omit the hand-made tools of Kochi’s dead father? What about the young woman who has been alone in a dying world for months, and clings to every trace of connection she can find?

SEASON never explicitly asks you to answer these questions, it just presents a blank page and demands you fill it with something. Journaling is the game’s primary verb. By the end of the season, the journal you produce will be wholly yours. Your photos, your slightly botched recordings, and all the other things you’ve chosen to care about.

A journal page from SEASON, showing the East Forest Path. It has eight photos, two recordings, two quotes, and a handful of stamps and stickers.Screenshot by Waypoint.

At one point, you’re tasked with recording the actions of a nascent political movement known as the Grey Hands. The organization has come to the Tieng Valley to evacuate its people to the newly built Radiant City, in preparation for the coming season. The actual members seem to have their hearts in the right place, even if their methodology feels a bit…programmatic at times. A sort of bureaucratic anarchism. All well kept documents and interpersonal kindness.

You investigate their supply depots, their dig sites, the materials they leave behind. At the same time, you uncover fragments of The War—its sleeping soldiers' last waking moments literally echo through the valley.

I found a memo from the Grey Hands describing the season as “haunted.” Haunted by The War, The Golden Season, the “three reliable gods” of the Valley, and so much more. It is for this reason that they are so intent on building a new season, free from the weight of history.

I’ve always had a particular theory about hauntings, one that SEASON seems to share: that what we call ghosts are the result of emotion soaking into the built environment. In SEASON, memory can calcify into glowing purple crystals and flowers. During your journey through the Tieng Valley, you’ll find places like this, where you can pull out your tape recorder and listen to the past. Sometimes it is a conversation, like the final moments of those soldiers, other times it is a song.

If you use your camera near those crystals or flowers, any picture you take will be muddled by the purple haze of memory. In one photo, taken in a cemetery, the text of a headstone is barely legible through the sheer density of feeling in the air: “She forgot who she was. She forgot how to breathe.”

A young boy lays with his head in a woman's lap amid a field of red flowers.Screenshot by Scavengers Studio.

The only Grey Hand you meet in person is older than Estelle. He must’ve been a child of The War. With this in mind, the Grey Hand’s mission to build a new world free from the weight of history makes sense. They want to forget the war that made them—-to move on from the burden of trauma. So, they pray to Void, the god of forgetting. They hope to wipe the slate clean, and build the new season with an intentionality that other seasons have lacked. And the gods of the Tieng Valley have real power. The Grey Hands’ plan will work.

The political leaflets you find suggest that the Grey Hands are, at their core, a political organization that believes the only way to build a better world is to try something new. They have built their organization around the skillsets of the people who join. Its members range from postal workers, to doctors, to wedding officiants. The Grey Hands imagine a world of praxis, excised from context. A real utopia, but one that must be built from scratch, and requires the obliteration of everything that came before it. They require that, to move to the Radiant City, the people of the Tieng Valley must leave everything behind, without the knowledge that the coming season may take their memories, too.

Estelle, unlike many of the people she meets, was not born in an older season. She was not a product of the Golden Season, or even The War. She has spent the entirety of her life in this haunted season—she was shaped by it. It is her duty (and her right) to remember it.

A photo of a payphone, backed by the rain. Beside it, there is writing on the wall which reads. Screenshot by Waypoint.

In SEASON’s final area, Estelle meets a fellow archivist from a very far off place. The place that her childhood storybooks warned her about. She never found those people frightening, though. And I had Estelle burn that book. She keeps its ashes around her throat.

They do not speak each other’s languages particularly well. Instead, they communicate through their respective journals. The man’s journal is filled with sketches. Estelle’s journal, with sketches, photos, and recordings. The two give testimony to their respective journeys through these journals, with few words. The work of an archivist, then, is an act of translation. Estelle, despite the language barrier, conveys her journey from Caro to Tieng Valley through the voices and images of their past. Her telling is, of course, incomplete, but effective.

In Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities, in which Marco Polo describes 55 cities to the emperor Kublai Khan. Polo and the Khan do not, at first, speak the same language. Their relationship begins with a more complex form of communication: objects. Polo arranges things he has found throughout his travels, the Khan interprets them. Eventually, they progress to language. After a long time, they return to objects and silent contemplation. But throughout the novel, Polo is evasive about one place: his home city of Venice.

A screenshot of Estelle's journal from SEASON, which includes 9 photos, two recordings, a signature, and three quotes.Screenshot by Waypoint.

When the Khan finally demands Polo tell him about Venice, Polo says, “Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.” The entirety of Invisible Cities, all 55 cities (both real and imagined), are a translation of Venice. To express the place in full, is impossible. Instead, Polo and the Khan build the city together. Memory, then, when fixed in words and objects, is not truly erased, but instead, like all translations, it is transformed by the context of its telling. For moments, Venice becomes Diomira, or Isidora, or Zaira, or Zora, the cities of memory. But, in the end, it is always Venice.

I am, like Polo was of Venice, terrified of losing SEASON. I will, without a doubt, recommend it to dozens more people, but I cannot shake the sense of possessiveness I have over the game. It feels too personal for anyone else to understand. They did not lose their grandmother, a poet, like I did. She was, like Estelle’s father, a regional poet. Already, her poetry is becoming inaccessible online—hidden in dead websites and the kinds of books that no one bothers to archive.

And yet, SEASON reminds you, time and time again, that the historical and the personal are inseparable from one another—that this feeling of deep connection is, in fact, universal. It is a product of translation.

Eventually, the town I was born in will die. My grandmother’s house will fall to ruin, too. SEASON itself may one day become unplayable. In the end, this, too, is an act of translation.

Categories: Tech News

Google gives in to India Android antitrust verdict, kinda

The Register - 11 hours 13 min ago
Tech behemoth says it will appeal 'certain aspects' of the decision

Google appears to be ready to abide by an Indian court's antitrust verdict that it was exploiting its dominant position on Android, and will allow OEMs to license individual apps for pre-installation on devices and let users select their own default search engine.…

Categories: Tech News

Mysterious White Spots Are Appearing in the Ocean and Nobody Knows Why

Motherboard (Vice) - 11 hours 43 min ago

Scientists have spotted a mysterious uptick in the appearance of unexplained patches of white water in the shallow waters off the coast of the Bahamas, reports a new study based on satellite observations. 

For almost a century, people have observed these so-called “whiting” events, which typically cover an area equivalent to a few hundred football fields, but nobody knows the exact cause of this phenomenon. Samples show that the discoloration is caused by fine-grained calcium carbonate that floats over the Bahama Banks, which are carbonate structures that surround the archipelago, but it’s not clear why the grain clouds sporadically appear in the ocean.

To shed light on this enigma, researchers from the University of South Florida compiled the longest and most detailed space-down view of the Bahama Bank whiting events using observations captured by NASA’s Aqua satellite between 2003 and 2020. 

The team also trained a machine learning tool to analyze the images, an approach that revealed a “mysterious increase” in whiting events over the past decade, which peaked in 2015, as well as seasonal patterns in these discolorations, according to a recent study in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment.

“In a changing climate with decreased pH (i.e., ocean acidification) and increased temperature, one would expect slow, continuous change in whiting events,” said Chuanmin Hu, an oceanographer at the University of South Florida who co-authored the study, in an email to Motherboard.

“The former would lead to decreased events while the latter would lead to increased events, at least according to theory,” he added. “However, what we observed was truly a surprise with a 10-year episode of increased whiting events.” 

In addition to spotting these long-term patterns, the team found a large range of sizes and timeframes for the whiting events. Some patches vanished after a few days, while others stuck around for as long as three months. And while the smallest events cover a mere fraction of a square mile, the white discoloration regularly extended across more than 150 square miles from 2014 to 2015, an area roughly equivalent to the city of Detroit, Michigan.   

Those huge white patches represented the zenith of an overall increase in the total area of the whiting events that occurred from 2003 to 2015. After 2015, the occurrence of such large patches gradually tapered off, reaching an average size of about 10 square miles by 2020.

The seasonal and decadal patterns revealed by the study are certainly tantalizing, but they haven’t yet unlocked the origin of the events. Though scientists have speculated that the phenomenon could be related to sporadic flourishing of microorganisms in the ocean, or to currents that drag calcium carbonate particles to the surface, these milky splashes in the Bahamas are still an unsolved riddle, at least for now.    

“More field work is required to continuously monitor the ocean properties and processes as well as whiting events in order to have a better understanding,” Hu concluded.

Categories: Tech News

I Edited Human DNA at Home With a DIY CRISPR Kit

Motherboard (Vice) - 11 hours 43 min ago

I never thought I’d order live human kidney cells to my address, but that all changed when I found out about biohacker Jo Zayner’s at-home genetic engineering class. 

You may know Jo Zayner, a “biohacker” who has been in the vanguard of scientific self-experimentation for years, from their role in Netflix’s 2019 docuseries Unnatural Selection. The series shows Zayner attempting to edit their DNA by injecting themselves with CRISPR, a gene-editing technology. The action inspired a firestorm of criticism

Zayner is also known for a variety of other bold moves, such as claiming to create a DIY at-home COVID vaccine in 2020 and executing their own fecal microbiome transplant.

An avid proponent of increasing access to CRISPR technology, Jo opened a genetic engineering education company called The ODIN. The company sells kits and classes such as “Human Tissue Engineering” and “DIY Bacterial Gene Engineering CRISPR Kit.” 

Human Tissue Culture and Engineering 201, the class I took, intends to teach students how to edit DNA through an experiment: making HEK (Human Embryonic Kidney) 293 cells resistant to antibiotics by inserting a specific gene into their DNA. 

Though I was unsure of my take on Jo’s controversial biohacking escapades—I’m no expert—I found the prospect of playing with live, editable kidney cells that come in the mail too intriguing to pass up. Plus, I felt that editing a tiny swab of cells was inconsequential. It seemed innocent enough. 

Microscopic cellsMicroscopic cells. Image: Author

My kit, which costs about $800, arrived a few days before the class started. It came with amateur science gear, a “Biohacking is Not a Crime” sticker, the kidney cells I’d been dreaming of, and vials of brightly-colored liquids intended for the DNA-editing endeavor. 

Soon after, I joined the online class. Jo and their partners crushed Red Bull and cracked jokes about kidney monsters growing out of our sinks. I laughed along, pipette in hand, but I didn’t know whether to feel like a mad scientist or a baby playing with a match and gasoline. 

To edit the genome of kidney cells, students use pipettes to add a variety of liquids with funky names to the cells. One of them was a plasmid containing the DNA coding for an antibiotic-resistance gene. The other liquids were involved in, as I like to think about it, shoving the DNA into the cells. 

I’d be lying if I said the experiment didn’t feel like following a cookbook recipe at times. Lots of pausing, rewinding, and brow-furrowing went on. Despite my best efforts, my gene-editing experiment failed in the end. 

Something sinister gnawed at me. I began to wonder: if I took similar steps on myself, would I be able to change my DNA? And if I messed up, as I did in this experiment—I cut myself off there. That’s a scary thought.

The class by no means instructs its students to use their new knowledge to edit their own DNA—but could they? “If you can do experiments on human cells, you can do experiments on humans generally,” Zayner said. 

“Right now, if you wanted to, you can buy any of the material you need. It’s the same material used in clinical trials, the same material that’s used by drug companies. [You can] buy it and use it to genetically modify yourself” by claiming to order it for “research purposes,” Zayner explained.

“We’re entering an age of humanity where we’re not just taking drugs anymore”

Zayner suggested I experiment on mice first and told me where I could purchase the material. “That’s kind of what the class is for. Democratize the tech so that more people are doing this stuff.” 

I found my conversation with Zayner adrenalizing.  But even if I wanted to edit myself, ignorant of any risk, I wouldn’t know where to start. For starters, I’d need to know which gene (or genes) to edit and how to safely and effectively administer the material. 

These questions likely make gene editing out of reach for most who would attempt it. The answers aren’t exactly Google-able. 

According to scientists at the FDA, even if someone like Zayner designed an at-home gene therapy perfectly, risks exist. Some say CRISPR therapies could cause cancer or cause off-target (unintended) effects. Some critics are even worried about the risks of environmental degradation, eugenics, and bioterrorism. Others disagree, like Dr. David Largaespada, a genetic engineering expert from the University of Minnesota.

“Put in perspective, compared to the risks of driving cars, taking medications, using drugs, and any other risks we accept, I think they are minimal, both to individuals and society,” he said. “Instead, the benefits are great.  We've not had any real accident from lay people using CRISPR—it's all hypothetical risks so far.  People might harm themselves with CRISPR, might create a pest dangerous to agriculture or the environment, or some other problem. But, I consider it unlikely at present.” 

In medical contexts, CRISPR is showing early signs of being far more powerful for use in adult patients than previous generations of gene therapy and genetic modification tools. But experts say that, at the moment, there remain limitations to using CRISPR to fundamentally change a living human. While it can be used to modify and "fix" a diseased cell, for example, there's currently no way to ensure that the modified cells will replicate enough to overtake the existing, unmodified ones. Scientists are optimistic, though, that these limitations will be overcome.

Gene editing tools are accessible, as Zayner’s DIY kit and classes show, but they haven’t been brought to market yet. With this information comes a wave of questions I can’t answer. Should those with life-threatening diseases be allowed to attempt to fix themselves? Would you edit high-stakes diseases out of your genome—or simply change something about yourself—knowing full well that you could face severe consequences? And should that risk be yours to take?

“We’re entering an age of humanity where we’re not just taking drugs anymore… we’re actually modifying human genetics to solve our medical issues,” Zayner explained. “Who do you want in control of that genetic future? We need to distribute this so that people have access to it.”

Categories: Tech News

How Close Are We to Nuclear Fusion for Limitless Energy?

Motherboard (Vice) - 11 hours 43 min ago

It’s no secret that nuclear energy has had something of a bad-boy reputation in the past, filled with toxic baggage and catastrophic meltdowns. Repairing the image of this energy source has been an uphill battle, but recent achievements of its more elusive, yet more powerful, sibling—nuclear fusion—could change that. If achieved, it could provide humanity with an effectively limitless and clean source of energy by replicating the kind of reactions that take place inside the Sun.

In December 2022 the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) announced that its National Ignition Facility (NIF) had achieved a new milestone toward achieving nuclear fusion by generating more power (over 3 megajoules, or 1 megajoule shy of a kilogram of TNT being detonated) than they had initially put in using a process called inertial confinement—more on that later.

This result may sound meager for an energy source that is modeled after the core of burning stars, but for scientists who have been chasing this science for decades like Omar Hurricane, chief scientist of the fusion program behind this result, it’s proof that their efforts may finally be paying off.

“[T]he December result were milestones that demonstrate that there is no physics obstacle standing in the way of fusion power generation,” Hurricane told Motherboard in an email. “I like to describe our results as an ‘existence proof.’”

Hurricane added that while NIF’s approach could potentially be used for commercial fusion down the road, it’s currently focused on “fusion science and National Security applications,” such as evaluating the US’s nuclear stockpile.

While scientists have known how to create nuclear fusion for many years, actually creating this potentially self-sustaining power source has been the field’s white whale. NIF’s new achievement, as well as a growing private sector, might just be the push fusion needs to finally come into its own. More than just a scientific achievement, a new era of fusion power could be a huge step towards a more sustainable energy future, Stephanie Diem, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and principle investigator of a fusion energy experiment, told Motherboard in an email.

“Ultimately, a fusion-based power plant can be used to replace our current, fossil-fuel burning power plants and can power our homes, industries and businesses,” Diem said.

With this fresh advancement in mind, it’s worth taking stock now: Just how close are we to achieving nuclear fusion, and solving humanity’s energy woes?

What is nuclear fusion?

If nuclear fusion has so much potential, it may seem unclear why its counterpart, nuclear fission, can’t go toe-to-toe. While both reactions are nuclear, meaning they both involve energy changes at the center of atomic nuclei, they are actually polar opposites in many ways.

Nuclear fission is at the heart of nuclear power plants around the world and works by breaking apart the atoms of radioactive elements like uranium to create a burst of energy. This energy is then used to heat water and create steam in order to turn turbines which create electricity. Depending on their size, nuclear power plants like these have an annual generating capacity of roughly 500-1000 megawatts, equivalent to up to the power of 1.3 million horses per plant.

The downside of this approach is that using radioactive atoms as the reactors’ energy source results in dangerous waste products and can also be susceptible to dangerous meltdowns like those that took place at Chernobyl in the 80s and Fukushima in 2011. Even if new fission reactors can overcome these pitfalls, the energy source is still finite.

“Fusion brings us hope and an amazing challenge”

Nuclear fusion, on the other hand, has the potential to be self-sustaining once it's properly sparked, a process that nuclear scientists call ignition. This energy source works by slamming light atoms together (e.g. hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium) to form one heavier atom (e.g. helium.). This is the same process by which the Sun generates the energy that we attempt to capture on Earth with solar panels.

“The theoretical energy production possible per unit mass of fusion fuels… far exceeds that of other known sources of energy,” Hurricane said. “The deuterium isotope hydrogen is also plentiful in sea-water and there are schemes to breed tritium from lithium (also plentiful in seawater) in proposed fusion power plants.”

Similar to nuclear fission power plants, nuclear fusion technology will create electricity through the creation of steam to turn a turbine, but at four times the amount and without harmful byproducts.

How close are we to achieving nuclear fusion?

Harnessing the power of a burning sun on Earth is no small feat. To achieve this, there are two main methods that scientists use: lasers and magnets.

“These confinement approaches broadly fit into the following categories: magnetic fusion energy utilizing magnetic bottles called tokamaks and stellarators, inertial fusion energy and magneto-intertial fusion—a combination of the previous two techniques,” Diem said. “The most mature technology is MFE using magnetic bottles called a tokamak.”

The NIF experiment was created using laser-based inertial confinement. In a nutshell, close to 200 high-powered lasers were bounced around a capsule containing the hydrogen isotope fuel. In a matter of seconds, the energy from these lasers heated up the capsule from the outside which first compressed the fuel and then created an outward explosion of energy.

Many other government and private projects alike, including France’s highly anticipated ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), use tokamaks to heat up their star fuel. Originally designed by Soviet scientists in the late 1950s, tokamaks work by using magnets and a vacuum to compress and heat up hydrogen atoms until they transform into a plasma. Continued pressure on this plasma then forces it to undergo fusion.

In recent years nuclear fusion breakthroughs like NIF’s energy gain, Europe’s Joint European Torus (JET) sustained energy pulse, and private UK-based Tokamak Energy’s improved heating have been scraping away at the requirements for nuclear fusion, but Diem said that right now they’re not much more than science experiments.

“Now that we have demonstrated that controlled fusion is possible, next, we will need to tackle the engineering challenges required to generate electricity,” she said.

To make commercial fusion viable, scientists and engineers will need to develop new materials that can withstand the fusion environment as well as develop new ways to create fuel for these reactions, such as harvesting the ingredients from seawater. The search for fuels has even caused scientists to look at outer space, where a helium isotope called helium-3—a promising fuel for nuclear fusion reactors—is largely found. China, for example, has claimed to find helium-3 in moon dirt. In a planetary twist, however, scientists have recently discovered that there’s more helium-3 on Earth than previously thought, although its source remains mysterious.

Towards these goals, the Biden-Harris administration announced in April 2022 funding for two pilot fusion power plants totaling $50 million, although there’s skepticism of how this funding will pan out. Even then, researchers believe that nuclear fusion may still be decades away.

But when—or maybe, if—it pans out, it could have ripple effects that go far beyond greener energy, Diem said.

“In a world where we have fought wars over energy and access to resources used for energy production and where we are seeing accelerated impacts of climate change, fusion brings us hope and an amazing challenge,” she said.

“While there are still many challenges that lie ahead for fusion, the potential benefits are huge and I’m incredibly excited to see what’s next in this field as we continue to push innovation and drive towards a cleaner, more sustainable, equitable and just future.”

Categories: Tech News

SAP is culling 3,000 jobs from CRM business and its results weren't even that bad

The Register - 12 hours 11 min ago
'Targeted restructuring' could have been worse, analyst points out

SAP is targeting its CRM business with 3,000 job cuts despite full year 2022 revenue of €30.9 billion, up 11 percent.…

Categories: Tech News

Space mining startup prepping to launch 'demo' refinery... this April

The Register - 13 hours 16 min ago
Last (failed) attempts at such an endeavor happened a decade ago, but AstroForge thinks it can do better

Cast your mind back to the year 2012 and you might stumble upon a very similar story, but this isn't a flashback: There's a new startup in town that wants to mine asteroids, and this one claims to be ahead of the game.…

Categories: Tech News

UK govt Matrix has unenviable task of consolidating several different ERP systems

The Register - 14 hours 10 min ago
Software to support 46,000 users as group part of £900m program to simplify central government back end

The UK government has kicked off procurement of an ERP system for eight Whitehall departments which consolidates nine different software systems – a project potentially more complex than a snake's wedding.…

Categories: Tech News

Tech job bloodbath comes to IBM, CFO links layoffs to Kyndryl, Watson Health

The Register - 14 hours 47 min ago
Human Capital leaves the building

IBM is the latest tech company to jump on the layoff bandwagon, with news it would reduce its workforce by around 3,900.…

Categories: Tech News

Techies ask PM to 'prepare UK chip strategy as a matter of urgency'

The Register - 16 hours 13 min ago
Yeah, and make it something better than just asking Arm to dual-list in London...

Tech industry luminaries have politely asked the UK Prime Minister to pull his finger out when it comes to delivering a strategy for the future of the UK semiconductor sector, or it may not have one at all.…

Categories: Tech News

Lockheed Martin demos 50kW anti-aircraft frickin' laser beam

The Register - 17 hours 16 min ago
Looks like a reboot of SWIV

Lockheed Martin this week showed that a 50kW laser being developed for air defense scenarios can be turned on to create a coherent beam, a milestone the defense giant calls "first light."…

Categories: Tech News

Bloke allegedly stole, sold private info belonging to 'tens of millions' globally

The Register - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 23:34
If true, was it worth the $500k and prison jumpsuit?

A man suspected of stealing personal data belonging to tens of millions of people worldwide and selling that info on cybercrime forums has been arrested by Dutch police.…

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft shells out for 2.5GW of solar. Not that it'll make a big dent in its emissions

The Register - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 22:25
Unless it's hooking up all those panels to your PCs and servers

With just seven years left to achieve its 100 percent renewable energy goals, Microsoft said it would add as much as 2.5 gigawatts of solar power to its operations under a partnership with South Korea's Hanwha Qcells.…

Categories: Tech News

James Webb Space Telescope suffers another hitch: Instrument down

The Register - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 21:06
Second system to be knocked offline

The Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is currently offline, and all science observations using the instrument will have to be rescheduled as engineers try to repair the thing.…

Categories: Tech News

NIST dreams of cellular networks free from 5G vendor lock in, supply chain pain

The Register - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 19:01
Nokia radio units working with Ericsson distribute units? What's next? Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) wants to prevent supply chain challenges and vendor lock-in that might get in the way of US carrier's 5G rollouts.…

Categories: Tech News

Months after NSA disclosed Microsoft cert bug, datacenters remain unpatched

The Register - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 18:07
You know when we all said quit using MD5? We really meant it

Most Windows-powered datacenter systems and applications remain vulnerable to a spoofing bug in CryptoAPI that was disclosed by the NSA and the UK National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) and patched by Microsoft last year, according to Akamai's researchers.…

Categories: Tech News

RSA’s demise from quantum attacks is very much exaggerated, expert says

ARS Technica - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 17:15
Abstract futuristic electronic circuit board high-tech background

Enlarge

Three weeks ago, panic swept across some corners of the security world after researchers discovered a breakthrough that, at long last, put the cracking of the widely used RSA encryption scheme within reach by using quantum computing.

Scientists and cryptographers have known for two decades that a factorization method known as Shor’s algorithm makes it theoretically possible for a quantum computer with sufficient resources to break RSA. That’s because the secret prime numbers that underpin the security of an RSA key are easy to calculate using Shor’s algorithm. Computing the same primes using classical computing takes billions of years.

The only thing holding back this doomsday scenario is the massive amount of computing resources required for Shor’s algorithm to break RSA keys of sufficient size. The current estimate is that breaking a 1,024-bit or 2,048-bit RSA key requires a quantum computer with vast resources. Specifically, those resources are about 20 million qubits and about eight hours of them running in superposition. (A qubit is a basic unit of quantum computing, analogous to the binary bit in classical computing. But whereas a classic binary bit can represent only a single binary value such as a 0 or 1, a qubit is represented by a superposition of multiple possible states.)

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Watch Rocket Lab lift off from US for first time, put radio-sniffing sats into orbit

The Register - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 17:05
Nice of someone to give SpaceX a little competition

Video  Rocket Lab this week successfully launched its first Electron rocket from American soil, and put three satellites into low Earth orbit.…

Categories: Tech News

If you're suffering Start menu and app gremlins on Windows, Microsoft has a suggestion

The Register - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 16:02
No, it's not install Fedora Linux

Microsoft has offered a workaround of sorts for Windows 10 and 11 users who've noticed their Start menu is suddenly unresponsive and that some applications won't open or work correctly.…

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How to Survive Without a Dishwasher, Without Killing Your Roommates

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 15:30

We get it, some of you have it made—coasting through life on your parent’s oil money, living in massive mansions with dishwashers in every room. Well, we hate to break it to you, but not everyone has that luxury. Some of us, if you can believe it, wash dishes with our [gasp] hands. 

Now, for those of you living in parts of the country where realtors gift you a dishwasher just for touring a place, you might not be familiar with the concept of a cuisine sans lave-vaisselle, or a kitchen without a dishwasher. (It sounds less depressing in French.) But for everyone else, especially those carving out a living in crowded metropolitan areas, a dishwasher can be a hot-ticket amenity—one that’s often sacrificed in order to afford the endless barrage of Sweetgreen deliveries that might dirty enough dishes to make said appliance necessary. So, dishwasherless brethren, we hear you, and we’re here for you. 

First off, dishwashers really aren’t that great. I mean, the name itself is a misnomer, since you literally have to wash the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher (according to our collective mothers anyways). Secondly, for renters, they can tack on a good chunk of change when you pay your landlord's salary rent each month. And if that isn’t enough, there are also lots of kitchen items you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) put into the dishwasher, like your good knives, easily scratchable pans, fragile glassware, and cast iron skillets (maybe?). 

So until I have a chance to pop down to the Money Store and pick up some more money, here are some ways to make the pain of cleaning up after your big cooking projects less, well, painful. 

Forget everything we just said 

… And just buy a portable dishwasher! (“Dishwashers suck, actually” sounds suspiciously like something someone without a dishwasher would say, TBH.) This portable powerhouse by Magic Chef is quiet, sits comfortably on a countertop, and features six wash programs. (In the market for something a little more sleek? We also love this Farberware version with a voyeuristic viewing window, or this stainless steel model.)

You’re a size queen

Looking for a bigger, badder portable dishwasher? Look no further. This upright, stainless-steel model by GE is the perfect accent piece for your railroad apartment’s teensy-weensy kitchen. Slide it next to your perennially broken oven, or plop it next to your singular square foot of counter space. With six feet of hookup line to outlets and a water source, you’ll have no trouble literally making ends meet. (Do kitchens wider than six feet actually exist? Asking for a friend.)

Please remember to clean this thing

What’s the point of doing dishes if you can’t show them off while they dry? This rack is compact, it holds pots and pans, and it’s KitchenAid, which will give off the illusion of luxury when houseguests confuse it with something from Breville. Plus, it has a “truly premium look,” just like you.

The humble sponge 

Stop slam-dunking your usual yellow-and-green bois directly into landfills and swap them out for these eco-friendly dish sponges. They’re cheap, they work, and—according to the product description—they’re “Mother Earth Approved.” (Can we get her number?)

If most of your eating is done on takeout containers 

… You probably don’t need a full blown dish rack. Instead, get this rollable, over-the-sink drying rack for the coffee mugs you’re currently using as wine glasses. (Also, tip your delivery people, people!)

Ajax could never

Unsuspecting shoppers who read the product description might start to decant this luxe dish soap. “French lavender fields give way to light, sweet floral notes, delicately finished with subtle, earthy wood.” Let us know how it tastes?

You can’t afford to break any more wine glasses

After all, you only have three. OXO products are both sick and tight, and this silicone sink mat is no exception. In addition to turning the bottom of your sink into a drying rack, this bad boy is sure to save you the headaches of fishing broken glass out of your drain. 

We’re suckers for anything “ultimate”

The “ultimate” kit comes with a sisal pot scrubber, a palm pot scrubber, three large bamboo cloths, a sisal dish brush refill, a coconut bottle brush, and a brush cleaner. Whew—we’re out of breath.

Dexter’s mom vibes

All we’re saying is that if she were walking down Canal Street, people would think she was doing the whole 1950s housewife thing ironically, and very well. It’s functional fashion, folks! Wear gloves and save your hands. If yellow isn’t your color, we also stan these silicone gloves with scrubbers built right into the palms.

It won’t hold your golf bag, but it will hold your dish soap

Reviewer DeLoris purchased this dual-compartment sink caddy as a Christmas gift for her granddaughter-in-law, who was “excited” to receive it. We thank you for your service DeLoris. 

You are not a dish

… So have some hand soap near the sink! As tempting it is to use that crusty bottle of Palmolive on your mitts (it just feels… right) it’s probably not terrific for your skin. This moisturizing hand care set from our new favorite brand Elorea is enriched with vitamins to smooth out the skin of gardeners (and longshoremen, probably). The brand creates intriguing scents inspired by Korea, like Joy, which is filled with Jeju mandarins and grapefruit.

Kneel before your one true god, this pizza kitchen towel

It’s your kitchen—it’s okay to get weird with it. Embrace the lame, the ironic, the sardonic. Be really, you know, cheesy. (FYI, they were out of drying towels shaped like this.) 

Stop pushing bottom-of-the-sink food mush down the drain 

We’ve all been there: Too much liquid in the soup bowl to throw into the trash, yet not enough solids to really warrant dirtying a fine mesh strainer. Instead, you just pour the dregs into the sink and hope that loose onion chunks and celery particulates won’t deal your drain the final death blow. Get a sink strainer, and save yourself the embarrassment of telling your super what a dirty, dirty boy you’ve been. 

Resist the urge to use paper towels 

Oh, you dry your hands with PTs? We weren’t aware that you hated the earth—good to know. While the quicker-picker-upper might be effective, does it look as stylish as this checkered, artisanal hand towel? We didn’t think so. 

Unless you want old man hands

Are soft, beautiful hands cheugy yet? (Not sure, but we’ll keep you posted.) If you’re not acquainted, let us be the first to introduce you to Working Hands. This, friends, is the way. Loved by bartenders, cooks, lumberjacks, and anyone whose hands crack and chip in the winter, this stuff is hands down (get it) the best cream for seriously dry hands—an unfortunate side effect of constant dishwashing. 

Hate doing dishes? Don’t

Look, some of you are going to use Solo cups and paper plates until some poor soul takes pity on your feeble, floor-mattress soul. So, instead of waging a one-man war against the ozone layer, why not switch to a more sustainable set of disposable plates? These happen to be far cooler-looking than the average white paper plate. Plus, they’re compostable. 

And yes, you have to wash the backs of your plates. 

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. VICE may receive a small commission if you buy through the links on our site.

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