Cadillac will electrify its most excessive SUV, the Escalade

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 06:15
A Cadillac Escalade headlight

Enlarge (credit: Cadillac)

In 2020, Ars tested the then-new Cadillac Escalade. The big SUV is Cadillac's best-seller, and while we might not have enjoyed the way it drove, or its thirst, it did feature some interesting driver assistance technology. There's a chance we might prefer driving the next Escalade, though—on Monday afternoon Cadillac revealed that it is working on an electric Escalade, called the Escalade IQ, and it will show off the new electric SUV later this year.

There's quite a lot riding on the electric Escalade. The regular version accounts for about a third of Cadillac's total sales each year, and automakers in general make the most money from large, loaded, and expensive vehicles.

That probably explains why the electric version will still be called an Escalade—you'd be silly to throw away that brand identity—although appending an "IQ" to the end creates a corporate link with Caddy's other EVs, the $60,000 Lyriq and $300,000 Celestiq. (No, that's not a typo.)

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Categories: Tech News

AI Reconstructs 'High-Quality' Video Directly from Brain Readings in Study

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 06:13

Researchers have used generative AI to reconstruct "high-quality" video from brain activity, a new study reports.

Researchers Jiaxin Qing, Zijiao Chen, and Juan Helen Zhou from the National University of Singapore and The Chinese University of Hong Kong used fMRI data and the text-to-image AI model Stable Diffusion to create a model called MinD-Video that generates video from the brain readings. Their paper describing the work was posted to the arXiv preprint server last week.

Their demonstration on the paper’s corresponding website shows a parallel between videos that were shown to subjects and the AI-generated videos created based on their brain activity. The differences between the two videos are slight and for the most part, contain similar subjects and color palettes.

MinD-Video is defined by the researchers as a “two-module pipeline designed to bridge the gap between image and video brain decoding.” To train the system, the researchers used a publicly available dataset containing videos and fMRI brain readings from test subjects who watched them. The "two-module pipeline" comprised a trained fMRI encoder and a fine-tuned version of Stable Diffusion, a widely-used image generation AI model.

Videos published by the researchers show the original video of horses in a field and then a reconstructed video of a more vibrantly colored version of the horses. In another video, a car drives down a wooded area and the reconstructed video displays a first-person-POV of someone traveling down a winding road. The researchers found that the reconstructed videos were "high-quality," as defined by motions and scene dynamics. They also reported that the videos had an accuracy of 85 percent, an improvement on previous approaches.

“We believe this field has promising applications as large models develop, from neuroscience to brain-computer interfaces,” the authors wrote.

Specifically, they said that these results illuminated three major findings. One is the dominance of the visual cortex, revealing that this part of the brain is a major component of visual perception. Another is that the fMRI encoder operates in a hierarchical fashion, which begins with structural information and then shifts to more abstract and visual features on deeper layers. Finally, the authors found that the fMRI encoder evolved through each learning stage, showing its ability to take on more nuanced information as it continues its training.

This study represents another advancement in the field of, essentially, reading people's minds using AI. Previously, researchers at Osaka University found that they could reconstruct high-resolution images from brain activity with a technique that also used fMRI data and Stable Diffusion.

The augmented Stable Diffusion model in this new research allows the visualization to be more accurate. “One of the key advantages of our stable diffusion model over other generative models, such as GANs, lies in its ability to produce higher-quality videos. It leverages the representations learned by the fMRI encoder and utilizes its unique diffusion process to generate videos that are not only of superior quality but also better align with the original neural activities,” the researchers wrote.

Categories: Tech News

Review: Nvidia’s $399 RTX 4060 Ti is a step forward, but only a small one

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 06:00
The RTX 4060 Ti Founders Edition.

Enlarge / The RTX 4060 Ti Founders Edition. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Nvidia's announcement of the GeForce RTX 4060 series last week broke the pricing trend set by every other RTX 4000-series card released so far: The 4060 Ti is launching at the same price as its predecessor, and the 4060 is actually getting a small price cut.

But these cards also continued a trend that we noted in our RTX 4070 review—compared to past generations, the performance upgrade just isn't as impressive. The $400 RTX 3060 Ti could match or beat a $700 RTX 2080 Super from the previous generation. The 4060 Ti... well, it can definitely beat a 3060 Ti.

It's a very capable mid-range graphics card that's great at 1080p and can often stretch to 1440p. It gives you more performance and lower power consumption at the same price you'd pay for a 3060 Ti yesterday. And it does all of the Ada Lovelace architecture's special tricks, like DLSS Frame Generation and hardware-accelerated AV1 video encoding. But it doesn't bring last generation's high-end performance down to a more reasonable price the way older Nvidia cards have.

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Categories: Tech News

Book Bans Are Discriminatory And Bad, U.S. Dept of Education Rules

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 06:00

In one of the first rulings of its kind, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued a ruling against a school district in Georgia that banned books about race, gender, and LGBTQ topics. 

The government’s investigation found that the district’s removal of books from schools created a hostile environment for students based on sex and gender under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and race, color, or national origin under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the ruling.

“OCR has a concern the District received notice that its media center book screening process may have created a hostile environment for students, yet the District’s responsive steps related to the book screening process were not designed to, and were insufficient to, ameliorate any resultant racially and sexually hostile environment,” the letter reads

Since 2021, Forsyth County Schools has been at the center of a contentious book banning fight where books with themes related to sex, gender, and race have been censored and removed from schools. 

John Chrastka, founder of the public and political support nonprofit EveryLibrary Institute, told Motherboard that this kind of investigation by the Department of Education investigation is significant, and comes after a series of federal lawsuits which argued that school book bans violate the First Amendment

“In [Island Trees School District v.] Pico, the Supreme Court recognized the First Amendment right of students to read,” Chrastka told Motherboard. “Extending protections under Title IX for sexual and gender minorities’ access to school libraries would further strengthen and support the dignity and rights of every student.” 

The letter points out that in 2022, the district formed a book review committee that helped reinstate some books in question to school library shelves. However, the OCR letter notes the committee lacked LGBTQ representation. 

A chief spokesperson for Forsyth County Schools told Motherboard that the district will comply with federal, state, and local board policies and procedures as they relate to media center materials.

“Forsyth County Schools is committed to providing a safe, connected, and thriving community for all students and their families,” Jennifer Caracciolo, Forsyth County Schools’ chief communications officer, told Motherboard in a statement. “With the implementation of the OCR’s recommendations, we will further our mission to provide an unparalleled education for all to succeed.” 

According to the resolution agreement, the OCR has ordered the district to complete a number of tasks in an effort to correct its behavior. This includes conducting student outreach about book reconsiderations, administering a climate survey, putting together a working group to create a climate improvement plan for impacted schools, and meeting strict deadlines. 

Categories: Tech News

Billionaire BT stalker Patrick Drahi increases stake to 24.5%

The Register - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 05:50
Just a shade under the 25% threshold that would spark investigation, but he still doesn't want to take over, honest

French telecoms billionaire Patrick Drahi has upped his ownership of the UK's BT Group to nearly a quarter yet he still insists he does not intend to make an offer for the entire company.…

Categories: Tech News

End of an era: CD Baby stops distributing artists’ CDs, vinyl, and other goods

ARS Technica - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 05:46
Artist whose head has a CD transposed over it

Enlarge / CD Baby no longer sells or distributes CDs but will help an artist figure out how much to charge for their discs. (credit: CD Baby)

CD Baby, an online indie music pioneer and the go-to place for indie music artists looking to get their music into storefronts, has told its customers that it will no longer distribute physical goods, like CDs, after June 22, 2023.

As seen on Twitter, on music blogs, and in its Help section, the Portland, Oregon-based distributor of independent music will continue to help artists get their music onto the digital stores of Spotify, Amazon, and Apple. But as of June 22, CD Baby will no longer warehouse, ship, or distribute CDs, vinyl, cassette tapes, or DVDs to Amazon or music wholesaler Alliance. Once artists with inventory in CD Baby's warehouse receive notice, they'll have 60 days to decide whether to get their inventory shipped back to them or have it recycled.

Like other services that date back to the late-1990s dot-com boom, CD Baby has gradually shifted away from its namesake offering. Launched from Woodstock, New York, in 1998 by Derek Sivers, it was one of the first web-based CD stores that focused on selling independent artists' work. By 2009, according to the company, physical sales through its store accounted for only 27 percent of the revenue it paid out to artists.

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Categories: Tech News

Keir Starmer's techno-fix for the NHS: Déjà vu disaster or brave new blunder?

The Register - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 04:19
Beware over promising benefits and underestimating complexity

Opinion  Around 20 years after the largest public sector technology disaster in UK history began a £12 billion contracting escapade, they're at it again.…

Categories: Tech News

Inside the World of Dark Romance, Where Serial Killer Is the New Sexy

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 04:00

A tattooed hand rests on a shapely thigh. An amber candle flickers. Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” kicks in. And a smoky voice purrs, “Hello, darling.”

Welcome to BookTok, the TikTok subculture devoted to reviewing and advertising books, where romance novels reign supreme. More specifically: This is the shadowy, horny corner of BookTok where users post thirst traps for a growing sub genre of books known as “dark romance.”

Dark romance is a little like pornography: You know it when you read it. Still, there are usually three signs that you’re reading a dark romance. First, the male protagonist is typically an antihero or outright villain, like a mafia boss, a biker, or a billionaire who refuses to listen to “no.” Second, there’s often violence. And finally, the book tends to take a dim view of the law and morality. Sometimes, the darkest part of the plot may involve a forced marriage to a hitman who turns out to be a fairly normal guy, murderous profession aside. In other books, though, characters end up in relationships with stalkers, serial killers, and human traffickers, with varying degrees of sexual coercion and free will.

And even though we’re in the post-#MeToo era, the women who read dark romance—because its readers are largely women—adore it.

The dark romance community particularly thrives on Reddit, where commenters ask for recommendations for books with dynamics so destructive that just reading the requests may lead you to choke (and not in a fun way). “Dark romance books that are more focused on the toxicity and cruelty than the happy relationship?” one reader asked. Another wanted a recommendation for “a dark romance that's so dark and toxic that it's mentally concerning,” while someone else was looking for “dark romance where the [female main character] is being abused/sexually assaulted or self-harms.” Someone else simply asked, “Dark romance with realistic non-con?”

In dark romance speak, “non-con” is short for “non-consensual sex.” Since romances are, by definition, supposed to conclude with the characters living happily ever after together, this poster wanted to read a love story between a rapist and his victim.

“I think it's something deeply therapeutic about reading a book where a woman is going through really messed up things—being buried underground with tarantulas, having her fingers cut off—and you know that her life will be okay, you know her life will work out,” said Imogen, a dark romance lover who lives in the United Kingdom. Like several other people interviewed for this story, Imogen asked that her last name not be published. Many told VICE News that they feared being stigmatized for their reading tastes. 

Women who read dark romance told VICE News that they found the blood-soaked, sex-crazed genre to be a cathartic escape from their real lives. Dark romance recognizes that life is difficult and dangerous, especially for women, who face discrimination every day and are more likely to be killed by their intimate partner than by anybody else. But it also reassures readers that there is still a way to survive, fall in love, and, of course, have toe-curling sex. And it lets them fantasize about wielding so much twisted power over a man that they will be safe forever—and no longer have to worry about the shackles of propriety.

Fangirl Jeanne, the nom de plume of a culture critic who’s written online about dark romance, pointed to the fable of “Beauty and the Beast” as a dark romance archetype. “What if the guy who I was sold to in marriage—and essentially owns me and is actually, literally a monster—actually is really, really hot? I like him and he's super sweet and he buys me books,” Fangirl Jeanne said. “We take the aggressor or the powerful intimidating figure, and we to some extent de-power them through their desire for us and then make that a power of our own.”

At the same time, dark romance can perpetuate deeply retrograde, repellent notions about gender, race, and power. The books often suggest that women aspire to be nothing more than the zookeepers of the monstrous men in their lives. Reading dark romance may be romanticizing our own oppression.

But Imogen, and readersothers like her, don’t feel that way. “No matter how messed up things get, there will be happy endings,” Imogen said. 

Those fingers that get cut off? They grow back.

Romance has always accounted for a massive share of the publishing industry, but sales of the genre have exploded since the pandemic and its endless afterlife. In 2021, romance accounted for almost one-fifth of all sales of adult fiction, one industry research group found. Another organization found that, between 2021 and 2022, sales of print romance books spiked by 40 percent, more than any other genre. The organization credited the growth to BookTok.

It’s difficult to quantify dark romance’s success or growth, in part because it flourishes within the seething jungle that is Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s bizarro version of a library, where self-published authors can upload their books. (Traditional publishers probably want to steer clear of books that suggest the line between Stockholm syndrome and true love is so fine as to be nonexistent.) Like the rest of romance, the configurations of love in dark romance vary wildly; queer and polyamorous relationships are easy to find. Still, even in books with polyamory, heterosexual romances are more common.

Dark romance also overwhelmingly features white characters. (Romances that feature characters of color, meanwhile, get tagged as “urban.”) If the book stars a hero who’s involved in organized crime, for example, they’re typically Russian, Italian, Irish. It all reinforces the sense that it’s okay for some types of people—white people—to break the law.

“A white man can literally go as far as murder and we still think of him as an appealing romantic partner, but a Black guy just existing in the world next to you is scary,” Fangirl Jeanne said. “There’s a truth being revealed about what we think is possibly romantic and safe and what we don’t.”

Some books’ darkness stems from the perilous settings that the main characters find themselves navigating; here, the hero is not the heroine’s tormentor, but her savior. And not all dark romance involves non-con or “dub-con,” which roughly translates to “sex where the consent is dubious.” 

“I hate this term of ‘dubious consent,’ because that is not a real thing that exists in the world,” said dark romance reader Jackie, who is in her mid-30s. “You either consent or you don’t.”

Often, though, dark romances have zero interest in redeeming their heroes or bleaching the toxicity out of their relationships. Sure, the mafia don who kidnapped the heroine may come to regret it and grovel at her feet. (Mafia kidnappings are so common in Dark Romancelandia that someone really needs to declare a national emergency.) But he’s also just as likely to shrug it off, because he desires her so much he’d do anything to keep her.

“Some books that I've read that I've particularly enjoyed have involved the idea of a woman being something that can be owned by a group of men. That comes down to them being able to decide everything about how that person lives their life,” said Devon, who is in her 30s and lives in the United States. “Something that's always been appealing to me, that is a common thread in these books, is that insane obsession. It's not like I want that in an unhealthy way, but to think somebody's world revolves solely around you in such an extreme way that they'll do anything to protect you, take care of you, and keep you safe—that, I feel like, is appealing to everybody.”

“Everybody” may be a stretch, but more people than you may imagine are turned on by the thought of being treated like a possession that doesn’t or can’t consent. More than 60 percent of women harbor some form of rape fantasy, according to a 2012 study of more than 350 female undergraduates. (Romance is for everybody who wants to read it, but within the romance community, there is an understanding that the authors and the audience are generally women.)

To be clear: Having rape fantasies does not mean you want to be raped. Instead, reading a dark romance that eroticizes force can be a kind of literary “consensual non-consent,” where partners mutually agree to role-play a scene where one person forces another into some kind of activity (usually with guardrails such as safe words and clear limits). While the characters on the page may not consent, the reader consents in their stead—especially because the reader likely knows what’s coming, since it’s standard for dark romance writers to put detailed trigger warnings at the beginning of their books. 

Unlike in other kinds of books, those trigger warnings can sound as much like an advertisement as a caution.

The romance genre writ large has long grasped the ubiquity of rape fantasies, and dabbled in the kind of dynamic that would now be shelved under “dark romance.” In 1972, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s bestselling The Flame and the Flower set the publishing world alight when it became the first so-called “bodice ripper.” Its central romance kicks off with a scene where the hero rapes the heroine.

“It’s called ‘rape’ on page,” said Andrea Martucci, host of the podcast Shelf Love, which discusses romance novels and their place in culture. “It’s not that people in 1972 didn’t know what rape was, but the cultural conditions of even the business of publishing were different, like what was considered kind of marketable, ways you could have sex on page that were considered like acceptable or proper.”

“They understood it to be rape,” Martucci continued. “But it was dealing with something that the readers were grappling with, and obviously it resonated with people, given its sales.”

By 1987, one study of romances set in the past found that more than half of the surveyed novels featured a scene where the female protagonist is raped.

Sometimes, after reading a dark romance, 23-year-old Szodyraa Smith finds herself unsure of whether a character consented to sex. “If it’s straight-up sexual assault, then I have an issue if the author is romanticizing it,” said Smith, who is in her early 20, said. She worries about the message those scenes may send to male readers, in particular.

“Like, ‘Okay, if I sexually assault this girl, maybe she did want it, or maybe we still have the potential to be together, or maybe there’s something I can do to make the girl fall in love with me,’” Smith said. “It’s really important for the author to really understand the implications of writing scenes like this, and I think they have to do it very carefully.”

Take the Reddit commenter who wanted to read “realistic non-con.” They wanted such a book because, they wrote in their post, “I find that a lot of dark romance that features non-con sexualizes it too much and tries to make it kinky. They gloss over the consequences of non-con.” 

“I want them to be traumatized and actually scared after what had happened to them,” they added.

Romance novels, Fangirl Jeanne said, don’t just bubble up from a vacuum. Instead, they’re in conversation with mainstream media and social attitudes.

“Those are the romantic heroes that we’re presented with—the men in mainstream media,” she said. “It’s hard to have a conversation about dark romance without talking about the rise in popularity of antiheroes or outright villainous characters as protagonists in stories, be it talking about Dexter. Before that, The Sopranos. Before that, Sons of Anarchy. Almost every subgenre of dark romance, you can go look at it, and go work backwards to figure out what piece of media probably inspired it.”

By virtue of even dubbing its romance “dark,” a book acknowledges that its central relationship might be less than healthy—unlike, say, in Twilight, when Edward Cullen’s obsession with Bella Swan (and his barely-contained thirst to rip her throat out) is enshrined as the pinnacle of love. The romance it inspired, 50 Shades of Grey, isn’t much better: It insists that Christian Grey’s total inability to respect Anastasia Steele’s boundaries is proof of his love. As the internet joke goes, if Christian Grey weren’t a billionaire, would he still be considered hot? Or would he just be abusive?

“Violence against women in media is so inescapable. It's just everywhere we look. It's completely normalized. And if we speak out against or in any way, it’s seen as, ‘Well, art is art, and also you’re an angry feminist,’” said Imogen, who is in her 20s.

As a teenager, Imogen walked into her living room and found her parents watching a TV show about a serial killer who murders women. “I go into the room, and there’s just a woman being brutally raped on the screen,” she recalled. Imogen was stunned. The fictional woman had been given next to no personality. Her entire purpose was to be raped and murdered.

“There’s something about deliberately reading books of darker things, that I’m consenting to reading, knowing what’s going to happen and knowing the woman’s life is going to work out, is 100 percent claiming back power, because I’m rewriting a narrative,” Imogen said. “I’m choosing to enter into that narrative and I’m knowing how it ends.”

There are some limits to what Amazon will tolerate in the fiction that gets published on its platform. It won’t sell content that “glorifies rape or pedophilia” or “other material we deem inappropriate or offensive,” according to its content guidelines for books. But you can still find dark romances like Comfort Food, which follows a woman who gets kidnapped by a man who at first doesn’t speak to her and is conditions hered into becoming his sex slave. He releases her, but she returns and agrees to become his sex slave for the rest of her life—however long that may be, since she recognizes their relationship is probably too malignant for her to survive it.

Comfort Food’s author, Kitty Thomas, has claimed that the book, published in 2010, may just be the very first dark romance. Thomas told VICE News that, in the years since Comfort Food’s publishing, women have reached out to share how the book impacted them.

“They found ways to reframe their experiences and to stop blaming themselves for things that happened to them that weren't their fault,” said Thomas, who declined to speak on the phone and instead talked to VICE News through direct messages on Twitter. Thomas added, “The more women see other women reading books like this, the more they feel permission to deal with their own fears and fantasies, which are sometimes next-door neighbors, even if they are very, very different things in reality.”

Thomas isn’t sure if the ending of Comfort Food is a happy one. “To me, the most important part is that they are ‘in this’ together,’” Thomas said. “The rest of society falls away and doesn't matter. It's a very intimate situation, for better or worse.” (It’s for worse. Again, the main character becomes a sex slave with a death wish.)

The endings of dark romances can challenge what it means to live “happily ever after”—but only to a certain extent. Because they always end with the two main characters getting together, regardless of whether there’s been any attempt at redemption, dark romances can regurgitate the extremely conventional and extremely damaging belief that even a deeply unequal relationship is better than ending up alone. Ladies, he may be an unhinged stalker who murdered all of your other potential suitors, but hey, at least you’re not single!

“That has been a coping mechanism of living under patriarchy, is finding the most powerful man—who’s usually white, rich, older and probably a terrible person—and stick with him, because ideally his privilege will trickle down upon you. That’s a lot of what these fantasies are,” Fangirl Jeanne said. “The power dynamics of these relationships are always going to be imbalanced. In some ways, I feel like these relationships and these stories are actually more honest about the insurmountable privilege of a man, especially if he’s rich, and the lack of power a woman has.”

This fantasy is found across all kinds of romance, although it tends to be less terrifying outside of dark romance. When the impoverished heroine marries the duke in a historical romance, she doesn’t devote herself to redistributing his wealth and dismantling the unfair societal structures that once deemed her “less” than her lover. Instead, she just becomes the duchess, complete with unlimited money and orgasms.

Dark romance, then, might be saying the quiet part out loud. And maybe, readers say, it’s refreshing to declare that you simply don’t care about being politically correct when you’re reading for fun.

“I consider myself very feminist, just for the record. Very much so,” said Lillian, who lives in the United States and is in her 20s. She paused. “I hate reading about feminist heroines.”

Dark romance readers like to stress that they have no interest in living out the kind of dynamics they like to read about. For Devon, dark romance is a safe way to explore her fantasies. In reality, she says, she’s a fairly dominant person, with a firm grasp of what she wants and how she wants it. “My partner in real life is the ultimate pacifist, sweet person, and I am always reading books about these aggressive, obsessive, antihero men,” Devon said. “It's like the complete dual opposite.”

She wants more people to explore the moral ambiguity of dark romance.

“Everyone has an opinion these days, and everybody wants to control the narrative of what people should be thinking about and should be enjoying. People love to draw the moral line,” Devon said. “I just think everybody should read a little dark romance and see where they find themselves on that spectrum.”

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Categories: Tech News

SAP's cloud drive hits speed bumps with American users

The Register - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 02:30
ERP giant losing points on execution and flexibility

SAP's drive to move customers to cloud-hosted and SaaS systems is not being matched by its flexibility and operational sophistication, the user group representing the Americas has told The Register.…

Categories: Tech News

UK told it must double low carbon investment to meet net zero targets

The Register - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 01:32
Complexity also a problem across 115 funding streams, watchdog says

Great Britain needs to at least double its low carbon investment if it is to reach the ambition of achieving net zero by 2050.…

Categories: Tech News

Google Cloud upgrades with next-gen accelerator that embiggens its VMs

The Register - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 00:15
Homebrew Infrastructure Processing Unit virtualizes networks and storage to make Sapphire Rapids Xeons sing

Google Cloud has given itself a significant upgrade by introducing its latest Infrastructure Processing Unit – the same kind of kit that others call SmartNICs or Data Processing Units – in its first instance type powered by Intel's fourth-gen Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors.…

Categories: Tech News

Ads for lucrative jobs in Asia fail to mention chance of slavery as crypto-scammer

The Register - Mon, 05/22/2023 - 22:58
FBI warns jobseekers to be very skeptical of working holidays in Cambodia

The FBI has issued a warning about fake job ads that recruit workers into forced labor operations in Southeast Asia – some of which enslave visitors and force them to participate in cryptocurrency scams.…

Categories: Tech News

IBM asks UChicago, UTokyo for help building a 100K qubit quantum supercomputer

The Register - Mon, 05/22/2023 - 22:02
For $100 million it better beat an Nvidia A100

IBM plans spend $100 million to build a 100,000 qubit "quantum-centric supercomputer" allegedly capable of solving the world's most intractable problems by 2023 and it's tapped the Universities of Tokyo and Chicago for help.…

Categories: Tech News

Dell pulls storage, PCs, and compute into Apex ITaaS platform – a little late

The Register - Mon, 05/22/2023 - 21:03
Continues feeding the hybrid cloud monster

Dell World  It took a little over a year, but Dell has followed through (to an extent) on promises it made in 2022 with the introduction of Project Alpine – an effort to make its block, file, and object storage software available in top hyperscale cloud environments.…

Categories: Tech News

China hasn't told Micron why it failed security review, or what its ban means

The Register - Mon, 05/22/2023 - 19:58
US memory-maker forecasts single-digit revenue impact, and ongoing gloom in PC and smartmobe markets

US memory-maker Micron has no idea why Chinese authorities have decided its products represent a security risk, or which customers it's not allowed to sell to.…

Categories: Tech News

WeChat makes facial recog payment systems talk to the hand

The Register - Mon, 05/22/2023 - 19:02
Wave-to-pay tech seems ideal for Jedi cosplay - if palmprints and veins are the biometrics you're looking for

Chinese microblogging site WeChat has launched the ability to make payments by swiping the palm of a hand over facial recognition devices.…

Categories: Tech News

China becomes the 37th country to approve Microsoft's Activision buyout

The Register - Mon, 05/22/2023 - 17:45
Boss fights with US and UK authorities lie ahead, and Redmond may not have enough power-ups to prevail

Another economic powerhouse has assented to Microsoft's $68.7 billion absorption of video gaming powerhouse Activision Blizzard, with China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) giving the covenant its okay late last week.…

Categories: Tech News

Uncle Sam strangles criminals' cashflow by reining in money mules

The Register - Mon, 05/22/2023 - 17:01
Tech support scammer among those targeted by recent crackdowns

Uncle Sam announced its commenced over 4,000 legal actions in three months — mostly harshly worded letters — to rein in "money mules" involved in romance scams, business email compromise, and other fraudulent schemes.…

Categories: Tech News

Here’s how long it takes new BrutePrint attack to unlock 10 different smartphones

ARS Technica - Mon, 05/22/2023 - 15:31
Here’s how long it takes new BrutePrint attack to unlock 10 different smartphones

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Researchers have devised a low-cost smartphone attack that cracks the authentication fingerprint used to unlock the screen and perform other sensitive actions on a range of Android devices in as little as 45 minutes.

Dubbed BrutePrint by its creators, the attack requires an adversary to have physical control of a device when it is lost, stolen, temporarily surrendered, or unattended, for instance, while the owner is asleep. The objective: to gain the ability to perform a brute-force attack that tries huge numbers of fingerprint guesses until one is found that will unlock the device. The attack exploits vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the device SFA (smartphone fingerprint authentication).

BrutePrint overview

BrutePrint is an inexpensive attack that exploits vulnerabilities that allow people to unlock devices by exploiting various vulnerabilities and weaknesses in smartphone fingerprint authentication systems. Here's the workflow of these systems, which are typically abbreviated as SPAs.

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Categories: Tech News

These $10 Sony Earbuds Are an Affordable Alternative to AirPods

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 05/22/2023 - 15:03

One day, a long time ago when I was in college, I needed a pair of headphones—immediately. I had a tedious day of studying ahead of me, and playing phat beats to distract me from the pain was essential. I went to the Rite Aid on Rutgers’ campus and laid my eyes upon a humble, unremarkable, $10 pair of wired headphones from Sony. Available in a slew of colorful options and, more importantly, super-affordable, they were ever so inviting. Forgetting my headphones one day in college turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I had never turned back almost 10 years later.

Specifically, this life-saving piece of Sony tech was, and remains, the MDREX15LP Earbuds. Admittedly, that’s quite a mouthful, but I swear they’re worth it. I already knew Sony was a banger brand when it comes to audio gear, but for 10 bucks, I’m shocked that you can get a pair of earbuds that sound this good. In my opinion, the sound is near-equivalent to my Apple AirPods, which obviously have their own major perks, but I’m on a mission to convince you these bad boys offer similar superior sound and noise blocking capabilities that offer surprisingly rich audio and use ergonomically thoughtful design to block out your surroundings (all for just a mere $10).

In terms of sound quality, Sony uses 9-millimeter dome driver units and high-energy neodymium magnets in these small but mighty earbuds to provide big, killer sound with powerful bass, treble, and midrange, and offer higher sensitivity using less power. These buds are also ultra comfy, with a variety of different-sized silicone earbuds included for a secure fit.

Whenever I wear these buds, I feel like I’m at the Brooklyn Mirage throwin’ down hard thanks to the earbuds’ incredibly deep, immersive bass (sans the pricey concert ticket). I should point out that, yes, these are wired, but in case you weren’t already aware, wired earbuds have become quite a staple of street style. Don’t believe me? There's a dedicated Instagram called @wireditgirls showcasing “hot girls” dominating the trend.

Truthfully, they’re not built to last forever—I’ve gone through many pairs of these headphones in my time, but each one lasts me a couple of years. I honestly find that to be pretty impressive given the ridiculously low price tag, but to each their own. I mean, they do have a 4.3-star average rating and over 33,000 reviews on Amazon. One user even said, “I accidentally put them in the wash more than eight times and they still work perfectly fine”—which is nuts, so these bad boys deserve a medal.

TL;DR: If you’re prone to losing AirPods, breaking pricey headphones, and don’t want to deal with finagling big, over-the-ear audio gear, these $10 Sony earbuds are a godsend for throwing in your bag or pocket and always having the ability to plug in and tune out (with surprisingly rich sound). I will keep buying these until the day I die. Does that sound too extreme? Oh, well, sue me.

Sony MDREX15LP Earbuds are available for purchase on Amazon.

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Categories: Tech News