Hackers Demand $10M From Riot Games to Stop Leak of ‘League of Legends’ Source Code

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 11:51

Hackers stole the source code for League of Legends, and now they’re asking for $10 million from developer Riot Games.

Motherboard has obtained a copy of a ransom email the hackers sent to Riot Games. “Dear Riot Games,” it begins. “We have obtained your valuable data, including the precious anti-cheat source code and the entire game code for League of Legends and its tools, as well as Packman, your usermode anti-cheat. We understand the significance of these artifacts and the impact their release to the public would have on your major titles, Valorant and League of Legends. In light of this, we are making a small request for an exchange of $10,000,000.”

As evidence, the hackers provided Riot Games with two large PDFs they said would prove they had access to Packman and the League of Legends source code. Motherboard also obtained these files; they appear to show directories related to the game’s code. If paid, the hackers promised to scrub the code from their servers and “provide insight into how the breach occurred and offer advice on preventing future breaches,” according to the ransom note.

In the message, the hackers included a link to a Telegram chat where they said Riot Games could speak with them. Motherboard joined this channel. Its members included usernames that matched those of names of Riot Games employees.

“We do not wish to harm your reputation or cause public disturbance. Our sole motivation is financial gain,” the ransom note said. The message has a deadline of 12 hours. “Failure to do so will result in the hack being made public and the extent of the breach being known to more individuals.”

Riot Games first announced news of a compromise last week in a series of tweets. The exact nature of the hack isn’t known, but Riot Games referred to it as a “social engineering attack”. It also said it had no indication that user data had been affected. On Tuesday, Riot Games said in a tweet it had confirmed hackers stole the source code for League of Legends, Teamfight Tactics, and its “legacy” anticheat platform. Another tweet said that on Tuesday “we received a ransom email. Needless to say, we won’t pay.” 

“We also want to remind you that it would be a shame to see your company publicly exposed, especially when you take great pride in your security measures,” the hackers said in their ransom note. “It is alarming to know that you can be hacked within a matter of hours by an amateur-level hack.”

In response to a request for comment from Motherboard, Riot declined to add anything further beyond the already published tweets. 

The full note, minus the link to the Telegram chat, is printed below.

Dear Riot Games,

We have obtained your valuable data, including the precious anti-cheat source code and the entire game code for League of Legends and its tools, as well as Packman, your usermode anti-cheat. We understand the significance of these artifacts and the impact their release to the public would have on your major titles, Valorant and League of Legends. In light of this, we are making a small request for an exchange of $10,000,000.

We uploaded a tree list pdf file, which you can view the tree of Packman and League of Legends source. If you require any files for proof, message us and we will provide you the raw file.

In return, we will immediately remove all source code from our servers and guarantee that the files will never be released to the public. We will also provide insight into how the breach occurred and offer advice on preventing future breaches. We suggest communicating through Telegram, you can join us here:

[Telegram link]

We do not wish to harm your reputation or cause public disturbance. Our sole motivation is financial gain.

We have sent this message to the Directors only and have given you twelve hours to respond. Failure to do so will result in the hack being made public and the extent of the breach being known to more individuals.

We also want to remind you that it would be a shame to see your company publicly exposed, especially when you take great pride in your security measures. It is alarming to know that you can be hacked within a matter of hours by an amateur-level hack.

We urge you to take this matter seriously and consider our proposal.

Categories: Tech News

SpaceX completes fueling test, will now work toward massive engine firing test

ARS Technica - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 11:47
SpaceX completed a wet-dress rehearsal of its Starship launch system on Monday.

Enlarge / SpaceX completed a wet-dress rehearsal of its Starship launch system on Monday. (credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX on Tuesday confirmed that it fully fueled its Starship launch system during a critical test on Monday and is now preparing to take the next step toward launch.

The company shared images and video of its fully fueled Starship upper stage and Super Heavy first stage in South Texas. The shiny, stainless steel vehicles appeared frosty as they were loaded with super-cold liquid oxygen and methane propellants.

During this "wet-dress rehearsal" test, SpaceX said it loaded more than 10 million pounds (about 460,000 kg) of propellant onboard the vehicle, which, when fully stacked, stands 120 meters tall. Essentially then, over the course of a little more than an hour, the company filled a skinny, 30-story skyscraper with combustible liquid propellants—and nothing blew up.

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Categories: Tech News

Fujitsu: Quantum computers no threat to encryption just yet

The Register - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 11:47
Heavily hyped tech bound for big time by decade end

Research conducted by Fujitsu suggests there is no need to panic about quantum computers being able to decode encrypted data – this is unlikely to happen in the near future, it claims.…

Categories: Tech News

PC peripheral makers are feeling tech’s pandemic boom hangover too

ARS Technica - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 11:30
logitech webcam on a PC monitor

Enlarge (credit: Scharon Harding)

What goes up must come down, the tech industry is feeling that law right now. From historically low PC sales to depressing waves of layoffs hitting big names like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and HP, companies are having to readjust after getting used to business-fueling pandemic conditions like lockdowns and working from home. The latest is Logitech, one of the kings of the tech pandemic boom, which is painting us another picture of the downsides that come with those short-lived highs.

On Monday, Logitech announced its Q3 fiscal year 2023 results, which covers the three-month period ending December 31, 2022. Sales fell 22 percent compared to Q3 of the prior fiscal year. This includes drops in PC webcams (49 percent decline), audio and wearables (34 percent), mobile speakers (32 percent), keyboard and keyboard combos (22 percent), and pointing devices (14 percent). In the nine-month period ending on December 31, Logitech saw a 16 percent decline in year-over-year net sales. (This includes streaming services revenue from its Streamlabs division.)

That's quite the contrast from May, when Logitech announced record sales from April 2021 to March 31, 2022 (fiscal year 2022), and from April 2021, when the company announced a 76 percent increase in sales year-over-year from April 2020 to March 2021.

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Categories: Tech News

The Best Valentine's Day Gifts for Long Distance Relationships

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 11:15

So, you love your boo, but not enough to move to the same geographic location where they currently reside? Got it. Unfortunately for you, that means your long distance Valentine’s Day gift-giving stakes are higher than those applied to the lucky bastards who see each other so much they can get away with a card and some takeout without provoking a fight. 

Your gift has to solidify the very beliefs keeping your relationship alive: You are worth pining after! Distance really does make the heart grow fonder! FaceTime can be sexy! When [insert life hurdle that’s keeping you apart] is over, you will be together forever and it will be bliss. (Fingers crossed.) Luckily, you’re not left to source up inspiration all on your own. Even John and Paul didn’t write love songs all by themselves—sometimes you need a little help from your friends. And today, dear reader, I am your friend. 

Send them some good vibrations

You don’t need me to tell you that long-distance lovin’ can’t be sustained without the help of sex toys. Nevertheless: Here’s my recommendation. The We-Vibe Melt connects to the We-Connect app, which gives you control over the vibrator’s settings—from anywhere. That means you can take your weekly, er, “FaceTime sesh,” to a whole new level.  

For the boys left stroking their own “ego”, the Turboo automatic male masturbator will make it feel like you’re in the room with them. This super-sucking device uses Tracy’s Dog’s patented CFEET (Centrifugal Forced Ejaculation Enhancement Technology) and features three different powerful vibration frequencies to get you throw the cold, lonely months that you cant be with your sweetie (and it’s currently 34% off).

Cozy kept simple 

Who wouldn’t love to receive a Brooklinen weighted blanket? As a singleton, I might just buy this for myself this year, but you can save your honey some money and bestow a throw that will cuddle them. Available in four colorways, this blanket is made of breathable, textured cotton, with a quilted interior layer of tiny glass beads that’ll feel like you’re giving your SO a hug from wherever you are.

Find your love language

Your day isn’t always interesting enough to be talked about—we get it. Instead of sitting in silence, inject some new life into your conversations with the Love Lingual card game! The cards cover five categories, including Sex & Intimacy and Past & Future, and each card has a question that’s meant to deepen your connection. Amazon reviewer Gabrielle Feldman offered this bit of advice to other customers: “My girlfriend and I LOVE these cards. As people who are constantly talking about our relationship and trying to find new ways to get to know each other, this is amazing.” Godspeed!

Run away to Vermont  Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 5.56.44 PM.png

What could be more romantic than a weekend in a cozy A-frame cabin nestled in the Vermontonian woodlands? We’re talking craft beer, beautiful scenery, some of the best cheese in the country, and a few nights of alone time. Get bookin’.

Alpine A-Frame Midcentury Cabin by Lake Raponda, $213/night at Airbnb

Share moments even when you’re apart

Nixplay smart picture frames give you a new way to share photos that’s more intimate than the ‘gram or a photo dump on iMessage. When you use the Nixplay app, you can send pictures right to frame in your SO’s bedroom—a simple way to show your sweetie that you’re thinking of them. 

Not your usual last-minute love letter 

Do not complete this the night before Valentine’s Day. I repeat: Do not complete this the night before! That being said, if you actually set aside time to work on this booklet, the result is a creative, thoughtful trove of letters to your sweetie for when they’re missing you most, with prompts such as, "Open when you're looking for inspiration," and "Open when you need a pep talk.” Awe.

Couples who binge-watch together stay together

Right now, HBO Max has lowered its monthly subscription price by 20%—the perfect excuse to sign you and your honey up so you can The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and (of course) Euphoria. Act fast on this one, because the deal only runs for a limited time. 

Keep it classic

When it comes to gift-giving, there are some Certified Bad ideas. (Read: bathroom scales, a loose stick of deodorant, an IOU.) Bring the risk level for missteps down to zero by opting for flowers. Since your neighborhood bodega is officially out of the running, use a flower delivery service such as Urban Stems. The Amethyst bouquet is a gem—just as the name suggests—and there are other options, too, including our personal favorite, the bohemian bundle The Luna

View all your memories in a retro way

Everyone remembers the hours they spent clicking through their first View Master as a kid. For you Gen-Z youths, its basically a personal slide projector…a slide projector is how we saw photos before iPhones…I digress. Imagine the look on your partner’s face when they open up their own View Master with custom slides, depicting all your best memories as a couple—major points, just wait until the next time you see one another. It’s on.

Try a MasterClass 

Sure, you may not be able to join your boo for hot yoga, but with the MasterClass virtual classroom structure, you and your partner can still take some sort of class together—even if you’re not in note-passing distance. If your SO is into cooking, Osteria Francescana chef Massimo Bottura is teaching a class on modern Italian cuisine. (Or, take it on your own so you can show off in the kitchen next time you’re together.) 

Here, there, and everywhere 

Thought you can’t be two places at once? Think again. If long-distance love leaves you wringing your hands with jealousy and fear of infidelity, get your honey a pair of socks with your face on them so everyone knows you’re still around. (Is this healthy? Probably not. But I am not here to pass judgment.)

Steam up the windows

Somewhere out in this cold, ruthless world, your baby’s out there scraping the snow off the car all by their lonely self. If you were there, you’d do it. Since you’re not, do the next best thing and give your SO a car starter (plus the dough to have it installed) so they can still warm it up even when you’re not around. 

Oil up

Some say that nothing says commitment like jewelry, but I do not belong to that group. If you want to show your baby that you’re in it for the long haul, go for the gold—the gold standard of olive oil, that is. Toss out the bargain brands and give your Valentine the artisan blends that their palate so rightly deserves with The Artist Capsule, a four-pack of Brightland’s best and most aesthetically pleasing bottles.

Signed, sealed, delivered 

There’s a reason chocolate on V-Day is a cliche—it slaps every time. Use the Simply Chocolate delivery service to send your SO (or yourself) something sweet this Valentine’s Day. It’s hard to beat the Godiva Signature Truffles, but they also have satin heart box sets if that’s more up your lover’s alley. 

To hell and back

Turn off John Legend and John Mayer, baby. This Valentine’s Day isn’t for smooth crooning—it’s for rock-opera worthy proclamations made with grand theatrics. It’s for praying to the God of Sex and Drums and Rock ‘n’ Roll and singing along with ‘Loaf, promising, I would do anything for love!… except move to the area where you live. At least not yet. (RIP, King.)

Happy V-Day, lovebirds.

Categories: Tech News

Humans Retain ‘Ancestral’ Understanding of Ape Gestures, Study Says

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 11:00

Humans are surprisingly good at interpreting the meanings of gestures made by chimpanzees and bonobos, our closest living relatives, reports a first-of-its-kind study that quizzed more than 5,500 human participants about ape movements. 

The results hint that humans may retain some level of fluency in a physical repertoire of gestures shared by many apes, suggesting that our own ancestors may have used similar motions to communicate before the emergence of our modern complex language. 

Chimpanzees and bonobos, members of the Pan family of great apes, often communicate with physical movements that translate to messages such as “groom me,” “get on my back,” or “let’s be friendly.” Kirsty Graham and Catherine Hobaiter, who are both primatologists at the University of St Andrews, have carefully cataloged these motions in their research, which got them thinking about the implications of this gestural vocabulary in unraveling the origins of human language.

To probe this question, the pair enlisted 5,656 people to complete an online game that tested whether participants could interpret gestures produced by nonhuman apes in a series of videos, using a multiple-choice format for answers. The short quiz, which is still available at this link, offers “the first test of the hypothesis that language-competent adult humans still share access to ‘family-typical’ great ape gesture,” according to a study published on Tuesday in the journal PLoS Biology.

“Cat [Hobaiter] and I both study wild chimpanzees and bonobos and have spent a long time trying to understand their gestures by looking at what they achieve,” said Kirsty Graham in an email to Motherboard. “Nonhuman great apes share most of their gesture repertoires (vocabularies) and so it’s possible that this might be something shared by our last common ancestors.” 

“But modern humans use gestures in so many diverse ways that it would be impractical to try to pick out great ape gestures just by observing people,” she added. “So we thought, what if we flip it around and see whether people understand the gestures used by other great apes.”

To assess our human ability to understand ape gestures, the team compiled videos of common ape gestures such as the “Big Loud Scratch,” which means “groom me,” or the “Object Shake,” which is a concise way to say “let’s have sex.” The participants were able to correctly identify the meaning of the gestures more than 50 percent of the time, a result that is substantially above chance. 

“We kind of expected that people would be able to understand these gestures, but it’s striking just how good they are without any other information,” Graham said. “When the apes use these gestures, they have a lot of extra contextual knowledge (what’s their relationship? What have their recent interactions been like? What were they just doing?) that participants didn’t have access to in the experiment.” 

“And when we told participants a bit about what the apes were doing before, it did improve their understanding significantly but only by about 5 percent,” she noted. “So it seems like the gestures themselves are really meaningful to people.”

The outcome implies that humans still retain some basic understanding of the gestural system shared by our last common ancestor with chimpanzees and bonobos, some 6 to 7 million years ago. However, the “underlying mechanism that makes gestural communication comprehensible across great ape species, now including humans, remains unresolved,” according to the study. 

To that end, the team hopes to build on their findings with new experiments that further isolate the gestures from context, to explore just how universal some of these motions are among great apes. The answers to these questions will not only help us understand how our closest relatives communicate, it could shed light on the origins of our own complex language, which has set us apart from every other species on Earth.

“Between knowing that human infants use these gestures and now knowing that human adults understand these gestures, we can have more confidence that this kind of gestural communication would have been in use by our human ancestors, and may have scaffolded the evolution of human gesture and language,” Graham concluded.

Categories: Tech News

World of Warcraft Classic lead dev resigns to protest 'stack ranking'

The Register - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 10:44
Brian Birmingham claims he walked after refusing to give team member a 'low' rating

Former Blizzard World of Warcraft co-lead dev Brian Birmingham took to Twitter this morning to confirm that when given a choice between stack ranking his employees – obeying a mandate to give a poor "developing" rank to an employee – or leaving the company, he decided to walk.…

Categories: Tech News

Appliance makers sad that 50% of customers won’t connect smart appliances

ARS Technica - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 10:20
Illustration of a smartphone controlling a dishwasher

Enlarge / This hypothetical dishwasher owner is one of a minority of smart appliance customers getting the full value of their device, including timely reminders to buy more of the company's recommended dishwasher tabs and cleaning packs. (credit: Dani Serrano/Getty Images)

Appliance makers like Whirlpool and LG just can't understand. They added Wi-Fi antennae to their latest dishwashers, ovens, and refrigerators and built apps for them—and yet only 50 percent or fewer of their owners have connected them. What gives?

The issue, according to manufacturers quoted in a Wall Street Journal report (subscription usually required), is that customers just don't know all the things a manufacturer can do if users connect the device that spins their clothes or keeps their food cold—things like "providing manufacturers with data and insights about how customers are using their products" and allowing companies to "send over-the-air updates" and "sell relevant replacement parts or subscription services."

“The challenge is that a consumer doesn’t see the true value that manufacturers see in terms of how that data can help them in the long run. So they don’t really care for spending time to just connect it,” Henry Kim, US director of LG's smart device division ThinQ, told the Journal.

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Categories: Tech News

US Cyber Command, DARPA ink cyberwar R&D pact

The Register - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:59
Out of the valley of death and into operational use, ideally

Interview  An agreement between US Cyber Command and DAPRA aims to move innovative technologies out of the "valley of death" and into the hands of warfighters.…

Categories: Tech News

Chris Pine battles undead army in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves trailer

ARS Technica - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:54

Chris Pine and his merry band of misfits battle a supernatural evil in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

With a cinematic release just two months away, Paramount Pictures has released a fresh action-packed and goofy-but-fun trailer for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. The trailer has already racked up more than 8 million views on YouTube, which bodes well for the movie's box office reception.

As we've reported previously, Honor Among Thieves is set in the hugely popular Forgotten Realms campaign setting. The film's official premise is short and sweet: "A charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people."

Said charming thief is Elgin, a bard, who is played by Chris Pine. To defeat the evil that's been unleashed in the world, he'll need the strength of Holga, a barbarian (Michelle Rodriguez); courage from Xenk (Regé-Jean Page), a paladin; and magic thanks to Simon the Sorcerer (Justice Smith). Then there's Doric (Sophie Lillis), a tiefling druid who can transform into a ferocious owlbear, which comes in handy during a fight. Pine envisions himself as the "planner" of the group and the player of the lute. The cast also stars Hugh Grant as Forge Fitzwilliam the Rogue, Daisy Head as the Red Wizard of Thay, and Jason Wong as Dralas. Cast members from the D&D web series Critical Role (which spawned the animated series The Legend of Vox Machina) will also make cameo appearances.

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Categories: Tech News

Why is GTP suddenly the hottest thing in racing?

ARS Technica - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:39
A pair of prototype race cars run side by side on the banking at Daytona

Enlarge / The #6 Porsche Penske 963 and the #10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 run on Daytona's banking during the 2023 Roar Before the 24. With so many miles of testing completed, the Porsches are probably the favorites, but 24 hours is a long time in racing, and a lot can happen. (credit: Jake Galstad/LAT Images)

BMW provided flights from DC to San Francisco and back, plus five nights in a hotel, so we could attend Monterey Car Week. While I was there, I spoke with people from Acura and Lamborghini. Ars does not accept paid editorial content.

This past weekend saw the successful conclusion of the International Motor Sports Association's "Roar Before the 24," the series' preseason test ahead of this coming weekend's Rolex 24, a 24-hour race held each January at Daytona International Speedway in Florida. This year, the preseason test was more important than most, as there's a new kind of race car, called the GTP, competing in the Rolex 24 in 2023.

The new hybrid prototype category has attracted more manufacturer interest than we've seen in many years, with brands like Acura and Porsche building new cars to compete and others, like Lamborghini, waiting in the wings to join next year. But the biggest question is whether these new race cars will be able to make it to the end of the race. As in the larger automotive industry, supply shortages mean that spare parts are scarce, so the consequences of a crash are calamitous.

But what makes GTP—originally called LMDh—so attractive to car makers? I asked David Salters, head of Honda Performance Development, which oversees the Japanese OEM's racing activities in North America.

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Categories: Tech News

Weed Makes People Cum Harder, Study Says

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:39

Legendary astronomer and cannabis enjoyer Carl Sagan once waxed poetic about how weed “enhances the enjoyment of sex—on the one hand it gives an exquisite sensitivity, but on the other hand it postpones orgasm: in part by distracting me with the profusion of image passing before my eyes.” A new study from researchers at East Carolina University and North Carolina State University, published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, found that Sagan was onto something.

For years, scientists have been trying to figure out how getting high changes how people perform in bed. A survey in 1984 found that two thirds of participants reported better sex when weed was involved; more recent studies have examined how getting high before sex makes the experience better for some people, and worse for others. Other studies have found that cannabis use increases libido and raises the odds for a better orgasm. But there’s not a lot of research into weed as an aphrodisiac—partially because getting such science funded while cannabis remained a federally illegal drug was difficult.

This new study surveyed 811 participants, ranging in age from 18 to 85 years old, about their sex and cannabis habits. Sixty-four percent identified as women, and 73 percent of all participants reported being in a monogamous relationship. Over half said they used cannabis daily, and 59 percent were already intentionally getting high before sex, to make it better. Most smoked flower, but a few were into edibles, oil, or topical applications.

More than 70 percent of the people in this study reported increased desire and orgasm intensity, and most who said they use cannabis before they masturbate reported that it enhanced their pleasure during solo sex. There wasn’t much difference between men and women in orgasm intensity, but the survey data showed that weed helped more than 40 percent of women reach multiple orgasms.

Interestingly, while most participants stated that cannabis enhanced their sense of taste and touch, not many reported hearing or smell as getting a boost while high.

“Overall, cannabis use tends to have a positive influence on perceived sexual functioning and satisfaction for individuals despite gender or age and cannabis might help to decrease gender disparities in sexual pleasure,” the researchers wrote.

The survey has its limitations: As the authors note, the majority of participants were white, college-educated women, and most of them were experienced cannabis users. A quarter of respondents identified themselves as LGBTQIA+, but the language of the study and results use a male/female binary. The survey results were based on people’s self-reported feelings about their sex lives and their preferred method of getting high, and not in a lab setting where the strain, dose, or physical effects could be measured. They also don’t compare these participants’ sex lives with those of people who don’t partake.

The authors also note that although people who reported intentionally using cannabis before sex reported more satisfaction than those who didn’t, this could also be a self-fulfilling prophecy: believing that weed makes you better in bed could just give you the relaxation or confidence to make it happen. “These results may be because of the mental mindset that using cannabis will increase pleasure due to the aphrodisiac notions of cannabis rather than a true physiological effect,” they wrote. “However, the relaxation effects of cannabis may contribute to increased desire or reduced inhibitions that might contribute to increased sexual functioning and satisfaction.”

Categories: Tech News

German market watchdog investigates PayPal over cartel claims

The Register - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:38
Bundeskartellamt already had a bite at FAANG firms, now former Musk co is starting to look appetizing

German antitrust enforcers known for leveling charges against high-profile tech companies have a new target for accusations of dominant market position abuse: PayPal.…

Categories: Tech News

Amazon Will Now Be Your Pharmacist, If You Subscribe to Prime

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:35

In its latest bid to enter the healthcare industry, Amazon announced a new Prime service on Tuesday that ships “unlimited” generic prescription medication to customers’ doors for $5 a month.

“Amazon today announced RxPass, a new Prime membership benefit from Amazon Pharmacy that offers patients affordable access to commonly prescribed generic medications that treat more than 80 common health conditions,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday. “With RxPass, Prime members can receive all of their eligible medications for one flat, low monthly fee of $5, and have them delivered free of charge.”

RxPass is exclusively available to Prime members, which already costs on average $14.99 a month. Regardless of whether a patient needs medication every month, they will have to pay the fee to continue their access to the program. “So another monthly charge? Even when we don’t get meds every month?” wrote one Twitter user. “HARD PASS.”

“Why isn’t this included with Prime?” another asked in response to a Tweet by Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. “My current mail pharmacy delivers for free.”

This is Amazon’s latest venture into healthcare. The company announced last July that it had acquired One Medical, a technology-focused primary care provider with less than 200 offices in the country, for $3.9 billion.

“The opportunity to transform health care and improve outcomes by combining One Medical’s human-centered and technology-powered model and exceptional team with Amazon’s customer obsession, history of invention, and willingness to invest in the long-term is so exciting,” said Amir Dan Rubin, One Medical CEO, at the time.

Amazon Pharmacy launched in 2020, offering a range of common medications to Prime subscribers using its one- or two-day delivery. With RxPass, Amazon says subscribers with insurance and prescriptions can get their monthly medications for a flat fee. If you don't have insurance, Amazon says it still offers discounts on generic and brand-name medications of 80 percent and 40 percent, respectively. Those on Medicare or Medicaid are not eligible for RxPass, and neither are users in states with specific requirements on prescription drug deliveries like California, Texas, and Washington. The service is available in most other states, however.

“Any customer who pays more than $10 a month for their eligible medications will see their prescription costs drop by 50% or more, plus they save time by skipping a trip to the pharmacy,” said John Love, vice president of Amazon Pharmacy.

You can search for medications on Amazon’s website either by medication or by condition. The site offers over 50 generic prescription drugs, including sertraline, the antidepressant more commonly known by the brand name Zoloft, and sildenafil, or generic Viagra.

As of now, it's entirely possible that a section of Americans will not only buy books and electronics on Amazon, but do their grocery shopping at an Amazon-owned business, go to an Amazon-owned doctor, and get their prescriptions from Amazon.

Categories: Tech News

George Santos Isn’t Making Many Friends in Congress

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:28

Three weeks into his first term in Congress, New York Rep. George Santos is finding it very hard to make friends.

Following accusations that he lied about much of his resumé and facing long list  of legal issues, Santos has now been slammed by his fellow Republicans in Congress as a “bad guy” and an “imposter,” and in one case, he’s been compared to a character from Fatal Attraction. But given that Santos is essential to House Republicans’ thin majority, few outside of his home state are calling on him to resign for now.

On Monday, Sen. John Neely Kennedy of Louisiana told CNN reporters that the 34-year-old congressman—who has also been known as Anthony Devolder, Anthony Zabrovsky, and by a bunch of other aliases—was “nutty as a fruitcake” and compared him to Glenn Close’s doomed character in the 1987 film.

“That’s why I called him a bunny boiler,” Kennedy said. “I don’t know if you’ve seen Fatal Attraction but there are people like that out there.”

Rep. James Comer, the new chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said Santos’ lies were “pretty despicable” in an interview with CNN last week, though he didn’t call for the freshman to resign.

“Look, he’s a bad guy. This is something that, you know, it’s really bad,” Comer told CNN. Referencing the fact that Santos is currently the subject of a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint, Comer said: “It’s not up to me or any member of Congress to determine whether he can be kicked out for lying. Now, if he broke campaign finance laws, then he will be removed.” 

Rep. Michael McCaul, the chair of the influential House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in an interview with CNN last week that Santos would likely face an inquiry from the House Ethics Committee. He also questioned how Santos—who won a formerly Democratic-held seat based on Long Island—managed to win in the first place.

“I don’t know how he got through the process, being such an imposter,” McCaul said. “I don’t know why his opponent didn’t bring this out in the election.”

So far, the list of allegations against Santos includes: stealing money from a dying dog’s GoFundMe (which he has denied); lying about where he went to college and the companies he’s worked for (which he has admitted); and lying about his mother’s death during 9/11 (she died in 2016 and documents indicate she wasn’t in New York at the time), his grandparents’ story of Holocaust survival (they were born in Brazil), and his Jewish ancestry (he later said that he is “Jew-ish.”)

After photos and video surfaced of Santos in drag in Brazil, he said claims he’d performed in drag were “categorically false.” But on Monday, while Santos continued to deny he was drag queen Kitara Ravache, he told a reporter from ABC 7 that he was “young and had fun at a festival.”

“Sue me for having a life,” Santos told ABC 7. 

A big reason for Santos’ successful run for Congress and his ability to remain in office so far, however, lies in his tacit support from the Republican leadership. Speaker Kevin McCarthy admitted last week that he “always had a few questions” about Santos’ resumé—after Santos voted for him to be Speaker 15 times over the course of several days. McCarthy also headlined a fundraiser for Santos weeks before the election, according to CNN

And New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the House GOP conference chair and the fourth-ranking GOP Republican in the House, is drawing heat from top Republican donors who say she vouched for Santos, CNN reported Tuesday.

“I would have never donated without Elise,” Ken Salamone, who contributed more than $25,000 to efforts to elect Santos, told CNN Tuesday. “I assumed she did her homework. I always do my homework and didn’t. Shame on me.”

A Stefanik aide also reportedly advised Santos’ campaign, CNN reported. Stefanik’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from VICE News, but denied that an aide advised Santos, and downplayed Stefanik’s role in getting Santos elected. 

“Congresswoman Stefanik supported all GOP nominees in targeted New York seats just like every other New York Republican elected official, candidate, NRCC, NYGOP, and the entire House Republican leadership team,” Stefanik’s office told CNN, adding that the five-term Congresswoman wasn’t “aware of the allegations (against Santos) prior to the New York Times reporting.”

If Santos were to leave office, a special election would be held to replace him—which would give Democrats a prime opportunity to cut even further into McCarthy’s razor-thin majority. President Joe Biden easily won New York’s Third Congressional District in 2020, and the previous congressman was Democrat Tom Suozzi, who defeated Santos by double-digits in 2020

Stefanik’s backing aside, Santos is clearly the most unwelcome member of New York’s congressional delegation. Six House Republicans from New York have called on him to resign, as has the chair of the Republican Party in Nassau County, where the overwhelming majority of Santos’ constituents live. 

“He deceived the voters of the Third Congressional District, he deceived members of the Nassau County Republican committee, elected officials, his colleagues, candidates, his opponents and even some of the media,” Nassau County GOP chair Joseph Cairo said earlier this month.

“He’s disgraced the House of Representatives and we do not consider him one of our congresspeople.”

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Kidnapped Teen Found Alive Inside Plastic Bag at Garbage Dump

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:20

Three days after she’d been kidnapped, 16-year-old María Ángela Olguín was found naked inside a black plastic bag in a landfill in the outskirts of Mexico City. And in further horror, Olguín told officers she was locked in an unknown place with a number of other girls. 

Olguín was allegedly grabbed on Jan. 19 as she waited for her mother outside the restrooms of a subway station in Mexico City. Her older sister, Elizabeth, told local media that an unknown man had taken her by force to a commercial stand before disappearing in the middle of the crowd, according to footage from the subway security cameras. 

“From the (security) videos it is very clear that my sister didn’t leave (on) her own… She was taken by a man that grabbed her from her arm. The cameras didn’t get what happened next,” Olguín’s sister told local media

Authorities have not yet identified anyone as the suspect, and footage of him is blurry and provides few details.

Another video allegedly of Olguín’s captor was made public on Monday night. The security camera footage from outside the subway station shows a girl–believed to be Olguín– standing outside of the bathrooms when a man approaches her and appears to force her to walk before disappearing behind a white minivan. 

Rocío Bustamante, Olguín’s mother, along with dozens of women in Mexico City, searched for Olguín and went out to the streets to ask the government for help to find her. 

Three days after she was abducted, Olguín was found alive by neighbors on Jan. 22 in the outskirts of Mexico State inside a black plastic bag. She was naked and had her hands and feet tied, and was “very disoriented,”according to local authorities. 

“I heard someone crying in a landfill next to a parking lot,” the woman who found her told local news

Olguín was confused about where she was and could only say she had “been kidnapped,” the woman said. 

After authorities arrived and helped Olguín get medical attention, they asked her about the place she was being held but due to her disorientation, she couldn’t say.

“The girl said that at the place where she was being held were many other girls and women, many underage, but she couldn’t say more,” the chief of police in Nezahualcóyotl, where Olguín was found, told El Universal in an interview

It is still unclear why Olguín was abducted and then released, and authorities have not yet made any apprehensions on the case. Olguín is stable and still under medical observation, according to her family. 

In Mexico, seven women go missing every day and more than 70 percent of them are concentrated in Mexico State, Morelos, Jalisco, and Nuevo León, according to Mexico’s National Missing Persons Commission. 

In November 2022, 27-year-old Fernanda López’ body was found lying on the side of a road near Mexico City. She was identified by family members as Ariadna Fernanda López, who had been at a bar in Mexico City partying with her friends the night before. 

In a similar situation, Nuevo León state authorities first called Debanhi Escobar’s death an accident, saying she fell into the water tank at a sketchy motel. But after pressure from her family and activists, a later autopsy made by an independent forensic laboratory revealed she died from suffocation at a different place than where her body was found. 

Categories: Tech News

There are plenty of reasons why government tech is stuck in the Stone Age

The Register - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:20
We unpack a few and look at which nations have it together with IDC research boss

Interview  It's Government Tech Week on The Register and to get a handle on the challenges facing the public sector we sat down with Massimiliano "Max" Claps, research director of the European IDC Government Insights team.…

Categories: Tech News

Why There’s A Colour Film Shortage Right Now

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 08:44

There was only a single box of colour camera film displayed on a rack outside Fotografia and Techni, a small photography supply shop on the Greek island of Aegina. On the window behind it, the store advertised in English that it sells film.

But the box was empty. Its inner goods – three rolls of 35mm colour film, now a scarce resource – were being kept securely behind the counter, under the watchful eyes of the shopkeeper, who shrugged at his pitiful supply.

“Where is Fuji?” he said.

Not long ago, the phrase “film is dead” echoed through dark rooms, photography shops, and studios. Within a few months of 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy, and Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion. But as nostalgia crept in a decade later, that grainy film aesthetic became all the more alluring. Today, analogue cameras are now as staple an accessory as a sling bag. The hard part is getting your hands on film. 

Owing to renewed demand and supply chain delays, photography equipment suppliers around the world have been struggling to source rolls of 35mm colour film, the most commonly used format for analogue photographers, amateur and professional alike. It’s so bad, said Olga Tsirakidou, who works in the popular photography supply store Geramas Foto in Athens, that photographers are buying disposable cameras to extract the film inside. She’s been told it’s the first time in 40 years that the shop has been short on colour stock. “When film arrives, it’s like there's treasures coming in,” she said.

Staff at the U.K. shop Analogue Wonderland said that over the past 18 months, they’ve received only one or two types of colour film at a time from Kodak, compared to the usual supply of eight, and it’s unpredictable as to what comes in. Many stores are forced to limit purchases to just one or two rolls per person to combat resellers. A single roll of Kodak Colourplus 200, a bestseller for new starters that cost £3.50 in 2018, now goes for twice that in shops, and is being resold for as much as £15.

“The fact is, if Eastman Kodak stopped manufacturing colour film, there would essentially be no colour film.” —Michael Raso

Kodak, which owned half of the world’s market share in the 90s, hiked its film prices in 2020 and 2021, and plans to raise prices by a further 20% in March. The company said that the initial hike went, in part, to investments in production capacity. They also said they’ve hired 350 people since 2021 to help boost production, claiming to have doubled production of 35mm still film in the last few years, but even that’s not meeting demand.

“I don't think that [Kodak] anticipated the keen interest in film photography.” said Michael Raso, host of the Film Photography Project podcast and founder of an online shop of the same name. “But the fact is, if Eastman Kodak stopped manufacturing it, there would essentially be no colour film.”

The film industry has also been rocked by pandemic-induced supply chain delays, compounding the strain on Kodak’s production capacity. Notably, a shortage in the steel used to make the end caps for film canisters slowed production.

Fujifilm also blamed difficulties in procuring resources when it announced it would immediately end the production and sale of colour favourite Fujifilm pro 400H in 2021. The company started discontinuing some of its colour stock as early as 2017, but low availability of remaining stock in recent years has stoked fears that they’ve made an Irish exit from traditional film manufacturing. Sellers say communication from the company is unclear, and they’re not sure which films have been discontinued – for example, Fujifilm Pro 400H still shows as available on Fujifilm’s UK site. The most recent communication from November 2022 announces that the company is low in supply of some 35mm colour stock, but sellers say it hasn’t been available in over a year.

For some photographers, no film simply means no film. Lebanese photographer Jana Khoury usually shoots in black and white, which has remained easier to obtain worldwide than colour. But Lebanon’s economic collapse, paired with the rising price of film, has made any film hard to come by in the country. “There's just two or three places where you can find film,” said Khoury. “I gave up. I decided to stick with digital because it's really difficult to do film.”

Shaking analogue’s unmistakable look isn’t easy, though. Scott Mutasa, a photographer in Zimbabwe, said he’s started to retouch his digital images to emulate film after being unable to find new rolls.

While photographers are struggling to get their hands on classic 35mm colour film, some smaller manufacturers are trying to meet demand by releasing new colour stock of their own. In the past year, indie brands Adox, dubblefilm, and CineStill, as well as small-scale German manufacturer Orwo, have all released new 35mm colour film.

Some are even seeing demand surge. When FlicFilm, a company based in Albert, Canada, started making film two years ago by converting Kodak’s motion picture stock into camera film, it produced about 250 rolls a day. “We’re going to have to ramp up [in 2023] because our anticipated demand is well beyond our current 1,200 [rolls a day],” said founder Dave Marshall said in December. The company has even stepped in to help manufacturers that have been impeded by the steel shortage finish their film, taking their raw film base and converting it into 35mm film cassettes using their locally sourced plastic canisters. 

But for photographers who want consistency in their work, the shortage of the classic 35mm filmstock is still a problem.

“I'm a stubborn guy,” said London-based photographer João Barreiros, who shoots exclusively on Kodak Portra 400. “What I like about Portra 400 is that it is exactly how I see the world,” he said.

“What I like about Portra 400 is that it is exactly how I see the world.” —João Barreiros

Barreiros took up photography during the pandemic and now shoots documentary and fashion campaigns for the likes of Vans, ASOS, and National Geographic. He said he has no interest in trying out different films, even after he completely ran out of Portra about six months ago. “I didn’t let it happen more than once,” he said. “This is my job. People come to me for a certain style, so I won't let them down.”

Fortunately, Barreiros has found that as an established photographer with a regular supplier, he gets priority access to stock, which he says is the same for many professionals. “It’s like hunting or Formula 1: analogue photography is a sport for the few selected ones,” he said. Although, he’s not convinced even he is among the selected. With the price of film becoming more inhibiting, Barreiros feels unsure about his future in film, and he’s started experimenting with digital work.

While high prices are making it tougher to survive in the future of analogue, the shortage also speaks to its booming popularity and hope that the industry may rebound. “I think analogue will always have a place within professional photography,” said Barreiros. “It’s not something everyone can do and we fucking love the exclusive don't we?”

Categories: Tech News

British monarchy goes after Twitter alleging rent arrears for UK headquarters

The Register - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 08:32
One appears to not have been paid, Crown Estate claims to High Court

More landlords are piling on Elon Musk's Twitter alleging unpaid rent – including, funnily enough, the British monarchy.…

Categories: Tech News

Why Did the NYPD Film People Leaving a Drake Concert?

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 08:29

People leaving Drake’s sold-out concert at the Apollo Theater in New York City Saturday night were outraged to be met by an NYPD officer recording them. Footage of the surveillance taken at the historic Black venue soon went viral, with more than 25 million views as of Tuesday morning.

“Are police allowed to do this?” one Twitter user asked.

“Something tells me they don’t do that after Billy Joel shows at [Madison Square Garden],” said another.

The viral video shows a Community Affairs officer with the city’s 28th Precinct recording people on a smartphone as they leave the crowded Harlem theater. The video left New Yorkers concerned about what the footage was being used for, and why a concert featuring one of hip-hop’s biggest acts was where the NYPD wanted to record.

Now, as the police department tries to temper people’s concerns, New Yorkers, social media users, and anti-surveillance advocates are calling it yet another breach of trust between the police and minority communities.

In an email to VICE News, the NYPD’s public information office said the recording was for social media purposes. “The officer was taking video for an upcoming Twitter post that will highlight local community events,” an NYPD spokesperson said. “The video will not be utilized for any other reason.”

But critics say that even if the video is just for social media, putting concertgoers in the NYPD’s social media posts without their knowledge is reason enough for New Yorkers to be upset.

“Ultimately, there is not a single person at that concert who consented to being part of the NYPD’s PR strategy,” Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director for the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project told VICE News.

The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project is a nonprofit that litigates to defend the public’s right to privacy from mass surveillance, and advocates against the discriminatory use of surveillance technology. According to Cahn, the NYPD recording people highlights how much of a wild west police-related surveillance has become.

“We’ve all passed those giant signs saying ‘you’re entering a place where you’re being recorded.’ We’ve seen those for film shoots and fashion shoots,” he said. “I don’t understand why the NYPD thinks it wouldn’t have to put the public at notice if their story is true.”

“Even in the best case, this was problematic,” Cahn continued. “When it comes to the NYPD and surveillance, I’m certainly not about to take them at their word.”

There’s precedent for New Yorkers’ skepticism about the cops recording them. Last November, a New Jersey resident was denied entry to a Rockettes show at Radio City Music Hall because the facial recognition technology used by the company that owns the venue put her on a list of people to exclude from the site. In 2020, the NYPD used facial recognition tech to track Black Lives Matter protesters after the police murder of George Floyd.

In 2021, the department even misled the public about their cozy relationship with facial recognition tech company Clearwater AI, initially saying that they only “trialed” the tech, when in actuality they’d been in talks with the company and using their tools for two years.

The NYPD also has a history of targeting and investigating Black people and communities of color within hip-hop, going as far as establishing a specific unit for hip-hop related crimes.

As smartphones have become ubiquitous in the last decade, police departments around the country have been critical of the public’s own use of cellphones, regardless of their own policies on the matter. Several states including Oklahoma, Florida, and Nevada have passed laws limiting when and how a person can film the cops as they carry out their duties.

The NYPD has also been filming the public since well before the age of the cell phone. The department’s Technical Assistance Response Unit was known for attending protests in the city, with officers capturing what was happening on camcorders.

“I remember as a New Yorker growing up, protesting the NYPD and having the TARU unit there with camcorders videotaping everyone who was present at the protest,” Cahn said. “It wasn’t a way to actually solve crime, but was a great way to chill dissent. I don’t think New Yorkers should have to worry that typically going to a show is going to get them put into the NYPD archives or added to some watchlist.”

Today, much of the work of surveillance is done by an elaborate network of street cameras that dot street corners throughout the city. This dense network makes surveillance experts even more skeptical of the NYPD’s activity at the Drake concert.

“The fact that the city is covered in surveillance and yet they felt the need to approach people with a separate camera in their face in a way they couldn’t necessarily avoid adds an extra layer of suspicion,” Jerome Greco, a digital forensics public defender for the Legal Aid Society in New York, told VICE News.

“There’s definitely a lot of problems about how they choose where to put those security cameras around the city, but specifically going to a particular event headlined by an incredibly popular Black hip hop artist is more troubling than usual,” he continued.

Mayor Eric Adams downplayed concerns over the recording at the Apollo, telling reporters at a Monday press conference that comments on social media don’t reflect how real New Yorkers feel.

“Twitter is not real,” Adams said. “Those little people who go back and forth all the time talking to themselves, it’s not about what’s on social media, it’s about those on social security.” he said. “You have those who are sitting at home, in the corner of their rooms, trying to find a reason to divide NYPD from everyday New Yorkers. […] That’s not reality, let them keep complaining.”

Greco said the Mayor's efforts to quell concerns were half-baked.

“The mayor’s words are an attempt to paint anybody who has a problem with this as not being a ‘real New Yorker,’” Greco said. “That’s problematic because it's meant to discourage anybody from pointing out abuses by the police, abuses of surveillance, and being able to speak up about it as if their opinion doesn't matter as much as somebody who defends the police no matter what.”

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Categories: Tech News