NIST and uni friends to design open source research chips, Google to bankroll the fabs

The Register - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 19:39
At 130nm, we'll take it

NIST has decided, with participating colleges, to design open source chips to help lower the barrier for those hoping to get into the world of semiconductors.…

Categories: Tech News

Ransomware gang threatens 1m-plus medical record leak

The Register - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 17:57
Criminals continue to target some of the most vulnerable

Two recent ransomware attacks against healthcare systems indicate cybercriminals continue to put medical clinics and hospitals firmly in their crosshairs.…

Categories: Tech News

Twitter whistleblower Zatko disses bird site as dysfunctional data dump

The Register - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 17:11
Mudge tells senators his former bosses are 'terrified' of the French, US regulators are toothless

Twitter's former head of security Peiter "Mudge" Zatko on Tuesday told the US Senate Judiciary Committee that the social media company's lax data handling and inability to present problems to its board of directors threaten the privacy, security, and democracy for Americans.…

Categories: Tech News

Breach of software maker used to backdoor as many as 200,000 servers

ARS Technica - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 16:34
A cartoon man runs across a white field of ones and zeroes.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Fishpig, a UK-based maker of e-commerce software used by as many as 200,000 websites, is urging customers to reinstall or update all existing program extensions after discovering a security breach of its distribution server that allowed criminals to surreptitiously backdoor customer systems.

The unknown threat actors used their control of FishPig's systems to carry out a supply chain attack that infected customer systems with Rekoobe, a sophisticated backdoor discovered in June. Rekoobe masquerades as a benign SMTP server and can be activated by covert commands related to handling the startTLS command from an attacker over the Internet. Once activated, Rekoobe provides a reverse shell that allows the threat actor to remotely issue commands to the infected server.

"We are still investigating how the attacker accessed our systems and are not currently sure whether it was via a server exploit or an application exploit," Ben Tideswell, the lead developer at FishPig, wrote in an email. "As for the attack itself, we are quite used to seeing automated exploits of applications and perhaps that is how the attackers initially gained access to our system. Once inside though, they must have taken a manual approach to select where and how to place their exploit."

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US officially added to WHO’s list of poliovirus outbreak countries

ARS Technica - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 16:06
A Pakistani health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child during a vaccination campaign in Karachi on December 10, 2018. Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic.

Enlarge / A Pakistani health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child during a vaccination campaign in Karachi on December 10, 2018. Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic. (credit: Getty | RIZWAN TABASSUM )

The United States, one of the world's richest and most developed countries, has met the World Health organization's criteria to be listed as a country with circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday.

The US now joins the ranks of around 30 other polio outbreak countries, largely low- and middle-income, including Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia, and Yemen. Notably, the list includes just two other high-income countries—the United Kingdom and Israel—which have detected the circulation of a poliovirus strain genetically linked to the one spreading in the US.

Specifically, the US met the criteria for WHO's list by documenting a patient with vaccine-derived poliovirus and having at least one environmental sample of vaccine-derived poliovirus. In July, health officials in New York's Rockland County reported a case of paralytic polio in an unvaccinated resident who had not recently traveled. Since then, New York officials and the CDC surveilled the spread of the virus in wastewater, finding 57 positive samples from four New York counties and New York City. The dates of the positive samples span from April to a recent sampling in August.

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Microsoft fixes Windows security hole likely widely exploited by miscreants

The Register - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 15:50
Plus: Nasty RCE in TCP/IP stack, and many more updates

Patch Tuesday  September's Patch Tuesday is here and it brings, among other things, fixes from Microsoft for one security bug that miscreants have used to fully take over Windows systems along with information about a second vulnerability that, while not yet under attack, has already been publicly disclosed.…

Categories: Tech News

The Best Men's Hiking Boots (That Aren't Ugly)

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 14:52

There are a ton of reasons to love hiking: taking in beautiful natural scenery, getting off the couch to explore the outdoors, and—of course—lording your weekend mileage and elevation over your friends and family. However, an often-overlooked facet of the activity is all of the sweet, sweet gear you can adorn yourself with in the name of light-to-moderate exercise. We could talk your ear off about the different kinds of hiking poles, travel backpacks, and hydration gear, but today we’re here to help you source the most important piece of your hiking ensemble: the boots.  

It’s important that you know what you’re looking for before throwing down dough on what might only be an overpriced pair of knockoff Timbs. You need to pick the style of boot that’s best suited for the specific kind of hiking you plan on doing, whether that’s going to be traversing well-maintained trails or roughing it as you blaze one of your own. It’s also crucial that you get a comfortable boot, since you’re going to be spending a lot of time in them, and a sore sole or blister can take the fun out of your trip and stop you in your tracks. 

So, we wrangled some of the best hiking boots, hiking shoes, and backpacking boots on the market, so you can rent that Zipcar, hit the trails, and then guzzle some well-earned victory beers at the local brewery (the real reason people go hiking). 

The workhorse boot  

Already being the top star of our running shoe lineup, Hoka also has a truckload of hiking boots and shoes that we want in every color.  The Anacapa Mid and Low GTX are among the newest models and already have a 4.7-star review on Hoka’s website, thanks to their impressive performance even for serious hikers. They’re designed to help keep your stompers dry with an elite combo of Gore-Tex fabric and Nubuck leather. Be ready to reach the steepest peak with the Vibram megagrip outsole for epic traction. 

Yodel up those mountains  

Some boots make it feel like we’re hauling ankle weights, and we’re over those heavy clompers. This ain’t the gym, Chad. This is a relaxing, decompressing hike. We want tranquility, and with that we found these incredibly lightweight Cloudrock Waterproof Boots from the Swiss brand On Running. Built for traction and pace, they are perfectly engineered for a speed-hike if you're aiming for time. The Swiss know how to yodel and make great shoes. 

For the casual daytime trail traverser 

Hiking shoes, which aren’t exactly boots, are great for quick day hikes on clear trails. They’re usually more flexible than standard hiking boots, and are significantly lighter, which is definitely something you’ll want to think about if you plan on storing them in a bag or backpack for travel. The Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoe features Merrell’s classic gorpcore design as well as a Vibram sole for added traction, and the name literally means “Mother-Of-All-Boots.”

You’ll be the (hipster) king of the mountain

Salomon has been enjoying a fashion renaissance, with its rugged, utilitarian aesthetic that's suited for both streets and slopes. This pair of lightweight and supportive mid-rise boots, in addition to looking right at home with a Rick Owens 'fit, are “ideal for fast hiking over moderate to technical terrain in wet-weather conditions,” which would have been perfect and very, very good to have been wearing when I had to move my entire apartment during the deluge that Hurricane Ida unleashed on Brooklyn. 

Since when is Columbia sick?

Seriously—these hiking boots by the rain jacket and general outdoor gear specialists at Columbia have a Jordan-esque silhouette and some groovy muted slate tones that are scratching the itch inside our design brains. They’re also workhorses, and feature an Omni-Tech membrane that keeps water out and lets air in; a Techlite+ midsole that provides better cushioning and stability; and an Adapt Trax outsole, which optimizes lug placement for better footing.

I can go Lowa 

We know, dude. Just like a good pair of high-cut jorts, these hiking boots by Lowa come in a slew of different shades and provide abundant comfort and support. Plus, they’re lightweight and made with “waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX® liners that keep your feet dry when you're stepping in shallow streams and hiking hard”—perfect for long day treks and weekend backpacking.

You’re deadass gonna hike that mountain

While you certainly could, nobody is suggesting you wear your crisp, laser-cut dress Timbs on a hike. Instead, opt for this pair of Waterproof Ankle Boots by the classic outdoor footwear company. (After all, every respectable gentleman needs at least two pairs of Timbs.) These are 100-percent leather and feature a seam-sealed, waterproof design, a padded collar, and rustproof speed-lace hardware. Plus, if you decide you’re not into them, you could always fill them with dirt and start a garden. 

You want to move to Vermont

Don’t we all? Well, if you, too, are stuck in a tiny apartment, dreaming about mountains, good cheese, and some of the best beer in the world, this pair of hiking boots is a good way to pretend that you didn’t just sign a year-long lease in a New York apartment the size of your would-be mudroom in South Burlington. These boots scream “crunchy” in the best way, and feature a suede and leather waterproof exterior, a high-traction outsole, and a lightweight midsole for impact absorption. Plus, over 9,700 happy Amazon customers—who gave these boots crazy-good reviews—can’t be wrong.

Not the wind instrument…

… Though we certainly stan oboes. These boots are technically made for women, but since it’s 2021, we wear whatever boots our silly little hearts desire. The Oboz Sypes Mid Leathers feature waterproof nubuck leather uppers, 100% recycled PET laces, and TPU heel clips for additional support. They’re also made with BLOOM, a plant-based foam made with algae biomass “sourced from lakes and ponds at high risk of algal bloom.” 

Those boots were made for hiking—these boots were made for… other things.

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

Categories: Tech News

US throws millions at AI to diagnose diseases by the sound of your voice

The Register - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 14:41
Speech can be impacted by cancer, Parkinson's, depression, and more

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has earmarked as much as $14 million in funding to support the training of AI software that can analyze patients' voices to diagnose and study illness.…

Categories: Tech News

Device passively registers temperature, switches from heating to cooling

ARS Technica - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 14:39
The shape-changing material in the process of unrolling in response to a change in temperature.

Enlarge / The shape-changing material in the process of unrolling in response to a change in temperature. (credit: Zhang et. al.)

Recent heatwaves have struck areas like Northern Europe and the Pacific Northwest that have traditionally gotten by without much air conditioning. As people in those regions adjust to the new reality, we'll likely see a change in electricity use, with surges in demand typical of locales further to the south. The strain those changes place on the grid can add to the challenge of rapidly moving away from fossil fuels.

Materials that passively heat or cool an environment can cut down on the demand for energy by handling some of these needs without requiring the use of energy. Some of these materials reflect incoming sunlight to keep it from heating a space, while others actively radiate heat away into space, which is great if you're only worried about heat. But many of these areas experience seasons and have times where getting rid of stray heat will also boost energy use.

Now, a team of researchers at Nankai University has figured out a way to have it all: warming in cold air and cooling once things get hot—all without needing any energy input.

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Daily Horoscope: September 14, 2022

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 14:00

The moon in Taurus connects with sweet Venus in Virgo at 4:41 AM, inspiring a warm and affectionate atmosphere! Gifts could be exchanged, and a friendly, easygoing energy flows. Surprising feelings may surface as the moon meets Uranus in Taurus at 6:34 PM, and we might feel eager to try things in a new way. The moon squares off with strict Saturn in Aquarius at 8:30 PM, reminding us of our limitations, and finding us deeply reflecting on the changes we want to make in our lives.

All times ET.

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Aries glyph Aries: March 20, 2022 - April 19, 2022

The moon in Taurus makes a harmonious connection with Venus in Virgo, which could bring a sweet gift. The moon meets wildcard Uranus in Taurus, perhaps finding you approaching your finances in a new way. You could be setting boundaries with friends as the moon squares off with Saturn in Aquarius.

Taurus glyphs Taurus: April 19, 2022 - May 20, 2022

The moon is in your sign today, Taurus, and it connects with your ruling planet Venus, currently in Virgo, which could make for a particularly fun, romantic, or creatively inspired day! Your heart can feel especially open. The moon meets Uranus in Taurus, too, which might find you sitting with unexpected emotions.

Gemini glyph Gemini: May 20, 2022 - June 21, 2022

An easygoing, peaceful energy flows at home and in your personal life as the moon mingles with Venus in Virgo. You might be struck with sudden inspiration as the moon meets electric Uranus in Taurus. The moon squares off with Saturn in Aquarius, which can find you setting boundaries around communication or your availability.

Cancer glyph Cancer: June 21, 2022 - July 22, 2022

An easygoing energy flows in your social life and communications as the moon in Taurus connects with Venus in Virgo. Unexpected meetings may take place as the moon meets Uranus in Taurus.

Leo glyph Leo: July 22, 2022 - August 22, 2022

The moon in Taurus mingles with Venus in Virgo today, and there’s good news about money or an atmosphere of generosity! Surprising opportunities could pop up as the moon meets Uranus in Taurus. You and your partners may be discussing future plans and boundaries as the moon squares off with Saturn in Aquarius.

Virgo glyph Virgo: August 22, 2022 - September 22, 2022

The moon is in fellow earth sign Taurus today, and it connects with Venus, which is currently in your sign, inspiring a sweet, easygoing mood! Unexpected adventures and opportunities could come your way as the moon meets Uranus in Taurus.

Libra glyph Libra: September 22, 2022 - October 23, 2022

The moon in Taurus connects with your ruling planet Venus, currently in Virgo, which can find you resolving an issue, releasing the past, or generally feeling spiritually content. Boundaries and expectations may be explored with partners as the moon squares off with Saturn in Aquarius.

Scorpio glyph Scorpio: October 23, 2022 - November 22, 2022

The moon is in your opposite sign Taurus and it connects with sweet Venus in Virgo today, which can bode well for your social life and find you and your partners connecting on a deep level! Chance meetings and surprising discussions might take place as the moon meets wildcard Uranus in Taurus.

Sagittarius glyph Sagittarius: November 22, 2022 - December 21, 2022

The moon in Taurus can find you in a busy, productive mood, but surprises may pop up in your daily routine as the moon meets wildcard Uranus in Taurus. You could be setting boundaries around your time and resources as the moon squares off with Saturn in Aquarius.

Capricorn glyph Capricorn: December 21, 2021 - January 19, 2022

The moon is in fellow earth sign Virgo today, lighting up the romance and creativity sector of your chart, and the mood is especially affectionate as the moon mingles with sweet Venus in Virgo! The moon also squares off with your ruling planet Saturn in Aquarius, which can find you making important considerations about money.

Aquarius glyphs Aquarius: January 19, 2022 - February 18, 2022

Your focus can be on home and family today as the moon moves through Taurus, and you may be ready to shake things up in your personal life as the moon meets your ruling planet Uranus, also in Taurus.

Pisces glyph Pisces: February 18, 2022 - March 20, 2022

The moon in Taurus lights up the communication sector of your chart and connects with lovely Venus in Virgo today, which may bring sweet messages and meetings! A surprising idea could pop up as the moon meets wildcard Uranus in Taurus.

Categories: Tech News

Horny and Alone? Hot Octopuss’ Solo Vibrators Are 20% Off

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 13:14

Any sex toy can be a partner-friendly sex toy if you’re crafty enough [Shrek butt plug enters the chat], but we do love us a vibrator that goes hard and deep into what it takes to be a truly brain-melting, orgasmic solo sex toy. The folks at Fleshlight, with their legend-status penis strokers, know wassup. So do the designers of the Lioness rabbit vibrator, which is one of my favorite solo sex toys because it uses biofeedback to graph out your orgasms for you. Sex with partners is cool, but sex between you, yourself, and dildo (and maybe even a climactic pie chart) can help you pump the brakes, amongst other things, and learn a lot about your likes and dislikes in foreplay and sex. 

Screen Shot 2022-09-13 at 2.48.05 PM.pngPhoto: Courtesy of Hot Octopuss

In the spirit of loving yourself, the sexual wellness brand Hot Octopuss is offering 20% off its solo sex toys with the code SOLO20 from now until September 30. The first item on the docket? The Pulse Solo Masturbator, which lets you stroke your penis hands-free with a trusty wrist-strap remote and has been a big hit with horny customers of all ages. “I've had mine for over a year and I am SO satisfied that I bought one for a close friend and now he is hooked,” one fan writes, “I'm 72, but he is 30 and loves it!!!” 

If you’re looking to be more hands-on, the DiGit finger vibrator is also on sale and a pro at providing direct clitoral stimulation. Just strap your finger onto the vibe to enjoy its powerful, rumbly motor and five power settings. As one reviewer writes, “[It also] works well in the bath/shower and [is] easy to use when my hands are aching.” 

Over on Dildo Mountain, the Kurve vibrator reigns supreme; it’s one of Hot Octopuss’ best-selling sex toys, earning a 4.5-star average rating for its ability to target the G-spot for deeper orgasms with its kurved shape and bulbous tip.  

There’s even a veritable rocket ship vibrator on sale known as the Jett, which slides onto your penis to autonomously stroke the shaft thanks to the help of its two silver bullet vibrators. We cannot confirm that James Cameron owns this toy, but we also won’t deny it.  

Here’s to spending more one-on-one time with your favorite person: you. 

All of Hot Octopuss’ Sex Toys are available for purchase here

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

Categories: Tech News

Twitter shareholders approve the $44B merger Musk is trying to get out of

ARS Technica - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 13:03
Closeup shot of a Twitter logo seen displayed on a smartphone screen.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto )

Twitter shareholders voted to approve Elon Musk's purchase of the company, weeks ahead of a trial over Musk's attempt to exit the merger deal. Though a specific vote tally wasn't available today, multiple news reports said investors backed the Twitter board's recommendation to approve the $44 billion deal that Musk agreed to in April before changing his mind.

"A majority of Twitter shareholders voted in favor of accepting Musk's $54.20-a-share offer to acquire the social-networking company, according to a preliminary vote count read on Tuesday," Bloomberg wrote.

Today's shareholder vote was the last remaining approval Twitter needed for the Musk deal, but the bigger question is what will happen at the upcoming trial at Delaware Court of Chancery. Twitter sued Musk to force him to complete the deal, and a trial is scheduled to begin on October 17.

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Twitter datacenter melted down in Labor Day heat

The Register - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 12:24
Bitbarn suffered 'total shutdown' after 113F heatwave

Earlier this month extreme heat downed a Twitter datacenter in California over the Labor Day weekend, leaving the website and app working on bare-bones infrastructure.…

Categories: Tech News

Watch the Taliban Crash a Black Hawk Helicopter in Afghanistan

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 12:07

When America withdrew from Afghanistan it left behind billions of dollars worth of military equipment, including weapons and vehicles like the UH 60 Black Hawk helicopters. The Taliban seized most of this after U.S. soldiers fled, but it’s already lost one the Black Hawks. On Saturday, during a training exercise over Kabul, one of the helicopters crashed killing three Afghans and injuring five more according to Reuters.

"An American Black Hawk helicopter, which was flown … for training, crashed due to a technical problem inside the campus of the National Defence University," Enaytullah Khowrazmi, a spokesperson for Afghanistan's ministry of defense told Reuters.

We don’t know the exact number of Black Hawks and other military equipment seized by the Taliban after the withdrawal, but four of the helicopters were used in a military parade in August celebrating the one year anniversary of the Taliban taking power. 

Black Hawks, like much of the military equipment left behind, are complicated machines. Owning them is one thing, but keeping up with the maintenance and piloting them is another. Black Hawks are notoriously difficult pieces of equipment to maintain and the Afghan security forces relied on a network of contractors to keep up. Those contractors are largely gone now and the Taliban is left to figure it out for itself.

“However they’re getting them into the air, I can guarantee you it’s not safe,” Navy Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Jack McCain—a man who spent a year in Kandahar and Helmand training Afghan helicopter pilots—told Task & Purpose.  “There are very few circumstances in which a helicopter becomes entirely uncontrollable, and I highly doubt that was what was happening. The pilot was unable to recover with any level of skill; so, whoever was at the controls was obviously not one of the more senior pilots and did not know what they were doing enough to keep them from auguring into the ground.”

Categories: Tech News

Who said sedans were dead? The 2023 Genesis G80 Electrified, tested

ARS Technica - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 11:44
A white Genesis G80 Electrified seen from ahead, next to a small black cabin

Enlarge / The Genesis G80 is a fine midsized luxury sedan, and now there's a fully battery electric variant. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Recently Ars tested the new Genesis GV60, a sharp little electric crossover. Although that car was Genesis' first EV to use the brand-new E-GMP platform, it's technically the brand's second EV. That's because there's also a fully battery-electric version of the Genesis G80 sedan. Called the G80 Electrified, it was first shown in Shanghai last year but has now arrived on these shores.

The company introduced the internal combustion engine-powered G80 in 2020, and it's a competent take on the midsize luxury sedan. But the platform (known internally as M3) was designed to support both combustion and electric powertrains—few automakers today can afford the expense of engineering an entirely new ICE-only architecture given impending regulations around the world.

As you might expect, the G80 Electrified shares a lot of the same EV technology as the GV60, which impressed us. It's a bigger, more expensive car—$79,825 plus destination fees—but manages to be even more efficient and luxurious in the process.

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Patch your Mitel VoIP systems, Lorenz ransomware gang is back on the prowl

The Register - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 11:38
Criminals do love that unpatched VoIP and IoT kit

The Lorenz ransomware gang is exploiting a vulnerability in Mitel VoIP appliances to break corporate networks.…

Categories: Tech News

Good Luck Playing Sim Nimby, the Game Where You Can’t Build Anything

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 11:37

The power fantasy that made Sim City such a popular game is that it allows anyone to plan and build cities pretty much however they want. There are some constraints, like resources and funds, but the game doesn’t realistically present the problems cities face in real life when they want to build and improve: NIMBYism. 

Sim Nimby, a new web browser game, has many resemblances to interacting with an actual NIMBY, or Not In My Backyard anti-development activists. It is not so much a game as an exercise in futility, in which no matter what you do it will be met with the same nonsensical responses. There is no winning and losing, only prolonging.

The creators of the game, Owen Weeks and Steve Nass, both 33-year-old advertising copywriters in Brooklyn, didn’t intend for the experience of playing Sim Nimby to be so similar to the experience of talking to them. As Nass explained to Motherboard, the urge to create the game was more out of restless creativity than activism.

“We were like, ‘what can we make? Oh, Sim City, that was fun.’ And since we’re both anti-NIMBY already, that was pretty quick,” Nass said. 

The game itself is a static image of a 90s-style, Sim City-like management sim. If you click on anything, an alert message pops up. “ERROR. CAN’T BUILD IN NIMBYVILLE” followed by a quote from, presumably, a local NIMBY. Weeks and Nass came up with 54 different anti-development slogans. Some are exaggerated NIMBY talking points for effect and humor—”The only thing urban I want to see in my neighborhood is Keith Urban”; “Apartment buildings cause crime. Where do you think the people who killed Batman’s parents lived?”—while others—”This is a NICE neighborhood”; “Public transport would transport the public here”— could well be said at a community meeting anywhere in the U.S. any day of the week. Nass’s personal favorites are “Housing? Surely there must be other ways to deal with the unhoused,” “Sorry, but I’ve devoted my life to the most pressing issue of our time: anti-bike activism” and “Keep our local fiefdom weird.”

Nass described his politics as more anti-NIMBY than pro-anything else, because it was the hypocrisy of the NIMBY attitude that got him into housing politics to begin with. He lived in San Francisco before moving to Brooklyn, and there he would often be stuck in conversations with people who, with one breath would bemoan the homelessness problem and its impact on their personal levels of comfort in the city and, with the very next breath, lament new housing developments as destroying the city’s character. This was a frustrating experience for Nass, who didn’t understand how people could be so blind to their own hypocrisy. He described this experience, repeated over and over, as “galvanizing, even radicalizing.” His exposure to NIMBYs in Brooklyn has mostly been limited to the NextDoor emails he can’t figure out how to unsubscribe from.

“We could have made it more functional,” Nass said of Sim Nimby, making it more like an actual game than an “interactive picture” as he put it. “But the whole point is you can’t build anything.”

Categories: Tech News

Google spinoff Aalyria salvages Project Loon technology for the US military

ARS Technica - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 11:31
Aalyria's vision of a connected Earth, though SpaceX's Starlink network basically already looks like this.

Enlarge / Aalyria's vision of a connected Earth, though SpaceX's Starlink network basically already looks like this. (credit: Aalyria)

A pair of reports from CNBC and Bloomberg are detailing a new Google connectivity spinoff called "Aalyria." The new company sounds like it's taking the canceled Project Loon technology, packaging it up under a new brand name, and spinning it out from Alphabet as an independent company, where it will hopefully survive in the wilderness. The company is apparently going public today, complete with a spiffy new website.

Project Loon was a Google/Alphabet company for eight years and wanted to provide Internet for low-connectivity areas with flying cell towers suspended overhead by weather balloons. It's sort of the same idea as a low Earth orbit satellite, but rather than a satellite in space, these balloons were only 20 km in the air. Besides needing to constantly navigate the varying atmospheric airways, Loon balloons have to be continually recovered and relaunched to maintain a steady stream of overhead balloons. Besides being a reference to the big weather balloons, the name "Loon" was chosen as a nod to how infeasible the idea sounds. Eventually that infeasibility proved to mostly just be a money problem, and Google shut down Loon in 2021, saying it wasn't a "long-term, sustainable business."

The CNBC report paints the spinoff as yet another consequence of Google CEO Sundar Pichai's plan to cut costs at Google. Pichai said in August that "productivity as a whole is not where it needs to be" and that the company would be "consolidating where investments overlap and streamlining processes." CNBC says that the push for cost-cutting means Google is looking to "advance or wind down experimental projects." Some Alphabet companies, like Waymo, have taken external funding to stay afloat.

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Hacker Used Internal U-Haul Tool to Lookup Customer Information

Motherboard (Vice) - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 10:55

A hacker broke into systems belonging to logistics company U-Haul and accessed an internal tool used for searching customer contracts, according to an announcement from U-Haul published on the company’s website.

In the announcement, U-Haul says it first detected the compromise of two unique passwords on July 12. From there, the company engaged cybersecurity experts who found that an unauthorized person accessed the customer contract search tool and did look up some customer contracts. The information exposed includes names, dates of birth, and driver’s license numbers, the announcement adds.

“Upon discovery, we changed the passwords and implemented additional safeguards and controls for accessing the search tool,” the website reads.

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U-Haul is a popular company that lets customers rent a trailer, truck, or storage unit for their own use. Recently a couple went viral for using a U-Haul truck as a date spot.

The announcement added that “None of our financial, payment processing or U-Haul email systems were involved; the access was limited to the customer contract search tool.”

U-Haul said that the contracts were accessed between November 5, 2021, and April 5, 2022. The announcement added that in September 7 the company identified the individuals whose information was involved, and that it is notifying those impacted customers.

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Categories: Tech News

What If? 2 is here with even more serious answers to your weird questions

ARS Technica - Tue, 09/13/2022 - 10:45
From swing-set physics to riding a fire pole from the Earth to the Moon, Randall Munroe has got you covered.

Enlarge / From swing-set physics to riding a fire pole from the Earth to the Moon, Randall Munroe has got you covered. (credit: Randall Munroe / Ars Technica)

Forget debating the airspeed velocity of an unladen African versus a European swallow. How many pigeons would it take to lift a person seated in a launch chair to the top of the Q1 skyscraper in Australia? Answer: You could probably manage this with a few tens of thousands of pigeons, as long as they don't get spooked by a passing falcon or distracted by someone with a bag of seeds. That's just one of many fascinating (and amusing) tidbits to be gleaned from What If? 2, the latest book from cartoonist and author Randall Munroe and the sequel to 2014's bestselling What If?

Regular Ars readers likely need no introduction to Munroe, or his hugely successful and influential webcomic xkcd. But we'll give you a brief rundown anyway. Munroe has a degree in physics and worked for NASA's Langley Research Center as a contract programmer and roboticist. As a student, he often drew charts and maps and "stick figure battles" in notebook margins and decided to scan them and post them to his personal website in 2005. The webcomic got its own website in 2006, when Munroe left NASA to write xkcd full time.

It didn't take long for xkcd, with its distinctive stick figures, to become a daily staple for scientists, engineers, and online nerds in general. There's nothing quite like them. Longtime fans know all about the tooltip with the hidden secondary punchline for each cartoon and Munroe's obsession with possible velociraptor attacks. They spent hours with 2012's "Click and Drag" and eagerly followed the four-month-long journey of time-lapsed frames that comprised the experimental "Time," which won the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story.

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