Computers & Linux News

Unity Laying Off Hundreds of Staffers

SlashDot - 22 min 53 sec ago
Unity, the company behind the popular game development engine of the same name, has recently laid off hundreds of staffers, multiple sources tell Kotaku. From the report: Founded in the mid-2000s, Unity is used by thousands of developers; you've almost certainly seen its logo pop up in the loading screens for some of your favorite -- or least-favorite -- games. In 2014, former EA head John Riccitiello took over as CEO. (In 2020, Riccitiello reportedly saw his compensation jump by 160 percent to $22 million.) The firm employed 3,300 people as of June 2020, according to its IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commision, though the company's LinkedIn and Glassdoor pages peg that figure as north of 5,000. Layoffs have afflicted Unity's offices across the globe. Sources tell Kotaku that pretty much every corner of the company has taken some sort of hit, though there's a concentration in the AI and engineering departments. On Blind, the anonymous messaging board commonly used by employees in the tech industry, Unity staffers say that roughly 300 or 400 people have been let go, and that layoffs are still ongoing. Kotaku's sources have said the same.

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Meta Sparks Anger By Charging For VR Apps

SlashDot - 42 min 53 sec ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Financial Times: Meta is facing a growing backlash for the charges imposed on apps created for its virtual reality headsets, as developers complain about the commercial terms set around futuristic devices that the company hopes will help create a multibillion-dollar consumer market. [...] But several developers told the Financial Times of their frustration that Meta, which is seen as having an early lead in a nascent market, has insisted on a charging model for its VR app store similar to what exists today on smartphones. This is despite Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg being strongly critical in the past of charging policies on existing mobile app stores. "Don't confuse marketing with reality -- it's good marketing to pick on Apple. But it doesn't mean Meta won't do the exact same thing," said Seth Siegel, global head of AI and cyber security at Infosys Consulting. "There is no impetus for them to be better." The "Quest Store" for Meta's Quest 2, by far the most popular VR headset on the market, takes a 30 percent cut from digital purchases and charges 15-30 percent on subscriptions, similar to the fees charged by Apple and Android. "Undoubtedly there are services provided -- they build amazing hardware and provide store services," said Daniel Sproll, chief executive of, an immersive realities start-up behind the VR game Puzzling Places. "But the problem is that it feels like everybody agreed on this 30 percent and that's what we're stuck with. It doesn't feel like there's any competition. The Chinese companies coming out with headsets are the same. Why would they change it?" Meta defended its policies, pointing out that unlike iPhone owners, Quest users can install apps outside its official store through SideQuest, a third-party app store, or make use of App Lab, its less restricted, more experimental app store. "We want to foster choice and competition in the VR ecosystem," Meta said. "And it's working -- our efforts have produced a material financial return for developers: as we announced earlier this year, over $1 billion has been spent on games and apps in the Meta Quest Store." Developers welcome these alternatives but say their impact is limited. SideQuest has been downloaded just 396,000 times, versus 19 million for the Oculus app, according to Sensor Tower. App Lab, meanwhile, still takes a 30 percent cut of purchases. Developers are also frustrated with Meta's shift to a more restrictive approach to allowing apps on its VR app store. Chris Pruett, Meta's content ecosystem director, said Meta found that lax standards resulted in too many users being frustrated by low-quality content, so the company has opted to play more of a gatekeeper role. But developers said the resulting barriers could lack transparency. "Getting something on the Quest store is painful," said Lyron Bentovim, chief executive of the Glimpse Group, an immersive experiences group. "It's significantly worse than getting on Apple or Android stores."

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FCC Commissioner Wants Apple, Google To Remove TikTok From App Stores

SlashDot - 1 hour 22 min ago
A leader of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said he has asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores over China-related data security concerns. CNBC reports: The wildly popular short video app is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which faced U.S. scrutiny under President Donald Trump. Brendan Carr, one of the FCC's commissioners, shared via Twitter a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. The letter pointed to reports and other developments that made TikTok non-compliant with the two companies' app store policies. "TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface. It is not just an app for sharing funny videos or meme. That's the sheep's clothing," he said in the letter. "At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data." Carr's letter, dated June 24 on FCC letterhead, said if the Apple and Alphabet do not remove TikTok from their app stores, they should provide statements to him by July 8. The statements should explain "the basis for your company's conclusion that the surreptitious access of private and sensitive U.S. user data by persons located in Beijing, coupled with TikTok's pattern of misleading representations and conduct, does not run afoul of any of your app store policies," he said. A TikTok spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in a statement: "We know we're among the most scrutinized platforms from a security standpoint, and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of US user data. That's why we hire experts in their fields, continually work to validate our security standards, and bring in reputable, independent third parties to test our defenses."

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New Yorker Cartoonist Asher Perlman Explains How His Work Became a Meme - CNET

CNET News - 1 hour 49 min ago
He's a performer, comic and Emmy-nominated writer for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Air New Zealand's 'Skynest' Bunk Beds Could Make Flying Ultra-Long Haul a Dream - CNET

CNET News - 1 hour 49 min ago
The snooze pods will be available to add to economy bookings on the airline's new Dreamliners.

A Pair of Killer Whales Is Terrorizing Great White Sharks Off South Africa's Coast - CNET

CNET News - 1 hour 51 min ago
The orcas are attacking sharks and ripping out their livers -- forcing the predators to flee regions they once dominated.

iPhone 14 Rumor: All the Buzz We've Heard So Far - CNET

CNET News - 1 hour 52 min ago
We're collecting all the gossip about Apple's next iPhone lineup.

Substack Is Laying Off 14% of Its Staff

SlashDot - 2 hours 2 min ago
Substack, the newsletter start-up that has attracted prominent writers including George Saunders and Salman Rushdie, laid off 13 of its 90 employees on Wednesday, part of an effort to conserve cash amid an industrywide funding crunch for start-ups. The New York Times reports: Substack's chief executive, Chris Best, told employees that the cuts affected staff members responsible for human resources and writer support functions, among others, according to a person familiar with the discussion. The cuts are a blow to a company that has said it was opening up a new era of media, in which people writing stories and making videos would be more empowered, getting direct payments from readers for what they produce instead of being paid by the publications or sites where their work appears. Mr. Best told employees on Wednesday that Substack had decided to cut jobs so it could fund its operations from its own revenue without raising additional financing in a difficult market, according to the person with knowledge of the discussion. He said he wanted the company to seek funding from a position of strength if it decided to raise again. In his remarks to employees, Mr. Best said the company's revenues were increasing. He noted that Substack still had money in the bank and was continuing to hire, albeit at a slower place, the person said. Mr. Best said the cuts would allow the company to hone its focus on product and engineering. Months earlier, Substack scrapped a plan to raise additional funding after the market for venture investments cooled.

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Facebook Settlement in Tracking Lawsuit Gets Preliminary OK From Court - CNET

CNET News - 2 hours 11 min ago
The years-old class-action suit said the company tracked users on other sites even after they logged off Facebook. The company has agreed to pay $90 million.

Kim Dotcom Not Happy, Says 'Mega Mass Piracy Report' Is On the Way

SlashDot - 2 hours 42 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom does not seem like a happy man right now. After accusing two of his former colleagues [Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk] of facilitating Chinese spying, Dotcom says that a report is being produced to show that mass infringement is taking place on Mega, a company he co-founded. Surprisingly, he says it will include live pirate links to content posted by Mega users. [...] Turning his attention to former colleagues Ortmann and van der Kolk, last week Dotcom publicly blamed them for his exit from Mega, claiming they had "stolen" the company from him. How this dovetails with previous allegations related to his major falling out with former Mega CEO Tony Lentino, who also founded domain name registrar Instra, is unknown. Local media reports suggest that Dotcom hasn't spoken to former friends Ortmann and van der Kolk for years but their recent deal to avoid extradition in the Megaupload case by pleading guilty to organized crime charges puts Dotcom in a tough spot. "My co-defendants who claimed to be innocent for 10+ years were offered a sweet exit deal for a false confession," he said last week. And he wasn't finished there. After a research team found that Mega was vulnerable to attacks that allow for a "full compromise of the confidentiality of user files", Ortmann himself responded via a security notification stating that the issues had been fixed. In response, Dotcom accused Ortmann and van der Kolk of creating "backdoors" in Mega so that the Chinese government could decrypt users' files. "Same shady guys who just made a deal with the US and NZ Govt to get out of the US extradition case by falsely accusing me," he added. Whether this reference to the no-extradition-deal betrayed what was really on Dotcom's mind is up for debate but whatever the motivation, he's not letting it go. In a tweet posted yesterday, he again informed his 850K+ followers that the company he founded "is not safe" and people who think that their files are unreadable by Mega are wrong. Shortly after, Dotcom delivered another message, one even darker in tone. It targeted Mega, the company he co-founded and where his colleagues still work. It's possible to interpret the tweet in several ways but none seem beneficial to his former colleagues, Mega, or its users. "In addition to security vulnerabilities a comprehensive report about mass copyright infringement on Mega with millions of active links and channels is in the works," he said. "[P]erhaps the most worrying thing about this new complication in an escalating dispute is its potential to affect the minority of users that actually store infringing files on Mega," adds TorrentFreak. "Any detailed report of 'mass copyright infringement' will draw negative attention directly to them, especially if the report includes active hyperlinks as Dotcom suggests." "Couple that with Dotcom's allegations that the content of user files can be read, any conclusion that this upcoming infringement report hasn't been thought through from a user perspective can be easily forgiven..."

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Developer of Pokemon Go Niantic Lays Off 8% of Staff - CNET

CNET News - 3 hours 19 min ago
The software developer is cutting almost 100 jobs and cancelling four projects.

Pokemon Go Anniversary Event: Shadow Latios, Party Hat Charizard and More - CNET

CNET News - 3 hours 21 min ago
Pokemon Go is celebrating its sixth anniversary with a special event.

Crypto Tax Cheats Likely to Get Relief as US Crackdown Hits Snag

SlashDot - 3 hours 22 min ago
The US government's bid to collect billions of dollars in taxes is hitting a snag, with the Biden administration poised to delay when crypto brokers and exchanges must start gathering detailed information on their clients' trading. From a report: The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are likely to push off a January date for the firms to begin tracking data such as customers' capital gains and losses, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because a final decision hasn't been made. The move would mean the tax agency waits longer to get the kind of data it gets for stocks or bonds. Crypto tax evasion remains a major issue for Washington policy makers even amid the recent downturn. Treasury and the IRS have struggled to quickly draft rules, which firms will use in collecting and reporting the information on their clients' trades.

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Best Credit Cards for Good Credit for July 2022 - CNET

CNET News - 3 hours 23 min ago
Keeping a good credit score can lead to credit cards with bigger perks, lower rates and more cash back.

A Wide Range of Routers Are Under Attack By New, Unusually Sophisticated Malware

SlashDot - 4 hours 2 min ago
An unusually advanced hacking group has spent almost two years infecting a wide range of routers in North America and Europe with malware that takes full control of connected devices running Windows, macOS, and Linux, researchers reported on Tuesday. From a report: So far, researchers from Lumen Technologies' Black Lotus Labs say they've identified at least 80 targets infected by the stealthy malware, infecting routers made by Cisco, Netgear, Asus, and DrayTek. Dubbed ZuoRAT, the remote access Trojan is part of a broader hacking campaign that has existed since at least the fourth quarter of 2020 and continues to operate. The discovery of custom-built malware written for the MIPS architecture and compiled for small office and home office routers is significant, particularly given its range of capabilities. Its ability to enumerate all devices connected to an infected router and collect the DNS lookups and network traffic they send and receive and remain undetected is the hallmark of a highly sophisticated threat actor.

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A Pro-China Online Influence Campaign is Targeting the Rare-Earths Industry

SlashDot - 4 hours 42 min ago
Disinformation operatives seek to undermine firms in the Western world as China fights to maintain near-monopoly power. From a report: An online influence campaign carried out by a group that promotes China's political interests is targeting Western companies that mine and process rare-earth elements, according to a new report from cybersecurity firm Mandiant. The campaign, which is playing out in Facebook groups and micro-targeted tweets, is trying to stoke environmentalist protests against the companies in the US. The operation is attributed to an online group code-named Dragonbridge, which has also been responsible for campaigns claiming that covid-19 originated in the United States. Its latest campaign has increased in intensity in recent weeks as part of a strategic battle between China and its Western adversaries over who controls the precious resources and their own destiny. "We are headed to a future where the likelihood of tools like influence operations being used against key industries will only increase," says John Hultquist, Mandiant's head of intelligence. "As competition between the US and China changes, the nature of the competition may become more aggressive." It's also proof that influence campaigns are not easy: Dragonbridge has largely failed in its bid to draw negative attention to the Western companies. Shane Huntley, who directs Google's Threat Analysis Group and has tracked Dragonbridge since 2019, previously tweeted that his team has taken an "aggressive" approach against the influence operation but that "it really is amazing for all the effort put in how LITTLE engagement these channels get from real viewers."

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1,100-HP Red Bull RB17 Hybrid Hypercar Coming in 2025 for $6M - CNET

CNET News - 5 hours 4 min ago
Red Bull's first stand-alone road car will be developed by Adrian Newey, who worked on the Aston Martin Valkyrie.

Firefox Can Now Automatically Remove Tracking From URLs

SlashDot - 5 hours 14 min ago
Mozilla's latest Firefox browser release has a new feature that prevents sites like Facebook from tracking you across websites. Called Query Parameter Stripping, it automatically removes strings of characters added to the end of an URL.

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Satellite Snaps Wowza Space Selfie With Off-the-Shelf Camera - CNET

CNET News - 5 hours 29 min ago
NanoAvionics raises the bar for self-portraits in space.