Computers & Linux News

Computer Program For Particle Physics At Risk of Obsolescence

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-12-03 14:34
"Maintenance of the software that's used for the hardest physics calculations rests almost entirely with a retiree," reports Quanta magazine, saying the situation "reveals the problematic incentive structure of academia." Particle physicists use some of the longest equations in all of science. To look for signs of new elementary particles in collisions at the Large Hadron Collider, for example, they draw thousands of pictures called Feynman diagrams that depict possible collision outcomes, each one encoding a complicated formula that can be millions of terms long. Summing formulas like these with pen and paper is impossible; even adding them with computers is a challenge. The algebra rules we learn in school are fast enough for homework, but for particle physics they are woefully inefficient. Programs called computer algebra systems strive to handle these tasks. And if you want to solve the biggest equations in the world, for 33 years one program has stood out: FORM. Developed by the Dutch particle physicist Jos Vermaseren, FORM is a key part of the infrastructure of particle physics, necessary for the hardest calculations. However, as with surprisingly many essential pieces of digital infrastructure, FORM's maintenance rests largely on one person: Vermaseren himself. And at 73, Vermaseren has begun to step back from FORM development. Due to the incentive structure of academia, which prizes published papers, not software tools, no successor has emerged. If the situation does not change, particle physics may be forced to slow down dramatically... Without ongoing development, FORM will get less and less usable — only able to interact with older computer code, and not aligned with how today's students learn to program. Experienced users will stick with it, but younger researchers will adopt alternative computer algebra programs like Mathematica that are more user-friendly but orders of magnitude slower. In practice, many of these physicists will decide that certain problems are off-limits — too difficult to handle. So particle physics will stall, with only a few people able to work on the hardest calculations. In April, Vermaseren is holding a summit of FORM users to plan for the future. They will discuss how to keep FORM alive: how to maintain and extend it, and how to show a new generation of students just how much it can do. With luck, hard work and funding, they may preserve one of the most powerful tools in physics. Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader g01d4 for submitting the story.

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America's TSA Begins Quietly Testing Facial Recognition Tech at 16 Airports

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-12-03 13:34
America's Transportation Security Administration "has been quietly testing controversial facial recognition technology for passenger screening at 16 major domestic airports — from Washington to Los Angeles," reports the Washington Post. Their article adds that the agency "hopes to expand it across the United States as soon as next year." Kiosks with cameras are doing a job that used to be completed by humans: checking the photos on travelers' IDs to make sure they're not impostors.... You step up to the travel document checker kiosk and stick your ID into a machine. Then you look into a camera for up to five seconds and the machine compares your live photo to the one it sees on your ID. They call this a "one to one" verification system, comparing one face to one ID. Even though the software is judging if you're an impostor, there's still a human agent there to make the final call (at least for now). So how accurate is it? The TSA says it's been better at verifying IDs than the manual process. "This technology is definitely a security enhancement," said [TSA program manager Jason] Lim. "We are so far very satisfied with the performance of the machine's ability to conduct facial recognition accurately...." But the TSA hasn't actually released hard data about how often its system falsely identifies people, through incorrect positive or negative matches. Some of that might come to light next year when the TSA has to make its case to the Department of Homeland Security to convert airports all over the United States into facial recognition systems.... The TSA says it doesn't use facial recognition for law-enforcement purposes. It also says it minimizes holding on to our face data, so it isn't using the scans to build out a new national database of face IDs. "The scanning and match is made and immediately overwritten at the Travel Document Checker podium. We keep neither the live photo nor the photo of the ID," said Lim. But the TSA did acknowledge there are cases in which it holds on to the data for up to 24 months so its science and technology office can evaluate the system's effectiveness.... "None of this facial recognition technology is mandated," said Lim. "Those who do not feel comfortable will still have to present their ID — but they can tell the officer that they do not want their photo taken, and the officer will turn off the live camera." There are also supposed to be signs around informing you of your rights. Here's the TSA's web page about the program. Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike for sharing the article.

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Take Up to 50% Off Cool Toys for Kids at Target Right Now - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-12-03 13:05
Get your holiday shopping out of the way with deals on toys from Hot Wheels, Marvel, Disney, VTech and more.

FTX Subsidiary Plans Restarting Withdrawals in Japan, as US Requests Review of Fraud Allegations

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-12-03 12:34
"FTX Japan is looking to restart withdrawals," reports CoinDesk, "after a plan to return deposits was approved by its parent, the failed FTX exchange." "If the plan works out, the collapsed crypto exchange's users in Japan might be some of the first customers to get their money back...." In a notice posted on its website, FTX Japan said it was able to confirm with the company's bankruptcy lawyers in the U.S. that Japanese customers' funds "should not be part of FTX Japan's estate given how these assets are held and property interests under Japanese law." FTX Japan had been working on the plan to restart withdrawals for the last two weeks, and says it was approved by the FTX Trading management team.... "As part of the plan, we are incorporating controls, security audit, reconciliations and reviews to put in place a robust and secure process," the notice said. Meanwhile, America's Department of Justice "has requested that an independent examiner be appointed to review 'substantial and serious allegations of fraud, dishonesty' and 'incompetence'," reports CNBC: FTX's bankruptcy case demands an independent review, the Department of Justice said, because of allegations of fraud and dishonesty which could damage the entire crypto industry. Andrew Vara, the U.S. bankruptcy trustee for FTX's case, said Sam Bankman-Fried and his team mismanaged the company or potentially engaged in fraudulent conduct. The DOJ is seeking an independent examiner to investigate what happened... Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti told CNBC that the move "shows a level of interest and attention that they're paying to this that should be troubling to Mr. Bankman-Fried."

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Amazon Basics Office Products and Electronics Are Now Discounted up to 38% - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-12-03 11:34
Stock up and save on batteries, surge protectors, memory cards and more with this limited-time deal.

2022's 'Earthshot Prizes' Recognize Five Innovative Responses to Climate Change

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-12-03 11:34
"Childhood friends in Oman who figured out how to turn carbon dioxide into rock are among five winners chosen for the Prince of Wales's prestigious Earthshot Prize," reports the BBC: The annual awards were created by Prince William to fund projects that aim to save the planet. Each winner will receive £1m ($1.2m) to develop their innovation.... "I believe that the Earthshot solutions you have seen this evening prove we can overcome our planet's greatest challenges," Prince William said during the ceremony. "By supporting and scaling them we can change our future," he said. 1,500 projects were nominated, according to the event's web site. Here's the five winners: A Kenya-based company producing stoves powered by processed biomass (made from charcoal, wood and sugarcane) that "burns cleaner, creating 90% less pollution than an open fire," while cutting fuel costs in half. The Indian startup behind Greenhouse-in-a-box. "Plants in the greenhouse require 98% less water than those outdoors and yields are seven-times higher," explains the site, while the greenhouses themselves are 90% cheaper than a standard greenhouse, "more than doubling farmers' incomes [while] using less water and fewer pesticides." A Queensland-based program to expand the network of rangers using drones to monitor reefs and wildfires while sharing information and innovative ideas. London-based start-up Notpla, which created a plastic alternative made from seaweed and plants that's entirely biodegradable. (The seaweed used in its production also captures carbon twenty-times faster than trees.) The company 44.01 removes CO2 permanently by mineralising it in peridotite, accelerating the natural process by pumping carbonated water into peridotite underground. (Unlike carbon storage, "mineralizing" CO2 removes it forever, making the process safer, cost-effective, and scalable.) Five prizes will be awarded each year until 2030.

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Watch Argentina vs. Australia World Cup 2022 Match From Anywhere - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-12-03 11:30
Messi has made it to round 2. Now Argentina has to take on Australia.

Chinese Police are Using Cellphone Data to Track Down Protesters

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-12-03 10:34
CNN reports on the aftermath of last weekend's protests against the Chinese government: A protester told CNN they received a phone call Wednesday from a police officer, who revealed they were tracked because their cellphone signal was recorded in the vicinity of the protest site.... When they denied being there, the caller asked: "Then why did your cellphone number show up there?" In China, all mobile phone users are required by law to register their real name and national identification number with telecom providers. The protester was also told to report to a police station for questioning and to sign a written record.... In Shanghai, where some of the boldest protests took place with crowds calling for Xi's removal on two consecutive nights, police searched residents' cellphones in the streets and in the subway for VPNs that can be used to circumvent China's internet firewall, or apps such as Twitter and Telegram, which though banned in the country have been used by protesters. Police also confiscated the cellphones of protesters under arrest, according to two protesters who spoke to CNN. A protester who was arrested over the weekend said they were told to hand over their phone and password to the police as "evidence." They said they feared police would export the data on their phone after it was confiscated by officers, who told them they could pick it up a week later. Another protester said police returned their phone upon their release, but officers had deleted the photo album and removed the WeChat social media app. One protester told CNN they successfully avoided being contacted by the police as of Thursady afternoon. During the demonstration, they'd kept their phone in airplane mode.

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Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato Looks Just Like the Concept - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-12-03 09:22
This high-riding supercar doesn't look all that different from the concept that was first previewed in 2019, and that's a good thing.

Ditch Those Disposable Lint Rollers for This Discounted Reusable Pet Hair Remover - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-12-03 09:08
The ChomChom roller doesn't require any disposable sticky tape, and today only you can pick one up for as little as $16.

These Boots Are the Must-Have Shoes of the Season - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-12-03 09:00
Toms Charlie boots are stylish, easy to wear all day and, most importantly, a gift that gives back.

Grab a New Apple MagSafe Charger for $30 -- Today Only - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-12-03 08:26
Make charging a snap with a magnetically aligned MagSafe charger.

3 Reasons to Care About the Tesla Semi Even if You'll Never Buy One - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-12-03 08:01
The electric 18-wheeler could help the environment and improve road safety.

Why the Tesla Semi Makes So Much Sense - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-12-03 08:00
The biggest name in electric cars tackles the biggest thing on the road.

The 7 Best Store-Bought Keto BBQ Sauces in 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-12-03 08:00
Keto BBQ sauce means that low-carb lifestyle can still be delicious.

New CryWiper Data Wiper Targets Russian Courts, Mayor's Offices

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-12-03 08:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: A previously undocumented data wiper named CryWiper is masquerading as ransomware, but in reality, destroys data beyond recovery in attacks against Russian mayor's offices and courts. CryWiper was first discovered by Kaspersky this fall, where they say the malware was used in an attack against a Russian organization. [...] CryWiper is a 64-bit Windows executable named 'browserupdate.exe' written in C++, configured to abuse many WinAPI function calls. Upon execution, it creates scheduled tasks to run every five minutes on the compromised machine. Next, it contacts a command and control server (C2) with the name of the victim's machine. The C2 responds with either a "run" or "do not run" command, determining whether the wiper will activate or stay dormant. Kaspersky reports seeing execution delays of 4 days (345,600 seconds) in some cases, likely added in the code to help confuse the victim as to what caused the infection. CryWiper will stop critical processes related to MySQL, MS SQL database servers, MS Exchange email servers, and MS Active Directory web services to free locked data for destruction. Next, the malware deletes shadow copies on the compromised machine to prevent the easy restoration of the wiped files. CryWiper also modifies the Windows Registry to prevent RDP connections, likely to hinder intervention and incident response from remote IT specialists. Finally, the wiper will corrupt all enumerated files except for ".exe", ".dll", "lnk", ".sys", ".msi", and its own ".CRY", while also skipping System, Windows, and Boot directories to prevent rendering the computer completely unusable. After this step, CryWiper will generate ransom notes named 'README.txt,' asking for 0.5 Bitcoin (approximately $8,000) in exchange for a decrypter. Unfortunately, this is a false promise, as the corrupted data cannot be restored.

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Apple Now Calling AR/VR Headset Operating System 'xrOS'

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-12-03 05:00
Apple has decided to call the software that will run on its upcoming AR/VR headset "xrOS," an update from the original "RealityOS or "rOS" naming the company was planning on, according to Bloomberg. MacRumors reports: The name change comes as Apple begins to prepare for the launch of the headset, which is expected at some point in 2023. The headset will feature its own operating system, much like the Apple TV and the Apple Watch, and it will have a dedicated App Store. "XR" is meant to stand for extended reality, which pertains to both augmented and virtual reality. Rumors indicate that the headset Apple is working on will be "mixed reality" like the Microsoft HoloLens, supporting both augmented and virtual reality capabilities. Augmented reality augments what the user is seeing in the real world, while virtual reality is an entirely digital experience. Apple internally referred to the headset's operating system as "rOS" during the development process, but Bloomberg suggests that xrOS is a less generic name that will allow the headset to stand out more. In addition to confirming the name change with unnamed Apple sources, Bloomberg also discovered that a shell company named Deep Dive LLC has been registering the xrOS name across several countries, and Apple could potentially be behind these filings. Apple often uses shell companies to try to secretly register for trademarks for upcoming products.

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Astronomers Say a New, Huge Satellite Is As Bright As the Brightest Stars

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-12-03 02:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Last month, a Texas-based company announced that it had successfully deployed the largest-ever commercial communications satellite in low-Earth orbit. This BlueWalker 3 demonstration satellite measures nearly 65 square meters, or about one-third the size of a tennis court. Designed and developed by AST SpaceMobile, the expansive BlueWalker 3 satellite is intended to demonstrate the ability of standard mobile phones to directly connect to the Internet via satellite. Large satellites are necessary to connect to mobile devices without a ground-based antenna. [...] Since BlueWalker3's launch in September, astronomers have been tracking the satellite, and their alarm was heightened following its antenna deployment last month. According to the International Astronomical Union, post-deployment measurements showed that BlueWalker 3 had an apparent visual magnitude of around 1 at its brightest, which is nearly as bright as Antares and Spica, the 15th and 16th brightest stars in the night sky. For a few years, astronomers have been expressing concerns about megaconstellations, such as SpaceX's Starlink satellites. While these are more numerous -- there are more than 3,000 Starlink satellites in orbit -- they are much smaller and far less bright than the kinds of satellites AST plans to launch. Eventually, AST plans to launch a constellation of 168 large satellites to provide "substantial" global coverage, a company spokesperson said. Even one is enough for astronomers, however. "BlueWalker 3 is a big shift in the constellation satellite issue and should give us all reason to pause," said Piero Benvenuti, a director at the International Astronomical Union. The organization of astronomers is also concerned about the potential for radio interference from these "cell phone towers in space." They will transmit strong radio waves at frequencies currently reserved for terrestrial cell phone communications but are not subject to the same radio quiet zone restrictions that ground-based cellular networks are. This could severely impact radio astronomy research -- which was used to discover cosmic microwave background radiation, for example -- as well as work in related fields. Astronomers currently build their radio astronomy observatories in remote areas, far from cell tower interference. They are worried that these large, radio-wave transmitting satellites will interfere in unpopulated areas. "We are eager to use the newest technologies and strategies to mitigate possible impacts to astronomy," AST said in a statement to Ars. "We are actively working with industry experts on the latest innovations, including next-generation anti-reflective materials. We are also engaged with NASA and certain working groups within the astronomy community to participate in advanced industry solutions, including potential operational interventions." AST is "committed to avoiding broadcasts inside or adjacent to the National Radio Quiet Zone in the United States [...] as well as additional radioastronomy locations," adds Ars.

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Chess' $100 Million Showdown: Carlsen Moves To Dismiss Niemann Lawsuit Over Cheating Allegations

SlashDot - Fri, 2022-12-02 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Forbes: Lawyers representing Norwegian World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen and online chess platform Chess.com asked a federal judge Friday to toss a $100 million lawsuit filed by chess grandmaster Hans Niemann in October, which marked a dramatic escalation of tensions over cheating allegations levied against the 19-year-old American. The motion to dismiss argued the teenager spent years "trying to curate a reputation as the bad boy of chess" and "now wants to cash in by blaming others" after the allegations derailed his chess career. Niemann acknowledged he cheated during a handful of matches as a young teen but an October report from Chess.com determined he "likely cheated" more than 100 times in online chess matches, after Carlsen released a statement in September saying Niemann "has cheated more -- and more recently -- than he has publicly admitted." Niemann stated in his defamation lawsuit the claims are a conspiracy from the chess community's establishment to smear him after he defeated Carlsen -- the five-time defending world champion -- during a tournament in St. Louis on September 4. The teen claimed the alleged conspiracy was an attempt to save Carlsen, 32, from reputational damage after Chess.com agreed to purchase his "Play Magnus" app for $83 million in August. Friday's motion stated all of Niemann's claims are without merit, arguing he has not disproved the cheating allegations or offered evidence to back up his conspiracy assertion. The lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Missouri, also named Chess.com executive Daniel Rensch and a website streaming partner, Hikaru Nakamura, as defendants. "Niemann now seeks to shift blame to reigning World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen and others, claiming a wholly implausible conspiracy to defame and boycott Niemann that somehow damaged his already dubious reputation to the tune of $100 million," the motion to dismiss states.

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