Computers & Linux News

Best Gifts Available From Amazon: 22 Gifts From $5 to $200 - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-09-21 09:00
We've got you covered for gifts for every occasion, priced from as little as $5 all the way up to $200.

New Revelations From the Snowden Archive Surface

SlashDot - Thu, 2023-09-21 09:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Computer Weekly: A doctoral thesis by American investigative journalist and post-doctoral researcher Jacob Appelbaum has now revealed unpublished information from the Snowden archive. These revelations go back a decade, but remain of indisputable public interest: - The NSA listed Cavium, an American semiconductor company marketing Central Processing Units (CPUs) – the main processor in a computer which runs the operating system and applications -- as a successful example of a "SIGINT-enabled" CPU supplier. Cavium, now owned by Marvell, said it does not implement back doors for any government. - The NSA compromised lawful Russian interception infrastructure, SORM. The NSA archive contains slides showing two Russian officers wearing jackets with a slogan written in Cyrillic: "You talk, we listen." The NSA and/or GCHQ has also compromised Key European LI [lawful interception] systems. - Among example targets of its mass surveillance program, PRISM, the NSA listed the Tibetan government in exile. These revelations have surfaced for the first time thanks to a doctoral thesis authored by Appelbaum towards earning a degree in applied cryptography from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Communication in a world of pervasive surveillance is a public document and has been downloaded over 18,000 times since March 2022 when it was first published. [...] We asked Jacob Appelbaum, currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Eindhoven University of Technology, why he chose to publish those revelations in a technically written thesis rather than a mass-circulation newspaper. He replied: "As an academic, I see that the details included are in the public interest, and highly relevant for the topic covered in my thesis, as it covers the topic of large-scale adversaries engaging in targeted and mass surveillance." According to The Register, "Marvell (the owner of Cavium since 2018) denies the allegations that it or Cavium placed backdoors in products at the behest of the U.S. government. Appelbaum's thesis wasn't given much attention until it was mentioned in's security blog last week.

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Best Card Games in 2023 - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-09-21 08:00
Put away your old playing cards and upgrade your family game night with some of the best card games around.

Here Are Today's Refinance Rates, Sept. 21, 2023: Rates Advance - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-09-21 08:00
Several important refinance rates floated higher this week. Though refinance rates change daily, experts expect rates to continue to climb.

Mortgage Interest Rates for Sept. 21, 2023: Rates Tick Up - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-09-21 08:00
This week, a handful of important mortgage rates climbed higher. See how the Fed's interest rate hikes could affect your home loan payments.

Waymo Begins Testing the Waters For a Robotaxi Service In Los Angeles

SlashDot - Thu, 2023-09-21 06:00
Waymo announced a "tour across Los Angeles" that allows curious residents the opportunity to ride in fully autonomous vehicles as the Alphabet-owned company begins to lay the groundwork for the launch of a commercial robotaxi service. The Verge reports: Waymo says it will make six multi-week "tour stops" in LA neighborhoods where people can hail a self-driving car without anyone in the front seat. Interested Angelenos can snag early access tickets at several pop-up events throughout the city or sign up for a waitlist. Once they receive a ticket, riders can use Waymo's fully driverless vehicles for free within the service area for one week during the allotted time. The tour is as follows: Santa Monica and Venice Beach October 11th-November 18th; Century City November 20th-December 17th; West Hollywood December 17th-January 7th; Mid City January 8th-23rd; Koreatown January 24th-February 8th; and Downtown LA February 9th-March 3rd. Waymo's operational design domain -- the area in which its robotaxis are programmed to travel -- stretches from the West Side to Downtown LA, an area that's larger than San Francisco but smaller than its coverage in Phoenix.

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SpaceX Rocket Launches Starlink Satellites On Record-Breaking 17th Flight

SlashDot - Thu, 2023-09-21 03:00
SpaceX just extended its Falcon 9 rocket-reuse record. reports: The Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Tuesday at 11:38 p.m. EDT (0338 GMT Sept. 20), carrying 22 of SpaceX's Starlink internet satellites toward low Earth orbit (LEO). The rocket's first stage came back to Earth 8.5 minutes after launch, landing on a SpaceX drone ship stationed at sea. It was the 17th liftoff and landing for this Falcon 9's first stage, according to a SpaceX mission description. Those figures are unprecedented; the previous mark was 16, held by two different Falcon 9 boosters. The 22 Starlink satellites, meanwhile, deployed from the Falcon 9's upper stage 62.5 minutes after launch as planned. Tuesday night's liftoff extended another record as well: It was SpaceX's 65th orbital mission of the year. The company's previous mark, 61, was set in 2022. You can watch a recorded video of the launch here.

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The 8 Best Herbal Teas for Stress and Restful Sleep - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2023-09-21 00:00
Wind down from your day, calm your worried mind or promote sleepiness with these best caffeine-free teas.

French Drillers May Have Stumbled Upon a Mammoth Hydrogen Deposit

SlashDot - Wed, 2023-09-20 23:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: On the outskirts of the small town of Folschviller in eastern France stand three nondescript sheds. One of these temporary structures has recently become a hive of activity due to a continuous stream of visitors, including scientists, journalists, and the public. The shed sits above a borehole first drilled in 2006 and houses a gas measurement system called SysMoG, which was originally developed to determine the underground methane concentration. While the device did detect almost pure methane (99 percent) at a depth of 650 meters, probing further down, the borehole resulted in an unexpected and surprising discovery: hydrogen in high concentration. "At 1,100 meters, the concentration of dissolved hydrogen is 14 percent. At 3,000 meters, the estimated concentration could be as high as 90 percent," Jacques Pironon, director of research at GeoRessources lab at the University de Lorraine, said. Based on the estimates of methane resources and the concentration of hydrogen detected so far, scientists have conjectured that the Lorraine region in eastern France, of which Folschviller is a part, could contain 46 million tons of white -- or naturally produced -- hydrogen. That would make it one of the world's largest known hydrogen deposits. This remarkable discovery was not the objective of the project, called Regalor. Instead, it aimed to determine the feasibility of methane production in the Lorraine region and to record the presence of traces of other gases. "Our original research was related to the study of carboniferous sediments in northeast France. This was important as Lorraine was one of France's largest coal-producing regions," Pironon said. [...] Soon, the researchers will start taking measurements in three other boreholes at similar depths to understand if the hydrogen concentration remains high as you move laterally from the site of the original borehole. "If the concentration is similar, the next step, which is being discussed with the authorities, would be to drill a hole 3,000 meters deep to validate the evolution of the hydrogen concentration with depth," he said. The deeper borehole could also throw up another surprise. "Besides knowing the level of hydrogen concentration, we will also know if hydrogen is present in dissolved form or in gaseous state at these depths," Pironon said. This study could also shed light on the source of this hydrogen. According to Pironon, there are two hypotheses, one of which is related to the presence of the mineral siderite. "Hydrogen could be produced by the reaction between water and siderite, which is made of iron carbonates. We consider that the siderite could be oxidized by water molecules to produce hydrogen. The oxygen then combines with iron to produce iron oxide." According to Pironon, the other hypothesis relates its presence to the chemical processes that form coal, which, along with the release of methane, can also produce hydrogen.

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Neuralink Is Recruiting Subjects For the First Human Trial of Its Brain-Computer Interface

SlashDot - Wed, 2023-09-20 22:02
A few months after getting FDA approval for human trials, Neuralink is looking for its first test subjects. The Verge reports: The six-year initial trial, which the Elon Musk-owned company is calling "the PRIME Study," is intended to test Neuralink tech designed to help those with paralysis control devices. The company is looking for people (PDF) with quadriplegia due to vertical spinal cord injury or ALS who are over the age of 22 and have a "consistent and reliable caregiver" to be part of the study. The PRIME Study (which apparently stands for Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface, even though that acronym makes no sense) is set to research three things at once. The first is the N1 implant, Neuralink's brain-computer device. The second is the R1 robot, the surgical robot that actually implants the device. The third is the N1 User App, the software that connects to the N1 and translates brain signals into computer actions. Neuralink says it's planning to test both the safety and efficacy of all three parts of the system. Those who participate in the PRIME Study will first participate in an 18-month study that involves nine visits with researchers. After that, they'll spend at least two hours a week on brain-computer interface research sessions and then do 20 more visits over the next five years. Neuralink doesn't say how many subjects it's looking for or when it plans to begin the study but does say it only plans to compensate "for study-related costs" like travel to and from the study location. (Also not clear: where that location is. Neuralink only says it has received approval from "our first hospital site.")

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Parents In US Offered Refunds For Purchases Kids Made In Fortnite

SlashDot - Wed, 2023-09-20 21:25
Parents in the U.S. whose children purchased items in the popular game Fortnite without their permission will be able to claim a refund from today. The BBC reports: The U.S. regulator accused the game of tricking players into making unintended purchases and breaching privacy. Fortnite developer Epic Games agreed to pay $245 million in refunds in 2022. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has now begun the process of contacting 37 million people to alert them to the compensation. The FTC said Epic Games duped players with "deceptive interfaces" that could trigger purchases while the game loaded, and accused it of having default settings that breached people's privacy. In total, it agreed to a settlement of $520 million with Epic Games over the concerns. This includes a $275 million fine relating to how Fortnite collects data on its users, including those aged under 13, without informing parents. It is the largest fine ever levied by the FTC for breaking a rule. The rest of the settlement will be paid out as refunds.

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Intel Expects Its Quantum Computing Approach to Leapfrog Rivals - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2023-09-20 21:00
A sequel to its Tunnel Falls quantum processor is under development. The technology's promise to improve batteries, finance and AI mostly remains years away.

Airbnb's Naba Banerjee Reduced Partying By 55% In Two Years

SlashDot - Wed, 2023-09-20 20:45
Hayden Field writes via CNBC: Naba Banerjee is a proud party pooper. As the person in charge of Airbnb's worldwide ban on parties, she's spent more than three years figuring out how to battle party "collusion" by users, flag "repeat party houses" and, most of all, design an anti-party AI system with enough training data to halt high-risk reservations before the offender even gets to the checkout page. It's been a bit like a game of whack-a-mole: Whenever Banerjee's algorithms flag some concerns, new ones pop up. Airbnb defines a party as a gathering that occurs at an Airbnb listing and "causes significant disruption to neighbors and the surrounding community," according to a company rep. To determine violations, the company considers whether the gathering is an open-invite one, and whether it involves excessive noise, trash, visitors, parking issues for neighbors, and other factors. Banerjee joined the company's trust and safety team in May 2020 and now runs that group. In her short time at the company, she's overseen a ban on high-risk reservations by users under age 25, a pilot program for anti-party AI in Australia, heightened defenses on holiday weekends, a host insurance policy worth millions of dollars, and this summer, a global rollout of Airbnb's reservation screening system. Some measures have worked better than others, but the company says party reports dropped 55% between August 2020 and August 2022 -- and since the worldwide launch of Banerjee's system in May, more than 320,000 guests have been blocked or redirected from booking attempts on Airbnb. Overall, the company's business is getting stronger as the post-pandemic travel boom starts to fade. Last month, the company reported earnings that beat analysts' expectations on earnings per share and revenue, with the latter growing 18% year over year, despite fewer-than-expected numbers of nights and experiences booked via the platform.

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FCC Plays Whack-a-Mole With Telcos Accused of Profiting From Robocalls

SlashDot - Wed, 2023-09-20 20:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A suspicious phone company is on the verge of having all its calls blocked by US-based telcos after being accused of ignoring orders to investigate and block robocalls. One Owl Telecom is a US-based gateway provider that routes phone calls from outside the U.S. to consumer phone companies such as Verizon. "Robocalls on One Owl's network apparently bombarded consumers without their consent with prerecorded messages about fictitious orders," the Federal Communications Commission said yesterday. On August 1, the FCC sent One Owl a Notification of Suspected Illegal Robocall Traffic (PDF) ordering it to investigate robocall traffic identified by USTelecom's Industry Traceback Group, block all of the identified traffic within 14 days, and "continue to block the identified gateway traffic as well as substantially similar traffic on an ongoing basis." One Owl apparently hasn't taken any of the required steps, the FCC said yesterday. "One Owl never responded, and the [FCC Enforcement] Bureau is not aware of any measures One Owl has taken to comply with the Notice," an FCC order said. Blocking robocall traffic from companies like One Owl is a bit like playing whack-a-mole. The FCC said it previously took enforcement actions "against two other entities to whom One Owl is closely related: Illum Telecommunication Limited and One Eye LLC. While operating under different corporate names, these entities have shared personnel, IP addresses, customers, and a penchant for disregarding FCC rules." If One Owl doesn't provide an adequate response within 14 days, all phone companies receiving calls from it "will then be required to block and cease accepting all traffic received from One Owl beginning 30 days after release of the Final Determination Order," the FCC said. "One Owl faces a simple choice -- comply or lose access to U.S. communications networks," FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Loyaan Egal said in a press release.

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Helix Mattresses Review 2023: A Bed for Every Body and Sleeping Position - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2023-09-20 19:45
There are comfortable hybrid mattresses in multiple firmness levels so you can find your perfect match.

Amazon Is Set To Supercharge Alexa With Generative AI

SlashDot - Wed, 2023-09-20 19:20
At its fall hardware event Wednesday, Amazon revealed an all-new Alexa voice assistant powered by its new Alexa large language model. The Verge reports: According to Dave Limp, Amazon's current SVP of devices and services, this new Alexa can understand conversational phrases and respond appropriately, interpret context more effectively, and complete multiple requests from one command. In an interview with The Verge ahead of the event, Limp explained that the new Alexa LLM "is a true generalizable large language model that's very optimized for the Alexa use case; it's not what you find with a Bard or ChatGPT or any of these things." However, this all-new Alexa isn't being unleashed everywhere, on everyone, all at once. The company is rolling it out slowly through a preview program "in the coming months" -- and only in the US. Clearly, there have been lessons learned from the missteps of Microsoft and Google, and Amazon is proceeding with caution. "When you connect an LLM to the real world, you want to minimize hallucinations -- and while we think we have the right systems in place ... there is no substitute for putting it out in the real world," says Limp. If you want to be notified when you can join the preview, tell your Echo device, "Alexa, let's chat," and your interest will be registered. Unsurprisingly, this superpowered Alexa may not always be free. Limp said that while Alexa, as it is today, will remain free, "the idea of a superhuman assistant that can supercharge your smart home, and more, work complex tasks on your behalf, could provide enough utility that we will end up charging something for it down the road."

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Yelp Has a Wall of Shame For Businesses Caught Paying For Fake Reviews

SlashDot - Wed, 2023-09-20 18:40
Yelp is releasing a new index that tracks every U.S. establishment it's ever caught engaging in "suspicious" activity to influence its reviews. Engadget reports: [T]he index is the first time the company has offered a single place where users can find a historical record of every business that's ever been subject to such a warning as well as a current list of businesses with active alerts on their pages. For Yelp, the index is both its latest move in a long-running war on fake reviews, as well as a nod to a changing regulatory environment in which fake reviews are attracting increasing scrutiny from regulators.

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T-Mobile 'System Glitch' Exposes Some Customers' Personal and Payment Info - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2023-09-20 18:16
Fewer than 100 people were affected, according to T-Mobile.

Terraform Fork Gets Renamed OpenTofu, Joins Linux Foundation

SlashDot - Wed, 2023-09-20 18:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: When HashiCorp announced it was changing its Terraform license in August, it set off a firestorm in the open source community, and actually represented an existential threat to startups that were built on top of the popular open source project. The community went into action and within weeks they had written a manifesto, and soon after that launched an official fork called OpenTF. Today, that group went a step further when the Linux Foundation announced OpenTofu, the official name for the Terraform fork, which will live forever under the auspices of the foundation as an open source project. At the same time, the project announced it would be applying for entry into the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). "OpenTofu is an open and community-driven response to Terraform's recently announced license change from a Mozilla Public License v2.0 (MPLv2) to a Business Source License v1.1 providing everyone with a reliable, open source alternative under a neutral governance model," the foundation said in a statement. The name is deliberately playful says Yevgeniy (Jim) Brikman from the OpenTofu founding team, who is also co-founder of Gruntwork. "I'm glad your reaction was to laugh. That's a good thing. We're trying to keep things a little more humorous," Brikman told TechCrunch, but the group is dead serious when it comes to building an open fork. [...] "The first thing was to get an alpha release out there. So you can go to the OpenTofu website and download OpenTofu and start using it and trying it out," he said. "Then the next thing is a stable release. That's coming in the very near future, but there's work to do. Once you have a stable release, people can start using it. Then we can start growing adoption, and once we start growing adoption, some of the big players will start stepping in when some of the big players start stepping in other big players will start stepping in as well."

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EVs Could Achieve Price Parity With Gas-Powered Cars as Battery Prices Plummet - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2023-09-20 17:50
The price of lithium-ion battery cells, typically the costliest part of an EV, has declined more than 30% since March 2022.