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The Story Behind Google's In-house Desktop Linux

Sat, 2022-07-30 12:34
"For more than a decade, Google has been baking and eating its own homemade Linux desktop distribution," writes Computerworld. Long-time Slashdot reader waspleg shared their report: The first version was Goobuntu. (As you'd guess from the name, it was based on Ubuntu.) In 2018, Google moved its in-house Linux desktop from the Goobuntu to a new Linux distro, the Debian-based gLinux. Why? Because, as Google explained, Ubuntu's Long Term Support (LTS) two-year release "meant that we had to upgrade every machine in our fleet of over 100,000 devices before the end-of-life date of the OS." That was a pain. Add in the time-consuming need to fully customize engineers' PCs, and Google decided that it cost too much. Besides, the "effort to upgrade our Goobuntu fleet usually took the better part of a year. With a two-year support window, there was only one year left until we had to go through the same process all over again for the next LTS. This entire process was a huge stress factor for our team, as we got hundreds of bugs with requests for help for corner cases." So, when Google had enough of that, it moved to Debian Linux (though not just vanilla Debian). The company created a rolling Debian distribution: GLinux Rolling Debian Testing (Rodete). The idea is that users and developers are best served by giving them the latest updates and patches as they're created and deemed ready for production. Google's using what appears to be an automated build system (along with virtualized test suites, and eventually "incremental canarying"), the article points out. The end result? "The entire gLinux development team consists of a single on-duty release engineer position that rotates among team members."

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$TWINKcoin: Hostess Releases a New Crypto-themed Twinkie

Sat, 2022-07-30 11:34
"There's a new cryptocurrency in town," quips SFGate. "But the only crash you'll experience with this one is from sugar." Inspired by the recent headlines and discussion around cryptocurrency, Hostess decided to capitalize by debuting their own edible investment: Enter $TWINKcoin, the latest limited-edition Twinkie iteration to hit shelves. "We saw an opportunity to release a new take on fan-favorite Hostess Twinkies, to create the best investment consumers can make to satisfy their snacking needs," a Hostess representative told Decrypt. "With more than 12,000 cryptocurrencies already in existence, $TWINKcoin is the first coin-shaped golden sponge cake of its kind. And, what's more, it's a currency with a stable value — it's always delicious!" Compositionally, $TWINKcoins are indistinguishable from original Twinkies, with the same dense cake and synthetic cream filling; but instead of the classic cylindrical mold, the pecuniary pastries are formed into coin-shaped discs.

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Prior to Invasion, Russian Agents May Have Infilitrated Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Site

Sat, 2022-07-30 10:34
Reuters investigated the strange thing that happened when Russia's invading armored vehicles reached Chernobyl, "a key staging post on the approach to Kyiv," on February 24th. "In less than two hours, and without a fight, the 169 members of the Ukrainian National Guard laid down their weapons." The fall of Chernobyl, site of the world's worst nuclear disaster, stands out as an anomaly in the five-month old war: a successful blitzkrieg operation in a conflict marked elsewhere by a brutal and halting advance by Russian troops and grinding resistance by Ukraine. Now a Reuters investigation has found that Russia's success at Chernobylwas no accident, but part of a long-standing Kremlin operation to infiltrate the Ukrainian state with secret agents.... One source with direct knowledge of the Kremlin's invasion plans told Reuters that Russian agents were deployed to Chernobyl last year to bribe officials and prepare the ground for a bloodless takeover. Reuters couldn't independently verify the details of this assertion. However, Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigation has said it is investigating a former top intelligence official, Andriy Naumov, on suspicion of treason for passing Chernobyl security secrets to a foreign state.... A review of Ukrainian testimony and court documents and an interview with a local official show that Kyiv is conducting at least three investigations into the conduct of people who worked at Chernobyl. The investigations have identified at least two people suspected of providing information to Russian agents or otherwise helping them seize the plant, according to these documents.... For Russia's war planners, seizing Chernobyl was just a stepping stone to the main objective: taking control of the Ukrainian national government in Kyiv. There, too, the Kremlin expected that undercover agents in positions of power would play a crucial part, according to four sources with knowledge of the plan. It's been said that journalism is a first draft of history. And Reuters is already wondering how this affected the invasion's ultimate outcome: Five people with knowledge of the Kremlin's preparations said war planners around President Vladimir Putin believed that, aided by these agents, Russia would require only a small military force and a few days to force Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's administration to quit, flee or capitulate.... At a national level, sources with knowledge of the Kremlin's plans said Moscow was counting on activating sleeper agents inside the Ukrainian security apparatus... Though Russia captured Chernobyl, its plan to take power in Kyiv failed. In many cases, the sleeper agents Moscow had installed failed to do their job, according to multiple sources in Russia and Ukraine.... People the Kremlin counted on as its proxies in Ukraine overstated their influence in the years leading up to the invasion, said four of the sources with knowledge of the Kremlin's preparations. The Kremlin relied in its planning on "clowns — they know a little bit, but they always say what the leadership wants to hear because otherwise they won't get paid," said one of the four, a person close to the Moscow-backed separatist leadership in eastern Ukraine. Putin now finds himself in a protracted, full-scale war, fighting for every inch of territory at huge cost.

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Analogue Releases Video Game From 1962 On the Pocket

Sat, 2022-07-30 09:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Today, Analogue announced that it's launching Spacewar!, a game originally designed for the PDP-1 minicomputer that predates Pong by a full decade, on the Pocket as a part of its larger strategy to bring pioneering video games into the modern era. The original Spacewar! was created in 1962 by a cadre of engineers led by Steve Russell at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Using a PDP-1 minicomputer and a 1024 x 1024 pixel CRT display, Russell and his colleagues programmed a game in which two spacecraft duke it out in the gravitational well of a star. Two controllers were created for the game featuring switches for maneuvering and buttons that were designed to be quiet when pressed so your opponent couldn't hear when you were firing missiles. To bring Spacewar! to the Analogue Pocket, Spacemen3, a third-party developer, used the source code from the PDP-1 computer and Spacewar! itself, both of which are in the public domain, alongside OpenFPGA software. Emulating 60-year-old software came with some interesting challenges. "The PDP-1 had some unique characteristics about it, having a 1024x1024 vector display with a unique way of generating the image," said Analogue CEO Chris Taber in an email to The Verge. "It was a bit tricky to accommodate this." Alex Cranz of The Verge had the opportunity to play Spacewar!: "Spacewar! looks a little different on the Analogue Pocket. Lines are crisp and clean with none of the ethereal glow the original green CRT provided. The AI for your opponent is nonexistent, but there's still something really fun about accelerating toward a star and then using its gravity to whip around it and take out another ship. Decades later, you still really feel like you're fighting some war in space."

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Nokia, AST SpaceMobile Join Forces For Broadband From Space

Sat, 2022-07-30 06:00
Nokia Oyj will provide equipment to connect AST SpaceMobile Inc. satellites to the global telecommunications network, creating a crucial link in a planned space-based broadband network designed to work with standard mobile phones, the companies said in a statement Thursday. Bloomberg reports: In addition to AirScale base stations, Espoo, Finland-based Nokia will provide its NetAct network management systems and technical support, the companies said. Terms of the five-year deal with Austin, Texas-based AST SpaceMobile weren't disclosed. AST's BlueWalker 3 test satellite, an array of antennas that measures 693 square feet (64 square meters), is planned for launch in early to mid-September. Eventually the network will consist of 168 satellites, the company told investors in a March 31 filing. With BlueWalker 3 aloft, AST plans to conduct testing on five continents in coordination with mobile network operators such as Vodafone Group Plc, Rakuten Mobile and Orange SA. AST and Nokia said the network is intended to offer connections to people and places without digital services. "Connectivity should be considered an essential service like water, electricity or gas," said Tommi Uitto, Nokia's president of mobile services. "Everyone should be able to have access to universal broadband services that will ensure that no one is left behind." Unlike the offerings from Elon Musk's SpaceX or OneWeb and Eutelsat, which recently announced plans to merge in the hopes of becoming a stronger competitor, is that SpaceMobile's service is designed to connect to "standard, unmodified cellular phones without the requirement of special software, ground terminals or hardware," says the company in its annual filing.

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Blast From Tonga Volcano In January Could Eat Away At Ozone Layer, Warm Earth

Sat, 2022-07-30 03:00
Nathaniel Scharping writes via Science Magazine: On 15 January, Tonga's Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano erupted under the sea, rocking the South Pacific nation and sending tsunamis racing around the world. The eruption was the most powerful ever recorded, causing an atmospheric shock wave that circled the globe four times, and sending a plume of debris more than 50 kilometers into the atmosphere. But it didn't stop there. The ash and gasses punching into the sky also shot billions of kilograms of water into the atmosphere, a new study concludes. That water will likely remain there for years, where it could eat away at the ozone layer and perhaps even warm Earth. In all, the plume shot approximately 146 billion kilograms of water into Earth's stratosphere, an arid layer of the atmosphere that begins several miles above sea level, the authors report this month in Geophysical Research Letters. That's equivalent to about 58,000 Olympic-size swimming pools, or about 10% of the entire water content of the stratosphere, [study co-author and JPL atmospheric scientist Luis Millan] says. Other volcanoes have added measurable amounts of water vapor to Earth's atmosphere, he says, but the scale this time was unprecedented. That's likely because of the eruption's magnitude and underwater location, he says. The water will probably remain in the stratosphere for half a decade or more, he says. Big volcanic eruptions often cool the climate, because the sulfur dioxide they release forms compounds that reflect incoming sunlight. But with so much water vapor flung aloft, the Tonga eruption could have a different impact. Water absorbs incoming energy from the Sun, making it a potent greenhouse gas. And the sulfur dioxide will dissipate in just a few years whereas the water will likely stick around for at least 5 years -- and potentially longer Millan thinks. That could make Earth warmer for years and accelerate the warming from greenhouse gasses, [says Matthew Toohey, a physicist who focuses on climate modeling and the effects of volcanic eruptions at the University of Saskatchewan and was not involved with the work]. "We'll kind of just jump forward by a few years." But the actual effects on climate will likely take time to understand [...]. High above Earth, the water will likely react with other chemicals, potentially degrading the ozone layer that protects us from ultraviolet light, and even changing the circulation of air currents that govern weather patterns.

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New Research Pins Baldness To a Single Chemical

Fri, 2022-07-29 23:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: A single chemical could be responsible for whether people go bald or not, a new study has found. In the UK, approximately two thirds of men will face male pattern baldness. The study says the discovery of the chemical could "not only treat baldness, but ultimately speed wound healing." In the study published in the Biophysical Journal, study co-author Qixuan Wang said: "In science fiction when characters heal quickly from injuries, the idea is that stem cells allowed it. In real life, our new research gets us closer to understanding stem cell behavior, so that we can control it and promote wound healing." The team looked at hair follicles as these are the only human organ that regenerates regularly and automatically, and discovered that a type of protein called TGF-beta controls how the stem cells in hair follicles divide and why some can die off. Wang explained: "TGF-beta has two opposite roles. It helps activate some hair follicle cells to produce new life, and later, it helps orchestrate apoptosis, the process of cell death. Even when a hair follicle kills itself, it never kills its stem cell reservoir. When the surviving stem cells receive the signal to regenerate, they divide, make new cell and develop into a new follicle." However, the scientists found that when a hair follicle dies, the stem cell reservoir still remains. "When the surviving stem cells receive the signal to regenerate, they divide, make new cells and develop into a new follicle," Wang said. The study authors added that it may be possible to stimulate hair growth by activating follicle stem cells, but more research on the subject needs to be done.

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Study Finds Wikipedia Influences Judicial Behavior

Fri, 2022-07-29 22:02
A new study attempts to measure how knowledge gleaned from Wikipedia may play out in one specific realm: the courts. MIT News reports: A team of researchers led by Neil Thompson, a research scientist at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), recently came up with a friendly experiment: creating new legal Wikipedia articles to examine how they affect the legal decisions of judges. They set off by developing over 150 new Wikipedia articles on Irish Supreme Court decisions, written by law students. Half of these were randomly chosen to be uploaded online, where they could be used by judges, clerks, lawyers, and so on -- the "treatment" group. The other half were kept offline, and this second group of cases provided the counterfactual basis of what would happen to a case absent a Wikipedia article about it (the "control"). They then looked at two measures: whether the cases were more likely to be cited as precedents by subsequent judicial decisions, and whether the argumentation in court judgments echoed the linguistic content of the new Wikipedia pages. It turned out the published articles tipped the scales: Getting a public Wikipedia article increased a case's citations by more than 20 percent. The increase was statistically significant, and the effect was particularly strong for cases that supported the argument the citing judge was making in their decision (but not the converse). Unsurprisingly, the increase was bigger for citations by lower courts -- the High Court -- and mostly absent for citations by appellate courts -- the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. The researchers suspect this is showing that Wikipedia is used more by judges or clerks who have a heavier workload, for whom the convenience of Wikipedia offers a greater attraction. "To our knowledge, this is the first randomized field experiment that investigates the influence of legal sources on judicial behavior. And because randomized experiments are the gold standard for this type of research, we know the effect we are seeing is causation, not just correlation," says Thompson, the lead author of the study. "The fact that we wrote up all these cases, but the only ones that ended up on Wikipedia were those that won the proverbial 'coin flip,' allows us to show that Wikipedia is influencing both what judges cite and how they write up their decisions." "Our results also highlight an important public policy issue," Thompson adds. "With a source that is as widely used as Wikipedia, we want to make sure we are building institutions to ensure that the information is of the highest quality. The finding that judges or their staffs are using Wikipedia is a much bigger worry if the information they find there isn't reliable." The paper describing the study has been published in " The Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Jurisprudence."

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Xbox 'Encouraged' Console Wars To Drive Competition, Former Exec Says

Fri, 2022-07-29 21:25
Former Xbox executive Peter Moore has said his team "encouraged the console wars" during his Xbox 360-era tenure -- as a way to drive competition between Microsoft and Sony. Eurogamer reports: This competition has helped the industry, Moore continued, and saw Microsoft continuing to commit to video games despite the Xbox 360's costly "Red Ring of Death" debacle. "We encouraged the console wars, not to create division, but to challenge each other," Moore said, speaking on the Front Office Sports podcast (thanks, IGN). "And when I say each other I mean Microsoft and Sony. "If Microsoft hadn't of stuck the course after the Xbox, after the Red Rings of Death, gaming would be a poorer place for it, you wouldn't have the competition you have today." Moore helped launch the Xbox 360, following years of service during the Dreamcast era at Sega. Memorably, he announced Halo 2's release date via a tattoo - though sources disagree on whether the stunt was faked. "If we didn't resolve Red Rings of Death the way that we did I know darn well there'd be no Xbox today," Moore continued, referencing the infamous circle of error lights which showed on failed Xbox 360 hardware. Estimates differ, though millions of consoles were believed to have been affected.

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Japan To Foster Startups By Sending 1,000 People To Silicon Valley

Fri, 2022-07-29 20:45
Industry minister Koichi Hagiuda said in the United States Wednesday that Japan plans to encourage startup businesses by sending 1,000 people to Silicon Valley over five years to provide them with valuable entrepreneurial experience in the California tech hub. Japan Today reports: The government aims to draw up a five-year plan by year-end to target a 10-fold increase in the number of startup companies as part of its push to drive economic growth through innovation and the cultivation of human talent. Hagiuda told reporters after his visit to the headquarters of technology giant Google LLC that he was very impressed by the mentality there in which there is no fear of failure, and that it is something Japan can learn. "Struck out swinging is considered (an experience) that can lead (people) to the next stage, here in America," Hagiuda said. The plan envisions sending 200 people from Japan to Silicon Valley annually starting in the new fiscal year that starts in April. It will expand a similar yet smaller program under which around 20 people have been sent there annually over the past seven years.Devoting more resources to startups is one of four pillars in the strategy Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has set out in pursuit of a new form of capitalism that focuses on growth through investment.

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Intel Lost Nearly $500 Million In Brutal Second Quarter

Fri, 2022-07-29 20:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Intel could really use a few bucks from the recently passed (by Congress, at least) $280 billion CHIPS and Science ACT. The U.S. chipmaker shocked investors on Thursday, revealing it lost nearly $500 million in Q2, its first quarterly loss in years. The company cited weakened demand for PC components and downturns in the broader economy as the main culprits for the declines. Overall, Intel's revenues were down 22% year over year. Those results have forced Intel to lower its expected yearly revenues down from $68 billion to $65 billion. Yikes. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said the results were "disappointing." "This quarter's results were below the standards we have set for the company and our shareholders," Gelsinger said. "We must and will do better. The sudden and rapid decline in economic activity was the largest driver, but the shortfall also reflects our own execution issues." He continued. "We are being responsive to changing business conditions, working closely with our customers while remaining laser-focused on our strategy and long-term opportunities. We are embracing this challenging environment to accelerate our transformation." In his prepared statements, Chief Financial Officer David Zinsner elaborated on the declines, saying a worse than expected covid-19 related downturn was partly responsible for declining consumer demand. On the economic side, Zinsner said a combination of rising inflation, higher interest rates, and downstream effects from the war in Ukraine hit the company particularly hard. "Due to the difficult macroeconomic environment together with our own execution challenges, our results for the quarter were well below expectations and necessitate a significant revision to our full-year financial guidance," Zinsner said. Now, Intel says it's planning to pass on some of that inflationary pricing to consumers. In statements first spotted by PC World, Zinsner reportedly confirmed the company's getting ready to hike prices for components, so you might want to buy any new Intel chips before the fourth quarter. While Zinsner didn't say how much prices will rise by, previous reports claim the company's considering increases of up to 20% for certain processors. "You know we can absorb a lot of inflationary impacts that others can't," Zinsner said, according to PC World. "But at this point now that some of the price increases, inflationary increases, have turned out to be more permanent, where there's a certain amount that we do need to pass on to the customers." "As we look beyond the near term, the semiconductor industry continues to be at the beginning of a new structural growth phase driven by four superpowers: ubiquitous compute, pervasive connectivity, cloud-to-edge infrastructure and AI," added Gelsinger. "What remains very clear, even during this period of uncertainty, is the growing importance of silicon to the global economy and to each of our daily lives."

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MIT, Autodesk Develop AI That Can Figure Out Confusing Lego Instructions

Fri, 2022-07-29 19:20
Researchers at Stanford University, MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, and the Autodesk AI Lab have collaborated to develop a novel learning-based framework that can interpret 2D instructions to build 3D objects. The Register reports: The Manual-to-Executable-Plan Network, or MEPNet, was tested on computer-generated Lego sets, real Lego set instructions and Minecraft-style voxel building plans, and the researchers said it outperformed existing methods across the board. Interpreting 2D instructions isn't easy for artificial intelligence. The researchers said there are a couple key problems going from visual instructions that, like Lego sets, consist entirely of images: Identifying correspondence between 2D and 3D objects, and dealing with a lot of basic pieces, like Lego. Basic Lego bricks, the researchers said, are often assembled into complex forms before being added to the main body of the model. This "increases the difficulty for machines to interpret Lego manuals: it requires inferring 3D poses of unseen objects composed of seen primitives," the researchers said. Existing methods of parsing manual steps into machine-executable plans mainly consist of two forms, the researchers said: Search-based methods that are simple and accurate but computationally expensive; and learning-based models that are fast but aren't very good at handling unseen 3D shapes. MEPNet, the researchers said, combines both. Starting with a 3D model of the components, the current state of the Lego set, and 2D manual images, MEPNet "predicts a set of 2D keypoints and masks for each component," the researchers wrote. Once that's done, the 2D keypoints "are back-projected to 3D by finding possible connections between the base shape and the new components." The combination "maintains the efficiency of learning-based models, and generalizes better to unseen 3D components," the team wrote. In the paper, the researchers said their aim is to create machines that help people assemble complex objects, and they include furniture alongside Lego bricks and voxel worlds in their list of applications. The researchers have made their code available on Github.

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Twitter Warns of 'Record Highs' In Account Data Requests

Fri, 2022-07-29 18:40
In Twitter's 20th transparency report, the company says it saw "record highs" in the number of account data requests during the July-December 2021 reporting period, with 47,572 legal demands on 198,931 accounts. Engadget reports: The media in particular faced much more pressure. Government demands for data from verified news outlets and journalists surged 103 percent compared to the last report, with 349 accounts under scrutiny. The largest slice of requests targeting the news industry came from India (114), followed by Turkey (78) and Russia (55). Governments succeeded in withholding 17 tweets. As in the past, US demands represented a disproportionately large chunk of the overall volume. The country accounted for 20 percent of all worldwide account info requests, and those requests covered 39 percent of all specified accounts. Russia is still the second-largest requester with 18 percent of volume, even if its demands dipped 20 percent during the six-month timeframe. The company said it was still denying or limiting access to info when possible. It denied 31 percent of US data requests, and either narrowed or shut down 60 percent of global demands. Twitter also opposed 29 civil attempts to identify anonymous US users, citing First Amendment reasons. It sued in two of those cases, and has so far had success with one of those suits. There hasn't been much success in reporting on national security-related requests in the US, however, and Twitter is still hoping to win an appeal that would let it share more details.

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Samsung's 'Repair Mode' Lets Technicians Look At Your Phone, Not Your Data

Fri, 2022-07-29 18:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Samsung is introducing an interesting new feature for people sending in their Galaxy phones for repair: "repair mode." When shipping off your phone, you might want to do something to protect your data, and the new feature sounds like a great solution. It locks down your data, but not your phone. [...] While in repair mode, technicians can still poke around in your device and test everything, but they'll only see the default apps with blank data. When you get your device back, you can re-authenticate and disable repair mode and you'll get all your data back. The feature was first spotted by SamMobile, and Samsung has so far only announced the feature in a Korean press release; it is first launching in Korea for the Galaxy S21 (the S22 is Samsung's latest flagship phone). Repair mode can be turned on from the settings menu, and Samsung says (through Google translate), "You won't be able to access your personal data, such as photos, messages, and accounts," and anyone with the phone will "only use the default installed apps." Repair mode can be exited the same way, though you'll need to authenticate with a pattern, pin, or fingerprint.

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The FDIC Has Had It With Crypto Companies Claiming It Insures Them

Fri, 2022-07-29 17:22
After admonishing crypto lender Voyager Digital for "false and misleading" statements on the subject, the FDIC said banks must ensure that crypto firms they partner with are clear about whether customer deposits are insured. From a report: In industry guidance published Friday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said insured banks should monitor that crypto firms they work with do not misrepresent the availability of deposit insurance and "should take appropriate action to address such misrepresentations." The notice comes a day after the FDIC and Federal Reserve demanded Voyager Digital correct what it called misrepresentations that suggested some of its customers were covered by federal insurance if the firm collapsed. When Voyager filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, its banking partner, Metropolitan Commercial Bank, issued a statement clarifying that FDIC insurance is available "only to protect against the failure of Metropolitan Commercial Bank," not Voyager. Metropolitan is holding about $350 million in customer funds, which Voyager has told customers will be released after the bank undergoes a fraud prevention process. Metropolitan is far from the only bank holding deposits on behalf of crypto companies, and now the FDIC wants to ensure customers are not further confused about how, or if, their assets are covered.

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Iran Ramps Up Drone Exports, Signaling Global Ambitions

Fri, 2022-07-29 16:44
Iran has made steady advances in the design and production of military drones in recent years, and has stepped up their transfer to militant groups across the Middle East as it seeks to shift the dynamics of battlefields from Yemen to Gaza. Those efforts have now extended far beyond the region. From a report: Iran is now seeking to build its global clout and sell increasingly sophisticated weapons-capable drones commercially to other nations, including those that have been subject to various sanctions in recent years, like Venezuela and Sudan, according to Iranian news media, satellite images and defense experts inside and outside Iran. That has provided an important source of funds and political influence for Iran, which is itself isolated and struggling under U.S. financial restrictions. Now, Russia may be a potential client. Washington said this month that it had intelligence that Moscow planned to purchase hundreds of drones from Iran to bolster its arsenal for the war in Ukraine. U.S. officials have urged Iran not to sell drones to Russia and warned of consequences for both countries. Iran's foreign ministry said in a statement that its military cooperation with Russia predated the war, without providing details, and its foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, said in an interview with the Italian daily La Repubblica in July that the country had no plans to provide military equipment to either side of the conflict.

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Metaverse Jobs Are Disappearing as Hiring Slows at Google, Facebook

Fri, 2022-07-29 16:05
Meta Platforms, grappling with its first-ever quarterly sales slump, now has another problem: Jobs in the metaverse are disappearing. From a report: New monthly job postings across all industries with "metaverse" in the title declined 81% between April and June, according to workplace researcher Revelio Labs, after surging in the months following Facebook's rebranding last fall. The dropoff coincides with a broader slowdown across the tech sector, which has prompted layoffs and hiring freezes, leaving workers from the Bay Area to Bangalore increasingly rattled. Job postings in tech hubs like San Francisco and Austin, Texas, dropped 8.4% in the past four weeks, according to job site Indeed. Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg's big bet on virtual reality and other nascent, immersive technologies encouraged companies of all stripes to look for experts in those fields, which may have created "short-lived hype from the demand side," Revelio Labs economist Jin Yan said. Now, as employers recalibrate their hiring needs and labor budgets amid growing concerns of a recession, that hype has come face to face with a sobering, and fully non-virtual, reality.

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Gaming Time Has No Link With Levels of Wellbeing, Study Finds

Fri, 2022-07-29 15:25
A study of 39,000 video gamers has found "little to no evidence" time spent playing affects their wellbeing. From a report: The average player would have to play for 10 hours more than usual per day to notice any difference, it found. And the reasons for playing were far more likely to have an impact. Well-being was measured by asking about life satisfaction and levels of emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger and frustration. The results contradict a 2020 study. Conducted by the same department at the Oxford Internet Institute -- but with a much smaller group of players -- the 2020 study had suggested that those who played for longer were happier. "Common sense says if you have more free time to play video games, you're probably a happier person," said Prof Andrew Przybylski, who worked on both studies. "But contrary to what we might think about games being good or bad for us, we found [in this latest study] pretty conclusive evidence that how much you play doesn't really have any bearing whatsoever on changes in well-being. "If players were playing because they wanted to, rather than because they felt compelled to, they had to, they tended to feel better."

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Facebook Approved Pro-Genocide Ads in Kenya

Fri, 2022-07-29 14:45
Kenya's national cohesion watchdog threatened to suspend Facebook from the country Friday if it doesn't mitigate hate speech ahead of the country's general elections next month. From a report: The regulator has given the company one week to remediate the problem, which included Facebook's approval of ads advocating for ethnic cleansing. Human rights organizations and the Facebook whistleblower are calling on Facebook to immediately suspend all advertising in Kenya and take other emergency steps. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), a Kenyan agency founded to mitigate ethnic violence and promote national healing in the wake of the 2007-08 post-election crisis, told reporters on Friday that Facebook was "in violation of the laws of our country."

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NJ Police Used Baby DNA To Investigate Crimes, Lawsuit Claims

Fri, 2022-07-29 14:06
New Jersey police may have used blood samples taken from babies to investigate crimes, according to public defenders in the state. From a report: According to a lawsuit filed by the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender (OPD), the practice came to light after a case in which New Jersey State Police successfully subpoenaed a testing lab for a blood sample drawn from a child. Police then performed DNA analysis on the blood sample that reportedly linked the child's father to a crime committed more than 25 years ago. The suspect then became a client of the OPD, which alerted the office to the techniques used to identify the man. The lawsuit, filed jointly by the OPD and the New Jersey Monitor, now seeks to compel the state of New Jersey to disclose information on the full extent of the practice. All babies born in the state of New Jersey are required to have a blood sample drawn within 48 hours as part of a mandatory testing program that screens them for 60 different disorders. These samples are processed in a state-run lab, which shares data with the state health authority and communicates results to parents. The blood samples are not directly shared with law enforcement agencies. But if police are able to reliably obtain the samples through subpoena, then effectively, the disease screening process is entering all babies born in the state into a DNA database with no ability to opt out.

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