Tech News Feed

Lyft Begins Offering Driverless Robotaxis on the Las Vegas Strip

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-08-20 14:58
A local news report called it "a futuristic dream, now a reality in Las Vegas: self-driving vehicles moving customers up and down the Las Vegas strip." Lyft's ride-hailing service now lets customers book Motional's all-electric (and autonomous driving) IONIQ 5. Not everyone's sold. "Love technology — love it, promote it — but we don't need to replace every human," said one person interviewed on the street. But "the digital wave continues to sweep Las Vegas," the newscast points out, with the car company's director of commercial fleet operations insisting it will ultimately make transportation more affordable, sustainable, and reliable. "We look at this as an opportunity to really show that robotaxis are the best way for people to get around," he says, noting Vegas drivers have to contend with lots of night-time driving, bright lights, unusually wide lanes and big intersections. The city once adopted the slogan "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," and some passengers might appreciate the extra privacy of a truly driverless vehicle. Passengers "for the time being, will be accompanied by two safety drivers in the event of an error," according to news reports, but that's expected to change soon: "Motional and Lyft have a clear path to widespread commercialization of Level 4 autonomous vehicles," said Karl Iagnemma, Motional's president and CEO. "We've led the industry in commercial operations for years, and today's launch signals we're on track to deliver a fully driverless service next year...." Upon arrival, riders who order the IONIQ 5 can unlock the doors to the vehicle using the Lyft mobile app. Once inside the vehicle, customers can start the ride or contact customer support by using the new in-car Lyft AV app [on a touchscreen for passengers]. By making these new features available now, despite the presence of the two safety drivers, Lyft hopes to solicit customer feedback and refine the new tools before the service goes fully driverless in 2023. Lyft and Motional have been piloting autonomous rides in other vehicles in Las Vegas since 2018, with more than 100,000 autonomous rides provided thus far, over 95% of which have received five-star ratings, according to the companies. Feedback gathered on the new IONIQ 5 autonomous vehicle over the coming months will help to inform Lyft's launch of fully driverless e-hail trips in Las Vegas sometime next year. After that, the company plans to expand the driverless, e-hail service to various other markets throughout the country.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Scientists may have found an affordable way to destroy forever chemicals

Engadget - Sat, 2022-08-20 14:57

A team of scientists may have found a safe and affordable way to destroy “forever chemicals.” PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are found in many household items, including non-stick Teflon pans and dental floss. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, at least 12,000 such substances exist today. They all share one common feature between them: a carbon-fluorine backbone that is one of the strongest known bonds in organic chemistry. It’s what gives PFAS-treated cookware its non-stick quality. However, that same characteristic can make those substances harmful to humans.

Since they’re so durable from a molecular perspective, PFAS can stay in soil and water for generations. Scientists have shown that prolonged exposure to them can lead to an increased risk of some cancers, reduced immunity and developmental effects on children. Researchers have spent years trying to find a way to destroy the carbon-fluorine bond that makes PFAS so stubborn, but a breakthrough could be in sight.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, a group of chemists from UCLA, Northwestern University and China found that a mixture of sodium hydroxide, a chemical used in lye, and an organic solvent called dimethyl sulfoxide was effective at breaking down a large subgroup of PFAS known as perfluoro carboxylic acids or PFCAs. When lead author Brittany Trang heated the mixture between 175 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit (about 79 to 121 degrees Celsius), it began breaking down the bonds between the PFAS molecules. After a few days, the mixture can even reduce any fluorine byproducts into harmless molecules. The sodium hydroxide is part of what makes the mixture so potent. It bonds with PFAS molecules after the dimethyl sulfoxide softens them and hastens their breakdown.

Professor William Dichtel, one of the study's co-authors, told The New York Times there’s a lot of work to be done before the solution works outside the lab. There’s also the enormity of the problem. In February, scientists estimated that humans are putting approximately 50,000 tons of PFAS chemicals into the atmosphere every year. Another recent study found that rainwater everywhere on Earth is unsafe to drink due to the ubiquity of those substances. However, scientists are understandably excited about Trang’s discovery since it may help researchers find other novel ways to destroy PFAS.

2022 Lamborghini Urus Performante Looks Angrier Than Ever - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-20 13:50
More wings and more power mean more Lambo.

Hackers Are Stealing Session Cookies To Bypass Multi-factor Authentication

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-08-20 13:34
Slashdot reader storagedude writes: Hackers are stealing cookies from current or recent web sessions to bypass multi-factor authentication (MFA), according to an eSecurity Planet report. The attack method, reported by Sophos researchers, is already growing in use. The "cookie-stealing cybercrime spectrum" is broad, the researchers wrote, ranging from "entry-level criminals" to advanced adversaries, using various techniques. Cybercriminals collect cookies or buy stolen credentials "in bulk" on dark web forums. Ransomware groups also harvest cookies and "their activities may not be detected by simple anti-malware defenses because of their abuse of legitimate executables, both already present and brought along as tools," the researchers wrote. Browsers allow users to maintain authentication, remember passwords and autofill forms. That might seem convenient, but attackers can exploit this functionality to steal credentials and skip the login challenge. Behind the scenes, browsers use SQLite database files that contain cookies. These cookies are composed of key-value pairs, and the values often contain critical information such as tokens and expiration dates. Adversaries know the exact name and location of these files for all major browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and even Brave, on various operating systems. That's why the attack can be scripted. It's not uncommon to find such scripts along with other modules in info-stealing and other malware. For example, the latest version of the Emotet botnet targets cookies and credentials stored by browsers, which include saved credit cards. According to the Sophos researchers, "Google's Chrome browser uses the same encryption method to store both multi-factor authentication cookies and credit card data." To gain initial access, attackers can also perform phishing and spear-phishing campaigns to implant droppers that can deploy cookie-stealer malware stealthily. The cookies are then used for post-exploitation and lateral movements. Cybercriminals can use them to change passwords and emails associated with user accounts, or trick the victims into downloading additional malware, or even deploy other exploitation tools such as Cobalt Strike and Impacket kit. Users should not use built-in features to save passwords unless the browser encrypts them with, at least, a master password. It's recommended that users uncheck the setting called "remember passwords," and users should probably not allow persistent sessions as well. Developers can be part of the problem if they don't secure authentication cookies properly. Such cookies must have a short expiration date. Otherwise, the persistent authentication could turn into a persistent threat. You can have great security processes and still get hacked because the cookies do not have the necessary flags (e.g., HttpOnly, Secure attribute). For example, authentication cookies must be sent using SSL/TLS channels. Otherwise the data could be sent in plain text and attackers would only have to sniff traffic to intercept credentials.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Save up to $1,000 on Classic, Contemporary Furniture and Accessories at Burrow - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-20 12:47
Snuggle in with Burrow during the company's sitewide Labor Day Sale and enjoy the simple serenity of midcentury modern and contemporary styles for less.

Apple Demands Employees Return to Office At Least Three Days a Week

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-08-20 12:34
"On Monday, Apple told employees at its headquarters in Cupertino, California, that they would have to return to the office at least three days a week by September 5," according to a columnist for Inc. First reported by Bloomberg, Tim Cook told employees in an email that they would be expected to be in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with teams choosing a third day that works best for them... Apple SVP of software Craig Federighi followed up Cook's email with one of his own, saying that he "can't wait to experience the special energy of having all of us back in the office together again!" That's great, but I imagine a lot of the people who work in the software organization are wondering whether that "special energy" actually makes them more productive, or if it's just a thing managers feel as they watch employees be productive at their desks... [T]hat's not the same thing as actual collaboration. Here's the article's main point: [M]any companies — especially Apple — had their best two years ever when most of their employees were working from home. If anything, it seems as though the evidence pointing to the idea that it was better for the company.... Apple's market cap in March 2020 was $1.1 trillion. Today, it's just shy of three times that.... [I]t's as if Apple hasn't learned anything. Apple's memo did say that some employees — "depending on your role" — would have the option of working fully remotely "for up to four weeks a year."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Save $300 on a 14-inch Chromebook From HP, Bringing the Price to Just $399 - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-20 12:06
Back to school or back to office, both can benefit from this impressive 2-in-1.

Amazon Has Slashed Prices on Fire Tablets by as Much as 44% - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-20 12:06
Take advantage of additional savings on these budget-friendly tablets so you can stream, game and browse the web for less.

Porsche Pays Tribute to Carrera RS 2.7 With New 911 GT3 RS - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-20 12:00
This show car previews an upcoming limited-edition model.

'Jurassic World Dominion' heads to Peacock on September 2nd

Engadget - Sat, 2022-08-20 11:59

Jurassic World Dominion will begin streaming on September 2nd, Peacock announced on Friday. The service will host two versions of the film. In addition to the original theatrical cut, fans can watch an extended edition that is 14 minutes longer and includes an alternate opening. If you weren’t a fan of the latest movie, Peacock is also adding Jurassic Park, The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3. All three films will arrive on September 1st.

As The Verge points out, Dominion’s move to Peacock isn’t a surprise. At the end of last year, NBCUniversal said the “majority” of its films would appear on the streaming service, with most making the jump as little as 45 days after their theatrical debut. By September 2nd, it will have been 84 days since Dominion debuted in theaters. The longer wait probably has something to do with Dominion being the year's second highest-grossing film.

2023 Kia EV6 GT Is Ready to Roast Some Tires - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-20 11:50
576 horsepower in a small electric hatchback sounds like a hoot.

Ubuntu Upgrades Now Arrive with a Simple Prompt (and Security Fixes)

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-08-20 11:34
"After a slight delay due to an installer issue, the first point release for Ubuntu 22.04 has been officially released," swrites Jack Wallen for TechRepublic. "Although point releases are often overlooked by users, because they aren't major upgrades, this time around you should certainly run the upgrade immediately." The biggest reason is that this point release combines all of the security fixes and improvements that have been added since the initial release of Jammy Jellyfish. So, if you haven't bothered to upgrade Ubuntu 22.04 since you first installed it, which you should have been doing all along, this point upgrade will add everything you've missed in one fell swoop. One of the biggest upgrades for end users will be the ability of 20.04 users to upgrade to the latest release without having to touch the command line. At some point, users of 20.04 will see an upgrade prompt on their desktops, allowing them to easily make the jump to 22.04.1. This is a big deal because previously such upgrades would have required running several commands. That means no more: sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get upgrade -y sudo apt-get dist-upgrade -y sudo do-release-upgrade -y Another point release found in 22.04.1 is GNOME 42, which features a new enhanced dark mode and switches to Wayland by default, with the inclusion of Xorg for unsupported hardware.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Semiconductor Makers Scramble to Support New Post-Quantum Cryptography Standard

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-08-20 10:34
IoT Times brings an update on "the race to create a new set of encryption standards." Last month, it was announced that a specialized security algorithm co-authored by security experts of NXP, IBM, and Arm had been selected by the U.S. Government's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to become part of an industry global standard designed to counter quantum threats. IoT Times interviews the cryptography expert who co-created the Crystals-Kyber lattice-based algorithm selected by NIST — Joppe W. Bos, a senior principal cryptographer at the Competence Center for Cryptography and Security at NXP Semiconductors. And what worries his colleagues at the semiconductor company isn't the "imminent threat of quantum computers," Bos says, but an even closer and more practical deadline: "the timeline for these post-quantum crypto standards." "Two weeks ago, NIST announced the winners of these new public standards, the post-quantum crypto standards, and their timeline is that in 2024, so in roughly two years, the winners will be converted into standards. And as soon as the standards are released, our customers will expect NXP Semiconductors, as one of the leaders in crypto and security, to already have support for these standards, because we are, of course, at the start of the chain for many end products. Our secure elements, our secure platforms, SOCs, are one of the first things that need to be integrated into larger platforms that go into end products. Think about industrial IoT. Think about automotive applications. So, our customers already expect us to support post-quantum crypto standards in 2024, and not only support but, for many companies, being able to compute the functional requirements of the standard. "It took over ten years to settle down on the best methods for RSA and ECC, and now we have a much shorter timeline to get ready for post-quantum crypto." "When you ask the experts, it ranges from one to five decades until we can see quantum computers big enough to break our current crypto," Bos says in the interview. So he stresses that they're not driven by a few of quantum computers. "The right question to ask, at least for us at NXP is, when is this new post-quantum crypto standard available? Because then, our customers will ask for post-quantum support, and we need to be ready. "The standard really drives our development and defines our roadmap." But speaking of the standard's "functional requirements", in the original story submission Slashdot reader dkatana raised an interesting point. There's already billions of low-powered IoT devices in the world. Will they all have the memory and processing power to use this new lattice-based encryption?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Recommended Reading: Productivity surveillance

Engadget - Sat, 2022-08-20 10:00
The rise of the worker productivity score

Jodi Kantor and Arya Sundaram, The New York Times

Imagine if your employer only paid you for the hours you were actively working on your computer. Time spent on the phone, doing tasks on paper or reading isn't part of your compensation since your job can't track those things with monitoring software. It's no far-fetched scenario — it's already happening. Companies are tracking, recording and ranking employees in the name of efficiently and accountability. And as you read this piece, a simulation shows you what it's like to be monitored. 

Social media was a CEO’s bullhorn, and how he lured women

Karen Weise, The New York Times

Weise writes about Dan Price, the former CEO of a payment processing company who used his social media persona to "bury a troubled past."  

Harlan Band’s descent started with an easy online Adderall prescription

Rolfe Winkler, The Wall Street Journal

A 29-year-old man sought help from online mental-health startup Done, a company that "prescribes stimulants like Adderall in video calls as short as 10 minutes." Band was already in recovery and lax patient monitoring didn't keep adequate tabs on him. Done advertises on social platforms, "promoting a one-minute ADHD assessment ahead of its 30-minute evaluations" before charging "a $79 monthly service fee for 'worry-free refills' and clinician responses to questions."

Elon Musk is reportedly considering investment in Neuralink's rival brain chip company

Engadget - Sat, 2022-08-20 09:40

Neuralink, a company co-founded by Elon Musk, has been working on an implantable brain–machine interface since 2016. While it previously demonstrated its progress by showing a Macaque monkey controlling the cursor in a game of Pong, it has yet to start human trials. Now, according to Reuters, Musk has reached out to rival company Synchron in recent weeks to discuss a potential investment. 

It's unclear what kind of deal Musk has offered — whether it's a collaboration or a financial investment —since none of the players responded or confirmed the report with the news organization. Reuters' sources also said that a deal isn't certain and that Synchron has yet to decide whether to accept Musk's offer. Apparently, the executive approached Synchron CEO after expressing his frustration to Neuralink staff over the company's slow progress. 

Neuralink announced way back in 2019 that it would seek approval for human trials in 2020. In January of this year, the company started looking for a clinical trial director who would oversee the testing of its medical device on human subjects. However, that has yet to happen, and the FDA has yet to reveal how far along Neuralink is in the process of securing its approval. 

Meanwhile, Synchron announced in July that it had implanted its brain-computer interface into the motor cortex of a human patient in the US for the first time. Doctors in New York's Mount Sinai West did so as part of the company's COMMAND trial, which is aiming to examine the safety of Synchron's implant in patients with severe paralysis. The company also completed a study in Australia, wherein four people were determined to still be safe even after a year with its implant.

Like Neuralink, Synchron is also hoping to provide people with limited mobility the ability to control devices like smartphones and computers with their minds. That will give them the independence to email, text and do various digital tasks. Earlier this year, Max Hodak, the Neuralink co-founder who left the company in 2021, revealed that he took on an advisory role with Synchron. He also financially invested in the company "given [his] excitement for what they're doing."

It's worth noting, though, that Musk reportedly held discussions with other Neuralink rivals in the past. Reuters says he also approached brain-machine interface developer Paradromics in 2020, but those talks were ultimately abandoned. 

Range Rover SV Carmel Edition Comes With Custom Golf Clubs - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-20 09:11
Land Rover will dedicate proceeds from each purchase to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

‘Running with the Devil’ offers an unpleasant glimpse at the ‘real’ John McAfee

Engadget - Sat, 2022-08-20 09:00

The following article discusses the themes explored in the documentary, which includes substance abuse, mental health, gun violence and suicide.

We all know, or knew, that guy. Not in your social circle, but known nonetheless; someone’s older brother, cousin or drinking buddy. Whenever they had a captive audience they tell you tales of their exploits when they’re not kicking around suburban Lowestoft. In between puffs of cigarette smoke and the cheapest whiskey available, they’ll say they tried to join the army, but the recruitment people told them they were just too brilliant to waste in an infantry unit. Or they are an off-duty bodyguard who was lying low because The Mafia was looking for them (don’t ask why, shut up). Or that they had just signed a contract to replace The Undertaker at The Wrestling™ and would be jetting off to the US in the near future. The intensity of their testimony may, for a brief second, sucker you in, but you’ll soon realize that these people are more Walter Mitty than Walter White. Now imagine what that guy would look like if they’d been handed $100 million, and you’ll get a fairly decent pen portrait of John McAfee in his later years.

Running with the Devil: The wild world of John McAfee is a new documentary, arriving on Netflix on August 24th. It harnesses footage from the lost, unreleased Vice documentary On The Run with John McAfee, as well as film McAfee commissioned himself. It attempts to chronicle the life of the antivirus software pioneer from when he was named as a person of interest following the death of his neighbor Gegory Faull in Belize, through to his death in 2021. McAfee would spend his last decade on the run from pursuers, both real and imaginary, become embroiled in a cryptocurrency scam, try to run for US president (twice) and loudly declare that he refused to pay his taxes, which attracted the attention of the IRS. Arrested in Spain on charges of tax evasion, he died by suicide in his prison cell.

Devil is broken into three rough parts, each told from the perspective of the people in McAfee’s orbit at the time. Part one focuses on then-Vice editor-in-chief Rocco Castoro and legendary photojournalist Robert King, who accompanied McAfee on his escape to Guatemala. Part Two covers McAfee’s backstory and his relationship with ghostwriter Alex Cody Foster, with whom he sat for a series of interviews. Part Three shows how McAfee would eventually reconnect with Robert King, and asked him to become his personal biographer as he sailed on his yacht, mostly around South America. The footage is interspersed with commentary from McAfee’s partners, as well as Foster, Castoro and King.

Something that’s clear from both the footage and the contributors is that McAfee was obsessed with truth, but not always as you or I would understand it. There are several times when he fixates upon his legacy, his reputation, his image, his story and how he would be perceived. And yet the story was malleable, the facts unclear, and his behavior erratic – while on the run, he would buy a disguise and then proudly tell everyone in the store his name, and pose for photographs. McAfee’s behavior mirrors the cult leader who’s gone all-in on the grand deception, both in his use of charm, and his propensity for violence. More than once he’s pictured or discussed pointing a gun at friends and allies for what feels like nothing more than the pleasure of being a bully, or at least to remind everyone who had the power.

If you’re looking for some sort of truth, or grand coherent narrative to help you grasp who John McAfee was, however, you won’t get it here. That’s not a criticism of the documentary – McAfee loved to hint about who he was without ever saying it out loud, and always muddying his own water. There are scenes where he implies he is responsible for the death of both his abusive father and Faull, but never to anyone’s satisfaction. But it’s similarly clear that much of his bravado disappears when he’s faced with real consequences for his actions. Much is made, too, of his substance abuse, which seems to have supercharged his paranoia and delusional thinking.

 The Wild World of John McAfee. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Much of the footage shot by King is low-res, untreated first-person digital video, although there’s little shakycam here. It instantly dates the footage back to the start of the last decade, and sets the scene perfectly given the turn-of-the-millennium anxieties it creates. It works here, too, because it captures the unpleasant stale air in rooms that haven’t had their windows opened for too long. Rooms scattered with dirt and loose tobacco flakes, a half-empty whiskey bottle resting on its side next to some bath salts and a loaded handgun. It helps capture the smallness of the man in his decline, especially as he rages against not the dying of the light, but to the world’s seeming indifference. I imagine that anyone trying to dock a yacht in a foreign country with a cadre of automatic weapons and mercenaries on board would be greeted with a frosty reception from the local police. But, for McAfee, it’s all part of the grand conspiracy the world has contorted around him, and it’s sad. But you can’t feel too much sympathy for him given the trail of destruction left in his wake, and there’s little closure offered for his victims here.

If there’s one thing I wish the film did better, it’s helping the audience keep track of who, and where, everyone is at each point. I’m not always a fan of documentaries with hand-holding narrators, but this is the sort of film that really needs you to have Wikipedia to hand. That’s not to say it’s not worth watching, both if you knew of McAfee or if the original saga had passed you by. But if it lacks something, it’s enough of a sense of place and time to help you keep track of all of the things that McAfee was up to, and when.

It’s funny, several of my colleagues met with McAfee over the years – including this Engadget Show segment back in 2013. (Back then, McAfee said that he was parodying and leaning in to his insalubrious reputation while he made his viral videos. The documentary makes it clear that there was perhaps more truth than he was prepared to admit.) I’d even walked past McAfee several times at CES, often sitting alone in a sparsely-attended corner of one of the smaller show halls. I often wondered if I should go and speak to him, but there was something of the That Guy even when he was ostensibly on his best behavior. I could imagine him clamping his hand on my shoulder, fixing me with his dark eyes and spinning a fresh bewitching tale of mystery and intrigue, although as it turns out, the truth was probably wilder.

AirTag Leads To Arrest of Airline Worker Accused of Stealing $15K Worth of Items From Luggage

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-08-20 09:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: An Apple AirTag led to the arrest of an airline subcontractor accused of stealing thousands of dollars' worth of items from luggage at a Florida airport. Giovanni De Luca, 19, was charged with two counts of grand theft after authorities recovered the stolen items from his home, the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office said in a news release last week. Authorities said a traveler reported last month that her luggage never made it to her destination. The items inside were worth about $1,600. She said an Apple AirTag, a tracking device that triggers alerts on iPhones, iPads and Apple computers, had been in her luggage and showed that it was on Kathy Court in Mary Esther, about 50 miles east of Pensacola. On Aug. 9, another traveler reported that more than $15,000 worth of jewelry and other items had been taken from his luggage. Okaloosa County sheriff's deputies investigating both suspected thefts cross-referenced Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport employees who lived near Kathy Court and found De Luca at his home. He was arrested Aug. 10. The items reported missing on Aug. 9 were recovered, and De Luca admitted to rummaging through someone else's luggage and removing an Apple AirTag, the sheriff's office said. The woman's luggage has not been found.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New DeLorean Unveiled and Here's Our First Look - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-20 08:00
The Delorean Alpha5 is electric, curvaceous and up against a tidal wave of new electric luxury cars.

36 Hours on a Train: Spectacular Views, Tight Quarters and Limited Internet - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-08-20 08:00
US passenger train travel is no longer popular, but you're really missing out. Here's what it's like to take your time getting to your destination.