Tech News Feed

EU tells Google to delist Russian state media websites from search

Engadget - Thu, 2022-03-10 05:44

The European Commission has sent Google a request to remove Russian state media results for searches performed in countries within the EU. As The Washington Post reports, Google has uploaded a letter from EU officials to a database of government requests. In it, the officials explain how the commission's official order to ban the broadcast of RT and Sputnik in the European Union also applies to search engines and internet companies in general.

If you'll recall, the commission issued a ban on the state media outlets a few days after Russia's invasion of Ukraine began. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said back then that by doing so, the outlets "will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin's war." While it wasn't quite clear how the order applies to internet companies, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok promptly restricted access to RT and Sputnik across Europe. Google also announced its own restrictions, but only for the outlets' YouTube channels.

In the letter Google has uploaded, officials explained that search engines play a major role in disseminating content and that if the company doesn't delist the outlets, it would facilitate the public's access to them. Part of the letter reads:

"The activity of search engines plays a decisive role in the overall dissemination of content in that it renders the latter accessible to any internet user making a search on the basis of the content indication or related terms, including to internet users who otherwise would not have found the web page on which that content is published...Consequently, if search engines such as Google did not delist RT and Sputnik, they would facilitate the public's access to the content of RT and Sputnik, or contribute to such access. 

It follows from the foregoing that by virtue of the Regulation, providers of Internet search services must make sure that i) any link to the Internet sites of RT and Sputnik and ii) any content of RT and Sputnik, including short textual descriptions, visual elements and links to the corresponding websites do not appear in the search results delivered to users located in the EU."

Google didn't return The Post's request for comment, but the publication says a search conducted within the EU didn't bring up links for "Russia Today." RT links still showed up for us, however, when we conducted searches using Google Austria and France. 

The letter also said that the order applies to "posts made by individuals that reproduce the content of RT and Sputnik" — for example, screenshots of articles from those outlets — and that social networks must delete those posts if they get published. That could create a deluge of additional work for social media websites already struggling to moderate content posted by their users. According to The Post, though, the actual sanctions law doesn't define the order in the way that's written in the letter, so the officials' interpretation could be challenged in court. 

Azure Pulls In Front of AWS In Public Cloud Adoption

SlashDot - Thu, 2022-03-10 05:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: Microsoft Azure has nosed ahead of AWS in the public cloud adoption stakes, according to a report from IT Management outfit Flexera. The 2022 State of the Cloud Report survey will have brought smiles to the teams at Redmond and Amazon, and less cheer to Oracle's cloud crew, which continued to languish in fourth place behind Google. The key takeaway on the Azure front is its leadership with enterprise users, with 80 percent of respondents adopting Microsoft's public cloud, up from 76 percent the previous year. This was just ahead of AWS, which claimed a 77 percent adoption rate, down from 79 percent a year earlier. Some way behind was Google, with 48 percent, followed by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, which tumbled to 27 percent from 32 percent a year ago. The report indicates Azure is ahead of AWS for breadth of adoption, although Google has the highest percentage for experimentation (at 23 percent). There was some cause for optimism at Oracle with the highest percentage (12 percent) planning to use its cloud, meaning there is every chance its showing in the survey could improve in the coming years. "AWS is still leading the SMB public cloud pack, although it still experienced a slight drop in adoption rate, from 72 percent to 69 percent while Azure jumped from 48 percent to 59 percent," notes The Register. "Oracle also saw strong growth, nearly doubling its adoption rate from 15 percent to 28 percent year on year." The survey also reported an increase in wasted cloud spend. According to The Register, "respondents estimated their organizations wasted 32 percent of the cloud spend this time around, up from 30 percent the previous year."

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'Valkyrie Elysium' is an action-RPG sequel to PS1's 'Valkyrie Profile'

Engadget - Thu, 2022-03-10 04:30

Square Enix is dipping into its back catalog with the launch of Valkyrie Elysium, a new instalment in the Valkyrie Profile series that first appeared on the original PlayStation in 1999. Announced during Sony's latest State of Play livestream yesterday, the action-RPG is set to arrive in 2022 on the PlayStation 4, PS5 and Windows PCs. 

"You play as a Valkyrie who is entrusted with the fate of this world by the All-Father — the highest among gods and the ruler of all creation," the description states. "Descending to the land below, you must battle powerful foes, and uncover the secrets behind the impending ruin."

The game will feature "fast-paced combat using a variety of weapons," along with magic abilities. It will use aspects from past Valkyrie games like finishing moves and combos, along with a "brand new real-time action combat system that rewards both fast reactions and strategic thinking," Square Enix said. 

The developer is Soleil Ltd (Samurai Jack), with music from composer Motoi Sakuraba (Dark Souls) and character design courtesy of Yuya Nagai from CyDesignation (NieR Re[in]carnation). The most recent game in the series is Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin, a mobile title from 2016. Other sequels include Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria for PS2 and Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume on DS.

TikTok's SoundOn platform lets musicians directly share their own tracks

Engadget - Thu, 2022-03-10 03:05

TikTok now has its own music distribution platform. The social network has launched SoundOn, which allows artists to upload their music directly to TikTok and to distribute it to various music streaming services. ByteDance, the app's parent company, won't be charging artists any distribution or transaction fees. Artists will get 100 percent of their royalties for an unlimited time when TikTok creators use their music for their videos, as well as for whatever they earn on ByteDance's music streaming service Resso.

For other streaming services that include Apple Music, Spotify and Pandora, artists will get 100 percent of their royalties in the first year and then 90 percent in the years after that. As TechCrunch reports, other similar music distribution platforms charge subscription fees or charge for distribution while paying out 100 percent in royalties to artists. 

SoundOn users will be able to choose which streaming services they want to upload their music to. They'll also get access to audience insights, advice from the SoundOn marketing team and promotional support from TikTok. They'll get verified on TikTok, as well, and other users will see their profile under the song page for their tracks. As noted on SoundOn's FAQ page, artists will get to keep all the rights to their music, and they're not expected to use the platform exclusively.

TikTok already has a massive effect on the music industry, thanks to viral videos on the app that tend to use the same catchy tunes. The SoundOn platform, which could potentially expand TikTok's influence even further on today's music landscape, is now live in the US, UK, Brazil and Indonesia, and musicians in those regions can visit its website to register.

NASA Is Opening a Vacuum-Sealed Sample It Took From the Moon 50 Years Ago

SlashDot - Thu, 2022-03-10 02:00
Scientists at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston are preparing to open the first tube that one of the astronauts on the Apollo missions hammered into the surface of the moon. As NPR reports, it's "remained tightly sealed all these years since that 1972 Apollo 17 mission -- the last time humans set foot on the moon." From the report: The unsealed tube from that mission was opened in 2019. The layers of lunar soil had been preserved, and the sample offered insight into subjects like landslides in airless places. Because the sample being opened now has been sealed, it may contain something in addition to rocks and soil: gas. The tube could contain substances known as volatiles, which evaporate at normal temperatures, such as water ice and carbon dioxide. The materials at the bottom of the tube were extremely cold at the time they were collected. The amount of these gases in the sample is expected to be very low, so scientists are using a special device called a manifold, designed by a team at Washington University in St. Louis, to extract and collect the gas. Another tool was developed at the European Space Agency (ESA) to pierce the sample and capture the gases as they escape. Scientists there have called that tool the "Apollo can opener." The careful process of opening and capturing has begun, and so far, so good: the seal on the inner sample tube seems to be intact. Now, the piercing process is underway, with that special "can opener" ready to trap whatever gases might come out. If there are gases in the sample, scientists will be able to use modern mass spectrometry technology to identify them. (Mass spectrometry is a tool for analyzing and measuring molecules.) The gas could also be divided into tiny samples for other researchers to study.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple's 5K Studio Display should support Windows, including the webcam and speakers

Engadget - Thu, 2022-03-10 01:52

Apple's new 27-inch 5K Studio Display — including its 12-megapixel webcam and fancy speakers — should work just fine with Windows PCs, Apple has told The Verge. However, certain features enabled by the monitor's built-in A13 Bionic processor will only function on Macs, Apple said.

There was never much doubt that the display itself would function on a PC, but the resolution may depend on your PC configuration. In effect, you'll need a graphics card with compatible Thunderbolt or USB-C ports and support for 5K or higher resolution (most modern GPUs have these features).

The status of the webcam was not very clear, though. According to Apple's Studio Display web page, "camera features and firmware updates require a connection to a Mac." However, an Apple spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that the camera should work like a normal USB webcam when plugged into a PC. 

One "camera feature" that won't work on a PC though, is Center Stage. On a Mac, that feature uses digital zoom to keep the subject or subjects in the frame, even if they move around. Other features enabled by the A13 chip, like Spatial Audio and "Hey Siri," are also unavailable on Windows computers, the spokesperson said. 

At $1,600, the Studio display is pretty expensive for a 27-inch display, especially if you get it with the ridiculously overpriced height adjustment bracket. On the plus side, it does look nice and and the 12-megapixel webcam and high-end speakers add a lot of value. If that's not important, you could get a 32-inch 4K display with similar specs for far less money.

'Survivor' Season 42 Premiere Recap: Fake Blood, Taro Roots and an Epic Dragon Idol - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-03-10 00:18
Let's dive into everything that happened in the bonkers season premiere.

2023 Ram Promaster Brings the Elbow Grease - Roadshow

CNET News - Thu, 2022-03-10 00:01
This full-size van features a sweet roll-up door as an option.

'The Adam Project' Review: 'Flight of the Navigator' for the Marvel Generation - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-03-10 00:00
Time travelers Ryan Reynolds, Zoe Saldana and Mark Ruffalo star in Netflix's frothy but heartfelt family romp.

Bringing Back Extinct Creatures May Be Impossible

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-03-09 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science.org: An extinct rat that once lived on an island in the Indian Ocean may have put the kibosh on scientists' dreams of resurrecting more famous extinct animals like the woolly mammoth. The Christmas Island rat disappeared just over 100 years ago, but researchers now say even its detailed genome isn't complete enough to bring it back to life. The work "shows both how wonderfully close -- and yet -- how devastatingly far" scientists are from being able to bring back extinct species by genetically transforming a close relative in what's called "de-extinction," says Douglas McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who was not involved with the study. [...] To bring back an extinct species, scientists would first need to sequence its genome, then edit the DNA of a close living relative to match it. Next comes the challenge of making embryos with the revised genome and bringing them to term in a living surrogate mother. So far, scientists have sequenced the genomes of about 20 extinct species, including a cave bear, passenger pigeon, and several types of mammoths and moas. But no one has yet reported re-creating the extinct genome in a living relative. In the new study, Tom Gilbert, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Copenhagen, thought it best to start small. "If we want to try something so crazy, why not start with a simple model," he reasoned. So, he, Jian-Qing Lin, a molecular biologist at Shantou University, and their colleagues, focused on the Christmas Island rat (Rattus macleari), which disappeared by 1908 from that island, located about 1200 kilometers west of Australia. This species "should be a dreamy candidate for de-extinction," McCauley says, given its close relationship with the Norway rat, a well-studied lab animal with a complete genome sequence that scientists already know how to modify. Gilbert and Lin extracted DNA from the skins of two preserved Christmas Island rats and sequenced it many times over to get as much of the genome as possible. They achieved more than 60 times' coverage of it. Old DNA only survives in small fragments, so the team used the genome of the Norway rat as a reference to piece together as much as possible of the vanished rat's genome. Comparing the two genomes revealed almost 5% of the Christmas Island rat's genome was still missing, Lin, Gilbert, and their colleagues report today in Current Biology. The lost sequences included bits of about 2500 of the rat's estimated 34,000 genes. "I was surprised," Gilbert says. The recovered DNA included the genes for the Christmas Island rat's characteristic rounded ears, for example, but important immune system and olfaction genes were either missing or incomplete. The work "really highlights the difficulties, maybe even the ridiculousness, of [de-extinction] efforts," says Victoria Herridge, an evolutionary biologist at the Natural History Museum in London. Herridge says many of the missing genes make each species unique. It's also worth noting that the human genome differs by just 1% from those of chimps and bonobos. Others researchers like Andrew Pask, a developmental biologist at the University of Melbourne, Parkville, says that the missing 5% of an extinct animal's genome likely won't affect how the transformed animal looks or behaves.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

China Led World With 500,000 Electric Car Exports In 2021

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-03-09 21:02
China exported nearly 500,000 electric cars in 2021 -- more than any other country in the world -- thanks to increasing sales in Europe and Southeast Asia by emerging cost-competitive automakers, Nikkei has learned. From the report: According to the General Administration of Customs of China, the number of passenger EVs exported in 2021 increased 2.6 times to 499,573 units. Meanwhile, Germany doubled its exports to about 230,000 units, while the U.S fell 30% to around 110,000 units, and Japan increased 24% to 27,400 units -- according to data compiled by the German Association of the Automotive Industry and the Japan External Trade Organization. China accounts for 60% of global EV production, and is emerging as the world's factory for EVs having already secured the same position in digital product manufacturing. Exports to the EU grew in the wake of it announcing a policy to ban the sale of new hybrid and gasoline-powered vehicles in 2035. China's EV exports to Europe rose fivefold to 230,000 units, with the region absorbing half of China's total EV exports. Belgium imported 87,000 units and the U.K. 50,000 units. Of the almost 500,000 units exported, more than 100,000 appear to have originated from Tesla's Shanghai plant.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Concept Touchscreen Uses Temperature To Create Feel of Friction

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-03-09 20:25
Researchers at Texas A&M have come up with a novel way for touchscreens to feel more than just perfectly smooth by fooling a user's sense of touch through temperature changes. Gizmodo reports: In a recently published paper in the Science Robotics journal, they found that by regulating the temperature of the surface of a touchscreen, they can increase or decrease the amount of friction a finger feels like it's experiencing. The sensation of friction can be increased by as much as 50% by increasing a touchscreen's surface temperature from 23 degrees Celsius to 42 degrees Celsius, while the actual temperature changes are imperceptible to the user, assuming they're sticking to taps or quick swipe gestures on the screen. The current prototypes don't facilitate temperature adjustments in fine detail, but the eventual goal is to be able to manipulate and quickly change the temperature on any region of a touchscreen so that as a finger is sliding across it the changes in friction that are felt fool the brain into thinking it's feeling physical buttons like keyboards, playback controls, even joysticks and action buttons for gaming.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ukraine Warns Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Is Without Power

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-03-09 19:45
On February 24, Russian forces seized control of the Chernobyl nuclear plant and took its staff hostage, causing radiation levels to increase about 20-fold from all the heavy military vehicles stirring contaminated soil in the exclusion zone surrounding the plant. Today, the Ukrainian government warned that the abandoned nuclear power plant, including other nuclear facilities nearby, no longer have electricity after a power line was damaged. Axios reports: A loss of power at the plant could disrupt the cooling of radioactive material stored there, risking radioactive leakage that can be carried by wind to other parts of Europe. [...] "About 20,000 spent fuel assemblies are stored in the spent nuclear fuel storage facility-1. They need constant cooling, which is possible only if there is electricity. If it is not there, the pumps will not cool. As a result, the temperature in the holding pools will increase," the Ukrainian government said. "After that evaporation will occur, that will lead to nuclear discharge. The wind can transfer the radioactive cloud to other regions of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Europe. In addition, there is no ventilation inside the facility," it added. The International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday that Ukraine had informed it of the power outage and called it a violation of a "key safety pillar" but saw "no critical impact on safety" in this case. The agency's director general said Tuesday that it was no longer receiving data monitoring systems installed at the plant and other facilities and that the handling of nuclear material in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone had been put on hold. "I'm deeply concerned about the difficult and stressful situation facing staff at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the potential risks this entails for nuclear safety. I call on the forces in effective control of the site to urgently facilitate the safe rotation of personnel there," IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said Tuesday.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Best Sci-Fi TV Shows on HBO Max - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-03-09 19:43
The home of prestige TV features a sci-fi show about Shakesperean actors. It's a must-watch.

Nine women accuse Sony of systemic sexism in a potential class-action lawsuit

Engadget - Wed, 2022-03-09 19:37

In November, former PlayStation IT security analyst Emma Majo filed a lawsuit against Sony, claiming the company discriminated against women at an institutional level. Majo alleged she was fired because she spoke up about gender bias at the studio, noting she was terminated shortly after submitting a signed statement to management detailing sexism she experienced there. 

Majo later filed the paperwork to turn her case into a class-action lawsuit, and just last month Sony attempted to have the whole thing thrown out, claiming her allegations were too vague to stand up to legal scrutiny. Plus, Sony's lawyers said, no other women were stepping forward with similar claims.

Today, eight additional women joined the lawsuit against Sony. The new plaintiffs are current and former employees, and only one of them has chosen to remain anonymous. One plaintiff, Marie Harrington, worked at Sony for 17 years and eventually became a senior director of program management and chief of staff to senior VP of engineering George Cacciopo.

"When I left Sony, I told the SVP and the Director of HR Rachel Ghadban in the Rancho Bernardo office that the reason I was leaving was systemic sexism against females," Harrington said in a court statement. "The Director of HR simply said, 'I understand.' She did not ask for any more information. I had spoken with the Director of HR many times before about sexism against females."

Harrington claimed women were overlooked for promotions, and said that during annual review sessions, Sony Interactive Entertainment engineering leaders rarely discussed female employees as potential "high performers." She said that in their April 2019 session, only four of the 70 employees under review were women, and while all of the men in this group were marked as high performers, just two of the women were. 

"Further, when two of the females were discussed, managers spent time discussing the fact that they have families," Harrington's statement reads. "Family status was never discussed for any males."

The remaining women shared similar stories in their statements, with the common theme being a lack of opportunity for female employees to advance and systemic favoritism toward male employees. The plaintiffs claimed male leaders at Sony made derogatory comments including, "you just need to marry rich," and, "I find that in general, women can’t take criticism.” 

One plaintiff alleged that while on a work trip to E3, her superior tricked her into having drinks with him at the hotel bar, hit on her even after she declined, and told other employees that "he was going to try to 'hit that.'" Another plaintiff shared a story about a gender equality meeting at Sony that had a five-person panel, all of them men.

The lawsuit against Sony comes at a time of reckoning for many major video game studios, including Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft and Riot Games. Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit and multiple investigations into claims of institutional sexism, sexual harassment and gender discrimination, while Ubisoft has long faced similar allegations from former and current employees. Riot Games paid $100 million in December to settle a class-action lawsuit over workplace sexual harassment and discrimination.

Sony has not yet responded to the latest movement in the class-action lawsuit, though it denies Majo's claims of gender discrimination. The company has requested the lawsuit be dismissed, and that will be decided in a hearing in April.

Alienware 34-inch QD-OLED Monitor Review: It Brings the Pretty - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-03-09 19:23
This widescreen 1440p gaming monitor shows off the new panel technology by making your games look great.

Elden Ring Guide: What You Need to Know About Dungeons in The Open World - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-03-09 19:21
What you should expect before jumping into a dungeon.

Ukraine may move its top-secret data and servers abroad

Engadget - Wed, 2022-03-09 19:13

Fears that Russia could steal top-secret government documents has caused Ukrainian authorities to explore potentially moving its data and servers to another country, reportedReuters. While the original plan is still to protect the country’s IT infrastructure, moving the most sensitive data to another location is a viable Plan B, Victor Zhora— the deputy chief of Ukraine's information protection arm—told the news service.

Ukraine has already faced a litany of aggressive cyberattacks from the neighboring nation, including last month’s penetration of its military and energy networks. Russia also attempted to interfere with Ukraine’s 2014 presidential election and regularly launches attacks on Ukraine’s power grid, leading to outages that last for days. 

The Ukrainian government made the precautionary move of migrating its computer systems in Kyiv in 2014, following Russia’s occupation of Crimea. Ukrainian cyber teams have developed plans to disable infrastructure and transfer back-ups if its networks become compromised, Zhora told Politico.

But the fact that Ukraine’s most sensitive data is centralized in Kyiv presents a problem if Russia’s military occupies the capital. At the time of publication, Russian troops are currently encircling Kyiv, and experts estimate they could attack the city within days. Ukraine is already moving some sensitive data and servers to remote areas, out of Russia’s reach. 

Ukraine hasn't released details on where it might attempt to relocate its sensitive governmental data, but shifting it to an allied nation might provide more than just physical distance from Russian's military. Reuters reported that cyberattacks against said data, were it stored within the borders of an ally nation, might trigger NATO’s collective defense clause, which requires all member nations to respond if one is attacked.

For now, Ukraine’s Parliament still has to give its seal of approval before the nation’s sensitive data can be moved.

Microsoft's Return Puts Focus On Workers Who Are Skipping the Office

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-03-09 19:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Microsoft Corp. has begun calling employees back to its headquarters in recent weeks, but its return-to-office strategy hinges on hybrid work. From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, companies are navigating the messy transition to the workplace after a two-year hiatus during the pandemic. Microsoft has a unique perspective since it sells remote collaboration tools that compete with Zoom and Cisco. Even as workers trickle back to their desks, the company's leaders are focused on those employees who aren't working in the office. "It's counterintuitive," Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Modern Work at Microsoft, said in an interview. "You have to design your physical space for the people who aren't there." At The Hive, its test center a few miles from its Redmond, Washington campus, engineers roll office chairs back and forth and shift camera angles around to capture the optimal teleconference environment. Staffers down the hall pose as remote attendees, providing immediate feedback. A full-size replica of a room Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella and other senior leadership use for top-level meetings fills a warehouse floor. What they've found is that small tweaks can really improve the experience, making those daily calls less of a grind. The typical conference table, for example, was redesigned to a triangle pointed away from the screens, or a truncated semi-circle facing the screen, United Nations-style. Both setups address a big problem with standard conference rooms: Attendees don't fully face the camera, and in-person participants migrate toward each other. Meantime, at Microsoft's headquarters last week, occupancy jumped 142% from the prior one, according to the company, which declined to provide further details. The mood resembled a college move-in day, with giddy staffers excited to no longer be stuck at home. [...] While Microsoft executives from Nadella on down have been promoting the idea of the so-called metaverse to connect workers in various locations, the company also says it knows it has to take it slow. "We're just trying to meet people where they are," Spataro said. "You kind of have to crawl before you can move to a fully virtual world."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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