Tech News Feed

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Comparing the top music streaming services - CNET

CNET News - 19 min 57 sec ago
Here's how to choose between the biggest names in music streaming based on price, catalog, features and more.

Engineer Devises 'UFO Patents' For US Navy

SlashDot - 20 min ago
Paul Ratner writes via Interesting Engineering: Theoretical inventions known as the "UFO patents" have been inflaming worldwide curiosity. A product of the American engineer Dr. Salvatore Cezar Pais, the patents were filed during his work for the U.S. Navy and are so ambitious in their scope and imagination that they continue to draw interest despite any clear evidence that they are feasible. The patents include designs for a futuristic hybrid vehicle with a radical propulsion system that would work equally well in the air, underwater, and in space, as well as a compact fusion reactor, a gravitational wave generator, and even a "spacetime modification weapon." The technology involved could impact reality itself, claims its inventor, whose maverick audacity rivals that of Nikola Tesla. How real are these ideas? While you can read the patents for yourself, it's evident that the tech necessary to actually create the devices described is beyond our current capabilities. Yet research into many of these fields has gone on for years, which may explain why the Navy expressed an interest. Another likely influence is the fact that the Chinese government seems to be working to develop similar technology. The fantastical inventions devised by Dr. Pais largely build upon an idea that he calls "The Pais Effect." In his patent write-ups and in an interview with The Drive, he described it as "the generation of extremely high electromagnetic energy fluxes (and hence high local energy densities) generated by controlled motion of electrically charged matter (from solid to plasma states) subjected to accelerated vibration and/or accelerated spin, via rapid acceleration transients." This effect amounts to the ability to spin electromagnetic fields to contain a fusion reaction. The electromagnetic energy fields would be so powerful that they could "engineer the fabric of our reality at the most fundamental level," writes Pais. In practical terms, this invention could lead to a veritable revolution in propulsion, quantum communications, and create an abundance of cheaply-produced energy. Certainly, an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence, as posits the Sagan standard. Despite the well-founded unease at Dr. Pais's inventions, the Navy took them seriously enough to run experiments for three years and even found some of them "operable," although the extent of that alleged operability is under debate. In the patent documents, two Navy officials seemed to assert the operability of the inventions. Furthermore, in correspondence with The Drive's "War Zone," Timothy Boulay of NAWCAD, stated that Pais's High Energy Electromagnetic Field Generator was, in fact, tested from 2016 until 2019, at a cost of $508,000. The team working on the project consisted of at least 10 technicians and engineers and put in some 1,600 hours of work. But upon the conclusion of the testing, the Pais Effect "could not be proven," shared Boulay. What happened subsequently with the tested device and further investigations is not known at this point. There are indications in documents obtained by The Drive's WarZone through the Freedom of Information Act that the inventions could be moved to another research department in the Navy or the Air Force, or possibly even to NASA or DARPA, but whether that really happened is not clear. "One of the most attention-grabbing designs by Dr. Pais is the 2018 patent for a cone-shaped craft of unprecedented range and speed," writes Ratner. "Another futuristic patent with far-reaching ramifications is Pais' Plasma Compression Fusion Device. [...] Notes from researchers who worked on vetting Pais' ideas indicate that a possible outcome of the plasma fusion device and the high energy levels it may generate is the 'Spacetime Modification Weapon' (SMW). Research documents refer to it as 'a weapon that can make the Hydrogen bomb seem more like a firecracker, in comparison.'" Pais also has a patent for an electromagnetic field generator, which could create "an impenetrable defensive shield to sea and land as well as space-based military and civilian assets." Another device conceived by Pais that could deflect asteroids is the high-frequency gravitational wave generator.

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iOS 15 makes any iPhone feel brand new, so don't worry about the iPhone 13 - CNET

CNET News - 1 hour 19 min ago
FaceTime, Focus and more breathe fresh air into the iPhone 6S and later.

'Doctor Who' Showrunner Russell T. Davies To Return For Next Season

SlashDot - 3 hours 20 min ago
spaceman375 shares a report from the BBC: Screenwriter Russell T Davies is to take charge again of Doctor Who, the sci-fi show he helped revive in 2005. Davies, who was the fantasy drama's showrunner until 2009, will take over when Chris Chibnall departs next year. "I'm beyond excited to be back on my favourite show," said Davies, who resumes his role as the show prepares to mark its 60th anniversary in 2023. One of his first responsibilities will be to decide who takes over the Tardis following Jodie Whittaker's exit. The actress is set to hang up her Sonic Screwdriver after one more six-part series and three 2022 specials. Davies revived Doctor Who in its current incarnation with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and remained for David Tennant's time as the Doctor. Steven Moffatt took over when Matt Smith took on the role, staying to supervise Peter Capaldi's stint as TV's indefatigable Time Lord. The success of Doctor Who's relaunch led Davies to create two spin-off shows, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

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Best PC gaming headset for 2021 - CNET

CNET News - 4 hours 19 min ago
Our top picks for gaming sound from SteelSeries, Razer, Logitech, HyperX and more.

Old Coal Plant Is Now Mining Bitcoin For a Utility Company

SlashDot - Fri, 2021-09-24 23:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Bitcoin's massive power consumption is the cryptocurrency's dirty secret. To mine bitcoin, computers across the globe chew through enough electricity to power a medium size country, somewhere on the order of the Netherlands or Poland depending on the estimate. In fact, electricity has become such a significant factor that one private equity firm owns a power plant to mine bitcoin. The company, Greenidge Generation, said at one point that they could mine one bitcoin for less than $3,000. Even today -- at $40,000 per bitcoin, some 30 percent off its peak -- the potential for profit is real. Which is why an investor-owned utility has dropped a containerized data center outside a coal-fired power plant 10 miles north of St. Louis. Ameren, the utility, was struggling to keep the 1,099 MW power plant running profitably when wholesale electricity prices dropped. But it wasn't well suited to running only when demand was high, so-called peaker duty. Instead, they're experimenting with running it full-time and using the excess electricity to mine bitcoin. Ameren executives reportedly blame wind and solar power for the load variability that taxes the 55-year-old power plant. The utility claims that mining bitcoin could reduce its carbon footprint by allowing it to run its plants more consistently rather than ramping them up and down, which they say can increase emissions. "We have pretty dramatic changes in load minute by minute, second by second at times," Warren Wood, the utility's vice president of regulatory and legislative affairs, told E&E News. But when it's running full-time, they only have to take power away from the mining operations. Wood said it takes about 20 seconds to divert power back to the grid. Ameren attempted to get rate payers to foot a portion of the bill for its experiment, but Missouri's consumer advocate pushed back. "If Ameren Missouri wants to enter into speculative commodities, like virtual currencies, then it should do so as a non-regulated service where ratepayers are unexposed to the economics of them," Geoff Marke, chief economist for the Missouri Office of the Public Counsel, wrote in a filing. "This endeavor is beyond the scope of intended electric utility regulation, and, if allowed, creates a slippery slope where ratepayers could be asked to put up capital for virtually anything." The utility says that if its bitcoin experiment pans out, it could attach similar containerized data centers to wind and solar farms to soak up excess electricity profitably in times of high supply or low demand. The coal-fired power plant that's being used in the experiment is scheduled to be shut down in 2028. Ameren says that so far it's pleased with the project, which has mined 20 coins and mints a new one at a rate of one every 15 days or so. Whether the math continues to work depends largely on the cost of running the plant and the price of bitcoin, which is highly volatile. Based on today's prices, the company has made about $800,000 since it switched on the miners in April.

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Chinese Scientists Synthesized Starch From Carbon Dioxide

SlashDot - Fri, 2021-09-24 22:02
AltMachine shares a report from Phys.Org: Chinese scientists recently reported a de novo route for artificial starch synthesis from carbon dioxide (CO2) for the first time. Relevant results were published in Science on Sept. 24. The new route makes it possible to produce starch, a major component of grains, by industrial manufacturing instead of traditional agricultural planting and opens up a new technical route for synthesizing complex molecules from CO2. The artificial route can produce starch from CO2 with an efficiency 8.5-fold higher than starch biosynthesis in maize, suggesting a big step towards going beyond nature. It provides a new scientific basis for creating biological systems with unprecedented functions. "If the overall cost of the process can be reduced to a level economically comparable with agricultural planting in the future, it is expected to save more than 90% of cultivated land and freshwater resources," said MA Yanhe, corresponding author of the study. In addition, it would also help to avoid the negative environmental impact of using pesticides and fertilizers, improve human food security, facilitate a carbon-neutral bioeconomy, and eventually promote the formation of a sustainable bio-based society.

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Microsoft Rushes To Register Autodiscover Domains Leaking Credentials

SlashDot - Fri, 2021-09-24 21:25
Microsoft is rushing to register Internet domains used to steal Windows credentials sent from faulty implementations of the Microsoft Exchange Autodiscover protocol. BleepingComputer reports: On Monday, Guardicore's Amit Serper released new research about how the issue caused the exposure of close to 100,000 unique Windows and email credentials. When users configure their Exchange accounts on email clients, the app will attempt to authenticate to various Autodiscover URLs associated with Microsoft Exchange servers for their organization. If a successful authentication occurs, the Exchange server will send back settings that the mail client should use. However, many mail clients, including some versions of Microsoft Outlook and Office 365, incorrectly implement the Autodiscover protocol causing them to try and authenticate to third-party autodiscover.[tld] URLs that are not related to a user's organization. Examples of such domains include,, and Threat actors could register autodiscover.[tld] domains and begin collecting the leaked Windows and email credentials for attacks against the organization. In response to Serper's report, Microsoft issued the following statement: "We are actively investigating and will take appropriate steps to protect customers. We are committed to coordinated vulnerability disclosure, an industry standard, collaborative approach that reduces unnecessary risk for customers before issues are made public. Unfortunately, this issue was not reported to us before the researcher marketing team presented it to the media, so we learned of the claims today." "Since then, Microsoft has been rushing to register any autodiscover.[tld] domains it can find to prevent them from being used to steal Windows credentials," adds BleepingComputer. "At the time of this writing, [...] Microsoft registered at least 68 domains related to Autodiscover."

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Are You Ready To Share Your Analprint With Big Tech?

SlashDot - Fri, 2021-09-24 20:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: For the past 10 years, Sonia Grego has been thinking about toilets -- and more specifically what we deposit into them. "We are laser-focused on the analysis of stool," says the Duke University research professor, with all the unselfconsciousness of someone used to talking about bodily functions. "We think there is an incredible untapped opportunity for health data. And this information is not tapped because of the universal aversion to having anything to do with your stool." As the co-founder of Coprata, Grego is working on a toilet that uses sensors and artificial intelligence to analyze waste; she hopes to have an early model for a pilot study ready within nine months. "The toilet that you have in your home has not functionally changed in its design since it was first introduced," she says, in the second half of the 19th century. There are, of course, now loos with genital-washing capabilities, or heated seats, but this is basic compared with what Grego is envisaging. "All other aspects of your life -- your electricity, your communication, even your doorbell -- have enhanced capabilities." Smart toilet innovators believe the loo could become the ultimate health monitoring tool. Grego believes her product -- which analyses and tracks stool samples and sends the data to an app -- will provide "information related to cancer and many chronic diseases." For general consumers, it will provide peace of mind, she says, by establishing "a healthy baseline": "Having technology that tracks what is normal for an individual could provide an early warning that a checkup is needed." For people with specific conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, the device could provide helpful monitoring for doctors. "It's very difficult to know when to escalate or de-escalate treatment," she says. "Stool-based biomarkers can provide that information." At some point, she thinks, a smart toilet could make lifestyle suggestions -- it could tell you to eat more fibre or certain nutrients, for instance, or work out what kind of food triggered an uncomfortable gastric episode. "The science of nutrition is really moving in the direction of personalized nutrition," says Grego. "Our technology will be an enabler of this, because you have information of what you eat, but we can make seamless the obtaining of information of what comes out." Researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine have been working on technology that can analyze feces (including "stool dropping time") and track the velocity and color of urine, as well as test it. According to the Wall Street Journal, the researchers have partnered with Izen, a Korean toilet manufacturer that's developed a scanner that can recognize the physical characteristics of whoever is sitting on the toilet -- or, in the words of the researchers, "the distinctive features of their anoderm" (the skin of the anal canal). While many people are ready for the smart toilet era, Stanford's study of user acceptance found that the "least favored module is analprint." The Guardian article continues: Is all this -- your analprint out in the world, the makeup of your bowel movements analyzed -- a privacy breach too far? "Can it be kept secure?" asks Eerke Boiten, a professor of cybersecurity at De Montfort University in Leicester. [...] Many people "wouldn't, for very good reasons, like cameras pointing up their bottoms," says Phil Booth, the coordinator of MedConfidential, which campaigns for the confidentiality of medical records. That said, under the guidance of a medical professional, "there are not necessarily inherent privacy risks" in using a smart toilet as a medical device, he says. However, it might get interesting if the data created by general consumer use was owned by a company: "You may trust that particular company, but every company is pretty much buyable by Google or Facebook or Amazon. Then, what I thought was something for my own health monitoring has become fodder to business models I really know nothing about." Where does it end? Could the police or others involved in surveillance track you by analprint, via the public and home smart lavatories you visit? Might you be asked to provide a print at a police station? [...] "Once you start to measure something that is of the body, the privacy line is stepped over," says Booth. "If you don't measure what's going on with someone's bowel movements, the bowel movement is private." This is an alarming thought -- but, says Booth with a laugh, it is not as though governments will mandate smart toilets. He says there will always be people -- those into the "quantified self" movement -- who are happy to measure and track themselves. If smart loos are considered clinical devices collecting medical data, "then it's a straight medical breach risk -- not special to toilets, but because you've turned the toilet into a medical data-generating experience. Are they managing those risks correctly?"

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Amazon-owned Whole Foods to add $10 delivery fee to orders next month - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2021-09-24 20:15
The expensive supermarket will get more expensive.

Facebook Will Open Its Fiber Networks To Expand Broadband Access In Rural Virginia

SlashDot - Fri, 2021-09-24 20:02
Facebook announced a new project on Thursday that will bring broadband service to thousands of households in Virginia this fall, in partnership with a local ISP and utility company. The Verge reports: The project began with fiber networks Facebook was already building to connect its data centers in Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina. With that fiber already laid, Facebook partnered with Appalachian Power and GigaBeam Networks to extend the networks to roughly 6,000 households in Grayson County, VA. The homes are projected to have high-speed broadband access by the end of this fall. "These are really complicated problems that we're trying to solve. If they weren't complicated, then we still wouldn't have 19 million people that were unserved or underserved," Michele Kohler, Facebook's network investments team manager, told The Verge in an interview Wednesday. "We're trying to figure out how can we play in the equation, with these complex partnerships, to figure out how we can help people get connected faster." Kohler also said that Facebook is providing "engineering and technical resources" to the partnering companies. The proposed network would leverage a new law approved by the Virginia legislature last year that allows electric and communications companies to string fiber along existing poles and conduits. Still, the future of these networks is unclear as utility companies like Rappahannock Electric Cooperative have been sued by property owners for infringing on their property rights when they've sought to invoke the new provisions.

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Amazon's Echo and Ring launch event: How to get all the details live - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2021-09-24 19:58
The e-commerce giant is holding an invite-only press event starting Sept. 28 at 9 a.m. PT, noon ET.

Google Seeks Search Deals For TikTok and Instagram Videos

SlashDot - Fri, 2021-09-24 19:20
An anonymous reader shares a report: If you've ever tried searching on Google for one of those TikTok or Instagram videos all your friends are gushing about -- such as sea shanties or the Renegade dance -- you'll notice something. The videos don't show up. Google is trying to fix that -- but there's no guarantee its efforts will succeed. Google executives have been quietly negotiating with their counterparts at the video apps' parent companies, ByteDance for TikTok and Facebook for Instagram, to get the data it needs to index and rank videos, according to three people who were briefed about the discussions. Right now, the best results users typically see when they search are previews of videos from Google-owned YouTube, which at times hosts lower-quality copies or ripoffs of TikTok and Instagram videos. The talks show how Google is trying to keep its search engine relevant with more users as it faces new competition and regulatory threats.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou To Be Released After Agreement With US In Wire Fraud Case

SlashDot - Fri, 2021-09-24 18:40
The chief financial officer of Chinese tech firm Huawei will be released and allowed to return to China after reaching an agreement with the U.S. government on fraud charges, prosecutors said Friday in a Brooklyn federal court. CNBC reports: A U.S. district judge accepted the deferred prosecution agreement, which will last until Dec. 1, 2022. Under the deal, the executive, Meng Wanzhou, affirmed the accuracy of a statement of facts and agreed not to commit other crimes, or risk prosecution. Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder, was arrested in Canada in December 2018. The U.S. sought to extradite her on bank and wire fraud charges, claiming she was misled a financial institution to violate American sanctions on Iran. The U.S. said Friday it plans to withdraw its extradition request. Meng pleaded not guilty to the charges on Friday. As part of the agreement, however, she took "responsibility for her principal role in perpetrating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution," acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Nicole Boeckmann said in a statement. According to Boeckmann, Meng admitted to making "multiple material misrepresentations" while CFO of Huawei about the company's business in Iran, in conversations with the senior executive of a financial institution. The government claimed she did this to continue Huawei's business relationship with the firm. Boeckmann said the admission confirms the core allegations against Meng.

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ExpressVPN Employees Complain About Ex-Spy's Top Role At Company

SlashDot - Fri, 2021-09-24 18:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: When a senior executive at virtual private network company ExpressVPN admitted to working on behalf of a foreign intelligence service to hack American machines last week, it stunned employees at his new company, according to interviews and electronic records. What ExpressVPN said after the U.S. Justice Department's deferred prosecution agreement disturbed some employees further. The company had known about Dan Gericke's history as a mercenary hacker for the United Arab Emirates. The VPN provider said it had no problem with the former intelligence operative protecting the privacy of its customers. In fact, the company had repeatedly given Gericke more responsibility at ExpressVPN even as the FBI investigation of his conduct pressed toward its conclusion. Gericke was named chief technology officer in August, according to an internal email at the time, and remains in the post. Shortly after the court filings showed Gericke and two other former U.S. intelligence operators agreeing to pay a fine and give up any future classified work, he emailed his colleagues at ExpressVPN. "I can imagine that this kind of news is surprising or even uncomfortable," Gericke wrote in the message obtained by Reuters, then assured them that he had used his skills to protect consumers from threats to their security and privacy. When senior company executives during a regular online question-and-answer session last Friday with employees accepted queries about Gericke's deal and then discussed the sale announced days earlier of the company to British-Israeli digital security software provider Kape Technologies PLC, the workforce vented its anger. One employee wrote anonymously on an internal chat board: "This episode has eroded consumer's trust in our brand, regardless of the facts. How do we intend to rebuild our reputation?" Asked about the controversy, ExpressVPN said in a statement that the exchange was part of a regular monthly session between management and employees. "As a company, we value openness, dialogue and transparency -which includes robust debate and incisive questioning," the company said. It said it had not known of the federal investigation or the details of Gericke's work in UAE, and it said that country's surveillance campaign was "completely antithetical to our mission." At ExpressVPN's session with leaders Friday, the second-most supported question also concerned him. "As an individual I have a problem accepting that Dan was hired despite disclosing past actions. These actions are not small thing we can easily forget or accept. Don't they go against all the things XV stands for?" that person asked. To Reuters, the company responded: "It's only through clear commitment and contributions to our mission that Daniel has been able to earn senior leadership roles within the company and the full confidence of our co-founders."

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Luminous aurora seen from ISS drapes Earth in a glowing green veil - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2021-09-24 17:29
A full moon, an aurora and Earth come together in a mystical moment seen from space.

William Shatner's Going To Space On Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin

SlashDot - Fri, 2021-09-24 17:22
schwit1 shares a report from TMZ: The 90-year-old actor is slated to be part of the second crew to take the space flight in the New Shepard capsule. That would make him the oldest person ever to be launched into space. We're told Shatner will be on board in October for the 15-minute civilian flight -- similar to the last launch. What we don't know -- BUT WHAT WOULD BE AWESOME -- is if he wears his Capt. Kirk getup. Our sources say the mission will be filmed for a documentary. We're told Shatner's people were talking to Discovery about the special, but that didn't materialize ... but our sources say Shatner and Co. have taken the project elsewhere and are in negotiations.

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The 2-row Jeep Grand Cherokee will debut on Sept. 29 - Roadshow

CNET News - Fri, 2021-09-24 17:16
The smaller Grand Cherokee lineup will include a 4xe plug-in hybrid model.

UC Reactor Makes Martian Fuel

SlashDot - Fri, 2021-09-24 16:45
Engineers at the University of Cincinnati are developing new ways to convert greenhouse gases to fuel to address climate change and get astronauts home from Mars. UC: UC College of Engineering and Applied Science assistant professor Jingjie Wu and his students used a carbon catalyst in a reactor to convert carbon dioxide into methane. Known as the "Sabatier reaction" from the late French chemist Paul Sabatier, it's a process the International Space Station uses to scrub the carbon dioxide from air the astronauts breathe and generate rocket fuel to keep the station in high orbit. But Wu is thinking much bigger. The Martian atmosphere is composed almost entirely of carbon dioxide. Astronauts could save half the fuel they need for a return trip home by making what they need on the red planet once they arrive, Wu said. "It's like a gas station on Mars. You could easily pump carbon dioxide through this reactor and produce methane for a rocket," Wu said. UC's study was published in the journal Nature Communications with collaborators from Rice University, Shanghai University and East China University of Science and Technology. Wu began his career in chemical engineering by studying fuel cells for electric vehicles but began looking at carbon dioxide conversion in his chemical engineering lab about 10 years ago. "I realized that greenhouse gases were going to be a big issue in society," Wu said. "A lot of countries realized that carbon dioxide is a big issue for the sustainable development of our society. That's why I think we need to achieve carbon neutrality." The Biden Administration has set a goal of achieving a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas pollutants by 2030 and an economy that relies on renewable energy by 2050. "That means we'll have to recycle carbon dioxide," Wu said. Wu and his students, including lead author and UC doctoral candidate Tianyu Zhang, are experimenting with different catalysts such as graphene quantum dots -- layers of carbon just nanometers big -- that can increase the yield of methane.

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Pokemon Go October 2021 events: Zarude, raids, Halloween and more - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2021-09-24 16:10
Here are all the biggest events happening in Pokemon Go in October.