Computers & Linux News

Armenia Opens $50 Million Bitcoin, Ethereum Mining Farm

SlashDot - 1 hour 30 min ago
Armenia has opened a cryptocurrency mining farm to the tune of $50 million. It reportedly mines Bitcoin and Ethereum and consists of 3,000 machines. Chepicap reports: The country's first mining project, launched in the Armenian capital of Yerevan, is headed by Armenian real estate investment company Multi Group Concern and Malta-registered Omnia Tech International Company. Armenian entrepreneur and head of Multi Group, Gagik Tsarukyan said at the ceremony that $50 million had been invested into the farm. The first floor of the farm is designed for an IT business center with around the clock operating services. Bitcoin.com reports that Armenia is working at establishing its own Silicon Valley through the development of a free economic zone that will boast an advanced technology center.

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Not Exercising Worse For Your Health Than Smoking, Diabetes and Heart Disease, Study Reveals

SlashDot - 2 hours 31 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: We've all heard exercise helps you live longer. But a new study [published in the journal JAMA Network Open] goes one step further, finding that a sedentary lifestyle is worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease. Researchers retrospectively studied 122,007 patients who underwent exercise treadmill testing at Cleveland Clinic between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 2014 to measure all-cause mortality relating to the benefits of exercise and fitness. Those with the lowest exercise rate accounted for 12% of the participants. Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic and senior author of the study, said the other big revelation from the research is that fitness leads to longer life, with no limit to the benefit of aerobic exercise. Researchers have always been concerned that "ultra" exercisers might be at a higher risk of death, but the study found that not to be the case. "There is no level of exercise or fitness that exposes you to risk," he said. "We can see from the study that the ultra-fit still have lower mortality."

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Experimental Android App Determines Alertness By Examining Eyes

SlashDot - 3 hours 32 min ago
An experimental new Android app developed by a team at Cornell University is designed to determine a person's alertness by examining their eyes. The app, called AlertnessScanner, utilizes a smartphone's front-facing camera to gauge the size of users' pupils. "When we're in an alert state, our sympathetic nervous system causes our pupils to dilate so that we can take in information more easily," reports New Atlas. "On the other hand, when we're tired, our parasympathetic nervous system causes our pupils to contract." From the report: In an initial study, test subjects were prompted to use the app to manually take photos of their pupils, once every three hours. Additionally, six times a day they completed a five-minute phone-based Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT), which is an established method of gauging reaction time. When the results of the two alertness-testing methods were compared, they were found to be very similar. That said, it was determined that most people wouldn't like having to make a point of using the app so many times every day. Additionally, in order to properly image the test subjects' pupils, the infrared filters of the phones' cameras had to be removed. The researchers managed to address these problems by changing it so that the app automatically takes a one-second-long burst of 30 pupil photos whenever users unlock their phones; and using a larger 13-megapixel front-facing camera.

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Windows 10 Will Banish Spectre Slowdowns With Google's Retpoline Patch

SlashDot - 4 hours 33 min ago
Microsoft is including Google's mitigation for the Spectre Variant 2 speculative execution side-channel attack in the next release of Windows 10, currently codenamed 19H1. ZDNet reports: Google developed a software-based mitigation for Spectre Variant 2 called Retpoline that constrains speculative execution behavior sufficiently to mitigate an attack. Google's testing found its fix had a negligible effect on performance. Retpoline was implemented by Linux distributions such as Red Hat and SUSE, as well as by Oracle for Oracle Linux 6 and 7. And now, as MSPoweruser spotted, Microsoft's kernel engineers have confirmed that Retpoline will be part of the next version of Windows 10, 19H1, which is due out next year. Google's Retpoline plus Microsoft's own kernel modifications have reduced the performance impact to "noise level", according to Mehmet Iyigun of Microsoft's Windows and Azure kernel team. "Yes, we have enabled Retpoline by default in our 19H1 flights along with what we call 'import optimization' to further reduce perf impact due to indirect calls in kernel-mode. Combined, these reduce the perf impact of Spectre v2 mitigations to noise-level for most scenarios," wrote Iyigun. "The bad news is that Microsoft didn't include the Retpoline fix in the latest Windows 10 October 2018 Update Redstone 5, or RS5, release, even though, according to CrowdStrike researcher Alex Ionescu, it could have," reports ZDNet.

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How the Finnish Survive Without Small Talk

SlashDot - 5 hours 34 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Finnish people often forgo the conversational niceties that are hard-baked into other cultures, and typically don't see the need to meet foreign colleagues, tourists and friends in the middle. As Tiina Latvala, a former English instructor in Sodankyla, Lapland, explained, part of her job was to introduce her young students to the concept of small talk. "We had a practice where you had to pretend to meet someone for the first time," Latvala said. "You had to pretend you were meeting at the cafe or on a bus and [that] you didn't know each other and do a bit of chit chat. We had written on the whiteboard all the safe topics so they didn't have to struggle with coming up with something to talk about. We brainstormed. They usually found it really difficult." "[They're] about basic conversation," she explained. "The answers are already there. We are taught to answer 'I'm great, how about you?'; 'How is your mum?'. It was very clear how to be in a conversation, as if we didn't already know. It was very weird as if there were right answers to the questions." There are more hypotheses than answers for why Finnish culture has a veil of silence permanently stitched in place. Latvala believes their trademark directness has something to do with the complexity of the Finnish language and the fairly large distance between cities (Latvala's reasoning: If you've travelled any distance to see someone, why waste time?). [...] It isn't for lack of skill, for Finland has two national languages -- Finnish and Swedish -- and Finns begin English lessons when they're six or seven. But rather it's because when faced with expressing themselves in second (or third) language, many often choose to not say anything rather than risk not being fully understood. However, when among their own, silence functions as an extension of comfortable conversation. "'It's not about the structure or features of the language, but rather the ways in which people use the language to do things,' Dr Anna Vatanen, a researcher at the University of Oulu, explained via email. 'For instance, the 'how are you?' question that is most often placed in the very beginning of an encounter. In English-speaking countries, it is mostly used just as a greeting and no serious answer is expected to it. On the contrary, the Finnish counterpart (Mita kuuluu?) can expect a 'real' answer after it: quite often the person responding to the question starts to tell how his or her life really is at the moment, what's new, how they have been doing.'"

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Game of Thrones shot a reunion special with Conan O'Brien - CNET

CNET News - 5 hours 50 min ago
Sean Bean says the comedian hosted a farewell show of some kind in Northern Ireland.

Will Tech Leave Detroit In the Dust?

SlashDot - 6 hours 35 min ago
As automotive companies shift their focus to software and services in the pursuit of self-driving cars, the impact to large manufacturing cities like Detroit could be drastic. The Wall Street Journal explores this "transformation without precedent" and poses the question: will tech leave Detroit in the dust? From the report: Auto makers point out that they have one advantage that newcomers to the industry don't: vehicles. "Ultimately, you can have the best services platform there is, but if you don't have the vehicles to operate on it, that won't do you much good," said Sam Abuelsamid, a senior analyst with Navigant research. "That's where the manufacturers have an ace in the hole." Many analysts believe businesses like Uber and Alphabet's self-driving tech subsidiary Waymo won't have the appetite to get into the low-margin, capital-intensive business of car manufacturing. Some auto executives say they can hold on to their roles as hardware providers while also tapping into the growth of more-profitable services. Mr. Stackmann said VW can earn millions more customers than it currently has by offering transportation as a service through a network of connected cars. "They talk about scalability, but where is the added value from Uber?" he said. "We have a technical foundation and will build connectivity into our vehicles to connect them and our customers to our ecosystem. In the long term, the question will be: Why do you need Uber?" Auto industry executives have long seen tech-industry threats coming. The valuation of Elon Musk's Tesla has soared in recent years, pulling even with GM's, as it has shown it can create a fiercely loyal customer base for electric cars. Google began working on autonomous-vehicle technology in 2009 and its self-driving car unit Waymo is today considered a leader in the technology. While demand for new cars and trucks remains robust and selling them will remain a core part of the industry's business in the years to come, many executives believe the long-term profit growth is limited as new forms of transportation proliferate and more car owners ditch their vehicles for shared ones, hurting sales. Car companies are trying to diversify into new business models that, much like Uber, sell transportation as a service. Revenue is generated by usage as opposed to a one-time vehicle sale, and because the service isn't as capital-intensive as building and selling cars, executives believe it can ultimately command higher margins..." The report goes on to mention the investments automobile companies are making to restructure their businesses. GM, Ford, and Toyota, for example, "are investing in new tech startups, purchasing artificial-intelligence and robotics firms, and hiring thousands of workers in tech hubs in California and Tel Aviv, Israel," reports the WSJ. "Several car companies have acquired or invested in makers of lidar, laser-based sensors that help driverless cars navigate. The auto makers are tapping the tech world for software-engineering talent, a skill traditionally in short supply in the car business." "Over the last year, GM has taken journalists and investors through a factory in suburban Detroit, where workers plan to build self-driving Chevrolet Bolt electric cars that have no steering wheels or brake pedals," reports the WSJ. "The message: It has the manufacturing might to crank out thousands of robot cars, while tech rivals like Alphabet's Waymo unit must equip their autonomous systems onto vehicles they purchase from traditional car companies."

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George Lucas and Jon Favreau get together in ... a cantina? - CNET

CNET News - 6 hours 50 min ago
The Star Wars creator apparently paid a visit to the set of The Mandalorian.

Germany Urges Global Minimum Tax For Digital Giants

SlashDot - 7 hours 36 min ago
Germany is backing a global minimum tax rate as Europe looks to levy tax notably on U.S. tech giants. "Europe is trying to devise a strategy to tax profits from the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and digital platforms such as YouTube and Airbnb which currently manage to keep fiscal exposure to a bare minimum," reports Yahoo News. From the report: "We need a minimum tax rate valid globally which no state can get out of (applying)," Scholz, a social democrat in conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government, told the "Welt am Sonntag" weekly. Digital platforms "aggravate a problem which we know well from globalization and which we are trying to counter -- the shifting of profits to fiscally beneficial regions," said Scholz. Scholz explained he had launched an initiative designed to help states react to so-called fiscal dumping in support of embryonic OECD plans designed to fight tax transparency and cross-border tax evasion. "We require coordinated mechanisms which prevent the displacement of revenues to tax havens," said Scholz. A March proposal by the Commission includes introducing a tax as a bridge measure until such time as the OECD can roll out a measure which can be applied globally.

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Elon Musk trolls 'virgin' Fortnite players, game fights back - CNET

CNET News - 7 hours 50 min ago
The billionaire businessman and the hit game had a brief but entertaining Twitter fight.

New Material Could Up Efficiency of Concentrated Solar Power

SlashDot - 8 hours 37 min ago
An anonymous reader shares new work that could allow us to generate electricity using supercritical carbon dioxide. Ars Technica reports: The researchers involved in the new work, a large U.S.-based collaboration, focus on a composite material: tungsten and zirconium carbide. These have extremely high melting points: 3,700K for both materials. Both of them conduct heat extremely well, and neither of them expands or softens much under these conditions, meaning they would hold up better to the mechanical stresses. While the stats are impressive, the amazing part of this is how the material is fabricated. The researchers started with tungsten carbide, a ceramic that can be formed into a porous material simply by pouring it as a powder into a mold and heating it. At this point, the ceramic can be further machined to produce a final shape. Once in its final form, the ceramic was placed in a bath of a molten mixture of copper and zirconium. The molten mixture filled the pores, and the zirconium reacted with the tungsten carbide, replacing the tungsten. The copper in the molten material formed a thin film on the surface of the solid. The tungsten then filled the pores in the resulting material, allowing it to retain the same shape and size despite the chemical changes. The zircon carbide ends up providing the material with a stiffness even at high temperatures, while the tungsten is flexible enough to keep the whole thing from being brittle. And the whole thing conducted heat better than the metals currently in use. The remaining issue is that, at the conditions involved in solar thermal plants, the copper on the material would react with the carbon dioxide, forming a copper oxide and releasing carbon monoxide. But the researchers determined that adding a small amount of carbon monoxide to the supercritical CO2 would suppress this reaction, something that they confirmed experimentally. Because the material holds up to these conditions so much better than the metals currently in use, it's possible to use much less of it to build a heat exchanger. This is great economically (since you need fewer raw materials), and the small size increases the power density and efficiency of the heat exchanger.

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Volkswagen is building an EV factory near Shanghai, should Tesla be worried? - Roadshow

CNET News - 10 hours 50 min ago
The new facility will be environmentally friendly and build vehicles on the all-electric MEB platform.

These new kitchen gadgets will change how you cook, store and dispose of your food - CNET

CNET News - 10 hours 50 min ago
We got a look at the latest in food tech at the 2018 Smart Kitchen Summit.

Keegan-Michael Key and the most ridiculous 5G interview ever - CNET

CNET News - 10 hours 50 min ago
Has the 5G hype gotten out of hand? Just wait until comedic actor Keegan-Michael Key weighs in.

Latest Windows 10 Update Has Yet Another File-Managing Issue

SlashDot - 12 hours 17 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes Gizmodo: When it was discovered earlier this month that the 1809 build of Windows 10 was deleting user files just because, Microsoft halted the update until the problem was fixed. Shame, then, that another not-as-bad-but-still-bad file overwriting bug has now reared its head. in 1809, overwriting files by extracting from an archive using File Explorer doesn't result in an overwrite prompt dialogue and also doesn't replace any files at all; it just fails silently. There are also some reports that it did overwrite items, but did so silently without asking. Ars Technica speculates that there's a larger program with Microsoft's testing process: [M]any of the preview builds had a bug wherein deleting a directory that was synced to OneDrive crashed the machine. Not only was this bug integrated into the Windows code, it was allowed to ship to end users. This tells us some fundamental things about how Windows is being developed. Either tests do not exist at all for this code (and I've been told that yes, it's permitted to integrate code without tests, though I would hope this isn't the norm), or test failures are being regarded as acceptable, non-blocking issues, and developers are being allowed to integrate code that they know doesn't work properly... Microsoft's new development process has, proportionately, a greater amount of time spent writing new features, and a reduced amount of time stabilizing and fixing those features. That would be fine if the quality of the features were higher to start with, with the testing infrastructure to support it and higher standards before new code was integrated. But the experience with Windows 10 thus far is that Microsoft hasn't developed the processes and systems needed to sustain this new approach.

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Trolls Are Still Actively Trying to Influence Brexit and US Elections

SlashDot - 15 hours 17 min ago
TechCrunch reports: A major new campaign of disinformation around Brexit, designed to stir up U.K. 'Leave' voters, and distributed via Facebook, may have reached over 10 million people in the U.K., according to new research. The source of the campaign is so far unknown, and will be embarrassing to Facebook, which only this week claimed it was clamping down on "dark" political advertising on its platform. Researchers for the U.K.-based digital agency 89up allege that Mainstream Network -- which looks and reads like a "mainstream" news site but which has no contact details or reporter bylines -- is serving hyper-targeted Facebook advertisements aimed at exhorting people in Leave-voting U.K. constituencies to tell their MP to "chuck Chequers." Chequers is the name given to the U.K. Prime Ministers's proposed deal with the EU regarding the U.K.'s departure from the EU next year. ABC News reports: When the Justice Department unsealed criminal charges detailing a yearslong effort by a Russian troll farm to "sow division and discord in the U.S. political system," it was the first federal case alleging continued foreign interference in U.S. elections. Earlier Friday, American intelligence officials released a rare public statement asserting that Russia, China, Iran and other countries are engaged in ongoing efforts to influence U.S. policy and voters in future elections. The statement didn't provide details on those efforts. That stood in contrast with the criminal charges, which provided a detailed narrative of Russian activities... The criminal complaint provided a clear picture that there is still a hidden but powerful Russian social media effort aimed at spreading distrust for American political candidates and causing divisions on social issues such as immigration and gun control.... Court papers describe how the operatives in Friday's case would analyze U.S. news articles and decide how they would draft social media messages about those stories. They also show that Russian trolls have stepped up their efforts with a better understanding the U.S. political climate and messages that are no longer riddled with misspellings. CNN notes that one week before America's 2016 presidential election, "one of the Kremlin-backed accounts denied that Russian meddling, saying: 'Russia's Putin says Moscow not trying to influence U.S. election.'"

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Twitter employee may have spied on users for Saudis, says report - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2018-10-20 23:42
Intelligence officials alerted the social network in 2015, and it fired the worker, reports The New York Times.

Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight With Bits of Halley's Comet

SlashDot - Sat, 2018-10-20 23:34
An anonymous reader quotes Space.com: If you're a meteor enthusiast, the year 2018 has been very kind to you. This past summer, the annual Perseid meteor shower reached its peak the day after a new moon, ensuring that no moonlight would hinder those spotting celestial streakers. And looking ahead to December, the Geminid meteor shower, the most prolific of all of the annual displays, will reach its peak when an almost-first-quarter moon is setting during the late evening hours. This will make for excellent viewing conditions. And coming almost midway between these two popular showers, this weekend brings one of the most reliable meteor events. A sort of lesser version of the summertime Perseids, the Orionid meteor shower should reach its peak activity early on Sunday morning... [Y]ou should wait until around 2 a.m. in your local time zone, when Orion will have climbed well above the horizon. And just prior to the break of dawn, at around 5 a.m., Orion will appear highest in the sky toward the south. That's when Orionid viewing will be at its best... Past studies have demonstrated that about half of all observed Orionids leave trails that last longer than those of other meteors of equivalent brightness. This is undoubtedly connected to the makeup of Halley's Comet; the object produces meteors that start burning up very high in our atmosphere, at around 80 miles (130 km) up, possibly because they are composed of lightweight material. This suggests they came from the diffuse surface of Halley's nucleus as opposed to its core.

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Climate Modeller Wins $10,000 Wager Against Solar Physicists, Fails To Collect

SlashDot - Sat, 2018-10-20 21:39
Layzej writes: Back in 2005, solar physicists Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev made a $10,000 bet that global temperatures, driven primarily by changes in the Sun's activity, would fall over the next decade. The bet would compare the then record hot years between 1998 to 2003 with that between between 2012 and 2017. With temperatures falling from their peak during the 1998 super El-Nino, and solar output continuing to fall, this seemed like a sure bet. The results are now in and all datasets show that climate modeler James Annan is the clear winner. At the time of the wager, Annan had supposed that the reputation of the scientists involved would be enough to ensure payment once the bet was settled. Unfortunately, as was the case with Alfred Russel Wallace's famous 1870 bet against flat-Earthers, the losing parties have refused to pay up. "More precisely, Bashkirtsev is refusing to pay," writes the climate modeler on his blog, "and Mashnich is refusing to even reply to email. "With impressive chutzpah, Bashkirtsev proposed we should arrange a follow-up bet which he would promise to honour."

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Slashdot Asks: Should 'Crunch' Overtime Be Optional?

SlashDot - Sat, 2018-10-20 19:44
An anonymous reader quotes Forbes: Rockstar Games co-founder and VP Dan Hauser unleashed a storm of controversy when he casually stated in an interview with Vulture that "We were working 100-hour weeks" putting the finishing touches on Red Dead Redemption 2. Reaction was swift with many condemning the ubiquitous practice of crunch time in the video game industry in general and Rockstar's history of imposing harsh demands on its employees in particular... Hauser responded that he was talking about a senior writing team of four people working over a three-week period. This kind of intense short-term engagement was common for the team which had been working together for 12 years. Hauser went on to say that Rockstar doesn't "ask or expect anyone to work anything like this". Employees are given the option of working excessive overtime but doing so is a "choice" not a requirement. A QA tester at Rockstar's Lincoln studio in the UK has taken to Reddit to answer questions and clarify misconceptions about overtime at Rockstar that have arisen in the wake of Hauser's comments.... He has no knowledge of working conditions at other Rockstar studios. The first thing the poster points out is that he and other QA testers (with the possible exception of salaried staff) are paid for their overtime work. He then writes "The other big thing is that this overtime is NOT optional, it is expected of us. If we are not able to work overtime on a certain day without a good reason, you have to make it up on another day. This usually means that if you want a full weekend off that you will have to work a double weekend to make up for it... We have been in crunch since October 9th 2017 which is before I started working here...." [A] requirement to opt into weekly overtime shifts and more than a year of required crunch time ranging from 56 to 81.5 hours spent at work each week is a far, far cry from Hauser's claim that overtime is a "choice" offered to Rockstar's employees. The good news is that Rockstar has changed its overtime policies in response to the negative press engendered by Hauser's 100-hours comment [according to the verified Rock Star employed on Reddit]. Beginning next week "all overtime going forward will be entirely optional, so if we want to work the extra hours and earn the extra money (As well as make yourself look better for progression) then we can do, but there is no longer a rule making us do it." The videogame correspondent for Forbes argues that this "crunch time is the norm" idea in the videogame industry "is unconscionable and untenable. No one, in any line of work, should be expected to sacrifice their family for their job. If people want to devote their life to their job, they should be able to do so but those who would rather work a standard work-week should also be able to do so without suffering adverse job-related consequences." But what do Slashdot's readers think? Should 'crunch' overtime be optional?

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