Computers & Linux News

The Desert Planet In 'Dune' Is Plausible, According To Science

SlashDot - Sat, 2024-03-02 02:00
The desert planet Arrakis in Frank Herbert's science fiction novel Dune is plausible, says Alexander Farnsworth, a climate modeler at the University of Bristol in England. According to Science News, the world would be a harsh place for humans to live, and they probably wouldn't have to worry about getting eaten by extraterrestrial helminths. From the report: For their Arrakis climate simulation, which you can explore at the website Climate Archive, Farnsworth and colleagues started with the well-known physics that drive weather and climate on Earth. Using our planet as a starting point makes sense, Farnsworth says, partly because Herbert drew inspiration for Arrakis from "some sort of semi-science of looking at dune systems on the Earth itself." The team then added nuggets of information about the planet from details in Herbert's novels and in the Dune Encyclopedia. According to that intel, the fictional planet's atmosphere is similar to Earth's with a couple of notable differences. Arrakis has less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than Earth -- about 350 parts per million on the desert planet compared with 417 parts per million on Earth. But Dune has far more ozone in its lower atmosphere: 0.5 percent of the gases in the atmosphere compared to Earth's 0.000001 percent. All that extra ozone is crucial for understanding the planet. Ozone is a powerful greenhouse gas, about 65 times as potent at warming the atmosphere as carbon dioxide is, when measured over a 20-year period. "Arrakis would certainly have a much warmer atmosphere, even though it has less CO2 than Earth today," Farnsworth says. In addition to warming the planet, so much ozone in the lower atmosphere could be bad news. "For humans, that would be incredibly toxic, I think, almost fatal if you were to live under such conditions," Farnsworth says. People on Arrakis would probably have to rely on technology to scrub ozone from the air. Of course, ozone in the upper atmosphere could help shield Arrakis from harmful radiation from its star, Canopus. (Canopus is a real star also known as Alpha Carinae. It's visible in the Southern Hemisphere and is the second brightest star in the sky. Unfortunately for Dune fans, it isn't known to have planets.) If Arrakis were real, it would be located about as far from Canopus as Pluto is from the sun, Farnsworth says. But Canopus is a large white star calculated to be about 7,200 degrees Celsius. "That's significantly hotter than the sun," which runs about 2,000 degrees cooler, Farnsworth says. But "there's a lot of supposition and assumptions they made in here, and whether those are accurate numbers or not, I can't say." The climate simulation revealed that Arrakis probably wouldn't be exactly as Herbert described it. For instance, in one throwaway line, the author described polar ice caps receding in the summer heat. But Farnsworth and colleagues say it would be far too hot at the poles, about 70Â C during the summer, for ice caps to exist at all. Plus, there would be too little precipitation to replenish the ice in the winter. High clouds and other processes would warm the atmosphere at the poles and keep it warmer than lower latitudes, especially in the summertime. Although Herbert's novels have people living in the midlatitudes and close to the poles, the extreme summer heat and bone-chilling -40C to -75C temperatures in the winters would make those regions nearly unlivable without technology, Farnsworth says. Temperatures in Arrakis' tropical latitudes would be relatively more pleasant at 45C in the warmest months and about 15C in colder months. On Earth, high humidity in the tropics makes it far warmer than at the poles. But on Arrakis, "most of the atmospheric moisture was essentially removed from the tropics," making even the scorching summers more tolerable. The poles are where clouds and the paltry amount of moisture gather and heat the atmosphere. But the tropics on Arrakis pose their own challenges. Hurricane force winds would regularly sandblast inhabitants and build dunes up to 250 meters tall, the researchers calculate. It doesn't mean people couldn't live on Arrakis, just that they'd need technology and lots of off-world support to bring in food and water, Farnsworth says. "I'd say it's a very livable world, just a very inhospitable world."

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Helium Discovery In Northern Minnesota May Be Biggest Ever In North America

SlashDot - Fri, 2024-03-01 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBS News: Scientists and researchers are celebrating what they call a "dream" discovery after an exploratory drill confirmed a high concentration of helium buried deep in Minnesota's Iron Range. Thomas Abraham-James, CEO of Pulsar Helium, said the confirmed presence of helium could be one of the most significant such finds in the world. CBS News Minnesota toured the drill site soon after the drill rig first broke ground at the beginning of February. The discovery happened more than three weeks later at about 2 a.m. Thursday, as a drill reached its depth of 2,200 feet below the surface. According to Abraham-James, the helium concentration was measured at 12.4%, which is higher than forecasted and roughly 30 times the industry standard for commercial helium. "12.4% is just a dream. It's perfect," he said. Now that helium is confirmed to be underground in Babbitt, Abraham-James said the next phase of the project is a feasibility study by an independent third party to study the size of the well and whether it could support a full-service helium plant. "It's not just about drilling one hole, but now proving up the geological models, being able to get some really good data that wasn't captured in the original discovery," he explained. "It has the potential to really contribute to local society." The company said the feasibility study could take until the end of the year to complete.

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Yelp Says Remote-First Policy Boosted Job Apps By 43%, Led To a More Satisfied Workforce

SlashDot - Fri, 2024-03-01 21:02
Since implementing a remote-first policy in 2021, Yelp says it's experienced a surge in job applications and a more satisfied workforce. Fortune reports: Last year, the total number of job applicants was 43% higher compared to 2021, according to Yelp's 2024 Remote Work Report released earlier this month. The number of applicants for sales roles skyrocketed by 103%, and prospects for its general and administrative (G&A) positions shot up 52% over the same time period. Those increases fall in line with data that shows a tidal wave of applicants clamoring for remote jobs. "It's rewarding to see both the level of interest and the quality of our applicants," Carmen Amara, chief people officer at Yelp, told Fortune. "Remote work has allowed us to attract a number of candidates who previously would not have applied to Yelp due to their location." Despite arguments that remote work weakens workers' connections and growth opportunities, Yelp says it has found the opposite to be true. About 90% of the company's more than 4,700 employees say they have found effective ways to collaborate remotely, and 91% say they are confident in upward career mobility while working out of the office. Flexible schedules have also facilitated a healthy work-life balance -- about 89% of the company's workers say they can manage personal and professional demands, and the same amount say that the remote model has allowed them to make positive changes for their wellbeing. Notably, Yelp's global tenure has increased to 3.5 years in 2023, compared to 2.8 years the year prior. The company says it's using the money it saved from shutting down its underutilized offices in New York City, Chicago, and Washington D.C., to funnel back into employee benefits, professional development, and wellness reimbursements.

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Meta Says It's Deleting All Oculus Accounts At the End of the Month

SlashDot - Fri, 2024-03-01 20:25
Emma Roth reports via The Verge: If you still haven't migrated your Oculus account to a Meta one, you might want to do that soon. In an email sent to users, the company says it will delete Oculus accounts on March 29th, 2024, preventing you from reactivating or retrieving your apps, in-app purchases, store credits, and more. You'll lose your achievements, friends list, and any content created with your Oculus account if you don't migrate to a Meta account before then. Oculus accounts have been on the way out since 2020, when the company then known as Facebook started requiring new users to sign up with Facebook accounts instead. However, it added the ability to create a Meta account in 2022, offering an alternative to users who didn't want to link their Facebook account to their Quest headset. Meta stopped letting users log in to their Oculus accounts in January 2023. If you've got a Quest gathering dust in a drawer somewhere, now's your last chance to migrate your Oculus account to a Meta one. You can migrate your account by heading to this page and signing up for a Meta account with the same email you've used for Oculus. From there, you'll be able to access all of the same games, data, and other purchases saved to your Oculus account.

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Odysseus Lunar Lander Sent a Farewell Photo of Earth: Now What? - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-03-01 20:18
All about the first US moon mission in more than 50 years. No astronauts, but this effort will help them return.

California Approves Waymo Robotaxi Services In LA, SF Neighboring Cities

SlashDot - Fri, 2024-03-01 19:45
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved Alphabet's Waymo robotaxi service to operate in Los Angeles and some cities near San Francisco. Reuters reports: Waymo, which already operates in San Francisco and Phoenix, applied on Jan 19 to expand its driverless services, saying it would work with policymakers, first responders and community organizations. Last month, the CPUC suspended the application "for further staff review." "Waymo may begin fared driverless passenger service operations in the specified areas of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Peninsula, effective today," the regulator said on a notice posted to its website Friday.

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Rogue Editors Started a Competing Wikipedia That's Only About Roads

SlashDot - Fri, 2024-03-01 19:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: For 20 years, a loosely organized group of Wikipedia editors toiled away curating a collection of 15,000 articles on a single subject: the roads and highways of the United States. Despite minor disagreements, the US Roads Project mostly worked in harmony, but recently, a long-simmering debate over the website's rules drove this community to the brink. Efforts at compromise fell apart. There was a schism, and in the fall of 2023, the editors packed up their articles and moved over to a website dedicated to roads and roads alone. It's called AARoads, a promised land where the editors hope, at last, that they can find peace. "Roads are a background piece. People drive on them every day, but they don't give them much attention," said editor Michael Gronseth, who goes by Imzadi1979 on Wikipedia, where he dedicated his work to Michigan highways, specifically. But a road has so much to offer if you look beyond the asphalt. It's the nexus of history, geography, travel, and government, a seemingly perfect subject for the hyper-fixations of Wikipedia. "But there was a shift about a year ago," Gronseth said. "More editors started telling us that what we're doing isn't important enough, and we should go work on more significant topics." [...] The Roads Project had a number of adversaries, but the chief rival is a group known as the New Page Patrol, or the NPP for short. The NPP has a singular mission. When a new page goes up on Wikipedia, it gets reviewed by the NPP. The Patrol has special editing privileges and if a new article doesn't meet the website's standards, the NPP takes it down. "There's a faction of people who feel that basically anything is valid to be published on Wikipedia. They say, 'Hey, just throw it out there! Anything goes.' That's not where I come down." said Bil Zeleny, a former member of the NPP who goes by onel5969 on Wikipedia, a reference to the unusual spelling of his first name. At his peak, Zeleny said he was reviewing upwards of 100,000 articles a year, and he rejected a lot of articles about roads during his time. After years of frustration, Zeleny felt he was seeing too many new road articles that weren't following the rules -- entire articles that cited nothing other than Google Maps, he said. Enough was enough. Zeleny decided it was time to bring the subject to the council. Zeleny brought up the problem on the NPP discussion forum, sparking months of heated debate. Eventually, the issue became so serious that some editors proposed an official policy change on the use of maps as a source. Rule changes require a process called "Request for Comment," where everyone is invited to share their thoughts on the issue. Over the course of a month, Wikipedia users had written more than 56,000 words on the subject. For reference, that's about twice as long as Ernest Hemingway's novel The Old Man and the Sea. In the end, the roads project was successful. The vote was decisive, and Wikipedia updated its "No Original Research" policy to clarify that it's ok to cite maps and other visual sources. But this, ultimately, was a victory with no winners. "Some of us felt attacked," Gronseth said. On the US Roads Project's Discord channel, a different debate was brewing. The website didn't feel safe anymore. What would happen at the next request for comment? The community decided it was time to fork. "We don't want our articles deleted. It didn't feel like we had a choice," he said. The Wikipedia platform is designed for interoperability. If you want to start your own Wiki, you can split off and take your Wikipedia work with you, a process known as "forking." [...] Over the course of several months, the US Roads Project did the same. Leaving Wikipedia was painful, but the fight that drove the roads editors away was just as difficult for people on the other side. Some editors embroiled in the roads fights deleted their accounts, though none of these ex-Wikipedian's responded to Gizmodo's requests for comment. Bil Zeleny was among the casualties. After almost six years of hard work on the New Post Patrol, he reached the breaking point. The controversy had pushed him too far, and Zeleny resigned from the NPP. [...] AARoads actually predates Wikipedia, tracing its origins all the way back to the prehistoric internet days of the year 2000, complete with articles, maps, forums, and a collection of over 10,000 photos of highway signs and markers. When the US Roads Project needed a new home, AARoads was happy to oblige. It's a beautiful resource. It even has backlinks to relevant non-roads articles on the regular Wikipedia. But for some, it isn't home. "There are members who disagree with me, but my ultimate goal is to fork back," said Gronseth. "We made our articles license-compatible, so they can be exported back to Wikipedia someday if that becomes an option. I don't want to stay separate. I want to be part of the Wikipedia community. But we don't know where things will land, and for now, we've struck out on our own."

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Apple TV Plus Just Added 50 Award-Winning Movies to Its Catalog - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-03-01 19:01
Movies like Mean Girls, Mad Max: Fury Road and Titanic are coming to the streamer for the first time.

Hands Up If You Want To Volunteer For Layoffs, IBM Tells Staff

SlashDot - Fri, 2024-03-01 18:20
Paul Kunert writes in an exclusive report for The Register: IBM is asking staff who want to take voluntary redundancy to raise their hand as it embarks on a new round of global job cuts, though roles in Europe and within a handful of departments are expected to shoulder the brunt. The Resource Action, as Big Blue likes to euphemistically refer to layoffs, shouldn't be a massive surprise to anyone with more than a passing interest in IBM as it was signaled last month in a Q4 earnings call. Insiders told us this latest process is not considered to be financial but "transformative," although IBM was quite clear in January when CFO James Kavanaugh discussed achieving "$3 billion annual run rate in savings by the end of 2024." This is a third bigger than the initial ambition. The Reg understands that 80 percent of the reduction target is aimed at Enterprise Operations & Support (EO&S) and Q2C missions, Finance & Operations (including Procurement, CIO, HR, Marketing & Comms and Global Real Estate). The European Works Council, one IBMer told us, has informed staff that circa 50 percent of IBM's reduction goal will impact staffing levels across the European continent. As if often the preferred route, IBM is seeking employees that are happy to take voluntary redundancy, rather than ditching someone that doesn't want to leave. The sources we spoke to did not reveal the total population in scope for redundancies or the numbers of volunteers being sought. IBM did not confirm the numbers either. [...] Slovakia, we're told, is to feel the tightest squeeze with around a third of IBM's cuts in Europe landing on its International (shared services) Center in Bratislava; the Center in Hungary that supports EO&S/ Q2C, as well as the Finance function in Bulgaria are also going to absorb what our sources described as the most dramatic staff reductions.

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Police Now Need Warrant For IP Addresses, Canada's Top Court Rules

SlashDot - Fri, 2024-03-01 17:40
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled today that police must now have a warrant or court order to obtain a person or organization's IP address. CBC News reports: The top court was asked to consider whether an IP address alone, without any of the personal information attached to it, was protected by an expectation of privacy under the Charter. In a five-four split decision, the court said a reasonable expectation of privacy is attached to the numbers making up a person's IP address, and just getting those numbers alone constitutes a search. Writing for the majority, Justice Andromache Karakatsanis wrote that an IP address is "the crucial link between an internet user and their online activity." "Thus, the subject matter of this search was the information these IP addresses could reveal about specific internet users including, ultimately, their identity." Writing for the four dissenting judges, Justice Suzanne Cote disagreed with that central point, saying there should be no expectation of privacy around an IP address alone. [...] In the Supreme Court majority decision, Karakatsanis said that only considering the information associated with an IP address to be protected by the Charter and not the IP address itself "reflects piecemeal reasoning" that ignores the broad purpose of the Charter. The ruling said the privacy interests cannot be limited to what the IP address can reveal on its own "without consideration of what it can reveal in combination with other available information, particularly from third-party websites." It went on to say that because an IP address unlocks a user's identity, it comes with a reasonable expectation of privacy and is therefore protected by the Charter. "If [the Charter] is to meaningfully protect the online privacy of Canadians in today's overwhelmingly digital world, it must protect their IP addresses," the ruling said. Justice Cote, writing on behalf of justices Richard Wagner, Malcolm Rowe and Michelle O'Bonsawin, acknowledged that IP addresses "are not sought for their own sake" but are "sought for the information they reveal." "However, the evidentiary record in this case establishes that an IP address, on its own, reveals only limited information," she wrote. Cote said the biographical personal information the law was designed to protect are not revealed through having access to an IP address. Police must use that IP address to access personal information that is held by an ISP or a website that tracks customers' IP addresses to determine their habits. "On its own, an IP address does not even reveal browsing habits," Cote wrote. "What it reveals is a user's ISP -- hardly a more private piece of information than electricity usage or heat emissions." Cote said placing a reasonable expectation of privacy on an IP address alone upsets the careful balance the Supreme Court has struck between Canadians' privacy interests and the needs of law enforcement. "It would be inconsistent with a functional approach to defining the subject matter of the search to effectively hold that any step taken in an investigation engages a reasonable expectation of privacy," the dissenting opinion said.

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Apple Lays Out Security Plan for Third-Party App Stores on the iPhone - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-03-01 17:19
Apple publishes a white paper explaining its system for vetting apps installed from other app stores in the EU.

A Leaky Database Spilled 2FA Codes For the World's Tech Giants

SlashDot - Fri, 2024-03-01 17:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: A technology company that routes millions of SMS text messages across the world has secured an exposed database that was spilling one-time security codes that may have granted users' access to their Facebook, Google and TikTok accounts. The Asian technology and internet company YX International manufactures cellular networking equipment and provides SMS text message routing services. SMS routing helps to get time-critical text messages to their proper destination across various regional cell networks and providers, such as a user receiving an SMS security code or link for logging in to online services. YX International claims to send 5 million SMS text messages daily. But the technology company left one of its internal databases exposed to the internet without a password, allowing anyone to access the sensitive data inside using only a web browser, just with knowledge of the database's public IP address. Anurag Sen, a good-faith security researcher and expert in discovering sensitive but inadvertently exposed datasets leaking to the internet, found the database. Sen said it was not apparent who the database belonged to, nor who to report the leak to, so Sen shared details of the exposed database with TechCrunch to help identify its owner and report the security lapse. Sen told TechCrunch that the exposed database included the contents of text messages sent to users, including one-time passcodes and password reset links for some of the world's largest tech and online companies, including Facebook and WhatsApp, Google, TikTok, and others. The database had monthly logs dating back to July 2023 and was growing in size by the minute. In the exposed database, TechCrunch found sets of internal email addresses and corresponding passwords associated with YX International, and alerted the company to the spilling database. The database went offline a short time later.

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Best Fitness Deals: Save Hundreds on Fitbit, Bowflex, NordicTrack, Hydrow and More - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-03-01 17:00
Whether you're looking for a Hydrow rower or a Hydroflask bottle, we've found some of the best steals on home fitness equipment and accessories.

Where to Stream the Crunchyroll Anime Awards - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-03-01 16:47
Did you cast your vote for the 2024 nominees? Stream the show to find out who wins Anime of the Year and more.

Best Portable Jump Starter Deals: Up to $92 Off Top Brands - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-03-01 16:30
Give yourself peace of mind -- and go easy on your wallet -- with these portable jump starter deals.

Stack Overflow To Charge LLM Developers For Access To Its Coding Content

SlashDot - Fri, 2024-03-01 16:22
Stack Overflow has launched an API that will require all AI models trained on its coding question-and-answer content to attribute sources linking back to its posts. And it will cost money to use the site's content. From a report: "All products based on models that consume public Stack Overflow data are required to provide attribution back to the highest relevance posts that influenced the summary given by the model," it confirmed in a statement. The Overflow API is designed to act as a knowledge database to help developers build more accurate and helpful code-generation models. Google announced it was using the service to access relevant information from Stack Overflow via the API and integrate the data with its latest Gemini models, and for its cloud storage console.

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Airline Baggage Fees Are Soaring: Here's How to Avoid Them - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-03-01 15:53
A price hike by American Airlines means you can now shell out $40 for a checked bag. Read on for ways around the fee.

Worldwide Obesity Tops 1 Billion

SlashDot - Fri, 2024-03-01 15:41
Rates of obesity in the U.S. and around the world have more than doubled over the past three decades, according to a new study in The Lancet. From a report: More than 1 billion people worldwide now have obesity, a sign of worsening nutrition that's also raising the risk of leading causes of death and disease such as high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes. The global rate of obesity more than doubled among women, from 8.8% to 18.5%, and nearly tripled in men, from 4.8% to 14.0%, between 1990 and 2022, according to research that pulls from over 3,600 studies. The obesity rate among children and adolescents increased by roughly four times, from 1.7% to 6.9% in girls and 2.1% to 9.3% in boys. Just over 4 in 10 adults and 2 in 5 kids in the U.S. are obese. The U.S. now has the world's 10th-highest male obesity rate and 36th-highest female obesity rate. In 1990, the U.S. had the world's 17th-highest male obesity rate and the 41st-highest female obesity rate.

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Nab This Loaded Meater Madness Bundle for Just $146 While You Can - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-03-01 15:02
Get ready for a month of game day eats with $60 in savings on this bundle that includes a meat thermometer, mitts, rub, a hanger and more.