Tech News Feed

How I Became an NFL Quarterback (in VR) - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-09-24 08:00
NFL Pro Era could bring VR into the mainstream, letting you play as an NFL quarterback.

Are You Thinking About Electric Car Charging the Wrong Way? - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2022-09-24 08:00
A new Stanford study finds that overnight EV charging at home isn't the holy grail.

CIA Launches First Podcast, 'The Langley Files'

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-09-24 06:00
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is launching a podcast called "The Langley Files." As the agency explains, "The mission of 'The Langley Files: A CIA Podcast' is to educate and connect with the general public, sharing insight into the Agency's core mission, capabilities and agility as an intelligence leader... and to share some interesting stories along the way!" Variety reports: The podcast features suspenseful intro music and a narrator explaining that CIA will be "sharing what we can" with stories that go "beyond those of Hollywood scripts and shadowed whispers." CIA Director Bill Burns is the featured guest on Episode 1 of "The Langley Files." "We do usually operate in the shadows, out of sight and out of mind," Burns said in the premiere. However, he continued, "in our democracy, where trust in institutions is in such short supply... it's important to try to explain ourselves the best we can and to demystify a little bit of what we do." According to Burns, one of the biggest misconceptions people have about the CIA stems from Hollywood's depictions of intelligence field agents. Many people think CIA is a "glamorous world" of "heroic individuals who drive fast cars and defuse bombs and solve world crises all on their own" -- a la Jason Bourne, James Bond and Jack Ryan. (Bond is a British spy, but you get the drift.) On the podcast, Burns shared that he drives a 2013 Subaru Outback "at posted speed limits." [...] The CIA says each episode of the podcast will be about 15-30 minutes long and will "feature our hosts leading conversations with a range of special guests." The series is distributed on major audio platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music and "From all of us here at CIA -- we'll be seeing you," said one of the hosts before signing off the inaugural episode.

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Alien-Hunting Astronomer Says There May Be a Second Interstellar Object On Earth In New Study

SlashDot - Sat, 2022-09-24 03:00
A pair of researchers who previously identified what may be the first known interstellar meteor to impact Earth have now presented evidence of a second object that could have originated beyond the solar system, before it burned up in our planet's skies and potentially fell to the surface, according to a new study. Motherboard reports: Amir Siraj, a student in astrophysics at Harvard University, and astronomer Avi Loeb, who serves as Harvard's Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science, suggest that a fast-moving meteor that burst into a fireball hundreds of miles off the coast of Portugal on March 9, 2017, is an "additional interstellar object candidate" that they call interstellar meteor 2 (IM2) in a study posted to the preprint server arXiv this week. The paper has not been peer-reviewed. In addition to their potential origin beyond the solar system, these objects appear to be extraordinarily robust, as they rank as the first- and third-highest meteors in material strength in a NASA catalog that has collected data about hundreds of fireballs. "We don't have a large enough sample to say how much stronger interstellar objects are than solar system objects, but we can say that they are stronger," Siraj said in an email. "The odds of randomly drawing two objects in the top 3 out of 273 is 1 in 10 thousand. And when we look at the specific numbers relative to the distribution of objects, we find that the Gaussian odds are more like 1 in a million." This makes IM2 "an outlier in material strength," Loeb added in a follow-up call with Siraj. "To us, it means that the source is different from planetary systems like the solar system." Loeb has attracted widespread attention in recent years over his speculation that the first interstellar object ever identified, known as 'Oumuamua, was an artifact of alien technology. Spotted in 2017, 'Oumuamua sped through the solar system and was up to a quarter-mile in scale, making it much larger than the interstellar meteor candidates identified by Siraj and Loeb, which are a few feet across. Loeb's claims of an artificial origin for 'Oumuamua have provoked substantial pushback from many scientists who do not consider a technological explanation to be likely. Loeb also thinks these interstellar meteor candidates could be alien artifacts, though he and Siraj present a mind-boggling natural explanation for the strangely robust objects in the study: The meteors may be a kind of interstellar shrapnel produced by the explosions of large stars, called supernovae. [...] Loeb, of course, is keeping his mind open. "We don't say, necessarily, that it is artificial," Loeb said in the call, referring to the supernovae explanation. But, he added, "obviously, there is a possibility that a spacecraft was designed to sustain such harsh conditions as passing through the Earth's atmosphere, so we should allow for that."

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Vultures Prevent Tens of Millions of Metric Tons of Carbon Emissions Each Year

SlashDot - Fri, 2022-09-23 23:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: Vultures are hard birds for humans to love. They are an obligate scavenger, meaning they get all their food from already dead prey -- and that association has cast them as a harbinger of death since ancient times. But in reality, vultures are nature's flying sanitation crew. And new research adds to that positive picture by detailing these birds' role in a surprising process: mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. With their impressive vision and the range they can cover in their long, soaring flights, the 22 species of vultures found around the world are often the first scavengers to discover and feed on a carcass. This cleanup provides a vital service to both ecosystems and humans: it keeps nutrients cycling and controls pathogens that could otherwise spread from dead animals to living ones. Decaying animal bodies release greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane. But most of these emissions can be prevented if vultures get to the remains first, a new study in Ecosystem Services shows. It calculates that an individual vulture eats between 0.2 and one kilogram (kg) of carcass per day, depending on the vulture species. Left uneaten, each kg of naturally decomposing carcass emits about 0.86 kg of CO2 equivalent. This estimate assumes that carcasses not eaten by vultures are left to decay. But many carcasses are composted or buried by humans, which result in more emissions than natural decay, so vulture consumption can avert even more emissions when replacing those methods. The avoided emissions may not sound like much, but multiply those estimates by the estimated 134 million to 140 million vultures around the world, and the number becomes more impressive: tens of millions of metric tons of emissions avoided per year. But this ecosystem service is not evenly distributed around the world. It occurs mostly in the Americas, says the study's lead author Pablo Plaza, a biologist at the National University of Comahue in Argentina. Three species found only in the Americas -- the Black, Turkey and Yellow-headed vultures -- are responsible for 96 percent of all vulture-related emissions mitigation worldwide, Plaza and his colleagues found. Collectively, vultures in the Americas keep about 12 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent out of the atmosphere annually. Using estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that is akin to taking 2.6 million cars off the road each year. The situation outside of the Americas stands in stark contrast. "The decline in vulture populations in many regions of the world, such as Africa and Asia, has produced a concomitant loss of the ecosystem services vultures produce," Plaza says.

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The World's Largest Carbon Removal Project Yet Is Headed For Wyoming

SlashDot - Fri, 2022-09-23 21:25
A couple of climate tech startups plan to suck a hell of a lot of carbon dioxide out of the air and trap it underground in Wyoming. The Verge reports: The goal of the new endeavor, called Project Bison, is to build a new facility capable of drawing down 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2030. The CO2 can then be stored deep within the Earth, keeping it out of the atmosphere, where it would have continued to heat up the planet. A Los Angeles-based company called CarbonCapture is building the facility, called a direct air capture (DAC) plant, that is expected to start operations as early as next year. It'll start small and work up to 5 million metric tons a year. If all goes smoothly by 2030, the operation will be orders of magnitude larger than existing direct air capture projects. CarbonCapture's equipment is modular, which is what the company says makes the technology easy to scale up. The plant itself will be made of modules that look like stacks of shipping containers with vents that air passes through. At first, the modules used for Project Bison will be made at CarbonCapture's headquarters in Los Angeles. In the first phase of the project, expected to be completed next year, around 25 modules will be deployed in Wyoming. Those modules will collectively have the capacity to remove about 12,000 tons of CO2 a year from the air. The plan is to deploy more modules in Wyoming over time and potentially manufacture the modules there one day, too. Inside each of the 40-foot modules are about 16 "reactors" with "sorbent cartridges" that essentially act as filters that attract CO2. The filters capture about 75 percent of the CO2 from the air that passes over them. Within about 30 to 40 minutes, the filters have absorbed all the CO2 they can. Once the filters are fully saturated, the reactor goes offline so that the filters can be heated up to separate out the CO2. There are many reactors within one module, each running at its own pace so that they're constantly collecting CO2. Together, they generate concentrated streams of CO2 that can then be compressed and sent straight to underground wells for storage. DAC is still very expensive -- it can cost upwards of $600 to capture a ton of carbon dioxide. That figure is expected to come down with time as the technology advances. But for now, it takes a lot of energy to run DAC plants, which contributes to the big price tag. The filters need to reach around 85 degrees Celsius (185 degrees Fahrenheit) for a few minutes, and getting to those kinds of high temperature for DAC plants can get pretty energy-intensive. Eventually, [...] Bison plans to get enough power from new wind and solar installations. When the project is running at its full capacity in 2030, it's expected to use the equivalent of about 2GW of solar energy per year. For comparison, about 3 million photovoltaic panels together generate a gigawatt of solar energy, according to the Department of Energy. But initially, the energy used by Project Bison might have to come from natural gas, according to Corless. So Bison would first need to capture enough CO2 to cancel out the amount of emissions it generates by burning through that gas before it can go on to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. "The geology in Wyoming allows Project Bison to store the captured CO2 on-site near the modules," adds The Verge. "Project Bison plans to permanently store the CO2 it captures underground. Specifically, project leaders are looking at stowing it 12,000 feet underground in 'saline aquifers' -- areas of rock that are saturated with salt water."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Accused Russian RSOCKS Botmaster Arrested, Requests Extradition To US

SlashDot - Fri, 2022-09-23 20:45
A 36-year-old Russian man recently identified by KrebsOnSecurity as the likely proprietor of the massive RSOCKS botnet has been arrested in Bulgaria at the request of U.S. authorities. At a court hearing in Bulgaria this month, the accused hacker requested and was granted extradition to the United States, reportedly telling the judge, "America is looking for me because I have enormous information and they need it." From the report: On June 22, KrebsOnSecurity published Meet the Administrators of the RSOCKS Proxy Botnet, which identified Denis Kloster, a.k.a. Denis Emelyantsev, as the apparent owner of RSOCKS, a collection of millions of hacked devices that were sold as "proxies" to cybercriminals looking for ways to route their malicious traffic through someone else's computer. A native of Omsk, Russia, Kloster came into focus after KrebsOnSecurity followed clues from the RSOCKS botnet master's identity on the cybercrime forums to Kloster's personal blog, which featured musings on the challenges of running a company that sells "security and anonymity services to customers around the world." Kloster's blog even included a group photo of RSOCKS employees. The Bulgarian news outlet reports that Kloster was arrested in June at a co-working space in the southwestern ski resort town of Bansko, and that the accused asked to be handed over to the American authorities. "I have hired a lawyer there and I want you to send me as quickly as possible to clear these baseless charges," Kloster reportedly told the Bulgarian court this week. "I am not a criminal and I will prove it in an American court." 24Chasa said the defendant's surname is Emelyantsev and that he only recently adopted the last name Kloster, which is his mother's maiden name. As KrebsOnSecurity reported in June, Kloster also appears to be a major player in the Russian email spam industry. [...] Kloster turned 36 while awaiting his extradition hearing, and may soon be facing charges that carry punishments of up to 20 years in prison.

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Compute North Files For Bankruptcy As Cryptomining Data Center Owes Up To $500 Million

SlashDot - Fri, 2022-09-23 20:02
Compute North, one of the largest operators of crypto-mining data centers, filed for bankruptcy and revealed that its CEO stepped down as the rout in cryptocurrency prices weighs on the industry. CoinDesk reports: The company filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas and owed as much as $500 million to at least 200 creditors, according to a filing. Compute North in February announced a capital raise of $385 million, consisting of an $85 million Series C equity round and $300 million in debt financing. But it fell into bankruptcy as miners struggle to survive amid slumping bitcoin (BTC) prices, rising power costs and record difficulty in mining bitcoin. The filing is likely to have negative implications for the industry. Compute North is one of the largest data center providers for miners, and has multiple deals with other larger mining companies. "The Company has initiated voluntary Chapter 11 proceedings to provide the company with the opportunity to stabilize its business and implement a comprehensive restructuring process that will enable us to continue servicing our customers and partners and make the necessary investments to achieve our strategic objectives," a spokesperson told CoinDesk in an emailed statement. CEO Dave Perrill stepped down earlier this month but will continue to serve on the board, the spokesperson added. Drake Harvey, who has been chief operating officer for the last year, has taken the role of president at Compute North, the spokesperson said. Compute North has four facilities in the U.S. -- two in Texas and one in both South Dakota and Nebraska, according to its website.

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Bosses Think Workers Do Less From Home, Says Microsoft

SlashDot - Fri, 2022-09-23 19:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: A major new survey from Microsoft shows that bosses and workers fundamentally disagree about productivity when working from home. Bosses worry about whether working from home is as productive as being in the office. While 87% of workers felt they worked as, or more, efficiently from home, 80% of managers disagreed. The survey questioned more than 20,000 staff across 11 countries. Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella told the BBC this tension needed to be resolved as workplaces were unlikely to ever return to pre-pandemic work habits. "We have to get past what we describe as 'productivity paranoia,' because all of the data we have that shows that 80% plus of the individual people feel they're very productive -- except their management thinks that they're not productive. That means there is a real disconnect in terms of the expectations and what they feel." Both Mr Nadella and Ryan Roslansky, the boss of Microsoft-owned LinkedIn, said employers were grappling with perhaps the biggest shift in working patterns in history. The number of fully-remote jobs advertised on LinkedIn soared during the pandemic but Mr Roslansky said data suggested that type of role might have peaked. He told the BBC that of some 14 or 15 million job listings that are typically live on LinkedIn, about 2% of those involved remote working before the pandemic. Some months ago, that stood at 20%, and it has since come down to 15% this month. At a time of acute labour shortages, employers are having to work harder to recruit, enthuse and retain staff. That even includes Microsoft itself, according to Mr Nadella. "We had 70,000 people who joined Microsoft during the pandemic, they sort of saw Microsoft through the lens of the pandemic. And now when we think about the next phase, you need to re-energize them, re-recruit them, help them form social connections." An unprecedented number of people have also changed jobs since the start of the pandemic. A phenomenon Microsoft has dubbed "the great reshuffle", sees workers born after 1997 (so-called Generation Z) nearly twice as likely to switch jobs. "At the peak of our 'great reshuffle' we saw a year-on-year increase of 50% of LinkedIn members changing jobs. Gen Z was at 90%," the report said. By 2030, Generation Z will make up about 30% of the entire workforce so managers need to understand them, according to LinkedIn's boss.

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Fitbit Accounts Are Being Replaced By Google Accounts

SlashDot - Fri, 2022-09-23 18:40
New Fitbit users will be required to sign-up with a Google account, from next year, while it also appears one will be needed to access some of the new features in years to come. Trusted Reviews reports: Google has been slowly integrating Fitbit into the fold since buying the company back in November 2019. Indeed, the latest products are now known as "Fitbit by Google." However, as it currently stands, device owners have been able to maintain separate accounts for Google and Fitbit accounts. Google has now revealed it is bringing Google Accounts to Fitbit in 2023, enabling a single login for both services. From that point on, all new sign ups will be through Google. Fitbit accounts will only be supported until 2025. From that point on, a Google account will be the only way to go. To aid the transition, once the introduction of Google accounts begins, it'll be possible to move existing devices over while maintaining all of the recorded data.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

San Francisco Passes Controversial Surveillance Plan

SlashDot - Fri, 2022-09-23 18:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from SFGate: In a 7-4 vote on Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors agreed to test Mayor London Breed's controversial plan to overhaul the city's surveillance practices, which will allow police to access private security cameras in real time. Supervisors Catherine Stefani, Aaron Peskin, Gordon Mar, Matt Dorsey, Myrna Melgar, Rafael Mandelman and Ahsha Safai voted to approve the trial run, while Connie Chan, Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen and Shamann Walton voted in dissent. Under the new policy, police can access up to 24 hours of live video of outdoor footage from private surveillance cameras owned by individuals or businesses without a warrant as long as the camera's owner allows it. Police must meet one of three outlined criteria to use their newfound power: they must be responding to a life-threatening emergency, deciding how to deploy officers in response to a large public event or conducting a criminal investigation that was approved in writing by a captain or higher-ranking police official. The trial will last 15 months. If supervisors wish to extend or revise the policy, they must take a second vote. "I know the thought process is, 'Just trust us, just trust the police department.' But the reality is people have been violating civil liberties since my ancestors were brought here from an entirely, completely different continent," Walton, the board president and District 10 representative, said. San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins added: "I believe this policy can help address the existence of open-air drug markets fueling the sale of the deadly drug fentanyl. Drug dealers are destroying people's lives and wreaking havoc on neighborhoods like the Tenderloin. Mass organized retail theft, like we saw in Union Square last year, or targeted neighborhood efforts like we've seen in Chinatown is another area where the proposed policy can help."

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Best Free Checking Accounts for September 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-09-23 17:39
No-fee checking accounts don't charge you to access your money.

New York To Install Surveillance Cameras in Every Subway Car

SlashDot - Fri, 2022-09-23 17:21
New York, home of the largest rapid transit system in the country, will install surveillance cameras in every New York City subway car by 2025, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced earlier this week. From a report: The move is aimed at increasing riders' confidence in subway safety, Hochul said, as ridership numbers are still lagging behind pre-pandemic levels. It also follows several highly publicized crimes that have occurred in the transit system, including the rape of a tourist on a subway platform this month; a mass shooting on a subway car in Brooklyn in April that left 10 passengers wounded; and the fatal shooting of a Goldman Sachs employee on a train in May. But the decision to install cameras on subway cars worries some privacy advocates, who say it will increase the level of surveillance of New Yorkers without necessarily making the subway safer. Subway stations in the city already have surveillance cameras. "It's awful. This just seems like a terrible surveillance PR stunt just to boost ridership," said Albert Fox Cahn, the founder and executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP), a nonprofit aimed at reigning in digital surveillance in New York. "We have no idea how they would be sharing the data with federal and out-of-state partners," Fox Cahn said.

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Nothing Follows the Phone 1 With A Lipstick Tube-Looking Earbuds Case - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-09-23 17:14
Nothing to see here, unless you're curious about storing your earbuds in a lipstick-looking case.

Google Home can now use Nest speakers to detect your presence

Engadget - Fri, 2022-09-23 17:10

Google Home no longer needs to lean solely on smart home devices like thermostats to know whether or not you're around. Home's optional presence sensing feature can now use interactions with Nest speakers and smart displays to help detect activity in your abode, letting it perform automated actions. If you talk to your Nest Audio or tap your Nest Hub, for instance, Google may know to turn the lights on. Second-gen Nest Hubs can also use their Soli radar sensor to tell when you're close.

You can enable presence sensing in the Google Home app for Android and iOS by visiting the Features section in the settings. Detection is strictly opt-in, and Google stresses that ambient noise won't trigger presence cues. Cameras, doorbells and the Nest Hub Max won't switch devices between "home" and "away" modes.

Google Home presence sensing settings on AndroidGoogle

The expansion makes presence detection considerably more useful. Until now, you needed a Nest Guard, Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat or Nest x Yale smart lock in tandem with your phone's location. While those are frequently good indicators, they don't always tell the full story — you might lock the door when someone is still at home. The use of speakers and displays could make Google's smart home automation more reliable, particularly in unusual scenarios.

Best Online Glasses and Contacts Deals: 50% Off Glasses USA, 20% Off Lensabl and More - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-09-23 17:00
These offers are a sight for sore eyes, but they won't stick around for long, so grab them while you can.

Best Gifts for the CrossFit Fan in Your Life - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-09-23 17:00
You don't have to understand the CrossFit fan in your life to support them with a great gift they'll love.

Elon Musk Activates Starlink For Iranian Citizens

SlashDot - Fri, 2022-09-23 17:00
Elon Musk announced that he was activating Starlink in response to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's tweet announcing the issuing of a General License to provide the Iranian people with access to digital communications. Teslarati reports: Currently, in Iran, massive protests are happening as a result of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained by the morality police for her head scarf not being properly worn. Although she had no known heart-related health problems, the police said she suddenly died of heart failure. Eyewitnesses said that she was beaten and her head hit the side of a police car. This along with leaked medical scans suggested cerebral hemorrhage and stroke. In response to her death, there have been several large-scale protests across Iran that received international support from world leaders, celebrities, and organizations. The Iranian government sided with the morality police and has been suppressing the protests, shooting protestors with metal pellets and birdshot, and deploying tear gas and water cannons. The government also blocked access to many apps including Instagram and WhatsApp and limited internet access to prevent protestors from organizing. This is where Starlink comes in. A few days ago, Elon Musk said that Starlink would seek exemption from Iranian sanctions. This was in response to @Erfankasraie who asked if Elon could provide Starlink to the Iranian people. "It could be a game changer for the future." Elon also responded, "OK," to @agusantonetti who asked if he could do the same for other countries under a dictatorship such as Cuba. Further reading: As Unrest Grows, Iran Restricts Access To Instagram, WhatsApp

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