Small Dongle Brings the HDD Clicking Back To SSDs In Retro PCs
Longtime Slashdot reader root_42 writes:
Remember the clicking sounds of spinning hard disks? One "problem" with retro computing is that we replace those disks with compact flash, SD cards or even SSDs. Those do not make any noises that you can hear under usual circumstances, which is partly nice because the computer becomes quieter, but also irritating because sometimes you can't tell if the computer has crashed or is still working. This little device fixes that issue! It's called the HDD Clicker and it's a very unique little gadget.
"An ATtiny and a few support components ride on a small PCB along with a piezoelectric speaker," describes Hackaday. "The dongle connects to the hard drive activity light, which triggers a series of clicks from the speaker that sound remarkably like a hard drive heading seeking tracks."
A demo of the device can be viewed at 7:09, with a full defragmentation at 13:11.
Germany To Keep 2 of Its 3 Nuclear Plants Running Into April
Germany's government plans to keep two of the country's three remaining nuclear power plants running until mid-April to help prevent a potential winter energy shortage, the economy and energy minister said Tuesday. The Associated Press reports:
The announcement by Economy and Energy Minister Robert Habeck means the government has officially, albeit temporarily, reversed Germany's long-held plan to shut shut down its nuclear plants by the end of the year. Habeck said the decision to keep operating the two plants in southern Germany -- Isar 2 in Bavaria and Neckarwestheim north of Stuttgart -- into next year a "necessary" step to avoid potential power grid shortages in the region. "The situation in France is not good and has developed much worse than was actually forecasted in the last few weeks," Habeck said. "As the minister responsible for energy security I have to say: Unless this development is reversed, we will leave Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim on the grid in the first quarter of 2023."
Officials still plan to close down Germany's third remaining nuclear plant, Emsland in the northern German state of Lower Saxony, at the end of the year as planned. Habeck said officials announced the decision Tuesday in light of stress test data from France's nuclear providers that indicated grid shortages could be more severe than expected this winter. Like other European countries, Germany is scrambling to ensure the lights stay on and homes stay warm this winter despite the reduction in natural gas flows from Russia amid the war in Ukraine.
Room-Temperature Superconductivity Study Retracted
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Magazine:
In 2020, Ranga Dias, a physicist at the University of Rochester, and his colleagues published a sensational result in Nature, featured on its cover. They claimed to have discovered a room-temperature superconductor: a material in which electric current flows frictionlessly without any need for special cooling systems. Although it was just a speck of carbon, sulfur, and hydrogen forged under extreme pressures, the hope was that someday the material would lead to variants that would enable lossless electricity grids and inexpensive magnets for MRI machines, maglev railways, atom smashers, and fusion reactors. Faith in the result is now evaporating. On Monday Nature retracted the study, citing data issues other scientists have raised over the past 2 years that have undermined confidence in one of two key signs of superconductivity Dias's team had claimed. "There have been a lot of questions about this result for a while," says James Hamlin, an experimental condensed matter physicist at the University of Florida. But Jorge Hirsch, a theoretical physicist at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and longtime critic of the study, says the retraction does not go far enough. He believes it glosses over what he says is evidence of scientific misconduct. "I think this is a real problem," he says. "You cannot leave it as, 'Oh, it's a difference of opinion.'" "The study's magnetic susceptibility data were what led to the retraction," reports Science. "The team members reported that a susceptibility signal emerged after they had subtracted a background signal, but they did not include raw data. The omission frustrated critics, who also complained that the team relied on a 'user-defined' background -- an assumed background rather than a measured one. But Salamat says relying on a user-defined background is customary in high-pressure physics because the background is so hard to measure experimentally."
The retraction was unusual in that Nature editors took the step over the objection of all nine authors of the paper. "We stand by our work, and it's been verified experimentally and theoretically," Dias says. Ashkan Salamat, a physicist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and another senior member of the collaboration, points out the retraction does not question the drop in electric resistance -- the most important part of any superconductivity claim. He adds, "We're confused and disappointed in the decision-making by the Nature editorial board." The retraction comes even as excitement builds for the class of superconducting materials called hydrides, which includes the carbonaceous sulfur hydride (CSH) developed by Dias's team. Under pressures greater than at the center of the Earth, hydrogen is thought to behave like a superconducting metal. Adding other elements to the hydrogen -- creating a hydride structure -- can increase the "chemical pressure," reducing the need for external pressure and making superconductivity reachable in small laboratory vises called diamond anvil cells. As Lilia Boeri, a theoretical physicist at the Sapienza University of Rome, puts it, "These hydrides are a sort of realization of metallic hydrogen at slightly lower pressure."
In 2015, Mikhail Eremets, an experimental physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, and colleagues reported the first superconducting hydride: a mix of hydrogen and sulfur that, under enormous pressures, exhibited a sharp drop in electrical resistance at a critical temperature (Tc) of 203 K (-70C). That was nowhere near room temperature, but warmer than the Tc for most superconducting materials. Some theorists thought adding a third element to the mix would give researchers a new variable to play with, enabling them to get closer to ambient pressures -- or room temperatures. For the 2020 Nature paper, Dias and colleagues added carbon, crushed the mix in a diamond anvil cell, and heated it with a laser to create a new substance. They reported that tests showed a sharp drop in resistance at a Tc of 288 K (15C) -- roughly room temperature -- and a pressure of 267 gigapascals, about 75% of the pressure at the center of the Earth. But in a field that has seen many superconducting claims come and go, a drop in resistance alone is not considered sufficient. The gold standard is to provide evidence of another key attribute of superconductors: their ability to expel an applied magnetic field when they cross Tc and become superconducting. Measuring that effect in a diamond anvil cell is impractical, so experimentalists working with hydrides often measure a related quantity called "magnetic susceptibility." Even then they must contend with tiny wires and samples, immense pressures, and a background magnetic signal from metallic gaskets and other experimental components. "It's like you're trying to see a star when the Sun is out," Hamlin says.
Dias and Salamat posted a paper to arXiv in 2021 containing the raw susceptibility data and purported to explain how the background was subtracted, but it "raised more questions than it answered," says Brad Ramshaw, a quantum materials physicist at Cornell University. "The process of going from the raw data to the published data was incredibly opaque."
Hirsch accused the data of being "fabricated," noting suspicious similarities to data in a 2009 paper on superconductivity in europium under high pressures. It too was later retracted.
All 50 States Get Green Light To Build EV Charging Stations
The U.S. Transportation Department on Tuesday said it approved electric vehicle charging station plans for all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico covering roughly 75,000 miles of highways. CNBC reports:
Earlier this year, the Biden administration allocated $5 billion to states to fund EV chargers over five years along interstate highways as part of the bipartisan infrastructure package. Under the plan, entitled the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, states provided their EV infrastructure deployment proposals to the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. States are now approved to construct a network of EV charging stations along designated alternative fuel corridors on the national highway system and have access to more than $1.5 billion to help build the chargers.
It's unclear how many charging stations the funds will support, and states have not yet shared specific charger locations. Transportation Department officials have said that states should install stations every 50 miles and ensure each station is located within one mile of an interstate highway. "We have approved plans for all 50 States, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia to help ensure that Americans in every part of the country -- from the largest cities to the most rural communities -- can be positioned to unlock the savings and benefits of electric vehicles," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
Tim Cook: 'No Good Excuse' For Lack of Women In Tech
AmiMoJo shares a report from the BBC:
Apple chief executive Tim Cook says there are still "not enough women at the table" at the world's tech firms -- including his own. He said there were "no good excuses" for the lack of women in the sector. Apple has just launched its founders' development program for female founders and app creators in the UK. "I think the the essence of technology and its effect on humanity depends upon women being at the table," Mr Cook says. "Technology's a great thing that will accomplish many things, but unless you have diverse views at the table that are working on it, you don't wind up with great solutions." According to Deloitte Global, large global tech firms will reach nearly 33% overall female representation in their workforces in 2022 on average -- with 25% occupying technical roles.
Apple had 35% female staff in the US in 2021, according to its own diversity figures. It launched its original Apple Health Kit in 2014 without a period tracker -- which led to accusations that this was an oversight due to male bias among its developers. One challenge facing the sector is the lack of girls choosing to pursue science, tech, engineering and maths subjects at school. "Businesses can't cop out and say 'there's not enough women taking computer science -- therefore I can't hire enough,'" says Mr Cook. "We have to fundamentally change the number of people that are taking computer science and programming." His view is that everybody should be required to take some sort of coding course by the time they finish school, in order to have a "working knowledge" of how coding works and how apps are created.
In the interview with the BBC, Cook also commented on the future of augmented reality, saying: "in the future, people will wonder how we lived without AR." He added: "we're investing a ton in that space." Earlier this year, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple could announced its long-rumored mixed-reality headset as soon as January 2023.
The Latest iPadOS 16 Beta Brings Stage Manager To Older iPad Pro Models
Apple is bringing Stage Manager, a new multitasking system exclusive to iPads with the M1 chip, to a number of older devices. Engadget reports:
Probably the biggest change Apple announced with iPadOS 16 earlier this year is Stage Manager, a totally new multitasking system that adds overlapping, resizable windows to the iPad. That feature also works on an external display, the first time that iPads could do anything besides mirror their screen on a monitor. Unfortunately, the feature was limited to iPads with the M1 chip -- that includes the 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro released in May of 2021 as well as the M1-powered iPad Air which Apple released earlier this year. All other older iPads were left out.
That changes with the latest iPadOS 16 developer beta, which was just released. Now, Apple is making Stage Manager work with a number of older devices: it'll work on the 11-inch iPad Pro (first generation and later) and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (third generation and later). Specifically, it'll be available on the 2018 and 2020 models that use the A12X and A12Z chips rather than just the M1. However, there is one notable missing feature for the older iPad Pro models -- Stage Manager will only work on the iPad's build-in display. You won't be able to extend your display to an external monitor. Apple also says that developer beta 5 of iPadOS 16. is removing external display support for Stage Manager on M1 iPads, something that has been present since the first iPadOS 16 beta was released a few months ago. It'll be re-introduced in a software update coming later this year.
Cloudflare Takes Aim At AWS With Promise of $1.25 Billion To Startups That Use Its Own Platform
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch:
Cloudflare, the security, performance and reliability company that went public three years ago, said this morning that it will help connect startups that use its serverless computing platform to dozens of venture firms that have collectively offered to invest up to $1.25 billion in the companies out of their existing funds. It's a smart, splashy incentive to entice more startups to use the now five-year-old product, which, according to Cloudflare, enables developers to build or augment apps without configuring or maintaining infrastructure. Cloudflare notes in a related press release that startups can scale so fast using the platform that Cloudflare acquired one last year: Zaraz, a startup that promises to speed up website performance with a single line of code. (Cloudflare isn't promising to acquire other startups, but the suggestion is in the air.)
Indeed, this funding program, as far as we can tell, is really about Cloudflare taking aim at hugely lucrative products like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Toward that end, we asked Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince over the weekend why Cloudflare thinks it can steal market share from these much bigger companies. "I wouldn't characterize it as 'stealing' market share from anyone," he said. "It's a matter of earning market share, and the way you earn market share is by providing a better product at a more affordable price." Asked how much more affordable, he said merely that it's "significantly less expensive than the legacy public clouds" because of how it's built. As Prince explains it, modern browsers "encounter new, untrusted code with nearly every page they open online today. They need a way to quickly and safely execute that code [and use a] technology called isolates to achieve that." Cloudflare Workers, which is the name of the platform, "takes the isolates technology inspired by the browser and makes it available as a developer platform."
Prince said the idea to connect startups on its platform with venture funding came out of existing relationships it has with VCs who'd begun noticing that more of their portfolio companies are using Cloudflare Workers as their developer platform. "When they did due diligence," said Prince, the VCs would "push [founders] on 'why Cloudflare and not a platform like AWS,' [and] the answer that startup after startup gave was that Cloudflare Workers scaled better, had better performance, and was less expensive to operate." "If you're a VC and you hear an answer like that multiple times from the most promising startups it causes you to take notice," he added. Cloudflare is not providing any funding or making any funding decisions, it makes clear. All funding decisions will be made by the participating firms.
Oracle Pays $23 Million To SEC To Settle Bribery Charges
Oracle has paid $23 million to the US Securities and Exchange Commission to settle corruption charges that subsidiaries in Turkey, United Arab Emirates and India used "slush funds" to bribe foreign officials to win business. The Register reports:
The SEC said on Tuesday that Big Red violated provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) during a three-year period between 2016 and 2019. The cash that was apparently surreptitiously set aside was also spent on paying for foreign officials to attend technology conferences, which breaks Oracle's own internal policies and procedures. And the SEC said that in some instances, it found Oracle staff at the Turkish subsidiary had spent the funds on taking officials' families with them on International conferences or side trips to California.
"The creation of off-books slush funds inherently gives rise to the risk those funds will be used improperly, which is exactly what happened here at Oracle's Turkey, UAE, and India subsidiaries," said Charles Cain, FCPA unit chief at the SEC. "This matter highlights the critical need for effective internal accounting controls throughout the entirety of a company's operations," he added. Oracle, without admitting or denying the findings of the SEC's investigation, has agreed to "cease and desist from committing violations" of the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal accounting controls of the FCPA, said the Commission.
Intel and Samsung Are Getting Ready For 'Slidable' PCs
During Intel's Innovation keynote today, Samsung Display showed off a prototype PC that slides from a 13-inch tablet into a 17-inch display. Intel also announced that it's been experimenting with slidable PC form factors. The Verge reports:
The prototype device that Samsung Display and Intel have shown off today essentially turns a 13-inch tablet into a 17-inch monitor with a flexible display and a sliding mechanism. Intel was quick to demonstrate its new Unison software on this display, which aims to connect Intel-powered computers to smartphones -- including iPhones. The slidable PC itself is just a concept for now, and there's no word from Intel or Samsung Display on when it will become a reality.
Stock Trade Ban For Congress Is Being Readied For Release In US House
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg:
Senior House Democrats are poised to introduce long-promised legislation to restrict stock ownership and trading by members of Congress, senior government officials and Supreme Court justices. The bill would apply to the spouses and dependent children of those officials, according to an outline sent to lawmaker offices last week by House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren. The restrictions also cover "commodities, futures, cryptocurrency, and other similar investments," according to the outline. The legislation would require public officials to either divest current holdings or put them in a blind trust. Investments in mutual funds or other widely held investment funds and government bonds would be allowed. "The current law doesn't prohibit lawmakers from owning or trading individual securities, but it bans members of Congress from using nonpublic information available to them for personal benefit," notes the report. "It requires any transaction be disclosed within 45 days."
The bill may be released as soon as Monday, according to a person familiar with the matter. It hasn't been scheduled for a vote, though House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has said it's possible it could come to the floor this week in the middle of an already jam-packed schedule before lawmakers go on break ahead of the November midterm election. While conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats alike have been clamoring for restrictions on stock trades by members of Congress to avoid conflicts of interest, legislation has been hung up by questions about how broad to make the ban and whether to include family members. A group of senators is working on their own version of the legislation and there's little chance of Congress taking any final action before the midterms. [...]
Another potential point of contention is applying the requirements to the Supreme Court. The Congressional Research Service in an April report said that Congress imposing a code of conduct on the judiciary would "raise an array of legal questions," including whether it would violate the constitutional separation of powers. Justices and lower court judges already file annual financial disclosures and are barred from participating in cases where there's a direct conflict of interest. Despite that, the CRS report says that the Supreme Court has never directly addressed "whether Congress may subject Supreme Court Justices to financial reporting requirements or limitations upon the receipt of gifts."
Further reading: TikTokers Are Trading Stocks By Copying What Members of Congress Do
Microsoft Exchange Online Users Face a Key Security Deadline Saturday
Microsoft is about to eliminate a method for logging into its Exchange Online email service that is widely considered vulnerable and outdated, but that some businesses still rely upon. From a report:
The company has said that as of Oct. 1, it will begin to disable what's known as "basic authentication" for customers that continue to use the system. Basic authentication typically requires only a username and password for login; the system does not play well with multifactor authentication and is prone to a host of other heightened security risks. Microsoft has said that for several types of common password-based threats, attackers almost exclusively target accounts that use basic authentication. At identity platform Okta, which manages logins for a large number of Microsoft Office 365 accounts, "we've seen these problems for years," said Todd McKinnon, co-founder and CEO of Okta. "When we block a threat, nine times out of 10 it's against a Microsoft account that has basic authentication. So we think this is a great thing." Microsoft has been seeking to prod businesses to move off basic authentication for the past three years, but "unfortunately usage isn't yet at zero," it said in a post earlier this month.
Robinhood Debuts New Non-Custodial Crypto Wallet
Robinhood is finally rolling out a beta version of its non-custodial crypto wallet to 10,000 customers on its waitlist after announcing the product in May, its CTO and general manager of crypto, Johann Kerbrat, told TechCrunch. The product is called Robinhood Wallet and will be the company's first internationally-available app, Kerbrat said. From a report:
The company revealed new details about the offering in conjunction with the beta launch, most notably that it will launch exclusively with Polygon, a popular layer-two blockchain that plugs into Ethereum and makes the network faster and cheaper to use. This means beta users will be able to purchase the Polygon MATIC token on Robinhood's main exchange app and transfer it to their Robinhood Wallet. They will also be able to access dApps directly on the Polygon network, including DeFi apps such as Uniswap, Balancer and Kyberswap, and metaverse games such as Decentraland, a spokesperson for Polygon said in an email to TechCrunch. Over time, the Robinhood team plans to build out multi-chain support for the wallet beyond the Polygon ecosystem, Robinhood crypto product manager Seong Seog Lee told TechCrunch.
Senators Push To Reform Police's Cellphone Tracking Tools
Civil rights lawyers and Democratic senators are pushing for legislation that would limit U.S. law enforcement agencies' ability to buy cellphone tracking tools to follow people's whereabouts, including back years in time, and sometimes without a search warrant. From a report:
Concerns about police use of the tool known as "Fog Reveal" raised in an investigation by The Associated Press published earlier this month also surfaced in a Federal Trade Commission hearing three weeks ago. Police agencies have been using the platform to search hundreds of billions of records gathered from 250 million mobile devices, and hoover up people's geolocation data to assemble so-called "patterns of life," according to thousands of pages of records about the company.
Sold by Virginia-based Fog Data Science LLC, Fog Reveal has been used since at least 2018 in criminal investigations ranging from the murder of a nurse in Arkansas to tracing the movements of a potential participant in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The tool is rarely, if ever, mentioned in court records, something that defense attorneys say makes it harder for them to properly defend their clients in cases in which the technology was used. Panelists and members of the public who took part in the FTC hearing also raised concerns about how data generated by popular apps is used for surveillance purposes, or "in some cases, being used to infer identity and cause direct harm to people in the real world, in the physical world and being repurposed for, as was mentioned earlier, law enforcement and national security purposes," said Stacey Gray, a senior director for U.S. programs for the Future of Privacy Forum.
A Second Prime Sale Shows Amazon is Nervous About the Economy Too
Holiday bargain shopping is starting extra early this year. And that could be good news for shoppers, even if it signals slightly worrisome things for the economy. From a report:
E-commerce giant Amazon announced plans Monday for "a new two-day global shopping event" exclusive to members of its Prime loyalty program. Dubbed Prime Early Access Sale, the promotion is similar to Prime Day, the annual sale held in July to generate a bonanza of orders and new subscribers. Rival retail giants Walmart and Target have already signaled plans to kick off holiday sales earlier than ever, setting the stage for a long holiday shopping season with significant discounts. With warehouses and store shelves suddenly full of inventory after two years of supply chain disruptions, deals will be easier to come by than since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, say retail experts.
Amazon's bonus sales event may be a sign that retailers are concerned that Americans will keep a tight grip on their wallets this holiday season because of fears over inflation, rising interest rates and predictions of an oncoming recession. An Amazon spokesperson said that the company -- with annual sales of more than $470 billion last year -- added the second online sale to help overcome such worries. "In light of inflation and economic head winds, we want to help members save throughout the season," said Amazon spokesperson Deanna Zawilinski. [...] Helping fuel the sales competition is an oversupply of merchandise -- including clothes, toys, electronics, furniture and other popular consumer goods -- that retailers ordered to meet expected consumer demand but that were delayed for months because of supply chain problems. The items are now taking up valuable space in warehouses and store shelves. With a recent surge in inflation and rising gasoline prices, Americans haven't been spending on such items as much as retailers anticipated. Store owners and retail operators now need to move those items off the shelves to make way for new holiday merchandise.
Cheat Devs Are Ready for Modern Warfare 2
The PC beta for Modern Warfare 2 was only online for just over a weekend, but cheat developers quickly managed to create wallhacks anyway, according to videos created by multiple cheat developers. From a report:
The news highlights the constant cat and mouse game between cheat developers and the companies that make competitive video games, and shows that Modern Warfare 2 will be no different. Warzone, the massively popular free-to-play battle royale game built on top of Call of Duty's mainline games, was notoriously overrun by cheaters before publisher Activision and the development studios working on the game introduced a new anti-cheat mechanism called Ricochet. "I started developing a MW2 beta cheat right away. I was done the same day, the first day of the beta. My users got access once the cheat was complete & tested," Zebleer, the pseudonymous administrator of Phantom Overlay, a cheat provider that has a long history of selling cheats for Warzone, told Motherboard in an email.
[...] EngineOwning, another cheat developer, published a video to their Twitter account over the weekend appearing to show their own product in action, although it didn't seem to be ready for the beta. "Our MW2 cheat is now done and we're currently in close testing," the tweet read. "This means our cheat will be ready when the game launches, with all the features you'd expect." The Anti-Cheat Police Department, a researcher who has tracked the cheating ecosystem and who reports offending players, claimed in their own tweet that "Ricochet has this shitty cheat detected they are just a scam operation at this point."