Nissan Sees Leaf As Home Energy Source, Says Tesla Big Battery 'Waste of Resources'
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Driven:
Owning an electric car in Australia could become much more than just driving from A to B with a reduced carbon footprint, according to Nissan Australia which launched the new version of the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle in Melbourne on Wednesday. Nissan confirmed at the launch that the new Leaf, with a 40kWh battery, will be a V2H (vehicle-to-home) energy asset -- meaning that, unlike other electric vehicles, it will have the capability to charge your home (subject to further testing with Australia's network owners and operators). Called bidirectional charging, the 40kWh Leaf (and for that matter the 62kWh version which is not yet slated for an Australian release) essentially has the capability to become your personal, massive, mobile battery. This means it will be able to not only store energy by plugging into your home, workplace or other destinations such as shopping centers with free charging, or from DC fast-chargers -- it will be able to serve that energy back to your home. And it could be available to use in Australia within six months. Nissan's global head of electric vehicles, Nic Thomas, says that installations such as the grid connected Tesla big battery at Hornsdale in South Australia is a waste, despite the fact that its performance -- both for the grid and financially -- has been widely admired.
"It's a complete waste of resources because what we can do is have cars that are also batteries and those cars are parked most of the time," Thomas said.
Parks and Recreation Centers Are Using Sonic Devices That Play High-Pitched Noises To Repel Teens
NPR reports of the various parks and recreation centers in North America that are
using sonic devices to repel teens from the premises. Philadelphia, for example, has 30 parks and recreation centers that are outfitted with a small speaker called the Mosquito. "It blares a constant, high-pitched ringing noise all night long -- but one that only teenagers and young adults can hear," reports NPR. "Anyone over age 25 is supposed to be immune because, basically, their ear cells have
started to die off." From the report:
Philadelphia parks officials have been installing the device since 2014, reported WHYY's Billy Penn, intending to shoo rowdy youths from the premises. And it's not the only U.S. city to do so. Mosquito's Vancouver-based manufacturer Moving Sound Technologies works with roughly 20 parks departments around the country to implement the youth-repellent devices, says president Michael Gibson. It's intended to prevent loitering and vandalism by teens and young adults at public facilities. But some say this age-based targeting is a form of prejudice. Philadelphia City Council member Helen Gym refers to the devices as "sonic weapons" -- and she's working to get them removed.
[I]n Philadelphia, Parks & Recreation defends its use of the Mosquito, saying the devices are operational from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. only, and they're just one part of an overall anti-vandalism strategy that includes fences and gates, security cameras and night watch staff. For now, the city is moving forward with installation. Despite the backlash, two new Mosquito devices are being installed at other city playgrounds as part of major renovation projects.
FCC Photos Confirm Galaxy Note 10 Won't Have a Headphone Jack
Samsung has been one of the only large smartphone manufacturers to insist on keeping the headphone jack in its flagship phones. But that is about to come to an end with the Galaxy Note 10. According to
photos published by the FCC, showing both the bottom and top of the phone,
there's no headphone jack in sight. The Verge reports:
The FCC seems to have briefly shared these images by mistake. Samsung followed the usual protocols in requesting confidentiality for external photos of the Note 10 test device, and yet here we are. Whoops. There are two different models at the FCC, but neither includes 5G. So as with the S10 series, Samsung will likely produce a standalone 5G model. Aside from the headphone jack being a goner -- renders of the phone had already suggested this was coming -- we get a look at the triple-camera system on the back. There's another sensor positioned under the flash, which could be the same 3D time-of-flight depth sensor that Samsung included in the Galaxy S10 5G. The Note is usually where the company throws in everything it can, so it makes sense for it to carry over everything from the top-tier S10 model. The center-aligned front camera cutout is also faintly visible in one shot. Samsung is expected to formally announce the Note 7
at an August 7th Unpacked event in Brooklyn, New York.
Microsoft Stirs Suspicions By Adding Telemetry Files To Security-Only Update
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet:
As expected, Windows Update dropped off several packages of security and reliability fixes for Windows 7 earlier this week, part of the normal Patch Tuesday delivery cycle for every version of Windows. But some hawk-eyed observers noted a surprise in one of those Windows 7 packages. What was surprising about this month's Security-only update, formally titled the "July 9, 2019 -- KB4507456 (Security-only update)," is that it bundled the Compatibility Appraiser, KB2952664, which is designed to identify issues that could prevent a Windows 7 PC from updating to Windows 10.
Among the fierce corps of Windows Update skeptics, the Compatibility Appraiser tool is to be shunned aggressively. The concern is that these components are being used to prepare for another round of forced updates or to spy on individual PCs. The word telemetry appears in at least one file, and for some observers it's a short step from seemingly innocuous data collection to outright spyware. [...] I strongly suspect that some part of the Appraiser component on Windows 7 SP1 had a security issue of its own. If that's the case, then the updates indisputably belong in a Security-only update. And if they happen to get installed on systems where administrators had taken special precautions not to install those components, Microsoft's reaction seems to be, "Well ... tough." "The Appraiser tool was offered via Windows Update, both separately and as part of a monthly rollup update two years ago; as a result, most of the declining population of Windows 7 PCs already has it installed," the report notes.
Facebook AI Pluribus Defeats Top Poker Pros In 6-Player Texas Hold 'Em
Carnegie Mellon University and Facebook AI research scientists have developed an AI dubbed Pluribus that
took on 15 professional human players in six-player no-limit Texas Hold 'em and won. The researchers describe how they achieved this feat in a
new paper in Science. Ars Technica reports:
Playing more than 5,000 hands each time, five copies of the AI took on two top professional players: Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, six-time winner of World Series of Poker events, and Darren Elias, who currently holds the record for most World Poker Tour titles. Pluribus defeated them both. It did the same in a second experiment, in which Pluribus played five pros at a time, from a pool of 13 human players, for 10,000 hands.
Co-author Tuomas Sandholm of Carnegie Mellon University has been grappling with the unique challenges poker poses for AI for the last 16 years. No-Limit Texas Hold 'em is a so-called "imperfect information" game, since there are hidden cards (held by one's opponents in the hand) and no restrictions on the size of the bet one can make. By contrast, with chess and Go, the status of the playing board and all the pieces are known by all the players. Poker players can (and do) bluff on occasion, so it's also a game of misleading information.
Former Tesla Employee Admits Uploading Autopilot Source Code To His iCloud
Guangzhi Cao, a former engineer at Tesla that is
accused of stealing company trade secrets and sending them to a Chinese startup, admitted in a court filing this week that he uploaded zip files containing Autopilot source code to his personal iCloud account in late 2018 while still working for the company. "Cao denied stealing sensitive information from the automaker in the same filing," reports The Verge. "His legal team argued he 'made extensive efforts to delete and/or remove any such Tesla files prior to his separation from Tesla.' Cao is now the 'head of perception' at XPeng, where he is '[d]eveloping and delivering autonomous driving technologies for production cars.'" From the report:
According to a joint filing from the two parties that was also filed this week, Tesla has subpoenaed documents from Apple. While Apple is not involved in this case, a former employee who worked on the tech company's secretive autonomous car project was charged by the FBI with stealing trade secrets last July. That employee allegedly Air Dropped sensitive data to his wife's laptop and was also caught on CCTV leaving Apple's campus with a box of equipment. He had left his job at Apple to take a position at XPeng before being arrested. Cao was also a senior image scientist for Apple for two years before he joined Tesla, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Malicious Apps Infect 25 Million Android Devices With 'Agent Smith' Malware
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org:
Malicious apps from a campaign called "Agent Smith" have been downloaded to 25 million Android devices, according to new research by cyber-security firm Check Point. The apps, most of them games, were distributed through third-party app stores by a Chinese group with a legitimate business helping Chinese developers promote their apps on outside platforms. Check Point is not identifying the company, because they are working with local law enforcement. About 300,000 devices were infected in the U.S.
The malware was able to copy popular apps on the phone, including WhatsApp and the web browser Opera, inject its own malicious code and replace the original app with the weaponized version, using a vulnerability in the way Google apps are updated. The hijacked apps would still work just fine, which hid the malware from users. Armed with all the permissions users had granted to the real apps, "Agent Smith" was able to hijack other apps on the phone to display unwanted ads to users. That might not seem like a significant problem, but the same security flaws could be used to hijack banking, shopping and other sensitive apps, according to Aviran Hazum, head of Check Point's analysis and response team for mobile devices. There was also a "dormant" version of "Agent Smith" in 11 apps on the Play Store, which could have been triggered into action by a banner ad containing the keyword "infect." The apps have since been removed from the Play Store, but had over 10 million downloads.
German Banks Are Moving Away From SMS One-Time Passcodes
Multiple German banks have announced plans to
drop support for SMS-based one-time passcodes (OTP) as a login authentication and transaction verification method. From a report:
Postbank plans to drop support in August, while Raiffeisen Bank and Volksbank plan to do so in the fall, Handelsblatt reports. Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank also plan to drop support for SMS OTP but have not announced a deadline, while Consorsbank plans to discontinue it by the end of the year. Other banks like DKB and N26 have never deployed the technology, while ING has not made any public statements on its plans. The reason why German banks are dropping support for SMS OTP is because of legislation that the EU passed in 2015, set to enter into effect on September 14, this year. In 2015, the EU revised the Payment Services Directive (PSD), a set of rules that govern online payments in the EU, and issued an updated version called the PSD2. This legislation also included a clause for strong customer authentication (SCA) mechanisms.
Investigating Some Subscription Scam iOS Apps
Security engineer Ivan writes:
For some reason Apple allows "subscription scam" apps on the App Store. These are apps that are free to download and then ask you to subscribe right on launch. It's called the freemium business model, except these apps ask you to subscribe for "X" feature(s) immediately when you launch them, and keep doing so, annoyingly, over and over until you finally subscribe. By subscribing you get a number of "free days" (trial) and then they charge you weekly/monthly/yearly for very basic features like scanning QR Codes.
I've been trying to monitor apps that have these characteristics: 1. They have In-App purchases for their subscriptions. 2. They have bad reviews, specially with words like "scam" or "fraud". 3. Their "good" reviews are generic, potentially bot-generated. This weekend I focused on 5 apps from 2 different developers and to my surprise they are very similar, not only their UI/UX but also their code is shared and their patterns are absolutely the same. A side from being classic subscription scam apps, I wanted to examine how they work internally and how they communicate with their servers and what type of information are they sending.
Microsoft Teams Overtakes Slack With 13 Million Daily Users
Microsoft is finally revealing exactly how many people are using its Slack competitor Microsoft Teams. From a report:
The software maker says that more than 13 million people are using Microsoft Teams daily, along with more than 19 million weekly active users. This is the first time Microsoft has revealed an active user count, and the company's previous update was that 500,000 organizations were using the service back in March. This figure is above the more than 10 million people who use Slack daily. Slack revealed its 10 million daily active user count earlier this year, and it used the same figure back in April in a financial filing. Team communication service Slack, which has been around for much longer, was
valued at north of $20 billion when it went public last month.
Microsoft Might Crush Slack Like Facebook Crushed Snapchat.
The Trillion-Dollar Taboo: Why It's Time To Stop Ignoring Mental Health at Work
Experts in workplace psychology
overwhelmingly agree that burnout is a growing public health crisis. An excerpt from a long report:
When the FT set out to investigate this issue, we asked readers to describe how their employers handle mental health issues, including stress, burnout, anxiety and depression. More than 450 people responded from 43 countries. Although they were a self-selecting group, their responses were significant: the majority felt unsupported, alienated or discriminated against on the basis of their mental health. Two-thirds believed their work had a somewhat to extremely negative effect on their health, and 44 per cent said they did not think mental health was taken seriously by their organisation. Half said they either didn't know where at work to go, or had nowhere to go if they needed support.
Even as many companies strengthen their policies to close the gender pay gap and end sexual harassment, mental wellbeing often remains an afterthought. "This is not about buying Fitbits for employees and teaching them deep breathing so we can pile on more work," says Donna Hardaker, a workplace mental health specialist at Sutter Health, a not-for-profit healthcare network. "You must address the micro and the macro. There is a deeply entrenched cultural idea that workplaces are fine; it's the employees who are the problem. But employers have a social responsibility to not be harming the people who are working within their walls."
A failure to support employees is also costing companies a fortune: an estimated 615 million people suffer from depression and anxiety and, according to a recent World Health Organisation study, this costs an estimated $1tn in lost productivity every year. Companies that do not have systems in place to support the wellbeing of their employees have higher turnover, lower productivity and higher healthcare costs, according to the American Psychological Association. They also face significant legal risks.
Google Admits Partners Leaked More Than 1,000 Private Conversations With Google Assistant
Google admitted on Thursday that more than 1,000 sound recordings of customer conversations with the Google Assistant
were leaked by some of its partners to a Belgian news site. From a report:
These conversations are used by companies such as Google and Amazon -- which takes clips from the Amazon Echo -- to improve voice responses from their smart assistants. They are supposed to be kept confidential. But Belgian news site VRT said on Wednesday that a contractor provided it with samples of these sound samples, which VRT then used to identify some of the people in the clips. It also examined the sorts of conversations that Google collects when people say "OK Google," into a phone or a Google Home product. Among other things, VRT heard customer addresses. Sources who talked to the publication also described hearing recordings of a woman in distress and people talking about medical conditions.
Google has now admitted the recordings were leaked. "We just learned that one of these language reviewers has violated our data security policies by leaking confidential Dutch audio data," Google product manager of search David Monsees said in a blog post. "Our Security and Privacy Response teams have been activated on this issue, are investigating, and we will take action. We are conducting a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent misconduct like this from happening again."
Multiple users are reporting issues while trying to load Twitter. Third-party internet firm DownDetector corroborates the claim, saying more than 10,500 users have reported issues with Twitter in the last 15 minutes. (
Update: 47,000+ reports in last 25 minutes). TweetDeck, a service offered by Twitter, is also facing an outage. Twitter apps are also not loading new tweets.
Update at 19:00 GMT: Twitter has acknowledged that users are facing issues accessing its service. The microblogging platform said it is investigating the matter.
Update at 20:00 GMT: In a statement, Twitter said it has resolved the issue.
US Mayors Group Adopts Resolution Not To Pay Any More Ransoms To Hackers
The US Conference of Mayors unanimously
adopted a resolution this week to not pay any more ransom demands to hackers following ransomware infections. From a report:
"Paying ransomware attackers encourages continued attacks on other government systems, as perpetrators financially benefit," the adopted resolution reads. "The United States Conference of Mayors has a vested interest in de-incentivizing these attacks to prevent further harm," it said. "NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors stands united against paying ransoms in the event of an IT security breach." The resolution adopted this week at the 87th annual meeting of the US Conference of Mayors doesn't have any legal binding, but can be used as an official position to justify administrative actions, for both federal authorities and taxpayers alike. The Conference of Mayors includes over 1,400 mayors from across the US, representing cities with a population of over 30,000. The organization said that "at least 170 county, city, or state government systems have experienced a ransomware attack since 2013," and "22 of those attacks have occurred in 2019 alone."
Buzz Aldrin is Looking Forward, Not Back -- and He Has a Plan To Bring NASA Along
shares a report:
Just after Memorial Day this year, I began talking regularly with the pilot of the first spacecraft to land on the Moon. We had spoken before, but this was different -- it seemed urgent. Every week or two, Buzz Aldrin would call to discuss his frustration with the state of NASA and his concerns about the looming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing without a lack of discernible progress to get back. Even at 89, Aldrin remains remarkably engaged in the aerospace community, often showing up to meetings and conferences unannounced. Aldrin asks questions. He talks to the principals. In the last two years, the aerospace legend has been to the White House for major space announcements by President Trump, served as an adviser to the National Space Council, and supported the White House goal of returning to the Moon by 2024.
But what NASA has been doing to get back there, for the better part of two decades, just hasn't been working. President Bush directed NASA back to the Moon more than 15 years ago, and in one form or another, NASA has been spending billions of dollars each year to build a big, heavy spacecraft and a bigger, much heavier rocket as the foundation for such a return. Along the way, NASA has enriched a half-dozen large aerospace contractors and kept Congress happy. But the space agency still can't even launch its own astronauts into low-Earth orbit, let alone deep space or the Moon. "I've been going over this in my mind," Aldrin told Ars "We've been fumbling around for a long, long time. There has to be a better way of doing things. And I think I've found it."
[...] For all of the time and money invested in SLS and Orion, these vehicles lack the energy to fly a mission into low lunar orbit and back. Indeed, the engine powering Orion's service module has less than one-third of the thrust of the Apollo propulsion system that flew Aldrin to the Moon in 1969. This is a major reason NASA intends to build a Lunar Gateway -- a small space station -- in a distant orbit around the Moon. From there, the Gateway will come no closer than 1,000km to the lunar surface and spend most of its seven-day orbit much farther away. "One thing that surprises me is the lack of performance," Aldrin said, discussing these vehicles NASA has spent so long developing. "It forces NASA into this weird orbit. And how long is SLS going to last until Blue Origin or SpaceX replaces it? Not long. How long is that heavy Orion spacecraft, with an under-powered European service module, going to hang around in the inventory? Not long."
France Approves Digital Tax on American Tech Giants, Defying US Trade Threat
France's Senate approved a tax on the revenues of tech giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook on Thursday, defying a warning from the President Donald Trump administration that it "unfairly targets American companies." From a report:
On Wednesday, Trump ordered an investigation into France's planned "digital tax" on tech companies. The 3% tax would apply to the French revenues of roughly 30 major companies, mostly from the U.S. "France is sovereign, and France decides its own tax rules. And this will continue to be the case," France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in a statement. He added the U.S. and France could find agreements, rather than using threats, to reach a deal on the "fair taxation" of internet giants.
Amazon Pledges $700 Million To Teach Its Workers to Code
Amazon announced Thursday that it will spend up to $700 million over the next six years retraining 100,000 of its US employees,
mostly in technical skills like software engineering and IT support. From a report:
Amazon is already one of the largest employers in the country, with almost 300,000 workers (and many more contractors) and it's particularly hungry for more new talent. The company currently has more than 20,000 vacant US roles, over half of which are at its headquarters in Seattle. Meanwhile, the US economy is booming, and there are now more open jobs than there are unemployed people who can fill them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. "The purpose isn't really to create a job ladder from fulfillment center to CEO, but rather to meet employees where they are and to create opportunities for them to build on the skills that they have," Ardine Williams, Amazon's vice president of workforce development, said in an interview Thursday morning. Amazon joins a number of other companies who have announced multimillion-dollar investments in retraining in recent years, as a tightening labor market and technological change forces businesses to evolve. Amazon has already spent thousands of dollars on worker retraining in its Career Choice program, which helps hourly associates pay for degree programs in other, high-demand fields. CEO Jeff Bezos said in a shareholder letter last year that more than 12,000 US employees have participated in the program since it began in 2012. Amazon said they will expand the program Thursday.
Apple Opens App Design and Development Accelerator in China
opened a design and development accelerator in Shanghai -- its first for China -- to help local developers create better apps as the iPhone maker looks to scale its services business in one of its key overseas markets. From a report:
At the accelerator, Apple has begun to hold regular lectures, seminars and networking sessions for developers, the company said this week. It is similar to an accelerator it opened in Bangalore about two years ago. In India, where Apple has about half a million app developers, the accelerator program has proven crucially useful, more than three dozen developers who have enrolled for the program have told TechCrunch over the years. Participation in the accelerator is free of cost. Apple said more than 2.5 million developers from greater China, which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong, actively build apps for its platform. These developers have earned more than $29 billion through App Store sales. More than 15% of Apple's revenue comes from greater China, according to official figures.
Climate Change: How Hot Cities Could Be in 2050
A new study, published in the journal PLOS One, suggests summers and winters in Europe will get warmer, with average increases of 3.5C and 4.7C respectively. It's the equivalent to a city shifting 620 miles (1,000km) further south -- with those furthest away from the equator being most affected. London could feel as hot as Barcelona by 2050, with Edinburgh's climate more like Paris, Leeds feeling like Melbourne and Cardiff like Montevideo. That's from a study looking at how a 2C temperature increase could change the world's 520 major cities.
That temperature increase would result in the average UK temperature during summer's hottest month increasing by about six degrees to 27C. The University of Reading's Professor Mike Lockwood warned about the damage that could be done to infrastructure. 'Bringing Barcelona's climate to London sounds like it could be a good thing -- if you don't suffer from asthma or have a heart condition, that is -- except London clay shrinks and is brittle if it gets too dry and then swells and expands when very wet. As ever, there is destructive and unforeseen devil in the details of climate change.'
Panasonic To Develop Green Home Appliances Made From Plants
Panasonic will adopt a plant-derived plastic for refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and other home appliances within a few years. The Japanese electronics maker has developed a plastic that is comprised of 55% cellulose fibers and is durable enough to be used for its products. Cellulose is an insoluble substance obtained from the bark, wood or leaves of plants, or from other plant-based material. Panasonic says resin material with more than 50% of plant content is rarely used for commercial purposes. Because plant fibers are soft, molding the material into appliance parts had been a challenge. Panasonic tapped its expertise in battery development to increase plant content without compromising its strength.
Apple Disables Walkie Talkie App Due To Vulnerability That Could Allow iPhone Eavesdropping
Apple has disabled the Apple Watch Walkie Talkie app due to an unspecified vulnerability that could allow a person to
listen to another customer's iPhone without consent. From a report:
Apple has apologized for the bug and for the inconvenience of being unable to use the feature while a fix is made. The Walkie Talkie app on Apple Watch allows two users who have accepted an invite from each other to receive audio chats via a 'push to talk' interface reminiscent of the PTT buttons on older cell phones.
Bankrupt Maker Faire Revives, Reduced To Make Community
shut down last month with 22 employees losing their jobs, Maker Faire and Maker Media
are coming back, but in a weakened capacity. Founder and CEO Dale Dougherty tells TechCrunch that "he's bought back the brands, domains, and content from creditors and rehired 15 of 22 laid off staffers with his own money." The report says that he will formally announce the
relaunch of the company with the new name "Make Community." From the report:
The company is already working on a new issue of Make Magazine that it will hope to publish quarterly (down from six times per year) and the online archives of its do-it-yourself project guides will remain available. It hopes to keep publishing books. And it will continue to license the Maker Faire name to event organizers who've thrown over 200 of the festivals full of science-art and workshops in 40 countries. But Dougherty doesn't have the funding to commit to producing the company-owned flagship Bay Area and New York Maker Faires any more.
For now, Dougherty is financing the revival himself "with the goal that we can get back up to speed as a business, and start generating revenue and a magazine again. This is where the community support needs to come in because I can't fund it for very long." The immediate plan is to announce a new membership model next week at Make.co where hobbyists and craft-lovers can pay a monthly or annual fee to become patrons of Make Community. Dougherty was cagey about what they'll get in return beyond a sense of keeping alive the organization that's held the maker community together since 2005. He does hope to get the next Make Magazine issue out by the end of summer or early fall, and existing subscribers should get it in the mail.
The Most Clever 'Zip Bomb' Ever Made Explodes a 46MB File To 4.5 Petabytes
Programmer and engineer David Fifield has unveiled a brand-new Zip bomb that
explodes a 46-megabyte file to 4.5 petabytes of data. Fifield's new type of "Zip bomb" or "compression bomb" is particularly novel because he "
figured out how to 'overlap' files inside of a Zip archive, allowing for compression rates far beyond those of a traditional archive," reports Motherboard. From the report:
In an email interview, Fifield noted that, while 42.zip (which has a 106 billion-to-one compression ratio and has been hosted on the same single-serving website for at least 15 years) gets much of the attention, he finds later attempts more technically interesting. "eI find 42.zip inspiring on an aesthetic level -- not so much the file itself but the circumstances around it," Fifield said. "It's like folklore. There must have been many examples of the same basic idea, but for whatever reason 42.zip is the one that had staying power."
Fifield noted that part of what makes his process possible was by coming up with ways to handle cyclic redundancy checks, or CRCs, a basic error-correction functionality baked into Zip, PNG, Ethernet, and numerous other technical standards. Messing around with CRC -- 32 checksums, as they're called, was where Fifield said he learned the most. Fifield, who will present his findings at the USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies (WOOT) conference next month, noted that while the work itself adds to a history of research and likely will be superseded in the future, its benefit from an awareness standpoint is important.
Japan's Hayabusa2 Probe Makes Second Touchdown On Distant Asteroid
Japan's Hayabusa2 probe
touched down on a distant asteroid on Thursday, the space agency said, on a mission to collect samples that could shed light on the history of the solar system. The Japan Times reports:
"The control room received Doppler data showing that the probe appears to have touched down successfully," Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency spokesman Takayuki Tomobe said. "But Doppler only shows the speed and altitude so we will need definitive confirmation," he added. Additional data readings are expected later in the day. The landing is the second time it has touched down on the desolate asteroid as part of a complex mission that has also involved sending rovers and robots. The mission hopes to collect pristine materials from beneath the surface of the asteroid that could provide insights into what the solar system was like at its birth, some 4.6 billion years ago.
To get at those crucial materials, in April an "impactor" was fired from Hayabusa2 toward Ryugu in a risky process that created a crater on the asteroid's surface and stirred up material that had not previously been exposed to the atmosphere. The second touchdown required special preparations because any problems could mean the probe loses the precious materials already gathered during its first landing. The probe had been expected to make a brief touchdown on an area some 20 meters away from the center of the crater to collect the unidentified materials believed to be "ejecta" from the blast.
Apple Pushes a Silent Mac Update To Remove Hidden Zoom Web Server
Apple has released a silent update for Mac users
removing a vulnerable component in Zoom, the popular video conferencing app, which allowed websites to automatically add a user to a video call
without their permission. TechCrunch reports:
The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant told TechCrunch that the update -- now released -- removes the hidden web server, which Zoom quietly installed on users' Macs when they installed the app. Apple said the update does not require any user interaction and is deployed automatically. Although Zoom released a fixed app version on Tuesday, Apple said its actions will protect users both past and present from the undocumented web server vulnerability without affecting or hindering the functionality of the Zoom app itself. The update will now prompt users if they want to open the app, whereas before it would open automatically.