Diesel Cars Emit More Air Pollution On Hot Days, Study Finds
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian:
Emissions from diesel cars – even newer and supposedly cleaner models -- increase on hot days, a new study has found, raising questions over how cities suffering from air pollution can deal with urban heat islands and the climate crisis. Research in Paris by The Real Urban Emissions (True) initiative found that diesel car emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) rose by 20% to 30% when temperatures topped 30C -- a common event this summer.
Emissions from a range of vehicles were found to be many times higher than those declared by manufacturers in laboratory tests, confirming earlier findings following the 2015 Dieselgate scandal, in which Volkswagen cars were found to emit 40 times more NOx on the road than during laboratory tests. Certain pollutants from motorcycles -- often considered a cleaner alternative to four-wheeled vehicles -- were also found to "greatly exceed" averages for both petrol and diesel cars. Yoann Bernard of the International Council on Clean Transportation, which carried out the study, said real NOx emissions had been found to be up to 18 times higher than those recorded in vehicle manufacturers' tests, even in newer vehicles that are supposed to be cleaner.
Fukushima To Possibly Dump Radioactive Water Back Into Ocean
omfglearntoplay shares a report from CNN:
Eight years after Japan's worst nuclear disaster, the government is not sure what to do with the contaminated water that remains -- but its environment minister says dumping it into the ocean might be the only choice. To cool fuel cores at the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, operator Tokyo Electric has pumped in tens of thousands of tons of water over the years, according to Japanese national broadcaster NHK. Once used and contaminated, the water is put into storage. Now, storage space is running out. And during a televised press conference Tuesday, Japan's environment minister Yoshiaki Harada said he believed the only solution was to "release it into the ocean and dilute it." "There are no other options," he said. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga emphasized that a decision has not yet been made. "There is no fact that the method of disposal of contaminated water has been decided," he said. "The government would like to make a decision after making thorough discussion."
Apple Unveils Its 7th-Gen iPad With a 10.2-Inch Display
In addition to
launching new iPhones today, Apple unexpectedly
announced a new 7th-generation iPad, featuring a larger display and support for Apple's forthcoming iPadOS update. Ars Technica reports:
This new model comes with a 10.2-inch 2160x1620 "Retina" display, up from the older model's 9.7-inch panel, and an A10 Fusion chip. The latter is the same chip used for the existing 6th-gen iPad, and that chip was first introduced with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus -- so don't expect a significant performance upgrade. Still, it should provide enough power for the entertainment, Web browsing, and casual work needs this iPad is primarily aimed at. The design is otherwise very similar to before -- thicker bezels, home button, roughly one-pound weight, and all -- and Apple still claims the tablet will get up to 10 hours of battery life. The device still comes with either 32GB or 128GB of storage.
Naturally, the new iPad will come with Apple's forthcoming iPadOS update, which will give the device a more robust multitasking system. It'll be able to connect to thumb drives and SD cards, too, and it'll work with Apple's Smart Keyboard attachment and the first-gen model of the Apple Pencil stylus. Apple did not switch to a USB-C port here as it's done with its higher-end iPad Pros, though that's not surprising with a cheaper tablet like this. The device will retain the $329 starting price of the previous 9.7-inch iPad and will begin shipping on September 30, with pre-orders available on Tuesday. Education customers will be able to get it at a slight discount of $299.
Is Microsoft a Digital Nation and Does It Have a Secretary of State?
Longtime Slashdot reader
cccc828 shares a report from The Economist, which poses the question:
Is Microsoft a digital nation and does it have a secretary of state? "The answer of Brad Smith, the software giant's top lawyer, is, well, diplomatic," the report says. "Nation states are run by governments and firms need to be accountable to them, he says. But yes, he admits, he worries a lot about geopolitics these days." Here's an excerpt from the report:
Mr Smith presides over an operation comparable in size to the foreign office of a mid-sized country. Its 1,500 employees work in departments like "Law Enforcement and National Security" or "Digital Diplomacy Group." It has outposts in 56 countries, sending regular cables to headquarters in Redmond, near Seattle. Mr Smith is as itinerant as a foreign minister. In one year he visited 22 countries and met representatives of 40 governments. [...] Mr Smith says a coherent corporate foreign policy is simply good business: it creates trust, which attracts customers. His doctrine indeed sits well with Microsoft's business model, based on sales of services and software. It can afford to be more of a purist on privacy and the spread of disinformation, the most politically contentious tech issues of the day, than giants whose profits come from targeted advertising on social networks. Acknowledging Microsoft's mixed record in the past, the article concludes:
A dose of hypocrisy is perhaps inevitable in an organization the size of Microsoft. Critics level a more fundamental charge against its foreign policy, however. Where, they ask, does it -- and fellow tech giants -- derive the legitimacy to be independent actors on the international stage? This is the wrong question to pose. As businesses, they have every right to defend the interests of shareholders, employees and customers. As global ones, their priorities may differ from those of their home country's elected officials. And as entities which control much of the world's digital infrastructure, they should have a say in designing the international norms which govern it. At a time when many governments refuse to lead, why should the firms not be allowed to? Especially if, like Microsoft's, their efforts blend principles with pragmatism.
How does your company deal with the ever more complex realities of world politics?
'Ban All Watches From Exams To Stop Cheating'
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC:
All watches should be banned from exam halls to discourage cheating, says an inquiry into the extent of malpractice in exams taken by pupils across the UK. Smart watches, connected to the internet, are already banned from use by students taking public exams. But the review, commissioned by exam boards, says it is becoming difficult to distinguish between hi-tech and traditional watches. Review chairman Sir John Dunford called for a "blanket ban" on watches. The Independent Commission on Examination Malpractice, set up by exam boards to investigate the prevalence of cheating in public exams in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, says that overall there is a "very low level of malpractice." "It can look as if it's a time-telling watch and actually, you press a button and it becomes an email-type watch," said Sir John, a former head teachers' union leader. "If you don't ban them all I think you're giving a very difficult job to invigilators who are looking round an exam room. So I think the obvious thing to do here is to ban watches."
VW Announces Its 'ID.3' Electric Car For the Masses, Praises Elon Musk
The VW ID.3 (VW German Minisite and Configurator) is a compact car with a design loosely based on the very successful VW Golf line. The base model costs less than $33,000 with ranges of 330, 420, and 550 kilometers (or 205, 261 and 340 miles). Along with the car comes a new corporate identity with a newly designed logo reminiscent of the dawn of VW, signaling VW's transition into the electric era it announced with fanfare a while back. VW also isn't too shabby about giving credit where credit is due. "Without Elon Musk my job would be considerably harder," VW Chief Strategist Michael Jost was quoted as saying a few days ago. The base model of the ID.3 will only charge up to 50kW, but owners who want to charge faster (up to 100kW) can pay extra for that ability. "100kW charging will come standard on the midrange 58kWh version, while even faster 125kW charging will be available on the top-tier ID.3,"
reports The Verge. "The company is also offering an eight year / 160,000 kilometer warranty on the ID.3's battery pack."
Apple Arcade Will Be Available On September 19 For $4.99
Apple's Arcade video game subscription service
is launching on September 19 for $4.99 per month for up to six members in your family. "There will be new games released every month, and will have perks like game guides and sneak peeks," reports Gizmodo. "In addition to a new Frogger, Apple also demoed new games Sayonara Wild Hearts and Shinsekai Into the Depths." From the report:
Thanks to the little Apple did share ahead of its September 10 event, we knew that Arcade would launch with more than 100 different games, including a new Sonic the Hedgehog game and the revamped Frogger. Apple also said in March that Arcade wouldn't have ads or require additional purchases and that games would be available offline and playable on an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or Mac. And rather than releasing as a dedicated app, Arcade will release within the App Store as a new tab.
Apple Watch Series 5 Has An Always-On Display, Comes In Titanium or Ceramic Finishes
the new iPhones today, Apple
announced the next-gen Apple Watch Series 5, featuring an always-on display, compass, emergency calling for international countries, and recycled aluminum or titanium finishes. It starts at $399 for the GPS model and $499 for the cellular connected version. The Verge reports:
Apple says the Series 5 watch maintains the prior model's 18-hour battery life, even with the new always-on screen, thanks to a new low-temperature polysilicone and oxide display and low-power display driver. Watchfaces and workouts have been redesigned to take advantage of the new display option. The screen will be in a low-brightness mode until you move your wrist, where it will switch to full brightness in a similar fashion to how the current model turns on when your wrist is moved. In addition to the new always-on display feature, the Apple Watch Series 5 is now available in a recycled aluminum or titanium finishes. The stainless steel and ceramic options from prior models are also available. Apple says this is the widest number of finishes ever for the Apple Watch. You
can order one starting today and they will be in stores starting on September 20th.
Weakness In Intel Chips Lets Researchers Steal Encrypted SSH Keystrokes
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
In late 2011, Intel introduced a performance enhancement to its line of server processors that allowed network cards and other peripherals to connect directly to a CPU's last-level cache, rather than following the standard (and significantly longer) path through the server's main memory. By avoiding system memory, Intel's DDIO -- short for Data-Direct I/O -- increased input/output bandwidth and reduced latency and power consumption.
Now, researchers are warning that, in certain scenarios, attackers can abuse DDIO to obtain keystrokes and possibly other types of sensitive data that flow through the memory of vulnerable servers. The most serious form of attack can take place in data centers and cloud environments that have both DDIO and remote direct memory access enabled to allow servers to exchange data. A server leased by a malicious hacker could abuse the vulnerability to attack other customers. To prove their point, the researchers devised an attack that allows a server to steal keystrokes typed into the protected SSH (or secure shell session) established between another server and an application server. "The researchers have named their attack NetCAT, short for Network Cache ATtack," the report adds. "Their research is prompting an
advisory for Intel that effectively recommends turning off either DDIO or RDMA in untrusted networks."
"The researchers say future attacks may be able to steal other types of data, possibly even when RDMA isn't enabled. They are also advising hardware makers do a better job of securing microarchitectural enhancements before putting them into billions of real-world servers." The researchers
published their paper about NetCAT on Tuesday.
Period Tracker Apps Used By Millions Of Women Are Sharing Incredibly Sensitive Data With Facebook
Period tracker apps are sending
deeply personal information about women's health and sexual practices to Facebook, new research has found. From a report:
UK-based advocacy group Privacy International, sharing its findings exclusively with BuzzFeed News, discovered period-tracking apps including MIA Fem and Maya sent women's use of contraception, the timings of their monthly periods, symptoms like swelling and cramps, and more, directly to Facebook. Women use such apps for a range of purposes, from tracking their period cycles to maximizing their chances of conceiving a child. On the Google Play store, Maya, owned by India-based Plackal Tech, has more than 5 million downloads. Period Tracker MIA Fem: Ovulation Calculator, owned by Cyprus-based Mobapp Development Limited, says it has more than 2 million users around the world. They are also available on the App Store. The data sharing with Facebook happens via Facebook's Software Development Kit (SDK), which helps app developers incorporate particular features and collect user data so Facebook can show them targeted ads, among other functions. When a user puts personal information into an app, that information may also be sent by the SDK to Facebook.
Libraries and Archivists Are Scanning and Uploading Books That Are Secretly in the Public Domain
A coalition of archivists, activists, and libraries are working overtime to make it easier to identify the many books that are
secretly in the public domain, digitize them, and make them freely available online to everyone. The people behind the effort are now hoping to upload these books to the Internet Archive, one of the largest digital archives on the internet. From a report:
As it currently stands, all books published in the U.S. before 1924 are in the public domain, meaning they're publicly owned and can be freely used and copied. Books published in 1964 and after are still in copyright, and by law will be for 95 years from their publication date. But a copyright loophole means that up to 75 percent of books published between 1923 to 1964 are secretly in the public domain, meaning they are free to read and copy.
The problem is determining which books these are, due to archaic copyright registration systems and convoluted and shifting copyright law. As such, a coalition of libraries, volunteers, and archivists have been working overtime to identify which titles are in the public domain, digitize them, then upload them to the internet. At the heart of the effort has been the New York Public Library, which recently documented why the entire process is important, but a bit of a pain.
Julie Stultz, Technical Marketing Manager at ON Semiconductor,
writes for ElectronicDesign:
1. USB Type-C and PD are complicated: With a universal connector that can plug into a power host (source) or device (sink), it seems like the negotiation of which device is powering which can be overwhelming for product designers and consumers. However, products can have more -- or less -- complexity based on the product designer's needs. For Type-C only devices, a single IC can be used to control all of the connection handshakes. For more complex features, the Power Delivery protocol (PD) can be implemented. There's a strict set of guidelines that must be followed to be USB-C PD compliant. Products receive approval from the USB-IF governing committee before they're certified. Utilizing firmware from certified IC vendors can simplify design the solution.
2. USB Type-C and PD is expensive: To detect, attach, and negotiate communication, it would seem that the transition from USB 2.0 to USB-C would become expensive. For basic USB-C functionality, a basic state-machine controller can be used. Controllers are available on the market for 3. All Type-C ports have identical functionality: Despite a common connector, the actual feature set of a USB-C port can vary significantly. Ports on travel adapters only charge devices. Ports on wearable devices typically only receive charge. Ports on dual-role devices such as laptops can still see variation in port features. Power levels for standard Type-C ports are limited to 15 W while ports that implement PD can negotiate power up to 100 W. In addition, some ports are capable of data communication up to USB SS Gen 2 speeds of 10 Gb/s. Other features may include DisplayPort or Thunderbolt support. The article
debunks eight more myths.
Uber Lays Off 435 People Across Engineering and Product Teams
laid off 435 employees across its product and engineering teams, the company announced today. Combined, the layoffs represent about 8% of the organizations, with 170 people leaving the product team and 265 people leaving the engineering team. From a report:
The layoffs had no effect on Eats, which is one of Uber's top-performing products, and Freight, according to a source familiar with the situation. Meanwhile, the company is lifting the hiring freeze on the product and engineering teams that has been in effect since early August, according to the source. "Our hope with these changes is to reset and improve how we work day to day -- ruthlessly prioritizing, and always holding ourselves accountable to a high bar of performance and agility," an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch. "While certainly painful in the moment, especially for those directly affected, we believe that this will result in a much stronger technical organization, which going forward will continue to hire some of the very best talent around the world." Great
timing to dump this announcement.
Apple Launches iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max
Apple today unveiled the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max, its new smartphone lineup. While the 11 is the cheaper alternative following the iPhone XR -- there are a few design changes, like a "surgical-grade stainless steel" case and matte finish, but the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are more focused on cramming in as much power as possible.
About the iPhone 11:
Like last year's model, the iPhone 11 includes a 6.1-inch display, and the design is almost identical to last year, too, with the notch at the front for the Face ID camera. Apple is adding new color options, with purple, white, green, yellow, black, and red all available. Apple's biggest design changes are in the camera at the rear of the device. Last year's iPhone XR had a single 12-megapixel wide-angle camera, but the iPhone 11 now includes a dual-camera system with an additional 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera that supports 2x optical zoom. There's even a new immersive camera interface that lets you see outside the frame, so you can see the details of the photos you're taking with the ultra-wide camera. [...] Inside the iPhone 11 is Apple's latest A13 Bionic processor, and naturally it's the "fastest CPU in a smartphone" and also the "fastest GPU in a smartphone." Apple demonstrated the performance on stage with a game called Pascal's Wager, which is launching on the App Store next month with some pretty impressive looking mobile graphics. Other than the gaming demo, Apple didn't reveal any additional performance improvements with the A13. It starts at $699. The
5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro and 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Pro Max:
Despite the number change, the two phones look pretty similar to last year's iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, but with one major change: a third rear camera. Apple's also upgraded the display to a new OLED panel, which goes up to an even brighter 1,200 nits, a 2 million to 1 contrast ratio, and is 15 percent more energy efficient. Apple calls it a Super Retina XDR display (similar branding to the Pro Display XDR that the company announced earlier this year). Apple also claims that the glass here is the "toughest glass in a smartphone." Just like the standard iPhone 11, the new iPhone 11 Pro models will feature Apple's A13 Bionic chip which Apple says has both the fastest CPU and GPU ever in a smartphone. Apple also touted improved machine learning performance ("the best machine learning platform in a smartphone," it says).
Apple says that with all the improvements to efficiency, the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro should get up to four hours better battery life than last year's XS, and the larger iPhone 11 Pro Max will get up to five hours better battery than the XS Max. The new camera system is one of the standout upgrades (quite literally, as it dominates the back of the phone in a gigantic square camera module). The new lens is a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens with a 120-degree field of view, joining the wide-angle and telephoto cameras Apple has offered in the past. The telephoto camera also is getting an upgrade with a larger Æ'/2.0 aperture, which Apple says will capture up to 40 percent more light compared to the XS camera. And like the iPhone 11, the front-facing camera is now a 12 megapixel sensor, and can shoot both 4K and slow-motion videos. The iPhone 11 Pro will start at $999, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max will start at $1199.
Storm Area 51 Festival Canceled Because It Was a 'Possible Humanitarian Disaster'
The organizers of the Storm Area 51 festival called "AlienStock" have
canceled the event in the Nevada desert, citing a "possible humanitarian disaster" associated with having people show up unprepared in an area with few amenities and little water. From a report:
"Due to the lack of infrastructure, poor planning, risk management, and blatant disregard for the safety of the expected 10,000+ AlienStock attendees, we decided to pull the plug on the festival," a message on AlienStock's website reads. AlienStock was set up by the Facebook meme page "Storm Area 51," and was planned for the weekend of September 20 near Rachel, Nevada. The local town has been actively warning people on its website not to come, noting that many local residents are armed and would be willing to defend their property.
Apple Prices TV+ Video Service at $4.99 a Month, Hitting Netflix and Disney
Apple said its
TV+ original video subscription service will launch Nov. 1 for $4.99 a month, undercutting the price of rival offerings. From a report:
The Cupertino, California-based technology giant made the announcement at a Tuesday event focused on new versions of the iPhone. The service will be free for one year with purchases of new Apple devices, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said on stage. The TV+ service is entering a crowded field that already includes Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Hulu and AT&T's HBO. In November, Walt Disney plans to launch a Disney+ streaming service, with a giant catalog of titles, for $6.99 a month. Netflix's entry-level subscription is $8.99 a month in the U.S. Netflix and Disney shares fell after the announcement on Tuesday, while Apple stock climbed.
51 Tech CEOs Send Open Letter To Congress Asking For a Federal Data Privacy Law
The chief executive officers (CEOs) of 51 tech companies have signed and sent an open letter to Congress leaders today,
asking for a federal law on user data privacy to supersede the rising number of privacy laws that are cropping up at the state level. From a report:
The open-letter was sent on behalf of Business Roundtable, an association made up of the CEOs of America's largest companies. The CEOs of Amazon, AT&T, Dell, IBM, Qualcomm, SAP, Salesforce, Visa, Mastercard, JP Morgan Chase, State Farm, and Walmart, are just some of the execs who put their name on the dotted line. CEOs blamed a patchwork of differing privacy regulations that are currently being passed in multiple US states, and by several US agencies, as one of the reasons why consumer privacy is a mess in the US.
This patchwork of privacy regulations is creating problems for their companies, which have to comply with an ever-increasing number of laws across different states and jurisdictions. Instead, the 51 CEOs would like one law that governs all user privacy and data protection across the US, which would simplify product design, compliance, and data management. "There is now widespread agreement among companies across all sectors of the economy, policymakers and consumer groups about the need for a comprehensive federal consumer data privacy law that provides strong, consistent protections for American consumers," the open letter said.
Trump Says He Fired National Security Advisor John Bolton -- But Bolton Says He 'Offered To Resign'
President Donald Trump said Tuesday he fired national security advisor John Bolton, saying on Twitter he had "
disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions." From a report:
But minutes later, Bolton in his own tweet said that he "offered to resign" Monday night -- and that Trump told him, "Let's talk about it tomorrow." Either way, Bolton's departure shocked Washington, D.C., and oil crude futures fell. Bolton, who was named national security advisor in March 2018, is a harsh critic of Iran, and has advocated military strikes against that oil-rich nation. "I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning," Trump said in a tweet. "I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week." Earlier this month, Bolton had
accused China of stealing US technology to make a stealth fighter. On a visit to Ukraine last month, Bolton said an unnamed fifth-generation aircraft "looks a lot like the F-35, that's because it is the F-35. They just stole it."
We Need To Prepare for the Future of War, NSA Official Says
Glenn S. Gerstell, the general counsel of the National Security Agency,
writing at The New York Times:
The threats of cyberattack and hypersonic missiles are two examples of easily foreseeable challenges to our national security posed by rapidly developing technology. It is by no means certain that we will be able to cope with those two threats, let alone the even more complicated and unknown challenges presented by the general onrush of technology -- the digital revolution or so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution -- that will be our future for the next few decades.
The digital revolution has urgent and profound implications for our federal national security agencies. It is almost impossible to overstate the challenges. If anything, we run the risk of thinking too conventionally about the future. The short period of time our nation has to prepare for the effects of this revolution is already upon us, and it could not come at a more perilous and complicated time for the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the other components of the intelligence community.
Gearing up to deal with those new adversaries, which do not necessarily present merely conventional military threats, is itself a daunting challenge and one that must be undertaken immediately and for at least the next decade or two. But that is precisely when we must put in place a new foundation for dealing with the even more profound and enduring implications of the digital revolution. That revolution will sweep through all aspects of our society so powerfully that our only chance of effectively grappling with its consequences will lie in taking bold steps in the relatively near term. In short, our attention must turn to a far more complex set of threats of multiple dimensions enabled by the digital revolution. While the potential consequences are less catastrophic than nuclear war, they are nonetheless deeply threatening in a range of ways we will have trouble countering.
Mozilla Launches VPN as Part of Resurrected Firefox Test Pilot Program
Mozilla is resurrecting its recently expunged Test Pilot program with a renewed focus on privacy-focused tools and products. The Firefox developer today lifted the lid on the first product to emerge from the new Test Pilot, and it appears to be
something akin to a virtual private network (VPN) in all but name. From a report:
Firefox Private Network, as the new tool is called, is available in beta today for logged-in Firefox desktop users in the U.S. only, and is accessible through a browser extension. By way of a quick recap, Mozilla debuted Firefox Test Pilot a decade ago but then relaunched it back in 2016. Test Pilot went on to attain an average of 100,000 daily users, each looking to test Mozilla's latest developments -- including a price-tracking feature for online shoppers, content recommendations based on browsing activity, and more.
Some of these became full-fledged features within Firefox and others did not, but back in January Mozilla announced it was killing its Test Pilot program altogether. This came as something of a surprise given Mozilla's own statements about the success of the program. At the time, Mozilla said it was "evolving" its approach to experimentation and suggested it was looking to ideate more widely across the company. Fast-forward nine months, and Firefox Test Pilot is back for a third time.
Loophole That Lets People Share Your Private Instagram Pics and Stories Isn't a 'Hack' -- but Still, Heads Up
An anonymous reader shares a report:
Here's another reminder to be wary of what you share online: BuzzFeed News noticed on Monday that the way Instagram and its owner Facebook serve up media content allows for anyone who has access to a private photo or video to root around in the HTML code and copy-paste a direct link to it.
BuzzFeed wrote: "The hack -- which works on Instagram stories as well -- requires only a rudimentary understanding of HTML and a browser. It can be done in a handful of clicks. A user simply inspects the images and videos that are being loaded on the page and then pulls out the source URL. This public URL can then be shared with people who are not logged in to Instagram or do not follow that private user. According to tests performed by BuzzFeed's Tech + News Working Group, JPEGs and MP4s from private feeds and stories can be viewed, downloaded, and shared publicly this way.
Because all of this data is being hosted by Facebook's own content delivery network, the work-around also applies to private Facebook content. Here's an example of such a link to a private Instagram image, per the Verge: https://scontent-lax3-1.cdninstagram.com/vp/0907741760b14f49ebbb7d45f1e4871e/5E092026/t51.2885-15/e35/s1080x1080/67509661_124712232143789_4496164141880255274_n.jpg?_nc_ht=scontent-lax3-1.cdninstagram.com "
BuzzFeed is calling this a "hack," but what's really happening is Internet 101. When an authorized user loads a piece of content on Instagram in a browser, it's trivial to look in the HTML and find a direct URL to where the image or video is sitting on a server. This is not exactly uncommon for the content delivery networks (CDNs) that serve as the backbones of big websites; the simplest and least computationally expensive method of restricting unauthorized users from accessing the image or video in question is to make its URL very, very long.
EU Reappoints Top Antitrust Cop Who Led Crackdown on Tech Giants
In a surprise move, the new European Commission has
reappointed Margrethe Vestager to be its antitrust chief. From a report:
As Europe's chief of competition, Vestager has over the past several years led a crusade against many of the biggest U.S. tech companies for abuses of power. But following recent elections for the European Parliament and the selection of a new European Commission, Vestager's term was expected to come to an end. Instead, it seems her mission will continue and has expanded to include a project called "Europe fit for the digital age," though not many details were offered about the new brief. "Digitalization has a huge impact on the way we live, work, and communicate," EC President-elect Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement on Vestager's role. "In some fields, Europe has to catch up -- like for business to consumers -- while in others we are frontrunners -- such as in business to business. We have to make our single market fit for the digital age, we need to make the most of artificial intelligence and big data, we have to improve on cybersecurity, and we have to work hard for our technological sovereignty."
Scientists Discover New Evidence of the Asteroid That Killed Off the Dinosaurs
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal:
Drilling into the seafloor off Mexico, scientists have extracted a unique geologic record of the single worst day in the history of life on Earth, when a city-sized asteroid smashed into the planet 65 million years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs and three-quarters of all other life. Their analysis of these new rock samples from the Chicxulub crater, made public Monday, reveals a parfait of debris deposited in layers almost minute-by-minute at the heart of the impact during the first day of a global catastrophe (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source). It records traces of the explosive melting, massive earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides and wildfires as the immense asteroid blasted a hole 100 miles wide and 12 miles deep, the scientists said. The sediments also offer chemical evidence that the cataclysm blew hundreds of billions of tons of sulfur from pulverized ocean rock into the atmosphere, triggering a global winter in which temperatures world-wide dropped by as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit for decades, the scientists said. "The asteroid blasted a cavity between 25 and 30 miles deep in the first seconds of impact, creating a boiling cauldron of molten rocks and super-heated steam," reports The Wall Street Journal, citing the scientists' interpretation of the rock. "Rebounding from the hammer blow, a plume of molten rock splashed up into a peak higher than Mount Everest. Within minutes, it collapsed into itself, splashing gigantic waves of lava outward that solidified into a ring of high peaks, the scientists said."
"About 20 minutes or so later, sea water surged back over the newly formed peaks, covering them in a blanket of impact rocks, the scientists said. As minutes became hours, waves choked with shards of volcanic glass and splintered rock rippled back and forth, coating the peaks in a layer of impact rock called suevite, the scientists said. As the hours passed, the backwash of waves added more and more finely graded debris. At the very top of the rock core, the scientists detected traces of organic matter and charcoal."
The study was
published today in the journal PNAS.
US Charges Chinese Professor With Fraud For Allegedly Taking Tech From a California Company To Benefit Huawei
U.S. prosecutors have charged a Chinese professor with fraud for allegedly
taking technology from a California company to benefit Huawei, in another shot at the embattled Chinese telecommunications equipment maker. From the report:
Bo Mao was arrested in Texas on Aug. 14 and released six days later on $100,000 bond after he consented to proceed with the case in New York, according to court documents. Bo Mao was arrested in Texas on Aug. 14 and released six days later on $100,000 bond after he consented to proceed with the case in New York, according to court documents. According to the criminal complaint, Mao entered into an agreement with the unnamed California tech company to obtain its circuit board, claiming it was for academic research.
The complaint, however, accuses an unidentified Chinese telecommunications conglomerate, which sources say is Huawei, of trying to steal the technology, and alleges Mao played a role in its alleged scheme. A court document also indicates the case is related to Huawei. Although Huawei has not been charged, the company said it views the case against Mao as the U.S. government's latest instance of "selective prosecution."
New Models Suggest Titan Lakes Are Explosion Craters
Using radar data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, recently published research presents a new scenario to explain why some methane-filled lakes on Saturn's moon Titan are surrounded by steep rims that reach hundreds of feet high. The models suggests that
explosions of warming nitrogen created basins in the moon's crust. Phys.Org reports:
Titan is the only planetary body in our solar system other than Earth known to have stable liquid on its surface. But instead of water raining down from clouds and filling lakes and seas as on Earth, on Titan it's methane and ethane -- hydrocarbons that we think of as gases but that behave as liquids in Titan's frigid climate. Most existing models that lay out the origin of Titan's lakes show liquid methane dissolving the moon's bedrock of ice and solid organic compounds, carving reservoirs that fill with the liquid. This may be the origin of a type of lake on Titan that has sharp boundaries. On Earth, bodies of water that formed similarly, by dissolving surrounding limestone, are known as karstic lakes.
The new, alternative models for some of the smaller lakes (tens of miles across) turns that theory upside down: It proposes pockets of liquid nitrogen in Titan's crust warmed, turning into explosive gas that blew out craters, which then filled with liquid methane. The new theory explains why some of the smaller lakes near Titan's north pole, like Winnipeg Lacus, appear in radar imaging to have very steep rims that tower above sea level -- rims difficult to explain with the karstic model. The work, published Sept. 9 in Nature Geosciences, meshes with other Titan climate models showing the moon may be warm compared to how it was in earlier Titan "ice ages."