Biden Administration Plans For Massive Expansion of Wind Farms Off US Coasts
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN:
The Biden administration is planning to aggressively expand offshore wind energy capacity in the United States, potentially holding as many as seven new offshore lease sales by 2025. The move was announced Wednesday by US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and first reported by The New York Times. Haaland said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is exploring leasing sales along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, in the Gulf of Maine, New York Bight, central Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, as well as offshore the Carolinas, California and Oregon. As part of that initiative, which spans multiple government agencies, the Departments of the Interior, Energy and Commerce committed to a shared goal of generating 30 gigawatts of offshore wind in the US by 2030. The Interior Department estimates that reaching that goal would create nearly 80,000 jobs.
Aspirin Use To Prevent 1st Heart Attack or Stroke Should Be Curtailed, US Panel Says
no longer routinely start most people who are at high risk of heart disease on a daily regimen of low-dose aspirin, according to new
draft guidelines by a U.S. panel of experts. The New York Times reports:
The proposed recommendation is based on mounting evidence that the risk of serious side effects far outweighs the benefit of what was once considered a remarkably cheap weapon in the fight against heart disease. The U.S. panel also plans to retreat from its 2016 recommendation to take baby aspirin for the prevention of colorectal cancer, guidance that was groundbreaking at the time. The panel said more recent data had raised questions about the benefits for cancer, and that more research was needed.
On the use of low-dose or baby aspirin, the recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force would apply to people younger than 60 who were at high risk of heart disease and for whom a new daily regimen of the mild analgesic might have been a tool to prevent a first heart attack or stroke. The proposed guidelines would not apply to those already taking aspirin or those who have already had a heart attack. The U.S. task force also wants to strongly discourage anyone 60 and older from starting a low-dose aspirin regimen, citing concerns about the age-related heightened risk for life-threatening bleeding. The panel had previously recommended that people in their 60s who were at high risk for cardiovascular disease consult their doctors to make a decision. A low dose is 81 milligrams to 100 milligrams.
The task force proposals follow years of changes in advice by several leading medical organizations and federal agencies, some of which had already recommended limiting the use of low-dose aspirin as a preventive tool against heart disease and stroke. Aspirin inhibits the formation of blood clots that can block arteries, but studies have raised concerns that regular intake increases the risk of bleeding, especially in the digestive tract and the brain, dangers that increase with age. "There's no longer a blanket statement that everybody who's at increased risk for heart disease, even though they never had a heart attack, should be on aspirin," said Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng, a member of the national task force who is the research director of family medicine and community health at the University of Hawaii. "We need to be smarter at matching primary prevention to the people who will benefit the most and have the least risk of harms." Those who are already taking baby aspirin should talk to their doctor.
Apple Argues Against Allowing App Sideloading By Pointing Out Android's Malware Figures
Apple said today that one of the reasons it does not allow app sideloading or the use of third-party app stores on iOS is because of privacy and security reasons, pointing to the fact that Android
sees between 15 to 47 times more malware compared to its app ecosystem. The Record reports:
Apple says that the reason its iOS devices are locked into the App Store as the only way to install applications is for security reasons, as this allows its security teams to scan applications for malicious content before they reach users. Apple cited statements from multiple sources (DHS, ENISA, Europol, Interpol, NIST, Kaspersky, Wandera, and Norton), all of which had previously warned users against installing apps from outside official app stores, a process known as app sideloading.
Apple's report then goes on to list multiple malware campaigns targeting Android devices where the threat actors asked users to sideload malicious apps hosted on internet sites or third-party app stores. [...] The list includes a host of threats, such as mundane adware, dangerous ransomware, funds-stealing banking trojans, commercial spyware, and even nation-state malware, which Apple said threat actors have spread by exploiting the loophole in Android's app installation process that allows anyone to install apps from anywhere on the internet. Today's 31-page report (PDF) is the second iteration of the same report, with a first version (PDF) being published back in June, shortly after EU authorities announced their investigation.
How Coinbase Phishers Steal One-Time Passwords
An anonymous reader quotes a report from from Krebs on Security:
A recent phishing campaign targeting Coinbase users shows thieves are getting smarter about phishing one-time passwords (OTPs) needed to complete the login process. It also shows that phishers are attempting to sign up for new Coinbase accounts by the millions as part of an effort to identify email addresses that are already associated with active accounts. Coinbase is the world's second-largest cryptocurrency exchange, with roughly 68 million users from over 100 countries. The now-defunct phishing domain at issue -- coinbase.com.password-reset[.]com -- was targeting Italian Coinbase users (the site's default language was Italian). And it was fairly successful, according to Alex Holden, founder of Milwaukee-based cybersecurity firm Hold Security.
Holden's team managed to peer inside some poorly hidden file directories associated with that phishing site, including its administration page. That panel, pictured in the redacted screenshot below, indicated the phishing attacks netted at least 870 sets of credentials before the site was taken offline. Holden said each time a new victim submitted credentials at the Coinbase phishing site, the administrative panel would make a loud "ding" -- presumably to alert whoever was at the keyboard on the other end of this phishing scam that they had a live one on the hook. In each case, the phishers manually would push a button that caused the phishing site to ask visitors for more information, such as the one-time password from their mobile app. "These guys have real-time capabilities of soliciting any input from the victim they need to get into their Coinbase account," Holden said. Pressing the "Send Info" button prompted visitors to supply additional personal information, including their name, date of birth, and street address. Armed with the target's mobile number, they could also click "Send verification SMS" with a text message prompting them to text back a one-time code.
Holden said the phishing group appears to have identified Italian Coinbase users by attempting to sign up new accounts under the email addresses of more than 2.5 million Italians. His team also managed to recover the username and password data that victims submitted to the site, and virtually all of the submitted email addresses ended in ".it." But the phishers in this case likely weren't interested in registering any accounts. Rather, the bad guys understood that any attempts to sign up using an email address tied to an existing Coinbase account would fail. After doing that several million times, the phishers would then take the email addresses that failed new account signups and target them with Coinbase-themed phishing emails. Holden's data shows this phishing gang conducted hundreds of thousands of halfhearted account signup attempts daily. For example, on Oct. 10 the scammers checked more than 216,000 email addresses against Coinbase's systems. The following day, they attempted to register 174,000 new Coinbase accounts.
20 Years Later, Xbox Creator Apologizes To AMD CEO For Last-Minute Switch To Intel
The original Xbox was released 20 years ago next month, and to mark the upcoming anniversary, the console's designer has
apologized to AMD's engineers and its CEO for Microsoft's last-minute decision to drop AMD for rival Intel. GameSpot reports:
Seamus Blackley apologized on Twitter to the AMD engineers who worked with Microsoft to create the prototype Xbox consoles that the company used in the lead-up to the OG Xbox's release in November 2001. To AMD CEO Lisa Su, Blackley said, "I beg mercy." "I was standing there on the stage for the announcement, with [Bill Gates], and there they were right there, front row, looking so sad," he said of AMD engineers in the room. "I'll never forget it. They had helped so much with the prototypes. Prototypes that were literally running the launch announcement demos ON AMD HARDWARE." "I felt like such an ass," Blackley said. Microsoft dropped AMD in favor of Intel due to "pure politics," Blackley said in another tweet.
Some of Verizon's Visible Cell Network Customers Say They've Been Hacked
Verizon's Visible network has confirmed that
some accounts were accessed without authorization. Visible is a cell service
owned and operated by Verizon that "pitches itself as a less expensive, 'all-digital' network, meaning there aren't any physical stores like you'd get with a tradtiional carrier," notes The Verge. From the report:
Starting on Monday, customers on both Twitter and Reddit reported en masse that they'd been getting emails from the company about changed passwords and addresses, and that they've had difficulties contacting the company's chat support. Visible's customer service account on Twitter seemingly hasn't addressed the issue, besides directing upset customers to its DMs. A user marked as a Visible employee on the subreddit posted a statement on Monday afternoon, saying that a "small number" of accounts were affected, but that the company didn't believe its systems had been breached. The statement did recommend that users change their passwords, but as many commenters pointed out (and as I can confirm), the password reset system currently isn't working. In a follow-up article, The Verge reports that Visible has
confirmed customer reports of attackers accessing and changing user accounts. The company said that the breaches were carried out using usernames and passwords from "outside sources," adding that it's worked to "mitigate the issue" since it became aware of it. They're recommending you reset your password if it's one you've used for other services.
AI Fake-Face Generators Can Be Rewound To Reveal the Real Faces They Trained On
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review:
Load up the website This Person Does Not Exist and it'll show you a human face, near-perfect in its realism yet totally fake. Refresh and the neural network behind the site will generate another, and another, and another. The endless sequence of AI-crafted faces is produced by a generative adversarial network (GAN) -- a type of AI that learns to produce realistic but fake examples of the data it is trained on. But such generated faces -- which are starting to be used in CGI movies and ads -- might not be as unique as they seem. In a paper titled This Person (Probably) Exists (PDF), researchers show that many faces produced by GANs bear a striking resemblance to actual people who appear in the training data. The fake faces can effectively unmask the real faces the GAN was trained on, making it possible to expose the identity of those individuals. The work is the latest in a string of studies that call into doubt the popular idea that neural networks are "black boxes" that reveal nothing about what goes on inside.
To expose the hidden training data, Ryan Webster and his colleagues at the University of Caen Normandy in France used a type of attack called a membership attack, which can be used to find out whether certain data was used to train a neural network model. These attacks typically take advantage of subtle differences between the way a model treats data it was trained on -- and has thus seen thousands of times before -- and unseen data. For example, a model might identify a previously unseen image accurately, but with slightly less confidence than one it was trained on. A second, attacking model can learn to spot such tells in the first model's behavior and use them to predict when certain data, such as a photo, is in the training set or not.
Such attacks can lead to serious security leaks. For example, finding out that someone's medical data was used to train a model associated with a disease might reveal that this person has that disease. Webster's team extended this idea so that instead of identifying the exact photos used to train a GAN, they identified photos in the GAN's training set that were not identical but appeared to portray the same individual -- in other words, faces with the same identity. To do this, the researchers first generated faces with the GAN and then used a separate facial-recognition AI to detect whether the identity of these generated faces matched the identity of any of the faces seen in the training data. The results are striking. In many cases, the team found multiple photos of real people in the training data that appeared to match the fake faces generated by the GAN, revealing the identity of individuals the AI had been trained on.
Cisco Wants To Climb Back the Way Microsoft Did
The networking giant says it has
turned a corner in its attempt to adapt to the cloud era. From a report:
Cisco is hardly a failure. It produces billions of dollars in annual profits and is generally regarded as stable and well-run. But investors feared that its steady operations could lead to a slow-motion descent into obsolescence in an industry that can be brutal to anyone who falls a half-step behind. The best example of a tech giant stumbling then regaining its dominance is probably Microsoft, and analysts regularly hold it up as a role model for Cisco. Microsoft's decline, which began about the same time as Cisco's, was largely the result of a progression of disappointing products. That began to change in 2014, when new Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella started selling tons of copies of popular software such as Excel and Word as subscription services rather than one-time purchase products and built a formidable cloud computing division. Microsoft is now the only U.S. company other than Apple with a market value of more than $2 trillion.
Chuck Robbins has held his job as Cisco's CEO just one year less than Nadella. In recent months, he's begun to insist that his company has finally reached its inflection point. Cisco acknowledged years ago that it had failed to capitalize on the chance to build the initial infrastructure for cloud computing, says Robbins, and responded with a significant, if slow-developing, overhaul of its strategy. "We were going to build technology for the next transition," he says. "We did that. Now we're seeing the benefit." Cisco's initial problem was partially a lack of flexibility. When Amazon, Google, and Microsoft began building cloud computing data centers, they wanted components, software, and machines that were tailored to their needs. Cisco insisted on selling the same expensive, uncustomizable equipment that was always the core of its business. The burgeoning cloud companies were only too happy to take their business elsewhere. Robbins can point to significant changes during his six-year tenure. Cisco has made a string of acquisitions that have turned it into one of the top 10 software companies in the world by revenue. Software and services have surpassed hardware and now make up more than half of Cisco's revenue. Its expected future revenue for outstanding fees from these products totals $30 billion.
Captain Kirk Safely Goes To Space and Back
Captain Kirk alias William Shatner has just safely completed his first trip to space and back, and in the process has become the oldest person ever to have been to space. More news and coverage at BBC and Evening Standard. Blue Origin took the 90-year-old just about 60 miles (100km) above the Earth's surface where those aboard got to experience a short period of weightlessness. The trip only lasted about 10 minutes.
"Everybody in the world needs to do this," the Canadian actor told Mr Bezos after landing back on Earth. "It was unbelievable." In tears, he added: "What you have given me is the most profound experience. I'm so filled with emotion about what just happened. I hope I never recover from this. I hope I can retain what I feel now. I don't want to lose it."
Activision Unveils Ricochet Anti-cheat System for Call of Duty
Activision unveiled its Ricochet anti-cheat system for Call of Duty games as it tries to
attack a longstanding cheating problem that has frustrated a lot of players. From a report:
The new system will get rid of players cheating in Call of Duty: Warzone later this year and it will debut with Call of Duty: Vanguard, the new premium game coming on multiple platforms on November 5. Activision, whose parent company Activision Blizzard has been sued for having an alleged toxic culture of its own, said in its announcement that cheating in Call of Duty is frustrating for players, developers, and the entire community. The anti-cheat team has made great strides in fighting this persistent issue that affects so many, but the company said it knows more must be done. Ricochet is supported by a team of dedicated professionals focused on fighting unfair play.
The Ricochet anti-cheat initiative is a multi-faceted approach to combat cheating, featuring new server-side tools which monitor analytics to identify cheating, enhanced investigation processes to stamp out cheaters, updates to strengthen account security, and more. Ricochet's backend anti-cheat security features will launch alongside Call of Duty: Vanguard, and later this year with the Pacific update coming to Call of Duty: Warzone. In addition to server enhancements coming with Ricochet is a new PC kernel-level driver, developed internally for the Call of Duty franchise, and launching first for Call of Duty: Warzone. This driver will assist in the identification of cheaters, reinforcing and strengthening the overall server security. The kernel-level driver launches alongside the Pacific update for Warzone later this year.
Cheat Maker Is Not Afraid of Call of Duty's New Kernel-Level Anti-Cheat.
China's Solar Power Has Reached Price Parity With Coal
Like everywhere else, China has
seen the cost of solar power dive over the last decade, with a 63 percent drop between 2011 and 2018 alone. In line with that, the installation of solar has risen dramatically. From a report:
Currently, a third of the entire planet's new solar capacity is being commissioned in China; the country passed the installed capacity of the US in 2013 and Germany in 2015, and it now has over 250 GW active -- well more than double what its economic plan had specified by this point. Given that China plans to hit net zero emissions by 2060, it is likely to continue this building spree. But the forecast is not all rosy. Most of China's population is located in the country's southeast. The best solar resources (in terms of cloudless days and available land) are in the northwest, which also happens to be sparsely populated.
This mismatch has left solar facing constraints due to limits in the ability of China's grids to shift power across its vast distances. The output of solar plants in the northwest has frequently ended up curtailed, as there's no capacity to send it where it's needed. As a result, it's been somewhat difficult to fully understand the economics of solar power in China. To get a clearer picture, the researchers built a model that takes into account most of the factors influencing solar's performance. The model tracks changes in technology, economics, solar resources, and the Chinese grid for the period from 2020 to 2060. It used six years of satellite weather data to estimate typical productivity in different areas of the country, and it included information on existing land use that would interfere with solar-farm siting.
FAST, the World's Largest Radio Telescope, Zooms in on a Furious Cosmic Source
China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope has
detected more than 1,600 fast radio bursts from a single enigmatic system. From a report:
Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are one of the greatest mysteries of our universe. Coming from deep space, these outbursts can flash and fade in a matter of milliseconds, yet in each instance can release as much energy as the sun does in a year. They pop up all across the sky multiple times a day, but most appear to be one-off events and are thus hard to catch. First discovered in 2007, FRBs have challenged and tantalized scientists seeking to uncover their obscure origins and to use them as unique tools for probing the depths of intergalactic space. Now, using the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, an international team has reported the largest set of FRB events ever detected in history.
According to their paper published in Nature today, between August and October 2019 the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) in southwestern China recorded a total of 1,652 such brief and bright outbursts from a single repeating FRB source in a dwarf galaxy three billion light years away. Besides dramatically boosting the total number of known FRB events, the observations also revealed a very wide range of brightnesses among the recorded events, offering new clues about the astrophysical nature of their mysterious source. "The study is very thorough, with a level of details and sensitivity we've never had before," says astrophysicist Emily Petroff from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and McGill University in Canada, who is not involved in the research. "Such in-depth analyses of individual sources will be a top priority in FRB research in the near future."
Google Says Fortnite's In-app Purchase Swap Was a Breach of Contract, Sues Epic
Epic Games keeps piling up lawsuits with app store owners. This time, Google is
countersuing Epic for breach of contract. From a report:
Epic signed contracts with both Google and Apple, pledging to use the default payment systems for in-app purchases. As part of its push for more open payment systems, though (and to dodge each platform's 30 percent fee), Epic boldly pushed out updates to the Android and iOS apps that switched the payment processing from the platforms' in-app purchases to Epic's in-house system. Google and Apple both allege this action was a breach of their app store contracts with Epic.
Apple sued and got its ruling last month. Epic was ordered to pay $3.65 million in damages, covering Apple's lost revenue from Epic's three months of self-powered payments. Following that ruling, Google wants its missing money, too, and now it's countersuing Epic, hoping for a similar ruling. Google's suit reads, "Epic willfully breached the DDA [Developer Distribution Agreement] by submitting a version of Fortnite for publication on Google Play with a payment method other than Google Play Billing for purchases of in-app content. By doing this, Epic denied Google its service fee under the DDA for any purchases made through the app outside of Google Play Billing." Google continues: "The users that downloaded the non-compliant version of Fortnite before its removal from Google Play are still able to use Epic's hotfixed external payment mechanism to make in-app purchases -- allowing Epic to evade its contractually agreed service fee to Google for those purchases." Google argues that "Epic has alternatively been unjustly enriched at Google's expense" and is seeking restitution of its missing earnings and damages.
Steaks Could Soon Become Champagne-Like Luxury, Says Boss of Europe's Top Meat Processor
The boss of Europe's top meat processor said beef will
become a luxury like champagne because of the climate impact of producing it. From a report:
"Beef is not going to be super climate friendly," Danish Crown Chief Executive Officer Jais Valeur said in an interview with Danish newspaper Berlingske. "It will be a luxury product that we eat when we want to treat ourselves." Valeur said pork would be a more climate-friendly protein. Danish Crown is one of Europe's largest pork producers, although it is also a player in the beef market. Meat companies are coming under pressure to curb greenhouse gases, with 57% of all food industry emissions coming from making animal products, according to one study. Tackling methane emissions from livestock is one of the most critical climate challenges for producers.
America is Choking Under an 'Everything Shortage'
supply chain is slowing down at the very moment when Americans are demanding that it go into overdrive. The Atlantic:
Is it just me, or does it feel like America is running out of everything? I visited CVS last week to pick up some at-home COVID-19 tests. They'd been sold out for a week, an employee told me. So I asked about paper towels. "We're out of those too," he said. "Try Walgreens." I drove to a Walgreens that had paper towels. But when I asked a pharmacist to fill some very common prescriptions, he told me the store had run out. "Try the Target up the road," he suggested. Target's pharmacy had the meds, but its front area was alarmingly barren, like the canned-food section of a grocery store one hour before a hurricane makes landfall.
This is the economy now. One-hour errands are now multi-hour odysseys. Next-day deliveries are becoming day-after-next deliveries. That car part you need? It'll take an extra week, sorry. The book you were looking for? Come back in November. The baby crib you bought? Make it December. Eyeing a new home-improvement job that requires several construction workers? Haha, pray for 2022. The U.S. economy isn't yet experiencing a downturn akin to the 1970s period of stagflation. This is something different, and quite strange. Americans are settling into a new phase of the pandemic economy, in which GDP is growing but we're also suffering from a dearth of a shocking array of things -- test kits, car parts, semiconductors, ships, shipping containers, workers. This is the Everything Shortage. The Everything Shortage is not the result of one big bottleneck in, say, Vietnamese factories or the American trucking industry. We are running low on supplies of all kinds due to a veritable hydra of bottlenecks.
Groups Launch 'How To Stop Facebook' Effort
A coalition of nonprofits on Wednesday debuted
HowToStopFacebook.org, a fresh push to encourage greater government regulation of the social networking giant aimed at
forcing the company to change its business model. From a report:
The campaign hopes to take the outrage expressed by legislators over the revelations of whistleblower Frances Haugen and translate it into action. The campaign is pushing for two goals: A Congressional investigation with subpoena power into harms caused by Facebook; and a strong federal data privacy law that makes it illegal for companies like Facebook and YouTube to collect the vast amounts of data they use to personalize recommendations. The more than 30 groups involved include Accountable Tech, Article 19, Center for Digital Democracy, Fairplay, Global Voices, Media Justice, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Presente, Public Knowledge, United We Dream, Ranking Digital Rights, SumOfUs, Win Without War, and the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center.
Windows 11's First Update Makes AMD CPU Performance Even Worse
AMD warned last week that its chips are experiencing performance issues in Windows 11, and now Microsoft's first update to its new OS has reportedly
made the problems worse. From a report:
TechPowerUp reports that it's seeing much higher latency, which means worse performance, after the Windows 11 update went live yesterday. AMD and Microsoft found two issues with Windows 11 on Ryzen processors. Windows 11 can cause L3 cache latency to triple, slowing performance by up to 15 percent in certain games. The second issue affects AMD's preferred core technology, that shifts threads over to the fastest core on a processor. AMD says this second bug could impact performance on CPU-reliant tasks. TechPowerUp measured the L3 cache latency on its Ryzen 7 2700X at around 10ns, and Windows 11 increased this to 17ns. "This was made much worse with the October 12 'Patch Tuesday' update, driving up the latency to 31.9ns," says TechPowerUp. That's a huge jump, and the exact type of issue AMD warned about.
US Overtakes China as Biggest Bitcoin Mining Hub After Beijing Ban
overtook China as the world's biggest source of bitcoin mining two months after Beijing banned crypto mining this year, new data have revealed. From a report:
China's share of the global hashrate -- the computational power required to create bitcoin -- fell from 44 per cent to zero between May and July, showed figures published by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance on Wednesday. The country accounted for three-quarters of the global hashrate in 2019. The US share of the global hashrate increased from 17 per cent in April to 35 per in August, while Kazakhstan rose 10 percentage points to 18 per cent in the same period.
China's State Council, or cabinet, banned cryptocurrency mining and trading in May, citing environmental and financial concerns. The decision prompted an exodus of miners in search of cheap energy and crypto-friendly politicians. China's bitcoin mining ban resulted in the "great mining migration," said Sam Tabar, chief strategy officer at Bit Digital, a New York-based bitcoin miner. The company suspended its operations in China, which it had been winding down since October 2020, after the prohibition. Michel Rauchs, digital assets lead at the closely watched Cambridge tracker, noted that "the effect of the Chinese crackdown is an increased geographic distribution of hashrate across the world," adding that it could be seen as "a positive development for network security and the decentralised principles of bitcoin."
Microsoft Agrees To Human Rights Review in Deals With Law Enforcement, Government
Microsoft, which has faced pressure from employees and shareholders over contracts with governments and law enforcement agencies, agreed to
commission an independent human rights review of some of those deals. From a report:
The move came in response to a June filing of a shareholder proposal asking the company to evaluate how well it sticks to its human rights statement and related policies. Microsoft committed to a review of any human rights impacts that its products have on those including communities of Black, Indigenous and People of Color in contracts for police, immigration enforcement and unspecified other government agencies, according to correspondence from the company viewed by Bloomberg. Microsoft pledged to publish the report next year, and the shareholders, who include faith-based investors like Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, have withdrawn their proposal ahead of Microsoft's annual shareholder meeting next month.
Amazon Copied Products and Rigged Search Results To Promote Its Own Brands, Documents Show
Amazon.com has been repeatedly accused of knocking off products it sells on its website and of exploiting its vast trove of internal data to promote its own merchandise at the expense of other sellers. The company has denied the accusations. But thousands of pages of internal Amazon documents examined by Reuters -- including emails, strategy papers and business plans -- show the company
ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India, one of the company's largest growth markets. From the report:
The documents reveal how Amazon's private-brands team in India secretly exploited internal data from Amazon.in to copy products sold by other companies, and then offered them on its platform. The employees also stoked sales of Amazon private-brand products by rigging Amazon's search results so that the company's products would appear, as one 2016 strategy report for India put it, "in the first 2 or three ... search results" when customers were shopping on Amazon.in. Among the victims of the strategy: a popular shirt brand in India, John Miller, which is owned by a company whose chief executive is Kishore Biyani, known as the country's "retail king." Amazon decided to "follow the measurements of" John Miller shirts down to the neck circumference and sleeve length, the document states.
Apple Set to Cut iPhone Production Goals Due to Chip Crunch
likely to slash its projected iPhone 13 production targets for 2021 by as many as 10 million units as prolonged chip shortages hit its flagship product. Bloomberg reports:
The company had expected to produce 90 million new iPhone models in the last three months of the year, but it's now telling manufacturing partners that the total will be lower because Broadcom and Texas Instruments are struggling to deliver enough components [...]. The technology giant is one of the world's largest chip buyers and sets the annual rhythm for the electronics supply chain. But even with strong buying power, Apple is grappling with the same supply disruptions that have wreaked havoc on industries around the world. Major chipmakers have warned that demand will continue to outpace supply throughout next year and potentially beyond. Apple gets display parts from Texas Instruments, while Broadcom is its longtime supplier of wireless components. One TI chip in short supply for the latest iPhones is related to powering the OLED display. Apple also is facing component shortages from other suppliers.
Computer Space Launched the Video Game Industry 50 Years Ago
In an article for The Conversation,
Noah Wardrip-Fruin writes about how Computer Space
marked the start of the $175 billion video game industry we have today when it debuted on Oct. 15, 1971 -- and why you probably haven't heard of it. From the report:
Computer Space, made by the small company Nutting Associates, seemed to have everything going for it. Its scenario -- flying a rocket ship through space locked in a dogfight with two flying saucers -- seemed perfect for the times. The Apollo Moon missions were in full swing. The game was a good match for people who enjoyed science-fiction movies like "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Planet of the Apes" and television shows like "Star Trek" and "Lost in Space," or those who had thrilled to the aerial combat of the movies "The Battle of Britain" and "Tora! Tora! Tora!" There was even prominent placement of a Computer Space cabinet in Charlton Heston's film "The Omega Man." But when Computer Space was unveiled, it didn't generate a flood of orders, and no flood ever arrived. It wasn't until Computer Space's makers left the company, founded Atari and released Pong the next year that the commercial potential of video games became apparent. The company sold 8,000 Pong units by 1974.
Nolan Bushnell, who led the development of both Computer Space and Pong, has recounted Computer Space's inauspicious start many times. He claimed that Computer Space failed to take off because it overestimated the public. Bushnell is widely quoted as saying the game was too complicated for typical bar-goers, and that no one would want to read instructions to play a video game. [...] At about the same time Computer Space debuted, Stanford University students were waiting in line for hours in the student union to play another version of Spacewar!, The Galaxy Game, which was a hit as a one-off coin-operated installation just down the street from where Bushnell and his collaborators worked. [...] Key evidence that complexity was not the issue comes in the form of Space Wars, another take on Spacewar! that was a successful arcade video game released in 1977.
Why were The Galaxy Game and Space Wars successful at finding an enthusiastic audience while Computer Space was not? The answer is that Computer Space lacked a critical ingredient that the other two possessed: gravity. The star in Spacewar! produced a gravity well that gave shape to the field of play by pulling the ships toward the star with intensity that varied by distance. This made it possible for players to use strategy -- for example, allowing players to whip their ships around the star. Why didn't Computer Space have gravity? Because the first commercial video games were made using television technology rather than general-purpose computers. This technology couldn't do the gravity calculations. The Galaxy Game was able to include gravity because it was based on a general-purpose computer, but this made it too expensive to put into production as an arcade game. The makers of Space Wars eventually got around this problem by adding a custom computer processor to its cabinets. Without gravity, Computer Space was using a design that the creators of Spacewar! already knew didn't work. Bushnell's story of the game play being too complicated for the public is still the one most often repeated, but as former Atari employee Jerry Jessop told The New York Times about Computer Space, "The game play was horrible."
Netflix Calls Squid Game Its 'Biggest Ever Series At Launch'
Netflix's hugely popular series Squid Game has
become its biggest title ever at launch, the company said Monday. The Verge reports:
The company's Netflix Geeked account tweeted Monday that Hwang Dong-Hyuk's survival thriller reached 111 million global accounts in its first 17 days on the service. Additionally, Squid Game is the first Netflix series to surpass 100 million in its first 28 days on the service, a spokesperson told The Verge. Netflix typically uses 28-day windows to measure the performance of a title on its platform. The spokesperson confirmed to The Verge that the figures it shared are based on the number of accounts that watched the series for at least two minutes, its standard metric for ranking titles (though it has used additional measurements to track the success of titles in the past).
Since debuting on Netflix on September 17th, Squid Game has reached the no. 1 position on the streaming service in 94 countries -- every country in the world where the service features a top 10 list, the company spokesperson said. Additionally, the show has held the no. 1 position for 21 days in the US, shattering the record for a non-English language title. Squid Game was previously announced as the first Korean title to reach the top spot in the US.