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During the COVID-19 lockdowns, on average, the time you spend in front of a computer has

  • Increased greatly
  • Increased somewhat
  • Not changed
  • Decreased somewhat
  • Decreased greatly
  • It's complicated (explain)
  • I don't have a computer you insensitive clod

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:42 | Votes:156

posted by martyb on Friday June 26, @11:07PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the defeating-the-purpose-(DoH!) dept.

Talk about the fox guarding the hen house. Comcast to handle DNS-over-HTTPS for Firefox-using subscribers

Comcast has agreed to be the first home broadband internet provider to handle secure DNS-over-HTTPS queries for Firefox browser users in the US, Mozilla has announced.

This means the ISP, which has joined Moz's Trusted Recursive Resolver (TRR) Program, will perform domain-name-to-IP-address lookups for subscribers using Firefox via encrypted HTTPS channels. That prevents network eavesdroppers from snooping on DNS queries or meddling with them to redirect connections to malicious webpages.

[...] At some point in the near future, Firefox users subscribed to Comcast will use the ISP's DNS-over-HTTPS resolvers by default, though they can opt to switch to other secure DNS providers or opt-out completely.

[...] Incredibly, DNS-over-HTTPS was heralded as a way to prevent, among others, ISPs from snooping on and analyzing their subscribers' web activities to target them with adverts tailored to their interests, or sell the information as a package to advertisers and industry analysts. And yet, here's Comcast providing a DNS-over-HTTPS service for Firefox fans, allowing it to inspect and exploit their incoming queries if it so wishes. Talk about a fox guarding the hen house.

ISPs "have access to a stream of a user’s browsing history," Marshall Erwin, senior director of trust and security at, er, Mozilla, warned in November. "This is particularly concerning in light of the rollback of the broadband privacy rules, which removed guardrails for how ISPs can use your data. The same ISPs are now fighting to prevent the deployment of DNS-over-HTTPS."

Mozilla today insisted its new best buddy Comcast is going to play nice and follow the DNS privacy program's rules.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday June 26, @09:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the gather-and-linger dept.

Maryland offshore wind farm could become stop-over region for migrating striped bass and Atlantic sturgeon:

For the endangered Atlantic sturgeon and the commercially and recreationally important striped bass, the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia coastal shelf serves as an important spring and fall "flyway." Typically thought of as an established aerial route used by migratory birds to travel between feeding and breeding grounds, a recent study by scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science applies the term to fish species of concern. Authors suggest that the development of wind farms on the Delmarva coastal shelf, 17-26 miles from Ocean City's shoreline, may alter the migratory behavior of these fish as new wind turbines in this otherwise featureless region could create habitat around which fish linger.

[...] Scientists also deployed 20 acoustic receivers in the Maryland Wind Energy Area. When a tagged fish swims past a receiver, a listening device about the size of a liter soda bottle, the receiver records the "ping" sent out by the tag. Each "ping" transmits its unique ID and the depth at which the fish was swimming to the receiver, which also records the time and date. The array of receivers allows scientists to monitor the movements of tagged fish. During the study, "pings" from 352 individual Atlantic sturgeon and 315 individual striped bass were recorded by receivers.

Scientists believe that Maryland's future offshore wind farm could become a stop-over region where striped bass and sturgeon might linger longer. The DelMarVa coastal shelf is a fairly barren area. The development of high relief wind turbines would provide structure around which fish may gather and linger during migrations.

Journal Reference:
Ella R. Rothermel, Matthew T. Balazik, Jessica E. Best, et al. Comparative migration ecology of striped bass and Atlantic sturgeon in the US Southern mid-Atlantic bight flyway, PLOS ONE (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0234442)

If the data pans out, the offshore wind farms can do double duty as a power source and wildlife refuge.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday June 26, @06:51PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the you-should-see-what-you're-missing! dept.

Guardzilla Shuts Down, Leaving Security Camera Customers Stranded:

Guardzilla, a small home security camera company, has quietly gone out of business, leaving behind unpatched security flaws, barely or nonworking cameras in lots of consumers' homes, and piles of essentially useless cameras that are still being sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, QVC, and other retailers.

Consumer Reports learned earlier this month that Guardzilla had closed its doors when our test engineers tried to follow up about security problems they found with the Guardzilla 360. We disclosed the issues to Guardzilla last fall. The company fixed one problem, but never addressed a second one.

The company has stopped responding to emails and its phone number is no longer working. A message posted on its website at the beginning of June reads: “We deeply regret that these troubling times have caused us to close our doors. We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused, as we will be unable to continue support for the Guardzilla product line.”

Like other internet-connected security cameras, Guardzilla cameras stored users' video clips on corporate servers. The servers continued working intermittently until mid-June but now appear to be completely shut down.

[...] In addition to Bed Bath & Beyond and QVC, these cameras can still be purchased at Amazon Marketplace, Buy Buy Baby, eBay, and Newegg Marketplace. Consumer Reports reached out to these companies to find out why they continue to sell Guardzilla cameras. Only eBay had replied by the time of publication, and says it will continue to sell the cameras for now.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday June 26, @04:44PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

White House ordered NIH to cancel coronavirus research funding, Fauci says:

The National Institutes of Health abruptly cut off funding to a long-standing, well-regarded research project on bat coronaviruses only after the White House specifically told it to do so, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Fauci made the revelation Tuesday at a Congressional hearing on the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by a coronavirus that is genetically linked to those found in bats. Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) asked Fauci why the NIH abruptly canceled funding for the project, which specifically worked to understand the risk of bat coronaviruses jumping to humans and causing devastating disease.

Fauci responded to Veasey saying: "It was cancelled because the NIH was told to cancel it."

"And why were they told to cancel it?" Veasey pressed.

"I don't know the reason, but we were told to cancel it," Fauci said.

After the hearing, Fauci clarified to Politico that it was the White House that told the NIH to cancel the funding. An unnamed White House official told Politico that the White House did encourage the funding cut, but ultimately it was the Department of Health and Human Services—of which the NIH is a part—that made the final decision. An HHS spokesperson said only that the funding was cut because "the grantee was not in compliance with NIH's grant policy."

In an emailed statement to Ars Wednesday, the NIH did not respond to questions about the cancellation, saying only that "NIH does not discuss internal deliberations on grant terminations."

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday June 26, @02:33PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the rocket-man dept.

[20200626_175532 UTC Update 2]:
According to a story on Ars Technica: "1:45pm ET Friday Update: SpaceX has scrubbed its Starlink launch attempt for Friday. No details of why were immediately available."

[20200626_154830 UTC Update 1]:
The launch is to be live-streamed on YouTube; launch coverage usually begins 15 minutes before launch.

According to the launch schedule at Spaceflight Now, SpaceX is scheduled to launch another batch of Starlink satellites today along with two rideshare satellites for BlackSky Global:

Launch time: 2018 GMT (4:18 p.m. EDT)
Launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is expected to launch the tenth batch of approximately 60 satellites for SpaceX's Starlink broadband network, a mission designated Starlink 9. Two Earth observation microsatellites for BlackSky Global, a Seattle-based company, will launch as rideshare payloads on this mission.

This Starlink launch has been twice-postponed because of weather.

Planning ahead, SpaceX is scheduled to launch the third U.S. Air Force third-generation GPS satellite on Tuesday, June 30th. That launch window is 1955-2010 GMT (3:55-4:10 p.m. EDT).

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday June 26, @01:30PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

At approximately 1200 UTC we experience a problem and the site was unavailable for about an hour. As I understand it, we had some connectivity issues. We are now in the process of investigating. Kudos to TheMightyBuzzard for his way-too-early-in-the-morning work to get us back up!

Registered users will probably have to log back in again.

Here's hoping this is the worst problem you have today!

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday June 26, @12:22PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the lightning's-flashing-across-the-sky dept.

700-km Brazil 'megaflash' sets lightning record: UN:

The UN's weather agency announced Thursday the longest lightning bolt on record—a single flash in Brazil on October 31, 2018 that cut the sky across more than 700 kilometers.

That is equivalent to the distance between Boston and Washington DC in the United States, or between London and Basel, Switzerland, the World Meteorological Organization said in a statement.

WMO's committee of experts on weather and climate extremes also reported a new world record for the duration of a lightning flash, with a single flash that developed continuously over northern Argentina on March 4, 2019 lasting for a full 16.73 seconds.

The new "megaflash" records, which were verified with new satellite lightning imagery technology, were more than double the previous known record-holders, WMO said.

The previous record for the longest detected distance for a single lightning flash was 321 kilometers (199 miles), measured on June 20, 2007 in the US state of Oklahoma, WMO said.

The previous duration record was 7.74 seconds, measured on August 30, 2012 in southern France, it said.

I have several weather resources I like to reference. These two are interactive where you can scroll around and zoom in and out any place in the world. For real-time lightning strikes, check out: For more general info and be sure to play around with the settings (click the "gear" icon).

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday June 26, @10:11AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the don't-have-a-cow,-man. dept.

Devin Nunes can't sue Twitter over statements by fake cow, judge rules:

A judge has ruled that Rep. Devin Nunes has no right to sue Twitter over statements made by a fake Internet cow, someone parodying his mother and a Republican strategist.

Judge John Marshall said in a decision Friday that Twitter was "immune from the defamation claims of" Nunes, R-Tulare, due to federal law that says social media companies are not liable for what people post on their platforms.

Nunes "seeks to have the court treat Twitter as the publisher or speaker of the content provided by others based on its allowing or not allowing certain content to be on its internet platform," Marshall wrote. "The court refuses to do so."

Nunes sued Twitter, the two parody accounts known as Devin Nunes' Cow and Devin Nunes' Mom and strategist Liz Mair in March 2019. He alleged the latter three had defamed him online, ruining his reputation and causing him to win his 2018 election by a narrower margin than normal. He accused Twitter of being negligent for allowing the alleged defamation.

Twitter's lawyers, in their motion to dismiss the suit, argued that Twitter was immune from the lawsuit due to federal law. The law, known as Section 230, says that social media companies like Twitter are not liable for what third parties post on their platform. The only exception is if Twitter personally helped develop or create the content. Both Twitter and Nunes agreed the company did not do that in this case.

Also at Ars Technica.

(2019-03-22) "He's Literally Suing an Imaginary Cow": Late-Night Hosts Mock Rep. Devin Nunes

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday June 26, @08:00AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Tesla-"Autopilot"-is-"Level-2" dept.

Countries agree regulations for automated driving

More than 50 countries, including Japan, South Korea and the EU member states, have agreed common regulations for vehicles that can take over some driving functions, including having a mandatory black box, the UN announced Thursday.

The binding rules on Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) will come into force in January 2021.

The measures were adopted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, which brings together 53 countries, not just in Europe but also in Africa and Asia.

"This is the first binding international regulation on so-called 'Level 3' vehicle automation," UNECE said in a statement.

"The new regulation therefore marks an important step towards the wider deployment of automated vehicles to help realise a vision of safer, more sustainable mobility for all."

[...] The United States is not part of the forum but its car manufacturers would have to follow the new regulations in order to sell Level 3 vehicles in Japan, for example.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday June 26, @05:47AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the a-peek-under-the-covers dept.

New maps and website give fresh insights into NZ continent

Two maps and a website released by GNS Science this week give insights into the amazing forces that shaped Aotearoa New Zealand and the mostly submerged continent that lies beneath our feet.

The maps cover the bathymetry (shape of the ocean floor) and the tectonic origins of Earth's eighth continent—the 5 million square kilometer Te Riu-a-Māui / Zealandia on which New Zealand sits.

They can also be accessed through a new interactive website called E Tūhura—Explore Zealandia (TEZ) – TEZ is designed for exploring onland and offshore geoscience data in and around Te Riu-a-Māui/Zealandia.

[...] "Users can zoom and pan around different thematic geoscience webmaps of the region. They can readily view and interrogate the maps and turn layers on or off. They can also query features in the layers and generate custom maps of their own," Dr. Stagpoole says.

As more research results become available, GNS Science will update the maps and add more information to the interactive website.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday June 26, @03:36AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the nice-doggie dept.

Sled Dogs Have an Unbroken Genetic Ancestry Dating Back Nearly 10,000 Years

Scientists have traced the ancestry of modern sled dogs, such as Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes, all the way back to the end of the last ice age, highlighting an extraordinarily long period of genetic continuity.

"Although sled dogs are one of the most specialized groups of dogs, their origin and evolution has received much less attention than many other dog groups," declares the opening sentence of a fascinating new research paper published today in Science.

Indeed, we know surprisingly little about the ancestry of modern sled dogs, a select group of domesticated canids that includes Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes, and the Greenland sled dog, the latter of which is an Inuit breed used for hunting and sledding. Mikkel-Holder Sinding, a paleogeneticist at the University of Copenhagen and the first author of the new study, along with scientists from many other institutions, embarked upon a genetic investigation to learn more about these working Arctic breeds, including where and when they first emerged.

[...] For the new study, the scientists sequenced the genomes from 10 modern Greenland sled dogs, the remains of a 9,500-year-old sled dog found on Zhokhov island (this specimen, dubbed "Zhokhov," was found buried alongside sled equipment), and a 33,000-year-old wolf mandible, dubbed "Yana." These genomes were then compared to the DNA of 114 modern dogs representing a host of geographically and genetically diverse breeds. This allowed the researchers to create a kind of family tree for the dogs.

Yana, unsurprisingly, was most certainly a wolf. Zhokhov, on the other hand, was found to be related to modern dogs, with DNA closely related to huskies, malamutes, and most especially Greenland sled dogs. The new research shows that ancient Siberian dogs are the common ancestor to all modern sled breeds. That Zhokhov is so closely related to Greenland sled dogs makes a lot of sense, considering how isolated they've been over the millennia.

Journal Reference:
Mikkel-Holger S. Sinding, Shyam Gopalakrishnan, Jazmín Ramos-Madrigal, et al. Arctic-adapted dogs emerged at the Pleistocene–Holocene transition [$], Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz8599 ( says no))

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Friday June 26, @01:28AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Astronomers see first light flare from two distant black holes colliding

A whopping 7.5 billion light-years from Earth, two black holes, each about the size of Long Island, rapidly spun around each other several times per second before smashing together in a cataclysmic explosion that sent shockwaves through the Universe. Normally, violent unions like this are dark events, but astronomers think they saw a flare of light emerge from this celestial dance — potentially the first time light has ever been seen from black holes merging.

It's a unique discovery since black holes are notorious for not producing any light at all. These super dense objects are so massive that nothing can escape their uigravitational pull — not even light. So how exactly did researchers see a flare from two black holes that aren't supposed to flare?

Well, the black holes may have just been in the right place at the right time, according to a new study published in the journal Physical Review Letters [DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.124.251102] [DX]. When they spun together, they were located inside a giant disc of gas and dust. This disc of material spans light-years and actually surrounds a third black hole — a supermassive one at the center of a galaxy. Since the dueling black holes were inside this dusty environment, their spinning and eventual merger created something like a shock wave that slammed into the surrounding dirt and gas. That heated up the nearby material, causing it to glow brighter than normal — and allowing researchers from Earth to spot it.

There are a lot of stars (and stellar black holes) hanging around near supermassive black holes in the centers of some galaxies.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday June 25, @11:18PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the more-vs-Moore dept.

AMD claims to have improved performance by about 5x while cutting power use to about 1/6th, when comparing 2014 "Kaveri" mobile APUs to 2020 "Renoir" mobile APUs. This exceeds a goal of improving efficiency by 25x by 2020:

The base value for AMD's goal is on its Kaveri mobile processors, which by the standards of today set a very low bar. As AMD moved to Carrizo, it implemented new power monitoring features on chip that allowed the system to offer a better distribution of power and ran closer to the true voltage needed, not wasting power. After Carrizo came Bristol Ridge, still based on the older cores, but used a new DDR4 controller as well as lower powered processors that were better optimized for efficiency.

A big leap came with Raven Ridge, with AMD combining its new highly efficient Zen x86 cores and Vega integrated graphics. This heralded a vast improvement in performance due to doubling the cores and improving the graphics, all within a similar power window as Bristol Ridge. This boosted up the important 25x20 metric and keeping it well above the 'linear' gain.

[...] The jump from Picasso to Renoir has been well documented. Our first use of the CPUs, reviewed in the ASUS Zephyrus G14, left us with our mouths open, almost literally. We called it a 'Mobile Revival', showcasing AMD's transition over from Zen+ to Zen2, from GF 12nm to TSMC 7nm, along with a lot of strong design and optimization on the graphics side. The changes from the 2019 to the 2020 chip include doubling the core count, from four to eight, improving the clock-for-clock performance by 15-20%, but also improving the graphics performance and frequencies despite moving down from an silicon design that had 11 compute units down to 8. This comes in line with a number of power updates, adhering to AHCI specifications, and as we discussed with Sam Naffziger, AMD Fellow, supporting the new S0ix low power states has helped tremendously. The reduction in the fabric power, along with additional memory bandwidth, offered large gains.

AMD accomplished this while using refined "7nm" Vega GPU cores in its APUs, instead of moving to a newer architecture such as RDNA2.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday June 25, @09:08PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the not-valuable-to-them-any-more dept.

Google reveals major privacy shake-up, will auto-delete user data

According to a new blog post, Google will now automatically delete users’ search information, location data and voice commands after 18 months has elapsed since capture.

YouTube activity, meanwhile, will be kept on file for 36 months by default, which Google says will ensure viewers are served the most relevant content.

[...] The company’s auto-delete controls have been in place since last year, but will now be turned on by default for new users. Existing Google Account holders, though, will need to manually activate the auto-delete function from with the Activity Controls panel.

[...] The firm also took the opportunity to unveil a host of smaller changes designed to make it easier for users to access privacy controls and improve account security.

[...] Within the coming weeks, Google’s Password Checkup tool will also be integrated into the Security Checkup service, which notifies users of chinks in their security armor. The addition will allow account holders to check whether any of their login credentials have been compromised and safeguard against potential credential-stuffing attacks.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday June 25, @06:55PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the bad-company dept.

Huawei on List of 20 Chinese Companies That Pentagon Says Are Controlled by People’s Liberation Army:

The Pentagon put Huawei Technologies and Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology on a list of 20 companies it says are owned or controlled by China's military, opening them up to potential additional U.S. sanctions.

In letters to lawmakers dated June 24, the Pentagon said it was providing a list of "Communist Chinese military companies operating in the United States." The list was first requested in the fiscal 1999 defense policy law.

This list includes "entities owned by, controlled by, or affiliated with China's government, military, or defense industry," Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.

[...] The companies on the list are:

Aviation Industry Corporation of China
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation
China Electronics Technology Group Corporation
China South Industries Group Corporation
China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation
China State Shipbuilding Corporation
China North Industries Group Corporation
Huawei Technologies Co.
Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co.
Inspur Group; Aero Engine Corporation of China
China Railway Construction Corporation
CRRC Corp.; Panda Electronics Group
Dawning Information Industry Co.
China Mobile Communications Group
China General Nuclear Power Corp.
China National Nuclear Power Corp.
China Telecommunications Corp.

Given how inter-connected the world is, how practical would it be to avoid all such Chinese companies?

Original Submission