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posted by martyb on Monday July 19, @09:56PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Google redesigns its emoji to be more universal and authentic

Google is tweaking 992 of its emoji designs to make them more "universal, accessible, and authentic," the company announced today. The new designs will arrive this fall alongside Android 12, but Google says they'll also be available on older versions with apps that use its Appcompat compatibility layer. They're also coming to other Google platforms like Gmail, Chrome OS, Google Chat, and YouTube Live Chat this month.

[...] [The] bikini emoji no longer looks like it's being worn by an invisible person, and the face mask emoji now shows a face with its eyes open. Google says it made this change to reflect the fact that masks have become "a universal way of showing kindness to others" rather than a symbol of someone being sick.

[...] If you're wondering why we've seen such a flurry of emoji news over the past couple of days, it's because this year's World Emoji Day [landed] July 17th.

Related: Google CEO Drops Everything to Fix Cheeseburger Emoji
Microsoft Briefly Left Holding the Gun Emoji
Unicode Consortium Adding 230 New Emojis in Emoji 12.0


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posted by Fnord666 on Monday July 19, @07:21PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the refrigeration-in-hecking-blazes-tarnation dept.

Say hi to Microsoft's own Linux: CBL-Mariner

Microsoft has its own Linux distribution and, yes, you can download, install and run it. In fact, you may want to do just that.

Ok, so it's not named MS-Linux or Lindows, but Microsoft now has its very own, honest-to-goodness general-purpose Linux distribution: Common Base Linux, (CBL)-Mariner. And, just like any Linux distro, you can download it and run it yourself. Amazing isn't it? Why the next thing you know Microsoft will let you run Windows applications on Linux! Oh, wait it has!

[...] Microsoft didn't make a big fuss about releasing CBL-Mariner. It quietly released the code on GitHub and anyone can use it. Indeed, Juan Manuel Rey, a Microsoft Senior Program Manager for Azure VMware, recently published a guide on how to build an ISO CBL-Mariner image. Before this, if you were a Linux expert, with a spot of work you could run it, but now, thanks to Rey, anyone with a bit of Linux skill can do it.

CBL-Mariner is not a Linux desktop. Like Azure Sphere, Microsoft's first specialized Linux distro, which is used for securing edge computing services, it's a server-side Linux.

This Microsoft-branded Linux is an internal Linux distribution. It's meant for Microsoft's cloud infrastructure and edge products and services. Its main job is to provide a consistent Linux platform for these devices and services. Just like Fedora is to Red Hat, it keeps Microsoft on Linux's cutting edge.

Is this the year of the Linux desktop?


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posted by Fnord666 on Monday July 19, @04:52PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the pwned dept.

For years, a backdoor in popular KiwiSDR product gave root to project developer:

KiwiSDR is hardware that uses a software-defined radio to monitor transmissions in a local area and stream them over the Internet. A largely hobbyist base of users does all kinds of cool things with the playing-card-sized devices. For instance, a user in Manhattan could connect one to the Internet so that people in Madrid, Spain, or Sydney, Australia, could listen to AM radio broadcasts, CB radio conversations, or even watch lightning storms in Manhattan.

On Wednesday, users learned that for years, their devices had been equipped with a backdoor that allowed the KiwiSDR creator—and possibly others—to log in to the devices with administrative system rights. The remote admin could then make configuration changes and access data not just for the KiwiSDR but in many cases to the Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black, or other computing devices the SDR hardware is connected to.

Archived copy of the story.


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posted by martyb on Monday July 19, @02:19PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Gasping-for-air dept.

FAA orders checks on 9,300 Boeing 737 planes for possible switch failures:

WASHINGTON, July 15 (Reuters) - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Thursday issued a directive to operators of all Boeing Co (BA.N) 737 series airplanes to conduct inspections to address possible failures of cabin altitude pressure switches.

The directive requires operators to conduct repetitive tests of the switches and replace them if needed. The directive covers 2,502 U.S.-registered airplanes and 9,315 airplanes worldwide.

It was prompted after an operator reported in September that both pressure switches failed the on-wing functional test on three different 737 models.

The FAA said failure of the switches could result in the cabin altitude warning system not activating if the cabin altitude exceeds 10,000 feet (3,050 m), at which point oxygen levels could become dangerously low.

Airplane cabins are pressurized to the equivalent of not more than 8,000 feet (2438 m).

[...] Due to the importance of functions provided by the switch, the FAA in 2012 mandated all Boeing 737 airplanes utilize two switches to provide redundancy in case of one switch's failure.

The directive covers all versions of the 737 jetliners, including the MAX, but is unrelated to any issues related to the MAX's return to service last November.


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posted by martyb on Monday July 19, @11:48AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the thought-they-were-really-cleaning-up dept.

Feds crack down on brothers behind 45 million illegal robocalls:

Three New Jersey brothers will pay $1.6 million to settle charges of instigating more than 45 million illegal robocalls nationwide, including to tens of millions of Americans on the Federal Trade Commission's Do Not Call Registry, the agency announced on Friday.

The siblings also agreed to a permanent ban on telemarketing and will hand over a residential property to resolve the agency's allegations, made in a complaint filed by Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC.

According to the FTC's suit, Joseph, Sean and Raymond Carney initiated more than 45 million illegal telemarketing calls to people across the U.S. between January 2018 and March 2019 to pitch a line of septic tank cleaning products. Most of the calls, or 31 million, were placed to numbers on the FTC's registry of people who don't want to receive marketing calls.

[...] Telemarketers working on behalf of the brothers falsely told consumers they were calling from an environmental company to offer free information on their septic tank cleaning products, the complaint charges.


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posted by martyb on Monday July 19, @09:18AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the ready-fire-aim dept.

Accuracy at Any Cost? Gamer Leaks British Military Secrets to Russia-born Company to Prove its Tank Model is Wrong

Accuracy at any cost? Gamer leaks British military secrets to Russia-born company to prove its tank model is wrong:

A funny and potentially criminal episode unfolded this week on the forums of 'War Thunder', a popular competitive video game in which players take control of various real-life military vehicles. Projects like this one attract the attention of accuracy nerds, who push designers to get every little detail right.

It seems one such person may have breached the UK Official Secrets Act, by leaking a portion of the still-classified manual for the Challenger 2 main battle tank. On Wednesday, the user posted on the forum a link to excerpts from a Challenger 2 AESP (Army Equipment Support Publication) as he argued his point to developers.

The alleged leak was reported by the UK Defence Journal on Friday. The military-focused website said the poster identifies as a Challenger 2 commander and may be stationed at the Royal Tank Regiment in Tidworth, England.

Forum moderators took issue with the link. The British MoD confirmed to them the classified status of the manual, prompting the link's removal and a warning that disseminating the excerpts "can carry up to a 14-year prison sentence if prosecuted." Some users said they hoped the in-game model of the vehicle would still be fixed, but others pointed out that the game's designers refuse to use reference materials that are not legally available to the public.

Classified Challenger Tank Specs Leaked Online for Videogame

Classified Challenger tank specs leaked online for videogame:

A user identifying as a Challenger 2 commander posted specific excerpts from a Challenger 2 AESP (Army Equipment Support Publication, sort of like a user manual) to show game developers that they "didn't model it correctly".

The user identifies as a make[sic] in Tidworth with a history of "Tanks & AFV's, CR2 Tank Commander, AFV Instr, D&M Instr, Gunnery Instr, Former ATDU". It should be noted that Tidworth is home to the Royal Tank Regiment who operate Challenger 2 tanks.

Anyway, it is understood that the excerpts from the document had their 'UK RESTRICTED' label crossed out and a stamp of 'UNCLASSIFIED' added, as well as having various parts fully blanked. One forum user remarked that "the cover for instance had basically everything except CHALLENGER 2 blacked out".

[Gamemaker] Gaijin refused to deal with the apparently still classified documents. Saying through through their community manager:

"Before any discussion, handling or bug reports are even made, proof of this documents[sic] declassification will be required as well as where it was sourced form[sic]. If it is declassified, it should be available to the public. Last time such a document was shared that was claimed to be "unclassified" it was in fact still classified and was confirmed that it should never have been shared. We make it very clear that we will not handle any source material unless it is publically[sic] available and fully declassified with the rights to prove that."


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posted by martyb on Monday July 19, @06:46AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Never-Twice-the-Same-Color dept.

A long while back, the FCC set a hard deadline of July 13th, 2021, for shutting down the last NTSC television transmitters and transitioning channels to being digital fully. The other day, the last of the NTSC transmitters were shut down with hardly anyone commenting, except Hackaday which noted:

A significant event in the history of technology happened yesterday, and it passed so quietly that we almost missed it. The last few remaining NTSC transmitters in the USA finally came off air, marking the end of over seven decades of continuous 525-line American analogue TV broadcasts. We've previously reported on the output of these channels, largely the so-called "FrankenFM" stations left over after the 2009 digital switchover whose sound carrier lay at the bottom of the FM dial as radio stations, and noted their impending demise. We've even reported on some of the intricacies of the NTSC system, but we've never taken a look at what will replace these last few FrankenFM stations.

NTSC has been the analog protocol used in the US for television since 1941, initially for black and white and then by 1953 / 1951 for color. NTSC was sent at a 3:4 aspect ratio with 525 lines per frame at 30 frames per second. PAL and SECAM were the other two analog standards and used in other parts of the world. Four competing standards for digital signals are in use so far. They are DVB-T, ATSC, ISDB-T, and DTMB. The US uses ATSC.

The US has been among the last countries to switch over to digital television transmissions. The FCC gave stations lots of lead time, several extensions, and multiple exit strategies, including the choice of shutting down the channel and ceasing operations permanently.


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posted by mrpg on Monday July 19, @04:14AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the 35°C-TW dept.

How hot is too hot for the human body?:

Some climate models predict that we're going to start hitting wet-bulb temperatures over 95 °F by the middle of the 21st century. Other researchers say we're already there. In a study published in 2020, researchers showed that some places in the subtropics have already reported such conditions—and they're getting more common.

While most researchers agree that a wet-bulb temperature of 95 °F is unlivable for most humans, the reality is that less extreme conditions can be deadly too. We've only hit those wet-bulb temperatures on Earth a few times, but heat kills people around the world every year.

[...] Heat acclimatization builds up over time: It can start in as little as a few days, and the whole process can take six weeks or longer, Hanna says. People who are more acclimatized to heat sweat more, and their sweat is more diluted, meaning they lose fewer electrolytes through their sweat. This can protect the body from dehydration and heart and kidney problems, Hanna says.

Acclimatization is why heat waves in cooler places, or heat waves early in summer, are more likely to be deadly than the same conditions in hotter places or later in summer. It's not just that places like Canada and Seattle are less likely to have air conditioning, although infrastructure is another big factor in how deadly heat waves will be. Residents of cooler places are also just less acclimatized to the heat, so wet-bulb temperatures below 95 °F can be deadly.

Wet-bulb temperature


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Monday July 19, @02:00AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the hydrogen,-why-not dept.

Siemens Mobility to test hydrogen train on Bavarian rail route:

Siemens Mobility has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to test a hydrogen-powered train in the German state of Bavaria.

The company signed the MoU with the state government of Bavaria and local railway company Bayerische Regiobahn (BRB) to conduct the trial.

The two-car train will begin test runs from mid-2023 on the Augsburg – Füssen route and will enter passenger services in January 2024.

The pilot operations will initially run for 30 months. During this period, the train will be stationed in Augsburg.

The train is being developed on the basis of Siemens Mobility's Mireo Plus H platform. The vehicle will have a range of up to 800km and will be capable of running on non-electrified rail lines.

As primary modules of the hydrogen traction drive, two fuel cells will be placed on the train's roof. The system will utilise the newest generation of batteries from the Saft company that will be deployed beneath the floor.


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posted by mrpg on Sunday July 18, @09:30PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

American west stuck in cycle of 'heat, drought and fire', experts warn:

Firefighters are battling blazes from Arizona to Washington state that are burning with a worrying ferocity, while officials say California is already set to outpace last year's record-breaking fire season.

Extreme heatwaves over the past few weeks – which have smashed records everywhere from southern California to Nevada and Oregon – are causing the region's water reserves to evaporate at an alarming rate, said Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida, a climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit advocacy group. And devoid of moisture, the landscape heats up quickly, like a hot plate, desiccating the landscape and turning vegetation into kindling.

"For our most vulnerable, disadvantaged communities, this also creates compounding health effects," Ortiz said. "First there's the heat. Then for many families their water supplies are affected. And then it's also the same heat and drought that are exacerbating wildfires and leading to smoky, unhealthy air quality."

In northern California, the largest wildfire to hit the state this year broke out over the weekend and has so far consumed more than 140 sq miles (362 sq km). The Beckwourth Complex grew so fast and with such intensity that it whipped up a rare fire tornado – a swirling vortex of smoke and fire.


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posted by mrpg on Sunday July 18, @04:46PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Planes Sampling Air Above the Amazon Find the Rainforest is Releasing More Carbon Than it Stores - Inside Climate News:

Over the last several years researchers have said that the Amazon is on the verge of transforming from a crucial storehouse for heat-trapping gasses to a source of them, a dangerous shift that could destabilize the atmosphere of the planet.

Now, after years of painstaking and inventive research, they have definitively measured that shift.

In a study published Wednesday in Nature, a team of researchers led by scientists from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research, reported results from measuring carbon concentrations in columns of air above the Amazon. They found that the massive continental-size swath of tropical forest is releasing more carbon dioxide than it accumulates or stores, thanks to deforestation and fires.

“There is no doubt that the Amazon is a source,” said Luciana Gatti, the lead author of the study.

Journal Reference:
Luciana V. Gatti, Luana S. Basso, John B. Miller, et al. Amazonia as a carbon source linked to deforestation and climate change, Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03629-6)


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Sunday July 18, @12:12PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

EU unveils sweeping climate change plan:

The European Union has announced a raft of climate change proposals aimed at pushing it towards its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

A dozen draft proposals, which still need to be approved by the bloc's 27 member states and the EU parliament, were announced on Wednesday.

They include plans to tax jet fuel and effectively ban the sale of petrol and diesel powered cars within 20 years.

The proposals, however, could face years of negotiations.

The plans triggered serious infighting at the European Commission, the bloc's administrative arm, as the final tweaks were being made, sources told the AFP news agency.


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Sunday July 18, @08:45AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the It's-Alive! dept.

Hooray! After millions of astronomers held their breath for a very long time, Hubble is back in action! From Phys.org.

The Hubble Space Telescope should be back in action soon, following a tricky, remote repair job by NASA.

The orbiting observatory went dark in mid-June, with all astronomical viewing halted.

NASA initially suspected a 1980s-era computer as the source of the problem. But after the backup payload computer also failed, flight controllers at Maryland's Goddard Space Flight Center focused on the science instruments' bigger and more encompassing command and data unit, installed by spacewalking astronauts in 2009.

Engineers successfully switched to the backup equipment Thursday, and the crucial payload computer kicked in. NASA said Friday that science observations should resume quickly, if everything goes well.

One small switch for Hubble, one giant look at the cosmos for mankind! Godspeed, Space Telescope!


NASA revives ailing Hubble Space Telescope with switch to backup computer

The Hubble Space Telescope has powered on once again! NASA was able to successfully switch to a backup computer on the observatory on Friday (July 16) following weeks of computer problems.

On June 13, Hubble shut down after a payload computer from the 1980s that handles the telescope's science instruments suffered a glitch. Now, over a month since Hubble ran into issues, which the Hubble team thinks were caused by the spacecraft's Power Control Unit (PCU), NASA switched to backup hardware and was able to switch the scope back on.

With Hubble back online with this backup hardware, the Hubble team is keeping a close watch to make sure that everything works correctly, according to a statement from NASA.

[....] Included in this switch to backup hardware, the team brought the backup PCU online as well as the backup Command Unit/Science Data Formatter (CU/SDF), which is on the other side of the Science Instrument and Command & Data Handling (SI C&DH) unit, according to the statement. The PCU diverts power to the SI C&DH while the CU/SDF formats and then sends data and commands throughout the scope.

Other pieces of hardware were also swapped to their backup versions to allow the telescope to function.

See also:

Hubble is back!' Famed space telescope has new lease on life after computer swap appears to fix glitch


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posted by mrpg on Sunday July 18, @04:14AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the thats-what-backups-are-for dept.

Curiosity rover discovers that evidence of past life on Mars may have been erased

[....] when Curiosity took two samples of ancient mudstone, a sedimentary rock containing clay, from patches of the dried-out lake bed, dated to the same time and place (3.5 billion years ago and just 400m apart), researchers found that one patch contained only half the expected amount of clay minerals. Instead, that patch held a greater quantity of iron oxides, the compounds that give Mars its rusty hue.

The team believes the culprit behind this geological disappearing act is brine: supersalty water that leaked into the mineral-rich clay layers and destabilized them, flushing them away and wiping patches of both the geological — and possibly even the biological — record clean.

"We used to think that once these layers of clay minerals formed at the bottom of the lake in Gale Crater, they stayed that way, preserving the moment in time they formed for billions of years," study lead author Tom Bristow, a researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, said in a statement. "But later brines broke down these clay minerals in some places — essentially resetting the rock record."

[....] "We've learned something very important: There are some parts of the Martian rock record that aren't so good at preserving evidence of the planet's past and possible life," co-author Ashwin Vasavada, a Curiosity project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said in the statement. "The fortunate thing is, we find both close together in Gale Crater and can use mineralogy to tell which is which."


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posted by janrinok on Saturday July 17, @11:46PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Google engineer who criticized company in viral comics on why he finally quit:

Former Google engineer Manu Cornet describes his time at Google in two phases. First, there were "glitches in wonderland." Then, there was "disillusionment."

Those two descriptions are actually the sub-headings for Cornet's two volumes of comics he has published about his former employer, which he called Goomics. Though Cornet was an engineer, he also spent 11 of his 14 years at Google drawing comics about employees, quirks, culture, and, eventually, larger societal and ethical issues facing the company and its workers. Some of those topics included Google contracts with government agencies like ICE, making a search engine for China's government that complies with censorship laws, and more.

Chronicling those issues allowed Cornet to reflect on his place at Google, and prompted him to make a change. Cornet recently quit, and has taken a new job (at Twitter, a company with whom he says he has fewer ethical qualms). He is now the latest big tech employee — including employees at Facebook and Amazon — to publicly resign from their positions in protest of the company's overall behavior.

"As the years passed by there were more and more things to have ethical qualms about that the company was doing at a higher level," Cornet said. "I had to look at the bigger picture and think that maybe I would be better elsewhere."

[...] Unfortunately, Cornet found plenty of fodder for less-buoying Goomics. What infuriates him most — and provides frequent inspiration for his comics — is what he views as hypocrisy at the company.

"The mismatch between what they say and what they really do is growing," Cornet said. "The thicker the gap is, the easier it is to point out that hypocrisy."

That extended to both major news items at the executive level, and changes within the company that affected employees. Google made headlines in 2019 for banning political discussion on employee message boards. But Cornet described one of their internal mottos as "bring your whole self to work." He sees a gap between messaging the company uses to attract employees, and the needs of shareholders.


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