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posted by hubie on Monday April 01, @09:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the you-can-go-your-own-way-and-call-it-another-lonely-day dept.

China blocks use of Intel and AMD chips in government computers, FT reports By Reuters:

(Reuters) -China has introduced guidelines to phase out U.S. microprocessors from Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and AMD (NASDAQ:AMD) from government personal computers and servers, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

The procurement guidance also seeks to sideline Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)'s Windows operating system and foreign-made database software in favour of domestic options, the report said.

Government agencies above the township level have been told to include criteria requiring "safe and reliable" processors and operating systems when making purchases, the newspaper said.

China's industry ministry in late December issued a statement with three separate lists of CPUs, operating systems and centralised database deemed "safe and reliable" for three years after the publication date, all from Chinese companies, Reuters checks showed.

[...] The U.S. has been aiming to boost domestic semiconductor output and reduce reliance on China and Taiwan with the Biden administration's 2022 CHIPS and Science Act.

It is designed to bolster U.S. semiconductors and contains financial aid for domestic production with subsidies for production of advanced chips.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Monday April 01, @04:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the embrace-the-suck dept.

Embracer Group has been backing away from its all-encompassing position in the games industry lately. The latest divestment is Gearbox Entertainment, the studio behind the Borderlands series it bought in early 2021 for a deal that could have been worth up to $1.37 billion to Gearbox had it stayed inside the Swedish conglomerate's grasp.

The buyer is Take-Two Interactive Software, which had previously partnered with Gearbox on publishing Borderlands and other titles. Take-Two will issue new shares of its common stock to pay $460 million for Gearbox, to be completed before the end of June this year. Embracer paid $363 million in cash and stock for Gearbox in 2021 but promised up to $1 billion more should the developer hit earnings goals over six years.

[...] Gearbox has studios in Texas, Montreal, and Quebec City, Canada. The firm had 550 employees at the time of its acquisition, but divisions of the company had seen layoffs in January.

[...] Embracer had been acquiring properties in 2021 and 2022 with an understanding that a planned $2 billion investment from the Saudi-government-backed Savvy Games Group would give the new mega-conglomerate some runway.

[...] Once the Saudi deal fell through in May 2023, however, the firm announced that it would undergo a major restructuring through March 2024. That included the shutdown of Volition in August 2023 and deep cuts at Eidos that took an unannounced Deus Ex title with them.

Gearbox and its Borderlands franchise were the biggest get, however. The looter-shooter series, struck through with (often exhausting) "edge-y" humor, has reportedly sold more than 77 million copies and earned more than $1 billion in revenue throughout its run, according to Bloomberg. Take-Two noted that a Borderlands game was "in active development" at Gearbox in its acquisition announcement.

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Steam Battles Off-Topic Reviews — Flaming Old Games Because of Borderlands 3 Exclusive Deal - 20190410
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Original Submission

posted by hubie on Monday April 01, @11:33AM   Printer-friendly

Shared YouTube data prompts civil liberty worries:

If you've ever jokingly wondered if your search or viewing history is going to "put you on some kind of list," your concern may be more than warranted.

In now unsealed court documents reviewed by Forbes, Google was ordered to hand over the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and user activity of Youtube accounts and IP addresses that watched select YouTube videos, part of a larger criminal investigation by federal investigators.

The videos were sent by undercover police to a suspected cryptocurrency launderer under the username "elonmuskwhm." In conversations with the bitcoin trader, investigators sent links to public YouTube tutorials on mapping via drones and augmented reality software, Forbes details. The videos were watched more than 30,000 times, presumably by thousands of users unrelated to the case.

YouTube's parent company Google was ordered by federal investigators to quietly hand over all such viewer data for the period of Jan. 1 to Jan. 8, 2023, but Forbes couldn't confirm if Google had complied.

SEE ALSO: Users get a taste of Google's AI search results, unprompted

The mandated data retrieval is worrisome in itself, according to privacy experts. Federal investigators argued the request was legally justified as the data "would be relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation, including by providing identification information about the perpetrators," citing justification used by other police forces around the country. In a case out of New Hampshire, police requested similar data during the investigation of bomb threats that were being streamed live to YouTube — the order specifically requested viewership information at select time stamps during the live streams.

"With all law enforcement demands, we have a rigorous process designed to protect the privacy and constitutional rights of our users while supporting the important work of law enforcement," Google spokesperson Matt Bryant told Forbes. "We examine each demand for legal validity, consistent with developing case law, and we routinely push back against over broad or otherwise inappropriate demands for user data, including objecting to some demands entirely."

Privacy experts, however, are worried about the kind of precedent the court's order creates, citing concerns over the protections of the first and fourth amendments. "This is the latest chapter in a disturbing trend where we see government agencies increasingly transforming search warrants into digital dragnets," executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project Albert Fox-Cahn told the publication. "It's unconstitutional, it's terrifying, and it's happening every day."

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Monday April 01, @06:50AM   Printer-friendly
from the how-to-ham-it-up dept.

Radio communications play a key role in modern electronics, but to a hobbyist, the underlying theory is hard to parse. We get the general idea, of course: we know about frequencies and can probably explain the difference between amplitude modulation and frequency modulation. Yet, most of us find it difficult to articulate what makes a good antenna, or how a receiver can tune in to a specific frequency and ignore everything else.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Monday April 01, @02:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the sounds-like-a-lot-of-work dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

An international team of astronomers has discovered 49 new gas-rich galaxies using the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa. Their research is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Dr. Marcin Glowacki, from the Curtin University node of the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Western Australia, led the research, which aimed to study the star-forming gas in a single radio galaxy. Although the team didn't find any star-forming gas in the galaxy they were studying, Dr. Glowacki instead discovered other galaxies while inspecting the data.

[...] Three galaxies are directly connected by their gas.

Dr. Glowacki said, "These three are particularly interesting, as by studying the galaxies at other wavelengths of light, we discovered the central galaxy is forming many stars. It is likely stealing the gas from its companion galaxies to fuel its star formation, which may lead the other two to become inactive."

More information: Marcin Glowacki et al, A serendipitous discovery of HI-rich galaxy groups with MeerKAT, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2024). DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stae684

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Sunday March 31, @09:16PM   Printer-friendly

Oregon is now the fourth state in the country to enact a "right to repair" law to make it easier for consumers and independent shops to fix electronic gear. With Gov. Tina Kotek's signing of Senate Bill 1596 on Thursday, manufacturers will be required to offer any necessary documentation, parts, tools or any device needed to repair electronic equipment at a "fair cost" and on "reasonable" terms.

The bill takes effect in January. It was championed by state Sen. Janeen Sollman, D-Hillsboro, who first started pushing for the legislation in 2021. The minority of lawmakers who opposed the bill were Republican. The bill had wide support from small businesses and consumer advocates, including OSPIRG, a statewide public interest group. Only one major manufacturer opposed the bill – Apple. An Apple representative who testified against the bill said it would undermine the company's security efforts, a claim lawmakers questioned.

[...] Besides Oregon, Minnesota, New York and California have right to repair laws on technology. Massachusetts has approved a right to repair law on vehicles and Colorado has adopted one for wheelchairs and another for farmers.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Sunday March 31, @06:13PM   Printer-friendly

By Lester Black / March 27, 2024

Michael Moussalli, the owner of Se7enLeaf, said that the cannabis raid has nearly destroyed his business.

American police have been seizing cannabis for decades, but the tables were turned last week, when law enforcement in a California city was forced to return hundreds of pounds of cannabis to a pot distributor.

Costa Mesa police officers returned the massive shipment of cannabis last week to Se7enLeaf, a cannabis distributor in the city, according to the Los Angeles Times. The authorities had accused the company of illegally operating and seized the cannabis in September of last year.

Michael Moussalli, the owner of Se7enLeaf, told SFGATE that he was happy to get his cannabis back after his attorneys explained he was operating legally, but he still blamed the city for taking it in the first place and delaying its return.

"The sad thing is once all this info was shared, there was no apologies. There was only more aggression," Moussalli said, referencing the city's attempt to further delay the return of the products. "The police were not happy that no charges were filed. The police were not happy that the product was being returned."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Sunday March 31, @04:29PM   Printer-friendly
from the this-time-with-an-actual-working-link-to-the-article dept.

Vlogger Jeff Geerling wanted to clear up just what might happen if he touched a 6kW AM transmitter's antenna.

IMPORTANT: Do not attempt to replicate our experiment. It is meant to demonstrate the dangers of RF, and there are a number of radio engineers, landscaping professionals, and other personnel who have written RF safety rules with their blood (or, in most cases, a permanent and painful RF burn that goes through the inside of their body). Don't touch radio towers—AM or otherwise.

[...] You really should watch the video for the full effect, though. Pictures can't convey what happens.

I predicted the hot dog would either explode, or do pretty much nothing. My Dad imagined there would be some arcing.

Well, he was right—the hot dog wound up being a very effective loudspeaker, transmitting the audible sound with pretty high fidelity, at a volume around that of a yelling human, maybe 80-100 dBa. (Next time we attempt such an experiment, we may bring a dB meter and spectrum analyzer to judge the sound reproduction capabilities of different meats1).

The bottom line is that experts recommend not messing with live towers. The fence is there for a reason.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Sunday March 31, @11:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the cloud-is-just-someone-else-rummaging-through-your-data dept.

The hosting provider Vultr had tried to quietly change its Terms of Service (TOS) to try to pull the same trick which Microsoft has pulled with its GitHub project and hope that no one would notice. That is to say they are trying to grab "perpetual, irrevocable" license to use content hosted there in any way, including modifying it and commercializing it "for purposes of providing the Services to you." They've since backpedaled — but only a little. Most the reaction from Vultr regarding the negative push back has been spin.

I suppose the hip kids would say this is enshittification, but it’s certainly a betrayal.

According to their new Terms of Service:

You hereby grant to Vultr a non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, fully paid-up, worldwide license (including the right to sublicense through multiple tiers) to use, reproduce, process, adapt, publicly perform, publicly display, modify, prepare derivative works, publish, transmit and distribute each of your User Content, or any portion thereof, in any form, medium or distribution method now known or hereafter existing, known or developed, and otherwise use and commercialize the User Content in any way that Vultr deems appropriate, without any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you or to any third parties, for purposes of providing the Services to you.

This is unacceptable. No other hosting company does this.

Vultr Just Betrayed Us, Michael W Lucas' blog.


This is very similar to changes that Github made to their TOS in 2017. Since then, Github has been rebranded as "The world's leading AI-powered developer platform". The language in their TOS now clearly lets them use content stored in Github for training AI. (Probably this is their second line of defense if the current attempt to legitimise copyright laundering via generative AI fails.)

Vultr is currently in damage control mode, accusing their concerned customers of spreading "conspiracy theories" (-- founder David Aninowsky) and updating the TOS to remove some of the problem language. Although it still allows them to "make derivative works", so could still allow their AI division to scrape VPS images for training data.

the vulture in the coal mine, Joey Hess' blog.

Hosting providers seem to be adding a new disaster to deal with.

(2022) Give Up GitHub: The Time Has Come!

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Sunday March 31, @07:03AM   Printer-friendly
from the when-Radio-Shack-was-useful dept.

It is a Medium post, so here's an archive link in case the original goes missing:

In this day and age with the bewildering availability of electronics readily available, deciding on a project to embark on can be paralyzing. This sentiment was best summed up recently in this Hacker News comment on an article announcing the CHIP Pro:

I have the chip, esp8266, rpi, teensies, trinkets, arduinos... I studied electronics principles and built various circuits.. yet I have no idea what I can practically use these devices for in my life. They all sit in a box and I have a hard time justifying buying more of them.

See also: the paradox of choice, analysis paralysis, etc. Decades ago, all-in-one electronic project kits were popular. Shown above is the Science Fair 160-in-1 Electronic Project Kit, #28–258 (image source: eBay), © 1982.

With a modest number of components, 160 projects could easily be built by inserting wires into the spring terminals connected to each component. An included manual guided you through each of the projects, introducing new concepts and providing structure, while still offering some latitude of freedom to tinker — but, crucially, not the nearly-infinite amount of latitude available on modern electronic marketplaces today. You are constrained by the components in the kit (unless you add your own), and the included project documentation (unless you invent your own), a finite possibility.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Sunday March 31, @02:24AM   Printer-friendly
from the year-of-linux-in-the-pacemaker dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

AIxCC is the two-year competition that DARPA announced last summer at Black Hat which challenges teams to build AI-based tools that automatically secure code used in critical infrastructure.

The new government agency partner is the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), an independent research entity within the US National Institutes of Health.

By joining forces with the Pentagon's research arm, ARPA-H aims to promote the development of AI-based tech that can find and fix critical vulnerabilities in medical devices, biotech, and hospital IT systems, thus preventing destructive cyberattacks against life-saving equipment and facilities.

"Healthcare is both acutely being targeted, and it's been more and more targeted over the last few years," ARPA-H program manager Andrew Carney told The Register. "It's also uniquely sensitive to disruptions compared to many other critical infrastructure sectors."

[...] Most of America witnessed this first hand over the past month as a ransomware infection shuttered Change Healthcare's IT systems in February, knocking many pharmacies offline and preventing patients from receiving medication and other care.

"While the repercussions of this incident have been primarily – though not wholly – financial, what keeps me up at night is the possibility of a similar widespread attack directly affecting patient care and safety," US Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) said earlier this month. 

[...] This is where DARPA, partnering with APRA-H, comes into play to boost AI-enabled technology to secure healthcare systems — and sweeten the monetary rewards.

Competing teams receive challenges based on real-world software used in critical infrastructure systems. Bringing on APRA-H as a partner will help ensure the competition addresses critical flaws in healthcare. Plus, the research agency has committed an additional $20 million in rewards for the contest.

[...] While Carney can't give away too much about what the contests will involve, one that's already been announced is the Linux kernel challenge project [PDF]. "We know that the Linux operating system powers a lot of the devices and systems in many – if not all – of our critical infrastructure sectors," he said. 

This example challenge reintroduces a real-life vulnerability, CVE-2021-43267, in the Linux kernel's Transparent Inter Process Communication (TIPC) subsystem, which allows communication across clusters on a network. The challenge vulnerability is a heap-based buffer overflow flaw.

"And successes that we have against that challenge are implicitly very representative of the software that we would need to secure in these sectors at large," Carney said.

"And then specific to healthcare, if we start looking at medical devices, 60 percent of all medical devices run some flavor of Linux operating system," he added. "So once again, as competitors find and fix vulnerabilities in that example challenge, that translates into real-world safety, and better defended, safer systems."

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Saturday March 30, @09:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the if-I-only-had-a-brain dept.

Ancient brains archive created as Oxford boffins challenge historic theory:

Oxford University researchers have created a new archive of ancient human brains.

The record of ancient brains highlights the different environments they can be saved in, ranging from the frozen Arctic to deserts.

The collection of shrunken, discoloured samples was found preserved in all manner of people including Egyptian and Korean royalty as well as explorers and victims of war.

It gives researchers the chance to analyse the early evolution of humans.

Many of the brains were up to 12,000 years old and found in records dating back to the mid-17th century.

The ancient human brains were found across a range of different sites, including the shores of a lakebed in Stone Age Sweden and the depths of an Iranian salt mine around 500 BC.

Experts say preservation of soft tissue such as brains is relatively rare in the geological record.

[...] The findings, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, bring together the records of more than 4,000 preserved human brains from some two hundred sources, across six continents.

The analyses revealed patterns in the environmental conditions associated with different modes of preservation through time.

More than 1,300 of the human brains were the only soft tissues preserved, prompting questions as to why the brain may persist when other organs perish.

These brains also represent the oldest in the archive with several dating to the last Ice Age.

Alexandra Morton-Hayward, lead author of the study, said: "In the forensic field, it's well known that the brain is one of the first organs to decompose after death yet this huge archive clearly demonstrates that there are certain circumstances in which it survives.

"Whether those circumstances are environmental, or related to the brain's unique biochemistry, is the focus of our ongoing and future work.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday March 30, @04:53PM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

According to YouTube channel Bellular Warcraft, World of Warcraft currently has around 7.25 million subscribers. While the game appears to have recovered from the disaster following the Warlords of Draenor expansion almost 10 years ago, it remains far from its peak of 12 million in 2010 during Wrath of the Lich King.

Subscriptions had been declining steadily since Cataclysm in late 2010, when Draenor managed to boost them up to 10 million. Unfortunately, the spike was short-lived, and Blizzard soon confirmed that WoW had plummeted to 5.5 million subscribers – the last hard number the company ever released.

However, sources recently provided Bellular Warcraft with slides from the company's GDC 2024 postmortem, which included a graph showing WoW subscription growth since 2016. The only exact numbers on the chart are the years displayed on the X-axis, but comments from Blizzard over the years gave Bellular Warcraft just enough context to estimate the real figures.

An earnings report from the first quarter of 2017 mentioned that the 2016 expansion, Legion, slightly surpassed its immediate predecessor, Draenor. From there, Bellular Warcraft estimated that the game had around 5.8 million subscribers at that time. They arrived at the current number of 7.25 million by counting the chart's pixels upward from early 2017.

[...] After War for Azeroth sank subscriptions to approximately 4.07 million, Classic bounced them back to 8.27 million. Then, the ensuing pandemic likely helped sustain subscriber counts at a higher average compared to the earlier trend of peaks and troughs. However, the critically panned Shadowlands, which Blizzard's panel admitted was badly executed, led to a collapse to 4.5 million in 2022. Subscriptions then recovered somewhat leading to Dragonflight later that year, which missed Blizzard's projections.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday March 30, @12:07PM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

EU leaders have gathered today (22 March) to sign what they are calling a Quantum Pact that recognises the importance of advancing quantum computing technologies to enhance the bloc’s scientific and industrial competitiveness.

Quantum computing has been rapidly advancing with major breakthroughs taking place around the world. The emerging technology has potential to transform a range of sectors, including medicine, energy, communications, cybersecurity, space, defence, as well as climate and weather modelling.

“It will enable huge productivity gains, revitalise industry and open up new markets, applications and job opportunities,” said Thomas Skordas, deputy director-general responsible for communications networks, content and technology in the European Commission.

Skordas was filling in for EU commissioner Thierry Breton at the Shaping Europe’s Quantum Future conference held in Brussels, Belgium today. He describes the Quantum Pact as the EU’s attempt to make Europe the “Quantum Valley” of the world.

“Only by building on our strengths, by working together, by being ambitious, by targeting the whole spectrum of activities – research, industry, infrastructures, talent, external partnerships and more – can we transform Europe into the leading region globally for quantum excellence and innovation. Quantum will help us to challenge the boundaries of what is possible.”

[...] A declaration was first signed in December, setting the stage for cooperation, investment and innovation in quantum computing technologies in the EU and positioning it as a global leader in the space.

The pact today has been signed by 20 European countries: Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. Ireland has not signed the pact.

Last month, the EU and Canada announced intentions to boost their strategic digital partnership to address “new challenges in digital transformation” such as in the areas of AI, quantum science, semiconductors, public policy related to online platforms, secure international connectivity, cybersecurity and digital identity.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Saturday March 30, @07:23AM   Printer-friendly

xz-utils are compromised and inject malicious code

= Debian:

Debian Security Advisory DSA-5649-1
[SECURITY] [DSA 5649-1] xz-utils security update

Package : xz-utils
CVE ID : CVE-2024-3094

Andres Freund discovered that the upstream source tarballs for xz-utils,
the XZ-format compression utilities, are compromised and inject
malicious code, at build time, into the resulting liblzma5 library.

Right now no Debian stable versions are known to be affected.
Compromised packages were part of the Debian testing, unstable and
experimental distributions, with versions ranging from 5.5.1alpha-0.1
(uploaded on 2024-02-01), up to and including 5.6.1-1. The package has
been reverted to use the upstream 5.4.5 code, which we have versioned

Users running Debian testing and unstable are urged to update the
xz-utils packages.

For the detailed security status of xz-utils please refer to
its security tracker page at:

Further information about Debian Security Advisories, how to apply
these updates to your system and frequently asked questions can be
found at:

Mailing list:

= Red Hat:

"What distributions are affected by this malicious code?

Current investigation indicates that the packages are only present in Fedora 41 and Fedora Rawhide within the Red Hat community ecosystem.

No versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) are affected.

We have reports and evidence of the injections successfully building in xz 5.6.x versions built for Debian unstable (Sid). Other distributions may also be affected. Users of other distributions should consult with their distributors for guidance."

= OpenWall: (With more details at openwall link above)

"After observing a few odd symptoms around liblzma (part of the xz package) on
Debian sid installations over the last weeks (logins with ssh taking a lot of
CPU, valgrind errors) I figured out the answer:

The upstream xz repository and the xz tarballs have been backdoored.

At first I thought this was a compromise of debian's package, but it turns out
to be upstream."

Original Submission