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Report: U.S. Anti-Trust Regulators Will Accuse Google of Crushing Competition to Maintain Monopoly

2 hours 18 min ago
The U.S. government has readied an antitrust lawsuit against Google's search engine, accusing the company of "crushing competition to protect and extend monopoly," according to news reports: The move comes after a 14-month long investigation, where the U.S. Department of Justice probed whether Google distorts search results to favour its own products and shuts off access to competitors, sources told Bloomberg. This is significant as Google enjoys a major 90 percent control of the U.S. online search segment and generates an enviable $100 billion revenue. Rivals have long complained of abuse of power to "snuff out the competition".... Sources told Bloomberg action is expected within the next week or two, after the State attorneys general and Justice Department lawyers complete final preparations for the case this week in Washington. Officials met with Google reps the previous week to discuss accusations of search bias against competitors and providing of Google and other partners as default to users... "It's impossible for small search engine competitors to compete with Google's deep pockets and outbid it for valuable placements like Apple's browser," Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, said in his complaint to the Department of Justice. In a recent statement, a spokesperson for DuckDuckGo said the company is pleased that the DoJ "is going to finally address the elephant in the room: Google's obvious, overwhelming, and anti-competitive dominance in search," adding that "a world without search defaults" would benefit consumers. Google's search engine "decides the fates of thousands of businesses online," notes Bloomberg, "and has funded Google's expansion into email, online video, smartphone software, maps, cloud computing, autonomous vehicles and other forms of digital ads."

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Researchers Finally Create Metal Wires Made from Carbon

3 hours 24 min ago
University of California at Berkeley has made a big announcement: Transistors based on carbon rather than silicon could potentially boost computers' speed and cut their power consumption more than a thousandfold — think of a mobile phone that holds its charge for months — but the set of tools needed to build working carbon circuits has remained incomplete until now. A team of chemists and physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, has finally created the last tool in the toolbox, a metallic wire made entirely of carbon, setting the stage for a ramp-up in research to build carbon-based transistors and, ultimately, computers. "Staying within the same material, within the realm of carbon-based materials, is what brings this technology together now," said Felix Fischer, UC Berkeley professor of chemistry, noting that the ability to make all circuit elements from the same material makes fabrication easier. "That has been one of the key things that has been missing in the big picture of an all-carbon-based integrated circuit architecture." Heat was used to induce the molecules to join together, in a process Fischer compares to an atomic-scale set of Legos. "They are all precisely engineered so that there is only one way they can fit together. It's as if you take a bag of Legos, and you shake it, and out comes a fully assembled car. That is the magic of controlling the self-assembly with chemistry..." "I believe this technology will revolutionize how we build integrated circuits in the future..." Fischer said.

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Teenager on TiKTok Resurrects an Essential Question: What is Math?

4 hours 24 min ago
Long-time Slashdot reader fahrbot-bot shares a story that all started with a high school student's innocuous question on TikTok, leading academic mathematicians and philosophers to weigh in on "a very ancient and unresolved debate in the philosophy of science," reports Smithsonian magazine. "What, exactly, is math?" Is it invented, or discovered? And are the things that mathematicians work with — numbers, algebraic equations, geometry, theorems and so on — real? Some scholars feel very strongly that mathematical truths are "out there," waiting to be discovered — a position known as Platonism.... Many mathematicians seem to support this view. The things they've discovered over the centuries — that there is no highest prime number; that the square root of two is an irrational number; that the number pi, when expressed as a decimal, goes on forever — seem to be eternal truths, independent of the minds that found them.... Other scholars — especially those working in other branches of science — view Platonism with skepticism. Scientists tend to be empiricists; they imagine the universe to be made up of things we can touch and taste and so on; things we can learn about through observation and experiment. The idea of something existing "outside of space and time" makes empiricists nervous: It sounds embarrassingly like the way religious believers talk about God, and God was banished from respectable scientific discourse a long time ago. Platonism, as mathematician Brian Davies has put it, "has more in common with mystical religions than it does with modern science." The fear is that if mathematicians give Plato an inch, he'll take a mile. If the truth of mathematical statements can be confirmed just by thinking about them, then why not ethical problems, or even religious questions? Why bother with empiricism at all...? Platonism has various alternatives. One popular view is that mathematics is merely a set of rules, built up from a set of initial assumptions — what mathematicians call axioms... But this view has its own problems. If mathematics is just something we dream up from within our own heads, why should it "fit" so well with what we observe in nature...? Theoretical physicist Eugene Wigner highlighted this issue in a famous 1960 essay titled, "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences." Wigner concluded that the usefulness of mathematics in tackling problems in physics "is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve."

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Amazon's Data-Request Portal for Police is Visible on the Web

5 hours 25 min ago
"Anyone can access portions of a web portal used by law enforcement to request customer data from Amazon," reports TechCrunch, "even though the portal is supposed to require a verified email address and password..." Only time sensitive emergency requests can be submitted without an account, but this requires the user to "declare and acknowledge" that they are an authorized law enforcement officer before they can submit a request. The portal does not display customer data or allow access to existing law enforcement requests. But parts of the website still load without needing to log in, including its dashboard and the "standard" request form used by law enforcement to request customer data... Assuming this was a bug, we sent Amazon several emails prior to publication but did not hear back... Motherboard reported a similar issue earlier this month that allowed anyone with an email address to access law enforcement portals set up by Facebook and WhatsApp.

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Eric S. Raymond: Is Microsoft Switching To a Linux Kernel That Emulates Windows?

6 hours 26 min ago
Most of Microsoft's money now comes from its cloud service Azure, points out open-source advocate Eric S. Raymond. Now he posits a future where Windows development will "inevitably" become a drag on Microsoft's business: So, you're a Microsoft corporate strategist. What's the profit-maximizing path forward given all these factors? It's this: Microsoft Windows becomes a Proton-like emulation layer over a Linux kernel, with the layer getting thinner over time as more of the support lands in the mainline kernel sources. The economic motive is that Microsoft sheds an ever-larger fraction of its development costs as less and less has to be done in-house. If you think this is fantasy, think again. The best evidence that it's already the plan is that Microsoft has already ported Edge to run under Linux. There is only one way that makes any sense, and that is as a trial run for freeing the rest of the Windows utility suite from depending on any emulation layer. So, the end state this all points at is: New Windows is mostly a Linux kernel, there's an old-Windows emulation over it, but Edge and the rest of the Windows user-land utilities don't use the emulation. The emulation layer is there for games and other legacy third-party software. Economic pressure will be on Microsoft to deprecate the emulation layer... Every increment of Windows/Linux convergence helps with that — reduces administration and the expected volume of support traffic. Eventually, Microsoft announces upcoming end-of-life on the Windows emulation. The OS itself , and its userland tools, has for some time already been Linux underneath a carefully preserved old-Windows UI. Third-party software providers stop shipping Windows binaries in favor of ELF binaries with a pure Linux API... ...and Linux finally wins the desktop wars, not by displacing Windows but by co-opting it. Perhaps this is always how it had to be.

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Singapore Becomes First Country To Use Facial Verification For a National ID Service

7 hours 25 min ago
"Singapore will be the first country in the world to use facial verification in its national identity scheme," reports the BBC: The biometric check will give Singaporeans secure access to both private and government services. The government's technology agency says it will be "fundamental" to the country's digital economy. It has been trialled with a bank and is now being rolled out nationwide. It not only identifies a person but ensures they are genuinely present. "You have to make sure that the person is genuinely present when they authenticate, that you're not looking at a photograph or a video or a replayed recording or a deepfake," said Andrew Bud, founder and chief executive of iProov, the UK company that is providing the technology... "Face recognition has all sorts of social implications. Face verification is extremely benign," said Mr Bud. Privacy advocates, however, contend that consent is a low threshold when dealing with sensitive biometric data. "Consent does not work when there is an imbalance of power between controllers and data subjects, such as the one observed in citizen-state relationships," said Ioannis Kouvakas, legal officer with London-based Privacy International.... GovTech Singapore thinks the technology will be good for businesses, because they can use it without having to build the infrastructure themselves. Additionally, Kwok Quek Sin, senior director of national digital identity at GovTech Singapore, said it is better for privacy because companies won't need to collect any biometric data. In fact, they would only see a score indicating how close the scan is to the image the government has on file. In 1993 William Gibson called Singapore "Disneyland with the death penalty... a relentlessly G-rated experience, micromanaged by a state that has the look and feel of a very large corporation. If IBM had ever bothered to actually possess a physical country, that country might have had a lot in common with Singapore."

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America's IRS Wants Cryptocurrency Exchanges Declared on Tax Forms

8 hours 25 min ago
America's dreaded tax-collecting agency is sending "a strong warning to millions of crypto holders who aren't complying with the law that they must file required forms," reports the Wall Street Journal. The front page of this year's tax forms — just below "Name" and "Address" — will ask filers to declare whether they've received or exchanged any virtual currencies. The Journal calls it "setting a trap for cryptocurrency tax cheats." "This placement is unprecedented and will make it easier for the IRS to win cases against taxpayers who check 'No' when they should check 'Yes, '" says Ed Zollars, a CPA with Kaplan Financial Education who updates tax professionals on legal developments... The change to the crypto question and other recent actions show the IRS is taking cryptocurrencies seriously as a threat to the tax system, whether the noncompliance is by enthusiasts who owe little or by sophisticated international criminals. In two recent nontax criminal cases — one involving theft by North Korea and the other involving the sale of child pornography by a Dutch national — the IRS has provided key assistance because of its growing expertise in cryptocurrencies.... For their part, many crypto users are angry with the IRS's guidance, which treats bitcoin, ether and their kin as property rather than currency. So if a crypto holder uses it to buy something or exchanges one cryptocurrency for another, there's usually a capital gain or loss to report on the tax return. "Buying a sandwich with cryptocurrency shouldn't be a taxable event," says Sean Cover, a New York City cryptocurrency holder who works in finance for a nonprofit group. He says that in 2017 he had more than 500 transactions on several platforms, and it took him 10 hours to prepare his crypto tax forms even though he paid for special software. Like some members of Congress, Mr. Cover supports a $200 threshold before crypto transactions would need to be reported. The IRS says it's up to Congress to change the law.... Meanwhile, the IRS is forging ahead with other crypto compliance measures. Earlier this month, it offered rewards up to $625,000 to code-breakers who can crack so-called privacy coins like Monero that attract illicit activity because they claim to be untraceable... The IRS is also sending a new round of letters to crypto holders who may not have complied with the tax rules, expanding on last year's mailing of about 10,000 letters. Tax specialists say the recipients are often customers of Coinbase, which was ordered by a federal court to turn over information on some accounts to the IRS.

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Elon Musk, Others, Criticize Microsoft's Exclusive License for OpenAI's GPT-3

9 hours 25 min ago
"It looks like Elon Musk is increasingly unhappy with OpenAI, the AI research firm he helped found five years ago," reports Business Insider: Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it was exclusively licensing GPT-3, a natural language AI-powered tool made by OpenAI. The announcement was met with some dismay on Twitter from users who had thought OpenAI's mission statement was to make technologies like GPT-3 widely available. Elon Musk, who cofounded the company in 2015 as a non-profit AI research body, was among those who criticized the deal. "This does seem like the opposite of open. OpenAI is essentially captured by Microsoft," he said... Exactly how much exclusivity this license gives Microsoft is also unclear. In his blog post, Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott said OpenAI will continue to offer access to GPT-3 via its API. OpenAI reiterated this in its own blog post, saying "the deal has no impact on continued access to the GPT-3 model through OpenAI's API, and existing and future users of it will continue building applications with our API as usual." A Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge the deal gives Microsoft exclusive access to GPT-3's underlying code. GeekWire rounded up reactions from other AI pundits, noting that MIT's Technology Review complained OpenAI was "supposed to benefit humanity," and now "it's simply benefiting one of the richest companies in the world." And Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, said "OpenAI should be renamed ClosedAI — for all intents and purposes they are a for-profit company. But he added that GPT-3 "has remarkable capabilities and will lead to numerous applications and an even more vigorous mine-is-bigger-than-yours model arms race. I can't wait to see how Google and Amazon respond, and don't forget China."

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Thailand Launches Its First Legal Action Against Facebook and Twitter

10 hours 25 min ago
Reuters reports: Thailand launched legal action on Thursday against tech giants Facebook and Twitter for ignoring requests to take down content, in its first such move against major internet firms... "Unless the companies send their representatives to negotiate, police can bring criminal cases against them," the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, Puttipong Punnakanta, told reporters. "But if they do, and acknowledge the wrongdoing, we can settle on fines...." The complaints were against the U.S. parent companies and not their Thai subsidiaries, Puttipong said. Cybercrime police at a news conference said they would need to look at existing laws to determine whether they had jurisdiction to take up cases against firms based outside of Thailand. Emilie Pradichit, executive director of Manushya Foundation, a digital freedom advocate, said the complaints were "a tactic to scare these companies...." Thailand has a tough lese majeste law prohibiting insulting the monarchy and a Computer Crime Act that outlaws information that is false or affects national security has also been used to prosecute criticism of the royal family.

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'Google App Engine' Abused to Create Unlimited Phishing Pages

11 hours 25 min ago
Google's cloud-based service platform for developing and hosting web apps "can be abused to deliver phishing and malware while remaining undetected by leading enterprise security products," reports Bleeping Computer, citing a startling discovery by security researcher Marcel Afrahim: A Google App Engine subdomain does not only represent an app, it represents an app's version, the service name, project ID, and region ID fields. But the most important point to note here is, if any of those fields are incorrect, Google App Engine won't show a 404 Not Found page, but instead show the app's "default" page (a concept referred to as soft routing)... Essentially, this means there are a lot of permutations of subdomains to get to the attacker's malicious app. As long as every subdomain has a valid "project_ID" field, invalid variations of other fields can be used at the attacker's discretion to generate a long list of subdomains, which all lead to the same app... The fact that a single malicious app is now represented by multiple permutations of its subdomains makes it hard for sysadmins and security professionals to block malicious activity. But further, to a technologically unsavvy user, all of these subdomains would appear to be a "secure site." After all, the appspot.com domain and all its subdomains come with the seal of "Google Trust Services" in their SSL certificates. Even further, most enterprise security solutions such as Symantec WebPulse web filter automatically allow traffic to trusted category sites. And Google's appspot.com domain, due to its reputation and legitimate corporate use cases, earns an "Office/Business Applications" tag, skipping the scrutiny of web proxies.

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'Why Modeling the Spread of COVID-19 Is So Damn Hard'

12 hours 25 min ago
Slashdot reader the_newsbeagle writes: At the beginning of the pandemic, modelers pulled out everything they had to predict the spread of the virus. This article explains the three main types of models used: 1) compartmental models that sort people into categories of exposure and recovery, 2) data-driven models that often use neural networks to make predictions, and 3) agent-based models that are something like a Sim Pandemic. "Researchers say they've learned a lot of lessons modeling this pandemic, lessons that will carry over to the next..." the article points out: Finally, researchers emphasize the need for agility. Jarad Niemi, an associate professor of statistics at Iowa State University who helps run the forecast hub used by the CDC, says software packages have made it easier to build models quickly, and the code-sharing site GitHub lets people share and compare their models. COVID-19 is giving modelers a chance to try out all their newest tools, says biologist Lauren Ancel Meyers, the head of the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin. "The pace of innovation, the pace of development, is unlike ever before," she says. "There are new statistical methods, new kinds of data, new model structures." "If we want to beat this virus," says Mikhail Prokopenko, a computer scientist at the University of Sydney, "we have to be as adaptive as it is."

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Silicon Valley Tech Workers Angered By Proposal to Make Some Mandatory Telecommuting Permanent

15 hours 25 min ago
"The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a regional government agency in the San Francisco Bay Area, voted Wednesday to move forward with a proposal to require people at large, office-based companies to work from home three days a week as a way to slash greenhouse gas emissions from car commutes," reports NBC News: It's a radical suggestion that likely would have been a non-starter before Covid-19 shuttered many offices in March, but now that corporate employees have gotten a taste of not commuting, transportation planners think the idea has wider appeal. "There is an opportunity to do things that could not have been done in the past," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, a member of the transportation commission who supports the proposal. She said she felt "very strongly" that a telecommuting mandate ought to be a part of the region's future... Some of the nation's largest companies are headquartered in the Bay Area, including not only tech giants Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel and Netflix, but Chevron, Levi Strauss and Wells Fargo... The idea of a mandate was a surprise to residents, many of whom first learned of the idea this week from social media and then flooded an online meeting of the transportation agency Wednesday to try, unsuccessfully, to talk commissioners out of the idea. "We do not want to continue this as a lifestyle," Steven Buss, a Google software engineer who lives in San Francisco, told the commission. "We are all sacrificing now to reduce the spread of the virus, but no one is enjoying working from home," he said. "It's probably fine if you own a big house out in the suburbs and you're nearing retirement, but for young workers like me who live in crowded conditions, working from home is terrible." Many callers pointed out that the situation exacerbates inequality because only some types of work can be done from home. Others worried about the ripple effects on lunch spots, transit agencies and other businesses and organizations that rely on revenue from office workers. Still other residents said that if car emissions are the problem, the commission should focus on cars, not all commutes... Dustin Moskovitz, a cofounder of Facebook who usually keeps a low public profile, mocked the idea as an indictment of the Bay Area's general failure to plan for growth. "We tried nothing, and we're all out of ideas," Moskovitz, now CEO of software company Asana, tweeted Tuesday. The mandate would apply to "large, office-based employers" and require them to have at least 60 percent of their employees telecommute on any given workday. They could meet the requirement through flexible schedules, compressed work weeks or other alternatives.

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The US Space Force Will Use Blockchain-Based Data Protection - and SpaceX's Reusable Rockets

18 hours 25 min ago
"The service branch protecting U.S. interests outside the stratosphere may use blockchain to render its computer systems, on earth and in space, unhackable," reports CoinDesk: Last week, Xage Security won a contract from the United States Space Force to develop and roll out a blockchain-based data protection system across its networks. Called the Xage Security Fabric, the blockchain verifies data and protects the network from third party intervention, so confidential data sent from satellites to earth isn't intercepted en-route. It also ensures security remains consistent across the entire United States Space Force network, preventing hackers and other malicious entities from identifying and exploiting any weak spots. And UPI reports: The U.S. Space Force will start to fly missions on reused SpaceX rockets next year to save millions of dollars, the service announced Friday. The Space Force will fly two GPS satellites into orbit on a Falcon 9 first-stage booster. The lower cost that SpaceX charges for reused rockets will save taxpayers $52.7 million, a statement from the military branch said... Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's president and chief operating officer, said in a news release that the company was pleased the Space Force saw "the benefits of the technology."

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Researcher Discusses Whether Time Travel Could Prevent a Pandemic

21 hours 25 min ago
University of Queensland student Germain Tobar who worked with UQ physics professor Fabio Costa on a new peer-reviewed paper "says he has mathematically proven the physical feasibility of a specific kind of time travel" without paradoxes, reports Popular Mechanics: Time travel discussion focuses on closed time-like curves, something Albert Einstein first posited. And Tobar and Costa say that as long as just two pieces of an entire scenario within a closed time-like curve are still in "causal order" when you leave, the rest is subject to local free will... In a university statement, Costa illustrates the science with an analogy "Say you travelled in time, in an attempt to stop COVID-19's patient zero from being exposed to the virus. However if you stopped that individual from becoming infected, that would eliminate the motivation for you to go back and stop the pandemic in the first place. This is a paradox, an inconsistency that often leads people to think that time travel cannot occur in our universe. [L]ogically it's hard to accept because that would affect our freedom to make any arbitrary action. It would mean you can time travel, but you cannot do anything that would cause a paradox to occur...." But the real truth, in terms of the mathematical outcomes, is more like another classic parable: the monkey's paw. Be careful what you wish for, and be careful what you time travel for. Tobar explains in the statement: "In the coronavirus patient zero example, you might try and stop patient zero from becoming infected, but in doing so you would catch the virus and become patient zero, or someone else would. No matter what you did, the salient events would just recalibrate around you. Try as you might to create a paradox, the events will always adjust themselves, to avoid any inconsistency."

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The World's Largest Concentrations of Java Programmers are in Asia and Germany

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 20:34
"To celebrate Java's 25th anniversary this year and the latest release of Java 15, JetBrains has compiled data from multiple sources to look at what the current state of the language," reports SD Times: The largest concentration of Java developers is in Asia, where 2.5 million developers use it as their primary language. JetBrains believes this may be due to the fact that it is common to hire offshore developers in countries like China and India to build Android apps. "We might have expected the USA to have a high percentage of Java users, but it also makes a lot of sense that they don't. There is a big technology stack to choose from and often a lot of the tech companies are at the forefront of that stack, so it could be that developers there don't need the power or stability of Java and are using languages that allow them to build and test quickly," JetBrains wrote in a post. The post on JetBrains notes that the six countries with the highest percentage of developers using Java as their primary language are: China, South Korea, India, Germany, Spain, and Brazil: The reasons Java is most likely so popular in the first 6 countries include the free use of Java, governmental support, and open-source... Germany is also very high which could be attributed to Java being the most popular language in Germany for software engineers as it is used to build highly scalable applications for a multitude of industries. Most enterprise services rely on Java to power the applications that enable the day-to-day running of businesses, such as payroll, inventory management, reporting, and so on. Germany also has a big financial sector that uses Java heavily for their homegrown tech, such as trading bots, retail banking systems, and other applications that the finance industry requires in order to remain competitive... According to the State of the Developer Ecosystem Survey 2020, more than a third of professional developers use Java as a primary language and Java remains the second primary language among professional developers after JavaScript. Expert analysis: It is not surprising to see JavaScript and Java taking the leading positions as they are kind of paired together; developers who work with Java often write their frontend and any quick scripts in JavaScript. Python is probably third place due to the spread of machine learning. In general, we expect the web to be a big part of the developer ecosystem and so JavaScript, HTML and CSS, and PHP will always have solid standing. SQL is also always going to be around as there isn't much that doesn't require databases in some capacity. C++ is also kind of a solid language in that it is used for a lot of embedded applications, so it won't be disappearing off the charts any time soon. C# though seems to be losing ground, and I guess if Java is high then C# will be low, as they are both very similar in terms of capabilities. As to why I think Java is so high in the sphere of professional development — it's similar to what was mentioned about Germany. Most enterprise business services rely on Java to make them tick along. It's not just the IT sector either — almost every company, be it in distribution, manufacturing, or banking, has IT services as part of their infrastructure, and these services, such as payroll or inventory management, are generally built with Java in the backend. So Java is used a lot by professional developers who work for these companies.

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NASA Launches New $23 Million Toilet to International Space Station

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 18:54
First, PetaPixel reminds us that Estee Lauder's products will be launching into space this week: The cosmetics giant Estee Lauder is paying NASA $128,000 for a product photography shoot onboard the International Space Station. Bloomberg reports that the company will be paying the space agency to fly 10 bottles of its Advanced Night Repair skin serum to the orbiting space station on a cargo run that will launch from Virginia on Tuesday and dock on Saturday. Once the product is on board, astronauts will be tasked with shooting product photos of the serum floating in the cupola module, which has sweeping panoramic views of Earth and space. NASA charges a "professional fee" of $17,500 per hour for the astronauts' time. In a possibly-related story, the same flight will also be carrying a new $23 million space toilet to the station as part of a routine resupply mission "to test it out before it's used on future missions to the moon or Mars."

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Microsoft Updates Edge With New Features To Challenge Chrome

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 17:53
Forbes looks at new features Microsoft added to Edge "as it looks to beat Chrome in the browser wars." It's now going to be possible to search for work files directly inside the Edge browser directly from the address bar. To use this you need Microsoft Search configured, then type "work" and press the Tab key to search your company's network for your work files. Another work-related Microsoft Edge update is also about to launch to let IT admins manage specific work related apps on user devices as well as the browsing users do from their Work Profile in Edge. Integration with other Microsoft products is a key factor as the IT giant looks to entice more business users to use the updated Edge browser. Edge now supports native policies for Microsoft Endpoint Data Loss Prevention, which are used to find and protect sensitive items across Microsoft 365 services, Microsoft said in a blog highlighting the firm's security credentials. Another soon to launch feature of note highlighted by Bleeping Computer is Sleeping Tabs, which Microsoft says can improve memory usage by up to 26%. It can also reduce CPU usage by 29% potentially resulting in battery savings... The browser is also adding security features such as alerts for the Edge password monitor if a compromised password is detected.

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Tesla's Elon Musk Promises Full Self-Driving Autopilot Beta In 'A Month Or So'

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 16:40
"I think we'll hopefully release a private beta of Autopilot — the full self-driving version of autopilot — in, I think a month or so?" CEO Elon Musk said this week at Tesla's annual shareholder meeting/Battery Day event. "And then people will really understand the magnitude of the change," said Musk adding, "It's profound. You'll see what it's like, it's amazing." CNET reports that attendees then showed their approval "by honking the horns of their safety bubbles." "It's kind of hard for people to judge the progress of Autopilot," Musk told a crowd of shareholders present at the event, each social distancing in their own Tesla Model 3, drive-in style. "I'm driving a bleeding edge, alpha build of Autopilot, so I sort of have insight into what is going on." Musk went on to explain how Tesla's engineers recently had to overhaul major parts of the Autopilot, including a rethinking of how the system sees the world. "We had to do a fundamental rewrite of the entire Autopilot software stack... We're now labeling 3D video, which is hugely different from when we were previously labeling single 2D images," Musk explained, referring to the way the Autopilot software understands what the objects it sees with its eight cameras are, and how it should react to them. "We're now labeling entire video segments, taking all cameras simultaneously and labeling that. The sophistication of the neural net of the car and the overall logic of the car is improved dramatically."

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Python Developer Builds a Raspberry Pi That Alerts Drone Pilots

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 15:34
"A Raspberry Pi, a USB SDR dongle, an LCD a buzzer and a little bit of coding in Python and C has created a very useful alarm for drone and RC model aircraft operators," explains long-time Slashdot reader NewtonsLaw . The device allows users to set an "alarm" perimeter around their operating area and automatically alert them whenever a manned aircraft with ADSB fitted intrudes into that area. While there are apps like FlightRadar24 that allow you to monitor ADSB-equipped air traffic, this is the first stand-alone hand-held unit that isn't reliant on cellular or Wifi data and which not just monitors aircraft movments but also sounds an alarm according to user-defined parameters. sUAS News reports: "As an avid proponent of safety within the drone and RC communities, I decided to put my background in electronics engineering and computer software to good use by developing a device that has the potential to ensure the skies remain safe," said Kiwi drone and RC model enthusiast Bruce Simpson. "The alarm I've developed is not a silver bullet but it is an extremely valuable tool for improving safety... I will be publishing some DIY videos showing people how they can build their own from readily available parts. This will ensure it remains cheap enough to be used by everyone..." Drone users now call on the manned aviation community to ensure that they play their part by equipping their aircraft with the ADSB technology that has become such an important part of safety in the 21 st century.

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Firefox 81 Released, Can Now Be Your Default Browser in iOS

Sat, 09/26/2020 - 15:04
Engadget reports: One big benefit of iOS 14 is that you can set non-Apple-made apps as your default, including for email and web browsing. Hot on the heels of you being able to set Chrome and Gmail as your clients of choice, Firefox is enabling you to make its browser the default on iPhones and iPads. Naturally, you'll need to have both the latest version of the operating system and the apps, and then just make the switch inside settings. Meanwhile, Bleeping Computer profiles some of the new features in this week's release of Firefox 81, including: The ability to control videos via your headset and keyboard even if you're not using Firefox at the time A new credit card autofill feature for Firefox users in the U.S. and Canada A new theme called AlpenGlow Firefox can now be set as the default system PDF viewer

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