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Colonial Pipeline Sued by Customers Affected by Its Ransomware Incident

Slashdot - 1 hour 11 min ago
The owner of the EZ Mart gas station is suing Colonial Pipeline, accusing it of lax security, reports the Washington Post: He and his lawyers are hoping to also represent the hundreds of other small gas stations that were hurt by the hack. It's just one of several class-action lawsuits that are popping up in the wake of high-profile ransomware attacks. Another lawsuit filed against Colonial in Georgia in May seeks to get damages for regular consumers who had to pay higher gas prices. A third is in the works, with law firm Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP seeking to mount a similar effort. Colonial isn't the only company that's been targeted. Another suit was launched in June against the San Diego based hospital system Scripps Health after it was hit by a ransomware attack... In the case of Colonial Pipeline, hundreds of gas stations were shut down, leading to huge lines of cars waiting for what little fuel remained. The rise in suits may mean companies and organizations that are hacked are no longer just on the hook for reimbursing people who had their data stolen. They could now be liable for all kinds of damages that go well beyond a heightened risk of identity theft or credit card fraud... The potential for lawsuits will keep growing as ransomware attacks do. And if lawyers can reasonably show that a company made some kind of mistake in protecting its system, victims will have an avenue to sue.

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SANS Institute Hopes to Find New Cybersecurity Talent With a Game

Slashdot - 1 hour 11 min ago
storagedude writes: Alan Paller, founder of the cybersecurity training SANS Technology Institute, has launched an initiative aimed at finding and developing cybersecurity talent at the community college and high school level — through a game developed by their CTO James Lyne. A similar game was already the basis of a UK government program that has reached 250,000 students, and Paller hopes the U.S. will adopt a similar model to help ease the chronic shortage of cybersecurity talent. And Paller's own Cyber Talent Institute (or CTI) has already reached 29,000 students, largely through state-level partnerships. But playing the game isn't the same as becoming a career-ready cybersecurity pro. By tapping high schools and community colleges, the group hopes to "discover and train a diverse new generation of 25,000 cyber stars by the year 2025," Paller told eSecurity Planet. "SANS is an organization that finds people who are already in the field and makes them better. What CTI is doing is going down a step in the pipeline, to the students, to find the talent earlier, so that we don't lose them. Because the way the education system works, only a few people seem to go into cybersecurity. We wanted to change that. "You did an article earlier this month about looking in different places for talent, looking for people who are already working. That's the purpose of CTI. To reach out to students. It's to go beyond the pipeline that we automatically come into cybersecurity through math, computer science, and networking and open the funnel much wider. Find people who have not already found technology, but who have three characteristics that seem to make superstars — tenacity, curiosity, and love of learning new things. They don't mind being faced with new problems. They like them. And what the game does is find those people. So CTI is just moving to earlier in the pipeline."

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RNA Breakthrough Creates High-Yield, Drought-Tolerant Rice, Potatoes

Slashdot - 2 hours 11 min ago
"Thanks to a breakthrough in RNA manipulation, crop scientists have developed new potato and rice varieties with higher yields and increased drought tolerance," reports UPI: By inserting a gene responsible for production of a protein called FTO, scientists produced bigger rice and potato plants with more expansive root systems. In experiments, the plants' longer roots improved their drought resistance. Test results — detailed Thursday in the journal Nature Biotechnology — showed the RNA-manipulated plants also improved their rate of photosynthesis, boost yields by as much as 50 percent... In the lab, the manipulated rice plants grew at three times their normal rate. In the field, the rice plants increased their mass by 50 percent. They also sprouted longer roots, increased their photosynthesis rate and produced larger yields. When they repeated the experiments with potato plants, the researchers got similar results, suggesting the new gene manipulation method could be used to bolster a variety of crops. The researchers hope this could help crops survive climate change, and even prevent forests from being cleared for food production, according to the article. And one of the study's co-authors adds "This really provides the possibility of engineering plants to potentially improve the ecosystem as global warming proceeds."

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Virtual Comic-Con Includes Trailers For 'Blade Runner' Series, 'Dune' Movie - and NASA Panels

Slashdot - 5 hours 11 min ago
Comic-Con went virtual again in 2020. (San Diego businesses will miss the chance to profit from the 100,000 visitors the convention usually attracted.) And NPR reports the convention has gotten smaller in other ways: Both Marvel Studios and DC are staying away; as it did last year, DC is again directing its resources towards its own event, DC FanDome, set for mid-October. But fans of shows like Doctor Who, Dexter and Comic-Con stalwart The Walking Dead will have lots to look forward to. Rotten Tomatoes and The Verge have gathered up the trailers that did premier. Some of the highlights: Blade Runner: Black Lotus , an upcoming anime television series set to premiere in late 2021 on Crunchyroll and Adult Swim (co-producing it with Alcon Television Group).The upcoming remake of Dune J.J. Abrams' new four-part Showtime documentary about UFOs.Season 2 of Star Trek: Lower Decks and the new Star Trek: Prodigy, a CGI-animated series about a group of aliens who escape captivity onboard the Enterprise. But interestingly, one of the more visibile presenters was: NASA. Current and former NASA officials made appearances on several different panels, according to Space.com, including one on modern space law, U.N. treaty-making, and how it all stacks up against the portrayal we get in our various future-space franchises. And NASA also touted its virtual simulation platform Ed-Tech, "where students can have access to the same tools that professionals use and in the case of space are given the opportunity to solve real problems related to missions to our Moon, Mars, and beyond... from piloting to terra-forming to creating habitats and spacecraft." There was also a panel of four NASA engineers titled "No Tow Trucks Beyond Mars," on "how we go boldly where thereâ(TM)s no one around to fix it. Hear stories from the trenches of the heartbreaks, close calls, and adventures of real-life landing (and flying!) on Mars and our round-table discussion of what Netflix got right in their movie Stowaway." Sunday's panels will include an astronomer, an astrobiologist, and a geologist/paleontologist discussing "The Science of Star Wars" with the concept designer for Star Wars episodes 7-9, Rogue One, and Solo.

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'Nuclear Power's Reliability is Dropping as Extreme Weather Increases'

Slashdot - 9 hours 11 min ago
A comprehensive new analysis published in Nature "calculates that the frequency of climate-related nuclear plant outages is almost eight times higher than it was in the 1990s," reports Ars Technica. "The analysis also estimates that the global nuclear fleet will lose up to 1.4 percent — about 36 TWh — of its energy production in the next 40 years and up to 2.4 percent, or 61 TWh, by 2081-2100." The author analyzed publicly available databases from the International Atomic Energy Agency to identify all climate-linked shutdowns (partial and complete) of the world's 408 operational reactors. Unplanned outages are generally very well documented, and available data made it possible to calculate trends in the frequency of outages that were linked to environmental causes over the past 30 years. The author also used more detailed data from the last decade (2010-2019) to provide one of the first analyses of which types of climate events have had the most impact on nuclear power. While the paper doesn't directly link the reported events to climate change, the findings do show an overall increase in the number of outages due to a range of climate events. The two main categories of climate disruptions broke down into thermal disruptions (heat, drought, and wildfire) and storms (including hurricanes, typhoons, lightning, and flooding). In the case of heat and drought, the main problem is the lack of cool-enough water — or in the case of drought, enough water at all — to cool the reactor. However, there were also a number of outages due to ecological responses to warmer weather; for example, larger than usual jellyfish populations have blocked the intake pipes on some reactors. Storms and wildfires, on the other hand, caused a range of problems, including structural damage, precautionary preemptive shutdowns, reduced operations, and employee evacuations. In the timeframe of 2010 to 2019, the leading causes of outages were hurricanes and typhoons in most parts of the world, although heat was still the leading factor in Western Europe (France in particular). While these represented the most frequent causes, the analysis also showed that droughts were the source of the longest disruptions and thus the largest power losses. The author calculated that the average frequency of climate-linked outages went from 0.2 outages per year in the 1990s to 1.5 outages in the timeframe of 2010 to 2019. A retrospective analysis further showed that, for every 1 degree C rise in temperature (above the average temperature between 1951 and 1980), the energy output of the global fleet fell about 0.5 percent.

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Does the Open Source Movement Need to Evolve?

Slashdot - 13 hours 11 min ago
A cloud company's CTO argues on CTO that the "hypocrite commits" controversy "is symptomatic, on every side, of related trends that threaten the entire extended open-source ecosystem and its users." That ecosystem has long wrestled with problems of scale, complexity and free and open-source software's (FOSS) increasingly critical importance to every kind of human undertaking. Let's look at that complex of problems: - The biggest open-source projects now present big targets. - Their complexity and pace have grown beyond the scale where traditional "commons" approaches or even more evolved governance models can cope. - They are evolving to commodify each other. For example, it's becoming increasingly hard to state, categorically, whether "Linux" or "Kubernetes" should be treated as the "operating system" for distributed applications. For-profit organizations have taken note of this and have begun reorganizing around "full-stack" portfolios and narratives. - In so doing, some for-profit organizations have begun distorting traditional patterns of FOSS participation. Many experiments are underway. Meanwhile, funding, headcount commitments to FOSS and other metrics seem in decline. - OSS projects and ecosystems are adapting in diverse ways, sometimes making it difficult for for-profit organizations to feel at home or see benefit from participation. Meanwhile, the threat landscape keeps evolving: - Attackers are bigger, smarter, faster and more patient, leading to long games, supply-chain subversion and so on. - Attacks are more financially, economically and politically profitable than ever. - Users are more vulnerable, exposed to more vectors than ever before. - The increasing use of public clouds creates new layers of technical and organizational monocultures that may enable and justify attacks. - Complex commercial off-the-shelf solutions assembled partly or wholly from open-source software create elaborate attack surfaces whose components (and interactions) are accessible and well understood by bad actors. - Software componentization enables new kinds of supply-chain attacks. Meanwhile, all this is happening as organizations seek to shed nonstrategic expertise, shift capital expenditures to operating expenses and evolve to depend on cloud vendors and other entities to do the hard work of security. The net result is that projects of the scale and utter criticality of the Linux kernel aren't prepared to contend with game-changing, hyperscale threat models. Among other things, the article ultimately calls for a reevaluation of project governance/organization and funding "with an eye toward mitigating complete reliance on the human factor, as well as incentivizing for-profit companies to contribute their expertise and other resources." (With whatever culture changes this may require.) It also suggests "simplifying the stack" (and verifying its components), while pushing "appropriate" responsibility for security up to the application layer. Slashdot reader joshuark argues this would be not so much the end of Open Source as "more turning the page to the next chapter in open-source: the issues of contributing, reviewing, and integrating into an open-source code base."

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Amazon Wants Apartment Buildings to Install a 'Key' System that Lets Them Enter the Lobby

Slashdot - 15 hours 11 min ago
"Amazon is tired of ringing doorbells," reports the Associated Press. "The online shopping giant is pushing landlords around the country — sometimes with financial incentives — to give its drivers the ability to unlock apartment-building doors themselves with a mobile device." The service, dubbed Key for Business, is pitched as a way to cut down on stolen packages by making it easy to leave them in lobbies and not outside. Amazon benefits because it enables delivery workers to make their rounds faster. And fewer stolen packages reduce costs and could give Amazon an edge over competitors. Those who have installed the device say it reduces the constant buzzing by delivery people and is a safer alternative to giving out codes to scores of delivery people. But the Amazon program, first announced in 2018, may stir security and privacy concerns as it gains traction. The company said that it does background checks on delivery people and that they can unlock doors only when they have a package in hand to scan. But tenants may not know that Amazon drivers have access to their building's front doors, since Amazon leaves it up to the building to notify them... Amazon didn't respond to questions about potential hacking. The company has already installed the device in thousands of U.S. apartment buildings but declined to give a specific number... Amazon salespeople have been fanning out to cities across the country to knock on doors, make cold calls or approach building managers on the street to urge them to install the device. The company has even partnered with local locksmiths to push it on building managers while they fix locks. Amazon installs the device for free and sometimes throws in a $100 Amazon gift card to whoever lets them in.

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Church Official Exposed Through America's 'Vast and Largely Unregulated Data-Harvesting'

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-07-24 23:34
The New York Times' On Tech newsletter shares a thought-provoking story: This week, a top official in the Roman Catholic Church's American hierarchy resigned after a news site said that it had data from his cellphone that appeared to show the administrator using the L.G.B.T.Q. dating app Grindr and regularly going to gay bars. Journalists had access to data on the movements and digital trails of his mobile phone for parts of three years and were able to retrace where he went. I know that people will have complex feelings about this matter. Some of you may believe that it's acceptable to use any means necessary to determine when a public figure is breaking his promises, including when it's a priest who may have broken his vow of celibacy. To me, though, this isn't about one man. This is about a structural failure that allows real-time data on Americans' movements to exist in the first place and to be used without our knowledge or true consent. This case shows the tangible consequences of practices by America's vast and largely unregulated data-harvesting industries. The reality in the United States is that there are few legal or other restrictions to prevent companies from compiling the precise locations of where we roam and selling that information to anyone. This data is in the hands of companies that we deal with daily, like Facebook and Google, and also with information-for-hire middlemen that we never directly interact with. This data is often packaged in bulk and is anonymous in theory, but it can often be traced back to individuals, as the tale of the Catholic official shows... Losing control of our data was not inevitable. It was a choice — or rather a failure over years by individuals, governments and corporations to think through the consequences of the digital age. We can now choose a different path. "Data brokers are the problem," writes the EFF, arguing that the incident "shows once again how easy it is for anyone to take advantage of data brokers' stores to cause real harm." This is not the first time Grindr has been in the spotlight for sharing user information with third-party data brokers... But Grindr is just one of countless apps engaging in this exact kind of data sharing. The real problem is the many data brokers and ad tech companies that amass and sell this sensitive data without anything resembling real users' consent. Apps and data brokers claim they are only sharing so-called "anonymized" data. But that's simply not possible. Data brokers sell rich profiles with more than enough information to link sensitive data to real people, even if the brokers don't include a legal name. In particular, there's no such thing as "anonymous" location data. Data points like one's home or workplace are identifiers themselves, and a malicious observer can connect movements to these and other destinations. Another piece of the puzzle is the ad ID, another so-called "anonymous" label that identifies a device. Apps share ad IDs with third parties, and an entire industry of "identity resolution" companies can readily link ad IDs to real people at scale. All of this underlines just how harmful a collection of mundane-seeming data points can become in the wrong hands... That's why the U.S. needs comprehensive data privacy regulation more than ever. This kind of abuse is not inevitable, and it must not become the norm.

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Three Die After Untreatable 'Superbug' Fungus Infections in Two Different Cities

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-07-24 22:34
"U.S. health officials said Thursday they now have evidence of an untreatable fungus spreading in two hospitals and a nursing home," reports the Associated Press: The "superbug" outbreaks were reported in a Washington, D.C, nursing home and at two Dallas-area hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. A handful of the patients had invasive fungal infections that were impervious to all three major classes of medications. "This is really the first time we've started seeing clustering of resistance" in which patients seemed to be getting the infections from each other, said the CDC's Dr. Meghan Lyman... Health officials have sounded alarms for years about the superbug after seeing infections in which commonly used drugs had little effect. In 2019, doctors diagnosed three cases in New York that were also resistant to a class of drugs, called echinocandins, that were considered a last line of defense. In those cases, there was no evidence the infections had spread from patient to patient — scientists concluded the resistance to the drugs formed during treatment. The new cases did spread, the CDC concluded.... Those cases were seen from January to April. Of the five people who were fully resistant to treatment, three died — both Texas patients and one in Washington. Lyman said both are ongoing outbreaks and that additional infections have been identified since April. But those added numbers were not reported. The fungus, Candida auris, "is a harmful form of yeast that is considered dangerous to hospital and nursing home patients with serious medical problems," they add — and it's spread through contaminated surfaces or contact with patients. Newsweek points out that while it's only recently appeared in America, "infections have occurred in over 30 countries worldwide."

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Kaspersky Warns Fake Windows 11 Installers Are Spreading Malware

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-07-24 21:34
Long-time Slashdot reader Ammalgam writes: If you're planning to install Windows 11, you should make sure you download it from official sources. This is because, people who are using pirated or fake methods to get Windows 11 are also downloading malware along with it, according to Kaspersky. The particular file referenced is called 86307_windows 11 build 21996.1 x64 + activator.exe. While it sounds like it includes Windows 11 build 21996.1, and an installer that will automatically activate Windows for you there are some red flags. First, it's only 1.75GB, so while people who want to install Windows 11 might think that's a large file that could be Windows, a real Windows 11 ISO is about 4.87GB... "The 1.75 GB file looks legitimate. But most of this space consists of one DLL file that contains a lot of useless information," explains Mint. And Kaspersky adds that "it even comes with a license agreement (which few people read) calling it a 'download manager for 86307_windows 11 build 21996.1 x64 + activator' and noting that it would also install some sponsored software. If you accept the agreement, a variety of malicious programs will be installed on your machine."

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China Compromised More than a Dozen US Pipelines Between 2011 and 2013

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-07-24 20:34
"Hackers working for the Chinese government compromised more than a dozen U.S. pipeline operators nearly a decade ago, the Biden administration revealed Tuesday while also issuing first-of-its-kind cybersecurity requirements on the pipeline industry," reports the Wall Street Journal. The disclosure of previously classified information about the aggressive Chinese hacking campaign, though dated, underscored the severity of foreign cyber threats to the nation's infrastructure, current and former officials said. In some cases, the hackers possessed the ability to physically damage or disrupt compromised pipelines, a new cybersecurity alert said, though it doesn't appear they did so. Previously, senior administration officials had warned that China, Russia and others were capable of such cyber intrusions. But rarely has so much information been released about a specific and apparently successful campaign. Chinese state-sponsored hackers between 2011 and 2013 had targeted nearly two dozen U.S. oil and natural gas pipeline operators with the specific goal of "holding U.S. pipeline infrastructure at risk," the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security said in Tuesday's joint alert. Of the known targets, 13 were successfully compromised and an additional eight suffered an "unknown depth of intrusion," which officials couldn't fully assess because the victims lacked complete computer log data, the alert said. Another three targets were described as "near misses" of the Chinese campaign, which relied heavily on spear phishing attacks. Newsweek adds that the same day the U.S. Department of Homeland Security "announced new requirements for U.S. pipeline operators to bolster cybersecurity following a May ransomware attack that disrupted gas delivery across the East Coast." In a statement, DHS said it would require operators of federally designated critical pipelines to implement "specific mitigation measures" to prevent ransomware attacks and other cyber intrusions. Operators must also implement contingency plans and conduct what the department calls a "cybersecurity architecture design review."

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Mozilla Stops FTP Support in Firefox 90

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-07-24 19:34
A post on Mozilla's security blog calls FTP "by now one of the oldest protocols still in use" — and it's suffering from "a number of serious security issues." The biggest security risk is that FTP transfers data in cleartext, allowing attackers to steal, spoof and even modify the data transmitted. To date, many malware distribution campaigns launch their attacks by compromising FTP servers and downloading malware on an end user's device using the FTP protocol. Aligning with our intent to deprecate non-secure HTTP and increase the percentage of secure connections, we, as well as other major web browsers, decided to discontinue support of the FTP protocol. Removing FTP brings us closer to a fully-secure web which is on a path to becoming HTTPS only and any modern automated upgrading mechanisms such as HSTS or also Firefox's HTTPS-Only Mode, which automatically upgrade any connection to become secure and encrypted do not apply to FTP. The FTP protocol itself has been disabled by default since version 88 and now the time has come to end an era and discontinue the support for this outdated and insecure protocol — Firefox 90 will no longer support the FTP protocol.

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With Profits Soaring, Tech Companies 'Won the Pandemic'

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-07-24 18:34
In April of 2020, Jeff Bezos announced Amazon would spend their next quarter focusing on people instead of profits, remembers the New York Times: At the end of July 2020, Amazon announced quarterly results. Rather than earning zero, as Mr. Bezos had predicted, it notched an operating profit of $5.8 billion — a record for the company. The months since have established new records. Amazon's margins, which measure the profit on every dollar of sales, are the highest in the history of the company, which is based in Seattle... Amazon's pandemic triumph was echoed all over the world of technology companies. Even as 609,000 Americans have died and the Delta variant surges, as corporate bankruptcies hit a peak for the decade, as restaurants, airlines, gyms, conferences, museums, department stores, hotels, movie theaters and amusement parks shut down and as millions of workers found themselves unemployed, the tech industry flourished. The combined stock market valuation of Apple, Alphabet, Nvidia, Tesla, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook increased by about 70 percent to more than $10 trillion. That is roughly the size of the entire U.S. stock market in 2002. Apple alone has enough cash in its coffers to give $600 to every person in the United States. And in the next week, the big tech companies are expected to report earnings that will eclipse all previous windfalls. Silicon Valley, still the world headquarters for tech start-ups, has never seen so much loot. More Valley companies went public in 2020 than in 2019, and they raised twice as much money when they did. Forbes calculates there are now 365 billionaires whose fortunes derive from tech, up from 241 before the virus. No single industry has ever had such power over American life, dominating how we communicate, shop, learn about the world and seek distraction and joy. What will Silicon Valley do with this power? Who if anyone might restrain tech, and how much support will they have...? The biggest, and perhaps the only, threat to tech now is from government... Beyond the threat of misuse of tech lurks an even darker possibility: a misplaced confidence in the ability of one loosely regulated sector to run so much of the world.

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Researchers Found a Malicious NPM Package Using Chrome's Password-Recovery Tools

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-07-24 17:34
Threatpost reports on "another vast software supply-chain attack" that was "found lurking in the npm open-source code repository...a credentials-stealing code bomb" that used the password-recovery tools in Google's Chrome web browser. Researchers caught the malware filching credentials from Chrome on Windows systems. The password-stealer is multifunctional: It also listens for incoming commands from the attacker's command-and-control (C2) server and can upload files, record from a victim's screen and camera, and execute shell commands... ReversingLabs researchers, who published their findings in a Wednesday post, said that during an analysis of the code repository, they found an interesting embedded Windows executable file: a credential-stealing threat. Labeled "Win32.Infostealer.Heuristics", it showed up in two packages: nodejs_net_server and temptesttempfile. At least for now, the first, main threat is nodejs_net_server. Some details: nodejs_net_server: A package with 12 published versions and a total of more than 1,300 downloads since it was first published in February 2019...finally upgrading it last December with a script to download the password-stealer, which the developer hosts on a personal website. It was subsequently tweaked to run TeamViewer.exe instead, "probably because the author didn't want to have such an obvious connection between the malware and their website," researchers theorized... ReversingLabs contacted the npm security team on July 2 to give them a heads-up about the nodejs_net_server and tempdownloadtempfile packages and circled back once again last week, on Thursday, since the team still hadn't removed the packages from the repository. When Threatpost reached out to npm Inc., which maintains the repository, a GitHub spokesperson sent this statement: "Both packages were removed following our investigation...."

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Repairable, Modular Framework Laptop Begins Shipping

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-07-24 16:34
"Are you old enough to remember when laptops had removable batteries?" asks CNET. "Frustrated by mainstream laptops with memory soldered to the motherboard and therefore not upgradable?" "The 13.5-inch Framework Laptop taps into that nostalgia, addressing one of the biggest drawbacks in modern laptops as part of the right-to-repair movement. It was designed from the ground up to be as customizable, upgradable and repairable as technologically possible... and boy does it deliver." It features four expansion card slots, slide-in modules that snap into USB-C connectors, socketed storage and RAM, a replaceable mainboard module with fixed CPU and fan, battery, screen, keyboard and more. It's a design that makes the parts easy to access, all while delivering solid performance at competitive prices and without sacrificing aesthetics. The laptop's in preorder now for the U.S. and Canada, slated to ship in small batches depending upon the configuration. Core i7-based systems are expected to go out in August, while Core i5 systems won't be available until September. Prices for the Framework Laptop start at $999 for the prefab Core i5-1135G7 model with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, $1,399 for the Core i7-1165G7 Performance model with 16GB RAM and 512GB storage or a vPro Core i7-1185G7 Professional model with 32GB RAM and 1TB storage. Framework expects to expand into new regions by the end of the year; $999 converts to roughly £730 or AU$1,360... The DIY model adds Linux to the list of operating systems you can install, and doesn't restrict Windows Pro to the vPro model... With the Framework, in addition to the ports you can swap out the mainboard, touchpad, keyboard, speakers, battery... anything you can think of. Don't feel like doing it yourself? Framework is publishing all the information necessary for a repair shop or IT department to not just swap parts, but to perform repairs... Nothing is buried under other parts, so everything's easy to get to. Each Framework part has a QR code and short URL to take you to all the info you'll need about it and the labels on the standard parts (memory and SSD) are easy to read. Or, as Engadget puts it, the laptop is "designed, from the get-go, to be modular and repairable by every one of its users." Created by Nirav Patel, formerly of Oculus, the machine aims to demonstrate that there is a better, more sustainable way of doing things. It shouldn't be that, if your tech fails, you either have to buy a new model, or let the manufacturer's in-house repair teams charge $700 for a job that should've cost $50 . After all, if we're going to survive climate change, we need to treat our tech more sustainably and keep as much as possible out of the landfill... The Framework laptop is equipped with a 1080p, 60fps webcam with an 80-degree field of view, and it's one of the best built-in webcams I've seen. PCWorld calls it "the ultimate Right to Repair laptop."

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Iconic Japanese Videogame Music Incorporated Into Olympic Opening Ceremony

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-07-24 15:34
"Fans of Japanese video games couldn't believe their ears as Olympic athletes paraded into Tokyo's National Stadium during the opening ceremony for the 2020 Games on Friday..." reports the Huffington Post. During the Parade of Nations section of the ceremony, "The orchestra was playing tunes from some of their favorite games." In a celebration of Japanese popular culture that is appreciated worldwide, the entry parade was set to tunes from games developed by Sega, Capcom and Square Enix. It kicked off with "Overture: Roto's Theme" from Dragon Quest. Next up was "Victory Fanfare" from Final Fantasy. The parade featured more tunes from Monster Hunter, Soulcaliber and Sonic the Hedgehog. According to Classic FM, the music from Kingdom Hearts was composed by Yoko Shimomura, who is responsible for the music for some of the biggest video games ever made. Fans were delighted to hear her work being incorporated into the ceremony. While the list didn't feature widely recognized tunes from cultural juggernauts like Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda, the music helped give a sense of atmosphere to the ceremony, which was held in almost an empty stadium due to coronavirus restrictions. There's even an elaborate doodle at Google.com commemorating the Opening Ceremonies with an anime animation that leads to a multi-level 1980s-style videogame in which Lucky the cat competes in various sporting events. (Though the Huffington Post notes that in the real world, about 1,000 people sat in the 68,000-capacity stadium.) The Washington Post reports the Japanese public "overwhelmingly opposed hosting the Olympics as a new wave of the pandemic hit the country." But unfortunately, host city Tokyo signed a contract agreeing the event could only be cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, and now "There's the possibility — once utterly remote — that Japanese voters could kick Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga out of power in parliamentary elections later this year."

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Amazon MMO New World Is Bricking RTX 3090s, Players Say; Amazon Responds

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-07-24 14:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from GameSpot: Amazon [...] is now bricking high-end graphics cards with a beta for its MMO, New World, according to players. Amazon has now responded to downplay the incident but says it plans to implement a frame rate cap on the game's menus. According to users on Twitter and Reddit, New World has been frying extremely high-end graphics cards, namely Nvidia's RTX 3090. It's worth noting that while the RTX 3090 has an MSRP of $1,500, it's often selling for much more due to scarcity and scalpers, so players could easily be losing upwards of $2,000 if their card stops working. Specifically, it seems that one model of the RTX 3090 is being consistently fried by New World. On Reddit, a lengthy thread of over 600 posts includes multiple users claiming that their EVGA 3090 graphics cards are now little more than expensive paperweights after playing the New World beta. The "red light of death," an indicator that something is disastrously wrong with your EVGA 3090, doesn't pop up consistently for players though. Some report their screen going black after a cutscene in the game while others have said that simply using the brightness calibration screen was enough to brick their card. Amazon Games says a patch is on the way to prevent further issues. "Hundreds of thousands of people played in the New World Closed Beta yesterday, with millions of total hours played. We've received a few reports of players using high-performance graphics cards experiencing hardware failure when playing New World," said Amazon Games in an official statement. "New World makes standard DirectX calls as provided by the Windows API. We have seen no indication of widespread issues with 3090s, either in the beta or during our many months of alpha testing. The New World Closed Beta is safe to play. In order to further reassure players, we will implement a patch today that caps frames per second on our menu screen. We're grateful for the support New World is receiving from players around the world, and will keep listening to their feedback throughout Beta and beyond." New World is currently set to launch for PC on August 31.

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Categories: Technology

Society Is Right On Track For a Global Collapse, New Study of Infamous 1970s Report Finds

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-07-24 11:00
fahrbot-bot shares a report from Live Science: Human society is on track for a collapse in the next two decades if there isn't a serious shift in global priorities, according to a new reassessment of a 1970s report, Vice reported. In that report -- published in the bestselling book "The Limits to Growth" (1972) -- a team of MIT scientists argued that industrial civilization was bound to collapse if corporations and governments continued to pursue continuous economic growth, no matter the costs. The researchers forecasted 12 possible scenarios for the future, most of which predicted a point where natural resources would become so scarce that further economic growth would become impossible, and personal welfare would plummet. The report's most infamous scenario -- the Business as Usual (BAU) scenario -- predicted that the world's economic growth would peak around the 2040s, then take a sharp downturn, along with the global population, food availability and natural resources. This imminent "collapse" wouldn't be the end of the human race, but rather a societal turning point that would see standards of living drop around the world for decades, the team wrote. So, what's the outlook for society now, nearly half a century after the MIT researchers shared their prognostications? Gaya Herrington, a sustainability and dynamic system analysis researcher at the consulting firm KPMG, decided to find out. [...] Herrington found that the current state of the world -- measured through 10 different variables, including population, fertility rates, pollution levels, food production and industrial output -- aligned extremely closely with two of the scenarios proposed in 1972, namely the BAU scenario and one called Comprehensive Technology (CT), in which technological advancements help reduce pollution and increase food supplies, even as natural resources run out. While the CT scenario results in less of a shock to the global population and personal welfare, the lack of natural resources still leads to a point where economic growth sharply declines -- in other words, a sudden collapse of industrial society. "The good news is that it's not too late to avoid both of these scenarios and put society on track for an alternative -- the Stabilized World (SW) scenario," the report notes. "This path begins as the BAU and CT routes do, with population, pollution and economic growth rising in tandem while natural resources decline. The difference comes when humans decide to deliberately limit economic growth on their own, before a lack of resources forces them to." "The SW scenario assumes that in addition to the technological solutions, global societal priorities change," Herrington wrote. "A change in values and policies translates into, amongst other things, low desired family size, perfect birth control availability, and a deliberate choice to limit industrial output and prioritize health and education services." After this shift of values occurs, industrial growth and global population begin to level out. "Food availability continues to rise to meet the needs of the global population; pollution declines and all but disappears; and the depletion of natural resources begins to level out, too," adds Live Science. "Societal collapse is avoided entirely."

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Categories: Technology

Oregon Congressman Proposes New Space Tourism Tax

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-07-24 08:00
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) plans to introduce legislation called the Securing Protections Against Carbon Emissions (SPACE) Tax Act, which would impose new excise taxes on space tourism trips. Space.com reports: "Space exploration isn't a tax-free holiday for the wealthy. Just as normal Americans pay taxes when they buy airline tickets, billionaires who fly into space to produce nothing of scientific value should do the same, and then some," Blumenauer said in a statement issued by his office. "I'm not opposed to this type of space innovation," added Blumenauer, a senior member of the House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee. "However, things that are done purely for tourism or entertainment, and that don't have a scientific purpose, should in turn support the public good." The proposed new tax would likely be levied on a per-passenger basis, as is done with commercial aviation, the statement said. "Exemptions would be made available for NASA spaceflights for scientific research purposes," the statement reads. "In the case of flights where some passengers are working on behalf of NASA for scientific research purposes and others are not, the launch excise tax shall be the pro rata share of the non-NASA researchers." There would be two taxation tiers, one for suborbital flights and another for missions that reach orbit. The statement did not reveal how much the tax would be in either case or if the collected revenue would be earmarked for any specific purpose. Such a purpose could be the fight against climate change, if the proposed act's full name is any guide. Blumenauer is concerned about the potential carbon footprint of the space tourism industry once it gets fully up and running, the statement said.

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Categories: Technology

Maker of Dubious $56K Alzheimer's Drug Offers Cognitive Test No One Can Pass

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-07-24 04:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Do you ever forget things, like a doctor's appointment or a lunch date? Do you sometimes struggle to think of the right word for something common? Do you ever feel more anxious or irritable than you typically do? Do you ever feel overwhelmed when trying to make a decision? If you answered "no, never" to all of those questions, there's a possibility that you may not actually be human. Nevertheless, you should still talk to a doctor about additional cognitive screenings to check if you have Alzheimer's disease. At least, that's the takeaway from a six-question quiz provided in part by Biogen, the maker of an unproven, $56,000 Alzheimer's drug. The six questions include the four above, plus questions about whether you ever lose your train of thought or ever get lost on your way to or around a familiar place. The questions not only bring up common issues that perfectly healthy people might face from time to time, but the answers any quiz-taker provides are also completely irrelevant. No matter how you answer -- even if you say you never experience any of those issues -- the quiz will always prompt you to talk with your doctor about cognitive screening. The results page even uses your zip code to provide a link to find an Alzheimer's specialist near you. Biogen says the quiz website is part of a "disease awareness educational program." But it appears to be part of an aggressive strategy to sell the company's new Alzheimer's drug, Aduhelm, which has an intensely controversial history, to say the least. What's the controversial history you may ask? According to Ars, the drug "flunked out of two identical Phase III clinical trials in 2019." A panel of expert advisors for the FDA overwhelmingly voted against approval, yet it still was approved by the FDA on June 7. It also has a list price of $56,000 for a year's supply. The report goes on to say that the company is basically making up the statistic that "about 1 in 12 Americans 50 years and older" has mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's. Experts say they know of no evidence to back up that statistic and it appears to be a significant overestimate. Furthermore, two medical experts from Georgetown University said the company's quiz website "appears designed to ratchet up anxiety in anyone juggling multiple responsibilities or who gets distracted during small talk." They added: "Convincing perfectly normal people they should see a specialist, be tested for amyloid plaque, and, if present, assume they have early Alzheimer's is a great strategy for increasing Aduhelm prescriptions... [It] could lead to millions of prescriptions -- and billions of dollars in profit -- for an ineffective and expensive drug."

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