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Microsoft Announces New Webcam and USB-C Speaker for the Work from Home Era

Slashdot - Tue, 2021-04-13 17:03
Microsoft's long-awaited new webcam is finally here, alongside a number of accessories designed for the work from home era. From a report: Rumors of a new Microsoft webcam have been circulating for years, and the result is what Microsoft calls the Modern Webcam. It's a fairly basic and affordable 1080p webcam that will start shipping for $69.99 in June. The Microsoft Modern Webcam will support up to 1080p HDR output at 30fps and connects via USB-A, not USB-C. It's not the 4K webcam found on Microsoft's Surface Hub 2, and it doesn't include Windows Hello support either. It's really a simple webcam designed for students or workers to quickly add a better video calling option to an existing laptop or PC. Microsoft is also including a privacy shutter and LED indicator to let people easily see when the webcam is active. Microsoft is also launching a new USB-C speaker. The Modern USB-C Speaker is designed primarily for Microsoft Teams, and it even includes a button to launch a control panel for Teams with quick actions for meetings.

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Develop a Linux command-line Tool to Track and Plot Covid-19 Stats

Linux Journal - Tue, 2021-04-13 17:00
Develop a Linux command-line Tool to Track and Plot Covid-19 Stats by Nawaz Abbasi

It’s been over a year and we are still fighting with the pandemic at almost every aspect of our life. Thanks to technology, various tools and mechanisms to track Covid-19 related metrics. This introductory-level tutorial discusses developing one such tool at just Linux command-line, from scratch.

We will start with introducing the most important parts of the tool – the APIs and the commands. We will be using 2 APIs for our tool - COVID19 API and Quickchart API and 2 key commands – curl and jq. In simple terms, curl command is used for data transfer and jq command to process JSON data.

The complete tool can be broken down into 2 keys steps:

1. Fetching (GET request) data from the COVID19 API and piping the JSON output to jq so as to process out only global data (or similarly, country specific data).

$ curl -s --location --request GET 'https://api.covid19api.com/summary' | jq -r '.Global' { "NewConfirmed": 561661, "TotalConfirmed": 136069313, "NewDeaths": 8077, "TotalDeaths": 2937292, "NewRecovered": 487901, "TotalRecovered": 77585186, "Date": "2021-04-13T02:28:22.158Z" }

2. Storing the output of step 1 in variables and calling the Quickchart API using those variables, to plot a chart. Subsequently piping the JSON output to jq so as to filter only the link to our chart.

$ curl -s -X POST \ -H 'Content-Type: application/json' \ -d '{"chart": {"type": "bar", "data": {"labels": ["NewConfirmed ('''${newConf}''')", "TotalConfirmed ('''${totConf}''')", "NewDeaths ('''${newDeath}''')", "TotalDeaths ('''${totDeath}''')", "NewRecovered ('''${newRecover}''')", "TotalRecovered ('''${totRecover}''')"], "datasets": [{"label": "Global Covid-19 Stats ('''${datetime}''')", "data": ['''${newConf}''', '''${totConf}''', '''${newDeath}''', '''${totDeath}''', '''${newRecover}''', '''${totRecover}''']}]}}}' \ https://quickchart.io/chart/create | jq -r '.url' https://quickchart.io/chart/render/zf-be27ef29-4495-4e9a-9180-dbf76f485eaf

That’s it! Now we have our data plotted out in a chart:

LJ Global-Stats-Track-And-Plot-Covid19-Stats

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You know what? Fork this: AWS renames its take on Elasticsearch to OpenSearch following trademark fight

The Register - Tue, 2021-04-13 16:29
Beta expected in a matter of weeks, production release planned for summer

AWS has introduced the OpenSearch project, the new name for its open-source fork of Elasticsearch and Kibana.…

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Apple Will Hold a Special Event on April 20

Slashdot - Tue, 2021-04-13 16:23
If you're wondering when Apple will hold its next event, Siri may have the answer. From a report: Ask the digital helper: "When is the next Apple event?" and it will respond with "the special event is on Tuesday, April 20, at Apple Park in Cupertino, CA. You can get all the details on Apple.com." MacRumors, which spotted the reply, says the virtual assistant is providing it in certain instances on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and HomePod. While it's an open secret that Apple is planning an event for later this month where it's expected to debut a new iPad Pro, Siri has seemingly leaked the date ahead of confirmation. We won't have to wait long to find out if the info is correct, though. Apple normally sends out invites to the press a week ahead of the proceedings, so it should make it official later today. The event itself is expected to be a virtual affair starring the iPad Pro (in two sizes) and possibly featuring the AirTags Bluetooth tracker. Apple's next premium slate reportedly features a Mini LED display on the flagship 12.9-inch model, but supply chain issues could see it ship later than planned and in limited quantities.

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US Recommends 'Pause' For J&J Vaccine Over Clot Reports

Slashdot - Tue, 2021-04-13 15:49
iggymanz writes: The U.S. is recommending a "pause" in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday they were investigating unusual clots that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain and occurred together with low platelets. All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48; there was one death and all remained under investigation. The reports appear similar to a rare, unusual type of clotting disorder that European authorities say is possibly linked to another COVID-19 vaccine not yet cleared in the U.S., from AstraZeneca. More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects.

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Northrop Grumman's MEV-2 gives Intelsat satellite a new lease on life until the next rescue in another five years

The Register - Tue, 2021-04-13 15:12
After 17 years into a 13-year mission, that's not bad

Northrop Grumman's second Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) has docked with Intelsat's IS-10-02 satellite, potentially extending the life of the latter by five years.…

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New Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 Goes for Battery Life

Slashdot - Tue, 2021-04-13 15:11
Microsoft on Tuesday announced a new 2021 Surface Laptop, called the Surface Laptop 4. The new version adds 11th-gen Intel Core processors, paired with Intel Iris XE graphics. There's also an AMD processor option -- Zen 2 series -- with a graphics chip called AMD Radeon Graphics Microsoft Surface Edition. From a report: For all the buzz Microsoft's Surface tablets get, I've always thought the Surface Laptop was actually Microsoft's secret weapon. Since Surface Laptop debuted in 2017, it's been a strong contender for the best all-purpose slim Windows laptop. But plenty of companies offer 13-inch-class slim laptops, all hoping to be the Windows version of Apple's ubiquitous MacBook Air. (Microsoft also introduced a 15-inch version in 2019.) Microsoft says the Surface Laptop has the Surface line's highest level of customer satisfaction. Besides simply working well and being stylish and easy to use, the Surface Laptop was frequently on sale at very reasonable prices, making it a great way to get a rock-solid clamshell laptop for not much money. Shortly before the Surface Laptop 4 preorders went live, you could still order a Core i5 13-inch Surface Laptop 3 (with 8GB RAM and a 128GB SSD) for $769, or $899 for a 256GB SSD.

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Unity devs warned of breaking changes ahead in video game engine as team gets to grips with mutating face of .NET

The Register - Tue, 2021-04-13 14:15
Support has fallen behind and fixing it is a challenge

Unity software developer Josh Peterson has spoken about the future of .NET support in the widely used game development engine.…

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Billions of Smartphone Owners Will Soon Be Authorizing Payments Using Facial Recognition

Slashdot - Tue, 2021-04-13 14:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: The next few years will see billions of users regularly using facial recognition technology to secure payments made through their smartphone, tablets or smartwatches, according to new analysis carried out by Juniper Research. Smartphone owners are already used to staring at their screens to safely unlock their devices without having to dial in a secret code; now, facial recognition will increasingly be deployed to verify the identity of a user making a payment with their handset, whether that's via an app or directly in-store, in wallet mode. In addition to facial features, Juniper Research's analysts predict that a host of biometrics will be used to authenticate mobile payments, including fingerprint, iris and voice recognition. Biometric capabilities will reach 95% of smartphones globally by 2025, according to the researchers; by that time, users' biological characteristics will be authenticating over $3 trillion-worth of payment transactions -- up from $404 billion in 2020. [...] "All you need for software-based facial recognition is a front-facing camera on the device and accompanying software," Nick Maynard, lead analyst at Juniper Research, tells ZDNet. "In a hardware-based system, there will be additional hardware layers that add additional security levels. It's increasingly important to differentiate because hardware-based systems are the more secure of the two." Maynard's research shows that between now and 2025, the number of handsets using hardware-based systems will grow by a dramatic 376% to reach 17% of smartphones. Juniper expects the number of smartphone owners using [software-based facial recognition systems] to secure payments to grow by 120% to 2025, to reach 1.4 billion devices -- that is, roughly 27% of smartphones globally. "Hardware-based systems obviously have additional costs per device," adds Maynard, "but the reason it is growing well is really that Apple has been driving it forward. They've made the technology a part of their high-end devices, and shown that hardware-based facial recognition technology can be done and can be very secure." "Software-based facial recognition is strong because it's very easy to deploy," Maynard continues, "but we are expecting a shift towards hardware-based systems as software becomes invalidated by fraudster approaches. Fraudster methods are always evolving, and the hardware needs to evolve with it."

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Salesforce's get-back-to-work strategy starts with 'Volunteer Vaccinated Cohorts' on designated floors

The Register - Tue, 2021-04-13 13:32
Sounds kind of like a vaccination passport for California offices

Salesforce has waded into the heated debate over vaccine passports, suggesting they may be a means of getting employees back into the office. Just don't call them vaccine passports.…

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Key Perl Core developer quits, says he was bullied for daring to suggest programming language contained 'cruft'

The Register - Tue, 2021-04-13 12:48
'After saying this, I immediately received hostile messages' says pumpking of version 5.x

On Monday, the Perl Core developer known as Sawyer X announced his intention to leave the three-person Perl Steering Committee, or Council, and the Perl Core group because of what he described as community hostility.…

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UK government opens vaccine floodgates to over-45s, NHS website predictably falls over

The Register - Tue, 2021-04-13 12:04
Looks like classic case of failing to scale to meet inevitable demand

The UK's National Health Service is now offering COVID-19 vaccines to those aged 45 and above however the volume of interest has made the appointment-booking website prone to wobbles.…

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Joint UK government procurement seeks supplier to support controversial Clean Air Zone system

The Register - Tue, 2021-04-13 11:15
A hot £22m for a bit of CAZ-ual software support

The UK government is on the hunt for a supplier to support and maintain the software behind its controversial Clean Air Zone (CAZ) policy in a tender that could result in a £22m contract.…

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Google Is Removing Its Play Movies and TV App From Every Roku and Most Smart TVs

Slashdot - Tue, 2021-04-13 11:00
Google has announced that the Google Play Movies and TV app will no longer be available on any Roku set-top box or any Samsung, LG, Vizio or Roku smart TV starting July 15th. The Verge reports: If you have movies or TV shows purchased or rented through the service, you'll still be able to access them through the "Your movies and shows" section of the YouTube app on those devices. This change will also affect you if if you used the Movies and TV app to access Movies Anywhere, the service that allows you to redeem codes from DVDs and Blu-rays so you can access your media digitally. Google has confirmed to The Verge that users who relied on Play Movies and TV to access that content will be able to do so through YouTube. There are a few other caveats to note in the transition to YouTube. Your Watchlist will no longer be viewable in the app (though it can still be seen on the web by Googling "my watchlist"), and while your family can still share the content you bought from the Movie and TV store, any purchases made in the YouTube app won't be shared with your family. [The Verge's article breaks down all the various ways you can access the content you purchased through the Play Store after July 15th.]

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Researchers Create Light Waves That Can Penetrate Even Opaque Materials

Slashdot - Tue, 2021-04-13 10:30
fahrbot-bot shares a report from Phys.Org: Why is sugar not transparent? Because light that penetrates a piece of sugar is scattered, altered and deflected in a highly complicated way. However, as a research team from TU Wien (Vienna) and Utrecht University (Netherlands) has now been able to show, there is a class of very special light waves for which this does not apply: for any specific disordered medium -- such as the sugar cube you may just have put in your coffee -- tailor-made light beams can be constructed that are practically not changed by this medium, but only attenuated. The light beam penetrates the medium, and a light pattern arrives on the other side that has the same shape as if the medium were not there at all. This idea of "scattering-invariant modes of light" can also be used to specifically examine the interior of objects. The results have now been published in the journal Nature Photonics. This method of finding light patterns that penetrate an object largely undisturbed could also be used for imaging procedures. "In hospitals, X-rays are used to look inside the body -- they have a shorter wavelength and can therefore penetrate our skin. But the way a light wave penetrates an object depends not only on the wavelength, but also on the waveform," says Matthias Kuhmayer, who works as a Ph.D. student on computer simulations of wave propagation. "If you want to focus light inside an object at certain points, then our method opens up completely new possibilities. We were able to show that using our approach the light distribution inside the zinc oxide layer can also be specifically controlled."

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Average British computer criminal is young, male and not highly skilled, researcher finds

The Register - Tue, 2021-04-13 10:27
Analysis of Computer Misuse Act cases also draws heavily on El Reg archives

An academic researcher has analysed more than 100 Computer Misuse Act cases to paint a picture of the sort of computer-enabled criminals who plague Great Britain’s digital doings in the 21st Century.…

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So how's .NET 6 coming along? Oh wow, Microsoft's multi-platform framework now includes... Windows

The Register - Tue, 2021-04-13 09:30
BlazorWebView arrives on desktop applications. Too convoluted?

Microsoft has shipped preview 3 of its forthcoming .NET 6 framework with a bunch of updates including the addition of Windows desktop to its Multi-platform App UI (MAUI).…

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Nominet chooses civil war over compromise by rejecting ex-BBC Trust chairman

The Register - Tue, 2021-04-13 08:32
Remaining .uk registry board members ignore demands of campaign that has already removed CEO

Nominet has chosen civil war over compromise, formally rejecting members' calls to install former BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons as chair of the .uk registry operator.…

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AWS adds local webcam passthrough to both of its remote desktop tools

The Register - Tue, 2021-04-13 08:01
NICE DCV also gets support for Apple's M1 silicon

If you’re looking for another reason to fear webcam complications during a video chat, Amazon Web Services has two things for you.…

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Japan To Start Releasing Fukushima Water Into Sea In 2 Years

Slashdot - Tue, 2021-04-13 07:40
According to the Associated Press, Japan's government decided it will start releasing treated radioactive water accumulated at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in two years. From the report: Under the basic plan adopted Tuesday by the ministers, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, also known as TEPCO, will start releasing the water in about two years after building a facility and compiling release plans adhering to safety requirements. It said the disposal of the water cannot be postponed further and is necessary to improve the environment surrounding the plant so residents can live there safely. TEPCO says its water storage capacity of 1.37 million tons will be full around fall of 2022. Also, the area now filled with storage tanks will have to be freed up for building new facilities needed for removing melted fuel debris from inside the reactors and for other decommissioning work that's expected to start in coming years. In the decade since the tsunami disaster, water meant to cool the nuclear material has constantly escaped from the damaged primary containment vessels into the basements of the reactor buildings. To make up for the loss, more water has been pumped into the reactors to continue to cool the melted fuel. Water is also pumped out and treated, part of which is recycled as cooling water, and the remainder stored in 1,020 tanks now holding 1.25 million tons of radioactive water. Those tanks that occupy a large space at the plant interfere with the safe and steady progress of the decommissioning, Economy and Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said. The tanks also could be damaged and leak in case of another powerful earthquake or tsunami, the report said. Releasing the water to the ocean was described as the most realistic method by a government panel that for nearly seven years had discussed how to dispose of the water. The report it prepared last year mentioned evaporation as a less desirable option. About 70% of the water in the tanks is contaminated beyond discharge limits but will be filtered again and diluted with seawater before it is released, the report says. According to a preliminary estimate, gradual releases of water will take more than 30 years but will be completed before the plant is fully decommissioned. Japan will abide by international rules for a release, obtain support from the International Atomic Energy Agency and others, and ensure disclosure of data and transparency to gain understanding of the international community, the report said. China blasted the Japanese government for being "extremely irresponsible," and warned that it might take action. "The Japanese side has yet to exhaust all avenues of measures, disregarded domestic and external opposition, has decided to unilaterally release the Fukushima plant's nuclear waste water without full consultation with its neighboring countries and the international community," the foreign ministry statement said. "This action is extremely irresponsible and will pose serious harm to the health and safety of the people in neighboring countries and the international community." South Korea also isn't happy with Japan's decision. "The government expresses strong regret over the Japanese government's decision to release contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean," said Koo Yoon-cheol, head of South Korea's Office for Government Policy Coordination.

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