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Microsoft Suggests Those Divisive Windows 11 System Specs Deliver a 99.8% Crash-free Experience

Fri, 2021-09-10 19:22
PCGamer reports: Microsoft continues to double down on its assertion that the Windows 11 system requirements are absolutely necessary, and this whole TPM 2.0 schtick is vital for the safety of you, your PC, and maybe even the world. Okay, I made that last bit up, but the big M is sticking to its guns and has released another video backing its decision on excluding a whole lot of hardware that was fine with Windows 10. The latest claim is that you're going to see fewer blue screens of death -- or maybe black screens of death -- because of the new system requirements, citing a "99.8% crash-free experience in the [Windows 11] preview." Look, there's still a part of us that feels at some point in the future, maybe the distant future, Microsoft will turn around and say 'You know, what? We don't mind what processor you use with Windows 11,' but for right now this is where we're at. You need a modern CPU for Windows 11 for security and reliability. And maybe a little performance. "So the requirement for Intel 8th Gen and AMD Ryzen 2000-series, and newer, chipsets does definitely contribute to performance," states Microsoft VP Steve Dispensa in the recent video. "But the main rationale here is actually the balanced security with performance. Security is at the core of these requirements." He does point to differences in how Windows 11 prioritises apps running in the foreground window. With the system running at 90% CPU load, it's still possible to get a responsive experience opening and using foreground apps thanks to these prioritisations.

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With Fertility Needs in Flux, Men Eye Freezing Their Sperm

Fri, 2021-09-10 18:00
A crop of companies want to make sperm-freezing a routine procedure for young men, as employers start to offer it as a benefit. From a report: For decades, the conversation about waning fertility has been focused largely on women. Think of Marisa Tomei stomping on the floorboards of a front porch to emulate her biological clock ticking in "My Cousin Vinny." More employers cover the cost of cryogenic egg freezing as a workplace benefit. Recently, a small group of biotech startups have hatched, dedicated to what they say is an underserved market: male fertility. Armed with recent scientific research suggesting that the quality of sperm is declining in the West, the companies are trying to make sperm-freezing a routine procedure for young, healthy men, one covered by health insurance and free of stigma. "My fundamental belief is that if the product is affordable, this should be a no-brainer for every man," says Khaled Kteily, the 32-year-old founder of Legacy, one of the companies that Mr. Alam used to freeze his sperm. "I believe that in the future," he adds, "this will be something that parents will buy for their kids as a not-so-subtle gift." The push to make a case for its business is starting to catch on. The company recently struck a deal to eventually provide free sperm testing and storage to all active duty service members in the U.S. military, starting with the Navy SEALs, of which there are about 1,200 a year, and expanding next to all special operations forces. The Navy didn't respond to a request for comment. Soldiers regularly experience risky situations and time away from their partners, says Ellen Gustafson, a Navy wife and co-founder of the Military Family Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for coverage of fertility medicine for members of the armed forces.

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Judge in Epic Suit Says Apple Restrictions Anti-Competitive

Fri, 2021-09-10 16:37
A U.S. judge on Friday issued a ruling in "Fortnite" creator Epic Games' antitrust lawsuit against Apple's App Store, labelling Apple's conduct in enforcing anti-steering restrictions as anticompetitive. From a report: The case may determine whether Apple is allowed to retain control over what apps appear on its iPhones and whether it is allowed to charge commissions to developers. The Verge adds: Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers issued a permanent injunction in the Epic v. Apple case on Friday morning, handing a major setback to Apple's App Store model. Under the new order, Apple is: "permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from including in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to In-App Purchasing and (ii) communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app."

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Why Amazon Might Become the Largest Quantum Consumer

Fri, 2021-09-10 16:01
An anonymous reader shares a report:These are still early days for quantum computing, far too soon to talk about domain-specific quantum systems. But if there are areas hungrier than ever for what quantum is best at -- dense optimization problems at scale -- the future cannot arrive fast enough. More specifically, the golden grail for quantum computing -- the "traveling salesman" problem -- could revolutionize the transportation industry in particular, in addition to the world's largest retailers dependent on accurate shipping data. Quantum capabilities in this arena are so critical that the first production quantum systems at scale could be purpose-designed and optimized simply for this type of problem. While these days we don't think of Amazon's delivery aspects much since the carriers are so often the focus, the combined capability of vast search coupled with near-real-time delivery dates matched to location took Amazon years to get right -- and was a billion-plus dollar effort in compute time. Peter Chapman says "infinite compute" can be brought to bear to refine the entire process that happens the moment you search for "USB drive" on Amazon, confirm your shipping location, and select only products that arrive tomorrow. The density of calculations required -- pulling from warehouse availability to planes, trains, and automobiles and their various routes through your own hometown -- is staggering. "It's the ultimate traveling salesman problem," he laughs. Chapman should know what this takes because he led the development of many of the technologies that became the fast, reliable Amazon Prime service. As director of engineering, his team of 240 engineers took Amazon from requiring customers to search and select a product and wait until checkout to find out how long delivery would take. "That meant a lot of abandoned carts and a bad user experience," he says. With global products, shipping routes, customers, carriers, product availability and warehouse locations, the order was so tall, it took rearchitecting Amazon infrastructure to do it at reasonable enough scale. "There is a practical limit to the computational resources you can apply to this, even at Amazon. We could easily consume 100x the compute but Amazon couldn't afford it," Chapman says. "There is infinite need for compute for this problem so we had to find the right tradeoffs in optimization and find what you can get for a certain amount of money spent -- and we're talking billions here. Our goal was to make sure it wasn't $20 billion." He adds that the cost of these systems were growing faster than the top line of Amazon's sales.

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Uber Eats, DoorDash, Grubhub Sue New York City Over Legislation on Commission Caps

Fri, 2021-09-10 15:00
Food-delivery companies DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats have sued New York City over a legislation to license food-delivery apps and to permanently cap commissions they can charge restaurants. From a report: The three food-delivery companies filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York late on Thursday. The companies are seeking an injunction that would prevent New York from enforcing the fee-cap ordinance adopted last month, as well as unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial. The New York City Council approved in August a legislation which limits the amount that food-delivery companies can charge restaurants to use their platforms and requires them to obtain operating licenses that are valid for two years. read more "Those permanent price controls will harm not only Plaintiffs, but also the revitalization of the very local restaurants that the City claims to serve," the companies said in the lawsuit filed on Thursday. The suit argues that the legislation is unconstitutional because "it interferes with freely negotiated contracts between platforms and restaurants by changing and dictating the economic terms on which a dynamic industry operates."

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Scientists Aim For Clearer Messages On Global Warming

Fri, 2021-09-10 11:30
Here's a sentence that's basically unintelligible to most people: Humans must mitigate global warming by pursuing an unprecedented transition to a carbon neutral economy. A recent study found that some of the most common terms in climate science are confusing to the general public. From a report: The study tested words that are frequently used in international climate reports, and it concluded that the most confusing terms were "mitigation," "carbon neutral" and "unprecedented transition." "I think the main message is to avoid jargon," says Wandi Bruine de Bruin, a behavioral scientist at the University of Southern California and the lead author of the study. "That includes words that may seem like everyone should understand them." For example, participants in the study mixed up the word "mitigation," which commonly refers to efforts that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with the word "mediation," which is a way to resolve disputes. And even simple terms such as "carbon" can be misleading, the study found. Sometimes, carbon is shorthand for carbon dioxide. Other times, it's used to refer to multiple greenhouse gases. "As experts in a particular field, we may not realize which of the words that we're using are jargon," says Bruine de Bruin. The study is the latest indication that scientists need to do a better job communicating about global warming, especially when the intended audience is the general public. Clear climate communication gets more important every day because climate change is affecting every part of life on Earth. Nurses, doctors, farmers, teachers, engineers and business executives need reliable, accessible information about how global warming is affecting their patients, crops, students, buildings and businesses. And extreme weather this summer -- from floods to fires, hurricanes to droughts -- underscores the urgency of clear climate communication.

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Apple's Watch Software Chief Takes Over Self-Driving Car Project

Fri, 2021-09-10 08:00
Apple appointed one of its top software executives, Kevin Lynch, to oversee its nascent self-driving car project after the previous leader left for Ford Motor. From a report: Lynch, an Adobe veteran who joined Apple in 2013 to run the software group for the company's smartwatch and health efforts, replaced Doug Field as the manager in charge of the car work, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The executive first started working on the project earlier this year when he took over teams handling the underlying software. Now he is overseeing the whole group, which also includes hardware engineering and work on self-driving car sensors, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the move isn't public. The change marks the latest shake-up in the project's tumultuous history. Since Apple embarked on its plan to develop a self-driving car around 2014, the endeavor has seen management turnover, layoffs of engineers and strategy shifts -- all while shrouded in secrecy.

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Hacker Lawyer Jay Leiderman Is Dead at 50

Fri, 2021-09-10 05:00
Jay Leiderman, a California defense attorney known for his whistleblower advocacy and defense of political dissidents and hackers, was confirmed dead in Ventura County on Thursday. He was 50 years old. From a report: Dubbed the "Hacktivist's Advocate" by The Atlantic in 2012, Leiderman gained national attention for his pro-bono work for clients accused of crashing corporate and government websites, including members of the group Anonymous. They were rarely good cases. Leiderman's hacking clients had a nagging habit of openly admitting to the things they were accused of doing. One spent a decade fleeing authorities in several countries, giving interviews, all the while on the lam. (The client was just captured in June.) Still, their causes struck a chord with the Queens-born attorney, who'd long held to a rebellious legal philosophy. After a city in California passed a law criminalizing homelessness, the same client knocked one of its websites offline for half an hour. Where the FBI saw a felony computer crime worth up to 15 years in prison, Leiderman saw a peaceful protest against an unjust law -- a protest, he noted, that caused no perceptible harm.

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Groundbreaking Technique Yields Important New Details on Silicon, Subatomic Particles and Possible 'Fifth Force'

Fri, 2021-09-10 02:00
NIST: Using a groundbreaking new technique at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an international collaboration led by NIST researchers has revealed previously unrecognized properties of technologically crucial silicon crystals and uncovered new information about an important subatomic particle and a long-theorized fifth force of nature. By aiming subatomic particles known as neutrons at silicon crystals and monitoring the outcome with exquisite sensitivity, the NIST scientists were able to obtain three extraordinary results: the first measurement of a key neutron property in 20 years using a unique method; the highest-precision measurements of the effects of heat-related vibrations in a silicon crystal; and limits on the strength of a possible "fifth force" beyond standard physics theories. In a regular crystal such as silicon, there are many parallel sheets of atoms, each of which forms a plane. Probing different planes with neutrons reveals different aspects of the crystal. The researchers report their findings in the journal Science. To obtain information about crystalline materials at the atomic scale, scientists typically aim a beam of particles (such as X-rays, electrons or neutrons) at the crystal and detect the beam's angles, intensities and patterns as it passes through or ricochets off planes in the crystal's lattice-like atomic geometry. That information is critically important for characterizing the electronic, mechanical and magnetic properties of microchip components and various novel nanomaterials for next-generation applications including quantum computing. A great deal is known already, but continued progress requires increasingly detailed knowledge.

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Code.org, Tech Giants Enlist Teachers To Sell Kids and Parents On 'CS Journeys'

Fri, 2021-09-10 00:05
theodp writes: On Monday, tech-bankrolled Code.org announced the CS Journeys program, which the nonprofit explains is designed to help teachers "excite, encourage, and empower your students to continue their CS journeys in and beyond your class." Besides live, virtual field trips to Amazon's Fulfillment Centers, kids aged 5-and-up will also participate in live, weekly classroom conversations with professionals from the likes of Google and Amazon, where they "will learn about a number of ways they can use computer science to have a positive impact, as well as different journeys that people have taken to get to meaningful careers and achieve their goals." A Googler will speak to kindergartners and other younger students about Developing responsible artificial intelligence on Sep. 22nd. Teachers are also being asked to show students inspiring Careers in Tech videos featuring employees from Facebook/Instagram, Microsoft, and Google. Explaining that "students who hear from parents that they would be good at computer science are 2-3 times more likely to be interested in learning it," Code.org urges teachers to also "connect with parents and recruit their help in encouraging students to learn and continue on their computer science journey." Code.org even provides teachers with talking points to include in emails and letters home. A sample: "Computer science teaches students critical thinking and problem solving. In fact, studies show that students who learn computer science do better in other subjects, excel at problem solving, and are more likely to go to college. [...] Parent/guardian encouragement is critical to student success and interest in learning and success. So ask your student to see something they created in class." The launch of CS Journeys comes less than a year after Google VP Maggie Johnson -- a long-time Code.org Board member -- reported that a Google-commissioned Gallup report showed that "students are generally unconvinced that computer science is important for them to learn," adding that "Interventions from parents, educators, community leaders, policymakers, nonprofits and the technology industry are needed to encourage girls, Black students and Hispanic students to take computer science courses. These students also need to be shown how CS knowledge can help them meet their goals in a variety of fields including the humanities, medicine and the arts." According to the report, only 22% of boys and 9% of girls "believe it is very important to learn CS."

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Russia's Yandex Says It Repelled Biggest DDoS Attack in History

Thu, 2021-09-09 23:10
head_dunce writes: A cyber attack on Russian tech giant Yandex's servers in August and September was the largest known distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack in the history of the internet, the company said on Thursday. The DDoS attack, in which hackers try to flood a network with unusually high volumes of data traffic in order to paralyse it when it can no longer cope with the scale of data requested, began in August and reached a record level on Sept. 5. "Our experts did manage to repel a record attack of nearly 22 million requests per second (RPS). This is the biggest known attack in the history of the internet," Yandex said in a statement. The previous record was held by Cloudflare, which said last month that it had mitigated a 17.2 RPS DDoS attack.

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Web Creator Tim Berners-Lee Joins ProtonMail's Advisory Board

Thu, 2021-09-09 22:15
The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, has joined the advisory board of hosted email service provider ProtonMail. From a report: In a statement, ProtonMail CEO and founder Andy Yen said the addition of Berners-Lee to the company's advisory board was aligned with its goal to "create an internet where people are in control of their information at all times. Our vision is to build an internet where privacy is the default by creating an ecosystem of services accessible to everyone, everywhere, every day," Yen said. Yen said the company already had a past relationship with Berners-Lee, explaining that the idea of ProtonMail was initially conceived at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, where the World Wide Web was created. The addition of Berners-Lee comes almost immediately after ProtonMail received flak for giving a climate activist's IP address to French authorities to comply with a Swiss court order. Addressing the logging of the IP address in a blog post earlier this week, Yen said all companies have to comply with laws, such as court orders, if they operate within 15 miles of land. "No matter what service you use, unless it is based 15 miles offshore in international waters, the company will have to comply with the law," Yen said.

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A Bunch of Ape NFTs Just Sold For $24.4 Million

Thu, 2021-09-09 21:18
If you thought NFT mania was about to die off, think again: a bundle of 101 NFTs from Bored Ape Yacht Club just sold at Sotheby's for $24.4 million. A second bundle of 101 Bored Ape Kennel Club NFTs sold for $1.8 million. From a report: That puts the ape sale among the biggest in the NFT space. A bundle of nine CryptoPunks -- one of the earliest NFT projects -- sold for $16.9 million in May. And Beeple sold a collage of his works as an NFT for $69 million in March. While it's hard to directly compare all of these sales (there are 101 items in today's auctions versus one in Beeple's), the purchases show that the appetite for NFT art isn't dying down, and they suggest that buyers think there'll be high resale value as the market continues to grow.

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Microsoft Gives Up Predicting When Its US Offices Will Fully Reopen

Thu, 2021-09-09 20:11
Microsoft is shelving its plans to fully reopen its US offices next month. From a report: The software giant had planned to reopen its headquarters on October 4th, but the ongoing uncertainty of COVID-19 and the spike in cases has forced the company to delay its back to the office push. Microsoft isn't providing a new date to employees, though.

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Amazon To Cover 100% of College Tuition for US Hourly Employees

Thu, 2021-09-09 19:05
Amazon said Thursday it will offer to pay 100% of college tuition for its 750,000 U.S. hourly employees. From a report: The e-commerce giant is following the lead of other large U.S. companies who are dangling perks like education benefits or more pay to woo workers in a tight job market. Starting in January 2022, Amazon said it will cover the cost of college tuition, fees and textbooks for hourly employees in its operations network after 90 days of employment. It will also begin covering high school diploma programs, GEDs and English as a second language certifications for employees. Operations workers include employees in Amazon's sprawling network of warehouses and distribution centers. The benefit will apply to hundreds of education institutions across the country, Amazon said. Amazon previously offered to pay for 95% of tuition, fees and textbooks for hourly associates through its career choice program. Rival retailers, including Walmart and Target, have also beefed up their education benefits in recent months. Target in August rolled out a program that covers the cost of associate and undergraduate degrees at select schools. Walmart in July said it would pay 100% of college tuition and books costs for associates of Walmart and Sam's Club.

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Mastercard Acquires CipherTrace To Boost Crypto Security and Compliance

Thu, 2021-09-09 18:05
Payment services company Mastercard has acquired blockchain analytics firm CipherTrace to bolster its own cyber security tools and to better comply with crypto regulatory guidelines, according to an announcement on Thursday. The amount offered for the acquisition remains undisclosed. From a report: "With the rapid growth of the digital asset ecosystem comes the need to ensure it is trusted and safe," said Ajay Bhalla, president of Cyber and Intelligence at Mastercard, in the statement. "Our aim is to build upon the complementary capabilities of Mastercard and CipherTrace to do just this." In addition to gathering data in the crypto space, CipherTrace publishes yearly reports about the trends in the crypto ecosystem and has built compliance tools for decentralized exchanges.

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Facebook Debuts Its Ray-Ban Stories Smart Sunglasses

Thu, 2021-09-09 17:05
Facebook announced their long-awaited foray into the smart glasses space Thursday morning, launching the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses in partnership with eyewear giant EssilorLuxottica. From a report: The svelte frames are some of the most low-profile yet available to consumers and will allow users to snap photos and videos with the two onboard 5 MP cameras, listen to music with in-frame speakers and take phone calls. The glasses need to be connected to an iOS or Android device for full functionality, though users can take and store hundreds of photos or dozens of videos on the glasses before transferring media to their phones via Facebook's new View app. The twin cameras will allow users to add 3D effects to their photos and videos once they upload them to the app. The lightweight glasses weigh less than 50 grams and come with a leather hardshell charging case. The battery lift is advertised as "all-day" which TechCrunch found to be accurate during our review of the frames. Users will be able to control the glasses with a couple physical buttons including a "capture" button to record media and an on-off switch. A touch pad on the right arm of the glasses will allow users to perform functions like swiping to adjust the volume or answering a phone call. An onboard white LED will glow to indicate to the people around the wearer that a video is being recorded. The glasses will start at $299, with polarized and transition lens options coming in at a higher price point.

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California Aims To Ban Recycling Symbols on Things That Aren't Recyclable

Thu, 2021-09-09 16:03
The well-known three-arrows symbol doesn't necessarily mean that a product is actually recyclable. A new bill would limit the products allowed to feature the mark. From a report: The triangular "chasing arrows" recycling symbol is everywhere: On disposable cups. On shower curtains. On children's toys. What a lot of shoppers might not know is that any product can display the sign, even if it isn't recyclable. It's false advertising, critics say, and as a result, countless tons of non-recyclable garbage are thrown in the recycling bin each year, choking the recycling system. Late on Wednesday, California took steps toward becoming the first state to change that. A bill passed by the state's assembly would ban companies from using the arrows symbol unless they can prove the material is in fact recycled in most California communities, and is used to make new products. "It's a basic truth-in-advertising concept," said California State Senator Ben Allen, a Democrat and the bill's lead sponsor. "We have a lot of people who are dutifully putting materials into the recycling bins that have the recycling symbols on them, thinking that they're going to be recycled, but actually, they're heading straight to the landfill," he said. The measure, which is expected to clear the State Senate later this week and be signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, is part of a nascent effort across the country to fix a recycling system that has long been broken. Though materials like paper or metals are widely recycled, less than 10 percent of plastic consumed in the United States is recycled, according to the most recent estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency. Instead, most plastic is incinerated or dumped in landfills, with the exception of some types of resins, like the kind used for bottled water or soda. For years, the United States also shipped much of its plastic waste overseas, choking local rivers and streams. A global convention now bans most trade in plastic waste, though U.S. waste exports have not completely ceased. This summer, Maine and Oregon passed laws overhauling their states' recycling systems by requiring corporations to pay for the cost of recycling their packaging. In Oregon, the law included plans to establish a task force that would evaluate "misleading or confusing claims" related to recycling. Legislation is pending in New York that would, among other things, ban products from displaying misleading claims.

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Amazon Launches a TV Line

Thu, 2021-09-09 15:01
Amazon is officially in the TV set business. From a report: After years of selling Fire TV devices that plug into third-party HDTVs and teaming with TV makers for Fire TV-based products, the ecommerce giant is rolling out the first-ever Amazon-built TVs: the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series ($410 and up), which provides hands-free Alexa voice navigation, and the value-priced 4-Series smart TV line ($370 and up). They're set to ship in October. In addition, Amazon is baking in new features to the overall Fire TV platform, including bringing TikTok content to the platform in the U.S. and Canada; letting users access Netflix's shuffle-mode feature via Alexa; and being able to ask Alexa for movie or TV show recommendations. The company also is bowing the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max ($55), which it says is more powerful than the prior-generation model and is Amazon's first streaming media player to launch with Energy Star certification and Wi-Fi 6 support.

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County IT Supervisor Mined Bitcoin At the Office, Prosecutors Say

Thu, 2021-09-09 14:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: A Long Island man was charged on Wednesday with using his position as an I.T. supervisor for Suffolk County to mine cryptocurrency from government offices, costing the county thousands of dollars in electricity. Prosecutors said that Christopher Naples, 42, of Mattituck, L.I., had hidden 46 specialized devices used to mine Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in six rooms in the Suffolk County Center in Riverhead, including underneath floorboards and inside an unused electrical panel. Mr. Naples was charged with public corruption, grand larceny, computer trespass and official misconduct. If convicted of the top charge, he could face up to 15 years in prison. Mr. Naples had admitted that the devices belonged to him and that he had been operating them for at least several months before the district attorney's office was alerted to the scheme. Prosecutors said that at least 10 of Mr. Naples's machines had been running since February, costing Suffolk County more than $6,000. [...] [G]iven that 36 more machines had been discovered, it was likely that Mr. Naples had cost the county thousands more. [...] [O]ne room in which Mr. Naples had placed the devices had critically important computer servers and other equipment for the entire county, and that the temperature in that room in which the devices were placed had dropped 20 degrees shortly after they were disabled.

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