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Facebook's Portal TV Video Chat Device Was Mocked -- Now It's Completely Sold Out

Thu, 2020-03-26 00:45
jmcbain writes: When Facebook launched its Portal hardware product line for in-home video communication in 2018, people accused the company of being tonedeaf to the privacy uproar stemming from the Cambridge Analytica controversy. Tech reviewers almost universally dismissed the product, saying "No one should buy the Facebook Portal TV," "Trust Fail," and "Is it really a good idea to pitch people on a Facebook-powered camera and microphone in your home?" However, during this period of shelter-in-place, Facebook's previously-beleaguered product has found an opportunity to shine. CNBC reports that "with people stuck indoors and seeking the best way to stay in touch with family and friends, the Portal TV is completely sold out on Facebook's website and from retailers such as Best Buy." Facebook further mentions that "We're pleased that we can help people connect with family, friends and colleagues during this time."

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Categories: Linux fréttir

Graphene Solar Thermal Film Could Be a New Way To Harvest Renewable Energy

Thu, 2020-03-26 00:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from IEEE Spectrum: Researchers at the Center for Translational Atomaterials (CTAM) at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a new graphene-based film that can absorb sunlight with an efficiency of over 90 percent, while simultaneously eliminating most IR thermal emission loss -- the first time such a feat has been reported. The result is an efficient solar heating metamaterial that can heat up rapidly to 83 degrees C (181 degrees F) in an open environment with minimal heat loss. Proposed applications for the film include thermal energy harvesting and storage, thermoelectricity generation, and seawater desalination. The 3D structured graphene metamaterial (SGM) is composed of a 30-nanometer-thick film of alternating graphene and dielectric layers deposited on a trench-like nanostructure that does double duty as a copper substrate to enhance absorption. More importantly, the substrate is patterned in a matrix arrangement to enable flexible tunability of wavelength-selective absorption. The graphene film is designed to absorb light between 0.28- to 2.5-micrometer wavelengths. And the copper substrate is structured so that it can act as a selective bandpass filter that suppresses the normal emission of internally generated blackbody energy. This retained heat then serves to further raise the metamaterial's temperature. Hence, the SGM can rapidly heat up to 83 degrees C. Should a different temperature be required for a particular application, a new trench nanostructure can be fabricated and tuned to match that specific blackbody wavelength. "The new material also uses less graphene by significantly reducing the film thickness to one third, and its thinness aids in transferring the absorbed heat more efficiently to other media such as water," the report adds. "Additionally, the film is hydrophobic, which fosters self-cleaning, while the graphene layer effectively protects the copper layer from corrosion, helping to extend the metamaterial's lifetime." The research is published in the journal Nature Communications.

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Categories: Linux fréttir

iFixit MacBook Air Teardown Finds More Repairable Than Predecessor

Wed, 2020-03-25 23:20
iFixit tore apart the updated MacBook Air and found that Apple made a few changes making for a more repairable notebook than the last generation. All in all, the new 2020 MacBook Air got a 4/10 repairability score from iFixit, which is one point higher than the previous-gen model which scored 3/10. 9to5Mac reports: iFixit highlights in its full teardown that the update to the reliable Magic Keyboard only added 0.5mm to the thick end of the new MacBook Air... a more than worth it trade-off: "More than anything, that 0.5 mm illustrates the sheer unnecessary-ness of the five painful years that Mac fans spent smashing on unresponsive butterfly keyboards. Knowing that Apple's thinnest-and-lightest notebook accommodates a scissor-switch keyboard so gracefully makes us wonder what it was all for. We understand as well as anyone the urge to fix things, but Apple's insistence on reworking and re-reworking the troubled butterfly design came at such a high cost -- financially, environmentally, and to the Mac's reputation -- and for what? We'll probably never know all the factors that led to the creation and persistence of the butterfly keyboard, but this Magic keyboard is a reminder that sometimes the difference between usable and unusable, or repairable and unrepairable, can be as small as half a millimeter." Past the keyboard update, iFixit found a nice improvement to how Apple has implemented the trackpad cable: "Where last year the trackpad cables were trapped under the logic board, they are now free to be disconnected anytime -- meaning trackpad removal can happen as soon as the back cover comes off. And since the battery rests under these same cables, this new configuration also greatly speeds up battery removal by leaving the logic board in place. That's two very tasty birds, one stone, for those of you counting. This is one of those happy (but all too rare) occasions where we can identify a hardware change from Apple that's squarely aimed at improving serviceability in the existing design. Sometimes they do listen!"

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Categories: Linux fréttir

The exFAT Filesystem Is Coming To Linux -- Paragon Software's Not Happy About It

Wed, 2020-03-25 22:40
couchslug shares an excerpt from Ars Technica: When software and operating system giant Microsoft announced its support for inclusion of the exFAT filesystem directly into the Linux kernel back in August, it didn't get a ton of press coverage. But filesystem vendor Paragon Software clearly noticed this month's merge of the Microsoft-approved, largely Samsung-authored version of exFAT into the VFS for-next repository, which will in turn merge into Linux 5.7 -- and Paragon doesn't seem happy about it. Yesterday, Paragon issued a press release about European gateway-modem vendor Sagemcom adopting its version of exFAT into an upcoming series of Linux-based routers. Unfortunately, it chose to preface the announcement with a stream of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) that wouldn't have looked out of place on Steve Ballmer's letterhead in the 1990s.

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COVID-19 Pushes Up Internet Use 70 Percent, Streaming More Than 12 Percent, First Figures Reveal

Wed, 2020-03-25 22:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Forbes: The first internet streaming and usage figures are coming in as the coronavirus pandemic places a quarter of the world's population under lockdown. As millions of people go online for entertainment and more, total internet hits have surged by between 50% and 70%, according to preliminary statistics. Streaming has also jumped by at least 12%, estimates show. [Maria Rua Aguete of Omdia, the tech research arm of Informa Tech] said the annual figures are revealing: "Ecommerce will be the other sector that will see a revenue boost as a result of the pandemic, adding $175 billion in revenue in 2020, which represents a 5% increase." Omdia predicts $11 billion losses for the movie industry with a 25% decline and a 15% drop in TV advertising, especially for ads promoting events such as concerts that can no longer take place. The surge in demand comes coupled with a warning from the company that paid TV advertising may decline by 15%. Omdia also predicted that industry recovery will start in 18 to 24 months. While official figures from Google's YouTube and other internet giants are awaited, Omdia's figures accord with other analysts. "Broadband providers are thus far experiencing a traffic surge between 30% and 50% across their mobile and fixed networks," said Alfonso Marone, who is head of media at KPMG U.K.: "Where self-isolation policies are at their peak in Europe, the spike in internet traffic has reached as high as 70%, which is indicative of what the traffic surge could look like in other regions in just two to three weeks' time. The most bandwidth-hungry are the online entertainment applications, especially those in high-definition like 4K movies and TV. For broadband providers, this spike may be seen as more a source of headache."

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UK Cash Usage Halves Within Days as Shops Close Due To Coronavirus

Wed, 2020-03-25 21:24
Cash usage in Britain has halved in the past few days, according to Link, which operates the UK's biggest network of ATMs. From a report: The closure of shops, a shift to contactless payments, plus concerns that notes may harbour the virus has contributed to the dramatic decline. Link said the ATM system was operating at its normal standard and that it was working closely with banks and regulators to ensure cash continued to be available. "Consumers' ATM and cash use has fallen significantly, by around 50%, over the past few days and this is likely to continue as people move to follow the prime minister's instructions to stay at home," it said. Some shops are refusing to accept cash during the crisis, demanding that customers pay by card only. Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: "We are concerned this will leave many vulnerable people unable to pay for the basics they need. Both the government and retailers need to find a way to ensure that the millions of people who rely on cash, and may not have a bank card, can still pay for essentials during this difficult time."

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'Don't Bail Out the Cruise Industry'

Wed, 2020-03-25 20:45
An anonymous reader shares a column: The United States economy is grinding to a halt as the country grapples with the novel coronavirus pandemic, and one of the first major actions President Trump has floated is having the government bail out the cruise line industry, which he says is a "prime candidate." He shouldn't do it. There are myriad reasons not to bail out the cruise industry's biggest players. Here are just a few: 1. They're not really US companies. [...] 2. They pay basically zero federal income tax. [...] 3. They're bad corporate actors: These companies use the protections offered by the countries they are incorporated in as a shield. They make passengers sign over a ton of rights before they even come aboard. Many employees often face long hours and brutal working conditions. 4. They pollute the air and oceans. Every fossil fuel-powered mode of transportation pollutes the air, but cruise ships are among the worst. They emit more sulfur dioxide than all of the passenger vehicles in Europe combined. Cruise ships also pollute the oceans by dumping waste. Not just illegally, for which these companies have been repeatedly fined, but also in some cases with impunity, again thanks to protections afforded by the laws of the countries where they're incorporated. And where they've been caught, there have been coverups. 5. They are not necessary. [...]

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Microsoft Announces New 'Hardware-Enforced Stack Protection' Feature

Wed, 2020-03-25 20:01
Microsoft announced today a new security feature for the Windows operating system. From a report: Named "Hardware-enforced Stack Protection," this feature allows applications to use the local CPU hardware to protect their code while running inside the CPU's memory. As the feature's name suggests, its primary role is to protect the (memory) stack -- where an app's code is stored during execution. "Hardware-enforced Stack Protection" works by enforcing strict management of the memory stack through the use of a combination between (1) modern CPU hardware and (2) shadow stacks. The term shadow stacks is a new one and refers to a copies of a program's intended execution flow (also referred to as the code's execution order). The new "Hardware-enforced Stack Protection" feature plans to use the hardware-based security features in modern CPUs to keep a copy of the app's shadow stack (intended code execution flow) in a hardware-secured environment.

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Nuclear Scientists Developing Faster, Cheaper Covid-19 Test

Wed, 2020-03-25 19:23
Nuclear scientists in Austria are closing in on new coronavirus testing kits that could dramatically lower the cost and time it takes to diagnose people for the disease. From a report: With Covid-19 tests in short supply in many places, some individuals have turned to private laboratories that can genetically detect the pathogen. That process, called reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, can cost as much as $400 in some private facilities. But the International Atomic Energy Agency expects it can produce Covid-19 tests costing as little as 10 euros ($10.83) that yield a diagnosis within hours, according to an spokesperson, who said the IAEA kits are close to being shipped. While the IAEA's individual tests may top out at 15 euros a person, countries will still need laboratories to process the results. Setting up a new facility from scratch can cost as much as 100,000 euros, according to the agency. The IAEA's lab outside Vienna has previously developed kits testing for Ebola, Zika and African Swine Fever. Fourteen countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America asked the agency's scientists earlier this month to help them ramp up testing. The effort drew an extra $5 million of funding on Tuesday from the U.S. State Department.

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Categories: Linux fréttir

Singapore Government To Make Its Contact-Tracing App Freely Available To Developers Worldwide

Wed, 2020-03-25 18:42
In a move to help the international community combat the coronavirus pandemic, the Singapore government will be making the software for its contact-tracing application TraceTogether, which has already been installed by more than 620,000 people, freely available to developers around the world. From a report: In a post on Monday, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan said that the app, developed by the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and the Ministry of Health, will be open-sourced. This means that the software's source code will be made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. "We believe that making our code available to the world will enhance trust and collaboration in dealing with a global threat that does not respect boundaries, political systems or economies," said Dr Balakrishnan, who is also Foreign Minister. "Together, we can make our world safer for everyone."

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Amazon, Owned by World's Richest Man, Soliciting Public Donations To Pay Workers' Sick Leave

Wed, 2020-03-25 18:02
While much of the economy grinds to a halt, Amazon is doing more business than ever. The company has announced it is hiring 100,000 workers to try to meet surging demand. In 2019, Amazon had over $280 billion in revenue and $11.9 billion in profits. As more Americans shift their shopping online, it will likely do better this year. But, as the pandemic continues, Amazon maintains one of the stingiest paid sick leave policies among major corporations. Judd Legum, writing for Popular Information: As Popular Information reported last week, a significant number of Amazon's workforce -- particularly part-time employees and contract workers -- are not receiving paid sick time. In response to the pandemic, Amazon said it would provide two weeks of sick leave to "all Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine." Kroger had a similar policy until Saturday when Kroger expanded its policy to cover workers with COVID-19 symptoms or who need to care for sick family members. Amazon, however, has held firm. Amazon's large contract workforce, which delivers packages and performs other critical tasks, is in even worse shape. Amazon is not providing any sick leave at all for these workers, even if they test positive for COVID-19. Instead, these workers must apply to the "Amazon Relief Fund" and apply for a grant to cover their sick leave. The fund is "focused on supporting our U.S.-based Delivery Associates employed by Delivery Service Providers, our Amazon Flex Delivery Partners, and Associates working for Integrity Staffing, Adecco Staffing, and RES Staffing, and drivers and support team members of line haul partners under financial distress due to a COVID-19 diagnosis or quarantine." Amazon donated $25 million to the fund and is soliciting individual donations to add to the pot. It initially included an option to donate by text.

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Britons Saying Final Goodbyes To Dying Relatives By Videolink

Wed, 2020-03-25 17:21
People are having to use videolinks to say their last goodbyes to dying relatives with Covid-19 because hospitals are curtailing visits to prevent spread of the virus. From a report: In a sad scene that is increasingly being played out out across the country, in the early hours of Tuesday morning a patient with coronavirus was taken off a ventilator at a hospital in south-east London. His wife and two children were unable to be with him but watched at home via videolink, after agreement from staff in the intensive treatment unit.

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CDC Says Coronavirus RNA Found in Princess Cruise Ship Cabins Up To 17 Days After Passengers Left

Wed, 2020-03-25 16:41
Coronavirus RNA survived for up to 17 days aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, lasting far longer on surfaces than previous research has shown, according to new data published this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From a report: The study examined the Japanese and U.S. government efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreaks on the Carnival-owned Diamond Princess ship in Japan and the Grand Princess ship in California. Passengers and crew on both ships were quarantined on board after previous guests, who didn't have any symptoms while aboard each of the ships, tested positive for COVID-19 after landing ashore. The RNA, the genetic material of the virus that causes COVID-19, "was identified on a variety of surfaces in cabins of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers up to 17 days after cabins were vacated on the Diamond Princess but before disinfection procedures had been conducted," the researchers wrote, adding that the finding doesn't necessarily mean the virus spread by surface. The CDC said researchers couldn't "determine whether transmission occurred from contaminated surfaces," and that further study of COVID-19's spread through touching surfaces on cruise ships was warranted.

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HPE Says Firmware Bug Will Brick Some SSDs Starting in October this Year

Wed, 2020-03-25 16:04
An anonymous reader writes: Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) issued a security advisory last week warning customers about a bug in the firmware of some SAS SSDs (Serial-Attached SCSI solid-state drives) that will fail after reaching 40,000 hours of operation -- which is 4 years, 206 days, and 16 hours after the SSD has been put into operation. HPE says that based on when affected SSDs have been manufactured and sold, the earliest failures are expected to occur starting with October this year. The company has released firmware updates last week to address the issue. HPE warns that if companies fail to install the update, they risk losing both the SSD and the data. "After the SSD failure occurs, neither the SSD nor the data can be recovered," the company explained.

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Categories: Linux fréttir

EPA Plans To Waive Some Compliance Requirements Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Wed, 2020-03-25 15:22
The Environmental Protection Agency is planning to waive compliance requirements and deadlines for a range of industries, including oil refiners, water utilities and sewage plants, as it seeks to help businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Trump administration officials. From a report: The biggest change likely will be to waive or postpone coming deadlines to switch to cleaner-burning summer-grade gasoline, according to administration officials and a business lobbyist. Several states have already issued waivers or said they won't enforce them, an analyst said. And many have asked EPA to step in to clarify nationally, according to one administration official. The EPA is preparing to act following an onslaught of requests from businesses and state regulators seeking help, according to the administration officials, who expect the decision to be announced this week. Any action is expected to be scrutinized by environmental groups concerned that the EPA and business groups will take advantage of the situation to skirt environmental regulations. Under President Trump, the EPA has moved to amend environmental policies that the White House views as overly harmful to business.

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Apple Blocks Third-Party Cookies in Safari

Wed, 2020-03-25 14:42
Starting this week, with the release of Safari 13.1 and through updates to the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) privacy feature, Apple now blocks all third-party cookies in Safari by default. From a report: The company's move means that online advertisers and analytics firms cannot use browser cookie files anymore to track users as they visit different sites across the internet. But Apple says the move isn't actually a big deal, since they were already blocking most third-party cookies used for tracking anyway. "It might seem like a bigger change than it is," said John Wilander, an Apple software engineer. "But we've added so many restrictions to ITP since its initial release in 2017 that we are now at a place where most third-party cookies are already blocked in Safari."

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Apple's App Store Rules Limit Rival Gaming Services While Arcade Runs Free

Wed, 2020-03-25 14:01
Video-game fans suddenly have their pick of a huge menu of titles thanks to a raft of new mobile subscription services from Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet's Google and Nvidia. But for the more than 1 billion users of Apple's iPhone and iPad, the only real option is Arcade, the subscription service launched by the company in September. From a report: That's because Apple imposes strict limits on the kinds of apps users can access on its devices. For example, App Store guidelines ban services that rely on streaming from the cloud. Arcade adheres to the requirements, in part, because it's included as a feature within the App Store itself. This is the latest example of what critics say are arbitrary rules favoring Apple's own apps at the expense of similar software from outside developers. "There's a fraught relationship between developers and Apple precisely because of rules like this," said David Barnard, a longtime independent developer and advocate at RevenueCat. "In some ways, I am incredibly grateful to their marketplace for helping me make millions of dollars I wouldn't have made without it. On the flip side, them being so heavy handed at times does kill apps and does cause developers to miss out on other potential revenue." If software developers want to reach as many consumers as possible, they have to be on Apple's iOS. The operating system powers more than 1 billion smartphones and tablets and it's the only way to access the iOS App Store, which accounted for 65% of app spending globally last year, according to Sensor Tower. The Cupertino, California-based company can also make or break mobile gaming businesses: More than half of the $62 billion spent on smartphone gaming last year happened on Apple products.

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Hackers Hijack Routers' DNS To Spread Malicious COVID-19 Apps

Wed, 2020-03-25 13:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: A new cyber attack is hijacking router's DNS settings so that web browsers display alerts for a fake COVID-19 information app from the World Health Organization that is the Oski information-stealing malware. For the past five days, people have been reporting their web browser would open on its own and display a message prompting them to download a 'COVID-19 Inform App' that was allegedly from the World Health Organization (WHO). After further research, it was determined that these alerts were being caused by an attack that changed the DNS servers configured on their home D-Link or Linksys routers to use DNS servers operated by the attackers. As most computers use the IP address and DNS information provided by their router, the malicious DNS servers were redirecting victims to malicious content under the attacker's control. "If your browser is randomly opening to a page promoting a COVID-19 information app, then you need to login to your router and make sure you configure it to automatically receive its DNS servers from your ISP," the report says. It also recommends you set a strong password for your router and to disable remote administration. "Finally, if you downloaded and installed the COVID-19 app, you should immediately perform a scan on your computer for malware. Once clean, you should change all of the passwords for sites whose credentials are saved in your browser and you should change the passwords for any site that you visited since being infected."

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Venezuela's Flagship Communications Satellite Out of Service and Tumbling

Wed, 2020-03-25 10:00
Venezuela's first and only state-owned communications satellite has been out of service since March 13 when a series of maneuvers left it tumbling in an unusable orbit. SpaceNews reports: The VeneSat-1 satellite, built by China Great Wall Industry Corp. and launched in late 2008 on a 15-year mission to provide television and broadband services to Venezuela, has been stuck for 10 days in an elliptical orbit above the geostationary arc, according to telescopic observations from two U.S. companies that track satellites. VeneSat-1's operator, the Venezuelan space agency ABAE, had issued no status reports on the satellite as of March 23 and could not be reached for comment March 22 or March 23. In January, ABAE said Venezuela and China planned to develop a replacement satellite, VeneSat-2, that would continue service after VeneSat-1 retired. California-based ExoAnalytic Solutions, which operates a network of satellite- and debris-tracking telescopes, spotted a "significant orbit change" for VeneSat-1 on March 13 at 3:15 a.m. Eastern, when the satellite left its position at 78 degrees West longitude over Venezuela, Bill Therien, ExoAnalytic's vice president of engineering, told SpaceNews. Approximately three hours later, the satellite conducted another maneuver that sent it tumbling westward, he said. Telescope observations from ExoAnalytic and Pennsylvania-based AGI show VeneSat-1 tumbling in an elliptical orbit that at its lowest point is 50 kilometers above the geosynchronous arc where most large communications satellites reside. Venesat-1's highest point, or apogee, is roughly 36,300 kilometers -- or about 525 kilometers above the geosynchronous arc, according to the companies. Bob Hall, AGI technical director for space situational awareness, said VeneSat-1 has drifted 30 degrees from its original orbital slot since March 13. If the satellite drifts another 40 degrees, it will be beyond line of sight from Venezuela, complicating any efforts to restore control of the spacecraft unless Venezuela relies on ground stations in other countries. VeneSat-1 will likely be maneuvered into a so-called graveyard orbit around 300 to 500 kilometers above the geosynchronous belt, where inactive or dead satellites are expected to orbit for thousands of years without colliding with active satellites.

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