ARM Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life (Terry Pratchett, Jingo)

Bill Gates Weighs In on US Pandemic Response, Encryption, and Grilling Tech Executives (arstechnica.com)

(Sunday August 09, 2020 @01:34PM (EditorDavid) from the fond-memories dept.)

Bill Gates gave [1]a wide-ranging new interview to Wired's Steven Levy (also republished [2]at Ars Technica .) The interview's first question: as a man who'd been warning about a pandemic for years, are you disappointed with the response of the United States?

> Bill Gates: Yeah. There's three time periods, all of which have disappointments. There is 2015 until this particular pandemic hit. If we had built up the diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccine platforms, and if we'd done the simulations to understand what the key steps were, we'd be dramatically better off. Then there's the time period of the first few months of the pandemic, when the U.S. actually made it harder for the commercial testing companies to get their tests approved, the CDC had this very low volume test that didn't work at first, and they weren't letting people test. The travel ban came too late, and it was too narrow to do anything. Then, after the first few months, eventually we figured out about masks, and that leadership is important... [America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] have basically been muzzled since the beginning. We called the CDC, but they told us we had to talk to the White House a bunch of times. Now they say, "Look, we're doing a great job on testing, we don't want to talk to you." Even the simplest things, which would greatly improve this system, they feel would be admitting there is some imperfection and so they are not interested.

>

> Wired: Do you think it's the agencies that fell down or just the leadership at the top, the White House?

>

> Bill Gates: We can do the postmortem at some point. We still have a pandemic going on, and we should focus on that....

>

> Wired: At this point, are you optimistic?

>

> Bill Gates: Yes. You have to admit there's been trillions of dollars of economic damage done and a lot of debts, but the innovation pipeline on scaling up diagnostics, on new therapeutics, on vaccines is actually quite impressive. And that makes me feel like, for the rich world, we should largely be able to end this thing by the end of 2021, and for the world at large by the end of 2022. That is only because of the scale of the innovation that's taking place...

>

> This disease, from both the animal data and the phase 1 data, seems to be very vaccine preventable.

Gates also believes the government shouldn't allow encryption to hide "lies or fraud or child pornography" on apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp -- prompting the interviewer to ask whether he's talked to his friend Mark Zuckerberg about it. "After I said this publicly, he sent me mail. I like Mark, I think he's got very good values, but he and I do disagree on the trade-offs involved there..."

Gates also thought today's tech executives got off easy with five hours of testifying before a Congressional subcommittee as a group of four. "Jesus Christ, what's the Congress coming to? If you want to give a guy a hard time, give him at least a whole day that he has to sit there on the hot seat by himself! And they didn't even have to get on a plane...!"

Gates added later that "there are a lot of valid issues, and if you're super-successful, the pleasure of going in front of the Congress comes with the territory."



[1] https://www.wired.com/story/bill-gates-on-covid-most-us-tests-are-completely-garbage/

[2] https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/08/bill-gates-on-covid-19-most-tests-are/

Is the US about to Split the Internet? (bbc.com)

(Sunday August 09, 2020 @06:34AM (EditorDavid) from the splinternet dept.)

The BBC reports:

> U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he wants a "clean" internet. What he means by that is he wants to remove Chinese influence, and Chinese companies, from the internet in the U.S.

>

> But critics believe this will bolster [1]a worrying movement towards the breaking up of the global internet .

>

> The so called "splinternet" is generally used when talking about China, and more recently Russia. The idea is that there's nothing inherent or pre-ordained about the internet being global. For governments that want to control what people see on the internet, it makes sense to take ownership of it. The Great Firewall of China is the best example of a nation putting up the internet equivalent of a wall around itself. You won't find a Google search engine or Facebook in China.

>

> What people didn't expect was that the U.S. might follow China's lead.

They're reacting to U.S. president Trump's executive order to [2]block all transactions with TikTok's parent company (starting September 20) to "address the national emergency with respect to the information and communication technology supply chain." An opinion piece in the New York Times calls the move [3]a "foolish and dangerous edict" that's "deeply misguided and unproductive" which suggests that "the United States, like China, no longer believes in a global internet." In the BBC's article Alan Woodward, a security expert at the University of Surrey, calls the U.S. decision "shocking."

"The U.S. government has for a long time criticised other countries for controlling access to the internet⦠and now we see the Americans doing the same thing."



[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53686390

[2] https://yro.slashdot.org/story/20/08/07/0153244/tiktok-ban-trump-will-prohibit-transactions-with-bytedance-beginning-september-20

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/07/opinion/tiktok-wechat-china-trump-executive-order.html

The Workforce Is About to Change Dramatically (theatlantic.com)

(Sunday August 09, 2020 @06:58PM (EditorDavid) from the rethinking-commutes dept.)

"For the first time ever, the world's largest companies are telling hundreds of thousands of workers to stay away from the office for a full year, or longer," notes the Atlantic.

"If, in five years, these edicts have no lingering effects on office culture, that would be awfully strange..."

> Ambitious engineers, media makers, marketers, PR people, and others [1]may be more inclined to strike out on their own , in part because they will, at some point, look around at their living room and realize: I am alone, and I might as well monetize the fact of my independence. A new era of entrepreneurship may be born in America, supercharged by a dash of social-existential angst.

>

> Or, you know, maybe not. If companies find that remote work is a mess, they might decide to prematurely scrap the experiment, like [2]IBM and [3]Yahoo famously did. It is certainly curious that the most prestigious tech companies now proclaiming the future of working from home were, just seven months ago, [4]outfitting their offices with the finest sushi bars, yoga rooms, and massage rooms...

>

> Nothing is certain, and every new trend incurs a backlash. Telepresence could crush some downtown businesses; but cheaper downtown real estate could also lead to a resurgence in interesting new restaurants. Working from home could lead to more free-agent entrepreneurship; but if companies notice that they're bleeding talent, they'll haul their workforces back to headquarters. Still, even a moderate increase in remote work could lead to fundamental changes in our labor force, economy, and politics. Remote workers will spend more money and time inside their houses; they will spend more time with online communities than with colleagues; and many will distribute themselves across the country, rather than feel it necessary to cluster near semi-optional headquarters.



[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/08/just-small-shift-remote-work-could-change-everything/614980/

[2] https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/11/when-working-from-home-doesnt-work/540660/

[3] https://distantjob.com/blog/yeah-but-yahoo-learning-from-remote-works-biggest-fail/

[4] https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/dont-give-up-on-offices-quite-yet.html

Last Fall a Drone Swarm Surveilled America's Largest Nuclear Reactor -- Twice (forbes.com)

(Sunday August 09, 2020 @12:34AM (EditorDavid) from the flying-by-night dept.)

America's Nuclear Regulatory Commission honored a document request from a UFO group — which has inadvertently revealed a very real incident last fall at America's largest nuclear reactor in Arizona, reports Forbes:

> Documents gained under the Freedom of Information Act show how [1]a number of small drones flew around a restricted area at Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant on two successive nights last September. Security forces watched, but were apparently helpless to act as the drones carried out their incursions before disappearing into the night. Details of the event gives some clues as to just what they were doing, but who sent them remains a mystery...

>

> "Officer noticed several drones (5 or 6) flying over the site. The drones are circling the 3 unit site inside and outside the Protected Area. The drones have flashing red and white lights and are estimated to be 200 to 300 feet above the site. It was reported the drones had spotlights on while approaching the site that they turned off when they entered the Security Owner Controlled Area..."

>

> The drones departed at 22:30, eighty minutes after they were first spotted. The security officers estimated that they were over two feet in diameter. This indicates that they were not simply consumer drones like the popular DJI Phantom, which have a flight endurance of about half an hour and is about a foot across, but something larger and more capable. The Lockheed Martin Indago, a [2]military-grade quadcopter recently sold [3]to the Swiss Army , has a flight endurance of about seventy minutes and is more than two feet across. At several thousand dollars apiece minimum, these are far less expendable than consumer drones costing a few hundred. All of which suggests this was not just a prank.

>

> The next night events were repeated...

The article notes that two months later America's Nuclear Regulatory Commission "decided [4]not to require drone defenses at nuclear plants , asserting that small drones could not damage a reactor or steal nuclear material. It is highly likely that such sites are still vulnerable to drone overflights."

The article also notes that this reactor supplies electricity to major American cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, and Tucson.



[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidhambling/2020/07/30/drone-swarm-invaded-palo-verde-nuclear-power-plant/

[2] https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/products/indago-vtol-uav.html

[3] https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/lockheed-martin-sells-indago-3-uav-to-switzerland

[4] https://www.ucsusa.org/about/news/nrc-decision-leaves-nuclear-plants-vulnerable-terrorist-drones

Researchers Build a Low-Power Radar on a CMOS ChIp (electronicsweekly.com)

(Sunday August 09, 2020 @06:34AM (EditorDavid) from the radio-detection-and-ranging dept.)

The international R&D hub Imec has made a millimetre-wave [1]motion detection radar integrated in a standard 28nm CMOS chip , reports Electronics Weekly, adding that it consumes just 62 mW,"making the sensor integrable into small, battery-powered devices..."

> The radar operates in the frequency band around 60 GHz, a license-free ISM band that can be used for new IoT applications for industrial and medical purposes... "Being extremely compact and energy efficient, the 60 GHz radar system can be integrated in smart health devices such as smartphones, health monitoring systems or wearables", says Barend van Liempd, program manager radar at imec.

>

> "The radar enables such devices to sense their surroundings, which will shape the way in which we control and use these devices. For instance, a phone with integrated radar on your bedside table can monitor sleep quality by contactless tracking of breathing rate and heart rate variability. The radar is as well suited for classification of other physical activities, which will open a new range of smart applications in the context of personalized health, baby monitoring, sports, elderly care, patient monitoring, nurse efficiency or worker safety."

>

> "Our prototype shows that radar technology is becoming ready for the next big step: the use in battery-powered devices. Now, we are looking for companies that want to exploit these ideas to enter the market by realizing new radar solutions", says Kathleen Philips, Director IoT at imec.

"It is thought to be useful for detecting finger and hand motion, heartbeat and a person's speed and position..." writes [2]Joe2020 , "but I'm sure Slashdot readers can think of a variety of other uses for it."



[1] https://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/business/753859-2020-08/

[2] https://slashdot.org/~Joe2020

Study: Saving Pandas Led To the Downfall of Other Animals (upi.com)

(Sunday August 09, 2020 @06:34AM (EditorDavid) from the sad,-pandas dept.)

UPI reports:

> Efforts to save the giant panda from extinction [1]have come at the expense of other large mammals , a new study released Monday by the science journal Nature Ecology and Evolution said...

>

> Since the giant panda reserves were set up in China during the 1960s, leopards have disappeared from 81% of reserves, snow leopards from 38%, wolves from 77% and Asian wild dogs from 95%.

>

> Researchers found with the dwindling numbers of leopards and wolves, deer and livestock have mostly [2]roamed free without a threat from natural predators , causing damage to natural habitats for surrounding wildlife, [3]including the pandas .



[1] https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2020/08/03/Study-Saving-pandas-led-to-downfall-of-other-animals/3281596478033/

[2] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-020-1260-0.epdf?sharing_token=GTy_b-NucTsh2E1Mlxq_LtRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0M_VWhFurCXJgl4MFW_OBP4xg2E6LdnLsN0_1MEIUVeuJhnStc7XTKotqYg4EVfHVXByIDqpQAwh198JfpiFm0Ta213BETrZxHM7byZ224LuQES56kp8e5BjPbqDfewdZA40_FDnnQssfW33oSJn1-dx3EkSFOHosbjq440ENIAZFiHsliCeiv91vAzYWtHHA42mckIIgNP-mojTqSN9DpeSZEi34Kmt02l33g5ZjOkU_gat0S6h3-we4wDL8eHwjr24_5nQg0st239jL1W6yxc11jAFiN2S4CZJkkzgxwyww%3D%3D&tracking_referrer=www.theguardian.com

[3] https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53616593

How an Automated Mistake by Apple Killed All of a Mac Developer's Apps (9to5mac.com)

(Sunday August 09, 2020 @06:34AM (EditorDavid) from the thinking-different dept.)

Long-time Slashdot reader [1]philml writes:

> Popular Mac developer Charlie Monroe woke up to find that none of his users could run his software. Instead, Mac OS was giving a message saying that it "will damage your computer".

Monroe described the ensuing hassle in a blog post titled " [2]A day without business ." In a later update he added that Apple "has called and apologized for the complications. The issue was caused by my account being erroneously flagged by automated processes."

But 9 to 5 Mac describes how Apple's mistake affected Monroe's apps:

> Users were unable to open them, and a message flagged them as malware, [3]advising users to delete the apps to avoid damaging their Macs .

>

> Developer Charlie Monroe, creator of the Downie video downloader, among other apps, said that Apple didn't even send him a message saying it had happened, and for several hours he didn't know whether he still had a business or not⦠He said that it took Apple 24 hours to partly fix the problem, removing the flags, though that still left him having to recompile, re-sign, and redistribute everything... Most app users will never know the story behind this, only that they bought an app, Apple told them it was malware, and they deleted it as instructed.

>

> It also seems unlikely to help Apple's antitrust battles, where many are arguing that the company holds too much power over users and developers alike.



[1] https://slashdot.org/~philml

[2] https://blog.charliemonroe.net/a-day-without-business/

[3] https://9to5mac.com/2020/08/05/mistake-by-apple/

Could Spacecraft of the Future Be Powered By 'Lattice Confinement' Nuclear Fusion? (ieee.org)

(Sunday August 09, 2020 @01:34PM (EditorDavid) from the better-than-dilithium dept.)

[1]schwit1 writes:

> Researchers at NASA's Glenn Research Center have now demonstrated [2]a method of inducing nuclear fusion without building a massive [3]stellarator or [4]tokamak . In fact, all they needed was a bit of metal, some hydrogen, and an electron accelerator.

>

> The team believes that their method, called lattice confinement fusion, could be a potential new power source for deep space missions. They have published their results in [5]two [6]papers in [7]Physical Review C ...

>

> "What we did was not cold fusion," says Lawrence Forsley, a senior lead experimental physicist for the project. Cold fusion, the idea that fusion can occur at relatively low energies in room-temperature materials, is viewed with skepticism by the vast majority of physicists. Forsley stresses this is hot fusion, but "We've come up with a new way of driving it."

The article contains a good description of the technical details, and end by summarizing the hopes of the project's analytical physicist and nuclear diagnostics lead. "This method of fusion offers a potentially reliable source for craft operating in places where solar panels may not be useable, for example.

"And of course, what works in space could be used on Earth."



[1] https://slashdot.org/~schwit1

[2] https://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/nuclear/nuclear-fusiontokamak-not-included

[3] https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/10/bizarre-reactor-might-save-nuclear-fusion

[4] https://www.iter.org/mach/Tokamak

[5] https://journals.aps.org/prc/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevC.101.044610

[6] https://journals.aps.org/prc/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevC.101.044609

[7] https://journals.aps.org/prc/

CNO Neutrinos From the Sun Are Finally Detected (syfy.com)

(Sunday August 09, 2020 @06:34AM (BeauHD) from the one-century-later dept.)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from SyFy:

> For the first time, scientists have [1]detected neutrinos coming from the Sun's core that got their start via the CNO process , an until-now theorized type of stellar nuclear fusion. [...] [2]The Borexino neutrino observatory is 1400 meters under the rock below the Gran Sasso mountain in Italy. It has an 8.5 meter wide nylon balloon filled with 280 tons of pseudocumene, surrounded by a tank of water, surrounded by over 2200 very sensitive photon detectors. They turned everything on, then waited. Over the course of July 2016 - February 2020 (1072 days), they painstakingly recorded all the events, and had to go through heroic efforts to prevent all manners of other reactions that also create little light flashes from interfering with their experiment. They also had to distinguish proton-proton chain neutrinos from ones made in the CNO cycle, but the neutrinos have different energies, which makes it possible to separate them out. They just [3]announced their results : They detected the CNO neutrinos! About 20 per day interacted with the pseudocumene -- 20 per day, when sextillions of them had passed through! -- about what you'd expect from theory.

>

> This is an important discovery for a lot of reasons. For one thing, while the proton-proton chain dominates in the Sun, in stars with more than about 1.3 times the Sun's mass the CNO cycle dominates (it kicks in strongly at higher temperatures), so knowing how it works in the Sun tells us about other stars. Also, the presence of heavier elements (what astronomers misleadingly call metals, meaning any element heavier than hydrogen and helium) can affect the fusion rate in the Sun's CNO cycle, and the amount of these metals isn't perfectly well known; different methods to measure them yield slightly different amounts, but enough to mess up what we know about the fusion in the core. This experiment agrees with ones that find a lower metal content. That has a ripple effect on a lot of other ideas, including details on how we think the Sun and planets formed, how the Sun ages, and how it will die. All that, from less than two dozen neutrinos a day, while countless more go undetected.



[1] https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/after-nearly-a-century-elusive-cno-neutrinos-are-finally-seen-from-the-sun

[2] https://www.lngs.infn.it/en/borexino

[3] https://arxiv.org/pdf/2006.15115.pdf

Atlassian Tells Employees They Can Work From Home Forever (cnbc.com)

(Sunday August 09, 2020 @12:34AM (BeauHD) from the work-from-home dept.)

Software company Atlassian is telling employees that [1]they don't have to return to its offices , unless they want to use them. CNBC reports:

> "We will seek out amazing, diverse talent unbounded by the physical footprint of our offices," the company said in an internal blog post published on Wednesday. "We will continue to compete for talent in the global hubs, and we will be able to create opportunities for those in places we would have previously not been able to reach." Atlassian's products help software developers and others keep track of code, projects, issues and other work. One of Atlassian's competitors, privately held GitLab, has never had an office despite having grown past 1,000 people.

>

> Atlassian won't be closing its offices, though. All of its locations, including its headquarters in Sydney, Australia, as well as locations in San Francisco, Amsterdam, India, Japan, the Philippines and Turkey, will remain open, and the company expects to adjust them so they can be used efficiently. Employees will be welcome to return to the offices should they want to use them. Some details of Atlassian's plan have yet to be finalized. The company hasn't decided how compensation might change for employees who relocate to other regions, nor has it figured out the right number of people to work in each time zone to ensure a sufficient amount of overlap, the person said. Atlassian will measure outcomes, rather than the number of hours each person spends working, according to the blog post.



[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/07/atlassian-tells-employees-they-can-work-from-home-indefinitely.html

Facebook Removes QAnon Conspiracy Group With 200,000 Members (bbc.com)

(Saturday August 08, 2020 @07:34PM (BeauHD) from the one-down-many-more-to-go dept.)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC:

> Facebook has [1]deleted a large group dedicated to sharing and discussing QAnon conspiracy theories . QAnon is a wide-ranging, unfounded conspiracy theory that a "deep state" network of powerful government, business and media figures are waging a secret war against Donald Trump. A Facebook spokeswoman said the group was removed for "repeatedly posting content that violated our policies." The deleted Facebook group, called Official Q/Qanon, had nearly 200,000 members. There are, however, many other QAnon groups that are currently still active on the platform. [2]Reuters reports that Official Q/QAnon "crossed the line" on bullying, harassment, hate speech and the sharing of potentially harmful misinformation.



[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53692545

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-qanon/facebook-removes-one-of-largest-qanon-conspiracy-groups-after-false-posts-idUSKCN2530H6

Microsoft Signals Renewed Interest In Windows With Latest Reshuffle (theverge.com)

(Saturday August 08, 2020 @07:34PM (BeauHD) from the back-to-its-roots dept.)

Microsoft is making some significant changes to the way it runs its Windows organization this week, [1]signaling a renewed focus on the operating system that made its name . The Verge reports:

> The software giant placed Surface chief [2]Panos Panay in charge of Windows earlier this year , and is now reshuffling parts of that team. It follows Microsoft's decision to [3]slice Windows into two parts more than two years ago after the departure of former Windows chief Terry Myerson. Microsoft moved core Windows development to a cloud and AI team (Azure), and created a new group to work on Windows 10 "experiences" like apps, the Start menu, and new features.

>

> Now, Microsoft is moving parts of Windows development back under Panos Panay's control. Specifically, that means the Windows fundamentals and developer experience teams have been returned to what we traditionally call the Windows team. It's an admission that the big Windows split didn't work quite as planned. [...] [4]Thurrott.com has obtained an internal memo from Panos Panay that goes into detail on the changes being made here. While some core parts of Windows, particularly the engineering side, will stay with the Azure division, Microsoft's reshuffle is focused on cleaning up Windows to ship and update it reliably. The changes also align Microsoft's Project Reunion app work, bringing win32 and UWP apps closer together, with the Windows team.



[1] https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/7/21358339/microsoft-windows-reorg-2020-panos-panay-windows-development

[2] https://tech.slashdot.org/story/20/02/05/1820209/microsoft-to-combine-its-windows-client-and-hardware-teams-under-chief-product-officer-panos-panay

[3] https://tech.slashdot.org/story/18/03/29/150257/microsofts-longtime-windows-boss-terry-myerson-to-leave-the-company-amid-a-huge-executive-reorganization

[4] https://www.thurrott.com/windows/windows-10/238762/windows-rocked-by-major-reorg

Coronavirus Clobbers Uber, Leading To $1.8 Billion Quarterly Loss (arstechnica.com)

(Saturday August 08, 2020 @01:34PM (BeauHD) from the rough-year dept.)

In the second quarter of 2020, Uber [1]announced that its ride-hailing business [2]plunged by 75 percent compared with a year earlier -- from $12.2 billion to $3 billion. "That was offset somewhat by rapid growth in Uber's delivery business," reports Ars Technica. "Delivery bookings more than doubled from $3.4 billion to $7 billion." From the report:

> The company lost $1.8 billion in the second quarter on a GAAP basis. Ignoring one-time charges, Uber has been losing around $1 billion per quarter for the last couple of years. Prior to the pandemic, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was bullish about the company's financial future. After reporting a $1.1 billion loss for the fourth quarter of 2019, Khosrowshahi said in February that he expected Uber to start generating a profit by the end of 2020.

>

> At the time, Uber's rides business was (just barely) profitable. But it was being dragged down by big losses from Uber Eats, where Uber was spending heavily in pursuit of growth. Uber expected the rides business to become more profitable over time, while losses in the delivery business would decline as growth slowed. But then the coronavirus hit, and Uber was forced to throw those projections out the window. In May, Uber laid off 3,700 people in an effort to contain mounting losses. [...] Fortunately, Uber is in no danger of running out of money; it has almost $8 billion in cash and short-term investments. It could easily burn cash at this rate for another year.



[1] https://investor.uber.com/news-events/news/press-release-details/2020/Uber-Announces-Results-for-Second-Quarter-2020/default.aspx

[2] https://arstechnica.com/cars/2020/08/coronavirus-clobbers-uber-leading-to-1-8-billion-quarterly-loss/

Microsoft Accuses Apple of Treating Gaming Apps Differently (appleinsider.com)

(Saturday August 08, 2020 @01:34PM (BeauHD) from the shots-fired dept.)

Hour after Apple [1]explained why Microsoft's xCloud wouldn't be coming to iOS, Microsoft shot back and [2]accused the company of "consistently treating gaming apps differently ." AppleInsider reports:

> On Wednesday, Microsoft ended its xCloud TestFlight program on iOS and said that the service would not be arriving on iPhone and iPad. In a statement on Thursday, Apple explained that it bars apps which rely on cloud streaming, per its App Store guidelines. Microsoft shot back at the Cupertino tech giant later on Thursday, issuing a [3]statement to CNET that accused Apple of treating gaming apps unfairly compared to other apps on its app marketplace.

>

> "Apple stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny customers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "And, it consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content." Microsoft admitted that it doesn't currently have a path to bring its gaming service to the App Store. However, it also said that "we are committed to finding a path to bring cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to the iOS platform." "We believe that the customer should be at the heart of the gaming experience, and gamers tell us they want to play, connect, and share anywhere, no matter where they are," Microsoft added.



[1] https://apple.slashdot.org/story/20/08/06/2326239/apple-confirms-cloud-gaming-services-like-xcloud-and-stadia-violate-app-store-guidelines

[2] https://appleinsider.com/articles/20/08/07/microsoft-fires-back-at-apple-accusing-it-of-treating-gaming-apps-differently

[3] https://twitter.com/iansherr/status/1291531485275656193

Firefox Gets Fix For Evil Cursor Attack (zdnet.com)

(Saturday August 08, 2020 @01:34PM (msmash) from the fixing-things dept.)

Firefox has fixed a bug that was being exploited in the wild by tech support scammers to [1]create artificial mouse cursors and prevent users from easily leaving malicious sites. From a report:

> The bug was discovered being abused online by UK cyber-security firm Sophos and reported to Mozilla earlier this year. A bugfix was provided and has been live in Firefox since version 79.0, released last week. he bug is a classic "evil cursor" attack and works because modern browsers allow site owners to modify how the mouse cursor looks while users are navigating their websites. This type of customization might look useless, but it's often used for browser-based games, browser augmented reality, or browser virtual reality experiences. However, custom cursors have been a major problem for the regular web. In evil cursor attacks, malicious websites tamper with cursor settings in order to modify where the actual cursor is visible on screen, and where the actual click area is.



[1] https://www.zdnet.com/article/firefox-gets-fix-for-evil-cursor-attack/

Trump Blew Up More Than Just TikTok and WeChat (bloomberg.com)

(Saturday August 08, 2020 @01:34PM (BeauHD) from the cause-and-effect dept.)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg:

> U.S. President Donald Trump's [1]decision to ban dealings with ByteDance , owner of video-sharing sensation TikTok, appears to codify what his administration has already been warning. A second edict targeting messaging app WeChat and its parent, Tencent, seems weirdly overdue. The executive orders issued by the White House go beyond stopping average Americans from becoming unwitting spies for the Communist Party through their postings and data. The implications [2]could hurt not only the Chinese targets, but the U.S. companies they work with , including Apple and Alphabet's Google.

>

> Though TikTok and WeChat have been getting all the recent attention, the orders state that American companies cannot work with ByteDance or Tencent (though an unnamed U.S. official later stated that Tencent transactions were still OK). That clarification notwithstanding, the wording of the orders does imply that regardless of intention such bans could extend further, to include Americans advertising on dozens of products offered by either Chinese company, or to selling them cloud-storage services, or perhaps the most nuclear option: distributing their apps, even within China. [...] Even though Chinese smartphone brands dominate their domestic market, iOS and Android remain the dominant platforms and Apple and Google cover almost the entire global ecosystem with their respective app stores. If they can't do business with ByteDance, for example, even after a [3]TikTok spin off , then the Beijing company might be unable to distribute its own apps, even within China.



[1] https://yro.slashdot.org/story/20/08/07/0153244/tiktok-ban-trump-will-prohibit-transactions-with-bytedance-beginning-september-20

[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/tosv2.html?vid=&uuid=b76dec10-d8eb-11ea-9a69-a312121c71c9&url=L29waW5pb24vYXJ0aWNsZXMvMjAyMC0wOC0wNy90cnVtcC1zLWJhbnMtb24tdGlrdG9rLXdlY2hhdC1jb3VsZC1oaXQtdS1zLXRlY2gtZ2lhbnRzLWluLWNoaW5h

[3] https://news.slashdot.org/story/20/08/03/147204/microsoft-confirms-its-in-talks-to-buy-tiktok-from-bytedance-says-trump-is-on-board

Google Sets Timeline For Deprecating 'Classic' Google Sites (9to5google.com)

(Saturday August 08, 2020 @01:34PM (BeauHD) from the end-of-the-line dept.)

Google has [1]announced that its structured wiki- and webpage-creation tool "Google Sites," which it launched in 2008 after [2]acquiring JotSpot, [3]will be shutting down in 2021 . 9to5Google reports:

> This morning an email was dispatched to "active" users of classic Sites detailing its retirement, which will take place over the next year. The email, which had the subject line "Migrate your classic sites to new Google Sites," headlined that the service will be fully shut down on September 1, 2021. To begin this transition, classic Sites creation will be disabled on November 1, 2020, after which point users will have a little under a year to move to the new Google Sites. Alongside this announcement was the launch of the [4]Classic Sites Manager , which aims to assist in the conversion of classic Sites to new Sites. [A new Google Sites was introduced to the masses to replace the withering shell of classic Sites and become a part of G Suite -- allowing for easy integration with Docs, Sheets, and Slides.] It allows you to convert, archive, or delete any classic Sites on your account, as well as export a spreadsheet of all your sites to Google Sheets. Users are encouraged to begin their transition today to avoid disruptions in the future.

>

> Additionally, G Suite admins are given a different timeline to transition, according to the [5]G Suite Updates Blog . This modified schedule sees website creation being disabled in May of 2021, followed by the loss of editing capabilities in October, and the complete shutdown of classic Sites in December, at which point you can no longer view any sites that have not transitioned. This transition was originally delayed due to a number of features from classic Sites not being available in the revamped version, which has since been remedied. Any classic Sites that do not transition before the deadline will automatically be archived and saved to the owner's Google Drive. A draft will be created in the new Google Sites to replace it if needed.



[1] https://support.google.com/a/answer/9958187

[2] https://tech.slashdot.org/story/08/02/28/1852235/jotspot-relaunched-as-google-sites

[3] https://9to5google.com/2020/08/06/google-sets-timeline-for-deprecating-classic-google-sites/

[4] https://sites.google.com/classicsitesmanager

[5] https://gsuiteupdates.googleblog.com/2020/08/transition-classic-to-new-google-sites.html

Toshiba Formally and Finally Exits Laptop Business (theregister.com)

(Saturday August 08, 2020 @01:34PM (BeauHD) from the end-of-an-era dept.)

The Register reports that Toshiba has transferred its remaining shares of Dynabook to Sharp, [1]thus ending the company's time as a PC vendor . From the report:

> [...] As the 2000s rolled along Toshiba devices became bland in comparison to the always-impressive ThinkPad and the MacBook Air, while Dell and HP also improved. Toshiba also never really tried to capture consumers' imaginations, which didn't help growth. As the PC market contracted and Lenovo, Dell and HP came to dominate PC sales in the 2010s, Toshiba just became a less likely brand to put on a laptop shopping list.

>

> By 2018 the company saw the writing on the wall and sold its PC business unit to Sharp for a pittance -- just $36 million changed hands - but retained a 19.9 percent share of the company with an option in Sharp's favor to buy that stock. Sharp quickly renamed the business to "Dynabook," a product name Toshiba had used in Japan, and set about releasing new models and reviving the brand. Which brings us to June 30th, 2020, when Sharp exercised its option to acquire the 19.9 percent of Dynabook shares it did not already own. On Tuesday, Toshiba transferred those shares and announced the transaction on Thursday.



[1] https://www.theregister.com/2020/08/07/toshiba_sells_last_dynabook_shares/

A Private Equity Firm Bought Ancestry, and Its Trove of DNA, for $4.7B (cnn.com)

(Saturday August 08, 2020 @06:00AM (msmash) from the things-change dept.)

The genealogy company Ancestry has been [1]acquired by investment firm Blackstone for $4.7 billion , changing ownership of the company and its trove of user-submitted DNA from a set of investment firms to another private equity firm. From a report:

> The announcement was made in a press release published earlier this week by Blackstone, which shared it had "reached a definitive agreement to acquire Ancestry from Silver Lake, GIC, Spectrum Equity, Permira, and other equity holders for a total enterprise value of $4.7 billion." Ancestry is known for its genealogy and home DNA testing services. According to its website, the company has 3 million paying subscribers, 27 billion records, and 100 million family trees. The website also says that over 18 million people have been DNA tested through the company.

>

> "To be crystal clear, Blackstone will not have access to user data and we are deeply committed to ensuring strong consumer privacy protections at the company," a spokesperson for Blackstone told Motherboard in an email. "We will not be sharing user DNA and family tree records with our portfolio companies." A spokesperson from Ancestry also said the company's relationship with its users would remain the same.



[1] https://edition.cnn.com/2020/08/06/tech/facebook-work-from-home/index.html

Government's PACER Fees Are Too High, Federal Circuit Says (bloomberglaw.com)

(Saturday August 08, 2020 @06:00AM (BeauHD) from the too-damn-high dept.)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg Law:

> The U.S. government [1]charges too much for access to an electronic database of federal court records , the Federal Circuit ruled in a decision curbing a revenue stream the court system uses to help fund other programs. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a lower court's decision that the government was not authorized under federal law to spend $192 million in Public Access to Court Records system fees on court technology projects. The lower court "got it just right" when it limited the government's use of PACER revenues to the costs of operating the system, the court said in a precedential [2]opinion Thursday.

>

> "We agree with plaintiffs and amici that the First Amendment stakes here are high," the court said. But it said it doesn't foresee the lower court's interpretation "as resulting in a level of user fees that will significantly impede public access to courts." The ruling is a win for public access to court information, as PACER fees will go down if the ruling withstands a possible government appeal. But access still won't be free, despite calls for the government to stop charging for it. The Federal Circuit said it was up to Congress to decide whether to require free access. Challengers said PACER fees were too high, while the government said the middle ground reached by the lower court made the fees too low. Fees for downloading a copy of a filing run 10 cents per page, up to $3 per document. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts collected more than $145 million in fees in 2014 alone, according to the complaint in the case. Under a 2020 change to the fee waiver rules, about 75% of users pay nothing each quarter.



[1] https://news.bloomberglaw.com/white-collar-and-criminal-law/federal-circuit-affirms-limits-on-how-government-uses-pacer-fees

[2] https://www.bloomberglaw.com/public/document/NVLSPvUSDocketNo1901081FedCirOct162018CourtDocket/1?doc_id=X24QQ92596R872OKH5GAGI4TJ2I

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