Tech News

OnePlus recruits Hasselblad for 3-year smartphone imaging deal

Hardware - Posted On:2021-03-08 19:00:00 Source: techcrunch

Imaging has long been the primary battlefield on which the smartphone battles are waged. It makes sense. The thing about smartphones in 2021 is that they’re mostly very good. Sure, there are differentiators, but if you spend a decent amount on a device from any major manufacturer, you’re probably going to get a pretty good […]

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OpenAI's State-of-the-Art Machine Vision AI Fooled By Handwritten Notes

slashdot - Posted On:2021-03-08 18:44:59 Source: slashdot

Researchers from machine learning lab OpenAI have discovered that their state-of-the-art computer vision system can be deceived by tools no more sophisticated than a pen and a pad. The Verge reports: As illustrated in the image above, simply writing down the name of an object and sticking it on another can be enough to trick the software into misidentifying what it sees. "We refer to these attacks as typographic attacks," write OpenAI's researchers in a blog post. "By exploiting the model's ability to read text robustly, we find that even photographs of hand-written text can often fool the model." They note that such attacks are similar to "adversarial images" that can fool commercial machine vision systems, but far simpler to produce. [T]he danger posed by this specific attack is, at least for now, nothing to worry about. The OpenAI software in question is an experimental system named CLIP that isn't deployed in any commercial product. Indeed, the very nature of CLIP's unusual machine learning architecture created the weakness that enables this attack to succeed. CLIP is intended to explore how AI systems might learn to identify objects without close supervision by training on huge databases of image and text pairs. In this case, OpenAI used some 400 million image-text pairs scraped from the internet to train CLIP, which was unveiled in January. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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SpaceX plans Starlink broadband for trucks, ships, and planes [Updated]

Biz & IT - Posted On:2021-03-08 18:29:59 Source: arstechnica

Update 6 pm EST: Although a SpaceX filing said that Starlink terminals could be deployed "on passenger cars," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk indicated on Twitter today that passenger cars are not in the plan. "Not connecting Tesla cars to Starlink, as our terminal is much too big. This is for aircraft, ships, large trucks & RVs," he wrote.

Original story 4:47 pm EST (with some edits to reflect Musk's tweet):

SpaceX on Friday asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to deploy Starlink satellite broadband to moving vehicles.

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SpaceX plans Starlink broadband for trucks, boats, and planes [Updated]

Biz & IT - Posted On:2021-03-08 18:14:59 Source: arstechnica

Update at 6pm ET: Although a SpaceX filing said that Starlink terminals could be deployed "on passenger cars," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk indicated on Twitter today that passenger cars are not in the plan. "Not connecting Tesla cars to Starlink, as our terminal is much too big. This is for aircraft, ships, large trucks & RVs," he wrote.

Original story follows:

SpaceX on Friday asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to deploy Starlink satellite broadband to moving vehicles.

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PayPal To Acquire Cryptocurrency Security Startup Curv

slashdot - Posted On:2021-03-08 17:59:59 Source: slashdot

PayPal has announced that it plans to acquire Curv, a cryptocurrency startup based in Tel Aviv, Israel. TechCrunch reports: Curv is a cryptocurrency security company that helps you store your crypto assets securely. The company operates a cloud-based service that lets you access your crypto wallets without any hardware device. Curv also lets you set up sophisticated policies so that the new intern cannot withdraw crypto assets without some sort of approval chain. Similarly, you can create allow lists so that regular transactions can go through more easily. Behind the scenes, Curv uses multi-party computation to handle private keys. When you create a wallet, cryptographic secrets are generated on your device and on Curv's servers. Whenever you're trying to initiate a transaction, multiple secrets are used to generate a full public and private key. Secrets are rotated regularly and you can't do anything with just one secret. If somebody steals an unsecured laptop, a hacker cannot access crypto funds with the information stored on this device alone. PayPal says that the Curv team will join the cryptocurrency group within PayPal. Terms of the deal are undisclosed and the transaction should close at some point during the first half of 2021. Calcalist reported that PayPal was paying between $200 million and $300 million for the acquisition. A person close to the company says that the transaction was under $200 million. I guess we'll find out what happened exactly in the next earnings release. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Headphones without headphones: We test Lucyd Lyte Bluetooth sunglasses

Tech - Posted On:2021-03-08 17:45:00 Source: arstechnica

Lucyd Lyte is a pair of $150 sunglasses which includes speakers and a mic, suitable for making phone calls or listening to podcasts. This isn't a category of device I was aware of at all before a PR rep reached out to offer a review unit—but once I knew it was a thing, I very much wanted to test it.

The Wayfarer style that I tested is a neutral, unremarkable style unlikely to get much attention whether negative or positive. They look nicer than gas station sunglasses but without any particular style cue to lead a viewer into thinking they're an expensive designer brand. There's no visual clue about the onboard audio, either—the frames are a touch on the thick side, but unlike Bose Frames, there's no telltale shape to give the extra functionality away.

Lucyd Lyte paired with my Pixel 2XL phone quickly and easily. The instructions recommend a two-hour initial charging period; when factory-new and after the initial charging period, the phones are both on and in pairing mode—all you need to do is open the pairing menu in your phone and select "Lucyd Lyte."

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Google tells harassment victims to take “medical leave,” report finds

Biz & IT - Posted On:2021-03-08 17:45:00 Source: arstechnica

A new report alleges that Google employees who report experiencing gender or racial harassment or discrimination routinely get told to take "medical leave" and seek mental health treatment—only to be shoved aside when they try to come back.

Nearly a dozen current and former Google employees told NBC News that company HR told instructed to seek mental health treatment or take medical leave "after colleagues made comments about their skin color or Black hairstyles, or asked if they were sexually interested in their teammates." Another dozen current and former Google employees told NBC the practice is common within the company.

"I can think of 10 people that I know of in the last year that have gone on mental health leave because of the way they were treated," one former Google employee told NBC News. He himself had taken medical leave "after he said he had numerous unproductive conversations with human resources about how his colleagues discussed race."

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Headphones without headphones—we test Lucyd Lyte Bluetooth sunglasses

Tech - Posted On:2021-03-08 17:14:59 Source: arstechnica

Lucyd Lyte is a pair of $150 sunglasses which includes speakers and mic suitable for use in making phone calls or listening to podcasts. This isn't a category of device I was aware of at all before a PR rep reached out to offer a review unit—but once I knew it was a thing, I very much wanted to test it.

The Wayfarer style that I tested is a neutral, unremarkable style unlikely to get much attention whether negative or positive. They look nicer than gas station sunglasses but without any particular style cue to lead a viewer into thinking they're an expensive designer brand. There's no visual cue to the onboard audio, either—the frames are a touch on the thick side, but unlike Bose Frames there's no telltale shape to give the extra functionality away.

Lucyd Lyte paired with my Pixel 2XL phone quickly and easily. The instructions recommend a two-hour initial charging period; when factory-new and after the initial charging period, the phones are both on and in pairing mode—all you need to do is open the pairing menu in your phone and select "Lucyd Lyte."

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Tesla Is Plugging a Secret Mega-Battery Into the Texas Grid

hardware - Posted On:2021-03-08 17:14:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Elon Musk is getting into the Texas power market, with previously unrevealed construction of a gigantic battery connected to an ailing electric grid that nearly collapsed last month. The move marks Tesla's first major foray into the epicenter of the U.S. energy economy. A Tesla subsidiary registered as Gambit Energy Storage LLC is quietly building a more than 100 megawatt energy storage project in Angleton, Texas, a town roughly 40 miles south of Houston. A battery that size could power about 20,000 homes on a hot summer day. Workers at the site kept equipment under cover and discouraged onlookers, but a Tesla logo could be seen on a worker's hard hat and public documents helped confirm the company's role. Property records on file with Brazoria County show Gambit shares the same address as a Tesla facility near the company's auto plant in Fremont, California. A filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lists Gambit as a Tesla subsidiary. According to a document on the city of Angleton's website, the installation will use lithium iron phosphate batteries that are expected to last 10 to 20 years. The document says that it will generate around $1 million in property tax revenue for the city and the site will be unmanned but remotely monitored. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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SpaceX plans Starlink broadband for cars, boats, and planes

Biz & IT - Posted On:2021-03-08 16:59:59 Source: arstechnica

SpaceX on Friday asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to deploy Starlink satellite broadband to passenger cars and other moving vehicles.

The application describes SpaceX's plans for Earth Stations in Motion (ESIMs) for automobiles, ships, and aircraft. SpaceX said it is "seek[ing] authority to deploy and operate these earth stations... throughout the United States and its territories... in the territorial waters of the United States and throughout international waters worldwide, and... on US-registered aircraft operating worldwide and non-US-registered aircraft operating in US airspace."

"Granting this application would serve the public interest by authorizing a new class of ground-based components for SpaceX's satellite system that will expand the range of broadband capabilities available to moving vehicles throughout the United States and to moving vessels and aircraft worldwide," SpaceX told the FCC. Internet users are no longer "willing to forego connectivity while on the move, whether driving a truck across the country, moving a freighter from Europe to a US port, or while on a domestic or international flight," SpaceX said.

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Waymo Simulated Real-World Crashes To Prove Its Self-Driving Cars Can Prevent Deaths

technology - Posted On:2021-03-08 16:44:59 Source: slashdot

In a bid to prove that its robot drivers are safer than humans, Waymo simulated dozens of real-world fatal crashes that took place in Arizona over nearly a decade. From a report: The Google spinoff discovered that replacing either vehicle in a two-car crash with its robot-guided minivans would nearly eliminate all deaths, according to data it publicized today. The results are meant to bolster Waymo's case that autonomous vehicles operate more safely than human-driven ones. With millions of people dying in auto crashes globally every year, AV operators are increasingly leaning on this safety case to spur regulators to pass legislation allowing more fully autonomous vehicles on the road. But that case has been difficult to prove out, thanks to the very limited number of autonomous vehicles operating on public roads today. To provide more statistical support for its argument, Waymo has turned to counterfactuals, or "what if?" scenarios, meant to showcase how its robot vehicles would react in real-world situations. Last year, the company published 6.1 million miles of driving data in 2019 and 2020, including 18 crashes and 29 near-miss collisions. In those incidents where its safety operators took control of the vehicle to avoid a crash, Waymo's engineers simulated what would have happened had the driver not disengaged the vehicle's self-driving system to generate a counterfactual. The company has also made some of its data available to academic researchers. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Microsoft 365 adds 'External' email tags for increased security

Security - Posted On:2021-03-08 16:30:00 Source: bleepingcomputer

Microsoft is working on boosting Exchange Online phishing protection capabilities by adding support for external email message tags to its cloud-based email service. [...]

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New Sarbloh ransomware supports Indian farmers' protest

Security - Posted On:2021-03-08 16:30:00 Source: bleepingcomputer

A new ransomware known as Sarbloh encrypts your files while at the same time delivering a message supporting the protests of Indian farmers. [...]

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Acura’s redesigned MDX SUV returns to the brand’s roots

Cars - Posted On:2021-03-08 16:30:00 Source: arstechnica

Now must be an interesting time—in the Pratchettian sense—to be a car maker. All you want to do is sell vehicles, but there are economic downturns and the occasional pandemic to factor in. Around the world, climate change policies are heavily favoring electric-powered machines, at least in Europe and China, and a Californian upstart has embarrassed all the usual players in the process. And on top of that, all your customers are bored with the cars they used to buy—everything has to be a crossover or SUV, preferably with Wi-Fi.

In Acura's case, the company has had to deal with all of the above while going through something like a midlife crisis. After decades competing for sales with Lexus and Infiniti, Honda's North American spinoff decided to engage in some soul-searching to see whether that's really where its effort should be spent. And Acura decided that instead of focusing on luxury, it needed to return to its roots as a performance brand.

In the past, the Japanese luxury brands were seen as a rung below their German competitors, particularly in terms of driving dynamics, mostly due to the preponderance of front-wheel-drive platforms. But if Acura's plan was to dislodge BMW as the driver's choice, the MDX is the SUV to do it. Particularly the version it sent us for 48 hours—a $57,100 2022 MDX A-Spec. A-Spec, in addition to being something to do with Gran Turismo, is also Acura-code for "this is the one that handles really well," a bit like those BMWs you see with M Sport badges.

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The redesigned Acura MDX gains great handling but loses the hybrid

Cars - Posted On:2021-03-08 16:15:00 Source: arstechnica

Now must be an interesting time—in the Pratchettian sense—to be a car maker. All you want to do is sell vehicles, but there are economic downturns and the occasional pandemic to factor in. Around the world, climate change policies are heavily favoring electric-powered machines, at least in Europe and China, and a Californian upstart has embarrassed all the usual players in the process. And on top of that, all your customers are bored with the cars they used to buy—everything has to be a crossover or SUV, preferably with WiFi.

In Acura's case, the company has had to deal with all of the above while going through something like a midlife crisis. After decades competing for sales with Lexus and Infiniti, Honda's North American spinoff decided to engage in some soul-searching to see whether that's really where its effort should be spent. And Acura decided that, instead of focusing on luxury, it needed to return to its roots as a performance brand.

In the past, the Japanese luxury brands were seen as a rung below their German competitors, particularly in terms of driving dynamics, mostly due to the preponderance of front-wheel-drive platforms. But if Acura's plan was to dislodge BMW as the driver's choice, the MDX is the SUV to do it. Particularly the version it sent us for 48 hours—a $57,100 2022 MDX A-Spec. A-Spec, in addition to being something to do with Gran Turismo, is also Acura-code for "this is the one that handles really well," a bit like those BMWs you see with M Sport badges.

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Microsoft-Led Team Retracts Disputed Quantum-Computing Paper

science - Posted On:2021-03-08 15:59:59 Source: slashdot

A Microsoft-led team of physicists has retracted a high-profile 2018 paper that the company touted as a key breakthrough in the creation of a practical quantum computer, a device that promises vast new computing power by tapping quantum mechanics. From a report: The retracted paper came from a lab headed by Microsoft physicist Leo Kouwenhoven at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. It claimed to have found evidence of Majorana particles, long-theorized but never conclusively detected. The elusive entities are at the heart of Microsoft's approach to quantum computing hardware, which lags behind that of others such as IBM and Google. WIRED reported last month that other physicists had questioned the discovery after receiving fuller data from the Delft team. Sergey Frolov, from the University of Pittsburgh, and Vincent Mourik, at University of New South Wales, in Australia, said it appeared that data that cast doubt on the Majorana claim was withheld. Monday, the original authors published a retraction note in the prestigious journal Nature, which published the earlier paper, admitting the whistleblowers were right. Data was "unnecessarily corrected," it says. The note also says that repeating the experiment revealed a miscalibration error that skewed all the original data, making the Majorana sighting a mirage. "We apologize to the community for insufficient scientific rigor in our original manuscript," the researchers wrote. Frolov and Mourik's concerns also triggered an investigation at Delft, which Monday released a report from four physicists not involved in the project. It concludes that the researchers did not intend to mislead but were "caught up in the excitement of the moment," and selected data that fit their own hopes for a major discovery. The report sums up that breach of the norms of the scientific method with a quote from physics Nobel laureate Richard Feynman: "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself -- and you are the easiest person to fool." The Delft lab released raw data from its 2018 experiment Monday. Frolov and Mourik say that it should also release full data from its Majorana hunting project going back until 2010 for others to analyze. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Popular YouTubers Are Building Their Own Sites

news - Posted On:2021-03-08 15:30:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader shares a report: Whether he's showing off astronomically expensive computer gaming hardware or dumpster-diving for the cheapest PC builds possible, Linus Sebastian's videos always strike a chord, and have made him one of the most popular tech personalities on YouTube. But Google-owned YouTube gets most episodes of Linus Tech Tips a week late. Now, they debut on his own site called Floatplane, which attracts a much smaller crowd. "Google has been very, very good to me," Linus says. "But it's a lot of eggs in one basket." And with a staff of two dozen, he cannot rely on the company to continue being what he calls his "benevolent overlord". He is not the only YouTube star looking for alternatives. For a long time there have been tensions between those creating content on YouTube and the company providing the platform, ranging from disputes about ad revenue, to copyright problems, and even rows about the way videos are recommended to people. Many successful YouTubers are now sizeable companies in their own right, and are seeking to safeguard their futures. For the last few years, Linus and co-worker Luke Lafreniere have been investing in their own platform called Floatplane. The pair stress that it is not -- and never will be -- a YouTube competitor. But they hope to provide a platform for existing video creators with a loyal audience, who might be willing to pay a few dollars a month to directly support the video-makers they love. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Hackers hiding Supernova malware in SolarWinds Orion linked to China

Security - Posted On:2021-03-08 15:15:00 Source: bleepingcomputer

Intrusion activity related to the Supernova malware planted on compromised SolarWinds Orion installations exposed on the public internet points to an espionage threat actor based in China. [...]

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Saudi Arabia's Bold Plan To Rule the $700 Billion Hydrogen Market

hardware - Posted On:2021-03-08 15:14:59 Source: slashdot

The kingdom is building a $5 billion plant to make green fuel for export and lessen the country's dependence on petrodollars. From a report: Sun-scorched expanses and steady Red Sea breezes make the northwest tip of Saudi Arabia prime real estate for what the kingdom hopes will become a global hub for green hydrogen. As governments and industries seek less-polluting alternatives to hydrocarbons, the world's biggest crude exporter doesn't want to cede the burgeoning hydrogen business to China, Europe or Australia and lose a potentially massive source of income. So it's building a $5 billion plant powered entirely by sun and wind that will be among the world's biggest green hydrogen makers when it opens in the planned megacity of Neom in 2025. The task of turning a patch of desert the size of Belgium into a metropolis powered by renewable energy falls to Peter Terium, the former chief executive officer of RWE AG, Germany's biggest utility, and clean-energy spinoff Innogy SE. His performance will help determine whether a country dependent on petrodollars can transition into a supplier of non-polluting fuels. "There's nothing I've ever seen or heard of this dimension or challenge," Terium said. "I've been spending the last two years wrapping my mind around 'from scratch,' and now we're very much in execution mode." Hydrogen is morphing from a niche power source -- used in zeppelins, rockets and nuclear weapons == into big business, with the European Union alone committing $500 billion to scale up its infrastructure. Huge obstacles remain to the gas becoming a major part of the energy transition, and skeptics point to Saudi Arabia's weak track record so far capitalizing on what should be a competitive edge in the renewables business, especially solar, where there are many plans but few operational projects. But countries are jostling for position in a future global market, and hydrogen experts list the kingdom as one to watch. The U.K. is hosting 10 projects to heat buildings with the gas, China is deploying fuel-cell buses and commercial vehicles, and Japan is planning to use the gas in steelmaking. U.S. presidential climate envoy John Kerry urged the domestic oil and gas industry to embrace hydrogen's "huge opportunities." That should mean plenty of potential customers for the plant called Helios Green Fuels. Saudi Arabia is setting its sights on becoming the world's largest supplier of hydrogen -- a market that BloombergNEF estimates could be worth as much as $700 billion by 2050. "You're seeing a more diversified portfolio of energy exports that is more resilient," said Shihab Elborai, a Dubai-based partner at consultant Strategy&. "It's diversified against any uncertainties in the rate and timing of the energy transition." Blueprints are being drawn and strategies are being announced, but it's still early days for the industry. Hydrogen is expensive to make without expelling greenhouse gases, difficult to store and highly combustible. Green hydrogen is produced by using renewable energy rather than fossil fuels. The current cost of producing a kilogram is a little under $5, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Programmable optical quantum computer arrives late, steals the show

Science - Posted On:2021-03-08 14:45:00 Source: arstechnica

Excuse me a moment—I am going to be bombastic, overexcited, and possibly annoying. The race is run, and we have a winner in the future of quantum computing. IBM, Google, and everyone else can turn in their quantum computing cards and take up knitting.

OK, the situation isn’t that cut and dried yet, but a recent paper has described a fully programmable chip-based optical quantum computer. That idea presses all my buttons, and until someone restarts me, I will talk of nothing else.

There is no question that quantum computing has come a long way in 20 years. Two decades ago, optical quantum technology looked to be the way forward. Storing information in a photon's quantum states (as an optical qubit) was easy. Manipulating those states with standard optical elements was also easy, and measuring the outcome was relatively trivial. Quantum computing was just a new application of existing quantum experiments, and those experiments had shown the ease of use of the systems and gave optical technologies the early advantage.

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