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28/10/2021 00:36:55  

DeFi protocol Cream Finance suffered yet another hack this year after an exploit stole at least $130 million in what could be one of the largest thefts in decentralized finance. From a report: The attack on the Ethereum-based lending protocol was first reported by The Block Crypto, which cited a tweet by PeckShield highlighting a large flash-loan transaction that carried out the theft. The burgeoning DeFi landscape has drawn in billions of dollars in investor funds, but it has been a frequent target by hackers, with many using flash loans -- a type of uncollateralized lending -- as a way to exploit poorly protected protocols. Cream was involved in similar attacks that stole nearly $38 million in February and almost $19 million in August, according to The Block. Meanwhile, a hacker stole $600 million worth of crypto tokens from the PolyNetwork protocol in August in what is considered to be the largest DeFi hack ever.

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27/10/2021 23:36:50  

McDonald's said Wednesday it has entered a strategic partnership with IBM to develop artificial intelligence technology that will help the fast-food chain automate its drive-thru lanes. CNBC reports: As part of the deal, IBM will acquire McD Tech Labs, which was formerly known as Apprente before McDonald's bought the tech company in 2019. McDonald's didn't disclose financial terms for either transaction. "In my mind, IBM is the ideal partner for McDonald's given their expertise in building AI-powered customer care solutions and voice recognition," McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said on the earnings call with analysts Wednesday. The Apprente technology uses AI to understand drive-thru orders. This summer, McDonald's tested the tech in a handful of Chicago restaurants. Kempczinski said that the test showed "substantial benefits" to customers and employees. In June, at the same conference where he disclosed the Chicago test, Kempczinski shared McDonald's strategy for tech acquisitions. "If we do acquisitions, it will be for a short period of time, bring it in house, jumpstart it, turbo it and then spin it back out and find a partner that will work and scale it for us," he said. CFO Kevin Ozan said that less than 100 employees will leave McDonald's to work for IBM.

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27/10/2021 22:36:49  

A solution to P vs NP could unlock countless computational problems -- or keep them forever out of reach. MIT Technology Review: On Monday, July 19, 2021, in the middle of another strange pandemic summer, a leading computer scientist in the field of complexity theory tweeted out a public service message about an administrative snafu at a journal. He signed off with a very loaded, "Happy Monday." In a parallel universe, it might have been a very happy Monday indeed. A proof had appeared online at the esteemed journal ACM Transactions on Computational Theory, which trades in "outstanding original research exploring the limits of feasible computation." The result purported to solve the problem of all problems -- the Holy Grail of theoretical computer science, worth a $1 million prize and fame rivaling Aristotle's forevermore. This treasured problem -- known as "P versus NP" -- is considered at once the most important in theoretical computer science and mathematics and completely out of reach. It addresses questions central to the promise, limits, and ambitions of computation, asking: Why are some problems harder than others? Which problems can computers realistically solve? How much time will it take? And it's a quest with big philosophical and practical payoffs. "Look, this P versus NP question, what can I say?" Scott Aaronson, a computer scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote in his memoir of ideas, Quantum Computing Since Democritus. "People like to describe it as 'probably the central unsolved problem of theoretical computer science.' That's a comical understatement. P vs NP is one of the deepest questions that human beings have ever asked." One way to think of this story's protagonists is as follows: "P" represents problems that a computer can handily solve. "NP" represents problems that, once solved, are easy to check -- like jigsaw puzzles, or Sudoku. Many NP problems correspond to some of the most stubborn and urgent problems society faces. The million-dollar question posed by P vs. NP is this: Are these two classes of problems one and the same? Which is to say, could the problems that seem so difficult in fact be solved with an algorithm in a reasonable amount of time, if only the right, devilishly fast algorithm could be found? If so, many hard problems are suddenly solvable. And their algorithmic solutions could bring about societal changes of utopian proportions -- in medicine and engineering and economics, biology and ecology, neuroscience and social science, industry, the arts, even politics and beyond.

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27/10/2021 22:36:49  

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Stripe is signing up to pay for carbon-removal technologies that haven't been invented yet. The payments company has formed a partnership with Deep Science Ventures, a London investment firm that specializes in building technology companies from the ground up. DSV will recruit scientists to develop ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If they come up with viable concepts, Stripe will be their first customer. It will pay DSV startups $500,000 each up front to capture and store carbon, then a further $1 million if they meet performance milestones. The new partnership marks an expansion of Stripe's effort to provide a market for unproven technology that could potentially help limit the damage of global warming. The United Nations' scientific panel on climate change says the least-bad global-temperature scenarios depend on people removing billions of tons of planet-warming gases from the atmosphere. It also cautions that companies and governments may never be able to deploy the technology on the scale required to make that happen. Since August 2019, when it promised "to pay, at any available price, for the direct removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and its sequestration in secure, long-term storage," Stripe has committed $9 million to 10 carbon-removal projects. Stripe's carbon-removal procurement is led by Ryan Orbuch, who was a product manager before focusing on climate, and the team's projects are vetted by a panel of industry experts. Costs vary, with the most expensive service costing more than $2,000 per ton of carbon removed. Scalability is more important than current pricing. Stripe says technologies should have the potential to remove half a gigaton of carbon dioxide a year by 2050 at a cost of $100 per ton, and store it for at least 1,000 years. Stripe has tethered its core business of operating payment infrastructure to its side project. Stripe Climate, a tool introduced in October 2020, lets Stripe's customers divert a percentage of revenue to the carbon-removal pot. Roughly 9,000 of Stripe's millions of business users have enrolled contributing nearly $3 million a year collectively, and roughly 8% of new Stripe users sign up [...].

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27/10/2021 21:36:46  

A "sophisticated" teenager has had $2.88m in cryptocurrency confiscated after he set up a phishing site and advertised it on Google, duping consumers into handing over gift voucher redemption codes. From a report: The schoolboy set up a website impersonating gift voucher site Love2Shop. Having done that he then bought Google ads which resulted in his fake site appearing above the real one in search results, Lincoln Crown Court was told. Crown prosecutor Sam Skinner told Her Honour Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight that the boy, whose identity is protected by a court order, harvested $8,931 worth of vouchers in the week his site was active. Love2shop began investigating in April 2020 after a customer complained, at which point the boy took down his fake site. The stolen vouchers were converted into Love2Shop vouchers on the A-level student's own account. A later police investigation discovered 12,000 credit card numbers on his computer along with details for 197 Paypal accounts. On top of that, he had 48 Bitcoins: when police arrested him in August last year these were worth $275,000 but their value has risen tenfold since. Sentencing the boy earlier this week, HHJ Knight commented in court: "If he was an adult he would be going inside."

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27/10/2021 20:36:54  

Nvidia suffered a setback on Wednesday as EU antitrust regulators opened a full-scale investigation into its $54 billion bid for British chip designer ARM on concerns the deal could lead to higher prices, less choice and reduced innovation. From a report: Britain's competition agency is also probing the deal for the country's most important technology company, warning that it could damage competition and weaken rivals. Reuters reported the European Commission viewed as insufficient concessions offered by the world's biggest maker of graphics and artificial intelligence (AI) chips during its preliminary review. Nvidia has not disclosed what these are but it has previously said it would maintain ARM as a neutral technology supplier to sooth concerns from customers such as Qualcomm, Samsung and Apple. The Commission said it would decide by March 15 whether to clear or block the deal. "Whilst Arm and Nvidia do not directly compete, Arm's IP is an important input in products competing with those of Nvidia, for example in datacentres, automotive and in Internet of Things," EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

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27/10/2021 20:36:54  

The operators of the Grief ransomware have listed today the US National Rifle Association (NRA) as a victim of one of their attacks. From a report: The organization's name was listed on a dark web portal, often called a "leak site," where the Grief gang typically lists companies they infected and which haven't paid their ransom demands. It remains unclear if the Grief gang hit one of the NRA's smaller branches or if the attack hit the organization's central network. Ransomware gangs often like to exaggerate their attacks.

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27/10/2021 20:36:54  

At this year's Android Dev Summit, Google announced an upcoming update for devices with larger screens, which includes tablets, foldables, and devices that run ChromeOS. From a report: Google is calling the update 12L, and it's supposed to make Android 12 run smoother on big screens. We first heard the possibility of a "12.1" update in late September, and it looks like many of the rumored features are true. 12L optimizes the layout of a device's UI, adjusting the placement of the home screen, lock screen, notifications, Quick Settings, and more. Google notes that any screen 600 density-independent pixels (dp) and above will display a two-column layout that makes use of the entire screen. In the example Google shows, the Quick Settings menu is pushed towards the left side of the screen, while the notifications panel is locked to the right, giving you the ability to access both simultaneously -- all without opening one app and closing another. 12L also introduces a new taskbar that makes it easier for users to quickly switch between different apps. Dragging and dropping an app from the taskbar opens it up in split-screen mode, which Google notes it has enabled for all apps, whether they're resizable or not.

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27/10/2021 20:36:53  

Advocates will once again be granted a DMCA exception to make accessible versions of texts. They argue that it's far past time to make it permanent. From a report: It's a cliche of digital life that "information wants to be free." The internet was supposed to make the dream a reality, breaking down barriers and connecting anyone to any bit of data, anywhere. But 32 years after the invention of the World Wide Web, people with print disabilities -- the inability to read printed text due to blindness or other impairments -- are still waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. Advocates for the blind are fighting an endless battle to access ebooks that sighted people take for granted, working against copyright law that gives significant protections to corporate powers and publishers who don't cater to their needs. For the past year, they've once again undergone a lengthy petitioning process to earn a critical exemption to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act that provides legal cover for people to create accessible versions of ebooks. Baked into Section 1201 of the DMCA is a triennial process through which the Library of Congress considers exceptions to rules that are intended to protect copyright owners. Since 2002, groups advocating for the blind have put together lengthy documents asking for exemptions that allow copy protections on ebooks to be circumvented for the sake of accessibility. Every three years, they must repeat the process, like Sisyphus rolling his stone up the hill. On Wednesday, the US Copyright Office released a report recommending the Librarian of Congress once again grant the three-year exemption; it will do so in a final rule that takes effect on Thursday. The victory is tainted somewhat by the struggle it represents. Although the exemption protects people who circumvent digital copyright protections for the sake of accessibility -- by using third-party programs to lift text and save it in a different file format, for example -- that it's even necessary strikes many as a fundamental injustice. "As the mainstream has embraced ebooks, accessibility has gotten lost," says Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind. "It's an afterthought." Publishers have no obligation to make electronic versions of their books accessible to the blind through features like text-to-speech (TTS), which reads aloud onscreen text and is available on whichever device you're reading this article. More than a decade ago, publishers fought Amazon for enabling a TTS feature by default on its Kindle 2 ereader, arguing that it violated their copyright on audiobooks. Now, publishers enable or disable TTS on individual books themselves. Even as TTS has become more common, there's no guarantee that a blind person will be able to enjoy a given novel from Amazon's Kindle storefront, or a textbook or manual. That's why the exemption is so important -- and why advocates do the work over and over again to secure it from the Library of Congress. It's a time-consuming and expensive process that many would rather do away with.

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27/10/2021 20:36:53  

Abstract of a paper written by Michael Navarrete of University of Maryland: The United States experienced an unprecedented increase in unemployment insurance (UI) claims starting in March 2020, mainly due to layoffs caused by COVID-19. State unemployment insurance systems were inadequately prepared to process these claims. Those states using an antiquated programming language, COBOL, to process UI claims experienced longer delays in benefit disbursement. Using daily card consumption data from Affinity Solutions, I employ a two-way fixed effects estimator to measure the causal impact of COBOL-induced delays in UI benefits on aggregate consumption. The delays caused a 4.4 percentage point relative decline in total card consumption in COBOL states relative to non-COBOL states. Performing a back-of-the-envelope calculation using 2019 data, I find that real GDP declined by $181 billion (in 2012 dollars).

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27/10/2021 17:36:49  

Phoronix: Now that Windows 11 has been out as stable and the initial round of updates coming out, I've been running fresh Windows 11 vs. Linux benchmarks for seeing how Microsoft's latest operating system release compares to the fresh batch of Linux distributions. First up is the fresh look at the Windows 11 vs. Linux performance on an Intel Core i9 11900K Rocket Lake system. Microsoft Windows 11 Pro with all stable updates as of 18 October was used for this round of benchmarking on Intel Rocket Lake. The Windows 11 performance was being compared to all of the latest prominent Linux distributions, including: Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS, Ubuntu 21.10, Arch Linux (latest rolling), Fedora Workstation 35, Clear Linux 35150. All the testing was done on the same Intel Core i9 11900K test system at stock speeds (any frequency differences reported in the system table come down to how the information is exposed by the OS, i.e. base or turbo reporting) with 2 x 16GB DDR4-3200 memory, 2TB Corsair Force MP600 NVMe solid-state drive, and an AMD Radeon VII graphics card. Each operating system was cleanly installed and then run at its OS default settings for seeing how the out-of-the-box OS performance compares for these five Linux distributions to Microsoft Windows 11 Pro. But for the TLDR version... Out of 44 tests run across all six operating systems, Windows 11 had just three wins on this Core i9 11900K system. Meanwhile Intel's own Clear Linux platform easily dominated with coming in first place 75% of the time followed by Fedora Workstation 35 in second place with first place finishes 9% of the time. The geometric mean for all 44 tests showed Linux clearly in front of Windows 11 for this current-generation Intel platform. Ubuntu / Arch / Fedora were about 11% faster overall than Windows 11 Pro on this system. Meanwhile, Clear Linux was about 18% faster than Windows 11 and enjoyed about 5% better performance overall than the other Linux distributions.

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27/10/2021 16:36:49  

A blowout first quarter has brought Microsoft back into contention in the race for the world's most-valuable listed company. From a report: The software behemoth is less than $60 billion away from dethroning Apple for the first time since May 2020, based on a 3.1% gain in early U.S. trading. That gives Microsoft a market value of $2.40 trillion compared with $2.46 trillion for Apple. The stock was boosted after Microsoft reported estimate-topping results for an 11th straight quarter. Several analysts raised their price targets, saying the earnings were very strong across the board.

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27/10/2021 16:36:48  

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country. From a report: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country. Underline, a community infrastructure company, began building its first open access fiber network in Colorado Springs, Colorado, last week. Under the open access model, Underline builds and operates the fiber network while multiple service providers can use it and offer service to customers. Residential service will start at $49 per month for a 500 megabits per second connection, with a gigabit connection available for $65 per month. That's much faster than the 25-Mbps benchmark the Federal Communications Commission uses to define high-speed internet service. Underline chose Colorado Springs for its first project by evaluating several factors, including households that lack internet access, the number of existing providers and how angry customers were with their current internet options, CEO Bob Thompson told Axios.

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27/10/2021 15:36:48  

Encrypted email provider Protonmail has hailed a recent Swiss legal ruling as a "victory for privacy," after winning a lawsuit that sees it exempted from data retention laws in the mountainous realm. From a report: Referring to a previous ruling that exempted instant messaging services from data capture and storage laws, the Protonmail team said this week: "Together, these two rulings are a victory for privacy in Switzerland as many Swiss companies are now exempted from handing over certain user information in response to Swiss legal orders." Switzerland's Federal Administrative Court ruled on October 22 that email providers in Switzerland are not considered telecommunications providers under Swiss law, thereby removing them from the scope of data retention requirements imposed on telcos. The victory comes after controversy over a previous (and not directly related) Swiss court order that forced the company to collect mobile device push notification identifiers from a specified user's account. That user was later arrested by French police, who had asked their Swiss counterparts to obtain the surveillance order. Protonmail chief exec Andy Yen told The Register his business doesn't routinely collect such data on its users.

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27/10/2021 14:36:48  

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Sophie Fornairon's independent bookshop has survived the rise of Amazon thanks to a French law that prohibits price discounting on new books, but she says the e-commerce giant's ability to undercut on shipping still skews the market against stores like hers. Fornairon, who owns the Canal Bookstore in central Paris, now hopes that new legislation that would set a minimum price for book deliveries will even the contest further in the battle of neighborhood stores against Amazon. "It's a just return towards a level playing field," Fornairon, who employs four workers, said. "We're not at risk of closing down any time soon, but Amazon is a constant battle". French law prohibits free book deliveries but Amazon has circumvented this by charging a single centime (cent). Local book stores typically charge about 5-7 euros ($5.82-8.15) for shipping a book. Amazon's pricing strategy had resulted in the growing market share of a single operator, the Ministry of Culture said. "This law is necessary to regulate the distorted competition within online book sales and prevent the inevitable monopoly that will emerge if the status quo persists," the ministry told Reuters. Centre-right Senator Laure Darcos, who drafted the law, decided upon the minimum delivery charge when she observed how bookstores maintained 70% of their business despite being forced to shut during early COVID lockdowns, because the government reimbursed the shipping fees. "It showed what a brake on business the postage costs are for local bookstores," Darcos said. Asked when the legislation would be enacted, the Ministry of Culture declined to give a date, saying it was too early to say.

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27/10/2021 11:36:45  

AleRunner writes: The United Kingdom's COVID-19 death rate has reached its highest rate since just after the peak of the last lockdown in March. This has been happening as the new AY.4.2 variant of the Delta strain of the SARS-COV-2 virus has begun to dominate in the UK. Coming into winter, the increase in coronavirus infection in the UK is already causing a collapse in health care with patients dying just after long waits for care or even whilst waiting. Although there's some similarity to 2020, and a worry that AY.4.2 might avoid immunity, the UK chancellor has decided to commit to a vaccines mainly strategy whilst other countries seem to be unconcerned with the CDC already declaring that no measures are planned to limit AY.4.2 spread.

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27/10/2021 08:36:42  

Blue Origin, the rocket and space tourism company founded by Jeff Bezos, is proposing a massive new commercial space station called "Orbital Reef" that could be used to host science experiments, vacation getaways, and potentially even in-space manufacturing. CNN reports: The company plans to work alongside startup Sierra Space to bring the space station to fruition, and Boeing plans to design a research module on the station, though there are no guarantees the companies can make it happen. Such projects are still exorbitantly expensive and risky, likely costing in the tens of billions of dollars and requiring multiple safe launches before a human ever even floats aboard. Blue Origin and Sierra Space plan to co-finance the space station, though executives declined to give an all-in cost estimate during a press conference Monday. They did add that they are expecting to sign on NASA as an anchor tenant, though it's not exactly clear how such a partnership could take shape. Blue Origin hopes Orbital Reef could be operational in the late 2020s, though it will have to get quite a bit done to make that happen. The company has only managed a few crewed suborbital flights so far, much like NASA first achieved back in the early 1960s, and it has yet to put a spacecraft in orbit, let alone a person. A space station would take a major leap. New Glenn, the Blue Origin-built rocket that is expected to be powerful and large enough to haul the biggest portions of the space station to orbit, is not yet operational, and its maiden flight was recently delayed to at least late 2022. The orbital reef will be able to host up to 10 people and will have roughly the same internal volume as the ISS.

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27/10/2021 06:36:39  

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Conversation: On October 23, 2001, Apple released the iPod -- a portable media player that promised to overshadow the clunky design and low storage capacity of MP3 players introduced in the mid-1990s. The iPod boasted the ability to "hold 1,000 songs in your pocket". Its personalized listening format revolutionized the way we consume music. And with more than 400 million units sold since its release, there's no doubt it was a success. Yet, two decades later, the digital music landscape continues to rapidly evolve. The iPod expanded listening beyond the constraints of the home stereo system, allowing the user to plug into not only their headphones, but also their car radio, their computer at work, or their hi-fi system at home. It made it easier to entwine these disparate spaces into a single personalized soundtrack throughout the day. [...] The rise of touchscreen smartphones ultimately led to the iPod's downfall. Interestingly, the music app on the original iPhone was called "iPod." The iPod's functions were essentially reappropriated and absorbed into the iPhone. The iPhone was a flexible and multifunctional device: an iPod, a phone and an internet communicator all in one -- a computer in your pocket. And by making the development tools for their products freely available, Apple and Google allowed third-party developers to create apps for their new platforms in the thousands. As of this year, mobile devices are responsible for 54.8% of web traffic worldwide. And while music piracy still exists, its influence has been significantly reduced by the arrival of streaming services such as Spotify and YouTube. These platforms have had a profound effect on how we engage with music as active and passive listeners. Spotify supports an online community-based approach to music sharing, with curated playlists. [...] As of February this year, more than 60,000 tracks were being uploaded to Spotify each day. The experience of listening to music will become increasingly immersive with time, and we'll only find more ways to seamlessly integrate it into our lives.

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27/10/2021 03:36:33  

A top U.S. bank regulator said U.S. officials are looking to provide a clearer path for banks and their clients that are looking to hold cryptocurrencies, in order to keep control over the fast-developing asset. Reuters reports: Jelena McWilliams, who chairs the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, told Reuters in an interview on Monday that a team of U.S. bank regulators is trying to provide a roadmap for banks to engage with crypto assets. That could include clearer rules over holding cryptocurrency in custody to facilitate client trading, using them as collateral for loans, or even holding them on their balance sheets like more traditional assets. "I think that we need to allow banks in this space, while appropriately managing and mitigating risk," she said in an interview on the sidelines of a fintech conference. "If we don't bring this activity inside the banks, it is going to develop outside of the banks. ... The federal regulators won't be able to regulate it." McWilliams' comments provide the fullest picture yet of what regulators are exploring as part of a cryptocurrency "sprint" team first announced in May. The goal of the team was to ensure cryptocurrency policy coordination among the three main U.S. bank regulators - FDIC, Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

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27/10/2021 02:36:52  

During Adobe Max 2021 today, the company announced new features for Creative Cloud's various iPad apps, two more applications running natively on Apple Silicon Macs, and new web versions of some apps, among other things. Ars Technica reports: Adobe said it is adding or improving AI-driven tools across the suite, including an updated Object Selection Tool for Photoshop on Desktop. And some AI tools previously seen in Photoshop, like the Sky Replacement tool, are headed to Lightroom on Mac, iPad, and iPhone for the first time. The iPad version of Photoshop will gain support for RAW images and is getting several new tools and the ability to convert layers into Smart Objects. Illustrator for iPad is getting some improvements, too, most notably the ability to vectorize images and track version history and revert to earlier iterations. Further, After Effects and InDesign are getting Apple Silicon support on recent Macs. It's not all about native applications, though -- Adobe announced this week that it will bring versions of Photoshop and Illustrator to the web. The web versions won't be as robust as the desktop versions, but they will let you make minor edits and provide a way to share and discuss work with colleagues or clients. The apps will allow users to review work and leave comments without launching a native version of Photoshop -- think of it a bit like a stripped-down version of InVision that exists directly inside the Creative Cloud ecosystem. Adobe also said it's launching a system built into Photoshop that can, among other things, "help prove that the person selling an NFT is the person who made it," reports The Verge. "It's called Content Credentials, and NFT sellers will be able to link the Adobe ID with their crypto wallet, allowing compatible NFT marketplaces to show a sort of verified certificate proving the art's source is authentic."

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27/10/2021 01:36:56  

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Oscar winning Dune screenwriter Eric Roth banged out the screenplay using the MS-DOS program Movie Master. Roth writes everything using the 30-year-old software. "I work on an old computer program that's not in existence anymore," Roth said in an interview in 2014. "It's half superstition and half fear of change." Roth wrote the screenplay for Dune in 2018 and explained he was still using Movie Master on a Barstool Sports podcast in 2020. That means Dune was written in an MS-DOS program. In the video, he pulled up a DOS window in Windows XP and booted up Movie Master 3.09 on an ancient beige mechanical keyboard. "So now I'm in DOS. Nobody can get on the internet and get this," Roth said. "I have to give them a hard copy. They have to scan it and then put it in their computers and then I have to work through their computer because you can't even email mine or anything. You can't get to it except where it is. It has 40 pages and it runs out of memory." [...] Roth also said the 40 page limit helps him structure his screenplays."I like it because it makes acts," he said. "I realize if I hadn't said it in 40 pages I'm starting to get in trouble." Another writer to use MS-DOS is George RR Martin, notes Motherboard. He apparently used MS-DOS program WordStar "to slowly write ever single Game of Thrones book."

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27/10/2021 01:36:56  

Apple's privacy rules are "negatively affecting" Facebook, and its business, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed during its most recent earnings call. MacRumors reports: As a quick refresher, starting with iOS 14.5 and all newer versions of iOS and iPadOS, Apple requires that apps ask for users' permission to track them across other apps and websites. Under the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, the latest change gives users a choice on whether they wish to be tracked for ads or other purposes. [...] Continuing on its anti-Apple's privacy rules campaign, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was quick to blame Apple for his company's lower than expected growth in the third quarter of the year. Kicking off the earnings call, Zuckerberg said Apple is "negatively affecting" Facebook but that he believes the company will be able to "navigate" the challenges Apple is presenting thanks to its long-term investments. "As expected, we did experience revenue headwinds this quarter, including from Apple's changes that are not only negatively affecting our business, but millions of small businesses in what is already a difficult time for them in the economy. Sheryl and Dave will talk about this more later, but the bottom line is we expect we'll be able to navigate these headwinds over time with investments that we're already making today." While Zuckerberg and the Facebook executive team hold Apple's changes accountable for this quarter's performance, it may also be an asset. Zuckerberg has in the past stated that ATT could ultimately help Facebook, and it's a sentiment he again repeated during the earning's call. Apple's changes, according to Zuckerberg, are making "e-commerce and customer acquisition less effective on the web." Still, Facebook could benefit from the lessened effectiveness as "solutions that allow businesses to set up shop right inside our apps will become increasingly attractive," Zuckerberg added. Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, also criticized Apple and its privacy rules, going as far as to claim that the new rules are negatively impacting Facebook while benefiting Apple's own advertising business: "We've been open about the fact that there were headwinds coming -- and we've experienced that in Q3. The biggest is the impact of Apple's iOS14 changes, which have created headwinds for others in the industry as well, major challenges for small businesses, and advantaged Apple's own advertising business." Despite Facebook facing an avalanche of pressure amid leaked internal documents and scrutiny, Sandberg pointed the finger at Apple for Facebook's lackluster performance this quarter. "Overall, if it wasn't for Apple's iOS 14 changes, we would have seen positive quarter-over-quarter revenue growth," Sandberg said.

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27/10/2021 00:36:38  

During the company's first appearance at a U.S. congressional hearing, TikTok executive Michael Beckerman said it does not give information to the Chinese government and has sought to safeguard U.S. data. Reuters reports: Michael Beckerman, TikTok's head of public policy for the Americas, became the company's first executive to appear before Congress, testifying to a subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee. Republicans in particular pressed Beckerman on worries regarding TikTok's stewardship of data on the app's users. Senator Marsha Blackburn, the panel's top Republican, said she is concerned about TikTok's data collection, including audio and a user's location, and the potential for the Chinese government to gain access to the information. Blackburn questioned Beckerman on whether TikTok could resist giving data to China's government if material were to be demanded. "We do not share information with the Chinese government," Beckerman responded. Under questioning by Republican Senator Ted Cruz, Beckerman said that TikTok has "no affiliation" with Beijing ByteDance Technology, a ByteDance entity at which the Chinese government took a stake and a board seat this year. Beckerman also testified that TikTok's U.S. user data is stored in the United States, with backups in Singapore. "We have a world-renowned U.S. based security team that handles access," Beckerman said. Republican Senator John Thune said TikTok is perhaps more driven by content algorithms than even Facebook, as the app is famous for quickly learning what users find interesting and offering them those types of videos. Beckerman said TikTok would be willing to provide the app's algorithm moderation policies in order for the Senate panel to have it reviewed by independent experts.

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26/10/2021 23:36:33  

An anonymous reader quotes a report from KrebsOnSecurity: U.S. federal investigators today raided the Florida offices of PAX Technology, a Chinese provider of point-of-sale devices used by millions of businesses and retailers globally. KrebsOnSecurity has learned the raid is tied to reports that PAX's systems may have been involved in cyberattacks on U.S. and E.U. organizations. Headquartered in Shenzhen, China, PAX Technology Inc. has more than 60 million point-of-sale terminals in use throughout 120 countries. Earlier today, Jacksonville, Fla. based WOKV.com reported that agents with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had raided a local PAX Technology warehouse. In an official statement, investigators told WOKV only that they were executing a court-authorized search at the warehouse as a part of a federal investigation, and that the inquiry included the Department of Customs and Border Protection and the Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS). Several days ago, KrebsOnSecurity heard from a trusted source that the FBI began investigating PAX after a major U.S. payment processor started asking questions about unusual network packets originating from the company's payment terminals. According to that source, the payment processor found that the PAX terminals were being used both as a malware "dropper" -- a repository for malicious files -- and as "command-and-control" locations for staging attacks and collecting information. The source said two major financial providers -- one in the United States and one in the United Kingdom -- had already begun pulling PAX terminals from their payment infrastructure, a claim that was verified by two different sources. The source was unable to share specific details about the strange network activity that prompted the FBI's investigation. But it should be noted that point-of-sale terminals and the technology that supports them are perennial targets of cybercriminals.

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26/10/2021 23:36:33  

Microsoft has begun force installing the PC Health Check application on Windows 10 devices using a new KB5005463 update. BleepingComputer reports: PC Health Check is a new diagnostics tool created by Microsoft and released in conjunction with Windows 11 that provides various troubleshooting and maintenance features. However, its primary use has been to analyze a device's hardware to check if it's compatible with Windows 11. Microsoft says that users who do not want PC Health Check on their system can simply uninstall it using the Settings app. However, readers have told BleepingComputer that they have had to uninstall the application numerous times as the applications keep being reinstalled on the next check for updates. To make matters worse, when attempting to uninstall KB5005463, Windows 10 states that the update is not installed, when that is clearly untrue [...]. BleepingComputer has found a way to block the update from installing PC Health Check on your computer for those who do not want the application installed.

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