Bluesky changed its logo and now lets everyone view posts, even without an account

Bluesky, the invite-only decentralized social network, is taking baby steps towards opening up to the public. CEO Jay Graber announced this week that Bluesky posts are now viewable whether a person is logged in or not, meaning you can directly share content with your friends who don’t have Bluesky accounts. While Bluesky has about 2.6 million users so far, that pool is still relatively small as it remains closed off to wider public signups.

The new public web interface, which the company teased last month, will make Bluesky posts accessible to a bigger audience. To mark the shift, Bluesky has also adopted a blue butterfly as its new logo — gone is the stock photo-style cloudy sky. “Like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, we are starting to open up,” Graber wrote in a blog post about the changes. Graber also notes that many Bluesky users were already using the butterfly emoji as a symbol for the social network. “We loved it,” Graber wrote, “and adopted it as it spread.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Source: Engadget – Bluesky changed its logo and now lets everyone view posts, even without an account

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch Takes Starlink Satellites To Orbit In Record-Breaking Style

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch Takes Starlink Satellites To Orbit In Record-Breaking Style
Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 first-stage booster for what would be a record-breaking 19th mission. The launch occurred just after midnight on December 23, 2023, and successfully added 23 Starlink satellites to its network constellation.

Starlink mission 6-32 launched from the Space Launch Complex 40 launchpad at Cape Canaveral

Source: Hot Hardware – SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch Takes Starlink Satellites To Orbit In Record-Breaking Style

Godzilla Minus One, Across the Spider-Verse Among Oscars Finalists

The Oscars are a few months away, and it won’t be long before we’re hearing about the nominees for the 2024 ceremony. Earlier in the week, a shortlist for 10 categories were revealed, and while they contained some of 2023’s expected hits, other inclusions were interesting surprises.

Read more…

Source: Gizmodo – Godzilla Minus One, Across the Spider-Verse Among Oscars Finalists

Intel Core Ultra Meteor Lake Laptops Get A Big Performance Lift With BIOS Updates

Intel Core Ultra Meteor Lake Laptops Get A Big Performance Lift With BIOS Updates
Meteor Lake is the newest chip architecture off the ol’ Intel block and in the coming weeks, we anticipate a barrage of laptop reviews. A few have already found their way to the web, including our own Core Ultra review from a pre-production MSI Prestige 16 AI Evo machine. We were generally pleased with the overall performance, though if you

Source: Hot Hardware – Intel Core Ultra Meteor Lake Laptops Get A Big Performance Lift With BIOS Updates

World Modelling and 'The Personal, Political Art of Board-Game Design'

The New Yorker looks at 41-year-old Amabel Holland, an autistic board-game designer who “thinks about the world in terms of systems,” and realized you could make a board game about almost anything, “and, when you did, its rules could both mirror and analyze the subject on which it was based.”

They’ve since designed more than 60 games, and the article notes that Holland’s work, “which is part of a larger turn toward complexity in the industry, often tackles historical and social subjects — death, religion, misinformation — using surprising ‘mechanics,’ or building blocks of game play, to immerse players in an experience.”
“With every game, you build a certain model of the world,” Reiner Knizia, a former mathematician who’s designed more than eight hundred games, told me. Several of his games illustrate market forces: in Modern Art, for instance, you play as auctioneers and buyers, hoping to buy low and sell high. Knizia is a traditional game designer inasmuch as he aims to “bring enjoyment to the people.” But Amabel sometimes aims for the opposite of enjoyment… This Guilty Land, from 2018, is about the struggle to end slavery.”

Holland says their games are “meant to evoke frustration” — specifically to communicate how difficult it can be to actually achieve political progress.

Thanks to Slashdot reader silverjacket for sharing the article.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – World Modelling and ‘The Personal, Political Art of Board-Game Design’

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Flounders But Doesn't Quite Sink

At one moment in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, characters are running through a mutated jungle, chased by lion-sized cockroaches while avoiding violent, human-eating plants. In another moment, multiple characters are standing around, their hair flowing wildly, delivering wooden dialogue that’s almost as painful for…

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Source: Kotaku – Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Flounders But Doesn’t Quite Sink

Are Phones Making the World's Students Dumber?

Long-time Slashdot reader schwit1 shared this article from the Atlantic:
For the past few years, parents, researchers, and the news media have paid closer attention to the relationship between teenagers’ phone use and their mental health. Researchers such as Jonathan Haidt and Jean Twenge have shown that various measures of student well-being began a sharp decline around 2012 throughout the West, just as smartphones and social media emerged as the attentional centerpiece of teenage life. Some have even suggested that smartphone use is so corrosive, it’s systematically reducing student achievement. I hadn’t quite believed that last argument — until now.

The Program for International Student Assessment, conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in almost 80 countries every three years, tests 15-year-olds est scores have been falling for years — even before the pandemic. Across the OECD, science scores peaked in 2009, and reading scores peaked in 2012. Since then, developed countries have as a whole performed “increasingly poorly” on average. “No single country showed an increasingly positive trend in any subject,” PISA reported, and “many countries showed increasingly poor performance in at least one subject.” Even in famously high-performing countries, such as Finland, Sweden, and South Korea, PISA grades in one or several subjects have been declining for a while.

So what’s driving down student scores around the world? The PISA report offers three reasons to suspect that phones are a major culprit. First, PISA finds that students who spend less than one hour of “leisure” time on digital devices a day at school scored about 50 points higher in math than students whose eyes are glued to their screens more than five hours a day. This gap held even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors… Second, screens seem to create a general distraction throughout school, even for students who aren’t always looking at them…. Finally, nearly half of students across the OECD said that they felt “nervous” or “anxious” when they didn’t have their digital devices near them. (On average, these students also said they were less satisfied with life.) This phone anxiety was negatively correlated with math scores.

In sum, students who spend more time staring at their phone do worse in school, distract other students around them, and feel worse about their life.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Are Phones Making the World’s Students Dumber?

Corvids seem to handle temporary memories the way we do

A black bird with yellow eyes against a blue sky.

Enlarge / A jackdaw tries to remember what color it was thinking of. (credit: Frans Buiter / 500px)

Humans tend to think that we are the most intelligent life-forms on Earth, and that we’re largely followed by our close relatives such as chimps and gorillas. But there are some areas of cognition in which homo sapiens and other primates are not unmatched. What other animal’s brain could possibly operate at a human’s level, at least when it comes to one function? Birds—again.

This is far from the first time that bird species such as corvids and parrots have shown that they can think like us in certain ways. Jackdaws are clever corvids that belong to the same family as crows and ravens. After putting a pair of them to the test, an international team of researchers saw that the birds’ working memory operates the same way as that of humans and higher primates. All of these species use what’s termed “attractor dynamics,” where they organize information into specific categories.

Unfortunately for them, that means they also make the same mistakes we do. “Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) have similar behavioral biases as humans; memories are less precise and more biased as memory demands increase,” the researchers said in a study recently published in Communications Biology.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Source: Ars Technica – Corvids seem to handle temporary memories the way we do

All the Jonathan Majors Trial Updates, and More Top Pop Culture News of the Week

A rough 2023 for Marvel got even messier last week as the conclusion of Jonathan Majors’ legal proceedings saw the actor charged with reckless assault. But while there was plenty of legal drama this week, there were even more stories from the io9-verse you may have missed, so check them out here! —James Whitbrook

Read more…

Source: Gizmodo – All the Jonathan Majors Trial Updates, and More Top Pop Culture News of the Week

The Week's Best Gaming Roundups On The Highs And Lows Of 2023

As the air turns increasingly cold and families gather to celebrate the holidays, it’s time to get comfy and reminisce about the year that was. 2023 had more than its fair share of highs and lows, so join us for one last look back as we remember our favorite games, as well as the most crushing disappointments and the…

Read more…

Source: Kotaku – The Week’s Best Gaming Roundups On The Highs And Lows Of 2023

The Morning After: The Apple Watch ban and Sony seems to be winning the console war

It’s Christmas Eve Eve, so I’ve phoned in this week’s TMA and shouted “Lost In Space!” to myself. What a time to be alive. I’m also stoking the flames of the console wars in 2023. Yes, Sony announced its sold 50 million PS5 consoles so far. Xbox doesn’t offer its own official figures (because of this eventuality?) but analysts say, during this year, Sony outsold Microsoft consoles three to one. 

There’s also an outright ban on Apple Watches — at least the two newest models — over patent issues. Apple needs President Biden himself to turn the ban around, but it doesn’t look like he will before the ruling come into power. 

This week:

⌚️⛔️ The Apple Watch ban is here

🤳🧑🏽‍🔧 Samsung adds foldables to its self-repair program for the first time

🎮🕹️ Sony has sold 50 million PS5 consoles over three years

And read this these:

We’re wrapping up our year with a barrage of features and editorials on the year that was 2023. Want to know how X declined and declined and declined? How about the sudden pause on autonomous taxis and the many disasters in the last 12 months? Or how about a year of layoffs and acquisitions across a lot of gaming industry? There are more stories, of course, but you’ll have to wait for next week to read those.

Like email more than video? Subscribe right here for daily reports, direct to your inbox.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Source: Engadget – The Morning After: The Apple Watch ban and Sony seems to be winning the console war

What's New on Max in January 2024

Max’s January lineup includes highly-anticipated new seasons of several original series. First up is the eight-episode HBO drama True Detective: Night Country (Jan. 14), the fourth installment of the True Detective series, this time starring Jodie Foster and Kali Reis as detectives called in to investigate the disappearance of eight researchers into the dark Alaskan winter.

The third and final season of Canadian sitcom Sort Of drops on Jan. 18, picking up as main character Sabi navigates the aftermath of the death of their father. There’s also season seven of the Adult Swim animated series Rick and Morty (Jan. 22), currently nominated for its third Emmy Award.

Max is also releasing two documentaries in January: On The Roam (first two episodes on Jan. 18), an eight-part series following Jason Mamoa’s travels, and Sundance Film Festival award winner Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project (Jan. 8), a biographical film chronicling the life of the poet.

Here’s everything else coming to and leaving from Max in January.

What’s coming to Max in January 2024

Arriving January 1

  • 90 Day Fiancé: Holiday Special 2023 #3 (TLC)

  • 90 Day Fiancé Pillow Talk: Single All The Way (TLC)

  • The A-Team (2010)

  • After Earth (2013)

  • Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009)

  • Aniara (2019)

  • Austenland (2013)

  • Bachelorette (2012)

  • Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (2013)

  • Body at Brighton Rock (2019)

  • Booty Call (1997)

  • The Breakfast Club (1985)

  • The Brothers (2001)

  • Cabin Fever (2003)

  • Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009)

  • Celebrity IOU, Season 7 (HGTV)

  • Collision Course (1989)

  • Cyborg (1989)

  • Dance With Me (1998)

  • Dark Skies (2013)

  • Date and Switch (2013)

  • Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

  • Empire State (2013)

  • Escape From Alcatraz (1979)

  • Everybody Wants to be Italian (2008)

  • A Fistful of Dollars (1967)

  • For A Few Dollars More (1967)

  • Free Birds (2013)

  • The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1967)

  • The Gospel According to Andre (2018)

  • Greta (2019)

  • Hail Satan? (2019)

  • Hang Em’ High (1968)

  • Head Office (1986)

  • HGTV Dream Home 2024 (HGTV)

  • The Hitcher (1986)

  • Hollywood Homicide (2003)

  • I Don’t Know How She Does It (2011)

  • I, Frankenstein (2014)

  • The Ides of March (2011)

  • It Comes At Night (2017)

  • Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013)

  • John Carpenter’s Escape From L.A. (1996)

  • Kids Baking Championship, Season 12 specials (Food Network)

  • The Kill Team (2019)

  • Killing Them Softly (2012)

  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)

  • Lawless (2012)

  • Machete (2010)

  • Mike Wallace is Here (2019)

  • Odd Jobs (1986)

  • Our Idiot Brother (2011)

  • Quarantine (2008)

  • Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins (2019)

  • Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

  • Ricochet (1991)

  • Road Trip (2000)

  • Road Trip: Beer Pong (2009)

  • Robocop (1987)

  • Robocop (2014)

  • Robocop 2 (1990)

  • Robocop 3 (1993)

  • Rocket Science (2007)

  • Scream 4 (2011)

  • The Secrets We Keep (2020)

  • Some Kind of Beautiful (2015)

  • Star Trek Generations (1994)

  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

  • Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

  • Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

  • Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

  • Sweet Dreams (1985)

  • Switch (1991)

  • Ted 2 (2015)

  • The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks (ID)

  • Tracers (2015)

  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)

  • When A Stranger Calls (2006)

  • White House Down (2013)

Arriving January 2

  • Jessica’s Big Little World (Cartoon Network)

  • Moonshiners Season 13A (Discovery Channel)

Arriving January 4

  • Mystery at Blind Frog Ranch, Season 3 (Discovery Channel)

Arriving January 5

  • Creator League Series, Season 5

  • My Lottery Dream Home, Season 14 (HGTV)

  • OWN Celebrates the New Color Purple (OWN)

Arriving January 6

  • Ready to Love: Make a Move (OWN)

  • Tricky Dick (CNN Original)

Arriving January 7

  • Carnival Eats, Season 11 (Cooking Channel)

  • Diana (CNN Original)

  • Evil Lives Here: Shadows Of Death, Season 3B (ID)

  • Home Town, Season 8 (HGTV)

  • OWN Spotlight: Oprah & Taraji P. Henson (OWN)

  • Worst Cooks in America, Season 27 (Food Network)

Arriving January 8

  • 90 Day Diaries, Season 5 (TLC)

  • Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project (HBO Original)

Arriving January 10

  • See No Evil, Season 9B (ID)

Arriving January 11

  • Chowchilla (CNN Films/Max Original)

Arriving January 12

  • Batwheels, Season 2A (Cartoon Network)

  • The Convict (Skazana)

  • The Disappearance (Chyłka – Zaginięcie)

Arriving January 13

  • The Kitchen, Season 34 (Food Network)

  • What’s Wrong with That House? (HGTV)

  • The Wonder List with Bill Weir (CNN Original)

Arriving January 14

  • Craig of the Creek: Craig Before the Creek (Cartoon Network)

  • OWN Spotlight: Oprah & Fantasia Barrino (OWN)

  • True Detective: Night Country (HBO Original)

Arriving January 15

  • Snowden (2016)

Arriving January 16

  • Seduced to Slay (ID)

  • Who the (BLEEP) Did I Marry?, Season 7 (ID)

Arriving January 18

  • On The Roam (Max Original)

  • Sort Of, Season 3 (Max Original)

Arriving January 19

  • Real Time With Bill Maher S22 (HBO Original)

  • Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?, Season 5 (CNN)

Arriving January 20

  • Belle Collective, Season 2C (OWN)

  • Lincoln: Divided We Stand (CNN Original)

Arriving January 21

  • Love & Marriage: Huntsville, Season 4B (OWN)

  • Love & Translation (TLC)

  • OWN Spotlight: Oprah & Danielle Brooks (OWN)

Arriving January 22

  • Battle on the Mountain (HGTV)

  • Death by Fame, Season 2 (ID)

  • Rick and Morty, Season 7 (Adult Swim)

  • The Playboy Murders, Season 2 (ID)

Arriving January 24

  • Rico to the Rescue, Season 2 (HGTV)

Arriving January 25

  • Beat Bobby Flay, Season 33 (Food Network)

Arriving January 26

  • Border Control: Spain, Season 3

Arriving January 27

  • The Redemption Project with Van Jones (CNN Original)

Arriving January 28

  • The Redemption Project with Van Jones (CNN Original)

Arriving January 31

  • Guy’s Grocery Games, Season 34 (Food Network)

  • The Unbreakable Tatiana Suarez (HBO Original)

Everything leaving Max in January 2024

Leaving January 5

  • The Nun (2018)

Leaving January 9

  • Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

  • Miracle Workers, Seasons 1-3 (TBS)

Leaving January 11

  • Blended (2014)

Leaving January 24

  • Barbarian (2022)

Leaving January 27

  • Havana Street Party Presents: Beatriz Luengo

  • Havana Street Party Presents: Orishas

Leaving January 28

  • August: Osage County (2013)

Leaving January 31

  • (500) Days of Summer (2009)

  • All About Steve (2009)

  • Angel of Mine (2019)

  • Anna (2019)

  • Annie Hall (1977)

  • Best Man Down (2013)

  • Betrayed (1988)

  • Big Momma’s House (2000)

  • Big Momma’s House 2 (2006)

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

  • Black Boy Joy (2021)

  • Blair Witch (2016)

  • Body of Lies (2008)

  • Bride Wars (2009)

  • Bull Durham (1988)

  • Chernobyl Diaries (2012)

  • Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010)

  • Cooties (2015)

  • The Cypher (2021)

  • Deadfall (2012)

  • The Delta Force (1986)

  • Dolapo is Fine (2021)

  • Double Impact (1991)

  • Flash of Genius (2008)

  • The Fluffy Movie (2014)

  • Footloose (1984)

  • The Frozen Ground (2013)

  • Growing Up Milwaukee (2020)

  • Hackers (1995)

  • Hotel For Dogs (2009)

  • I Am Not Your Negro (2017)

  • Kingpin (1996)

  • Knowing (2009)

  • A Life Less Ordinary (1997)

  • Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

  • The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)

  • The Mexican (2001)

  • MI-5 (2015)

  • Mr. Mom (1983)

  • My Scientology Movie (2017)

  • Night Catches Us (2010)

  • Platoon (1987)

  • Predator (1987)

  • Predator 2 (1990)

  • A Rodeo Film (2021)

  • Ronin (1998)

  • A Royal Affair (2012)

  • Rubber (2011)

  • See How They Run (2022)

  • Soul Plane (2004)

  • Source Code (2011)

  • A Storybook Ending (2021)

  • The Terminator (1984)

  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

  • Tommy Boy (1995)

  • Wayne’s World (1992)

  • Wayne’s World 2 (1993)

  • Whiteout (2009)

Source: LifeHacker – What’s New on Max in January 2024

Why LG’s New UltraGear OLED Is My Next Favorite Gaming Monitor

LG is looking to revolutionize the way that gamers pick up new monitors: Instead of forcing them to choose between super-fast refresh rates or high-resolution visuals, the company’s new UltraGear OLED lineup will offer a toggle that lets you switch between 480Hz at 1080P and 240Hz at 4K. It’s the first time we’ve seen a “dual Hz” feature on a monitor, and I can’t wait to add one to my desk.

Unveiled this past week before the tech world becomes lost in the throes of CES, the LG UltraGear 32GS95UE will let you easily swap between resolutions and refresh rates with the flip of a switch. It’s an intriguing feature that caught me off guard at first, but I’m honestly surprised we haven’t seen something like this sooner.

There are, of course, a number of reasons why a dual Hz monitor is enticing—the most important is being able to switch between resolutions and refresh rates depending on what game you’re playing. Many competitive gamers like to play their shooters and competitive titles at a lower 1080P resolution. I currently run two 4K monitors, but I usually bring their resolutions down if I’m playing a shooter and want to take advantage of the highest framerate possible on my rig. The image is still crisp, but it requires opening the monitor’s settings in Windows and manually changing it.

With the LG UltraGear 32GS95UE, I wouldn’t have to do that—I’d just need to flip the toggle switch. When running it in 1080P mode I’ll be able to take advantage of a doubled max framerate; but not all games are created equal, so when I want to play Starfield or Red Dead Redemption 2 in 4K, I won’t have to take extra steps to make that happen.

If that toggle switch wasn’t enough to sell me on it, though, there’s also the fact that the new 32-inch monitor will offer a .03-millisecond grey-to-grey response time, which is exceptionally important. Many gaming monitors offer a 1ms GtG response time, so this will help ensure there isn’t any additional artifacting or motion blur when using it.

LG has also noted that the new monitor will support high-end HDR picture, with DCI-P3 98.5 percent at 400 nits of brightness. It also comes with a virtually borderless design, which is perfect for pairing up two of these bad boys, and even built-in speakers for those days that I’m not feeling my headphones.

Honestly, the only thing holding me back on this new monitor at the moment is the price, which LG has yet to reveal. Once the company announces it, though, it’s on.

Source: LifeHacker – Why LG’s New UltraGear OLED Is My Next Favorite Gaming Monitor

PAX Unplugged 2023: How indie devs build and sell new board games

Corporate Vampire testing pitch at PAX Unplugged 2023

Enlarge / Given only this sign, and a glimpse of some pieces, a constant stream of playtesters stopped by to check out what was then called Corporate Vampire. (credit: Kevin Purdy)

“You don’t want Frenzy. Frenzy is a bad thing. It might seem like it’s good, but trust me, you want to have a blood supply. Frenzy leads to Consequences.”

It’s mid-afternoon in early December in downtown Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Convention Center, and I’m in the Unpub room at PAX Unplugged. Michael Schofield and Tim Broadwater of Design Thinking Games have booked one of the dozens of long card tables to show their game Corporate Vampire to anybody who wants to try it. Broadwater is running the game and explaining the big concepts while Schofield takes notes. Their hope is that after six revisions and 12 smaller iterations, their game is past the point where someone can break it. But they have to test that disheartening possibility in public.

I didn’t expect to spend so much of my first PAX Unplugged hanging around indie game makers. But with the tabletop industry expanding after some massive boom years, some Stranger Things and Critical Role infusions, and, of course, new COVID-borne habits, it felt like a field that was both more open to outsiders than before and also very crowded. I wanted to see what this thing, so big it barely fit inside a massive conference center, felt like at the smaller tables, to those still navigating their way into the industry.

Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Source: Ars Technica – PAX Unplugged 2023: How indie devs build and sell new board games

AI Companies Would Be Required To Disclose Copyrighted Training Data Under New Bill

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Two lawmakers filed a bill requiring creators of foundation models to disclose sources of training data so copyright holders know their information was taken. The AI Foundation Model Transparency Act — filed by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Don Beyer (D-VA) — would direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to establish rules for reporting training data transparency. Companies that make foundation models will be required to report sources of training data and how the data is retained during the inference process, describe the limitations or risks of the model, how the model aligns with NIST’s planned AI Risk Management Framework and any other federal standards might be established, and provide information on the computational power used to train and run the model. The bill also says AI developers must report efforts to “red team” the model to prevent it from providing “inaccurate or harmful information” around medical or health-related questions, biological synthesis, cybersecurity, elections, policing, financial loan decisions, education, employment decisions, public services, and vulnerable populations such as children.

The bill calls out the importance of training data transparency around copyright as several lawsuits have come out against AI companies alleging copyright infringement. It specifically mentions the case of artists against Stability AI, Midjourney, and Deviant Art, (which was largely dismissed in October, according to VentureBeat), and Getty Images’ complaint against Stability AI. The bill still needs to be assigned to a committee and discussed, and it’s unclear if that will happen before the busy election campaign season starts. Eshoo and Beyer’s bill complements the Biden administration’s AI executive order, which helps establish reporting standards for AI models. The executive order, however, is not law, so if the AI Foundation Model Transparency Act passes, it will make transparency requirements for training data a federal rule.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – AI Companies Would Be Required To Disclose Copyrighted Training Data Under New Bill

Allie's Christmas Pudding Chronicles: Flambéing and Serving

Christmas has a habit of sneaking up on me. Despite preparing for this moment for five weeks, I still feel like it arrived fast. It’s the final chapter in my six-part series—Allie’s Christmas Pudding Chronicles—and ready or not, it’s time to flambé a figgy pudding. 

I started this exploration in November, on Stir-up Sunday, fascinated with the festive tradition of a Christmas pudding. If you’re just joining the party, Christmas pudding is a spiced cake-like dessert, composed primarily of dried fruit, bread crumbs, sugar, and fat. It’s commonly made in the UK and various countries including New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. As a person born and raised in the US where dried fruit-laden cakes are often mistrusted and the term “pudding” is reserved for custards, I was looking forward to properly trying out this unfamiliar Christmas treat. 

It certainly didn’t disappoint. Every step was an adventure, from soaking the fruit, steaming it, weekly brandyfeedings,” brandy butter (hard sauce), and now, serving it as a ball of flames. There’s a lot to go over in this post. Before you can even think about flambéing, we have to reheat the pudding. Let’s get to it.

Re-steam the pudding

Just when you thought steaming a dessert for five hours seemed strangely thorough, back into the sauna we go. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, also called Stir-up Sunday, I mixed the batter, poured it into a heat-safe glass bowl, wrapped it in a highly detailed fashion with foil, parchment, and kitchen string, and steamed the pudding in a pot for five hours. Well, I had to steam it again, but this time for two hours instead of five. 

If you’ve been joining me with your own pudding, a few hours before you plan on serving the pudding, rewrap the bowl and do the same. (Check this post for pictures on how to wrap the bowl and set up the steamer.) The idea of steaming it again is simply to thoroughly reheat the pud without losing moisture. Since the pudding has been “curing” for five weeks, it’s only natural for it to dry out slightly, even if it’s been well covered and bedaubed with brandy on a weekly basis.

While I have read that you can unmold the pudding, wrap it in foil and pop it in the oven to heat for an hour at 300ºF, or alternatively cover it in vented plastic wrap and microwave it for 15 minutes, these options can further dry out the pudding, or worse. (If you’ve ever forgotten a soft roll in the microwave you know what I mean—mummified.) The steamer creates a humid environment with gentle heat. The way I see it, you put all this work in already, why risk ruining it? 

As I’ve mentioned in the earlier parts of this series, I’m using Nigella Lawson’s recipe as a guide. Some folks say one hour of steaming is sufficient, and Lawson’s instructions say three hours. While the Christmas pudding is dense, my pudding bowl is more wide than deep, so I steamed it for about 90 minutes.

Unmold the pud

Once the pudding is thoroughly reheated, lift it out of the steamer and let it cool on a wire rack. It should be cool enough to handle but still warm; this took about 20 minutes for me. Put an overturned plate on top of the bowl, and flip both of them so the pudding falls down onto the plate. Remove the bowl and there you have it. Does it look like a mottled big brown blob? Yes. But I know what it really is. A softly steaming spiced pudding speckled with plump fruits and exhaling tablespoons of alcohol. 

A few small sections of my pud stuck to the bowl, but it wasn’t catastrophic. I used a rubber spatula to scrape the bits off and stuck them back onto the cake where they belonged. If your cake doesn’t easily dislodge, flip it back right-side up and run a knife around the edge. Sneak a knife or fork down the side toward the bottom. It’s possible the cake is suctioned to the bowl, and making an indentation for air to break the vacuum will help it come out. Peel off the parchment circle on the bottom and top it with a bit of fake holly or some sugared cranberries for presentation.

Flambé and serve

A Christmas pudding next to a slice served with brandy butter.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Traditionally, you flambé a Christmas pudding, but of course you could skip this part and simply slice in. That being said, don’t skip it. It’s so fun. There are a couple ways to safely ignite alcohol, and you can read here for some flambé tips if it’s new to you. I usually heat and light alcohol on the stovetop, but I tried a more low-key method I read about using a candle to flame the pud tableside, so I did what any proud professional does and watched a YouTube video

There are two steps to lighting alcohol on fire: heat the alcohol to emit more fumes, and light the fumes. Normally with food, you can warm the alcohol in a pan on the stove and then use a lighter or the gas burner to light it. In this case, you set up your station at the dinner table (or the coffee table because that’s apartment life sometimes). Light a candle and put the plated pudding next to it. To flambé, use a high proof alcohol. Somewhere between 80 and 90 proof is ideal, so vodka, rum, or brandy will likely be fine. I used the same Neversink Spirits Orchard Brandy that I’ve been using this whole time to “feed” Li’l Pud. 

Bring a metal ladle over to the table, too. Pour the alcohol into it; you only need about 2 or 3 ounces. Hover the ladle over the lit candle and move it around so the alcohol can warm up. I did this for about 20 seconds or so. Then tilt the ladle toward the flame and try to ignite the fumes. It looks pretty easy in the video, however I couldn’t get the flame just right without pouring brandy into my candle. So I needed to bring a lighter over for assistance. I warmed the brandy again over the candle and finally lit the edge of the ladle with the lighter. The blue flames flourished and I poured the ignited brandy onto the Christmas pudding. It’s the closest I’ll get to feeling like a wizard. 

The flames extinguish themselves in a matter of seconds but it’s thrilling to witness for that short time. Serve it with the brandy butter you made last week (it only takes a minute to make), and tuck in. I can say with confidence: fruitcake haters can go kick rocks. This is damn good pud. The dried fruit stayed moist, even from soaking so long ago, and the combination I used was sweet but also delivered a nice bit of tangy flavor. The weird greasy smell the beef tallow had (suet didn’t work out) was completely undetectable. Only warming spices and the deep, treacly flavors of molasses and fruit were present. Oh, and the brandy. That weekly anointing absolutely penetrated through the entire pudding, and it makes quite a statement. The texture was light, spongey, and incredibly moist.

I can see why making a Christmas pudding is something to look forward to every year. It’s like an edible way to keep track of the entire holiday season, and I may very well start my own tradition with it. Though I think I’ll cut the recipe in half and make a mini pudding next year—this one will take me a while to get through, but at least I know it’ll keep for weeks. Have a merry Christmas. I hope you enjoyed my Christmas Pudding Chronicles. I certainly did.

Source: LifeHacker – Allie’s Christmas Pudding Chronicles: Flambéing and Serving

Matter, set to fix smart home standards in 2023, stumbled in the real market

Illustration of Matter protocol simplifying a home network

Enlarge / The Matter standard’s illustration of how the standard should align a home and all its smart devices. (credit: CSA)

Matter, as a smart home standard, would make everything about owning a smart home better. Devices could be set up with any phone, for either remote or local control, put onto any major platform (like Alexa, Google, or HomeKit) or combinations of them, and avoid being orphaned if their device maker goes out of business. Less fragmentation, more security, fewer junked devices: win, win, win.

Matter, as it exists in late 2023, more than a year after its 1.0 specification was published and just under a year after the first devices came online, is more like the xkcd scenario that lots of people might have expected. It’s another home automation standard at the moment, and one that isn’t particularly better than the others, at least how it works today. I wish it was not so.

Setting up a Matter device isn’t easy, nor is making it work across home systems. Lots of devices with Matter support still require you to download their maker’s specific app to get full functionality. Even if you were an early adopting, Matter-T-shirt-wearing enthusiast, you’re still buying devices that don’t work quite as well, and still generally require a major tech company’s gear to act as your bridge or router.

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Source: Ars Technica – Matter, set to fix smart home standards in 2023, stumbled in the real market