Extremely drug-resistant germ found in eye drops infects 55 in 12 states; 1 dead

Young man applying eye drops.

Enlarge (credit: Getty | UniversalImagesGroup)

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

An extensively drug-resistant bacterial strain is spreading in the US for the first time and causing an alarming outbreak linked to artificial tears eye drops, according to an alert released Wednesday evening from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far, the germ has caused various infections in 55 people in 12 states, killing one and leaving others hospitalized and with permanent vision loss.

Infected patients reported using more than 10 brands of artificial tears collectively, with some patients using multiple brands. But the most common brand used among the patients was EzriCare Artificial Tears, a preservative-free product sold by Walmart, Amazon, and other retailers.

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Source: Ars Technica – Extremely drug-resistant germ found in eye drops infects 55 in 12 states; 1 dead

Anker Finally Comes Clean About Its Eufy Security Cameras

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: First, Anker told us it was impossible. Then, it covered its tracks. It repeatedly deflected while utterly ignoring our emails. So shortly before Christmas, we gave the company an ultimatum: if Anker wouldn’t answer why its supposedly always-encrypted Eufy cameras were producing unencrypted streams — among other questions — we would publish a story about the company’s lack of answers. It worked.

In a series of emails to The Verge, Anker has finally admitted its Eufy security cameras are not natively end-to-end encrypted — they can and did produce unencrypted video streams for Eufy’s web portal, like the ones we accessed from across the United States using an ordinary media player. But Anker says that’s now largely fixed. Every video stream request originating from Eufy’s web portal will now be end-to-end encrypted — like they are with Eufy’s app — and the company says it’s updating every single Eufy camera to use WebRTC, which is encrypted by default. Reading between the lines, though, it seems that these cameras could still produce unencrypted footage upon request.

That’s not all Anker is disclosing today. The company has apologized for the lack of communication and promised to do better, confirming it’s bringing in outside security and penetration testing companies to audit Eufy’s practices, is in talks with a “leading and well-known security expert” to produce an independent report, is promising to create an official bug bounty program, and will launch a microsite in February to explain how its security works in more detail. Those independent audits and reports may be critical for Eufy to regain trust because of how the company has handled the findings of security researchers and journalists. It’s a little hard to take the company at its word! But we also think Anker Eufy customers, security researchers and journalists deserve to read and weigh those words, particularly after so little initial communication from the company. That’s why we’re publishing Anker’s full responses [here]. As highlighted by Ars Technica, some of the notable statements include:
– Its web portal now prohibits users from entering “debug mode.”
– Video stream content is encrypted and inaccessible outside the portal.
– While “only 0.1 percent” of current daily users access the portal, it “had some issues,” which have been resolved.
– Eufy is pushing WebRTC to all of its security devices as the end-to-end encrypted stream protocol.
– Facial recognition images were uploaded to the cloud to aid in replacing/resetting/adding doorbells with existing image sets, but has been discontinued. No recognition data was included with images sent to the cloud.
– Outside of the “recent issue with the web portal,” all other video uses end-to-end encryption.
– A “leading and well-known security expert” will produce a report about Eufy’s systems.
– “Several new security consulting, certification, and penetration testing” firms will be brought in for risk assessment.
– A “Eufy Security bounty program” will be established.
– The company promises to “provide more timely updates in our community (and to the media!).”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Anker Finally Comes Clean About Its Eufy Security Cameras

How to Get All That Crap Off Your Roku Home Screen

No one wants to deal with so many preinstalled channels on their Roku, especially when you only have a few you regularly watch. As it turns out, there’s no need to keep those unnecessary channels around. In fact, you can delete any and all of them.

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Source: LifeHacker – How to Get All That Crap Off Your Roku Home Screen

Apple’s record service revenue couldn’t make up for falling hardware sales

As many Apple watchers have predicted, the company’s financial results this quarter are a break from the last few years of nonstop growth. The iPhone maker reported a revenue of $117.2 billion for its first fiscal quarter (ended December 2022), which is five percent down year over year, marking the first time Apple’s revenue is down since 2019. 

There are a couple of bright spots in the company’s performance, namely in its setting a revenue record of $20.8 billion in its Services business and hitting more than 2 billion active devices in its installed base. All-time revenue records were also set in markets like Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, Spain, Turkey and Vietnam.

In a statement, CEO Tim Cook said “As we all continue to navigate a challenging environment, we are proud to have our best lineup of products and services ever, and as always, we remain focused on the long term and are leading with our values in everything we do.”

On its earnings call, Cook said there were three main things that impacted revenue: the “challenging macroeconomic environment”, foreign exchange issues and COVID-related supply constraints that led to delays in the ship times of iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models. “Production is now back to where we want it to be,” he added.

Apple’s decline in revenue is in line with a general slump in the tech industry, with Meta having just reported revenues that are 4 percent down from the previous year. Alphabet is also seeing a slowdown in growth this quarter, and while Microsoft saw its revenue climb, its earnings missed expectations and profits fell by 12 percent. Amid the economic downturn, tech companies havebeenlaying off significant portions of their workforce, though Apple doesn’t appear to have made similar moves at the moment.

The company is holding a call to go into detail about its financial results at 5pm ET / 2pm PT today, and we will update this post with any additional news and insight.

Source: Engadget – Apple’s record service revenue couldn’t make up for falling hardware sales

The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 7.5 Community

Version 7.5 of the LibreOffice Community edition is now available. LibreOffice is, of course, the FOSS desktop office suite; version 7.5 brings new features to multiple parts of the tool, including major improvements to dark mode, better PDF exports, improved bookmarks in Writer, data tables for charts in Calc, better interoperability with Microsoft Office, and lots more.
Check out the release notes for further information.

LibreOffice 7.5 Community’s new features have been developed by 144
contributors: 63% of code commits are from the 47 developers employed by
three companies sitting in TDF’s Advisory Board – Collabora, Red Hat and
allotropia – or other organizations, 12% are from 6 developers at The
Document Foundation, and the remaining 25% are from 91 individual

Other 112 volunteers – representing hundreds of other people providing
translations – have committed localizations in 158 languages. LibreOffice
7.5 Community is released in 120 different language versions, more than any
other free or proprietary software, and as such can be used in the native
language (L1) by over 5.4 billion people worldwide. In addition, over 2.3
billion people speak one of those 120 languages as their second language

Source: LWN.net – The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 7.5 Community

A Fighter Turns to Breakfast Alchemy in Sci-Fi Short Steel Cut Oats

In a roadside diner, an aging former boxer (Seinfeld’s Brian George) tells a friendly server (The School for Good and Evil’s Rachel Bloom) a magical tale from his fighting past—involving a very special match between a monster made of radioactive oatmeal and a steam-powered robot. No wonder he gets misty when he sees…

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Source: Gizmodo – A Fighter Turns to Breakfast Alchemy in Sci-Fi Short Steel Cut Oats

T-Pain Changed Music Forever, Now He's Coming For Twitch

2016 was T-Pain’s Twitch channel’s inaugural year, and it’s also the first time Pain remembers getting trolled. “At the time, my music career was kind of on a downward spiral,” he says during our Zoom call this Monday. “People were coming into my chat and telling me stuff like, ‘You’re only streaming because you don’t…

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Source: Kotaku – T-Pain Changed Music Forever, Now He’s Coming For Twitch

Wine 8.1 Released – Now Exposed As "Windows 10" For New Prefixes

Following the release of Wine 8.0 stable from a week and a half ago, Wine 8.1 is out today as the first bi-weekly development snapshot for this open-source software that allows running Windows games and applications on Linux, macOS, and other platforms. These Wine 8.x development snapshots will then culminate with the release of Wine 9.0 next year…

Source: Phoronix – Wine 8.1 Released – Now Exposed As “Windows 10” For New Prefixes

Let's Stop Calling Foods 'Ultra-Processed'

Ultra-processed foods have been linked with increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and dementia. These foods include a lot of fast foods and factory-produced snacks, which probably sounds about right—they are the things we might categorize as junk food. But to focus on the “processing” leaves more questions than it…

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Source: LifeHacker – Let’s Stop Calling Foods ‘Ultra-Processed’

Alphabet's revenues are still growing, but just barely

It’s no secret that the huge tech companies are still making money hand over fist, but there’s also a noticeable slowdown going on. Google’s parent company Alphabet is not immune — the company just reported its earnings results for Q4 of 2022, and just barely grew revenue year over year. The $76 billion the company pulled in during the quarter is up only one percent from Q4 of 2021. 

Google’s ad business is the backbone of the company, and revenue slipped there by about 3.5 percent compared to a year ago. But eight percent growth in the “other” category (which includes products like Google and Nest hardware and revenue from the Play Store) and 32 percent yearly growth in in Google Cloud made up for those ad losses. Overall profits, meanwhile, dropped significantly: Quarterly net income of $13.6 billion is down 34 percent year-over-year.

Of course, the backdrop for all this is that Google announced a few weeks ago that it is laying off about 12,000 employees; that makes up about six percent of the company’s overall workforce. At the time those layoffs were announced, we didn’t yet know what Google’s financials for last quarter looked like, but now we can see that things are slowing down. 

That’s all relatively speaking, though. Net income of $60 billion for 2022 as a whole was down significantly compared to the $76 billion in profit Alphabet made in 2021 — but it’s still far ahead of the $40 billion the company pulled in for 2020. It looks like the big numbers Alphabet posted in 2021 weren’t exactly sustainable, and obviously we don’t yet know what 2023 will bring. But we’ll be tuning into the company’s call with investors, which starts at 4:30PM ET, to see what additional details CEO Sundar Pichai can share about the state of Alphabet in the year to come.

Source: Engadget – Alphabet’s revenues are still growing, but just barely

Shell's Actual Spending on Renewables is Fraction of What It Claims, Group Alleges

Shell has misleadingly overstated how much it is spending on renewable energy and should be investigated and potentially fined by the US financial regulator, according to a non-profit group which has lodged a complaint against the oil giant. From a report: The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been urged to act over Shell’s most recent annual report in which it stated 12% of its capital expenditure was funneled into a division called Renewables and Energy Solutions in 2021. The division’s webpage, which is adorned with pictures of wind turbines and solar panels, says it is working to invest in “wind, solar, electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, and more.” However, Global Witness, the activist group that has lodged the new complaint with the SEC, argues that just 1.5% of Shell’s capital expenditure has been used to develop genuine renewables, such as wind and solar, with much of the rest of the division’s resources devoted to gas, which is a fossil fuel.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Shell’s Actual Spending on Renewables is Fraction of What It Claims, Group Alleges

Self-Powered Tripod Levels Your Camera All By Itself

For the photographer who’s overwhelmed by all the equipment they need to set up before snapping the perfect shot, Benro will soon be introducing what it claims to be the “world’s first auto-leveling travel tripod,” which uses self-adjusting legs to perfectly level itself at the push of a button.

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Source: Gizmodo – Self-Powered Tripod Levels Your Camera All By Itself

Alarming IceBreaker Malware Gives Hackers A Backdoor Into Gaming And Gambling Websites

Alarming IceBreaker Malware Gives Hackers A Backdoor Into Gaming And Gambling Websites
We often report on phishing campaigns involving fraudulent customer support agents who trick victims into giving up sensitive information or installing malware on their systems. However, sometimes threat actors flip this script, instead posing as customers in need of help in order to prey on customer support agents. The cybersecurity firm

Source: Hot Hardware – Alarming IceBreaker Malware Gives Hackers A Backdoor Into Gaming And Gambling Websites

Work Revived On Parallel CPU Bring-Up To Boot Linux Faster On Large Systems/Servers

Originally posted two years ago were Linux kernel patches for bringing up of CPU cores in parallel to speed-up the Linux boot process. With the growing core counts of servers and even high-end desktops / HEDT platforms, this parallel bring-up can lead to significant time savings at boot. The work, unfortunately, stalled but has now been revised…

Source: Phoronix – Work Revived On Parallel CPU Bring-Up To Boot Linux Faster On Large Systems/Servers

Then and Now: 10 Times New York City Drastically Changed via Google Maps

New York City has always been a major hub for financial, commercial, and cultural development with its iconic skyscrapers and dense population. But over the past decade or so, we’ve been able to see the way the city has changed like never before—with Google Maps. Google Maps allows users to (depending on the location)…

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Source: Gizmodo – Then and Now: 10 Times New York City Drastically Changed via Google Maps

14 Anime Couples Who Were Better Off Without Each Other

Valentine’s day, the corporate holiday of love, has a lot of folks fiending to get with the person they adore. However, oftentimes cupid’s arrow happens to land on people who just make each other worse (and not in the fun kinky way). No medium serves up a hearty helping of such toxic couples quite like anime.

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Source: Kotaku – 14 Anime Couples Who Were Better Off Without Each Other

After 16 years of freeware, Dwarf Fortress creators get their $7M payday

Screen from Dwarf Fortress Steam release

Enlarge / The quirky work of two brothers’ lives has found a wider audience on Steam and Itchi.io, and now they have some breathing room. (credit: Bay 12 Games)

The month before Dwarf Fortress was released on Steam (and Itch.io), the brothers Zach and Tarn Adams made $15,635 in revenue, mostly from donations for their 16-year freeware project. The month after the game’s commercial debut, they made $7,230,123, or 462 times that amount.

“The fairytale ending is reality, but you didn’t kiss the toad,” Zach Adams wrote on Bay 12 Games’ forums. “You gave him money.” He went on to write the kind of grateful response to fans you don’t often see from game developers:

The appreciation you give us is part of our being now. It carries us in the cars we drive. It sustains us as the food that we eat. There is now no longer any existence except the one that you have provided. When we pass from this world, you will be the reason we are remembered.

Tarn Adams noted that “a little less than half will go to taxes,” and that other people and expenses must be paid. But enough of it will reach the brothers themselves that “we’ve solved the main issues of health/retirement that are troubling for independent people.” It also means that Putnam, a longtime modder and scripter and community member, can continue their work on the Dwarf Fortress code base, having been hired in December.

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Source: Ars Technica – After 16 years of freeware, Dwarf Fortress creators get their M payday

Squid skin inspires novel “liquid windows” for greater energy savings

Artist’s impression of prototype

Enlarge / Artist’s impression of a “liquid window’ prototype inspired by the structure of squid skin. (credit: Raphael Kay, Adrian So)

Squid and several other cephalopods can rapidly shift the colors in their skin, thanks to that skin’s unique structure. Engineers at the University of Toronto have drawn inspiration from the squid to create a prototype for “liquid windows” that can shift the wavelength, intensity, and distribution of light transmitted through those windows, thereby saving substantially on energy costs. They described their work in a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Buildings use a ton of energy to heat, cool, and illuminate the spaces inside them,” said co-author Raphael Kay. “If we can strategically control the amount, type, and direction of solar energy that enters our buildings, we can massively reduce the amount of work that we ask heaters, coolers, and lights to do.” Kay likes to think of buildings as living organisms that also have “skin,” i.e., an outer layer of exterior facades and windows. But these features are largely static, limiting how much the building “system” can be optimized in changing ambient conditions.

Installing blinds that can open and close is a crude means of easing the load on lighting and heating/cooling systems. Electrochromatic windows that change their opacity when a voltage is applied are a more sophisticated option. But, per Kay, these systems are pricey and have complicated manufacturing processes and a limited range of opacities. Nor is it possible to shade one part of a windowpane but not another.

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Source: Ars Technica – Squid skin inspires novel “liquid windows” for greater energy savings