US To Spend $1.5 Billion To Jumpstart Alternatives To Huawei

The federal government plans to invest $1.5 billion to help spur a standards-based alternative for the gear at the heart of modern cellular networks. From a report: Experts say — and the government agrees — that there are economic and national security risks in having such equipment made only by a handful of companies overseas, with the most affordable products coming from China’s Huawei. The most likely effort to benefit from the new funding is known as ORAN (Open Radio Access Network), which uses standard computing gear to replace what has been proprietary hardware from companies like Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei. The federal government is kicking off the program with a public comment period, which will run through Jan. 23. Funding for the effort was provided by the Chips and Science Act. The U.S. has largely banned use of Huawei’s devices over security concerns amid deepening U.S.-China tensions.

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Source: Slashdot – US To Spend .5 Billion To Jumpstart Alternatives To Huawei

Telegram is Auctioning Phone Numbers To Let Users Sign Up To the Service Without Any SIM

Ivan Mehta, writing for TechCrunch: After putting unique usernames on the auction on the TON blockchain, Telegram is now putting anonymous numbers up for bidding. These numbers could be used to sign up for Telegram without needing any SIM card. Just like the username auction, you can buy these virtual numbers on Fragment, which is a site specially created for Telegram-related auctions. To buy a number, you will have to link your TON wallet (Tonkeeper) to the website. You can buy a random number for as low as 9 toncoins, which is equivalent to roughly $16.50 at the time of writing. Some of the premium virtual numbers — such as +888-8-888 — are selling for 31,500 toncoins (~$58,200). Notably, you can only use this number to sign up for Telegram. You can’t use it to receive SMS or calls or use it to register for another service.

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Source: Slashdot – Telegram is Auctioning Phone Numbers To Let Users Sign Up To the Service Without Any SIM

Gut Bacteria Are Linked To Depression

Two studies published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications found a link between several types of bacteria in the gut and depressive symptoms. The first study, titled “Gut microbiome-wide association study of depressive symptoms,” reports: Here we investigate the relation of fecal microbiome diversity and composition with depressive symptoms in 1,054 participants from the Rotterdam Study cohort and validate these findings in the Amsterdam HELIUS cohort in 1,539 subjects. We identify association of thirteen microbial taxa, including genera Eggerthella, Subdoligranulum, Coprococcus, Sellimonas, Lachnoclostridium, Hungatella, Ruminococcaceae (UCG002, UCG003 and UCG005), LachnospiraceaeUCG001, Eubacterium ventriosum and Ruminococcusgauvreauiigroup, and family Ruminococcaceae with depressive symptoms. These bacteria are known to be involved in the synthesis of glutamate, butyrate, serotonin and gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), which are key neurotransmitters for depression. Our study suggests that the gut microbiome composition may play a key role in depression. The second study, titled “The gut microbiota and depressive symptoms across ethnic groups,” reports: Both the microbiome and depressive symptom levels vary substantially across ethnic groups. Thus, any intervention for depression targeting the microbiome requires understanding of microbiome-depression associations across ethnicities. Analyzing data from the HELIUS cohort, we characterize the gut microbiota and its associations with depressive symptoms in 6 ethnic groups (Dutch, South-Asian Surinamese, African Surinamese, Ghanaian, Turkish, Moroccan; N=3211), living in the same urban area. Diversity of the gut microbiota, both within (a-diversity) and between individuals (B-diversity), predicts depressive symptom levels, taking into account demographic, behavioural, and medical differences. These associations do not differ between ethnic groups. Further, B-diversity explains 29%-18% of the ethnic differences in depressive symptoms. Bacterial genera associated with depressive symptoms belong to mulitple families, prominently including the families Christensenellaceae, Lachnospiraceae, and Ruminococcaceae. In summary, the results show that the gut microbiota are linked to depressive symptom levels and that this association generalizes across ethnic groups. Moreover, the results suggest that ethnic differences in the gut microbiota may partly explain parallel disparities in depression. The Wall Street Journal shared (paywalled) the findings.

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Source: Slashdot – Gut Bacteria Are Linked To Depression

Renewables Will Overtake Coal by Early 2025, Energy Agency Says

Elena Shao reports via the New York Times: Worldwide, growth in renewable power capacity is set to double by 2027, adding as much renewable power in the next five years as it did in the past two decades, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday. Renewables are posed to overtake coal as the largest source of electricity generation by early 2025, the report found, a pattern driven in large part by the global energy crisis linked to the war in Ukraine. “This is a clear example of how the current energy crisis can be a historic turning point toward a cleaner and more secure energy system,” said Fatih Birol, the I.E.A. executive director, in a news release.

The expansion of renewable power in the next five years will happen much faster than what the agency forecast just a year ago in its last annual report, said Heymi Bahar, a senior analyst at the I.E.A. and one of the lead authors of the report. The report revised last year’s forecast of renewable growth upward by 30 percent after the introduction of new policies by some of the world’s largest emitters, like the European Union, the United States and China. While there has been a wartime resurgence in fossil fuel consumption as European countries have scrambled to replace gas from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in February, the effects are likely to be short-lived, the agency said. […]

Instead, over the next five years, the global energy crisis is expected to accelerate renewable energy growth as countries embrace low-emissions technology in response to soaring fossil fuel prices, including wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear power plants, hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles and electric heat pumps. Heating and cooling buildings with renewable power is one of the sectors that needs to see larger improvement, the report said. The United States passed the Inflation Reduction Act this year, a landmark climate and tax law that, among many investments to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, made an “unforeseen” expansion in long-term tax credits for solar and wind projects extending through 2032, Mr. Bahar said. Previously, these tax credits had been revised a few years at a time. Extending the credits until 2032 provides better certainty for investors, which is important in the energy industry, Mr. Bahar said. China alone is forecast to install almost half of the new global renewable power capacity over the next five years, based on targets set in the country’s new five-year plan. Even still, the country is accelerating coal mining and production at coal-burning power plants.

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Source: Slashdot – Renewables Will Overtake Coal by Early 2025, Energy Agency Says

Dwarf Fortress' Graphical Upgrade Provides a New Way Into a Wildly Wonky Game

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica, written by Kevin Purdy: Available tomorrow on Steam and itch.io, the new version of Dwarf Fortress updates the legendary (and legendarily arcane) colony-building roguelike with new pixel-art graphics, music, some (default) keyboard shortcuts, and a beginners’ tutorial. The commercial release aims to do two things: make the game somewhat more accessible and provide Tarn and Zach Adams, the brothers who maintained the game as a free download for 20 years, some financial security. I know it has succeeded at its first job, and I suspect it will hit the second mark, too. I approached the game as a head-first review expedition into likely frustrating territory. Now I find myself distracted from writing about it because I keep thinking about my goblin defense and whether the fisherdwarf might be better assigned to gem crafting. “For me, the commercial release of Dwarf Fortress succeeded at transforming the game from a grim, time-killing in-joke for diehards into a viable, if not graceful, challenge,” writes Purdy. “I will start again, I will keep the badgers and floods at bay, and next time, I might have the privilege of failing to a magma monster, an outbreak of disease, or even a miscarriage of dwarf justice.”

Further reading:
The Brilliance of Dwarf Fortress (Slashdot, 2011)

Dwarf Fortress Gets Biggest Update In Years (Slashdot, 2014)

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Source: Slashdot – Dwarf Fortress’ Graphical Upgrade Provides a New Way Into a Wildly Wonky Game

Real-ID Requirement Pushed Back To 2025

frdmfghtr shares a report from NBC News: The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it is extending the deadline to require Real ID-compliant identification for air travelers, pushing the start date from May 3, 2023, to May 7, 2025. The deadline for the new IDs has already been extended previously. While time extensions in the past were caused by a lack of full state compliance with the requirements for issuing the more secure driver’s licenses, the deadline was previously pushed from October 2021 to this coming May, officials said at the time, because the pandemic had made it harder for people to get into state motor vehicle departments to obtain the new identifications. “For those who aren’t aware, this requirement came about after the 9/11 attacks way back in 2001, supposedly required to make the IDs harder to counterfeit,” adds Slashdot reader frdmfghtr in a comment. “If the requirement has been pushed out repeatedly to almost 20 years after the original deadline, then it could not have been that necessary.”

In 2005, the U.S. Senate passed the Real ID act 100-0. It was included in the $82 billion Iraq Supplemental Spending Bill.

In an article from 2006, Ars Technica detailed some of the financial and technological challenges associated with implementing the act.

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Source: Slashdot – Real-ID Requirement Pushed Back To 2025

Apple Music Is Getting a Karaoke Mode

Apple on Tuesday announced Apple Music Sing, a karaoke experience that will be built right into the Apple Music app. The Verge reports: With Apple Music Sing, you’ll be able to follow along with Apple Music’s real-time lyrics and adjust the volume of the vocals so that you can better hear your singing voice. There are a few features designed to make it easier to sing with others, too. Background vocals can appear independently of main vocals, according to Apple, and there will be a duet view as well if you want to sing along with a friend. Apple will have more than 50 “dedicated companion playlists” featuring karaoke-ready songs that you can pick from. Apple Music Sing is launching “later this month” for Apple Music subscribers.

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Source: Slashdot – Apple Music Is Getting a Karaoke Mode

New Winamp Update Adds Features, Fixes, and (Sigh) Support For 'Music NFTs'

The release candidate for Winamp version 5.9.1 builds on the groundwork laid by August’s 5.9 update to fix some bugs and add new features to the reanimated music player. “Most of these are straightforward updates or improvements to existing features, but because it’s 2022, one of the only new features is support for music NFTs,” reports Ars Technica. From the report: “Winamp’s latest version lets music fans link their Metamask wallet via Brave, Chrome, or Firefox to Winamp. It then connects their favorite music NFTs to their tried-and-true player,” the company said in a press release provided to Ars. “Winamp supports audio and video files distributed under both the ERC-721 and ERC-1155 standards, and is launching this new feature for Ethereum and Polygon/Matic protocols.” To directly display websites needed to download these NFT playlists, according to the release notes, would require an updated rendering engine for Winamp’s in-app browser, which is currently based on Internet Explorer 10.

There’s still plenty here for legacy Winamp fans to like, and it’s nice to see that all the modernization work done in the 5.9 update is paying off in the form of faster updates. Among many other fixes, the new release includes a “memory footprint reduction,” a bandwidth increase for streamed music, an update to OpenSSL 3.0.5, and a few other updates for the underlying codecs and other software that Winamp uses to do its thing. As for the NFT support, Winamp developer Eddy Richman (who goes by the handle “DJ Egg” on the Winamp forums) wrote that people who don’t want it can remove it, either during the install process or after Winamp is installed.

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Source: Slashdot – New Winamp Update Adds Features, Fixes, and (Sigh) Support For ‘Music NFTs’

Remote Work Is Gutting Downtowns, Will Cost Cities $453 Billion

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Insider: Deserted downtowns have been haunting US cities since the beginning of the pandemic. Before the pandemic, 95% of offices were occupied. Today that number is closer to 47%. Employees’ not returning to downtown offices has had a domino effect: Less foot traffic, less public-transit use, and more shuttered businesses have caused many downtowns to feel more like ghost towns. Even 2 1/2 years later, most city downtowns aren’t back to where they were prepandemic. […] The increased cancellations of office leases have cratered the office real-estate market. A study led by Arpit Gupta, a professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business, characterized the value wipeout as an “apocalypse.” It estimated that $453 billion in real-estate value would be lost across US cities, with a 17-percentage-point decline in lease revenue from January 2020 to May 2022. The shock to real-estate valuations has been sharp: One building in San Francisco’s Mission District that sold for $397 million in 2019 is on the market for about $155 million, a 60% decline.

Other key indicators that economists use to measure the economic vitality of downtowns include office vacancy rates, public-transportation ridership, and local business spending. Across the country, public-transportation ridership remains stuck at about 70% of prepandemic levels. If only 56% of employees of financial firms in New York are in the office on a given day, the health of a city’s urban core is negatively affected. The second-order effects of remote work and a real-estate apocalypse are still playing out, but it isn’t looking good. Declines in real-estate valuations lead to lower property taxes, which affects the revenue collected to foot the bill of city budgets. Declines in foot traffic have deteriorated business corridors; a recent survey by the National League of Cities suggested cities expect at least a 2.5% decline in sales-tax receipts and a 4% decline in revenue for fiscal 2022. “The solution to the office-housing conundrum seems obvious: Turn commercial spaces like offices into housing. Empty offices can become apartments to ease housing pressure while also bringing more people back to downtown areas,” reports Insider. “But after two years, few buildings have been converted.” According to the report, it’s being hampered by hard-to-justify construction costs and local housing rules.

“Overall, combating the death of downtowns requires a reworking of how we think about cities and the value they provide,” the report says. “The urban author Jane Jacobs proclaimed in her famous 1958 article for Fortune magazine, ‘Downtown Is for People,’ that “‘there is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.'”

“The economic health of cities is intrinsically linked to how space is used or unused, and right now downtowns are undergoing a massive shift. Despite the sluggish movement, it’s in cities’ best interest to figure out how to quickly convert office-centric downtowns into something more suitable for everyone.”

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Source: Slashdot – Remote Work Is Gutting Downtowns, Will Cost Cities 3 Billion

FTC Probes 'Possible Misconduct' In Cryptocurrency Advertising

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating several unnamed crypto firms over deceptive or misleading crypto advertising, according to a Bloomberg report. Decrypt reports: “We are investigating several firms for possible misconduct concerning digital assets,” the FTC spokeswoman Juliana Gruenwald Henderson said in a statement. Henderson declined to share further information about which firms are the subject of the probe or what had prompted the Commission to launch investigations.

According to the FTC’s website, “when consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence.” Additionally, the agency enforces laws that require truth in advertising, including rules that individuals disclose when they have been paid for endorsements or reviews. “While we can’t comment on current events in the crypto markets or the details of any ongoing investigations, we are investigating several firms for possible misconduct concerning digital assets” an FTC spokesperson told Decrypt.

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Source: Slashdot – FTC Probes ‘Possible Misconduct’ In Cryptocurrency Advertising

Amazon Luna Can Now Play Games You Own On PC, No Channel Subscriptions Required

Amazon Luna is one of the better cloud gaming options if you play a lot of Ubisoft titles, and it’s getting a big upgrade this week. You can now sync purchases on Luna to PC and play without a subscription. 9to5Google reports: Since its launch, Amazon Luna has worked solely on a subscription model. Players can access games through “channels,” each of which includes a rotating selection of games. One of those channels is Ubisoft+, which has a selection of Ubisoft games for $17.99/month that can share that subscription cost with other platforms such as PC. But the one downside of Luna is that you always need one of those subscriptions — that is, until now.

Available starting today, Amazon Luna will allow players to stream Ubisoft games they’ve purchased on PC without any channel subscriptions needed. You just need accounts from Amazon and from Ubisoft and to purchase compatible games. The only subscription required is Amazon Prime. By syncing Ubisoft Connect with Luna, players can stream their purchases instantly with no downloads and on more devices, such as Chromebooks and smartphones. But unlike other cloud platforms that have allowed purchases, such as Stadia, these games can also be downloaded and played on PC. Amazon notes that once your accounts are linked, future purchases from the Ubisoft Store will automatically appear in Luna.

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Source: Slashdot – Amazon Luna Can Now Play Games You Own On PC, No Channel Subscriptions Required

Apple Loosens Grip On App Store Pricing With 700 New Price Points

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Apple is loosening its requirements around how developers have to price their apps as legal and regulatory pressure over its tight control of the App Store intensifies. The company announced today it’s expanding its App Store pricing system to offer developers access to 700 additional price points, bringing the new total number of price points available to 900. It will also allow U.S. developers to set prices for apps, in-app purchases or subscriptions as low as $0.29 or as high as $10,000, and in rounded endings (like $1.00) instead of just $0.99. Similar new policies to reduce restrictions around price points will roll out in global markets, alongside new tools aimed at helping developers better manage pricing outside their local market. The changes will initially become available starting today, Dec. 6, 2022, for auto-renewable subscriptions. They’ll become available to paid apps and in-app purchases in Spring 2023.

U.S. consumers may have noticed some App Store prices already ended in other digits besides just $0.99. But that’s because auto-renewing subscriptions had access to a slightly wider range of price points than other consumables — including the ability to set their prices as low as $0.49. But these same rules did not apply to non-subscription app pricing, which added to consumer and developer confusion. The new system is looking to simplify the pricing so it’s more consistent across the board. For U.S. apps in the lowest tiers, price points can increase in $0.10 increments up to $10.00 going forward. These price steps become less granular when you move into higher price points. For example, between $10 and $50, they then can increase by $0.50 increments. Between $50 and $200, the price steps would be $1.00, and so on.

In addition to the updated pricing policies, Apple is also now rolling out tools to help developers better manage currency and taxes across storefronts. Starting today, developers will be able to set their subscription prices in their local currency as the basis for automatically generating pricing across the other 174 storefronts and 44 currencies, or they can choose to manually set prices in each market. When pricing is set automatically, pricing outside a developer’s home market will update as foreign exchange and tax rates change. This functionality will expand to all other apps beyond subscription apps in Spring 2023. Also coming in 2023, developers with paid apps and in-app purchases will be able to choose to set local territory pricing, which isn’t impacted by automatic price adjustments based on the changes in taxes and foreign exchange rates. And all developers will also be able to define the availability of in-app purchases by storefront.

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Source: Slashdot – Apple Loosens Grip On App Store Pricing With 700 New Price Points

Telegram Premium Tops 1 Million Subscribers

Telegram Premium has amassed over 1 million subscribers, less than six months after the popular instant messaging app launched the paid offering and began a serious effort to monetize the business. From a report: Pavel Durov shared the update on his Telegram channel Tuesday, calling the milestone “one of the most successful examples of a social media subscription plan ever launched.” The subscription, however, still “represents just a fraction of Telegram’s overall revenue,” he shared in the same update, optimistically hoping that one day Premium will rake in just as much money as ads.

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Source: Slashdot – Telegram Premium Tops 1 Million Subscribers

Amazon is Offering Customers $2 Per Month For Letting the Company Monitor the Traffic on Their Phones

Some Amazon users will now earn $2 dollar per month for agreeing to share their traffic data with the retail giant. From a report: Under the company’s new invite-only Ad Verification program, Amazon is tracking what ads participants saw, where they saw them, and the time of day they were viewed. This includes Amazon’s own ads and third-party ads on the platform. Through the program, Amazon hopes to offer more personalized-ad experiences to customers that reflect what they have previously purchased, according to Amazon.

“Your participation will help brands offer better products and make ads from Amazon more relevant,”Amazon wrote in its Shopper Panel FAQ.
The $2 reward only applies to Amazon users invited to participate in the program, though customers who didn’t get invited can get added to a waitlist and potentially join later, an Amazon spokesperson told Insider. The spokesperson declined to tell Insider how the company decided who to invite.

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Source: Slashdot – Amazon is Offering Customers Per Month For Letting the Company Monitor the Traffic on Their Phones

Intel's Take on the Next Wave of Moore's Law

The next wave of Moore’s Law will rely on a developing concept called system technology co-optimization, Ann B. Kelleher, general manager of technology development at Intel told IEEE Spectrum in an interview ahead of her plenary talk at the 2022 IEEE Electron Device Meeting. From a report: “Moore’s Law is about increasing the integration of functions,” says Kelleher. “As we look forward into the next 10 to 20 years, there’s a pipeline full of innovation” that will continue the cadence of improved products every two years. That path includes the usual continued improvements in semiconductor processes and design, but system technology co-optimization (STCO) will make the biggest difference. Kelleher calls it an “outside-in” manner of development. It starts with the workload a product needs to support and its software, then works down to system architecture, then what type of silicon must be within a package, and finally down to the semiconductor manufacturing process. “With system technology co-optimization, it means all the pieces are optimized together so that you’re getting your best answer for the end product,” she says.

STCO is an option now in large part because advanced packaging, such as 3D integration, is allowing the high-bandwidth connection of chiplets — small, functional chips — inside a single package. This means that what would once be functions on a single chip can be disaggregated onto dedicated chiplets, which can each then be made using the most optimal semiconductor process technology. For example, Kelleher points out in her plenary that high-performance computing demands a large amount of cache memory per processor core, but chipmaker’s ability to shrink SRAM is not proceeding at the same pace as the scaling down of logic. So it makes sense to build SRAM caches and compute cores as separate chiplets using different process technology and then stitch them together using 3D integration. A key example of STCO in action, says Kelleher, is the Ponte Vecchio processor at the heart of the Aurora supercomputer. It’s composed of 47 active chiplets (as well as 8 blanks for thermal conduction). These are stitched together using both advanced horizontal connections (2.5 packaging tech) and 3D stacking. “It brings together silicon from different fabs and enables them to come together so that the system is able to perform against the workload that it’s designed for,” she says.

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Source: Slashdot – Intel’s Take on the Next Wave of Moore’s Law

Apple Scales Back Self-Driving Car and Delays Debut Till '26

Apple has scaled back ambitious self-driving plans for its future electric vehicle and postponed the car’s target launch date by about a year to 2026, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing people with knowledge of the matter. From the report: The car project, dubbed Titan inside the company, has been in limbo for the past several months as Apple executives grappled with the reality that its vision for a fully autonomous vehicle — without a steering wheel or pedals — isn’t feasible with current technology. In a significant shift for the project, the company is now planning a less-ambitious design that will include a steering wheel and pedals and only support full autonomous capabilities on highways, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. […] Apple had expected each car to sell for more than $120,000, but the company is now aiming to offer the vehicle to consumers for less than $100,000, according to the people.

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Source: Slashdot – Apple Scales Back Self-Driving Car and Delays Debut Till ’26

Google Search Brings Continuous Scrolling To Desktop

Google’s search results on desktop will load in a continuous scroll instead of dividing into pages, the company has announced. From a report: The move follows a similar change made on mobile in October last year, but isn’t quite an “infinite” scroll. Instead, Google will load six pages of results into a single scroll before offering users a “See more” button to show more results. Google says the change is rolling out first for English searches in the US, but judging by the rollout of the feature on mobile it seems safe to expect to see additional markets and languages added over time.

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Source: Slashdot – Google Search Brings Continuous Scrolling To Desktop

The World Cup of Microsoft Excel

Competitive Excel clearly is not the NFL, but it does have the beginnings of a fan base. From a report: This was just the second year of the World Championship, but it’s already streaming on ESPN3. This year’s edition has 30,000 views on YouTube. Supporters of Michael Jarman, the No. 3 seed in this year’s competition, call themselves the “Jarmy Army.” A few months ago, an all-star game of sorts aired on ESPN2, and this month, ESPNU will televise the collegiate championship. The tournament begins with a 128-player field and proceeds March Madness — style, in one-on-one, single-elimination contests. The format lends itself to frequent upsets: This year, the No. 2 seed was eliminated in the third round. In each match, players work as fast as possible — they’re generally given about 30 minutes — to answer a series of progressively more difficult questions testing both their puzzle-solving skills and their fluency with Excel.

The questions all revolve around the same scenario. In the quarterfinal, for example, the questions all had to do with a fictional country transitioning from dictatorship to democracy. The first and easiest question asked players to calculate how many votes were cast for the purple party. The championship case, which was far more difficult, centered on a 100×100 chessboard. This year’s total prize money was $10,000. Naturally, a large proportion of Excel competitors work in Excel-heavy jobs; the field included plenty of finance bros, data analysts, mathematicians, actuaries, and engineers. All but one of the eight finalists had over the course of their lives spent thousands of hours working in Excel (the other is a Google Sheets guy), and half of them had spent more than 10,000. The tournament is not particularly diverse. Of the eight finalists, Deaton was the only woman. In the field of 128, she told me, she counted no more than a dozen, which didn’t surprise her, given how heavily male the relevant occupations skew.

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Source: Slashdot – The World Cup of Microsoft Excel

France Bans Short Haul Domestic Flights in Favour of Train Travel

France has been given the green light to ban short haul domestic flights. The European Commission has approved the move which will abolish flights between cities that are linked by a train journey of less than 2.5 hours. From a report: The decision was announced on Friday. The changes are part of the country’s 2021 Climate Law and were first proposed by France’s Citizens’ Convention on Climate — a citizens’ assembly tasked with finding ways to reduce the country’s carbon emissions. France is also cracking down on the use of private jets for short journeys in a bid to make transport greener and fairer for the population. Transport minister Clement Beaune said the country could no longer tolerate the super rich using private planes while the public are making cutbacks to deal with the energy crisis and climate change.

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Source: Slashdot – France Bans Short Haul Domestic Flights in Favour of Train Travel

Syntax Errors Are the Doom of Us All, Including Botnet Authors

An anonymous reader shares a report: KmsdBot, a cryptomining botnet that could also be used for denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks, broke into systems through weak secure shell credentials. It could remotely control a system, it was hard to reverse-engineer, didn’t stay persistent, and could target multiple architectures. KmsdBot was a complex malware with no easy fix. That was the case until researchers at Akamai Security Research witnessed a novel solution: forgetting to put a space between an IP address and a port in a command. And it came from whoever was controlling the botnet.

With no error-checking built in, sending KmsdBot a malformed command — like its controllers did one day while Akamai was watching — created a panic crash with an “index out of range” error. Because there’s no persistence, the bot stays down, and malicious agents would need to reinfect a machine and rebuild the bot’s functions. It is, as Akamai notes, “a nice story” and “a strong example of the fickle nature of technology.” KmsdBot is an intriguing modern malware. It’s written in Golang, partly because Golang is difficult to reverse-engineer. When Akamai’s honeypot caught the malware, it defaulted to targeting a company that created private Grand Theft Auto Online servers. It has a cryptomining ability, though it was latent while the DDOS activity was running. At times, it wanted to attack other security companies or luxury car brands.

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Source: Slashdot – Syntax Errors Are the Doom of Us All, Including Botnet Authors