Wednesday, 21 February

14:00 EST

Intel rolls out Spectre updates for 7th and 8th-gen Core chips [The Verge - All Posts]

Intel is attempting to patch Spectre again today with the rollout of patches for Kaby Lake-, Coffee Lake-, and Skylake-based platforms. The updates will cover the company’s sixth, seventh, and eighth-generation Intel Core product lines, as well as the X-series processor family. The Xeon Scalable and Intel Xeon D processors for data center systems will also be protected. The updates will be issued through OEM firmware pushes.

Intel previously issued a patch to address Spectre, but then had to tell users to stop deploying the fix because it sometimes caused computers to spontaneously reboot. At the time, executive vice president Navin Shenoy recommended users skip the patches until a better version could be deployed, which appears to be...

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Twitter bans bulk tweeting and duplicate accounts in bot crackdown [The Verge - All Posts]

Twitter is announcing major limits on how users and apps can automate tweets, in order to combat spam and political propaganda bots. Developers are now banned from using any system that simultaneously posts “identical or substantially similar” tweets from multiple accounts at once, or makes actions like liking, retweeting, and following across multiple accounts at once. Twitter will remove these options from its own TweetDeck app, and third-party developers have until March 23rd to comply.

Twitter says these actions are “an important step in ensuring we stay ahead of malicious activity targeting the crucial conversations taking place on Twitter — including elections in the United States and around the world.” It alluded to the plan last...

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Google launches Android phone recommendation program for businesses [The Verge - All Posts]

Google announced the launch of Android Enterprise Recommnded today, a business-focused certification program to convince more companies to trust and rely on certain Android smartphones that meet a new set of requirements. Because of the scale of Android, the number of handsets out in the wild, and the lack of consistency when it comes to security and operating system updates, Google has found it difficult to ensure companies. This program is designed to green light a handful of devices for corporate use.

The initial list of devices that meet Google’s new requirements naturally includes its own Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL. The list also includes the BlackBerry KeyOne and Motion, Huawei Mate 10 and P10 lines, LG V30 and G6,...

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Tinder vulnerability let hackers take over accounts with just a phone number [The Verge - All Posts]

A newly published attack let researchers take over Tinder accounts with just a user’s phone number, according to a new report by Appsecure. Tinder has changed its login system to protect against the attack and there’s no evidence it was exploited before the patch. Still, it’s a reminder of how fragile many login systems still are, and how powerful even basic vulnerabilities can be when chained together.

The attack worked by exploiting two separate vulnerabilities: one in Tinder and another in Facebook’s Account Kit system, which Tinder uses to manage logins. The Account Kit vulnerability exposed users’ access tokens (also called an “aks” token), making them accessible through a simple API request with an associated phone number.


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Anker Zolo Liberty+ wireless earbuds review: right and wrong [The Verge - All Posts]

Bluetooth 5 and good battery life aren’t enough to make up for a mushy experience elsewhere

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Twitch will reward Overwatch League viewers with exclusive in-game items [The Verge - All Posts]

Just ahead of the Overwatch League’s debut season, Blizzard and Twitch announced a multiyear deal that would see every match of e-sports league broadcast on the streaming service. Now, the two companies are revealing a series of features designed to further enhance the viewing experience and offer bonuses to those who watch on Twitch.

For fans who “cheer” in Twitch chat (cheering involves using animated chat emotes purchased with real money) during matches, they’ll have a chance to earn in-game items like rare character skins and exclusive new emotes. Viewers will also have a chance to earn “league tokens” — a form of virtual currency in Overwatch exclusively used to buy in-game league jerseys — simply by watching matches through to the...

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Qualcomm made a new Wi-Fi chip for the next generation of Wi-Fi [The Verge - All Posts]

Qualcomm announced a Wi-Fi chip for phones and tablets today that’s compatible with the forthcoming generation of Wi-Fi. The company says it’s the first to deliver 802.11ax features to manufacturers and the first to support WPA3 encryption, which protects user passwords and privacy.

The 802.11ax generation of Wi-Fi, which is supposed to begin seeing mass adoption next year, will deliver higher network throughput and use less power compared to the previous generation, 802.11ac. Qualcomm’s new chip gives phone and computer makers the option to start building the tech into their new products. It’s called the Atheros WCN3998, and manufacturers are supposed to start getting access in the next few months.

Qualcomm’s chips support older...

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Google’s Reply app is woefully bland — exactly the way it should be [The Verge - All Posts]

Last week, Google’s Area 120 division announced that it’s building a new app that would add Smart Reply features to a number of popular messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, and Hangouts. This week, Android Police surfaced an APK so you can download and try Reply on Android devices right now. Note, however, that it’s just a beta, so try it at your own risk.

In my initial testing, the app does work as promised, though it is a little less contextual than Gmail’s version of the feature. When you set up the app, you can add different modes such as “Vacation responder” or “Urgent sound” so the app can detect tones from incoming messages and know how to respond to them. Based on your phone accelerometer, Reply can also tell if...

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13:00 EST

Nest Cam IQ gets “OK Google” support, lower monthly fee [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / The Nest Cam IQ. The blue glow means it's recording. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Google clearly has a goal of putting the Google Assistant just about everywhere. Today you can find it in smartphonestabletslaptopsTVswatchessmart speakersheadphones and soon, smart displays. There's one place you haven't seen the Assistant, though: a camera. Today Google is fixing that by updating the Next Cam IQ with Google Assistant support. The device is now basically a mini Google Home with a camera on top.

The Nest Cam IQ is Nest's top-of-the-line indoor camera, with a 4K sensor and an outrageously powerful (for a camera) six-core processor. All that power is put to work crunching that 4K video feed down to a more reasonable 1080p size, with the 4K sensor used to power the "12x digital zoom" feature available for its app. The Nest Cam IQ has always featured a microphone and speaker for remote communication, and now it will also be put to work to power your usual Google Assistant commands.

With the update, you'll be able to speak the usual "OK Google" commands, and the blue ring around the Nest Cam IQ will light up to show it's listening. Just like every other Google Assistant device, it supports questions, smart home commands, making shopping lists, buying stuff, controlling Chromecasts, and a score of other things.

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The FCC’s net neutrality rules will officially expire in late April [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Rally organizers carry away props following a protest outside the Federal Communication Commission building against the end of net neutrality rules on December 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla )

The Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules will officially come off the books two months from now, as the FCC is set to take the final step necessary to make the repeal official.

The FCC voted to repeal the rules on December 14, but the repeal takes effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The Federal Register publication is scheduled to happen on Thursday this week.

That means the repeal will take place on or about April 23. But the lawsuits to overturn the repeal can get started this month or in early March.

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Review and interview: Brass Tactics finally brings true RTS to VR [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Boy, the flying units in Brass Tactics sure are pesky—and that's the point. (credit: Hidden Path / Oculus)

BELLEVUE, Washington—Virtual reality has been a thing for years, yet for some reason, it has had a lack of real-time strategy (RTS) games. To this, I can't help but say, what gives? Managing a giant army à la StarCraft seems like a nice fit for VR's mix of hand-tracked controllers and first-person twists—while also minding VR's limits. Stand above a battlefield (or, if your room is cramped, sit without losing the effect). Use your hands to become a war puppeteer. Enjoy a refreshing control and perspective alternative to ancient, mouse-driven menus.

It's a VR no-brainer... that nobody has truly attempted until this week.

Unlike other RTS-ish games in VR, this week's Brass Tactics is the first full-blown take on the genre to see a retail release. It's not perfect—indeed, it has a couple of glaring issues ahead of its Thursday launch—but Brass Tactics is clearly a few steps above "just good enough." It functions as a pure, solid RTS, while it also comes packed with nice VR touches. Best of all, thanks to a free, unlimited, works-online demo version, every single VR owner out there (even outside the Oculus ecosystem) can try it for themselves—and try it they should.

Clear RTS skies

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Slashdot Asks: What Do People Misunderstand or Underappreciate About Apple? [Slashdot]

In an interview with Fast Company, Apple CEO Tim Cook says people who have not used his company's products miss "how different Apple is versus other technology companies." A person who is just looking at the company's revenues and profits, says Cook, might think that Apple "is good at making money." But he says "that's not who we are. In Cook's view, Apple is: We're a group of people who are trying to change the world for the better, that's who we are. For us, technology is a background thing. We don't want people to have to focus on bits and bytes and feeds and speeds. We don't want people to have to go to multiple [systems] or live with a device that's not integrated. We do the hardware and the software, and some of the key services as well, to provide a whole system. We do that in such a way that we infuse humanity into it. We take our values very seriously, and we want to make sure all of our products reflect those values. There are things like making sure that we're running our [U.S.] operations on 100% renewable energy, because we don't want to leave the earth worse than we found it. We make sure that we treat well all the people who are in our supply chain. We have incredible diversity, not as good as we want, but great diversity, and it's that diversity that yields products like this. What do you think?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Seriously long lasting doggie chew toy [Boing Boing]

This $10 Nylabone Durachew has survived years of chewing.

This is a nylon bone I smear some peanut butter on, and leave with Nemo for ages. Nemo is a 120lb-or-so Great Pyrenees. He can chew through the cables that hold up the Golden Gate Bridge!

I knew nylon was tough but, wow! Might as well be steel.

Nylabone Dura Chew via Amazon

Image via Boing Boing

Some Silicon Valley residents with incomes up to $400,000 consider themselves "middle class" [Boing Boing]

The Palo Alto Weekly in Silicon Valley asked more than 250 residents of that city "How do you define your social class?" From the survey results (PDF):

Seventy-five identified themselves as "upper middle class." Their self-reported incomes ranged from $50,000 to $400,000 or more (with one retiree reporting $35,000-$49,999)... Eighty-one people considered themselves "middle class." Their self-reported incomes ranged from $10,000 to $399,999....Seventeen considered themselves "lower middle class" or "working class." Their self-reported income ranged from $35,000 to $349,999. Four reported being in the "upper class," three of whom reported earning $400,000 a year or more (the fourth is retired).

Eighty-nine people declined to answer the question or wrote their own answers, including that they were "disenfranchised," "former middle class" and "survivors in an unjust capitalist society."

"The meaning of 'middle class'" (Palo Alto Weekly)

3D printed body parts for transplant [Boing Boing]

Anthony Atala, director of Wake Forest University’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine, is developing techniques to 3D print human organs for transplant using an individual's own cells as the "ink." That way, the transplanted organ won't trigger the patient's immune system to reject it as a foreign body. From National Geographic:

(For example,) to create an ear, the printer lays down a pliable, porous scaffold made of hydrogel, a kind of polymer. The scaffold is covered with skin cells and cartilage cells, which grow and fill in the ear-shaped form. The hydrogel eventually biodegrades; after about six months the ear is composed entirely of human cells.

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More Ways Than Ever To Watch The Olympics, But Fewer Americans Are Watching [News : NPR]

A cross-country skier passes Olympic rings on Feb. 16.

Prime time viewership is lower than it was for the Sochi Winter Games, though NBC is still drawing more viewers in prime time than its competitors.

(Image credit: Carl Court/Getty Images)

Did An IV Cocktail Of Vitamins And Drugs Save This Lumberjack From Sepsis? [News : NPR]

Kristopher Kelly near his home in Concrete, Wash., in February. He broke his pelvis and all his ribs in a work accident last year. The resulting infection he developed in the hospital almost killed him.

A 51-year-old man nearly died from septic shock, when a crushing injury led to overwhelming infection. After getting an experimental treatment, he's recovering well, but some doctors want more proof.

(Image credit: Ian C. Bates for NPR)

Florida House Declines Debate On Assault Rifles, Calls Porn A 'Health Risk' [News : NPR]

High school students from Parkland, Fla., where a young man gunned down 17 people, react as the state

The lawmakers voted 71-36 against opening up debate on the bill that would ban assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, leaving it in committees that aren't scheduled to meet during this session.

(Image credit: Mark Wallheiser/AP)

Arizona's Tepary Beans Preserve A Native Past, Hold Promise For The Future [News : NPR]

Gary Nabhan holds white tepary beans grown at his home in Patagonia, Ariz. Nabhan believes that drought-tolerant teparies could become a solution for growing food in a hotter and drier Arizona.

Local Native Americans grew teparies for centuries, but the beans began to sink into obscurity. Now, thanks to seed preservation and farmers who want to preserve the past, they're making a comeback.

(Image credit: Mariana Dale/KJZZ)

Sheets of scars and giant lip plates: behind the scenes with Black Panther’s makeup designer [The Verge - All Posts]

Fans of genre film have probably seen Joel Harlow’s work, even if they didn’t realize it at the time. The longtime makeup designer and MorphologyFX founder got his start on horror films in the 1980s, including two of the Toxic Avenger films, and went on to multiple Oscar nominations (for The Lone Ranger and Star Trek Beyond) and one win (for 2009’s Star Trek). He’s worked with Johnny Depp on films from the Pirates of the Caribbean series to Alice In Wonderland to Tusk, and on superhero movies from 2000’s X-Men to Green Lantern to Logan. His work includes designing prosthetics and props — as he explained to The Verge in a 2017 interview about his extensive work on Logan, Morphology FX is an all-in-one effects shop that operates onsite at...

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Nest’s indoor security camera now has Google Assistant built in [The Verge - All Posts]

Smart home company Nest today announced that a promised Google Assistant update for its Cam IQ security camera has now arrived, which brings Google’s voice-based artificial intelligence platform to the indoor version of the camera.

Nest originally promised Google Assistant for the Cam IQ back in September, when it launched the outdoor version of the camera alongside a new video doorbell and home security system. It appears Nest missed the deadline, but the company says it’s now ready to deliver the over-the-air update starting today. (It should be noted that the outdoor version of the Nest Cam IQ is not getting the update.)

In addition to the Google...

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Blade’s ambitious PC game streaming platform finally launches in the US today [The Verge - All Posts]

French startup Blade announced today that its Shadow game streaming service is launching in California, marking the first time the company will be making its product available in the US. Blade has been operating in France since July 2016, where it opened its first data center operation. (The service only works at low latency if a user is physically near their dedicated machine.) After a launch in the UK last month and a round of live demos ahead of this year’s CES back in January, Blade is ready to bring its service Stateside, thanks to a partnership with San Jose’s Equinix Datacenter.

The Shadow service costs $34.95 a month with a one-year service commitment, $39.95 for a three-month one, or $49.95 a month with no commitment. For that...

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Elon Musk leaves board of AI safety group to avoid conflict of interest with Tesla [The Verge - All Posts]

Tech billionaire Elon Musk is leaving the board of OpenAI, the nonprofit research group he co-founded with Y Combinator president Sam Altman to study the ethics and safety of artificial intelligence.

The move was announced in a short blog post, explaining that Musk is leaving in order to avoid a conflict of interest between OpenAI’s work and the machine learning research done by Telsa to develop autonomous driving. “As Tesla continues to become more focused on AI, this will eliminate a potential future conflict for Elon,” says the post. Musk will stay on as a donator to OpenAI and will continue to advise the group.

The blog post also announced a number of new donors, including video game developer Gabe Newell, Skype founder Jaan...

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Facebook signs music licensing deal with European rights company ICE [The Verge - All Posts]

Facebook has signed a deal with London-based International Copyright Enterprise Operations (ICE) to provide royalty payouts on music the company represents, as reported by TechCrunch. ICE is a European online rights hub with a catalog of about 31 million works, representing STIM in Sweden, PRS in the UK (and other territories), GEMA in Germany, and more.

This is the first time Facebook has signed a multi-territorial license with an online hub. The deal will cover licensing and royalties whenever music represented by ICE is used on Facebook, Instagram, Oculus, and Messenger. The deal excludes WhatsApp, as that service is purely a private messaging tool that doesn’t require music licenses.

Facebook has struck other licensing deals in...

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Google discloses another Windows 10 security flaw before a patch is ready [The Verge - All Posts]

Google disclosed a flaw in Microsoft Edge earlier this week, after Microsoft failed to patch the bug in time. Now Google’s Project Zero team of security researchers are disclosing yet another Windows 10 security flaw that Microsoft has again failed to patch before Google’s imposed 90-day period. Neowin spotted that Google reported two bugs to Microsoft in November, but the company only addressed one of them with its recent Patch Tuesday fixes.

The latest unpatched issue is an Elevation of Privilege which allows a normal user to gain administrator privileges on a system. Microsoft has rated the flaw as “important,” but not “critical” as it can’t be exploited remotely. It’s still an important issue to fix, as an attacker could potentially...

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A bizarre Parkland conspiracy video topped YouTube’s trending list [The Verge - All Posts]

YouTube’s number one trending video this morning was based on a false conspiracy theory suggesting a survivor of the Parkland high school shooting is an actor. The company removed the video today after it received more than 200,000 views.

The video, a rip of a local Los Angeles CBS segment, showed an interview from last year with David Hogg, a student at the Florida high school where a gunman killed 17 people last week. Hogg, one of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who has spoken out about gun regulations since the attack, was interviewed after filming a heated altercation with a lifeguard in Los Angeles.

Hogg has become the subject of fringe online conspiracies, which have pointed to his father, a retired FBI agent, as...

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Netflix’s Lost in Space reboot begins streaming on April 13th [The Verge - All Posts]

Netflix has released the first look at its upcoming reboot of the classic science fiction TV series Lost in Space, which will debut on the service on April 13th.

The company announced the revival in 2016. The show will keep the premise of the original 1965 show: the Robinson family heads into space to establish a new colony but lands on a different world after an accident. The trailer suggests an updated but retro look for the tech and gear, as various members of the Robinson family board their ship in their space suits, accompanied by narration about the adaptability of humanity. The context suggests that Earth isn’t a safe place to live anymore, prompting the efforts to establish a new colony.

There are plenty of nods to the original...

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When whisper networks let us down [The Verge - All Posts]

How communities struggle — and sometimes fail — to stop sexual assault

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Disney is reportedly rebooting The Muppets for its streaming service [The Verge - All Posts]

Disney is planning to create a new Muppets TV series for its not-yet-launched streaming service, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Details on the series are scarce, but it’s in line with earlier reports about the kind of streaming service Disney plans to operate. Earlier this month, Deadline reported that Disney plans to release a handful of original films and series within the first year and that the service would stick with family-friendly TV shows and movies.

The Muppets reboot would also continue Disney’s trend of populating its streaming service with its own intellectual property. As THR points out, Disney acquired The Muppets Studio in 2004 and has already created a Muppets TV series for ABC, which was canceled after one...

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12:00 EST

Apple CEO Tim Cook: 'I've Only Had Good Years' [Slashdot]

Business Insider: Under CEO Tim Cook's watch, Apple has sold hundreds of millions of iPhones, booked hundreds of billions of dollars in profit, and launched new products like AirPods and Apple Watch. In fact, Cook says, he's never had a bad year as CEO of Apple. "I've only had good years. No, seriously," he said in an interview with Fast Company. "Even when we were idling from a revenue point of view -- it was like $6 billion every year -- those were some incredibly good years because you could begin to feel the pipeline getting better, and you could see it internally. Externally, people couldn't see that," he continued.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

'Tech Companies Should Stop Pretending AI Won't Destroy Jobs' [Slashdot]

Kai-Fu Lee, the founder and CEO of Sinovation Ventures and president of the Sinovation Ventures Artificial Intelligence Institute, believes that we're not ready for the massive societal upheavals on the way. He writes for MIT Technology Review: The rise of China as an AI superpower isn't a big deal just for China. The competition between the US and China has sparked intense advances in AI that will be impossible to stop anywhere. The change will be massive, and not all of it good. Inequality will widen. As my Uber driver in Cambridge has already intuited, AI will displace a large number of jobs, which will cause social discontent. Consider the progress of Google DeepMind's AlphaGo software, which beat the best human players of the board game Go in early 2016. It was subsequently bested by AlphaGo Zero, introduced in 2017, which learned by playing games against itself and within 40 days was superior to all the earlier versions. Now imagine those improvements transferring to areas like customer service, telemarketing, assembly lines, reception desks, truck driving, and other routine blue-collar and white-collar work. It will soon be obvious that half of our job tasks can be done better at almost no cost by AI and robots. This will be the fastest transition humankind has experienced, and we're not ready for it. Not everyone agrees with my view. Some people argue that it will take longer than we think before jobs disappear, since many jobs will be only partially replaced, and companies will try to redeploy those displaced internally. But even if true, that won't stop the inevitable. Others remind us that every technology revolution has created new jobs as it displaced old ones. But it's dangerous to assume this will be the case again.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Comedian Jena Friedman jests: 'treat Nazis like we treat women' [Boing Boing]

Comedian Jena Friedman killed it in her recent standup set on Conan. I somehow missed this a couple of weeks ago when it came out. Glad it landed in my feed today.

If you liked this, she's got a new special on Adult Swim called "Soft Focus with Jena Friedman" that's hilarious too. Her segment with Gilberto Valle (the "Cannibal Cop") is simultaneously subversive and awkward. Win-win!

11:00 EST

Game industry pushes back against efforts to restore gameplay servers [Ars Technica]

(credit: Flickr / craigfinlay)

A group of video game preservationists wants the legal right to replicate "abandoned" servers in order to re-enable defunct online multiplayer gameplay for study. The game industry says those efforts would hurt their business, allow the theft of their copyrighted content, and essentially let researchers "blur the line between preservation and play."

Both sides are arguing their case to the US Copyright Office right now, submitting lengthy comments on the subject as part of the Copyright Register's triennial review of exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Analyzing the arguments on both sides shows how passionate both industry and academia are about the issue, and how mistrust and misunderstanding seem to have infected the debate.

The current state of play

In 2015, the Librarian of Congress issued a limited exemption to the DMCA, allowing gamers and researchers to circumvent technological prevention measures (TPMs) that require Internet authentication servers that have been taken offline. Despite strong pushback from the Entertainment Software Association at the time, the Register of Copyrights argued that the abandonment of those servers "preclude[s] all gameplay, a significant adverse effect."

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Electric car boom prompts Apple to get serious about securing cobalt [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Cobalt chips (credit: Alchemist-hp)

Apple may cut out the cobalt middlemen by obtaining supplies for its batteries on its own. According to a Bloomberg report, Apple is in talks with miners to buy long-term supplies of cobalt, a key ingredient in the lithium-ion batteries used in Apple's iPhones and iPads. Apple has reportedly been in discussions to secure contracts for "several thousand metric tons" of cobalt each year for at least five years.

If a deal comes to fruition, it would be the first time Apple has secured its own supplies of cobalt for batteries. The tech giant currently leaves cobalt buying to battery manufacturers, but now the company wants to ensure it can lock down enough of the metal to maintain a sufficient supply.

The growth of the electric car industry has prompted fears of a cobalt shortage—electric car batteries use much more cobalt than those of consumer electronics, and car manufacturers are already seeking contracts with cobalt miners to get the amounts they need for their vehicles. BMW is reportedly close to securing a 10-year supply deal, and Volkswagen Group tried but failed to secure a long-term cobalt supply deal at the end of last year. Cobalt prices are rising, and VW's plans failed partly because the company wanted to set a fixed price for the metal for the entirety of the contract.

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Ferrari and Porsche announce new cars for the wealthy track addict [Ars Technica]


The Geneva Motor Show is just around the corner, and Porsche and Ferrari both have something special up their sleeves. Yes, it's a pair of track-focused supercars that promise to lap faster and thrill more than anything either company has built in the past. Meet the new 911 GT3 RS and 488 Pista, two cars that herald the end of the "regular" production models they're derived from—in this case the 991 generation Porsche 911 and the Ferrari 488, each of which is due for replacement in the near future.

In the red corner, from Maranello, Italy, weighing in at 2,800lbs...

We'll start with the Ferrari. The 488 Pista is the latest in a line that started with the 360 Challenge Stradale back in the early 2000s. Pista is Italian for track, and that's what this car has been optimized for.

It's not a race car, but it does incorporate a lot of the lessons that Ferrari has learned racing the 488 GTE and 488 GT3. In fact, Ferrari says that the Pista "marks a significant step forward from the previous special series... for the level of technological carry-over from racing."

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Uber will save you a few bucks if you just walk up the road [Ars Technica]

(credit: Uber)

On Wednesday, Uber announced a new feature, where riders "wait a few minutes before their trips begin, and then walk a short distance to a nearby spot for pick up and drop off." If that sounds awfully similar to a bus, you’re not entirely wrong.

Uber calls it "Express Pool," an offshoot of an Uber option known as simply, "Pool," which allows Uber riders to save a few bucks by sharing rides (thus usually taking a little more time).

Express Pool, meanwhile, simply calculates what is ostensibly a more efficient route and asks the rider to walk a few minutes away.

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AI Experts Say Some Advances Should Be Kept Secret [Slashdot]

AI could reboot industries and make the economy more productive; it's already infusing many of the products we use daily. But a new report [PDF] by more than 20 researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, OpenAI, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation warns that the same technology creates new opportunities for criminals, political operatives, and oppressive governments -- so much so that some AI research may need to be kept secret. From a report: [...] The study is less sure of how to counter such threats. It recommends more research and debate on the risks of AI and suggests that AI researchers need a strong code of ethics. But it also says they should explore ways of restricting potentially dangerous information, in the way that research into other "dual use" technologies with weapons potential is sometimes controlled.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Open Thread Wednesday: The Tenure Submission Gap Year [ProfHackerProfHacker - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education]


The year between submitting the tenure binder and a decision can feel interminably long. It’s marked with few milestones: decisions by one’s school, the college, and so on, committees meeting with months in-between of nothing. There is, of course, the ever-present threat of tenure denial: as I observed in September, after my own dossier went in, there’s a number of blog posts and essays to find catharsis in when that thought arises. I spent the fall exchanging text messages, check-ins, and the occasional thread of Facebook commiseration with other academics whose tenure binders went in at the beginning of the year. But as my cohort’s cases went well at the earliest, most potentially contentious stages, we stopped talking about it, settling into the process of waiting.

Explaining it to someone used to the promotion process of non-academic spaces can itself be tiring: “But when do you find out?” “…next year.” It’s no wonder that, as Jason Jones wrote back in 2013, “lots of people report securing tenure as somewhat anticlimactic.” The changes are gradual and unremarkable. Certain routine deadlines–like the submission of a progress toward tenure dossier–no longer apply, and there’s the hope of never facing them again.

If this is your year to declare your intention to seek tenure I recommend taking a look at the ProfHacker archives, as many of us have been there over the years: Nels Highberg has recommendations for finding external reviewers, a process that relies on the strength of the networks you’ve built over the years. Bille Hara wrote a great post addressing the oft-heard advice not to “speak” before tenure. And for those looking to handle the stress of waiting, transitioning, applying in a hostile environment, or just balancing existing workload with the obligations of records and deadlines the tenure process adds, Nels Highberg has another classic post advocating the potential value of therapy and other support.

Personally, I’ve found the best way to make my own “under review” tenure status feel more worthwhile is to reach out and support faculty in my own department looking ahead to their own dossier submissions. As the first of my group of immediate hires to go through the process, it felt a bit abstracted until I entered it myself.

Are you going through the tenure process this year? Share your advice in the comments!

["Void" by brownpau is licensed under CC BY]

Slime after Slime, a slime-making parody of Time after Time [Boing Boing]

Parents know, kids can get really obsessed with making slime. She's not that into baking but give my daughter some Borax and glue and she'll spend hours mixing up batches of slime in our kitchen. She got so into it at one point that I started buying gallon jugs of Elmer's glue just to keep costs down.

YouTubers The Holderness Family understand. They turned Cyndi Lauper's 1983 Grammy-winning song "Time after Time" into "Slime after Slime," a silly parody about this messy hobby.

Thanks, Heather!

Oasis' Liam Gallagher grilled by school kids, calls his brother Noel 'naughty' [Boing Boing]

A room full of young children got the opportunity to ask former Oasis lead singer Liam Gallagher nearly anything they wanted.

They quizzed him with questions like, "What's your favorite Disney movie?" (Finding Nemo) and "What instruments do you play?"(none).

When one boy called him "naughty," Liam wasted no time bringing up his estranged brother Noel, calling him "naughty."

It just got more beautifully awkward from there when one rosy-cheeked boy asked the hard-hitting question on everyone's mind, "What's your favorite fart?" (loud ones). Gallagher's sage advice for the young'uns: "If you wanna be a rock star, look out the window, stare at the clouds and do loud farts."

Gallagher is currently on a worldwide tour for his hit solo album, As You Were.


Inside the makeshift headquarters of the Parkland teens working to stop mass shootings [Boing Boing]

In this powerful new article, BuzzFeed News’ Remy Smidt reports from inside the grassroots activist group that’s been formed by teens who survived the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead and 14 wounded. The students have emerged as vocal activists on both social media and traditional media platforms (a CNN excerpt of senior Emma González’s impassioned speech has been shared thousands of times on Twitter). And they’ve inspired a wave of other young activists too; high school students in Maine recently staged a gun control protest in place of a routine lock-down drill.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas students have done an incredible amount of organizing over the past week, including planning the nationwide March for Our Lives demonstration on March 24. And Smidt reports on what it’s like to watch the young activists at work:

In just days, the group of teenage survivors have made themselves impossible to ignore, headlining rallies, penning op-eds, and blanketing cable news coverage over the Presidents Day weekend with their calls for action.

But behind the scenes, they’re also just kids—sitting in a circle on the floor in the home of one of their parents, eating a batch of baked pasta, tweeting at each other, and comparing which celebrity just shared their post. There’s laughter and tears, and “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers plays briefly, but it’s also remarkably businesslike. There’s work to do and a seemingly endless number of phone calls to answer.

“We slept enough to keep us going, but we’ve been nonstop all day, all night,” said Sofie Whitney, 18, a senior who estimated that she has spent 70% of the past 48 hours speaking with reporters. “This isn’t easy for us, but it’s something I need to do.”

You can read the full article on BuzzFeed News.

Sheeple created in lab [Boing Boing]

A Scottish team of animal biotechnologists announced this week they successfully introduced human stem cells into sheep embryos. Perhaps one day we will all have our very own baaing organ donors.

The team are currently allowed to let the chimeric embryos develop for 28 days, 21 of which are in the sheep. While that might be sufficient to see the development of the missing organ when human cells are eventually combined with the genetically modified embryo, Dr Hiro Nakauchi of Stanford University, who is part of the team, said a longer experiment, perhaps up to 70 days, would be more convincing, although that would require additional permission from institutional review boards.

But, Ross said, for the approach to work it is thought that about 1% of the embryo’s cells would have to be human, meaning further work is needed to increase the proportion of human cells in the chimera.


Nakauchi also played down concerns: “The contribution of human cells so far is very small. It’s nothing like a pig with a human face or human brain,” he said

Who .... who said anything about... pigs with human faces and brains?


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