Last updated 17 Jan, 01:20 AM
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Texas synagogue hostage-taker was British - The man who seized four people and died in a standoff with police is named as Malik Faisal Akram, 44.
Pacific volcano: New Zealand sends flight to assess Tonga damage - Up to 80,000 people could be affected after tsunami waves caused "significant damage" to Tonga.
Nadine Dorries: BBC licence fee announcement will be the last - The culture secretary says it is time to discuss new ways to fund and sell "great British content".
Starmer accuses PM of breaking law over No 10 parties - The Labour leader says Boris Johnson has lied about "industrial scale partying" in Downing Street.
Wealth of world's 10 richest men doubled in pandemic, Oxfam says - Covid-19 has made the rich richer while poverty increased, Oxfam claims, as a virtual Davos gets underway.
North Korea pulled in $400m in cryptocurrency heists last year – report - Plus: FIFA 22 players lose their identity and Texas gets phony QR codes In brief Thieves operating for the North Korean government made off with almost $400m in digicash last year in a concerted attack to steal and launder as much currency as they could.…
Tesla Full Self-Driving videos prompt California's DMV to rethink policy on accidents - Plus: AI systems can identify different chess players by their moves and more In brief California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said it’s “revisiting” its opinion of whether Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving feature needs more oversight after a series of videos demonstrate how the technology can be dangerous.…
Alien life on Super-Earth can survive longer than us due to long-lasting protection from cosmic rays - Laser experiments show their magnetic fields shielding their surfaces from radiation last longer Life on Super-Earths may have more time to develop and evolve, thanks to their long-lasting magnetic fields protecting them against harmful cosmic rays, according to new research published in Science.…
And relax: no repeat car crash financials for SAP in 2021 as cloud services come good - Let's not mention on-premise licences.... ERP specialist SAP saw Q4 cloud revenue jump 28 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier to hit €2.61bn…
Google and Facebook's top execs allegedly approved dividing ad market among themselves - Latest iteration of Texas-led antitrust complaint against Google expands claims of bad behavior The alleged 2017 deal between Google and Facebook to kill header bidding, a way for multiple ad exchanges to compete fairly in automated ad auctions, was negotiated by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and endorsed by both Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (now with Meta) and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, according to an updated complaint filed in the Texas-led antitrust lawsuit against Google.…
New Scientist - News
Advances in physics may seem abstract at first but tech often follows - Hints of a fifth force of nature may only interest researchers and science lovers for now, but physics breakthroughs have a habit of delivering technological leaps
Hybrid animal in 4500-year-old tomb is earliest known bred by humans - Early Bronze Age people in Syria crossed donkeys with wild asses to make prized horse-like hybrids, demonstrating advanced understanding of animal breeding
Flu vaccines during pregnancy protect babies for 6 months after birth - Evidence shows that getting a flu jab during pregnancy provides substantial protection to young babies, but uptake in many countries is still concerningly low
UK energy crisis: Why renewable subsidies will help avoid price shocks - A new milestone this week points to how these environmental levies are more likely the solution, not the problem, when it comes to avoiding energy price shocks
Why omicron isn't more severe in kids despite rise in hospitalisations - Reassuring findings from the UK and South Africa suggest that omicron isn't more severe in kids. Record numbers of hospitalisations probably reflect sheer number of cases and lack of vaccination
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Library Intentionally Corrupted by Developer Relaunches as a Community-Driven Project - Last weekend a developer intentionally corrupted two of his libraries which collectively had more than 20 million weekly downloads and thousands of dependent projects. Eight days later, one of those libraries has become a community controlled project. Some highlights from the announcement at fakerjs.dev: We're a group of engineers who were using Faker in prod when the main package was deleted. We have eight maintainers currently.... What has the team done so far? 1. Created a GitHub org [repository] for the new Faker package under @faker-js/faker. 2. Put together a team of eight maintainers. 3. Released all previous versions of Faker at @faker-js/faker on npm. 4. Released the Version 6 Alpha 5. Almost completed migrating to TypeScript so that DefinitelyTyped no longer needs to maintain its external @types/faker package. 6. Created a public Twitter account for communicating with the community. 7. Released the first official Faker documentation website.... Faker has never had an official docs website and the awesome Jeff Beltran has been maintaining a project called "Un-Official faker.js Documentation" for the last 3 years. He gave us permission to re-use his work to create fakerjs.dev 8. Cleaned up tooling like Prettier, CI, Netlify Deploy Previews, and GitHub Actions. 9. Done a TON of issue triage and many, many PR reviews. 10. We've gotten in contact with the Open Collective and discussed a transition plan for the project. We fully intend to extend Faker, continuously develop it, and make it even better. As such, we will work on a roadmap after we release 6.x and merge all of the TypeScript Pull Requests in the next week.... We're now turning Faker into a community-controlled project currently maintained by eight engineers from various backgrounds and companies.... We're excited to give new life to this idea and project. This project can have a fresh start and it will become even cooler. We felt we needed to do a public announcement because of all of the attention the project received in the media and from the community. We believe that we have acted in the way that is best for the community. According to the announcement, they've now also forked the funding so the project's original sponsors can continue to support the community-driven development in the future, while the original developers Marak and Brian "were able to retain the $11,652.69 USD previously donated to the project." Friday the official Twitter account for the new community project announced "It's been a week. We've merged all of the active forks. Currently at 1532 stars. Looks like everything is settling." [It's now up to over 1,800 stars.] One of the new maintainers has posted on Twitter, "I'm just grateful to the faker community that willed itself into existence and stepped up." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Walmart Appears to Be Planning Its Own Cryptocurrency and NFTs - "Walmart appears to be venturing into the metaverse with plans to create its own cryptocurrency and collection of NFTs," reports CNBC. "The big-box retailer filed several new trademarks late last month that indicate its intent to make and sell virtual goods. In a separate filing, the company said it would offer users a virtual currency, as well as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs." According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Walmart filed the applications on Dec. 30. In total, seven separate applications have been submitted.... "They're super intense," said Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney. "There's a lot of language in these, which shows that there's a lot of planning going on behind the scenes about how they're going to address cryptocurrency, how they're going to address the metaverse and the virtual world that appears to be coming or that's already here...." [B]oth Under Armour's and Adidas' NFT debuts sold out last month. They're now fetching sky-high prices on the NFT marketplace OpenSea. Gerben said that apparel retailers Urban Outfitters, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch have also filed trademarks in recent weeks detailing their intent to open some sort of virtual store.... According to Frank Chaparro, director at crypto information services firm The Block, many retailers are still reeling from being late to e-commerce, so they don't want to miss out on any opportunities in the metaverse. "I think it's a win-win for any company in retail," Chaparro said. "And even if it just turns out to be a fad there's not a lot of reputation damage in just trying something weird out like giving some customers an NFT in a sweepstake, for instance." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Microsoft Detects Lurking Malware On Ukrainian Computers - "Microsoft warned on Saturday evening that it had detected a highly destructive form of malware in dozens of government and private computer networks in Ukraine," reports the New York Times, "that appeared to be waiting to be triggered by an unknown actor...." The Times reports that the malware "bears some resemblance" to NotPetya, the widespreading 2017 malware which "American intelligence officials later traced to Russian actors." The discovery comes in the midst of what the Times earlier called "the security crisis Russia has ignited in Eastern Europe by surrounding Ukraine on three sides with 100,000 troops and then, by the White House's accounting, sending in saboteurs to create a pretext for invasion." Long-time Slashdot reader 14erCleaner shares the Times' latest report: In a blog post, [Microsoft] said that on Thursday — around the same time government agencies in Ukraine found that their websites had been defaced — investigators who watch over Microsoft's global networks detected the code. "These systems span multiple government, nonprofit and information technology organizations, all based in Ukraine," Microsoft said.... The code appears to have been deployed around the time that Russian diplomats, after three days of meetings with the United States and NATO over the massing of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border, declared that the talks had essentially hit a dead end.... Microsoft said that it could not yet identify the group behind the intrusion, but that it did not appear to be an attacker that its investigators had seen before. The code, as described by the company's investigators, is meant to look like ransomware — it freezes up all computer functions and data, and demands a payment in return. But there is no infrastructure to accept money, leading investigators to conclude that the goal is to inflict maximum damage, not raise cash. It is possible that the destructive software has not spread too widely and that Microsoft's disclosure will make it harder for the attack to metastasize. But it is also possible that the attackers will now launch the malware and try to destroy as many computers and networks as possible.... Warnings like the one from Microsoft can help abort an attack before it happens, if computer users look to root out the malware before it is activated. But it can also be risky. Exposure changes the calculus for the perpetrator, who, once discovered, may have nothing to lose in launching the attack, to see what destruction it wreaks. So far there is no evidence that the destructive malware has been unleashed by the hackers who placed it in the Ukrainian systems.... The new attack would wipe hard drives clean and destroy files. Some defense experts have said such an attack could be a prelude to a ground invasion by Russia. Others think it could substitute for an invasion, if the attackers believed a cyberstrike would not prompt the kind of financial and technological sanctions that [U.S. President] Biden has vowed to impose in response. Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Development issued a statement that "All evidence indicates that Russia is behind the cyberattack. Moscow continues to wage a hybrid war and is actively building up its forces in the information and cyberspaces." While the Associated Press reported the statement, the Times notes that the ministry provided no evidence, "and early attribution of attacks is frequently wrong or incomplete." But the Times also cites U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan as saying "If it turns out that Russia is pummeling Ukraine with cyberattacks, and if that continues over the period ahead, we will work with our allies on the appropriate response." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
When a Decades-Old Email Provider Used by Millions Suddenly Goes Down - Mail2World hosts mailboxes for 2,150,000 different domains, according to its web site, offering both "free, reliable email for everyone" and a $29.99-a-year "premium" service with a terabyte of storage (instead of the free level's 25 gigabytes), an ad-free inbox, and "premium"-level support. "We appreciate your understanding as we work to fully restore email service as soon as possible," reads their most-recent tweet — from Thursday. Slashdot reader C4st13v4n14 is not a happy customer: Since Tuesday evening local time, I haven't been able to access my primary email account. This is an alumni email account I've had for the last 22 years that's tied to all my accounts ranging from not only social media and IOT devices, but also banking, access to health services and contact with local and countrywide government authorities. My country is highly digitised and virtually everything from taxes to buying or selling a house, paying bills, access to health records and correspondence with hospitals and GPs, driving licences, applying for welfare, and starting a business are online. I don't even get snail mail anymore, everything is sent to a digital mailbox I can access through a browser or app with two-factor authentication. Fortunately, all access control for public-facing services is via two-factor authentication or smartcards with secure certificates for the highly sensitive stuff. Regardless, the ordeal has been quite distressing as I was unable to find any information about the outage; a little detective work was only giving vague ERR_CONNECTION_RESET and DNS errors. My main thought was that my account had somehow been compromised and even more worryingly, there were no reports online about it. Turning to Reddit, I was able to gather that the provider, Mail2World, had suffered a ransomware attack but had been very uncommunicative about the event. In terms of news coverage, there was basically none. Only one random news site had a short article about it. During the days without access, I was painstakingly moving accounts to my Gmail address and updating contact information for the really important stuff like governmental services. This morning, I got a tip that Jesse over at BlueScreen Computer had reached out to Mail2World and has been documenting the outage. Since then, some email has started to show up in my mobile app and I'm able to access the web portal again, but I can't help but feel like the damage has been done. This is an account that I pay an annual fee for and have trusted to work until now. I also find being kept in the dark about something so fundamental in today's world like email to be both very concerning and completely unacceptable. In that regard, I'm hoping this will bring some coverage to the event. I would also like any input you Slashdotters have on migrating to and navigating Gmail. The interface is unfamiliar to an old-school user like me who still uses Eudora to check and save a backup of everything. By the way, I'd should also like to point out that both POP and SMTP are handled by servers at pangia.biz, and their website has also been unreachable during this. Instead of Gmail, maybe you would recommend a different provider or service altogether? My work email is fortunately completely separate as of a couple years ago and handled by one.com as they host my website. It works, but they aren't anything special really. It's interesting to imagine the scope of this particular outage. "Our company's growing list of customers includes prominent organizations from around the world," brags the Mail2World web site, "such as publicly-traded corporations, leading academic institutions and some of the largest and most-recognized service providers." But long-time Slashdot reader OtisSnerd has experienced even worse: This happened with Newsguy.com's email and NNTP offerings back in early September. I had my email address with them for 25 years, and my wife's email for almost 22. It turns out that Newsguy went chapter 7. Luckily we were using pop3 with MS Outlook, so we both still have all the old email. I already had another email account elsewhere, but my wife didn't. Took days to get all her changes made. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
1.7 Million People Live for a Week on 100% Renewable Energy - 1.77 million people live in South Australia, speading across 984,321 square kilometres (or 380,048 square miles), according to Wikipedia. Today the Sydney Morning Herald announced that South Australia "sourced an average of just over 100 per cent of the electricity it needed from renewable power for 6 and a half days leading up to December 29 last year." They're calling it "a record for the state and perhaps for comparable energy grids around the world." The state's previous record was just over three days, says Geoff Eldridge, an energy analyst who runs the website NEMlog.com.au, which tracks the operations of the National Energy Market covering Australia's east-coast states and South Australia. His analysis shows that for the six days identified, the state produced on average 101 per cent of the energy it needed from wind, rooftop solar and solar farms, with just a fraction of the energy the state used being drawn from gas, in order to keep the grid stable. At times during the period, slightly less renewable energy was available and at other times renewable capacity was higher than needed, he says. Bruce Mountain, director of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre, said he believed that aside from some small island grids such as those in Hawaii and Tasmania, it was likely that South Australia's six-day run on renewables was a record for a grid supporting an advanced economy. During the unprecedented 156-hour renewable run, the share of wind in total energy supplied averaged 64.4 per cent, while rooftop solar averaged 29.5 per cent and utility-scale solar averaged 6.2 per cent, clean energy website RenewEconomy.com.au reported, using Mr Eldridge's data. (Thanks to Slashdot reader betsuin for sharing the article) Read more of this story at Slashdot.