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New investment in Aotearoa New ZealandNew investment in Aotearoa New Zealand

GoogleBlog - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 22:00

New Zealand is often described as an ‘island of innovation’, and when it comes to technology, it’s true that we Kiwis regularly punch above our weight. At the same time, there’s always more progress to be made, and greater opportunities ahead


As we approach 15 years on the ground in New Zealand, Google is investing to put down stronger roots here — including by establishing an engineering presence in Auckland.


This week, our teams move into the first purpose-built Google office in Auckland, a space that has been designed to bring the best of Aotearoa to Google — giving visitors a taste of the diverse landscapes that New Zealand is known for around the world. We have kayaks for a reception desk, the largest digital ceiling in New Zealand and a cafe that takes its likeness from a chilly bin (or a ‘cooler’, as some people call them

Categories: Technology

Pegasus Spyware Found On Journalists' Phones, French Intelligence Confirms

Slashdot.org - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 21:02
French intelligence investigators have confirmed that Pegasus spyware has been found on the phones of three journalists, including a senior member of staff at the country's international television station France 24. Pegasus is the hacking software -- or spyware -- that is developed, marketed and licensed to governments around the world by NSO Group. The malware has the capability to infect billions of phones running either iOS or Android operating systems. It enables operators of the spyware to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and secretly activate microphones. The Guardian reports: It is the first time an independent and official authority has corroborated the findings of an international investigation by the Pegasus project -- a consortium of 17 media outlets, including the Guardian. Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based nonprofit media organization, and Amnesty International initially had access to a leaked list of 50,000 numbers that, it is believed, have been identified as those of people of interest by clients of Israeli firm NSO Group since 2016, and shared access with their media partners. France's national agency for information systems security (Anssi) identified digital traces of NSO Group's hacking spyware on the television journalist's phone and relayed its findings to the Paris public prosecutor's office, which is overseeing the investigation into possible hacking. Anssi also found Pegasus on telephones belonging to Lenaig Bredoux, an investigative journalist at the French investigative website Mediapart, and the site's director, Edwy Plenel. Forbidden Stories believes at least 180 journalists worldwide may have been selected as people of interest in advance of possible surveillance by government clients of NSO. Le Monde reported that the France 24 journalist, based in Paris, had been selected for "eventually putting under surveillance." Police experts discovered the spyware had been used to target the journalist's phone three times: in May 2019, September 2020 and January 2021, the paper said. Bredoux told the Guardian that investigators had found traces of Pegasus spyware on both her and Plenel's mobile phones. She said the confirmation of long-held suspicions that they had been targeted contradicted the repeated denials of those who were believed to be behind the attempt to spy on them.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Pentagon Believes Its Precognitive AI Can Predict Events 'Days In Advance'

Slashdot.org - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 20:25
The Drive reports that US Northern Command recently completed a string of tests for Global Information Dominance Experiments (GIDE), a combination of AI, cloud computing and sensors that could give the Pentagon the ability to predict events "days in advance," according to Command leader General Glen VanHerck. Engadget reports: The machine learning-based system observes changes in raw, real-time data that hint at possible trouble. If satellite imagery shows signs that a rival nation's submarine is preparing to leave port, for instance, the AI could flag that mobilization knowing the vessel will likely leave soon. Military analysts can take hours or even days to comb through this information -- GIDE technology could send an alert within "seconds," VanHerck said. The most recent dry run, GIDE 3, was the most expansive yet. It saw all 11 US commands and the broader Defense Department use a mix of military and civilian sensors to address scenarios where "contested logistics" (such as communications in the Panama Canal) might pose a problem. The technology involved wasn't strictly new, the General said, but the military "stitched everything together." The platform could be put into real-world use relatively soon. VanHerck believed the military was "ready to field" the software, and could validate it at the next Globally Integrated Exercise in spring 2022.

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Steam Survey Shows Linux Marketshare Hitting 1.0%

Slashdot.org - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 19:45
According to Steam Survey numbers for July 2021, Steam on Linux hit a 1.0% marketshare, or a +0.14% increase over the month prior. Phoronix reports: This is the highest we have seen the Steam on Linux marketshare in a number of years and well off the lows prior to introducing Steam Play (Proton) since which point there has been the gradual increase in marketshare. Back when Steam on Linux first debuted there was around a 2% marketshare for Linux before gradually declining. Back when Steam first debuted for Linux, the overall Steam customer base was also much smaller than it is today. While many believe the Steam Survey is inaccurate or biased (or just buggy towards prompting Linux users to participate in the survey), these initial numbers for July are positive in hitting the 1.0% mark after largely floating around the 0.8~0.9% mark for most of the past three years. The Steam Deck isn't shipping until the end of the year so we'll see how the number fluctuates to that point.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Rise of Never-Ending Job Interviews

Slashdot.org - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 19:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Every jobseeker welcomes an invitation to a second interview, because it signals a company's interest. A third interview might feel even more positive, or even be the precursor to an offer. But what happens when the process drags on to a fourth, fifth or sixth round -- and it's not even clear how close you are to the 'final' interview? That's a question Mike Conley, 49, grappled with earlier this year. The software engineering manager, based in Indiana, US, had been seeking a new role after losing his job during the pandemic. Five companies told him they had to delay hiring because of Covid-19 -- but only after he'd done the final round of interviews. Another three invited him for several rounds of interviews until it was time to make an offer, at which point they decided to promote internally. Then, he made it through three rounds of interviews for a director-level position at a company he really liked, only to receive an email to co-ordinate six more rounds. "When I responded to the internal HR, I even asked, 'Are these the final rounds?,'" he says. "The answer I got back was: 'We don't know yet.'" That's when Conley made the tough decision to pull out. He shared his experience in a LinkedIn post that's touched a nerve with fellow job-seekers, who've viewed it 2.6 million times as of this writing. Conley says he's received about 4,000 public comments of support, and "four times that in private comments" from those who feared being tracked by current or prospective employers. [...] In fact, the internet is awash with similar stories jobseekers who've become frustrated with companies -- particularly in the tech, finance and energy sectors -- turning the interview process into a marathon. That poses the question: how many rounds of interviews should it take for an employer to reasonably assess a candidate before the process veers into excess? And how long should candidates stick it out if there's no clear information on exactly how many hoops they'll have to jump through to stay in the running for a role? Google recently determined that four interviews was enough to make a hiring decision with 86% confidence, noting that there was a diminishing return on interviewer feedback thereafter. "John Sullivan, a Silicon Valley-based HR thought leader, says companies should nail down a hire-by date from the start of the recruitment process, because the best candidates only transition the job market briefly," reports the BBC. "According to a survey from global staffing firm Robert Half, 62% of US professionals say they lose interest in a job if they don't hear back from the employer within two weeks -- or 10 business days -- after the initial interview. That number jumps to 77% if there is no status update within three weeks. "

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Australian Court Rules An AI Can Be Considered An Inventor On Patent Filings

Slashdot.org - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 18:20
An Australian Court has decided that an artificial intelligence can be recognized as an inventor in a patent submission. The Register reports: In a case brought by Stephen Thaler, who has filed and lost similar cases in other jurisdictions, Australia's Federal Court last month heard and decided that the nation's Commissioner of Patents erred when deciding that an AI can't be considered an inventor. Justice Beach reached that conclusion because nothing in Australia law says the applicant for a patent must be human. As Beach's judgement puts it: "... in my view an artificial intelligence system can be an inventor for the purposes of the Act. First, an inventor is an agent noun; an agent can be a person or thing that invents. Second, so to hold reflects the reality in terms of many otherwise patentable inventions where it cannot sensibly be said that a human is the inventor. Third, nothing in the Act dictates the contrary conclusion." The Justice also worried that the Commissioner of Patents' logic in rejecting Thaler's patent submissions was faulty. "On the Commissioner's logic, if you had a patentable invention but no human inventor, you could not apply for a patent," the judgement states. "Nothing in the Act justifies such a result." Justice Beach therefore sent Thaler's applications back to the Commissioner of Patents, with instructions to re-consider the reasons for their rejection. Thaler has filed patent applications around the world in the name of DABUS -- a Device for the Autonomous Boot-strapping of Unified Sentience. Among the items DABUS has invented are a food container and a light-emitting beacon.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

AMD and Valve Working On New Linux CPU Performance Scaling Design

Slashdot.org - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 17:40
Along with other optimizations to benefit the Steam Deck, AMD and Valve have been jointly working on CPU frequency/power scaling improvements to enhance the Steam Play gaming experience on modern AMD platforms running Linux. Phoronix reports: It's no secret that the ACPI CPUFreq driver code has at times been less than ideal on recent AMD processors with delivering less than expected performance/behavior with being slow to ramp up to a higher performance state or otherwise coming up short of disabling the power management functionality outright. AMD hasn't traditionally worked on the Linux CPU frequency scaling code as much as Intel does to their P-State scaling driver and other areas of power management at large. AMD is ramping up efforts in these areas including around the Linux scheduler given their recent hiring spree while it now looks like thanks to the Steam Deck there is renewed interest in better optimizing the CPU frequency scaling under Linux. AMD and Valve have been working to improve the performance/power efficiency for modern AMD platforms running on Steam Play (Proton / Wine) and have spearheaded "[The ACPI CPUFreq driver] was not very performance/power efficiency for modern AMD platforms...a new CPU performance scaling design for AMD platform which has better performance per watt scaling on such as 3D game like Horizon Zero Dawn with VKD3D-Proton on Steam." AMD will be presenting more about this effort next month at XDC. It's quite possible this new effort is focused on ACPI CPPC support with the previously proposed AMD_CPUFreq. Back when Zen 2 launched in 2019, AMD did post patches for their new CPUFreq driver that leveraged ACPI Collaborative Processor Performance Controls but the driver was never mainlined nor any further iterations of the patches posted. When inquiring about that work a few times since then, AMD has always said it's been basically due to resource constraints that it wasn't a focus at that time. Upstream kernel developers also voiced their preference to seeing AMD work to improve the generic ACPI CPPC CPUFreq driver code rather than having another vendor-specific solution. It's also possible AMD has been working on better improvements around the now-default Schedutil governor for scheduler utilization data in making CPU frequency scaling decisions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

KDE Plasma 5.22 Released

Linux.Slashdot.org - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 17:35
Categories: Linux

The Push For a 'PBS For the Internet'

Slashdot.org - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 17:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Axios: The concept of a new media ecosystem that's non-profit, publicly funded and tech-infused is drawing interest in policy circles as a way to shift the power dynamics in today's information wars. Revamping the structure and role of public media could be part of the solution to shoring up local media, decentralizing the distribution of quality news, and constraining Big Tech platforms' amplification of harmful or false information. Congress in 1967 authorized federal operating money to broadcast stations through a new agency, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and what is now PBS launched down-the-middle national news programming and successful kids shows like "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" and "Sesame Street." NPR was born in 1971. Despite dust-ups over political interference of national programming and funding, hundreds of local community broadcast stations primarily received grants directly to choose which national programs to support. A new policy paper from the German Marshall Fund proposes a full revamp of the CPB to fund not just broadcast stations, but a wide range of digital platforms and potential content producers including independent journalists, local governments, nonprofits and educational institutions. The idea is to increase the diversity of local civic information, leaning on anchor institutions like libraries and colleges that communities trust. Beyond content, the plan calls for open protocol standards and APIs to let consumers mix and match the content they want from a wide variety of sources, rather than being at the mercy of Facebook, Twitter or YouTube algorithms. Data would be another crucial component. In order to operate, entities in the ecosystem would have to commit to basic data ethics and rules about how personal information is used.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A Plant That 'Cannot Die' Reveals Its Genetic Secrets

Slashdot.org - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 16:25
Events in the genome of Welwitschia have given it the ability to survive in an unforgiving desert for thousands of years. From a report: The longest-lived leaves in the plant kingdom can be found only in the harsh, hyperarid desert that crosses the boundary between southern Angola and northern Namibia. A desert is not, of course, the most hospitable place for living things to grow anything, let alone leafy greens, but the Namib Desert -- the world's oldest with parts receiving less than two inches of precipitation a year -- is where Welwitschia calls home. In Afrikaans, the plant is named "tweeblaarkanniedood," which means "two leaves that cannot die." The naming is apt: Welwitschia grows only two leaves -- and continuously -- in a lifetime that can last millenniums. "Most plants develop a leaf, and that's it," said Andrew Leitch, a plant geneticist at Queen Mary University of London. "This plant can live thousands of years, and it never stops growing. When it does stop growing, it's dead." Some of the largest plants are believed to be over 3,000 years old, with two leaves steadily growing since the beginning of the Iron Age, when the Phoenician alphabet was invented and David was crowned King of Israel. By some accounts, Welwitschia is not much to look at. Its two fibrous leaves, buffeted by dry desert winds and fed on by thirsty animals, become shredded and curled over time, giving Welwitschia a distinctly octopus-like look. One 19th-century director of Kew Gardens in London remarked, "it is out of the question the most wonderful plant ever brought to this country and one of the ugliest." But since it was first discovered, Welwitschia has captivated biologists including Charles Darwin and the botanist Friedrich Welwitsch after whom the plant is named: It is said that when Welwitsch first came across the plant in 1859, "he could do nothing but kneel down on the burning soil and gaze at it, half in fear lest a touch should prove it a figment of the imagination." In a study published last month in Nature Communications, researchers report some of the genetic secrets behind Welwitschia's unique shape, extreme longevity and profound resilience.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

With Undersea Robots, an Air Force Navigator Lost Since 1967 Is Found

Slashdot.org - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 15:45
A recovery mission off Vietnam's coast showed how advances in technology have given new reach to the Pentagon's search for American war dead. From a report: On a July morning in 1967, two American B-52 bombers collided over the South China Sea as they approached a target in what was then South Vietnam. Seven crew members escaped, but rescue units from the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard were unable to find six other men, including a navigator from New York, Maj. Paul A. Avolese. It wasn't until last year that scientists scanning the seafloor found one of the B-52s and recovered Major Avolese's remains. "It was very humbling to be diving a site that turned out as hallowed ground, and realizing that maybe we were in a position to help bring closure back to families that had been missing this lost aviator," said Eric J. Terrill, one of two divers who descended to the wreck. Scientists say the recovery highlights a shift in the Pentagon's ability to search for personnel still missing from the Vietnam War. For decades, such efforts have mainly focused on land in former conflict zones. But in this case, American investigators looked at an underwater site near Vietnam's long coastline, using high-tech robots. Their use of that technology is part of a larger trend. Robotic underwater and surface vehicles are "rapidly becoming indispensable tools for ocean science and exploration," said Rear Adm. Nancy Hann, who manages a fleet of nine aircraft and 16 research and survey vessels for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "They have proven to be a force multiplier when it comes to mapping the seafloor, locating and surveying wrecks and other sunken objects, and collecting data in places not easily accessed by ships and other vehicles," Admiral Hann said. One reason for the new focus on Vietnam's undersea crash sites is that many land-based leads have been exhausted, said Andrew Pietruszka, the lead archaeologist for Project Recover, a nonprofit organization. The group worked on the recent recovery mission with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or D.P.A.A., the arm of the Pentagon tasked with finding and returning fallen military personnel. "Over time, a lot of the really good land cases and sites they've already done, they've already processed them," said Mr. Pietruszka, a former forensic archaeologist for D.P.A.A. who now works for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. "Now the majority of sites that haven't been looked at are falling in that underwater realm," he added.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hackers Shut Down System For Booking COVID-19 Shots in Italy's Lazio Region

Slashdot.org - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 15:05
Hackers have attacked and shut down the IT systems of the company that manages COVID-19 vaccination appointments for the Lazio region surrounding Rome, the regional government said on Sunday. From a report: "A powerful hacker attack on the region's CED (database) is under way," the region said in a Facebook posting. It said all systems had been deactivated, including those of the region's health portal and vaccination network, and warned the inoculation programme could suffer a delay. "It is a very powerful hacker attack, very serious... everything is out. The whole regional CED is under attack," Lazio region's health manager Alessio D'Amato said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Linux Find Out BIOS Version Using a Command Line Option

nixCraft - Mon, 08/02/2021 - 14:27

{Updated} How do I find out BIOS version using a Linux command line option? How do I check the motherboard BIOS version using Linux command line option?

The post Linux Find Out BIOS Version Using a Command Line Option appeared first on nixCraft.

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