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Cities: Skylines' Airports DLC takes off today alongside customisation-focused free update

Eurogamer - Tue, 25/01/2022 - 11:00

Cities: Skylines' new aviation-focused expansion, Airports, is out today, 25th January, on PC and consoles, and publisher Paradox Interactive is preparing for take off with a new gameplay trailer and news of an accompanying customisation-focused free update.

As its name suggests, Airports - which is Cities: Skylines' tenth major expansion, following on from After Dark, Snowfall, Natural Disasters, Mass Transit, Green Cities, Parklife, Industries, Campus, and Sunset Harbour - gives budding urban planners the tools needed to create and manage their own air-focused transportation hubs.

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The James Webb Space Telescope Arrives At Its Final Orbit

Slashdot - Tue, 25/01/2022 - 09:00
NASA has confirmed that the James Webb Space Telescope has successfully entered its final orbit around the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point after one last course correction burn. Engadget reports: The telescope's primary mirror segments and secondary mirror have already been deployed, but you'll have to wait until the summer for the first imagery. NASA will spend the next several months readying the JWST for service, including a three-month optics alignment process. The L2 orbit is crucial to the telescope's mission. It provides a largely unobstructed view of space while giving the spacecraft a cold, interference-free position that helps its instruments live up to their full potential. The JWST is expected to study the early Universe using infrared light, providing data that wouldn't be available from an Earth orbit telescope like Hubble.

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Space Force Just Launched Satellites Capable of 'Inspecting' Enemy Satellites

Slashdot - Tue, 25/01/2022 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Drive: Space Force launched two additional satellites today as part of its push for greater Space Domain Awareness, or SDA, in geosynchronous orbit some 22,000 miles away from Earth. The two satellites are part of the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, or GSSAP, and will allow Space Force to not only locate and identify objects in this distant orbit, but also maneuver close to them in order to inspect them or assess their capabilities. The launch comes as Space Force leadership continues to sound the alarm about the risks posed to U.S. satellites in orbit. The Northrop Grumman-built GSSAP-5 and GSSAP-6 were launched today at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 511 rocket. The first two GSSAP satellites were launched in 2014, with the second two following in 2016. Space Force has not released any details about how these two new GSSAP satellites might differ from the previous four, which were designed to operate near the belt of other geosynchronous satellites and maneuver close to them to conduct surveillance. A spokesperson for Space Systems Command stated this week that the new GGSAP satellites "will provide improved SDA data to the National Space Defense Center and other national users to enhance our ability to navigate freely and safely within the GEO belt." GSSAP-5 and GSSAP-6 were originally scheduled to be launched in 2020, and it is not known why the launch was delayed almost two years. The GSSAP program was originally highly classified and was only revealed to the public in 2014. While the exact capabilities of the satellites are not public, it's known that they are able to capture close-up images of other satellites in geosynchronous orbit. Former Commander of Air Force Space Command Gen. William Shelton (Ret.) told Aviation Week in 2014 that the satellites are designed to drift in and out of the geosynchronous belt collecting intelligence on specific targets. The Air Force has previously used one of the satellites for Remote Proximity Operations (RPO), maneuvering close enough to inspect another Department of Defense satellite operated by the Navy that was experiencing a malfunction. The former head of Air Force Space Command, General John Hyten (Ret.), has previously said the satellites are capable of capturing some "truly eye-watering" imagery.

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40 People Arrested For Alleged Twitch Money Laundering Scheme

Slashdot - Tue, 25/01/2022 - 04:02
On Tuesday, Turkish police in eleven different provinces took forty suspects into custody for an alleged money laundering scam perpetrated using the Twitch streaming platform. Kotaku reports: According to Demiroren News Agency (via Daily Sabah and Dexerto), the suspects are accused of using stolen credit cards to buy Bits, which are essentially the platform's virtual currency. Those Bits were then allegedly sent to streamers, who then paid the scammers real money through a 70 to 80 percent refund. So, if the scammers bought 1,000 Bits for $10, this could be a way for them to make $7 or $8 from a stolen credit card, and streamers to pick up the difference. Compound more stolen credit cards and much higher dollar amounts, and you end up with a scam that could total an estimated $9.8 million. This appears to be a long-running operation, with an email paper trail going back two years.

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DHS Warns of Russian Cyberattack On US If It Responds To Ukraine Invasion

Slashdot - Tue, 25/01/2022 - 03:25
As tensions rise in the standoff over Ukraine, the Department of Homeland Security has warned that the U.S. response to a possible Russian invasion could result in a cyberattack launched against the U.S. by the Russian government or its proxies. ABC News reports: "We assess that Russia would consider initiating a cyber attack against the Homeland if it perceived a US or NATO response to a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine threatened its long-term national security," a DHS Intelligence and Analysis bulletin sent to law enforcement agencies around the country and obtained by ABC News said. The bulletin was dated Jan. 23, 2022. Russia, DHS said, has a "range of offensive cyber tools that it could employ against US networks," and the attacks could range from a low level denial of service attack, to "destructive" attacks targeting critical infrastructure. "We assess that Russia's threshold for conducting disruptive or destructive cyber attacks in the Homeland probably remains very high and we have not observed Moscow directly employ these types of cyber attacks against US critical infrastructure -- notwithstanding cyber espionage and potential prepositioning operations in the past," the bulletin said. Last year, Russian cybercriminals launched a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, shutting down operations and causing widespread outages across the country. Meat supplier JBS also had its operations shutdown due to Russian based hackers.

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Twitter Suspends Wordle-Ruining Bot

Slashdot - Tue, 25/01/2022 - 02:45
Twitter has banned @wordlinator, a bot that replied to people's Wordle posts with rude messages that include spoilers for the next day's game. The Verge reports: The account's spoilers appeared to be accurate (the key is easily accessible in the game's code, so it's not necessarily a surprise), which could end up ruining the game for anyone who sees them. [...] Given that the game is about guessing a word, knowing what the next one will be can ruin the entire point. It's also one of those things that's almost impossible to put out of your head -- when you've seen what the next word is, you probably won't be able to forget it no matter how hard you try. Further reading: Wordle Is a Love Story

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Tesla Now Runs the Most Productive Auto Factory In America

Slashdot - Tue, 25/01/2022 - 02:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Elon Musk has a very specific vision for the ideal factory: densely packed, vertically integrated and unusually massive. During Tesla's early days of mass production, he was chided for what was perceived as hubris. Now, Tesla's original California factory has achieved a brag-worthy title: the most productive auto plant in North America. Last year Tesla's factory in Fremont, California, produced an average of 8,550 cars a week. That's more than Toyota's juggernaut in Georgetown, Kentucky (8,427 cars a week), BMW AG's Spartanburg hub in South Carolina (8,343) or Ford's iconic truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan (5,564), according to a Bloomberg analysis of production data from more than 70 manufacturing facilities. In a year when auto production around the world was stifled by supply-chain shortages, Tesla expanded its global production by 83% over 2020 levels. Its other auto factory, in Shanghai, tripled output to nearly 486,000. In the coming weeks, Tesla is expected to announce the start of production at two new factories -- Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg, its first in Europe, and Gigafactory Texas in Austin. Musk said in October that he plans to further increase production in Fremont and Shanghai by 50%. [...] Once Tesla flips the switch on two new factories, what comes next? Musk has a longstanding target to increase vehicle deliveries by roughly 50% a year. To continue such growth, Tesla will need to either open more factories or make the facilities even more productive. Musk said in October that he's working on both. Site selection for the next Gigafactories begins this year.

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Hacktivists Say They Hacked Belarus Rail System To Stop Russian Military Buildup

Slashdot - Tue, 25/01/2022 - 01:20
Hacktivists in Belarus said on Monday they had infected the network of the country's state-run railroad system with ransomware and would provide the decryption key only if Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko stopped aiding Russian troops ahead of a possible invasion of Ukraine. Ars Technica reports: Referring to the Belarus Railway, a group calling itself Cyber Partisans wrote on Telegram: "BelZhD, at the command of the terrorist Lukashenko, these days allows the occupying troops to enter our land. As part of the 'Peklo' cyber campaign, we encrypted the bulk of the servers, databases and workstations of the BelZhD in order to slow down and disrupt the operation of the road. The backups have been destroyed [...]." The group also announced the attack on Twitter. A representative from the group said in a direct message that the Peklo cyber campaign targets specific entities and government-run companies with the goal of pressuring the Belarus government to release political prisoners and stop Russian troops from entering Belarus to use its ground for the attacks on Ukraine. "The government continues to suppress the free will of Belarusians, imprison innocent people, they continue to unlawfully keep... thousands of political prisoners," the representative wrote. "The major goal is to overthrow Lukashenko's regime, keep the sovereignty and build a democratic state with the rule of law, independent institutions and protection of human rights." At the time this post went live, several services on the railway's website were unavailable. Online ticket purchases, for instance, weren't working [...]. The representative said that besides ticketing and scheduling being disrupted, the cyberattack also affected freight trains. According to reports, Russia has been sending military equipment and personnel by rail into Belarus, which shares a border with Ukraine. @belzhd_live, a group of Belarus Railway workers that tracks activity on the 5,512-km railway, said on Friday that in a week's time, more than 33 Russian military trains loaded with equipment and troops had arrived in Belarus for joint strategic exercises there. The worker group said at the time that it expected a total of 200 so-called echelons to arrive in the coming days.

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Apex Legends' next hero is Fuse's one-time pal Mad Maggie

Eurogamer - Tue, 25/01/2022 - 00:59

With Apex Legends' 12th season coming in fast, developer Respawn Entertainment has officially unveiled the battle royale shooter's next hero: Fuse's one-time pal Mad Maggie.

Maggie first entered the realm of Apex Legends lore a little over a year ago today, as part of Season 8 newcomer Walter 'Fuse' Fitzroy's Stories from the Outlands animated introduction. Here, players saw the demolitions expert spending some quality time with Maggie, his childhood friend, until the pair had a disagreement that left him missing an arm.

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Google Gets Hit With a New Lawsuit Over 'Deceptive' Location Tracking

Slashdot - Tue, 25/01/2022 - 00:42
Washington DC, Texas, Washington state and Indiana announced the latest lawsuit against Big Tech Monday, alleging that Google deceived users by collecting their location data even when they believed that kind of tracking was disabled. TechCrunch reports: "Google falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company could access," DC Attorney General Karl Racine said. "The truth is that contrary to Google's representations it continues to systematically surveil customers and profit from customer data." Racine described Google's privacy practices as "bold misrepresentations" that undermine consumer privacy. His office began investigating how Google handles user location data after reporting from the Associated Press in 2018 found that many Google apps across iOS and Android recorded location data even when users have chosen privacy options that explicitly say they won't. The AP coordinated with computer science researchers at Princeton to verify its findings. The lawsuit argues that Google created a location tracking system that's impossible for users to opt out of and that it misled users about how privacy settings could protect their data within apps and at the device level on Android. It also accuses Google of relying on deceptive dark pattern design to force users into making choices counter to their own interests. Racine's office is pursuing an injunction against Google as well as seeking to force the company to pay out profits that it made from user data collected by misleading consumers about their privacy.

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Meta Unveils New AI Supercomputer

Slashdot - Tue, 25/01/2022 - 00:05
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Meta said Monday that its research team built a new artificial intelligence supercomputer that the company maintains will soon be the fastest in the world. The supercomputer, the AI Research SuperCluster, was the result of nearly two years of work, often conducted remotely during the height of the pandemic, and led by the Facebook parent's AI and infrastructure teams. Several hundred people, including researchers from partners Nvidia, Penguin Computing and Pure Storage, were involved in the project, the company said. Meta, which announced the news in a blog post Monday, said its research team currently is using the supercomputer to train AI models in natural-language processing and computer vision for research. The aim is to boost capabilities to one day train models with more than a trillion parameters on data sets as large as an exabyte, which is roughly equivalent to 36,000 years of high-quality video. "The experiences we're building for the metaverse require enormous compute powerand RSC will enable new AI models that can learn from trillions of examples, understand hundreds of languages, and more," Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement provided to The Wall Street Journal. Meta's AI supercomputer houses 6,080 Nvidia graphics-processing units, putting it fifth among the fastest supercomputers in the world, according to Meta. By mid-summer, when the AI Research SuperCluster is fully built, it will house some 16,000 GPUs, becoming the fastest AI supercomputer in the world, Meta said. The company declined to comment on the location of the facility or the cost. [...] Eventually the supercomputer will help Meta's researchers build AI models that can work across hundreds of languages, analyze text, images and video together and develop augmented reality tools, the company said. The technology also will help Meta more easily identify harmful content and will aim to help Meta researchers develop artificial-intelligence models that think like the human brain and support rich, multidimensional experiences in the metaverse. "In the metaverse, it's one hundred percent of the time, a 3-D multi-sensorial experience, and you need to create artificial-intelligence agents in that environment that are relevant to you," said Jerome Pesenti, vice president of AI at Meta.

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Square Enix lifts the lid on the full weirdness of Final Fantasy spin-off Stranger of Paradise

Eurogamer - Tue, 25/01/2022 - 00:00

Stranger of Paradise is a funny old thing. Revealed last year with an eyebrow-raising trailer in which chaos reigned and with a playable demo stumbling out soon after, it soon became the butt of online jokes - though over time and with a little bit of added context a fascinating retelling of the original Final Fantasy has emerged, with Garland, the evil knight of the first game, cast in the starring role.

With Koei Tecmo on development duties, there's more than a touch of Nioh to its hard-edged action, while Square Enix keeps the Final Fantasy references coming thick and fast, from the FF5-inspired job system to familiar locations that draw upon the likes of FF13's Sunleth Waterscape.

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Minecraft DDoS Attack Leaves Small European Country Without Internet

Slashdot - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 23:22
Andorra Telecom, the only ISP in the principality of Andorra, suffered repeated distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks during a multi-day Twitch gaming tournament. From a report: The DDoS attacks occurred during the scheduled SquidCraft Games tournament in Minecraft, one of the most successful Twitch Rivals tournaments ever broadcast. Eight or more Andorran streamers were eliminated from the Twitch tournament after the second day of attacks due to their repeated disconnects. There is some suspicion that perpetrators planned the DDoS attacks on Andorra Telecom to cheat the Andorran's of their chance to win the $100,000 pot. The SquidCraft Games was a highly anticipated Twitch streaming event designed to emulate the hit Netflix series called The Squid Game in Minecraft. As noted, it has been a viral game streaming event with a peak viewership of over a million on day two of the event. As per the TV series, this is an elimination game, and in this Twitch event, there is a healthy prize pot of $100,000 to ensure participants would be highly competitive. The event will end on Tuesday. A significant portion of the 150 SquidCraft games participants lives in Andorra. Spanish language reports of the event confirm that day one went without a hitch for all players, in terms of fairness. The games "green light, red light," and "hide and seek" ran smoothly to their conclusions.

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Mistborn author jokes From Software should have come to him for Elden Ring

Eurogamer - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 23:19

Acclaimed fantasy author (and huge From Software fan) Brandon Sanderson has teasingly decried Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin's involvement in the upcoming Elden Ring.

Sanderson - whose expansive oeuvre includes the likes of the Mistborn saga and the final chapter in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series - made the comments during a panel at 2021's Dragonsteel MiniCon (as spotted by TechRadar), which has recently surfaced online.

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Faster Internet Speeds Linked To Lower Civic Engagement in UK

Slashdot - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 22:50
Faster internet access has significantly weakened civic participation in Britain, according to a study that found involvement in political parties, trade unions and volunteering fell as web speeds rose. From a report: Volunteering in social care fell by more than 10% when people lived closer to local telecoms exchange hubs and so enjoyed faster web access. Involvement in political parties fell by 19% with every 1.8km increase in proximity to a hub. By contrast, the arrival of fast internet had no significant impact on interactions with family and friends. The analysis of behaviour among hundreds of thousands of people led by academics from Cardiff University and Sapienza University of Rome found faster connection speeds may have reduced the likelihood of civic engagement among close to 450,000 people -- more than double the estimated membership of the Conservative party. They found that as internet speeds rose between 2005 and 2018, time online "crowded out" other forms of civic engagement. The study's authors have also speculated that the phenomenon may have helped fuel populism as people's involvement with initiatives for "the common good," which they say are effectively "schools of democracy" where people learn the benefit of cooperation, has declined. Other studies have shown that social media engagement has strengthened other kinds of civic engagement, for example by helping to organise protests and fuelling an interest in politics, even if it does not manifest in traditional forms of participation. However, politics conducted online has been found to be more susceptible to "filter bubbles," which limit participantsâ(TM) exposure to opposing views and so foster polarisation.

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NASA Celebrates Private Sector Deployments of Space-born Tech in Its Latest Spinoff

Slashdot - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 22:21
An anonymous reader shares a report: NASA's Spinoff magazine is one of the things I look forward to reading every year. The space agency's research trickles down to the rest of the world in surprising and interesting ways, which it tracks and collects in this annual publication. This year is no different, and NASA tech can be found in everything from hiking gadgets to heavy industry and, funnily enough, space. There are dozens of technologies that have made their way to everyday use in a variety of places highlighted in this year's issue, which you can browse here [PDF]. I talked with Daniel Lockney, the head of NASA's Tech Transfer Program overseeing the deployment of its tech and research among terrestrial companies looking to put it to good use. "Typically what happens is: NASA develops something, they report it to my office, and we look at it to figure out, first, does it work? And second, who else can use it? And if someone can, we figure out how to get it to them," Lockney explained. "I try to give as much away for free as I can. I've got no direction to generate revenue or bring something back to the U.S. treasury. The 1958 NASA act that created us says to disseminate our work -- nothing in there about making a dime." The result is cheap or free licensing of interesting tech like compact, long-lasting water filters, unusual mechanical components, and other tech that was needed for space or launch purposes but might find a second use on the ground. Lockney highlighted a couple items in the latest batch that he thought were especially interesting. "There was a partnership with GM to develop the Robo-Glove, a functional glove that astronauts will wear to help reduce strain during repetitive tasks and increase grip strength," he said. "Squeezing something on a spacewalk, you can do it a couple times, but if you're gripping a tool for the whole afternoon... so we developed this glove to assist in that work, and now it's being used at factories around the world."

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Sea of Thieves detailing "biggest year yet" in 2022 preview livestream this Thursday

Eurogamer - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 21:58

Rare will be outlining Sea of Thieves' "biggest year yet" during a special 2022 preview livestream airing this Thursday, 27th January.

This isn't the first time we've heard that phrase, of course; Sea of Thieves executive producer Joe Neate also teased the multiplayer pirate adventure's "biggest year yet" ahead of 2021 - a claim that seems entirely reasonable in hindsight, given that last year saw Sea of Thieves introducing everything from a sizeable map expansion beneath the waves to a wildly cinematic Pirates of the Caribbean crossover. And that's not even touching on the likes of new enemies, a new treasure burying mechanic, and more.

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Mark Cuban on His Online Pharmacy: 'Our KPI is How Much We Can Reduce the Stress of Our Patients'

Slashdot - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 21:26
Mark Cuban's announcement over the weekend of an online pharmacy selling over a hundred generic drugs at near cost was totally unexpected but will likely be welcomed by millions who struggle to afford medication. The billionaire told TechCrunch that the business model is refreshingly simple: "Lower pricing reduces patient stress, and that will lead to more customers." From the report: The Cost Plus Drug Company aims very simply to provide as many common medications as possible in generic form at as low a price as possible. All cash, no IP deals, no insurance companies -- just buy pills for what they cost to make, plus 15 percent to cover overhead. Asked about ROI, Cuban admitted there isn't much to speak of, by design. "I want to be above break even while maximizing the number of people who can afford their medications," he said. "Shoot. I would be happy if we can make a little, but push pricing of generics sold elsewhere down significantly. Our challenge is to keep pushing prices lower," not compete with anyone, he continued. "Our KPI is how much we can reduce the stress of our patients who buy generic meds. When people save a lot of money on their medications, they often will tell others they know that have the same challenges. That word of mouth impacts our growth the most."

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US court permanently bans Roblox YouTuber accused of staff harassment and terrorist threats

Eurogamer - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 20:44

A California court has permanently banned a Roblox player after he was sued by the game's developer for allegedly harassing staff and making terrorist threats to disrupt official events.

The Roblox Corporation initially launched legal action against Roblox YouTuber and content creator Benjamin Robert Simon, known as Ruben Sim, last November, accusing him of leading a "cybermob" against the platform and using "malice, fraud, and oppression" to commit unlawful acts intended to "injure Roblox and its users".

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Peloton Should Put Itself Up for Sale and Fire Its CEO, Activist Investor Demands

Slashdot - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 20:43
The knives are out for Peloton and CEO John Foley. From a report: Blackwells Capital, an activist investor that owns less than 5% of Peloton, says it has "grave concerns" about its performance and is calling on its board of directors to fire Foley immediately and explore a sale. In an open letter Monday, the investment firm sharply criticized Peloton for not capitalizing the success it achieved in 2020, saying it squandered the opportunity to grow sales of its internet-connected bikes and treadmills. Peloton shares have tumbled 80% from their peak, bruised from sagging sales, a massive recall and PR nightmares in popular TV shows. Blackwells' Chief Investment Officer Jason Aintabi said the company is currently on "worse footing today than it was prior to the pandemic, with high fixed costs, excessive inventory, a listless strategy, dispirited employees and thousands of disgruntled shareholders." To turn around Peloton's fortunes, Blackwells suggests firing Foley for his "repeated failures," listing 10 examples. They include his pricing strategy (Peloton cut the price on its Bike and Tread in August 2021, only to raise them again months later), his handling of the treadmill recall and a purported temporary shutdown of production. Blackwells also slammed Foley for hiring his wife as a key executive.

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