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Updated: 1 hour 23 min ago

Parler Returns To Apple's App Store

1 hour 50 min ago
Parler, a social media app popular with U.S. conservatives, returned to Apple's App Store on Monday, after the iPhone maker dropped it following the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. From a report: Parler also named George Farmer, the company's chief operating officer since March, as its new chief executive and said interim CEO Mark Meckler would be leaving. Apple said last month it would readmit Parler into its iOS App Store, after Parler proposed updates to its app and content moderation policies. read more "The entire Parler team has worked hard to address Apple's concerns without compromising our core mission," said Meckler in an emailed statement. "Anything allowed on the Parler network but not in the iOS app will remain accessible through our web-based and Android versions. This is a win-win for Parler, its users, and free speech." The Washington Post said Parler's Chief Policy Officer Amy Peikoff likened the iOS version of the app to a "Parler Lite or Parler PG." Parler is still pushing Apple to allow users to see hate speech behind a warning label, the newspaper reported. Several tech companies cut ties with Parler after the Capitol riot, accusing the app backed by prominent Republican Party donor Rebekah Mercer of failing to police violent content on its service.

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Categories: Geek

Amid Public Pressure Audacity Says It Will Not Collect Telemetry Data From Users

2 hours 59 min ago
After its recent announcement about plans to add telemetry collection prompted backlash, popular audio editor Audacity has announced it won't go ahead with the plan to collect its users' data. BetaNews reports: Audacity's new owner, Muse Group, has bowed to pressure from users and privacy advocates, announcing that the planned telemetry collection will no longer be going ahead. The company is blaming "communication mistakes" and public "misunderstanding" for the negative response to its previous data collection announcement.

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Categories: Geek

Apple and Microsoft's Rivalry Had Cooled. Now It's Back and Getting Testier

3 hours 54 min ago
After collaborating on various projects for several years, the relationship between Microsoft and Apple is getting testier again. From a report: [...] Around the time the PC character reappeared, Microsoft began bad-mouthing Apple to regulators, saying the company's App Store was anti-competitive. The Redmond, Washington, software giant had thrown in its lot with Epic Games, which was suing Apple for booting its Fortnite title from the App Store and accusing the iPhone maker of monopolistic behavior. A Microsoft executive has since testified against Apple at the trial, now in its second week, telling the court that Apple's tight control of its App Store had hurt Microsoft's own gaming efforts. The tensions are unlikely to ease once a verdict comes down because Apple and Microsoft are both looking to dominate the next big things in tech -- from artificial intelligence and cloud computing to gaming, tablets, custom processors and mixed-reality headsets. The renewed antipathy between Apple and Microsoft started about a year ago. Microsoft had developed a cloud gaming service for iPhones and iPads called xCloud. One app would let users pay a monthly fee to Microsoft and stream dozens of different gaming titles from the cloud. The service was supposed to do for gaming what Netflix did for video, appease gamers and turn Apple devices into a more powerful gaming platform backed by Xbox, one of the hottest names in the industry. But Microsoft never launched the service in its intended form, having failed to persuade Apple to loosen App Store rules forbidding all-in-one gaming services. Originally, Microsoft was barred from launching any cloud-based games at all. But a few months after concerns over the ban on streaming apps went public, Apple tweaked the rules. Microsoft can now launch a cloud gaming service, but each game must be downloaded separately, defeating the purpose of an all-in-one solution. Now Microsoft is rolling out the service on Apple devices via the web, a much less optimal experience than a real app. Around the same time, Microsoft President Brad Smith began urging U.S. and European antitrust regulators to examine Apple's practices.

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Categories: Geek

Apple Music is Getting Lossless and Spatial Audio Support

4 hours 56 min ago
Apple Music subscribers will find a big chunk of the catalog sounds better next month: The service is adding support for high-quality, lossless and spatial audio through Dolby Atmos at no additional cost, it said Monday. It'll have 20 million lossless audio songs to start, with 75 million available by the end of 2021. From a report: To try out lossless audio, you should make sure you have the latest version of Apple Music and go to Settings, Music, then Audio Quality. You can choose different resolutions for cellular and Wi-Fi connections, or just download the track. The lossless tier starts at CD quality, which is 16 bit at 44.1 kHz, and goes up to 24 bit at 48 kHz and is playable natively on Apple devices. If you use external audio equipment, you can crank the quality up to 24 bit at 192 kHz. Further reading: AirPods Max, priced at $549, don't support Apple Music's lossless songs, Apple says.

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Categories: Geek

Microsoft Teams Launches For Friends and Family With Free All-Day Video Calling

5 hours 57 min ago
Microsoft is launching the personal version of Microsoft Teams today. After previewing the service nearly a year ago, Microsoft Teams is now available for free personal use amongst friends and families. From a report: The service itself is almost identical to the Microsoft Teams that businesses use, and it will allow people to chat, video call, and share calendars, locations, and files easily. Microsoft is also continuing to offer everyone free 24-hour video calls that it introduced in the preview version in November. You'll be able to meet up with up to 300 people in video calls that can last for 24 hours. Microsoft will eventually enforce limits of 60 minutes for group calls of up to 100 people after the pandemic, but keep 24 hours for 1:1 calls. While the preview initially launched on iOS and Android, Microsoft Teams for personal use now works across the web, mobile, and desktop apps. Microsoft is also allowing Teams personal users to enable its Together mode -- a feature that uses AI to segment your face and shoulders and place you together with other people in a virtual space. Skype got this same feature back in December.

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Categories: Geek

Microsoft's LinkedIn Accused by Noted China Critic of Censorship

6 hours 59 min ago
A prominent critic of China based in the U.K. said Microsoft's LinkedIn froze his account and removed content criticizing the country's government, the latest in a series of allegations that the networking website had censored users -- even outside of the Asian nation -- to appease authorities in Beijing. From a report: Peter Humphrey, a British corporate investigator and former journalist who accesses LinkedIn from his home in Surrey, England, said he received notification from LinkedIn last month that comments he had published on the platform had been removed. The comments, seen by Bloomberg News, called the Chinese government a "repressive dictatorship" and criticized the country's state media organizations as "propaganda mouthpieces." In late April, Humphrey said LinkedIn sent him several notifications that critical comments he posted about China's government and state-controlled broadcaster China Global Television Network, or CGTN, had been removed, on the grounds that the comments constituted "bullying and harassment" or "spam and scams." On April 26, Humphrey said he couldn't access his LinkedIn profile. When Humphrey tried to log in, he said he was met with a message stating his profile had been "restricted" due to "behavior that appears to violate our Terms of Service." After Bloomberg News contacted LinkedIn for comment last week, the company reinstated Humphrey's account and restored some of his comments. Others were not. "Our team has reviewed the action, based on our appeals process, and found it was an error," said Leonna Spilman, a spokeswoman for LinkedIn. Spilman declined to comment further regarding Humphrey's account.

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Categories: Geek

AT&T Merges Media Assets With Discovery in Blockbuster Deal

7 hours 57 min ago
AT&T has agreed to spin off its media operations in a deal with Discovery that will create a new entertainment company, merging assets ranging from CNN and HBO to HGTV and the Food Network. From a report: AT&T will receive $43 billion in cash, debt securities and debt retention, with AT&T shareholders getting stock representing 71% of the new company, the companies said in a statement Monday. The deal is structured as a tax-advantaged Reverse Morris Trust. Discovery Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav is to lead the new entity. WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar's future is to be determined, AT&T CEO John Stankey said on a conference call discussing the deal. The plan, first reported by Bloomberg News, would combine Discovery's reality-TV empire with AT&T's vast media holdings, creating a formidable competitor to Netflix and Walt Disney. It marks a retreat for AT&T's entertainment-industry ambitions after years of working to assemble telecom and media assets under one roof. AT&T, now the world's most heavily indebted nonfinancial company, gained some of the biggest brands in entertainment through its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, completed in 2018. Further reading: Jason Kilar, the WarnerMedia chief, is said to be negotiating his exit.

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Categories: Geek

Alexa/Echo Owners Become Part of Amazon's Massive 'Sidewalk' Mesh Network By Default

10 hours 25 min ago
A tech columnist for Inc. noticed that on June 8th Amazon will finally power up its massive "Sidewalk" mesh network (which uses Bluetooth and 900MHz radio signals to communicate between devices). And millions and millions of Amazon customers are all already "opted in" by default: The idea behind it is actually really smart — make it possible for smart home devices to serve as a sort of bridge between your WiFi connection and one another. That way, if your Ring doorbell, for example, isn't located close to your WiFi router, but it happens to be near an Echo Dot, it can use Sidewalk to stay connected. The same is true if your internet connection is down. Your smart devices can connect to other smart devices, even if they aren't in your home. The big news on this front is that Tile is joining the Sidewalk network on June 14. That means that if you lose a Tile tracker, it can connect to any of the millions of Echo or Ring devices in your neighborhood and send its location back to you. That's definitely a nice benefit, but it's also where things get a little murky from a privacy standpoint. That's because other people's devices, like your neighbor's, can also connect to your network. Amazon is pretty clear that Sidewalk uses three layers of encryption so that no data is shared between say, someone's Tile tracker and your network. The signal from the Tile is encrypted all the way back to the Tile app on your iPhone or Android smartphone... [But] whether or not you want your device connecting to other devices, or want your neighbors connecting to your WiFi, Amazon went ahead and made Sidewalk opt-out. Opt out (for all your devices) using Alexa app's More tab (at the bottom): Settings > Account Settings > Amazon Sidewalk > Enabled.

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Categories: Geek

Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do

14 hours 15 min ago
"How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person's life?" asks the BBC. "A new app is offering you the chance to do just that." When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn't decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old's dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought... NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its "beta" or pre-full release stage, describes itself as "a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome". For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls "creators" — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection... Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew's undisclosed commission... In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these "bids", and if they do so then the follower doesn't have to part with the money... Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Categories: Geek

Microsoft Funds a Team with Guido van Rossum to Double the Speed of Python

17 hours 45 min ago
ZDNet reports: Guido van Rossum, who created popular programming language Python 30 years ago, has outlined his ambitions to make it twice as fast — addressing a key weakness of Python compared to faster languages like C++. Speed in Core Python (CPython) is one of the reasons why other implementations have emerged, such as Pyston.... In a contribution to the U.S. PyCon Language Summit this week, van Rossum posted a document on Microsoft-owned GitHub, first spotted by The Register, detailing some of his ambitions to make Python a faster language, promising to double its speed in Python 3.11 — one of three Python branches that will emerge next year in a pre-alpha release... van Rossum was "given freedom to pick a project" at Microsoft and adds that he "chose to go back to my roots". "This is Microsoft's way of giving back to Python," writes van Rossum... According to van Rossum, Microsoft has funded a small Python team to "take charge of performance improvements" in the interpreted language... He says that the main beneficiaries of upcoming changes to Python will be those running "CPU-intensive pure Python code" and users of websites with built-in Python. The Register notes that the faster CPython project "has a GitHub repository which includes a fork of CPython as well as an issue tracker for ideas and tools for analysing performance." "According to Van Rossum, there will be 'no long-lived forks/branches, no surprise 6,000 line pull requests,' and everything will be open source."

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Categories: Geek

US Lawmakers Could Restrict the Use of Non-Compete Agreements

Sun, 05/16/2021 - 21:45
Politico's technology site Protocol reports that some U.S. lawmakers are getting angry about an unpopular but widespread corporate policy -- the non-compete agreement: Non-compete agreements prohibit employees who leave their jobs from taking similar positions with potential competitors for a certain period of time. In the U.S., somewhere between 27.8% and 46.5% of private-sector workers are subject to non-compete agreements, according to a 2019 Economic Policy Institute study. Such agreements are unenforceable in California and limited in nearby Washington, but they can still have adverse effects on employees nationwide. That's why a current piece of legislation, the Workforce Mobility Act, seeks at the federal level to restrict the use of non-compete agreements in most situations. Sens. Chris Murphy and Todd Young introduced the bill, which would only allow non-competes in certain "necessary" situations... Non-compete legislation also has the support of President Joe Biden, who said during his campaign he would support such a bill. John Lettieri, president and CEO of the Economic Innovation Group, is a proponent of the Workforce Mobility Act and suggested the bill should enjoy broad support. "We believe we're in a position where it's possible for this to become law," Lettieri told Protocol. "Whether you're a free market conservative or whether you're a pro-worker progressive, you can come from either of those ends of the spectrum and end up in the same place. And this is a special issue for that reason... Competition is generally good and for workers, competition among businesses for your labor is the most fundamental bargaining power you've got," he said. But if companies hinder that with non-compete agreements, they create "a downstream series of consequences that really are bad for the worker, they're bad for the broader labor market and it's increasingly clear they're bad for the broader economy as well...." Companies such as Amazon and Microsoft — both headquartered in Seattle, Washington — and New York-headquartered IBM have all sued employees for breaking the terms of their non-compete agreements.

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Categories: Geek

Aluminum-Ion Battery Claimed to Charge 60 Times Faster, Hold 3X the Energy

Sun, 05/16/2021 - 19:45
Graphene aluminum-ion battery cells from Brisbane-based Graphene Manufacturing Group "are claimed to charge up to 60 times faster than the best lithium-ion cells and hold three time the energy of the best aluminum-based cells," writes a transportation correspondent for Forbes: They are also safer, with no upper Ampere limit to cause spontaneous overheating, more sustainable and easier to recycle, thanks to their stable base materials. Testing also shows the coin-cell validation batteries also last three times longer than lithium-ion versions. GMG plans to bring graphene aluminum-ion coin cells to market late this year or early next year, with automotive pouch cells planned to roll out in early 2024. Based on breakthrough technology from the University of Queensland's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the battery cells use nanotechnology to insert aluminum atoms inside tiny perforations in graphene planes... GMG Managing Director Craig Nicol insisted that while his company's cells were not the only graphene aluminum-ion cells under development, they were easily the strongest, most reliable and fastest charging. "It charges so fast it's basically a super capacitor," Nicol claimed. "It charges a coin cell in less than 10 seconds." The new battery cells are claimed to deliver far more power density than current lithium-ion batteries, without the cooling, heating or rare-earth problems they face.... Aluminum-ion technology has intrinsic advantages and disadvantages over the preeminent lithium-ion battery technology being used in almost every EV today. When a cell recharges, aluminum ions return to the negative electrode and can exchange three electrons per ion instead of lithium's speed limit of just one. There is also a massive geopolitical, cost, environmental and recycling advantage from using aluminum-ion cells, because they use hardly any exotic materials. "It's basically aluminum foil, aluminum chloride (the precursor to aluminum and it can be recycled), ionic liquid and urea," Nicol said.

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Categories: Geek

The Bizarre Story of the Man Who Invented Ransomware in 1989

Sun, 05/16/2021 - 18:34
Slashdot reader quonset writes: To this day no one is sure why he did it, but in 1989 a Harvard-taught evolutionary biologist named Joseph Popp mailed out 20,000 floppy discs with malware on them to people around the world. At the time he was doing research into AIDS and the discs had been sent to attendees of the World Health Organization's AIDS conference in Stockholm. Eddy Willems was working for an insurance company in Belgium and his boss asked him to see what was on the disc... CNN picks up the story: Willems was expecting to see medical research when the disc's contents loaded. Instead he became a victim of the first act of ransomware — more than 30 years before the ransomware attack on the US Colonial Pipeline... A few days after inserting the disc, Willems' computer locked and a message appeared demanding that he send $189 in an envelope to a PO Box in Panama. "I didn't pay the ransom or lose any data because I figured out how to reverse the situation," he told CNN Business. He was one of the lucky ones: Some people lost their life's work. "I started to get calls from medical institutions and organizations asking how I got around it," said Willems, who is now a cybersecurity expert at G Data, which developed the world's first commercial antivirus solution in 1987. "The incident created a lot of damage back in those days. People lost a lot of work. It was not a marginal thing — it was a big thing, even then...." It's unclear if any people or organizations paid the ransom. CSO reports that Popp was eventually arrested and charged with multiple counts of blackmail after law enforcement identified him as the owner of the P.O. box where the ransom checks were to be sent. CNN adds that "One of the biggest problems about ransomware nowadays is that ransoms are often paid with cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin, which is exchanged anonymously and not traceable."

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Categories: Geek

California City Apologizes for Wrongly Accusing Bloggers of Criminal Hacking

Sun, 05/16/2021 - 17:36
To settle a lawsuit, the city of Fullerton California "has agreed to pay $350,000 and take back its accusations of criminal computer hacking" against two local bloggers, reports the Orange County Register. The settlement ends what the newspaper calls "a contentious fight over censorship and freedom of speech." The lawsuit accused Joshua Ferguson and David Curlee of stealing computerized personnel files from a Dropbox account to which the city had mistakenly given them access. Some of the files were later published online... Attorney Kelly Aviles, representing the bloggers, said she was pleased with the settlement, but the litigation could have been avoided. "The city shouldn't have tried to blame their mistakes on journalists trying to cover the city," Aviles said. "It was unbelievably wrong ... those kind of people should never be in public office..." Under the terms of the deal, Aviles will be paid $230,000, while Ferguson and Curlee will receive $60,000 each. Additionally, the city must publish a public apology on the home page of its website, Aviles said. While no formal charges were brought against the bloggers, the city's accusations of criminal conduct cost them friends and family members. She said Ferguson was fired from his job. "It was really traumatic for them," Aviles said. In turn, the bloggers must return the remaining confidential records — which they don't plan on publishing anyway, Aviles said.

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Categories: Geek

US Considers Law Requiring Companies to Report All Cyberattacks

Sun, 05/16/2021 - 16:34
The Colonial Pipeline cyberattack has spurred new efforts in the U.S. Congress "to require critical companies to tell the government when they've been hacked." Politico reports: Even leading Republicans are expressing support for regulations after this week's chaos — a sharp change from past high-profile efforts that failed due to GOP opposition. The swift reaction from lawmakers reflects the disruptive impact of the ransomware attack on Colonial... The vast majority of private companies don't have to report cyberattacks to any government entity — not even those, like Colonial, whose disruptions can wreak havoc on U.S. economic and national security. And often, they choose to keep quiet. That information gap leaves the rest of the country in the dark about how frequently such attacks occur and how they're perpetrated. It also leaves federal authorities without crucial information that could help protect other companies from similar attacks. Without reporting from companies, "the United States government is completely blind to what is happening," Brandon Wales, the acting director of DHS' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told reporters on Thursday. "That just weakens our overall cyber posture across our entire country." Wales said the solution was for Congress to require companies to report cyber incidents. Lawmakers of both parties told POLITICO they are crafting legislation to mandate cyberattack reporting by critical infrastructure operators such as Colonial, along with major IT service providers and any other companies that do business with the government. The planned legislation predates the pipeline attack — lawmakers began drafting it soon after learning about last year's massive SolarWinds espionage campaign, in which suspected Russian hackers infiltrated nine federal agencies and roughly 100 companies. But the Colonial strike has added urgency to the effort. The group expects to introduce the legislation within weeks, a Senate aide said. "You couldn't have a better reason" for such a mandate than seeing the economic impact of Colonial and SolarWinds, said Senate Intelligence Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.), one of the leaders of the legislation along with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Warner said the intent is to provide a "public-private forum where, with appropriate immunity and confidentiality, you can — mid-incident — report, so we can make sure that it doesn't spread worse..." In the case of Colonial, CISA's Wales said the company did not provide the administration with technical information about the breach until Wednesday night — five days after it was reported — and even then the data was not comprehensive... Companies typically choose not to voluntarily share data with the government for legal and reputational reasons. They fear that the notoriously leak-prone government won't protect their information, leading to embarrassing and potentially actionable revelations. Politico adds that "The incident reporting situation has become untenable, many cybersecurity experts say," "Nation-state hackers are using vulnerable companies as springboards into their customers and partners, and criminal groups are attacking hospitals, schools and energy companies in ways that, if reported, could be tracked and prevented elsewhere."

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Categories: Geek

Extraterrestrial Plutonium Atoms Turn Up on Ocean Bottom

Thu, 05/13/2021 - 16:04
Scientists studying a sample of oceanic crust retrieved from the Pacific seabed nearly a mile down have discovered traces of a rare isotope of plutonium, the deadly element that has been central to the atomic age. From a report: They say it was made in colliding stars and later rained down through Earth's atmosphere as cosmic dust millions of years ago. Their analysis opens a new window on the cosmos. "It's amazing that a few atoms on Earth can help us learn about where half of all the heavier elements in our universe are synthesized," said Anton Wallner, the paper's first author and a nuclear physicist. Dr. Wallner works at the Australian National University as well as the Helmholtz Center in Dresden, Germany. Dr. Wallner and his colleagues reported their findings in Science on Thursday. Plutonium has a bad reputation, one that is well-deserved. The radioactive element fueled the world's first nuclear test explosion as well as the bomb that leveled the Japanese city of Nagasaki during World War II. After the war, scientists found the health repercussions of plutonium to be particularly deadly. If inhaled or ingested in minute quantities, it could result in fatal cancers. Small amounts also pack a bigger punch than other nuclear fuels, a quality that aided the making of compact city busters that nuclear powers put atop their intercontinental missiles. The element is often considered artificial because it is so seldom found outside of human creations. In the periodic table, it is the last of 94 atoms characterized as naturally occurring. Traces of it can be found in uranium ores. Astrophysicists have long known that it's also spontaneously created in the universe. But they've had a hard time pinpointing any exact sites of its origin.

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Categories: Geek

Spencer Silver, an Inventor of Post-it Notes, Is Dead at 80

Thu, 05/13/2021 - 15:26
Spencer Silver, a research chemist at 3M who inadvertently created the not-too-sticky adhesive that allows Post-it Notes to be removed from surfaces as easily as they adhere to them, died on Saturday at his home in St. Paul, Minn. He was 80. From a report: His wife, Linda, said that he died after an episode of ventricular tachycardia, in which the heart beats faster than normal. Mr. Silver had a heart transplant 27 years ago. Since their introduction in 1980, Post-it Notes have become a ubiquitous office product, first in the form of little canary-yellow pads -- billions of which are sold annually -- and later also in different hues and sizes, some with much stickier adhesives. There are currently more than 3,000 Post-it Brand products globally. Dr. Silver worked in 3M's central research laboratory developing adhesives. In 1968, he was trying to create one that was so strong it could be used in aircraft construction. He failed in that goal. But during his experimentation, he invented something entirely different: an adhesive that stuck to surfaces, but that could be easily peeled off and was reusable. It was a solution to a problem that did not appear to exist, but Dr. Silver was certain it was a breakthrough. "I felt my adhesive was so obviously unique that I began to give seminars throughout 3M in the hope I would spark an idea among its product developers," he told Financial Times in 2010. Dr. Silver promoted his adhesive for several years within 3M, a company known for its innovative workplace, so assiduously that he became known as "Mr. Persistent."

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Categories: Geek

CDC Says Fully Vaccinated People Don't Need To Wear Face Masks Indoors or Outdoors in Most Settings

Thu, 05/13/2021 - 14:46
Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a face mask or stay 6 feet away from others in most settings, whether outdoors or indoors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated public health guidance released Thursday. From a report: There are a handful of instances where people will still need to wear masks -- in a health-care setting, at a business that requires them -- even if they've had their final vaccine dose two or more weeks ago, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters at a press briefing. Fully vaccinated people will still need to wear masks on airplanes, buses, trains and other public transportation, she said. "Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing," Walensky said. "If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment, when we can get back to some sense of normalcy." Walensky said unvaccinated people should still continue to wear masks, adding they remain at risk of mild or severe illness, death and risk spreading the disease to others. People with compromised immune systems should speak with their doctor before giving up their masks, she said. She added there is always a chance the CDC could change its guidance again if the pandemic worsens or additional variants emerge.

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Categories: Geek

A Podcast App is Exposing Subscribers-only Shows

Thu, 05/13/2021 - 14:10
The beauty and misery of private RSS feeds. An anonymous reader shares a report: There's only supposed to be one way to hear exclusive podcast content from sports host Scott Wetzel: by paying $5 a month to subscribe to his Patreon. But the show's also been available on a smaller podcasting app for free. In fact, leaked podcast feeds from dozens of subscription-only shows, including Wetzel's and The Last Podcast On The Left, are available to stream through Castbox, a smaller app for both iOS and Android, just by searching for them. Two people in the podcast space tell me they've reached out to Castbox multiple times, only for the company to remove a show and then have it pop up again, an infuriating cycle for someone trying to charge for their content. "It's a little bit like playing whack-a-mole with them," says one source, who asked to remain anonymous because of their ongoing work in the space. Podcast subscriptions have existed for years, but they've gained wider attention this past month. Apple, which makes the dominant podcasting app, introduced in-app subscriptions with a button that lets people directly subscribe to a show from the app. Spotify announced its own subscription product, too, but with caveats -- the main one being there's no actual in-app button.

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Categories: Geek

System76 Unveils Open Source 'Launch Configurable Keyboard' for Linux, Windows, and macOS

Thu, 05/13/2021 - 13:27
System76 today unveiled its newest product -- the "Launch Configurable Keyboard." It is a mechanical keyboard made in the USA with a focus on open source. The Launch has both open source firmware and hardware. Even the configuration software -- which runs on Linux, Windows, and macOS -- is open source. From a report: "With a wide swath of customization options, the Launch is flexible to a variety of needs and use cases. The keyboard's thoughtful design keeps everything within reach, vastly reducing awkward hand contortions. Launch comes with additional keycaps and a convenient keycap puller, meaning one can swap keys based on personal workflow preferences to maximize efficiency. Launch also features a novel split Space Bar, which allows the user to swap out one Space Bar keycap for Shift, Backspace, or Function to reduce hand fatigue while typing. Launch uses only three keycap sizes to vastly expand configuration options," says System76. The keyboard, which has a removable USB-C cable for connectivity, is priced at $285.

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