#1  From Science Fiction to Reality: UVC will be at the Front of Mars Colonization - Covspect

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@tech      By SmoothCheese      8 hours ago

Humanity's quest to eventually colonize Mars faces numerous challenges, chief among them being the unforgiving conditions of the Martian environment. From extreme temperatures to low atmospheric pressure and intense radiation, survival on the red planet demands intensely innovative solutions. The Martian frontier's most well-known advocate, Elon Musk said it best, "If we do not become interplanetary and go beyond our solar system, annihilation of all life on Earth is a certainty", Musk said. "It could be as little as half a billion years; that's only 10% longer than Earth has been around at all”. [11]

In this post, we explore how ultraviolet light (UV-C) radiation, known for its sterilization properties, could play a pivotal role in overcoming some of the hurdles to colonizing Mars. Mars beckons us with its rusty rouge landscape, and the possibility of harboring life, both past and present. But for humans to eventually call the Red Planet home, we face a formidable force: the harsh environment. One tool in humanity’s Mars colonization arsenal is ultraviolet C (UVC) radiation, a powerful tool for sterilization and sanitation.

Enter UVC: The Shining Space Savior

UVC radiation, with wavelengths between 200 and 280 nanometers, falls within the germicidal spectrum. It effectively disrupts the DNA and RNA of microorganisms, preventing them from reproducing and essentially rendering them unable to reproduce and form colonies. This makes UVC ideal for sterilization and decontamination in various settings, including hospitals, manufacturing, laboratories, schools, vertical farming, and food processing facilities.

On Mars, UVC can be deployed in numerous ways to safeguard human health and protect the Martian environment:

Habitat Sterilization: Before Mar’s colonists arrive, UVC can be used to thoroughly sterilize habitats and equipment, eliminating any hitchhiking microbes from Earth. This ensures a clean slate for human occupancy and minimizes the risk of introducing contaminants.

Water Purification: UVC can be integrated into water treatment systems to eliminate bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, ensuring safe and clean drinking water for Mars’s future inhabitants.

Waste Management: Human waste treatment is crucial for any sustainable colony. UVC can be used to disinfect waste before processing or disposal, preventing the spread of pathogens and protecting both human health and the Martian environment.

Vertical Farming/Controlled Environmental Agriculture: Growing food on Mars is essential for long-term self-sufficiency. UVC can be used to sterilize the air and surfaces found in vertical farms, preventing the growth of harmful molds and bacteria on crops, and ensuring a safe and healthy food supply. It can also be used to treat common plant diseases like Powdery Mildew and Botrytis. Not only can crops be grown in inhospitable environments, but it also provides shelf-sufficiency and diversification of supplies. For the colonists in space, controlled environmental agriculture (CEA) also will provide a taste of home and a change from the algae-dominated diet they probably have to eat to survive. [14]

Medical Applications: Just like on Earth, UVC can be used in medical facilities on Mars for sterilizing air, and medical instruments, and even treating infections and wounds with 222nm far UV-C, providing essential healthcare for Mars’s inhabitants.

Surface Disinfection: To disinfect surfaces and equipment, potentially reducing the risk of infections. [15]

Air Disinfection: Studies have shown that UVGI can be effective in controlling various harmful microorganisms indoors, including harmful bacteria and viruses. [16]

Seed Treatments: The reaction with UVC initiates a Harber-Weiss-like reaction to propagate antimicrobial hydroxyl-radicals. The process supports pathogen reduction and enhances seed germination rates and sprout yield. [14]

Deactivating Microbes in HVAC Systems

Imagine a fully closed indoor life like a Martian habitat. Recycled air circulates through the HVAC, carrying not just oxygen and warmth, but also potential microbial threats:

Menacing earth-borne microbes: Microbes from Earth could contaminate Mars’ environment, jeopardizing scientific research and potentially introducing harmful pathogens.

Martian microbes (if present): Though the Martian landscape may seem sterile, the possibility of indigenous life, even microscopic, exists. UVC can help prevent the spread of any unknown Martian microbes within the habitat.

Dust and allergens: Dust, rich in minerals and potentially allergens, can pose respiratory problems for colonists. UVC can help break down allergens and reduce dust particles in the air.

How UVC will Help:

UVC, with its germicidal properties, shines a light of hope for those looking to inhabit Mars. When integrated into HVAC systems, it can:

Continuously disinfect circulating air: As air passes through dedicated UVC chambers, its DNA and RNA are disrupted, rendering microbes harmless. This continuous disinfection ensures a cleaner, safer environment for future Mars colonists.

Target high-risk areas: UVC units can be strategically placed near high-risk areas like waste disposal or medical facilities for targeted disinfection, preventing the spread of pathogens.

Supplement traditional filters: While traditional HEPA filters capture dust and particles, UVC can tackle the microscopic threats they miss, providing an extra layer of protection.

Beyond Disinfection: UVC's Alternative Potential Benefits

The benefits of UVC extend beyond just disinfection:

Reduced reliance on toxic chemical cleaners: UVC offers an eco-friendly non-chemical alternative to toxic disinfectants that are harmful to human health, reducing the need for hazardous materials and simplifying waste management on Mars.

Improved air quality: By breaking down allergens and dust particles, UVC can contribute to cleaner, healthier air for colonists, reducing respiratory issues and allergies.

Modular and adaptable: UVC technology can be adapted to different scales and needs, making it suitable for various habitats and applications on Mars.

Challenges and Considerations: Navigating the Martian Landscape

Despite its promise, UVC deployment on Mars comes with challenges:

Power consumption: Operating UVC lamps requires a reliable energy source, which might be scarce on Mars. Integrating renewable energy solutions will be crucial.

Dosage control: Overexposure to UVC can be harmful to human health and damage materials. Precise control and monitoring of UVC dosage are essential to ensure safety and effectiveness. 222nm far UV-C should be considered for in-room applications where human exposure is inevitable and no more than 8 hours of direct exposure to 222nm is advised.

Maintenance and repair: UVC lamps have a typical life span of 1 - 3.5 years and require regular maintenance. Developing robust and efficient repair protocols for the Martian environment will be necessary.

The aspirational dream of colonizing the Red Planet has ignited a global Mars space race, with several countries and organizations vying for supremacy in the cosmic quest for Mars’ future colonization. We know it’s just a matter of when, not if, so, who exactly is looking to pave the way for life on Mars? Let's look closer at the leading nations in this sci-fi-esque race seeking to establish a human presence on Mars.

1. United States (NASA and SpaceX)

At the forefront of the Mars colonization effort is the United States, represented by both NASA and SpaceX. NASA, with its unparalleled expertise in space exploration, has been laying the groundwork for Martian missions for decades. Meanwhile, SpaceX has been making waves with its ambitious plans to colonize Mars through its Starship program [3].

2. China

China has emerged as a formidable contender in the Mars colonization race, with its China National Space Administration (CNSA) spearheading ambitious Martian exploration missions. With successful endeavors such as the Tianwen-1 mission, which includes an orbiter, lander, and rover, China is positioning itself as a key player in the quest for Martian colonization [5].

3. United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The United Arab Emirates has made significant strides in Mars exploration with its Emirates Mars Mission, also known as the Hope Probe. This groundbreaking mission aims to study the Martian atmosphere and climate, laying the groundwork for future colonization efforts. The UAE's foray into Martian exploration marks a significant milestone for the region and showcases its commitment to space exploration [6].

4. Russia

Russia remains a prominent player in the Mars colonization race. With a rich history in space exploration, Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, continues to pursue Martian exploration missions and collaborations with international partners. While facing setbacks due to Vladimir Putin’s illegal and ongoing war with Ukraine, Russia's expertise and experience in space travel position it as a key contributor to future Martian endeavors [5].

5. European Union (ESA)

The European Space Agency (ESA), representing a coalition of European nations, is actively engaged in Martian exploration and colonization efforts. Through collaborative missions such as the ExoMars program, which aims to search for signs of past life on Mars, the ESA is playing a crucial role in advancing our understanding of the Red Planet and paving the way for future colonization endeavors [4].

While Mars might seem desolate, it's not entirely devoid of microbial life. The question of whether this life is native or hitchhiked from Earth remains unanswered. However, the presence of any life, even microscopic, poses a significant challenge for future colonists. Introducing Earth microbes could contaminate the Martian ecosystem, jeopardizing potential native life and muddying scientific research. Additionally, Earth-borne pathogens could pose a health risk to colonists.

UVC is Already in Space

NASA has been planning for space agriculture since its early days. Growing plants in zero gravity necessitated the invention of an ethylene scrubber that spawned several lines of air purifiers, but the agency hopes to one day grow food to feed astronauts on other planetary bodies. “Because we spend so much time indoors, and many of these contaminants pass through conventional HVAC filters, you want to be able to address those issues,” said Aaron Engel, Vice President of Fresh-Aire UV. “Filters address one-third of contaminants in the air – dust and dander. The other two-thirds, such as microbes and VOCs, pass through a filter like sand through a tennis racket. Our systems address those two-thirds.”Fresh-Aire UV, a leader in air treatment systems, has significantly contributed to space technology. Adopting Photo-Catalytic Oxidation (PCO) a decade ago, Fresh-Aire UV addressed rising levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in modern indoor spaces, including spacecraft via NASA. Their commitment to enhancing indoor air quality aligns with NASA's stringent standards for astronaut well-being [12].

AquiSense Technologies, specializing in mercury-free UV LED water treatment technology, has actively participated in multiple aerospace projects with NASA, showcasing its expertise in ensuring water safety for astronauts. AquiSense Technologies’ patent-protected UV-C LED Decontamination Module plays a crucial role in inactivating bacteria and maintaining water quality during space missions. Jennifer Pagan PhD, CTO of AquiSense Technologies, said: “It is literally an engineer’s dream to be able to apply their work to something as technically advanced as the space station. I am thrilled that our water disinfection technology will be used to help keep the astronauts safe.” [13].

Fresh-Aire UV of Jupiter, Florida, developed a line of air purifiers that break down organic contaminants with a process called photocatalytic oxidation (PCO). The company gets its nanoparticulate titania suspension, one of the key ingredients for PCO, from a company that developed it under the researcher who invented PCO with NASA funding in the 1990s. Photo credit: NASA. [12]

The Final Frontier Awaits

UVC, with its germicidal impact, promises to be a vital tool for safeguarding the health of future Mars colonists. From sterilizing indoor habitats to treating the water that will be consumed by settlers, UV-C stands as a beacon of hope in the vast expanse of the Martian frontier. As we gaze towards the crimson horizon, let us not forget the transformative power of UVC radiation. With its sterilizing touch and protective powers, UV-C paves the way for a brighter, safer future on the red planet. By understanding its limitations and implementing it responsibly, we can harness its power to create clean, healthy, and sustainable indoor living environments on Mars. As humanity embarks on this extraordinary journey, UVC will be a silent but critical technology, ensuring that the air we breathe on Mars is clean and fresh. The race to colonize Mars is a testament to humanity's insatiable thirst for exploration, survival, and discovery. With nations and organizations around the world banding together to unlock the secrets of the Red Planet, the dream of establishing a human presence on Mars is closer than ever before. UVC radiation presents a multifaceted approach to addressing various challenges a*sociated with indoor life on Mars. From sterilization and microbial control to resource purification, surface, water, and air treatment, and even scientific research, harnessing the power of UVC can significantly contribute to the sustainability and success of future Mars endeavors. So, let us embrace this cosmic ally and journey forth toward a new era of safe, UVC-enabled Mars colonization.

 https://covspect.com/blog .. s-colonization

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#2 White House urges developers to dump C and C++

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  @tech      By 00010111      1 day ago

The White House Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD), in a report released Monday, called on developers to reduce the risk of cyberattacks by using programming languages that don’t have memory safety vulnerabilities. Technology companies “can prevent entire classes of vulnerabilities from entering the digital ecosystem” by adopting memory-safe programming languages, the White House said in a news release.

Memory-safe programming languages are protected from software bugs and vulnerabilities related to memory access, including buffer overflows, out-of-bounds reads, and memory leaks. Recent studies from Microsoft and Google have found that about 70 percent of all security vulnerabilities are caused by memory safety issues.

“We, as a nation, have the ability—and the responsibility—to reduce the attack surface in cyberspace and prevent entire classes of security bugs from entering the digital ecosystem but that means we need to tackle the hard problem of moving to memory safe programming languages,” National Cyber Director Harry Coker said in the White House news release.

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency also urged developers to use memory-safe programming languages in a September blog post. CISA, the FBI, the US National Security Agency, and agencies from allied countries also published the report, “The Case for Memory Safe Roadmaps,” in December.

The new 19-page report from ONCD gave C and C++ as two examples of programming languages with memory safety vulnerabilities, and it named Rust as an example of a programming language it considers safe. In addition, an NSA cybersecurity information sheet from November 2022 listed C#, Go, Java, Ruby, and Swift, in addition to Rust, as programming languages it considers to be memory-safe.

About 22 percent of all software programmers used C++, and 19 percent used C as of 2023, according to Statista, making them less popular than JavaScript, Python, Java and a few others. But the TIOBE Programming Community index ranks only Python as more popular, followed by C, C++, and Java.

One goal of the new report is to shift the responsibility of cybersecurity away from individuals and small businesses and onto large organizations, technology companies, and the US government, which are “more capable of managing the ever-evolving threat,” the White House news release said.

ONCD worked with the private sector, including technology companies, the academic community, and other organizations to develop the recommendations in the report, it said. ONCD issued a request for public input on the topic in August. It also gathered comments in support of the initiative from several technology companies, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Accenture, and Palantir. Other software security experts also praised the report.

The ONCD report is helpful and timely, said Dan Grossman, a computer science professor at the University of Washington. While “dangers of C and C++ have been well-known for decades,” this is a good time for the White House to push for memory safety because practical and mature alternatives are now available, he said.

At the same time, changes are needed because of “the sophistication of threats from adversaries that exploit memory safety violations,” he said.

Discussions about memory safety involving the government, industry, and academic can lead to meaningful change, he added. “Naturally, many branches of the federal government are key creators and vendors for software and they can use this perspective in deciding their priority for upcoming changes to systems or new systems.”

However, a move away from C and C++ won’t happen overnight, especially in embedded systems, Grossman said. “But the use of other languages for systems software, notably Rust, has already grown significantly, and I think many people anticipate that sort of evolution accelerating rather than C and C++ development simply stopping, which still seems unimaginable in its entirety.”

Moving away from C and C++ will be a “long and difficult process,” added Josh Aas, executive director and co-founder of the Internet Security Research Group. “It takes a sustained effort to change the way people think about things, and communications like this help keep the issue of safety fresh in peoples’ minds.”

For the change to happen, the government and the private sector need to work together to make secure code a priority, Aas said.

“Ultimately, we need to write and deploy new code, but in order to get there, we need resources and we need leaders at all levels, from government to the private sector, to make it a priority,” he added. “Relevant leaders need to be made aware of the problem, and they need to know that they are going to be supported if they make solving this problem a priority.”

 https://www.infoworld.com .. p-c-and-c.html

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#3 Bumble cuts ~350 employees as dating apps face a reckoning

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@tech      By 00010111      1 day ago

Bumble, a once-powerful force in online dating, is facing a reckoning.

The company posted weak Q4 2023 results today showing a $32 million net loss and $273.6 million in revenue. While up from the same period a year ago, earnings came in below Wall Street expectations and were paired with a disappointing Q1 2024 forecast — sending Bumble’s stock tumbling ~10% in after-hours trading.

Bumble’s taking drastic action to stem the bleeding.

CEO Lidiane Jones (pictured above) announced that 30% of Bumble’s workforce, or about 350 employees, would be let go, and that Bumble would embark on an app overhaul targeted at reviving growth. The near-term product roadmap will focus on AI and enhanced safety measures, Jones said, as well as features designed to appeal to younger audiences.

“We believe these actions will strengthen our foundational capabilities and enable us to continue delivering new and engaging user experiences that create healthy and equitable relationships,” Jones said during a call on today’s earnings. “We have a lot of users today that love the paradigm of the online dating — swiping and discovery and searching — but there’s also a set of users that want more flexibility to be able to experience and discover people in a more organic and natural way.”

Bumble is facing challenges on multiple fronts as its main rival, Match Group, which owns Tinder, Hinge and Match among other dating apps, goes after Gen Z users with increasingly aggressive marketing tactics.

Bumble’s payer growth has been slowing since late 2021, and many of the capabilities introduced in Bumble’s apps in the past 18 months haven’t resonated with the user base, Jones said during the call.

Bumble has also had to contend with internal organizational shifts in the wake of founder Whitney Wolfe Herd stepping down as CEO last November and transitioning into the role of executive chair. Jones, who joined from Slack in January, appointed four new C-suite executives at Bumble in the last week alone.

Slower growth isn’t unique to Bumble. Dating apps generally — including Match Group’s — have seen declining revenue from users reluctant to fork over cash for premium add-ons. According to a 2023 Pew Research study, while 41% of users age 30 or older have paid for dating apps, just 22% of users under 30 — the demographic seen as most desirable — have done the same.

Platforms have attempted to combat the decline in various ways. Tinder is pivoting to focus on long-term relationships — a top priority for Gen Z, which polls show are less interested in casual relationships and hookups. Hinge, among others, meanwhile, is embracing the move to IRL meetups, launching a fund and promotions to sponsor singles events.

 https://techcrunch.com/20 .. /?guccounter=1

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#4 Apple cancels Apple Car project after more than a decade

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@tech      By 00010111      2 days ago

Bloomberg reports that Apple has officially canceled its effort to build an electric car. The move was announced internally by Apple COO Jeff Williams and Kevin Lynch, who had been leading the Apple Car project since 2021.

“Apple’s most senior executives finalized the decision in recent weeks,” the report says. The project had reached a “make-or-break point” inside Apple, with Tim Cook also facing pressure from shareholders to make a decision.

According to the story, there are over 2,000 people working on the Apple Car – or Project Titan – team. As part of this decision to shutter the project, some employees will move to Apple’s AI team led by John Giannandrea.

But that offer won’t be extended to everyone working on the Apple Car project. Some employees might be able to “apply for jobs on other Apple teams,” but there “will be layoffs,” Bloomberg says. It’s not explicitly clear how many lay-offs will happen.


Apple made the disclosure internally Tuesday, surprising the nearly 2,000 employees working on the project, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the announcement wasn’t public. The decision was shared by Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams and Kevin Lynch, a vice president in charge of the effort, according to the people.
Apple has been working on an electric car of some sort since 2014. The project has ebbed and flowed quite a bit over the years. Most recently, it was reported that Apple was targeting a 2028 release date for its electric car with a price at around $100,000. The company’s initial goal was to ship a car that was fully autonomous, without steering wheels or pedals. Those ambitions, were dramatically scaled back in recent years.

In terms of leadership, the Apple Car project was led by Doug Field. Tesla originally hired Field away from Apple in 2013 to help lead the production ramp for the Model 3. Field landed back at Apple in 2018 to help lead the Apple Car project, before departing for Ford in September 2021.

Elon Musk responded to today’s news in a post on Twitter with a saluting emoji. Musk promised that his company would ship a vehicle without a steering wheel by 2021, but that obviously (shockingly) did not come to fruition.

 https://9to5mac.com/2024/ .. e-ai-projects/

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#5  Motorola's Bendy Phone

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@tech      By thetfd      3 days ago

Motorola brought its adaptive display concept device to Mobile World Congress and I got to take a look at it. This flexible phone, announced last year at Lenovo Tech World, can fit around your wrist more like a cuff than a bracelet. Does it make any sense?

This thing is really quite crazy. Flexible displays have been around for quite a few years now, but few bend as much as this one does. When laid out flat, the concept has a large 6.9-inch display and the device runs a normal Android operating system. It's a full HD pOLED panel that can form a semicircle when fully bent. The rear of the device, which has a cloth covering, features numerous segments that move much like a mechanical snake would.

You can bend it fairly far into a tight C-shape. The segments are rather clunky when they bend, but the effect is real.

Motorola developed a self-standing mode for the device wherein it acts like its own stand. In this configuration, the display fills a 4.6-inch space and still runs the full Android OS. You can even use the camera to take selfies.

 https://www.pcmag.com/new .. Et4KzbHZoM0%3D

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#6 Raspberry Pi and AI to block noisy neighbor's music by hacking nearby Bluetooth speakers

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@tech      By 00010111      3 days ago

Some Raspberry Pi projects are born out of necessity while others are made for passive-aggressive, neighborly warfare. Maker and developer Roni Bandini grew tired of his neighbors' regular habit of playing loud reggaeton music at the same time every day, and decided to act on the matter by programming a Raspberry Pi-powered response.

At the end of the day (or perhaps at the beginning), Bandini saw two possible outcomes. Either he confronts the neighbors directly about the music or he creates an AI-drive solution that automatically responds when Reggaeton music is detected. Long story short, we've got a cool Raspberry Pi AI project to share with you today. When this Pi detects Reggaeton music, it interferes with nearby Bluetooth speakers so the audio is distorted.

It's worth noting that this project was mostly made in jest as an experiment. The legality of recreating this project varies depending on where you live, so be sure to double-check local ordinances before you try this one out at home. Bandini also explains that you have to be really close to the Bluetooth speaker for it to work, and this won't work with every kind of Bluetooth speaker.

Powering this Bluetooth jamming device is a Raspberry Pi 3 B+. It's connected to a DFRobot OLED display panel, which has a resolution of 128 x 32px. Audio is observed using a USB microphone, while a push button handles when the system will perform a check to listen for any potential reggaeton.

According to Bandini, the Pi is running Raspberry Pi OS. The AI system driving the machine learning aspects of the design is Edge Impulse. With this, Bandini was able to train the Pi to listen for music and more specifically identify whether the song playing is classifiable as reggaeton or not.

If you want to get a closer look at how this Raspberry Pi project works and what it's like in action, check out the official project page over at Hackster. Be sure to follow Bandini, as well for more cool projects as well as any future updates on this one.

 https://www.tomshardware. .. tooth-speakers

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#7 Signal and Threema want nothing to do with WhatsApp

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@tech      By 00010111      6 days ago

As part of the wide-reaching Digital Markets Act, many big tech companies have to change the way they work and process data in the EU. One of the targeted businesses is Meta, with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger deemed to be gatekeepers that may prevent smaller competitors from reaching relevant market share. That’s why Meta has to offer interoperability with other messengers in March 2024, but it looks like two promising competitors aren’t interested at all.

Both Signal and Threema can now theoretically ask Meta to open access for basic messaging interoperability between their messengers and WhatsApp. The two companies made clear that they aren’t interested in this, though, as reported by German IT magazine Heise Online.

In a statement to the publication, Signal president Meredith Whittaker says, “Our privacy standards are extremely high and not only will we not lower them, we want to keep raising them. Currently, working with Facebook Messenger, iMessage, WhatsApp, or even a Matrix service would mean a deterioration of our data protection standards.”

A Threema spokesperson offers a similar sentiment: “The main reason is that our security and privacy standards are not compatible with them. We cannot and will not deviate from these standards — they are what Threema is all about.”

Even though adding interoperability with WhatsApp could potentially allow those who want to use Signal and Threema as their primary messenger to talk to a lot more people, both companies make clear that privacy is more important to them and their users than that.

While WhatsApp chats are end-to-end-encrypted using the same Signal Protocol that both Signal and Threema also use, WhatsApp doesn’t offer as advanced privacy protections around metadata. While metadata doesn’t contain messages’ content, it’s still valuable and potentially sensitive as it shows who communicates with who at what time. Since WhatsApp is closed sourced, the companies say they also wouldn’t know what else could happen to their users’ data once it's in the hands of WhatsApp.

There are also limitations to interoperability that may make it less attractive even for messengers interested in offering WhatsApp access. Apps need to sign a contract with WhatsApp and agree to use the same end-to-end encryption standard the service uses. It’s additionally unclear if WhatsApp will open its service to competitors around the world or if it will limit it to the EU, similar to how Apple plans to offer a special iOS version for the EU that meets the new regulations.

So far, Telegram, which is among the top five most used messaging apps in the world and has a bigger user base than Signal and Threema combined, hasn’t published a statement on its plans for WhatsApp interoperability.

 https://www.androidpolice .. h-whatsapp-eu/

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#8 FTC Fines Avast $16.5 Million For Selling Browsing Data Harvested by Antivirus

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@tech      By 00010111      6 days ago

The Federal Trade Commission will require software provider Avast to pay $16.5 million and prohibit the company from selling or licensing any web browsing data for advertising purposes to settle charges that the company and its subsidiaries sold such information to third parties after promising that its products would protect consumers from online tracking.

In its complaint, the FTC says that Avast Limited, based in the United Kingdom, through its Czech subsidiary, unfairly collected consumers’ browsing information through the company’s browser extensions and antivirus software, stored it indefinitely, and sold it without adequate notice and without consumer consent. The FTC also charges that Avast deceived users by claiming that the software would protect consumers’ privacy by blocking third party tracking, but failed to adequately inform consumers that it would sell their detailed, re-identifiable browsing data. The FTC alleged Avast sold that data to more than 100 third parties through its subsidiary, Jumpshot.

“Avast promised users that its products would protect the privacy of their browsing data but delivered the opposite,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Avast’s bait-and-switch surveillance tactics compromised consumers’ privacy and broke the law.”

Since at least 2014, the FTC says Avast has been collecting consumers’ browsing information through browser extensions, which can modify or extend the functionality of consumers’ web browsers, and through antivirus software installed on consumers’ computers and mobile devices. This browsing data included information about users’ web searches and the webpages they visited—revealing consumers’ religious beliefs, health concerns, political leanings, location, financial status, visits to child-directed content and other sensitive information.

According to the complaint, not only did Avast fail to inform consumers that it collected and sold their browsing data, the company claimed that its products would decrease tracking on the Internet. For example, when users searched for Avast’s browser extensions, they were told Avast would “block annoying tracking cookies that collect data on your browsing activities” and promised that its desktop software would “shield your privacy. Stop anyone and everyone from getting to your computer.”

After Avast bought Jumpshot, a competitor antivirus software provider, the company rebranded the firm as an analytics company. From 2014 to 2020, Jumpshot sold browsing information that Avast had collected from consumers to a variety of clients including advertising, marketing and data analytics companies and data brokers, according to the complaint.

The company claimed it used a special algorithm to remove identifying information before transferring the data to its clients. The FTC, however, says the company failed to sufficiently anonymize consumers’ browsing information that it sold in non-aggregate form through various products. For example, its data feeds included a unique identifier for each web browser it collected information from and could include every website visited, precise timestamps, type of device and browser, and the city, state, and country. When Avast did describe its data sharing practices, Avast falsely claimed it would only transfer consumers’ personal information in aggregate and anonymous form, according to the complaint.

The FTC says the company failed to prohibit some of its data buyers from re-identifying Avast users based on data that Jumpshot provided. And, even where Avast’s contracts included such prohibitions, the contracts were worded in a way that enabled data buyers to a*sociate non-personally identifiable information with Avast users’ browsing information. In fact, some of the Jumpshot products were designed to allow clients to track specific users or even to a*sociate specific users—and their browsing histories—with other information those clients had. For example, as alleged in the complaint, Jumpshot entered into a contract with Omnicom, an advertising conglomerate, which stated that Jumpshot would provide Omnicom with an “All Clicks Feed” for 50% of its customers in the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia, Canada, and Germany. According to the contract, Omnicom was permitted to a*sociate Avast’s data with data brokers’ sources of data, on an individual user basis.

In addition to paying $16.5 million, which is expected to be used to provide redress to consumers, the proposed order, will prohibit Avast and its subsidiaries from misrepresenting how it uses the data it collects. Other provisions of the proposed order include:

Prohibition on Selling Browsing Data: Avast will be prohibited from selling or licensing any browsing data from Avast-branded products to third parties for advertising purposes;

Obtain Affirmative Express Consent: The company must obtain affirmative express consent from consumers before selling or licensing browsing data from non-Avast products to third parties for advertising purposes;

Data and Model Deletion: Avast must delete the web browsing information transferred to Jumpshot and any products or algorithms Jumpshot derived from that data;

Notify Consumers: Avast will be required to inform consumers whose browsing information was sold to third parties without their consent about the FTC’s actions against the company; and

Implement Privacy Program: Avast will be required to implement a comprehensive privacy program that addresses the misconduct highlighted by the FTC.

The Commission voted 3-0 to issue the administrative complaint and to accept the proposed consent agreement. FTC Chair Lina M. Khan joined by Commissioners Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Alvaro Bedoya issued a statement on this matter.

The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register soon. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Instructions for filing comments will appear in the published notice. Once processed, comments will be posted on Regulations.gov.

 https://www.ftc.gov/news- .. 5-million-over

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#9 Noticed this white spot on my 4k Samsung TV. Time to buy a new TV or just live with it?

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@tech      By I_REP_VA      6 days ago

It’s not as bad as others I’ve seen online, but it’s still noticeable and it bothers me. I heard it’s one of the diffuser lenses on the backlight falling out.

I’ve had this TV for over 8 years. Never had any issues and been happy so quite disappointed.

Not sure if it’s worth trying to repair or worth the money to buy a new one?

Would you just live with it?


Said fu*k it and dropped 2 stacks at Costco on a A80CL 65” OLED.

Man this my first OLED. Obviously in my honeymoon phase, but I think it’s safe to say I will never go back. Straight fire.

Glad I got Sony. Worth the extra few hundred bucks just for the sound, smooth interface, and Dolby. Can’t believe I been missing I out all these years. So happy. Hopefully I won’t have to deal with white spots on this one later down the road.

Also, took it off the wall mount and gonna get a TV stand for it soon. My last sh*t in pictures above was way too high. Can’t believe how dumb I was not lowering that earlier.

Gave away the TV with white spot to my brother.

Appreciate all the game fam

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#10  I-S00N China File Drop - ThreatWire

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@tech      By Shhon      1 week ago



Feb 22, 2024


0:00 Intro
0:11 - What is happening with LockBit?
0:48 - Linux Kernel Added as CNA
1:02 - I-S00N China file drop
2:12 - Using Audio to Generate Fingerprint Attacks
4:02 - ChatGPT Accounts Linked to APTs Deleted
5:51 - Outro


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#11  "my iphone 15 be moving slow as f#ck"- kanye

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@tech      By trill jackson      1 week ago

was thinking about getting one, those who got the 15 is this true?

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#12  First Airless Basketball - Airless Gen 1

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@tech      By thetfd      1 week ago


Wilson Airless Gen1 Basketball. It's the world's first 3D-printed basketball that you'll never need to inflate.

The ball made its debut at the 2023 NBA All-Star Game — as a prototype, not the actual ball used on the court. One year later, it's ready to get into the hands of consumers. It goes live on the Wilson website February 16. Act fast, because the ball's first production run is expected to sell out quickly, even with its staggering $2,500 price tag.

 https://www.wilson.com/en .. 20Link&irgwc=1

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#13 Study finds anti-piracy messages backfire, especially for men

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@tech      By 00010111      1 week ago

Threatening messages aimed to prevent digital piracy have the opposite effect if you're a man, a new study from the University of Portsmouth has found. According to the research, women tend to respond positively to this kind of messaging, but men typically increase their piracy behaviors by 18%.

Digital piracy occurs when copyrighted content is accessed from an unlicensed source, such as BitTorrent, stream-rippers or cyberlockers. It poses a significant challenge to creative economies worldwide, costing industries billions annually.

This paper studies how effective anti-piracy messages are as a deterrent, examining the change in TV and film piracy intentions among 962 adults compared with their past behavior.

Lead author, Kate Whitman, from the University of Portsmouth's Centre for Cybercrime and Economic Crime, said, "We know already there are lots of gender differences in piracy as men tend to pirate more than women—they think it's more acceptable and low-risk. But what we wanted to look at in this research is whether the messages to tackle piracy had a different effect on men and women.

"We delved into the interplay between gender, attitudes towards piracy and reactions to anti-piracy messages. And what we found is that when it comes to f*ghting piracy, one size definitely doesn't fit all."

The three messages examined in the study were verbatim copies of three real-world anti-piracy campaigns. Two of the campaigns used threatening messages to try to combat piracy and the third was educational in tone.

Whitman added, "A threatening message might emphasize the legal ramifications, the risk of prosecution or the risk of computer viruses, whereas educational messages tend to try and educate the consumer on the moral and economic damage of piracy."

One of the threatening messages was from crime reduction charity, Crimestoppers, which focused on the individual's risk of computer viruses, identity fraud, money and data theft and hacking.

The other message was based on a campaign by the French government, which used a "three strike" process, whereby infringers were given two written warnings before their internet access was terminated.

The educational message was taken from the campaign "Get It Right from a Genuine Site," which focuses on the cost to the economy and to the individual creative people, and signposts consumers away from piracy sites and towards legal platforms such as Spotify or Netflix.

The study found that one threatening message influences women to reduce their piracy intentions by over 50%, but men increase their piracy behaviors. The educational messages had no effect on either men or women.

"The research shows that anti-piracy messages can inadvertently increase piracy, which is a phenomenon known as psychological reactance," explained Whitman. "From an evolutionary psychology point of view, men have a stronger reaction to their freedom being threatened and therefore they do the opposite."

Moreover, the study found that participants with the most favorable attitudes towards piracy demonstrated the most polarized changes in piracy intentions—the threatening messages increased their piracy even more.

The paper says the findings carry significant practical implications for policymakers, content creators, and anti-piracy advocates. By understanding how gender and attitudes influence reactions to anti-piracy messages, stakeholders can refine their strategies to effectively combat digital piracy while avoiding unintended consequences.

Whitman concluded, "This study shows that men and women process threatening messages differently. There is clearly a need for a tailored approach in anti-piracy messaging, but if messages can't be accurately targeted to specific genders, they're best avoided because they might send piracy soaring."

 https://phys.org/news/202 .. kfire-men.html

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#14 Signal Finally Rolls Out Usernames, So You Can Keep Your Phone Number Private

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@tech      By 00010111      1 week ago

For those who care about digital privacy, few apps are more beloved than Signal. For years, the end-to-end encrypted messenger has offered some of the best privacy protections on the web. Strong encryption, zero subscription fees, and virtually no data collection? What’s not to like?

That said, there’s always been one little flaw with the messenger’s privacy protections: Unless you get pretty creative, Signal forces you to reveal your real phone number when you call or text someone. This means that whoever you’re communicating with has your real contact information—something that can be frustrating if you’re someone who’d prefer to keep that information private.

Now, however, Signal is rectifying this issue with the introduction of usernames. In lieu of sharing your phone number with someone, you’ll be able to share a personalized handle, instead. On Tuesday, the company published a blog in which it announced the change. The post says:

If you don’t want to hand out your phone number to chat with someone on Signal, you can now create a unique username that you can use instead (you will still need a phone number to sign up for Signal). Note that a username is not the profile name that’s displayed in chats, it’s not a permanent handle, and not visible to the people you are chatting with in Signal. A username is simply a way to initiate contact on Signal without sharing your phone number.

The new feature will be instituted by default, meaning that your contacts won’t see your number anymore unless they’ve previously saved it into their contacts. This is pretty great. Signal was already a beloved app in tech circles but this simple change will make its service that much better. Use it now.

 https://gizmodo.com.au/20 .. umber-private/

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#15 Working from home with Apple Vision Pro is game changer 🔥

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@tech      By faizaly      1 week ago


Here’s my Apple Vision Pro “Work from Home” Review!

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#16 2024 Photography Thread

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@tech      By Dat 1 Dude      1 week ago

I haven't seen one of these threads in years so figured I'd bring it back and hope for the best as far as participation. I know the year is just starting so you can include your 2023 pics also..

Let's see them!

Some random at a state fair.

Random lady saw me with my camera and pulled this pose out.

I shot a lot of baseball last season and LOVE shooting catchers

Downtown, Cincinnati

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#17  Walmart to buy TV maker Vizio for $2.3 billion in move to grow its ad business

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@tech      By Tiko377      1 week ago

Walmart has agreed to buy TV maker Vizio, the companies announced Tuesday, as the largest U.S. retailer grows its high-profit ad business.

Walmart will acquire Vizio for $2.3 billion, or $11.50 per share, in cash. The big-box retailer announced the acquisition as it reported its fourth-quarter earnings.

Vizio shares, which spiked after reports of the deal first emerged last week, closed at $9.53 on Friday. They jumped 15% during early trading Tuesday.

Walmart and its Sam’s Club warehouse chain have long been major sellers of Vizio devices. But in buying the company, Walmart touted the potential to boost its ad business through Vizio’s SmartCast Operating System, which allows users to stream free ad-supported content on their TVs.

As it pushes for higher profits, the retail titan has tried to expand its media business Walmart Connect, which comes with bigger profit margins than selling groceries or clothing. The segment’s advertising sales grew 22% in the fourth quarter.

“We believe VIZIO’s customer-centric operating system provides great viewing experiences at attractive price points. We also believe it enables a profitable advertising business that is rapidly scaling,” said Seth Dallaire, executive vice president and chief revenue officer of Walmart U.S., in a statement.

The move comes as Walmart tries to compete with Amazon’s growing ad segment.

Walmart’s control of the Vizio platform will give companies that advertise with the retailer a greater reach. In a news release, Walmart said Vizio’s SmartCast system has 18 million active accounts.

The retailer also said it could offer “innovative television and in-home entertainment and media experiences” after it acquires the TV maker.

 https://www.cnbc.com/2024 .. -business.html

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#18 Cisco to lay off more than 4,000 employees to focus on AI

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@tech      By 00010111      2 weeks ago

Cisco revealed plans to slash its headcount by 5% — roughly 4,250 employees across the tech behemoth’s global workforce — as it steps up its focus on artificial intelligence.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco said the layoffs — which will cost the company some $800 million in pre-tax charges related to severance and benefits — will enable it to focus on high-growth areas such as AI and software development.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins told investors on Wednesday: “Our innovation sits at the center of an increasingly connected ecosystem and will play a critical role as our customers adopt AI and secure their organizations.

The IT and software maker — which has roughly 85,000 workers worldwide — announced the layoffs in an earnings call alongside its quarterly results, where it also cut its annual revenue forecast from as much as $55 billion to between $51.5 billion and $52.5 billion.

“We also continue to see weak demand with our telco and cable service provider customers,” Robbins added during the call.

As part of its AI push, Cisco announced the next phase of its partnership with chip giant Nvidia earlier this month “to offer enterprises simplified cloud-based and on-prem AI infrastructure,” including “both networking hardware and software to support advanced AI workloads,” according to Robbins.

Robbins also said that Nvidia agreed to use Cisco’s ethernet with its own technology, which is widely used in data centers and AI applications.

In the second quarter of its 2024 fiscal year, Cisco recorded an adjusted profit of 87 cents per share and revenue of $12.79 billion, both above LSEG estimates.

Cisco is just the latest tech company to downsize thus far in 2024: Earlier this month, Snap said it will let go of 10% of its workforce.

The round of layoffs likely affected about 540 employees, based on the company’s stated headcount of approximately 5,400 workers as of last September.

And last month, Alphabet was reportedly poised to lay off dozens in its secretive X Lab division — an innovation lab that works on high-tech projects like Wing, which consists of delivery drones; Loom, an internet network of balloons; and Makani, kites that generate wind energy.

With the layoffs, Snap may be trying to emulate the recent success of one of its key rivals, Facebook and Instagram parent Meta.

Meta’s global headcount was 67,317 as of the end of 2023, down 22% from the previous year.

 https://nypost.com/2024/0 .. o-focus-on-ai/

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#19  Best Buy Officially Removes Physical Media From Stores

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@tech      By Rod Calhoun      2 weeks ago

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#20 First iOS trojan — it’s stealing Face ID data to break into bank accounts

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@tech      By 00010111      2 weeks ago

One of the reasons many people pick one of the best iPhones over their Android counterparts is due to security. However, that could be changing as the first ever banking trojan designed to target iPhone users has been spotted in the wild.

According to a new report from Group-IB, the Android trojan GoldDigger has now been modified with new capabilities that make it easier for this malware to drain victims’ bank accounts. First discovered last October, the trojan's new variation has been dubbed GoldPickaxe, with versions specifically designed for both Android and iOS devices.

Once installed on either an iPhone or an Android phone, GoldPickaxe can collect facial recognition data, identity documents and intercepted text messages, all to make it easier to siphon off funds from banking and other financial apps. To make matters worse, this biometric data is then used to create AI deepfakes to impersonate victims and access their bank accounts.

It’s worth noting that at the moment, the GoldPickaxe trojan is only being used to target victims in Vietnam and Thailand. However, as with with other malware campaigns, if this one proves successful, the cybercriminals behind it could expand their operations to target both iPhone and Android users in the U.S., Canada and other English-speaking countries.

Whether you have an iPhone or an Android, here’s what you need to know about this new banking trojan along with some tips to help keep iPhone users safe, as they likely haven’t dealt with a threat like this before.

While Android banking trojans are typically distributed through malicious apps and phishing attacks, getting a trojan onto an iPhone is a bit more difficult due to how Apple’s ecosystem is much more closed off than Google’s. Still, like they often do, hackers have found a way.

During the beginning of this malware campaign, the hackers behind it leveraged Apple’s mobile application testing platform TestFlight to distribute the GoldPixaxe.IOS trojan. It’s extremely difficult to get a malicious app onto Apple’s App Store but by abusing the iPhone maker’s TestFlight program, it is possible. This worked at the start of the campaign but once this malicious app was removed from TestFlight, the hackers behind this campaign had to come up with a more sophisticated means of distributing their iOS trojan.

With TestFlight access revoked, the hackers used social engineering to persuade their victims into installing a Mobile Device Management (MDM) profile. For those unfamiliar, MDM is a methodology and set of tools used by a business’ IT department to manage company phones, computers and other devices. If a victim did fall for this new tactic, the end result was that the hackers now had complete control over their iPhone.

According to Group-IB, a single threat actor with the codename GoldFactory is responsible for developing both versions of the GoldPickaxe banking trojan. However, after publishing their initial research, the firm’s security researchers also discovered a new variant of the malware named GoldDiggerPlus. Unlike with the best streaming services, though, the "plus" here indicates that the malware now offers the ability for hackers to call their victims in real time on an infected device.

Given how profitable a banking trojan like GoldDigger or GoldPickaxe can be — especially when it can target iPhones as well as Android phones — this likely isn’t the last we’ll hear about this malware or the hackers behind it.

So what do you do now given the fact that your iPhone can come down with a nasty malware infection just like an Android phone can? Fortunately, Apple is likely already aware of this trojan and is working on a fix. In the meantime, here are some additional tips to help keep you and your devices protected.

For starters, don’t install any apps through TestFlight. This is easy enough to avoid as you first have to download TestFlight before you can install any non-vetted apps on your iPhone, according to this support document from Apple. Very few people personally know an app developer that may want their help, so if someone asks you to install TestFlight onto your iPhone or iPad, just don’t. The same goes for adding a MDM profile to your iPhone. Your employer is the only one that should be asking you to do this and that’s only if you have a company-issued iPhone.

While there isn’t an equivalent of the best Android antivirus apps for iOS due to Apple’s own restrictions around malware scanning apps, there is a workaround. With Intego Mac Internet Security X9 or Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 — two of the best Mac antivirus software solutions — you can scan an iPhone or iPad for malware but only when it’s connected to a Mac via a USB cable. If you’re really worried about malware on your iPhone, this feature alone could make signing up for either product worth it.

For those who are at more risk than other iPhone users, enabling Lockdown Mode might be a good idea. It’s worth noting that this feature does limit the functionality of some apps. At the same time, you should also consider enabling Apple’s Stolen Device Protection, as this can give you peace of mind when it comes to having your iPhone stolen in person.

iPhone malware is now a reality but if you practice good cyber hygiene and don’t take unnecessary risks, you and your devices should be safe from hackers.

 https://www.tomsguide.com .. -bank-accounts

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