Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Technology

Poland Chooses U.S. To Build Nuclear Power Plant

Great. Now can we build more in America?

Poland has chosen the U.S. government and Westinghouse to build the central European country’s first nuclear power plant, part of an effort to burn less coal and gain greater energy independence.

 

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said late Friday on Twitter that Poland would use the “reliable, safe technology” of the Westinghouse Electric Company for the plant in Pomerania province near the Baltic Sea coast. The exact location remains to be identified.

 

A strong Poland-U.S. alliance “guarantees the success of our joint initiatives,” Morawiecki said.

Musk Carries Sink into Twitter HQ

What a goof. Presumably this is so he will have it to throw out when the deal closes.

With just a few more days left to complete his acquisition of Twitter and stave off a new court date, billionaire Elon Musk walked into the company’s San Francisco office on Wednesday with what appeared to be a porcelain bathroom sink in his hands.

 

“Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted with a video of his entrance.

A person at the company confirmed to CNBC that Elon was visiting today, and noted that there is some internal concern about what will happen to people on foreign-worker visas. This person, who declined to be named discussing internal matters, said that employees are trying to keep working despite all the attention being paid to the deal, and despite reports that Musk could gut the place with massive layoffs. Some employees say they feel like if he buys it, he can “burn it all down if he wants to.”

Yes. Yes he will. He will own the company and can do what he wants with it. I’m not a fan of everything Musk does, but I do like that he is one of the increasingly rare business owners who isn’t afraid to act like one.

Man Prints Guns to Sell at Gun Buyback Program

Smart.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York’s attorney general has changed the rules of a state gun buyback program after a participant exploited the system by using a 3D printer to make firearm parts in bulk that he then turned in for $21,000 in gift cards.

 

The seller, who identified himself by a pseudonym, said he traveled from West Virginia to a gun buyback Aug. 27 in Utica, New York, to take advantage of a loophole in the program — and to demonstrate that buybacks are futile in an era of printable weapons.

 

At the buyback, he turned in 60 printed auto sears, small devices that can convert firearms into fully automatic weapons. Under the rules of the buyback, hosted by Attorney General Letitia James’ office and city police, that entitled him to $350 for each of the printed parts, including a $100 premium, since they were deemed “ghost guns” lacking serial numbers.

Hackers Hit IHG

Given the damage that hackers do, I do think that the criminal penalties should be much, much higher.

Hackers have told the BBC they carried out a destructive cyber-attack against Holiday Inn owner Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) “for fun”.

Describing themselves as a couple from Vietnam, they say they first tried a ransomware attack, then deleted large amounts of data when they were foiled.

 

They accessed the FTSE 100 firm’s databases thanks to an easily found and weak password, Qwerty1234.

An expert says the case highlights the vindictive side of criminal hackers.

 

[…]

“Our attack was originally planned to be a ransomware but the company’s IT team kept isolating servers before we had a chance to deploy it, so we thought to have some funny [sic]. We did a wiper attack instead,” one of the hackers said.

Zuckerberg Confirms FBI and Big Tech Collusion

Confirmation that the FBI and Big Tech colluded to suppress information during the election.

Zuckerberg said Facebook enacted a policy of ‘decreased distribution’ to deliberately push down the story on people’s newsfeeds to limit its reach, while Twitter went even further and banned the story from its platform.

 

The billionaire said: ‘I think it was five or seven days when it was basically being determined whether it was false. The distribution on Facebook was decreased, but people were still allowed to share it. So you could still share it. You could still consume it.’

 

Three weeks before the election, the New York Post revealed the sordid contents of Hunter’s laptop, showing compromising photos of the then presidential candidate’s son and his questionable business dealings implicating his father.

 

The huge cache of files, emails and photos was seen by many as a smoking gun that could have turned the tide in the election, but social media bosses at Facebook and Twitter minimized the story for unfounded fears it could be Russian misinformation.

 

DailyMail.com independently verified the laptop with a forensic analysis by top cyber experts and has been regularly publishing revelations ever since, while many other news outlets refused to touch the story.

 

But now, Zuckerberg has openly admitted how he tried to limit the electorate from accessing the stories in a terrifying insight into how easily democracy can be undermined by tech firms.

Space Force Deploys Robot Dogs

This is the start of a bad sci-fi horror flick.

The Space Force has conducted a demonstration using dog-like quadruped unmanned ground vehicles (Q-UGVs) for security patrols and other repetitive tasks. The demonstration used at least two Vision 60 Q-UGVs, or “robot dogs,” built by Ghost Robotics and took place at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on July 27 and 28.

According to a statement(opens in new tab) from the Department of Defense, Space Launch Delta 45 will use the robot dogs for “damage assessments and patrol to save significant man hours.” The unit is responsible for all space launch operations from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral.

A Ghost Robotics, Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle (Q-UGV) is operated during a demo for 45th Security Forces Squadron at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., July 28, 2022.

A Ghost Robotics, Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle (Q-UGV) is operated during a demo for 45th Security Forces Squadron at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., July 28, 2022. (Image credit: U.S. Space Force photo by Senior Airman Samuel Becker)

Hope for Cancer Cure?

It’s a small sample, but dare we hope?

A new colorectal cancer drug has shocked researchers with how effective it is against the highly dangerous disease, as it virtually cured it in every member of a clinical trial.

 

Dostarlimab, a monoclonal antibody drug, smashed expectations in a recent trial sponsored by pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

 

A year after the trial’s completion, each of the 18 participants had their disease go into complete remission, with doctors unable to find signs of the cancer in their body.

While the trial was small, it is game-changing, and sets up the drug as a potential cure for one of the most dangerous common cancers known.

Taxpayers Pay $65 Billion to Subsidize Internet Service for Millions

That’s $65 billion we don’t have, BTW. And we wonder why inflation is through the roof and the stock market is collapsing.

Monday’s news come largely thanks to $65 billion set aside for high speed internet in the Bipartisan Infrastructure law. That money has helped fund the ACP and is also being directed towards parallel efforts to increase coverage areas and speeds.

 

[…]

 

Families are eligible for the ACP mostly based on income level. Any household making less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level — $55,500 for a family of four in the continental U.S. — is eligible. Households can also qualify if they participate in certain government programs like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.

In the fine print, participants are agreeing to allow the federal government’s Ministry of Truth to filter their internet to eliminate disinformation. Just kidding… they already do that.

W Boson Mass Called into Question

Exciting.

The scientists at the Fermilab Collider Detector (CDF) in Illinois have found only a tiny difference in the mass of the W Boson compared with what the theory says it should be – just 0.1%. But if confirmed by other experiments, the implications are enormous. The so-called Standard Model of particle physics has predicted the behaviour and properties of sub-atomic particles with no discrepancies whatsoever for fifty years. Until now.

 

CDF’s other co-spokesperson, Prof Giorgio Chiarelli, from INFN Sezione di Pisa, told BBC News that the research team could scarcely believe their eyes when they saw the results.

 

“No-one was expecting this. We thought maybe we got something wrong.” But the researchers have painstakingly gone through their results and tried to look for errors. They found none.

 

The result, published in the journal Science, could be related to hints from other experiments at Fermilab and the Large Hadron Collider at the Swiss-French border. These, as yet unconfirmed results, also suggest deviations from the Standard Model, possibly as a result of an as yet undiscovered fifth force of nature at play.

 

Physicists have known for some time that the theory needs to be updated. It can’t explain the presence of invisible material in space, called Dark Matter, nor the continued accelerating expansion of the Universe by a force called Dark Energy. Nor can it explain gravity.

 

Dr Mitesh Patel of Imperial College, who works at the LHC, believes that if the Fermilab result is confirmed, it could be the first of many new results that could herald the biggest shift in our understanding of the Universe since Einstein’s theories of relativity more than a hundred years ago.

Nokia Helped Russia Spy on Enemies

If you think that the big tech companies in the U.S. aren’t doing the same work for the American government, you aren’t paying attention.

Nokia said this month that it would stop its sales in Russia and denounced the invasion of Ukraine. But the Finnish company didn’t mention what it was leaving behind: equipment and software connecting the government’s most powerful tool for digital surveillance to the nation’s largest telecommunications network.

 

The tool was used to track supporters of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Investigators said it had intercepted the phone calls of a Kremlin foe who was later assassinated. Called the System for Operative Investigative Activities, or SORM, it is also most likely being employed at this moment as President Vladimir Putin culls and silences anti-war voices inside Russia.

 

For more than five years, Nokia provided equipment and services to link SORM to Russia’s largest telecom service provider, MTS, according to company documents obtained by The New York Times. While Nokia does not make the tech that intercepts communications, the documents lay out how it worked with state-linked Russian companies to plan, streamline and troubleshoot the SORM system’s connection to the MTS network. Russia’s main intelligence service, the FSB, uses SORM to listen in on phone conversations, intercept emails and text messages, and track other internet communications.

Metaverse is Cesspool of Human Degeneracy

In other words, it’s just like the real world only people get to hide behind their avatars.

Some apps in the virtual-reality metaverse are “dangerous by design”, the NSPCC has warned in response to a BBC News investigation.

A researcher posing as a 13-year-old girl witnessed grooming, sexual material, racist insults and a rape threat in the virtual-reality world.

 

The children’s charity said it was “shocked and angry” at the findings.

 

Head of online child safety policy Andy Burrows added the investigation had found “a toxic combination of risks”.

 

The BBC News researcher – using an app with a minimum age rating of 13 – visited virtual-reality rooms where avatars were simulating sex. She was shown sex toys and condoms, and approached by numerous adult men.

 

The metaverse is the name given to games and experiences accessed by people wearing virtual reality headsets. The technology, previously confined to gaming, could be adapted for use in many other areas – from work to play, concerts to cinema trips.

Mark Zuckerberg thinks it could be the future of the internet – so much so, he recently rebranded Facebook as Meta, with the company investing billions developing its Oculus Quest headset.

NASA Wants to Replace ISS with Commercial Station

Agreed.

NASA’s auditing body, the Office of Audits, has produced a report detailing the agency’s commitment to replacing the International Space Station (ISS) with one or more commercial space stations once the orbiting lab is retired. Despite still being scheduled for 2024, all indications are that the ISS’s operational life will be extended to 2030, which is when the agency is assuming it’ll be able to hand off human occupation of an on-orbit science facility to a private company.

 

This audit basically details the current costs of maintenance and operation of the ISS, and also explains why it thinks that there will still be an essential need for a research facility that can provide a test bed for prolonged human exposure to space, as well as for development and demonstration of tech key to helping people explore deep space, including the establishment of a more permanent presence on the moon and exploration of Mars.

 

The conclusion is that NASA hopes to see a commercial station operation by 2028 in order to give a period of two years of overlap before the anticipated retirement and de-orbiting of the ISS. That timeline presents clear risks, however, in part because of “limited market demand, inadequate funding, unreliable costs estimates and still-evolving requirements.”

Xenobots Assemble!

Wow.

Scientists who created xenobots, the world’s first living robots, say the life forms are “the first-ever, self-replicating living robots.”

 

The tiny organisms were originally unveiled in 2020. The robots were assembled from heart and skin stem cells belonging to the African clawed frog. They can move independently for about a week before running out of energy, are self-healing and break down naturally.

 

The scientists from the University of Vermont, Tufts University and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering published research on Monday saying they discovered a new type of biological reproduction different from any other known plant or animal species, according to a press release published by the Wyss Institute.

 

“People have thought for quite a long time that we’ve worked out all the ways that life can reproduce or replicate. But this is something that’s never been observed before,” said Douglas Blackiston, Ph.D., a senior scientist at Tufts University and the Wyss Institute who worked on the study.

Peek Behind the Scenes of our Surveillance State

Lovely.

An Associated Press investigation in 2015 found that the FBI had built a fleet of at least 50 surveillance planes that flew more than 100 flights over 11 states during a one-month span in the spring of that year under the Obama administration. The AP traced the planes to at least 13 fake companies designed to obscure the identity of the aircraft and the pilots.

Pilots can shoot video of the scenes below them using standard cameras, infrared sensors that pick up body heat and light sensors with enough resolution to show building features, basic vehicle features and movements such as people walking or riding bicycles. The planes also can carry technology that mimics cellphone towers, enabling agencies to track people’s cellphones even if they’re not making a call or in public. Much of the technology was developed for use by the U.S. military in Iraq as part of a project dubbed Gorgon Stare after the mythical Greek monster that could turn men to stone with a glance.

Even if the video images are blurry, agencies can still use them in combination with other data to discover people’s identities.

Taliban Yes. Trump No.

Uh huh… you buy this?

At the same time, the ability of the Taliban and its supporters to operate substantially within the rules of companies such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has left Silicon Valley vulnerable to intensifying political crosscurrents: U.S. conservatives have been demanding to know why former president Donald Trump has been banned from Twitter while various Taliban figures have not.

 

The answer, analysts said, may simply be that Trump’s posts for years challenged platform rules against hate speech and inciting violence. Today’s Taliban, by and large, does not.

 

“The Taliban is clearly threading the needle regarding social media content policies and is not yet crossing the very distinct policy-violating lines that Trump crossed,” Katz said.

Major Outage Hits America

Another attack?

A major internet outage has affected the websites of major retail, financial, logistics  and travel websites, and appears to be affecting 911 services in several areas.

 

Down Detector, a service that detects whether websites are working properly or not, began reporting a series of outages shortly before 12 pm EST on Thursday.

 

Among the affected websites were US Bank, UPS, Fox News, American Airlines, AT&T, and Expedia.

JFC Approves Broadband Funding

This is dumb.

Republican committee members approved $125 million in borrowing for broadband expansion, along with $4 million over the biennium for broadband expansion grants.

Based on a standard 2.5% interest rate for a 20-year bond, the Republican proposal, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates the bonding will cost an additional $35 million in interest.

 

Evers proposed spending about $200 million over the biennium on broadband expansion efforts.

The state Public Service Commission first began awarding broadband expansion grants about eight years ago and has awarded a total of $78 million so far to 279 projects.

Three reasons it’s dumb:

  1. Why borrow the money and pay interest when there is available cash?
  2. Programs like this are built for corruption and graft. Let’s see… government handing out massive grants to select companies to build a commercially unviable infrastructure? Who is deciding the winners and losers in that discussion?
  3. While an argument can be made that it is in the public interest for the government to fund broadband expansion, technology is once again outpacing public policy. Ubiquitous broadband options like Starlink are getting close to viable and will likely be widely available before this infrastructure is built. Instead of giving a big corporation a grant for tens of millions of dollars to run fiber to a farmer in Shanagolden that will be available in four years, we could spend nothing and that same farmer might have gig service in a year anyway. I expect that we are about to lay a lot of fiber that will remain underutilized forever.

Commercial Air Travel Returns to Supersonic

What is interesting about this is not the technology. We have had the technology for supersonic commercial air travel for decades (yes, I did ride on the Concorde once as a child). What is interesting is that this seems to be an indication that United, at least, believes that the commercial model of air travel is changing.

The commercial air travel market has been squeezed to the bottom for some time. While everybody says they want more space, more luxuries, faster transits, and more direct flights, there just haven’t been enough people willing to pay for it for airlines to sustain a high-end model. United’s move seems to indicate that they think that the high-end air travel market may be sustainable enough in the future to make supersonic flights commercially viable again.

US airline United has announced plans to buy 15 new supersonic airliners and “return supersonic speeds to aviation” in the year 2029.

Supersonic passenger flights ended in 2003 when Air France and British Airways retired Concorde.

 

The new Overture aircraft will be produced by a Denver-based company called Boom, which has yet to flight-test a supersonic jet.

United’s deal is conditional on the new aircraft meeting safety standards.

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