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    - Is Computer History Also a History of Physical Pains?
    "Decades before "Zoom fatigue" broke our spirits, the so-called computer revolution brought with it a world of pain previously unknown to humankind," argues Laine Nooney (in a condensed version of a chapter in the 2022 book Abstractions and Embodiments: New Histories of Computing and Society.) Slashdot reader em1ly shares its observation that "There was really no precedent in our history of media interaction for what the combination of sitting and looking at a computer monitor did to the human body..." Forty years later, what started with simple complaints about tired eyes has become commonplace experience for anyone whose work or school life revolves around a screen. The aches and pains of computer use now play an outsized role in our physical (and increasingly, our mental) health, as the demands of remote work force us into constant accommodation. We stretch our wrists and adjust our screens, pour money into monitor arms and ergonomic chairs, even outfit our offices with motorized desks that can follow us from sitting to standing to sitting again. Entire industries have built their profits on our slowly curving backs, while physical therapists and chiropractors do their best to stem a tide of bodily dysfunction that none of us opted into. These are, at best, partial measures, and those who can't afford extensive medical interventions or pricey furniture remain cramped over coffee tables or fashioning makeshift laptop raisers. Our bodies, quite literally, were never meant to work this way... As both desktop computers and networked terminals proliferated in offices, schools, and homes over the 1980s, chronic pain became their unanticipated remainder: wrist pain, vision problems, and back soreness grew exponentially... To consider the history of computing through the lens of computer pain is to center bodies, users, and actions over and above hardware, software, and inventors. This perspective demands computer history to engage with a world beyond the charismatic object of computers themselves, with material culture, with design history, with workplace ethnography, with leisure studies... This is not the history of killer apps, wild hacks, and the coding wizards who stayed up late, but something far quieter and harder to trace, histories as intimate as they are "unhistoric": histories of habit, use, and making do. That pain in your neck, the numbness in your fingers, has a history far more widespread and impactful than any individual computer or computing innovator. No single computer changed the world, but computer pain has changed us all... [T]he next time you experience "tired eyes," wrists tingling, neck cramps, or even the twinge of text neck, let it serve as a denaturalizing reminder that the function of technology has never been to make our lives easier, but only to complicate us in new ways. Computer-related pain, and the astounding efforts humans went to (and continue to, go to), to alleviate it, manage it, and negotiate it, provide one thread through the question of how the computer became personal. The introduction of computers into everyday routines, both at work and at home, was a historic site of vast cultural anxiety around the body.

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    - Russia Races to Beat Tom Cruise and NASA With First Movie Filmed in Space
    Which country will shoot the first movie in outer space? Russia is now "in a race with the United States to claim the achievement," reports NBC News. 36-year-old actress Yulia Peresild and 37-year-old director Klim Shepenko will complete Russia's cosmonaut-training program, ultimately taking two of the three seats aboard the October launch of Russia's Soyuz mission to the International Space Station: The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, announced Thursday that it had selected its crew to headline the film, which will be called "Challenge..." Very little is known about the plot, which in many ways seems secondary to the spectacle. When Russia announced the project last year, Konstantin Ernst, the head of Russia's Channel One — which is working with Roscosmos on the film — said that it would not be a science fiction film, but a realistic depiction of near-term space travel. "It's a movie about how a person in no way connected with space exploration, due to various reasons and personal debt, ends up a month later in orbit," Ernst said in a September 2020 interview. "That's all I can tell you...." The decision to fill the October Soyuz flight with a movie crew comes at an uncertain time for Russia's space program... In October, NASA paid for its final flight aboard Soyuz... Russia is now left to look for other means to help subsidize launch costs. One of those obvious sources — beyond funding from the state television network Channel One — is space tourism. Another Soyuz will launch in December, and rather than fill those seats with Russian cosmonauts, Moscow announced Thursday that two Japanese space tourists will take the ride.

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    - Three Students Sue Lambda School Alleging False Advertising
    Lambda School -- incubated at Y Combinator -- raised $130 million in venture funding from several investors including Google Ventures. Its original business model involved six-month virtual computer science courses for $30,000, remembers TechCrunch, "with the option of paying for the courses in installments based on a sliding scale that only kicks in after you land a job that makes at least $50,000." But this week three former students "filed lawsuits against the company in California, claiming misleading financial and educational practices." The suits — which are being brought by the nonprofit National Student Legal Defense Network on behalf of Linh Nguyen, Heather Nye and Jonathan Stickrod — go back to a period of between 2018 and 2020, and they focus on four basic claims. First, that Lambda School falsified and misrepresented job placement rates. Second, that Lambda School misrepresented the true nature of its financial interest in student success (specifically, there are question marks over how Lambda handles its Income-Share Agreement contracts and whether it benefits from those). Third, that it misrepresented and concealed a regulatory dispute in California that required the school to cease operations. And fourth, that it enrolled and provided educational services and signed Income-Share Agreement contracts in violation of that order... Some of the issues that are raised in the lawsuits have also been resolved since then. For example, the prominent display of over 80% of students finding jobs can no longer be found on the Lambda site, and in California you no longer get an Income-Share Agreement but a retail installment contract (similar but different). But as is the way of litigation, lawsuits based on past issues from people who were impacted by them when they were still active, are, in many ways, the next logical, unsurprising step.

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    - 'How Lies on Social Media Are Inflaming the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict'
    The New York Times reports on misinformation that's further inflaming the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: In a 28-second video, which was posted to Twitter this week by a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip appeared to launch rocket attacks at Israelis from densely populated civilian areas. At least that is what Mr. Netanyahu's spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, said the video portrayed. But his tweet with the footage, which was shared hundreds of times as the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis escalated, was not from Gaza. It was not even from this week. Instead, the video that he shared, which can be found on many YouTube channels and other video-hosting sites, was from 2018. And according to captions on older versions of the video, it showed militants firing rockets not from Gaza but from Syria or Libya. The video was just one piece of misinformation that has circulated on Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media this week about the rising violence between Israelis and Palestinians, as Israeli military ground forces attacked Gaza early on Friday. The false information has included videos, photos and clips of text purported to be from government officials in the region, with posts baselessly claiming early this week that Israeli soldiers had invaded Gaza, or that Palestinian mobs were about to rampage through sleepy Israeli suburbs. The lies have been amplified as they have been shared thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook, spreading to WhatsApp and Telegram groups that have thousands of members, according to an analysis by The New York Times. The effect of the misinformation is potentially deadly, disinformation experts said, inflaming tensions between Israelis and Palestinians when suspicions and distrust have already run high.

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    - Cloudflare Wants To Kill the CAPTCHA
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Cloudflare is testing out the possibility of security keys replacing one of the most irritating aspects of web browsing: the CAPTCHA. CAPTCHAs are used to catch out bots that are trawling websites and are often implemented to prevent online services from being abused. "CAPTCHAs are effectively businesses putting friction in front of their users, and as anyone who has managed a high-performing online business will tell you, it's not something you want to do unless you have no choice," Cloudflare says. To highlight the amount of time lost to these tests, Cloudflare said that based on calculations of an average of 32 seconds to complete a CAPTCHA, one test being performed every 10 days, and 4.6 billion internet users worldwide, roughly "500 human years [are] wasted every single day -- just for us to prove our humanity." On Thursday, Cloudflare research engineer Thibault Meunier said in a blog post that the company was "launching an experiment to end this madness" and get rid of CAPTCHAs completely. The means to do so? Using security keys as a way to prove we are human. According to Meunier, Cloudflare is going to start with trusted security keys -- such as the YubiKey range, HyperFIDO keys, and Thetis FIDO U2F keys -- and use these physical authentication devices as a "cryptographic attestation of personhood." This is how it works: A user is challenged on a website, the user clicks a button along the lines of "I am human," and is then prompted to use a security device to prove themselves. A hardware security key is then plugged into their PC or tapped on a mobile device to provide a signature -- using wireless NFC in the latter example -- and a cryptographic attestation is then sent to the challenging website. Cloudflare says the test takes no more than three clicks and an average of five seconds -- potentially a vast improvement on the CAPTCHA's average of 32 seconds. You can access cloudflarechallenge.com to try out the system.

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    - AI Tool Writes Real Estate Descriptions Without Ever Stepping Inside a Home
    A Canadian startup called Listing AI is using AI to quickly churn out computer-generated descriptions of real estate. All users need to do is give it some details about the home, and the AI does the rest. CNN reports: "L O V E L Y Oakland!" the house description began. It went on to give a slew of details about the 1,484 square-foot home -- light-filled, charming, Mediterranean-style, with a yard that "boasts lush front landscaping" -- and finished by describing the "cozy fireplace" and "rustic-chic" pressed tin ceiling in the living room. The results still need work: The real-life Oakland, California, home that fits with the above description (which my family is currently selling) actually has a pressed tin ceiling in the dining room, rather than the living room, for instance. The descriptions Listing AI created for me are not nearly as specific or well-written as the one crafted by our (human) realtor. And I had to provide the website with a lot of information about different rooms and features of the house and the outdoor landscaping -- a process that felt a bit like real-estate Mad Libs -- before the website was able to come up with several different descriptions. But the general coherence of the descriptions that Listing AI proposed within seconds of my submission provides yet another sign that AI is getting better at a task that was traditionally seen as uniquely human -- and shows how people may be able to work with the technology, rather than fearing it may replace us. It probably won't do all the work of writing a house description for you, but according to Listing AI co-founder Mustafa Al-Hayali, that's not the point. He hopes it will complete about 80% to 90% of the work for coming up with a home description, which may be completed by a realtor or a copy writer. "I don't believe it's meant to replace a person when it comes to completing a task, but it's supposed to make their job a whole lot easier," Al-Hayali told CNN Business. "It can generate ideas you can use." The information used in the app is processed by GPT-3, an AI model from nonprofit research company OpenAI. According to MIT Technology Review, GPT-3 could herald a new type of search engine.

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    - Australia Breaks Major Record For New Solar Panel Roof Installations
    Solar panel installations in 2020 were up nearly 30 percent from the year before, breaking its own record for the number of solar panels installed in a year. ScienceAlert reports: The data, compiled by energy efficiency experts and reported in a CSIRO statement, come from Australia's Clean Energy Regulator, a national body tasked with reducing the country's carbon emissions and accelerating its use of clean energy. "Sustained low technology costs, increased work from home arrangements and a shift in household spending to home improvements during COVID-19 played a key role in the increase of rooftop solar PV systems under the SRES," said Clean Energy Regulator senior executive Mark Williamson, referring to a national scheme in Australia that allows homeowners and small businesses to recoup some of the costs of putting the panels on their roofs. Data used in the CSIRO analysis from Australia's federal Clean Energy Regulator showed that in 2020, a record-high 362,000 solar panels were installed and certified under the scheme for small-scale renewables. At the year's end, Australia had a total of over 2.68 million rooftop solar systems on homes - which means one in four households are now soaking up sunlight and converting it to electricity.

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    - China Lands Its First Rover On Mars
    China just successfully landed its first rover on Mars, becoming only the second nation to do so. Space.com reports: The Tianwen-1 mission, China's first interplanetary endeavor, reached the surface of the Red Planet Friday (May 14) at approximately 7:11 p.m. EDT (2311 GMT), though Chinese space officials have not yet confirmed the exact time and location of touchdown. Tianwen-1 (which translates to "Heavenly Questions") arrived in Mars' orbit in February after launching to the Red Planet on a Long March 5 rocket in July 2020. After circling the Red Planet for more than three months, the Tianwen-1 lander, with the rover attached, separated from the orbiter to begin its plunge toward the planet's surface. Once the lander and rover entered Mars' atmosphere, the spacecraft endured a similar procedure to the "seven minutes of terror" that NASA's Mars rovers have experienced when attempting soft landings on Mars. A heat shield protected the spacecraft during the fiery descent, after which the mission safely parachuted down to the Utopia Planitia region, a plain inside of an enormous impact basin in the planet's northern hemisphere. Much like during NASA's Perseverance rover landing, Tianwen-1's landing platform fired some small, downward-facing rocket engines to slow down during the last few seconds of its descent. China's Mars rover, called Zhurong after an ancient fire god in Chinese mythology, will part ways with the lander by driving down a foldable ramp. Once it has deployed, the rover is expected to spend at least 90 Mars days (or about 93 Earth days; a day on Mars lasts about 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth) roving around on Mars to study the planet's composition and look for signs of water ice. Utopia Planitia is believed to contain vast amounts of water ice beneath the surface. It's also where NASA's Viking 2 mission touched down in 1976.

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    - Climate Emissions Shrinking the Stratosphere, Scientists Reveal
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Humanity's enormous emissions of greenhouse gases are shrinking the stratosphere, a new study has revealed. The thickness of the atmospheric layer has contracted by 400 meters since the 1980s, the researchers found, and will thin by about another kilometer by 2080 without major cuts in emissions. The changes have the potential to affect satellite operations, the GPS navigation system and radio communications. The stratosphere extends from about 20km to 60km above the Earth's surface. Below is the troposphere, in which humans live, and here carbon dioxide heats and expands the air. This pushes up the lower boundary of the stratosphere. But, in addition, when CO2 enters the stratosphere it actually cools the air, causing it to contract. The shrinking stratosphere is a stark signal of the climate emergency and the planetary-scale influence that humanity now exerts, according to Juan Anel, at the University of Vigo, Ourense in Spain and part of the research team. "It is shocking," he said. "This proves we are messing with the atmosphere up to 60 kilometers." The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, reached its conclusions using the small set of satellite observations taken since the 1980s in combination with multiple climate models, which included the complex chemical interactions that occur in the atmosphere. "It may affect satellite trajectories, orbital life-times, and retrievals [...] the propagation of radio waves, and eventually the overall performance of the Global Positioning System and other space-based navigational systems," the researchers said.

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    - Mammals Can Breathe Through Their Intestines
    fahrbot-bot shares a report from Gizmodo: When pressed for oxygen, some fish and sea cucumbers will use their lower intestines to get a little extra out of their environment. Now, a team of Japanese researchers say that mammals are also capable of respirating through their rectal cavity, at least in a lab setting. The team's research is published today in the journal Med and describes the capacity for mice, rats, and pigs to survive longer and have more strength in low-oxygen circumstances when given oxygen gas or an oxygen-rich liquid through their rectums, in a process similar to an enema. While fish like loaches and catfish use a similar method to gain additional oxygen in the natural world, this doesn't appear to be an evolutionary adaptation for mammals. In other words, mammalian bodies can't naturally do this, but with a little push from modern science, it becomes possible. Previous research has seen oxygen injected directly into mammalian bloodstreams, prolonging the lives of rabbits, but the rectal approach to the low-oxygen problem is novel. The experiment, while disturbing, was designed to find new ways to save the lives of people whose lungs are failing. These treatments prolonged the animals' survival in a low-oxygen setting by staving off respiratory failure. Mice were given both the gas and liquid oxygen delivery methods, while the rats and pigs only received the liquid treatment. In a lab-controlled hypoxic setting (a chamber that was 9.5% oxygenated), mice without the supplemental oxygenation died after about 11 minutes. With the treatment, three-quarters of the tested mice survived for nearly an hour in the same lethal conditions. ScienceAlert adds these details: Initially, their research subjects were mice, who were thankfully anesthetized for the next part. The researchers developed an oxygen ventilation system to be inserted anally; they induced hypoxia via tracheal intubation, and compared mice ventilated intestinally to control mice who received no ventilation. Of the control mice, not a single one survived longer than 11 minutes. This was in marked contrast to the mice receiving intestinal oxygen, 75 percent of which survived for 50 minutes.

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    - Apple Patents a Way To Deliver 3D Content Without 3D Glasses
    Apple has patented the ability to deliver 3D content to devices like the iPhone, iPad and Macs without requiring 3D glasses. From a report: The company recently filed a patent with the heading of "Split-screen driving of electronic device displays." And the tech it describes means that flat screens on smartphones and tablets will be able to show an image in 3D without the viewer having to wear any glasses or VR headset. The idea is that iPhone and iPad screen will be able to display two different images simultaneously, in a way that will fool your brain into seeing a three-dimensional image. Yes, there are already devices that do this, but the patent notes that existing methods are "problematic," stating: "it can be difficult to provide this type of content on a multi-function device such as a smartphone or a tablet without generating visible artifacts such as motion blur, luminance offsets, or other effects which can be unpleasant or even dizzying to a viewer." The rest of the patent application goes into a great deal of depth about how Apple plans to resolve these problems, and create a smooth 3D viewing experience on a flat screen without the need for glasses. This is gets hugely technical, but starts from the notion that the screen switches between left and right sides of an image via alternating pixel rows. The patent is also quite vague about how this will all work on a practical level. It doesn't state, for example, what angle viewers will need to position their iPhone or iPad at to get the effect. But it does show that Apple is serious about developing this tech, and has put some proper thought into it.

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    - A Toshiba Business Unit Says It Has Been Attacked By Hacking Group DarkSide
    A division of Toshiba said in a statement on Friday that its European business has been hit by a cyberattack by cyber criminal group DarkSide, which is the same group that the U.S. FBI blamed for the Colonial Pipeline attack. According to a Toshiba spokesperson, the attack occurred the evening of May 4. CNBC reports: The Toshiba unit, which sells self-checkout technology and point-of-sale systems to retailers, told CNBC that it has not paid a ransom. "They required money, but we didn't contact them and didn't pay any money," a spokesperson said. Toshiba Tec said that a "minimal" amount of work data was stolen in a ransomware attack. No leaks of the data have been detected so far and protective measures were put in place after the cyber-attack, the company said. Further reading: Darkside Ransomware Gang Says It Lost Control of Its Servers, Money a Day After Biden Threat

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    - TSMC Is Considering a 3nm Foundry In Arizona
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Reuters reports that TSMC -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the chip foundry making advanced processors for Apple, AMD, and Qualcomm -- is beefing up its plans to build factories in Arizona while turning away from an advanced plant in Europe. Last year, TSMC announced that it would invest $10-$12 billion to build a new 5 nm capable foundry near Phoenix, Arizona. According to Reuters' sources, TSMC officials are considering trebling the company's investment by building a $25 billion second factory capable of building 3 nm chips. More tentative plans are in the works for 2 nm foundries as the Phoenix campus grows over the next 10-15 years as well. TSMC's focus on the US rather than Europe may have a lot to do with the company's market -- in Q1 2021, 67 percent of its sales were in North America, 17 percent were in Asia Pacific, and only 6 percent came from Europe and the Middle East. The majority of TSMC's European clients are auto manufacturers who buy cheaper and less-advanced chips.

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    - 'I Made Doge In Like Two Hours': Dogecoin Creator Says He 'Didn't Consider' Environmental Impact
    One of the creators of dogecoin has noted that he "didn't consider" the environmental impact of the cryptocurrency, which was initially created as a joke. The Independent reports: The comments from Billy Markus, one of the people who helped create dogecoin in the first place, when it was intended partly as a joke, came in response to a tweet from Elon Musk. Mr Musk had been attempting to clarify his position on cryptocurrency generally, in the wake of his statement about Tesla. "To be clear, I strongly believe in crypto, but it can't drive a massive increase in fossil fuel use, especially coal," Mr Musk had written. In response, Mr Markus sent a crying face emoji, which he later clarified he had meant to indicate "aw man, you right, environment stuff." In reply to that, Mr Markus was asked whether he had considered energy usage when creating the cryptocurrency. "i made doge in like 2 hours i didn't consider anything," he wrote. Dogecoin was created in 2013, in reference to the meme and to poke fun at the vast numbers of cryptocurrencies that had been launched. But Mr Markus helped build the technical foundations that allow it to practically work, too. Like bitcoin, dogecoin requires miners to undertake complex cryptographical puzzles to create new bitcoins. That system, known as proof-of-work, relies on large amounts of computing power that use considerable amounts of energy, much of which is generated from fossil fuels.

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    - 'Scheme Flooding' Technique May Be Used To Deanonymize You
    sandbagger shares a report from The Register: FingerprintJS, maker of a browser-fingerprinting library for fraud prevention, on Thursday said it has identified a more dubious fingerprinting technique capable of generating a consistent identifier across different desktop browsers, including the Tor Browser. Konstantin Darutkin, senior software engineer at FingerprintJS, said in a blog post that the company has dubbed the privacy vulnerability "scheme flooding." The name refers to abusing custom URL schemes, which make web links like "skype://" or "slack://" prompt the browser to open the associated application. "The scheme flooding vulnerability allows an attacker to determine which applications you have installed," explains Darutkin. "In order to generate a 32-bit cross-browser device identifier, a website can test a list of 32 popular applications and check if each is installed or not." Visiting the schemeflood.com site using a desktop (not mobile) browser and clicking on the demo will generate a flood of custom URL scheme requests using a pre-populated list of likely apps. A browser user would typically see a pop-up permission modal window that says something like, "Open Slack.app? A website wants to open this application. [canel] [Open Slack.app]." But in this case, the demo script just cancels if the app is present or reads the error as confirmation of the app's absence. It then displays the icon of the requested app if found, and moves on to its next query. The script uses each app result as a bit to calculate the identifier. The fact that the identifier remains consistent across different browsers means that cross-browser tracking is possible, which violates privacy expectations.

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